Tuesday, October 30, 2007

School Days

I haven't written too much about our homeschool time. This is our third year "officially" homeschooling. Every year I have a distinct plan that I want to follow, and so far it's never gone as I planned. In 2005, I had no idea how the adoption process and fundraising was going to consume my time. Last year, I didn't plan on the transition of adding Lily to our family being so difficult. And this year, well, I've started babysitting for a four-month-old little boy, and his kindergartener brother, whom I must pick up from school, and Lily has speech therapy that takes us away from the house eight hours a week. In addition, I'm tutorting at least 2 hours, sometimes 3 hours, a week and now leading a women's prayer group on Thursday evenings.

Never is there a day that I can sit down with my kids and "do school" for several hours in a row a day.

Now some of you may be thinking that I'm doing my school-aged kids a true disservice. And daily I DO have to evaluate how I can efficiently and effectively help them to reach their fullest potential. We do a lot of reading. We work on math and science and history. We listen to classical music and identify instruments while we're doing art. They memorize Bible verses for AWANA, and set and reach goals in a timely way. They are sociable, polite, respectful, imaginative, active, reflective, curious, hopeful, eager learners.

I think they're doing great. That is the beauty of homeschooling. Not only can I arrange my schedule around their schooling, but I can arrange their schooling around, and through, our life as a family. Family life becomes part of the classroom. Society is only as strong as its family units, and not only am I strenthening our own family, but I'm raising my children to invest in their own families and to invest in others' families as well, in addition to building their worldview in a safe, nurturing environment. Don't misunderstand: I don't want my children to be sheltered in a bubble. I want to them to observe and experience and participate in life they way that God intended. Jesus came so that we could have life and HAVE IT ABUNDANTLY. That is what we want for our kids. And that is what my goal when I approach homeschooling.

So there's a little bit of my homeschooling philosphy. Only a fraction of it, and it also changes and grows and deepens and develops as I teach my children.

Here are a few pictures I have of them doing school. We are studying ancient Egypt and learning how to tell time right now. Also, Caleb is reading a book about pioneer days. Seth and Lily are mastering their ABC's and learning some phonics...all through reading and play. And maybe Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fasnacht Family Fun Friday

My days are FULL! We have so much going on, and I'm struggling to keep you updated regularly. I decided not to feel guilty but to just do what I can.

Life is hard right now, but I'm only chronicling the good stuff. And later, maybe much later, I'll have more good stuff to share, and I'll begin it with, "Look at how God worked in this difficult situation!"

A couple of weeks ago, I felt spontaneous, and declared that day, "Fasnacht Family Fun Friday." Unfortunately the head Fasnacht still had to work without too much fun, but the kids and I spent the day thinking up as many fun things to do (cheaply) as we could.

We started off, after Lily's morning speech therapy session, heading to a state park nearby called Russ Forest. It has several trails, and we walked through the maze of paths for an hour and half!!! before we ended up at the play ground. Okay, so the last half hour of that walk was less than fun for my tired crew, but we truly enjoyed the dark, damp, earthy beauty of the autumn woods, and we scaled fallen trees, fashioned walking sticks for each of us, fought off a couple of aliens (very odd trees/stumps/clumps of earth/etc.who looked like they were up to no good) with our walking sticks-turned-swords, threw rocks into the creek, and played "Pooh sticks" off the bridge. I had forgotten my camera, so the memories of that forest adventure will have to remain burned on my heart alone.

Then we headed back home for lunch.

On the way home, I passed a sign for a lovely place called Butler's Tree Farm, and they boasted hayrides and pumpkin patches. I'd never been there before, but it's only about 2 miles from my house. We went home and ate a comforting lunch of peanut butter toast and homemade hot chocolate. Then I grabbed the camera and we headed back out to the pumpkin patch. They all loved it. Me, too.

Rob came home and we had a relaxing, enjoyable dinner. (Which is quite the accomplishment with two toddlers.) Then we watched a family movie, snuggled up together under blankets on the couch.

We all had a BLAST, and we were refreshed and rejuvenated, and Caleb and Gabe declared that Fasnacht Family Fun Friday was the best day ever, and could we please have another one next week?

Well, maybe not every Friday, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next one, too.

Russ Forest Trails Adventure: Free
Hot chocolate and peanut butter toast: Almost Free
Hayride, Pumpkin Patch, Petting Zoo, HUGE family pumpkin: $10
Movie, blankets, cuddling: Free
"Mom, this was the Best Day Ever!": Priceless

November is Adoption Awareness Month

Please, please, please is there anyone out there who could bring this little girl home??? She is SO, SO cute, and look what a happy toddler she is!

Here is a little bit about this little one, born on 12/20/2004 and found on New Year's Eve in Guilin, Guanxi Province, China:

"She was found next to a lottery post near Fuli Hospital in Guilin City on December 31, 2004. Officials were unable to locate her parents and family; she was declared an abandoned infant and taken to the SWI with the permission of Guilin City Civil Welfare Office. She has been living with a foster family since April 25, 2005. She likes cartoons as well as the weekly Peking Opera program, she loves music. She loves to go out to railroad club, fresh market, supermarket, and to parks with her foster mother everyday. She loves eggs and flour products. In September 2005 she had cleft lip surgery and had her cleft palate surgery in 2006 . She can sing children songs and can count to 20 with help. She likes to meet people and loves to play outside. She eats well and sleeps well. She has normal lab tests and up to date vaccines. (Info dated 4/2/2007)"

She is listed with Christian World Adoption, and the link to her photolisting is:


By the way, both Asher and Lisa have found their forever families! Hooray! Now I need to find one for this precious sweetie...

Thursday, October 18, 2007


October is one of my favorite months. I even love the way the name October rolls off the tongue into the autumn air and is then whisked away by the curt breeze along with the swirling leaves. October holds tons of birthdays for my family, including my mom, Rob, Seth, my dad, Rob's brother Ryan, our nieces Emmaly and JoAnna, and our nephew Nathaniel.

October has held her share of broken heartedness as well.

On Sunday, one of my friends passed away after a long, difficult battle with cancer. She was only 55. Yesterday was her funeral. She was a faithful believer, and I'm so thankful that she is no longer suffering. Still, we miss her.

October is also the anniversary of the deaths of my best friend and sister-in-law, Erica and her daughter, my niece, MiKayla. Eleven years ago on October 4th, God allowed a horrific car accident to take them to Himself, leaving my brother, age 18, a widower and single father to 10-month-old Ralphie. I once thought that the pain of that day would never dull, but I have to be honest...it has. God hasn't taken it away completely, nor would I want Him to. Pain helps you to remember, and I never want to forget.

What He has done is poured heaps of comfort and joy onto our hearts, renewed His promises and hope and given us great things to look forward to. Like when I get to the place God has prepared for me, after I've seen Jesus with my own eyes and touched him--I hope I'm allowed to touch him--then I have the biggest hugs and brightest smiles stored up inside me for Erica and Mikayla. We'll have a lot of catching up to do! And God brought to my brother and newphew new hope and new love and family through my sister-in-law. He is a good God.

For the longest time, October 4th was a day I loathed. Especially the first few years. I would find a newspaper article or magazine that was published before the accident, like October 1st, and think, "When this came out, Erica and Mikayla were alive." It was a long road of healing.

And then God, in His perfect wisdom and comfort, saw to it that Seth was born on October 4th, totally redeeming that day for me. Take one look at him, and you see one thing: JOY. It bubbles out of him relentlessly. Even when he is being contentious, God fills me to brimming with joy because of this child. So on his birthday every year, I don't think about what I'm missing; I think about, with great joy and gratitude, all that God has lavished on us.

Some joyful Seth stories:

***We reminded all our children yesterday that they must be very quiet at the funeral. Upon entering the building a mortician greeted us solemnly, and Seth put his finger to his lips at the man and scolded, "SHHHHHH!"

***This week Seth had to have a ECKO to monitor a heart murmur recently detected, which required him to lie still for 45 LONG minutes. The radiologist put on a movie for him and then leaned over him to adjust the electrodes attached to his chest. He stuck out a little foot and tapped her in the booty and told her, "Move!" as she was blocking the television. I was mortified. I corrected him, "No, Seth, if someone's in your way, you say, 'Excuse me, please.'" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "She already move," and went back to his movie.

***Like many toddlers, Seth points with his middle finger. recently he pointed at me with his middle finger and said, "My magic finger! Take that!" And then he waved it at me like a magic wand. (Why a magic finger? Your guess is as good as mine.") We were of course at the grocery store surrounded by parents who wonder about my personal integrity.

And this year, Seth turned 3!!! Three is so big! And boy, does Seth think he's big stuff! We had a very full day on his birthday with Lily's speech therapy and then AWANA, but I planned fun for him throughout the day, and I think he enjoyed it. It's very hard for us to have big birthday parties for our kids, because we live so far away from family and many of our friends. But I love the memories that we are creating within our family unit as well. (And hey, with this many children, every day is a party!)

Here are some images celebrating Seth:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

They say it's your birthday

Today is Rob's birthday.

The very first of his birthdays we celebrated together while we were "just friends," he hinted to me that Tori Amos was coming to town, and it happened to be the weekend of his birthday. I was lucky enough to score a couple of tickets, and we spent a great evening together reveling in the soul-touching beauty of live music.

I wish we could spend every one of his birthdays like that. We couldn't go back to those days of sweet, newly blossoming romance, leaning towards one another, knees touching, hearts pounding along with the piano, meeting his eyes at a particularly captivating stanza to enjoy it together, wondering what God had in store for each of us, and PLEASE, God, could it include this wonderful man beside me?

But I wouldn't for a minute trade the new, baby flower blossum of our early relationship for the gorgeous,fragrant, hardy yet delicate flower that is our marriage today. How could I have gotten so lucky to be paired forever with this guy? He is my absolute favorite person in the entire world. He is smart, funny, kind and thoughtful. He's a level-headed visionary, a foundational revolutionist and oppression's oppressor. He refuses to be told what to think or how to feel, yet his mind and heart are not proud, but humbly teachable, allowing the truth of God's Word to mold him to think and feel what God would have him to think and feel. He is a wonderful husband, an amazing father and a faithful friend. And...he's great-looking to boot. The man makes my heart sing! I thank God every day for the privilege of being his wife. (Even the days we don't see eye to eye!)

Happy Birthday, Love!