Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting Real: Our Decision to Public School Pt. 1

This is the last day of Big Brother and Sweet Pea's first week of school.  Last year we shared our decision to homeschool Sweet Pea (you can read about that here and here).  When I shared it I thought for sure we would be homeschooling again for Kindergarten.  In fact, Kindergarten was the one year Tony and I were 100% positive we would homeschool when we had children that age.  We weren't big fans of full day school for five year olds and Common Core seemed to cement that decision.  Yet, here we are, a fully public school family.

Last year, about a month into the school year I watched a mom linger as her son ran to his line at school.  She turned to me and said, "it's just so hard to let him go."  I smiled but inside I was judging her (I know, I know....BIG mistake).  I mean here I was sending three kids to school, was it that big of a deal?  Why did she find it so hard?  Certainly a month later she was beyond this, right?

I thought the first day would be hard with Sweet Pea.  I would cry, she would be a bit shy, then we would move on with life.  As my little girl stood like an expert in line, barely turning to wave (the wave was to the adults in general, she didn't even care where I was), I was nothing but happy.  She was excited, this is what she needed.  But then day two came around and suddenly it dawned on me, a school day is really long.  This isn't going to stop at day one.  She is going to be gone for most of the day, five days a week.

Suddenly I find myself wanting to be that mom from last year.  I wanted to linger just a bit, because this IS hard.  I just want to spend one more minute watching her, enjoying being her mom.

And even though this is hard, I have also been blown away by thankfulness.

I'm thankful that this decision was based solely on what was best for our family.  We didn't have to take into account bad school districts or horrible teachers.

I'm thankful my kids go to a school that tries to give these kids an awesome education with teachers who love and invest in them, despite diminishing budgets.  I'm thankful that each of my kids got incredible teachers, and I don't have to worry about what they will be taught all day.

I'm thankful for a small conservative town that holds pretty true to Christian beliefs.  I'm not worried about the movies my kids will watch or the amount of foul language they hear. Or many other things.

I'm thankful for this opportunity for our entire family.

I'm thankful my kids love school and are doing well in it.

Mostly I'm thankful for a God who walks me through even the hard times, even the lonely times.  Who watches over my children at school.  Who desires His best for each of us.

Next week I will talk about the WHY behind our decision.  But until then what does your children's schooling look like this year?  What are you thankful for as the year begins?

Monday, August 11, 2014

California and a Wedding

What gets my whole family out of the midwest and into sunny Califonia, why a wedding of course.  My oldest brother got married this summer to one amazing woman.  I'm so excited that she is part of our family.  God definetely brought these two together.

Sweet Pea, Baby Girl, and I headed out with my family for a week of fun, relaxation, and memories.  We visited the beach, walked around Downtown Disney, swam at the house we rented out, and enjoyed the new landscape. 

Of course, the highlight of the whole week was the wedding.  It was a beautiful God centered wedding followed by a fun dance filled reception.  The girls and I made so many memories.  I'm so thankful that we got to be their for my brothers big day.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday Big Brother

Dear Big Brother,

Today is your big day.  It is such a joy and privilege to watch you grow up.  I'm honored that this is the 3rd birthday I get to spend with you.

You have done and overcome so much this past year.  You have learned to succeed in the classroom.  You have discovered you are quit the Mathematician.  You have taught and played many bored games with your Grandparents, us, your siblings, babysitters (just about anybody who will sit down and play with you).  You've been part of a team.  You've finished an Awana book and then finished it again.  You've made good, close friends.  We are so proud of you for all of it.

You have quit a hill to overcome.  I know it's not going to be easy but each year you climb more then the year before!  You are going to be quit an extraordinary young man.  We are blessed that we get to be the ones to watch you do it!

I know you have many questions about your birth mom.  I feel so inadequate trying to answer all of them.  I wish I could be everything you need in a mom.  I wish I could have held you as an infant and sang to you.  Or been there in your scariest, darkest moment to reassure you everything would be okay.  Even though I wasn't there for the past, I want you to know that Dad and I are going to be here for all the exciting things in the future.  We will cheer you on through many sporting events and enjoy every concert.  We will cheer as you get your drivers license and cry when you graduate from high school.  We can't wait to spend every moment of it with you as our son.

I love you.  I hope your day is a wonderful one and I hope you have a great 8th year.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Concerning Foster Care: Ethnecity

If you are going into Foster Care you have to answer many questions regarding the types of children you are willing to take.  Everything from their age and gender to their race and amount of needs.  A child's race or ethecity seemed like an easy question to answer.  However, looking back I realize how naive I was.  My heart and reality were not the same age.  I'm not saying we made the wrong decision when we said yes to four bi-racial children, we didn't.  I do, however, wish I had been a little more aware of my world.
If you are trying to answer the question of what ethenicity of a child is a good fit for your home here are some questions to think over.

What will that child's world of color be like when the enter your home? 
If they are going to school will it be mainly white children?  Are their children of other races at the school, if so which ones?  What will their Sunday School class or dance class or play group look like?  Will they be the only hispanic or black child in that setting?

Can you handle their hair needs?
If you bring a child of another ethnicity into your home, can you provide them with the proper hair care?  When Little Man came into our home we were not allowed to cut his hair (rights the parents hold on to).  We had a little boy with long eye lashes and big brown eyes and hair three times as long as his twin sisters.  I watched a few hours of you-tube videos to figure out how to corn row his hair.  Are you going to be able to afford the products that go in their hair?  Do you have access to them?  I've discovered how skimpy our local stores are with hair care products are for our children.  

What will the neighbors think?
I knew the town we were bringing the kids into was not very racially diverse but did have some diversity.  However, I was completely caught off guard when someone called to tell me that an associate of theirs had driven by our house and wanted to know what certain children where in our yard.  The question included a word that started with "n" and made me sick to my stomach.  We have a certain neighbor that talked to us at least once weekly for the first year we lived here and has talked to us twice in the two years since. (We have been in Foster Care for a bit over two years).

How will people of their own race feel?
Some of the harshest looks we've received have been from the black community.  Some will be incredibly supportive, others will feel like their children are being snatched away.  

What does your extended family think?
Will these children boot you out of family holidays?  While people want to know about the ______ (insert some politically incorrect way of referring to you child) you are caring for and ask you right in front of you?  Being a foster child tends to exclude these kids in the first place, they don't need their race stacked against them also.

Can you provide them with racial similar role models?
This is an area we lack in.  I see it affecting Baby Girl the most, but I think it will have an impact on Big Brother also.  Baby Girl has a lot of identity questions and problems.  I will never forget the day we walked by a woman in a restaurant and she loudly pointed out that they also had brown skin.

These questions are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the decision about whether to bring a child of a different race into your home.  Many other families are doing it, some with much success others with none, seek one out and chat with them.  If you don't know of a family find a blog online about a trans-racial family. 

Bottom Line:  These children are precious and wonderful.  I love discovering more about their race.  I love trying to figure out how to keep true to their ethnic history (such as letting Baby Girls hair go nautrual instead of braided).  However, it is WAY more difficult then I ever imagined it could be.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Swim Lessons

One of the things we try to do for our kids each summer is swim lessons.  It's such a great way to get our kids comfortable in the water.  Our small town pool only offers one on one lessons.  It's a bit more expensive but it's worth the individual time, especially with a good guard.

This year Sweet Pea, Big Brother, and Baby Girl each took lessons.  Sweet Pea definitely made the most difference from beginning to end.  She is becoming super comfortable in the water.  Big Brother is learning some great swimming techniques and can now swim a good length of the pool.  Baby Girl has been able to concentrate on better technique, such as focused and strong kicks.

Little Man has not taken lessons because of his ASD.  However, this kid!  He's quit the little swimmer.  He especially likes to imitate Daddy.  He will be self taught in no time and probably be the best swimmer of the four.