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  1. A hospital hand-out on “Laceration Care, Pediatric” was not on my reading list for the week, but unfortunately, it was thrust upon me.  After a delicious Mother’s Day dinner of chicken marsala cooked by my husband, we decided to go for a family walk/bike ride.  The boys rode their bikes ahead (Simon’s first time riding on the road, only allowed because we were supervising) while Don and I walked with Clara in the stroller.  The boys stopped and were climbing on some large rocks while they waited for us to catch up.  Simon fell and cut his hand on a piece of broken glass, thus winning a trip to the ER, where he got three stitches in his right palm.  😦
  2. So Monday, I had the joy of a large pile of dishes left over from Don cooking chicken marsala (he would have washed them, but he took Simon to the hospital).  I also had the joy of spending the day with a cranky Simon, who was up way too late (even in a small town, an emergency room visit is never quick) and was frustrated by not being able to use his right hand.  It was not a fun day.  Then Clara was inexplicably up twice during the night (she has been sleeping through the night regularly for months now), so I was exhausted on Tuesday and barely made it through my weekly grocery shopping.
  3. Let’s move on to some happier news.  Today was Simon’s last day of homeschool junior kindergarten!  It’s been a wonderful year and I’m proud of what he’s learned.  When we started in September, I wasn’t sure how well I was going to be able to homeschool with a baby, but it has actually gone very smoothly.  Now we transition to “summer lessons” (much lighter than during the school year, focusing on maintaining literacy, math, and French skills).
  4. Peter has only 14 days of school left before he’s done with 6th grade.  He will do summer lessons also; he’s done them since he was in preschool, so he accepts that they’re just part of his life.  Then he will be homeschooled next year for 7th grade.  He hasn’t been homeschooled since 4th grade, so homeschooling for middle school will be a new adventure.
  5. I am about to finish something also.  Over two years ago (Palm Sunday 2015), I started a one-year Bible reading plan (not the whole Bible, just selected verses/passages, but 52 weeks’ worth of daily readings).  I fell off the bandwagon many times, sometimes for months at a time, but I never gave up.  Tomorrow is my last day!
  6. Don and Peter are gone to the Dayton Hamvention, the world’s largest gathering of ham radio operators.  I haven’t been since I was a teenager, but Don has attended many times, and Peter went last year for the first time.  Maybe in a few more years, we’ll make a family trip out of it.
  7. I got a call from our optometrist.  He will donate an eye exam and a pair of glasses (if needed) to “Valentine” (not his real name), the orphan from Eastern Europe that we’ll be hosting this summer.  Valentine has an appointment scheduled for mid-July.

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  1. I may be in the minority here, but I actually like Monday mornings.  It’s a relief to get back to the routine and structure of weekdays after the relative lack of structure on the weekends.  Don’t get me wrong–I like weekends too and look forward to them every week, but I wouldn’t want every day to be like the weekend.  (Yes, I know it’s Friday, but I think about this every Monday and wanted to share, and it didn’t seem worth an entire post.)
  2. Simon has one more week of junior kindergarten and then we’ll be done homeschooling for this school year.  Three weeks after that, Peter will be done with school not just for this school year, but for who knows how long, because we’re planning to homeschool him again next school year.  A week and a half after that, the 10-year-old orphan boy we’re hosting from Eastern Europe will arrive.  I’m doing my best to be prepared, but I must admit that I’m a little nervous about how we will all adjust to these changes.
  3.  “The orphan we’re hosting” is lengthy and impersonal, so henceforth, I will refer to him on my blog by the pseudonym Valentine.  (I’m not sharing personally identifying information about him on my blog, which is why I’m not using his real name.)
  4. Our dentist has agreed to donate his services to Valentine.  I’ve heard multiple stories about children hosted/adopted from his country needing dental work as they don’t get regular dental care in the orphanages, so I am glad we will be able to do that for him while he’s here.  Our optometrist is on vacation, so I don’t have an answer from him yet.
  5. The only real department store in our area is going out of business, so I made myself go to take advantage of the clearance prices.  I bought a pair of blue jeans and a pair of dress pants, so I am no longer in the wardrobe crisis of not having a single decent-looking pair of pants that fit.  The blue jean selection was overwhelming–so many sizes, leg styles, fits, colors!  I just picked a pair that sounded around my size and style and figured I would try them on and then go from there.  They fit great and I liked them!  I felt like I had taken Felix felicis.  Unfortunately, it was the only pair of jeans in the store in that size and style, and since they were going out of business, I couldn’t exactly ask them to order me more.
  6. Simon has pretty much got the hang of riding his bike without training wheels on our gravel/dirt driveway.  The problem now is that we live out in the country and there are no sidewalks for him to ride on, but we aren’t comfortable having him ride on the road yet.  I plan to drive him to a bike path in town one of these days, but we haven’t gotten there yet.
  7. I’ve been enjoying planning homeschool curriculum for next school year.  I have a generous budget to work with, which is wonderfully liberating.  I’m planning to buy a number of French-language resources that I wouldn’t have considered purchasing in the past because the cost adds up fast.  I’m looking forward to doing our best year of bilingual homeschooling yet.

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Several weeks ago, I went to a parents meeting for the local school district-homeschool partnership program.  Simon will be enrolled with them for kindergarten next year and next year’s schedule was one of the meeting’s agenda items, so I figured it would be worthwhile for me to attend.

What I didn’t appreciate was that developing mission and vision statements was the main purpose of the meeting.  Getting a roomful of people (maybe a couple dozen) to try to formulate and agree on mission and vision statements in less than an hour is unrealistic to begin with.  Add to that the poor conceptualization of the process and the instructions we were given, and it was doomed before we even started.  We were told that the vision was suppose to describe what we wanted to achieve and the mission was supposed to describe how we would make the vision happen (I’m not sure I agree with that, but let’s leave that aside).  Then the room was split in half, with one half told to work on developing a vision statement and the other half to work on a mission statement.  Hello?  How are we supposed to describe how we’re going to make the vision happen if they’re still figuring out what the vision is on the other side of the room?  We tried anyhow, but in the end, we had about five statements proposed by different people (one of them mine) and no consensus.  Then we got together as a large group again to share our work, and their vision statements sounded suspiciously like our mission statements.  I asked whether we really needed to have separate vision and mission statements and was brushed off.  On the whole, it was a frustrating experience.

However, the experience did have value in that it got me thinking about mission statements and defining the purpose of the things we do.  I had come across a quote online that I have not, for the life of me, been able to locate since, so I don’t know the exact wording and I can’t attribute it to its original author (it may have been St. Katharine Drexel).  It seems like a great mission statement (or is it a vision statement?), so I have adopted it for my homeschool.  It was something like, “The purpose of education is to prepare our children for whatever service God may someday call them to.”  This is rich; there is a lot there to ponder on.

Then I went on to make a list of my goals, what I want my children to be able to do as a result of their education (dare I say, a vision statement?).  In no particular order, here’s what I came up with:

  • to think critically
  • to value truth and reason
  • to communicate effectively
  • to be respectful and empathetic to people in diverse situations
  • to have a well-developed conscience; to be honest and responsible
  • to appreciate beauty as found in nature, art, and music
  • to know, love, and serve God
  • to have the skills to carry out projects independently—to plan a project, locate resources, use resources effectively, keep materials organized, manage time wisely, work diligently, and produce appropriate results
  • to make choices that promote health, both physical and mental
  • to understand the interconnectedness of human lives with each other and the environment; to value social justice and environmental responsibility
  • to apply knowledge to real-world situations; to do “hands-on” problem-solving

Next year will be a challenging one for homeschooling.  Not only will Simon be in kindergarten, but we have just decided that Peter will return to being homeschooled for grade 7.  He will still go to school every day–he will be in band and Science Olympiad at the middle school he currently attends.  We believe that this will give him the best of both worlds.  However, it will be an adjustment for all of us.  I am hopeful that defining my mission and vision before we begin will help me make good decisions as I plan for next year and deal with issues as they arise.

  1. I haven’t done a 7 Quick Takes post since 2013 (not since it moved from Conversion Diary to This Ain’t the Lyceum), but today is the day I decided to jump back into it.
  2. Peter played with the 6th grade band in his school’s spring concert on Wednesday evening.  I love hearing school bands (especially marching bands)–I’m just so proud of all the kids for working together and making beautiful music.  I enjoyed the concert, but I didn’t enjoy the aftermath.  The concert didn’t end until a quarter after eight, and by the time we got ourselves together and got home, it was a quarter to nine.  Clara usually goes to bed between 7 and 7:30 and Simon goes to bed around 8.  Both were very tired and Simon was melting down because we didn’t stay for the reception afterwards; he wanted to eat treats.  Peter was disappointed that we didn’t stay because he wanted to hang out with his friends.Band concert
  3. While Peter was all dressed up for the concert, I insisted that we take some pictures of him.  It was long overdue; we didn’t have any good pictures of him taken since the fall of 2014.Peter April 2017
  4. Yesterday (Thursday), the day after the concert, there was more unpleasant aftermath.  Clara, who usually wakes up around 6-6:30 am, slept until 8:30 because she had been up so late.  That wouldn’t have been a problem except that she had a doctor’s appointment (9 month check-up) at 11, and there wasn’t enough time to squeeze in a morning nap before then.  We had to wait for a ridiculously long time at the doctor’s office, as usual, so she was overtired and not at all impressed with the strange woman trying to put things in her ears and manipulate her legs.  She was in full meltdown mode by the time we got home.  Such fun.  😦
  5. All the paperwork and major organizational details are taken care of for the orphan we’re hosting from Eastern Europe this summer, which is a relief to me, as they have taken up a lot of my time and energy lately.  The application, fees, social worker visit/report, background checks, and flight reservations are all done.  He will be arriving in NYC with a group of children on a Sunday afternoon in June.  Because most airlines don’t allow unaccompanied minors on the last flight of the day to anywhere (so they don’t get stuck overnight if it gets cancelled), the closest we could get him to our house if he flew out Sunday evening was Minneapolis, which is about a 6 1/2 hour drive each way from our house.  Fortunately, the hosting organization was able to put us in touch with a family in NYC who will pick him up from the airport on Sunday afternoon and put him on a plane for us on Tuesday morning (their schedule wouldn’t allow them to take him to the airport Monday before 3 pm, but then we ran into the same problem with the last connecting flights of the day, so Tuesday it is).  He will fly as an unaccompanied minor from NYC to Minneapolis, then to a city that’s about two hours from us, arriving mid-afternoon.  Unfortunately, he can’t fly into the airport that’s 5 minutes from our house because only one commercial airline flies there and they only allow unaccompanied minors on non-stop flights (no changing planes), so the only way we could have done it was if we had someone meet him in Chicago and put him a plane there.  But four hours of driving round-trip sure beats 13 hours of driving to pick him up.
  6. Cinco de Mayo was totally not on my radar when I did meal planning for the week.  Thus, we’re having Indian butter chicken for dinner tonight.
  7. Our snow has finally all melted.  Simon is determined to learn to ride his bike without training wheels.  Despite the temperatures only being in the 40s and 50s, he has been practicing hard the last couple days.  I think he’ll have it down before long.

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The cruelest month

April is the cruelest month.  We’ve had some sunny, warm days here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (it got up to 68° F on Saturday!), but they have been followed by cold, rainy, blustery, and/or dreary weather.  This morning, there was snow on the ground and still falling when I woke up.  I watched out the window as Peter got on his school bus (he is picked up at the end of our driveway), then he got off the bus and it drove away as he walked back to the house.  That had never happened before.  It turns out that they had cancelled school late due to icy road conditions–the bus driver got the call just before he got to our house (Peter is the first one on his bus).

April snow

A current view of my backyard–you can see the wet spots from where the ground is saturated from the spring melt.

It’s hard to believe that two months from now, it will be summer, Peter will be done with school, and the child we’re hosting will be here.

A year ago, I was starting my third trimester of pregnancy and dreading the next year.  Excuse my language, but I knew it was going to suck.  I was already exhausted and perpetually uncomfortable, and I knew it was only going to get worse until the baby was born.  Then there’s that oh-so-fun newborn stage of being woken up every couple hours, followed by the stage of not-quite-as-bad but still constant sleep deprivation.  Plus, we live in a place where winter is really winter, so I’d be carting around a baby and dealing with snow gear for a baby and a preschooler (and myself) every time I wanted to leave the house.  I figured that it would take until spring came this year before life started getting easier.

I must admit that the past year has not been as bad as I expected.  It hasn’t been a piece of cake, by any means, but it hasn’t been completely miserable.  The main reason has probably been that Clara slept for relatively long stretches (5+ hours at night from about five weeks on) and started sleeping through the night when she was about six and a half months old, so I haven’t been as sleep deprived as I was when Simon was a baby.  (I made a point to promote good sleep habits with her from the start because I remembered how awful I felt for the first year of Simon’s life, until I got him sleeping through the night).

While I never have enough time to do EVERYTHING I should/want to do, and there are plenty of days I’m too tired to do anything productive once all the kids are in bed, I am keeping up with things overall.  In fact, I’m feeling good enough about how things are going that I’m up to taking on a new challenge this summer.  We’re planning to host an orphan from Eastern Europe, a 10-year-old boy.

This is something we’ve talked about doing for several years, but haven’t taken the plunge until now.  There were various reasons we didn’t–planning an international move and expecting a baby were two pretty good reasons, but most years it was just due to the garden-variety lack of funds.  This year, there were no pressing reasons why we shouldn’t, and I have the money.  I’ve been saving for an international adoption, but I decided to use some of my money to host.  It was a difficult decision, because it’s a lot of money to give a kid a fun vacation.  However, it’s not really that much money to give an orphan a real chance at finding a family, which has to be one of the best things you could possibly do for someone.  Many orphans who come for hosting are subsequently adopted, by their host family or by another family.  People are much more likely to adopt an older child that they have met and interacted with, or that someone they know has met and interacted with.  Even if we don’t decide to adopt (and we’re not talking about adoption now), I can advocate for this boy.  Ultimately, I thought it was better to do something real than to keep sitting on the money and waiting for “someday.”  After so many years of being interested in adoption and hosting, I can finally do something, and I’m excited to do it.

I’m not going to share identifying information or photos of the child we’re hosting on my blog, but I will share stories and reflections.

Simon’s writing

One of the best parts of parenting is when your children surprise and amaze you.  I have had that experience lately with Simon (who turned 5 two months ago) spontaneously starting to write.

He knows letter-sound correspondences for the 26 letters of the alphabet (he also knows that some letters can stand for more than one sound and that sometimes two letters stand for one sound, but I haven’t taught him those yet).  He knows how to blend sounds to make a word and has lately been interested in segmenting the sounds in words.  To help him learn the lower-case letters and as a pre-handwriting exercise, I’ve had him trace Montessori sandpaper letters the same way that you write them.  But I’ve never asked him to actually write anything.

Within the last couple weeks, he has starting writing.  From deciding what he wants to write, gathering the materials, sounding out the words, and forming the letters on the paper, he is doing it on his own.  He has taken his knowledge and skills and put them together to do something new, and it’s just so cool.

Considering that he’s only in junior kindergarten, he’s doing well.  He has written, “wut God” (he was going for “What God Made,” the title of a booklet from our religion program), “it iz in du” (he was going for “It is in the living room.”), and “wii bud” (for “Wii board”).  The one that I especially enjoyed, however, was when he told me, “I made a Star Wars book just for you, but it’s not a book you read, it’s a book you sing.”  He then gave me several papers that he had stapled together and filled with “Dun Dun Dun…”  I asked him to sing it and he sang the Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme).

Simon Star Wars book March 2017