Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Luke babysat Levi.

We occasionally put Luke in charge of the kids when we go out.  Steve is out of town and I had Luke watch Levi, Caroline, and Jesse while I picked Sophia up from gymnastics and took Josh to get a new pair of soccer cleats.  (Dija follow that?)  Levi hadn't napped today, well except briefly which I'll get back to, so I knew if I took him with me he would sleep in the car and who knows when he would go to sleep tonight.

When we got home from the cleat hunt, I went upstairs and found Luke, Jesse and Levi all in the hall, STROBE light and music on, and they were dancing in the hall.  Levi was sporting just Thomas the Tank Engine underwear.  He was movin' and shakin' with his chunky legs showin'.  It was so funny.  Apparently both Luke and Levi enjoyed the babysitting ordeal.  I told Levi it was time to brush his teeth and he asked if he could "rave" (translation= dance) again after he brushed his teeth.  He was so excited. 

Since they had a such a good bonding time I asked Levi if he wanted Luke to read to him and he said yes.  Luke read to him and Levi fell asleep.  He was exhausted from no nap today.  Oh, wait.  That's the other thing I was going to tell you.  Around lunchtime Levi said he had to go potty so I sat him on it.  He either likes to stand or sit.  This time it was sit.  When he sits on the potty, he sits backward and faces the back of the potty.  His choice.  He had been on what was about his normal amount of time, so I called him and asked if he was done.  He said yes.  Usually he calls me to tell me he's done.  I went right in and he was leaning forward....sleeping on the potty.  That was a first.  I've never had a child fall asleep on the potty.  I took him to his bed to finish his nap, but he wasn't tired enough to go back to sleep.  So, by the time Luke read to him, he was ready to go to bed. 

I have a bunch more to post another time...Luke's soccer team party, Jesse's Cub Scout Pinewood Derby and 3D Archery competition where Josh, Jesse, Sophia and Levi all earned trophies!  That was all from this past weekend.   Nite Nite.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

We just finished our "home visit" for our adoption.

It took a few hours to complete the home visit where a caseworker comes to talk to the entire family.  He briefly interviews each child, interviews husband and wife separately, husband and wife together, and interviews the entire family together.  Overall it was relaxing, fun, and exciting to "pass"!  Steve and I have one more day of training this weekend and then we should be licensed next week. 

The next step after that will be for the agency to present children to us for us to consider adopting.  Once we say yes to children then our agency presents our family to the CPS (Child Protective Services) case worker.  The CPS case worker will try to get about 3 or so families from different agencies who are interested in the kids and then narrow it down to one family. Normally that process takes a few months.

So, once you say you would like to adopt specific kids you may not find out if your family is chosen for a few months.  That seems like such a long wait...kind of like being pregnant...but without the nausea!

Oh, and Luke had his first College Plus phone consultation today.  He will take a College Algebra  CLEP first, then Western Civilization 1 (History) CLEP test, then either Biology or Literature.  That will equal 18 college credits.  He should take his first CLEP test in about a month and then take subsequent CLEP tests about every 4-6 weeks.  Yikes!!  He is motivated to do this.  Yet another new journey begins.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two dozen homeschooled young men.

Today was the annual homeschool high school soccer team vs. alumni game.  Truly, it is a highlight of the year.  A local homeschool organization called FEAST (Family Educators Alliance of South Texas) has a ton of middle school and high school sports teams.  Luke is on the high school boys' soccer team.  Starting last year, they began having a game at the end of the season where the current high school team plays guys who have played on the FEAST soccer team when they were in high school and have now graduated.  There are some brothers playing against brothers and former team mates playing against each other.  Each year it rains which makes it even more memorable. 

It is so awesome to see two dozen or so godly, athletic, homeschooled (or formerly homeschooled) young men playing on the soccer field with determination, joy, comradery and super soccer skills.  Before we moved back to the states from Germany in 2010 we really never saw homeschooled high school boys or young men who had graduated from home school.  Through FEAST we see a ton.

This Friday we have the end of season party at our house. This is also a highlight as it is inspiring to be with these other homeschooling families whose friendship we cherish. 

Do you want to know who won?  The high school team for the second year in a row!  This year the game was tied 5-5, so each team had 5 players shoot on the goalie.  It was 3-2 for the high schoolers.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Starting Colleg Prep

On Thursday Luke and I have an initial phone appointment with CollegePlus.  It's actually called CollegePrep for students in 10th grade.  I am eager to find out how it will work for Luke to study for, and take the CLEP tests.  CollegePrep says that the students continue to use whatever curriculum they are currently using.   I'm wondering what CLEP tests he will take this semester.  The plan is for the students to obtain 6-12 college credits during this semester of their sophomore year.  So, if they continue to do that through their senior year they will have 60 or more college credits when they graduate from high school.  That means they could be half way, or more, through a four year college degree. 

We'll see.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Mom, Did you adopt kids?"

That's what Levi, our 3 year old, said after Steve and I got home from our first day of adoption training.  I guess it's not uncommon for young  biological children to think that once you say you are going to adopt that you can just go to the adoption store and come home with kids!

Our 12 hour adoption training yesterday was worthwhile.  Here is one of the funniest things I've ever heard in my life, although I realized afterward that the woman who told the story wasn't actually trying to be funny.

One couple is adopting their young nephews.  When the woman told her biological children in December that they were going to adopt, she said that the kids said, "Can we wait until after Christmas?"  Apparently they were doing the math and realized that gift funds may have to be divided by 4 rather than by 2.  She said she was so sad, and thought, "Didn't I raise you right?"  So she replied, "You know, I would hope that if something happened to your dad and I that someone would take you before Christmas,"  and she kind of sighed and rolled her eyes in frustration.  I never laughed so hard in my life.  I think her facial expressions and demeanor really added to the hilarity. 

Her kids now can't wait to get their new brothers.

This week we have our home visit where a case worker interviews our family.  Next Saturday we complete our training after one more 12 hour class. 

Then the waiting begins. 

When the agency finds kids who meet our criteria, they will ask us if we want them to submit our home study to the Child Protective Service's (CPS) case worker.  The CPS case worker usually considers his/her favorite three families for these children.  The CPS worker is trying to make the best match with families and kids.  So, even if we are interested in adopting certain kids, the caseworker decides who is the best match for those kids.  It could take awhile to be chosen.  The fewer parameters you have, the more likely/quickly you usually get kids.

We are looking for a sibling group with kids from ages 4-15.  We've been told that it is best not to adopt children older than your oldest child.  If you do, your biological first born would no longer be the first born.  

Most people want young children and/or babies. 

I met a woman there who has 5 biological children and her and her husband want to adopt young children.  They homeschool 4 of their children and the 5th just graduated from homeschool highschool.  Their youngest child is 10 years old.  I said that I thought it would really hard to homeschool and have younger kids too.  She said they've had 3 sets of foster kids and she didn't really find it difficult to continue to homeschool...although school may end up consisting of math one day and reading the next.  Non-homeschoolers may gasp at that thought.  But, in reality that's probably not too big of a deal to have abbreviated school for a season.  If the kids "miss" some academics for  a few months, they may still have years to "catch up".  Really, since they are homeschooled they can often get things done much quicker that at an institution where they may have to wait for age-mates. 

Maybe I'll talk about age-mates vs. class-mates in another post.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Law: Homeschoolers can enlist in the military

Here is an article from Home School Legal Defense Association.  Homescoolers can enter military using homeschool transcript.  


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Older kids work more independently

As I've been talking with fellow homeschoolers the past few weeks, it seems that the theme is that the older the kids, the less work mom has to do.  

When I asked one fellow homeschool mom how she fit in teaching days of coop classes each week she said she doesn't have to teach too much because she has 3 teens.  She said, "Imagine you have three Lukes (my 15 yo 10th grader)."  I kind of stood there with a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look trying to imagine that, and frankly I'm still trying to imagine that.  I think that means I could be drinking coffee and blogging while 3 teens are laboriously working independently.  Alone.   Quietly.  I could probably even make a phone call and complete it without being interrupted.  I didn't want to think about it too long and, you know, and start salivating or something.  

Then, when I asked another friend what her pre-schooler does during school she said it wasn't really an issue because her boys (teens) pretty much do their work on their own.  I couldn't take any more so I started saying "La-la-la-la..."  and waving my hands in front of my ears so the madness would stop.  Just kidding.  Ok, no I'm not, I really did that, but she's a really good friend and she took it in stride.  

If I think about it, my two teens pretty much do their work independently too.  And my 11 yo is doing much more on her own this year.  I still teach some things to each of them, but I spend most of my time on the youngest.  

No real point here.  Just a recent observation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ten minute speeches at Speech Class today

Luke and Josh had to present an 8-10 minute speech at Speech Class today.  All of the students are giving the 8-10 minute speeches either this week or next. 

I figured out why they didn't want to go to speech class after Christmas break.  I think it was because they knew they would have to do this speech.  

Steve took the kids today and he got to see Josh's presentation on the Fisher Houses.  He said Josh did great.  Josh did his Eagle Scout Project for the local Fisher Houses last year so it's somewhat near and dear to him.  He prepared the entire speech and rehearsed it on his own.  

Luke asked for some help with his on Wed.  He was trying to do it on an alternative fuel.  Although it sounded very interesting, he didn't know anything about it so he was having to do A TON of research.  Well, he was running out of time.  I suggested that he do the speech on something that he was more familiar with and gave him my ideas.  He ended up doing his speech on, "Transportation in Europe:  Planes, Trains and Automobiles."   I heard that his was also very good.  He had the audience laughing at parts and on the edge of their seats at other parts.  

Steve said that afterward, Luke and Josh were relieved and excited about what they did. He said it was awesome for them.

You must read this brief article about Speech and Debate.  I'll give you an excerpt if you promise to read the article.  Promise?  Here it is.  "If you have never been to a homeschool debate tournament before, I will tell you point-bland you are missing one of the greatest, most inspiring, truly awesome things happening on the planet."  (Andrew Pudewa, TheHomeschoolMagazine.com)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

We are resuming our Small Group ministry

Steve and I started being involved in Small Groups right after we were married.  Some years we were part of a small group and some we weren't.  We haven't been part of one since we moved here a year and a half ago.

In a few weeks we're  starting a new small group in our home .  Below is a blurb from Christianity Today about small groups. 

Holistic small groups can only work when relationships between group members are considered number one. And that means having regular contact outside of meetings. I've experienced a vast majority of the transformation in my life through a small group experience, and it happened because of this principle. The groups have been very intimate friends of mine with whom I can share transparently. They've loved me unconditionally, and we've been able to show Christ to one another. I didn't view it as an opt-in thing. Without it, it would be like not having enough air to breath. They've been that valuable.  (From http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/spiritualformation/040901.html )

Our initial meetings will consist of food (dinner or dessert, and I hope chocolate), an object lesson, maybe a little singing, and conversation.  Entire families are invited.  At first we will probably have a sitter to help with the small children.  Any children who desire can stay with the group the whole time or go and play when we aren't having a group activity. 

A small group is a place where people notice if you are missing.  Have you ever experienced that?  You don't show up and someone calls to see if you are ok, not to ask, "Why weren't you there?" (AKA:  "Why did you  disappoint me?")

The small group that we were part of in Germany, before we moved here, was unbelievably special.  Those people are our lifelong friends.  We still see many of them and we are even trying to make plans to get together this summer.  These people live all over the world and any of them who can will join us this summer.  That is special. 

I'm excited about this new small group.  More to follow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bakery Tour Today/ Adoption training

Ah.  It was refreshing to go on a field trip today.  After we got home everyone, but Sophia, did grammar and some other school work. It was a very relaxed day. 

For our adoption training we have to have 15 hours of training with other families associated with our agency.  Basically we have to interact with at least one of the parents, part or all of the family.  Tonight I went to a ladies Adoption/Foster Fellowship at a restaurant.  A group of ladies who adopted, are adopting, fostering, or are considering fostering/adopting meet and talk.  It was enjoyable.  Very nice ladies.  All unique stories.

Sophia and Hannah had fun "dressing up(?)"  yesterday.

Sophia with about 30 costumes on.

Hannah with about 30 costumes on.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Field Trip Tomorrow!

I love field trips.  I think it's mostly because I get out for a few hours, and I don't have to teach.  Also, they are usually really interesting.  Remember, homeschool moms often homeschool because they want to learn, not because they want to teach.  I just feel the need to get out every now and then.

We are going to a bread factory.  Apparently they make donuts too, because the kids leave with a goodie bag containing bread, donuts and other goodies! 

No kids under 7 are allowed to attend.  I was going to get a babysitter for Levi, but I'm taking two of my neighbor's kids and she's going to watch Levi.  Now that's a "win-win"! 

Everyone is very excited.  I think Luke and Josh are staying home.  They like to get their work done...or at least simulate it.

Here's to field trips!!  Gotta go but ingredients in the bread machine for the morning. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

1. Finished with CPR training & Fire and Home inspections for the adoption. 2. Science for Next Year.

1.  Adoption

We plan to be finished with our paperwork and training by the end of January.  We still have to attend two 12 hour days of training this month and a few "odds and ends", but that's about it.  Everyone over the age of one needs a TB test, and just Luke and Josh still need that. Our Home Study (where a case worker interviews all family members) is the week after our first 12 hour training.  

So, if all goes as planned, we could be licensed and able to take children into our home in February.  I don't know if that will happen, but it's possible.  

Eligible children have already been taken from their parents, or the parents gave them up, and parental rights  have already been terminated by the time we would get them.  Normally they become our foster children for 6 months to make sure it is a good fit for everyone.  Then we will adopt them and they are ours, full heirs, totally ours.  It's like when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savoir.  We become children of God.  Full heirs, totally His. 

During the time the children are our foster children there is a requirement that they have to attend public school.  They can attend the schools right on post.  They are small schools and very accustomed to having kids transfer in all during the school year from all over the world.  Kids 3 yo and up have to be in a school setting so 3-5 year olds need to be in some type of Mother's Day Out or Pre-School, but not necessarily 5 days a week.  It could just be a few days a week.  Once we adopt then we can school them how we want.  We'll have to wait and see who we get before deciding about that.   No need to make any plans about that yet!

2.  Science Next Year:
I'm starting to plan the next school year for the kids.  Science seems to be the big question for me as to what to use for each child.  The Rod and Staff is GREAT for Jesse and Sophia this year.  

Luke- 11th grade. Chemistry (DIVE?)  He is doing his chemistry labs this year because he isn't motivated to do labs on his own, so he is going to a 2 day lab intensive.   I just found out about The Spectrum Chemistry- done 3 days a week, one of those days is a lab, so I'm considering that.

Josh- 9th grade. Biology (Apologia independently?  or DIVE?)  I could have him do his labs in a 2 day intensive like Luke is doing.  I like the DIVE programs that schedule everything for the students and have a class on cd.  

Caroline- 7th grade.  Normally my kids do Apologia General Science in 7th grade.  I am looking at The Rainbow which is a 2-year science course for 12-14 year olds.    Here is a blurb from their website:  "We combine two lessons and one lab exercise per week for approximately 32 weeks per year leaving flexibility and freedom in your school year. The first year covers physics and chemistry, and the second year covers biology and applications of science. The curriculum and the Home Laboratories are completely self-contained."  (beginningspublishing.com) 

Jesse- 5th grade.  I think he still has one of the elementary Apologia books to complete.

Sophia- 3rd grade.  Hmmm.  Not sure what she'll do.  It depends on how much I will have to read to her for science.  I need to look around.  I have Sonlight 3rd grade science materials.  Or maybe she can do an Apologia with Jesse...or maybe another year of Rod and Staff.  Or maybe something else. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Levi riding his new Strider bike

This is the type of bike that the German kids learn to ride on.  Levi got this for Christmas.  


Preserving kids' artwork

Artwork and fingerprints.  Over the years, my kids created a lot of artwork:  pictures, paintings, notes.  They created numerous fingerprints on windows too.  I generally try to leave the fingerprints, at least to a degree where we can still see out of the windows.

In the past, the artwork would often get put in a folder to keep for, um, for posterity?  I'm not sure for what.  I put occasional pieces in frames and hung them in a child's room or in the school room.  But recently I started to frame and hang most of them.  

Here is the "wall of fame" with a ton of kids' artwork.  I wasn't too sure about doing this, but it really grew on me and I love looking at their artwork.

Also, I scan some of my favorites and add them to my digital photo albums or make duplicate copies to send to family members for them to frame if they choose.  Copy machines also make great quality copies to give/send to family members.  Mostly what I do is take a digital picture of their artwork and then just upload it to Snapfish or to my computer's picture program (like Apple's IPhoto).

Here is one of my favorite pictures from one of the first art classes I taught to Sophia last year.

Sophia's Seahorse (1st grade)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's for lunch? ("Lunch Bags")

When my kids were small (I had my first 5 kids in 7 years) it was difficult to get even just the necessities accomplished, let alone school too.  Lunch time was busy.  Nursing a baby and making lunch, although trust me is do-able, it's not ideal.

Sometimes to reduce that lunchtime chaos I would make the kids' lunches the night before and put them in individual brown lunch bags.  Sometimes I would draw a fun picture on the bag and add their name.  I thought of this because when needed to take a lunch when we went somewhere, I would make these and they would get so excited about their "lunch bag"!  I figured, why not make them even when we're not going somewhere.  I would put in items like a sandwich, pudding with a spoon, fruit, and a juice or milk box.  Maybe cookies. 

They were big hits. And, it made lunch time so much easier.  I haven't done that for years.  Most of the kids can make their own lunch and help the youngest too.  I still often make lunch for everyone because if I make it for one, then others want the same thing. 

I bet if I did again they would get a kick out of it. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Live like your life necessitates a miracle.

I heard that on the radio today.  Imagine being charged with that.  Oh, I guess you just were.  

What does that mean?

When I went skydiving, went to war, gave birth to six babies, ran marathons I needed miracles.  Or did I?  What would it look like if we intentionally lived like our life necessitates not just a miracle, but miracles? 

Homeschooling seems to involve daily miracles, if not I would not have the least amount of patience.  Any patience I have I deem a miracle. 

Won't the adoption process necessitate miracles? 

I'm going to have to think about that, and whether living like that changes the way I homeschool. 

Today was back-to-school day after the holidays.  Sigh.  The holidays were so relaxing.  Today we had immunization appointments, we went to the Witte Museum, and Luke has a FEAST high school school soccer game tonight. 

What do you think it means to live like your life necessitates a miracle?