"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." ~Charlotte Mason

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not very reassuring

Recent conversation between Dora (6 years old) and Jubilee:

Dora: Oh, Mama! I just love you so much!

Jubilee: I love you, too, Baby!

Dora: And I'll always love you!

Jubilee: And I'll always, love you!

Dora: And I'll always obey you!

Jubilee: Always?

Dora: Always and always!

Jubilee: Awesome!

Dora: Except ... sometimes ... I won't ...

(We looked at each other, and burst into laughter. At least she's honest!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element." ~~William Bradford

I am thankful this year for the Lord's provision and protection. I am thankful for His many blessings, including a wonderful husband that I don't deserve and six beautiful children who love Him. I am thankful for our new home. I am thankful for the love that we have in our family. I am thankful most of all for His love that covers all of my sins, and yours as well.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you are able to enjoy some precious time with your family and friends.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Exam Thoughts

We are gearing up for exams this coming week. Preparing for exams always helps me to regain focus. I have been writing exam questions all week. Next week, I will take each child, one at a time, and we will sit on my bed and they will answer exam questions while I type out their answers. The purpose of the exam, of course, is to celebrate all that the children have learned this semester. Our exams consist only of open-ended questions. Some of our books - math, for instance- have pre-written questions, so we will use those questions for those subjects. Normally we do exams after week 12, but this year I started a bit early so we are doing exams after week 15 so we can use Thanksgiving Week as exam week.

Preparing for exams always makes me sit back and think about the past term. I am writing my thoughts here, more for me than for you. But you are welcome to read them.

As I look back across the past 15 weeks, I am excited about the level of independence the younger children have developed this term. I am working part-time in the mornings, and the girls come with me and do their work while I teach Mother's Day Out. This means that they have been doing their written work on their own with very little instruction, a very big step in the right direction. The ability to work independently is a highly desirable trait!

Thoughts on education, aka Why Am I Doing This?:

1. I want my children to learn to think. I do not want to cut information into bite-sized chunks so their education can be easier and more palatable. I do not water-down the material or give it to them in bits-and-pieces. I give them difficult material, books that make them think about life and the world and the Lord who created it all. I want them to wonder, to explore, to ponder and, yes, to THINK!!! I want the children to be able to take hold of their own educations, to fight for them and work for them. I want them to wrestle with their thoughts until they reach clarity. I do not want to spoon-feed their thoughts to them.

This new method of learning/education was very difficult for my new girls at first. They, honestly, were not accustomed to forming their own thoughts with regard to schoolwork. They wanted me to tell them what everything meant, what their projects should look like, etc. Developing independent thought has been a huge step for them. And it has been so much fun to watch! They are learning so much, and so excited about it! I have been very pleased with all of the children's progress this semester. I am excited to see their exam responses.

2. I do not believe each child should be educated in the same manner, either. Each child is an individual, and what works for one, may not work for another. What interests one, may not interest another. Where one struggles, another will thrive, and vice versa. We do not believe in playing the "it's not fair" game, and sometimes intentionally make things "unfair" because we do not believe that what goes to one should automatically go to every other as well. The same goes for education. Each child is a masterpiece, uniquely created by God and given especially to us to raise and love and train to love and fear Him. We do not take that responsibility lightly. We are responsible to the Lord for these children.

3. I do not believe children were made to sit in desks all day. This is why so many of them must be drugged in order to do so. My new girls were 3 of the drugged ones. I have taken them off of said drugs, and they are THRIVING!!! Because they come to Mother's Day Out at the gymnastics center with me, they spend 2 hours of hard play/workout every single day! I believe children need to work out their bodies just as much as their minds. Growing bodies need to move! They need to run and jump and climb and fall. They need to skip and hop and roll and dance. The physical development of my new girls in the past six months has been absolutely amazing.

Reflections on this term:

1. I would like to schedule a Bible time with each of the kids individually. I need to work that in next semester. We did this before we got the new girls, but I haven't yet figured out how to do it with six.

2. We really let our fine arts slip this semester. This was intentional, as I was easing the new girls into homeschooling and easing myself into homeschooling six kids. I let the things slide that I felt comfortable letting slide. We will work on Christmas music in December, then start up our full fine arts schedule again in January. This includes Artist Study, Composer Study, Hymns, Folk Songs and Foreign Language Songs for next term. I will also try to start up Piano Lessons again. I can teach the younger ones myself but would like to get the olders back into lessons outside the home. I would also like to get Baloo back into guitar lessons.

3. It's not just the songs, I have let all of Foreign Language fall by the wayside with the girls. Baloo is taking High School Spanish outside our home, so that's taken care of. The girls sometimes go to Spanish at the gym, where we offer it as part of our Afterschool Program. But we are not usually there on those afternoons. I either need to make a point to be there or I need to get back into doing Foreign Language at home. Or both. We usually do French and Latin, too.

4. Memory Work. The older kids have done a good job keeping up with this, with very little intervention from me. I have only recently gotten the new girls started on this. I need to be sure to schedule specific memory work next term. I have found that the differences in ability and training makes it impossible to memorize the same things all together. I need to think more about how I want this to look next term.

5. I need to be better about getting our scheduled readings done. We did not get as far in our readings as I would have liked. The children have done well reading the books they read on their own, but the ones we read together have not been read on schedule. We really fell behind early in the semester, but have gotten better in recent weeks as we got into our groove. (Translate: "... as I figured out how to homeschool six kids at once.") I think we will be able to stay on target next term. I have discovered that I really need to schedule these times, something I really don't like doing. I like to have a "to-do" list, but not a schedule that tells me I have to do this thing at this time. Too stressful. The Rebel in me immediately thinks,

"Says who?"

"Oh yeah, me..."

6. Math Facts - Severely lacking in the new girls. I am going to pause our regular math studies, and work on memorizing math facts instead, at their appropriate levels. Normally we do not stress about memorizing facts, they tend to do it on their own when they recognize the inconvenience of not knowing them. But, because the new girls are a bit older, I don't have time to wait for them to figure this out so we just need to work on them. I also need to work with the new girls on conceptualizing the numbers - they don't seem to understand what a number really is, as it relates to objects. I need to talk to my mom and do some research as to how to make this more concrete for them. We use manipulatives every day, but it's just not clicking yet. For December, we will work on these things. Maybe we will do a page of review each week, as well...

7. We will take some time to study Christmas in December. I'm not sure how much the new girls understand about Christmas and its symbols, and I doubt they know any of the Christmas songs that are so dear to our family. Now that co-op is over, we have a lot more free time and can work on some of these things, as well as catch up on the readings in which we are behind. Then we will start up full swing again in January.

8. Scrapbooking. Most of the children really want to get into scrapbooking. I told them we may be able to do this after Thanksgiving. I have everything I need, I just need to print out the pictures I want. The new girls have never had photo albums of themselves, not even baby books, so this is very important to them. And Lil Yoda's scrapbook is pretty sparse, so it is important to her as well. I need to find a way to make this happen, I think it will be fun to do together.

I'm sure I will have more thoughts on this as we go forward. For now, let me just say...

I love homeschooling.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Adoption: Kids' Perspectives

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!
Man, I love these kids!

Adoption Shower Pics

These are some of my dear friends, who hosted an Adoption Shower for our family recently. The kids all had so much fun, we had an inflatable obstacle course and an inflatable bounce house for them, so the parents could enjoy their time together! This was a very special day for our family. Thank you, sweet friends!

Deflating the bounce house

Foosball & Air Hockey Champions

Thanks again, friends, for a wonderful memory!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Official!!!

Today, we went to court and finalized our adoption of Wendy, Angel and Dora!!! Yay!!! By Texas law, we had to wait six months from the date the girls came home. It seems like we've waited forever!!! We had a great time, and the judge was very nice and commented about how lucky we all were and how beautiful & sweet the kids all are. I pray the kids will all be able to cement this day into their memories.

Mema and Poppie met us for the special day, and they brought roses for everyone! Then, after the hearing was finished (which was about 20 minutes after we entered the courtroom, even though we were fourth on the list), they treated us to breakfast at a local restaurant! Thanks, Mema and Poppie, for making our special day even better!

A special "Thank you" to my sweet friend Janet, who brought cupcakes to the gymnastics gym today, so all of our friends could celebrate with us! Thank you, Sweet Friend!

The pictures below were taken before the hearing - you can tell they are excited but a bit nervous and sleepy! I had to wake them up at 6 to get to court on time. If you know us, then you know this is absolutely unheard of. But, we got to watch a beautiful sunrise as we drove to the courthouse!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are good, and your love endures forever! (1 Chronicles 16:34)
Thank you that you set the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:6)

Thank you that you bind up, and heal, the broken-hearted. (Isaiah 61:1, Psalm 147:3)

Thank you for giving us children as a heritage and a reward. (Psalm 127:3)
Thank you that you are able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
I leave you with our family Bible passage. This is our continuous prayer for our children. And today it is also my prayer for you.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Padme is Ten!

I can't believe my eldest daughter is already ten!!! How quickly the time has flown by! For years, we longed for a daughter, and the Lord blessed us with our sweet Padme, an answer to our prayers!
Padme decided to hold off her birthday party for the opening of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. We took several of her friends to a park next to the movie theater for cake and ice cream, then we watched the movie together. It was a beautiful day and the kids loved the movie! We had such a great time with all of her sweet friends - they helped to make her celebration special!

Padme is really growing up. She is a confident, strong young lady who loves the Lord and works hard at all she does. Naturally outgoing and vivacious, she is one of those people that everyone loves, which is why her birthday parties always have so many guests! She is very social and usually invites everyone she's seen in the last year. We have had such fun watching Padme grow up, she is intelligent, joyful and so fun to be with! She is truly beautiful, gorgeous inside and out. Sorry for the late posting, but we wish you a very Happy (late) birthday, sweet Padme. We love you!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween photos

Starring (from left to right):  Our sweet friend KMe as a medieval princess; Padme as a genie; Angel as a china doll; Wendy as a cat; Dora as a ballet princess; and Lil Yoda as a rock star guitarist.  We had a fabulous time trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  Our 3 adoptees had never done anything like this, and Dora just kept saying, "Mama! This is the best night EVER!"

I only let my kids keep 30 pieces of candy, so we have lots of fun after trick-or-treating, going through what we do & don't like, and trading and, eventually, discarding.  I have found that, if I let them keep all of their candy from every holiday, then we have candy constantly in the house. We look at candy as a "sometimes food," so they are excited about the 30 pieces they get to keep!  Baloo stayed home & handed out candy to our millions of trick-or-treaters, and we got to hand some out, too, when we got back home.  The kids really enjoyed oohing and aahing over all the kids' cute costumes!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

I am blessed

By the best friends in the world. Thank you, my sweet friends, for last night's party. It was such a blessing to our family, as you are a blessing to me. I thank the Lord for bringing you into my life!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wedding Pictures, Part 2

These are from the reception.
Aren't the cakes just gorgeous?

Everyone got to take turns in the limo. This kept the kids busy during the reception, and they loved it!

Padme caught the bouquet. This is not a surprise, considering that this child has had her wedding planned since she was three. As you can see in the picture, she is slightly excited.
Lil Yoda is showing us that she caught a petal. As you can see, she changed clothes about a minute after she walked out the doors of the worship center.

Proof that white men really can't dance. See the thumbs?

Everyone wanted to dance with the Bride Princess!

Aunt Aubrey loves her nieces and nephew!

Dancin' with my girls!

I have no idea what this is. I'm sure it looked cool in motion.

Baloo & Mema

Baloo makes friends easily. Especially pretty friends. He's no dummy.

The love of my life.

Wedding Pictures

We recently enjoyed the marriages of two dear family members. King Louie's sister, Aubrey, and my cousin, Kelly, were both married in recent weeks, and we are so excited for them both!

In his sister's wedding, the King gave his sister away, which was a very special moment for them both. Baloo played "Here Comes the Bride" on the electric guitar, which was awesome! He downloaded a version by Queen, written for 10 guitar parts. He smushed them into one, as best he could, and this was the song The King and Aubrey walked in to. This is a picture from the rehearsal.
All five of the girls were flower girls in the wedding. It was so precious! My mom made them matching dresses, and they were just beautiful! Thank you, Mema!Here are a few pictures from the wedding.

Getting everyone to look at the camera and smile, simultaneously, is a near-impossible feat. I though this turned out fairly well.

Flower girls! Now, the church did not want them to throw petals, even these fake ones. About 2 seconds after this picture was snapped, the wedding coordinator in the back, wearing the white shirt, will have a conniption when she looks up and sees the petals on the floor. :0) They were silk petals, lady! Chill out!
Baloo with Hunter, one of King Louie's younger brothers. Aren't they handsome?

This is Aubrey with her and King Louie's mom, Grammaw Leicel. I love this picture! My five little girls, running off to a wedding. So precious. And in the blink of an eye, they will each run off to their own...

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls

This is a poem Padme just finished memorizing. She selected it herself.

The tide rises, the tide falls,

The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

Along the sea-sands damp and brown

The traveler hastens toward the town,

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,

But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;

The little waves, with their soft, white hands

Efface the footprints in the sands,

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls

Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;

The day returns, but nevermore

Returns the traveler to the shore.

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

----Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So who, do you suppose, is the traveler? And where is he going? Why does he never return to the shore?