Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School!

Today was the first day of school. We have been taking "First Day of School" pictures since Elsie was in Kindergarten. Because we homeschool it is important to make a few traditions that mark these wonderful occasions. I also love to look back at their pictures with their signs and see how much they have grown.

You can see from the picture that we have a 9th grader, 7th grader, 4th grader, 2nd grader, 1st grader and a Pre-Kindergartener. I am anticipating a busy year, but am also excited to get back into teaching full time. I know that a stay-at-home mom is always teaching, but I am referring to the more structured teaching of homeschool.

My favorite group shot

The classic silly shot
May God bless you and yours as you pursue higher learning, whether it is third grade or graduate work.
Sweet Momma

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Calgon, Take Me Away!!!

Have you ever felt in over your head? I seem to be living in such a state lately. =) I am still smiling and it is really not that bad.

I am attempting to prepare for another homeschool year where I will be schooling six children. I have a preschooler up to a freshman in high school. It is our own little one room schoolhouse, but our one room consists of a large home with plenty of room and forced air heating.

I absolutely love schooling my children and I take the responsibility of it very seriously. I plan very carefully and attempt to cover each subject necessary and then some. Each of my students has needs in different areas and these must all be taken into account as I plan out my schedule. This year I hope to help Sunshine become a completely independent reader. Little Buddy refuses to sit by and just play, so he has math, handwriting and age level workbooks to make him feel like the big four year old that he is.

Sweet Pea and Pumpkin will be tackling Sonlight 4, which covers the second half of American history. They will also begin a Latin program this year along with all their other subjects.

M&M is in 7th grade and becoming more independent each day, but still needs quite a lot of guidance. I am hoping to take a good amount of time focusing on character this year. I have a wonderful study called Polished Cornerstones that has hundreds of activities and assignments that help a young lady learn how to be a woman that honors God in all she does.

Elsie is my first high schooler. She will be studying the History of Christianity, Algebra 2, Physical Science, Speech and Debate,etc. Her load is full, but she is very excited. She is taking a class at our co-op called Coffee Shop. I am told that she will learn about how to run a business in this class. I am just hoping that she will be able to make an excellent mocha when she is all done with it. =) She has just recently started a blog that you can check out under my friends list.

Stand-Up Dad and I began teaching our parenting class that runs for 18 weeks last night and we will begin Bible Quizzing practice next week.

Stand-Up Dad often reminds me that we wanted a big family and with many children comes much responsibility. So today, I am thanking God for all the blessings in our home and working at organizing it so that every one of them can grow and learn and thrive!

May God bless you and your family as you prepare for this new school year!
Sweet Momma

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Sunshine and Little Buddy!!!

When we got our referral for Sunshine and Little Buddy we noticed that their birthdays were one day apart, August 15th and 16th. Their oldest sister had given them these birth dates and for that reason they are special to our little ones.

Soon after they came home, two of their sisters had birthdays in January. They got to experience birthday parties and the opening of presents. They were anxious to know when they would have a birthday. It was so hard to explain that they had to wait for eight more months.

One day after Sunshine had been home a few months she seemed sad and I asked her about it. She said that she had never had a birthday before. She was mourning her missed and forgotten birthdays. She told me that nobody celebrates birthdays in Ethiopia. She said, "People don't know when their birthday is." Because of all of this, their first American birthday was extra special.
They have grown so much in the last eight months. Sunshine has grown 3 1/2 inches and Little Buddy has grown 4 1/2 inches. They have also grown in many other ways. They have learned a new language and learned how to be part of our family and also jumped right into a completely new culture. They are still learning each day and taking everything in stride. They are absolutely amazing!!
Here they are riding Little Buddy's new plasma car.

Little Buddy is now four years old. How I adore his smile and his belly laugh when I tickle him. He loves to play games outside and is very fast. His favorite thing to do is play and have FUN. He can be frustrated when he receives a consequence like sitting on the stairs. He tells me that he doesn't like it because it is not fun. So if he could have fun all day long, his world would be perfect. Sounds good to me. Too bad that fun all day is not reality. =)

This little boy was in desperate need of a mommy and daddy and has blossomed in our home. He has learned a lot about how to obey his new mommy and daddy. But this little boy has the strongest will that I have ever come in contact with. It takes him a long time to decide to obey. Please pray for him to continue to trust us enough to obey the first time. And please pray for my patience as I parent this precious little boy.

Sunshine is now six years old. She amazes me daily with all that she can do and her sheer determination. Last night we took the training wheels off her bike and she just rode off down the street. She has decided that having a mommy and daddy is a good thing and works very hard to obey. She struggles with working for perfection. She knows that the only perfect people are God and Jesus. She knows that we all make mistakes and just try our best. But she is very hard on herself.

She is a very generous and loving little girl. She is learning to play piano and can't wait to start homeschooling again. She is smart, smart, smart. She is very easy to teach.

I feel so privileged to be her mommy. I know that God is going to do something amazing with her as she grows up. She asked Jesus to be her Savior this past year and knows that God is helping her in all that she does.

I am so thankful for both of these little ones. Parenting them is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. It is funny how those two things often go together.

Happy Birthday Sunshine and Little Buddy!!! I love you!!!
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our First (And Definitely Not Our Last) Tent Camping Experience!

I grew up camping. My childhood is sprinkled with wonderful memories of time spent in the woods. Up until now, the idea of sleeping on the ground in a tent did not appeal to me. But I also knew that my kids were missing out on tons of fun. So when a friend of mine invited us to join them on a camping trip I knew that I had to snatch the opportunity to become a camping family. I bought cots for the grown ups and began gathering all the things that are necessary for camping.

As you can see, our sight was amazing. Elsie and M&M slept in the small tent in the background. Just beyond their tent was a stream that flowed into a nearby river. It was perfect.
Sweet Pea and Chickie hanging out on the hammock

Our kids learned the well known truth that everything tastes better when cooked over the fire.

Sunday morning was Sunshine's birthday! She was so excited to wake up in the tent to six balloons. She also enjoyed eggs, bacon and donuts for breakfast! She had a wonderful day. I will share more about that later.

The camping trip was a huge success. The kids are already planning another. It was, as I expected, a lot of work. I am still doing laundry. But it was completely worth it!

So if you've never tried it, grab some friends who know how to camp and go for it! Your children will thank you.
Sweet Momma

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Foundations of a Relationship

We have been doing some very hard work this summer. The attachment, bonding, trusting, failing and trying again kind of work. We have been learning about the core foundations of a relationship.

These little ones have come to us with so many gifts, and yet their basic understanding of how relationships work was completely lacking. They desire to have a close trusting relationship with all of us, but have no idea how to achieve it.

In the process of helping and teaching them, I have been taken aback at how basic the foundations of a relationship are.

Honesty: Without this in a relationship, there is no trust. Lying has been a huge issue with our little ones. I remember saying that it was as easy as breathing with one of them. That is not a way that anyone would want to describe one of their children. But I am not blaming this little one who has not been taught about the pitfalls of dishonesty. This has been a long hard process that we are still in the middle of.

After months of working through this they are both acting with the understanding that dishonesty damages a relationship and being truthful honors God. They pray each night that God would help them to tell the truth so that Mommy and Daddy can trust them. They are each seeing little victories each day and we rejoice with them.
Proverbs 12:22
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men (and children) who are truthful.

Seeking Forgiveness: We all sin. We all lie or disobey or offend another person. Without seeking forgiveness the relationship is broken.
1 John 1:8-10
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

This has been a big area to tackle with our little ones. It began with explaining what sin is and how it hurts the person and the relationship with the person they have offended. At the beginning we taught them how to seek forgiveness. " I am sorry for _____. Will you please forgive me?" They learned how to do this. We also taught them to seek God's forgiveness.

Stand-up Dad and I believe, with children, that actions precede belief. This has been true with our little ones. As they began to seek forgiveness it was very apparent that they were not sorry for their sin. They were completing the act, but their beliefs had not yet lined up with that act.

How do you teach someone to feel sorry? You can't. We continued to pray that God would soften their hearts and they would begin to feel some hurt in their heart for their sin.

God has continued to be faithful and both Sunshine and Little Buddy are beginning to understand what seeking true forgiveness looks like. There is no longer the hardness in their eyes when they are caught in their sin.

Yesterday I was talking with Sunshine about some disobedience. She tearfully asked for forgiveness and I gave my forgiveness and held her on my lap. I shared with her how proud I was of her. Just a few weeks ago, if she were given a consequence, she would have expressed anger toward me which would usually lead to more disobedience. Yesterday we were able to seek forgiveness and completely restore our relationship within a few minutes. These changes are huge.

Characterization: What are you characterized by? How are you seen by others? Are you kind? Do you encourage others? Are you willing to humble yourself?

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

In our home we value Christian character. This is something that we teach daily through scripture reading, specific instruction and by example. I fail many times in the area of being an example and am quick to humble myself and ask forgiveness. This was not modeled for me growing up and I know that it had an affect on those relationships.

It has been fun to teach our new ones what God thinks about obedience. Our family paraphrase: "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. And things will go well with you and you will have a good life." They often say that they want to obey so that they can have a good life.

The latest discovery, in regards to relationships, has been that Mommy and Daddy don't like giving consequences. They thought that we enjoyed giving consequences. I was able to explain to them that Daddy and I are required by God to teach them right from wrong, and to give consequences. If we do not teach them these things, we would be disobeying God. This was quite a surprise to them both. Such simple concepts give them peace in their hearts. After that understanding they have not pushed as hard against consequences, since they know that I am trying to obey God too.

Thank you again for your prayers for our family! I covet them. God is surely weaving a masterpiece in our home and we are so thankful!
Sweet Momma