Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parenting Post-September 11th

It seems really odd to me that my children will never really understand September 11th.

That infamous, tragic September 11th was 13 years ago, my children were not alive yet. I know this logically, but conceptually it's just hard to imagine people who don't know what that day was like because they didn't live it. People who can learn about the facts but it will be without the memories of their own personal horror and fear and sorrow and experience that day.

I think of what I, now as a parent, want my children to know about September 11th, but more deeply I think of how I want to parent my children knowing their generation may have their own September 11th.

Would my children as young men and women have the courage to run up the stairs of those burning buildings?

What if my daughters as grown women, married with 2 children and a 3rd on the way were suddenly widowed?

What if my children came face to face with an evil so strong it threatened many, many lives?

How would they respond?

What would be their strength? their peace? their comfort? their hope?

And am I doing enough today to teach them about the only God who will never leave them, who loves them with an everlasting love, who can slay giants, who can save and redeem their lives so that they're ready if and when their world is rocked to the core one beautiful, sunny day.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zeph. 3:17

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Two And A Half Years of a Family Can Do

As I've gone to FOUR different back-to-school nights this past week, I've had the pleasure of running into many friends and the number one question from everyone is how my youngest is doing in kindergarten!

I laugh because everyone knows my Little Girl because she has such a big personality and a gift of connecting with people, so her fan club wants to know how she's doing with this big new milestone.  I also laugh because I think many of us (me being at the top of the list) wondered how kindergarten would go for my spunky, loud, outgoing, active Little Girl!

But, truly, kindergarten is going GREAT for Little Girl.  Her teacher just told me so again today!  Really, I think I'm a little more surprised than I should be as I question the teacher about her behavior during the school day, but this teacher I know well (she taught my 3 older kids kindergarten, too) and she really, truly thinks Little Girl is doing great at school!

Hallelujah!  I am praying it continues because I have certainly sweated out this milestone since we brought Little Girl home from Ethiopia two and a half years ago.

I think so many of my friends asking about my Little Girl and kindergarten is also a testament to her story.  These are friends that watched it all unfold from us waiting to bring Little Girl home to those crazy early days of me arriving at elementary school pick-up for my older kids with this 3 year old from Ethiopia who didn't speak English and thought it was hilarious to run away from me every chance she got!

Our kindergarten teacher said today how amazing she thinks Little Girl is knowing her now while also knowing her background.

And I have to agree, she is amazing.  But, God is the really amazing one!  His power to  transformation a life is so evident when I look at my little girl

This is her from December 2010 as a 3 year old in an orphanage in Ethiopia.  Malnourished, suffering from various skin conditions like ringworm, an orphan with no family:



And this is her two and a half years later at age 5 and a half in America, the picture of health, with a loving forever family:


God placed her in our family and He has helped her to thrive!

Monday, September 8, 2014

My 4th Time to Attend Kindergarten Parent's Night

Tonight I attended the kindergarten parents open house for my 4th child.

It is the night when parents go up to the school without the kids and sit in their child's extremely tiny desk and listen to the teacher talk about what to expect from the year.

I love our kindergarten teacher, my 3 older kids all had this same teacher!

My husband, of course, felt we did not need to go to the kindergarten open house night.  "We have done kindergarten 3 times before!!" he insisted.  But, I countered with that each year there are some changes and we needed to hear the deal for this year.

I was so glad I went, there was a little letter from each child to their parents and then a blank one where the parents were to write back to their kids, I don't want to imagine my little girl arriving at school tomorrow and not having a note from her parent!

But, as I sat there in kindergarten open house for the 4th time, I felt old.

There were parents with their 1st child in kindergarten who were shiny and eager and full of questions!  Three of them had signed up as room parents (even a mom and dad pair which I've never seen in 6 years of having a child in elementary school) and they want to have a class family bowling night so we can all get to know one another.  They were so precious and enthusiastic that I immediately felt guilty for going into the night with the sole goal of not signing my name next to anything!  So, I came home and emailed one of them to sign up for a volunteer role they needed help with.  Never mind the fact that I've already taken a recurring role in my 4th grader's class and also in my 2nd grader's class!  Just somebody keep me from clicking "reply" on that middle school request for volunteers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Evening I Went Back to Middle School

Here's the schedule my husband and I got to run through tonight at our son's middle school open house.  (The kids only go to all 8 classes on Fridays and the other days just half the classes, either odd or even periods, which is why our schedules didn't have us go to the periods in numerical order.):



We got 5 minutes in between classes just like our son gets, only he has to go to his locker and we didn't have to do that step.  Then we were in each of his 8 classes for a total of 7 minutes!  SEVEN minutes!  Can you imagine?  We at least got to put a face with a name for each of his teachers, but the 7 minutes was a complete blur of them fast-talking through their goals/policies/procedures/upcoming projects before that obnoxious bell ringing cut in and sent all of us parents scampering on our way again!

I'm proud to say my husband and I were not late to any of our child's classes but if you tested me on any of the information covered in that hour and a half of open house, 7 minutes with 8 different teachers, I'm sure I'd perform pretty poorly.  Just thankful they didn't make us change into gym clothes for P.E.!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reading Together As A Family

For several weeks we've been reading a book together as a family.

A chapter after dinner on nights we could spare the time.

All 6 of us lingering longer around the table, one of us reading aloud, the others listening.

And then the conversations over what we had read.

It was a beautiful thing.

And something I'm now eager to do again and again.

The book we read was Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games.  It is the true story of a Sudanese child refuge and his journey to becoming an American Olympic runner.

Our family has a soft spot for Africa, so this book was especially up our alley, but I believe every family would be touched and inspired and changed by this book.  It's a true story that will leave you in awe of what God can do.

We had so many great conversations about perseverance, about our blessings, about life in America and the realities of life many other places, about success and achievement, and about God taking something terrible and turning it into something amazing.



 
I'm not sure what we'll read next, but reading together as a whole family is a habit I'd like to keep!

***I am an Amazon affiliate but I truly read this book with my family and loved it and that is the only reason I'm linking to it.***

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Now we get to repeat the whole shebang for the next 34 weeks . . .

Well, I don't know about you, but I am exhausted! 

The back-to-school week has been great because each of my 4 children has come home happy every day.  That, my friends, is a blessing I do not take lightly! 

But, sending my children to school each day, picking them up, and handling all the behind the scenes logistics (think packed lunches and laying out clothes and reading various information sheets sent home from teachers and filling out multitudes of forms and running to the store for last minute supplies we just were told we need and supplying snacks for an entire class and signing agendas and helping with homework and nagging children to hang up backpacks and clean-out lunchboxes -- all times 4 kids!!) has taken every ounce of energy from both my husband and I!

The good news is, we have a long weekend to rest up, recover and regroup.  And I do remember this exhausted feeling every school year and the wondering just how we'll manage to repeat the whole shebang for the next 34 weeks, but then it gets easier.  We adjust and fall into a routine and before you know it, it is Christmas!

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I've been working through cleaning out my kids' closets for a couple weeks now.  Really, it is shameful how many clothes they have! 

I hope I do not ever forget this little boy we met in Ethiopia a few weeks ago with nothing but a ripped, tattered shirt!  It makes me angry at the injustice of it all.  Why should my children have so much stuff and that boy so little?

 My husband and I have been working on some big plans to help about 150 kids we met during our trip to Ethiopia.  The logistics are still being worked and we are asking a lot of God, but He can do big things!
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Back to the closets, I'm ruthlessly getting rid of things and just took a huge bag for donation.  But, I decided to better organize my boys' clothes, I really wanted another shelf or two in their closet.  My husband was understandably thrilled with my suggestion (not really, because I was not offering to build the shelves for myself), but he was a trooper and found some wood in the garage and measured and cut it to fit some support brackets we already had. 'Course it helps that he has the cutest little helper!  The 7 year old loves to build things, so he has become my husband's apprentice on anything handyman related.


(Feel free to be astonished by that organized garage shot.  That is honestly an after picture, you should have seen that garage before we cleaned it out 2 months ago!!)

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One day after school my kids built this house out of their Kapla Blocks:




What I really love about their house is that even with all the space in that large house, the two children are sleeping squished together in one bed!



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 Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


Half-Past Kissin' Time

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

If you give a kid a camera . . .

My 11 year old son has a new interest in photography.  He is taking it as an elective at school next semester, but for now he hijacks my camera and when I download pictures I have surprise gems like these pop up: