Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Father's Day. A time where dads everywhere get honored for being the best dads they can be. I love Father's Day because I was blessed to have an excellent father, I'm married to an excellent father, and both of my grandpas were excellent fathers. I love honoring them because they deserve it.

However, this holiday also brings feelings of sadness at our house. Yesterday we went to my brother's house to celebrate my nephew's birthday and on the way home, Simon very innocently asked when I was going to turn brown like them. That brought on a conversation of how God made people different colors and we can't change the color of our skin, etc. During this conversation Jeremiah was silent, and I had a feeling he was thinking about his first mom and dad and how they were brown like him.

After prayers last night, Jeremiah was still being pensive so I asked him what was wrong. He buried his head in my lap and said, "I'm sad." Even though I pretty much knew what he was sad about, I asked him why he was sad. He said, "I miss Jembula."

Jembula...the boys' birth dad
Jembula....the name that I haven't shared with very many people. Jembula....the name that brings so many raw emotions. Jembula....the name that almost makes me cry every time I say it...because we love him with all our hearts.

I love that Jeremiah still has memories of him (Simon doesn't seem to have any) but it is HARD. Tears were shed by both of us. How do I explain to a child that I LOVE that he is my son but HATE the reason it happened. How do I reassure him that it won't happen again? How do I explain that MY dreams came true because he was ripped away from everyone and everything he knew, from the land where he was meant to live, and brought halfway around the world to live with strangers who don't look like him, to a country that is completely different, and where they hear everyone say how "lucky" they are to be in our family.

The fact is we live in a fallen world. I wish that sin hadn't happened in the Garden of Eden so everyone who wanted to have babies COULD have babies and those families would be able to stay together forever in their original place of birth. Nobody would have to make the decision to watch their children starve or give them up for adoption. Everyone would have plenty of food and a way to provide for their family so they could stay together forever. Sadly, we don't live in that world and families won't always be able to stay together and couples that would love to have biological children won't always be able to, and until our good Lord comes back, adoption will still be necessary. Adoption is beautiful, but it in a perfect world, it wouldn't be necessary.

So, on this Father's Day, we rejoice in the fathers that we get to see, who are there for the day to day events, who give their all to be the best dad they can be. But we also grieve for fathers like Jembula who don't get to watch his kids grow up except in pictures. Fathers like Jembula who don't get to see Simon's personality shine through and Jeremiah's brilliant mind figuring things out. Fathers like Jembula who loved his kids so much that he let 2 strangers care for them when he couldn't. We love you Jembula and honor you on this Father's Day as well. Thank you for entrusting your boys to us. I hope we can meet the expectations you have for us.

Daddy and boys playing with an erector set

Boys' new bikes

Sweet boys

Balancing bandaid boxes on their heads


Shooting Star

Our little family

Cheesy grins...LOVE THEM!

Father's Day morning

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Croghan Language Academy

OK, I know that I said I would be blogging about the 3rd seminar that I went to at the TTD conference, and I WILL, but I'm so excited that I couldn't wait to blog about this!

I told you a couple days ago that I was probably going to enroll the boys in some kind of Spanish class in the near future. Well, that "near future" turned out to be TODAY! I have been communicating with Krista, who created the Croghan Language Academy and I met at the TTD conference on Friday, the last couple days and tonight I enrolled the boys in the Little Amigos program at the Croghan Language Academy! I'm very excited because I'll be able to learn Spanish along side the boys. It is also nice to actually know the professor. Krista has classes for Kindergarten all through high school so no matter what level you are at now, then she has a class for you! 

We will begin our class on July 15 and the boys are already asking when that will get here. In fact, we had a choice of taking the class in July or September and they both shouted "JULY!" I LOVE that they love learning right now. Hopefully that will continue on through the years.

So, who else would like to take this class with us this summer? Click here to go to the website and please let me know if you enroll! This is going to be so great!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TTD Session #2: Ballistic Homeschooling: Teaching Boys

I have to say that this was one of my favorite sessions of the weekend. Hal and Melanie Young have 8 children and 6 of them are boys, so they have certainly had experience with teaching boys. I loved the way they taught the class together and played off each other. The session was over far too quickly! I will tell you now that some of the comments I will be making below are generalizations and NOT true for every child.

WHY: Because of these 2.

Simon and Jeremiah in their new t-ball t-shirts
WHAT: I learned a LOT. Are you ready? Here we go:

It is true that girls develop sooner than boys...IN SOME AREAS. Girls develop fine motor skills such as writing sooner but boys develop better spatial development sooner than girls. For example, if you put a pile of blocks down in front of a girl, she might build a simple house, but put a pile in front of a boy and you will probably end up with a skyscraper or some other elaborate tower.

Teach what you are teaching: For a lot of boys, writing can take a while to learn and will sometimes cause frustration if they don't feel they are doing it fast enough or correctly. So, if you aren't teaching writing, then don't make them write. For example, if you have them read a chapter and you want them to answer some questions to test understanding, then writing the answers isn't necessary. The answers can be given verbally and you will still know whether they understood what they read or not.

Gender differences in learning: Research has shown that boys and girls learn differently. Girls like quiet, warm, safe, nurturing environments to learn in. Boys, however, like animated, cool, where you can argue your point, have discussion, and be active. They gave the example of the scene in the movie "The Incredibles" where they are sitting around the table and the kids are going bonkers and Mr. Incredible is completely in his own little world. Eventually ElastiGirl yells at him and says "It's time to ENGAGE!"  Boys like you to be animated, loud, and energetic. Also, we need to turn off ALL screens or they will be focused on that.

Using their "big muscles" will help them engage. When I say "big muscles," I mean their legs, arms, etc. Thomas Jefferson wrote at a standing desk because when he was standing he could focus better than if he was sitting. If your boy has been sitting for a long period of time, have them give you 10 on the stairs and they will engage with you better. If you force a boy to sit for hours at a time, towards the end of that time they are more focused on sitting still than they are on studying. Instead let them run around outside or do some exercises, etc. to let them wear off that energy.

Boys and men can think better when there is a little pain involved: One thing I noticed this past year was that if the boys were trying hard to figure out something, they would start chewing on their hands. I would ask them to take their fingers out of their mouth but pretty soon they would be there again. The thinking is that men NEED to be able to think with pain because in the past it was only men who would go to war and if they ever got hurt, they still needed to be able to function and think clearly on what to do next. That made sense to me because they needed to have the presence of mind to get out of harm's way if at all possible. I don't know about you but if I get hurt, I just want to curl up until it goes away.

Boys need to have a purpose or goal: We have all had times where we questioned the necessity to learn something. You can bet that your child will someday ask you that same question. First, make them think about what they are learning. Let's say it's poetry that they are asking about. Well what are they learning through poetry? For one thing, it can help you learn to be concise. You can take a big idea and put it into 2 or 3 lines. It teaches you to use the right words at the right time. So how will that help them in the future? If you want to ask your boss for a raise, do you want to meander all over the place while trying to ask or be concise and get the words out? Concise, of course. If you can give your son a purpose, then their whole attitude will change. Boys need to have a goal.

Boys also like competition: My boys are pretty close in age so I could have them compete against each other sometimes, but if you don't have someone like that, then have them compete against themselves. Time them at a task and then tell them if they beat it tomorrow they can have a treat. The treat doesn't have to be anything big, maybe a piece of candy from the candy dish, but if they are competing, they will generally try harder.

The biggest goal for us as home educators is this: Teach them to LOVE learning. If they love learning, then they will do it of their own free will and you won't have to force them to do it. 

ACTION: This past year I did fall into the habit of having the boys sit for 3-4 hours while we had school and then go let them play when we were done and I will definitely not do that next year. I am planning on working on 1 topic for about an hour and then let them have 15 minutes outside to run off their energy. I am also going to try giving them a goal to shoot for each day.

What are some things that you do with your boys to keep their attention?

Tomorrow I'll be sharing about some writing games that were fun and educational. See you then!

TTD session #1: Why Learning Spanish Should be Towards the Top of the Curriculum List for Homeschoolers

Before I begin my review of this session, I wanted to tell you what you can expect to read in my reviews. There were SO MANY sessions that we had to choose from and some were hard to decide, so the first thing I'm going to share is WHY I chose that particular session. I will then share what I learned and finally what, if any, action I will be taking because of that session. So basically, you will get WHY, WHAT, and the ACTION.

The first session I went to on Friday was by Krista Croghan. Krista has been a Spanish teacher for many years and has created an online Spanish class called Croghan Language Academy. The session was very informational and fun and we even spoke a little Spanish during the class.

WHY: I never did take a foreign language and there are times that I wish I had. I also know that it is easier for kids to learn another language so why not start teaching the boys now instead of in high school (or college) when most people do it. So when I saw this was an option, I was intrigued.

WHAT: I learned that bilingual children concentrate better, they will have a competitive edge when it comes to education, they can sort out what is important better, they have improved standardized test scores over monolinguals, and knowing a 2nd language provides better understanding of the 1st language. Now obviously English is NOT the first language for our boys, but they no longer remember any Amharic or Sidamigna so they won't be comparing it to that. Also, Spanish is one of the easier languages to learn along with Italian, French, and Dutch.

I don't know if our boys will go to college or not, but many universities require at least 2 years of a foreign language but most recommend 4 years. If they do go to college, then I don't want them to have to try to catch up in the fast pace of college when they could have been learning it all these years. Besides, it will allow them to communicate with the growing Hispanic population. Did you know that the Hispanic population is the fastest growing population? It is projected that by 2050 there will be around 133 million Spanish-speaking people in the United States.

ACTION: I had already kind of decided that I wanted to teach the boys some Spanish anyway, so it is no surprise that I am interested in this program. I still have to work out a few details yet, but I am planning on having them in some kind of Spanish program in the near future. Also, with this program I would be able to learn along with the boys which I would enjoy.

I'm many of you have taken a foreign language class? What language? Do you still speak it? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

Tomorrow I will be blogging about one of my favorite sessions...Ballistic Homeschooling: Teaching Boys. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention

This past weekend Garth and I (and the boys) attended the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention in Omaha. We had a fantastic time and got to hear some wonderful speakers. Over the next few days I'll be blogging about the individual sessions I went to which included why Spanish (or another language) should be at the top of the list for homeschooling families, Ballistic Homeschooling (teaching boys), Dinosaurs for kids and parents, and more.

While we were at the sessions, the boys were able to go to the kids conference where they learned about the Armor of God. Each boy got a belt of truth that they got to color as well as a shield of faith. They had a GREAT time as well both days.  So come back tomorrow to hear  about one of the sessions I attended.

Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman