Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm going to be published!!!

A few months ago, a friend of mine mentioned a writing contest in her blog. Always excited about writing opportunities, I went to the website and read the rules. They were publishing a book of stories about motherhood and looking for true, funny stories to include. Heck, I know a little about motherhood and I love a good funny story. So I played around with a couple of ideas, then one day my mischievous youngest daughter stuck a bead up her nose and a story was born.

I sat down and wrote the story that day, revised it a couple of times, and submitted it right before the deadline from the Starbucks near Mom and Dad's house. The original deadline was 7/31, so when I didn't hear anything by then, I figured it didn't get in. It was, after all, only my first try at getting published, so I wasn't too disappointed. The afternoon of 7/31, however, I got an email saying that due to unavoidable circumstances, the deadline would be extended to mid-September.

I forgot about it until today when I received an email saying they want to include my story in their book! Woo-hoo!! I'm so excited! The book is by Hearts at Home and will be available March 1, 2008. Now I have to write a 50-word bio to be included with my story and I'll be famous :-) At least a tiny bit.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My little ballerina

L had her second dance class this week and I didn't tell her until 15 minutes before it was time to leave and I pulled her tights and leotard out of the dryer. Hey, it wasn't last minute as the clothes were *clearly dry* before I made her put them on. When I told her we were headed to dance class, her reply was priceless. "Another dance class?! Thank you, Mommy!" Yep, I'm the hero.

K and I sat in the tiny foyer of the dance studio during L's class and we did her arithmetic class. In the middle of discussing one of those deeply fascinating math concepts, we heard a perfect storm of tapping break out and I had to wonder what in the world those little girls were doing. When I had put K to work on some worksheets, I sneaked back and peeked in the room. The girls had switched to their ballet shoes and were pointing their toes, and standing on tiptoes. I swear the teachers were saying something about "fondue" and "ravioli", but it was close to lunch time, so that may just be what I heard. I was fairly amazed at how much the teachers had them doing on only their second class.

After all, fondue and ravioli seem pretty advanced.

We get to be in a parade

Saturday is the fabulous Matthews Alive festival, which we visit every year to watch the parade, ride the carnival rides, explore the crafts, climb over the fire trucks, make the kids crafts, and indulge in a little carnival food. Because every balanced diet needs to include some carnival food every once in awhile.

This Saturday, we won't be watching the parade because we'll actually be in the parade, which has K over the moon with excitement. It's been one of her dearest dreams for several years now. We'll be riding the float sponsored by Christian Adoption Services and Wendy's. On a side note, a couple of years ago, that float got caught on one of the balloon arches and jerked rather suddenly causing poor Wendy to grab her handhold very quickly, so we could use some smooth ride prayers :-)

So it's another exciting Saturday in our world full of outdoor games and activities and my only hope is that it will be less hot and humid this time. The high is forecast at 86, so we'll see.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sardines for another week

The dealership figured out what's wrong with my car. The computer that controls the fan is no longer controlling the fan, which means we need a new computer thingy. The computer thingy has to be shipped from California and with the upcoming holiday weekend, it'll be next week before it arrives. The dealership offered to let us keep the sardine can loaner or trade it back for our van, but I decided we'd rather be cramped and cold.

And, yes, I found and turned on the child-lock for L's door. It ticks off Little Miss Independent that she can't get out by herself, but I'm not feeling real sorry for her!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Surviving childhood

Since our car is still in the shop with A/C issues, the dealership was incredibly nice and offered us a loaner today. It's a tiny sardine can with the fancy mane of Daewoo. My head almost touches the ceiling and we have to hold the car seats out of the way in order to buckle the seatbelts because they aren't made to accomodate the width of a carseat. There are other tiny car issues with it, so just take my word for it and never buy one of these.

We had planned a field trip to a local living history farm, so we packed ourselves into the sardine can and took off. As we were exiting the interstate, there was some commotion from behind my seat and a panicked scream from L. She had opened her car door and was trying to hold it closed, but we were on one of those curving ramps where inertia was against her. Thankfully, the sardine can is small enough that it took only about 2 seconds to figure out what was going on, reach back and pull the door closed, and lock it. I guess the kid had just had to try out all those buttons and levers on the door.

I looked back after it happened and K had started shivering. "Are you cold?" I asked.

"No, it just scared me."

The girls spent the rest of the trip to the farm having their stuffed bunnies talk about how scared they had been and "calling" various people on the toy phone to talk about it. Self-initiated play therapy. Any counselor would've been proud.

Monday, August 27, 2007

1/10th of the way through school

We finished Lesson 19 today, which is just over 1/10th of the 180 days the state recommends. We just have to do what we've already done 9 more times. It makes it sound so easy. Of course, we've still got 10 days worth of field trips to work in, which will make it even more fun. I registered today for Homeschool Days at the Biltmore Estate in mid-September. And why yes, I *do* love living in NC with all the really cool homeschool programs and field trip destinations available. At this particular event, K will get to watch a gargoyle begin sculpted in stone and make her own of clay. She gets to watch and participate in watercolor, floral arranging, portrait painting, patterns, musical instruments, and weaving demonstrations. Does that not sound like something completely up K's (and Mom's) alley? Plus we get to tour the mansion and all this for far less than the normal entry fee.

Speaking of school, K has decided that there are certain standards that a second grader must live up to. Since this all came up yesterday after church and the promotion to the second grade Sunday School class, I wonder if it might be a little bit of peer-pressure. She decided to put Bunny away since second-graders do not play with or sleep with special animals anymore. That lasted until bedtime when she decided that her babysitter still has a special stuffed animal, so maybe she could keep Bunny until she's a teenager. She dressed in a black T-shirt and pants today since she thought they made her look more mature and carried her purse with her to the store this afternoon, asking if she looked like a second-grader. I sighed sadly and told her that yes, she looks very mature and she shouldn't worry about it, but just enjoy being a kid while she can. They grow up so fast.

"Heat streak in jeopardy"

Yes, that is actually a headline on the Charlotte Observer website today. It seems that at 27 days, it's the third longest streak ever of temperatures above 90. And it sounds like they're worried we might not hit 90 today. Worried. Hello?!?! I would love for it to not hit 90 today! I would also love for it to rain after two days of clouds to taunt us. You see, there seems to be only so much rain to go around and while Texas and the mid-west are floating away, we are *parched*. Everything looks so sad and brown, they're closing lakes and handing down water restrictions, and who knows how this'll affect our fall leaves.

On the plus side, we haven't had to worry about events getting rained out this summer and my umbrella doesn't smell musty. That's something to be thankful for :-)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Keeping 'em busy

Today is officially the last day of summer vacation for all the public school kids in area and so it was also the last official day for lots of *stuff* to be open during the day. Things like Carowinds and my friend's community pool will henceforth be evenings or weekends only. So we finished up school quickly this morning, packed a lunch, and had one last hurrah with my friend and her 3 girls at their pool. Where we were the only ones there. Seriously. Geez, was everyone else out shopping for last minute school supplies? Don't they know it was their *last chance* to swim before 4pm on a weekday? What is wrong with these people?!?

I do love hanging out with these particular friends. Her girls range in age from just older than K to just older than L and they all get along fabulously. Strangely enough, the hit of the day was L's barbie dolls. Unfortunately, 3 dolls + 5 girls = trouble. K *never* plays with barbies, but she and the other oldest decided to steal the dolls from the younger ones and taunt them with keep-away. After an impressive lecture on why we never act like a bully or we will never be allowed out of the house again, K played nice and even brute-forced the others into playing nice, too. Sigh...

After that little incident, the girls had a blast with the big slide and the huge kiddie area (this is one nice neighborhood pool) and Mommy had a nice time hanging out and chatting with another adult. We ended up staying over 4 hours, then finally headed home to clean up and get dinner. On the way, W called and said he would be late, so a change in plans was called for. Hummmmn... I took the girls to Sonic and as we were sitting at the little order screen, it started to get a bit warm in the car. I figured it'd cool down after we got on our way again. Nope. Uh-oh. It was just after 5 on a Friday evening during the hottest part of the year. And my A/C was out.

Thankfully, it's under warranty and the dealership has Saturday morning hours. Stinkfully, my car was a mess and needed a good cleaning before I let anyone else see it. Then the thought hit me. We're still in our swimsuits and the apartment complex has a car wash bay complete with trash can, vaccuum, water, and a cover, and I know the girls would *love* to help me clean the car. So after 4 hours in the sun and water, they thought I was the most fun mom in the world because I "let" them help while I unloaded all the seats and stacked them under our little porch, emptied the car of everything that wasn't trash, and headed over to the car wash bay with the cleaning supplies. We opened all the doors, vaccuumed, and wiped down every surface with Lysol. (Yes, I know Armor All would have been the most obvious choice, but I didn't *have* any Armor All and I *do* have 2 kids and an open-eating policy.) The girls really did enjoy this, but maybe because it was a prelude to getting to wash the outside. We finally got to the outside and we would scrub a bit, then I would rinse both the car and the girls who were screaming, "Spray me!" and laughing hysterically. By the time we were done, we were so wet, W (who had walked over to see what we were up to) had to drive the van back to our apartment while we walked.

Between school, swimming, and car washing, we didn't stop all day and I'm hoping I wore the girls out so they'll sleep until noon tomorrow. Of course, I still have to get up and have the car into the shop around 8, so it really won't help.

PS - Marybeth, if you read this, I'm blaming you for my A/C quitting. I think my van was taking lessons from yours!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am so cool (or at least my phone is!)

After waiting anxiously for our contract with the "other" provider to end so we could keep our numbers, we switched to Cingular and got cool new phones. Hey, when your only phone is your cell phone, it needs to be cool. At least that's how I justified getting the model with a high-resolution camera and super-deluxe music functionality. Thankfully, W gets a work discount on these things.

After months of having a "scat" ringtone (the vocal kind of scat, not the nature kind used to identify animals, but I digress), I finally got adventurous. I bought the new Hairspray CD and decided the song "I Can Hear the Bells" would make the perfect ringtone. So I imported the CD into iTunes, bluetoothed the song over to my phone (I *love* technology!), and was sorely disappointed when my phone wouldn't accept it as a ringtone. No explanation, no nothing. I spent the afternoon at the pool with 6 kids (yes, I was counting heads every 30 seconds) and that blasted phone trying to make it see things my way. Maybe it's just not a Hairspray fan.

Then I got to thinking...maybe the song was too long. Sounds stupid, but I couldn't get anywhere with file format or memory location, so let's try the most un-technical answer. Besides, the beginning of the song makes a goofy ringtone. Surely there was a way to save a short segment from the middle of the song as a small file for the ringtone. I decided to research possibilities and use my resources wisely, which means I asked W how to do it. We decided GarageBand could probably handle it easiest and I could just drag the file from iTunes and drop it into a new project. GarageBand than neatly turned the file into a digital track split into beats and measures! Technology rocks! Then all I had to do was find the part I wanted, copy it, and paste it into a new track. I deleted all the other tracks, and viola! There was my ringtone file! After using the share function to save it as mp4 (just like the one I tried earlier), I bluetoothed it over to my phone, which immediately asked me if I'd like to use the new file as my ringtone. Why yes, I would.

Now my phone says "I can hear the bells" whenever someone calls and I have a feeling I may be giving everyone their own custom ringtone soon, 'cause this is all just too easy and too fun.

Differences of Homeschool Opinion

Every few days I find an email in my inbox from a homeschooling resource that includes several short articles from different homeschool writers. I generally just delete them, but I had a few minutes and read through the beginnings of the articles and one of them just raised my hackles. The writer was saying that she can categorize all homeschoolers into two categories - those who stick to a traditional school model done at home and those who are more creative, expressive, hands-on, and teach more with life experiences. She said those in the first group need prayer and guidance from those in the second group, who should find every opportunity to offer commentary and resources on why the second way is the *only* way to homeschool successfully and happily.

As you can probably tell, I belong to the first group - those who use a more traditional school model at home. I supplement with lots of activities and can do far more one-on-one fun activities than a traditional school can accommodate, but it's still essentially school with textbooks, workbooks, curriculum guides, tests, and grades. And, whadaya know, it's been both successful and happy for us.

I have all respect for those homeschooling moms who thrive on researching different curriculums and choosing and implementing different unit studies, doing all kinds of activities and projects to broaden their kids' experience. They, no doubt, have lots of fun and get a great educational experience. I, however, have no desire of spending my every waking moment devising fun and creative schooling ideas when I can simply take advantage of the work already done by so many other very intelligent, experienced educators.

I also know that if I didn't have a set curriculum that tells me exactly what we need to get accomplished each day, I would never get us motivated to accomplish anything. That's just me. The other approach sounds like lots of fun and we'd probably enjoy it a whole lot more while we were doing it, but I know that my reality clashes with my idealism and I'd be overwhelmed in no time and then just...shut down. And I've seen that happen to other homeschoolers who should probably just get a full school-at-home curriculum and *do it*. Instead, they get very excited about the idealistic homeschool styles, get started with the best of intentions, then the efforts just slack off and school takes a backseat to life's daily demands. The sad thing is that the kids end up learning *nothing* and fail to get the foundation they need for all advanced learning.

So, my dear writer of the offending article, please don't pity those of use who choose to "school at home". By all means, sing the praises of your own homeschooling choices, but don't dismiss what works for the rest of us. After all, my daughter can score well on a standardized test *and* find solutions to challenges on her own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

They're learning more than we think

Often kids come out with completely unexpected statements that show just how much they are really absorbing from life, even when we aren't looking. Yesterday both my girls gave their own unique examples of this.

My goal yesterday was to wash every piece of dirty laundry in the house (and this is a huge task!), so as soon as I got dressed, I stripped and remade all the beds. L came trudging upstairs looking for me just as I was putting the comforter back on our bed. "Wow! You made your bed!", she said in obvious wonder and amazement. Even the 3-year-old has noticed that Mommy doesn't often perform that simple task.

In Kathryn's schoolwork, she is reviewing the fact that sentences start with a capital and end with a punctuation mark, usually a period. For the first time, I was supposed to dictate a sentence for her to write to see if she remembered those simple rules. The sentence I was supposed to give was "Jan hit it." So I gave the sentence, she started to write it, then covered her work saying, "Mom, don't look." When she was finished, she had written, "Jan, hit it." Well, we might as well just promote her to third grade. When I asked her why she put the comma in, she said, "It just sounded like there was a pause right there." So then we started to talk about how the comma changed it from talking about Jan to talking to Jan, which prompted her to change the period to an exclamation point. Apparently, if we're telling Jan to hit it, we may as well tell her with some excitement.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just because these are good!

Today for lunch we had mini pizza pockets. These are so good and easy that I wanted to post our directions here.

canned biscuits (the large ones)
pizza sauce (we found some in a squeeze bottle)
pepperoni, chopped into small pieces
shredded cheese

Flatten a biscuit, spread a little sauce in the middle, and sprinkle with a little pepperoni and cheese. Fold the biscuit in half and use a fork to press down the edges tightly. Bake at 350 until golden brown.


Monday, August 20, 2007

The Importance of Organization

I love days like today when things seem to run smoothly, even when we're so very busy. It really only happens when I take the time to get organized and prepared *before* I have to dive into the week, so you'd think I would have noticed this and done it more often by now.

Yesterday, I took the "Leaning Tower of School Stuff" (of which there were several and they were *growing*) and organized it into neatly labeled hanging file folders in a file box I had saved from my "real" teaching days. W and I spent a couple of hours last night making sure all the papers and supplies for the week were organized into daily folders for each girl and I had the table cleaned and everything set out for our first activity of the morning.

We were up and breakfasted in good time, then got right to work and had a good start on everything before I had to leave for a rheumatologist appointment (K made a 100 on her first spelling test - woohoo!). W worked from home to watch the girls and K worked incredibly hard on her seatwork while I was gone. When I got home, I made lunch for me and the girls (W wasn't too interested in the ham sandwich-on-a-stick things I made for the girls, who by the way ate them with much more enthusiasm than if I'd put the exact same ingredients on a normal sandwich) and we finished school. We then went to visit a friend who has 3 girls that my girls love and they got to play and I got to help paint and get in some adult conversation :-) We then headed home, cleaned up, went out to dinner (I forgot to thaw the chicken I originally had planned - whoops!), came back, and I got to run out to Target *all by myself* where I plugged my headset into my phone and had a long conversation with Mom.

I finally have a few moments to sit and play on the computer and I feel like I've earned it and there's nothing else I ought to be doing. Except laundry; that has its own Leaning Towers that need to be dealt with. And I should probably unload the dishwasher. And find those screws to fix the kitchen chair. And straighten up the living room. And finish emptying that last box I finally got moved upstairs to our bedroom.

A mother's work never ends, no matter how organized she is!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Crafty Kind of Day

In response to lots of begging from the girls, I cleaned off the table and pulled out the craft stuff. We had paid a visit to our local craft store and the girls picked out gifts to make for Aunt Angela's birthday, so they were anxious to get started. The girls painted while I made L a new bow and finished her dance bag, then we finished the boxes for Aunt Angela, then I put the elastic in the skorts Grandma sent, then I finally put clips on 2 bows I made over a year ago and put the trim on K's new purse. Lots of loose ends tied up :-)

I'm including pics of the bag, purse, and the boxes, so Angela will get a preview of the girls' gifts that (hopefully) will get put in the mail tomorrow. I didn't get a picture of the girls in their new outfits, but they wore them to the church picnic tonight and got lots of compliments. Lots of "oh they're so cute" and "your mom's a wonderful seamstress" so kudos to Grandma and thanks for the very cute clothes!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Getting Ready for Fall Activities

Today we got school done, then headed out for a quick trip to the dance studio to get L registered. We get there, sign the forms, and find out classes start next week and we need to be outfitted. No time like the present. We headed out to get L's gear, which caused a little sibling jealousy, so we had to look for K's soccer gear, too.

To find everything we needed we went to Target, another Target, dance store, sporting goods store, back to Target, craft store, then home, which made a long afternoon, but the girls were very cooperative. Of course, that's probably because they had a personal stake in it! K is now the proud owner of a soccer ball, a really cool soccer backpack ($3.98!), socks with shin guards, and a water bottle. L came away with a leotard, tights, ballet shoes, tap shoes, and I'm making her a personalized dance bag since we couldn't find one for less than the $30 the dance store was charging. She is the happiest little ballerina in the world and she can't wait until her class Wednesday. I have a feeling it's going to be a *long* wait for all of us.

For those who like advanced planning, L's recital is June 15, 2008 (aka Father's Day), at 6pm. Just in case you want to plan a trip out this way :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Angela!

I hope you're having a wonderful day!

And not getting swept away in the floods from Dean. With all that rain, it hardly seems like Texas at all.

Fall Activities

I *think* I've got our fall schedule pinned down with school and extra-curricular activities. I love the staying home part of homeschooling, but I do also have to work to get the girls involved in outside activities. Charlotte, with its large homeschooling community, has a ton of opportunities for homeschoolers with lots of daytime classes and programs. This is good in that there's a lot of choices and it's bad in that there's so much to choose from. Whittling it down to what fits in your schedule, appeals to your child's interest, doesn't cost to much, and meets your family's needs is a tough thing!

So this year it looks like -

Monday - home

Tuesday - K-afternoon soccer clinic

Wednesday - L-morning dance class

Thursday - (1st, 3rd of the month) - K-afternoon Brownies

Friday - home

I may add a morning Bible Study for me on Tuesday or Thursday, when the church has childcare and K can take her seatwork to do. All in all, not too crazy of a schedule. It still leaves K with only 1 activity most weeks, L with only one any week, and they still get some interaction time with other kids their age. It also leaves Monday and Friday free since those are the most popular days for places to schedule special activity days - like nature classes at Chimney Rock Park, Homeschool Days in Wilmington, or math in music with the Charlotte Symphony. One of the cool things about homeschooling is being able to take neat field trips.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Channeling Her Inner Redneck

Everyone in the adoption world says it's amazing how well kids fit into their adoptive families, exhibiting the same traits as biological children as if they shared the same genes and L has certainly shown that she's no exception. Twice now this little girl has cut her own hair and both times it's been into a mullet. (Yes, my roots are showing :-)) Last time it was into kinda a quarter mullet, but since then our preschool curriculum has included lots of cutting practice and she got the *whole* thing today. Everyone had gone to their rooms, but L got a little tired of hers. It seems she went to the kitchen, pulled the scissors out of the junk drawer, trotted off to the bathroom, and tried "to make my hair cute". I found her after she had finished the chop job and gone back to playing. Imagine my horror seeing my own little Chinese redneck staring back at me!

We were supposed to be headed out the door for an appointment with my allergist, but thankfully I had planned to leave really early so we had time for an emergency trip to the hair salon where the only haircut that would work at all (besides the mullet, which wasn't working for me) was a pixie. So L's hair that was *finally* growing out from the last trim job is now very short all over. I'm so glad she has earrings and dresses very girly since it's such a boy haircut. It doesn't look too bad, really, but it's still such a shock. She *does not* like it and gets such a sad look on her face when she sees it in the mirror, so I'm hoping this will finally cure her of cutting her own hair. The scissors will be banned for a time and we'll have to find something else to do in place of her cutting activity each day. I've included some before and after pics, including the bald spot she cut into the back and one of K who got a haircut, too, but *didn't* cut her own hair!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Kathryn's Wish list

Kathryn will be turning 7 soon as has been building a birthday wish list for the past several weeks. I thought I would post it here so any out-of-state relatives who want to see it, can.

* Large, stuffed My Little Pony
* Hello Kitty Backpack (at Target, plaid)
* Bed tent
* Johnny Kapahala - Back on Board (Disney movie)
* High School Musical Shirt - Blue or Red
* Crayola Thermos (pink, looks like a big crayon)
* High School Musical 2 (Disney movie, not sure if it'll be available by then)
* Bike bell
* Computer game
* Bouncy Ball Kit (craft kit she found at Target)
* Time with Dad
* Mario Party 8 for the Wii
* Pink Office Chair (found one at Staples she likes)

In other news, Kathryn has finished her 10th chapter book - woohoo! She has reached her goal and gets to go on a camping trip with Dad. She is so excited about it that she went to the library today and checked out the directory of North American campgrounds, which was so big she could hardly carry it. Having to wait until the weather cools off is going to test her patience terribly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

To the Golden Shore

A few years ago, the teaching pastor of our church gave a sermon on a man named Adoniram Judson. Our pastor thought so highly of this man that he named his son after him (Judson, as his wife wasn't too keen on the name Adoniram). I remembered only one specific point from that sermon and that was the letter Judson wrote to the father of the woman he wanted to marry. Judson was on his way to become the first American missionary and he was well aware of the dangers he and his wife-to-be, Nancy, could face. His letter asked Nancy's father if he would be willing to part with his daughter forever, knowing that she would be faced with illness, persecution, a desperately hard life, and possibly killed for her work to spread the gospel of Christ. If you were Nancy's father, what answer would you have given?

For Christmas, I bought W a copy of Judson's biography, To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson. I pulled it out recently and read it myself. Frankly, I don't read too many biographies, but this one was amazingly well-written, interesting, and terribly convicting. Judson was a brash young man, forging ahead at any cost to get himself and a few other young men appointed and sent out as missionaries to the far east. He was incredibly intelligent, well-spoken, and persuasive, eventually securing his missionary goal and his wife (her father allowed her to make her own decision in whether or not to marry and become a missionary). He and Nancy ended up in Burma, an incredibly savage kingdom with little interaction with the outside world. Their work was full of hardships, setbacks, death, pain, imprisonment, illness, and separation, but they soldiered on and saw some eventual growth from their efforts.

Eventually, the work claimed the lives of Nancy and their three children. Judson remarried twice, and every time God provided a wife to love and support him exactly as he needed suring that stage of his life. Judson's work included preaching, teaching, discipling, and most importantly, translating the Bible into Burmese and creating an English-Burmese dictionary.

Through the book, you see Judson undergo a metamorphosis from the headstrong young man bent on doing whatever it took to finally leave America as her first missionary to a self-effacing man of wisdom, willing to blend into the background so that God's work might shine on its own. He had come to realize how his first efforts had been for his own honor and prestige and it took a great deal of soul-searching before he could forgive himself and move past his feelings of guilt over it. Truthfully, that was exactly the kind of attitude that was needed to motivate the American churches to start and sustain a missionary program.

Could I put myself in that same position? Leaving my home, knowing that I would probably never see it or any of my family again? Knowing that I was doing it for the glory of God? I wish I could say yes, but it would be such a hard thing. Thankfully, the missionaries of today are not required to give up everything with such bleak prospects for their future on earth. They have extensive training and support and year-long furloughs back home, but I have seen their commitment to their work and it is just as intense as the commitment the Judsons made so long ago. After all, our life on earth is such a momentary thing compared to our eternal life with Christ and those who follow him.

2 Weeks of Homeschool Done!

Since the girls were so excited about getting started with school (and Daddy was going to be out of town for a week), we decided to get started even earlier than our planned early start. For the past two weeks, we've been getting up, getting ready, and *learning*. Just to show you haw excited the girls have been, they've both been dressing up, an entirely un-K thing to do. Even K has been dressing often in dresses and skirts for our morning classes.

Our day starts with the pledge, singing (L is usually dancing as well), memory verses, and Bible story. Even L has been memorizing short verses well. We then all sit at the table where I get L started on some easy worksheets and I teach K phonics, writing, and reading, then K does seatwork while I work with L on the letter of the week and the harder worksheets and art projects that are on the schedule. Then (with a lot of encouragement), L goes to play, while I teach Arithmetic, Spelling, Poetry, reading again, and the daily Activity Time where K does all the other subjects and fun stuff rotated by day.

We've been having a lot of fun, especially with teaching preschool since there are tons of art projects and fun things to do. We've painted and made handprints, glued macaroni, made a tug-of-war game, and next class we get to make an alligator out of clay. K generally gets jealous of all the cool stuff that L gets to do. After all, second grade is a bit more serious, though not always. One day we played a game where K hopped all the way to the apartment office answering flashcards. She took her first test yesterday in phonics and scored a 100. Her reading is fabulous, especially after all the practice she's gotten this summer. Her dad challenged her to read 10 chapter books, after which he would take her camping. She finished #9 last night and it anxious to get to the library for a 10th so she can reach her goal.

9 days down and 171 to go!

For a Good Cause

A while back, I was notified that a wonderful organization devoted to helping children in Chinese orphanages, Love Without Boundaries, was compiling a book of stories, pictures, etc., to raise money for their projects. They were looking for submissions from adoptive families, which would have been fun, but I never had time to put together anything. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got another notice that the LWB folks were doing the final layout and needed about 30 more pictures. So, being the proud mother I am, I dressed the girls in matching outfits and dragged them outside. Between threats and cajoling, I finally got a decent shot with both girls looking at me and smiling *at the same time*. I emailed it off to the LWB contact, who responded saying they planned to use the picture in their book! The book should be available for order soon for delivery in November.

If you would like to contribute to a great cause and have a wonderful book for yourself, you can find out more about it from their website Supposedly, they hope to have the ordering information up later this month and the books should be ready in November. For a preview, here's the picture of K and L that will be in the book.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Our summer excitement

A couple of weeks ago, we had a reality check, one daughter showed that she was a little more adventurous than we thought, and the other showed that she's one cool cookie.

We've been enjoying our time at our apartment complex pool this summer, swimming at least once a week. It's a great design for kids, with a large section that 1 1/2' deep and steps that lead from that down to the 3' - 4 1/2' part. L tends to spend most of her time in the shallow part, by the edge playing with assorted pool toys, while K swims all over the place, practicing her diving skills. Just this year has she gotten brave enough to learn to swim down to the bottom of the pool for the diving rings, sticks, goggles, or whatever gets dropped.

Two weeks ago, I took the girls and a friend's son down to the pool which was unusually busy with lots of kids and moms. I found a table in the shade and went to work on organizing L's homeschool curriculum, keeping one eye one the girls and one eye on my work. The girls were comfortable in the water and stayed within their depth and ability, so I wasn't worried about them. At one point, though, I heard K scream out her sister's name in panic. I looked over, couldn't see L, and K was diving under the water near the steps that led from the shallow end to the deeper part. I raced over, jumped into the pool near K (flip-flops flying), and watched as K surfaced holding her sister. I grabbed L, who was limp and unresponsive, and laid her on the pool edge. Her lips were blue, so I pushed a few times on her diaphragm, causing water to come pouring out of her nose and mouth. I had her head turned and she started gagging and throwing up, and began to come around within seconds. She started screaming and I picked her up and held her as the other moms pulled out cell phones and dialed 911.

By the time the fire department arrived (and we're located within a minute of the station), L was breathing normally, responding to questions, and had lost the blue cast of her skin. It took a minute for the firemen to even understand why they were there. They checked her head for bumps and found none, listened to her breathing and declared her lungs clear, but L's very loud heart murmur threw them. Between that and the fact that I couldn't positively say how long L had been underwater, they and the paramedics who arrived shortly after the firemen, wanted to transfer her to the emergency room. With all the adults and kids in the water, there was no way she had been underwater long and she had responded very quickly once we got her out, but they had to be *sure*.

So the wonderful women in the apartment office took charge of K and her friend, M, so I could go in the ambulance with L. L was fine by this time and ended up taking a nap on the way to the hospital. When we got there, the emergency room staff called it miraculous that she had survived without major neurological damage, being completely overly dramatic about it all. They said the danger now was respiratory problems that sometimes come up after a near-drowning, so they took a chest X-ray (it was completely clear) and insisted on keeping L overnight. L was acting like her normal self at this point and was, thankfully, not too upset at being kept in bed. The staff had put an IV needle in her hand "just in case" and wrapped it with bright pink tape. L decided it looked like a glove and immediately started a game of catch with an imaginary ball.

The night at the hospital was long. We got to a room a little before 9, and soon L started to settle down. Of course, she then got a second wind and was up until well after midnight. Thank goodness for the pediatrics ward with movies and snacks! And thank goodness for modern technology; L was hooked up to oxygen and heart monitors that the nurses could track from their station and they didn't have to come in and wake her up throughout the night to check her.

The staff doctor came in early the next morning, declared L as doing great, told me his own son had done something similar, and said we could be released. Woohoo! Then, of course, the staff decided that since a morning chest X-ray had been ordered last night, they needed to do that before discharge. So we had to wait for that. Then we had to wait until the nurses got around to getting our discharge papers finished. So it was several hours after we got our marching orders before we could actually march.

All it all, it was a major fuss over a minor thing. It *could have been* much worse, but I am not one to dwell on what could have been. DH and I agree that the true miracle was that there were so many people there to watch things, that another little girl happened to see L very quickly after she went under, that K reacted very quickly to dive in and pull L out, and that I kept my head and all the Infant/Child CPR and First Aid stuff came back when needed. God was indeed watching over L through everyone there.

Of course, in the past 2 weeks, I have seen 3 reports of children who have drowned in swimming pools - ages 2, 6, and 7 - and I thank God we didn't have to go through that. There was also a report of a life guard who saved the life of a child, pulling him off the bottom of the pool. L calls K her "superhero" for her part in the rescue. K ought to get a medal for keeping her head, knowing exactly what to do, and simply doing it. Pretty good for a 6-year-old.

Since the incident, we've gone back to the pool several times. L got right back in without any hesitation (actually, she was asking to go back to the pool while we were still waiting in the emergency room) and plays without any problems. K keeps a closer eye on her little sister and has panicked once or twice when she can't see her. I now bring nothing to do, sit on the steps separating the shallow and deep parts, and make sure L wears her swim vest if she gets close to the deep end!