Back To School

It has been twelve years ago this month, that I started on our homeschooling journey. She was five - I was excited - and even though I did not drop her off at the kindergarten door, I watched as she did her school work from her desk in the basement - and I cried. Amazed how fast time had gone - she was already in kindergarten!

Our journey in homeschooling has continued through the years - and more kids than just Rachel. I taught the kids their phonics and math - same scope and sequence - just a different child. We have enjoyed the years - being together. We have been frustrated at times - being together. Yet, through the years - we have grown - being together.

We have maintained a commitment to parent directed education of our children. Realizing it our decision to make the most of our children's educational years. Homeschooling has always been the tool that God has allowed us to use.

Until this year...

God has opened up an opportunity for our children to be educated outside of the home. Our commitment to parent directed education has allowed us to see that for our children, that God's desire and will for them is to go to our church's Christian school. We are excited and blessed beyond what words can say. We are finding ourselves amazed at how life can change and thrilled to know that we serve a God that knows all things. He knew twelve years ago that our homeschooling journey would end in August 2009. What peace we have to know we can rest in His will for our lives.

So, on Monday, we start school. Only this year - I will drop the kids off at school and come home to a much quieter house. Until then, I will be labeling pencils, checking the school supply list just "one more time", and thanking God for His goodness to us.

Trust that through the hectic time of "Back to school", you are able to reflect upon God's goodness to you. I pray that whether your children will be in a classroom with other children, or sitting at your dinning room table looking over their new books for the year - that you are able to take time to reflect on Him - and be blessed.

Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you did. Perhaps with all this "free" time on my hands I will find the time to blog more; but at first you will find me cleaning the parts of the house that I have not had the time to clean while being my children's teacher. (Refrigerator coils - here we come!)



Have you ever felt grateful? I mean truly grateful from the bottom of your heart; that even words can not describe the depth of the feelings within your heart?
My son, Zak is special. We know it - we see it; but in all honesty it can be hidden from the average eye. And, as special as he is he can also be difficult, hard to understand and to the average eye appear - odd.

I know this - I have been told this. I have watched as others have treated him as such. I have listened to parents of other kids tell me about what they think is wrong. I have listened as parents justified their children's unkind words and actions towards Zak - explaining that kids like him are 'scary'. It bothers me - and hurts. To date, it has never hurt him - he does not read their disdain. To him, everyone is his friend.

So, when I have seen this discrimination and scorn towards my son; I can not tell you the gratitude I have when he is treated - not as normal - but human.

Sunday after Sunday I watch as he interacts with others at church. His interaction is never normal and even more rarely - predictable - but welcomed. I see it when people pass him in the hall - very rarely is Zak passed that someone does not acknowledge him - by name.

Perhaps they do not know what that does to a Mamma's heart.
He is not always the best behaved in class - but they don't come looking for us - the easy way out. They work with him - help him - have someone shadow him - so he can learn.

Somehow my respect for the pastoral staff grows when each one of them takes time for Zak - often stopping in the hall on their way to a meeting to sit and chat with him for a couple of seconds. I have watched as they have asked him to come tag along with them and help them with a project. I have watched his eyes light up as they say their hello's.

I have watched as he has been treated like a person - not a freak side show - that he is rising to that level. He is becoming the person he has been treated like. He tells me of the nicknames that people have for him - he loves each one of them. Most call him Mr Zak. (Even in that name there is a respect.) His favorite nick name is one his VBS teacher gave him, "Zak-attack". He laughs and tells me how much Pastor Pardee loves him. I know he is right.

He sits through choir practice - not like a normal six year old. He hears every beat - he understands every rhythm and every muscle in his body moves with what he is hearing. He obediently sits, but as he sits, he directs the choir - just like the choir director in front. He looks odd - a bit strange - but instead of seeing the uniqueness of the situation and shying away from him - people see and understand. They look past the odd movements and see him.

They see him the way I see him.

The usher sees him as he is wiggling and jumping around in his seat. (Waiting for an offering plate to come your way can be very hard when you are six, have autism, and a dime in your hand!) The usher smiles and seems to try to speed up his pace. I watch as he proudly put in his small coin. I know God sees his smile, looks past the wiggles, and is thankful for one so excited to give.
I have listened as his violin teacher has said that she will do everything she can to teach him; and watched her come through on the promise. They don't see his limitations - they see his possibilities. Quietly, gently they work with him. The progress is never quick - in fact, it is hardly big enough to be seen week to week; but they are taking time; and in their time they are reminding me that he has a future.

I am grateful, beyond what words can even begin to write - that our son has found a place to be. A place to learn to grow and to be accepted. Isn't that what church is supposed to be for all of us. A place where we feel loved, secure and accepted.

Perhaps he does not read body language the way I do - but then again, maybe he does. He does not see it with his eyes - but he feels it with his heart. Zak knows that when he is at church he is loved. As that knowledge has grown - I have watched him grow too.

I think that everyone - in all stages of development - should feel that they are loved and accepted; not because of what they do - or don't do; but because they are.

Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did.


Memory Lane

He called from work to tell me that the night was ours. Kids were to be in bed early - and we (just us two!) were going to spend some time together. I asked him what the night held - he told me it was a surprise.
Dinner was enjoyed as a family (missing one - because she is visiting Nana and Papa). We laughed, instructed and ate. The older kids sat on the couch and read. The younger kids headed to bed at their normal time. Then 8PM arrived and all the kids were upstairs.
A quiet house greeted us. A small bouquet of wild flowers were setting on the table - for me - from him. Then the surprise unfolded.
Picture albums had been retrieved from the attic. Old video tapes of the kids found. They all were waiting - for us. A trip down memory lane.
We watched the TV screen as our little girl sang a song and danced around the room - in her long dress. You could tell by the way that she twirled and sang she thought at that moment, even though she was only 5, she was a fairy tale princess- eleven years later we still do.

We watched as our middle daughter blew out the birthday candles on her birthday cake and told us that she was three - trying as she pronounced the word to hold up three fingers. We smiled as she told what she was thankful for before she opened her presents, "For you, Mama, I'm fankful for you." How sweet her little voice sounded.

We watched as the pictures showed our third daughter's casket awaiting it's finally resting place. And, last night as we did almost 12 years ago when the photo was taken - we cried.

The tears turned back to smiles again as we watched a baby boy doing his best to stay sitting up, smile at the camera and say a very recognizable "Dada". Rob looked as proud of the proclamation last night as he had 11 years ago.

We watched our interaction as a couple - when we were struggling -just being together. Years later it still hurt - to know how much we were hurting then. How thankful we are that God brought the two of us back together and healed us. So thankful He made us realize that marriage - even through the hard times - is permanent.

We watched as Zak blew out his candles on his birthday cake. The evidences of autism were still there even at two - and I cried. Cried because I saw that he has come so far - and has so far yet to go.

We pulled out photos and laughed. Laughed at how young we looked. The engagement photos, the wedding, the honey moon. Life before kids - when we were still kids.

It was almost 2 AM when we put it away. Amazed at the (almost) 20 years we have been together. All that has happened. Amazed that when we did not know it - we were living our lives, making our stories. I pray that God gives us at least 20 more years.

As the lights were out and moonlight filled the room we talked about where we would be in 10 years. College - weddings - grand kids - young ones still at home. We dozed off thankful for the past - excited for the future.

(If 20 years from now we do this again - I can not imagine how long my post will be!)

Thanks so much for stopping by; I am so glad you did.


Adoption Blessings

I am so glad that God has allowed us to experience the gift of adoption in our family.
I could not imagine my life without either of these two.
We truly are blessed beyond what words can describe.

Summer Birthdays

She turned sixteen. I wondered where the time went. We spent a whole day together just being. There is a part that wants back the days rocking; but a greater part that looks forward to the future - her future. Looking back on the past sixteen years makes me excited to see what God has for her in the years ahead. Happy Birthday, Rachel!

The Baby

What's it like to be the baby of the family? I would not know. I was the oldest - the one leading the way - the one that made her brother and sister disgusted as I bossed them around and told them the 'right' way to do things.

So, I do not know what it is like to be the baby; but I have had fun watching. This little one is full of energy. She is stubborn and she wants to do it - HER WAY. She does not want to be left behind and is convinced whatever you can do - she can not only DO it but can do it better.

She walks with purpose and poise. She is the baby; but has a point to prove. Her vocabulary is more than adequate and she will say any word that you tell her to say. If she can not pronounce the word - she can articulate the syllables and you know what she has said. If she is not able to communicate in words her body language is quite defined. She can make it very clear what she wants or does not want.

She clearly spoke today. We were taking a walk. Sitting in the stroller she watched us walking behind her. Zak held my hand and James followed close behind and Abby pushed the "baby" in her stroller. She would have none of it. She wanted to walk like the big kids. So, I let her walk. I knew it would be a long walk - and there was quite a hill to climb in the process. I will let her walk and then when she gets tired she will get back into her seat. Time and time again I asked her, "Do you want to get back in your stroller?" Time and time again she answered, "No" with an emphatic shake of the head. I asked her before we ascended the hill. I asked her at the top of the hill. I asked her at the bottom of the hill. Each time her answer was the same. Blond little curls flew in the wind as she shook her head and a faint, but dogmatic "no" could be heard.

So, she walked. She climbed the hill. She walked down the hill and she walked the rest of the way home. I am guessing it was a good 1/4 of a mile. Not bad for a little 18 month old. I think she is making a point. I am the baby - but I will not be babied! And after watching her walk determined into the house to get a drink of water - I am sure of one thing - she may be the baby - but it is in age only. Anything they can do - she can do too!

If you are wondering why I have found so much time to blog this afternoon - well she made the walk; but it plum tuckered her out. She is enjoying a nice, long and well deserved nap - - I am enjoying a few hours of peace and quiet.

Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you did.


Our Summer

Our Summer has been the busiest yet! Music has been an intricate part of our lives this summer. The girls attended music camp - had a wonderful time and learned a lot. Abbey bid farewell to her violin and started cello. (I must say that the cello is a beautiful instrument- in structure and tone. The deep rich tones are easier on a Mamma's ears during practice time. :)
James attended a week long workshop where he began trumpet lessons. He had a recital after the first week. He was able to play a rousing chorus of "Home Home on the Range". The group played the song with just their mouthpieces and you could almost hear the ducks on the range calling to one another.
Zak started violin this summer. He has done remarkably well! He also attended the week long workshop and had a recital at the end of the week. He was given a shadow that helped him throughout the classes. He was thrilled most of all with the class he took on rhythms - no big surprise there. You will find him at home clapping out his rhythm words with a big smile on his face!
Anna has taken up art. We find her work in the most interesting of places. It adds a whole new dimension to our home.