A VERY Special Little Girl...

We have a little girl to introduce you to....
Her name is Alice.
I know many of you are probably thinking, "What? A 5th child? Their 4th isn't even home yet!!! These Orens are CRAZY!!!" Yes. We are crazy.

But no this isn't "technically" our 5th child....

You will hear Jon and I say all the time, kids belong in their birth families, and when that's not possible, they belong in their birth culture community, and when that's not possible, they belong with "A" family, no matter what country that family resides in (i.e. international adoption). No child should grow up in an orphanage. For those of us who know and have seen orphanages, you would agree. We've mentioned before that we desire to be involved in a multifaceted approach to orphan care, that we desire to part of the solutions to the devastating truth that there are millions of children worldwide who grow up without a family to call their own. There are no black and white answers or black and white solutions to such complicated issues. The positive to such a complex issue is that there are A LOT of ways to be involved, especially as a Christian.

Alice lives in Nyeri, Kenya and we "met" her on June 28th. 
Our close friend Hillary lived at her home for a year and upon returning to the U.S., committed to the home and ministry that Alice, along with her biological brother Charles, and 28 other kids call home. It is their permanent home, with a woman named Veronica who became their mom. This is NOT an orphanage and these children are not adoptable. The name of their home is, The Belwop Rescue Centre, which stands for "Better Life Without Papers." Belwop is the only place where their existence has been recognized. Veronica, their mom, and a whole team of individuals have committed to showering these children for life with love, care, provision, education, and a bright future of hope. Belwop is changing the LEGACIES of entire generations, in their birth country, with a stable home that has Jesus at the center. When you have "no papers," you have no shot. Belwop is giving life, hope, and a future.
Veronica with 3 of her boys: Peter, Moses, and Rogers.

Orphan care isn't just adoption. So often, our minds only go to adoption when we think of caring for the fatherless. But not everyone is going to physically adopt a child into their family. Should more families do it? Absolutely! But more families should also consider other ways to come alongside those in our backyards and around the world who don't have a place to call home, especially those who have no opportunity FOR things like domestic or international adoption. I get teary eyed just writing this because we watched HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of people come around our family, and our son in Ethiopia, in order to help bring him home. All of those amazing people are not physically adopting him into their family, but they enabled us to adopt him. They enabled us to give a family to a child without one. That is community. That is commitment to orphan care. Their care for the orphan was just as important.

So, in light of November being adoption and orphan care month, I wanted to highlight the Belwop Rescue Centre and give others the opportunity to help change legacies. The statistics about adoption are that over 80% of Christians at some point consider adoption. But less than 2% actually follow through. What if a high percentage of those families who did not follow through with orphan care via adoption, followed through with orphan care via other avenues? Remember, not every person will physically adopt a child, but over HUNDREDS helped bring our child a family.

Could you be one who helps care for the orphan in this way? By partnering with a place like Belwop? Have you ever wanted to be a part of a ministry that desires to bring the fatherless home? Have you wanted to follow through with orphan care but not had the opportunity to? Join Belwop in their fight for these precious children- to help continue their vision of a society where every child has a safe home and enjoys equal rights and clearly hears the gospel!

Meet Moses, who calls Belwop home. Moses is quite the miracle! He was found on the side of a small road in a basket nearly starved to death. He was the size of an infant but after being brought to Belwop they discovered him to be two years old. Sweet Moses was brought to Belwop nameless and without future. Veronica named him Moses because his story started so similarly to Moses of the Bible. God has incredible things in store for him.

We committed to Alice. Will you consider helping the ministry that Alice and 29 other kids call home? Check out this video and take a glimpse into a Better Life Without Papers.

Belwop has until the end of 2015 to fulfill their financial goal so that their 2016 year can be consistent and full for their 30 children, and so that their ministry can reach more and more people, meet their physical needs, AND share the hope they can have through Jesus!

Maureen and Yvonne were both orphaned after their mother passed away due to an untreated illness. When these sweet sisters arrived at Belwop they were timid and unsure. After a fresh haircut, new clothes, a bath, and a couple months in this stable and Jesus loving home it was like they had been here their whole lives! The legacy of this family will be great.

In the works at Belwop is a Christian school staffed by Kenyan teachers (creating more jobs), and a crisis pregnancy home ministering to girls who have been raped and resulted in pregnancy.
Would you consider partnering with Belwop? What about giving a gift this Thanksgiving or Christmas in the name of a child, a grandchild, or a group of friends?

Here is the link below to Belwop's live fundraising site! If you want more information you can contact Hillary Wolfe at wanderingwolfe4@gmail.com  Belwop is partnered through the organization Extreme Response International which comes alongside ministries like Belwop all over the world. 

Hillary and Monten, home, at Belwop.


Finally...Moving Right Along

I haven't posted a detailed adoption update because up until a certain point the details can get messy and confusing. So instead, I've been posting little snippets here and there on our Facebook adoption page like, "We need two more papers for our son's file, please pray.", etc.

Well, this evening, we got great news! (I love that our agency is three hours behind in Washington state, well, for the most part I love this, because it means that even though the end of the business day happens here at 5pm, I know I still have a few hours to hear news. Haha! And tonight was one of those times). We have been waiting for word from our agency that we have been submitted to the PAIR process. I knew we were close, so I found myself refreshing my email on my phone while we were out tonight, "just in case." I had this gnawing in my heart that it would be today. And sure enough, around 6pm, the refresh button gave me an email that said we have finally been submitted to the PAIR process and were given a copy of the packet. HALLELUJAH!!!! Now let me explain... ;)

There are TWO things that we need in order to travel and pick up our son and BOTH things are happening simultaneously right now.

1. PAIR approval- this happens on the U.S. side. This is an investigation of all our paperwork AND our son's paperwork (his file for PAIR is what we were missing those two papers for that we finally received after 5 months of waiting). Once all the paperwork is together, it gets sent to the National Benefits Center here in the U.S. and we wait for them to send us their approval letter. The golden ticket. This usually takes about 3 months. So the submission of the PAIR packet is what happened today. This is huge! We've been waiting 5 months for this. So now the approximate three month wait for this approval letter happens.

2. MOWA approval- this happens on the Ethiopian side. MOWA stands for Ministry of Women and Children and is similar to our social services. The MOWA process basically means the court process. There will be a first court date through MOWA (we do not have to be present for this court date), and once that happens we will get MOWA approval. This is golden ticket #2.

SO....once we receive BOTH of those things- the PAIR approval letter & MOWA approval, we will travel roughly 2 weeks later.

And more super great news is that we will only have to make ONE trip to Ethiopia. We will attend the second court date in Ethiopia and stay in-country until we bring our son home.

So while I sit and process tonight, on this quiet Friday evening, while Jon is out, and the kiddos are in bed, I am a bit overwhelmed...

There are SO many emotions in adoption. The roller coaster ride is simply unexplainable and really so very difficult to adequately express. Tonight, more than ever, the joy and grief of adoption is deeply felt. Our PAIR packet was 73 pages long, detailing our adoption case and our son's life. While we are overwhelmed with joy to be moving forward in the process, we are struck at our core over the details of our son's story and the deep sadness and grief that adoption brings.

Adoption is born out of tragedy, and to forget the tragedy is to deny a part of your child's very being. I expressed to a friend earlier how I often find myself wondering how and why God chose me, someone with my sensitivities, and someone who feels things SO deeply I think I might break, to parent two boys who have experienced so much loss. There are moments when I feel like the contents of that PAIR file are just too much to process and if I'm honest, I find myself questioning God's goodness over the life of my son and his birth family, and I question his goodness among this hellish world that left my boys in desperate need of a forever family. I find myself feeling deeper than I ever imagined and fearing that I am so ill equipped to walk children through this. My flesh tells me there is no road map, there is no hope for such sorrow, there is no way children heal from stuff like this.

And then, in a calm, quiet voice in my heart I just hear, "Jesus." That's mightily different than healing the sorrow of this broken world by telling people to "just be more like Jesus," "try harder," "obey," "follow the rules," "make everything black and white" instead of living in the tension. Because that kind of stuff? That's the kind of life Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for living. It's not the kind of life Jesus came and offered. Because that stuff? It doesn't mend the brokenness. It doesn't heal the pain and the sorrow. Jesus does. Jesus is what will give my sons the ability to walk through this life, complete, whole, and free. When the realities of the tragedy of adoption pierce their souls, and threaten to break them, it's not the rules and the confines of "religion" that will rescue them. It is Jesus. In so many ways, I pour over these 73 pages and think to myself, I cannot handle this. But yet, in every other way, God has made me for this. 


A Day in the Life...

A friend asked me to do a couple guest posts on her blog and one of her series is, "A Day in the Life of..." I thought it would be fun and kind of comical at the same time. A dear friend described my life once as sometimes being a high wire act at the top of the circus tent with me and the kids flying everywhere and Jon hanging on for dear life. I laughed and everyone else chuckled because it's often totally true. And, chances are, you'll find that to be totally true of this day I recorded. So here goes.... a day in the life of us.... ;) 

Friday, September 18, 2015
6:15 AM- My alarm goes off and I think to myself, "Are you serious? It's morning already?" I think this every morning, and every morning, it's true.

6:45 AM- I finally dragged myself out of bed and went to make my must-have morning cup of coffee. I've NEVER been a coffee drinker. Ever. I hate the stuff. The smell? Awesome. The taste? Disgusting. I survived my first two children without it. Then Penelope happened and I became a coffee drinker, but only with a decent dose of flavored creamer. I sat down on the couch, drank my coffee, sent out some emails and checked a few orders for my Younique business, and read my Bible. 
Before I go any further, I need to make a disclaimer before this blog post or anything specific in this blog post unintentionally causes it to join the ranks of the "mommy guilt blog post" or the "be the all-star Christian woman" blog post. And I'll start first with the above description and picture that might make it seem like the greatest moms and Christians get up early, before everyone else, even with small children, and read their Bible and pray, and, if you do not do the same, you are a failure. Those are all lies. Here is the truth. 

1. The classic Christian instagram photo. I did not take the above Christian social media picture of a Bible passage marked up with notes and my cup of coffee to "discreetly" make sure you are aware that I am a great Christian by waking up early and reading my Bible. It's not like that at all. I took the above picture because I'm supposed to take pictures of my "A Day in the Life of...." and on this day, at that time of day, I was drinking my coffee and reading my Bible. I actually laughed out loud while staging the above picture because it's just a classic in the Christian community. And if I'm honest, this doesn't happen every day. And there's grace for that and Jesus doesn't love me more or approve of me less depending on what kind of day it is. Thank goodness!!! 

2. I am not a stellar mom or stellar Christian who rises before the sun because it's more godly. I get up before my kids so no one dies in the wee hours of the morning. ;) It's as simple as that. HA! I'm not one of those morning "mom and kid bed snugglers." I used to feel really guilty about it because, you know what I'm talking about... the social media posts from the moms with the emotional sentimental statement about your babies climbing into bed with you in the morning when they wake up and everyone snuggling together and ending the undercover giggles and snuggles with a selfie posted to social media. UMMMM.......NO!  I get up before my kids so I don't kill them when they jolt me awake in the most uncomfortable ways possible. 

I've never slept well in my entire life and so I almost never feel rested in the morning no matter how many hours of sleep I get. My kids coming bounding through my door and forcibly waking me up with their stinky breath and legs and feet kicking everywhere is not my idea of fun. If I'm honest it just makes me really annoyed and sometimes very angry. So in order to start my day off well with my kids, I've had to start getting up before them. That way I'm awake, already drinking my coffee, and in a right state of mind for their sleepy, stinky breathed little faces to come snuggle me as I'm doing whatever morning work I'm doing. Snuggles? I LOVE them. But not forcible snuggles in my bed, in the morning, before I'm even relatively coherent. It doesn't bode well for anyone involved. ;) And my babies? I LOOOOOOVE them, and if you try to guilt me into this activity by telling me how much I will miss them when they are gone, I will hunt you down, and kill you. ;) 

Ok, now back to my original post. One soapbox down. There may be more to come... who knows! 

So I get up roughly around 6:30 AM. My kids aren't allowed out of their beds until 7:30 AM (although according to the clock in their room they think it's 7:00 AM muah ha ha). Mekonen comes out first and we snuggle on the couch together. See! I do snuggle. A lot. Just not at 6:30 AM in my bed. He went over and picked up Mary Poppins and asked me to read to him. So we laid on the couch and I read two chapters of Mary Poppins. (We are LOVING books lately, especially Mekonen and read-a-louds. He's been really getting into good stories and it's been fun, so we are trying to read a little each day whenever we have a few minutes. Even if it's just a couple pages)! I forgot to get a picture when he came out so I got one after the book and told him to pose grumpy (because well, he usually wakes up grumpy). hahaha. 

Evie joined us partway through reading Mary Poppins on the couch. The kids fought over who was taking up more of the snuggle room. Classic. 

Here's how Eve ALWAYS emerges from her room- stinky blanket held right up to her nose. 
7:45/8:00 AM- This one of my favorite times of the day- getting Pip out of her bed. Even if she was screaming her head off seconds before (which, she usually is), as soon as you open that door, she is all smiles and squeals and jumping up and down. Who wouldn't want to be greeted with such enthusiasm! ;) 
Her new way of protesting her crib.
8:15 AM- The breakfast craze starts. Daddy is usually gone by this time, but today he was home, and the kids were quite excited to chatter away at him while he drank his coffee. Poor Pip in the corner. ;)
9:00 AM- After about telling them fifteen times, Mekonen and Evie go get themselves dressed and brush their teeth. Even though we homeschool, I do try to have them "get themselves together" most days. Although yes, there are times, where we laze around in pajamas all day. 

After he gets dressed, Mekonen starts on his daily notebook for school. These are all those school calendar type activities that teachers usually do on a big bulletin board in the morning. But we don't have space for it and Penelope would tear it all down anyway. So we have a compact binder version and he loves it. He fills in the calendar, weather, number of the day, counting exercises, handwriting practice, map drawing, and various math activities. 
Mekonen works on his notebook while I go around getting myself ready to start the day...getting dressed, throwing some laundry in the washer, making myself breakfast, etc. 

And ready for a peak at some of my OCD things? My day does not start off well if it doesn't start off organized. So when I wake up in the morning it's preferable to have no dirty dishes in the sink and all kid toys put away in their right place, and no piles of crap all over my house. ;) Fresh start to the day. I can't be the only one like this, right? (And yep, it'll be the thing my kids bring up in therapy when they're in their 20's. I'm okay with that). And yes, I have gotten SOOO much better about letting things go and letting things be a hot mess into the next day. So much better. But it's still my preference to start off each day with everything in order. 
And my whole house could be falling down and look like a tornado ran through it, but if I can make our bed, I get the feeling that I can do anything. ;) haha!!! 
9:30 AM- I sit down at the table with Evie and do a little bit of school with her. Today it was AB patterns for math. 
While she does that, Penelope does what Penelope does best...causes a tornado. Every single day she dumps out the entire container of foam blocks and then one by one, takes out every other toy in the bucket. This is what the dining room floor looks like whenever Penelope is awake. 
And this is how you can almost always find her...blanket in hand, fingers in her mouth. 
10:30 AM- School continues and Penelope went down for an early nap. Some days we are an absolute circus and the free time of sending them off to school for hours sounds amazing. But today the kids were in stellar moods and the schoolwork was smooth and glorious! It's these times that I am so thankful we are spending our days together. These are the best hours of their days and I want to be part of them.
12:00 PM Lunchtime! I had no sandwich bread, so hot dogs it was! Evie is coloring while eating lunch. She is ALWAYS coloring, scribbling, and doodling. Mekonen usually joins in as well. They ALWAYS fight over who sits at "the head of the table." ALWAYS. Even though we have instituted the policy months ago that no one gets to sit there, they STILL yell about it every. single. day. Evie sat in the spot for the picture. Haha. 
Apparently, Mekonen did not like his chore of sweeping up the lunch crumbs. So much drama.
12:45 PM I chuck my kids outside. This is a must every single day, unless it's bad weather. They go nuts inside. They get crazy loud and someone always ends up crying. So I kick them out. Some days, they run happily outside and have the time of their lives. Other days, no joke, they stand at the door begging to come in. I have even locked the screen door before. I hear every excuse in the book as to why they have to come inside. One time, Evie just stood by the locked screen door and cried. Yes, this too, will come up in counseling some day. :)
BUT.... they always get over their grumpiness about being shoved outside and find something to do. Today, Mekonen was found doing this. Bahahaha.
And shockingly, Evie was found doing this...
1:15 PM I jump in the shower as fast as I can before Penelope wakes up. Yes, it's 1:15 and I am just now showering. I was dressed- it was just in my typical lounge around yoga pants. But we had errands to run today so I had to wear "real clothes."

Perfect timing. As soon as I got out of the shower, this one started yelling. Again, my favorite part of the day. My own personal cheering session twice a day. Love it. We played a few rounds of peek-a-boo and "where's Penelope" where she covers her face with her blanket and squeals with delight when you pull it off.
Then, I put a bow on her head (mostly because I was taking picture for this "Day in the Life of..." blog post of course), and because I especially liked her outfit today, and then I chucked her in the highchair for lunch. I positioned her so she could see the kids outside while she ate. (Doing that means less of a chance of a total highchair freak-out so I could go dry my hair).
And right before I raced to the bathroom to dry my hair on the limited minutes before Pip decided she was D.O.N.E. (with lunch and life) I caught a glimpse of this baby profile looking out the window. I prayed she stayed still until I got the camera app on my phone opened, and called myself crazy as I thought, "This is my favorite age. We should have ten kids." 
1:30 PM- Back to the bathroom to put on make-up and dry my hair. Did you know you have to dry curly hair upside down? Well, I couldn't get a selfie that way. I tried. It didn't work. So here ya go. 
Apparently, the hair-drying took too long and this is what I found: a mad and distraught Penelope who was D.O.N.E. (with lunch and life). Looks like she took it out on her bow. 
I cleaned her up, plopped her onto the floor, and sat down to do a few minutes of work with Younique. (And shameless plug for Younique- it's the new, younger, cooler version of Mary Kay. haha. Sorry Naomi! With naturally based products for this generation of "clean living"and has the most amazing 3D mascara. It really is awesome. I started selling it earlier this year to help fund our adoption. But what I found is that I am actually making decent money ALL online and ALL from home, while running this crazy circus of a life. Just this day alone, while I was doing all that you saw above, I made a decent chunk of cash that went right into the kids' fall clothes account, and gave me extra cash to hit up chick-fil-a later with a friend). 
While I was posting in my online Younique parties, it was oddly silent. I turned around to find Penelope doing this. You might not want to know that I continued to let her do that while I finished my post and wrote an email.  3rd child.  How is she still alive? (No children were harmed in the writing of this blog post). 
The big kids are still running their hearts out in the backyard. I shooed Penelope away from the plug and did the dishes. No, we do not have a dish washer. Yes, feel free to tell my husband he should get me one. Dishes- it's one of those things that make me sane or INSANE. I cannot handle coming home to a sink full of dishes. It is the most defeating feeling ever. So whenever possible, I do the dishes before leaving the house.

2:45 PM- I call the big kids in, have them switch the laundry (I LOVE that they can do this now), go the bathroom, pick up a few toys that were laying around, and get their shoes on.
Penelope threw a huge fit because I wouldn't let her throw the clean laundry into the toilet. #worstparentever
3:15 PM- If there is ever a time in my parenting that I want to cuss it's getting everybody into the car. I just do not understand why it is so stressful. People are missing shoes, they are dragging toys into the car like we are never coming back home, and there is literally trash falling out of the doors and onto the driveway (no matter how many times I clean out the van). And yes, someone always ends up crying. This stress inducing activity has gotten better over the last year as Mekonen and Evie can now mostly get their shoes on, get in the van, and get buckled, all on their own. But somehow, after wrestling the baby into the carseat while carrying the diaper bag, my keys, and my cell phone, those independent activities of "get in the car by yourself, kids" cause ridiculous scenarios. For example, an entire bucket of legos went into the van, along with two baby dolls, ONE baby shoe, a bucket of crayons and an old grocery list to "color on" and one child wasn't wearing any shoes. WHAT ON EARTH. Maddening, I tell you. Just plain maddening.

But, we had to take a selfie for this blog post. So after sweating my face off from getting everyone in the car, and putting back all the toys in the house, and retrieving said child's shoes, we all smiled for the selfie, because 1) it's social media. We have to pretend we have it all together, and 2) we were going to Target. Who doesn't smile at a trip to Target?!?!?!

And as we are driving down the road Evie says, "Mommy, why is your car going faster than everybody else's?"
I'm so flustered I don't even know what time we arrive at Target. But we arrive. We are all in one piece. And everyone is happy again.
I was attempting to clothes shop for Evie and look at the kid shoes. It was such a disaster I couldn't even take pictures to document it. At three different times, three different strangers told me my one year old was standing up in the cart (as I was looking through clothes, or telling the other two to calm the heck down). Penelope thought this was WILDLY hilarious. She was laughing hysterically, which truthfully, made me crack up, thus, reinforcing the bad behavior of standing up in the cart. Oh third child. Just don't grow up and rob a liquor store when you're 14.

After accidentally hitting the curb with the cart on the way out of the store, which caused Mekonen to fall off the cart onto the ground (like literally, flat out laying on the ground, scraped up elbow), and Evie went tumbling over top of him, we managed to get back into the van.

We didn't come out with anything on my list.

5:00 PM- We are back in the van. I call Jon to see if he'll be home for dinner. When he said no because he had a meeting, I did a celebratory fist pump in the air because I decided I was not cooking. Even the thought of throwing frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave when we got home was overwhelming. So I texted a friend and we decided it was time for Chick-Fil-A.

While the kids got buckled and we waited the 5 minutes for the air conditioning to turn on in the van, I checked my email and to my surprise we got new pictures of our boy in Ethiopia!! I was sooo excited. But, my phone battery was on 3% and I couldn't download the rest of his pictures and I didn't have a phone charger. So I went to the gas station and bought a $5 car charger. Shockingly, it worked perfectly and we got to see four new pictures of our sweet little guy. The kids were super excited about it.
And here's our little man. How cute is he busting out of his pink button-up shirt. I can't show his full face online until we pass court and the balloons are covering up that cutie pie in the corner of the picture. :) This email of pictures MADE MY DAY! 
5:30 PM- We met up with friends for dinner at Chick-Fil-A! yay!!!
Penelope throwing a fit on the floor of the Chick-Fil-A play-place because I wouldn't let her drag her blanket around the nasty germ infested indoor playground. And yes, she slams her forehead on the ground when she's ticked. 
And Lauren captured this photo as I was coming down the slide from retrieving my one year old who successfully climbed UP the huge twisty slide of the playground. She thought this was wildly funny seeing me have to come up and get her. 
7:30 PM- There was no ability to document the events of getting from Chick-Fil-A to bed. Circus, I tell you. It's a circus. I let them run around the yard for a bit when we got home while I got Penelope out of the car, etc. We did the routine- quick baths tonight, pajamas, vitamins, stories, Bible reading, dump them in bed, and turn on Jesus Storybook audio. Every night the kids listen to an audio book and it's been a fun tradition for them. And every night Penelope climbs into Evie's bed to join the fun. 
After I got the big kids in bed, I went to the bathroom, came out to get Pip into her bed, only to hear squeals and yelling from the bedroom. She had gotten back into the big kids room, chucked the basket of baby dolls everywhere, and climbed back into bed with Evie. Good grief! Little people, everywhere! Some days, it feels like all I do is chase down small humans.
8:30 PM- Pip's bedtime. We rock in the rocking chair and read books. She LOVES books. And then she snuggles in while I rock her for a bit. Her newest thing is poking my eyes and saying, "eyes!!!!!" I throw her in the crib, rub some thieves on her feet, turn on the fan, turn on the nightlight, and shut the door.
I came out and literally fell onto the couch. But I only stayed there for about ten seconds because otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten back up. Because we had chick-fil-a no dinner dishes!! wahoo!!! And because it's Friday, I didn't bother getting the kids school stuff for the next day together in their workboxes. So I just went around gathering laundry from the day, swept the dining room and kitchen floors real quick, and plopped on the couch to wait for Jon to get home from his meeting. I tinkered around on Pinterest and did some Younique work, and stared at the clean laundry baskets in the bathroom that I could see from the couch. There was a slight burst of motivation to fold it all. Then I was like, "Nah." And I left it there. 

9:45 PM Jon got home from his meeting and we spent the rest of the evening just hanging out together and unwinding from the day. (Don't you love my vague ending to our Friday night?) Haha! 

12:00 AM- We crashed into bed around midnight, only to start all over again in the morning! But at least, it was Saturday! 

So, a high wire act at the top of the circus tent with me and the kids flying everywhere? Yep. I think that's it. 


School Days, School Days

The night before 1st grade...
We swam, we saw cousins, we went to the fair, we got a new dog and Mommy didn't care. Our summer was full of friends, gardens and sun, tomorrow starts first grade we can't wait for the fun.
I get asked a lot, "Why do you homeschool?" "What about friends?" "Won't your kids turn out weird?!?!" Well, the short answer to the question of why do we homeschool? Simply put, we want to be involved in the best part of their days, and for us, in this season of life, the best parts of their days are not between 4pm and 7:30pm when they would be home and awake. Could this change? Absolutely. Could sending our children to traditional school be in our future? Sure. Of course. But for this year, we're learning at the kitchen table and beyond! For a more in-depth description of our desire and why's of homeschooling, check out the posts I wrote last year. 

 First day of school!
Weren't they just babies?!?!?
 Mekonen Jack
 Evie Rae
 She's feeling like big stuff this year! :) 
 Getting started and they're excited. 

Their workboxes!
 We started workboxes this year and I am so, SO excited about them. I don't know about any of you other homeschoolers, but all last year I kept hearing, "Mom, are we done with school? How many school things are we doing today?" VOILA! Problem solved! I came across this idea on another blogger's site and was sold. Each day, I put their work in the various bins. They start at the top and work their way through the boxes. When they finish a box they move the number to the right side of the box. Then they can glance at the box and see how many more things they need to do. The boxes with a red circle mean "work with Mom." So if they come to a box with a red circle and I can't help at that moment, they skip it and go on to the next until I can help them. It's only been one day, but with Mekonen's need to know what is happening every second of the day, I think it'll be a huge help! If you're interested, here's a quick video tutorial on where I got the idea. She does a great job explaining the process. 

Evie's "signature" is by far one of our favorite things and we have so loved seeing all her "E, E, O's" written all over papers and things in our house. It's so cute. As Jon wrote about this picture I texted him yesterday....
"So sad for the quickly approaching day when she will learn to write the letter correctly and boringly like the rest of us." ;( 
(After she wrote her name she said, "Annnnnddd, I'll add a "Y."  Well, ok then. haha).