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).


Does It Get Any Easier?

I've gotten the question/statement several times since receiving the referral of our darling 2nd boy, "It must be a lot easier this time around, with kids and the busyness of life to distract you from the wait and the months of paperwork?" Well, that would seem logical...we have three kids, we homeschool, our baby of the clan is a bit high maintenance (haha), and most days it feels like we have everything under the sun going on. I too, thought maybe this time around would be different. Easier in a way. But, I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong. You know that saying, ignorance is bliss? Well, it is.

When we went through the adoption process the first time with Mekonen, there was SO much we didn't know or understand about adoption AND parenting. So much. Jon and I are well traveled...we've been to lots and lots of places outside the United States, most of them being in developing countries. We weren't blind to the struggles and difficulties of every day living that much of the world lives in. There are very few things that "shock" us. But your life changes...everything changes when you step foot into the doors of an orphanage and take hold of your son. Everything changes...

You see, this time around, I know what my son is likely experiencing. Now don't get me wrong, I believe he is being taken care of, and I believe that our agency is doing their best to see that his needs are being met. But no child should live without the love and stability of a family. With every passing day that our son lives outside of a family, I know the things that become more and more likely- attachment, coping mechanisms, anxiety, fear, self-survival skills, uncertainty, health and development. No Mama wants to miss out on her son growing up, and that realization first happens in the realm of his birth mom. Despite stereotypes, or life choices, or devastating circumstances, no birth mom wants to miss out on her child growing up. So it's first there. And then, it's here...in my heart. In our hearts. You see, back then, before Mekonen, we thought we "knew" what we were missing. We thought we knew what HE was missing. But we had no idea. Now...now, over 6 years later, we know exactly what those things are.

This time around, I know what he's missing. When you walk into an orphanage, not just to volunteer, or to spend some time with kids, but to pick up your child, you KNOW, in a different way, what your child is missing by being there. 6 years later, we know what he missed. And on top of that, I know what we are missing. I now have the experience of being a Mom, of having children, of being a family, and I know just how much of his life we are now missing- the ordinary parenting days, the difficult parenting days, and the parenting days filled with so much joy you could bust. I know the fun of experiencing "firsts" and the fun of birthday parties and family traditions.

My mind still cannot wrap itself around the fact that by the time our little guy comes home, we will have missed the first 3 years of his life. I believe part of my inability to wrap my head around this is God's protection of my heart. I've been praying for it for months. Not that I won't necessarily feel the pain, because when we stop feeling, we lose part of our humanity, but I've been praying for God to protect my heart and my mind. To protect the heart and mind of my son, to protect our hearts from the pains of children and parents not being together. I believe God is doing this...but it's still hard.

So I wish I could say the second time around is easier. I wish it were true. But, it's not. There's a certain depth of heart that comes from walking difficult paths of life. We are far from "seasoned" but we feel steadier, more mature in our faith and in our love, and viewing adoption from that place is humbling and sobering.

So while we wait, we continue to pray for our son, for his birth family, for his heart, for his present days and his future. And we continue to pray for God to uphold all of us as we wait. Because, it doesn't get any easier...

Celebrating a missed milestone...our little boy turned 2 years old on July 9th.