Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Adventures in Schooling at Home


I know it seems like, if you do school at home then it is automatically home school. However, according to the school I have chosen, this is actually considered schooling at home. It has a teacher who monitors and helps the student, Elizabeth has a special education counselor who I will be working with to make sure she is being taken care of in school. I am merely the education leader. I don't grade the papers, I record and admit her attendance each day and turn in her homework to her teacher daily, but otherwise, I am not her actual teacher.

Today we tackled Spelling again and this time with minimal tears. We also started working again on John 3:16 - AGAIN! We've been struggling for several weeks to memorize this verse. Beka keeps wanting to remind me that she knows Ephesians 6: 1 & 2 and Proberbs (not Proverbs according to Beka) 3:5. I wonder? Does that technically count as changing God's Holy Word when it's a 4 year old saying a book of the Bible wrong? Hmmm. . . . Math is more about her playing with my smart phone and working on becoming more at home with her math facts for addition. I want her to be able to know her Math facts without using her fingers. This is key to helping her learn how to do Math and to continue to succeed in school. You need Math for many things, cooking, figuring out clearance prices, cooking (especially if you have to double or quadruple a recipe), the list is endless of the ways you need Math. But you also need it to do well in Science. It's very difficult to do Science experiments if you are not good in Math or at least comfortable.

I was able to fax in some of the papers needed for school, I will have to go tomorrow and get the Superintendent of Everett schools to sign off on us switching to Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA for short). I have our doctor's appointment set up for next week about shots, to ensure they are up to date because even virtual school requires you be up to date on your immunizations and I am fine with that. I feel it's important to protect your children from measles, mumps, etc. . . and we do the flu shot each year since Lizzie has asthma that flares up and she is so easily susceptible to any flu that affects the respiratory system.

This is where we are and tonight after teens we'll work on reading. The new book is Beverly Cleary's Ralph the Mouse. And we did arts and crafts. I had hoped to grab a few pictures of the girls in their fruit loop necklaces, but they started eating their art before I could get the pictures taken. I guess it's the hazard of making such fun and delicious art. I think Beka ate more fruit loops than she threaded onto her yarn anyway. The bowl was practically empty.

I hope you all have a good week and a great Wednesday. We'll be moving teen night to Friday nights next week, so my Wednesdays will be a little less insane. :D

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 1 Schooling at Home


Today we started doing school at home. We accomplished Spelling. Yes, that is all we accomplished - spelling. I know, I know not a good start. However, I must point out that technically we only just started school and it hasn't officially started in Washington.

So the goal tomorrow is to accomplish math, reading, spelling, and I am going to have her write me a story about something she likes to do. I know Math's goal is to get her to the point where she doesn't do Math on her fingers. That one is going to take a lot of work for her. I have a few things to think about purchasing.

Spelling, where do I begin with spelling? Well I switched her to 3rd grade spelling. So today after she worked on writing her spelling words five times each, we worked on using our spelling words into sentences. I'd like to say it went well, but it didn't. There were tears, there were lot of tear and cries of "It's not fair." Until finally, Lizzie sat down and did them like I asked and we worked on the sentences together. Once she seemed to understand what was expected and that no I was not leaving her to do the sentences alone, it got better, but time got away from us. And I had to fix lunch for our company.

Today Math, got away from us because I had a meeting with Pastor Mike. We discussed the teens and the direction we hoped the youth group would take, then one of the teen arrived and away the afternoon went. However, my goal for Math right now is to help her achieve the goals for Math, but I also have the goal of helping her learn how to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division without her fingers. Thank goodness for my Math Tutor application on my smart phone. I plan to have her use it to help her with her math facts. Keep your fingers crossed and I'll let you know how well it works.

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Monday, August 29, 2011

Choices Made


Those of you who know our family or who have been reading this blog know that I have been warring internally for some time whether or not to homeschool Elizabeth.

I think I have found a good answer between the two. It is Washington Virtual Academy. It is a public school, with teachers, and special education counselors, however, she does her schooling at home. It still gives her public school credit, but I can monitor more closely what is going on and see for myself what she is grasping or struggling with on a regular basis.

I had always held off while we lived in Wichita, because between the team at Spaght and the fact that Lizzie and Mrs. Silveous were a good team together, opting to not homes chool was better for her. However, after we moved, Lizzie went from working to catch up with her class (she was considered about 1/2 a year to a year behind) to being considered almost completely caught up with her peers. Somehow that didn't sit right. It really made me stop and think and while I know she needs the socialization of school, she is getting it these days here at the apartment complex and we are going to be here for a while, so there meets her social skills requirement. She has friends of all ages in the apartment complex.

Then there is the fact, that her public school in our district has larger classrooms, and somehow it has never sat right with me. Something just seemed wrong about putting her in there. It is also an area of concern since Washington doesn't have any magnet/charter schools. How can you meet the needs of my child if you aren't meeting the needs of your gifted students? And the desire to re-evaluate her, why? And they'd discussed mainstreaming her in ALL of her classes. Her reading level at the time was not as good as it needed to be. So this Summer we have worked on spelling, reading and learning our math facts. Learning to do math without fingers is something we'll need to keep working on, but I know she can do it. Plus she thrives better in a small group and the class size at Madison is in the 30's. Mrs. Silveous and I have both discussed this and that we are concerned. When your child's former teacher offers curriculum ideas, that's a good sign it might be time to heavily consider home school.

So after doing some research I discovered, Washington Virtual Academy. It is public school, and registered as a public school. This means they have a special education counselor, and a teacher who will oversee Elizabeth's progress. It also works on a Mastery Based System. This means she does not move forward until she masters a lesson and she is evaluated at the end of each lesson. I like that, it means they don't push her forward if she isn't ready yet. It also means the teacher and I will have regular conferences about how is Elizabeth doing? Is she being challenged enough, too much, or too little? These are all things I worry about - hence the joys of being the parent of a special needs child. This also means she will see more of Chris. If she attends a traditional public school, she will miss he most of the time. He'll be gone to work by the time she gets home and that takes a toll on her.

So after years of considering home school and wondering when would the right time be, it is now. There is a teacher and an accountability system so I can't slack off. We have flexible hours, so she can spend time with Chris before settling down to do her schooling and the average school day is three to five hours. That means she shouldn't get tired out as quickly and have more energy to run, jump and climb like the little Monkey she has been all of her life. It also means we can work on memorizing Bible verses, her reading can improve since we'll be able to spend more time working on it and she will benefit from the one on one time she really needs. This seems like a good option for her and for me.

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving or Staying Put


I think I've been thinking about this a lot because we've been trying to decide if this is where we want to spend the next 20 years in Everett or not. At least we've been discussing it a lot lately.

Here is the questions I have. How do you stay in the same town, the same city, same state for your entire life? I know there are people who do it. Friends of mine here and in Oklahoma and Kansas have remained either in Washington or the previously mentioned states for their entire lives. So I know it happens, people die exactly where they were born every day. But HOW? How do you not go stir crazy? How do you stay put and never move out of your comfort zone? How do you stay in the exact same place without meeting new people, experiencing new things, going new places? I know it seems as if I am judging. I promise, that is not my intent. I do however, want to understand how people do it.

I like safety and contentment too. It was nice staying in Wichita, I was close to family. I was 20 minutes from my mom, aunt and uncle. When Dacia was living in Wichita, we got to see each other at least every two weeks. If I had the money we could drive either North or South three or four hours and see either my dad's side of the family or Matt & Meg and her family. It was nice. Being close to family is always nice. But so is growing and changing and figuring out how to get along without family there to help you and know you are standing on your own two feet because God has helped you to do so. And yet, I do want to know how do people do it - stay put in one place for their entire lives. I want to understand it, because I know so many who choose to live their lives this way. Of course, I also know a lot of people who choose to live their lives so that they move a lot or at least every so often and see different parts of the country and world.

I have friends who are volunteer missionaries in Germany right now. My Aunt Christine and Uncle Frank Dewey spent many years living in India and are now living in the Ukraine as missionaries. Although, they didn't really move around India a whole lot, and my cousins while having somewhat embraced adventure in their twenties are happily living in Texas and Oklahoma. I often wonder if Laura and Evan get bitten by the itch to move from time to time.

In fact, I lived in the same house and the same city (Wichita, KS) for over 10 years. AND IT DROVE ME NUTS!!!!!! So while Chris and I were sitting at McDonald's on Sunday and talking about what we hoped for the future and what dreams we had. And I love Everett, I love being in Washington, but I do not want to spend the next 23 years of my life living here. It would probably drive me insane. About every three to five years or so I get antsy. I think some of it is because even though we stayed in Yukon, OK for 10 years before moving to Great Bend, KS we still moved houses every so often. Then we moved to Great Bend and I loved seeing something new and trying something new. I loved moving in and out of the dorms during college and being able to change things up a bit. Moving to Catania, Sicily for 10 months was tough, because I had to say goodbye to my family and friends, but I loved the adventure of learning a new language, culture, new social mores, and learning to embrace that which is different and yet the same. My girls will most likely not have this itch.

Until we moved to Everett, our house in Wichita was the only home the girls had known. Although you never know. Sarah has moved a lot, and while now she has enjoyed staying in one place for an extended period of time, she is choosing to join the Air Force when she is done with college. This will mean moving as often as the military asks her too. There is a part of me that wouldn't mind going active duty. I wouldn't mind moving around to different countries, different parts of this country and helping our country maintain it's freedom at the same time.

Of course, some of me enjoying moving is starting over and a fresh start. No one knows your past, your life isn't an open book to people (unless you choose to make it that way) so maybe some of the enjoyment of moving is that no one knows me. No one can judge who I used to be and decide who they think I am unless I choose to tell them about my life. Of course, I'm pretty open and I have no terrible secrets, but in moving it is a sense of power. And when you move you can clean your "friend" house and slowing and painlessly distance yourself from those people who are not really your friends. It is appealing and it means you don't have to deal with their drama or garbage anymore, because tah-dah! YOU AREN'T THERE!!! As the one who most friends call when it all hits the fan, I can tell you; it is exhausting sometime. I have been known to not answer the phone from time to time. But when you move it's kind of like shedding your skin and a chance to grow and make new friends, who are hopefully less neurotic than the ones I left behind.

So do you move a lot? Are you a person who has always lived in one place your entire life? If so is it because opportunities never arose for you to move away or is it out of fear? I'd love to hear your answers.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moving and Moving On?

I've moved quite a bit in 37 years. Mostly to different houses in the same city or away to college, but I've also moved to different states and even a different country. As I've grown older I realize that I tend to move and lose touch with people.

The nice thing about Facebook is that it allows you to reconnect with those you've lost touch with over time. But to what degree do you resume contact with people or decide to let go and move on? Is it good to let relationships lapse and start new ones? Or is it better to maintain relationships even if it is difficult? And to what point do you say, "Maybe something is wrong with me that I don't get so emotionally attached to people that I can't live without them (except my mom and family of course).

So I promise I will try to do better about keeping in touch and work at maintaining friendships even though I have moved. I can't promise I'll succeed at it, or that I will fail either, but I will try to stay in touch. Of course, Facebook makes that so much easier to do now, so I'm hoping to be more successful.

Do you have trouble maintaining friendships if you move? Or are you a person who clings to your friendships even if they aren't healthy?

Have a good week. . .
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blessings and Friends


One of life's true blessings is a good friend. You know the person you can call no matter what and lament, the person who will stop and pray with you at a moments notice.

This morning I woke up tired, harried, and minus some hair. Last night, Jalen returned to our apartment and I treated her for lice. By the end I had to cut most of her hair off, because it was insurmountable the work that would have had to happen to get her 100% cootie free. Then I found some in Sarah's hair, but worse, the girls found live lice on me. Up until that point I had been teasing them I was going to buzz cut my hair, but when they found them alive and found nits, that was it, off with the hair. So this morning after going to bed at 3 a.m. and waking up at 8 a.m. and speaking with my lawyer's office, I got up grabbed some clothing and hurried to the bus. As I was waiting for the light to change, the bus I needed came and went. At this point, I picked up the phone and called Patty.

Patty is the lovely woman in the middle. Heather is the lovely lady on the left and she's awesome too. I called her about ready to cry and thinking I needed to change my name to Alexander and move to Australia already (read Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to understand). And after lamenting, she stopped me and we prayed right there while she was trying to get up and moving and I was waiting on the next bus. In those few moments, I felt peace steal over my heart and sooth my weary soul.

God has blessed us very richly with some wonderful new friends. Mike & Merry Knapp are a few of our favorite people and they also are there when you need them. I hope we can reciprocate the favor sometime soon. Heather Morgan, who is awesome with my girls and a favorite guest at our house at least once a week if not more. Patty Kraft, who is wonderful enough to pray with a woman about ready to shoot herself in the foot out of frustration. These are just a few of the new friends the Lord has sent into our lives and we love you all.

I hope you all have a good day.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Economy


With all of the concern over the economy, especially with all parties arguing over who is to blame. Many Americans are concerned.

Last year (2010) was a year of a lot of ups and downs for our family. The high points were Chris' return February 13, 2010 from his deployment to Iraq and Kuwait. We got to go to Disney World and have our first ever vacation that did not involve staying with family to cut costs. It was very nice.

However, there were a lot of low points for our family as well. Chris returned home to no job waiting for him. Fortunately, we had advance knowledge of this and it meant I was able to pay up a lot of our bills, including house and utilities so it gave us a little breathing room. Also Chris was kept on orders until May so it bought us some time to pay bills, make sure we were in good financial standing. Also Chris has wisely purchased a house that only required 1/4 of his income at Cessna at the time, so our house payment was very manageable for many months. We paid our waste, water, and electricity and gas up for months in advance so that we had some breathing room. However, by November we had to apply for food stamps, free medical care for the girls and myself (I was not approved) and Chris was on VA medical care. So I was the only one of us who didn't have health insurance.

We also lost several loved ones and acquaintances that we loved greatly. By the end of the year, we were both struggling to remain positive. When you have three children and one of them has a specialist for her eyes, asthma and allergies, and other health concerns, it means you worry. You worry, A LOT when you have no health insurance. You find yourself struggling to keep the children and husband upbeat, even if you are struggling yourself.

2010 was a year of ups and down, but thankfully 2011 was a year of new beginnings and opportunities. And now we find ourselves making ends meet. It's still tough, but God is good and he provides as needed, even if he doesn't always provide extras. I know many of you are facing uncertainty and unemployment right now. I also know it is tough to believe that God is there and provides, but I assure you he does. I grew up being raised by faith. Many times faith paid our bills, put food on the table and met a need. Sometimes God provided by unknown sources, sometimes it was from friends and family or church family. But He provided.

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Monday, August 8, 2011

God's Plan

There are many lessons I have learned throughout life. The biggest one is that God has a plan for everything that happens in life. I don't always know what the plan is, but I know He has a plan. I must confess though, I'm not sure what God's plan is when it comes to lice.

I currently have two young girls with buzz cuts in my living room because you guessed it, we found lice. I was exhausted Saturday and so I decided to rest on the Sabbath and to forgo figuring out the bus system to make it to church (we're down to one car right now) and just rest at home. The plan was to read my Bible, snuggle with the girls and enjoy a quiet day at home. The plan did not happen. I am not thrilled that the plan did not happen, not only did I not get to read my Bible, I spent the day searching heads for nits, and cleaning heads to kill lice and doing laundry to make sure we didn't stay infested.

About the time that Chris made it home, I was ready to cry and so we just gave each little girl a buzz cut. All because I decided to put Beka's hair in a ponytail so she could play outside. Thank goodness for towheads! Her super blond hair is what helped me find the louse. It was an adult and had apparently been there for a week or so because it had matured and I found large areas of nits. So off with the hair, because the Rid worked a little bit, but I was going cross eyed and if I'd plucked each individual hair with a nit on it, Beka would have large bald patches. Lizzie on the other hand only had a few nits, but the bugs didn't want to die. So off with her hair too. At this point if Sarah has it, she's getting a buzz cut too, because her hair is so long and thick I might lose my mind before we get rid of all the nits in her hair.

So that was my Sabbath. I hope your Sunday was more restful. I hope you got to take a nap, rest quietly in the Lord, and if you figure out why God made the louse, please share with me. I'd love to know - lice and cockroaches - ugh.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Questions than Answers

We all see the stories. . . you know the ones I'm talking about. The new stories about parents who harm their children, drop them off at the side of a busy highway, or kill their children because they are angry. If you are like me, you cry and ask in your heart Lord, how can you let this happen to children?

When Beka was about six months old, I was doing research for my Ethics class. She was sleeping quietly next to me in her playpen and as I began my research I stumbled across a story of a small infant who at only a month old had been tortured and harmed in ways too horrific to put on here, because it still makes me cry. My poor husband came home to find a wife who was holding and nursing his little daughter and bawling and promising her that Mommy would never do anything so horrible to her. If I hadn't needed a computer for school he might have contemplated taking the computer away from me. At least until my hormone levels had tapered off a little more - because a nursing mom still has a ton of hormones raging around.

Sometimes though, we abuse our children without realizing it. We abuse them with our actions or words, or worse with our poor choices. So many parents do not stop and think and realize that their poor choices also impact their children. Whether it is a poor dating choice, spending money unwisely, or quitting your job without having another one lined up (notice I said, quitting your job - this is not the same as losing your job to lay-offs or a company moving). Whoever came up with the little saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me is a liar. Sometimes our words can tear a child or loved one apart. Sometimes our choices tear our children apart, whether it be a small choice to not do the grocery shopping that day, even if there is no food in the refrigerator or choosing to bring alcohol home, it hurts our children. I see it a lot these days, our poor choices negatively impacting our children and often times because of pride parents who refuse to realize that they have done something wrong.

Even now I shake my head and wonder what are people thinking. Then I wonder why so many people can't believe I am for sterilization of those not fit to be parents. Civil rights? What about a child's right to be safe, warm, loved and protected? What about a child's right to not go to bed that a parent is going to wake them up drunk and abusive? What about the little boy or girl who lays in bed at night waiting for their parent to come in a sexually abuse them, or worse yet, the child who gets sold to human traffickers to supply a parent with money for drugs and alcohol?! And yet at the same time, I see government restrictions on parents and their forms of discipline.

So here are my questions: Why is it some people make choices that hurt their children and seem oblivious? Why is it some people who grow up in abusive homes grow up to not abuse their children while others don't break the cycle of abuse? Why is it we think our children are our property to harm as we wish and please? But more importantly why is it some people have a great level of self awareness while others go through life completely oblivious to how their actions negatively or positively impact others? If you have answers, I'd love to hear them so please share with us all.

I hope you all have a good week.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Making Friends



It's always a little scary when you move to a new part of the country. It's also a bit daunting trying to figure out how to meet new people and make new friends, even when you are 37 years old.

Fortunately, in this day and age, Facebook has come to the rescue. I know the date stamp says January, but actually this picture was taken over Memorial Day. It was a great day, Chris even got to make a new friend, Kirk Kraft. They are both equally goofy and had a good time getting to know each other.

We've been very fortunate that because of church family who lived in Everett previously and because of friends who are friends with others on Facebook we got to make some friends before moving. It's amazing how much easier that made life and the transition. It's still not always easy, but it isn't as tough as it could have been.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for paving a way for us to make new friends and embrace new ones into our family. Thank you for blessing us with good friends and helping us find a loving church family. Thank you for always meeting our needs when we need them, even if we don't always understand that at the time. Thank you for always having our best interests at heart and taking such good care of us. Help us to remember to be thankful and help us to remember we need to praise you.
Amen.

Have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Monday, August 1, 2011

Decision and Prayers


School is beginning again. Sooner for some and a little later for others. For Elizabeth school starts shortly after Labor Day and it's that time of year again. The time where I wonder how much longer she can emotionally stay in public school? How much more time can we give her to get the help she needs from the school system until we begin to contemplate home schooling for her.

This has been an ongoing prayer concern and struggle for us. A part of her thin skin is her age, Sarah went through this phase too, until she got into 7th grade. Something happened for Sarah then - she just got a lot tougher and what others thought about her didn't worry her as much anymore. We are currently looking at public school for now, it's important for her, but she's getting to the age when children become even more cruel than they were when she first began school. In the beginning, all of the kids were friends with each other, but as they grow older, bullies begin to emerge, the odd duck child gets singled out.

On one side of our thoughts, is that Lizzie needs the socialization to learn how to deal with other people and the real world. However, at what point do we keep that a goal if it's ripping her apart. Lizzie struggles with a need to be liked and it seems to be even more prevalent in her than others. Sarah struggles with this as well, even at 16 years old. Chris and I are working with both of them to help them navigate this tricky time of growth and maturing. But there is a point where you wonder, how much do you sacrifice for your child to grow and mature if it could possibly destroy them?

So we are looking at fourth grade and the realization that two years of public school before we face the daunting challenge of deciding what to do for Lizzie when it comes to middle school and high school. She doesn't do well with change, she doesn't do well when stressed, all of these are a part of life, but at what cost do you stick to your guns and keep your child either at home or in public education.

So these are my thoughts, these are my prayer concerns, these are the circles that run in my head constantly when I look at the choices for Elizabeth.

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen