Thursday, April 30, 2009

What If Blacks Adopted Whites??

Raising Katie
What adopting a white girl taught a black family about race

Several pairs of eyes follow the girl as she pedals around the playground in an affluent suburb of Baltimore. But it isn't the redheaded fourth grader who seems to have moms and dads of the jungle gym nervous on this recent Saturday morning. It's the African-American man—six feet tall, bearded and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt—watching the girl's every move. Approaching from behind, he grabs the back of her bicycle seat as she wobbles to a stop. "Nice riding," he says, as the fair-skinned girl turns to him, beaming. "Thanks, Daddy," she replies. The onlookers are clearly flummoxed.

As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O'Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought "we might be lynched." And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn't being kidnapped.

Read more here.

This article is intensely interesting to me. I'm fairly confident I would respond in similar fashion, not because I stereotype blacks as violent, but because this type of transracial adoption is so very rare. As a transracial adoptive mom, I'm very aware of biracial families and I have never seen a family that "looks like" this one.
It is very interesting, though, how very different are the responses I get to my biracial family.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daniel Pulled a Tooth

Notice I did not say he lost a tooth. He didn't. It wasn't loose, it wasn't wiggly. He pulled it. Why would he pull a tooth, you ask? Because he had a bead stuck on it! Duh!
Look at the size of that tooth! Good grief!
Kyle and I are frequently looking at each other and asking: What was he thinking??
He scribbled on Kyle's car with a brick. He poured body oil on the floor in room. (Thankfully, we have hardwoods.) He came out of the public bathroom with soapy hands. He lathered up. He just forgot to wash the soap off. (He did flush though, which was no minor miracle.)
I keep waiting for the day Daniel sticks a bean up his nose.

Lord, give me grace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Fruit of Home Schooling

When Elena was itty bitty, we got a lot of flack for the way we chose to parent her. We put her to bed awake instead of lulling her to sleep with a ride in the car. I woke her up when she needed to eat, instead of letting her sleep as long as she wanted. I nursed her when she woke up, instead of nursing her to sleep. Lots of people didn't agree with us. But before Elena was a year old, they started to see the fruit of the way we did things. Elena was a contented baby. It took me about 2 minutes to put her bed and she didn't fuss between feedings.

Homeschooling has been the same way. Initially, we were questioned and criticized for choosing to educate our kids this way. But, after a few years of homeschooling, the criticism was replaced with praise. They began to see the fruit of homeschooling.

  • My children have very close-knit releationships with each other.
  • They are self-assured and speak in front of others with confidence.
  • They aren't too concerned with what other kids think of them. They are great at laughing at themselves.
  • They talk to adults with respect, not awkwardness. They make eye contact.
  • They are innocent. They appear younger than their same-age schooled peers because they maintain their childhood innocence so much longer.

I could go on. It is so fulfilling and rewarding to see the difference homeschooling has made. I am so proud and a little bit jealous of what my kids have developed as a result.

What fruits have you seen in your homeschooling?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Car Schooling

Last Friday, we had a lot of errands to run. I had to get the car inspected and then wanted to get it washed. I prefer to run errands like these in the morning (afternoons are pretty much dedicated to my almost-daily nap), so that means taking school with us.
While I was being read to by Maya, the other kids were reading to themselves if they're able (Elena and now Chloe) or just looking to see how many more chapters are left in the book (Isaac).
And then it was Isaac's turn to read to me. He's actually getting pretty good at it, but it's all about achievement for him, not so much for pleasure. Yet. But I have hope.
Meanwhile, everyone else is entertained just watching the cars get scrubbed and rinsed. Endless entertainment! It never gets old.
By the way, I was having a very thorough job done on my messy van, so we had plenty of time to kill. We got all the reading and math done, and then Daniel and Liddy found this candy machine. It was manna from heaven as far as they were concerned.
Suddenly, I found myself barrated with starving children wanting to know if they could buy some candy. I said: If you're buying, you can have whatever you want!

So Isaac starts emptying his pockets. He has all the things he will ever need in case of an emergency.
Isaac had 57 pennies in his pocket as it turned out! There would be candy galore!!

And after keeping six children busy for an hour, I was rewarded with a shiny and spotless "new" van. Woo-Hoo!! Man, I love multi-tasking!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Interrupt Rule

My friend (in this case, Maya) and I are chatting away and one of the kids wants to talk to me. Instead of incessantly interrupting with: "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" and my having to constantly say: "Hold on a minute, I'm talking" (thus interrupting my friend), the child puts his hand on my arm and waits patiently for me to turn my attention to them. Depending on the age of the child, this may be a few seconds wait or it may be a minute or two.

I put my hand on his to acknowledge him and let him know I'll get to him in just a minute.
And then I tell my friend to excuse me as I turn my attention to my little one, who is then beside himself with excitement to talk to me. (I'm in high demand around here.)
And then someone else runs up and puts her hand on me while Daniel's still talking. I feel so loved. And look how patiently my friend waits to have my attention again!

Everyone gets the attention they want and there's no interrupting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Anointed Book

Last Saturday, Kyle and I went to a day seminar to hear the wisdom of Carole Joy Seid, a proponent of literature-based home education. She was so encouraging! One portion of her seminar was "How to Make Your Children Lovers of Books". The simple method is reading to your children all the time, and being a reader yourself. So, some woman asked: But what if you have a husband who doesn't like to read?
Carole had a quick response (clearly she'd heard that question more than once): Have your husband read to the kids whenever he can. That book is the anointed book. No one else, not even Mommy, ever reads it. Just Daddy. If he only reads it once a week, so be it. But that book is Daddy's alone to read.
So, we did just that. Kyle asked me to make an announcement to the kids, so I did. And then Kyle brought out "Jump on Over: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit" and dove in.
The kids l o v e d it!! When he stopped reading, they were all begging him to keep reading. But as any good Charlotte Mason fan, Kyle left them with a cliffhanger.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Charlotte Mason Q&A

"What is the point of literature-based education?"
Textbooks are written by many authors who each know a little bit about the subject their writing about. Living books are written by one author who is passionate about their topic. For instance, Thornton Burgess was a veterinarian. He wrote many living books, which are basically field guides to specific animals (The Burgess Bird Book, The Burgess Animal Book) but in narrated format. They read like a story, but while my kid is entertained by the sweet story, they are learning what the bird looks like, what he eats, where he lives, who his enemies are, and what he does when pursued by an enemy. I love that!
Rather than reading a couple pages about the holocaust in a history textbook, they will read The Von Trapp Family Singers, Number the Stars, and The Hiding Place. Each gives a different perspective (Austria, Poland, Germany) and it's interesting, not boring, because it's a story. I so wish I could have learned history this way! I hated history in school because I never got the point. It was just names and places and dates with no meaning. I see the passion and understanding that Pedro has for that time period because he learned it through literature.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yee Haw!!

Last night, I twisted Maya's hair again. (The roots that is, not the whole thing, they're locs remember.) I had parted it into two halves, because I figured I only had time to do half then and I'd do the rest today. While we were all enthralled with the movie: Jeremiah, I finished all of her hair!!
You kinda have to be a white mommy of a black girl to get this, but man, oh man, I wanted to stretch out my arms and yell: I Am A Woman!!!
(I'm not done bragging yet.) TWO HOURS! I did it in a mere two hours! (Almost.) That's half the time it took me last month!

Ok, done now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Out of the Archives

What I wouldn't give to go back in time and hug this little cutie! Do you know who it is?

Is this the same kid or someone else? My kids weren't even sure, but I know who it is and I want to kiss her too!
It's hard having kids that grow, isn't it? I may just pour over some old pics today and cry a little.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Charlotte Mason Q&A

I'd like to thank my friend, Jody, for asking me her sincere questions about Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy.

"What is the point of CM approach?"
To create a love of learning in the child.

"Does it truly take 6 hours of outdoor time a day to love the Creator?"
No, I definitely don't think 6 hours is required to love the Creator of the nature we're studying. And while I think she was being quite idealistic in even recommending that much time, I don't think her point was that quantity of outdoor time = more understanding, more love, or more academic knowledge.
However, having said that I take that recommendation (to spend that much time outdoors) with a grain of salt, I do find much value in nature study. The point of nature study is to learn science in a real, concrete way. Not reading in a textbook about botony, zoology, or astrology, but seeing and touching and experiencing science in nature. Nature study is how science is done in the elementary years.

"What is the point of all that narration?! "

First of all, narration isn't meant for every single subject and it is accomplished in many differerent ways (telling the story back, acting out the play, drawing the animal I'm reading about, etc.) Each child (at this age) spends about 5-10 minutes total narrating each day. Narration is composition, learned orally before it is learned in writing. Children learn to express their ideas orally first by telling back what they have learned. Then later, when they need to learn how to write an essay, they only have to write out what they have already learned to express and organize. In schools, children have to learn to write out their thoughts before they even know how to organize them. CM figured out that it works better the other way around. I think that's genius.

The Babies

Can I still call them "the babies" even though they're both 4 now?
I love the relationship these two have. They are best buds. A couple weekends ago, I crept out of bed while Kyle was still sleeping and found Lydia and Daniel on the couch waiting for me. The first thing my kids ask for in the morning is breakfast. Are your kids that way? Anyway, I said: Let's go wake up Daddy!
So, with my encouragement, Daniel and Liddy pounced on the bed to give their Daddy a morning greeting. Kyle wasn't ready to get out of bed yet, so we all just snuggled in bed together for awhile. Lydia and Daniel were lying on my pillow facing each other when Lydia said: I love you, Daniel. You're my best friend.
What a great way for a mommy to start her day!
Yesterday, while we were all gathered at the table for lunch, the four big kids were all plotting out their next drama presentation. I was just taking it all in, not saying anything. Lydia and Daniel were on my end of the table and again Lydia looked at Daniel and said: You're my best friend, Daniel.
Perhaps all those times I had them hold hands and sit in time-out together for fighting and beating each other up (that first year after the adoption was pretty tough on Daniel. Lydia was quite the bully!), are paying off now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's Your Reputation?

Is this the way your husband thinks of you? Well, it's the way one husband clearly feels about his wife and he wore the t-shirt to let everyone know how he felt. And she was with him at the time.

Read the story here.

Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
- Proverbs 21:9

Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry
- Proverbs 21:19

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
- Proverbs 25:24

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Anna Duggar, newlywed wife to firstborn, Joshua Duggar, recently announced her pregnancy. I made the mistake of reading a couple of the comments on this news report. And then I quickly realized it was not going to be wise to continue reading. One commenter basically said that the Duggar family doesn't even deserve to live for the things they are doing (having a big family). I was struck by the strangeness of the very common thinking regarding this quiverful family.
They aren't a homosexual couple adopting a whole lot of kids, who will never know what it's like to have a mother and a father, as God intended it. They are an intact, faithfully married couple.
They aren't killing babies so they can go on living in selfishness, they are giving life to children and becoming selfless in the process. They aren't shipping their kids off to daycare every day so that they can live the privileged lifestyle they've become accustomed to. They are homeschooling their children, so that they can not only have an excellent 1:1 education, but also a close relationship with their parents and siblings. How backwards the world's thinking is! How the enemy has blinded our eyes and twisted our thinking! Open your eyes. The way the world thinks is backwards!

Do not conform any longer to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

-Romans 12:2

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Outside Time

Last night at book club, the topic was nature study. Charlotte Mason was a big believer in the value of being outdoors. Here's what she says:

A mother may brag, 'I make sure to send my children outside, weather permitting,for an hour every day in the winter and two hours in the summer.' That's a good start, but it's not enough. They should be long days spent outside--not two, but four or even six hours on every tolerable day from April til October. Long hours in fresh air is the ideal for children. It may not be practical for every family, but when mothers understand the good that a measure can do, they will often work miracles to provide it.

- taken from Home Education (Modern English version) by Charlotte Mason

I'm curious: How much time do you spend outdoors with your children?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sisterly Love

Saturday, Jamie's family and mine and our parents and Kyle's parents all got together at the lakehouse for an Easter reunion. When Jamie and I get together, there's a lot of laughter and a lot of talking. We sat on that deck for over an hour, just talking to each other. Although we are as different as night and day, personality-wise (she's laid-back and I like to be in control), we are very like-minded. We both want a big family. We are both fans of Charlotte Mason (we both school with Ambleside Online). We both use herbs and try our best to eat the Nourishing Traditions way. (I think I know more about herbs, but she knows a lot more about NT.) We both love to read and frequently swap books. (She's better at actually finishing non-fiction books; I just like to skim them.) I could go on.
When I am overwhelmed or blue, I call her and she encourages me. And vice versa. When either one of us is bored, we call each other and get together. Because of the relationship we have, I frequently tell my kids: "Your brothers and sisters are your best friends. Friends will come and go, but you will always have your siblings." I foster their friendships together because I have seen the sweet fruit of the effort involved.
I love you, Jamie!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Learn from my Mistakes

The Lord has been teaching me a lot lately. Specifically about discernment. As Voddie Bachaum quoted: A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. I will humbly reveal my stupidities in the hope that you can learn from me.

I make snap judgments. It's a part of my personality. I make quick decisions. My fault is in my frequent inability to be swayed from my initial decisions. For instance, I meet a new acquaintance. A homeschooling mom. Her kids are well-behaved and she talks about the books she's been reading about biblical motherhood. I think: Oh wow! We're like-minded! Awesome.

And from that point on, I just assume she desires all the same things for her family that I desire for mine. And then, the next several times we meet, her preteen daughter is dressed inappropriately. And the mom is frequently complaining about her in-laws.

It takes me awhile before I begin to realize that this mom is not who I thought she was and is neither a good influence on my kids or me. In fact, I start to realize that I find myself complaining about my own in-laws when I'm around her. Hey, wait a minute! This is not an edifying friendship! Oh phooey. And then I wonder how I didn't see it before.

(All the while, Kyle is usually saying: I don't think they're the kind of people you think they are. And I'm telling him he just doesn't know them as well as I do. Ha! The irony!)

I am learning to be more discerning about the influences I allow into my life. Those friendships that don't lead me to God's Word and to prayer will almost certainly lead me farther away from Him.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hi, My Name is Ginger

. . . and I'm an internet addict. Sometimes I think I hear the computer calling to me: "There's new and interesting information over here. C'mere. Come heeeeerrrrrreeeee!"
So, I have solved this problem with an internet filter. I searched high and low for a filter that would do all I wanted it to do and then came back to the free one. K9 Web Protection.
I enter in the websites I always want access to (my email, my homeschool planner, and my blog) and the websites I always want to block (forums and social networking sites (i.e. Facebook) which suck up too much of my time). It's been great!
On the weekends, I tell it that I want the option of overriding those effects, so I can waste a little time on Facebook if I so choose, but during the week, I don't allow myself that option. I can even tell it to shut down the internet at bedtime.
Hey, we do what we have to do!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Learned Something New Today

Isaac is very protective of Daniel. They have a very special brotherly bond. Before today, I would have described it as unhealthy and codependent because of the way Isaac protected his brother. He would never tell us when Daniel disobeyed because he didn't want him to get in trouble.
One disturbing incident made me realize the seriousness of it. The kids were playing in the front yard and I was sitting on the porch watching them. I had told everyone that they couldn't play in the street, and I got down on eye level with Daniel, making sure he understood the rule. (Daniel is very impulsive.)
When I turned to get the mail out of the mailbox (on the porch), Daniel ran out into the street. I turned to see Isaac watching him, but doing nothing. We had a talk about the dangers of that choice. Isaac didn't want Daniel to be disciplined for disobeying, so he didn't say anything.
When we talked to Isaac about what happened when Daniel disobeyed in Liberia, he always told us that nothing happened. Maya confirmed this. He basically got away with everything in Liberia.
So, Isaac had never seen discipline the way it's supposed to happen. When Daniel was punished for disobedience, Isaac thought we didn't love him anymore. This all came out in a long talk we just had with Isaac.
We told him that we want people to enjoy Daniel as much as we do, so we discipline him when he disobeys. Kyle explained that people who are in jail and who, in general, are "bad people" were never disciplined as kids. They were never taught right from wrong.
We showed Isaac all the Bible verses about discipline and love. It will take time though, for him to see that we discipline because we love Daniel, not because we don't.

Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.
-Proverbs 19:18

For whom the Lord loves, he chastens.
-Hebrews 12:6

What son is not disciplined by his father? But if you are not disciplined, then you are illegitimate and not true sons.
-Hebrews 12:8
(This one is just for your benefit. I thought it was really powerful, but I didn't read it to Isaac, given his background.)

He who spares the rod, hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him properly.
-Proverbs 13:24

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.
-Proverbs 22:15

Friday, April 3, 2009

Field Trip

As this year's Spring Fling gift from the grandparents, the kids got a membership to the Aquarium. They had never been there before and were wildly impressed.

This what's-his-name bird plopped down right in front of us, giving us all a very close look at nature. Lydia was trying to get this non-parrot to talk and whistle. He couldn't be convinced.

There were a few private schools there when we went and I was wishing I'd dressed all the kid alike. I'm thinking we could all get Polo shirts and have a logo printed on them. What do you think it should say?

I was feeling very insecure with the way these turtles were all staring at me. They may look like innocent tortoises, but they were very intimidating. I firmly told them to stop staring at me and walked away, head held high. When I'd gotten a good distance away, I glanced back, only to see them all staring at someone else. Wasn't I good enough??

As a way to amuse ourselves when we are out and about, we keep a tally chart of all the times I get asked if I run a daycare. One day last week, after only two errands, I'd heard 5 comments. That was a new record for us. We all celebrated by pointed and laughing at the 5th guy to ask. Poor guy, I think we made him insecure. We can be very intimating too.
You hear that, you crazy turtles?!

Have you ever seen the bottom side of an octopus close-up? Very cool. And this guy was very proud of all his little suction-cup-thingies. Don't tell him I called them that. He'll think me ignorant.

The kids stood staring at this octopus and all his terrified anemonoe neighbors for a good 15 minutes. Next time I'll bring a quilt and pillows.

Ever seen a shark from 5 inches away? Well we have!!
A very good time was had by all and a very long nap followed. It was a good day.