Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Schooling Older Adoptees

. . . is hard. It's really hard. Malnourishment is hard on a developing brain. It creates what we call swiss cheese brain. These kids astound us frequently with the things they understand. (Isaac has a firm grasp on figurative speech although he has a very small vocabulary.) That's the cheese. Then there are other things that we think they know or should know and they don't. Same boy just learned his shapes half a year ago. That's the holes.
They also experience what we call the Trap Door Effect. Some days it seems like a trap door in their brain has opened and quite a bit has fallen out. What they knew two days ago is now just gone. But tomorrow it will mysteriously be back. It's fruitless to fight the trap door effect and it's unwise to give a child responsibility who is experiencing the effect.

I spend a significant amount of mental energy each week trying to figure out a better way to school my adoptees. Did I not explain the formula well? Should I have explained it a different way? Maybe a visual aid would have helped them understand better?
I've had to get creative. Neither of my school-age adoptees are reading fluently. Maya, who has been reading for 3 years now, made it up to a 2nd grade reading level and then progress just stopped. For a full year she didn't get any faster or any more fluent. Still sounding out words. I kept thinking it would click and she'd take off, but it didn't and she hasn't. So, I decided to go back to phonics instruction.

I've learned a lot in the process.
  • I've learned that progress takes a lot longer with children whose brains were previously malnourished.
  • I've learned to lower my expectations so that I'm not eternally frustrated.
  • I've learned I have to rely on the Lord daily for patience and grace.
  • I've learned that audio book classics are a great way to build vocabulary and improve grammar skills for a non-reader.
  • I've learned that talking to people who haven't adopted about these issues doesn't help and almost always makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong.
  • I've learned that talking to other adoptive parents about these issues helps a lot and always makes me relax and realize I'm not alone.
  • I've learned that character and godliness should be my top priorities of homeschooling. Academics aren't everything.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Update on Julia

I have been sorely disappointed in my photography since Julia was born. I just haven't taken very many pictures at all. Maya took these, along with hundreds of other photos of her favorite subject: Julia.
We have all been enjoying Julia so much! I am just too busy holding and cooing at her to stop and take a picture of her cute face. Here's a day in our life:
Julia wakes up everyday at 6am, I bring her to my bed to nurse her while Kyle gets ready for work. Then we coo at her and make fools of ourselves in order to see her smile and after a while of that, I put her back to bed and I generally go back to bed myself.
She eats again at 10am, 2pm, and finally at 6pm. Then she's in bed for the night at 7pm. When I'm ready to go to bed, I get her up and bring her to my bed to nurse her one more time. Again Kyle and I coo at her and enjoy her smiles for awhile before putting her back to bed.
Several times a week when I'm holding her, I'll look at Kyle and say: Isn't she wonderful? She's just so wonderful!

I love this little girl.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Problem with "Lord Save Us. . ."

I thought this was a good documentary that made a lot of good points. The primary one being that those who profess Christianity give it a really bad name by their very unChristian attitudes and behavior, i.e. condemning homosexuals instead of reaching out to them with the good news of the gospel. HOWEVER, his premise is wrong from the start. He assumes that all of those who call themselves Christians actually are. Going to church, calling yourself a Christian, saying a prayer, etc does not a Christian make. It is God alone who saves. Not us by our prayers and our decisions. When He saves us, He changes us. He makes us more Christ-like.
You will know a Christian by their fruit. By their compassion, humility, joy, mercy, and repentance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Do You Think About This?

You can watch this documentary online for free today here. I want to know your opinion about it. I think his premise is wrong from the start, but I'll get to that later. Watch it and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Experiment

Daniel and Lydia recently got $5 each in their birthday cards. So off to Dollar Tree we went, per their request. Maya and Isaac, the only two Clark children who seem to understand the value of money, had some cash of their own to spend. They both bought cotton candy.
So, today I saw Maya was about to put a piece of cotton candy in her cup of water, with the other kids all looking on. I said: Don't put it in there! It'll dissolve!
Maya knew this already. She said: I wanted them to see what happens. It's just a geography experiment!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Put off all of these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
and have put on the new man. Therefore, as the elect of God, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility. . .
~Colossians 3:8-10, 12

I frequently need to ask my children to forgive me. Half as often, I actually do. Do you know why I sometimes don't apologize? Because I don't want to remind my children of what I did. I am hoping they have somehow forgotten since they appear to be over it. If I ask them to forgive me, I think, they will get upset at me all over again.
The other day, after several days as "Irritable Mommy", I realized I needed to apologize to my kids. (I needed to apologize much earlier than I actually realized it. ;) ) I gathered them all in the den, and I got down on my knees. I said I was so sorry that I'd been impatient and mean and I asked them to forgive me.
It didn't remind them of my sin. They hadn't forgotten. It endeared them to me. The rest of the day, they gathered around me, wanting to know if I needed anything, if I would play dolls with them, if I liked the flowers they collected for me.
Asking forgiveness doesn't remind others of our sin. They know. Asking forgiveness reminds others of our humanness, our vulnerability, our love for them.
Lord, help me to remember this.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: How Should a Christian Live?

I received this book to review from Thomas Nelson publishing.
How Should a Christian Live? is a devotional, journal, and audio bible based on 1 Corinthians through Philemon. The audio bible is a dramatized reading of the International Children’s Bible by an all star cast. The quality of the readings is great, although the version itself is mostly a paraphrase. Like the ICB version, this devotional is quite dumbed-down, given that it’s geared to teens. It would be appropriate as a Bible study for 8-12 year-olds. Included in the devotional are word scrambles, crossword puzzles, word finds, message decoding, and quizzes to keep a child’s attention. Intermittently, definitions of common biblical words are provided, such as sovereign, unconditional, humble, etc. The simple definitions, along with all of the relatable anecdotes will help a child understand these epistles better.
What caught my attention most was the first two pages. The book starts with a short, simple prayer that a child can pray, followed by the statement: “Welcome to the Kingdom of God!” It goes on to say that if you prayed that prayer (and meant it), you are now in God’s kingdom. Nothing at all is said about repentance. How easy is that! Apparently, all you have to do is pray a prayer and you get to go to heaven, regardless of how you live. I’ll be gluing those pages together before giving this devotional to my children.

Just Witnessed Reason #327

. . . to homeschool:

When a crossing guard isn't available.

We were going to meet a friend at the park and I had to drive through several school zones. (Why I decided to plan our playdate when the schools were letting out, I have no idea.) Driving down a six lane thoroughfare, I saw kids looking or not looking and making mad dashes across the busy street. Scared me to death to think of my own kids walking home from school totally on their own. There was a little boy, smaller than Chloe (so 7 years old tops) riding his tiny little bike across 6 lanes of traffic. He wasn't at an intersection.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I wonder what it's like to be the baby of a big family. It must be nice. We all fight over her! When I bring her downstairs in the morning, I'm greeted with a chorus of "Can I hold her? Can I hold her?"
Those of you that know me, know I love to analyze people. Birth order, personality, learning style, etc. etc. I've now decided there should be another category in the birth order book. Babies of big families. They are entirely different that babies of average-size families. They are doted on by a lot more people. Spoiled doesn't even begin to describe it.
I have no concerns over Julia's self-esteem. I'm pretty sure she'll grow up very confident and secure. hehe