Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Unplanned

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review.
I learned so much from this book and I couldn't put it down. I was totally enraptured learning how this girl raised in a pro-life family was persuaded to volunteer for Planned Parenthood and eventually worked her way up to clinic director. The whole time, Abby Johnson, tells her story from her perspective at the time. Because her parents were pro-life, but never talked much about it at home, she grew up not able to defend her supposed pro-life stance. Thus, she was easily talked into the volunteer position. She was told that Planned Parenthood's goal has always been to make abortions rare. Because she firmly believed what she was told, she never questioned the abortions that happened every week.
She truly believed that she was caring for and helping women. It's what made her so passionate about her job with Planned Parenthood for the eight years she worked there. She was deceived. And she deceived many women as a result.
It wasn't until the day she was asked to assist with a sonogram-guided abortion, that she realized the truth. That day, she left her clinic and went straight to the Coalition for Life, the pro-life group right down the street. She switched sides. Her eyes were opened to the awful truth of what she had participated in and she switched sides. Her story is amazing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just So You Know

I have writer's block. I sit down wanting to blog, and nothing. I have two books that I've read and need to review (and I even liked them both), but I'm not in the mood.

I've been completely consumed with reading adoption blogs lately. Several friends of mine are in the process of adopting and I've stumbled upon several amazing adoption blogs. Reading about children being redeemed from a life without hope absolutely makes my day. I love reading the stories of these children who are neglected and treated as worthless, being chosen and redeemed and loved.

It also reminds me of the first year with our adoptees. How many dumb mistakes I made. How ignorant I was. Oh how I wish I could rewind and just snuggle with them and read to them and call that school. Why was I in such a hurry to catch these kids up academically? They needed to know love. They needed to know family. They needed to know Jesus. Not history. Not science. Not math. All that could wait! They needed love.

I have learned so much since our adoption. The ransom we raised to redeem our precious Maya, Isaac, and Daniel, wasn't to free them from a life without schooling. We were freeing them from a life without hope!

If you have adopted, are in the process of adopting, or want to adopt in the future, please stay focused on the goal. The goal is to give these children hope, love, and a family.

Everything else is gravy.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: Radical

I received this book from Multnomah Publishing for my honest review. I was so impressed with this book. From the start, I was expecting a "Get up off your duff and do something for God" message, but I was so mistaken. The message of Radical is much more and much greater than that. It's not about missing out, it's about missing the point. We have so Americanized the gospel, it's not even recognizable biblically. The gospel of Christ isn't about repeating a simple prayer and getting your ticket to heaven. It's about salvation from the hell you and I deserve for all the words, deeds, and thoughts that violate God's standard. In light of the wrath and torture we've been saved from, our gratitude to a holy God leads us to live radically for him. Not spending a life filling our big houses with beautiful furniture and working hard saving up for a relaxing retirement, but living a sold-out life for the Jesus we love.
I was absolutely transformed by this little book. I strongly recommend it to every American.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Big Families & How They Do: Sibling Relationships

A big difference I've noticed since becoming a "big family" is the way my children relate to each other. For one thing, I don't have anywhere near the arguing and fighting that little families have. When Chloe wants to play a game and Elena won't play with her, she just turns to Lydia (or Maya or Isaac. . .) They are always able to find someone who will play what they want to play and how they want to play it.
But another difference is the web of friendships among the siblings:
  • Maya and Isaac love to talk and tell their secrets to each other
  • Elena and Chloe play Polly Pockets and My Little Pet Shops together
  • Isaac and Daniel play basketball and football and build things together
  • Chloe and Lydia love playing Chess together
  • Maya and Elena love doing art projects together
  • Daniel and Lydia love wrestling and playing together
  • Maya and Julia love babbling together and making each other laugh
The one thing of which I can boast, as a mom of a lot of kids, is: No one ever complains of boredom. I mean never.
Here's a common scene of my "twins":

Having no brothers of my own, I see the value in Lydia's ability to rough house and not get her feelings hurt. It took me years of marriage to learn that trait. How far advanced my sweet girlie will be. :)

Grab this button and blog it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interesting Comment

I don't generally publish anonymous comments, but this one was so tactful, I thought it deserved a response. This comment was a response to my blog post: Trying to Relate.

The thing I have the most trouble with families who have these beliefs about homemaking and woman's place in the home and all- it JUST so happens that ALL your children "want" to be housewives and ALL happen to be "domestically gifted". I am willing to bet in 3 years, you will be saying the same about Chloe and Elena. The Duggar family says the same thing- that every single girl has no other desire in life than to be a mother and stay at home all day.

While fine, I can believe a few of them may actually want to, the thing is- of course that's all these girls "want" to do. It's the only thing modeled and beaten into their heads from a young age. Do you expose your girls to other options besides baking, sewing, and taking care of Julia? Do they know that women can be teachers (in a real school), doctors, nurses, lawyers, therapists, office workers, CEOs, business managers, and a whole slew of other careers? Or do you tell them this, but then add on "but only feminists do work outside the home and that's bad"?

I'm not trying to say that homemaking is a bad thing. I'm saying that from what I've observed from reading blogs of families similar to yours, there is a strange trend of parents claiming that "all" their daughters want to do is be homemakers, and that is awfully strange and coincidental. I'm questioning if this is something they REALLY want to do or have they been brainwashed by biased parents?

Also, Maya is 13. 13 year olds change their minds every day so if she's 16 and saying she wants to go to college, please don't try and prevent her from going. Isn't Pedro in college? You didn't try and keep him back, did you?

I know you won't publish this, but i would not be upset if you replied to my email address- (removed for her protection)


I appreciate your perspective. The truth is: all children follow in the footsteps of their role models. The Bible states this.

"A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40

Children in public schools are fed a consistent diet of evolutionism. It is no surprise that the overwhelming majority of them grow up defending evolution to the death, whether they can explain their beliefs or not. I don't think that's strange or coincidental. They are only learning what they have been taught.

If I paid to have my children in Catholic school, I would expect them to hear only the Catholic viewpoint. I wouldn't think it strange or coincidental.

When Planned Parenthood comes to my child's public school, I would expect my children to learn about contraception, not the blessing of children or the choice of abstinence. It would be foolish of me to think otherwise, given Planned Parenthood's clearly stated beliefs.

Unless children disrespect their teachers, they will learn and value what they've been taught. Children of feminists grow up to be feminists. Daughters of embittered single women grow up distrusting men. You may call it brain-washing if you like, but it's a fact of life.

I grew up with a working mother, so it's not surprising that I grew up planning to be a career woman. I worked all through graduate school and for 9 years following. I hope that my daughters will not choose the same, but will raise their own children. I pray that they see the eternal value in it. There is no eternal value in a successful career.

My daughters do know that women can be lawyers, doctors, therapists (I was one), and lucrative business owners. They've seen it. But they've also figured out that those women either miss out on the blessing of children, or they miss out on raising them, while they're away all day working. I haven't had to tell them this. They see it for themselves. Because I treat them as the blessings they are to me, they also view children as a blessing and desire them.

The reason I train my daughters in homemaking skills is out of obedience to God’s Word:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~Titus 2:3-5

Of all my girls, Maya alone is domestically-gifted. She is passionate about a clean house, she loves to cook and bake, and she asks to take care of her baby sister. I highly doubt I will be able to say that about all my daughters. I myself am not domestically-gifted. I cook because I eat. I am learning to bake, but I prefer to buy sweets. I clean because I hate a dirty house.

But I am not a homemaker because I’m especially skilled for the job, or have the patience of a saint. I am a homemaker because I desire to obey God’s commands, because I love Him.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. ~1 John 5:3

Like I said in the comments of that blog post, Maya wants to learn photography. If she maintains that desire, she will absolutely be going to college to take the classes. We encourage her in this because photography is a hobby that can make good money, but doesn't have to detract from the joy and blessing of motherhood.

You impressed me, Michelle, with your ability to express your viewpoint calmly. A rare trait indeed! :)


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Urgent Prayer Request


Please pray for sweet Olga. Since Patti blogged about Olga's imminent transfer to an institution and her desperate need to be adopted, $12,709 has been raised for her adoption grant!

As a result, several families have come forward. Unfortunately, all of them have had to back out for one reason or another (finances, family size, etc.). Most recently, Olga was on the "My Family Found Me" page of Reece's Rainbow and we were on pins and needles waiting to hear details. But this morning, Olga's precious picture was no longer there.

I am heartbroken.

Please pray for Olga. Pray that God will provide a forever family for her.

I'm praying that one of you will be that family.

God is a father to the fatherless. He places the lonely into families.
~Psalm 68:5-6

Friday, January 14, 2011

Teaching More Than One Child at a Time

Often when I get the "Oh my goodness, I could never homeschool!" comment, it follows the "You homeschool seven kids?!!!" comment (with or without the "Why would you want to do that?" look.)

Well, no, I don't homeschool seven kids. Three of them aren't school-age yet. But I get what they're saying. They're assuming all four children are doing totally different work. That's not the case.
We all do Bible, history, science, and literature together as read-alouds. The only subjects that are individual are math, reading, handwriting, and spelling.
One way I handle the individual work is with rotations. 1 child does their math drill online, 1 goes to their room to read their book, 1 does their handwriting page, while I work 1:1 on another's math worksheet. Then we rotate.

For some subjects, two are "on the same page" sorta speak. Elena and Chloe are on the same level in spelling. We review together, then go over the lesson together, then I have them sit back-to-back for the actual spelling.

I'll call out the words or phrases and they write them down. They can't cheat, but I can see both of their papers so I know when I need to help someone.

Saves time, but gets the job done.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bargain Hunters

This really cracks me up. I always ask the kids to bring the mail in, because I know how exciting it is for them, even when it's just junk mail. I've noticed lately that when they bring in the ad pages, they will divvy them up between themselves and all hunt for the best bargains.
Makes this frugal mama very happy.

"Sprout's has pineapples for $2!"
"Aldi's has them for just $1.50!"
"Look mom, the cheese you like is $2/lb. That's a good price, isn't it?"
"Pecans are $3.69 this week! They were $3.99 last week."

I haven't taught them to do this. I usually throw all of them out except the stores I frequent. But they compare prices of all the local stores. It's a game to them.

I don't remember ever paying any attention to grocery prices until I was married! They're so ahead of the game. {blush with pride}

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Teaching Children to Love Reading - Preschoolers

Preschoolers who love books will soon love learning to read. If they love to read, they will love to learn.
In the preschool years, three types of books are very beneficial (and desirable at this age): wordless, predictable, and visual-puzzle books.

1. Wordless books, like Carl's Snowy Afternoon (and other Carl books), convey a story through pictures alone. Children learn the importance of sequence, as the order of the pictures is very important to the story line. They also learn the art of storytelling as their tale grows and changes as they study the book more.

2. Predictable books, like my favorite Henny Penny, are very helpful in building readers. Because they are so repetitive, the child can easily see what's coming and join in on the reading. Not only are these books fun for children, which increases their love of reading, they allow the child to experience success in "reading".

3. Pop-up books and visual-puzzle books, like the Where's Waldo? series, are enormously successful with young readers and pre-readers. These are the training wheels for future readers. They allow the child to have fun with a book, and that is a good thing!
Visual-puzzle books improve a child's attention span, recall, and visual discrimination-- all essential skills in reading.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Julia's 1st Birthday Party

We served spaghetti and meatballs for the main dish.

Oh wait, did you notice that isn't really spaghetti? It's spaghetti cupcakes. They were a huge hit and man were they delicious!
On with the show. . .

This is how all Clark babies approach cake. It's a cross between "What in the world is this?" and "Why are you looking at me all giddy-like?"

But this is a Clark first.
Elena just stared at her cupcake. She didn't want to get dirty. Ditto that with Chloe. Lydia just bawled when we placed the cupcake in front of her!

But Julia? Oh no! Not Julia! She dove right in.

Good grief, big mouth!

Kyle got a little concerned at what big bites she was shoving down the gullet, but I was having too much fun to worry over potential choking hazards.

It really is a blast having a kid actually eat their birthday cake.

There were no broken noodles left on that tray when she was finished. It was spotless.

And I was laughing my head off at my budding sweet tooth.

Spaghetti Cupcakes
taken from Hello, Cupcake!

Make vanilla cupcakes according to directions on box, but use 4 eggs instead of what is called for on the box and use buttermilk in place of the water.
Bake vanilla cupcakes in pale yellow muffin cups. Place them close together on a platter.
Make a batch of buttercream frosting (or use a can of store-bought) and tint it w/ 1/4 tsp. cocoa powder and 3-4 drops yellow food coloring.
Spread a little frosting on top of the cupcakes.
Put remaining frosting in a piping bag or ziplock bag w/ small corner cut off.
Pipe icing all over the cupcakes to look like a big pile of spaghetti.
Mix Ferrero Rocher chocolates with a jar of low-sugar strawberry preserves. (low sugar preserves have the best color)
Place one chocolate on top of each cupcake and spoon the rest all over the icing noodles.
Then grate white chocolate on top for Parmesan.

Monday, January 10, 2011

She's One Already!!

My sweet baby girl turns 1 today! Tonight, to be specific. I'm taking a stroll down memory lane today, remembering my pregnancy with her, her birth, and this past year of joy, sleepless nights, middle of the night runs to the store for cabbage leaves to relieve the awful pain of overactive mammary glands, all her firsts, and the fun and thrill of being able to share all her babyhood with 6 older doting siblings.

Julia, I'm nuts about you. And so is Daddy. And Maya. And Elena. And Isaac. And Chloe. And Daniel. And Lydia.

You won't always have so many servants. It's a sad fact of life for a baby of a big family. But one day, you'll know the joy I have. That of serving the children God gives you.

You are one of the seven ways God is freeing me from my selfishness. I am so grateful to Him for you!

Happy Birthday!

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Teaching Children to Love Reading - Babies & Toddlers

This is the start of a short & simple series I hope you'll enjoy. Raising children who love to learn is my academic goal for our homeschool. Notice I didn't say it was one of my academic goals. It is the academic goal for my children. If they love to learn, they can learn anything they want to learn. And loving to read develops a love of learning so we'll start there.

Babies and toddlers love rhythmic books, so we start with Mother Goose. Mother Goose rhymes have no plot, no story, so climax. They just rhyme. Rhyming teaches littles to love language.
There are gobs of Mother Goose treasuries to choose from, so pick the one with the illustrations you love.

Board books are another great way to teach littles to love books. It doesn't matter that they are chewing it more than looking at it. They're enjoying a book and that's the point.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two Kinds of Sadness

The weeks before Christmas I found myself struggling with sadness over the orphans of Reece's Rainbow (one in particular actually). I shouldn't say "struggling" because it isn't a bad thing. I just couldn't get it out of my head how many precious children need families.

After Christmas, I find myself struggling with a different kind of sadness. Sadness over the inability our society has to really connect with people. One group that we were with prefers to keep talks on the surface. We talk about the weather, football, and how to cook a great ham. I always leave depressed. "We never talk about anything REAL!," I lament to Kyle as we leave. When serious topics come up, they are met with sarcasm and joking. Thus is our culture. People just doesn't know how to handle the stuff that is real.

Have you noticed that if you answer "How are you doing?" with anything other than "I'm fine", people don't know how to handle it? I'm not talking about strangers here. I'm talking about people who love and care about you.

When you ask someone how they are doing, give them time to tell you the truth. Maybe they're not fine. Maybe they need your encouragement. Maybe they are really great and want to tell you about it. But they always want to talk about themselves. Give them patience and time to do it.

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13:35