Friday, April 28, 2006

All in the family

People often tell me I'm funny, but many of them haven't met my brother. He's one of the funniest people I know. I guess it runs in the family. Don't just take my word for it though. Read this amusing post he wrote recently regarding an infestation in his apartment. See if you don't agree with me.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why I Homeschool

Homeschooling my kindergartener began for pragmatic reasons. I didn't want to send him to a local school because I didn't think he would thrive there with his personality. We didn't want to find the money to send him to an international school, even a Christian one, just for kindergarten. I figured, "How hard can it be to do kindergarten? I mean don't they just play all the time?" I had no idea what kind of sub-culture I was about to enter.

There is a stereotype of Christian homeschooling that I hope people don't attach to me. The picture is this: 10 children, you live on a farm, have your own vegetable garden and goat (for milk) and your husband has a receding hairline and a beard. You regularly spend hours reading, when you are not building your own castle in the backyard with matching suits of armor which you and dad welded in his spare time. This is not us. We have no goat.

I do not believe that homeschool kids will go to heaven automatically or that sending your children to public school warps them forever. I just believe this is something God has called me to at this point in my life. It may change in the future. I'm just committed to listening to Him, because He knows me and my children. He knows what is best for all of us. Someday it may be that He wants my children to be in school, and I'll be ok with that.

But lately my vision and excitement about homeschooling has grown, and I thought it would be good to list my reasons why.
1. The early years go by so quickly. I have such a short time to make a deep impression on my childrens' hearts. I want to make the most of this time when they are fully mine to build a deep foundation in our family relationships.
2. I love seeing my children learn! It's such a blessing to see my son read, and to know that I helped him learn.
3. Nothing in my life has caused me to depend more on God than this. For that I am grateful.
4. Our lives are not hectic. We do school in the morning, and my children have the rest of the day just to be kids. They have an amazing ability to entertain themselves as a result.
5. I get to decide what they learn. We can focus our time learning about the things they really love.
6. My kids can work at their own pace. I realized yesterday that Ethan's math was too easy, so we skipped three chapters to be where he is challenged again.
7. I'm learning about my kids. I'm learning how they learn best, I'm understanding their character, what motivates them, what excites them.

I could go on and on. As difficult as it is, this has been a huge blessing for our family. People sometimes say to me, "Oh, I could never homeschool," because of some deficiency they feel they have. But it's not about whether or not we're capable. If I made parenting decisions based on my ability, I would never have had kids! And if not for God helping me, I would have quit homeschooling within the first month. More than anything, I am learning that if God calls me to something, He will give me what I need to accomplish the task. I need only remain humble and ask for help.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pony on a Stick

According to Brenna folklore, my brother's first word was "horse." Actually, it was more like "ho" or "hor", an unfortunate lack of enunciation on his part. This was because he loved horses, one manifestation of which was that he had one of those ponies on a stick. You know what I'm talking about - the disembodied head of a horse with a stick shoved in its neck that kids can put between their legs and run around with until they trip over it.

Megan is now the proud owner of such a toy. She got it for her birthday from her babysitter, cementing our "we have the best babysitter in the world" theory. Despite my description above, I think it's a great toy for her. I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself. It's light blue, and when you squeeze its ear it makes clippety clop noises and neighs. She loves it so much it garnered the coveted "sleep with Megan" spot recently only occupied by Care Bears. A horse's head in a bed - isn't that something from the Godfather?

Megan's fun quote from today was at Mustafa. She saw an obviously pregnant woman and asked in a loud voice, "Mommy, does that girl have a baby in her tummy? Because I see something bumpy!" I was so thankful that she was as far along as she was.

Classic Ethan

You know those cheezy testimonials you find on advertisements? Turns out some of those are probably real. We experienced one in our car today.

We have been listening to Jonathan Park, which is a series of audio stories for kids about a creation scientist and his son (Jonathan). The cheese is pretty thick on these, but Ethan's eating them up. He loves science and dinosaurs, and anything informational. Today's story involved Jonathan and his class presenting science projects. One boy presented his tadpole with legs as evidence of evolution. The teacher pointed out that tadpoles becoming frogs is not the same as apes becoming humans, because tadpoles and frogs already have the same DNA, and apes and people don't.

From the back seat, Ethan says, "Mommy? In one of my science books, it shows apes turning into people, and I didn't know if that was right. It was a question to me. But now, after listening to this video, my question has been answered!" (I swear this is a word for word quote).
I said, "Oh really, Ethan, and what's the answer?"
"Apes can't turn into people!"

I'm thinking of writing to Jonathan to let them know they have a satisfied customer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Megan!

Megan celebrated her 4th birthday on Saturday. We let her open her big present the day before, as I knew it would require some assembly and that's not my forte. Also, we had gymnastics the morning of her birthday and her party in the afternoon so I knew there wouldn't be time.

Megan had just girls her age over, pretty much (they ranged in age from almost 3 to 6 1/2). They mostly just played in her room which was fine by me because, as I've mentioned before, I hate party games. The look on Megan's face when we sang happy birthday to her was priceless. It was like we were giving her the world. Unfortunately I didn't capture it on film because I was doing the one mom horse and pony show. My fault mostly, since I said to the other moms, "No, we're fine! Go, have fun!" leaving me alone to man the fort. The girls were fine, but it's hard to take pictures, put a cake in front of seven little girls while ensuring only one of them blows them out, while also trying to make the air conditioner doesn't blow them out instead.

She wanted a Care Bear party, so we did the best we could, since Care Bear party supplies don't exist in Singapore. I think we could have had all white decorations and she wouldn't have noticed. After the party I made a list of "things I'll do differently next time." Because that's the kind of person I am. But Megan had loads of fun, and that's what counts.

Megan got her wish - a big dollhouse for her birthday

Ethan and Erik put together Megan's dollhouse

Megan and her good friends

The custom ordered Care Bear cake

Everyone waits in eager anticipation

A frenzy of paper

Monday, April 17, 2006

Happy Easter!

goofing around

sweet hugs

back to the house - it's hot out here!

Megan and her good friend Faith

On the run

Megan's happy with her eggs

A successful hunt for Avery, Ethan, Avery and Megan

And they're off!

Ethan finds an egg

Friday, April 14, 2006

Adrenaline plunge

Erik returned yesterday from an eight day trip in various parts of Asia. I try to keep my expectations low when he's gone as far as what I can accomplish, but also try to fill our time with fun activities so that it passes quickly.

We were doing well, the kids and I, up until Saturday afternoon after gymnastics. It was then that we hit some sort of mental and physical road block, as I'm used to Erik taking the kids Saturday afternoon. To make it worse, all three of us became sick, me most of all. This continued through Sunday (keeping us from church). The bummer when we're all sick is that no one can take the kids while I rest, but God was so gracious - the kids played really well together, with only a minimum number of "What can we do now mommy?" questions.

After the weekend I felt better, and I was amazed at how it seemed like my energy level was great, and the kids were behaving really well despite Erik's absence. All was well until Erik returned yesterday at 4:30. Then I plunged.

I often forget, but this tends to happen whenever he's gone. I subconsciously am driven by adrenaline, managing to function on less sleep and less free time. But once he's back, my body knows it can relax, and I plunge into this "leave me . . . alone . . . must sleep . . . " kind of zombie state. The morning after, I'm still quite sluggish. I'd like nothing more than to go back to sleep. Thoughts of homeschool, or making Good Friday some kind of spiritually memorable day are pushed way to the back of my mind.

So I think maybe my kids will watch It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown while I go back to bed. Later, when I've pulled my body together and possibly propped it up with some caffiene, I'll be able to get ready for our little girl's 4th birthday tomorrow. Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, April 10, 2006

On Being a "Perfect" Mom

"The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one."
- Jill Churchill, Grime and Punishment

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Blessing and a Curse

Ethan will religiously follow any doctor's orders. When the doctor told him not to eat grapes or oranges during a cold, you'd better believe he was asking me to take the grapes out of the chicken salad.

So it was no surprise to me that when our dentist told Ethan to brush his teeth for two minutes, twice a day, he began a military level practice. We thought it was great at first that he even wanted a timer so he could see how long two minutes was, but now it has reached the point of obsession compulsion. He cannot brush his teeth without the timer. When we went to stay at a friend's house last Friday night, we had to bring the timer with us. If we start the timer before he is ready, he freaks out. If Megan continues to brush her teeth after the timer is done, he gets upset. It's all a little too much, but at least he's got better habits!

Next time, I'm asking the dentist to tell Ethan to stop sucking his thumb.