Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Search Continues

It has been a week since I lost my wedding rings. I have shed many tears,  gotten very little sleep and been able to think of little else. Kris has been through the dumpsters in our alley . . . . twice. We have moved furniture and searched the house over.

My rings mean so much to me. Of course they remind me of my promise to Kris, but they also hold some precious memories.

The engagement ring rode around in Kris's truck for over a week until he finally mustered up enough nerve to pop the question. When he did, I screamed and he asked "Is that a yes?'

Two days before the wedding, Kris stopped by the church where my sister and I were decorating. He took me by the hand and led me into the kitchen beside the fellowship hall. He looked into my eyes and asked me if I would run away with him that afternoon and elope. "I would marry you today if you would let me," he said and I believed him. He had the wedding band in his pocket, just in case I said "yes".  But I had a fluffy white dress and bridesmaids and hundreds of roses and a five-tiered cake and a violinist . . . . I made him wait two more days.

I don't have a picture of my ring. At the wedding reception, my blood sugar plummeted and I started to feel faint. I have to eat 9 small meals a day to keep everything balanced and I had only eaten twice on my wedding day. The photographer was about to take a photo of our rings and noticed my hands trembling. She asked if I was OK and I said "no". Kris grabbed a piece of cake and I gobbled it down. By the time I was finished eating, I was feeling better, the band was rocking, and we had all forgotten about the ring picture.

When I was expecting Zack, I was prepared to wear my rings on a chain when my hands started to swell. But, my hands didn't swell. I lost 14 pounds while pregnant. My rings were too big.

I lost my rings once before, when Bailey was 2 years old. She liked to wear them and would put them on whenever she found them in my little glass ring cup on the dresser. I found them a few days later in my purse. I have no proof, but I am certain the culprit was a little black-haired toddler. (She is 9 years old now and still likes to try them on.)

I was upset when 3 years ago, the nurse made me take my rings off before I had gallbladder surgery. They have been such a source of comfort to me and I didn't want to be without them during surgery. She let me keep my rainbow-striped, good luck socks, but made me take off my rings. It just didn't seem right. I would have much rather taken off my socks.

Kris holds my hand and kisses my ring. It's just a silly little ritual, but it hurts that it has been an entire week since he has kissed my ring. My hand feels lighter and I hate to say that I am starting to get used to the way it feels without my ring. Today, I slipped on my grandmother's ring, just to have something to wear on my left ring finger. I don't want to get used to my rings being gone. I keep telling myself I am only wearing my grandmother's ring until I find my own.

I am determined to find them, so fighting back tears, the search continues.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Homeschool 2012-2013

Summer is not quiet over for us yet. While most families are scrambling to get all of the "back-to-school" goodies and trying to squeeze out the last few days of summer, our summer is still going strong. One of the advantages of homeschooling is that we get to set our own school calendar. So, we won't start back until September.

This doesn't mean I will be spending my days laying by the pool. Most homeschool moms spend a large majority of the summer planning the next school year.

As I have looked back over the past year and made plans for the future, two words have been consistently brought to mind: simplicity and balance.

We are cutting back on outside activities and I have re-arranged my violin teaching schedule to accommodate my family's needs. One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool was that I loved the idea of spending long days, teaching my children and enjoying their company. As another mom once said, "It's hard to homeschool when you are never home!" I am being very stingy with our homeschool time. I am making "home time" a priority.

Another change headed our way is the opportunity to travel more. If all goes as planned, we will be taking school on the road every once in a while. Our family loves to travel and this is a welcome opportunity. Having school in the mountains is a dream, especially when it comes to nature study!

Probably the biggest change for me, though, is going to be incorporating technology into our curriculum. Augh! Screens give me a headache. I would much rather read a book while sitting under a tree than to be trapped inside, glued to a screen. I am both dreading and looking forward to teaching the kids how to use our new tablet. I am truly not sure how I feel about this, but I will let you know if we love it or if we decide to sell it cheap on eBay.

One of the things I LOVE about homeschool is the ability to design our own course of study and cater it to the needs and interests of our children. I also love the fact that once we breeze through the basics each day, we can study the "fun stuff".

Each day, we will use Bob Jones curriculum for reading, English, science, and history. We will use Spelling Power and Math U See.

Then, we get to sit back and relax while we make our way through Geography Through Art, The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Let's Meet Famous Artists, Teaching Character Through Literature, Meet the Great Composers, Prima Latina, Then Sings My Soul: Favorite Hymn Stories, Inspiration Station Art, and The Ultimate Homeschool Physical education Game Book. Bailey will be doing a unit study on the American Girls Collection and Zack will be working on a unit study about inventors and their inventions. Nature Journals are our constant companion . I will mention it here, but Nature Study has become a way of life, not necessarily a school subject. It's just something we do everyday.

Another very important part of our children's education is "Grandparent Time." We are blessed to have my parents living just a few miles away. Weekly visits with  the grandparents are an invaluable opportunity for education and something Bailey and Zack look forward to! Pa Pa teaches them about gardening, woodworking, dominoes, and checkers. Nanny teaches them music and baking. Bailey and Zack learn so much from their grandparents about respect and having a Godly world view. They have also learned how to tie a string around a locust, how to shoot a BB gun, and the best way to catch a catfish. They have even learned to speak "Okie".

We are cutting back on a few outside activities, but we are still going to continue music lessons, and couple of "social clubs". Oh, and don't forget 4 trips to the ice rink each week for figure skating and hockey! I know it sounds like a lot, but this is actually a slower schedule for our family. Several of these activities over-lap, so the time commitment is not as great as it first appears.

So, there you have it - a nice, simple, balanced homeschool year in the plan book. Now, I'm off to pack for a couple of weeks in the mountains. We still have an entire month of summer!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Walking Blind

One Friday afternoon, few years ago, we were driving home from violin lesson when Bailey said, "Mama, I have a funny feeling in my tummy."

"Are you sick?" I asked.

"No", she said, "I just having a funny feeling about something. . . . . . how did I get here? I mean, you adopted me from Korea, but how was I born? Zacky came from your tummy, but where did I come from?"

Why are the BIG questions always asked in heavy traffic?

You see, we hadn't told Bailey about her birthmom. We had talked about Korea, the "Babies Home", her foster mother, the airplane, the paperwork, the attorney, the judge, citizenship, the baby shower - all of the "easy" things about adoption. We had answered all of her questions honestly, but for some reason, the subject of a birthmom had never come up. It didn't come up until that day, driving down Hillside in heavy traffic.

Deep down inside I wanted to say, "Let's wait until Daddy gets home from work and we'll sit down and talk about it." But I didn't. I didn't want this to be uncomfortable. I didn't want it to seem like a big secret or a difficult subject, so I just blurted out "You came from another lady's tummy. She loved you very much and wanted you to have a family. She wasn't able to take care of you and she wanted you to have a good life. So, after you were born, she found some people who helped her find us. We needed a baby and you needed a Mommy and Daddy, so God put us together."

When we got home, I let her and Zack rummage through her "baby box" that is kept in my closet. We had looked through it before many times, but it meant more to her this time. She looked at her passport, pictures of her foster mother, the clothes she was wearing on the airplane. . . . then Zack jumped up and ran out of the room. "I can't talk about this anymore!"

"Why mom?" He asked in tears. "Why didn't that lady keep her? It makes me sad."

We've talked to Bailey about adoption her entire life. We've tried to answer questions honestly. We haven't brought up issues that we felt were not age appropriate. We've read books about adoption and celebrated her Korean heritage. I thought I had done everything "right". I have always been so sensitive to Bailey's thoughts and emotions concerning adoption, but I never even considered what Zack was thinking or feeling. Zack was really troubled. I never dreamed he would react this way.

"I just don't know what I would do if you didn't want me when I came out of your tummy,"  he sobbed, "Poor Bailey." We tried to reassure him that it wasn't that she didn't want Bailey. She just couldn't take care of her.

Wow. I was NOT ready for all of this. Things finally "settled down" after a couple of weeks and I thought we had made it through a rough patch.

Until last night.

Bailey brought me a picture she had drawn of a smiling lady holding a baby. "My birthmom," she said in a monotone voice, "and me." Then she turned and left the room. I slipped into her room and asked her if she wanted to talk. "Yes," she said, "I want to talk about my dollhouse."

So, we talked about her dollhouse. We talked about the furniture, the dolls who live there, the next "home improvement project" she would like Pa Pa to start working on. We talked for a long time. I guess I was waiting for her to bring up her adoption, but she didn't. She just wanted to talk about her dollhouse.

I don't want either of my children to hurt. I want them to both see the side of adoption that is wonderful and beautiful. I don't want them to see the other side - the side that can cause sadness and confusion. I just want them to feel loved, accepted, treasured, and happy.

Bailey and I have a special bond. From the moment my big brown eyes met her tiny little black ones, we have been linked together. There is a quiet comfort when we are together. We belong together.  I will never see adoption as anything but a miracle. My daughter may have been born half a world away, but the love I have for her is as deep as any mother's love. I could go on and on, trying to explain the love I have for my little Korean angel, but it all boils down to one thing : She is my daughter. It is as simple as that.

A while back, after a fun day together, she said, "You're the best, Mom. I'm so glad I came here because, you know, when you're adopted from Korea, you just never know WHAT kind of mom you're gonna get!"

Being a mom the hardest, happiest thing in my world. I am trying to just take things a day at a time, answering questions gently and honestly. I am trying to keep my emotions at bay. There are times I am panicking on the inside and acting casual on the outside. There have been times I have poured out my heart to God, asking for wisdom and there have been times when I have sent up a quick "help me say the right thing" prayer.

Trust me, I have read all the books, but I still feel like I am walking blind through a forest. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, hoping I don't bump into a tree or trip on a fallen log.

Kris walked into the house one day after a long day at work and Bailey said "Hey Dad, I know I came out of another lady's tummy, but how did I get in there in the first place?"


Kris said "Hmmm. That's a good question". She turned and hopped out of the room.

Whew! That was a close one!

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Husband Thinks I am Pretty

I found a note one morning, a couple of weeks ago, stuck to my bathroom mirror. It was from my husband. It said, "You are beautiful. I love you."

It's funny, when you think about it. It was just a little note on a heart-shaped piece of paper, stuck to the bathroom mirror. It's funny, how something so simple could mean so much.

My husband thinks I am pretty.

He is the first one to tell me I look nice. He tells me he likes my hair, my new outfit.

Even on days I pull my hair into a messy ponytail and wear my jeans and flip flops, he tells me I am pretty.

Sometimes I laugh. I think it is absurd. I look in the mirror and see a tired, frazzled, frumpy, highly imperfect person and yet my husband thinks I am pretty. How can that be?

I have quit trying to figure it out. I have quit accusing him of being dishonest. I just relish in the fact that my husband thinks I am pretty.

There is an incredible security in that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I wanted her to enjoy VBS.

I wanted her to make crafts, eat cookies, play games, make friends.

She wanted the same thing, I think.

But it was too much to handle and Tuesday evening, we got a call from the church.

She was crying. They didn't know why. She wanted to come home.

We rushed to get her.

She said she was thirsty, there were too many people, it was too loud.

I wanted her to have a great week.

I wanted her to make good memories.

I wanted her to enjoy VBS.

It's just a little thing. It is mild, in comparison.

We could be dealing with much worse.

But it still makes this mama's heart sad, somtimes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Books: Where We Go, What We Do Part 5

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Dr. Seuss

Bailey had a check-up today. The doctor went through his list of questions -

"How is she doing in school?"
"Does she eat plenty of vevatables?"
"Does she get at lest 8 hours of sleep a night?"
"What are her hobbies?"

I rattled off answers and everything was status quo until he asked, "On average, how many hours of TV does she watch in a day?"
"Less than an hour." I honestly answered.
He looked at me over his glasses.
"On average, yes."
I'm not sure he believed me, but I answered honestly.

Bailey and Zack watch very little TV. They spend much more time reading books than watching TV. Out of curiosity, I timed Zack one day last week. He sat and read a book for 1 hour and 45 minutes before he decided to go outside to play. Later, he came back in and read more. He didn't watch TV at all that day.

I started reading to Bailey and Zack when they were infants. We had Bailey for less than 24 hours when I cuddled up on the hotel bed and read "Goodnight Moon" to her for the first time. Zack learned to read at the age of 3. Reading is part of who they are.

We have a wall of bookshleves in our school room. When the house is quiet, I can usally find one of them curled up on a beanbag chair in front of those shelves, reading.

We make frequent trips to the library. Bailey and Zack have their own library cards, which are treasures. This increases the number of books we can check out and they feel very grown-up, going to the counter with their stack of books and checking them out with their very own library cards! We go to the library at least once a week and come home with stacks and stacks of new books to read. It is pure joy!

When Zacky was 6 years old, he saw Kris sitting with a book. "What are you doing, Daddy?"


"No you're not. You're not saying anything."

Zack was used to be read to by Dad. He couldn't figure out how Dad could read without reading out loud!

Kris reads to the kids every night. I read to them every morning. In between times they read to themselves or even to each other! This morning, they were sitting on the couch. Zack was listening as Bailey read him a book.

We are a reading family!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nature: Where We Go, What We Do Part 4

We sit in the mud ..... and reach for the stars.
Ivan Turgenev

We are outdoor-sy people. Like everyone else, I enjoy a nice restaurant and hotel, but I also love sleeping in a tent and cooking over a fire. I know not every one enjoys these things and that's OK. To each his own. But I do think nature is an important part of children's lives. I've posted about this before, so I will stay off my soapbox for now.

Kris and I have always loved camping and hiking. The rougher, the farther away from civilization, the better. One of our favorite camping spots is an hour away from pavement and 2 hours away from the nearest little town. It is paradise. 

When we had children, though, we started camping and hiking in "tamer" areas that are closer to civilization. We learned it doesn't have to be so extreme to be fun! (It is funny, though, that our closest run-in with a bear was in one of these "tamer" areas. A large black bear crept within 3 feet of a sleeping Zacky. Kris quickly scared the bear away, but my heart has still not completely recovered from that incident!) 

We have gone tent camping, hiking, fishing, jeeping, and gold-panning. I think we have successfully instilled a love of nature in our children. A few months ago, we made a trip to Dallas. We visited Lego Land, The American Girl Store, The Rain Forest Cafe, The Sea Life Aquarium, The Science and Natural History Museum, ice skated at the Galleria, shopped at the Lego Store, toured the Texas Motor Speedway . . . . .  The kids had a blast, but on the way home I overheard a conversation that included the statement: Dallas was fun, but the mountains are better.

Camping is such an amazing family adventure, but if staying overnight in a tent is intimidating, then take your children on a hike. It's a great way to enjoy the outdoors and you can sleep in a real bed when the day is done! Our first family hike, we "wore" Bailey and Zack in baby backpacks. They had so much fun, grasping at leaves as we hiked by trees. Thankfully, they are now able to walk on their own and enjoy longer hikes. Zack calls it "adventuring" and I can't think of a better name for it.

Time is a huge factor when it comes to camping and hiking. If you do not have an entire day to devote to nature, then it is time to figure out ways to enjoy the great outdoors in your own area and even your own backyard.

As I have said before, our backyard is tiny. But we are making the most of it with a small vegetable patch, butterfly garden, bird feeders, tree house, rock garden, and dirt box. We also have logs and stumps scattered around for climbing and a water barrel just for fun.

We go on family bike rides in the mornings or evenings and play basketball on the driveway. Sidewalk chalk is another necessity at our house as well as water balloons and bubbles. Nature Scavenger Hunts are fun, too. We have a handy dandy bandanna version called "Nature Quest".

Our children keep nature journals. This is another excellent way to enjoy nature! We grab our journals, a nice quilt, some colored pencils, binoculars, a magnifying glass, and nature guidebooks and we are set for a fantastic afternoon of nature! I keep these things together in a big bag, so when the mood strikes, we do not have to waste time gathering our supplies. Sometimes we take our nature bag and go exploring. Other times, we just sit in our front yard. There is something special about sitting on my grandmothers quilt, sketching blue jays with my children.

Never underestimate the joy of being outdoors after dark! Flashlights, a small telescope, and star guides are in our arsenal of nature tools. We also have a fire pit and keep marshmallows on hand for impromptu "campfires" in the front yard.

I am always scouring book stores for nature guides. I want my children to enjoy nature and also become knowledgeable about plants and wildlife. We enjoy basic guide books and we also love The Bumper Book of Nature: A Users Guide to the Great Outdoors. It is one of my favorite books of all time! It is a basic "how-to" guide for enjoying nature with children. It includes instructions for outdoor activities year-round.  The Dangerous Book for Boys  has directions for several nature activities, as well. If you are feeling adventurous, then you need to read Extreme Kids. It covers everything from kite boarding to rock climbing!

Mark Jenkins, columnist for Outside magazine said, "You want your kids to have character, confidence, and courage, then banish Xbox, Nintendo, and Game Boy and take them on an adventure!"

I couldn't agree more.