Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I Love Classical Conversations

I never got around to Day 5 last week in my survey of a week in our homeschooling life. Last Wednesday was day 5. Wednesdays are Classical Conversations (CC) days at our house. School is fairly simple on those days. We go to class. The kids have rest time/book time in the afternoon after class, but that's about it. We drive an hour to our class, so we leave around 7:30 a.m. and get home around 2:30 p.m. It takes up most of our day, and we love it.

I didn't always love it. 

I questioned whether the drive was worth it. The relationships were slow and hard to build with the distance. The memory work was hard at the beginning. While I would wholeheartedly agree that the program was good, I wondered for most of the year if it was really something that we would want to invest in long-term.

And then February came.

In February, a few things happened that changed (forever) how we feel about CC. I was asked to tutor the 4 and 5 year olds for the final 6 weeks of the year, and Hunter and I decided to pursue "Memory Masters."

I have loved tutoring and would highly recommend it for any parents who have children in the class who have a little extra time and energy to give to tutoring. It's not too much extra time or else I would never be able to do it. I have loved how tutoring has forced me to engage in the material my kids are learning so much more. It makes me a better educator at home for them and fuels my own passion for learning (which is not always an extremely strong flame if I'm being honest).

Let me explain a little about Memory Masters. It's an honor given to any CC student who can "master" all of the year's memory work. The memory work covers the following:

  • 161 events and people in a chronological timeline from creation to the present
  • 44 U.S. presidents
  • 24 history sentences that add depth to the timeline
  • 120 locations and geographic features in Africa, Europe, and the "Old World"
  • 24 science facts (including classifications of living things and each continent's highest mountain)
  • 5 Latin noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
  • English grammar facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs)
  • Multiplication tables up to 15x15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

Hunter has to be "proofed" on the work 4 different times by four different people. Each "proof" requires a higher level of mastery. Once he passes proof four, he earns the honor of "Memory Master." I don't even know if there is an award to go with it, but it has been neat to see him commit to this goal and pursue it.

Did I mention Millie (age 5) has learned all of this too? It's taught in all classes from age 4 - 6th grade. She isn't going for Memory Master this year. We are doing our own little version she calls "Mommy Master" where she will recite portions of the memory work for me and receive her own little honor.

Tonight Hunter passed his first proof with flying colors. He only missed one thing. One. He's allowed to miss three per subject in Round One. He missed one thing overall while skip counting the 14s. I was really proud of him.

Now for the obvious question: So what?

One of the criticisms of a program like CC is whether or not all of this memory work is truly beneficial to a 4 year old or an 8 year old or even an 11 year old. I have wondered that myself sometimes. Let me share how we have seen immediate benefits this year. As the year has gone on, I actually feel like I see real life benefits almost daily.

Take today for example...

Today Hunter and I went downstairs to do his math lesson. It was a lesson on multiplying using the expanded form of a number (e.g. 4 x 604 = 4 x (600 + 4) = 4x600 + 4x4). Once I looked through the lesson a little, I realized that he was applying the distributive law. How do I know about the distributive law? It is not because I am an algebraic wizard. It's because week 23 of CC memory work introduces the distributive law. And, finally, I see it all play out in real life. They learn "a(b+c) = ab + ac" by rote memory. Then, when it intersects with real life, as it did today in Hunter's math lesson, he has some small framework and familiarity to tackle this new math concept.

Multiplication has been a breeze this spring...because he spent the fall learning to skip count the 1s through the 15s (up to multiples of 12).

History was a blast this morning, as their eyes lit up to hear more about the Magna Carta which appears in the Middle Ages portion of their history timeline. They just pulled that familiar name off the mental "peg" they hung it on when they memorized it, and enjoyed learning more about it.

Classical Conversations has offered us more than the memory work. Through the program the kids have been exposed to drawing techniques, introductory music theory and tin whistle, 6 great artists and related projects, intro. to orchestra and 3 classical composers, 12 science experiments, 12 science projects, and 24 oral presentations. Their experiences in the class have given so much that I would just never get around to offering at home.

We'll just say at this point that I am a big fan.

By the way, you don't have to tutor or go for Memory Masters to get all that CC has to offer. Those have just been two of the vehicles the Lord has used this year to propel us into a greater love and commitment to the program and the learning process there.

So that was our Wednesday last week. I encourage anyone who is considering a classical model of education to check out Classical Conversations in your area. We love it.

Next time you see Millie, ask her to tell you about Confucius or the liberation of South America. Ask Hunter to list the presidents (one of his personal favorites) or tell you the associative law of algebra. We all love learning more than ever, and I attribute a lot of that to our involvement in Classical Conversations.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Week in our Homeschooling - Day 4: Tuesday

Tuesdays - The day my house goes kaput. I lead a Bible Study at our church, so we are out of the house from 9:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Tomorrow is Classical Conversations. Since I am now serving as a tutor for the 4-5 year old class, I spend much of Tuesday preparing the material for tomorrow...AND there's school for my own kids. So Tuesdays are normally the days when my home takes a turn for the worse. I am trying to be better about not letting a total explosion happen, but I just don't keep up with it well on Tuesdays. It's usually the day Donny comes home to a sink full of dishes and toys everywhere. I try not to be a total frazzle-dazzle...but it's Tuesday, and he understands.

5:35 a.m. Millie comes in our room saying she can't go back to sleep. I send her back anyway.
6:45 a.m. Awake and sipping coffee with my devotional by 7:00 a.m.
7:15 a.m. Millie comes back down and shows me what she has been working on upstairs:

Sweet her (and a sweet reminder for me as a new day is beginning). God iz with us.

Millie tells me she can't find her notebook. I go upstairs and find it (right where I left it for her on the end of her bed) and brought it down for her to work through the 2 worksheets.

8:00 a.m. Cereal for all

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. After breakfast Will played, and Hunter, Millie and I did grammar. Then Hunter and I did his spelling test. I turned on Sesame Street for Will at 9:00 a.m., and Millie and I did reading. Then Hunter and I went downstairs to tackle one part of his math lesson.
9:30 a.m. - We begin to pull things together for Bible Study at the church, and we leave around 9:45 a.m.
Listen to CC memory work CDs on the way
10:15 - 11:45 - Bible Study at church, and the kids play in the nursery. I used to have the kids bring their notebooks and do some work there, but they have become committed to doing all of their work beforehand so that they can play at church.

12:15 p.m. Home and lunch

After lunch, I sent Hunter down to the school room to go through all of his multiplication fact cards and then take a timed test on it. It was the first time he was timed on 100 random multiplication facts. He had 4 minutes. Our goal is to get 75 out of the 100 in 4 minutes. He got 69. Not too shabby for a first try. I was really excited with that result, because the corresponding addition sheet of 100 facts took much longer to get to 75. Looks like he'll meet that goal much more quickly.

While Hunter was doing his math facts, Will played in the kitchen sink with water and bowls, and Millie and I tackled her math lesson at the dining room table. It was a delicate dance with one downstairs, one in the kitchen, and one at the dining room table (with no open floor plan). I could have waited to tackle math until Will's nap, but I really wanted to get it done, so we went for it...and it went pretty well. I lost my cool once (beginning ruler skills with Millie), but we persevered and finished in one piece. :) 

1:30 p.m. Will went down for an afternoon nap.
2:00 - Hunter, Millie and I read more from our history lesson on the crusades.
2:30 - The kids played freely, and I put some time into preparing for my class for Classical Conversations on Wednesday. It usually takes about 2-3 hours of preparation to get ready for the class.
3:00 p.m. All the kids are occupied, I grab a bite of lunch and turn on the Celebrity Apprentice. Now it's 3:21 p.m., and I know I need to prepare more for CC.

During the late afternoon and evening, I finish my prep. work for CC and help the kids prepare their presentations for their class. Millie is reciting the words of the Doxology to her class, and Hunter is telling his class 3 of his history sentences from his CC memory work. They prepare a 1-3 minute presentation every week for their class on a variety of given topics.

7:30 p.m. Early to bed for the kids, because we will be early to rise for CC tomorrow.
Good night!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Week in Our Homeschooling: Day 3 - Monday

I am sitting down to type this at the end of a long day where I am asked to give my late afternoon/early evening/date night for the church...which is simultaneously an honor and a little sad for this mama's/wife's heart. To be with people in crisis - it is the honor and work of a pastor. It is also the sacrifice of his wife and family. Living in that place tonight. I am neither trying to exalt us or play the's just part of my day, so I thought I would share where I am at the end of my Monday.

There is a bright side. Donny is on his way home with Outback...including a bloomin' onion (Thanks, Ryan Newman for your top ten finish yesterday). I am thankful for a husband who is committed to his church but is also committed to his wife and is willing to stop for a nice "stay date" dinner for us. He must be so tired. Did I mention it's snowing, and he's driving home at that dangerous point when they haven't cleared the roads yet? BUT...there's a bloomin' onion coming. Love him.

So...back to my day.

6:45 a.m. Woke up, poured my coffee into my Dunkin Donuts styrofoam cup that I got over the weekend and washed...because I discovered that I really like drinking my coffee from a styrofoam cup. I read my devotion and also read/prepared for my Bible Study that I lead with some women from the church on Tuesday mornings. Tomorrow is our last day of our year-long study on prayer. Prayers of the Bible by Susan Hunt. Great in a group or on your own. I have really enjoyed it.

7:30 a.m. Millie came down, showed me the newest fashion for her stuffed bear, and told me she couldn't find her notebook. I went upstairs to find it had fallen off the end of her bed. She only had one easy worksheet and a new calendar to fill out for March, so she sat in my blue chair downstairs and did it while I did a few things on the computer.

8:00 a.m. Oatmeal on its way, Will gets up, and I call Hunter for breakfast. Hunter comes down on the verge of tears. He told me he woke up and felt tired, so he only got his meeting strip and math worksheet done. He still had quite a bit of memory work to review. He looked a little pale and felt a little warm. No temperature, but he went back upstairs to "rest" (also known as laying in bed reading Calvin and Hobbes). Millie, Will, Donny and I enjoyed breakfast together. Since I wasn't going to be hitting the ground running with school with Hunter feeling ill, Donny and I got a few minutes to talk. That was nice.

By 9:00, Donny was off to work, and Hunter came down for some toast. It was hard to tell the severity of his sickness. Gonna need patience and discernment all day.

Confession: It's 7:19 a.m. on Tuesday morning. I didn't get quite get this finished yesterday, so we'll see how much I remember.

While Hunter, Millie, and Will ate toast, I read more from Ruth and prayed for our day.

At 9:30 I turned Elmo on for Will, and Hunter, Millie and I sat at the dining room table for grammar. I could tell it was pushing Hunter a little too much to be sitting up for so long (Bible and then grammar), so he went to sit in the den with Will. Millie and I then did reading and her spelling bee.

10:00 a.m. - My school morning moved in here:

Hunter felt most comfortable sitting/laying down, and Millie built a fort right next to us. Thankfully, Will and Millie played happily in the fort while I sat on the little green stool next to Hunter and went through math and memory work with him. 

11:00 a.m. - I took Will up to his room for pack n play time and a snack. Hunter, Millie and I grabbed a snack as well and went back into the den to read our history lesson on the Crusades. I left Hunter with a math worksheet on subtraction. It was supposed to be a timed test, but it was clear that Hunter wasn't going to be doing anything very quickly today, so I just let him work through the facts (there were 100 of them) on his own pace. This is one of those times when I am thankful my math curriculum is so repetitive, because I know that this timed test on subtraction will appear again (and again) in the next week or two. 

Millie and I headed downstairs to the school room to do her math lesson on tallying and counting by 5s. She also had an oral assessment on counting pennies and dimes and telling me the days of the week. The lesson today proves again why I love Classical Conversations. She learned to skip count the 5s earlier in the year, so the lesson was a breeze, because she was already so confident with what was being introduced. 

At 12:00 we headed upstairs for lunch. The lunch hour is a blur. 

At 1:30 I took Will up for his nap, gave Hunter his spelling test, and finished quizzing him on his memory work. Doing the spelling may have been too much for him, but oh well. We survived. 

Today was one of those days when I wanted to quiz him through all of his memory work with CC. He has seven subjects of memory work:
  • Math
  • Geography
  • History
  • English Grammar
  • Latin
  • History Timeline
  • Science

He has 24 weeks of memory work in each subject. It takes a while to get through (like 1 1/2 to 2 hours), but  he is doing great. He is going for "Memory Masters" where he has to recite every single piece of it. The first round starts this week, and he is allowed to miss 3 per subject in round one. Once he gets to round 2 he can only miss one per subject. By Round 4 he can't miss anything. Today he did great. He made the goal of less than 3 mistakes in all subjects except history, so I put history flash cards in his folder for tomorrow's notebook work. It's a lot of hard work for my eight year old, but it's fun seeing all of this information become second nature to him. 

2:45 - Book time for the big kids - I took a shower, grabbed some lunch, and I really can't remember what else I did. 

I guess the biggest lesson from my day was to be flexible when the moving parts of children and homeschooling change. Being willing to do school on the couch and do almost everything orally still allowed Hunter to do what he could without pushing him too hard. It's really one of the reasons I love homeschooling. We can tailor our days to fit the needs of our family. While it required patience and flexibility on my part (which is hard sometimes), it also was nice to feel like we were a little more relaxed just sitting around learning together.

Ok (since it's Tuesday morning at 7:48 a.m.), time to start Day 4!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Week in Our Homeschooling: Day Two - Friday

I. am. tired. Really, really tired. This is why:

This little buddy took a tumble from concrete stairs outside yesterday and has a pretty big knot on the back of his head and a pretty big scrape and bruise on his cheek. This is in addition to the large scratch he got on his chin on Tuesday courtesy of an unruly toddler in the YMCA childcare. My little guy was waking up a lot last night, so Donny and I decided to put him in the bed with us last night. For the whole night. In my 8 1/2 years of parenting, I have never had one of my children spend an entire night in our bed. Will has always been the one to bust my "nevers" of parenting. Way to go, buddy.

Anyway, this pic was taken at 1:30 this afternoon as I put him down for his nap. Last night, however, the only comfy place was in Mommy's arms. It wasn't too bad. There were parts of it that were really sweet...but I am tired.

I was thankful this morning that we did not have a ton to accomplish for school. I front-load my school week, so we do a lot on Mondays, and we actually do a lot on Thursdays. Wednesdays are our Classical Conversations class, and Tuesdays are always weird, because I lead a small group with our church on Tuesday mornings. By Fridays we usually just have to do reading and math with Millie and math and spelling with Hunter. No history or grammar on Fridays. Donny is also usually off on Fridays, so I try to leave time open to spend with him as well.

So here's how the day has gone...

7:00 a.m. - Coffee, devotion, Millie came down, and I helped her with Math assignment in her notebook.  Will woke up around 7:30, so he and Donny were up to start the day with us as well.

8:00 - I headed to CVS and the A&P to get a few things and snag a few Easter deals before Donny left later in the morning for a quick trip to Atlanta. Donny kindly stayed home and did breakfast for the kids.

9:00 - Once I got home from my errands, Millie, Will and Hunter and I gathered around the dining room table. I gave Millie her math assessment and quizzed her on some counting, Will played with pattern blocks, and I also gave Hunter his spelling test. I love it when they are all three around the table working.

9:30 - Millie read "My Pet Fred" to me from our A Beka kindergarten readers, and I gave her a spelling bee from the words in the book (Donny joined us for that.).

10:00 - Hunter and I went downstairs to the schoolroom for math. Thankfully it was a pretty easy lesson on finding the area of a rectangle. One more reason why I love Classical Conversations: Hunter had already learned in his memory work that the area of a rectangle equals length times width. This morning's lesson was fun because I was able to take that memory work and explain it more fully and see his understanding grow. He also beat a record on his timed subtraction test, so it was a good math day for him. Millie and Will watched a Leapfrog phonics video while Hunter and I did math. I also spent some time looking over next week's math while Hunter was doing some of his math. In an ideal world I will get their notebooks filled over the weekend so they will be ready first thing Monday morning.

10:30 - Hunter met Donny in our blue chairs (where Donny and I read/study) in the living room to review CC memory work. Donny quizzed him on a little bit of most of his subjects. Will got a snack and went into pack and play time, Millie played freely, and I typed bullet points about my morning so that I wouldn't forget.

11:30 - Donny left for the airport (sniff, sniff).

12:15 p.m. - I had plans to take the kids to the gym and the library after Donny's departure and before Will's nap. Between our slowness to get lunch and put shoes on, Will's runny nose, and the underlying fear that Will's face might undergo some other form of disfigurement, we only made it to the library. Hunter and Millie looked freely for books, and then we all went in search of books on knights, castles, and the Middle Ages. We are right in the middle of that period in history right now in Story of the World, so the kids enjoyed finding some books on the subject. We also picked out a few movies to choose from tonight for pizza and a movie (a frequent Friday night tradition for us).

1:30 p.m. - Home from the library, Will is falling asleep in my arms. Thankfully he stayed asleep even though I hadn't cleaned up his toys from pack n play time. I snapped a few pictures of my poor, bruised sleeping baby and headed downstairs. I sent a few emails and didn't do much. Really, really tired at this point. I had intentions of quizzing Hunter on all of his math facts for CC. I asked him to skip count the 13s, and then I was done. I hope to do that later this afternoon...but, if I'm honest, it's doubtful. I'll actually probably have him sit down and recite his math to me at some point tomorrow. He begins his memory work testing in about a week.

2:30 p.m. - I sent the kids up for book time. Hunter is reading again today to Millie for the entire time. I ate a little lunch, turned on last night's episode of Project Runway, got bored, felt tired (again), and made my way to the computer to type this post (or I would surely make every excuse not to type tonight once the kids are asleep).

3:30 p.m. - Still typing and there is too much giggling upstairs for reading to happen. After one warning, I sent Hunter to his room (They were in Millie's room.) for them to finish book time separately. Will is still sleeping.

UPDATE: Fridays are usually pizza and a movie night. Three of the movies we picked out as options had medieval themes (albeit very loosely related). The kids are watching Mickey's The Prince and the Pauper. Very exciting to see the map of England and recognize feudalism being played out in Mickey's medieval world. Sooo...that's school too, right??? :)

So there you are. Fridays are much more relaxed. Math for both, reading for Millie, and spelling for Hunter. Usually something fun like the library or just extra hang time at the house. Book time in the afternoon...and then SATURDAY is coming!!! We all look forward to Saturdays where we can wake up and do whatever. I have big dreams of cleaning. We'll see how much actually gets done.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Week in Our Homeschooling: Day 1 - Thursday

I have had a few friends recently ask me about homeschooling and what our days look like. For them and for my role as family historian, I am going to try to document what my homeschooling week looks like. Of course, every day and every week is different in some ways depending on demands from within and without, but I thought it would be fun to record at least a snippet of this part of our lives.

First, when someone asks me what a typical day is like, my first response is this: It is somewhat organized chaos. I can't even say it is organized chaos, because my level of organization is not always the highest. I have basic things that need to be completed each day for the kids for school...and I take the opportunity to complete those things as the day allows. So there's my system (for those who like systems...although if you really like systems, mine won't be very satisfying). I thought it appropriate to start this series on a Thursday - because that seems a little random and out of order...and that's what a lot of our days feel like.

Thursday, March 14 (Pi day, which I did point out to the kids), 2013

7:00 a.m. Wake up late because daylight savings time has gifted us with extra darkness in the morning. I had a loooong day yesterday, the kids didn't need me, and I just took the freedom to sleep. Stay in my pajamas, pour a cup of coffee, head to my blue chair to read my Lent devotion for the morning.

Millie makes her way down (she's always first) to find scissors to cut out something she has created upstairs (She's really into coloring and making things these days. This morning it was a fan in the shape of a cardinal.). I asked her to bring her notebook down the next time she comes down so that I can look over her morning work and help her with the problems she couldn't read on her own.

Hunter and Millie's Notebooks

These notebooks are the single most awesome thing I have implemented this year to increase our productivity and offer more independence on school items that I don't need to oversee until they are completed. They have five dividers, one for each weekday, with pockets on both sides. In a perfect world, I fill the folders at the beginning of the week with Monday - Friday's independent work. As they finish a day's work, they move it to the back pocket of that day's divider. I then check over their work. Hunter keeps his math meeting book, daily meeting strips, Bible reading plan, and his spelling book in there as well. It makes it easy to pack up and take with us if we have to be out of the house for something, but they do their notebook work first thing before they ever come down in the morning, so they normally have it finished before we go out to do anything.

I actually used Millie's notebook for the first half of our year as a home for all of our dossier paperwork for our adoption. She just wasn't ready at the beginning of the year for that kind of independent work. I re-introduced the notebook to her a few weeks ago, and she loves it. She still has to leave some math problems blank because she can't read all the instructions on her own, but she gets quite a bit of it done herself.

This is the inside of Hunter's notebook. The left side is what he did today and put in the back of the "Thursday" divider once he finished. You can see he has a linking verb sheet and some science flash cards to work on his CC memory work. There is also a math worksheet and another CC memory work sheet behind it. On the right side is his math worksheet for tomorrow morning. I also just added some math memory work flash cards tonight before I took the notebook back up to his room.

Now back to our morning...

I have no clue what time Hunter got up, but his notebook assignment today was a math worksheet, a Classical Conversations week 21 review worksheet, learn the linking verbs for CC, and read his grammar lesson on antonyms and synonyms. He doesn't often read his grammar lesson on his own, but this one was a simple review of things we covered on Tuesday. I had a full day ahead, so I assigned him to read it on his own. We talked about the lesson briefly during breakfast, and he showed that he understood the concepts. Check! It's great when they can teach themselves some things.

8:00 ish - Millie comes back down with her notebook, and we go over the math problems she couldn't read.
I also asked Donny to help her with her coat of arms that she drew/colored on Tuesday. He helped her put it on cardboard and make it into a shield.

8:15 a.m. - I finally get off the computer (which I had moved to after finishing my devotion) and move toward making breakfast. Oatmeal. We make breakfast and sit down to eat around 8:45. Not sure what I did between 8:15 and 8:45 since oatmeal only takes about 10-15 minutes to make. I think I talked with Donny for a bit. That was nice.

8:45 a.m. Hunter, Millie and I sat down for breakfast. We read from Ruth together. The first half of chapter one. I don't have a Bible plan for them right now, but I usually read something straight from scripture during breakfast, and we talk about it and pray for our day. I go in and out of having the Bible reading planned. Sometimes I just pick whatever Psalm or Proverb corresponds to the date. I went with Ruth today, because I had just read yesterday about Ruth from a book on adoption by Mike Milton, so that was fresh on my mind. We then reviewed grammar and linking verbs from Hunter's notebook (see above)

9:10 - I guess I should get Will up. He has had a runny nose and didn't sleep well yesterday, so I thought he was making up for lost sleep. When I got to his room he was sitting up, leaning against the rail of his crib. Not sure how long he had been up or if he had cried out and maybe I didn't hear him. He didn't seemed too scarred, so we moved on. While I got Will up and changed, I asked Hunter and Millie to change into clothes for the day. I'm still in my pajamas...which are a t-shirt and pajama it's a little like clothes. Just a little.

9:30 ish - Will gets breakfast, and while he eats I give Hunter his spelling test at the dining room table. After his spelling test, Hunter gets a few balls out and begins bouncing them around in the dining room. Will joins in, so I ask Hunter if he would play with Will while I did reading with Millie. See? The moment offered a natural time for Hunter and Will to play together, so I took it as an opportunity to get some time with Millie. Millie asked to stand for reading today (random, but she had made a paper kite and wanted to let it "fly"), so I took her in the kitchen to set her book on the counter to stand while we read together. That didn't last long. We both hopped up on the kitchen counter, and she read "At the Beach" to me - a phonics reader from A Beka that is part of a series I started with her this week. I then had her stand on the floor, and I gave her a spelling bee from the words in the book she had just read. Sometime in here Will and I had a little heart to heart about obeying/disobeying, so a little loving discipline got intermingled somewhere between reading and math. :)

10ish - Will and Hunter were still going strong, so I decided to get Millie's math lesson done as well. I grabbed a few supplies from the school room in the basement. At this point, Will became interested in what we were doing, so I put him in a high chair and gave him the same pattern blocks we were using for Millie's lesson. I was actually pretty amazed with some of the patterns he made and how high he could stack them without falling. That was a first for him to play with those pattern blocks for as long as he did. Millie and I did her lesson and also did some "math meeting" questions that related to the calendar and counting. I love that Millie is now doing her own morning notebook work, because it means that she has already done all of the written work she needs to do for math which makes the lesson she and I do together more enjoyable. The math curriculum we use (Saxon) is pretty involved and repetitive. It's nice to split up the written and oral work into two different parts of our day. While Will built blocks and Millie worked on math, I quizzed Hunter on his CC timeline while he still was practicing his baseball skills in the den.

Somewhere in here I put on yoga pants instead of pajama pants...but that's the only upgrade so far in my wardrobe since I was already wearing the t-shirt I slept in.

10:30 ish - Millie moves into the den where I set her up with an assignment on, a reading web site I began to use for her to encourage reading. I sat with her while she read an online story. While we were doing that, both Hunter and Will became interested in the story (about a horse), so we all were in the den while Millie worked through that story. I then gave Millie freedom to play on starfall while I set Will up for "pack n play" time.

11:00 ish - Will gets a snack of dry cereal. Today it was Cookie Crisps and plain Cheerios. Once his playtime was over, I found that he had eaten all the Cookie Crisps and had thrown all the Cheerios on the floor. Guess he showed me for trying to mix plain Cheerios in. I put him in his crib with toys and books and his snack, and he plays mostly happily for about an hour. During that hour, the kids and I also got a snack, I warmed my coffee, and we headed to the schoolroom in our basement for history and Hunter's math lesson. We spent about 30 minutes on each. I read their history lesson on Japan and the Samurai, we did some map work, I asked questions about the lesson to see what they remembered, and they also brought their coat of arms which were now shields, and we talked more about them. Once we moved on to Hunter's math lesson, Millie played freely. She usually plays in our playroom downstairs, but this morning she went to the dining room to get back to her crafting. Hunter took a timed test on his "oddball" math subtraction facts. While he took his test, I sorted through his lesson (which I had not looked at in advance) and decided which parts I was going to do. The lesson was on making change for a dollar. I asked Hunter a few introductory questions of my own to determine that he already had a decent grasp on the subject, so I decided to teach him the lesson more briefly than the curriculum suggested and completely skipped using money to check his answers. Lessons using real or play money never end well for us. I have no idea what it is. The clanging change. The play bills that stick together. Frustration central. It is a necessary evil sometimes, but I skip using actual money/change whenever possible.

12:00 Get Will out of pack n play time. Move toward making lunch. School is mostly done, and my dining room table is a wreck covered with Millie's math and her paper from crafting. I'll get to it eventually. Hunter and Millie make their lunches. I work on Will's.

Kids play. I piddle. I really can't remember what happened between lunch and Will's nap.

1:15 p.m. Will goes down for an afternoon nap. I brew a little more coffee and snag an apple. Hunter and I sit down to quiz him on his material for Memory Masters for CC. We spend 30ish minutes going over English Grammar, Latin, Science, and some geography. He is working toward memorizing all of the memory work offered from our year in CC to become a "memory master." It's pretty impressive how much he is learning and retaining. Can you name and locate all the countries in South America or list all the Noun Case endings for the 1st-5th declensions of Latin? Classical Conversations has been great for us this year. I am enjoying watching the kids learn all of this memory work and then see their eyes light up when something in "real life" mentions something they have learned, and they get to interact with that information a little more. It's fun.

2:00 Hunter and Millie play freely. I do a few things on the computer and snag a shower.

2:45 I send the kids up for book time. They usually read on their own for an hour and a half while Will is napping. Sometimes I let them read together so that Hunter can read to Millie. Today was one of those days. They talked me into reading together for an hour and then quiet play for a half hour.

And that leads me to right now. I have been typing this while they have been "reading" and Will has been asleep. I just heard Will make some noise. It's almost 4:00 p.m., so that's about right. He usually naps 2 1/2-3 hours, so that affords me time to finish up school while getting a little more time to myself once the big kids are in book time.

Here are a few more thoughts about my day sitting here at 4:00 p.m.

  • Breakfast and lunch dishes are still in the sink.
  • Papers and books are covering the dining room table.
  • No cleaning or tidying has happened today other than my morning routine in my bedroom to keep the bed made and clothes put away
  • I haven't eaten lunch yet. Just a protein bar during history while the kids had their snack and an apple while I quizzed Hunter on his memory work. Man, I should really be losing weight at this pace...oh well. I'll probably snag a cup of yogurt before getting the kids up.
It's been a good day. Did the things we needed to do. The only thing missing is some handwriting for Millie. I am more inconsistent with handwriting than I would like to be. Oh well. She does a lot while she crafts.
There's a first look into our chaos. The kids and I go with it...some days more easily than others. 

Stay tuned for day two tomorrow....

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why I Have to Adopt

My pastor (who also happens to be my husband) is preaching through the book of Luke. Today he preached the second of a three week section on the Fatherhood of God. We were in the first half of Luke 3. He also prayed through Psalm 42 for his pastoral prayer. There was also a baptism - Donny's first to officiate. It was one of those Sundays where all of the elements of the service lined up for God to wash over me a very clear message: I have to adopt. I need to adopt. 

Psalm 42 (the guide for our pastoral prayer this morning) begins:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, 
So my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.

Donny began the prayer leading us in corporate confession that "panting for God" is not always the attitude of our hearts. We don't thirst as we should, and when I do thirst, I often seek satisfaction or the quenching of my thirst apart from God.

During the baptism and the sermon (which included Jesus' baptism), Donny taught that baptism is not as much a sign for the believer of his/her commitment to God as it is God's sign and seal of his commitment and faithfulness to his own. He also compared the giddiness of a new father at the birth of his child to the much, much greater love, affection, and approval of the Father for his son, Jesus, at his baptism.

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. Luke 3:22b

I learned a lot today about God's fatherly affection and approval of Jesus. I also learned that God's fatherly love for me is the same, but there is a significant difference in our relationship. I am not his begotten. I am his betrayer. I am not his by birth. I am the daughter of sin and death. I was made in the image of God and have defecated on it. I belomg, by birth through Adam, to the grave. BUT...I am God' the death and resurrection of his begotten, his one and only begotten. God has given his godly affection and approval to his Gentile, outsider children, because he planned before the beginning of time to rescue and redeem us. The Fatherhood of God and all the approval and affection is mine. My God is an adoptive God.

My soul thirsts for God. Psalm 42:2a

I have struggled throughout my 20+ years as a believer with the Fatherhood of God. I haven't always known how to picture and receive his love, grace, admiration, affection and all those benefits I have as his child. I often keep him at an arm's distance because I think he is out to disapprove of me when I fail. My view of him is often skewed.

My soul thirsts for God.

In my new found thirst for God and a longing to understand his fatherhood more deeply, I am realizing that he has some things to teach me in our adoption that I would have a hard time learning any other way. Things about his love. Things about salvation and redemption. About true affection and acceptance.

This child we are adopting. He/she was not born into the Friederichsen Family. He/she isn't even on the same continent or of the same ethnic or national descent as our family. There is no natural reason why we should ever know each other, love each other, or experience life together.

But we will.

Back in June 2012, once Donny and I were confident of the Lord's call to adopt at this time in our lives, we began what will be a lifelong process of initiative and advocacy on behalf of a child we don't (at this point) even know. We made calls. We have taken steps. We have inquired. We have signed contracts. We have sought education. We have paid money...lots of money...with still more to go. We have traveled for fingerprints and interviews. We have pushed through bureaucracy. We have gathered papers. Found signatures. Embossed and notarized. Written essays. Answered questions. Been examined. Flown envelopes of papers to Louisville, Utah, D.C., and to Ethiopia. We are waiting. And we will wait. And wait some more. Then there will be more money. And more waiting. And more flying. And more waiting. And then...ADOPTION. We will be family. He/she will be ours. A Friederichsen. A son or daughter. An heir (or heiress). A brother or sister. Once God clearly called us to this process, we were ALL IN. And, I will say, there is nothing that will stop us from seeing this adoption complete. It's oftentimes consuming...because you know your family is not how it is fully meant to be...and you will do just about anything to get it there. To bring them home. To make them ours. And we still don't even know him/her. Not one little bit about them.

The process of earthly adoption is a grace God has given to redeem the effects of the fall of man that leaves children as orphans. This process is hard and beautiful. And I know I have only scratched the surface of how hard and beautiful the process will be. But this process...this long, hard, expensive, heart-wrenching nothing compared to what my heavenly Father has done to adopt me. To call me daughter. Sister to Christ. Heiress. Beloved. One with whom he is pleased. The only reason I can know and experience the affectionate and approving love of my Father is because of the plan he made, the steps he took, the wait he endured, and the price he paid to adopt me.

When the time comes for our family to be matched with a waiting child for adoption (probably in a year or more), we will be given referral documents that will list all that our agency was able to obtain about the child. Pictures. Birth family info. Circumstances surrounding the abandonment. Health info. Developmental info. And more. We will then review this information and decide if this child is "ours." Many families testify to seeing the pictures and just knowing that the child was theirs.

When God adopted me, here is what he knew about me - what my "referral papers" said: Sinful at birth, hater of God, self-seeking, prideful, independent, rotten, corrupt, outsider, unable not to sin, betrayer. And he said, "Yes, she is mine. I will do whatever it takes to adopt her." My words, of course. Here are a few glimpses about what scripture says about the whole thing:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
Ephesians 1:3-5

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Galatians 4:4-7

If you talk with adoptive families who are either in the paperwork process, who are waiting on a referral, or who are waiting to bring a child home, you will hear them lament mostly about two things: money and waiting. It's the cost of adoption. It is expensive, and most families endure a very long wait. These two things are not true for everyone, but they are true for most adoptive families.

God has used the scriptures to show me his cost for my adoption. He chose me before the foundation of the world. When we talk about the story of redemption, it is the story of God's long wait/plan to redeem, rescue, and adopt his children. He waited a long time and still waits for the world to be fully redeemed according to his plan. He knows my wait, because he waited long for me.

He also paid a great price. He sent forth his Son. The money we will spend on our adoption is not even a drop in a bucket compared to the price God paid for me through Jesus.

There is so much that I have to learn about the Fatherhood of God. I am thankful to be thirsting and longing to know him in this way. This longing to know him more as Father only confirms our decision to adopt. I have to adopt. I need to adopt. Why in the world wouldn't I want to experience this small, minuscule glimpse of what my God did to adopt me? Today, in some ways, I feel my motivation to adopt is a little selfish. I don't want to miss this lesson on the fatherhood of God and what he did to secure my adoption. I am sure God can teach about his Fatherhood to many people in many ways. BUT...our adoption is doing a special work in my life right now. As we take steps to seek funding for our adoption, and as we enter month two of what will likely be a 12-18 month wait for a referral, I am humbled by the cost that my Father paid for me, wretch that I am. Totally undeserving. He waited from before creation, and he paid the ultimate price of his only begotten Son to redeem, rescue, and adopt me.

There are many more thoughts to come from our adoption, I am sure...which only confirms how I need to adopt. Yes, children around the world and in our own neighborhoods need forever families. We have been called to that and long to meet that need in our child's life. our adoption is serving another purpose. Today, because of our adoption process, I relish more fully in my Father God who made me part of his forever family. I am no longer a slave. I am a daughter. God affectionately and approvingly calls me his own. His child.

Thank you, Abba Father, for the great, great price you paid for my adoption. Thank you for calling our family to the special grace of earthly adoption and for how you are using it to deepen my understanding of you as my loving, affectionate, and approving adoptive Father. May I continue to thirst for all you have for me in this process.