Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Let 2013 (and Home School) Begin!

***WARNING--What you are about to read are candid and blatantly honest, mostly unfiltered thoughts. If you are looking for politeness and political correctness, be forewarned!

Tomorrow most all the kids will be returning back to school, but not Will...exactly. I have never been a huge home school advocate. As a public school teacher myself for 10 years, I was actually a fan of public schools. They aren't perfect, but I could see the fruit of my labor. The kids seemed to learn so much from each other. My only real experience with having a home schooled student in my class was not exactly, shall we say, the strongest case for homeschooling your child. And so my opinion was formed...I was not interested in home schooling.

Some think private school is the answer. Will did attend a private preschool (thanks to a scholarship) that was great. But it appears that most private schools, at least around here, don't differentiate instruction. As a former public school teacher, this is appalling to me. Kids just aren't all on the same level--period. So although this school was wonderful spiritually for him, the academia side of me could never be happy there, at least for a child that I am quite certain is gifted. (Throw up now. I know everyone thinks their kids are gifted.)

Now I am going to be (even more) perfectly frank. Please don't throw tomatoes. But in my circles as a stay-at-home mom (something I also at one time never thought I would ever do) I met some home school families. While some appeared perfectly "normal," the majority were not what you would call good-looking, fashionable, or popular. Let's just say that volunteering to be a member of this group was not widely appealing.

Out of desperation, more than anything, I did resign myself to home school Will for kindergarten when I thought he wasn't going to get into the school we wanted. Our area school was a bit scary and I had heard many bad things about it. There was no way I was sending him there. Then, at the last minute, he did get into the school we wanted. I should have been elated, but I was surprised to find that I was actually very disappointed. I found myself bawling my eyes out a couple nights before school started because my "baby" was leaving me.

We had family vacation in September that had been planned when we thought we would be homeschooling. Although I had told his teacher on numerous occasions what we were doing, and sent a note to the school office, we were not informed that it could have been excused as educational enhancement until it was too late. We did have a wonderful, and educational, time!

Once the holidays, beginning with Halloween, rolled around, there were so many fun things that I wanted to do with the kids. (Thanks Pinterest!) I even made a list so I wouldn't forget any of them. The same happened with Thanksgiving and Christmas. None of my lists were even halfway accomplished. By the time Will got home, had a snack, relaxed for a few minutes, did homework, and ate dinner, there was very little time or energy left for the fun stuff. Not to mention trying to add in piano lessons and practice. I felt like our family was missing out on the things that make us who are. As far as Christmas goes, we were missing out on a lot of great spiritual lessons and opportunities.

Flash forward to half way through the kindergarten year, and my Will has already been student of the month. He has tried first grade for half a day, but socially and emotionally it didn't work out so well. (Partially due to the fact that it took a good 2 months for them to try it, by which time he was already settled in his new routine.) He finally got into the gifted program--for about 3 hours out of a 35 hour week. He has learned a lot about writing and spelling, but as far as I can see, that's about it. He has made a few friends, but nothing like he had in preschool. His 2 best friends at school are friends he already knew from church. Even though I volunteer once a week in the classroom and have dialogued with his teacher on several occasions about wanting him to be challenged, 98% of the time he does what everyone else does. He only gets to read chapter books for an hour or so a week in the gifted program, even though he was reading at least 3 a day before he began kindergarten. He wasn't even allowed to check them out of the library until I mentioned it to the staff. For that matter, he was the only child not checking out any book until 8 weeks into the school year and they hadn't even noticed! We are now officially half way through the year. The accelerated math group has yet to start...and this is all at a school that is supposed to be known for it's individualized education. Not to mention the many mornings that Will, a kid who loved his 2 years of preschool, cried and begged for me not to send him to school. I am also not mentioning the serious attitude in the afternoons from being on his very best behavior all day and still not being able to work his way up the ranks to the "superior" behavior rating reserved for only a few days a year. Add in the 1 1/2 hour minimum we were spending in the car per day, coupled with $12 a day on gas. For that kind of money, Will could have join any sport or extracurricular activity he wants.

Don't get me wrong...there were some things that I really loved. Like the fact that this school, unlike the one I taught at, valued life experiences--lots of assemblies and enrichment programs. I even loved it that he was exposed to things like ballet--which he hated. I am not all about my child being happy all the time--I'm about him getting what's best for himself, spiritually and educationally speaking especially. The faculty was nice, the school was clean. His teacher was a wonderful Christian lady and very sweet. I honestly believe that as far as public elementary schools go, it really is one of the best.

In the course of my frustrations, I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. It seemed the answer was always the same--home school. So I would pray some more, "Lord, surely this isn't what you want for us. I have a part time job I enjoy. I was public school teacher and an advocate for public school. I have never wanted to home school my children." But God doesn't often answer me as I expect--home school. Even praying about when to start was crazy. Pull him out in the middle of the year? That's probably not the best choice. But guess what?

So here it is January 1 and "school" starts tomorrow. I am not sure where I fit into the scheme of things as it seems most home school for spiritual reasons, which didn't play into our decision as much as the academic reasons, though definitely a bonus. I feel a little disgruntled at either the curriculum prices or the lack of meat in the curriculum, so I know I am going to have a lot of leg work and supplementation to do on my own. I am not sure how Gemma and a new baby are going to work with this whole home school thing. But other people do it and God has never lead us to take the easy or expected route with anything...from getting married quickly, to adopting a baby, to me staying at home, to me going back to work...And so our adventures continue.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Don't Blink

The year is almost 1/6 of the way over. Don't blink!

I've been absent here because I've been focusing on my 365 blog. If you are hankering for more, check it out!

This new year was the first time I didn't really feel the hankering for New Years Resolutions. My 365 challenge is more of a challenge and growth project than a resolution.

My Bible study decided to read the Bible through in a year, with assigned daily readings. The beauty of it, however, is that the ultimate goals is to actually get through it in a year, so if I'm lax for a day I don't feel like I totally blew it.

Last year I heard about choosing One Word for a year and focusing on that word all year instead of setting resolutions. My word was easy to pick...completion. I have so many 1/2 started projects and grand ideas that haven't come to fruition. Funny thing is that, no, nothing on my list is completed! But some things are dangerously closer than they would have been otherwise. Again, focusing on the grace and not fretting until the end of the year!

Then I heard that you should pick words for your family members too--things to pray over since I obviously can't make them do anything! Choosing words for them was much harder.
*John's word is still changing continuously. Maybe I'll have the perfect word picked out for him by next year.
*When I asked Will what word he wanted, he picked "poop." Quite fitting since he is such a big stinker head! I couldn't help but laugh out loud--for several minutes! But once I explained what I meant, he picked "Jesus." That's my Sweetie. I'm praying for a real understand of who Jesus is and a personal relationship for him. He is totally obsessed with Easter right now, to no credit of my own, so I think it's working.
*Gemma's word flips back and forth between growth and health...physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You may think she's too young for the spiritual, but I give babies way more credit than most.

And so our 2011 has begun. And is already 1/6 over! Don't blink!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Remembered

Another Christmas has come and gone! Last year Will was really upset when it was over. This year he's a bit less upset, though not a lot. This morning the topic of conversation was, if he doesn't listen to me and stop leaning on the gate, and thus he really does fall and break his arm, which holiday will he miss?? Here's to hoping he won't miss anything and his arms will remain in proper form.

And here's to remembering all the wonder of another Christmas season. When I look back on this Christmas, I want to remember...

Will had a great time turning an upside down paper cup and flag pole into a Salvation Army bell while giving me Lego pieces to drop into his bucket (a hollow drum.)

He made his stuffed animals into the characters from the nativity, mainly focusing on the bad king(King Harod).

One December day, Will dropped something on his toe. Although the scrape on his foot was nearly invisible, he declared through huge crocodile tears that his sister was going to have to open his presents for him.

Perhaps this is the last Christmas that Will won't really want much in particular. He pointed at nearly everything in the catalog and said, "Uh huh. Yep." What he didn't want, he picked out for his sister. But when push came to shove, he couldn't really tell Santa one thing that he really wanted.

And of course we want to remember it was Gemma's first Christmas. We couldn't keep her 8 week old self from opening all the presents and staying up late to try to catch Santa in the act! But seriously, she did request lots of hair bows!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


2 Thanksgiving Turkeys

A speaker recently highlighted this verse...


and it really got me thinking...

I'm grumpy when I don't get a good night's sleep...because I have the most comfy bed in the world.

I'm lonely when my husband has to be out late...because I'm married to my best friend.

I get frustrated when Will misbehaves...because he normally has unusually good behavior.

I hate paying full price for items...because I have access to great stores and coupons that allow me to get much of what I want and need at a fraction of the normal cost.

I long for vacation every year...because I've been to some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world.

I hate not being able to find the perfect gift for my loved ones...because my mom always knew just what we would want, even when we didn't even know it existed.

I don't like sitting still...because there are so many interesting things to occupy my time.

I'm worried when my daughter coughs...because I've been blessed with a healthy baby girl.

I'm thankful because everything I truly want and need is at my fingertips...I'm thankful because I'm blessed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Winds of Change

You know how I love fall, the beautiful colors, the crisp cool breeze. Change is in the air AND the house...

Gemma Grace Wohlford came into the world on October 29th, at 8:11a.m, weighing 8lbs 13oz. and measuring 19 1/2 inches long. What a change for her to leave the warmth and safety of Mommy and come into this crazy world! What a change for Mommy, who already had a horrible time sleeping, to discover that I would be sleeping even less and feel like a zombie for the first few weeks of her life, if not longer. We all love our girl, but I must say that I never imagined I would feel so much like a milking machine! Literally. I had no idea it would be this hard.

Will has accepted everything in stride. He loved the extra attention from Mimi the first week of Gemma's life. Now he's just a tad moody and sensitive, but he loves his sister. Having a little cold has kept him from holding her and playing with her as much as he would like, but he kisses her feet constantly and tells her he loves her. He's making a list of all the things he is going to teach her when she gets to play games on the iPhone being at the top of the list.

Daddy is working hard as usual and worrying (as usual), but Gemma is his newest concern. Is she eating enough? Pooping too much? Does she really have gas? Is she really as cute as we think she is?

So we trudge on through our daily lives with the same problems and concerns we had before, but now there is another bright spot...Gemma. Will and Gemma are such huge blessings to us. We love our little family. Just the 4 of us. It has a strange and sweet ring to it. The Winds of Change are good.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Watching the Wheels Turn

He's Growing Up

Sometimes I think God gave me another "baby" because He knew I couldn't handle watching my first baby turn into a big boy any other way. I remember watching him not long after we got him and realizing that he was already growing up. He never would even let us hold the bottle for him. According to American standards, he shouldn't have even still been using a bottle.

Now he's growing into his "big boy" face, still as cute as ever. He loves school. I swear that he grows an inch every couple of days. Those shirts that have been big on him forever finally need to be packed away. The pants that use to hang on his skinny little body finally stay up.

His mind is changing just as fast. He's still all boy with his favorite word being "bum" (as in the body part) and any kind of bodily excrement is just fascinating. He writes his own rhyming songs about body parts and the things they do. He's learning by leaps and bounds and still loves school.

Unfortunately I am no longer able to tell him what to like. I had to take back an adorable Halloween shirt because "Spiders are scary!" He really wants one of those tacky Pillow Pets. If a song he doesn't like comes on, he yells, "I want COUNTRY music!"

It's fascinating to watch his little wheels turn...especially when it comes to the new baby. Yesterday he told me, "You are going to be driving and the 'stretch marks' on your belly were going to crack open and you will look down and see a hand. And it will be a baby hand!" I couldn't decide whether to be scared or if that would be an easier way to deliver.

A couple weeks ago he told me we needed to take the baby to China and leave her. "Not for long, just for a little while. Then we will come back and get her." He's fully aware that he was in China as a baby and Mommy and Daddy went to get him. On a separate occasion we were driving down the road and he asked me, "Mommy, what took you so long to come get me in China?" He's also told me that we need to actually go to China to have the baby and that he wished this baby came from China. That had been after an emotional doctor visit and I wholeheartedly agreed with him.

I'm aware that some people will think that Will wanting to leave the baby in China is awful, but give him a break...he's still 3. He's just trying to figure it all out and wants the baby to be like him. (Who can blame him? He's pretty great!) Will is proud that he came from China and is happy to tell anyone who asks. Those who don't agree that he has a proud heritage obviously haven't learned much Chinese history.

Back to my emotions, they've been fairly normal until a month or so ago. Now I've cried in front of Will a few times, even though I try not too. The first time must have scared him to death as he loves to tell people that "Mommy cried at the doctor's." The last time he just looked at me from the back seat and said,"What's wrong Mommy?"

Will's so sensitive, and, we are learning more and more, quite shy. His teachers say he doesn't talk much at school. Although passionate about fire engines, he declined the opportunity to climb into one twice within a week because he was afraid it would take off with him in it. We're praying he will outgrow this stage as John and I were both shy as children (Can you picture John shy?!) and we don't want him to miss out on anything because of it.

This cute, sweet, sensitive boy is going to make an excellent big brother. He is very excited and carries around his new What to Expect When the Baby Comes Home book all the time. He constantly wonders what she will look like. (He's even told me he hopes she looks like Ella, a little girl in his class he has a crush on.)

And Then There are Morons
(I should title this part of the post a little nicer, but at 5:41 a.m. I'm feeling a little blunt.)

Just as Will's wheels are turning and putting everything together about China and babies, etc., so are the wheels of perfect strangers.

While walking through the mall and ogling baby clothes, a woman asked me if Will was adopted. (Yes, some see Will out with just John or myself and think perhaps the other parent is Asian.) She told me she was just asking because she, a Caucasian, just adopted an African American and she doesn't know how to handle the stupid comments people make. I agreed that it was difficult and it really depended on who was saying it and what I thought they could handle. She proceeded to tell me about stupid comments about how they had "darkened up" the baby, etc. I told her my greatest pet peeve, when people tell me they are happy we can have a baby "of our own," etc. Will is mine!!! So the other mother and I bonded with Will right there and I'm sure he was taking it all in. (Don't you remember eavesdropping on adult conversations as a child? I sure do!) I hope he caught a glimpse of how passionate we were about our children and how much he is loved.

Ironically, that same night, we went to Michael's Craft Night to make a little plaque for the baby's door. A soon-to-be grandmother and her daughter were there making something for their baby. She had a whole slew of silly questions...
1. Was Will making something for himself?
The theme of the class was gifts for the new baby.
2. Oh. We were having a baby. Would she be of the same relation?
My response, with a dazed and confused look on my face..."Relation?
What do you mean?" All I could think of was that she was going to be his
sister. What's so confusing about that? Then the lady asked where she would
be from. My answer, "From my belly." Now I have never been super skinny and
surely she could see the basketball attached to my waistline.
3. Was this planned? That was great that we could have
"one of our own."
My response..."Actually Will was planned. We really wanted him. This baby
was the surprise." Lucky for her my phone rang just then as I was getting
ready to go off, but you should have seen the look of utter confusion on her
face while she was trying to figure out why on earth anyone would plan on
adopting a baby instead of having "one of their own." I'm sick and tired of
people telling acting like this baby
is a bigger blessing than Will was. It's great we are "having" a baby, blah,
blah, blah. But it was just as great, if not greater, that we could adopt a
baby. Not everyone has a little Chinese angel, especially a boy, running
around their house. I wouldn't care if he was an alien. He'd be MY alien and
I love him with all my heart.

Someday, when I've had all I can take, someone is going to get an earful.
Hopefully it won't be you. You have no've read the rantings of
my blog!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

School Bells

I was right...Will loves school!

At open house he waved down and sat with the only friend he knows in his class. Once in the classroom, he saw the cars and road rug and it was all over. I was impressed with the no-nonsense approach his teachers seemed to have. They did things the way I liked to do carrying your kids in, etc. I was also pleased that they must bring a healthy snack to eat, especially since I'd already had a request for cookies and cupcakes.

Afterward we went to Walmart for a backpack. Luckily we found the last Lightning McQueen backpack in the whole store. I don't know what we would have done if it hadn't been there! Will wore it all over the store.

The first morning of school we took Will to McDonalds to begin the annual First Day of School Breakfast tradition. He was so rotten there that I had no tears to cry when we left him. He was so excited that he almost went in without saying good-bye. (I put a stop to that!) I was already proud as he went right to the correct hook with his name on it and hung up his backpack and also located his name on the apples outside the door. accident when we picked him up.

The only downside...Now that I'm at the "every 2 weeks doctor visit" mark, so much of my "free" time I was looking forward to is gone. :( Plus, preschool is only 2 mornings a week!