Saturday, October 5, 2013

The meaning of MY life

I, like most people, have asked the age old question of


And like most people I never got a clear answer.

And like many people I wanted my life to have a BIG impact on the world.

I wanted to do something amazing.

I wanted to do something that would bring joy and lasting memories to many people.

I wanted to be a world class dancer - well you have to be graceful to do that.

I wanted to be an award winning singer who could influence people for God with my amazing voice and powerful witness.  Well, for that you need an amazing voice.

So I struggled. I questioned God.
I wanted to know why I was bullied as child, dramatically reducing my self-confidence to meet people.
I wanted to know why I had a music teacher that dashed my self-esteem as a teen.
I wanted to know why I was so irritated by so many little things that other people could just blow off.  This would make my life a living hell at times because I would feel like my senses were hyper acute and I could not get away from the noise and other sensations.
I wanted to know why I could not conceive and bear a child.  I wanted to know why I was so defective that I could not even pass on the love and faith that were the very center of the life I shared with my husband.

Then one day a child was born in a far away land.  I had no idea this child even existed.  I did not know the woman who gave birth to this new little person.  I did not know the father who co-created this precious bundle of humanity.

But I did get to know this child.  I became this child's mom.  Not through anything that I did.  Not because I was more special than the parents whose genes made up the child who lives in my house.  I had been created from the moment I was conceived in my mother's womb, to be the parent this child would need to cope with the loss of first family and first country.  I am the parent this child would need to handle the rejection and racism that still exists in our country.  I am the parent this child would need to cope with sensory challenges.

I am not anything special to the world at large.  I am not greater than anyone else.  I am not going to set the world on fire with my talents.  But I am created for something great. I am created to be what this one little person needs to grow, to heal, to thrive, and to come to know God's unconditional love.

You see, this child was not made to fill the hole in in my life.  I was made to fill the hole in this child's.  Both of us had broken pieces in our lives.  The brokenness that happened half a world away was in no way the fault of the child I now call my own.  The brokenness was made through choices of other people that were made before I ever thought of adoption.  The brokenness in me was the result of the decisions of others and to some extent myself.  But God knew that the brokenness in my life would fill the empty spaces left in the shattered life of a tiny child from a far away place.  The only thing I did was to open myself up to allow God to work.  He did not heal me the way I asked to be healed.  He healed me the way I needed to be healed to do His work - to show unconditional love.  And through the giving, I have received more love than I could ever imagine.  I have been healed in places that I did not even know I was broken.  And I have become more than I ever dreamed I could be.

This miracle occurred in His time, according to His plan.  And for that I am eternally grateful.  And because of that I have learned the meaning of my life, and that I now have the greatest name in my small, but very meaningful life.....


Happy Birthday, Little Bear.  I love you so much....

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Bread

Yesterday I mentioned that I had bread proofing in the kitchen.

I have found that my family loves homemade bread.  I had not made yeast bread in a long time.
A long, LONG time!

 In fact, it was probably before the Cubs came along.  I love baking, though.  Kneading the bread dough was always very therapeutic for me. Working with people who are facing some of the worst times in their lives can be very stressful and frustrating.  So I would take those frustrations out on the bread dough.  It is messy therapy, but it is therapy and I get comfort food out of the deal as well.

Fast forward to the last few months when we have been extremely short on money.  I had the ingredients in my pantry and fridge to make bread, which was one of the prepared staples that we did not have.  So I went to my favorite place on the Internet - PINTEREST.  I found a recipe that looked fairly simple, and even better it looked pretty healthy.  The worst part is that I wrote down the recipe and did not write the source.  I know, I know - a home schooling mom who does not write down resources.  Bad Mama!

So, just for you wonderful readers (all 2 of you if I am lucky) I went and found the recipe and it is now dutifully recorded on my written recipe as well as on my Pinterest recipe board.

If you have not experienced the joy of making break, beating out your frustrations on a hapless yet forgiving lump of dough, you have GOT to give it a try.

To let you know just HOW forgiving this recipe is...
~I have run out of honey and just substituted regular sugar (no real difference in taste)
~I have used only 3 cups of white flour and the rest whole wheat flour (a bit denser but it still rises well)
~I have used 3 cups of oats, 2 cups of white flour and the rest whole wheat flour (a bit of a different texture, but still rises great and it adds a different variety of grain in our diets)
~I have used too much water in the beginning (just add more flour when kneading)
~I have forgotten the salt (I am sure there is a valid chemical reason why it is in there, but I have no idea what it is and the bread turned out just fine!)
~I have forgotten the second 1/3 C of honey/sugar (it is just not as sweet, but still wonderful)

Some things I want to do with this recipe in the future is to....
~add some sunflower seeds during the final kneading
~roll out one loaf and sprinkle cinnamon and raisins in it and then roll it up before the final rise
~experiment with some other grains/nut-flours to introduce a variety of grains into our diet 

The benefits of having freshly baked bread is that I get to determine exactly what goes into it and what does NOT go in there.  There are none of the preservatives or high fructose corn syrup found in several commercially baked bread.  

Another set of benefits is that my children understand that there is work that goes into the food they eat.  
The looks on their faces when they get to punch down the dough, smell the bread baking, tap it to determine if it is done, and then eating that first piece of bread while it is still warm is priceless.  
During our time in the kitchen together we go over: 

~ math facts - fractions, weights and measures 
~ science - watching the yeast start to grow and the bread rise  
~ health - what goes in the bread and why is it healthy or not
~ home maintence - how to keep the kitchen clean while cooking, taking care of appliances, cleaning up after ourselves
~ life - it is amazing the conversations that occur while hands are occupied making food

For my family, baking bread is not just providing food for the body.  

It is providing an opportunity to help our family bond and grow. 

It is about opening communication and sharing.  

It is about growing and learning and loving and, as always,

Making Messes with My Miracles!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Forgotten Orientation

When I say we are home schooling, I am mean that our children complete their academic education here at our home.  We are not creating our own curriculum, nor are we drawing from many different programs.  We have chosen to use the K12  program.  Our state has partnered with them to provide students with a virtual online learning experience.  This is a whole new concept for our family.  There are actual teachers that present classes online.  They are there as resources for us whenever we need them.  The lessons are a combination of the online teacher led classes, online computer learning, and book study.  Papa Bear and I are "learning coaches".  We actually do some of the "teaching", but the lessons are laid out for us so clearly that it is fairly easy.  The other nice part of it is that we can include our beliefs in the teaching.  We can talk about how we believe that science supports God's miracles.  We can take a break and say some prayers. We are able to attend Mass or go to a pro-life rally, or just sit and talk about whatever pressing issue comes up in their bright, impressionable, wonderfully curious little brains.

There is a downside to this, too, though. Not only is there a learning curve for the Cubs, but there is also a learning curve for us adults.

 There are some things that have been tweaked for our state to meet standards and to meet the general calendar of other public schools.  In doing that, they don't follow the curriculum exactly as K12 has it laid out.  We did not understand that, and when the teachers started talking about "pacing guides" we were unsure what they were talking about.  We finally figured it out, but not before we were a bit behind.  We finally got the cubs caught up, only to discover today the Baby Bear has managed to fall behind again because I was unclear when I explained it.

The other thing that was not clearly explained was that it is VERY beneficial for each child to have a computer on which to do school.  There is a lot more online work than we thought.  It is incredibly interactive and does a fantastic job of continually reinforcing what was covered in previous lessons.  So I am not complaining.  But the one computer we had all set up was not quite enough.

It would have been nice had there been a bit more orientation except for the general videos produced by K12 regarding the particulars of our state.  There are some other things that would be terrific to include.  I need to make sure and write those subjects down and send them in to the administrators of our state program.  I will get to that as soon as...........

  •  We actually get caught up
  • I get my desk cleared off
  • I finish the 3 loaves of bread I have proofing in the kitchen
  • I get remotely organized
  • My laundry is folded
OK - it may be a while.  But that is why I have this blog - to remind of things that I need to do!  Now,  back to folding.  The good news is that the crate of mismatched socks are all sorted and matched.  I can check off 1 thing from my to-do list!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Catching up

Recently my life

The last few weeks

The last few months have been really tough.  Losing my dad in January had a much more profound effect on me than I ever dreamed it would.  Add to that health concerns my mother has put off addressing because she was taking care of my dad, my own health responding to the stress, and then starting to home school, well, let's just say that I have been in a much deeper fog than I ever realized.

Coming out of that fog I am looking much more closely at a few tracking devices available in our curriculum and have discovered that I had missed some key things - namely that there were some tests that were not passed.  So this week is all about getting those tests completed with a passing score, ensuring the attendance has been updated, and that everyone is back on course.

One of those health concerns my mom had put off was severe arthritis in her knee.  She is scheduled to have a knee replacement next week.  After her time in the hospital she is going to move in with our family until she is able to move around safely in her own home.  Knowing that she is going to need all facilities on the first floor of our home I have vacated my "office" and moved into the "formal living room".  Bear and my oldest manhandled the guest bed down the stairs and into the office.  This change has caused there to be chaos and mayhem in the front part of our house.  My youngest has decided that school needs to occur right next to me, so now there is my huge desk and its mess sitting right next to our piano, with one of the school computers stacked on top of a vintage sewing machine - in a VERY small room.  Oh, and I forgot there is also a rocking chair and love seat in here as well.  This seems to be working well for the little one, and I am much closer to the older one who has taken up scholastic residence in the dining room.  Most people who know me IRL know that chaos and disorder follow me like dust follows Pig-pen.

Given my recent emergence from my emotional fog, the sheer volume of chaos that surrounds me right now is overwhelming even me!  Tonight my goal is to get the bear cubs in bed early, help all lonely socks scattered around my house like fallen leaves find mates, and work with Bear to create a plan to tame the BEASTS formally known as chaos, disorganization and clutter!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time Flies!

Wow, the last few weeks have been a blur!

School is going fairly well.  There have been several bumps that we are working through.  There have been days I wondered why in heaven's name did I even dream about doing this.  There have been a LOT of days that I think throwing them on the school bus would be SO much nicer!  But then my oldest snuggles up with me at night.  My youngest begs for me to read through her lesson with her.  Those are the times that I know we made the right decision.

We live in a decent area of town with very good schools.  But there has been a shift in how the schools are treating the kids.  The first 4 years they were at school I had a sense of true caring in the staff.  I could go in and my kids were begging to STAY at school.  Then something shifted.   Not sure exactly what it was, but bit by bit my kids were coming how with really nasty attitudes,  tears over how they were treated by fellow students as well as teachers,  and there was no one who would listen to our concerns.  When it was time for my oldest to move from the elementary school the middle school I knew that we had to make some decisions.  The middle school is huge.  The teachers that taught 5th grade had been previous middle school teachers who had been moved into the elementary school because of school changes.  These teachers ran the classrooms like a middle school.  That would be fine, but there was no real easing into it.  There was no sense of caring for the individual student.  My oldest has some challenges.  The challenges are not severe enough to warrant an individual education plan, but they are bad enough that she needs a bit more attention.  Last year in school that was totally missing.  My oldest who absolutely LOVES school was now coming home in tears, literally.  This child was going to be eaten up in middle school.  So the decision was made to try this form of homeschooling for one year.  One of my good friends from church assured me that we can't screw them up too badly in only 1 year.  Another friend who homeschools all 8 of her children reminded me that we need to learn to be a family again - that our consistent parental love and authority needs to be relearned by everyone, including my husband and myself.  So we took the plunge and are now several weeks into the process.  My house is not clean (not that this is new), my laundry is still not caught up let alone folded, and we are still searching for some sort of routine.  But we are definitely learning to be a family again.  The children are back testing boundaries, but appropriately. They are also talking openly with us about many topics.  The children are learning how to be supportive of each.  Don't misunderstand me, they still compete for our attention and they fight tooth and nail many times a day.  But there is a lot less venom when they fuss at each other.  I am so thankful that we have this opportunity to grow with our children, to be at the very center of their development so that we can guide and teach them right from wrong and know who their friends are.