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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the cutest little Ravens cheerleader and two "tough" ninjas!

I lost track of time and forgot to grab a picture of the kids before I lost the light ... so this was shot at ISO6400, yikes!  Not bad, I suppose ... but the noise sure is making the MarkIII rank higher up on the "want" list!

PS - Exciting news!  Our homeschool room was featured over at I Heart Organizing today!  Check out the post HERE!
  IHeart Organizing

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


That’s the number of days it took Sunshine to feel comfortable enough to stay in the church nursery without me. After staying with her in the nursery off and on for months, I tried a few times unsuccessfully to leave her there by herself. I never pushed, just left for a few minutes until her screams became too desperate for me to bear. It was only a handful of times and in fact, I don’t really remember when the last time was. It just seemed like she wasn’t ready and I was ok with that, so I stopped trying for awhile. There are many things I’ve had to push since she’s been home, but forcing her to stay somewhere without me when she’s not comfortable? That isn’t one I’ve been willing to do.

I am certain some people would disagree with the decision not to push her, but this is simply something that is not negotiable for me. If she is not emotionally ready to be left on her own, I am not going to force her. Sunshine didn’t have the well-attached, safe, comfortable, predictable beginning that a newborn needs. Her beginning didn’t pave the way for happy church nursery separations. And that’s on top of the fact that she cannot communicate verbally with other people because of her cleft. So although I may be willing to push her in other areas, I transform into total mush when it comes to leaving her. I don’t want her to be in a situation where she cannot communicate her needs. And I certainly don’t want her to ever worry or think that I might not come back for her. Ever.

I think about all she's been through, and all she still has yet to battle, and I'm overwhelmed with complete compassion.  There are many things in her life I have not been able to help her with.  But this one thing ... this is something I can help her with. Even if it had taken 1,004 days to feel comfortable staying in the nursery without me, that's ok.  Because she will always know that her mama comes back for her.

So church this past week went on like any other Sunday, except that I snuck into the nursery to change Sunshine’s diaper before the service started. I didn’t have any intention of trying to leave her in the nursery, but she had other plans! After we finished the quick diaper change, she signed “play” and indicated in a mama-just-knows kinda way that she wanted to stay. With me. In the nursery. I wanted to attend the service though, so I nonchalantly asked if she wanted to stay by herself, totally expecting that she’d say no way. When she agreed to stay on her own, it took me a few seconds to realize that I needed to react fast and get out of there before she changed her mind. I left so quickly, in fact, that I didn’t sign her in or grab a pager. So I texted the Children’s Minister (who was in the nursery at the time and knows the situation with my sweet Sunshine) where I was sitting in church, and she graciously brought me a pager and confirmed that Sunshine was playing happily. Phew. I walked out into the hallway several times during the service to listen for the cries I was sure I’d hear, but I never did.

She made it almost the entire service before she got upset and asked for me. So when the pager went off toward the end, I went running. I don’t remember the last time that I ached to hold her so terribly (aside from after surgeries), and I couldn’t get to the nursery fast enough. When her little hands clasped around my neck and she started crying even harder out of relief, I wanted to burst into hysterics along with her, but instead just allowed a few tears to roll down my cheeks. I’m sure the young girls working in the room (who were new and didn’t understand Sunshine’s separation issues) thought I was totally crazy. “Thankful” isn’t a strong enough word for how I felt. I was consumed with praise. I wanted to do cartwheels and cry tears of joy all at the same time. Because although it may be normal for most parents to leave their children in the church nursery, it meant so much more for our sweet Sunshine.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Would you consider hosting a Chinese orphan?

New Horizons is the largest faith-based host program, facilitating orphan hosting nationwide.  Since 2005, more than 2000 orphans have been hosted through their ministry!  If you are familiar with New Horizons, you know they mostly bring Eastern European orphans over to the U.S. for hosting.  I am thrilled to share that they recently announced a brand-new Chinese orphan hosting program also!  This is so exciting!  As far as I know, Chinese orphans have not been hosted in the U.S, so this is really awesome news.  I think they have about 55 Chinese orphans that they are looking to host here in the U.S. with Christian families during Chinese New Year - approximately January 24-February 1.

So what is required to host?  Without getting into too much detail, you simply need to open your home up to a Chinese orphan for approximately four weeks.  Host families agree to cover the cost of airfare and other incidentals for the child while they are here.  You take care of food, clothing, shelter, etc. ... and LOVE on them.  Show them what it means to be a Christian and be part of a family.  Teach them that they matter and that someones does care.  Show them unconditional love, just they way Jesus loves them.  Let them get a glimpse of American culture, the English language, and what it means to be a part of a healthy, loving, Christian family.  Give them a chance.  Give them hope.  Change their life, and your family's in the process.  For more concrete specifics, click HERE for the New Horizon's China pre-application.

You do not have to want to adopt to host through this program, although I do think they are currently giving preferential treatment to host families who are open to the possibility of adoption, especially this first time around.  Some of the details are still a bit up in the air, as this is the first time they have worked with China to host.  Currently, all children are being flown into Atlanta.  And then depending on where the host families are clustered, certain locations may not be eligible for hosting this time around.  New Horizons needs to guarantee they can properly chaperone the children - doing so means the kids need to be in host homes clustered within an hour of each other, throughout the U.S.  I think the plan is eventually (after this first time is successful) to loosen up on that, although I am not positive.

So anywho, the reason I am advocating for this program is because our family would very much like to host over CNY.  In order to do that though, my impression is that there needs to be other host families in a close-ish proximity to us.  I wanted to get the word out about this program so that as many people can know as possible.  Maybe God will stir their hearts also to host.  Will you help spread the news?  We would love to share the love of Christ with one of these precious blessings and are praying that the door is opened for us.

Photo credit: New Horizons

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Five Candles

We celebrated Lovebug's birthday today with a small party.  The "balloon guy" came and made all kinds of cool balloon creations and we also painted pumpkins with the kids.  It was a great day and I know Lovebug had a ton of fun.

As per usual, I didn't do a good job of documenting the party.  But at least I did manage to remember to grab my camera when we sang Happy Birthday.  We turned off all the lights, so the camera is just pulling in the ambient light from the candles ... very noisy black & white conversion but I kinda dig it.

Happy Birthday to my little man!  We love you so much!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Silly girl

When Sunshine pulled out all the floss out at once on this one, I did what any self-respecting photogramama would do ... I moved her into the light and grabbed my camera to document.  Hehe.

Pretty ironic though ... because this is a girl that used to scream in terror anytime a toothbrush would come into vision.  Ah, change is good.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This one.

My sweet friend, Kelly, over at My Overthinking, advocates for many orphans on her blog and Facebook page.  I also see lots of other orphans advocated for all over the internet ... my heart hurts each time a see a new face.  Another precious one that needs and deserves a family.  Another child with no one to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight.  Sometimes it's just too much!

Every once in awhile, I see the face of a little one that just overwhelms me.  It's the kind of thing where I simply can't stop thinking about them and my stomach gets tied in knots over their situation.  I don't know why some affect me this way and others do not ... but sweet Quinn was one of those precious babes.  This one.  This beautiful girl will turn 5 on New Year's Day and is going blind because of a simple, yet severe Vitamin A deficiency.  A Vitamin A deficiency, friends.  It is a rare disorder called Keratmoalacia. She is not yet completely blind and can still see light.  This disorder can be corrected through surgery, but she needs it NOW.  Like yesterday.  Without surgery, her blindness will become permanent.   And after blindness becomes permanent, there is a 50% chance she will die.  All because of a Vitamin A deficiency ... something that we rarely worry about here in the U.S.

Most immediately, Quinn needs surgery and funding to make that possible.  If you feel called, please consider donating to help financially support doctor's visits and ultimately surgery to restore her vision.  Homeland Children's Foundation is committed to doing everything they can to help her.  Tax-deductible donations can be sent to them at 99 Main Street, Suite 310, Nyack, NY 10960.  Make checks payable to Homeland Children's Foundation and make sure to write Quinn's name on the check.  Please also include your name, address and phone number so that the donation can be returned if they are unable to use it for her.

Quinn also desperately needs a family.  It has been said about her--"She is sweet, gentle, playful and affectionate. She is able to navigate despite her limited vision and is loved by everyone."  If you feel like God is leading you down that path of adopting her, please contact Nancy Reffsin at 413-253-3592 or  A family that is paper-ready or is going to be traveling soon is preferable given Quinn's immediate medical need.  Homeland Children's Foundation is willing to help in any way to get Quinn home, including fundraising.

Advocating works!  Please share Quinn's information.  Let's find her family!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Five seems to be a tough one for me

I have now celebrated 13 birthdays with my kiddos (14 if you count the one when Sunshine was still in China).  I suppose that's not so many, especially compared to many of my adoptive mama friends.  Regardless though, it's enough for me to know that for some reason, the 5th birthday seems to get me all choked up.  It's the age when they are no longer a toddler/preschooler.  The age, at least it feels for me, when they kind of grow up overnight.  Five.  School age.  No longer a "baby" ... but becoming a little person.

Let me tell ya, I am so thankful for this homeschooling thing.  It makes Lovebug's fifth birthday easier to digest because I know I still get to be with him everyday.  And oh how I love being with him, just to soak in any bit of him that I can.  The little guy he is growing into is seriously remarkable.  I am in awe of his precious heart ... the way he cares for others, it's truly inspiring.  And God gave him to me here on Earth to raise.  One blessed mama, I am.  Ahhhh, I just can't get enough of my little man.  I see Jesus' heart in him more and more everyday ... that is something to give praises for.

Happy Fifth Birthday to my special little Lovebug.  I can't tell ya'll how blessed I feel knowing that I am the mama that gets to watch him grow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Am The Church

On Sunday, our family participated in an awesome church-wide event.  Instead of going to church on Sunday morning, we went out in the community to "Be The Church."  There was a sign on the church door that said: "The church has left the building."  LOL.  Fitting.  We all went out into different parts of the community to share God's love by serving others.  We hoped to share God's grace with others in many different ways.  The types of service varied greatly - some with large groups from church, others with just one family.  Some groups visited people, some made meals, some went to local trails to pass out water and granola bars, some went to the local hospital to pass out doughnuts to nurses.  There were tons of service ideas that I don't even know about.  The point was simply to get out and BE the church by serving others ... not evangelizing, just serving and sharing God's love.

DH and I led a group at a local park - we passed out free water bottles, munchkins and coffee.  Many of the park-goers there weren't sure what to make of us and just said "no thanks" whenever we offered.  I think the typical American response is "we don't want whatever you're selling."  It took a little while to make people understand that we didn't want to sell anything, we simply wanted to give.  There were a few families that stuck out - I know we blessed them.  One family was so happy that we had left our church to come be with the community, the dad just kept saying "thank you" over and over again.  It was totally precious.  Another family, as they were driving away in their car, had their arms hanging out the window to waive goodbye.  They had such big smiles on their faces, well I just know we blessed their day too.  And only God knows how many other families we may have blessed somehow that we didn't even know.  It was a cool day, the kids really enjoyed it.

And if that wasn't enough, we had a touching celebration worship that evening back at church.  The service brought me to tears several times as I stood in awe of our amazing Creator.  What an awesome, everlasting God we serve.  It can be easy to forget that people are the church, not the building.  We are the hands and feet of Jesus.  You and me.  This event was a great reminder.  As our church continues to share God's love while serving others in the community, I want my life to glorify Him more and more every day.  I know I fall short daily, hourly, minute by minute.  But I pray that through Him, I will lose more of myself in service to Him.  And hopefully in that process, bring more people to Christ.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Timeline

Part of an early Classical Education is memorization.  Lots of memorization.  I love it.  And believe it or not, the kids do too.  They beam with pride when they are able to recall the Classifications of Living Things or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Much of the facts are put to song.  And let's face it ... when you have a song memorized, it just sticks with you.  Pretty much forever.  One of our most favorite things to memorize is The Timeline.  It's a song of 161 world events beginning with Creation and ending with present day.  The song is over 13 minutes long.  And yes absolutely, the kids are indeed memorizing it, and enjoying every bit of it.  The song has a lot of hand motions (many of them are derivatives of ASL), and Sunshine has latched onto them as much as the older 2!

In order for the kids to have a visual for The Timeline (so they could see how the different events relate to each other), I created our Homeschool Room Timeline.  It was simple and cheap enough to put together, although a little time-consuming.  It's made from that poster/presentation foam board stuff (the one that has 2 flaps that fold in).  I used three of the flaps (purely a guess based on how much space I had on the wall), lined them up, and taped them together on the back.  And I then created The Timeline based on the events we're memorizing.  I attached it to the wall above the kids' desks in our Homeschool Room.  There's enough room that I can add more if/when the time comes.  There were a few spots where I wish I had given myself more room, especially around the 1800's!  It's not perfect or professional, but it works for our purposes :-)  If you don't have a designated Homeschool Room, a Timeline like this could easily be made to fold up and pull out when being used.

To help with the other facts we are learning each week, I'm using this magnetic/dry erase board from Ikea.  I asked DH to hang it on the wall so that I could pull it down to change it each week - I really like how it works for us.  I don't know if the kids are referring to it all that much, but I am finding it very helpful.  I'm also eventually planning on hanging some of that wire stuff from Ikea to hang out Timeline cards and Science cards (with clothespins) as more visuals.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Speech Therapy Evaluation

To be honest, I was dreading Sunshine's speech therapy evaluation on Thursday.  After her less-than-enthusiastic approach to physical therapy, I was pretty well convinced that speech would be the same.  The 7 months of PT was just not a likable experience despite our amazing and thoughtful therapist.  Sunshine doesn't take well to new people ... she hasn't since we brought her home.  And I'm 100% ok with that, even though it makes many situations uncomfortable.  But she's 3 months palate repair post-op now and I knew that at this point, I was simply dragging my feet on scheduling it.  It was definitely time for it.  So the evaluation was scheduled.  During nap time, naturally.

Although timid and not willing to "perform" at first, I was happily shocked to see that Sunshine began opening up and interacting with the therapists.  She had a speech therapist and a special needs educator here to evaluate her and both brought lots of fun toys to keep her interest.  Before we knew it, Sunshine was very interested in what cool tricks the therapists had up their sleeves.  She easily answered their questions and passed many of their tests with flying colors, despite her non-verbal communication.  She was even able to demonstrate mastery of a few 3-year-old level skills!  They said multiple times, "Oh, she's very smart."  Of course we know that already, but it's nice to hear that reinforcement.  They also commented that she had a large attention span (read: she is very determined and doesn't stop until she "gets it"), based on how long she stuck with one task.  She's still hasn't mastered several other "younger" skills though, so she qualified as over 25% delayed in several categories.  She also automatically qualified for services because of her cleft.

After 90 minutes of "playing" and questions, here is the breakdown of her assessment at 28 months old:

Cognitive (playing, thinking, and exploring): 26 months
Communication (understanding others and expressing herself): 20 months
Social or Emotional (emotions, feelings, interacting with others): 22 months
Adaptive (eating, drinking, toileting, and doing for herself): 19 months
Fine Motor (using my hands for play, feeding or other activity): 22 months
Gross Motor (moving her body to change position or location): 22 months

They assessed her at 20 months for communication (which was much older than I thought she'd score) because of how good her receptive language is (what she understands) in combination with her expressive communication through sign.  They said that without these 2 factors, her assessment would have been much lower.  They also said that her receptive language and ASL knowledge were so significant, that they just couldn't ignore it for the assessment. (Yay for ASL!)  Some of their reasoning for other parts of the assessment I question a little, simply because I know that all children learn and master new skills at their own pace ... so I have a difficult time with boxing Sunshine into certain categories.  But either way, extra help is always a good thing!

So we worked up a bunch of goals and someone will be in touch with me to start scheduling therapy!  We'll most likely have speech therapy once a week and then meet with a special needs educator about once a month to help with the non-verbal stuff.  I also want to share another suggestion they gave me:

Because she can successfully use the consonant "m" (seriously, ask anyone who is around her for more than 5 minutes ... mama, mama, MAAMAAA, maaaa, MA!!!!), they suggested working with her to use the "m" sound to make more words ... any kind of words.  "Mooo" for cow, "more," "me" ... anything with a "m" that makes a sound.  They said that repetition is absolutely key here.  So that's what we've been working on for the last few days, and we've had some very positive results!  She has a difficult time putting the "m" sound and the next sound together to make one fluid word, but she is creating the sounds separately.  I'll take that progress for now!  Right now, I am focusing on "me" and "more" ... she is responding positively, so I'll continue on that track.

This speech therapy thing is all new territory for me, so if any other BTDT mamas have any advice, I am all ears!  I would love any suggestions you could offer.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Fit for an Emperor

Homeschool isn't always glue and glitter (there is definitely "boring" stuff too, promise!) ... but we had fun this week learning about the Roman Empire.  I try to make history and science interesting for the kids by including related projects and activities; and it seems to be doing the trick because History is Angel's favorite subject (wahoo!).  Today we created our own crowns after Emperor Nero, they had a blast, as you can see.

When you allow the kids to have unlimited access to scissors, glue, glitter, buttons, stickers, stamps and all things messy ... it is sure to be a success in their eyes, right?

Sunshine was in Heaven with her very own pair of scissors for this project.  Thankfully, no hairs on her head were harmed during the making of this crown (thank you Kelly Raudenbush for making me teensy bit nervous about it!).

We will be continuing our study of the Roman Empire into next week too.  Angel is especially excited about building Roman columns with cookie dough and then eating, um I mean "smashing," said columns like the Barbarians did.  Hopefully I will remember to grab my camera for that one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Ten Ways to Destroy the Intelligence of Your Child"

This article was written for and published on the Classical Conversations website.  These are not my words, but I wanted to repost it here because I think some (or all) of it can pertain to so many kids these days.  As just one example, I hear from multiple public school teachers that many children cannot write complete sentences with proper grammar and punctuation, even in middle school.  They say that grammar is not even being taught in public schools anymore ... really?!  I know this is not the case in all schools, but it is certainly concerning to hear about it in any school.  If kids are not taught the basic fundamental building blocks of education, how can they be expected to succeed?

I did not post this article to make it sound like all of the answers are right here ... I truly do not believe that.  There are many different valid ways to teach children that are proven to be effective.  But I do think these points offer some thought-provoking concepts that were once considered normal ideas.  The original article was posted HERE - it is meant to be funny.

"1. Away with Memory, or: “That’s Why We Have Calculators and Google.” I didn’t memorize facts in school and I turned out okay. Trust me. I take the time necessary to whip out my smart phone and pull up the calculator app, or open the browser and navigate to Google, so why should my child be able to calculate 14 x 13 in his head when I don’t have to? Why should he—without Google—be able to tell me when the fall of Rome happened? It’s not fair and I don’t need him showing me up. Certainly you don’t want your child showing you up anymore than I do. Forbid memorization. Not only will he not be able to recite facts quicker than you, but he won’t be creative either. The Greeks were on to something. They identified the Muses, those inspirations for creative poetry and song, as the children of Memory. The Memory allows your child to pull from an assortment of facts and information to creatively link them together into a poem, song, or story. Who wants a child capable of outshining them creatively? Not me, so ban memorization. 

2. Grammar Is for Nerds, or: “You’ll Know What I Mean, Anyway.” We all hate those people who correct our grammar; they are annoying. You know who I am talking about. I mean, you know about whom I am speaking. We certainly don’t want to raise a child who is going to be one of them—constantly correcting our grammar. Furthermore, your child might actually start communicating effectively. Using proper grammar and syntax allows communicators to convey their message with less confusion; the next thing you know, they’ll start believing that truth is not only knowable but also communicable. When that happens, civilizations start changing and conforming to the truth they know and communicate. I happen to like our culture as it is, as I’m sure you do. Not only that, but grammar is one of those “cultural” conventions. We are expected to obey grammar rules, not because they are a law whose violation will have us punished, but because, culturally, we have agreed to abide by them. This is why grammar rules differ from language to language and even within the same language across cultures. British English has different conventions than American English. Culturally, we have agreed upon these conventions. To teach children to abide by these arbitrary conventions is to teach them to do something out of love for their neighbors. Once there was a teacher who taught his students to love God and to love their neighbors, and his students turned the world upside down. Is that what you want of your children? I didn’t think so, so ban grammar lessons. 
3. Structure Is Inhibiting, or: “Creativity Doesn’t Need Rules.” Teach your child to be creative for the sake of creativity. Or, if you really want to get down to the root of it, for the sake of self. Get him to be concerned only with sharing his thoughts and his ideas; focus on self. Start teaching him structure and form for his creativity, whether you are studying writing or music or sports, and he’ll gain confidence in sharing ideas. Not only that, but those ideas won’t be so selfish; he’ll start wanting to share ideals toward which—he’ll claim—people and cultures should strive. All that intelligence is going to lead him to aspirations, and aspirations will make him better than us. Ban structure and forms.  
4. Discussions Are Disguised Arguments, or: “Teach Him What to Think, Not How to Think.” I’ve heard that in some educational circles there is a revival of Socratic dialogue. This occurs when our children sit around and debate ideas respectfully and honorably. We all know the problem here. First, discussion is just an argument in disguise, an argument that the kid is going to bring home and try to have with me. Clearly, I’m not prepared to have a conversation about “Play-dough” and his cavern, so I don’t need conversation with other kids encouraging my kid to embarrass me. The alternative is that I have to start reading that stuff, and I’m just fine the way I am. Second, when children participate in such conversations, we all know they are secretly learning how to think. If I’d wanted that, I wouldn’t have spent all my time telling my children what to think. Avoid these arguments in disguise.  
5. Latin Is Dead, or: “Pig Latin Is at Least Entertaining.” Learning a language like Latin—a dead language—is a deadly language to learn if I want my child to be less intelligent than I am. First, learning Latin will make your child better at English (see rule #2 above), since both his grammar and vocabulary will improve. Second, Latin will give your child access to literature that is dangerous (see rule #6 below). All of these old books, like Virgil’s Aeneid, are so much better when read in the original language—dangerous stuff! Third, Latin will teach your child how to think (see rule #4 above). This isn’t always a clear one, but consider the word for “stuff”: When I think of stuff, I think of it as all of the stuff I want—stuff to collect, stuff to have. When the Romans thought of stuff, they thought of impedimentum, from which we derive the word impediment. Impediments are bad; you only want to have what is necessary because excess stuff slows you down, holds you back. Imagine our children thinking differently like that, much less thinking at all! Latin is dead; let’s leave it that way. 
6. Ideals Inspire, or: “Television Is the Way to Go.” I don’t have a lot to fear when my children are watching television. What I mean is this: My child isn’t going to get himself up from the sofa and change the world because of a Nickelodeon show. Television distracts him, pacifies him, keeps him…well…more like a vegetable—and vegetables aren’t dangerous! Literature, however, is much worse. Books have heroes and representatives of virtues like courage and bravery that scare the Dickens out of me! Do you want a son who’s going to slay dragons, a daughter who will fly around the globe, a child who will wander the seas for ten years facing all manner of creatures and dangers just to get home to his wife and to fend off inhospitable busybodies? Then put your child’s nose in books. As for me, well, I want my child to be near home and safe. I want him to be like everyone else, working his nine-to-five job, unhappy but satisfied because he can complain about it with the rest of us. Oh, and don’t think the really old stuff is safe. By no means! The old stuff, especially if your child can read it in the original language, is worse than anything we moderns have been able to write!  
7. God Is a Clockmaker, or: “Don’t Worry, I’ve Got This.” Just hear me now. Keep God out of this. He got this place going and now He’s sitting back to enjoy the show. You start teaching your child that God makes a difference in life and you are in for trouble. If we teach our children that they can handle this world if they just put their minds to it, then we’ll end up with children who fail just like the rest of us—exactly as it should be. If we teach our children that they can do nothing apart from God, and they actually start trusting and depending on God, then you are in for some serious problems. That little fellow will be willing to try and do things people wouldn’t dream of. I heard one time that Christopher Columbus sailed the globe because he wanted to tell the Asians on the other side of it about God! Life is complicated enough, we don’t need smart kids growing up doing things we ourselves weren’t smart enough or brave enough to do! God causes other problems, too. Children who are taught that God is personal and active, especially if they believe it, start seeing goodness in things I don’t see it in. They start seeing beauty in crazy things, like math and science. They start seeing truth, where I’m not even sure it exists. They start seeing God as not only influential in all the areas they study, but as some sort of integrating concept between the areas of study. Then, when you are trying to have a conversation about history, they start seeing connections with Shakespeare. It’s really annoying! Keep them at home, and keep them away from that God talk.  
8. Leading Makes Leaders, or: “To Stay the Boss, You Have to Be the Boss.” There are some crazy people who bring their children together to learn once a week and at these meetings they let their sixteen-, seventeen-, and eighteen–year-old children teach the class! I shouldn’t even have to tell you this, but leading begets leaders! You allow your children to practice leading (and teaching, for that matter) and they learn how to be leaders (and teachers—which means they’ll be correcting your grammar again). Leaders don’t sit at home and do nothing; they don’t just participate in the daily grind. They change societies and make new worlds. And, they are pretty smart. Don’t even let them pretend to lead, if you don’t want them to become leaders—trust me.  
9. No Master Teachers, or: “Specialize, Specialize, Specialize!” Those same crazy people who meet once a week and let their children lead classes are the same crazy people who have one teacher teach all the subjects. Don’t underestimate the danger of this model. You are inclined to think this will keep your child dumber—which, of course, is our goal—because the person teaching him can’t possibly be good at every subject. Don’t be naïve; it is the opposite that is true! When six different specialists teach your child six different subjects, he assumes this is the case because it isn’t possible to be good at more than one or two subjects. So, he himself will only strive to accomplish what he is subconsciously convinced is possible—to excel in just one or two subjects. When one master teacher teaches your child all six subjects, he assumes this is because it is possible to master all six subjects—even if the master teacher is slightly deficient compared to the specialist in a given subject. So, he himself will strive to accomplish what he is convinced is possible—excellence in all subjects. What better way exists to make your child smarter than you, but to make him a master of everything? That’s why I say, specialize, specialize, specialize.  
10. Integration Improves Vision, or: “You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated.” I have hinted at this in rules #7 and #9, but it deserves its own rule. If you allow your children to see integration between subjects, whether it is because they see God as the integrating factor or because they have a master teacher that integrates—or worse: they see both!—you will raise a child with vision. This is bad. It is bad because I’m not talking about vision, like being 20/20. I’m talking about vision like being able to see things others can’t see. For example, they will see connections between things that others do not see. That doesn’t sound so bad, but it (a) is really annoying to keep having them pointed out to you, and (b) allows children to understand things because of those connections that no one else can understand. Another example is that they will start seeing where people—especially you, mom or dad—are not living consistently across their worldview. They will see you apply one standard to economics, another to politics, another to neighborliness, and another to church. Because they see all of their subjects as being integrated by God, they assume God integrates everything in life, and they demand consistency. It’s dangerous and it’s annoying. You have got to keep everything separated!  
This article was written intentionally to be ironic and witty. I hope you understand it that way. Both Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, and Leigh Bortins’ interview of Anthony Esolen on her internet radio show, “Leigh at Lunch” inspired this article. I hope you enjoy. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me, the author, Matt Bianco, at"

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Doing so well

My brother isn't around the kids very often, but when he is .... oh boy the kids have fun.  He turns into a human jungle jim and does all sorts of crazy flips with them and is just an all-around silly guy.   

When I came home from a much-needed haircut on Friday, I found him at my house with my dad (who was babysitting for me so I could could get said much-needed haircut), along with the kids.  When I walked in the door, I saw him carrying Sunshine around on his back all around the house and he looked at me and said, "Wow, she's doing so well."  And then they went off again.

Yes indeed, she is doing well.  At the last family function, she would have had nothing to do with my brothers.  Yesterday was a first, she finally figured out that he was "safe" and maybe kinda fun.  To see her running around the house with Uncle Chris?  Oh it warms my heart.  She couldn't get enough of him and kept going back for more.  You see, this "doing well" thing ... it happens so gradually most of the time that I don't even notice it.  Until one day I do, and it's so obvious that it just sticks out like a soar thumb.  I love watching her continue to blossom in front of my eyes, it's a beautiful process!

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, October 5, 2012

Jello Plant Cell Models

This project was more about process than product, LOL.  Originally the idea was that the candy pieces would represent the parts of a plant cell ... the cytoplasm was the jello and the kids then had creative freedom to come up with the rest of the parts.  The cells ended up being more like jello with candy on top and the labels didn't make it into the mix, but the kids had SO MUCH fun.  And we got to spend some time with our cousins, so life was pretty good.  I'm not sure that this is a good representation of a homeschool project, but it sure does represent quality time with family :-)

I paired this project up with a short lesson from God's Design for Science ... man I'm really enjoying that curriculum!  It's a science curriculum with a Christian worldview ... ummmm, yes please!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Huffington Post picture

Don't have any clue what my title means?  Here's the Huffington Post article of which I speak.  I tell moms all the time to get in front of the camera, even if it means they don't look their best because their makeup and hair aren't done or they haven't had a shower.  I feel so passionately about this topic that I actually devote a few slides to it in the SHOOT MY KIDS! Workshop!  I took this with my timer because the 24-70L makes my camera too heavy to handhold, but handholding is another option too!  So here we are getting our homeschool on!  Oh I love this crew!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beyond Ordinary

"Ordinary is the biggest enemy of a great marriage. Ordinary is characterized by dissatisfaction, misunderstanding, and stale love. Ordinary is the birthplace of adultery. Ordinary is a place where divorce looks better than staying together. Ordinary is the subtle trap that convinces you that your marriage is as good as it will ever get. Ordinary marriages lose hope. Ordinary marriages lose vision. Ordinary marriages give in to compromise. The way to an ordinary marriage is the path of least resistance. If you want an extraordinary marriage, you will have to choose it."

-Beyond Ordinary

Have you ever visited the Refine Us blog?  It's a great resource for marriage written by husband/wife team, Justin and Trisha.  I love that they discuss marriage topics from a Christian perspective, and they don't hold anything back.  I read their blog often.  You can read about the 8 Things That Destroyed Their Marriage on their blog.  No matter where you are in your marriage, I promise you will absolutely be blessed by reading their posts!  They have written a book, Beyond Ordinary, that releases January 1, 2013.  Based on what I read on their blog, I am sure the book is going to be fantastic.  They have graciously published the first chapter of the book for FREE.  Wanna read it?  CLICK HERE!  If you like what you read, please consider pre-ordering their book!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Celebrating differences

I posted a few weeks back about my son's giving heart and how he helped his sister buy a doll at Target.  What I didn't mention in that post was that the doll is not an ordinary baby doll.  Angel saw it months back and was instantly attracted to it.  Despite the multiple dolls she already has, she knew that this one had to be hers because it's different.  She is beautiful and adorned with colorful clothing and pretty jewelry.  She has henna tattoos, long dark hair and gorgeous dark skin.  Her name is Nahji and she is Indian ... and just as pretty as can be.  She is one of Angel's most-favorite dolls.  Angel likes to take her everywhere we go.  She has also become totally intrigued with Indian culture and wants to know as much about India as she can.  She wants to visit India.  She even told me at one point that she wished she was Indian.

I think of this story as a metaphor for her feelings about people.  It so clearly shows that Angel doesn't see differences in people as a bad thing.  She sees people as people, and loves that God creates all of us differently.  To her, differences are beautiful and natural, just as God intended them be.  Instead of wanting a doll that looks like her, Angel happily celebrates Nahji's physical differences and her Indian heritage.

I can't help but wonder how much international adoption has played a role in the development of her feelings.  I'm sure that she would feel this way regardless, but I truly believe that her heart has been opened to the beauty of our differences even more because we have welcomed Chinese culture into our family through adoption.  Although adoption is hard, it has had such a positive impact on our family in so many ways ... ways I didn't know would be impacted.  I am proud to be a multi-racial family and love watching my children grow in their celebration of all God's people.

(If you are interested in snagging a doll like Nahji for your daughter, please visit the Hearts 4 Hearts website and browse through the dolls they have available from several different countries.  A portion of the doll purchases are donated to World Vision to help girls in the countries that the dolls represent.)