Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thanks Forever

Our little man is getting more fun everyday!  He is such a happy and content little baby.   He spends his time smiling and looking at all the shiny wonders of our world (like our fan).   I spend hours just in marvel over the miracle he is.   I'm so thankful to his birthmom for giving him life because I can already tell he has a future full of possibilities.   His birthmom passed on her calm nature and he has this joy that just fills up the room.   I'm trying to savor every moment that I get to snuggle with him, rock him and stare at his gorgeous face because I know in a short time he will be taking on the world!

The other night I just laid in bed with him, praying and thanking God over and over again for the blessing he is in my life.   Tears just began streaming down.   I truly can not imagine life without him.  To think how many things had to fall perfectly into place for him to have landed in our arms brings me to my knees. My world has flipped.  I've never been so content in where I am in life.   I've always felt like God must have more in store for me and I always went searching for it in music.   Music has been my passion and I couldn't imagine being content unless I became successful in that area.   Oh how I was wrong.   I found my "something more" in this precious boy.   

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.   O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." Psalm 30:11-12

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Time

Do you ever wonder what God cares about?  When I take a step back I realize how much time and energy people put into things of this world and how flustered, angry and distraught they become over these same things.   I'm not saying I don't do the same.   I'm probably one of the worst offenders.  What if....just what if we put that same time and energy into spreading the good news?   What if we spent our days contemplating how we could walk up to that lady at work that spreads depression like poison ivy, and tell her there is hope?   How about I spend two hours to sit down and write a letter to a friend and tell them how having a relationship with Jesus Christ could transform their life and give them a new meaning and understanding of joy, peace, love, grace.  I wonder how the statistics of our worlds most political issues would stack up to the statistics of how many people leave this world never knowing of God's love, even though they were surrounded by His children?   Can any of this even be compared? How fulfilling it would be if I spent more time fighting for His Kingdom than fighting for matters of this world.  

My life has been changed, not once, but daily because of the relationship I have with God.   Why daily?  Because I mess up a lot.   I get caught up in the hours of sleep I didn't get, the things I didn't get to do, the people I had to "put up with", on and on and on and on.   Thankfully I can rest in the fact that God already knows I'm not perfect and that I never have to be because I never will be.   What matters to him is that I seek him.   He is jealous for my time, my willingness to become more like Him.    "I want to be better.   I don't like who I am.   I feel helpless."  The only way to be more like Him is to spend time with Him.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Time for Happy!

Ok, have I told anyone how much I love my little man?   He truly is the greatest gift from God!  I'm learning that he loves morning, which is not like his mommy :)  This morning he just spent an hour smiling and cooing.   I was absolutely in heaven!  Daily I'm reminded what a gift he is and I'm so thankful God brought us together.  There is so much joy found through having a child and I'm finding that being a mom was truly God's purpose for my life.   People always tell you there's nothing life becoming a parent and I really never understood what they mean....well, now I do.



I changed my settings so that only members of my blog will be allowed to make comments.    After reading a comment that a "Josh" left.   I do not appreciate people who seek out my blog to make personal attacks with misguided information and who choose to read between the lines and make their own accusations.  I do not know who this Josh is and it is frankly a little disturbing after his comment to know he is reading about my family.  I would encourage everyone to make their profiles private, as I had to learn the hard way.   If you are to make comments on people's blogs it is best if they know who you are.  I thought that my blog would be a neat way to keep family and friends updated on our family life, and yes I chose to write about a "touchy" subject because it was on my heart at the time.  I did not do so to offend anyone or offer up the opportunity for someone to use as a form to attack what I believe in so strongly, which is choice in education.   In fact my blog did not even talk about choice in education, so I am wondering who this individual is, how they knew that was something that I feel strongly about and how they found my blog.

I have been on the charter school debate for many years and one thing that I continue to be baffled by is how people can be so closed minded and are so intent on attacking the intention of those who want to provide options for students.  I have never said that traditional public schools, private schools, alternative schools, technical schools, or online schools are a bad choice.  In fact I believe quiet the contrary.  We need these choices because we are all individuals and we learn differently from one another.   As parents we need to have the choice to send our child to a school where they can learn to the best of their ability.   That may be the school who's district you reside in, or it may not be.  My husband and I will continually asses our child's needs and always place them where they will be able to thrive.

I apologize if I offended anyone on my blog, but then again, this is my space, where I can write about what I believe.  I truly think that is how we become wiser is by listening to other people's experiences and take on situations. If anyone knows who this "Josh" may be will you please let me know because I would like to find out how he knew so much information about me and how he found this blog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Education Reform

If you know me really well you know that I have strong political views and that I can get fired up about politics fairly easily.  If you don't know me all that well then you have probably never heard me talk politics.  I have no interest in arguing about topics unless I feel it will actually make a difference.  I know it is unlikely that I will change another persons view and it's even more unlikely that they will change mine from one conversation.   There is a topic that has been bred into my being, so I am going to talk politics now because this is a topic that is close to my heart, education.  My parents have been heavily involved in the education conversation and some extremely vital movements in education since I was 12.  While growing up the last thing I wanted to hear about was education, but look at me know and you would never know it. While in college I lobbied at the state house in the education committee.  I've been extremely involved in Liberty Public Charter School, based on the Harbor method, for several years (I was a teacher's aid and also taught computer)  until I had my son, which now I still plan to volunteer at the school.  My husband and I are also founders of a new school that will be built near our home that will be a sister school to Liberty.  I guess you could say I have lived and breathed education for 12 years.

We are so involved in these schools because they are educating our children the way they should be.  The teachers are hands on, involved and inspired to come to work daily with their best game.  They are rewarded for their hard work and innovative thinking, rather than just by the number of years they have been there or by test scores.  Text books are rarely used (only for math and science)  instead they are using interactive ways to engage these young people and keep them focused.  Student performance is off the charts and children who come in from other schools have tremendous growth within a years time.

You would think that this is all due to small class sizes, long contracts for teachers/tenure, and a whole lot of money.  Quiet the contrary!  The school runs on a fraction of the budget most surrounding schools have allocated to them.   Their class size ranges from 28-32 students and if there is an ineffective teacher in the classroom there would be no hesitation to let them go.  Because of their support from administration the teachers are able to set high expectations for attitude and performance.  Why do we belittle our children and expect so little of them?  They can and will rise to the challenge no matter their background, race, IQ or special needs.  At these schools, classes are managed better than most companies.  So, here is a school that is already putting in place many of the proposals Tom Luna is suggesting in the Education's working! If you strongly disagree with these proposals and if you feel taxes or money could fix the problems, then you haven't seen it in play.  I encourage you to seek out one of these schools that is making it happen and take a tour.  If you are asking our government to look under "every rock"  shouldn't you yourself?

There's experiences in my life that certainly sway my opinion as well.  Do you remember when you were in high school and you'd go to registration, look at your schedule and your heart would sink?  All because you got stuck in that one teachers class that everyone hated.  I'm not talking about the teacher that was just strict or the class that was really really hard.  I'm talking about the math teacher that I had who was spent 5 minutes at the beginning of class to go over 2 questions that several students got wrong and then went back to her desk while we read our text book, so she could sip coffee until her retirement came.  I'm talking about the teacher who I truly believe hated children.   She had no desire to meet with students who were struggling, or who said "are you stupid" to me when I asked a question that apparently was too ridiculous for her to answer.  I'm even talking about the teacher who students all loved and wanted to be in his class because he gave everyone A's and let you pass notes and hang out all class because he had a job that couldn't be taken away.   I have all the respect in the world for teachers, but I'm sorry those are not teachers.  Those are people with a free ride to a salary every year.   My husband puts his life on the line each and every day,  men and women are sent off to war to fight for our freedom, but at the end of the day, if they mess up, make one mistake, don't take their job seriously, do you think their Sergeant, Chief, or supervisor thinks twice before sending them on their way?  No.  Teachers should have the same fear, so they will have the same drive to do well every single day.   When do NFL stars have their best season?  That last year before their contract is up for renewal.

As far as the online classes,  I took one online class in college because it was only available online,  I did not do well, so I didn't take another online class. Even though there were certain classes only offered online and even though it would have been more convenient for me to take the class online, I avoided them like the plague.  This is most people's reasoning for not making students take an online class in high school.  So, let me get this right:
Colleges and University's are increasing their online classes and requiring most classes to be taken in that manner.
Study shows that most students will be required to take online classes in college

We should not prepare students to succeed in college by making them take online classes in high school, so they can get used to the difference.
We should not set up our students to excel in an ever increasing technological world
We do not believe students can learn how to take a class online, even though they can learn how to link their tweeter to their mybook and blog about their medical diagnosis from wiki all while updating their status?

I would have never opted for an online class in high school.  BUT I would have much rather failed an online class in high school instead of failing it in college where I was paying hundreds of dollars for it.  I do believe we need to implement a plan to educate students how to take online classes and how to benefit from them.  There needs to be a way to help these students prepare for their future.  I would have benefited from that in more ways than one.  I would have appreciated if my high school would have looked at what would help me do well in higher education rather than just my four years there.  Most company's are using online classes now to educate their staff on new policies and risk management topics.   If the purpose of high school is to prepare our students for a higher education and or future employment, then it is crucial that we train these students how to use technology for learning and how to successfully complete a class online before their college diploma, or future job is on the line.

I say all of this not get people riled up, but to encourage everyone to do exactly what we are asking of the government, look at the possibilities.  If you have not seen a school who has these policies in place, then you truly can not say it will not work.  And once you see it you can make judgements yourself, but I hope this will encourage you to seek out a school that has similar policies in place.  If you do not know of one please let me know and I can give you the name of several.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One of the perks of going through the adoption process were the classes our agency offered us.  They have everything from financial classes to classes that help you learn how to do your child's hair.   The most beneficial class we took ended up being a class that dealt with the questions adoptive parents might encounter about their child.  When we took the class I was floored by some of the testimony from fellow parents who had been asked questions or been put in situations that were very uncomfortable for them and their child.  At the time I really thought I would never encounter such things, I couldn't imagine people really would ask questions like that.  Here I am with my 7 week old precious boy and I have already been asked almost every single question they prepared us for in that class.  I don't believe these questions come from bad intentions, but I do believe they come from ignorance.  Today I had a shocking encounter at lunch and just really feel the need to share my experience in hopes that those of you who have adopted will find comfort in knowing you aren't the only one who's been asked these questions and for those of you who meet a child or couple that has a family built through adoption, you might understand how to be curious without offending anyone.

I'll set the scene, my friend and I were eating lunch and sitting in a booth.  A family of three (mother and two daughters, probably age 8 and 13) sat in the booth behind me.  As soon as they sat down the older daughter began googling over my little man...who wouldn't?  They asked the usual questions like; "How old is he? How much does he weigh?" My friend left the table for a moment and then the ignorant questions began to flow.  Here are a few examples of both their questions and my answers;
"So is his daddy black?"
     "Both his bithmom and birthdad were black and they chose us to be his parents, we adopted him."
"Where did you get him?"
     "He was born in Georgia"
"So why didn't his parents want him?"
     "His mother loved him very much and knew they couldn't take care of him, but could give him a better home."
"How much did it cost?"
     Thankfully at this time my friend walked back in and I didn't have to answer, but I would say contact an adoption agency if you are interested in those details.   Please don't ever ask a family directly unless they open that door.
"When he is old enough to understand will you let him go back to live with his real parents?"
     "We are his real parents and he will always live with us, but if he would like to meet his birthmom at some point and she would like the same then we of course will allow that."

Keep in mind all these questions came from a 13 year old and so I was probably a bit kinder in my response.  I understand children can be curious, but for goodness sake there were plenty of moments her mother could have explained that these were not questions to ask a stranger.

What I have a difficult time with are the questions that refer to my son as an object that you can get from someplace or that he isn't "really" ours and we aren't "really" his.  I want to educate those who haven't had adoption as a part of their lives, which is why I try to answer questions with a statement that shows a more appropriate way to ask in the future.  "Where was he born?"  "What is his heritage?"  And then there are questions that are just not OK to ask someone you have never met.   My hope is through educating people now the next time they run into a family that has adopted they will choose a better way to inquire about their family.  I also hope that my son will a) not have to hear, "Where did they get you?"  or, "Do you want to live with your real parents?"  BUT b) If he does hear those questions I pray that I will have set a good example of how to answer them without frustration and ultimately to be confident enough in our love and our family to not let them effect him.  I pray his identity will always be found in CHRIST and in CHRIST alone.

In hopes that this post does not come off rude, I hope that you can glean some light from my very uncomfortable situation I was in today.  Never would have thought one 13 year old would have covered every question from that class we sat in several months ago.   I guess it's good I've gotten all the awkward out this early in the game though, eh?

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Month of Firsts

This is such a fun stage to see Ryker going through.   There are so many firsts that we are experiencing with him.  He had his first smile, that wasn't just gas, and he had his first bath.

I'm falling more in love with this little boy everyday.  He is so sweet and I cherish our cuddle times.  Today I was trying to make dinner, clean the kitchen and put away the clothes.  I had him in the swing and he was  just whaling. I started to think to myself, "Why won't you let me put you down?  I just need to get a couple things done."  I stopped and realized before I know it he won't want to be held, he will want to run free all the time, and eventually he will probably be embarrassed to even hug me.  So, I am going to soak in this time that he screams when he can't cuddle with me and I'll save to dishes, the laundry, and the daily to-do's for when he is too old for that.