Life’s Challenges

Life is challenging right now.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just challenging.

Every day we see improvements in the boys, but every day we have challenges, especially with FS1.  As foster kids do, he came with baggage.  Every day we preach kindness and respect.  Every day we see him trying to demonstrate those things in little ways.  Knowing a little about the environment he came from, I have no doubt it’s a challenge for him, but he is putting forth great effort.

Kindness and respect is also something that Naomi is hearing a lot about these days.  She has been displaced as the youngest child in the family and while she was very excited about it at first, she isn’t always handling her new role in the best way.  Jealously has reared its ugly head more than a few times and time-out has become a popular past-time for both Naomi and FS1.  It’s one of the many challenges right now, but there are little signs that it’s improving.

FS2 has done remarkably well.  I recently found out that he was a co-sleeper.  I had a strong suspicion that was the case, but he wasn’t sleeping soundly with me the first few nights and has since become a pretty good crib sleeper.  We’ve learned that he HATES being covered up, so warm jammies take the place of a blanket and most nights now he sleeps thru the night.

Teething has been another challenge we’ve been facing.  FS2 came to us with 4 bottom teeth and a ton of drool.  This week his first top tooth emerged and 3 others on trying to work their way thru.  He has had some rough moments with the teeth since being here, but overall he has proven to be a pretty happy little guy and is attaching and bonding well.  He has made it clear that he prefers me and will whip his head around when he hears my voice.  He also cries when I walk in the room and immediately wants me to pick him up.  He craves that attention and it’s challenging.  With 3 other kids to care for, I can’t give him all the attention he wants and probably needs, so we’re trying to find a good balance.  We’ll get there.

Lili has probably handled all the adjustments the best.  She went from the big sister of one to the big sister of three.  She has become a wonderful momma’s helper and enjoys caring for FS2 when my attention needs to be elsewhere.  She is learning how to feed him, will give him a bottle, but isn’t eager to jump in and change diapers yet.  Naomi, on the other hand, is all about the diapering.  She’s even willing to try changing dirty diapers.  Between the two of them, I’m just about set 🙂  Not too many challenges with Lili right now and that’s a good thing.

I took FS1 in for testing and he qualified for the pre-k program.  We now have the new challenge of sending him off to public school each day and getting our homeschooling done.  This is something new this week and we’ll find a good rhythm that works for us.  It’s just not going to happen this week.

Another challenge is the boy’s visits with mom and dad.  It’s part of the deal in foster care.  Parents need the opportunity to fix what was broken and kids need to continue their relationship with mom and dad while things are being fixed.  They’ve been with us 1 month on Sunday and they’ve had one visit with mom.  I really can’t go into detail, but I will say that punctuality doesn’t appear to be a strong trait of moms, so they’ve spent very little time with her and haven’t seen dad at all yet.  Getting regular weekly visits has been a challenge, but it’s much more a challenge for their case worker than it is for me.  My challenge comes in making sure they are ready and then sitting back and waiting to see if things will work out.  So far, it hasn’t worked out, but it’s early in the game.

Harvesting and preserving the harvest has also been a big challenge this year.  Getting sick really set me back and my energy level still hasn’t returned to normal.  I managed to pick tomatoes last weekend and canned 6 pints of tomato sauce, but that’s all I could handle.  I still have tomatoes that need to be canned and more tomatoes on the vine to be picked.  The weather has also hampered things.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain this summer and it’s raining as I type this.  I’ll do my best to get everything done, but between the kids, school, activities, and my recovery, it’s not going even close to what I had planned.

Hubby begins a new job on Tuesday.  It’s with the same company, just a new position, but we had to making some scheduling changes.  One of those changes was cancelling our cross-country field trip.  The boys were another reason we had to cancel.  We could have taken them, although we aren’t sure we could have taken them for two full weeks, but the bigger problem was hubby getting started in the new job.  I can’t provide details other than to say that it was a slow process moving into this new role and the customer wanted him in the job weeks ago, so taking 1-2 weeks off right now really wouldn’t have been the best decision for his career.  So we cancelled for now and will work to reschedule it for a later date.  My challenge now is not focusing on the fact that we were to leave early tomorrow morning on this trip and instead we’ll be staying home.

Like I said, we have challenges, but they are manageable challenges and aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

There is one other challenge as well and that’s my computer.  It’s beginning to die a slow death and we’ll be replaced soon.  As such, I’m limiting my computer time and not uploading pictures until I have a new computer to use.  Of course I can’t share pictures of FS1 or FS2 and I do apologize for the lack of pictures on my blog.  For now, I’ll share some picture quotes which seem very applicable to my life right now.

Would You Ever Homeschool Part II

Several weeks ago I did a post called “Would You Ever Homeschool.”  With our oldest daughter finishing pre-school and getting ready to enter kindergarten in the fall, we had started having serious conversation about our plans for her in the fall.  It really was easy for me to make the decision to not send her to public school.  I researched our other options with the #1 choice being private school.  I applied for her to attend a local university laboratory school, visited a local private school and added homeschooling on the list as the last resort.

Fast forward several weeks . . . .  she didn’t make the cut for the university laboratory school (644 applications for 26 openings in K-8th grade)and there were some things I was uncomfortable with regarding private school (primarily the cost).  I should have known that my last resort would become the best choice for our family.  So to answer my own question – Yes, I would consider homeschool.  Honestly, as I researched and learned more about homeschooling, I found myself hoping that she wouldn’t be accepted into the laboratory program and it was easy to cross private school off the list.

Pre-school will end in less than a month and I’m spending the next few weeks researching more about homeschooling, trying to determine which curriculum will work best for the girls, finding homeschool groups and co-ops, and getting our ‘classroom’ set up.

Here are a few pieces of information I have recently learned about homeschooling.

– In the 1970’s, homeschooling was basically extinct.  Today, there are approximately 2,000,000 school-aged children in homeschool programs.  http://nheri.org/

– Progress Report:2009 reports that Homeschooled students consistently ranked at least 34 percent higher on average  percentile scores than public school students.  http://www.ehow.com/about_5371898_homeschooling.html.

– There is a wide variety of homeschool programs.  Classical; DVD, Internet and Video; Waldorf Education Method; Eclectic; Charlotte Mason Method; Unit Studies; Montessori Method; and Unschooling to name a few.  I’m quite sure we’ll do an eclectic style of year round school and I hope to begin in June.

– The curriculum available for homeschool families is enough to make my head spin, but I’m really having a good time trying to figure out the best curriculum for both girls.

– Homeschool fees and expenses are tax-deductible in the State of Illinois.  BONUS!!  I’m so happy someone told me about this.

– There are a lot more homeschool groups and co-ops in my area than I thought.

– There are gyms, music programs, etc. that have programs set up specifically for children in homeschool programs.

The World of Weeks Education Center is a work in progress.  I’m quite sure we will experience a lot of trial and error, but as I discover and learn new things about homeschooling, I find myself becoming more and more excited about the opportunities and possibilities ahead.  Hopefully I can nurture a similar level of excitement in Lili and Naomi which will most certainly make this new adventure a success.