May 31, 2009

Charity toward the inner thirteeny

It's been a while since I posted.

I'm feeling a little angsty right now. I don't like feeling like people depend on me, this is something I have realized. How silly is that? I am the DEFINITION of depended upon. Mom, wife, beehive advisor, friend, homeschooler, etc etc etc. Today I feel like shirking it all, holing up in my room and playing Civilization IV for five hours.

I've been reading my journal lately in preparation for the YW lesson I gave today on personal records. I realized I was kind of a brat when I was 13. But I had a lot of good qualities, too. It's funny, the two other women who read entries from their journals were also embarrassed by how silly they felt they were; how "shallow" or "wrapped up in unimportant things"...

do we put too much pressure on our young selves? I wonder if this leads to putting too much pressure on our own children, particularly our firstborn children. I felt like my parents came down pretty hard on me when I was that age. A piece of me reads this 13 year old version of myself and is a little disgusted, and I wonder if that's not a ridiculous, uncharitable way to be. I wonder if I'm going to be as critical of myself when I read my blog and journal entries in another sixteen years.

Maybe this is the most difficult aspect of "not judging," giving ourselves, in our weaknesses and periods of growth and youth, a break.

Just some things I've been pondering.

May 18, 2009

A Motley Vision

A new favorite site. I have a small, tenuous spark of hope that I might be able to get brave enough to comment. They have offered for me to author an article on electronic media... podcast novels and blogfiction. I'm hoping that, at the same time, they'll allow me to put in a plug for the podcast novel I am currently working on.

(Yes! A podcast novel! And it will be free... and fun, I hope. And possibly the first free, LDS fiction in the form of podcast. Aren't I oddly ambitious?)

ANyway, I've written the entire thing, and proofread it, and now am recording it in episodes. After all my episodes are recorded, I will begin releasing them serially on a weekly basis. I'm totally excited... I love this story, and love being a part of the Utah and Mormon writing communities, and I hope that my novel will take off so that many others will enjoy the story, too.

May 17, 2009

Obama: 2 misnomers

When my friends somehow find out (probably the series of bumper stickers on my poop covered intrepid) that I'm an Obama supporter, these are the two things I hear after all the normal silliness about fascism and dictatorships and socialism etc etc.

Misnomer # 1) Obama wants to kill lots of babies.

Quote: "Obama supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare." Full text Here.

Sounds to me like it's not imcompatible with this, other statement:

"Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer." Full text here.

Misnomer #2: Obama is pro gay marriage.

I don't understand where anyone comes up with this. Obama has actually caught a lot of heat from the more liberal elements of his party (and from his GLBT constituents), for his stance on gay marriage, which is this:

Although Barack Obama has said that he supports civil unions, he is against gay marriage. In an interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune, Obama said, "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."

Full text here.

So, with that off my chest...

is anyone else absolutely thrilled at the nomination of Gov. Huntsman as ambassador to China? Not only because Huntsman will make a GREAT chinese ambassador (speaks fluent Mandarin, has an adopted chinese daughter, close ties with the culture) and is another example of Mormon Stellar Politician put in the political spotlight but...

because Obama picked him. Even though he was co-chairman of John McCain's Presidential campaign.

I'm sad to see Huntsman go as governor. But Barack, you have earned some more love from me. I might not agree with you entirely on fiscal matters, but as a person, I admire you and as a politician, I admire the way you've lived up to your promise to try to "reach across party lines." As someone completely disenchanted by both parties, I can appreciate your lack of willingness to toe the line in every instance, and to reach across it to bring talent to your presidency.

*OK, done gushing now.*

May 8, 2009

Gearing up for the adoption: Learning it all, and then forgetting

In preparation for bringing home our two girls, I have read book after book and website after website on attachment, parenting children with problems/tragedy and issues, parenting in general, parenting black children in a white home, parenting foreign children in an American home, black hair care and skin care, Ethiopian culture, customs and traditions, and any other subject I could think of that may help.

Even before this, I have always had a fascination with adoption and attachment, and child trauma and grieving. Growing up, I knew a family who had adopted several older children out of the US foster care system. Some of the situations turned out wonderfully, and others were complete heartbreak for the adoptive family. Oddly, this is what initially inspired me to think about adoption for myself. I have no idea why... shouldn't something like that be a deterrent? I feel like the Spirit was telling me, even then, that this was what I was going to do, and that it would be difficult, yes, but I would do it and Heavenly Father would help me handle it.

In college I studied Psychology, with an emphasis on child developmental psych. I took the course and TA'd it, and did my end-of-year project on Adoption and Attachment disorders. In my technical writing class, I did my project on Adoption and Attachment disorders. I wrote several of my psych papers on... Adoption and Attachment disorders.

I joined the psych research lab of a prominent BYU child developmental psychologist, and headed up a massive lit review on Child Traumatic Grief. I've read Rutter, Bowlby, and many more modern attachment and child grief theorists. Rutter wrote over 300 articles, just thought I'd let you know. His work was with Romanian orphans and their adoptive families.

Add to that the hours of adoption classes our Homestudy Agency requires, and the email lists I have gleaned for three solid pages of referrals and information I might need...

I'm trying to forget it all.

As we take these final steps to prepare for bringing Woinshet and Meaza home, I realize that I have prepared as much as I could (over-prepared, to be honest)... and I don't want to put problems in where they aren't. I want to erase my mind of all that "could" happen and instead focus on our new kids. I don't want to borrow trouble, though I have prepared extensively for trouble. I don't want to be so trigger-happy, looking for trauma and maladjustment, that I create an issue where there really isn't one... or an attachment problem where really, it's just normal kids trying to adjust to a new mom who they don't know, and grieving the loss of a previous mom that I never knew.

I am bringing one, and only one book with me to Ethiopia when we leave: The Family Nobody Wanted, by Helen Doss. This book is the most positive, amazing, heartbreaking, touching tome on adoption I have ever read. It's a woman simply telling her own story...

Helen Doss and her husband, who was a protestant minister, discovered they could not have children. And so they decided to adopt. The first baby they brought home was stereotypically the perfect child, "fit right in" to their family. He was blond, and had no physical problems. They named him David, giving him the adoptive father's name. But Helen, who had always envisioned herself with a large family, got baby hungry again. At the agency, they told her it was unlikely she'd get another child, unless she was willing to take one that was "less acceptable." When she inquired what that meant, they brought her to see two little babies: a sweet, healthy, gorgeous little girl of Mexican heritage, who was labeled undesireable because of her race, and a little sickly, white baby girl with a large strawberry birthmark covering half her face.

She took them both.

And then she adopted nine more, all of various diverse ethnicities and situations. By the time she finished adopting, she was adopting older kids, she was adopting two at a time, she was taking in troubled foster children... and all of this during the 1940's and 50's, when there were no Angelina Jolies or Madonnas adopting foreign children and setting trends. This was during the time of World War II, when we here in America were putting American citizens into internment camps simply because of racial background. This was still during the time of Jim Crow, when segregation was the norm in large parts of the country. How did she do it? When you read this woman's book, you sense no bitterness, no agonizing over the difficulties she must have faced, no anger at those around her who made insensitive remarks. She quietly educated, and just expected her kids to be included. She helped them through tough spots, using her own religious beliefs and general friendliness to build bridges.

this woman is my hero. Go read her book. But be forewarned... you may end up convinced.

May 2, 2009

Taking the schooling off-grid

I've been homeschooling this last year, using the K12 program. Which, technically, is not homeschooling, because it's considered public school, funded by the government, tracked and assessed by teachers who are put in charge of contingencies of parents. We used the curriculum given to us, and tracked our lesson hours panstakingly, adding in our practicing and lessons and all to make sure we met state requirements.

This year we're going off-grid.

I'm so excited. I needed this last year to get myself organized; with the accountability I was able to force myself to stick to a schedule. And I didn't have to deal with both the overwhelming stress of being solely responsible for my child's education, as well as choosing all curriculum, during our first-time experience. All in all, I think it was a good choice. But I'm ready to take it all into my own hands.

The books we were given were OK. I thought the phonics program, for instance, was fabulous for Loli's first semester... so many manipulatives and neat games and fun things. But by the time we got into the second half, she knew everything and spending too much time on any one lesson bored her to the point of fidgeting, stalling, messing around with things at her desk, etc. So we just did the worksheets, and she still tested amazingly on every assessment. She's ready to move on. I think I'm ready, too.

I'm so excited. I've had a year in the homeschoolig coop to talk curriculum and preferences. I'm currently reading A Thomas Jefferson Education and it resonates sooooo well with what I feel and what I believe, and how I feel Loli especially would enjoy learning. Before the beginning of the next school year I also plan on finishing The Well Trained Mind and Diane Hopkins' Book.

The curriculum that I have chosen, based on what I have read, and the in-depth conversations and discussions in the homeschooling group:

Math: Saxon Math, level 2 Workbook and Homeschool Teacher's Guide.

Writing: Jr. Greatbooks series 2, 1st and 2nd semester

Handwriting Without Tears

Plus essay writing every day on the topics that we cover/book reports on the stories and books that are completed.

Reading: I am buying a bunch of paperbacks, starting with easier, shorter stories graduating to more challenging ones. The books I plan to do, in order are:

Addy Learns a Lesson (loli's already read the first book in the series)


Wayside School is Falling Down

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Charlotte's Web

A Little Princess

We'll see how many of those we get through. Yes, it's ambitious for second grade, but Skywalker (entirely homeschooled) was reading Ivanhoe at age 8, and Loli's already a ferociously amazing reader... and getting better at an astronomic rate. So I'm optomistic.

For Social Studies, we'll do the Story of the World audiobook, volume 1 (ancient times) in conjunction with Geopuzzles of Africa, Europe and Asia to learn geography. We already have a globe, too, which my kids love playing with.

For Science, We'll be utilizing A Charlotte Mason Study Guide. I was all set to get a giant book of science experiments to do in the home, too, but Loli informed me that she wants to learn about "all the animals in the world" so we'll be focusing on animals instead, using a set of jr worldbook encyclopedias that was gifted to us by my mother, and checking Iwitness and Nova videos from our local library. I'm still going to buy the Everything Kids Science Experiments book and do some experiments every once in a while.

I'm actually pretty dang excited. Which is a good sign... one thing I have realized is that, if I'm excited about something, Loli gets excited about it to. Honestly... that last sentence I wrote may be the big secret to successful homeschooling.