Now that Patriot is in full-time school and I've started working outside the home, we've seen a major change in our daily schedule. Of his waking hours, he spends 7 at school, 2 in after-school care, and 3 constructive hours with us as a family (I'm not counting things like brushing teeth and riding the school bus). Part of that constructive time is making and eating breakfast and dinner, and about 45 minutes a day is homework. Yes, homework. In Kindergarten.

I am a big believer in education. I truly believe that learning to learn is a huge factor in future success. Our public school systems may not be perfect, but I think succeeding in public school helps kids learn how to succeed in the world after school. But daily homework in Kindergarten seems like a little much.

We had our first teacher conference last week and his teacher said he's doing great. She's giving him extra work in class because he's advancing so quickly in reading and writing. She said he's one of the top kids in his class. Then she handed us a full-page list of EXTRA activities, customized to Patriot's skill level, that we can complete with him at home. In addition to our regular homework.


In an average week, Patriot spends about 1 hour at church. We try to spend about 15 minutes every morning doing "God Time," a brief devotional that our church sends home each week. We pray together for about 15 seconds before dinner every night. We read a Bible story before bed about 4 times a week. And we say a prayer when we tuck them in at night.

I'm not going to do the math because it would probably make me cry. But his number of minutes spent on school far outweigh the number of minutes we spend on faith-building. And now we're being asked to do more school activities? I am not OK with this.

So we've made a change this week. I talked with his day care about doing homework with him before we pick him up. That gives us back those 45 minutes a day. And I've made the conscious decision to not do the extra activities with him. Instead of talking about the difference between a period and an exclamation point, I'm going to talk about Godly virtues like respect or courage (or whatever they're teaching at church that month). Instead of taking time to build his math skills, I'm going to teach him to build his relationships within the family and with friends.

I am not going to spend my time doing activities with him that anyone else could do. I am going to use my time with him to teach him the things that only I can teach.
So Azlan continues to entertain us with his music. His latest favorite is to "mashup" his favorite songs all into one. BTW, don't judge me when you hear what his favorite songs are ...

So that was "Baby" by Justin Bieber, "Battlefield" by Jordin Sparks, "Hey Soul Sister" by Train, all concluded with a rousing rendition of "Space Jam" by Quad City DJs.

He did this completely on his own, even his own choreography. Since we took this video, he's started working on a Mashup of his favorite Bibleman songs. Not sure I'll be able to talk Matt into recording that ...
Our church has partnered with a Christian foster care organization to match Christian foster parents, support communities, and kids in need. They announced this partnership several weeks ago at church and I instantly got excited. For years, I've had a heart for families in desperate times and wanted a chance to physically help kids in need. Of course, I started having kids of my own and a baby or toddler's needs became all-encompassing. Maybe this was finally my chance!

I attended the orientation class last week and came home ready to sign up, but I knew Matt would be hesitant. We talked through the details and particulars, determining that it really could work (the support system this organization provides is very helpful!). Seemed like the biggest hurdle is fitting another kid in my car. We agreed that we should sleep on it and not make any decisions for a couple of days.

I woke up the next day and drove to work feeling certain I had an answer from God. But it wasn't the answer I expected, so I argued with Him a little bit. But arguing with God rarely nets anything but frustration, so I quickly abandoned that effort and accepted God's answer -- even though I still don't understand it. Matt and I talked and, fortunately, he was hearing the same thing from God: wait.

We've always taught the kids that God gives one of three answers to our requests: yes, no, or wait. "Wait" might be the hardest answer to hear. I feel ready to help these kids. I feel like our family could really make a difference. I feel like Matt and I are right now uniquely situated to invest in a child more deeply that we could as children's pastor. I feel like this could be why God has me right here. But God clearly said "not right now."

So, for now, I'll sign up for one of the support communities and help where I can. And I'll wait for God's green light to make a difference.
Azlan has really warmed up to his little day care class. He talks about his "best friends" in the class and, together, they have planned his entire birthday party already (two months early). He brings home drawings of dinosaurs and roller coasters. And he learns a bunch of new songs.

This one totally makes me smile.

A couple of months ago I noticed a misshapen, pale brown spot form on my forehead. The spot looked like I'd just missed the middle of my forehead during my daily sunscreen application. I was able to blend it with makeup and didn't think much about it. But when it didn't go away after a few days, I decided to see a dermatologist covered by our insurance. This is what he said: "As the pigment in our skin ages, it begins to react differently with our hormones and the sun, and some discoloration may appear."

What a minute! My pigment is aging!?! I. Am. Not. That. Old, Right?

But when a medical doctor tells me I'm getting old, I feel the need to take a moments pause and consider my life. I do need a coffee IV to get started in the morning. I do get up pre-dawn and like it. I do think the music at church is sometimes too loud. I do think the kids getting driver's licenses are getting younger each year. I do start sentences with "when I was a kid." I do enjoy bird-watching. I do . . .

. . . think I might be getting old. Or, am I just getting comfortable with myself? I feel like I'm entering a season where I'm accepting who I am, recognizing my strengths, and gaining confidence in my abilities. I've lived long enough to learn who God made me to be. I've had enough life experience to learn what I'm made of, what I can handle and what I can't handle.

Most people probably come into this sense of self at about 17 years old. It's taken me almost twice as long. But with my years has come an acceptance of my weaknesses as well. I know I will never be perfect, and I'm OK with that.

But I will use the skin bleaching cream the dermatologist gave me -- doesn't hurt to erase some flaws.

Patriot started public kindergarten two weeks ago. Here's a link to video of him getting on the bus. Since school started, I've learned a few things like:
  1. never show up to a PTA function without your checkbook
  2. the school supply list is not comprehensive, you will need more stuff
  3. discuss rules for sharing DS games before the first day
  4. it's OK for the bus to be late to the bus stop, but not for us to be late
I've also had a few conversations with Patriot that I hadn't anticipated. At dinner after the third day of school, Patriot casually asked me, "Mom, when are you and Daddy going to break up and marry other people?" I assured him that his family was secure, but I was a little stunned he had already noticed such a difference with other families. After thinking for a bit, I realized we haven't had much divorce/remarriage in our immediate circle of influence, so I guess we've just not talked about it.

People keep asking me how I'm doing with him starting school. Of course, I miss him during the day and pray often for his safety, but the most shocking thing is sending him out into the world without me. I'm used to being the protective cushion that guards him from concepts and experiences I deem inappropriate. I'm used to being the filter through which he experiences life. Suddenly, he has to create his own filter.

Fortunately, he's really good about telling me things when I ask the right questions. So our ride home tends to be filled with a question/answer that eventually leads us to conversations like the one about step-parents. Listening to how he views the world and helping him start to develop his filter has been the greatest joy of the last few weeks.
Since the last time I blogged, nearly everything has changed. Matt has changed careers. We've moved to the Atlanta area. We've joined a different church. Patriot has started elementary school. I've gone back to full-time work outside the home. Azlan has started full-time preschool. Just thinking about all this change makes me tired.

Even though so much has changed, many things remained the same. The four of us are still together. We are still a healthy bunch. Matt still likes his phone. Patriot still likes computer games. Azlan still tells jokes. Toodles still pees on the floor.

And ... I am still a very blessed mom.