I can’t believe August is over… it just slipped by without me noticing. Or well, it went by while we jam-packed the whole month with a thousand things of fun.  I need to preface this whole list with the fact that we’ve decided to homeschool this year. We send our daughters to a very small Christian school. It’s amazing and wonderful and everything I want for my kids, but it costs money – actually it costs a pretty good amount and my husband and I decided that I would homeschool our kids to save the money for our upcoming international adoption. It is a nice way for me to contribute monetarily and still getting to spend time with my kids.

1. I forgot that preparing for homeschooling was hard and this lesson was learned in a saddening overwhelming kind of way. The girls and I did so many great learning activities and new experiences this summer that I was psyched for homeschooling, but then I learned as I was prepping our first week, it’s a whole different story when there is different stuff that we have to cover and be responsible for. I think I might be more cut out for unschooling, but I am thankful that there is a cyber school that offers free traditional homeschooling materials (Calvert) for free with the perks of cyber school – like trips and extra help and free Internet and other perks. I’m hoping that preparing will get easier.

2. I learned that a great community is worth its weight in gold. We lived in a small borough that was urban but on a very small-scale. I loved everything about it the character, the diversity, the places you could walk to. We joined the community arts center there and have been going for over 6 years. Even though we don’t live in that borough anymore we are still pretty close and still very much in love with the arts center. My kids got to paint a mural a couple of weeks ago and it was an amazing experience. Helping contribute to a community when you are so small is a powerful experience. SOmetimes you think you can’t do much at 5, but when you are that small you are the perfect person to paint the bottom of a mural.mural-painting3. Books are always better than the movies. I’m up to my ears in adoption books, but I have a group of girlfriends who are avid readers (that might be an understatement). In the past, they have convinced me to read Harry Potter, Twilight (I’m not proud of it but it was fun), The Hunger Games, and this past time they convinced me to read the Mortal Instruments. This was actually probably my least favorite of all the books to movies they’ve convinced me to read, but I have to say it was still way better than the movie! I think I appreciate the book so much more after seeing the movie. Well it is also great to go out with a huge group of girls (int their 30s) to see a young adult movie! If only I had more time to read nonfiction.

4. Reading adoption books is actually really helpful for parenting your biological kids. I’m reading The Connected Child. The book is amazing. Truly wonderful and each and every chapter also gives me a little nugget of wisdom into the children with me now as I wait and hope for the one not yet with us.

5. Being with family can be hard, but oh so worth it. My dad is amazing, probably the best I could have asked for. Every year we have a family reunion with my whole family and then spend a week with my dad two states away. It’s draining, and tiring as the girls sleep on top of me in the basement. They watch a little too much TV, and we eat out for every meal. But it’s worth it every minute. My girls make memories with their wonderful Papa, I can see cousins grow bigger and bigger and I remember the joys of when I lived there. I wouldn’t change it for anything.seeingmydad

6. Kids just want to be with you so teach them to love the things you love (not force them, just teach them). Since my dad raised my brother and I we were pretty much with him all the time. We learned to love John Madden football, all sports, and playing anything we could. He would coach us, play in the street with us and cheer us on. We just wanted to be with him so it worked out perfectly. Now I see myself, crafting, sewing, and painting with my girls. I run with them and we plan lots of events. We do things together and truthfully we mostly do the things I love and that they love now from exposure. When they are with my husband they play music and work on their math because that’s their connection. It’s amazing how if we let our kids come along side us they will be passionate for the things we are passionate for… and don’t worry – you won’t squash their uniqueness they will still have their own things too (I don’t play Madden anymore and my dad never sewed.)

7. People really want opportunities to serve alongside with their kids. Every summer the girls and I are trying to have an event where we raise awareness and supplies for a cause. Last summer we had a family cafe where we had a mini restaurant on our back porch that our friends came to and they paid by bringing supplies for the local soup kitchen. This year we decided to have a monster making party to collect brand new toys for the local children’s hospital by us. Our neighbor’s grandson has cancer and it is something my girls pray for daily so when we were brainstorming what to do this year they knew it had to be something for Max. We sewed 60 monsters out of socks and old clothes and got a whole bunch of buttons and googly eyes and invited our friends over to make a monster. They had to bring a brand new toy for a donation to get their monster. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity – in gifts and in patience. Our house was packed and at one point with kids yelling, running, and gluing all over the place it was hard to even think never mind be patient! Moms were quietly helping other people’s kids and making new friends. We really just want our kids to know what it means to help others and will take every opportunity to show them.monsters6. I love doing hair, more than I realized.  I have two little girls 8 and 5 you would think I get this opportunity all the time. I don’t! My youngest can do a pony tail by herself and braid so she does these crazy things with her hair and won’t let me touch it and my older daughter likes it down, in front of her ears, nothing in it… drives me crazy – but I’m really not one to push on things like that. My friend’s daughter had a party and needed someone to help with hair… I loved every minute of it and remembered that this was a fun thing when I use to be able to do it… now if only I could do it on myself!hair7. I will never give up exercising with my friends. I have one friend that I run with twice a week, 1 friend I walk with once a week and one friend I bike with whenever we can. The awesome group of book reading girls use to get together and do tae bo together (it was hilarious). I love being with my friends, but our lives are so busy. It makes me so sad that we have to pencil in time here or there. I’ve always made it a priority to exercise, it’s a joy to me, but doing it with my girlfriends really is a win win – my happy place. We talk, we laugh, we sweat. It really is a part of my life I don’t want to change. (6am bike ride picture below!)bike8. On that note, I need a schedule. I have been doing Hello Mornings for my quiet time every morning and it has been a blessing. There is a pattern to it, accountability, and peace. I always did my quiet times at night and mornings were for exercise, but giving the first bit of my morning to God everyday has blessed me each and every morning this week. I hope it continues for a long time to come.

9. Sunday School boys don’t want to do crafts. Today I said good bye to my wonderful and rowdy group of 3rd grade students for Sunday School. For the majority of the time I had 8 boys and 1 girl. Every lesson in our curriculum was geared to girls, a craft here, a play there, a writing assignment. Really – they’d eat me alive! They needed to run, play, build and experiment.  I found this awesome website – Mad about Jesus Laboratories - and it made all the difference. We did experiments, we modeled the stories with legos, we made mini bow and arrows to represent the friendship between Jonathan and David, and we had fun and were loud, and sometimes crazy. And truthfully I’m not really sure if they learned as much as they could, but I do think they enjoyed coming to church and knew I cared about them and hopefully that feeling will last. (Disclaimer – this doesn’t mean in any way that girls don’t like to run build and experiment – very much the opposite the girl and sometimes girls in my class loved this too… I just don’t know if I would have been forced into doing it every class if there wasn’t a whole bunch of students who weren’t really into doing it the more traditional way.)