School!

This summer went incredibly fast over here at casa de Klipsch. I’m sure you all feel that way as well.

I know it’s not what I’m “supposed” to say as a mama, but the truth is I really do hate when school starts. In some ways, of course, I’m excited for it. I love how excited they get, I love the routine and schedule school provides and I love coffee in the morning with Zach. But I miss lingering breakfasts with the kids, listening to their adventures on their hikes, movie nights and afternoon swims. They are all at such fun ages (10, 9, 8, 7, 6) I just truly enjoy hanging out with them.

That said, yesterday was their first day of school!

(1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade)

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This year was the first year in 4 years that I didn’t have a Kindergartner trotting his/her little body with oversized backpack up the school steps for the first time. It’s also the last year of Trysten’s elementary school days, next year he starts middle school. I tell you this to explain my lack of posts/ status updates and general weepiness yesterday specifically.

Time, stop moving so quickly you fickle, fickle little thing.

Happy learning!

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That’s What She Said

A few bloggers I follow always have a “That’s what she said” series and I LOVE them. It’s always a great place to find new articles that often resonate with me. More often than not I want to share them but they are kind of random so they never have a real place to fit in on my blog.

Thus, I’m creating my own “That’s what she said” series.

“How I lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement.” As someone who once considered herself pro-life this spoke to me in so many ways. In order to truly be pro life it means WAY more than anti-abortion.

Obamacare stands to cut abortion rates by 75%. And yet, the pro-life movement has been leveraged in opposition to Obamacare, and most especially in opposition to the birth control mandate. They don’t believe women should be guaranteed access to free contraception even though this access is the number one proven best way to decrease the number of abortions. That access would, to use the rhetoric of the pro-life movement, prevent the murders of 900,000 unborn babies every year.

Heather’s guest post on Momastery. I loved what she had to say, especially the excerpt below. Can’t wait to read her book.

The greatest shock of my life was to discover that the exposure of the very secret that I thought would kill me brought me the greatest relief. It turns out that when you give up on looking good, no one can make you feel bad.

Adoption. Ethics in adoption. It’s all Big Business. The more I know the less I wish I knew (not really, but-yikes). I have been following the discussion for as long as I can remember. Oh how I wish my eyes had been opened before I started. If you are starting out on adoption, or if you have friends/family who are you owe it to them and their possible future children to send them to some of the below links. The conversation has to be had. We can no longer bury our collective heads in the sand.

Jen Hatmaker is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. After this, she shot to the top of my girl crush list (right after Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, obviously).

What would happen if we reallocated a percentage of the millions we spend on adoption toward community development? What if we prioritized first families and supported initiatives that train, empower, and equip them to parent? This would absolutely be Orphan Prevention, not to mention grief prevention, loss prevention, abandonment prevention, trauma prevention, broken family prevention. What if we asked important questions about supply and demand here, and broadened our definition of orphan care to include prevention and First Family empowerment?

My friend Amanda (she’s my real-life friend y’all, I’ve met her. I’ve talked with her. She’s amazing. Zach makes me distinguish between blogger friends-ones I’ve only “met” online and real-life ones. I have pictures with her, it’s legit.) is brave, strong, beautiful and amazing. You know those moments when you feel like you’re in the presence of greatness? I get that feeling from her right now. Read this. Read about her adoption. Read about the painful choices her family has made to ensure they’ve done everything they can to look their precious son in the eyes and know they did the right thing. She needs our help. Let’s rally around her.

We hope that, after reading our story, you will support us for this simple reason: we will not sign a gag order to protect our former adoption “agency” and their facilitator in return for the easy release of our documents.

Tara Livesay is a blogger you have to follow. I won’t take no as an answer to this. Go to her blog and follow her now. She has written about missions (more on that later) and adoption. She is intimately aware of both. One of my favorite posts she’s done has been this one.

It occurs to me that our western culture of capitalistim, materialism, and consumerism all play a large role in our attitude toward and approach to international adoption. Due to our wealth and ability to provide, sometimes without even realizing it we begin to believe that our material wealth makes us better suited to parent the child of a poor mother. What began as noble and pure and loving can farily easily begin to look a lot more like ethnocentrism and entitlement. 

I have family in missions, I have friends who have went on short term mission trips. I have never went on one because I just felt, for lack of better term, “icky” about them. Jamie has done an awesome job (as has Tara Livesay above) with the issues that can come from missions-both long and short term.

I’m telling you all of this because there is blatant fraud going on in the world of missions and in the name of Jesus. And that bothers me. If you support a missionary, if you’re a church that supports missionaries, if you’re interested in becoming a missionary, you should be pushing for clarity and transparency from the Missions world. Most missionaries will be able to answer your questions without resorting to evasive language and obscure ideas. But if they can’t? That should be a serious red flag and you should feel emboldened to push back until you clearly understand what they’re doing with their time.

Any other links you guys have loved lately?

 

 

On Teacher Appreciation

When Trysten first went to Kindergarten I didn’t think a whole lot about his teacher or school. I know, I know, shocking. But he was a smart kid with 2 parents who weren’t going to let him fall behind on anything so there wasn’t a huge concern.

Then we brought Tariku home and we started to think more about education. We moved Trysten from his school that, year after year, gets the highest test scores in the district and some of the highest test scores in the state. We moved him because most of his school looked like him, which is fine, but the school didn’t look like us. Our new family now contained a little precious boy of color so an almost all white school wasn’t going to do.

We moved Trysten to quite possibly the most underperforming school in the district. Worried grandparents and community members chided us for the bold move but we knew it was right because Trysten would be fine. Regardless of how the school overall did on standardized tests, Trysten positively excelled.

And then we brought home Tomas and Binyam. There was only one school in our district with full time ESL people on staff and we knew bringing home a first grader we would rely heavily on ESL the first few years, so we switched again. This time to a school that usually ranked towards the bottom on standardized tests. We knew it would be a perfect fit, however, when we first saw there was a large minority population at the school and then that a really great family friend-Mrs.Meinert- would be Tariku’s Kindergarten teacher.

Pretty soon after bringing Tomas and Binyam home we could tell they might need a little more attention in school. Tomas’s phenomenal teacher proactively worked with Mrs. Meinert to have Tomas come down with her class during reading and math. At the end of the first year Tomas’s teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, showed me his first words he had written and I cried during the whole conference. Watching how much he had grown from August-May was nothing short of a miracle and I knew, though Zach and I encouraged him at home, it had everything to do with the two teachers who loved and nurtured him in his first year.

Binyam started out in preschool with Dailah but we could tell he too needed a little more work. His YMCA preschool teacher arranged a meeting for us at our local AEA. They tested Binyam and agreed he needed an all day preschool the following year at-you guessed it-one of the worst performing schools in the district (but which boasted Binyam’s Uncle Jake as the principal) 🙂 . When Binyam began his (second) year of preschool he had no idea how to spell his name, his speech was very poor and he had 0 fine motor skills. At his first conference his teacher showed us little scraps of paper that Binyam had written, “Binyam” and “Mom”. With tears running down my face I grabbed her hand, “Thank you, thank you so much.”

The last few years for Tomas and Binyam have carried on much the same. A tribe of advocates have surrounded them and fought for them, working alongside us. And though my other 3 don’t need the same degree of help, their teachers have kept them challenged and loved just the same. Watching these teachers (my kids usually have the same teachers as the sibling who went before them) love, nurture and cherish my babes finding their footing as well as my higher level learners has been an enormous blessing.

I have gotten emails from these teachers at 10:00 pm, “Hey what do you think about trying this for x?” I’ve gotten more phone calls during the day than you can possibly imagine (I quite literally just got off of one) from teachers and administrators, “Hey wanted to let you know x is having a great day today! Make sure you praise him/her for doing their best during reading!” Notes in planners talking about the progress on a letter or a sound or a journal entry. I’ve seen these teachers have to switch from this kind of technique to another, back to the first and then-no wait, let’s do it this way-within just a few months.

And always, when I’ve cried asking, “Are they going to be ok? What more can I do?” They’ve looked at me, usually with tears in their eyes and said, “Of course they’ll be ok, your kid is amazing and we’re going to do everything we can because they are worth it.” And I believed them.

One of my best girl friends was talking about one of her babes that struggles in her class. As Ashley talked about the little girl I just started crying. I can’t get over how much our kids are loved by their teachers. These teachers who work so much, get paid so little love. our. kids. Incredible.

I know not all teachers are like this, I know that. But we’ve been so incredibly grateful for the teachers we’ve had.

I think on days like today when I get a completely unprompted call from the kids’s school, “Hey, Binyam’s teacher was thinking about him…” I am humbled beyond anything else that there is so much love surrounding my kids. I am so thankful I never have to go through this parenting thing alone. So thankful for our community who has trained and support teachers, imperfectly I’m sure, that are as amazing as they are.

So to all the teachers. The ones I’m related to, the ones I am friends with and the ones who have prayed and thought about my kids every day for a year-thank you so much. My words fail me at a time like this but I am forever indebted to you!