Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weeks 13-18 Mongolia, Russia and Beyond

Hard to believe that we have just finished up our 18th week of school and it is time for another update of our favorite things from the past six weeks. It has been a bit longer than six weeks because we did take a breather during the Christmas season to study the Advent. But for the last three weeks we have been hard at work and have "visited" some very fun places. Including four of my children's homeland RUSSIA! Yippee!!!

James was excited about finishing up a book we started when we were studying China called the House of Sixty Fathers. It is a story of a small boy who gets swept down river in his family's sampan during World War II. He ends up having the adventure of his life while he tries to make his way back to his family. With the help of some very kind American military men who are also in China fighting the Japanese he succeeds. James enjoyed learning about the extreme lengths that people went to to get food in this time of history and some of the interesting things that they ate when they were hungry to include grass. He was also excited about our study of Genghis Khan during our study of Mongolia. He was intrigued with the fact that coming from such humble roots this man became such a powerful if not brutal ruler.

Peter has been enjoying our study of his homeland Russia. He has especially enjoyed seeing all the changes that have happened there over the years and particularly some of the information that he learned while studying Alexander the I. Russia has had such a difficult history but through it all the people have persevered and survived some very difficult periods. I think Peter has enjoyed getting to know more about where he came from.

Emma was thrilled with our most recent read aloud The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. This engaging book kept us all coming back for more. It is a bit of a mystery and chronicles the lives of two cousins who find themselves at the mercy of a wicked cousin who comes to care for them while the one little girl's parents are out of town. They are quite brave and creative in their approach to the situations they are put into. It was very well written and easy to read which compared to some we have read this year was a blessing for old mom as well!!

Daniel has been enjoying the reading books he is working on. He has finished up the Beginners Bible and is now having adventures with Frog and Toad and Mouse Tales. He has amazed me with how well his reading is coming along and that he loves it. He is always asking me if he can read a few more pages. Who can resist that??? He is also getting a bit better with his math and he is liking the Touchmath that I have been doing with him. He is beginning to get the hang of using the dots and seems to be getting more answers correct every day.

Ana is liking her I Can Read It stories as well as doing much better with her math. She is loving to use the FlashMaster and is getting pretty good at her addition facts. Whoopee!! She also mentioned our science that we have been doing which is on Weather right now. We have been studying the different types of clouds as well as air pressure.

I have to say I have been loving our unit on Russia as well. There was an activity at the beginning of the unit that involved figuring out how long a trip would take on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. I thought it was a neat activity but it also made me think of how much fun it would be to actually take a trip like that. I told Robert I would like to do that some day. I think he thought I might be loosing my mind :). It has been interesting to see how things have changed over the years in this largest country on the planet and see how the people have persevered through so many trials. We even watched Fiddler on the Roof yesterday, one of my favorites!

As you can see we have not been letting any grass grow under our feet. We have one more week in Russia and then we are off to Central Asia who knows what new adventures we will have there?? I love homeschooling!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Yesterday we visited the geneticist again to find out about the genetics testing that was done on Daniel back in September when he was getting his feeding tube put in. I had been praying all week that the Lord would give us some answers that could possibly help us with his growth as well as just give us some peace about what the long term may look like for him. I wish that I could say that the doctor had something concrete to tell us but alas he did not. All of the testing that he did both the micro-array genetics study and the metabolic panel that he did came back completely normal. I was initially crestfallen when he said this because I had truly thought that perhaps this would be the day that we finally got an answer. I sat through the rest of the exam which was a complete repeat of the last time wanting to cry and also mortified because Daniel was completely out of control because of nervousness the whole time. The doctor told us that he would like to do an MRI of Daniel's brain next to see what that looks like. When I asked what he was perhaps looking for he said that it would tell more about if we were dealing with Fetal Alcohol issues.

That is when it began to hit me. All this time I have been putting the obvious aside. My son has Fetal Alcohol Effect and that could be the ultimate cause of all these problems. Four years ago when we were first home with the boys I did some research about FAS and FAE and at the time I saw some similarities but I still didn't know for sure if what we were seeing was from the orphanage or just environment or what. Then the psychologist that originally diagnosed Daniel with MR and ADHD also reported that FAE was a good possibility. Again I cast it aside not really dealing with all the ramifications that it could involve. Then we started having so many problems with growth and we began to pursue all these other things not really ever dealing with the obvious. So I began to think while we were driving home and while Robert and I were debriefing about why I have avoided this for so long. I think as I told him it is because deep down I didn't want to believe that this was something that could have been prevented. If there was something genetically wrong that his birthmother wasn't in control of I guess I thought I would be able to handle it better. I guess I also wanted to believe that there might be something that could be done to fix or at least help his condition.

Last night and this morning I spent some time reading from a website and magazine from a wonderful organization called CHASK. It stands for Christian Homes and Special Kids. I have been getting their newsletters for quite some time now but this particular newsletter has truly ministered to my heart. Reading the stories about other families that are parenting children with various special needs has given me hope that I am not alone and also that some of my failings are quite normal. You see I have been feeling very guilty lately about my attitude toward Daniel and not feeling equipped to parent and teach him the way I should be. I get very frustrated with him and I think that I was hoping that perhaps these results might help me to cope better. What God showed me last night and this morning is that all the results in the world are not going to change the reality that God made him to be this way for a purpose and I need to start realizing that there may never be a magic fix - this is who he is. This morning I read some beautiful words that a mother of two FAE children from Russia wrote. Almost everything that she described is Daniel to a tee. I also see some of what she said in Ana and a bit in Peter. While it was hard to read the reality it helped to see that I'm not living something that no one has ever seen before.

Robert and I did some talking yesterday and this morning about this and we agreed that we do want to have the MRI done just to see what it says but then we are done. We are not going to continue to search for an answer that may never come. I think we are finally at a point where we just need to dwell in our reality and try to cope the best we can with the behaviors that Daniel displays. And in turn I need to realize that I am going to fail sometimes just as Daniel is going to fail sometimes. I thank the Lord for these revelations and I have asked Him to help me to love this child as He loves him. And also to help me take each day and really each moment one at a time. I thank Him for the grace that He has shown me and I realize how blessed I am that He calls me His daughter even on my worst day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Creative Avoidance...

Yes that is indeed what I have been doing because I can't think of anything that inspiring to write and I think that I'm still a bit burned out from all of the holiday cheer! I have been very pleased to get back into the "normal" routine of life starting last week but once again "normal" is a very fluid concept around our family. I have to say that even our normal is quite refreshing and has been so wonderful for my children. I took a break from regular schooling in the month of December which I think was a good idea in theory but what it lead to was some major slacking on my part and some incredibly bored children. They just about drove me crazy with nothing set to do. I do however think that as we do get back into the routine it gives us a sense that the schedule is indeed our friend and no matter how many times they complain about it deep down they really do want and need it.

Our holiday was blessed but long this year. We had family in before Christmas, treasured friends in for Christmas and went to see more family for New Year's. It was a blessing to get to see everyone but it made for a very long month and made my children just a little self absorbed. I was so thankful that we chose to do Advent devotions this year and to make that a new tradition for us. I think that in all the craziness that it kept us somewhat grounded in what the season is truly about. It allowed us to take things slow and really study each event surrounding the preparation for Christ and His birth. That was a top blessing for the year.

So now what...what will 2010 hold for our Clan?? We are praying for guidance this year and that the Lord will show us where to go from here. We feel as though we are on the cusp of something but we don't exactly know what that is. Perhaps that is why I have not been able to blog. I just feel a bit cloudy and I'm hoping for some clarity. I think what it is teaching me is that I need to cling ever closer to the One that has those answers that I seek and who will give them in His timing. Now if I can just be patient to wait for those answers and pray without ceasing enjoying as much of our "normal" as I can each and every day that He gives to me!!