Sunday, August 26, 2012

New School Year...New Goals

Well, it seems summer has about wound down.  Tomorrow we embark on a new year...a new journey...and we are excited!  Last year after some nudging from Howard, we decided to try homeschooling Luke, and while I was skeptical, overall it was a good year.

To be clear, we didn't decide to homeschool because we are afraid of public school or that we think it is bad.  I am not here to bash public school.  I know many amazingly talented teachers, and am a product of that system myself.  Our choice to school the kids ourselves isn't a commentary on other people's choice to send their kids to school.  We as parents have the hardest job ever and I don't begrudge anyone who makes informed decisions for their families.  I am grateful to live in a country where we have decisions to make and have a choice to send our kids to public/private school or homeschool.

I went to school to be a teacher and was a teacher before having Luke.  I love kids, and I love education.  Luke went to a great school.  He had great teachers and he genuinely liked school.  The trouble is that I quickly saw my once inquisitive, creative, risk taking boy turn to a timid, people pleasing, afraid to make a mistake kind of kid.  Now while I am not saying those are necessarily BAD things...but it made us think...and ultimately we know the school system inside and out.  We know what it is designed to do, and creativity and problem solving are not strong suits of public education.  The turn we saw in Luke was staggering so we decided to see what would happen if we kept him home.

Well the year was good, but honestly I just replicated public school at home.  He did all the same work, all the same tests, and all the same complaining.  Some days it was torture as I followed the curriculum and forced him (my 8 year old) to write a persuasive essay complete with bibliography.  The kid who used to write elaborate, intricate, creative stories now pouted at the mention of writing a word.  We were frustrated, and some days exasperated with eachother.  I know he is capable of the work...but it was so uncreative...and even I hated doing it.  We got to the point that we just were not enjoying each other and that is our main reason for homeschooling!  I LOVE being with my kids and couldn't imagine someone else getting the opportunity to be with them more than me! 

This year...we are embarking on something new.  After spending the summer studying John Holt and John Taylor Gatto's research and philosophy, we've decided to take an entirely different approach.  This year we are going to enjoy eachother.  We are going to live life.  Life is education.  We learn what is important by DOING what is important and we are going to do all that stuff.  I am beyond excited.  We have plans for museums, art exhibits, zoos, playdates, nursing home visits weekly, service projects, recipes, journaling, photography, explorations outside and many more things.  My hope is to focus largely on relationships this year.  We are going to make new friends and grow in the friendships we have.  We are going to have fun, enjoy each other and serve others!

I am hoping to take some "first day of school" photos tomorrow, but in addition to some fun projects I have planned, we have Jake's OT and we are doing a little respite foster care and expecting a visit from some family.  We will see how the day goes.  I am excited to journal all of our fun experiences here!

I'd love to know...are you setting any new goals for your family, whether you send  your kids to school or school at home, I'd love to hear some of your goals for your family this school year! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Adoption Trip to Harrisburg

 We arrived in Harrisburg Tuesday evening and walked around and explored...
 Our state capitol building is incredible!  IT is such a gorgeous building.  We walked around and read all the quotes engraved in the concrete and then we  headed to Neato Burrito for dinner and it began to storm so we headed back to our hotel.

 The kids were exhausted and fell asleep much easier than expected. 

 In the morning we got up and met the Sams ladies at Hershey's Chocolate World!  It was fantastic!  A good time was for sure had by all!  Above is a picture of Oceana, Naomi and Hope on the Chocolate Ride.

 Here are my guys on the ride!  :)

 My loves holding more of my loves!  ;)  The world's biggest chocolate bars and Hope holding the world's largest Reese Cups.

 They got to package some Hershey Kisses

 And then they decided we needed to ride the Chocolate Ride again...Jacob LOVED it!

 He especially loved the singing cows!  

 All in all it was a great day!  We grabbed some dinner and headed back to the hotel for a swim.

 Could Jake's suit BE any cuter!?  

 Thursday morning we got up and headed to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts where we spent the entire day exploring.  It is a FABULOUS museum.  We had so much fun!

 These guys LOVED the hurricane chamber where they got to feel winds up to 91 mph!

 They learned about how floods affect the land...

 Pulleys make work easier!

 The highlight for the boys was this center where they could build their own car and then race them.

 and a paper airplane center where they could build and then launch the planes.

 Rock climbing

 Luke and Dad trying to play scrambler...a memory game

 Icky the Infectious clown was a hit!

 Howard and I played mind ball!  (I won)  :)

 This might be the coolest water table ever...there was a seat for Jacob to sit and enjoy the fun!  He LOVED it!

 I love them!  

 Hope played in this little shopping area forever.

 and again we headed back to the hotel for a swim and the Sams ladies joined us again...I need to get a picture from Susie of the babies together...they were too cute!

 Friday morning it was time to get ready for COURT!

 They were so excited to be in a REAL courtroom!  They were perfectly was such a great day!

 Jacob loved the judge.  He was such a kind soul!  We were blessed to have everyone who was involved involved.

 The kids chose IHOP for the Adoption celebration lunch.

 And I chose the Penn State Creamery for a snack partway home.  :)  Luke had Cookies and Cream.

 Ben had Autumn Pie...a combination of nectarines, peaches and raspberries...

 Hope chose cookie dough...

and Howard chose Peach.  (Poor Jakey only got formula)  :)  Overall it was a great trip (aside from the fact that my wisdom tooth became abscessed and I am now sitting here recovering from oral surgery as a result) we enjoyed eachother and had a fun few days celebrating our family.  I am so grateful for all the Lord has done in our lives and I look forward to the adventures ahead! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It is Official!

On August 3rd at 10:30 a.m. we went before the kindest, sweetest judge and he granted our petition to adopt Jacob!  It is official and final!  Jacob is a Bolte!  We stand in complete awe of a mighty God who showed us just how He moves mountains!  We are beyond grateful! 

It was the sweetest day.  Howard and I both gave our testimonies and the judge was just so sweet.  He came down and congratulated each of the kids on becoming a big brother/sister and talked with us for a few minutes about how he enjoyed reading our profile and how he is an adoptive dad himself.  We then headed for a celebratory Bolte lunch at IHOP at the kids' request!  Still processing it all and am in complete amazement of our God.