Prayers for School Decisions…

I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago that school deadlines are coming up. Would you pray for our decision-making on this?

We visited a school yesterday – GIbbs International Studies Magnet School. It was fantastic:
-Great teachers who focused on teaching children how to think and find answers instead of teaching them what to think.
-Foreign languages.
-A focus country for each classroom to study that year.
-Only two classrooms per grade level to keep it small.
-Great diversity of student population.
-Neat, clean, organized, great international decorations – a marketplace, post office, art from students in other countries (a trade), studies about folktales, folk art, etc.
-Fun music, art, gym, and theatre classes.
-Not in our neighborhood, but it only took us about 7 minutes driving.

It’s a lottery system to see who gets in, so I don’t really know what the chances are. We’ll visit another magnet school tomorrow – Williams Magnet.

The deadline for the magnet form is tomorrow, so I think we’ll turn it in and then have time to visit our local neighborhood school. So far, we have not heard a good word about it, but yesterday’s school visit gave me hope that there ARE good public schools here (despite what people say). Thanks for your prayers….

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Transition Update #3

In a few days, we’ll have internet at home (I hope!), and I’ll be able to give a more thorough update.

  • In the meantime, here are a few disjointed notes about the past week or so. Yesterday marked one week of life in Little Rock!
  • Our Reba community friend Barb had mercy on us at the last moment – the night before our drive from Evanston to Little Rock – and decided to ride with the kids and me. She planned to stay a couple of days; but, once we had two down to the stomach flu (Jedi & Josh), she changed her train ticket and stayed on as a nonanxious presence and wonderful helping hand until Friday night. What an unexpected gift!
  • Another community friend Gus rode with Josh in the truck and helped a great deal with unloading the truck on this end. He also tuned and cleaned our piano and filled our house with Reba praise songs. It was a house blessing of sorts!
  • My dad was out front to greet us the moment we drove up with our giant, yellow Penske truck and trusty, white van. He even had sparkling grape juice to celebrate! We have been thankful for his additional presence here on several days – helping unload the truck, buying us groceries, bringing us family furniture from storage, and generally brightening the spirits of the children.
  • Many people from our block and the nearby Methodist church have brought us sweets to welcome us. Sweet breads (banana, strawberry, zucchini) seem to be the custom. 🙂
  • The kids, Barb, and I stayed in the garage apartment several nights while the moving in, initial unpacking, and sickness swirled around. We were thankful to have a quiet, warm space away from the action.
  • We’ve also been thankful that the space is big enough that we do not feel cramped or overwhelmed as we organize and unpack.
  • There are many projects still before us, but I’ll give you a few that we’ve done (we rejoice in each small task completed!):
    • Painting the laundry room, dining room (walls & ceiling), and beginning on the office.
    • Washer and dryer purchased and installed! No more visits to the “Funmart Laundromat.”
    • Drip in kitchen faucet fixed and new (mold-free) hardware installed.
    • Drip in bathroom faucet fixed.
    • Kitchen cabinet drawers and doors put on (after being painted earlier in January).
    • New car license plates, and an Arkansas drivers license for me! (Josh’s still pending…)
    • New Arkansas bank account.
    • Bed for Lilia painted and set up (thanks to my mom who came to help on Saturday). She and Lilia also painted several other pieces of her furniture lavendar to match her bed.
    • I’m sure there’s more, but I might be boring you by now…
  • Our next-door neighbor invited us to church on Sunday. It’s a 9000-member black church 2 or 3 blocks from our house. We all went and had a great time. The preacher was amazing (Josh was thrilled because he quoted Nouwen). The choir moved us to tears. Our neighbor insisted we meet the pastor. No decision yet about what our home church will be, but we really enjoyed going to this one.
  • Our next-door neighbors on the other side invited us to a Superbowl party at their place. The kids were jumping-up-and-down excited (mostly because they had hamburgers & all I’d made for dinner was chicken noodle soup). Still, we all liked the neighbors and their friends and family at the party. Simeon made friends with their two-year-old granddaughter (who lives one more house down our block).
  • We started homeschooling yesterday. We’re continuing with their regular school routines for math, writing, and spelling. We’re also focusing on our watershed (learning the bodies of water, animals, insects, plants, history, etc. in our specific ecological area). Our watershed is called Coleman Creek, and we’ve already done an expedition to find the creek. We’ve visited two different parts of it today and yesterday.
  • We’ve also been participating in lots of activities at the Hillary Clinton Children’s LIbrary that is just blocks from our house – Garden club, cooking classes, martial arts classes – all free and amazing!  http://www.cals.lib.ar.us/about/locations/childrens-library.aspx
  • And today we went to the fantastic zoo in our neighborhood – chimpanzees, lemurs, cheetahs, oh my! We got to see them feed the ringtails, and the one named “Reba” came right up to the window. Thanks to my Memaw for the zoo membership, we’re gonna LOVE it!
  • The kids and I also went to a kid-friendly yoga class for caregivers – catered to the needs of bodies that are frequently lifting and serving. The group meets at the Quaker Meeting House and has a discussion on the issues of social justice and how it relates to parenting – especially in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a great time, and I even got to do a little bodywork on one mom’s sore shoulder.
  • Josh continues to spend his mornings looking for work. Please pray for that process and end result!
  • Also, there are deadlines for applications for schools for the kids for the Fall (due in this Friday). We have two school visits scheduled for this week. We really want a public school in the neighborhood – that feels important to us. Yet, no one says good things about really any of the schools. PLUS, last week a vote passed for the government to take over the schools, due to 6 schools with insufficient progress. It’s a tumultuous time for the Little Rock schools. We’d appreciate your prayers in navigating this situation.

Okay. I’m impressed if you made it this far. Subsequent updates will be shorter and include more pictures…:)

Uncle Jason!

Josh’s brother Jason visited in September. We hadn’t seen him in two years, and he hadn’t met Simeon, yet. We LOVE having Uncle Jason here. He is a great guest – great to talk to, good with the kids, and really helpful around the house. Simeon, especially connected with his Uncle Jason and looked for him every morning for several days after he left. Here are a few pictures from our time together, including apple-picking!

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Kid Quotes

  • Here are some quotes I’ve been collecting for awhile, now. You may have heard them already, but I wanted to record them so I don’t forget!
  • One day last week, Simeon grabbed a sparkly little bag and acted like he was ready to go, saying “Walgeens!” I asked him if he wanted to go to Walgreens, and he said “Yeah!” I said, “Let’s go to the park, first.” We walked to the park with him in the stroller. When we got there, he said, “NO! Walgeens!” As always, I could think of a few things we needed from Walgreens, so we walked to Walgreens and had a lovely time together. I just couldn’t believe that an almost-two-year-old would prefer Walgreens to the park!
  • “Dragonfly!” – Simeon’s word for house flies.
  • Lilia (after going to a magic show at Circus World where they were selling magic wands that could do a few little tricks): “A real magic wand!! I’ve always wanted a real one, and they had them; but we didn’t even buy one!!!”
  • On the drive home from Wisconsin, while creating new foods out of her food, “Would anyone like to try a ‘chicken face’?” – Lilia (Josh and I thought this sounded disgusting)
  • Lilia, “I’m sorta hungry all the time, so of course I poop a lot!”
  • “Help you! Stuck.” – Simeon in his carseat after nearly 12 hours of driving
  • “Ping!” – Simeon’s word for Yogi Bear & related figurines
  • “Bammaw & Papa” – Simeon’s words for Gramma & Grampa
  • Jedidiah, to his babysitter…”Popcorn has to do a little explosion in order to turn into popcorn.” Then, reassuringly…”Don’t worry, it’s not that big of a deal.”
  • Lilia and I were talking about all of the possibilities of what she could be when she grows up. She liked the idea of being a pilot or a horseback rider. She was open to any possibility – teacher, president, anything…Until I said “astronaut.” She laughed and said, “No way!!” She was very sure she did not want to be an astronaut. When I asked her why, she said, “Because astronauts go to outer space and that’s where Star Wars is!” She finds Star Wars super scary and doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.
  • Lilia and I were in the grocery store several months ago, and I asked her to get some hot dogs. She said, “Can we get the Rock-in-saw ones?” I was totally confused. Then she found them and showed me – they were the Boar’s Head kind. They reminded her of the Razorbacks symbol from Arkansas. Only, she called Arkansas ‘Rockinsaw” by accident. Too funny.

Happy Little Sim Sim

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Simeon is 22 months old. Hardly a baby anymore. But still assuredly MY baby. He continues to be a delight, a joy, a bright spot in each day. I cannot imagine these stressful days and months of big decisions and hard conversations without the smiles and laughter that he brings. He is truly a gift to our family.

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He has reached a phase where he is like a little companion. He tags along with us. He loves to join in with what the family is doing. He learns the songs, he remembers the keywords, he knows the names and voices of all our friends. He is a people person and needs lots of time to play with other children. He is a helper, and wants to join in with cleaning up, washing dishes and preparing food.

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He says many, many words. And he says them quite clearly. I am amazed at each new utterance. Here are a few of his common words and phrases:

– Help you.

– Love you.

– I don’t wike it. (Usually about a new food, although he likes most foods.)

– I don’t want to.

– I’m coming!

– Are you, Momma? (Where are you, Momma?)

– Where go? (Where did it go?)

– Sim Sim – how he refers to himself

– I got it!

– Bob-eye (how he says bye-bye)

-Boo-hush (toothbrush) – this is my favorite 🙂

– Monoo (Melon)

– Co-co, Tato, Marrow, Lydah, Evie, Iris, Owen, Gabeel, Isaac, Baby Evy, Jooper, Gay-see, Lana, Gay-son, Elsie, Allan, Jeanne, Megan, Heather – all his words for his friends’ names (both kids and grown-ups in this list)

– I want find it!

– Kean up! (Clean up)

– And SO many more… (You can see he knows what he wants these days!)

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Lately, he likes to stack things (especially the dinosaurs, for some reason) and then proudly declare, “Make it!” He also makes “planes” and “boats” out of bristle blocks.

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He loves to take off his socks and look for toe jam, too…

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He can be kind of a goof, which is perfect to make us all smile (bucket on his head here)…

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He is also so very sweet. He uses feeling words often (happy, scared, crying, sad), and seems to notice others’ feelings. Here he is practicing to be a good daddy some day. He asked to have his baby in the carrier. The picture where he is looking at the camera, he’s saying, “Baby crying.” Then, he proceeded to kiss the baby on the head. And, of course, we still love seeing him in his little fedora. I hope he brings a smile to your day, too!

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Let’s Talk About SCHOOL!

Today marks the end of the FOURTH week of school. How did that happen?!

Here are a few pictures from the first day:

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Lilia has been excited about kindergarten for several years, and she has not been disappointed. She absolutely loves it. Besides being worn out on Thursday evening of the first week, I haven’t even seen her phased by the new routine. She comes home from school energetic and happy. She goes to school in the mornings without a thought – jumping out of the car and saying “Bye!” She hugs multiple friends from her class and other classes on her way in. She’s already made several good friends. She heard that there would be a be new Kindergarten teacher this year (Jedidiah’s teacher from Kindergarten moved away) and that he was aptly named “Mr. New.” She thought that was hilarious and wanted him as her teacher. That’s who she got, and she loves him! She also has a male teacher’s aide who does magic! It’s an exciting class, I think!

Jedidiah was more nervous about going to school, but he seems to have a great teacher and to be having positive experiences so far. His two best school friends are in his class. Surprisingly, this nonstop talker is described as quiet and shy at school. Who would have guessed?! He is doing a great job learning to read and write this year. We are very excited for him!

And, as for Simeon, here’s what he looked like the first few days his siblings headed off to school…

P1010454He has adjusted, but it has required more playtime with some of his little buddies. He misses his Yi-yah and Diah when they’re at school!

Here are a few more pictures from the first weeks (Kindergartners do color weeks, when each day they wear a different color):

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Green Day

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Purple Day

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Rainbow Day

A couple of other funny Lilia stories about school:

  • One day after school, Lilia was helping me prep for dinner by cutting some veggies with a sharp knife (which she’s actually getting pretty good at!). I was keeping an eye on her and checking in with it frequently. Then, she said, “Mom, you take care of you. I’ll take care of me.” The ring of it sounded like she was repeating something she learned. I asked, “Did you learn that at school?” She said she had. We proceeded to have a little talk about how that rule is good for kids working at school, but that mommies are actually SUPPOSED to take care of kids. Funny little toot!
  • One day during the first week of school (Thursday, I think), Lilia expressed how tired she was from school. She said she needed to make herself a nice, simple meal and go to bed early. This simple meal involved walking to our neighborhood garden to collect some veggies and then chopping veggies to make a small salad, stir fry (in her mini-skillet), and soup. It was quite a project! She worked on it for about an hour. She even remembered (I did not realize it in the moment) to collect a flower to put in a vase to go with her meal. And, she ate her small feast for dinner that night. She expressed joyfully afterward, “Shouldn’t we do this every day, mom!” Here’s a picture of her food:

P1010470Well, that’s it for now! I’ll try to post a list of additional kid quotes soon.

Summer 2014 Catch Up – Part 9 of 10

Lilia broke her arm! Can you believe it?! She was just running down the alley and tripped and fell. She must have caught herself in just the right way to compress her wrist bone a little. She was in pain for a bout 24 hours before we took her to the doctor. All in all, though, it hasn’t really slowed her down, and she gets to sport this cool purple cast!

Lilia&herpurplecastCast comes off on Friday!

Summer 2014 Catch-Up Part 8 of 10

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Jedidiah turned EIGHT on August 10th. We had lots of great celebrations – one with family in Arkansas (somehow we’ve been in Arkansas for all three kids’ birthdays in the past year!), one on the road on Jedi’s actual birthday, and a big Narnia party with friends when we got home. We went all-out with the Narnia party – a wardrobe door, a lamp post, and even the White Witch! The kids had a fancy Narnian banquet, as well as archery practice and a quest as the kings and queens of Narnia. It was a blast!

Also, our friend Heather, who played the part of the White Witch at the party, wrote this beautiful poem to Jedidiah (King Peter) after the party:

belated birthday wishes from the white witch

(for Jedidiah, now 8)

the magic

was not in

my wand nor

my icy crown nor

the plate laden

with Turkish delight

but in

your lively

eyes, your tickled

grin, your swelling

confidence and

graceful height.

boy king,

may you grow

large of heart

(& brave & wise)

wielding Aslan’ssword

with all your might.


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Summer 2014 Catch-Up – Part 7 of 10

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Another important aspect of our trip to Little Rock was further investigating the city and neighborhoods to prepare for starting an intentional Christian community there. We have been welcomed and affirmed in many ways over the past year of discerning this move. This trip was no exception.

Although there was some tension between Josh and me as we wrestled with making some major decisions, we praise God for the gift of clarity and peace by the end of our trip. We identified a neighborhood (and even a house!) that we both feel good about pursuing.

Nothing is settled and there is a good deal of process yet to wade through. We are common purse members of Reba Place, and we have now begun to discern this major decision with a much wider circle.

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By the writing of this post, Josh and a fellow community-member have already made another trek out to Little Rock to collect more information for a proposal to our community. All of this is new to us and can feel overwhelming at times. But, we continue to take steps forward, not looking too far ahead down the path.

Josh and I continue to be excited about this new adventure. We love the city of Little Rock (I’m pictured above eating at a restaurant with locally-grown food), and we are intrigued by all it has to offer. More importantly, we have felt welcomed there and feel we have met some kindred spirits, so to speak. We have also been overwhelmed buy the sweet support of our community here, so far. These are not small things! And, we have no other option but to see that God is in all of this. We’d appreciate your continued prayers as we navigate many more decisions over the coming months.
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