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Are we doing Martin Luther King Jr. Day correctly?

IMG_6848[1] IMG_6847[1]Today was a beautiful day.  The girls started with their journaling. I found this great printable from Thirty days, and I love what the girls wrote. Sadly the long adoption process is always on the docket here at our house… and it ended up on both girls dreams for our family. I think my favorite is that my 8 year old said her dream for the world was for women to have the same rights as men around the world. We often talk about the fact that women can do all the same things men can do and that in America that is mostly true, but it is not so around the world. She is realizing that there are those disenfranchised that are just like her, but in  different countries, and she has trouble wrapping her head around it.

The girls have read lots of books about Martin Luther King Jr. We own Martin’s Big Words and have read so many other books like it. I can’t get enough of reading about how love will conquer hate. I can’t help feeling that all of his quotes sound like they have come straight from the Bible. I can’t help but marvel at this peace, passion, and love in the midst of such a time and place filled with such anger and hate.  But I’m white and half a decade after the beginning of civil rights movement, can I really even understand the amazingness of this choice of love in the face of overwhelming ignorance and hate? I want to.  I think of how hot I get just hearing a random comment from a little kid saying well “She’s just a girl she can’t do it.” How would I feel to hear people constantly telling me that I have to sit in the back, use that bathroom, saying I couldn’t be what I wanted to be? How would I feel towards them? How could I love them? Jesus talked about turning our cheek, loving our enemies… but I think it’s often hard to feel connected to that… Jesus you were the son of God, that gives you a bit of an advantage in this… But Martin Luther King Jr. he was just a man. Don’t get me wrong I’m not elevating him to higher than Jesus but he was a true example of someone who followed Jesus’s example.  A man who stood in the face of ugly hate and chose love, chose peace, chose the better way. And even though my kids get that he was a true man of love and peace, they don’t really understand the world he had to live in. They get that they serve others on his birthday to celebrate his dedication to the betterment of other, his dedication to loving others, his dedication to service. They don’t see the other side though, they don’t realize what sacrifices he made to be able to serve others. They don’t get that he was surrounded by people yelling and hating on him, that he had to ask others to choose this tough way of peace and that many suffered because of it. Am I not doing Mr. King justice by keeping this side?  Today at the library we read Busing Brewster.  It was a random pick up by me. I was drawn to the illustrations. It was a tough book… My 6 year old made it half way through and then got upset and stopped listening. My 8-year-old wanted to finish but wouldn’t read the history part on the back. The story was about the forced busing to help end segregated schooling in the 1970s.  WHAT the 1970s???  I was born  in the 70s… okay granted the very end… but I had no idea that there was still segregated schools in the 70s that people would attack verbally and sometimes physically kids coming into schools. How could I be so ignorant? How can this horrible thing that happened to kids over and over again have happened in my lifetime in the United States? And it also made me realize my kids aren’t necessarily ready for all the details of this time. And I am thankful to those who write books and movies for children about this time to ease them into the full understanding.

I love what Denene Millner said in her MyBrownBaby article: Beyond MLK Day: Teaching Kids Why Martin Matters  saying that our kids generation see Dr. King as a past, often not realizing that Dr. King’s words aren’t that far in the past. We are in a very different time then Dr. King lived, but I hope that my grandkids will live in a very different time than my kids live now.

Today our church had a day of service at a nursing home. We played bingo, we laughed, my kids made friends, my kids loved every minute of it. They definitely didn’t feel like they did any service, but they connected with people. We connected with people who don’t often get that opportunity, we connected with people who are in some part disenfranchised. I don’t know if I’m doing right by the amazing Dr. King, I don’t even know exactly how I can, but I know that today was a beautiful day. We felt love, shared love, and remembered a past that wasn’t always full of that love. My prayer is that they will continue to remember this man in a way that they will continue to be change in the world.

What I learned this month… what I do is art

I love art. I might (in my own mind) consider myself a real artist, but I’ve never been paid so I’m thinking I’m just someone who enjoys painting, drawing, sewing, photography, building, and well any kind of creating. So it is easy for me to feel like that is my art, that is the art I do. And well that is it, the rest of my life is my life. My cooking (really less than par), my cleaning (even worse than the cooking), and my parenting and wifing (if that’s a word) and even my engineering are all really just my activities, how I’m spending my time. Then I started reading A Million Little Ways – uncover the art you were made to live by Emily Freeman. On a very high level it talks about that we are art (made and created by God) and we make art (not just my narrow definition of it.) Now usually I stay clear of such heady, deep books like that. I’m in a stage where I like to read practical books like The Connected Child and other adoption books. However, I am often taken by Emily on the Simple Mom podcast and subscribe to her blog and thought I should try it out. I was wrong about it not being practical. I’m not really sure how she does it, but she is really helping me uncover my art. She is showing me that “There are many ways, a million little ways, that Christ is formed in me and spills out of me into the world.” (p.29).

This is hard for an engineer like me. Even though I think of myself as creative and out of the box, I also put things into categories all the time. This is my work time, this is my play time, this is my time to be with my kids… etc. But I’m realizing that if I stop that, if I am fully present in what I’m doing if I pursue the things that God gave me passion about and pursue them in His ways, I’m creating art. So here is my art..
homeschoolI am a homeschooling mom now. I wasn’t before and I won’t be after this year. You see we are adopting and my two daughters go to an amazing, small, loving Christian school. It’s probably not expensive in the realm of private schools, but it is still a good percentage of our income. My husband and I chose together that I would homeschool the girls this year to save that money instead of starting a job. It is a pretty big change from staying home with a preschooler and one kid in school full-time, it takes away a lot of my free time, it often makes our house a disaster place, and it almost always leaves me pretty tired and a lot less patient by 3:30 pm. But lately I’ve been letting it be my passion. I love crafts and activities and fun. I love my daughters. I love reading with them. I love being outside with them. I love all of these things. These things bring me joy so I’ve decided to focus on them through out our day. We don’t worry about crossing every T and dotting every I, but we sometimes read for two hours in their bed before they’ve even changed, we frequent the park, we’ve cooked so many things (they’ve cooked so many things on their own, our watercolor paints now stay in our diningroom permanently… and so do our smiles. Somehow all the spelling gets learned, and we make sure we do the minimum… but don’t get me wrong they (we) are learning so much more. We learned about a whole bunch of presidents, had fun learning capitals, learned to embroider, charted our families favorite types of oatmeal cookies, made our Halloween costumes, are known by name at the library and get to do a quiet time together everyday. The laundry no longer gets put a way… I literally clean the clothes and put them on the guest bed and we pick out what we need.  I cook the same 5 things over and over, and well even though I try to keep the kitchen clean, the other rooms are proving entropy (tending toward disorder without the addition of outside energy)  to be true.  But that isn’t my art. The bond that I’m growing with my two girls is my art. Learning Amharic together as we prepare for their brother is our art, tickles and laughs are my art, letting them be more responsible is my art, and teaching them how to be a mom is my art. Even though my mom and I are growing closer as I become an adult, I lived with my dad as a child, I often grew up wondering if I’d even be able to be a good mom, there was pain and hurt there…  but it’s healing now. Jesus shows us that He fills us up and He comes out of us in a million little ways (in art)… even ways we didn’t ever think we’d be able to do, even ones we were never prepared for. Emily says – What if I look inside and I’m a hot mess? Then states… you are. I am a hot mess, but I’m a hot mess who is learning that Jesus is helping me find my passion and making art that is affecting the world even if it’s just starting with those in my home.

The day my daughter lost her sh*@! over the word an

I don’t ever curse… you can ask my friends they’ll back me up, but I had no other way to describe today… the day I’m still in as I hide in my room with the timer set to 15 minutes as the girls have break/running/no work time. I’ve spent the last two hours with a screaming and crying almost 6-year-old. I am using this post to literally unpack what happened in my mind and hopefully try to learn from this experience for her benefit and my own. She is doing great in kindergarten, I can’t  believe how much she can read already and how she loves to sound things out. She really can do anything she wants to do WANT being the operative term. This week we are adding color words to our list of sight words, she pretty much knows them but I thought we could do some fun activities and Miss thing (my 8-year-old) has to do a color wheel this week and well it’s fall and those are my favorite colors coming around… so I thought it was perfect.

I decided to have her make a color book. Se loves making books and I”m really trying to do this enrichment stuff led by her interest. Each page was a different color and she was going to write ” I see a ______________   _______________. ” She was going to fill in the color of the paper and add an object to the sentence. She already knows the sight words I, see, a, an, and all the _at family words so I thought with a little help she could make a book she could feel proud of. She did black first great – she just forgot a… no big deal I was helping her
Next I wrote I see a black cat. and then under it I wrote I see an orange… and it was all over. Mom it’s a orange. Then I told her about the word an which she had already learned how to read and that this is what an is used for. It goes before naming words that start with a vowel. Which are all terms she can understand. She threw a fit. I mean an all out hissy fit. She screamed ” I will not write that and you can’t make me!” It was crazy and illogical and had some more screaming in it. Normally I’d loving say ooh we need to calm down let’s go up stairs and have some alone time, but I’ve been reading AHA parenting. It’s an amazing read. It makes so much sense. I struggle with big feelings, and that’s why I can be passive aggressive and try to eat away my feelings… I don’t want to do that to my girls… I want to handle this situation right so here goes.

So here’s how it went down. She is literally screaming, stamping and yelling about how she won’t write an and I can’t make her. (This is a true story, and  it was as surreal as it sounds.) THese are the tips Dr. Laura gives..1. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that there is no emergency.  2. Remind yourself that tantrums are nature’s way of helping small people let off steam3. Remember that anger comes from our “fight, flight or freeze” 4. Set whatever limits are necessary to keep everyone safe, while acknowledging the anger and staying compassionate  5. Set limits on actions only, not on feelings.  6. Keep yourself safe.  7. Stay as close as you can.8. Don’t try to reason or explain.  9. Don’t try to evaluate whether he’s over-reacting.  10. Acknowledging her anger will help her calm down a bit.
Sadly I didn’t have them with me but I remembered quite a few. I talked calmly and quietly and stated that I understood that the word didn’t sound as good to her as a. I said that it’s not fun to not want to do something, I stayed close, I let her be mad. But I did mess up one part I tried to explain “an” thinking maybe she’d understand… big mistake mentioning “an” set her off all over with more passion (seriously I was thinking in my head is this really happening?) I did acknowledge her anger. Finally I just hugged her and didn’t say anything and it took another 20 minutes till she calmed down… but now I’m at a point of what do I do now. She needs to learn to use the word “an”. She also needs to learn that just because she doesn’t like something doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to do it. What happens when she’s no longer homeschooled and has to do what her teacher says. I’m a little unsure of how to go on, we ended up doing a math sheet on apples. The irony is that her word family of the week is the _an family. I have printed out about 20 activities to do with the _an family. Oh the irony is not going to be lost on her, she’ll be annoyed and might throw another fit just because of it. But I’ll press on. Today for my own sanity we are going to avoid the an word even as an ending and begin again tomorrow.

My take away: It’s true kids can’t listen to reason or make good choices when they are throwing a fit and punishing them more for that reason is just continuing the cycle. They need to learn coping methods for calming down. This little girl likes hugs (it was a little funny to see her internal struggle of wanting a hug and not wanting to be nice to me). I’ve learned that she is stubborn and doesn’t want to conform just because you say so and hopefully as an adult this will be a great quality that will have her thinking out of the box and maybe keep her from negative peer pressure. But alas for now it is to be parented and reigned in. I know what I’m about to say next is a bit controversal, but I want her to be able to obey. I want her to question, but to be able to be obedient to her parents. We are loving and caring parents that have always loved, admitted our mistakes, and never ever spank. She needs to trust us and obey us. The word an is a part of the English language and she needs to learn how to use it. It’s my job to teach her and just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean she can just choose to ignore it. Just like she can’t choose to ignore safety rules, or rules about how to treat others. Sometimes we have to do things we disagree with because they are the right thing to use!

After she calmed down we tried to brain storm solutions..

My idea… lets write it an  with the n being really small so she can show it that she disagrees but is still writing it the write way and that she would still be learning how to use it in the correct way.
She vetoed that idea.

Her idea… She could write two books one the way I want and one the way she wants, but then she added in a not great tone “but I’m only going to read the one with a”. I told her that statement was meant to be unkind and we don’t talk unkind to each other.  (Just so you know at this point I’m on the point of losing it and that my nice voice really sounds like it’s on the edge of me screaming even though it’s really quiet.)

I said maybe we aren’t quite ready to share yet while we are still angry so let’s do something fun, I read her a story for her reading word pages. Then it was break time.

I am not sure what tomorrow brings or if I’m ridiculous for feeling – Oh she will learn to use the word an, but it’s how I feel and Dr. Laura says we should validate feelings. And that is what this blog post is doing for me.. writing it out is feeling validating… also I’m really up for suggestions. Also I really wished I could have video taped her all and out fit because i know my words don’t do it justice. But really all I want is to say thank you to Dr. Laura or helping me from keeping that girl in her room til she calmed down teaching her that I can’t deal with her big feelings, because even though I really don’t know the right way to deal with them I want her to know that I want to try to deal with them with her and that I want her to learn how to work through them, and that it’s okay to have them.

Please check out AHA parenting.. .this is not a sponsorship – she has no idea who I am…