Tuesday, February 26, 2013

march, you're a big one.

two big firsts for me this month:

1. i'm going to uganda! it's my first time to uganda, and the first time i've (a) gone to a foreign country without jamie and (b) left my kids for several days. our dearest friends, scott and erin, started a non-profit called the mighty river project a couple of years ago that serves ugandan women and their children. the vision of tmrp is simple: empower women, prevent orphans. right now, they are fundraising to be able to move there and serve full-time. in the meantime, they buy products from four women and pay them a fair wage salary each month, then sell those products in the states to raise funds for tmrp. those funds will ultimately help them get on the ground there, but the money is also used towards benevolence projects in uganda. you can read more about tmrp (and you should definitely visit the store!) by clicking the button over on my sidebar. erin and i will be in uganda for nine days meeting with the women tmrp currently supports, checking in on families and individuals who have been served through the various benevolence projects, and making connections with others who may become part of tmrp in the future. i'm also hoping to visit a family who went to our church but who now serve at an orphanage/school in uganda.

unsurprisingly, there are lots of nerves about this trip in our house right now (mostly me for the kids and vice versa), but i'm so excited for this trip. you can't really be friends with scott and erin without starting to love uganda yourself, even if you've never been there, because their love for it is so contagious and real.  three things that give me a lot of joy about this trip:

-- sitting at the feet of ugandan women and hearing their stories (something i really wished we'd gotten to do more of in ethiopia, because i think that's really how you get to know a country and a culture). we had a pretty insulated experience of ethiopia (though, not totally, since we did have the opportunity to visit korah, the neighborhood located within addis ababa's trash dump...and, well, just riding down the streets of addis is startling in many ways), but i look forward to being with people in their homes, in their villages, etc and seeing how daily life is lived in uganda.
-- getting out of the mommy-box. i love my children and love staying home with them, but i get so excited just thinking about getting to serve and give to and love and minister to someone other than them for a bit. stay-at-home mothering can feel all-encompassing sometimes, and i like knowing that this trip will be an outlet of sorts for me to do something else i feel passionate about.
-- laying over in ethiopia on the way there and back (we're flying ethiopian air). maybe it sounds silly, but there's an emotional little spot in my heart that looks forward to being on ethiopian soil, even if it's just in the airport, for a small amount of time and being able to see the land that means so much to our family.

obviously, erin and i would love prayers for our travels and for our time in uganda to be fruitful. because scott and erin are only able to travel over there a couple of times a year, lots needs to get done while we're in country (you can also pray for tmrp and consider giving since being fully funded would entail scott and erin being able to move over there and serve full-time). but i'd also love prayers for my kids and jamie as he's with them most of the time i'm gone (with some help from my mom). these types of things aren't easy for most kids, but they're especially difficult for kids who have a lot of baggage and trauma around a parent leaving (because, obviously, our kids wouldn't be our kids if that parent had come back).

and now, something nowhere near as exciting or as significant as going to uganda, but still a big deal for me...

2. i'm running my first 5k! i emailed one of my college roommates recently and said, "i really wish all the girls could see me now since i wasn't much of an athelete...or an exerciser for that matter. i think a lot of the reason why i didn't play sports or even really exercise was that i lacked a lot of self-confidence (and i could get away with it because i had really good metabolism and walked a lot around campus). after having a basketball-sized ovarian cyst removed last september, i wanted to commit to exercising regularly for my health. i started out using our elliptical, but then i saw a blog post about the color me rad 5k, and i knew i wanted to try it. i've been following a couch to 5k plan since january with some girls in my small group, and i have been amazed at what a little commitment and discipline can do. before i started, i was convinced there'd be no way i could run three miles in a decent amount of time. now that i've done it a few times, i've gotten over the psychological hurdle of "i can't do this" and am now working on bettering my time. i've actually realized that i enjoy running, and my confidence has grown enough that i think i want to shoot for a longer race in the future.

cheers to march!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

on not homeschooling

today was an exciting day in the dean house, because it's official:

kal is going to school! [in august :)]

we have been talking about homeschooling since before our kids came home. we had a lot of reasons why we wanted to do it, and a lot of those reasons still stand (meaning that we haven't ruled out homeschooling for the future).

but right now, we have a kid who has been asking about "going to school" for quite some time now. she's an extrovert (she doesn't get that from me), and the more we've come out of the cocoon we've been living in the last nine months, the more i've seen that the community of a more traditional classroom might be good for her.

it's been hard to make this decision, especially because (for me, at least) pride is involved. from an adoption standpoint, i want to shout, "my child is attached enough to do this! i love her even though i'm sending her to school! she won't think her school is an orphanage, or her teacher is her new mommy!" (and if she does, we will pull her out. duh.) from a we-said-we-were-gonna-homeschool-but-now-we're-not standpoint, i want to shout, "we didn't decide this because homeschooling was too hard! we didn't just 'see the light' and realize homeschooling is crazy! we might still homeschool kal or buma or any future children!"

i just realize how much i care what people think about me, even when i'm still confident in the decision i'm making.

but enough about pride, let me tell you about this awesome school.

it's called the children's center, and i've loved this school since i worked in the daycare there for a summer in 2008. the school primarily serves children from birth to elementary age who have physical and/or developmental disabilities. however, they also have integrated classrooms where typically-developing children learn alongside children with disabilities. recently, the school added a kindergarten class for typically-developing children. because the school is part of the county school system, the curriculum is the same as any other public school kindergarten (thus, kal would be on track if we eventually switch her to a public school). however, because the school serves children with special needs, it gets a lot of unique special programming that the children in the typically-developing kindergarten class also benefit from.

for us, this is perfect. we knew if we were going to choose something other than homeschooling, it would have to be a little off the beaten path. we love that kal will go to school with lots of kids who don't look like her, kids who she can learn from and vice versa. diversity (not just racially, but in other ways) is important to us. it also seems perfect for our family, as disability is part of our family's identity (since jamie is blind). we want kal to see disability in positive ways. but we also love that while she will get a traditional education in some ways, she will be exposed to a lot of different "specialities" that she may not get in a traditional public school.

there are also benefits for our whole family in this. buma is still behind in language development and probably needs more one-on-one time with me, perhaps even some therapy. we have talked seriously about adding to our family sooner rather than later due to the fact that i'm at an increased risk to develop another huge ovarian cyst (and have already lost one ovary). so while i could homeschool with all that going on, i think this (for now) helps every child (even future ones, if there are any) get the most of mommy.

even though this is not what we planned on, we are so excited. i literally got teary-eyed as i walked through the school today because what is happening there is so beautiful, and i can't wait for kal to be part of it.