Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy 65th Birthday to my wonderful father! And now for his 65th birthday list like the one I made for my mom.

My Dad...
1.) Is a cornball.
2.) Is an extremely faithful person.
3.) Is generous to a fault.
4.) Has always paid special attention to those less fortunate.
5.) Built many a club-house for us kids, including a tree-house.
6.) Took us to the free softball games at Kellet Park with a brown bag full of home-made pop-corn.
7.) Comes up with some of the biggest pipe-dreams imaginable.
8.) Makes some of those dreams a reality, much to my mother's chagrin.
9.) Spent lots of time with us kids, answering any question we might have about God, the Bible, and the church.
10.) Led family devotions every night.
11.) Supported my mother unconditionally in fulfilling her dream of home-schooling all of us kids.
12.) Painted 3 foot diamonds on our sidewalk to make our house easier for people to find.
13.) Loved to plant fruit trees.
14.) Is very, very quirky.
15.) Loves history.
16.) Took me out for ice-cream on numerous occasions to discuss my boyfriends.
17.) Hauled van-loads of kids to church in his old, blue van in which he had installed carpeted, wooden benches all along the sides.
18.) Wiggles his feet for comfort (which I inherited).
19.) Has a temper.
20.) Suffers from severe, chronic back pain which makes it difficult to function.
21.) Was in the Navy.
22.) Grew up on a dairy farm.
23.) Has created some beautiful paintings.
24.) Has the respect of many a formerly down-trodden person who is able to live a better life because my dad helped them in many ways and gave them a second chance.
25.) Drives like Jehu.
26.) Used to be an atheist.
27.) Used to be a preacher and car-salesman simultaneously.
28.) At one point, delivered newspapers, worked a full-time secular job, and worked full-time in the ministry to provide for his family.
29.) Owned and rode a Honda motorcycle for several years.
30.) Sometimes thinks he's funny when he's not.
31.) Sometimes doesn't know he's funny when he is.
32.) Set all clocks in our house 15 minutes ahead of time and called it "Pratt Time."
33.) Requests (adamantly) that people just walk in his house instead of knocking.
34.) Hasn't an ounce of pretense in him.
35.) Corralled the family and any extras into leaving by announcing at the top of his lungs, "Pratts and all those riding with Pratts, get in the Pratt-mobile!!!!"
36.) Is a good cook.
37.) Loves masking tape.
38.) Liked to take us kids crabbing and let the little crabs loose on the dock to chase us.
39.) Listened to the radio blaring at all hours of the day, including at the dinner table which always made my mother furious.
40.) Started the Enid Youth Rally and had a big heart for the youth, even though he wasn't always successful with them.
41.) Calls me "Bubbles."
42.) Came to my fast food job almost every morning on his way to work to eat breakfast and see how I was doing.
43.) Fell in love with my husband before I did.
44.) Would yell, "Everybody pick up ten things," whenever someone came to visit.
45.) Came outside in his underwear with a gun one night when we girls thought we saw someone looking in our window.
46.) Sang at high volumes early in the morning.
47.) Loves to make giant whole wheat pancakes with fruit in them.
48.) Was incessantly telling us girls to get off the gas pedal when we played the piano.
49.) Hates to go fishing but took my brother anyway.
50.) Bought us all kites and took us to Purdue Park to fly them.
51.) Taught us kids how to drive.
52.) Performed my wedding ceremony.
53.) Wants to believe the best about people.
54.) Raised us with very black and white convictions and was always able to explain why.
55.) Sings well.
56.) Has been beaten down many times.
57.) Always gets back up...a little slower each time, though.
58.) Can be very obnoxious.
59.) Never wears jeans.
60.) Taught us girls how to change a tire and do minor car maintenance.
61.) Drove many miles to take our family on trips and vacations, singing and playing car games along the way (and fighting too).
62.) Loves to hear someone play the saw.
63.) Got the whole family involved in cheering for the St. Louis Cardinal games during baseball season.
64.) Is a good whistler.
65.) Taught us all what it means to love God and work hard.

I love you, Dad! Wish I could be there with you today!

Monday, May 17, 2010

If Only Everything Were Always Ideal...

They offered me a job working in the kitchen three days a week at Allika's school. It's pretty much the same thing I was doing before on a volunteer basis, but I get paid for it now. I thought that was pretty cool.

I've already been able to be there when she's experienced a difficult situation or had something exciting to show me. That makes me feel good.

She's learning a lot of social lessons that have been very good for her and us both. She's learning how to treat the fat boy in her class that everyone else thinks is full of germs. She's learning how to be friends with the little girl who doesn't have any other friends and sometimes thinks that even Allika doesn't want to be her friend. She's had to set boundaries when some of the kids have been mean to her. She was able to handle a difficult situation by confronting it in a respectful way and getting her teacher involved. She has had to face fears and learn that everything doesn't always turn out as badly as she thinks it will. We have had to work with her and guide her through learning how to handle some of these situations, so I think we have been learning some new parenting skills, as well.

I am so proud of her! I think she is learning so many life lessons that will be extremely valuable to her as she grows up and has to deal with some of the same situations, but on a larger scale and in an uncontrolled environment.

I'm not sure that she would have been provided with the same scenarios by just staying at home with Van and me. She does have neighborhood friends, church friends, and other home-educated friends, but even in those environments, she would not be faced with the same kind of situations as she has been at school. Plus, her contact with those people is much more limited.

There are still so many things I prefer about home-schooling. When I think of going back to it, however, I see that there are a lot of really great things I would be giving up at her school. I am coming to realize that there are pros and cons to each option, but I can't have the best of both worlds. I don't know, maybe there's something out there that does offer that option. That would be ideal.

Until I find it, though, I am slowly coming to terms with this new transition in our lives. It has been good in many ways. We will continue to see how it goes through the summer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Okay. So, I have about 15 minutes, and I owe it to you guys to post something because life has been so full lately, and I love it, but it means a lot less time to keep in touch with all of you...which I don't love.

Anyway, the last two weekends we had out-of-town company. It was so much fun and made us feel so special that they would come just to see us. We went to see the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Awesome, people! Remember how I told you that I'm the one who races through exhibits at top speed while Van has to absorb every inch of them? Well, not this time. I was just enthralled with the thing. It was so worth the time and money to see it. In fact, I would love to do a detailed post just on that. But it's doubtful.

We also went to the Festival of Nations with our company. That is such a neat experience. They have all the different ethnic foods, music, dancing, and crafts. I always have to get the bread pudding and chicken curry from Nepal, the gyros from Greece, and the wantons from China. We all got different things and were sampling each other's food. It was so much fun.

Another thing we did was go see the Minnesota Orchestra play Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It was a special free concert funded by Target. They had this 15-year-old violinist. He was out-of-this-world amazing. They also played Summertime by Gershwin in this very cool jazz arrangement. Outstanding! It went by so quickly and the kids were just sitting on the edge of their seats, soaking it in. It was so neat watching Allika, because she was absolutely entranced by it all. There were sometimes when we would look over and she would be conducting the orchestra herself or pretending to play various instruments.

Speaking of Allika, she's doing so well in school. I really need to update you guys on that...and so much more, but I've got to go now. I really hope I can be on here more frequently. Thanks for being patient with me while my life goes in a million directions.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thanks To My Husband... is a glimpse of some of our experiences over the last two weeks.

Allika, at the zoo with her friends, Skyelynn and Morgan

Sitting on a turtle

An Easter egg hunt in our backyard with Allika, Tea, Avery, Joy, and Kenny

First day of school

Trip to Duluth: Allika, throwing rocks into Lake Superior

Allika and Van at Lake Superior

Allika, chasing sea gulls

View from Enger Tower

Enger Tower

Climbing down from Enger Tower

View from the ledge

Silly People

Allika, at her first Art Fair...can you tell she didn't want her picture taken?

Allika, in front of her locker

Allika, having fun at her school playground

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's Been A While

Wow! How long has it been since I blogged last? Two weeks? Life is kind of zooming along, and I'm sort of just holding on for dear life until I get adjusted enough to be able to seat myself and take in the scenery. Plus, I was wanting to include pictures of some of the stuff we've been doing lately, and...I have a confession to make. Anything that involves more than typing and hitting the submit button lands in my technologically-skilled husband's "to do" box, which is quite full at the moment. Therefore, there will probably be no pictures for a while, which saddens my heart immensely.

Where to begin?

Allika has officially started week #2 of her new school. I am withholding my opinion until we get a little further along, and I can be a little less emotional in my assessment.

As far as Allika is concerned, she absolutely loves it. She has already learned a lot about being friends and the difference between true friends and lousy friends. Her tooth chipped off (again) last week, and she was so petrified of going to school with a broken tooth. She thought no on would want to be her friend and everyone would laugh at her and make fun of her. I told her that if someone wasn't going to be her friend because she had a broken tooth, they weren't her true friend anyway. Well, by the end of the day, she was so excited because she had found a true friend in Annie. Now, whenever we talk about Annie, Allika is sure to mention, "And Annie's a true friend, too."

The only negative thing she does say is that she is so tired by the end of the day. I can see the exhaustion on her face and in her actions. I have been told that for the first month it will be that way. Of course, this causes my emotional mother instincts to revolt and cry out against the injustice of seven-year-old children going to school thirty-five hours a week. Surely, no one else has ever successfully raised children with those kind of school hours.

There is a constant battle going on inside of myself, trying to stay alert and cautious, recognizing the need to slowly let the string out a little more while still holding on to it, distinguishing between my own happiness and what is best for my daughter, deciding what are healthy intuitions that need to be heeded and what are anxious emotions into which the truth needs to be spoken.

I have started volunteering in the kitchen three days a week. I was going to start helping in the classroom today, but I have a little cold and am still waiting on my background check. I have met many wonderful parents, teachers, and students and do feel like God has me there for a reason. I am already scheduled to get together with one mother who wants to discuss the adoption process with me. I have also been able to talk with a mom who has experienced tremendous loss.

I was so happy to hear Allika say to her friends, "Oh look! That's my mom! Hi Mom!" She was so excited to see me there. Then, she asked if I could be the teacher in her classroom. That gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Unfortunately, she wasn't as excited for her friends to see her dad. That is something we have just run into, and it is breaking my heart. We are trying to figure out how to handle the situation the best way. He has struggled with weight all his life, and I think she is realizing that he is bigger than other kids' dads are and it is starting to embarrass her. She loves her daddy so much, and he is the best kind of daddy any girl could ever want, and I'm not just saying that.

Anyway, just another teaching lesson in the journey of parenting.

There is so much I want to tell you all about. The last two weeks have been jam-packed with activity and blog-worthy events. I think I have written enough for now, though. I will try to do a better job of keeping up, but I can make no promises.

Monday, March 29, 2010


As you can see, I've been making a few changes to my blog. Nothing much, but I like it. I am really technologically challenged, so changes will probably be slow over the life-time of my blog.

Another change to report is that we have officially decided to send Allika to the new school. She will start next Tuesday. We went out and got her uniforms. She is so excited about wearing those. More power to ya, kiddo.

I have been in somewhat of a depression over the whole thing. My mom finally got it. She said, "You feel like you're losing your job." It was so nice to talk to her about it and know she understood. I feel this emptiness when I think about having 35 hours a week without her. I know it isn't going to be that drastic because I will be volunteering at her school part of that time, but it still will be a different kind of interaction with her.

I also feel sad when I think of leaving the whole "home-schooling culture." It definitely is a sub-culture, a different way of thinking, and a way of life. It is kind of like leaving one religion for a different one. Yes, that is a dramatic way of putting it, but that is how I roll. I just have to keep being honest with my feelings and emotions over this.

There are these really militant home-educators who will not let me off very easily. But there were also these really militant public educators who gave me a hard time when we decided to home-school. It just goes to show you that child-rearing decisions are very personal and must be made by the parents, with the child's best interest in mind.

I am so scared of bullies, perverts, and anything that might hurt my daughter. We are trying this over the summer (because they have school year-round), and you better believe that if something doesn't seem quite right, we will resume home-schooling or another alternative in a heart-beat. I know I am very intense and high-strung about this, but education is a very formative part of a child's development. Of course, I'm studying that part of development in college right now, and it's scaring the snot out of me. I cannot take it too lightly.

We already decided not to let her take the bus because it was an extra TWO HOURS (!!!!!!!) every day just riding the stinkin' bus! That's forty-five hours a week of her being gone. No way. She's only seven for crying out loud!! Those are adult working hours! It will mean an extra forty miles of driving a day, but it's worth it to spend some quality time with her in the mornings on her way to school and discussing her day after we pick her up.

We will see where God takes us. For now, we are taking this huge step ever so gingerly. We don't know what he is doing, but he is doing something, and we will trust him with the outcome.

Okay, onto something else I wanted to share with you all. I got the reports back from my blood tests and ultra sound, and I am still doing great! The thyroglobulins (of which you ideally want to have none) were not undetectable, but they were really low, so they will just keep an eye on them.

When I went in to get my ultra-sound, the lady told me that it is not uncommon to find more lymph nodes, so I got kind of nervous. Then, she started clicking away on her keyboard and measuring and holding the ultra-sound head in one spot for a really long time. So, of course, I was thinking, "Great! She found another one! You've got to be kidding me! I don't want to go through this all over again!"

Well, we got all done, and she said I could go. Just like that. I looked at her and asked if I needed to talk to the doctor or anything. She said that she hadn't found anything to bring to the doc's attention, so I was good to go. Phew!! That little scare there made the relief even more palpable when I got the good news.

Thank you, God, for another six months of good health!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Big Decisions, Part II

Today, we all went to check out the school we are thinking about sending Allika to.

When we pulled into the parking lot we all sat there and prayed together that God would give us wisdom and help us to see what he wanted us to see. We asked that he would open and close doors in an obvious way and that our hearts would be very sensitive to his direction, even if it would involve sacrifices and inconveniences on our part.

I know some of you probably think we're taking this a little too seriously, but I do believe it will have a great effect on Allika's future and the direction of her life.

Van and I got to observe in several of the classes, and Allika got to attend the classes as a guest. She absolutely loved it. She was a little awkward socially (go figure), but was very excited that several of the kids liked her. She did very well academically. She will be put in 2nd grade for reading and the advanced math class. She will finish out the remainder of 1st grade in all her other subjects (science, art, phys.ed., music, geography).

They do teach both creation and evolution. A note is sent home to the parents when evolution is being taught to let them know what aspects are being covered and when. That way, when the kids are at home, the parents can go over exactly what is being taught. They also allow the kids to choose not to participate in those portions of the lessons if it goes against their beliefs to do so.

They do really well at adapting to each individual child's level of learning. They do one-on-one teaching with children who need it. We saw little desks set up all over with a teacher and a student working together on something. In addition, children are put in higher grades if the child is advanced in a particular subject. They also set their classes up with different "stations" of specific aspects of the same subject. The children rotate through stations and learn about a particular subject from various angles. I believe they referred to it as differentiation. It gives students the opportunity to learn according to their particular learning style.

Everything is very hands-on, even in the higher grades. The kids are also encouraged to be a part of some of the decisions regarding the school. They vote for what equipment to buy for the playground (they get votes for different decisions based on how many books they read), they help to build the playground, they clean parts of the school that they have a personal connection to. It gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

They value parental involvement and require it, so I am excited to get involved in Allika's school that way. Today, she was asking me and Van to please leave, so I don't know how thrilled she will be to have me there, but oh well. It's part of life.

All our questions and worries were answered very satisfactorily. There just seem to be several indications to go ahead with it that we probably shouldn't ignore. One thing we find very interesting is that we are scheduled to start April 6, and there are over 200 people on the waiting list to get in. How did that happen when we weren't even actively pursuing an education with them? The other thing is that all our reasons for why we wouldn't want to send her to school (which are probably different than most people who home-school) are no longer valid in this situation. When we combine that with some concerns we have had lately about some things that are hard to explain here, we wonder if God isn't preparing the way before us to send her to this school.

The only thing that's really hard for me is not being able to be with her all the time. I know part of parenting is slowly letting go, but this doesn't seem very slow. I love spending time with her and getting to experience life together. I also dreamed of being a home-school mom. It is how I always pictured we would be. I don't like to admit defeat, but I do think this will be better for her in the long run. I know not everyone will understand or agree with our decision, but I also know that they aren't aware of all the details surrounding our decision. They still may not agree even if they were.

Anyway, I think we are leaning toward giving this a try. It is a huge decision. To some of you, it may not seem that way, but for me, it really is difficult.