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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cancer Update

It's been six months since my radioactive iodine treatment. Today I went in for my six-month check-up. They did some blood work and will be doing an ultra-sound on my neck next week. That's just standard procedure every six months. There is nothing alarming that has caused them to order these procedures.

The doctor did feel something abnormal on my neck when I swallowed, but he thinks it's just scar tissue.

There is a 30% chance of recurrence with thyroid cancer, especially when it has spread to the lymph nodes. I will believe I am in the 70% until I am told otherwise. That just makes the most sense to me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Big Decisions, Part I

We have been presented with an interesting situation. It is one that we were not actively seeking out, nor did we see coming.

It has happened so quickly that I am not sure what to think about it.

We got a call from a friend this week whose children were accepted into a very nice charter school that is really hard to get into. There are long waiting lists and they do a lottery to choose new families.

She informed us that they had one opening for 1st grade. So, Van gave them a call and, sure enough, they just needed to do a placement test and get our registration form, and we would be all set to start April 6th.

Just to give you a little background - we had looked into this school several years ago and were really impressed with it. They have school year-round which helps the students retain more of what they learn and gives really nice breaks all year long (one complete week or more off per month on average). They also get one month off in the summer, so they don't have to be in school the whole time all their friends are out for Summer Break. They adapt the style of learning to each individual student because they understand that not all students learn in the same way. Parental involvement is mandatory; you are required to volunteer a certain amount of hours each week. Art and science are the emphasis, although they teach all subjects from a classical curriculum (you can google what that means because that is almost a whole other post). We have been informed that they teach both creation and evolution (we haven't verified that yet, but we will), which is what we plan on doing in home-schooling in order to help her form a very intentional and studied-out worldview.

Another thing we like is that a large majority of the students there were formerly home-educated and are part of families who have a lot of the same moral standards and beliefs that we have. I know that doesn't necessarily mean anything because those kids can sometimes be the worst ones when they are given a little freedom, but sometimes it ends up being the other way around instead.

Anyway, for various reasons, we did not end up sending her there.

And now we are faced with this very sudden decision.

We are rather conflicted about it. Home-schooling has started to feel more comfortable, and yet, there are still some issues involved.

Allika has a hard time interacting with and relating to children her own age. She is an only child and also experienced some minor "bullying" issues in the Montessori school she was in previous to home-schooling. These factors cause her to relate extremely well to adults, but shy away from forming new relationships with children her age.

I am well aware of all the talking points home-schoolers use regarding socialization. I was home-schooled growing up and, obviously, home-school my own daughter. I understand that home-schooling itself does not cause socialization problems for children later on in life. However, I do believe that there may be other issues that could potentially hold a child back socially, and I am not sure if Allika experiences those issues or not.

(By the way, there are several things involved which I can't really share on this blog at this point. I guess that seems kind of unfair to those of you reading my blog and trying to understand our dilemma.)

Her counselor has told me that I wear too many hats in my relationship with her because I am, of course, her mother, but I also have to take on the roles of friend, sibling, and teacher. If you will remember a while back, I posted about some of the difficulties being her teacher has added to our relationship. She has advised that allowing someone else to fill the role of teacher would free me up to be her mother and friend.

Having said all that, I have gotten to a place where I think home-schooling is working better for us. We are approaching the end of our first year, and I am looking forward to beginning our second year in the Fall. I love getting to teach her things, although it hasn't been as "Little House on the Prairie-ish" as I had originally envisioned. Having her home with me is wonderful, and I will certainly miss her during those thirty-five hours a week that she will be gone. I ask myself if that is a valid reason to keep her home with me or just my controlling nature.

Here in the cities there are so many opportunities for home-schoolers that I never had growing up. There are excellent drama clubs, speech clubs, debate teams, competitive sports, and so many other options for kids who are taught at home. I have joined a really great and supportive home-school coop and will be able to put Allika in various classes one day a week next year.

Furthermore, our community offers many wonderful learning opportunities at very affordable prices.

All of these should provide Allika with plenty of chances to socialize and learn from someone besides me.

But not on a daily basis.

And she is still an only child.

And I would be deeply involved with her education if it were out of the home.

And they would capitalize on her strengths, which happen to be my weaknesses (art and science).

And I could go on and on with the dilemma we find ourselves faced with.

So, we wonder - is God plopping this in our laps because it would be a beneficial change? Or is God using this difficult choice to cement our decision to home-school our daughter?

We still have a meeting with them to test Allika and observe several classes. There are still doors God can swing wide open or slam completely shut. I wish he always worked that way. But sometimes he doesn't make it very obvious, and we don't feel his definite leading until years later when we can clearly see why we were supposed to do one thing over another.

In the meantime, we will keep asking for wisdom.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Face Is Still Red

I had the most embarrassing moment of my whole entire life this week. I learned two lessons out of my humiliation in the process.

Allow me to share.

(Certain names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

One of the kids I babysit for is usually picked up by his mother, who pays me each time she leaves. Lately, however, his father has been the one to pick him up, and he has not remembered or thought to pay.

I have made comments to Van about the fact that the dad must think the mom is paying me and the mom must think the dad is paying me and neither one will probably ever realize I am not being paid.

Well, the last time the dad came to pick up the boy, my daughter said, "Mom, is it okay if I say this?"

That should have just been my first clue.

"Well, Allika, I don't know what you're going to say, so I can't tell you."

"But, Mom. Is it okay?"

"Is it something I've told you not to say?"


"Okay, just hurry up and say it."

(The dad was trying to leave and Allika was keeping him there to tell him this comment in question.)

The next ten seconds are ones that I wish I could erase from existence for all time. It happened in slow motion and I stood there wanting to scream and stop her from saying what she said, but it was too late. I couldn't.

Here are those words that shall forever live in infamy:

"My mom keeps on saying that you always bring Joe over, but you never pay her."

I wish I could have stuffed those words right back in her mouth. I stood there, horrified, wishing I could disappear. I didn't know what to say, because what she said was partially true, but I had been misrepresented and misquoted.

So, here are the lessons I learned from this little humiliating event:

1.) If my daughter asks me if it's okay to say something of which I am not aware, the answer is a resounding "NO!"

2.) Do not discuss anything around my daughter that I do not want her to repeat to others.

The thing about it is, the very same day, she walked into the Doctor's office and announced to the receptionist and everyone in the waiting room that her mom was going to cut up all the credit cards, and she was very upset about it because she wanted to keep them for herself.

That wasn't even close to the kind of humiliation the other episode provided me, though.

This makes me wonder what great little tidbits of information regarding our family life she has shared with her Sunday School teachers, doctors, babysitters, etc.

I can't say I was never warned about this stage.