It has been far too long since I last blogged. Time has just gotten away from me. Brace yourself for what you are about to hear, because if you know me at all, what I am about to say will probably shock you. My children are now...HOMESCHOOLERS. Yes, one of the things I said I would never do I am now doing. And most days I am thoroughly enjoying it. At the beginning of November, Drew and I made the decision to take Lane and Kole out of public school and begin homeschooling. I guess I was naive to think that if I was very involved in the school that it would make a difference. It didn't. At least 2 days a week I went and ate lunch with my boys in the school cafeteria, something they loved. I was absolutely appalled to hear teachers yelling at their students and snapping at them. On more than one occasion one of the assistant principals (who happens to be a 6foot 4inch tall football coach) walked up and down the aisles yelling out for the kids to quiet down, as if he were barking orders at a football team. For whatever reason the school has it in their heads that yelling at kindergarteners and dressing them in uniforms is going to help with discipline issues. It hasn't. I really was shocked at the lack of respect many teachers and adminstrators have for the children at their school. And yet, they seem shocked when those children respond disrespectfully. It seems pretty elementary (pun intended)to me that children respond and react to the authority over them based on how that authority speaks and acts toward them. Lane and Kole were fortunate to have two teachers who were patient and kind, but unfortunately they still had to interact with teachers and parapros who were not. In fact, Lane came home in tears more than once because of something a parapro or teacher said to him. Oh yes, making saracastic threats to children also seems perfectly acceptable at Claxton Elementary School. Now, I have tried to teach my kids to be forgiving and understanding. I don't want them to be wimps, but I never thought that my advice would have to be applied to their interactions with teachers. I expect that other children would say and do mean things, but was shocked to see that type of behaviour is typical for those in authority at the school. The "last straw" was when I was standing in Kole's classroom, talking with his teacher, when I heard another teacher scream at Kole out in the hallway. Kole had gotten out of the bathroom line, and this teacher just let him have it. When I walked out into the hall I saw Kole standing there with his face in his hands, almost in tears. What kind of a mean, impatient, terrible person screams at a little boy who 1) has Down Syndrome, 2)has a hearing problem, 3) is still learning English, and 4) is a LITTLE boy! The look on Kole's face at that moment when I walked into the hall was it for me. I know to some it may seem like an overreaction to pull my children out of school because a teacher yelled. But, I say, "shame on the school for treating children like dogs, and shame on so many parents for not standing up for their children." Sometimes I think parents are so uninvolved, they are clueless as to what their children are really being taught. And even when they see something they disapprove of, they are too scared to stand up for their children. I've never wanted to hit someone so badly in my life as I wanted to hit that teacher. But, I didn't, I didn't even yell at her, because I wanted to set a better example for my children. So, that was the last week of public school for Kole and Lane. Now we are one of "those" families. A homeschooling family. To end on a positive note. God has used what was a "bad situation" to bring me closer to Kole and Lane as we learn together. They are both doing so well academically now; I wish I had started homeschooling sooner.

On the Occasion of Kole's 7th Birthday

As we are getting ready to celebrate Kole's 7th Birthday there are so many thoughts and emotions swirling through my brain. It is crazy to think that at this time last year we were still preparing our dossier to submit to Ukraine and waiting for the day when we could bring our son, Kole, home. I distinctly and vividly remember the day of April 7, 2010, Kole's Birthday; the anguish I felt that our son would be spending another birthday in an orphanage. Just like any other day, being treated as though his life was of little significance to anyone. Kole not knowing that his Mommy, Daddy, and two brothers were counting down the days til he would be with us. Kole not knowing that he is worth celebrating, that his life is significant to us, his family. And not just significant to us, but to the God who created him in His image, who formed his very being with purpose, especially that extra 21st chromosome. That chromosome that makes him different, the reason he was placed in an orphanage at birth, the reason he was to be sent to a mental institution for the rest of his life; it is the very thing that led us to him, the very thing that made us want him. That's the kind of God we serve; He takes wrong and turns it into something good and beautiful.

(Kole as a baby in the orphanage)

And we look back on these months that Kole has been home with us, we are amazed at the progress he has made. When we first met Kole, he had no idea what a crayon was or how to use it, he couldn't climb the playground set, he barely uttered a sound, he didn't play with other children, he was nervous to hug. Now, he is writing his name, he can conquer any playground, he is speaking several English words, he is playing on a soccer team, and he gives out hugs to everyone. Sometimes it angers me that for the first 6&1/2 yrs of his life he was treated as thought he couldn't learn, like he wasn't worth teaching; when he is so eager to learn, to try, to be given a chance.

People often say that what we did by adopting Kole is amazing or that we are such a blessing to him; but I mean it with all my heart when say that they are wrong; Kole is the blessing, Kole is the amazing one.

Kole has made our family better.

Kole is remarkable. And on Saturday Kole will finally get a Birthday party, and we will celebrate all that is Kole.

We hope in some small way he will understand that he is worth celebrating.