European Vacation – Day One

Getting there is…

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I cannot believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  A lot of things have changed (I’ll write about that soon), but until then… enjoy our European Vacation!!

Here are the pictures from day one…

February (and March) Books

What I read in February…

My goodreads account has lots of info on books I’m reading, have read, and will read in the future… Check it out… Since I haven’t updated in a couple of months, this will include books from February and March!!

Audacious – Beth Moore –
I could hear her voice throughout this whole book! If you have heard her speak before, this will really take you back to some of her lessons. I devoured this book!  The audio book is read by her, so if you love to hear her speak, get the audio version.  I like to listen to her southern accent (she was raised in Arkansas)… it kind of makes me homesick for Arkansas!

Poetics – Aristotle
This book was written so long ago, it is available online for free.  I thought this book was kind of weird.  It is all about poetry.  But they called almost all kinds of writing poetry, and he focuses on plays in general.  Dramas, comedies, and tragedies.  He talks about character development and even breaks down the parts of a play (story) like this…
“A beginning is that which is not itself necessarily after anything else, and which               has naturally something else after it; an end is that which is naturally after                         something itself, either as its necessary or usual consequent, and with nothing                   else after it; and a middle, that which is by nature after one thing and has also                     another after it.”
This seems absurd to me that he is literally defining beginning, middle, and end.  I can only assume that he is the first person who recognized that these three parts make up a good story.  If this was a well-known thing (like it is today), then this whole paragraph gets a big “duh!”… But maybe he was the first person to break it down and write about it in minute detail… that’s what the whole book seems to me… everything about writing and poetry written down in a very detailed way!! The whole book is available because the original had degraded so badly that it can’t be read anymore.  I read the translated version of course (Spoiler Alert: Aristotle didn’t speak English!!) 😉

A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
I knew my boys (ages 12 & 9) would want to read this series, so I bought them and started first. I loved it more than I expected to. I thought it wouldn’t really be possible for me to learn more about this story than I already knew from the numerous times I’ve watched this movie. It came out the year I was born, so I’ve always felt a special connection to it. I was pleasantly surprised by how new the story felt in this book. She changes nothing and even uses exact lines from the movie. I felt like I was right there, watching the movie from inside their heads. The characters became much more well-rounded and I learned all over again why I fell in love with them and this story the first time I saw it. Very well done!!!

Emma
This one started off slow for me because it took me some time to get used to the language. I can’t believe I didn’t read this in school when I am sure everyone else was reading it. I love books that tie everything up with a bow, and I was rooting for Emma to grow up and see what was right in front of her face the whole time. Now I’m excited to see the different movies based on this book. Really good book.

You’re The Best: A Celebration of Friendship
I read this book one “chapter” at a time with my best friend. We live on different continents, but we are definitely Satellite Sisters… This book is just wonderful! I’ve listened to their podcasts for years and I laugh out loud nearly ever time I listen… They really are The Best!!!

Frankenstein
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but this was definitely not it.  It wasn’t that the book was bad, exactly, but it wasn’t great either, and it was nothing like any of the movies.  It didn’t even have an Igor character at all.  I felt like it was something that could’ve been written by a 19 year old girl.  It was hard to get sucked in like I do with most books, and I really had to force myself to even finish reading it.

Annihilation: A Novel
I really liked this book and stayed up way too late reading it. It made me feel like I did when I watched the first few seasons of Lost. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I won’t say too much. What I can say is that this book takes place in the future, and there is a mysterious place that groups of scientists are sent to explore this area and report back what they find. We are told the story from the biologist’s point of view, and she soon learns that things are exactly as they seem… including her motives for being on the expedition. It was a really good book. I’ve added the next one to my to-read list.

The Fall of Five
This series just keeps getting more interesting to me. I started reading these because my 12 year old son was reading them and I wanted to be able to discuss them with him. But now I find myself wanting to read them just because I like them. In this book, all of the aliens have joined together and are planning to start training to be able to fight the other aliens. However… there might be a traitor among them… It’s really good… Definitely read this series, but please start with the first book, I am Number Four… They are all great!

Our Life Together

The beginning…

This is the first steps in our parenting journey.

It was the year 2000
We couldn’t get pregnant.  I needed pills and pills and tests and tests, and the whole time I kept saying, “we can adopt… I want to adopt too, so we could just do that now instead of waiting…”  Ron was in agreement, but he was also busy moving us.  We had a new assignment at a new church and we were moving back down closer to our hometowns and our parents.  We decided to wait until we were settled in the new house and then begin the process of adoption. (We were so naive about how all of that would work).

Year 2003
We move back near home and get settled into our new house.  I start to notice that I feel weird and that I’m cranky… well, more cranky than normal 🙂  I’m actually being super moody and freaking out for no real reason.  My mother suggests that I take a pregnancy test… I guess she’s had enough of my attitude. Ron was gone to camp to be a counselor during this time, so it’s good that he wasn’t around me during this time.

I bought a test but decided to wait until he came home from camp so he could be there when I took the test.  It was positive!! I was so excited.  We were busy getting everything ready for the baby, and then busy taking care of the baby.  That first year Ron graduated seminary and entered the Air Force as a reservist.  He was technically an IMA Chaplain, but that’s not what this post is about.  So let’s just say he continued to preach for the UM Church and do his regular monthly reserve duty at Little Rock Air Base.  I kept assuming we would adopt, but we would start it all when the baby was a little older.

Year 2005
Once again… I started taking all the pills… and running all the tests… this time we added in a fertility monitor someone sold us and bought our first pack of testing sticks… y’all… those things are expensive!!

Year 2006
One month using the fertility monitor and it told me exactly when I ovulated… I got pregnant.  This was 2 years after Price was born, so don’t think this happened right away.

Another baby on the way, getting everything ready for that, and Ron telling me he wants to go into the Air Force on active duty… meaning, full-time.  I was completely good with following him wherever he thought God was leading, so we started getting all of that ready and all of that training done.

We had the second baby, Wesley, and I settled in as best as I could with being a stay-at-home-mom with two kiddos, and Ron was still preaching and doing his reserve duties.

Year 2007
When Wesley was only 2 months old or so, we found out our first assignment with the Air Force on active duty… Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We’ll start the next part at Peterson…  July 2007…

Learner – Not Teacher

Making decisions isn’t easy…

Raise your hand if you know what unschooling is!  First of all, I’ve violated one of the very few rules of unschooling by adding a “school” thing to the first sentence.  Raising your hand is something we learn in school.  Have you ever raised your hand as an adult and waited to be called on for anything?  I just thought about this now… we don’t stand in Starbucks and raise our hand to be called on.  We don’t sit even in lectures and wait to be called on by raising our hands… usually there are microphones placed around the auditorium and we are asked to walk to the microphone and wait our turn.  I guess there are certain places you might raise your hand as an adult… like a magic show (if you want to be the assistant), or maybe if Jimmy Fallon is walking through the audience and you REALLY want to talk to him and be on The Tonight Show… but in most normal circumstances we don’t raise our hands to be called on.

That has nothing to do with what this post is about… 🙂  But I ramble sometimes… it can’t be helped!!

I homeschool my children.  I want to say I’ve done it since Price (my oldest) was 4 and we started doing “school” at home.  However, with some of the research and reading I’ve been doing, I’d rather say my children have learned at home since birth.  All children are taught at home for the first 4-5 years of their lives.  They learn how to walk, talk, and go to the bathroom on the toilet (some learn this easier and earlier than others).  And that kind of brings me to the point of this, I think.

We are now telling parents that they should let their children potty train when the child is ready.  We are acknowledging that there isn’t one set age where everyone should be able to go to the bathroom.  One of my children was later than I thought was normal for the potty training and I decided to just stop pushing it… my motto became (He will eventually do it… he won’t still be diapers when ______)  I usually filled that blank in with “he gets married”  or “he goes to college”… I just stepped back and stopped pushing… and he did do it… mostly on his own, and moreover, when he finally did start using the pot, he never had that period of not being able to hold it overnight.  He just did it, and almost completely on his own.  This is the same child who taught himself to read by the time he was 4, just by listening to the rest of us read aloud and watching hours of Letter Factory videos! 🙂

The reading thing again… okay.  I brought up the potty training thing to say that I think it’s the same way with the reading thing.  Kids will learn to read when their minds are ready.  To say that every 5 year old in Kindergarten SHOULD be able to read these certain words by Christmas break, or that they will be reading certain short books by the end of their Kindergarten year sets some children up to be failures from the very beginning.  Imagine that you are one of these kids whose brain needs a little more time to catch up.  I don’t mean that there is a learning disability, although… I think some of those things we label as learning disabilities might just mean that they can’t learn the way they are being taught… not that they can’t learn at all.  I’m not saying there aren’t actual disabilities that keep people from being able to learn, I’m just saying if we offered more than “one way to learn” that we wouldn’t lose so many kids right from the beginning.

As a teacher (when I taught public school) I could tell almost immediately the children whose parents worked with them at home and had probably been reading to them when they were small children, and the kids whose parents used school as a babysitter because they had to work or just didn’t want to be around their children all day.

This post is getting too long, so I’ll have to do another post later to expound on these things more.  The point of this post was for me to explore unschooling.  I would like to say that we are “trying it out”!  But in order for unschooling to work, it kind of has to be an all-or-nothing concept.  So I will say that we are now using a child-led learning style that looks nothing like school and looks a lot like watching Ghostbusters a million times to see if we can see any of the people working the animatronics in Slimer.  And to see which camera angle they used to make the marshmallow man look so much taller than anything else.  It also means we have a “Wonder Wall” in our kitchen that everyone (almost everyone) 🙂  has written something they wonder up there… It means we wake up each day not really knowing what we’re going to do or what we want to do and end up having a great adventure laughing about some crazy thing we watched on youtube or some new book we finished… The 11-yr old ran in this morning and announced he finished the first Harry Potter book and wants to know who wants it next (we’re all reading through each book before we watch the movies)… When the possibilities for learning are nearly endless, there is a period of sitting around trying to get your mind around what you want to do, but when we’re all learning together and working together even the periods of sitting around are much more fun!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who Am I? – Crafter

It’s what I do…

I nearly put that I was a Creator, but then I thought someone else already had that job, so I’m a crafter.  😉

And I’m really not a crafter either.  I do a few crafts, but I wouldn’t say that I’m “crafty”.  So whenever someone asks me if I like to do crafts, I tell them I don’t do crafts.

I like to crochet… actually, I love it!  I even made a facebook page about it.  I thought the people on my regular facebook page were tired of seeing pictures of yarn, so I created a page just for the things I crochet.  I didn’t realize how therapeutic crocheting was until recently when I was under a lot of stress waiting for the results from the medical tests.  I could put some podcasts on or an audio book, or even just some music and crochet.

I love to make almost anything, although I’m not very good at stuffed animals and such.  I’m more interested in things that are different.  I also don’t like doing the same stitch row after row and stitch after stitch… so I can’t only do those kinds of projects either.

At the end of each month, I’ll share what I made throughout the month and links to patterns, if I have them.  Most of them come from youtube videos and some of them will still be WIPs (works in progress) 😉

Anyway… Here are the January projects!!!

 

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Being a Listener

I love Podcasts…

I love podcasts… anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with podcasts.  I am never without something downloaded on my phone to listen to.  I have TONS of podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis.  I’ll post only the ones I listened to in January (I get really far behind on some of them because I have so many that I listen to)… Anyway… In no particular order… here they are… (Edit:  I’m trying to figure out how to link them to their podcast or at least the podcast page so you can listen to them if you want)

  • Satellite Sisters (I laugh out loud with EVERY show… this one is just great fun!)
  • Stuff to Blow Your Mind (random things that are cool to know about)
  • The Unschooling Life (this one is new for me and I’ve only listened to about 10 of them)
  • Stuff you Should Know (The hosts are like good friends to me because I’ve listened to this one for so long… Josh and Chuck are great together!! – Lots of different topics, and they are all great!)
  • Life of Caesar (This one is rated E (explicit) because they use curse words sometimes.  Still a great podcast that has as much goofy humor as actual history, but I love how great the guys feed off of each other… really good! – I just found this one, so I’m having to do lots of catching up to where they are now)
  • How to Do Everything (This is a podcast from NPR, and just for fun… They are usually pretty short and always revolve around some goofy topic or another)
  • Your Move with Andy Stanley (This is usually his different book and bible studies that are recorded in front of his church, and now I think they are on television after SNL maybe… anyway… he’s ALWAYS great!!  Always!!)
  • Inspired to Action  (This one is just to encourage mothers.  That’s her whole purpose because the podcasts… she interviews people – women mostly – who are living their lives and raising their kids while trying to remain Christ-focused.  She ends every podcast by saying “you’re kind of a big deal – now go be awesome” and I love every time she says it… 🙂 )
  • The Civil War Podcast (Husband and wife team, he from Pennsylvania… her from Arkansas… they do such a great job with this topic and it goes very indepth.  They are 3 years in and it’s great!!)
  • Genealogy Guys (This is just lots of news about new releases about anything in the genealogy world… great resource!!)
  • Homemakers By Choice (Donna Otto does this weekly podcast and it’s great.  She encourages women and does small bible studies)
  • The New Yorker Fiction Podcast (Someone – a writer usually – interviews a writer about one of their works coming out soon… I just discovered this podcast, and I’ve gone back to the beginning and am catching up.  I’ve gotten some great book recommendations from this podcast.)
  • The Greenlight Bookstore Radio Hour (this one works the same as the  New Yorker Fiction podcast and I’ve gotten some great recommendations from this one too)
  • Serial  (This one is handsdown my favorite podcast of January!!! It takes a story and tells it week-by-week, one episode at a time.  I just love the way the story comes together.  Oh, and they are non-fiction… The podcast is on it’s second story… the first story is about a man who’s been in prison for 15 years (since he was 18) and has continued to proclaim his innocence… the second story is about someone in the military who walked away from his post, ended up a POW, or maybe was a traitor the whole time… we have to listen to find out!!! 🙂

Let me know what podcasts you listen to or if you tried any of these!!  I listen to a LOT more, but the post was going to be way too long… I’ll review more podcasts each month until my list has been covered!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Foster Children

Our first Christmas as foster parents…

I wrote this while we were living in Turkey… we moved there from Colorado Springs and I was missing our foster kids.  I’m going to write about that experience as we go along, but here is a glimpse into what it was like with our first foster child.

Our “Extra” Child Christmas

It had been a crazy, chaotic, but wonderful six months in the Feeser house in Colorado Springs, CO. We had completed our foster parenting paperwork in June, and got a call the very next week about a boy. He was already at the DHS (Department of Human Services) office, and they wanted me to come get him. I loaded up my own boys, Price(4) and Wesley(1), and we drove over. When I first saw him I fell in love. He had straight, blonde hair that stuck out from his head in all directions, scared and confused blue eyes, and the cutest little nose that I can still see three years later when I close my eyes. He was holding a backpack bigger than his nearly three year old body, and holding a blanket that the DHS worker had given him. My kids were so excited that a new boy was coming to our house, and we soon had him loaded in a car seat and on our way. They played all afternoon together and I had dreams of how easy and great this would all be.

Of course, the “newness” wore off, and he began to act like the little boy he was. A sweet little boy who had been neglected for most of his three years. He wanted to be loved by anyone who would, and in turn, he loved everyone he saw. He was always shy and apprehensive at first, but after just a few minutes he would feel comfortable and come out hugging everyone.

We had more foster children come and go during those first six months with *Ethan, but when Christmas came, it was just him. We had already decided to just make him as much a part of the family as possible, so he participated in everything we did, and we loved him just like our own. We also knew that the time was drawing closer and closer that he would be taken from us and sent to live forever with his grandmother in another state. I tried to make everything about that Christmas as special as possible, and I tried to sear the memory of everything we did in my mind so I would never forget it. I always take pictures anyway, just of everyday things (even random butterflies and sunsets), so I have many pictures to look back on that time and remember.

We didn’t do anything that year that we wouldn’t normally do, but there was still something more special about it all. We tried not to buy him more things just because he was leaving us soon. We tried not to let him get away with bad behaviors just because he wasn’t going to be around next Christmas.

Christmas morning was a special time that I will never forget. He came into the living room and saw the tree with all the gifts around it. He just stopped and stared. Price, our oldest son, who knew what this was all about, ran straight to the tree and started asking which pile was his. But Ethan just stood there and looked. He had never gotten anything from Santa that he could remember, and wasn’t sure that anything was for him. I went over to the tree with Wesley (who had just turned two) and led Ethan to his pile of toys and clothes from Santa. His face lit up when he realized it was for him, and he never stopped smiling as he and the other boys played with everything they had gotten.

Just two weeks later, I packed up all those toys and clothes and everything else he’d gotten in the six months he was with us, and I loaded him up on an airplane with his grandmother to move away from us forever. He hasn’t been with us physically for a Christmas in three years, but those sweet blue eyes and spiky blond hair are in my memories every Christmas morning.

*his name has been changed for protection purposes.

  • It’s been 7 years now since he left us, and his picture hangs in the hall with the rest of them.  I know when his birthday is still and I think about him more than I thought I would.  I think of them all… can tell you all of their names and birthdays.  Tell you what I loved most about each of them and what drove me craziest! 🙂  They are mine… at least part of them is… and part of me will always be theirs…

 

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda