Spoons, Forks, and Family

Spoons, Forks, and Adoption

He gets his plate, forgets his fork and his drink out of sheer eagerness of this nightly ritual, and heads to our big dining room table. It’s the same table that held my family’s holiday gatherings and special occasions for over 20 years. No matter what’s going on, football games, movie rentals, old reruns of Batman…he gets his plate and heads to the table, looking at us expectantly, hoping that we will choose the same. Sometimes I wonder if the 20 plus years of family, love, and fellowship that have gathered at that table somehow draws him there. It’s odd to think about how different dinner is for him. It’s not just food for him. It’s much more.

It’s weird how family can become so normal for some of us. We get in our patterns, set our routine, and just coast along, almost forgetting the gift that God gave in family. Seeing our family through his eyes has been fascinating for me. We are interesting to him. He wants to know us…not just know us, but know us. He wants to look us in the eye over a plate of hot food and study us. He wants to interject into the conversation his thoughts about subjects so we can study him.  He wants to soak up the stories he’s heard from us so he can retell them later including himself in the memory. He wants to feel the fellowship that he’s missed out on.

I’m convicted by this wide-eyed child, constantly begging me to show him what it’s like to be a member of a real family, what it’s like to be a son, a brother, a grandson. The things that I find completely normal, he savors. The things I find to be boring, he finds incredibly interesting. The things that I find to be ordinary, he sees as unique. It’s humbling to be challenged by a child. And it’s absolutely lovely to see family through the eyes of one who hasn’t had it. The strange thing is that the one who hasn’t had family is the one who so often reminds me what it should look like.

I Hate Halloween…But My Son Doesn’t


I Hate Halloween...but my Son Doesn't

In the wee hours of the morning, as I was going from child to child supplying fresh buckets, Ibuprofen, Gatorade, and cough medicine (I’ll let you guess what we’ve got going at the Wood house right now), I probably should have been dreading which kid would go down next (or worse, which parent!).  But instead, I spent my precious brainpower dreading something else…Halloween.

I hate Halloween, and in all honesty, I reserve the word “hate” only for the one or two things that I truly loathe.  So trust me, the strong language is accurate and needed to convey my feelings toward the holiday.  I’ve always hated Halloween.  As I’ve mentioned before, I was a fearful, anxious child, so for me, Halloween was like a sick joke.  People walking around in all-too-real zombie costumes was not my idea of a fun holiday…it was a terrible nightmare that everyone but me seemed to enjoy.

Early on, my parents realized that Halloween was not my thing (and really, I think they were probably quite thrilled about that discovery), so I began staying home and handing out candy, which I thoroughly enjoyed for the most part.  Our neighborhood was a thriving Trick-Or-Treat community, so I stayed busy, and somehow, scary looking people coming up to my house seemed to be less frightening than going out into the night for me.  And as long as I stayed away from television the month of October, I was okay.  That worked out pretty well for years.

I Hate Halloween...but My Son Doesn't

And now, thankfully, I’ve spent enough time with Jesus on this issue that I’m no longer fearful on Halloween (although I still avoid television during the month of October).  I’m sure that maturity and rational thinking have something to do with it too.  But, I still hate it.  So our policy for the past ten years on Halloween has been that we just don’t celebrate it.  Aside from our church fall festival and a Pumpkin Carving party, we just kind of let it pass.  Some of that is by default (we live in the country..no trick-or-treaters).  But much of that is intentional.

But this year is different.  First of all, I have a public schooler this year who has already spent a night awake because of the Halloween-ish things she’s heard from the kids at school.  This year, we can’t just glaze over the day as if it didn’t exist.  Secondly, James apparently loves Halloween.  Though he’s terrified of certain elements of it (with good reason), he was very disappointed to find out that we don’t celebrate it.

And that was why I was thinking about Halloween last night between checking temperatures and administering medicine.  We are grafting in this child to our family, but part of that is layering in his past with ours.  It’s important to him, so it’s important to us.  And that’s where I am right now…how do we incorporate this part of his history into our lives?  How do we take a holiday that we’ve always avoided and “redeem” it for our family?

So today, as my crew lays around and tries to keep their minds off  being so sickly, I am busy thinking.  It’s funny how things that used to be so simple suddenly are not.  That’s life I suppose.  I’m thinking that an evening at home cuddled up with board games, Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, and a pizza (maybe even some brownies and candy corn) will be appropriate.  Because when it comes down to it, for James, it’s probably not about loving zombies and witches (we know that isn’t the case for him).  For him, I’m sure it’s really tradition and the comfort that we find in the predictability of tradition.  And really, that sounds like a great excuse to do all those fun things.  It’s amazing how much James has brought to our family without even knowing it.  I feel like in so many ways, he has breathed life into us, he has pushed us to be intentional, he has quietly encouraged us to make everything count. So, this year, it looks like the Wood family will begin a new Halloween tradition, and I’m actually pretty excited about it.

I Hate Halloween...But My Son Doesn't

I’m curious…what does your family do for Halloween?

Here to Help Learning Review

“Mom, what do you do at  your blogger meeting?”  asked my oldest son.

“Well, we get together and talk about blogging things and we do writing prompts,” I replied.

“What?!  You get together and write???  Why would anybody choose to get together and write?  It sounds horrible!” he insisted.

This might give you a glimpse of the stark difference between my view of writing and his view of it.  The other day, I wrote about my journey of homeschooling a struggling writer, and I wanted to elaborate just a bit on the new writing program we have found and are really enjoying.

Do you have a struggling writer? Looking for help?

Do you have a struggling writer? Looking for help?

What’s so funny is that while I love to write, I struggle to teach writing.  When I write, there is no rhyme or reason.  I just pour out my thoughts as naturally as if I were journaling, but children need more concrete instruction to get them going…especially children who dislike writing.  I’ve learned that there is a lot of patience needed in teaching writing, and I believe that you can over-write.  Some writing programs are just far too exhausting. That’s why we are loving Here to Help Learning.  Here are a few other reasons:

1.  Bite-sized assignments.  I love that Here to Help Learning breaks down the tasks into truly bite-sized pieces.  It’s so much less overwhelming than looking at a really big chunk of writing work.  It’s not intimidating for reluctant writers, because every assignment is doable.

2.  It’s fun!  Each lesson comes with a video.  The videos are engaging, visually stimulating, and fun!  Also, the Warm Up writing assignment usually includes a really funny picture that gets my boys tickled.

This is Mrs. Mora from Here to Help Learning. She's your guide through the exciting world of writing...and no, exciting wasn't a typo! It's true!

This is Mrs. Mora from Here to Help Learning. She’s your guide through the exciting world of writing…and no, exciting wasn’t a typo! It’s true!

3.  Excellent instruction.  The instruction is very clear and easy.  Mrs. Mora makes everything seem so simple!  The program is so well organized that the kids don’t even realize how the small assignments add up until they’ve written a whole paragraph!  After their first completed writing assignment, my boys had a solid idea of the writing process, and they quickly remembered the motions to each step.

4.  Fosters Independence.  One of the big goals at the Wood house this year was to begin working toward independence.  I wanted my boys to start working more on their own instead of with me holding their hand all the time.  This program has really helped us do just that.  My boys work much more independently this year with their writing.  After all, writing is easy with Mrs. Mora’s help!

5.  Well organized.  As the facilitator, I’ve really enjoyed how easy this program is for me.  With very little preparation, I can have a great writing lesson ready in just a couple of minutes.  For this busy mom of four, that is absolutely necessary and priceless!

6.  It’s positive.  Mrs. Mora does an excellent job at making sure that the learning environment remains positive even during things like peer review, which can get sticky.  This program is Christian based so it’s no surprise that there’s an emphasis on things like positivity, how to effectively critique someone else’s work, and appropriate writing topics.

7.  It’s rewarding.  Not only is it rewarding for my kids to have finished a piece of writing that they can be proud of, but Here to Help Learning also includes an incentive program that really keeps the kids on their toes.

The Here to Help Writing Set comes with a teacher's manual, a student workbook, and 6 DVDs. It's a great deal!

The Here to Help Writing Set comes with a teacher’s manual, a student workbook, and 6 DVDs. It’s a great deal!

I would most definitely suggest Here to Help Learning to my fellow homeschool moms.  It’s been a big boost for us in writing, and I’m thrilled that we found it!  To check it out for yourself, click on the link below.

Here to Help Learning

Pencils Up!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this program in exchange for my honest review.  All the thoughts and opinions shared are my own.  The links provided are affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting this site. 

Twelve Seventy-Five

Adopting from Foster Care is Completely FREE

August 3rd had come and gone…James’s adoption was final.  The last two things that I needed to do were to apply for a new birth certificate and a new social security card.  As I sat at the window of the Arkansas Vital Records Department, I filled out all the information for his new birth certificate.  From now on, his birth certificate would read that he was born to Tim and Deana Wood.  It would have his new name printed on it as if it had always been that way, James Timothy Wood.  It would even have our old address where we lived the year that he was born.  It’s pretty amazing, pretty surreal.

Adoption Day

There, in the midst of the drama that apparently is ongoing in the Vital Records Department, a woman walked up to the window smiling, holding a blue piece of paper in her hand.  And as I wrote the check to pay for that piece of paper, I realized that it was the first check I’d written for James’s adoption.  Carefully, I filled in the “Amount” section.  Twelve and 75/100———  I handed her the check, she handed me that precious piece of blue paper, and that was the end.

As I left the Vital Records Department that day, I thought about that twelve dollars and seventy-five cents.  It was hard to believe that for that amount, we had a new son.  For that amount, we had given our family to a child.  For twelve dollars and seventy-five cents, we had changed the course of our life and his forever.  I still think about that moment often and remember the day that I wrote the check for $12.75 and gained a son for life.

Adoption Day

The Wood Children

**In the State of Arkansas, adoption from the foster care system is completely FREE except the cost of the birth certificate.***