Monday, June 20, 2016
As I opened the blog this morning, I realised just how long it's been since I wrote anything. It was the day before my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The day before. Now it's been well over a year since he went to be with Jesus. I don't know that there's any possible way to fill in all the gaps with the feelings and events that have transpired during this last year+. So, for now, anyway, I'm going to leave it all where it is. And we'll see. . .
Saturday, March 14, 2015
There is part of me that still can't believe I'm actually homeschooling Sawyer this year. There's another part of me that can't believe I actually like it. We're about ready to start week 6, and I thought I'd share my thoughts so far and give a little update.
The end of 2014, as the school year was wrapping up here in CR, and even though his report card showed excellent grades, I suddenly had this sense that maybe I needed to homeschool Sawyer for 3rd grade. Those of you that have known me for awhile, and know that I was a public school teacher, know the biases I've had against homeschooling. BUT. . . over the last few years, my heart has softened. I can't exactly say how this happened. Maybe it's because I've met and talked with many homeschooled kids and families and have seen "good fruit" in the way of relevant, poised and deep-thinking kids that challenged my prejudices. Maybe because my belief in the public education system went out the window when we realised we needed to put our kids in private school here, and a door was cracked open that I didn't notice, opening up my mind to a variety of school options. Maybe it was because the first time I really considered homeschool was a few years ago as a way to help our monthly budget. I don't know.
Anyway, we wrestled with what to do. Would homeschool give Sawyer the one-on-one attention that his teachers couldn't give him? Would we jeopardise his sociability? Should we make him tough it out and have a more 'typical' school experience? Would he grow to hate school if we put him in this year b/c he wouldn't be able to copy things fast enough, read well enough, or write neatly enough? Would he be able to enter the Costa Rican school system in the future without a 'real' school report card? Would the potential benefits outweigh the risks? We prayed and went back and forth. As I investigated the legalities, looked at curriculums, analysed Sawyer's strengths (math, creativity, intelligence, energy, passion) and weaknesses (focus, impulse control, fine motor skills, etc), and prayed, I came to the conclusion that it was 'now or never' if we were going to try homeschool. In short, I decided to go for it, was able to order curriculum and my parents brought it down in a suitcase in January when they visited. (It was nearly 50 lbs. of books!)
So. . . I'm relieved to say it's been going well. Sawyer asked me the other day if it was possible to homeschool through college; I told him we weren't ready to make that decision yet.
He does enjoy homeschool, though we have had our moments of conflict. It's been really insightful for me and is helping me to understand the things that must have been a challenge for both him and his teachers in the past!! In the moments where he would give up or tune out and take an incomplete in school, I am able to insist he finish his work. When he needs a break to use up some energy or to refocus, I can let him run around outside, play with legos, or bounce a basket ball. (Can I just say again how THANKFUL I am for this house and YARD we are living in!!?!?) We are able to move around the house for different 'subjects' to keep things new and interesting. I can give him immediate follow-up and feedback all day long. We do science experiments, reading, and I can let him skip a few math problems if he already knows how to do them. I can add or take away curriculum according to his needs. One thing we did over the last 2 weeks was an animal research report that got him writing about something he was interested in (chipmunks :) ), and helped teach the writing process. He's also learning world history (let's face it--I'm learning, too), and geography. We are even going through the Spanish and Social Studies books that his school uses, just to stay in the loop here. Added bonus: he gets to do PE with Thompson at our sports site and Art at the Wood Shop with Joshua.
So far the biggest challenges for me have been related to schedule and also my role in SI. Sawyer focuses and cooperates much better in the morning, so if we can plow through everything from 7-12 we finish without too many bumps in the road. But when we run errands, or do anything out of the 'ordinary' it's tough to regain focus later on. The other hard thing is scaling back my involvement in all things SI-CR-related. I'm still trying to find a good rhythm for myself in this area. I told Jeff early on that I was willing to sacrifice that stuff if we decided that homeschool was the best choice for this year. I meant it, but I also want to be careful to stay connected with our staff and the things going on in sites. Homeschool can be very isolating, which is probably one of the biggest drawbacks. In the States people have formed well-organised co-ops and schools sometimes allow kids to still do sports or other activities on their campuses. Here, there is very little of that since homeschool isn't recognised.
I still worry that I will do things wrong, or screw him up somehow, but mostly I have deep peace about homeschooling Sawyer this year. A friend once, very wisely, advised us to take school one year at a time. So here we are in this year. One kid in private school, one in a private preschool, and one in homeschool.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Many of you have heard that we moved into the amazing house that I posted about a few months ago. It's TRUE. It all happened quickly at the end, but here we are. God is GOOD. Praise God with us! We were in the middle of hosting teams and other guests, so I hadn't had time to do more than post a few random pictures on Facebook. Entonces, I'm making myself sit down to write a post that will hopefully fill in some of the details.
Essentially what happened is that the missionaries that own this house really want/ed to sell it. It would have been so much easier for them to return to Canada without a house here in Costa Rica to think about. They all-but-sold it twice, but backed out of each deal for lack of peace and a conviction that they weren't supposed to sell to either of those couples. So, after that roller-coaster ride, knowing that we were really interested in it, but without a way to buy it, they asked if we'd rent it while they took some more time to pray and regroup. So, after a couple of conversations working out the details, we packed our stuff and moved it over. (At the end it all came together in maybe a week or something!?!)
So here we are. We keep marvelling at the way God has worked things out. "We get to live here? Really?"
This property is truly amazing. We are still very close to our office, ministry sites, host families, etc. We are on the main road (our only reminder that we are, in fact, still in the city), but surrounded by fruit trees, grass and flowers. There is an amazing 'mountain' that rises behind the house to the bonfire pit and a breathtaking view of San Jose. The house is spacious, has an amazing kitchen, porch, and tons of windows. I'm serious about the windows. Somehow washing dishes isn't so bad when you have a great view.
We have already had the privilege of hosting Jeff's parents and our nephew Thomas, as well as Nate and Maggie Slabach, as overnight guests. And we've been able to host cultural activities/bonfires with 2 different teams, plus a couple of other activities. Amid the many unpacked boxes and chaos of moving (our guests have all been very gracious!) we have been in awe to see God fulfil this sueño (dream) and allow us to steward such a place as this. May we steward well.
Olivia, Sawyer, and Lynnea are all thrilled, too. I was watching Sawyer playing outside yesterday, running and shouting and throwing and other boy-things, and it struck me again how much God cares not only about our ministry, but also about our kids. I trust that the years that we have lived without a yard and without amazing windows have been for great purposes, too. But my mommy heart cried out for nature and space for my kids--Sawyer especially--and God has answered in such a big way that my heart spins. I have no way of knowing how long we will live in this house, but for this time I am thankful beyond words.
God, I was crazy to hope for something like this, to ask you for something so great; you are spoiling us and I don't deserve it, but thank you.
Please pray for the Hilstad family as they transition back to life in Canada, and that God's will would continue to be done with this house.
Pictures to follow soon!!
PS Another great thing that God has worked out of this is that the landlords of the old house were willing to hold that house for our new teammates, the Fasts, who will be arriving this week. They will be cozy as a family of 6, but the location is perfect for them as they settle in and get to know Desamparados, especially without a car right away. They'll be walking distance from the language school, groceries, the SI-CR office, preschool and bus lines. The other advantage is that we can have it set up for them before they get here. Friends, God is a God of details.