In These Three Years

As we celebrate Seth’s 3rd birthday, I have a very strong mix of emotions. There is a combination of happy, sad, emotional, nostalgic, and longing tears, but most importantly, of grateful tears.

I am so blessed that I have him. He truly is a gift from God. He has brought so much love and happiness not only to our immediate family personally, but to our broader church family, to the special needs community, and also to the whole world! You see, he is a delight. Everyone delights in him. They can’t help but smile when they see him.

2013 Spring 590I particularly remember walking the streets of downtown Seattle, pushing him in his stroller, and he was waving to everyone we passed. I watched their faces. Nine times out of ten, they couldn’t help but smile. I started counting. During our short little walk while Daddy was working, he made over 20 STRANGERS smile! I quit counting, and just enjoyed the fact that this little boy, this little sweetie that some people would deem “not compatible with life”, a life that some people would destroy, brings SO MUCH JOY to those around him. Just to the general public! Does he not make YOU smile?

Through this little boy, I have formed a bond with the special needs community as a whole. I have come to understand families with children who have a diagnosis that people don’t understand, that people don’t get, that people avoid. It isn’t easy to comprehend what they are going through, until you are there with them, in the trenches. I have learned SO much about not only Trisomy 21, but about so many other diagnoses. A family member said to me a year or so ago that “now all of your friends are people with a kid with Down syndrome. “ It hurt for them to say that. I hadn’t ABANDONED my friends and family. I had GROWN it. Why couldn’t this person see that? Why is it so “obnoxious” that I have these new friends?

These “new friends” understand what is going through my mind on a much deeper level. They are there themselves. It is a whole new world, that those outside of can’t fully comprehend. Don’t get me wrong, my family and friends have always been there for me, supporting me, and helping me, but they haven’t been in my shoes, yet. They haven’t faced this new life with all of its unknowns and doubts and fears. It would be like joining the military, or the ministry, and not being friends with other soldiers, or other ministers and people in other churches.

IMG_5812You connect with these people because you are in the same situation. Some of them have years of experience, lessons learned, heartaches felt, tears shed to share with me. I have gleaned so much from the special needs community, that I am glad that I am able to give back just a little when I share Seth’s triumphs and accomplishments. My family and older friends rejoice with me, but my special needs community sheds tears with me, because they GET IT! They KNOW how hard it is to REACH those milestones!

I have “new friends” who have children much older than Seth, who have helped pave the way for so many things that are SO important in Seth’s life. I am thankful for those science fanatics who have learned how to create vitamins specifically for kids with Trisomy 21, who have put together lists of supplements, who have learned how to redirect the brain to build new bridges so that he can accomplish new milestones, who have spent their lives trying to protect the unborn from being destroyed because of fear of the unknown. THESE are my “new friends”! Be glad that I have them in my life, that we are walking this path together! For the sake of my son.

One of the biggest blessings in my life is the fact that my family has always been involved in the church, since I was an infant. My dad went to Bible school when I was a tiny tot, and went on to be a full-time pastor when I was eleven years old. I was raised going to church and meeting new Christians from other churches. That’s how I met my husband! As I got older, I was blessed to meet people from churches around the United States, and in more recent years, I have been blessed to meet people from churches all over the world! I thank my dad for creating this love for other Christians in other countries!

I tell you this, because now, Seth is loved ALL OVER THE WORLD! He has moms camera 063families not just in every state in the United States (especially in Alaska and Oregon), but in Ukraine, Poland, Japan, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Philippines, India, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Egypt, South Africa, Pakistan, Malaysia, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Chile, Indonesia, Portugal, Turkey, Mexico, Ecuador, Singapore, South Korea, Czech Republic, Argentina, France, Lebanon, Norway, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Iran, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Panama, Kuwait, Bermuda, Sweden, and England who love him, are inspired by him, are challenged by him.

Finally, Seth has changed our family. He has opened our eyes to the needs of others. He has opened our eyes to the plight of a whole generation of unborn children who are killed because of the unknown, because their parents are scared of what they don’t understand. I now have a passion to help them understand, and to not fear it, but to embrace this new adventure that God has laid before them with their own precious gift.

Family members have asked me if it seems like there are more children born with Down syndrome now than there were a few generations ago. I think it is because social networking makes the world seem smaller and more connected. You hear of more stories, and meet more people. 2013 Spring 114Once your eyes are opened to something such as Trisomy 21, you see it everywhere. Also, my husband and I have talked about the sad fact that the reason that is seems like there are more instances of special needs in the Christian and homeschooling communities is because we are families not aborting our babies because of it.

Seth has opened our family’s eyes to the need for supporting those who are diagnosed both before and after birth as well. At the tender age of 11, my daughter spent a lot of her time creating a video to share withthose who were new to a diagnosis. She created this video in the hopes of it helping to change the way the world sees a Trisomy 21 diagnosis. You can watch her video here.

One of my sons remarked to me a few days ago that his understanding of Trisomy 21 has changed with the life of his little brother. He thought all kids with T21 were the same. He didn’t realize how different they all are, how smart they are, how fun they can be. This young manis going into the military. I look forward to seeing how God will use Seth in his life to go forth and change the world, and be able to connect with others in a new and different way.

Another one of my sons is going into the medical field. He already had a heart for helping others. He adores his baby brother and would give his life for him. God only knows the ways he will be able to be more compassionate, more endearing, more capable, and more knowledgeable when it comes to his work in the medical field with this newfound understanding of children and adults with special needs.

Band of brothersI also have four other sons who are more aware of their surroundings. They ask questions about others and are friendly and caring to those who may appear to be a little different. It seems as if every time we go to the park, other parents and grandparents compliment me on how nice, loving and accepting my children are toward others. They also have a bold understanding of special needs, and share with strangers that their little brother has special needs, but “he is learning REALLY FAST!” They get excited with each new word that Seth is able to say, and every new feat he is able to accomplish. They have learned to slow down and enjoy the little things. They will be better friends, neighbors and eventually fathers because of it.

Yes, Seth is making a difference, one smile, one milestone, one trial, one triumph at a time. And this is just the beginning.

Interesting take on High School

Delight Directed High School

May 3rd, 2012

Curiousity is easy to find in younger children. All too often though  in older students it seems to have disappeared. This has been the case  for my 14 year old daughter. Since about 6th grade she has been asking  me to just give her some assignments so that she could get them  finished. That was the extent of her schooling during that time. Just  finish. Sure, she took in some information during that time, but she  also became less and less satisfied with the idea of learning. Sadly,  this is happening to kids in schools everywhere. Kids are physically  there, but meaningful learning and retention is limited by a lack of  interest in topics.

I want better for my kids. I want them to love to learn. I don’t want  school to be a bad word in their minds. This is why I believe in  letting them lead in choosing the topic of study.

I have had a major problem with this concept this year though. My  oldest was starting highschool (We started a few classes during her 8th  grade year).  I have struggled desperately over doing high school like  the public schools. Not that we have done anything like the public  schools yet, but I felt like as we approached the years when transcripts  were really required, I would have to suck it up and ‘play their game’  so to speak if college was in her future.

There are some areas that I think I will still have to do just that.  But I have seen the light in some other areas as to how we can still be  delight directed.

This week I am focusing on the Geography class. We started out with a  textbook format, but after only 2 weeks she was bored to death with it.  Face it. Textbooks are less than interesting when they only present  small chunks of information. Now I am all for exposure of a wide variety  of material, but if we can make the learning more meaningful, then why  not?

So the plan is this. She is going to work through each continent over  the summer. We went to the library yesterday and I helped her choose  and check out books on 5 European countries: France, Russia, Italy,  Spain, and Germany.  (This is just the start).  The books came from the  older children’s section. They have lots of pictures and still lots of  information.They are not overwhelming… or dull. They cover all of the  important details as far as landmarks, government, flags, people, foods,  clothes, language, culture, holidays, and more. This summer she will  focus on several of these books from our great library, but she will add  to it continually for the next few years. She will add to each country  accordingly as she encounters it in the setting of a novel she reads or a  movie she sees. She can also add things like art and music that she  finds. By the end of high school, I believe she will have a proper  education in this way.

Last week we began working on her English I course.  She is an avid  reader, so that part was easy. I had her write down the books she could  remember reading this year.  Hunger Games, Harry Potter series, The  Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, Seeking the Heavens, and Pride and Prejudice. I  still have to do some work to put together this entire course, but can  you see how the subjects are beginning to intertwine? Some of these  books (along with the short stories, poetry, dramas, and nonfiction  readings) have real life settings, and from them she has, or will have, a  better understanding of life in that place.

How does this relate to delight directed learning? I am not choosing  her books or her topics. Guiding her? Definitely. Letting her follow her  interest? Yep. And it is working. For a kid that just wanted her  assignments so that she could hurry up and finish. A few months back,  she picked up and read a book called Prada and Prejudice. It is a play  on Pride and Prejudice, which I mentioned to her, and she proceeded to  get that one and read it too. It was not enough. She had to watch the  movie and then read all about the author, Jane Austin. Being the fashion  guru that she is, she researched the clothing of Jane Austin’s time  period. All of this was on her own. Not a school assignment at all.

Do other kids do this? You bet they do. If we give them the time,  space, and fuel to do it. I am looking forward to finding all of the  classes that I can to teach, no, to to gently guide her through, because  it works. It is how passions are developed and how preschoolers and  adults learn. Why change that in the middle?


Well, I am doing better with my studying, as well as going to bed earlier.  It figures that I start going to bed earlier and the kids get sick with the flu and I’m up several times a night, so I don’t really feel a lot more rested!  Everyone has finally gotten through it now though.

I have been teaching a Pizza Party unit study for the last 10 weeks at our homeschool co-op to 5 rowdy boys (yes, one of them is mine!) and a quiet girl.  It’s been a lot of fun.  We have learned all about Italian cities and famous people from Italy, as well as done several science experiments.  Last Friday was our big party, and everyone brought toppings to make yummy pizza!  I am made the sauce and pizza crusts and my God-sent friend, Natalie, made the dessert pizza crust.  The kids were all pretty excited when they saw the Brazilian pizza with chocolate syrup and strawberries on it, and decided we just HAD to have that for our party!  We had quite a few people join our “party” (they came flocking in when they smelled it!) and had a lot of compliments on the pizza.  Way to go, kids!

We have 14 chicks that I bought from my brother and niece!  Four of them were from my own eggs, and the rest were from his flock.  I can’t believe how quickly some of them are feathering out!  I also borrowed an incubator from a neighbor and I’m trying to learn how to use it.  I’m afraid that my first batch of eggs aren’t veining, so I’m trying to figure out why.  Another  friend loaned me a little incubator that holds three eggs.  I put three of my eggs in there too, and those have just hatched!

Other than that and homeschooling, we have been keeping busy with Boy Scouts as well as American Heritage Girls, a group I helped start that is a Christian version of Girl Scouts.  I am the Troop Coordinator of that, so it keeps me really busy.  Right now, the girls are working on their “Our Feathered Friends” badge, so that has been a lot of fun!  Last week we paid the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage to come out and show the girls a Great Horned Owl!  She hooted quite a bit which was really neat!  We are planning a field trip up to Gunsight Mountain toward the end of April, which is where all of the raptors migrate through.

Before that though, we have the APHEA convention, our homeschool convention.  My dad founded the organization 25 years ago!  It’s hard to believe it has been that long ago that I was licking stamps and envelopes, and managing the database….We are now on the Board and Craig is the Vice-President.  Mostly the Secretary, Anne, does all of the work though.  She is a great friend and neighbor.  She’s the one who loaned me the big incubator!  Anyway, that is keeping us busy too.

Ben, our oldest, is going to Poland on a short-term missions trip at the end of June – the middle of July, so we are preparing for that.  He was the first one in our family to get his passport!  My dad is going with the six kids from our congregation, which includes my “little” brother Otto too, who just turned 20.  It should be quite a trip!  Aaron is hoping to go next year, since he wasn’t old enough to go this year.  Aaron will be doing NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) with the Boy Scouts in June, and then he is hoping to take the Lifeguarding class once he turns 15 in July.  Ben took it last summer and is now a certified Lifeguard.  He has his application in at the local swimming pool, and is hoping to get a job there.

Well, that is all for now.  I hear Joey starting to stir, so I’d best get finished with my morning items!


The last couple of weeks, we have been going on the wild side!  We have loved DNG’s for the past year since we discovered them, but Terrific Tigers has been a blast, especially for my 4 & 5yo’s!!  The best part about these unit studies is all of the videos that are included, from watching tigers eat to a tiger cub playing with a dog toy, my 5yo’s personal favorite.  My children love to gather around the screen and watch the world come to them.  {Scroll to the end to enter to win your own copy!} 

Joey (1yo) really gets into the videos! He learned to say, “Tiger!”


My kids really enjoy doing the activities, including word finds and cut-outs for the older children and coloring pages for the little ones.  

Timmy (4yo) being a tiger


I personally love how the DNG’s integrate geography into whatever you are studying.  With tigers all over Asia, the kids are really learning to find the countries on the included map.  They also had a great time coloring stripes on the cover of their lapbooks!  Another of my favorite features is the great pictures with little quotes separating each day, like the one in the center of the picture below.  The kids like to print out some and decorate the cover of their folders.  

I also love the fact that I don’t have to do a lot of preparation for teaching.  With merely printing out the notebooking pages and setting up my computer so all can see the great videos and websites, we can be ready to go.  As a mother of 7 children, the DNG’s enable me to actually get to all of the fun crafts and activites that make learning exciting!  

Getting a visual on how long a tiger is!


Due to sickness, we haven’t been able to finish the unit study yet, but are looking forward to finishing it this coming week!  Here is a sneak peak at a few of the 94 pages that are included in this unit study! You can get a sample of Terrific Tigers from The Old Schoolhouse webstore too!  


We are fortunate enough to have tigers at our little Alaskan zoo, and I am hoping that next week when we go into town, it will be a nice enough day to include a visit to our own Siberian, or Amur, tigers!  

Our "own" Alaskan tiger!


Terrific Tigers delves into a new tiger each day.  How neat to learn about the differences between the same kind of animal!  I never knew there was so much variety in tigers.  The kids just love to “educate” their dad on the differences.  My oldest son, a 15yo, said, “Can I do DNG’s too?!”  He sees how much fun we have, and I told him that I wished I had had DNG’s back when he was little.  I have recommended Download N’ Go’s to many friends, including my sister-in-law, and will certainly be recommending Terrific Tigers!  

To read more reviews of Terrific Tigers, check out the blog tour!  You will be sure to get some great idea to incorporate into your tiger study!  

Oh, I almost forgot!  The best part of doing this review is that I get to give a copy of Terrific Tigers away!  They gave me a copy so I could write an honest review for them, and now I get to bless one of you with a copy of your own! (TOS/DNG affiliates including the DNG Review Team and TOS Crew are not eligible…sorry guys!)   

1. {Required to win} Leave a comment for me telling me your favorite part of my review and include your email address!  This will help me write better reviews, and give you a chance at a great addition to your homeschooling year!  

2. “Like” Download N Go  (click here) on Facebook.  If you already like it, that counts too, just leave a comment telling me that.  

3. Go to Download N Go and leave a comment telling me what Unit Study interests you the most.  

4. Follow my blog and leave a comment telling me you are doing so.  

Please leave a separate comment for each, so all entries count! A random winner will be chosen by my 5yo on Saturday, October 30, so leave your comment no later than midnight on Friday, October 29th!  Enjoy, and good luck!