Archive for the ‘Ethan’ Category

My three Ragamuffins - LOVE THEM!

My three Ragamuffins – LOVE THEM!

I have never been traditional in the sense of being a “mother.” When I worked at a children’s home during college, I got my first sense that mother’s day wasn’t always a “happy, sweet day.” Following the rules of the children’s home, I had to take the children who were wards of the state to church. I received my first Mother’s Day card that day. I was only twenty-years-old and knew that card wasn’t meant for me but little James had no one to call “mother” and I was the substitute of the day. He is far from alone. I spent the three years after college being a “substitute” mother to so many precious children at a Children’s Home in California. I saw what my cottage of girls went through when it came to celebrating Mother’s Day in the schools. We had the option of making other plans for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by avoiding churches. The sting was too hard for some to bear.

Since then I have been in so many different situations where it has been so hard to hear the words “Mother’s Day.” Friends who have lost their own mothers to death or having dear friends who don’t have mothers due to their mother’s life choices or abandonment, I have learned not to take my mother for granted. But this day can be a bitter reminder for so many.

The hardest “Mother’s Day” for me was in 1997. I had a miscarriage the previous September. I was unmarried (*shocking*) and I suffered through alone with only few friends because the judgment was so severe from some I had told. It was so hard suffering in silence and I am so thankful now that I don’t have so mourn her loss in private. My first child was Emily Grace. My children are comforted they have a sister in heaven who is with Jesus and has welcomed loved ones and pets that have gone on before us.

In 2002, I became a foster mom with three little ragamuffins. The first mother’s day was awkward because I was “only” the foster mother. However, I was thrown up on and had sick kiddos and ended up in the ER in the afternoon for a baby with pneumonia. I learned that day what Mother’s Day is truly about; a mother taking care of her children. There were no pomps and circumstance for me that year. And I imagine it was a hard day for the birth mother as well.

By Mother’s Day in 2004, I think I had learned what Mother’s Day for a single parent looked like. If I wasn’t going to do it, it wasn’t going to happen. I bought myself an new oven that year that made cooking for my family of four so much easier.

After adopting my children in late 2004 and moving in 2005, a dear daughter-friend, Abbey, would sneak into my house and awake my children and taught them to cook simple breakfasts in bed for me while making crafts with them to present to me. She did this several years. By her example, the kids continue that tradition to this day.

Mother’s Day is truly a day for my children. It is the one day out of the year they will set aside their differences and work together to honor me. There is no price tag on what they give me because they give me their hearts. I am blessed to be their mother everyday; not just today. But I love seeing them on this day because I do see a glimpse into who they are becoming. And I see a bit of their Daddy (God) in them especially on this day.

I pray my kids will always have their “Father’s Eyes.


This is What Eleven Years Looks Like.

Saturday, March 9, 2002: The kids and I spent our first entire day together as a family of four.

Saturday, March 9, 2013: The kids and I spent our day being extras in an Independent Feature Film. It was fun. We can’t wait to do it again.

This is what eleven years looks like. It’s quite amazing.

THE Discipline Book: I am a doodler; not an artist.

THE Discipline Book (fifteen pages and counting). And note: I am a doodler; not an artist.

There are three sections in the “R-4 Games” that are evaluated. Those three section areas are: Family Rules, Chores, and School/Learning Rules.


1. NO COMPUTER TIME after 9:30 p.m. for people under the age of 19 years unless they have graduated from high school.
2. NO television after 11:30 p.m. for ANYONE unless it is with Mom’s special permission.
3. NO electronic toys, games, music, Kindles, DS, IPODS, or phones after 9:00 p.m.

The other areas included in the family rules are hygiene, physical aggression, name calling, the word “hate”, mean faces, rolling eyes, arguing, attitude, lying, loud negative exclamations towards each other, stealing, touching each other’s belongings, talking back to mom, asking mom for toys/stuff that has to be purchased, irritating tattling, and other areas that mom deems unnecessary. Mom decides “guilt” in unseen incidents based on severity and evidence. Truth-telling does have a reward.

Consequences for breaking the above rules.
Breaking ANY rules will cause the names to be submitted to the “reaping.” The “reaping” is a list of names that will be tallied EVERY Saturday evening by 9:00 p.m. and a steep consequence will be given to the person whose name is written down the most. If there is a tie, both individuals will receive a steep consequence.

Removal of Names from the Reaping:
Names can be removed from the “reaping” by completing a contracted “job” by mom without any other reward (i.e. monetary). Names can also be removed from the “reaping” by completing a charitable contribution (i.e. something for someone else that doesn’t benefit self or the household – examples: sweeping the apartment hallways, giving money to a cause, spending time with the elderly). Reaping removal chores and/or charitable contributions MUST BE COMPLETED BY 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

REWARD: Whomever has their name written down the least at the last night (9:30 p.m.) on the last day of the month gets a “date” with mom. If there is a tie, then both winners get a date with mom. The amount of the date is dependent upon the “date-chore-fund” that will be covered under chores.


Chores are distributed by mom based on age, maturity, trust, and ability. Chores are also correlated to the amount independence giving in activities.

Daily Chores: Daily/weekly chores for each child will not be published for reasons of privacy. But all daily chores WILL be completed by 10:00 p.m. daily unless otherwise designated by mom (i.e. dishes after meals will be completed promptly).

Weekly Chores: Weekly chores must be completed by Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Some activities and events may interfere with completing chores by this time so forethought is necessary.

Rewards/Consequences for Chores: Chore allowances will be given on every 16th of the month in dollars and cents. Chore allowances will be given in the amount of age:
Ethan, age 11: $11
Sydney, age 12: $12
Katyana, age 14: $14

Additional money can be earned by contracting a chore with mom. Those chores are separate from the chores to remove the name from the reaping. Payment for contracted chores will be agreed upon by mom and child.

Quarters will be put in a jar to represent allowance. Anytime a chore is not completed or there is resistance to completing a chore, a quarter will be removed and will be put into the “date-chore-fund” jar.


Each child has an individual curriculum they are required to learn. Note: This will not be published for privacy. Each completed assignment can be redeemed for a certificate or reward. Certificates and rewards can be applied to things like computer time, game time with mom, Starbuck “Treat”, Pedicure/Manicure, Nerf gun war with mom, etc. The individual rewards are listed with each child’s curriculum.

GRADES: Every three months/quarter (last day of March, June, September, and December), grades will be totaled in three areas. These areas are:
*Average of all school work in all subjects.
*Average of daily attitude about learning.
*Average of daily effort.

Grades will be listed as follows:
A = Excellent.
B = Good.
C = Average.
D = Needs a lot of improvement.
F = Flunked… DO AGAIN.

If an “F” is given on ANY day, an “A” in that given area cannot be earned that quarter.

Grading Rewards: Each of the three areas listed above will be graded. The rewards per area will be given in this amount:
An “A” per area = $10
A “B” per area = $5
A “C” per area = $1
D’s and F’s are NOT rewarded.
So, per quarter, a total reward of $30 is possible.


Birthdays: Siblings will do chores for the birthday child. Every child will have a chore-free day/year.

Sick Days:
Family Rules: These must always be followed regardless of how one is feeling.

Chores: To be exempted from a chore, the child must be running a fever of 101 degrees or higher. However, two sick days are awarded to each child per quarter. Sick days CAN be carried over to the proceeding quarters.

Vacations: Mom will work out individual chores and school assignments during vacations. Family rules must be followed during all vacations.

In the midst of a busy day including Katyana’s 14th birthday, Ethan and I found ourselves bored in the van and early to basketball practice with pouring rain all around us (Katyana, of course, had her nose in a book and Sydney was off dancing).

I started doodling on the windows of the van from our warm breath against the bitter cold outside. Ethan quickly joined in and I taught him the little tricks I knew from my childhood.

I turned and talked to Katyana and turned around and Ethan had drawn me this.


I love you, too, Ethan.



This summer has been a whirlwind and summer isn’t over yet. But I think the kids will look back at this crazy summer and realize that it was a transition summer from being a child to a pre-teen and teen. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually, this summer has been one of growth!


Ethan is such a fun kid! I do love this gift of God. God has such a sense of humor and he sent me my son who is one of the funniest people I know. We laugh… and often. He is also a kind and conscientious boy. I love watching him grow up. He is so smart but it doesn’t come out academically but it is manifested through his puns, his jokes, his knowledge, his play. He has such an amazing sense of the English language. Today, he corrected a commercial that used bad grammar.

Football Player

Ethan, my football player

Ethan is playing tackle football for the Hardin Valley Hawks. He is zoned for this school and they allow homeschoolers to join their team. He has been practicing four times a week for two hours each practice since the second week of July.  The coach says he is impressed with Ethan’s athletic ability and he sent me the following in an email: “I really believe that having Ethan’s personality on this team is going to bring this team together and will probably cause us to win a few extra games this year. I feel like I am really lucky this year because I have Jacob who is a true natural leader and I have Ethan who has the spirit that this team needs to succeed. No matter how much talent a team has, it is hard for them to succeed unless they have these intangibles that you simply can’t coach out of the team.  I have no doubt that before this season is over that Ethan will be our best Offensive lineman and that he will probably be one of the best offensive lineman in Knox County.” Ethan is LOVING football. He’s wearing the jersey of one of his favorite football players, Michael Oher (The Blind Side). Ethan’s other favorite player is  Troy Polamalu (whose number is 43 and will be Ethan’s number this year).

We will see if Ethan continues to enjoy this sport. He certainly seems as though he were physically built for it. And all of his dance has paid off. Ethan’s first TWO football games are August 11th in a tournament. A new era for sure!


Sydney has had one of the most Sydney-centered summers ever. She participated in two acting camps, two weeks of dance intensive, and two weeks of dance class three times a week. She has TWO new life experiences. The first is that she is now En Pointe. She is loving it and she has no pain whatsoever. Her other big news is she auditioned at the Children’s Theatre of Knoxville and received her first part based on her audition. She was cast as the reinvented role of Ben Gunn as BETSY GUNN in “Treasure Island.” She will perform in thirteen productions.  I am SO glad I am Sydney’s mom because watching her grow up has been such a wonderful privilege.  She is such a neat kid.

My acrobat/aerial dancer, Sydney

Sydney celebrated her birthday late with three friends. I took them to an aerial silks and trapeze art school and they took an hour lesson. The girls and Sydney had so  much fun. Sydney had done some aerial before her birthday and loves it. Here’s one of the best shots I was able to capture as I was trying to get pictures of all four kids.


Katyana was continuing with violin but we took a short break and will get back to violin on August 13th. She gets to go and attend a pottery class sometime soon as that is what she wanted to do this summer. Katyana is also becoming a brilliant knitter. She creates her own designs, follows through, and creates the cutest dolls, stuffed animals, barefoot sandals, scarves, baby blankets, you name it. It’s quite impressive.

An original by Katyana

The kids are just growing. We are moving into a phase where we all seem to like each other and we laugh more than we argue or yell. Although this summer wasn’t relaxing (I was packing, unpacking, or driving), it has been an amazing summer. I love my children and I am SO happy to be their mother. It is SUCH an honor. I am SO blessed.

This is what the Reedettes will be learning in 2012/2013.

Spelling/Vocabulary: AVKO Sequential Spelling and Worldly Wise.

Reading/Writing/Grammar/Handwriting: Excellence for Writing; Linguistic Development through Poetry; Explode the Code (Ethan), Copy Work (Faith-based), some random lapbooks I have made for grammar rules and the School House Rocks DVD. They will each have their assigned books they need to read.

Math: Singapore  along with each child’s journey through Khan Academy followed with real life applications (toy catalogs for Ethan) and “Basic Math” through the Great Courses 30 minute lectures.

History: Story of the World and Ages of Grace.

Science:  The Story of Science by Joy Hakim along with lots of field trips to science museums and fun home experiments with physics and chemistry.

Geography: We are studying ALL the countries in the world and are going to identify social problems in each country with a few other facts. We will make our own random lapbooks from this study. We are going to reinforce the Geography by playing “Let’s Jet!”

Social Studies: Understanding the U.S. Constitution.

I am actually extremely excited about this school year. I think I have a FUN plan and I am SO excited to begin!

My children are very open about their birth, foster, and adoption story. We have many ongoing conversations. I think the one the conversation most covered is heritage. Sydney longs to know her paternal heritage and Ethan knows that his paternal heritage is of Hispanic origin. Katyana is just pleased that she can claim she most looks like me. The other two strive to find similarities, which is a very healthy act of ongoing bonding.

Today I took a picture of Ethan in a parking lot. I was just being silly with the camera while the others were getting out of the van before we went on an afternoon stroll. The photo turned out impressive. And what both Ethan and I love about the photograph is that my reflection is captured in both of his eyes. He was SO excited to see “me” in him.

I know there is a greater relevance spiritually about Christ being within me. My prayer is that I reflect Him. But I am pondering if I have ever felt the JOY of seeing Him reflected in me. I won’t forget Ethan’s response. It was such sweet innocent  delight. I want to be child-like in the delight that I would see Christ reflected in me; to undoubtedly know that I am His and He is Mine forever.



July 2018
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