Fitting Big Business into your Little Homeschool Planner

We’re baaaaaccccckkkkk, at least for a brief moment!

We had a tremendous time, and experienced God’s “blow-your-mind” blessings as described in Ephesians 3:20.     Then, during this past weekend, our older two participated in an academic competition.   Given the trip to Memphis, we literally went almost around the clock preparing in the last minute-effort to give the kids a chance at winning.    In just five short days, we’ll leave again for the Titus 2:1 Conference in Sterling, VA.   I am pinching myself that all of this and more is transpiring in these few weeks, but I’m also glad to settle down into a blog post for moment.   Writing gives me some sense of normalcy.

It’s been a long while since I’ve been to a conference–on either side of a booth.   It occurs to me how overwhelming the choices are for someone who is just entering this season of parenting and educating at home.   One of my customers, who had homeschooled for 17 years, shared that when her family began homeschooling, it was the choice of a small few who embraced homeschooling as an extension of God’s will for parenting.   Now, as she observed, it’s big business. 

In making this big business somehow fit neatly into our home, I’ve been think about next school year and what we’ll do, where I’ll focus, etc.   Here are my thoughts as of right now:

1) Courses for the oldest will be driven by her choices of college, and what is required to close the gap between where she needs to be versus where she is.   Regardless of her plans, her course load will be some combination of high school and college courses as we continue to take advantage of Texas’ dual enrollment opportunities, chipping away at her college requirements while we wrap up high school.

Amazing that her schedule is the simplest of all three kids–WOW!

2)  Our son is continuing through his third stint in the classical cycle, studying medieval history this year.    There are books that I didn’t think our oldest would enjoy, but I’m looking forward to sharing them with him.    He also wants to study Swahili, so I’ve had fun pulling together sites for language study; what remains is to find a few living books to compliment our work.    I’m also looking for living books to accompany our biology studies.    I’ve struggled with how to approach this year, when he should study biology.   He has no long-term interest in science, and I’ve slowly, but surely,  steered away from our household staple, Apologia, at the older levels.    Yet, I’d bought their (allegedly) elementary level Anatomy and Physiology text for the youngest–a failed experiment.   So, in the effort to not waste precious dollars, we will use this same text as a spine and then add much to it in terms of labs, outside studies, and again, living books.

I’m already thinking ahead to his final year with us before moving on to higher studies.  He is our one child that skipped a grade.   If we stayed with our current plan, he would leave home potentially as a very young 17-year-old.   We could keep him here and slow down his high school progress, but I am sure that would be discouraging.    So, early indications are that he might take a gap year, in which he’ll complete any remaining high school courses and perhaps get a jump on his higher education at a local college.

3)  The youngest and her studies poses a true dilemma.    Our current methods of study with her have her longing for the yellow school bus, and leave me frustrated with her for being frustrated.   I reconciled within myself (or did I?) years ago that I can’t make every day fun for the kids.   Yet, I can remember when our older two were her age, and our homeschooling day looked markedly different.   We were far more active in a group; we cooked; we took more field trips.   We took a legitimate recess with a swing set in back and a pool.  We worked very hard to make our home kid-friendly for kids who had to spend all day there.   Now the swing set rusted, and the dog poked holes in the pool.   Even our soccer and basketballs are all deflated.   So, she will definitely be a focal area on next year.

I’ll share more as our plans begin to solidify.   How about you?    What high-level changes do you envision in your school day?    What will remain the same?

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up, August 22, 2010

   

  

 It’s weekly wrap-up time!   If you want to join in, we’d love to see what is going on with you, so please visit Mary.    The post that has been in me for close to three weeks has finally decided to come out.    Ready for some serious rambling? 

 

 From where I sat this past week, 

As an individual, I… 

am ever mindful of how life gives you the opportunity to revisit your thinking and really solidify where you are in some areas.   I shared months ago after my brief in-home survey that our homeschool is as elementary school-unfriendly as it is high school-friendly.     I spent some time over the summer planning field trips, etc., to make sure that our youngest gets to have fun and enjoy all that school can be rather than look upon it as a drudgery.    Then I reconsidered an opportunity that we took great advantage of in our earlier homeschooling years, but have since all but abandoned: homeschooling groups. 

I think it was the opening line of the intro of a group that I was invited to join that struck me.  The words were that ‘it is imperative that we socialize…’    Hearkening to the feel of hairs on the back of my neck standing up, I meditated on that one for a while.   Imperative…is it really?    In reading it, I immediately thought of the general group make-up: parents who are relatively new to homeschooling with young children.     But there is a not-so-subtle arrogance in thinking that way, as if I have mastered the science and art of homeschooling and know how to do it the “right way.”    The Lord knows how many times I’ve bumped my head against a wall on all things homeschooling, so I took a more humble approach to thinking about this. 

I think that groups can and do have a place within the homeschooling community, and the ladies I met when we began homeschooling are probably a significant reason as to why we continued to homeschool when life might have dictated otherwise.    I am also a huge fan of an extended support system.    In truth, it’s one of the reasons I remain at HSB rather than switch over to a more popular blogging platform—here, there is community, which is exactly what groups attempt to do.     Coming from a family (on both sides) of public school educators, we needed to see success stories such that we could defend our position long before we had success stories of our own.   Having said that, what I’ve come to appreciate much more in the years we’ve journeyed this road is what homeschooling has done for our family.    I’ve said before that anyone who sticks with homeschooling long enough finds that it is the home that is the operative part of that compound word; schooling is simply one arm of many as what is happening in the home manifests itself.     

I love the fact that our kids are each other’s best friends.  Yes, they fight, and yes, they are sometimes self-absorbed, but at the end of the day, our teen can hang out with the youngest; our pre-teen can enjoy playing with his sisters—one who is three years older, one who is five years younger.    As they enjoyed the premiere of  “Camp Rock 2: the Final Jam” the other night, I couldn’t help but smile as the kids laughed and talked together, then got on each other’s nerves, then laughed some more over store-bought pizza and a movie.    When I hear other families talk about the issues that exist among siblings, I know that God is doing something special here, and I believe that homeschooling has a lot to do with that. 

More than liking (on most days) to be with each other, our kids also still like to be around us.    At an age when most teens and pre-teens find their parents embarrassing, or at minimum, uncool, our kids actually enjoy having us as an active part of their lives.   As just one example, the dance center hosts two Parent Watch Weeks during the year.   This is the one time that parents can come into the class room and watch their children rather than take in the class from the limited view of a wall window.    In the older kids’ classes, we are often the only parents who attend.    The students consider it humiliating to have their moms and dads come to watch them dance.   Our children get upset if for any reason one of us cannot be there! 

Several years ago, a more seasoned homeschooling mom shared with me that if there was one thing she’d focus more on during her homeschooling years, it would be to keep her children’s hearts at home.   I don’t think that she meant it such that your kids would literally never want to leave home; I took it to mean that my best work might be to teach our children to cherish family, and to hold dear what is within these four walls.    I know that is counter-culture to what is popular, but I have come to see true wisdom in it over the years. 

As a related digression, not too long ago I was wearing an old t-shirt from our church’s women’s retreat.    Our youngest asked me what is a retreat, and after hearing my explanation, she concluded that retreats were bad.   “Family comes first, and most important is the Lord,” she said.   Sure, her logic could use some work, but I think she hit upon the essence of what we’re trying to create here, with the Lord’s help.   

Could a group do any of that for us?   Not at all.   But it took really thinking through this aspect of what we do and why for me to understand why that intro statement, and the accompanying statements describing the group, for me to decide how we might fit, if at all, into this group.   So the long and short of it is that we joined the group for the sole purpose of seeing the calendar, and if a field trip or two coincides with something we’re doing, we’ll join in.    Otherwise, we will continue to move in the 5-person unit that has worked so well for us in the past years. 

As a wife and homemaker, I… 

am enjoying this season of being able to focus on home and setting of an environment.   Charlotte Mason speaks of education as being an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.    This has been my year to focus in on the atmosphere, it seems.    We’ve always made excellent use of the produce market in town, but starting a new garden has really heightened my awareness of ministry through just basic care of those around you.    It doesn’t help that our not-so-little son is growing peach fuzz over his top lip, or that the oldest has a chronic cough that seems to be aggravated by milk.   I keep remembering all the new data surrounding homogenized milk, early development, and mucous production—oh, my!    I still have a lot to learn and to do in this area, but life is affording me the opportunity to step back and look at how I manage the household in its totality, and then make the necessary adjustments to make it even more of a home. 

This isn’t solely about cooking; it is also about teaching our oldest the value of modesty as her sewing proficiencies take off and she wants to purchase her own patterns.   It is about talking to our children about our values, and about ministering to them regarding what the Lord expects of them. 

One of the challenges I have is that there are at least three distinctly different diets in our home, and without careful planning, meal preparation can soak up a huge part of my day.     So I’m trying to look at having a common food that we all can enjoy, and then build around it.   In most cases, this is a starchy food because no one complains.    Labor Day’s staple was homemade oven fries.   This picture is from allrecipes.com, since my cell phone shot didn’t do justice to my hard work. 

   

  

   

Our vegetarian son added vegetables to the fries and enjoyed them thoroughly; for the oldest, chicken nuggets complimented the fries.    The youngest, my hubby and I had burgers with the fries, and vegetables (different veggies than our son).    More importantly, Mom didn’t have to stay in the kitchen and make three distinct meals.    I felt so good about that until I tried it again tonight.   When everyone returned from the first night of dance, I started with bread—for sandwiches, that is.   The two older kids enjoyed pita pockets stuffed with pepperoni and cheese (vegetarian pepperoni for our son—HA HA!)    The youngest, the hubby and I enjoyed burgers left over from yesterday, and the most work I had to do was to chop fruit.    I could get used to this.   I’ve already thought through tomorrow’s staple—either corn or pasta.

 

As a mom and homeschooling parent, I…

am loving the year we’re having thus far.   As I’ve mentioned before, the oldest has her routine in semi-order (smile), so I am focusing on our son and the youngest.   I’ve made a point of having one field trip per month with her in mind.   We’re revisiting all of those standard homeschooling trips that every Texan takes, but our last stop through was when the youngest was in a carrier.   It’s hilarious to me that everyone in the house is excited about these “kiddy” trips, regardless of age; I guess the idea of getting out is appealing to all three kids, no matter where we go.    In the meantime, the youngest is getting more in touch with her imagination, and thankfully, her curriculum comes in with a fun project or two on occasion.    Here’s the result of a phonics lesson on how to follow directions.

 

  

 

Our son and I are having the discussions that I dreamed of when I put together their curriculum.   He began reading Treasure Island today, and launched into a conversation regarding the unique rhyme scheme of the poem.    He then discovered that the movie Treasure Planet is a takeoff of this classic, and he was curious regarding the comparison of the two.   Later, as our daughter read the Aeneid, he stuck close by to help us with the Roman equivalent of the various Greek gods (Juno is Hera, Neptune is Poseidon, etc.).   Wow.   I’m already thinking about how to modify the high school curriculum to adjust for books that he’s already heard because of his interests.

As I mentioned, the oldest and I are reading the Aeneid after enjoying “Julius Caesar” together.   The Aeneid’s language is much more simplistic than Homer’s works, and I am always thrilled when we are able to come at a period of history in more than one way.   So this evening, the oldest read from Antony and Cleopatra, and the youngest did her best to educate her sister on Egyptian mummification processes, which she notebooked and completed a science project on a month or so ago.   Earlier during the day, our son covered a brief history on Augustine, a North African bishop, and the oldest used this moment to talk about the city of Carthage, a city that was critical to the telling of both Augustine and Aeneus’ tale.     It’s one of those neat places in learning where everything you cover just seems to meld into everything else, and it’s the handiwork of the master curriculum planner—our God almighty.

As a business owner, I…

have unintentionally extended the summer sale by not doing maintenance on the site—YIKES!   Seriously, though, I was blessed to be a blessing, and it feels good to offer this sale price to a few customers who may have just found me.

I started on the high school curriculum and am at a bit of a quandary as to how to marry the ideas in my head into something that looks doable and meaningful on paper.  It will come.   In the meantime, I continue to work on a couple or three other writing projects that are not business-related, but I like to believe that when I am faithful to the work of the Lord and the inspiration of my husband, the Lord will honor me for it.

My Word count is now at 5 pages, with 2000+ words.  Geesh!!!!! This is probably 2-3 posts worth of rambling, but it’s out, and I can move forward.    May the Lord bless your week as well.

What I did this summer

Given that we’re starting school on next week, I suppose this is an appropriate title.   During the week that I wrote my last post, there was also Vacation Bible School (VBS).   

 

This picture doesn’t fully capture the work that was put into transforming our church gymnasium into a high seas adventure—ocean-like wallpaper and all.   The backdrop to the kids’ final performance is a pirate’s ship.    This was a tremendous effort on all parts; this year, we had 60+ volunteers and approximately 200 kids!

The day after VBS ended was our littlest one’s 7th birthday.   It was a quiet, intimate celebration with our immediate family as I had work-related meetings that day, and I think the kids were happy to relax for a change.  We’ve had so many events this summer until I’ve intentionally tried to pare down the daily running around.   With that in mind, going somewhere, even to church, every day, can be draining for the kids, and especially for me.   

 

We’ve also cooked up a storm, or at least, I’ve taken more photos of my cooking.    Here’s my seafood kabobs (shrimp, scallops, peppers, red onion, and mushrooms),

 

 

my four-bean enchiladas,

 

 

and my vegetarian chili with tofu and beans.

 

 

 

I am trying to consider our growing son’s dietary needs as a forethought and not an afterthought, so I’m deliberately incorporating more vegetarian dishes into our regular diet.    He shot up 6 inches and counting in the last 10 months.   Yesterday, I cooked a 13-bean soup, and I’ll experiment for the first time with grilled tofu later this week.   Uh, oh!

What I’ve done this week is finalize the plans for the school year beginning next week, and come to the revelation that there will never be enough hours to fit in every book and make use of all the neat tools that are now available to us.    In fact, Internet Café Devotions contained a wonderful devotion entitled “MommIdentity” on yesterday, and I could readily identify with who I am.   I also recognized the tendency to always look at who others are and what they do well rather than realizing that each of us has places of brilliance amidst an otherwise perhaps hum-drum home education model.    This was the crux of my conversation with Karen on last night—the darker side of homeschooling, where comparisons between children can leave us feeling defeated, inadequate, and insecure.    I appreciated the chance to pray with her as she makes decisions about home education in the midst of a fight with breast cancer; it is amazing how the Lord can speak into you when you think you are speaking into others.

In all this activity, I have yet to do something that is totally self-indulgent, and for right or wrong, I want that time.   My plan is to blow the dust off my scrapbooking tools, and to finally put together the kids’ dance photos of more than 1 year ago.   I might have a window this weekend while our youngest spends the night with her grandparents and 5-yr old cousin.    The house should be quieter 🙂 and I’ll have a day to get pages completed.   That is, unless we have to drive to pick up a new hound dog.    I’ll pick up on that story the next time.   God bless.

The busiest summer–(until next year)

Unless the Lord says differently, this has been/ will be our summer:

Weeks 1 and 2: preparation for this year’s dance recital

Week 3:  oldest in class for PSAT review

Week 4 (this week): oldest away at camp

Week 5:  oldest in class for PSAT review, part II

 Week 6: son at National Dance competition

Week 7: VBS

Week 8:         (can you believe it?—nothing to do!!)

Week 9:  begin school(?)

There are at least two aspects of this schedule that have become my latest musings.   The first is pondering how, every summer, I make a declaration that we are just going to rest, and every summer, we are busier than the summer before.   I wonder if I stated, “This summer, we’re going to be busier than ever!” would we actually have nothing to do?    I might try that next spring.   Right now, however, what this schedule means is that we will potentially have only one “do nothing” week, which also happens to contain my husband’s birthday, before school would start.   I intentionally wanted to start earlier this year because my goal is to finish school early enough to get outside in late April/ early May before it gets too hot.   The older two weren’t totally in agreement with this, but then again, they’re not the ones that do the lion’s share of weeding, mulching, and watering during the blazing heat.   Now I’m not sure if my plan will work.    Rest is important to academics, too, and we’ve not had much of it as far as I can tell.    

The other realization I’ve had, as we left the oldest waaaaaayyy out west yesterday, is that this is the first time we’ve been apart from any of the children for an extended period of time.    On the bittersweet ride back home yesterday, past endless windmills and mesquite trees, I thought about a family favorite of ours, Disney’s “College Road Trip” (Martin Lawrence, Raven Symone.)   

At the end of the movie, as Raven’s character waves goodbye from behind the opened door of her dormitory, her parents fight back tears, and memories of childhood past flash through their minds as they return a final wave—for a while.   Were we experiencing a glimpse of what we’ll go through in a couple more years?    I think so.     And though she politely ushered us out of the door so that she could begin her week as a semi-grown up, she missed us, too.    During our 10-hour drive back, she texted twice, then called twice, saying the latter time, “Would you like me to talk you until you get home?”   (We were 5 hours away from our driveway at the time).     I couldn’t help but laugh at how irritated she gets when little brother and sister make an unannounced visit into her room, and yet, what does she do with her first opportunity to be alone?   She calls home, and talks with little sister.   Priceless.

When I’m not playing taxi cab/ head cheerleader for all these efforts, I have had a little time to think about next school year, and to even make a decision or two (smile).    The oldest had asked about learning home management skills—how to cook, complete the laundry cycle, etc.     I began to try and formalize this into a Home Economics course on last year, but it never materialized.    It probably won’t happen this year, either, at least not in a formal sense.   We will pull in some Dave Ramsey and/or Larry Burkett materials on personal finances, but I think that, for the most part, we’ll learn to manage a home by managing our home.   The biggest dilemma I’m having in this area is how to teach cooking to someone who doesn’t eat.      So much of good cooking is about intuition and instinct regarding taste, flavor, and pleasurable textures on the tongue.  Based on my own childhood experiences, I’ve had to fight the demons that cause food to be so much more than food—it was comfort, it was companionship, and it was love.  For our oldest, food is what food should be—sustenance to allow her to get on with the priorities of her day.    For that and a couple of other reasons, her diet is fairly restrictive; how do I turn her into a cook?    What I’ve thought about doing so far is to work with the things she likes and make sure she can prepare those;  artistry will come with time.

Otherwise, I’ve been gathering books and book ideas, and pulling projects into the kids’ studies for next school year.   It’s shaping into another fun learning time (at least, I think so.)    I’m also in thought/ prayer about joining a homeschool group again—not for the sake of the group, but for the sake of our youngest daughter, who needs to get out, and to do something different than what she currently does.    Of course, this could happen in a myriad of ways, and that’s the part that I’m prayerful about;  a homeschool group is not a homeschool group is not a homeschool group, and I am definitely not decided that we need some of the more negative aspects of a group in the effort to have more play days and field trips.   Somewhere in the midst of all this busy-ness I will have to carve out some thinking/ praying/ meditating time.   So much needs to be more carefully thought through than I have time to do right now, but I plow along.

I suppose frustration would be an easy space to crawl into right now, but I make the conscious effort to be thankful.    So, in the midst of all of this, I’m thankful that…

1)      We had resources to do all the items listed above

2)      Where resources looked limited, God provided abundantly (I’m still speaking that)

3)      Dad has been able to travel with us, and has worked from home on several days this summer

4)      We spent a safe and fun Father’s Day on the road, and returned safely on yesterday (also speaking that trip #2 will be the same or better)

5)      Today I will sleep as much as I want to (Hallelujah!)

6)      I saw the one corner of Texas that I’d not seen before

7)      I was asked to take on some additional work that won’t require too much time

8)      Our okra is growing like crazy

9)      With dance season over (for the most part), we can attend mid-week service

10)   Next dance season, class times were adjusted such that we can continue to attend mid-week services

11)   Whatever happens over this summer, busy or not, we serve a great God.

That’s a very small, non-exhaustive list.   Hope you feel the same way when you jot yours down.

Dance Recital 2010

Plan A was to compile a Photobucket slide show that would show off the many photos that I wanted to share.   I then found out that the HSB upgrade doesn’t support Photobucket slide shows, and there’s a new program/ plug-in that I’d need to master in order to post my slide show.    Later for that–literally.    So, here goes, and I’ll try to not post too many photos (though I make no promises).

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much better could life get for this guy?   He had the lead part in this year’s production of Pinnochio, and he turned twelve on the day of the recital.   All day, he heard that familiar chorus, and other well wishes, as he danced mightily in number after number.    I don’t even think he remembered the cake awaiting until much later when we arrived home.

 

 

 

 

So, what does a young man do after twirling ladies around, being serenaded and then lauded by hundreds of young fans (smile)?   He comes home to celebrate with Spiderman.   After all, he is only 12 years old.

 

Mimosa Trees and Memories

There are mornings when I awake thinking, “I’m going to write a blog post today.”    It just feels like one of those kinds of mornings—the house is still quiet, the air inside is cool, and the sun is gorgeous coming through the window.    The only problem is that I don’t have anything to say.      I didn’t take notes or pictures during last week’s happenings, and so by now, Wednesday, I’ve forgotten it all and committed to simply begin anew on this coming week.    I think I’m also as discombobulated as anyone else regarding HSB’s upgrade, and I find myself having to get reacquainted with my blog.   If I’m able to post this entry straight from Word, this upgrade will have 100% of the features that led me to begin a second blog, one that I’ll consequently discontinue.    At any rate, I’ll work on getting Chronicles of a Blessed Heritage back like I want it after this week, which will, for all intents and purposes, be our last full school week.

With a blank slate but an active mind, I decided to do the one thing that had been on my mind to do for several days now—get a shot of my favorite spot around the house in spring.

 

Then I decided to pen my heart.    Where is my heart today?   On memories—how we make them, and how, good or bad, we must live with them.

This tree is special to me, in part because of its beauty, but largely because of what it represents.    As a child, I never noticed mimosa trees, though they grow wild in our part of the country.    Yet, when we began to pick plants for our own yard, my husband was drawn to it—not necessarily because of the beauty of it, but because of his great-grandmother.     I never met her, but I’ve heard stories.    One story is how my husband, a picky eater as a child (a trait that he passed on to our older two children), hated many meats, including chicken.   His parents were concerned about such limitations in his diet, and so his great-grandmother, who had more time, would grind meats with a hand grinder so that they could sneak them into his foods.    That’s the type of love and care that you take for granted at the time, but God gives you the life experience to make those small things mean so much in later years.   I’m also told that she lived in tropical south Texas before she became ill and needed more care.   Her yard was graced with a large mimosa tree—a tree that lasts in my husband’s memory as a recollection of her, and the tree that now graces our yard in memory of his times with her.   So this tree is special to me because it is special to him.

Lately, we’ve come just short of some true “come to Jesus”-type talks with our son about some attitudinal issues.    Super-sensitive boy that he is, he gets easily irritated when anything is said to him that he finds annoying or otherwise unpleasant.    And then he pouts and sulks, which he unfortunately inherited from his mother (although, thank God, I’ve been delivered from this behavior—for the most part).     I allow some of it; cooling off, so to speak, can be a good thing, and I do believe in the value of owning your emotions and having time to sort through them.   However, I also know that too much focus on self can lead to a destructive path as quickly as a constructive path.

Enter, stage right: my husband, who is such a big kid.     Our household is blessed to have someone who enjoys playing tag with the kids and running off, who likes to joke and kid around—it’s just not me.   In fact, I am sure that’s in part what drew us to each other: he has all the spontaneity and frolic that I lack, and I’m the calming force in his life.    Anyway, our son has gotten increasingly annoyed with hubby’s playful spirit, and we’ve crossed the line into disrespect.    When I say disrespect, I mean not speaking when spoken to, not acknowledging that you’ve heard what is said, and mumbling/ rolling of eyes when addressed.     So, last night before family prayer, I told my son, in no uncertain terms, how I felt about his treatment of his dad.    You have a gift, I said.    I went on in a modified version of that speech we’ve all heard about the number of children starving in other countries while you waste food—the speech that usually comes after you’ve turned your nose up at your parent’s hard work in buying and preparing meals.    In this case, though, the message was as follows:  do you realize how many kids wish they had a man in the home to spend that kind of quality time with them?    And I continued with the position we put ourselves into when we take things, and people, for granted, because I truly think that is the root of the problem (or the way that the devil has manifested in this particular instance).     Growing up comfortably in our little lazy suburb, with two parents and a loving family environment (not to mention a school environment!), it can be easy for a child to forget that, in these times, that’s more than most can claim.

So as I reflected on that mimosa tree this morning and the images now tied to it, and as I thought through these trying times with our son, I pondered what his memories would be of growing up.    I want to believe that he prayed about his attitude, and that he’ll be healed, delivered, and set free from some things.    I want to believe that we won’t have any more problems with this.   Yet, I also know that there are some realities of being a parent that you don’t understand until you become one.   I pray that we won’t have to wait that long, but I also pray for strength in the midst of it all.   And I pray for my son.    May God give him—sooner, not later, would be my preference—the life experience to appreciate the big and the small things.   I pray that he’ll look on the model cars he made with Dad, remember the times he chased, or was chased, up and down the stairs, tickled almost to the point of tears, and so many other moments, and remember that whoever his Dad was and whatever his Dad did, he did with one purpose in mind—to show our son the irreplaceable love of his father.    May God bless you today.