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When You’re Jealous of My Alone Time…..Think of This

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“What are you going to do what all that time?”

“Um, I don’t really know.”

“You don’t know?!?!? I know exactly what I’d do without my kids for five days. I’m so jealous. You’re so lucky!”

Luck.  That’s not exactly how I look at my life.  Have I seen God’s hand of provision pulling me through? Absolutely.  But lucky? Not so much.

And yet, I get this all the time.  Every Wednesday that my daughter is with her dad – “Oh, I kill for one day a week without my kids!” Yeah, I get it.  It is nice to have a day to do the grocery shopping alone and make my doctor’s appointments.  But that also means no Wednesday library activities or playdates with our friends at the park while everyone else is getting together (and for some reason, it seems like they are always on Wednesdays!)

We get it every other weekend when the triplets are with their mom – “Wow, I’d love to have a date night scheduled with my husband every other week.”  Yeah, but how often do we actually get to go out? Not very.  And when you factor in how many birthday parties, family functions and other special activities they miss, is it really worth it? Not to mention that we only get to all go to church together once in a great while because daughter P is with her dad every Sunday.

So you see, my “free” time comes with a lot of sacrifices.  To be honest, sacrifices I don’t really want to make.  This week my whole family is gone for 5 days.  Sure, it was really nice to go to IKEA and shop.  Then I ended up going to the movies by myself.  But you know what I saw? Cinderella.  Because all my girls had already seen it with their other families.  And while it’s kind of a luxury to go to a movie alone, I would have given anything to have my three daughters there with me.

On day three you know what I did?

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I cleaned my fridge.  High excitement here, folks!

I’m not trying to be too hard on you moms.  I get it.  Being a mom is hard.  We all need time to ourselves. Heck, sometimes just to go to the bathroom! I am all for Mom’s Night Out. and getting a chance to unwind.  But understand, those of us who have to be without our kids, we miss our kids, and would give anything to have them here with us all the time.  We will gladly give up every free moment to have what you have.

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Making a Tomb Out of Homemade Playdough

IMG_0934I am always looking for was to help the children celebrate the true meaning of holidays – and right now that is Easter.  It’s so hard not to get wrapped up in the Easter Bunny and dyeing eggs and Peeps – and yes, we do those things and enjoy them – but I always want to take every opportunity to point my children back to the Cross.

Which brings me to this amazing new story Bible we’ve been using, called “The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.”  I ordered this off of Amazon a few months ago after hearing some great reviews, and I have not been disappointed.  Daughter P literally begs to listen to the CDs in the car (we also have an accompanying DVD that she loves to watch).  What is unique and awesome about this Bible is the each story points to Jesus (even the Old Testament ones) – and that is such a great reminder for us that indeed, the WHOLE Bible is about Jesus.  It also teaches children that the Bible is a love letter from God to His children.  It’s beautiful. I tear up a lot while reading it.

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So, we started off today by reading about the crucifixion in this Bible.  Then, we set to work making our own tomb out of homemade playdough.  Here are the ingredients:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1.5 cups of salt  (we didn’t have enough salt and had to make a grocery run at this point)
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon of oil

Mix and knead the playdough, adding extra water (about 1/2 cup), until it’s the right consistency.  Use and aluminum can (I used a Campbell’s soup can – I emptied the soup and set it aside for lunch) to create the base of the tombstone and mold the dough around the can to create a hill.  Poke a hole in the top for your cross.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.  Once your tomb has cooled, paint as you desire, and stick the cross in the top.

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On Friday, we will make a “Jesus” out of pipe cleaners, wrap him in toilet paper, stick him inside and roll the stone over our tomb.  We will wait until Easter Sunday to see if he is still there!

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5 Reasons Why I Use Memoria Press

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I am a second-generation homeschooler.  I started homeschooling as a freshman in high school and eventually graduated with a GED at the age of 17.  During that time, I mostly used ABEKA, because in those days, unless you were unschooling, that’s about all there was (other than BJU and some other homemade types of curriculum).  By the way, as a side note, all of my siblings ended up graduating college, and I have a Master’s Degree, so yes, you can be successful in “real” life after being homeschooled 😉

After deciding to homeschool precious daughter P, I just assumed we would use ABEKA as well, because I didn’t know much about curriculum.  Well, it didn’t take much longer than a few days of their Pre-K4 curriculum to know this was NOT the way to go for her.  She did not the rigidity of the worksheets.  Even coloring was a problem for her.  I will never forget her little four-year-old self telling me, “Well, I’ll color it yellow, but it’s not going to look good.”  If nothing else, she learned how to follow directions that year.

I went to my first homeschool convention last year with no plan in mind.  I had looked into Charlotte Mason, and while I loved the idea of it, I knew for me, I needed a little more structure.  I had also looked into Classical Conversations, which I loved, but I also knew that with my Type-A personality, I would end up putting WAY too much pressure on myself and daughter P and we would probably both end up hating school.

And then I found the Memoria Press display.  I knew in a matter of 5 minutes it was the perfect curriculum for both P and I, and we have loved every minute of our Kindergarten year.  Seriously, I’m sure my homeschooling friends are sick to death of hearing me talk about how much I love this curriculum.  And here’s why:

1. Simplicity of Planning.

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The picture above shows the entire week of lesson plans.  Everything is laid out for you, yet it allows for flexibility with time and ideas.  For Kindergarten, we generally spend 1-2 hours a day on school.  The boxes allow me to check off what we have done, so if we get behind in math or super ahead in reading, it’s still easy to keep track of where we’ve been.  Plus, the guidelines for History and Science are just that, guidelines, so there’s lots of time and space to add additional books, videos and crafts as your days (and desires) allow.

2. The Use of Real Literature.

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The true foundation of Memoria Press is books.  Although there are simple readers used for phonics, the basis is books.  Every week, we read a new book – it teaches vocabulary, comprehension, and context clues.  We also learn about authors and illustrators.  The curriculum then builds upon the fictional book to teach a poem later in the week and incorporates a theme of non-fiction books into history and science on Thursdays and Fridays.  But there are no textbooks, just real books.

3. The Bible is used to teach language instead of worksheets.

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Every week begins with a Bible story.  From there the children begin to memorize a verse.  This verse is also used to teach the rules of English and writing (punctuation, Capitalization, etc).  At the end of the week, they recite the verse and draw a picture (my daughter’s favorite part).

4. The Incorporation of Art and Music.

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This is Daughter P’s absolute favorite part of school.  Each week they learn about a new artist and painting and a new composer and piece of music.  I have created a playlist on my iphone of all the songs and play them while P does her math, as she works better that way.  She asks to listen to the music all throughout the day through.  Sometimes she even plays “symphony” in her room.  How awesome is that?!? Memoria Press has taught my six-year-old to love classical music!

5. The Affordability.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the cost.  For us, Memoria Press was very affordable.  Without a lot of workbooks and Teacher’s Books to buy, the cost naturally comes down.  We did not purchase all of the read aloud books as our library has a great reciprocal system where we can borrow from other libraries and always get what we need.  I spent just over $100 for Kindergarten.  I know Indiana has a PLAC card for about $80 a year where you can borrow from any library in the state, so that may be an option for you if your local library is not very good.

Our convention is at the end of this week, and I cannot wait to buy my Memoria Press for First Grade – we will be starting Latin! Eeek!

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I Don’t Care About Your Leggings or Your Vaccines…

loveI can’t be the only person tired of getting on my Facebook feed and inwardly (or sometimes audibly) groaning at seeing another link to an article about leggings or vaccines (hello Kristen Bell – I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to hold your baby anyway, but thanks for the heads up!) or 50 Shades of Grey. 

The crazy thing is, it’s not even because I don’t agree with what’s being said.  I have definite stances on each of these issues.  I am tired of them because of the hateful responses the topics bring out.  And from brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am appalled at the language and verbiage and utter distain I have seen being shown toward those we are supposedly going to be spending eternity with.  What must our Heavenly Father be thinking? Over leggings?!?

It’s almost as if we want to be able to form a mental checklist of our friends – well so and so agrees with me on vaccines.  Ohh, that friend from church doesn’t.  She thinks I shouldn’t wear leggings?!? Why are we doing this to ourselves? What is the real point?

I am not saying that we shouldn’t discuss matters of sin – although I question whether or not the internet is really the right forum for that either.  In Matthew 6-7, Jesus talks a lot about the hypocrites going about their worship in public to be seen – how they would pray standing in the street corners.  To some extent, I feel that’s how some of these blogs and topics are being spread.  I don’t know the hearts of the people, and it’s not for me to pass judgment, but what is the point of writing or passing on a topic condemning someone – is it to “inform” them of their sin to change them? Does that ever  work? Jesus shared with people in a relational way to bring them the Good News, shouldn’t we do the same – not blast them anonymously or long-distance over the Internet?

There was a recent study done at the Beihang University in China that shows rage goes viral faster than happiness, pride, or disgust.  RAGE.  ANGER. HATE.  That’s what we’re promoting online.  And at record speeds.  And I believe if we’re honest, it’s no different in the “Christian” community.  What comments did you read about the leggings issues? Vaccines? 50 Shades of Grey? I know the ones I read.  They were filled with rage and anger and hate. 

John 13:35 says, “By this all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Are we showing that when a Christian mom in Oregon shares her thoughts on why she will no longer wear leggings in public and we verbally crucify her publicly on website after website? Are we loving each other when we mock women for their “mundane” sex lives when they state they will not see 50 Shades of Grey? WHERE IS OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER???

The study did show there was one emotion that went viral faster than rage – AWE.  That’s right, awe. 

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Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

Let’s stop spreading the rage and start spreading awe.  Like some random acts of kindness.  Or showing how God has answered prayers.  Or miracles – He still does those you know!

 

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To My Daughter’s New Stepmom

ABURKE2014 (11)I always knew this day would come.  I mean, I didn’t expect my ex-husband to stay single forever.  Nor do I want him to stay single forever.  I really don’t have a problem with him getting married.  So in that way, I am happy that he met you.  But to say that I’m happy for you would not exactly be telling the truth.  You see, you aren’t exactly the woman I pictured being the stepmom to my baby girl.  But, if I’m being honest, no woman probably would have measured up to that. I would want that woman to be just like me.  Someone to love her just like me, and I know realistically that’s not going to happen.  

I haven’t actually met you yet, so I don’t know what you think of me, but I want you to know I don’t hate you.  I do hate the fact that by marrying you he is leaving our daughter and moving across the country.  Because, you see, our daughter adores her father, and it’s going to crush her when he leaves.  It’s hard enough on her now that she only sees him twice a week – what is she going to do only seeing him a few times a year?  I don’t know if you have a father, but if you do, maybe you can imagine just a little bit how much my daughter loves her dad and how much she’s going to miss him.

I know that you don’t have any children of your own.  I have already been down this path of stepmom-hood, and I can tell you that it’s hard – really hard.  I know it’s not going to be any easier just because the child is mine.  But when the going gets tough, please just try to remember a few things:

  • When she cries because she misses me, it’s not because she doesn’t like you or even because you’re doing anything wrong.  It’s because she’s six and she doesn’t adjust to change very well.
  • Sometimes she gets scared and emotional at night and needs someone to lay down with her a little extra longer before bed, but then she’s usually fine.
  • She’s not there to come between you and your husband, but she needs some time one-on-one with daddy too.
  • She loves to bake.  Any time you spend with her in the kitchen will really help her bond with you.
  • Too much TV, ipad, sugar, or dye makes her CRAZY – save yourself!
  • She likes to have a nightlight and a drink of water by her bed.
  • If she decides one day to call you “mom” that’s ok with me – I hope it will be with you too.

I know you won’t love her just like me, and that’s ok. Unconditional love doesn’t just come overnight. She can be frustrating and sassy and too talkative – but she can be SO loving and funny and caring and she’ll be your best little friend, if you’ll just give her the chance.

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Avoid the Valentine’s Day Trap

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Valentine’s Day really snuck up on me this year.  I just finished hurriedly rushing Daughter P. through writing her name on the back of Princess Sofia cards for her homeschool party tomorrow, which is the equivalent of a major written exam for a six-year-old.
I’m sure it’s no news to you that Valentine’s Day has become this huge high-pressure holiday – especially for men.  I went to the jewelry store the other day to get my ring checked for insurance and the sales lady kept pressuring me to fill out a “wish list” for my husband to fulfill for me for Valentine’s Day.  She just couldn’t believe I didn’t want any more jewelry.
Sure, I appreciate nice gifts – what woman doesn’t – but I don’t get putting pressure on our husbands to fulfill this perfect romantic image society has put on them on this day every single year. And don’t even get me started on this 50 Shades of Gray business.
Last year we had an amazingly romantic Valentine’s Day in Chicago seeing Phantom of the Opera and eating at Twin Anchors, the restaurant from the movie “Return to Me.” It was perfect.
Other years we’ve celebrated with all of our kids and had a “fancy” dinner all together in our kitchen with tapered candles.
This year I’m hanging out with this guy
bigbirdThat’s right – Valentine’s Day is all about Andy this year, and heaven help me, I’m going to Comic Con.  Andy is a big Jim Henson fan and we are going to meet Carol Spinney who is the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.  But it will be perfect, because the man I love will love it.  Isn’t that what the day is supposed to be about – loving each other? Since when did it just become about the women?
I guess it’s really hit home for me this year because Daughter P’s dad is choosing not to spend the evening with her so he and his girlfriend can go out – even though they have the whole weekend together.  That’s hard, because I am going to have a hurt little girl on my hands Saturday night.  So, after Big Bird, Andy and I have reservations at our local Chick-fil-A where they are having a fancy plated dinner and carriage rides, so her evening will be special no matter what.
Don’t fall into the Valentine’s Day trap ladies – don’t ruin the day over a gift (or lack of one). YOU set the tone for your home.  Even if you’re
surrounded by kids, make the day special.
Check out The Dating Divas website for some great ideas or look for The Second Chance Wife on Pinterest to see what I’ve found!
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It’s Giveaway Time! Win a Set of Personalized Scripture Cards!

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Head on over to The Second Wife Chance Wife on Facebook to win your own set of personalized Scripture Cards.

Contest ends on February 6, 2015.

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Serving Others – A Call to Action

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Tonight I attended the memorial service for my dear friend’s mother.  She lost a hard-fought battle with cancer, and praise the Lord, she is now in the arms of her Jesus!

But as I came home, I kept mulling over the testimonies of her life that her family and friends gave, and the one thing that stuck out to me was the stories told about her attitude of service.  It was repeated over and over again by each person that stood up and spoke.  And it was true.  She was the kind of person who never met a stranger – her home was a haven to all and she went out of her way to make everyone feel like family.

Two stories in particular were really challenging to me.  Her daughter told a story about a time they were eating in a restaurant and the waitress mentioned how much she liked her mother’s purse.  So before the meal was over, her mother got a brown sack, emptied her contents into it, and gave the server her handbag.  She told the lady, “It seems like you like it much more than I do.”  Now I don’t know about you, but I like my purses, and it has never crossed my mind to just give one away to someone who has complimented me on one!

The second story was even more telling about this precious lady’s heart.  The pastor said just two weeks before she passed (and she was already in Hospice care), she called him inquiring about how she could help a family in need in their church.  Even on her (literal) death-bed, she was wanting to know how she could be a blessing to others.  This lady didn’t just serve others, she served sacrificially.  What a Biblical example of service!

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Acts 20:35 states, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

We mothers are usually good at sacrificing for our children.  If we have to choose between us getting what we need or our children, it’s a no-brainer.  Same thing for our husbands.  But do we serve sacrificially outside of our home?

I have to admit, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in this area just by making a meal for someone or giving a homeless person on the corner some money every once in a while.  Sometimes I send out a card of encouragement.  Those things are all well and good, but they certainly didn’t cause any amount of sacrifice on my part.

I wonder what our giving and our service would look like if it really cost us something? Imagine the blessings we could bestow on others – what we could teach our children! What would you be willing to sacrifice?

– would you give up vacation $ to pay for another couple to have a much-needed weekend away?

– would you give up the chance to go to this years home school convention so another mom could go?

– would you not eat out for a month so you could give someone else grocery money?

I just can’t help much imagine what an impact we could have on the world for Jesus if we really loved and served the way the He did.  In a way that actually cost us something.  What will they remember about you at your funeral?

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What Our Children Don’t Know Won’t Hurt Them

We don’t have cable TV in our home.  The only shows we watch are when we have family movies nights, or very occasional PBS cartoons during lunchtime.

So I was appalled this week when Son I. came home from school with this Time “for Kids” Magazine with Malala Yousafzai on the cover.  In case you are not familiar with her, Malala is a young woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban on the way to school in 2012.

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The article talks about how her friends sold her out to the Taliban fighters before they shot her in the head.  According to the article, Malala was voted person of the year over Taylor Swift and Peyton Manning.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather my children vote for a singer or football player and not have any idea about a girl on the other side of the world being shot in the head on the way to school.

Another article in the same magazine talked about the terrorist attacks in France.  It said, “The week before the rallies, gunmen had shot and killed 17 innocent people in three separate attacks.  The victims included eight journalists and three police officers.  The gunmen are believed to have had ties to the terrorist groups of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.”

Son I. is in third grade.  He is nine years old.  Does he really need to know about al-Qaeda and ISIS? More than that, with Common Core, my children can barely figure out multiplication and division, much less write a cohesive paragraph, but they are spending time on this?!?

I know some of you will just tell us if we don’t like public schools to pull them out.  We already homeschool Daughter P, but due to the nature of Andy’s divorce, we have no choice but to keep our other children in the school where they are.

Secondly, I don’t advocate keeping your child naïve of all the wrongs in the world.  We strongly support missionaries in Ghana and our children understand that there are people all over the world who suffer in various ways and don’t have as much as we do in America.

But do our children need to know about terrorists and school shootings and other adult issues? And then we wonder about why childhood anxiety is on the rise.  Time magazine itself had an article suggesting up to 25% of children have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.  From scary dreams to being unable to sleep to general worry – why are we forcing our children to deal with issues that terrify us as adults?

Let our kids be kids!

Dawn

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Why MLK Day Meant So Much to Us This Year

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I grew up in Indiana, literally surrounded by cornfields.  It’s a great place to grow up, but not the most culturally diverse play(especially in the 80’s and in the rural areas).  My entire elementary school had 100 kids in it.  I grew up and went to a Christian college that had maybe a total of 10 African-Americans enrolled (and to say “African-American” is probably not accurate, because many of those students were probably foreign students actually from Africa).  I say all of that to point out that although my parents taught us to be accepting of all races, my experience and knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was relegated, like most white American children, to that one day in January when we would do some sort of craft or read one book about him.

Once I graduated with my teaching degree, I began teaching in Florida with a more diverse student population and really began focusing on incorporating more African-American history into my lesson plans and book selections.  I purposefully carried that over once I started homeschooling Daughter P, but since she was only in Pre-K last year, the books on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were a little over her head, and I didn’t feel like they made much of an impact.  But I was so wrong.

Last year we decided to go to Atlanta for our family vacation.  Mainly it was because it was only a day’s drive and there were lots of great Groupons available.  We had planned on going to the Aquarium and the Zoo, but Daughter H had recently been bringing home lots of books from the school library on famous African-Americans, so I suggested that we also go to the Martin Luther King Jr. historical sites.

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I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how we would be received – a white family with four kids walking through these historical sites that are so sacred to the African-American community, but everywhere we went, our family was warmly received and we were complimented on how well our children behaved.  But seriously, it was because they were engaged.  Without really lecturing them too much, they just got how very important it was to be where we were.  I will never forget sitting in the empty pews of the Ebenezer Baptist Church with just my family and listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preaching over the loudspeakers.  Or how we stood to leave when the sermon was over and the singing began and Daughter P said, “Can we just wait until this song is over?”

It was a scorching hot day, but we walked to each site, ending with the MLK homesite.  We had missed all the tours for the day, but the kids stood on the porch for a picture.  We walked around to the back of the house and were shocked to find the backyard was unfenced and wide open.  My husband and I stood in awe as we watched our four precious young children play in the same backyard that the great Martin Luther King Jr. had once played in as child himself.

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On the way back to the car we talked to the kids and told them maybe someday our home would become a historical site because of something great they do.  What an awesome thought! That visit became their favorite part of the trip, and they are already asking when we can go back to go inside the house.

So, this year for MLK Day, I really want to incorporate some neat activities into Daughter P’s school day.  She’s only in Kindergarten, but I found these great age-appropriate activities online, and they introduced some great discussion (I have included the links when appropriate).

We began the day by watching the “I Have a Dream Speech” on YouTube.  (Yes, Rosie the puppy dog watched too.)

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Next, we read the book “Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport and completed this “I Have a Dream” worksheet.

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Lastly, we used this “I Have a Dream” form to examine two differently colored eggs and make some observations.

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We still live in a mostly Caucasian suburb in Indiana.  And no, I don’t believe for one second that such simple activities mean that racism won’t ever be a part of my children’s thoughts or behaviors.  But it’s a start.  Are the race problems in our country solved? Absolutely not.  But I am proud that we have come so far.  I am proud that my children can’t imagine a time in our country when white children and black children weren’t allowed to go to the same school or site together in a movie theater.  I am glad that they don’t pick friends based on the color of their skin, but based on how much they get along with them.  And I pray that I can teach them how to fight injustice, so they will teach their children, and one day perhaps we will live in such a nation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of.

Dawn

  (p.s. Although MLK day has passed for 2015, these would be great activities to use for Black History Month as well!)