First Day of School 2017

Today was the first day of the 2017-18 school year!

We started with everyone’s favorite first day of school tradition…opening the schultüte:

Of course I took a lot of pictures:

After everyone looked through their new workbooks for the year (and put them away), we had a short Matins service. And then we started on our other favorite first day of school tradition…building our new Lego set for the year. This time, it was the Lego Ideas Saturn V rocket, the biggest school set we’ve built so far (it took about four hours!!!)! Since we started school before Moose this year, he got to join in the fun, too!

That’s about it. We didn’t do any real work today…that can wait for tomorrow. We’re looking forward to all the new and interesting things we’re going to be learning this year!

Kantorei Kamp 2017

For the third summer in a row, “The Bigs” attended Kantorei Kamp at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis. It is definitely the highlight of June!

The sang for three different services at three different locations for camp. On Thursday, they assisted with chapel at Concordia Seminary St. Louis, where they sang a verse of “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word,” in addition to other pieces:

On Friday, they assisted with chapel at the LC-MS International Center, where they sang some  of the pieces they had done at the Seminary, and some they hadn’t. My favorite of these was “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart.”

Another of their pieces, “For You, O Lord, Have Delivered My Soul From Death,” is based on Psalm 116.

They also sang Cantate Domino, which they have sung in the past:

They worked on a sung version of the Choristers’ Prayer at camp, although they didn’t sing it publicly. I got to hear it while I was waiting for them to finish up one day, though!

They sang all of the pieces they did for both chapel services for the Divine Service at Hope this morning, and they also sang a verse of Hope’s 100th anniversary hymn, “As Stone on Living Stone Is Set.”

And they even got to play “Lord of All Hopefulness” on handbells!

It was a fun week for everybody, even Chickadee, who got to spend a lot of time with just me this week. And she turned into something of the camp mascot…she even got her own T-shirt!

This is the last year all four of “The Bigs” will get to participate in Kantorei Kamp, because Turkey has aged (and voice-changed) out of it. The rest of the children are already looking forward to next year’s camp, though!

Awards on Ascension Day

It’s hard to believe, but the children just wrapped another season (and Turkey’s last), of singing with the Kantorei! As was the case last year, those choristers who completed certain exams received awards. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug upgraded the light blue ribbons that accompany their medals to dark blue. Moose received the white surplice this year, which is a huge achievement for him!

The medal is the same (and I still think it looks cool!), and I really love the color of the new ribbon!

I am very proud of how hard the children have worked at singing and learning about music!

Confirmation Day!

Today was Moose’s Confirmation Day. He has worked so hard on memory work and sermon reports for the last two years, and has attended class faithfully every Thursday after school. We are so proud of him, and it was very exciting to see him confirm the faith that was given to him in his baptism, and receive the Sacrament of the Altar for the first time this morning!

In addition to being Confirmation Day, it was also World Autism Awareness Day. We made sure to have plenty of blue at our party, from the cake to the table runner, and even the plates and napkins. Many of our friends and family were able to join us, and it was a very fun time!

Moose was child number four to be confirmed…we’ll only celebrate this particular milestone one more time!

Some Thoughts on Confirmation Day

Moose’s Confirmation Day is rapidly approaching. I only wish that everyone in our congregation could know how hard he has worked to make it to this point.

I have some experience in the confirmation department, starting with the fact that I remember how much work my own confirmation classes, even though they were over 20 years ago now, were. I remember the sermon reports and memory work and service projects and classes…and I remember how much we complained about doing it all.

I have taught confirmation to two different grade levels at two different churches, as well. I got to hear the complaints about how much work it was, and how unfair it was that I expected so much, from the teacher’s point-of-view.

And more recently, I’ve helped four of my five children work their ways through a two-year catechesis program at our church. I have seen them each work, and sometimes struggle, and occasionally complain themselves as they went through the process.

I have never seen a student work as hard as Moose has.

When Turkey and Bunny began catechesis in 2010, at ages seven-and-a-half and six, respectively, it wasn’t without its challenges, mostly in the form of sermon reports. Their work was all over the place, literally and figuratively, and every week, I would sit down with them after church, and help them untangle their notes so they could turn in a completed sermon report that was both legible and coherent. Catechesis with children of such a young age is an adventure, but extra rewarding in its own way.

Ladybug had her own struggles when she began catechesis at age seven-and-a-half, again in the area of sermon reports. This time, the difficulty was mostly due to her dyslexia, and while her thoughts were fairly well-organized, her handwriting and spelling, especially at the beginning, were rough, although she worked really, really hard at it.

Moose actually tried to start catechesis with Ladybug in 2014, but he just wasn’t ready. So instead, he began his first year of class in 2015, just before he turned 10. He has had to fight every step of the way. The memory work, that came so easily to my other children, has been a major struggle for him. I think this is partly because I have always required the memorization of Bible verses, hymns, and poems in my homeschool, so the concept of memorizing the catechism was nothing new to his siblings. Moose, however, has never been required to do any memorization like that at his school, so it does not come naturally. And for someone who has struggled with speech, ever since he learned to speak, the physical act of saying the memory work has also been a huge challenge. He is determined, though, and has kept at it every week, even when it frustrated him (and to be honest, me as well, sometimes),  and has faithfully said it every Thursday.

Sermon reports have been challenging for him in ways that were different from how they challenged his siblings. The physical act of writing isn’t easy for Moose, even though he has very nice handwriting and excellent spelling, and trying to keep up with a sermon is very difficult for him. Staying focused on one thing for so long, when there is so much else to look at in church, is also a huge challenge. Our pastor very kindly found a new kind of sermon report form partway through catechesis that made keeping up with them much easier for Moose, and he works very hard to fill one out most Sundays, but it still isn’t easy for him.

Even the act of attending catechesis has sometimes been a huge challenge. Neurotypical children struggle with paying attention to one more thing in the afternoon or evening following a long, often exhausting, day of school. Multiply that by, I don’t know, a zillion, and you can begin to understand how it has been for Moose. School can be an overwhelming place…bright, oftentimes loud, and draining socially. And then to go almost immediately to catechesis, where he has to continue to focus, and especially on days where he has things like book reports and standardized tests hanging over his head…I really wish there was a way for people to understand how draining that has been for him, but how diligent he has been in spite of it. There have been days where I’m not really sure he’s been paying attention in class (although he almost always is), and days where I’m sure he’d rather be anywhere else, but he has never complained about going. In fact, he always wants to make sure we get to church early, because he can’t stand the thought of being late to class.

So I wish that when he stands up there on April 2, in front of our congregation, and confirms his faith, and receives the Sacrament of the Altar for the first time, everyone in the church could know how hard he’s worked; how much harder it has been for him than for any other child I’ve ever known. I wish they could appreciate his dedication to studying the Catechism, and to doing all the things he needed to do. I want them to know how important doing this has been to him…he simply wouldn’t have done it at all if it wasn’t.

Confirmation Day, on April 2, falls on World Autism Awareness Day. This is a departure from our church’s regular Confirmation Day on Palm Sunday. There were scheduling conflicts that pushed it up a week, and I can only assume that God had a hand in that, and did it for Moose…allowing his Confirmation Day to fall on his day, a day where we already celebrate who he is because of and in spite of autism.

Chickadee Thursday

Another one of Chickadee’s favorite things about going to catechesis with Moose on Thursday afternoons is erasing the white board after class is over. She is very proud of herself for helping, even though she can barely reach the whole board, even with the help of a chair!

Over the weekend, we stopped at Target, and Chickadee had to take a picture with Lego Batman. She is a huge fan of Batman, and Lego, so this movie is tailor-made for her…she can’t wait to see it! In the meantime, she has an awful lot of “Batitude!”