Friday, January 30, 2015

Quick Update

Do you know how difficult it is to find school uniforms in January? It appears that only khaki pants can be found at this time of year. To remedy the situation we went online to order direct from French Toast. In the meantime she is going to have to make the most of the one uniform we have.
We met this morning with the middle school dean. I could not have asked for a better meeting. Questions were answered, a course of action was made, and this Mama was reassured that everything is going to be alright.
She is going to have four main teachers, three of which will be male. Apart from a gym teacher in first grade, she has always had female teachers. I am very happy about this, I think DD will respond well. She will also have two electives, Art and Intro to Office. Also, great fits. No foreign language which means we can continue to work on Nepali at home, in her own way and time. :)
Also, after bawling my eyes out yesterday, I did not cry once today. Progress. Peace.
A good day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In a Foreign Land

My friend Rebecca was born and raised in Namibia, Africa. One of my favorite stories of her transition to America was when she asked for a pencil eraser during class because she had made a mistake on her paper. Her request, "May I have a rubber, please?" elicited many laughs as American English and British English collided. Even though she grew up speaking English her whole life she still encountered awkward moments as she applied it in a new and foreign land.
My baby girl is on her way to her own foreign land next week, public school. As I process all the changes that will take place, I can not help but wonder what awkward moments await my daughter as she enters this new and unfamiliar territory. The truth is she is speaks the language of school. She has been learning her whole life so the concepts of math assignments, reading and writing are not new. What will be new is what all that means within the confines of a 8am-3pm class room. Will she embarrass herself by not following the norms of school protocol? Maybe.
I am trying not to overwhelm her with a list of dos and don'ts. I am trying to let her experience this in her own way and time. At the moment she is excited. Willing to put her best foot forward and try her best.
This is also new territory for me. In writing that, the tears are filling my eyes overflowing. While I am excited to see my girl stretch her wings and fly. I am sad. Yesterday, she said ever so sweetly, "Mom, your going to miss me." and I started to sob ugly cry. Absolutely I am going to miss her. This sweet precious girl of mine and I have always been close. At times she has been my shadow. We have lived the first 11 years of her life always within arms reach, rarely out of earshot. I have often said, "The blessing of homeschooling is that you are always together." I have experienced each and every first. I know her strengths, her weaknesses. I know what brings her joy and what makes her angry. I know my daughter. And I know she is ready for this next step in her journey. But that does not mean it will be easy to let her go. I am going to have to trust. Trust God. Trust the school. Trust her teacher. Trust my daughter, which I do.
I have a feeling inquiring minds want to know, why. Why am I sending her to public school? Truth, we have had a great run of homeschooling. We have done some amazing things. I guess it boils down to this; adolescences is a hard time.  Rather than see us growing closer I have seen our relationship stressed. Ironically, the best thing about homeschooling can also be the hardest part. You are always together. An annoying classmate is one thing, but when you never get away from it, it's hard. I sense she needs a space of her own. Something to call her own. A reprieve from the current frustrations she is facing. Will it be forever? I don't know. I am looking it as the right decision for now. For the next 4 and a half months, this is what needs to happen. I just know that I love her enough to let her go and I have a God who is big enough to be with her wherever she goes.
Boxes of tissue appreciated as well as your prayers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Brought You Here?

In this life we are all on a journey. For some it has been a journey with many challenges. Hardships. Barriers. Uncertainty. Fear. Unknown territory. How we adjust to each of these challenges determines our happiness in life as well as our future security.
I have watched many of my refugee friends as they have faced many of the above. New in an unknown land, with language barriers. I have watched as they apply for jobs; bought homes and cars. I have seen them in the garden, connecting to the land, providing for their families, hope in their eyes. I have sat in their living rooms and listened to their language and taught them mine. I have seen the determination in both young and old to make a good life here in America.
Today, I found myself at the Gerald Ford Auditorium for the naturalization ceremony as a couple friends became United States citizens. A beautiful moment in their journeys.
Just before the court came to order a man came to the front to give some general instructions regarding the day. He noted what to do and not to do with their certificates. He went over the basics of applying to vote, and how to change their status to citizens. But there was one moment that caught me off guard and brought me to tears. Two rows in front of me was a husband and wife along with their three children. The man announced that once the parents are citizens that all children under the age of 18 and under their green card will also at that moment be citizens. The joy and emotion on this families faces was absolutely touching. A family all becoming citizens together.
The court came to order, the Honorable Judge Neff presiding. She shared with us that the new citizens came from 38 countries from around the world; near and far. Lands of peace and others of turmoil and strife. She read the 81 names of the new citizens and each came forward to receive their certificates. Such pride and joy on each face. Happiness. Happy to belong to this great country.
The Star Spangle Banner was sung. The Pledge of Allegiance recited. Each new citizen responding to the oath. The singing of God Bless America. Then the colors were retired and court was adjourned.
Much joy, clapping, hugging and handshakes as congratulations went around the room.
Then another moment, that tugged at my heart. A woman sobbing, a joyous happy sob as she exclaimed, "Now no one can take him from us. He is here to stay!" A fear released. New hope.
As I scanned the room I realized, each individual had a story. How I would love to sit down with each of them and ask, "What brought you to America?" "Welcome!"
May you find peace and happiness in your new land.
Mero bahini United States citizen ho. Congratulations!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hami Nepali Sikdaichhau.

Simply translated; we are learning Nepali.

It is not an easy language to learn. It uses the Devanāgarī alphabet which is more like symbols than letters. It has 36 consonants and 12 vowels. But the hardest part is not that it is so very different from English, it is the lack of resources. This is the only worksheet I have found. Nepali Alphabet with worksheets It is an excellent worksheet for practicing writing. Since we spend about 30 minutes a day studying Nepali I have had to create many of my own resources and methods in order to teach the kids. 

We are currently working on the following:

आज ___________________ हो ।

Aja ___________________ ho. (Today is____.)

हिजो ______________________ थियो ।

Hijo ______________________ thiyo. (Yesterday was___.)

भोलि ______________________ हो ।

Bholi _____________________ ho. (Tomorrow is___.)

फर्सी _______________________हो ।

Pharsi ____________________ ho. (Two days out is__.)

Yo mahina ______________ho. The month is_________.

Sunday: आइतबार (aitabaar)

Monday: सोमबार (sombaar)

Tuesday: मंगलबार (mangalbaar)

Wednesday: बुधबार (budhabaar)

Thursday: बिहिबार (bihibaar)

Friday: शुक्रबार (shukrabaar)

Saturday: शनिबार (shanibaar)


I am going to take a similar approach to what we did when the kids were in first grade Math. Each day that had a simple routine that covered the date, counting, patterns, and weather. Using an empty hundred chart we will fill in one number each day and count to that number. We will start with 20 as they have already mastered one through twenty. We will say the above sentences regarding the days of the week as well as the date. Eventually we will add the weather or a different subject we are studying.

We are also just starting barakhadi, combining the consonants with the vowels. It looks like this:
क, क, का, कि, की, कु, कू, के, कै, को, कौ, कं कँ, कः

When it comes to nouns we do fairly well. Having been exposed to the language for three years now, we have acquired a decent vocabulary. For instances I can easily tell you every vegetable that grows at the garden. Where I struggle is with the verbs; making complete sentences.

Verbs! There are days that I wonder if I will every conquer them. There are so many to learn. They have so many forms. Similar to Spanish they have different endings depending on whom you are referring to. Add in past, present, active present, future tense, and injunctives and you have 40 ways to say each verb. Yikes! Yet learn them we will. I am slowly grasping the present tense.

I have a whole new appreciation for my gardeners learning a second language. It is hard. This last weekend I was at one of my friends homes and was awkwardly practicing my first ten verbs, as I struggled at times they would gently correct me. Then a relative that is currently working on her English came and we studied together. I would say a word in Nepali and she would say it in English and we would help each other with the correct pronunciation. It was very productive for both of us. This is the best resource I have, native speakers that are patient with me.

I think the snipping tool is about to become my new best friend as I piece together English and Spanish worksheets to come up with my own Nepali practice papers. If anyone knows of any handy resources that will help us on our quest to becoming fluent Nepali speakers, please comment below. 

Lastly, a huge thanks to my mom for getting me a Nepali dictionary for Christmas complete with Devanāgarī. It has been an immense help.