Sunday, May 18, 2014

Why the test?

    I went to church today for the first time since I lost him.  If I was being honest, I would say that I was dreading the whole experience.  I was dreading all of the people who want to tell me that they love me and that they are sad for me.  Why - in - the - world?  That doesn't make any sense.  These people love me, and I want to run away.
    But, that's what we usually do, isn't it?  We put on our happy church clothes and our happy church faces and pray that no one will ask us what is really going on inside.  We hope no one can see that we are not perfect.  When people reach out in love, we draw back, because they might actually see the real us.
    I was so worried about talking to my friends at church, that I didn't even really think about running into God.  But, it seems that He had a lot to say to me.  Our first hymn caught me by surprise.  I thought I was doing a very good job of distancing myself from emotion, (because that's what you're supposed to do, right?)  Our first hymn was "When the Morning Comes," and verse three says...
Temptations, hidden snares, often take us unawares,
And our hearts are made to bleed, for each thoughtless word or deed;
And we wonder why the test, when we try to do our best,
But we'll understand it better by and by.

I wanted to scream out at that point. "Why the test?!!! I don't understand." Our associate pastor's sermon this morning was about listening to God. He said that we are too busy to listen. And, that we often only listen when there is a test in our lives. He mentioned how we misunderstand what God is trying to tell us.

Ok. How in the world? Do you ever feel like a sermon was written just for you? I was absolutely SURE that I knew what God was telling me. I was positive that when I talked to my husband about it, he would say, "He's been telling me that too!!! Let's do it!" That is not how our conversation went. I must admit that I was disappointed.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD" Isaiah 55:8.

The scripture from this morning was 1 Kings 19:9-13. Have you read it? Do you remember where Elijah heard God's voice? It was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in "a still small voice." Do you know what I think God told me this morning? He said, "Keep listening. Curl up in my lap, take comfort under my strong wing, and wait."
1. Trials dark on ev'ry hand, and we cannot understand All the ways that God willlead us to that blessed promised land;
But He'll guide us with His eye, and we'll follow till we die,
We will understand it better by and by.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Value of Life: "A person's a person, no matter how small."

  May 14, 2014

    Grief is a weird thing.  There are so many stages of it and so many different ways to express it. I must say, that I always feel like I'm doing it wrong.  I feel like I should apologise when I cry too much.  On the other hand, I think I don't look sad enough when I don't feel like crying.  Why can't I just be okay with the way I feel?
    My husband and I found out that we were expecting our 4th (5th) child about 2 months ago.  I'm intrigued by the difference in people's reactions to finding out that you are expecting your 4th child instead of finding out that you are expecting your 1st child.  With your first child, there are grand congratulations and excitement.  They tell you that you're glowing and have lots of (unsolicited) advice about how you should go forward.
    When someone finds out that you are expecting your 4th (or 5th, or 6th, or 7th......) child, the reactions are different.  I've heard the all popular, "Don't you know how that happens?"  Some people feel the need to inform you of how birth control works.  Or, "Boy, don't you have your hands full already?"  "Better you than me."
    It's like people think children are a disease that you don't want to catch.  Did they somehow forget that we all start out as children and that someone chose to have them?  Can you imagine saying those things to someone who is pregnant for the first time? The Bible tells us that "Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord"  Psalm 127:3.  It does not say that one or two children are a gift from God.  It does not say that only perfect children are a gift from God.
    About two weeks ago, I began to feel that things were not quite right with this pregnancy.  I have had three successful pregnancies that followed a miscarriage, so no matter what people told me, I knew that something was wrong.  I'm gonna tell you what was going on with me.  (If you're pregnant, please don't think that these things mean you are having problems.  These were just things unlike my previous pregnancies.)  In the beginning of this pregnancy, I was horribly nauseous and tired; more than any other time.  I felt comfort in this, because it confirmed that I was pregnant.  Two weeks ago, I was no longer nauseous or tired, and the stomach issues I had been having just went away.  This was all at the same time that I saw one small pink spot.
    I began to have long, tearful talks with God at night instead of sleeping.  One night I just could not get calmed down, when an Amy Grant song came to my head.  "Lay down your burdens.  I will carry you.  I will carry you, my child my child."  I sang it over and over and was finally able to go to sleep.  You see, God and I have been talking about this for a long time now.  I've been mourning my child long before I really knew for sure that anything was wrong.
    I teach 4th and 5th grade children's choir at my church.  We have been preparing to sing in church on Mother's day.  On Saturday, we went to my middle child's soccer game, shopping, and then to my cousin's birthday lunch.  Then, I cleaned the house for all of our family who was coming over the rest of the day.  And on Sunday, the kids did great!!  When we all came back to the house to eat lunch, I began to feel horrible.  I had a headache that wouldn't go away, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
    Monday morning, I had planned to take the kids to Columbia to the Riverbanks zoo and to see their Grandfather.  My spotting was worse and I almost called it off, but we went. We had a great time Monday, and all night I prayed that I would be able to make it back home the next day without anything happening.  I called the doctor Tuesday morning and got a 2:20 appointment.  So, we went back to the zoo.  My back hurt and I was really tired, but I am so glad that we went.  The children had a great time, and I got to think about my happy time with them instead of focusing on my worry and sadness the whole time.

    I knew before my appointment that my baby was gone.

    The nurses and doctors were very kind the next day.  Dr. T did an ultrasound and told me very gently that there was no heartbeat.  I knew there wouldn't be, but I didn't really think about the fact that I would see my little one looking just like my little baby right there on the screen.  There's the thought that my baby doesn't have a heartbeat, and then there's looking at a baby on a screen who isn't moving.  He died at 9 weeks.  I carried him 2 more weeks.  A 9 week old baby is only about an inch long.  An inch long, and he looked just like a baby.  "A person's a person no matter how small."  My baby was 1 inch long, and I loved him as much as I love my big tall almost 7 year old boy.

    I love him.
    The doctor brought us (my husband and I) into a room.  I'd been in this room almost 8 years ago exactly.  I hate this part.  I felt prepared for it, having done it before and knowing that I was losing him.  I was ready for the words of comfort and the details of what had to be done now.
I    was    not    prepared.
    He began by telling us that studies have shown that with most miscarriages, the tissue shows that the babies had downs or trisomy 18.  (I love him.)  He went on to tell us a story about a lady who has carried a baby for 22 weeks and just found out that her baby has trisomy 18.  "She'll probably just miscarry the baby on her own now, which is good, but still sad," he says.  (She loves her.  I love him.)  He says it's not my fault.  ( I know.)  You know, all I really wanted to say was, "Please be quiet.  You're making it worse."  He was so kind.  He was so compassionate.  He did great at his job.  Did he value the life of my baby?  Well, his words said no.  God's words say  "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
—Psalm 139:13-14
  "Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7.  Don't give all your worries to your doctor, because, oh my goodness, he will fail you.  Don't hide them under a bushel or scream them at your husband.  Give them to God, because He can handle them.
    God may have taken my child to spare him a life of pain.  Does that mean that I don't miss him?  No.  Does that mean I'm mad at God?  No.  We named him Isaiah.  "So don't worry, because I am with you.  Don't be afraid, because I am your God.  I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you."  Isaiah 41:10.  One day, I will go to him.
    Let's make a new vow, Christians.  Let's embrace the blessing of children:  all children, no matter how many, no matter where they come from, and no matter what they look like.  Can we let our words show God's love of children?  And if we can't, can we please be quiet?  Because, we're making things worse.


Monday, January 14, 2013

"You have enough toys to choke an elephant with"


"You have enough toys to choke an elephant with"

As a homeschool mom, my house is multifunctional.  It has to function as a classroom.  Have you ever been in a classroom closet or seen their shelves?  As a former public school music teacher, I know that a classroom is full of stuff.  I am always trying to get rid of stuff to make more room. (for more stuff, of course)  I also try (emphasis on try) to keep all of the toys organized and put away when we are not playing with them, but more on that later.  So, I try to follow three rules when deciding what to buy and what to keep:  1. Is it educational?  2. Is it multifunctional?  3.  Will it last a long time?  (this does not include consumable items like playdough.)  Here's my list of some of my favorite toys to keep and buy.

1.  Puppets - Pretty much any story can be reenacted with puppets. They encourage imaginative play, speech, and memory.

2.  Blocks (of all kinds) - wooden, legos, large cardboard ones, trio, pattern... - Blocks help with fine motor skills, imagination, and are just plain fun to knock down.  I always have to get my boys started with these, but then I have to make them stop playing.  We like to combine blocks with another toy, like animals, or cars.  Blocks can become houses, tracks, animal pens,

 3.  Trains and Cars - and tracks, and train tables, and rugs with roads on them and masking tape on the floor, oh my! 

 4.  Tents and tunnels - In our house, these items get played with every single day.  I find them on the beds, in the ball pit filled with play food, in the book nook filled with books.  They do not encourage a clean house, but they do encourage team work, imagination, and problem solving.  And, then I encourage cleaning up!

5.  Plastic animals and other things (this is where most of our McDonald's toys go)

6.  Pegs with boards and Gears

7. Puzzles

8.  Dress up clothes -Every single time we have a playdate, you can bet that the kids will come out dressed as something.  Sometimes, it takes our friends to remind us how much we like to play with them.  This is another messy activity, because we can't seem to play with them without dumping out all of the boxes and wearing them throughout the house. 

9.  Doll houses - Okay, I have two boys and my new little girl, so my definition of "doll houses" is quite wide.  We play with a big toy farm that has like a thousand little pieces that go with it, including tractors and combines and we use an old fisher price house and farm that I had when I was little.  With the addition of a little girl, we have added a new fisher price my first doll house as well.  The point is that they are using their imagination.  I sometimes start them off with a story and they go from there, but often times, they are the ones that get the story going.  In other instances, with boys especially, the play is about sorting or building or stacking.  My middle child loves finding all of the little flowers that go with our farm and putting them into containers.  There's just something about things that are that small that hold their fascination.

10.  Board games

Monday, August 27, 2012

Okay, so homeschool...  We are now starting our second week.  I've discovered a few things. 
1.  The writing curriculum I bought for D. is way too hard for him right now.
2.  The math curriculum that came with it has a lot of writing involved.
So, back to the drawing board.  I think we will try and stick with the phonics portion of it.  It's "American Language Series."  I've been impressed with the Saxton math so far.  I know that no one likes Saxton math after kindergarten, but I like that the kindergarten curriculum uses all manipulatives.  D. responds well to hands on, and badly to coloring. 

I thought it was interesting how my lesson plan compared with what we actually did today.  I just thought I'd share.  It was a very "unschooling" day :-)

My lesson plan
for D.  - math, read the pictograph we did on Friday
                    and give him a handful of counting frogs and pattern blocks to play with together.
                   (he made a "family boat" out of the pattern blocks for all of the frogs to be on)
             - phonics sheet
             - write the letters, l, o, i, and d on the white board
             - unit study, decorate the cover of the lapbook we're making and look at body part cards
               (he pretty much refused to color it.  he hates coloring.  I made him color one letter.  but, unprompted, he tried to write "by (his name)" on the bottom of it.  He wrote "Bi (his name)"  I was really impressed!)
             - a math game with beads and pipe cleaners
             - theraputty.  i just had him pull and push it a while to strengthen his fingers

H is doing the letter of the week curriculum.  You can find it here.
We finished up the letter A and started the letter E.  Just as with D, he hates to color; wouldn't do it.  But, he pasted A's on a tree, matching them to capital or lowercase.  We made an A aligator for his letter book.  He matched the letters of the word elephant with the word elephant, capital and lowercase.  He played with stickers:  his favorite thing in the world.  And, something else I can't remember.

All of the above only took about 30 minutes.  Our calendar time before that, took 30 minutes.

So, I know you're wondering what we did the rest of the day.

These are the things not on my lesson plan that we learned/did today:  all before naptime at 2.
 (breakfast, lunch, a snack, morning chores)
- did a puppet show to the song "Manah Manah" by the Muppets
- the next song on D's ipod was "The Fox," by Nickel Creek.  So, he made a fox puppet from a paper bag.
-did a puppet show with his fox puppet to "The Fox."  Then, we wrote the word "fox" on the puppet.  He sounded the letters out for me.
- all 3 kids played pretend in the kitchen area.  I "ate" lots of soup and ice cream.
- created a train track that spanned the length of the house and played with the plastic thomas trains.
- I read books aloud:  "I Wanna Iguana," "My Friend , the Monster," and "Support Systems:  How the Bones and Muscles Work Together."
- The last book led to an explanation of joints using playdough and popsicle sticks.  Then, they played with that for about 10 minutes.
- D. looked at "The Interrupting Chicken" book and H. listened to Wee Sing Dinosaurs, Bugs, and ABCs.
- Oh, and after H and E went down for their nap, D listened to me read 3 chapters of "The Bobbsey Twins' Wonderful Secret."

After naps, we have snack, more read alouds, afternoon chores, and then the boys will watch "The Magic Schoolbus:  The Human Body."

Whew.  I sure am worn out from sitting around all day eating bon bons ;-)


Friday, March 9, 2012

The Alphabet Game

I tried an alphabet game with the boys that I found on pinterest.

They had to find things that started with each letter and place it on the correct card.

Add caption

D decided that he needed to be on the letter D, seeing that his name starts with D.

We discovered that most of the things in our house start with the letters, B, D, E, and H.  Overall, I think the game went pretty well.  D liked it.

Some thoughts.

I had a realization this week.  Well, it's been coming on for a while, but I think it just clicked this week.  Guess what?!?  No one is perfect.  I mean, that "all have sinned" thing is true!!  Yeah, yeah, I've always known that.  But, I didn't know that it applied to moms too.  I have this tendency to think that I'm the only one struggling and that everyone else has it all together.  I'm the only one who yells.  I'm the only one who loses it.  I'm the only one who wants to hide in the closet.  I'm the only one who feels inadequate.  I think that we, as Southerners, sometimes do each other a disservice putting on a "I have it all together" mask.  Because, guess what, people believe it!! 
I am doing a Bible study, through BSF(Bible Study Fellowship), on the acts of the apostles.  One of the things my lecturer said, is to ask God to help you see yourself as He does.  She said "you are more deeply flawed, but you are also more deeply loved."  So, I did.  I asked God to show me how He and other people see me.  Guys, don't ask God for that unless you are ready to see it.  Seriously!!  You might not want to know.  I won't go into everything I saw, because oh my goodness, no one will want to hang out with me. 
And, it has also helped me see that other people are struggling too. 
Okay, this has been stream of consciousness, and I don't know what point I was trying to make.
How about, moms (and dads), God has placed your children with the perfect parents for them.  Give yourselves a break.  Pray; read your Bible; have your quiet time with God; trust God; trust yourself.  Then, love your children the best way you know how. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Trial and Error

Today I let D and H use our new "Do A Dot" painters on the letter B. It had the circles on it, so it was supposed to teach one to one correspondence. I had to go and change E's diaper while they did some of this. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that H (the 2 year old) had done pretty good with the dots. I have discovered that he won't do an art project longer than 15 minutes at the most, though. (Sometimes 2 minutes) I will need two projects for him in the future. I was frustrated that D(the 4 yr old) wasn't filling in his paper when I got back. But, I soon discovered that he was mixing his colors. He was putting a blue dot down, and then a yellow dot on top of it to get a green dot. He explained to me that he had all of the primary colors and was seeing what colors they made when you put them together. (What!? I didn't know he knew what those were.) So, I showed him that the other three colors we had were called secondary colors. So, my plan did not go as planned, but learning took place. So, success!
I also introduced my idea for a new discipline plan to them. I'm going to use a discipline ladder along with reward bucks. So, I let D and H help me make a list of things that would make them go down the ladder and a list of things that will make them go up the ladder. We also made a list of things that we would like to buy with our reward bucks. D was soooooooooooo excited. I mean, like dancing around the house, excited. I need to make the ladder now, and decide the "prices" for the prizes. to come.