Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crazy Fall

It has been amazing to see how God works in our individual lives. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.
I had no idea our fall would take the turn it did. I've already had a crazy amount of change and mental rescheduling and priority shifting (homeschooling). I am still babysitting a delightfully wonderful little boy who has gone from this tiny little 8 week old at the beginning of last year to a giggling bundle of 17-month-old energy this year.
We also tried a sport his fall with a fair amount of success. Precious Jewel loved it and proved to be fairly decent for a newcomer to the sport. Mr. Smile's team won the championship much to his delight. Good Lookin' was only delighted that the whole thing was over and declared he thought it "was stupid" since he wasn't allowed to touch the ball with his hands. And Nater Mater? Well, if you count the rolling around on the ground and a fair amount of pouting because he didn't want to kick the ball as playing soccer, then I guess he played too.
But in the midst of all that, I got sick. Remember Precious Jewel's eye surgery back in the beginning of October? It was another one of those times I had to help hold her down and NOT pass out while I was inches away from the Doctor who was cutting open her eyelid while she was screaming loud enough to break every glass item in the room. 
I thought I had strained my back in all the stress. I thought that the 4 plus days with the 4 kids on 4 different soccer fields and 4 over-lapping schedules had caused the pain in my back to worsen. Then when just 3 days after Precious Jewel's eye surgery I found myself un-able to pick up a sock off the floor without having to pull myself back up because it felt as if someone had a hot iron prodding me in my left side, I thought maybe I should see the Doctor.
Kidney Infection was the diagnosis and has been ever since then.
Except for post-Nater Mater C-section when I was hormone-crazed and severely sleep-deprived and could barely stand up, I have never hurt so bad in my life.
But you know what? My family...my dear sweet wonderful husband and kids, proved to me that even if mommy falls apart they can and will carry on. Because honestly, I'm still not fully recovered. I spent the next 6 weeks on a crazy cycle of antibiotics and pain meds and trying to function and take care of my kids and babysit, and it was all I could do to make it until Luke got home at the end of the day so I could go to bed and sleep for the next 12 fitful hours.  Forget housework. Forget cooking. Forget cleaning.
My main goal every day was to get the very basics in school done with Precious Jewel, love on Little B and Nater Matter and get a nap when they did so that I didn't walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame by mid-afternoon. All else was non-essential.
Sweet, loving, wonderful Luke spent 6 weeks cooking, cleaning (to the best of his overwhelmed abilities), folding laundry, helping kids with homework, washing dishes and putting everyone to bed BY HIMSELF. He has done all this with a servant's heart and with a tenderness towards me that has deepened my love for him in ways I never knew possible. I know he has been stressed and tired, but he has tirelessly loved our kids and me and seen very little in return.
On top of that, several friends either brought over meals or came on at least 2 occassions to help clean house. The blessing of friends is huge! Both Luke and I are forever grateful.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Never say never

Several of you have asked how the school year is going so far with Precious Jewel now that we have brought her home. I thought I'd give a little update.
When we went into this endevour, I was terrified. I was terrified of it ending like the last time when I felt like a complete failure at the end of her kindergarten year at home and put her and Mr. Smiles into school the next year. I was afraid of the intense emotions that I had experienced last time with feeling like I had to meet every requirement and need. I was afraid of her losing the new friends that she had finally made in the last couple of years. She had been so lonely the first year of Public School because all her pre-school/Kindergarten friends were homeschoolers and she never saw them anymore. She constantly asked to see them and I had no answers for her. I was afraid we would repeat that and that the homeschool group would already have their friends and she would spend another year alone.
See? Fear. Fear is my biggest obsticle to anything. Fear of failure. Rejection. Getting it Wrong. Ruining my Children.
Fear is what God has been hammering away at in my heart in the last 3 years since we started in Public School. I have learned (in a very short synopsis) that the only thing I need to fear is what God thinks of me and to throw out what the world thinks (a very tall order for an ENFP person). I really haven't arrived yet, but I am not so crippled as before. God has shown me that no matter what others think (and there is always someone who is not going to like me) my husband and I are our children's parents and we are the ones who will have to answer to God for what we do with them. He is the one I need to please and not others opinions.
We struggled for over a year on whether to bring her home. She wasn't very happy. We were losing our connectedness with her and beginning to see her trying to separate herself from us in order to fit in with the ever-changing rules of the girl world--an impossible achievement. On any given day she could be dubbed as the "cool girl" or find her name being passed around in the "dumb girls" list. She would be "let in the circle" on the playground one day and then chased away another. My heart broke for her.
Her values in life were beginning to change and not for the better. Here she was...only 3rd grade and asking me if she was fat, did she need to lose weight, why was her nose so big, why was she so much taller than everyone else, why she couldn't throw out her dolls so that no one would make fun of her, why couldn't she wear the slutty looking clothes (that's what I called them) if that was what would help her fit in. We were seeing our sweet daughter totally demoralized before our eyes. Gone was our confident sweet girl and she was increasingly being replaced by a sullen, tearful, angry and belligerent girl....in 3rd Grade!
After the Eye Doctor told us that he thought the root of her eye issues were stress, we decided to take the leap and pull her out.
How has this year gone? Well, the first couple of weeks were difficult at best. She was obsessed with what they might be doing in school at this time or at that time. She complained at the work I was having her do at home. (She is very bright). She was begging to see her friends (on an almost hourly basis). Then things began to settle down a little more and we began to get into a groove.
I also tried keeping her extremely busy. We went to other people's houses....during the day; where, even though all my friends have kids at least 2 year younger than her, she got to play and just be a kid...something I think she'd forgotten how to play when trying so desperately to fit in.
We've done schoolwork in the park, on the hay bales (when baby is napping), on the swing set so we can swing little brother. We've done a lot of reading aloud and Science projects with her brothers when they've come home from school. This has given them all a chance to be a part of each other's days since they are in school. She's helping them with their homework at the end of the day.
The clincher for her being happy at home though was the Secret Keeper Girl Conference we went to at the beginning of the year. At that conference I got to see on her level the struggles she has wrestled with so intensely the past 2 years. We cried, we laughed, we got angry together at what the world was telling her what she should be when it was in direct contradiction with what the Bible says and what we have taught her. She seemed for the first time to be able to breath and put a finger on what was making her so angry and unhappy. It was then that I also became determined to start a Bible Study with other mothers to encourage her in who she was and that she is perfect the way God has created her. She doesn't need to try and change herself to "fit in."
We are still trying to find friends in the homeschool group. I am afraid that friendships are always going to be difficult for her. She has become so shy when she is around others girls. As her mother, I want other girls to like her, but I am also learning that this year, this season, our friendship as mother and daughter are being deepened. She is coming to me more and more with questions and becoming more and more bold in what she thinks. She is learning to re-connect with her brothers and I've seen hers and her daddy's relationship deepen. She is also more content on the days "we just stay home to school."
Our whole goal with bringing her home is to give her a year of rest. We will re-evaluate when the year is over and see what comes next. I am now much more open than I have been in several years to keeping her home if that is what we feel best. I am learning to never say never because that is exactly where God might lead you and it has been a wonderful things.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Surprise! Surprise!!

They hatched! The Guinea Babies hatched sometime today while we were at the 3 soccer games plus a Health Fair. (For those that don't know and because I've said nothing via blog, we have a Guinea Hen who has been nesting for 3 weeks now. We have no idea if we own a male (apparently we do) and we've just been waiting to see what she would do. She smartly built her nest in my squash patch in the garden where the dogs and goats can't get to her).
I told Luke just before dinner that I wanted to make sure the momma and her nest were covered properly before the storm hit. I honestly wanted to see if we could simply move her and her nest because there is hail and isolated tornadoes predicted. She is extremely wild, so the moving her was slim at best, but I wanted to try. When I got out there, 6 of the 7 eggs had hatched!! These tiny little balls of fluff were peeping madly and darted into the tall grass when we bumped her off the nest. I shrieked in surprise and yelled for Luke. We were able to easily scoop them up and the little nest she had built (I think because they were so little) and Luke brought over the nesting box we were borrowing from a friend for a different hen. (Who, by the way, had not hatched her eggs due to her nest being raided by our stupid Lab pup).
We tried for over half an hour to get her to go into the box. Her little babies were peeping at her from inside and she kept circling around and around the box. Finally, one too many lightning flashes later, we headed for the house with me praying all the way that at least they would stay in the box in the downpour that was about to commence.
After the crazy amount of rain and lightning stopped, I begged Luke to look at the radar to see if the storm was past enough for me to go out and check and see if they were still alive. The radar showed that another, much larger, front was on it's way but that we had a short lull before it was to hit. I ran outside. The now soaked mother was still running in circles around the nesting box and all 6 of her babies were peeping at her (dry) from inside. I hollered for Luke and we just scooped the whole box out of the garden and hauled them to the garage. I feel bad for the momma hen. She is frantic. But everything I have read says that mother Guinea Hens are not very successful at raising young. Mainly because their nests are out in the open in the elements and babies often drown when it rains. They are now tucked neatly in the same nesting box in the garage with a heat lamp and I am going to google how to care for Guinea babies. Any suggestions?

                                         Good Lookin' has a little friend spending the night who
                                         was excited to be part of the discovery.
                                         Captian America excitedly holding the chick.
                                                    Where's momma?!?!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Soccer Season

I've been staring at this screen for some time now. I sit down. Get up. Walk away and then come back. Something about having a bazillion pictures that my lens has captured and yet having no coherent words by which to pen down a single word, leaves the blog page empty.
In reality, I am just really really tired.
This past month has been all things soccer. All 4 kids said they wanted to play and we insanely said yes. Whoever said 4 kids in soccer would be a good idea? But at the same time, it has been a ton of fun. All 4 kids have learned and accomplished so much.

Nater Mater's idea of Iddy Biddy Soccer has been the most entertaining. Thank goodness it is only Saturdays or I think I may have been more tempted to let him quit. Most of their games and practice time overlap and it can get tricky trying to keep track of practice times and game schedules and who is on what field, but it has been great watching them learn something new.

The child's idea of soccer has been more about rolling around in the grass in refusal of kicking the ball or outright running off the field when his coach tells him to do something. Fortunately, many of the other parents of the 3 and 4 year olds are also seen coaxing their little ones back onto the field.
He did run happily for the end of the month trophy though!

Mr. Smiles has done awesome for someone who said he hasn't wanted to play the last 2 years.
                                          (He's the kid holding his hands up against the sun)
His coach's main goal for him: Aggression. Go figure. He is the same child we had to tell, "hit him back!" when his little brother continued to blindside him with matchbox cars. It took several months, but after just a couple of good whacks back, his brother quit hitting him. Whenever did I think that teaching aggression would be a good thing?!

Then there is Good Lookin.' Aggression is NOT his problem. We still have to discipline him to not hit, grab and run or sideswipe someone. I would have thought that this would aggression would have carried over to the soccer field, but no. I actually offered to pay him a quarter every time he kicked the ball in his last game. Once that was out on the table, he actually stopped running alongside the ball and the opposing teammate and tried to kick it away from him. He earned a whopping 50 cents for that game! The joys of a soccer mom.

Then there is Precious Jewel. She had eye surgery again this past week. She is so in love with soccer that even though she has never played before  (before the numbing shot wore off) she wanted to go see the rest of her game that she was missing for the surgery. I took her home and put ice packs on her face instead and by then, she was grateful I had ignored her pleas.

She is one I was most surprised at wanting to play soccer this Fall. She's never expressed much interest before, but said this summer she wanted to play. She has thrown her whole heart into it and isn't too bad for never having played. Most of the other girls have already been playing for 3-5 years. We've been proud of her. She has asked for extra practice and coaching to improve and be a better help for her team. She has always loved running and it seems a good fit for her.

I have tons more I want to write but for now I'm heading to bed. It's been a crazy 2 weeks with an eye surgery, 1 boy sick and then I got sick this past week and haven't fully recovered. I've been falling asleep with the kids by 8 or 8:30 the last several nights, but tonight I begged Luke to wake me up so I could get some stuff that I needed done around the house...laundry, dishes, mail, blogging...I pretty much just did mail and blogging. The rest can wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A New Normal...for a while anyway

If there is one thing I have learned about "Normal," it is that there is no such thing as normal.
Just as I get life figured out (I think) with baby number 1, we find out baby number 2 is on the way.

Then, when I have a somewhat handle of babies 1 and 2 a full year after baby number 2 has turned the age of 1, I find out that baby number 3 is on the way. Throw in a move and 2 job changes and new State and I'm rockin' and a realin' trying to find my bearings. I had just completed college and had not been prepared for the "smack in the face" of life.

I'm a routine kind of girl. I like routine. I don't mind messing with my routine, but I need a heads up. I'm guessing that is where baby number 3 got it from. School has been an interesting adjustment for him. We held Good Lookin' back a full year knowing that emotionally he needed another year under his skinny little belt before we started him onto a "new normal." This is my child who didn't go to childcare for my mom's group until he was almost 5. This is my child who when he was the ripe old age of 3 we were told by his pre-K that "he might fit in better somewhere else" because he has screamed for weeks to "go home!" It takes him a looooooooong time to adjust to anything new and if it's not consistent with the same people every time; well, you might as well forget all about it. We decided the teacher might benefit from him waiting another year as well. The first month has been HARD with all CAPS included! The kid has hated school.

Let me just say that this "new normal" for him was hard for me to emotionally grasp....only because I also was, and am somewhat still, feeling overwhelmed with the "new normal" of homeschooling his older sister as well. I feel like I'm wading into new territorial waters of both homeschooling and the pre-teen years that seem to have snuck up on me. The emotional energy at the end of my day is a big fat 0.

But, back to Good Lookin.' After numerous phone calls with the school counselor and some plans put in place where he can have some grasp of routine in his new 300 plus child kindergarten, we are finally, as of yesterday, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

It has been 4 weeks since school started and this is the FIRST day he has said that he "likes" school. He came upstairs with his backpack already on and declared that he was ready to go. It was 6:30am! I had to make him sit down for breakfast or he would have walked on out to the car! Yeah!

I've prayed a lot in the last several weeks. There is nothing more heart-tugging than your child crying, pleading to stay home with you and then point out that his older sister "got to quit school!" How do I explain that she IS STILL doing school and that right now he is exactly where he needs to be. We've prayed together. We've rocked. We've hugged. I've cried with him and yet told him he still needs to go. I think of the times when I have begged and pleaded with God for something to change in my life that I so desperately wanteded to turn out differently, but I think I am that same stubborn the child in His lap. He has been telling me that He has me exactly where I need to be even if I don't see a reason or purpose or where He is leading me.

The "New Normal" will change for all of us. I have to learn and I need to help my children learn to TRUST that God is not going to drop us, fail us, forget us or even purposefully pull the rug out from under us just for "sport."

He's got me exactly where He wants me and I can trust in that.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Blessings

Blessing One:
Family Reunion:
Growing up in a family of educators, a child cannot help but learn to see books as a best friend. When all else fails, my Bible and my books stay the same.
Every family get-together; since my earliest memories, my mother and aunts would call us 17 grandchildren together and we ALL would listen to my Grandpa read a short story out of one of his Patrick McManus books. I LOVED this time.
Now Great-Grandchildren are gathering around and laughing together at the antics of the author and his best friend Eddie Muldoon. Even the youngest members toddle in and out of the amassing generations and participate in this tradition.
One day, my Grandpa will be gone and I pray this is a memory that my children will treasure.

Blessing Two: Breath
Dear little Good Lookin' had a rough last month of the summer.
Numerous visits to the Dr. and finally a medication that worked. The simple art of taking a full breath has been a blessing for his younger brother that we don't take for granted, but Good Lookin' got his first chance to stand in his little brother shoes and appreciate what a blessing it is to breath without gasping for air.
The drought and dust this summer was the root cause and the rain that we are finally getting has allowed us to back almost totally off his medication.
Blessing Three:
Fresh Fruit and Friends who share:
A couple of weeks ago a friend who is also passionate about feeding her children healthy and preservative-free food called and said they had been given access to an apple tree and invited us to come pick with them.
The whole process was not just yummy; it was also fun!!
We canned 27 quarts of applesauce and made 7 gallons of apple juice in one day. I also took home a crate of apples to dry thinking we'd "squirrel that away for winter. ( My kids loved it and now we only have one zip-lock bag left).
Blessing Four:
County Fair
The weekend before the Fair, Good Lookin' was emphatic that he was NOT going to participate. He HATED his goat. (It is a little crazy and stubborn, but Luke and I joke that she's just like her little master). We told him that he had to do it this year and if he still didn't like it then he didn't have to do it again next year.
He loved it and was upset that the Show only last one morning.
Precious Jewel got Best of Show for the 4-H Division and Best of Show for the Open Division.
We are such novices that we had no idea what Open Division meant until we were told that it means anyone can enter an animal and show it and compete.   
She beat out everyone and got the coveted Rainbow Ribbon and Banner.

County Fair time is that one time of year (aside from Christmas) that when the sun goes down my kids aren't afraid of the dark. The sky lights up. The bands play. The sellers hawk their rides and games on the Midway.  
Magic Shows up in the form of a painted dragon riding in circles to the tune of organ music and a lit up Ferris Wheel.
Blessing Five:
First Day of School
Precious Jewel is entering 4th Grade and we are embarking on the new journey of homeschooling.
Mr. Smiles in entering 3rd Grade and is privileged to sit under another male teacher this year.
Good Lookin' finally gets to start Kindergarten.
Nater Mater is begging for Preschool but I want to wait one more year because it means full-time every day and mommy is just not ready for that yet.  
Blessing Six:
Another mom from our church alerted me to the Secret Keeper Girl Pajama Party Conference that was being held near our small town one evening.
Let me just say it was a precious time for my Precious Jewel and I to show up at a church dressed in pajamas for an evening of fun and encouragement. She and I are both excited to start our Mother/Daughter dates when the boys start Boy Scouts.
I came away feeling so encouraged by the Conference. Life throws way too much at these precious young lives and this generation of little girl's are being stolen away. Secret Keeper Girl's in an incredible resource for families to keep their daughter's hearts on a path to loving Jesus.
Blessing Seven:
Nathaniel's 4th Birthday
 A sweet little boy turned 4 this last week of August. My sweet precious, snugly, rambunctious baby boy has turned into a pre-schooler before our very eyes. We measured him and from this time last year, he has grown 4 inches! Crazy Birthday Boy. No wonder he's begun sharing his brother's clothes!
Love you Nater Mater!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Nathaniel!!

Happy 4th Birthday Nathaniel!!
A Year In Pictures:
September 2011:
It is much more fun to play with Fall decorations that to decorate with them.

You know a little boy needs a haircut when you can put his hair in pigtails.
October 2011:
Smore's night. Hmmm....hmmmm good!!
Finally old enough to help carve pumpkins!

The ever-present goofy grin when I ask him to smile for the camera.
November 2011:
Tonsil surgery so he can breath better.
A warm Thanksgiving Day
December 2011: 
Cuteness in corduroy makes the frowny face in the Christmas program that much cuter.
 We are understanding presents and Christmas really for the first time.

January 2012:
First day of pre-school. He is so excited to be a "big boy" and go to school with big brother!

The one and only very wet snow. We made a snowman quick enough that when the snow turned to rain, the snowman at least stood for a few more hours.
The "cold winter days" weren't so cold this year.
Much of the time was spent playing outside and this day it was using sticks as belts because, well, little boys can!

Hanging out with brothers and friends.
March 2012:
 The fun of Mother/Son Bowling lasted about .5 seconds.

After that, it was all about keeping track of every one's scores....or erasing them.

More crazy "smile for the camera!"
April 2012:
This really is a year of "firsts." First remembering what a holiday is about.
I thought it would be fun to see just how much he likes this pose!!
May 2012: 
He is on the far left crying, "take it off!"
He didn't want to wear the "dress."
His brother on the other hand, is fully enjoying the limelight.
First day of Summer Vacation we declared "Crazy Hair Day!"
June 2012:
Little buddies philosophizing about blueberries....or something like that.

First ever rodeo.
Note the extreme excitement on his brother's face behind him and the concern on his.

He has NO FEAR of the water!!

 July 2012:
This is the first year he didn't totally flip out at the 4th of July fireworks.
It has been holding ears, covering eyes and crying.
This year is was holding ears, yelling "ahhhh!!! look mommy look!"
"Helping" momma' put down new floors.
Can I say that I'm still seeing the chiropractor? 

First ever Olympics. He got pretty excited.
August 2012:
Yes, I love to smile for the camera!

He's in my face and snugly whether I like it or not.
Most days, I LOVE it!

 Hanging with Uncle Matthew because he's just so cool!

County Fair days get really really really long.

But the unlimited access to all the big equipment, is well worth the lack of sleep.

Best place in the Fair Grounds to chill for a few.

Grandfather's Love: getting into a Ferris Wheel with 3 little grand kids and the attendant saying, "oh, I'm not so sure you aren't above the weight limit on this" and still going on the ride.

Another Fair Plus: unlimited access to the petting zoo for 5 days straight.
They were sleeping on his shoulders after he stopped shaking them to "rescue" the grasshoppers that had hopped into their tire.

First Day of School: 4th Grade, Third Grade, Kindergarten and (next year) Pre-School.
(since my camera was a little off-light).

Our sweet little guy: You bring joy, adventure, tears and laughter to our lives every day. We are so thankful God has blessed our lives by giving us you!