Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Updates



  • Potty training is going pretty well, but it's still a work in progress.

  • Christmas was really wonderful - but I'm ready to get the tree down and the house cleaned up and ready for regular life.

  • Hubby and I have been working on renewing our marriage in many, many ways - and though it takes a lot of work to change old, bad habits, I can already see the fruits of those labors and feel so blessed to see such a beautiful new relationship taking shape. And for the first time since having kids (almost 8 years) we made it a priority to go away overnight together - just the two of us. It's not something we'll do often, but going to bed and waking up in the morning with no one else's needs to meet but each other's was a beautiful gift. It's amazing to think that every single morning for the vast majority of our married life we've woken up and almost instantly met the needs of our kids. It was just lovely to have a little bit of a honeymoon after all these years. ;o)

  • I'm 34 weeks along now - I've always given birth within a week of my due date so I'd imagine that we'll have our newest little addition in 5-7 weeks. It's funny how much shorter that looks when you think of it in terms of how many weekends you have left to get anything done. 5 weekends left that I can pretty much count on to get anything done that I want to do before we become a family of seven. That means all projects, all family gatherings, any special date time, family activities we might want to do before Baby comes... only 5 weekends left to accomplish them all. 10 days, people. 10 weekend days. I was shocked when I thought about it like that.

  • I threw my back out for the first time ever as a largely pregnant lady. No fun - but boy do I appreciate how small and inconsequential the normal aches and pains of life feel after not being able to move for a good week!

  • Birthdays are fast approaching... Finny will be 6 on January 11th, Jelly Bean is due to be born around February 8th, and Punky will be 8 on February 18th. Fun, busy times we have around here in the winter months!

  • I'm dropping the unit study approach for schooling and trying out a more subject-specific style. We'll see how that goes. On the agenda for 2010: set times for weekly history and science lessons. That's a first for us - I hope we can find the perfect slot for it and that everyone enjoys it. We'll be using Story of the World for history and we'll be doing some fun lower elementary level study of the human body at least for the first couple of months of the year.

  • We're still doing occupational Therapy for Finny for his Sensory Processing Disorder, but we're looking into other areas to help him - currently focused in the area of helping him learn better how to self regulate. He definitely needs some sensory help, but there seems to be more to it than that... more on that when I know more that I can share. ;o)
  • Punky is an AMAZING young man. I am just in awe of all that I see coming out in the character of that boy. He's so very big, and so very little at the same time. I just feel so blessed to be his Momma. Oh - and boy, I had no idea how much an almost 8 year old could read when enjoying a good book. He's hit that point of just loving the book he's into, and he's devouring 3-400 page books these days (in less than two weeks' time). This from the boy who 2 short years ago would be in tears after 5 minutes of struggling through Dick and Jane stories. Thank you Lord for Vision Therapy and for healing my boy's vision. It's so easy to forget how hard that was for him!
  • Finny is doing really well in so many areas. He's sweet, funny, shockingly bright and so thoughtful in so many ways. When he's really focused and feeling good, he's so very sweet, especially with the younger two that I am melted each time I see him voluntarily offer up a toy to share or run Girly Pie to the potty just because he wants to help her. What a wonderful boy he is. And worth of note - he's doing really well with all his school stuff. He just seems to love to learn, and feel so very proud of his accomplishments.

  • 3 1/2 year old boys are so much funnier, sweeter and more enjoyable when they are your third rather than your first. How on earth did I manage to lay so much responsibility on Punky at this age? Goose is just delightful and adorable and LITTLE feeling. Punky seemed HUGE at this age. Sigh. Point here is - Goose is great and wonderful and we all think he's the funniest thing ever. Never a dull moment if that boy's around to add a comment to the topic.

  • 1 1/2 year old girls are completely intoxicating. I had no idea. That little Girly Pie can melt our hearts a dozen times a day. Why didn't anyone tell me how sweet it is to have a little girl wrap her arms tightly around my neck and say "Wuv you" followed by sweet little puckered lips coming in for a kiss? I remember so many sweet things from the boys at this age too - but there is most definitely a new and different sweetness with her. Not better, just different, if that makes sense.

  • I'm still trying to find the perfect schedule. I KNOW we need one. I still just haven't perfected it. And with Baby coming in a month and a half, I doubt perfection will find me anytime soon...

  • I'm cutting back on computer time in general - I need to focus more on things like loving on my husband, meeting the needs of my 7, 5, 3 and 1 year olds, school planning, baby preparation, home making... all that jazz.

  • I have fallen woefully short on my efforts to make daily time to read the Bible and have quiet time with the Lord. I hope to remedy that ASAP.

  • I am very much looking forward to the coming weeks as we let go of the holiday hustle & bustle and welcome in the New Year - complete with new schooling goals, new OT goals, new schedules - even a new baby! ;o) So much NEW this year, apparently.

  • Though we are just now heading into the thick of winter (which is fine by me, I'm ready to cocoon!) I spent a few minutes on a cold, sunny day yesterday with Finny running around a baseball field and got just that little, tiny taste of spring. I can't quite explain it, but I was so overcome with the thrill of all that comes with each new season. I just love how God allows for so much change every year, and so many blessings with each new thing.

  • Pregnancy is going great (now that my back is better!) and I am really enjoying it. I've been healthy and gaining weight well at all my appointments (a great thing for me!). I've just ordered the homebirth kit, and we're looking forward to another birth at home. I'm prayerful that God will bless us again with a smooth, safe delivery.

  • This little one moves plenty but is pretty gentle and soft in his or her wiggles. Still no major feeling one way or the other on gender. What I tell people who ask is that I FEEL like it's a girl, but I THINK it's a boy. ;o) I'm just getting so excited to meet him or her for the first time, either way.

  • No names picked out yet either.

  • Life is good. Not perfect, no. But oh so good. I feel so blessed in each day, even when I feel like I'm failing at something (or everything!). And today, even though I can see where I am falling short, I still feel such hope and joy for all that is, and for all that is on the horizon. Things get busy, I get tired, plans rarely go as I intend them to. But I'm right where I need to be, God is there with me holding my hand through each step, and He's blessed me into a family who loves, needs and cherishes me. Can't ask for much more than that.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Potty Training, round 4

Well, we've been toying with the potty for Miss Girly Pie since she was still a crawler, jsut getting her used to it and hoping for ease when the real potty training stage hit in earnest. She has had decent luck over the months, and as I have yet to do two in diapers my hope was to have her in undies before the new baby arrives in early February and keep the streak.

I had planned to wait to give up the diaps and go to underwear sometime this month, when she was 19 months old. That's about how old all my boys were when we started and with varying degrees of ease, all three of them were accident free before or around their 2nd birthday.

Punky was dry and clean and officially a pottier 19 1/2 months after only two weeks of training. Finny was also 19+ months when we started with him, and though he got #2 down on day one, but wet his pants constantly for months. He was the longest, and wasn't what I considered reliably potty trained until a month or two after his 2nd birthday. Goose was a little later at starting, about 20 months old. He got the pee thing down pretty well in a month or two, regressed a bit when Girly Pie was born at 22 months, and then was good again after a little refresher course. He has struggled with some withholding issues since then, and to this day is very sensitive to his routing getting thrown off, but I think that one is more of a personality thing and a training issue.

So when Girly Pie started peeing regularly on the potty at 16, 17 months old, I figured it was good practice, and well within the norm for my kiddos. I kept her in diapers, as I had no interest in actually going through with all the many changes and accommodations one makes with a new potty trainer. Honestly, I kept pushing back my intended start date, figuring she'd be that much more ready the longer I waited. But when your 17 1/2 month old daughter is keeping her diaper dry through the morning at home AND through church, only to pee in the church potty - well, I guess I felt like she was ready even if I wasn't.

So at the earliest age yet, we pulled diapers at just over 18 months old for Girly Pie. We've been at it about 3 weeks now, and just as I suspected it's at frustrating and wet as ever. Just like with all the boys I have considered that she really was too young and I should just put her back in diapers and wait until she's older. Really, some days I wonder just how many underwear and pants one girl can go through. But, there are plenty of days when she'll stay dry all day and tell me every time before she needs to go. So I know she can do it. She's just doing it when she feels like it. And from what I've heard about most people who wait until the 2 1/2 to 3 year old range to start potty training, I guess I don't feel confident that she'd do it any differently if we had waited or if we give up now and start again in a couple of months. I know she can do it, and I know that it's no big deal washing a load of wet undies every night instead of cloth diapers. Really, it's been three weeks. She's just barely 19 months old. It's not like she's doing anything wrong! ;o) I just have to remember not to assume that my timetables work for my toddler.

So we'll keep at it for a while longer. I really do think she'll be great in a couple of weeks. She does great when we go out, rarely having accidents on the road. She enjoys the time reading books and loves to go in with her brothers to join in little community potty sessions. I have until February before I feel any real time crunch, so until then I really can spare the time and energy to hang in the bathroom with my girl.

But - I post all this really more as an excuse... in case anyone was wondering where I have been for the past few weeks, and where I will continue to be for the next few... I'm in the bathroom. Again. ;o)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Too funny

The other day I heard Punky and Finny playing upstairs in some very boyish fighting type game involving Legos, Transformers, Playmobil guys, or most likely a combination of the three. I'm not at all sure what the real context was of the conversation I overheard between Punky's "guy" and one of Finny's "guys," but I did catch this little snippet that made me laugh out loud:

Punky (in his very cute false baritone "manly" voice with a bit of an old fashioned but not quite British accent thrown in for good measure): "I swear, I shall not be defeated!"
(short pause...)
Punky again, still in the same accented baritone manly voice: "Then again, I do not swear."

Ahhh. The joys of raising good little Christian soldiers. They'll beat the snot out of the bad guys, no doubt. But heaven forbid they swear. That, apparently, is where the line must be drawn. ;o)

Friday, December 4, 2009

My day

Today I have:

  • showered
  • made 5 beds (usually my boys make their own but it was an act of love on my part this morning)
  • served breakfast to my family
  • done several therapy activity sessions with Finny
  • spent no less than 40 minutes in the bathroom with Girly Pie
  • spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom (again!) reading stories to Goose for some, uh, quality (stinky) time
  • washed two loads of laundry
  • changed no fewer than 6 pairs of wet undies and pants
  • overseen Punky's first efforts at typing a letter on the computer, to a missionary for his Awana work (how cute is it when you see the word "question" spelled "kwesthin" - even if it does mean a life of spelling trouble ahead for my boy!?)
  • cut up and served 3 apples and a pear
  • prepared and served lunch to the crew
  • read a daily devotional with the boys
  • done a quick pop-quiz style math drill at the lunch table with the boys, who were both very impressive in their skills
  • presented my precious Finny with his very own real Bible
  • read to Finny from said real Bible
  • played TONS with Girly Pie
  • cleaned two raw eggs up off of the kitchen floor (such a gross job!)
  • tucked one little girl in for nap
  • settled three sweet boys down for rest
  • done Jesse Tree ornaments and readings with my three boys
  • eaten food myself three times already today (if you know me IRL you know that's an accomplishment for me!)
  • looked through old photos of myself and my Hubby with the kids
  • done math with Finny
  • been blindfolded by Finny and led by his sweet hand in mine (Punky later took my other hand to assure that his mother would make the trip unscathed) up the stairs to my room, where I found the gift of a stuffed animal and a picture drawn, just for me
  • disciplined three little boys for their complete lack of obedience
  • laughed inside at the sweet sight of all three of my sons squeezed in, sitting cheek to cheek on the bottom step for a triple time-out, looking up at me with their best "I'm in for it now" faces - all so different, yet all so similar
  • watched as all three boys did a complete 180 and became the best listening, most obedient children ever
  • praised the Lord for His immense blessings
  • begged the Lord for just a little more patience and some guidance
  • thanked the Lord for my husband and the recent renewal of our relationship
  • cleaned up way too many toys

Still in the plans for the day:

  • get dough going for Pizza Night
  • decorate our Christmas tree with the kids
  • make Fruit Loop garland for said tree
  • make homemade pizzas for dinner
  • eat said pizza with my family as we enjoy our weekly Friday Night Pizza and Movie night together
  • go for an after dinner walk in the brisk cold of the dark evening air with my Man and our children so we can all enjoy the sites of the Christmas lights brightening up our neighborhood
  • tuck a few kids into their warm beds for a night of sweet sleep
  • enjoy my husband as we sit back after the long, full, blessed day and just bask in the glow of the life we are so blessed to lead.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Do I Know of Holy?


I heard this song tonight and I was left speechless by the truth I found in it. I felt convicted, comforted, helpless and encouraged all at the same time.

What Do I Know of Holy by Addison Road

I wish I knew how to make a fancy direct link to the YouTube video with the preview pane in my post, but I am pretty sure if you click the link above it will still work.



And here are the lyrics (emphasis mine)... powerful stuff to me tonight.



What Do I Know of Holy?


by Addison Road


I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?


What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?
I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life it's name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?
What, indeed, do I really know of Holy? Of Yahweh who created everything from the oceans to the stars to web weaving spiders and light and color and the human eyeball? What indeed do I know of Him?

Some days I think maybe I act like I have it all figured out. Yes, I know God will still mold and shape me. But I know Him. I have found Him. I know the Truth. So I'm good, right? We're good buds, God and me.


But what, really, do I know of Him?

Tonight I am left wondering that...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not just baby talk...

Two new words were uttered by my sweet Girly Pie today. For some reason, today seem to be the day that she officially decided to move past single syllable (up, milk, no) or repeating sound (mama, buh-buh (brother), nigh-nigh) words and open up to the wide world of multi-syllabic speech.
So in addition to rambling all day long in a multitude of completely unintelligible, yet stunningly adorable strings, Girly Pie did say two very distinct words which I found quite impressive for a girl of 18 months.

First, while reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to her during some potty time sitting, she repeated enough times for me to be sure it was a word and not a ramble: "bahlluh-billah." Get it? Caterpillar! She's a genius, I know.

And as if that wasn't impressive enough, she later brought me a jar from the pantry (one of her favorite past times in the kitchen) and proudly, and repeatedly, proclaimed, "billah-budduh." Surely you don't need a translation for such a straight forward word. But just in case... it was a jar of peanut butter.
So yes I am laughing at myself in one way, because clearly this is just a proud mommy-moment and no one else in the entire world would have a clue that those were words and not just baby babble.

But those are four syllable words, people! Two of them, in ONE DAY! I was very impressed, and quite proud. She has said them both multiple times today and when you point to the caterpillar or the peanut butter and ask her what they are she will repeat the same rhythm and sounds. And to the trained ear, they are clearly the intended words.

She really is at such a darling age. And today, in addition to her two amazing new words, she really has been babbling up a storm more than I have ever seen her do. It's just the cutest thing ever!

Happy House in the Wet Woods

We haven't read a good, captivating read-aloud in a while, and I forgot how much they ignite the fires of my boys' imagination.

It's been so refreshing to watch them plan out game ideas and plot lines together today as we begin re-reading Little House in the Big Woods (for the zillionth time, no doubt). But instead of JUST reading it this time, we're officially calling it school and reading it alongside some great unit study materials and a plethora of Little House craft, recipe and history books. Today Punky and Finny decided that Laura and Mary each have a brother slightly older than themselves (which coincidentally lands these new-found brothers right at my boys' ages!) and Punky and Finny have both immersed themselves as strapping young men in the Woods of Wisconsin in the 1860's. I know they love these stories. They always have. They listen to them on CD in their room constantly. But to read them all together, them hearing my voice, their hands busy with lincoln log Little House replicas and their attention and imagination set on the same story... it's just so full of joy and homeyness and loveliness that our house is nearly bursting. We've already had several fascinating conversations and have looked just that little bit deeper into that time period than ever before when just reading it for fun. The big boys are both tuning their ears for our vocabulary words and are so thrilled to be the one to hear one read aloud.

I now have the inspiration I needed to plot out a few fun new recipes (already johnnycake has been requested - though I know at least I will hate it!) and crafts and really pack the coming few weeks with great information, activities and games.

School has been going fine for the year so far. Great, really. But I feel so renewed and inspired today as I watch the reaction of my children to something that just rings true and exciting in their worlds today. We've been doing all the basics, and having some fun with some very science based unit studies. But now I think the fun is really about to begin for a while.

Little House through Thanksgiving, and then on to Advent and all that comes with that time for our family. For me, this is the season that makes up the majority of the good "schoolish" memories and feelings.

And I am just SO happy to be here RIGHT NOW!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Perspective

My hubby and I slept in this morning. Together. Both of us. Without getting out of bed until seven. SEVEN. And it was heavenly.

I wonder if my 20 year old self would have believed my thirty year old self if I could have told her that sleeping in until seven would someday feel like a glorious gift.

I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Overheard today:

Now, I know it's not the best song in the world, but I loved it as a kid and I turned out fine. So the fact that all three of my boys love it is not shocking. And despite the fact that some of the content is less than appropriate... well, it's just a good song. So I let them hear it and sing it.

So today at our late morning snack time, all three of my boys started spontaneously singing American Pie by Don McLean - all together. They only know the main chorus and one or two of the other parts. But still, how cute is that? So there is Punky, leading the crew in his totally off key and carefree and LOUD voice. Goose is just chanting the main words he knows from the chorus. He's totally on key and on rhythm. Finny is pretty good himself. They are having a wonderful brother moment as Girly Pie looks on in her adoring way.

So, not wanting to miss the chance I whip out the digital camera and flip it to video to record the happy moment. Of course as I start recording the perfect harmony starts to dwindle as kids drop off and actually start eating, but I still catch some of the sweetness.

And just as they end a chorus, everyone has one of those odd moments of complete silence. I was getting ready to click off the record button when I heard Finny begin to make a comment. Not wanting to rudely cut him off, I decided to keep recording until after he finished his thought. I am so glad I did:

All together:
Bye bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry.
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye,
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die,
this'll be the day that I die..."
Silence from all. Then...
Finny:
"Well, yeah, cuz' they were drinkin' ALCOHOL!!!"
And then of course you hear my snickering on the camera. How can you not laugh!?
Yes, Finny my boy. It's always you that says something so deep and hilarious in those random quiet moments.

Friday, October 30, 2009

24 1/2 weeks

That's me as of late last week. ;o)

Just what I needed to hear today...

Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, "
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For 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.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When I awake, I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!

Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?

I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.



How can I read that and ever worry that I will not be cared for, or caught when I fall? How can I fear that I am doing everything wrong or not good enough or not doing as well as I see others doing? How can I worry that I am not enough, when God - Yahweh the creator of everything - made me, ME. He didn't make a mold of billions of people and slap us all here on earth to be automated robots, going about our business doing our best to be identical to one another. He made ME, just exactly how He knew He wanted me to be.

So how then can I fear that I am not as good as others? That seems to me as though it would be flying in the face of the Creator - doubting His wisdom in making me just so.

I realize this is one of those overused Bible passages that I suspect most every Christian knows of. But cliche though it may be, it deserves a second glance. It deserves a deep and thorough reading (or two, or three, or twelve!). I can't say I was in a bad place today - but I was most definitely in need of the reminders He gave me through His word in this psalm today.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Profiles of Jelly Bean

It feels weird always calling the baby just plain Baby. So since I've thought of this little cutie pie as Jelly Bean for so long, I figured I'd just call him or her that here, at least until I have a real life nick name I'm using and can start writing about.

So... here are the ultrasound pics of my little Jelly Bean. The ultrasound was very fun, and we did manage to get out without glimpsing any revealing poses that might give away the big surprise. There was a lot of kicking, quite a bit of thumb (or finger?) sucking, and even an on screen eye blink, which was pretty neat to see.

Isn't that a cute profile? Look at that sweet nose.

Jelly Bean is sucking away on that finger or thumb here.

Look at those lips!
At 24 1/2 weeks, I was amazed at how much chub we could already see on the little guy! The tech said Jelly Beab already weighs a pound and a half according to their measurements. That just seems so much heavier than I'd expect this soon!


Just love those profile shots. Plus none of the front view shots turned out very well. But it was cute to see his or her face on screen. Lots of little expressions already!

So there you go. Our baby's big photo debut on blogger! I think he or she is pretty cute already. And it made me even more excited to hold him or her in my arms in a few months!
And just as a side note, I had a fantastic time going out with just my husband to watch the ultrasound and then to enjoy lunch alone together at a little cafe. It was like a real date, and it was lovely. I think we might need to sneak a few more of those in if we can in the next few months!



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Picture Day

Well tomorrow is the day.

I know it is such a silly little thing in the big scheme of life. But I love going in for the 20+/- week ultrasound. This one is at 24 1/2 weeks for this baby, so we're likely to see some very cute little profile shots with a few thumb sucks and the like. We're not even finding out the sex, so it's not like there's some big moment that will happen.

But tomorrow morning my hubby and I will head out the door - together and without any children in tow - to see moving pictures of our newest little one, at an age where there will be so much to see and admire.

And I am just so stinking excited! So excited that I actually do feel silly.

Oh well. Not too often I really get to feel silly anymore. I guess I'll just enjoy that too! ;o)

Picture Day

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pregnancy Update

So - I realize that I'm more than half way through this pregnancy, and I hardly ever mention my pregnancy or the baby on this blog.



So today seemed like a good time to just fill in the gaps!



I'm past the 23 week mark now (closing in on 24 actually), and everything is progressing great for me, and as far as I can tell for Baby too. I've had two ultrasounds already to diagnose some bleeding (though scary to begin with, it was not serious and as far as I can tell has resolved itself!) and very much enjoyed seeing pictures of my sweet little Jelly Bean. He or she has been doing well, and we'll get to see the bigger picture next week at our bigger ultrasound. So then, when I finally have big pictures with fingers, toes and profile shots I will be able to post them here to share.



Sadly I am much worse about getting pictures of myself through this sweet time in life now that I have a few other little ones around. I was so good at getting pics every few weeks with my first 3 pregnancies. But I never did get a good one of Girly Pie. And I still haven't done any of this guy. I do intend to get a couple though, and I guess I can post them when I do. But I am definitely at the point where people don't know feel confident enough in my condition to comment on it. Usually that's a good thing, but it still amazes me the things people will say in "polite" conversation.



This little one is not giving us any particular clues as to whether he or she is in fact a he or a she. We are not peekers, so we won't know for sure until we meet the baby. Personally, I love that moment of truth and wouldn't trade the surprise for the world. And I'm not too anxious most of the time to find out, though in some pregnancies more than others I have a harder time waiting. This is one where I really am perfectly content to wait, though very curious what the baby is going to be. I guess my track record of the three to one ratio makes me lean towards assuming it will be another boy, but if I ignored the numbers and went off of feelings and baby wiggles, I guess I'd say I lean more towards girl. So in other words, I really have no idea! This little one so far seems fairly similar to Girly Pie as far as movements and position go, but then none of my pregnancies have been super unique. S/he is not a huge kicker, and always moves in the same spot, the same spot that Girly Pie did. Most of his/her movements are quite gentle and more of a wiggle than a kick. Lots of hands and arms, is my guess, rather than feet and knees moving around.

The funniest thing I can tell so far is that this little one has some personal space issues. Any time I move in a way that might squish him or her, or any time a sibling leans or pushes too heavily on my belly, this guy gives a full body reaction to the pressure. It's a funny violent little explosion. This is the first one to be so reactive to outside influence... I'm hoping that is not a bad sign for a fifth child... that could make for some interesting times with four older siblings always wanting to love on this little one!

So all in all, I am thoroughly enjoying this pregnancy. I get little glimpses of how exciting it will be to actually give birth, to meet a new little person, to kiss that soft, fuzzy little head... but for the most part that still seems like the distant future to me. I'm happily sitting in the here and now. My big goals before February include lots of organization, schedule refinement, pre-planning for the remainder of the school year so that I don't let it all fall by the wayside when I have a sweet little angel face to admire and memorize distracting me from all those equally important goals, meal planning & freezer stocking, and potty training a certain big-sister-to-be... plus a few odds and ends around the house. So far I've been pretty productive, but there is still plenty more to accomplish. And I know myself well enough to expect many of my goals to remain unmet. But hey, I'd rather aim high and miss than just settle for nothing!

So that's the scoop. We're all happy and healthy here. All the kids (who have a clue that is) are getting excited to meet a new little brother or sister, and they all have opinions on which it will be. Girly Pie is baby-obsessed right now, so I'm hoping that is a good sign for the months to come.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Irresistable Moments...


Armed and dangerous


Idn't he PERTY?



"What."



Look at that smirk.



Look... it's Cindy-Lou Who!



Male bonding

See? I really do exist!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Schedules, revisited

Well I never did post the outline of my schedule. That's because A) my schedule left little to no time to sit and do such things on the computer and B) Girly Pie gave me all of three weeks on my beautiful schedule to enjoy it before she decided that she did not, in fact, need her nap from 9-11am as I had planned around, but rather that she would now be awake until 11 when I had planned on having free time for the boys. So instead of napping during school time, she decided to nap smack between the two planned school times in the day. School was from 9-11 and from 1-2:30. Little Miss Girly Pie suddenly found her toddler nap groove from 11am to 1pm. Not such a good fit.

So after a couple of weeks of fumbling around with the mornings with all four kids and trying to see what I could fit in and where, I finally sat down last night and put together a new schedule. It's a little tighter and a little more structured than my last one. But it does allow for some toddler-free school time, as well as some carefully planned one-on-one (or two) time with me and the kids. This newer version also leaves less free time for the kids, which means less floating time for me - but it adds a short window where I am free from all four kids, which the old schedule lacked. So hopefully it balances out.

And of course in about four months when Sweet Baby #5 enters the picture, I'll be back to square one anyway. But hey, hopefully I can get more than three weeks out of this one and find out just what I need to do to make a new one work out with our new needs.

So now our days (should) look something like this:
  • 6-7a Wake, free, Mom dressed & downstairs by 7
  • 7:00 Brushing & OT (mellow) w/F
  • 7-8 AM chores, F set table, make & start eating BREAKFAST
  • 8-9 Finish breakfast, P kitchen, Mom chores & laundry, L & F rooms tidied, all free when done
  • 9:00 Brushing & OT (heavy work)
  • 9-10 P Story of the World CD with Legos in his room, F free for quiet self directed play, Mom play/activity/early preK time w/G & GP
  • 10-11 P independent school work, F school/work/games w/mommy, G & GP directed play or quiet free
  • 10:45 SNACK for all
  • 11:00 Brushing & OT (heavy work or mouth), GP nap starts
  • 11-11:30 P free or directed play, F & G school/games w/Mommy
  • 11:30-12 P w/mom for lesson time (language, spelling, other) or games, F & G quiet directed play
  • 12-12:30 LUNCH, family devotional
  • 12:30-1 P kitchen, tidy L & F rooms, F OT w. Mommy, rests start for all boys
  • 1-2:30 all boys rest, Mom free til GP wakes up, then Mom/GP time til boys up
  • 2:30-4 SNACK for all, then unit study time for Mom, P & F (crafts, activities, reading, some directed play), G & GP free/directed play
  • 4-4:30 P play w/GP, F & G w/Mommy for kitchen helper or games
  • 4:30-5 boys all free, GP w/Mommy in kitchen or doing chores
  • 5:00 Brushing & OT
  • 5-5:30 P tidy family room then read his book, F & G set table and help, GP w/Mommy
  • 5:30-6 DINNER
  • 6-6:30 Bed chores, P kitchen, G & GP baths or quiet play
  • 6:30-7 G & GP stories & bed
  • 7:00 Brushing & OT (calm, quiet)
  • 7-7:30 P & F stories & bed
  • 8:00 Lights out for any boys reading in bed

I know it looks like a lot in list form like that. But most of the directed play just means the kids don't roam free, I just get to direct them as to what game, toy or activity they are using during that time. Also, all of Finny's brushing and OT stuff we need to do about every two hours, so that's just getting to be habit and routine now. The big change is that instead of school being done before rest and afternoon, we now have a big chunk of school in the post-rest time. I will need to see how that works for us all. I admit I enjoy the free afternoons, but life with more and older children means changes need to be made. So we'll see how it goes. I hope that it will lessen the chaos and busy-ness of afternoons and evenings, while lending to a sense of direction and purpose in the play that they do have. And obviously there will be exceptions. We'll have play dates and outings and errands and field trips. In which case we just stick to the morning plan and keep Girly Pie's nap and let the rest and afternoon stuff slide. I'm all about flexibility, and with 2nd grade and under, I really have little guilt about having a day slide with only half of our intended school accomplished for a day. After all, I am comforted by the thought that in just our morning time alone we're likely doing more learning that a whole day of government schooling could accomplish. So really, in the big scheme of things, not a bad deal.

So there you go. Day 1 of Plan B has gone OK, but not right on schedule. Part of that is all the extra time put in with training and disciplining a certain Mr. Finny through his difficult transition period (how much time can one boy spend in a day whining and being sent to the stairs for YET ANOTHER time out!?). Part of it is helping all the kids learn that the new times are meant for something specific and not just play time.

But all in all, I feel the potential with this new plan is good. I'm sure there will be tweaking. And as I said I know if nothing else we'll need a whole new plan in a few months. But for now, I am happy to have a rhythm to my days again, and I hope that the structure brings us all back to that happy place we had for the few weeks we had the set times with Girly Pie's nap lining up with our school time.

In talking with Mary Grace on the phone this morning (only allowed between 8 and 9am, mind you!) she commented that she had noticed a change in my mindset and attitude towards our family's structure and what we do with our days. I'm paraphrasing there, but I have to say that I think she's right. I have felt a change and a commitment to finding a rhythm to our days that brings glory to God and accomplishes for us all in a day what He would like to see us doing. I no longer feel the freedom I once did in a day without boundaries. I feel trapped instead by that lack of structure. And knowing the person I have always been, I know for sure that I did not stumble across such a shift in perspective by my own doing. I do see God's hand in our days now, and I do feel His presence and His voice leading me in my attempts to make the most of the days I have been blessed with as wife, mother and teacher in this family.

So here's to a good day, not even over yet - and to the hope of a good tomorrow, as well!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love is patient, Love is kind...

Well after 5 solid days of high fevers, headaches, diarrhea and nausea, my sweet little Finny is finally on the mend. He came down with some nasty bug last Thursday, and was completely thrown for a loop until well into Monday afternoon. He'd flirt with low 100-101 temperatures for much of the daytimes, especially with ibuprofen running through his system, but every night he'd shoot right back up to the mid to high 103's, even measuring as high as 105. He ate next to nothing. He hardly left the couch. He sobbed through what must have been some really intense headaches for such a little man.

He was such a trooper and hardly complained at all. But by the time Tuesday morning rolled around and he wake fever free and finally ready to begin the recovery process, he was a wasted, broken little boy.

It's been a rough week this week. Honestly, with Finny, the recovery from illness is always harder on everyone (including him) than the sickness itself. He seems to do fine being wiped out, zonking on the couch with heavy doses of drinks in straw cups, videos, books and some coloring thrown in for fun. But come the day when he must rise from his stupor and actually accomplish anything whatsoever and it is as though the sky is falling every.single.time something doesn't go his way.

I know he physically cannot control himself in many ways. I know his little body struggles even on the best of days to maintain a sense of normalcy and balance that most of us take for granted. Sensory Processing Disorder is not something that he does on purpose just to make life difficult for himself and those he loves.

But can I just admit something here?

Man is it hard to maintain compassion and patience through a day (or two or three) of a five and a half year old boy whining, complaining, arguing, fussing, grumbling, withering, crying, whimpering and generally grumping through every single moment. I am thankful beyond words for my three other children who have been beyond patient and compassionate as they watch their brother fall to the floor in a heap of misery every time he has to, say, I don't know, choose a spoon to eat the pudding treat he should be thankful to be given. And I am thankful that I was blessed with enough patience and kindness to get through the day without just locking him in his room and putting earplugs in. But man, it took everything in me to not completely lose my cool with that boy. Actually, it took more than I had, which is where God stepped in and took over my own human will and weaknesses.

So I just wanted to vent that here. I love Finny more than I can say. He struggles, yes, but his struggles hit parts of my heart that I cannot even fathom being touched by anyone else. I ache to watch him suffer (and he has suffered more than all my other children combined in his short little life). But I just love him beyond reason. And yes, the past two days have been hard. I know he's lost a few pounds. I know he's weak and tired and his body has been thrown completely out of balance with the fevers and lack of nutrition over the many days of his very difficult flu. And I know that with patience, consistency, love and a whole lot of his OT exercises and some extra doses of sweetness on my part that we will see our sweet boy emerge again in a few days.

Sigh. But man, it's a stretch for me.

Thank you Lord. For Finny. For patience. For the grace You've shown me that has taught me how to show grace to others. For three other loving and patient children who know when to step back to let a brother in need get whatever it is he needs from me. And for the 12 hour break while he sleeps so I can ready myself (and You can fill me up with more of your grace and patience...) for yet another healthy day...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mmmm... Fresh, warm peanut butter cookies.

I forgot how good they really are...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brotherly (and sisterly) Love

Just a few random shots of our kids together. How very, very blessed we are to have this beautiful family. And how very, very blessed they are to have each other. It's the moments like this that make every little argument and struggle between them melt away in memories.



Finny and Goose have one matching outfit. Finny always makes sure to dress Goose in it when he picks his own out.

Punky and Goose are like two peas in a pod. And Goose just adores that biggest brother of his!


Look at those kids! I just love this shot.


A quiet moment between Punky and Finny as they enjoy a cold treat on a hot day.


The whole gang (minus me - the photographer) on our hike to some local ice caves. A little bit of everything... Batman, Transformers, big rubber boots, pig tails, and a big Daddy to show them everything he can about the world around them all.

Finny showing Goose the ropes of this whole alphabet thing. They are doing so well together in their school stuff. Finny really seems to like the role of mentor with the basics. It's great reinforcement for him, and Goose of course loves the attention and time spent with his brother.


Punky and Finny enjoying a new load of books from the library together. I love when I catch one of the big boys reading to the others. It just melts my heart.


Goose and Girly Pie going for a little walk around the house with the babies. What you can't see is that they are both wearing babies on their backs, as well. (And lest you think we have a zillion copies of everything, we don't own all the babies - most are on loan from our local library from their nifty new learning kits) These two are so cute together. They really do enjoy a special connection that I so enjoy watching unfold!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Caves and swords and pretzels, Oh My!

I've been a little behind on posting about our school stuff, but that's only because it's going very well, and my time is spent planning and doing stuff with the kids, so I have very little computer time these days.

And I spent all day hiking for a big field trip (I love school days on Sunday!) for our caves and caverns study which we finished up over a week ago, so I'm heading to bed in a minute and can't post much now!

But we are currently doing a little study on the history of weapons. My Punky has loved weapons since long before he could talk. I wondered what I had done wrong as I watched my precious 7 month old son banging and beating on everything in the house with any object he could lift in his hands. He loves sticks, swords, bows & arrows, axes, spears... and guns (though I personally have a very strong dislike of guns and we do not allow toy guns in the house, nor do we let the boys play with them elsewhere, much to Punky's dismay).

So just for fun I thought we'd study something I KNEW he'd not only love but be completely and utterly enamoured with. And so we are. And he is indeed smitten.

We're doing it on a very basic level, just hitting the main weapons with a mild overview of the historical timeline from the stone age to now and only stopping to focus on those that grab out interest... Vikings, castles, likely a few more modern wars... We're also doing a little overview of simple machines and I look forward to seeing what my Little Engineer That Could will come up with in his spare time for creations. The boy has already made a stunning array of weapons over Week 1. I can only imagine the fun to come...

We also ordered a little wooden trebuchet kit, so the boys will be surprised and delighted when that comes in the mail and we tackle that puppy! I know they'll be inventing their own trebuchets and catapults to go with the real kit, but it was still a fun treat! And my hope is to whip up a batch of pretzel dough one day this week and let them make little pretzel swords and daggers (and guns, I'm sure) for snack. I'm pretty sure that will be almost as big of a hit as the trebuchet kit!

So that's where we are. The other non-unit study basics are still going well for Punky. The little boys are having fun learning together. Finny is doing really well with his current OT activities. Girly Pie is changing her nap time on me which is making me jump around a bit on my happy little schedule, but we'll get in a new groove soon enough. And I'm enjoying my time with them all more then ever!

Who could ask for anything more?

Oh, and the boys will start reading a slightly modified (shorter and cleaner) version of The Three Musketeers this week with their Daddy.

It's going to be a busy house around here... I wonder what they'll think of next to use as swords. ;o)

Monday, September 14, 2009

VERY quick update

No time to write about our FABULOUS vacation right now.

But we're home and mostly caught up with laundry and unpacking.

And it's Monday and we're on schedule and it feels SO GOOD to be back in the groove of daily life.

I am telling you - I am so pleased right now with how our days are going and how great I feel and how smoothly everything is running. I know these great times are never permanent, but it's good stuff.

It's going to be a good week. I just know it!

Oh - and for anyone keeping track and wondering... I'm 19 weeks along today and feeling great and loving how often this little guy wiggles. I still feel "newly" pregnant, but I'll be half way to term next Monday. Crazy how time flies by when you're so busy enjoying the rest of God's blessings in life! I need to remember to sit down and enjoy the ride with this here baby, too, before my pregnancy is over and I miss the whole thing!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A recipe worth keeping

I love this play dough recipe and have found it to be the very best. I have tried others, but inevitably they end up too sticky or too hard or too lumpy, or too something. ;o)

Well, I lost my beloved recipe for a while and have been using other recipes for close to a year now. I get so discouraged every time I make an inferior batch that I have even resorted to buying real Play Dough again! So knowing we’re due for a new batch soon, tonight in near desperation I took out every recipe in my whole recipe file.. and I FOUND IT!!! (It was in the dessert file of all places. Hmm… wonder what I was thinking when I put it in there! I must have been pregnant or had a newborn at the time…)

So I am posting a copy of the recipe here so that if I do somehow lose the little card again I will have a back up copy on my hard drive as well as on the web. There may be a better recipe out there somewhere, but I have yet to find it. So for now, I’m sticking with what I know and love!

Best Play Dough (and it is indeed well named!)

Boil 2 cups water, add food color (Just keep adding drops until you like the color of the water – go darker than you think, it gets much lighter when mixed with the rest of the ingredients.) and 3 Tbsp olive oil. Remove from heat and add: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 2 Tbsp alum. Mix well, and knead when cool enough to do so. As you knead, add handfuls of flour as needed until it reaches the best consistency. (This is a great part for the kids to help with, as long as you let it cool enough that they can help without making their sensitive hands too tender) Store in a Ziploc. Refrigeration is not necessary (I never have and it lasts months and months) but I believe it does make it last longer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Meme

I saw this on a lovely blog I follow and thought it would be fun to do as well Feel free to post one yourself. It seems to me that almost every mom enjoys reminiscing over her labor stories. So here's one more opportunity to do so. I know with my fifth labor coming up in a few months, I love thinking over all the details of the other four!

How long were your labors?
Punky – Technically, 4 hours and 51 minutes. But I only KNEW I was in labor for about 2 hours and 40 minutes
Finny - 3 1/2 hours
Goose - 8 1/2 hours (milder than the others, but the longest by far, he was posterior for most of it)
Girly Pie - 2 1/2 hours +/-

How did you know you were in labor?
Punky - After two hours of what seemed like very regular - though not very painful - Braxton-Hicks contractions, I was trying to convince Hubby that this time might really be it. Then my water broke. So that's when I KNEW it was labor. And boy, once the first contraction hit after that, there was no confusing them with Braxton-Hicks contractions anymore!
Finny - I woke up to pee at midnight thinking I was having back pain from sleeping on my back. When I lay back down in bed though the first full labor contraction hit and I just knew it. It was just like the post-water-breakage contractions with Punky 23 months prior.
Goose - I was late and just waiting for it. So when I woke up at 6am with slightly intense contractions, I just planned to have him that day. I figured even if it wasn't full labor yet, I knew it would HAVE to get there - he was already 6 days late! But when My midwife arrived and broke my water at noon saying, "We're gonna just have this baby today either way." I think that's when I finally knew FOR SURE that it was indeed THE DAY. ;o) One of the many reasons I love Darlene. She knows when enough is enough. ;o)
Girly Pie - Woken up at 1 or 1:30 am with labor contractions. They were full-on right away just like with Finny so I just knew. I had been dilated to 4 already at my appointment the day before, too.

Where did you deliver?
Punky - Local hospital 20 minutes from home
Finny - At home
Goose - At home again, but in our new house
Girly Pie - At home again, same house as Goose (first two babies born in the same place!)


Drugs?
Punky - Well the mean nurse at the hospital didn't believe my water had broken, so she wouldn't check me for dilation. Finally after watching me writhe around for a while in utter agony, and seeing that the little monitor barely showed one contraction ending before the next began, she thought maybe I was further along than they suspected. Up until this point they told me I probably had 8-12 hours to go for a first labor, so yes, I asked for drugs. (they also forced me to decide then and there, since the anesthesiologist wanted to go home so I had to make up my mind, darnit.). But they finally checked me and I was already at 8cm, and I was pushing Punky out before they could even get the darn IV inserted. So I never got the drugs, and had I known that my intense pain was pretty much because the baby was crowning and that my pain would soon be over, I wouldn't even have asked for them.
Finny - No.
Goose - No. But being that he was the longest I'd ever had, I do remember feeling a little annoyed at laboring at home knowing I had no chance for relief should it go on much longer. But that was "the wall" and he was born a few contractions later. Funny how that works, huh?
Girly Pie - No.

C-section?
Punky - No.
Finny - No.
Goose - No.
Girly Pie - No.

Who delivered?
Punky - Our family practitioner at the time. She was the kind of small town doctor that actually came to our son's first birthday party! After she moved away we never did find another doctor we liked as much.
Finny - My wonderful midwife Darlene. Finny was her 5th delivery in 4 days. She was so tired from not having slept for so many days that when I called her in labor at 1am she actually cried. ;o) But she came with a back up midwife just to be safe, and she was very thankful for the super fast delivery. He was born less than an hour after her arrival.
Goose - Darlene again.
Girly Pie - Darlene again, of course.

(And a bonus question) How long were you pregnant?
Punky - 39 weeks, 5 days
Finny - 39 weeks, 2 days
Goose - 40 weeks, 6 days
Girly Pie - 39 weeks, 6 days

Anybody else care to share?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beach time....

And we're off.

Time for our 4th annual September trip to Ocean Shores.

We'll be building monster sand castles and finding dozens of sand dollars. We'll be driving our Suburban up and down the beach until we find the perfect spot to park for the day and feeding french fries to seagulls just for the fun of it. We'll be swimming in the hotel pool until our fingers and toes look like raisins. We'll be wearing shorts and winter coats and our toes will be numb and blue but we'll still be happily jumping waves along the shore. We'll be flying kites and mini golfing and cramming into a few beds in a hotel room meant for two or three people. We'll be up late playing Uno, Zilch, Polish Poker and Yahtzee. And we'll be eating meals cooked by someone OTHER than me. Which is just so lovely I can't even tell you.
Goose testing out the shallow water pools left behind at low tide, 2008

It's going to be a great week. Four kids, two parents and one Grandpa. 1, 3, 5 and 7 year old kiddos make for a fun, fun week at the beach.


Finny and Punky in the water from our 2008 trip

It's going to be GREAT!!!

Girly Pie relaxing on the beach at 4 months old, her first trip, 2008

Just because she's so dang cute...

Girly Pie at just shy of 16 months old.


She backed her way into this little "cave" of pampas grass in our front yard


Daddy was there to snap a few shots of her as she smiled at him from her little hideaway

This girl is just so stinking cute. Seriously.



Friday, September 4, 2009

Intentions

So with all the big, fun efforts I have been putting into our "big kid" school... I have to laugh that today, the two minute prep I put into a little guy project to keep mostly Goose and partly Finny occupied for the last 20 minutes of our school time turned out to be WAY more exciting for both Finny and Punky than anything else I had planned for them this morning!

After watching Finny and Goose wander off towards making Zoob diving gear, I was inspired to do a quick letter D craft. The craft is just to make a big D and then "dot" it with Q-Tips dipped in paint. ("duh-duh-Dotty D") Fun. Simple. Educational. Perfect for Pre-K and K. So while we were doing the D's, Finny asked why we were doing D, and I said that diver starts with D, and since they liked divers so much, I thought it would be fun to do the letter D.

Of course he immediately wanted to make a little construction paper diver, which of course sent up Punky's radar and he was right there ready to give up a bit of free Lego time to join in on the paper diver fun. So I threw out some quick constructing paper body parts and a pack of brads and let the big boys go to town. Goose happily wandered off after 10 minutes of poking a Q-Tip into paint blobs and dotting his construction paper D's. He had no interest in making a paper diver at all.

So there you go. One of the many joys of homeschooling with multiple aged children around. You just never know what you'll do, or what they'll find the most joy in doing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fun times!

Just two seconds before I need to go back to the action...

But it's Thursday of Week One of our unit studies, and it's going GREAT!!!

We're doing a study on caves and caverns, and the kids are really enjoying themselves. There is so much we could explore, but with only aiming for the kindergarten and second grade levels, I'm keeping things fun and simple. They are getting info, but not an overwhelming (read: boring) amount of it.

So far this week we've: read a great kids book on caves and caverns, learned about the different types of caves and how they are formed, discussed both the evolutionist and creationist theories of how limestone caves were formed, learned about many different types of limestone cave formations, explored the internet for pictures of caves and cave paintings, learned specifically about the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, formed our own clay and sugar cube versions of limestone caves (we'll finish them soon and watch the sugar "limestone" dissolve leaving behind solid clay) and made our own cave paintings on rocks. And that's just been since Tuesday! We still have cave animals to discover, bats to study, a real cave expedition to undertake... and so much more!

So I have to say that between the interest led unit we're doing and the schedule allowing me to make specific times in the day to do our activities, it's really going great.

OK. Back to cave painting. I think Miss Girly Pie is tiring of her play-dough distraction while the boys paint. Time to entertain the baby. ;o)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time

Time.

60 seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour. 24 hours in a day. 7 days in a week. 52 weeks in a year.

It is what it is and it doesn't change – at least it hasn't in my lifetime.

And yet, it can feel so very different from one day, one month, one season to the next. Some days you wonder how you will ever make it to dinner time, and other days suddenly it’s 20 minutes past your normal dinner hour and you look up and wonder in amazement, “Where did the day go?”

A few weeks back I felt like I had so very, very much to do and so very, VERY little time in which to do it all. I felt robbed of all that I wanted to do and overwhelmed with all I HAD to do. It was a funny mix of “Where did the day go, I’ve hardly done a THING!?” and “How can I possibly survive until my Hubby gets home? This day is taking forever!”

A few months from now, I may very well be back in that same spot. But right now, at least for the past two weeks or so, I suddenly see so much potential for my time, and suddenly it seems everything is falling neatly into place each day.

Suddenly, the time I have been blessed with each day seems perfectly matched to the tasks which lay before me.

Right now, in this particular stretch of time (and I can only pray this “stretch” lasts for a LONG time!) everything lines up. And each moment of each day, from my always too-early seeming wake up to my always too-late feeling plop into bed, feels rewarding, challenging, fun and... right where I want to be.

I know most of the difference is my own perspective and attitude. Honestly, since Girly Pie’s emergency room adventure a couple of weeks back, my eyes have definitely been on my Maker to take care of me and carry me through my struggles rather than on my own lack of ability to get through them. My eyes have also been back on Him with an attitude of thanks for the blessings I have been given, rather my view of my blessings being blocked by the obstacles of life and my own negativity and fears.

And I’m pretty sure that just that shift of focus has made the most difference in how I have felt since then. I feel God has blessed that shift in focus back to Him. I'm looking back where He wanted me to look, and I do feel He's pleased with that.

There is something else though, too. In addition to changing where my focus is (or maybe because of that change?) I’ve also felt more driven and inspired in working out a daily routine that better fits our family’s needs.

I’ve tried and failed so many times before at schedules and routinesmore times that I care to count let alone admit out loud. Really, to tell the truth, I hate schedules. I go into them kicking and screaming, and usually run right back out the same way. And there is absolutely no guarantee that this time will be any different.

But, at least for the moment, this time does feel different. This time, I really can feel God's hand in how our days are going. I actually feel like He gave me the the inspiration I have been desperately seeking and revealed to me how He knew our days would best be spent.

I can see my days in chunks and I know what will fill those chunks. I have been shown what has been lacking, and those gaps are being filled daily now. I feel guided and structured, but not restricted and confined.

Sure, I have much less “me time” than I did before, but somehow the time I do find to be free and mine is getting better used and I appreciate it more. Instead of sneaking in little snippets here and there at the computer or at finishing the smaller tasks around the house left undone, I see now how I was taking away from the more important things I want to do each day. I also see that while I was constantly multi tasking every moment of every day, I was never really fully in any given moment or task. I was always only semi-present. And so I missed the joy in most of what I did.

And now I am so very much enjoying my days, even though I am doing so much more than I was before! And yet, I feel like I have MORE time than I did before.

It's amazing really.

Maybe I’ll post the skeleton of my daily schedule/routine another day, but the meat and potatoes of the plan is not really my point today. My point is just that time never really does change, but what you do with it, and the attitude and perspective you have during the time you are blessed with, really does make a huge difference in how your time is passed, and in how you feel in each moment you have.

Or at least that’s my thought on the matter. For the moment, anyway.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's going to be great!

I'm so very excited...

I am going to try and sew my very first skirt for Girly Pie this evening. And I get to hang out and chat with my best bud Mary Grace while I'm at it.

It's going to be such a fun evening!

I just hope I can figure out how to gather for the skirt... Guess we'll see!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's working!

So I know many homeschoolers are in full school swing by this point in August, but we here are just starting to get slowly back into the groove. My biggest goal for the weeks I consider "warm up time" is to see what kind of daily schedule I can work out for us all.

I want to fit in the basic, and mostly independent, school stuff for Punky and have been trying out a few different methods to see how he can best know what he needs to accomplish during this time on his own in the day. So far, though we've had some days when he is clearly not all there and plugged in (he is a seven year old boy - I would expect no less!), he seems to be getting the hang of just setting to work and getting his independent work done quickly and efficiently, with much less tendency to be distracted than when we started.

During this time when he is productively occupied, I am also trying to figure out how I can best use my time elsewhere. Should that be a time to get all my household duties done? Would that make a good pre-k time for Finny and Goose? Should I make it a mommy-daughter time with Girly Pie before she has her nap? I'm not sure yet... but since GP's nap is in transition from two medium naps a day to one longer one, she's still not a concrete person to count on at any particular time in the day yet, so I am leaning towards chores or pre-k time.

I also want to make a time in the day (hopefully while GP is asleep) when I can dive into the fun stuff with P and F. We'll be doing some unit studies, though I do not want to make them super-duper academic. I want that part of our schooling to be fun, exciting, mentally stimulating but not overly taxing - and really the part of the day we all look forward to the most. So having one less distracting little one around is a good fit for that. That will be the time when we do related crafts, science experiments and any bigger games or activities involved with our topic of study. I might also do the reading on the topic then, but I'm not sure.

And of course I need to make sure I'm available every two hours to be heading up the OT exercise for Finny, so I'll need to fine tune what the others are doing during those short but important times when he and I work together. Distraction is particularly hard for Finny to work through, so I am learning way s to have others occupied so he and I can find those 5-10 minute times to just focus on our work (it's harder than it sounds in a house with four young children to keep the other three from distracting one in particular)

The other key to our new days is learning how to keep everyone directed, even when I am not personally involved with each of their activities. I am learning the art of assigning and rotating activities for all three boys - even just fun, simple stuff like Duplos, playdough, blocks and magnets. Instead of letting them roam freely in between set work times, choosing those same activites or others as they please, I want to have more of the day structured where they are focused on specific kinds of activities, though still mostly playing (since they are still so young!). The focus and direction is mainly for Finny, since his therapist has encouraged me to minimize his completely free-range time, as he tends to lose his self regulating ability when left to his own devices for more than a few minutes. This new kind of directing and rotation is not really my natural approach to things, so it's been a bit of a slow learning curve, but I am finding fruit in it for all of us, and as I get more accustomed to it, I think it will suit us well over the coming years.

So all this to say I have a lot to finagle into our days, and that's really not even including basics like meals, most household work, one-on-one time with any of the kids... and many other very important things. But it's a good start, and we're finding some ways that work - and some ways that don't!

But today, it really went beautifully for the morning, even though we got off on a late start. We had a false wake at 4:40 from Miss Girly Pie and though we all fell back asleep, we were slow moving when we did wake up. Then our aging dog surprised us with a nice smelly mess in his kennel this morning, so among other things, we just had a lot to do before we could really get moving this morning. So I was sure all the school/schedule stuff was going to be a wash this morning. But Punky, though late to start, cruised right through his independent work with not a lick of help needed from me, Goose happily spent his free time playing nicely with Finny, and I was able to finish the morning work later than usual and to put GP down for nap, again later than usual. But when I came down from GP's nap routine, I found Punky sitting at the work table diligently plodding away at his math book, and right across from him was happy, "just right engine" Finny, who had decided this looked like the perfect time to pull out his reading lesson and begin going through it on his own.

Normally we do that together, and it is not something I am at all looking to have him do independently. (what's the point of homeschooling if I can't even be the one to sit down and watch my kids learn to read!?) But I was just so tickled to see that with all the effort I've been putting into our mornings, it seems the idea of working and staying on task with productive efforts seems to be setting in. The fact that instead of coming down from the nap routine to find Punky distracted by Finny's play time with Goose, I found Finny drawn into the quiet table time. I guess it's time to find at least one or two kindergarten-ish workbooks so that Finny can have something to do for his own "work" time, since he clearly would like something of that nature to call his own.

And that is something I hope to see more of in the coming years, though I know there will still be many a day (month, year...) of finding the workers distracted by the players, I do hope that we will see more and more of the players joining in on the more directed learning experience.

So it is working. My children are learning routines and self direction. They still have plenty of time to play in the day, and much of their directed time is still spent in just doing simple activities that they enjoy, with none of the three R's covered through the process. But they are learning something through it all.

And so am I!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Award time!

Thanks, Mary Grace!


Wow. I was given an award! I was humbled this evening to do a quick check before bed and to find that my best friend, IRL and in cyberlife, Mary Grace (who blogs over at Books and Bairns) thought I was deserving of a blogging award for being thankful and/or having a good attitude. So thanks Mary Grace! So I will gladly pass on the joy of being so honored to a few other lovely bloggers I enjoy reading up on.
The rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link the person from whom you received your award.
So without further ado...
I hereby nominate...
Vicki at Joy Home Living ~ Because as far as I can tell she is always joyful in her life and always has something encouraging to post about - and when she hits a snag, she seems to coast right through without letting it bog her down.
Meghann at The Jones Family ~ Because just reading her blog you can tell she is smiling all the time!
Ellajac at Aspiring to Simplicity ~ Though she just had a baby over the weekend, so she may be awhile before posting again, but I get a kick out of reading about her daily life. And who doesn't want to read the blog of a woman with four girls, the youngest only days old?
Melody at They Call Me Mama ~ Because she posts such beautiful pictures of her beautiful family, and because her posts just seem to ooze with the joy she finds in her daily life as a Mama and wife to her family.