Sunday, October 24, 2010

Little Bug

My littlest man is rounding towards the nine month mark faster than I ever thought possible. He's crawling, cruising, navigating the stairs at an alarming speed, and charming everyone he meets. Little Bug is the cutest, sweetest little thing I think I've ever seen (though my short term memory tends to think that about each of my babies when they are at this age).

Just wanted to share two recent pics of my cute, shaggy Little Bug.
(His curls are fading as his hair gets longer - but I can't quite bring myself to cut it back for fear that I will lose the curls forever!)

(Bug's sporting one of his new bumGenius Flip diapers here. I'll have to post another time about why we dumped the FuzziBunz and went back to bumGenius for their 4.0's and Flips - but regardless of the history there, who can resist a cute coth diapered crawling bum shot!?)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I have had a headache for the past three days - and now as the day fades into night I am FINALLY beginning to feel a little more like my old self.

It's amazing what a few days straight of pain will do to a soul. By last night I was feeling completely defeated, discouraged - like a failure as a mother and wife, stretched beyond my means and falling pathetically short as a follower of Jesus. I went to bed knowing in my soul that all I believe is true and that I am truly blessed - but in my mind and heart I felt so broken I just felt like all of life is a burden too great for me to carry and I wondered how I would ever survive the next day, let alone the rest of my life. (I get BAD headaches... migraines in the past but they are usually controlled with a few minor trigger foods I need to avoid, and this three day whopper had me down on my knees more than once! Give me drug free labor at home any day - but a splitting headache? No thanks. I'm too much of a wimp for that!)

This morning was a little better, but I was bummed to wake up after a great night's sleep and as much acetaminophen as is safe to take during pregnancy with the "shadow" of my headache still there, knowing full well that an hour or two on my feet would bring it back full force. I was still down and depressed, still slugging through the gifts of my life. I got breakfast done and on the table. I kissed my Man goodbye. I carried the baby and directed the traffic of a full morning of chores and play. But my heart was nowhere near "in it."

And then this afternoon - after a morning full of wincing and enduring and even a bit of whimpering - my final snooze and one last desperate prayer for relief so that I could again do all that I am called to do seemed to do the trick. I got off the couch as Girly Pie woke up from her nap and I felt only the slightest twinge of reminiscent pain. I was free! The spell of my three day pseudo-migraine had finally been broken - and my spirit was full once again!

So I write all this not to complain about my pain, or even really to rejoice over the relief of the pain (though let me tell you there has been much rejoicing and praising!). I mention it to explain the thoughts that come to my mind when I go through something like this.

First of all, I always end a pain spree (or a stomach flu or high fever - any really miserable physical time) full of thanks to God for the relatively healthy body and life with which He has blessed me. It's so easy to take for grated the million and two times each day I bend down to kiss a short little bundle of cuteness - until I'm on the couch for a week unable to move due to back spasms (last December while pregnant with Little Bug). It's easy to gloss over the fact that I can prepare three + meals for and clean up after 6 loved ones in this house each day, all while homeschooling them and keeping up with a little one or two (or three...) - until I spend three days wishing I could just melt away in bed and feeling pity for these poor children that are doomed to call me their mother, knowing I am in no way giving them all the love and care they deserve. Every healthy day of my life there are an uncountable number of moments that I take for granted as just another part of life - healthy children to fill my arms and lap, a hard working husband who loves, cares and provides for us, the means to stay at home, the opportunity to homeschool, a body that can do all it needs to do and do it joyfully and easily. And in all honesty, not one of those moments should be taken for granted. Not one of those blessings should be overlooked or taken lightly. And yet they are. I am so blessed that I don't even know how blessed I am. And sadly, it takes a day or two of losing one of those blessings (physical health and comfort) to remind me just how precious each healthy day is.

And that leads me to my second point - how weak and frail my faith, hope and joy are. How strong of a Christian would I be if I lived in am impoverished country and got one square meal a week? What would my faith look like if I feared every day that my husband or my children could be killed (or worse)? What would it look like if I had to face the loss of my husband or one of my precious children? I am too weak to even endure three days of physical pain (and minor pain compared to many in the world at that) without doubting and feeling sorry for myself, falling short of what I am called to do and losing the joy I should have in each thing I am blessed to do.

It has been an afternoon of humbling thoughts as I ponder these things. I am glad to know that it was the pain and not actually my own heart that was feeling the doubts and worries and hopelessness that consumed my last few days. But it makes me wonder just how deep that faith is - how far would I trust God? I am thankful He has never fully tested me on that (and is it wrong to hope that He never does?), but I am ashamed to admit that this teeny tiny trial has me wondering. And it makes me feel for people with long term physical ailments, or depression (even postpartum depression - when you are in that fog you cannot see the light!) or other struggles. It's so easy to forget that your body, your health, your very mind are all gifts from God - and not to be taken for granted.

So there you go. The random ramblings of a pregnant woman coming off a few days of pain. ;o) I am feeling much better now, and once again enjoying my husband, my children and my home. I again see God's gifts in my life and want to follow whole-heartedly. This evening when I feel this newest little Gift wiggling away in my belly I can feel the thrill of knowing we have been blessed with a new life and we will get to welcome a new little person into our home in a few months - rather than feeling the wiggle and wondering just how on earth I'll ever manage with six children, two of which only 13 1/2 months apart (yes - that's how miserable I was!).

So off I go to enjoy a movie with my Hubby and then to sleep off the last remnants of this headache. Thank you Lord for my life, and for healing. Thank you for the perspective check. And for the grace and love You show to look past my weaknesses, no matter how big and blaring they may be.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

School Days

School was great today – For Bible we got into a very cool conversation about how Jesus is the light of the world, but that since He is no longer here in our world that His light shines through His spirit working in His followers. It was neat to watch my 6 and 8 year old sons chime in and brighten up at the thought of how light we as believers can make the world just by letting Jesus' light shine through us, and how dark the world would be if all of us as Christians took His grace and salvation and kept it to ourselves and lived just as dark of a life as others do. I love that a 2-3rd grade curriculum gets me thinking deeply about God's work and light in the world as well as my kids. ;o)

We made oiled paper windows like the pilgrims for history after our reading time. It was fun to do and interesting to see how the oil effected the paper. The reading was enjoyable, too. So far there hasn't been a single reading portion in any subject that we haven't all enjoyed.

For science we went out back and measured out how big the star Betelgeuse would be if the sun were only an inch in diameter. It was pretty cool to look at the entire yard and call it one star, compared to a paper circle in our hand that was our sun, and then to know that our earth was only a dot compared to either – and that we as individuals are microscopic in comparison to any of it. And that God made the whole universe massive enough to house billions upon billions of stars – many even bigger than Betelgeuse – was a pretty cool realization.

We also enjoyed our read aloud and I was begged again for “just one more chapter!” I did the reading while they boys worked on their art lesson - they are doing great and learning a lot. There are frustrating moments as the difficult techniques are learned, but they are both enjoying the fruits of their hard labor.

In between the core subjects where we all worked together, we snuck in some individual Awana time for memorization and math for both boys. Finny also got some reading time with me and our current book Stories of Dragons which is hard work for him but he's enjoying the stories.

I have noticed lately that Finny is struggling with some areas of reading that I think a phonics program might help with. I never did a phonics program for Punky, and though he had some weak areas in reading, the gaps just filled themselves and one day he just picked up the right book and took off reading and never looked back. The child is 8 1/2 and can read through a couple of 2-400 page Redwall novels in a week if he really felt like it - so I just assumed for a while that Finny would hit the same stride soon enough. But Punky did struggle with spelling, and as I always do from my first to my second, I noticed that possibly it was my lack of instruction in certain areas that made for his difficulties, so I'm going to at least try to work through those things with Finny (and the rest, I imagine) with the right tools and not just "wing it" with everything. So today we did our first phonics worksheets, and I was delighted to see that Finny actually enjoyed the work and felt so proud and confident afterwards. So I think it's a good thing. His new A Beka Letters and Sounds workbooks will arrive next week, and though I avoid workbooks in almost every topic but math, I think they will be a really good fit for this particular boy in this particular area.

And for lunch we got to celebrate the accomplishments of both of my elementary students in their efforts to do some (rather mundane for them) handwriting review work over the past three weeks by eating a delicious homemade alphabet soup lunch. I bought the alphabet noodles but put together my own broth and was thrilled to find that all but one of my kids LOVED it. It is hard to find lunches around here that get rave reviews from the majority of people, so I don't take a meal like that for granted. ;o)

So that was our morning in a nutshell. All in all, I have to say that I am REALLY enjoying this school year so far. I know it's only 5 weeks in, and I know we're still not quite at 100% of our work load - but the My Father's World program that I really feel God led me to in answer to prayer has really been a great fit for our family. It's been enough work to keep everyone challenged and learning, but not so much as to bore the boys or overwhelm them (or me!). The planning is minimal for me, and for the first time in a long time I have kids asking for school work by topic. After seeing grumbles last year (and most years, really) when anything remotely educational came out, it is so refreshing for me to hear Punky ask, "Do we get to do science today!?" or to have Finny beg for the timeline figures to color during our history session. In fact most of the complaints I get this year are when we DON'T get to do something - the days we skip science get a frown from Punky, and the days without music or timeline figures get booed by Finny. If we don't have a read aloud, they both are disappointed, and going to rest time without doing an art lesson is just no fun at all. ;o) Our Friday nature walks are amazingly popular, too (not surprisingly!).

So for now - 5 weeks in - I'm giving our curriculum and our school year two thumbs up. There are topics (mostly science) and days when I feel like it's almost too easy and that they might benefit from a heavier load, but then I am happily reminded that my oldest is only in 3rd grade! I have five very young children, and a sixth will be joining us in the spring. The number of unschooled Littles in this house is far greater than the number of actual students I am accountable to each day. So the fact that we have too easy of work many days is no problem at all. I have children excited for school! I am a momma who still has time to hang with her hubby in the evenings and make meals three times a day for her family - and I'm still keeping up on laundry to boot! My littles still get much of my time and attention through the day, and I'm not so overworked by the load that I feel too drained to enjoy their antics and games. The planning for school is done for me and I had no idea what a burden that was to have lifted from my shoulders.

My children are learning, I am living, and we are all enjoying the whole kit-and-caboodle. That for me makes it the perfect combo for this current year, in this current season of life.

And I am joyfully praising the Lord for answering my prayers for direction in schooling so clearly!