Friday, February 29, 2008
Pack my suitcase. Check.
Clean kitchen and run dishwasher. Check.
Cook lasagna for family to eat on Saturday. Check.
Bake cookies for family to eat on Saturday. Check.
Do MOPS stuff. Check.
Buy and wrap 3 presents for 2 different birthday parties tomorrow. Check.
Pay bills and do banking. Check.
Go to library and get new book to read on my trip. Check.
Make photocopies of some school related stuff to discuss with a few of the other moms. Check.
Charge cell phone and camera battery. Check.
Get sitter for Sunday afternoon while husband is at small group. Check.
Go to bed early. Almost check.
If I've forgotton anything, it's too late now! Dallas, here I come!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The father was forcibly removed from their apartment last Sunday night, apparently in violation of an INS ruling some time ago that basically said they had to return to their home country. They were unaware they were not in compliance with all the necessary forms, paperwork and regulations. They have 4 small children that have all been born here, they have learned conversational english very well, they love the Lord with all their heart and are in church virtually every time the doors are open. There is much more that I could say about this family and their situation. But I am tired and sad and at a loss for words (better enjoy that last one while you can, that rarely happens). It is highly probable that they will be deported in the very near future. They will be returning to a hostile environment. Meanwhile the husband sits in jail and the wife, who is trying to prepare for a major unplanned move, is not allowed to see him.
I have been struck with two major insights during this week. The first one is how little I have cared about immigration policy up until now. It's just not an issue that has affected me before. There are other issues that are more "hot button" for me and that I care deeply about. Immigration policy was not one of them. You better believe I will pay more attention to it now. Regardless of how you feel about this issue overall, to quote my friend votemom, "behind every 'illegal alien' is a story." This story has completely captivated and distracted my family this week. Their oldest daughter is in sunday school class with our son C. C sobbed yesterday, great wracking sobs, at the thought that he wouldn't see her anymore. We have prayed together as a family more this week than we ever have before.
The second thing that has struck me is how this family, after arriving in our country, has been taken advantage of at every turn. And yet they have also been loved on and ministered to by God's people at every turn. They have had crooked attorneys (which appears to be the main reason for their current situation), a landlord that would not move them out of a mold infested apartment (it got so bad that the pregnant wife vomited blood every day for weeks and the the health department finally "forced" him to move them to another unit), employers that took advantage of them.
They have also had bags of food and meals show up at their door, wrapped Christmas gifts given to them, a reading tutor work with the mom, free education for their children, play dates with other moms and children, the mom's first ever baby shower (she had never even heard of that concept!), the gift of true, deep friendship. They have, in turn, been extremely generous with what little they had. Do you remember back in October when I blogged about a young mom in our church who died unexpectedly? We collected meals for the widowed father and his young son, and this "illegal" family contributed by far the most.....two huge coolers full of food!
I am both angered by the injustice shown to them, and humbled and grateful for the love shown to them. It's like their situation is a little microcosm of the realities of living in this fallen world, yet with the reminder that God is still in control. When I encounter new friends that are from other countries, I want to be a person who shows love and not injustice. I want to be like this family, who give generously because they've been given so much.
If you feel led, please pray for this family. We know that this did not surprise God and that He is able to save, protect, nurture, and use them wherever they are. We want them to stay here, but if His plan involves them returning to their home country, they will go with our love and blessing and prayers.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I felt better this morning for the first time in a week. Hooray!
There was a beautiful snowfall all day, especially for my birthday.
My 5 beautiful children all rushed in first thing to wish me happy birthday.
I got 3 birthday phone calls, 5 cards in the mail, 2 e-cards and several emails. How sweet is the treasure of friendship!
My hubby took me to Red Lobster for dinner. No cooking or cleaning up! Hooray again!
My daughter gave me a tiny little jewelry box that she made out of sculpey clay - it's perfect for a few earrings (thank you sweet pea!). My parents gave me a new teacup in the shape of a heart and some new tea to try. I love it! Thank you mom and dad! My son gave me a webkinz (last month) which sleeps with me every night (thank you L!). My in-laws gave me some spending money for my trip to Dallas (thanks mom and dad!). My husband gave me the trip to Dallas (thank you honey!!).
A wonderful day. Just perfect. Truly I am among the most blessed women on earth.
Monday, February 25, 2008
This is a piano piece that daughter G practiced and played at a church event honoring our seniors. She specifically wanted me to put it on my blog in order to share it with Aunt Debbie (my sister), who is a wonderful pianist and piano instructor! And also for her grandma and grandpa who didn't get to hear it in person. Enjoy!!
We are doing school today because everyone is bored to tears and needs me to give them constructive stuff to do! One of the constructive things that son C is doing is wiping down all the doorknobs and lightswitches. I am wiping down the computer mouse, the phone, and the tv remote. We are taking our vitamins. :-)
In the eternal scheme of things this is not a big deal, but please pray that we are all well by the end of this week. I want to be healthy for my trip to Dallas, and I want the children to be well for daddy. Thank you!
Friday, February 22, 2008
So I, still in my pj's and with tissue plugs stuffed up my nostrils (how's that for a mental picture???), sat down at the computer and quickly typed up some notes. I also got the display board for my drawing class ready for the closing program tonight so that we wouldn't *have* to go (and we didn't). This showed off all the work my drawing class students have done during the last 8 weeks. And then off they went. On time. Leaving me alone at home where I watched a few minutes of Ellen and then slept for 3 hours.
I am so grateful for a husband who relishes the opportunity to enter his children's world. To participate in what is important to them. And who loves his wife so much he is willing to enter HER world and do, on short notice, what many others would not be willing to do. I am blessed to be his wife. I'm also very grateful that his job is flexible and allows him to do things like this.
When they got home I was in deep sleep mode. He had stopped to get McDonald's lunch for them (more points!). I struggled out of bed to ooh and aah over all they had made today. After lunch I got Little Man to bed for his nap, set up son G on the computer for his one hour of game time, told daughter G she could follow when he was done, put a dvd in for when their computer time was over, and fell back into bed. My hubby finally started work (at home) in earnest at about 2:30 this afternoon.
So the older 4 children were entertained for hours by electronic means today and I don't feel guilty at all. It's a day. Not something we're normally characterized by. They're not going to be warped by one day (are they??).
I woke up this evening at 7:00 to find my children eating Little Caeser's pizza, in front of a roaring fire and The Wizard of Oz. More points for my hubby!
Now I am going to fall back into bed and hopefully feel much better by tomorrow!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The wife in this video is Tim Hawkins' real wife, and half the children are theirs. The other half were borrowed from friends for the making of this video. :-)
The singer in this parody, Tim Hawkins, is a homeschool dad who is also a comedian. He has some pretty funny stuff at his website, www.timhawkins.net.
Let's take a peek inside......
Me: What are you guys doing?
8 year old G: We're destroying the robbers' website. It's called "robber recipes dot creep".
Me: Wow. Thank you. What does this website do?
G: It has recipes on it for making robot worms that can shoot fire, and other bad stuff.
Me: Well, you guys are my heros!
Monday, February 18, 2008
In anticipation of this trip, I was able to slip away for about an hour on Saturday and go shopping. For Christmas my in-laws had given me a gift certificate to a clothing store, so I headed there to see what they had. I found a pair of pants that fit me well AND are comfortable!! (no easy feat - I always struggle to find pants) And then I bought two tops to go with the pants, and I still have money left over!! Yay for winter sales!
I told the ladies they'll have to love me with grey roots (since I'm spending my coloring money on a plane ticket) but at least I'll have new clothes!
I need a sound proof room in my house. My ears and brain are really tired of hearing shooting and explosion sound effects from 4 little mouths. Why must this be the sound of choice?
God must have a really good sense of humor. He chose to give 4 boys to a mom who did not have brothers growing up and who is still mystified by most things male. At least I love football!
I'm slowly learning how to parent boys, and it's very different than parenting girls. Fortunately, my husband is a boy (great how that works out!) so he helps give me insight and perspective. And God is ever faithful. I love Him for that. I also love how He is gentle with me, showing me the error of my ways without pounding me over the head, and guiding me into a better approach. I can't imagine parenting without the Lord!
I feel pretty confident about my "little boy" parenting, but as they become bigger and older and more detached from me......it is harder to find the balance between me loving on my boys and showing them the respect they need as little men. Some of our discipline techniques have had to change. It is trickier to maintain the same standard of behavior and obedience while not doing or saying anything that inadvertently belittles them or dishonors who God has made them to be. Does that make sense?
Going to find a sound proof corner now for just a few moments of peace and quiet. Oh wait, I hear a coup beginning, I better go hide!
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
(the bright light in this picture is not the space shuttle, it's a streetlight!)
This is what I found at my place. From my son L. Be still my heart!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Here the flap is opened to see the inside. An Iroquois longhouse would hold a whole clan of relatives, each family unit would have the space between two side "ribs" of the longhouse. They had benches built along the walls for sleeping and sitting, including an upper bunk for children. In this picture you can also see a red pipe cleaner in the center, twisted to look like fire.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Votemom asked what we will call age 70 since mid-40's is "medium". I'm guessing 70ish would be "medium well". What do you think? And maybe around 90 can be "well". :-)
Monday, February 11, 2008
So it got me to thinking about moving forward into this next stage of parenting without so many longing looks back. I will always miss our babies who died before they were born. I will always treasure the experience of pregnancy and delivery (not sure I will treasure all aspects of delivery) and cradling my newborn in my arms. I will always be grateful that God chose to build our family through childbirth, and I think the sheer sweetness of those years with several little ones will be hard to beat. I understand so much more now those words that Luke penned about Mary, the mother of Jesus: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)
But what treasures still await? What sweetness still lies ahead? I don't want to miss any of it just because a chunk of my heart is living in the past. I truly love all the stages that our kids are in right now, and I love watching them grow up and mature and become their own independent people. It's painful sometimes, but also rewarding and joyful and FUN! In many ways parenting now is harder, but in some ways it's also easier. It is possible that God may still add to our family (maybe through adoption?), but I have wrestled with God for a long time over being content in this area, and I have sensed very strongly His calling me to REST in HIM, even in the void of a specific plan or "answer".
So, bottom line, I'm setting my face towards the Lord. Not a stage of life, not a wonderful experience that I've longed to repeat, but the Lord. It's good to remember what He has done in the past. It's good to live in His grace in the present. It's good to expect what He will do in the future. But when my eyes are fixed on Jesus, all else pales in comparison. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I take my eyes off you and focus on me. My wants, my desires, my longings, my perception of happiness. Thank you for always being so patient and merciful. Help me to fix my gaze on You and trust You for all that You hold in store for me. I love you, Lord.
And I'm totally, really, absolutely, completely motivated to work out now! How old is Stallone anyway? If he could do THAT for the movie.....well, I think I can walk a couple miles! Oh, and "medium" is our pet phrase for being middle aged. I first mentioned it in this post.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
7 year old L: "When I'm a daddy, Hannah (the young lady he thinks he will marry at this point) wants to have as many children as you can have. Which I think is........twenty."
Me: "You're going to have to have a really good job to take care of a wife and twenty children!"
L: "Well, we want to have a poor house and then have extreme make home-over come and build us a new one."
One of the classes our daughter G is taking is a Little House on the Prairie class. Yesterday they learned about what a typical Christmas was like for Laura and her family - they ate sweet potato and each received a candy cane. That would have likely been the only present for pioneer children!
Thursday, February 7, 2008
There were 3 families in our MOPS group that needed meals (2 of them were crisis situations and the other was the birth of a new baby). This involved much phone calling, cooking, driving to deliver meals, collecting meals from others, driving some more to deliver more meals, sending emails, making more phone calls, PRAYING. In a way it's relatively easy for us to do these things since I can fit them in around our daily routine, but it is challenging at times for me to stay on top of everything mentally. In fact just this moment I realized that I forgot to make a reminder phone call this morning to someone who had asked for one. I hope they remembered to take their meal to the new baby family tonight!
I have been reminded how much I have to be thankful for this week, and how much I take for granted. My kids, their health, their hugs and kisses and smiles, the opportunity to watch them learn new things, the thrill I still get when my husband walks in the door. Life is so precious. It is a blessing to be a blessing to others during times of need. Thank you, Lord, that we are not in dire need at this moment. Thank you that when we are, for we have been and surely will be again, You will provide just what we need.
In other news, our son who has SPD (sensory processing disorder) received his body sock in the mail yesterday! This was very exciting. Unfortunately for him it is hot pink, but he has decided he wants to keep it rather than wait another week for another one to come, which may also be hot pink since you can't specify color. He loves it and has used it for long periods of time since yesterday. In fact today he fell asleep in it, curled into a little ball at the foot of our bed! He looked like a large, smooth, pink cat all curled up sleeping. I am so glad we got it!
For those of you wondering, a body sock can serve two purposes for children with spd (probably more, but I'm still learning). It creates a little space that is all their own, to go when they need time and a place to regain a feeling of self control. And it also is extremely good therapy for them to push against the resistant fabric, providing sensory input for their muscles and joints (the proprioceptive sense). Here are two pictures of him in the body sock, first the back view and then the front, showing the velcro opening.
And lastly, I am concerned about Little Man's excema. He has it really bad on his legs and some patches on his arms and trunk. He had a viral infection earlier this winter called "Molluscum Contagiosum" which are little bumps that look like warts but aren't warts. They aren't dangerous, but if they get scratched and break open, the virus will spread to whatever part of the body is touched next. The pediatrician sent us to the dermatologist, who said that he could give us medication to "burn" them off, but he could tell that Little Man's body was beginning to recognize the virus as an enemy and build an immunity to it so we were at the beginning of the end. We chose not to pursue the burning treatment.
The way he could tell this was the beginning of the end was that a rash had appeared all around the bumps, which looks extremely similar to excema. So I'm not sure if this is truly excema or the molluscum contagiosum rash that has spread to his legs. I'm going to try and email the following picture to our dermatologist tomorrow and see what he thinks. Hoping to avoid a trip to his office unless absolutely necessary! Little Man is quite bothered by it (he cries and says it hurts) but lotions seem to aggravate it so I am unsure what to do.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Well, that all changed yesterday! Just to put your minds at ease, because I know you're worried about this ;0), I do not ask my children to do anything I am not willing to do myself. Nor do I ask them to do more than I do. But having their consistent help, on their daily assignment sheets, where they have to cross it off every day as part of their regular work, is already making a significant difference in the cleanliness of our home and in my outlook! (and Lord willing in their attitude toward work and their understanding of stewardship)
So far this week, we have had:
2 loads of laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away
the entryway rugs shaken out, and the floor swept
the cats fed and watered
the mouse fed and watered
the dining room and living room swept each day
both bathrooms wiped down with baby wipes (toilets and sinks)
the tub scrubbed with a scrub brush
the family room vacuumed
the dishwasher unloaded
and it's only Tuesday!! And none of the above was done by me!!
So encouraging! I love how God cares about the little things.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Getting ready for the run.
Everyone continued in their appropriate level of daily seat work. The older 3 children are doing very well in their Math U See workbooks. 7 year old L got 100% on his math test! 5 year old C learned about the hundreds place value this week. He is also learning how to write the letter "P". Look in the sidebar to find the books that the oldest two are currently reading.
In history we began learning about the northern colonies as a region. We studied each of the 13 colonies in detail during our last unit, but as a lead up to the revolutionary war, we are learning about regional similarities and differences, and how different regions approached the formation of a new government. We learned about the geography and climate of the northern colonies, as well as shipbuilding and fishing, as these were two of the north's main industries. We will be learning a bit about whaling next week, which should be fun!
You may have noticed that I don't talk about science much, and that is because I completely dropped the ball on using our science textbook this year. We have done lots of informal science (reading science related books and talking about things), which is basically what we've been doing all along until this past fall when I thought we needed to formalize it with a textbook. So, my goal is to get back to the textbook this next week and finish up chapter 1 which we started so many months ago! If we don't meet that goal I'm not going to sweat it. Our daughter scored at a 7th grade level on the science portion of the SAT last spring (when she was in 4th grade). I don't say that to brag, but rather to illustrate that what I've read about formal science not being really "required" until middle school has proven true for us! (sorry all you elementary science teachers!).
I am making a change in our children's daily assignment sheets, which list out all the work they need to do each day. I am adding their daily chores to this sheet rather than having a separate chore chart on the fridge. The older 3 children are getting really good at following their daily assignment sheet and crossing off everything as they do it. The two piano players already have practicing as one of their daily assignments, and if I add chores to this page it will hopefully simplify the amount of paper we have to keep track of and look at. So that's one of my jobs for this weekend.
I'm looking forward to next week!