Nothing terribly poignant today…  I’m just tickled to announce we had a one POUND weight gain.  That’s right!  One pound and two ounces to be exact.  This officially brings Baby Ella, ten weeks old, up to eight pounds and six ounces.  I can’t tell you the relief.  It was a very PHYSICAL feeling of a weight being lifted.

She’s lying in my bed right now, grunting and hiccuping, lifting her little head.  We’ve gotten a few smiles in the previous days… Our darling seems to be hitting her  milestones as well?!  Time will tell.  She goes to the pediatric clinic next Wednesday and then to meet the pediatrician we’ve been referred to in April.   Her muscle tone seems good.

So blessed.  Yes, that’s me.  Just incredibly, incredibly blessed.

Healthy babies are an amazing miracle of God.  When you think of everything that could go wrong, genetically or just in the course of day to day adventure, a healthy child is a miracle.   If you have one (or six) give each of them an extra kiss.

I know that there are things we struggle with day to day.  I don’t want to downplay the emotions we feel when we’re frustrated with a messy house, or a child that isn’t quite “up to par” with where we feel they should be in school.  I know it’s hard to keep up and keep going.   But please try hard to put things into a context.

We know how excerpts from books can be taken out of context and warped.  Goodness! People do it all the time to the Bible… They take scripture out of context to twist and thwart for their own purpose.

Today… Today try to put life into the “bigger picture.”  There are those in life to whom every thing is a one or a ten.  Either the sky is falling or they fail to feel enthusiasm for the little things.    I have noticed two women have particularly encouraged this lately.  I noticed Marcia Somerville (Tapestry of Grace author) specifically writes encouragement into the curriculum.  I also remember reading about the need to encourage our children in a couple of Teri Maxwell’s books.   I remember something Teri wrote about that often encouragement, to those who aren’t used to it, feels false or odd.   It’s a worthy habit to practice.  So often when we are learning a new skill or beginning a new habit, things often feel strange.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.  It only means we must keep at it until it feels normal.

Too often I think we fail to encourage or to recognize that little things are worth celebrating!  I am not speaking of praising our children very every little thing.  I think that can become false.  But I do think that sometimes we have a tendency to get so caught up un the “gottagetitalldone” insanity, we fail to:

STOP!

SLOW DOWN!

BREATHE!

RECOGNIZE!

APPRECIATE!

I’d love to give you a handy little acronym to remember…  Um. Hm.  Not really my thing though and ssbra doesn’t have a nice ring to it. 😛

Recently a dear friend of mine started a gratitude journal, a very worthy practice.   And just yesterday the kids and I were digging into Hebrews and there is a lovely verse in Chapter 10.
Hebrews 10:
“And let us consider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ”  When you spur a horse you give it a nice kick in the right direction.   So, this morning, while I’m not advocating giving your children a good kick in the right direction, lol, I think you can certainly “strongly encourage” them onto love and good deeds.

So often as Christian parents I think we are walking in a trap that Satan loves to use.  We use verses, we talk about love, we discuss encouragement, we utilize scripture.   But it’s  hard to live and breathe it.    Without gratefulness, you’ll NEVER appreciate what God has given you.  And without that appreciation you will fail to treat those gifts as gifts.  This isn’t a one woman guilt trip.  What once was, was.   Two points for you to consider this morning that I found personally useful.   We are in the process of finding a local church.   Last week the pastor made an interesting observation.  Each of us can be one of two things – a thermometer or a thermostat.  They are two very different tools.  As applied to mothering, the temperature can tell us the temp. in our children.  Yes, yes, they’re a little too hot or a little too cold.  But that is all it can do… It’s very limited in it’s application.   But the thermostat has the ability to gauge the temperature and then ALTER that temperature.   If the thermostat recognizes the room is a little too hot, it has the ability to lower the heat a degree or two.  So, today, decide what you’ll be in your home.  Will you simply gauge the temperature but make no effort at changing what’s going on in the room or in the attitudes of your children or yourself?

Two weeks ago we visited a large church and it was very nice.  More importantly I’m wondering if the teaching wasn’t just for me that morning. 🙂  I know that we all have our own little personal struggles.   Some have a tendency/weakness towards one particular sin or another.  You may not struggle in the same area I do.  My personal struggle is my tongue.  There are days that I know I’d be better off if I just cut it out now.   And on particularly good days when I’ve prayed for assistance and managed to choose my words well, I’m encouraged.  But, on those days when I’ve lost my temper and lost my encouragement, I can use my tongue to inflict evil. 😦  And on those days I think I am NEVER going to get to where God is pointing me.  Ever.  It’s on those particularly hard days I feel like giving up.  I wonder how in the world God can use me in my childrens’ lives when constantly I learn a lesson and then do something stupid.  And, generally, it DOES follow that pattern… Learn something wonderful, screw up.

This pastor must struggle with the same… Wondering how God can use such an imperfect person.  Because he pointed us in the general direction of Peter that Sunday morning.  Look at Peter.  He walked and talked with Christ Himself.  Promised to stand by His side.  And Christ loved him deeply.  And yet Peter denied him, not once, not twice, but THREE separate times.   Peter must have felt like an utter failure.  Christ had even told him he’d do it and he denied that he would.  And here he was, just a short while later, doing exactly that which he professed he would not.  And surely he must have thought, “What good am I to God?  How will He ever be able to use me in the lives of others?”

And yet the good Lord, in His mercy and wisdom, used Peter mightily.

And so I say to you, you’ve screwed up.  Most likely you’ll do it again. (Nice, hm?)  And yet God CAN use you.  You must be willing.  I pray that each of you would go out this morning and love your children, encourage your children.  I pray that you’d be SPURRED on to encourage and love.  And that you’d also teach your children and spur them on to do the same.  No kicking please. 😛

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Daniella Hope is here!  Born at 36 weeks and 6 days, December 23rd – Elizabeth’s birthday, she weighed in at a hefty 6lbs. 10 oz.  She is a round little thing and it  was a lovely birth, if a little TOO fast.  I have to congratulate my beloved obstetrician this time though – he did ACTUALLY make it to the birth, although we made him run for it.  Did he get to catch the baby?  Well, no, he didn’t.   To be fair to me, I had too little warning to tell the nurse.  One moment we were chit-chatting between contractions, the next moment I thought she was crowning… Up from the birth ball and wasn’t sure I’d make it onto the bed.  She called for the doctor and another nurse, I got to have another contraction – and my husband announced, “Yep, there’s the head” as our Dr. O tried to get on his gloves.  “Oh, she’s here!” was his next comment, poor doc still with no gloves on.  But he made it!  And that was quite a change from Abigail’s birth – the one he missed and the nurse delivered, lol.  We hear that he literally ran down the hall for our room at the phone call… Pretty amusing and I’d like to have seen it as this would have been no small feat.

Miss Ella did have a bit of a breathing problem.  The neonatologist tells us that it was most likely because she didn’t get “squeezed” in the birth canal and was born just a bit too fast.  Once she was stabilized in the NICU for having a troubling oxygen saturation she did much better.  They kept her on CPAP for the evening and the next morning, weaning her down to room air.  Today, Christmas, they’ve removed the IV, the ventilator, the feeding tube and she’s a champion nurser.  We hear we’ll get to go home tomorrow morning.

And so our so very precious ninth child has made her way into this world.  She is indeed a very real miracle as those of you who have read the journal of our pregnancy can attest.   What an amazing and lovely testimony to God’s goodness.

May you all be blessed this lovely Christmas season as we celebrate not only the birth of our Saviour, but give thanks to our Lord for His goodness in watching over every little detail of our lives.   And for blessing us beyond comprehension.

I’m so very sorry for not updating the blog.  But things have moved quickly this week and have been very chaotic around here.  Friday we went to the obstetrician (Dr. O) and ya’all know about that already.

Monday we had another appointment with Dr. O and we requested a referral to a University hospital here.   He not only gave us the referral, he said he was glad to do it, his only goal was healthy mama and healthy baby and he hoped they could do it.  He had them call IMMEDIATELY down there.  My appointment was at 1:00. By 4:00 that day, the phone consult had been done, the records had been faxed, and the appointment for an indepth ultrasound and a physician consult with the perinatologists had been scheduled… For THURSDAY!  We were thrilled.

I should go into more detail about Dr.  O.  For one, the man has zero ego.  When he says he only wants a healthy mama and a healthy baby, it’s true.  He cares very much about his patients.  I’ve heard from the grandmother of a baby born still through no fault of anyone and  I hear he cried with Mom and Dad after the delivery.  He is deeply invested in his patients and I can’t tell you how incredibly blessed we feel to have him as our obstetrician.  That said, a doctor is as good as his staff.  And honestly?  I can’t tell you how much I look forward to going into that office.  Every single person from receptionist, to the person who takes my blood, to the nurses and ultrasound tech are about the most cheerful, encouraging, lovely people I’ve ever had the joy to be around and I’m glad to be going back to a place that very OBVIOUSLY loves children.  They constantly ask about mine and we enjoy taking them in on occasion and getting them ooh’ed and aah’ed over.  What an amazing blessing.

Thursday was the consult.  With a LOT of people, sigh.  First we did a very (VERY) thorough ultrasound.  After all we had denied all of the prenatal testing and you’d not want to go to extraordinary lengths to keep a pregnancy of a less than perfect child, right?  Oh my.  I think I answered that one with grace, I think.  I explained to the doctor that knowing ahead of time that there was something wrong with the child and doing less than we would for a “perfect” baby and not try to keep the pregnancy would entail a very serious ethical dilemma for us and that we would do exactly the same for a less than “perfect” baby as we would for a so called perfect baby.  And he dropped it thankfully.  I don’t say this to say he’s a bad man.  Actually we QUITE liked this Dr. Y.  I feel a bit sorry for him.  I suppose seeing high risk patients with babies with serious issues probably does jade one quite a bit, don’t you suppose?  We had two ultrasound techs and two perinatologists consult on that.  Then we were sent over to the OB clinic for an internal exam, a history work-up of past pregnancies, and a consult.  Had the exam and was found to be a “good two” whatever that means…  I HAD been 4.1 on the previous Friday, so that was a little concerning but not surprising.   They wanted to fit my cerclage into the schedule by the following Wednesday but couldn’t do it with the two particular doctors they wanted to do it, and they didn’t feel it would be prudent to wait longer than that at this point as we would be past the 17 week mark….  So they fit me in on Friday,  the NEXT day.  LOL, it was such a relief but oh my what CHAOS.

Oh, and did I mention I developed some kind of infection/bite on my leg on Wednesday?  It showed up on Tuesday and we drew a marker circle around it.  It was hot and inflamed and obviously growing.  By Wednesday it was really unpleasant, having grown a full inch all the way around.  DH was concerned and so off to the doctor I went.  I’ll say nothing nice about the doctor, so I’ll just say nothing at all.  Suffice to say that was a clinic visit utterly wasted.  Do you ever feel you should get to deny a payment to the medical field if they don’t actually DO something?  Kind of like any other profession where they sit and hmmmm at something but don’t actually touch the car or whatever they’re supposed to fix?  Sigh.

At the appointments on Thursday and again on Friday they were quite interested in my infection.  It was general consensus among the doctors down there that it was cellulitis, a fairly non threatening infection of normal bacteria like staph or strep that would normally live on the skin.   At this point (Thursday afternoon) it was over the circumference of a softball.  I was on antibiotics at this point and they decided to do the surgery anyway, but gave me more antibiotics injected.  I can honestly say today it looks MUCH better.

Onto Friday.  We showed up at the hospital at noon.   The procedure began around 3:30.  It’s normally a 20 minute surgery.  It took a little longer due to a small issue with scar tissue from past cerclages.  They were able to deal with it beautifully though and instead of placing the normal 1-2 purse string stitches, they placed FOUR.  That made me smile a little.  I guess we can safely say we got our money’s worth?  There were three doctors, including the department head,  doing the surgery as apparently they found this pretty fascinating.  The popular discussion of the day seemed to be wondering how much scar tissue I’d have in there with this many cerclages.   We were later told by her that she’s glad they scheduled it for Friday and not the following week as I was very soft and already dilating.  Thank God.

Thanks to ansthesia and some nice drugs that helped me to not vomit violently 😉 it was by far the most pleasant cerclage experience I’ve ever had.  I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to God for what He has done.  Oh, and that pesky previa?  Yeah, it’s gone.  Not marginal, not low lying, but a very nice, healthy placenta exactly where it should be.  No signs of accreta, and no abruption.  I can’t begin to explain the miracle that has been done here.  I guess if you read the past excerpts you’ll begin to understand where I was, almost hopeless, to where we are now.

Oh, and they think she’s a girl.  Did I mention that?!  How blessed are we?

I looked at our two year old today and wondered if there was anything more beautiful than a child.  I think not.  Mamas, do you know how blessed you are?  You were CHOSEN.  Yes, YOU!  You were CHOSEN by God Himself with the remarkable task of being entrusted with His beloved children for their training, protection, and love.  What a shocking and mind boggling task.  Without dependence on Him I wonder how we should succeed at all???  And be so grateful.  You should SEE my house right now.  It is an absolute disaster.  Pictures would only begin to describe the smell of the dishes that have sat for about four days now.  It is more than a little chaotic and exhausting.  And we have my sister’s shower tomorrow to celebrate her daughter whom we will welcome to this family sometime in the next four weeks.   What a perfect end to an exhausting week – the celebration of a new life!

Don’t begrudge your tasks.  Don’t belittle your role.  You were chosen.  Your ministry personally given and assigned by God Himself.  What a beautiful thing to be given such an important, vital, life altering ministry.   And to something to precious to God as a child?!?!?!  Truly, mother, He must love you and think highly of your ability….  And remember not all children are given biologically.  Mother, if you haven’t children biologically please think not that I don’t include you.  He shall and perhaps has also laid out your ministry….  God bless each and every one of you in this amazing blessing we’ve been given.  Please be grateful each and every mess, er, I mean DAY, that we even have the chance to be a mom……  We are so blessed.

First, thank you all so very much for your prayers.  I am so sure they have helped and ARE helping.

Now a praise.

Where I was sure there were NO options, there has opened a window for a couple.  My current OB has said he will not give progesterone until Week 22.   It’s been very stressful here lately and I’ve not been sleeping well as contractions began Tuesday early AM (around 3:00) and they’ve just been consistent for the last couple days.  It has been exhausting, not because they’re painful or even uncomfortable, but being 15w 4 d pregnant and having contractions and a cervix that dilates painlessly?  You feel like a walking time bomb.

So I called for the progesterone injections to start.  And that was when I found out that my OB won’t start them until week 22.  I found an ACOG (American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology) Opinion (#419 if you’re looking) that shows a study that has had significant impact on preterm labor using progesterone beginning in weeks 16-20.  It IS experimental.  We’re requesting a referrral to a further away university hospital where they do perform experimental work.

Moreover, last night I “happened” upon a study that has nothing to do with incompetent cervixes.  It had to do with previa.  It appears in 1993, and again about 10 years later, they did studies trying to find out if by placing a lower McDonald’s stitch ( a type of cerclage) in the cervix if they could better the rates of infant mortality and mother’s health in at risk previa patients.

The conclusion was that there was no effect.  But did you catch the important part?   They were placing cerclages in previa patients!  Moreover I then “happened” across to an Incompetent Cervix support forum – NEVER knew it existed!!!  And there was a post on there (a few actually in the Search engine) talking about previa and IC.   Several women had had a cerclage placed WITH partial or low lying previa and at least one had had it placed successfully with total previa.

Today I’m calling the OB and requesting an appointment.  I’ll need a referral to the university hospital.  I’ve already put in my request for a specific doctor specializing in preterm delivery and placenta issues.  I’m praying for a couple things – that doors would be opened, that I have the grace to pull through this.

I’m not going to kid you.  I’ve had a rough couple days and I started bawling on my poor husband’s shoulder yesterday before work in the morning… I just really don’t know that  I can hold a baby while she dies again….  Nothing about it was fast, or painless, or peaceful.  It was tragic & awful and I just don’t want to lose this little one.

So I’m asking for continued prayers please.  I firmly (FIRMLY) believe the Lord is active in even the smallest aspects of our lives, every single day.  There is not anything He does not know, including this little one He has so generously loaned us.  I pray His will be done in our lives and that His peace and grace shine through no matter the outcome.

We were talking on another board about the sheer MASS of comments we get from people.  It’s true.  You can’t take seven children and a pregnant Mama out in public and not get comments.  Sometimes they’re sweet & encouraging.  More often they reflect a worldly point of view.  Other times they are less subtle and sometimes downright rude.   We’ve gotten used to it.

It’s not a thing that is easy to get used to if you don’t have thick skin or laugh things off easily.  Being told you’re certifiable at least three times a week can be a bit overwhelming.   But you know?  I’ve come to agree with them.  We MUST be crazy!  I found flair on Facebook that I LOVE.  It fits me so well and I’m thinking I need a bumper sticker, lol.

Not CrazyPerfect, right?  I love it.  Honestly, I’ve been admitting it lately.  I’ve heard I’m either SuperMom or crazy.  I’ll ‘fess up to crazy.  For the first time in fourteen years we’re looking at not having children after this pregnancy, for medical reasons obviously.  And I tell you, flat out, gracefulness of tongue gone?  It sucks.

As absolutely overwhelming as it may be to be bombarded by comments about your family EVERY time you go to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, post office, library, doctor’s office, it’s STILL better than the alternative of not having a large family.  We have family members that have struggled with fertility.  I’m sure they’d gladly put up with the comments for a baby.  People just know not what they do.

Remember, please, young mamas of many, the world sees things from a wordly point of view.  They cannot be expected to acknowledge God’s goodness… They don’t understand.  They can’t see children for what they really are… Blessings.

So, I’m told I’m crazy.  I nod.  Yup, probably.  My reality is pretty different from the world’s.   It takes a special kind of crazy to have a big family and we’re okay with it. I’ll take crazy, I don’t mind. I’ll take the chaos and the hard work too. Someday our houses will be quiet and everything will be clean and there won’t be babies leaving smudgy prints on everything. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to that day.

And honestly? They just don’t understand what they’re missing out on. Pity them.

On an entirely different note, and altogether more pleasant, today was our first official day of school.  It felt good!  We had a great first day!

1st Day Group Photo

1st Day Group Photo

We had a great time.  I admit I took a nap today!  I had to stay up ’til one finishing the jumpers and the skirts to make it a REAL, top-notch, official first day, lol.   You’ve never seen girls so grateful for a uniform, lol.  But SO much fun.  It’s going well, the fileboxes were a hit and we had no problem keeping busy.  I’m off to make supper so we can call it a success and put up our feet.

I’ve given the recommendation MANY times that preschool (and kindergarten for that matter) is utterly unnecessary.

And I believe it.  I think the average child in the average home is going to pick up the skills he or she needs to successfully begin formal schooling somewhere between the ages of 6-8.  I’ve seen it work well.

That said?  If I don’t keep our little ones busy, they’ll keep themselves busy, and they are FAR, FAR more creative than I am.  For example, I know I would NEVER think of fingerpainting in toothpaste on the  walls.  I know I would NEVER think of making an animal “trap” out of all of Daddy’s zip strips from his garage.  I know I would NEVER think of making a fishing pole from PVC & fishing bobbers and for that extra special, can’t resist, secret fishing tip, stuff part of a jar of very nasty catfish bait into the PVC.  These are things I simply wouldn’t think of.  And yet, somehow, these are only RECENT examples of what my bright & beautiful preschoolers have done.  We are never bored.  And I am often sidetracked.

And honestly?  I just want to spend time with my littles.  It’s imperative I sit down with my almost 6yo and my almost 8yo and work on phonics.  We sit together as they practice handwriting.  They need help with math manipulatives.  I simply must sit down with my 10yo and 13yo each day and teach their math, discuss their writing, or read them their dictation.  There’s just no way around it.  The baby will fuss for me and just wants Mama, so she will be held and loved and snuggled.  But an almost 3yo and a 4yo?  The creative genius in them will keep them busy for HOURS.  They are both fairly content children and as long as they’ve been fed, semi-clothed, and given free reign, they’ll run amuck, playing, singing, jumping from things, amusing themselves all day long.  I’d prefer it be a wee bit more structured and a tiny bit less chaotic. 😉

Preschool gives me the excuse I need to sit down with them for a bit, put my feet up, and ENJOY them.  Preschoolers are easy to enjoy.  Happy children are fun to spend time with…  And children are happiest with something productive to do, lots of exercise, healthy food, and a routine.  There’s a reason routine works so well with these little ones… They know what “comes next.”  They can’t tell time yet, but it’s comforting for them to know we do chores, then breakfast, then Mama will sit down with you and read for a bit, then we’ll go outside.  They learn that everything has a place, that they are useful, needed little people in this family.

Our AM schedule looks something like this:

Breakfast
Chores  (sometimes we reverse breakfast and chores)
Family Bible Time
Preschool – Reading, Singing, Talking
Arts & Crafts at the table
Snack
Outdoors for an hour
Indoors – Potty & Wash Hands
Free or Structured Indoor Play
Lunch
Clean-up
Read-Aloud
Nap

And I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world the big kids are doing in all this.  Well, they’re busy.  If you can teach them in the AM before the littles get up this generally works out best.  They also know they should probably wait ’til I’m available to them for questions.  I’m available during Arts & Crafts, Outdoor play,  Clean-Up time,  and Snack.  Obviously they are with us for Family Bible Time.  And just as you’d tell a child on a standardized test, if you don’t know something, go to the next thing and then come back to it.  Essentially that’s how this works.  My oldest two children are quite independent learners and good readers and so it simplifies much of what I have to do.  The most difficult one to balance is, of course, Elizabeth, because she’s not quite on the level of a completely independent learner or reader!  And that isn’t terribly surprising at age 7.   But you’ll find you have time…   We work in concentrated blocks, much of it during naptimes when littles are down.

I can say that most of my day pivots on something important.  The first is tomato – staking.  If a child is tomato staked, they never get the opportunity to draw on the walls, get the catfish bait, OR grab Daddy’s zip strips.  I’ve become very lazy at this lately as I prepare for our new school year, and honestly?  Most of the summer.  I feel like *I* took the whole summer off as well, and that’s just NOT a good thing.  You can learn about this vital & biblical concept here, at Raising Godly Tomatoes.  The concept is very simple.  Keep your children WITH you.  If your children are out of earshot, you can’t correct their attitude or what comes out of their mouth.  If they are out of eyesight, you can’t correct their atttitudes or their actions.

Let’s pretend a child misspells the word CAT.  He spells it KAT.  When he writes it, he writes it K-A-T.  When he hears it, he visualizes K-A-T.  Nothing has led him to believe that KAT isn’t correct and without you to make the correction and to further train him in the correct spelling by reinforcement, this child will continue in his wrong belief and behaviour.

Let me add some caveats here.  Have you ever watched the Dog Whisperer?  An amazing man.  He excels at what he does because he understands pack behaviour and he knows what he can expect in behaviour and he trains to the EXPECTATION.   The problem with parenting is very few people know what type of standards to expect from their children these days.  OR they are unreasonable.  An oddity I’ve noticed is over 1/2 of his cases, the problem behaviour is fixed by the owner’s giving appropriate affection, a routine,  and lots of exercise.  I can’t emphasize enough the impact exercise has on these dogs.

Now, don’t get huffy, I’m not calling your toddler a dog.  But I’m saying we have higher expectations of an 8 week old puppy than we do of our 3 year olds.  And I certainly know MY Abigail is smarter than Legend, and he’s a German Shepherd, lol.   Children need GOOD food.  This will get rid of most of your convenient foods, Mom.  They need REAL food.  They do not need food additives, preservatives, food coloring, or most things that come out of a box.  They don’t need refined flour, refined sugar, or no-calorie sweeteners.  They need REAL food.  I’d suggest you I.L.L the book by Dr. Sears, The Family Nutrition Book.  Look, Dr. Sears, I like some of his books.  Others, not so much.  But when you start learning about whole foods, the books people recommend are OVERWHELMING.  You’re going to start reading books where you need to milk your cow, grind your wheat, grow your own food organically, make your own yogurt, and ferment kombucha.  And WHAT is kombucha?  And, are you kidding?  It’s just too much.  This is a GREAT introduction to real food.  You THINK what you’ve been buying at the grocery store is real food, but you’d be surprised.  Most of the nutrition in the checkout line is synthetic and our body just doesn’t know what to do with it.  Don’t look at the label – buy the stuff without a label…. Produce.  And don’t even get me started on bread!

Next thing – EXERCISE.   I am not saying introduce your 4yo to pilates.  I’m not advocating a treadmill for the 5yo.  I’m saying GET OUTSIDE!  Get them plenty of fresh air, let them yell, let them climb, let them jump and run.  If you do NOT do this things, you are asking for what you get….  I am a FIRM believer that children can and should be taught to sit and sit quietly, but just as every year has a season, every child should have a healthy time to play and run and get out physical energy.  THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IF YOU HAVE BOYS!  Oh, I’ve had people argue that point, but I’ve got 2 boys and they are entirely (ENTIRELY) different.  They were made to work.  They were created for physical exertion.  And they desperately NEED to get out the physical energy.  Also, it is an important sidenote that this will also destroy the Mom Guilt factor when you require them to sit still and be quiet and you’ll be a better trainer and more consistent.

Now, let’s get to the bottom line.

I know what you’re thinking.  I BARELY get done the minimum.  How in the world do I work all this in?

I can almost guarantee if you have untrained preschoolers and toddlers, a huge percentage of your time, more than realize is, in the words of FlyLady, spent “putting out fires.”  In other words, you’re inefficient.

Oh I’m NOT saying you’re not busy!!  Quite the opposite.  I’m saying you’re busy with busy-work and not with what needs to be done.

For example, let’s say you have to make lunch, and in the meantime, Little Junior dumps out the legos, and the play-doh, and tosses the pillows and blankets on the floor in a mini-fort.  After lunch, you have to clean all that up.  If you had had Junior WITH you helping make lunch, none of it would have happened and after lunch you could have read aloud or gotten something else done.   Let’s say your Little Monster, er… Junior doesn’t take “rest” times or naps.  Instead he goes upstairs and you spend the next hour yelling at him to lie down or cleaning up whatever mess he made.  Please, close your eyes and dream with me for a moment….  At 12:30 you tell Junior it’s naptime.  You read to him, kiss him, tuck him in.  In ten minutes, Junior is sleeping and will continue to do so for about 1-2 hours.  And you can concentrate on what you need to do.   Let’s even say Junior isn’t a sleeper…. That’s fine.  My 5yo isn’t a sleeper either.  She has a choice.  She may either quietly look at books or she can sleep.  What she can’t do is get out of her bed, fuss, wake up her little sister in the same room, or in general move for 1.5 hours.  She’s been given a choice – books or sleep.  She may make either choice.

So you’re thinking, “Must be nice…”  And I’m telling you YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  I deeply appreciate what I’ve got.  But please don’t kid yourselves that it came easy.  Ah, no!  The reason why I appreciate it so much is because I had the little terror that wouldn’t nap and would destroy her room and I’d yell upstairs, and occasionally flip out. 😛  And her name was Ana.  And she was awful.  And I only had TWO children and I got less done at naptime than I do now with all of them.

So, how do you train for something like that?  First you exhaust them.  You feed them well.  You create a routine.  And you be CONSISTENT.  You tuck Junior in and you wait, like a cat… Because you know he’s going to do something.  And then you pounce.  🙂  Okay, it’s slightly LESS dramatic than that, but the truth is, correcting behaviour isn’t about waiting until you can’t ignore it.  It’s about catching it right away and correcting it immediately.   It’s setting clear expectations in YOUR head and then training them to it.   It is REASONABLE to expect a five year old to rest or read.  We stop with naptimes when they have graduated to learning phonics.  Then they are expected to do Phonics with me and then quietly look at books.  If I find they are not old enough to do this, they revert back to naptime.  This includes whispering.  I LOVE my naptimes and I will not give them up.  I refuse.  It’s a hard and fast and necessary rule to making our house work smoothly… Or at least as smoothly as it does, lol.

After nap?  Snack, activity, lots of outdoor time.  Our afternoons are FAR less structured than our mornings.  But they cannot have lower expectations for behaviour.

Our chore charts turned out beautifully by the way.  I think I gave the inspiration link on these a couple posts ago.  The “check-off” pictures attach via velcro.  A hint?  Buy the velcro dots at somewhere OTHER than the fabric store… They were expensive!

The chore charts were made from Googled images and Excel, very simple.  We also made Activity cards to go into each child’s folder.  The activity cards – again Googled images and Excel.  We cut them out, laminated them, and all was well.

I’ll add pictures in the next post as I can’t get the camera to work right now.

So, I admit it.  I didn’t do the lesson plans! 😉  I got the girls all dolled up and off we went to a cousin’s bridal shower.  We did the hair, the nails, the jewelry, the whole ball of wax and they had fun.   I’m not “bound” to go to all these showers for my cousins… Each of my parents had ten siblings and it resulted in an awful lot of cousins, lol. But it was enjoyable and I love my dad’s sisters.  They were a big part of my life growing up and it’s always nice to see them all together.  It reminds me why I want a large family.  They absolutely adore being together and tease one another without ANY regard to mercy. 😛

It was a bit of a challenge for me.  The easy questions weren’t difficult to field – “So, when are you due again?”  “Boy or girl this time?”  “Any names picked out?”  And then there were the more challenging ones…  “How are things going this time?”  And one aunt went to Canada with Mom & Dad last week, so they were aware of what was going on.  She wondered if she could help with the kids, how I was feeling, etc.  Showers aren’t exactly intimate in our family.  You can’t picture ten people celebrating…  There’s our side, their side, whichever cousins show up, et cetera, so after presents are opened, cake eaten, there’s generally just a dozen or so little conversations taking place in the room as people break up into little chit-chatty groups.

It’s complicated.

So, I tried to answer as shallowly as I could.

And on the way home I felt sadly lacking.

It seems to me that the answers I give are very “pat” and they are NOT pointing others to the peace a faith in God can bring.  And that frustrates me….

I’m not sure how this is supposed to go.

I was thinking in the car yesterday that I feel an awful lot like a Doubting Thomas. 😦  It isn’t that I don’t believe God CAN perform a miracle. I do.  I fully embrace that He can.  It’s only that I doubt that He will.  After all, I’ve been on both sides.  With Elizabeth, we ended up with a beautifully healthy little girl.  With Hannah, He also performed a miracle (in that we didn’t have to choose to shut off the machines, an answer to prayer) but she DID die.  And so I know that God’s will isn’t always our will.

I’m actually okay with that.  There are, in general two questions that every non-Christian likes to ask a Christian.  And often our answers to these two are found lacking.

The first question is:  “If God is truly God then why do bad things happen?”

The answer is, of course, that we live in a fallen world.  Our Lord never created sin.  He created free will.  He INTENDED for us to live eternally, with no death, no sickness, no sin.  Unfortunately through our free will, WE brought sin into the world.

The second question is of course: “If your God is entirely GOOD and completely masterful of the world then why does He ALLOW bad things to happen?”

Which is entirely different.  It assumes two things.  Either your God is NOT good, because He allows bad things to happen or the second conclusion, He is not all powerful, because He doesn’t stop them.  And if He IS good, and He IS all-powerful then WHY would He allow it?

And that is when we Christians stop and say, “Uh, um, um, uh…”

I am certainly not wise.  I would disagree even with ever being a mature Christian as I have a VERY hard time (and often don’t) control my tongue.  I fail on a daily basis.  It scares me to even make the assumption that I know the answer to this.  I’d pray that those who read it, read it with much prayer and revelation from Him.

The truth?  What I’ve read in the Bible is for several reasons.  One the Bible tells us He can use bad things for good.  Sometimes bad things happen as a result of our own poor decisions.  He allows us to face the consequences of our bad choices, although there are obviously times when He chooses, in His great mercy, shield us from those consequences as well.  Sometimes allowing your children to experience the consequences of their actions serves a greater purpose than shielding them from it, no?

Supportive scripture:

~ Romans 8:28 ~
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

So it says that in ALL things God can work for good.

Now, our definition of “good” and what God defines as for good is certainly often different.

Death is a wonderful example.  If anyone knows the quote, I’d be grateful… I feel it is C.S. Lewis, but cannot remember it.  But it went on to say, when you think of the pain experienced in life and the alternative of the joy of living after death without sin, why is it we embrace life so tightly and fear death?  We have the exact opposite view as God.  When I think of death for Hannah it saddens me.  Should it not bring me joy that she doesn’t experience pain?  She is already with Christ.  What an amazing blessing, to know a child of mine is near God?  Think of the joy in that, should only my other children some day experience that same blessing?  And yet, we consider death the ultimate “bad thing” and consider that pain, or misery in sickness, the better alternative…..

God lets us know that we experience trials so that we may be refined, brought closer to Him, gain wisdom and maturity.  I know I’ve quoted this verse as well here.

~ James 1 ~

Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trials grow us, they stretch us, they cause us to depend on God.  If you’ve read ANYTHING of the Old Testament then you know, trials are what would continually bring back a wandering people to God.  They were stiff necked and when things would go well, they would wander from the Lord.  Trials would help them to depend on Him and bring them back…..

And finally we face trials so we can help others.

~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ~

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles,  so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are in distress, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

I will be the first to say that we have been able to offer comfort to others who have experienced baby loss after we ourselves lost Hannah.  I will be completely honest in that I have been able to distance myself a bit from this by sending a card, a note, a gift……  Recently it was closer to home.  A cousin of mine lost his little boy quite unexpectedly after his birth.  And we attended the wake.  I was NOT prepared to see the baby, or the casket, or not nearly so as I had thought.  I had thought I’d be able to offer words of comfort and was not able to offer more than, “I’m so sorry” as I sobbed.  But, thankfully, I had written  down that which I wanted to offer in a card ahead of time.  It had been eight years since Hannah’s death and I hadn’t seen a baby casket since hers.  In retrospect I’m still a little shocked at the depth with which it affected me……

I can honestly say that now that we are possibly facing some difficult scenarios I am not finding myself praying for the life of the child again.  It very much surprised me when we were faced with losing Hannah and I prayed more to not have to make the decision of ending her life than for her life.  Perhaps God had prepared me for the fact that we were going to lose her?  I’ll not know in this life.

I find myself now praying for faith for the walk….  I wonder if that actually shows a lack of faith?  My saving faith is always there, I do not doubt my Lord.  I do not doubt His ability to perform a miracle and never, since July 2000,  have I doubted His existence, His goodness, His mercy, or His compassion through this.

You’ll find this strange, but about ten years ago we had a discussion about God and faith after the death of a child.  I had befriended people with a deep faith, and yet mine was very shallow.  I had been raised Catholic and my belief system very much reflected that of my family.  I believed in the existence of God.  I believed in the existence of Christ much like I believed in the existence of George Washington, lol.  I took for granted that he lived and that he died and that he did great things in history while he lived.  It certainly was no SAVING faith, just a belief that yes, He was a figure in history.  We were involved in a conversation one day and I remember clearly, as I’m certain they do, that I said something to the effect that should I ever lose a child I’d lose my faith in God.  Who could believe in a God that would allow a child to die?

When we lost Hannah it was 2001.  I had been saved for all of almost seven months.  It was of great consolation to me, but I can’t pretend that I could grasp anything… Only the arms of peace and comfort around me.  But it’s a bit like drowning in the ocean I think.  You didn’t have time to really catch your breath between waves.  It took one’s concentration to just keep your head above water and you couldn’t think ahead five minutes because you had to simply exist in the moment you were in.  It was all you could do.

I can say that having walked that road I certainly would not have wanted to walk it without God.  What hope can a person have who experiences such a loss and doesn’t have the grace of God with them?  I should think it would be utterly desolate and without any comfort at all.

I said earlier that I felt a bit like a doubting Thomas.  I have multitudes of friends praying for a healing miracle  – that the placenta should move so they can perform the surgery…. That the pregnancy continue well past when it medically “should” even without the surgery…  A healthy baby at the end of it all.  And I FULLY and COMPLETELY recognize that my God is quite capable of doing these things.  I almost feel like it is a betrayal to have them pray for such a thing when I myself do not feel compelled to pray for this…….

I find it strange that I doubt that He will.  I wonder if perhaps it isn’t a bit more like Hannah’s death?  I never doubted for one instant that He COULD keep her alive, it was just that I doubted that He would.  I feel much like that.  I can say that it would be amazing and I would be eternally grateful if He should decide to perform one of those medical miracles.

And yet, I’m left with the comfort that should He NOT perform these, that if I should be left with the previa, and if they should NOT do the surgery, and that if the progesterone injections NOT work, I still have this confusing (to me) peace that good certainly will come of this.  I wondered aloud to a friend that I wonder  sometimes ifwe aren’t allowed to walk through trials for the benefit of those around us who do NOT believe?  That they may see a difference in the comfort we are given by God?  It is strange, this sense of peace I have about all of it.  I’d be leaving a bit out if I didn’t say I’m eagerly awaiting my next doctor’s appointment.  Or that I don’t want to “skip ahead” and see how this is going to work out…  But this thing, this web He’s weaving in my life, it is a miracle by itself to stand aside and see the works He is doing within my own heart.  I feel a renewal of faith that I have needed, wanted, ached for, for a very long time.  It is spurring me towards prayers, towards teaching, seeking,  and more……  Not for what most people think I’m praying for, but for a true hunger for the gifts of God……  Don’t you think that’s strange?  I’m surprised myself.

Ah, this ended up so much longer than I intended this morning.  I pray it is received as I meant it to be taken and all glory given to God for His word, His comfort, His goodness through all the times of trials that we face….  May we each learn to depend on Him a little more and ourselves a little less.