Monday, September 30, 2013

Waking Up--Catching Up

As I've dealt with my broken heart, I've written faithfully on my private blog trying to find the good, exercise faith, and record my hurts . . .  I have had nothing left over for this one.

I had a turning point at the Relief Society General Broadcast

I feel as if I were a convalescing invalid, which I imagine I am.  I'm over the worst, but there's still a long road of recovery ahead.

Through it all, I've continued to prepare meals, run errands, cuddle small people, encourage and correct larger ones, oversee school, participate in family prayers, scripture study, and devotionals . . . in general I've continued managing our home and family through this season of living death.  Every step was hard.  Every step felt like swimming in jello.  I'd often find myself in the middle of the living room wondering what I should, could, or might do next.  Everything seemed too hard.

Everything.

Along the way we finished Snow Treasure.  It based on a possibly true story (there's no evidence to support it, though the story had circulated for 60 years before anyone fussed about documentation) about the courage of Norwegian children when the German army invaded during WWII.  It was a thriller that left H4's eyes as wide as saucers and even brought E13 out of her bed after she'd been awake literally all night the night before.

We participated in our Explorer's Club.  I led the Little Stars in making simple books about themselves.  I am not a fan of coloring pages or directed art, so the kids chose what would be on each page.  I posted a list of suggested ideas on the wall near the art supplies for the parents, but I noticed that a lot of original work was going on. The only direction I gave was how to bind the pages and providing a table and supplies with which to make tempera paint handprints . . . if they so desired.

The older kids had a great science session about water pollution and conservation.  There were lots of action stations set up for the kids to do experiments, and E13 got to be an assistant leader.  I think she half liked it, and half missed being just one of the kids.

The older girls and I are working our way through the New Testament story by story, jumping through the gospels as needed to follow the life of Christ chronologically.  I'm amazed at what I assumed they knew and don't.  We've read the stories to many times through their lives, but this experience of reading, discussing, and writing is giving us powerful opportunities to ask questions and explore the scriptures for answers. 

Already they are starting to remember and recite Moroni 7:45-48.  I still need to follow it visually, but I'm noticing the girls staring off into space as their mouths keep moving.  We're discussing the idea of having a memorization show down next week, but I'm not so sure about having more competition than we need in our home!

A6 reads so very well.  She's working her little tail off trying to read a 300 page novel that J9 recommended to her (from the Warriors series). I'm not a big fan of the series, but my girls sure are!  I hate to make A6 sit with our little Sonlight readers, but I love the language arts lessons in the 1st grade curriculum.  I may just put the readers away and read great books with her instead.  Who cares if our spelling words and copywork correspond exactly to what we're reading?  The little readers are darling, and serve a valuable purpose for a season, but they start to feel insipid when a child is ready to move on.  I find that reading progress and writing progress do not go hand-in-hand in my family.  All of my kids have seemed to read more readily than they write.

Preschool has suffered in this season of crisis, but we've at least read together each day.  Today we really dove into a fun monkey craft (M is for monkey), spending quite a bit of time tracing, cutting, coloring, folding, and gluing.  I1 joins us, adding his bit of chaos to the mix.  He's still all about process over product, so as long as he had a glue stick and a bunch of paper available, he's a pretty happy camper. 

My favorite preschool moment was when H4 asked, "Mom, can we just read Beatrix Potter for preschool today?"

That's my kind of preschool!

*E13 loves gymnastics and is gaining skills rapidly.
*M11's violin progress is a delight.
 *S11 loves her choir.  I don't her her singing much, but she says she's going to sing at her little church talent show this week.  I need to find out if parents are invited.
*J9 finished the much hated book The Borrowers and has happily begun The Indian in the Cupboard.  I don't know why she didn't choose that one first, but I'm thrilled to have a happy reader again.
*A6 has moved on from loving paper airplanes to tracing.  Her hand-eye coordination is getting quite a workout.
*H4 cries a lot these days.  I'm not sure why.  I'm trying to love, love, love her a lot, keeping her close to me.  She's asking for reading lessons!
*I1 is so very close to being I2.  He's putting 2 word sentences together more and more often, and his vocabulary is growing so fast it's more like an explosion.  My favorite is how he says, "Kenk 'oo Mommy," when I offer to read a story or give him a drink of water or put him in the bath.

Autumn days are here, and I've closed the computer to games and play time.  The days are too lovely to waste.  There are plenty of winter days ahead for playing on the computer in the afternoons.  Right now we're trying ever so hard to get out and love our Heavenly Father's creations.

On that note . . .

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What We've Been Doing: Sunday-Tuesday

We wrote letters on Sunday.  A6's was the sweetest of all--composed ever so laboriously, all by herself.

We also had Family Home Evening.  It was my turn to present a lesson.  My children know how to work, but they so often choose not to.  We had a lesson on stewardship--how taking care of our home and environment show respect for ourselves and our Father in Heaven.  I told them how pleased I am with their abilities and how I hope they choose to do good work in the future.

My favorite part of the lesson was when I had H4 give her favorite stuffed animal to E13 for safe-keeping.  E13 has a history of taking stuffed animals apart for whatever reasons that the rest of us cannot understand.  Her little eyes got so very round, and she clutched that orange bear close to her heart!

Point made.  We don't want to entrust our belongings to those who will not take care of them.

My second favorite moment was when I had E13 give her favorite earrings to I1.  I thought she'd squeal and clutch them to herself, but she handed them off without a word of protest.  I1's face lit up and he immediately began to do the very damage any toddler would do to a pair of silver hoop earrings.  I rescued them as quickly as I could, and while I1 ran off to his room to cry (I did feel badly for him!), E13 received her earrings thankfully back into her own possession.

Point made again.

I don't see any difference in their approach to their chores, but perhaps the idea will percolate for some years and come to life when the time is right.

We went grocery shopping on Monday.  It was so necessary that we skipped school in the morning.  Usually the kids complain and complain about helping to put groceries away, but on this day they worked like a well-oiled machine, and the job was done so quickly that I literally stumbled about for several minutes looking for what we must have forgotten.

We'd forgotten nothing.  I was glad I'd splurged on a couple of take-and-bake pizzas for lunch.

S11 and E13 did school in the afternoon while M11 went to violin.

J9 watched the littles while I was gone with M11.

We were going to go with S11 to choir and play outdoors on the school athletic field, but we'd forgotten that I1 needed his stitches taken out, so after Daddy ran S9 to choir, he came home to do the removing (he's an RN).  It was much harder than we thought it was going to be, and we were prepared for it to be pretty hard.  All of the kids who were home watched under strict instructions that any tears or grossed-out faces were grounds for dismissal.

They did a great job.

The first 3 stitches came out with very few tears.  Because he was at home, he wasn't frightened.  He was able to sit by me and listen to stories while Daddy did the fine work.  But it did hurt a little bit and as he got tired of us messing with his head and tired of the irritating little hurts, he got done before we were.  There was just one stitch to go.  First Daddy tried it.  Then I tried.  Then Daddy got it out--with me holding poor I1 tightly in my arms while I looked hard into his eyes and sang his favorite songs.  E13 held his head still.

His owie looks quite good.  I still look at it and remember the horror of the day it happened, but I can tell it is going to fade into nothing more than a good story.

The kids really want him to be Harry Potter for Halloween--after all, he has the scar!

We began reading Mathematicians are People, Too by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer.  I'm going to read one chapter each week in addition to our regular stories.  The kids moaned and groaned a lot when I pulled it out, but spontaneous discussions exploded several times as I read--predictions, problem solving, and what-if queries--those are signs of genuine interest.

We began Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan on Sunday night.  The kids were so engrossed that we read 5 chapters last night, and I closed the book to disappointed groans.

Today all of the kids did their regular schoolwork in the morning.

J9 is gone with Daddy to work at the horse barn and have a riding lesson.  She's pretty tickled that she gets to teach him how to do the work.  Her riding instructor said she has some boots that might fit J9; I was asking around about anyone selling used boots, and the instructor said, "Don't buy anything.  Let me see what I have at home."  We've offered a fair price, but I have the hunch that J9 is going to come home with boots that were just tucked into her arms with a nonchalant wave of the instructor's arms and a quiet, "Don't worry about it."

We'll see.

H4 got to make lemonade because it was "L is for lemons" day.  S11 helped her because I1 had a massively poopy diaper that couldn't be ignored while I helped.  I am thankful for helpful older children.

E13, M11, and S11 are hoping to be allowed to walk 2 miles to The Salvation Army store this afternoon.  They cleaned up the family room in order to butter me up.  I want to say yes, but it looks like rain, and the 4 mile round trip is rather long . . . but it is on quiet back streets, and the exercise will do them all good, and a little rain never hurt anyone . . . perhaps yes is a good answer.

My body is healed.  My heart is rather a mess.  I've begun running again.  I pray for a little as I run; then I leave my mind empty to allow God to speak to me.  I haven't heard much, but I'm reminded that Abraham had to wait an awfully long time for Isaac, and Elder Holland gave a mighty fine conference talk in April of this year.

Patience seems to be my never-endingly necessary lesson.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Being a Lady

I'm not doing well. 

I'm going through the motions:  school, chores, devotionals, personal prayers, scripture study, meals, playtime.  All of the outward actions are in place.  No one is suffering, but the kids have caught me twice with tears on my face, and my excuses are getting thin.  The good part is that kids don't really want to know what's going on in their mother's heart as long as they're fed, have clean clothes and get to do fun things.  There is no reason to confuse them with my confusion.

Last night we finished Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.  This passage, in which Caddie's father speaks to her, touched my heart:

"It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful  What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way!  A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness.  It's a big task, too, Caddie--harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.  They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness.  A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's.  But no man could ever do it so well.  I don't want you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners whom folks sometimes call a lady.  Not, that is not what I want for you, my little girl.  I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest n mind."

Perhaps I just need more nerve, courage, and patience . . .

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

'Nuff Said

Tuesday morning.
Made oatmeal for breakfast.
Made 5 pints peach jam.
Made 4 loaves organic wheat bread.
Helped kids with school.
Spent the afternoon in urgent care.
I1 got 4 stitches in his forehead.
Picked up meds for J9--she's suffering from the poison ivy but complaining so very little.
Kids watched movies.
Made peach cobbler for dinner--even had a scoop of vanilla ice cream each.
I1 is in bed, barely resting--his head hurts.
The rest of the kids will soon follow.

And my favorite pink shirt has bloodstains on it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Just Another Monday

Autumn came for a brief visit today.  Summer is coming back in just a day or two, but today was chilly and cloudy and drizzly.

E13 had planned to mow the lawn for our elderly neighbor, but the rain put a stop to that.  However, E13 did manage to not shower or get dressed ("I'll shower after I'm all sweaty instead of before!") until after lunch.

M11 had a violin lesson this afternoon. Yesterday she was inspired by a beautiful violin number performed by one of the sister missionaries at church.  She told me today that she complimented the missionary and got a hug in return along with the advice to, "Practice, practice, practice!"  It was advice that M11 doesn't really need to hear, but it certainly won't hurt.

S11 got to go babysit our neighbor's toddler daughter while our neighbor worked on prep work for a catering gig she has this week.  She's a professional pastry chef.  S11 had a blast all afternoon and came home $20 richer.  "I'm supposed to go back tomorrow morning at 9 am!"  she exclaimed.

"What about school?"  I asked with my eyebrows raised.

"She'll call you to find out if it's okay," S11 replied.

I've yet to hear from our sweet neighbor.  I'm happy to rearrange our days to be helpful, but last-minute plans that don't go through me leave me disgruntled.  I'm not sure how to handle this . . . but I do know that I should be friendly.

Poor J9 has a bad case of poison ivy.  From what I've gathered she and some little friends used poison ivy leaves to make homes and playgrounds for the frogs they caught at our church campout.  S11 says she warned them that it was poison ivy, but they didn't believe her.  I've not heard about the friends, but our J9's face is swollen so that she doesn't even look like herself.  She's also got it all over her hands, lower arms, and it looks like it's spread to her midriff--she must have scratched an awful lot before we figured out what was going on.  She's faithfully dosing herself with calamine lotion, applying ice packs when the itching is so bad she simply can't take it, and this afternoon I asked my husband to give her a dose of Benadryl.  Her face stayed swollen, but the medicine knocked her out so that she slept the day away--unaware of any itchiness.

A6 is still in love with paper airplanes.  Her every free moment is spent making or decorating them.  H4 and I1 follow her around like puppies, imitating her every move.

--We worked on our New Testament journals again. 
--The big girls did their independent schoolwork.
--A6 did her little bit of reading and writing.
--H4 and I snuggled together with our Beatrix Potter collection in lieu of our normal preschool.
--I1 remains devoted to Peedie and Boo Boo, so I read those stories to him several times.  He also got to go on a walk with Daddy this morning to keep him happy and busy while the older girls and I cut and pasted together.

 I've been trying to stick to the couch as much as possible since Saturday, and it has been a blessing.  It is making me insane to leave chores undone or watch others do them for me, but I'm finally starting to heal, so I'm making myself stay put. To help me keep my place, I have been reading the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.  I'm confused as to why I've never heard of these books before now.  They are great fantasies about a book world come to life.

I have a particular weakness for books about when our world and fiction worlds cross paths.

I need very much to make jam of the peaches that I picked up on Saturday, so tomorrow I will sit at the kitchen table to cut and organize while the older girls (I hope!) help cook and stir.  I'm hopeful that just standing and sitting in my kitchen won't be too much of a burden.

Tonight S11 has choir practice.  I sent everyone with Daddy so that those who were not singing could run around the field and play for an hour after spending the whole day holed up indoors.  I'm jealous and lonely at home--and snacking too much--but they should be home soon, windblown, happy, and tired.  I made a zucchini cake for them as a bedtime snack.  I hope that will induce unusual cooperation over baths and bedtime routines.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Rest of the Week . . .

 . . . didn't go exactly as expected.  For some reason I thought I could just get up and go, resuming life as usual.

I was wrong.

I'm definitely in a post-partum recovery period.

Getting up the next day, doing normal chores, decorating my new scripture journal along with my older girls, working for 3 hours at the horse barn with J9 doing hard manual labor, making dinner, cleaning up, and doing our normal evening routine was the wrong move.

Getting up extra early the day after that (Friday), preparing breakfast and lunch, packing the car and organizing the kids for a 50 mile drive to the closest natural history museum, spending 3 hours walking around the museum, having a picnic lunch, driving home, preparing a picnic dinner, packing stuff and kids again, driving 20 more miles to the lake for the church camp out (we didn't stay the night),  feeding my crew, cleaning up, being social, packing them back up, driving home, cleaning them, and putting them all to bed was the wrong move, too.

I don't feel that I birthed a baby.  But I kind of did.  It was small and dead, but I carried it just long enough to be traumatized by its exit from my body.  I need time to heal.

So today I'm taking it easier.  I did fold 4 loads of laundry, but I folded them while sitting on my bed.  I let the girls make pancakes and cinnamon cream syrup for breakfast.  They did a reasonable job at cleaning up, but they'll have some details to work on when they get home.

Right now M11, S11, and J9 are walking together to the library for the first time.  It's a pretty good walk--over a mile--but they're together, and they have a cell phone with them.  The city has been working on the street near our home for months and months--actually over a year now--which has been a giant pain.  But the upshot is that we now have sidewalks on the fairly busy street that leads to a park and the library.  We've never ever walked before because there wasn't a safe place to walk. 

They feel quite grown up being given the responsibility of getting there safely along with 3 backpacks full of books to return, a flyer to post for our homeschool association, and the responsibility of picking up the books that their daddy and I have on hold.

This season of having children capable of and happy to run errands is a truly fun period. I get to stay home with my little guys (who actually need me to go outside so they can play), which I love, and my bigger kids have the fun of running around town, which they love.

I still have to go pick up my Bountiful Baskets order, but I'll take those same 3 big girls who are at the library now with me to do the lifting and carrying.  E13 will stay home to babysit the little guys.  We'll have a simple dinner of bread and beans and veggies.  The kids will go to bed early tonight after a full week in preparation for church first thing tomorrow.

For that matter, so will I.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Bright Spot in My Day

Yesterday was not a dreadful day.

We went to our first Explorer's Club meeting--a hiking day.  The big kids got to hike fast and far; the little kids got to hike slowly and not so far. 

(I think the little kids had the better hike.)

E13 attended her second gymnastics lesson.

The big girls did their school work in the afternoon.

We played in the sprinklers with a neighbor until the bees got too aggressive.

I went through the climax of this miscarriage.

I read stories to I1.

Last night he was through with his bath and was searching for his favorite books  We are fans of Olivier Dunrea, and I1 was collecting all of the books by him that we currently have checked out from the library. He had Boo Boo in his hand, but he came walking down the hallway saying, "Peebee ha'.  Peebee ha'," and signing "hat" at the same time. 

"Are you looking for Peedie?  Do you want to read about Peedie and his hat?"  I asked.

I1 nodded happily.  "Peebee ha'," he said again.

Then the light went on in my brain.  This was the first time I1 spontaneously put two words together.  He's mimicked phrases like, "Here you go," ( 'ere ' go ), but he still communicates almost completely with single words and to-die-for facial expressions.

The ache in my heart receded for a moment . . . I never get tired of hearing my babies learn to talk!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Officially a Miscarriage

I called the doctor's office, as directed, in the early morning to get my lab results.  I knew the pregnancy was ending, but a tiny bit of hope kept rearing it's irritating head.  It was hard work to talk it back down over and over and over again.

The doctor's office did not call me back for hours.

In the mean time:

*We had blueberry muffins for breakfast.
*The older girls and I finished our Old Testament Study.
*H4 and I had preschool--we made a kitten out of circles.  I1 wanted to be part of things, so he climbed into my lap, grabbed glue, scissors, crayons and paper, and generally made everyone crazy.  Fortunately I'd printed the craft pattern incorrectly at first, so I had a second copy of inferior quality that made him perfectly happy.  Looks like it's time for I1 to have some pre-preschool of his own.
*A6 and I had school.  She's quite a good speller!
*I did some laundry.
*I cleaned the kitchen.
*I read some stories to I1.
*I wandered about aimlessly.
*I cried.
*I helped M11 with her math.
*I attended the temple with my husband.

And then the doctor's office called--my hCG levels are dropping, and my progesterone levels are bad, too.

The nurse offered to have me see the doctor to discuss a D&C, but I'm not ready for that.  I'm going to see if I can get my system to clean itself out on its own.

My husband is lost for how to help me.  I am lost for how to let him help me.  He offered to go buy some dinner so I didn't have to cook, but we still have to pay off our travel expenses which were higher than planned because of car trouble along the way.  We can do it, but we don't have wiggle room for dinner out.   When he said, "We'll just finish paying off the trip another month," I started crying and yelling.

"I'd rather have the trip paid off than have dinner out tonight.  I still need to buy clothes for the kids this fall, and I either have to lose 10 pounds or go buy new pants because I can't fit into any of my normal clothes right now.  I was going to shift into maternity clothes soon, but now I won't be.  I have to buy dance shoes and school books and groceries--I spend money like water!  I don't want to eat out just because I'm having a crappy day!" 

I feel really badly.

I felt badly at the time.

He walked so sadly out of the kitchen.

He's forgiven me, and I've offered a bumbling apology.

But I hate hurting him.

I just don't know what to do with all of the hurt inside of me.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stuff We're Doing

This weekend found my girls making, decorating, and flying dozens of paper airplanes.  I do not know what prompted such a frenzy; I only know it happened.

I have no pictures--only memories that I have tucked away for my own personal enjoyment.  I sat on the front porch Friday evening just watching.  We live on a cul-de-sac, so the street is our playground.  All 7 of my children ran out into the street with one, two, or three paper airplanes in their hands. 

The air was alive.

Children running, laughing, playing.
Airplanes zooming, looping, crashing.

I'd told them, "You have 15 minutes!"  Then I let them play for over an hour.

I could not stop watching.

************
Today was hard.  Yesterday was hard.  I am miscarrying for the 8th time . . . or not . . . but I'm sure I am.

We did not write letters, but we did watch movies together as a family, and we had Family Home Evening, complete with berry jell-o (made with juice and real berries--not the gross stuff in a box).

We read aloud.  We're done with Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield.  We've begun Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.

Today we had school, with phone calls to my OB and visits to the lab for blood tests sandwiched in between.

Today M11 returned to violin lessons.  She's so happy that she's practicing for the second time today.   Right now she's practicing one of her fiddling songs and my littles are all dancing in rather giggly fashion.

Today S11 started choir.  She's so happy she's sparkling.

Today I printed a copy of a half-marathon training plan.  If I'm not pregnant then I'm going to run until I drop . . . I have to do something to both get me back into my pants and keep my mind off this most recent loss.

**************
Tomorrow is our last day of Old Testament study.  I've decided to use this plan as our inspiration for our New Testament course of study.  I've saved her journal prompts, decided not to print her bookmarks, and am working on printing out the scripture references used in the stories because we've read and re-read New Testament Stories and have quite outgrown them at this point (my littles, however, still love them), so we are only going to read from the King James version of the Bible.

Tomorrow the nurse will either confirm what I already know or will give me numbers that will confuse me further and lead to more tests.

It makes me cry to even think of tomorrow.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Pears are Ripe

I bought a 38 lb box of pears through Bountiful Baskets. They arrived on Saturday completely hard and green.  We put the box in the basement so they'd stay cool (and out of the way) as they ripened.

Which they did . . . today.

All 38 lbs.

The older girls settled into school, while the little girls and I washed and cut and peeled pears.

Then the little girls got bored and made paper airplanes.

Then the paper airplanes didn't cooperate, so E13 helped them.

Sometimes I want to strangle that girl, and sometimes she is so patient and kind and wonderful I can hardly believe it.

Today she was that wonderful girl.

I made pear cobbler for breakfast with about 3 lbs. 
I made pear crisp for lunch with about 5 lbs.
I peeled and quartered about 40 pears for dehydrating--nearly 20 lbs?
I peeled and chopped another 5 or 6 lbs for spiced pear jam.
I think I have 5 or 6 lbs to go.

I'll probably make another batch of jam.

It would be a good day . . . except that I think I am losing this pregnancy.

The doctor sent me in for hCG levels.  I go back on Monday to make a comparison.

It could all be over by then.

Or not.

I don't know.

It's a good thing I have a lot to keep me busy this weekend.

I am not a happy camper right now.

Decisions, Decisions

Just as I was feeling good about the activities the girls have chosen (E13--gymnastics, M11--violin, S11--choir, J0--horseback riding) and about our schedule and plans in general, a good friend threw a wrench in the works.  She is the director of a children's performance group--singing, clogging, dancing--that just lost several members due to a surprise change of address for one of the principal families.  She emailed me with a specific invitation to join this group, along with the plea, "It would be a favor to us, too."

This group is terrific.  All 6 of my girls could participate, and at the same time.  It is practically free.  The kids are encouraged to develop their own choreography, costumes, sense of showmanship, and leadership.  The kids will be taught a lot of excellent performance skills.  The group is pro-America, pro-family, pro-good values.  I have not one criticism or concern.

Except one.

Is it the best use of our time?

Should we do this or should we be home?

I have to be home to take care of our home. 
I have to be home to take care of our family.
I have to be home to take care of the women at church to whom I am called as steward.
I have to be home to have time to attend the temple.
I have to be home to prepare it to sell.
When we are away, then energy is spent on something other than home.

But if I have all 7 children with me, teaching them to serve (this group performs for senior citizens and at community-building events), to be gracious, to be confident in front of an audience, then I am helping to bless my family and my community.

I've scheduled two visits to the temple this month (actually I had my husband do it). 
I've scheduled at home days.
I've arranged our daily schedule to allow for cleaning and preparing for house showings.
I've scheduled church service.
I've taught my children to help me take care of our home.
I know how to prepare meals in advance so that even on the busiest days we eat home-cooked food.

The pro-list is ever so much longer than the con-list.

So . . . why am I uneasy?

I actually made the decision not to join--deciding to honor that unease and see if peace followed.

It did not.

I felt just as uneasy about the opportunities lost and the inappropriate use of this season of our lives.

I think the reality is that I am not a stage mother, nor am I comfortable with the level of parent-participation that this group will require. 

I am just afraid of not being good enough.

I think.

The kids and I have a decision to make.

Today.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spontaneous Swimming Party (Sort of)

Our flexible schedule has proven itself a blessing today.  Some friends announced that they were throwing an un-birthday party for their daughter this afternoon.  Anyone who wanted to could come swim for the afternoon at their house and have snacks and fun.

We had to arrange transportation for E13 to get to gymnastics, but that was doable.

We had to finish school by 11:30 am, but that was doable, too.

I had to get dinner in the crockpot, so it would be ready the minute we walked through the door tonight, but even that was doable (we had a veggie/meaty/pasta "bake").

So 6 kids and I drove the 50 miles it took to drop E13 off at a friend's house and up to the un-birthday party.  We had an exceedingly good time.

I1 had his very first lollipop . . . and his second . . . and his third . . . and so on.

It was hilarious to watch his face light up at each new color.  He'd suck on it for a few minutes and then search out a new color.  He'd take it out of his mouth, smile at me, shrug his shoulders in pleasure, and then suck on it again.

I think he tried 6 or 7 different colors--never finishing one, but loving them all.

A6 swam and swam and swam.

H3 was not really happy in the cold water, but she had fun with one of her little buddies.

The older girls had the social time of their lives.

E13 really enjoyed her day out and getting to have something different from the whole family.  Every once in a while, I find that to be a real blessing.

I'm really tired, and the girls still have their mid-week church activities, but it is a good tired.  The kind of tired that is worth working for.

I'm glad we got to go swimming today.

S11 Sings

S11 has been so desperate to find a "special thing."  This is not an object but a talent or hobby that can be uniquely hers in our family.  M11 seems to have one.  J9 seems to have one.  But S11 has been really struggling.

She wanted it to be surfing . . . but we live well over 1,000 miles from any oceans.

We thought it was going to be joining the homeschool band.  We had the open house marked on our calendar for 2 weeks.  At the very last minute I looked up the address, and found the rehearsal schedule at the same time--right in the middle of our science club.

We are all committed to the science club; homeschool band suddenly was not an option.

My heart broke for my poor, disappointed girl.

I began scouring websites, local forums, and community education catalogues for something special for my girl.

Success!

I found a local children's choir that was open for auditions this week.  S11 loves to sing.  We've talked about voice lessons for quite some time, but they are pricey, so we've opted to wait until the girls are old enough to join the church choir (at age 12) and learn what they can there before we decide to invest in voice lessons.

But this little choir costs very little, the practice schedule works with our family schedule, and it has a good reputation.

It was with much trepidation that S11 entered the audition room, but it was with a big smile that she opened the door to invite me to speak with the choir director.

She's in!

She couldn't be happier . . . neither could I.

Monday Was Hard

Pride goeth before a fall.

My last post was about how school and our routines were almost too easy.

Then came Monday.

A6 had a fever and was listless all weekend.  I'd promised to help in the church nursery, so my husband stayed home with all 3 littles (because where one fever is, others usually follow) while I took the 4 bigger girls to church.  It was good to sit quietly through an entire service.  Then I spent 2 hours in the nursery.  All was fine--even boring--but I came home quite tired.

We wrote our letters; I remembered to scan them into the computer this time.

I made dinner.

I closed my eyes for an hour.

But it wasn't enough.

I was still so very tired.

And then Monday morning came so quickly!

My sweet M11 helped me through a few mistakes--like forgetting our memorization scripture and devotional moment during our morning meeting.  But E13 was having a hard day, and she made no bones about making it hard for the rest of us.  By nightfall our family was in a state of desperation, and had my husband not been absolutely prayerfully inspired in how he handled our girl, we'd be in a bad place now.

As it was, he and she just talked.  He listened . . . a lot. 

He was so patient.
He was so kind.
He was so humble.
He was so inspiring.
He was so perfect for that very moment.

Our girl is better for now.

And I'm glad Monday is over.