I am struggling to write about this week--I kind of don't want to go back and think over the days, remembering how hard they were and why.
I shall start with the hard parts to get them over with and end with what I'm thankful for--gratitude always helps.
This week I got an email letting us know that we were not chosen for the sibling group of 5 children we were hoping to adopt. Someone else was. I neither carried nor birthed them. I've never met them. I've never served or cared for them. But for months now I've been praying for them--daily, hourly--and the loss was as real as any other loss I've experienced. It was not as severe as some losses, but it was real.
And I grieved.
I'm grieving still.
In addition I found out the same day (because I checked) that our inquiries about 2 other sibling groups in need of adoption were on hold pending other placements. That means that we aren't needed.
Why? Why aren't we needed? Why can't we be foster parents? Why are we being blocked in our efforts to do something that God has so clearly called us to do (believe me we've checked and double-checked--the answer from Him remains clear and consistent)? Where are the children He would have us raise?
And my grief grew.
The kids struggled, too.
I reacted to the news by spending hours searching out sibling groups in need of adoption and filling out "interest" forms for social workers. We have run into the same problem we had at the start--our licensing worker is very uncommunicative.
We had some tough days around here. Days in which we had little emotional strength to be kind or patient with one another because we were nursing our own hurting hearts. It took real effort to reach out and love one another.
In the mean time, we lived life, pressing forward as best we could.
Sunday night J10 chose gingerbread houses for our Family Night activity and treat. We just used graham crackers instead of gingerbread, but we had candy and frosting galore, so no one was disappointed. We learned that it is far wiser to make and decorate the house before putting on the roof, and it is also wiser to decorate the roof pieces before putting the roof on.
A little lesson in engineering. :)
Monday we dove into our final week of school before our Christmas work begins. It was a regular sort of day except for the fact that I had my 34 week check with my midwife, and she said that there's protein in my urine all of a sudden. My blood pressure is still very good, I'm having a break from the headaches that plagued me a few weeks ago, my swelling is minimal and normal for this stage of pregnancy. The midwife says she's not worried, but that she feels more comfortable being more watchful than usual. She switched me to weekly checkups (they were supposed to start in 2 weeks anyway) and asked me to have my husband check my blood pressure a few times this week (he's an RN) and to call her if it went up 20 points or more.
Tuesday was our homeschool group Holiday party. I ran off to Michael's first thing in the morning to take advantage of their art kit sale ($2.50 for a 100 piece art set), so we'd have some inexpensive-but-cool-gender-and-age-neutral gifts to take for the gift exchange. The kids got ready to go while I was out. We packed up some toys to take for the quiet-play area I'd volunteered to run at the party, packed up the peppermint-candy-cane brownies we'd made on Monday afternoon, wrapped and packed up the art kits, and headed off to play.
The teens/tweens quickly found an area to call their own and they talked excitedly the whole two hours. The younger kids did crafts, ate snacks, and enjoyed the gift exchange. I visited with other moms and helped my littles do what they wanted to do. It was a good social time.
As we drove home E14 sighed in satisfaction from the back seat and said, "That was just what I needed. Thanks, Mom."
Wednesday was a day of school.
I3 begs and begs for worksheets. When I try to do crafts, games, or activities for his "little kid school" he's happy as a clam until it is over. "I didn't do school!!" he wails. As soon as I print out a worksheet he's happy again. I don't know where this need has come from, but I suppose that if the purpose of preschool is to spend time with my little fellow in a way that fills his bucket, the worksheets are here to stay.
That night was the church youth white elephant gift exchange--held not at the church, but at a youth leader's home--and the younger girls' group activity of making gingerbread houses (more treats!) at the church. I also had a Relief Society Presidency meeting. All three activities were scheduled to begin and end at the same time.
Dad was at work.
It was a busy, busy, busy night of schedule juggling and driving.
Before he left for work he checked my blood pressure. It was 30 points higher than normal. Oops. I called the midwife's office. Because I'm feeling fine, we're not worrying, but I was assigned to check again the next day and call in a report.
Thursday was another day of school. The cloudy, rainy skies and barely-above-freezing temperatures made it easy to curl up under blankets with books, paper, and pencils.
My blood pressure was down 15 points. That's good.
Friday the rain stopped, the sun peeped out from behind the clouds, and the temperature got to 50 (or nearly so). At noon, as kids wound down the last of their schoolwork for the season, I called for jackets, shoes, and socks, and we headed to a park. The park was near the zoo, so we ended up at the zoo. At the zoo we ran into 4 other homeschooling families we know. That was fun! We picked up take-and-bake pizzas on the way home and ended our week having pizza with Dad.
That's a good way to end a week.
Today is Saturday--chores, grocery shopping, and the church Christmas party tonight.
We're leaving our schoolwork here:
*Next week E14 will finish her Alpha Omega LifePac High School Health course. She has 2 assignments and the final exam to take. We couldn't quite get it done this week, so it has to spill over.
*Next week E14 will also finish her Rod and Staff spelling book 5.
*She finished her first semester's reading of The Doctrine and Covenants. She'll pick up with another semester's reading when the new seminary term begins in January. She'll continue with Book of Mormon reading even over the break because daily scripture reading is part of what we do no matter what.
*She's going to take a break from all other subjects--just pausing where she is right now.
*She hit no natural stopping places in any of her subjects except geography (she finished her report) and penmanship (she finished last week), so she's just pausing where she is in all other subjects (except daily scripture reading). She's been reading Redwall for her literature journal, and it will be due back at the library (we've already maxed out our renewals) before January, so she's going to finish reading it just for fun while giving her daily journaling a rest.
*She finished typing up her novel this week--over 10,500 words.
*She finished her geography report.
*She finished her penmanship book.
*She finished her Alpha Omega LifePac Math level 3. Level 4 arrived in the mail last week--all ready to start after the holiday break
*She'll pause where she is in all other subjects (except daily scripture reading) until January.
*She finished her geography report.
*Like M12 she's not at any other natural stopping places in any other subjects (she started Saxon Math 6/5 in early December), so she'll pause (except daily scripture reading) until January.
A7, H5, I3
I'm not sure what we'll keep doing and what we'll stop doing in the coming days. It is likely that we'll pull out "school" some days because they'll ask for it, but we won't follow a formal schedule like we usually do. I'll just keep pulling out random worksheets to satisfy I3, and H5 will continue with reading practice because that's the stage she's at and is alive with discovery. I found a Learn-to-Read Bible at a thrift store for $2, and couldn't resist it. H5 loves, loves, loves it, so we've put away her Sonlight readers for a little while. If this little Bible stays our main vehicle for H5's learning to read journey, I'll be perfectly happy. So will she.
A7 only has 100 pages left in her Math book, and because we usually do 3 pages a day, she doesn't have enough left to keep her going for long. I've been thinking of having A7 do some online addition/subtraction drills during this break and through January both for fun and for mastery because the math book she's in focuses far more on higher-level critical thinking than on basic skills, and she's moving too fast (in my opinion) into higher level math.
We're going to keep doing daily devotionals each morning--for December that means singing Christmas hymn and watching inspiring Christmas videos. We'll also keep up our daily family prayer and scripture reading each night over dinner.
The countdown-to-Christmas chains the 3 littles made used to reach from ceiling to floor. Now they barely hang halfway down the wall. It is time to get serious about preparing for the big day.
Let the secrets and planning and creating begin!