Monday, April 27, 2015

A Week, Briefly (#19)

We are approaching normalcy as Baby L reaches 3 months.  (Kind of supports the "4th trimester" theory according to The Happiest Baby on the Block.  I find that interesting.)

We've had such a long break from our regular school, that we all feel like starting a new school year.  However, we all have work to finish from this school year so we're gently working our way back into where we left off.

The older girls and I are continuing with the daily read aloud time we started with Standing for Something and their hunter education manuals.  We're done with both of the above, but now we're reading from Freckles.  It is an absolute win here in our house--even the littles bring in their coloring/quiet toys to play and listen as I read.  I'm trying to gently work us from just reading/listening to actively listening/narrating so that we can turn this book into a springboard for some nature study this summer

We missed the General Women's Meeting from General Conference in March, so we're watching one talk/video a day right now.  I think we'll finish this session up tomorrow.  All of the talks have been about defending and supporting the family as a sacred institution ordained of God.  I'm really enjoying it!

We started up with daily math lessons again.
*E15 is moving forward with Calculus Without Tears.
*M13 backed up to the beginning of her Saxon 8/7 book and is redoing the practice questions for 2 chapters per day.
*S12 is moving forward in her LifePac 4 math.
*J11 is doing the practice questions in her Saxon 6/5 book for 2 chapters per day.  We have a deal that if she has trouble with any of the practice question groups that we'll slow down and give her more work from the problem sets for mastery.
*A8 is finishing up her math book.  We've been doing a few free math problems a day at IXL math, too, and I'm finding a lot more holes in the Critical Thinking Company's scope and sequence than I previously thought. (So now I'm checking out other math programs for next year.)
*H5 is finishing up the math section of her grade 1 comprehensive curriculum workbook.  I don't think it is very comprehensive, but she sure likes adding and subtracting.  :)
*I3 counts what is interesting to him, draws shapes, and generally learns appropriate mathematical principles by living as a 3-year-old should.

A8, H5, and I3 are working on another Hands of a Child unit about Pond Life.  We're visiting local ponds and just seeing what we see.  We made it to one pond last week.  I'm hoping to go back to that one and then try to see another this week.   We're reading library books about ponds, too.  They're just happy to have organized activities to do.

For morning devotionals we're singing primary songs and reading Old Testament stories aloud.

On Friday and Saturday I was able to attend a Homeschool Conference.  I hope to write more about that in order to process some of the information I felt was valuable.   M13 went with me.  She managed to find some friends with whom she attended classes and roamed the vendor hall.  We compared notes at the end of the day and found we both disliked our first classes but loved the rest of them.

While we were gone, the other kids flew kites.  H5 took pictures:


I erased at least 100 variations of this photo, but that's okay because we still have over a dozen.  The kids were able to fly the kite at the full string length. 

She's rather an experimental photographer. :)

In other news:

S12's arm is not broken after all.  The splint is off, and she's using it well.

A8 got her cast off.  The only repercussion from the waterproof cast is that her skin is sensitive to everything and is broken out in a tender rash.  A little lavender salve has helped tremendously.

Just before heading off to have the cast removed.

And I think this selfie by M13 is super cool.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Catching Up

It is too overwhelming to even begin to go through the photos and events of the past 3 or so weeks.

Baby L and I are just home from the hospital.  He is fine.  He was not so fine yesterday morning when we woke in the wee hours to find he had a temperature of over 103 degrees.  The ER measured his heart rate at over 230 bpm and his white blood count was critically high.  He underwent standard tests--urine and blood--which were so traumatic that I will never forget the look in his eyes as he lay screaming in terror on the hospital bed.  When the docs told us they needed to do a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) I took the chicken route and left the room.  A dose of IV antibiotics and 24 hours later he is well. 

I am grateful for the ability we had to seek medical attention.  I am grateful that he is well.  I am also recommitted to keeping my wait-and-see attitude whenever possible because the tests were dreadful.  To mothers of children who need lots of medical intervention, I take my hat off to you!  And I pray that God will support you.

E15 broke her arm during a soccer game.  She is in a hot pink cast.

S12 might have broken her arm at a roller-skating birthday party . . . x-rays are inconclusive.  She is in a thumb-spike splint until Wednesday when we'll return to the orthopedic clinic for further evaluation.

M13 is off crutches and wearing an ankle brace to protect her from further injury.  She is back to playing soccer after 2 weeks off.

J11 has painful plantar warts.  The podiatrist prescribed Tagamet--apparently it stimulates T-cell production which attack viruses like the ones that cause warts.  She said it works best in kids under 18, so we're hopeful it will work for our girl.

The older girls have finished their hunter education manuals, turned them in to the state conservation department, and had them returned.  They are getting excited for camp this June.

We studied frogs at a recent Explorer's Club meeting.  The little ones explored the frog lifecycle and got to visit with E15's tadpoles.  They also built a frog habitat and received supplies to build their own mini-frog ponds at home. The older kids explored interesting frog facts, anatomy, and classification.

We began reading aloud Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter.  All of the kids love it.

M13 and S12 put on a baby shower for one of their church youth leaders.  It was a success. :)

We tried to work on math for several days, but the medical issues took over.

The sun has come out, so the kids are spending increasing time out of doors.  I'm hoping to join them and encourage some nature studies.

There's more, but I'm too tired to remember it all.  My PPD meds are working, and I am filled with joy each day at the life I am living.  I'm a little confused as to why we're having so many medical issues, and I'll be researching what I can do to improve our general health, but I'm not discouraged or defeated.  I can look at a sunrise and breathe a prayer of gratitude . . . and I do the same every time I look at my husband, my children, and especially the beautiful roly-poly body of Baby L.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mom--At Home

 Stuck in the van, there wasn't much else for me to do but think.

I was at E15's soccer game on a very, very, very windy afternoon.  E15 was on the field.  M13, S12, and J11 were camped out on the sidelines watching the game.  A8, H5, and I3 were on the playground next to the van (hoorah for that playground!!!!).  I'd already bundled up Baby L and tried to take him outside, but the wind was too fierce for him.  If I covered him completely, he cried.  If I opened the blanket even a peep, the wind rushed into his face, sucking away his breath.  We lasted less than a minute, retreating to the safety of the van for the duration of the game. 

We were perfectly parked for me to watch the game from the van's front window and watch the little ones playing from the side windows, but Baby L and I were cut off from everyone else.  We could see but not hear.  We were warm but alone. 

Baby L nursed and fell asleep.  I was glad he was content.  I cuddled him close and enjoyed feeling his breath on my chest.

At the same time I wanted to be outside in the wild wind.  I wanted to run, jump, holler, and feel the energy of the outdoors.  I wanted to cheer with the crowd for the team and push my littles on the swings.  I wanted to feel vigorously alive!

That was not the first time I have felt pulled in two directions.

When my oldest ones were all small, the only way they could play outside was if I took them out.  That meant that at some point every day I put aside my housework and played outside with them.  I remember thinking how great it would be when they were old enough to go outside on their own while I got the housework finished so that our home was both happy and orderly--instead of one or the other.

Time passed.  The oldest ones got old enough to go outside without me, and they could watch the little ones, too.  It was just what I'd wished for years before, but while I was inside completing household chores I remember feeling somewhat left out.  Now I wished I had the excuse of needing to watch them so that I could abandon my work and experience the sun and fresh air, too.  But our family had grown and so had the amount of work to be done.

(The kids have always done chores; there was just more for me to get done, too.)

As I sat in the van musing over these memories, A8, H5, and I3 left the playground to climb into the van.  Their cheeks were ruddy with cold, their eyes bright with joy, their hair mussed from the wind.  They were chilled and thirsty.  Their arrival brought energy and life to the quiet, slightly stuffy van.  Their excited talking tumbled over and around me, enveloping me in their vibrance.  They drank water; they ate carrot sticks; they warmed their bodies.  Then their older sisters left the sidelines of the game to play at the park, and out of the van tumbled three small bodies, lured back to the wild outside by what novelties the presence of older kids promised.

I3 came back to the van a few moments later because he'd fallen and hurt his hands.  I kissed his owies, and he ran off.

H5 came back for more water.

J11 came back to warm up.

And suddenly I realized how good it was to be in the van. 

The van and I were a safety, a home base for the kids.  With me in the van, they were free to play, to explore, to experiment, to go forth with confidence, knowing always that I was waiting for them, ready to listen, to minister, to nourish in preparation for the next round of adventure.

This is my season for indoor adventures.  My babies have consistently been homebodies.  They need routine and familiar surroundings to be happy.  To give my babies what they need means that I stay home with them (or at least turn the van into a home-y place). 

By keeping home I allow my other children the privilege of sallying forth to test their abilities while knowing they may return to a safe haven when they need it.

I have had seasons of outside adventure in the past.  Someday new seasons will arrive.  For now, though, I will keep home.

When I keep this perspective, I am grateful for the privilege.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I'm Gonna Win This Battle . . . Somehow

I have 2 sticky places on my cheeks--placed there by a mandarin-orange-eating-3-year-old who wanted to kiss me while he was eating his breakfast this morning.

On my bed lies a 2 month old roly-poly beautiful baby boy sleeping after a successful nursing session.

Two little girls are moving through their morning routines, pausing to greet me and ask me questions as they feed the guinea pig and/or pour their own milk for breakfast.

One medium-sized girl is reading on her bed.

My husband and 3 oldest are at the temple, sharing spiritual experiences of eternal importance.

It rained this morning, and the sun is coming out; the lawn and woods are an astonishing emerald green.

I have an exquisitely beautiful life.

I know this with every rational part of my mind.

But, in spite of medication, I am lost in a fog that both infuriates and frightens me.

I have questions--
Do I need a higher dose of meds?
Do I simply need exercise and better eating habits? (Without doubt, these would help, but in my current mental state I just cry when I think of the work involved in getting started.)
Should I consult a mental-health professional?
Should I confide in a trusted spiritual leader?
Should I wait it out?

I was doing quite well for a while, but then some disappointing news threw me for a loop, and I can't figure out how to rise above it and get hold of the faith that I know is somewhere within.

I am frustrated because I KNOW I am blessed; I KNOW I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who holds me firmly and lovingly even (especially) when life gets hard; I KNOW I am surrounded by daily miracles.

But instead of feeling gratitude I feel rather as if I'm missing something--as if I've been denied an invitation to a party to which everyone else has been invited.

That's a sadly self-pitying and selfish way to feel.

I prefer a state of gratitude.


How do I get that back?

I have a hunch it has something to do with this idea:

"When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."

So, I KNOW I am blessed, and I will hold to that until I feel it permeate every fiber of my being.  I have felt so before, and I will feel so again.