May 17, 2013

(For future reference) Check point

Half the days, I wonder if we should be doing any school really at all. Mcclellan, 6 and Verity, 4 and Noam, 2. Bastion, 8 weeks. Half the days, school is really fun and we actually do learn a lot and I wonder if the not-so days are just stepping stones to get to these great, learning days. Half the days, I think "school time" is mostly for me. Yes that's three halves. Never doubt if I'm qualified to teach.

At the moment, we try to do phonics and math, in some form, every day. Mcclellan is finishing up First Start Reading from Memoria, while Verity is struggling with reading (really? She's 4) in the middle of the third of the four FSR books. Plans next include Explode the Code in 1 1/2 for V and level 3 for M. In the meantime, we read, read, read and visit the library weekly for more to read. And I need to get V back on Bob books.

"Social studies" and science include a fun Geography book that I'll happily do again when Noam gets there. Exploring Creation with Astronomy, as it was highly recommended by friends and is published by Apologia where we will eventually go for higher science. Nature walks and journaling. Which doubles as art!

Math. Saxon 1, lesson 67/130. I struggle with the rigmarole each lesson puts you through (seriously, we would spend ALL day on math) if we did calendar and meeting every day! So we do the core lesson and worksheets and that's about all we can take. To break it up, we do the fun, colorful K Horizons every other day. Also, we just started Life of Fred (Apples), which is "mathy" but more fun than anything. There is work at the end of each chapter so it counts, right?

Otherwise, we do some letter of the week stuff, for Noam and to get some unit study type stuff in there. We're also memorizing Scripture and hymns every week, reading devotions twice a day (breakfast and before bed), and just started quiet time with God, a.k.a. solo devotions (which are mostly for me, but I do spend a fair amount of time reading N and V's devos of choice).

Things I'd like to do more of? Art and crafting. They spend sooo much of their free time cutting and pasting, coloring and drawing and just doing paper crafts that I don't want to put too much more free art time in there. They do love paint though. I'd also like to be able to plan time for them to do their own specific share of chores. Laundry is ongoing and they sort, fold, and put away their own. Even N can get it to his room at least. And history. Not quite sure how to work that big chunk in yet. Thinking about Mystery of History and I think I've ruled out Story of the World, for now anyway. We're definitely finding ways to fill the time in our days. I did give the lecture, "We can't just play ALL day long!" And of course, when the weather is nice we just go outside. Thank you, Charlotte Mason!

May 9, 2013

On Bastion

Bastion Thaxted was born, 2 days late mind you forevermore, on March 22. Why I hold that mini-grudge against my overbaked ones? I don't know. Yes, yes I do. It's very uncomfortable going right up to due dates, let alone over. Especially when the previous two came blessedly early!

But that's neither here nor there.

Because two days late or two weeks early, this birth was the easiest and most prepared-for, beyond a doubt. Score! At one point, I even confessed to Nicole that this seemed way too easy, something must be wrong. She just said, No you're just doing a very good job. Something about knowing the pain and intensity that you're in for apparently makes you more prepared to receive it. And being overdue. You just get giddy to get it done with! Ok, maybe not giddy. But well-prepared indeed.

At about 2:30 am, I felt a great, bonafide contraction. Not just a niggling B-H. A real contraction! So for about 3 hrs, I logged them, slept in between and kept praying that they'd keep coming. Around 5, I woke up Daddy. Daddy Matt, you're fourth baby will be here today. Then I texted two of my bests and told them today would be the day, yay!

Needless to say, things progressed well. The bigs were excited to wake up at 8 am, and find out their newest brother would be here today. We all ate eggs and toast (this homebirth business, its a great thing) and continued on our baby-bringing trajectory. Nicole arrived about 7:30, ready to do this thing.

Side note, TENS unit. Amazing. If not pain numbing, definitely distracting. Never got to use one with Verity and Noam, both being under 3 hours of labor. When all was said and done Bastion was about 8 hours. But TENS unit, about as useful as the birthing tub.

Nadah arrived around 9:30 to help catch, along with Jill to help watch biggens. Noam floated in and out of the hoopla in the living room. Verity got in the birthing tub with me once, tolerated it for about 5 minutes and then declared it was too hot and asked if she could get out. Little lobster legs, she had. That water is always so pleasantly scalding. Unless you're birthing Noam 2 weeks early and run out of hot water and resort to boiling atop the stove.

I digress...

I promptly enlisted the well-seasoned help of Nadah (doula, massage-therapist extraordinaire of 25 years that she is- loaning me her signed copy of Spiritual Midwifery, and all!), to suggest some productive positions and helpful vocalizations so as not to thrash my vocal cords like last time. Deep groans and moans we had. No, not very attractive, but oh-so helpful! Honestly, my midwife team, along with super-awesome Jill as kid-wrangler made that day not only down-to-business, but actually enjoyable. I stop at enjoyable, lest I say the word "fun." Labor? Fun? Well, kinda. So excited to meet my littlest.

Nicole was so gentle and knew to give me plenty of space and time. Nadah was very verbally encouraging, and wow, super strong hands. She held me and massaged me in some of the best ways I've ever experienced during labor. Jill, fun to expose her to the business of homebirth. Her joy in witnessing was in turn a joy and blessing to me!

And, Matt. Of course, Matt. His strong hands and body did more than anyone else could have dreamed. In labor...And other ways, of course. What?

He continues to be my necessity, my focal point during a birth of one his babies. I can't make it through a contraction without him close by. He takes some serious abuse as he squeezes my hips, pushes me for support during contractions, and receives a lethal hand grasp or two. He takes on labor in ways I assume most husbands/dads don't get to experience. Let's all say it together one more time: "Ahh, homebirth!"

My water actually broke, for once! One of the midwives said, something like Ah, your water just broke and I was slightly let down. I was already in the tub, so I didn't even really notice. Once I got in the water, I was ready for work. I'm a pusher. None of this "wait to be fully dilated." Besides, doesn't pushing help with dilation anyway? So, push I did. The tub was awesome as always. So warm, so supportive. Seriously. One of the team. I went through various positions to find somewhere comfortable and productive to help push. I found myself squatting when it came time for the big head push. Never having done a delivery in squat, I wasn't quite sure where to go or how to get through it but Nicole did remind me after Bastion's head was out, "Don't sit on your baby's head!" Seriously, I needed that. I didn't know exactly where in space and time I was. I held on for a minute, with Bastion's little head hanging out before I delivered him with the next contraction. Control, that was. I'm gonna say it, it was ridiculous and amazing to just sit there, not go crazy and scream, and just wait. Wait for the next moment for my body to just do its thing. So when it came, I capitalized and it was all over.

Nicole kinda pushed Bastion toward me while he was still underwater and shouted, "Grab your baby!" Me? I was like, Whaaa...? So Matt pulled tiny baby body up and out. Baby boy!

He was born dragging his amniotic sac behind him (weird), cord wrapped twice, and crazy snuffly in the nose. Nicole actually gave him a bit of oxygen to help out, since his little nostrils were flaring so much. In the end, he was fine, nursed like a champing champion (strongest sucker yet!), the placenta was is excellent condition, and he worked up to an Apgar of 10.

The kid weighs over 15 lbs. now, at almost 8 weeks.

Me? Longest postpartum recovery EVER! Not only did I have an immediate hemorrhage the day of the birth, I had remnants of the amniotic sac left behind that did weird things to my recovery. I was never in any real "danger" but Nicole did give me a tincture of angelica and eventually, Cytotec to help control the bleeding. Which it did. After about 4 days though, I decided I was ready to help Matt with burning trees. Opened up a new bleed and Nicole had me on bed rest/ultra-light duty for a week. THAT was rough. But, no pain anyway really this time, just a huge dose of patience and healing. I guess I'm not 25 anymore! This was my first baby in my 30's and I felt it! Finally, by the time Matt went back to work, over 2 weeks after the birth, I felt mostly myself again. And oh so nice to lose the baby weight rapidly again. I love the high-calorie nursing weight loss diet!

In the meantime, we've been schooling still, trying to get out and spend time in the last few weeks of spring, and getting to our newest little. Sure, of course there are challenges inherent to having 4 kids. Of course we "stay busy." But seriously, its been great, we feel so confident with our newborn that we've been able to enjoy him in ways never done before. The siblings are all wonderful with him, reading, singing, sharing with him and its a joy to witness. Bastion takes so much more life in in a 24-hr period than his siblings did when they were new. We're all enjoying lots of new baby snuggling, moments of peaceful nursing, and sweet smiles and sounds from such a little human. So blessed to be witnessing his growing up so fast already! Soon, very soon, he will be almost 20 like Mcclellan is. Oy, this life we live! So much of it! I say. Blessed.

July 5, 2012

Independence Day 2012




Early morning Fourth breakfast on the deck!
Daddy made pancakes, Mama did the sausage, everyone devoured.
Poor girl burned her finger (to a blister!) on a still-hot smoke bomb. Sad. She needed the largest ice pack we had in the freezer.
She rallied to go to the fireworks party later in the evening.
 
Brothers!
Such good friends.
 
Tutorial on how to pull a party popper. The kids took this very seriously. (So did Josh)

Verity was very concerned about Coco and her trepidation about fireworks.
"Its okay, Coco."
 
At some point Josh got ahold of my camera and got one of me! Sweet! Rare.
 Getting late. Getting dark
Watching Daddy get a sky lantern ready.

Everyone in awe of the sky lantern. Great finale!

Happy Fourth! "Independence, freedom, liberty," words frequently spoken here. Anthems, marches, and patriotic tunes, frequently hummed.

Can't Reach

Do you see my cup of fresh, hot coffee over there? Too bad I set it down before I fell into my chair. Now I'm too tired to get up and go get it.


July 4, 2012

Hitting Home

"You've really done an amazing job with what you've got," a friend consoled me when I mentioned, "The kitchen alone will make no one want to buy our house." Even last night, when we were measuring rooms, Matt said, "Eight by eight? There's no way we can list those dimensions," and I suggested we just include the completely adjacent dining room and list the measurement as "kitchen plus dining area."

It's been a struggle, to love this house. This house that, when we bought it, we were excited to be moving from western Kansas to the east. We were both in our 20's and had a tiny, grey thing-of-a-dog. And Matt's exciting new job relocation was enough to force us into touring eastern Kansas and viewing literally a hundred houses before deciding this was the one.

This? This house, somewhere between "too expensive" and "too far" apparently was what not only were we for some reason comfortable with, but inevitably where God wanted us to be. "For three to five years," we consoled ourselves. Three to five.

That was in very new and early 2006.

The size of your house really does have nothing to do you with the size of your life. While I was reading these words this morning, I was dumbfounded by the Lisa-Jo's amazing similarity in experience. "My house is too small to entertain...to be hospitable." Yep, been there. There were two nearly newly marrieds and a cute dog filling up this space six years ago. Here we are, going 5 strong. The rooms that were devoid of beds and furniture have housed space to bring two new lives to life. We're familiar with filling up the nooks and crannies.

But not just with "stuff" as we often lament. With life.

I still have dreams about the duplex I grew up in. It was smaller than the place we live in now. I don't remember it being uncomfortable or too small (maybe my parents do). I remember all the closets we would hide and play in. The exact positions of the beds in our bedrooms. The little alcove in my bedroom with a window that looked out to the porch. Our dirt-mess of a desert backyard, and how hot-air balloons used to launch and fly right over our yard. The century plants, the big bench swing, the wide iron gate that closed off the car-port. Our washer and dryer in the garage (how did my mom...?)! The linoleum and the giant hanging fluorescent light in the kitchen and where the breakfast cereal was stored. Memories. My childhood. My parents' twenties and thirties.

Our house has been "too small" by our standards ("too big" by the world's standards, I'm sure) and we've acquired quite a few things in six years to fill our too-small space. But about 3 years ago, after selling our house only to lose the deal to the market crash of 2008, and subsequent failed listings, I made up my mind to stop praying that "God get us out of here as soon as possible!" and just focus on the blessings. The life we've made here.

I will miss the well-known path of squeaks and squawks down the hallway to the kids' bedrooms that I've memorized for midnight and nap walking. The spot in the bigs' bunk-bedded room where Verity was born. And likewise, the place in our bedroom where the birthing tub sat as Noam was shot into the world. Navigating the baby room in the dark and the way it looks with the nightlight against the shadows. I will miss the intimate knowledge we have of the ceilings, sub-flooring, siding, drywall construction, and plumbing that we've updated and worked on in the past. I'll miss the kids' familiarity with their spaces and places they love to occupy. I wonder what kinds of dreams and memories they'll have of this place when they're grown.

At any rate, we've come to admire and respect this space of our home. Its not been easy, but would someone with a 3000 square foot mansion admit that filling and using their space was "easy?" Its different, but no less difficult. I've prayed for peace that I'd be comfortable and actually love our home.

So, why is the impending listing of the house also a hopeful and happy move? Not only are we extremely ready to spread our wings and family into more square footage, or consider the opportunities and possibilities with more land, we are ready to turn this space that we've made over to another family. To bless them. Of course, to say goodbye and move on, Lord willing, but also to have had this time that we'll be able to look back and say with honesty, "I miss that house on Greenwood Park."

July 3, 2012

And then this happened...

Make that 7 moments!

Top 5 Best Moments in the Garden


(Noam's 6 am wakings have finally inspired me to capitalize on the solo time alone with my youngest plus the cool summer mornings before the thermometer hits 100. The garden depends on the am watering...I've already lost all my pea plants due to my watering neglect.)

For today:
1. I spied a large, tan grasshopper flut its beautiful black wings with orange tips across from my onions to the pumpkins. And decided it must die...

2. Turning around to watch the rooster while watering beans, I laughed when I saw Noam exposing his tummy to the rooster and pointing to his bellybutton. "See? Rooster, I have one of these!"

(It was at this point, that the hopper flew from the pumpkins over to the discarded broccoli plants. And I kept an eye on him. I snatched him up after the watering, flicked him into the chicken coop, and watched the carnage ensue. I thought for sure Rooster was just going to play with it and dissect it limb from limb. I walked away, not wanting to see the hopper's gruesome end, but muttering to myself, "One less hopper in my garden." Glancing over a few moments later, I saw a hen was picking at the hopper and devouring it. At least he's a gentleman, I thought to myself about our cantankerous rooster.)

3. 300 pumpkin blossoms means nothing other than that I will have 300 pumpkins, right? And beautiful bees of assorted colors and sizes. I think there are at least three different species of bees all over the flowers every morning. Yes.

4. Noam's at the delightful age where he is just so happy to not only understand the directions I give him, but he's able to follow them. "Noam, go up the steps." "Noam, hold Mama's finger." "Noam, don't stick your fingers in the coop, Rooster will bite you." Delightful.


5. On the way back up to the house, Noam was perturbed by a spider web with a spider clinging to it across his path. He broadly swept his arms at it, as if to say, "Get out here you bold, bad spider!" (see, the Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, B. Potter). I just thought it was cute.


Oh, and then we came in for some peanut butter toast. He fairly crammed it into his little mouth. Here is one shot, wearing his toast like a beard...

Make that top six moments in the garden...and the ten minutes thereafter.









June 25, 2012

Doing what you want to do (Impossible?)

It's pretty awesome when your headstrong 5 y.o. exclaims, "I don't understand why I don't do what I want to do!" This, during a disciplinary talk, in reference to his wanting to be kind to his sibs but complete and utter INABILITY! Mcclellan (really all three of 'em) has had a certain lacking in sensitivity and listening skills when it comes to siblings lately. We have the 2nd commandment of Jesus  (Luke 10:27, Matthew 7:12) down as a general rule. They can recite it to you: "Do to others as you would have them do to you". It's really easy to spit out at the kids when they're especially needing to hear it. Wallop on your brother? 2nd commandment, buddy. Screaming in anger? "Would you want someone to do that you?" Easy, right?

Then comes the discipline talk part where he looks me square in the eye, albeit a little trepidatiously, and says, "But I like to keep (doing whatever I was doing even when she was screaming 'Stop!')." And my heart sank and it broke not only because he was so wantonly unkind to his sister, but because I know he is a slave to total depravity (Romans 6:20) even in his limited, naive, preschooler life. Condemned. A sinner. Completely depraved.

Then, as we were talking I was hit with a ton of bricks when he pretty much verbatim recited Romans 7:15 to me: "I do not understand what I do!" He gets frustrated when I always ask him, after a discussion, or a layout of the law, "Do you understand?" And I know he does; "I understand, hitting is wrong," or "I understand, those were unkind words." So when he finally, exasperated, exclaimed, "I don't understand why I don't do what I want to do!" I was taken aback. We had just finished talking about the fact that yes, he does love his sister. Yes, he does understand the 2nd commandment. Yes, he knows that when someone says "Stop," it means "Stop," not "Keep on walloping on me." The same wrestling with sin and will that the apostle Paul experienced and forever so eloquently delineated, my 5-year-old is experiencing this day. And it became immediately clear to me that Mcclellan had just unearthed the theology of total depravity. Wow.

We wrapped up, met with restored hearts and exited the discipline arena; apologies and "I love yous" were exchanged, as well as a noodle-arm handshake. Then I pulled out God's word. "No way, he's going to even hear it," I thought to myself as we turned to Romans 7 and I read verses 7-25. He was amazed that Romans 7:15 delineated pretty much exactly what he himself had just said. And I when I read verse 18, he stopped me and said, "That's exactly what you just told me!" (from discipline discussion). I kept reminding myself as I was reading, and Verity was coloring, and Noam and Mcclellan were playing with parts of a liquid meds syringe (clean! Come on!), "It's okay...just keep going...God's word is powerful even to childish minds..." And after all that law and sin talk, Mcclellan stopped what he was doing and watched me as I read verses 24 and 25.
Me: (vs 24) "What a wretched [person] I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
*pause*
*pause*
*pause*
Verity: God!
Mcclellan: Forgiveness! For sins! From Jesus!
Me: (vs 25) "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Bam! Hit him hard with some gospel and all is right with the world again. While we love our Law around these parts, we try really hard to present an equal, if not slightly heavier, dose of Gospel. Its a lesson I've really been conscientious about in my own life, that I'm recognizing the need for this perspective in my Christian children's lives as well.

Its not about me.

God, help me from being a "me-ist". It is so easy to become entrenched in our own self-sufficiency, self-worth, accomplishments, and pride in a job well done. Especially as Americans (but I don't want to go all political on ya!). Echoes of 1 Cor. 13, right before the famous Love section, verses 1-3. But even beyond that, should we think that our love, or our kindness or righteousness is all we need for a job well done, remember 2 Cor. 12:9. Do we boast in ourselves? No! In our weaknesses, in our failure to uphold the Law. Were it not for our failure (and constant, consistent failure!) we'd not recognize our need for the Savior (back to Romans 7). Only in our weakness, do we realize God's sufficient grace. Only there, in our failure, is Christ's power made perfect. Boast gladly about my failures; lift Him up. Less of me and more of Christ, right?

There, is where I want our kids to find grace. Not in their jobs well done for my sake, or a willingness to please others for the sake of pride or accomplishment, or even for the sake of avoiding chastisement or disapproval. But in lifting up Christ, where "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Phil. 2:13). They will abound in good works because it is His will to abound grace to them (2 Cor. 9:8). As a parent, its a load off to know that while presenting the law of the land (from the tangible, "No hitting," to the spiritual, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind") is necessary and our duty as parents (ever popular Eph. 6:1-4, Heb. 12:11), its the Lord, who by His grace, will enable them to do good.

And, finally, that its for His glory: "What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever (WSC. Q. & A. 1)."

So, to answer the question in the title: Impossible? Absolutely. Yes. Impossible. (Phil. 4:13, Matt. 19:26)

March 30, 2012

70 and Sunny

Man, since its March (!?) and all, its been time to hit the sprinklers, water guns, water balloons and pools. Right? After our freakishly warm winter, summer has already sprung 3 months early! I kid you not, as soon as that thermometer hits 70, my children require sandals and tank tops. Mcclellan asks me each morning, "Is it going to be hot again today?" I haven't clued him in yet that 70 in March is NOT HOT (wait til July, boy!) and that yes, its okay to wear a swimsuit at 8 in the morning.

Today's water weapon of choice was "water bombs," as they're called around here.


And just because it's cute, baby + dandelion.


Nature Love: defined

From One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp...

"Is worship why I've run for the moon? Not for lunar worship, but for True Beauty worship, worship of Creator Beauty Himself. God is present in all the moments, but I do not deity the wind in the pines, the snow falling on the hemlocks, the moon over harvested wheat. Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is very different than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it is here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all his glory, through the looking glass of nature."