Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

Today was Leap Day, an extra day in the year, and I did nothing. Well, next to nothing, because we are all sick with bad colds and sore throats. So we didn't do more than Bible for school and whatever the kids did on the computer. I'll check tomorrow to see if they did anything, when I hope to feel better. I didn't sew, knit, or crochet. I didn't clean, other than to clear off the table for supper and help Mr. I sop up the juice he spilled twice. Yes, he spilled juice twice in one day. The kids are more accident prone when Mommy is sick, and even more so when they aren't feeling well. It kind of throws them for a loop to see me horizontal. I did cook supper, an enchilada casserole, for the crew and loaded the dishwasher once, but I didn't do laundry. I helped Ms. D walk the neighbor dogs part of the way, but I went straight to the sofa and watched a movie right after I came in. I didn't use this extra day in the year for much of anything productive. And that's OK. Because tomorrow will be a new day. And I hope the rest I had today will help me to heal. And if I'm not better, I might just have another unproductive day. Well, except for laundry. We have a lot of towels that have juice on them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Skype & Grandson = Joy

What did grandparents do before Skype?

Our family is passing around a cold and last week the kids had strep, so we've been avoiding contact with my grandson. We don't want to spread the illness to him. But at the same time, we miss the little guy. This is where Skype comes in. We can't snuggle and kiss his little cheek, but we can see him play, toddle around, and try out his latest smiles and baby talk. I am so thankful that we can see him, yet not infect him. I think about how technology has helped us to stay connected to loved ones all around the world. Missionaries can see their grandchildren, soldiers can talk to their kids, families and friends that are separated by distance can still stay in contact. It isn't anything like the nineteenth century when people would never see their loved ones again after emigrating two thousand miles away. We are so blessed!




Monday, February 27, 2012

Your Friend is My Friend and My Friend is Your Friend!

Sometimes I have connections with people and I don't even know it!

Tonight I went to another homeschool network meeting in our area. A friend emailed me with some information on a women's praise and worship night. I made sure I went, with all that is going on in our life. When things get crazy all around me, the only one that keeps me centered and on my feet is God, the solid rock. And I knew deep down that I needed this night to remind me who is in control, because I sure am not!

The worship was wonderful. The scripture in Isaiah 54 gave me hope. The prayer for me reminded me that I can have peace because God is the foundation of our household.

But do you know what was really fun?
...Finding out that some of the women there were good friends with some of my good friends, yet I had never met them until today. I almost met one a couple of days ago, but she couldn't walk with my friend. Another had seen my picture on Facebook yesterday while looking for a neighbor with the same name, and wondered why I seemed to know so many of her friends.

It's awesome to see connections like this! It shows me how God delights in surprising us. And it shows me that I am not alone in this life. There are people out there who are just one connection away who can be a blessing to me, and I to them.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spring Planting

That our yard has got out of hand this winter is an understatement!

I've just been so busy with health things, and kid things, and laundry, and dishes, and...

My yard and garden have suffered.

Fortunately, things don't grow quite so quickly in the winter, even in California, so I have hope I can get things somewhat under control.  This week I've been able to pull a few weeds, mow our little patch of lawn, and cut down some more palm branches. The last few days have been beautiful, yesterday even hitting eighty degrees. Today it isn't so hot, but it is the perfect temperature to do some heavy work. Hubby isn't supposed to overdo it yet because of his surgery, so I chopped out a dead grape vine and then planted two kiwi plants.

 Grape Vine I Chopped Out 

Ms. D wanted me to promise not to carry any more "trees" in the Prius. We went to the fruit and vegetable store yesterday. Ms. D wanted to finish listening to a song in the car, so I told her I'd look in the garden store next to us. It was a beautiful day to go to a garden store, the kind of day that it is pretty dangerous to go to a garden store, especially when we have little room for any more plants! Well, I was wanting to replace the grapevines with kiwis. I'm not sure what killed the grapes and don't want whatever killed them to do the same to any new grapes I would plant. I really liked having vines growing over our back patio in the summer. It's a lot cooler there with a green canopy. I saw the kiwis, both male and female, and decided to bring them home right then...in the Prius...and they are about eight feet tall.  The kiwis barely fit, but we were able to arrange them so that the tips kept brushing up against Ms. D. I think I embarrassed her a bit! It's really easy to embarrass a 13 year old, isn't it? But it is so hard to find both male and female kiwis at the same time, they won't pollenate otherwise, so I needed to act fast.

So anyway, I'm pretty happy that I planted the kiwis within a day of bringing them home. Nothing is worse than to pay for a plant, only to get so busy that it never makes in the ground. The yard is still a mess, even with the work I've done. But I've started to clean things up, the weather is nice, and it's good to be outside.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Detective Work

I am realizing how much detective work I need to do with the younger kids. One doesn't express her feelings or can really describe problems in a helpful way. Yesterday she was angry at a friend. I asked her what happened and why wasn't she speaking to her. She either couldn't, or wouldn't. That's what makes it hard, since my response and what I say to her depends on the information I can glean. Is this a time to teach about how to treat others kindly, or was her friend doing something wrong and should have been avoided? Did Ms. D misinterpret nonverbal communication, blow things out of proportion, or is she making a good judgement? Was she mimicking a sassy TV program, spacing out, or not communicating well herself? Or was she keeping herself out of trouble? Sometimes I really don't know. One of Ms. D's friends had once texted some inappropriate things to a boy. Ms. D wouldn't talk to the girl for awhile. When I asked why hadn't her friend come to our house for a few days, Ms. D only said she was mad at the girl. I found out through someone else what the real problem was. Situations like these make it really hard to discern what is the real issue.

With Mr. I, the detective work today has been in the area of his health. He has strep throat, which he hid from me while he was wanting to play yesterday. Then, in the evening, his throat hurt horribly. This afternoon he was feeling better so I let him go outside in the warm sun. He walked backwards and fell, hitting his head on the sidewalk. I had to use a lot of detective work to figure out how badly he was hurt, since a small injury can seem to him to be the worst injury ever, while a bad injury is ignored. His tolerance to pain has almost no correlation to the seriousness of the injury, but is more dependent on who he is with, what is his mood, and whether he is stressed about something else or not. He'll complain about a scratch for hours and days, yet has tried to hide a cut that needed stitches.

I guess all of this makes me more dependent on God. Because only God knows what is going on with my kids sometimes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Strep Again???!!!

Mr. I came up to me this evening and told me he had a sore throat. I looked and saw that he had a spot on his tonsils. I had thought we were in the clear with the strep since it had been a bit over a week since Ms. D had it. I called the advice nurse and she ordered antibiotics. I'm so thankful we didn't have to wait for another strep test and Mr. I could start the medicine in a little over an hour, instead of thirty. Hopefully he won't be as miserable as his sister was. He doesn't do illness or pain well.

There's something else that is troubling me. I had to pick up the antibiotic at the hospital pharmacy, since it was late in the evening. As I was driving into the parking lot, I started to cry. I guess all the hospital visits are starting to get to me.

Happy 22nd Birthday!

Yesterday was Blackbelt Daughter's birthday. She is the youngest of my bio kids. It's kind of strange to think she's 22. I'm so proud of her. She's studying to be an elementary school teacher and also teaches Taekwando. She's the one I can be silly with. Yesterday we sang in the house at the top of our lungs, pinching our noses to see if we sang from our chest or our head.

To celebrate her birthday, we went out to our neighborhood Chinese place. She didn't want a cake. I think she's a bit tired of cake because her boyfriend's birthday is the day before hers. I'm glad, because I ate too much food again and I know if there was cake around, I'd eat it.

Being Silly by Putting Bow on Her Head

Modeling a Possible English Wedding Headpiece
Birthday Sunset Painted by God

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Art and Yo-Yo Ma, What a Combination!

I love art. I love music. And this video has got to be one of the most interesting things I've seen in quite awhile. I posted this on my Facebook page, but am realizing that it's getting harder to look at again and again from there. I'm posting it here so if I need to de-stress, I can listen, watch, and enjoy. If you want, you can too.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Blessings

Today was a day of blessings.

We got our state income tax back so we were able to pay the federal taxes today.
Hubby is slowly feeling better and was able to almost finish a computer program for a university in Nicaragua in about a day or so.

The kids played with their friends and walked to the local McDonald's with a group of friends without incident. Mr. I was a bit dysregulated today, but calmed down considerably later in the day.

Hubby and I took a computer to the Apple store. They replaced a battery that was swelling and fixed the body of the computer in about 15 minutes. This is the same store that I had to wait an hour to be helped before, even with an appointment. They fixed the computer in record time and for free.

While we were out we got a call to pick up a bunch of perishable donated food and we were able to bless a number of families. It has been fun to bring the food to those who are struggling and to other churches to distribute.

Grandson and family came for a visit. We were able to see him walk, chatter, and be his wonderful, sweet self! I always love having them over!

We dropped some food over to the birth family fairly late tonight. Since it is near the end of the month, it was greatly appreciated. They also know others in need, so they will be able to bless them. We talked about God providing and our dependence on Him for everything. We stayed about an hour, but had to leave because of bed time. Our kids go to sleep much earlier than they are used to.

Kids With Birthmom and Little Cousins

So today was a day of blessings. Things went smoothly and God provided in so many ways.
We are so blessed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Grieving Anger and Thankfulness...At the Same Time

Anger:

Right now I'm pretty angry at the school system for missing Ms. D's MR. I mean, how can someone trained in education and special ed. either ignore or be so completely clueless about the problems she was having in school? The teacher saw it. But she was cowed, just like I was, to work with Ms. D in the classroom and not bother to test her until she was one to two years behind. It just costs too much to do the testing. I had been telling her teachers for years that she had FAS. Her first grade teacher, who told me she had worked in special ed before, said that Ms. D couldn't be MR because she wasn't consistent in her gaps. Well, that's the nature of FASD. The damage to the brain is influenced by the amount, frequency, time of pregnancy, and other factors like hereditary, smoking, and health of the mother. Different parts of the brain develop at different parts of the pregnancy. That's why Ms. D has such a wide range in her IQ! Duh! I am so upset right now that I have half a mind to go to the school and tell them a thing or two! Of course, school is out for a week for winter break. Which is probably a good thing. I'm grieving, and I'm not really thinking straight. I want people to be aware of the damage of alcohol on a baby, but I don't want to unleash the momma bear on unsuspecting people.

Thankfulness:

I just read a blog that was wise and encouraging. Greg Lucas talked about seven helpful insights that helped him and his family who have someone who is disabled. While I don't agree with everything the man said, and I'll let you figure what I disagree with, he has such good counsel and encouragement for me right now. One of the things he was talking about was the effect of having a child with a disability on the siblings. And I agree whole heartedly! I see the compassion that my older kids have which is so unusual for young adults in our community. I don't always catch everything they do. But I have glimpses here and there. I see how they respond to my younger ones, I see them slip some money to a missionary, I see them treat the elderly with respect and children with kindness and love. I see them make choices in their careers, in their finances, in their time, and in everyday choices to put others in front of themselves. I see God working through them in such a quiet, humble way. I am so thankful!

I'm grieving, but at the same time I'm seeing God's hand in all of this. I hurt. But I am comforted. I know God will work all this to His Glory and I will be blessed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Diaper Cover

I made a diaper cover for the shower today. I'm getting pretty fast at it now, even with my finicky sewing machine. I couldn't find my pattern for a cover, but I found one for a diaper, so I modified that. I used some really cute PUL with turtles, fish, and frogs on it, white fold over elastic, and Velcro. I'm now in the mood for sewing after taking a break because of all the family drama. I'd really like to make more baby things for young moms. Cloth diapering is so much easier now than when I had babies. And it's so good for the pocketbook and the environment.


The baby shower was for my daughter-in-law's sister. There was so much good Asian food! I think I ate way too much! It was so good to see how good of a job my daughter-in-law did organizing the shower. I'm so proud of her!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Time For a Little Sewing

Today I had a bit of time to sew. Not too much, because we were trying to catch up with a little school work, but enough for a baby shower tomorrow. Nothing like waiting for the last minute to finish something!

I made a changing pad and a wet bag for diapers. The bag was much easier than I would think. I just had to make a long rectangle out of PUL, be sure the zipper was put on the right way, sew up the sides, and turn it right side out.

The changing pad was just flannel on one side and Pul on the other. I put the two pieces right sides together, sewed the seams, turned it right side out, and topstitched all around to close the opening and to finish it off.

Wet Bag and Changing Pad

This evening, as I was dropping off Mr. I at a friend's house, I saw a neighbor shine his car. I told him that if he made it any shinier, I would be blinded by the glare! He told me that he was getting it ready to sell. It reminded me of how Hubby and I used to joke about how if we saw someone put fresh bark chips on their flower beds, the next thing to look for was a for sale sign. Nowadays, it's the opposite. When we see that someone isn't keeping their house up, we start looking for another foreclosure. We've had four foreclosures or short sales on our street of a couple of dozen houses lately.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

On the Mend

Ms. D is on the mend today. I was really worried about her being dehydrated last night, since she couldn't keep anything down. I did wake up in the middle of the night to check on her and give her a sip of liquid. It was hard to get her to drink much because her stomach was so queazy from the strep. But this morning I got her popsicles and it worked. If she hadn't, it would have been back to the hospital. Thankfully, she got better by the hour and drank more than yesterday. I don't know what people did with strep throat before antibiotics. I guess scarlet and rheumatic fever were more of a problem. I don't dare tell Ms. D that she needs to take the medicine or it could be bad for her, yet it's really hard to get her to take the antibiotics. She has a tendency to over blow every little hurt or illness, just like her birth mom. I can't tell you how many times I had to reassure her that it's normal and a sign her body fights infection when she feels a lymph node. I've had her obsess over those things even the day after going to the doctor for a well child visit. I've even played the "I had three years of nursing school and 28 years of raising kids so I know what I'm talking about" card, but it doesn't really work. She still worries about her health, despite refusing to do some of the things that would help herself be healthier. I've heard other parents of kids with FASD say their kids do the same kind of thing, so I guess I'm not alone.

So far, no one else in the family has a sore throat. I'm keeping an eye out for it though. I thought I was possibly coming down with it yesterday, but it was just scratchy from being tired and allergies. I hope it doesn't spread. Illnesses spread fast in a larger family, even when we try to take precautions.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Test Results

We got two sets of test results back today, neither one was a surprise.

  1.  Ms. D tested positive for strep throat.  She's still not feeling well and won't drink much. She is having a lot of seizures which is scaring her little brother. So in addition to having to take care of a sick one, I am having to calm a very worried twelve year old boy. 
  2. Ms. D's IQ is in the 50-70 range, depending on the specific areas tested. This isn't a surprise, but now I have to figure out how to navigate the regional center so she has more supports as an adult, and how to adjust her schooling. But considering how low her cognitive function is, she's doing pretty well.  

There's a lot to process here, and I haven't had much time to let it sort out yet. Hubby and I went to the psychology appointment today and I walked the dogs with Mr. I. There were calls and visits to the pharmacy and phone consultations with nurses. I made the call to the regional center to start getting Ms. D signed up. I also stopped at the store to find some things that would lure Ms. D to drink. I couldn't figure out what to make for supper until some ham fell out of the freezer when I opened the door. I made a ham, cheese, and potato casserole out of it. Even Mr. I liked it! I ended up watching the neighbor kids with Mr. I this evening. Hubby got to help another neighbor girl with her homework since I wasn't home, and he did a pretty good job of taking care of Ms. D too.

I'm so tired as I'm writing this and will go to bed soon. My throat feels kind of funny.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not Your Normal Valentines Day

Valentines usually isn't very big at our house. Hubby doesn't normally do holidays, and if it's important to me, I do it. It also breaks my heart to see my single friends so sad. Little do they know, but not everyone with a boyfriend or husband gets what they imagine we get. Sometimes what we imagine someone's life to be like is way different from reality. If I get something for Valentine's or my birthday, great. But I've come to the conclusion that a good marriage without flowers and such is much better than a bad one with all the frills.  I also try to keep things a bit low key for the little ones, and this year it is especially important to do so.

We've had too much excitement lately and holidays are really hard on the kids. There's nothing like a bit of holiday excitement to bring out all the FASD, RAD, and PTSD behaviors. I took Ms. D in today to get a throat culture and picked up a prescription for Hubby while I was there. Ms. D has a sore throat and has been sleeping most of the day. Oh, and a bit of seizing too. I'm trying to figure out whether to cancel her part of the psychologist appointment tomorrow. We'll see what happens in the morning. Hubby and I certainly are going! There's been quite a bit to talk about these past three weeks.

This afternoon I walked both neighbor dogs for her. Boy, was that a workout!



So tonight, I plan to have a quiet evening. Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spring in California

One of the blessings of our part of California is that there really isn't true winter weather. I always thought of it like God cut out winter, made fall go right to spring, and stretched out summer. Yes, we go about in our winter coats in January and February, but in most parts of the country they'd be wearing a light sweater or jacket in similar conditions.

Today I took three walks, one with my friend, one to the store to pick up some bread, and the third with Hubby. I took a few pictures of some of the flowers I enjoyed. I didn't get a picture of the three hawks battling in the sky, but they were beautiful too.  We couldn't figure out who were the males or females, since they all were dive bombing each other. They had stripes on their tails, so I'm wondering if they were Cooper's hawks or something else. My friend and I enjoyed the show.

So as my friends and family are posting their pictures of snow, which I miss, I thought I'd post my pictures of things they can look forward to in the coming months.




Oh, and with the nice weather, I did a little yard work before the rain came again. I've really neglected our yard the past few months, so the work is piling up. But I did get to mow the lawn and get one of the palm trees halfway trimmed today. It wasn't much, but it was a start.


We also took down the honey from the roof. Our bees disappeared sometime when Hubby was in the hospital the past three weeks. I saw bees flying in and out of the hive recently, but when Hubby went up there yesterday to check on them, they were completely gone. There were very few dead bees at all. It's sad, but we got a large super of honey anyway. We'll have to ask someone on the bee guild what to do to prepare the hives before we get some new bees. They have so much wisdom when it comes to those little gals.

Also, the kale and lettuce is starting to peek out in our rooftop garden that I planted three weeks ago. The rain we are getting tonight is going to be good for them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Things We Take For Granted

I often get so used to blessings that I forget what amazing gifts those things are. Sometimes I take for granted good health, electricity, clean water, beautiful sunsets, a loving family, and so much more. I often forget how much I am blessed by something until it is gone or until someone I know is suffering. Illness comes to our family or to someone close to us. We visit friends in Nicaragua who get their water from a dirty well or who have spotty electricity, if any at all, and realize that not everyone in the world has reliable utilities. Hubby and I have a good marriage, despite raising kids with special needs, yet I see so many around us who are struggling. I am warm, dry, and full. I have all I need and so much more. 

I am blessed.

Yesterday, while I was driving down the highway to go grocery and feed store shopping, I saw this view. I asked Ms. D to snap a picture...with my iphone, which I also take for granted.
Hwy. 101 Near Morgan Hill, CA
The mustard plants were blooming and were practically glowing in the broken sunlight. I grew up in Illinois. I would have marveled at these hills which I hardly notice anymore, because they are so common in the West. I'm wondering how many other things I take for granted now, that would amaze someone from another part of the world, in a different situation, or in a different era. I would guess it would be quite a bit. 

I hope I never forget just how blessed I am. I hope I will be thankful for all God has given me, for the love of those around me, and for the beauty in this world.


Friday, February 10, 2012

House Full!

Yesterday our house was filled with the happy sounds of little children and we even got to bless a friend with room on a couch.

After Ms. D's non-epileptic seizure in the morning, I was wondering if I needed to lower the activity level and anxiety in the house even more after the stress of the past few weeks. Of course, both kids were showing signs of stress in their own ways. Mr. I's fearful and more outward manifestations were feeding Ms. D's more inward focused reaction to stressors. I tried to remain calm and upbeat, which was only possible because of the grace of God and the retreat the weekend before. I was so happy when even Blackbelt daughter recognized my efforts. It was really encouraging.

But then, I got a call from my daughter in law, asking if we could watch Grandson while she went out with a friend for lunch. I hadn't seen him in a few days, so I gladly said yes. We took him with us to walk the dogs in the warm afternoon. We had so much fun!


Blackbelt Daughter and Her Nephew

Then, later, a neighbor asked us if we could watch her two kids while she went out with her husband for dinner. She really needed to get out also, so we did. It ended up being a great thing for both of my kids, because having the little ones around took their minds off their own cares and helped them to feel needed. I can't tell you how important it is for teens to feel good at something and to feel that they can make a difference in the world. And my kids felt both yesterday.

And later, another friend was on call at a hospital near us. She lives over in Santa Cruz and would have had to drive at night over the mountains to get there. She was grateful for even a couch, and so she spent the night here. And yes, she was called in around midnight, so it was a good thing we live five minutes away. Another God thing was that she was able to help my neighbor with a problem. I had told the neighbor about my friend earlier in the day before I found out she was coming. My friend had never been to our house before, and the day I talked about her, she was here! Now, what are the chances for that to happen? I really think it was a total God thing!

And the best thing of all is that all this activity helped to calm my kids in ways I would not have expected. I could have said no to each of the families we helped yesterday because it seemed like it would increase stress on the kids. But if I had, we would have missed out on being a blessing to others. And being a blessing was the best antidote for the stress my kids were feeling.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ummm...I Thought the Seizures Were Over.

Ok. What's going on here? Our life is settling down. I know, it can't really settle down completely, not with one child who is still dysregulated. He is making sure subconsciously that I know it was hard for him these past few weeks. I mean, how many twelve year old boys do you know who refuse to go into their mom's bathroom because he's afraid of the back of the house? He's given me a hard time this week, but I'm handling it with calm and a happy face. Of course, he also swears at me for having a happy face when he is miserable, but one of us has to have a good time, right?

So I thought Ms. D was done with the seizure thing. Ok, she had one where she passed out in Birthmom's arms after crying when the birth brother was here, but there was a reason. She was very emotional, and I thought it was good that she cried. Really.

Oh, and then there was last weekend when she had really bad cramps when I was at the retreat. She threw up and then did a funny thing with her eyes and passed out. But that can be explained too.

But I can't figure out today's half hour of passing out and twitching. I'll have to figure this out.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bird Lady

While walking on the beach last weekend, I came across a lady who was showing her birds the ocean. She put them on my shoulders and we talked about birds and fostering kids. Those subjects are related, aren't they? 

Me at the Beach

Bird Lady

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Michelangelo and a Cool Site

Today we were learning about Michelangelo in world history. Of course, the kids were bored and I was interested. I am such an art geek! It's hard to break through their determination not to enjoy anything other than pop teen culture. At least I was getting something out of it. And maybe something will break through their walls and help them to appreciate different cultures. I can always hope.

But while we were learning about Michelangelo, I came across a really good site that had a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel put out by the Vatican. I probably will never be able to see it in real life, but I'm thankful that we have the internet and can get a better idea of what it's like. Small pictures in books just aren't enough.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho...

It's off to work we go!

Hubby went back to work yesterday for a half day. He was so excited to be back at SLAC. Of course he's still recovering from surgery, so he came home pretty tired.  But it was a good day for him and he's back to work today.

Photography son fixed my dishwasher! I've been washing dishes by hand since October, so my hands were very dry. I couldn't slather enough lotion on to keep up with all the times I had my hands in hot water, washing dishes for a large family. The kids helped, but I still did most of them. I actually enjoy hand washing dishes, it's one of my favorite chores, but I am so glad I don't HAVE to do it! My hands will be happy! Maybe now I'll have time to do one of my least favorite chores, like sorting socks. :-P

We are getting back to a normal homeschool and housework schedule. It felt so good to get things done yesterday. I have a new appreciation for housework. It's weird to think I was actually wanting to go home and clean while I was with Hubby and Ms. D in the hospital. I'm thankful for the blessing of not having another crisis and to be able to settle down and get my house in order. I'm not one of those people who normally enjoys most chores. But maybe God was working with me in that area, to let me long for something I took for granted before.  Hmmm...maybe He's doing that in other areas of my life also, like the way I've been longing for a closer relationship with Him, to spend more time with Him, and to feel His presence more throughout my day. There's something to this longing thing...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Refreshing and Renewing

Before this weekend, I was in a place where I was pretty well overwhelmed. Yes, I was able to halfway hold it together to get the most important things done, but I was on the edge. The retreat, which was planned and paid for months in advance, came at a perfect time.

I came to the retreat pretty broken and discouraged. It was hard for me to listen to the other women talk of their children, what they were doing in school, and how their children were making good, moral choices. I've been in a completely different space with my kids. I remember some of the thoughts I had when my older children were little, and I know that I would have judged my little ones harshly at that time. How would I have judged my son, who called me an idiot today for laughing at him when he got something in his eye? Especially since I didn't laugh at him, but smiled at him before I realized what had happened. I'm afraid I would have wondered what kind of mother would let her son call her an idiot, and just let him get by with it. I wouldn't have known the background, the bit of brain damage, the best way to handle times like that. I would have jumped to judgement. But now I tend to be sad, discouraged, and a bit fearful of what others may think. I hope that someday I will be humble enough to skip that part and get right to the merciful and wise responses.

I so appreciate the other women for praying for me that night. It began the process of refreshing for me. The next morning I went to the beach just before sunrise. I enjoyed the beauty of God's creation. I cried. I prayed. I sang. And I was quietly trying to hear God. After awhile, I was able to let go of all the burdens I had been carrying, and felt a peace I haven't felt in a long time. After that I rested, and have been in a better place emotionally and spiritually since.  But there's more.

The next morning, I left to go to another Gathering, or house church, in our network. On the way, I got a message from one of my older daughter that Ms. D had bad cramps and she had another  non-epileptic seizure. Fortunately, I knew that the older girls could take care of Ms. D, and they did beautifully. I really needed to worship with others. And it was so good for me to go.  I was more at peace, but I've been longing for a closer walk with God.  I know there is more, I've even experienced it, but I'm just not there. Today, our pastor came over for dinner and to talk about how to help Birthmother start her own "prayer circle" as she calls it. After we prayed, he mentioned how he felt  a longing for a deeper experience for God. I started tearing up, because he was describing how I've felt for so long. But he assured me it's a good thing to want to get closer to God. I'm so glad he didn't dismiss my longings as wanting to do the impossible and we can't live on the mountain top all the time. I've had pastors tell me that, but I don't agree. I believe God wants a closer relationship with us than we can imagine and for us to walk with Him all the time.

So I've been refreshed and renewed. I am being refreshed and renewed. And I know that God wants to refresh and renew me more. There is no way I can go on without Him. The past few weeks have shown me that my strength is nothing. I may be smart and talented, but I'm not smart and talented enough to get very far. I need God.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Quick Update on the Weekend

I had an awesome weekend at the homeschool women's retreat. Now this wasn't your ordinary retreat. The only thing planned was the Saturday evening restaurant meal. No speakers. No responsibilities. No agendas. After the past few months, it was the perfect retreat for me. It's getting late, so I'll have to fill in the details later. But here are a few pictures to start:




Friday, February 3, 2012

Hitting the Wall

Sometimes we hit a wall in life.

Mr. I hit a wall this week in math. I've been too busy the past three months with hospital stays, doctor appointments, birth family drama, the shooting of the neighbor girls, psychology appointments, birthdays, and Christmas, to help him with his math much.  Our typical way to do math in the higher grades is to have the kids read their own lesson, do the problems, and I would look it over and help them on the questions they did wrong and concepts they didn't understand. This works well when I have the time to keep up with them. But it didn't work with Mr. I lately. While in the hospital with Ms. D and Hubby, Mr. I skipped the most important problems that practiced the new material. He's a master at getting out of work! So this week when I checked his math, he got most of the problems wrong. He was practicing the incorrect way to add and multiply fractions. He had also forgotten a lot of what he knew last fall. He hit a wall.

So what do you do when you hit a wall in homeschooling? You first try to go over the concepts they forgot or didn't learn the first time around, while you continue to go forward with the lessons. We did that all this week. But because there were too many gaps, we had to go to plan B, which is to restart at the beginning of the book. Plan C is to ditch the book or method and start with a new one that might match the learning style better. Hopefully I won't have to go to plan C in math, since we're all used to this curriculum, but we'll see how it goes.

I'm also feeling like I'm hitting a wall. I'm pretty good at holding it together, more or less, during a crisis, but fall apart after everything calms down. I felt it coming on last weekend, so I went to church by myself in order to avoid the wall. Of course, I came home to Hubby with a fever. He had a UTI after a pyeloplasty, which isn't a very good thing at all, and ended up in the hospital for a couple of days. This week was filled with doctor appointments for Hubby to shed some of the tubes and get paperwork done. But now that things are beginning to calm down, I feel a bit sad and anxious. I'm starting to hit a wall.

So what am I going to do when I hit a wall in my emotions after a stressful time?  Well, I'm going to go to a women's homeschool retreat! It was scheduled for this weekend and I had paid for it months ago. It is at the perfect time for me. God's timing is good. There is nothing planned, other than a restaurant meal Saturday night followed by praying for each other. There are no speakers, no agendas, and no being pulled in different directions. I will be able to pray, knit or crochet, read, talk, sleep, take walks on the beach, and whatever else I want to do. I pray that God will take care of the family while I'm gone, and also that I will be able to slow down enough to evaluate, plan, or just rest in His presence.

I hope that instead of hitting a wall, I'll be able to slide into a place of peace.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grandson Visit

Grandson came over while his parents went on a little date tonight. It's been a busy day, since I'm getting ready for a retreat tomorrow, but I really wanted to see the little guy. With all that's been going on in our house and Grandson's trip to San Diego last week, I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks.

Right now, he's playing on the keyboard with Hubby. Isn't he cute?



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black Holes are Amazing!

I have a confession to make. I can be as geeky as Hubby when it comes to science, art, and music. Poor kids! I think it's fun to go to a lecture on black holes or a presentation on 15th century music. I can spend hours at an art museum and love every minute of it. The kids, on the other hand, are easily bored by these things. They make it known to everyone around them that going with us is just a step above child abuse. But I am a geeky homeschool mom. I would much rather take them to experience something in real life, or listen to people explain their research, than to read it in a book. Once we were able to go on a replica of one of Christopher Columbus' ships. When we studied it the other day, they were able to remember just how small those boats were. Taking the kids to things like lectures, museums, and concerts is also a way to expand the kids' horizons and to learn more than street culture which is so attractive to them.  Yes, there is more to life than jerk dancing, football, dogs, and the Disney channel. Taking the kids out for experiences is also an opportunity to practice how to handle themselves in a public place. And, deep down, there is always the hope that they will learn something, no matter how small. So I drag the kids from time to time, despite their protests and whining.


Orbits of Stars Around the Milky Way's Black Hole


Today, we took them to hear a lecture by an astronomer from UCLA who was giving a public lecture at Stanford University. Andrea Ghez was able to explain in layman's terms how she discovered a black hole in the middle of our galaxy. Mr. I was just asking me questions last night about black holes and I found out about the lecture today. The timing fit perfectly with his interest, which doesn't often happen. It was so good to see an intelligent woman scientist be able to make such a complicated subject so understandable, even to children. Both kids seemed to enjoy at least part of the presentation. I don't know how much Ms. D understood, but Mr. I got quite a bit out of it.

I left the lecture amazed at the complexity and beauty of God's creation. We can search, learn, and discover our whole lives, and only touch a small part of what He has done. I hope the kids pick up on that wonder and awe. If they do, dragging them to Stanford will be worth it.

Hubby Birthday Pics

Happy Birthday, Hubby!