Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sugar & Spice and Things that are Nice

My last few posts have been heavy and so today I was thinking I needed to trap some fun/crazy things that have been going on here.

Let's see, last Saturday we had a family date night at Target, one of our favorite places to just browse, although most of the time we leave with something. Anyway, we usually spend a fair amount of time in the dollar area. Lauren was able to spot $20 worth of things she would love to own. But we narrowed it down to three. Olivia was browsing but only seemed to care about this crazy ball that when you throw it, it lights up like a crazy disco light and it had stretchy koosh ball hair (remember koosh balls- it was like elementary school time for me when they came out and they were the thing, oh and snap bracelets- those have come back into style...oh the memories!). So back on track here...I let her play with it in the cart but figured I'd just tell the cashier we didn't want it, oh she's still at that sweet/innocent time where this trick works. Well anyway we spent tons more time in the rest of the store and then headed to the checkouts, well on the way I got distracted by something and Matt continued on (this happens a lot, and then I wonder where Lauren gets it- but more on that later). Well by the time I realized I better go and meet up with the rest of my family, Matt and the girls already paid. Oh another side note, I was bummed since I had bought a basket for books this school year and the cashier had put the purchases in the basket instead of bags (see basket and Olivia below)- I love Target bags about as much as the store. I know you must be wondering why on earth you read my blogs at this point, but they are the perfect size for our garbage cans in the bathrooms. Grocery store bags are too small and if you're lazy like me and don't change them regularly it's nice to have a bigger bag to last that much longer. So I expressed how I was bummed she didn't use bags and you know what...she just took a whole big stack of bags and put them into my basket- how cool was she. Well Matt said he thought there might have been a few screws lose since she played with everything and commented on it too. Which brings me back to the point of all of this. Since I wasn't there at the check to give the ball back we purchased a $3 ball thingy for Olivia! Oops. She is amazed by it and today she just started bouncing it hard enough to get it to light up on her own. I mean it's not going to win toy of the year but it makes her smile, so it wasn't too much of a waste but not quite as useful as the socks and shark ice pack Lauren settled on. So now every time she plays with it, smiling the whole time, I just laugh and enjoy.

Olivia doesn't think that the basket is for
books but it's her personal play pen!

She loves getting in there! Good thing it's sturdy.

See the smile I just don't mind seeing OVER and OVER-
I told you it's worth a $3 goofy toy from the $1 section.

Speaking of laughing. I was laughing at myself today in the car. I had completely forgot until today when I spoke with Garrett about having Caiden over that I still hadn't gotten his birthday present. And even though Matt and Lauren took a fun trip to Barnes and Noble last night I didn't tell them to pick up a gift certificate for him. So the girls were up from nap at 4:30, giving us plenty of time for a quick trip over and back and still have dinner ready or at least close to ready when Matt got home. Lauren was overjoyed at my idea and Olivia just rolls with the flow, gotta love her! So I pulled into a parking spot that was between two cars, the one on my right had a lady in the drivers seat, which I noticed. I put the van in park, took my foot off the brake, looked to the right and gasped in horror! Why did I gasp, well the lady started pulling out and my brain interpreted her car going backwards as mine going forward. I thought I didn't put the car in park and were going to hit the car in front of us- YIKES! Of course Lauren asked "Why'd you say HHUUUUU mama?" At that point I was laughing at myself, coming down off the adrenalin rush, and being thankful that my brain was wrong and we were indeed safe and sound. Oh goodness, so maybe it isn't that funny now but it was to me.

So that also reminds me of my little "Mini Me" we have in our house. Lauren has a very similar personality to me and sometimes it can be sweet and adorable, and other times it can be a scary look into the mirror. Matt often tells me of things that she does or things she says and when she does them Matt replies to her "Okay, Jennifer." (I'm sure he does in with love on his mind ;-) So tonight after bath Matt and I were getting the girls into their pj's and we were nearing the end, so I was combing through Lauren's hair (my it has gotten so long). She was playing with a toy that had gotten away from her and Matt pushed it back to her with his foot. I told Lauren to thank daddy and tell him how amazing he is (a common phrase around here, thanks Peg + Cat for that one). So she did and he replied "Oh your welcome baby. You're amazing too" and her reply..."I know" LOL, really child. The best is when Matt replied to her statement with "Okay, Jennifer." It had me laughing and Matt rolling his eyes at me. Gotta love my family!

Oh another random thing about tonight. So Thursday is Zumba night and I love going. But I guess my brain was on vacation or something because after dinner we were sitting around playing and I didn't pay a lick of attention to the time and at 7:40 (when the class starts) Matt looks at me and says "Oh...Zumba." So what does a girls do since she missed her working out- oh I head to Sonic and get onion rings and a milkshake. Not all for myself...Matt and I shared. Just justifying my indulgence. But as we sat there after realizing I had missed class and I guess we were both thinking about food, dinner must of not been to satisfying for us, and Matt mentioned milkshakes and I said I could really go for some onion rings. Then Matt looked at me with a smile and said "Sonic has half price milkshakes after 8!" So off I went on my covert operation to get an evening snack? Who does this? Not something we do regularly around here, but spontaneity is good for the soul (just not so much for the waist line). Matt started the girls on their bath while I was gone and then we took turns going down stairs to "look at something" once I got back while the other one watched the girls (we're so sly,...hehehe or not). Guess I'm going to have to swim extra at the pool tomorrow with the girls and Caiden to work off our spontaneous fun. 

Oh well. I've been meaning to do a top ten list of the girls and all their cuteness these days. They're growing and changing so much- it's a little sad and a lot exciting all at the same time. I'm hoping writing it here will give me more incentive to do it. This week I'm starting to remember what life is like when you're not going 110 mph for weeks on end. This was the first week I haven't had a to do list taller than Olivia. I'm done going places for a bit, I'm done recouping from being places, I'm done planning/organizing for school this year (we start September 8th...Lauren and I are both super excited for school- I'm so glad I get to be part of it with her), I'm done catching up on house work (except dust, oh I hate dusting- they need to invent a Roomba for dusting! I love vacuuming so I don't need a machine to do that for me, but dusting NOW that I would invest in! Maybe I should have Matt invent it so we can afford it too). But really it has been an adjustment for me to remember what it is like to just have a lazy day around the house. Oh it was nice. 

But things will pick up soon enough with school around the corner and we have Matt's parents coming in Labor Day weekend, we're looking forward to that. Then we have CBS on Thursday mornings (community bible study) that the girls and I are doing this year, and Wednesday nights start up at church too. Matt and I have been talking about just doing the dinner part since we're already doing Sunday school, CBS, and there is a bible lesson every day for school. But we'll see. Then mid September we're off to Day Out with Thomas, and Percy lucky us, with my sister and her family. So life never settles for too long, but that's okay it means were building memories, visiting with the ones we love, and enjoying what God has blessed us with- each other. I feel very blessed and sometimes I get upset when I'm not enjoying life and these blessing to the fullest, aka getting wrapped up in the little things or the business of it all. But not today, today I embraced the blessings and let that other stuff roll away. Amen to that and all God's gifts!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Season of Life - Part 3

This is a part three, you can just read along or part one is here and part two is here. It's not necessary to read them though. It has taken me a little longer to get this post up because life is crazy with two little ones and I've been diligently preparing for school this year. Plus, I enjoy time with hubby too! So that all that adds up to little time for blogging- but I enjoy it and I like to have these moments of life recorded so I can remember where we've been on our journey and how God is ever present in each moment we have. And thankfully we can rest in His promises, like this one:

The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." - Exodus 33:14

So if the sudden loss of a friend, the tragic loss of a friends husband (part 1) and the loss of another baby (part 2) wasn't enough- I still was not done with my season of "death." I still had another person I held near and dear to say goodbye to and watch leave this world to be with Jesus.

My Grandma Rose was my only living grandma. She is my step dad's mother. She was a generous, funny, 'tell it like it is' woman. Unfortunately for me, by the time my mom and stepdad met and married each other she was living in Arizona for the majority of the time and I didn't get to see her often. And by the time she finally did move back 'home' I was nine hours away. But every time I did get to see her I enjoyed her infectious laugh and her sweetness. One of my most cherished moments was her meeting Lauren for the first time- she just kept repeating over and over how beautiful she was. 

Lauren and Grandma Rose meeting for the first time.

She said the same about all of Olivia's pictures too. I'm so very, very grateful that this summer when we visited back home, we were able to see Grandma Rose. And that she was able to meet Olivia too. She was having a good day that day and was able to talk to us while we were there. She was able to see Lauren and Olivia and we were able to visit with her. Not as spunky but still so special. 

It was just three weeks later that she passed on and went up to heaven. It was a Sunday morning and we got the news before heading to church. I remember my exhausted body and spirit rallying as I made preparations to go back and celebrate her life with our family. Matt didn't have the days to take off, and we weren't quite sure yet when the funeral service would be held, so it was just going to be the girls and I. Since she had been sick for a while I had a plan in the makings- that I would drive to my sisters house (7.5+ hours away) in one day and then the next day drive back home (3 more hours). I had never driven that long as the soul driver before, let alone with two kids in the back. I was to tired and nervous to attempt the 10+ hour drive by myself to go back home in one day.

I had left Monday morning to head back up because I was sure the funeral would be mid week. Well it was Saturday so we were gone longer than I had anticipated (thank goodness I'm a habitual over packer so I didn't have to worry about landry- you have to pay for it at my moms apartment) but I'm soooooooo glad we went and that I was able to be there. It meant to world to me to be around my family again and be there to support them as well as feel the support myself. It was a week full of God and His never ending, always growing love!

I saw God so many, many ways that week. First, a great friend at church loaned us a duel dvd player for the ride. So I just had movies playing periodically throughout the trip to occupy the girls. They were both exhausted coming off a week at LebCamp so they took good naps and we were able to coordinate all the potty breaks/diaper changes with rest stops and lunch stops along the way. I did have the little potty in the back in case of emergency and Lauren actually did cry because we never got to use it (bless her little soul). We made good time and had a very uneventful (aka easy) trip. I felt so blessed and accomplished when I arrived at her house with car, kids, and myself all still in good working order!

I continually saw God in the endless patience the girls and I had in my parents 2 bedroom apartment with four adults and three kids (ages 3 and under) for four full days. It was a blessing to stay with my mom and stepdad since we got to distract them and be there as a family to mourn the loss of Grandma Rose- so I'm glad we did it. But any other time I would pass on that fun experience. 

I continually saw God in my ability to wake up each morning. I was tired, just so tired- physically, mentally, emotionally. Thankfully I was spiritually full from such a great week at camp that I just kept plugging along. Handling both girls without the help of my wonderful husband was hard. Not only did I miss the help he would have been with the girls, but the comfort that he is to me. I also missed him dearly, since the week prior was camp week I was out of the house with the girls by 6:45 am and then I would come home after 9 each night and walk like a zombie to bed with a little hug and kiss for him before I passed out in 2.5 seconds flat. So I just missed him all around. Now I know you're going to roll your eyes but I don't have a fancy cell phone, I have a prepaid flip phone that suits me just right for 98% of situations. However, both my sister and my mom don't have a house phone since they do have fancy smart phones so it was hard to call him up and chat for a bit and check in. I didn't want to use up a bunch a minutes that cost money (mind you Matt's cheap like me too so he feels the same way) when in most other houses we would have had a home phone to call out on. So I didn't even get to talk to him most nights. But the times I did get to talk to him meant the world and reenergized me for a bit. 

I continually saw God in the generosity of others around me. Just too many stories to tell but I saw His love in so many people that week- we were truly blessed!

The Saturday service was beautiful. Shauna and I were able to take part in the service and read a prayer. And I just enjoyed all the stories and the smiles that came to peoples faces as they remembered her. One of my favorite parts of that day was when we realized it was the first time, ever since my step brother Matt came into our lives a few years back, that all of the cousins (my Grandma Roses grandchildren) were all together in the same place. She was the one who brought us all together. None of the many weddings had ever done that. I bet that brought a smile to her face as she watched from above. So we were able to get a picture- the first ever of all of us. 

Here we are, all nine of Grandma Rose's grandchildren. 

The next day we headed home. Another big blessing was my wonderful mother-in-law. She came along with us on the trip home to our house, our beds, our space, and our daddy/hubby. Oh we missed them all so much! She was such a blessing to pitch in so many ways during the week but she endured the long ride back home so we could do the trip in one day. Then we were doubly blessed as she stayed a few days to visit and help us get us back on our feet before she fly back to her house.

I can't tell you in words how exhausted I was and how it took me a few weeks to feel settled, rested, and back to 'normal.' It did happen to take longer than expected since Matt decided to wrestle with some poison ivy while we were gone and he had such a delay/bad reaction, oh it was gross. I felt awful for the man. He ended up going on oral steroids, a topical steroid, and antibiotics in order to heal. It took over two weeks and was just another exhausting episode in this very, hum how should I put this, adventurous summer. But he's better now. We're home now. Things are calming down and as the days grow a little cooler and the sun goes down a little earlier each night we look ahead. Looking towards the next adventure and the next journey that is going to help grow us and bring us closer to our maker and creator. May our eyes always be focused on Him and may we remember that He "works for the good of those who love him."

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

25 Random Things About Me

This is from 2009- Found it funny to look back at my answers.

25 Random Things About Me
1. I love to clean my house. I know it sounds crazy, but it really is one of the most satisfying things!

2. I don't miss college. I hate that people say that it is the best and they wish they could go back. All I remember is that I studied all the time. I guess if I was smarter I would have liked it better.

3. I live for Monday nights at Zumba- I call it my happy place since the only thing racing through my mind is "where the freak do I put my foot next!"

4. I love pizza for Friday dinner, and I get sad if we don't have it.

5. Bones is my favorite TV show and last night David Boreanaz had his shirt off!!

6. I love to read magazines.

7. When I see a Pepsi vending machine with those big buttons, I love to just push them. I am not sure the fascination, but they are just calling to me..."Push me Jennifer!"

8. I wish I had a private jet so I could travel the world.

9. I love chips and dip too!!! I also never buy them because they would be gone in no time.

10. Hugs from my husband make me a better person.

11. I treat my cat like a child and love her to bits!

12. I love to watch movies; there is just something about escaping life for 2 hours and having everything end happy that just sucks me in.

13. I miss living near a big lake and going on boat rides. Being on the boat is my most cherished pastime and I miss it deeply!

14. Snakes give me the willies, so does seeing a lot of insects in one area- GROSS!!!

15. I'm glad that my relationship with my sister is the healthiest it has ever been and I hope that we continue to grow into good friends.

16. I love a good pair of jeans and comfy sneakers. 

17. If I were an instrument, I would want to be an acrostic guitar- I love the way they sound.

18. I love having my hair played with and my scalp rubbed- I hope that is what it feels like to be in heaven because it is the best! 

19. I'm a horrible speller and often ask my brighter students how to spell a word I can't.

20. I would love to learn to be a photographer. I just love to enjoy a good photograph and wish I could be artistic like that.

21. I enjoy sports and sporty things more than my husband.

22. My favorite number is 2. I was born 2/22 and was married 10/22. I also favor even numbers over odd numbers.

23. I love juice and really don't like pop (soda for you southerners) except Ginger Ale, which my friend Heather always has so I kill my cravings at her house and don't buy it. (Thanks Heather)

24. Lazy Saturday mornings are the best! I love not having to shower right away and just relaxing.

25. My favorite smell in the whole wide world is that of a campfire! I love going camping and when you come home your pillow and clothes still smells of it. I've always wanted a real fire place, so my house could smell like it. (Yankee Candle has a "campfire" candle but it is not good enough for me).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Here's What We Look Like These Days

To start off summer Grammy and Papa P came down to help out- Olivia and Papa P were excited about movie night

Olivia and Grammy P enjoying the pool on a hot summer day

 Here we go!! Off on our road trip back "home" to visit family and friends

 Olivia knows how to do this road trip thing

 Passing the time with all sorts of crazy fun

 Mommy and Lauren

 Olivia Bear

 And finally Lauren gives in and we all enjoy a break and a quiet car

 Playing at Grandma and Grandpa B's, trucks and tractors

 Taking Ellie on a trip in the police car- Depute Dishes

 Tractor time

 Twilight Hayride

 Making music together- like the sound of angels singing ;-)

 Sisterly Love

 Lauren as taught Olivia the joy of rock picking

 Skid Steer Loader at the farm - a girl and her machines, life is good

 Meeting the cows

 More tractors!!! 

 Off to Grandma and Grandpa H's

 Being silly girls in the back yard - always an adventure

 A girl and her daddy

 Playing trains and reading books

 Ice Cream - only my favorite in all the world

 Sharing my love with Lauren as she enjoys her first ice cream cone!

 Playground time!


 Train Museum with Aunt Shauna, Cousin Finn, and Grandpa and Grandma H

 Check out these conductors

 Back to our house and enjoying the Children's Museum

Super excited to be part of LebCamp 2014!

The long days can sure tucker a girl out

 Big surprise, more tractor fun as we passed the days being Gods disciples

 Even little girls need a rest, she took a nap 3 of the 5 days at camp- so much fun makes us sleepy

 Then back to Grammy and Papa P's to go to Grandma Rose's funeral

 1st Stop Cousin Finn's house- lots of goofiness there!

 We enjoyed blueberry picking, I think the strawberries and blueberries are just kissable

 And where there is a tractor, there is a Lauren...and Olivia too!

 Look how big they are!!!

 Joe Cool (Snoopy has nothing on her)

Off to pick lots of blueberries and eat even more

To our surprise the church Grandma Rose's funeral was at was all decorated for an ocean/pirate themed VBS- the girls were too excited

This Season of Life - Part 2

With each pregnancy I've had, and that's six now, I've never been good at not letting myself dream. Dream about the possibilities and about the future. When I got pregnant the second time- I was overjoyed. My first pregnancy and miscarriage happened so fast I didn't really have much time to embrace the fact that I was expecting. But with my second I had a little more time before that little one went on up to Jesus, so I had more time to dream. I had gotten a pregnancy calendar and eagerly filled it out. If you've never had one of those it is just an empty calendar where you fill out the dates as it correlates with your pregnancy. There are a bunch of stickers to put on it, like "first craving" and "baby shower" and then you can fill in your own things along the way. I was elated to be pregnant and was dreaming of the milestones as I filled in the colorful pages. Reading the little handy helper tips along the way. My dreaming often begins before Matt or I know for sure the gift of life has been given to us.

Even though I know better and I try and stop myself from filling in my now mental pregnancy calendar (I stopped buying them after the third miscarriage so poor Olivia doesn't have one- only Lauren) but I can't. So when I found out the weekend after Mother's Day that I was due to have another sweet one come at the beginning of the new year- my mind was racing. Names, what he/she would look like, what I would do with the nursery if God blessed us with a boy, when to move Olivia in with Lauren...the list goes one. I found myself doing it even before the positive popped onto the stick- because I knew, I always know before the stick tells me. My life changes, my heart grows, my soul knows when there is a sweet little one inside me. It's hard not to be altered by their presence even when no one but God and I know it.

This time was no different. It would have been another winter baby- if it was another girl, I was set for clothes- if he/she was early then it might be a new years baby- fun stuff! So as I relive those dreams know while I write this, I'm so sad for what might have been but take comfort in what is, what God graced me with.

The ultrasound room at the doctors office brings me such mixed feelings. I always hold my breath while I wait- although I'm often nauseous already it just gets worse. The butterflies in my stomach are going a hundred miles a minute. So on this Tuesday when the doctor came in to verify for the technician that the baby's heartbeat was gone I had no words. I was so devastated it took me a bit to even cry. When they ushered Matt and I into a room and went over the talk about what you will do next I couldn't even cry- and it wasn't until I get into the comfort of my car that I let it out.

The loss of the dream always hurts. When milestones pass, when I would have been in my second or third trimester, when we would have found out the babies gender, when we would have told the girls, when we would have told everyone, and eventually when the due date comes...and goes that is when I feel the loss the most. Sometimes it's when I see a pregnant lady or a sweet newborn. It never goes away. There are six dates that hold a special place in my heart:

March 5th, 2010*
August 14th, 2010*
December 9th, 2010
October 25th, 2012*
February 16th, 2013
January 22nd, 2015*

These are the due dates of all of our children. Each of our babies holds a special place in my heart. 

I sometimes have to laugh, it is the best medicine, and I think to myself what I would do with a house full of six crazy kids. I thank God for each one of them. Each one of them has changed my life for the better. Each one of them is a part of who I am and who my family is.

Someday when they are old enough to understand, Lauren and Olivia will hear about their siblings. They will know about how special they are and how God is caring for them up in Heaven and when they themselves take their steps on His streets of gold, they too will get to meet them.

During LebCamp this year this is one of the songs that really spoke to me. It reminded me over and over that God is there always. He's plan is the one I want for me, for my family, for our lives. I didn't ask why- I don't need to know why- I just need to grieve for what could have been. I need to have faith that what is- is what it should be. If I hadn't had lost those two babies before Lauren, I wouldn't have her. If I hadn't lost the baby before Olivia, she would be here. I can't look at those miracles and ask why- God knows why and I can deal with that. I want to show my two girls with me on earth what it means to live in God's arms. What it looks like to give our lives to Him fully- even when it isn't our plan or our way. I pray they see this, not me holding onto something that was never meant to be. 

Instead I grow, I give up control, I surrender, I trust, I look forward to new dreams and ask God how I can use His gifts. I give thanks for all that He has given me. I wake up and praise His holy name for all that is and all that be. Because I know my God loves me and gives me strength. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" Romans 5:1-5. Another song, by Matthew West, also reminds me every time I hear it that I don't have to be strong and I don't have to carry it all.  

Philippians 4:13 happened to be the theme of LebCamp this year. The youth advisory committee picked the verse and the theme- but with God's guidance no doubt. Since camp was just a month following the miscarriage it really helped me, as it somehow always does, work through my feelings and helped me move forward. I tell you every year I give camp and those kids all of my energy and love during the week and although I walk away exhausted and in need of lots of sleep- I also walk away with my heart, mind, and soul filled with joy, hope, and love. 

God's hand was in each part of my journey and still is. Because he gave me everything I could have needed and more to get me through the grieving process. My mom was able to come down the day we had the ultrasound. She arrived at my house at 3 am but she was there the next morning when Matt and I headed to the hospital. That meant so much to me. Her and my step dad stayed a week before heading back home. Then I busily packed up for an already planned trip back home, where Matt, the girls and I spent ten days visiting with family and being together ourselves as a family. That was so big- having that time to take a few date nights just Matt and I to let the business and noise of the regular day fade away and support each other. To be around those that love us and our kids the most and spoil us with love and affection. I don't know that my heart could have wanted anything else then to be reminded of all the blessings that God surrounds me with daily. Then, if that wasn't enough, we got back from that trip only to turn around four days later and be surrounded by my church family for seven days 10 hours a day. Them loving on the girls and me. It was like God's hand in my recovery was in motion before I even knew I would need it. Isn't He amazing!!! The support and love that has come from this event has just allowed me to see God so vividly and to feel him so tangible that I just took comfort in Him.

I know my words can't do God justice for all He did for me and still does but I just pray that I never forget it. That on those days when my hair is falling out and I just don't have it together that I am reminded of who put that day together in the first place. 

And the journey isn't over yet. And neither is my story. So hopefully I'll get to part three soon because there is more. More of how God is great, all the time!

This Season of Life - Part 1

It has been just shy of two months since I last wrote. Well last put my hands to keyboard and wrote. I've been writing in my head for a while and I'm hoping to remember, reflect, and not ramble too much about life these days.

I've been reading a book, Season's of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson, and I have to admit that I didn't fully understand what she meant about 'seasons' until now. Because I certainly feel like my life has been in a season.

In the past two months I've endured the loss of four wonderful people in my life. Some close, friends and family, and others just close to the ones I love. I've endured sickness. I've endured pain. But most of all I've lived the lesson once again that I'm am not in control of my life- but my God is. I've felt His presence so vividly and so warmly in these two months. So I might be in a season of "death" as I've been calling it, but I also feel like I'm in a season of love, as I've felt the hand of God throughout it all. 

The memories are already starting to get foggy in my brain as I think back to May and June. This is when I endured my first loss. God took home a wonderful friend- Becky. It was very unexpected and very hard on me. She was an amazing women I met at church. She was so sweet and patient and loving and giving. At her funeral they spoke of her as a Proverbs 31 woman- and indeed she was. Becky taught me to sew and helped me to make the certains that now hang so beautifully in Olivia's nursery (which use to be Lauren's before she moved to her big girl room), as well as other sewing projects. Becky was kind hearted and sweet- always greeting you with a smile. I always enjoyed my afternoon lunches with her, when we finally found a date that worked, she was a busy lady for a women her age! I still have some wonderful, vivid memories that we made together and will always be blessed by her. 

Her death was a surprise and hit me like a ton of bricks. It was at this time that I was almost positive I was expecting baby number three, so I was even more emotional and scared. The day after Becky passed, when I had learned of the news, I had a meeting at church that evening and embraced the opportunity to pour out my heart to God- I just subbed at the alter. Praying for his hand on my heart, my soul, and all those who surround me. I was scared for everything and felt so vulnerable. I was struggling with what just happened and what could happen. The weight of it all just brought me to my knees- the thoughts that filled my head scared me to my core. And those raw emotions spilled over onto this new baby- could I handle the loss of another? I was almost afraid to take the test to enter the road I so deeply dreamed and desired to be on- the road of pregnancy. 

It wasn't much longer before I indeed took a test and revealed to Matt in the wee hours of the morning that we indeed were expecting another baby. The news excited us and gave us hope. But then just a week or so later the next loss happened. I have a wonderful friend Jenny and at the end of May her husband lost his battle with Cancer, at the age of 29. I watched her endure such an unthinkable loss and as she did it with God's grace and love I was once again reminded of who controls our lives and who sustains us while we are here on this earth. As I mourned another loss, I tried to set my eyes on God and remain positive. But it was hard, and it felt impossible some days. My girls, prayer, and a wonderful husband kept me smiling and the thoughts of adding another little munchkin to the group helped me.

Each moment we have is precious and each day we're given is a gift. I tried hard to remind myself of this daily, hourly as I moved through each day with a heavy heart.

Because of our pregnancy history my doctors office so graciously gives me early ultrasounds- so it wasn't long after the happy positive that we made our way to see our baby. With a small little flicker of a heartbeat on the screen we rejoiced in God's love and gift. We excited announced our news to our parents and close friends. My heart was renewed and I tried to remind myself of the circle of life- The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Then the fun of first trimester nausea set in and I was down for the count. I prep myself every time and every time I just fail miserably at being able to be myself. I have no energy and feel sick most of the day. Matt had to pick up a lot of slack each night as I would just fall over after dinner and be asleep before the girls. He is a wonderful husband and he did it without complaint. But it's hard on both of us- but I reminded myself how wonderful it will be and it will all be worth it- that sweet baby is always worth it!

Then my next ultrasound came just a couple weeks after the first. And with it came my third loss in just a few months. The screen revealed to us our baby without a heartbeat and that our baby was also enjoying our Heavenly Father's love up in heaven with Becky and Tyler. 

My heart ached but it was in those moments that I was so tangibly reminded that God provides and God loves. Not only does He love, but his love endures all things and supports us. For that I'm so grateful. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Today was our first time...

visiting our local homeschool convention. And all in all it was a good time. 

This is the first time I'm writing publicly about this. About a year or so ago God started prompting me that this might be the path for our little family. At first I kept it to myself, it isn't often I feel the Holy Spirit move me like that and I was nervous. I prayed and continued to feel that tug. So I approached Matt. He was open to homeschooling, but as we talked we both agreed that we will revisit the decision yearly to make sure that we are doing what is best for our family and he was also nervous for the demands it would put on me. His thought were mirroring mine so we talked a lot about it. We decided that for now, yes this is what we should do.
I've worked with Lauren at home for the past two years so this is really nothing 'new' per say but it feels more official since this coming year would/could be her first year in preschool and this is the first time I purchased "curriculum" and got a few books to read up on the whole thing. So I decided to continue my 'investigation' by heading to the convention. 

The association that puts on the convention also made an offer I couldn't refuse, if you were a first timer and your oldest kids was under 5 you got in for free! So I signed us up and headed downtown.

Now I had no idea what to expect, so it was hard to prep the kids. Lauren's personality just enjoys having a sense of what lay ahead- the more I prep her, often the smoother a 'new to her' situation can go. I think that is true of lots of personalities, no one really likes the unknown. So she seemed very apprehensive to drive to the city and do ??who knows what?? I did know that there were lots of lecture sessions on a large variety of topics and keynote speakers. I planned to avoid making my 16 month old and 3.5 year old sit through any of that. Then there was the vendor area and the used curriculum area, so those were on my agenda and also just walking around.

We first had to sign in since I had pre-registered and Lauren and Olivia both felt so special that they too received name tags (Olivia didn't figure out how to destroy hers for the better part of the morning, go her, or me?!). Lauren saw the escalators and the whole time asked if we were going to go upstairs- I kept informing her that our double stroller was in no way built for that, and neither was mommy! (I had a horrible flashback of taking the two sweet kids I nannied each summer all through college to the mall and leaving the eldest at the top of an escalator since she hesitated just a little when we were getting on- oh that was frightful, but thankfully there were people around to help!) 

We walked around the vendor area for over an hour, stopped to enjoy a small lunch, and then continued to walk around. So much to see. Lauren got out of the stroller for a bit to walk- some of the booths had interesting things for a little girl to look at, like books and such. She often directed where we went. Olivia just enjoyed the view and chilled, like she usually does- oh I wish she got the easygoing, laid back part of her personality from me! We then headed to the used curriculum area- it was like a huge garage sale of educator material. I didn't realize that you needed a ticket to get in and apparently I didn't get one- but a nice lady gave me an extra she had. (Afterwards I realized that was suppose to go in at 3 when it opened up to everyone- yikes, I didn't plan on staying that long so I was very grateful for the lady who helped us out.) I looked in a few sections, mostly the pre-k and didn't see much. It was interesting since things were priced for Friday and then had lower prices for Saturday, and in some cases much lower prices. So next time I know to go Saturday since it will be cheaper? But I'm sure everything is more picked over at that point. Again I wasn't looking for anything really- just browsing. 

The only things I paid for was parking (stupid city parking) and a couple hotdogs and a bag of chips. It would have been neat to sit in on a few of the lectures but maybe when the kids are older or when Matt comes too? All in all I'm glad we went and got a feel for everything. There is really so much out there and really lots of people, support, and product. So now I have to go through the huge stack of brochures and such that I took home for thinking about the future.

You see this past year, and still ongoing, we did a letter and a bible story a week. Well theoretically we did a letter/bible story a week I should say. Some weeks we did two letters, some one, some none. Slowly we've made our way through the alphabet. Doing calendar time, weather, learning new bible songs and stories, doing crafts, memorizing bible verses, going on field trips, learning how to write letters and their sound, coloring, and we've read lots of books. So I would call it a success because she has learned a great deal. 

For this coming year my goals are a little different. I've picked a curriculum that will allow me to involve Olivia in this time too. I wanted something that was more broad, yet more encompassing. Something that stressed the Bible and character development. But also had a little bit of math, science, and self awareness. I found all of this and more in the Bright Beginnings curriculum. I also see myself being able to use it for multiple years- so even though it was not at all expensive- it might prove to be even more inexpensive if I can use it for multiple years. 

One of the parts I struggled with this year was that I made the curriculum for all 26 letters. I pulled from multiple resources, including ABC Jesus Loves Me and 1+1+1=1 blog, and then added my own stuff in there. Well this created A LOT OF WORK for me. And after I got going I really didn't use some of the stuff I worked hard to create. At first it wasn't so bad since I got ahead, but then I caught up to myself and found it hard to find time to keep up with the lesson planning part. I'm still not done, hence why we're still not done with the alphabet quite yet, but we're getting there. We made it to 'T' and we're still going somewhat strong :/ I think.

Another thing that I struggled with was watching Brooke. There were a few times this past 'school year' that I had her regularly for weeks on end and yes she could do some of it, but my whole day flows different when I have her and it just added a different dimension to our activities. With this new curriculum it won't matter if Brooke is here or not, she'll just be able to join right in. Since part of what I'm learning is really the scheduling of the day and routine. Right now, I'm doing it during times when Olivia sleeps and it is Lauren's and my special time and I do naptime a little different when Brooke is here and whatnot. So next year since it will be involving both kids it will be just adding her to the activity I've already got planned. 

Just like anything until you do it and work out the kinks I'll never know just how much I'll like it. But I've prayed on this a lot and really like what I see- the short, interesting, easy to do lessons will allow some flexibility and we'll just figure it out as we roll along- 'tis life! Please feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions- not that anyone has ever done that, but hey you never know! So we might be finishing up our letters just in time to start our new curriculum, but thats okay!

"Those who plan what is good, find love and faithfulness." Proverbs 14:22