Saturday, June 11, 2016

Slow Down

So there is a song that recently came out that has earned the description of "making moms everywhere cry", which is quite accurate.  If you haven't heard it yet, grab a Kleenex (maybe 2) and take a listen to "Slow Down" by Nicole Nordeman.

I actually did not cry the first few times I heard it, but then it came on the radio as the kids and I were off for a special day together while Toby was cooing and chattering in the back and Lydia was saying "I love this day!" and Noah was going on about something he is currently interested in... and Mom was blubbering in the front. :)

I do like that song, and get the whole "slow down" thing in that every age and stage is so precious and there are certain things about it that you wish would last longer, and that children grow and change so very fast when they are little.  But I am also ready for my kids to grow and go onto the next stage, because I have spent just about every minute that I can with them enjoying this one, and I am ready to grow with them.  I think one reason why that "slow down" message resonates so deeply is that as a whole our society has forgotten how to slow down, and what is worth slowing down for.

Even with homeschooling and being with them all the time, too much busy and being on the go can creep in and I feel like we are not slowing down and enjoying life together as much as we should.  There are two big ways I push the "slow down" button.  One is to take pictures.  Well, even more that usual. ;)  But not posed pictures or of a certain event, just pictures that some that capture where they are at right now.  My kids have gotten used to the fact that occasionally mom will shadow them with a camera and take lots of pictures...  (We went to an art gallery that had a photography exhibit and Noah was all confused that there wasn't paintings and drawings displayed. I explained that photography can be art too, and that is why I take so many pictures; it is my way to have art of my favorite people and things.  Since then he has been even more willing to let me be crazy camera mom.)

The other is just to literally slow down.  Have days, or hours, or maybe just a few precious minutes, where the only things on the to-do list are special things to enjoy together, or no specific to-do's at all. 
We get about one nice week of spring here, when the apple blossoms and lilacs are blooming and the bugs and too hot weather haven't come yet.  We definitely took a "slow down" week during that this year, and it was wonderful.  I lost count how many picnics in the yard we had.  Some days we didn't eat inside at all. :)
We enjoyed the swingset and hammock for many hours.

We took a day and went to the state park and played and painted.

Of course most of my house looked something like this and it took me a while to catch up...

...and not much official "school" was done that week...
But the slowing down is so worth it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tobiah ~ God is good

The meaning of my children's names and the process and prayers that go into choosing them are extremely important to me.  Tobiah means "God is good."  In Hebrew, which makes it even cooler. :)  This is a message that came up in my heart and in things I was reading over and over again during my pregnancy.  It is what we want our little family to proclaim as we welcome a new life into the world and always.  And is something we want to proclaim over our precious son and pray that he will hold onto throughout his life.

There is a lot of not-good-ness when looking around our country and our world, and I definitely had my moments of "Why are we bringing a child into this? How are we possibly going to be able to raise him well?"  I remember having these thoughts with my other pregnancies, and I would bet that mothers throughout history have as well, because that whole "not-good" thing has shifted how it looks as time advances, but has been there since the Fall.  But this time around I worked through the answers more.
Some of my favorite verses are Psalm 8:1-2: "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger."  I think about it and share it with kid a lot regarding kids praising and worshiping.  But a book I have been reading talks about it specifically in regards to babies, how life itself is grace and mercy!  Everything could have ended when sin, and so death, first entered the world.  But it didn't.  We are allowed to have children, to create and continue life, to know what it is to live and love.
"This little baby bears the image of the Holy One.  On the cosmic stage of God's glory displayed in the universe, the infant's cries silence the insolent boasts of God's enemy.  God ordained that life would continue despite the Devil's decrepit handmaiden, death.  God granted that eternal life prevail through his Son, who rose victorious from the grave, never to see decay.  God gives this eternal life away as a gift to those who would trust in his Son.  Life is here to stay forever."  --Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full
Madeline L'Engle talks about this too in her book about Genesis, And It Was Good. How the way to fight against what is scary and ugly in our world is to see creation as God meant it to be, what He has given us and invited us to be a part of.  "If I affirm that the universe was created by a power of love, and that all creation is good, I am not proclaiming safety. . . . Love is worth that risk, and so is birth, its fulfillment."  Bringing a child into the world declares a belief in life and goodness not because everything happening in the world is good, but because God and His design is. And it is even in the midst of a world tainted by sin and death.
"This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And nova lightning the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late,
That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honor & truth were trampled by scorn--
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.
When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by greed & pride the sky is torn--
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth."

Along with all those kinds of thoughts swirling around inside my head, this conversation with Noah also kind of sealed the deal in the name choosing.  (I told him this and his response was, "well, I don't know if that is the name I would pick."  But someday he is going to think it is super cool, right? Right.)

With all of this, the song "God Is So Good" has been very special and one Tobiah has heard many times already.
It is extra special because of memories attached to it of my wonderful mentor Wendell who recently passed away.  I picture him in the downstairs dining hall at camp leading everyone in this song each time I hear it.  I do not have words to express how dear those times are to me and how much they have affected who I am today. 
To add to that, the Sunday before Tobiah was born I thought on the way to church, "we are going to sing 'God Is So Good' today, I just know it."  (And I had not peeked at my pastor husband's order of worship to know this, either... ;)  And guess what, we did.
The note in the picture is one that Wendell wrote.  It says, "Jesus creates life.  Jesus offers life.  Jesus fulfills life."
"In a world where fewer and fewer people believe in God at all, where life is for so many an unimportant accident with no meaning, where we are born only to slip back into annihilation, we need to stop arguing and affirm the goodness of creation, and the power of love which holds us all." ~Madeline L'Engle
A baby's hair swirl, that distinct "baby smell" of a newborn that is gone all too soon, tiny wrinkly fingers and toes, the fierce love of a parent for their child, to me these things affirm the goodness of creation and of my God as loudly as possible. 

I am so thankful for the life and goodness that has come into our home through our precious son.
Tobiah!  God is good!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

God is good. I am loved.

We have been talking a lot lately about being made in the image of God--what that means and what comes along with it.  We are working on memorizing Ephesians 2:10 and even added some cool new artwork in their room to go with it:

And a bonus panoramic view of their room because I was playing with my phone.  I love their room and so do they and that makes me happy. :)

Ephesians 2:10 (which is what is on the painting in the middle) says: "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  I love the phrase "God's masterpiece" and what it speaks into us self-image wise.  It is perfect for my little artists!  And for Lydia apparently meant many jewels were needed for our "masterpiece" picture frame project. :)
One of the biggest reasons we homeschool is so that we as parents can have the loudest voice speaking into them as their self-image develops, which is a responsibility and privilege that I don't take lightly and one that I want to continue to be more intentional about.
The more we get into homeschool and the more research I do (which is quite a bit, because I just love it), the more I like the Charlotte Mason method.  There is a lot of her ideas that I just do naturally, and some that I am working on implementing more into our days. Her motto for students of "I am; I can; I ought; I will" really strikes a chord with me.
I wanted to see what Noah would say with the statement "I am...", so we did a little finish-the-sentence/word association thing where I told him to finish the sentence I started.  I began with really concrete things that I know he likes, "Minecraft is..."  "Legos are..." and then moved on to more concepts, "Learning is..."  "Family is..." etc.

When I got to "God is..."  he finished it with "good".
When I asked him to finish "I am..."  he said "loved".

Well, my mama heart felt pretty amazing after that.  If he goes through life with the foundation of "God is good.  I am loved.",  I think I have done my job well.

So to anyone reading this, let's all yet again learn from a child and go back to those truths that no matter what is going on around or inside us, God IS good and you ARE loved.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Prematurity Awareness

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and today in particular is World Prematurity Day.  (Have you seen any pictures of buildings lit up purple today?  That is why.)  Although we are pretty aware of prematurity every day over here, it is especially meaningful to make Noah pose for pictures like this today. :)

Can you believe he will be 6 in just a month?!  In some ways the NICU seems worlds away, and in some ways I can still picture every detail. 
I must admit I'm not entirely clear on the goals of the whole "awareness day" thing. . .  The numbers being shared today are that 1 in 10 babies are born too soon, and that complications related to preterm birth are the largest cause of infant mortality worldwide.  So there is that.

But here are some much more personal things when I think "awareness" and prematurity.  Some I am very glad for, and some not so much.
I am aware of:
-What things like surfactant and TPN and EPO and PICC lines and so on are and what they actually do.
-What it is like to hear your phone ring and it be instantly connected to wondering if your baby is okay.
-The horrible feeling of not being able to hold or care for your own baby.
-The awesome awesomeness of NICU doctors and nurses.
-What it is like to thank someone for saving your child's life.
-What it is like to receive gift after gift and be able to do nothing except say thank you.
-What it is like to be part of a special little community that you can only be a part of by going through the same thing as the others in it.
-What it is like to be able to say "I understand" in a very difficult circumstance and actually mean it.
-What it means to be "emotionally exhausted".
-That the phrase "the power of a mother's touch" is more than just a cliche.
-What it is like to literally just sit and listen to your child breath and be thankful for each and every one he takes.
-A new level to what it means to be part of the body of Christ and to be "lifted up in prayer".
-That you can be really, really excited about words like "normal" and "ordinary".
-That the combination of snuggling, breast milk, and countless prayers can have a result that looks like this:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Third trimester, baby!

 28 weeks!!!  Third trimester!!!  We officially made it!
Based on my appetite and bump and Baby Sidekick's internal organ kicking skills, he has been doing some good growing!  An ultrasound today confirmed that he is around 2 1/2 pounds, right where he should be, and still very healthy and very active.  My doctor said they put in the numbers and if he continues to growing at the rate he has been, he will be right around 7 pounds at delivery (Lydia was 6 lb 15 oz).  We'll take it. :)
My blood pressure continues to look good and overall I have been feeling pretty good.  I also did the nice sugary beverage glucose test today and passed that fine, so that is another little piece of good news.  Also, shout out to my OB nurse who did immunizations today.  (Last time I got the flu shot it was not so good and I could barely move my arm for a few days...)  I am very thankful for my skilled doctor and nurses!  Oh, and I don't have to have another ultrasound and such for another month, just like a "normal" pregnancy.  I believe that word was even used today!

Well, I am off to celebrate by looking at baby things online and buying the crib set I have been looking at for months.
Also, I came home from my long appointment today to this:
Life is good.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Baby Sidekick

Well, I figure there's no better reason to bring back the ol' blog than for more baby updates!  Hooray for Baby #3!  The first name Noah suggested for the baby was "Sidekick" because of course, this baby will get to be his sidekick, so that is the fun nickname so far. :)

I am 25 weeks now and feeling great!  And already feeling big.  It is crazy to think that this baby is already right around the size Noah was when he was born.  We have had one ultrasound already where the description "very healthy and very active" was used.  We will still be closely watched come the 28 week mark, but the chances of something happening again are extremely low since Lydia's pregnancy was fine.  If everything continues to go well, Baby Sidekick will make his arrival on January 27.

I am so happy to get to experience pregnancy again.  (Um, I don't know if I would have said that during the first trimester, but that is all behind us now...)  The first pregnancy was what is was; the next time I was comparing every little detail to that first time around; this time I almost feel like a "normal" pregnant lady. :)  I feel like I know my body and what to expect so much better and am not stressing and over-analyzing each little thing.
We also found out from that first ultrasound that it's a BOY!  Noah says he knew all along that it was a boy, just how he knew Lydia was a girl.  Or maybe the fact that he reaaaally wants a brother has something to do with it. :)  He is such a sensitive and loving kid; yes, he wants a boy to play with and like the same things as him, but he did phrase it one time that "if the baby is a girl then Lydia will like her more and no one will like to play with me."  I am excited to see him get to have a brother. :)

If her feelings right now stick, Lydia is going to be the best big sister ever.  She asks at least once a day if our baby is here yet.  Usually at some point during the day she will say, "I am excited!" and when you ask why she will say "for the baby!"  And one of her favorite things to do is list all the ways she is going to help with the baby when he is here.  My mom said I did that same thing before my brother was born. :)

Once in a while Noah will say things about how I won't have as much time to play with him if I am taking care of the baby, but overall they are both genuinely excited and happy that we are going to have another person in our family.  They love telling other people that we are going to have a new baby.  It just warms my heart, and reminds me what the reaction to a new life should be.
I won't go into a giant rabbit trail about the sad, sad state of how our society views children, but passing from that magic "1 girl and 1 boy American dream" territory makes me even more aware of it.  We have gotten a few comments that imply along those lines of "why would you have another one if you already have a boy AND a girl."  Oh, the silliness.  Look to the reaction of the 3 and 5 year olds here; a new baby is something to be happy about.  Don't get me wrong, there is certainly part of me that is terrified of being outnumbered. :)  And I don't think there is anything wrong with stopping at 1 or 2 and we would have been perfectly happy with 2.  And thinking of the diapers and sleepless nights isn't something that I am bubbling with excitement about.  But I am VERY excited to welcome Baby Sidekick to our family and for all the adventures we will have together. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

And A Half!

                                                          Dear Lydia,
This week we celebrated your half birthday!  It's hard to believe you are already halfway to 2!  You are such a big girl now--using so many words and trying to say most things that you hear, eating pretty much anything we put in front of you (your favorites are cheese, fruit, noodles, and chocolate), getting pretty much anywhere you need to go (some favorites are your brother's room, up on the coffee table, watching "tweet tweets" out the window, recently up onto the kitchen chairs, and into your family's arms for big hugs!).  You are still such a sweet and happy girl!  You always have a hug or "love you" for your family, give Daddy the best send-off and welcome home every day, and must have your hugs before you go to bed.  You have energy and smiles to spare, and have a great laugh.  You already have wonderful manners; it is so cute and makes us so happy.  You always say thank you, even when we change your diaper (which usually goes something like this: "Thank you, Mama!  Thank you... poop.  Thank you, Mama, poop.")  You have even picked up on "sorry" and "excuse me" and use them appropriately.  One of your new favorite things to say is "oops!"  You aren't sure if you should call yourself "A-djia" or "Baby" because your brother still insists on calling you GirlBaby most of the time.  You love your family so much and we love you!  Anything you see is given a role in a family, either a mama, daddy, baby, "O-ah", or Lydia.  I would say your favorite thing to do is look at books!  Right now your favorite is an "animal encyclopedia" that was mine when I was a little girl.  You are getting pretty good at saying many of the animal names (and of course if they are a dada, mama, or baby).  Some of your other favorite things are: wrestling and chasing, coloring, dressing up, playing with your babies, dancing, watching Little Einsteins (which  you call "pat pat.")

 You still absolutely adore your brother, and he is a very good brother to you.  (You know quite a bit about Star Wars and Rescue Bots thanks to him.)

Now, when I say we celebrated you half birthday, we actually did celebrate your half birthday.  Your brother and I love to throw parties!  We even had a cake and a half, which I wanted to do but Noah though of by himself too. :)

I will always be the crazy and slightly over-the-top party and picture mom that celebrates things like half birthdays.  I hope you guys are okay with that.  It's not just an excuse to make cake and get out decorations (although that is fun).  It is because I really, truly think you are worth celebrating.  I say my life is better with you in it, and I honestly mean it.  (Even when at a year and a half you are just starting to sleep through the night, like to stand up on furniture and watch me come running, and could win awards for drama.)  I call you a blessing because that is what you are.  When I say there isn't any other way I would rather spend my days, it is because right here watching you grow and being the one to take care of you is exactly where I want to be, and it is all worth it.  So get ready to have lots more pictures taken and more half birthdays and anything else we come up with celebrated.  We are so glad that you are part of our family, and I love being your Mama.  Happy Half Birthday, Lydia.  I love you more than I know how to express.