March 31, 2008

"I'm Going to Bed"

Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, 'I'm tired, and it's getting late. I think I'll go to bed.'

She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day's lunches. Rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning. She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the washer. She picked up the game pieces left on the table, put the phone back on the charger and put the telephone book into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk, wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a text book out from hiding under the chair.

She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mom then washed her face with 3 in 1 cleanser, put on her Night solution & age fighting moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and filed her nails.

Dad called out, 'I thought you were going to bed.'

'I'm on my way,' she said.

She put some water into the dog's dish then made sure the doors were locked and the patio light was on.

She looked in on each of the kids and turned out their bedside lamps and TV's , hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks into the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework. In her own room, she set the alarm; laid out clothing for the n ext day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her 6 most important things to do list. She said her prayers, and visualized the accomplishment of her goals.

About that time, Dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular.. 'I'm going to bed'

And he did..without another thought.

March 30, 2008

Luke 14 County Fair - A Success!

We did it! The Luke 14 dinner was quite a success. Our plan went a little haywire about 10 minutes before it started, but not one guest noticed. (Thankfully, they didn't know our plan!) And I think we recovered about 45 minutes into it all...

We had about 300 guests and 150 volunteers Friday night. We had dinner, dancing (don't tell... we're a Baptist church!) and tons of other fun! Every guest I spoke with had a great time. Many, many guests left with obviously lighter hearts than when they arrived. Many volunteers left with lighter hearts than they arrived too! (More than half the volunteers, I'd say, were scared out of their wits to be paired 1:1 with a person with disabilities. But they all did great!!)

Our speakers were a couple who work at Joni & Friends in Charlotte. The woman was in her first marriage when she received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Soon after, her husband brought her a book he wanted her to read, The Open Marriage. He said she needed to find someone to fulfill her needs so he wouldn't feel so guilty. Her present husband loved her knowing her health would deteriorate. Wow! We got to go to lunch with them and our friends today and got to know them better. They have a great story and are great people!

This is the calm before the storm.

Each guest got a decorated hat and a hug as they arrived.

This guy was telling me one legged waitress jokes before he ever went inside! He had sooooooo much fun!

This handsome little guy is in my Sunday School class. He loves, loves, loves Robert! He is a twin and his twin has no disability at all. A month or so ago, his mom was getting him out of the bath and he said in his very slow, extremely slurred speech, "Mom, when J was born, everything came out okay. When I was born, there were some problems. Why can't I walk?"

Ugh. Doesn't that make you feel like you just got punched in the gut? Me too.

And then today in Sunday School he prayed, "Thank you Jesus that you love me so much."

And this handsome little guy we get to see often as well. He is the brother of a teenage girl with whom I do Algebra II. And he obviously enjoyed that chocolate chip cookie he just finished!

This is our pastor.

The man in the striped shirt in the next picture is Vlad. Read this story first: He moved here from Russia. He was an incredibly intelligent scientist there when he was sought out for a local high profile laboratory. When he arrived here, we made him take all of our vaccines, though he was completely healthy. He was ruined immediately. Now he lives in a group home and has to have others care for him. He wanders aimlessly and behaves as if he's mentally retarded at this point, though I don't know for certain. We have a young lady coming to our bible study who is from the Ukraine. When we knew Vlad was coming to the dinner, we asked Svitlana to come and hopefully meet him. We found him and I said, "You are Vlad, right?" I got a blank stare. Svitlana spoke one sentence in Russian and his eyes lit up! He's smiling here telling his family something like, "Did you hear that???"

Svitlana was really encouraged to be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus for this man.

And this crazy kiddo is in my Sunday School class as well. He danced forever!!
Today we had another Sunday School class with us, and as soon as we sat down for our story, he said, "Welcome to our class, new friends!!"

We took pictures of each guest, had them developed and handed them out to each guest before they went home. This guy was so excited to get his picture! He said, "Is that me??"

This young lady was our guest too! She is considered the poster child for the partial birth abortion ban. Her mother was encouraged to abort her at 7 months gestation when some test results came back significantly abnormal. You've got to read her story!

And here is the gym full of life!

Robert and I were talking this afternoon about being out of our comfort zone. Even with all my experience, I'm often out of my comfort zone with people with disabilities! I just decide to fake it well when I need to, I think! He said it's kind of like the good Samaritan. Lots of times we pass hurting people by because we feel awkward, don't know what to say, don't want our kids to stare, don't know if they understand us, "just don't feel called," are way too busy, etc. But you know, how in the world can't we all be called to love people God created... in His image... with a hurting heart just like us?

March 26, 2008

Luke 14 Dinner

This Friday is the big event! Our church hosts an outreach dinner each year where the guests of honor are those in and around our community with disabilities. This year's theme is a County Fair. It is a major event to plan and has been a lot of work! But it is sure to be a major blessing for all involved. Here is an excerpt that my friend, Darlene, included in her letter to churches who are considering hosting a Luke 14 dinner.

  First of all, according to Luke 14, this apparently is just the kind of party Jesus himself would throw! His “Guest List” would include: the lame, the blind, the poor, the disabled, and the outcast – just the crowd He loved to hang out with! 

Some of the activities we have this year: professional square dancers (for entertainment and participation!), face painting, puppetry (provided by a 32 year old with autism!), a full petting zoo, The Sunshine Singers (a choir whose members all have down syndrome), county fair booths, antique tractors, hamburgers and hot dogs hot off the grill, clowns and more! We've invited people from all around our community, and so far have more than 240 guests coming! Be praying for this event: the volunteers, the guests, the details! This is also a kick-off of sorts for our disability ministry at our church. This Sunday will be our first Sunday School class for adults with disabilities, and we already have three members! And we're starting to provide Special Care for children with disabilities while their families attend church/small group. Most of the people attending are unchurched, and we're hoping to provide a place where all can come. Please pray with us for this.

Luke 14:12-14 "Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

March 25, 2008

August Rush

This is a great movie! We rented this this weekend and really enjoyed it. It is clean, warm, and creative. I'd let any child watch it.
It's a bout a little boy who is orphaned at birth and his search to find his parents. Everything he hears creates music in his head... the electrical wires, traffic, a swingset, wind, etc. He insists his parents hear this music as well and it will be what draws them back together. In the meantime, he is discovered to be a musical prodigy. It's just a great movie!

Here is the pluggedinonline review. Honestly, these reviews are great for info, but I've found that most of the stuff they tell you about is not even noticed in the movie. They mention one point where a little girl says, "Holy ---." (She doesn't finish the phrase.) But she is six, and could just as easily been saying "holy cow." She runs out of the room before she finishes.

So, now you have something to do this weekend!

"I love you, Mattie..."

Jacob says today, while hugging Mattie, "I love you Mattie........ even when you disobey, I still love you."

March 23, 2008

Mattie and her baby

I caught the little girl loving on her baby a bit today.
Here they are in their matching dresses.

March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Here are the kids in their Easter finery for this year. Mattie's dress came with a matching dress for her baby is so cute! The dolly is dressed, but Mattie was not interested in posing with her! We'll try later. Surely after some Easter chocolate she'll be happier.

We're going to church this morning, then coming home to have lunch with Robert's parents. We're going to hide the eggs we dyed and have a hunt with the kids. We had an invitation to do a group hunt, but this year with both kids and their food allergies, we decided to forego all the candy that they can't have anyway and just stay home. (Plus, our last two weekends have been insane, so we're looking forward to enjoying some family time!) And then in the evening, I'm performing 3:16 with our church choir. It is a great production based on Max Lucado's book, 3:16 The Numbers of Hope. It is arranged mostly by Travis Cottrell. The music is excellent. It's by far the best musical I've ever been a part of, from a worship perspective.

Hopefully you have a great day planned to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!

Happy Easter!

March 16, 2008

Praise the Lord for his mercy today!

We've had another eventful afternoon! Mattie fell at church (we were with her) from about 4 feet in the air. She went straight on her face with nothing to break her fall on that concrete floor. She was instantly lethargic and really out of it. Definitely like nothing I've ever seen before with either of my kids. So we left church to come home and get her blanket and pacifier. She was calming some, but then she threw up once. By now an hour had passed since her fall, so we called the doctor while we were waffling about what to do and which hospital to go to. He said since the vomiting was an hour from her fall and she was still very lethargic, we had to take her in.

So back we went to Children's. We feel like old friends, now! Anyway, in the car I asked the Lord to let there be nothing wrong. She was asleep and within minutes she woke up almost like herself again when I got her out of the car! Seemingly in pain, but happy, so I almost turned around and headed right back to the car. But we decided to stay just in case. They checked her out and said she has a concussion to watch, but no brain bleeds (eek!), broken nose or skull fracture. I have to wake her up every two hours tonight, but as long as nothing else odd starts happening, she's good to go. Her face is swollen, and her mouth is hurting her, but she's still bright eyed.

Praise the Lord for His mercy and protection for her!

One thing I didn't know before today... the doctor said one thing that is important to watch for in the future... if they throw up within 30 minutes of a head injury, it's very common and of no concern. If they throw up more than 30 minutes after, they need to been seen in short order. A good tip to remember!

March 14, 2008

"I need you to understand..."

Me (after MANY unheeded warnings): "Jacob, CALM DOWN! You may not speak until you are done with the silverware. That will help you calm down some."

Jacob (after several minutes of silence): "Mom, I need you to understand that boys are wilder than girls and I'm supposed to be wild because I'm a boy. I just need you to understand that. It would really help me. Boys just do wild things."

March 12, 2008

Spring wasn't around this weekend...

It has begun to look a bit like spring around here, but this weekend (the same day Mattie was admitted to the hospital) we got a nice gift... some snow! We woke up with some flurrying, and kept hoping enough would fall to play in. Mattie woke up saying, "Snowman!" So we kept waiting, and about 1:30 we decided it was now or never. It was about to stop snowing and would probably start melting right away. So we woke Mattie up from her very short nap and bundled everybody up. It was only about 30 degrees and we get some pretty good wind up here on our hill.

For you northerners, don't laugh. This is enough snow to sled!

Mattie and I headed down the hill first.

And she was still smiling at the bottom!

Jacob loved his disc sled!

They tried it all together, and Robert lost a little trust with Mattie... his boots caused snow to spray her the entire time!

Jacob too...

Praise the Lord for strong Daddies!!!

Our happy eskimo girl!

We couldn't go in without having an icicle pop!

We tried to build a snowman, but the snow was too powdery so we went back to sledding. The we came back around front and Robert made this little guy for us! (He's not twelve inches tall.)

Isn't he the cutest little guy??

Then we went in for some yummy hot chocolate in Mommy's special cups! (And yes, Mattie's eye was swelling this whole time.)

She couldn't get enough. And Jacob's been asking for it ever since!

So that's our snow day, such as it was. Not a winter should go by where kids can't sled at least once. Now, Spring can come!


We have put our feeders out again! Last fall we had to take them in because they birds were making our back patio so dirty we didn't want to walk out on it. Those stinkin' Mourning Doves! But we've really missed seeing birds, so we thought we'd try again. This time we put the feeders in our front tree, which we'd previously avoided because of our dog. He's still around, but we thought we'd try anyway. And lo and behold, the birds have come! Apparently, he's not much of a "bird dog" after all. They all come with him lying right there in the sun beneath them.

Here are the new birds we've seen this time around, two of them today for the first time!

Tennessee Warbler

Dark-Eyed Junco

Blue Jay

Savannah Sparrow

Downy Woodpecker

Birdwatching has been so much more fun than I ever thought it would be! It seems to lighten the atmosphere of the whole house, because something exciting is happening every few minutes! I realized this today as we got all excited each time we saw a new bird. That's like conquering something too. Getting the right seed, putting the feeder in the right spot, and waiting while they come. I suppose victory is good for all of us!

Jacob came into me while I was in the shower this morning and described a new bird he'd just seen. His description was great! I was so proud of all the things he looked at before it flew away. He gave me a perfect description of a Blue Jay - one of the birds we were hoping would come! (He wants blue birds for my sake... he knows they're my favorite color.)

I know birds have some greater purpose in the circle of life, but I'll choose to be thankful that God sent them to our property to bring us joy today!

March 11, 2008

Meeting Needs

Missy, a lady on the Five in a Row message board posted this list of hers today, and I thought it was great. I know we can't do it all every day, but for me it's good to see a list in one place of things I can do for my children to remind myself of them. And to let me see where I am actually doing well. My weakness, however, is definitely the emotional needs section.

Physical needs
  • Am I providing healthy meals and snacks?
  • Am I ensuring they have their supplements, vitamins, and any needed meds?
  • Are their beds comfortable, cozy and is adequate sleep ensured?
  • Have I taken care of details such as fingernails, toenails, and bandaged their boo-boos?
  • Have I provided clean, comfortable clothes and shoes that fit?
  • Do they have needed supplies such as toothpaste, shampoo, and adequate toothbrushes?
  • Have I provided opportunities for them to be active and exercise?

Emotional Needs
  • Have I shown them love today?
  • Have I affirmed their self-worth?
  • Have they felt nurtured, cherished, safe, and loved?
  • Have I laughed with them?
  • When disciplining, was it done in love and respect?
  • Have I made our home a haven for them?
  • Have I made them feel special by preparing meals they love?
  • Have I listened to them and heard them with my ears, my eyes, my attention, and my heart?
  • Have I allowed independence and choice whenever possible?
  • Have I valued their input and participation in the family?
  • Have I given worth to the things they value?

Spiritual needs
  • Have I prayed with them?
  • Have I offered to pray for their needs today?
  • Have I provided spiritual food in the way of scripture, uplifting music, or sound teaching today?
  • Have I directed their hearts toward Jesus?
  • Have I set a godly example before them through integrity, prayer, study, relationships and responsibility?
  • Have I encouraged their faith?
  • Have I shown them how to encourage and help others?
  • Have I shown them ways to share the gospel?
  • Have I shown them ways to apply scriptures?
  • Have we came together as a family to pray, read, study, share, and enjoy God?

March 10, 2008

We're Home!

We have spent the weekend with illness around here. Thursday evening I came down with a nasty stomach virus. (We had plans to take the kids to the circus Friday morning at 10:30! That's another blog entry that I had typed out already and it deleted itself...) Robert, Mattie and Jacob have been coughing all weekend. And Saturday around noon, Mattie's eye started puffing up for no known reason. We knew she hadn't bumped it, because she's not one to get hurt and not let me share her pain!

This was what it looked like by 6:30 Saturday. By Sunday morning it seemed much more painful and she could barely open it at all.

My brother in law just had this (or something similar) a month or two ago and sent an e-mail with a picture. In his e-mail he told us it's a good thing he'd gone to the doctor instead of let it go, because this can be a fatal infection! I'm also one to wait stuff out, especially when the ER is my only option, but after a little googling, we went to the ER.

And our small town ER sent us to the local children's hospital where they admitted her. Apparently the best antibiotic for this infection (periorbital preseptal cellulitis) is one to which Mattie is allergic. So that left only IV antibiotics. This is not an infection to mess around with, as it can get serious very quickly and cause meningitis and a whole host of other problems.

Mattie was a champ with her IV and blood draws. She was madder than a hornet and quite loud about it, but didn't fight us too badly. And once it was in, she left the board and ports there without bothering it a bit. She even slept well both nights! When they came for her first IV I told her it was medicine for her arm. She said, "Medcin! Yay!"

Robert came to give me a shower break... and let me take a nice walk to Starbucks (which was not nearly far enough away)!

So, twelve hours of one IV antibiotic later, it was only getting worse, so they added another one. And this one required regular blood work every 24 hours. After that second one, the swelling went down very quickly. We could see noticeable differences every half an hour or so. Praise the Lord!

Perking up after the antibiotics were working...

So today they discharged us about 3:00. She has a full round of oral antibiotics (all my hard work of avoiding antibiotics down the drain in 48 hours!!) and should be good as new...

Thank you for your prayers.

Several blessings in this:

1) That Danny had this two months ago so I knew to be concerned quickly. I kept remembering his e-mail.

2) We were able to avoid a CT scan (that they had initially planned for us) and sedation that would have gone with it.

3) There was a bed in our room instead of a crib! This meant that I had a place for her to play off the floor (other than being in jail in those metal cribs) and that I could sleep with her... so we actually slept (as well as can be expected on vinyl mattresses)!

4) That this (and my nasty virus) happened on a weekend when Robert was here.

My sweet baby...

who's getting crankier by the minute as these antibiotics build up in her system.

March 06, 2008

What a beautiful day!

Oh! It is a beautiful day here today! It's reminding me how much I'm ready for Spring! I hope it's not too far around the corner, as it's supposed to be cold again in two days. But for today, we enjoyed it! We opened windows, went outside and took a walk, noticed some seeds on trees, hung some bird feeders in the front yard, swept out the garage, cleaned up around the kids area, and played on the back patio in the sunshine for a long time. There are still toys scattered out there... I'm so glad we've had nowhere to go. I'm looking forward to enjoying the cozy sun-warmed rooms this afternoon.

We have perennials coming up, it won't be long for tulips!

Picture by Harvey Magee

March 02, 2008

The Most Beautiful Flower Girl Ever!

And no, I'm not at all biased!

Mattie did a great job! She was a bit hesitant at first and just smiled like crazy at all the strangers looking at her. Then she spotted me in the front row and took off - no petal dropping on the way! We (yes, "we") dropped all the flowers in the front 3 feet of the aisle... exactly how it got done at my wedding! Apparently this provided some much needed comic relief for the groom, about whom the pastor was getting a bit worried.

Here are some of the pictures I took myself, but I was so focused on keeping her happy and successful, I missed a ton of beautiful photo ops! If only the photographer (Uncle Peter) was there only to photograph Mattie... I think he has at least a couple of good ones I'll post when I get them. I didn't want to wait on all of these.

Getting ready with all the girls

Enjoying a much needed food and play break before the wedding started

A quick family shot

Yeah, that's candy. And yes, Mattie dumped hers out within seconds of being up there... We had to keep them quiet somehow! I must say for three kids, not quite 2, just 2 and not quite 3, they did incredibly well! I didn't have to carry any of them out kicking and screaming, so we all considered it a success. (I did, however, have to escort Mattie out during the recessional. Actually, I had to carry her the last 10 feet. At least I matched.)

I realize this pic leaves a lot to be desired photographically, but the pastor was praying, and the wedding was not all about my beautiful child, I realized, so I could not use flash since I was not the official photographer. (I could have held the camera more stable, but I forgot about that part in the midst of it all.) But the kids were so cute I couldn't resist.

Daddy (or "Robert" as she's been calling him this week) and his princess

Finally free to play!!

Our beautiful gift!

Very Last First Time

This is the Five in a Row book we did this past week. I think it was one of our favorites; it was one of mine anyway. We read many books about the Inuit (an Eskimo people group) people and focused on the Canadian arctic.

We looked at the Inuit language and figured out (as best I could) what Jacob's name would look like. We also found a website where we listened to a young boy say some words in the Inuit language.

We also learned about which animals live in the Canadian Arctic and how they relate to each other (nice way of writing "which ones eat each other"). Jacob said, "Mom, isn't that just called the food chain?"

Here is a mural Jacob did this week too. (It's 5 feet x 2 feet!) We printed the pictures from Jan Brett's website, then Jacob colored them the appropriate colors. We also took this opportunity to learn about shading and perspective. Then Jacob glued them all where he thought they should go.

One of the fun things about this book is that several of the illustrations contain hidden animals. So Jacob and I went to a local restaurant (edited to add: Captain's Galley for you local folks) and looked at the mural in their entryway that also contained hidden animals. We found them all! (And yes, I think the hostesses and nearby customers thought I was quite strange taking pictures of the mural and Jacob. I'm sure they thought I was really wierd when we left without eating!) This was also a great time to look at this artist's perspective and shading since I don't see us in an art museum anytime soon. We tried that once...

The story line of Very Last First Time is a young Inuit girl going under the ice to look for mussels for the first time without her mother. At the climax of the story, her candles burn out and she can't find her way back to the hole in the ice, but the tide is coming in. Jacob could not understand why she would be afraid, so we finally made this to demonstrate that when the tide came in, she'd either drown or freeze to death in the water. Pretty grim, but he finally got it.

And at the end of the book, Eva finds the hole in the ice and dances in the moon's rays shining through it. Right as we read that we glanced outside and saw this in the clouds! It was the only hole in the clouds thickly covering the entire sky, and it was perfect just for us!

And Jacob has been using the How To Draw books lately. (This one actually came in a recent magazine.) He's really enjoying these and building his drawing confidence this way. And yes, polar bears actually appear a very light yellow. Their hair is actually hollow... never knew that!

This was just a sweet book we read along this week.

And another great book that Mattie received as a gift for Christmas! This is a new book of Jan Brett's. Jan and her husband actually visited a Canadian Inuit village that became the inspiration to retell and illustrate this book. Read about her trip here!