June 27, 2010

Last week: VBS! (Busy! cont'd)

Continued from previous post...

Last week: VBS.  Enough said, right?

Okay, I'll tell you about it...  This was another 5 days of being out of the house early all week.  I had four other kids that I took this year, two of whom I had to stop and collect, so I really needed to be on time each day (plus I had a job to do!).

I did not teach a Special Friends class this year.  We did it all as inclusion (which had its strengths and weaknesses) so I just coordinated the thirteen children who needed shadows.  Inclusion takes a lot of manpower!  At the last minute we had eight practicum students from a local college join us, so we had more than enough help.  They were great help (though not very experienced), plus there are now eight people who belong to eight different churches who have now seen the need for and blessing of disability ministry in the church!  I do have to say though, it ended up a bit of a bummer for me as I had to administrate instead of be a shadow myself.  I just like being hands on with these kids.  It is life-giving to me.  The last day I thought I was going to get to be a buddy and I had just told my good friend how glad I was that we had just the right number.  Well, I got to enjoy it for twenty minutes. One more helper arrived.  Bummer!!

Aside from the great helpers, we saw other areas in which we've grown this year: the children all over VBS were very accepting of our unique crowd!  We made lots of noise, had spit and slobber, spewing food tubes, stinky diapers on third graders, and spilled drinks.  But the kids just took us right in stride!  The best part?  So did the adults!  We were blessed to be included with a great teacher who did not only tolerate us, but loved us and included us.  God is doing big things...

Back to the schedule:
I know it sounds silly to remark up on being out of the house early, but this is not our strength!  I was so thankful the Lord blessed us with TEN days of being up, ready and out ON TIME!  The best part?  We were cheerful every day!!!  Not once did we have to rush out the door while nagging or arguing and rushing.  I have also really enjoyed being up early and while it will take a lot of work and discipline, I'd like to keep it this way.  I have worked really hard at maintaining bedtime for the summer, and so far we're doing great.  (We totally lost ground last year and it took us until October to recover our bedtime schedule. I am bound and determined to stick with a routine this year!)  Today we were up and done with breakfast by 8:45, whereas we usually start around 9:00.  I know we will reap benefits if we can keep it up.

So that's been our last three weeks!  Good times...

June 26, 2010

Busy! Three and two weeks ago...

Oh my goodness!  Life has been busy around here lately!

Three weeks ago: We've been trying to catch up on playdates, so there were three or four in that week, plus a surprise visit from my aunt, Marcy, et al on their way to the Wild West!.  At the end of that week I went on a retreat with our Women's Council.  I had such a great time!  We had planning meetings, shopped, did makeovers, laughed our heads off, got treated to The Melting Pot (a de-licious fondue restaurant), laughed some more, shopped some more and had sweet fellowship while building deeper relationships with some sisters in Christ.  Did I mention I had a great time?

Two weeks ago: Last week Jacob had Upward basketball camp at church, which had us out the door by 8:10 every morning.  Mattie and I stayed near church and ran errands, had meetings (while she had playdates), and helped prepare for VBS.

Jacob seemed to really make some improvement during camp!  We had a misunderstanding, so he didn't really mean to say he wanted to go to basketball camp, rather he wanted to play basketball during the season.  But by the time I realized it, he already had a spot.  And honestly, I felt like he needed the experience, and not because I think he's going to be a star basketball player.  Settings like basketball camp are hard for Jacob for several reasons: anxiety about what to expect, lots of visual and auditory stimulation (especially in a gym!), significant fear of failure in front of peers, being told what to do by a lot of authority figures other than myself, Robert, or other familiar people, and having a different snack than everyone else five days in a row.  Unfortunately in his protected little world of home schooling, he has few opportunities to grow in a lot of these areas, except of course, the food one.  Not to mention the fact that he was pretty overwhelmed with the fast paced basketball games this winter, so he really needs the focused skill building time if he wants to play again!

I was really proud of him!  He hung in there against his desire.  By the third day he had something positive to report (to say he's a glass half empty kind of kid would be the understatement of the year) and by the end of the week he was pleased with his performance.  The coach said skill-wise, Jacob did well and definitely made progress!  Success!

And last week was VBS... I'll do that in another post as this is getting really long!

June 20, 2010

We love you, Daddy!

Happy Father's Day to Robert!

The kids were really excited to celebrate Father's Day this year, and I was proud of myself for actually completing two creative projects!  Robert is a great father and worthy of celebration.  :)
Superheroes are a part of every day life here right now, so I used this idea for a Superhero Survival Kit.  The kids were so excited about this one and loved helping with it.  I was pretty impressed both of them kept a secret!

Here are some pics we took dressed up in all things Daddy.  I've wanted to do this in years past, and knew that Jacob's almost old enough that it wouldn't be cute anymore.  I made a framed collage for him to put on his dresser, and the kids had photo frames they made at Lowe's to fill.

Silliness in Robert's big white undershirts.

White button ups.

Robert's hobby gear.
Trying really hard not to smile in the hats he wears every day.
We love you, Daddy!  You're the best!

June 19, 2010

Eleven years ago today...

Eleven years ago today, I married my best friend.  
 Our first nine years were relatively uneventful regarding disagreements, but the last two years have brought a good dose of challenges.  Moving, extended family situations, depression and other health issues in addition to our every day life have taxed us and stretched our relationship a bit more than I would have liked!  But those waves that have been made create a bond that was stronger than before we had to hold tight together.  It was a good day to celebrate what we have after all is said and done.  

I was so excited when we got married.  I can still remember how fun it was to have "boy things" in my closet as we settled in together... his camo coat, dirty socks, guns and huge boots!  I am endeared to the play in the dirt kind of boys, and Robert was definitely that!  I said then that getting married was the beginning of a lifelong slumber party with my best friend.  And while the last two years brought a set of challenges that weren't so slumber party-ish, we're back to the fun slumber party again.  And I'm enjoying the laughter and rest!

We are so much more comfortable in our own skin now after eleven years, the "skin" that we've found together.  We're brave enough to make waves, and we're learning to help each other swim.  We're trusting enough to try and look for each other's heart on issues.  We're in deep enough to be real and appreciate it from one another.  And thankfully, we can handle knowing that we've blown it and are usually willing to get through to the other side, though sometimes that takes a while!  (We still have a long way to go!)
God is good to hang in there with us.  This gift of marriage still blows me away when I think about it, really.  A relationship like we have with no. one. else. on the planet!  How cool is that?

And if it was my choice all over again?  I'd choose the same man to have as my other half.  I can't wait to see how much better it gets.

June 16, 2010

Two New Bibles

Jacob and I have both gotten new Bibles recently, and we love them!

For Jacob's birthday I got him The Picture Bible, Deluxe Edition
It is the story of the Bible written as a graphic novel, or a comic book.  Yes, it is different than actual Bible verses, but I believe there is a time and a place for giving a child a Bible he enjoys reading!  (He also has the NIrV for direct scripture learning.)  He sits in church and reads through pages and pages of this one, where his other one was visually overwhelming for his maturity level.  And I've found him in his room reading through it because he likes it.  That's good enough for me!
And I recently got the Holman Illustrated Study Bible.
I've been reading out of my New American Standard study Bible for 15 years and just needed a change.  Because I'm a very visual person, I needed it to look different when I read it so it would jump out at me.  I was sold when I saw the relevant photographs, charts, maps and time lines they have throughout the books (not all in one place in the back).  And because Beth Moore uses this one in her Bible studies, and I've liked how it reads I went for it.  I'm so happy I went with it!  I have enjoyed reading it again and it's new to me in ways I needed it to be.  That sounds totally seeker sensitive to describe it that way, but that's the truth!  When I'm reading familiar passages now they catch my eye and focus because they look new and are worded differently, as opposed to my eyes overlooking them because I've looked at the same underlining and notes for fifteen years.  The best part... I got exactly what I wanted for less than ten dollars at a discount store.  :)

June 15, 2010

Healing or Crushing?

The tongue that heals is a tree of life,
but a devious (deceitful, perverse, crooked) tongue breaks (fractures, ruins, crushes) the spirit.
Proverbs 15:4 
When I read this tonight I thought at first of a person who would purposely twist the truth; a less attractive word for it: lying.  I would not say I am a person who struggles with dishonesty.  But when I look into the roots of these words, I see that I certainly am guilty of this struggle when I see another meaning!  
The word devious comes from the word celeph which means "to twist, distort, overturn, ruin or turn upside down."  While my intent is not to consciously lie, if I choose to pervert His word by tearing down, speaking harshly or cruelly to, mocking, rudely interrupting, or any form of  speech that is contrary to love and respect, I am guilty of deviating from the correct path.  
The truth of God's word tells me that the person to whom I am speaking is a treasured child of God who is worthy of respect and kindness, and if I choose to speak to that person in any way that deviates from that truth, I am at that point speaking with a devious tongue.  And conscious or not, it is damaging.  Crushing, actually.

Oh!  Let me be a tongue that brings healing to my husband.  Let me be a tree of life for my children!   Holy Spirit, speak to me before I speak words that will crush the spirit of another and hurt You. 

June 09, 2010

Some rearranging around here

You'll notice a few changes around here!

I'm changing some things to make my blog load more quickly when we click on it.  Some of my link lists were getting quite long!  (The longest list in particular got lost by accident in the transition, so now it's really short!  Ha!)  And I liked it when I switched it to three columns because it was different, but it has always seemed more cluttered that way.  So I got into the nitty gritty of the html, made my own background and am working on posting some of the longer link lists as separate pages so they won't bog down the upload time.  I also wanted to have a few things easier to spot, Our Adoption Story for one, Disability Ministry for another.  I love my happy font (appropriately named "peaMelissa")and will get it back but I need to go to bed.  That's going to have to wait for another day.

So be patient!  It will look a little bit different every few days until I get it settled.  You know how it goes when you rearrange...


Ten minutes later...
Ugh!  I got the happy font back more quickly than I thought I would.  But I got on the desktop to do it (did all the rest of the laptop) and the color of the striped paper on the sides is terrible!  On the laptop it looks really nice.  On the desktop it all has this overwhelming yellow tint to it.  Now I really am going to bed. 

June 08, 2010


We went camping this weekend!  This was a bit more primitive than I'd prefer, but the trade off was that the kids had freedom to run and yell on acreage without disturbing any neighbors.  That's worth not having a shower.  :)  We went with long time friends who brought their three grandsons, and the kids could not have played together more beautifully!  We did learn, however, that we have outgrown our tent.  Being over six feet tall, climbing in and out a four foot zippered door over kids' (Jacob's ankles or Mattie's head) is really a pain in the neck, all the while trying to not let in any daddy long legs or mosquitoes.  We're camping again in July... I need to be watching for tent sales!

Jacob got to enjoy staying up a bit later than all the younger ones.  The advantage of being the oldest!
We're in the middle of a FIRE unit for school, so that played out in camping as well.  Watch for that in another post.

Sleepy girl with her bedhead.  Poor girl ended up with a random fever the second night, and of course I had no Tylenol.  Not that I could have gotten it in her anyway.

The daddies went out and cleared a spot for the kids to play.  They even hung up a tire swing!  (I'm still hearing "_wing me!  Somebody _wing me!" in my sleep.)

And you thought I was kidding when I said primitive.  I just hoped to avoid poison ivy in sensitive areas.

Jensen, Mattie, Cole, Gabe, and Jacob

Mattie and Cole decided they were best friends.

We went down to the river to fish one afternoon too.  Robert is such a patient daddy!  (Fishing with a "half empty" kind of kid can be a bit, ummm, exhausting.)

Jacob caught one!

Looks like good fishing, huh?

Mattie was eager to use her pink fishing pole.

While Mattie waited her turn, she made up a game (imagine that!).  She made mud balls (aka algae balls)...

...and threw them at targets (rocks) in the river.  She got quite a few points!  (Here she is in "level 4.")

And here's our primitive bath.  :)  At least the kids got sun warmed water!  We adults went to the river.  One can feel remarkably refreshed with a washcloth, a squirt of Dawn and some breathtakingly cold river water.

June 03, 2010

Unofficial Weight Watchers

Some of you know that Robert and I have done an unofficial version of weight watchers without really joining (meaning it was free).  We found all of these sites online, and just made our own weekly recording chart.  (I can't attach that here, but I'll e-mail it to you if you are interested.)  More than several times I've e-mailed all of these sites to people as they want to get started, so I thought I'd put them all here together. 
 I found all of this for FREE online.  None of this is information I have paid for and am illegally handing out to you. 

I have never needed to lose a large amount of weight as I have done ten pounds at a time when I've needed to, but using the points system has given me an awareness that I'll never forget.  Even when I'm not officially counting points, I keep the general habit of give and take in my head so I can stay healthy and feel good.  If I seem to be gaining and don't know why, I just start writing down my points and get the reality check I need!  And even if I'm not counting points for a weight loss reason, I feel better.  Counting points makes me avoid unhealthy foods, but it also makes me consume healthy ones that I otherwise avoid.  I triple my fruit and vegetable intake when I'm counting!  I also think the counting points concept works for me because I feel like I'm winning the game, and I don't cheat at games I'm playing.  If I stay within my daily points allotment, I feel like I'm ahead!  And saving my flex points for the weekend makes me feel like I get a reward.  Whatever it is, it works very well for me!  It does take the discipline of counting and being aware, but I don't know any successful long-term diet change program one can do without thinking.  It takes discipline to be healthy!

Online Point Calculator #1
Online Point Calculator #2

A chart of many generic foods and their point values.

A great website for restaurant and brand name nutritional and WW point info.

A one-point food list.  This site has other support information too.

And below is the formula to determine your points allotment.  (This may be an old formula, but it has worked for me twice.)

Daily Point Allotment Formula
Here’s something to try to figure out your daily allotment. You still get 35 Flex Points for the week.
1. Are you:
Female?………score 2
Male?………..score 8
Female and Breastfeeding?…..score 12

2. How old are you?
17-26…………..score 4
27-37…………..score 3
38-47…………..score 2
48-58…………..score 1
over 58…………score 0

3. What do you weigh?
Enter the 1st 2 digits of your weight in pounds.

4. How tall are you?
under 5′1………score 0
5′1 to 5′10…….score 1
over 5′10………score 2

5. Do you spend most of your day:
sitting down?……..score 0
Occasionally sitting, but mainly standing?….. score 2
Walking most of the time?……score 4
Doing physically hard work most of the time?….score 6

6. Do you want to:
Lose weight?………..score 0
Maintain your current weight?….score 4

If your numbers add up to more than 44, you only eat the 44, and if the
number is lower than 18, you eat the 18. 

June 01, 2010


I often struggle with Jacob and how much to help him.  He does not have an "I can do it myself" bone in his body (Mattie, on the other hand has an entire skeleton of them!), so I often wonder if he really needs help or if he doesn't want to try to do it himself.  Couple this with him being a perfectionist who seems to be afraid of failure, and I end up most often at the second conclusion: he doesn't want to try.  And that makes me expect too much of him, because I don't trust his requests.

I went to the CHAP conference recently and surprisingly, this was one of the topics that was addressed in an essay writing seminar (not even one I really needed to attend!). Well, not surprising that it was addressed with writing... surprising that how much to help was the main nugget I left with.  I was so thankful, as this was a question I'd been wondering about for some time!  Andrew Pudewa was the speaker, and his conclusion was that one cannot help a child too much.  He said that children will inevitably say so when he or she can do it by themselves.  A child will not want help when he feels confident.  (Not sure I agree with that if the child is just lazy, but in this context it made sense.)  He also made the point that insisting a child do something on his own will delay independence!

So how does this translate into our life - cleaning a room, using the dustpan after sweeping the kitchen, math, a comprehension question, folding a shirt, etc.  Those are the areas in which Jacob consistently asks for help.

So I came home and decided to test this theory of Mr. Pudewa's.  I sure wasn't convinced I was handling it the right way before, so I was open to something new!  It's been three weeks now, I think, and I've been consistently offering more help in these areas.  I didn't badger or abandon him before, but I would tend to help verbally or ask him more than once if he really needed help.  Now I'm just offering it.

Jacob seems to be much happier while doing these things.  He is complaining less about them, and actually said about himself the other day, "I can't believe how many I'm getting right!"  (As an aside, he's actually not getting a higher percentage right, he's just seeing it differently.)  He was playing with Legos the other day and was stumped as to what to build.  After offering 10 ideas and him still being negative, I went and sat next to him and offered to help.  He had a great penguin built in 5 minutes and didn't let me help him once.

As for now, this seems to be the right path.  I'm so thankful for the three or four minutes in the seminar.  This is one of those I want to be sure I don't forget. I know the Lord will always give me the help I need as well, and I think this is one of the ways I can share His grace with Jacob.