Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy 12th Birthday!!!!

And Happy 91st Birthday too!!

Last weekend we celebrated our daughter's 12th birthday and my amazing father-in-law's 91st birthday. He graciously allowed the celebrations to be combined. :-) In our family we do big friend parties every other year, and this was our daughter's year for just a "small" family party. We let her invite 2 friends over to join in our family celebration, and they had fun spray painting shirts. It was easier than tie-dying and dried faster!



When the girls were finished, our boys painted shirts too.






After dinner, the kids had a silly string war. It even spilled over to the adults and my father in law got in on the action! Notice the patio. We are *still* picking up silly string from the patio!


Our daughter received some lovely gifts, including this Anne of Green Gables book set from my parents. She got lots of new clothes from her other grandparents, and we gave her a new desk chair (have to wait on the desk, but she's having fun wheeling her desk chair allover her bedroom!) and certificates from my husband and me to take her on a one on one date. I also gave her my old Bible that I had received from my parents when I turned 12. She was very excited to receive such a keepsake, and told me later that one day if she has a daughter, she'll give it to her when she turns 12!








Happy Birthday to our sweet girl! We love the girl you are and the young woman you are becoming! You have brought us such joy, and we are very proud of you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Overheard....

While praying with Little Man at bedtime the other night:

Little Man: "Dear Jesus, thank you for my hair and that I'm not bald. Amen."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Antidote

Serving others has always been such a great antidote to selfishness and self-pity, no? Our family has been blessed by others in so many ways during our unemployment. We can't give back monetarily right now, but we felt that we needed to do something to help others in the same way we have been helped. So we spent a couple hours packing snack packs for inner city school children at a local food bank last Saturday. It was a fantastic experience to do together as a family, and there was something for every member of the family to do!

They had us form an assembly line down both sides of long tables set up with different snack foods that had been donated. One side of the table packed the bags with snacks from bins on the tables, and the other side of the table restocked the bins.

C, packing.


G and Little Man, restocking.


My hubby and daughter G, packing.

L, restocking.

And Little Man restocking too!


After the bags were tied, they were carried to a pallet (Little Man could carry two at a time!!) and stacked up neatly in bundles of 60, then shrink wrapped.


Together with other helpers, we packed 13 pallets in 2 hours, for a total of 780 snack packs!


We have never once gone hungry during these last 5 months, unlike some of the children who will be receiving these snack packs. How thankful we are for food! The children all had fun helping and we came home with a fresh appreciation for all that we have.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Life is Hard, but God is good

I was going to write an "our week in review" post today, but I just don't have the energy. Actually I don't really have the energy to write this post either, but it has been kicking around in my head for a couple weeks now and decided that this was the time to come out.

I am really tired of being un/under employed.

There have been many high points in the midst of this journey, and many rather dramatic instances of God's love and faithfulness (the unemployment blessings have been many!). I have had many days in a row, weeks even, where God's peace just enveloped me and I felt His love whispered over me and sometimes proclaimed loudly! It has not been all bad. In fact, in many ways it has been very good. But it has still been hard.

God's presence with us, and the hope we have in Him makes this journey bearable, but we still have to walk it. It is wearing to question every single purchase, make plans for the future with no guarantee of income, cook dinner every.single.night, and spend anxious moments wondering whether you or your child is truly sick enough to warrant a $93 Dr's office visit. It is stressful to wonder how you are going to pay for braces when you can't even afford the dental cleaning, what you are going to do when the van finally gets to the end of its slow, painful death, and hope that nothing has grown in your breast because you are overdue for your mammogram. It's painful to the core to worry about your husband's self esteem in the face of so much disappointment and seeming rejection.

I feel like all the weeks that God carried us on waves of His amazing provision and demonstrations of love, have been to prepare me for this time. This time of being weary. Of being worn. Will I trust Him now? Now when I don't feel like it? When there seems to be no end in sight? When thousands more people in our metro area are still, this week and next, losing their jobs? When all the news reports sound dire? Will I trust Him now? Today?

Yes, I will. And why will I trust Him?

Because He has not changed. He is the same God He has always been and will always be. His character does not change just because my feelings do. His faithfulness and truth do not change just because our situation does. He is unchanging. Unchanging! Isn't that marvelous? His essence is not affected by the economic downturn. By bankruptcy or foreclosure or debt. He is not limited by a fixed income or finite resources. He is BIG! He is God! And He loves me! I simply cannot begin to comprehend this, but this truth has changed my life.

The God of the Bible is the same God who is holding us in His hands right now. He may allow hard things, but He goes through them with us. He is not incapable. Not sleeping. Not busy elsewhere, leaving us to fend for ourselves. He is here! WITH us. Even when I feel hopeless, lose faith, and have a yucky attitude, He stays with me because He loves me. How can I not trust love like that?

So. I have no idea how long this will last, and frankly I don't think about it. I have been in survival mode for a long time. One day at a time. But it really doesn't matter how long this lasts, because God is with me. And the bottom line is, that's all that matters. Life is hard, but God is good.

"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!" ~ John 16:33

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, 'the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?' " ~ Hebrews 13:5-6

Sunday, April 19, 2009

$18 Room Makeover

Several months ago, before my husband lost his job, we talked with our oldest son G about redoing his room for his tenth birthday. At some point last year we moved a twin bed into Little Man's nursery and G started sleeping in there too, but we didn't take the time to make it a real two person bedroom. G's toys and clothes were mostly still in his brother's room where he used to sleep. The nursery border was still on the wall (still is actually). The tiny closet was full of tubs of boy clothes, organized by size, and baby toys I'd taken out of the room as Little Man outgrew them but never put away anywhere. It clearly needed work!

G was very excited about this possibility, and said he'd like a space themed room and that he wanted "more floor space so I can play in there". We window-shopped for new furniture (a desk), talked about paint colors, and made our plans. Then my husband lost his job.

We adjusted our thinking and I took one day during our short spring break to work in G and Little Man's room. I had two goals: to unmake the nursery and make it a joint bedroom suitable for their current ages, and to give G the floor space he wanted. This would be a cheap makeover. No new desk, and no paint. But cleaned, organized and rearranged. I wanted G to have a place for all his things so he would truly feel like this was his room.

This is before. They shared this dresser, and Little Man's clothes frequently got stacked on top because there simply was not enough room in the drawers for both their clothes.


To the immediate left of this picture is the teeny tiny closet which can only be accessed if the bedroom door is closed.


The week before, in preparation for this day, I had given G the task of cleaning out underneath his bed. I gave him two boxes, one labeled "throw away" and one labeled "give away" and he spent a couple hours cleaning out all the junk that had found its way under there and sorting it into one of the boxes, or putting it away on one of the shelves of their bookcase. This helped tremendously, so that I could actually begin moving the furniture away from the walls and cleaning right away! I cleaned the perimeter of the room really well and then rearranged the furniture. The only way I could create more floor space was to move all the furniture up against the walls. It's a boring layout, but it fulfills G's wish. :-) I took out the rocking chair and a nightstand that had been between the beds, and brought in a second dresser that was largely unused in the other boy bedroom. This of course necessitated going through all the clothes as well!

Halfway done.


The finished room has 6 pieces of furniture in it. Two beds, two dressers, and two bookcases.

4 year old's stuff:


Two happy brothers! The TV tray is G's "desk" until we can afford a real one and until the bunkbeds my hubby is building are finished so that there is room for one.


See the "desk" folded at the foot of the bed when not in use?


Almost 10 year old's stuff:


Mostly finished closet. At least there is now floor space for Little Man's chunky toys!


New orange lampshade: $5

New round orange throw rug (supposed to represent the sun): $8

New hanging stuffed animal organizer: $5

Hearing your almost 10 year old say enthusiastically, "I LOVE it!": Priceless!!

Horse Video!




Here is a short video of our daughter at her second horse riding lesson. She was able to begin trotting! She has to learn to "post" (riding up and down in the saddle in rhythm with the trot) really well and then she can graduate to cantering. You can see one of the other girls posting quite well as she rides by. Our daughter's allergies are less severe since she's been taking an allergy pill before class, and she is REALLY enjoying herself!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yes, Definite Success!

Little Man is taking his medicine like a champ, we are so thankful! He is such an independent little thing, we told him that he could drink it all by himself quickly, or we would have to do it for him. He decided that he would rather be in charge of it himself, so he obediently drinks it down in under one minute now! He is still coughing alot and seems to tire and fall apart easily, but otherwise is doing GREAT. No fever. Eating again. Very little pain. Thank you for your prayers for our little man, we are so thankful he is on the mend!

And a special thank you to some dear friends (Amy, Amy, and votemom) for bringing 3 more dinners! I have not had to cook for FOUR NIGHTS IN A ROW!!!! It's a vacation I tell ya. :-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Success?


We completely bypassed the chocolate pudding and went back to the pharmacy for added flavoring. Bubblegum! Here he is drinking it by himself. No tears. Yay!! It did, however, take him quite a long time to drink the entire amount. And even longer at bedtime. So we'll either have to allow plenty of time for this, or try something else. Or both, eventually.

He felt significantly better today. Thank the Lord! This almost certainly means that it is bacterial pneumonia and not viral. And while I'm not happy about that per se, it does mean that it's more treatable and that it's less contagious. And those are very good things.


He felt well enough to play with his big Mr. Potato Head this afternoon, and he had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trouble with Medicine

We are 14 hours past the pneumonia diagnosis, and already having a huge struggle getting Little Man to take his augmentin. It's white, and every kid knows that white medicine tastes bad. Little Man LOVES tylenol, but of course it's red. And every kid knows that red medicine tastes good! He drank the augmentin with lots of prodding this morning, but after he knew for sure that it was the yucky stuff, he completely balked at the second dose this evening. We tried mixing it with applesauce. No go. We tried mixing it in his juice cup. He got about half of the dose down in half an hour and we called it a night. This medicine was rather pricey and we really don't want to waste much of it, not to mention the fact that he needs full doses each and every time for it to have maximum effect. Tomorrow we are trying it in chocolate pudding. Please pray that he will be a brave boy and learn to take it even though it tastes bad. He did perk up a little bit this evening and it was such a joy to see him actually playing a little bit!

I didn't do much today other than care for Little Man, but I am utterly exhausted. My friend Angela brought us dinner tonight which was a huge blessing, and my husband got our taxes filed electronically (federal) and mailed (state) with 15 minutes to spare, which was another blessing! DONE for another year! I am working to finish a power point presentation tonight for our virtual history co-op in the morning, and then heading to bed. Thank you so much for your calls, emails, comments, and especially prayers for our Little Man. They are so appreciated!

Pneumonia

Little Man somehow caught pneumonia and was definitively diagnosed early this morning. Can I vent for just a moment and say that I hate not having medical insurance! It is agonizing as a parent to weigh medical risk against financial cost. Last evening we could tell that Little Man was clearly uncomfortable. He had had a fairly high fever all day and a cough for several days. He began complaining of pain in his side and then began to hold his breath for several seconds with each breath he took, as if he didn't want to inhale again. I interpreted this to mean that it hurt to inhale, which in fact it did. We nearly took him to the ER last night, but once he fell into a deep sleep his breathing was more normal and we decided to wait and take him to our regular pediatrician this morning (thus saving probably thousands of dollars). They have a radiology department in their building and we were able to get his chest x-rays taken there which clearly showed pneumonia pretty packed in to one lung. It was so packed that the Dr couldn't hear any "rattling" when he listened to his chest with a stethoscope.

Please pray with us that Little Man responds well to his antibiotic, and that the pain in his chest will begin to subside quickly. I am thankful that it is a treatable illness, and that he is no worse off for waiting through the night. He slept in our bed with us last night so that I could monitor his breathing, and I am thankful that he slept well, probably the best of the 3 of us. :-) Right now he is asleep on the couch so I am grabbing a minute to post here for prayer. For the past two days when he is awake he wants to be on me, so I imagine I will be holding and rocking him again soon. Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scenes of Easter, 2009


Have you heard of Resurrection Eggs? They are plastic eggs which contain items that tell the entire Easter story, from last supper to resurrection! This is egg #1, containing a cracker and a cup fashioned from tin foil. The children really enjoy hearing (and touching!) the story this way. Some years we do all 12 eggs during Easter dinner, and some years we do a couple each night of Holy Week. You can buy resurrection eggs such as in the link above, but I think it's more fun to make your own!

















He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our Week in Review

We are currently in the middle of a 3 week mini-unit on Africa, and learning more about the European colonization of Africa and Asia during the late 1800's. Here are some of the books we used in our learning this week. The two president books in the middle of the stack were used by everyone. Above those are the ones our daughter G used, and below them are the Africa picture books that our boys used.



I was very impresssed with this picture of a man that Little Man drew all by himself during Bible one day! When I snapped this picture he was about to draw a tall hat on this man, an indication that he was a Pharisee (not to be confused with Abraham Lincoln, who also gets drawn with a tall hat!). Everyone else draws in their Bible journals, but Little Man draws on his white board as I read. He pretty much draws the same picture for every story!


One of my favorite children's books, Miss Fannie's Hat by Jan Karon. I love reading this book! It reminds me of my grandma Esther who is now in heaven.


C sorting food pictures into food groups on the food pyramid. Little Man was very disappointed to learn that there was not an actual pyramid somewhere in the world made out of food!


School on the road.....reading at the Dr's office!


Little Man, painting what would become his turtle shell at co-op preschool.


And back at home, sorting different pasta and beans by color and shape.


He loved using a clothespin to move the beans into the egg cartons. Great for strengthening his pincher grasp!


Dum-da-da-dum! Son C finished all 27 Fun Tales books this week! We are so proud of him! In this picture he is trying to smile in such a way that you can see all 3 of his recent tooth holes. He lost 3 teeth this week!!


I have enlisted our daughter's help with our hands on activities this year. If I let her plan them and help me organize for them, we are much more likely to actually DO them. Like about 100% more likely! So I gave her this great book of hands on activities for Africa and told her to pick two that she thought everyone would enjoy doing. She labeled them with little yellow post it notes for me, #1 and #2 (wonder where she gets that penchant for labeling??). This week we did activity #1 which was making ceremonial shields used when 13ish aged boys were ceremonially introduced into the world of being a warrior.


First each child drew their design onto thin cardboard which I'd cut ahead of time (cereal or frozen pizza boxes work great for this!).


And then we began painting.



Even Little Man made one! He drew the design all by himself.


And painted it himself with just a tiny bit of help from me along the lines.


Ta-da! Didn't they turn out awesome?! We duct taped straps across the back so they'd be easy to hold.


Despite the sickness we had this week, it was a good week of learning. We are taking a short 3 day spring break and will hit the ground running again the middle of next week.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A 4 year old history lesson:

Me, while painting African shields: Do you know what continent these shields were used on?

Little Man: Um......Africa?

Me: That's right! And is Africa a country?

Son G interjecting confidently: No! It's a continent!

Me: Good remembering. How many countries are there in Africa?

Daughter G: 53!

Me: Wow, you're right! Okay Little Man, what ocean would we have to cross to get to Africa?

(waiting and wondering what he's going to say)

Little Man: The Atlantic!


Yes! Score 1 for listening to his older siblings' lessons!