Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Living in Private

Can I just say I am SO thankful that my husband isn't a politician? Whenever I watch coverage of all the primaries on TV I always watch the wives and think about things from their position. I've even been thinking about Laura Bush lately and how she is going to have to organize a move out of the house they have been living in for the last near decade.

The main reason I'm glad we are not in the public eye? I don't always have to worry about my hair and make-up and clothes and weight and looking wonderful. Whew! What a load off my back!

We are not "important" enough for my house to be on display either. One of my best friends is selling her house right now and having to keep it perfectly picked up (with 3 kids) before she walks out the door each day. I remember living like that when our last house was on the market. It's terrible! Of course, I suppose if we were important enough, there would be household help...

In truth, there is a very small circle of the world watching me and my family. It's important, I know. We represent Christ to folks. But we aren't having to worry about living up to the world's standards.

In fact, there are a lot of things that scripture tells us to keep private. Prayer is one of them.
Matthew 6:6 says: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Fasting is another thing. Read Matthew 6:16-18: "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

That's why I've been slightly confused about this event being announced in our worship program for the last month. But anyway.

The other thing Jesus teaches privacy on is giving to the needy. Here is Matthew 6:2-4: "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

When I started this post I was thinking of these things without even realizing they were in the same section of scripture! Here is the verse that begins the whole teaching, Matthew 6:1:

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

That's a pretty powerful statement, in my opinion. May we all learn to quietly serve the Lord in our own little corners of the world.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Un-Doing, Catching Up, and Other Thoughts on All These Revisions

I can mark the time in our life when it started changing. Our life, that is. You have probably read about it in my sidebar. I talked about it here too. God has made exciting changes to our family, to our lives. I would NEVER want to go back to how our life was 4 years ago. Never.

But sometimes I feel so behind. I mean, come on....a 36 year old woman just now figuring out how to run a house? Just a few years ago finally figuring out how God intends families to work? Still learning to cook? Someone who has been a Christian for over 20 years just now understanding really simple parts of scripture?

It's pathetic! I am SO far behind where I should be. How has it affected my daughters? What about those 4 or 5 years Sweetheart spent being cared for by babysitters? What about all the hours I spent with my children while my attention was on "ministry?" What about all the Bible teaching and training I did NOT do with the girls all those years?

How can I ever catch up?

And then I read a quote by Voddie Baucher in a post at Making Home. Jess spent a long time listening to a sermon of his in order to get this quote. She posted it on her blog and it just gave me such a new perspective I had to share it. (Thank you, Jess for your hard work!) Please click over and read his quote.

I was only thinking of my life and not the impact my children will have for God's kingdom. And their children.

So, it isn't too late. I may be getting a late start, but God can transform our family and use the members of this family for His purposes.

That, my friends, is good news!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cuteness Abounds!

I know at the end of yesterday's post I swore off of inserting pictures....
...but I was excited and I just had to share! LOOK at what cuteness was found between the pages of the L. L. Bean catalog that arrived at my house:

The really exciting part is that they offer these dresses up to size 10! They are so simple, cute, MODEST, and little girl looking. I love them. I'm not about skimpy or short dresses. I'm not about dressing my girls 10 years older than they are. I'm all about them being able to play in what they are wearing. This will be just perfect thank you very much.

So my sister and I got to thinking, if a dress like this is featured in a catalog like L. L. Bean, then maybe this type of dress is going to be in style this year?

Score! Here's one from Old Navy:

Again, they go up to big sizes. Also, the Old Navy dresses can be added to some little leggings for another look. I'm not sure how long they are in real life...maybe the leggings are necessary?

And here is one more from Land's End:

Now I really like this one. By the way, my mom makes Sweetheart these little shorts to wear under dresses in the summer. They are skinny like bike shorts, but made of cotton. I had her make them in black so no one would think they were...unmentionables...should they happen to see them. (It is our goal to not let that happen, but ladylike mannerisms are awfully hard to catch onto when you are little.) Also, they are shorter than bike shorts, but they do the trick. Last year Little Bit was still quite content to wear the many pairs of eyelet bloomers my mom made. (They weren't puffy) I don't know how a 4 year old will feel about continuing that tradition--even though I bet they will still fit her!

Well, there you have it. I am not happy with what I saw online from Target, Wal-Mart, or Kohl's. When I think I have accidentally searched the women's section--there is a problem. There were a few things that might have made the cut, but overall they failed. Let me know if you find any more great dresses out there for little girls!

And I hate that I struggle with the thought, "Am I making her look too young?" SHE'S 8 FOR GOODNESS SAKE! Eight! Do you remember 8? I was roller skating, playing with dolls, and reading when I was 8--not imitating teenagers. (Sorry--ranting again.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

While I Still Have Internet

I am going to the land of no internet connection soon (visiting family) and I am already mourning my loss. Nobody write anything too wonderful until I get back, OK? It's going to take me forever to catch up when I get home! And yes, that does mean a lack of posting on my part soon but honestly, with the way I've been posting lately, who would notice?

But today I am sharing pictures. I thought about entitling them "Homeschool Highlights" or something like that, but then I realized these are just pictures from our life. Our new life that includes home schooling. Home schooling that lets us have time to do the things in these pictures.

I highly recommend the lifestyle of home education.

Allow me to introduce you to our Indian friends. Little Bit (aka Small Deer); her cousin the Super-Sized 3 year old (who is 7 months YOUNGER than Little Bit), Pale Moose; her other cousin Gentle Sparrow (she really is gentle); and my Sweetheart, otherwise known as Twirling Arrow. Which really fits because she has a leaning towards being "flighty" sometimes. Or flitty. Anyway, it fits. And aren't they cute? They had a lot of fun on "Indian day." They strung necklaces, painted sticks, and even participated in a rain stick dance or something like that. There was a lot of banging of sticks and loud noises. They had a blast.

See? That circle of dead grass where our pool sat all summer came in handy. I think that's firewood they gathered in the middle there. My sister and I realized while watching them that when Little Bit and Pale Moose are 8 and 7 years old, that their older sisters will be 12 and 11 and probably not so keen on joining in things like this. These truly are precious times while they are ALL little.

Oh, and to the lady in the fabric department at that Wal-Mart where we bought Sweetheart's brown fabric for her costume? You know, you're the one who looked right at me with my daughter standing at my side and said, "This is for a girl???? This is way too dark for a girl's costume. You need to get lighter. This is for boys." And if I recall, I cracked a few teeth trying to smile and bite my tongue all at the same time while saying, "Thankyoushelikesthisone." Well Wal-Mart lady, the costume came out beautifully no thanks to you and my daughter was right, "I picked it because it looks like buffalo skin, Mommy."

End of rant.

OK, moving sister and I also took the older 2 girls to see the play "Ramona Quimby" at a local theater. Sweetheart and I had read at least 4 of the Ramona books at the time of the play and she loved it! Here they are posing with the actresses who played Beezus (left) and Ramona (right).

We can't have a dog or cat right now because 1. S and I don't want a pet. and 2. We all have asthma or allergies in this house. We have promised the girls a dog in a few years and they are trying to wait patiently. In the meantime, they decided they would like to have fish. We had fish tanks for years so this was no big deal to me and S. But then we realized Little Bit was too small to remember our former fishiness, so it WAS a big deal to her! Here she is with her first ever pets.

Which is why I love the kitty that has wandered into our neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Mrs. Peck, who Little Bit just calls "Peck" and refuses to add the "Mrs." which cracks me up, has been feeding this little guy and has a bed on her front porch for him. But he likes us. And he came to visit our backyard last week which just delighted the girls to no end. And please don't ask why my daughter has on mittens, a jacket, and a stocking cap....but flip-flops on her feet. JUST FOCUS ON THE CUTE KITTY, OK?

Now, we will move on. OK, I'll actually throw in a picture of myself here because most of my body fat is concealed and what good are little children if they can't help mom hide the flab for a few pictures every now and then, right?

And obviously chronological order means nothing to me because here is a shot of Little Bit's 4th birthday back in November. She had a Dorothy the Dinosaur party. This was her THIRD Wiggles birthday in a row so we were desperate to change the theme up. Although, I must say, I have really gotten my money's worth on that Wiggles candle there. And I know I'm going to just get flooded with requests for my decorated cakes but really, I don't have time. So sorry.

End of sarcasm.

Sweetheart's sewing lessons have been going quite well. We made a bunch of cloth napkins using the sewing machine a few weeks ago but what she really wanted to do was to use her sewing kit she got for Christmas. Here she is sewing up one of her "silkies." They are satiny on one side and flannel on the other and she has been addicted to them since about 5 months of age. She probably has 10 of them. I never thought when I gave that little thumb-sucking baby a lovie to hold on to that 8 years later she would be learning to sew with it.
And this is the end of the pictures because you know what? I just remembered I HATE inserting pictures.
Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It Was Easier Before I Started Thinking

I think it all started when I cracked open my Bible and started looking up all these verses that homeschoolers always site as their reason for homeschooling. I was so against homeschooling before that. Reading the scriptures kind of changed how I was thinking. (If I was thinking at all!) Then I read some books written from a Christian point of view on the subject. See, this isn't about academics for me. It's about what I read in those scriptures.

It changed how I think about parenting.

A lot.

Apparently, we aren't through with revisions around here.

So I went through a time of feeling like, "I am SO not up for this task!" to realizing I needed the Lord's help, to asking for that help, to feeling hopeful...that He would do a good work in my children through my willingness to obey.

It's just that now I can't quit thinking. I'll give you an example.

I heard at Sweetheart's (very large national girls' club) meeting about how moms couldn't go on the camping trip with their daughters because one of the big goals of (aforementioned club) was to make the girls independent. Towards that end, we are having a sleep-over in order for the girls to practice being away from their parents overnight before camping.

Hmmmm. My first thought as I was listening was, "I'm not sure it's one of my parenting goals to make my 8 year old independent of her mom and dad. " I mean, eventually...she will be more independent of us. But I'm not rushing to send her off with near strangers while we just sit at home and trust. WE are responsible. I think that's the big thing I learned from my studies...God holds us accountable...not anyone else. And I take that very seriously.

That got me to thinking about the aforementioned very large national girl's club and what else they are going to be teaching my daughter. I looked into it before she joined (at the request of S) but didn't see anything to object to.

Guess I didn't look hard enough! I sat down a few nights ago and googled "Christian" and "name of club" and found lots of interesting articles. It seems a lot of Christians dropped out and even boycotted this organiztion after finding out some things they didn't like.

1. They had (have?) a partnership with Planned Parenthood.
2. God is optional.

The pledge that the girls say at the beginning of the meeting has the word God in it--with an asterik afterwards. It seems that the manual states girls can choose not to say the name God, or they can substitute a different word or name there. So, these parents questioned whether they wanted their girls wearing the badge/vest/pin of an organization that believes God is optional. It would be like giving their approval to that.

But OUR troop does say the name of God. They are mostly Christian. I haven't seen any of those problems in our troop, so what's the big deal? Are we really guilty by association?
I mean, I didn't sign her up thinking this was a Christian organization. We can't only be involved in Christian groups all the time, right? (There are alternatives, by the way). If we huddle together against the world--never interacting--that almost seems to lean toward being Amish in a way.

On the other hand...we are her protection, both physically and spiritually. As with homeschooling, I have to ask myself, "How can I protect her if she isn't with me?" How can I protect them if I am throwing them to the wolves in the name of "independence"?

How can I raise them to be godly if I am parenting just the way the world is?

And why do I have to make everything so difficult?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Location, Location, Location

Where do you pray?

The sermon at church today was on prayer and it got me to thinking. Here's what I thought about:

1. I have this post bookmarked that I absolutely love. In it, Holly talks about how we, as busy homemakers and moms of little ones, probably don't have time to sit and have an hour of quiet solitude and prayer time/Bible study every day. She talks about how God meets her where she is. I love this post--it's so true to my life.

2. That got me thinking about a Steven Curtis Chapman song. The song is called "Let Us Pray." I absolutely love these lines:

Let us pray without end
And when we finish, start again
Like breathing out and breathing in, let us pray.
Which of course, comes from this verse. So it's biblical.

3. In the sermon today Luke 5:16 was cited. Here it is in the NIV:

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Now I don't know about you, but there aren't a whole lot of lonely places in my life. (That's a good thing, I know!) Even in the bathroom it's not uncommon to see a DVD case shoved under the door along with, "Mommy? When you come out will you turn this on for me?" When I worked I always had at least 10 or 15 minutes in the car after I had dropped everyone off at the sitter's house where I could be by myself. But no more.

How about this version? This is from the NKJV:

So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

The wilderness. Where it is quiet (except nature sounds) and you are alone. That got me to thinking, "maybe it is really important for me to have a place of quiet and solitude where I pray." But I don't want to look only at great blogs or Christian songs for my answer, so let's look at some scripture.

Matthew talks about how we should not pray to be seen and heard by men, but prayer should be private. Also, we are instructed against babbling on and on. And then Jesus gives us an example of how we should pray. There is a lot in this passage to chew on!

In Ephesians we are told to pray on all occasions. This tells me that I cannot wait until I can get a quiet time alone in order to pray. All occasions would seem to include "when I am preparing dinner" and "when I am folding laundry."

James gives us a simple answer to our troubles---pray.

I'm starting to think that there is a need for 2 kinds of praying: alone prayer time (as Jesus gave us an example of), and on-the-go as I live my life prayer time. How can you have trouble and pray on all occasions, yet wait until your scheduled prayer break with all the quiet and calm to pray about those troubles? Sometimes troubles come while you are living life--such as when one of your kiddos has a fever in the night. You know you are going to take care of that fever, comfort that child, and pray all at the same time!

So, I think the answer to where do I pray should be...everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. AND, I think I should seek out times of quiet sometimes too. I believe Jesus did that often. Combine those two times of prayer and sure enough, you are soon praying without ceasing.

Where do you pray?

Source of Judean wilderness picture here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bible Class Thoughts

If you didn't already know, this is my first year of homeschooling. Before we began, I remember reading all the homeschool advice and tips over at Tiany's place. Everyone said they are still figuring it out. No one was really willing to call themselves "veterans" because they felt there were always other people who had been doing it much longer than they had. I suppose we will always be figuring things out because just when you get good--the kids are older. And smarter. Well, that's the intention anyway.

BUT FOR NOW....I have stumbled across something that works!!! I have been a little unhappy with what Little Bit is getting in Bible class (not on Sunday mornings--sakes alive her teacher is great on Sunday mornings!). I just think she is ready for more than the expectations in our children's program allow for. So, I felt the need to make sure that whatever Bible lesson we did at home was appropriate for her level as well as for my 8 year old. And I have found that to be hard.

I snooped around in our resource room at church the other night (after I peeked in Little Bit's class and saw they were watching VeggieTales again. Sigh.) and found this great little book of preschool lessons. There isn't anything special about them at all but they are working for us. There is a story on the back about some children who did something that personifies the verse of that lesson. So, we get out the dollhouse family and the girls act out the story while I read it. Then they color the picture and glue on whatever item they are supposed to in order to complete the picture. Sweetheart colors for a long time because art is her first love. While she is coloring, Little Bit reenacts the story and plays with the dollhouse family. Then, Sweetheart looks up the Bible verse and reads it so we can talk about it. Little Bit answers the questions from the story (listening comprehension). I can do other stuff with Sweetheart during the morning, but this is a great way to involve both of them and get a Bible lesson in for Little Bit.

Speaking of Bible lessons--you really have to watch out for what your children are learning! Sweetheart is in the 3rd-5th grade class on Sunday mornings because she was already in the 1st and 2nd grade classes (chronological study of Old and New Testaments) and we didn't see any need for her to repeat Bible class just because she repeated first grade. ANYWAY, she came home with a lesson sheet from a big, reputable publisher of Bible class curriculum and this is what the sheet said:

Your teacher may fill out a progress report or report card on how well you are doing in school. Now you get to fill out a report card on yourself!
How do you rate yourself when it comes to serving God--A? B? C? Lower? Use this report card to help remind you of your job to serve others for God.

I have helped people in my family without being paid.
I have helped people at my church without being paid.
I have helped people I don't know personally.
I have worked outside to help people.
I have invited someone to church.

The kids put a checkmark under the categories NEVER, ONCE, THREE OR FOUR TIMES, or WEEKLY.

Here was Sweetheart's handwritten comment at the bottom of the sheet.

I think my service grade should be B- because I don't do everything right.

We were heartbroken! First of all, she is a child. Her main thing right now centers around Ephesians chapter 6 verses 1-3. S talked to her about this after class. We are her spiritual guides and she will serve alongside us in whatever our family is doing. I do not expect my 8 year old to go seeking opportunities to help those she doesn't know personally! I did remind her that we helped a lady in the Kroger parking lot a few weeks ago who was having trouble getting her groceries out of her cart. (She was diabetic and her blood sugar had dropped.) Sweetheart said, "But you did that, not me."

What is this grading ourselves on our service to the Lord? S has heard this several times in our adult class at church lately. They opened one week with the question, "What decisions did you make for the Kingdom of God this week and what decisions did you make that were not for the Kingdom of God?" My first thought was, "I made one decision several years ago for the Kingdom of God and that's really the only one that matters!"

What do you think about that? About asking children, and Christian did you do serving the Lord this week? I have some thoughts about it, but I wanted to know what you all thought.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I'm Thinking This Was An Appropriate Goal

What are you looking at, you ask? Well this is the former contents of one of my kitchen cabinets. I'm simplifying and decluttering you know. I decided to take Sara's advice and just have the everyday dishes that we need on hand and store everything else. Fewer stuff to store, fewer dishes to wash, it's all good.

So how many cups and glasses did we have? MORE THAN EIGHTY!!!!! Folks, there are FOUR of us living in this house!!!!!!!

I still cannot get over that number. It's ridiculous.

It seems that at least half of them were coffee cups and we have exactly ONE coffee drinker in this house. And yes, I drink hot chocolate but honestly, it's like 2-4 times a year. So.

Here is Little Bit being used as free labor taught responsibility by her mom. Don't worry about her. She loves to clean. It doesn't come from my genes, I'll tell you that much. We are on day 3 of the kitchen decluttering and I'm almost through. It's going to be so great. Thank you for helping Little Bit.

And here is Sweetheart's contribution to the kitchen make-over.
Oh, I'm kidding. She's having a little trouble getting off of her holiday schedule, which I think was really working for her. And she is the one who completely helped me reorganize the pantry. She did most of the work herself too. I just forgot to take a picture. So, give her credit also. Thank you, Sweetheart.

And let me just say that I have decluttered before. But this time I'm also setting up a system so that it will be more useable. I have "zones" in my kitchen now! I didn't even know what a kitchen zone was last week!

I'm getting too fancy for even myself.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Life With Tics

I've backed up a bit to tell our story with our daughter's tics. You can read earlier posts about our journey here and here.

In February of 2007, our then 3 year old daughter was playing a game on the computer. She kept sort of shrugging her shoulders up and rolling her head back. Over and over. I finally decided that maybe her hair was bothering her. My poor baby has never had much hair, but at this point in time the back of her hair was finally growing out a bit in the back. I thought it might be tickling her neck.

"Is your hair bothering you?"


So I somehow managed to get her hair into two tiny ponytails. How cute! I took a picture since it was probably the first time in her life she had enough hair for any kind of ponytail.

And then I forgot about the whole thing.

I'm really glad I took that photograph because it helped us know just how long this had been going on when we looked back at the date on the picture. In order to be diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome, a person must have both motor and vocal tics for a period of at least one year. By the time we meet with the neurologist next month, Little Bit will meet that criteria. That's why I'll be really surprised if this is not Tourette's. But then again, I'm no neurologist.

After that (since we still really hadn't caught on) I couldn't tell you what she did until at least July. That's when S told me to watch how "nervous" she was and we visited our pediatrician. Since that time I have been keeping a journal of the tics that we see. Some of these are hard to explain:

raising her eyebrows, panting, licking her shoulders, coughing/clearing her throat, moving her head/neck, shrugging one shoulder up and down, facial movements, eye blinking, jerking head back/chin up, tucking her chin down to her chest, looking at her right arm, exhaling in a huff, repeatedly touching the person near her, and licking. Those are just the major ones. All of these stayed for a period of a few days to a few months. They come and go. They come back after being gone for months. She does several of them at once or just one. They get worse when she's tired, scared, stressed, or excited. She does something every day. Some days it's not really all that bad. Some days she just has to be exhausted at the end of the day from all the calories she has burned.

Sometimes the tics scare us. Like when she licked the laundry soap scoop before I could catch her. Or the open pair of scissors. Sometimes the tics are frustrating. Like when she cries before she goes to sleep that she "can't stop." Sometimes the tics hurt. Like when her fingers are sore from clenching them all day. Or when her throat hurts from tensing up her muscles all day. She complained about that one. "Mama, it hurts when I do this (demonstrated)." I told her she needed to stop. "But I need to do it." Those days break our hearts.

A diagnosis won't change our lives. Our life is already different. In a way the doctor's appointment won't really make that much difference. And it's kind of a big thing. But not really.

She's still our daughter. She's healthy. She's funny. She's smart. And we love her.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We're Taking Back the House

My big night out for my birthday was wonderful. Thank you for all the well wishes and for letting me know it was not terrible to use my children as bait to get chocolate cake for myself. You make me feel better, you really do.

So here's the book I chose from the bookstore after much searching:

I know some would say it does not make sense to buy something to ADD to your house when the point is to TAKE AWAY FROM, but this book is really good. It's not the throwing out of stuff that is my problem really. It's the classifying and organizing what's left that I am completely lost on. I'm not ashamed to say that even as a college grad with many years experience teaching under my belt that I had my big sister come and help me organize my files at school one year. I just don't have that gift and she really, really does. So this book is going to help me now because my sister's boss likes it when she goes to work instead of over here to organize my house.

Oh, and as I sat reading my new book, Sweetheart wandered in with her own inspiration:

She's been dreaming of organzing her room and how neat it's going to look when we're done...just like Brother and Sister Bear's room. She just pores over the page when they get all done cleaning. My girl.

But my inspiration are these pictures. I cannot get enough of looking at these pictures from Sara's old apartments. They make me want to get up and clean my house and get rid of things and if Sara checks her site meter, she probably thinks I'm a stalker. I apologize...but my house is going to be so cool when I'm through. And it's not like I can just go spend the night at Karen's house anymore.

Karen was a friend of mine growing up. Her room was beautiful and every time I got home from her house I started cleaning my room. My mom said she was going to let me stay over there every weekend if it make me want to clean! It's just that her room was so uncluttered. She had a yellow bedspread and canopy and white and yellow furniture. She had perfume and cosmetics on top of her dresser. I had toys, stuffed animals, and an older sister on the other side of the room. Oh well.

Karen's room used to inspire me, now I stalk around Sara's flicker page. Hey, whatever works. And there other influences right now: these tiny houses gave us a good laugh at first, and later a good conversation about "how much do we need?", and then S pointed out how nice and simple the Ingalls' house was on Little House on the Prairie, season 1. Then S walked into the living room last night, turned out all the lights, and set our camping lantern down. Oh, he is funny. I said simple, not rustic, honey.

So I guess this is kind of like my New Year's post that never was...we will be decluttering and simplifying here at the House Revised. I can feel the breath of fresh air right now...

I'll let you know how we're doing.

P.S. We already decluttered the garage today. We are off to a great start!

Friday, January 4, 2008

My Birthday... not at the very best time of the year. All my life it was either the day we went back to school from Christmas break, or the day before. "Wake up--Happy Birthday--hurry up and get ready for school." What a great way to celebrate. (By the way, there is NO school today here! The power of homeschooling.)

And if you think my parents ever let me stay home because it was my birthday, then you don't know people like my parents. The MOST I ever got out of them, and this was only because I was the third child and they were tired and old, was scheduling my orthodontist appointments so that I would miss first period--Algebra. Which, considering that I had to re-take Algebra in summer school might not have been the best move on my part. But anyway...

I shamelessly had the children call my dad this morning to ask, "Grandpa, will you help us make Mommy's cake?" Isn't that awful of me? I told my dad it was because the girls are a little disappointed that there is no surprise element to this day. They aren't getting me a present and they are just wanting to surprise me with something. Which is all true--but I could have helped them make the cake. I just think you shouldn't have to make your own birthday cake, you know? S can't help--he's working 12 hour days right now. If I wanted that German Chocolate goodness anywhere near my actual birthday I had to take action!

Christmas/my birthday is a stressful time for my husband. He either has zero ideas for presents, or $200+ ideas for presents. I helped him out this year by telling him what I wanted to do for my birthday. We are going to eat at a nice restaurant (Nice=you sit down and they bring you the food.) and then to the bookstore for me to pick out my own book while he watches the girls and I can actually LOOK at the books.

Later today I am going to get the party decorations down and set the girls free with tape. It should be interesting.

Have a good weekend! I'm off to enjoy the day by cleaning house.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The First Thing

I really feel the need to document our story here. We do not have a diagnosis yet, but we are dealing with symptoms every day. I really hope these posts will help someone. And it's good for me to "write" it all down.

When Little Bit was 23 or 24 months old she started blinking. A lot. Hard blinks. Lots of people noticed, including us. I worked in the mornings at a preschool and she was in the toddlers class. The class only had 4-6 children in it and 2 teachers. Her teachers and even a substitute all asked me about her eyes. We guessed at first it was probably allergies. Then I became concerned that she had the same condition as my aunt and grandmother with very dry eyes. My aunt had to have surgery to fix hers. Can't remember what it was called now. I asked the pediatritian the next time we were there. He looked at her eyes and said, "They don't look dry to me."

I was so irritated. Obviously something was wrong with her eyes, couldn't he see that? The other thing that had us concerned about her eyes was how she reacted to the sunlight. When our older daughter, Sweetheart, was small she would always bury her head in my shoulder whenever we first walked outside. S gets headaches from the sunlight and it really bothers him if he doesn't wear sunglasses. We just figured she was the same way. We bought her sunglasses. There, problem solved. But Little Bit reacted a bit differently. She screamed! Like she was in total pain. Also huge tears ran down her face. Not tears from crying, but tears from her eyes watering.

So, off we went to the eye doctor. They did all the standard tests on her and determined her eyes were perfectly healthy with the best vision possible for her age. So, why does she blink all the time and scream when the sunlight hits her face?

The doctor told us that she has really pale blue eyes so they let more light in than darker eyes. It probably hurts--get her some sunglasses. We did and in a few months the blinking had gone away. We put it out of our heads.

We would remember the blinking in about another year and a half.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Being Ready

My first job was vacuuming our church building with my sisters on Saturdays. I was in 8th grade and my oldest sister would drive us up to the church building and we would all split off into our assigned areas to begin vacuuming. It is a large building, but there is no way it should have taken us as long as it did. With no parents or adults around, we goofed off... a LOT.

But one year I really found out what it was like to NOT be busy at work. Our new principal chose me and one other teacher to be "pull-out" teachers. All day long we were to pull small groups of children from their classrooms and work with them in a smaller setting on skills needed for them to pass the state test. Such a noble task. We couldn't start pulling students until about a month into school, however when they took their first practice test. Then we could look at the data and determine who needed the most help. So for a month (and throughout the year each time they were testing in classrooms) we had nothing to do. Or very little.

It was our little secret. We were still teachers, but we had no lesson plans, no papers to take home and grade, no team meetings, etc. We were free! My friend and I decided right then and there that no one needed to know how un-busy we were at certain times. Everywhere we went, we carried our clipboards. That makes you look like you are on your way to do Something Very Important. Also, at the end of the day we loaded our purses into our canvas every-teacher-must-carry-one bags and went off to our cars looking to all the world like we had a load of stuff to do when we got home. Just like everyone else.

Looking busy can be hard work! I always felt guilty as our church secretary when I was all caught up on things in my office and had a few minutes to e-mail or surf or pay bills for home. Not that our minister would have minded--but I was used to that deceiving "you must look busy at all times" mentality so I always had my mouse ready to click off of whatever page I was on in case someone walked into my office. It's not that I was doing anything wrong...I just learned that lesson very well at my other job.

Now that I'm home, if my husband comes home unexpectedly, I find myself jumping up. I might be reading a book or watching TV or reading blogs...but I feel like I must be busy or at least look I jump. It's almost an instinct reaction. I don't believe that my husband would in any way be upset that I was sitting down. And I know that all the rest of the day I have certainly been busy enough. But I feel the need to LOOK BUSY. I guess it's a holdover from 15+ years of working for a boss.

The Bible tells us that Jesus will come at a time that is unexpected. Matthew chapters 24 and 25 warns about being ready when the bridegroom comes.

"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matt. 25:13)

And here is my question....Will you be ready, or only look ready?