Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apparent Project

You know it's a small world when someone from your very first job pops back into your life umpteen million years later. . . lol!  Ok...for starters, I had a very interesting first job.  Folks, I delivered retainers!  Funny isn't it?  Well, I delivered them, and there was this sweet girl who worked there.  She ran off and got married, and I graduated high school, and moved.  And, that was that. . . . until 2 years ago when Little Bit started dance.  Funny thing, Cami (my friend) had a daughter the same age as mine!  They were in the same dance class for 2 years!  Isn't that funny?
Well, even if just for brief moments, having Cami back in my life has been a neat blessing.  Cami has this amazing "God assignment," as she likes to call it.  She is blessed with ministering to the ministry Apparent Project.  This is an AMAZING ministry, blessed by God, that helps poor, homeless Haitians keep their children out of orphanages.  The Corrigans teach artisans to make beads from cereal boxes.  The beads are used to make jewelry.  In the last 3 years since Apparent Project started, they have gone from 4 on staff, to 250!  The impact doesn't stop there though.  Haitians are paid to bring their cereal boxes, others (non-staff) are making jewelry to sell to AP, and hope is once again seen in Haiti as God reaches out to His beloved orphans, widows, and poor.  He is good!
Sisi is a single mother living in her tent with 4 children!  She has been a wonderful addition to the Apparent Project sewing program and hopes to use her earnings from her hard work to rent a house and pay for her children to school.
The other neat thing about Apparent Project, is that buying jewelry isn't the only way to help.  I can involve my kids by having them break down cereal boxes, oatmeal, granola bar boxes, 12 pack of soda box, etc.  You should definitely read Cami's post about the journey of a cereal box!  We save them and give them to Cami, and she ships tons back to Haiti through Rays of Hope.    In addition to saving cereal boxes, you can host a jewelry party,  have a fundraiser, make a donation, blog about it, or simply pray for the ministry's growth.  I love the cards on the jewelry with the artisans info because it provides me a real person to pray for.

Apparent Jewelry is now in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and has been picked up by Gap, Donna Karan, Macy's and Disney. Isn't that exciting!?

With Christmas right around the corner (yes I just said that!) Apparent Project items make great gifts!  I know I'll be going to pick some out at the next open house!  See you there? Here are some things you could pick up:

And there's sooooo much more!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Successful in Survival

So this week has been successful in survival....  I see light at the end of the tunnel for my husband's school, for our homeschool, for the holiday/birthday arrivals, and for some fun!  Woohoo!

I say holiday/birthday, because this is a wild time of year for bdays... If I new how to put a calendar in, I would, BUT... birthdays start Oct. 25 and go like this... Oct. 25th, 26th, 2 on the 27th, 28th.  Nov. 2nd, 12th, 15th, 26th. Dec. Hubby and I have the same bday on the 11th.  And of course, two weeks later we celebrate Jesus' birthday!  SO...including Jesus, that's 12 birthdays, 2 major holidays, 2 minor holidays (if you include Halloween), and a lot of craziness!  Whew...that always wears me out!

In my life this week....  This is my last week of orientation in my new job, and then I'm on my own.  I am extremely nervous and excited.  I do really like it and am glad I'm there, but am extremely aware of how little experience I have in this area, of how smart the people that I'm working with are, and of how far I have to go.  My insecurities are at their height when I'm at work...so it's kind of strange that I'm really enjoying it.  Also, I got some super, amazing news this week from a dear friend.  And, that makes me sooooo happy!

Not only did we get to history, but we did our history projects too!

Mom might not care for painting, but the kids sure do love it!

In our homeschool this week...  I've been stressing a lot about getting through our history lessons because we've been skipping some.  Turns out, I didn't plan as many as I had thought, so as far as my planning goes, I'm not behind!  That's good news!!! That relieved a lot of stress.  I do however feel bad that my son and I have not had enough time to read our read aloud...and it's The Hobbit, which I really want to read.  He has had several days where he is still doing school up till dinner time (his fault not mine!).  I have to figure out how to get this read aloud time back.... The girls are progressing in their skills with reading and math, and I'm excited about that.

My favorite thing this week was.... Our surprise trip to IHOP for free scary pancake day!  The kids had no idea what was going on when I woke them up before the sun was out saying, "Get dressed, I have a suprise! Hurry up!! Let's go!"  It was nice to wake them up and have them happy to get up...of course they weren't thrilled to go back home to school and chores, but they did...

Things I'm working on....  Part of the reason I'm so terribly excited that we only have 15 days of school until our winter break (15 days, yippee, yippee) is that I have a list of craft projects, gifts, chores, and stuff that I want to do.  This sacrificial life is hard on me.... I need to do what I want to do sometimes instead of always doing what I have to do. I love schooling the kids, love taking care of them, but as moms all know...sometimes we need "me" time!  They'll be around helping and doing their own projects I have planned for them!

I'm grateful for.... No one is as blessed with a rich family life as me!  I have been given the pot of gold as  far as I'm concerned!  I love my kids, my husband, and our life together.  God has lavished grace upon me in this area!

Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blessing in Obedience: Job Update

Well, I think it's time to give a quick update on my new job. I have 2 days of orientation left (at the end of this week). So, I've been in Trauma ICU for 4 weeks now.  Someone asked me the other day how if it was as good as I had hoped.  I answered, "I like it much more than I thought I would!"  Now, I must add this little caveat... during orientation, I have not experienced a super difficult trauma admission, nor have I had incredibly sick patients with all the experience I want/need.  I have let my manager know.  Having said all of that, the staff that I work with are well aware, and I know they are such an amazing team, that I know I won't be left flailing!  I have worked at 2 different hospitals and in several different types of units, and have NEVER seen the kind of team work that I see here in this unit.  It is truly special, and I am so thankful and honored to be a part of it.  I know there are many stressful nights of work in my future, but I am so glad to know that I'll have a great team and that God is with me.

I am thankful that even though this would not have been an area I would have chosen for myself, I obeyed what I thought God was telling me.  I was very uncertain, and concerned about moving to this unit.  It was a difficult choice, that I truly labored over.  It just goes to show that there is blessing in obedience.... no matter how hard it is to choose to obey!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Some Antsy & Silly Times

Wish I were still here. . . 

Well...as most of you know, coming down off of a vacation ain't easy!  I'd much rather be in the hills than home working and schooling!  I've struggled this week getting back into the swing of things.  School has seemed like a drag!  I've noticed the kids are "antsy" and fidgety.  What we could accomplish in an hour before vacation is taking two now that we are home.  We are refreshed, but antsy to be outdoors I think.  I'm sure next week will be better!

In Our Life & Homeschool this Week. . .
Monday was the "usual" and we did ok.  Tuesday we met some friends at a quiet park and had school...then it was off to gymnastics.  Wednesday, my son starting a writing class. While he was in class, the girls and I had school at McDonalds.  Since all of our school stuff was still in the car, we went to another park to do school. But, I could tell that we were all anxious to be done...no one could sit still, myself included!  We played, went home, rested, and back to the gym.  Thursday is a half school half work day for me.  School in the morning, nap in the afternoon, work at night.  Hubby will take over on Friday....

My Favorite Thing This Week Was. . .
After T's 2 hour gymnastics class on Wednesdays, we tend to go out to eat.  We went to Steak and Shake.  We had a blast.  I had had a nap, and a small cup of coffee, which my son says makes me silly and fun.  We blew bubbles in our drink, stole each others' fries, told jokes, shared chili, spilled chili, and laughed and laughed.  It was so nice taking a break from the list of things to do, and just enjoying my babies!

I am Grateful For. . . 
I am grateful for my husband.  He is my team mate, and really helps a lot to pick up where I've left off.  Not too much falls through the cracks around here, and it's not because of me!  I'm thankful that this week has been a good week with my son.  He has been exceptionally thoughtful for him, and it's nice to have a break from the bucking and rebelling!  I'm thankful for silly moments!

Things I'm Working On. . .
I've been working for quite some time on a new chore system for my kids.  Maybe if I post it here, I'll get it done more quickly!  I've gotten the hardest part done, it is quite an extensive and pretty system...so I can't wait to post pictures, BUT, I need to find the last few supplies before it can be completed!  My kids keep begging me to put the chore list back up...but really they have it memorized. :)

Hope ya'll have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unplugged and On the Farm

My soul is refreshed!  I told Hubby that he should look into researching the effects of simple farm life on anxiety for a school project!  The kids and I have all come home with a new confidence, a refreshed feeling, and relaxed.  I had no idea how much I needed to unplug, relax, and enjoy God's beautiful, amazing landscape.

Our days on the farm were fantastic!  We hooked up the wagon to the big FORD tractor and went on hours of hay rides... A hayride like few can experience.  Not commercial. Just us. Just our friends. Just nature.  We would stop every now and then to get a lesson on a tree, to climb a deer stand, or to jump the hay bales.  We call them "bay hales" because my mom could never say it right!  It was hysterical... one of things where you have to be there I suppose. Oh...and I got to DRIVE the tractor! How cool is that?!

This was a 17 foot deer stand that everyone (except me) climbed up....even Grandma did it! 
Those "bay hales" were huge, and the kids jumped from one to the next ....this  photo was taken after they went down the row and back a few times!
Me driving big blue... This is right by the pond, and I drove it from the fence at the top of the hill down... that was quite enough for me, but exciting!
Farmer Mitch (our guide and friend) gave us a great nature study on trees and their nuts.  He was so knowledgeable about the different kind of trees, we could hand him a nut or leaf and ask him which tree it came from, and he would know!  We took some neat pictures you can see below...school with what we had on hand....

This one tastes like a pecan, but is quite a bit more work to get out than a pecan.

The perfect fall acorn!

Very bitter tasting.

The "stains" is on there because the "meat" between the shell of the nut and the "fruit" is used as furniture stain...

We had all hoped to milk a cow, but they aren't milking them anymore. However, we did get to pet one, while she was nursing. We also watched them wade in the pond while we were fishing.  Fishing was quite the experience.  They have a pond for the cows to drink from.  About 20 years ago they stocked it, and have not had to stock it since.  We each caught about 10-15 fish (maybe more....you stop counting at a certain point).  Sometimes you would put a new worm on your hook, throw it out, and pull it right back with another fish!  What a great first experience for the kids!  We only caught small blue gill that had to be thrown back even though he swore there were catfish in there somewhere!

We had a biology lesson like no other.  The girls wanted to know what the inside of a fish looks like... so Mitch obliged and cut one open to show them the insides!  They were enthralled...don't let Little Bit's face fool you! She was pretending, but the whole time kept saying how "cool" it was to see the inside.... Bean Boy however, kept his distance. It was interesting that at the end of the day Mitch finally told him, I'm not taking this fish off for you...you have to touch it... and, he did it!  Now, you have to understand that he has OCD tendencies, especially when it comes to being clean and having clean hands. So, it was a big deal that he actually touched the fish and took it off the hook!!!  I was so proud of him!

Bragging rights:  Be forewarned, now I will start bragging about my kids....  I'd just like to say that they were WONDERFUL!  Poor Bean Boy was sick during the ride up, but still tried to work on his school work. He was sick the first day there, but mostly kept a good attitude, until his fever got the best of him, at which point, I gave him Tylenol. The girls were amazing.  There were NO ARGUMENTS the entire trip between the 3 of them!!!  They didn't ask 500 times how much longer....Baby T asked a few times, but not excessively.  They obeyed well. They were kind to others. They had happy hearts. They were helpful. I would have loved them if they weren't any of these things of course, but it just made the trip spectacular! (Ok, I'm done now!)

One last thing that made this vacation super fantastic.... NO CHORES!  For any of us!  Our sweet friend Debbie was so quick with the laundry that I never beat her to putting our laundry in the washer or dryer!  I did fold clothes as often as I could, and the girls helped with the towels.  Debbie loves to cook and we ate like kings and queens!  And, she did all the cleaning!  What more can a tired momma ask for?

I truly wanted to have this post out and ready for the Weekly-Wrap Up, but we drove all day Wednesday. We arrived around 8:30 pm, ate a late dinner, which Hubby had ready for us, took showers and went to bed.  Thursday morning I had a meeting, and Thursday night began 3 in a row at work!  Yes, we got right back into the swing of things!  But, I don't mind... (adding this in much later.. I left my camera at work and have just been able to pick it up to add in pictures! Will post this mid-week and probably use as my wrap-up...)

I'm thankful that we had so many fantastic experiences, that I could only highlight them for you. I'm thankful that the lack of phone service and internet service provided me with time to "unplug" without feeling guilty for doing it! I'm thankful for friends who interrupted their life to host us and show us a fantastic time.  I'm thankful that my mom and I were able to work out our schedules to go together. I'm thankful for seeing and enjoying so many amazing things. I'm thankful my kids were so wonderful.   I'm thankful that God is faithful and keeps His promises.... 
Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. 
Jeremiah 31:25  I will refresh the weary, and satisfy the faint.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm Ba-ack!!!

Just a quick note to let everyone know I'm back from one of the most amazing vacations ever!  The only things that would have made it better would be if Hubby could have gone and if it were just a tad bit longer!  I'll be posting about our amazing time with some great pics. For now just know that I'm back, "plugged in"
 again, and ready to go!

Enjoy the preview!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: Math Made Simple

I recently did a review for a friend from Hearts at Home.  I thought I'd share it with you guys!  Enjoy!

Math Made Simple Review

We were very excited to be able to review Math Made Simple.  I must confess that math is my son’s favorite subject, so in that way only, our review is slightly biased.  However, my 11 year old is reviewing (with me) the Algebra package, so it was a bit of a challenge. However, after watching the demo, he was hooked and wanted more.  

We found each lesson to be easy to follow, with step by step instructions, adding new, more challenging concepts one at a time.  This gave the opportunity to conquer one thing before moving on to a new concept.  I think my son’s biggest complaint was that the lessons were long.  They are each about 50+ minutes.  We would complete about half of the lesson a day.  It is easy to break down the lessons, because there are “sections” of each lesson which make it easy to find a stopping place. 

The lessons are arranged such that they are made up of mostly practice problems. The teacher (of whom you only see her hand) shows a problem, and solves it, step by step, on the video.  My son would pause the video and try to solve the problem.  Then he could see exactly where his mistakes were and remember to correct that before the next problem.  At the end, there are review problems which mix all the concepts together.  The explanations are also given for these.  The first lesson in the series had a lot of vocabulary which was very necessary for completing the problems and understanding the explanations in the rest of the videos. 

What is nice about this curriculum, is that it can make a great stand-alone curriculum…especially for people who are afraid of higher level math (you know who you are;).  In addition, each lesson is sold separately at a very affordable price so that if you need a supplement, a different person/way to explain a concept, a few more practice problems with explanations, or even just a break from being the math teacher for a lesson or two, you’ve got options!  The packages are a great deal too. The lessons never expire and are transferable to your other children, which makes the great price even better. 
Thoughts from the student:   The teacher is easy to understand and she tries not to make it sound boring.  I like how they don’t give you a few examples and then give you 100 identical problems to do on your own.  The only thing that would make it better would be if the teacher told some jokes.  Overall, I’m enjoying the curriculum, because it’s math, and it sounds interesting.  

You can check out their website here.  

*It should be noted that the opinions expressed here are my own.  I have not been compensated for this review.  I have been given the curriculum to keep for review purposes.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Glad it's over!

Well, it has been a whirlwind of exhaustion, illness, frustration, and did I mention exhaustion?  :) Baby T has been sick all week.  She has a rash again.  We were in the ER on Sunday late night, then the MD on Wednesday.  It has been a struggle.  Bean Boy is having sleeping problems again, which means schooling is incredibly difficult, chores are difficult, life is challenging... I have not been sleeping enough which leads to life being challenging as well.

BUT, we have had some good things happen...  We had a very successful trip to the local consignment shop and have almost completed the winter clothes shopping...not that we'll need them fro 3-5 more months! We have managed to get most of our schooling done, and make up some of last weeks.  Laundry is not falling behind... Ok.. truly I'm having trouble thinking of accomplishments! LOL!  It has been a week of survival, but since that is my goal for the year, I'm happy!

The good news is, I will be getting a much needed break from every day life!  When I was 3 years old, I had this awesome Sunday School teacher.  She's still friends with my mom, and me!  She's still pretty awesome!  We're going to visit her Saturday when I get off of work!  So, I work Thursday, Friday and leave early Saturday.  Just me, my mom, and the kids.  We will take some school for Bean Boy (mean mom!) but hopefully he can do it on the long drive.  The kids are looking forward to visiting a TN farm, and I'm looking forward to some much needed simplicity!

Maybe next week's wrap up will be more exciting!  Have a great week-end!

  friday favorite things | finding joy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Uncertainty and Doubt

My very handsome young man!

So, yesterday was one of those days.  My frustration level hit an all time high, which made my "grit" sink to an all time low. I just wanted to quit.  I'm so tired of fighting to get an "average" (or less) performance from an incredibly intelligent child.  He's your typical "do just enough" kid...and sometimes, it's just not enough.... Sigh.  His ADD and Executive Functioning disorder are more than just a diagnosis.  It opens up his mother to a whole new world of doubt and uncertainty.  Throw in a tad of giftedness (and hormones) and it is enough to make her want to crawl into a hole for, oh, about 18 years!!!  This. Is. Hard!!!!

I am so thankful for this incredible kid.  He is super, crazy smart.  Hubby says at night they make up math problems to do together, and that Bean Boy is making up trigonometry problems!  Geesh!  He's 11 people!!!  He is super creative and constantly that brain is turning.  It makes my brain feel exhausted.  He is funny.  Fortunately, and unfortunately, he got my sense of humor.  It's funny, but extremely sarcastic and for an 11 year old without discernment... well, it can mean trouble.  Adults love this kid! Really, they do. And, they can never figure out why he causes me so much frustration and stress, because they just think he is so wonderful.  And, he is wonderful....

But, he is a strong-willed kid.  When he was younger, it used to really frustrate me when people thought it would make things better to say, "He is strong-willed. He'll be a good leader one day."  I constantly thought, if he makes it!  I totally see now that no one (and I mean NO ONE) will convince that kid to do anything he doesn't want to do. So, the imperative to teach him to do the right thing, and to pray the Holy Spirit will make him desire the right thing, feels that much greater.

Insert doubt and uncertainty here... This is where I am faint of heart.  I struggle with knowing where he is.  Hubby and I frequently compare him to Sheldon on Big Bang Theory.  He is almost completely without emotions or the capability to talk about them.  The only time he shows emotion is when he is dog tired and completely unable to function; which, due to his sleeping issues, is frequently.  And these emotions come in outbursts of tears and unreasonable attitude, and end in him being sent to bed.  I long to connect with him on any level outside of Phineas and Pherb, comics, and fantasy.  It makes my heart ache....

I long for him to be able to sleep.  I long to be confident in the decisions we make concerning him.  I long for him to develop healthy friendships with kids his own age.  The only decision I confidently trust, is our decision to homeschool.  While there are days that I think it would be easier to send him to school, deep down I believe that is a lie from the enemy.  My heart aches for this kid who struggles with a sleeping disorder, inability to organize, and inability to focus.  It hurts.  I do wish it were me and not him.  I never know if I should let him sleep or push him through it.  I never know if I should give consequences for losing school work and books, or revamp our organization.  I feel like I cannot give him the training and tools he needs to become a man who will be able to support his family... there just isn't time!  Some days, I truly feel like a failure.

Insert frustration here.... he's so stinking smart.  My brain and heart oscillate from compassion to frustration.  Surely he is smart enough to remember when you are done with the math book, put it away.  Don't make your sisters squeal; it is not fun for them.  All sentences begin with capital letters and end with a punctuation mark (picture him rolling eyes here).  Now that he is in 6th grade, the pressure (from where I don't know) to focus more on academics and learning certain things, is mounting.  He is 11, I should be able to expect a little bit more maturity.  Right?  So, I get angry.  That solves a whole lot, right?

There just aren't words to describe the constant nagging in my heart, that says I messed up again, the pain of knowing he's not like other kids, the uncertainty and questioning of every decision we make concerning him.  There is fear about what his future holds.  Will he be able to focus enough to hold a job? Will he be able to turn in documents that are completed (and punctuated) correctly, without food and crumpling?  Will he be able to connect with a woman and marry?  There is so much uncertainty...my heart grows weak.

I try not to borrow trouble from tomorrow and the future, especially Bean Boy's future.  It is more than I can bear, to think about what could be.  Instead, today I am choosing to believe that God will redeem the situation.  I believe God has a plan for him.  I believe He has a specific purpose and calling, and that Bean Boy is unique for this reason.  I believe apart from God, I cannot have certainty in parenting this amazing kiddo.  And even then, it is hard.  So, minute by minute I must choose to trust God for my son.  It is hard work, this faith thing!  :)

Yes, he is goofy!

Yes, he does like to read the dictionary.....

Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart; Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and He will act. Ps. 37: 3-5

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bad Day....Thank you God

Well, Sunday things didn't turn out like I had planned. I was super excited to have a Sunday off (one where I hadn't worked the night before).  It is so very rare! I had all my plans ready to go over to my mom's and spend the day doing some crafts I've had planned out for a while...thank you Pinterest!  Yes, I know we were skipping church, but my hubby was gone, and I don't really ever get to go to church, so I don't have a class, etc.... excuses, excuses.  We had some mighty worship time in the car; much to my son's dismay! He had to listen to us girls belt it out!

So, I get the kids loaded up before 0900... We get to mom's and make a list of things we need (of course, I don't have everything for even one project).  While we are waiting for Michaels to open, Baby T was complaining about being cold.  Well, after some push-ups, jumping jacks, and sit ups, she stopped complaining...exit thoughts about cold from mom's head.  

Once we got to Michael's, the complaints of cold started again. It finally dawned on me that this child never complains about much of anything, much less being cold.  I felt her head.... then the guilt set it.  The child had a raging fever!  In my defense, she never acted sick at all! We finished at Michael's went to Mom's, and while the kids sat in the car, I packed up all of our stuff. No crafts for me that day- they didn't have what I needed anyway.  Then, when we got home, her temp was 102.6!  She was still not acting sick!  We went to bed anyway...hey, she needed her momma to nap with her, right? 

So, yeah, I was kinda bummed that my plans got ruined. BUT, I was so thankful to be with her, that her dad didn't have to manage this (he was at the hospital, on call, till Monday at 4:30).  I was thankful for the snuggle time, which she is kind of outgrowing. And, looking back, especially thankful that I was the one home.  When we woke up, her tempt was 101.something.  She was shivering. I medicated her around 8:00, snuggled with her, then her temp was 104.5!  Yikes! This was an hour after her meds. I put her in the tub, and it went up again to 104.9!!! SO, my mom came over to watch the other kids, and I headed off to the ER, after another dose of tylenol. 

By the time we got there, her temp was down of course. Rapid strep test was negative, and we got to go home.  Now, she has a fever, but is doing gymnastics in the living room.  We got to have another sweet nap together today.  I'm thankful it was nothing serious. I'm thankful that my best friend (also a nurse) was able to come down from work and visit us in the ER.  I'm thankful for my children. I'm thankful that we got insurance when we did (last month!), I'm thankful that God has not seen fit to give  us major illnesses to deal with to add to our stress. I'm so thankful for snuggles with my babies who are growing up way to fast. I'm thankful for the friend who brought us Pedialyte, and the one who brought us dinner. I'm thankful that we were able to get most of our school done today (Baby T excluded from most). I'm thankful that in the midst of something bad, God has given me so very, very much to be thankful for.