March 5, 2012

As I get prepared for our appointment with maternal fetal medicine tomorrow, I spent some time reading over the prayer I wrote the day I found out we were expecting this little one. I write to get thoughts out and since Kerry was working and we wanted to keep the whole pregnant under wraps for a bit, I had to sit down for 2 minutes to write out my prayer of thanks the afternoon I found out. This is what I wrote thanking God for this precious gift. It was a good reminder today.
3/5/12
My Dear Heavenly Father,
I have to write this down because my mind is racing so much I can’t even focus long enough to say anything more than the words “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for my salvation. Thank you Lord for the blessing of children! And Thank you God for allowing me to be pregnant again. I cannot put into words the joy I’m feeling at this moment.
I am so grateful for this moment it’s hard to describe. I thought I would be more afraid of being pregnant after losing Knox, but I’m anticipating it. I’m excited about the prospect. I pray Lord that you will allow me to carry this baby to term and that you will help him/her to grow and develop normally. I also pray God that you will allow me to have a safe birth at home.
Lord, please guide our steps as we make decisions for my healthcare and as we look to the future of this little one. Lord, please bring about a peace as we embark on this adventure. Please help this pregnancy to glorify you and this child and his/her birth glorify you and the grace that you give. God I thank you so much for the precious blessing you have bestowed on our family. Please help us to be good stewards of the gifts You provide for us and to always trust You.
Thank you. I praise You Lord for Your provision and Your grace and Your love for me. Thank you God for the blessing of another child.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen.
 

Talk Turkey and pray

November is a special time at our house. Three of our boys have birthdays in November. Gabe is November 22, Otto is November 23 and Zeke is November 19. We lost a baby November 15, 2009. We remember that baby each year because I truly think that God doesn’t let you forget the children He blesses you with, even if you’ve only known them for a short time.
We are looking forward to November for another reason this year. We are expecting our 8th child (5th here on earth) on November 15. We were quite surprised to find we were pregnant in early March. Everyone at our house had a bout of the flu around that time, myself included and I just wasn’t getting any better. In fact, I felt rotten and exhausted. Then coffee made me nauseous and I suspected something was up.
We are excited and to be totally honest a bit nervous. When we lost Knox last December, it was such a shock to our family. While I had suffered miscarriages previously, I had never lost a baby so late in the pregnancy. My biggest fear after he was born, due to the complications I had after he was born, was that I wouldn’t be able become pregnant again.
I am delighted to be pregnant, but I approach it with much more caution and prayer. I have prayed more fervently for this pregnancy, this child and this birth more than I have any of my others. I am nervous about how I will navigate through the weeks of this pregnancy that coincide with the days and weeks when I lost Knox. I will be 15 weeks pregnant with this pregnancy the week I would have been due with Knox (he was 15 weeks when he died). This baby is due the same day we lost another baby, but is also due the same week that we celebrate the births of our 3 oldest boys.
I have learned though and have been reminded, that this pregnancy is not in my control. He has a purpose for this child and his or her life, just as He did for Knox and the other two babies I have lost and just as He does for my 4 boys here on earth. No matter how much I want to cling to them, if God chooses to take them from this earth, it is His will and not mine. We are trusting God for my health and this baby’s health as we progress in this pregnancy. We appreciate and desire your prayers for our family and this precious baby.
This is our first picture of our little one.
I wrote the above post on Thursday night, below is an update from Friday morning…
We got a phone call this morning from our doctor. Below is an email we sent to our family…
On Wednesday we had a sonogram to check the baby and to ease my mind a bit as I’m a little anxious after we lost Knox. At that sonogram, they take a measurement called a nuchal translucency test. They measure the amount of fluid at the back of baby’s neck. Normal values are less than 2.5 mm. Ours was 6mm. They often combine that test with a blood test (which I did, but we don’t have the results for) to determine the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and heart defects. Because our result was so high, my physician called this morning to talk about options and refer me to maternal fetal medicine in Colorado Springs. With a measurement that significant it is unlikely that the blood work would bring the “risk” level down to an acceptable range.

We have a number of options. One option is to have a CVS study (where they take part of the placenta) and do genetic testing to determine if there are chromosomal abnormalities with the baby. It won’t necessarily tell us if there are cardiac defects. This test has to be done in the next week. Or we can wait for about 2 months and have an amniocentesis (where they take amniotic fluid) and do genetic testing. The risks of both procedures are the loss of the pregnancy, which is about 1:200 or 1:225 for both. While it won’t change our decision to carry this pregnancy to term, I very much need to know what I’m dealing with. I have elected to undergo the CVS test next Thursday morning at 0900 in Colorado Springs.
Regardless of the results, I will have a very detailed sonogram at 22-24 weeks and a fetal cardiac echocardiogram to evaluate the functioning of the baby’s heart and screen for any defects there. As I said, the results of these tests won’t affect whether we continue with the pregnancy as we believe every life is precious the test will help prepare us for what lies ahead. If the chromosome studies are normal, but there is a heart defect we will most likely have the baby in Denver where we have access to baby heart doctors. 🙂 If the chromosome studies are abnormal, it will change how we manage the birth in terms of interventions, such as a c-section etc. We appreciate prayers and since I often use this blog to “brain dump” I’m sure updates will follow.
We are trusting God to help us navigate through this really scary time for our family. We also know that our God is big, our God is good and that He loves His children. We trust Him for whatever the future holds for our family and our precious little baby.

 

2 hours undone

So I’m just going to brain dump again just a bit…I’ve been pondering lately the junk that people are putting in their brains and how they seem to think it isn’t going to affect their daily lives. Junk in…junk out.
What has really been on my mind lately is the idea of discipleship and family vision.  A vision isn’t just a “plan” for the next 50 years or so of our lives. But a vision for the family is looking into the future and saying “This. This is where I want my kids, grandkids and family to be in 10, 20, 50, 100 or 200 years” And then going about that vision with intentionality. You  must identify the steps or at least the habits that you’re going to take to get there. The morals and values you want to instill, the training and education you will provide and the growth that will take place.
Every family has a vision. Whether it’s put into words or if the family even knows it, the vision is there. Some families go about it intentionally, others figure someone else will do it for them, or they just lack forsight to even see the importance of having a vision. The vision you have for your family has the ability to change your family tree, it has the ability to direct the paths of your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Some families appear to have a handle on this vision. They have a plan, they certainly have an idea of where they’d like their family to be, but unfortunately they don’t take the necessary steps to get there or they grossly underestimate the amount of time it takes to actually cultivate that vision in their family.
I recently read a statistic that 80% of the kids raised in a “Christian” home and church, leave the church by the end of their freshman year in college. Wow. Does that shock any of my Christian friends and parents out there? It should.
I think there are several things that play into this statistic and the reason behind kids leaving the church. One of them is that my generation wants a genuine faith, not just a “because it’s the right thing to do” kind of faith, but a genuine “love you with the love of Christ” kind of faith. (But that’s a different blog post entirely).
Another equally important reason kids are leaving the church, in my opinion, is that their parents and grandparents lacked a family vision. They were lulled into thinking that 2 hours in a church on Sunday morning and maybe an hour or two during the week would “undo” the junk that goes into their kids minds during the week. Now I know this is going to ruffle some feathers, but I really believe it’s true. Church isn’t going to replace parenting, church isn’t going to be able to erase the curse words, immoral behavior, and other trash kids are exposed to during the week. It’s not meant to.
We’ve had a lot of questions about why we homeschool. We view homeschooling not as a way to “shelter” and “control” our kids, but as a way to disciple them. It’s part of our family vision. We don’t expect church to do something that we as parents should be doing. We believe that 40 hours a week in a government school isn’t going to get us to our family vision. It’s putting our kids, our faith and their salvation at risk. I’m not saying that if a family doesn’t homeschool their kids, they’re going to end up as mass murders or that they’re headed straight for the depths of hell (although without the grace of God we all are). But I certainly think it warrants a serious look by believing families. Would you freely trust those who are teaching your kids with your check book or your house? If not, I would pose the question to you then how much more valuable are your children?
Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against public education or public educators. We have many great ones in our family and friends. But as believers we feel we are mandated by scripture to disciple our children, and that is difficult to do when they are spending 40 hours a week in a government school.
What concerns me most is not that kids are going to public school, but that their parents aren’t actively discipling them. And that is really the key. It is the job of the parent, not the church, to disciple children. Unfortunately, most parents are unaware, ill equipped, and unaccountable for this task. Do I think the church has a role in discipleship? Absolutely. The church is there to support and hold families accountable, but not to serve as a substitute for the responsibility God has given to parents.
What world view do you hold? What world view do you want your children to hold? What world view are they getting 40 hours a week vs the world view they’re getting in church every Sunday?
I didn’t post this to start a debate or hurt feelings, but to express our views and part of our vision for our family. We want to start the thought process for why you’re doing what you’re doing with your family. What is the vision you hold for your family? How are you going to get there?
A much more exhaustive and in-depth study of family vision, purposeful parenting and discipleship has been written by Dr. Voddie Baucham in Family Driven Faith. It’s a great read and study of Deuteronomy 6.

Five Minute Friday — Gift

I know I’m a bit late with my five minute Friday, but I was busy.
Gift.
My children. My children are the greatest gift I have been given. I delight in the beings they are. Their quirks. The way that my son Gabe’s eyes light up and twinkle when he smiles. His thoughtfulness, the way his mind is constantly working and creating and building.

My Otto. Words can’t describe my Otto. He is my imagineer. A little absent minded, but always mindful of others and how they feel. Tearful when there aren’t 2 of him and he can’t be home with his little brothers and go with mom on an errand too. The heart-full of love that he is.

Zeke. My very very blond big eyed Zeke. He takes the world in, he is constantly thinking about the world around him. He is finding his voice and what a voice it is! The things that come out of that mouth that was so quiet for so long.

My home birth baby Titus. The strong willed child that he is, finding his personality and his way of doing things. Trying so hard to be “big” like his brothers. He looks so much like his daddy. He is a cuddler, but only in his timing. Insisting on his own things, his own way, his independence.

My children in heaven. My son Knox. The pain I felt when I lost him was more than I thought I could take. I have learned so many things by going through the loss of my son. It was a trial and heartbreak that few know, but it was a gift too. I felt the gift of family, friends and was surrounded by comfort only God could bring.
Yes my children are a gift to me. They teach me more than any book could. I learn more about myself, my husband and my God. They make ordinary moments  into extraordinary bits of awesomeness every day. And without the amazing gift of my husband, I wouldn’t have the gifts I call my children.

Cloth diapering basics

I posted yesterday about a HUGE giveaway I’m part of. I have cloth diapered each of our boys. I have used cloth much more extensively with our last two that with our first two. At first, it was a little daunting, but now it’s second nature and is the easiest thing ever. So in anticipation of the giveaway, I want to tell you a little about how I do it and answer a few questions that often come up when I say I cloth diaper.
The first question I almost always get is “Do you use pins?”
Nope. They make these great little things called Snappis. They don’t poke the baby and they work great! I only use snappis if I’m using flat diapers or prefolds. My other diapers have snaps or hook and loop (fancy word for really strong velcro).

This is what they look like on.

The next question I often get is “what about the poop?”
My initial thought is usually “what about it?”, but I know what the person is asking.
When my babies are exclusively breastfed, I just put the cloth diaper in the bag with all the others. I don’t rinse them at all. Once they start solid foods we rinse the cloth diapers in the toilet and put them in the bag to be washed. There are a couple of options for rinsing. Some people use a diaper sprayer, it’s a sprayer that attaches to the toilet (think shower head) and you spray the diapers off that way. I’ve never been able to talk DH into buying one, so I don’t use one. Instead, we bought a cheap pair of tongs and marked them (so they don’t get confused with our cooking ones should they ever leave the bathroom). I grab a corner of the diaper with the tongs and dunk the diaper until it’s “cleanish” and then just toss it in the wash bag.
or
What about all that laundry?
I do diaper laundry every other day, with 6 people in our family I don’t really notice the extra load. It doesn’t really seem to add to my work when it comes to washing. My washing routine is usually a cold rinse of the diapers, a cold wash and then a hot wash. I’ve found this seems to be the best routine for getting and keeping my diapers cleaner. I have been using the same routine and the same diapers since I started, they don’t have any stains and look almost brand new! I use my homemade laundry detergent for my cloth diapers and occasionally will add bleach to the hot wash or vinegar (never in the same load) if I have a particularly stinky batch. One thing that I really like to do is to hang my diapers out on the line in the summer to dry! Nothing makes me happier than having diapers hanging on the line drying.
What kind of diapers should I use?
There are a number of options when you’re going to cloth diaper. The cheapest option is probably flat diapers or prefold diapers with covers. I have several of these diapers and covers and use them often for my babies until they’re about 4-6 months old or so.
I also like using pocket diapers for outings and smaller babies. Pocket diapers are “stuffed” with an absorbent stuffer. For someone looking for “easy” cloth diapers, these are the diapers you want for sure! They’re uber easy to use and are thin under clothes.
I have some diapers that I call my “workhorse” diapers. They’re fitted terry cloth diapers that hold up to anything. They’re a little bulkier than my pockets or prefolds, but I have had the same set of fitted diapers since I started cloth diapering 9 years ago. They’re easy to clean, use and I have used them on babies from 8lbs to my toddlers right before potty training.
There is also a kind of diaper called “all in one” it is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a filler and cover all in one. These are even easier to use than pocket diapers! The biggest draw back for me is that they take a while to dry after I’ve washed them. Otherwise they’re fantastic! One the cost scale, these tend to cost just a bit more than pocket diapers.
Already sold on cloth diapering? Want to try it, but aren’t sure where to start? Be sure to come back and enter my giveaway! You could enter a life time supply of diapers! A $546.00 value (which is HUGE in the cloth diaper world!)

5 ways to help boys learn

Let’s face it, boys are different (in most definitely a good way). As a homeschooling mother to 4 boys I had to learn how to teach them differently. They’re rarely content to just sit and do workbook pages all day long. It has been a delightful adventure finding new ways to teach them the same concepts I learned in school sitting at a desk.
1. The number one way to help boys (and children in general) learn is to have realistic expectations. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sit at a desk all day. I hate sitting through hour long meetings 3 times a month. So it’s unrealistic to expect our children to sit there and be happy about it. If we, as parents, don’t have realistic expectations for our homeschool, we hinder the learning that takes place. Having unrealistic expectations makes our home stressful, we put pressure on our children to meet those expectations and we they don’t, we get cranky. It’s much easier to adjust our plans and be FLEXIBLE than to try to push our agenda.

2. Let them wiggle! Is it really such a big deal if our 7 year old stands up while he does math? Does it really matter if he needs to dance around a little bit while he’s remembering his spelling words? I really don’t think so. Some kids learn better when they can move around. I know I did. I remember being in nursing school and being able to retain information so much better if I could read it or try to learn it standing up. I distinctly remember taping the flow of blood through the heart on the back of my closet door. If I could stand there and shift my weight back and forth I was able to retain it so much better.

3. Show them how to apply it. Very few people enjoy learning stuff they never get to apply. The same goes for our children. It helps solidify the knowledge in their little brains if they can learn about something in our school and then apply it in real life. For our boys, the excitement (yes I said excitement) for math comes when they learn a concept such as subtraction and then see how we use it in real life. Or in Bible when they memorize scripture, but later can apply it to a life situation or circumstance. How awesome that they get to actually USE the knowledge they’re getting. The same goes for the little guys. My 3 year old is delighted when he recognizes a letter we’ve been learning in school on a sign in the store. His eyes light up like it’s the coolest letter Z he’s ever seen!

4. Let them study something they like. While there is a time and place for them to learn the “boring” stuff, sometimes they should be able to learn about something that fascinates them. My 9 year old son just finished reading a book from Vision Forum called “Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction”. It was all about how to build these mini weapons out of household and “junk drawer” stuff. He collected stuff to build them, he built the weapons with dad and then tried them out on Lego guys and stuffed animals. It wasn’t in our curriculum but he learned some great lessons in trajectories, geometry and weights. We did have to set some limits on when he could break out the book, but it served as a great motivator to complete his daily work.

5. Take learning outside.  Even if we’re just “doing math” the boys enjoy learning outside. When Otto was learning to add we took it outside. I would say “Otto! Go get me 3 rocks as fast as you can!” He’d run around the yard and find 3 rocks. Then I’d say “Otto! Go get 5 more rocks.” He’d run and get 5 more rocks. Then I’d ask “How many rocks do you have?” He would say “8” fairly quickly. Then we’d write the math problem in chalk on the sidewalk in front of us. If I would have just written 3+5 on a piece of paper in the house it would have taken 30 minutes some days to get him to do the problem, which resulted in frustration for both of us. We do nature walks when the weather is nice enough to be outside. We have really enjoyed watching our trees start to blossom or the seedlings sprout in the garden. Kids are meant to be outside. There is no reason they can’t be.

Trying to pop popcorn with a magnifying glass.

The most important thing we can do to help our children learn is to have fun with them discovering the world around us. Remembering that we’re not re-creating a public classroom at home, but we are learning at home, together.

Delight

Delighting in our children seems so counter-intuitive in the world today. I was reminded this week about just how foreign that concept seems to those around us. I had to take the boys to the doctor on Monday for a routine check up. I was stopped by a lady in the elevator and our conversation went something like this…
Her: “Are they all yours?”
Me: “Yes they are!” (I really wanted to roll my eyes and say duh!)
Her: “Why aren’t they in school?” (She was pointing at my older 2)
Me: “We homeschool them”
Her: “I could never do that! My kids drive me nuts and I only have 2!”
Me: “We really enjoy it! It gives us a great chance to spend time with them and learn together as a family.” (My older boys shake their heads in agreement and I can tell she’s a little uncomfortable by the thought of being home with her children all day)
Her: “I don’t know how you do it, especially with 4 boys! Your house must be nuts!”
Me: “Oh I love it! I was totally made to be a mom to boys! They’re so much fun and there is always something going on!” (In my mind I’m thinking okay seriously lady…how many times are you going to insult me before we get to the second floor?)
The elevator dings and we’re on our floor (Thank goodness!)
Her: “Good luck! I would never bring all those kids to the doctor by myself! That’s just asking for trouble.”
Me: “Thanks! I’m sure we’ll have a great day! I’m looking forward to it. Enjoy your day!”

It wasn’t so much that this lady said something negative about a number of things that I believe in strongly, but I felt bad for her and her children. The joy she is missing out on by choosing not to delight in her children! Children are such a blessing and a joy to behold. We are so fortunate to have the children that we do. I think my perspective has changed a bit since Knox was born, but I have always delighted in our boys.
It’s not always easy. But my heart breaks for children who’s parents don’t delight in them.  It’s not enough to just tolerate them or their noise and messes. We should be finding joy in spending time with them, in being with them and in who they are.
How are we to delight in our children? First I would say we have look at why we should delight in then. In Psalm 127:3-5
3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
The Lord clearly calls children a gift. How blessed are we whose quiver is full of children (That’s why my blog name is Fillingquiver! We hope for the blessings only God can give)!

Our Quiver

So how do we delight in our children?
One way that we can show we delight in our children is to disciple them. In our family we do this by homeschooling our boys and taking time to show them the ways of the Lord and to teach God’s principles to them daily.
Another way you can show delight in your children is to model for them the character traits you’re teaching them and you’d like to see them develop. Titus 2: 7-8 says “7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” We do a lot of talking in our house about character traits, we memorize them, we talk about developing them and we expect them, but do WE (as parents) model them for our children. Remember, children will do what you do and not what you say. They learn by your example.
Do you discipline your children out of love for them and not out of your own anger or embarrassment? Proverbs 3:12 says “12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” We should discipline our children, but it shouldn’t be done out of anger or embarrassment because it reflected poorly on us. It should be because we want better for them, we want them to be obedient to GOD and because we love them.
When your children ask you to if they can “help” do something with you or if they ask if they can come along with you on an errand do you turn them away because it will take more time or do you gladly welcome their company and the opportunity for training? Delighting in our children means that we’re willing to take the extra time it means to train them or that we’re willing to spend time with them even if it might slow us down. Use the time you spend with them to disciple them, to search their heart, to learn to know your child. Even Jesus welcomed children unto Himself when the disciples and society would have turned them away. Matthew 19:14 “14 But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


Children desire to be with their parents when they’re little. You are the person your child looks up to most when they’re young, but even a child gets tired of being rebuffed time and again. Parents will lose their children’s hearts when they don’t delight in their children. Their children’s hearts turn towards those who are willing to give them time and attention, unfortunately in today’s society sometimes that means TV, video games, gangs and other poor influences on our children.
It’s too bad that so many times the gifts that God has given us in children are seen as burdens, punishments for bad decisions and inconveniences to our lives. While being a parent requires self sacrifice the gift of a child is so worth it. Philippians 2:3 says “3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”
We should be seeking every opportunity to win and keep the hearts of our children. The first step in doing so is to delight in them. And make sure they know that we are delighting in them. We do it by wanting and seeking to spend time with them on a daily basis, by raising them in the nuture and admonition of the Lord and by LOVING them for the gifts that they are.

 
This post is linked up at