Thursday, January 31, 2008

Been Workin'

Wow, January has been one hopping month over at Pampered Cheeks! The custom orders are coming in as fast as I can complete them. I was feeling guilty about not having much time to update the blog, but then I went into one of my picture folders and came out with this:




All these were done this month. So now I don't feel so bad about stopping by to update ya. :)

Zeke is having surgery tomorrow morning. I'm not sure what the procedure is exactly called but it's meatal stenosis. The opening to his urethra is smaller than normal. He has incontinence both during the daytime and at nighttime. We did this procedure with Caleb at 4 years old and it worked for him. So now we're going to try it for Zeke. His incontinence is much worse than Caleb's was. The urologist says that it really only works about 50% of the time. Here's hoping we're in the 50% that it works for!

Joshua has begun potty training. It's so hard to believe, but such a relief at the same time. He's doing wonderfully. He stayed dry all night last night, peed in the potty when he got up and all day, and only had an accident at 7 pm tonight. So I'm tickled as can be. No apparent incontinence with him, only poor timing. :)

Well, I'm bushed. Even more so after looking at all those diapers I've made. Whew! I can't wait to get back and write a real blog... :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

F.A.T.

That is an acronym, which I'll get to explaining in just a minute.

One of the best things I ever did in high school was go on a missions trip. I grew up in a small, independent Baptist church. During a time when our church did not have a pastor, we only had Sunday school on Sunday mornings, which was led by my dad. So in the evenings we would go to a nearby Southern Baptist church. I joined the youth group there, which was separated into boys and girls (Acteens). The Acteens Activators were going on a summer mission trip, I soon learned, and they had a spot available. I jumped at the opportunity to go. It required training and meetings, to which I happily attended. I have SO MANY fond memories of this time. I grew spiritually in many ways from the exercise. At one weekend training, nestled in the Appalachian mountains, our leaders taught us this acronym: F.A.T. Flexible, Available, and Trainable. (I later heard it another way with the same meaning, Fixable, Adaptable, and Teachable.) To test how flexible we were, they put us through a grueling test. We were all hungry for lunch. But as we went through the lunch line, we were told to draw numbers from a basket. As we went through the line, we were only allowed to get those items which we had a number for. I could get noodles but no sauce. A drink, but no cup to put it in. I probably didn't have a number to get a fork. Many girls grumbled (understandably). I sat puzzled, anticipating something to happen next. Of course, the grumbling grew louder and elicited a reprimand from the leaders. Is this how we are supposed to act? Do we think that life will always be fair? What do we do out on the mission field, where we are doing what God called us to do, and it gets tough? This lesson made such a deep, deep impression on my life. I wasn't angry, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Eventually the ladies announced that seconds were available, and the girls figured out that we could all do some trading. So in the end, we ended up with full meals. Some of the girls even on my team still were holding a grudge. They didn't think it was too funny. Many other girls (me included) really "got" the meaning of F.A.T.

I'm thinking a lot about F.A.T. these days. My days are so packed full of learning. In the peak of my busiest season ever with Pampered Cheeks, my darling little daughter with curious fingers broke a part on my serger. It is in the shop, and I have promised orders due with very little room to wiggle. Ok. I can be flexible. Kristin came to my rescue and I was able to do some needed serging at her house (with a small miracle that her serger worked as well as mine!).

Homeschooling is hard, but the hardest part about homeschooling is giving up my own desires. Before, when the kids were at SCCS, I looked forward to sending them off each morning then spending the day working on my own things or focusing on the little ones. Now I feel sort of trapped. Torn between what I want to do, and what I know I must do. Deep breath. I am available. It's not easy--but they need me. Not some ghost of me under the same roof barking at them to get to work. No, they need me there and engaged and working with them.

I am a self-sufficient, strong person. Sometimes I equate not knowing something with weakness. I don't like to not know or not be able to figure it out on my own. I like to be perfect. I like to pretend that I don't sin. Sigh. But I'm teachable. And God sure does have my attention! He is teaching me more and more every day. I wish you could hear the sermon I heard today. It was from 1 John 1:8-2:2. If you go read it, don't let yourself get hung up or stopped at 2:1. Make sure you read all the way through 2:2. It is beautiful.

We are leaning on Jesus. I really don't know any other way we would be making it through. Mitch's hours at work are really long, and he is very run-down. The depression is curling it's ugly black fingers back into his life again. We are praying for God to lead. I am so desperate for a solution. I want him to be really free from the depression. I'm so thankful for his devotion to God and for his unrelenting desire to provide for his family. He has been through so much. I only hope that God has a purpose during this period of life to strengthen Mitch's endurance. I can't wait to see him using his gift of working with children again!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Still Here!

We are around, just busy as always. The kids and I enjoyed a nice break from school, and after a short transition are settling back into the normal routine. I am proud of the kiddos for hanging in there and putting up with me. For all my faults as a teacher, they seem to be managing to do their work well. One of the nice things about our homeschool is the testing to help me know if they are on track. Many people don't understand how this works, so I thought I could explain it better. We buy our curriculum all from the same place, A Beka Book. It is all integrated well and I don't have to do much thinking or worrying about if all the requirements for each grade level are being met. This has put my mind to rest in many ways, especially with this being our first year ever of homeschooling. The A Beka curriculum is used by thousands of homeschoolers all over the country, and many private Christian schools too. In fact, at the kids' school they were at before they had many subjects from A Beka--so that made the transition a little easier for them. The tests are prepared for me. Math tests are straightforward--testing of the skills they've been practicing. The other tests vary in style, just like you would expect in a traditional classroom--some mulitple choice, matching, true/false, and short answer. Of course, the tests are put together in such a way as to cover a nice sampling of the topics presented in the lessons, and an answer key is given. In this way, I can test the kids, grade the tests, and know without so much bias if their grade accurately represents their understanding of the material studied. Also, I can know with some certainty how they compare to peers, since this curriculum is so widely used. Even longer projects subject to more opinion, such as a book report, are given a ruberic by which to grade, taking the guesswork out for me. And then, I have the back-up plan of a teacher husband who has experience in the field who can give feedback on how the kids are doing, plus several teacher friends to whom I have presented the kids' works on occasion. Finally, at the end of the year the kids will each take a standardized test to see where they fall compared to kids in our area, in our state, and in the nation. So far Caleb is performing well, with great accuracy particularly in phonics and arithmetic (the two most important areas for a 1st grader). His handwriting was getting sloppy there before Christmas, but we talked about that a lot, and I've noticed a huge improvement since starting back after break. Eden excels in all her subjects, scoring in the 90s almost always. Her mom's perfectionism is rubbing off on her, however, and she can't stand to miss any problems. I'm going to have to work with her on that. Most of the time she has a wonderful spirit, but every now and then she shows a little bit of attitude. She's very imaginative, and ends up losing time daydreaming. Micah is struggling to find his foothold and what he really wants to do. He's at that point of decision where I don't think it's enough for him to work to please me. He's got a real, "What's in it for me?" attitude. Also I think the coursework is challenging for him. It requires a lot of fact-recalling, and we just don't drill the facts enough. I would love to spend time making him flashcards for every subject (particularly History and Science), but struggle to have the time. I would love even more for him to make his own flashcards, but I realize that's a discipline that most 4th graders don't have (even my brainiac self didn't pick up that habit until high school). On a high note, the work is cyclical, so the stuff he's studying this year he will revisit next year--they'll take all of this year's facts, go over them like new, and add new stuff to that. So it should be a little easier, not to mention he'll have the hs'ing thing down a little better too. He has both A and B averages in his subjects. He is working SO hard on his attitude. I am wrestling with letting go.

I'm so excited to say that we accomplished Bible class EVERY day this week! That's the first time since October, I think. :) It has been a real struggle, but I set my jaw and decided it is the most important thing we have to do and I'm not going to give up. I think the kids are catching on. I'm also trying to move very quickly through it (the more time we sit there, the greater the chance that we'll be interrupted). I have a much more realistic viewpoint now, and the goal is easily obtained. The kids learned some great attributes of God this week: God is omnipresent (everywhere), immutable (He does not change), omnipotent (all powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). I love the questions that were asked and how the topic was presented. The curriculum we use is by Summit Ministries, and it is great.

My serger had to go to the shop. :( :( :( *cry* One of my darling children was being a little curious, and broke a part inside. Thankfully, the DC came and told me, while sobbing, instead of just letting me find it. If I had been left to find it, I know for certain I would have lost my temper. Instead, I handled it rather matter-of-factly, and we all loaded up to take it to the shop to get fixed. I hope it is back sometime next week as promised. I got slammed with diaper orders (yay!), and I would love to keep my deadlines. I do have a plan in place...just barely short of taking my diapers down to the shop and saying they have to let me use the display model to complete them. :) Kristin has said I can use hers if it gets to that point. :)

Well, it's uber late here, and I have to sew what I can tomorrow. I thought I should post an update before everyone gives up on me and stops coming to check. Love you all! Steph

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

That's My King

I know I have been heavy on videos lately, but if you have 5 minutes and you've never heard this speech by S. M. Lockridge, take time to watch this. Mitch says if this doesn't move you, then check your pulse!