Boy child

Where do I begin? Yall, I LOVE teaching. I always have. It was my dream from 8th grade on. I’ve worked hard for first a bachelor’s and then a master’s, and now three certifications. And I have soaked up knowledge from countless professional development sessions. I have read countless books (despite hating non-fiction) to help me perfect my craft. I seriously love teaching. I love watching light bulbs flicker and then stay on as a child learns to read or count or add or tell time. I love watching kids observe nature with excitement. I simply love what I do.

But this? This school at home thing is about to break me to my very core. In a way different than I have ever been broken. Because Grayson was not made for homeschooling. He doesn’t WANT me to be his teacher. He wants me to be his snuggly mama bear who reads TO him and snuggles him and only makes him do chores, which he can put up with because there are snuggles on either side. He does NOT want to read to me. He does NOT want to do any school work. He has informed me that I am NOT his teacher and I can’t begin to count how many times he has asked if he HAS to do … xyz thing.

I’m over it.

He is normally sweet and helpful and kind and a super loving big brother to Elle. Now he is disrespectful and laughs about it and looks to see what I’m gonna do. Picks physical fights with her and then gets MAD because she fights back! (Good for her!!) He whines and complains about every. Single. Dang. Thing. He is asked to do!

He has given up on riding his bike because it’s not easy. So he plays on a scooter that is Elle’s size and half the time fights me on wearing his helmet. My kid who used to be the one grabbing everybody’s helmets and making SURE they were all on. I can still hear him saying, “safety first!” My kid who was riding a bike so well last summer we could have taken the training wheels off then!

What has happened to my child?!?

Stress. Change. Sorrow.

Despite the fact that we have a schedule that we’re sticking to at home that is very predictable and gives him the structure he needs, it’s not HIS schedule. He desperately misses his teacher and friends. Despite being a shy kid who takes a bit to open up (nothing like the social butterflies his sisters are!), it’s April! His classmates are his world. And they were suddenly snatched away from him. He loves his teacher fiercely. And she’s gone. Might as well be on another planet.

And he’s sad. He cries every day multiple times a day. Ask him why, and he doesn’t know. But he’s just tired all the time, and he doesn’t know why. I know his tired. It’s depression. It’s anxiety weighing down his shoulders. I carry that tired on me. But I’m an adult. It saddens me to see him carrying that weight. No, it doesn’t just sadden me. It breaks my heart.

The girls are thriving. And their bond is even stronger than ever before. And then there’s him. He’s stuck somewhere in the middle- in limbo. An outcast. And his own behaviors keep it that way. I try to make him see what he’s doing, but it’s impossible.

Lord, you know all of these things. You see his tiny confused heart and you know it well. You loved him first- before I even knew he was in my womb, you knit him together. You knew these days would drive him crazy and drive me to the end of my rope. Lord, give him peace. Give him comfort. Help him to feel your love. Give me to words to say and the calm of spirit to handle his outbursts. You know my tired. Carry my burdens. You know I have so much experience, but none with this. Teach me your ways. Give me your wisdom for how to handle his heart gently, but his behavior firmly. I need help. Nothing has prepared me for this. I want, no I NEED my sweet boy to come home. I miss him desperately. I see him when he sleeps. Can he come back to stay? Please?

COVID-19 School at Home

Whew.  Here we go.  So much in life is uncertain right now, but I’m going to put together links to a bunch of my activities I’ve previously shared to hopefully help yall out… and to jog my own brain to activities we can do at home again too!  Just because my kids were younger when I blogged them doesn’t mean they aren’t appropriate for older kids too, or they might just make you think of a way you can modify to make them work best for your family!  So here we go!!!

(Also – if you find any posts that had files attached, PLEASE let me know if any of the links are broken!!  I am no longer an Amazon affiliate, so not sure if Amazon product links will work.  Fyi.)

Not sure how to get started, and you don’t really want to do one of these stricter time schedules that I really need during the school year??  Check out THIS Summer Survival – Procedures post that I made last summer – it’ll give you some ideas to keep it from being all screens all the time in your house, without setting a super strict schedule!

On THIS PAGE I explained what STEAM is, and include links to all of the activities I posted in 2014.  It’s a gold mine, yall!  Man, what I could share when I was a WAHM with only two kids instead of a full time WOTHM with three kids!  I look back at these resources, and I say thank you to past me… because you can bet I’m pulling some of them out this week (and beyond?  GULP.)  THIS ONE (Water Walking) is particularly fitting with all this talk of shamrocks and rainbows and spring!!!  Water walking is going on our agenda for TODAY!

On THIS PAGE I listed a bunch more new STEAM projects, sorted by topic, so you can pick whatever subject you want to try.  Again, do NOT be turned off by the fact that I called the pages “STEAM for Preschool!”  Yall.  I did that bc I had preschoolers at the time.  But honestly, you can do this stuff with ANY age kids!!!!!

I’m going to be using some of THESE Baby Bees ideas also to have my big kids play with Elle this week… because let’s face it, I’m not really prepared to have them occupied every minute of the day, and she desperately wants them to play with her!!!

Then there’s of course THESE “Summer Survival Science” activities that I posted last summer that are perfect to do with kids stuck at home!!

Hang in there yall… and who knows?  I may actually have time to create some NEW blog posts if this quarantine lasts very long!  Lol.  I think.  Lemme go drink some more coffee and think about how I feel about all this…

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A Letter to My Youngest

My precious little miracle,

Here we sit. It’s April 16th. I was supposed to work today, but you and I are both sick, and you need regular nebulizer treatments, so I stayed home with you. You definitely don’t feel good, but man, you’re so much healthier than this time a year ago. When I checked on you before coming to bed, your breathing was perfectly even. Your body is fighting this virus the same way you fight everything- stubborn, and head-on. You should be all better in just a couple more days. This has been hard on me, though. Harder than an outsider might fathom. But having you wheezing on April 16 just doesn’t set well with my heart.

Your wonderful Daddy and I have been through our share of rollercoaster life events in our marriage – moving, a career change for me, having a baby, medical issues for me with my gallbladder, losing his Mima, losing two babies early in pregnancy, having a second baby, losing my grandparents within four days of each other… we felt like we’d seen a lot. We weathered each rise and fall of the rollercoaster great because of our faith. We faced some positive and some negative surprises along the way, and of course the biggest (positive!!) surprise we ever had was having you! And what a wonderful, miraculous surprise you are!!! We felt we had faced it all, and then you got sick. Very sick. And you were just so very tiny still. Ten and a half weeks old. Our tiny, precious little miracle bug. Our little mermaid.

I relive those days over and over at random times. The days between April 9 and April 17 are all a blur. A blur that comes to a sudden, halting stop at 10:58 pm on April 17. The hours between then and the night of the 19th are a blur too, but a very different blur- where every minute seemed to last for hours. The hours stretched into seemingly days, and the days to weeks. Every time we almost lost you my heart would stop for long seconds, and I would die inside. Sometimes I wished the tears would come, and they wouldn’t. And other times, the floodgates would open and I couldn’t make them stop. I would hold your tiny fingers and crave the feeling of holding you close. I begged God to give me a chance to hold you again. And then the clock stopped again, and we were told we were at your last option. ECMO. I remember texting your Nurse Practioner, Katie, and begging her to come be with us. I am pretty sure I just said, “ECMO. It’s time. Please can you come.” And she of course came.

For eight and a half agonizingly long days, we had a family member always by your side. We moved into the Ronald McDonald House so we were able to be together as a whole family in the same building. And we settled into the hospital life. A life where everyone suddenly knew we were Elle’s family- from room 25. The days and nights of ECMO were stressful at first, but we settled into an amazing routine with the nursing team, and felt like we weren’t alone in this journey. And baby girl, we were never alone. God sent His very own angels right there into your room day and night to look over you. They never left you. They made it possible for us to sleep. I know they were angels because they never seemed to tire, and they brought such encouragement to us- directly from Heaven- to pull us through.

But through all of your victorious recovery after ECMO and everything, my brain can’t really move past the night of the 17th. And I’m not really sure how I’ll be tomorrow night when the clock is about to strike 11. I’m hoping I can go to bed somewhat early and sleep right through it. But I relive those moments of hearing the alarm go off, the nurse coming in, flipping on the lights, and you being so pale that you were blue. Her screaming down the hall for help. The rush of staff. And then more. And more. Calling your Daddy numerous times and finally calling your Pappy to go downstairs and wake him up to come to the hospital. Calling Granny and PawPaw. Asking for the Chaplain. The resident coming out to talk to us and update us on how you were doing. And I kept seeing his Batman light and knowing Jacob was watching over you, and surely God had sent us this resident as a sign that He was with us…

Your tiny fingers. Your little nose. I tried to memorize them all as we stood with some of our dearest friends around your bed and had you baptised.

It’s true that the whole 43 days at the hospital changed me, sure. But that night. The night of April 17. It’s a night that I will relive probably for the rest of my life. I pray that one year, the memory will be so very faded that I’ll strain my brain trying to remember the sequence of events. But I doubt that will ever happen. And that’s ok. Because it shaped who I am as a person, and who I am as a mother.

I treasure every little thing that any of the three of you does or says. I do my best to live in the moment in a way I had never done before. Because I know that a night like April 17, 2018, can sneak up any time and threaten to steal any one of you away from me, and I refuse to be left without a full catalog of priceless memories. So here’s to cataloguing memories, and if you are a mom when you finally read this, I pray you learn from what I learned the hard way. Don’t miss a moment. Treasure every tiny finger and every tiny toe on every single one of your babies, and notice as they get longer. Memorize every laugh. Trace every smile onto the stone of your mind. And live- really, truly LIVE with your kids.

I love you so very much, my precious girl. More than words could ever express, I am thankful for you and I love you. Always. Sleep good tonight, my ElleBug. Sweet dreams.



Interested in reading Elle’s full story? Visit her CaringBridge site here.

Advent Books

Our Advent book box

This is going to be a fairly quick post- it’s 2:30am and I’m only awake because a certain sweet little guy woke up needing some snuggles and some cough meds. (Tis the season!)

But I wanted to answer some questions about our Advent books project! There are a couple of different ways to do this, and it’s all over Pinterest, I feel sure. But here’s what we do:

I sift through all of our Christmas themed books and pick out 24 favorites. Each year I make sure that each child has at least one (this year it’s two) brand new books in the stack. Christmas Eve always ends with Becca reading us “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Some certain books get wrapped every year- like the tiny Little Golden Book about a Christmas snowman that was mine as a kid, and the book Too Many Tamales, which is just one of my absolute favorites of all time. We also have to Take A Mouse To The Movies, and we have a favorite version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. I wrap each child’s books in their own pattern of paper (this year, I ran out of Gray’s paper, so he has two different patterns.) I also label each package with a sharpie and write the date in a LARGE “font” so that if the books get dropped, they can easily get put back into order!

We also do several other things for Advent. We have a felt Advent calendar whose pockets hide pieces of the nativity scene, and we add a piece each night, telling and retelling the story of Christ’s birth each night. This year, I added the Jesus Calling advent book to this, and on Becca’s nights, she reads us the next page in the book. We also have the Lego City Advent calendar, and a bowl of mini candy canes.

So the way I do this, is I plan the order of the books, and we begin with night one on our felt calendar being started by Becca pulling out the palm tree in Bethlehem and reading Jesus Calling. Then she opens day one of the advent calendar and builds the tiny toy. Gray then gets a mini candy cane to eat and opens book number 1! I read the book to both of them while he eats the candy cane, and then it’s off to bed! This occurs on all the odd nights. On the even nights, it flips and Gray does the felt Advent and Lego, and Becca gets the book and candy cane. Sometimes the book they open has a special significance with the felt character for the Advent story, but usually they are just fun Christmas books!

Another way I have heard to do this is to have a brand new book of any theme to open each night, and it’s a big gift of lots of new books at the end. I prefer the more frugal way of wrapping favorite books and making it a big fun surprise all over again! Talk about reinforcing a love of language and of reading!!

Happy Advent and happy reading!!

Remembering Rahab

She stood and looked out of her window. And she prayed. To a God she had only just heard of. She didn’t know why, but the men she had hidden had something about them that made them different. Maybe it was because they trusted HER. Maybe it was because her past didn’t seem to matter to them. Maybe it was because their God really was her God, too, and in His providence He had brought them to her door. Surely that must be it! This God they served had to be real. Only time would tell. Her family thought she was crazy. How could a scarlet cord as red as her sins hanging from their window possibly save their lives?  
Perhaps she had cousins who denied and did their own thing. Perhaps even her own parents and some of her own children did not even believe. We will never know.
And yet, she prayed. Despite what everyone thought of her, she stopped and stared out of her window and waited. The Israelites were coming. She could see them marching. In the distance, they looked like a thousand ants swarming. The people in the city were talking. Everyone knew they were coming. And Rahab knew everyone would be destroyed. The few friends she had. The family who didn’t trust her. Everyone. But the men had promised her and all in her house salvation. Because she displayed her sin. The scarlet cord flapped in the hot breeze… an ever present reminder of every sin- her very own “Scarlet Letter,” ages before the book would ever be written. Those sins would soon be gone. Her past would be merely a memory. If the men had been right.

She prayed they were right. She trusted their God to save her. And because of her faith, she played a vital role in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She, a prostitute. She, who was not a Jew. She, with all of her flaws, shares a place in His history with the likes of Naomi and Mother Mary. She is a perfect example of being set free from our stains. We are all human. And no matter what we have done, with simple faith, He waits to take that cord from our window and cleanse it in the sweet bleach of His death and resurrection. All we must do is ask Him to take our mountain of dirty laundry, and He’s there, to clean every spot. His death, and even more, His resurrection, takes my Mount Laundry and makes it no more; takes my scarlet cord and washes it white as snow.

Easter is coming!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!