jingle bells: week 20 prayers

LauraAll Posts

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Weigh in: 10.5 inches and 10.5 ounces of “solid baby-miracle goodness” (as one website put it)

Big picks this week: bones continue to ossify and strengthen, finger and toe pads are finishing up. The limbs have reached their relative proportions, the eyelashes and eyelids are visible… the baby is really looking like one of us (at one eighth of its birth weight). So, although we are half-way there, most of the “significant gains are yet to come!” (this is one web site’s positive spin on what will happen in both of our bodies over the next 20 weeks…)

Please pray about our doctor’s appointment on Tuesday morning: the big ultrasound that will check the baby, and my body’s maintenance of the pregnancy. We’re anticipating very good news! Please hope for good news with us.

Also, lately, I’ve been struck by the importance of our heart’s choice to worship God alone; I greatly desire that all of our children worship Him, and walk away from the world’s emptiness. The verse that burns in my heart for all of our children is, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21, including the passionate context). I know that God can begin crafting whole-hearted God-love even when a child is in the womb; please join me in praying this blessing for our little baby!

learning simple multiplication while coping with grief

LauraAll Posts

Ah, parenting. Isn’t it so nice to bask in a good lesson that you invent in a tight moment; your child absorbs the lesson and beams up at you with gratitude just for taking the time to teach her so well? …Until, of course, time passes and suddenly that lesson backfires.

The basking: When we are coloring and a long, slender, usually-naked crayon snaps in half, we smile at each other and say, “Now we have TWO!” instead of wallowing in the grief of the breakage itself. Glorious lesson, Teacher Laura! Multiplication and coping mechanisms! Genius!

The backfire: this approach is more complicated than I originally intended. Although Viv is thrilled with it, I’m tiring of it as it has *inspired* the break-down of most of our crayons. “Double the number of crayons!” you may exclaim with a smile (as does V), but Laura-the-school-supply-lover is longing for half the number of fresh long, clothed crayons with perfectly pointed tips. Of course, Laura-the-newly-faithful-steward cannot possibly justify buying a new box of crayons when we already have so many (remember, a cheery “double the number”!).

The battle-plan: In the works, is my next genius parenting lesson that somehow convinces Viv to color for hours on end (every day) until we wear those crayons down into little nubbins. THEN, we can justify the purchase of a fresh box.

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being home

LauraAll Posts

This is my first year without out-of-our-home work and I am loving it. I love the changes that have had to occur in my accomplishment-addicted mind and in my definition of “worth.” I love that all of my time and energy flows into one man and two little children. And I love these people; I enjoy their company; one of my greatest goals is that they enjoy mine as well. I love that I can confidently enjoy the restful fact that one of my biggest responsibilities is loving these few people well. It just feels so deeply good.

I was thinking about how I could ever encourage other young women that taking care of our homes really can be a source of joy and contentment. I was thinking about how most women in my generation don’t even consider this option for various reasons.

As new studies reveal that day-care programs (and even preschools) can be, in fact, socially and educationally detrimental to children, I hope that increasingly more families choose for mothers to care for children at home (don’t worry, I’ll link up to the studies ASAP). One of the most pressing reasons for day-care is a lifestyle that demands two incomes per family. Sometimes, there aren’t many other options for a family. Most times though, there are many ways to rearrange our lifestyles in order to survive on one income. But it’s very difficult to make drastic changes once one is 30-something; by then, we already have the career path, the mindset, the habits, the goals, and all the stuff to go with it.

How helpful it would be to think through these things years ahead of time when one is just beginning to establish her own lifestyle. Sadly, placing our children in day-care can happen as early as accepting a steep college (or other type of) loan. Although an 18 year-old student might not even imagine having children, she might be making decisions that affect them. A college loan can turn into a demanding – and necessary, – job in order to justify/ pay off the loan, which can turn into a materialistic lifestyle, which can turn into bigger things (“debt”), which can turn into maintenance, insurance, addictions, and stress… all by the age of 30! By the time a little one comes along, day-care seems necessary. Even though it is not. Freedom from “we have no other choice” might just be a smaller house, a used car, 15-fewer outfits, and a modified monthly budget away. Hard, but praise-worthy, work. Most young people could choose this freedom from the beginning, with a little encouragement and counter-cultural living.

One of the most helpful resources for our family regarding financial freedom – which results in my opportunity to care for our family at home – has been Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Through this course, we learned how to get out of debt, save for the immediate and distant future, invest, and give generously. The information and action steps are simple enough for a non-financially-passionate mind like mine to understand and do (and even enjoy!).

Of course, another amazing God-given gift has been my husband’s divine (I’m not kidding) understanding of money… from generosity to debt-free living, this guy just seems to have a chunk of God’s heart on the matter. Things really changed in our home when I finally surrendered my unwieldy financial perceptions to simply follow Ryan’s financial wisdom “to the T.” (After a few years of wanting God to give Ryan a “godly passion” like working in an orphanage or leading Jr. High church retreats, I finally saw that God had given him a very godly passion… in stewarding money wisely. I realized that if I dragged my heels to follow him, we’d both miss out!)

teach ’em how to get home

LauraAll Posts

Vivienne quickly learned her full name, address, and phone number through playing “Doctor’s Office.”  When “the patient” (played by Vivienne herself) comes into the office, “the nurse” (played by me) uses a notebook to record all of her information in “her file.”  Then as I check her heart, lungs, throat, eyes, and nose, I sketch each body part and write my “professional assessment” next to it.  Viv could play this for hours and loves giving me all of the information as she anticipates having her “broken leg” wrapped up in a bandage or taking a dose of vitamin C for her “nasty cough.”

We also made an “All About Vivienne” book with pictures of our family, home, etc.  One of the pages reads “This is our house.  Our address is…” Another page reads “My phone number is…” After reading that book a couple of times, she could recite the pages herself!

And, of course, it always helps to fit any address or phone number into a little jingle!

A Little V quote (these are always dedicated with love to the grandparents!)

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Tonight, we were eating pizza at a little place in Boalsburg. Viv spotted a slot machine on the floor; the buttons and levers were at just the right height for her and it wasn’t plugged in, so we let her play with it while we finished our dinner. When I knelt down to find out what she was playing, she held her cupped hands out to me (naturally, she was holding her imaginary kitten whose name is usually Ali) and said, “Here’s my kitten, I just baked her in the oven!” Then she promptly took the kitten back, placed her back in “the oven,” poked some buttons, pulled some levers, made a “ding!” and “pulled her out” again. Cupped hands extended, she generously offered, “Here she is again!” (WHO IS THIS CHILD’S MOTHER?!)

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So far so…

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My thoughts after three weeks of homeschooling my spunky 2-year old:

*  A 2-year old can be a fantastic learner, but is not a young adult (‘learned that on day 1).

*  What I do today will influence the tone of our home as that 2-year old grows into that young adult

*  That’s why I have to default to JOY JOY JOY no matter what.

* And since JOY is a fruit of the Spirit, He’s the inspiration of our days.

* And He gets first say about each activity in our curriculum book, calendar, or else where.

* The “school day,” therefore, has quickly morphed from a strict block of “SCHOOL TIME: FROM 10 – 12 EVERY DAY!” (I promise, I was not going to install an automated bell-system, although those who know me – including my former students – know that I’m a sucker for a classroom full of rosy-faced, hand-folded enthusiastic learners. Perhaps its a rebirth of my mom’s teaching days in the Catholic school system or my own idyllic imaginings of the one-room school house. Regardless, I have to make a conscious decision every day not to assume that everybody loves to sit down and read the Classics while working through an in-depth study guide.) As I was saying, my original strict-scheduled plan has transformed into days full (or half-full, anyway) of learning activities that usually relate to the day’s themes and contain a similar structure, but are much more fun and much more… age-appropriate.

* In other words, I calmed down about the whole thing and both Vivienne and I are having a wonderful time together, learning and playing and waiting for daddy to come home.

Helping a baby to love books

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My mom passed along the idea of reading during Vivienne’s meals as soon as she was sitting up in her little booster chair at a couple months old. By the time Viv could munch on some finger food, she was listening attentively to several books and nursery rhymes; now, at age 2, she loves to read at the table or snuggled up on the couch.  I read during most breakfasts and lunches; we’ve reserved dinner time as our family’s chance to talk to each other and catch up on the day.  I hope that this tradition continues and we enjoy many lunchtimes of reading to each other and discussing our stories.

I’m going to bed at 8:30 tonight…

LauraAll Posts

* because I woke up super early, mostly in a panic that my intended-for-humor comment on a friend’s blog might have been misunderstood. I don’t know why it took me 24 hours post-comment to realize that my solution to her morning sickness (especially the nausea she feels at the scent of her toddler’s hair) could be offensive, questionable, and insensitive. At the time, I thought that shaving her toddler’s hair would be a perfectly acceptable and humorous suggestion. After all, I reasoned, the little girl would fit in with other bald toddlers and would save her mother tons of money in de-tangle spray. (Besides, I couldn’t add one more comment about saltines to her list.) Nevertheless, I promptly deleted my comment upon waking.

* because I mutilated a friend’s amazing offer to watch Vivienne tomorrow by asking if she’d vacuum my basement instead. Nothing could make me so shamelessly obsessed with my unvacuumed basement as the midwife who told me that I can’t vacuum carpets for the time being. (Don’t worry, I called my friend and took back my vacuum-request.)

* because both V and I are trying to stop biting our nails, but when she woke up from her nap, Viv confessed, “I was nibbling my nails just like a bunny!” (Which just made me worry that she is hanging out with nail-nibbling bunnies, which we all know are up to no good.)

* because the sign at WalMart reading “38 cents” on the barrel of massive gourds meant “38 cents per pound,” which I did not find out until I lugged four of the toddler-sized squash to the register. “Oh,” I mumbled… “I thought it was too good to be true.” So much for $1.52 mantel decoration. (And so much for not lifting toddlers these days.)

* because when we were driving home from WalMart, V’s voice broke through my daze, “Are you biting your nails, Mommy?!”

* because Vivienne is going through a “dance your pants off” stage (for real) and we just happened to have gone to Baby’s (a 60’s diner) for dinner. The juke-box music inspired her greatly and she was shake, rattle, and rolling through the entire meal… including the post-dinner Bazooka bubble gum course. When the restaurant was suddenly transforming into her personal playground, it was time to leave. Just as we were preparing to leave, V decided to run — shriekingly — to the opposite side of the restaurant, which really is out of character but was disastrous nonetheless. As I firmly — but *ever-so-lovingly* — took hold of V’s arm, I looked at the waitress and mumbled, “I can’t believe that the child doing that is mine…”

* because when I took Viv to the Baby’s bathroom and asked, “What has gotten into you?” She sparkled up at me, “BUBBLEGUM!”

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our personal Mary Poppins

LauraAll Posts

Vivienne is in love with Mary Poppins. So much so, that her medical advice is straight from the movie…

Case in point: Last night, Ryan was suffering through one of his allergy sneezing spells. V waited patiently for him to tuck her into bed as he sneezed and sneezed and sneezed… Amongst Ryan’s hearty ACHOO’s, I heard a sweet little voice suggest, “You could always laugh instead!”

…I’m sure he wishes he could…

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