A notable change

Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing two things consistently every morning. I read the daily office and the Forward Movement’s Forward Day by Day meditation (they have an app for that so I’m not constantly hunting for the little book) and I read the Bible in one year reading plan at She Reads Truth. During Lent, I’ve added a couple of different devotionals: Lent is Not Rocket Science; Holy Habits: For the Holy Season of Lent, and 40 Things to Give up for Lent and Beyond. I mostly manage to read these all before or during breakfast and it works for me. I didn’t realize the total change it was making in me, though, until today.

You see, today was hectic. We had our bi-weekly service project that we do with the Men’s Ministry at our church. Last spring, I asked if there were jobs that the kids could do and I was told that they could try, now they are a significant part of the team. But to do this, we have to leave the house rather early and given certain people’s ability to sleep in (mine), especially when I spent a good portion of the night with Katie sleeping on me, it wasn’t possible to read before we left. When we got there, we realized that the job we were doing was going to be quite a bit larger than usual and we were there for a lot longer than planned.

When we got home, after a stop at Steak and Shake because the kids worked super hard and because the thought of trying to make lunch actually terrified me in that moment, we were in a whirlwind of homeschool stuff and then blessed quiet time. Except that during quiet time I was trying to deal with things that need to be dealt with before we go on a field trip tomorrow followed by me teaching a children’s lesson during our Wednesday night program at church. So, no the reading didn’t get done then either.

After P came home, it was dinner: biscuits, brisket, and broccoli — one of Ben’s favorite meals (partially the alliteration, partially all his favorite foods on one plate). And then it was on to working on a paper for my paying job. It took longer than planned (they always do) and then it was bedtime and story time.

Once my little people were tucked into bed, then it was time to crank out the stuff for the church newsletter. This involves editing, hunting down photos and other such fun tasks, so I can hand it all off to the person who doesn’t use a Mac and who does all this spiffy stuff in Microsoft Publisher. So, again, no reading for me.

Once I finished all of that I realized that my edges seemed sharper today. I was more emotional and more easily upset. I sat down a bit ago and did the reading that I hadn’t done this morning and I noted a significant change in attitude just from reading. I feel calmer. I feel more at peace and more connected with the world and more forgiving.

I hesitate to call it intentional time with the Lord because, well, I feel like I’m making more of what I do than it is, but on the other hand, that’s my time to seek to understand and to pray and to make requests. I pray at other times, too, but I think the daily action has spawned something I didn’t anticipate.

“God Sighting”

Every year in VBS, the kids are told to pay attention to the things going on around them and to look for what the curriculum we use calls “God sightings” — moments where you can see God’s hand moving in your life or someone else’s life or in the world. I had an experience this week that could have been the work of no other but God.

It all started with a drawing that Ben made back in November to put on our Christmas tree this year. He drew a cross with heart imposed right at the cross’s center. He said it represented his heart for God and his understanding that Christmas is about the cross as well as a birth (um, have I mentioned that I am raising two very serious little Episcopalians — my daughter had a fit when we used something other than the BCP to pray over Sam after she died, and pitched a tantrum of rather epic proportions when we tried out a grace at dinner not from the BCP). Sure hope the Episcopal church hurries up and writes the blessing for the loss of pets.

Anyway, fast forward to the day after Christmas and Dayspring’s annual sale. I’m not sure what made me go take a look because I had just received a beautiful Kelly Rae Roberts’ cross that I love, but I went to look and found this. Of course, I ordered it immediately. When it came, I knew I was going to order another one for Ben the next time they had a sale because it isn’t super girly, but not overly masculine and it perfectly captures his art and his heart.

Last week, I finally found a sale on it that made me feel comfortable and I ordered it for him. At the same time, I ordered initial tags: one for him and one for his sister. They both like the fact that I wear their names on my necklace every day and asked if they could have an initial with their crosses when they got them (Katie got hers when my new one came in). All of this arrived on Wednesday.

When I opened the box with the cross in it, my breath caught in my throat and I immediately started to cry. See, I have been praying since Sam died that I would get a sign, something that I could understand, that she was happy; she was okay. I’ve worried that I should have done something more than I did the night she died, and I wanted some reassurance that she was okay. She’s come to some other folks in their dreams, but not to me. Anyway, in the box was the cross with an “s” initial tag on it.

I could not believe what I was seeing at first, but then I recognized it for what I believe it is, God providing me with a tangible sign that Sam is with Him and okay.

Of course I contacted Dayspring to see what they wanted me to do about it and they explained that it had been a return that was put back into stock by “mistake” and that I didn’t need to worry about returning it. At this point, I told them the story I’m telling you and they agreed, God put this in my path. The “s” is now on my chain with my cross, my kids’ tags, and the pearl I wear for P. I feel calmer and I feel more at peace than I have since she died.

Who knew that God would use a FedEx truck to deliver a sign?

Katie’s Neuro Follow Up 2014 edition

Every year around this time, Katie goes to see “her Dr. T” to see how she’s doing and how she’s progressing. There were a few phone calls back and forth to set up this visit because no one was sure what Dr. T actually wanted to do this year. He decided that he would check her head and then decide, so we made the appointment in November and then waited patiently for the end of January. Her appointment was Tuesday.

On Sunday Katie lost her second tooth in five days, so she asked the tooth fairy to leave her tooth so that Dr. T could see it. Tooth, being a gracious soul, left it for her to show him. On Monday, Katie made a list of things that she wants to do that her father and I cannot agree on (Dr. T has graciously served as mediator as Katie has been growing and wanting to explore more and more things). This year, her list was written partially by her and partially by me (I wrote the letters she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of yet). This year’s list: riding a two-wheeled scooter; no training wheels, ride a horse, and downward dogs in yoga. I brought along some information on a class I’m interested in letting her take assuming she’s interested.

We were early for our appointment, which worked out well for us because Dr. T was running ahead too. I know, I know; doctors never do, but somehow, Dr. T is always on time and he is extremely forgiving when you get hung up somewhere in the hospital that isn’t as, um, efficient as he is. They did her height, weight, and head circumference. All normal stuff and as usual, Katie is near the bottom of the growth chart, but her head measures normal for her size. Praise God for that.

Katie was her happy, chatty self and completely enthusiastic about her visit. She was honest to God excited about seeing Dr. T. Given that she used to scream at the sight of his PA and was terrified of every person in scrubs she saw, this is amazing and awe inspiring. Dr. T came in and she was so happy to see him and he just goes with it. He got to feeling her head and he was pleased and not pleased. She now has bone everywhere but on the right side. We are rapidly approaching a crossroad, and he did think for a minute before he decided that was going to give her one more year to grow the bone on the right side. He didn’t think she could grow the bone she has so far, so we will continue to pray that God will make those little bones grow and she will get to do all the things on her list.

He did say, you could just use your common sense. I said, yes, well, one of us (pointing at P) wants to wrap her in bubble wrap; the other one of us wants  to let her try things within reason. He said, do you say no? I said, sure, I’ve said no to acro (which her hero Bri does and she wants to try), and he said, okay, so we’re going to let Mom decide for the next year when Dad wants to reach for the bubble wrap, mom has the deciding vote. He also said that next year we will have to move if she hasn’t grown the bone. This is a faith journey — big time. She is a permanent resident of the prayer list at our church and I would respectfully ask that if your church or religious group has a prayer chain or prayer list, please add her to the list. God can do big things and I’m praying that He will do one more big thing for Katie. If He doesn’t, then I believe it means that this blog is serving a larger purpose.

Sitting in my closet right now is a two-wheeled scooter (pink and purple with Tinkerbell on it). She has asked twice already when she’s going to get her scooter, and that will likely happen tomorrow. So we will watch, wait, and pray.

We Are in Pain

We are in pain today. Sam has had a rough 24 hours culminating in barfing up large amounts of mucus tinged with blood. We know this may be the end of a very long road for Sam. I claim I’m prepared; I claim I understand, but really, I don’t. I want her to keep going. I want her to be okay. I want her to go peacefully in her sleep rather than in a blur of confusion and pain. I am not okay with this. Not with one bit of it. And I have cried this morning. I fought tears when I talked to her vet, and I think he was fighting them too when he said, really, there’s nothing we can do for her at this point. We need to give her a bit, maybe through the weekend, and see how she is. I am afraid. I don’t want to lose her this way. Though why I think there’s a good way to lose her, I don’t know. I guess I just did.

P and I had plans this weekend, but now they are up in the air depending on Sam. As much as I love both of our families? I am not spending hours with any of them if this is truly Sam’s last weekend. She deserves our time and our attention. I know, we didn’t get to see anyone over Christmas; I understand that, but you know what? Sam is always there for us when we need her. If she needs us, then she gets us. End stop.

My heart is breaking because I can see she doesn’t know what to make of this newest development and she’s not sure what to do or how to cope with it. Peyton is running around looking panicked, which makes me think this may really be the real end (shamelessly stolen from Tim McGraw; I’ll give it back if she turns around. I promise).

The thing with Sam is in the last year, she’s had three very close calls. We’ve had two appointments scheduled to put her down and ended up canceling them because she rebounded and was back to herself. I don’t know how many more times she can go down and pull back up, but maybe she has one or two more in her. The thing is she has a pattern, and I’ve learned I have to let the whole thing play out to make a fair decision, otherwise I will spend the rest of what I imagine will be a long life second guessing whether it was really time or not. I know myself. No matter how many people tell me I will not regret putting her down too early, I don’t think that will happen for me. I think I will regret the missed time and the missed affection, such as it is from Sam.

We talk all the time about how much easier it is for pets because we can make this decision for them and we don’t have to let them suffer. Some even wish for this power for their loved ones. Being one with a dog who refuses to give a definitive sign of anything, I can say I am glad I don’t have that decision making power. The agony of trying to do the right thing for Sam would be magnified by 10,000 if I was trying to make the same decision for a loved one. At least, I imagine it would be.

So, for those of you who have made the decision for your beloved pet, how did you know it was time? What made you turn that corner and say, s/he isn’t happy anymore and it is time to let him/her go?

This Year’s Plans

As my husband of almost 20 (!!) years will tell you, the beginning of the year can be a little scary if you live with me. I am full of ideas, plans, and things I want to do. I make lists, I join classes, I find lots of ways to try to make our lives more meaningful and more fulfilling. And then, I lose track of all those projects and I fall off the wagon and I end up sitting there on December 31st trying to figure out what happened. But not this year.

What makes me think this year will be different? Well, for starters I have a planner that I adore that makes me think about my choices more concretely and helps me to plan and organize in a fashion that is more suited to my style (read, I can ramble on a bit and it doesn’t seem to matter given that it is paper). I’m using personal sized Life is Crafted pages from here. What I like about these is the review aspects of the monthly pages and the other pages that give me a place to put the books I read and the movies I see and so forth.

One of my goals is to write more. Thanks to a random mention on Twitter, I discovered the Magic Spreadsheet. More importantly, because I’m not quite at a point where I want the world to see how many words I write in a day, I found a personalized one that I can use for myself and only myself. I am using it and it is helping me to be aware of how much I am writing.

Right now, I’m writing in word, but I finally made the decision to commit to Scrivener this year and I can’t wait to get started with it. I’m hoping to produce some more academically focused articles this year, and I think this a tool that can help me do that.

As for the other things that I’m doing, well, I joined Ali Edwards’ One Little Word class and Cathy Zielske’s Move More, Eat Well Jumpstart at Big Picture Classes. I’m not expecting miracles from the latter, but a bit more consciousness on my part simply won’t hurt anything. I’m starting a year long cross-stitch project in a few days (Once Upon a Time Sampler, some scripture memory work from A Holy Experience, and some other things designed to help me find and focus on the goals that I need to pursue to fulfill the person I am supposed to be. I’m also continuing with Digital Project Life. I truly love doing this project and I think we learn so much from what we used to do and who we used to be even one year ago. I may suck at scrapbooking in a traditional manner, but put me in front of Photoshop and watch out.

Finally, I am tackling the house. Anyone who knows me knows that my house is something of a terror zone. So I’m working on decluttering and clearing, and making space for us all to breathe. We’re going to tackle some small projects along the way to try to make things more workable while we decide whether this house is still a fit for us or if we need to do something different. Only time will tell.

So . . .

how did it go? Those of you who know me on Facebook or in real life, know that today was Katie’s big neuro follow up for the year. They check for bone growth, assess for interventions, etc.

So, the good news we got there on time and even though P forgot which building they’re in now, we still made it with plenty of time to spare.

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As attested to by the fact that Katie had an opportunity to check out Dr. T’s cool toys.

Our favorite PA was not there (good from Katie’s perspective), and she did step on the scale, allow them to measure her height, and measure her head. We made the nurse-practitioner promise that she would never tell the PA how easy a time Katie gave her.

Dr. T came in. He wooged her head. He’s pleased with the top. It’s clearly filling in and she’s not in any danger from that area anymore. Then he felt the sides. And that’s where the good news stopped flowing. She has no significant bone growth on either side. At all. We are now three years out from the surgery and she is now in the very bottom percentile. At this point, something like 90% of kids are showing some growth, so none is serious setback. At this point, all we can do is pray and hope that God’s time coincides with Dr. T’s time so that by this time next year she *is* showing enough growth to delay intervention. He swears he won’t have to shave her head and that the process is not nearly so invasive, BUT it is a series of procedures and we’re hoping to avoid having her go through more procedures.

There is more good news, though. Katie, after some whispering, managed to ask her important questions.

Katie: Can I ride a scooter with a helmet?

Dr. T: And wrist guards, yes. (Turns out Dr. T’s son broke his wrist on a scooter, thus the wrist guard requirement)

Katie: Can I play soccer?

Dr. T: With other kids your age, yes.

Katie: Can I go to Sunday school?

Dr. T: Yes, as long as we tell them not to use ice picks on your head (I would like to know what church he goes to)

Katie: Can I play on the big kid side at the Y play center? (This required visuals acquired thanks to a good friend who was there last night and texted them to me)

Dr. T: (studies the pictures for a minute) Yes. It’s all padded, she’ll be fine.

Basically, the only thing he wants her to avoid, aside from ice picks, is tumbling. Just on principle. The top is healed enough now that if she takes a hit to the top we should not wig out any more than we would if Ben hit the top of his head. He said at this point, and with where the bones aren’t growing it would take a freak accident, with a pointy object (hence the ice pick comment), to cause her serious damage. We’re to use our common sense and let her be a “normal” four year old girl.

He thinks her balance and coordination seem a bit better (thank you, Judy’s Dance Academy). Her sensitivity to textures and sounds and such are in the “normal” range for kids with her condition, so he doesn’t feel intervention is necessary. He did comment that she is very small for her age, so that is something on our side. One good growth spurt could start the process of bone growth on the side.

And he’ll see us next year.

All of this is to say, if you had Katie on a prayer chain, please keep her on it. If you didn’t have her on a prayer chain, please feel free to add her. This will all happen in God’s timing, and I hope that I can be patient and remember that through the coming year.

Homeschool Mother’s Journal — 1/25/13

Rough week in this house. Just saying.

  • In my life this week… I had another uncomfortable end of life conversation with our vet, but emerged victorious with pain meds. I also had a lovely chat with the woman who runs the crematorium we’re going to use for her. Ben’s issues are back in full force and that pretty much threw everything else out the window.
  • In our homeschool this week… We read about the Phoenicians in Story of the World. Ben worked on the final review in Life of Fred: Farming. He still has five problems to go, so his break from math is going to be shorter than expected. We have all the necessary pieces for his science fair project, but now have to figure out how to convince him to write it up and make it what it is supposed to be. We watched the Inauguration. Ben was particularly interested in the oath after we did the the lesson on being truthful in Telling God’s Story. There’s a section in there about taking oaths, so that the president takes an oath took on new significance for him.
  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… Keep reminding yourself that at seven, no one is expecting cold fusion or a complete mastery of ancient history. Does he know anything at all? I think that’s the question.
  • I am inspired byHeather
  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We went to Orlando on Saturday and saw a good friend we haven’t seen since we picked up Peyton. This was her first time meeting the kids. The kids convinced P to ride the elevator which turned out to be a super-express. Ben likened it to riding Cheetah Hunt (P hates roller coasters). I think the kids were okay. Otherwise, we went to dance. This was a stick close to home week due to the issues Ben is having.
  • My favorite thing this week was… the new devotional I found. It’s called Day by Day Devotions by Karyn Henley. This was our first week using it and the theme was “Now and Always” — verse: I will never leave you Hebrews 13:5
  • What’s working/not working for us… Right now we’re blessed that we’re relaxed homeschoolers. I made a schedule, but Ben’s issues blew that right off the map this week. We’ll get it together and be a tad further behind on writing than I’d like. We’ll survive. I’m so grateful for the iPad app Hay Day — we’re able to use that as an incentive to help him focus and that’s been working wonders.
  • Questions/thoughts I have… One of the things I really have to work on is not stressing out when things get crazy. I get so overwhelmed and I need to be more focused and calmer. I have some plans to work on that. I’m also reading and absorbing Lori Pickert’s posts on project learning for adults.
  • Things I’m working on… I’m doing a lot of grading. My adjunct work has kicked in and I’m busier than I was for the last ten weeks or so.
  • I’m reading… Your Seven Year Old and Your Four Year Old by Louise Ames.
  • I’m cooking… not much. But I’m sure bookmarking recipes at Weelicious.
  • I’m grateful for… I am so very, very grateful for good friends who have served as good counsel during this crisis with Ben. My church.
  • I’m praying for… healing for Ben and a great report from Dr. T on Tuesday for Katie. Extra, extra doses of patience for me wouldn’t hurt either.
  • A photo, video, link, or quote to share…This is Ben working on his math problems. Yes, he counts on his fingers, but he doesn’t need to. He’s just not quite confident enough yet.
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If you want to see what’s happening at other homeschool’s this week, head over to iHomeschoolNetwork to check them out.