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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ah, life! :)

So, our week didn't start off so well. Monday felt like a complete disaster to me. ;-) The boys weren't listening or focusing well, and I was very impatient and emotional. Not my finest hour. But we DID manage to get our school done (even though it literally took until supper time), and the high point of our day was going sledding with my dad to my sister's house and visiting with them for a bit. Such a nice reprieve from school!
Fast forward to today: SO much better. Like a million times better! I was calm, patient, loving, cheerful, and it made such a difference! I also decided to let the boys choose something fun that they wanted to study/create, instead of all the "boring" subjects I've been forcing on them. Haha! So Malachi originally wanted to build a solar system model, but instead decided on a miniature Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius that we could erupt when complete, using baking soda, vinegar and red food coloring. We spent the first 2 hours of our school day on this fun project! It was a first making paper mache with my boys, and if you could have seen the mess, I guarantee you would have cringed! LOL! My whole kitchen floor, island counter, and the boys were COVERED with paper mache. They had unfortunately had a bath first thing too! ;-) But I stayed calm despite the mess (which is SO not me; so I know it must have been God's doing) and we just enjoyed being together and creating. They changed clothes afterward and we got all the mess cleaned up.
Today Asher wasn't feeling the greatest (I think he's teething since he's been sucking on his fingers all day), and he was laying on the couch in a blanket. Jonah went over to him, held his head in his lap, and began praying over him, for Jesus to make him feel better and comfort him. It was the sweetest thing ever. I think my heart completely melted... Then after lunch, Malachi said "I think I want to read some books to Asher to cheer him up." So he took a large stack of books out and commenced to read them all to him. So precious! I love how my boys take initiative all on their own to care for their littlest brother. The ways our family has drawn closer together in this past month of homeschooling are almost too numerous to count. God is ALWAYS good and I want to shout it from the rooftops! I never imagined myself here at this point in my life, or that I would have taken on such a giant undertaking as this, but here I am. I couldn't do it without Jamie's support, hard work ethic, and doing Phys. Ed with the boys. Also, this wouldn't work at all if it wasn't for my mom. She is such a help on the days that I work. She is very thorough with what she teaches the boys and they learn so much from her!
I know I am TRULY blessed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Faith's Lodge

Late last summer, my Aunt Beth told me about this neat grief center she had heard about called Faith's Lodge. Ironically it was located only about 40 minutes away from us, but I had no idea it existed. I applied for us to go as a family to a weekend retreat, but it was filled up until January, which seemed forever away at the time. The next thing we knew, January was upon us. We set out on our trip to Faith's Lodge with some trepidation and apprehension, just not knowing what to expect. 

But it was just GORGEOUS up there. It's set back in the woods, down a winding driveway, up on a hill. It personifies the Northwoods, in every way, from the antler chandeliers, to the wooden log furniture, to the fireplaces in every room! Everything inside had a woodsy theme. We had a lovely room with two soft queen beds and a pull-out sleep number couch! Even our own fireplace! There was a sunny and spacious library with both children's and adult books. A large living room, dining room and amazing kitchen. Personal rooms both upstairs and down. The kids' favorite rooms were the craft room, playroom, tv room, and library. They had an amazing time with all the other kids whose families were also attending the weekend. Malachi was by far the oldest, but he didn't mind, and taught the younger children new games.

The first day there we had a facilitated group discussion with a social worker, up in the very top of Faith's Lodge, in a cozy room named Natalie's Nest, after a young girl who has passed on. Prior to this, Jamie and I had never attended any type of "grief group" or anything similar, but it was actually very healing. Each of the 5 families took turns telling their stories, and there were lots of tears, empathy and understanding. We also talked about grief, and our regrets, etc... I think I cried more listening to their stories then when I told ours, which surprised me.  :) 

We spent the whole time together as a family, getting to know the other families, and talking about the babies that we miss so much. It is healing to realize yet again that we are NOT alone, and that so many others go through the same heart-wrenching pain that we have. It was encouraging to find new friends that share our faith, (there was a lot of talk about heaven) and while the sadness and loss is very evident, they also weren't bitter. There were many God-things that happened; the neatest of which is that one of the moms who was there volunteers and heads up making knitted things, and special boxes. They are given to families that lose a baby, at the very same hospital that I was sent to after having Ezekiel! After comparing notes, we figured out that the stuff St. Mary's Hospital gave us for Ezekiel, including a cuddly teddy bear, was from Janelle, who lived for 8 years right by my grandparents! Such a small world... I love how God orchestrated that we would meet in person. I don't believe it happened by chance who came to Faith's Lodge this particular weekend. 

We made lots of special things in Samuel and Ezekiel's memory with the crafts they provided. Lots of painting of birdhouses, "love light" candle jars, heart rocks, stepping stones, and more. It was therapeutic in and of itself to just sit, paint, create and talk about our boys who are so loved and missed. It was healing for me. I needed it, to just bring myself back to that place, and be okay thinking about it, sharing my regrets and griefs, my fears, and struggles. Especially with how my grief from Ezekiel is so different than my grief over Samuel, and that it feels like it should be the same... that I'm somehow letting Ezekiel down. All I know is the peace I have been given is definitely from God! This weekend just shows me again His love for us, how He wants to bring us wholeness, but yet dependence upon Him, and not self-reliance. I honestly wouldn't want to be at any other place in my life right now. Reflecting on all that I have been through, I am so thankful to now be here, and feeling closer to Jesus than I ever have before.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Our week...

Our week has had its ups and downs... let me share a few of them with you! ;-)

On Monday, Malachi had a surgical dental consult 1 1/2 hours away. He has already had some dental surgeries and even thinking about the dentist upsets him. He had a very hard time focusing on his school work all morning... I actually didn't think he would finish. Especially since we had to be done early to leave for the appointment. 

Then, at the conclusion of Jonah's piano lesson, he fell off the bench and hit his chin on it. His teeth cut up the inside of his mouth and lip... blood everywhere! It was fairly traumatic. Poor little guy. After that, he didn't think he could hold a pencil and write, but once I managed to calm him down, he did all right.

It just wasn't a good morning in general. I found myself getting frustrated, but am proud to report that I didn't yell or completely lose my cool! 

On Wednesday with my mom, the boys didn't listen so well, and ended up getting X's for the day. Which means they now lose a weekend privilege. Also, Malachi colored beards, mustaches and EYEBROWS on his little brothers' faces (he gets that from his Daddy! Haha!) and they aren't washing off very well. I wasn't too happy to see their faces all marked up, and a bit embarrassed of how they looked since we were at church all night for Faith & Friends and youth group. ;-) 

But today, (Thursday) has been FABULOUS! I mean, absolutely wonderful! The boys have been so focused, and working through all their subjects with ease! I am encouraging Jonah to read more and more of his directions for problems instead of me reading them to him. He does so well! I  enjoy listening to him sound and figure out the words. Malachi now does his chores without asking, and I was just beaming watching Asher help him all on his own. Malachi was showing Asher where things go (i.e. small fork vs. big fork.)  
Now I'm listening to the sound of all 3 boys happily playing legos together. The change in how Jonah treats and talks to Asher really is huge. How God works never ceases to amaze me! I've had some deep and meaningful talks with them the past few weeks, and we all enjoy our devotions during breakfast. I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world!

Ice-fishing with Grandpa John!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

First week is done!

So, our first full week of homeschool has come and gone. My brain felt as if it were on an information overload by yesterday afternoon when we finished for the day. But it was a good feeling! I am now always thinking of how I can make things educational, or turn something into a teaching moment...

The boys said they enjoyed their week, especially being with each other, and with my mom and I more. There are definitely adjustments to be made... mostly with a new curriculum from what they are used to, and a few different concepts. We had some frustrating moments; which consisted of the boys feeding on each other's silliness and getting off task somewhat. Malachi and Jonah each had tears once when they didn't understand or want to do something, but we overcame that! I did get headaches for a few days though, I think from the stress of wanting to get all our school work completed, and that it be done well... 

Asher loves having his brothers around all the time now. He has his own school work, and really likes it. He joins us for most of the subjects we all do together. I can't believe he'll be 4 on May day. Our baby is growing up too fast!

My most favorite subject to teach is piano! I just love playing, and seeing how well the boys are picking it up. Malachi is especially skilled, probably because of his age, but also from a natural talent. Jonah is also doing quite good for just having turned 6!

I know I wouldn't trade the time I'm gaining back with my boys for anything. For the first time in years, I now feel like I am getting to know Malachi again. (This was his 6th year of public school.)

The most positive effect so far from this new and daunting venture is that Jonah's attitude towards Asher is much softer and gentler. From the time Asher was about 18 months, Jonah really started not liking him, and being rough with him when he took his toys, etc. It has been something we've really had to work on the past few years. Jonah had already been getting better about it, but now with doing lots more daily devotions, and talking about sin, and how we can choose to not be that way, Jonah has just been loving on Asher. He snuggles with him at night, talks in this super sweet voice to him, is letting him sit by him to eat (something he never did before), and they are playing together so nicely! I am thankful and overjoyed to see this change, and just love how God works!

I have also been extremely patient, and know that is a God-thing! 
No regrets about this week for sure!

Physical Education with Daddy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

We all survived the first day!

All joking aside, it was really a wonderful day when you consider that it is so new and different for all of us! I truly enjoyed teaching, and was surprisingly pleased with my level of patience! Haha!

Some subjects we covered today are: math, spelling, handwriting, english, reading, telling time, geography, history, science, piano lessons, flash cards, and last but not least, devotions and study of the Bible's origins. Also, a nature walk, snowball fight and a few laps being chased by one another since it was only -2 by this afternoon! 

My boys did well, and stayed on track. We even finished ahead of schedule! We did have a few breaks, and I think that helped as they got their energy and wrestling out of the way during those times! ;-) We also implemented a new chore schedule and that's going pretty well. They might be a little sick of it by the end of the week, but they'll just have to adapt!

I even got a few chores of my own done and snuck in some coffee and reading during their first morning break! I would say the most challenging things are having to teach all 3 at once and the different age levels. I really admire the olden-day school teachers that had a whole class ranging from about 5-15 year olds most likely!! Wow. I have even more respect for my mom who had TWICE as many kids as I do to homeschool! 

My boys are definitely boys and tend to get a bit silly and draw each other off track, but the reward/discipline system I'm implementing helped to rein them in! All in all, it was a successful first day and I loved watching my boys interact, and the fact that I was able to be with them the entire day! Asher and I definitely missed Malachi and Jonah when they used to be gone all day long.

Here are a few pictures of the boys schooling today... we have lots of different tables and couches to sit at, and it's kind of fun for them that they don't have to be at a desk.

And some pictures of our outdoors fun!

Snowball attack!


Seriously, a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who is praying for me and encouraging me! I feel more relaxed and confident after getting through the first day. I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!