Friday, February 26, 2010

Savoring Each Moment

I have found myself giving advice to younger moms lately and realizing I am becoming a "seasoned" mom to those who have young ones. I so cherish those friendships and remember how the moms God placed in my life when I had tiny ones always blessed me. I want to be the same for them yet it is funny how I don't feel that seasoned. :) When I have my friends with younger children over, it brings it right back. I love certain stages so much...well, actually there is only one stage I did not enjoy with my girls but God made them so cute during that time that I would so do it again. :) (the 3's were tough in our house) Regardless, I look at my girls at 12 and 9 and realize we are at a very calm phase right now. I have a friend who calls these years the "eye of the hurricane" because we are not in the chaos of the twos or teen years. I understand fully. So I love living in the eye of the hurricane but I also want to make sure these moms understand to savor each moment right were God has placed them.

When you are wiping up messes for the twentieth time today, remember that God always cleans up our messes without complaining. When we are doing laundry load after laundry load, thank God you are able to have a variety of clothes and are not like the homeless man or woman downtown with only what they have on their back. When you are preparing yet another peanut butter and jelly lunch, thank God that you get to eat with your children on a regular basis and are not sitting through another meeting with your boss. When you start to whine about not having any time for yourself, that is when I want us all to remember there are women who can not give birth, carry a child or afford to adopt a baby who would willingly sacrifice their every moment to serve a baby with love. Ladies, it is all in how we think. If we think we are being taken for granted, we will be. If we think we are not appreciated, we won't be. If we think our kids are a handful, they will be. If we think it is a blessing and honor to be chosen mother of the children in our care, it will be. If we think we are blessed to have the opportunity to be at home, caring after the home and kids, it will be. So today, soak up those moments with the littles because it does pass quickly...I know, I sound old now!:) It is so true though.

I remember like it was yesterday holding that baby girl in my arms for the first time. I never dreamt at that time that I would be standing eye to eye with her and in awe of the young woman God has grown her to become. However, I also get to stand in awe of the fact that I have been blessed to be right by her side for the entire journey to get to where she is today. Don't wish away the moments just to get time alone....savor each loud, messy, crazy day and know the quiet days will come and then you will be wanting to hear those giggles once more. Go play with your kids and let the laundry wait! It's a good thing. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pieces on the Floor

This morning was a time of testing for me. As I was entering my daughter's spelling words into the program we use online,, she was standing next to me. We were talking and having a laugh when she stepped back to lean on the wall for a moment. As she did, she knocked off the Romanian decorative plate we have hanging on our wall. It was a gift from our girls from Romania. Above it is the other gift I have from them, an embroidared picture V. made me years ago. These two items are not worth more than my girls broken heart. She cried so hard and thought I was going to get mad. Instead, I had to breathe. I kept telling myself how to reply as I calmly got up from the computer and cleaned up.

"People are more important than things. It is just a plate, it's not the girls. The memory is more important. I can always replace it, not her. :) I am an adult. I am the mom. Do not let her see you get teary. Be strong. Let her know you love her more than that plate. Hug her....not so tight! Ha!"
While I jest with some of the things above, some of them are true thoughts that went through my head. You see, I am fully aware this plate does not hold any value besides the value I place on it. It can be replaced and my daughter needed to be restored right then. So, suck it up, Mom and be the Mom your daughter needs. Hug her, clean it up with her and reconfirm to her that always, always, always, she is more important than any THING in this house. Now, that little lesson was lovely but I must say, a part of me would have preferred to have learned it without losing that plate...but then it would not have been such a sacrifice would it?! Oh, now that reminds me of another lesson, but that is for another day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways...

Today is such special day in our house....Matt's birthday! We love birthdays around here. We try to make breakfast in bed for the birthday recipient and they get to decide the dinner menu as well. We also have some sweet new traditions, which one is blogging about the special birthday guy or gal. While I usually list things I adore about the birthday child according to their age, I think we will bypass that tradition for the adults in our life and just write our top ten favorites. So today, I get to write about my man. Oh boy,how will I ever decide all the ways I love this man or things I love about him?! Let me count the ways.....

1. I adore how this man thinks! He is able to see things in the midst of chaos and it just calms me down.

2. I love his heart for our girls both the ones in our home and the ones far from home.

Daddy and Bean walking hand in sweet!

3. I adore how he serves his family.

4. Matt can make a tree laugh! His sense of humor is one of the first things that attracted me to him.

During one of his "projects" he still makes me giggle!

5. I love his servant's heart for not only his family but anyone who needs help. He will drop what he is doing and help out in a heartbeat without thinking.

6. I personally love how he provides for his family and how hard he works to make sure we are able to have all the special memories we have had together.

7. I love to travel with this man...he is just fun and he gets me to try things I never would do on my own.

8. Watching him hold his baby girls the first time melted my heart in a way that you can't explain, however, seeing how protective he has grown of them over the years, is just as sweet to me.

Daddy and Doodle looking way too cute!

9. I love how generous he is with all of his time, talents and treasures. He truly would give you the shirt off his back.

10. Most of all, I love this man's passion for Christ and his deep desire to continue to grow into the man God desires him to become. He strives for that every day and while he may not see it, I am fully aware that he has grown abundantly in the 18+ years we have been together. What a joy to watch God stretch and grow this man.

I am thankful for all Matt does for us everyday, but today, on his birthday, I am thankful God blessed me with the joy of walking through life with this precious man. I can't even grasp where God may take him next, but I am so happy to know that I will be right by his side all the way.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tough Lessons

We have been blessed this past year with having two computers as we bought Matt a laptop for his work with the state board. When he does not use it for the board, he leaves it at home which has been such a blessing for school work. The girls do more and more of their work on the computer and it makes it so much nicer to have two available. With that extra freedom has come the gift of both girls earning their computer time simultaneously as well. We do not let them have free reign on the computer by all means, but there are a couple little games they play with friends and they check their email.

I am one of those control freak moms who was not ready for email. When we found, I was in heaven. This allowed my girls to have email that I set for them. The parent sets the boundaries for the child's email account. For example, Doodle can email grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, her teachers from co-op and friends we have approved. However, Bean is only 9, she can only send email to grandparents and cousins at this point. Every email they receive or send, I receive a copy in my email box which allows me to stay on top of what is being said if needed. Regardless, there is protection there. I love it!

With that in mind, the lesson we just learned Friday has me still shaking my head! We have allowed the girls to play this little horse game and another virtual pet game. They seem very harmless. What I did not think of was the temptation these little games would put on my girls. One of the girls was on the computer Friday when she noticed her sister had new "friends". She started asking me who they were. When I finally realized what she was truly asking, I looked at the game site and realized my child had allowed strangers to be her friend. Not just strangers...grown men and women! AHHHH!!! We had talked about this exact issue. We have explained why you don't do that and what can happen. Once my heart rate lowered, I asked the child in question, what would make you think it is OK to do that? She replied, " Well, I saw this thing I wanted for my pet and the only way to get it was to have more friends. So I joined a "club" to get more friends."
Did you catch that? GREED!!! My heart sank. I had not thought through the little game teaching greed!!! So, let's just say that while some of us are not going to be using the computer for awhile, Mommy will be rethinking what games she allows her girls to use. I just never thought twice about a "harmless" little pet game.
I am thankful my girls are aware enough to ask questions about what the other is doing. Luckily, by the end of our talk, neither girl wants to be on the said program. One of them is so upset by her choice,that she has decided she doesn't want her email anymore either. A bit dramatic, but I know her heart is just heavy for doing the wrong thing this time. I am thankful this happened in our home, while we could still talk through it and explain the Internet safety rules we have in place one more time and why. Hmmm, those lessons get tougher all the time....on me! :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Games Begin!

Our family has thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics so far. We get so engrossed in the whole thing and lose track of our normal life really. When we were watching the opening ceremony last night, Bean jumped up off the couch and ran to her room. I thought she was getting a doll or something. She came back with one of our globes. She was watching the different countries walking in to the stadium and decided we needed to know where the countries were on the globe. So we got busy locating each country before the next one was announced.

Along with that fascination, started the draw to each of the flags. So we got out our book on flags of the world. Can I tell you, that while I wish I would have thought of this on my own, I am thrilled that my child came up with it on her own. She wanted to look up the countries. She wanted to figure out what the flags look like. She wanted to learn more about them. Now, we have a map of the world next to our tv. We are going to mark each country that wins a medal as the games go on. I am thankful for the prodding of my youngest to make watching the Olympics more than just something we observe but something we use to learn about other cultures and geography. Another reason I love my job!

God's Path or Mine

After talking to my mother-in-law about Doodle's visit to the state house, she wanted me to know someone from the state house law office wanted to talk to me. At first, I was a bit worried, then she said the name and instantly, I had a smile. It was the mom of a student I had years ago. You must know I have been home since the summer we brought our baby girl, Doodle, home. Having that mom ask about me and knowing we are going to meet next week to catch up, well, I must say that my mind is twirling. You see, at the time I was involved with this particular family, the journey I was on personally was a very dark time emotionally. Matt and I had been married for years and no pregnancy. We were dealing with infertility....ah, the lovely the word the medical field gives to barrenness. That is what the Bible calls it...barren. Isn't that a sad word? I can not tell you what knowing that was my problem did to my heart. I was surrounded by friends and family who constantly were expecting or talking about people who were. Then there were the family members who rudely asked us when we were going to have a child. I know they didn't know but their questions cut deep. Oddly, when they stopped asking, it hurt worse! Go figure!

Anyway, during this time, I was also struggling to find a job as a new teacher out of college. I was so passionate about teaching. I loved kids and wanted to engage them in whatever we were studying. I had lots of ideas and could not wait to get into my own classroom. However, just like the infertility, God's plan was different than mine. Instead of giving me my own class, which is so what I thought I wanted and needed, He gave me what He KNEW I needed. I was hired to be an instructional assistant for special needs students who were going to be a part of this school's inclusion program. That meant, I would be in another teacher's room, but my role was to help the "labeled" students meet the class load or to teach similar things to their level. Basically, my job was to help the students feel as much a part of the classroom as possible and iron out the bumps. Where needed, I was to give instruction at their level and try to make up any deficits. I was scared to death when I got hired!!! Can I do this? What happens if I mess up? I had no training in special education beyond the two classes we took for my degree. Will that be enough?

That first year, I had three students I was "in charge" of in that room: Chris M., Chris D., and Christina. See a pattern? Seriously though, one of the children had Down Syndrome and truly fit in more socially but struggled academically. Inclusion helped him shine with his buddies. The other just needed a bit more time in learning concepts and truly did not appear to need the label given. The last one had developmental delays due to radiation treatment when he was three. He had brain cancer at age three and struggled to "catch up" to his twin brother after that. His brother was a genius! Truly! So the parents goal was never that he catch up to his brother, but that he would be"normal" one day. My heart melted with these three. God knew I needed to see the world through their eyes. You see, there is a reason these children were in my life at this time. "Special Needs" is a title that I struggle with because truly, I was the one with special needs and they met them. As I would sit and help one of the boys with their reading, he would sit and look at me. He appeared to be looking through me! Sometimes, it would creep me out! But I would ask:"Chris, are you ok?"
His reply was precious to me,"Shh! Mrs. Miller (with a slight slurring of the l's to sound more like Mrs. Miwwer) You have angels all around your head. Shhh! We don't want them to go away!"
Ummm, what?
You know what, those moments made me feel uncomfortable at first but after hearing him say that from time to time, it was so precious. Looking back now, it was a true gift from God. He also was able to see the joy in all things. This child memorized full movies from Disney and loved everything Disney! He would tell me a story and light up. We giggled our way through his lessons often. And he loved to hold my hand and play with my fingernails, which were always long and painted at that time! Those hugs, smiles and constant show of spiritual protection was what I needed at that time. God knew that and I did not.

The following year, God placed me with this one child again. I was his personal instructional assistant with a teacher who I loved working with. His growth that year was amazing! But mine was greater. That was the year we were having infertility treatments galore while we found out about each of our siblings expecting their first child. They were all due within 6 months of each other and that just about did me in. I knew it was selfish yet the pain could not be masked. But the joy of my job allowed me to see God at work. This child was the joy and light I needed at that time. God knew how He was going to bring our family together, but I did not at that time. I did know that what I was facing was not as hard as what the special needs kids had to face every day. My eyes were opened and my heart had room to let this child's love pour in. Boy did it! This little guy filled that void for me at that time.

After we adopted Doodle, I took her to meet this precious family. Seeing my answer to prayer in my student's arms was precious. He was so excited and could not wait to teach her about Lion King! Sadly, time has gotten away and we lost touch. However, next week we will catch up and I will get the chance to thank them in person for the gift they gave me during that time. I am so grateful for God's hand on my life and leading me in ways I did not understand at the time. I am also grateful that He never stops doing that. So if you are not where you think you should be in your life, don't fret. God has you there for a reason. Soak up the moment He has for you and know something better is around the corner. I would not go back and change one day I spent soaking up God's love through this precious child.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Paging All Pages...

Senator Patricia Miller with Doodle and her buddy

Yesterday Doodle and her best buddy, who happens to be the oldest daughter of my buddy, Lainie, were able to go to the state house and be pages for the day. This is a very exciting thing for any child truly. In Indiana, you have to be 12 years old before you can be a page and she has been waiting her turn patiently. What makes this more special for our family is that the State Senator she paged for is none other than her grandma. (Matt's mom) Grandma has a passion for politics and an even bigger passion for her grandchildren. She took the girls to lunch and had a special job for them to do after their tour of the state house. What a day! Here are a few pictures of thier big day together....
Grandma with Doodle....I wonder who enjoyed this day more?

Doodle doing official "page" job...or posing, you decide. :)

Grandma introduced her special pages to the other senators.

Grandma and Doodle in front of the Seal of Indiana.

At the end of the page day, Grandma arranged for the girls to go down to the Governor's office to get pictures with the Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Indiana. That was the first thing I heard about when they both got in the car. I think this was one of those memories the girls will remember for a long time and Grandma will cherish forever. Thanks for taking care of our girls and showing them how things run down at the state house, Grandma! We love you and are so glad you represent Indiana and your family with grace and dignity. Not many politicians can say that now. We are so glad you are ours!!!
Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman with Doodle and E.S.

The girls with Governor Daniels.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fast Moving Gases

As I have stated before, we LOVE doing science experiments at our house. It is just too fun. So when Bean brought home a sheet of projects to choose from for her science class at co-op, we were so excited! She choose the experiment she wanted to tackle which was finding out if gases move faster when they are warm or cool. Once she decided, we got busy gathering our supplies needed: pop bottles and balloons!

The bottles all ready to observe.

After getting the bottles ready, we just sat by and observed what was happening. Bean did an excellent job of taking notes and drawing pictures of what was happening. We used three different kinds of pop, each having a cool and warm test bottle. We were surprised to find out that the Sprite had the quickest reaction!

The Sprite bottles showing that the "warm" bottle has quicker moving gas.

After a bit of time, all three of the warmer bottles gave us the needed information to finish the project. We were able to determine two things: 1.) gases move quicker when warm 2.) if you want to keep your pop from going flat, put it in the refrigerator.

Bean displaying her experiment results....happy face balloons (her choice)

No happy face balloons....too funny!

We then made a poster, which shockingly, I forgot to take a picture of! It was sooo cute and I am hoping we can use it for a 4H project this year! Thinking ahead! Anyway, watching Bean walk in to co-op on Monday with her poster and bottles to display was a precious moment. She could not wait to get in there and show her precious teacher her project. I am thankful that I do get to enjoy not only the excitement of learning new topics or doing new projects but also the joy of sharing what they have learned with others. Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE my job?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Days and Ice Cream Treats

One of our trees covered in snow... so pretty!!!

Our neck of the woods has been having quite a bit of snow lately. Not nearly as much as the east coast, but still enough for several schools to miss two days in a row and have a few two hour delay days. That is one thing with homeschooling that I tend to allow, one snow day a year!! Many of my friends would disagree, but I so remember the joy I had when I would see or hear our school name on the tv or radio. Woohoo! No school! So I have allowed our girls to have one snow day. Our oldest, Doodle, decided to only use half of that day. She still did her co-op work so she would not be behind. Very wise girl and I love that was her choice so she still fully enjoyed the day.

Two more trees just looking beautiful.

Last Thursday, we had our first snow from this winter storm. So I decided that I needed to do something my mom and dad always did for us at some point each winter....make snow ice cream. The girls put out the large bowls to collect the freshly fallen snow.

Large bowls of snow!

Then we added a little milk, sugar and vanilla. Stir it up and boy oh boy do you have a yummy treat that is just plain ol' fun to enjoy. I remember enjoying this as a child as well. I am so thankful for these little memories I get to share with my children now. I have to tell you they thought I was nuts when I mentioned it. But after going through the entire process and enjoying the treat....
The girls enjoying the snow ice cream.

Well, now they think their mom can make anything out of nothing! Ha! Shhh! Don't tell them any differently yet. I am sure they will figure that out all by themselves soon enough.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Colts Crazy!

I don't know if I have ever really said where we live, but we are Hoosiers, born and raised in Indiana. Both my husband and I have lived very close to where we do now our entire lives. As you know, our home team made it to the SuperBowl this year. We were so excited! My mom even bought blue nail polish and did all 6 of her granddaughters nails. (I did mine too!) Look how fun they are!
Pretty blue nails!
As we prepared for the Super Bowl at our house, I was reminded of the last time our team went to the big game three years ago. At that time, my mother-in-law and father-in-law managed to get four tickets. They took their children to the game. So fun! Here is the picture before they left:
Here they are headed to the game! So exciting!
The girls and I enjoyed trying to find them in the mass of people, but we knew we couldn't.The girls ready for our Super Bowl party with Nana and Poppy in 2007. They look sooo little!

But we have proof they were there! Here it is...Grandma and Grandpa headed to their seats.

This year, watching the game at home with Matt was great, but I must say that I think every Super Bowl game he watches after 2007 will never be quite the same. He must have been itching to be there. No matter the turn out, we are proud of our Colts and know that they will return again. I wonder what seats we will be sitting in at that the game or on our couch! Either way, we will enjoy cheering on our home team. Go Colts!!!
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Here We Go!

Doodle has been taking a chess class this semester in our co-op. It has really been quite interesting for her. She loves how it makes her think through each step. We have been doing a lot of practicing over the past few weeks.

She also is growing into this little lady with sweet friends who I adore. While she has several friends, she tends to be more like her momma and have a couple really good friends with lots of buddies. So, recently, she spent some time with one of her closer friends from co-op. They had a blast. The next day, she asked if she could email her friend to play chess online. So I agreed and she called her friend. I helped both of them find each other on the game site. Once I had set them up, I left the room to get something done and let them talk and play. When I came back, this is what I found:
Doodle on the phone and at the computer...right at home!
Oh boy! Here we go!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How We Roll...or Do School

This year in school, we are focusing in on Ancient History. We have had a lot of fun with various activities both at home and with our History Club. Recently, the girls and I were talking about Greece. So we painted clay pots with some black paint to look like old Grecian pots. They were so cool!
The girls working on their pots.
We tend to read "living books" versus using a text book to gather our information. Then we use these really cool notebooks to document what we are learning and plot the different events as well as people on a time line. At the end of the year, we end up with a book of our own history lessons.

It is amazing to watch the girls eat up history at 9 and 12. I did not appreciate it until I was teaching it to them honestly. Part of that, I think is due to the fact that we study history chronologically and repeat every four years. Whereas, when I was in school it was quite scattered each year. This is our second time to study the ancients and this time there is more meat involved. I expect more from Doodle's notebook because she is older as well. Regardless, I just love walking in the room and seeing them like this:
The girls working away on their history notebooks.
I love seeing them enjoying what they are doing and really catching on to this amazing thing called HIStory. God is so good!
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