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When Faith is Tested

September 18, 2014

Today marks 38 weeks gestation for our little man Max. Well, he’s actually going to be our big man Max I think. (Sorry I look so tired in this picture, admittedly I am.)

001At today’s ultrasound, the tech kept remarking how very big his belly was measuring. It seems in fact, she was also able to record a few fat rolls around said belly. Who knew…fat shows up on ultrasound, even baby fat. HA! The good news, he isn’t measuring quite as large as thought he might at this point. However, we also know that given the disproportionate size of his belly that it has thrown off all the measurements to some degree. We will be pleasantly surprised at his size and apparently existence of fat rolls when he makes his appearance in our arms very, very soon.

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He is head down and facing backward…all good signs in presenting for delivery. I know the picture is terrible, but in these last days, it’s hard to get a glimpse of anything but head, belly, spine, and an occasional flailing limb. In a quick moment, he uncurled and threw up a foot…the bottom of the foot is pointing directly upward and positioned in a perfect horizontal line. I’m sure I’m not alone in treasuring this one little terrible photo of my unborn baby. (i know there are other photo crazed mothers that will hold onto even the worst of pictures just as a record of this time.) I love ultrasounds as they somehow provide a beautiful little glimpse into a hidden world of wonder and grace and witness to God’s love. The growing of life is truly precious and yet incredibly complicated. Today, I’m relying on God’s knowledge to work out all these details, and am even more thankful he is the mastermind behind all these details.

I’d like to beg for your prayers as this morning’s appointment gave me/us a lot to consider and unfortunately included one surprise after another.

Most pressing on my personal intention list is for our little Max’s safety while in utero and throughout delivery. It seems that in all his ability to move around amidst the abundance of fluid he has enjoyed, he has managed to tangle himself twice in the umbilical cord. In theory (as we all know the other possible scenarios), this doesn’t present a tremendous problem until the end stages of delivery.

The way I understand this first case scenario is that delivery would happen either spontaneously or by induction and would proceed until the baby’s heart rate dropped (in those final stages) during labor/delivery. They’d monitor the drops and speed by which the baby recovers between contractions. Should the heart rate not bounce back immediately, then an immediate C-section would transpire. He assured me that he had delivered a twice wrapped baby within the last 24 hours successfully. It can be done. It’s Baby #5 and I still marvel at all the “new” possible scenarios.

Secondly, it seems that while he has grown to be big and healthy due to an abundance of fluid, I am now measuring below normal for fluid. This of course presents a different scenario of problems that also might lead to an “emergency” c-section. Another ultrasound is scheduled for Monday afternoon and will give us a better indication. For now, I will no longer try to encourage labor, but take it easy and wait until Monday.

Although I had hoped that my body was progressing toward a reasonable time frame for delivery (i.e. this weekend), it seems that not only is Max content to rest in his dark and warm abode, but my body isn’t ready to encourage him otherwise. This is a great gift in one sense, but should we need to deliver early, it does present complications to induction. So my second intention presents itself here. That my body would begin to prepare for delivery, the cervix would soften and next week’s decisions would include one less factor to consider.

However, in addition to Max’s ability to continue breathing normally beyond delivery, I’d like also to beg prayers for my doctor and any decisions that need to be made next week. None of these scenarios are life-threatening in and of themselves, but it is another level of anxiety that a perfectionist and control-freak doesn’t relish. Hence, the title of this post; “when faith is tested”.

It seems we are always presented opportunities to work on the same set of virtues. Thank God we have a good and gracious, all-loving God who has each of these details already planned and worked out. I simply need to catch up in grace, and abandon myself to His divine providence and await the unfolding of His perfect design. My head tells me He has got this, but sometimes my heart and my ability to act in faith needs time to execute that wholeheartedly.

This pregnancy was a beautiful surprise from the very beginning, it has been incredibly blessed with great numbers, lots of energy, and tons of strength. I am forever grateful that it’s only in these last days that it has become increasingly difficult. I’m tired and ready to meet our little man.I’m ready to have his birth story written down and in the past, and a lifetime ahead to live. Just a few more days and it seems that will be a reality. So…until then, please lift Max and I and my doctor in prayer. I feel weak (not where I like to be, but none-the-less right where God wants me right now). One of my aunts reminded me that she was wearing her boxing gloves ready to knock out Satan if he tried to sway her today. I love that image. I pray for big, all encompassing boxing gloves of my own. The devil has no place in the beauty and sanctity of life. I will continue the fight of faith and abandonment. Thank you to those who are joining us in this intention over the next few days. Blessings to you also!

Pablo Picasso is in the House

September 13, 2014

This week’s art class was another huge success. I couldn’t be more proud of the students’ abstract portraits and their ability to play with irregular portrait concepts.

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Students were encouraged to play with the use of color, shapes, and out of balance symmetry…all concepts Picasso tested to the limits in his art.

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By using magazine images to capture their portrait’s main facial features, the students were able to capitalize on the irregularity of abstract art. The use of color further highlights this time period.

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Further playing with this idea of irregular shapes and patterns, students used a die to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. You can see the foundation for this project HERE.

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Students were also given the option of creating their trading cards in the original “magazine” style.

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As a reminder to all participants, please use these next few weeks to finish your trading cards. You should make certain that all 9 have been drawn, colored, and glued to the patterned paper. You are also encouraged to create your own designs on the patterned paper with any media accessible to you; stickers, ribbon/yarn, confetti, glitter, etc. These cards will then be traded during the May showcase.

I look forward to seeing you in November. You can find registration information HERE.

Adventuring with Grana & Papa

September 12, 2014

Our homeschool group found a little water hole earlier this summer. However, with two young babies and a 40 minute drive to get there, I just wasn’t game to try it on my own. Thank God I didn’t. It was a seriously fun day, but one set of eyes is not enough on four kids in the water with rapids and varying degrees of water depth. Water sort of freaks me out anyway, mostly unnecessarily, but none-the-less it’s not an area I’m likely to ever opt to take a risk.

After a longish drive, lunch was first on the list. Clare was so delighted with her little perch on the rock. We chose to sit in our camp chairs behind the car, but Clare was all about her rock.

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The butterflies were everywhere and several different varieties. This one happened to be hovering all over Michael’s flip flop. Was it the matching color or the smell that was the biggest draw? I wish I knew. However, take a close look at this shoe. It and its match are surely still floating down the Amicalola River.

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The big kids were so delighted to explore the bends with Papa. I’m not really sure who was more unsteady on their feet, but for sure Michael ended up falling the most. Even from a distance, it was delightful to hear his laugh.

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While the big kids explored, the littles were under my watchful eye near the shoreline and in the wading pools. Clare declared this burnt log her dragon. She mounted him and yelled “yee-haw” all the while encouraging and directing Elizabeth how to get on herself.

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The little girls longed to be part of the big-kid & papa action. Thankfully, they were able to share some time of their own “out in the middle”.

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Everybody loves Papa. I think it’s safe to say that Elizabeth holds a special affection for her hero and top of the world companion. At 6’5″, I’m sure it’s an added bonus when Papa holds you. Having seen him the least in her short little life, she has lost no ground in spending time in his arms. There is no doubt she loves her “Bopa”.

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Thanks to Mom (dry and in the shade under the trees along the shore) she was able to capture a pretty great story in these pictures. Elizabeth had already reached her capacity for water fun and was ready for a nap. Having done nothing but cry with the last few steps, I threw her wet body onto my hip and prepared to make our exit back to the car.

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Clare was surely not finished playing and in this moment is already being re-warned of her boundaries until Papa could get closer and take over.

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Ohhh. Clearly she overstepped her boundaries. However, I had no idea my other two were struggling to cross the middle rapids.

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At this final moment, I have both babies well contained, screaming their heads off, and I’m ready to give some attention to my big kids encouraging them to make their exit, only to look up and find both of them struggling to gain their footing and no where near exiting themselves.

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So, final thoughts on the day?

Adventures are fun and surely never go the way you anticipate. We never did find the original location (or what I thought was the right location based on pictures friends had shared throughout the summer). However, the kids, all of them loved this new water experience. Papa found a great little place in his new “outdoor” surroundings. There might even be a place to fly fish on another occasion. Today, the location provided something for everyone. I love that most of all. The water was cool enough that my very pregnant self was comfortable, and Papa was along to both assist in the water and drive us on this adventure. I didn’t even have to navigate thanks to Grana. Papa says, “It is more fun playing in the river than in the snow.”

(As an aside, Casper received their first snowfall of the season today. It was close to 90F here, which made the below freezing temperatures back “home” even more surreal. I think there will be many more days spent loving the outdoors here in the south than were possible in Wyoming. Well, different days at least. Papa’s adventuring has started off on a good note I think. At least my crew is quite happy!) I think maybe next season we will have to find our way back to Devil’s Elbow again.

Oh how we love tradition

September 2, 2014

Our beloved Labor Day weekend was blessed yet again. We love our trip to Callaway Gardens.

This year we were joined by college friends who have just moved to Atlanta. God bless them, they are still in transition, and yet happily joined us on a little road trip and day’s adventure. Everyone has a buddy!

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Our kids were delighted to have experienced a tethered balloon ride; something new to them.

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Papa has been up in a free flight balloon a few times, but ironically has never commented on how hot the propane blasts are up against your face. Sweet Michael accompanied them, but chose to sit on the bottom of the basket to avoid the heat. Katie said it was the greatest experience ever. I love her enthusiasm over new experiences.

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After the balloon ride, it was all about the beach and Robin Lake. The kids had a great time and really is the only time they play in such an environment.

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Thank God daddy got in the water. Elizabeth had a great time playing with daddy.

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These two girls have had so much fun together. Clare can’t seem to remember her name, often giving her an alternate name. At any rate, they have laughed and played pretend for three days straight. Clare is going to have serious withdrawals when the sleepovers and carefree days are less available.

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Check this out!!! This was truly the greatest new-to-us invention we’ve witnessed. What an amazing water sport. Still not certainly sure how it works, but really fun to watch.

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The Blue Morpho butterflies did not disappoint. We were so lucky to have been visiting the butterfly garden during this particular festival. The house was FULL of these gorgeous butterflies.

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The gardens are also full of natural butterfly attracting plants. I especially love the flowers at the Sibley Center.

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The Sibley Center is also generally our last stop. It’s the perfect place to play and they have the best climbing trees also.

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There is sure to be some catch and frisbee and football throwing also.

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This 6-year-old makes a great daycare leader. She had the girls doing all kinds of things! Simply precious!

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#1 is officially growing up

August 22, 2014

Our sweet girl surprised us this week with her maturity and ease at transitioning into the realms of growing up and becoming a young lady. I couldn’t be more proud or happy for her. She deserves all accolades ever given a soon-to-be eleven year old.

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She’s a fantastic big sister, a great student, responsible and generous, and loving. She takes life very seriously and loves to talk about everything. I’m continually amazed at her spirit so filled with virtue and sensitivity. I know God has a great plan for her and I’m so happy to see her already laying the foundation for great things. Day in and day out she teaches us all a great deal of what it means to be obedient, hard working, and self-sacrificing. I’m so honored to be her mom and watch her grow into such a great young gal.

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She’s also well on her way to becoming a Wilton certified cake decorator. She still talks about maybe becoming a baker some day. For now, it’s a great hobby. We are so blessed to have found a teacher that doesn’t mind having a younger student in the class. It’s a great Thursday night event for her. She finishes level 2 next week and was especially looking forward to tonight’s class on flowers. Aren’t her lilies really great?

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Not sure what this flower represents, but I like it’s pattern.

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She’s already envisioning her final cake decoration for next week’s class. I can’t wait to see it. She also hopes to gift that cake to friends who may make their way to Atlanta next week also.

I love you sweet girl. Thanks for making daddy and I so proud.

…and she’s off to school

August 16, 2014

Sweet Clare is our first to attend “real” SCHOOL. I might add that the big kids are a little jealous or so they claim anyway.

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The school opened another classroom a week before classes began and we were lucky enough to be one of the ones admitted to that class. Although, we had contemplated this decision in April, we had moved well beyond the idea of her attending school when the call came last week.

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Clare has always had more energy and a need for attention than any of our other children combined. Our family dynamic is interesting right now in that the two big kids are well immersed in their school and chores during the day and more inclined in the evening to play with the neighborhood kids than be home tucking in little siblings. Ellie is very much still a “baby” and with Max on the way that only intensifies the “odd man out” dynamic sweet Clare finds herself in more often than not. She’s not quite ready to really settle down to do school also, but she rightfully loves play-doh and painting and reading and singing and dancing and playgrounds and all things full of life. This, I find is really hard to provide her with given the phases of the other three and soon to be four. Therefore, true to our word, we are choosing school for her. We have said from the very beginning of this homeschool journey that we would only commit one year at a time, one child at a time. For Clare, this year meant she needed more than what I could give her at home. No doubt it’s already a great decision and we couldn’t be happier with the location or the school itself. It’s literally across the subdivision and in their 15th year, these women are devoted to their profession and truly loving on these little ones ages 2-5. We are happy to be part of their community, at least for this year.

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Ms. Lori & Ms. Mary immediately scooped our love bug into their arms and were happy to welcome her and all her affection also. They learned quickly that Clare doesn’t need to be invited. She just makes herself right at home. These two women are incredibly special and we are quite lucky to have Clare in their care three days a week.

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She’s in the owl classroom giving everyone quick access to her location for carpool, chapel, playground, etc. She loves being an owl and is quite proud of her little nametag.

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She says these lions at the front door are her friends. It’s a little mural created underneath the stairs in this wasted space area just near the preschool door. She always says hello to them when she walks through the door.

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Just as we presumed, this girl was ready for her time at school and didn’t hesitate in the least when we left. She had things to do and explore and friends to make.

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She tells me she has a blue friend and was very excited to see her blue friend today. I am not sure of another child wore blue today or if she truly remembered the boy from yesterday that was her friend and chose just to still refer to him as “blue” or exactly the scenario. None-the-less, it’s really sweet.

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This morning, she hopped out of the car, I waved goodbye and we were on our way to the next thing.

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Saying a prayer for my sweet girl, I look up to see her having stopped the office assistant on the sidewalk so she could turn around and wave to me as I drove away. I hear her yelling, “Bye mommy. Bye mommy. Bye mommy.” as I round the corner. Yep. Instant tears as I sobbed pulling away from that parking lot. Our precious girl does this every morning as her daddy leaves. As soon as she can’t see him anymore, she looks at me and says, “He’s gone” and we go inside to resume our day. However, I’ve never been on the receiving end of that same goodbye. I’m so happy for our sweet girl and her ease at making friends and adjusting to life outside our house. I look forward to seeing her grow in this year and resting easy knowing that she’s getting all the things a toddler deserves to experience.

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We love you baby girl. Have a great year!

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Salvador Dali & Mustache Mania

August 16, 2014

Today I taught the first in a string of art classes planned for this school year. This month’s lesson was centered around Salvador Dali and a brief introduction to his life, art, and fame.

As a man who loved attention, his mustache was one of the most iconic ways he gained attention. Hence, the mustache mania today.

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I had some really talented artists, both young and older. I really miss the classroom sometimes that these short little classes really boost my teaching spirits. I get so energized seeing young artists take blank paper and create something really unique. I think you’ll agree they turned out pretty great!

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I’m so proud of all my artists today. Thank you for participating and sharing your work also. (As an aside, not all students were photographed. It was by invitation. I’m happy to see so many shared their work.)

For those who participated, be sure to work on your nine trading cards this next month. Add some color to the front and decorate the back of the card. Keep all your papers in your binder to serve as your portfolio and bring it back in September. We’ll add the Picasso drawings and create new trading cards. You may choose to work in teams to complete the trading cards this next month. Don’t forget your dice! Register for September’s class HERE.

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