Archive for May, 2010

Homeschooling Kindergarten – You Can Do It!

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

It’s that time of the year… Parents are thinking about the school year ahead. It’s a shame that we can’t just enjoy the summer and give our minds a rest. However, there are sign-ups for fall lessons. Public schools have sent out notifications to parents of rising kindergartners to attend Open House. Some parents are looking at private schools. Every year in the spring, I have moms call and inquire about homeschooling. Many would like to teach their newly school-aged children at home but they feel inadequate. The task seems too big! They don’t know where to start.

I want to encourage you. You can homeschool your child! You have been homeschooling since the day you brought your baby home. There was no “curriculum” that instructed you how to go about teaching your child to roll over, use the potty, talk, walk and run or interact with his/her siblings.  Naturally, your child developed and with each new skill, you cheered him on.  You modeled language. You talked to your child. Before you knew it, your babbling baby became a very verbose toddler. Just because your child is now 5 or 6 years old and ready to learn to read doesn’t mean you no longer are capable of doing what you’ve been doing his entire life! You can homeschool!

Homeschooling is no longer odd, unheard of, or only for bun-wearing, denim-jumper clad mothers. Homeschooled children are not unsocialized. Those are stereotypes and myths! God is calling more and more families to this amazing task. No, it is not easy. I would be lying to say that taking on the education of your children is a simple endeavor. However, it is a privilege. It is a joy! While it isn’t easy, there is tremendous support available to those who are called to bring or keep their children home. If God has called you to homeschool, He will equip you in every way.

My tendency is to “read up” and try to “figure out” how I am to do what God has called me to do. There are zillions of books on home-schooling and educational philosophy. There are zillions of curricula out there and they all would have you think “their way” is the “best way.” If you talk to 100 homeschooling mothers, you will likely be introduced to 100 different ways to go about home education. The curriculum fairs are a tremendous resource. However, they can over-complicate! If you are considering homeschooling your kindergartner, I want to encourage you to NOT BE OVERWHELMED by the sheer number of resources out there! If God has called you to homeschool your six year old, you simply need to obey His calling. Don’t try to figure it all out! Relax. Begin reading materials that interests you. In time, you will catch on to “homeschool jargon.” However, knowing the language isn’t going to make your child’s first year of school any more meaningful. Just start. God will lead you!

My encouragement, if God keeps whispering “Why don’t you homeschool next year?” is to do three things.

1. Pray. Yes, really pray about this – with your husband. If your husband is not on board and you think it would be a good fit for your family, pray some more. I know many, many mothers who first felt the call to homeschool and their husbands originally did not. DO NOT NAG! Simply pray about it. Talk about it. If your husband is the one interested in homeschooling and you think he is crazy, please pray! God very well may be speaking through your hubby! Consider yourself blessed that he has such vision!  You do both need to ultimately agree that homeschooling is God’s plan (at least for this year) for your family. It is a lifestyle. It affects your schedule, your resources and most importantly, your children! This is a decision you must make together.

2. Find a mentor. Is there a homeschooling family in your church you know whose children are well behaved, respectful and possess joy in learning? Ask them if you and your husband could meet to talk. I am convinced that no book, speaker, online support group or CD series can ever take the place of real live people who are there for you. Homeschooling families are busy. However, most that I know would be delighted to mentor a young couple. I am so thankful for mothers, ahead of me in their parenting journeys, who have taken the time to answer questions, direct me to resources and pray for me. If you don’t know who to ask, pray. I remember doing this 15 years ago when I first moved to my town. Where I lived previously,  I had a relative who was like a big sister to me. Being ten years older, she had several years of homeschooling under her belt and 6 children when I became a brand new mommy. I grieved not being close to her. The first Sunday I visited my church, I saw a beautiful family with 6 children that reminded me a little of my “big sis.” Boldly, I introduced myself to this mother who did befriend me. I have learned so much from her over the years. I thank God for her! A busy homeschooling mother may not take the time to ask you if you have questions. However, she likely would love to have you over for tea. Take initiative and give her a call!

3. Just start! What do you need to begin? Technically – nothing. I am serious. You can count the plates as you unload the dishwasher. You can “skip-count” pretzels as you put them in baggies for snacks (which is preparation for multiplication.) You can sort laundry into piles. You can teach your child to write using just paper and pencil. You can read to your child. You can teach him basic phonics without any curriculum at all. Dr. Seuss books makes great beginning readers! Read the Bible. Discuss the history behind the basic Bible stories. As your child learns to write, copy scripture verses and write to Grandma. Read aloud everyday about anything your child expresses interest. Listen to stories on CD during quiet time. Talk to him a lot! Go on field trips. Draw pictures! Plant seeds and read about plants or animals or the solar system. Collect tadpoles and watch them morph into frogs. Visit the library often. Enjoy your child. You will be blown away by the learning that occurs!

I know that many mothers feel better having a curriculum tell them what to do. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you can truly dismiss feeling like you HAVE to obey a teacher’s guide. For many mothers with a rising kindergartner, there are younger siblings to tend to as well. It is so important to remember that the school-aged child is not the only child in the family. I have seen kindergarten curriculum that is simply busy work. It could take a mom hours to get through the daily assignments with their child. For a very young child, such work is just not necessary. Thirty minutes to an hour at the most is enough time for a 5 to 6 year old child to devote to table work. That doesn’t mean your child will only learn for up to an hour a day. Leaning occurs all the time! Chores teach responsibility. Free play teaches independence and fosters creativity. Errands are full of learning opportunities. My recommendation is to find resources that don’t stifle the other types of natural learning that a child needs or resources that make you feel burdened by all that you are not doing. I’m planning to write a post of my favorites later this week. However, though I’ve homeschooled kindergarten 5 times, I am not the expert on your child! Nor is a classroom teacher! God gave your children to you. You know them best! He will show you the best resources for them.

It’s that time of year. One school year is coming to an end. There is anticipation of the school year ahead. If God is whispering, “What about homeschooling?” don’t be overwhelmed. Pray about it! Talk about it! Learn from others! You can do it… I promise!

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 6:6-7

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philipians 1:6

Mother’s Day – Every Day

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I’ll admit that when my children were all young, I really wanted a break on Mother’s Day. It just didn’t happen. I don’t like to eat out on this special day. The lines are long. After church, my brood of 4 under 4 or 5 under 7 couldn’t handle the wait. Eating out was more trouble than it was worth back then. My husband doesn’t cook. I can remember one particular Mother’s Day when I cooked and even made myself a cake, because that was what the children wanted to make my day special. While I’m sure Daniel did the dishes so I could rest,  I was whiney. “Can’t I have just one day when I don’t have to do all this work?!?” I thought. Back then, even on Mother’s Day, the children would argue, I had messes to clean and felt there was no rest for the weary. How I wished I could have had a glimpse into the future…

This Mother’s Day,  I woke up to a special Sunday morning breakfast of orange juice and muffins. I didn’t set the table. I didn’t make the muffins. It was delicious. (And I even got the Special plate!)

This red plate says "You Are Special Today."

For lunch, we had steaks that my husband thawed (that’s important… I didn’t have to “think” about preparing them!) and grilled.

Bethany made a strawberry cake all by herself!

My favorite!

A sweet sign hung on the door.

I received thoughtful cards and a “Coupon Queen” coupon organizer. Christina talked all week about how much I’d love this gift. She was right! I do love it, but I love the fact that she picked it out and anticipated the joy of giving it to me maybe even more. I must say “gifts” are one of my love languages. I don’t like people spending money on me. However, if I’m given a sweet card or candy, flowers, or even a coupon envelope, I do feel loved!

Cards and my "Coupon Queen" organize

The children cleaned up the kitchen.

The children didn’t argue. (If “peace and quiet” were one of the love language, it would #1 to me!).

Then when Daddy called and said this Mother’s Day would be the day he’d receive his new heart, I cried. I was so thankful, yet very scared for him. I was nervous and lost my appetite. Daniel prayed and the children consoled me by sending me off to Charlotte with lots of hugs and prayers.

My children are growing up. They are acquiring skills and learning how to bless others. My Mother’s Day was precious. Of course, my dad receiving his heart and doing well through surgery made this Mother’s Day a day I’ll never forget. Yet I also won’t forget how my children worked hard to encourage me.

I’m so thankful for each of my six children. I wish I could go back ten years ago and just smile through making my own cake. It was then that they were learning how to one day make one for me! I was tired. Having lots of little ones can be exhausting! Back then, a nap was all I really wanted for Mother’s Day. My perspective has changed quite a bit over the years.  I consider every day a Mother’s Day.  No, every day isn’t perfect. Some days I solve one conflict after another, the house is a huge mess and I don’t know what’s for supper. The children, however, are maturing and I am seeing good fruit. I know that my attitude is something they are watching. They are learning and I am learning through this journey of mothering. It is privilege. I am blessed.

Loved this!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

Jesus In Daddy’s Heart

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Daddy in his last hour in the Cardiac ICU - less than 48 hours after his heart transplant

Daddy continues to do well thus far since his heart transplant surgery Sunday night. It’s hard to believe his surgery was only 5 nights ago because he has made such tremendous progress! According to several doctors and nurses, he has set new records in recovery from such a procedure. A physical therapist has worked with him and he has successfully been able to get out of bed, which is difficult with a broken breastbone. He’s also walked the halls daily since Wednesday and has  climbed some steps. With his new strong and healthy heart,  he has quite a bit of muscle- building ahead. His muscles have atrophied quite a bit over the past few years as his heart has grown weaker. It is now time to slowly build back strength. He jokes that taking steroids is going to make him look like a body builder in no time. However, so far the steroids, while certainly helping his body accept the new heart, have only added fluid (not muscle)  bulk! In addition to beginning some gentle exercise, Daddy must also be diligent in drinking water so that his kidneys can heal. The poor blood flow of his sick heart damaged his kidneys but all the doctors are hopeful that now that he has a strong heart, any lost kidney function will be restored. In just four short days we’ve already seen improvement! We are so very thankful he is recovering so well thus far.

This week, Daddy’s days have been busy resting, visiting with friends and family and attending appointments with various specialists who are educating him on life post-transplant. Several medications he has been on for years are now history! However, several other new medications will be a part of his daily regimen for the rest of his life. While the biggest rejection risks are during the first few months, he must permanently stay on anti-rejection medications. Right now, he is very immune- suppressed which means he must diligently avoid germs. Once he’s released from the hospital, he’ll need to wear a face mask when he is in public. Food bars are prohibited. Because he’s coming back to my house and we have six children, we must keep things as sterile as possible. (Pray for our health, please!) Daddy is eager to learn how to take care of his new heart and implement exercise into his daily routine. Of course, right now, while recovering from surgery, he must rest. However, he looks forward to building back his strength.

This Monday, Daddy will have his first rejection test which is a biopsy that shows exactly how well his body is adjusting to the new heart. If all goes well, he will be released from the hospital. If his body shows any signs of rejection, he will stay as his medications are adjusted. Once he is back in Boone, he will have weekly appointments for a month. After a month, his biopsies will be every other week for two months. He will need to stay close to CMC (Carolina’s Medical Center) at least one more month and possibly up to three more months. Once he is out of the immediate rejection danger, he will be able to return to south Georgia. We are so very thankful that his recovery is underway!

One of Sarah’s friends asked her mom, “Will Mr. Scott have to ask Jesus into his new heart too?” I’ve reflected on this  innocent question asked by this sweet child. Before Daddy’s surgery, many prayers were lifted up that his donor would come to know Jesus if he didn’t already. For months we’ve prayed this. We know the donor didn’t die for Daddy. However, through his death, life has been extended. A gift has been given that can’t be bought.  So many times this week, as I’ve thought about the gift of Daddy’s new heart, I’ve thought about my Savior. He did die for me. He gave me life. He experienced pain. When I accepted the precious gift of salvation years ago, I received a heart transplant! How sad it would have been to have turned my new heart away. Sin leads to death. Jesus transforms us all. He changes our hearts. Then the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside us. We “exercise” our new hearts as we practice the fruits of the Holy Spirit living in us. The more we “exercise,” the stronger we become. Amazing! How I love the questions asked by a child – simple and yet so profound!

“Yes! Jesus does live in this heart too!”

Thank you, Lord, for Daddy’s new heart – his physical one. What a miracle! Thank you also for new spiritual hearts for all who accept your gift of salvation. When you reside in us, you change us indeed!

A New Heart

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Daddy has a new heart.

He is doing as well as can be expected. His breathing tube is out. He is sleepy but has talked with us coherently. One of the first things he asked us to do is pray for the donor’s family.We’ve been told the heart he received is beautiful – very, very healthy. Yesterday before surgery his blood that returned to his heart was 30% oxygenated. That is poor enough to warrant receiving a heart pump. Healthy peoples’ numbers read 60-80%. This morning he was at 70%. For someone who has been in heart failure for 13 years, this is just a miracle. The nurse told us last night that Daddy’s new heart is probably pumping stronger than some of ours! It seems surreal that he is not in heart failure anymore.

The surgery took a little less than 4 hours. We were able to see him at 2 am. All 9 of us here (my brother, sister and their spouses, mom, Dad’s sister an husband, Daniel and I) surrounded him as his wonderful nurse educated us about his tubes, numbers, etc. We were urged to get some rest because he was doing so well and had a personal nurse every moment. Around 4 am Monday, we got settled at the Holiday Inn Express, truly grateful, and able to rest, knowing Daddy was in good hands.

He’ll be in ICU for a few days. Right now everything looks really good. His blood pressure is a little low but we’ve been told that is to be expected. His color looks great. I told him he looked good and his response this morning was, “I always look good.” He is already back to his joking.

We are so thankful. Keep praying for him. Infection and rejection are the greatest concerns after surgery. We have no reason to be fearful but we do pray that he will recover speedily and completely. We are so thankful for all of you praying with us!

Today Is The Day!

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Daddy is in surgery receiving a new heart right now. Please pray.

My Ugly Mother’s Day Cake

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Written Mother’s Day, 2009.

I received a precious gift today. My oldest daughter decided to make one of my favorite cakes while I was away at the grocery store – a devil’s food cake with chocolate mocha icing. YUMMY!

I knew I’d probably get a cake today. Yesterday my sweet children asked, “Mama, what would you like for Mother’s Day?” When that question is asked late on Mother’s Day Eve, it is best to think of something that can be accomplished without leaving home or spending money. So, I answered truthfully, “I’d like for all of you to get along with one another all day… and I’d also like a cake!”

That delighted my girls who love an excuse to bake. Here lately, they are all learning how to make drop flowers and roses. A Mother’s Day cake would be fun!

So, today I went to the grocery store alone, wondering what kind of cake I’d come home to enjoy. While I was out, Anna called and asked me to get some ice cream… cause later we’d have cake! When I walked in the door, she excitedly led me to two beautiful chocolate layers. “Look, Mom, I got them out of the pans without them cracking at all!” They really did look beautiful and I could tell immediately that this wasn’t a cake mix. I like mixes but this was the real thing. I contemplated skipping supper and just eating a REALLY BIG piece. Moms are allowed to indulge a little on Mother’s Day, right?!

I left the kitchen for a few minutes so I could be “surprised” by the showpiece cake. It still needed to be iced… the favorite part of the gift for the children.

It broke Anna's heart to present me with this ugly cake last year for Mother's Day.

Suddenly I heard a SPLAT noise followed by a very distressed cry followed by a “WHAT HAPPENED?!?!” I knew what had happened and went into the kitchen to try to console my daughter who was crying over the mess on the floor.

“Honey, it’s ok. It will taste great. I don’t care what it looks like,” I told her.

“I know, Mama, but I really wanted it to be perfect,” was her response through tears.

“It is!” I said and then this child, who has a sarcastic wit about her, burst into laughter. She gave me a hug and said, “I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day. Here is your delicious, ugly cake.”

I immediately thought that this delicious and ugly cake truly was the perfect gift for my Mother’s Day. I want to be a perfect mom. Yet, I am not. I fail and without Christ, I am just a mess. It is my prayer that I can model Christ – likeness to my children. I want to be gentle and slow to anger. However, when I take my eyes off of Christ, even for a moment, I “drop the cake.” I often have a crumbled mess to offer the Lord. Yet He forgives me and encourages me. The really cool thing is He even puts all those pieces back together. I have brought so many messes to Him that He just cleans right up. I couldn’t do that to my Mother’s Day cake, but I did pile it on a plate and top it off with a perfect scoop of ice cream! The smiles given as it were served were sweet indeed.

There is nothing wrong with creating something beautiful. However, God is not concerned with outward appearances. Just as I was able to look at Anna and see her motive was to make a beautiful cake for me, God is able to look at my feeble efforts as a mother. When my efforts are truly meant to please God, he can take my mistakes and use them for His good purposes.

My ugly Mother’s Day cake was delicious and I am thankful for its reminder that I am a work in progress. As I teach my children, God is is teaching me. Today, as happens quite often, my children are the instruments He uses in doing so.

Anna and me on my 39th birthday with my chocolate peppermint ganache birthday cake.

Mother’s Day 2010: I marvel at the beautiful cakes Anna has made this year. She made me one of the loveliest and most delicious cakes ever on my 39th birthday. I am so thankful she wasn’t discouraged and that she persevered. Now my daughter, who presented to me a chocolate mess a year ago, can make butter cream roses perfectly! Anna’s growth in her cake decorating is a picture to me of how God often uses our sins, struggles and mess- ups and turn them into something beautiful! In thinking about the messy cake representing my sin, I think of the beautiful cakes she’s made as representative of the Holy Spirit working in our lives to make all things beautiful.  Anna now can teach others how to pipe perfect roses! What once was a struggle, is now a strength of hers. When we are willing, God uses our weaknesses and gives us all we need to overcome sin and bless other people. God is so good!

Update On Daddy

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Daddy is in the ICU at the Carolina Medical Center. While that sounds a little scary, it is mostly a precautionary measure. He needs to watched as his medications are adjusted.

Last weekend, he was maintaining fluid and his doctors changed his diuretic in hopes that his weight would come down. Over the course of several days, his weight not only increased but he began feeling more fatigued than normal so his doctor wanted him to be admitted to the hospital.

A catheterization was done on Thursday to determine his heart function. The test showed that he isn’t doing quite as well as he was in January when he was going through the transplant evaluations. His doctors expected his numbers to be up because the primecore medication he is on is suppose to increase the pumping efficiency of his heart. It was determined that his primecore needed to be increased. Because this medicine can cause a drop in blood pressure and can cause dangerous arrhythmias, he was put in ICU where he will be monitored closely.

Patients in ICU on the transplant list are a 1A status. Daddy has been a 1B. This means that as long as he is in ICU, his chances of receiving a heart are greater. He was told not to expect a type O heart while a 1B status. It’s possible that being a 1A could open up the possibility of not only a type A but also an O heart. It also means he may have a greater chance of receiving a heart from another geographical region than western NC. Dr. Frank mentioned to my sister that leaving Daddy in ICU over the weekend is a favorable  place for him to be. Of course the doctors have no control when a heart for him will be available. I am, however, “on alert” a little more than I have been while he is being monitored in ICU.

My sister is staying with my mom in Charlotte. Her in-laws are at her house in Georgia. My in-laws are here this weekend for a visit. Yes, this weekend would be very convenient time for the transplant with help in place for both Amy and me and my parents right where they need to be. However, I continue to pray for peace as we wait, all involved and the Lord’s perfect timing for this procedure.

I do not know what the plan for Dad will be after his medications are adjusted. Dr. Frank does not want to do a heart pump. He’d like to wait for a heart. However, Dr. Frank has told us that Daddy’s kidneys are stressed. His heart is weakening. The pump is still a possibility if his health declines as he waits. It’s possible Dad will come home early next week and continue to wait for that phone call. Of course, it’s also possible he’ll receive word that a heart has come available before he’s released.

Thank you all for your prayers!