Thursday, June 23, 2011

Miracles (a reminder)

I recently posted this statement on a message board: "Some people believe in miracles ... we were blessed with one to love!" Anyone who has ever heard Lauren's story knows that we've seen miracle after miracle in her life. (If you haven't heard her history, you can watch our Defining Moments video. I'd recommend grabbing a box of kleenex first.)

Unfortunately, I sometimes forget about all those miracles when my busy days are filled with appointments, when the sheets are soaked with a formula feed gone wrong, and when the things on my to-do list multiply faster than rabbits. Perhaps I should post my quote about miracles somewhere that I'll see it often.

The picture above was taken nearly five years ago. It was Lauren's first Wednesday night in "big-girl" Bible class, and she's sitting beside her friend Faith. Faith's parents, Murray and Jaime, stood by us when Lauren was born months before we expected. They prayed for her, organized a 24 hour prayer vigil at our church, and shared a special night of songs and prayers in the hospital chapel.

When our girls were about a year and a half old, these dear friends moved halfway across the country. They continued to pray for Lauren, to send us words of encouragement, and to follow her story through online updates.

While we were traveling last weekend, we were blessed to visit with them again. At several points during our conversation that evening, Murray would just look at Lauren and comment on how good it was to see her in person. We all marveled at how far she has come -- how far she's come since the NICU days when she was so sick, how far she's come since every little illness landed her in the PICU, and how far she's come since the days she was tricycling around the cardiac floor in Philadelphia waiting for her new strong heart.

At the same time that Murray and Jaime marveled at seeing Lauren, my family was thrilled to have the chance to meet the newest member of their family. Last Saturday marked six weeks since they were able to bring Dinks home to live with them. It was such a joy to see the giant smiles on her face -- the face we've been praying for, even when they weren't allowed to publicly share her picture and we just prayed for their precious little girl in Ethiopia.

Lord, I pray that I will see our miracles everyday -- the miracles of sweaty kids playing after dinner, the miracles of a child healthy enough to travel, the miracle of a precious child coming home, and even the miracles when I get up to turn off the beeping feeding pump in the middle of the night.

Five miracles -- Eli, Lauren, Dinks, Brennan, and Faith

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Home-therapy, the OT edition

Here is the promised follow-up to the physical therapy post earlier this week. Lauren's OT sessions in the gym often work on core strength and overlap a lot with her physical therapy exercises. She works some on fine motor skills, even though that's not necessarily a big area of weakness for her. She is naturally drawn to activities that draw upon her fine motor skills, and I'll share just a few things we do at home.

Lying on the scooter board while playing with dollhouse people

Multi-tasking: balancing, knitting, and watching TV

Toast for breakfast

She not only built the towers, she photographed them all as well.

Art projects

Knitting a tablecloth

Our backyard (or rather back porch) sandbox

A bit of coloring using an improvised slant board

Friday, June 17, 2011

200 miles (so far...)

I did it!!! This morning's run pushed me over the 200 mile mark for this year! Wow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Read-Aloud Challenge, June 16th

Some weeks are busier than others. I probably don't have enough to share to even warrant a blog post, but I  don't want to miss linking up with my friend Debra's weekly Read-Aloud Challenge at Footprints in the Butter.

Brennan is at Cub Scout Day Camp this week, and therefore I haven't been able to read aloud after lunchtime this week. Unfortunately, our evenings were rather packed as well.

For the big kids, our bookmark has been stuck in The Incredible Journey for the past week -- just two chapters away from the end. I still have to find something to read next. We've enjoyed the past few books, but they haven't really gripped Brennan and kept his attention lately. I need to find something with a bit more action/adventure or boy appeal.

As for Lauren, it's another Junie B. Jones week. I'm pretty sure that I've read nearly every one in the series, but she still enjoys me reading them to her or even just listening to the audiobook versions. She's listened to some of the books so many times that she can correct me if I mix up a phrase or leave out an unimportant word while reading. I have got to climb up into the attic and dig out the copy of  Charlotte's Web that I want to start reading to Lauren; otherwise I might lose the last little bit of sanity I can claim as my own.

Lauren carefully arranged them all before we started reading. Look closely, they are stacked two high.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Home-school, Now Home-therapy?!?

It's been over a month since Lauren has been able to go to her regularly scheduled therapies. I know she missed the day when she spiked a fever, and then she missed while she was in the hospital for 10 days. When she was discharged, the transplant team wanted her to stay at home (i.e. away from germs) until she could follow up with them in a few weeks. At that follow-up last week, her chest x-ray didn't look completely back to normal. It now looks like it'll be the first of July before Lauren's allowed to go back to the gym.

At first, I worried about her missing so much therapy. I worried that I couldn't keep her active enough at home to keep her from regressing. I was wrong. She's perhaps working as hard at home as she was when we rushed out the door each day to get to the gym on time. I don't have any official way of measuring progress, but I think the morning that I caught her climbing on the counter to get something out of the top cabinet is proof enough.

Over the past few weeks, I've been paying attention to what sorts of therapy activities that we can do at home. Most of these have been done without much prompting on my part. There are therapy balls piled beside our TV in the living room and a homemade balance beam in the middle of the carpet. Yesterday Lauren tossed bean bag cubes into a laundry basket, and today she tried to catch a bouncing ping pong ball in the basket.

Today I'll share my photo collection of Physical Therapy activities. (Some of the pictures were taken earlier this year, but she still does most of these things on a somewhat regular basis.)

Balance practice is a lot more fun in a tutu!
Practicing stairs in our one-story house
Bike riding on a rainy day
Big smiles for trips to the playground!
More smiles this morning (and a good ab workout on the swings)

Monday, June 13, 2011

If you want to eat off my floors... should come over this week. I've never seen them cleaner.

On Friday afternoon, I mopped my kitchen and dining room floors. A few hours later, I accidentally knocked a glass baby bottle off the bookshelf and it shattered all over the kitchen floor. I picked up glass shards. I swept up glass shards. I went back over the floor with a whisk broom and dustpan. Then I mopped.

On Saturday morning, I picked up a few crumbs under the dining room table after breakfast and called it good. That evening after dinner, we were clearing the table when a bull (also known Brennan) came charging through the room at top speed, knocked into Tim, and sent two plates, a small bowl, and a glass crashing to the floor. Surprisingly, the one breakable plate survived the fall. Sadly, the glass did not.

We picked up glass shards. I swept up glass shards. My father-in-law tried to vacuum up glass. I ended up on my hands and knees with the whisk broom again. Then I mopped.

Late last night, I happened to think about how it had been more than 24 hours since I mopped the floors...

I came in from picking Addison up after a movie and started fixing the bag for Lauren's feeding pump. As I did so, I was pinching a certain spot on the tubing with one hand while pushing down on a full bag of formula with the other hand. The top of the bag came off and at least 8 ounces of vanilla Pediasure shot across the kitchen counter and landed on the floor.

I love mopping the floor at midnight.

Anyone want to join me for breakfast served on the tile floor this morning? Don't worry if you spill something, I'll probably be mopping today anyway.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal -- June 12, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Places I'm going...
Somehow, once again, I got fooled into thinking, "When summer gets here, everything will slow down and we won't be running around so much." Once again, I was wrong. This week, Brennan will be going to Cub Scout Day camp and Addison has what seems like a never-ending list of Youth Group activities at church. Lauren is still not quite recovered enough from her bout with pneumonia to go back to her regular therapy sessions (PT, OT, and Speech). She was very happy to be allowed to go back to church this morning, and she's looking forward to a trip to the library tomorrow or Tuesday.

This weekend, we're taking a very quick trip to Nashville. We need to help shuttle Addison back from one trip in time to perform in her chorus concert Sunday evening. We're very excited to be going, though, and look forward to worshipping with some old friends of ours.

Things I'm working on...
I was still knitting quite a bit this week, especially while I was reading Junie B. Jones books to Lauren. I was happy with the crocheted baby hats I finished in various sizes, but I decided that the latest pair of socks is not going to fit well at all. Someday I'll gather enough strength to frog them. I need to finish up the last bits and pieces of a few things, and then I can start on a new sweater (for me).

When I wasn't sitting on the couch, I was working on what's probably best referred to as "Late Spring" Cleaning. I still hadn't gotten everything back to a reasonable semblance of order after Lauren's hospital stay. It look a lot better now. The dining room and kitchen floors are particularly sparkling -- between a dropped baby bottle Friday night and I dropped glass Saturday night, I mopped the whole are three times in just over 24 hours.

Books I'm reading...
I'm still working on The Color of Light by Karen White; I think I might have gotten to chapter three. I think the book will be great, but I haven't sat down (by myself) very much lately. I may actually set that book aside to read some books by Alexander McCall Smith. My mother-in-law brought the first two books in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series for Addison and I to enjoy. Yesterday I was happy to find Ken Ham's Already Compromised book about Christian colleges in my mailbox. I also want to learn more about digital photography, and I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of Lauren's language arts curriculum for next year. I can't wait to dig into the teacher's materials for that. So much to read, so little time...

A quote, a video, a link or pic to share...
One of Brennan's last baseball games of the season:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Secrets of the Vine for Women

When Lauren was in the hospital a few weeks ago, Addison told me that "some devo book" came in the mail for me. I had Tim bring it to me, and I actually read most of it before Lauren was discharged. I'd curl up on the couch-bed that was about 6 inches away from Lauren's bed and use a flashlight to read after she fell asleep.

Darlene Marie Wilkinson's book Secrets of the Vine for Women is based on Jesus' words in John 15.
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit." (John 15:1-2, 5, 8 NKJV)
Each chapter begins with the continuing story of a young lady learning from her father as they walked together through his vineyards. The chapters then take the lesson learned in the vineyard and apply it to our spiritual lives. For instance, in one chapter, the father teaches the daughter how to tell which branch will yield the most grapes. It is the branch with the strongest connection to the vine. Similarly, our spiritual harvest is dependent on the strength of our connection with Jesus -- specifically, it's dependent on how much we abide in him.

This book is a quick read, but still both uplifting and challenging. I highly recommend it  -- either to read yourself or to give as a gift. If you'd like, you can download and read chapter one of this book here.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal -- June 5, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

This week I realized that we're finished with our school year. As the regular school based activities wind to a close, it's getting harder and harder to focus on a full homeschool schedule. I've scaled back the assignments so that we'll finish the last odds and ends of a few subjects, continue with a few math lessons each week, and practice our Latin vocabulary so that we don't forget too much. Of course, we'll still be reading a lot -- both independent reading and reading aloud in the afternoons, I intend to keep reading aloud.

In celebration of our "official" summer vacation, I've switched the journal graphic and I'm answering slightly different questions. Be sure to visit The Homeschool Chick if you'd like to join in the journaling fun.

In My Life This Week...
Brennan and Tim went to Cub Scout Resident camp last weekend, and then the rest of the week was pretty uneventful. Lauren's still not allowed out in public so we aren't doing anything much during our days. Frankly, it was so hot here that I'm kind of glad to stay inside where it's cool.

Places I'm going...
Lauren has a cardiology follow-up appointment on Thursday morning. If all looks good, she'll be ungrounded and we can start adding back in our regular activities.

Things I'm working on...
I've had a lot of extra time to blog this week, and I have more post ideas swirling around in my brain (or somewhere in a half-drafted state online). I've also spent many hours either knitting or crocheting while reading. I'm nearly finished with a baby cocoon and a poncho for my new niece that's on the way. I also found a cute hat pattern for her. I really need to start doing some school planning for next year, but my motivation says it hasn't had enough of a vacation yet.

Books I'm reading...
I posted the books that I've been reading aloud here. For myself, I've been spending more time online and less time with actual books. I need to do better at unplugging. I did finish reading Secrets of the Vine for Women by Darlene Marie Wilkinson (review coming soon) and started reading The Color of Light by Karen White.

A quote, a video, a link or pic to share...
Lauren trying out the new hat pattern:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blast from the Past

It seems like I have a bit more time to blog while Lauren's "grounded." (The transplant team wants her to stay at home for a few weeks so that she fully recovers from the pneumonia.)

Today I'm joining in the fun at Debbie's Digest and posting a "Blast from the Past" photo. My dad was scanning some old slides the other night and sent me this picture. It was taken at my grandparent's house, probably just before I started Kindergarten (1978).

Inquiring minds wonder why there's a big stick underneath the Big Wheel. I wonder if I thought I could ride over it. Perhaps it was stuck there to keep me still enough to take a picture. If I remember my childhood stories correctly, I later tripped over the Big Wheel and knocked out my front teeth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Read-Aloud Challenge, June 2nd

I'm once again linking up with my friend Debra at Footprints in the Butter to report what I've been reading aloud to my children.

Addison, Brennan, and I finished My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George this afternoon. Now that we're settling into a rhythm of reading aloud after lunchtime, we can sometimes read two or three chapters in a sitting. I don't know what book is next on our list -- we never did The Incredible Journey and I know we have other options on our shelves.

Lauren's back on her Junie B. Jones kick. Yesterday and today, I read Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha! to her. Twice -- once each day. We've done fairly well reading picture books of my choosing lately (most of which I picked based on the recommendations in Read for the Heart). I need to find a good chapter book  to introduce to her. I remember reading Charlotte's Web to both of the big kids when they were roughly her age. Maybe I'll pull my tattered copy off the shelves once again.

Just outside our front door

The yellow-orange part in the middle of the frame is the bottom side of a baby bird's beak. The gray fuzz that's barely visible to the right of the beak is the back of another bird's head. There are four tiny little ones nestled in a bush right in front of our dining room window. When I rustled the branches to get a picture, they all popped up hoping the mother mockingbird was coming back with dinner.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

365 Drop Out -- Cub Scout Pictures anyway

Somewhere back a month or two ago, life got in the way of my grandest intentions to take (and then share) a picture a day this year. Instead of sweating about not meeting that particular goal, I'll continue taking pictures and sharing them randomly.

Last weekend, Brennan went to Cub Scout Resident camp. I've lost track of the number of activity badges and beltloops that he earned over the four day trip, but I know that he's very proud of his BB and archery pins.


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