Thursday, November 20, 2014

Past the 3R's

Welcome to our home, our family!
I am proud of this.  It makes my Momma heart beam with joy.  I also debated on posting it because my 3rd grader wrote this on our chalkboard that everyone sees when they come into our house.  I debated because he isn't where a 3rd grader should be academically.  He struggles with learning.  Even with homeschooling, daily learning is hard for him.  I was fearful of being judged, because I can't get him to where he *should* be.  I feel the pressure  of his struggles.  And I felt terrible, when he called me out so happy about what he had written, when my stomach twisted when I only saw all the spelling errors.  The things we have went over and over and over and over...

Then I stopped myself.  Because sometimes I get so wrapped up in my children learning the academics that I miss the real life stuff.  I like to call them lessons for the heart.  When the academics are long gone when they are done with high school or higher level learning... it is what will remain.  It is the weight on my shoulders that I feel the most.  The weight that causes me to my knees and pray.  Pray for guidance and direction from the Heavenly Father on raising these precious babies for His glory... not mine. 

I stop myself and look at the beauty in this.  This is my son, his heart of hospitality.  His heart to serve and love.  Where addition makes so sense because it doesn't matter.  He is an incredibly hard worker.  He will work with his Dad for hours doing work that would tire any adult.  He has such a gift of hard work and love and care.  He is so special to his Daddy and me. 

So I am leaving this up, as is.  And I am praising God for my precious child who has taught me so much about serving God. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our weekend as Civil War Reenactors

Let me set the stage for you.  By nature, we do not devour history in great volumes.  We do not watch history documentaries just for fun.  Yes, we home school our children but we just don't dive into history how some people do, especially people who do reenactments.  We have a son who enjoys history to this level.  We have a friend who is a civil war reenactor.  Therefore, this crazy weekend has become a memory in our lives.  Yes, we took 4 kids into something that we had never seen or done before... and we lived to tell about it.  Barely.

Well, I barely survived.  But now that I have fully recovered I can tell you that it was a great experience.  One that our family will never forget.  So I'm going to write it all here, so we never forget.  Even though I may want too.  Kidding, again.  Kinda.  From me, it was a tough weekend.  If you  haven't meant our 2 year old, Nathan...then you probably don't understand.  If you have then you know my total and utter exhaustion.  Well because, you see, there were no strollers during the civil war era.  It was tough for Sam because he knew it was tough for me and he was off at war fighting in battles.

We weren't sure what to pack.  We seriously had never even been to a reenactment before.  Ok, stop laughing.  Or crying.  We are crazy.  We know this.  We knew that we would be sleeping in a small canvas tent.  Yes, like the ones here...
The boys were supposed to sleep in the one with no sides.  We put it up and when the time came, Isaiah couldn't do it.  The big boys slept in our friends tent.  The other 4 of us shared an air mattress (shhhh! I know I know! We weren't supposed to have one! But don't tell!).  Sam and I were amazed at how easily it went up compared to our tent which is at least 4 times larger.  5 minutes and it was up!  When we got to the museum, we were given a packet of information.  Ahh yes, the do's and don'ts that we had no idea about!  I may have started to hyperventilate as I read the list that we were not going to be in compliance with.  I hate being in trouble, I'm a people pleaser and when I read that the museum staff will be checking I may have panicked.  I was assured we would be fine.  I wasn't sure.  (We were fine!)  We arrived Friday in the evening, set up our tent, packed it with our air mattress, cooler and bag of clothes.  The big boys and Sam were given their clothing for the weekend.  We are so very grateful for the unit that we went with!  They really went above and beyond to make us feeling included and dressed us well.  It was a rough night.  Nathan was wired, and didn't fall asleep until after 11pm.  I didn't sleep well.  And when I did fall asleep finally...

The 6am wake up call began.  With the drum and fife.  I wanted to stick my head out of the tent and tell, "We have kids!  And one was up way to late and I am tired!!!"  But, we are at war people!  There were drills to do, gun powder to roll, etc.  And really, it made the experience quite authentic.  I can say this now.  Not then, not even the first week after.  I almost wouldn't mind my alarm clock to be the drum and fife.  Unfortunately, today it is a 2 year old boy who usually doesn't wait till 6am. 

Nathan walking by the mess tent. 
So Saturday.  Saturday at 6am.  We still aren't sure at all what we are doing.  I just see that I am one of the two or three still in my 'normal' clothes.  Sam dresses in his and I try not to laugh.  I do, because he is just as uncomfortable as me.  This whole experience is pushing us to limits that we didn't know existed.  Then we realize it is breakfast.  The unit we were with was awesome, have I said that?  Can I call them our unit? SO, our unit had breakfast ready.  I worried about Isaiah who eats nothing that looks a little out of the ordinary.  We were living very unordinary this weekend.  I had packed food he likes, like plain crackers.  Hey!  Guess what?  We were the reenactors, so we ate how they ate...lived how they lived.  Guess what?  No paper plates.  No plastic silver ware.  Learning curve.  The sweetest lady ever gave us tin plates and tin cups (ready... no sippy cups.) and forks.  Isaiah gave a huge sigh of relief when we walked to the mess tent and there were plain bagels!! 

After breakfast, we were still walking around a bit aimlessly.  Sam and the boys are fully dressed, ready to go off for drill.  Myself and the littles are still in our 'modern' day clothing, feeling like the odd men out.  Let me tell you, reenacting is serious stuff.  A serious hobby.  I am so thankful that our unit was so gracious to us newbies.  Can you believe they asked us if we were coming back?  We didn't scare them off from us permanently.  Anyway, back to the guys getting ready for drill.  We have no guns at our house.  We aren't hunters.  Sam and I have never been.  Other than firing a bb gun we are fairly certain Sam had never fired a gun before.  Before they left for drill our friend gave Sam a crash course in the orders that Sam would hear and what they meant, how to hold is gun in formation.  All that good stuff. 
Sam getting ready to go to drill in the morning. 

While Sam was gone, we got dressed.  We needed to be ready by 9am for when the museum opened and the public would come in.  I was nervous.  I didn't want them to ask me questions!  Thankfully the cute kids dressed in civil war era clothing didn't bring many questions, I'm guessing the people were awe struck at the adorable kids.  I chased Nathan and watched him climb anything and everything. 

There were so many fences to climb.

The guys came back from drill and reassembled to line up for the first battle.  We weren't supposed to wear watches so I am not sure how we knew what time it was but they lined up roughly an hour before the battles.  This time the boy were able to go and participate.  Isaiah was a runner to carry messages between the units and Turner was an ice angel that helped with the medical team to attend to wounded soldiers on the field. 
Turner loved every moment.  We knew he would, he was looking forward to living this experience more than the rest of us combined.  Isaiah was feeling more like the rest of us.  Crazy nervous because we had no idea what was going on!  Isaiah did not enjoy the first battle, and would hang back with me for the rest of the weekend.  We aren't sure why, maybe because he saw the reality of it?  That real people fight in war?  Maybe it was the noise? Once the guys left, Hannah had overheard a couple of the ladies talking about doing their hair.  She didn't miss the opportunity to ask if she could have her hair done too!

She sat so well for the whole time!  Her hair looked adorable!  She felt like a princess! 

Once the men came back from the battle, lunch was fruit!  Lots of watermelon.  My kiddos were so happy with that!  I can't remember for certain, but I think Sam had to clean his gun after every battle.  It was no easy task!  He had roughly an hour before he needed to line up for the second battle of the day.  The second battle would take place in the village.  He was still learning the ropes of how this all works!  He was amazed at the number of people that were there.  Both reenactors and watching the battles.  In the meantime... I begged and pleaded with Nathan to take a nap.  He was up really late the night before and then he was up really early with the wake up call.  There was too much to do, too much to see.

"I promise Mom, I am not tired."
When Sam was at camp between the battles he must've notice the look of desperation on my face and kept an eye on the older 3 while I layed down with Nathan in our tent.  I was battling a killer headache.  And battling a rowdy toddler!  We both fell asleep, I woke up to Sam nudging me that it was time for him to go.   Nathan slept through the entire battle through the village.  There were lots of loud noises and he slept through it all.  I sat.  And didn't chase.  See...

It started raining during the second battle.  Well, not full out rain.  But the rain that barely falls and just lingers in the air leaving everything damp.  I tried to not feel discouraged but trying to keep everyone dry so we can wear our clothing another day and in a very small tent.... insanity.  Sam was really so helpful during dinner time.  Ever heard the term unglued?  I was feeling quite unglued at this point.  There were only flaps on our tent, no zippers so kiddos would be playing on the air mattress and suddenly a sleeping bag would be pushed out and getting wet.  I tried so hard not to lose it, because I really do want my kids to remember the awesomeness that this weekend was.  So maybe I should delete this section of the post???  Anyway... Sam needed to clean his gun.  I laid on the air  mattress that at this point became a bounce thingamajig.  I just closed my eyes and prayed.  Prayed for the rain to stop, the head ache to disappear and just peace to rest in the tent.  Here I am in this makeshift bounce house, sleeping bags flying out of the tent, kids flying every which way... me saying "this isn't our test! stay away from the walls! don't break it!"  And then I start this conversation in my mind.  Yes, I know.  I am crazy.  While it is not officially confirmed... if you know would agree!  So I start thinking how I just need to get to the van.  I need to turn it on and have power.  I need to plug in my phone, call my Mumma kinda power.  The rain has picked up, it is to a dull roar now.  And I am no longer able to contain the children to this small space.  Sam is off cleaning his gun.  And I suddenly just start throwing what I can in my rather large Thirty-One purse.  My destination?  The van.  Then a hotel.  Somewhere other than the tent, which was one rather stuffy with all the bounce house shenanigans going on.  It is ok to laugh.  I am too.  Now.   Now that I can reflect.  In the moment I may have been crying.  But now, laughing.  So I start walking to the van with 4 kids in tow, I am not sure where Sam is.  But as this point, all I can think about is my rusty old mini-van.  Comfort.  Familiarity.  My van.  By the grace of God, Sam intercepts me on my 1/2 mile hike to I wasn't sure where.  I didn't park the van, Sam did.  I had no idea where it was.  He said the glorious words, "Stop! I am going to get the van, we are going to stay here."  I didn't care where. Even if it was to an awesome home of people we had just met.  So the kids and I hid out in this house on the museum grounds while we waited for my rusty van to pull up.  I have no pictures, but you will never know if I was crying because of the rain or else.  I can't even tell you how well I slept that night.  And the house we stayed?  I felt like I knew her for years.  We talked so effortlessly.  And when my kids were at their breaking point, and she saw them not at their finest.... it was ok.  We waited through the rain the next morning.  Sam and the other guys headed back to camp while we remained at the house.  Once it was just after lunch time and my T-man just couldn't wait another minute to get back to the craziness... we headed back for the last battle of the weekend.  Nathan absolutely protested about even entering the tent once we arrived back at camp.  There was NO way he was getting dressed.  By the time I had even made it back to the tent, Turner had already changed and was on his way to the battle.  The other three and I went and watched, in our 'normal' clothing.  Nathan wanted to run, as usual.  And the noises were intense.  At the end of the battle we stood around the band and listened to them play.  Then headed back to camp to begin the packing up.  Thankfully we packed light so packing wasn't too difficult.  Someone in our unit asked if we would be doing this again while we were taking down tents.  At the time I said, "NO WAY! I am going to go home and drink some wine to distress from this!"  In my defense, we brought 4 kids.  One of which is on the wild side.  I woke up Monday morning thinking I would go from a run to not being able to move from holding/wresting him all weekend!!

Ok.  So now we are a few weekends out.  I've had time to fully recuperate.  I think.

It was a wonderful experience.  We met awesome people.  We learned things we would've never learned had we not been thrown into that environment.  I now have a board on pinterest labeled "civil war" for sewing our own things.  I find myself looking in consignment shops looking for material or whatever I can use IF, a big "IF" we were to do this again.  I may even have some material stored up.  But don't tell.  Because then I'd have to admit I liked the experience and I still feel a little crazy from it all.  It was a great experience!  I totally forgot to write about how my boys had a very hard time being with the Confederates when we live in the north.  Maybe for another day!  And I think living during the Civil War for a weekend counts as history for a semester!

I'm attaching a few pictures of Sam in battles that a totally awesome lovely woman in our unit took!  I never really made it to the battles to watch, so I am so grateful for these pictures!  And I am so thankful for Sam, so really had to learn so much.  What a fun experience!! 
Nathan playing the drums!!

 There are not enough words I can write about the unit we were with.  They took care of us so well, we were safely tucked under their wings for this whole experience!  It was awesome.  Amazing. We are so grateful!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Scale and Happiness

I have been avoiding doctors visits for the better part of two years.  Not because I am afraid of bad news, but because I am afraid of the scale.  I went through a time in my life when I would weigh myself multiple times a day.  Working out and running, striving for a lower number on the scale.  Some where along the way I started to believe I would find happiness in the lower number.  I have been very blessed in my life with parents who have and do love me where I am.  I am blessed with a husband who loves me more than I can even fathom.  I don't know why after the birth of our 3rd baby that I suddenly struggled so much with being skinny enough, looking for happiness here.  When I look back, I have no reasons.  It didn't matter how low that number got on the scale, how much I starved my body of needed nutrients.... it was never enough.

I started experiencing pain when I ran, I hated getting out of bed.  I was sad.  I made an appointment to go to the doctors to talk about depression.  My fear wasn't in talking with the doctor about despression (something a lot of Christians claim is taboo) but my fear was in the scale.  Eating so little for days before the appointment hoping I would happy with the number on the scale.  I chose my clothes carefully, you know...the ones that were lights.  I felt so crazy.  Maybe I am not the only one?

Sam had the talk with me.  I needed to stop, I needed to stop counting calories. Stop stepping on the scale.  He was worried, scared.  People prayed fo rme.  I don't remember much of the time after that.  I believe I quiet everything cold turkey.  Exercise, the scale, and the calorie counting.

Then I started feeling better.  I started running again.  Running for the joy of moving, not to burn the calories from the cookie I just ate.  I shared with close friends to be accountable.  I knew there was a balance and I began my journey to find it.

I have avoided going to the doctors for more than a year because I didn't want to step on the scale.  I have been back to running and exercising and have not stepped on the scale once.  I knew I needed to go to the doctors, I am not getting any younger and my age is approaching my mom's when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was sitting in the waiting room beginning to panic.  I had no idea what that number would be, so I sent a message to a dear friend.  "Do I face the scale or turn away?"  I decided to face the scale head on.  I kept repeating, "My worth and happiness is not found in the number I will see on the scale."  I will admit that I still had an inner battle as the nurses recorded the number.  I sat in the room waiting, having this inner dialoge about that 3 digit number.  Asking God's forgveness for caring about it.  Asking him to help me continue moving forard on this journey of healing.  The number shows that I am healthy and strong.  Nothing else.

Today, I find my happiness in Christ.  His faithfulness.  His love for me. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 - The Year of EMBRACE

Two weeks ago I was talking with a friend about joy.  Being deep down joyful about my life.  I feel like I'm always yearning for me.  I'm always running, chasing more.  More joy, more happiness... always wanting more.  It is no lie that I have always struggled with contentment.  We live off one teacher salary, paying for two Master degrees while homeschooling 4 kiddos.  We don't own a house and my van has significant rust (ah, holes).  So sometimes I feel, "Woe to me."  And I start sinking down in the pit of discontement.  Oh, look at that nice house.  Oh, look! A new van!  Yes yes, it all runs through my mind.  If I was being honest with you, more often that I'd care to admit to you.

You know, I love friends who aren't afraid to say the stuff that needs to be said.  The stuff that you want to say but if you do, you might want to hide behind the corner after?  Those are the friends that the Bible challenges us to have!  So my friend says, "April, what if deep down joy is all around you."

Stop. Deep breath.

Joy.  All around me.

Then she says, "All you have to do is embrace it."


It's true.  God has provided me with unimaginable riches, that are so so undeserved. 

It's all right here.  Around me.  All I have to do is embrace it.  God did not waste any time helping me learn these sweet lessons over the last two weeks.  The very next day my wheezy baby ended up in the ER to get some much needed oral steroids.  And you know what I did?  I stopped, and embraced.  Because he bounced back in record time.  When we hit a cold streak that left me cold to the bone? And frozen pipes and a waterfall washer?  I stopped and embraced.  Because, again, God provided a "cold" day for Sam and he was home to deal with it.  When we discovered a hydrocele on my poor baby, I stopped and embraced.  Because we have health insurance and awesome health care.  And when I couldn't leave the sofa for a day because I was sick, I embraced.  Because it was a weekend, and my husband took care of everything.  When we trekked through lake effect snow bands to head to doctors appointments, I embraced and trusted Him. 

So rather than chasing joy, running ever after it.  I am practicing to STOP and embrace.  Embrace what God has given me.  To stop and drink deep from the joy He has so lavishly poured out on my life.

So this year, please join me.  Stop, and embrace.  Stop running.  If you are like me, you are only going to tire yourself chasing something that isn't ahead of you...because it is the here, the now...all around you. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Farewell 2013

At the end of a year I like to write down high/low moments and then a list of goals for the following year.  Not so much resolutions, but something to work towards. I've been journaling about this thought with our big boys this week also.  Writing a Christmas letter always gets the ball rolling. 

I have a strong dislike for odd numbers.  So I am quite happy to be back in even number year territory again!

Winter/Spring was probably my worst homeschooling time.  I felt like a constant failure, I was coming to grips with ADHD being very real for our family.  I was learning how to cope with outbursts and wild energy.  I was learning that me yelling was not helping the situation, ANY situation for that matter.  The winter was long with my husband coaching basketball. 

The spring brought running.  Buying running shoes for my boys so we could run together.  I had no idea how awesome this would be.  I am really bummed that we didn't keep it up.  I told Turner that this year, we are going to run a race together.  We connected out on runs in the morning.  I honestly would've stayed snuggled in my bed next to Sam if it weren't for him running it all dressed ready to go.  I was surprised that he was my natural runner, the one that battles asthma.  We held hands on our runs and talked, when we could.  I can't help but smile just thinking back to those precious moments I shared with him, while we were both learning and experiencing growing pains as God worked to mold us to be more like Him! 

I learned to let go and just roll with the punches.  I have always been so uptight and one to hold a grudge.  I really focused this last year on letting go.  Forgiving.  Saying it over and over and over again, "I forgive, I forgive, I forgive." I kept practicing until my thick noggin caught on.  Forgiveness and letting go seem to go hand in hand.  A lesson that I will continue to work on!

I felt such distance from God this year and I had a friend whip me into shape.  Thankful.  Thankful for people that I can be real with and who step up and tell me to get with the program. 

Felt the heartache of friendship lost.  I still feel the void.

I watched my oldest rely unwavering on the Lord.  It was moving to say the least.  And I still look back at the moment and praise God for the blessing that he is to our family.  I often tell Sam that I feel like the kids teach us far more than what I teach them! 

Sam and I grew so much closer over the last year.  In the midst of struggle within our family, our bond strengthened.  And I so thankful for that man! 

I love looking back on the year and rejoicing at all that God has done, because really... hindsight is 20/20 and I may not understand it all at the time but looking back, it all clicks!

Next up...some goals for this year.  :)