Friday, December 28, 2012

New for New Years

I'm not a fan of resolutions. I don't keep them. When I've tried, I've failed miserably. So I decided to ditch them a few years ago. There are things I'd LIKE to begin doing, things I WANT to do differently this coming year....but nothing is set in stone. Nothing is staring me in the face, waiting for me to fail. Thats more motivating for me than setting myself up for pressure and expectations. It creates less stress. And if theres one thing I love, its less stress.

I've been worried as of late. I've been second-guessing myself in so many areas of life. I've been stressing out that I am just not doing this "life" thing the "proper" way. I've been certain my kids aren't learning all they should be in school.....that my efforts to help my son navigate life through the challenge of autism are for naught.....that I am not guiding my daughter on the path of womanhood in the way that will benefit her best....that I am not trying hard enough in my marriage.... I've just been sure that I'm "failing" at life.

I know where those ideas came from. I know who is putting them in my head. And I know at the heart of the matter that none of them are based on fact. Its one big ball of feeling inside of my gut. Gut feelings can suck. They make you feel all queasy and sick-ish inside. I don't like gut feelings. I've got to stop putting so much stock in them.....

I've been worried about my life. And my God has been putting little whispers of love and reassurance into each day. The kind words and actions of my daughter, the spontaneously awesome conversational skills my son will display, the quick kisses and wonderful compliments from my amazing husband....these are the things that are beginning to fill my heart. The words of encouragement that dear friends feel lead to tell me or write to me, not knowing why. These are the reminders of love that are replacing the fearful feelings.

Jesus loves me. He communicates love to me through my family's love toward me, and He loves me deeply in spite of my fears. He loves me in spite of my perceptions of failure. He lifts me up and holds me close, telling me that I am His, and that's enough. I must tune my heart to hear His voice, let Him drown out the lies from the enemy, and let His truth resonate in my heart. In Him, I cannot fail.

Seasons change, calendars flip, and the year passes by. The new year is ahead of us. I make no grandiose promises that I will be different. I make no "plan" of how to change. I simply sit at His feet and soak in the truth that though all the world around me is changing, though the days are passing by faster and faster each year, though there are things I simply won't ever understand having to be a part of my life and past, still there is HIM. Still, unwavering, unchanging, unshakable. There is a newness to each day when given the hope that there really are things that are predictable. There really is One who will never leave us, nor forsake us. As New Years approaches, I choose to dwell on that comforting truth- some things never change.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Passage of Time and a Change In Perspective

Today I looked down at my kitchen floor and saw a dust bunny. And in that glimpse, I was taken back over a year ago to the fall of 2011. I was a brand-new to homeschooling Mama. Still hurt by people's rebuffs and snarky comments about our homeschooling choice. Still very much insecure in my ability as a mother to also be a teacher.

I was visiting with another homeschooling mother, one who was a veteran in her field. She'd been at this gig for years. She'd found her groove, and her confidence in her educational choices wasn't shaken by mere passing remarks. I needed her imput, and I thrived on her support. It was a visit that would benefit only me, of that I was sure we were both aware.

What she was not aware of was my judgemental spirit that day. Being in her house, I saw unkept corners, a few cobwebs, and some dust bunnies under the couch.( Now, as I was so early in my homeschool experience, I was still trying to do it ALL. Clean, cook, laundry, child maintenance, education, marital attention, zero me-time. I was headed pell-mell for burn out; if I would have only acknowledged it!) I was glad this mother did NOT have it all together; she couldn't even keep her house pristine. 'I wouldn't be this messy; at least my house is cleaner, even if I am afraid of homeschooling!' I thought to myself rather pridefully. I judged her based on DUST, which has no lasting affect on a child's education, anyway! What a foolish woman I was in that moment. Foolish for letting pride grab me, foolish for not letting grace dismiss something so trivial.

I went on in my homeschooling career... growing, changing, finding my way and gaining crumbs of confidence as I went. I gradually blossomed from "this is too big for me" into " we can and ARE doing this, and it is amazing". Its been over a year and a grade and a half later.... along the way I have learned to let go the trivial and embrace the important. To sieze the moments of learning opportunity. To be there in comfort for tears of frustration and glory in "lightbulb moments" where learning really clicks. We are finding our way; we are growing, changing, learning- all of us together.

When I looked down today and saw that dust bunny, I smiled to myself. Silly, foolish girl who knew so little of where this journey would lead. My house is dusty, but my kids are learning. My dishes are rarely all the way done, and we sometimes live the whole week from the laundry basket of clean clothes, but my preschooler is beginning to read- of her own desire. This Mama has learned in the last 15 months; dust can be a sign of concentrated effort, and a focus on the things in life that really matter. I'm learning to be proud of my dust, not ashamed by it!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Year of Thankfulness

I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind. Yesterday was the national holiday of thankfulness. It lead me to think about how different my Thanksgiving 2012 was from my Thanksgiving 2011. A whole year has passed between the two, and it feels like I live almost in a different world. So much has quietly, suddenly, slowly and steadily changed. I am thankful for it; its just amazing how long the list is when I take mental review.

There are some obvious things, some trivial things that are different. I'm now homeschooling two at once instead of one. Last Thanksgiving, I was still daring to open my mind and thinking "maybe I can do this homeschool thing after all, but its still up in the air"... this year I am thinking "Well, I could stick to the safe curriculum or I could branch out and create my own thing"...Whether or not I "can do this" is not part of the equation anymore. I am, I can, and we do. :)

Pink Elephant went from being a long haired 3.5 year old to a short-haired 4.5 sassy year old. She has blossomed and developed so much this past year...just a beautiful, emotional little elephant. I am enjoying teaching her new things. The humbling part of being her Mama Elephant these days is her mimicking and scripting of life "When I grow up, I am going to do dishes for my family....have two kids....bake things....homeschool...use a grown up shows....cook dinner..." Its pretty obvious who her role model is these days. Wonderfully terrifying and a huge challenge for me to remain at the feet of Jesus so what she sees modeled is His love in action.

Beautiful Blue Elephant.....ahh. We have gone from frustration to heart break back to frustration over and over concerning him. We went from "he is amazing but WHY is he acting like this?"  to understanding the root of so much is the dx of HFASD with likely SPD. If you understand those initials, you understand what a ride we've been on. If not, God's blessing on you and yours that you don't have to research it and shape your life around it. And I say that with only a few months of comprehension....

See, now we are getting into life-changing things!  We've gone from no job to full-time job. (About to enter into a 60hr work week.) I couldn't be more proud of the way Daddy Elephant has gone to the ends of the earth this year to provide for our herd. He has been my hiding place in the stress of this year. he has done so much; truly whatever it takes to keep us afloat. He is my hero. 

On that note, we have gone from extremely low-budget high carb diets out of monetary necessity to a GFCFSF diet...again, out of necessity. It does wonders for both BE and myself on the health and wellness front. PE and DE are along for the ride, since I am the chief cook and bottle washer around here. On the whole, though I freely admit I have a LOT of weight to lose because of this past year, we are all feeling and eating much more healthy! Even something like a spaghetti dinner (which I didn't know was so bad for me and BE) has a new twist these days. Please don't ask for my soapbox opinion about the gluten consumption of America and its effects. Trust me, you don't want to hear about it.

I have gone from being an emotional wreck (uh-oh, super honesty time. The non-sharing folk are squirming, now.) due to heaps and heaps of stress and my mysteriously over-the-top reactions to situations, to an emotional being who has had her eyes opened to so much. We all have a history; its just some of us have a darker, more difficult past than others. Like it or not, the past has a lasting affect on your present. Its up to each of us to decide if we are going to let it affect our future or not. I've made the steps of deciding that it won't define our herd any longer; its an eye-opening, heart changing, tear gushing, extremely painful, but on the whole very necessary journey. And I am thankful for it!!

We've gone from strain to peace in many of our relationships. There is a lot to be said for honesty, speaking from your heart, and being willing to open yourself up and say what needs to be said before the years pass to the people around you in life. What a relaxing day yesterday was for our herd; there was true peace without a hint of unease. For that journey of growth, I am deeply thankful.

We have gone from comfort zones of "same as it always has been" at a church to a brand new environment with blessed people we are still beginning to meet and understand. It is a change that has touched every member of our family, as we all went through it together in our own ways. The little elephants are loving thier environment. The blessed thing is that nearly everyone who interacts with BE has a background of some form of education that allows them to understand where his motives and behaviors are coming from. Makes for a peaceful day at worship! PE is adoring her teachers and comes home bubbling about the lesson and singing that day's worship songs. Myself and Daddy Elephant; its been interesting, challenging, and different! There is much in the way of preaching that strikes you straight to the heart and causes you to be humble before God. There is also much in the way of me growing theologically, since I was afraid to before. I knew I didn't want God defined as my parents had presented Him. (He has to be more loving than that!) But I wasn't gonna fall for just any old thing, either. I have to really KNOW who He is. And I am beginning to understand what that looks like. What an eye-opening, healing experience!

The truth is, my list could go on and many things and circumstances have changed from one Thanksgiving to the next. It has been, as I commented to my husband this past week, the most challenging year of our marriage so far. Difficult, but good for us all. Change is hard; change is messy. Knowing where your center lies is key. If we didn't have Christ in the mix, this would all have turned out a LOT differently; of that I am completely certain. He remains what I am most thankful for. Not because I am holier-than-thou....if you know me in person, you know thats a laugh. I am most thankful for Jesus because I've been through enough storms in my life to know that He is the only thing that has kept me afloat. I'd have drowned in these floods long ago if it weren't for Him.

What a year....what a difference. What a long, long list to be thankful for! Remember, as you watch the news tonight and see the videos of the people running the Black Friday Kentucky Derby down the electronics isles....there is much, so much, to be thankful for in our lives. And it has nothing to do with our wallets, and everything to do with our hearts.  Official Merry Christmas from our herd to yours, as the season has begun! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Autumn Blur

As I write, its November 1st!! ...Does anyone else feel like you blinked and the year was all but gone? My kids are in the kitchen, stuffing their mouths with Halloween candy. (and after the timer goes off, the candy goes bye-bye and it doesn't return!) .....anyway, its our "day off" in the week, so I have a few minutes to sit down and breathe. I've got so many great pictures of all the fun we had this month, it was time to blog. (On time, for once! lol) So, let us begin......

A fellow homeschooling mama organized a trip to the local fire hall at the beginning of October. (I feel that if I were a more aware mother/teacher I would have already known that Oct was fire safety month...oh, well.)  There was quite a large group there that day, but since I've not asked permission from fellow moms, you'll only see my kiddos throughout this post...

The firehouse tour was a lot of fun... my elephants really enjoyed themselves.

As I mentioned earlier, we have a "day off" once a week. With Daddy Elephant's new work schedule, Thursdays are now like our Saturdays. We spend the whole day together, doing something as a family. One of our Thurs activities this month was our annual "Leaf Walk". We are blessed to live in a beautiful park of the country, with some great local parks. Autumn is my favorite season, so every chance I get to be outside soaking it in, I'm game! Here we are on our walk...enjoy the wonderful fall scenery!
I love the above picture...sweet memory for me. :)
And these following pictures....well, I just want to freeze these moments in time. Why can't my elephants just stay this age? So delightful!
What did we do with all the pretty leaves we collected? Crafts, of course!! I showed the kid mulitple things we could do using leaves and pinecones. Then, we decorated our dining area for the fall!

We also got the chance to go to a corn maze/fall festival with some great friends....the kids had a great time!

We tried out trick-or-treating for the first time this year... our first stop was Grandma and Palpa's house!
The elephants had some snacks, and photo ops of their costumes before we headed out to gather loot...

(Yes, it was chilly, and Pink Elephant is getting over an illness, so we had to incorporate a hood into the fairy princess costume!)
Of course we balanced out all the fun of October with some learning....
Our Daniel Boone craft while we studied KY was a coon-skin cap!

Its hard to believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner!  Happy Autumn, from our herd to yours!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Been A While? What We've Been Up To!

Okay, I know its been MONTHS since I blogged. But I made the choice a long time ago that what we do day to day is more important than any of my "extra" when school started up with full force on August 1st, we jumped right in, and E.T. sat quietly waiting to be updated.  What have we been up to? PLENTY! Rather than write paragraph after paragraph reviewing our summer segway into fall, I thought pics with brief captions would be more fun! So, here we go.....enjoy our snapshots of life here in the herd!
First Day Photo Shoot...we are real fancy round here!
With the on-set of rainy fall weather, we made certain to take advantage of glorious puddles! Look at P.E.'s sweet!
We've made sure to have plenty of goofy fun.... 
We HAVE done lots of educational studying the Water Cycle. (Making a cloud rain experiment I found on Pinterest!)
We had a "Johnny Appleseed Day" and made apple pies!
We played "Apple Tree Math" (Thanks again, Pinterest!!)

"Pink Elephant Appleseed"
"Blue Elephant Appleseed"
Proof that we do get down to business and push some pencils! ....Just in a fun format! :)
And there you have it.....our herd doing our thing! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Water for Elephants

My Blue Elephant is a fish. And I realize that unless you understand the theme of this blog (....its pretty obvious, people!) then that first sentence may sound a bit odd.

This summer, my BE's love of the water has intensified to the highest level! He wants to be in the water every day, all day long. We don't have more than the standard Wal-mart pool, so its the grandparents' awesome pool to the rescue! B.E. loves to do cannon balls, splash wars, and play "Mean Squid" with Mama and Grandma. He never wants to take a break, even when he's drooping from exhaustion.
I thought it only right to monopolize on his love of the water by signing him up for "official" swim lessons.
Today was his first day! (Waiting for the lesson to begin.)

I was extremely proud of the great job he did today. The teacher asked "Who knows how to float?" BE's hand shot up. "I DO!!!" and showed them how its done, just like a pro.
When the class was over, Blue Elephant looked a little down. Come to find out he was upset that they didn't learn the backstroke already!! He perked right up after I explained that we would be coming back for the rest of the week, and that yes, one day he WILL learn how to do the backstroke! :)

Just keep swimming, Blue Elephant....just keep swimming!