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!