Friday, July 30, 2010

Observing Tender Mercies

"Mom...you look like an egg today!" These were the words of Luv Bug this morning. It really only threw me for a loop, for just a moment. It didn't take me long to realize that she was referring to the yellow and white striped shirt I am wearing today. I replied, "You're right! I do kinda' look like a fried egg, don't I?" She smiled in agreement. It was a great little conversation. You know...one for the book of "Things I Never Thought Someone Would Say To Me". HEE HEE She cracks me up CONSTANTLY! I am ever grateful for Luv Bug's ability to entertain and tell it like it is! She IS her mother's daughter! Just like me, in every way! We (myself and the 5 kiddo's), all piled into the van today, for 2 appointments for Wiggle Bug. He had a weight check today (he didn't gain but he didn't lose either, so I'll take it), and an appointment to pick up his new "Super Shoes" (leg braces). I am happy to say the children were very well behaved today, as they usually are, and that the day went well. We met a wonderful lady named Max, at the orthotist's office. She instantly loved and adored the children and played with them and held them. Such a sweet person! I like meeting people like her! She spoke so kindly to me and the children, and in a way, was a reminder from my Heavenly Father, that He thinks I am doing okay. Just like the lady I saw walking by my house as I left yesterday. She was pushing a FOUR SEAT STROLLER (just like I do, sometimes.) I stopped as I drove by her, to tell her that I have one too, and to ask her if she lives nearby. She lives in a different part of our neighborhood. I told her that I have 5 sweet babies, and asked how many she has. She said "I have SIX!" Sweet! (She was very nice, and we visited for a second, and then went on our way.) I took that, as a reminder of our Father in Heaven's sense of humor, and of His firm belief that I am NOT crazy! :0) LOL These are what I call tender mercies from the Lord. As I drove away, I whispered a prayer of gratitude and told Him that I got His message! I really believe that Heavenly Father speaks to us in small, subtle ways. We just have to be observant of His tender mercies! They are there! :D)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keep Prayin'...Please!

I am drained! My health isn't so hot lately, but more importantly there's still a lot going on with Ladybug's health! When I started to write this post, I started writing all the details, and then...I just decided not to. Personal struggles are SO hard! Especially when you struggle for your children! Especially...when you struggle to help them with things they, themselves, don't even understand or comprehend. I am Ladybug's advocate, as I am for each of our children. I am her voice! She can't speak for herself. She's so meek, and so mild. Her body is broken...and I am trying SO hard to find answers that can fix it. So, again I ask for your prayers for her. She has a few new diagnoses coming. We know what 2 of them are. The last one, involves some blood work that came back abnormal. We await a call from the Rheumatologist, to hear more about the results, and when he wants to see her again. Apparently, he needs some more information about her symptoms and medical history "before he makes a diagnosis". I am stressed out about it all! That's the honest truth. My body doesn't like stress, and it's paying me back for all of my worry! Please...keep prayin' for our family!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Love Is a Circle

Yesterday we had a really fun Family Home Evening together! Our lesson was about family unity. The kids really seemed to enjoy the lesson and understand it. We looked at lots of different pictures of various kinds of families, and we talked about what the children observed about each family, and about what makes a family. Then I asked them to notice how closely the members of each family stood together, in each family photo. We talked about "sticking together" and being on the same team, then to illustrate this point, we made a paper chain, that had little, colorful people to represent each member of our family. We put the paper chain together, into one, big circle, and I asked the children for suggestions of things that will keep us together. They suggested: kindness, obedience, love, and faith and we wrote those words on the chain links. So hanging up on the wall in our kitchen, is a paper chain with little, brightly colored people on it. It's there to remind us of the beauty of our family, that we are all on the same team, and that our goal is to be a family, together, forever! :D)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wow...What a Mission!

I have been pondering my mission, lately, as I have been filling out my 6 mo. Compass. (I hope my friend Celeste won't mind me linking to her blog, here. This is such great information!) The Compass, is a self-initiated, 6 month plan for my education, where I have listed observations about myself, in the following areas:

* My Strengths
* My Top 5 Personals Classics
* Areas I Need to Strengthen
* Skills I Want/Need to Learn
* Books I Want to Read
* My Mission

I have sat down, many times, and have done some real soul searching, about what my mission is in this life. Every time I have pondered this ever important question, it always comes down to one, main thing...PARENTING. Up until now, when I would come to that conclusion...I would continue on searching, with the thought "But, there MUST be more than that!" I know many other people who have a clear idea of their missions in this life, and many of them involve something more than being a parent. I myself, have a few talents, which I will say, I am pretty good at. I write poetry, I dance (not as much as I used to, but there is still much I can offer. Tap is my ultimate favorite, and I grew up competing, performing and teaching.), I am an all-around creative girl, and I ADORE the foster care community, and am still in a position of influence there. (I facilitate a foster parent support group, in my community, once a month.) In essence, I have been putting a bit of pressure on myself, to be MORE than my Father in Heaven needs/wants me to be. (Does anyone besides me, sense that I have been trying to "keep up with the Jones', a little bit? LOL) Umm...yeah! :) Well, I read a few things yesterday, that have helped me understand my mission more fully! Nicholeen Peck has inspired me, yet again! I remembered, that at her seminar (which I attended a while ago), she mentioned something she calls a "Master Mission." You've got to check out her book here. All parents have a "Master Mission." A "Master Mission", combines these 8, individual missions:

1. Feed the Hungry
2. Clothe the Naked
3. Heal the Sick
4. Comfort the Lonely
5. Teach the Ignorant
6. Liberate the Captive
7. Create Beauty
8. Preach the Gospel

All I have ever wanted to be in my life, is a wife and a mother. And those 2 things are, in fact, the MOST important things I could be doing in my life!! If ever I feel overwhelmed, (Who? Me? Never!), it's okay. :) I have 8 reasons to be overwhelmed sometimes! (Technically, if you think about it, I have 40 reasons to be overwhelmed. I am doing all 8 things for 5 children...who I adore, by the way!) LOL But, here's the really great part! I have a personal Savior, even Jesus Christ, who will never leave me alone with this awesome responsibility. In fact, He has given me a wonderful husband, who is a wonderful father to our children! Where much is given, much is required...and I have been given SO much! My family is pretty special! I am surrounded by some of my Heavenly Father's most valiant spirits! So in the end, if all I ever do in this life, is to feed, clothe, heal, comfort, teach, liberate, create beauty and preach the gospel...I am okay with that! :) And if my children learn to do those things, then my mission is accomplished! I have learned that I have the power to influence generations...through them! That's one pretty sweet mission! Wow! :0)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ingredient Review

Today I will be reviewing some ingredients that I'd like to understand better and/or put into practice for our upcoming "Season of Learning!" These ingredients are as follows:

Ingredient #38- The Central Classic
Ingredient #17- The Field Trip
Ingredient #16- The Binder
Ingredient #14- Summers
Ingredients #'s 6, 7 and 8- The 6 mo. Purge, The 6 mo. "No!" and The 6 mo. Inventory

I will let you know what I learn! :D)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sharing Our Plan

I have had a few requests to share our "Structure Time Not Content" schedule, and also our Obedience Bugs chart and our Chore Certificates. Suffice it to say, that my computer is being temperamental today and for whatever reason, won't let me upload them here. So I will describe these forms and charts to you. First off, let me just say that I went into the "documents" section of my Microsoft Word system in my computer, where I create every chart or system that I need for my family. I have used some of the templates that have been shared by other people, but many times I make my own. The "Add a Table" feature in MS Word, is one I use a lot. (And by the way, I have created a "TJEd Stuff" file, where I keep all of my charts, schedules, forms, quotes to memorize, copies of things that I find on the internet to download and help us in our studies, etc. I really recommend you keep everything in one place.)

Chore Certificates- I made a grid or "table" with 10 boxes across and 8 boxes down, for a total of 80 boxes. (So far, I have about 75 chores on the chart.) At the top, it says "Chore Certificate for_______. Add in the child's name. In each box, I have typed in a chore, skill or duty that I would like my children to learn as they grow. (Color Coded by subject or area of the home.) These chores, skills or duties are as follows.

Morning and Eve. Prayers Tidy Room Groomed, Dressed, Teeth Brushed
De-Clutter Bathroom Clean Bathroom Sink and Mirror Clean Tub Clean Toilet

Rinse Dishes Wash Dishes Load Dishwasher Unload Dishwasher Clear Table
Wipe and Polish Table Sweep Floor Spot Mop Floor Mop Floor
Wipe Down Counters Wipe Down Cupboards Wipe Down Oven Snack Prep
Cold Meal Prep Hot Meal Prep Baking w/Mom Follow Recipe
Clean Fridge Organize Drawers Organize Cupboards

Sort Laundry Fold and Put Away Laundry Load Washer Load Dryer
Wipe Down Washer and Dryer Bring Laundry Baskets up/down stairs

Self Care Grooming (these are for learning to care for their own skin, nails, hair, etc.)

Unload Groceries Wipe Down Pantry and Shelves Organize Canned Food Grocery List Prep
Help w/ shopping

Help plan FHE Memorize A of F (articles of faith) Scripture Mastery Read w/Parent
Write w/ Parent Learn Primary Songs Learn Hymns Personal Scripture Study

Tidy Backyard Pick Weeds Work in Garden Sweep Porches (front and back)
Spray Off Porches (front and back) Mow Lawn Rake Rocks

To Go Routine (everything to do before we go somewhere) Answer Phone Take a Message
Tidy Garage Deep Clean Fridge Clean Out Van Church Duties Keep Commitments Babysitting Lead Music Play Piano Play Guitar Public Speaking (obviously, this is our Misc. section)

The children receive a sticker in the box of each chore they have been "certified" in. This gives them that sense of accomplishment, while also helping me to remember which child needs to be taught how to do what. Another purpose of this chart will be to stave off any complaints of "I don't know how to do it!" Their chart will prove otherwise, and as parents, we will have a positive response to that complaint..."Look at your Chore Certificate! It says that you are an official and certified "Bed Maker", etc.!

Time Not Content Schedule-
Here, you will have to picture a simple schedule format, which we found as a template that someone had shared on MS Word (where you can click on "New Document"...instead, search through "schedules" down the left hand side and find one that will work for you. If you don't have MS Word, I am sure you can find something similar or create your own.) :) We have 4 categories listed on our schedule, and while it sounds complicated, it's very simple. We wanted a place to see a "basic" schedule that applies to every day (obviously, there will be little changes here and there), and we wanted to see our Weekly Schedule, and also a Morning Kidschool List and a list of topics to choose from for our Weekly Couples Gospel Study. So here's our schedule:

6 a.m. Mom up, prayers, scriptures, grooming, tidy room, etc. (Kids also up on Weds. due to early therapy)

6:30 a.m. (Flush lines, and un-hook feeds for babes)

7 a.m. Kids Morning Routine (prayers, beds, teeth, dressed--Baths if needed)

(7 :30 a.m.--Breakfast for kids on Weds.)

8 a.m. Breakfast/Clean Up/ Morning Meds./Life Skills (On Weds. Therapy Begins)

9 a.m. Kidschool (this is where our Morning Kidschool List comes in as follows: Prayer, Pledge, Song, Scripture, Devotional, Shout Out/Motto. These things are listed in a small box off the right side of our basic schedule.)

10 a.m. Family Work til' Noon (lunch time) (on Weds. til' 11:30- lunchtime due to more therapy)

12:30 p.m. Nap time for the Babes/ Quiet Time for 7 and 5 1/2 yr. olds)

1:30 Free Time Begins and lasts til' 4:30 p.m. (or starting at 2:30 when therapy ends on Wed.)

4:30 p.m. Dinner Prep for Kids (quick clean, wash hands, set table)

5 p.m. Dinner/Clean Up

6 p.m. Unstructured Family Time for 30 min.

6:30 p.m. Family Reading Time (30 min.) if on Friday--Family Game Time for 1 hour

7 p.m. Bedtime Routine: Obedience Bugs (affectionately called Bugs and Kisses at our house, since they get a Hershey Kiss if they earned their bug for the day), Hoorays (we take turns cheering each other on for jobs well done that day), Beans (add more beans to our Bean Counter jar), Prayer, Scriptures, Brush Teeth, Jammies, Med.'s, Tuck In

7:45 p.m. Hook up babes to feeding pumps (tube feeds to start no later than 8 p.m.)

On Weds. evenings after babes feeds are hooked up, we will have Couples Gospel Study for 30 min. (This is listed in a box on the right side of our basic schedule) Gospel Study Topics include:

Faith Charity Joy Nature of God Atonement of Christ Sacrifice Service Obedience Fasting and Prayer Baptism Sacrament Repentence Creation Exaltation Free Agency Gratitude Immortality and Eternal Life Forgiveness Grace Happiness Inspiration Justice and Mercy Love Light of Christ Marriage Reverence Worship Zion

Our Weekly Schedule is a list of things that need to occur on specific days of every week. For example:

Sunday: Church from ___ to___. FEC from 4-4:30 p.m. Mentor Sessions (5-10 min./child) One hour total...til' 5:30 p.m.

Monday: FHE 6-6:30 p.m.

Tues., Weds., Thurs.: Family Reading Time 6-6:30 p.m.

Friday: Family Game Night 6-7:30 p.m.

Saturday: Date Night from ____to ____.

Obedience Bugs Chart

Create a Grid with enough boxes down the left side, for each child in your family, and 3 boxes to the side of each. This will give you a box down the side, for each child's name, and three boxes NEXT to each child's name, enough to allow for three strikes for each child. I created the strikes to look like the symbol from the title of the movie "Ghostbuster's"...a circle with a diagonal line through the middle. You could really use whatever shape you wanted to. On MS Word, there's a place to "insert shape", where I just placed enough on one piece of paper, so that everyone has their own. The important part, is that each child be assigned their own color of strikes, to match the color of their name down the side. This way, it's easy to see from across the room, if you need to remind a child to check and see how many "strikes" they have. This helps in our family a lot! Sometimes, a glance at the chart is all it takes to turn a child's behavior around. So the idea of course, is three strikes and you're out...or three strikes and then you lose your Obedience Bug for the day. (see post titled Priority Review, for more info.) We laminated our chart and the strikes...cut the strikes out, applied sticky-back magnet to each box and each strike, and created a paper strip with magnet on it, to store strikes that haven't been given. It hangs on the wall in our kitchen, which can be seen from our living room. Viola! It is working great for our family! When the kids earn their Bugs and Kisses at the end of the day, they choose which color cotton puff "Bug" they want and put it into a ziplock bag. (Eventually, I'd like to have small, plastic jars for each of them to keep their bugs in.) On Saturday evenings, we count their bugs and if they have collected 7, then they get to choose a "Great Reward"...a small candy bar or other treat.

If I can get my computer to cooperate later today, I will share these items with you! Until then, I hope these descriptions help you see in your mind's eye, what the plan is! :D)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The plan

So, one can only feel sorry for themselves for so long. Today...I am over it! Tomorrow...I am praying that I'll still be over it, but one can never be too sure. So, just in case, I have given myself a good dose of work and planning today! Nothing can take me out the doldrums (is that how you spell it?) faster than some hard work for the body and mind. A sense of accomplishment is so good for the soul!

So, here's what I have been up to! Remember the Obedience Bugs system we have created for our family? Well, I am happy to report that it is actually working, even for Luv Bug! (We had thought it wasn't going to work for her, in the beginning.) Behavior's don't escalate like they used to due to a visual reminder of how the system works, and the positive re-enforcement is working wonders on all of our attitudes! (see my post entitled "Priority Review" for more information.) Well anyway, we decided to post a copy of the "Self- Government" cards, next to our "Strike" chart, to remind us as parents, of the best way to help our children learn to govern themselves. (Nickoleen Peck is truly inspired! I recently went to a seminar and heard her speak, and won a set of these awesome cards. Check out her book A House United.) The Obedience Bugs chart, coupled with the Bean Counter Game is also really helping us find some balance in our family government system.

I have created a "Job Training" certificate for each child to help inspire them to learn how to do chores. As they become "certified" in each chore on the chart, they get a sticker. This way, they feel a sense of accomplishment, and I have a visual reminder of what to be working on with each child. We figured that we couldn't be giving extra chores as consequences for a sour character, if the children didn't know how to do those chores, but once the kids start learning how to work and learning how to obey, then the we will better be able to teach them to govern themselves and to develop their "self -discipline muscle". It has been so great as a mother, to watch my children find joy and self-esteem through work and service! I am excited to work on "pre-teaching" with them this week, also!

Today the kids and I went through all of their toys again (where do they keep coming from?) and we did another toy purge! Do you know how cool it is, when the kids are actually HAPPY to get rid of toys??? It is seriously awesome! They went through and decided amongst themselves which things were junk or that they didn't play with anymore, and which things to keep. We went from two toy boxes in the living room, down to one. I am giddy with happiness and joy! We also talked a little more, about our plan to make birthdays more about awesome family experiences instead of all about toys! Each of the children are excited to find a fun museum to visit for their birthday celebrations this next year! I can't wait! Just our family, a great learning environment, a camera, a cake, and a toy or two.

I spent some time last night, printing up a "Structure Time, Not Content" daily schedule for our family. The schedule includes an outline for our morning routine, our evening routine, our weekly schedule (FEC on Sundays from 4 - 4:30 p.m., FHE on Mondays from 6 - 6:30 p.m., etc.) and topics for Pete and I to learn about in our couples weekly gospel study. We have also set aside some weekly, unstructured family time, some family reading time and have been sure to include scheduled free time each day. We will have a schedule posted upstairs and one posted downstairs, to help remind us about the things that need to occur on a weekly basis.

To top it all off...Pete and I had our quarterly Family Planning Meeting yesterday, where we reviewed the goals for last quarter, removed some, added others, and set a good plan in motion for the next 3 months. Here are the annual goals we came up with to work on as a family this year! (Our quarterly goals change as needed, to help us in attaining these goals):

* Learn to Work
* Learn to love each other and be peacemakers
* Find joy in being together
*Become like Jesus Christ
*Develop Self-Mastery

So...that's the plan! :0)

Monday, July 19, 2010

I am truly honored

Every so often, I check in on "My Blogs", a list of a few awesome blogs that renew my spirit, inspire me and keep me going. What an honor it was today, to find that I have received a Blogger Award from a truly amazing gal! www.thetaleofourquest.blogspot.com I highly recommend that you check out her blog! I have learned some great ideas for our family here, and I have received so much encouragement from her. Thank you, Karen for thinking of me and for your wisdom, friendship and love! So as part of my "acceptance speech", I am to write 7 things about myself, to share with you, as well as list some of my favorite blogs that I will give a Blogger Award to.

1. I grew up dancing, competing and performing. I took dance at my aunt's dance studio and loved it. My favorite is tap, and I even used to teach lessons. I also used to teach country dance lessons and loved that too! I have thought about maybe starting a little dance class on my back porch or something, if the interest is ever there. My favorite place to dance though, is still in the living room with my husband and kids, gettin' down and being silly!

2. I write poetry. I wrote my first poem when I was 9 years old, in third grade, about Christmas. I have dreams of becoming a published poet, someday, which would be pretty great! I will share a short poem, here. I wrote this poem when I was a Beehive advisor in young women's. I wrote it to go along with a lesson about prayer.

Invitation to Pray

In a land called Hurry, there lived a fair maiden;
Whose life was so busy, with chores she was laden.
Each day would begin just the same as the last,
She'd jump out of bed and right into her tasks;
With no thought of her Father who watched from above
with His arms full of blessings to give her with love.
Trough her day she would carry the stress of days gone,
Too concerned with herself to help others go on.

In the hours of dusk at the hurried day's end,
she came in from the world really needing a friend.
But too tired from rushing about here and there,
she went off to bed without even a care.
As she woke the next morning to start her routine,
she noticed something she'd not before seen.
A beautiful scroll in the shade of pure gold.
It was tied with a ribbon of red, bright and bold.
As she read what it said she fell straight to her knees;
An invitation to pray from the King of all Kings!

As she spoke with her Father of wonderful things,
she felt joy that only a quiet prayer brings.
Now each day in the morning, she kneels before standing,
seeking wisdom and knowledge and great understanding.
At night she prays too, thanking Him for her day,
and excited to hear what her Father will say.

Copyright Ranee Hansen 2004 Please do not copy or use without permission

3. My great grandmother has always referred to herself as a "kitchen table architect", and I like to think that I have received some of her wisdom. I am a pretty creative girl, and love coming up with new ideas to make life fun and easy! I like giving gifts that are homemade or that I have put together, for others.

4. I absolutely ADORE my and husband my children! They are amazing and wonderful and so strong! My kids are my heroes and my hubby is my knight in shining armor. If I am smart, I will try to soak up every bit of wisdom and love that they have for me! I am so blessed to call them mine!

5. I have a secret "bucket list" (you know, stuff ya' wanna' do before you kick the bucket), that includes things like: take a cake decorating class, take a painting class, visit Nauvoo and take the whole tour ( Mr. Man went on his mission to Illinois, so he would be the perfect tour guide...plus he's HOT! Did I just say that??? Yep, I did!), learn to sew and quilt better than what my "kitchen table architect" skills allow, become a chef or baker, etc.

6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hilary Weeks ! Her music is so uplifting and inspiring and I sing it at the top of my lungs in the bath or when I am home by myself. She has a qwerky side to her too, which is so fun! I once saw a video of her singing a song to the tune of "My Favorite Things", where she just kept listing "Naptime, and bedtime, and naptime, and bedtime" over and over again! It was great! I also LOVE Cherie Call! My 2 favorite songs of hers are "Delivery" (I think of Cuddle Bugs birth mother) and Prayers in a Car. (Oh, and also Family Tree, and a song entitled No. Seriously...WAY GOOD!)

7. I am SO grateful that I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ! I have known from a very young age, that the gospel is true! I am grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed me to have a personal relationship with Him, so much so, that I always feel like He is listening only to me! Sometimes I talk to Him, when I am driving home from somewhere by myself. (see Cherie Call, above) (Eyes open, of course). I know He hears my prayers and sometimes I picture Him cracking up at all the zany ways of Ranee. I am confident the Heavenly Father has the BEST sense of humor, EVER! I am ever grateful for my life, as hard as it is sometimes, and for the joy and the learning and the movement of it all. With a life like mine, I am definitely not standing still. I just keep striving to stay on His path!

So here are some of my very favorite blogs to read! (There are SO many more!) Check them out!

TJED Mothers
Cinder Mountain Scholars
Life with 8 Children
The Lazy Organizer
The Baker Bunch
Finding Friday
Nie Nie Dialogues

So, you blog authors get to pass this along to some of the blogs you love - here are the Steps:
Step 1: Thank the person who gave this to you
Step 2: Write 7 things about yourself
Step 3: Pass this along to some of the blogs you love




My New Best Friend

I'd like to tell you all a little bit about my new best friend named Chocolate. Chocolate and I go way back...WAY back! Chocolate is the sweetest friend EVER! Whenever I have had a hard day...I turn to Chocolate! Chocolate is a great listener! In fact, Chocolate never says a thing! :) Chocolate kindly stays where I put it, and I never follows me to the bathroom, bangs on the door and asks me "What are you doing in there?" :) Chocolate is very well rounded; sometimes hot, sometimes cold, sometimes on a spoon, sometimes in a cup. It's a beautiful thing! Chocolate never runs out on me, and can be found just about anywhere, which is great when you love a friend as much as I love Chocolate! I have it on good authority that Chocolate loves me just as much! Apparently, I make Chocolate's heart melt! Who knew?? Chocolate has a qwerky personality and is sometimes nutty like me! I am tellin' ya' that this friendship was made in Heaven!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wait a minute...Huh?...What???

WARNING: At the risk of sounding totally pathetic and ungrateful for the wonderful family, wonderful friends and wonderful goodness in my life, this post comes from the need to vent every now and then. Sometimes ya' just have to let some things off of your chest...so here goes!

I have decided this past few weeks, that my life is hard! (I know...oh BOO HOO!) Many people in my life have told me that I CHOSE for my life to be hard, by doing foster care, adopting children (some of whom have special needs), home schooling, etc. I have adamantly disagreed with that statement. Life is just hard. It is supposed to be this way...for each and every one of us! We are meant to learn hard lessons and go through the Refiner's Fire, to become who we are meant to be. I am of the opinion that I could have made completely different choices in my life, and it still would have been hard. I can honestly say, that my attitude toward adversity in my life, has usually been "What can I learn from this trial, so that it will not have been in vain?", or "Love conquers all!" But lately, I haven't had such a great attitude. I have been feeling sorry for myself and my circumstances, and I have all but stopped trying to find the joy in life. It hasn't been fun! It has been downright miserable and discouraging some days. Frankly, I am just plain tired! And I find that there are a lot of questions going through my mind, at any given moment. For example:

Why do I feel like life is always getting away from me?
Why can't Sundays be easier for our family?
Why the need for constant tweaking of family systems?
Why can't life slow down for 2 seconds?
Why does life have to be so hard for some of my kiddo's?
Why do I always feel inadequate as a wife and mother?
Why am I so focused on the negative things, lately? Ugh!
Why do I wake up some days and think "Wait a minute, Huh?, What?"
Am I the only one who feels this way?

You get the picture. Why, when I try so hard, to be cheerful and happy about the day to day things, do I still get so discouraged? Have any of you ever felt so unqualified for life, sometimes? Cuz, I gotta' tell ya', that I have asked the Lord a time or two, if He is really, truly sure that I am the right woman for the job! I know He answers prayers, but sometimes life gets too crazy to hear all the answers! It's very frustrating! I guess my cup is just running on empty. And it is SO hard to think that there might be another person in this world who understands! I think, for our family, that life is kind of like one big trial! You don't get a break from the chronic health issues of a child. You don't get a break from doctors appointments and therapies and medicines and treatments. The "Every Day Grind" repeats itself again the next day. It gets hard to keep going! Thank heaven for a wonderful husband who keeps my fridge stocked with a never ending supply of dark chocolate, or I just might go crazy! :D In fact, I am pretty sure I have been to "Crazy" a few times. It's just not as fun when you go there by yourself. Anyone wanna' come with me, next time? :0)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ladybug's Rheumatology Appointment

Just an update for you all. Ladybug saw the rheumatologist today and he was very nice! He does not think at this point, that she is showing any signs of pediatric arthritis, which is good! He does however, have some concerns about a possible auto-immune disorder such as Lupus, since it runs in her bio-family history, and since she has some possible markers for it. So she had to get poked again today, for blood work, and we will do a urine analysis next week. He also wants to see her back in about a month, to continue to follow her and see what's going on with her. We are SO praying this will lead to some answers for her! We will continue to keep you all posted! Thanks for your prayers! :d)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Prayer Request

Hello everyone! I just wanted to tell you about an upcoming doctor's appointment for Ladybug (our 4 year old daughter) and also some news about Wiggle Bug (one of our 4 year old sons) from an appointment he had today. They both need your prayers!

Ladybug will be seeing a rheumatologist this Friday, to address issues of chronic pain in her limbs, and other issues that have plagued her life. We are praying SO hard, that this appointment will lead to some answers and some help for her! While we are always grateful for test results, etc. which tell us what the problem ISN'T, we are particularly praying for answers that will lead us to understand what IS happening to her. She has been poked so many times. She has had at least 4 or 5 sleep studies. She is fed through a G-tube and doesn't eat much by mouth at all. She has had so many tests and doctor's visits and hospital stays...we have honestly lost count. Many have asked why we don't just stop all the testing. We actually had decided to stop testing her for a little while, but it is truly heart breaking to watch her struggle with all of these issues she has. As parents, we can't just stand by and do nothing. We want to get to the heart of the issues, so that we can help her have the best quality of life, possible. And we also know that faith without works is dead. We are trying to do our part, so that we can ask in faith, for Heavenly Father to pour out His measure of blessings upon her. Please add your faith to ours, for our sweet Ladybug!

Wiggle Bug had an earlier than usual appointment with his orthopedist today, because he has been having pain in his hips, hamstrings, knees and heel cords, etc. As many of you know, he (along with Ladybug and Snug-a-Bug) has Cerebral Palsy. I didn't expect to hear the answer to doctor gave today, for his pain. He said that his heel cords, and hamstrings are tighter, by far, than they were 9 mos. ago when he last saw him. The range of motion in his ankles is completely gone. He said that it is likely that Wiggle Bug will need a surgery to lengthen his heel cords and possibly one of his hamstrings, or at the least, he will need Botox injections to help with the tightness. We would ask for your faith and prayers for this sweet, little man! He has also dealt with many physical challenges in his young life, and we pray that the prescribed stretching that is to be done in physical therapy, will help the tightness and range of motion in his limbs, to improve and give him some relief from the pain, so that surgery won't be necessary. His little body amazes me! From birth, he has been such a fighter...having had heart surgery, cranial surgery and other surgeries, and being G-tube fed, etc. His birth mother was told he wouldn't live to be a year old. He is certainly meant to be here, that's for sure!

Thank you for your love and prayers for our family, and in particular, for our 2 sweethearts! Your love and support are a strength to us!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Obedience Bugs Re-Visited

So what do ya' do, for the one child that doesn't respond to the system? Hmmm...at this point I am kinda' stumped. Normally, when I get stumped, I get really discouraged. But not this time. I am bound and determined not to let that happen. One of the kiddo's got three strikes on the strike chart today. This child struggles to mind and obey, and often laughs hysterically in the process. It is exasperating!! It is embarrassing! So I have decided that there are a few things I need to do for this child. #1. Ask Heavenly Father to share some of His wisdom and advice, about this child whom he knows so well. #2. Discover what truly motivates this child and how this child feels loved and cared for. (*tapping foot as I wait for Amazon to get my book order to me, so I can read The Five Love Languages of Children*) 3. Pray FOR this child and WITH this child about ways to help this child. Any other suggestions?? The thing that saddens me the most about this child's issues and struggles, is that this is a really great kid, we're talking about here. The issues betray the greatness of the child. I think that is really true of every child in some way. I don't know.......... I think I feel a Mommy and Me date coming on! Maybe some one on one attention and time is in order! I SO want this wonderful, little person to know how special they are to me! Maybe that will do the trick!

Happy 4th Birthday, Ladybug!

Four years ago today, a sweet, little Ladybug was born. And while it would be 8 mos. before she would truly grace us with her amazing presence, her birthday was a very special day for our family. I will never forget the first time I saw her. We received a call one afternoon in March of 2007, and that evening, the case manager showed up in her car in front of our house. I went outside just as she was getting Ladybug out of the car, and as the case manager stood up, I saw this beautiful baby girl with blonde hair and clear blue eyes, and I instantly thought of "Cindy Lou Who". She had the longest bangs EVER, and they flew up every time the breeze blew! It was totally adorable! She was so little, weighing just 14 lbs. at 8 mos. old. It was clear that she was just like a 4 month old baby in every way. She had no neck support, she couldn't sit or even roll over or hold her own bottle. She was very sick when she came, and within the first 24 hours, I had her up at the hospital. She had RSV and was tender in the abdomen. She was a very fragile, little sweetheart. We knew she was lucky to be alive, even back then, but as she grew and as we found out more information about her life before and the pregnancy,etc., we knew that Ladybug was a fighter and that she was a special spirit of our Heavenly Father. He was watching over her. Today, our Ladybug amazes us everyday! She handles her challenges with such innocence and grace! She is starting to say lots of new things and she is continuing to learn and grow! She is so very special to us! I don't know if I will ever understand why Heavenly Father has entrusted me with such a perfect, treasure. But I will ever be grateful for her influence in my life. How blessed I am, to have this sweet, little person, as a daily and personal reminder to do those things I should do, so that I can get to be in her presence and in my Savior's presence in the next life. I am very sure, that Ladybug will have one of the best seats in heaven someday...right up on the Savior's knee. So in our family, we feel like angels in training. And who better, to learn how to be an angel from, than an angel herself?! Happy 4th Birthday, Sweet Sugar! It is an honor to be your mother!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Awakening

Saturday afternoon, while all of the other children were napping, Snug-a-Bug (my 7 yr. old son) and I started talking again about journals. I had told him before, that most of the great information we have about our ancestors, has come from journals written by themselves or others. He then asked me if he could have a journal. (He has asked a couple of times before.) So we found a trusty notebook and a pencil and he started telling me what he wanted to say and asking me how to spell words. A little later Luv Bug and Cuddle Bug woke up and asked for "journals" of their own, so out came 2 more notebooks and pencils. I was happily surprised when they each participated in this journal activity for a FULL HOUR, at their own choice. They sat at the table today for about 45 minutes, "journaling". Snug-a-Bug is asking questions like "Hey Mom...what's is the date today?" He writes down things like "Today we are going to Costco", or "I like big trucks!" Luv Bug has turned her journal into a book of pictures with great stories behind them, which she likes to narrate to us. On Sunday, she showed me a detailed picture she had drawn and told Pete and I a story, which we affectionately refer to as the "Never Ending Story". It just kept going and going and going! I have to remind her to take a breath every now and then (literally), so that she doesn't run out of air in the middle of what she is saying. :) Cuddle Bug has been very intrigued with saying the letters in his name. I am so excited about this, because he is starting to recognize the letters in his name, and that together they make a word, a basis for good reading skills in the future. So, the kids have each had an awakening about learning this week! As a parent, it makes my heart happy, to know that if I teach and exemplify correct principles in my own education, they will slowly catch the vision for themselves! It may last for a few days or maybe more, but that is the beauty of a home taught leadership education. The journey is theirs to pursue at the pace that they set for themselves. And I get to watch it all happen, right before my eyes!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blankets, Baby Dolls and Blessings

Tonight as I was tucking in Luv Bug and Cuddle Bug (5 1/2 yr. old daughter and 4 yr. old son), we started talking about their adoptions. They both asked questions about their birth moms and we decided to get out some things from their adoption keepsake boxes and talk about them and look at pictures of their birth moms, for a little bit. They both wanted their adoption shadow boxes (filled with pictures and special things from their birth families) hung up on their wall, RIGHT NOW! I admit, that we should have had them displayed in their room, by now, since we moved in in April, but we hadn't gotten around to it yet. So Pete came in (a little reluctantly, since it was already 9 o' clock at night) and put them on their wall. He understood how important this was to them both. I could tell from our conversation, that Luv Bug is worried about her birth mom. She has been struggling with anxiety a lot lately, and actually ended up in tears tonight, because she is worried about her and where she is and how she is doing. It broke my heart. I know that she loves her Dad and I. I am not worried about that. But, it broke my heart that she is so anxious and wanting to see her birth mother and know that she is okay. (Luv Bug did not ever know her birth mother, and neither did Cuddle Bug for that matter, but I believe their hearts know.) :) So...we said a prayer. We asked Heavenly Father to send hugs and kisses to her birth family and to let them know that she loves them and thinks of them and to bless Luv Bug to feel okay about the situation. She told me that her "heart hurts for them that they are so far away", and she told me that she wants me to help her find them someday. I told her I'd be happy to help her find them when she is a bit older. That made her happy and seemed to calm her down. We talked about families and how Heavenly Father creates them and we talked about faith and trusting in Him to send blessings and answer to our prayers. She told me that she has faith in Heavenly Father and knows that He hears and answers her prayers. And I know, that's why I have a precious little girl and a sweet little boy, sleeping soundly in their beds right now. Because Heavenly Father heard her prayer and his prayer and my prayer and is personally watching over us. Cuddle Bug was delighted to get to sleep with a special blanket from his birth mom, for the first time tonight. I had saved it for him to have, when he was old enough to understand it's importance. Luv Bug is sleeping with her "Adoption Baby", Ariel, that Pete and I got her for her adoption! Thank heaven, for blankets, baby dolls and blessings from an all-knowing Heavenly Father!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Can you imagine....?

I am still reading The Work and The Glory series. I am almost halfway into #7. In this volume, the saints leave (or are preparing to leave) Nauvoo and the beautiful temple that they constructed there. Pete and I have had some great discussions about church history and the events that took place, but mostly, we have been talking a lot about what it must have been like, on an everyday basis, to walk in their shoes. Can you imagine giving birth to a baby, in the back of a wagon or inside a tent, in the middle of nowhere? I can't. Can you imagine dealing with cloth diapers, out on the prairie? I can't. Can you imagine the conditions on the trail, when people became sick with dysentary, cholera, or even a cold. Nope, me neither. I can't imagine what it must have been like, to be some of the first saints to leave Nauvoo, knowing that at least there was a party who had gone ahead to prepare bridges and make the trip a bit easier, only to find that one particular advanced party kept pushing forward without even stopping to make the way easier for others. Wagons were getting stuck in the thick mud, on a daily basis. Axles were breaking, wagon tongues were breaking, animals were tiring and food was growing scarce. I honor and revere these brave saints for their amazing faith and diligence, to press forward and endure to the end of each back-breaking and overwhelming day. One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about reading this wonderful series by Gerald N. Lund, is the reviews at the end of each chapter, telling you which things really happened and which things are fictitious. I am learning SO much! It's easy for me to feel like life is hard...UNTIL I read about the early saints of the church. I am grateful for the eternal perspective we have as followers of Christ, and for the perspective we can find through His gospel. I am grateful that I only have to imagine what the saints went through. I am pretty sure that I would have been guilty of murmuring the whole way! I am inspired by their example and I am inspired to know that though our journeys are very different, our cause is one in the same. The gospel of Jesus Christ is worth every trial and heartache, every sorrow and every challenge we face. After all, He never said it would be easy; He only said it would be worth it. After the trial of our faith, then come the blessings! So the word FAITH, has been written on my heart this week, for I long to hear my Savior say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Priority Review

Today is one of those days when I just have to stop and breathe! Life happens all too quickly, and before ya' know it, priorities start to slip from their ever important place on the list of all the other "Ever Important To-Do's". So...today is the day we will do a "priority inventory" and put things in their proper place again. Family Executive Council (or Committee) is SO important! Why is it, that the FEC is one of the things that I keep having to put back on top of my priority list?! They say that if you do something 15 times in a row, that it becomes a habit. We can't seem to have an FEC even 2 times in a row--Ugh! The idea of planning for life, (you know...so it doesn't just happen to you) is brilliant! I just wish it stayed the way you planned! So, today I am determined to put things in their proper place and try, try again! Up for review:

* FEC (We like to call it a family executive council) We need to put this into habit.

* Our 3 month Family Planning System (for planning goals and making them happen) We need to review this and see what we've accomplished and what is left to work on!

* Regular study of our Central Classic- The Book of Mormon (it's not happening regularly)

* Kidschool (We need to structure our time even better)

* Job Training (or chore training) is actually going quite well. It's time to move on to some more job training!

The great news is that we have come up with 2 new things that are helping with praising and obedience in our family! The first one is the Bean Counter Game. We have a large pickle jar and a gallon ziplock bag of pinto beans. We have been having fun awarding beans for great behavior, great acts of service, silly fun, memorizing articles of faith, scriptures or songs, and everything in between! I love it because it reminds us to focus on the positive things we all say and do! It's working really well! The second thing we have created, is a system for rewarding obedience, that we call Obedience Bugs. ( This idea originated from an idea my friend Nanette uses with her family. We just tweaked it to fit the needs of our family, and made it our own. Thanks for inspiring me, Nanette!) We bought some multi-colored craft cotton balls and the kids each have their own container with their name on it. If they are obedient for the day, then they can earn an Obedience Bug and a Hug or a Kiss (Hershey's). Obviously, there are 7 possible Bugs for the week. If they struggle through the day, and are not obeying well, they earn a Strike. Once they get 3 strikes for the day, they lose their Obedience Bug and their Hershey candy for that day. (We will have a little board where we keep track of strikes for the day.) If they lose even one of their obedience bugs, they forfeit the "Great Reward" (their choice of one thing chosen out of a treat bag) that is given at the end of each week. BUT they still have the opportunity to earn a Hershey Hug or Kiss on a daily basis for the rest of the days in the week. We thought about basing the "Great Reward" on one day at a time instead of a full week, but decided that our main goal is to inspire our children to be obedient every day in order to earn a "Great Reward". Throughout the day, when one of the children is struggling to be obedient, I can remind them to look at their Strike Chart to see how close they are to losing their Obedience Bug for the day. We will officially start this on Sunday, since it's the beginning of a new week. I will keep you posted about this works out for our family!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summers and The Cleaning Time

I have been learning more about 2 great ingredients in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning. The first one being Summers (Ingredient # 14, pg. 94), and the second one being The Cleaning Time (Ingredient #30, pg. 121). " Summers are for family, especially work projects, evening work and family activities." As many of you have probably done, we have re-vamped our daily schedule, for the summer. It is just too hot to play outside in the afternoons, so our children have play time in the mornings while breakfast is prepared, and then after our meal, we have family work and chores and then continue on with the rest of our day. I was happy to read that "Summers are a good time to sweat..." Good...we have that one covered! Whew! One concept that I had failed to see before, is that in the summer time, evening work is really important. Evenings are also for inspiring. (See more in ingredient #12, pg. 85) "It is still a good idea to have a great book going, through perhaps only one to four evenings a week instead of six or seven like in winter." The trick must be, to be able to make time for each of these things. Evenings at our house are filled with bedtime routines, medications being given and tube feedings being started, but even in our own small way, I know that we can add an evening cleaning routine to be inspired by! I am going to give some more thought to this and see what we can come up with! In reference to The Cleaning Time (ingredient #30, pg. 121), there is a part that speaks specifically to families that have young children only. It says "Get the children to pick up all their projects immediately when they finish and before moving on to anything else-run it like a Montessori classroom where there is a spot for everything and children must put things back before getting out anything new." We have done this in our home, and have found it to be quite successful. Our children are learning to take turns choosing activities, and to be patient when it is someone else's turn to choose. Our oldest recently turned 7 years old. We have seen him take small steps toward exploring what a Love of Learning looks like. In Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, it says"...Love of Learners need to be trained to do jobs well, so we recommend that Mom be released from cleaning and instead be given a training and supervisory role only..." We recently devised a way to keep track of "Job Training" in our family. I still work alongside the children, but I came up with a simple chart, with the names of the children across the top, and the chores listed down the side. As I have trained the children in each specific chore, I just check off the box below their name. This way, we are able to see at a glance, which jobs a child can handle by themselves, and which jobs they still need help with or have yet to learn. In keeping with our decision to teach our children self-government, we have also come up with a list of "extra chores" and "major maintence's" for helping them learn to govern their behavior. "...cleaning time can can be a fast, efficient chore that you get out of the way without much concern. The key is getting in touch with what makes sense for the size and makeup of your family." What ingredients have you been studying lately?

It's time for refresher course! Today, I think I'll delve into Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, a little bit deeper! I just cleaned out a great pickle jar, yesterday! I feel a Bean-Counter game coming on! And this isn't any ordinary pickle jar! It's pretty big! I can't wait to see the look on my kiddo's faces when I put in handfuls of beans for them, just because they are so wonderful!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A dream

Cuddle Bug came to me this morning (he's 4) and said "Mom, I had a dream!" I said "That's great! What did you dream about?" He said "A brown girl!" (Being a trans-racial family, we talk a lot about how cool it is to be brown!) I said "Really?" He said "Yeah, I gonna' marry her!" (Have I mentioned how much I love this kid?) Then I asked him if he knows her name. He said "She doesn't have a name." (When he plays with his toys, and uses his imagination, he doesn't name them.) Instead he says what he then said this morning..."You have to name her, Mom!" So then I asked what she looked like. He said "Brown! Yeah, I saw a brown girl that's brown and I gonna' marry her! I want to call her something...hers name is Brownie!" You can't beat that...dreaming about the girl you're going to marry, and then naming her after the most delectable treat on the planet! I can't wait to meet her...SOMEDAY! I am sure she's a real sweetie! :D)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Journey of a Ladybug!

Yesterday Ladybug and I hung out at Phoenix Children's Hospital again! Don't worry...it was a scheduled visit, but I have whispered in her ear before that we've gotta' quit meeting like this! :) I've lost count at how many times she's been there and been put to sleep for various different procedures. She was in for an EMG and a Nerve Conduction Study to find out why she's having pain in her arms, legs, feet and hands. She is constantly grabbing her arms, legs and hands and saying "Owie!" Sometimes it involves tears and kicking (most often at night), and we have yet to know if she's feeling actual pain, or if it's a weird sensation, or what. Anyway, the neurologist was able to see me again before we left, to tell me that the testing came back normal. This means that Ladybug isn't having any peripheral neuropathy. Translation: It means she doesn't have any muscles or nerves that are misfiring. While we are so grateful for no peripheral neuropathy (I've heard it never goes away), we are disappointed that this didn't answer what's going on with her. In my own mind, I refer to Ladybug's journey through life, as a series of events where we find out yet another thing that isn't the problem. So, on we go! She now has an appointment with a rheumetologist and a chiropractor. The meds she takes at night, to help her sleep, aren't working as well as they used to. She is still having lots of "bad nights". Anything is better than the 5 hour "parties" she used to have in the middle of the night, but we have learned that if she doesn't have her meds for even just one night, she will have an all night party again! Prayers would be awesome! Bless her little heart, she can't talk to us and tell us what's going on, so we continue on our quest to find out what the real issues are for her! If she could talk, I am very sure she would thank you all for your faith and prayers in her behalf! She is SO deserving of them! :D)