the much awaited, much anticipated, oh-so-wonderful update

The more I put this off…the more I put this off. The longer I take, the more there is that happens which means the more there is to write AND therefore, the more I put it off. You get the idea. Hence, it is time to suck it up, take the time and write “the much awaited, much anticipated, oh-so-wonderful update.”

Hope in a hat

Now, if I can just figure out where to begin.

The last time I updated was in December, and I can’t believe how much has happened and how much Hope has progressed in such a short time. The easiest way to update is to give a rundown of all that she is doing and what has changed.

Can you believe this is the same baby??

Can you believe this is the same baby??

The biggest news came AFTER I first started trying to write this post. I spoke with her neurosurgeon on the phone about the results of an MRI he had done in January. He said that not only is her shunt working fine, but that the scan of her neck showed that she does NOT have the Chiari II malformation! (Read previous post regarding that diagnosis here). If you remember, she almost had a scary decompression surgery back in July to correct it….something she doesn’t have! God is so good!

Hope just had her 9 month check-up (a little late) and weighed in at 16 lbs 2 oz! Her height was 25.5 inches. She is now in the 3rd percentile for both, unless they adjust her age for prematurity. In which case, she is in the 10th percentile for weight! She is getting quite chunky. Adorably chunky! She has now moved totally to a crib because she’s gotten far to big and long for a bassinet – not to mention how much she moves.

We saw the pulmonologist for the first time, and Hope is now taking an inhaled steroid twice a day to improve and heal the lung damage done by repeated aspiration and multiple bouts with pneumonia and bronchitis. Incidentally, she hasn’t had a recurrence of either since starting the steroids. We are also currently weaning her off of oxygen during the day.

The pulmonologist referred us to a cardiologist – the only specialist we hadn’t seen – just to be sure there were not problems there. They did an EKG and an ultrasound, and she got a clean report from them. It’s wonderful to have one specialist we don’t have to revisit.

Hope is doing wonderful in all her therapies. She is reaching, shaking rattles, manipulating toys, and banging blocks. Keep in mind that it takes her more effort and concentration than the average child, but she is doing it. She can now shake her head yes and no – which she find quite amusing to tease us with. Her physical therapist is working on things like kneeling and getting her on all fours. She loves to play, especially with faces and hair.

Working on kneeling

Working on kneeling

Touching my toes!

Touching my toes!

This all fours thing is tough

This all fours thing is tough

The only negative thing about therapy is that her speech therapist had to cease many oral exercises after the last swallow study. She cannot currently do anything that might stimulate her to produce more saliva to aspirate. However, Hope has begun to vocalize sporadically. She squeaks every once in a while to get attention. This is a big deal as it requires her to push air past her airway to make a vocal sound, so she’s learning.

All in all, Hope is doing amazing! If anyone had told me 8 months ago, we’d be where we are now, I don’t know if I would have believed it. She is a constant joy to everyone – so full of smiles and laughs. You can’t help but love her.

While I’m at it. The rest of the family is doing great. The hubs got promoted in November (can’t remember if I shared that) which has been quite tiring, but a financial blessing.

My oldest will be 4 at the end of this month. FOUR! Where did the time go? 3 going on 14 and smart as a whip – with a mouth to go with it! I’m about to start teaching her to read. She’s more than ready. This kid is going to be a world-changer. She could probably school some adults on the Bible. Smart, sassy and sensitive. That’s my Grace.

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Proud big sister

It has also become more and more evident in the last months that my middle child (oh, poor middle child) is a true strong-willed child. Time to read up on some Dr. Dobson again. I don’t know what to do with her. She’s 2, but has no idea she’s not 4 or 5 – as commented on by a random mom at Monkey Joe’s. No ma’am. She has no idea she’s not 5. She’s fearless…which is why it makes it so darn hard to put the fear of God in her. Lol. Oh well, I know one day I’ll be glad she’s so strong-willed. Just when it’s against others and not me. I’ll tell you one thing about her though, she’s a hoot. I said it when she was a baby and couldn’t stop smiling, and I was right. She is going to be She is the clown. Joy is such a joy. Strong-willed, but a joy.

No clue she isn't grown

No clue she isn’t grown

We recently took Joy’s paci away. Don’t judge me. She only still had it when sleeping, and I’ve been a little slack on starting and stopping things with her during this season of our lives. I’ll admit that sometimes I do whatever makes my life easiest, so long as it’s not truly detrimental in the long run. I’ve only just started trying to potty train her, but even that I can’t seem to do full-on. After spending 2 years trying to get it to work with Grace, I just don’t have the drive to try so hard this time, and really, who can blame me for not having the time or sanity to let her run around half-naked and sit in the bathroom with her every 30 minutes? She’ll get it. After everything I tried with her sister, it just had to click for her. I’m hoping it will click for Joy.

As for myself, I have committed to be a contributing writer for a well-established homeschool blog that is becoming a group blog. I’m really excited about this opportunity to work with a great group of writers, learn more about blogging, possibly learning how to improve my own blog, and maybe even supplement our income a bit. I will definitely direct you over there once the revamped blog is launched. It should be in the beginning of April. I have already written my first draft for my first post, and you can be sure I’ll be linking up my posts here. Look for more info to follow.

Before I wrap it up, I have to say, it’s been quite a lovely weekend. My husband was off of work per doctor’s orders because he has the flu and bronchitis. However, he didn’t feel as awful as it sounds. It was, however, his first days off in 3 weeks. These last 2 days have felt more “normal” than any day in quite a long time. We had no nursing help and no therapies (since it’s the weekend). It was just us. Just the 5 of us. We watched movies, at pizza, popcorn and chicken wings, laid around in our jammies, read books. Even with me doing everything AND taking care of Hope’s needs, it felt the closest to “normal” life as I can remember in a very long time. It was nice.

Whew. Update done. That wasn’t as hard as I thought. I mean, it’s 12:30 am, but it wasn’t so hard. Why did I put it off for so long? Sorry if it seems somewhat haphazard and disjointed. It’s late, I’m tired, and people are asking for an update.

Wonder how long it will take to write the next one?

Patience is a Virtue

My children love to help…with everything…with anything.

Well, except for cleaning up their own toys, but I’m pretty sure that’s normal.

Helping makes them feel good. It makes them feel….important.

Sometimes they are actually helpful, but most times, it just makes things….harder.

They WANT to help with the dishes.

They WANT to help with the laundry.

They WANT to help sweep the floors.

They WANT to help with the cooking.

But as any mom with a 2 or 3 year old knows, when they help…

Dishes get broken.

Laundry has to be RE-folded.

Floors have to be swept again.

Food gets spilled.

And so on.

In short, it takes more time. More time than it takes for me to do it myself. And time is not something I always have a lot of. If I’m doing housework, it’s usually in a hurry.

Not to mention I like it done a certain way. My way.

But I’m learning to be patient.

Well, I’m trying to learn to be patient.

Because I do NOT want lazy kids who become lazy adults.

I DO believe caring for the home should be a family effort.

I DO believe the responsibility learned from helping at home is just as important as any thing else they will learn here.

And one day, each of my girls is going to grow up and run her own home.

I don’t want her to fall apart in tears the first time she tries to make scrambled eggs for her husband because she doesn’t really know how.

…..like I did.

I want my girls to be prepared, and it’s my job to teach them. Starting now. This may be one of the most important parts of their “home education.”

So, I’m working on it. Little by little, I’m loosening up. Learning that it doesn’t always have to be done my way. That it’s worth a little messiness and an extra 10 minutes. If it means my girls are learning something….or even if they’re just making memories, it’s worth it.

They wanted to help with the dishes so bad this morning, but I refused because I was in a hurry. It would take too long.

Thankfully, God revealed this lesson to me in the shower. (Isn’t that where He speaks to you?!) So when my oldest asked to help me change the sheets on my bed and make it, I let her. It may have taken a little longer, but it made her happy. Proud even. Not the bad kind of pride, but the sense of pride found in a job well done. The sense of pride found in helping out and being a part of the household.

It’s important to them. It’s important for them. It needs to be important to me.

Important enough to take the time….

….and be patient.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love. ~ Ephesians 4:1-2

(On a side note, it was NOT entirely my mother’s fault that I didn’t know how to scramble eggs. She tried to teach me to cook. I just wouldn’t stay in the kitchen. Love you, mom!)

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I linked up today with:

I’ve moved and I’m back!

Hello all! Living With Grace and Joy has moved here and is now “Fully Mothering”….as you can see.

My family has entered a new chapter in our lives, and it has given me a renewed vision for blogging. I feel as though I really have something to say now. Well, I’ve always had something to say, but now I have something worthwhile to talk about.

With the birth of our precious little Hope and everything that followed, I feel there needs to be a record for her, for me, for another mother someday, somewhere going through similar difficulties.

That being sad, be warned that you can expect honesty. What we’re dealing with is real. Real life. Real hard. I’m not going to mince words. I’m going to tell you how I really feel, what I’m really going through, so that 1) others can gain just a little bit of understanding of what this really feels like, and 2) some day when another parent dealing with a child with special needs reads this, they will know that what they are feeling isn’t new. They aren’t a horrible person for feeling that way. That someone else has been there.

This isn’t going to be a place to just tell all my happy stories and make everyone think I’m amazingly perfect and I’ve got everything under control. I’m not. I’m not the Super Mom everyone thinks I am. You’re going to get to know the real me.

Of course, that isn’t all this blog is about. I’ll be sharing all kinds of things about mothering, homemaking, homeschooling, even some organization tips. I hope you hang around. I’d love for you to get to know me and my family. You’ll get to know my little girls, Grace – age 3, Joy – almost 2, and Hope – 3 mos old. They are a wonderful blessing, and they are daily teaching me to be graceful, joyful and hopeful. That’s really what this journey is all about – experiencing motherhood…fully. All the ups. All the downs. All the in betweens.

Disclaimer: For those that know me, I’m not using the girls first names for safety and privacy reasons. Please consider this when commenting. Thanks.

And so it begins…

Right now, I’m sitting in the middle of a messy house, but the mess can wait. The mess will be here tomorrow…even if I do clean it today. I thought it was about time I started a blog. Somewhere to share my thoughts, insights, whines, recommendations and frustrations…oh, and lists. Lots of lists. I’m a listmaker. Love ’em. Need ’em. Can’t live without ’em. I need a place to vent all those things floating around in my brain…rather than the 20 Facebook posts a day I’ve been known to make. What better time to start than right now. Now that we’ve opened this new chapter in the life of our family – me as a stay-at-home mom. What fun (and stress-relief) to have a record of all the trials and tribulations, laughs and tears, ups and downs of mastering the domestic world.

In addition to working towards my PhD in domestic engineering, we will be venturing into the world of home school before we know it. Yeah, I know my oldest is only 2.5 years old, but just yesterday she was 2.5 months old, and before we know it, she’ll be 25 years old, so really school is just around the corner….and it’s never to early to start educating your children. We do it everyday already…it will just have some structure to it now. Hence, I have begun my research. Just today, the girls and I dragged ourselves out into the stifling hot GA/SC heat and into the book stores where I picked up 3 secondhand books on home schooling. I also picked up one on activities to do with toddlers – just for fun – and I’ve put in bids on several other books on Ebay.

Here’s what I’ve picked up so far:

The Heart of Home Schooling: Teaching & Living What Really Matters by Christopher Klicka

So You’re Thinking About Home Schooling by Lisa Welchel

Getting Started on Home Learning: How and Why to Teach Your Kids at Home by Rebecca Rupp

Things to Do with Toddlers and Twos by Karen Miller

I’m waiting on my Ebay auction for:

Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling

I also can’t wait to buy Before Five in a Row to get started on our preschool studies…but we’ve got time. No point in trying to make my little ones grow up too fast. Let them be little. School will come….then it will go and they will be grown. That’s why these years are so important. That’s why we’ve made this oh-so-important decision – mommy staying home and mommy teaching the kids. It’s so important to teach them everything we can while we can in a way that glorifies God. Here’s praying we do a good job. Thanks for joining us in this adventure. Enjoy the ride.