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Thursday, March 6, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge SURPRISE!

I found out something surprising about myself, and it's only Day 1.

I read about this challenge yesterday and I was inspired. Click on the link above to go and see the full blog posts from White House Black Shutters. As lent approaches, or for most it is already here, there will be Facebook posts flooded with sacrificial fasting. Some give up sugar, or soda, or fast food. Some give up spending, or cable, or internet. While I'm not Catholic, and therefore lent doesn't mean the same to me as others, I do like to participate in it. Fasting is a part of my personal walk with God and from time to time I will fast different things. In January this past year, I fasted FB and found out some things about myself in the process. Another blog post for another time, I'm sure. 

I read about this challenge yesterday and felt inspired to spend 2 hours cleaning out the toy room. I printed out the worksheet on the blog page last night and my first attempt was written in pen. BIG MISTAKE!! I went through, expecting each room to take a day, until I focused yesterday on one room. I realized I would need maybe two or more days to go through and purge the truck load of toys we currently have. I reprinted the worksheet and then filled it out in pencil. Lesson learned.

 As I was going through toys yesterday, I realized how much the kids had. I became disgusted with myself for buying them so much. How can I talk about living on less, when I have filled their toy room with things? What was my reasoning? Why would I do this? Then I realized something about myself, that surprised me as to why we had this crazy ridiculous amount of toys. It struck me so fully that I had to stop cleaning. 

When we were going through fertility treatments to have a second baby, I refused the get rid of things. Baby toys, rattles and the like became sacred to me, a thousand tiny idols that I wanted near me just in case. "If I throw them out or sell them, it means I'm giving up. It means I am not trusting." This became my battle cry. Not trust in Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding, but let me pile our toy room with stuff, line our shelves with stuffies and Barbies and trucks, so that God will know I'm serious about another kid. As if some how this meant I was more serious than the daily prayers I sent up, or the tears I cried, or the thoughts I focused on or the bible verses I memorized. This, TOYS, made me serious about my miracle. Do I fault those who buy clothes or bassinets in great hopes of a baby? Of course not. I bought a white bassinet when we were going through treatments and 3 years later, I laid my son down in it on his first night home. I sobbed the "ugly cry" as I laid him down, knowing that I had bought this in anticipation of this moment. It was a miracle come full circle. But toys? Buying three drum sets to prove I was serious? Obviously God needed three, because one wouldn't cut it. I just had to buy every single Little People play set Target and Toys R Us had, because this proved I was worthy of child. I need that extra xylophone or cooking set, because good mothers had them. "I'm a good mom God, please grant me a child!" Halfway through cleaning, when this realization came upon me, I had to laugh at myself. 

Look I get it, I truly do. When you are reeling from your second miscarriage, when the doctor tells you there is nothing more he can do, when you don't have the money to adopt, clinging to something like a third drum set or a stuffed toy that says Baby on it, is what we do. Those of us who suffer this way, cling to anything that may bring us luck or favor. We want a baby so badly, that it doesn't seem strange at the time. That is until you are cleaning out your toy room and the realization of what you did without knowing it comes. 
Then you laugh. 

Because it is funny.

Because it is ridiculous and you know it.

Because you have come out on the other side stronger. 

I will always carry with me the remembrance of my desperation in those days. I will always be empathetic to those struggling with infertility. There is no wrong way to go through the journey, there is only your way. You do what you have to, you survive how you need to, so if that means three drum sets, 14 stuffies with the word Baby on them, and plethora of assorted baby rattles, then so be. I needed those things to get through to the next day, the next ultrasound, the next doctor's visit, the next blood work. Now though, as with all fasting, comes an awakening. I need to get them out, to purge them and to trust God with other things. This is how we grow spiritually when we fast. 

It's strange to think that I would be here, be in this position to actually laugh at my own silliness. I now look at the trash bags of things with new eyes. I understand myself better because of this first day of lent. It is surprising to me, that a challenge such as this, would help me to understand a part of myself I thought I had fully understood. I see a level, a layer to myself that I didn't know had existed before. It's kinda funny to think that going through a toy room would bring this level of awareness to the fore front, but it has. 

And I praise God for that. 

Mama Jelly

 **** I am not laughing at, or downplaying anyone going through this now. If you are in throws of infertility, let me say, I applaud your strength, I can sympathize with your struggles and I fully offer my door to stay open if you ever want to talk. 1 in 7 couples in the US will go through this heartbreaking journey, just know, that you aren't going through it alone. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quest for a whole family devotional

toddlers, school age, and parents in one.

(Opening disclaimer: I was not paid for or asked to review any of these books. I just wanted to share them with others who maybe looking into purchasing them. All views and opinions are strictly my own. )

When I started to homeschool, my main reasoning, shockingly, had nothing to do with my religion. I knew that no matter if the kids went to public or private, the biblical view would come from their mom and dad and not by anyone else. I owned this teaching from the moment they both arrived. But I have struggled with finding a balance in our devotional time. I wanted to be able to teach the kids along with myself. While I found wonderful devotionals for me, and very well thought out ones for them, trying to combine them left me baffled. Some of the more in depth teachings in my devotionals were over the kids' heads and theirs was a little too simple for me. For the past few years, I've left it alone. I did my own time with the Lord before they woke or after they went to sleep and we did ours in school together. It worked well, but my children never actual saw me with my devotional, never followed along with me, never saw me praying with my bible out and highlighters in my hands. It worked. But then again, it didn't.

This summer my daughter and I moved through a great book series by Lori Wagnor. The first book in the series is called "The Girl in the Dress". It is brilliantly written, smart, and informative without being stuffy and over my daughter's head. It uses simple, clearly thought out, and engaging language to capture the reader while still staying true to scripture. The book talks about modesty in regard to scripture and what that really means in our real world life. It also talks about how, being modesty does not equate to frumpy or "old fashion" but more it allows the actual beauty of a girl to shine without all the extra glitz and glamour. We then followed that book with "Covered by Love". I now see Amazon features another book by her called "Unmasked". I can not wait for it to get here so we can read through it. I will also be teaching this books series to my son, as soon as he is able to understand, since modesty means so much more than just "what a girl is wearing" and learning how to treat women biblically is important for young men to grasp.

I'm going to post a link here to the books on Amazon's site, if y'all are interested.

After the experience for moving through a book together, looking up scripture, doing copy work and memorization, I realized what was missing in my own devotional time. US. I know that, as a Sunday School teacher, I have enough in my arsenal to construct my own. I know that you do not have to have a devotional to go through, to fully understand the bible and it's teachings. I get that. At the same time, I am one of those that if I have to put it all together myself, and look up memorization and stories and meanings, it doesn't get done. It just doesn't. So for me, having a workbook, or hard back book to highlight, dog ear and refer back to, helps me. 

I went searching for a family devotional right around December. I had an Amazon gift card and wanted to get started in the new year. There are so many to choose from, that it became overwhelming. Then, late one night, after searching and reading reviews, I came across "Jesus Calling: enjoying Peace in his Presence" by Sarah Young. The reviews are all glowing and after reading an excerpt, I was hooked. The lessons are short but strong, they chronicled a whole year starting with January 1st. There is scripture to look up at the end, which I personally love. It seemed like a perfect match. For me. After checking with the "what others who bought this"  said, I checked out the kids version and toddler picture bible. Then I found just what I was looking for in the "Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids". The scriptures mirrored the adult book. They were the exact same, but they were similar. The lessons were short as well, but in a great language to where my kiddos at 2 and 7 would understand. There was a short memory verse at the end as well. It seemed like a perfect match for our family. 

If you are a Kindle junky (guilty **raises hand**) they have both the kids and adult 365 devotions available. But they didn't group them together for an extra savings, nor did that include the toddle picture bible. That was at the time, I purchased them, so it may have changed. When I switched to hard cover, Amazon in their craftiness, gave me to option to purchase all three for $31 and since they were Prime items, the shipping was free. 

Side note: I love, love, love Prime shipping. Free shipping and you come to my door in 2 days? Click. Yes please!

I ordered them and have enjoyed using the books. The toddler bible is so much better than I expected. We have a few "story bibles" but this one is true to scripture without being to much information for little ones. The illustrations are beautiful. I love that they give the scripture at the top of each story so that, if you want with older kids, you can look it up and go more in depth. 

These devotionals are seamless across the board and work so awesome together. Sarah Young has several other books and I would love to purchase a few when I get a chance. It gives our little family a chance to read, understand and pray together while using language that is easy to understand. Also, If Daddy happens to miss a day for whatever reason, he can pick right up and not be lost. That I love as well. 

Amazon is still running the "purchase together" special on all three, so if you're interested, this would be the way to purchase them. 

 Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in his Presence

Mama Jelly

Monday, January 20, 2014

Camping, bunk beds, and American Heritage Girls

"Bunk beds are cool. It's a bed.......... With a ladder!" 
The Doctor
The gorgeous Hill Country of Texas was the backdrop to our lovely weekend. 

What do you get when you take a grown women, who has never camped, and throw her in the woods with 17 little girls to help watch over? Craziness and learning and a side of humor.

This past weekend, Miss A and I headed out into the wildness that is the Texas Hill Country with around 100 other girls ranging in ages from 6 to 18. Miss A is in her second year of American Heritage Girls and is currently a Tenderheart.. If you have never heard of AHG (American Heritage Girls will be referred to as AHG in the rest of the post. This is mainly because I'm lazy and I love a good acronym) don't worry, while this scouting group is fairly "new" on the block of girl groups who scout, it has been around for a few years. I will say here, that we were roughing it. Yes we stayed in cabins, with indoor plumbing, and amazing bunk beds, but there were 17 little girls ages 6/7/8 and 6 adults in one cabin. Learning to navigate girl drama, we parent's are now pros. 

A brief Background
AHG was started in 1995 by a group of parents in one mom's kitchen in Ohio. This pioneer mama wanted a character building scouting group that meshed Christian values and ideals while also incorporating learning in areas of outdoor skills, exploration, science, home skills and many others. She also wanted her young girls to be positively influenced by girls of all ages and by grown adults while keeping a sense of family traditions alive. Many AHG troops are run different ways, but at their core, they are a Christian focused group. The girls are not asked to sign any form of statement of faith, but may earn badges relative to their own denominations. Most AHG groups are chartered by a home church. AHG is perfect for our family and many others, to the tune of 20,000+ girls in 48 states and 7 countries. Everyday, an AHG troop springs up somewhere and it's membership has increased by over 50% each year since 1995.  American Heritage Girls is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.(from website)  For more information on AHG and find a troop near you, check out the website.

Camping and bunk beds
In December, we were told at a parent informational meeting that there would be the first ever South Texas Winter Camp. I'm going to be blatantly honest here and say, I am not what some most anyone-who-has-ever-met-me would call a "camper". I enjoy a good sporting section in Target and I will eat food on patios, but that is about the extent of my camping experience. My daughter, my free spirit, thinks camping is amazing. She enjoys the outdoors, hikes, nature study, leaf identification. Pretty much, if it can be done outside and possibly involves digging in dirt, sign her up. So naturally, when she heard that there was camping she was excited but then she heard that it was cabins and she was thrilled. 

"We can go mom, ya know, since we don't have a tent." 

So all month and into January, I listened to random songs about camping, sat through excited diatribes about what animals we would see, and estimates of how many smores she could stuff in her face. She happily read off the camping list, gathered her things, and packed her own part of the bag. We made matching t-shirts with the AHG creed on them and away we went into the Texas Hill Country. She was thrilled about sleeping in a bunk bed, I was thrilled that cougars were not as hungry in January as in the spring.  

As we arrived, checked in and unloaded, she was found happily making her bunk up. Miss A looked down at me at one point and exclaimed:

"Mom!! This is so cool! Bunk beds are cool. It's a bed............. with a ladder." 

All my Whovian friends out there will recognized the reference and then exclaim themselves "best moment ever!" I would have to agree with you, of course. 

After a dinner, which put the girls into the cabin groups they would be in, going over rules, and the buddy system, was prayers and a progressive story told by flashlight under chins, it was lights out. That was at 9pm. However, the girls were much too excited to sleep and around 2am most fell asleep. The rest took until 3am and everyone was promptly awake at 6:30am, a whole 15 min before the wake up alarm call. Opening Ceremony was at 7:15am.

Between learning about insects, making old magazines into new paper, making beaded jewlery, silk screen, PE, a hike, a map reading and knot tying demo and three meals, the girls were tired but loving and soaking up every single minute. This is what I have truly come to love about AHG. Camping with girls is hard, especially little girls, but the program has some amazing badges and the learning is just awesome. We honestly do reading, math and AHG in the summer, because to earn a badge takes several steps. For instance, Miss A had to make a correct map of her neighborhood, mark North, South, East, West, learn to read a compass and use it for direction to earn her orienteering badge. This is why AHG just rocks for our family. The badges earned are for real world as well as outdoor stuff. There are also service stars, as each girl has to do a set number of service hours in the community to earn a star yearly. There is also patches which are earned for things like father/ daughter BBQ's, mother/daughter teas, participating in Scout Sunday and National Day of Service among others. We ended the jam packed day, around the campfire while the girls preformed skits and ate smores. 

We did wind up leaving a whole day early, but that was because, if you are from South Texas and Mountain Cedar doesn't bother you, you are not from this planet. We happened to camp in the gorgeous Hill Country in Texas where the views are beautiful year round, but also happen to be in the middle of a Mountain Cedar forest. Miss A's allergies went haywire and she ended up miserable being outside all day in the woods and was seen by the onsite Doctor. He suggested taking her home to just get her out of it. Of course she was terribly disappointed and cried all the way home. Which in turn broke my heart. 

Camping? Again?

Our experience was so positive that yes, we will be camping again. I really want Miss A to love the outdoors and learn how to build fires and identify plants and animals as well as make crafts. I want her to feel as comfortable camping, as she does in our church volunteering. I also want her to understand the impact of a community that serves each other. These values are what I strive to provide for her all the while she is making lasting, lifelong friendships. There is another family camp coming up in the spring, and Miss A and I will gladly go.

 I can't wait to pack our sleeping bags, grab our solar lantern and go out and discover the world. 


Mother and daughter.

Learning side by side.

Growing,  in both our faith in God by the beauty we will be surrounded by, but also by the lessons we both will learn. 

 Now for some pictures from our weekend. Enjoy

Miss A and I in our handmade shirts.

Recycled paper making.

screen printing

The girls asking great questions about boat safety.

Learning how to correctly identify and put on a flotation device. 

Miss A in her bed with a ladder, hugging her solar lantern, happy as a clam. 

Mama Jelly

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Homeschooling when your personalities don't line up.

Or maybe the more appropriate title:

Home schooling when you are a Type A, by the book, worksheet, think inside the box teacher and your student is a free spirit who has never even heard of this so called "box" everyone thinks inside of. 

I'd love to sit and weave a magic tale of a pretty red hair women who became the mom to a pretty red haired girl and a curly blond headed boy. They all loved each other fiercely and all thought homeschool was the most important act everyday. In this story, the mom thinks up wonderfully creative and wildly engaging activities and the daughter sits quietly in her chair, works on her practice pages and doesn't whine when it comes to reading. Oh and if I'm writing a fairy tail, the little prince in this story is quiet as well and is always 100% dressed. And is clean. And doesn't eat crayons. 

The End.


But see, as I am sure you can guess, this isn't a fairy tale. This is real life home schooling. I'd love to talk about all the things we do, but for the most part, what we do, is make it from "kids up to daddy home" without burning down the house or visiting the ER. Real life homeschooling isn't my Pinterest boards of neat, organized rooms and happy children. No. This homeschool is messy and loud and unorganized and honestly, I don't know how on earth we learn anything most days. My real life school, is more like a small boy climbing the kitchen table screaming at his sister who has taken his car and who is proceeding to dance around with said car raised above her head. My real life school has Little B destroying Miss A's hard work in the land of Lego and then running away from her and sticking a Lego person down his diaper. This is my homeschool. This is my reality. Yes we do scripture (try not to laugh too loud) and math and reading in between the screaming and history. But mostly it is a crazy, complicated mess. 

And we are always late. EVERYWHERE. I can start 2 hours before time to be somewhere and still wind up being 15 min behind. Ever try and put shoes on a fish? This is what it is like putting shoes on Little B. 

I get annoyed and frustrated. Yes, I do yell. I hate that I do. I hate that sometimes I get frustrated and irritated and I take it out on my kids. I hate that so much. It happens, I'm not going to pretend otherwise. I am a recovering screamer. I try every single day, to do better. 

I have learned that my way of teaching is not her way of learning and that is a hard revelation. When I signed up to be a homeschool mom, I signed up for days filled with learning and joy, not tears and throwing up of hands. 

Through this journey we lovingly call "life" I have found that my daughter is tactile, needs to manipulate objects, bounce on an exercise ball to read, and needs a "fidget" to learn. She needs it, or no learning will be done on that day. She simply does not retain the information unless she is concentrating on it and that only happens when she is twisting pipe cleaners around her finger,or humming. I asked our Pediatrician once if this behavior was "normal" or were we looking at some sort of ADHD or other disorder. After testing her in the office, she came to the conclusion that this was her normal. She didn't have to move and wiggle and could focus her attention just fine but the help of aids (fidgets as we call them) greatly improved her ability to learn. 

Cue the giant freak out by mom.

You see, I immediately went to a dark place, where Miss A is in college and humming to herself while taking a test and she is called out for cheating and thrown out. In the rain. During a snow storm. Wearing one shoe.

I tend to get dramatic. 

I started to ask around to friends of mine who work with kids who have ASD or ADHD or other things. These nurses and pediatric therapists know us and more importantly Miss A well, and they all had one thing to say. This was normal for her. And she would grow out of it, or learn to control the nervous energy. That was it. Nothing else. 

So how does a Type A mom homeschool a creative, free spirit, artistic kid? How does a by the book mom homeschool a kid on an exercise ball?

Where is this book among the thousands on Amazon that state it's okay to be one personality type while your child is another and oh look, you aren't going to irreversibly screw them up? Is that under self help? Or Fiction?

I had absolutely no idea how I was going to accomplish this. 

On one hand, I can be creative. I love to craft and sew and create. On the other hand, I read directions, follow safety laws and generally have a plan for each day.

Miss A, however, draws and sings and dances and learns completely different from me. I don't mean just draws little stick figures, but she will fill pages and pages of her own drawings. She can look at a character and draw it, sometimes from memory. And she hums. I don't think y'all understand the scope of the humming. She does this when she is nervous, or testing, or drawing, or it's a Tuesday at 9:27 am. She hums in her sleep, full songs. I once went up to check on her and she was creepily humming the tune to Cars. Ya know "Life is a highway, I wanna drive it all night long." The full song, eerily in her sleep. She also tap dances and yodels. This is normally done waiting in line, during which the store is full to the max with people. Oh and if Little B could be having a epic melt down, well, that is even better. 

How was I going to teach an artistic kid math? Or reading? Or writing? I couldn't fathom a plan and that scared me more than anything else did. I had no plan. The scariest day for me was when we had to make the choice to continue homeschooling her or sign her up for public school. I was so distraught over this. I fully believe being a homeschool parent is a calling and right then, I felt I had heard someone else's calling and I was meant to tame monkey's at the zoo. I'd be good at that, I am sure of it.

 I was up reading late one evening, when I read about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The story talks about Jesus before his disciples, and he knows that Judas will betray him. He knows who will ask for proof after he is risen. He knows that this is really the last time they all will be together as they are before his Crucifixion. Knowing this, he washes the feet of his disciples. This was a humbling experience and when Simon Peter protests, Jesus gently tells him that this must be done. Simon then says to not only wash his feet, but his head and hands as well. He wanted to get all of what Jesus was trying to teach them. What stood out to me in this story in the scripture, was when Jesus tells his men, " Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:14-15

It stuck out to me in that moment, what I was doing. I trying to teach a lesson and instead of listening to my student and trying to make her understand my lesson, I was like a pharisee. I went about our homeschool, spouting truths and knowledge and never really teaching anything. My student was like Simon, she wanted not only her feet washed, but her hands and head when she learned a subject. I wanted only to check something off my list and move on. She wanted to be immersed in what I had to teach her, fully, bodily, in every way. I thought that because I was the teacher, I didn't really need to be taught. That isn't the case at all. My daughter can teach me so much if I just humble myself, give up my pride and listen to her. She has so much to offer me in the way of how to teach her, I just need to be willing to listen. Jesus knew what he was doing was symbolic. He knew the very importance of that moment would have a profound effect on those 12 lives. He could have spouted off scripture after scripture and roared to life the reasons he was so important. He didn't. He washed their feet. He humbled himself, removed his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. He needed to teach a lesson that could only be taught one way, and that was not the conventional way of Teacher/student relationships. 

I needed to stop and meet her where she was learning to have her fully understand the impact of my lessons. While mine are not as profound as Jesus washing the disciples feet, my lessons are fundamentals. They are parts of a whole that is education and something I have been entrusted to teach. I have been called and it wasn't until that very moment when I realized I had to think outside my own box to teach. It wasn't going to be easy. But I was now armed with a plan....... let her lead. 

Let her lead the educational adventure. Let her rock on a ball while reading Charlotte's Web. Let her go outside and throw water balloons at sight words and hula hoop to math facts. Let her lead, because I know the outcome if she does. She learns. She doesn't just retain facts and information, she learns and continues to learn and explore and look things up and dust off old learning to explore it some more. 

Now, in my story, we do not have a Judas who betrays our family for 30 pieces of silver but we do have my doubts that betray the nature of what I am trying to do. I am full of self doubt and guilt and stress over my own perceived ways of learning.  So my Type A self has learned to step back and let my free spirit child lead and take the educational reins. This doesn't, in anyway, mean we do "nothing" all day if she doesn't feel like it, but it does mean that shows on tornadoes maybe watched and experiments maybe done, before actual writing. It means that math is sometimes keeping within our budget at the grocery store, instead of practice worksheets at home. It means that reading sometimes means BINGO and games and Don't Break the Ice, than actual sitting down and reading out of book. This also doesn't mean the traditional way to teach/learn isn't introduced, it just means I have to learn to think outside the box along with my child who has no idea that thinking is ever square.

When I start to get stressed out about the teaching. When my mind races at all the shiny new curriculum coming out. When my wallet opens for those new school supplies I just know will make our learning experience that much greater, I am reminded of how the story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet ends. What Jesus tells his disciples. 

"16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

No servant is greater than his master. No messenger grater then the one who sent him. Powerful reminder as we start a new year. A teacher can and should learn from her student and her student can and should teach lessons that impact the teacher. For only when we give and receive and realize that our children are teaching us right along side us teaching them, only then can we be truly be blessed.

Do you have a different teaching or learning style than your child? I would love to hear from seasoned homeschoolers on how they tackle this in their own homes. 

Jelly Mama

Monday, December 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Reboot


 [v. ree-bootn. ree-bootree-boot] Computers.
verb (used with object)
to restart (a computer) by loading the operating systemboot again.
verb (used without object)
(of a computer) to be restarted.
an act or instance of restarting a computer.

While the act of rebooting is clearly an IT term, in this little blog, it means a fresh start. I started off last year with big plans, but somewhere between January and December, I found that keeping up with a blog is so very difficult and time consuming. See, I tried to start out as some sort of thousand reader blog, when in reality, My mom and my husband read my blog. And only when I remember to tell them I have written something. 

I have taken the last year to really read up on how to run an effective blog and how to write and how to network and what to do and defiantly the thousands of others posts on what NOT to do, and so on. It has always been my intention, however, to be authentic. I really don't want to be yet another homeschool/crafting/mommy blog. Those are needed and great and have created their niche market without my adding to it. I want to blog about our daily happenings and possibly our silliness and occasionally our messiness. I want a running, year long, single view of our little family, and if no one ever reads these words but my mother and husband and myself, well that's just fine. One day, when my children are grown, I'd love to pull up this little nothing blog and show my them my words when I had things on my heart that needed to be said but I couldn't get passed my lips. I want them to read the words and hear my voice, see my struggles, read about times when I was unsure. I want them to read about what I thought when events happened in our small little lives.

It really boils down to the fact, that I am there for these two kiddos. I am present for homeschool lessons and park days. I encourage, instruct, direct and discipline. But my children don't get to hear my inner dialog of self doubt when letting them fly. They don't get to share in the personal journey of being their mother, just the security of their mother loving them. I want them to one day read these words and think "I remember that but to hear my mom's thoughts puts a perspective on it I didn't understand until now." 

When I was a child, I was playing in mother's makeup and putting on her clothes and I found her diary from when she was a teenager. I remember reading the words she had written before I was even thought of and feeling the same things as her. I was 14 at the time and trying desperately to fit in and find my voice. I read her words and there was a comfort to them. A sort of written confirmation that the amazing women who was raising me, was once unsure of herself, just like me. I read about a girl who had crushes and who lacked self esteem, just like me.  I read about a girl who wanted to be something before she had become something. 

It was awe-inspiring. 

It was chilling.

It was amazing.

To read her words, felt to me, that I had stepped into a world so like my own yet still different. It helped me realize that my mother was once a little struggling girl. It was the moment it sank in that she was ever my age, since before that, I had convinced myself she was born a women in a business suit who worked hard. It was the best book I had ever read. It was her words, her thoughts, her struggles that made mine seem similar. 

And I want that for my children.

I want them to read this blog and hear me, hear my words. 

I am not a big "New Year's Resolution" person. I am kinda lazy in that regard, as I think about making a list but never actually get around to putting the list to paper. This year is different. This year, I have had some time to really look at what I want to reboot in 2014. Through prayer and meditation, I come to realize that 4 areas of my life can be improved upon. These areas aren't broken or downtrodden, but as in all things, we can't be stagnant when it comes to ourselves. Continuously moving forward, ever evolving, changing, bettering ourselves is what keeps us fresh and alive. A New Year is full with so many opportunities to be a little bit better. For us to change things and reboot others. This year the 4 areas of rebooting are, in no particular order:

Family (being more present, more active, more involved with both my children and my husband)
Spiritual (drawing closer to God as a women, married couple, and family)
Health (Not only eating right and exercising but taking time to be still and meditate)
Education (learning, discovering, reading and building on my own knowledge base)

I'm praying that this blog helps to keep me accountable when it comes to these four areas. In the coming days and after the first of the year, I will be putting up links with these to help those who want to read (mom and Big B, this means you) to get to the blog posts faster. 

I also am praying that my voice in the blogsphere is authentic and uniquely my own. 

Happy New Year and welcome to the Reboot

Mama Jelly  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just a little Sign, Please


When he signs "Love you" it's always to his sister, but this morning, it was to me, mom. My heart melted even if he did sign "Love you" while I'm changing a diaper.

When that perfect little bundle is handed to you and you stare down at those little eyes, that little nose, it doesn't matter who you are because suddenly that child in your arms is the most beautiful creature you have ever seen. To a mom, it doesn't matter if your little one is a boy, a girl, has Down Syndrome, is born with extra toes, born with sight problems, or is missing a limb. That child, resting in your arms is the most beautiful baby that has ever been born at that moment. Period. And you will protect, fight and love that baby with every thing inside you.
To most moms, especially NICU moms, that moment you lock them in the car seat to go home is the most joyous. You are now on your own after weeks or months in the NICU, to love and live with this tiny bundle entrusted to you. My Facebook post on the day we brought Bryce home after spending time in the NICU was:
"Ready......Set......GOOOOOOO!!! Here we go, all 4 of us are finally all together. Car seat locked in and off we go. Home."
From the time I was 17 weeks until Little B came at 34.2weeks, I fought to keep him in. I was on bed rest because of my high blood pressure and because Little B had tried to come as early as 21 weeks. I would lay around all day with a 4 year old active Miss A and try just to keep from having contractions. I remember one night, rushing the 25 minutes to the hospital, tears streaming down my face, praying to God "Please please not now!" I was having such strong contractions that I couldn't stand up, I couldn't breathe and they were coming every 2minutes. I was wheeled up to Labor and Delivery and when I saw the tiny NICU incubator and the 2 NICU nurses, I lost it. I was only 29 weeks, no this couldn't be happening. Thank goodness the doctor's controlled my labor and, after a 3 day stay on the L&D floor with meds pumping in my system, my contractions finally stopped. It would be 4 times total that I would be admitted and kept in L&D until finally, at 36 weeks, I was too far dilated to stop the labor safely. Little B was born with a hole in his lung called a Pneumothorax which caused his lungs to not inflate and my little man to struggle to breathe. After a CODE BLUE (where B stopped breathing altogether) and several very scary set backs, we were released from the NICU. We brought him into the doctor's office at 6weeks and had his hearing checked again, since he had failed both hearing tests in the NICU. He failed the one in the office as well. We were told he was very little and many times a NICU baby will fail a hearing test until they reach their gestational age. He would fail his hearing tests once more.
At 11months, thinking he had an ear infection, I took him into the office for a check up. He didn't have an ear infection, but the doctor noticed his ear canal was misshaped. He sent us home with instructions to see a specialist. The specialist would tell us that Little B was born with an "Organic Malformation" of his Ear drum and Ear canal. This means that when B was in utero, his ears didn't form right. We were told that he was deaf, that he would never talk. Big B and I were devastated. This was May of 2012.
How could we have a child who was deaf? How could that be? This wasn't in the plans. We had gotten pregnant with B without fertility drugs, without a doctor's help. that was a miracle since we were told we would not conceive without help and up until Little B, we hadn't. Then we dedicated Little B one year after we were told we would not conceive with IVF, to the month. Surely that was a sign, right? B was born is such a dramatic fashion, but he has never had breathing issues since, didn't need surgery and the hole closed so completely that the X-Ray Tech and the NICU doctor both had to make sure it was there to begin with. Surely that was God saying "I've got this Sticky Family". That HAD to be a sign, right? Deaf? Our baby boy was deaf? D-E-A-F! No, no NO...... clearly that had to be a mistake.
It wasn't. We spent the entire summer of 2012 talking to audiologists and speech therapists. We started getting services from Easter Seals and went to group play therapy. Our little man couldn't hear. As much as I would have liked to say " we took it all in stride" we didn't. Big B denied it because this was his little boy. I told only a handful of people because, right or wrong, I felt guilty for not being able to keep him in until the full 40 weeks. This was my fault, I just knew it. It wasn't my fault, it wasn't anyones fault.
By the time August came around I had absorbed myself in self pity long enough. I made one post on my Facebook page, telling all of our friends and family the news:
"After feeling sorry for myself for 3 months, I am finally done. Little B is deaf in his left ear and HOH in his right. We may have a child who can not hear, but his smile can light up a room."
The out poring of love from our family and friends was amazing. We had people getting us in contact with mother's here in our little part of Texas who were deaf or had hearing impaired kids. We had people who I knew had hearing problems calling and talking to us. I became closer to a women I know, who I now consider my "sounding board and helpful hints" in the deaf community. (Thank you Kimberly!!!) We had this amazing support system and we finally felt it okay to say the words "Special needs" without crying or feeling a choking since of anxiety.
It is now January 2013 and we have had so many amazing signs that our Little B is a true miracle. First is, we were told he was missing a a bone is his left ear. We had two scans confirming the missing bone, but after he was prayed for, the next scan showed a very underdeveloped hammer (the bone he was missing). The next came in speech. For months, Little B had made no oral sounds to try and speak, but more recently, he has made great strides. He now waves and says "I". He understands some simple commands and can sign up to 20 different signs. He is truly amazing, and we are no longer afraid to tell the world about our little boy.
Still, with all this wonderful strides he is making, I still worry. You see, this week is the week he gets his hearing aids. This week is the week we go and get those outward signs that says "something is wrong" to the world. As a logical person, I know that is really is needed and helpful and important, but as a mom.......... As a mom I am scared. Will people stare? Will they say something rude? Will they judge him? or worse feel sorry for him? Will kids make fun of him when he is a little older? Will he fit in? I'm scared. I'm nervous.
I know that once the aids go in, his speech will improve. I long to hear him say "Mom" just once. I will cry the day he does because I have waited so very long for him to say anything, but that word "mom"...... that is my dearest word. I can't wait to watch his face when has hears his sister's voice or when he hears music. I understand these aids are important, I get it. I'm just nervous. No parent wants their kid to be "different" even though each child brings with them a difference that is profound and all their own. Once he puts on the hearing aids, the world will know that he can not hear correctly without them. It's normal to feel apprehensive. It's okay to have these feelings. It's okay to feel unsure about the future. It's normal. Every mom or deaf person I have talked to has had these feelings or something similar, so I understand it's okay. I know that our little community of family and friends who love us will accept Little B no matter what he looks like, But the world can be cruel sometimes and I worry. 
He is my Little B, my little miracle, my little man. He is my child and I will fight and protect and love him. I will change him and tear up when he signs "Love You" and rejoice when he dances with his special headphones on made for HOH people. I love him because he is my baby. I thank God everyday for giving me him.
But I worry.
Mama Jelly 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oragnization in the mist of paper confetti

Today I have a helper who is eager to learn all about organization. Okay, the truth is, if I get out my computer, Little B gets out his and then signs for me to "sit". He likes to work alongside mommy, but working is hard, so a snack is always needed.
Yesterday I sat down 4 times to write a blog post about organization and my quest to have a better organized home by the end of 2013. Each time I sat down, inevitably one or the other child would need something. At one point, I was doing the chores list I printed out. I was going along, checking off things and feeling accomplished. I was one proud peacock, until I turned the corner and saw that both kids had found the one confetti stick from New Year's Celebration at the Children's museum. For whatever reason I had put one of the confetti sticks, still full, into the diaper bag and carried it home. I'll stop here and mention that it never fails, my diaper bag is a variable "Mary Poppins" carpet bag. I promise, sometimes I pull out lamps and mirrors from the very bottom...... maybe even a potted plant or two.
I digress. One of the kids, the youngest dirtiest one, found this stick and was shaking it. A few pieces of tissue paper confetti came out. This prompted the other one, the larger less dirty one, to grab the stick and shake it hard. There was a loud POP and BAM! Confetti everywhere. Both kids thought this was a perfect way to spend a few minutes and proceeded to throw the confetti around. I, however, looked on my carefully thought out chores list for "clean up confetti", sadly it was on there. I think the original author is missing out on not cleaning up confetti. It wasn't until last night, when I, at 2:30am finally crawled into bed, found more confetti on my side of the bed. Apparently the stairs were not enough to contain this awesomeness, and one of the kids felt the need to stuff our covers with it. It was like a party happened in our bed and I was the last to arrive. Sigh.....
Anyway, what's the point of today's post? Organization? Oh yes, that's right. I was on my favorite site PINTEREST!!!! Pinterest oh how I heart thee.
I'm on Pinterest in preparation for my organizational trip this year. I stumbled across a few "Home Management" binders with free printables and great ideas. I started thinking "why yes, I do believe I can put together a home Management Binder". I came across a really great article on Money Saving Mama. she has several free printables to add to a home binder. I say, go check it all out and use what will work for you. Today, I'll walk you through my first few pages.
I mainly used this one site for the majority of my binder. This women makes organizational skills look effortless. I wonder if I should hire her to make me organized and therefore I will make it look easy? Hummmmm something to think about.
Anyway, the blog is called Organizing Homelife and she sure does. Here is the link to the beginning of her 31 Days of Home Management where she has all her printables for her binder. They all rock!!! Check out the link Here.
So to start, here is where I am at.
I used an old school binder from college way back when I went in 1778. It's the first binder ever made! LOL
So here I should mention that I am....... um thrifty? Okay, I'll admit it, I'm cheep. I didn't want to print out 365 pages of "daily chores" and "daily Plan of attacks" so I did what we do in homeschool. I made wipe offs the cheep way.
1 sheet of printed on paper
1 page protector
1 dry erase marker
(Jazz hands? Yes, I think it's warranted)
 I guess Little B either found the dry erase marker, or he has a plan of attack he wants known.
I printed out the "Plan of Attack" sheets from HERE in this LINK. I like these because it gives me a quick snippet of what the day will bring, what times things occur etc. Even having a place for me to plan out Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I know, I'm creative with my waffles and Leftovers.
These I covered in those page protectors and then, at the end of the week I just wipe it off and start over.
Money Saving Mom has a ton of Printables to choose from to make up what some Home Management binders may lack for you. While I mainly used one, I added some pages from here as well.
I am currently using her own cleaning list until I can come up with some of my own add ons. For now, she has a great stepping off point.
So there you have it, the start to my Home Management Binder. Tomorrow I'll show how I do my calendar, manage my blog ideas, and manage my ever growing to-do list.
Mama Jelly