### January 2010

I was doing math with JR today.  He has been getting a bit stuck with “before,”  “after,” “more,” and “less” numbers when we go above 20.  So, we were practicing, and it went something like this:

• Me:  “What comes ‘after’ 27?”
• JR:  “28”
• Me:  “What is ‘before’ 27?”
• JR: “26”
• Me: “What is ‘more’ than 26?”
• JR:  “ummmm….”
• Me:  “OK, more means bigger.  27 is more than 26.  Like, do you want 26 pieces of candy or 27 pieces?”
• JR:  “26”
• Me:  “No, honey, 27 is more, so you would want 27 pieces of candy, right?”
• JR:  “But, Mom, too much sugar would make me sick, so I only want 26!”
• Me:  completely speechless

How am I supposed to explain math with a child who doesn’t reason normally?!  Yet, I can’t argue with that!

A friend sent me this, and I know many of you can relate:

Military Wife

Lots of moving…
Moving…
Moving…
Moving far from home…
Moving two cars, three kids and one dog…all riding with HER of course.
Moving sofas to basements because they won’t go in THIS house; Moving curtains that won’t fit; Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours.
Moving away from friends;
Moving toward new friends;
Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.

Often waiting…
Waiting…
Waiting…
Waiting for housing.
Waiting for orders.
Waiting for deployments.
Waiting for phone calls.
Waiting for reunions.
Waiting for the new curtains to arrive.
Waiting for him to come home,
For dinner…AGAIN!

They call her ‘Military Dependent’, but she knows better:
She is fiercely In-Dependent.

She can balance a check book;
Handle the yard work;
Fix a noisy toilet;
Bury the family pet…

She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts.
She can file the taxes;
Sell a house;
Or set up a move…
…..all with ONE Power of Attorney.

She welcomes neighbors that don’t welcome her.
She reinvents her career with every PCS; Locates a house in the desert, The Arctic, Or the deep south.
And learns to call them all ‘home’.
She MAKES them all home.

Military Wives are somewhat hasty…
They leap into:
Decorating,
Volunteering,
Career alternatives,
Churches,
And friendships.
They don’t have 15 years to get to know people.
Their roots are short but flexible.
They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.

Military Wives quickly learn to value each other:
They connect over coffee,
Rely on the spouse network,
Accept offers of friendship and favors.

Military Wives have a common bond:
The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique.
He doesn’t have a ‘JOB’
He has a ‘MISSION’ that he can’t just decide to quit…
He’s on-call for his country 24/7.
But for her, he’s the most unreliable guy in town!
His language is foreign
TDY
PCS
OPR
SOS
ACC
BDU
ACU
BAR
CIB
And so, a Military Wife is a translator for her family and his.
She is the long- distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.

A Military Wife has her moments:
She wants to wring his neck;
Dye his uniform pink;
Refuse to move to Siberia;
But she pulls herself together.
Give her a few days,
A travel brochure,
A long hot bath,
A pledge to the flag,
A wedding picture,
And she goes.
She packs.
She moves.
She follows.

Why?
What for?
How come?
You may think it is because she has lost her mind.
But actually it is because she has lost her heart.
It was stolen from her by a man,
Who puts duty first,
Who longs to deploy,
Who salutes the flag,
And whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military Husband, She will remain his military wife.
And would have it no other way.

–Author Unknown

We FINALLY had the much-anticipated appointment with the neurologist this morning.  She was very kind, gave N a full evaluation which included measuring his head, checking his muscles tone (tight) and reflexes (extra sensitive), and checking his joint range of motion (also tight).  She said there is no explanation other than cerebral palsey (CP).  While we basically determined that fact from previous doc appointments and research, what was nice about today is that we actually got some information about what to expect.

While he is still young enough that it is difficult to predict, she was very impressed with his level of alertness, his activity level, his physical abilities, and the joint range-of-motion he DID have.  She said it was very unusual to see a CP kid in as good a shape as he is.  Because he was tight from the day we received him (4 days old), she is pretty confident the CP-causing injury happened in-utero.  In any case, she said that she is pretty confident he will walk with little to no aid.  While he may need leg braces in the beginning, he likely won’t need them permanently.  There is a catch, however, and that is that we have to get into a regular daily routine of stretching his muscles.  Apparently the muscle tightness caused by CP can result in joints being used less and less, which in turn can cause the joints to basically freeze up.  So, while the condition itself does not get worse, the physical abilities can decrease if not treated properly.  Therefore, each joint must be exercised on a daily basis to ensure they are used, which will prevent them from freezing up.  While daily stretching will likely be something that has be done for several years (if not, for life), she said it is highly likely that he will seem completely normal otherwise, and any disability will be difficult, if not impossible to detect just by looking at him.  We consider this to be wonderful news!  She also warned me that CP does affect every muscle of the body.  Therefore, while he will walk, he will likely be very delayed.  Furthermore, potty-training may be affected.  Again, he will be able to be potty-trained, but he may be delayed based on how his muscles develop.  Guess I better prepare myself for another long while of diaper changes!

The next step is an MRI, which will hopefully take place in the next 2-3 weeks, then another appointment with the neurologist to discuss the brain issues involved.  In the mean time, we will be doing physical therapy twice a week, to learn how to exercise and stretch his little body.  Just for the record, N seems to enjoy the workouts for the most part.  He has always been such a happy baby that he just loves any attention.  He only gets a little cranky after you pick on one area for longer than he likes, or when you are working on the joints that are excessively tight (which gets uncomfortable for him).

We praise God for the good news we got today, as well as the fact that God has provided N with a family that has good insurance, medical care, the ability to stay home with him and work with him as needed, and just when he may need it most, the chance to live and work on a farm and/or with horses (horseback therapy is awesome for CP kids!)  God always works things out for the best, and perhaps N is the reason much of our life is coming to together the way it is.

I can’t believe it has been almost 2 years since I began homeschooling, and almost 1 year since we decided to make an official thing that we will continue to do.  I sat down the other day to began planning out next year’s curriculum.  Wow!  It is just so hard to believe how fast the time has gone.  In any case, I am working on new goals for myself as manager of my home (when Dad is away) and as the main teacher of our homeschool.  I am also working on new goals for each child. The biggest challenge next year is that M will also be starting school.  She will have only basics, and it won’t take long each day.  However, she will be introduced to schooling so she is ready for next year, and hopefully get a bit of a headstart.  My personal goals include:

• Daily “Bible class.”  We already do family worship and Bible time with Daddy, and although we started that this year with a class time, I allowed to drift for several legitimate reasons I was trying to work out in my head.  I think I finally have it all worked out, and a better understanding of what the intent should be, so I hope to re-introduce it with the new year and the new schedule.  Rather than Bible reading, I think the focus will be learning songs, signs for some songs, and scripture.  This is something which we have begun doing in our family worship time, but I think it takes up a lot of family time to teach.  It seems it might work better to do the teaching as part of our school day, and just have Daddy do the reviews.  Plus, if they already know the songs, they will be able to participate more in the worship time.
• Teach M to read.  She has been begging for a few months now, and I have done some limited work with her.  However, I need her help more with the younger kids during JR’s school time.  So, I am planning more activities to keep the babies occupied so I can actually sit down with her and work through “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”
• More reading time.  This is becoming a big issue.  I allow myself to get too busy with “busy work” some days.  Some of the work is perfectly legitimate like house-cleaning and food prep, but other stuff is not nearly as important.  Day after day goes by, and I feel like I have spent little time focused on the children.  I began looking at a way to remedy this, remembered how much I enjoyed sitting down with all the kids and reading our way through the Moody Family series a while back, and realized that might be the perfect solution.  I plan to pick up the next couple of installments of the series next month.  Since we have already finished our science book for the year, and JR’s computer lessons are getting a bit too advanced for him, I think we are going to go ahead and start some daily reading this year and get into the habit.  Then we’ll be ready for some classics next year.  Thus, part of my busywork involves researching appropriate books.  Some of the traditional classics we do not feel are appropriate for the children right now.  I am on the search for some wholesome, moral and upright, Christian character books that will aid in their spiritual and character growth as well as their reading comprehension and education.
• Actual curriculum.  I’m still working on this one, but I think I will go with Abeka again.  I truly enjoyed the already-planned curriculum and textbook system.  I have learned to adapt to make it fit us, and I love the way the prepared lesson plans reduce my work load.  However, there were one or two areas I felt could have been improved, so I am researching better options through other curriculums for those areas.
• Potty-training.  Ok, so it’s not really school related for the big kids, but I think we are looking to start the real potty-training with A after we settle into our new home this summer.  I am hoping it will be as easy as JR, as I have never attempted homeschooling while potty-training.  However, the desire to get down to just 1 baby in diapers will likely spur me on!

I think most homeschool moms would agree that the ordering the materials for the following year is almost like getting presents at Christmas.  I am already getting so eager to check out the new stuff.  Unfortunately, with the move, I may have to wait (depending on when we actually move) to order our things until we re-locate.  Time will tell in that area.  In the mean time, I am going try to set some new habits now to help us out next year.

God is so good, and so faithful.  That is an easy thing to say sometimes, but occasionally (probably more than we realize) He chooses to reveal his goodness in all its glory, right before our very eyes.

My last post was about little N’s recent diagnosis that he “most likely” had CP.  To expound a bit further, we were told by several specialists and therapists over the last few weeks that he would most likely not be able to stand, walk, or balance without some intervention, and possibly some type of physical aids such as leg braces.  If he has CP, it is likely very mild, as his upper body (waist up) seems to work fine.  It is his lower body/legs that he seems to have trouble with.

That said, S and I did quite a bit of research this week, trying to learn what we could about CP.  It didn’t take long for us to find his exact symptoms and get a picture of what our near future MIGHT involve.  We resigned ourselves to pray first, then simply continue encouraging him to try new things and progress his development, and to do what the doctors said as best we could.  I scheduled his neurology appointments and physical therapy appointment (the first of which is today).

I don’t know if God thought we needed a reminder that He is still in charge, or if He just felt like blessing us tremendously for some unknown reason (maybe just because that’s who God is!), but whatever the case, I was bathing all the kids the other evening.  As usual, I finished up with N, got him all coconut-oiled and dressed, did the same for A, then looked up to start working on the older 2.  And I saw this:

He was wobbly-kneed and on his tip-toes, but by-george, N had pulled himself to a standing position!  Since that time, he does it frequently, on anything he desires.  He hasn’t figured out how to take a step or move his feet yet, but man, oh, man, are we excited!

Thank you Lord!

It is hard to believe that one year ago, I was flying to FL to pick up little N.  Of our four children, he has been our easiest little guy, and is known for those killer eyes and that happy, smiling expression.  The year hasn’t been without its challenges, though, the greatest of which we are just learning about.

Ever since N came home, the pediatrician has been watching him for an issue he was having with extra tight muscles.  As the months passed, his upper body gradually loosened up, but the lower body remained pretty tight.  As a result, he was delayed for a while in sitting up.  Now that he is 1 year, it was concerning, as he couldn’t crawl normally, he couldn’t pull up to a standing position, and he has no balance when placed into a standing position.  We also noticed that he couldn’t seem to flatten out his feet.  Any ballet teacher would love his pointed toes!  Our previous appointments have led us to his pediatrician, the state’s Early Intervention program, and, as of today, an orthopaedist.

The general consensus until today was that he had short Achilles tendons in his heels, which were preventing his feet from stretching.  So, I took him in today expecting to hear confirmation of that and possibly be prescribed some specialized boots to help his feet stretch.  SURPRISE!  Turns out, apparently little N has CP (Cerebral Palsy).  I did NOT expect to hear that!  He most likely has a very mild form that will primarily affect only his lower half, but it looks like our journey into this new chapter has just begun.  We now have to see a Neurologist to figure out the location of the brain issue, and hopefully the severity.  That will likely involve a CT scan, which will most likely involve putting him to sleep (YIKES!) It may also give us an idea what to expect in the near future with his development.

So, now I am busy trying to learn about CP.  It also looks like we won’t know the extent of his condition for a couple of years yet, as there are so many variables with development, including environment, opportunity, intervention, etc.  Our goal for now is just to see the specialists, get him involved in therapy a soon as possible, and treat him like we have treated all our toddlers.

But first, we have a first birthday to celebrate.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”                                       –Isaiah 40: 28-29

S and I have been doing a lot of talking about the farm and the general operation of it.  One of the big topics we have been discussing is the animals we will be raising on it.  We have very limited grazing, but lots of brush and forrested area.  Of course, we also have preferences with anything we do, and like to research and find the best options possible.  For example, we want our animals to be as low maintence as possible.  This means efficient feed converters, good breeders, good mothers, naturally gentle and easily handled with some training (we do have a number of children after all!), able to thrive in our farm environment, and so forth.  As we got further into research, we also developed an interest in heritage breeds.  These are breeds of animals that were raised traditionally.  In fact, many contributed to our modern day breeds.  Because breed quality and health traits were more desirable than appearance and such was (like today), the animals tended to be a great deal lower maintenance and much hardier than modern day breeds.  Unfortunately, many of these fascinating breeds are quickly going extinct or are endangered in most of the world.  For more information, check out http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html .  You may be surprised to find some breeds on the list there.

In any case, while we have not made any final decisions, we are getting closer all the time.  I love the fact we are planning so far in advance.  For example, we have changed our minds on goat breeds several times, as we find out about how noisy, messy, or other undesirable qualities that might be involved.  So, just for fun, I thought I would post photos about some of the animals we are currently considering, all of which happen to be heritage breeds, meaning we would be contributing to the continuance of a traditional breed as well as farming.

The Arapawa goat. I am still learning about this breed, but like what I've learned so far, and there happens to be a breeder not far from us.

American Chincilla Rabbit. Don't you just want to run your fingers through that fur?

Naturally- polled black Dexter cow. We chose this cow strictly because of the convenience we have in acquiring one, however, it seems to be a great, dual-purpose cow to learn from. We have already planned it with the rancher such that she will begin watching for good heifer for us, and have it bred the year before we buy it. It will be a little risky, since the heifer will likely be a first-freshener, but a good learning experience nonetheless.

The Large Black Hog. As its name implies, this heritage breed is a gigantic black hog. However, it is also known for its gentleness, low rooting tendencies, and hardiness in a pasture environment. I'm not sure when the hogs will be added to our farm, as this is the one species I know NOTHING about. My experience is limited to working with a few Vietnames Pot-Bellied pigs at a zoo for a few years.

So there you have it.  Of course, there will be a few other critters, but these are the biggies for now.  Can’t wait to see how it all plays out.  BTW, if any of you readers knows a good source of info or where I could acquire these critters, let me know!

Ever wonder how Dads keep those impressive biceps and triceps?  They do “Daddy bench-presses!”  All they need is a willing child:

Prepare for lift-off

Lift-off

Catch and repeat as desired, or until child is giggling too hard to breathe.

I found the most adorable hat (with attached tie/scarf)  at a yard sale for \$1, and it was so cute, I couldn’t pass it up.  M loved it from the moment she saw it, and, on cold days, she loves to dress up in her hat, gloves, and boots to play outside.

On this particular day, I guess she thought it was cold enough for everything but her coat.  I think it was a freezing 50 degrees out!

Well…..sort of.  I do still have to buy the popcorn kernels.

This is a favorite treat of the kids, and so much cheaper and healthier than store-bought microwave popcorn!

1.  Collect supplies

• Popcorn kernels (I prefer organic)
• Brown paper lunch bag
• Other ingredients and flavorings as desired

2.  Pour about 1/4 cup kernels into bag

3.  Pour in additional ingredients.  We always put in about 1 Tbs. butter.  Sometimes we throw in 1 Tbs. sugar for a kettle-corn effect.

4.  Roll top of bag several times, and shake to coat kernels with other ingredients a bit.

5.  Microwave bag using the popcorn setting, or for about 3.5 minutes (or until popping slows).  Be careful, it will burn easily if cooked too long.  Be aware, if you use butter, it will soak through the bag, but I’ve never had a problem with it making a mess.  The bag is pretty absorbent.

6.  Remove from microwave, pour into bowl, and enjoy.  Careful, it’s hot!

This can also be done on the stove top, however, I always burn mine, so I prefer the microwave for now.   🙂

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