Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's On The Agenda

School is just around the corner. My friend, Kim, just listed all of the curriculum that she will be using with her four kiddoes this year. My list wasn't nearly as lengthy. I thought I'd do the same, just for fun...

The last of Mary Alice's books just arrived a couple of weeks ago. I was absolutely giddy when I saw that huge box of books on the front doorstep. The kids and I dragged the box inside and tore into it. Mary Alice was smiling and laughing and commenting on the wonderful new book smell. (She shares my love for books.) Major just sat there with his arms crossed and a huge scowl on his face. He said, "I don't like Mary Alice's school. I am not excited." When I asked him why he didn't like school he frowned and said, "Mary Alice can't play any more. She just ignores me and does her work." Poor buddy. He has been used to having his big sis as his constant companion. His world is about to change.

I am looking for some type of fun (and minimal) phonics program for the Maje. I don't believe in beating kids to death with flashcards, worksheets and facts at the age of 4. I just want something fun that I can do with him a few minutes a day that is just for him. I really want something with games and music....nothing too formal.

I am so excited to begin this new year with Mary Alice! It is amazing what she will be learning this year. The great thing is that I am going to be learning right along with her.

Here is what we will be working through this year:

Sonlight History 1 with Read Alouds Just look at all of the fun books she will be going through this year!

We will also use A Child's History Of the World and The Usborne Book of World History with her history curriculum.

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!! I was especially impressed with A Child's History of The World. It presents a great overview of world history from the beginning of time until now. It looks like it is going to be a fun read for both of us. One of the things that I love about this curriculum is the fact that it teaches kids to have a broad world view, to discover all of the things that happened long before our country ever came to be. I think this year is going to be fascinating!

Sonlight Science 1 I really enjoy this curriculum. It is perfectly suited for Mary Alice, as it requires LOTS of reading. There is also a cheesy but funny Science DVD that features a mad scientist completing all of the year's experiments. Both of my kids love to watch this. Last year, we would usually watch a couple of experiments each week, whichever experiments happened to correspond with what she was learning that week. Mary Alice became a little mad scientist herself last year and could often be found in our kitchen performing some of the experiments on her own. This worked out great most of the time. This year I need to be better about supervising the kids. I will never forget the day that Mary Alice was supposed to be performing an experiment with citric acid. This experiment involved tasting the final product. She grabbed the wrong pouch (a pouch full of baby powder) and came running into me spitting and crying because she knew she had done something wrong. Poor girl! I am sorry to say that, as much as I tried, it rarely worked for me to do the experiments with the kids last year. It just seemed like too much trouble, when all the kids had to do was watch the DVD to see the same thing without the trouble or the mess.

One of the things that I like best about our history and science curriculums is that they involve lots and lots of reading. We like to utilize one of our favorite places, the library, to get additional materials. I get online and select dozens of interesting looking books that have to do with what we will be studying the next week, request them, then pick them up before the week's studies began. This curriculum is a perfect fit for my little bookworm.

For Math, we have decided to go with Singapore Math again. We used this last year and were very pleased.

We are using Bob Jones curriculum for English and Spelling. I really like Bob Jones curriculum for language arts. It is very thorough. I like it because, along with being educational, it is also colorful and not at all boring. We will definitely have fun with this curriculum this year! Mary Alice really enjoyed her Bob Jones Phonics and English from last year.

One of the things that I am most excited about this year is THIS. This Geography Songs CD is just an extra thing that I thought I would purchase. It has a CD with catchy little tunes that teach songs about the countries of the world. I'm sure that we won't go through all of it this year, but may go through different bits of it as it fits in with our studies of various countries in history. I thought that it was something that both of the kids would enjoy. Fun fun fun!!!

We are using A Reason For Handwriting again this year. I really like this handwriting curriculum because Mary Alice gets to improve her penmanship by writing Scripture.

Last year, I read through Egermeier's Bible Story book with the kids. This is what we used for our day to day Bible. I tried to aim for once a week in teaching them Bible using my Children Desiring God curriculum just to spice things up. It usually turned out to be more like every two weeks. :) I am still looking for another Bible story book to go through this year. I like things that are halfway meaty. I would love a recommendation on another good story Bible if anyone has one.

We're still looking at purchasing Rosetta Stone for Mary Alice. A friend of mine used their French program with her daughter last year and loved it. We are thinking about purchasing the Spanish curriculum for her. I am not sure whether or not we will purchase this. We've been talking about it for months and ordered the demo CD, etc. We're still thinking about it...

That is an overview of our curriculum for the year. I have had plenty of things to post, but have been really tired lately. I have so much to say, but by the time the kids are in bed, I feel like getting into my bed too!

Speaking of which, I think I'm going to head off to bed right now! Good night!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Smith Family Reunion

Thanks to all of you for the well wishes and prayers for the health of our baby. We appreciate it so much!!

Our family just got back from a weekend in Abilene, where we attended Josh's annual family reunion. I blogged about this event last year. At the reunion, everyone in the family sets up their tents and camps out in Josh's aunt's back yard. It sounds strange, but it is really quite fun.

You can go to my sister-in-law's blog to read all about it and to see a few preggo pictures of the four pregnant women who were present at the reunion.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Look What God Is Doing!

Many of you already know this, but I figured that it was time to go ahead and spill the beans to the blog world. I am almost 17 weeks pregnant!!! This is the reason that my posts have been few and far between. For a long time I simply didn't feel like doing ANYTHING unless it was an absolute necessity. I still don't really feel like doing much, but am pushing myself to do just a little bit more each day.

There are so many ways that God has provided for me during this time. I will name just a few. Do you remember how excited I was about getting finished with Mary Alice's school over a month early back in April? I had grand plans of rewarding her for her diligence with a month of fun field trips to parks, museums, etc. My plan was to beat the summer crowd to all of the super fun locations. Well....we were just finishing up the school year around the time we found out that I was pregnant. A couple of weeks later, after a family camping trip, I experienced some complications and was put on bedrest. A few weeks passed....then a few more.... I ended up being on bedrest for a little under two months. This was extremely stressful. God made sure that I didn't have Mary Alice's schoolwork when I had so many other worries. I cannot imagine trying to lay in my bed and be a good teacher to Mary Alice when all I wanted to do (at first) was cry and worry, and all I wanted to do (after that) was run to the bathroom and puke.

Another way that God helped me out.... I, by nature, am not super organized. Actually, I am nothing short of a mess when it comes to preparedness and organization. I am a bit of a procrastinator. Anyway....I had committed to co-organize a baby shower for one of my friends. Now I really love to throw parties, so, ordinarily, throwing this baby shower would have been a piece of cake. In fact, I was so excited about throwing this girl's baby shower, that I made all of the necessary phone calls and plans and fulfilled all of my obligations two weeks in advance!!! This included me buying the materials for and making all eight centerpieces for the tables two weeks ahead of time! Perhaps, if you are one of those super organized busy bees you may be thinking, "So? Who cares?" This may be the norm for you, but I assure you that for me, being that ultra prepared was nothing short of a miracle. I am not trying to say that God was particularly interested in the silly centerpieces, but that He helped to lighten my load in several ways.

Let me brag on Josh for just a little bit. He has been so sweet to me during all of this. He hasn't complained once. He has made many a late night (early morning, mid-morning, late-afternoon) run for food because it was the only thing that I thought I could eat. Many times, he was rewarded for his efforts by having to endure rude remarks like, "Why does this burrito smell like dirty socks?" or "A chocolate shake? But I asked you to bring banana! (insert whiny voice)" Other times, I would run promptly into the bathroom and throw up whatever he had driven miles to get for me. He has been so kind to me and so patient, a true servant. I am so thankful for him.

About the kiddoes.... They have been so great. Mary Alice helped me out so much during my time in bed. She gave me pedicures....and she did a pretty darn good job! She would come in nearly every day and ask to rub my legs with lotion. Who could say no to pedicures and leg massages??? Certainly not me! :) She was so sweet, bringing me water and being a little mother to Major. Every morning, she would make breakfast for Major and would make lunch and dinner too, if needed. The kids' diet wasn't ultra nutritious during this time and consisted mainly of Easy Mac (YUCK!!), instant oatmeal, cereal, and PB & J. Mary Alice was a trooper. I don't know what I would have done without my sweet girl.

Another way that God provided for us was by giving us our family and church friends. My sisters cleaned my house, took care of my kids, brought me food several times, took the kids for a week. Then... Josh's parents took Major for what seemed like forever! Normally, I would have been so sad that he was gone for that long, but honestly, I was just grateful to not have to deal with him. By this I mean, I simply couldn't deal with him. He wanted to play outside and do fun things, things that I wasn't able to do. Josh's parents were kind to take over and make sure that Major had lots of outside time. Major had the time of his life with his grandparents. Another way God provided for us...Josh's mom usually goes on a mission trip to Honduras every summer in early June. The airport in Honduras was closed due to a plane crash, so the trip was postponed for a few months. God worked this little detail out to be perfect timing for our family. I don't know what I would have done without being able to farm out our kids for a little while. It was a tremendous blessing!

After a month of Josh and the kids attending church without me, people at church were starting to wonder what in the world was wrong with me?? So, we were forced to tell people from church alot earlier than we had planned. We had so many phone calls, cards, meals brought. It was so helpful! One example....I had been throwing up several times a day for weeks and had been in the house for about a month. This can get old pretty fast. Two girls from our church brought by a care package and left it on our porch. It contained so many nice things. You know what I got the most excited about,though? At the top of the care package was a new set of pajamas! You know you are in a bad way when a new set of pajamas moves you to tears. :) Seriously. Josh and the kids were at church when I found the package on our front porch. I just sat down in our entry way and cried. It was just so nice to have something new to wear. I'm telling you....I was looking pretty sad.

Anyway... I am not trying to overshadow the very good news of our pregnancy with "Poor pitiful me!' details, merely to show you the blessings that we experienced and how we saw God's hand during this time. I am definitely feeling much better now. I'm still nauseated, but we've heard and seen the heartbeat. All is well for now... I ask that if you are reading this, I ask that you would please add the newest Smith family member to your prayer list. We would be so grateful.

I intended to post a pregnant picture of myself at the beginning of this post. I am definitely sporting a baby bump. I had good intentions, but getting a picture made of myself has proven to be way too hard this week. Maybe later...


Our due date? Christmas day :) I can't think of a better Christmas present.

Addendum: In the few weeks after we found out that we were pregnant, but before the torrent of vomiting hit, I blogged almost every day for a few weeks. It was cheap therapy for me. I could hardly think straight during those weeks. After going back and reading some of the entries from that time, I realized that some of them were too emotionally charged and way too personal to be read by everyone, so I deleted them. But, just for my own remembrance sake, I am including tidbits from a few of the posts. It was an extremely anxious time for me. I don't want to forget some of the struggles that were going on in my mind. I think we all struggle with anxiety at some point in our life. So...if you are on....

April 21, 2008

Two words to describe how I am feeling right now.....FREAKING OUT!!! Yesterday morning, (Wow that seems like such a long time ago....) I took a pregnancy test and it was positive!!! When I saw the positive, I fell down on the floor in a heap and started bawling uncontrollably. Josh was in the shower, so he couldn't hear me. After a few minutes of crying and praying that God would please just make this one stick, I stood up and went into Josh. He rubbed a small circle of steam off of the shower door and peeked through to see me holding up the absolutely wonderful test. I am trying not to get too excited about it. I'm trying to brace myself for the possibility of another miscarriage. Since my third miscarriage at the beginning of 2007, we've been hoping and praying that God would give us another baby. After over a year of trying, we are finally pregnant. Again...I have an extremely panicky feeling about this pregnancy. I doubt it will subside until I get through the first trimester. However, I am thankful that God is giving us one more chance at a healthy baby.

We have decided to tell very few people about this pregnancy. It gets really old sharing good news and then bad with people again and again. So... at least for a while, we have decided to keep this extremely good news to ourselves. And...the prayers have begun for this precious little one. We are cautiously hopeful about what this new life will bring to our family. Today was my first visit to the doctor. He said that my HCG levels were good. Praise God! I will go in again on Wednesday to see if my counts are doubling normally. I also had to have a VERY EXPENSIVE test for something called "killer cells". That sounds nice, doesn't it? Hopefully there will be no killer cells to be found and all will continue to go well.

I wish I had some magic pill that I could take that would get rid of all of the anxiety that I'm feeling. I just don't want to have to relive that horrible feeling of first knowing that a miscarriage is about to happen, having it happen, then the recovery and emotions that go with that. I had so much trouble sleeping last night. I kept tossing and turning all night, even though I was incredibly tired. You know that feeling that you used to have when you were a kid on the night before Christmas, wanting to sleep, but so anxious for Santa to come that sleep evaded you? That is exactly what I felt like last night. I know that God has a plan in all that He allows to happen. I just have to continue to focus on that, on prayer, and on praising Him regardless of the hardship or blessings He brings.

We are due on Christmas day! What a great stocking stuffer!

(I know this next one is gross, but I couldn't make myself delete it. :)

April 23, 2008

I never thought I'd say this, but.... I really want to feel sick. With Mary Alice, I vomited thoroughout my entire pregnancy. I don't know exactly what my problem was, but I just threw up again and again. I remember during the second trimester of my first pregnancy,I started to keep a record of how many times I'd thrown up that day. I would say my average was about seven times per day or so. I used to carry around this Tupperware bowl with me everywhere I went. We even named the bowl. We started calling it "Barfie." We're wierd, I know. With Major, the sickness only lasted the first five months or so. With my last three pregnancies, nada. So.... I never thought I'd say this.... but I really look forward to vomiting non stop. At least that way we know that things are working like they are supposed to work. I am ready to experience the feeling of being dependent on a Tupperware bowl again.

On a sidenote: Today I told Mary Alice the story of how I threw up all the time when I was pregnant with her. I guess you could say I made it into a little math lesson. :) We talked about how many months a person is pregnant (9) and how many months I was actually sick (8). Then we talked about how many days were in a typical month (30). Mulitiply that times 8 months and you get 240 days of vomiting. So as to be sure not to exaggerate, I only allotted myself 5 vomits per day. That equals at least 1,200 vomits when I was pregnant with Mary Alice. No wonder I had so many cavities after my pregnancies! I then told Mary Alice that she was SO worth it!

April 24, 2008

I woke up this morning bright and early because I couldn't sleep. This is extremely unusual for me. I can normally sleep anywhere anytime. I kept asking God to give me peace. Do you know what He did last night? I was laying in my bed in the middle of the night, begging God to give me peace so that I could sleep. All at once, many Scriptures started flooding through my mind. If you asked me to recall all of them to you at this moment, I would not be able to, but probably around a dozen or so reassuring Scriptures dealing with peace and trust in God came to mind as I struggled in the dark. It brought me peace and I was able to get back to sleep. God answered my prayers. So...this morning, I woke up super early and brought my Bible into the living room and began to read and pray. Just inside the cover of my Bible was a book that my sister in law, Alisha, gave to me. It is called "Calm My Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who suffers from being a worry wort. It has really helped me. Today, I turned to a chapter called "Trusting God With the What Ifs". There were several helpful Scriptures in this chapter that I am going to choose to focus on today.

On Trusting in God rather than in mankind (in my case-doctors and myself)-

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Thus says the Lord, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."

Also, God is with me in this time of intense anxiety. He will strengthen me and allow me to get through it all, no matter the outcome, if I will only keep my eyes on Him.

Isaiah 41:10
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Psalm 112:7
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

I am choosing today to fix my eyes on God. I know that he will give me peace.

This chapter gives a three step way to handle problems without worrying. Here it is:

1) Ask yourself what is the worst that can possibly happen.

(I will have another miscarriage and will be unable have more children.)

2) Prepare to accept that if you have to.

(I'm still working on that. I think a miscarriage would be devastating, but I think that I can accept that possibility, because I know that God is in control. The thought of not being able to have any more children, though, is something that I still am unable to fully accept, though I am getting closer to being able to accept it every day.)

3) Then calmly proceed to improve upon the worst.

(It is hard for me to think of this baby with too much attachment. With each day that passes, I grow increasingly fond of the idea of another sweet baby in our house. I guess I am trying to protect myself. There is really no way that I can think of to improve upon #2, except for to remember to refocus on God, so that He can give me the peace that I crave.

The book says that going through this three step process and reconciling yourself to be at peace with the worst possible scenario can actually help you to be more calm and relaxed about whatever it is that you are worrying about. Really, it is true. I mean, if you resign yourself to accept the worse case scenario, anything better is a welcome option, right?

Unintentionally, but perhaps with God's good timing, I am surrounded with busyness this week. Normally, as you know, I HATE busyness. I much prefer quiet days at home with the kids. Now, though, I see busyness as a blessing, helping me to focus my thoughts on others instead of the glaring reality that I am carrying another precious baby. Seriously, this week is so busy it is making my head spin.

In the midst of this busyness, I will commit to do something that is pressing on my heart.

#1 I am going to memorize Scripture that will help me to have a peaceful heart.

#2 I am going to pray each and every time that I experience anxiety that God will help me to fix my eyes on Him.

I know that God is in control. Now I just have to live like I believe it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fourth of July

We went to my parents' house to celebrate the 4th. My sister, Taylor, took some sweet pictures. I thought I would share a few of them.

My dad bought this huge blow-up waterslide for the kids. They never tired of playing on it. Major was pretty reckless and crazy. It was fun to watch them having fun, but very scary to watch him bite it again and again. Major had two knots on his head at the end of the day. The kids were performing every kind of trick you can imagine (and a few you probably can't). :)

Major had lots of fun playing with his cousin and buddy, Landon. They played hard and laughed constantly. Very cute! It was so much fun to see all of my brothers and sisters on this holiday. The fourth of July is a perfect time to get together with family.

Here is Mary Alice with her special friend, Aunt Tessa. Mary Alice wants to be just like her when she grows up.

I am so proud of my kids. Can you tell? They are such a gift from God. I am thankful for every day that I get to kiss their sweet (now freckled) cheeks and wipe their little noses. I don't deserve such precious kids. Being a mother is truly the best job a girl can have!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy fourth!