Blessings in the storm

I have not blogged in a long time.  I have been rather occupied with the three new little ones that have joined our family.  It has been a little more difficult than I had anticipated.  It has certainly taken a bit to get used to managing the home, educating the children, maintaining my marriage, learning about medical termanology, and still finding time to relax a few minutes to just “be”.  I think we are pretty close to having a system down and being able to rejoin our lives previously in progress. 

 

This past week I took one of our newest additions to another state for open-heart surgery.  It has been a huge whirl-wind experience.  I have been so blessed in it all.  I have been left amazed and in awe of my Creator.  I have discovered that we have support and friends in places that we never expected or knew about.   

 

We first found out that our little Joy needed another open-heart surgery in November.  It was difficult to hear.  One of her specialist felt that she may not survive the surgery and that we would be out of state, in the hospital, for 6 weeks.  Another of her specialists felt the surgery would be laproscopic and we would be home 3 days after surgery.  It took nearly 8 full weeks to get her cardiologists nurse to send the packet of information to her cardiothoracic surgeon.  Then it took another 2 weeks to get the surgery approved through insurance.  This was a desperately needed surgery.  Her aorta was pressing against her trachea and left brochiol which made a tug-of-war type situation between her heart and lungs for control.  This momma was having a tough time not getting a little angry with those who were causing delays in getting the surgery on the books.  I was so frustrated that one nurse, in an effort to be thorough, determined not to send the packet because she was looking for a video of a test that did not exsist.  It was difficult to be nice to her when I was so frustrated that my little girls body was at war with itself.  I was nice, however, in an effort to keep from causing delays myself.  That was the first lesson that I learned . .self control when frustrated and angry is not easy, but is esential. 

 

Once we had surgery on the books I had another battle to wage with a government agency over who could authorise the surgery and give consent to surgeons and other medical staff.  That particular battle I chose to not be as passive with.  I did allow my anger to be known and why I felt angry.  I let it be known that this battle would not be one that I would sit back and loose.  My daughters surgery was hanging in the balance.  It would have been scrubbed if we left it the way this agency wanted to leave it.  God had it all under control and I won the battle.  I upset a few people in the process, but my daughters health and surgery were not going to be left in the dust because of this agency and what they thought was a “nice” thing to do for someone else.  The week before surgery a judge intervened and set it all in our favor.  Our judge has a son who has the same cardiologist and same cardiothoracic surgeon.  What a blessing.  He understood my concern and the insensitivity of the agency, not just for us but for the surgical team that would all be left hanging had things been done the agencies way.    That was a huge blessing.

 

Now, the week of surgery arrived,  We had been watching the weather and there had been rain in the forcast for our drive.  The weather cleared the day before our travel day.  We successfully car-a-vaned to our destination and enjoyed a nice lunch about half way there.  It was a wonderful and enjoyable ride.  That night we played games and laughed.  It was a nice evening spent with friends.  We were ready for our day of clinics. 

 

The day before surgery was a long and full day.  It was so much more emotionally draining than I had anticipated.  We had Joy weighed, measured, blood draws attempted, EKG, ECHO, chest x-rays, meeting with the surgeon, anathesiologist, ENT, and the surgeons Nurse Practioner.  Authorisation had to be given for each physician involved as well as for the hospital.  It is so hard to watch your small child go through so many tests, get poked and proded, held down in contraptions that look like they came from the middle age torture device museum.  You just want to grab them up and hold them, rescue them from the pain that is being inflicted.  You know you can’t do that because the tests are needed to make sure surgery can proceede and so the surgeon knows exactly what they are facing once they get your child opened up.  It was so draining that we went out to a nice dinner.  Again we laughed and ate.  We enjoyed good company and that was a wonderful distraction for what we faced the next day.  I went to sleep thankful for the news that Joy’s VSD, a hole in her heart, had closed already on its own.  This meant that this surgery we were having would be her last open-heart procedure.  That was a cause to focus on and rejoice in.

 

Day of surgery was on us bright and early.  We had to be at the hospital at 5:30.  There was a delay in getting her registration finished.  It was lots of waiting.  Then the news that there might not be a room in the CVICU (cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit) where she would go after surgery.  We were all prepared for several days on ventalator.  Joy’s brain just does not take the function of breathing over very well, once it has been done for her.  Then we were finally cleared.  They gave Joy some “happy juice” and she was silly and dopey and fun to watch.  We took the walk to the cardiology floor with our surgical nurse, Shawn.  He was very nice and he took my friend and I to the family waiting room and took Joy off to surgery.  He came in and gave us updates.  We had to wait for labs to be drawn and results back because the previous day they were not able to get enough blood or urine to do the presurgery labs.  Then they needed to get her open.  He came in every hour or so.  It was wonderful to have my friend with me.  We never cracked open our knitting or embroidery.  We never opened a book or game.  We just talked.  It was nice.  We lost track of time.  Shawn came in to tell us she was open and then it seemed like just minutes later he came in to tell us she was closed and breathing on her own!  It was actually a little over an hour.  So amazing!  Surgery was done at 12:35 and she was breathing on her own.  Praise you, Lord!  I could not wait to see her, yet I was afraid to see her, even though I knew she would not be on a ventalator.  When we finally got back to see her she looked a little drugged.  She seemed to be in pain as she reached for me.  Her color was good, though, and she had no ventalator.  I left and came back to see her.  Her nurse, Amber, was singing hymns over her and praying over her.  What a blessing.  I stayed with her and sang to her.  They had maxed what they could give her for pain and she would not sleep.  The night nurse came on and told me to go back to the hotel and get a good nights sleep.  She would bathe Joy and give her medication to make her sleep.  I went back to the hotel in awe of how good she looked.  No ventalator, no blood transfusion, just a little groggy.  She looked good considering what she had been through.

 

The following day when I went in she was sitting up!  The nurse reported that she sat up all on her own!  She had never done that before!  She looked great and was trying to get all of her leads, iv’s, and catheters out.  The cardiologist on the floor came over.  Her name was Dr. Garcia and she had cared for Joy her first open heart surgery.  Joy was in CVICU for nearly 3 months after that first surgery.  She was tiny, weighing just 2.1 kg when she had surgery.  Dr. Garcia went and gathered many of the nurses that were there for that first go-round.  She was amazed at how well Joy looked, how strong she was.  She kept saying “good job, momma”.  Oh, how wonderful that made me feel!  Several nurses later stopped by with the same sentament.  By 10:00 am orders were written to move Joy to the step-down CV unit.  Her catheter was out.  She was playing and laughing.  Not even 22 hours after open-heart surgery and she seamed stronger than she had been.  Her vitals all looked great.  Her heart-rate was steady and even and so was her oxygen saturation.  She was on 5 liters of oxygen to “inflate” her airway that had been compressed for so long.  She was my little Joy.  It was so wonderful to see.  We were not moved until later in the day.  They were moving patients around and working on an emergency surgery, so we just sort of hung out in the CVICU and played together.

 

We moved to the step-down unit and poor Joy had over done it.  She fell asleep.  Again I had staff members stopping in to see her.  They were all amazed and in awe.  I told everyone she had lots of prayers.  I was thanked over and over for being her mom and for taking good care of her.  We were then moved again.  This time to a private room.  Our nurse, Misty, was fantastic.  She remembered Joy.  She was attentive and kind just as all the others had been.  I was a little discouraged at how worn out Joy was.  I had to remind myself that she had open-heart surgery and being tired and worn out for a few weeks was to be expected.  The second night she slept so well and soundly.  She did not really wake up until nearly 10:00 and then she was really ready to go.  They had to remove one of her I.V.s because she kept pulling on it and had caused it to fail.  They came in and took out her chest tube.  She smiled and laughed at everyone and only needed over-the-counter medication to manage her pain.  She also decided she did not need the oxygen anymore.  They had already begun to ween her off of it.  She was at 2 liters per hour when she refused to keep it on.  Her saturation levels and heart rate remained steady.  She was ready.  The surgery was February 29th.  She was going home on March 3rd.  Amazing.  My husband was flown in by a friend.  Once again the weather was perfect.  As we were packing up Joy’s things the cardiologist came in and related a conversation he had with the surgeon where he told the surgeon that Joy did not know she had open-heart surgery.  Several nurses and the nurse practitioner all related how older patients who are much healthier and have closed-heart procedures with a small incision take 5 to 7 days to be ready for discharge.  We were told if we lived local they probably would have let us go home the day before, but they kept her an extra day to make sure she was ready for a 6 hour car ride.  Then one of the most amazing things happened.  God blessed us and another nurse.  I did not catch her name.  I wish I did.  She came in because she saw Joy’s name on the patient list.  She had spent 6 weeks rocking Joy every day.  She was pregnant and delivered shortly after Joy was discharged.  Her daughter would kick Joy as she rocked her.  She sang to Joy and loved on her, prayed over her.  She had always wondered what happened to her.  We had always wondered if Joy had laid in the hospital bed those first few months of her life with no love.  We now knew that someone had purposefully loved on her and prayed over her and that wonderful woman now knew what had happened to Joy.  She now knew that Joy was well loved and knows that she is loved.  Most importantly she now knows that Joy is regularly prayed over and taught about her Creator and Savior. 

 

The ride home was easy.  She was happy to be in her car seat.  She and I slept about 3 of the 5.5 hours it took to drive home.  She was so excited to see the rest of the family, to be in her own crib.  She is doing wonderfully.  She has a few signs of pain from time to time that are easily managed.  She had a bad dream her first night home.  When I picked her up from her crib, she smiled and was happy to go back to sleep. 

 

We are not out of the woods.  She is on medication to thin her blood for the next few weeks and we have to be careful to make sure she does not get sick for the next few months.  We can’t go out in public or to her various therapies for a few more weeks, but she is home.  She breathes easily and maintains her heart rate and blood pressure at the same time.  So amazing, our God is!

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  I know I can trust Him.  I know He cares for all of us.  He blessed so many of the medical staff by letting them see what became of Joy.  He blessed us with His provision and encouragement through His word, our homeschool support group, our church family and our AHG family. 

 

What an amazing God we serve.

 

 

unexpected blessings

We used to say, my husband and I, that God knew just what he was doing when he gave us 2 two boys.  We feel comfortable with boys.  The rough and tumble, the loud noises, obsessions with body functions, dirt and general thrill-seeking were all things I enjoyed and understood, what on earth would I do with a girl?

Then it began.  Our younger son started telling us that he wanted a baby sister.  A baby sister?  Really? Why a sister?  The reply was “I don’t know.  I just want a baby sister.”  Well, we told him to pray about it.  I just sort of laughed it off in my head at first.  I knew we had been very blessed by the two miracles we had and did not think we could actually conceive again anyway.  Then this curiosity began to build in my heart.  My soul began to wonder what it would be like to have another baby, specifically a little girl.  Then I began to desire a baby girl.  Before we knew it we were pregnant.  We were so excited and surprised.

When we finally told the boys that we were expecting a baby our sons confidence was amazing.  “It my sister!  God is answering my prayers” was his response.  He had prayed for almost a full year for a baby sister.  When she was born he was so proud to introduce his sister.  “I prayed her” he would say.  He beamed from ear to ear all the time.  We had been concerned for this young boy who so enjoyed being the youngest for six and a half years when his sister was born.  We were thinking it would be such a rough transition for him.  He did not have any jealousy issues or any difficulties at all.  He loved every cell in her body and loved that she was an answer to his prayers.

She is seven now.  It seems so hard to believe that seven years have passed since she was born.  She has taught me much.  She is a girly girl to the core.  Her favorite color is pink, she loves all dance, horses, tea parties and all things home-ec related.  I have learned to sew the dresses that she designs.  I have learned to have a prim and proper tea.  I have been put in touch with my suppressed home-maker side.  I have to say I am surprised (I have always been a “tom-boy”) and I love it. 

Now she is the one that we have spent time praying over.  How will she adjust when we add to our family?  She loves being the youngest.  She is the one I have prayed for a smooth adjustment to being a big sister.  However, as I sit next to her and she is working on a sampler for a friend she has never met in person, I am reminded of her compassion, her kindness and generosity.  I think she will be just fine.  She will amaze us just as her brother did when she was born.  I think she will be proud to introduce her new siblings and be willing to help and share just fine as we adjust to another unexpected blessing.

I love you my not-so-little J and K.

 

Blessings

 

Angie Okie

Sibling conflict

In the past week I have had 3 conversations that went something like this: Woman ” . . my kids can’t be in the same room together.  I just can’t take it anymore.  I wish I could get 10 minutes of peace. . . . ” Me “I know.  That is so frustrating.” Woman “What? your kids always get along.   . . ”  Then I walk away thinking “why do I feel bad that my children get along???”

 

I have been so caught off guard by these encounters.  Then I realized that these moms are dealing with the frustration of bitterness, anger, rage, arguments and just a complete lack of peace in their homes.  They are in the middle of a tough storm and can’t see that others have been in that storm as well.  There was a point where my older two did not get along well.  It was short lived because I have always said that my home would be peace-filled and I did all I could to put an end to the friction.  It wasn’t easy.  It was hard work but it was so worth it.  My oldest two children are 2.5 years apart and they are best friends.  My youngest is 9 and 6.5 years younger than the older two.  They all get along great most of the time.  They are human, after all.

 

So, how do you go from constant friction in the home to mostly peace in your home?  How do you get the bickering to stop?  How do you resolve the feelings that linger in each party to the time of repeated wrongs?   First things first.  Pray.  Pray for their hearts.  Pray that you will have discernment to see the true issues that are hidden deep below the surface and that your children’s hearts will be receptive to forgiving others and asking forgiveness for what they have done to contribute.  Pray often for these things.

 

Once you have decided that the work you will need to put into it is worth it start to look at your family culture.  Add more together activities to your family culture.  Unplug any electronics, even if it causes friction at first.  Read books out loud and play lots of fun games together.  The games need to involve interaction between players.  Playing and laughing together helps to create a bond and a sence of belonging to each other.  Laughter is powerful medicine.  It softens the heart and allows a person to be more open to forgiveness and ready to admit wrongs. 

Once you are getting the laughter flowing begin working together.  Yes, working together.  Physical labor is great, but any type of work done together is good.  Get a house project, yard project, anything going and tackle it as a family even if it means the project will take longer.  If you can get the entire family rallied around a cause, a finish line, this tightens the strings of unity that were woven into the bond that the laughter and fun interaction began to weave between the family members.  You can start with one or two short or smaller projects but then tackle something bigger.  Choose something that will take quite a bit of time, maybe weeks, and is difficult.  One of the family projects we tackled two years ago was clearing a section of our yard.  It had 30 black jack oak trees.  We dressed up 4 Saturdays in January and for about 5 hours each Saturday we cut down the trees, limbed them, cut them into logs and hauled and stacked the wood.  It is something the kids still talk about.  They enjoyed it.

 

When you tackle a project or even have a game night remember the goal.  Keep it fun and light-hearted.  No yelling at the kids.  No rushing or perfectionist spirits allowed.  Make a fun experience.  Think of Snow White and whistle while you work.  You can have races against the clock.  Resist the urge to compete against each other, especially if your family is naturally competitive.  We are trying to draw the family closer, not create more resentment.  Fun, light-hearted and laughter-filled and your family will actually start to look forward to working on projects.

 

Once you see the bonds developing and being strengthened then it is time to start working through forgiveness and reminding the kids of how much they actually do love each other.  That is another post.  

 

One of the sayings that many of The Greatest Generation had was “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  You can enact that one right away.  Put a stop to name calling, put-downs and button-pushing.  That will help quite a bit.  If the kids just seem to keep on these things then have them sit face to face and talk things out.  Rules of the “talk” are no name calling, “I statements” only, no accusations.  When they can look each other in the eye, shake hands or hug then they can get up.  You will have to sit with them the first few times so they understand the rules.  The purpose is to get out of the selfish pattern of blaming others.  They should each take responsibility for their part in the conflict and forgive the other person, not put fuel on the fire of anger.

 

Peace will come.  It will become more and more of a presence in your home and your family will be a stronger family unit as a result.

 

Blessings to your family from mine!

 

AngieOkie

Family Culture

Have you ever thought about your family having a culture to it?  I hadn’t really thought about that until this year in a training class on cultural differences and awareness and it was mentioned.  That really got me thinking. 

 

Family culture is made-up of those little things that make your family what it is.  A few examples could be how you celebrate any special occasion, are you loud or quiet family, activities, foods you eat, how you interact with each other in good times and bad and how you relax or have fun together.  All of these things end up developing a pattern and a uniqueness about your family. 

 

I had not realized the impact these things had on the children and on me until very recently.  When your family has developed a pattern or habit of something it seems to establish a sence of belonging and a feeling of confidence in the members of the family.  A sense of identity is developed with this action or routine.  This is very healthy and helpful in developing the child’s sense of belonging and sence of identity.  In other words, it’s a good thing.

 

I have only had one short segment of a class on this topic, but it has intrigued me so much that I wanted to share about it.  After talking with my older children about it I have come to the conclusion that it can have a big impact on a child’s sense of worth in the world.  Here are a few pieces of the culture of our family. 

Candle light dinners.  None of us are really sure how this developed.  We think it may have started with our second child a few years ago.  He wanted dinner by candle light and it just became something we do every day.  Sometimes we have breakfast by candle light.  Part of setting the table for dinner has become the nightly routine where one of us lights the candles.  The three children then vie for the opportunity to be able to blow the candles out after dinner.   I have to tell you it is fun to keep my eye out for tapered candles on sale.  Our second child took two glass coke bottles and filled them with decorator sand recently and those glass soda bottles have replaced our more traditional candle holders.  We have even graduated to different colored candles and are letting the wax drip down the bottles and leaving it there.  It has come to be something the kids identify with and they love explaining to their friends who stay for dinner that we always eat dinner by candle light.   This is the best example I have of a piece of family culture that we did not plan or purposefully implement.

Laughter is another part of our family culture.  We love to laugh.  I really do believe that there is an amazing healing power in laughter.  We will often sit around a laptop and watch our favorite Christian comedian or old music videos and we will laugh hysterically.  We will laugh and slap each others knees and just enjoy the fun of it all.  We have a game we love to play as well, just for the laugh factor.  We call it pictaphone.  I don’t know what it is really called, that is just what we call it.  We laugh for long periods of time playing that game.  It has given us much to talk about.  This one is a little more purposeful.  We rarely plan the laughter it usually comes about because someone will say “Hey, let’s play pictaphone” or “Lets see the new videos from Tim Hawkins” or something along those lines.  We have rarely said no to laughter.  It heals the bones just as scripture declares.

 

Reading.  We did not do this until we started homeschooling.  I recommend it for every family, no matter how your children are educated.  We choose books and read them out loud as a family.  I am usually the reader because I seem to be the person who enjoys reading out loud the most.  My family sits and listens intently.  Sometimes I go to put the book down at the end of a chapter because it seems they are no longer interested and usually I have misjudged the looks on their faces.  They almost always shout “You can’t stop there!”  or “Read more!”.  That happened most recently when reading Sarah Witchers Story.  I ended up reading the entire book, I was glad it was a short chapter book I chose for our second-graders history.  Sometimes I just have to tell them we have to stop.  The reading has been a very purposeful part of our family culture.  Everyone enjoys it and it has given us a real bond.  When a person passes by that reminds us of a specific character in a book we might wink a knowing wink at each other or we might talk about it when we get in the car.  “Did you see the man in the blue coat?  Doesn’t he look like he could be Mr. Brown? ” I love the knowledge and appreciation of literature that my family has because of this piece of our family culture.  I love how the kids will curl up under a blanket on the couch and I can see them thinking about the book or becoming concerned for a character or picturing a scene in their minds-eye.  This is one of my personal favorites.

We have many pieces of family culture.  Traditions that have gone on since our oldest was a year old and other pieces that are a little newer.  They each seem to be just as equally important to the children and to me, if I am honest.  I almost think it would be wonderful to make a book up about what it is to be part of our family and include all the different things we do that make our family unique and wonderful.  

 

If you spend some time thinking about it, I bet you can remember things from your childhood that made up your family culture and you can include those you liked best and add others to make a wonderful and unique family culture for you and your children.  Times of worshiping, reading, singing, laughing together will bond your family together and give your children a sense of place in the world.  They walk away with a sence of confidence and love.   They know they belong in the family and your relationship is strengthened with each of these wonderful memories and traditions.  That strength will help you to get through the tougher times in life.

 

Blessings!

AngieOkie

Laying the Foundation – Family Environment

You want to have a home filled with peace and love, but where on earth do you start?  Telling the children they must be loving certainly doesn’t work, at least not often, so where do you start?  You start the same place you start when building a house, with the foundation.

If you want a strong house, well-built, that will withstand the test of time and storm, you put some work into the foundation.  First you make sure the ground is level, well-drained and high enough that when the torrential rains of summer and ice of winter arrive your driveway and home are still safe and dry.  The same thing is true for creating a family that is filled with peace, harmony and love. 

The foundation for a happy family is the environment, family environment that is.  The environment is your foundation and the walls and roof are your family culture.  What do I mean when I say “family environment”?  I mean the subtle mood and expectations that are set by the way your home is set up and they way your expectations for your family are set up.

Let’s start with the physical home itself.  There are many ways you can set your home up to create an environment conducive to family.  If we first look at the family or living room we have many things we can do here to foster the sence of belonging.  Some of these might be more difficult than others to do.  I would also like to say that these are merely suggestions, not items that if you don’t do them you will never have the family life you desire.   Take a look at the focus of your family room.  Sit and analyse it very critically.  Is the focus on individual entertainment such as video games and television, or is it on group entertainment and activity?  This will have a big impact on the environment of your home.  If the focus is on individual or family as a whole will have a large part to do with how your family interacts with each other and what they expect to happen.

A home that is set up for a family environment will have couches and chairs facing each other, maybe a coffee table or ottoman to play games on, books, toys and games in ready reach.  If  the television is the focal point of the room the expectation is for no to very minimal interaction with others.  The interaction expectation is set to be the entertainment from the television and or game system that is connected to the television.  I am not saying that you must get rid of your television, but do consider if you can take the focus off of it and put the focus on the other persons in the room.  The next thing that can be a challenge is having toys and games for the younger members of the family out in the family room.  At my home we have a play kitchen with refrigerator that my husband made my daughter for Christmas one year.  Next to the kitchen is her doll cradle filled with its young charges and a child-sized rocking chair.  We have two built-in book shelves and two of the shelves contain toys and games for younger guests.  We also have a tall chest of drawers.  On top of it sits candles and our stereo.  In it the two biggest drawers are filled with games our family likes to play together and art and craft supplies. 

Things like this set the unspoken expectation of interaction.  The children are engaged and comfortable playing in the family room and you are more likely to join them in their play.  When guests come to call there are toys readily available for the younger guests and they feel at home right away.  This allows friends to come and play and become part of the family environment.  All of this also makes having a family game night easy to do with just your family or with a visiting family.  The books make it very easy to have a family read-aloud (more about this in the family culture post coming soon). 

Activities like games, book reading, playing together and creating crafts together are all things that encourage conversation, face to face interaction.  All of them also encourage laughter, fun and memories.  These are very important elements to creating a bond in the family that is strong, healthy and loving.  These are simple things that can be done in the family or living room of your home to create strong and lasting relationships in your family.

Another area to take a look at is the kitchen and dinning area.  If your family has the habit of eating on the couches in front of the television, won’t you consider changing that?  Even if you start with just one or two nights a week and then slowing increase to 6 or 7 nights a week.  It does not have to be a dramatic change done all at once.  I am sure you have heard of one or more studies that reveal the benefits of sharing dinner together at the family table.  They range from significantly reduced risk of teen pregnancy, drug usage, increase chance of pursuing college and many, many more. 

Make your kitchen table inviting for you and for your family members.  Fun place mats, pretty dishes, candles, whatever it takes to make it a fun and inviting place to be for you and your family.  Chair cushions, table-cloth (or no tablecloth) bench seat or individual chairs it really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it makes the idea more pleasing to you and your family.  Once you start sharing meals together at the table you can teach the children table manners, yes, but more importantly you can sing, tell jokes, laugh, relate the stories of the day and many other wonderful things to help create that sence of belonging and family bonding that are so very vital to have in place for a loving, happy and harmonious family life to occur.

The kitchen is a fantastic place to set the stage as well.  Have aprons for each family member, step stool for shorter persons, utensils and things that can be used by the smallest member of your family that can stand and participate in meal preparations.  Then get them in the kitchen with you and start bonding.  We have a very small kitchen in our home.  It really is more difficult to function if we have more than 2 preparing a meal.  The solution we have come up with is a rotation of the “Dinner Helper” or “assistant Chef”.  This week one of the children will be in the kitchen, by my side and we will prepare several meals together.  Not only does this help them to learn a valuable life skill they will need later on, but it opens the door for many conversations and much laughter as we read, gather, measure and create together.   What a wonderful gift of memories and skills the children will leave home with and a wonderful bond and sence of belonging they will always have.

Once you have the environment in place, getting the family culture formed is much easier.  When you have the family culture in place training the children to get along with each other (and with you) is much easier.  The environment is the foundation.  This is what sets the stage for family life.  If your stage is set for individual entertainment and needs, then getting your family to function as a family is more difficult.  When the stage is set for a family of many, being together, laughing together then it is much easier to get a unique family culture established and much more natural for the members of the family to feel that they belong to a unit from which separation is unimaginable or would be difficult. 

Many Blessings to you and your family

AngieOkie

Regrets and lessons learned

I haven’t posted in a while and my last post I was pretty “fired up” as my husband put it. 

Life has been very busy around here.  I have had so many points of child-training that have inspired me to blog.  Then by the time I sat down to put my fingers to the keys, I could no longer recall the great inspiration that had filled me with the desire to blog in the first place.  I really don’t like it when that happens.  To be very honest, I think my inspiration leaves me more due to the fact that I wish I could take back that last blog more than memory-loss issues.

  I have been so busy since May 25th, that I only sat to write one anger filled blog.  I have to apologize for that.  I have debated removing that blog, deleting it forever.  I decided to leave it for the purpose of reminding me to cool my jets, to take time to think, before I blog.

 

The decision to leave the blog that I regret writing was fuelled only my selfishness, I must confess.  I am a passionate person.  When I get ahold of something I get passionate about it.  I am passionate about homeschooling, home-making, child-training, my marriage, my faith, many of my activities.  The horrible down-side to my passion is when I get upset or hurt I am just as passion-filled about those things as well.  I was passionately upset and wrongly offended by messages I received.  That was wrong.  I allowed my selfish pride to be offended by hurtful words of others.

 

I really should have taken the time to consider the heart behind the messages I received.  I should have taken pause to think of how they were feeling when they wrote me their messages of concern for my six-year-old.  I should have considered their life-styles and their approaches to training their children up.  I did not do any of those things.  I did not consider anything but myself and I allowed myself to be offended by words spoken by persons with very different perspectives and approaches to life.  I apologise for that.  I ask forgiveness for it, as well.

 

Not everyone homeschools, not everyone shares my faith and most certainly my approach to training children up to be the next great generation.  I am o.k. with that.  I don’t think that everyone is supposed to be out doing the things I do.  I know that I can not do many things that others do.  I know that each of us was created with a purpose and has different job or cause to fill in this world during their life-time. 

If I am to train my children up with love and compassion, sympathy and purpose, passion and forgiveness at the front of their lives, then I must model those things for them.  I must not be easily offended.  I must be quick to forgive, slow to anger and filled with God’s love for others above all else.  I am a work in progress and hope to get closer to the image of my Creator more and more each day.

 

Blessings!

AngieOkie

To shelter or not to shelter . . that is the question

I was enjoying a wonderful sunny spring day in Florida.  The sun wasn’t to its full summer potential.  The wonderful afternoon sea breeze was gently skipping through and the air was filled with the sounds of my children’s laughter and splashing water.  I closed my eyes and soaked it all in.  It was one of those little moments that caused me to believe all was right in the world, even if it was just for a short space of time. 

Then it happened.  The blissful moment came to a screeching halt with the sounds of disgust in the voice of a neighbor.  She and I were the only adults at the pool.  My two boys were the only children.  I was not sure what could have happened to cause such a ruckus.  I went over to where she was conversing with my then six-year-old.  He had a confused and guilty look on his face.  I sent him to play with his brother on the playground so I could talk with her and find out what was so wrong.

 

Then it all came out.   We had many differences, as most friends do.   She was horrified that my young child knew quite a good bit about childbirth.  He had apparently been explaining the process of labor and delivery to her.  During the course of calming her down and trying to figure out what was so troubling, I discovered that her problem was that he had a very good working knowledge of the topic and “even worse” was that his vocabulary was correct.  He knew what a uterus, umbilical cord, amniotic sac and birth canal were.  She was horrified. 

 

I spent much time explaining myself to her.  She just could not get over the shock.  Once she had gotten her composure together she spent a good deal of time explaining how wrong I was for having educated my son.  (I was pregnant.  He was a very curious boy who asked lots of questions.  I had simply answered his questions.  I had notgiven him a high school level health class, as she was assuming).  After about 40 minutes we were finally able to conclude our discussion and I was able to allow my boys to jump back into the pool.

 

That was not the first time and certainly was not the last, that I was accused of not “protecting” my children from “life”.   I have found myself being questioned many times about what I do and do not keep from my children.  We talk about many topics that other families seem to have as off-limits, while other things we choose not to expose our children to.  War, natural disaster, drugs, crime, sex and religion are all talked about very freely in my home, no matter the age of the child.  This is something we have discussed and chosen to do in our home.  My husband and I had many talks during pregnancy and in the early years of our lives as mom and dad about what would be discussed and done with the children and what would not be. 

 

I think this is a very important discussion point between moms and dads.  If you are a single parent, please take plenty of time to think about this and be very purposeful and aware, so you are never caught off guard.  Think about all kinds of topics and decide what you will say about each topic and where you think the line is.  How will the topics of sex, drugs, alcohol, war, theft, religion and different cultures be addressed in your home.  How will you explain slavery (especially slavery that still goes on today, even in our own borders), gangs, drug cartels, politics and corruption?  What ages or developmental maturity is appropriate to have more detailed and in-depth conversations about each topic?  Think about these things as early as when you are pregnant and expecting that child.  Be agreed on this if you are married. 

 

You do not want to find yourself caught off guard when your three-year old asks how Mrs. So-and-So’s baby got in her tummy or why Uncle You Know Who is always stumbling and slurring his speech at the end of Christmas dinner.  My favorite “Mom, Bobbie’s dad was arrested for selling crack.  How can you sell a crack?” from the 5-year-old.  Then there are the unplanned tragedies of life.  A friend has a miscarriage.  Then hurricanes rip through your state and leave devastation everywhere.  With tsunami’s, tornadoes, mud slides and earthquakes there is enough on the news and in general conversation to fill your child’s head with questions and concerns.  Make sure you have considered these things and are very prepared to address them with your children long before the questions and discussions start.

 

When you think about what you will or won’t discuss and how you will do so, please consider the fact that your beautiful little eight-month-old is going to be on her own some day.  She is going to grow up.  Will she be prepared and what world-view do you want her to have when she is faced with these things?  One of my children came home from time with friends, at the tender age of nine, asking about X-rated movies.  His friends had seen them and were discussing them.  The friends were all nine and ten year-old boys.  Time with those friends was brought to a halt.  We had to have that discussion about X-rated movies at nine.  I gave him what I thought he could handle, no more, no less, and in a very gentle manner.

 

I have learned over the past 16 years that you will be questioned and accused by other people.  There is always going to be someone who disagrees with the way you bring your children up.  Some people are going to respectfully or quietly disagree, others are going to be quite open, bold and sometimes even hostile about the way you approach your child-training.  Be prepared for the questions and experiences that come up in your child’s life and be confident in the decisions you make.  I look to scripture to find how Jesus handled things, even the “tough” topics, and I don’t mind the questions from other moms and dads.  My husband and I answer our children’s questions with truth and decide, child by child, case by case, what we think they are ready for at that time in their lives.   The truth is this is a fallen world.  There is an awful lot of bad around and we have chosen to talk quite openly and frankly with our children about many topics that other moms and dads never discuss.

 

I do not advocate one way or another on this subject.  You and your spouse must have some discussions and make these decisions for your family.  Your decisions about what you will or will not discuss and how you will do so is going to be influenced by your childhood and your personal views and beliefs.  We have taken care to tell our children what they should not discuss with other children, and in some cases other adults.  I don’t want my youngest to be the one who reveals that Santa isn’t real to another child, for instance. 

 

I do think it us much better to be prepared and open, so that your children feel comfortable saying to you “Hey mom, Joey next door is watching a moving that is rated X.  What does that mean?” rather than going and asking Joey.  Decide on how you will handle things and remember that how you approach and handle things not only affects your child’s knowledge but also your relationship with them.

 

Who said being called mom was easy?  It is some tough stuff at times.  Be prepared and you won’t be caught off guard.

 

Many blessings, even in the tough times!

AngieOkie

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