Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Perrin Update #5

To those of you who have been following the story of our friends, the Perrins, for the last 104 days... big things are in store this week! PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!!!!!! Here is an update Chris sent on Friday along with some photos of these growing babies:

Hayes and Bailey are 14 weeks old, and today is their 100th day with us… pretty big milestone given their condition 100 days ago… especially when you think about the fact that they weren’t even supposed to be here until almost TWO WEEKS FROM NOW. God has been good!

They weighed Hayes over night, and told me this morning when I stopped by that he is now at 5 lbs 2oz (remember he started at 1 lb 7 oz). He is now taking 6 of his 8 daily (24 hour period) feeds from a bottle (the other two through the feeding tube still). He still hasn’t mastered this completely yet. It’s frustrating because some days, like last Saturday when I fed him, he’ll gulp it down in 10 minutes (which is a record by the way… we make a great team… just wait until those father/son potato sack races when he gets older). Other times, we’ll struggle for 30 minutes, and he’ll only be able to take a quarter of the bottle. He never has a problem with sucking, but sometimes he just refuses to swallow. The nurses aren’t sure if this is due to gas, reflux, or just simply a consequence of the brain damage that he has, and that he might never get this down 100% (they initially thought there was a high chance that he wouldn’t be able to swallow at all due to the extent of brain damage he suffered). Despite these issues, he is doing a great job at breathing on his own now for more than a week! That’s right, breathing completely on his own, the same way you and I do… no breathing tubes, no oxygen, nothing! He hasn’t had any apneas or needed any additional oxygen since they took him off. He’s also regulating his temperature on his own now just like a normal baby. The only thing keeping him from going home right now is the bottle issues. Please continue to pray that he can master this so we can get him home without any additional attachments (i.e. feeding tube).

Bailey is now a couple of weeks completely infection and bacteria free! She now weighs 4 lbs 8 oz, and is slowly getting bigger. She has started working on bottle feeds as well this week, but has struggled more than Hayes did initially. Because of the infections, surgeries, and setbacks, she has become a little more used to not having to “work” for her nourishment. Yesterday the occupational therapist worked with her, and she seemed to do better with last night’s bottle. Today the speech therapist (didn’t know they did stuff like this) will also work with her on mastering the suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time issues she’s been having. They are also going to do an x-ray of her lower intestines (which haven’t been used in three months) to see what kind of shape they are in, because they have scheduled surgery for her for next Thursday (11/18) to reattach her intestines! We are excited about this, because we were not looking forward to taking her home with a colostomy bag that doesn’t seem to want to stay on (this thing is disgusting by the way), and we weren’t looking forward to taking her back to the hospital after having her home so they could do the surgery. In addition, getting her back together is going to help her grow because it will give her intestines more time to absorb all the nutrients and calories from her meals. So, they are going to transfer her again on the 17th to Texas Women’s in the Med Center to prepare her for surgery on the 18th. If all goes well, she should be back at Clear Lake about a week later. Please pray for this, and for no more setbacks because if all goes well, we should be able to take both of them home by early December!

Both of their eyes seemed to be doing better, and by better I mean no worse. They are still getting regular eye exams and treatment as needed for the ROP eye issues they both have. Please continue to pray for this as well. Likewise, we still don’t really know the full extent of the issues Hayes is facing with his brain damage, and won’t for months/years down the road. We still pray for a miracle, and at the same time for peace and comfort in whatever God’s will is for him. Continue to pray for Emily. She is doing great physically and emotionally with everything that is going on, but I know things are going to be getting more difficult as she prepares to bring them home, and possibly having one home and one in the hospital, and all the attention that everyone needs (including dad J) throughout this process.

(Left--Bailey all cute and happy; Right--Hayes and Emily)

Most of all, don’t forget to praise God for all he’s done for us, and Hayes and Bailey to this point. It truly is a miracle that they are still with us, and doing as well as they are considering where they started and everything they’ve been through. The Lord has already used them in a mighty way to touch so many people, and we praise Him for that. Thank you so much for your continued prayers, love, and support. It means so much more that we could ever express, and we hope that you know that.

Attached are some great pictures from the last week. They have so much more personality, and look cuter and cuter as they continue to get bigger and develop… especially Bailey, but she’s a girl, and girls are always cuter than boys… Sorry Hayes, you’re still my favorite though… as parents, we’re supposed to have favorites, right? I’m still new to this.

Thanks again,

CP and Em (Hayes and Bailey)

Y'all this is such great news! There is so much to be praying about for this family, requesting help and mercy from the Lord. At the same time, this last 104 days should provide motivation for all of us to drop to our knees humbly before the Lord THANKING HIM for all He has done! Please pray over the next couple weeks as Bailey is transferred, has her surgery, heals, and moves back to join her little brother. Please pray for endurance for Chris and Emily as they care for two babies in two different hospitals. Please pray for Emily's mom (Barbie), who is in Houston with them helping them take care of the massive number of details that have to come together every day to make all this happen. And pray for the rest of their extended family members... all those who would love to be right there with them but can't. Pray that everyone would grow in his/her love for and trust in the Lord. Finally, pray that the Lord will use this family's situation to impact YOU and help YOU grow in love for and trust in Him!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER

Have you downloaded it yet?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Whole Grain Pumpkin Flax Pancakes

I made a large batch and saved a bunch for later. Here's what I did to make about 32-33 5-inch pancakes.

Ingredients:



  • 4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour

  • 1 2/3 cups almond flour

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon allspice

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I use sucanat)

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (olive oil is okay too but not quite as nutrient-dense)

  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (I made my own by following the directions listed as part of this recipe)

  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds, ground (use the coffee grinder)

  • 1/4 cup whole flaxseeds



Preparation:



  • Mix buttermilk and oats in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.

  • Whisk whole wheat flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a large bowl.

  • Stir eggs, brown sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin puree into the oat mixture.

  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; mix gently until just moistened. Fold in ground flaxseed and whole flaxseed.

  • Cook as pancakes or waffles. Works equally well with both.

  • Top with coconut oil and real maple syrup for a tasty finish! Almond butter seems like it would also be delicious.

Friday, November 5, 2010

All It Takes Is ONE

All it takes is one. All it took was one strand of E.coli to be processed into one hamburger patty, to make it to one burger king, to one mom, whose one son, took one bite and the one life he had would then be over. All it took was a series of one events to lead to one of the biggest recalls on beef. Because of one situation America has never been the same.

In 2001, one man, Vernon Burger (my brother), who had, one passion, that being Jesus, took one trip, to Southern Sudan and connected with one bishop, who was trying to love and spread the gospel to many who were orphaned by the civil war. Since that one trip in 2001, HIS VOICE GLOBAL has been in an ongoing relationship with the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church), 10 years and three orphanages later they seek to continue the movement to open a fourth.

You might ask the question what makes this place so special? Sudan was in war for over 20 years before signing a peace agreement in 2006. Until the peace agreement this was the longest civil war to date in human history, leaving over 2 million dead and many children without parents. So what makes this place unique!?!? Many things but one is there are many who have teamed up, like HIS VOICE GLOBAL and The Village Church, to be a gospel centered presence through proclamation and practice. While The Village Church has sent many teams to train pastors, equip leaders and love the children in these orphanages in Yei, HIS VOICE GLOBAL was the door that God used to bring a gospel centered presence from the west into this area of the world. Now there is an opportunity for you to be a part of this continued movement of Christ in this region for as little as a dollar.

This past September a group of 13 from all walks of life from Reach Records, The Village Church, Red Revolution, Collision Records and HIS VOICE GLOBAL partnered under The Village banner to go and minister to those in Southern Sudan. They ministered through teaching, medical, music, and loving children who were victims of the Civil War that now live in one of the three Orphanages sponsored by HIS VOICE GLOBAL. Moved by the fruit there and continued need, Tedashii, Lecrae (Reach Records artist), Swoope (Collision Records artist) and Jai teamed up to do a single to raise awareness and funds for a fourth orphanage in Southern Sudan. The single, which is slated to be released November 16th under new label Collision Records is called Actions Speak Louder. This single and symbol seen above calls believers to move beyond awareness and put their prayers in motion, to quote the song. The symbol inspired by the scriptures that say a strand of three cords are not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12), the exclamation points showing the immediate nature of the call to apply the gospel (Luke 4:18-19), the highlight of one exclamation point showing the power of one to change and lead others and the patch like design showing the reality that there is strength in numbers, calling believers to action, an action beyond themselves.

So leading up to this date will you be the one to blog, the one to tweet, the one to put a twibbon on your twitter account, the one to Facebook, the one to lead and allow you actions to speak as loud as your words. The average number of songs downloaded per day are close to 10,000,000 yes that is correct 10 million. Come November 16th HIS VOICE GLOBAL only needs over 250,000 one’s to download this amazing song (which is not even 10% of the daily average) to complete and have a fourth self sustaining orphanage. We are not asking you to change your lifestyle just point your efforts toward something that will last. The amazing thing about this whole campaign is that 100 percent of the profits from the song will go toward this fourth orphanage. All it takes is one!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fun Things to Hear Your 6-Year-Old Say

Ladan just wrote his first journal entry. He wrote:

"I love to play with my frends. Please help my frends. I love them. My best frend is God."

After he was finished, he said, "Mom, I don't want to follow Satan, so I've decided to believe and trust in God. I'm going to repent when I'm sleeping, and then I'm going to do right things. Because Jesus wants me to do the right thing." [Not too sure what he means about repenting while he's sleeping. I think he just means that he's going to try to do better tomorrow.]

I was cutting a pear for him, and when I handed him the plate, he said, "Thanks, Mom! Hey, Mom! I said, 'Thanks,' right away! I did what honors God right away! Satan tried to trick me into not honoring God, but it didn't work!"

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While watching the theme song to the PBS show Word World while the gas man was here fixing our gas leak last week, Ladan heard the line, "Nothing's better than a letter." He stopped and looked at me and said with surprise, "Mom, they just said, 'Nothing's better than a letter.' But that's not true. God is better than everything. He's better than a letter. Why do you think that they think letters are better than God?"

I responded, "It's possible that they really do think that letters are better than God, and that would not be good. But maybe they just mean that nothing on earth is better than a letter. Since nothing on earth right now is better than God's Word, and the Bible is written with letters, then I guess it could be true that nothing on earth is better than a letter, huh?"

He replied, "Oh, right! I hope that's what they mean, because it would not be good at all if they thought that a letter is better than God."

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"Mom, I like you a lot. But there's someone else I like more. God. He's better than any person, so I like him more. But I still like you a lot. Just not as much as God."

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While doing math the other day, Ladan said, "Mom, sometimes I write my 3's backwards. But it doesn't mean I'm going crazy. Sometimes I just forget." Then he moved on to the next problem as if he hadn't just said anything funny at all!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Perrin Update #4

It has been a while since I've had a chance to write an update about my friends, the Perrins. A lot has happened in the last three weeks, that's for sure!

Let's start with Hayes. Chris was able to hold him for the first time on September 28 (Day 55), and they had all kinds of great conversations about sports. Chris is the director of game-day operations for the Houston Texans (in addition to his full-time job as an accountant), so he had all kinds of things to share with Hayes about that week's game. This is something that Chris has been so eager to do with a son--talk about "the game"--so this was no small blessing! Considering that Hayes could have died on multiple occasions already, we know that this is a MIRACULOUS blessing and one that is not taken for granted! Check out his SWEET face!!!!!



Since that day, Hayes has continued to PROGRESS (also a word that the doctors didn't really expect to use to describe Hayes' condition). He moved from continuous drip feeds through the feeding tube to bolus feeds (where they dump a feeding's worth of milk through his tube at once instead of a slow steady drip). He handled this really well and was required to practice sucking at the same time he was being fed so that he would begin to associate the sucking motion with feeding. Shortly after, he began to drink from a bottle!!!! This is again totally miraculous, because the doctors told Chris and Emily to expect that Hayes would NEVER be able to move off the feeding tube to a bottle or other form of feeding, because his brain most likely wouldn't tell his airways to shut off to push his food to his stomach! AMAZING!!! The next time you swallow anything... a drink, food, saliva, your gum... you'll know that this is a GIFT!

Chris heard that reggae music is stimulating for babies' brains, so he did his good daddy duty and played some Bob Marley for Hayes on the iPod. Hilarious!



Hayes is now almost 4 pounds. He continues to struggle with some apnea episodes, and while it's definitely an area that we hope improves, this is normal for a baby in his stage of development. He is completely off the ventilator and is just relying on the nasal cannula for a bit of supplemental oxygen... something else that the doctors told Chris and Emily not to expect he'd ever be able to do for any length of time.

There is still so much that is unknown about how long or how completely the Lord will allow Hayes to develop. He is amazing people left and right though as He works to grow this little boy. Our merciful Father is granting Hayes the ability to do things that no medical professional thought he'd be able to do.

A couple months back, I gave this little guy the nickname "Tank", and when you see this next photo of his handsome face, you'll see that this nickname is seeming more and more fitting every day! If you scroll a few blog entries back and see his tiny, very frail self just a couple months ago, you'll know how HUGE the details found in the last few paragraphs are!!!! The Lord has performed miracle after miracle in this little man's life! We have reason to HOPE in our strong, perfect, wise, and purposeful Creator! Please continue to pray with great hope that the Lord will continue to work miracles in Hayes' life and that the 25% of Hayes' brain that is remaining will be used in astounding ways as he develops further. Please also pray against further infection, especially as we enter cold and flu season.



And on to Bailey. Throughout this whole ordeal, Bailey has definitely dealt with a greater number of physical issues (recall her ruptured intestine and surgery, necessary heart surgery, collapsed lung, and a couple smaller infections). Despite this fact, her prognosis has consistently been more optimistic than her little brother's. She has an ostomy bag until her intestine repairs enough for it to be reattached, and this has slowed down her feeding progress compared to Hayes. She has had to be fed smaller amounts and has progressed each step a bit more slowly, because the tear in her intestine was so high that they have to be careful not to rupture it again. The problem is that the ostomy bag, while helpful as her body heals, is an additional site for infection to enter her body.

Bailey began to regulate her own body temperature, and so she was able to start wearing clothes. (Hayes did this as well several days after Bailey.) Here she is in one of her super-cute flowery outfits next to her Beanie Baby so you can get an idea of her size. Chris estimates that she's about 12-14 inches long max. He also joked that if you had to wake up to a life-size Beanie Baby, you'd quickly see how traumatic this whole experience has been for the babies! Ha!



Bailey moved from the ventilator to the nasal cannula a few days after Hayes. And finally on day 65, Chris was able to hold her too! Can you even imagine waiting 65 days to hold your baby girl!?! I cried when I saw the photos. I imagined how happy it must have made Emily to see Chris have the opportunity to finally hold both the babies. As a mom, it's fantastic to hold your babies... and it's equally fantastic to see them all snuggled up in Daddy's strong arms.



You probably noticed Emily's awesome hair in that last photo. She always has GREAT hair, even if it's in a ponytail! Probably not the most important detail, but it's definitely noteworthy.

Anyway, back to Bailey.... With regard to feeding, she was on continuous feeds through the feeding tube, getting less than Hayes so that her intestine didn't rupture. She got extra calorie supplements as well so that she would keep growing. She was moved to bolus feedings, getting smaller amounts than Hayes at each feeding, and went through the same sucking-while-being-fed practice with the hope that she too would be able to move to bottle feeds and have her intestine reattached (she needs to be able to tolerate bolus feeds before this surgery can happen). I told Chris it was a little bit strange to pray that his kids would suck... but I agreed to do it in this case. It won't be the last time we pray such things for them, I guess, so we better get used to it. Bailey was progressing, slowly, but surely.

"Was" is the key word in that last sentence. Sadly, Bailey came down with an infection several days ago. They backed her off the bolus feeds and went back to the continuous drip-style feed. She was put on antibiotics. Then stronger antibiotics. It wasn't working well. Chris and Emily went to the hospital yesterday morning, and she looked very sick (see the left photo below). By the time they went back in the afternoon, she had been put back on all her monitors, had her cute clothes taken off, and was back on the ventilator (see below right).



Today, it seems as though her infection is getting a bit better, as her spinal tap was clear. Can I just stop and say that I've had just a couple needles in my spine throughout my life, and they were not fun! I had a spinal tap when I was about five, and I still remember it. I don't remember a lot of details about being five, but I DO remember that. I know that these things have to be done, but it makes me sad for these tiny little ones. They have these kinds of things done REGULARLY. They are troopers! Thankfully they won't remember ANY of this!

The goal for Bailey is to change her antibiotics again tomorrow to something stronger, re-start the bolus feeding (as a reminder, that's when they do a feeding of several ounces all at once through the tube as opposed to a slow drip through the tube)... and as soon as she's healed from infection and tolerates the bolus feeds, then hopefully they'll get to reattach her intestine to get rid of the ostomy bag and eliminate this entryway for infection. There are also discussions about whether or not they will remove her PICC line (a central IV line), because that too could be an entry route for infection.

Somewhere during the last three weeks, Chris and Emily learned that Bailey has ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity). There are several levels, 4 being the worst. She's at level 2. This could mean nothing really, except that she might need glasses. It could also be worse, and could end up leading to complete blindness (that's usually a level 4 issue, from what I understand). Basically, it's too early to tell.

If you have followed all the way through this note, you are able to see very clearly that our bodies are very complex and that, in order for life to go on, so many things have to right all at the same time! Bailey's and Hayes' bodies have had some pretty crushing blows in the last 11 weeks or so since their birth... but overall, SO MANY THINGS HAVE GONE RIGHT!!!! We have reason to praise the Lord, and we have reason to HOPE in Him!

Please continue to pray for both babies, for Chris and Emily, for their other family members who do so much to support them, for the doctors and nurses caring for Hayes and Bailey, and for their church family who is walking through this with them helping them do things like mow the lawn and clean their house in addition to holding them up with prayer and encouragement. In the midst of this trial, Chris and Emily have already had countless opportunities to share their faith with others, pointing many people to the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are not only speaking of the hope they profess, but they are demonstrating it daily! As you pray for the babies, pray not only for their healing, but that the things the Lord is doing in their lives will continue to change the lives of many and that He will be glorified!

Thank you to those of you who are concerned and praying for our friends! I will leave with this simple truth from Scripture as Job is talking to God:


I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
--Job 42:2


Amen! May we all be reminded that the one true God can DO ALL THINGS! He is the ONLY One who can do all things! Every one of our prayers is heard by this infinite God. Let's appeal to Him on behalf of the Perrins with increasing HOPE, trusting Him fully!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perrin Update #3

Wow! So much has happened since my last post asking for prayer for my friends, the Perrins! Chris wrote an update yesterday that pretty well sums up what's been happening. I'll post that here and then leave you with some super-sweet photos of Hayes and Bailey (I stole the captions from their mommy and daddy).

Before I do that, I'll stop for a minute and tell you that I tear up just about every single time I look at these babies. Not because I'm sad... but because it is just apparent that they are wonderfully created. Try to pay attention to their little features. Their hands and feet are what get me every time. Those tiny little fingers and toes are amazing!

Throughout the last several weeks of watching and listening from afar (we're states away from the Perrins), I have at various times felt like throwing up, singing songs of praise, and sometimes both at the exact same moment. Like I wrote last time, this is REAL LIFE, and we can't run away from it. People struggle daily, sometimes with more intense trials than others... but people struggle daily. The only hope we have is in Christ.

Chris's words:

Bailey is doing great. She's 2 lb 9 oz now (which is a full pound since birth). She's on 5 cc's of continuous feeds, which is all she can tolerate right now due to how high the perforation in her intestines was. They've upped the calorie supplements though so that she will get big enough that they can begin to feed more, and that she will be able to absorb more in the short track of intestine before you colostomy bag. Once all of this takes place, they'll be able to go back in and re-attach her intestines. She is completely over the infection that started Labor Day weekend, and is completely off antibiotics. Outlook is really good for her going forward, but she is still less than 32 weeks from gestation, and about 8 weeks from being a full term baby. She continues to need prayers as she is still about two months from going home even if all goes well.

Hayes is doing great physically, which continues to make the brain issues that much harder to swallow. He is now 2 lb 8 oz, which is more than a pound gained since birth. He is on full feeds of 20 cc, and the full load of calorie supplements, so he's growing very quickly. He's also breathing well. Two nights ago they put him on a breathing cannula (sp?), which is exactly what you see elderly people with (the tubes in the nose connected to oxygen). This is really good because it means he's breathing basically on his own. He's breathing well, eating well (through feeding tube), peeing and pooping, growing, and moving all over the place. His only issue right now is the brain issue, and if not for that, his prognosis would probably the same as sissy's.

So, more on the brain... since the news from the neurosurgeon last week, we've sought out many second opinions. Our friend who is a nursing director at the NICU at Memorial Herman (which is one of the best hospitals in the world) took Hayes' records for the medical director there to look at. He basically confirmed what the neurosurgeon said, and added that his concern was that Hayes would never be able to close off his throat and prevent food, liquid, saliva, etc. from going directly into his lungs. This would not only mean feeding tubes, but constant suctioning of saliva and mucus. It would also mean that if he gets sick and throws up, most will go into his lungs, and on top of whatever illness he has, he will also have to fight pneumonia.

We have another friend from church who passed Hayes' story onto a friend of her's who is a neonatologist at Texas Children's (which is one of the best children's hospitals in the world), and she said that based on the info she had, that Hayes would not develop much past that of a three month old. Meaning, he would behave like a baby his entire life.

Finally, Emily's family has a friend who is the medical director at the NICU at Cook's Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth (also one of the best in the world.. and he trained at Texas Children's on top of that) who was in Houston on Friday. He agreed to come to the hospital and meet with Hayes' doctor, get all the details he could, and then meet with us, and give his professional assessment, but also talk to us as someone who has followed this whole thing from the start as a friend, and who has been praying and aching for us as well. He was very helpful in that he reinforced the level of care that they've gotten at Clear Lake, and the course of treatment. He said he wouldn't have done anything differently to this point. He also started from the very beginning, and explained in detail how we've gotten to where we're at, and how we've really already defied many of the odds. Unfortunately, he also reconfirmed Hayes' outlook.

It was good to hear him explain everything in such detail, and to have someone with that level of expertise weep with us and have a deep level of care for us than just that of doctor/patient. We haven't gotten any opinions that have given us any hope in not just a positive outcome, but in any kind of "quality of life" for our son, or any kind of longevity to his life because of all the complications and medical procedures he will require.

At this point, we continue to pray for a miracle, but also pray that God will give us the wisdom and strength to face the outcome that we've been given. We've already been through so much, and I know there's nothing we can't handle, but ache for our son. We ache that he isn't going to be able to do the things that "normal' kids do, and that he probably won't survive past childhood. We're grateful for all of the insight, and grateful to have such consensus in what he's up against, but it is heartbreaking to hear about him.

We know God has a plan, and that we don't always understand it, so we just pray that God will use the lives of Hayes and Bailey to glorify Him, and to make Emily and I better parents, spouses, and people. We thank everyone again for their prayers and support, and ask you to keep it up. We cannot thank everyone enough, and cannot express enough the way you all and your prayers have lifted us up through all of this.

Thanks again,

CP and Em (and Hayes and Bailey)

Hayes - Day 45 You sure you're comfy? This is how he wanted to lay.



Bailey -Day 47--Crazy hair after snuggling with mom and oh so sleepy

Bailey - Day 48--Nap time


Hayes - Day 48 -- Almost seven weeks old. 31 weeks from the beginning.
Breathing and eating well. Need a miracle on the noggin though.

Bailey - Day 49 --Posing for her upcoming hip hop album cover... Fo shizzle

Hayes - Day 52... Hook em horns! -------- Bailey - Day 52... M-I-Z



Hayes - Day 54-- We had a staring contest. I won... Get used to it son


Romans 5:1-5 and Psalm 73:23-28 are scriptures that come to mind MULTIPLE times a day as I think about Chris, Emily, Hayes and Bailey. May these scriptures be an encouragement to you to lean fully on the Lord and hope ONLY in Him as you encounter trials of every kind. In the end, the purpose of it all is the GLORY OF GOD! There IS purpose in these trials, and it's bigger than we could imagine! Right now, He's working to cause many (thousands just through this story alone) to humble themselves and lean on Him, to hope more fully in Him alone, and to be THANKFUL even if they're crying at the same time.

I told Chris that it's the hope of every parent that their children will impact lives and change the world around them. Already, in these short 7+ weeks, the lives of Hayes and Bailey and the stories of those who are caring for them are impacting generations! As people are drawn to their knees and learn more and more what it means to hope in the Lord, literal generations will be changed. And that's just PART of the really big picture! How great is that!?! May God continue to be glorified through the Perrin family! Please continue to pray for them all!

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Psalm 73:23-28
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Please Continue Praying for the Perrins

Hayes (left) and Bailey (right) on Day 45. Bailey is now up to 2 lbs 8 oz.

I talked to Chris tonight. Let me just say first that he and Emily seem to be thinking SO WISELY about things and are unified. The Lord is their strength, and they are understanding what it means to lean completely on Him in a totally different way than ever before. They are being changed forever as they walk through this trial.

Chris and Emily (and Emily's mom) got to meet with the doctors again this morning. According to these doctors, the outlook for little Hayes is very bleak. The neurosurgeon's estimate is that there is a 90-95% chance that he will have SEVERE developmental disabilities and a 5-10% chance that it would be anything better than the worst case. The neurosurgeon put it in perspective and told them that he only sees cases this bad 3 to 4 times a year. Considering that this doctor is on staff at a large hospital in a large city where he cares for many patients, we can see that this news is worse than horrifying.

Unfortunately, one of the doctors who has been present for some of these discussions is one of the less helpful neonatologists on the team of three that rotate through (the same doctor comes every day for a week, and then they rotate) to see the babies. It seems like so many conversations they have with physicians are complicated because of language or cultural barriers. In fact, only one of the doctors on their team speaks fluent and clear English and communicates descriptively and thoroughly. It just doesn't seem like they've got a full picture of what's really going on and what the possibilities are just yet.

Thankfully, next week one of the more helpful neonatologists on the team will be visiting the babies each day, so Chris and Emily are eager to get this doctor's perspective on what they've heard this week. Chris and Emily will also be sending a copy of Hayes' file to some doctors at another very advanced children's hospital in another city hoping to get additional information from these doctors about what they recommend as next steps for Hayes' care.

Hayes is scheduled for another ultrasound on Tuesday to see what's going on in his brain. Please join me in storming the gates of heaven with hope-filled prayers that a miracle occurs and that there is clear re-growth of brain tissue, that the fluid in his head will be replaced by healthy brain matter that is reconnecting. My thought is this: If God can redeem a people for Himself and turn wicked sinners into Christ-followers, if He can part a sea for those who are trusting Him, if He can form a man from the dust of the ground, if He can save entire nations of people from destruction... then He can most assuredly grow Hayes' brain tissue back again and fill that tiny little skull with healthy, connected tissue.

Please pray with Chris and Emily that they will have clarity, wisdom and discernment as they hear additional opinions. We are praying that there is no confusion about how to care for Hayes and that there is unity on all fronts.

Of course, we are to be praying for all things in accordance with God's will. But how in the world do we do that when it seems like there are so many complex issues involved? How do we even know exactly what to ask? This is real life, so we know we can't just pretend like it'll all just go away or that we can delay and come up with ideas some other time. It's happening now, and we can't see the big picture. Praise God that He knows the big picture and has provided His Holy Spirit and His Son who are interceding with and for us! What amazing comfort!

Romans 8:26-39
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Psalm 33:20-22
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.


Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Friday, September 17, 2010

URGENT Call to Prayer... Hoping You'll Join Me


Joel 2:15-17
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly; gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders;
gather the children, even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.

Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

------------------------

On August 4, two tiny little people came into this world at just 24 weeks gestation. Bailey and Hayes Perrin were born to my college friend, Chris, and his wife, Emily. They were about one-and-a-half pounds at birth and were whisked away to the NICU before Emily could even see them. They were TINY, and they were fighting for their lives. They have had many others fighting right alongside them.

Bailey --Day 2-- Hayes


Hayes --Day 4-- Bailey



Bailey and Hayes are now 44 days old, and they have gained almost 60% of their original body weight. They are receiving their mother's milk. They open their eyes. They rest easy when their mom holds them and throw fits when she has to put them down. Their daddy's hand on their back helps keep them warm and comfortable as they sleep. They have come SO FAR since that first day!

Hayes --Day 11-- Bailey


Bailey--Day 19 Hayes--Day 20



But... there have also been set-backs. For example, in Bailey's second week of life, her intestines ruptured necessitating a move to another hospital for immediate surgery. Her intestines have been by-passed while she heals. She has a colostomy bag at this point, and her intestines will be surgically reattached once she gets bigger and has healed more. A couple days later, she had to have heart surgery to repair a valve. It was several days after that second surgery that she got to join her little brother again. A while later, little Bailey's lung collapsed, and it had to be re-inflated. It seems fine now.

Bailey being held by Emily for the FIRST time--Day 21


While Bailey was healing from surgery, Emily got word that she was going to be able to hold Hayes for the first time the next day (this was about Day 11 if I remember correctly). Well, overnight, Hayes came down with an e.coli infection, and he was SICK. He puffed up with fluid and was bruising. It was so sad to see photos of his stretched out little skin and to know that Emily hadn't been able to hold him. I cried... and I'm not even his mom. I can't imagine how disappointing and heartbreaking that would be! Shortly after, the doctors learned that Hayes was not only fighting off the e. coli bacteria, but he also had meningitis. Let me just stop and say that even one of these things could have wiped him out completely... but he survived BOTH... at the SAME TIME! That, my friends, is what we call a miracle!

Hayes --Day 29-- Bailey


Due to the infections, however, there were some pretty harsh things going on in Hayes' little brain. Fluid was building up, but the worst offense was the fact that his blood pressure was so low that there was not enough oxygen going to his brain. As a result, brain tissue was damaged and died. The neurosurgeon informed Chris and Emily earlier today that Hayes has about 25% of his brain tissue remaining, which he predicts will lead to some serious developmental issues. He suggested that Hayes may not walk, talk, or even be able to sit up.

For those of us who are trusting in the One True God--the maker of heaven and earth and sustainer of all--we know that these assessments are helpful in that they tell us what we're dealing with. But we also know that this is NOT the FINAL WORD for Hayes. Only God has the final word. He can bring dead people back to life, heal the lame, give sight to the blind, and cause seizures to stop. When we look at where Hayes and Bailey were in those first pictures and see how far they've come, we recognize the Lord's hand clearly. He spoke these babies into motion, and He is the only One who knows His plan for them.

EYES WIDE OPEN
Bailey--Day 34 Hayes--Day 40



So, where does that leave US? On our faces before the LORD. Praying. Hoping. Trusting. BELIEVING. I am asking that you join me in praying for the Perrin family.

Pray for Hayes, please pray that the Lord would re-grow his brain tissue. Pray that there will be new paths between brain cells developed and that his brain can be re-mapped. Pray that he will grow to love and honor God with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

Pray for Bailey as well. She is just getting over an infection that doesn't seem as bad as Hayes' was, but these babies are susceptible to so many things. Pray for continued growth, that her intestine would heal well so she can start receiving more of her mom's milk, and that the re-attachment of her intestines will go smoothly when it's time for that to happen. Pray that she also will grow to love and honor God with her whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

Pray that both babies are protected from future infection, especially as we enter cold and flu season.

Pray for Chris and Emily. Pray that the Lord will uphold them and that His strength will shine right through their weakness so that others will KNOW the hope they profess and will give glory to God in heaven. Chris and Emily have a meeting with the physicians again in the morning to discuss next steps for Hayes. Emily's mom is on her way to be with them at the appointment, and Chris and Emily are spending tonight formulating questions. Please pray for wisdom, discernment, clarity and unity regarding Hayes' care.
This time is crucial!

I am asking as many people as are willing to FAST with me throughout the night tonight and the day tomorrow (or longer if you desire) and PRAY. Please join me in supporting Chris, Emily, Hayes and Bailey this way!

Hayes and Emily --Day 41-- Bailey and Chris



To motivate our prayers, I'd like to leave you with a couple passages that are so encouraging.
Pray in faith, believing that the Lord can do more than we're even asking of Him!

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

James 1:6-7
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Redeemer Church Launch

Wow! What a great weekend! Redeemer Church had its official launch yesterday, and it was FANTASTIC! Seventeen months after our arrival in town, thirteen months after the start of core team development, nine months after our first Sunday gathering, and one week after the start of the new semester at the University of Illinois, Redeemer Church is off the ground! Chet, Ladan and I were some of the last people to walk in to find our seats, and as I looked around, I think I said out loud, "Oh, wow." It was humbling and exciting! Jim's welcome was enthusiastic, Chet's sermon was excellent (no bias involved... it really was great), and Caleb's very intentional design of the order of worship was super!

There was much activity leading up to yesterday's service, and so many things went on behind the scenes before and during the service that I can't possibly list them all. I'm guessing Chet probably has that list somewhere on his computer, but checklists aren't the point really. The point is that many people stepped out, took risks, were forced to trust the Lord to provide help when they didn't know what to do, and relied on the Holy Spirit to speak through them when they didn't know exactly what to say. As a result, I'm assuming that these people are the ones who noticed the most joy and satisfaction yesterday morning. Joy that is not based on their own efforts, but the shear joy that comes from participating in the LORD's work as He unfolds His plan. There's nothing like it!

We're not super-focused on numbers, so I don't think anyone took an official count. However, somewhere along the way, someone counted 81 present. Here's the great part about that. At the end of the service, Chet took a poll and asked people how many came because they received a door hanger at their home. Answer: ZERO. He then asked how many came because they saw the Facebook ad. Answer: TWO. He then asked how many came because they received a personal invitation from someone they knew. Answer: HALF THE ROOM.

The lesson is this.... Most of the time, people come to church or demonstrate interest in things of the Lord because a PERSON shows an interest in them and invites them. Let this be an encouragement to all of us to build relationships with others, share the Gospel, and INVITE them to join us in our pursuit of the Lord. Don't get hung up on whether or not they're rejecting or accepting you. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with God. They're rejecting or accepting Him. If they accept the invitation, praise God (not yourself). If they reject the invitation, pray for them, knowing that they are not ultimately rejecting you, but the Holy God who created them and who offers the only lasting joy and salvation they can find. And don't be afraid to invite them again just because they said no one time.

It will be exciting to see how God decides to use Redeemer over the course of the next weeks, months and years! To those of you who have participated in bringing this body of believers together (either from a short or long distance), THANK YOU!

Hopefully some photos will follow shortly.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Salsa Recipe

It's about that time.... Time to make the first batch of SALSA this year. And this year I get to eat it! Last year, I had all these awesome tomatoes that were transformed into yummy salsa. I spent quite a few hours making it. I burned my hands on the peppers because I forgot to get rubber gloves every time I went to the store. I chopped and chopped, boiled, chopped some more, stirred, poured... and then STARED at the salsa... SO wanting to eat it but realizing that Claire would literally revolt if I did. Considering the fact that it would be unfair to my newborn to indulge, I tasted just one bite per batch, and that was it. Well, this year will not be the same! I will likely eat it by the jar-full! Okay, that's extreme. That would also be punishment of a different kind. The point is that I'm excited about this batch of salsa. I think the tomatoes are perfectly ripe, and it's going to be AWESOME!

For those of you who'd like to try to make it also, it's actually fairly easy. I started with the "Chunky Salsa" recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and adapted it as I saw fit. It makes about 5 or 6 pints of salsa.

Here's what you need:

  • 7 pounds ripe tomatoes (20 medium--or any grouping that comes to the equivalent). Some folks say Romas are the way to go. I found last year that it didn't matter what kind of tomatoes they were as long as they were homegrown and ripe from the garden.
  • 10 fresh Anaheim or poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped (abt. 3 cups) I use Anaheim peppers, mostly green with hints of red. I only seed about half of them... partly because I don't want to take the time and partly because the seeds help add spice and flavor, so I don't want to throw them out.
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped. I only seed about half of these peppers as well. If you like your salsa extra-spicy, you can substitute serrano peppers for jalapenos.
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped. I did actually seed this well, because it was easy and fast.
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onions (1 large)
  • 2 cups chopped green onions (the whole onion except the tips and end of the bulb)--I found that the green onions from my garden were really lots better than the onions from the store
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 of a 6 oz. can (1/3 cup) tomato paste [I use organic tomato paste]
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)--I went for fairly large cloves, so if you have only small ones, add more than 5
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Rubber gloves for chopping those peppers... they really will burn your skin off

Now here's what you do:

  • Seed, core, and coarsely chop tomatoes. I actually wasn't too concerned about the seeding part. I did get the tough core out, and I scraped away the seeds that were easy to reach, but I didn't have time to worry about all of them, and it worked out just fine. You'll have about 14 cups of tomatoes.
  • Place tomatoes in a large colander. Let drain 30 minutes.
  • Dump drained tomatoes into a large heavy stainless-steel stock pot or cast iron kettle. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add all peppers, onions, cilantro, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Return mixture to boiling. Then reduce heat.
  • Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Can or freeze as necessary... if you have any that lasts that long! FYI--This salsa does not last as long in the refrigerator as store-bought salsa... because there are no preservatives.

Now, what are YOUR favorite recipes for garden-fresh tomatoes?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"My Hope and Treasure Lies Above"

This summer, I am finishing up the 1st grade portion of the Veritas Press Phonics Museum with Ladan. I have learned and been challenged a good deal as he reads the included books aloud to me. Many of the stories are brief accounts of true historical events. The most recent book he read was a biography of Anne Bradstreet, a Puritan poet.

Anne was well-educated. She married in England at the age of 16 and moved to New England with her husband, Simon Bradstreet. They had eight children. Her husband was a governor and traveled a lot as a result. Anne's life was challenging. She worked hard. She encountered many trials. Through it all, she maintained a strong faith in an unchanging, faithful, just, and GOOD God. Her poems reveal her heart as she experienced life and a very real relationship with God. I've been captivated by her writing the last several days. One poem was written in the wake of the complete burning of their house. Keep in mind as you read it that they did not have insurance as we do today. They had to start completely over.

Verses upon the Burning of our House
by Anne Bradstreet


In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken'd was with thund'ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of "fire" and "fire,"
Let no man know is my Desire.
I starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine,
He might of all justly bereft
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruins oft I past
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under the roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
No pleasant talk shall 'ere be told
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle 'ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lie.
Adieu, Adieu, All's Vanity.
Then straight I 'gin my heart to chide:
And did thy wealth on earth abide,
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect
Fram'd by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished
Stands permanent, though this be fled.
It's purchased and paid for too
By him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by his gift is made thine own.
There's wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love;
My hope and Treasure lies above.

This stuff is RICH! I'm reading this on the heels of several weeks of meditating on the truth that my home is not here on earth. It's good to work toward the goal of being a good and godly homemaker, and it's good to hope that we and others will consider our home to feel like "home". But it's all too easy to begin to count on the treasures of this world and to desire comfort here on earth to the point where disappointment comes up when those things fall short, when things are uncomfortable, when things are in process, or when things change. Scripture is an excellent reminder of where I need to place my hope, but sometimes there is something very real and very helpful about "experiencing" these truths with another person who is learning them as well... even if that person lived 400 years ago. So, for what it's worth, may these words serve as encouragement to you as well.

The truths that encouraged Anne have not changed. She served the same God that I serve today. It matters that we know who God is. It matters that we believe Him. It changes our lives, our responses, the way we think, who we are. And hopefully, by His grace, His work in our lives will impact the lives of others.

Additionally, things like this paint just a small picture of what it is like to worship the ONE TRUE GOD with the church universal. I cannot fathom what it will be like to join in praise with all believers in Christ when we are raised up together in heaven. This is definitely a foreshadowing of things to come... and I can tell it's going to be FANTASTIC! Beyond expression.

For more info on Anne Bradstreet, including more of her poetry, please see http://www.annebradstreet.com/. "The Flesh and the Spirit" is definitely worth reading and contemplating if you only have time for one.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Our Curriculum Choices

Several people have asked me what curriculum we've chosen to use. Here's what we've picked....

Age 3
I spent about 15 minutes a day several times a week doing some kind of sticker book like My Giant Sticker Activity Book. We went through it in order. This helps develop just small bits of discipline and helps a child develop a willingness to work through each page to get to the next one he's most anticipating. It's also super-fun and allows kids who don't have well-developed fine motor skills to complete a page without getting frustrated.

Age 4
Kindergarten
  • Saxon 1 with associated manipulatives
  • Veritas Press Phonics Museum, K-1 Combo (We got as far through this as we could... about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through first grade)
  • Random science reading and learning, including watching caterpillars grow into butterflies and tadpoles grow into frogs.
  • Catechism and scripture memory program we started at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville

First Grade

There are TONS of really GOOD choices. These are the things that excite us and seem reasonable for us to use. Some families do a lot more of their own curriculum development, which is great. I don't feel like I have time for that right now. Some families are more or less structured than our family.

The key is to find out what the law requires in your state, decide what's going to work for you and at least meet the legal standard. To learn what the laws are in your state, you can go to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association web page: http://www.hslda.org/. We are choosing to do MUCH more than the law requires at this point. We're not even required to school the kids until they're 7. My reasoning for that is the simple fact that kids are sponges at this age, and the better foundation I can give them in a wide variety of subjects, the more they'll have to build on as they get older. Learning is loads of fun for them right now, so it's not like I'm having to act as a slave driver all day long. The great thing is that, while we're incorporating a lot more content hours in a day than public schools do, Ladan gets a LOT more free play time than kids in school do. It's like the best of both worlds. Since we're part of the homeschool co-op on Thursday mornings, he gets a class once a week and gets to hang out with friends then. Nice!

As for scheduling the school year, we'll organize ourselves very similarly to what is described in this blog entry. Obviously, since it's just first grade, there will be LOTS of guidance from me and LOTS of redirection when things get off course... but this is the general idea. Every year, I'll hand over a little bit more of the scheduling responsibility to the kids so that by the time they're in junior high or high school, I'll have some sort of syllabus with due dates, and they'll be dividing up their lessons and determining the best way to get their learning goals accomplished.

So, for those of you who are interested, this is what we're doing for now. Hope it helps!

They're Only Little Once

I just finished kindergarten with Ladan today! He took his last math test this afternoon. He finished his kindergarten phonics/reading/handwriting/art/art history curriculum much earlier in the year and has just a bit of the 1st grade curriculum left to complete, but we're taking a break from that at least until July so we can enjoy the weather and his 6th birthday (June 15). Not bad for a pretty young kindergartener, I guess! And given that we've had quite a few things that have thrown us off course this year so that we squeezed our 176-day school year into 133, I'd say it's even better!

While Ladan celebrated by running through the sprinkler with his neighborhood friends, I was online purchasing next year's curriculum! I can't wait for it all to get here! :) Next year we add grammar, geography, literature, science, and lots more history to the mix. I feel like I'm going to need a month just to get myself organized! It is so much work, but it is SO WORTH IT!!!! I love it! I never thought I'd say that about homeschooling. I never even thought I'd homeschool my kids.

Claire is starting to roll all over the place. She is seriously the sweetest baby I have ever met, and I don't just say things like that about my own kids without warrant. I started to question whether or not I was just oblivious, but it's confirmed by almost everyone who meets her... everyone except the strange still model in Neiman Marcus we encountered a few weeks back when Claire was screaming her face off as we trudged through the store just to get somewhere else. For the most part, she shocks people with her good nature. The first few months with her were VERY hard when she was puking on everything in sight... but she's past that now, and it's just a memory... though sometimes I feel like I'm still recovering!

And Gabe... well, he's just a ball of life. The other night he just wanted to go for a ride in "the white car". He kept saying, "Come on, Mom. Let's go!" I had no idea where he wanted to go, and he didn't either. He just wanted to get out and see something. So I cleaned up the dishes, got Chet settled with Ladan and Claire, and I went for a drive with him. We rolled the windows down and drove into the sunset. No music. Just talking about what we saw and enjoying the night. It was refreshing and amazing! That's what I love about that kid! He knows what he wants, and he goes for it! He's got fire in him! It doesn't always turn out to be very convenient when I want him to do something that gets in the way of his personal plans, but we're getting things figured out slowly but surely.

I made cookies tonight while Chet gave the kids baths. When they were all clean, the boys came running down to me and were so excited about their cleanliness! They just had to show me how nice they looked! Funny! I got them each a cookie, and I probably heard four or five times from each of them how yummy their cookies were. I wish I could describe the look of sheer satisfaction on Gabe's face when I walked toward him with his second cookie. He closed his eyes, smiled as big as he could, drew his hands into his chest, and held his breath until his cookie landed on his plate. Priceless! Neither of the boys really knows how to fake enjoyment, so when they are extra thankful and excited about something I've done, I know it's coming straight from their hearts. Encouragement to a weary mom is what that is!

There is so much work that goes into being a mom, and there are so many things that I would absolutely love to be doing and learning that might seem more fulfilling at certain points. But I'd say that I'm learning all kinds of things right where I am, and I'm fairly certain that there is nothing else I could learn or do that is more fulfilling or rewarding in reality. Not every day feels like a reward. MANY days feel like I'm being hit by a truck and I'm crumbling. But these days. Well, they make all those other days worth it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some of My Favorite Products

In no particular order....

OLBAS OIL
It's good for all kinds of things, including congestion, ear infections, coughs, muscle aches and pains, the list goes on.



THE FOOTPRINT TILE
We have gone to a paint-your-own-pottery establishment with each of our kids and made these tiles, including the baby's footprint, name, meaning of name, and a scripture that we're praying for that child based on his/her name.



THE CAMELBAK WATER BOTTLE
Everyone in our family has one. The kids' were in their bedroom when I took this photo, but they have smaller kid-sized bottles with fun designs on them. We all know which one is ours, and we drink lots of water in the day because it's just readily available. We take them everywhere, and they don't spill.



TRADER JOE'S ALMOND BUTTER WITH ROASTED FLAX SEEDS
All I need to say about this stuff is that it is DELICIOUS! Love it!




HAPPY BABY ORGANIC PUFFS
Found at Target, these are fantastic! So much less sugar than Gerber or other brands, and Claire loves them. The Greens variety has spinach, kale, and something else, and she thinks they're great!


PHASE 10 FOR KIDS
This is a simple, yet fun, card game. Fun at home or on the go. I keep it in the diaper bag or my purse, and when we're out and have to wait somewhere, we play the game. I have to say that I had no idea what Yo Gabba Gabba even was until long after we had this game, and I still don't know much about it, so don't read this as a plug for that show.



SNACK TRAP
These little cups are so helpful! They clip to the side of a bag or the stroller with a caribiner, there is a spill-resistant lid as well as an outside sealed lid, and the kids can easily hold them. We've had two of these for nearly three years, and we still use them regularly. They have been very durable. We found them at Babies R Us, but I know they can be found online as well.


STARBUCKS SUMATRA BLEND
Don't need to say much about this.


What are some of YOUR favorite products right now?