Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Little Stress Relief...

It's been a crazy, long, hot summer...spent all last year planning...yet somehow the new year still snuck up on me. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and kidney failure and has just started dialysis...not doing so well right now. Baby is getting big...my 8 yo is going on 25...school is off to a slow start...and thankfully vacation is just around the corner!

Whoever said the days are long but the years are short was a very wise individual.

Now with all that in mind I think I'm meandering through a midlife crisis. Got to thinking about a bucket list...you know the things you've always wanted to do, but haven't yet...so my little sis and I took some time to hit the gun range this weekend, relieve some stress, and knock an item off that list :) The most fun I've had in a while! First time out, first time shooting...my only goal was to actually hit the target...I think I did alright.



Many other changes around here...painted the kitchen, made new curtains, lost 25 lbs (with more to go), switched from PC to an IMac and so on. Mostly good changes...amidst the not so good ones that I can't control. Such is life.

Fall is here...time to slow down, relax, and enjoy some chili :)

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, July 11, 2011

OH HAPPY DAY!

My precious girl first learning that her "wish" to visit the Harry Potter theme park at Universal was going to be granted! What a blessing to see her so happy and excited - LOVE THIS! She has suffered from a refractory seizure disorder for several years and has had a heck of a time. Please keep praying for her!

video

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bookcase Bliss

Is it possible to be in love with wood? Wait just a minute before you answer. Now....close your eyes and fashion it into a wall-to-wall bookcase and ask yourself again ;-)

It has been a very long time since we've made any changes or embarked on any redecorating around the house. In fact, we had hoped to move into something a bit bigger, but that isn't in the cards right now, so in making the best of what we have and where we are, I finally got the urge and burst of energy needed to spur me forward into a few "around the house" projects.

The first project took several weeks and a lot of work for dh, but it is finally complete and we ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Here's the story of how it all began:

I had this neat metal bookcase (like the ones you'd see at the library) and I didn't have adequate room to maneuver it around and wanted something that would fit my needs better...thus I was able to negotiate the selling of it in exchange for another custom built bookshelf from dh. That was a pretty good deal in my book, but it gets even better -- as we somehow made a grand leap from a standard bookshelf to a wall-to-wall bookcase! I'm still bewildered as to how that happened quite so effortlessly, but I'm counting it a blessing and you certainly won't hear any complaints from me!

To get started I Googled a few pics, found one I liked, drew up some plans, (yes, I got the easy part here!) and then dh went to work. The results are below...


The plans!



Setting the base with pre-built cabinets.



Building upward. We used the wall for the backside to save cost.


Cabinet fronts removed for ease of painting. 



Absolutely Gorgeous!

It holds SO much stuff and cleared up some desperately needed space in our living room. Next, we added some new picture frames, a couple fresh couch pillows to brighten things up, and it feels like new.

I am thrilled with how it turned out and only wish we'd done it years ago!

One project down....and on to the next. We have limited funds for remaining projects and still have a septic tank and dry well to have filled in, so it will be budget conscious means of making things "new" - removing wallpaper, painting, countertop replacment, etc. Fun, fun! Gotta run with it when the mood strikes, hee-hee!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Simple Prayer

Lord magnify the beauty of your wonderful creation
for without your splendor, the view is dull

Lord comfort me when I am hurting
for without your solace the pain is overwhelming

Lord humble me when I think too highly of myself
for without you I am nothing

Lord lead and direct my path in all things
for without your guidance I am lost

Lord fill me with faith when all seems in vain
for without that conviction, despair haunts me

Lord grant me wisdom in the day to day of life
for without it, my perception is skewed

Lord shower me with new mercies each day
for without your grace, forgiveness evades me

Lord liberate me from the tendency to judge others
for without compassion, chains confine me

Lord remind me that I am here for a purpose
for wtihout that understanding I wonder aimlessly

Lord let your Word be comprehensible to me
for without your clarity, my vision is impaired

Lord raise me above the depths of my circumstances
for without your promises, reality engulfs me

Lord release me from the limits I place upon myself
for without your sovereignty I stumble and fall

Lord remind me that someday there will be no more tears
for without that knowledge this world is insufferable


Lord dwell steadfast in my heart, mind, and soul
for without your presence I am empty

The sun rises, the sun sets.

The days are long, but the years are short.

More of you, less of me!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Altogether Beautiful

1. Ten Tiny Toes






2. Hearing the words "I lub you Mommie!"


3. Sitting in the presence of 4 generations of family


4. Watching the birds mingle in the trees and hearing them sing


5. The pink blooms on my dogwood tree



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Puzzled? The Pieces Falling Into Place

PUZZLED?
The Pieces Falling into Place
by David Quine (shared with permission)

Jigsaw puzzles were part of my earliest childhood. It seems that every Christmas our family received a new puzzle and it wasn't long before the card table became a puzzle table. We would spend hours searching for just the right pieces. At first we looked for the easiest ones -- the four corners and edge pieces. But then the work began as we compared pieces in search for just the right one. We were always looking for patterns -- patterns in shape and color. Eventually, all the pieces would fall into place and the picture on the box would emerge onto our card table. I didn't realize how important these yearly puzzles were in my life until I started writing this article. I have always been a person who looks for patterns among things that appear on the surface to have no pattern. Searching for how the pieces of life's puzzle fits together is who I am. Some puzzles are concrete like a jigsaw puzzle, but others are not -- they are abstract. Those are the harder puzzles to fit together.

There is a puzzle I have been thinking about for the past 15 years. It has to do with the emergence of Classical Education into Christian education. It was first seen in the starting of Classical schools and then more recently a flood of classical curriculum and classical co-ops within homeschooling itself. As the author of World Views of the Western World and Starting Points and home school speaker, many years ago I was asked to present a series of lectures at a "Classical Education" convention. However, several weeks after the invitation was given I was told that my materials were not acceptable and I would not be allowed to present after all. At the time I thought this a little puzzling, but let it slide.

But now I understand what is happening. About a month ago the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. Where do I start? For me there are four pieces to this puzzle and each piece relates to a particular person: Dr. Peter Enns, Dr. Susan Wise Bauer, the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, and finally, Josh McDowell. All four of these people are considered influential Christian thinkers and teachers. Let's look at each puzzle piece -- analyzing its color and shape to see how they all might fit together. I will put them into the order in which they came to my mind - although we could actually start with any piece.

Puzzle Piece Number 1: Dr. Susan Wise Bauer
In her very popular history series, The Story of the World, Dr. Bauer subtitled her book: History for the Classical Child. Have you ever asked yourself this question: "Is the Classical child a Christian child?" I think this is a legitimate question. In fact, I think it is the pivotal question. When this textbook first became available I was puzzled by the opening chapter: The Earliest People. As I read the first and then the second paragraphs, I was puzzled.There was no mention of the people I was accustomed to thinking of as the earliest people. Where was Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and where was Noah? They were no where to be found. The first person mentioned is "Tarak . a seven-year-old nomad who lives with her family - almost seven thousand years ago." And then where was the God of the Bible? He wasn't there either -- not until several chapters later. We are first introduced to the gods Ra and Orisis and others. It was puzzling to me.

Puzzle Piece Number 2: Josh McDowell
In a presentation given in March of this year Josh McDowell talked about the 5 Core Beliefs of Christianity:

1 - The Reliability of Scripture,
2 - The Deity of Christ,
3 - Truth
4 - The Resurrection, and
5 - Salvation through Faith

We agree that these five beliefs are at the core of Christianity. In fact, they are the foundation of the curriculum we have written. Our curriculum is considered an apologetic approach to learning where the student learns not only what we as Christians belief, but why we believe what we believe and then how to communicate these ideas to those in our culture. We teach students how to dialogue from a Pre-suppositional Apologetic (Francis Schaeffer and others), from an Evidential Apologetic (Josh McDowell and others) and from a Moral Apologetic (CS Lewis and others).

I was shocked by the statistics that Josh gave at this conference regarding the lack of belief in these 5 Core Beliefs among evangelical born again young people in the church today. His research study has revealed that less than 4% of evangelical born again young people hold all five of these beliefs as true! Less than 4%! That is shocking.

Puzzle Piece Number 3: Dr. Peter Enns
Dr. Enns was a new piece to my puzzle and perhaps the key to putting all the others together. He is a Christian author, teacher, and writer. I hope that I am able to clearly articulate his piece in the puzzle. It was his association with Dr. Bauer that makes his piece so significant and understandable. He is the author of many articles and several books. The one which is the most important for this discussion is Inspiration and Incarnation. The subtitle to this work is Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. This book has caused quite a stir among evangelical theologians and is worthy of your time to read. His thoughts are very important. Please stay with me through this part. To understand what Dr Enns is saying let me share excerpts from a letter written by Dr. Wayne Grudem (2008) to Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, regarding Dr. Enns, who was at that time a professor at Westminster Seminary:

I find the book (Inspiration and Incarnation) to be deeply troubling, for the following reasons:

Enns repeatedly delights in presenting interpretations of the Bible that make it appear more problematic and more filled with unresolved and irresolvable problems than it really is (pp. 72, 79, 92, etc.). He insists on translation options that make Scripture internally contradictory with itself (pp. 92-93), or simply false (pp. 54, 98). He repeats the same kind of anti-inerrancy rhetoric that I heard at Fuller in the 1970s, characterizing belief in the Bible's complete truthfulness as "defensive" or as coming close to "intellectual dishonesty" or as simply "preconceived notions" (pp. 14, 107, 108), but speaking of views that take the Bible as contradictory as "creative," "refreshing," and "listening to how the Bible itself behaves" (pp. 15, 66; see also 73, 108). He frequently represents conservative evangelical scholarship as unreliable and untrustworthy (at least pre-Enns), but, remarkably, he impugns conservative scholarship not by documented quotations but by using undocumented, straw-man arguments (pp. 47, 49, etc.). The overall result of this approach will be to lead readers to distrust both the Bible and much evangelical Old Testament scholarship.

He implies that he thinks there is no difference in the truthfulness we should ascribe to the Bible and to ancient Akkadian stories: "How can we say logically that the biblical stories are true and the Akkadian stories are false when they both look so very much alike?" (p. 40). It apparently does not occur to him that believing the Bible to be the Word of God (as I thought Westminster faculty we expected to do) is a very good reason for saying that the Bible is true, and the Akkadian flood stories are unreliable. He fails even to consider the possibility of God's special revelation to Moses, and of his providential guidance and protection of the truthfulness of the records, so that the Bible's stories of creation and the flood are absolutely truthful, historical and reliable. He gives no indication here that he thinks God was any more involved in the biblical accounts than in the Akkadian myths.

He says that "what makes Genesis different from its Ancient Near Eastern counterparts is that it begins to make the point to Abraham and his seed that the God they are bound to . . . is different from the gods around them" (p. 53). But this is in the context of discussing the category of "myth" (which he opposes to "historical," p. 49), and so the implication seems to be that truthfulness or historical accuracy of the account is not something that makes Genesis different from other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths.

He says that "Genesis - as other stories of the ancient world - thus portrays the world as a flat disk with a dome above" (p. 54). But what is a reader to do with this? We know today that that view is false: the world is not a flat disk. But I do not see how readers then can avoid the implication that they should not believe what Genesis tells them about the world. Genesis according to Enns is simply untrue.

He claims that Hebrew (or an earlier version of written Hebrew) may not have even existed at "the end of the second millennium B.C." (p. 51), and thus implies a chronology that makes it impossible for Moses (died 1400 or perhaps 1180 B.C.) to have written the Hebrew words of Genesis - Deuteronomy (p. 52).

This was the missing piece to my puzzle. I had never seen the connection before. This explains why Dr. Bauer's history series, Story of the World, doesn't include the first eleven chapters of the Bible! What happens to each of the 5 Core Beliefs of Christianity within Dr. Enns framework of theology? Do we maintain the reliability of the Scripture and Truth? What about the other three aspects of these core beliefs?

Puzzle Piece Number 4: Dr. Francis Schaeffer
The final piece of this puzzle explains what we can expect to happen regarding these 5 Core Beliefs of Christianity.

I remembered Dr. Schaeffer writing about the Reliability of Scripture and Truth in his book No Final Conflict, but what did he say? I began reading. He explained that the watershed issue of our generation would be the Reliability of Scripture and Truth and then eventually the other three core beliefs.

"It is my conviction that the crucial area of discussion for evangelicalism in the next years will be the Scripture. At stake is whether evangelicalism will remain evangelical. The issue is whether the Bible is God's verbalized communication to men giving propositional truth where it touches the cosmos and history, or whether it is only in some sense "revelational" where it touches matters of religion. The early chapters of Genesis relate to this discussion, but ultimately the question is not (and cannot be) confined to them: the whole Bible is involved." (Francis A. Schaeffer, No Final Conflict, Introduction)

"We must say that if evangelicals are to be evangelicals, we must not compromise our view of Scripture. There is no use in evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger, if at the same time appreciable parts of evangelicalism are getting soft at that which is the central core -- namely, the Scriptures..


"We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, No Final Conflict, Ch. 1

The neo-orthodox position is that the Bible contains mistakes in the areas of history and science, but we are to believe it anyway in the religious areas, that somehow a "religious word" breaks forth from it. The result is that religious things become "truth" inside of one's head -- just as the drug experience or the Eastern religious experience is "truth" inside of one's head.

"Further, it means that the next generation of Christians will have the ground completely swept from under them. It is my observation that those who are taught a weakened view of the book of Genesis by their professors almost always carry it further into the whole Bible and are left really shaken as far as any real basis for their Christianity is concerned. And there is a reason for being shaken, for there is no reason to keep what the Bible says religiously if we have put it in an upper story and thrown away that of which the Bible speaks when it touches history and the cosmos.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, No Final Conflict, Ch. 2)

CONCLUSION
This is not always easily detected. Think with me for one more moment. Our core beliefs are being undermined in the very curriculum we are using with our children by our own hands! Puzzle Piece #1 omits the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Puzzle Piece #3 gives a theological basis for making that decision, because how can we know for certain that the Genesis story of Creation and the Flood are any more reliable than these other accounts. Puzzle Piece #2 gives a report on state of the evangelical born again young people in our churches. Puzzle Piece #4 explains what is really at stake! When you reject what the Bible says regarding history (including the first eleven chapters of the Genesis) and the cosmos, there is really nothing left. Do you see how all the pieces fit together?

Before we return to my original question, Is the Classical child a Christian child?, let me introduce you to a new magazine entitled IOTA published by The Youth Classics Institute. It "is a new Classically-themed magazine for elementary school students! It aims to introduce Classics and Latin in a fun, informative, and engaging way, and its content is designed and written to fit in with curricula on the ancient Greeks and Romans. Each full-color issue is approximately 25 pages and explores a god, a monster, a historical person, an object from the ancient Greco-Roman world, and Latin words. Students will enjoy the exciting stories, multitude of pictures, interactive games, and varied activities!"

We are encouraged to follow the link to see sample pages of their new magazine for elementary school children. On their web site we are introduced to Demeter, a goddess of classical Greece and Rome. Because she is the goddess of grain and harvest she is seen featured on a cereal box in living color. The lesson explains her importance to farming and the need to worship her. The child is told that the worship of Demeter has its origin in the mysterious worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis. Then the student is asked to complete several activities: 1 - Draw her picture; 2 - Create a new Cereal Box cover featuring Demeter; 3 - Write a speech as if you were Demeter encouraging your worshippers to care for Mother Earth; and 4 - learn the Latin names for several items.

When it comes to a classical education, would there be a more informed voice than Plato who started the first Academy?

The beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression more readily taken.

Harmless? Hmmm. Although I can't imagine any Christian family using such material, I am sure it will seep into our curriculum halls before long because the door has now been opened. Will we walk through it or will we close the door? May I rephrase my original question, "Can a Christian child be a Classical child?"

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

Thursday, March 31, 2011

History Through the Ages Timeline Figures - Giveaway Winner!

Today is the day!

And the winner is. . .

Stefanie F.
feyerfamhs(at)yahoo(dot)com


(ETA: winner was selected by use of random.org)

Thanks to each of you who stopped by and took time to read my review and be part of this giveaway. It has been my pleasure to share about these wonderful resources with you!

Stay tuned, I'll be doing more wonderful giveaways each quarter of this year including a complete set of the Charlotte Mason Original Series! Want to stay updated? Sign-up to "follow" my blog!

Blessings,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right!

Who would have ever expected so much drama and bickering among leaders in the homeschool community? I sure wouldn't have, and certainly not at the level of disgrace that this situation has risen too so quickly.

As of yesterday, the Midwest Convention has uninvited Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.

http://www.cincinnatihomeschoolconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Ken-Ham-Issue-Public-Statement.pdf


http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2011/03/22/kicked-out-homeschool-conferences?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AIGDaily+%28Answers+in+Genesis+Daily+Articles%29&utm_content=FaceBook

Wow, what a shame!


First let me acknowledge that my understanding and comprehension of this situation is limited to the tittle-tattle that has taken place online and been made so public.

In that regard, I am very disappointed in the way each party has approached this situation. The gossip and public discourse is unbecoming to each as an individual and to each as a "leader" in the homeschooling community - and while I am fully aware that these folks certainly have the right to share and voice whatever they choose to on their blogs, forums, FB pages, etc., I can't help but wish someone would have reminded them that along with the right to freedom of speech . . .they also "have the right to remain silent!"

In reading the statements by B. Dean and K. Ham that I've linked above, both perspectives seem divisive and intended to stir the attendees into taking sides. . .and the accusatory comments by both parties intertwined with finger-pointing scripture is disheartening on many levels.

Then there are the blog posts below by Susan Wise Bauer and Jay Wile that incriminate and accuse as well, which no doubt played a role in the current situation and uninvite. . .



A great deal of "he said", "she said" and an unfortunate situation all the way around. Nobody wins here!

Furthermore, the way the conference hosts handled themselves in this matter was uncouth and dishonorable. Mr. Ham had been an invited speaker, thus if he had made statements that created concern and needed to be addressed, it should have been done professionally and with discretion. Perhaps a few emails to Mr. Dean (conference host and organizer) expressing dismay might be in order. . .

Lastly, while I respect Susan Wise Bauer and her right to run her board as she sees fit, her seemingly one-sided pot stirring among her supporters did not strike me as necessary or appropriate, particularly considering the subsequent deletion of posts and threads when things got heated or opinions differed, i.e., support for Ham, disagreement with the Midwest decision. (Yes, some select dissensions remain, but the censorship is palpable.)
 
To compound this imbalance of perspectives, still up for reading one can find. . . the thread and link to Susan Bauer's posts on the issue, along with the thread and link on Jay Wile's post - neither of which are much different than Ham's. And of course, let's not omit the very lengthy thread which she herself started on the scuffle topic, which remains "closed" for further discussion while ever-so-available for your reading pleasure as it contains plenty of ill remarks regarding Mr.Ham as well as her encouragement for folks to support Midwest's decision to uninvite him.

Palpable. I don't think it'd be off the mark to state that it's just wrong to impose bias dialogue in this manner particularly after initiating the topic. I mean, c'mon, if you're going to stir the pot. . .

In closing, the matter is simply sad all the way around. No one is more wrong than another, and as they saying goes. . .two wrongs don't make a right. As leaders in the homeschool community, all parties involved should have conducted themselves with more integrity and tact before unleashing the storm of words that has ensued.


Praying for resolution.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review - History Through the Ages Timeline Figures and Resources

Utilizing a timeline adds a unique visual touch to history studies. It is a wonderfully useful adjunct that allows one to glimpse the "big picture" when it comes to chronology and relevancy of all that has past. A timeline can help us remember important dates, events, people, empires, architectural developments, presidential offices and more, while also allowing us to see some of the connections or relationships between these things. What was going on in the world when Shakespeare was writing comedies, tragedies and poetry? Who was President during WWII? Who was living and what was going on when Jesus was crucified? What classic authors lived at the same time? What else was going on during the Industrial Revolution?

History is fascinating. Creating and using a timeline can help make it fun too! Thus, I want to share some of my absolute favorites resources from Homeschool in the Woods that we have used with success and joy in our homeschool.

First, there are the pre-printed sets of wall size timeline figures. These come in four individual packs that cover the various time periods from Creation to Christ, Resurrection to Revolution, Napoleon to Now, and of course, America's History. These sets correspond well with many of the popular history curriculum's! They come pre-printed on card stock, ready for your wall size timeline. Each pack includes a color-coded bar line to assist you in placement and visual distinction of specific time periods. Fantastic for those with adequate available wall space, but you can also use these in many other creative ways as well. 


Second, and a top favorite of mine, is the Timeline Figures CD.


This awesome 2-CD set is all-inclusive and gives you the freedom and convenience to print over 1,260+ timeline figures in a size and manner to suit whatever undertaking or design you desire - notebooking pages, coloring pages, cards for games, wall timelines, notebook timelines, history fair projects, science fair projects, topic specific studies, and much more. The images are sorted into over 30 helpful categories, i.e., chronological, alphabetical, topical, authors and literary works, presidents, wars, ancient wonders of the world, explorers, composers, scientists, artists, and more - allowing you to easily find and print just the precise ones you are looking for. Your creativity is the ONLY limit when it comes to this fantastic multipurpose resource!

SAMPLE NOTEBOOK PAGE I CREATED WITH CD

And if you check out this archived post, you'll see the history fair project we created using several figures from the CD as well.



Third, comes the History Through the Ages "Record of Time" Notebook. This hardback, beautifully bound, spiral style notebook, filled with thick, durable, lined pages dating from 5,000 BC to 2,025 AD, is a great resource for organizing and creating a keepsake quality notebook type timeline. I've seen many timeline books - some blank, some boring, some flimsy - but this one stands above them all in every aspect! And if you're like me and think you might struggle with exactly where to "place" all those delightful figures within the book, be sure to check out the ever-so-helpful suggested placement guide





SIDE NOTE: To my excitement, as I was preparing this post and gathering the links to share, I noticed that there is also a new "Record of Time" Timeline Notebook on CD that was not available when I originally purchased my items. . .so. . . I was wondering, dreaming, thinking. . .who wants to buy this for me? LOL! :)

Last, but not least, be sure to check out the abundance of timeline and timeline related tips and ideas that are to be found on the Homeschool in the Woods website. This alone is worth grabbing some tea and settling down at your computer for a while. It's a literal timeline gold mine! Click this link for free timeline figure samples and visit here see many other freebies from Homeschool in the Woods!

Now, just one last thought. . .I've seen a few posts and chatter about these resources being too expensive, but from my perspective fwiw, as with certain other items I've selected for our children's education, I've found them versatile, high in quality, and worth the investment!

~ BONUS ** FREEBIE ** GIVEAWAY! ~  
As an added bonus and gift to my readers and followers here at Seasons of Learning, I'll be holding a drawing on March 31, 2011 for a FREE set of the Creation to Christ pre-printed wall size timelines figures! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post! (Please make sure that I can reach you, because if I can't contact you - you can't win!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shhh. . .Don't Speak

Suffer alone and in silence,
We won't ask, you don't tell
Short simple lessons
Women learn all too well

Not feeling so cheerful?
Kindly keep it all in
No life is perfect
Remain quiet and grin

Hence not a bleak word
Clean house? Yes, you may
Your feelings? How trifling!
Carry on with your day

What's that you say? No. Delete. Delete. Delete.

Oops! I meant "all is well". 

Lesson learned? Shhh. . . Don't speak.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh Baby! - Arrival, Journey, Updates :)

This post has been a couple weeks in the making, so please bear with me if it's disjointed or in dire need of editing. Before I could finish typing and sharing one thing, the next popped up. . .so here's a quick attempt to get it all in and posted today. . .

As you can see it's been a while since I've posted, as the last few weeks of my pregnancy had me completely exhausted and I did little more than absolutely necessary during this time, but I'm delighted to share that we were recently blessed (a bit early) with the newest addition to our family!

Having had four normal deliveries, this time around definitely created its own special memories!

The weekend started out fairly typical. . .we went out for dinner on Friday, came home and hung out together. Later as we were getting little man ready for bed, I walked into his room to gather pajama's when I unexpectedly stumbled on his Spidey trike and found myself looking at the floor through tears! I had fallen rather hard, but landed on my hands and knees, so I wasn't too worried about injury to the baby. Plus, I had always read that a fall of this nature rarely caused injury or problems for baby or Mama and once I confirmed this in my "What to Expect" book, I felt reasonably comfortable that all would be fine.


Next day, I was very sore and begun having pain in my upper abdomen. For some reason, I decided to step on the scale to discover that I had gained 13 lbs since my previous OB visit only 12 days prior, thus suddenly doubling my weight gain for the entire pregnancy! Since I had been sick the week before and had barely eaten, I knew this wasn't right.


Concern grew and I decided to visit labor and delivery triage on Saturday evening. They suspected possible preeclampsia. . .checked urine, blood pressure, ran some labs to check liver enzymes, etc.

protein in urine - trace
blood pressure - up when they checked it upon arrival, but went back down before leaving
swelling - I had a good amount of swelling in hands and feet
labs - all was fine
monitoring - fine with adequate movement
dilation and thinning - none


We returned home feeling reassured that all was well.


I had continuing pain in my abdomen on Sunday, which the nurse had thought could be a combination of muscle soreness from fall along with a large baby pushing from inside. Having had large babies before, this seemed a reasonable consideration.


By 5:30 that evening, I had bloody show. Within a hour, regular contractions that were picking up pace. As the contractions continued and grew stronger, we prepared to head out to the hospital. (It was Superbowl Sunday after all and I didn't want to arrive too early and be sent back home!)


I checked in with the on-call OB at around 8:07, then I decided to lay down briefly to see if the contractions would subside. They did not. Shortly thereafter, around 8:30, I had a contraction and felt an unbelievably painful "pop" or "rupture" in my lower abdomen. Assuming it was my water, I got up to check. The blood began to gush and I found myself bleeding profusely and continuously. Dh immediately called 911.


Everything went crazy from there. I was scared beyond words, but tried hard to pull it together after seeing the fearful faces of my girls and hearing them crying hysterically. I screamed for Mom (also not good at hiding her fear) to go out and keep the kids in the other room so that they wouldn't see the blood everywhere or the pitiful scene that had taken over our bathroom! Seeing their fear only exasperated mine and I wanted so desperately not to scare them more and vice versa.


Then I remember dh pacing back and forth in front on the bathroom door, speaking with 911 while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and saying things like "boot string", "safety pin", "they said don't sit on the toilet", "no, I don't see a head yet".


Those are words I won't ever forget! :-) . . .and never want to hear again, lol!


EMS arrived and I was wheeled out to the ambulance. Mom doesn't get around too well and didn't have time to get in and go with me and dh had to drive and bring the children, so I went on and was transported to the local hospital alone. Not the hospital of my choice mind you, which made me all the more anxious, but the EMT insisted on one, while I repeatedly insisted on another - - a battle I lost as I was obviously not in a position to carry on a debate, but anywho back to what matters. . .


Arriving at the hospital, I was rushed into the trauma unit, where I estimate 20+ individuals we waiting. I think it must have been a combination ER Trauma Unit/Classroom, not sure, not familiar with this hospital's normal emergency staff to patient ratio :) but at that point I didn't care about the audience. Modesty was out the window, I was scared for my life and the life of my unborn baby - and that was priority one. I had lost a lot of blood and contractions were coming hard. I had dilated to 4cm and effaced 75% upon arrival, with the potential for an emergency c-section being discussed as a possible necessity.


They immediately did an ultrasound and I faintly remember the doctor saying the baby was doing okay. My mind must have been nearly numb by then, as the words were so unexpected, so wonderful, so encouraging. . .it took me a few minutes to process them and realize that WE both might be okay!

Further evaluation determined that my placenta had abrupted, but I continued making rapid progress toward delivery and the baby was doing okay, so once everything was stabilized, I was moved to another room, where prepping for delivery continued. (For someone normally terrified of needles and such, I can tell you, not one IV, lab stick, catheter, or stick otherwise, caused me any amount of discomfort. Okay, the morphine helped I'm sure. . .but even so. . .we were moving toward delivery and things were feeling a bit more optimistic at this point.


Moving to a labor and delivery room, the anesthesiologists arrived, providing much needed pain relief none too soon. I was exhausted from the sheer adrenaline of it all. What seemed like the longest night of my life actually covered the span of just a few short hours. Within a very short time, I was 9cm and fully effaced, minutes later. . .ready to push! Having arrived at the hospital somewhere around 9:00 or so, our precious baby was delivered at 12:07am.


Ava Katherine blessed us with her presence nearly five weeks early weighing 6 lbs 14 oz. Being a late term preemie, her breathing was a bit labored and precautions were taken to ensure it stabilized. She spent several hours being monitored in the nursery before we got to spend quality time with her. The NICU nurse came in and shared some concerns over the large amount of blood in her stool, letting us know they were running tests to see if it was her blood or mine, as that would factor into to any next steps they needed to take. Fortunately, it turned out that she had swallowed a large amount of my blood and that it would continue to pass through her stool without any problems.

Ahhh. . .the precious gift of life. The joy of our new blessing. Returning home to my family. Thank you Lord. Thank you.



Continuing our journey. . .Thursday, our second night home, I awoke with heart palpitations and leg pain. Worried about clotting, we returned to the ER. No clots were found, anxiety still most certainly present from the traumatic delivery, but all was well otherwise. They did incidentally find a nodule on my thyroid that I needed to have checked out further, so I had that u/s yesterday and am still waiting for an update. Ugh.

Friday, Ava went for a checkup and was found to have jaundice, so she spent some time at home under phototherapy. Her levels went down, and we discontinued the light.
Monday (Valentine's), she was very lethargic and not nursing more than a minute or two . . .by the time my dh got home from work, she could not be roused or awakened no matter what we tried.

I called the nurse on call at our pediatrician's office (quite frantic by this point) and was instructed to take her to the ER. The nurse called to let them know we were on our way and they took Ava straight back to the trauma room and immediately started an IV and began assessing her and running various tests (CT, Chest x-ray, spinal tap, labs, blood & urine cultures, etc.) During this time of waiting and testing, she was still basically unresponsive (even with all the needle sticks) and began to have brief moments where she would stop breathing.

Ava was moved to PICU around 3:30 am. PICU took very good care of her, watched her diligently, and kept her on IV fluids, as they began an aggressive course of treatment to cover all realms of potentially dangerous issues. (As it was explained to us, they don't wait for the cultures and all the labs to come back because so many things can go from bad to worse very quickly with infants and little ones)

Early results ruled out Influenza A, Influenza B, RSV, Group B Strep, Herpes, and many other viruses, but still no answers. . .so. . .as it sometimes works in medicine. . .by process of elimination, consideration of symptoms, and a slightly elevated WBC in her CSF, they suspected that she could possibly have meningitis of some type.

We continued to wait for the cultures to grow and other tests results to come in, and one by one, they worst of the worst possibilities and all other tests that were done came back negative. Cultures (urine, blood, CSF) grew nothing.

Thus, viral meningitis was determined to be the culprit.

Over the few days of our stay she continued to have periods where she was difficult to rouse and feed, but her breathing steadied and remained so, her color began to look better, and she began to wake up more on her own for feedings. Praise the Lord!

Getting her to nurse and stay awake for nursing is still proving a challenge at times, but she is making progress and seems to be doing much better.

We came home from the hospital this last Thursday evening and are continuing to care for her. . .covering her with kisses and prayers and waking and ensuring that she continues to nurse regularly :)

God bless each of you who have prayed for baby Ava and our family! My heart is humbled and grateful to know so many of you brought our baby and family before the Lord in prayer! She is just precious to us and loved immensely!!


Now, to share a bit of this in pictures. . .









Light Therapy for Jaundice

so tiny in Daddy's hands





  




we celebrated a birthday during Ava's hospital stay, big sis got both of their names on it and added baby booties for baby :)



Yep, pumping milk :)


  

first bath. . .that woke her up :)





And in closing, I want to express my heartfelt and deepest thanks to my dear sister Sheila and friend Michelle for keeping our friends and family updated and requesting prayer for our baby girl and our family. . .and to my Mom. . .whose help we couldn't have done without! Your love and support has meant more to me than you can imagine.
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