Friday, February 17, 2017

Because he is.

Thankfully, no one has directly questioned me about my decision to carry David to term. But I know some have had those thoughts. In actuality, the decision to carry David to term was made over fifteen years ago, when I realized that life absolutely does begin at conception. When sperm and egg meet, all that is necessary for life is there and a precious soul is created. Ultimately, the length of life or the size or development of a person doesn't matter. All persons are made in the image of our holy God. When our doctor gave us David's diagnosis at only 9 weeks, I knew immediately I would carry him for as long as I could. That doesn't mean I was excited about the thought of continuing along with a pregnancy when I knew my baby would die. It doesn't mean there weren't times I thought a natural miscarriage would make some things easier. But at 9 weeks, I could see his heart beating on that ultrasound screen. I could already count his fingers and toes. There was no doubt that what was growing inside of me was a baby, a life, a soul. When two of our babies died very small, before they even had a chance to develop much of a body and grow big enough to be born, I rested in knowing their souls were eternal. I know that I will meet Noel and Zion in heaven one day. I wept over not having the chance to hold them, but I will have that chance with David, and that is a gift. He will be held and he will be loved and his family will have the opportunity to meet him. For these small mercies, I am thankful. But David is not just a baby because I want him to be and because I chose life for him. He is a baby because he is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More Book Lists

More of our absolute favorites!

Non-fiction 5+
My First Number Book, Marie Heinst
Math for all Seasons, Greg Tang
Q is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing Game, Mary Elting and Michael Folsom
Me on the Map, Joan Sweeney
I Can Be Safe, Pat Thomas
My New Family (adoption), Pat Thomas
Let’s Talk About It: Adoption, Fred Rogers

Anthologies
My Very First Mother Goose, Iona Archibald Opie
Mother Goose, Tasha Tudor
The Real Mother Goose, Blanche Fisher Wright
Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes, Marguerite de Angeli
Favorite Nursery Tales, Tomie dePaola
The Children's Book of Virtues, William Bennett
The Children's Book of Heroes, William Bennett

Poetry
Poems to Read to the Very Young, Josette Frank
The Baby's Good Morning Book, Kay Chorao
First Poems of Childhood, Tasha Tudor
Animal Crackers, Jane Dyer
Read Aloud Rhymes for the very Young, Jack Prelutsky
Sing a Song of Popcorn, Beatrice de Regniers
Nursery Rhyme Classics, Kate Greenaway
When We Were Very Young, A.A. Milne
Now That We Are Six, A.A. Milne
A Child's Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson
Hailstones and Halibut Bones, Mary O’Neill
Listen Rabbit, Aileen Fisher
Read Aloud Poems, Glorya Hale
The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Jack Prelutsky

Chapter books
Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
Heidi, Johanna Spyri
The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Beverly Cleary
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

Books for Parents
The Well-Trained Mind, Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
Books Children Love, Elizabeth Wilson
Honey for a Child’s Heart, Gladys Hunt
Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Ginger Hubbard
Parenting with Scripture, Kara Durbin

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Great Conversation, Screens, and Passing Judgment

When walking our dogs Wednesday morning, I discovered something about myself. If your child throws a tantrum at the grocery store or disobeys you at the park or some similar event, I will overlook it completely. Kids are kids and as a parent you are trying to guide and teach them and it is hard. I get it. My kids have naughty moments, too. BUT if you do not train your dog to walk on a leash and they pull and drag you and bark at everything that moves I will absolutely judge you! Nick was the worst walker ever. With great stubbornness and daily practice on my part he has become the best walker ever. In a nutshell, training dogs is a lot easier than training children. Maybe this is why so many young couples get a dog first to practice on. We had three fur babies before we started on the human variety, and are still training them all with mixed results. ;)

On to other unrelated matters. Pregnancy is going well and we are continuing to treasure this time with David. We are praying against any complications, that I would go into labor on my own, and that David would be born alive and his siblings have a chance to meet him. Please pray with us as God leads you.

And now on to other unrelated matters. I've mentioned before that we are taking a classical education approach to our homeschool. It is cohesive and comprehensive and fits well with my teaching style. There are so many curriculums to choose from that you can make it fit with whatever learning style your child has. We read and read and read and think and memorize and experiment. Our children have very limited screen time (typically one movie/90 minutes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood per week, and 15 minutes on the computer or ipad during library visits). I figure they will have plenty of time to catch up later. In these early elementary years, we do not use technology at all for school. Clicking icons develops different parts of the brain than printed books. For us, screens are for entertainment, not teaching. In later school years we will use technology more and I'm sure they'll catch up just fine. My primary concern with screens is that adults use them to keep children occupied when they should be parenting them. Ouch, I know. But parenting is hard sometimes and you have to be involved and interact! This was recently brought home to me by two incidents.

#1 The kids and I were looking through a scrapbook of a trip I took to New York in high school (looking at Mama and Daddy's childhood pictures is a current favorite). While looking at the page about the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacob recognized some famous paintings he had seen before and even knew some of the artists. We have not done any formal art study at all, he just knew this from books we have borrowed from the library or flipped through off our own bookshelves. Jacob is my most screen-attached child. If there is a screen on, he is completely zoned in on it and ignores everything else. For me, this little incident confirmed we are definitely taking the right approach with him.

#2 The Gent and I took the kids to a family event at the library. A quartet from the symphony came and did a 30 minute program for preschool-2nd grade. There were about 100 kids there. Many of them were running around talking, ignoring the program and making it difficult for the kids who did want to engage to even hear. Meanwhile their parents sat in the back of the room playing on their phones. :/ All four of our kids (even Nora, who just turned two last week) were very interested. On the drive home, they talked about the instruments we saw and the music we heard and what they want to learn to play when they grow up (Jacob wants to learn to play the drums, uh oh!).

I'm not writing these things to try to make any parent feel guilty. But do be conscious of the way you use technology--don't let it take the place of actually parenting and teaching and guiding your child. They can be entertained without screens. They can even learn to entertain themselves. Raise them to be part of the Great Conversation! While I go walk my practically perfect dogs, be encouraged by these words from Roald Dahl:

Mike Teavee poem from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

7 months

Third trimester, here we go...

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I am feeling great; I tend to have very easy pregnancies once I get past the lingering nausea. David is a very active baby and I feel him kick and roll throughout the day and night. His siblings love to feel him kicking and wriggling. They went with us for a 4D ultrasound last week and that was a sweet time for all of us. David responds to certain stimuli just as my other babies did. I know because of his brain abnormality, scientifically he probably shouldn't, and that makes it all the more precious. I won't pretend to understand how the brain and soul connect. But I know that David responds when I eat ice cream and spicy foods, and startled every time the tympani played at the symphony last week. I am assured that David is alive and happy and pain-free right now, and we are all treasuring these weeks together.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Nora: 24 months

She's two! Nora is speaking in paragraphs, loves to sing and dance, adores her baby dolls and all their paraphernalia, likes to sit in your lap to be read to, and told me yesterday she is ready to potty-train. "I potty-train now, Mama." (I guess it is about time to start that and see how it goes.) Nora loves to make us smile and laugh and she is a sweet and fun little girl. She is quite the loved "baby" girl around here!

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Friday, January 20, 2017

The Best of the Best

We do a lot of reading around here. I love reading aloud to my kids and we do lots of it every day. We read picture books, chapter books, poetry, anthologies, children's Bibles, devotional books, science, history, geography--any thing the kids get interested in, we get a stack of books from the library and see what we can learn. I've used book lists from all over (Honey for a Child's Heart is my favorite, but see also: Books Children Love, Learning at Home, 1000 Good Books, God's World from A to Z, How to Raise a Reader, 1000 Great Books, Ambleside, Well-Trained Mind). We usually borrow books from our awesome public library first, and then if it becomes a family favorite I put it on the kids' Amazon lists and someday we add a copy to our home library. I've saved you the trouble of sorting through all those lists and come up with our very favorites here (more categories to be posted later). Of course, every child's interests are different and some of our favorites won't be yours. :) But if it helps, here you go!

Board books
Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
Freight Train, Donald Crews
Beautiful Babies, Karma Wilson
The Going to Bed Book, Sandra Boynton
Horns to Toes and in Between, Sandra Boynton
Moo, Baa, La La La, Sandra Boynton
One Wet Jacket, Nancy Tafuri
Two New Sneakers, Nancy Tafuri
Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt
My World, Margaret Wise Brown
Big Red Barn, Margaret Wise Brown
Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
Jamberry, Bruce Degen
I am a Bunny, Ole Risom
Spot books, Eric Hill
Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr.
Time for Bed, Mem Fox
The House in the Night, Susan Marie Swanson
Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell

Picture books, ages 3-4
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Johnson Crockett
The Carrot Seed, Ruth Krauss
A Apple Pie, Kate Greenaway
Chicken Soup with Rice, Maurice Sendak
King Jack and the Dragon, Peter Bently
Little Rex Big Brother, Ruth Symes
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, Sherri Duskey Rinker
Steam Train Dream Train, Sherri Duskey Rinker
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
One Crow, Jim Aylesworth
Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
Fancy Nancy books, Jane O’Connor
The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
Baby Wren and the Great Gift, Sally-Lloyd Jones
Do You Know What I’ll Do, Charlotte Zolotow
Big Sister Little Sister, Charlotte Zolotow
All Kinds of Kisses, Nancy Tafuri
What the Sun Sees the Moon Sees, Nancy Tafuri
A House is a House for Me, Mary Ann Hoberman
Ox Cart Man, Donald Hall
The Moon was the Best, Charlotte Zolotow
I Like to be Little, Charlotte Zolotow
Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola
On Mother’s Lap, Ann Herbert Scott
Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey
Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey
Tea for Ruby, Sarah Ferguson
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Angus and the Ducks, Angus and the Cat, and Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack
Frances books, Russell Hoban
Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion
Go Dog Go, P.D. Eastman
A Tree Is Nice, Janice Udry
Snow, Uri Shulevitz
Go and Hush the Baby, Betsy Byars
Corduroy, Don Freeman
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, Leo Lionni
Play with Me, Marie Hall Ets
Gilberto and the Wind, Marie Hall Ets
In the Forest, Marie Hall Ets
Just Me, Marie Hall Ets
Ferdinand, Munro Leaf
Come Out Muskrats and others, Jim Arnosky
Bunny’s First Spring, Sally Lloyd-Jones
If You Plant a Seed, Kadir Nelson
Jack’s Garden, Henry Cole
On Market Street, Arnold Lobel
Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney
Llama Llama Red Pajama, Anna Dewdney
The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

Picture books 5+
One Morning in Maine, Robert McCloskey
Little Bear books, Elsa Minarik
Amelia Bedelia books, Peggy Parrish (only the originals)
Curious George books, H.A. Rey (only the originals)
Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, Richard Scarry
Frog and Toad books, Arnold Lobel
The Day We Saw the Sun Come Up, Alice Goudey
The Tale of Peter Rabbit and 22 others, Beatrix Potter
A Kindle of Kittens, Rumer Godden
The Golden Plate, Bernadette Watts
The Little Red Hen and others, Paul Galdone
White Snow Bright Snow, Alvin Tresselt
Building Our House, Jonathan Bean
The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton
Stone Soup, Marcia Brown
The Family Under the Moon, Nancy Jewell
The Best-Loved Doll, Rebecca Caudill
The Biggest Bear, Lynd Ward
Berenstain Bears books (some are better than others), Stan and Jan Berenstain
Now One Foot Now the Other, Tomie de Paola
The Quiltmaker’s Gift, Jeff Brumbeau
The Old Woman who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle, Rumer Godden
No Dragons for Tea (fire safety), Jean Pendziwol
St. George and the Dragon, Margaret Hodges
Finding Winnie, Lindsay Matlick
A Field Full of Horses, Peter Hansard