Freya’s Birth Story

Our sweet newbie turned three months old this week.  Already!

It has taken me a while to feel ready to write down her birth story, because it was really a rather stressful birth.  Not traumatic, I wouldn’t say, but almost.

As you might remember, Trevor and four of the kids were in England just before Freya was born.  I had felt peaceful about letting them go, because although my blood pressure was high-ish, we had ruled out other symptoms of preeclampsia.

Thursday, July 19

I made it through just over a week of their 10-day trip with my blood pressure more or less behaving, despite the uncomfortably hot and humid July weather and the fact that my dad was working on giving our house a new roof and a lick of paint that week. Then on the Thursday before the Saturday they were due home, I had my regularly scheduled midwife appointment.  My BP was high that afternoon, and Barbara sent me straight to triage.

At first I was confident that I would have the same lack of preeclampsia symptoms I had had the previous week and be sent home, but something in the way the nurses were talking seemed a little different this time.

Now that I was past 37-weeks and considered full-term, they explained, there was really no reason to wait around for my high blood pressure to get any worse or turn into preeclampsia.  They wanted to keep me and begin inducing me THAT NIGHT.  At this I started crying (apparently crying is NOT good for one’s blood pressure) and explaining that my husband was in England and couldn’t they please PLEASE just wait 48 hours???

I am so thankful that that evening in triage I had a Christian nurse named Melinda who was like a hilarious little angel.  She kept me distracted by cracking jokes and fussing over my kids’ names (you all know this is my love language!). She even prayed over my urine sample before it went to the lab!  I really believe if it hadn’t been for her calming effect on me, things could have ended up very differently.

In the end, my midwife and the doctor on call agreed that things weren’t so urgent that we couldn’t wait for Trevor to get home.  I was sent home, exhausted and relieved, with orders to return at 5PM on Sunday for an induction.  I also had to check my blood pressure at home and call if it got out of hand.

Friday-Saturday, July 20-21

Friday was Delia’s birthday.  My dad was wrapping things up at the house and my stepmother Debbiecame over to visit.  Seeing how much I was stressing myself out by trying not to be stressed out, she asked if she could take the kids back to their house.  I happily accepted her offer, although I still feel a little sad that I never got a chance to sing Happy Birthday to Delia that day.

My best friend Mary then took me to her lovely air-conditioned home for a movie followed by dinner out.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

On Saturday, the gang got back from England.  “A sight for sore eyes” doesn’t begin to describe it!

We had one night all together in our own beds before the fun began…

Sunday, July 22

After church on Sunday we scrambled around unpacking and repacking.  We set off mid-afternoon to drop the kids off at my mom’s and head to the hospital for our induction.  Before we were on the road five minutes I had to brake suddenly and the van began making a decidedly not-good noise.  I called Trevor, and he met me and switched cars with me.  He limped along on slow roads while I waited and prayed at my mom’s house, but he got there! (My wonderful dad got it repaired for us while I was in the hospital.)

We arrived at the hospital about an hour late, having been told that there was no real rush anyway.  And there wasn’t!

I changed into my gown, and they started my IV. And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  My friend Jessi came to visit and hang out, since she was only in town for a couple more days and since absolutely NOTHING was happening.

At 9 pm they finally inserted some medicine to begin to soften things up.  I was told that my body was as unready to give birth as it could possibly be, so we prepared ourselves for a long process.

Monday, July 23

I woke up still feeling absolutely nothing happening, and sure enough, I had made almost no progress overnight. Since I was still not even dilated enough to begin pitocin, I was given another dose of cervadil.

For most of the day I still had no real contractions to speak of.  We watched a couple movies, and by late afternoon/early evening, I was dilated enough to start a very low dose of pitocin.

Naturally the contractions got intense just about the time they began telling me to turn off the lights and try to get some rest.  I was definitely NOT going to sleep through these contractions, so I accepted the offer of a shot of stadol to help me sleep.

And help me sleep it did!  I felt like I was going to melt right into my hospital bed, and I was aware of nothing until about 1 or 2 am when it wore off.  I could tell the contractions had been continuing to work while I slept, and they were intense again by then, so I asked for another dose to get me through till morning.

Tuesday, July 24Freya’s Birthday!

When they checked me in the morning, I had made some definite dilation progress, but my contractions had died down.  They were mild and about ten minutes apart.  I was excited to get started on a proper dose of pitocin to really get the party started.

Meanwhile, my midwife, Barbara had left to deliver another baby overnight and had then gone home to rest. The nurses and the staff midwife were just about to increase my pitocin without her, when she called in to tell them to turn off my pitocin completely.

What on Earth?! Just when I was finally ready to get down to the business of having my baby???  We followed orders, but I felt defeated.  I cried.  I whined to my nurse, and she completely sympathized with my frustration.  She said we would switch off the pitocin for two hours, then get started, with or without Barbara.  That was a plan I could live with.

Around noon, Barbara came in.  She explained that she had not, as I thought, simply switched off my labor so she could take a nap.    She was allowing time to flush the pitocin receptors in my body so that they would be  able to receive the next dose.  She apologized that that hadn’t been made clear to me, and we got things going.

I  quickly settled into a good rhythm of strong contractions while we watched a couple episodes of Friends (which was sadly not as good as I remembered it being!). I was coping well, but also thinking in the back of my mind that now would be the time to get an epidural if I wanted one.  And I kind of did, but I didn’t get it, because, well, I didn’t need it yet.  But sure enough, I missed my window.  I think epidurals are just not meant for me.

At 2pm I was 5cm, which may not sound like much, but it is a magic number for me after which my labors go very quickly.

At about 3pm Barbara broke my water, which I knew would make things suddenly much harder.  (Incidentally, this was the first time I’d ever had my water broken. It had broken on its own mid-labor with Pippa and Coraline, more or less as I was giving birth with Ro, Bea, Junie and Annis, and well before contractions started with Verity.)

Sometime after 4pm I went to the bathroom and felt the beginnings of the urge to push while sitting on the toilet.  I had Trevor call Barbara in, knowing the main event was at hand.

This is the part of labor when I completely fall apart and lose any sense of composure or decorum. Every time.  I became totally fear-stricken, and of course, it was too late for the epidural.

Through my tears and panic, I asked Trevor to pray.  (I wouldn’t have remembered this detail except that Barbara reminded me of it at my postpartum check-up, which was kind of her, since it was probably the only moment of my established labor when I behaved with any semblance of dignity.).

He prayed, and I rallied, and then I pushed.  As always, it only took about two contractions and quite a bit of tearing and she was in my arms.  And she was perfect, and the world was perfect.  She was born at 4:53 pm weighing 7lbs even.  I was exactly 38 weeks that day.

We both cried, which I don’t remember us ever doing before, but the whole thing had felt like such an ordeal, and then there she was, and it was all worth it.

Unfortunately, my blood pressure did not get the memo that I wasn’t pregnant anymore and continued to stay elevated.  I went home on medication, and I’m still on it now.

The week that followed was a whirlwind.  We came home on the Thursday, and Uncle Adrian arrived for a visit on Friday night.  (Remember, when we had planned all these things we thought I was having a baby in September, August at the earliest.  Oops!)

That Sunday night saw us back in the ER with my blood pressure so high I was sure they were going to readmit me, but I dodged a bullet and got sent home on an increased dose of my new medicine.  Having babies in your forties is no joke!

I really feel like things have only just begun to settle down in the last few weeks. School is back up and running.  Trevor has started a crazy new rotating shift schedule at work, but we are slowly finding our groove.  Life is busy, but good, and we are thankful.

How Freya Poppy Got Her Name

It began as a challenge – almost as a joke: could we name a little girl after her two grandfathers?

We had named a lot of little girls, and even a couple little boys, after the women in our families: two grandmothers, four great-grandmothers, one great-great-grandmother and three great aunts, to be precise!  But the men of our families had been sadly underrepresented.  It seemed time to honor our two fathers, especially since Lewis and Verity had recently been named after our mothers, but it really seemed best to try to honor both of them at once.

For a boy, we had chosen a name (which, naturally, we didn’t need) early on in my pregnancy that solidly linked to both grandfathers.  Their names, by the way, are Peter Godfrey Young and Bruce James Gilbert.  But for a girl?  Was it even possible???

We had fun playing around with it for a while (and when I say “we”, I primarily mean me and my name enthusiast friends, not me and Trevor.  He generally enters the scene a bit later in the name game, by his preference!). She could have been Godfrina Jamesine or Gilbertine Petra or Brucetta Petrice – there were some very colorful possibilities in those early brainstorms!  But it did start to look like it might not be a realistically achievable goal.

But then there was Freya.  A name we both really loved that had maybe just a close enough tie to her Grandad’s middle name, Godfrey, to do the trick.

Freya is a Norse goddess of some lovely things like love and beauty, but also of some rather less lovely things like warfare and sorcery.  Pagan dieties are not usually our cup of tea, but family names are, and the actually meaning of the name is “noble lady”, so we pressed on.  (Also she drives a chariot pulled by cats, and you have to admit, that’s pretty cool.)

But how to honor Pop-pop?  We were just about to give up on the whole crazy idea when Poppy entered the conversation.  A sweet nod to Pop-pop, and also a perfect fit with our little bouquet of floral girls’ names (Pippa Violet, Juniper, Delphinia).  The whole combo just sparkled for me, and was more or less settled by the beginning of my second trimester.

 

Now here is a fun fact about this pregnancy that we mostly kept to ourselves: for the first time in eight pregnancies, we knew we were having a girl!

On the day of my 20-week ultrasound (the one that actually turned out to be my 24-week ultrasound), only Pippa went back with me while Trevor waited with the gang in the waiting room (they all got to come in for a quick hello to baby at the end).

I told the tech we didn’t want to know the gender, and she let us know when we should look away from the screen.  Unfortunately, poor Pip, who hadn’t thought she would recognize much on an ultrasound anyway, accidentally glanced back up a moment too soon in time to see the words “It’s a girl!” typed proudly across the screen (why?!?  I have no idea!). I knew as soon as I saw her face that she knew.

Trevor and I talked it over with her, and since she said she was happy to keep her secret, and we still didn’t want to know, we carried on as we were for three excruciating weeks.  When Pippa finally slipped and called the baby “she”, I was flooded with both relief at the secret being out and, much to my own surprise, absolute giddiness about having another girl!

As of when she was born, more than half the immediate family knew she was a girl, plus my sister and a whole bunch of people at church and random strangers (because I always panicked when someone asked if I knew what I was having!)  Niko and Junie so staunchly did NOT want to know the gender that they turned down the gender reveal cake Pippa had baked to let them in on the secret and took themselves off to bed! (Despite this, poor June accidentally found out she was a girl while I was in labor!)

Knowing that she was a she, and therefore knowing that she was Freya Poppy, before she was born was such a fun and unusual experience for us.  It’s not something we ever would have chosen, but we definitely now see the appeal of taking a peek ahead of time!

And that is the tale of how (and when!) our new girl got her name.  We hope that despite the somewhat less obvious namesaking, both grandfathers will feel loved and honored by her name, and perhaps relieved that we didn’t go with Brucetta Petrice!

 

Introducing Freya!

When I said that my next post might be a baby announcement, I had no idea how soon I would have a baby to announce!

Freya Poppy entered the world at 4:53 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 following a 48-hour long induction process.  She weighed 7 lbs exactly and was 20 inches long.

We think she’s just perfect!  I will come back soon to tell you about her name and her arrival.  It’s been a slow recovery as my blood pressure has continued to stay elevated, so I would appreciate prayers that that will settle down without any further intervention.

Miss Freya herself is doing wonderfully.  She is feeding well, regaining her birth weight, sleeping well, and just oh, so sweet!  We are so very thankful God has blessed our family with this precious gift.

 

School’s Out for Summer

The end of the school year was a whirlwind of activity!  It seemed for a couple weeks there that nearly every day was a field trip or a party or an award ceremony for the schoolies, while on the homefront we were busily compiling our portfolios and completing our testing and evaluations. But it all got done, whew!

Lewis had a great year.  He can verbally count to ten now, recognizes most of his letters, and can copy text beautifully.  He was loved by his peers and teachers both in his life skills class and his third grade mainstream class.    Here is he with his dear little friend Jude on his field trip to the natural history museum:

He is currently attending half days of school for his extended school year, and thriving there as well, and he will definitely be going back to school in the fall.

Teddy will also be joining Lewis in school next year. The services have been so good for Lewis that we really feel this is the best way to meet the needs of our special boys, though they will certainly be a handful in the same life skills class next year!  Brothers, through and through!

Bea also finished her year with a bang.  Both she and Ro participated in the track team in the late spring.  Bea’s teacher also chose to honor her with the Citizenship Award for showing good character and leadership qualities.  This girl loved every minute of her year of school, but is very excited to come back home next year (as we are to have her back). She made her decision a couple of months ago and never looked back.

Romilly also had an excellent year.  She won the Silver Pen Award for writing excellence for a fictional story which I will share here in photos.  I can’t read it without ugly crying.

Her sixth grade graduation was such a special day.  It was clear how hard she had worked and how this year had accomplished so much of what she hoped it would for her.

Please pray with Ro as she continues to struggle with her decision about school for next year.  She was solidly in the go-to-middle-school camp until a few weeks ago, then just as solidly in the come-back-home camp, and now she is firmly on the fence.  We see advantages and disadvantages for her in both, but we mostly just desire for her to make a decision that she is excited about and has no regrets.  And I kind of need her to decide quickly, because I have to submit my homeschool paperwork for next year by the end of this month!

It feels weirder to brag about my homeschoolers, but they really all had an excellent year, too, pursuing different interests and making steady progress in their academics.  Pippa earned her motorboating license in June and was able to put it to good use on our recent camping trip.

 

Summer has been kind to us so far.  As I write this, Trevor and four kiddos are in England spending precious time with Trevor’s family.  Time that almost didn’t happen!  My blood pressure has been a bit on the higher side this whole pregnancy, but on the evening before they were due to leave it was higher than it had been before.  My midwife sent me to the hospital for bloodwork to rule out preeclampsia, and while I was there my blood pressure came right down and my bloodwork all came back normal.  She gave us the all clear for Trevor to go, and I have stayed perfectly healthy while they’ve been away.  We are so very thankful for God’s mercy in giving us such clear direction, as we had all been feeling a little uneasy about their traveling so close to my due date (which USED to be early September, but is now decidedly early August!)

They have had such a sweet time visiting extended family, while I have had a surprisingly peaceful time at home with my little brood of seven!

 

 

And the homefront:

It is quite possible that the next update I give here could be a birth announcement!  This pregnancy has flown by (what, with the lost month and all), and we are so excited to meet this new little life.  We would welcome prayers for my health and the safe arrival of the newest Young!

 

 

Hello there!

Can you guess why I’ve been so quiet?  I’ll give you a hint:

I am so predictable, aren’t I?  We were thrilled to learn, not long before I dropped off the face of the internet, that our precious dozenth (is that a word?) child is on his or her way, due to join us sometime in August or September. (We *were* due on Pippa’s 14th birthday, September 6, but the ultrasound we had this past Friday showed baby about a month further on than we expected, so I am holding my due date and my summer plans with very open hands at this point!)

As we’ve reflected on the remarkable way God has grown our family over the last few years, we noticed that we have added exactly one child in each calendar year since 2011 (for those who like patterns and numbers, that would be: Coraline in 2011, Niko in 2012, Delia in 2013, Annis in 2014, Lewis in 2015, Verity in 2016, and Teddy in 2017). Of course that wasn’t on purpose, but it was kind of a fun coincidence.  It was a whirlwind, but we felt quite sure our streak would end there.  What a happy surprise that we get to add one more blessing in 2018!

It has been a full, busy season since my last post.  We’ve had our winter birthday season.

Bea and Romilly had their school play, and all three schoolies are continuing to love school and thrive there.

We’ve had an exceptionally long winter, with Easter in the middle somewhere.

We are now finally thawing out and looking forward to finishing up our school year (on both fronts!). We are still considering school options for next year, so I will keep you posted on that as we start to nail things down a bit more.  Happy Spring to you all!

New Year Thankfulness

I don’t like leaving things unfinished, and I do it far more than I’d like to admit.  My incomplete list of November thankfulness has nagged at the back of my mind for two months, and I am now afforded time to finish it for the unlikeliest of reasons: I am stuck in the hospital with Lewis, who has a stubborn skin infection.  He is better in every way as I type this, except for one: his fever is gone, he is cheerful and eating full meals, but the rash still won’t go away, and so we spend another night here.

So it is a good time to count my blessings, and perhaps give a bit of an update while I do.

17.  Grandparents far away.  Trevor’s parents visited for Thanksgiving, and we had such a lovely time with them.  I am so thankful that they are able to hop the pond as often as they do in order to stay so present in our kids’ lives.

18.  Grandparents near.  As I write this, my mom is putting ten of our kids to bed for the night in her two-bedroom house.  This was the plan even before Lewis got sick, only Trevor and I were supposed to have a little mini “staycation” this weekend.  We were thankful for the time together, even though we didn’t get to spend it quite as we expected.

Meanwhile, my dad came to our rescue last night when I left Trevor stranded at our Star Wars movie date to take Lewis to the ER.  When I called to see if my dad might be able to go pick him up at around 10pm, his genuine response was, “Sure.  That’ll give me something fun to do tonight.”

I have a good, good village.

19. Holidays.  It was a special joy this year to have our schoolies home for a week over Christmas.  Trevor had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we still made time for family traditions once he had a few days off.

20. Sisters.  My three all came to me in my teens.  For a long time, they were fun little kids that I got to hang out with, but somewhere along the way they grew into beautiful women whom I am privileged to call dear friends as well as sisters.

21. Snow days.  Love these, except for the 5 am wake-up call from the school to tell us about them.  I miss the days of tuning in to AM radio!

22. My husband.  You know you really love someone when even spending a day with them at the hospital bedside of a sick child brings you joy.  (And you know your life is a little crazy if doing that feels almost like a date!)

23. Music. I love the role that good Christian music has in steering our hearts toward the Lord and instructing our minds. Over the years, we have loved memorizing scripture using the Sing the Word series by the Harrow family. We love singing hymns and worship songs from church in the van as well.  These become the songs that get stuck in our heads and that we hum around the house as we do our chores. They work their way into our souls and fill us up with truth.

In particular, I am excited about this new album we bought right before Christmas.  This is the second book of the Bible paraphrased and set to music by a group called Psallos (the first, Romans, is also phenomenal).  We waited for the release of Hebrews for a long time, and it has not disappointed.  It has deepened my appreciation for what Christ did in presenting Himself as the final “once for all” sacrifice to pay the debt for my sin, not to mention the music is just beautiful.

Since Thanksgiving was on the 23rd, I will end my list there, though I could certainly go on!  My boy has finally drifted off in the bed next to me, and I should follow him sooner rather than later.

Happy New (ish) Year to you all!

Thankfulness: Part 2

In no particular order (because, let’s face it, I’m coming up with all of these right now!)

Day 6: Homeschooling.  This is shaping up to be such a nice year for our homeschool.  The kids are loving choir.  I am enjoying rereading some old favorite books to a fresh new set of little ears.  Pippa is so independent and motivated.  Trevor is home just enough to make everything fit.  I feel like my kids are all getting more of me than they have for a while somehow, even the ones who go to school.

A friend hosted a wool-felting workshop in her home last week that we were able to enjoy.  I just love the freedom we have being home together all day.

Day 7: School-schooling. I am so very happy with how all three of our schoolies are doing.  I love their teachers.  I love all the things they are experiencing that they wouldn’t have at home.  I even love being a school mom and getting to have this different role in their education.  I feel as though our whole family is getting the best of both worlds this year.

Also, this boy is just absolutely rocking it.

 

Day 8: Three-year-olds.  Well, okay. This one in particular.  She is spicy and funny and wants to be big so badly, but is still so adorably not big. Annis-Banannis is one of the chief suppliers of much-needed comic relief in our family.

Day 9: My mom.  My mom makes up a good 75% of my support network, and she’s a busy lady herself.  Whether I need someone to drop everything and come watch my gang for a few hours or just let me have a good cry on the phone, my mom is always there.  She is my greatest cheerleader and an unchanging constant in my life.  Her latest feat of motherly superhero-ness was hosting a slumber party for four of our girls and three friends (plus me!) at her house, so that Pippa could finally have a proper 13th birthday celebration.  It was such a great night. And I didn’t even have to clean. 

Day 10: Names.  I realize this is frivolous, but I am actually super thankful for names.  I enjoy them so much that when I have a week like last week when I discover two new-to-me names that are not only beautiful, but full of history and substance, it actually makes me a little bit giddy.

Oh, what? You want to know what they were?  Well, okay.  Since you asked. Some friends gave their daughter the middle name Idelette after John Calvin’s wife, and we watched a documentary on the life of Richard Wurmbrand, whose wife’s name was Sabina.  I’m thinking wives of heroes of the Christian faith must be an untapped treasure trove of fabulous names!

Day 11: Our church family.  This has been a difficult year in the life of our church, and it had also been increasingly challenging for me to get everyone to church by myself as Trevor has been stuck working Sundays for a number of months.  But each time I flop my frazzled self into the pew and think, “That’s it.  I’m not doing this without Trevor again,” God shows me that I am exactly where I need to be.  Friends come and sit behind me to help keep the kids settled during worship.  Others have stepped up to help in children’s church so that I can stay in the service and be fed.  Our small group continues to find a way to accommodate our unwieldy gang each week for dinner and Bible study.  We are so very blessed.

Day 12: The Bible.  I have started copying out verses, just a few a night, into a little notebook.  I hope it becomes a lifelong habit.  I am always amazed at how God’s Word, no matter how familiar, always yields surprises and fresh insights.  Wasn’t God so gracious to reveal Himself to His creation in such a thorough and personal way?

Day 13: My big girls. Yes, this is the best recent picture I have of them.

These girls stay up late way too often, but that’s because they have reached the delightful stage of actually being enjoyable and easy to be around.  They are smart and funny and best friends (still!). They have, each in their own way, learned to do things that I didn’t teach them and don’t know how to do.  They amaze me every day.

Day 14: Cool weather. I think my six years in Scotland ruined me forever for hot weather.  I am thankful for every single day that I am not sweaty.

Day 15: Laughter. Life in our family has been pretty intense lately (did you know we have added one new child per calendar year for seven straight years?!), but I think we are all relearning how to relax together and just have fun.  Our kids are characters.  Every one of them has a side to them that makes us laugh (even Teddy, who ends most evenings with a lengthy imprecatory prayer about Niko: “Chico, bad! No, Chico!  Bad. Owwy!  No, Chico, no!”)

And now, on Day 16, I am very thankful that I have finished catching up my list so that I can go to bed!  Good night, friends 🙂

Thankfulness: Part 1

November is upon us already – it is hard to believe.  In this busy season of life, it seems I no sooner get used to it being a new month than it’s time to turn the calendar page again. I’m sure I actually blog just as often as I always have – it’s just that the time in between is passing quicker than it used to!

November always feels like a good month to focus on thankfulness.  Trevor showed me an article a few weeks ago on a blog he’s read for years that really got me thinking about appreciating the little things in my life.  (You can read the article here, on The Simple Dollar). So I thought I’d take up the challenge of finding one thing for each day of this month that I am thankful for. I probably won’t actually post every day, but I’ll try to catch up when I do.

I am thankful for:

1. Birthdays (and also a break from birthdays now that October is over!)  Last month I hit a milestone that feels entirely too old to be my real age.  Although I can’t say I’ve completely made my peace with my new first digit, I am so very happy with the life God has given me, and with the season I am in right now.

Happy 6th birthday to our lovely Coraline Audrey!

2. Adoption. This is by no means a “little thing” in my life.  It has changed the entire landscape of our family, and I am thankful for it every single day.  Both for the opportunity to be the mom of these four precious souls, and also for my loving heavenly Father who adopted me into His family at great personal cost.  I see my own adoption struggles reflected in my children daily: to trust, to feel secure, to rest; and I have learned so much about my Lord and myself through them.

 

3. Quiet nights after the kids are in bed. Time to reflect, process, and just breathe. And as a bonus: a bit of extra quiet time tonight thanks to the clocks going back!

4. Friendship.  Tonight my best friend Mary and I celebrated 35 years of friendship.  We met in the first week of kindergarten. The Lord has absolutely spoiled me in the friend department.  I just love the relationships He brings into my life, some that last for years, others that are only for a season, but every one precious.  (Trevor sometimes teases me when I come out of a store or the bank with a little grin on my face after chatting with an employee: “What are you smiling about? Oh wait: you were connecting with another human soul again, weren’t you?”. Yep!)

5. This baby.  She is 13 months old today, and at one of my absolute favorite stages.  She is waving and saying hi to everyone she sees (an extrovert like her mama, perhaps?), clapping her hands, nodding and shaking her head yes and no… Just suddenly bursting with personality.  She brings us so much joy.

Stay tuned for the next installment.  What are you thankful for today?

 

Fall Highlights

We are in the midst of our Summer/Fall birthday season right now and these three dear ones have had birthdays since the last time I updated:

Happy 11th birthday to Teddy, 13th to Pippa (a teenager!) and 1st to our sweet little Verity Laine!  Isn’t it nice that even the big ones still indulge me and let me take their annual teddy bear photo?  Here is Pippa at about Verity’s age, for 1. size comparison (13-year-olds are huge!), 2. likeness to Verity (twinsies!) and 3. just for nostalgia (because how on earth is my baby thirteen already?!)

Aww!  Wasn’t she sweet?

But probably what you really want to hear about is how school is going, right?

It is going so, so well!

I will admit that I spent the first week saying, “What have we done?” as I spent every evening signing dozens of forms and reading up on all the rules and regulations and getting to know each teacher’s little preferences and idiosyncrasies.  But now we have found our groove, and it’s a good groove!

As a homeschooling mom, I held my breath for the first couple weeks to see how the girls would fare academically, and they are both doing very well: at or above grade level in all major subjects. Whew!  Romilly’s teacher told me at back-to-school night that she is engaged and participating valuably in class, which is a huge part of what she wanted to get out of this year.  Bea is in student council and plans to run for treasurer, and she’s also joined an afterschool singing club.  Ro goes to an after school fitness class on the same day.  Both are learning instruments and playing in the band.  They have made friends and are finding acceptance.  I could not have asked for a better first month for them!

Lewis is also thriving!  I have to work a little harder to know how he’s doing, but here is what I do know: 1. He loves going. 2. His take home note each day has consistently informed me that he had a “Great” day every single day except for one in the first week that was only “Good”. 3. His ability to accurately copy letters has improved more in the past month than in our whole year of homeschooling.  At home, Lewis has had some behavioral challenges, so we are working through those, but overall, this is such a good fit for him.

As for the “homies” we are having some new adventures of our own this year.  Pippa, Niko and Junie have joined a homeschool choir, the Keystone Youth Choir.  The are learning much and being stretched there as well as making new friends.  (Bonus: the littles and I have a built-in playdate each week during choir with a friend from AWANA whose big brother is also in the choir.)  Also, when Delia (and soon Teddy) go to Theraplay for speech and OT each week, Pippa, Niko, Junie and Cora are still going to the Weavers’ home for what is now officially called Family Science Club.

Pippa, in 8th grade this year, is almost completely independent with her schoolwork.  I give occasional guidance in grammar and math, and we grade her tests, but otherwise, she runs her own show.  I am amazed at her self-motivation and determination this year.  She designed a weekly checklist of all the work that needs to be done, and she is a tough taskmaster!

Delia with her new communication device!

 

I am finding with three at school and Pippa working largely on her own, that my teaching load at home feels much more manageable.  I carve out time to work with the littler kids in the morning while Niko and Junie do some independent work.  Then I can help them until lunchtime.  After lunch we read together or do science.  At 3:30, when the schoolies get off the bus, our homeschool day ends, too.  Wherever we get to, there we stop. This shift in our day provides a nice change of pace for everyone.  The homies get to have some fixed free time (which never used to happen!), and I get to debrief with the schoolies and help with homework.  Life is feeling more doable than it has in a long time.

Coraline making a rainbow

 

Another unexpected side effect of having a few kids leave each day is that we have so much to talk about at dinner!  The schoolies tell us about their adventures, and we tell them about ours.  The best part is that it is so balanced, with neither side generally feeling that they’ve missed out on anything, but everyone, having had a full and fun day, happily sharing and being excited for each other (disclaimer: it is also very noisy!)

 

A New Adventure

Our summer has continued to be full and busy.  Delia celebrated her 11th birthday.  Happy birthday, beautiful!

Teddy went to his first VBS, his first (and second!) baseball games…

 

As well as his first camping trip!  This trip to the familiar haven of our friends’ parents’ home in central PA was our practice trip for a longer camping adventure later this summer.  Teddy did really well.  Our biggest fear was that he would escape from the tent and get into mischief in the early morning, but in fact, he loved the tent so much that a few times he escaped INTO it to hang out and look at books during the day!

But the biggest first of all will be happening for our family in just over three weeks, when THREE of our children will be going to public school!

It all began back in the Spring with the thought of sending Lewis.  I have enjoyed teaching him, and he has done well at home, but at this point, he can really only be doing schoolwork when I am directly working with him.  He has a good attention span and is a hard worker, and I just felt like he could benefit from more direct instruction time than I could give him.  So we began the IEP process with our local school.

Over dinner one evening, the other kids began to realize that this was a thing that was really going to be happening, and immediately, Beatrix and Romilly spoke up to say that they wanted to go to school, too!

I’ll admit, I was a bit dismissive at first. We have always said that if any of our children ever wanted to go to school, we would hear them out.  So far, whenever anyone has voiced a desire to go to school, it has been followed by, “…so I can ride the bus/have recess/have snow days,” so I wasn’t expecting this conversation to go far, but my girls surprised me.

Romilly, our highly sensitive, tender-hearted introvert, shared that she felt she would never overcome her shyness if she wasn’t pushed outside her comfort zone.  After hearing her out, I found (surprisingly) that I agreed with her.

Bea, our bubbly, tomboyish chatterbox, had completely different reasons, but excellent ones.  She feels that going to school is part of our shared cultural experience, and she wants to experience school for herself so she is better able to relate to others.  (I’ll admit I have been teasing them that Ro needs to go to school so that she can learn to talk to other humans, and Bea needs to go so she can learn to let other humans talk!)

They had gotten past me, but I was fairly certain that Trevor, the die-hard homeschooler of the family, would veto this crazy idea.  But you know what?  He heard the same thoughtful maturity in our girls that I heard, and gradually, a “we’ll see” turned into a “maybe” and blossomed into a “yes!”

Both of us have a peace with this decision that I never could have imagined I would ever have even six months ago.  The girls have never wavered in their resolve.  And Lewis loses his mind with excitement every time he sees a school bus, anticipating his big adventure this year.  We are all excited.  The ones who are staying home are excited for their year, too, though it will look very different without our three public-school adventurers in the mix at home.

And this mama, who in nearly thirteen years of parenting has never sent a child to school, is learning whole new lessons about trusting God and letting go.  Not to mention back-to-school shopping!