Sunday, July 29, 2012

Retreat, Changes Ahead, and Parenting Desperation

Silence.  Sitting with my thoughts.  Loosening of constraints.  Unhurried prayer.  Sleeping until the sun wakens me.  Is this a dream or what?

Last January I attended a talk where a woman shared how important it is to get away and have time to think and reflect.  At the the time, I didn't imagine that this could happen for me, thinking of a flood of excuses.  But then an opportunity dropped in my lap.  The price was right, the location amazing, and the husband agreed!  So, this last weekend I have been hanging out at a huge victorian mansion on a lake in northern Indiana, with my own bedroom and bathroom, lots of free time, beautiful weather, and encouraging ladies to share it with.  There has been some card-playing, a little bit of Olympics-viewing, and a bonfire.  But mostly just time on my own, to take walks, sit on the dock, read, and think.

I feel so blessed to have been able to escape all of the responsibilities that I have on a day-to-day basis.  The timing of this retreat couldn't have been better.  This pregnancy has left me too tired to be able to get up before the kids and have my own unfettered, quiet time every day.  I have really missed that time to sit and think and plan.  Some of us need it more than others.  I'm in that "Need It A Lot" camp right now!  This retreat has left me feeling very grateful.  I feel restored.

Here's hoping that the fall with be smooth, the newborn will be compliant (ha ha!), and the recharging I have experienced this weekend will carry me for a long time.


May was medical-recovery-month, June was unexpected-job-opportunity (for Kevin) / soul-searching-month (wherein we discovered that it's not a bad thing to realize you like where you're at!), and July has been birthday-month.  With everything going on, the summer seems to have flown by so fast.

We will start school a little later this year, after Labor Day.  I am relieved that I still have the month of August to play in the pool with the kids and complete some projects at home.

This year we are doing something new.  Meredith will attend the Highlands Latin School three days a week.  Next year, if we decide to continue using HLS, she will be able to attend either two days or three days depending on the classes we want her to take.  This spring I really hit a wall and came to the realization that I need more help.  We decided to take advantage of this awesome school, based in Louisville, that opened a campus in a neighboring city.

A man plans his way, but God directs his steps.   I thought I would continue homeschooling full time.  But, when at the end of my rope, this opportunity opened up.  I think Meredith will benefit from attending HLS.  She will be doing her work at home two days and I will still be very involved in that, but I won't have the pressure to "do it all" with her academically.  There are pros and cons to everything, but this opportunity is a huge relief to me right now.

I am also very excited to be able to spend more one-on-one time with Clara, who simply needs more of my attention right now.  We will do kindergarten together at home.  I envision lots of read-alouds, cuddle time, and baking projects.


If you were a fly on my bedroom wall, you would notice that there are four parenting books on my nightstand right now.  You would probably also surmise that I am someone who is desperate for some wisdom on how to handle some issues I'm having with child-rearing.  Four books on parenting.  Obvious conclusion, right?

I have finished two of these books and am in the middle of the third one.  These books have given me much to think about. The one I am reading right now is, hands down, the best parenting book I have ever read.  Ever.  In fact, I am going to start telling people that it is the only parenting book they need to read.    It has already made a difference in how I handle instruction and discipline and, more importantly, it has made a difference in my heart and my attitude, which is quickly affecting how one particular child (the one who has brought me to my knees), is responding.

Most of my review of this book is already written, but I want to actually finish it before I post it.  I will let you know my conclusions and why I feel this book is so powerful, so biblical, and what I have done wrong up to this point. You will hear back from me.  Soon.


Letting-Our-Hair-Down Birthday

Clara was counting down the days, starting about a year ago, until she could have her first friends party. And we sure did have a lot of fun planning this party.

Apparently there are a lot of little girls out there who love Rapunzel and the movie Tangled, so there are a ton of ideas floating around the internet.

It's hard for me to believe that my sweet, second-born daughter is already five! Clara is perky, larger-than-life, enthusiastic about having fun times, compassionate and nurturing, and gives the best hugs. Clara, you are a special girl and your momma loves you!!

Here are the invitations we made. Simple and super cute.

This doughnut tower was a combination of several ideas I saw online. It was so easy. And we felt like we were playing "cake boss" when Kevin went to Lowe's to get a PVC pipe and some "feet" or whatever you call them to put together a structure to hold the doughnuts. I made the rice krispie treat portion of the tower (holding Rapunzel) by pushing the cereal concoction into my French press. :) Whahla! Easiest cake ever and it didn't even require me to turn the oven on. Plus, let's be honest, doughnuts taste waaaaayyy better.
On the morning of the party, I sent Kevin to get doughnuts from our favorite local bakery. The problem was that they were too fresh and airy (which makes them so wonderful) and didn't support all the weight. So I saw my tower slowly decompressing and sinking. I quickly called Kevin, who was running another errand, and asked him to go to the grocery store and buy the grossest, most stale, packaged cake doughnuts he could find. They worked wonderfully! Needless to say, we ate the GOOD doughnuts and left the other as a mere decoration.
Here is Clara Bear with her dearest friend in the world, Eden Swan. These two, together, are hysterical. If you ever want to have interesting and funny conversations, you need to get these two together.

A Golden Birthday

Somehow Meredith figured out what a "golden birthday" is and that she was going to have one. She kept reminding us that she would be seven on July 7th, and this was the only golden birthday she would ever have, in her entire life. I love this little girl. She is so passionate, creative, generous, friendly, and loves the outdoors. Most recently she has pulled out two of her own teeth, that weren't even all too loose, because she was tired of dealing with it. (You are a brave, wonderful girl, Meredith! Life is so much better with you in it.)

Meredith asked if I would take her to a "real salon" to get her nails done as a birthday present. I did not complain!

We had a Hawaiian Luau party, complete with grass skirts and leis from the dollar store. In the second picture below, the girls are learning to do the hula. I found some kid-friendly DVD with instructions on how to hula. Even the grownup dads got involved in learning how to hula. It was a hoot!

Here is Meredith with a magic kit, a gift from her grandparents. She had been asking for one for at least six months.

We love you Meredith and hope your one and only golden birthday was special!