Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kissing



When we were expecting Beka we attended a nice little church called Cornerstone.  While we didn't remain there, we did bring away with us some valuable lessons.  And after seeing living examples of young adults who waited until their wedding day to have their first kiss, we have opted to teach our girls to wait for marriage before giving their kiss away.  I hope that Sarah will make it but the truth is there were a lot of outside factors that make it unlikely.  And yet we still hope that she will opt to wait before giving her kiss to some random guy. 


Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.  We don't think kissing is a sin, but Chris and I both know what our girls have yet to learn.  When you are dating someone and you give them your kiss it makes it very easy to slip into more intimate things.   So while we don't discourage the girls from holding hands, we are asking them to reserve their kisses for that one special young man that God has out there for them. 

Sarah is already experiencing the pain of breaking up with boys and yet, I wonder if it wouldn't have been tougher on her is she had given her first kiss to the young men she's liked.  And the truth is while I know that Sarah can make it, she is strong enough to make it til marriage, she has too many outside influences telling her she isn't worthy enough of waiting.   Some might call our hopes unrealistic, but I believe that we have sold our children short.  We've told them they are a slave to their hormones and I think Josh McDowell was right when he said that young people should feel insulted when the world tells them it's okay for them to have sex.

Moving on to the little girls, it helps that we have them with us most of the day with few outside influences, but so far they seem to realize that kissing is something to save.  They cover their eyes when people on TV kiss each other, they sometimes awkwardly say something in public.  But tonight was the best of all.  Beka drew some pictures and she told me one of them was me and that my mouth was my kissalip.  I had to chuckle as I asked her what was a kissalip?

She looked at me and sighed as if I should understand what she was talking about and informed me that a kissalip was where you get your kisses.   And that you don't get your kisses until you are married!  :D  I was so happy to hear that from her.   Now to see if they make it.  I believe in my girls and I am positive they have what it takes to make good choices.

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Universal Truths

The longer I am a mom, the more I realize there are some things in life that don't go as planned.
As I learn to let go of the little things, the more I realize that you have to laugh at the small things.
I've also learned that I live Murphy's Law sometimes, I think we all do from time to time so I thought I'd share a few of them with you.

1.  If you are allergic to every tree in North America it only makes sense that you will move to the Evergreen State!

2.  No matter how much you think your child will love the toy you searched high and low and finally purchased; your child will always, always, like the box better.

3.  Car keys are sometimes a great toy to distract a child - just make sure they don't put them in their mouths - gouging the inside of the mouth can be a serious wound.

4. If you purchase an expensive bottle of shampoo - the children will always be sure to dump THAT expensive bottle into the bottom of the tub instead of the cheap $1 bottle you bought for them.

5.  When you think you've taught your child not to take something that isn't theirs (i.e. shoplifting)  you will find something they have stolen from the store.  And of course, the store they take it from requires a 30 minute drive to return the item and make them apologize.

6.  Just because your child stays up until midnight does not mean they will sleep late in the morning no matter how much you wish they would.

7.  The one weekend you have nothing planned is the weekend that your children will get sick - all of them at the same time and leave you with massive loads of laundry and thus destroying your dreams of a lazy weekend in bed.

8.  The cable will always go out in the middle of your favorite television show AND you'll have to wait for it to go into syndication to find out how it ends.  Granted this one was more likely to happen before the Internet.

9.  No matter how nice their bed is, your child will find the oddest places to decide to sleep.  This accomplishes two things for your child.  First, it means you will go gray that much faster as you frantically search your house and try to find them.  Second, it means they will be keeping you on your toes for years to come!  I promise.

10.  No matter how many places you search for your child they will almost always be in the clothing rack you didn't search at the mall clothing store!

11.  About the time you think you are going to go crazy because you can't find your child after they sneak off from a public restroom - people will find said child sitting quietly in a bathroom stall in a kangaroo seat swinging their legs and singing Jesus Loves Me.  Oh yes, and before they find your child they will close down the visitor's center where you child has disappeared making sure no one can exit or enter until your child is found all because she decided she wanted to have some fun!

12.  Never laugh at the parent whose child comes running down the slide naked in a McDonald's Play Place.  It is almost certain that your child will do it shortly afterwards.

13.  You shouldn't judge the harried parent whose child is screaming in the grocery store.  This is true for several reasons.  First, The child may be special needs and you are making the parents life more difficult with your judgements.  Second, Maybe the child is having an off day or it's nap time or worse, maybe there is a huge change going on and the child is just expressing his or her frustration.  Finally, When you judge someone you open yourself up to walk a mile in their shoes and that special needs child you thought was a brat could be your child someday or grandchild.

14.  Children are a blessing and a lot of work, enjoy the precious moments you have with them, they pass way to quickly.

15.  When you are a teenager and think your mom doesn't know what she's talking about when she's trying to keep you safe with your boyfriend.  It comes back and bites you in the butt because your teenager won't listen to you either.

16.  Your breasts will always leak at an important event or someone's child will cry causing you to leak when you least expect it and at the worst possible moment!

17.  You will go on a small getaway with your spouse to get a break from the kids and discover that all you do is talk about the kids!  Oh and you'll leave that great five star hotel just because you miss your kids too much and you'll leave a day before you  have to check out.

18.  The great five star hotel you booked for a great price?  You'll discover that you liked the La Quinta hotel better because it has an actual flat screen TV AND it serves breakfast, unlike the so called amazing hotel that would have cost you an arm and a leg w/o a good deal.   Oh and the water at the La Quinta Inn is actually free - the water at the posh hotel is $6 a bottle.

19.  You're newborn will always have a blowout diaper on the outfit you carefully picked out for their photos BEFORE you get to the photo place.  Every blasted time!

20.  You'll discover you are overdrawn about two minutes after you realize you just used your last diaper and pay day is not for another two days. 

21.  You'll renew your vows and the day after everyone leaves your spouse will get the e-mail that his unit is mobilizing and deploying shortly after Christmas.  Not funny per se but it happened to us.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Maureen

Christmas and Need

When I was a girl I was in a single mom family.  My dad had died when I was five and after my mom divorced my step-dad we hurt financially.   I probably wouldn't have known, but sometimes when you hear your mom weeping as she prays to God asking him for help to make the bills, it's hard to stay oblivious.  I learned some amazing lessons from those times.  But I also learned that it stinks when you are watching others open a lot or some very expensive presents and you have one toy and that's it.  I think the person it was hardest on though was probably my mom.

As mom's we try to protect our children and we only want them to be happy and healthy.  I'm sure that it was harder on mom - especially when Matt and Meg never seemed to realize it wasn't about stuff and they really wanted.  My brother seems to have figured it out and maybe now that Meg is older she has too, but for a long time she was angry with Mom for not giving her what she thought Mom should have provided for us.  She's a mom herself now so I'm sure she has begun to realize it's never easy to see your children suffer or struggle. 
 
So yes, I 'm going to send you links to http://www.bethelfoundationusa.com/ so you can help out.  I've been one of the over 600 children who will have nothing under the tree for them.  It is not fun, it's heartbreaking for the children and it is heartbreaking for the mom's who have to watch their children struggle.  Because most of these children won't be sitting with one toy while their families open more toys they can't have - they will have no toys at all.  You can help that not happen.  You can make a difference.  You can share this blog and this link http://www.bethelfoundationusa.com/, you can go to the link and donate some cash to the paypal account you'll find if you scroll down a little bit, or you adopt a child if you are in the Oklahoma City area.  Anything helps out.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 for the Koeppel Clan


It's that time of year again.  Christmas is here.  This year has been a momentous year for the Koeppel Clan.  Just as February 2010 saw Daddy coming home from deployment and a year of funerals and no job prospects, February 2011 saw change coming to our house.

Shortly after the New Years 2011 Chris and I both sensed that God had something over the horizon for us.  But as January dragged on, we started to worry a bit.  Chris began searching for a unit with which he could deploy.  We hated the idea, but he had sent out 2,000 job applications and we were getting a big fat nothing.  The closest thing we saw to something promising was an interview he had with Boeing.  They said they'd be in touch in a couple of weeks, but it turned into several more weeks and so Chris started looking into deploying again.  He found a unit with which to deploy but we weren't thrilled about the idea of it happening.  The unit Chris was deployed with in 2009/2010 was a terrible unit.  They didn't take care of all of their soldiers, only the ones from Nebraska, they degrade, humiliated and kept information for the leading soldiers and to cover their butts they threw Chris under the bus.  The unit he was looking at promised to be no better and possibly worse, but we were running out of options.  So Chris put out feelers and I started praying.  I knew there had to be something different than deployment for us.

The day Chris was getting ready to sign the papers to transfer him to the deploying unit, actually the moment before he was going to sign the papers, his phone rang.  It was Boeing requesting a second interview but for a different position.  They set up the interview time and date in a week and the Unit Administator (who was also the Commander as luck would have it) agree to hold his transfer papers until he knew what was happening.  One week later, Chris went in to interview and after waiting patiently for a short time was given an offer to work for Boeing!  They even paid for us to move, they hired the movers and paid for our temporary lodging.   I spent 2010 praying that God would send Chris the right job, the one He wanted Chris to have and one that would realize Chris' leadership skills and where he would love his job and have an opportunity to move up the ladder.  Boeing has proven to be that and more.  So we knew then we were moving, to Washington and we were excited.  We'd talked about it before the second interview.   Yes, we worried a bit about the girls and especially Elizabeth but I also knew God would have a plan for her too and it would all work out.

Monday, March 21st the movers arrived and began packing up our house.  You don't realize how much stuff you have until you are packing it up.   Tuesday they loaded up the moving truck with the gray Plymouth Acclaim as well and we headed to our hotel.  We met with friends, we had dinner with all of our friends and family one last time and at 5 a.m. Wednesday, March 23rd we drove out of Wichita, KS and headed towards a new adventure.

After a short but nice visit with Chris' mom, Mary  in Nampa, Idaho Chris, Elizabeth, Beka and I all drove to Everett and found a nice place to stay.  We met with an apartment hunter and found our current apartment complex.  While it's not always perfect, it is a cozy little place and it fit into our budget nicely while Chris was getting established in his job and learned the ins and outs of inspection.

The nice thing about Chris' experiences at Cessna is that it has made learning the job at Boeing fairly streamlined for him.  While they have different lingo and some different systems the principal is still the same so he's picked up the tasks he needs to do rather quickly.   Which has been nice, but he has to deal with some changes, as do all of us in our family these days.

Elizabeth seems to struggle the most.  She had a tough time getting adjusted to her new school and an even tougher time making friends.  After a lot of talking and praying we decided it was time to bite the bullet and to home school her and Rebekah.  Washington is not at the bottom of the list but after living in Wichita, which is ranked number 9 Nation wide for academics, Washington had a tough time living up to our expectations - they are ranked number 19 and their special needs program isn't what we were used to in Wichita.  Add learning a different system and Elizabeth never having moved before and it was just time.  We'd discussed it before but if we had stayed in Wichita, we would have started home schooling her in middle school, this just bumped me up a few years.  So this year we are intermixing 3rd grade and 4th grade and next year we'll do all 4th grade curriculum.  It might be a small step backwards, but I want her to know her stuff before I move forward.

2011 has been a year of changes for our family, but also a year of new adventures.  We've enjoyed having our family come and visit us (Mary, Mom & Bud) and getting to show them around the area.  We've enjoyed finding our current church home, and making new friends.  While it's going to take us a while to learn all of the ins and outs of being in Washington, we are willing to learn and willing to explore and find new things out.

I hope you all have a good week.
Merry Christmas
The Koeppel Family.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Survived Being Bullied

These days I have a very nice life.  I have a wonderful husband and three beautiful children and I enjoy being in church and helping out.  What most people don't know is that in middle school and ninth grade, I was bullied. 

I was the odd girl going into middle school. My mom had been married to an abusive man and he was not nice to us and I didn't know how to handle it and had a vivid imagination and I loved to sing.  All of those things and a penchant for talking made me a social pariah.  

I hated middle school.  I would walk down the halls and boys would bark at me, I was told by fellow students that if I looked in the mirror it would break.  One boy's favorite thing to do was kick my knees from behind me causing me to fall and my books to scatter everywhere.  The girls weren't a lot better, they made rude remarks about how I dressed and looked. 

I was 12 years old, in a single parent family, we were broke, I had those terrible huge Clark Kent sized glasses from the 80's and braces and to add insult to injury my well meaning mom kept giving me perms so I looked like a poodle on crack.  I was awkward and gauky and I hated everything about myself.  It was so bad by the end of 9th grade that my mom and her best friend had come up with a plan to get me out of there.  

Mom had finished her Master's Degree in Chapter One Reading (YEAH MOM!) and she and her best friend, Ginny had decided they'd pay for private school anything to get me out of the school system I was in at the time.  I was depressed, tired of the crap and suicidal. 

But there were two things that helped save me; books and music.  I discovered a love of books early on, but I really got lost in books in middle school.  I became friends with the librarians at school and after while they'd see me and help me find a new book or they'd set one behind the counter for me that they thought I would enjoy.  Music was an outlet and a way to be someone other than an awkward girl who didn't fit in.  When I sang I was someone, something and I could do something that not everyone else could. 

My mom did get a job and we did get to move and I still loved books and music.  I even became friends with the librarians in my new high school too, but I was able to make new friends.  No one knew me and no one knew anything about who I had been and we kept it that way.  And by college I realized something.  I love to sing, but I didn't want my voice to define who I was as a person.  Until then I'd been the girl with the amazing voice, I wanted to be a different person who still sang but I did it on my terms and it wasn't how others would see me. 

If you are being bullied in high school, middle school or elementary school know that you are not alone.  There are other kids who are bullied just like you and that people care.  Tell someone, if they don't listen keep telling until it stops, and know that the people who are bullying you are more than likely being bullied too, maybe by another kid or a parent or an adult in their life.  You don't have to feel badly about who you are, it isn't really your problem, the things they are saying aren't really true, they just say what they think will hurt you.  If you are being cyber bullied, report it to the website - that is considered an offense and a lot of states are starting to crack down on cyber bullies.   

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

YES!!!!

Earlier I was writing about how I felt deflated after reading Elizabeth's Re-evaluation.  That is no longer the case because I discovered today that the little turkeys who made her life miserable when we first moved here have moved out of our complex. 

These children were the ring leaders behind the other kids seeking out Elizabeth and Rebekah, the oldest daughter encouraged a boy to molest two girls in our complex, they wrote terrible things in graffiti on the playground about the girls - things I can't repeat because a lady doesn't say those kinds of things.  Not to mention some of them were very graphic.   So now we just have to pray that God sends a nice family with nice children in to the unit they were occupying. 

On a more upbeat note, the Union at Boeing has been working quietly to extend the current contract the workers have already in place.  This would include a sign on bonus as well as a small raise in health insurance, but we'd keep what we have, which really is good insurance and we are all covered not just a few of us.  Also Chris is being looked at as a choice for a manager position.  He is working hard to finish up his Bachelor's degree and then plans to go on to graduate school.  He wants a Master's in Divinity and to become a Reservist Chaplain.  The nice part of this is two fold.  First, he no longer carries a weapon and second, because he's already seen combat, he won't be leaving the post if he were to ever deploy again.  Thankfully, it appears that another deployment is not in our future because we are withdrawing our troops out of Iraq and plan to begin removing them from Afghanistan soon.   This means that deployments may not be an occurrence for our family again, but that is not the case for our Active Duty servicemen and women - so please continue to pray for them. 

Also after paying off our minivan in 2009 we should have received the title, should have, but didn't.  We didn't discover this until after we moved from Kansas to Washington - so after months and months of back and forth, we finally received our title for the minivan.  And on Wednesday I was able to get the minivan it's Washington tags!!!  This is huge for us, we've been relying on Mom's old Plymouth Acclaim (thank you Mom for selling it to us by the way) and it's gotten Chris to and from work and taken me to do grocery shopping, etc. . . but it is on it's last legs, so having the minivan is wonderful.  It will still get Chris to drill weekend and to and from work on the weekends or Wednesday evening so I can attend Praise and Worship team practice.  It's nice to know that when Chris drives to work now he is in a car with good brakes, and that I don't have to worry will die on him on his way to or from work most days. 

So those are our little blessings.  We did receive Elizabeth's official copy of her re-evaluation.  Yes, it did kind of deflate me a little bit, but we are working and making progress and she is learning AND I found the Home school Association today so we'll be looking into that this next week.  It even offers enrichment classes.  So I look forward to seeing Elizabeth and Rebekah do some of those classes with other children. 

I hope you all have a good week. 
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Importance of Magnet School

In Wichita, they have a program for schools called Magnet Schools.  Some places have these as well, and call them Charter Schools.  The premise behind these schools is that they are designed to have a smaller student to teacher ratio to give students more hands on education.

Elizabeth had the privelege and joy of attending Samuel S. Spaght  Elementary School.  When she began attending it was a Gifted Magnet and their motto was "All children are gifted."   A year or so later it became a Mutlimedia Magnet which taught children how to use computers, cameras, and various forms of media to improve their education experience.  The kids thrived at this school.  Elizabeth thrived at this school.

Our neighborhood school was Irving Elementary and while the traffic might not have seemed bad to some people I found it horrifying.  We lived between two one way streets and more often than not, there were drag races and police chases all in the vicinity of that school and the residents who lived around it.  It also had a high sexual predator/offender ratio as well, and most of them lived within the unacceptable radius of Irving.  But probably the biggest concern I had about the school is that Sarah, our oldest daughter attend it and was bullied and excluded a lot.  She was one of a few white students in a school that was mostly Hispanic.  The students found reasons to make her feel like crap, they left her out during recess and often switched to speaking Spanish when she was around in an effort to exclude her.  This went on until she finally admitted it to me and told me about some of the things going on.  She talked to the teacher, she did all of the things I asked her to try first and it wasn't until I went to the school and threaten legal action that the problem was resolved.   Worse, the student to teacher ratio at Irving and most neighborhood schools in any area is over 30 students to 1 teacher and possibly a teacher's aide if they are lucky.

Our children need smaller classrooms, they need a lot of things and I know that our country is in an economic downward spiral, but that is our fault.  We are the ones who chose to live well outside what we earned, we made the choices that are affecting our country and world economy and not our children.  Why is their education suffering because of our mistakes?

Why is it education is always the first thing to go on the chopping block when the money gets tight?  That's a disgrace to us, to our country, to our government leaders.

Now a school in Wichita, Woodland Elementary School is on the chopping block.  The school has been a part of the community for ages and without it, students wouldn't learn about ways to stay healthy, have good physical fitness and learn new and exciting things while getting their formal education as well.   Please help fight this and keep this school from closing.  Our children need it and without it most of them will be forced back into a school their parents didn't want for them in the first place.  Please sign this petition to help keep this school open.

https://www.change.org/petitions/usd-259-wichita-public-school-district-stop-the-proposed-closing-of-woodland-health-and-wellness-elementary-school

Thank you, even if you don't live in the area, let the school board know that education is still important to all of us.


Sincerely,
Maureen Koeppel a former Wichita, KS resident

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Will You Do This Christmas to Help?

As a child growing up without a dad I spent a lot of Christmas' wondering if we'd have presents.  Not because my Grandma and Grandpa's Taylor and Schultz didn't make sure we had something but because my mom was pretty broke.  After divorcing a mentally ill and abusive man to save us children and herself, money was extremely tight.  I'm sure my mom spent many years working for her friend Ginny so we could have something under the Christmas tree.  I've often wondered if there were years when Ginny just bought the stuff and gave it to Mom to make sure we had something. My aunts and uncle in Missouri always sent something and so did Grandma Schultz and Olen so we didn't go without and so they'd know they were thinking of us.  Even if we didn't get to see them as often as we all would have liked.  

My mom loves us very much and she worked hard to make sure she made us stuff or had something for us under the tree, but there were also several Christmas' where she just couldn't make ends meet right. One year a couple who lived across the street from us must have known somehow that it was going to be slim pickings for Christmas because Mom was in college working on her Master's Degree in Chapter One Reading and they came over with arm loads of presents.  My aunts and uncle in Missouri always sent something and so did Grandma Schultz and Olen so we didn't go without and so they'd know they were thinking of us. 

One year a church group showed up with a month's supply of food.  Interestingly enough we had just gone shopping with our food stamps and yet we still had room for the food they brought over.  My mom did a great job making sure we didn't feel like we were going without.  At least I never felt like we were going without.  I knew we didn't have enough cash to do the things the kids at school did, and while it probably should have bothered me, it didn't.  It wasn't until I was older that it bothered me when people would open loads of presents and we usually had one gift and that was it.  While I tried not to let it get to me, it dd bother me a little bit.  I didn't understand how it was that some people got so many presents while others went without. 

This season there are a lot of children living with very little, much like my family when I was young and our family last year while Chris was unemployed.  Many families are becoming homeless or the children are in foster care because the parents can no longer provide for them and give them food, clothing and shelter, much less a Christmas.  A great foundation that helps these families and these children is Bethel Foundation in Oklahoma City, OK.   This year they have over 2,000 families struggling and in need and they need us to help them.  I know some of you are reading this and wondering what you can do, but trust me when I tell you that even the little bit you can donate or offer to do for Bethel will help.  You have a chance to make a difference and to make a child's Christmas.  So please dig deep in your heart and listen for God's voice.  Make a difference, help change a child's Christmas.

In Christ,
Maureen Myers Koeppel

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Counting Blessings


Thanksgiving. . . it's the time of year when we all cook our turkeys, eat copious amounts of stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, and whatever assorted goodies our families make for us all to enjoy.  It is also a time when we all begin to talk about what we are grateful for in our lives.

This year the Koeppel house has more to be grateful for than usual.  At this time last year we had just gone on food stamps to help us make ends meet and had asked for medical assistance for Sarah, Elizabeth, and Rebekah and had begun filing for disability for Elizabeth.  It was a year of humiliation, worry, stress and swallowing our pride.  Even when things had been tight before we'd always managed on our own or with a little help from Mom.  This time we needed lots of help, we needed more help than our parents could give us and we had stopped making our mortgage payments because we couldn't afford the $600 a month we needed to pay AND pay for our other bills too.  We even applied for LEAP that year.  Filling out all of those forms, walking into the Government Assistance Building was humiliating, heart breaking, and pride buckling.  Christmas that year was rather sparse and small and even though our girls never complained, Chris and I felt it.  There were no aces up our sleeves, no magical miracle to get the girls some amazing gift.  We couldn't even afford the normal Christmas pajamas that are a tradition in our house. 

Thankfully, my mom and Bud bought the pajamas and loads of books for the girls, they made sure that Christmas was a good one for the girls and Sarah's mom made sure her Christmas wasn't bleak, but it was tough.  I understand now how my mom must have felt all of those years when she didn't have the money to give us a big Christmas at all and our neighbors across the street realized it and went a little crazy.  That year they bought all three of us some amazing presents, and I got jewelry from them too.  It was wonderful for us, but I'm sure on some level it must have been very hard on Mom to see others doing for us what she couldn't afford to do. 

But this year Chris has a job, we have a roof over our head, we live in Washington and have been able to make friends with a lot of wonderful people in our church and in the area, we were able to send Sarah to visit her mom for her birthday and Christmas., we have our turkey, potatoes, yams, stuffing, and friends coming over to join us.  It's been a good year this year.  God knew we needed the time in the desert to remember the lessons we had both learned growing up in poor homes that it's not about money, it's about family, being grateful for what blessings God gives you and knowing that His grace really is sufficient to carry you through all of the hard times.  This year I am so glad that Chris found a job in a company that recognizes in him all of the wonderful leadership abilities I've known he's had for year and that the Army Reserves has seen and cultivated in him. 

When Chris was unemployed and we were praying that God help him find a job, my biggest prayer was that God would not only provide him a job that would help him provide for our family but that he find a job that would allow him to grow and move up the ladder as well are recognize his talents and that Chris would really enjoy.  He found that.  So as 2010 ended we were feeling a little hopeless, but as 2011 came in we suddenly felt that God has something planned for us.  By early February Chris was hired by Boeing, which meant he didn't have to deploy with a unit who would have been as terrible as the unit he had been deployed with in 2009  (they were terrible and treated their soldiers terribly).  True, we had to leave all of our friends and family behind in Wichita, but God has opened a lot of doors for us here in Everett and introduced us to different people, places and things. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for?  What do you feel has been your biggest blessing this year from God?  I hope you all have a good weekend.

In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who is Your Hero

  I have a hero. . . she may not seem like one when you pass her on the street, but she is amazing.  My hero is my mom.  She raised three children by herself after Dad died while she was pregnant with my sister Meg and Matt was just a toddler.  She could have collapsed and drown in her own sorrow, but instead she opted to work hard and make sure that we grew up relatively happy and emotionally healthy.

Yeah, she made some mistakes along the way, but being a parent isn't about being perfect, it's about doing the best you can to raise your children and pray that you've done a good job and they'll make good choices as they grow up.   She fought for us when we needed her.  Let me tell you I am glad I wasn't the jerk doctor who tried to write Matt off while Mom was ripping into him in front of his colleagues, or the counselors at my high school when she let them know that my being sexually harassed was unacceptable and she wasn't going to go away until they fixed it.

She did her best to make sure that we knew she loved us.  She snuggled us, she left an abusive second husband to save us, she even faced Christmas for us.  It may not seem like a big deal, but after Dad was gone, Christmas wasn't the same for her, but until we were older, we didn't know it.  She always made sure we had a good Christmas, even if it was small.  She went without often - she had holey socks for years (she even developed a sock obsession after funding wasn't so tight) and went without so we could have what we needed.

I don't think she realizes how awesome she is sometimes, but she should because we wouldn't be here today if not for Mom and her unfailing love and desire to want only what was in God's will for our lives and what He wanted for us.

I love you and I am so glad you are my Mom.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Great Cootie War!!!

This unhappy looking Elizabeth is the latest casualty in what I am declaring to be "The Great Cootie War!"  This is the second time in four months we've been infested.  And I'll be honest, right now I'm thinking lice might be too high a price to pay to serve God.  Of course, that is how I feel so far today.  How I'll feel tomorrow may be a different matter entirely.  

We became drawn into The Great Cootie War because I work with the youth in our church and it's an ongoing problem. At this point Chris is about ready to ask me to quit.  In his defense, Chris is the one who had to console Elizabeth and Beka when he shaved their hair off.  Beka was much less distressed, but Elizabeth was distraught over it and he had to console her.  Adding insult to injury, the kids on our complex made fun of her A LOT!!!   They made and are still working on making her life miserable and call her a boy.  

So you can imagine everyone  else's  displeasure when I found lice crawling in Beka's head.   Everyone and I do mean everyone got up and let me treat them for lice.  Chris even underwent a head treatment.  Here is the biggest and most aggravating part of all of this.

Sarah leaves on Thursday to visit her mom, Kate.  Kate's mom hasn't been doing well for a while and it is highly possible that Sarah may have to attend a funeral while spending seven weeks visiting for her favorite Grandma Alice (she's her only Grandma Alice of course, hence she's the favorite) and Kate is already stressed out beyond belief.  She is running her mom to appointments, taking care of her own two children and working a full time job.  The last thing Kate needs is to worry about lice.  So now I make Sarah sit down and I go through her hair every single morning no matter how much she protests.  It already took me several months to get through all of Sarah's hair and remove EVERY SINGLE NIT!  It took months of treating her hair and making her sit through me picking through her hair to finally get it all gone.  By the time we got it all gone, it comes back into the house.  As you can tell by this blog, I am less than thrilled by this newest infestation! 

I think what makes me the maddest though is the mom of  the kids refuses to do anything about it.  The dad has gotten rid of it several times, but she tells the kids they are on their own (at least this is the story I've been told).  And in Washington, they no longer check a child for head lice AND send them home!  They send them back into the school room to continue infecting other children?!  Heaven only knows why they came up with this plan but it is a less than stellar one.  As a parent I would be irate to discover that the school knew a child had head lice and didn't send them home and not allow them back until it is gone.  Lice is a parasite and if left untreated can make a person very ill, but as long as we don't hurt some one's feeling, then by all means, what's a little head lice! 

Okay enough kvetching.  I hope you all have a good week.  I am going to bake a few batches of cookies and start supper and we are treating Sarah's head tomorrow with the may treatment, or maybe I'll do it tonight to get it done and over with. 

In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One Year!


Time flies quickly.   One year ago in November 2010, we were broke, Chris was unemployed and I was worried that Elizabeth would never make the progress we needed her to make in reading. 
It was a valid concern, she was in 3rd grade and could barely recognize the 1st grade sight words.  I had a million concerns.

What if Elizabeth never picked up reading?  Would we spend the rest of our lives reading for her?  How would we be able to help her fill out job applications?  How would she make a living if she couldn't read?  A thousand  concerns and a million questions and no answers. 

We were working on her sight words, working and working and Thanksgiving vacation came.  We were spending some quality time as a family at home when Elizabeth announced she needed to work on her sight words.  She went and grabbed them out of the box I kept them in and started going through them with no problems.  She only messed up on TWO WORDS!!! 

Chris and I sat there speechless for a few minutes and I suddenly began to cry.  She came to me and I hugged her and had to tell her, "Elizabeth you are reading!  Mommy is so proud of you!"  I cried off and on all day because I was so overjoyed.  Oh and she brought me a note right after from her teacher, Mrs. Silveous.  The note said she thought that Elizabeth wasn't going to wait until 6 months after her birthday she thought it was going to start making the connection soon.  Boy was she right.  I called her and had to tell her. 

It has been almost one year since I went on Facebook and happily typed in bold upper case letter,  ELIZABETH IS READING, ELIZABETH IS READING!  Even now I still get teary just thinking about it.   As a mom I am proud of all three of my daughters, they have each brought me so much joy.  Sarah has grown and matured into an amazing young woman.  She is smart, kind and compassionate and very thoughtful.  Beka is cute, smart, and quick as a whip.  She will learn very fast and do well in school.  Elizabeth has brought me joy by growing and making so much progress.   I couldn't be prouder of her.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. 
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Little Bit of Everything.

Finally, it has arrived!   I finally have all of the pieces for Saxon Math 3rd grade.  While Elizabeth is very strong in Math, she struggles with the language Saxon uses so I felt that it was a good idea to take a step back and ensure she has a good solid base.  

I also like that Saxon Math reinforces the numbered days in a week, months in a year and how to write a number sentence.  What is a number sentence?  Yeah, I had to google it myself to figure it out.  Growing up in school, they said, write a problem that uses this number as an answer or other various ways, so I wasn't quite familiar with a number sentence.  I hear the word sentence and I think use words, not numbers to create a sentence, so it's going to be a little interesting as we both learn how to navigate these new waters in Math.

So this is what I know for certain, Lizzie is very good with clocks.  However, she is not familiar with terms such as half past, quarter til, quarter past.  These are areas we are going to work on, language is a delayed area for her and the beauty of home school is I can accelerate or slow down as needed to fit Elizabeth's needs.  If she is thoroughly confident and doing well with telling time, I can skip over that portion and work on learning how to count change.  I can take time to help her learn the language of learning about word problems.  I have to be honest, word problems are the bane of my existence, I really really hate them.  Which you wouldn't think would be the case since I love the written word.

Math has always been a weaker area for me.  It changes too often and it isn't as simple are reading a book and figuring it out.  It usually involves things that are like learning a foreign language to me.  So it's going to be interesting to see how this works.  Thank goodness I am not being graded on it, and I can work with Elizabeth. 

The rest of school is going well, there are little tricks I learned or taught myself to help me growing up and now I get to pass them on and hopefully use them to help Elizabeth. 

I also had a nice chat with the former school psychologist from Madison.  She's moving on and dropped of the last paper work.  It wasn't anything she said out right, it's the little things she didn't say that let me know that the school is concerned about how is Elizabeth going to get the socialization she needs now that we home school.  Apparently they have concerns, great, I have concerns about their school district meeting the needs of my daughter.   I would love to sit down with the school board and discuss raising the standard of education for the students in Everett and starting a magnet school program so that the children whose parents are more involved can have alternatives to what is being offered.  Plus I don't think it's good for Elizabeth to always be the one that the kids see as the weakest link. 

At Sam S. Spaght Elementary, Elizabeth had friends who would stand up for her when some children would pick on her.  Here she is adrift and lost in a sea of children in a school that has too many students per classroom.  While the teachers are all very nice (at least the ones I've met), my heart and gut both told me by the end of summer that the time had come to start home school.  I know Elizabeth, I know how she works, thinks, functions and responds to different stimulus.  So it makes sense that I should be the one to help her.  We have church, she is in Camp Fire Girls, and we are looking into an ROTC program for her.  The ROTC program is like military for children, so it's not as rigid as the Army, but it would provide a structured setting for her and an environment for her to meet other children.  It's $10 a month and I believe they meet once a week. so I'll schedule our commissary visits around her drill time.  So it isn't as if I haven't contemplated all of those things.  How does it benefit her to attend a school with the same children who bully her here at the apartment complex?  It really has become like a pack of wild animals.  They find the weakest link and go after it.  It's terrible and I can't wait for next October so we can move.

I hope you all have a good week. Sorry it's a negative blog, I'm frustrated with the poor education system here, I'm frustrated that other people don't bother to teach their children to be kind to others.  More importantly, I'm frustrated that it came to this.

In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NAKED!!!!!

NAKED!!!  Yes you read correctly.  A parent on MyAutismTeam.com asked the question if their child was the only public nudist?  The answer is no.  Elizabeth has finally found modesty, but not before years of striping anywhere and everywhere.

At first, it was cute.  She was small, so what was the harm.  Until the day she embarrassed me to the point of mortification at McDonald's.  Chris was deployed and Elizabeth was 3 years old at the time.  We were attempting (rather unsuccessfully I might add) to potty train her, so she wore pull ups.   It was a normal day, I didn't expect anything to happen.  Elizabeth was playing and running some of the ants out of her pants.  I was chatting with a friend when I heard chuckling.  I looked over and it took a few moments for my brain to realize that there was something coming down the slide.  Suddenly it began to register!  It was Elizabeth NAKED running down the slide.  And I mean naked, not pull up, no dress, nothing!!!  And to make it worse, she has yellow undertones in her skin and so she blended in to the slide a little bit.  I was horrified and thankfully prepared for a pull up change.  My friend sent one of her kids up to find the missing clothing (A sundress that was weather appropriate since it was summer) and the missing pull-up.  Everyone, but myself was laughing.  I was mortified.   I didn't go back there for a while.

While it may not seem embarrassing for you,  it was embarrassing for me, and my friend was laughing until she almost cried, until her own daughter did it later.  As time went on, I did return to McDonald's but Elizabeth also stripped still, just not there.  There were certain things we knew would mean stripping.  Bedtime - she'd strip.  It rained outside, she stripped.  Bath water running, yup you guessed it, she stripped.  She surprised more than one unsuspecting person during a shower (sorry Grandpa Ted!) or a bath (Sorry, Daddy).  If water was running, clothing was optional for her.   But probably the most humorous event was after she discovered the joys of Disney's Tarzan.  Elizabeth would strip down to her panties (or sometimes less) and would give her best imitation of Tarzan.  It was cute, at home, I didn't think a lot of it, until she started school.

One day as I went into the school office to say, "hello" to the awesome Ms. Frieda another parent was there keeping Frieda company and she started chuckling.

"Elizabeth cracks me up."  I instantly wondered what on Earth she could have done now, since conversations tended to start this way for me, during those days.

"Oh?  What did she do now?"  I tried to keep the panic from my voice, but I"m pretty sure I didn't succeed.

"She was in the library today and stood on the table and did a Tarzan yell."  I stopped cold, and asked. . .

"But she kept her clothing on, right?"

You have never seen two women look so confused in your life.  So I stupidly explained AND jinxed myself.

"She never does the Tarzan yell unless she strips to her underwear."  I wasn't about to tell them that sometimes for Lizzie underwear was optional.

They both started laughing but assured me that no, she had kept her clothing on.  I should never have asked, the next day she went to the library again and this time she stripped, without the Tarzan yell!!!  

You would think by then I wouldn't be surprised at anything Elizabeth did.  But even now, I find I am pleasantly surprised by the humorous things she does - and thankfully none of them involve the removal of clothing!

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

On the Home School Front

So this week has been fairly productive.  We are getting into the groove and my goal is to finish each subject.  Some days are a little more successful than others.  My main goal is to get Elizabeth into a good routine.

My other challenge?  Getting me back into a good morning schedule with the girls.   Right now I've been struggling with going to be early and getting up early.  Sometimes there is simply not enough caffeine in Twinings Tea to wake me up.  It's sad, but I may contemplate drinking coffee soon to achieve this feat.  The fact that I am contemplating the idea of even making coffee much less making it should speak volumes.  I am a staunch tea drinker.  My Grandma Taylor would be so proud.  But I need to move into an early morning routine. 

The nice thing about home school is I have flexibility.  The bad thing about home school?  I have flexibly.  It's kind of a double edged sword.  So I think I am going to move my grocery shopping day to. . . (GASP!) Saturdays or something.  Maybe I'll make Thursday a free day and Saturday can be a school day.  At this point, I'm torn between my hatred of large overcrowded stores and wanting the girls to have a good solid education.  I actually HATE, LOATH, DESPISE, DEPLORE, DETEST and ABHOR shopping on the weekends.  I hate how crowded and grouchy everyone is, I hate not being able to find what I need.  There is a reason I shop on Thursday or Fridays.  The last time I deviated from my normal routine was during my pregnancy with Chris, when I could no longer lift things myself or drive myself w/o having contractions.  Of course, he wouldn't get up on Fridays so I could do what I needed to do, so I had to grocery shop on Saturday.  It was horrible and we both hated every single moment of it.  So you see my dilemma and how I'm torn. 

So I finally, finally got the last things I needed for Saxon Math to discover it was not what I thought it was going to be at all.  Oh well, I'm diving into Saxon Math, because honestly at this point, we just need to do more than a workbook for Math.  So come rain or shine, starting tomorrow I'll be doing Saxon Math.  On the bright side, at least I can utilize my dry erase board a little more now.  Because I never use that enough (yes, I'm being sarcastic, it's been a long day, sarcasm is necessary). 

On the Science front, we are using the science workbooks to reinforce what scientists do and that they don't always stay in a lab and wear white coats.    I want her to realize what scientists do.

TESTS:

This is an area that is proving more difficult than others.  First, Elizabeth does much better with multiple choice, memory is an obstacle for her, it has been for years now.  Even memorizing Bible verses is a challenge, rote memory is not a good idea for her because it will only serve to frustrate her and me both.  So for some of our classes tests are oral or multiple choice.  But now I need to figure out a way to teach her how to take regular tests so when she goes out in the world or attempts to go to college (assuming she does this) then she will be able to take tests like other students. 

Maybe I'm crazy for attempting this, but I know this much.  Home school is a good choice for Elizabeth, but it's also a safe environment for me to broaden her horizons more and give her some one on one.  I know part of what she loves is sitting next to me in our overstuffed chair and doing school together.  We read, we answer questions, we watch History.   Yes, we are currently watching History - The Revolution about the Revolutionary War.  It's a little more detailed than I would like, but that's okay, we discuss the highlights.  She can tell you about the basics of the Boston Tea Party now -she loves that they dressed up as Indians and tossed the tea into the sea.  We are slowly realizing that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and George Washington was the General over the entire Continental Army.

So here is where we are. . . I'm still figuring it all out, but I think we're making some progress.  It's slow and a sometimes frustrating, but I think we're making progress.  It's slow and painstaking, but I knew that going in with Elizabeth.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen



Monday, October 31, 2011

The Pond

I have a new favorite view these days.  While many things make me crazy about adjusting to a new area, one thing always seems to remain the same.  The view from my apartment dining room window always entertains  our family and we enjoy our meals everyday.

The view is quiet from my apartment.  The windows that open to the water add a nice filter for the light.  Softly the sun shines behind the tall sycamore tree whose leaves have turned yellow.  As the sun shines through the leaves even the water below it has a gorgeous yellow glow to it.

The ducks swim quietly, the seagulls glide through the air over the water completely oblivious to how beautiful their world seems to me.  The geese slowly glide into the water and head towards the island where all birds sleep that live on the pond.

Lunch time has passed, dinner is coming along and slowly I watch first one duck then another as they quickly disappear beneath the glass surface to find their meal below it's murky depths.  Sometimes if I watch long enough I see geese too begin their dive and watch as suddenly their bottoms waggle in the air while they search out their meal.  The gulls eat seamlessly and they all seem to work independently and avoid each other with signals only they know about.

As evening settles slowly over the water, it changes into a fine sheet of glass with small ripples from the birds or winds as they blow across the surface.  As I look out over the sheet of black glass I see only a few small reflections of lights from the houses across the way and other apartment buildings surrounding the lake.   In the middle the island home for the birds is the only interruption in these reflections.  

A quiet serene peace gently rests itself over the pond and the day comes to its sleepy close.  This is my view, my favorite view of any of the numerous places I have lived.  Even living in Sicily is hard pressed to compete with this beautiful view each day.  Gray weather, sunny weather, rain or shine, the pond holds a beauty that is proof the God exists and he created this breathtaking vision and all of the life in and around it.
Have a safe Halloween and a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homesick

I know they say home is where your heart is, but I have to honest.  Right now, I miss Kansas.  I've spent the majority of my life in the Midwest and being in Washington while wonderful, is not Kansas. 

I miss the colors that come with a Midwest Fall, burnt oranges, reds, browns and yellows and even some deep purples.  I look around and see some of those colors but it's mainly gray and green. Hmmm. . . There are many things we love about Washington, we love the scenery, we love our church family and the friends we are making (Miss Patty, Aunt Heather, Miss Merry Knapp, I'm talking about you guys) and I love the teens I work with, but right now I really miss Mom, Karen, and Beth and Aunt Nina and Uncle Ed.  I miss driving a short drive to see my sister and her family and my brother if I can catch him on a day off.  I still have yet to meet his girlfriend, Ferrin and I'd like to do that sometime before I die.    I miss having a house with a washing machine and dryer in my house and I miss a place where I can drive during certain times of day and not worrying.  I miss snow, real snow, not flurries, but actual feet of snow. 

While I know this phase will pass, it is here right now and I'd love nothing more than to hop in my car and drive 20 minutes and see my mom!  Yes, I'm complaining a little bit, it's what happens when you move.  Now to look at the bright side.

Moving to Washington gave me the courage to home school Elizabeth and Rebekah, we have met some wonderful people here, while I miss Sonic, there is no Sonic to call my name and a happy hour to tempt me to purchase a bad for me Diet Cherry Diet Coke.  There is Costco here, which is helpful when you have a family of five for vitamins, tp, taco seasoning, etc. . .  I am still about 30 minutes from a Commissary so my grocery bill is a little higher, but not insanely higher.  We are realizing why we don't want to live in an apartment forever.  We have a nice little apartment, it's small, but the use of space is very nice.  We get to watch the ducks and geese swim all day when we sit down to eat.  On the down side, I have to make Elizabeth sit with her back to the window so she won't stare at the aforementioned ducks and geese and neglect her school work.  :D  We got to see Whidbey Island and Pike St. Market - which is awesome and they filmed part of Sleepless in Seattle there.  There is the ocean very near us and to the East and North - we have mountains and they are gorgeous to look at - maybe it's why they have traffic issues - people get distracted by the gorgeous view.  Since the girls home school, we can now let Lizzie join Camp Fire Girls because she isn't so spent at the end of the day.  The best thing we love about being here - we are much closer to the much loved and often missed Grandma Mary in Idaho!!!!

While I miss my former home, I also am enjoying the new home, but I foresee more homesickness afflicting me as the Holidays come upon us.  Especially, since we can't decorate the outside of our apartment until 1 week before the holidays and they have to be removed 1 week afterwards.  It tends to dampen the holiday spirit a bit. 

Have a good weekend and good Sunday.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, October 28, 2011

Life Lessons

You know the hazard of being an adult is sometimes you forget the things you learned growing up.  Actually, let me clarify that, you forget how you learned the lessons while growing up.  You learned sometimes by listening to your parents and a lot of times by learning from trial and error.

Today I was informed that Elizabeth and Beka were with another child trying to break down the fence around the pond.   The gate has been padlocked closed because people from the other side have been coming over and they sometimes stay where they shouldn't be, as in, on the property here where we all live.  As I was chewing them out, Elizabeth told me she wasn't doing it, but she was sitting there while it was happening. 

I am still waiting on the pictures, but I had forgotten that I often went along with my friends, and so suffered similar consequences - i.e. grounding and getting chewed out by my mom.  The thing is, whether you are standing there watching or joining in, if you see someone breaking the law and do nothing to stop them, you are just as guilty as they are of committing a crime.  Now to explain that to my 10 year old and 4 year old.  So we have a plan now, because the boy doing these things is often in trouble.

The plan is, if they see their friend or friends doing something they know is wrong, they are to run away from them and come to me, Chris, or Sarah.  This hopefully will work, we'll be reviewing it often.   And my girls are currently on house restriction for the weekend - no playing with friends or outside for them.   You know the saddest part, they seem to play very well inside together, it's when they go outside to the outside world they don't do so well.  So that is another obstacle we need to tackle. 

I hope you all have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Roles?

I saw an interesting sitcom on Netflix.  "Til Death" is about a young newlywed couple and an older married couple.  Each couple is different, the newlywed couple are very positive and upbeat, but also learning how to live together.  The older couple fight a bit, and have a similar division of labor in their house that Chris and I share.

Chris is great about going to work, making sure he spends quality time with each of the girls, giving tons of hugs, being an attentive husband.  All of which are very important to keeping our household running smoothly.  I am kind of a jack of all trades, chauffeur, chef, nurse, Dr. Mom, therapist, cheerleader, teacher, hug and kiss giver.  I also pay the bills, take care of supper and the girls and I all clean up (okay, except Beka), Sarah and Lizzie are in charge of garbage.

The thing is, I was watching this episode and the wife literally did it all and the husband griped because he became the master of the cappuccino?  She put him in charge of the bills and had to take it back.  He kept juggling everything around and suddenly she couldn't purchase groceries, use the phone, find the channels, etc. . .  she took them back to save her sanity.

I found it rather humorous, but it also got me thinking.  What is the division of labor in your house?  Do you feel you do more than your spouse?  Does this actually bother you?  More importantly do you feel your spouse appreciates all that you do?

I know Chris definitely appreciates it all, he makes it a point to tell me how much and as often as he can.  And while labor wise at home it seems unequal, in other ways it's not unequal.  Chris is a very hard working man, and he is trying to finish college too.  He is working 40 or more hours a week (usually) more, so we can make it financially here in Washington, he goes to school full time at an online school (Grantham University) and is planning to go after his Master's Degree in Divinity when he is finished.  He also makes it a point to take Sarah at on Thursday evenings each payday, he also makes sure he spends time with Elizabeth and Rebekah AND he keeps our cars running, toilets unclogged, drain tubes in the kitchen and bathroom working right.  He makes sure he is good about watching out for me, when I am very fatigued, if I am sick he takes excellent care of me and he does his best to meet my emotional needs.   While all of this sounds like things every husband should do, it's tougher on my husband.  He is a Veteran of two deployments and has Traumatic Brain Injuries (from his first deployment) and struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He makes sure he takes his medicine regularly and that he uses his Alpha Stem Machine which helps his neurons we wire properly and he does his best to stay calm, mellow and even keeled.  He may not always succeed, but he works very hard and does a good job taking care of us.

So the next time you want to gripe, ask yourself, instead of what they don't do, what does your spouse do for you?  It may not be the everyday mundane tasks he/she does for you, but sometimes those little things that make up from small things into larger and bigger pictures.

Have a great week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Do I Read the News?

After reading three very disturbing stories about child abuse, including a Utah woman sentenced for trying to sell her 13 year old virgin daughter to a man I have to be honest.  I am asking myself, "Why do I read the news?" 

The truth is for many years I have avoided the news, usually this occurs shortly after I give birth because between hormones and the horror stories in the news these days I found it best.  I'll never forget the look on poor Chris' face when he came home from work one night to me holding Beka (who was peacefully sleeping) in my arms and sobbing.  I had read a terrible story about a group of people who were facing trial for torturing a newborn.  I won't even go into details.  Ironically, I stumbled on the article because I was working on finding a journal article for my Ethics class.   

Thankfully, he was kind and thoughtful about it.  But I am sure he wished we had a way to block all of those articles.  After all, I am the woman who while pregnant would watch the news or Lifetime Movie Network and just bawl at the terrible things people did to their children.  He finally blocked it because he knew if he didn't I might not ever recover emotionally.  He was also the sweet man who talked to my mom and a few friends who all felt the need AFTER Elizabeth's birth to share with me horror stories about abused children and he nicely asked them to stop. 

So now I am not pregnant (and it needs to remain this way until I DIE!) and yet, while I am not sobbing at these stories, I am outraged.  Who sells their daughter's virginity to an adult male?!  Who starves their teenager to 37 lbs and to the point when he cannot talk?!  Really??????

I am positive that my job as the mom to Sarah, Elizabeth and Rebekah is to protect my girls, not abuse them.  Their virginity is something to be cherished and preserved until they marry, not sell to the highest bidder and yet this is the sad, sad state our world has come to, why?  Because we have given ourselves over to sin. 


And yet, we are not the first generation or the only part of the world to fall into the trappings of sin.  Greece, Sparta, Rome, these countries all fell after giving themselves over to depravity.  We see even in the Old Testament and the New Testament how the Israelites often chose to do their own thing.  Guess what we are no better than they were then - even now we have a terrible epidemic hitting our world, HUMAN TRAFFICKING, we see women, and children (this includes girls AND boys) who are sold into slave labor or sexual slavery.  Babies are stole and sold on the black market.  We have alcoholism and drug abuse going on, and yet, all of these things are not really new to our world.  The question is this:  What are you going to do about it?  Will you give God your heart and let him rule your life?  Or will you choose to follow the crowd, because it is easier to do than go against the flow?
King David lived his life for God.  Yes he made his mistakes, but he was also willing to humble himself and ask forgiveness.  God rewarded his life richly and while he may not make us a king or queen or bless us with riches by the standards of our world, but his blessings will be with you for eternity. 

I hope you all have a good week. 
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, October 24, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog

There are times when I am silent on my blog.  It isn't from lack of material.  It is usually because I am either sick or there are things going on that I don't want to blog about since they involve the teens I work with or others and I don't want to make others look badly.  This past week was a mix of both.

I woke up Tuesday morning with a sore throat and headache - which Chris, my wonderful husband had been griping about a week before - yup I was catching it.  So I woke up and went to Elizabeth's re-evaluation meeting sipping hot tea and praying that soon I would not be too sick to home school.   Yeah, while God answers many of our prayers, apparently it wasn't in his plan to heal me this time, because I spent the rest of last week feeling like I'd been run over and barely having a voice. 

There are a lot of things going on right now that involve prayer and making some tough decisions.  So without giving details, I have to ask you all to pray for Chris as he contemplates Graduate School and there are certain situations for me right now that need to remain unspoken. 

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, October 17, 2011

Romans

My friend, the awesome and amazing Heather Morgan and I are starting to do a Bible study together on Monday nights.  As luck would have it, this week she is in the hospital, but we plan to do our Bible study via phone or maybe I will go visit her tomorrow morning.   For now our study will be Romans and fresh from the gate, Paul has some harsh words about how many people have given themselves over to depravity. 

The truth is while reading Romans 1, especially verses 24 - 32 really reminded me of our own world today.  Paul talks about how homosexuality has become acceptable, sexual depravity, not honoring parents, being faithless, ruthless and that people look down on those who do not live their lives in a similar fashion.  Does any of that ring bells for you? 

We have a society today that is ripe for the harvest.  We are called by Christ to the Great Commission.  But today it is becoming much tougher to talk to people about Christ.  Christianity is one of the last areas where it is acceptable to make fun of people.  I remember Seinfield and a character, Elaine began sleeping with a man who she later found out was a Christian.  And yet she didn't know he was a Christian until he told her?  I was not a huge Seinfield fan, but I caught that episode and thinking about it now, it has me thinking. . . do I portray Christ daily?  Do people meet me and know I am a believer in Christ? 

The truth is, if I had things my way and didn't listen to Christ, then I would not be a youth leader.  I'd live a quiet existence with my family, books, and the small things that make me happy in life.  Moving out of our comfort zone is not easy.  I've moved around, met new people, tried new things, things that were not always comfortable, but being called to lead the church youth group was very much moving me out of my comfort zone. 

I am not the most socially ept person.  I'm not being overly harsh, it's true.  I come from a family that often speaks first and thinks about it later.  The nice thing about Facebook and Twitter is you can read what you write first before you post it.  This has saved me a lot of times, and then other times, I am so frustrated or angry it doesn't matter, I blow my top.   Growing up, I was a book worm.  I loved and still love books.  Books were easy, books didn't judge you or make you feel like an idiot.  Books allowed you to explore new ideas in a safe environment - your mind.   I lived in the library, at the middle school, and in our high school to the point where the librarians and I were on a first name basis and they often held books for me that they knew I would really like.  All of these things do not always equal a great youth leader.  But, that didn't mean God didn't put a call on me to step up and help create activities for the youth.  Activities to keep them out of trouble, a safe place for them to come and hang out without worrying they might be getting into drugs, sex, and only God knows what else.

The truth is, I will never be a large church youth pastor.  I do not understand the teens who come from two parent families who don't struggle to make ends meet.  The teens I work with now are teens who are from broken homes, who struggle with low self-esteem, broken homes, battling abusive home lives even.  And these are the kids I understand, having grown up in a home with only one parent, dealing with an emotionally abusive step-dad - prepared me to help Sarah, our teens and those who are the broken.  While I sometimes get frustrated and aggravated, it is in these moments that I know I am where I am supposed to be.  I may not always be popular with the teens or my own kids, but I can live with that. 

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Home School Update

Anyone who has been reading lately, knows that we have been facing some challenges with homeschooling the girls.   Rebekah is doing splendidly, she can write her first name and this week we are tackling her last name as well as the letter Q and the number 2.

We've faced more than a few challenges though.  Curriculum that is not what it is said to be, so I've sent it back.  Then I thought I got what I needed only to find out that the Teacher's book is not there!!!  History books that aren't labeled properly AND the vendor tried to tell me that they couldn't issue a refund after they mislabeled it themselves via e-mail?!  But all of those pale when it comes to helping Elizabeth learn.

We are moving into History and I am struggling to teach her the differences between continent, country, state, and city/town.   She still thinks we are living in Wichita, Kansas, and while she can show me in her history book where the continents are, she still can't name them.  Plus she is obsessed with China right now. . . Then in Science she has been playing me a bit when it comes to her workbook.  We are currently learning about what it is and the tools used to be a scientist.  I love her to  pieces, but she's pushing the limits of decency and decorum. 

Am I giving up?  No, because I discovered a few things. First, Lizzie needs help with her memory.  So doing the Bible verses can help her with that and so can working on her Math Memory game.  Second, I really enjoy having the girls at home more than I would enjoy them going to school.  Third, I am discovering the differences between each girl's learning style.  And so I can adjust what and how I teach each of them.  Lizzie is more of a hands on girl, so on payday we'll be purchasing a puzzle of the United States and a globe so we have a more practical tool to help her. 

Okay time to go. I have chili on the stove and I'd prefer it not burn.
Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Child Care and Autism


Most parents are very particular about who they let watch their children.  When you have a child with special needs, you are even more cautious.   Elizabeth is no exception to this dilemma.

When she was little and people expected her to get into things it wasn't a big problem.  As she got older this changed.  I left my job at Royal Caribbean because I had difficulty keeping child care.  This didn't change as she got older.  Once we found a good babysitter, we hated when they went to college or became too busy to watch the girls.  A good babysitter is tough to find, but a good babysitter for Elizabeth was a God-send.   It was a bonus if they didn't try to squeeze us for more money.

So now we live in Everett, and once again we are facing  the problem - child care.   It isn't that people aren't nice, but Elizabeth requires a certain finesse.  One that Allison, Jennifer, her sister; Sarah, and her favorite Miss Heather seem to possess.  I'm sure at some point we'll find someone who is up to the challenge, but for now it's frustrating. 

So here are some of the challenges we face when it comes to Elizabeth.
1. Vivid - as in actively alive and vibrant imagination. This means there are certain TV shows, movies, books that we do not allow her read or watch.  For example:  The Boy Who Could Fly, is absolutely not on the list of approved watching, since I'd rather not require the Fire Department's assistance to get her off of a rooftop or worse yet, a trip to the hospital or morgue because she has tried to fly.
2. Impulse Control - this goes to certain other issues.   While in Florida during our vacation 2010, we visited some friends I knew as a young girl in Yukon.  They offered to take Elizabeth to the pond to see the alligator that was there.  If it had been Sarah at 10 years of age, then I would  have said yes, but Elizabeth would have wanted to go as close to the alligator as possible and would have ended up as alligator dinner.   Not that they would have let it happen on purpose, but she's quick and she doesn't always think or listen.
3. Her own lingo - even though she talks like the rest of us, there are certain things you have to understand in order to understand Elizabeth.   It used to be worse, for example: Two ponytails used to be Josie and the Pussycats, one ponytail was a Polly Pocket.  There are certain things and nuisances you have to be able to get or learn quickly.
4.  Hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound.  This becomes a problem in the evenings especially if it has been a very long day or a day with a lot of differences or changes in her day to day schedule.
 5.  Her imaginary friends - yes, it's true, she has imaginary friends still at 10 years of age.  When you are different from everyone else, lived in a neighborhood without a lot of children to play with your own age, it only stands to reason that Lizzie would have imaginary friends.   Beka has them too, although now that we home school, I foresee them dissipating with time, because they play well together. 
6. Even though she is 10 years old she doesn't often look or act that way.  She is small for her age and she really, really wants to have friends.   This means that sometimes she will agree to do things that she shouldn't and that she knows we would not let her do - so she sometimes requires extra watching.   
7.  Selective Hearing Syndrome:  Yes, many children suffer from this, but Elizabeth seems to have it down to a science.   This is especially true when she is watching TV.

So there are some of our challenges. I am sure there are other parents who have similar challenges and probably some that we don't have.  
Have a good week and God be with you.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tackling History


Today's challenge in homeschooling?  Explaining continents, countries, states, colonies, cities, and their differences.   It took a while and a lot of repeating, but we made some headway. 

I decided to keep the 1985 edition of Bob Jones University Heritage Studies because it discusses our country and the role that God has played in our country becoming a country.  So today we discussed the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and how we became 13 States.  Can you name all 13 States?  I can . . . now.  Before today's lesson, I had to Google it so I would have accurate information.  

After lunch we will tackle Science, Spelling, Reading, and of course, Beka's favorite Hooked on Phonics.  I am keeping Elizabeth in Lesson 1 because I want her to read better and not quite so stilted. Right now, reading is not her strong suit, but I have faith in God and Elizabeth that He will help her tackle this problem and conquer it. 

I am wondering about our Science bean though, it doesn't seem to be doing much changing these days.  Did I pick a bad bean?  Or do they actually roast them before you buy them as Chris suggested?
On a happy note, I am starting to do a Women's Bible Study with my friend Heather.  We are going to study the book of Romans.  And I decided to do my  own study of 1 Samuel.  I'd like to refresh my  memory of Biblical History since I am working with the girls are learning the Bible and it's history.  It is one of many reasons why I decided to home school - the freedom to teach my daughter's about Christ and remove many of the distractions I found myself fighting with Sarah and Elizabeth both.  

I am eagerly awaiting our English workbook, and Science Teacher text that I found on e-bay and I have a complete Heritage Studies kit coming but since today is Columbus Day, the mail won't be delivering today. 

I also find myself wondering if I have lost my mind.  I am no teacher, but I also know that letting Washington State be in charge of the girls schooling isn't a good option either.  I've been struggling with this decision for quite some time now - home school, don't home school?   In the end, I realized that it is better for the girls to be at home and to have me teaching.  I have a large dry erase board, we are slowly gathering supplies and resource materials, and at this rate, we'll definitely need to move into a house by next Fall so we have more room for home schooling.  I'd like to no longer pay for a storage unit and it would be nice to have a garage as well. 

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Man's Survival Guide to Pregnancy From a Woman

When I was pregnant the first time, Chris had already gone through the joys of pregnancy with Sarah's mom, Kate.  But each woman is different and I was definitely not 18 years old.  I was 26, soon to turn 27 years old and I was pretty established in who I was and years past the huge hormone mood swings that accompany adolescence.

I have several friends who are expecting babies and so I thought, I'd write a few words of wisdom down for men, so they can survive the joy ride coming with the months of hormones, sore feet, swollen ankles, and all of the other numerous joys that come with pregnancy.

1.  Repeat this phrase after me, "Yes, honey.  You're absolutely right."  No matter how insane you think your wife is being - learn this phrase and repeat it often and you will survive to see your offspring make it.

2.  DO NOT JOKE THAT YOU ARE A HORMONE HOSTAGE!  No matter how insane she seems to you, trust me, she probably seems insane to herself and the worst part is, she's powerless to stop it.  Especially if it's the first pregnancy.  I was a fairly calm, level-headed woman until I got pregnant with Elizabeth.  Suddenly I would cry at the stupidest things.  "Oh the poor kitten on the side of the road is dead."  "Oh the guy in the movie said he loves the heroine."  "Oh no, what if our baby is deformed like that baby on ER and looks like an alien?"  "Oh I have a hang nail."  All of these things would drive me into tears, frustration would set in which made it worse.  I knew it wasn't rational and I was powerless to stop the tears from flowing - which meant I cried even harder, because I was that frustrated.

3.  "Honey, you look wonderfully pregnant."  Do not tell her, "Wow, you're getting so huge!"

4.  Do not follow your wife and quack like a duck - even if it is true.  Yes, I know a man who used to do this.  This is something you can only do if your wife is sane, and has a good sense of humor that day.

5.  Do help her put on her shoes and even shave her legs for her if she can't reach them.  I know it's not fun for you, but it's worse for us.

6.  Do not share embarrassing stories about your wife.  At least not if she knows the people you are telling them too or anywhere within a 1,000 mile radius.  Doing so may or may not result in your slow and torturous death.

7.  Don't tell her you don't care what she fixes for dinner.  This isn't just during pregnancy by the way, if we are asking what you want for supper it means we are at a loss and are asking for some input.  Take the ball and run with it.

8. Don't procrastinate on putting things together.  If we have a stroller we ask you put together, do it.  Don't wait, don't give us excuses, just do it.  We are nesting and we need the peace of mind to know what is going on and that in some small way we are ready if the baby arrives early.  This goes for all baby equipment that requires assembly.

9.  If we are nesting, just help us, unless we tell you to go away.  Yes, we know we are obsessively cleaning - go with it, since once the baby arrives we will be too tired to make the house this clean. 

10.  Do not refer to being intimate with us - "Scaling Mount Everest"  Or compare it to trying to do yoga.  It's not fun for us either, and it doesn't do much to help us feel good about our expanding bellies.  And yes, my husband is guilty of this one.

11.  Do double check before getting us a craving, that a) we still want it and b) you are getting us the right thing.  This serves several purposes.  First, it means you don't buy food, we no longer want.  Second, it means you are saving money.  Third, it means you don't have to eat it, so if unless you want to eat it for us, double check.  Chris gained weight when I was pregnant with Elizabeth because he didn't double check first and would come home and be left to eat Chinese food by himself, since I suddenly couldn't stand the idea of whatever food I'd been craving the night before. This did not include chocolate by the way.

12.  Just because we craved it while pregnant does not mean we want it once we are no longer pregnant.  I can't stand KFC and yet, while pregnant with Beka  I craved it like crazy.  Suddenly I craved steak and baked potatoes, pot roast from Golden Corral, and yet, once I was no longer pregnant, I couldn't stand the idea of those things.

13. DO NOT PURCHASE A HUGE TRUCK THAT SHE HAS TO CLIMB INTO FROM MONTH 5 UNTIL THE PREGNANCY IS OVER AND HAS TO LOAD A BABY INTO!!!!!!  It's a huge pain in the butt, she may or may not enjoy it and you may or may not live to see your children grow up to go to college.

14.  Embrace that you are no longer in control and that neither is she.  While she's in the throws of labor, only go if she asks you to go, but don't go too far.   Do not crack jokes unless given permission, and do not act as if you would do it for her, when we all know that you would never really willingly go through child birth.    Help her as she struggles to let go of control of her body.  Being in labor - especially the first time, is very scary and it's hard to embrace the fact that you are not the one in control. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

AAAARRRGGGGHHHHHH!!! Home School


Beka's face pretty much sums up how I'm feeling about now.  I thought I had found what I needed for History on Amazon.com.  However, due to poor titling on their part and lack of information, I ended up with 2 Teacher's Edition Heritage Study books each from a large gap in years (1985 & 1999), a test packet for 1996 that was missing multiple tests, but a complete test key also from 1996.  I have filed return claims for each of these items and hope to find something better on ebay.com. 


Today I feel like Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day.  In a word, I am FRUSTRATED!!!!  First, Elizabeth was all over the place today.  I had a terrible time getting her to focus.  Second, After first lying to me, she finally confessed that she had her medication in her pocket.  So now I know I will have to watch her like a hawk to be sure she takes her medication like she should.   Third, I realized I needed to return these items and had to go about doing it.  Fourth, I realized that we still have a lien on our minivan.  This would be the same minivan we paid off within one year of purchasing it and so there should have been no lien at all.  Oh and I threw away our proof of registration in a burst of efficiency (thank you for that phrase, Ginny Schwarz).  Finally, after re-evaluation today (the final day by the way), Camp Fire Girls, and all of this other stuff, I could not get Elizabeth to focus so we could conclude our Science class that we had to stop this morning because she hadn't taken her medication and couldn't pay attention.

Now for the reasons I will not be moving to Australia.   I have additional supplies to help me while I await the new items I need to purchase AND I found a Heritage Studies package deal on ebay.com for much less money that I had to spend on Amazon.com.  I got to spend an awesome day with my husband, who was nice enough to not flip out when we realized that a) there was no registration in our van so we couldn't get temporary tags and b) that the lien hadn't been removed from the title, so we've been waiting for a month for our title and it was not coming.  Affordable Auto was very nice and will be fixing that very shortly ASAP so we can receive our title and I can once again shop and not worry about how I'm going to fit my groceries in a small four door Plymouth Acclaim.    So while I could scream and yell and throw a lovely temper tantrum, I choose to find the the positive things in today. 



I hope you all have a great day tomorrow. 

Love in Christ,
Maureen