Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pain in the Tooth

Today is Thursday.

I opened up the microwave today to warm up some leftover chili for lunch and sitting in the microwave, sad and all alone, was the cup of coffee that I had microwaved for myself and forgotten.

I microwaved it on Tuesday. Two days ago!

That is the kind of week it has been. I am tired! And today, especially, was rather trying. Or, rather, my anticipation of today made it rough.

Wednesdays are my long days at work, and generally feel harder than the other days I am at work. To make the day a little bit longer it ended with a training. Voluntary, but I do need to get continuing education credits from somewhere! I saw my girls for about 15 minutes on Wednesday so that was rough. Then I slept about 2 hours, from around 10 or 10:30 until 12:30, and then I was wide awake. I am suspicious that the coffee I had at the restaurant for the training was not decaf, because normally I don't have trouble sleeping like that. But I also suspect that I was anxious.

I am generally not an anxious person. And I love the verse, "and who of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Because if I ever do feel anxiety, this puts me back in my place. God is in control. I have nothing to worry about, and in fact worrying will be damaging, not helpful.

This is also one of those "mom judge" stories where I have been given a good spoonful of humility.

Today, Heidi had an appointment with a dental specialist to look at her teeth. At her previous (and first, by dental recommendation) dentist appointment they noted some significant decay. I was (still am) shocked. Both Heidi and Sophia love brushing their teeth. Like, they actually enjoy it. They love flossing, they love brushing, I have to limit the time they spend doing it.  Sophia is a Colgate model; her teeth have always been beautiful and she has always done well with brushing them. I made the same assumptions with Heidi. We brush carefully; I (usually) monitor their brushing. They aren't eating "sugary snacks" at night. They have the same diet! But Heidi's teeth are in a terrible shape. And she has never once complained.

I did find out that some of those "healthy snacks" may be culprits. I let them have a "healthy snack" if they are hungry. Sophia and Heidi both love craisins and that is often a go-to snack. Apparently raisins and craisins are just as bad as gummy fruit snacks. But, would it have mattered? Because Sophia has those same snacks and doesn't have the same dental problems. Who knows. But I tell you this: I will never ever negatively judge a parent whose kid has a lot of cavities.

I dropped off Sophia and Bethany with Danielle so that it could just be Heidi and me at the appointment today. She truly did an amazing job. She allowed them to take pictures and was saying how "easy" the x-rays were, and was even asking if the dental hygienist could take more pictures of her mouth. She loved picking out another toothbrush (Cinderella!) and really had a positive experience.

I, however, was an emotional wreck. She needs to have two pulpotomies (think pediatric root canal) on her back two lower molars, and every other single back molar needs to either have a crown or fillings. They are also going to seal the teeth. But they are estimating 4 to 6 crowns; it is difficult to be sure until they are in surgery.



As I was going over the paperwork in the front I was trying really hard not to cry in front of the staff and was failing. Partly because I was overtired. Partly because I have overwhelming mom guilt. Partly because I'm terrified that my three-year-old has to go under anesthesia.

We are going in about a month and a half to get surgery on her mouth. Lots of work all at once. I am so grateful to God for my dental insurance, which has an incredible plan and that was really the silver lining for this whole ordeal.

As scared as I am, I am surrounded by so much blessing. I have had nothing but encouragement and comfort from friends. I have been reminded about not being anxious and placing my trust in God, because the lives of my children are in his hands, from their conception to the end of their days. I have felt a weight lifted today. My dear girl. We haven't talked much about the surgery yet; at 3 I don't intend to build up her own little anxieties about it, but I know she'll handle it like a champion. If she can handle a bee sting on the eye, this girl is already braver and stronger than I am.

Playing with "smile faces" (Snapchat) at the dentist's office

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kindergarten, Week 2

Well this was an exciting week at Classical Conversations.

Sophia did well with her memory work for week one. And, Heidi is pretty well on top of it too. I think the part that amazes me the most is the Latin words; they have really learned the associations for the prepositions. This week it is conjunctions.

After the new memory work it was time for science experiments. Today they made a "magnifying glass" with a thin wire and water. They magnified small print - it was cute - and then it was time for art where they worked on "mirror images".

Then it was time for pictures! I am so glad they are doing pictures. I think I had a yearbook one year out of the seven for elementary school. Jen (director) has been asking for volunteers to put it together and I offered, so we'll see. If there isn't already other interest I may be doing that. Sophia looked adorable for her pictures. She especially picked out the dress she was wearing and her headband to go with it.

Heidi, however, was really upset that she was in the "nursery" pictures and not in the "class" pictures with Sophia. She was in my arms just sobbing because she wanted to be in the class pictures with Sophie!! Bethany did much better in the nursery today; we all worked really hard to keep her awake in the car (food, drinks, entertainment with her two sisters in the back making faces) so that she would sleep in the nursery. She did, and though it wasn't for long she was considerably less grumpy this week than she was last week when she let herself get over tired.

After pictures we reviewed the first week and second week of information, then it was lunch time! We had our picnic outside today because it was so nice (we are actually having more "summer" in September than we did in August). There were, however, a lot of wasps flying around the grassy area and one flew right in Heidi's face. Intending to swat it away, she actually swatted it into her eye and ended up with a sting RIGHT ON HER EYELID.  My poor Heidi Boo. If it wasn't for Sherri's quick thinking and plant knowledge it would have been a lot worse. Have you ever heard of planteen? It is a common weed-like plant, very likely it is in your yard. It is in most yards. And the leaf has properties that reduce swelling and help with pain.  Like, Hunger Games healing style. So Sherri found a leaf, chewed it up, and we put it on Heidi's eye. The pain was gone a lot faster after this sting, and while it swelled a tiny bit it really didn't swell much. I am amazed at how well that worked.

On the way home we stopped by Walmart for grocery pick-up (which as of last week, the Apple Valley Walmart has). I LOVE this. It is hard to really write how much I love it. I don't have to get out of my car. They are ridiculously friendly. "Do you want to see the zucchini and make sure we picked a good one out?" And if they don't have a product they substitute it for something better. It's amazing. Anyway, then home, and it was time for math work and reading work. The girls went fishing with Papa and Daddy after school (Elli, Sophia, and Heidi anyway; Bethany and I read books and made cornbread).

Hopefully bee stings are behind us. Looking forward to making more school memories together!

Pooh Bear, the other honorary classmate at CC

Mirror images are tough! 
Planteen: memorize this plant.
Playing with Daddy
Bethany has recently discovered kissing
Working diligently on extra artwork while watching Moana

Friday, September 15, 2017

First day of KINDERGARTEN!

The downside to homeschooling is that the first day of school can be somewhat anti-climactic.

Yes, you read that right. I am homeschooling. The words coming out of my mouth still surprise me and don't sound very much like me. I remember even when Sophia was born and the word homeschooling would crop up: I always liked the idea of it, but never thought I'd be able to, plus there is the ol' homeschooling reputation that is rather unfortunate and terribly inaccurate (which I have to say now, as a homeschooling mom).

I am so new to the idea of homeschooling, and it can be so counter-cultural, that I find myself always prepared to give a defense for why we are homeschooling though it probably isn't necessary. But I'll jot it down here anyway for the sake of recording things in a blog.

We chose to homeschool Sophia not because of poor curriculum in the schools, but because generally speaking a public school system is opposed to the gospel. "What, did you have some sort of weird incident in your local school with the ACLU suing a praying child?" No, nothing strange or dramatic has happened. But, truly, there is no neutrality. What I loved (still love) about the homeschooling co-op we joined (Classical Conversations), is the purpose of education is stated in their mission: To Know God and Make Him Known. Why am I educating my child? To better know and understand God and the world He has created. To learn the history of it, to learn why things work, to learn about music and experiments and grammar and math, because all of it helps us to better interact with the world that God has created for us.

There are several other advantages, too. Sophia is a tender, sweet girl. She has a very strong sense of black-and-white, right-and-wrong and is the girl who will come running into my arms when she knows she has broken a rule. She likes to have relationships made "right."  I like the environment that the homeschooling provides, where she can develop these friendships on a smaller scale. It is hard to describe in words, but it just seems like an appropriate "fit" for her right now. It makes sense. And I think it is an environment she will flourish in.

I am still very new to all of this, and we are taking it one year at a time, but we have been working through Kindergarten math since June (already into the "February" lessons) and recently started on our Reading/Writing/Phonics curriculum. I find myself most nervous about the reading part, always and still. But she is catching on so well. It is hard because they have to start with short vowel sounds, which are so difficult because they sound so similar.  She can write and recognize them all, though, and can most of the time give a sentence with a word in it that starts with a letter that I am quizzing her on.

What I am loving is watching her skill develop. She knows what "vowels" are. She can count to 100 by 10s. She can tell me what time it is on an analog clock if it is on the hour, and can write it down in digital form. The coolest part is I get to watch her grow and develop; I am witnessing her learning and progressing!

Our "First Day of School" this year was, for the purpose of formal pictures, the first day of the co-op. It is at a local church in Lakeville. She has 7 other kids in her class. Bethany is in childcare that is provided upstairs in the building, and Heidi is able to sit in the class with her.  The co-op really is quite exciting. They start off with a group assembly time, announcements, and Bible memory together (John 1:1-7, English AND Latin). After announcements we break off into our individual classes. First comes memory work in the topics of math, grammar, history, georgraphy, science, and Latin. Then they did a science experiment. This week it was observational science, making a picture and having it appear to "wink" at you. Then after science was art, there they practiced drawing and different times of lines that make up drawings. Then presentations, and review.

The presentations threw me off. I'll go ahead and admit I was unprepared for that. I knew there were family presentations and ours is not until November. I did not realize there were weekly presentations. #MomFail. But, Sophia handled it like a champ, better than I was expecting, especially considering she had no notice beforehand. She stood in front of the classroom, looked confident, didn't cover her face her play with her hair, and answered questions gracefully. And, now I found the weekly presentation topics in the CC folder and can prepare Sophia ahead of time. I am so proud of my Kindergartner.

Heidi loved being part of what the "big kids" are doing. She basically tried to run the classroom. She was also somewhat taken aback that she did not have a presentation time.  I think rather than waiting a couple of years I might put Heidi in it next year; she is doing the memory work right on par with Sophia and Elli, and has the names of the ships that Columbus sailed to the Caribbean memorized already.

We are going to take school one year at a time. Who knows, homeschool may not work for us past the next year or two, or maybe we'll continue it through junior high or even high school. But for now, I am enjoying this curriculum and the extra time spent with my daughter, and moving at her pace through school work.

Monday, September 11, 2017

First Birthday (Party)!

Bethany turned one almost 3 weeks before her birthday party but we wanted to wait until Daddy was home to celebrate. I also wanted to have a birthday celebration before Christmas... so I planned her party on Thursday to have it on this Saturday. I'm definitely getting better at the "let-it-go-last-minute-planning-it-doesn't-have-to-be-a-perfect-Pinterest-party" kind of thinking. Kind of.

What was really awesome was when I sent out the Facebook invite (not even real invites - I'm really letting go!) I had two people contact me and ask how they could help.  Made the party planning even easier! Sherri brought a salad and Erica took care of the desserts! She brought over the cupcakes and frosting and we frosted them right before - you can tell which ones are Erica's (the cute ones, mostly pink) and which ones are mine (super sloppy yellow). The good news is they all tasted wonderful.

I hadn't really thought of much of a theme, either. But we generally did "girl, princess, Disney" themed. Seems appropriate. On the day of the party, Chris was out shopping and asked if I needed anything. I asked him to pick up a balloon. He is awesome, and came home with two beautiful balloons (a giant Mickey Mouse head and a Minnie Mouse heart shaped with a "1" on it), glow sticks, and blowers for the kids to play with. AND a lovely Happy 1st Birthday Disney Princess banner. This is why I have him. That, and he had started smoking the pork shoulders the night before at midnight or so so they were ready for our get-together the next day. 

So, really, I didn't do much but pick up buns, potato chips, and disposable plates and silverware. We had such a fun time! We did our 5/3/1/ pictures that morning (Sophia 5, Heidi 3, Bethany 1) so she slept pretty well and woke up just in time for her party to start. I did embroider a onesie with Happy Birthday Bethany 1 on it, to go with a cute gold tutu, and she was all set to go. I also got an adorable flower headband that she kept on her head for all of 5 minutes. Oh well. 

It was a nice, relaxing evening. The young age birthday parties are a lot of fun - really nothing more than an excuse to have friends over, and watch a baby make a giant mess of cake.

Happy Birthday, my sweet, beautiful, older-than-my-age-no-really-I-can-do-it, 1 year old girl. We love you, and are so excited to see what God does in your life. More than anything, my prayer for you is your dependence on Him, and whatever you do in life may you do it to the glory of the one who made you.

Friday, September 8, 2017

All the Family!

This will be a long post because I'm doing a lot of catch-up. Which you may have noticed already because I've been posting an awful lot today.

The day after Sophia's school orientation, my parents came into town. They landed Wednesday night around midnight, well after the girls were asleep, and my good friend (very graciously!) offered to bring them to my house from the airport (she has a newborn, and told me he has been keeping her up anyway at this time!). Of course, Thursday morning Bethany decided around 4:45 that it was time to be awake and that was that. So she was up. I went downstairs with her, brought her a snack, turned on Moana on Netflix, closed the doors in the room and tried to catch a little bit more sleep.  When everyone else got up, we decided to hit the Minnesota State Fair!

It was harder to be there this year for Nana because pretty much everything fried (which is pretty much everything at the state fair) is off-limits because she is gluten free now. But there was some food that was safe to eat, we managed to find it here and there.  Hands down, the girls' favorite part was the butterfly cage. They went in with Papa, because that's a big NO for me. (Yes, I don't like butterflies either - they are beetles with large wings, I do NOT get the appeal). They thought it was so fun to feed the butterflies and Heidi still talks about the butterfly landing on Papa's hat. We did the family farm, which is my favorite part, and the girls picked out fruit snacks from the "grocery store".

Bethany has been up on the skills this week. She learned how to climb up the tall furniture, chairs and couches, which previously have been a safe zone. Now I won't be able to leave her alone in a room, especially with the blue chairs upstairs because she likes to chair hop from chair to chair.

Heidi picked up some cool dance moves. Not sure where she saw it but at the end of a movie we were watching, the end credits came on with a song. It is pretty typical for Heidi to dance when she hears the end credits song, but this time she was boogying away and then would freeze, and point at us with one hand and have the other hand behind her head. It was hilarious. I have it on video but I can't share the video on the blog. You'll have to ask me if you want to see it.

Of course, the other favorite thing, we went to the apple orchard (Sponsel's Minnesota Harvest, our favorite) and right across the street to the Biggest Candy Store in Minnesota which has even expanded now so it is LARGER. I was quite overwhelmed. They LOVE apple picking. The animals were even out, so we saw some goats, ponies, sheep... But the best part is all the apples. We even found some gluten free soft licorice (shaped like scottie dogs!) at the candy store.

We hit up the zoo as well. It was just the ladies, Papa and other Papa were working on tiles in the basement when we went to the zoo. We all coordinated our outfits - red, white and blue for all. The girls loved the farm and we practically had to drag them away from the goats. The splash pad was a lot of fun too but the best part was the cotton candy. Sophia and Heidi love cotton candy but Bethany was a little weirded out by the texture (like, why are you feeding me fabric??) but Nana kind of forced a bit into her mouth. After that first bite she was approaching us with her mouth open and tongue out asking for more.

Daddy came home on Monday evening!! The girls were (are) so excited to have Daddy back. On Tuesday we had some dentist appointments right away in the morning. Sophia did great; she loves the dentist. In the last 6 months, she has grown in 3 of her 4 6-year-old molars, and the 4th is coming in, and didn't once complain. I had no idea. Heidi was incredibly unsure of the dentist, pretty much on my lap and refusing to do anything even after watching Sophia. Eventually I coaxed her onto the chair sitting on my lap. The hygienist was great; but turns out she has such a bad hole in the very back molar she has to get basically a pediatric root canal. This is perhaps something that makes me feel like the worst parent ever. I can't believe how the back tooth looked up close, and I feel like we have taken the same steps we have with Sophia's teeth. I was shocked, I am shocked. I'm not looking forward to making that appointment.

Anyway, after that awful news, we went to the Mall of America and Ikea. The girls LOVE Ikea, and we had a good lunch there (did you know kids eat free there on Tuesdays? That was a nice bonus). We picked up the mug hanging decor for the kitchen, and then to the MOA. There was a "drawing lesson" at the Disney store which was just too cute. One poor girl there was having a bit of a rough time because her Judy Hopps didn't look exactly like the drawing on the board... but overall it was a fun experience! And, of course, the dolly store (American Girl). Bethany has really started to get into the Bitty Babies and was carrying one all around the store. I am glad - gives us something to look forward to for her second birthday! Last, but not least, Pacuigo, the favorite gelato place. Heidi picked by color (I want pink!) and Sophia picked by flavor (chocolate and coffee!).

We had to send Nana home after the MOA day, but got to keep Papa for a few extra days. Originally he was going to return home on his motorcycle but injured his back right before coming out here (great timing if you ask me ;)) so he flew home just this morning. The girls had an extra day at home with Daddy and Papa just hanging out. On Thursday we laid low around the house, I had a dentist appointment and brought dinner over to some friends, and we had our favorite Rocco's pizza for dinner. After an early breakfast at Einstein's this morning, I had to drop Papa off, but we get to see him again in three weeks when he will really be taking home the motorcycle. Hopefully the weather holds up!

What a blessing it is to have family that we are eager to see, and people to miss. It is hard to say goodbye, but it is good to have people to say goodbye to. Dad is retiring in a few short months and we'll be dragging him out often (when Mom can spare him working on their own house!). We are so grateful that Chris is home, too. Five weeks is only half the time it was last summer, but towards the end of it we were so ready for him to be home. Some wisdom I heard from a chaplain's wife when I was in NM this summer is "no deployment is the same." Meaning, sometimes 6 months is easier for one person, but 2 months is harder for another. It is not fair to expect the same results for each family, and the burden is great for all. But I am so proud of what Chris is accomplishing, and eager to see where God takes us. Homeschool Kindergarten this year for my Sophia, and ordination and endorsement this year for Chris. Praise be to God!