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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Product Review: Time 4 Learning

For the past month we have had a chance to review the Time 4 Learning site. Time 4 Learning is an online Pre-K to 8th grade curriculum which can be used either as a complete curriculum or to supplement your existing curriculum.

What did we try out?

FOR EDEN (age 3)
The preschool curriculum offers two different levels of difficulty and covers 40 different topics including: shapes, numbers, feelings, human body, colours, weather and a lot more.

FOR ELI (age 5)
The Kindergarten level offers Math, Language and Science

For MICAIAH (age 7)
The grade 2 program offers
Math, Language,  Social Studies and Science.

The program gives each child access to their grade level and then a level above and a level below.

So what did we think...
I have mixed reviews... I think the format and ease of use of the program from the kids perspective is great. I would not use it exclusively as a curriculum but I do see the benefits of having it as a supplemental program. I did find it difficult to navigate from a planning perspective. Because I would like to have control over how the T4L curriculum matches up to what they are learning in their main curriculum, I would have liked to have a feature that would allow me to review and assign their work for each day. There is a lesson planning area which outlines scope and sequence that I did find slightly helpful.

I used T4L with Micaiah for one or 2 days. Firstly, his daily academic schedule is already quite full and diverse and thus I found it difficult to fit it in. I did try to find some modules that lined up with what we were studying currently but when he worked through a couple of them I did not feel that they were adding significantly to his learning experience. I was also surprised by several references to pop culture found throughout the couple of exercises that we did. As a result of this he couldn't complete some of the activities on his own since his exposure to pop culture is very limited. We don't allow much television/ movie access, nor think it is necessary at this age.

For Eden and Eli however I was more satisfied. I like that it is very interactive and student paced so the kids don't even realize that they are learning. After a few days of logging on with them and walking them through it, Eli was able to log on by himself and even Eden was able to complete most of the exercises on her own. I ended up using the math daily with Eli and have built it in to his schedule. He has been working through the kindergarten level at his own pace. It seems to be a level below his Horizons Kindergarten math but I have left the level as is since it is a good review for him.

He also liked the science and would do a few of these lessons as time allowed.

Eden felt like a big girl as she could now have her own computer time. She enjoyed working through the different modules.

A great feature is that there is a playground area which gives them access to tons of internet, age appropriate games (ad free) that they could access once they had completed amount of time on their "work". As the parent you can determine how much work time they need to do and then how much play time they could have.

Final thoughts:

Every day Eden and Eli ask to go on Time 4 Learning so that is testimony to the fun factor!!

I would like to continue to use the program for Eli and possibly for Eden. There is a monthly fee of about $20 per child which I can at this point justify spending for Eli, but as a supplemental preschool curriculum for Eden, that price is a little steep for us. {There is currently a special for first time users for the month of December so this would be a good month to try it out if you are interested.}

The customer service is great. I had to contact them a few times during the month and each time the response was courteous and timely and my problem was resolved.

This product was given to me for review purposes. I was compensated with one month free access. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time Out!

time·out or time-out (tīm′o̵ut′)


1. any time taken for rest or not counted toward a work record, score, etc.
2. ☆ Sports a brief suspension of play, with the timekeeper's clock stopped, as to allow a team to make substitutions or discuss strategy
3. a disciplinary technique in which a child who misbehaves is sent to be alone for a few minutes so as to calm down before returning to work or play

Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

I have composed so many blog posts over the last few weeks... only thing is they never made it from my head to my keyboard and into the blog. My life feels like I am a hamster on a wheel. From parenting to mothering to schooling to housekeeping to ministry, there is no time for much else. I end my day exhausted, and lately frustrated at so many unfinished tasks. One of these is blogging. I blog because I want a record of our life... I blog to get things out of my head... I blog to encourage someone else who might be in a similar space in life... I blog to keep my family informed... BUT every time I find a minute to blog I feel like there are so many other things I could be/ should be doing.. like laundry or dishes or lesson prep or playing with the kids or spending time with my husband or exercising... which are all very important. So thus the blog posts remain in my head... and then I get then I sit down to blog... and then I feel guilty... so then I get up to do something else... well you get the picture... I have to find balance... so for a little bit this space will remain blank until I have peace about where this blog will fit into my life. By choosing to set it aside for a moment I am giving myself a break from feeling like it is an unfinished task. I will return... soon... until then just know life is going on full steam ahead in Island Mama's world!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time4Learning Review

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as an online homeschooling curriculum, a web based afterschool tutorial or an online summer program. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

oops! i forgot...

... to let you know

Mission Accomplished

That's right!  I completed my first month of my Bible reading plan on YouVersion.

In my next post I'll let you know my mission for November.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A typical day... there such a thing?!

I often get asked what a typical day looks like for us, or how I manage to homeschool 3 kids with a baby in tow. Even though no two days are alike, now 6 weeks into school  we have developed somewhat of a routine for each day. 

On a good morning  I start the day around 5:30 ( I'm still working on that!)  I spend that time having Quiet time and getting myself ready for the day.

Once the kids are up (around 7am) we start the day with Quiet Time. The kids do this with Joe and they use the Word of Life Quiet Time. Eli and Eden are on the Gopher level and Micaiah has an Challenger level Quiet time which is required for membership and levels at Olympian Club which he attends each Friday evening at our church.

Next comes breakfast and chores. Each child is responsible for making their bed and then have one or two additional chores for the day. This is all laid out on a chart so the can easily see what to do each day. The chores include feeding the rabbit, emptying trash cans, helping with meal prep, tidying the bathroom and helping with the laundry.

We aim to have all of that done in time to begin school at 9am.  We have gotten better at this over the past few weeks!

Our school time begins with circle time where we open with prayer and then recite our school verse, motto and cheer.  Here is a little look at them doing that earlier this week...

Circle time continues with our morning board. I'll explain more about that in another post.  We usually end this time with a little exercise time (jumping jacks, dancing, a jog around the yard) to help them get some wiggles out before we get to our workboxes.

By now it is about 9:45 and Marcus has usually gone in for his nap.  He is a great napper and will usually not get up until around lunch time making life easier for me in the classroom.  I am trying not to get too used to that because as he gets older I know that schedule will change!  But even the days that his schedule is off, he is happy to sit in his bouncer or in my lap as I work with the other kids. 

Micaiah and Eli start their workboxes.  The first few are filled with things they can do independantly or with little assistance.  I use that time to work one on one with Eden.  Working through her workboxes usually take about 30 minutes and I make her last couple activities ones she can do on her own so I can move on to work with Eli.  We stop for a fruit break once Eden has finished her "work with mommy" time.  When we start up again, Micaiah continues to work independantly, Eden gets back to her remaining work boxes or finds something else to play with on her own and I have concentrated time with Eli.  I usually spend about  45 minutes with Eli and then he is free to play with Eden or on his own until lunch. 

By now it is about 12 and I move on to work with Micaiah for about an hour.  We have lunch between 1 and 1:30 and then the kids go in for a rest time (a time when they are expected to read or lie quietly on their beds.)   If Micaiah and I have anything to finish from the morning he skips the rest time and we do it then.  Otherwise I use that time to play with and read to Marcus, do chores, get dinner ready, check emails and read blogs or whatever else I can fit in to my 30- 60 minutes of peace.  The length of rest time is determined by what afternoon activities we have so each day varies.  On afternoons that we are home we try to fit in science or catch up on any of our history curriclum we have missed othewise the kids do puzzles, play a game, watch a dvd etc, play on the computer, play outside etc.

The kids look forward to Daddy coming home and shortly after it its bath time, dinner time, read aloud/ evening devotions and then bedtime for the kids (my hallelujah moment!!)  And then we get ready to start all over the next day!

So there you have it...  a simplistic look at our day... in reality many a curveball is thrown in there and I am learning to go with the flow and not get too bent out of shape when my schedule doesn't go as planned!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beautiful Blossoms

As I drove into my parent's driveway this afternoon the first thing I noticed was that their pear tree was in full bloom. The delicate white flowers were beautiful. I was amazed to see it so full of green leaves and blossoms so soon after Hurricane Igor which left it looking brown and bare. It's beauty struck me and made me smile. As I entered the house I mentioned to my mom how beautiful it was and while she agreed, she also commented on how the falling blossoms were all over her car and awhile later she went out to clean them off. I can't fault her lack of enthusiasm of having to clean the car off and I can only imagine that this will be a task repeated several times over the next few weeks. Her response however made me think of how I sometimes view my kids. Sometimes I miss the beauty and joy that they bring and I only see the work it takes to raise them. It is hard work caring for 4 little ones but somewhere between changing diapers, keeping up with the loads of laundry 4 kids produce, grading papers, sleepless nights, never ending correcting, rebuking, encouraging, and all the rest that comes with parenting, I do need to make sure I am taking time to enjoy them and seeing them for the beautiful kids that they are... my four beautiful blossoms!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A day late and a dollar short

Hey, remember back in August I posted this about the goals I had for September? Have you been wondering if I completed them?

Well, I wanted to be able to put this

Mission Accomplished

at the top of my post BUT.. I did not accomplish my mission completely.

Remember my mission was to finish 2 projects I had started... A set of bean bags that I am making for Eden and a set of building blocks for a sight word activity for Eli.

I am happy to report that the blocks are complete!!!  They have even been played with.  However the bean bags are another story... the stitching is complete but they are sitting waiting to be filled and stitched shut.  They will be finished by the end of the next week... I promise ;)

My mission for October is to stay on track with a new Bible Reading plan I started.  I found this great online tool called YouVersion which is an online bible and has over 20 bible reading plans to choose from.  You can track your progress on line, read different versions, keep a journal/ record thoughts about what you are reading.  There is also a mobile version. 

Having little kids and lack of sleep has taken a toll on my Bible study time... I have been wanting to be more intentional about my Bible reading... lately its been reading a Psalm hurriedly before the day starts if that at all.  My goal this month is to get into God's word using this new plan and see what treasures He has for me each day.

And yes Joe, feel free to kick me out of bed each morning to get on with it!  Having said that I better go get some z's.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

LENS challenge: Love

This week over at Home Is Where You Start From  the  LE.N.S. (LEarning Never Stops) photo challenge theme is Love.

Here is my photo... it needs no words!

Stop by Home Is Where You Start From to see all the other LOVE-ly pictures that are being linked up!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tot School Week 1: Introducing the Alphabet

Tot School

Eden enjoyed her first week of tot school last week. I have decided to [partially] use the Letter of the Week curriculum I purchased from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  The curriculum focuses on on a letter of the alphabet each week and centres the whole week around a theme.  In order to kick that off I decided to have a alphabet introduction week and used the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book by Bill Martin as the theme of the week.

I made a coconut tree (printable here)  to put above Eden's workspace.  Each week when we finish a letter we will add it to our tree.

We also made a Chick Chicka Boom Boom lapbook that I found here and here.   It was a fun lapbook to put together with Eden... she had seen her brothers make lapbooks so she thinks it is great to have her own!

Some other activities we did over the week relating to the theme were:

Alphabet Bingo -I called out a letter and she used a dot art marker to stamp it on her "bingo sheet".  She recognized most of the letters and by the end of the week missed only a couple.

She worked on this ABC floor puzzle by Melissa and Doug. The first time I did it with her and the second time she did it almost on her own.

She spent lots of time in our ABC sensory box that I highlighted in my last post.

We watched this rendition of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on Youtube which has continued to be a hit even into this week!

We made a hand print coconut tree- I painted Eden's hands green and she stamped them on a sheet of white paper.  Once it was dry we cut them out and glued them on to coloured paper and added a trunk (brown card board) and brown textured foam coconuts.

 We also had fun with homemade play dough and had a life skills lesson when I set up a washing area for Eden to wash all the playdough toys/ utensils.. she did a great job cleaning up and had fun playing in the water.

Some of the books we read were:

Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A Rey
Dr. Seuss ABC's
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

It was a great week! Of course in addition to the activities above much time was spent playing and interacting with her brothers. I really enjoyed the focused time I had with Eden each morning and I look forward to watching her grow and develop over the course of this year.

See who else is participating in Tot School over at 1+1+1=1

For Tot books and Tot packs like the one we made check this out:
Tot Books & Packs

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sensory Boxes

For a while now I have wanted to incorporate sensory boxes into our learning experience. I procrastinated the whole of last year so during the summer I made up my mind that we would have one sensory box per month for this school year.

You may be wondering what a sensory box is and how we use it. Simply, a sensory box is a box filled with different tactile materials for your child to explore. Some schools will have a sensory table but as we don't have room for a sensory table, a box is a good replacement. The one I have presently set up is a clear plastic container with a tight fitting lid. The possibilities of what you can put in the box are endless. They are great for kids who love to use their hands. Playing in them is very engaging and can also be relaxing.

Our first sensory box was built around the ABC theme as that was the theme I used for Eden's first week of Tot school. I filled the box with dry ABC pasta and wagon wheel pasta and then I added letters made of foam, wood and plastic. I also found little objects for each letter of the alphabet and "hid" them in the pasta for the kids to find. The loved rummaging through and finding all of the little items especially since some of them were their toys I had kidnapped with out their knowledge a few weeks ago. It was funny to hear Micaiah say. "I have been looking for that!"

Most of the time the sensory box has been available to them for free play and they know all of the items and the filler (pasta) must remain in the box or the privilege of playing with it will be taken away (I am really not all that interested in cleaning pasta up off the floor every day!!) In addition to the free play, I also photographed some of the items in the box and created a an I spy sheet for them.(An idea I got from my friend MariAnn) They had fun with that.

I had intended for the box to be mainly for Eden and thought Eli might be interested in it as well but it was actually a hit for all 3 kids! It has kept them entertained for hours already and there is no indication that they are tired of it yet.

I now am trying to decide what theme to use for October.
For more sensory box ideas check out MariAnn's wonderful blog Counting Coconuts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So What Do we do all Day? {Part One} Our Curriculum

One of the first questions I get when someone finds out that I homeschool my kids is "What curriculum do you use?"

Last year when I started looking for curriculum I spent tons of time looking for the perfect packaged program.   Part way through the year, as my confidence grew, I realized that I would never  find exactly what I wanted in one box.  I had been given a copy of the Well Trained Mind - A guide to classical education at home.  Once I read that I began to formulate a plan for each of my kids.  I didn't follow the book's recommendations completely, but it was a great starting point for me.  Beyond that, I read various homeschool blogs, especially those who regularly review products, giving the good the bad and the ugly on various curricula, programs, on line activities etc.    I prayed (and continue to pray ) regularly for God to give me wisdom as I made the curriculum choices I felt would best meet the needs of each child.  After much time and consideration this is our line up for 2010-2011 school year.

Eli- Primary 1/ Kindergarten (I still can't believe he is that age already)

Reading/ Phonics
The Ordinary Parents Guide to teaching Reading - he is already well on his way to  reading!!
Modern Curriculm Press Phonics Level A
Various readers I have collected

Horizons- K   
I love Horizons Math- we used grade 1 last year for Micaiah

A Reason For Handwriting-K

I supplement these with hands on activities and other things I find on the internet.

Micaiah Primary 3- 2nd Grade

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind (Level 1 & 2) (We started this at the end of last school year so we are continuing where we left off)

Various chapter books- a mixture of  fiction and non fiction.

All About Spelling Level One and Two (we are breezing through level one as a review- I will be using it for Eli in January)

A Reason For Handwriting- level B- love that it uses Scripture verses to practice penmanship!

Teaching Text Books (CD Rom) 
An awesome program that teaches math concepts by walking the student through a guided lecture and then providing practice and test problems. It also grades the student so once Micaiah has finished a lesson I can see what he has mastered and what he still needs to work on.
Horizons- 2nd Grade

History (primarily for Micaiah but Eli will join in)
The Story of the World Book One
The Mystery of History vol 1
(we are combining 2 programs here so it will take us longer than a year to get through)

A Reason For Science Level 1
We had our first lesson on the weekend.  I am already loving this curriculum.  The workbook is beautifully laid out (as is the teachers guide) and the materials kit came with EVERYTHING we need for all of the experiments (seriously, EVERYTHING... paper cups, spoons, twigs, a dog biscuit...).  I also love that it ties science to the Bible.  We have decided to do science as a family on Saturdays so Daddy can join in.  Yay!! we are excited about that!

So there you have it!  I will update on how things are going with each component as we go through the year.

In Part 2 of "So What Do we do all Day" I'll focus on Tot School for Eden.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First week of school!

As I was gearing up for the first week of school I couldn't imagine how I would care for a newborn as well as meet the needs of a 3 year old, 5 year old and 6 year old.  I knew that others before me have done it and many are in the same shoes right now so I trusted God that he would help me accomplish it all! I didn't know how it would look in reality but I put together a schedule based on best case scenario and figured I would tweak as necesssary as we go along.  The key word in all of this is F L E X I B I L I T Y!

I am happy to report that the first week went by with flying colours!  Sure there were moments that I became overwhelmed but all in all we had a great week.  It was a four day week because of Labour Day so that made it a little easier.  Marcus napped each morning for about 4 hours which is all we really needed get school work done.  There were some things I worked on with Micaiah in the afternoon but Marcus was content to sit in my lap or in his bouncer.

We made some changes to our work box system which will make life easier for me and help the kids stay focused.  We actually redesigned the classroom so that each child has their workboxes next to their workspace. (previously all the workboxes were lined up against one wall. 

This way also allows space for Eden to have her own workspace for tot school.

I also abandoned the use of schedule strips and cards for Micaiah and instead I print off his Google calendar each day and put it up on the wall above his workspace.  I will continue to use schedule strips for Eli and Eden but a much more condensed strip than we were doing last year.  Eden feels like she is apart of school now that she has her own numbered workboxes!

I mentioned on the day before school started that we should give our school a name and after a couple far out names, Micaiah came up with "Best of all Academy."  When I asked him why he chose that name he said because our school is the best school of all!!  How's that for a boost of confidence!  As I thought about it it is a fitting name for a number of reasons:

  • We decided to homeschool so that we could teach our kids how to live the best life God has planned for them.
  • We should all work hard to be the best we can be.
  • And as Micaiah stated it is the best school of all- sure we are a little biased!

It was a go.. that would be the name!  Once we had decided that the Lord placed Colossians 3:23 in my heart:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. 

A little poem I learned when I was in primary school also came to mind:

Good,  better,  best
Let us never rest
Until or good is better
And our better is best.

We have now incorporated reciting these two things into our morning routine.  (more about our morning routine in a later post).

So what are we doing all day at the Best of all Academy?  Stay tuned for more about our curriculum choices for the boys, Tot School for Eden and our Morning Board.

Until then, take care and be the best you can be!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tiny Talk Tuesday

After a dinner that everyone enjoyed (with 3 kids that doesn't happen too often:)Eli said, "Mommy you are a good cooker!" Too cute! It made my day!

Go over to Not Before 7:00 for other tiny talk overheard this week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Can Google organize my life?

The hardest part of homeschooling last year was planning... lesson plans, scheduling, getting everything done.   My strength has always been organizing things but it falls apart when it comes to maintenance.   I tried several different systems that I either came up with myself or "stole" from other homeschool moms.  Nothing stuck, nothing made life easier for me.  When I started using workboxes it made me be more organized but by the end of the school year which also correlated with the end of my pregnancy I couldn't keep up with filling the boxes each night and that fell apart as well.  So,  much thought has gone into what I can do differently this year.  Now with four little ones to manage, it is important for me to get this under control.

There are some lessons I learned as I look back over the year which I hope will help me as I gear up for this school year:

1.  First and foremost, I MUST commit each day to God and allow Him to direct my path.  There is a direct correlation between whether or not I spend time with my heavenly Father each morning and how much yelling I do during the day.  When I get up early, before the kids and spend time in His word, God gives me the strength and patience to deal with what comes my way.  I have come to realize that  the kids are pretty consistent, but it is my attitude towards them that can make or break the day.
These last few months I have made the excuse of lack of sleep to stay in bed a little longer... and I do know that God understands when I have been up all night with the baby... but how many times do I use that as an excuse and miss out on a blessing God may have had for me. 

2.  KISS- Keep it simple Sistah!- as much as I love to create elaborate systems of how something is going to work, it only works if I can then use it consistently. At this stage of my life the less I have to do to keep a system going, the better.  It also works for the kids if the routine is uncomplicated and easy for them to learn and follow.

3. The schedule is there as a guide and is not written in stone.   Last year I had a pretty strict schedule when we started but because I hadn't planned for it to be flexible, I felt like a failure each day that we didn't stick to it exactly.  As a result that schedule went out the window about 2 weeks after we started and for us the pendulum swung completely to the other side.  This also left me feeling like a failure because I had to think on my feet all day.  Things came together a bit with the introduction of workboxes in January.  They forced me to be more organized but still without the right balance of schedule and flexibility, I was constantly fighting against feeling inadequate as a homeschooling mom.  I also didn't keep it simple with the workboxes and I began to find the planning and filling of them monotonous.  Through it all I learned that for us, having a schedule  is better than the absence of one, but the BEST one is a flexible one.

4. My children, especially the oldest,  love routine.  They thrive when they know what is coming.  I, on the other hand like things to change up and I had been trying to manage their day based on my preference.  It occurred to me late in the year that it is okay with them if we do math the same time every day and even though I may get bored of that, they won't.  I had tried to make each day different but I now see the value in having a big part of the day the same.

So what does this look like for this year and what does Google have to do with it?   I am using Google Calendars!  Did you know that you can create many different calendars that can be viewed all together?  They are colour coded and you can view or hide which ever calendars you want.

I had been using a Google calendar for our appointments and day to day events but at some point this summer it occurred to me that I could use one calendar for each child and plug my lesson plans in there for each.  I would then have a snapshot each day of what each child should accomplish which I could view by day, week or month.  It would also be a record of what we did each day if I needed to go back and refer to anything. Using the things I learned that I listed above, I created a daily routine for each child and although I assigned a time to each(since that is the only way to add it to the calendar,) only the order needs to be followed.  For example, Micaiah's calendar has math from 10:50 to 11:30 and then reading from 11:30 to 11:50.  He will do those things in that order, but we will not be a stickler for time.  If there is something he doesn't get to for that day because he took more time than we alloted somewhere else, that's okay, we will catch up another day.  This way everyone knows what is coming.  I will probably still use schedule strips for Eli and Eden so they can have a visual, but Micaiah will have access to his Google calendar and will be able to monitor where he should be.

Because I can view all the calendars at the same time I will easily see when there are conflicts or appoinments that will get in the way of school time. 

I have even added a calendar for meals that I have been using for my meal planning.  I print that calendar out each week and stick it on the fridge so that anyone who wants to know what's for breakfast, lunch or dinner on any given day can see it.  Again,  I can view it with all the other calendars so I can see which days I don't have time to cook a big meal or if we will be out of the house at lunch time.

Here's a snapshot of what a day looks like.  It may look like a lot on one calendar but I can hide as many or as few as I want at any time.  I like being able to see everything at the same time...

click on it to make larger

I am really praying this works for me.  It seems simple enough to use and maintain and with God's guidance each day I feel confident that it can work!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's the magic word?... Accountability!

I have always been good at starting but often not so good at finishing... especially if it is taking too long to finish, or if something else catches my attention. I am easily sidetracked (oh, THAT's where my kids get it from:)

I got excited when I saw this mission of the month idea over at Mama Jenn's blog. It's simple, blog about what I want to accomplish with a deadline for completion and suddenly the fact that it is out there in cyberspace for anyone to see (and the fact that I am performance driven :) should motivate me to complete the task!!

Mission of the Month

So I am joining in. For September I have 2 projects that are presently half done. A set of bean bags that I am making for Eden and I am re-purposing some building blocks for a sight word activity for Eli. I can't wait to share them both with you but I have to finish them first... by September 30th.

If you see me feel free to nag me  err... ask me how it is going!  As soon as I am done I'll be back here to let you know!

Want to join in?  Head on over to Mama Jenn's!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Works For me Wednesday: Birthday countdown

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Eli's birthday is coming up soon. It is hard to believe but he is going to be 5! As with any child, he is super excited about his birthday and for months he has been asking the question....

" How many days until my birthday?"

As we have gotten closer, I was going to help him make a paper chain to count down the days like we did here but instead I had another idea. I had just made a new batch of homemade play dough (strawberry scented...yummy!) so I shaped a blob of it into a little cake and stuck 10 candles in (his birthday was 10 days away at that point). Each morning he gets to remove a candle and count how many are left. He was so excited, the first morning he was up at about 6:30 asking if he could take a candle from his cake! It is a great way for him to count down the days until he is five.

That's what works for me! For more Works for me Wednesday, head over to We Are That Family.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Birth of Marcus: Our Faith Journey- Part Four

Read Part 1 The Dream
Read Part 2 The Impossible Dream?
Read Part 3 Believing the Dream

The Dream Fulfilled

...Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time (Habakkuk 2: 2-3a)

Once I knew that I had the support of my OB we started praying for some specific things for a successful vaginal birth. Through this process I learned to pray specifically... and it was exciting to watch God answer each request one by one. Even when the answer was no, watching God answer in a way beyond my imagination increased my faith.

On June 24th around 4pm I started having contractions. I started to get excited, figuring that I would be holding my little bundle later that night but the contractions never became regular and by 11pm they fizzled out.

I woke up at 6am Friday morning with contractions again.

We got the kids organized and JDF took them to his parents house... surely the baby was on the way and we would be introducing them to their new brother by the end of the day... thankfully I didn't promise them that because although the contractions persisted they never became regular. I'd have them 5 or 6 minutes apart for 30 - 45 mins and then nothing for an hour or so.

JDF went in to work for a couple hours but came home before lunch. We went for a walk on the beach, took a drive and then stopped and picked up lunch before heading home. With the kids out of the house I felt like we were on vacation.. it was a much needed break. I felt rested, and ready to have this baby. By 3 pm I knew that my hopes to have my OB present for the birth were not going to be realized. The on call OB would be on at 5pm. I called the office just to let my OB know that I was in pre labour (just in case she decided she did want to be there) The on call OB was the OB who I saw when my OB was on maternity leave... my best friend's sister!!

By Friday evening the contractions fizzled off again and I woke up on Saturday morning still there. I was starting to get discouraged and disappointed. I started having doubts that I would have the birth that I wanted.

The pain intensified for a brief period on Saturday morning but by lunch time they were only mild and very sporadic contractions. JDF went to hang out with the kids who were still at his parents house (thank God for grandparents!) so I tried to rest as best I could. I couldn't believe I was still at home but I knew God was in control and I continued to pray and thank him that his timing was perfect.

I kept in touch with the doula all day.. she stopped by in the morning for a while (even folded a basket of laundry while she was there!!) and was a real encouragement throughout the day with her phone calls.

By early evening I we decided to go and see the kids and get them ready for bed. On the way home around 8:30, the pain intensified and the contractions seemed like the were getting more regular... 6 or 7 minutes. At 10:15 I told JDF that I was going to start timing the contractions and I would let him know in a half hour what was going on... 15 minutes later I was telling him it was time to leave the house!

We were on the maternity ward with the doula by 11pm and met the midwives that would be assisting us. When they checked my cervix I was at 4cm so they moved me to the birthing room. The next few hours went by... the contractions continued and intensified... I prayed through each contraction. I remember them checking me again and I was at 7 cm... this was great, we were making progress. I lost track of time... minutes seemed like hours... we had praise music playing, I made myself focus on the words through each contraction... during each one I thought I was going to need something for the pain but God seemed to be giving me this inner strength to get me through. As long as I focused on Him, I was able to manage.

The next time the midwife came to check me I was still at 7 cms and now my cervix had gotten "spongy". I remember asking what that meant because that didn't sound good. The midwife told me she was going to call the OB in and she would decide if I would need to go up for a C-section... at that point I lost it. I couldn't accept that we had come this far to end in a c-section. My dear husband calmed me down and prayed... I felt a new wave of determination...I got up off the bed to move around and let gravity help out the situation. When the mid wife came back to check I had progressed to 8 cm and by the time the OB arrived I was almost fully dilated!

I had been worried about stage 2... the pushing stage, as I had never reached this point before. The OB, doula, midwife and JDF were great as the encouraged me through each contraction. I was exhausted but motivated by the fact that I was going to see my baby really soon. And soon it was... after 29 minutes of pushing Marcus Samuel entered the world.
I remember saying over and over.. "I did it! I did it!" I couldn't believe the journey was finally over! I praised God for his faithfulness!!

Here are some of the specific prayer items we prayed for and how God answered them:

· That I would start labour with a soft, stretchy cervix that may also be slightly dilated - I was about 2 cm at my final OB appointment. It was an encouragement to be told that.. I knew that my body was doing what it was designed to do! God is faithful!

· That we have a very supportive midwife. I couldn't have asked for a better midwife. She was so encouraging and supportive. My one concern was that her shift would end midway through my labour and delivery and I would get someone new that wasn't as helpful ( as was the case when I had Micaiah). I asked her when I went in at 11 if her shift would be ending soon.. she said "No I'll be here until 8 tomorrow morning.. you will have this baby by then!" I remember seeing the clock at 6am and thinking that she was going to leave before the baby was here... Marcus was born at 8:01am... she was there with me through the whole thing! God is faithful!

· That my water would not release (break) prior to contractions starting. It did not. God is faithful!

· That I have a short second stage (the pushing stage). I was told this pushing stage for the first time could be 2 to 3 hours long. I knew when I started pushing that I didn't have 2 hours left in me. After 29 minutes of pushing Marcus "flew" out! God is faithful!

.That the doula would be available as she had 3 other births scheduled and 2 were over due. (She also didn't want to miss seeing her son off to his highschool prom on Saturday evening- and I didn't want her to miss that either :) The other babies were all born by Thursday giving her a couple days break. AND by the time we had to go to the hospital she had been able to go one daughter's ballet recital, another one's music recital and then able to see her son dressed in a tux ready for the prom... HIS timing is perfect! God is faithful!

. That I would go into labour on a weekday so I would have my OB there... as it turned out, to have my friend as OB was amazing! She was so encouraging and knowing that she believed that this was the hand of God made it that much more special... so in this case God's answer was no because he had something better! God is faithful!

If you are still reading... thank you for sharing this journey with me! I wrote this to encourage others to believe God when he tells you something.. even when it seems impossible. My faith has grown and even though I still sometimes struggle with periods of doubt and discouragement in other areas of my life, I have this experience to draw on and remind me how much God is in control and that I can totally trust him!

Please note that the purpose of me sharing my story is to encourage others to trust God in seemingly impossible situations. Having a VBA3C did involve some risk and I am in no way encouraging anyone to go against the advice of medical personnel. This was a personal decision and one that I wanted to make with the support of my OB... God made that possible. If you are desiring a VBAC after 2 or more c-sections, my advice would be to become fully informed of the risks, educate yourself, openly communicate with your OB or midwife and seek the face of God, being open to the direction he leads you. Feel free to email me at rusheika at gmail dot com if you want to talk to me further about my preparation for a VBA3C .

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Birth of Marcus: Our Faith Journey- Part Three

Read Part 1 The Dream here
Read Part 2 The Impossible Dream? here

Believing the Dream

...But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt (James 1:6)

A couple of weeks before my appointment with my OB (upon her return from maternity leave) I found myself getting anxious so I decided to enlist the help of some women who have been influential in my life... women who I knew would pray for me. I gave them the background and then asked them to pray specifically for wisdom to know how to approach my OB
  • peace in my heart until I met with her
  • continued confirmation that this was of God, or for major doors to be closed
  • safety for the baby and me if I was allowed to attempt the VBA3C
  • that I would accept whatever answer the LORD gives.
  • I was encouraged by their willingness to pray, words of wisdom and support and I leaned on them often during the next few months.

    JDF accompanied me to the next appointment... I got there still not knowing how I was going to approach the OB with my request. I trusted that God would give me the words to say. I had played the scenario over and over in my mind and I always imagined the same response from my OB..." Are you crazy?! No way will I allow you to do that!" Why wouldn't I think that... I had been told over and over that no one would allow me to.

    God gave me the words to say and the conversation was better than I could ever have imagined! While she didn't say yes immediately, she took the time to hear me out, to state my case and then she agreed to think about it and let me know at my next appointment in 2 weeks her decision.

    I left there with peace in my heart that her answer would be yes! I felt like God had moved a mountain and my faith had grown tremendously in a few short months.

    2 weeks later we returned and sure enough her answer was yes... with some parameters that I could accept. Not only had she agreed, but 2 other doctors had also agreed (this was important because in our hospital the OBs are on rotation on the weekends and you are not guaranteed to get your own OB if you are in labour over the weekend) So 3 out of 5 doctors would let me have a trial of labour, one was undecided and one said no. I could live with that. I prayed that I would go into labour during the week and have my OB... that would make life simple!(keep that in mind later in the story:)

    I contacted the doula as soon as I got home... she could not believe it... she knew it was a miracle and was excited to be a part of what God was doing!

    Stay tuned for Part 4: The Dream Fulfilled

    Please note that the purpose of me sharing my story is to encourage others to trust God in seemingly impossible situations. Having a VBA3C did involve some risk and I am in no way encouraging anyone to go against the advice of medical personnel. This was a personal decision and one that I wanted to make with the support of my OB... God made that possible. If you are desiring a VBAC after 2 or more c-sections, my advice would be to become fully informed of the risks, educate yourself, openly communicate with your OB or midwife and seek the face of God, being open to the direction he leads you. Feel free to email me at rusheika at gmail dot com if you want to talk to me further about my preparation for a VBA3C .