Happy Easter!

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I hope you have a lovely day, Christian or not. It is a beautiful time of year to be grateful for life.

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And speaking of life…Check out this shy little guy who crashed our party! My little sister almost ended up with a pet snake until she thought about how sad s/he might be about leaving his/her natural home. Anthropomorphizing at its finest.

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Olympiad

Ok so it hasn’t been 4 years since our last Olympics, but we can be on a modern schedule right? Honestly this post probably won’t be much about the event itself (which was fun and laid back). I love our homeschool group and was glad to put on the Olympics. The kids probably would have been just fine with playing at the park, but meh, they liked winning olive branch crowns and drinking grape juice. This post actually might be more about how I’m doing with homeschooling over all.

It’s absolutely the best thing ever for my family, my kids are thriving and they are way beyond where they need to be (Garyn and Naomi both). I just feel like I’m floundering. The feeling is similar to trying to find the last piece to a jigsaw puzzle in a bag of random pieces, when you aren’t even sure what color it should be to fit your puzzle. I don’t know what is missing and I don’t know why I feel like something is missing, but the stuff I’ve been trying lately seems forced. Unnatural. Because its the wrong piece. This all probably stems from the fact that I have a lot of conflicts raging in my head all the time. Granola, energy workin’, mystic hippie meets capitalistic, pragmatic economist. Un-schooling, child led education meets structured, mean, one room school house Marm, where dang it! you need to work on your handwriting! But…um…only if you feel inspired? Little man is turning 8, he would be going into 3rd grade and Little girl would be starting Kindergarten in the fall. One side in my head says, “Sure he’s ahead, he’s super gifted. But how much further ahead would he be if you worked with him and really pushed him?” and the other side says, “Psshhh! If she pushes him he will hate learning. He is so far ahead because he has had the freedom to pursue what he loves.” And I’m standing there nodding to both of them, because they both are talkin’ pretty to me. Gah.

The one thing that saves me is the fact that I get help when I need it, either from God or good friends or moments of brilliant clarity (so I guess all my help comes from Him, and I’ll take it!). The other thing that saves me is my sweet husband who listens to me freak out, rubs my back while I cry and then totally agrees with me when I say I’m screwing up our children. He’s good at making me laugh. Also there are always the moments when Garyn busts out math problem solving based on stuff he had to put together on his own, or I look up a reading level on a book he sped through, or I see him taking care of his little sisters like a boss, and I relax. A little bit.

Wait! That’s three things! I’m horrible at math! My kids are DOOMED!!!

Epic Sigh.

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The athletes all performed well. However, Layna was not impressed with her goat-cheese-and-honey-cracker. Corra just approves of the world in general. Especially when there is food.

Thanks for letting me vent. Someday I’ll figure out academics and in the mean time at least I’m nailing hard work, kindness, and good people-ship. If I have to choose, I’ll take those.

 

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Wetlands

No really! There are wetlands here in the middle of the Mojave Desert! This is because the city of Las Vegas has perfected the art of faking stuff…I mean, we have a Coliseum. We went with our homeschool group to the Wetlands park and it was kind of a shock. The only time I had been before was pre-little girls and it was basically a mobile trailer at the start of some trails around some man made lakes. Now they have a full blown compound and a really impressive mini natural history center.

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Hoodies and flip flops are how we roll around here.

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I hope you can see it…Naomi had requested Rapunzel hair. So that ended up being a French braid with every flower clippie we own in there somewhere. I think we fit about 11.

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“Not happy, Bob. Not happy.”

That’s our go-to quote when one of the kids is cranky. Layna loves to ride in the stroller so we were playing musical babies. This meant that I hadn’t strapped her in when she decided that touching her toes would be hilarious. She caught herself on the sidewalk with her face. It was pretty gnarly for awhile but luckily didn’t leave anything permanent, and PB&J makes everything better.

My friend put it best…”The wetlands park is awesome, for Vegas.” If you are from Florida and are thinking in terms of Mangrove trees you will be underwhelmed. But for us desert rats it was a fun (if long and hot) hike and really cool hour spent at the learning center. No pun intended.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

No more heavy and philosophical posts for me for a while…just epic morning hair! Little Miss Layna snores. Not cute baby hard breathing, I’m talking she could make a congested polar bear jealous. Her pediatrician has commented on it and how at some point a sleep study might be a good idea to rule out sleep apnea. So when her speech therapist expressed concern that there are sounds she won’t make because of having to change how she breathes, we scheduled the sleep study. You would think that eight years and four kids later, some of the naivety would have melted away. No, no. I truly believed that sleeping at a sleep center away from my other kids and evil cats might equal a good nights sleep. Ha!

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No nap, but an 8:30 night time drive with Mommy made for a silly and happy girl. We got to the place and had to wait for the tech to finish with the screaming baby next door. I already have bags under my eyes…I should have recognized that ill omen for what it was.

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We played and I happily thought this lovely crib was where Layna would be sleeping while I crashed in the huge bed on the other side of the room. Nope. I was so wrong.

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The tech came in and started sticking things to Layna’s face and put the bands on her tummy and chest and if it weren’t for the tissue that we kept throwing on the floor, I think Layna would have punched tech lady in the face. Actually, she did try. Then we laid her in the big bed and I snuggled next to her and sang “Five little monkeys sitting in a tree” and “The wheels on the bus” and she was out. No Nap for the win! The tech came in and added the oxygen thing on her nose and plugged everything in. As I couldn’t fit in the crib I was stuck next to her. I slept about two hours total. Since becoming a mom I’ve become a crazy light sleeper. Not a good thing when you have a loud breathing mobile toddler who is trying to strangle herself by rolling over repeatedly. The flashlight from the tech’s iPhone when she came in to re-hook wires pulled out by mobile toddler, didn’t help either. By 5 am we were done and got to un stick all that tape and goo. It was as fun as it sounds.

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And that goo made for the most epic morning hair I’ve ever seen. Truly the photo doesn’t do it justice. We will know in a few weeks what is up with her sleeping, but until then we close the door and try to ignore the lumberjack in the other room.

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Good Pictures Bad Pictures

I don’t normally ask for people to read my blog. Like I don’t think I’ve asked ever. Well I am asking anyone who has kids, knows kids, or generally thinks miniature human beings are worthwhile to read this post.  This post is not about convincing you to buy this book (although I do highly recommend it especially for younger kids) but to add to the conversation about the damage that pornography is inflicting on society as a whole. Not just adults but younger and younger demographics of kids. We aren’t just talking about damaging perceptions of sexuality and relationships, we’re talking physical damage to developing brains. Yikes.

It has been something I’ve been wondering about for a long time: “How do I help my 7 1/2 year old boy be aware of porn (which, statistically, he should be exposed to any minute now despite my best efforts) when he doesn’t really even know the full mechanics of sex.” He’s a farm boy, he gets the general idea I’m sure, but we haven’t had “the talk” about Mommies and Daddies (because we are Christian and believe in abstinence until marriage) and human sexuality. This book was perfect for us, because it doesn’t delve into the specifics of pornography. It was non-threatening and easy to introduce. Please remember that this book is written to be a tool to start a conversation with your kids. It is very simplistic and the framework of “reading about a Mom talking to her son while you have the exact same conversation with your child as you read” might seem odd. For my son it was a great way to approach the topic and start talking about a subject that I’m sure will come up a lot over his adolescent years. And I’m thinking it will be a good fit for my daughters too, when they are old enough…because pornography is an increasingly dangerous thing for little girls too.

The book outlines just enough to let a kid know when they see something that could be pornography without being explicit (people with few or no clothes on especially acting violently towards each other, although they are quick to point out that naked human bodies in a science book is different. I would add that a discussion of art and the human form would be very appropriate here, depending on the values of the given family). It focuses on how it makes the kid feel when they see it: is it embarrassing and exciting at the same time? Does it make them feel icky or curious or both? Then the book discusses how we have two major parts of our brain and how pornography affects one, eliciting a chemical response that can be damaging if triggered repeatedly. Finally it gives an action plan for the child to deal with exposure when (not really an if) they see porn.

I’m not debating the right of this particular industry to exist. I would contend that it is not healthy for anyone of any age but that’s not the reason for this post. My reason for teaching my children about this increasingly prevalent force in society is because as children they are not developed enough to handle pornography. They can’t assimilate those images into their burgeoning world view in a way that wouldn’t grossly damage their sense of their own sexuality, relationship forming in general, and the addictive nature of this beast (and that is another topic unto itself). My reason for writing this is to encourage you to talk to your kids about this too. And its for purely selfish reasons: I need my son to marry a woman who has a healthy relationship with herself as a sexual being. I need her to be able to be in a partnership with him that will allow them both to become better people. I need my daughters to marry men who can be the husbands my girls deserve and the fathers my grandkids deserve. They need men who can live lives free from a devastating addiction and can be strong enough to carry their families through the hard times that will come. Please raise that girl and those boys! I’m begging you!

Kids shouldn’t be the target demographic but they are. If they know anyone with a smart phone they have access and will see it at some point. Our kids deserve to know what they are up against and they should be taught by loving, mature adults who can answer their questions. It is my hope that by having weird, awkward, uncomfortable conversations with my kids when they are young…by the time it actually matters and the stakes are high, they will come to me and my husband. Because even if the conversation is still weird, awkward and uncomfortable they know that they are loved and that it is safe to talk to us. I’m grateful that this book gave me a way to start building that trust now…

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Happy 3.21

That would be three 21st chromosomes. Because that is the magical genetic combination that brought us our Layna Dawn. I’ve written about Down Syndrome a lot but I’m not sure if I’ve ever written about one of the most profound things that my child with Down Syndrome has taught me…are you ready?…prepare to be knocked flat…ok…People with Down Syndrome are actual people. Gasp! I know, right?! At Naomi’s party I didn’t even think to give Layna a turn playing “pin the nose on Flynn Ryder” but that was a mistake. She insisted, not just on being allowed to put a nose on, but on being spun around blind folded. You know, because she was a two year old who would not be left out. In her church class the kids get to take turns picking which song to sing, and I was curious what would happen when they told her it was her turn. Well she hopped right up, picked a song, sang/signed it with everyone and that sat back down in her seat. You know, because she is a professional nursery kid. One day I was doing laundry, moving it from the washer to the dryer, and she came over and wanted to help me. She is now my laundry buddy. You know, because she wants, needs, and deserves to have meaningful work to do. Did I mention she is our expert diaper thow-er away-er? and our scripture reading reminder-er? and all around awesome toddler kid? Because of her I realized that the people asking for money on street corners are people too. Old people, especially the really weird looking ones, are people too. She continues to teach me that people need love, not pity. They need purpose and work to do, not excuses. They need to dance and be silly, and to wear that plaid shirt and polka dot shorts. So here’s to celebrating everyone who could use a little extra chromosome 21 in their lives.

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We didn’t decide to cut her hair because of today, it was just time. I cried.

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Ok so in the spirit of full disclosure I’ll tell you a secret. At first I didn’t want to post the picture on the left. She is making a very “typical Down’s” face. I finally told the voice in my head that said I shouldn’t post it to shut up. I needed to post it because 1) it is the only one I have where you can read her shirt (thanks Grandma and Gramps! its perfect) and 2) who cares if she looks like she is a typical Down’s kid…at least she is in very good company.

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And that whole needing purpose and being able to contribute thing? She doesn’t have any way to understand what is going to happen with her hair. This is more for me. But I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I realized I didn’t have another bald baby on my hands. Layna will help make a small difference for some fellow person out there, just for existing, just for being her own perfect self. And I’m thinking that might just be the story of her life.

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no pictures

Just random musing on death and farming. We discovered that we had another dog attack and lost 12 chickens. Later we found the rabbits. Our buck is alive because he was in a cage but all the rest are dead or very close. That’s the worst part really. It’s not the rigor mortis-ified bodies that you pick up by ears or feet and try not to look at the dirt-covered open eyes. What really gets you are the animals that are still alive but shouldn’t be. Neil dispatched the two chickens who were hurt badly but alive. One had bled from open back wounds so much that when her throat was slit nothing came out. Same with the one who’s legs were so mangled she couldn’t walk, though she did try. Or my three baby rabbits that I put together in a crate so they would at least be warm, even though none of them can move their hind legs and I know I should go check on them to see when they pass but I kind of can’t bring myself to just yet. I would have had Neil dispatch them too but he was late for work as it was and they didn’t seem to be in distress, just tired.

Facebook didn’t disappoint. I got lots of sympathy and condolences and suggestions for run improvement. Honestly, the most helpful comment came from my friend who bought a goat from us. She told me which feed stores were getting in chicks and when. Super close second was the message about dog hell. And that’s the thing about farming and people who get farming. You swear a little bit at all the stupid stuff that life throws you and then move forward because there are other animals to feed, and a garden to water, and a schedule to keep. If you spend too much time moping and wringing your hands you miss the next shipment of chicks. I’m not done with the moping and the crying, by the way. I just have kids to take to gymnastics and that need lunch and I need to go to the grocery store. Death is weird like that. I understand what happened to us is very small compared to the death of a loved one…and yet I still have to change how I do things everyday and make decisions about how to move forward but no one else is affected at all. I hate that life is compelling me to keep going even though all I want to do is go back to sleep for the rest of the day.

It actually reminds me a lot of when Layna was born. I just wanted to sleep because that would mean I wouldn’t have to face Down Syndrome or make decisions or console other people while my heart was being shredded. But I still had a baby to feed. And diapers to change. And other little creatures that needed me to not fall apart. So to summarize: Stupid dogs, going to be crying on and off all day, tomorrow we make decisions about our farm, and right now business as usual everywhere except in my head. So glad the husband guy is coming home early.

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