2020: Homeschooling, A Newborn, And a Season to Remember

I didn’t want to homeschool my kids. I was about 4 months pregnant when Covid hit. Of course like most of the world, in March 2020, I thought it was something that would blow over and my plan for the rest of 2020 would still come to be. I was going to have a new baby to bond with while my two older kids were at school. I had a plan to really make a home. I had plans to have more time to blog and write. I had so many ideas and plans and excitement. And it took being home all of the time to completely throw off those plans. Very ironic. And the plan started changing in just three weeks.

Three weeks of virtual learning was all it took to know that the next school year would be different. Understand, that my son hit the kindergarten lottery jackpot! His teacher was amazing all year long. Unfortunately, in those three weeks of virtual learning, my boy’s penmanship declined significantly and his frustration increased. Understandable, because all of our frustrations were increased. And of course it wasn’t the teacher’s fault. It was a new process for everyone. 

With this new process came a lot of questions. How long will virtual learning last? Will my kids be forced to wear masks at school? How will their learning be affected? I felt right away that the decision to homeschool was on the table. And, to be honest, I wasn’t super thrilled about it. Now, we are here one year later and the school year has been stressful for kids, parents, teachers, administrators. EVERYONE. I am convinced that next year the majority of schools will be playing catch up, and with classrooms of 20+ students I know it is not what is best for my kids. So the decision for alternate schooling is on the table once again.

Alternate schooling, I say, but understand I support teachers and I support all you moms trying to make the best decision you can, whether working mom or not. I would never push this on anyone. This was my first attempt at homeschooling, and frankly, almost every day I found a reason to think it stunk. I made mistakes, but it was one incredible journey.

My first mistake was going off curriculum recommendations alone and not taking the time to see if it was a good fit for me and my kids. Also, I am a very disorganized person. Trying to keep a baby alive and stick to a detailed lesson plan every single day was just not going to happen. There were days where tears were shed by the children and myself. I wondered if part of it can be traced back to all of the late nights of math homework in high school. I just never got it. There were days when I felt like the same teenage girl feeling stupid and incapable. I wanted to take my college degrees and fling them into the desert, because I felt they meant nothing. During this homeschool year, it didn’t matter how much positive feedback and encouragement I received from all who were close to me. I refused to believe I was doing a good job. I heard the “Cut yourself some slack” or “Give yourself some grace” statements at nauseum and wanted to punch people in the face. I was convinced that even though I had dotted i’s and crossed t’s and had file folders full of exceptional work completed by my kiddos, that the state would come and take my kids away from me.

And then, with a month left in the school year, my daughter revealed that she liked being home, because mommy and daddy explain things way better than her teachers. Say what?! After all this time, it’s going to be okay? All of the hard work going back and forth between 1st grade, 3rd grade, nursing, cooking, cleaning, etc. It has all paid off? How?!

I will tell you how. God. At the end of the day, it has to be God. There is no other explanation. I can in no way toot my own horn. It was God’s strength all along. I didn’t seek God every day. I felt depressed almost all of the time. Challenges and trials abounded. Even in the middle of preparing this blog, I am trying to keep the baby from crawling over to the cat and biting his furry tale. (Our cat is weird and just takes it without fighting back, but I still discourage the baby bites). A few minutes ago, my son went outside to play and as he was going out the door called to me, “Bye, mama! Have fun helping Jimmy and cleaning up his poop. Have fun getting him to sleep.” I pause. I know it was an innocent remark. I try to hide the tears welling up. The door shuts and the ugly cry floodgates open. I throw my phone on the ground, it startles the baby in my arms, and he starts screaming. I quickly commence with the “Shh, shh, I’m sorry, baby” through fits of anguish almost hyperventilation. God is still with me.

And now, strangely, here I am excited about homeschooling my children next year. Happy with what the past year has taught me. Happy with the time I had with my family. Happy, in the midst of a closet full of spit-up stained shirts, and almost going a full year without writing a single word.

The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬4 KJV)

I have discovered that it just was not a season to write, but a season to remember.

Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfolds

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes, of my childhood
In fond memory appears

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness, of the midnight
Precious sacred scenes unfold

Gestational Diabetes: What to Expect, What to Eat, and Sweet Tooth Confessions

When I was growing up, my parents gave us kids nicknames based on the foods we loved most. My eldest brother loved meat, so they called him Carno. My second eldest brother loved bread, so they called him Carbo. Me, their baby girl, could never get enough sweets, so they named me Sucro. With a name like Sucro, obviously my diagnosis of gestational diabetes was not welcome at all. After pricking my fingers 4 times a day for two months now, I have to say it’s getting old. I don’t deny that it is a learning experience for me and my initial melodramatic reaction of seeing it as a “death sentence” was really not necessary.

Just like all pregnancies are not created equal, the same goes for diagnoses for gestational diabetes. Some women have to go on very strict diets and check their blood sugar one hour after every meal, including snacks. Others, like me, are asked to keep their fasting blood sugars under control, meaning that the glucometer has to read below 90 first thing in the morning. Also, sugars and food intake need to be monitored and documented two hours after every meal. The acceptable range of blood sugar for a pregnant woman ranges between 80-120 on a glucometer. I have been pretty successful keeping the numbers under control by changing my diet and the doctor prescribed me glyburide to take at night for my fasting numbers. I am on a low dose of glyburide myself, but other cases need a higher dose of medication. I have also observed how GD has affected two of my sisters-in-law with their pregnancies and it is not easy to adapt.

What has been the hardest thing? I’d have to say the change to my breakfast routine. I had already cut out caffeine from my coffee, which came with caffeine withdrawal headaches for about a month. Now I have to use Stevia instead of my favorite sweet coffee creamer and I am not a fan of the taste. I also really love cereal, and even the cereals labeled “healthy” have the tendency to spike my blood sugar. I would describe my diet as a moderate marriage between the Keto diet and the Atkins diet. Carbs aren’t necessarily omitted, but limited. Here is an outline of my meals that I have more or less counted on for this pregnancy:

Breakfast: Eggs paired with breakfast sausage or bacon, sometimes with zucchini or bell peppers and/or cheddar cheese.

Lunch: Chicken salad with light mayo and red grapes on fresh spinach leaves. I bake chicken breasts at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes and then shred it in the Kitchen Aid mixer.

Low-carb tortilla with refried beans and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

Sandwiches on whole wheat toast.

Dinner: I stay flexible at dinnertime. I usually stick to chicken, steak or fish dishes, but if it is a heavy carbohydrate meal, I serve myself a small portion and pair it with either fruit, vegetables or protein to keeps my numbers balanced.

What about snacks, you ask? On one follow-up with my doctor I had lost weight since I changed my diet. She asked if I had been skipping meals. A necessary question, sure, but I wanted to break down and sob right in front of her and say “Nooooo. I am ALWAYS hungry.” My snack routine is an alternation of fruit and Atkins products between meals. The main craving I have had this pregnancy is apples. I haven’t been without them at all. I sometimes dip them in peanut butter, but I use the natural Laura Scudder’s peanut butter, because it is just one ingredient; peanuts. I eat plain yogurt (which by itself, tastes like death), but when I add Stevia and strawberries it is tolerable. The Atkins shakes and bars have low carb counts and low sugar counts. I never thought I would find bars with these kind of nutrition facts that didn’t have the gelatinous grossness that is the power bar aftertaste, but these bars are game changers. They satisfy my sweet tooth, keep my sugars under control and I don’t get hangry. My favorite flavors of Atkins bars are the peanut butter, lemon, and cookies n cream. Keep in mind, this is what has worked for me. If you have gestational diabetes, talk to your doctor about what your diet needs to look like.

Are you allowed cheat meals when you have gestational diabetes? Again, it depends on your case. We are all human and pregnancy is hard. It is not just an old wives tale that we crave things that are bad for us. This year was my 13th wedding anniversary, and we badly wanted to celebrate. We got Olive Garden take-out and I had two breadsticks with my soup and salad. It was not a banquet, by any means, but I was worried about it. Thankfully it didn’t do anything to my numbers. Also, the dolcini desserts were the perfect end to a special celebration. I had a few bites and even shared some with my kids. It was a small, sweet treat. As long as your cheat meal doesn’t turn into a cheat week, don’t beat yourself up over a morsel when you have been eating salads all week. Guilt and stress over food intake could be far more harmful than a tiny indulgence.

Eating too much sugar and carbs is not always responsible for blood sugar spikes. A few weeks ago, the doctor was concerned about what the ultrasound was showing. She said my baby was measuring small and that early delivery is very likely. She wanted to be cautious and had me take two steroid shots that are meant to mature the baby’s lungs in case of pre-term labor. What she failed to mention was that these steroid shots have a history of spiking blood sugar. Imagine my horror at a reading of 190 after a healthy dinner of beans and vegetables. I even pushed myself to go 15 minutes on my elliptical machine that evening. Pair that with the uncertainty of a healthy delivery, and you get one worried mama. This was over 4th of July weekend, so the OB office was closed. I made a phone call to Labor & Delivery at the hospital and they put my mind at ease. On my next visit, when my doctor saw my logs, she remarked, “Oh I suppose I should have warned you about the steroids.” Ya think?

I have also heard that stress can be a cause for high blood sugar numbers. Stress can come when you’re pregnant. You’re going through a lot. We are growing a human being, we are going to be responsible for keeping this human being alive, and when you have gestational diabetes, the pressure to stay healthy, thinking about baby “what-ifs”, and stick that all in the middle of a global pandemic, yeah, stress is likely. Exercise after meals helps keep your blood sugar down also, but to be honest with you all, (and cringing over potential judgment) I haven’t really committed to daily exercise. At the beginning, I tried to take walks after dinner, but this month we are in the middle of a heat wave in New Mexico, and I can’t seem to get passed 10 minutes on the elliptical machine. In this eighth month of pregnancy I’m slowing down big time.

At my last visit to the doctor, I eyed the vending machine and I have plans to tell my husband to just buy me everything in there once baby makes his appearance. Stay calm, I’m exaggerating. I told my son and daughter about it and the concept of buying an entire vending machine sounded glorious to them, and they obviously didn’t catch that it was hyperbole. It hasn’t stopped them from telling all of our family members and friends that I am getting a vending machine when baby comes. If you have an active lifestyle and this is easy for you, that is awesome, and I applaud you super healthy rock stars. If you aren’t used to this kind of routine, remember to breathe and don’t freak out. The glucose test comes late in the pregnancy and it really is a blip on the pregnancy journey. It is a very short time for you to make adjustments to your lifestyle. If Sucro can do it, so can you.

Pandemic Pregnancy: Fear and Gestational Diabetes Included

First of all, baby is healthy and baby is a boy. Pregnancy number 3 sure has been different. I never thought that prior to each doctor’s appointment I would receive a call from a medical assistant reminding me to wear a mask. I never thought that I would have to be alone in an ultrasound room, sharing the sex of the baby with my husband through a splotchy video call. This pandemic has certainly taught me two things. One, life as we know it is so precious, and two, the spirit of fear is very, very real.

My baby is due in August, and people, (by people I mean the media) are already trying to tell me that I need to be scared, since I am a pregnant woman during a nationwide pandemic. Because of my careless Google searching for baby this and baby that, my Facebook, Youtube, and other Internet outlets are flooded with news articles that claim to meet my personal situation. I am bombarded with stories about babies infected with Covid-19 separated from their mothers, stories about cases on the rise in newborns, and how dangerously susceptible pregnant women are to Covid-19. I never click on any of these links. I didn’t want to believe any of it, and I certainly didn’t want it to start effecting my mental health. My mental health, by the way, was already very shaky, because I was already thinking about the future. Will my husband be allowed in the delivery room? Will I have to be separated from my family if someone in the hospital infects me? What is my trip to the hospital going to look like this time around? Are my doctors keeping things from me? Are people at the grocery store judging me when they see a pregnant woman remove her mask for a breath of fresh air? It’s a rabbit hole, right. And once you go down the rabbit hole, you forget to turn off the anxiety, think positive, and focus on the good. I honestly don’t think it is just me. You don’t need to be a pregnant woman for these fears to invade you.

For these past three months, I don’t think anyone who has an addiction to social media, yes I am confessing my addiction, can be considered mentally healthy. The fear and the depressing news is everywhere. I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone, to keep me from checking it. I honestly didn’t think that the “long way” of having to go to a browser and type in the website and manually login all of my information would keep me from succumbing to my addiction, but lo and behold, it did. Not having that simple little button on my phone, made me realize how my muscle memory has developed and solidified a very unhealthy dependence on that little blue lowercase f.

One new thing that has happened during this pregnancy is that I failed my one-hour glucose test for the first time. For those of you who don’t know how much a pregnant woman dreads a 3-hour glucose test, here is what happens: They give you a drink that is very high in sugar that tastes like a super syrupy orange soda. You have 5 minutes to chug it, then they take your blood at the top of the hour for three hours. The purpose is to determine if you have gestational diabetes. I am very thankful for the technical age that we live in, because, I was able to have my headphones and Netflix while I waited for them to take my blood. At the lab, they set up a room to put all the pregnant women in, so we wouldn’t be exposed to other patients needing lab work. All the chairs were six-feet apart and we all had masks. I knew that some women were only there for the one hour, so as an hour went by, I noticed that we all still had our masks on. I remember thinking, “we really should take a break or something,” but I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or make anyone feel uncomfortable. I had taken a breath every now and then and I even took a bathroom break to remove my mask. After 2 hours, the two ladies that remained in the room with me were just hunched and I could feel the room still shrouded in the spirit of fear. I couldn’t take it anymore, I removed my mask and said, “Ladies! Please, if you need to take off your mask, please do so. You will not offend me. We are pregnant. We need to breathe!” To my astonishment, they looked up at me, smiled (smiling eyes, that is) and said a very grateful, “Okay.” This whole time, we all may have been trying to not offend people, or were afraid we would get reprimanded or kicked out for desperately wanting to breathe. Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? Breathing for a pregnant woman is kind of important. My successful soapbox moment really clued me in to how easy it is to give in to how social posts, the news, and so called “experts” say you should handle yourself during a pandemic. I am by no means an expert, and I’m not about to tell someone who has health problems to shed their masks and to not be afraid. I just think that fear is the driving force behind a lot of people’s mental health and I don’t support those who manipulate people’s fears for their own benefit.

Before my one-hour glucose test all of my doctor’s visits were pretty standard. I didn’t really like all of the labels, like “high risk” or “geriatric pregnancy”. It felt like they labeled me naive as if this was my first pregnancy. Perhaps with the Covid-19 situation, maybe everything doctors know about geriatric pregnancies could be amplified in a pandemic setting. I wish they would just tell me instead of just expressing their “I’m the doctor” attitude. It is probably also true that doctors have their own personal problems, and they are more exposed to this than anyone, so they might be going down a rabbit hole of thoughts themselves. It’s their job after all to look after their patients, but isn’t there anything they can do to come off a little less insulting to a woman who has already had two children?

After my 3-hour glucose test I was told that I passed, but barely, so they recommended I monitor my blood sugar for two weeks. After those two weeks, I discovered that there had been disagreement between doctors. One said I barely passed and didn’t have GD, but another said that I did have gestational diabetes. I was not happy to be told different information and that not everyone was on the same page. Heck, I even spoke to the diabetic nutrition nurse and she said my levels looked pretty good when I was monitoring for two weeks. So, I was under the impression that everything was okay. So, cut to now…the air has cleared and, yes, I have to poke myself and draw blood four times a day, because the doctors are mainly concerned about my sugar levels first thing in the morning and I do “officially” have GD.

What is so hard to think about right now, is that because of my GD diagnosis, I have been scheduled for weekly ultrasounds and husband isn’t allowed to accompany me to any of them. As a woman who has miscarried I always hold my breath begging for that heartbeat sound to quickly make itself known. It pains me to say that that fear still grips me, even if I hang onto my mustard-seed faith. It is a very quelling feeling not having my husband with me holding my hand. making me forget that I am in a doctor’s office during a pandemic, scared and unaware of the future. I worry when I’m not pregnant and worry now that I am pregnant, and technology continues to blitz my emotions with so many things that tell me to embrace the worry surrounding my health and my new  baby. Fear is reigning supreme and it needs to stop. Pregnancy comes with hormonal changes, mental mood swings, aches, pains, fatigue, to just name a few, so the last thing a pregnant woman needs is a daily (and if you have a Facebook account, hourly) reminder that sickness is everywhere. 

I think about the woman who pushed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. She was sick for 12 years, spent all of her money on treatments, and nothing worked. How many diagnoses was she given? How was she treated by doctors? Did she hear terms like “lost soul” “unclean” “high risk” every time she met with a new doctor? She was unclean for 12 years. That means 12 years of social distancing (including isolation from all of her family), 12 years of longing to be cleansed from the bleeding, 12 years of living in fear. And then it all changed. She heard about Jesus, and in her desperation, she broke the law, pushed through the crowd, (probably under the gaze of judgmental and horrified eyes) and as her fingertips caressed the fringe of Jesus’ clothes, she was miraculously healed. And what happened after she was healed? Did she run to a husband, a child, or her mother and jump into their arms with joy? Did she scream at the top of her lungs how she was healed by the power of Jesus? Did she start a bonfire with all of her unclean garments that evening and dance and praise before the Lord? I like to think that after this pandemic is over that the world will celebrate in a way like this. I am hopeful that once it ends there won’t be blame or malice, (at least for a day). I pray that it won’t turn into another Black Friday, where the memory of lives lost to Covid turns into a “holiday” weekend where we will stampede into stores to buy the junk we just proved we don’t need. I hope that instead, millions will show gratitude for the lessons this pandemic held, like what is really important in our lives. Not professional sports, not movies, not politics, not the every day grind of making a buck. May there just be relief and peace followed by joyous family reunions and a multitude of us turning to Jesus in humility and praise.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
Luke 8:42‭-‬44 NIV

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 MSG

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Matthew 6:27 NLT

Family Quarantine Activities

Are you running out of activities? Are you and your kids going stir-crazy? I thought I would share what my family and I have been doing during the past few weeks. I hope it helps you with some ideas to fight the boredom and engage your kids. To clarify, we have not officially begun any distance learning with the schools yet. The schools did send over packets of things for my kids to do that include: Color by Number Math, Weekly Readers, and Sentence Practice sheets etc. Since our schools will be closed for the duration of the school year, we are expecting more structured learning to begin soon. Last week I did not stress about school work, because technically it was supposed to be their spring break. So, in no particular order, here are some things we have done so far:

1) Reading. My kids both love to read, so they usually read books every day without prompting. My almost 8-year-old daughter loves me to read her Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books out loud. I finished a real quick-read chapter book, Bunnicula right before the stay-at-home order. She loved it. My 5-year-old son has really come along on his reading. We alternate reading from a stack of books. The library here is closed, and we had books checked out. The library won’t hold us to any fees, so the kids are excited to keep the books for longer than 3 weeks.

Chalk-Your-Walk: We took a walk around our neighborhood and drew random hop-scotch boards, scriptures, and messages to spread positivity.

Cooking: I taught my kids how to measure out the ingredients to make Jell-O and pudding. It was quick and easy and it helped them learn about exact measurements and to practice stirring ingredients at a reasonable pace. We also made chocolate chip cookies. They have helped me before, but I gave them more freedom to follow each step. The kids enjoyed having more responsibility and the cookies turned out delicious!

Science: Together as a family, we made a paper-maché volcano together that really erupted and a very easy DIY lava lamp. The links for the volcano and the lava lamp are below. My daughter is really interested in the stars and the planets, so she started asking about the solar system. I was surprised that she, along with my husband and other family members never heard the acronym that I learned in school. Mercury (My) Venus (Very) Earth (Educated) Mars (Mother) Jupiter (Just) Saturn (Served) Uranus (Us) Neptune (Nine) Pluto (Pizza Pies). We sang it to the tune of Swany River. When we have a clear night sky, we will teach her more about constellations. If you are able to, pitch a tent in your backyard and have a campout under the stars.

Paper Maché Volcano

Lava Lamp.

Card Games & Board Games: I taught my kids how to play Crazy 8’s and 7’s. They also enjoy “Go Fish”. Some of our family favorite games are Apples to Apples, Yahtzee, and Candyland. We have the Disney version of Apples to Apples also, which makes it easier for younger kiddos to play along. Play charades. Play playground games like, “Red Light, Green Light” “Hokey-Pokey” or “Mother, May I?” Have you played all of the games you have? Have the kids make a new one.

Crazy Eights

The Ha Ha Game: the first person says, “Ha.” Next person says “Ha ha” Next person says “Ha ha ha”. Go back and forth adding a “Ha” each time until someone cannot control their laughter.

Going on a Picnic Game: Everyone takes a turn choosing something to bring on a picnic, but it has to be in alphabetical order. For example, the first person could say “Apples”, the next person can say “bananas”, etc. And try to make it through the whole alphabet.

“What are you Doing?” Game: I learned this game in my high school theatre class and it is a hit with young ones. One person starts by acting out something, almost like charades. It doesn’t have to be anything specific, just some kind of movement. The next person comes up and asks. “What are you doing?” The actor then tells them something they are NOT doing. The more creative and silly they get the more fun the game is. For example, they can say, “I’m sizzling like bacon,” or “I am dancing the Can-Can.” Then the person who asked, has to act out what the person says they are doing.

Zoo Virtual Tours and Live Cameras: We watched live streams from the Cincinnati Zoo and Georgia Zoo and even discovered some educational videos where we got to see animals up close.

Geography: States and Capitals. We have a United States puzzle at home that includes all of the capitals underneath the pieces, and if your kids are the same age as mine, it is not too early. It was even a good refresher for me, so it could really be a great activity for any age. I quizzed my kids afterward and awarded them with Skittles to motivate them.

Bear Hunt: This is a popular trend going on in the US right now. Neighborhoods are placing teddy bears in their house windows, so families who are walking will find them on a “bear hunt”. I had each of my kids put as many stuffed bears as they wanted in their window. They got a kick out of it.

Car Scavenger Hunt: Go for a drive and make a checklist of things for your kids to look for. Items like traffic cones, people walking a dog, a motorcycle, etc.

Chores: If you’re like me, you may have a bad habit of having an “I’ll do it myself” attitude, or “fixing” what your kids already cleaned. It is a good idea to resist this, because the kids need to have the skills to do basic chores. I’ll admit I am not the kind of mom that makes sure beds are made with perfectly creased sheets, heck, I don’t even own an ironing board. If I did, it would probably be used as a motorway for my son’s Hot Wheels. So, yeah, chores are not a big priority, but I admit it is time to get my kids to start helping around the house more.

Letters: Let’s not let snail mail go extinct. Most mailboxes this month are filled with ads, tax information, and bills. Add some sparkle to someone’s trip to the mailbox and surprise them with a letter from you or your kids.

Virtual Social Calls: Do you have family or friends that you only see during the holidays? Don’t let the social distancing take over completely. Initiate video calls with old friends, cousins, whomever!

Nature Walk: There are fields of poppies at the base of our mountains. We drove out there and walked along a trail. It was good to have some fresh air and the kids and I thought it was just beautiful.

Get to Know Your Kids: If you don’t know all of your kids favorites, take the time to find out now. If you want to go a few steps further, turn questions into journal prompts to help with writing. For example, “What would you do with $100?” “If you could have a wild animal for a pet, what would it be?” The “Would You Rather Game” is a good way to get to know your kids also.

Music Education: I have mentioned in the past that my music taste is incredibly random, but being a mom I always end up turning on Disney songs and Baby Shark type songs to entertain my kids. If you are sick of those repetitive kids songs that stick in your head long after the kids are in bed, see if there is some different songs that your kids would like. See how they react to classical music. One particular day, I just needed something different. I realized there were so many music genres that my kids are not familiar with. I put on a playlist I made of 40s music. The kids enjoyed it and it even made up little dances to the swinging, big band sound. And, of course, have dance parties!

Art Etc: My mother was a First Grade teacher for many years. One of the favorite activities were “Squiggles”. You start by drawing a random squiggle or shape on a piece of drawing paper. Have the kids transform the shapes into a picture all their own and/or write a sentence/story about it.

Find rocks and paint them. There are a lots of free print-out coloring pages online also.

Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Take a bubble bath or paint your nails. Let your daughter paint them, no matter if she is 3 or 13. It is a wonderful bonding activity.

Finally, it is okay to let your kids get bored. Do NOT! I repeat, DO NOT try to entertain your kids 24/7. You’re going to exhaust yourself. Let them play on their own and their creativity will grow. Playtime has benefits, even if you don’t necessarily see any evidence of it. Don’t be afraid to initiate quiet time, even if you have a wide age range of kiddos. Quiet time is always a good idea. I don’t know about you all, but I am hoping to have at least another week left in me, before I go cuckoo. I know this is hard, and I am not pretending that I have all the answers. We will get through this. Praying you all have a wonderful April.

A New Blessing

I have been holding it in for a long while, but I can finally tell the world of Word Press that this mama is expecting baby number three. A few days before Christmas day I saw those two beautiful pink lines that confirmed what I had been hoping for for the past 2 1/2 years.

2 1/2 years of trying for a third child felt like an eternity, being that our first two kids were conceived quite quickly. I started doing research after about a year, wondering if I was stressing too much, if I had to change my diet, or if it was too late. I was creeping closer to the age of 40 and the stereotypes haunted me. And since I have had two miscarriages, the scenarios of hopelessness in my head were elevated. A mother can move on and be at peace after a miscarriage, but no amount of time and grief will keep an expectant mother from worrying that another miscarriage could happen. We moms hold a piece of the experience forever. I thought I miscarried before this pregnancy was confirmed. I wrote my Angel’s Await poem around this time, because mom’s who have gone through miscarriage were heavy on my heart. For awhile I was so paranoid that I thought I was going through early menopause. I had zero symptoms, but I believed it, thanks to the first search engine hit on the Internet. Normally, I don’t take much stock in the information the Internet has to offer, but I still gave into all the doom and gloom I was seeing about infertility after 2 kids etc. So…yeah, don’t do that! However, after a year when I was going through some difficult stages with my two kids, I thanked God for not answering my prayer. I knew we weren’t ready, and I knew God had a plan.

This pregnancy resembles my two others, but it has also come with some new things. My first pregnancy, I was sick the whole first month, and after that it was easy, other than the occasional struggle with constipation. Jonny was easier, except when he kicked, he kicked HARD. When I was pregnant with Becky I craved lemon, having never cared for lemon in my life. When I was pregnant with Jonny the same thing happened with cucumbers. Unfortunately, I also lost my taste for bananas and cannot stand the smell of them to this day. So far, in this pregnancy, there are no strange cravings to report. During the first trimester, nausea only came at night. Right around dinner time, food of ANY kind sounded absolutely repulsive to me. Sometimes I had to leave the room after dinner was cooked, and I was able to come back and eat with no problem. Other times, I would just stare at my plate, trying to get the taste of the food, (I hadn’t even eaten), out of my mouth. With every gag, and every wave of nausea I used it as an opportunity to praise God. A third child was a great desire in our heart that we prayed for, our family prayed for, and our friends prayed for.

February was a difficult month, because it came with a lot of guilt for not keeping up with my writing. After all, I’m always home. I certainly had the time, but the smallest things would leave me exhausted. Every time I came home after dropping the kids off at school I would come home and collapse into the sofa. Part of it was the pregnancy taking my energy, and the other was that my cat, Alvin always looks up at me with those beautiful green eyes beckoning me to cuddle on the couch with him. I felt lazy. I felt pathetic. Thankfully, another writer friend of mine told me, “Just accept the season that you’re in and don’t beat yourself up about it.” She is so right!

I admire other women who have gone through pregnancies MUCH harder than mine. I know there are ladies out there right now, in their third trimester, still throwing up and struggling to keep nutrients absorbed into their body. I know there are ladies out there on bed rest, because of complications. I know there are ladies out there praying for their pre-mature babies to make it through the night. So, me writing about an easy pregnancy when others have it so much harder, is kind of obnoxious.

To the mamas, like me, who are getting older and are worried when their doctor claims that they are “high risk”, I know that it is easy to let that discourage you. And during this coronavirus craziness, it is only natural for us expecting moms to be more on edge. After all, women over the age of 40 give birth to happy and healthy babies all the time. I pray for the safety of this world every morning and I pray for blessings for mothers everywhere.

Children are a gift from the Lord ; they are a reward from him.
Psalms 127:3 NLT

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him…Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:12;17 NIV