i'm that mom now

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I'm mostly a work-at-home-mom, but I do a few hours a week at a client's office. Last week, I was coming back from there in my work clothes (sans kids) and stopped at the grocery store. I was in line behind a young mom, likely a first timer. Her baby was about five months old and happily chilling with a squishy toy. Nonetheless, the mom was constantly chattering with her and shaking other toys, trying to distract her from... I'm not sure what. But she was doing the newbie thing where you're afraid a crying fit is always a split second away and you try to head it off instead of the third-time-around mom who seizes any moment of calm to reheat your tea and poo in privacy. 

I suddenly had to fight the urge to tell her "yesssssssss, enjoy this, it goes so quickly." I almost said it! WHAT IS HAPPENING? Like two hours ago, my oldest was born, and moms everywhere infuriated me with that exact phrase everywhere we went. But then you have other kids and you can't enjoy the tiny baby stuff because you are also overjoyed by the toddler milestones and then the writing and the spelling and the reading and the generalized knowing-of-things that amaze you.

How did I blink and switch sides? How was I (almost) the unsolicited advice giver instead of the unsolicited advice receiver?

It does go fast, darn it. Google Photos has this hideously charming feature where it automates a video every few months of your kids and sends you a link to watch a video they set to sappy music and call "They Grow So Fast."  HUSH IT, GOOGLE, I ALREADY KNOW! 

Sigh.

I'm potty training Lil Man right now (I mean, he's not participating in any way, but you know, we sit him on the toilet several times a day) -- and I'm recognizing that it does change. I will be the mom who can take my kids to an amusement park and have fun. I will be able to play a board game with my children that I also enjoy. I will someday proofread an essay! I cannot WAIT for that. But I also want to remind myself to "enjoy this while it lasts, it goes fast." 

I will kiss that tiny chin. I will sniff that bummie to see if it needs clean pants. I will smoosh those cheeks. I will build Legos endlessly. I will play Star Wars for 6,974 hours a day. I will hot glue the heck of out the Lincoln Memorial model my second grader is making.

I will enjoy this beautiful mess. It does go fast! They were all right. All those moms at the grocery store, grandmas at WalMart... Annoying but right.



             

Circling Jericho

Today is my son's 999th day in foster care. You might think I'm kidding, but I have an online calendar running. 1,000 days tomorrow since we became his "resource parents," as the state says.

I was eight days behind on my kids' advent calendar (A Jesse Tree handmade by a dear friend of mine that traces the lineage of Christ), so this morning was the story of Joshua.

I'm sitting at my kitchen table, stressing about testifying in court.... all the while, reading and I'm telling my kids about how the Israelites were in the same situation!  (Ok, not the same, but keep reading.) They were facing a problem (Jericho) with an obvious solution from a human perspective, but GOD told them to use His way instead.

His way was six long days, silently marching... boring, plodding along in what seemed like purposeless steps -- walking in circles.  And then on the last day, MORE CIRCLES!

But the children of Israel (for once?) obeyed. On the seventh day, after all their circling, He showed them TODAY IS THE DAY I HAVE PICKED. He said NOW SHOUT, and they SHOUTED! It was HIS PLAN IN HIS TIMING.

So as hard as today was, and as much as I wanted conclusion/closure/an answer, I need you to know that I was eight days behind on my advent calendar that a friend made me four years ago so that God could encourage me that WALKING IN CIRCLES can be part of His plan.

So here we go.

Sing Vanessa Carlton with me... You know I'd walk a thousand miles... in circles.



             

education of the future?

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I'm reading a novel right now (as a potential comp for my work-in-progress). I'll be honest, it's not my favorite. It's called The Last Christian. It's a futuristic story of a woman who grew up sheltered as a missionary kid in the jungle of Papua New Guinea and then comes "home" to an America that's entirely nutty with technology (people are having transplants to silicon brains to extend their lives perpetually) and religion is literally extinct.

I think I actually made that sound better than the book does. (Mean, Kelley.)

The only thing that I've really enjoyed in the book is a brief conversation where the author imagines what education looks like a hundred or so years in the future. A college professor is describing how his tests work. Essentially, he covers material and then his students write a series of insightful questions. That's it. He grades their questions. Why? Because the idea is that facts are dying, even dead. Everyone has instant access to essentially every piece of data mankind has recorded from their computer or smartphone NOW. So in a hundred years, the author imagines, everyone has the access via a neural/visual implant. So what's the point of really "knowing" anything? Why know the names of the states or the order of the presidents or the year of a historical event or how to multiply two-digit numbers if you can find the answer immediately? Essentially you already "know" anything and everything that's available on the internet.  The idea is that the most important skill for students is to learn HOW to find information effectively and HOW to phrase questions in a way that leads them to draw conclusions and extrapolate FROM facts.

Maybe this isn't new to people in the education field, but I loved it. Kids (and everyone for that matter) must learn that facts are not 100% truth. "The truth" is too easy to manipulate -- take the wrong single sentence from my writing and I'm a very different person than the sum of all my writings would honestly indicate. (Poor George Washington. Poor Thomas Jefferson. Poor Ben Franklin.)

Teaching children HOW to determine what they believe and HOW to find the answers to their questions seems much more important as information/facts/data become more and more available with less and less effort. 

And trivia games will be way less fun once Jarvis is in my competitors' heads.



             

I will not go back to Egypt

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Bible study prep for tonight was so good for me. We're studying Hebrews, and this week, looking at chapters 5 and 6. Hebrews is all about the supremacy of Christ, but there are so many Old Testament connections. The author of the study book (Matthew Capps) noted, "Many have experienced the blessings of the new covenant yet spiritually 'turn back to Egypt.'" Oh man! That's totally me.

I can sit here in 2017 and look down on the lack of faith exhibited by the children of Israel. They wandered around after refusing to enter the Promised Land, and had the nerve to say that they wished they were back in Egypt!  [Me: Looks down nose at them.] But, honestly, here I am, wishing in my own way to go back to Egypt. [Me: Looks down nose at me.]

For me, Egypt is sulking. Egypt is being angry. Egypt is shaking my fist and self-righteously saying I know best.  Egypt is telling God that his plan is slow and kind of crappy.

In Hebrews (as most of the Bible), Egypt represents being out of God's will. It is a place where the Israelites experienced no freedom. Yet, every time I experience a setback in my life (as was the case this week), I am tempted to turn around. Run back to the familiar. Swim the Red Sea I once saw parted by the mighty hand of God. Go back to carrying my bricks, mixing mud, and suffering under the hard taskmaster of my terrible attitude.

The challenge is to press forward and keep wandering. If wandering is the plan for now, then wandering is exactly where I'm supposed to be. Not to be all JRR Tolkien on you, but "not all who wander are lost." Maybe there is a design in the wandering... I have previously blogged about being in the wilderness, and today's lesson was such a good reminder that the wilderness is ok. Manna is ok. Great, in fact. Fulfilling. I need to remember that the temptation to 'go back to Egypt' is a lie -- there is no peace, no happiness, no freedom, in returning to my old ways. 

Lord, help me press on in faith! I will not return to Egypt.



             

god is in the small things

I was really upset about my son's blanket getting lost the other day. It was a big deal, only it wasn't. Except it really was. It matters because he matters. I shared my trouble with my sister-in-law who grabbed her golden lasso and laced up her boots to save the day. What a blessing this woman is to me!

I will let these images speak for themselves. (Sorry for all the blurring to protect identities.)

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So she posts this to a mama group. Eight minutes later, a woman who told us later she hadn't been on the group in months "happened" to click to see what was up. And the exact blanket was in her closet!

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So she's sending it for free. Made my night! And then a half hour later, we found out we're getting a back up because another mama (who's also a foster mama) is sending me one, too! 

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So just when I was having that moment where I feel like I'm the only person who cares for this sweet child that other see as a mountain of paperwork, God reminds me through the kindness of strangers that this kid is precious to Him. 

Always in God's hand. 



             

why i love early intervention

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Are there other moms out there who have been blessed by Early Intervention? It's been awesome for us. We've had three different "types" of therapists over the last three years -- physical therapy (PT), speech therapy, and occupational therapy (OT).

(Occupational therapy, according to kidshealth.org, helps kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. I define this because I had to ask when someone suggested it.)

In Pennsylvania, Early Intervention is a free service -- yes, free -- offered through the county that comes to your house -- yes, to your house -- to offer professional services to kids under age 3.  For someone who already drives to a lot of appointments, it's life-changing. All you have to do is be home (and dressed).

EI therapists work with your life.  They're in your house, so the therapist might include playing with the dog to get your kid to move around. They might include looking in your snack cabinet to get them to talk. Our therapists play in our backyard, look at our flowers, follow lil man up and down our stairs. Obviously, a kid will be most comfortable on his own turf. So the best results we've gotten have all been from familiar toys and familiar spaces. (And without me having to entertain anyone in a waiting room beforehand!)

EI works with the parent. I constantly joke to our visitors that they are really there to coach me. They aren't trying to get their little patient to make the complicated "z" sound in a single hour. They are teaching ME as the mom how to get my kid to make the complicated "z" sound over the next two weeks.  They are smart enough to recognize that an hour every week or every two weeks isn't going to cut it -- you as the parent are there 24/7. So their job is to help you do what you do (parenting) in the best way possible to help your kid get more experience in overcoming whatever their difficulty is.

Since we had three different therapists (from three different providers), you might think there would be confusion. But no! Because wait, there's more! You also get a great case manager! This wonderful gal calls me to get updates on progress and comes (again, to my house) every few months to do a check-in and see what else they can offer. We set goals, and then we actually meet them! I really can't put into words the feeling when you once made a goal of your child turning their head equally on both sides to offset NICU neck and then you blink and you're checking OFF a goal that says your child is putting together 3-4 word sentences. What a change! 

These therapists make me a better mom. It's idea after idea and tip after tip. On any given day, we're sitting, eating lunch, while our therapist talks casually and offers suggestions that fit the moment. "He might be having trouble feeling that in his mouth since it's room temperature, maybe add something crunchy." Boom.  "That might be easier for him with increased lung capacity; why don't you get some feathers or some pom-poms and make a game of him blowing them across the table?" Boom. [Side note, funniest game over if you're willing to wipe up a lot of spittle afterwards.]

Those are just two examples of a thousand suggestions that have been game-changers for us.  These awesome women have helped with a wild and amazing transformation.