Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fun Astronomy Activity

We have been discussing Astrology in our classroom this week.  The kids have pretty much loved every minute of it.  Last fall, we took the kids to the homeschool day at NASA (see here).  That trip sealed the deal with their love for all things space related.

One of the activities in my son's 4th grade science book (ABEKA - Understanding God's World) was to make several small holes in two sheets of paper.  One sheet was white and the other sheet of paper was black.  Then you hold the sheets of paper up to the sun (one at a time), observing how the light shines through the holes.  With the white paper, the holes (or stars) are not as brilliant.  When we held up the black paper the stars were really bright.

This was our main discussion point:  Why do we only see stars at night?

During the daytime, the earth's atmosphere scatters the light from the sun.  This scattering makes the sky appear blue and it also makes the sky so bright that that we cannot see the stars.  If you were on the moon where there is no atmosphere, you could see the stars all day long. (ABEKA - Understanding God's World)

The white paper acts very much like the atmosphere, scattering the light and making the holes (stars) less vibrant.

The instructions were to make the holes in construction paper using a pin.  I thought it would be more fun to make the holes using our Light Bright.  The kids have always enjoyed playing with it and it brings back childhood memories for me.  The plan was simple, poke holes in your paper.  But, the kids took it to the next level and asked if they could copy the patterns of various constellations.

BRILLIANT!  What a creative idea!



They each took their turn with the Light Bright.  While it wasn't their turn they filled their time with other subjects.  Then we took the sheets of paper to the backyard and held them up to the sun.



In all honesty, they enjoyed making the constellations more than holding the paper up to the sun.  There was a moment when everyone was complaining that it was too bright outside.  :)  Oh well, it was still a fun activity.  All in all, I would definitely do this again but omit the outside part.  You could just hold the paper up to a light or even place a flashlight behind it.  


Side note: The boys were playing in the backyard last night when they ran in the house with lots of excitement.  They found Orion's Belt in the sky and were very proud of themselves! :)

This has absolutely nothing to do with the lesson.  My son wanted to make sure I captured his pose.  Fierce!

Happy star gazing!



Thursday, February 19, 2015

To My Younger Self

What would you say to yourself if you could talk to the younger you?  Have you ever thought about that?  I know hind sight is 20/20 but it would be great to go back and give your younger self a few tips and tid bits of advice.  I have been thinking about this a lot lately, probably because my children are now 10, 7, and 5 and I am now 18 X 2...

Now, I realize 18 X 2 is not old BUT it is on the downhill side of 40.  Awww man, 40.... that makes me weep a little.  I have vivid memories of life when my parents were 40.  How is it that I am this close?  However, there many wonderful things that I have come to love with each passing year.  So, if I could have a conversation with my younger self it may go something like this.

Dear Elizabeth,
Now that you have turned 25 lets sit down and have a nice little chit chat.  If you don't mind I will enjoy a cup of creamer with a little coffee.  You (my younger self) will not have coffee because you have yet to fall in love with this guilty pleasure and the K-Cup has not been invented.  However, in about 8 years you will love your K-Cups and International Delight Creamers and because of those two loves your pants will no longer fit.

Did you know that later this year you will have your first child?  He (yes, your first will be a boy) will give you a run for your money.  You will soon learn the anatomy of the heart (physically and emotionally).  You will meet an incredible team of doctors and nurses that will be a huge part of your family's lives for the next 10 years and beyond.  In about three years, you will add another child to your family (another boy).  This son will have almost the identical personality as your hubby.  He will give amazing hugs and you will never trust the twinkle in his blue eyes.  :)  In about five years, the day  before you turn 31, you will meet your daughter.  She will have so much spunk and sass - do not ever try to pick out her clothes.  Some battles just aren't worth fighting.

Having these three blessing (which by the way some days you will not feel like calling them blessings) will bring you closer than you ever imagined to that high school sweetheart of yours.  You will both endure some of the most stressful moments as parents but also a lot of laughs and happy tears.  Your faith in each other and especially in God will be tested and you will prevail.  You will still dance in the kitchen with one another and share snacks in the pantry when the kids aren't looking.  Oh wait, you don't currently eat in the pantry - yes, that will happen before you know it.  You will admire the few gray hairs he has (notice I said he, not me :)  ) and will love his hard working and callused hands.  You will love how he plays with your wedding band when he holds your hand and how he still squeezes your pinky to secretly say, "I love you."

In about 8 years, your life will be completely turned upside down.  You will abruptly leave your teaching position, become a stay-at-home mom, and homeschool your children...

Elizabeth... are you breathing???  Here, stick your head between your knees and breath into this bag.  Betcha didn't see that one coming.

I promise you will make it through what will seem like the longest roller coaster.  This huge shift will push you, your husband, and family closer to God.  You will find peace and comfort in his Word.  You will have an amazing support system, a village cheering you along.

Now, all of this will come with a price.  You will have lines around your eyes when you smile, you will have lines on your neck, you will have a line between your eyes when you scowl and you will have to use expensive face cream to help with all those lines.  Your waste line will be a bit (okay a lot) thicker (sorry, you wanted three kids), and your thighs...well, those have always been a problem.  You will still have the whole, "Baby Got Back" thing going on, junk in the trunk, whatever you want to call it.  However, that junk will ride a lot lower and jiggle without Spanx (you need to buy those when you buy your Keurig).  Oh and the word metabolism might as well be spelled with four letters - it will no longer be your friend.

I just noticed you still have your head between your knees and you are blowing into that bag.  I am sorry, did the last part scare you?  Was it the Spanx?  I realize they are scary at first but I promise they stretch and you will be able to fit yourself in something that looks as if it should fit your five year old.

Let me finish because what I am about to say is worth all of it.  You will have a true sense and understanding of yourself.  You will no longer try to impress everyone else.  You will love on your real friends and value things like long distance phone calls and girl time with coffee.  You will understand that kids finally do get potty trained (that may seem simple to your now...).  You will find pure happiness in really small moments and you will finally learn to breathe when things seem tough.  Those lines on your face are called wisdom.  They will be the hardest thing you will ever earn.  Each one will have a story and a memory you will hold close to your heart.

Younger Self, hold on, it is going to get really bumpy but you will appreciate the faith, grace, love, patience, and wisdom you are about to learn.

**To all my girlfriends who are turning a year older (if you choose to acknowledge it), I think you are more beautiful with each passing year.  Lets remind ourselves that even though our rear ends begin to sag, gray hairs begin to creep in, and stretchy pants are always preferred, we are also filled with wisdom and that is something that has to be earned.

So, now a little confession.  I threw myself on my parents's couch a year ago when I turned 35.  I proceeded to throw a huge fit and sob over turning 35, in which my mother sympathetically laughed at me.  Turning 36 is not bothering me in the least, however, I already feel a little anxiety approaching for 37.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CHD Awareness Week / Jacob's Cardiology Check Up


Good morning!  This is an amazing time for our family!  Let me explain. :)

This week is National CHD (Congenital Heart Awareness) Week.  As I have said many times before, our oldest child was born with Tricuspid Atresia - Hypoplastic Right Ventricle.  He underwent heart surgery when he was 4 days old and then open-heart surgery at 3 months and 20 months.  He is a very active boy and other than his scars you really cannot tell he is any different from the average ten year old.

When he was three years old we had a bit of a scare when he was also diagnosed with a sinus node dysfunction (or sick sinus node).  God makes our hearts with natural pacemakers.  These natural pacemakers insure that our hearts "fire" properly (keeping our heart rates in regular).  One of our son's "natural pacemakers" had become lazy and was no longer firing.  Thankfully God gives us more than one  natural pacemaker (we have a back-up pacemaker).   Our son's "back up" was picking up the slack for the weak one.  Because of this, we were told he would definitely need a pacemaker implanted but when exactly was a huge question.  It signs would come on pretty sudden but it could be weeks, months or years away.

Every year he wears a holter monitor before his annual cardiology check up.  This monitor keeps track of his heart rate for a 24 hour period.  Due to this sick sinus node (lazy natural pacemaker) he has always had very low (freakishly low) heart rates.  Every year we brace ourselves.  Will this be the year the pacemaker has to be implanted?  Will this be year he has to go back in for some type of surgery?

As his mother, I watch him like a hawk.  He probably has no idea that I am checking the coloring of his lips, fingernails, and toenails on a daily basis.  He probably has no idea that when he is sleeping in a tightly curled position that I straighten out his legs for better blood flow and circulation.  Does this help?  I have no idea, but it makes me feel better.  :)  Every time he is laying on the couch I begin checking signs for him being lethargic.  I ask myself, "Is he lethargic or is his just being lazy?" This is the life of a CHD parent.  It really just becomes second nature.  I will probably look at the color of his lips the day he graduates college, gets married, and so on.  :)

Yesterday was his annual cardiology check-up.  This is not just a fast doctors appointment.  This is at least two hours of blood pressures checks, pulse ox readings, e.k.g., and an a very long echo cardiogram.  He usually tolerates all of it well except for growing a bit impatient during the echo (but who could blame him?).  We were going through the paces yesterday when the doctor came in to give her final report.  She sat down on the edge of the examining table and looked at me with this shocked look on her face.  In her very heavy Spanish accent (she is from Spain and speaks so fast), she began to tell me that his sick sinus node seems to be firing...

WHAT?!

I immediately asked her to tell me again.  Yep, that is right, I heard her right, his sinus node that has been so lazy (and not doing its job) has started firing again!!!!!  His heart rates were a good 20 points higher across the board than a year ago.  His resting heart rate has raised to 50 beats/minute, his average active periods were 80 beats/minute, and his really active times were hitting 165 beats/minute.  That last number is not even possible when your sinus node doesn't fire.  His pulse ox (SpO2) reading was also bouncing between 98%-100% (meaning his body is actually receiving 98-100% of oxygen).  He has NEVER hit 100%!

This is the actual reading on his discharge papers from yesterday's appointment:

Chronotropic incompentence with sinus node dysfunction---Appears resolved

APPEARS RESOLVED - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!  PRAISE GOD!!!

Now the cardiologist did say that this could be due to the Strattera he takes for his ADHD but she really couldn't count that to be 100% accurate.  She said she really couldn't explain the reason for the sinus node firing.   After that she just kind of chuckled.  It was such an amazing moment and we are all still letting it soak in.

Does this "fix" his heart?

No

Does this mean we no longer have worries?

Absolutely not

What it means is that he still lives with a hypoplastic right ventricle BUT for now the sinus node is working and that takes the threat of having a pacemaker out of the equation.  We don't know how long the node will continue to fire but for now we are praising God and giving all the glory to Him.

1 out of every 100 babies are born with some type of heart defect.  That is a pretty serious statistic.  The rest of this week is CHD Awareness week.  Please take a moment and say a prayer for all doctors, nurses, families, and especially the kiddos with CHD.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14

I know this picture probably look so scary to most.  To us it is a reminder of how great God is and how his hand has been on our son from the very beginning.  He has blessed us with amazing doctors and nurses.  He has blessed us... beyond measure.

If you would like to follow all of our son's surgeries you can go to a post I wrote last year.  Please click here if you would like to see his journey.

Thank you so much for all of you who read this blog.  It is means so much to me that you would take the time out of your day to spend a few minutes here.  










Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hope for the Weary Mom - NOW AVAILABLE!!!



It's here!!! Hope for the Weary Mom is now available for purchase.  I have already pre-ordered my copy and I cannot wait to dive in.  I have kept up with Brooke through the MOB Society for a couple of years.  I have also recently completed the Hope for the Weary Mom 5 Day Devotional Challenge and the Fight Like a Boy Mom - Hard To Handle Boys video modules.  I connect with everything she says.  I cannot tell you how much both of these authors have read my mind and spoken directly to my heart.


Motherhood is the greatest gift we can receive from God.  BUT... at times  (a lot of the time, sometimes all of the time) it can feel overwhelming and hard.  When I say hard and overwhelming I mean the type of feeling that makes you drop to your knees.  The feelings that make you cry out to God, begging him that these children (His blessings) will turn out to be functioning adults and citizens.  I have asked God so many times, "How did I earn a good GPA in college yet can't seem to get this motherhood thing right?"  "How come I don't see the "right" payoff for all of my hard work?"  "How come they don't seem like children from Pinterest?" :)  Whah!!!  Yes, I have had so many moments, days, years of weariness.  In fact, I can almost guarantee there will be a weary moment at some point today.  It's just bound to happen.  If it happens, hopefully a cup of coffee and a quiet spot will follow shortly behind...okay probably not but it doesn't hurt to dream. :)



Here's the deal, it doesn't matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, part-time working mom, single mom, the list could go on - YOU ARE A MOM, a mom created by GOD.  When you feel tired, weary, and ready to throw in the towel, remind yourself that HE has his eyes on you and HIS arms around you.  

 I am not receiving any type of compensation for placing this book on my blog.  I just love these authors and their message so much that I want to share it with all of my favorites mommies. 

I hope you buy the book and we can share in the wonderful message Brook and Stacey have brought to us.