Content Amidst the Chaos

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The words I couldn’t find September 17, 2010

Filed under: autism,S2,Uncategorized — jps23 @ 8:52 pm

My friend, Preacher, who is oh-so-good with words, has posted something about my sweet Cowgirl’s baptism.  Now, I’m again blowing our cover a little, but it’s for Jesus, so that’s okay!  She said it all WAY BETTER than I ever could have.  Fair warning, grab a tissue before you get started.  I must also note that Preacher is no longer our church’s children’s minister, due to this crazy idea to pursue a master’s degree in the Jesus field.  🙂  She returned to baptize Cowgirl, and our very new children’s minister went down front in the old people’s traditional service barefoot with Cowgirl to take her confession, risking judgment for such an act by people who barely even know her.  My heart was so full that day.  Read about it here.

 

Our first week September 11, 2010

Filed under: homeschooling — jps23 @ 10:47 pm

WE DID IT!!!!  We survived the first week of school with seven little ones!  Here’s a little overview of how it went for us, in case you are wondering.

The first and second days, we did really well at getting up early and getting started.  The problem, however, is that we stayed up VERY late (or early into the next morning) in order to make everything happen.  I will be adjusting that this weekend because it catches up with you.  I think I just wanted the first week to go well so I was willing to do WHATEVER it took to make that happen.  Now we know what works, so we can be more prepared for that ahead of time.  The third and fourth days started later, but they still went well.  I didn’t like starting later, so we won’t make that a habit, but I was still happy that we got through the day.

WHAT WORKED-

  • a firm schedule- I started with times, but then I just made sure our day followed the schedule order so I wouldn’t stress too much over finishing right at 9:29 in order to move on to our 9:30 activity.
  • timers- The first day went great, and I had Superman buy the girls some kitchen timers for their independent reading, which they loved.  When day two started dragging a little, with Picasso not finishing until 5:00 that afternoon, I decided to use the timers for each individual activity.  I used time cards found at Homeschool Creations, and I chose times that were a little more than what I thought they needed in order to build their confidence with the timer.  The timer can be intimidating, so you have to use it the right way!  Being able to beat the timer motivated them!
  • prepared meals- Superman was a jewel and prepared their lunches for the first two days.  On day two, he put their lunches in a glad disposable container for each kid (we’d love to eventually get these, but the glad containers served the same purpose without the dividers).  The special touch was that he packed what each kid likes and wrote their name on them, with a picture of something they love!  I know!  Now you know why I call him Superman!  He also posted on our family message board what our menu was for the day and had their snack prepared.  This eliminated all arguments and whining about what we are eating that day.  Dinner was also ready to go so I didn’t have to finish a full day of school and then stand over the kitchen counters and stove top preparing dinner.
  • workfolders- This is taken from Homeschool Creations, again, and it has been wonderful.  I put their time card on their folder pocket.  I’m not putting cards in for the whole week yet, but I hope to eventually.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK-

  • late nights for us- Staying up past midnight (I’m not going to tell on us by giving you the actual time).  I was tired by the end of day three.  It’s go, go, go for a homeschooling momma with a range like ours.  The baby still has to be fed, diaper changed, and entertained when he’s not napping.
  • nap times- Getting the boys down for a nap is hard right now.  They share a room, and they just want to play.  I’ve got to figure that out this weekend.
  • Being off schedule- We were thrown off by some car issues that had our day starting with uncertainty on Thursday.  The kids don’t like that!  The one thing I learned, though, is that they are loving school!  When I told them we might have to take Daddy to work, they moaned and whined, asking if a neighbor could loan him a car.

I even got to attend a reading conference on Friday, thanks to our moms babysitting the kids.  Picasso has some struggles in reading, and I am hoping this conference will give me some insight on what approach to take with her.

"This little light of mine!"

A look at our schedule:

  • breakfast and morning chores
  • morning school routine- calendar time, which we do all together (I’ll have to do a separate post on what all this includes.  It’s more than calendar and the weather!)
  • outside time- I do this early to get the wiggles out.  We also work in snack time here.
  • music (which we didn’t do this week because they needed a little extra time with workfolders while they are getting used to them)
  • workfolders for the girls while I do “preschool” activities with the boys (I’ll post more about this later, too, but my inspiration comes from this blog)
  • lunch- I usually read aloud during lunch.  I’ve been reading a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago.  The kids love the pictures and the way every story points to Jesus, even those from the Old Testament.
  • art (see music)- my plan for this is to follow Charlotte Mason and do picture studies, as well as having the kids do an activity similar to the artist we are studying
  • quiet time- reading or other quiet activities for the girls while I put the boys down for a nap
  • instruction time with the girls- This is where I teach the bulk of our curriculum, Paths of Exploration.
  • handiwork/projects- This is time for the kids to work on and learn new skills and activities.  This could be a time to do sewing, cooking, building projects, etc.  We haven’t started this officially, but I am hoping to once we get the morning schedule moving more fluidly.
  • afternoon chores
  • outside time

Right now, we are making sure we get the instruction time intact before we add the extra stuff.  They are doing so well, and they have missed it the last couple of days.  We have had the t.v. unplugged and stored in the basement all week now and we are loving it!  We didn’t have cable, but we were in such a bad habit of keeping it on most of the day.  With it gone, there is no argument about keeping it off.  They can watch a video on the computer for now.  We may eventually set it up for viewing downstairs, but there’s no rush.  It has been a blessed week, and I am looking forward to the next one!  I will leave you with more pictures of our first day (since Superman was home, he took a lot of pics for me).

Dozer doing one of his tot trays

The boys are studying the parts of the body

couldn't have done it without this guy- love him

 

I hope to always remember September 6, 2010

Filed under: S3,Uncategorized — jps23 @ 1:19 am

I don’t know if it’s having seven kids or if it’s because beyond their first year, I feel the information is insignificant, but I can’t keep anyone’s birth weights, lengths, or times straight.  Sometimes I can remember weights, but I often get them mixed up.  We even have to think a second when you ask for birth dates, not because we don’t know them, but because we have to remember whose is whose.  We have three in April and two in June, so it requires a little brain power to keep them straight.  We at least get the May and December ones pretty quickly, but we usually have to do a little math for the year.  Anyhow, I am completely digressing here.  The point in my ramblings is that I am not great at remembering things that most people have etched in their memory.  I wish I could remember their sweet little voices as they are first saying mine and Superman’s names, Mommy and Daddy.  But more than that, I hope to always remember the sound of their voice when they say the most important words they will EVER say in their life, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Our youngest daughter was baptized today, and that girl gave her confession of faith loud and proud with a tone that said, “What else is there?”  Next Sunday, our middle daughter will do the same, and just six and a half months ago, our oldest daughter led the way.  I can still hear her sweet voice from that day.  I hope to always remember their voices saying those words, although I’m sure I will forget.  I can’t describe the flood of emotions I feel when those words are spoken in the average church member, so you can imagine my feelings hearing them from my own children.  Each of their baptisms are special for unique reasons.

Picasso has been thirsty for Him ever since I can remember.  The girl wanted a Jesus-themed birthday party one year, I think maybe when she was turning four.  She made her decision quite carefully, though, because although she was certain she wanted to follow Him, she was timid about getting up in front of the church to give her confession.  Not because she wasn’t sure, but because she’s a little bashful.  Hearing her say it was big because I knew it was so tough for her to get up in front of everyone, but she got to a point where she just didn’t care.  She was ready for this even if it meant doing something hard.  She was our first child baptized into His kingdom.  Huge for us.

Giving her bold confession!

Mary Lou’s baptism was special for a few reasons.  When we asked her who she wanted to baptize her, she said Roomie’s name without a seconds hesitation (for those of you that don’t know, we have our Children’s Ministry intern living with us, which was a summer arrangement, but it worked so well that she’s staying through the remainder of this year).  We first met her when she started visiting our church when Mary Lou was only three years old.  She also assisted in the preschool class where I taught Mary Lou that year.  Shortly after that, she became an intern in our children’s ministry, and she babysat for us when her school schedule allowed, so she’s very near and dear to our hearts.  The kids actually count her as a member of the family now that she is living with us!  Our church’s practice is that any believer can baptize, so she was chosen.  The cool part was that this was her first time.  It was also our new Children’s Minster’s first time taking a confession of faith from one of the kids in our ministry.  And to round out the morning, the old Children’s Minister, our friend Preacher, popped in after driving 10+ hours through the night from Arkansas to be support for Roomie and Mary Lou.  It was a beautiful event.  What stood out the most, however, was her certain, assured, and bold repetition of that confession.  It reminded me of the day I said my vows to her daddy.  There was no hint of doubt.

I’m sure that next week, I will be able to share how special the event ends up being for Cowgirl.  I can say this already, though.  An autistic child, who struggles with abstract concepts and things unseen, being so certain of knowing and loving Jesus just makes it special enough.  She’s been talking about baptism since Picasso took the step to obedience, and I tried to make sure she was ready.  Out of the blue the other day, she just said, “Why do I have to wait?  You didn’t make Picasso wait!  I’m ready to be baptized!”  I knew that I couldn’t hold her back any longer.  I can’t wait to share the events of her special day with you.  For now, I’ll leave you with a few more pics of our special day today.

A New Creation!

Roomie and Mary Lou