Our Rock Pile: Miracles and an Allergy Update

AllergyStones

My boys love to pile stones…  I can’t help but go in my mind to remembering.  In the Bible, they served as memorials – reminders of God’s faithfulness.

I hinted a while ago about the miracle that we’ve been experiencing over here when I showed pictures of Greta eating her first Smore.

That picture of her first smore was a pile of rocks that we’ve erected to remind ourselves of the miracle that He’s done and is doing in her life.

Let me rewind and give you all an update for those that haven’t been following my {infrequent} allergy updates.  Greta’s birth 2 years ago was a joyous occasion. I may not have felt that way at the time, but childbirth memories have a way of fading fast as we wax nostalgic. It was beautiful, albeit painful.

It didn’t take long however after our little Greta Girl joined the family to discover that something was different. She cried, inconsolably, all the time.  Did I mention, ALL.THE.TIME… I was also dealing with the move of my sister’s family across the country {sniff, sniff} and my dad’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent relocation to California for 9 weeks of treatment just days after Greta was born.

But this crying was starting to wear on all of us. Just days before my sister moved, she mentioned the possibility of a dairy allergy as an explanation for her colic. This icecream lover couldn’t even begin to fathom that. I kept telling her, “But what if it isn’t dairy and I end up giving up icecream and cheese for no reason???”  I’m the picture of selfless love, aren’t I?

Thankfully, God in his kindness, broke through to me not soon after that through two friends who’ve navigated serious food allergies with their own children. As I began to whine again, my friend looked me in the eye and appealed to Greta’s obvious pain. This jolted me out of my selfish thinking and I proceeded to start an elimination diet.

Sure enough, dairy was a culprit – along with a whole slew of other foods. And this was the start of our journey into the realm of food intolerances and allergies.

My life was turned upside down as I learned how to cook in a completely different way. At Christmas that year, I made the mistake of eating a few bites of mashed potatoes that had dairy in it. Sure enough the screaming commenced again and the poor girl had bloody stools that week.

This served as a wake-up call.

The next year and a half had us pursuing some alternative treatment with our chiropractor which proved helpful. But she still struggled with horrible cradle cap and I constantly had to be evaluating and re-evalutating what I was eating and what was triggering her body to react at that particular time.

Horrible Cradle Cap

Throughout all of this, our family prayed. We prayed for God to heal our baby girl. The gravity of the situation didn’t really start to sink in until she reached her 1st birthday {the pic above was taken shortly before her 1st birthday}. People were making concerned comments about her scalp and I was facing the fact that I couldn’t simply control my diet and breastfeed her forever.   She would have to face this specialized diet herself.  Finally at a year, she was developing quite an interest in solid food.

We began praying in earnest for her cradle cap. I was on a downward spiral with this roller coaster ride and needed God’s sustaining strength. He’s always so faithful, isn’t He? He gave me strength and quite suddenly her cradle cap subsided. In excitement, I blogged about it.  Her hair started to grow and I continued to limit my diet, nurse her and start adding in some solid food.

While her scalp didn’t flare up, her list of foods that she needed to avoid continued to grow.  We reached a point where she was off: DAIRY, GLUTEN, RICE, OATMEAL, CORN, POTATOES, EGGS, PEANUTS and STRAWBERRIES.  Friends would offer to cook around her allergies when we would visit.  I would simply shake my head and not have them even bother.  It was easier to just bring food with me.  Most of the time, I was thankful that she wasn’t reacting as bad as before as long as we kept the delicate balance of keeping her away from offending foods.  But every once in a while, I’d crash emotionally.

Last summer arrived and one day in mid-June my mom came to me and announced that she was praying for Greta.  I thanked her.  We’ve all been praying for a while and I appreciated the support.  When I saw her the next week, she reminded me that she was praying for Greta.  She told me that she had faith that God was going to heal her.  She had faith for complete healing of all the allergies, except dairy.  Having just tested her the month before and hearing confirmation that she was indeed still reacting to all those foods I must admit that I wasn’t very hopeful.

Two or three weeks later, mom came to me yet again to let me know that she was praying for Greta.  I gave a polite nod.  But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.  She looked me in the eye and said, “How am I going to know when He heals her?  Will you go get her tested again?”   How could I say no…

So I took the feeble step of faith and had her re-tested.  After running the tests, the doctor gave me a confused look as he told me that she was free from all of her food intolerance/allergies except for dairy.  My mouth dropped.  I left his office that day, praising God and marveling at his goodness.

We started with adding all of those foods back in and sure enough, she was fine.   And we are full of gratitude, knowing the incredible work that God did in her body.  I’m reminded anew to keep piling up those stones and recounting God’s faithfulness in our lives – both in the big things and in the little things.  Little things, after all, add up to big things.

 

How to Support Your Wife in Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a team sport!  Here are some simple ways that dad can save the day!

It was a regular occurrence during my highschool years…  The phone would ring and I’d hear Mr. P on the other end quickly inquiring if there was any way I could babysit – TONIGHT.  That slight edge of desperation in his voice and my love for their family would usually prompt me to say yes.   I sort of suspected that her 4 darling children, the messy house, and homeschooling may have left her a little tired, but as I catapulted into the realm of baby/toddler mom and then homeschool mom, I found myself understanding her in a whole new way.   Some days just leave you frazzled.  And I had new-found respect for her husband who would swoop in to save the day.

Oh this grand learning adventure…  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than learning here alongside our children.  Each day is unique, beautiful, mostly fun, often challenging.  We have the opportunity to cultivate these lives entrusted to our care, to train them, guide them, and then launch them into all God has for them.

Yes, we stay home with the kids and most of the work with homeschooling falls to us.  But really, raising kids needs to be a team effort.   Dad’s, we need you!  We may not always be able to put into words what that looks like because every day is fresh with new challenges and well, our own emotions can tend to be on an ever shifting pendulum too.  I know you’ve all come home at one time or another to get that look when you walk in the door–that look that screams HELP!  So I thought I’d pass on a few tips today.

1. Make it a Family Affair

Homeschooling shines when it is made a family affair.  My husband jokes that while he was always supportive of our decision to homeschool, it took him a while to transfer perspective from “her thing to OUR thing.”   Whenever you find a way to get involved, jump right in.

  • Take learning on the road. Family vacations can become family field trips with a little bit of reading before you head out.
  • Plan some of the “fun” learning activities for when dad is off work.  A few years ago, Rich saw me pulling together a tasty collection of materials during our unit on birds.  Knowing something fun was afoot, he asked if we could wait until he was done with work for the day.  This proved to be a win for all of us!
  • Explore together. Family field trips showcase the beauty of family learning.
  • Take over a subject.  There might be a season where you need to step up and help.  My mom and I butted heads so much on writing that my dad ultimately had to step in for a brief season.
  • Dinnertime discussion is a wonderful time to bring the family back together.  When I’m on top of things {on rare occasions} I try and text my hubby with something that we did that day so he can ask the kids about it.  Usually however, I’m not that pulled together and I’ll prompt the kids with a “tell Dad what we read about, built, explored, etc…”  This is a great time to discuss the day’s explorations and give dad the opportunity to share insights as well.
  • Rough house – if possible, in the morning.  You read that right.  Rough housing with the kids is an amazing way to help prime the pump and wire their brains to learn.  Those moments when you think you are just having fun…  They serve an unseen academic purpose as well.  Getting their blood pumping in some way before you head off to work might just be what they need to get the wiggles out and buckle down to focus on the tasks mom has for them that day!

Rough housing is a great way to help wire their brains to learn!

{crazy to look at these pictures and realize that this cute baby is now 6 years old…}

2. Protect and Promote Her

We need our knight-in-shining-armor.  There are days when I’m that damsel in distress.  A wise husband has his game on and is constantly ascertaining the situation. Sometimes we might need:

  • A shoulder to cry on.  After a rough day sometimes we just need a hug and for someone to tell us that it will all be ok.
  • A pep talk.  First rule of thumb is to just listen.  But sometimes we need you to do what you are so good at – problem solve.  Remind us WHY we are doing this, share insight into what can be done differently. 
  • An intervention!  Sometimes a girl just needs her knight-in-shining armor to swoop in.  You may need to step into the situation at hand and have a talk with the kids.  We needed this recently and I’m sharing about it today over at The Busy Mom.  This was a classic reminder to me that my boys need their dad just as much as I need him!  They learned quickly that they can’t treat his bride with disrespect.
  • A speech.  Talk us up… This may not seem like a big deal, but when you speak highly of your wife and the investment she is making by homeschooling – especially to the kids, it not only gives your wife a boost, but models to your kids respect for what she does.  It’s important that our kids see a united front.  They need to know that we are a team.  My hubby and I try hard to bring disagreement on parenting issues to each other in private instead of airing that in front of the kids.
  • Prayer – Pray with and for us.

 3. Help Her Refuel

Sometimes we are just running on empty and need to refuel.  A wise husband will spot this and help find a solution just as the dad did who called me for emergency babysitting.  The key here is to talk with her and figure out what will help her refuel.  Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Send her out for a walk. This won’t work for everyone, but this is the easiest way to talk me off the ledge.  Sometimes I just need 15-20 minutes to get outside for a brisk walk.  The fresh air, movement and 15 minutes of solitude to entertain my own thoughts works wonders to calm me down and bring perspective.
  • Send her up for a bath.  Release her to go take a bath.  Put on some peaceful music and offer to get the kids to bed, wash the dinner dishes, etc so that she can have a few moments to herself.
  • Send her OUT.  A friend shared on facebook a few years ago about how her husband handed her a Bible, notebook, a Starbucks gift card, and car keys.  That mama returned refreshed and so madly in love with her husband that she couldn’t help but sing his praises for a good long while.
  • Encourage her to have a girl’s night out.  I recently went out to celebrate a friend’s upcoming wedding.  It was fun to dress up and figure out how to talk about something other than homeschooling or parenting!
  • Take the kids out.  Sometimes the chaos of the house is getting to us and the most helpful thing you could do would be to get the kids out of the house for a Saturday morning so we can restore order.  My dad did this once.  Trust me, my mom was on the verge of crazy, but when we returned she was all smiles.
  • Date Night!  Depending on your budget this is a sure-fire winner.  It gets you both away and provides time to either get your mind off the difficult day, week, month or talk together to fine-tune how things are going.  We’ve worked out an exchange program with some friends to make this more affordable and something that happens monthly now.

You are more important than you can even imagine.  We need your love and support far more than anyone else’s because we are in this together.  Your role is just as critical as ours and together we are stronger and more effective than when we stand alone.

On the Road to #EndBiblePoverty

carmemorywork

We spend a lot of time in our car driving here and there.  Being in a large metro area means you get used to driving, I guess.  Sometimes it makes the whole idea of "home" schooling seem like a bit of a stretch since so much of our explorations take … [Continue reading]

Reading… Good for the Mind and our Mood + a coupon code for you!

filippo3

  Anyone else out there ever have crazy, chaotic seasons in life? I'm in the midst of one right now. There is so much going on, in so many different fronts. It's been keeping me on my knees in prayer as I work to prioritize... One part of our … [Continue reading]

How We Do School with the Flu

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Well, flu might be an overstatement, but last week all was plugging along nicely...  I was even outside running around with the kids as they recreated Sparks-a-Rama in the backyard.  We stopped to run to the store for dinner ingredients.  When we … [Continue reading]

Cultivating Biblical Literacy – A Frugal Approach

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The kids and I read a delightful biography about Fanny Crosby this week.  The boys kept begging for one more chapter {music to my ears} and I kept tearing up with each passing chapter.  I tend to get a bit emotional as I witness God's work in a … [Continue reading]

Cultivating a Sense of the Resurrection

EasterEbook

COUPON CODE "OhEaster" can be used to get the book 20% off.  Good through Friday March 28th. Celebration of the Resurrection has been one of my favorite times of year since I was a child.  I've talked about it before in sharing how to make it a big … [Continue reading]

Write it, Recite it, Send it: Our Mission.

MonthlyMission

 What is poverty? It's the question I posed to my kids today.  A few vague responses tentatively whispered from boys lips.  No one really understood.  So I sent the youngest on an errand to bring the dictionary over and my 7.5 year old begged to be … [Continue reading]

Oatmeal, Oatmeal and More Oatmeal

Oatmeal

Welcome new subscribers!  At the bottom of this email or rss feed, you'll find the link to the printable Family Bible Reading Plan! Hello friends, it has simply been one of those crazy seasons where you go, go, go and then fall into bed each night … [Continue reading]

What I’m Reading: 2014 Edition

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This last fall, Rich and I attended the HSLDA Leadership Conference in Baltimore.  We had the chance to visit DC and decided to stop by the Library of Congress.  In all of the times I've been there, I had never made it to the Library of Congress.  It … [Continue reading]