Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November has been busy!

Grandpa came to meet Baby Anna...

We finally made down to see Daddy's "new" office...

The kids had a fun little concert with their homeschool choir...

And Aunt Jo came to spend Thanksgiving with us...

We are thankful indeed!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reflections on the first week

I'll try to keep it PG:

1. Keeping a newborn alive is a big job, even if it's your 6th. I've accumulated close to 6 years of nursing experience, but somehow my "apparatus" still think a sucking newborn is the equivalent of twenty needles stabbing my chest. My experience tells me what's normal and what's not, and I know it'll get easier. But for such a natural and perfectly designed relationship, breastfeeding can still be hard work. Bottom line: lanolin and kellymom.com

2. C-section recovery is slow. Russell is rockin' the Mr. Mom gig like a champ and forbids me from doing anything other than taking care of baby this week - which means I have to let him do things NOT the way I would ;-)  The body's ability to heal is truly amazing. I've had my abdomen sliced through and stitched back up (3 x's) and am still able to function -- I even feel better physically today than I have in the last 2 months or so! Bottom line: Motrin.

3. Newborns are TINY! Squishy and floppy. Sleepy and poopy. I love how she fits in the cradle of my arm or nestled under my chin. Bottom line: they're wonderful.

Friday, October 2, 2015

She's here!

The newest addition to the Lowery family, Anna Jean, made her debut yesterday at 12:59pm. She's a perfectly healthy 7lbs, 6oz and delivery went as smoothly as possible. We are enjoying getting to know her and I think she looks most like Mary. Maybe. My tablet isn't letting me attach photos, so I'll have to add those when we get home.

We like to pick our kids names from Biblical men and women we admire or godly saints who've been important in our lives. Anna Jean has one of each.

Anna was a prophetess, who, along with Simeon, was present at the temple when Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus. They were part of the faithful remnant of God's people who were "waiting for the consolidation of Israel." Since the fall, God promised to send a redeemer for his people. Salvation from sin has always been through faith in Christ; in the Old Testament it was a faith that looked forward, now we look back. Anna and Simeon were some of the first to see with their own eyes the object of their faith.

This is what is recorded about Anna in Luke 2 when she met the Word made flesh:

"Anna...was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem." (Lk 2:36-38)
Our prayer for this new daughter, as with all our children, is that God would grant her faith to know Jesus as her personal redeemer and the supreme object of her faith.

Jean is in memory of my dear mother, Barbara Jean, who has been seeing with her own eyes the object of her faith since April of 2014. She's left a big hole in our hearts and a legacy of faith, joy and love we long to pass on to our children, friends and loved ones.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Powering Through

I can't quite justify saying I'm in the home stretch yet, but the end is in sight. I'm just about at 33 weeks. We're scheduled to meet this baby girl on October 1, so that's 5.5-ish weeks left.

I don't remember if I shared on the blog that we do have to deal with treatment for NAIT again with this pregnancy. Most of our friends and family know that already and many have been helping watch kids while I get infusions. Baby and I are both very healthy (although baby has WAY more energy than me these days!) and infusions have been going well. I've even started looking forward to them because I get to sit in a recliner and relax for 5 hours twice a week! 11 more infusions to go, not that I'm counting.

The NAIT diagnosis was disappointing, but it's something we're used to now. I very much wanted to pursue a VBA2C delivery, but it's safer for a baby with NAIT to schedule another c-section. On the plus side is getting to deliver at the brand new hospital with all private spacious rooms and beautiful views of town. I told the husband he should think of it as a little vacation! I'll be staying as long as they'll let me :-)

So now school is in full swing, we're getting ready to send Phillip off to start his first semester at Northwestern, and also getting Ben started with his first IEP.

Does this guy look ready for preschool?

My schedule is packed with various appointments for myself and the kids and activities (soccer, swimming, piano, gymnastics, school classes) and all I feel like doing is sprawling out on the couch and eating ice cream! But the busy schedule makes the time go by fast.

Things left to do: get baby clothes out of storage, get car seat ready, line up help for the kids while we're at the hospital, pack bag, and stock up on newborn diapers and various other baby and breastfeeding supplies. But, really, I'm ready now. Can't wait to meet this new daughter, start healing, and get my body back!

I'm so blessed and thankful God has allowed me to mother this brood of children. Each one is worth the work and sacrifice involved in growing, birthing, raising, teaching, and training. Ultimately, I pray they glorify their Creator by living to make His name great through all eternity. Thankfully that's a work only He can do.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Womanly Dominion Revisited

I first read this book back in 2009 and loved it. I took it up again last year when I downloaded it to my Kindle and read bits and pieces while sitting at kids sports or Dr. waiting rooms. It's not a modern day classic or anything. Many of the author's examples and stories are dated or bazaar (i.e. an extended excerpt from "It's a Wonderful Life," or quoting from Dr. Laura - I {heart} Dr. Laura, btw). Maybe that's one reason I like the book so much. Pastor Chanski and his wife remind me of mentors I've had, people who's example I want to follow; and I'm sure we'd have been friends if Providence had allowed us to attended his church.

Womanly Dominion - More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit is full of encouragement and guidance for women who are seeking to fulfill their God-given calling to be wives and mothers, a counter-cultural calling in our world today. Yes, it's written by a man. Yes, he uses sports analogies. Those things don't bother me. Author Mark Chanski's wisdom, admonitions, and examples resonate with me.

Here's one passage I love. In a chapter discussing the apostle Paul's references to Priscilla and Aquila where Priscilla is consistently listed ahead of her husband, Pastor Chanski agrees with Spurgeon that this is likely "because she was first in energy of character and attainments in grace." He then recounts his experience with his own parents.

His father was a "mighty man of God" and "was the rock, but Mom was the tutor. Mom was the reader, the book buyer, the Bible study attender, the sermon tape listener, the magazine article sender, the late night counselor, the doctrinal debater, the verbally agile persuader, the ladies' book study leader, the telephone advisor, the Priscilla. For every word Dad spoke, Mom spoke five." (p. 95)

I see a lot of myself in that quote and a lot of my mom too. Mom loved to be involved in Bible studies and was ALWAYS reading. And she couldn't help but share things she read with people she thought would appreciate them. She did Facebook the old-fashioned way, with telephones and stamps and clips from magazine articles.

Anyway, back to Priscilla. God's design for authority and submission within Biblical marriage is beautiful and right but it never means the woman is to be unknowledgeable, unopinionated, and confined to the kitchen (although there's nothing wrong with proficiency in domestic arts!). When I first became friends with my dear husband I'm glad he was not intimidated by my passionate defense of reformed doctrine or extensive theological reading. He was, at the time, a newer Christian and I remember one of our first heated debates was over the definition of limited atonement. Our friendship would have ended on the spot if I hadn't been able to convince him of his error. (j/k - I still don't think he's admitted to being wrong, but I've forgiven him) ;-)

Chanski also highlights the example of Abigail whose husband was about to make a disastrous error and took things into her own hands to defend her household. A woman of dominion does not sit idly by while her husband behaves negligently or sinfully. The author says of his own wife:
"I desperately need this Abigail in my life! She is not always right. But usually she is. Blessed be the Lord who sent her to me; and blessed be her and her discernment in family matters, church matters, financial matters, relational matters, educational matters and all manner of matters."
All husbands should have such confidence and pride in their wife. I do my best to conform my actions, thoughts and decisions to what I think my husband would like, but he doesn't want me waiting around to be told what to do every day. He wants me to use my best judgement to act, plan and execute my work, and to tell him (sweetly) when I think he's messing up.

So I conclude with an encouragement to my fellow women readers: follow the example of Priscilla and Abigail in your God-given roles and callings. And an encouragement to any single men out there: these are the qualities to pursue in a wife. Do not be intimidated by a strong woman, a smart woman, a Godly woman. This is the woman who will be raising your children and doing you "good not evil all of the days of her life...Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates."  (Prov. 31:12, 30, & 31)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Swim Recap 2015

This weekend marked the end of the kids swim season - yay! This is our third year on our local swim team and it's a lot of work (many hours at the pool every week) but a rewarding time for our family. We like swim because, in addition to actually learning to become strong swimmers, it's a RACE where there's 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. As with all youth sports these days, everyone gets a ribbon, but there is a time to beat. You were either faster than the other swimmers or not.

Swim team bonus: having some of our best friends on the team!

Ruth and Mary with their buddies

The kids love swimming with their friends and the mamas love getting time for conversation with actual adults on a regular basis!

This year was particularly fun because Ruth has really improved since last year and was one of the fastest swimmers in her age group. Ruth lucked out with her birthday -- she misses the cut-off to move up to the next age group by just a couple weeks. So, even though she turned 9 in June she's still in the 7&8 age group. Sarah has also worked really hard and is a very strong swimmer this year. She's petite for her age - almost a foot shorter than the fastest swimmers, but she's putting up very competitive times, especially in the longer distances where she has great endurance.

Paul had a very difficult year last year. He was just 6 and although he was a strong swimmer he became very anxious at the swim meets. I think he was so afraid of doing something wrong he just refused to do his races! We tried to convince him "it's just like practice!" It didn't work. Not our proudest parenting moment :-/  Along with improved swimming this year Paul has made great progress in overcoming his performance anxiety. He never once missed a race this year, so whether he overcame his fears or was just less nervous, it was a huge improvement! Our strategy is to keep putting him in situations that are out of his comfort zone and making him to try new things.

We put Mary on the team this year too because it was cheaper than a summer's worth of swim lessons. She started the season never having a single lesson and now can make it all the way across the pool freestyle and backstroke (with a couple rest stops on the lane lines) :-)

Ben loves the water and I suspect he'll want to get in on the fun in a few years too!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

School plan 2015-2016

What do you do when it's hot, you're 7 months pregnant, and it's a whole week before another episode of Poldark airs? Order homeschool curriculum, of course!

There is much troubling news in our world today, but I know God is in control and full of justice and mercy. In order to avoid hanging out on social media any longer I decided to type up my plan for the kids school year. It'll be helpful for me to have a record of what I'm intending to accomplish and we'll see how this measures up to reality. Thought it also might be of interest to friends who are planning their curriculum too.

This is the first year I'll have four real homeschooled kids. In the past the most I've had is two, since Phillip and Sarah were at Cornerstone. Now Phillip is graduated, Sarah is home, and Mary is starting Kindergarten. It will be nice to have everyone in one place for a couple years. Before anyone thinks "how could she possibly have time for all this" I should clarify that most of the school books I choose for the kids are designed to be very independent. For the older three kids I assign them their work at the beginning of the week and, in theory, check to make sure they did it. I'm here for questions and help, but they're on their own. Mary is the only one who requires daily one-on-one time, and even that is not more than an hour or so of direct teaching.

We were planning to start Classical Conversations this fall, but once my dear husband saw the $$$ leaving his bank account he changed his mind. This is no great disappointment to me, as I'm thankful to have a free day back in my schedule. CC is a wonderful program, though, and we will miss being with our friends. However we have many other activities and classes in which we'll be participating throughout the week.

So here goes:

Mary - Kindergarten
  • Catechism: First Catechism
  • Phonics: The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and Explode the Code workbooks
  • Printing: Handwriting Without Tears, My Printing Book I recommend skipping the kindergarten level book and starting with 1st grade.
  • Math: Saxon 1 (again, skip K)
  • Science: Co-op class
  • Social Studies: a totally unnecessary subject at this age, but I'll come up with something for her to show our charter school teacher once a month ;-)
  • Extra curriculars: gymnastics, swimming, kids choir and possibly piano

Paul - 2nd Grade
  • Catechism: First Catechism
  • Writing/Grammar: Winning with Writing, Growing with Grammar
  • Penmanship: Memoria Press Copybook II, and III
  • Literature: Total Language Plus Study Guides Shiloh and The Whipping Boy. These are really neat all-inclusive language arts study guides with lessons in grammar, spelling, writing, etc. all drawn form a literature book. They recommend 3-5 books/year to make up a full program, but as I'm using them as a supplement I just chose one per semester. Paul is an excellent reader, but I need to get him reading more real literature, not just "fun" books ;-) 
  • Spelling: All About Spelling
  • Math: Saxon 3
  • Science: Co-op class and LIFEPAC 3rd grade. I used some LIFEPACs last year and really liked them. They are very engaging and my kids can work through them totally independently. 3rd grade science looks to be better aligned with our charter school's learning units and Paul is able to work above grade level.
  • History: Our Nation Under God For younger grades I really like these sweet little history texts from Christian Liberty Press. I love history but don't think it's a particularly important subject at this age. So a text book I can give to Paul and have him read a few pages each week on his own is a good fit. I've used the Story of the World books for younger grades too and I love them, but I like the more traditional (rather than classical) approach of teaching American history first (more concrete and relevant to littles), then going back to ancient history later (3rd or 4th grade and up).
  • Supplements: typing, Kahn Academy, Xtra Math - this is an excellent online math facts practice site
  • Extra curriculars: soccer (fall), basketball (winter), baseball (spring), swimming, possibly golf and tennis (this boy loves sports), choir and piano

Ruth - 4th Grade
  • Catechism: A Puritan Catechism Spurgeon's adaptation of the Westminster Shorter Catechism
  • Writing: IEW Level A class at A Brighter Child (wonderful homeschool store with on-site classes)
  • Grammar: Easy Grammar
  • Penmanship: Cursive practice books
  • Literature: Shiloh and The Whipping Boy with TLP Study Guides (will do these together with Paul)
  • Spelling: All About Spelling
  • Math: Ruth is finishing Saxon 5/4 and will start 6/5 later this fall
  • Science: Co-op class and LIFEPAC 4th grade.
  • History: Our Golden California
  • Supplements: typing, Kahn Academy, Xtra Math
  • Extra curriculars: gymnastics, swimming, choir and piano

Sarah - 7th Grade

Phew, I think that covers it! I'd like to add in some scripture memory too, but haven't planned that out yet... I'd love to hear feedback on any of the curriculum choices, things you think we may be missing, or other programs you just love. Thanks friends!