Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Homeschooling Novel

TJ and I have decided to homeschool Th beginning next school year (when he enters 2nd grade). This decision has been prayerfully considered for almost a year. Honestly, we never thought we'd put our children in public school, but because of my school schedule, Th was forced to start kindergarten at a public school. I began praying about homeschooling starting this year (2009-1010) but just did not have peace about it. He had such a fabulous year last year and his teacher was so WONDERFUL that it made the decision for him to continue in public school that much easier on us for this school year. However, everything has changed.

The day after I found out the death of Twin A, Th brought a note home from his teacher. In this note, she told me that since the beginning of school he had not done any of his lessons. Just a little background: he attends a Montessori school. It is a great school and I love the philosophy behind Montessori. Basically the children are placed in multi-age classrooms where they are provided with challenging and interesting lessons based on their ability level. If a student excels, he is able to move ahead without having to wait for "the rest of the class" like in a traditional classroom model. On the other hand, if a child struggles in an area, he is able to continue to work on and practice the skills until he reaches mastery without having to be pushed ahead to keep up with "the rest of the class." Because Th has a September birthday, he has always been the oldest in his class and I was concerned about him being bored. He left preschool being able to read some and his teacher picked up where Th was and excelled him. Basically, in a Montessori setting each child is able to reach his or her potential on an individual basis; it doesn't matter what the other kids are doing.

Now, back to the note. Th had not been choosing lessons to work on and only did so whenever he worked with the teacher or the assistant. She said he was constantly drawing on his papers but was otherwise a good student. This type of behavior is totally uncharacteristic of Th. He has always enjoyed school and I could not understand why he was not doing his work. He never had a problem last year. Again, this was the day after I found out about the baby so it was a difficult weekend for all of us. I talked with Th and questioned him about his poor work ethic. He said school was boring and he wanted to do the fun stuff like he did last year. All he got to do was adding and he already knew how to add (I chuckle even now- that was such a funny statement when he said that to me!) I wrote her a note back asking for more explanation (Why did she wait to tell me 6 weeks into the school year that he had not been doing any work? What is he doing if he's not working? How far behind is he? What are the consequences in the classroom for not completing work? What can we do to catch him up?). When he came home from school that Monday, there was no note from her. I was so angry! I immediately emailed her and asked her to call me as soon as possible so we could discuss the situation. Thankfully she phoned that evening and along with providing some more information on the situation, we came up with some ways to motivate Th to do his work. At home I use a visual schedule for the kids to help them complete their chores. I suggested she implement a smaller version on his desk, and for every 2 lessons he completes, he gets a 3-minute break to draw or use the computer. She liked that idea. Since that phone conversation, he has completed at least 6 lessons every day and some days as many as 10.

However, he has had some other behavior issues arise that I honestly believe are directly related to Twin A's death. Again, Th is not a "trouble maker" or one to be aggressive. But, for several weeks in a row, he was bringing notes home detailing aggressive behaviors that included biting the eraser tips (metal and all!) off of pencils and throwing them across the room and sneaking a pair of scissors into the classroom bathroom and cutting his hair in 4 separate places. I promise he has NEVER exhibited this type of behavior before so they were a complete shock to me! Th is the child I trust with having markers, crayons, and scissors unsupervised in the house since he was 3 years old. He has never done anything to make me reconsider that decision as he has always been very responsible with them. If any of my children can't have those types of items unsupervised, it's Ta! :)

I had a conference with his teacher 2 weeks ago. A few days before the conference I emailed her a list of items I wanted to discuss with her during our meeting. At the conference, she showed me some work samples from Th's math notebook. As she randomly flipped through it, I saw where he completed the SAME MATH LESSON at least 5 times! No wonder he's bored and acting out! She openly admitted to me that she does not have time to work with the children to show them new lessons as often as she should. Now, I get it. I know what it's like to have a lot of kids and very little time, but that's why she has an assistant! This is where it gets good: she told me that since she knows she has the first graders again next year (remember, it's a multi-age classroom) she tends to focus her attention on the second graders since they will be moving up. I candidly told her our house was up for sale and we may or many not move out of the current school district. If we move out of district, I needed to know that Th would be able to enter a traditional school and be able to fit in academically. She went to say that Th was ahead of where he should be for his reading ability and he picks up on math concepts quickly. That is reassuring but because of that, he is sort of left to his own devices. I left that conference determined to teach my child what I want him to know, especially since it seems like at this point school is just a code word for free childcare. I am so disappointed in his teacher but I refuse to let Th know that. I will stand behind her as his teacher because, "a house divided will only fall" and I don't want him to ever think that he does not have to obey her or treat her with the respect that she deserves as an adult. Although I do not agree with her teaching style and honestly can't wait to move so that we can switch schools (just to finish out the school year), he does not need to know that. I will continue to be involved in his education while in her classroom and pray that the Lord will intervene in this situation. I have also resolved that more than likely I will need to cover some first grade material next year in order for him to move on, but hopefully not.

She (the teacher) told me that she would make it her goal to work more with Th to introduce new lessons to him so that he could move on (not just in math, in all subjects). TJ and I are going to call another conference after Thanksgiving to see his progress. If no progress has been made, then obviously she has not kept her word and we will have no choice but to go to the principal. TJ wants to go talk to the principal now but I think we at least should allow his teacher an opportunity to carry through on her word. We'll see. Every day we ask Th if he learned a new lesson and so far the answer has been "No." But, sometimes he forgets things and I know he's only 7 so I don't want to completely take his word when there is a possibility he could be wrong. The principal will only laugh at us if we call a meeting and have no evidence; our case will be much stronger if we have time on our side and a lack of progress made.

So, now comes the hard task of choosing a curriculum and deciding upon which accountability group to join. There are several in my area and I have friends in just about all of them. I plan to attend some meetings to see which group we would best fit in with and then go from there. Th knows he is going to be homeschooled next year and is very excited. He has wanted to be homeschooled all along since most of his friends at church are. But, like most life circumstances, he has grown and learned from his time in public school and although there has been some bad, there has also been some good. He's made friends with some people he otherwise would have never met, and neither would I.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Prayer. . .

I found this poem and it has become my prayer. I pray, as I continue to face this trial, that I would reflect Jesus in all I do and say.
****************************************************

Teach My Heart

By: Priscilla Marsceau

Dear Lord, give me a song
That lasts into dawn;
Teach my heart to sing in the night.

Help me place in Your hands
Broken dreams, shattered plans;
On my knees, may I sing of Your might.

Take my heart’s deep despair,
Every burden and care;
Touch my life, let it reflect Your light,

So that others may see
I trust only in Thee-
Teach my heart, Lord, to sing in the night.
~
At the end of the day
When I’d lose my way,
Teach my heart to sing in the night.

In a prison of pain,
When my strength would wane,
On my knees, may I sing of Your might.

When my pride would bring shame
And reproach to Your name,
Touch my life, let it reflect Your light,

So that others may see
Only Jesus, not me.
Teach my heart, Lord, to sing in the night.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ultrasound

The u/s went well this morning, although it didn't start off that way.

The technician wasn't sure if she'd be able to see all she needed to see because I am not quite 18 weeks (I will be on Saturday). But, thankfully for me, the baby is measuring a little big so she was able to get the measurements she needed. Anatomically speaking, all the critical organs are developed and functioning as they should. Also, the cord is a 3-vessel cord and the placenta is located high up. The only concern is that the baby is breech, but there is still plenty of time for it to turn itself around.

TJ and I do not know what we are having as of yet. The technician wrote it down and included pictures from the u/s and sealed them in an envelope addressed to my mom. We will find out in about a month what we are having. We are excited to be doing it this way and are looking forward to the surprise. TJ picked the girl's name, and if the baby is a girl she will be named Taylor Ann. I picked the boy's name, and if a boy, he will be named Tevyn Luke. I absolutely love the name Townsend for a boy, but TJ hated it. He at least agreed to Tevyn, which honestly surprised me.

Emotionally, so far I am okay. It was the same technician I had last month when I found out about the twin, and she reassured me that this baby is perfect (so far!) and not to worry about losing it, too. She was very compassionate and caring which helped to keep me from crying. But, she did confirm there was still only one. I knew it, but this u/s confirmed the truth of the situation: the other baby is dead to me and alive in Heaven.

I confessed my sin of unbelief to the Lord and asked His forgiveness. I need to do the same for you all, my readers. Forgive me for my public lack of faith. My mantra the past few days, as simple as it may seem, has been "God is good always." I have been thinking about and reflecting on Jer. 29:11. God has a plan for me and is in control. In some ways this u/s now allows me to put to rest the other baby. I had been holding on to hope that the first u/s was wrong; now I know it's not so. I can try my best to cherish this pregnancy and rejoice in the news of a healthy baby. I can also begin to focus on where the other baby is- with the Lord in Heaven.

Grief is a process, and I suppose can be equated to a roller coaster. I go up and down, but as long as my climb up is more than the downs, I am making progress. I have reached the acceptance part of grief, and moved past the anger. I know God did not allow this to happen out of anger or punishment; that does not characterize a loving God. God allowed this so that I would grow and change and be a better person, ultimately for my good. Some days I get it and some days I don't. But, like I said, I have more good days than bad so that is marked progress. As I wrote in a previous post, I am so thankful God is patient and willing to forgive at all times.

The key to continuing to trust in the Lord is by controlling my thoughts. Life is getting better, one thought at a time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Still so Sad

Wondering if the sadness will end. I think sometimes I fool myself into believing I am better, moving on and getting past the rawness of the truth of the situation. But then comes the night, and I am faced with my thoughts and my God. I am going to be completely honest here, because I haven't been. I've been fooling myself so that my thoughts don't stray too far off course. I am angry. I am hurt. And I am so, so, so very sad.

It seems like now I see mothers of twins everywhere (or perhaps I am just noticing more, I don't know). And it's not fair. I know, I know. I tell my kids all the time life is not fair. But, really, it isn't fair. Why do some people get to carry and deliver healthy, happy babies while others, like me, do not? And why does it have to happen more than once? I know God is good and worthy to be praised in all things, but I am struggling right now. I am seriously struggling. I am battling anger and doubt towards God in so many ways. It's hard to trust Him right now when, in my current circumstances, He allowed this to happen.

You know, it's "ironic" how things happen (I use quotation marks because nothing happens by chance, it's all God). I have started participating in my church's Ladie's Bible Study again. I haven't been able to the past couple of years because of my school schedule, but now that I am teaching part-time, I am able to attend. Anyway, we are studying women of the Bible. I have found, as a result of this study, that I am just like Sarah, Abraham's wife. The Lord told Sarah she would have a baby at the age of 90, and she laughed in disbelief. She looked around at her circumstances (women much past 40 have difficulty getting pregnant let alone an 89-year-old woman) and just could not imagine being a mom for the first time at such an old age. It took trust and faith in God for her to realize that He truly was going to fulfill His promise to them. Now, God has not given me divine revelation as to what He is doing in my life through this, which is why it is so difficult for me right now. I am having trouble looking past the pain and anguish in my heart in order to fully trust Him.

My u/s is in 35 hours. I have been praying for the past month that the first u/s was wrong and that both babies are alive and well. I cry each time I think of it because I know deep down that won't be the case, and I am disappointed and angry (why didn't God answer my prayer?) and guilt-ridden for having these feelings. Job questioned the Lord when he endured the Lord's testing, and he confessed his sin and was able to understand that some things we may never know. I say I get that, but my prayers don't reflect that. I cry out to God each and every night. The past few nights my tears and quivered breath have awaken TJ out of his sleep. I want so badly to see two babies on Thursday morning. I want so badly to hold two babies when I deliver in March. I want so badly, but it's just not meant to be. . . at least for me. And that sucks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Miscarriage

Found this and it describes perfectly the emotions I am feeling. It's so hard. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuiOdXC9aB4

Saturday, October 10, 2009

16 weeks

I can't believe I am 4 m0nths pregnant today. When I found out about the twins, I was expecting to be big from the start. Things started out that way (I was in maternity clothes by week 9) but they seem to have leveled out. I haven't gained any weight and have actually lost a couple of pounds. I'm eating, but obviously burning everything I consume. I mostly attribute it to being busy and caring for my other children, although grief has shared in part.

I went back to the doc for blood work (genetic testing) on Thursday. It was difficult to walk into the office. The front office staff immediately inquired about how I was doing and that was nice, but I of course teared up. I had to keep my composure, though, because I had my 3 little ones with me. I didn't want to start crying in front of them. T.G. saw me cry one time and since then, she is constantly asking me if I am sad. I didn't see the doc but I go back in 2 weeks for my u/s. I have mixed feelings about that appointment and am so grateful TJ will be there with me for it. I can't bear to have another u/s and find out more bad news when I am alone. It was so difficult when I found out about the baby that day (already 2 weeks ago). I could barely walk I was so upset and I had to check out and then drive myself home. I was crying so hard I could hardly see the road. The Lord obviously protected me on that drive!

Tonight at prayer time Th started us out as he always does. It was so sweet and thoughtful, a true reflection of his personality: "Dear God, be with Brandon (boy in our church who has cancer) and help his hair not to fall out. If it did already, help it to grow back quickly so his head doesn't get cold. Also help Mommy's baby not to die because I really want to see it. . ." I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry!

On a different note, we are in the process of having Teagan evaluated for speech therapy. She is not saying much, only "Ma ma" but not in a meaningful way. She says it in babbling. She also says "ba", but it, too, is not attached to any meaning. When I took her to her well-check, the pediatrician recommended she go ahead and get evaluated now rather than waiting. I told him Ta didn't talk until he was almost 2. He said since Teagan has had delays in other areas she more than likely has a speech delay, as well. Crystal, our EI, is in the process of contacting a fabulous S/LP who works with my friend's daughter. I am hoping she is available to come to our house as our schedule stays pretty full.

Well, I guess that's about it. Trying to focus on the Lord and His blessings in my life rather than the "what ifs" and "should have beens" that I can't change. Each day, each moment rather, is a choice I have to make and sometimes I do good and sometimes I don't. I am thankful for the Lord's patience and mercy and grace with me as I endure this trial. I know I am not alone in this type of situation but often times it feels like it. I am learning to trust God's truths more as a result of this trial, and I will come through this stronger and better able to minister to others. For now, my heart is open and tender to the Lord and His work in my life.

Praying for brighter days ahead. . .

* "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." ~ Philippians 1:21

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Not much to say. Still grieving and don't expect anyone who has never experienced this type of loss to understand. This is even new for me! With my first miscarriage, once I went to the doctor and found out what happened, I was able to deal with the grief on my own. In this situation, because I am still pregnant, I am constantly reminded of it. I have to go back to the doctor on Thursday and re-live my last appointment all over again. I guess in some ways I am hoping the doctor was wrong and will receive news that all is well (which is why I haven't updated my sidebar). I keep praying that's the case as I am so saddened by this loss. It's so difficult to explain and like I said, if you've never gone through this, you can't even begin to imagine what it's like.

The death of a child (and yes, that's what it was!) is something no one expects to deal with. Most expect to bury their parents and grandparents, but not their child. I also feel betrayed by my body. I had no signs: no bleeding, cramping, spotting, nothing to make me suspect something was wrong. I was elated when I entered the doctor's office that day knowing I was going to see my babies again. I left crushed and heartbroken, again difficult to imagine if you've never been there.

I have also been struggling with understanding why, even though I know I will never know the answer, at least while on this Earth. But, nonetheless, I have been searching Scriptures looking for an answer. Psa. 37:4- "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Prov. 10:24- "What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted." If that's the case, then what happened? Why wasn't my desire fulfilled? Do I have another desire that I don't even know about yet? I have been praying that the Lord would give me some understanding and peace about the situation. Not knowing what happened causes me to worry about this baby, too. Since there were no signs with the first, will there be signs if something happens to this one? I don't know, and it scares me. I also (selfishly) keep thinking, "I've already been through this once before, why do I have to go through it again?" But, then I am reminded that, as a Christian, shall I not take the bad with the good? Surely not! I just know upon my entrance to Heaven all of my joy shall be restored and I will meet and hold my precious children who are waiting for me.

Until then, I think about them and miss them and care for their siblings to the best of my ability. I rest in God's protection and trust in Him, thankful for His mercy and grace that He daily provides.