One With Nature

Since we are studying botany this year, nature walks are a must.  Our first one happened in the heat of August...right after we had a couple of cold days.  It was hot as "blue blazes" whatever that means.

We survived.  And the kids managed to snap a few pictures with my phone.  They may or may not all be of plants.  You be the judge.

 Alien thumb!  Run!

 A stump...this one speaks to me.

 That's Liam's shadow selfie.

Fire hydrantus.  Common in most neighborhoods and zones and can be found along many roadsides.

Wasp Attack

We were able to attend our local minor league baseball game again this year.  The ball club was generous enough to give the kids who completed the reading program tickets.  We thought it would be fun.  Only, when we got there did the kids inform us that they didn't enjoy the game last year.  Oops.  We invited some friends along but apparently, those friends didn't enjoy it either.  Strike two.

And then, Ace went to the top of the stadium and put his hand right in a wasp nest.

Yeah, strike three.  Thankfully, he was not allergic to them and only had a sore head (three stings on the head and two on his hand) for a day or so.

This was the only picture I managed to get.

The game was a double header and we got there halfway through the first game.  After the first game, the kids were able to walk around the field.  So, our kids walked and then were ready to leave.  This will go down as the least fun ball game my kids have seen.  At least we got to visit with our friends.

The amazing hubby

My oven is fairly new.  We purchased it a couple of years ago before Malachi was born.  It's nothing short of awesome.  I honestly use it or the stovetop one or twice a day.  Every day.  But, in August one morning as I was putting our muffins in to bake, I noticed the top broil heating unit on.  I thought it was funny but continued on my merry little way.  I still thought nothing of it as I opened the oven door and was blasted with the heat.

Only when I started smelling burnt muffins five minutes later did I realize that our oven was broken.
The poor muffins...Mark and the kids said that only the top was burned and that they were quite yummy..

Mark came home that night to a heartbroken woman.  My oven is my constant friend as I feed these growing people.  He pulled the oven out, turned on his super smart brain and ordered the broken part that night.  Three days later, I had an oven that worked again.  He was and is my hero!

Fall in Love

with Lilla Rose and a sale!

That's right!  Three days only get 15% off select brass, brown or black items.  What a great time to get Christmas gifts for your loved ones!

Check out this adorable pairing with the Festive Fallen Leaf Flexi!

School is in Session

Technically, we started school in July of this year.  However, I didn't get "first day of school" photos until August so here is my school post for this year.  Disclaimer:  I did not receive any compensation for mentioning the following products.

Everyone is working on:

Mystery of History Volume 1-We have already done this volume but took a break last year for American History.  This year, we're back at it.

Exploring Creation with Botany-I'm not going to name names but there were a few groans about studying plants.  Needless to say, when we started breaking out our Nature's Workshop Plus Botany Lab Kit, the groans ceased.

Math Mammoth-While I still love Life of Fred, I've noticed that the kids seem to not have enough drill and thereby are falling behind on several math skills.  I was able to purchase Math Mammoth through the Homeschool Co-op at a great price.  So far, I like it and it seems to be helping the kids catch up to speed on all things mathematical.

I have very good intentions to add some dication in there as well...Good intentions.

She has a lot of good books to read this year and some she has already read.  We're focusing this whole semester on getting through The Lord of the Rings and subsequently watching the movies as a treat.  This book has provided a lot of great opportunities to discuss various themes throughout literature as well as looking at how our beliefs influence our actions and in Tolkien's case, his writing.

IEW Rockets, Radars and Robotics-Yes, there's some technical in this, but there is also a lot of fun creative writing.  Okay, I say it's fun creative writing but the kids just make faces.  And for even more added fun, I'm snagging essay contests as they come across my email.  They are jumping for joy.  Zoe and Ace are both doing this.

Spelling Power-We continue to trudge through this curriculum and we usually do it once or twice a week.

Winston Grammar-First Language Lessons did an amazing job setting a good foundation in grammar that following up after that has been hard.  Winston Grammar has worked out well in that it takes a different approach (labeling versus diagramming) to identifying parts of speech and after completing it and the Advanced, she will be completely done with grammar.

His reading list is different than Zoe's but other than that, we are using the same curriculum as she but on a different level.

He is learning cursive this year!  I know that it's not common to teach it but since so many fonts are in cursive nowadays, I find that teaching how to write it also helps to learn to read it.

Building Spelling Skills-Every super hero has a weakness and spelling is Liam's.  As a decent speller, it is  hard for me to accept but he is working hard at it and appears to be doing well on grade level.  This curriculum is a little slower paced and repetitive enough that I think it is helping in the spelling area.

First Language Lessons of the Well-Trained Mind-Liam is doing a great job with this curriculum this year.

Again, different reading list.


He has his own reading list as well and is continuing on the same curriculum as Liam but only at a grade level below him.

Ceili Rain:

My newest student is working in Abeka Phonics and Saxon Math K.  She has two sidekicks (Bryant and Malachi) who enjoy the lessons as well.

And now for the obligatory first day of school pics:

Emmie's Four Months

 Our big girl is getting bigger.  When I attempted to put her in a 3 to 6 month onesie and couldn't snap it, I threw in the towel and swapped her clothes out.  My four month old is now sporting 6 to 9 month clothes and rocking them out with her long torso!   Her naps are ever so slowly getting in to a routine.  Of course, our schedules have been all over the place so she hasn't really had much time at home to settle in to a good nap routine.  We'll get there one day though.  She had her four month check up and passed it like a champ.  Her development is on target for her age.  Still not rolling consistently but she loves to roll side to side so we are hoping any day now that she'll start rolling to get from A to B.  Some NF kids tend to have macrocephaly (fancy term for a big head and small body).  However, Emmie is just plain big in general.  Or rather big for an NF baby (they have their own growth chart that the NF clinic uses and she is so big she is off of it) and upper average for all the other folks.

Here's her stats (stats are based on a normal growth chart):
15 lbs 8 oz (86%)
26" long (96%)
16 5/8" head (81%)

I've decided to document all that Emmie is going through more for my sake than anything else.  I want to remember both in pictures and in words how God is working in Emmie's life and in our lives  I debated awhile about doing this but then after talking to another mom who has walked a very similar path, I felt like I needed to make sure I wrote out and took pictures and journaled her life.  I want to share it here because this is the best way for me to record and look back on what our lives have been like.  And, like it or not, NF is now a big part of our lives.

A lot has happened this past month so I thought I would try and get this up to date.  She had her neurologist appointment on September 11th at 7 in the morning.  Do you want to know what big city traffic looks like at 6:45 a.m.?  You don't.  Trust me.  We thought we wouldn't have to deal with rush hour that early.  Just believe me when I say we were wrong.

We made it eventually.  Emmie's neurologist is the first NF neurology specialist at Emory.  We've heard nothing but good things about Dr. W and the next time Emmie goes to see him, I'll try and make sure to get a picture.  He was great with her and she was all smiles with him.  Developmentally, she is on target so the plexiform she has on the back of her neck is not causing any issues right now.  Dr. W laid out some things to look for that might mean action is needed immediately and also discussed our next steps.  One of them was that he needed a better MRI of her cervical spine (the neck) to get good measurements on the plexiform as well as to see if we could track any growth and to know what type of surgeon might need to be consulted.

We asked that a small miracle be performed and for her to be scheduled for the MRI while we were in town (possibly that Friday).  God showed out and we were able to get it done THAT day.  It was a huge blessing and little miss did amazing having to fast during the day.
 Waiting to see Dr. W and enjoying playing on the floor.

 Let the fasting begin!  I look forward to several years from now when all we have to do is show up in the afternoon and she watches a movie while they take the pictures.  But for now...we fast.

 Almost time for the IV stick and she started screaming every time she looked at me.  At that point I was the mean mama denying her what she really, really wanted.  Mark helped her pass the time by playing with her.
Her awesome nurse got in on the distraction by finding a balloon.

Baby veins are so finicky and tiny that getting an IV in is very hard.  This time, it took two sticks.  She cried but calmed down a tad when I started playing hymns from my phone.

I thought that it was tough getting through the first MRI and that subsequent ones would be easier.  I was so wrong.  It was just as tough.  Once we left her asleep, it got a bit easier but around the one hour mark we got very anxious for our baby back.  Not too long after, she appeared and I grabbed her up as fast as I could.
 Mama's arms and a sweet sleeping baby.  It took her awhile for the meds to wear off but after a good nursing session we headed back to pick up the crew from the grandparents' house.
 My loopy baby.

By the time we got back to our house, she was all smiles and back to her fun self.

The MRI showed extremely little growth from what they could tell comparing the August MRI.  Dr. W suggested a six month repeat MRI and appointment with him.  It also appears that the plexiform is growing out at the neck and not around the spinal cord.  This is extremely good news!

However, since it is easier to remove most of the plexiforms when they are smaller, we will be consulting with a neurosurgeon to get his recommendations.  We had read that when a plexiform is removed it will grow back faster and bigger.  This is not true according to Dr. W.   Each plexiform neurofibroma will grow at its own rate and will typically follow a curve upward.  That means that whether you remove some or none it will continue to grow how it will continue to grow.  We are content with waiting until after her six month check up to remove what we can.  She'll be older, bigger, stronger at that time.  This is all new territory for us, so for now, we won't be able to make any decisions until she is seen by a neurosurgeon and we have prayed about it.

Prayer Request:

1.  That the tumor will continue to grow out at the neck and not around the spinal cord area.
2.  For an appointment soon with the neurosurgeon
3.  Wisdom as we weigh the risks and benefits of any and all procedures for Emmie's care.
4.  Strength to see God's hand in all of this.

This is already so long.  I really want to share my heart but feel it might need to wait for it's own post.  We ache and our heart breaks for all Emmie is dealing with at this time.  And some days the struggle is really hard.  The past two weeks have been "normal" weeks of school and church and playing with neighbors and friends.  I have soaked up every second of it.  That's enough for now.  I promise I will share more later.

July Randmoness

Photo dump time.  Be prepared for total cuteness.
 Emmie enjoyed her playmat and almost undivided attention from siblings.

 Malachi discovered he could hide stuff in his red rocket.

 Mark celebrated birthday number 35 with our traditional trip to fireworks at the local army base.

 Emmie stole my bed.  Every morning.  I gladly allowed it.

 Somebody lost her first tooth and was super proud.  The second followed close behind and she pulled it while daddy was at work.  I almost gagged.  Thankfully, she did not require my assistance but regularly showed me the progress she was making with it.  Again with the gag.

 We hosted church on Wednesdays for about a year while our church renovated the property we purchased.  That left interesting messages.

This appeared after a Wednesday.  A week or two before Zoe was having a fit in the van yelling at Liam to put something down and that others would see it.  What was he doing?  Holding up a napkin to the window.  On the napkin, he had inscribed, "Help!"  I was laughing so hard I almost couldn't drive.

 Emmie was our smallest calf at Cow Appreciation Day this year.

 Emmie and her Wubbie.  

 Ceili Rain and Liam had taken trios and made "iPads" and were playing games on it.

 Ace's first selfie.  So proud.

 Passing a virus around meant lots of tv.

 How Emmie enjoyed Legoland

So, on the way home from Legoland, Emmie needed to nurse.  This is where we stopped.  A deserted gas station.
 We kept looking for zombies and decided they would probably come from this field.  Creepy? Yes but then we enjoyed watching people drive in the parking lot and pull up to the pump and then promptly drive off.

 More Wubbie love.  She has since given up the Wubanub for a regular mam paci but only on occasion.  She's just not a big paci baby like the others.
The kids were able to enjoy one of the cheap summer movies.  We had a blast.  And that's a lot of kids.