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Has it really been months since I posted? I won’t say how many. Ideas of what our first “official” homeschool year would be like included (but were not limited to):

  • Weekly blogs
  • Field trips galore
  • Sticking to the plan (ha!)
  • Service projects
  • Monthly pictures throughout the “schoolyear”
  • Enjoying all the benefits of our homeschool group (co-ops and what-not)

Mama was ambitious. Most ideas proved to be “eh” Allow me to elaborate with 1 example:

We joined an awesome AND HUGE homeschool group in a nearby county (love it) but at first I wanted to be a part of everything. The first kickoff event was back in August and of course! We went. Just me and the 3 gals. On the way I nearly rear-ended a Prius and we were late because I got lost. We finally arrived and had just sat down and my youngest had an accident all over herself and lucky Mama. I didn’t have any clothes, so I waited a little bit then quickly grabbed a cupcake for each kid and we drove all the way back home, having only said hello to 4 fellow homeschoolers. That was 2 hours of driving and a good lesson. I can’t do it all. Looking back, I’m glad that bubble burst immediately. 

Other ideas are still great. Like service projects and field trips, those are golden. As for the rest (and there were much more) they were either one of two things, irrational or irrelevant and as it turns out I have learned just as much, if not more, than the girls have. Altogether we have confirmed homeschooling is more about home than schooling. (For us, anyway..) Which reaffirmed why we do what we do.

I think most of us could attest the saying, “They grow up so fast!” It’s true! Even Biblically speaking, because life is but a vapor. I’m in total agreement, and I want to treasure my daughters. I want to be the one who teaches them to read, write, to study scripture, pray, have fun, say sorry, forgive, to cook, hook a worm, wash dishes, to love others, trust the Lord and be courageous, serve, and to know what is important. The Lord planted an idea in my heart long before I believed it was possible, back when I was a new mom, single at that, and it never went away. Our homeschooling journey has been saturated in prayer, blessed like crazy, and difficult at times. Oh, and cancer? It added to the eternal perspective. Life down here is uncertain, what really matters? “School” for us is much more than the three R’s. It’s about our life in Christ, the humbling fact that HE is our righteousness, looking past the temporal, and our quiver of 3 precious arrows that we have the privilege of training, loving, praying over… What could be gooder?

Just kidding. Did that scare you?

“A cheerful heart is good medicine..” Proverbs 17:22

In Christ,

Mama Hailey

P.S. The kids are great. They are all healthy and happy as ever. They have worked very hard this year! Brooklyn has not had tests since October but has done well, she goes Monday, May 9, for CT, labs, and stuff. Family: If this is a SURPIRSE to you, it is me too. Ooops. I finally looked at the calender and noticed some important dates were a lot sooner than I thought. Madi also goes to see a surgeon about her eye this month. Her vision isn’t great but the biggest problem is one turning in. And the sooner we correct it, the better. We’ve patched a lot, glasses didn’t help the turning, and her vision seems to be getting worse. Handwriting is especially difficult for her. Bless her heart, she perseveres though! Thank you for love and prayers!

Recent pictures!

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October Test Updates and A Whole Lot of GRACE

Well, it’s time I freshened up the blog. I didn’t realize until the other day that I haven’t posted since school started in August.

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Brooklyn had quite a bit of testing in October that I haven’t posted about (until now). She had an Echo, a bunch of blood work, her MIBG scan, a CT scan, a urine catacholamine test, and.. I think that might be all. Praise God’s mighty name, everything was great! Her oncologist even said if we’re ok with it, we can stop the MIBG scans (which are usually 2.5 hours long for which she is sedated) and of course we are so ok with it I could throw a party. She is a CT scan pro and doesn’t have to be sedated for those anymore so they will continue every 6 months! She is almost 4 years since diagnosis, almost 3 years post stem cell transplant, 2 years off treatment, and it’s been almost a year since she had her feeding tube taken out..and that feels crazy good to write even crazier when I say it out loud! She is still an awesome eater, especially when I think about how she didn’t eat for a year and a half and all the problems she had with her stomach, and all the medication and treatment and bumps in the road..and..Whew. Who wouldn’t believe in a God of miracles after seeing that?!

When they told me she had relapsed in April 2013 I knew in my worried bones it was over. She had been so sick and I had accepted that we were probably not going to go forward with anymore treatment. God had other plans though, praise His name. I knew, in all certainty, that it would have had to have been a miracle for her to be cancer free at that point, but I felt like we were under some clause where every test was just killing time until we found it again. And so.. I almost lost my mind during Brooklyn’s long road back to health. I learned a whole lot about my Savior and I learned even more how weak and immature I was (He’s still working on that). I saw the miracle and couldn’t, maybe wouldn’t, believe it. I waited..and waited for my worst fear. What a stronghold Satan had on me. I couldn’t even praise God like I should have because there was a perpetual “but” there denying His greatness. “She is cancer free and thank you..but how? When will it come back? What do we do?? You know, the statistics aren’t good.” Those words may not have ever left my mouth but they were in my heart and He knew it. Above all what my heart was saying was, “I don’t trust You.”  “You” the sovereign God of the Universe! How dare I.

Does this sound as horrible to you as it does to me? It was horrible. He knows us through and through and still loves us beyond anything we will ever comprehend in this form. I repented of my horrible attitude and unbelief and I still find myself praying “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 and I have delighted myself in Him and do you know what? He has given me the desires of my heart. (No, it’s not an assurance cancer won’t come back) I don’t need that. I need Him, He is the desire of my heart.  If your eyes are on the storm you’ll wonder if I love you still but if your eyes are on the cross you’ll know I always have and I always will. -Just Be Held, Casting Crowns

Only by His grace,

Hailey

Here’s a recent picture of Brooklyn, the tender-heart, doing what she loves.

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Getting Ready for Kindergarten!

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Counters and word dominoes.. We sure are excited for kindergarten! We are officially beginning the homeschool year for the twins in August but learning never ends at our house, myself included.. From Bible time at breakfast to bedtime stories at night and all the puzzles, counting, questions, playing, and exploring in between. I love seeing their perseverance, effort, willingness, and excitement in learning something new or mastering something old.

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I’ve thought and prayed about homeschooling since the twins were little bitties and some how it has all fallen into place. These children are an absolute blessing. I am so thankful for them, this amazing opportunity, and for all God’s blessings and provisions. I am also incredibly grateful for such supportive friends and family, and their prayers! So far this journey has been crazy, exciting, saturated in prayer and faith and will be whatever the Father’s will is for our family. I pray we know Him, that He molds us and gives wisdom, and that we never stop learning.

Blessings!
Hailey

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The Road Trip

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Last Tuesday. Tuesdays are speech days and, most importantly, our fun day.

   We had an awesome trip to Nashville on Thursday. I wanted to write a post sooner, but we were a little tired exhausted. We headed out Thursday morning with the plan of a one day trip. We know how long visits can be but we found ourselves in the car at 2:03 pm stunned that we were already piled in for the ride home. We were scheduled to see Brooklyn’s stem cell transplant/oncology doctor because her AFP tumor marker was elevated and she hadn’t seen him in quite a while. The appointment went so well, beyond anything I expected. The doctor repeated labs and her tumor marker had gone down and her other results looked good. He actually called me himself on Friday to give me the news. Needless to say, I was/am overjoyed. He also discussed the significance of being 2.5 years post transplant (3 years this December!) because the risk of a relapse of Neuroblastoma goes down considerably. He said it’s rare that a relapse occurs after the 3 year mark. He does want Brooklyn to see a dermatologist but it’s nothing he’s worried about, just something to stay on top of. The children that have had the treatment she has had are still monitored after the 3 year mark because they have to watch for long term side effects; heart problems, Leukemia, skin cancer..all caused by the treatment. All of that is the technicalities of the situation from the medical perspective. It’s always nice to get good news and input from (awesome) doctors like ours but I know from whom our blessings flow and throughout the whole trip there was one recurring theme in my heart: Why, why, why are You so good to us?

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Flowers my sweet girls picked for me today.

   I will back play by saying I’ve gone through every scenario in my brain of how her relapse would happen. Along the road back to Brooklyn’s health I was consumed by fear. I thought about it (cancer), I dreamed about it, any moment alone with my husband was spent talking about it. I was absolutely positive of the outcome. Fear was the stronghold, anxiety was my identity, the internet was my outlet (it was actually my own cell where the enemy kept my focus on cancer and off the Potter and His plan). God has taught me a lot, and it happened when I turned to His Word instead of ‘researching’ on the internet. Psalm 25:4 became my prayer. I had to replace dwelling on cancer with dwelling on Him. I came to realize that nothing would happen unless He intended it to, and His plan is perfect.. With that came His perfect peace. My husband and I read a devotion that blessed us. Genesis 22, records the unsettling account where God tells Abraham to do the unthinkable; Sacrifice his only son, his beloved son, as a burnt offering. Most of us are familiar with the story and know God had a plan and a substitutionary ram caught in the thicket. In our devotion there were 3 comparisons noted that I wanted to share (taken straight from our devotion book, Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore):

  1. Some of our most profound tests involve those dearest to us.
  2. We also experience times when we believe we’ve received two seemingly diametrically opposite messages from God. Abraham understood God to say he would have more offspring than the number of stars in the sky, then he received the command to sacrifice his only legitimate heir on the altar. God didn’t mislead Abraham. He told him to sacrifice his son and, most assuredly, Abraham did. He did not slay his son. Instead he was able to offer God a living sacrifice.
  3. God used Abraham and Isaac to teach others about Himself. The shadow of the cross fell on Mount Moriah that day.

   We received blessings of peace and assurance through Scripture, as we have so many times before if only we are obedient to seek Him. Abraham’s obedience to lay His son down is incredible. God’s plan is perfect. We have realized that God wants our obedience and trust no matter what He commands, no matter the diagnosis, no matter the future. It’s easy to say that when our children are well and life is good, but our prayer and desire is that God would be our delight, that above all we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). That we would know, whether He gives or takes away, He has a prevailing plan, and blessed is the name of the Lord. We made many mistakes during our daughters treatment and weren’t always faithful to the One who had us in His hand, but He was faithful to us. He took care of us beyond anything imaginable. He was with us at diagnosis, He was with us in the many surgeries, He was with us in the ICU, He was with us as we sat white-knuckled and teary eyed because of her pain and suffering, He was with us when I was certain He was not, He was with us the WHOLE TIME. The lessons we all have learned through this journey, I pray, will never be forgotten. God’s grace was sufficient and is still. I don’t know how to convey my thanks to Him. The glimpses of His constant presence in my life can only bring me to my knees trembling and in tears.

As I’ve said many times before, Thank you. Our family, our friends, prayer warriors, and supporters, we cherish you.

God Bless You,

Hailey

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F.A.Q.

41 frequent questions courtesy of two 5 year olds and one 2 year old

1.   Can we go to the carnival?

2.   Can we go swimming?

3.   What day do we go to speech?

4.   Can we paint?

5.   Can I have cereal?

6.   Why do you have bumps on your face, Mama?

7.   Can we kiss on the mouth?

8.   Why do moms and dads kiss on the mouth?

9.   Can I pick out my clothes today?

10.   Can I change my clothes? (usually about 20 minutes after dressing)

11.   Can we go to Gram and Pop’s?

12.   Can we go to Mimi and Papa’s?

13.   Can we go outside? When are we going outside?

14.   Mama, will we ever go back to the beach with all the sand?

15.   When will Jesus come back?

16.   Can I take a bath with a stuffed animal?

17.   Can I babysit a stuffed animal? (when we’re in a store)

18.   Do I have enough money for a stuffed animal?

19.   When are we going back to the cabin? In this many days? (sticks up a few fingers)

20.   When are we going back to the hospital? Will Dr. Pais be there? (Brooklyn’s frequent. She loves the hospital and her oncologist.)

21.   Are we going to Church when we wake up?

22.   Will you make my favorite supper?

23.   Is Daddy at work?

24.   Where’s Papa?

25.   Where’s Mimi?

26.  Why don’t you work, Mama?

27.   Can I ask the blessin’?

28.   Will I be big when I grow up?

29.   Can I live with you and Daddy forever? (Madi’s frequent)

30.   Can I have money? (Lexi’s frequent)

31.   Can we go to Nana and Riley’s house?

32.   Can I have a debbie cake?

33.   Can we go back to Disney World one day?

34.   Are we doing school stuff today?

35.   Are we going somewhere today? When are we going somewhere?

36.   Are you gonna do all that stuff, Mama? Will I have a good night? Will Daddy go to work? (Twin’s bedtime frequents)

37.   Why can’t I have coffee? (Madi)

38.   Can I paint with my face? (This was asked only twice, but I loved this question from Madi)

39.   Can I wear makeup today?

40.   I like hot toothpaste. Can I use your hot toothpaste? Mouthwash too? (Brooklyn)

41.  Who are you talking to? Can I talk to them?  (Madi’s frequent, any time I’m on the phone)

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A Fun Day of Appointments

Cookie’s appointments went well today. We left Lexi at home with Mimi today. 2.5 hours of fun speech therapy in Knoxville yesterday wore everybody out. Lord willing, Thursday will be a “resting day” for us as the girls say. We follow up with the doctor next Wednesday for all Brooklyn’s stuff. She had more labs and a couple of ultrasounds today. And..they met Iron Man and made puppets. They are always so excited to go to the hospital.

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Blah, blah, blah…and SELF CONTROL! (For Mothers)

Alright Moms, funny story for a real issue in our home.. About 6 months ago, we did a lesson on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23). Since then every now and then we will go over all 9 of the fruits and as I name them off all three of the girls do what I call  “The Parent Talk” from Charlie Brown (Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah..etc.), until we get to the last one in the order we’ve organized them..SELF CONTROL, which they yell and then fall over laughing. I found this hilarious and of course it can’t be a coincidence because it’s the one I struggle with the most. Of course, through my walk with the Lord, I have learned the hard way that I do not possess this at all on my own..It is a Fruit of the Spirit! On my own I would be (and have been before) running around the house yelling and screaming or in the throws of anxiety crying in a pillow. Apart from starting off the day in prayer and devotion I have found a few other things that help, so here goes:

1. Scripture Memorization

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Psalm 19:14 and Proverbs 15:1 are two of my personal favorites.

2. Remember how the Father loves us. We are never disciplined out of the Lord’s anger, only His love. His enduring love for us is the reason the Shepard will leave the 99 sheep to search for the 1 lost. But when my little ones make me burn with anger then I pull out number 3 which is..

3. More Prayer. I fail Him a lot. I repent  a lot. When I get irritated in the morning right after I’ve prayed and studied, I have to remind myself that when I said “Amen” that didn’t mean, “The End” it means “so be it”! It’s good to keep the line of communication open with the Father! I also tell my girls I’m sorry when I lose my temper/self control. I tell them that’s why I need the Lord too. And you know what? The Lord is Faithful and Just to forgive me and so far the girls always have too. I’ve also noticed they often tell me sorry on their own when they get in trouble. Lexi tells me almost everyday, “I’m sowy I yelled at you.” Even when she hasn’t done anything wrong, no matter what she is apologizing for that is what she says. Probably because she has heard it from Mama. It is the funniest, cutest thing and also a blessing.

I hope this brought amusement to the many mothers who’ve been here and maybe help a young mom like myself!

As always, God bless!