Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 51: Pregnancy Series, My Third

This time around, I held my tummy in and tooks walks with my older two almost every day.  I was determined that I would not have the difficulty pushing that I had with Kat's delivery.  Thankfully I did what needed to be done and it was much better when it came to pushing.
This pregnancy was my first in Florida.  It was easier for me to get out of the house because of where we lived.  I took Ria to ballet (with Kat along, of course).  Kat would watch and wish to join in... she did most of the exercises in the waiting room, at the door, while watching Ria.  I also took the girls to story time regularly.  I also met with a dear friend of mine pretty regularly to hang out because her Victoria is the same age as mine.
Karen was my midwife.  She was quite good and good for me.
When I was 2 weeks "overdue," Karen was worried and I suggested homeopathics.  She gave them to me and I started them.  Immediately went into labor.  Labor lasted 3 long, painful days.  It was not pleasant.  I should've trusted my body and baby more.
Finally at 10cm dilated and able to push.  I think she was worried because Tea was not engaged as much as she expected or wanted to see.  She gave me the go-ahead to push and I did.  Within five minutes Tea was born.  Holding my tummy in and walking had definitely made a difference!
Again, we didn't know what we were having.  I was pretty sure she was a girl because, again, I'd dropped 7 pounds during the pregnancy.  I was just as happy to see that I was right as I was with each other birth (when I'd been wrong).  
Tea was perfect.  Crazy-full head of black hair that looked almost like a wig on my first ten pound four ounce baby.  She was short, too... so she had ROLLS!  Absolutely adorable rolls!  Her cheeks were so chubbs that when she was laid on her side, the cheek that was up in the air drooped over her mouth!  She definitely had Micheline Man arms and legs from birth! When she was born we needed to stimulate her a little bit, Karen held the oxygen close to her, but she definitely was not blue or limp.
Tea was born in our living room, on our brown couch which was given to us by my friend Heather in Florida.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Birth of our GrA boy

The super quick synopsis if you're really not super interested follows.

Active labor: 4-4.5 hours

Transfer: to hospital somewhere around midnight

GrA born: 2:23am by c-section

I was in a room with him less than an hour after he was taken out.

About 5 hours later, I was rolled away for emergency surgery.

In ICU for just over 24 hours.

Back home my mid-day Sunday, April 3rd.

Staples out, Friday, April 8th.

Gardening by Thursday, April 25th.

If you want more details, click HERE for *the rest of the story*.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 50: Pregnancy Series, My Second

I was no longer working as a teacher during this pregnancy.  I was way more sedentary.  I did not hold my tummy in really at all.  I still dropped 7 pounds during the pregnancy, but it definitely was not really apparent.
Kristi was my midwife.  She was, technically, not able to be fully legal yet in Virginia.  So, although she did attend my birth, we did not attach her name to the paperwork for a birth certificate.  That complicated the process of getting Kat's birth certificate.
My pregnancy with Kat went well.  I was tired and lonely a lot... not entirely used to being a Mama to one and worried about how I would add another.  Worried about whether I could love a second as much as the first... silly things like that.  I was probably still experiencing some aspects of the post-partum depression I had after Ria's birth.
I was two weeks "over due" with Kat when Kristi asked if I would be willing to use homeopathic remedies to try to get labor started.  I was willing because I could tell she was very concerned.
The homeopathic remedies did start labor, but it was a long and drawn out labor because it was not natural.  It was more natural and tolerable than Pitocin, but still not my body's starting the process itself... or the baby starting it... or the both of them working together.  It was unnatural.  I wish I'd been more courageous and trusted my body and my baby more.
I was in labor for 2 days to give birth to Kat.
Pushing took a long time this go-round.  I'm sure that's because my abdominal muscles were really unfit.  I may have pushed as long as 40 minutes.  I can't remember for sure.  Compared to the 11 minutes with Ria (which includes the time it took me to move from the floor to the bed), the time it took to push Kat out was long and arduous.
When she was born, we did not know what we were having.  We thought we wanted a boy.  I saw that we had another girl and I was ecstatic!  I couldn't have been happier with our second adorable black-haired, 9 pound 8 ounce baby girl!  She was born a blue baby and very limp because her cord was partially prolapsed when she began crowning and it was wrapped around her neck a couple times.  Her unresponsiveness was worrisome. Kristi pushed the cord back where it should've been before I finished pushing Kat out.  One baby was out, Kristi described how and I performed the kiss of life.  I breathed life into Kat.  She pinked up very well after that.
I learned very quickly (immediately?) that each child grows its parents hearts... it's as if, immediately upon birth, my heart is so much bigger that I have exactly as much love for the second as I had for the first.  It's amazing!
Kat was born in our living room, right in front of our couch, in our little trailer in a trailer park Virginia.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 49: Pregnancy Series, My First

I was working as a teacher.  My first year in that job.  I was worried what my peers and boss would think of me being preggie, so I held my tummy in all the time.  I was a size 18 when I began my Ria pregnancy.  I dropped 7 pounds during the pregnancy.  I did need to wear maternity shirts and pants by the end, but not by much.
This pregnancy was wonderful.  I felt so pretty and happy.  It was really wonderful. Except for the stress of my work.  That was pretty rough.
And then there was the ultrasound.  It suggested that our baby's heart might be turned wrong and other parts of her underdeveloped.  We "had to" have another ultrasound.  We were trying to get accepted into a midwife attended and run birthing clinic in the hospital.  We were not accepted.  Not because of the heart thing, that turned out to be nothing.  There was no problem.  There was no problem with her at all.
Probably good that we weren't.  Laurie MacPherson-Smith was our midwife - upon recommendation from Claudia Shafer, our birth-class instructor.  She was good.  Not as good as I would wish... apparently she'd had too many babies born in a certain way... so when it looked like Ria might be born in that way, she had me change my position which was more painful than anything prior to it... and I had a very painful labor to birth Ria.
Jessie didn't review the birth class information.  He didn't do what he was supposed to do to help me.  I felt very much on my own... because I had a wrong expectation that my husband would do certain things.  He could've, but it didn't happen that way.
Neither of us had any way of knowing how completely and utterly I would "lose" my ability to stand up for myself whilst in labor.  It's amazing how different... how much sweeter I am in labor than any other time in my life... how much weaker and unable to speak for myself.  At least, that's how I was for the first five.  I hope I will be differnt for the next since I've been doing SO much work to become a new woman in ways imperceptible to most folks.
Jessie was present for much of the labor and for the birth.  He did the best he could under the circumstances.
The day before Ria was born, we had a visit with our midwife.  She swiped my cirvix.  She did not discuss that with me before she did it.  If she said anything about it, she didn't help me understand it fully.  As a result, she broke my waters.  I know she did, but Ria's head blocked them from coming out until much later.
I went home and promptly worked my butt off.  That last shot of energy was spent on cleaning.  I didn't realize fully that I was in labor.  I hoped so, but didn't know KNOW know.
She felt like she had to do something because I was, according to the way of figuring out when a baby is "due," nine days "late."  It still upsets me that she started my labor in that way.  It's because of this unnatural start that I ended up in so much pain at the very end.
When I laid down to sleep around midnight, waters came gushing out.  The contractions became horribly painful immediately thereafter.  I'm pretty sure I mistook Ria moving after contractions for contractions.  It was all a ball of pain to my mind.
I was probably way more dilated at home, but the drive to the hospital, though short, was excruciatingly painful.  When they checked me there, I was only 3cm.  I was so upset.  I tried all kinds of things: bouncy ball, walking (though not much), kneeling, showering.  It was all just horribly painful.  I was fearful.
A little bit before 1pm (I think), I was ready to push.  My midwife told me to squat down and push with the next contraction, while holding on to some handles under the bed.  I did.  Apparently, Ria crowned with that one push. Pushing was blissfully wonderful.  It was a relief and a release from the torturous pain of the laboring process.  Because of the crowning, Laurie told me to get up on the bed.  This is the moment that I needed my Mom or Jessie to step in and tell them that I would NOT move, that I was good where I was, and the baby would be born right there.  Neither of them did so.  
That move was horribly painful.  Probably more painful than anything before it.
I labored for 22.5 hours to give birth to Ria.
After moving onto the bed and getting into position there, I pushed another two or three times and had Ria out.  I was extatic.  It was glorious to hold my baby.  I'd previously thought I wanted a boy.  I looked.  I had a girl and could not have been happier to have her!
Our sweet, black-haired 8 pound 4 ounce baby girl!  She didn't cry when she was born.  The nurse tried to rub her into crying.  But I wouldn't let her.  I knew Ria was fine.  I knew she didn't need to cry.
She had such a very serious expression on her face from the start.  She didn't smile at me until she was nearly 3 months old... even though she smiled at her Daddy and her Mimi!
Ria was born in a hospital in Virginia.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 48: Memphis Jim Boy

As a young girl, I heard stories about dogs we had when I was a baby.  There was one that was super patient.  When it got tired of me doing something it, it would put it's paw on my chest and sit me down.  That dog jumped a fence and ran away... purportedly because it got tired of my baby ways.
There were others, but I do not remember them.  I don't even remember any stories about them any more.  They ran away or were lost, it seems.  Always, it seemed they ran to get away from me.
Children tend to desire a pet.  Someone to love them no matter what, they think.  There is no real thought of or care about the time they require... the work necessary... children just want the pet for love.  My siblings and I were no different.
After, I imagine, years of begging, my parents decided to get a labradore retreiver.  And since my Dad was involved, it had to be a full-bred, registered dog.  Nothing but the best, of course.   He had visions of dog shows and a breeding program, I'm sure.
We got the puppy.  A cute male that my Dad promptly named Memphis Jim Boy.  We called him Jim or Jim Boy.  But since it was going to be a show dog, in my Dad's imagination, it had to have a long name befitting a ribbon winner.
There was lots of admiring and cuddling with the puppy was very small.  Eventually the newness wore off and our attentions moved elsewhere.  My Mom ended up taking care of the dog more than our Dad or any of us children.  And then she neared the time to deliver Ben.  She was tired and unwilling to have to take care of that dog and a newborn as well as everything else she had to do.
It was still traumatic to have our dog torn from us... or, at least, it was for me.  I may not have done well with it, but I sure did love it.  But then, he was just gone.

There was one time (or maybe a few?) that I was trying to walk Jim Boy and couldn't control him... so I ended up dragging on the ground behind him.  He was a strong pup!  That’s one of my Dad’s favorite stories pertaining to that dog.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 47: Ask and Ye Shall Receive (a Lesson of Life)

As a bit of a forward:  I joined a group a few years ago in which we share compositions about Lessons of Life we have experienced.  Part of the aspects of our writing for this group is that we include two scriptures and two leadership quotes that add additional witness to our perspective (by the mouth of two or three... and all that).  I've written MANY of these, but share few here.  I am considering sharing more... but I balk because these are my pearls.  And we have been directed not to cast our pearls before swine lest they turn and rend us... and I've been sorely rent, my friend.  So... just one here and there for now.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive (written during our van living period during 2014)
recently read something in my meditation community by a woman who was asked a tough question.  The question has been nagging at me, too.  She was asked, "What do you believe that is keeping people from joining your meditation group?"  Well, I'm not trying to run a meditation group, but I do desire to have an influx of money for some things that I do sell and a business or two that I desire to build.
The woman who was initially asked this question came to the conclusion that she believed people didn't really want to hear what she had to say.  I'm not exactly sure what the root of my own belief is, but I'm certain I will find it as I prayerfully ponder over it.  I hope that through finding it, I will also be able to release it to the Atonement and be healed and experience the true Prosperity that Father has for and desires to bestow upon me and mine.
I know He has far more than I am receiving at this time because of an experience yesterday.  A man asked my  husband and me for a few pennies.  I literally had 4 pennies and a nickel.  I asked my husband how much we should give him and he said, "Whatever you have in your hand."  I had only what I've already shared.  I refused to be so ungenerous and took another few moments to find a few quarters in another part of my purse.
Even as I was putting together a few coins, and often in the last 20 hours or so, I've thought of this interaction.  While I was searching for the coins, I kept thinking, "If he'd asked for a few bills, I'd give it to him... I mean, I have a couple thousand with me right now!"  I rarely have much cash with me but because we'd just sold something I had a lot.  I wouldn't have given him all, as we need the majority of that money to just get by from day to day for the next month or so (until my husband gets a job).  But if he'd asked for more, I may have given him as much as $5.  But he asked for only pennies.  I gave him that, and more... and still wonder if I gave too little.
So now I wonder how much more Father has for me... but I just ask for far less than He would give! 
I truly beleive our Father in Heaven is the King of ALL.  Don't Fathers desire to bless their children?  Don't they want their children to have all that they need... ESPECIALLY if they are doing their pitiful best to improve and become all that He wants them to be?  I believe He does.  So, in addition to pondering over what belief I have that is holding me back, I'm going to ponder over what I need to ask Father for... and how!
The additional witnesses:
Matthew 21:22
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Doctrine and Covenants 84:38
"And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath  shall be given unto him."
"It is evident that He intends that we do our part.  But what, specifically, are we to do?  No one would expect to receive a result from physical law without obeying it.  Spiritual law is the same.  As much as we want help, we must expect to follow the spiritual law that controls that help.  Spiritual law is not mysterious.  It is something that we can understand.  The scriptures define it in significant detail." 
(D&C 82: 10, 1 John 3:22, 1 Nephi 15:11)  
"The Lord has the power to bless us at any time.  Yet we see that to count on His help, we must consistently obey His commandments."  Richard G. Scott General Conference Talk: Obtaining Help from the Lord, October 1991
"By keeping the covenants of the gospel, all of the momentary trials of life can be transcended." Paul E. Koelliker General Conference Talk: Gospel Covenants Bring Promised Blessings, October 2005

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 46: Kindergarten Field Trip

We lived in Oak Harbor, Washington.  It was lovely there, from what I remember.  I enjoyed it very much.  I started school in Oak Harbor.  In my memory, my school (it was a whole building just for Kindergardeners) was high on a hill.  At the bottom of the hill was the Navy Exchange.
At Christmas time, we took a field trip and walked down the hill to the Navy Exchange.  I loved my teacher.  I think her name was Mrs. Wagner.
We sang songs in a big open area in the building that had the NEX.  I remember a woman either patting or pinching my cheek and commenting about how cute I was.
As we walked back up the hill to school, Mrs. Wagner was worried that it might start raining  because there were lots of clouds.  So, she started to sing "You Are My Sunshine".  She asked us to sing with her to make the request stronger.  And then asked us to sing louder so the sun would hear us.  I remember just belting out that song as loudly as I could because I loved her so much and wanted her to be happy.
I think the clouds did move, but maybe they didn't.
Look for the story about my experience of rain in Oak Harbor.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 45: Temple Trip 7-21-15

Today was, overall, a wonderful day. We went to the Temple in Dallas.
One strange thing to note is what seemed like hyperactivity of Police. We saw SO many on the interstate and in the city. WAY more than normal. Wonder if there is any connection to Jade Helm 15. We also saw what looked like a high-speed chase in progress... thankfully, it was going north when we were headed south. So strange. And since we don't tune into any local-ish news, we don't know if what we saw was publicized. ahwell
My experience in the Temple today is one I hope I will remember in the same way I remember the one in which I felt the presence of the woman whose work I did. THAT is an awesome treasure. I look forward to hugging her some day!
The Endowment presentation this time was the one that I have seen most frequently since coming to Texas. I like it a lot. I felt, for almost the entire viewing time, as though I were receiving a download of spiritual data... for lack of a better way to convey the feeling. I did experience at least one moment I can readily verbalize.
In my mind I saw a wave labeled... like I did when I was in grade school. Picture of wave. Line coming from top, box around the word "crest". Line from bottom, box around the word "trough". As a sort of narration, but not a part of the picture, per se, I felt "repetition". And so it is. Another experience with the "seasonality" of life. This one, in particular, referring to the highs and lows. And not all are the same at the same time. While one wave breaks, another rises... all over the place. Repeatedly. So too in the movement of humans in all the various ways we move... mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually....
Before I went into the Temple today, I'd read another message from a long-time friend. I'm pretty sure she's already made her decision. It seems that she is down the path as others I've tried to help in the past. And down so far she's not going to come back the way she left. It seems like she's sorta just looking for me to say, "Okay... yeah... I get it. Well, maybe that's right for you, then." But I cannot. Because that's not true.
However, I don't think there is any way she would hear any version of that from me as a positive thing or loving - even though that's what I would be trying to convey. Why? Because in at least the last two communications she has conveyed a feeling of offense regarding something I've said. And I'm tired of trying to explain myself to yet another person who is projecting their own insecurities onto my blunt/directness. Communicating with people is becoming so burdensome most of the time lately. I just feel exhausted at trying to figure out how to say something so someone will not be offended! I mean... heck, if these same folks actually KNEW me, they wouldn't take offense when I mean none and they'd KNOW when I did. I guess that's part of the problem... so few of us ACTUALLY know or truly attempt to get to know another being.
I digress. I wanted to share what I need to tell her so that I'll remember it for whenever I feel like Heavenly Father says it's the right time for me to tell her what I feel He wants me to tell her.
Basically, it is this:
You are hacking at your own foundation with your fears and questions. Perhaps you did not have a solid foundation into Christ (THE Rock)... I have no real way of knowing. I believe Heavenly Father has given us all a good guide for overcoming fear and confusion: go back to the basics. If we doubt basically everything, go back to whatever is most basic that we do, for sure, believe in, and build from there.
Perhaps that means we go back to knowing that God is our Father and we're not really sure about anything else.
The different Primary manuals are available online. If you have a smart phone, you can download LDS tools and get all of them in one place. Otherwise, you can surely download them via desktop or laptop, too. If I was feeling as confused as my friend, I'd go to the nursery manual and start with the very first lesson and read it and all scriptures, songs, and whatever mentioned in it. And not just read it, but read it prayerfully... with a desire to know the truth... and a complete willingness to do what the Lord would have me do. That last part is a pretty big key that lots of folks leave out when asking God questions.
For instance, Jessie (my husband) has asked God if the Book of Mormon is true. He hasn't read the whole thing, so that's part of the problem... but he's also not willing to make the necessary changes - the changes that would be absolutely necessary if he were to receive The answer. He's not willing to make those changes. He's NOT willing to give away all his sins to know the truth.
I'm not saying that I (or anyone else who has a solid testimony of the restored Gospel as it is in the LDS church) am free of sin and that's how I can have a testimony. Definitely not. I am saying that I'm *willing* to give away all my sins to know the truth. Line upon line, here a little, there a little... I have "favorite" sins I'm struggling to overcome just like anyone else. But I've overcome others that I didn't think I ever would! In and through Christ Jesus ANYTHING is possible! I know it, because I've lived it!!!
The other main thing I felt Father directed me to convey is this: I'm pretty sure my friend (and others including her son) have misunderstood the word perfect and perfection.
As a result of this communication with my friend, I spent some time looking stuff up in the Celestial Room (only paper scriptures there) and found myself understanding my friend's misunderstanding... feeling like I can see exactly how she has misunderstood and what the words she's misunderstood actually mean. However, I have also received direct and firm instruction that she needs to learn these things by her own effort. It is not mine to give.  And, honestly, I think the same is true for anyone reading this and wanting to know what perfect and perfection really mean in the scriptures as God used them through humans.
I'm hoping that if you doubt, you'll go back to the basics AND look into what God means by perfect and perfection....
I just feel like I want to describe this "spiritual download" because it was so cool! I haven't experienced anything like it to this magnitude before. The only time I've experienced anything similar has been in relation to meditation and that has been wonderful... but this was... I don't even know how to describe it right now! I felt, in a way (and this is sorta silly, I think, but it's really true), like I was the genie, realizing my cosmic power! Like in Aladin! heeheehee I feel like I'm laughing inside right now because it just sorta sounds goofy. Anyway... it was wonderful!
Perhaps this wonderful experience is a sort of gift... I mean, I've been trying so hard to help my friend to see the truth. And nothing has helped. It definitely feels like another special Confirmation experience similar to the one I had so that I know that Joseph Smith really did what he professed and so that I would know this church is where I needed to raise my children. It's definitely of that caliber of an experience. And maybe Father has given me this additional Confirmation as a gift because of my efforts with my friend... because I have been attempting to convey to her that IS true - even though He knows she's taken some of it the wrong way.
Evelyn and Chris both said something very similar to me while they were here. I mention it because, although I disagree with it very much for various reasons, I feel like Heavenly Father had them both say this thing to me so that I would both understand and be able to obey His direction to me that I NOT share all that I learned today. They didn't say it at the same time... and different conversations sparked the statement... and they weren't necessarily together when they said it... and it was said in different ways by both of them. But they both told me, basically, that it is very dangerous to give people what they haven't had to work for spiritually. I believe this principle is often (though not always!) true for any type of giving... I mean, look at the welfare problems! Anyway... I disagree because there have been SO many times when the forward motion I was able to make came as a result of someone just TELLing me truth straight out. But, I guess, as in SO many ways, I am not the norm in this regard. Because I've definitely already had the experience with my friend that she needs to come to know certain things for herself and she has not valued the knowledge I have come by... not really. Not in a "yes, I understand" sort of way. Anyway... just another example of what Jessie has said frequently: "God is an AWESOME planner!" He surely is!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 44: June 2015 Temple Trip

We went on a Saturday toward the end of the month. It was to be the day before I would receive my new calling.
I cannot remember all the details now. Shame on me for waiting to record it. I'm glad I am at all, though, at this point. I've been trying to get out at night to Applebees or somewhere to just write. That hasn't happened. In part because I've slept so much! Up late now writing and not going to town (even though I very much want to) because we spent so much money on today's Temple trip (July 2015). ahwell
So, I think it was in the Celestial Room... but it may have begun in the Endowment. I was there among many others. A wedding, perhaps? And basically everyone there knew each other. I was the only one I saw who didn't have someone to speak to at all.
I heard/felt, "You do not belong."
I sorta responded... um, yeah. Kind obvious.
"No. You do not belong here."
Me: yep. Don't know anyone. I know.
"No. You do not belong HERE." and then images of each place I've ever lived, each Ward (including current), and zooming out to a view of the world from space.
The most wonderfully strange thing was, it felt absolutely WONDERFUL and amazing! I felt like I was wrapped up in God's absolute total and unconditional Love FOR ME and that He was telling me that He KNOWS I am wonderful BECAUSE I didn't belong anywhere He'd shown me. I felt GOOD and Loved and RIGHT....
What a gift! Anytime to see and feel what I saw and felt. Even more so, as it happens, given what happened the next day.
Before I get to that, I must convey that a texting fiasco had transpired and I wasn't sure if anyone was going to actually communicate with me about it or not.
As it happens (pertaining to the fiasco), that was also a gift of the painful sort. Father has used it to show me that the GOSSIPyness of this Ward is definitely on par with Deland and probably even as bad as Bunnell... I don't think it could be worse than Bunnell... but then again, I was WAY more obtuse to understanding the meannesses swirling around me back then. *sigh* I praise God for sheltering me so lovingly for so long.
Back to the main story.
The next day, in communication with two sweet ladies, I came to understand that I would definitely be released.  I realized I might be called in one of a couple ways I'd suspected. One of the latter "hand" possibilities being a calling I adore...Nursery.  I was so hoping for that one!   Although I do know it is considered by most/many in the church (because they don't understand the truth) as a "step down". Which is difficult, right? I mean, we don't exactly WANT to care what others think, but it's often difficult to completely not care... even for me.
As a result of the realization that I would not have as close association with the sisters I had begun to feel close to, I just felt this crushing sorrow over losing the bonding agent that the current calling at the time had been for me.... I'm pretty sure, at this point, that I have only one true friend in this Ward.
So, I felt sorrow and experienced a reminder "You are Not Of This World!" as a flash-back to the experience from the day before. It definitely was comforting. I wish I was better... because I struggle so much with what is THE WORLD IN MY FACE... or EAR... or whatever.... Like the time when Jmy was pulled off the counter. *sigh* Anyway...
God is so good to me! And such an awesome planner!!! I'm so grateful!!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 43: How We Chose Texas

This story would be more accurately entitled "How Jessie Chose Texas," but since I accepted it, I'll share from both sides from my perspective. One note: Jessie does often try to share the story as how WE chose to move here, but I work hard to correct him. He was the lead in choosing!
So, you remember in the story about why we left Florida that I was looking at various other states... primarily in the north? Unbeknownst to me, at some point, Jessie decided that maybe we did need to move. I'm guessing that he figured if we were going to move, he better put his two-cents in about WHERE we were going to end up, or we'd end up in some super cold-winter place like those I'd been suggesting. Since he doesn't like the cold much, he would definitely not prefer any of the places I was looking.
One day, when I was sharing some info about one of the states I'd been looking at, he told me he thought we should move to Texas. Just blurted it out. I was very surprised, but accepted it as a suggestion. So, I started looking at Texas, out of curiosity. I decided I wouldn't argue with him, unless I found that state to be odious to me.
I thought we'd move near Lubbock because Jessie's family has some connection there. I thought mine did, too, but my Mom tells me we do not. So, I was looking for land in that area and began to look at the laws of the state.
The issues MOST important to me: homebirth (including birthing multiples at home and birthing untraditional presentation, like breech, at home), homeschooling, and building codes. Come to find out: Texas is awesome for homebirthing, homeschooling, AND alternative building! It is legal to homebirth multiples at home. It is legal to birth breech at home. Homeschooling is even easier in Texas than Florida. And, although there are building codes, if you are building in an area that is not incorporated, it is illegal for anyone to come to inspect for those building codes! Those three points sealed the deal for me. I looked for land with focus and determination.
And then Jessie informed me that he thought we should move to East Texas. I asked him if he had an idea of where, since I hadn't asked the first time I heard about Texas and had poorly spent time looking somewhere he wasn't interested in. He told me he thought somewhere east of Dallas, maybe around Tyler. So, I started looking there.
Interestingly, I found recently (in December 2015), that Jessie has a relation buried in Tyler.  Maybe that's why he was so interested in that particular city.
When I asked him why he thought we should go there, he showed me a satellite view of Texas. He pointed out how there was almost a line from south to north where the land became more green toward the east. He said he figured it would be better to be somewhere that was green since we wanted to grow stuff.
And that's how we chose to look for our homeplace in East Texas!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 42: Why We Left Florida

When we bought the house in De Leon Springs, I had a very clear impression... a sure knowledge sort of experience, that we would live there for three to five years and then the Lord would move us. We would make enough from the sale of the house that we would be able to purchase something somewhere else. I had no idea where we would end up, just that we should move. We bought the house for $89,000, I think... or maybe it was 86. Either way, it was a really great deal.
During our four years there, the market went down and then back up. And up enough that we were able to sell it for 145,000. We had a profit of nearly 60,000. With that money, we were able to pay for all the expenses of moving, including our living expenses while we searched for our homeplace.
Backtracking a little... I was absolutely sure we would move sometime after living in the De Leon Springs house for three years or a little more, but less than five. We had to be there for at least three years so that we would not have to repay the incentive money we'd received for buying it when we did. We received nearly 8,000 all at once after we closed on the house and accepted the burden of a mortgage for it. That money was a tremendous blessing because we used it to pay off all of our credit debt.
Your Daddy was not of the same mind as me concerning a move. He did not have the same clear impression or sure knowledge. I didn't argue the point in the early days of our time in that house. But I knew from before we closed on it that house that it was your Daddys' house. Why?
It was a huge house. Showy. Very unusual. That last bit about being unusual is fitting for me, but the other two, not so much. I wasn't too keen on it. Your Daddy loved it before he saw it in real life. The size of the land was a greater priority to me than a huge house.  I wanted a big piece of land. I'd been focusing all my hunting on acreage with trailers because I wanted land so much.
When we went to see the house, his love of it was confirmed and he definitely wanted it. I was okay with that. After we visited it once before the closing, as we pulled out of the driveway, I asked Jessie, "If we're able to close on this house, are you going to be able to see that Heavenly Father has provided us such a huge house so that we would have enough room for eight children?" He said he probably could. Then I asked, "Would you be willing to let us have eight children?" He said that he might be able to, which was a huge change from the negative answers he'd given me before that.
As a result of that interaction, I knew we would close on the house. I knew we would live there. I'm not sure when the knowledge about how long we would live there came, but it was definitely before we moved in completely.
So, Jessie loved that house. He called it his castle. He wanted to paint it to look like it was built with large stones with a dragon on one side of it. He seriously loved that house!!
After we'd lived there a little more than two years, I started to suggest moving. Jessie was not willing to even consider it. Remember, he loved that house!
Many things happened over the course of those few months and eventually he wasn't so fully against the idea. He definitely wasn't FOR moving, yet, either, though!
A little after the three year mark, I started looking at places we might move to... like Montana, Alaska, Minnesota... places up north. I would mention a bit of information about them here and there. Jessie was not at all excited about the prospect of moving to a place where it was seriously cold. I didn't care for the cold, either... I was just looking at places I thought might be conducive to our somewhat "alternative" choices.
I don't know exactly when it happened, but your Daddy agreed to put the house on the market. We thought we should use a real estate agent, so we went with a member of my ward. Neither of us did our own due diligence... and given that this man, whom we hired as our realtor, was an upstanding member of the ward (had been Elder's Quorum President and was in leadership at the time), I thought we could trust him as a man of God. HA! He totally listed our house WAY higher than what anyone would pay in that market just to serve himself and what he wanted to make off of it.  I learned that later and experienced a tremendous shaking of my trust in males (I'd already had plenty before that... but this shake pertained even more specifically to member males).  If I've learned anything it must be this: just because you're Mormon, doesn't mean you're going to do the right thing.  I know that's true for me... I try.  But I also fail.
As it happened, Heavenly Father didn't provide for it to sell. I believe that part of that had to do with the possibility that we were trying to sell too early... and that He wanted that man to learn something from the sale not going through. I do not know if he did. But I sure learned that I could not and would not simply trust anyone... especially a man... who was a member of the church just because he was a member. I'm sure that my experience of being ostracized in that ward was, at least, partially due to that messed up business deal. I truly believe that I am only guilty of trusting too much.
So, after our contract with that realtor expired (which I found out was ridiculous for us to be in, compared to the market in the area), we relisted the house a couple months later on our own. Thankfully, the pictures I'd taken were already up and I was able to utilize them... that saved me a little time. The funny thing is that the realtor told me to take them down and not use them because they had a stamp from his place of employment... thinking that he'd taken them, I guess. But he had not! I had! The gall of that man. grrrr. Obviously not over the emotional side of the betrayal I felt as a result of him seeking his self-interest.
We had only one showing of the house. We may have had a couple calls about it, but I think, really, the only calls were those of the eventual buyers. Mr and Mrs. Hampton. Doug and Anita. I am still so grateful that she fell in love so completely with the house and that he was willing to buy it with her!
There were some delays in the whole process. The closing took about a month longer than any of us expected. But we did close. And, indeed, the delayed process was, of course, a gift from God (for us and hopefully our buyers, too).
The land we eventually bought, our homeplace, was put on the market only 18 days before we found it. If we'd been looking in our new area when we planned to be looking based on our original closing, we may not have found this particular place. And, in reality (contrary to our expectation), it was relatively difficult to find a place that was 10 acres and relatively level AND not under water after heavy rain. Our homeplace was a gem among stones... especially in our price rage, which was, at most, $35,000.
I'll tell you more about all that (and maybe repeat some of the above) in a story about our land. Look for it next week and thereafter.
The main reason I felt like we had to leave Florida is that it is illegal to homebirth multiples in Florida. It is also illegal to homebirth breech presentation in Florida. Because I believe homebirth is the ONLY way to go for both (and singles, too), I felt very uneasy about staying in Florida much past EmJ's birth.

Amazingly and interestingly, we learned only after moving away from Florida that there was a law up for voting to make living off-grid illegal in Florida.  Sickeningly it passed.  We live off-grid in many ways and had a desire to do so long before we moved away.  Interesting, yes?

There are a few stories I've already shared about our time in transition:
Our Move: Van Living

Van Living
Last for the Van Living Series (at time of publishing this post, the story is not yet posted, but you can search for it!)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 41: Why I Chose Homeschooling

These stories are about my life as I have seen, felt, and lived it. Most of the time I write about "my" children simply because they are mine and this is MY story. This story is in kind. This is about why I chose homeschooling. Since this is one of those good things about which my children's Daddy and I had much heated debate (he was against it in the beginning), it is my not-so-humble-opinion that my reasons for choosing homeschooling are the most important. I encourage my children to ask their Daddy why he chose homeschooling and decide what they think.  Of course, he's likely not to remember that he was pitted against me on this subject.... ahwell.  As for the rest of you... you probably don't know my husband and if you want to... well, probably tough luck.  lol
So... homeschooling.
When I was younger, I saw it as something only weirdos did. Why? Well, because my Mom's twin sister and her husband homeschooled my cousins and they were "weird".  In reality, they were sweet, smart, and very religious. My family has been bound under a generational curse pertaining to a belief of lack and another pertaining to a belief of worthlessness (definitely on both sides, so including my Mom's family). This is totally pertinent because these two curses have worked much trauma in both lines of my family. In my Mom's side, in particular, I can see very clearly among her siblings and her own behavior (mostly my Uncles and my Mom) lots of competition.
I have attempted to teach, my children, that competition is only ever encouraged by the devil. Yes, I believe, even competition against oneself. If you are trying to be better than you were, perhaps it is more appropriately phrased: I'm inspired to become better than I was. To say: I'm competing with myself so that I will be better than I was is putting yourself in opposition to yourself. Words are so powerful. I have used them far more poorly and unwisely than I ever thought I would or could. I pray my children will be and do better than me... because, as I repeat so often to them: "You ARE better than me!  Do better than me!"
My Aunt V and Uncle J homeschooled their six children. My Mom, seemed to seek opportunity to denigrate their choice. She cited their poor spelling as one example. There were many others. I choose not to remember them... not even sure why that one came so readily to my mind, but it did. The fact of the matter is one that my Mom either wasn't aware of or didn't want to acknowledge: there are gaps in any education. One of the largest and most horrible in that of public schooled children (I was one, so I'm speaking about myself here... as well as anyone else) is that of true socialization. That means that Public Schooled children don't have the ability to socialize naturally... with those of any age: both younger and older, the way that homeschooled children could potentially do with much greater ease.
Most of my life, I heard negative stuff about homeschooling. Basically, children who were homeschooled ended up being totally weird. They couldn't relate to their peers... or similar... which I now see and know to be nonsense.
And then I began to meet folks who I found out were homeschooled. And each one of them blew my assumptions, presumptions, and expectations OUT of the water.
Danny Mark Donny-Clark is one of the first kids I KNEW was homeschooled. And, as he compared himself to his siblings, he was the stupid one. Well, I must tell you, he was FAR from stupid! And his knowledge and intelligence was both deep and wide in fascinating ways. I will not claim to have depth or breadth in any of the ways the homeschooled young adults or adults I've known have had.
I also met his brother, Kerry. He was also amazingly intelligent, well-read, and had SO much experience in/of life already. He was younger than me when I met him (I was 24), but he'd LIVED so much more!
I met another homeschooler during my first year as a teacher. This time a young lady.
And then I began to see them... there was something DIFFERENT about homeschoolers. Now, I describe this difference as a purity of countenance. It happens to stick on LDS youth more than many, but even they tend to lose it by adulthood. But homeschooled adults don't seem to lose it. Or perhaps many do and I just haven't met them. That's very possible.
Every homeschooled person I met in my adult life has been fascinating to me. So much smarter than I think of myself (and I do like to think I'm smart), more widely read than me, more broadly understanding of so many things... they are just better human beings in many ways (and of course, in my opinion).
Somehow, though, prior to my marriage to my husband, I didn't consciously consider homeschooling for my own children. Sad, but true. This is a principle that is true among humans: we do not consider doing differently than we had done to us unless something glaringly obvious happens to us to teach us how wrong the status quo is or was. And then we may question and come to new conclusions.
My glaringly obvious incident is as follows: I was a teacher as Rosemont Middle School in Norfolk, Virginia. My first year in the role as sixth grade English teacher, I had one of the worst groups of children to come through in years. (I was informed of this by a few veteran teachers.) The whole experience was pretty horrible. But one in particular caused me to re-evaluate public school and turn away from it as an option for any of my children. Basically, I ended up in a tug-of-war with a very unruly child who was also very angry. He was supposed to be outside of the room and going to the office of a vice principal. He would not and we played tug-of-war with the door. He also pushed me in my preggie belly, which caused me great concern for my Ria (though I didn't know she was who she was at the time).
After that experience, I told Jessie we would not send any of our children to public school. I acknowledge that there may come a time when it could happen. I doubt it, but it could happen. I cannot foresee clearly enough to know much of anything about the future for sure. As I grow older and learn more, I learn that truth with increasing surety.
So, I began homeschooling Ria just as soon as I could. Probably around 6 months old, maybe earlier considering sign language. Sixth months old is when I incorporated flash cards of numbers and textured shape thingys she could hold while I repeated ad nauseam what the shape was called. Why did I do this?
Well, Ria's Daddy was completely and totally opposed to homeschooling. He was pitted strongly against it and thus, me. So, I felt it necessary to prove to him how awesome homeschooling would be for our child and future children so that he would stand with me, rather than against me.
I praise the Lord for a brief conversation I had with Sister Stubbs (mother of eight, I think) who I sat near at a Relief Society dinner. I think I had Ria with me. I'm sure we talked about all things pertaining to little ones and I'm sure I shared about how I was homeschooling or going to homeschool my children. However it happened, she shared with me the title: How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I purchased that title just as soon as I could manage it and began working with Ria when she was 3. Sister Stubbs son had been reading before he was 4, so surely Ria would, too. I'm sure I did it wrong. Honestly. The way a Mother of 8, with her last child, would interact with said child is very different, I'm sure (given my own experiences), than the way I did with Ria. Too much pressure from me. Too ridiculous of expectations (which has long been a problem I have only recently realized - writing Feb. 13, 2015).
Ria was not reading before she was 4. But she was reading WHEN she was 4! And reading very well and independently before she was 5. By the time I had Tea (third daughter), Ria was able to reliably and correctly read most any children's book I might get from the library and she often did read to Kat. What a tremendous blessing to me!
This was the thing that turned my children's Daddy's heart to homeschooling and changed his mind.
I did all of the difficult first lessons with Ria. I got her to the end of the book, but not finished with it. Then I asked her Daddy to help me by doing a lesson with Ria. I didn't need the help.  I wanted him to see the proof in the puddin', as it were.  He had to read the directions in the beginning of the book to prepare himself. He did so reluctantly... he doesn't like to be told to do anything... especially not by me. But he did read the necessary instructions. Then he did a lesson with Ria.
He was flabberghasted. Our little adorable Ria was reading! She was probably at one of the lessons in which the transition to the completely normal roman alphabet is not complete, and he would've asked about that. And I would've shown him how the transition happens. Regardless of those details, her Daddy was so super impressed with how well Ria was reading that he became a homeschool advocate. I'm very glad for it and have been ever since.
More recently, he has expressed concern that our children are not doing more structured lessons. I have not attempted to share unschooling ideology with him because he would probably freak out more than he already has without the explanation. But I have, from the very beginning, felt magnetically drawn to that form of homeschooling. However, I think, at this point, that my goal is really unstructured homeschooling more than unschooling because the latter means the parents don't direct or tell the children what to do at all. I believe this is a form of neglect, in a way... and I disagree with it and will not implement it. However, we are very unstructured right now and have been since our move to Texas.
We have our homeschool books and supplies out and the children work with them regularly.  I did take my time with that because I desired to make sure to give my children adequate time to play on our land... to learn from the world around them! To learn how to enjoy themselves with each other. I believe these lessons are the most important for right now.
Basically, though, for my part, we are homeschooling our children because I know they are better than me. So I want to give them the opportunity to BE better than me. As a result of the experiences of my life, I believe that homeschooling affords the greatest opportunity to realize my hopes and dreams for my children. And it sure does feel nice to know that I am, in part, directly responsible for the sweet, smart, well-read, and healthy children that my children are and amazing human beings they are on their way to becoming! I would be even if they went to public school... it's just even more because we homeschool!

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