Friday, October 21, 2016

Of Preschool Memories and Wall Murals

Last month, Isaac took a real interest in learning about the planets, astronauts, rockets, and all things space.  One morning, we expanded one of our AYOPS art activities beyond just a window hanging of the earth into a creation of the entire solar system.  We used coffee filters, liquid water colors, and plastic pipettes for a fun and messy art project!  Our planets were not to scale, but we did try to make them the same colors as a book from the library showed us.

Saturn, by JoJo. 
(Minus the rings.)

The special flare!


Our planets drying outside.

And here they are on display.

Isaac showing you the book we referenced for this project.

Scenes like this make me smile.

I love that my kids love books!

Writing and drawing in paint.

Practicing letters.

A cursive "a".

Dress-up time!

My silly boy. :)

He cracks me up!

Two silly boys!

Sorting marbles by color.

Playing "library."

Isaac repairing a bird house he found in our shed with nails he found in Daddy's cabinet.

Uh-oh...a mischief-maker on the loose!

Somebody enjoyed the dirt today!

Make that two somebodies!

I do believe the bath tub is calling his name...

The following pictures show what our friend, Rachel Horvath, and I worked on recently at church during a visit she made at the church's request; a project I like to call:
Operation: Paint the Children's Wing

The left side of the hallway shows what the "before" color and style of the hallway was, minus the flowered wallpaper border that had already been taken down from the top of the walls.
To get things started, Rachel (our visiting artist for the week) picked out this happy light blue color seen on the right-hand side to serve as the base coat for the various murals to be painted on top.  It immediately brightened up the hallway and made it look so child-friendly!

This is the first mural Rachel painted.  That bulletin board has to stay where you see it in order to accommodate legal paperwork required by the state for the daycare that our church houses, so we tried to come up with a design that would incorporate the bulletin board.

A Fruit of the Spirit tree seemed just the thing!

I love how she made it wrap around this corner.

And sunflowers add a cheerful pop of color!

Here, Rachel is painting detail work on a picture of Jesus and the children, the second mural she tackled.  

We both learned and grew great a lot through this project.  Rachel had never painted people on a wall, and I had never painted letters.  As it turned out, I ended up doing all the lettering for all three walls we worked on, and she did an amazing job with the people (and all the other incredible detail work)!

I was really happy with how this Books of the Bible wall turned out considering how nervous I was to attempt it in the beginning.  For the girl who's never been able to draw or cut a straight line in her life, I thought there was no way I could paint 66 (plus!) words up there without making them crooked, but brick walls have a way of helping keep things straight. :)  I prayed over this wall as I worked, and God made it turn out all right!

The Old Testament
I promise you can read those words written in yellow much better in person.  For some reason, the lighting of the picture makes them look difficult to read here.

The New Testament

And here is the picture of Jesus and the children all complete!  I ended up helping Rachel toward the end so we could get the mural finished before her flight out the next day (hello 2:00 a.m. finish times!), and she proved to be a great teacher!  Painting alongside of her in this project gave me a renewed appreciation for painters.  I thought it would be like filling in a coloring book - only with paint - but was I ever wrong!  There's so much more that goes into the whole process from brush type to brush stroke, to amount of paint, and texture,  She amazes me.

Doesn't it look good?

Three walls down...a whole bunch more to go!
(Rachel, come back!!)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Silent Struggle

This blog post has been brewing in my thoughts for several months now.  I keep putting off the writing of it for many reasons, but the time has come to do some sharing of a very personal nature.  For anyone reading this post, I want you to know that this sharing comes from the desire to bring help and hope to others who might be struggling in a similar way to what I have experienced.

Anyone who has been a long-time blog reader of this little corner on the web may recall a post I wrote back in 2013 that can be referenced here for the background to what I will write about tonight:  In this post, I detailed the hard lessons of an ongoing health problem that was the result of child birth.  Little did I know at the time of that writing that it was only the beginning of my journey.

Allow me to continue the story...

When I wrote that blog post, I was three months into a daily struggle with hemorrhoids.  Two more months would pass of off and on pain, discouragement, and experiments with any possible remedy to bring permanent relief from the most excruciating agony I had ever endured.  Finally, at long last, the answer came through the midwife who had delivered my baby and whom I "happened" to bump into in town one day.  "Have you tried magnesium?" she asked.  It wasn't the first time I had heard of magnesium as a possible aid in healing, but for some reason unknown to me now, I had forgotten about the idea or been unwilling to try it on top of the myriad of other things on my list of experiments.  This time, I decided to give it a try since I had nothing to lose...and lo and behold, after about 3 days of being on the supplement, I experienced noticeable relief.  A week went by...two weeks.  The hemorrhoids (which never go away from one's body once you get them) had at last retreated into silence.  No longer did they scream with pain every day.  No longer did they take over my life with the all-consuming drive to be free of their shackles.  At a time when I had begun to wonder if I would ever know the meaning of "normal life" again, God provided the answer to my prayers in the form of a small, white pill available for a few dollars at the local pharmacy.

Enter child birth number two.  An early baby, a smaller baby, a delivery that was practically pain-free and involved 3 minutes of pushing instead of 3 hours...and absolutely zero problems with hemorrhoids in the weeks that followed.  I was ecstatic and full of praise to the Lord!  By this point, magnesium was simply a part of my daily life and had armed me with confidence that I would forever be okay.

Enter child birth number three.  A little more pushing involved this time...maybe 20 minutes?  Maybe a big longer?  The specifics are a bit fuzzy.  (One day, I still plan to write his birth story here, or at least what I remember of it!)  A few weeks went hemorrhoids.  I was so very grateful.  Then, we moved across the country.  I'm not sure if it was three days of sitting in the car, the weird things that traveling can do to one's digestive system, or the stress of moving with three children two years old and under, but for some reason, the hemorrhoids manifested themselves once again.  Despite my initial discouragement, I wasn't overly worried.  I thought to myself,  "I've fought these enemies before and won (by the grace of God); surely, we can win this battle again!"  Thankfully, at the time, my sweet friend, Rachel Horvath, was staying with us to help with the move, the children, and the unpacking.  She had two weeks left in her stay when the hemorrhoids reared their ugly heads, so my goal was to see them dormant by the time her two weeks' was up.

Once again, I started in on my regimen of natural remedies.  (I didn't even bother with a doctor appointment this time as I knew the excruciating pain that would bring and the prescription for topical creams that had not resulted in any kind of lasting relief the previous time.)  I upped my magnesium dosages considerably.  I increased my fiber and water intake.  I took sitz baths.  I applied essential oils topically.  I took a probiotic.  Much to my surprise, nothing I tried worked this time!  As the days went by and the pain raged, the worry started to creep in.  Why wasn't my body responding to the same treatments it had before?  Feverishly, I scoured the internet for any and all natural home remedies I could try to overcome hemorrhoids.  I tried apple cider vinegar treatments in various forms.  I tried tumeric powder mixed with olive oil.  I lived on IB Profen.  Dozens of experiments later, and still, nothing worked for longer than a day or two.

Rachel's visit came to an end and I was left with the full responsibility of running the household and caring for my three little people while suffering with debilitating pain most days.  It was rough, yet God was certainly my strength and my stay.  He gave me the ability to keep going one day at a time.

People at church would ask me all the time how I was doing.  There were a few I confided in with the truth and even asked prayer of the lady's Sunday school class, but overall, hemorrhoids are a silent struggle.  It's embarrassing and incredibly personal to talk about.  I didn't know very many people well enough in our new location to feel comfortable sharing what was really going on in my life at the time.  I was embarrassed to have to carry around a donut-shaped pillow stuffed into a pillow case to sit on everywhere I went, knowing it was likely causing questions in people's minds as they watched me.  My husband was supportive and helpful, but busy in a new ministry, and my family was deeply sympathetic, but couldn't do much from afar except listen and pray.  I could do little but cling to God and keep trying anything that might bring relief.

The struggle stretched on for the course of 7 months...longer even than the first go-round!  Thankfully, the pain wasn't constant for those 7 months.  It was off and on, though mostly on, and there were even some days I considered very manageable.

Finally, as a last resort, I decided to try some products from a health and wellness company called Plexus.  Both my brother-in-law and a close friend had used their supplements for various needs in the past, so when a different friend started posting about Plexus on Facebook regularly, I was already vaguely familiar with the name.  The more she posted, the more I grew curious as to whether these supplements could possibly aid in a full recovery from my hemorrhoids.  I was very skeptical at first, though (due to the fact that Plexus is a multi-level-marketing style company, which I had always stayed away from in the past), and took weeks - if not months - of research and thinking to finally take the plunge and give their products a try.  Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Since my brother-in-law is an Ambassador for Plexus, I started out ordering the supplements I wanted from him with the 60-day money-back guarantee firmly in place.  I began with a combo package called Tri-Plex.  Each of the three products that make up the Tri-Plex are aimed at "replenishing beneficial microorganisms, restoring healthy gut lining, and maintaining a healthy immune system."  (I had also heard they could help with balancing blood sugar, which I figured might improve my energy levels.)  I eased my way into each of the three products so as not to overwhelm my body with too much detoxifying at first, and because I was nursing a baby and didn't want to overwhelm his system.

Much to my surprise and delight, the products worked -- and quickly!  Merely three days into taking the BioCleanse supplement, which is a more powerful form of magnesium than I was taking, combined with additional vitamins, I experienced tremendous relief!  Next, I incorporated the ProBio 5 high quality probiotic.  After two or three weeks of being on just these two supplements, the hemorrhoid pain had totally and completely gone!  Lastly, I added the Slim product and was excited to see how it continued to aid in cleansing and digestion as well as the balanced blood sugar and stable energy I had been hoping for as time went on.

I wish I could accurately communicate how deeply grateful and terribly excited I was to find supplements that allowed my body to heal from The Silent Struggle that had again consumed so much of my life for the previous 7 months!  During that time, the Lord built into my heart a new compassion for people who live with chronic pain...yet, when the end finally came, I was so thankful to be freed from the chronic pain that had tortured my body and to return to being a fully engaged wife and mom.

A few months into using the Plexus products as a customer of my BIL, I finally signed up to become an Ambassador myself in order to benefit from the wholesale pricing available on all products.  I also wanted to become an Ambassador in case it allowed me the opportunity to share about Plexus with others who might benefit from these products.

And that is why I break the silence now to share the rest of my story.  Plexus happens to be offering free shipping on all their products for a few days right I thought, what better time to tell people about them?  Maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there who is also struggling with a challenging health problem and has tried everything on the market to no avail.  Maybe, just maybe, Plexus can help them too.

The best way I can describe Plexus products in a nut shell would be dietary supplements made from clean ingredients, many of them plant-based, that aim to help people experience and maintain a cleansed and healthy gut, stable blood sugar, healthy weight management, and a body that functions well and feels good overall.  Since so many different ailments and immune system problems originate in our guts, the signature Plexus products start here by helping to clean things out and support the production of good gut flora.  As a result, people all across the world have a wide spectrum of different testimonies regarding how Plexus helped them achieve optimum health including some very serious health struggles.

However, Plexus is not just intended for those with serious problems.  I know a number of people who are benefitting from the products simply for daily health maintenance purposes and for keeping their immune systems strong because of a healthy gut.  As I've been expecting a baby now while taking these supplements, I've been very pleased to not struggle (for the first time!) with blood sugar dips and light-headedness/faintness at various times of day as I have in the past.  In other words, the benefits come in all shapes and sizes! :)

Because Plexus products are dietary supplements, they have "not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease," just the same as any other other vitamin or natural health product on the market.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in learning more about Plexus products, you can read about them at this web link under the Products tab:

There are three ways to order for those who might want to give these products a try, all of which have a 60-day money-back guarantee connected with them:
1) Retail
2) Preferred Customer
3) Ambassador

With Retail, you will pay the highest price, but you only have to make a one-time purchase.

Being a Preferred Customer means that you get the second-best price, but you are put on a monthly auto-ship schedule, which some may or may not prefer.  The good news with this is that you can cancel at any time you don't want a monthly order - no strings attached!  After three month's orders in a row, you receive a 10% discount on all future products.

The third way to order is as an Ambassador.  In the long run, this is the least expensive way to order as you get everything at wholesale price.  You do have to pay a yearly membership fee, which is about $35 right now, but you also have the chance to build a business out of it if you so desire.

Tax and shipping will have to be paid for all products ordered, but is not included in the pricing until checkout.  That's one reason the free shipping promotion being offered right now through October 17th is such a sweet deal!  For those wanting to take advantage of it, you will need this code at checkout: OCTSHIP

This blog post has certainly grown long!  If you've stuck with me this far, you are to be commended. :)  I don't usually get this vulnerable in the public eye, but it's worth it to me if just one person can be helped during our earthly sojourn.  Of course, heaven is the only place we will be free of all pain and suffering, and I look forward to being with the Lord Jesus there one day!  Most importantly, I am His ambassador, so if you have questions about your eternal destination, I would love to share more with you in that regard too.

In the meantime, if Plexus products might aid or benefit your health journey during this life time, I would encourage you to check into them!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It's Another BOY!

Snips and snails,
And puppy dog tails!

It's a good thing we like boys so much around here, because Baby #4 is another boy! :)
Here is his tiny profile with his hand resting under his chin. 
A serious thinker, perhaps?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Second Week of School (plus great library finds!)

We had another fun week of preschool, though I'll admit I didn't take as many pictures as the first week. :)  Isaac, however, made up for my lack of pictures with his own collection that he walked around snapping for a "My World" book project he started working on.  The next step is to print these pictures, cut them out, and glue them into a book.  Our preschool curriculum is big on making different kinds of child-produced books for learning and preserving purposes, which I love.  Isaac's "My World" book will be the fourth one in his collection so far (since we started back in the spring).  Out of the 70-something photos he took for this book, I narrowed down a few of his better ones to share with you:

The "treehouse" he's been working diligently to build every day for a week.  Most of it is in his imagination, but he still spends a significant portion of each day on the front porch hammering, installing pipes, and creating things with sticks.  So fun to see his creativity!

The littlest brother.

The three musketeers.

He took lots of pictures of our chickens!

The coop up on the hill.

Mom and JoJo out choring.

His beloved stuffed lamb, inherited from Josiah.

Now for a few of the pictures I took:

Making berry-tea play dough (which smelled amazing, by the way).

Happy helpers!

Playdoukh cookies.

A snake.

Having fun with my children.
Photo credit: Isaac

Josiah enthusiastically telling me about his shapes.

More playdough fun with glass stones leftover from our fish bowl.

Isaac decided to make the earth.

Josiah made bread and hot dogs.

Dressing up in caps...

and playing the peddler from our various "Caps for Sale" books we check out from the library.

Drawing shapes in corn meal and practicing a few alphabet letters too.

Making lines.

Here the boys are playing a "run around the clock" game in preparation for learning to write the "clock-face letters" of our Spell to Write and Read program.

Stopping at the 9.

Friday night move night.

Isaac's creative dinner made of marbles and pretend food.

He created it all himself and was so proud to show me!  The marbles are macaroni and cheese.  There is also pizza, apples, and tea to drink. :)

Finally, here are a few library treasures we enjoyed reading these last two weeks:

In keeping with our hot air balloon kick-off, I checked out several stories involving hot air balloons.  This title by Margaret Wise Brown was our favorite.  Such an imaginative story with fun, colorful pictures as two children take a pretend balloon ride to far off places!

Caps for Sale has long been one of Isaac's favorite picture books.  I think we've checked it out on several occasions from the library since the time he was two years old.  You can imagine how excited I was to discover additional titles by the same author/illustrator continuing the story of the famous peddler who sells caps off his head and deals with mischievous monkeys. :)  These two books were by far the ultimate favorites of the week for both Isaac and Josiah!

I'm sorry this image isn't bigger, but it's the only one I could find on Google for the book What Daddy Loves, a Reader's Digest picture book.  The story was incredibly sweet about a little girl dog loving all the things her daddy dog loves because she loves him so much.  And the pictures were of the most whimsical, delightful kind.

Lastly, I'll share this adorable little board book that was one of Josiah's favorites.  It contains a "recipe" for putting six little rabbits to bed and all that the mother rabbit does to get them ready.  The rhyming text was simple and cute, but it was the fun, detailed pictures of all the rabbits were doing on each page that held the boys' attention so much.  I asked them lots of questions as we looked at the pictures about what they saw to test their observance of the illustration, which was both enjoyable and challenging for them.