Whew. I could write tons about what all we've been doing lately, but if I put it in a nutshell, it wouldn't be terribly exciting. Basically, the kids run wild while I try to nap. :-) OK, that's probably an extreme, but sometimes it seems as if all I'm doing is trying to catch a few extra winks while calling out something along the lines of "Would you PLEASE be quiet so Mommy can get some rest?!"
Kenna has actually gone 4 hours between feedings almost every night for the past week or so. The problem is that it's only once, and the next stretch would only be 2 1/2 or 3 hours at the most. Even worse, after that feeding, she sometimes would wake halfway through her cycle and fuss awhile. By Saturday I was thinking I would check myself into a funny farm, but thankfully the last two nights have been better. Sunday night I fed her at 10:30 p.m., 3 a.m., and 6:30 a.m. Not bad! Last night I fed her at 9:30 p.m., 1:30 a.m., and 4:30 a.m. and just stayed up after the last feeding so I could have a semi-normal morning with my hot tea, quiet time, and shower. Aaaahhh! I've even gotten naps 2 days in a row, despite the efforts of the older kids to inform me about every little transgression committed by their siblings.
In other news, we have our Sonlight box!!! The language arts instructor's guide is on backorder but should arrive in the next week or two. I'm beyond thrilled with all of our new stuff, and let me tell you, it was no easy task to keep all those great books away from the kids while I was sorting through the packing slip! Tobin actually did read almost all of the readers already, but I'm sure he won't mind reading them again when the time comes. I did manage to keep the read-alouds out of their greedy little paws! It warms my heart to see my kids so excited about books. I plan to take some time to read through the instructors' guides, organize my binders, and rework our daily schedule so that when everything is here and organized, we can start off the right way.
Updating our daily schedule is something I've felt very convicted about. Now that Kenna is 6 weeks old, I desperately need for us all to get back on track. This haphazard approach to life of late has left me discouraged and frazzled. I realize that we need to be flexible while I am nursing a small baby who may or may not want to nurse every 3 hours on the dot every day the way she has much of the time. And I realize that a certain amount of clutter and chaos is perfectly normal for anyone, let alone a mom in my situation. Still, without a plan, I find myself going crazy when I look around and see all the piles of STUFF that somehow accumulate despite my best efforts to clean the house before bedtime. (The kids do a pretty good job of helping with this, but their standards of cleanliness are much different than mine!)
School days have also been hit and miss. If I've had a rough night with Kenna and try to snatch an extra hour or so of sleep in the morning, we don't eat breakfast until 9 or 9:30 and I don't shower until who-knows-when. It's awfully hard to get motivated to start school when it's after 10 a.m. and my mind is still foggy from lack of sleep. I'm hoping that our new materials will restore the excitement for all of us and help me feel my kids are getting a more well-rounded education. For awhile now it seems all I've had energy to keep up with is their math and handwriting. I know they've been getting lots of reading practice, and I've read aloud to them often while also letting them read to me, so that all has to count for something. And we do try to do our Bible stories every morning...though that falls by the wayside on my grumpy mornings.
I'm doing a lot of praying these days--praying that God will help my kids forget all the negative things I'm saying because I'm hormonal, moody, and tired. Praying that I can be consistent with training and discipline. Praying that I will show love to them even when they are driving me crazy. Praying that somehow God will use me to teach them what He wants them to know, despite all my flaws. It's been a rough year already, but I know it's only going to get better. Kenna should be sleeping through the night before too long, and I know from past experience that it's amazing what a difference it makes in my perspective to be able to sleep without interruption.
Somehow, in the midst of all the trials, the Bible study for Commission is coming along. I've written all 5 quiet times and am almost finished with the third day of group study. Two more to go, and if I have time, the Staffers' supplemental material and Counselors' discussion questions. If I don't have time to do the latter two, I know the Commission staff will understand. The theme this year is "Escape from Fantasy Island." We're examining Truth and the path to freedom. It's been an exciting and challenging topic. It always is, though! Whatever our theme, God always makes it come alive in my own heart as I'm writing it, usually through difficult circumstances. :-)
Most of my difficult circumstances (aside from lack of sleep) revolve around problems with the children's attitudes and behavior. It seems we are currently struggling with Charis's attitude--if it's not her idea, she doesn't want to do it, and that includes everything from chores to schoolwork to playtime activities. When she gets it in her head that something is "NOT FAIR" (usually meaning that she doesn't want to do what she's been asked, and it's NOT FAIR that I asked her to do something as horrible as working on her handwriting assignment or setting the table), then I suffer the Look of Wrath as only can be given by a 6-year-old. I've found papers with the words "Mean Mommy" written on them, and while part of me wants to die laughing at the drama, part of me just wants to cry because she's just not getting it. Today I talked with her about what "mean mommies" are really like. Hello--reality check! Mean mommies are mommies who beat their kids, yell and hurt their kids, or even abandon them forever. Is it mean for Charis's mommy to try to teach her to do the right thing?! I think not! Sigh.
Tobin's issue is less complex but nevertheless difficult. He hits. Or kicks. I've tried various approaches to this, but nothing seems to be getting the message through to him that it is never appropriate to hurt other people who are not trying to hurt him. Interestingly, the book Creative Correction (by Lisa Whelchel), which I love for its various ideas regarding the training and discipline of our children, is silent on the issue of hitting. You can look up nearly every other problem, from lying to tattling, and find some great ideas for stopping the behavior, but I haven't found anything on this topic. (Granted, I still haven't finished reading the book, but I did look in the topical index!!)
Arden, easygoing child that he is, nevertheless has his own issue. He's becoming quite the little drama king, crying over every little thing. Sometimes it takes great patience and a fair share of interpretation skills to be able to discern what the problem is, as his crying makes it difficult to understand what he is saying. On occasion he has a legitimate complaint (often related to Tobin's issue described above), but more often it's something ridiculous or a request that I simply can't grant. "I want to have Charis's bear," for example, when Charis is playing with it. As pathetic as he might look and sound, I can't just take his sister's toy away from her to appease him. This results in much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Add to this the fact that most drama occurs when I am nursing Kenna, and you have an idea of why we accomplish so little when it comes to ticking off tangible tasks on a to-do list. I can only hope and pray that the character education is somehow taking root and will pay off dividends down the road...