Health Feed

Mitten Strings for God: Ch. 14 "Healing"

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! Thank you so much for stopping by. It's been a bright and mild weekend here in New England, and the brisk air smells like woodsmoke and soft earth ... I think it's safe to say Spring has finally sprung! 💚

How are things where you are these days? I'd love to talk weather, and compare notes ... but first, may I offer you a cup of tea?

As many of you know, I drink tea nearly every day, and as I suspect most tea-lovers would agree, it never tastes (nor feels) quite so good as it does when one is feeling a bit under the weather. I find it to be the very best kind of medicine - much like a hug in a mug. :)

Now, generally speaking, I stick with black teas (and usually decaf) but I do love a nice herbal tea from time to time. The soothing heat and fragrant herbs seem to go straight where I need them. I find all teas both physically and spiritually nourishing, but herb teas really seem just a bit magical, don't you think?

Have an ailment? There's a tea for that:

Can't sleep? Lavender. Tummy upset? Peppermint. Need to relax? Floral. Brain fog? Lemon.

I am definitely no expert in herbs and herbal teas, but I am eager to learn as much as I can. It's a bit of a hobby of mine, though my thumb isn't quite as green as it could be. But with each growing season I get a little more "authentic" as a budding, amateur herbalist, and I try to expand how we incorporate herbs (and other natural alternatives) in our household with each passing year, too. 

As for today's tea, though - it's a rather healing one, and perfect for this post. Because honest to Pete, I am in fact nursing a sore throat. It seems a bit early in the year to blame allergies, so instead I'll point the finger at Crackerjack who brought home a lousy cold early last week. Usually I'm fairly immune to most cold viruses - for some happy reason, they skip over me - but this one is gathering steam and has become a bit of a bother. So herbal tea was my choice today (a lovely Buttermint I'm particularly fond of) and for good measure, I threw down a few of my favorite cough drops. (I also snuck a dollop of honey in my brew ... I think half the battle is lifting one's spirits when fighting an illness and I'm the first admit I like things rather sweet!)

Ok, so that's enough about my tea - which as you can see above was taken at my writing desk, with a nice view of the side yard where Bill and the older boys were doing some burning. At the other window, a little further down on this wall, I had situated the younger two, who were not allowed outside until the burning was done (or nearly). I encouraged them to sit here in the window and watch, while I worked on my weekly planning on the other side of the room.


As you can imagine, the leaping flames caused a bit of excitement! Finally, once the pile was nearly done, I brought them outside to sit and watch ... at a distance:


We haven't burned in years, as we try to compost as much as we can instead - but this past winter's tree damage was really above and beyond what we can handle. So burning was the thing to do on this day!

Ok, so now you're all wondering - weren't we here to talk about a book?

Well ... continuing on with our Mitten Strings for God book study, this week we are talking about "Healing," an important (and multi-layered) parenting concept. Because there's taking care of our children's bodies when they are injured or ill ... and then there's taking care of their insides - wounded feelings or weepy moods - when it's needed. These are all opportunities to teach our children how we treat those we love, and show them how much they mean to us.

"When we minister to our children with love and care, we teach them to care for others in return. Through our own loving example, we show the healing way, opening their hearts to the needs of those around them." (p. 102)

Healing our children is so much more than just tending to a knee bump or a head cold - because as we do, we are also comforting and soothing their very spirits. We are showing them how love works. We're reminding them they're not alone in this world. We're proving to them that they matter. And we are telling them we are here for them always - a little blood or boogie isn't going to keep their mamas (or papas) away!

"But sometimes our children are really asking for more from us than a perfunctory response, and that is when we must minister not only to the skinned knee, but to an inner need as well. It does not good to advise a weeping child that the pain will go away on its own. We are mothers, after all, and it is our job to DO something." (p. 100)

And so that's what we do, we mamas ... we figure out just what TO do. Sometimes it's just a brush of the bottom and a kiss on the cheek. "Ok, you're fine - off you go!" But sometimes a little more attention is warranted, and that's when we reach for the heavy artillery: cough syrups, calamine, soothing salves and perhaps best of all, the bandaids ...

What would we ever DO without bandaids??

"To an adult, a Band-Aid may be nothing but a sticky plastic strip; but to a child it is a badge of honor, imbued with magical healing properties. Be grateful, and stock up." (p. 101)

Now you might keep these kinds of medicinal products and first aid accessories on a shelf in your pantry or a bin at the bottom of your linen closet. But what I LOVED best of all about this chapter was the suggestion to make up a special basket to use when tending to our children in their time(s) of need.

"And so I created the "hurt basket," a treasure chest of magical lotions, potions, and healing aids." (p. 101)

We keep our medicinal supplies in a few different places. There is a small assortment of vitamins, cough drops and pain relievers at the very top of the kitchen pantry, but the bulk of our supply is kept in our bathroom cabinet:


Aka the subject of a future "Full Disclosure Friday" because like most of the storage zones in our household, it's woefully underused and despairingly disorganized. So while we're at it, here's another storage area that I have yet (in five years living here) figured out best how to use:


(This one is located just outside of the bathroom, inside the master bedroom. Truly, we have so much storage space in this house there is really no excuse for clutter - but I have been TERRIBLE about taking advantage of it!)

Alas, I digress (as I'm wont to do) ...

So here is what I set up some time ago, our own "boo-boo basket" ...


This lovely basket was hand-painted by Bill's grandmother many years ago ...


 It was just the right size and shape to hold a nice selection of supplies, and still fit inside my cabinet.


I chose items that would soothe and comfort - no yucky medicine or stinging sprays here!

A closer peek:


I think the very ritual of bringing out a basket filled with "mama's special potions" - all pleasant-smelling and kind to tender skin - is healing in and of itself. It won't always be so easy to comfort our children, but such special treatment will not go unnoticed. This kind of care goes deep, and lingers long ...  

"The day will come, of course, when our small ministrations are no longer enough to ease our children's pains, but until then, we can stock their emotional larders with a bounty of love and tenderness, precious stores for the future." (p. 103)

Sometimes all our hurt or ailing child needs is a hug, and sometimes he or she needs an actual prescription ... but for those in-between those times, there is a place for gentle, whole-body healing. 

(And here's an idea - how about setting up something like this, just for ourselves? Maybe a mommy-care basket? Now that's a topic for a future post!)

Before I go, here's a quick list of the books I'm using to learn more about herbs and homemade herbal products. It's easy nowadays to find natural and herbal products in the stores, but I really love growing and making my own!


The Wild & Weedy Apothecary

Earth Mother Herbal

Natural Beauty for All Seasons

101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home

Essential Herbal Wisdom

A Kid's Herb Book

I have a large binder in which I've been taking copious notes, and by now I know more about herbs than I should for someone with so pale a green thumb! But I am getting there, slowly ... this year I hope to grow a nicely-sized herb garden and continue to expand my hands-on learning while keeping up with my "studies." If you are an herb grower (or crafter, or enthusiast) I'd love to hear from you! I would love advice and especially would love to hear how you USE the herbs you grow and how you keep your herbs ALIVE over the winter! (If possible.) 

Well my friends, I am going to wrap up now, but as always, I thank you for stopping by and reading. I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter (and topic) if you have a moment to drop a note. Please remember - all are welcome to join this book study! And we are only about halfway through ... many more topics to talk about and more opportunities to support each other in our mothering! 

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I will see you all here again very soon!

Monday Memo: More Planner Chat!

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your weekend was a good one!

Ok, first up: some not-so-good news. I'm afraid my Advent Tea post will not be up later today, because "Mama time" (aka, blogging and teatime!) has been rather thin on the ground lately. My family has been hit with a nasty cold virus, and needless to say it has really "gummed up the works" around here! Thankfully though, the bug seems to move pretty quickly ... Little Bear is feeling much better this morning after a blessedly long night of sleep. Sleep is such a good thing, isn't it? It's probably the best thing we can do for our immune systems - get good sleep!

Anyhoo, I hope to have a fresh pot of Advent Tea ready to serve one day later this week - hopefully tomorrow! - at our usual time, just as the late autumn sun slips low in the sky. We'll be talking about Christmas tree traditions and I'd love to hear about yours!


But now for some really FUN news! Are you all ready for some more planner talk? :)

Well ... a week from tomorrow I will be participating in a "live chat workshop," hosted by Mystie Winckler at Simplified Planning! Mystie has invited me, along with Jen Mackintosh of Wildflowers & Marbles, to talk with her about one of our favorite subjects ...

Planning talk graphic

I am so excited! (And a little nervous too, to be honest ...) But I think it will be a such fun!

 We'll be talking about "planners, crates, apps, calendars, brain dumps, habits, goals, and more!" Such good stuff, right?! And there will even be a chat box where you can ask questions during the live workshop, too. I'm amazed by the whole process, honestly. I think Mystie and Jen are great ladies with fantastic blogs and I am just completely honored to have been asked to join them! Our workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th at 4 p.m. EST.

Now, here is a link to the page where you can find out more and sign up to access to the live chat. You will also receive a link for the replay and an e-mail reminder on the day of the workshop. And if you have things you know you'd like to hear me talk about - planning topics we've covered in the past, tools I use or have made, such as the file crate - please let me know in the comments below. I'm trying to organize my "stuff" and my thoughts beforehand so I'm ready to go!

Well, that's all for now, my friends ... I'm off to tend my family and work on getting everyone feeling better. Soup and grilled cheese for lunch, I think ... and lots of fruit juices! I hope to see you all tomorrow though, and I wish you all a very good day. :)

Hello, and Happy Friday!

(Flashback) Feline Friday!

Archie and Oliver 1

One of my favorite photographs of "the boys," it was taken when they were very young. And it was recently chosen to appear on a local feline rescue group's annual thank you card!


My friends, I'm sorry to have been MIA for so long ... it's been a very long week of illness here but we finally are on the mend. It was just a cold/cough virus - though a particularly nasty one that felt very much like flu. We were all down and out (even the baby) for a while!

But I'm quite glad to say we are over the worst of it and feeling better every day. Little Bear and Earlybird, who had both been waking throughout the nights (coughing), actually slept very well last night and straight until 6:45 a.m.! What a blessing is truly good sleep! Lots of fluids through the day and extra vitamin C, too.

I have a post in the works answering some of the questions that came up about the housekeeping calendar and I will get that up hopefully this weekend. (I am still loving the calendar but not surprisingly those cards didn't do much for me last week!) I also thought it might be fun to share what my cards next week say ... to give you an idea of how the cards play out in a given week.

So please stay tuned, and as always, thanks for stopping by (and for your patience!). Are any of you celebrating Super Pi Day tomorrow? We'll be having homemade pizza pies for our supper, and perhaps a fruit pie for dessert! :)

Enjoy your Friday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

A Week of Feasts Ahead ...

Blessings to all on this beautiful Michaelmas Day!

Michael statue

This gorgeous statue resides in one of the academic halls at Boston College, where our Bookworm is a sophomore this year. He sent this photo to me last year, and all I could think was, "Wow, what a fantastic place to attend classes!" :)

This year's St. Michael came from his visit to the Museum of Fine Arts yesterday ...

Michaelmas painting mfa

And so the dragon was slayed ... or perhaps it is slain, I'm not sure. Either way, his number is up!


So we have a very full and festive week ahead! There's Michaelmas on Monday (today), St. Therese on Wednesday (and October begins!), The Feast of the Holy (Guardian) Angels on Thursday and St. Francis, our family's patron saint, on Saturday. Plus we have our homeschool group's annual apple picking trip this week, too - weather permitting. And so far the weather looks to be fairly seasonal this week. High 60s and party sunny skies. Lovely, lovely!

I'm a bit under the weather at the moment (a bit on that below) so all my plans are in limbo till I'm back up to speed. But I have some special foods and activities planned for the boys ... I love this week in our Catholic calendar because there's so much to do with the children. Do you have any traditions for this time of year? October really is such a wonderful month!


Now, a quick health question, I am looking for some advice from other mamas about nursing ...

Little Bear is 16 months now and we are still nursing. Not as much, of course, but my plan to wean over the summer kind of came and went. And now I find myself with another bout of mastitis, ugh ... starting antibiotics today ... but anyhoo, my question is this:

How do you gently (and comfortably) wean a nursing toddler? He takes bottles and cups easily but he still wants his "Na" on the regular. (A few times a day.) I never nursed this long with my other boys so I'm at a bit of a loss. Any thoughts and suggestions are welcome!

Well my friends, I'm wishing you all a happy week ahead - thanks for stopping by and see you here again soon!

Checking in, Saying Thanks ...

 Bluebell like plants 1

Well my friends, it's a slow, sunny Saturday here in New England ... a wonderfully quiet day for us after yesterday's trip into Boston for Earlybird's neurologist appointment. Thank you all so much for your prayers and good thoughts - it humbles me, truly, that whenever I ask this of you - for your prayers and support - you give so generously. To those who left comments, as well as those who said a quiet prayer in your heart, thank you ....

EB did ... ok. We got thought it, he got through it. We arrived early for our 4 p.m. appointment ... and they took us late (as many of you with special needs kids know, this is a recipe for disaster). And it did make things more challenging, but with all hands on deck, we got EB through it. All of the brothers were with us (we picked Bookworm up at BC on the way in) and my mum was with us as well. Plenty of helpful hands, caring hearts and extra eyes surrounded us, giving Bill and I a much needed boost and the time we needed to meet with the doctors.

Bottom line - Earlybird's MRI was fine and his EEG was mostly normal. He does have what they called, "spikes" indicating/validating the need in his situation for medication (to keep the seizures at bay). No real explanation for why he has seizures however, all his structures were normal and healthy. And Thank God for that, really.

As for his medication, they adjusted his dosage a bit and added more vitamin B6 to help with the side effects. We left with some good information and a game plan, and that's enough for now. We'll see how things go from here and return for another appointment (Heaven help us, lol) in August.


Now, a quick word about Monday's Kitchen Chat  - I apologize that I kind of dropped the ball on KC this week. I was going to do "Cookbooks" next, and ask for your pictures (where you store them, ones you love) but obviously it's too late now. How about next week, instead? Start sending those pictures in, if you have them (bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net) and we'll dive in on Easter Monday (4/21). 

Then how about for this Monday we talk about "Easter in the Kitchen?" Holiday entertaining, preparing foods, coloring eggs, creating special treats for our families ... childhood favorites and fond memories, etc. And if you don't celebrate Easter I'd still love to hear about your Springtime celebrations just the same - it's a wonderful time of year to freshen our kitchens and celebrate the return of light and life to the heart of our home!

(And more apologies for those of you missing Masterpiece Monday ... I have not yet caught up with Call the Midwife, so I can't start discussing it just yet. Once I do I'm sure I'll be raring to chat!)

Well I will let you all go my friends, but thanks, as always, for stopping by. It's so breezy and balmy here, I'm going to sit by an open window tonight and listen to the peepers singing in the woods ...

Ahhh, Spring. There's just nothing like it. :)

Blessings on your evening, my friends .... see you here again very soon!

p.s. Anyone know what kind of flower that is above? They're popping up all over our front yard!

Thursday This & That

A few notes on this fine, frosty morning ...  some newsy bits to share. :)

1. Earlybird did very well yesterday wearing the ambulatory eeg - he only fiddled with the contraption once (the itching was driving him crazy!) but we were able to get it all back in place, using gauze and tape we had at home. The hospital visit was quick - they used dissolvable glue so it all just washed off. He's not a fan of head washing - or hair cuts for that matter - so it was a little rough on him - but, thankfully, quick! So now we wait for results, and a follow-up with the neurologist next month. We're greatly relieved to have this behind us ... I honestly felt an eeg might be beyond our reach. I hope and pray this gives the doctors information that will ultimately help them help Earlybird.

Speaking of help, we are grateful to my mum who once again made the situation so much better not just for EB, but for all of us ... and to our friend, Laura, who helped get our Crackerjack home from his afternoon class. And of course, to everyone here who shared prayers and kind words - thank you, thank you, so much. I'll keep you all posted on EB's journey.

2. And now, as life gets back to "normal," we find ourselves officially in Lent. So I changed the valance on the liturgical bookcase this morning, from green to purple ... 

Purple sheers 4

My friend Debbie gave me this lovely set of sheers last year - and how happy they make me! They look perfect in the library, in the liturgical corner. (I have that "library tour" post nearly ready to go - I will have it up, most likely, tomorrow.)

3. Now, if you look over on the righthand side of my blog you will notice a sunny little "sign" for my "Kitchen Chat" series. Divina made that up for me, isn't it lovely? And wasn't that kind? If you click on that button it will take you directly to the Kitchen Chat archive ... and I'm thinking this will run longer than 4 weeks. There's so much to discuss! Even once we re-start Masterpiece Mondays, there's room for both posts, I think! 

Next week's topic (3/10) will be: Menu Planning. That seems to be another hugely popular topic. So if you'd like to join the conversation, please jump into the comments! (First post on Seasonal Eating is here.) And if you have a blog yourself and would like to link in, feel free to grab the button and share your thoughts in a post at your blog. We'll have lots of fun!

And here we have Little Bear, "helping" me get my marketing book back in order. He's great at culling those outdated coupons. :) 

O coupon help 1

4. Lastly, how sweet are these?

Peter rabbit baking decorations

A Peter Rabbit cupcake decorating kit - a real "find" at HomeGoods last week. Perfect for Easter of course, but I may save them for Little Bear's 1st birthday in May. That would be a darling party theme, don't you think?


Well, my friends, I hope you all have a nice Thursday ... thanks so much for stopping by, and stay tuned for more on all those things I mentioned above ...

I'll be back here again very soon!

Well, so far so good!

Good morning, my friends ... I'm checking in quickly to report that all is going well so far with Earlybird's ambulatory EEG! We're halfway there!

Our trip into Children's yesterday was successful - thanks in no small part to my mother who accompanied us and provided EB with that extra comfort he needed. And though he balked quite a bit initially at having the electrodes applied, the staff was able to figure out how to do it as quickly and sensitively as possible. EB left the hospital with a soft "helmet" wrapped around and taped to his head, keeping all the electrodes in place, wires tucked into a backpack which was (and still is) strapped around his torso. He was so wiped out from the ordeal he went to bed at six, and slept straight till three - but the important news is, the EEG is still in place! He has not bothered with it, so hopefully the transmitter is recording the data the doctors need to get a closer look at our Earlybird's precious, beautiful brain. :)

Today we bring EB back in to have the whole contraption removed, and then we wait for our follow-up in April to discuss the results. In the meantime, we'll continue with his anti-seizure medication - oh, and speaking of! - I don't think I told you all the good news. We were able to find a pharmacy that would make up his med and a vitamin B solution without ANY synthetic dyes, flavors or preservatives!! We're hoping this will help EB tolerate the meds a bit better - and we're trying out this option before considering a switch to another med. (The one he's on now is affecting his mood and behavior - possibly it's just the additives, but we will see ... one small step at a time!)

Thank you all so, SO much for your prayers and support. You cannot know the comfort and strength they have given me. When we were safely back in the car yesterday, EB was all set, and I felt like I could finally breathe ... my thoughts went to you all and your prayers on our behalf. I KNOW they made the difference, and I appreciate it so much.

So here we are then, Ash Wednesday morning, and Lent underway - I've barely spared it a thought, it seems ...

My hope this season is to give more of myself every day and to serve my family as they need ... that I need less for me, so I have more to offer them ... and that, in all my words and actions, I express my love for, and deep gratitude to God.


Blessings on your day, my friends ... thank you for listening, and caring ... I'll be in touch again very soon.

Prayers for Earlybird, please?

My friends, tomorrow we are taking our Earlybird into Children's Hospital for a second EEG attempt. (You might remember the first try went badly.) This time they are going to set him up with an "ambulatory eeg", meaning, he'll wear the whole kit and kaboodle home (electrodes, helmet), and then the test will (hopefully) record as he sleeps overnight ... 

I am trying very hard to stay positive and not "stew" in my worry, but I'm having a hard time seeing how this will work. I am hoping that he will be able to withstand it all - we're asking a lot of our sensory-challenged boy! And right now I'm praying we find the strength and patience to guide him through it as smoothly as possible. I need to find words and actions that will soothe and support. I need to maintain an energy that is loving and firm. I need to keep my wits about me and remember that, above all, I am this child's mother, and I know him better than anyone.

All this to say ... I'd be so grateful if you would keep our EB in your prayers tomorrow ... it will be a tough day for us all, and I might not get on here for a bit. But I will post an update just as soon as I can.

Thank you, my friends ... blessings to you and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon.


All Hands ...

 One of the benefits of homeschooling, is that when somebody is sick, there are usually plenty of hands around to help out ...

O and j 2

O and j 1

Little Bear is a very lucky boy to have big brothers who not only love him so much, but who are around a lot, and therefore really know him. What he's like, what he likes ... how to soothe him when he's feeling under the weather and Mama has run out of hands. This is a blessing to Little Bear's mama in ways both practical and profound. 

My friends, a nasty cold virus has invaded our home and so things are not "running on the regular" right now. Nights are particularly tough, meaning there's not so much sleeping happening as "cat napping."

All this to say, I'm taking a few days off to nurse my family back to health ... but I will be return just as soon as I can ... and I do hope all of you are staying well - and safe with all that crazy weather!

Advice on Baby Sleep, Please?

O and daddy sleep

Nothing like sleeping in your Daddy's arms ...


My friends, I could use some advice on baby sleep - or specifically, getting my baby to sleep better at night. Has anyone had an older baby revert back to constant waking through the night? And if so, how did you handle it?

Little Bear used to sleep pretty well (waking every 3 or 4 hours to nurse) but over the past several weeks he's developed a habit of waking within an hour or perhaps two to fuss until he's held/rocked/nursed back to sleep. Some nights I'm waking at least once an hour! And you can just imagine how this is affecting my energy and mood the next day ...

When Little Bear wakes, he's usually only awake for 10 minutes or so before he conks back out. First I'll try to just soothe him without picking him up - humming softly, giving him his binky and resting my hand on his chest. On rare occasion this works and I can slink off back to bed. More often than not he starts to fuss - really fuss after a few moments - and I end up picking him up to soothe him in a more active way. This is usually through nursing, though sometimes I can rock him back to sleep on my shoulder.

So then I'll put him back in his crib, he's (seemingly) sound asleep, but he's awake again in the same manner within the hour or perhaps after 1.5-2 hrs. if I'm lucky. If I've been getting up a lot with him before midnight (as in the case last night) Bill will get up with him and perhaps give him a bottle so I can get a little more rest.

He's not hungry I don't think - he nurses well through the day and has three meals (cereal + fruit or veg), as well as a bottle before bed with Bill. He's got comfy pajamas, the room is warm enough and we run a quiet fan for soft white noise ...

We're trying to work on putting him down for naps (and eventualy bed for the night) before he's fully asleep because we think possibly he's waking confused - he was just in our arms and now he's alone in his crib so he fusses for us. It's hard to do that though, because he's not a fan of soothing himself to sleep!

Also, his crib is still in our bedroom because he's waking so often it's a more convenient position, but it's possible his sleep is being disrupted by our sleeping sounds. So we are also working on getting the nursery cleaned up and ready for his crib (and him)!

Aside from the sleep issue, Little Bear is truly the easiest baby, and I'm very pleased to say I've nursed him longer than I've ever nursed before! At first I worried maybe my milk wasn't filling him enough, but he's gained weight on track and as I mentioned above, is eating well otherwise.

So any advice would be most welcome! Even just to say, "I've been there too!" Lol. I know these early days are brief  ... and anyways, sleep is overrated right? ;)

Thanks so much in advance, and have yourselves a very nice day!

Earlybird's MRI was today ...

R mri 1

And now, Thursday evening, we're finally home ...

It was a tough day - a loong day - but he did well. We spent several hours at Children's Hospital in Boston (I wish everyone had this hospital local to them) and both EB and Little Bear (who tagged along of course) were as good as gold. EB was sedated for this exam and once he was "awake enough" in recovery, we were allowed to take him home. He was cranky for sure, but as we left, each and every doctor/nurse's station we passed got a "Thank you, doctors!" from EB. :) The ride home was long and he threw up a couple of times, but he seemed to relax once we were home. 

We will talk to the radiologist tomorrow but so far the MRI showed "no abnormalities that would indicate a seizure disorder." There does seem to be an issue with his corpus callosum, which may actually shed some light on his challenges ... we'll learn more in a follow-up appointment.

Bottom line: Earlybird's ok, we're home and it's over! And I'm so glad to have this day behind us. Thank you again for all your support ... reading all your messages - knowing so many dear people were thinking of and praying for my Earlybird - it means so much, I just can't express it. But please know how grateful I am, deep in my heart. I will continue to keep you all posted, and of course, keep you all in my own prayers.

A peaceful evening to you all ... see you here again very soon.

Another Update on Earlybird

So we've been consulting with Children's Hospital (via telephone) in preparation for Earlybird's MRI tomorrow. I've spoken at length with both a nurse and a behavioral therapist ... now I'm waiting to hear back from the anesthesiologist. The test itself is at noon Thursday (or thereabouts depending on wait-time). He can have nothing to eat after midnight tonight because he will be sedated for the exam, and that might be our greatest challenge - he'll be pretty cranky about that!

(As most of you know, he's always up before the sun and ready for breakfast right away!)

EB and me

Funnily enough, EB is all talk this week of "going back to Disney" and so we've been looking at pictures from our trip. I especially love this picture of the two of us (though I'm not generally fond of pictures of my backside, lol). It was taken on our last day in the park after we had just spied an alligator floating by the edge of a pond. What an amazing sight to see! We were torn between curiosity, excitement and fear! But Earlybird got nervous, so he and I left Bill and big brothers behind and walked back to "safety" (i.e. the golf cart) - hand-in-hand, talking it out the whole way.

So much of life is like that, isn't it? Sharing the good times, enduring the bad ... helping our children navigate the inevitable bumps in their roads, whether they be skinned knees, bruised egos, wildlife encounters or medical tests. It's what were here for: to provide comfort and confidence when they need it, to be their unwavering champion throughout life ...


My friends, to be honest, I'm nervous. But I'm trying very hard to stay positive, to let go of my worry and be the center of peace and support EB needs me to be. Any prayers and/or good thoughts you can offer on our son's behalf would be deeply appreciated!

I''ll let you all know how it goes ... but for now, thank you so much, and have a good day ... see you here again very soon!

An Update on Earlybird

Well the good news is, we're home from the hospital ... the bad news is, it didn't go so well. :(

Earlybird was awesome and did the very best HE could. He was positive and polite, but the procedure itself (an EEG) never got beyond the head measurements. He completely balked at the measuring tape and the marker ... we never even got close to electrodes. And I'm pretty sure he would not have fallen asleep for the test - he was just so upset and stressed out. The tech was nice enough, but clearly not able to work around his sensory issues. She said we might have better luck in Boston - this was a local Children's Hospital site - where they could better accommodate him. But I absolutely dread the thought of going through all of this again. We are all running on very low fuel right now ...

All that said, we've got the MRI coming up next month (he'll be sedated for that). For now we'll just recoup and chalk this up to a learning experience. And EB is fine - in typical fashion, he was smiling and saying goodbyes and thank yous on our way out (relieved to be done, I'm sure). His birthday is coming up on Saturday so we'll just concentrate on making this a special weekend for him ...

We'll of course keep you all posted and I would like to once again thank you all for your encouragement. I know our spirits are held up by all of those keeping us close in their hearts and prayers. Even though this was a disappointing and exhausting day, we are grateful for our support system and extremely thankful for our Earlybird. We saw many children today whose parents bear a much greater load than we do ... EB has his challenges to be sure, but he is (we are) blessed in many, many ways.

Thanks so much for checking in ... I'll be back in touch very soon.


Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

{Earlybird update at bottom of post.}


Advent peace sunrise 

I've noticed my "peace" moments tend to happen in the morning ... I think this is when my day is still fairly simple and it's easier to be mindful of the blessings around me. As the day progresses, things get a bit noisier and more active ...

For instance, right now, it's 8:30 a.m. and Little Bear has just gone down for his morning nap. The middle boys are in the midst of their breakfast and the funny pages ... there are chores to get to, and lessons to lay out, but I'm taking this little break for myself. I'm sitting somewhere quiet and typing away, feeling creative and connected ... But wait - I hear footsteps ...

Shhh, you don't see me here!


Sometimes, though, peace can be found late in the day, too ...

As the kettle boils and the sun sets, I find myself busy in the kitchen ... I take a moment to breathe a short prayer, light a candle in the window. A real, honest-to-goodness, wax-and-wick candle, one that burns slowly and softly. Not as brightly as those electric candles, perhaps - it requires more thought and attention - but it's real. I can't ignore it, my eyes return to it, the children ask about it ... the lighting of a flame - an ancient gesture in a modern life.

Advent peace blue candle


Advent joy book 1

A sweet, old-fashioned Christmas ABC book ... those illustrations remind us how beautiful a simpler life can be.


And a feast day craft - easy and rewarding:

Advent joy ornament 2 

A plain wooden ornament, painted with natural watercolors ... a precious picture printed out and cut to fit in the middle ... but no glitter to be found? How about a sprinkle of kosher salt?

Advent joy ornament 1

Looks so pretty in the lights of the tree ...

Advent joy o looking at tree



Now, for a note on Earlybird ...

He is doing well. He is taking the medicine better and better each day. He gets a dose every 12 hours (by dropper) and so far, aside from a decreased appetite, it doesn't seem to be affecting him adversely. Most importantly he has not had a seizure since last Tuesday night.

So tomorrow he has his first test - an EEG. To prepare him for the procedure, we have to keep him up till midnight tonight, then let him sleep till 4 a.m. - wake him then, and keep him awake until the test at 10 a.m. Now - his blog name is not Earlybird for nothing - this is a child whose self-imposed bedtime is 7 p.m. Who sometimes begs to go to bed. So we really have our work cut out for us tonight ...

 My friends, my deepest thanks for your continued prayers ... I will post an update on his testing as soon as I am able, but please hold my boy in your thoughts and prayers. This will be difficult for him and I'm sure confusing, too. Bill and I are taking this one step at a time, just doing what needs to be done to the best we are able and keeping EB as comforted as we can. Your support, suggestions and encouragement mean the world to us!

Well, I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday ... relish the blessings in your life today and look for those little moments as you are able. Drop a note and share them here if you have the time ... and I'll be in touch just as soon as I can.

Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

Happy Weekend, my friends!

Well, it was a quiet day for us yesterday ... I was feeling most grateful for the acceptance and peace in my heart. So much of our reality is shaped by our perception and how we feel about things. What's that old saying? If you can't change the way things are, change the way you think about them? Something like that. I find when I pray these days, I am asking God - not so much to change things (though that would be fantastic) - but for Him to grant me the strength to handle the things that do happen. And He's been so good to help me with that.

I am also deeply thankful for all your messages of support. What an outpouring we have received from you all, I can hardly express my gratitude. The prayers that are being said for my son, for my family ... I am truly overwhelmed by your kindness, and how you've taken us under your wings ...

My heartfelt thanks to you all.

Also, a few of you who have gone through similar issues have reached out with offers to connect, and I will be following up on those connections, most certainly. I am eager for advice and insight ... Thus far Earlybird is doing ok - he is tolerating the meds well. He is not at all pleased about getting them (he begins the day with "No medicine, all right?") but I think he's becoming more accepting of it, and Bill and I are getting better at it. (There's that old saying at work!)

(Some of you have asked about his tests - his EEG is next Wednesday, but more on that in a future post.)

Well it's time to get on with my post - the peace and the joy I found in my day yesterday. A day which, in light of all the recent turmoil, was wonderfully relaxed, and though I hate to use this word - I think you know what I mean when I say - normal.  Little Bear took a super long nap, so I was able to spend some much needed one-on-one time with EB ...

First, here's my moment of peace ...

O nap 1

Honestly, is there anything more peaceful than a sleeping baby?


And now for a look at our simple joy ...

Advent joy craft 3

Glue! What could be better?

Well, maybe paint. 

Earlybird asked for paints, and I did have some set aside. (I have to use natural art materials with EB.) I also had the boys work on an oldie but goodie - the "reindeer hands-and-feet" project. My 14 year-old Crackerjack is such a good sport. I asked him to join us in our craft-making and he happily did so.

Advent joy craft 1

Advent joy craft 2

I called this "Advent painting" because the blended paints became mostly purple and pink. :)

Advent joy craft 4

R painting 2

Advent joy craft 5

 The tiny one in the middle is Little Bear's.


A bit later in the day, Earlylbird helped me make some brownies, a special St. Nicholas Day treat. Bookworm was on his way home from college, and we were eager to make a fun family supper. 

Advent joy baking

They were later topped with peppermint frosting - and as you can imagine, they were a hit!

Advent joy brownie

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Well my posts have been rather long-winded lately - not quite the quck and simple things I had envisioned when I started my Advent Peace & Joy series! But I've had a lot to say, and you've all been kind enough to listen ...

I say this a lot, but truly, thank you for taking the time to stop by and spend a bit of your precious time here with me. I'm happy when my words resonate with someone and/or bring something forward that is is happy or helpful in some way. I'd like to ask that you leave me comments with your own prayer intentions - I am in prayer an awful lot these days and I would be honored to remember your intentions alongside mine. 

For now though, I will sign off ... we have a tree to decorate today! I will surely be sharing some of that joy here later on ...

Blessings and love to you all ... see you here again very soon!

Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

*Family note at bottom of post*

My friends, I find such peace in candlelight at all times of the year, but especially during the season of Advent, as the days grow short and dark ...

Advent peace candles

 (My kitchen sink window, looking out at the sun setting behind the woods.)

Advent peace candle

(Colonial style candles, one for each front window in our new home.)

And now, for a moment of joy ...

Now, I'm not a "city girl" by any means, but I just LOVE the way the city looks at Christmas! City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style ... 

Advent city lights

Seriously, those huge sparkling trees on the town common, and the line of merry wreaths that hang from street lights (as above) ... they bring such a smile to my face during the holidays. I saw these on my way home from Crackerjack's CCD class last night - we pulled over so I could get a quick pic. :)


* Note: Before I go, may I press upon you all again for more prayers for Earlybird? He had another seizure at four this morning ... another very scary ordeal for our son (and his parents). Thankfully, this seizure was shorter than the last, and because we were told how to handle it, there was a bit less panic on our parts. Still doesn't take away the worry, or the distress of our son who just has no idea why this is happening. God bless him, he asked if he could go back to "the hotel" this morning once things had calmed down (and he was back to himself). I asked him if he meant "the hospital" and he did. He remembered the kind care he received and that he felt better once he was done.

But here's a happy moment just to set you all at ease ...

R with train set 1

This is EB and his Polar Express train set. He's been watching the movie recently and asking (somewhat incessantly) for his "wooden Polar Express train set." Now, the problem is (was), the set was kind of lost in the move, but Bill took it upon himself to find the pieces this morning and he was able to cobble most of the set together. Well, you would have thought we delivered Santa himself - Earlybird was thrilled. :)


* Next day update (because it's taking me that long to get this post up!): After a call from the neurologist last night, we brought EB into Children's Hospital to start meds. Bill and my folks drove him in around 6 p.m (so I could stay home with the baby and Crackerjack); they were finally back home around midnight. So today starts a new reality of twice-daily medication, and watching to see how he reacts to it. They warned us it could cause some physical and behavioral issues, but we'll just have to wait and watch and hope (pray) for the best.


You know ... I guess sometimes we have to "take" joy and peace when and where we can find it, even when there's all this other stuff going on and life is far from quiet or easy or perfect. When we do find it - the joy and/or the peace - we have to enjoy it in that moment, and tuck it away to remember later. We never know how much we might need it.

I really don't mean to sound preachy, because this is something I am working on very much for myself. Keeping my eyes and heart open to the goodness in life around me and remembering that our blessings outweigh our challenges.

Some days this is easier to remember than others, but it's something I try to return to as I can. Life never stays the same, we can only try to roll with the changes and keep ourselves and our spirit intact ...


Ok, I'm going to wrap up because I've kept you all long enough. My friends, thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. I will update as I can ... and I will post here as often as I can. It might not be every day as I planned, but I will as I find the time and opportunity.

Hope you all have a nice day ... see you here again very soon.

a new day

Sunrise through cedars 2

On any other morning this would be just another sunrise, but this morning it feels special to me. Because I watched it from the family room with Earlybird by my side, and boy, was it extra glorious.

Yesterday I watched the sun rise over the highway as we drove from one hospital to another. Though my thoughts were not so much on the sunrise - striking as it was - but on my dear little boy who was somewhere further up the road in the back of an ambulance. A reality I could hardy wrap my head around.

And so as you can imagine I am deeply grateful to be here this morning with my Earlybird, watching the sunrise, making our biscuits and eggs, running down the drive to get the paper. Doing all those things that are too easy to take for granted, simple things we do every day ... but in light of yesterday's traumatic events, I'm relishing them all the more.

Thank you all SO much for your prayers and messages of love and concern - they mean the world to me, honestly. Last night I was up with Little Bear around 2 a.m. and when he wouldn't settle easily, my mind started wandering ... my ears were pricking for sounds/silence from EB's room ... and my nerves began fraying just a little. To distract myself, I opened up my blog and read through your comments ... and my friends, your words soothed me, your prayers lifted and calmed me.

Bill and I are blessed to have such a support system around us - beginning with each other and extending to our boys, our family and friends and yes, to my dear readers, too. I don't know how we'd be as able and mindful as we are without all this support - on any given day, but especially at times like this.

 I will definitely be posting updates as we go along and as life gets back to normal. We're waiting to hear from the neurologist (hopefully today) about setting up testing for EB. I'm so eager to get that underway, and see what we can find out.

In the meantime, thank you for keeping our Earlybird in your prayers ... be assured that I remember you all in my own.

Blessings, all ... see you here again very soon.


Prayers, Please, for Earlybird

My friends, this afternoon I am counting my blessings after an absolutely harrowing morning ... and I am asking for your prayers.

Earlybird had a seizure at 3 a.m. - he fell out of bed and was completely unresponsive. At first we had no idea what was wrong but they were without a doubt, the scariest moments of my life. We called 911, and he was taken by ambulance first to a local hospital and then into Children's in Boston. Everyone who worked with him/us was wonderful. So caring and kind. 

Bottom line - he's OK and we're home. There are no effects from the seizure, and he is 100% himself (and was good as GOLD throughout all of this) but we are having further testing done asap: an e.e.g. as well as an MRI. Those will come in the next week or so. I would so appreciate your prayers as we try to figure this all out and hope he has no further episodes ... he's never had anything like this happen before.


Thank you, God, for hearing my fervent and frenzied prayers this morning ... for comforting me and giving me strength to focus and "keep it together." For my husband who rode with EB and took charge of the hospitalization. For my folks who came immediately to be with us, and support us, in whatever way we needed ... and for our Crackerjack who was such a big help - especially with Little Bear.

Most of all, thank you God for our beautiful, brave and sweet Earlybird. For that dear boy who thanked every doctor and nurse who poked, prodded and queried him. Who waited patiently for hours in a tiny exam room ... and who is sitting at his computer right now, with his snacks and his comic books, just so pleased to be home. Please continue to watch over our dear son ... as well as all his brothers.


I'll of course keep you all posted, and thank you in advance for your prayers!

Our First Week: A Bit of a Bust!

Yes, to be perfectly honest, our first week was pretty much a flop, lol.

In all the years we've been homeschooling we've never had a new year get derailed so early on ... but that's just what happened. After that first semi-successful day (see brownies post below), the rest of us came down with the cold virus brought home by Bookworm. (And by cold "virus" I mean, feverish congestion, sore throats and coughing.)

Even dear Little Bear got sick ~ which is a scary thing for such a young baby particularly when high fevers are involved. :(

So ... Crackerjack missed all his first week classes (he's taking Biology, Art and American History outside the home) and aside from a few light assignments and missed homework he just tried to rest and get better.

I asked nothing of EB after Wednesday, and once LB and I got sick on Thursday, I just called the week done.

Now, the good news is - we're all feeling much better! And since I have not much else to report I will share some pictures with you all this morning. Just some shots I took early last week before it all went to pot. ;)

First week 8

Our homeschool motto on proud display in the breakfast nook.

Which is where we'll do our seatwork ...

First week 10

(And where I'm typing up this post at this very moment!)

First week 1

A brand new planner I purchased at Amazon - lots of squares to fill in! I no longer need to plan lessons for Bookworm of course, but I am making notes of things to do with Little Bear. Little fingerplays and folk songs and such. :)

First week 9

And this lovely journal is for recording what actually got done (our live/love/learn experiences) ...

First week 2

Autumn leaf window clings are a must every year ...

First week 7

I drank a lot of tea last week!

Fresh eggs 1

The other day we found a dozen fresh eggs in our mailbox - a gift from our neighbors who raise free-range chickens! They are so lovely (inside and out) and now we've kicked off a mini unit about chickens and egg-laying. :)

First week 11

In the living room (our someday "library" once we get more bookcases up), we have some comfy seating and a whole coffee-table full of Mama's magazines.

First week 4

Earlybird and I looked at a book called Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic.

Owen and riley 1

Sweet brother love. 

(Aka, the moment the cold passed from EB to LB!)

So there's a little look around the house this past week ... I am hoping to get back on track and I will report back in just as soon as I can. In the meantime, have yourselves a good Monday - a very cool and gray day in our corner of the world - and I will see you here again sometime soon!