Friday, December 10, 2010

Single parenthood

I don't want to forget the details of this day. It's not really blog worthy, but I know it'll be safe here.

Dwayne is out of town this weekend doing his annual continuing education.

Day 1:
-Take Meryt to preschool. All is well. Good morning.
-Pick Meryt up and go to Wal-Mart (what in the world was I thinking???) where we get craft stuff for the weekend and she's allowed to pick out a present for Luke. He fusses (not screams, thank goodness) the entire time, even though he should have been sound asleep and finally falls asleep on the way home.
-I grab a handful of bags and asked Meryt to grab her lunch and close the van doors. She doesn't come in for a few minutes so I go check on her. She's SCREAMING bloody murder because her fingers are crushed in the door of the van. Oh, yeah...mother of the year award for me. I feel TERRIBLE. Terrible isn't even close to how bad I feel.
-We all have a quiet afternoon. Luke and I nap on the couch while M has quiet time in her room.
-We paint wrapping paper for over an hour after rest time. Gretel, the cat, spills an entire cup of water on our paper. I try not to cuss. We start over again.
-We eat dinner in the car as we do a drive through nativity at a local church. Then Meryt says, "Uh-oh, Mama...I don't have any milk left. I think it all spilled." Yep...her entire thermos of milk spilled between the two car seats. Dwayne is just going to have to deal with that when he gets back. I'm not strong enough to release the latch on the car seats to take them out so I clean the upholstry.

Clearly I'm not cut out for single parenthood.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It is well...

I am so very thankful that when I can't go any more, when I'm at the end of myself, there is something bigger than me, something I can rely on to carry me, something called GOD.

We are in a good place.

Luke is doing better. He isn't screaming as much. He is sleeping a little more during the dark hours. He is nursing great and taking a bottle when needed. Every now and then he lets us peek at the cutest little smile ever. I know it's probably just gas, but I don't care--it's reward enough for now.

Meryt is such an incredible big sister. God is giving me the strength to parent her as needed right now. She's definitely acting out a little bit for attention. She's suddenly unable to find something when asked (like socks, shoes, bibs, etc.) or fully dress herself. As long as I realize she just needs a few extra snuggles or a little affirmation, she settles down again. She is so sweet to Luke and never, ever acts unkindly to him. I'm so thankful she loves him so much. If anything, I have to remind her to give him a little space.

God gives me all these little moments of encouragement so I can continue to get up in the middle of the night, when I just need a little more sleep. So I can be a little more patient when I want to snap. So I can love a little more and a little harder when I think about those whose arms are empty, when I remember how much this is exactly what I wanted.

Pictures soon. I've got a few sweet ones.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At the end of myself

There are times when I want this {blog} to be only a happy place. But the reality of this world is that it is not a happy place.



I am at the end of myself. I'm relying on strength that I, honestly, do not possess. I don't know where the strength is to put one foot in front of the other, to be patient with the baby that never stops screaming and the 5 year old who talks all the time, to wake up to nurse after only 45 minutes of sleep. I don't know how to do it any more.



And then I remember: He is our miracle baby.



And I see this face: And I help the sweet 5 year old chase down the mail lady to send off her very-first-ever hand-made (all by herself) card.

And then I got the best reward of all: the tightest hug and whispered words "Thank you for helping me, Mama. I love you."

And I realized that the strength never comes from me. It comes from God. It comes from Him through my children. He will continue give me the strength to be (a little bit) patient, to nurse when I just need some sleep, to show grace and compassion when I don't have any more grace and compassion. It's never within me.

These are my miracles. I can do it...even though I'm at the end of myself.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Change of Plan

This post has been rambling around in my head for a few days and I'm still not sure my thoughts are polished enough to post, but I keep coming back to it, so I'm going to give it a try.


For those of you that know me or have read this blog for any length of time, you know {are glaringly aware} that I like a plan. I'm a planner. I want to know the plan. Let's make a plan. More importantly, let's STICK TO THE PLAN. I'm no good when Dwayne says, "Get in the car. Let's go." Let's go where? What are we doing? Why? Where? When???


I don't know why I'm this way. God just wired me to get caught up in the details and the need to know. Sometimes this serves me well and sometimes...well, sometimes it doesn't at all.


Right now I'm on the roller coaster called "Change of Plan." And it is the wildest roller coaster I've ever riden! Have you ever felt that way?


I had everything all planned out.

Birth plan. Check.


It went something like this: Luke's birth will be easier than Meryt's birth was. (Which was a breeze, by the way). I will go natural. The lights will be low. We'll whisper. It will be a beautiful, National Geographic moment in my life.


*cue audience laughter*


Enter Change of Plan.


Luke's birth was tremendously harder than Meryt's. It was longer. It was harder. His heart rate would plummet. My blood pressure wasn't stable at the beginning. There was an epidural. There was medication for my blood pressure. The lights were bright. It was most certainly not the beautiful, National Geographic moment I'd envisioned.


The Lord used that to teach me a lesson.


Nursing Plan. Check.


Nursing Luke will be a natural, easy thing. It's natural. It's the right thing to do. All mother's do it. I can do it, too. Hellllloooo...National Geographic!!

*cue audience laughter*

Enter Change of Plan.

Not so much. Nursing is HARD WORK. I feel terrible for Dwayne. With Meryt, he gots lots of snuggles because she was on a bottle and he could feed her. She also didn't need ME every.single.moment.of.every.single.day. Little Luke, on the other hand, never leaves my arms. Whenever poor Dwayne tries to hold him, he screams and cries because, honestly, he just wants me and he just wants to nurse...all...the...time. ALL.THE.TIME.

The Lord used that to teach me a lesson.

Schedule. Check.

We'll work on our schedule as soon as we get home. I'll feed Luke every third hour, he'll sleep and rest in between and I'll nap when I can.

*cue hysterial laughter from the audience*

Sad, huh? I'm not even a first time mom. But that's how easy it was with Meryt! She was so schedule oriented that it literally required no work from me at all. She scheduled herself and rarely got off the schedule. She was the easiest baby ever. Luke is by no means difficult. Not at all. But he most certainly does not understand or care one bit about my schedule. He cries when he wants to eat, regardless of the last time he ate. He sleeps when he wants to sleep and only cuddled in my arms or in the swing. Some nights, we're up for hours. Other nights, he sleeps awesome for 2 hours and nurses for an hour. I never can predict how he's going to do.

The Lord is teaching me a lesson here.

I can't help but continue to go back to Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. (it goes on) See, I'm not really in charge. Despite all the time and energy I spend "planning," it's not up to me. I can't make Luke follow my schedule. He's hungry when he's hungry. He can't provide for himself. I get frustrated, sure. Makes me wonder how God feels when I refuse to follow his plan. I can't provide for myself. All my needs are supplied by the Lord. Why in the world do I spend so much energy planning and working out every single detail WHEN THE LORD ALREADY KNOWS THE PLANS HE HAS FOR ME? Why do I constantly struggle to take control from the One who is in absolute control and only wants good for me? These past 10 days have been a lesson on control and changing plans. I know I can't (won't) easily relinquish control. I haven't in the past. But I want to journey to a place where I can and will let the Lord make the decisions in my life without constantly trying to pull the strings out of his hands. Ultimately, it boils down to a trust issue for me. If I do it, I know it will be done the way I want. (ha) If I let go of the control and trust in the Lord, I don't have the security (false as it is) of knowing that things will work out the way I thought they would.

So, I'm on the roller coaster. God is in charge of the controls. I'll ride "Change of Plan" until I've learned my lesson that it's not about me. It's about Him. He who knows the plans he has for me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Due Date: 4 Day Update

Today is Luke's actual due date.


But he's here.


In fact, he's four days old.

Here's a quck update on how everyone is doing:

Luke: Super sweet. Wants to be held all the time. Snuggles, snuggles, snuggles. Would nurse all day if I let him. Sleeps all day, up for several hours at night. Losing weight (down to 6 lbs 14 oz today). Bilirubin is borderline for jaundice (daily visits to the ped's office). Cutest baby ever--looks just like Meryt did.

Taken in the hospital when he was 1 day old.


Meryt: Gets the Big Sister of the Year award. You could not find a big sister who loves her baby more. She wants to introduce him to everyone who glances in our direction. If Luke cries, she rushes to comfort him. We have truly been blessed.

Taken when Meryt first met Luke. Sweetness!


Dwayne: He's on daddy-high-heaven. He's getting the most sleep. He can sleep through Luke's crying. He's completely on call during the day. Doing great.



Me: I'm healing pretty well. I can get around fairly well, but lose energy during the day and need to rest. My milk hasn't come in, so I'm feeling a tad bit of stress (LOTS) about that. (Will gladly take advice, if it's kind and helpful!) I want to nurse to badly this time...it's frustrating that we're struggling with this again. I love holding my sweet boy and watching Meryt get to do the big sister things.



We're doing great, overall. Sometimes I just stare at Luke and ponder the miracle that he is. He's ours. He was just a dream and now he's our reality. We are praising God for him every moment!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Miracle

Our little miracle is here. And he truly is a miracle. I just can't believe that three years ago we had our first miscarriage and now we've got this new little guy around...and he's OURS!

This is the birth story. I just don't want to forget anything.

When I went to the doctor on 11/4, I was 2-3 cm dilated. I knew I could stay that way for a while, so I wasn't expecting much to happen. I was hopeful that I'd progressed a little bit when I went for my next appt on 11/9. I was contracting a little when I got there at noon on 11/9, but had been at school all morning and wasn't sure anything was really going on. I was tired of being pregnant, so I asked to be induced. Jeri, the midwife, said no way. I wanted to go natural and she didn't really think I wanted to be induced. She stripped my membranes and sent me home to rest.

HA. There was no rest. The contractions started around 2:00 and increased during the afternoon. Dwayne and I were texting back and forth. I finally called the dr's office and told them the contractions weren't steady, but they were intensifying and I was going to wait for Dwayne to get home from work and then head to the hospital. Jeri's nurse agreed that was a good plan.

By 5:30, we had dropped M off with Dwayne's family and we were on our way to the hospital. The pain was pretty intense and I told him FORGET NATURAL. I was a fool for thinking I could do that. He agreed to whatever I needed.

We were admitted by 6:30 and in a labor and delivery room by 7:00. I had my epidural not long after that--that pain was incredible and I was feeling pretty sick. My sweet friends, H and P2, showed up between 7:15 and 7:30 to help me labor. We visited and relaxed a little, the epidural helped a lot.

Around 9:00, the pain intensified tremendously. Even with the medication, I was still feeling every contraction. The girls helped me labor through them, encouraging me in all the right ways. I honestly do not think I could have done it without their help. Dwayne was incredible and their help to me enabled him to focus on helping the midwife.

I had some blood pressure issues and Luke's heartrate would not stabilize, so there were some rather intense moments. His labor and delivery were FAR MORE DIFFICULT than M's. There is absolutely no way I could have done it naturally.

He was delivered at 11:09 on 11/09/10. He was sunny-side up with his head looking up instead of down. Getting his sweet little head out was the hardest part, but definitely rewarding. As soon as his head was out, he was turned. When I delivered his shoulders, my body felt a tremendous amount of relief.

Delivering him was much harder on my body...there was a lot more damage with him than when I delivered M. Despite that, I've felt better since he was born. I'm more mobile, I have a tad bit more energy. I haven't felt sick once! That's huge! :)

M is an AWESOME big sister. I'll give her her own post tomorrow so I don't forget anything about these first few days.

Last night was really rough for us. Luke was having some choking issues and had to have his tummy drained. He quit nursing most of the night and screamed for hours. This morning, he had to have more yucky stuff drained from his tummy. He's been a champ since around lunch time. He's napping right now as I look at him.

I just can't tell you how blessed we feel. I'll post some pictures later tonight. The laptop isn't plugged in and I'm running out of juice. Thank you for all your love and prayers!! Praise God for all his blessings!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

He's on his way

We're on our way to the hospital. It seems that little Luke is on his way! We'll update when he arrives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Need Some Mama Help

M and I had our first embarrasing moment together where I wanted to throttle her into the southern hemisphere and let her roast all by herself.

It started out rather innocently. We stopped by a new cupcake store (AMAZING!) and bought a few cupcakes for a treat.

Then we went to pick up some stationery I bought for the kids. When the lady showed M her cards, she (the lady) said, "Yum! These look delicious! I love them. Don't you?"

And M replied, "No. I don't like them at all."

UM! EXCUSE ME?!?! Was that my sweet girl that is normally NOT a brat? The little girl that just picked out a cupcake at the store as a fun afternoon treat? What in THE WORLD were you thinking, M?

So, she's not allowed to have her cupcake. She's not allowed to have her princess music. She's upstairs in her room thinking about her actions right now. She's not going to watch her favorite show this afternoon.

Too harsh? Not harsh enough? I just can't believe she was that unkind and is that unappreciative. I don't want a bratty little girl. I know cards aren't really that exciting, but she should still be kind to the store lady and thankful for a gift.

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A School Story

Perhaps you don't know where I teach or what kind of children and parents I deal with. I LOVE my school and I LOVE my kids. I teach in a Title 1 school, which means over 70% of our school population lives below poverty and qualifies for free or reduced lunch. I definitely don't teach at an "inner city" school, but I have children from all types of families. A.L.L. types of families.

This morning I happened to run into one of my moms (do you remember THIS story?) who is clearly expecting another baby...this one is number 6. Five daddies. Six kids. A.L.L. types of families.

I happen to really like this mom and I adore her little boy. We'll call him Daniel.

Me to Mama: Hey! Did Daniel tell you he was on our TV for having such good character? He represented our class for friendship!

Mama: Nah...he don't tell me that.

Me: We're so proud of him. He's always so kind to his friends and gets along with everyone. If he notices someone on the playground is alone, he joins them. He's just precious.

Mama: (smiling) Yeah...he a good kid. But, I noticed he kinda dumb.

Me: (trying not to choke) He's not dumb! I have noticed that he's struggling some. He's so cute that he thinks he can get away with not giving me much effort.

Mama: M'Benson, my other kids be bad, but they be SMART! Daniel...he so different. He be so good all the time, but he be dumb! (This is COMPLETELY true. My school is a magnet school and two of her children have been kicked out because of their behavior! But they are smart. Really smart.)

Me: Please don't say he's dumb! And certainly don't tell him that! We might want to think about letting him repeat kindergarten. It certainly would help him, but I think he knows more than he's showing me. He just grins at me when I ask him something. When I correct his behavior, he just gives me that sweet grin.

Mama: I put him at the table wit his big sister. Now, M'Benson, she can teach those other children (she's in 4th grade, by the way...and the little mama in the home) anything they need to know. When she work with Daniel, he just sit there. He don't care nothing about learnin' from her. He just don't care. I'm telling you...he dumb. I know he cute and I'm glad he be good at school, but he dumb. We even do dat ting you said about givin' him some shavin' cream and lettin' him spell his words. M'Benson, he don't even know he letters! How he gonna ever learn anyting if he don't know he letters??

Me: (flabbergasted...I don't think I've ever heard a mama telling me that her child is dumb!) Ms. Dumb-Mama, let's get together and work on this. Let's have a conference and make a plan for Daniel. I just don't think he's dumb. I think he can learn everything we need him to know. I'm thankful that his sister can work with him. I'll give you some other ideas to help him.

Mama: Oh, thank you, M'Benson. I know you can help dat boy. He sho' do love you and he sho' do love comin' to school. I don't want him to be dumb. I don't want him to be bad and smart either.

At this point, I literally had to walk away. When I got to my room, I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. As much as it broke my heart to hear her calling her own child dumb, I know that mostly that's a cultural difference. It's her way of recognizing that he's struggling in school and that she needs some help for him.

Disclaimer: After I typed this and was ready to post, I realize this might ruffle some of your feathers. Please don't let it. Take it as a funny story that was shared.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All About Luke

Maybe I need to change the name of this blog to "All about Luke" instead of The Benson Family! Poor H and M aren't getting much face time around here lately.

That'll all change in about 12 days.

Just a funny: someone asked if I was a scheduled c-section or induction. The answer is no. Luke will arrive whenever God is ready for him to arrive. I'm just counting down to November 13 for fun...it just gives me a little something to focus on. I'm a detail oriented procrastinator. I don't really do much until the pressure is on, which is quickly approaching.

My goal this week was to clean one room really good each evening. That goal was shot all the pieces when I realized that something I thought was planned for next week is actually tomorrow evening. SOOOOO...instead of continuing on with the plan, I crawled around on the floor picking up pieces of trash that our lab had strewn about. On the other hand, when H got home, we did some good work in the kids' room. That felt really good.

In 12 short days (or sometime close to it!), our baby boy will be here. Fear and trepidation are replaced with absolute excitement. My only fear is the actual delivery. The closer it gets, the more anxious I get about that. M's was quick and easy...what if his is long and drawn out? I've allowed myself to get a bit psyched out. Last time, I had no idea what to expect. This time, I've got the memory of before. The good thing is that labors come to an end...and I'll hold him.

His clothes are so tiny! His little snuggles are so soft! His diapers are minuscule! And in 12 days, it will all be so real.

Stay tuned....we'll be back to our regularly scheduled "The Benson Family" in a few days!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

So very thankful...and scared

Dearest Luke,

If there is one things I struggle with as you grow in my tummy is the reality that not all mama's get to bring their babies home. Truthfully, I've spent the better part of the past two weeks calming myself down, reminding myself that your appointments have been absolutely normal, that your heartrate is perfect, that you are in a great position for delivery and on and on. Little man, I have no idea what my problem is except that I lack faith that the Lord is truly blessing us with YOU! I love feeling you kick and move inside me.

We've had two baby showers and, man, oh, man, have we been blessed! I can't wait to actually hold you and dress you in all the sweet things you've been given. I can't tell you how much we are loved. There are so many people who have prayed with us and for us as we waited for you and now that you are almost here, they love to shower us with wonderful things!

You are due to arrive in 20 days. Buddy, that's less than 3 weeks! How is that possible? M is excited beyond belief--she has three "Big Sister" shirts to wear. Daddy put your car seat in the van today. Your crib is up. The bassinet sheets are being washed right now. Diapers and wipes are here and I need to put them in the changing table. I really need to sort and wash your first set of clothes so I'll have something clean to put you in when you get here. Daddy is excited that you are due on the UGA/Auburn game day. I need to find you a newborn UGA outfit to take to the hospital with us so we can put it on you as soon as you are born. 20 days!! I'm so thankful...and so scared!

I want you to know a little bit about your daddy. He is so excited about having another baby in the house. Truthfully, he's normally the one who is a little pessimistic and I'm the one who believes everything is fine and dandy. With you, he absolutely can not wait for you to get here. He was the same way with your big sister. He LOVES having babies around. Last week, he dismanted, washed, and reassembled every single bottle, the bottle holder, the baby food carousel, the car set and stroller. If you came tomorrow, he'd be ready.

You are one loved little boy. We are having so much fun looking at all the blue boy stuff. We're thankful we have a girl because we got to do the pink hairbows, butterfly, flower thing before. Now we're doing trucks, trains, dinosaurs, and tools. It's so much fun! We can't wait to see how different your personality is from M's. I know you will your own little person.

20 days, little guy. Just 20 days.

We love you,
Mama, Daddy, and M

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E.

33 miners.
69 days.
Less than 24 hours.

How in the world can you not want to praise God right this moment? This is incredible. I am beyond amazed that it took less than 24 hours to rescue 33 miners who have been trapped for 69 days. They are healthy. They are in good spirits. They are reunited with people who love them. They can see the sun rise tomorrow morning, for the first time in 69 days!

There are hundreds of people who played a part in this rescue. Hundreds of minute details had to come together in just the right way for this to happen successfully. The people were in place. The details came together.

Incredible.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

5 Things about my Favorite 5 Year old

Who is this stranger that robbed me of my baby? I just can not believe M is five today. It's 4:19 PM right now as I type and five years ago, she was still part of me, not quite yet ready to enter the world. But it wouldn't be long. Not long at all.

Sort of like the past five years. Not long. Not long at all.

I don't want to forget her at this stage. I always thought four was my favorite age, but I'm adjusting my thinking. I L.O.V.E. five (or at least the few weeks leading up for five!).

Here are five things about my favorite five year old:

1.) She loves to read.
She loves looking at books and trying to retell the story. If she doesn't know something or can't remember the details about a certain part of the story, she'll say, "You read this part to me." All of a sudden, letters and sounds mean something to her. She's beginning to hear sounds when words are presented orally and can remember how to spell the words she's interested in (names of friends, family members and pets, zoo, cat, dog, etc). If I say "zero" she'll say, "zero starts with z." Substitute a myriad of words and you'll have an understanding of our conversations lately.


2. She's really into independent play.

She'll play in the tub for hours with empty bottles or a bath doll. She'll be gone for a while and when I find her, she's got a variety of toys spread out and she's playing away. She gets frustrated with me when I play with her because I don't play "right." It's easier for her if I just stay away so she doesn't have to tell me how to do everything.



3. Speaking of independent...she's just really independent.
Since we let her pick out her own tooth paste (why, oh why did I not do that MONTHS ago?), she's brushing her teeth at least twice a day without help. She's learning how to wash her own hair. She's getting pretty good at choosing her own snack from the fridge (with guidelines: MUST BE HEALTHY!). She is learning how to pour her own beverage. She can get herself dressed (terrible as this is, I still pick out her clothes each morning). Five is going to be a good year for her.



4. She LOVES.
That's about as blanket as I can get. She is one of the most loving children I've ever met. She was involved in a situation at school in which some little boys said some very unkind things to her. As H and I questioned her about the situation, she would not say anything to get the little boys into trouble. It was sweet in an innocent way (even though we really needed to get to the bottom of the conversation!!! Thankfully, a teacher overheard it an intervened. She was the one who wanted us to question M.). She loves us and hugs us all the time. She loves our pets and is very affectionate to them. She can't wait for Luke to get her and she loves him already. She loves to learn Bible stories and hymns. I love watching her in church as things become more and more familiar to her. If there was one word to describe M, I would chose LOVE.









5. A few details. (Answers by M!)
Favorite Show: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Favorite Drink: Punch
Favorite Food: Chips n Cheese
Favorite Book: Dora Stories
Favorite Friend: Gracen
Favorite Toy: Horse Purse and Doll house
Favorite Movie: Strawberry Shortcake
Favorite Thing to Do: Swim
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Animal: Horses
Favorite Song: Precious Blood of Jesus (Nothing but the blood of Jesus)


Happy Birthday, M. I couldn't have imagined who you would be at 5. I certainly can't imagine who you will be at 10, 15, or 25. But I know I love you today as much as I did the very first time I held you in my arms. And I know I will love you at every single stage in your life. I am so proud of you. I am so proud of who you are becoming.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thankful

I'm feeling a little...melancholy today. Perhaps that's not the right word. There are lots of posts bouncing around in my head, but I can't wrap my mind around one enough to get it ready to put out here.

So, instead of working through a lot of "stuff," I'm just going to give you a little list of things I'm super thankful for. I stumbled upon a a blog from Canada, where they just celebrated Thanksgiving. I know I'm way ahead of Americans in posting a thanksgiving post, but I thought it would help center me on blessings instead of some of the junk that I've allowed to infiltrate today. I'm a bit tired, which makes me more vulnerable to sadness. I don't want to be sad when there is so much to celebrate and be thankful for!

1. H. He's incredible. He gave up UGA tickets this weekend because we've already promised M and the youth we're going to the fair Saturday.

2. M. She's at a delightful stage. I always thought 4 was my favorite age. 5 might just take the cake. The past few days have been AWESOME. (Despite her need of a little bit of middle of the night snuggling!) Have I mentioned that I can't seem to fill her up? She gulped down her lunch today. Tonight she's eaten spicy Chinese food, two cookies, a small scoop of ice cream, and mandarin oranges. Something strange is a brewin' in that child. Something very strange.

3. Baby Luke. He's already such a blessing. I love his little (sometimes huge!) kicks and pushes.

4. Friends. One special friend purchased a bassinet for Luke so he can sleep in our room for a few months. Another special friend called today and said she had the perfect costume for M for Halloween. Yet another friend dropped off a huge bag of boy things for us yesterday. Two different sets of friends are hosting showers to celebrate Luke. Two other friends have given us large bags of gorgeous hand-me-downs. BLESSINGS, I tell you. Actually, I can't even begin to tell you how blessed we are by these gifts. Thank you, friends, from a deep, deep place in our hearts. We are so very thankful.

5. Church. There are no words in this world to describe the change that is happening in our home church. We have a new minister and he is rocking our world. His passion, his enthusiasm, his LOVE for the Lord and for His (and his) people are beyond comprehension. He is humble. He is thankful. He is honest. He is emotional. He is unreal. After being dry for so long, I find that I can not contain my own passion and emotions. I think poor H is so embarrassed in church sometimes. I cry. I whisper Amen. I want to hold my arms in the air and praise! That is most unlike me, actually. I couldn't even make it through the last hymn this week because I got so emotional. This is good. So good. It's good to FEEL something.

So much for my quick list that I thought was going to be forthcoming! There are so many things for which I need to be thankful. The Benson Family has indeed been blessed and we need to focus on that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthday in Pictures

A very special someone in my life will turn 5 on Tuesday, October 12. I just can't believe that five years have passed by already! Goodness gracious. There are millions of things I love about this special someone, but today, this post is about her. In pictures. With only a few of my words.

Excited and waiting for her birthday guests to arrive.


The birthday princess

The goodies waiting to dress their princesses



Castle Cake (made by Mama, decorated by Daddy)


Thinking about her wish, ready to blow out the candles



Opening her gifts.


The guests took a Princess Walk around the neighborhood, chanting "Prin-cess Walk...Prin-cess Walk" as they marched (jogged, ran, walked) around the neighborhood.

Incredible day for an incredible girl. Nona, OB, Aunt L, Uncle T, Cousins R and I were here, too. Can't wait until Tuesday--the actual event!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A story from M

(Forgive my scanning issues!)

Once upon a time, there was a princess and she had a pony and her world was black except for the sky. The sky was blue and then they had to walk a long, long time for her castle.

The end.

Story dictated and illustrated by M. Benson 10/7/10.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Times are a changin'

At school today, I happened to read a notice going home tomorrow in the children's signed paper folder. (Honestly, sometimes I just skim them and don't pay lots of attention. Bad teacher, I know.) I nearly lost my breath when I saw the notice about magnet school applications.

I teach at a magnet school. In order for M to attend Kindergarten at my school, she must apply and be accepted. Then she must be interviewed and assessed for placement next year.

MY KID IS OLD ENOUGH TO APPLY FOR A KINDERGARTEN POSITION! AND IT MUST BE DONE NOW!

6 days shy of her 5th birthday and I'll be filling out a form requesting a position for her in kindergarten.

Wow. Things will sure be different next year when we're actually in the same school. I just can't believe she's ready for kindergarten. But then again...I can completely believe it. Perhaps I just don't want to!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weirdo Comments

Hey friends,



How in the world do I stop the weirdo comments that have started arriving the past few months? They link back to websites, not to actual blogs. I don't want to have to go private. Any suggestions? I'd hate to shut this down, but I don't like the

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Keep comin' back

I keep comin' back to this place, but I can't find the words to share. All is well. All is good, actually. We're less than 6 weeks (hopefully!) from meeting our boy. As I get closer to meeting him, I get more tired and more emotional. Poor H is married to a woman who is either mad or crying. You can pray for him and for the psychotic woman who has overtaken my body and soul. My mom assured me this is nothing new for me and is actually H's reality. That did a lot to reassure me that I will one day be a pleasant person again.

I'm normally the "strict" parent while H usually plays the "Disneyland Dad" role. Because I've been so tired, he's had to take up my slack. Poor M is majorly confused about our switch in parenting roles. Just the other evening, H bought her a treat at a football game. She'd eaten about half when I returned from visitig with some teachers I knew there. She asked me if she could have some more. "Sure, honey!" was my reply (she was shocked because I never would normally agree to that!). When H saw her hands sticky with cotton candy, he was LIVID. So funny. Normally that story would have gone down the other way.

Bedtime? What's a bedtime? The schedule nazi (me) has completely given it up. She's going to bed anywhere from 8:00 (needs to be in bed) to 11:00 because we were at the ballgame. NEVER would have happened a few months ago.

Went to the doctor unexpectedly this week because I was so uncomfortable with little Luke. I couldn't get rid of some tummy pain. I wasn't worried I was in labor, but I needed some relief. The doctor provided more mental relief than physical, but it worked. I've been feeling better this week. Going again on Thursday for a check-up. Can't believe I'm 34 weeks this week. The beginning is so slow for me and the end speeds by. The sermon was awesome in church this morning...I know because I was enjoying it and Luke was just a moving around during most of it.

Ending with a sweet story. At the ballgame Friday evening, M asked me if Luke could hear her talk to him. "Of course," I told her. She put her face against my belly and talked for a long time. Then she put her ear right where her mouth at been. When I asked what she was doing, she told me she wanted to hear what he had to say back! So funny!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

July Photo Shoot

A sweet dear friend of mine has a heart for the neediest among us...and she does something about it. These precious girls are in her care right now and she asked me to take a few pictures of them. There are more of these that I might post soon. Enjoy!

















Sunday, September 19, 2010

FINALLY!

Finally! A post with a few pictures. I THINK I've got my computer issue resolved. It seems to be working right now, so we're going to continue as is. I have over 400 pictures to weed through, so pictures will be slow coming.

Enjoy a quick peek into the last month or so of our lives!

M's first day of 4K. She was thrilled to go back to school, but rather nonchalant about it. "Mama, I've been to school a me-llion (million) times."

First day of dance (which happened to be the afternoon after her first day of school)! This was another story. She was WOUND UP tight about going and loved every single minute of it.


This is what happens when you tell your rather quirky four year old to dress herself to go out to lunch. She's got on a "real" outfit underneath (khaki shorts and a purple shirt) with a princess dress on top, knee socks rolled down and mismatched "glass" slippers. Honestly, I didn't really care this time. She got lots of "knowing" looks from other moms and grandmothers, but she didn't even notice. If she's confident enough to dress like that and leave the house, more power to her. Most of the time, we pick out her clothes and she never fusses or argues. It won't hurt anything for her to exert her independence once in a while. Right?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick School Update

I say quick...you know how that goes with me.

I really, REALLY love my class this year. I've got 24 little students, which is way too many in kindergarten. However, they are DELIGHTFUL. There are moments when I want to pull my hair out, but overall, I really enjoy them.

I've got an incredible student teacher. She did a lesson with them today, so I was able to sit back and be the support person. I loved watching the kids interact with Ms. StudentTeacher. I loved how they incorporated things I've taught them in their discussion with her. I loved watching their little faces completely focused on her. It made me appreciate them even more. I felt like I was watching them through a window.

I've been doing my annual conferences with the parents. As I pull their signed papers to show their progress, I'm amazed at how much they have already learned in 29 days of school. They are truly little sponges, soaking up all the teaching I put out there. Their handwriting has improved dramatically in the past few weeks. They are already beginning to read. Two little girls were in stations (centers) last week and one said, "I want to be the teacher and you be the student." Then I proceeded to listen to them do "Mrs. Benson." It was hysterical. They used vocabulary I used (schema, background knowledge, you can do it! Great job, buddy!) and pretended to teach one another. Today, two little boys were in the poetry station, reading our poems. They were so funny, "reading" the poems together. It was obvious they had memorized the poems, but they were moving their pointers left to right and top to bottom. They weren't quite making one-to-one (pointing to each word as they read), but they are well on their way.

It's going to be a good year, for sure.

There...that wasn't so bad. It wasn't too long, was it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raw

I have no idea what's wrong with me the past few days. I'm a ball full of rawness. Tears are on the surface all the time, ready to spill at the tiniest encouragement.

For example:

Comments: "I know this church has been hurting." *hiccup, sob*

Songs: Revelation song sung by a youth choir that I don't even know. *hiccup, sob*

Children: "Mama, I still think you're a good mama, even though you're treating me like a servant." *hiccup, sob*

Loss: Grandmothers of students, internet strangers that I've never even met before *hiccup, sob*

Pregnancy: Throwing up *hiccup, sob, sob*

What in the world? I honestly have no idea what's wrong with me. I'm certainly not crying all day, but don't think the tears aren't close. They are easily called forth without much (if any!) effort.

Strange. I certainly feel raw from being so emotional. It makes me even more tired than normal and less able to handle the small day to day stresses that normally (hopefully) roll off my back without much thought. I'm not sure if the Lord is just pulling scabs away, forcing me to really feel, live in the moment, rely on Him more heavily. If so, I accept the challenge. There doesn't seem to be much I can do about it, so I'll just lean into it and trust that He has a reason for wanting me to be so exposed right now.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11...Nine Years

It's hard to believe that nine years ago, someone walked into my classroom and quietly whispered to me, "There is something terrible going on in NY. Make sure you don't turn on your television for any reason." So, as soon as I settled my children into an assignment, I turned the television away from them and turned on CNN, pushed mute and read the captions. At which point, my heart and stomach exited my body. I quickly turned the TV off and pretended that all was well with the world, even though reality as every one knew it had shifted about 10 degrees to the evil.

I couldn't stop watching the round-the-clock coverage. It became an addiction for me. I had a wedding shower the weekend after in the town where I grew up. Every chance I had, I was parked in front of the television, watching the same stories over and over again, crying, kleenex piling up beside me. I'll never know how I made it through the shower. It seemed to weird celebrating when buildings were still smoldering.

I remember one story in particular. A lady could not find her husband (I don't remember the details: maybe he was a rescue worker or perhaps he'd been at work in one of the towers), but she was pregnant and gave birth during the weekend, without her husband. She was so devastated that she couldn't even name her own daughter. The doctors named the baby Hope. Every year on 9/11, I pray for that family. Hope will be 9 years old in a few days. Did her father ever come home? Was he missing or dead? Hope. Hope. Hope. So much promise in such a tiny name.

And now, 9 years later. My own brother is out fighting evil on the streets, trying to make our nation a little safer, one traffic stop, one broken law, one stray bullet at a time. He was only 18 when the planes flew into the towers. He's had a rough, bumpy road, but he's found himself living his life's dream while wearing a bullet proof vest and a gun holster.

I could not be more thankful that there are men and women like him, who are willing to take on the dark sides in this world so that we can live in a country where we are free. Men and women who will confront all that is not safe to make us safe. Men and women, police officers and firefighters, who knowingly walk into situations that are dangerous and scary so we can close our eyes at night with confidence and sleep in peace.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thoughts on Week 30

Thank you, Lord, for 30 precious weeks with our boy.

I can't believe that 30 weeks ago (well, 28 to be specific), we weren't pregnant, although my body was preparing to carry our son. I live in awe that the Lord is blessing our family with another baby. I honestly had given up on the dream. I was at the end of my rope. I couldn't do it any more. The emotional cycle of hopefullness, attempt, hopelessness had left me empty and I was running on nothing.

And that's when He worked a miracle for us and in us. That's when He had me where He wanted me... utterly and completely dependent on Him.

In ten short weeks...somewhere around 70 days, we will see our miracle face to face. I will hold him in my arms. Can you imagine? Can you imagine the joy of actually SEEING a miracle? I don't know what that will look like. I don't know what it will feel like, but I feel a change in me already. A preperation. When M was born, I didn't know loss and desperation. I knew only anticipation and excitement. This time, there is a vast array of different emotions. Will I be able to let him go, even for a second? Will I be able to share him...the baby that was so prayed for, cried over, WANTED? Will I cry? Will I see the face of my God? Will I see His image in my arms?

I don't know what work the Lord will do in our lives, but I know His plan is perfect. His time is not (was not) my time, but He worked a miracle to bring Him glory in a time and way that only He could. And we get to live it. Perhaps that is the lesson in this...we are actually living the plan perfectly designed for our family. By taking the control away from me (the consumate control freak!), God taught me brought me to my knees and taught me to trust Him in ways deeper than I ever have before.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sampson

I'm sure you're tired of hearing this, BUT another pictureless post because pictures are STILL on my camera. I won't mentiont the part about not taking a single picture of Sampson yet. More on that in a minute.

Timeline
Tuesday
4:45 PM: Cell phone rings while I'm still at school.
"Natalie, this is B. There is a rescue lab that needs a home. Would you guys be interested?"
Called H to check with him. Need more information.
4:50ish PM: Yes, we're interested. Get contact information.
5:00 PM: Contact "owner" and make arrangements to see puppy.
7:00-7:30 PM: Discuss questions and concerns on the way to see puppy. Make a family decision that if it doesn't feel right, we'll walk away, no tears.
7:33 PM: See "our" puppy for the first time. M was enthralled with sweet boy from the moment she saw him. He took to her pretty quickly, too. She really doesn't understand that we will be taking him home with us.
8:00 PM: Somehow or other (still a blur), H is able to shove sweet boy in the van. He did NOT want to get in. I sit in the backseat with him. He rides home snuggled on my feet.
8:00-8:45 PM: Ride home, discuss names. Sampson just feels right for him. Now we've got a name for our boy.
8:45-9:15 PM: We play with and welcome Sampson home. He's completely overwhelmed. M and I go to bed.
9:15 PM-1:30 AM: H spends lots of quality time with Sampson. Sampson seems most frightful of H, so H wants to make sure they bond with each other. Even after H puts Sampson in his kennel, he sleeps on the floor beside it so Sampson won't be too afraid.

Wednesday:
Sampson has a great day!
He's beginning to adjust to our family.
He will go in his kennel with the encouragment of a treat or two.
He only had one accident in the house today.
He is completely in love with M and wants her attention.
His little personality is coming out.
He's a chewer, so we've had to take several things away from him (shoes, M's toys, etc.). Whenever he takes something of M's and we try to take it away from him, she says, "It's okay. That's not my FAVORITE toy."
He sleeps on my feet whenever I sit at the desk.
He's still so scared of so many things. We've got a job to love him lots until he's comfortable in our family.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A new beginning

**This is a pictureless post because we're STILL having some computer issues and I just can't risk putting 300 pictures on the computer and causing it to crash.**
Today marked a new beginning for M. She had lots of trouble sleeping last night because she was so excited. Anyone who would listen yesterday heard about her upcoming excitement.
M started 4K this morning. The long awaited 4K. She chattered, withouth pause, the entire way to school about nothing...an indication of her slight anxiety. Before we left the house, I asked her if she was nervous. "Mama! I'm not nervous. I've been to school a meellion and a meellion (million) times. I'm not nervous at all!" 4K has loomed large in her mind for a while now. In the spring, H and I started hearing, "When I'm in 4K...." about so many things. That phrase lasted throughout the summer and increased in frequency the past few weeks. I'm not sure why 4K was such a huge monument for her, but it is and so it shall be for our family. We've encouraged her and built it up right along with her. H took her to Open House last week. She loved seeing her classroom and meeting her teacher. She even told me about one of her new friends. I asked her about some friends from her 3K class, only to discover that every other child she knows from preschool is in the other 4K class! That didn't seem to bother her one tiny bit. She marched in this morning as proud and confident as could be. I spoke with the teacher for a few minutes, watched her play, and left. As confident as she is with us and friend we have in our home, I'm always amazed at how reserved she seems to be in a new environment.
Not only is today her first day of preschool, she also starts ballet this afternoon! She's as excited about that as she is about going back to school. I can't wait to see how sweet she looks in her ballet leotard and shoes and how much fun she has in class.
{Pictures will come as soon as we get this computer issue resolved.}

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almost 28 weeks...random thoughts

Dearest Precious Boy,

I can't believe you've been with us for almost 28 weeks! Every day that your arrival gets closer, we love you a little more and get a little more excited about growing our family. M has almost given up calling you "Handsome." Most of the time, she snuggles up to my tummy and says, "Hello, Lukie-dukie. I love you, precious boy." As my tummy grows, so does the reality of your upcoming arrival for her. You are going to rock her world in so many ways, but she's going to be so wonderful with you.

I had a doctor's appointment today to check on you. Your heartbeat was 130, which was the lowest it's ever been. You were quite still while I was there, so you might have been catching a little nap. You tend to be a super soccer player, so I'm always a bit surprised when I realize I haven't felt you in a little while. I can't wait to see if your real personality is so active! Even if it is, I hope you love to snuggle.

I lost three pounds since my last visit, but that's okay. School has started now and you've caused me to be pretty sick these past few weeks. Thankfully I've got medicine now, so I don't worry as much about getting all the nutrients you need. I think it's the combination of school and sick that caused the weight loss. You're still moving a lot, so you must be doing fine in there.

One sad thing about the appointment today. My glucose level was high. I should have been under 140 and I was at 173. Those 33 points seem like a lot to me, but our sweet nurse said she's seen it higher than that! I feel okay (except for yesterday...we sure didn't have a good day, did we?), so I'm not overly concerned. I will take another diabetes test next Wednesday. I feel very hopeful that all will be well then.

There are times, in the evening when I'm still and relaxing, that this all still feels like a dream. Like all the waiting and praying for you still seems so real and you are still a desire. Then you'll give me a good hard kick and I'll smile with joy that YOU are real, that you are an actual physical answer to our prayers, that in just a few short weeks, you will be in our arms. I want each moment to race by so you'll be here sooner, but I also want to enjoy each moment that you are growing in me.

We love you so much. Your daddy can't wait to share UGA football moments with you and M can't wait to teach you all the things she's stored up for you. In fact, just this morning, Daddy called me and told me not to worry about ever taking you to school. M plans on driving you there herself, so we'd better go ahead and buy her a car and all the things she'll need to get you to school. Daddy and I had a good laugh about that one.

Twelve weeks, baby boy. Stay put for 12 more weeks. Work hard on your breathing and swallowing. We can't wait to meet you, but we'll be patient until the Lord calls you into the world. His timing is indeed perfect and he knows the exact moment our family will be ready for you. It's almost hard to imagine that His love for you is even greater than ours, but it is true.

Love,
Mommy

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our Day...

M is a flower girl in a wedding today! Can't wait to post pictures of her all dressed up in her finery with a fancy hairstyle! So much fun for her!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Poor Girl

Last night, I got home around 8:45. M was in bed, but not asleep. We had a few minutes of sweet snuggles and she went back to bed. A few minutes later, I heard her calling for me in the bathroom. She needed a little help cleaning up after a messsy bathroom situation. I put her in the tub so her bottom wouldn't hurt her. She went to sleep without complaint.

Around 2:30 this morning, she was snuggling in bed with me. I was able to doze on and off, but she couldn't get back to sleep until around 5:00. I constantly worried that she was coming down with something, but she insisted she was okay.

I left for work at 7:15. By 8:15, H was texting me telling me that it had started. She was throwing up. Luckily, it was never much, but it happened several times. He had to work this morning, so he took her to his office, where she slept most of the morning. I left work a little early (about an hour) to come home so he could go back to the office.

My poor girl is all snuggled on the couch, sipping on Sprite. She dozes off and jerks awake, dozes off and jerks awake. I wish there was something I could do to help her. She insists she's feeling much better. I sure hope so!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Update

This is an update to this post.

Remember this for next year, oh doubtful teacher:

1.) Today was the 6th day of school. Your students are already following directions and gaining confidence from the structure of the classroom.

2.) Almost every single student can open their own milk carton. They know how to walk through the lunch line. They can use the bathroom during appropriate times and do not interrupt all day long to go.

3.) They can read the following 5 words: and, the, is, I, a.

4.) They are beginning to request some of the things you've introduced to them (We Are the Dinosaurs and The Days of the Week song). The parents are telling you that the kids are using "school words" at home.

There are good moments each day! The kids are really coming together as a group and you are forming sweet relationships with them. Moms are confiding their struggles at home. As hard as the first days are, the effort is worth it in such a short time. This is going to be a fantastic year.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Celebration

What a busy weekend! H picked me up from work Friday afternoon and we headed to the big city to meet up with my ENTIRE family (except one brother) to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday.

Ninety years!

Incredible.

I can't begin to tell you how special this grandmother is to me. My life is filled with memories of time she spent with me and the fun things we did. For several years she lived in the town where I grew up and my brothers and I spent tremendous amounts of time with her. We have certainly been blessed that our children are able to know her. It's true that the great grands don't know her as we did, but they will have someone to connect to our memories.

When we arrived Friday evening, we joined everyone at a restaurant for dinner. There were 18 of us and we took over the entire restaurant. It was SO much fun!!!

There was one slight snag in the weekend. When we got back to the hotel, I noticed that I had some bloody discharge. As I've been so fearful this pregnancy, that certainly did not sit well with me. I confessed to H, we both had moments of panic, but Luke was very active and we decided to wait it out. I didn't sleep much: enjoyed cuddling with M and holding my belly most of the night. We decided not to mention anything to anyone else and just see how the day progressed. Luckily, the bleeding gradually subsided during the day and all is well now. Luke has been active and busy, just like the rest of the family!

Saturday we hired a photographer to take lots of family pictures. It was incredible not being the one trying to capture the perfect picture! I can't wait to see the sweet pictures. We made sure to take pictures of the great grands with my grandmother and every conceivable family structure while we had the attention of a professional!

Saturday evening even more family joined us and we had a great dinner together.

I just can't begin to tell how much fun it was to be together to celebrate someone so wonderful and to create so many memories. I'll post pictures as soon as we can figure out this whole external hard drive issue and not crash the laptop. I can't wait for you to "meet" my grandmother!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A funny student story

For the sake of my own exhausted brain and hopefully your amusement, I'm going to share a hilarious story with you. As usual, I'll make it too long and it will probably bore you to death instead of make you giggle. Oh, well.

First, let me emphasis this by saying, "NOT ALL OF MY STUDENTS ARE THIS DEPRIVED. Many, MOST, of my students are from homes just like yours and mine. Normal, loving homes with a couple of kids, maybe a dog or a cat, active grandparents, etc."

Imagine Daniel...the 4th child in a family of 5. One sister, four boys. One mother, four fathers (not in the home...four fathers, five children...get the picture?). Many last names.

Daniel: You got a baby in there? (pointing to my stomach)

Me: Yes.

Daniel: It a boy or a girl? (all up in my personal space)

Me: It's a boy.

Daniel: What his name is?

Me: Luke.

Daniel: No, what his name is? It Jones? (that's the last name of one of his brothers)

Me: No, honey. His name will be Luke Benson. I'm Mrs. Benson. My baby will be Luke Benson.

Daniel: Oh. (looks completely perplexed) You got a kid at home?

Me: Yes.

Daniel: What it be?

Me: What you do mean, what is it? Do I have a little girl or a little boy?

Daniel: Yeah...you got a boy or a girl at home?

Me: Daniel, I've got a daughter at home. She's almost 5 just like you are already 5.

Daniel: What her name is?

Me: Meryt.

Daniel: No, no. What her name is?

Me: Honey, her name is Meryt. Meryt is the name of my little girl.

Daniel: What her OTHER name is?

Me: Daniel, you really need to ask me correctly like this, "What is her name?" Her name is Meryt Benson. I'm Mrs. Benson. Our baby boy is Luke Benson and my daughter is Meryt Benson.

Daniel: (completely perplexed by this) You got a man at home, too?

Me: Yes. He's my husband. That's when a man and a lady are married to each other. The man is the husband and the lady is the wife. My husband's name is Mr. ______.

Daniel: What his OTHER name?

Me: Well, you'll call him Mr. H, like all the other children, but his name is H---- Benson.

Daniel: You ALL got the name Benson?!

Me: (losing all control I've had during this entire conversation and flat out laughing at this point) Yes, precious. We've ALL got the name Benson. Mrs. Benson. Luke Benson. Meryt Benson. Mr. H Benson. We're all Benson.

Daniel: (walking away) How about that...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A few things to remember

This is a note for myself. Feel free to skip it or read and offer any suggestions you might have.

A note to Natalie from Natalie.

Lessons learned:
1.) Get the students ready for lunch LONG before you think you need to. The past two days have been hectic at lunch time and it could have been avoided if you'd been prepared.

2.) Build in more bathroom breaks and remind the students to go when you're not at carpet time. They have to go to the bathroom a lot more than you realize at the beginning of the year. They will learn that there are times during the day when they can go, but be patient at the beginning.

3.) When you have 15 boys and 9 girls, read more gross stories. Boys do not like mushy stories and princess songs. Invest in lots of gross animal stories, such as "I Know an Old Teacher." They could not care less about "The Kissing Hand."

4.) On the topic is having 15 boys, plan for lots of activities to let their energy out. There are so many benefits of having so many boys: not as much whining, almost no tattling. On the other hand, having so many boys is a challenge!

5.) You've never considered yourself a girly kind of teacher, but in the past two days, it's become obvious that you leaned more toward teaching the girls. You haven't disadvantaged the boys in the last 10 classes...you are just more aware of your own faults now. Take it and learn from it.

6.) Slow down some. Spend even more time teaching and training the routines and procedures in the classroom. Yesterday, that's what you did and the kids benefited from it. Today, you rushed things a little and the result was their restlessness.

7.) There is nothing...NOTHING...more important that your rest at the beginning of the year. Today you saw what happens when you are tired and can't be 100% engaged with the children. Next month, that will be fine. Your students will be trained. Today, that was not okay. Even though you gave 90% all day, your kids fed off your exhaustion. Fake it (more) if you don't have it.

8.) Do not give the students one moment to gain control in the classroom. It's exhausting to micromanage every moment of the day the first few weeks, but it's even more exhausting to have to reclaim control when you've allowed it to slip away. Don't allow the children to talk so loud that they can't hear you when you need their attention. Stay on them until they are trained.

9.) Even though you may get bored saying the same thing repeatedly, they need to practice, practice, practice your expectations. Don't talk when they don't do it right. STOP. Do it again. And again. And again. Until they do it perfectly.

10.) Teach the children how to tuck their shirts in immediately. Dress code issues can be so time consuming. It'll take a while to work on the shoe tying, but shirts can be done immediately.

11.) Keep a little journal of the things you do differently this year in case you ever have another year with so many boys or just discover ideas about how to reach the boys more effectively. This is a great year for you to learn and grow as a teacher. Make it fun for everyone!

12.) You really do not dislike the first few weeks of school. The reward is not immediate, but it does come and it is sweet.

Yes, they are all this young and immature when they come to kindergarten. Yes, they will mature and grow up. Yes, you can do it. Yes, you can make it another few hours. Yes, it's okay to feel GOOD when they leave.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quick Prayer Request

I've got a quick prayer request.

My students show up tomorrow. My pregnancy is going great...except this whole vomitting thing. I can't seem to predict when it will happen or why. It's not triggered by a certain type of food. Unless you consider eating.

I sure would appreciate any prayers for this to go away. I can handle (sort of) throwing up at home (or even at church), but I HATE to throw up at school. Particularly because I don't have lots of warning and might not be near a bathroom or have to use the student bathroom where everyone would be a witness (well, not actually SEE the act, but I'm not exactly quiet). I'd really, REALLY rather not throw up in a trashcan in front of the students. That would be bad. They are in KINDERGARTEN.

Thanks. I appreciate it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts on Week 24

Dearest Precious Luke,

(How fun that we know you are a boy and can begin calling you Luke!)

Once again, I must remind us that you are truly a miracle from God. I've had many more moments of peace in the past few weeks as you love to move around. The Lord has been and continues to be so gracious to me as your mama.

Your big sister is so in love with you already...and we don't even know you yet! I can't wait to watch her with you and watch the sibling love develop between both of you. She wanted a brother so bad and has loved picking out special things for you when we're out. Your daddy and I take her to all of our doctor's appointments. M loves listening to your heartbeat. The doctor this week was great and let us listen for a long time. When M heard it, her eyes widened and she said, "Isn't that INCREDIBLE?" Such a sweet time for all of us as we prepare for your arrival.

Your sister was an easy baby. We easily adapted to being her parents. She loved to sleep and was always easy to have around. When she was in my tummy, she stretched a lot, but wasn't a big kicker. You, on the other hand, sweet boy, love to jump around in there. You move so much more than she did. I can't wait to meet you and see how your personalities are different. I wonder if you'll look like her or if you'll have your own sweet look about you.

There are only 16 weeks until your arrival. I can't believe we're on the downhill slide. In so many ways, 16 weeks feels like an eternity to wait. But I know that each day marches by entirely too quickly and you'll be here before we know it! Keep growing in there. Keep kicking.

Love,
Mama

Sunday, July 18, 2010

MIA

This little bloggy has been neglected.
This little bloggy feels sad.
This little bloggy needs some attention.
And it needs it real bad.

Whew! HEEEELLLLLLOOOOOOO bloggy friends!

We're back, we're back, we're back. After a very, VERY (did I mention VERY!) busy week, M and I took to the road and spent a week with my parents. It was completely delicious and we had such a great time. I was a little teary when we left yesterday, as I realized how much we miss by living so far away. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know that 3 hours isn't SO FAR AWAY, but when you consider that we packed M's bike up in the van and drove to a park where she could safely ride her bike, play on a playground, eat lunch in an air conditioned cafe {that served Starbucks, no less}, AND play in a splash pad ALL AT THE SAME PLACE, you kinda realize that the city of my childhood has so much to offer that our current city just hasn't achieved yet.

There will be a heavy picture post as soon as I get the energy to download all the pictures from the camera to the computer and hope it doesn't crash. :)

Other than the park, our week was full of delicious fun:
--2 full days spent with cousins
--beach fun
--backyard pool time
--painting
--finding caterpillars in the garden
--indoor swimming
--park time
--puppet shows
--lots of love and snuggles with Nona, OB, uncles, an aunt and two precious cousins.

All in all, it was just the type of vacation M and I needed.

Oh, you're wondering about H? Poor, poor H. He was left at home with a honey-do list that included repainting the dining room (looks incredible) and M's room (looks even more incredible), plus some church work that needed to be taken care of.

I don't really know what to write about, but I'll work on sending you a few more messages this week and not ignoring this special place quite as much. This week promises to be busy as I've got a class all week. Sprinkle in bunko, doctor's appt, diaper demo, and pool time...living life to the fullest before I go back to *gasp* school.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Adventure

Several weeks ago, M inherited a Backyard Jungle tadpole habitat. We don't live near a pond or water source, so I've asked around to a few folks to see if anyone could track down some tadpoles for us. Everyone is busy. No one ever caught any tadpoles for us.

Little did I know, we had a treasure trove of tadpoles right here, at our house!! :) Tonight, I was bathing M when H called upstairs, "I need you outside right now with a jar of water!"

Um...okay. I can honestly say in 10 years, I've NEVER heard that request before! I left M in the tub, filled up our tea pitcher with water and went to find H. H was digging around in the shed, mumbling under his breath. By this point, I was completely baffled!

"This is suddenly getting harder than I thought it would be," he said to me. I still have no idea what's going on. He rushes in the house and I hear banging around in one of the closets. Out he comes again.

"C'mon." That was it. Just a one word command.

Follow him I did. To M's play area where he plunks himself down by her sandbox. Or what used to be her sandbox. Last fall, I accidentally left the top off. So we just continued to leave the top off in case a cat used it as a litter box, always intending to clean it out and start over again. Then we had a very rainy winter and spring. Now the sandbox is filled with decaying leaves and tons of nasty water. (NASTY water) Since we're hosting a little party here Thursday evening, H was going to clean out the sandbox when he saw the little squiggly, wiggly bodies of the tadpoles.

There were HUNDREDS of them in there, in a variety of stages of tadpole-life. (Even more amazing than actually finding tadpoles at our house, H remembered that M and I wanted some! He got lots of daddy points for that one!)

I don't know why he thought it would be difficult to capture them. We dumped out our sink water and just filled up several containers with nasty sandbox water. Of course, there was mosquito larvae in the water, so I lovingly strained the water with a paper towel to get rid of the mosquito larvae.

I can't wait to share with you the pictures of our tadpoles growing and changing. We're only keeping 5 of them in our habitat. I'm offering the rest to any locals who might want to stop by and take a few home with them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Please help

I'm at the end of my rope.

Bedtime is ruining our days. M has never been a difficult sleeper. When she was an infant and young toddler, eating was our issue. She's never been into eating, so we had to fight to introduce new foods. Now she'll eat lots of {junk} food, but she's having the hardest time settling down at night.

Perhaps I should have expected it today. She had a rather boring day at home, watching the tube, playing with her toys, pajama day kind of day. She still should have been tired at bedtime. She was up until at least 11:00 last night after a pretty busy day. It doesn't seem to matter if we've spent hours at the pool or had a quiet day at home. She can not settle down at bedtime. I tucked her in at 8:45 (a little later than I intended, but we were enjoying a book together)...it was 10:00 before she was asleep and that was after she cried for a good while.

I know it's summer time and she's used to going to preschool to use up some of her energy. I'm trying to keep her bedtime routine the same (bath, story time, snuggles in bed, same music, etc.), but she's sneaking out of her room, playing in my bedroom. She'll turn my TV on and watch it while she's falling asleep.

Bedtime is the one time of day I REALLY prefer not to spank, but I don't know what else to do. Does anyone out there have any suggestions to help guide us back to a seamless bedtime? She NEEDS to be in her bed by 8:30 and asleep by 9:00. I didn't spank her tonight, but her feelings were hurt after I fussed at her for playing in her grandmother's jewelry in my room and leaving it all over the floor. The nerve of me for making her clean up her mess. Pardon me, BUT I'D ALREADY TUCKED HER IN. She should have been in her room, going to sleep, not playing with jewelry in my bedroom!

I'm really at a loss. Please give me some advice. I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Conversation

M: "Did you cry because Mocha died?"

Me: "Yes."

M: "I know. I miss her SO much. I miss our sweetie THIS (arms flung wide apart) much."

Me: "I miss her that much, too."

M: "Well, you might miss her a little more because your arms are bigger."

The Past Few Weeks

A lot has happened in the past few weeks in the Benson household.

About two weeks ago, our lab got sick. She was refusing her food and barely eating any table scraps we offered...completely unlike her. In fact, we accidentally left a box of cereal on the table and she didn't even bother it. COMPLETELY unlike her.

Mocha, our lab, spent a few nights with the vet under the assumption that she'd eaten something bad or had some type of worm. After several rounds of antibiotic shots and a few days of rest, she came home. We thought she was doing much better.

Then we left town and hired a pet sitter to come to the house several times a day. Mocha's always had some separation anxiety, so we weren't really surprised when our sweet sitter called to tell us she was having accidents in the house. After a {rather heated} discussion, H and I decided for the sitter to take Mocha to the vet for boarding until we returned.

When H went to pick her up Monday afternoon, the vet wanted to keep her one more day. During the weekend, she'd needed some oxygen because her breathing was so labored and she was still refusing to eat and drink. He was giving her gatorade by syringe. (We've got the sweetest vet in the world.) H was very concerned, but he spared me some of the details of the conversation with the vet. I didn't know enough to be concerned.

Tuesday afternoon arrives and H picks Mocha up from the vet. On the way home he called me and gave me a run down that sounded like this:
H: Honey, Mocha's not doing very well. She needed some oxygen over the weekend and her breathing is very labored.
Me: Oh, poor girl. What's wrong with her?
H: The doctor thinks she might have cancer.
Me: WHAT!?! Are you kidding me?
H: I would never joke about this. I'm bringing her home, but we need to keep things really calm for her. Tell M not to run up to her or cause her stress. No sitting on her or using her as a pillow.
Me: Is she going to die?
H: If she doesn't turn a corner by Thursday, we might need to talk about that.

I hung up on him. I didn't want to have that conversation.

When he got her home, we put down towels and snuggled with her on the floor for a while. H spoon fed her some soft dog food and gave her some gatorade.

I went to bed around 11:30.

H woke me up at 12:30. She wanted to go outside, so they went for a little walk around the yard. She was able to lay down in her favorite spot. When she wouldn't get up, H picked her up and brought her inside. He woke me up and let me know that she didn't have much longer.

We put towels under her and around her. He whispered sweet things to her and we rubbed her all over, giving her lots of love as she left our lives. It was the most peaceful, beautiful thing I've ever been a part of. I was hysterical, but I know she knows how much she was loved when she died. She wasn't alone for one minute last night. Our hearts have a terrible hole right now and we're tearful. But she was never in pain and we were with her in the end. We'll miss her...she was our first baby. I'm glad she didn't suffer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's a...

Wanna guess?



We were beyond thrilled today to see our precious baby. I find myself still living in a place of fear instead of joy. The Lord is continually working in my heart so I might actually enjoy growing this baby. Isn't it amazing that I'm almost 1/2 way to the finish line? For so long, I believed this dream was lost to me. I almost have to pinch myself to remind me that this is reality.



So, for the baby news:


Perfect little ribs.
Perfect little heart.
Perfect little femur.
Perfect little hands.
Perfect little head.




Perfect little boy.



Yes, friends. In November, the Benson family will grow by one and his name will be


Lucas "Luke" Monroe Benson.

We can't wait to meet him and welcome him into our arms. He's already fully welcomed into our hearts. How my arms yearn to hold his precious little baby weight and my lips to kiss his precious head.




Our one profile shot. He was looking down, so we didn't get lots of profiles.



Evidence that he is, indeed, a boy.
I will never, ever post another picture indicating such information!

ETA: I completely forgot to tell the funniest story about today. H and I have been rather worried about how to handle the sex of this baby. M has been SO determined that she wants a baby brother (We only have one boy in our family...we need a baby boy so Daddy will have a boy, etc.). Well, after our appt today, I asked M if she was excited about finally knowing she was having a brother. Her reply?
"Well, I actually decided I want a sister."
That is SO her. Anything to have the last word.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10 Things We Have Done

Because I am a copycat, I'm now going to borrow Kyla's idea to do 10 Things We HAVE Done. Trust me on this one...the Benson's will not be as exciting as Kyla's.

10 Things I (Natalie) HAVE Done:

1.) Driven to Atlanta (1.5 hours away) and back three times in one day.

2.) Been in a wreck. (not on the Atlanta trips)

3.) Attended several Olympic Events. (spectator...not athlete)

4.) Seen The Phantom of the Opera in multiple cities.

5.) Laughed until I wet my pants.

6.) Met a murderer.

7.) Sewn outfits for M.

8.) Been to Bar Harbor, Maine.

9.) Read a book in less than one day. (many times)

10.) Been quoted in the newspaper.


10 Things M Has Done: (she is helping me create this list)

1.) Slept on the beach.

2.) Watched TV.

3.) Played on the computer.

4.) Seen dolphins play in the ocean.

5.) Helped in the kitchen.

6.) Watched Star Worlds (otherwise known as Star Wars)

7.) Spent the night with a boy.

8.) Flew to Las Vegas. (in utero)

9.) Swam underwater.

10.) Rode a horse.


10 Things H HAS Done: (H did not help me with this list.)

1.) Been on a cruise.

2.) Been married twice.

3.) Eaten liver.

4.) Been in a wreck.

5.) Sung karaoke in public.

6.) Stayed up all night working on a home improvement project.

7.) Helped deliver his daughter.

8.) Painted a house (inside and out).

9.) Sued someone.

10.) Lived in only 3 houses his entire life.


So, friends...there you have it. More useless information to file away. I hope you've enjoyed this installment of "and other stuff."

Monday, June 14, 2010

10 Things We've Never Done

My sweet blogfriend, Kyla, did a great post about 10 Things She's Never Done. In honor of her and because I'm just not that creative, I'm going to borrow the same idea.

10 Things I (Natalie) have never done:

1.) Driven across the country by myself.

2.) Run out of gas.

3.) Been fired.

4.) Left my wallet at home on purpose so someone else had to pay for my dinner.

5.) Bought one movie ticket and snuck into another movie.

6.) Been to a movie by myself.

7.) Hiked the Appalachian Trail.

8.) Been successful at losing and keeping off weight.

9.) Eaten liver.

10.) Had an addiction other than food.


10 Things Meryt Has Never Done:

1.) Flown in an airplane (except in utero).

2.) Eaten sushi.

3.) Met a stranger.

4.) Bitten another child.

5.) Played a sport.

6.) Had an ear infection.

7.) Burned herself in the kitchen.

8.) Been left alone at a birthday party.

9.) Broken a bone.

10.) Eaten soup.


Ten Things H Has Never Done: (He dictated these to me.)

1.) Kissed anyone on the Empire State Building.

2.) Played baseball.

3.) Been to the Kentucky Derby.

4.) Lived outside of our current state.

5.) Driven over 120 miles per hour.

6.) Eaten fried pig ears.

7.) Been scuba diving.

8.) Dated more than one girl at a time.

9.) Been to Mexico.

10.) Been to Las Vegas.



So, there you have it. A few random facts about the Benson family. File this under "and other stuff."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cutest Boys Evah!!

I'm a little shocked with myself for even typing "evah" on my blog, but when you look at the precious eye candy below, you'll be saying, "evah," too. These two boys will one day be brothers. They are incredible to see together. The shoot was actually for the younger brother's father as a gift, so he was the main subject. They are NOT legal yet...keep your hands to yourself.

This is the "older" brother.


Younger brother.























The light was changing every single second. We had to hurry from one place to another. The boys were champs the whole time. I LOVED doing their pictures and would love to spend more time with them!