Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Season for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build up,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

...A time to blog, and a time not to blog.

I made that last bit up...:-)

I've been blogging now for about three and a half years, and it has been a critical part in refining the parenting skills I've used with the child. Now, however, I feel like we've hit a new stage in our journey. It appears to be a stage in which more direct time and energy is required of me, and blogging seems to drain the resources rather than fill them up.  I know part of me will miss this, and I know that if I ever feel it will be useful again then I'll be back in a flash, but more than both of those I know this is the right decision for myself and my daughter.

I've already said goodbye at the other blog that I contribute to here. I'll be leaving the site "up" so if people find it and need the information here it will be here.

Whatever has brought you here, thank you for sharing your time with me, and wherever you go from here, may God bless and direct your steps.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

J is for Jelly

Sometimes I wonder if the child can "read my mind." If so it is not a fully realized skill, at least based on this week's Alphabe-Thursday post. I thought for sure she would pick Jelly Beans for her J word...especially since her first field trip by school bus this past year was to a local Jelly Bean factory.

After some false starts she settled on the word Jelly. (Close, but not quite, Mom.)

Jelly is another staple around here. This week we just have grape, and it's just the generic store brand, so not that exciting of a photo...I know. All kind of plain isn't it...but in my book there is little better than hot buttered toast with a bit of grape jelly. Yum!

It is a bit of a bone of contention, though, too. Sometime in the middle of the school year the child started asking for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in her lunch. Not a problem. She generally gets on a streak where she wants the same thing for weeks on end. That's not a problem either, except that evidently she burned out on PB&J. Now it is Summer and we do a fair amount of packing lunches to take them on road trips, or to the park, or whatever. The easiest thing to pack is sandwiches and now she no longer wants peanut butter and Jelly. For a while she would eat meat and cheese, but no more. I personally like peanut butter and Jelly, but not together, so I've tried one half of each, but that was not satisfactory. To make matters worse, the boy has a mild peanut allergy, so I usually just give him Jelly and then...that's what she wants, but she needs the protein and he drinks milk (which she won't). It all sounds very minor until you know that when she isn't happy about something it displays with aggression, sometimes even hours later when I think the whole problem has blown over. When it's over something that I don't feel I can compromise on (like ingesting some protein) it's like being caught in a trap. Well today maybe I got a break. We had sandwiches for lunch and without batting an eye she requested peanut butter and Jelly again. You're sure? Yep.

So what was that all about? I'll never know...
Maybe Alphabe-Thursday just did me a huge favor!

Jump on over to all the other Jubilant Jiffies here.

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I is for Ice Cream

We are home again - first day back - so this will be short and sweet (literally!)

It didn't take the child long to think of something that starts with I, and then ask to have it for dessert. Luckily we had some in the freezer.

Ice cream is kind of a staple around here. It is rare to find us with no Ice cream in the house. My husband is a dessert hound, and has passed this on to his children quite nicely. When she asks for Ice cream I really don't mind. She refuses to drink milk, so this is one way to get some calcium in her, and since she is so active she is skinny as a rail. Yes, she gets that from her daddy, too.

I scream
You scream
We all scream
for Ice Cream!

Go get know you want it...

Then hurry back to Investigate other Imaginative Inventions here...

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, July 12, 2012

H is for Harness

Here we are at Grandma's House, and just squeaking in for the Alphabe-Thursday letter H through the eyes of the child.

In unfamiliar territory it took a while to think of a word that starts with H, but the one she arrived at is very fitting in a sweet and sad kind of way. It used to be, you see, that a big part of the thrill of going to Grandma's House was getting to see Grandma's dog. Grandma's rambunctious, rascally, over-excitable, but beautiful, brindled boxer. Our children viewed McKenzie as sort of a long-distance pet. We have no pets of our own, and the fun of walking, feeding, and playing with Grandma's dog never got old (we went Home before that ever happened.) Sadly, McKenzie died about six months ago, somewhat suddenly though not unexpectedly. It has been very sad for Grandma, who misses her constant companion, and a great loss for the children as well.

Grandma is not quite up to the task of taking on another pet (though she would if we didn't put our foot down) and so there is a great void now at Grandma's House.

Today when asked for a word starting with H, the child thought for a long time, and then said, "Harness - McKenzie's Harness that we used to walk her," then promptly went to the closet and found it in its usual handy hanging spot. Luckily, the child had also brought (400 miles, in the van) our large stuffed dog which was more than Happy to model the Harness. Then I realized that she probably brought this dog to try to fill the void. Even after I snapped this photo she "walked" the dog around the house, much to our amusement.

In loving memory of sweet McKenzie, and all pets everywhere who have brought us so much joy.

Head over to Ms. Jenny's Headquarters to read more Heavenly Headlines

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, July 5, 2012

G is for Green

We are now departing noun-land. So far everything the child has decided I should photograph was a noun: apron, blanket, cup, dresser, elephant, fireflies...GREEN. Maybe there just wasn't a noun in sight that started with G, or maybe she realized photography is visual and you can take a picture of a adjective, too. Maybe she remembered that Green is one of my favorite colors.

Can you take a picture of something Green, Mom?
Sure. What Green thing should I take a picture of?
The palm leaf.

Silly me at first I thought she meant one of Daddy's beautiful house plants. Nope.

No she wants me to reveal to the world (well some small portion of it anyway) that we still have Easter decorations up in plain sight at our house. Yep.

This is a palm leaf made in Sunday School by Little Brother on Palm Sunday (so technically Pre-Easter Decorations.)

He even embellished it a little with some green paint. So it is Green on Green...very Green. And yes, it is (past) the 4th of July, but we all know people who keep their Christmas trees up until Valentine's Day or so, so what's the big deal, right? Go ahead, enjoy a laugh at my expense.

Then Go Gander at other Great Goodies here.
Jenny Matlock

Thursday, June 28, 2012

F is for Fireflies

Time for Alphabe-Thursday Fun with the child. This week's letter is F, and when I asked the child to help me think of something that starts with F we Floundered a bit at First. Furniture? File? We have lots of both, but they are not very exciting to look at.

Then over breakfast we were discussing a recent craft from storytime at our local library and it hit us - Fireflies!

Fireflies - of course!

Each child got to make their own Firefly at the library. The parts were already cut out for them, and we just glued them together. This was one of the first craft times that the kids all worked relatively independently and I just watched them in action. It was a special camping-themed story time, so there were also coloring sheets, but only the child did one of those. Nice blue hair, no? And the bear, in case you're wondering, is a polar bear. But I digress...

We were discussing the fireflies and who made which, and which was "better." There was a model to follow, you see, but each kid "followed" it in their own way. Little boy made his firefly friendly - see it waving hello? Little girl made her firefly in flight. We decided the child's firefly was standing in profile - one wing behind and one in front. And so, I concluded, I like all of the Fireflies...very much.

To Find the other Fun Follies click here.
Jenny Matlock

Thursday, June 21, 2012

E is for Elephant Fun

When I asked the child for an E word this week she said, "Who is making us do this, Mom?" he he he...
"It's just for fun," I said. And then she proved me wrong. Last week I said I think she just looks around and says the first thing she sees that starts with that letter. Well for E she thought about it and said, "Elephant." Needless to say there weren't any elephants around. So I asked her which elephant she was thinking of. We actually have lots of elephants at our house, because I happen to love elephants. They are my favorite animal. A couple of years ago I was so happy to get to ride an elephant in a natural environment when we visited Bali. I have collected elephant pictures, books, figurines, and stuffed animals. So she caught me off guard, again - it is her specialty - when she said she wanted me to take a picture of the Elephant from Monkey Dunk.

In case you are not familiar, Monkey dunk is a Milton Bradley game from Hasbro. It is sort of a take off from tiddlywinks. Each player is given four plastic monkeys (yellow, red, green, or purple).

These monkeys jump when you push on their backside. It is a little tricky for small fingers, but with a little hand over hand and encouragement I got the four year old twins jumping monkeys in no time.

The object is to jump your monkeys into the swimming hole. The elephant guards one of the swimming holes, and also acts as a timer for the game. When you push the bottom of the elephant in it sets a spring that slowly unwinds and then...POPS! When the elephant pops some of the monkeys jump again. Each player counts how many of his monkeys end up in the swimming hole and takes a banana token for each swimming monkey.

The bonus of getting this game out to take photos of the Elephant is that the kids are all now happily playing monkey dunk while I write the post. It's a super fun win,win, win.

Jenny Matlock
To see other Excellent Excerpts on E click here.

Disclaimer: in case the spontaneous nature of this post wasn't clear compensation (except laughter and fun times) was provided by Hasbro for this advertisement. Good deal for them, no? 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

D is for Dresser

When I asked the child for a letter D object to photograph she immediately said, "Dresser!" I'm noticing that she basically looks around and says the first thing she sees that starts with the letter of the week. I may have to be more careful of her surroundings when I ask her for a word! Luckily her Dresser is not looking as bad as it sometimes does. I just cleared it off and "reorganized" it a little over a week ago.

To be fair, this is one of the few places the child can put things that she doesn't want her siblings to mess with. They can't quite reach up there yet, and it is certainly out of sight for them, so they usually ignore whatever is up there. These may be among her most prized possessions.

The jewelry box on the right is a music box with lots of little drawers to hide treasure in. You may also see her John Lennon glasses, her "fossil" and clay fairy that she made in 2nd grade, and her cherished "Squinkie" salon play set. Less important (to her) the clothes stowed inside. The purpose of the dresser in her mind is to protect her special things.

Where is your treasure?

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." - Jesus
(Matthew 6:19-20, NIV)

I know you want to delve into more dutiful D delicacies, so click here.

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, June 7, 2012

C is for Cup and Cop

I'm continuing the alphabet series with the child's input on what I should photograph and write about as we work our way through the alphabet. This week is Crazy with the end of the school year upon us, so I'm a little late, but this is what she came up with.

When I asked her for a C word she was getting ready to go outside with Daddy. So maybe Daddy was just on her mind. His cup was sitting on the table nearby, and that settled it. "Cup," she said, "Daddy's Cup." and then she had second thoughts...

"I can think of another C word, Mom - Cop. But there aren't any cops here to take a picture of." (Thank Goodness.) After a few minutes of pondering she went to the box where our train set pieces are and found this police woman. "Here's a Cop, Mom."

I think it's fun that the character is a police woman. I want my girls to grow up knowing they can do any job they set their hearts and minds to. I also think it's fun that these are both that cobalt blue color that I love so much.

Daddy complains that this "cup" is more of a glass, but we'll just let that slide for now, 'mkay?

For a Complete Cast of C Compositions, visit this link!

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, May 31, 2012

B is for Blanket...and book

I almost forgot to ask the child to tell me something that starts with B that I could take a picture of. When I remembered, she was already snuggled up with Daddy for Bedtime Stories. When I asked she said, "Um..." and in the intervening pause I gave her a suggestion (Bad Mommy...) I'll include my suggestion below because I'm so dang proud of it, but first, I'll show you what she came up with on her own several minutes later. She finished her story with Daddy and came out to the kitchen to tell me she had thought of another idea for B, "Blanket! My Rainbow Blanket." Since the Blanket is a bedtime must I had to take a quick photo and pop her Back into Bed.

Her "Rainbow Blanket" is another gift from Grandma. Noticing a trend here? I think she got it when she was one. She is now eight and she still loves it and takes it everywhere except camping. She doesn't want it to get dirty so camping is not an approved activity. I love the Noah's ark imagery. She loves it because it is colorful.

What I had suggested to her is Book. She was very excited that she got to bring home her Poetry Book from second grade yesterday. She had been looking forward to this project since we toured the second grade classes on open house night about a year ago. Writing has been an increasing challenge for her, but her teacher says that poetry was very encouraging for her. Maybe because it is short. Maybe because poetry is unconventional anyway. Maybe she just likes the "free spirited-ness" of it. Her dedication at the beginning of the Book says it all "I dedicate my poetry book to my mom and dad for letting me do what I want." So here are some pictures of the front (left) and back (right) covers of her Book. They were asked to decorate the covers with fireworks and these were her original creations.

And one sample of her poetry... (a color poem)

Red is a smooth brick.
Orange is the cap on the glue.
Yellow is the bright sun.
Green is the field grass.
Blue is the cold ocean water.
Purple is a sweet plum.
Pink is the evening sunset
Gold is some autumn leaves
Peach is some skin.

Yes, this girl loves her colors!

Jenny Matlock 

To see the other B posts don't
forget to visit the Linky List here!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A is for Apron

I am trying something new for a while. A friend of mine suggested taking a blogging break. It seems my kids need me more right now and blogging is (sadly) the most dispensable of my activities. I think my official sabbatical will be June and July, but I'll be "winding down" a bit in May...moving away from the heavy hitting. I am going to TRY to keep up with alphabe-Thursdsay each week, but I'll be keeping it simple (what else) and hopefully giving you a little glimpse into the child's brain at the same time. Each week I will ask her to help me find an object in our house that starts with that week's letter. It has to be a physical object that I can photograph, and they will all be her ideas. Disclaimer - photographer I am not...

When I asked her to help me think of an A word, she said, "How about apron?"
"Which one?" I asked (we have several.)
"Mine. Yours are all boring!"
I see. So here is a hastily snapped photo of her apron, the one her dear Grandma sent. We use it for baking and also for art projects. I love that it is wipe-able. She evidently finds it non-boring.

To see the other A posts, click here.

Jenny Matlock

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Trisomy 21 - Down Syndrome

When I started this series on the various trisomy genetic disorders, I knew this day would come. How does one even attempt to summarize Down Syndrome in a short blog post? I'll start with the disclaimer that none of my primers are intended to be all-inclusive. They're just a starting point to begin to familiarize the public at large with conditions that sometimes are quite rare and unknown. Down Syndrome doesn't really fit the unknown category, but it may fit the misunderstood category. People may think they know what Down Syndrome is, but have some serious misconceptions mixed in with their facts. My hope is this primer will make you want to learn more. Down Syndrome doesn't really fit the rare category either. Trisomy 21 is the most common single cause of birth defects, and occurs in approximately 5 of every 10,000 births. The condition is named for John Langdon Down, who described the condition in 1866. Dr. Jerome Lejeune linked Down Syndrome with an extra copy of Chromosome 21 in 1959.

Like all trisomy disorders, Down Syndrome occurs when there are three copies of one chromosome (Chromosome 21 in this case) or part of a chromosome. You can look at my general post on Trisomy to learn how this happens. It is an entirely random genetic mutation that cannot be prevented. Genetic counseling is advisable for people who have a family history of Down Syndrome, women above the age of 35, or parents who already have a child with Down Syndrome. Trisomy 21 can be diagnosed prenatally. Screening tests may indicate a higher risk for Down Syndrome and more conclusive diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis can confirm the diagnosis. These tests may carry risks of their own which should be considered carefully.

Each individual with Down Syndrome will be affected differently, but there are several common characteristics, including:
  • decreased muscle tone
  • single crease in palm of the hand
  • cognitive delays
  • impulsive behavior
  • short attention span
  • heart defects - atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect
  • eye problems - cataracts, corrective lenses
  • gastrointestinal blockage - esophageal or duodenal atresia
  • hearing problems
  • narrow airway - sleep apnea
With improved medical treatment options, the average lifespan for individuals with Down Syndrome is nearly the same as normative peers. With early intervention and supportive family, individuals with Down Syndrome can graduate from high school, attend college, and maintain productive careers. Finally, I think I've shared this before, but I want to emphasize that each individual has something to contribute to society, and we have more in common than we may think. Please watch this short video by a young man with Down Syndrome and his parents. It is well worth your time.

Additional resources:

Friday, May 18, 2012


Today the letter of the week for

Jenny Matlock 
Is Z.

It's so fitting. the words that come to mind:

Zero - the amount of energy I have right now.

Zany - my life lately.

But mostly...Zapped. As in, that is how I feel.

I am not just physically tired (though I am that) I am emotionally exhausted. My brain hurts.

For now I'm going to chalk this up to the end of the school year - a season much like "the holidays" in which everyone tries to squeeze in one last...whatever...before school ends. It is the culmination of a lot of work from the teachers, and the kids, and the parents, and it is downright overwhelming. There's quite honestly too much to be done each day...

It is showing in the frayed edges of relationships around our home. I've lost my grip on my temper more than I wish. The child is struggling. We are struggling together.

So sorry to end the alphabet on a low note, but I know I'm not the only one.The cool thing is most endings are followed by new beginnings. Z is for zapped and A is for Anticipating.. So hang in there, to all of my fellow zappees.

To see more zany and Z posts, click here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Digest 44...

...which I'm writing on Wednesday. Yeah...tough week. Actually I played a lot last weekend and I'm kind of paying for it now. Anyway - here are the coolest, most inspirational, most informative, most heart-tugging posts that I've found in my Internet roving over the last few weeks. Please enjoy and be sure to tell them you found them through The Simple Life.

1) This piece on waves from kidz pretty much sums up where I've been for the last four years or so. I'm learning to find treasures amid the surf.

2) As usual, Varda at Squashed Bologna nails it again with her piece about words. Varda is responding to the story about the father who planted a microphone on his son to find out what was happening to him during school. He discovered that his son's instructional staff were being verbally abusive to the children in his special needs classroom - children who often do not have the verbal abilities to tell their parents that something very wrong is happening. It's every special needs parent's worst nightmare. Yes, words are powerful.

3) I love reading Laura Shumaker's blog. Her book A Regular Guy was particularly meaningful to me because we live in the same area and I could relate to so much of her story from her son's early days. I also love reading about how Matthew is doing now as an adult with autism. On the one hand it's hard to hear that he is still struggling. On the other hand it's kind of encouraging to know that this is a long process and it's okay that we haven't figured everything out already.

4) Autism & Oughtisms post about words and rhetoric is also important, and kind of what I was trying to say here, but as usual said with more precision by A&O.

5) There have been a lot of mommy wars out there lately: tiger moms, working moms, stay at home moms, attachment parenting moms, blah blah blah. Katy at Bird on the Street says she is "Just a Mom" and that's plenty. I agree.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review - Bedtime for Little Bears!

Do you know anyone who doesn't think bedtime is for them? When my kids resist bedtime I always think it's kind of ironic, because these days I would LOVE to go to bed when they do and sleep as much as they do. They don't know how good they've got it! Bedtime for Little Bears by David Bedford is our latest "free from the public library" treasure.

Mama Bear has help for all of us. Little Bear doesn't want to sleep either, but Mama knows best. She takes him for a little walk "to see who else is going to bed." Between the dimming lights and the whispering owl feathers little bear doesn't stand a chance. Mama Bear patiently leads Little Bear around to visit the snow hares (where he takes a bath and watches the stars come out) the arctic foxes (where he declares that he does like a good snuggle) and the orcas (lullabies anyone?) At last they circle back to their warm den, and by the time Mama Bear bestows a good night kiss, Little Bear is fast asleep.

I can't guarantee the sleepy time powers of this book with your children, but I can tell you that it takes my rambunctious little ones down a notch or two. If nothing else it reminds me that patience and some creativity will get us through our routine more effectively than nagging and complaining. Mama Bear is such a good example of co-regulation.

I can also tell you that you will love the artwork in this book. Caroline Pedler has captured the elegance of all of the animals, and the stark but beautiful surroundings of the arctic. The colors of the sky are particularly stunning. My favorite scene is the aurora borealis, which I've never seen in person, but love to see in art and photos.

Check it out. I think you'll agree that this book makes a great addition to your bedtime story library.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dealing with Anxiety (Yours)

I have struggled off and on with anxiety for most of my adult life. I worried a lot as a kid, too, but my supportive and loving Christian parents helped keep it in check. When I left home to attend college the things and people I had relied on to stay strong were removed and I felt quite alone in facing my fears. There were days that I would come home from class and lay on my bed completely paralyzed by fear. I couldn't even put my finger on what exactly I was afraid of most of the time. It was hard, but I learned a lot about myself and my faith in the process. I still probably worry more than I should. When my kids get sick I tend to think it might be the worst scenario (like vicarious hypochondria?) but over the years I've learned a lot of tools that help me keep an even keel.

Keep good company - When my anxiety first flared it was so overwhelming that I didn't want to be around people, but I soon learned that being around good friends helped me feel stronger. It was really important to be around the right people, though. Some people caused more anxiety than they cured. Others meant well, but their words sometimes left me feeling guilty for feeling the way I did, or even that things might get worse rather than better. There were a few good souls who might say very little, but just by being with me would help me calm down.

Fill your mind with scripture - There are a lot of great verses that help us turn our worries over to the Lord. Meditate on these. Memorize them. When your chest gets tight repeat them until you feel God's peace wash over you. I've listed a few verses below, but a good Study Bible (or a judicious Google search) will turn up many more that you may find helpful.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
  • Psalm 37:3-6 (NIV) Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
  • Proverbs 18:10 (NIV) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Pour out your heart in prayer - I always found journaling and writing out my prayers to be the most useful way to get my thoughts, fears, and worries in order. Simply naming the monster was really helpful. My kids reminded me of this the other day when they asked me before bedtime what color monsters are. I asked them what color they thought they were, and they said brown, and were promptly ready for bed. There's no way to be sure, but I think if I had not answered their question, or if I had dismissed their worry, or even planted my own monster's color in their head the conversation could have led to a protracted discussion, and maybe even nightmares. By letting them name the color I gave them control over the monster. When you can name your monsters at the throne of God, He will give you the strength you need to face them head on.

Find a healthy outlet - In college I started making digital art on one of my friend's computers. Pre-twins I was exercising three times a week. Now, I write. Find something that helps you feel productive, energized, and hopeful. It is hard for worry and hope to exist in the same mind. Do some art, take a walk, bake, find a service project, knit. Whatever you do, make sure it helps you feel better.

Get help - There are times when anxiety goes from being an emotional problem to being a medical problem. Right after my husband and I were married my anxiety was so deep that I couldn't function well. Doing the laundry was overwhelming, and I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. I knew I couldn't go on like this, so first I made an appointment with my doctor. He ordered a bunch of tests to rule out physical causes, and eventually prescribed anti-anxiety medication. I took them to give myself the mental space I needed to figure out what was triggering the anxiety so that I could overcome it. My next step was to find a Biblical counselor - she helped me get to the spiritual roots of what was causing my anxiety (in my case there were lots of people that I was harboring resentment toward, 20 years worth of bitterness, ouch). The habits I learned in my counseling helped me improve my thought life and gradually I was able to wean myself off of the medication. I know for other people anxiety is an on-going medical challenge and medication is necessary for them to function every day. I believe God gave us medicine, and that we should use it wisely to help us do what we need to do. Don't put off getting professional help if you're in over your head. The sooner you start the sooner you can begin to truly enjoy life again.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jesus' Storybook

My children love a good story. We read stories every night, and it is one of the incentives for getting through the not so fun parts of bedtime. They each get to pick a book. They often race to see who will get to pick first. We restock often from the library, but they love to read their favorites over and over again. I was pondering this a few weeks back and decided that I need to make a special effort to introduce them to some of the greatest stories ever told, by the greatest Storyteller.

Many of the examples of Jesus' teaching that we find in the New Testament are in the form of stories called parables. Jesus used real life, common to His culture and time period experiences to explain eternal truths. I'm starting to find each of these stories and learn more about who was listening, where they were, and what Jesus said about each story. The stories might require some explanation to a modern day western culture individual, but the Truth will still apply. I am excited to look at these with my kids, so I thought I would share them with you, too.

The first recorded parable told by Jesus happens at the end of what we call the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was teaching His disciples at a place called the Mount of Olives, and a crowd of people gathered around to hear what He had to say. Space does not permit a full recap of the whole sermon here, but it is the essence of Jesus' teaching on how His disciples should live their lives. Quintessential verses that are widely known and frequently quoted even in secular society come from these passages:
  • Blessed are the meek
  • Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No,' 'No'
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing
  • The Lord's (Model) Prayer - "Our Father..."
  • Casting pearls before swine
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (The Golden Rule)...
...just to name a few. See Matthew 5:1-7:29 to read the full text. Much of what Jesus had to say was radically different from the religious leaders of that day. In that context, Jesus closes with a sermon illustration, the parable of the wise and foolish builders:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
One builder chooses a solid foundation and the other chooses convenience, but they both have a choice. Neither structure is immune to trouble - they both get wracked by what sounds like the storm of the century. One structure comes through unscathed and the other is destroyed. The analogy Jesus draws for us is to those who hear His teaching and make their choice of what to do with it. Those who choose to obey are like the wise builder who chose to dig down to the bedrock to tie in his foundation. The obedient will experience trouble, but will come through with their integrity. Those who choose not to obey are like the corner-cutting contractor who settles for a foundation on sandstone. When trouble comes they will not stand.

It is clear from this that Jesus expects us to take all of those radical ideas that He taught and put them into practice. This is wisdom according to Jesus' Storybook.

Matthew 7:21-29, Luke 6:46-49, Mark 1:22

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trisomy 18

I'm continuing my series on Trisomy disorders. You can read the overview post here. Briefly, trisomy occurs when at conception an extra copy of one chromosome is transferred from the parents to their offspring. There are also forms of mosaic trisomy which occur during cell division, resulting in some cells having an extra chromosome and some not. Our chromosomes usually occur as pairs and are numbered from the largest chromosome (with the most genetic material) to the smallest, and Trisomy 18 refers to an extra copy of chromosome 18. Trisomy 18 has been in the news a bit more often recently because the former Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum's daughter, Bella, has this disorder. She is three years old.

Trisomy 18 (also known as Edwards Syndrome) is the second most common form of trisomy, and occurs in 1 in every 3,000 live births. Because of the physical complications associated with Trisomy 18, many affected babies die before or shortly after birth.Affected males have a higher mortality rate than females. Most children (90%) die before the age of two months. However, some (mostly females) can live into their twenties and beyond, though they require assistance with daily living.

Trisomy 18 can be diagnosed prenatally. There are two levels of testing. The AFP or triple screen is a blood test that indicates statistical risk of Trisomy 18 (or other disorders) being present in a developing baby. This is not a specific diagnosis, but a "screening" test that may suggest further tests are advisable. Only about 11% of those with a "high risk" AFP result will go on to a confirmed diagnosis. Ultrasound is another method for screening. It may indicate physical differences in the baby, but the cause of those differences would be indeterminate. CVS (samples the structures that connect the pregnancy sac to the uterus) and amniocentesis (samples the amniotic fluid surrounding the developing baby) examine genetic material and give a more definitive diagnosis. There is a risk of miscarriage from these procedures. Following pre-natal diagnosis it's important to discuss the results with a genetic counselor who can explain what the results mean. I think it's also important to find resources and parents who have already lived with this disorder and know what you may be feeling and experiencing.

Each individual with Trisomy 18 may have a different combination of medical and developmental challenges. As with other forms of trisomy, in addition to the full Edwards Syndrome there is Partial Trisomy 18 (where only a portion of the chromosome has an extra copy) and Mosaic Trisomy 18 (where not all of the cells contain the extra copy) but these forms are less common, and each has similar potential challenges, including:
  • Heart defects - a hole between the upper or lower chambers, or narrow aorta.
  • Kidney problems
  • A portion of the intestinal tract may be outside the stomach
  • The esophagus may not connect to the stomach
  • Clenched hands
  • Pocket of fluid on the brain
  • Rocker bottom feet
  • Delayed growth
  • Severe developmental delays
  • Umbilical or inguinal hernia
Some of these medical challenges can be corrected with surgery, others may cause long-term issues such as congestive heart failure, and susceptibility to pneumonia.

For more information:
     Visit Susan's blog (, where she shares her story of caring for her 3 year old daughter who has Trisomy 18. Susan also moderates a facebook group for families of Trisomy 18. (see comments below)
     Visit the Trisomy 18 Foundation here.
      Read stories from parents and family here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


A lot of people are looking for it. Evidently being a mom doesn't qualify (at least in some people's lexicon.) A few people are addicted to it, but a lot of people wish they didn't have to do it.

I have kind of an interesting perspective on work. I have tried to juggle work and being a mom in just about every combination known to woman. There are pros and cons to each situation, and I still haven't figured it out by any stretch.

I was a full-time mom when the child was a newborn until she was 8 months old. Then my maternity leave ended and I "went back to work." She was a pretty demanding baby, a function of what we now understand as her sensory disorganization and oral motor challenges. Honestly I was pretty overwhelmed with her care, and just starting to hit my stride when I resumed my teaching position. I'm very glad I had that time with her, but since I had expected to return to work I didn't really allow myself to settle into being a mom.

When I returned to my job my husband and I had a strategy to keep us both working and to keep the child out of daycare. It worked for a while, but we were stretched thin, and we knew it early on. It didn't make sense for me to keep working and essentially hand over my paycheck to someone else so they could be with our daughter. So I finished out the academic year and returned to full time momming.

It took a while for me to settle into my role as a stay at home mom. I wasn't bored (too busy for that...) but I did miss the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a project or knowing that you've truly been helpful to someone. Somehow folding the laundry didn't quite cut it. I still enjoyed the new freedom, though, and explored some new hobbies. Just when I was starting to get in step again, the twins arrived on the scene, and the child's issues came front and center. Suddenly we were stretched again physically and emotionally. The economy shifted, and now here we are...

It became clear that I needed to start working again, this time from home and in partnership with my husband to boost our income a bit. I have to admit there is a piece of me that is loving the feeling of professionalism, and problem-solving, but it may be the worst of both worlds. I am distracted from my kids who still need a lot of supervision and training, I'm limited "at work" by what my kids need, and I'm still seen as an "at home mom" who has so much free time on her hands to...

The point is, work is important. It is important not only as a means of support for our families, but as a fulfillment of a basic human need. Adam and Eve worked in the Garden of Eden even before that whole apple incident. Their work was satisfying and fruitful without the drudgery that stifles us today. We were made to work. In whatever way you work - in or out of your home - it's important to understand that you're striving to do what you were made to do, but in a world that is waiting to be restored. It won't ever be quite perfect.

Jenny Matlock
Waxing eloquent on the Wonderful letter W. Click here to see the other works of art...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Digest 43

Time to share the best of the things I've found while floating through cyber-space the last few weeks. I hope you'll visit and enjoy the links below and let them know you found them through The Simple Life:

1) One of my best new finds is Just a Lil Blog by Jim. It is great to get a dad's perspective on special needs parenting. His post People, Not Data really resonated with me and added to what was already brewing when I decided to write my own post "Making it Good" over at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

2) Varda at The Squashed Bologna always has something to speak to me - several recent posts nailed me actually - but this one, which was a rerun from Hopeful Parents is one of my favorites. We need to start planning for the future of all of these young people now identified with autism or related disorders. The world is going to have to change big time!

3) I LOVED this take on Trisomy 21 by Tammy at Praying for Parker. So many of these "disorders" are naturally occurring conditions that, while challenging, have always been a part of the human condition.When will we accept this?

4) And, while we're on the subject of Down Syndrome, please listen to the testimony of this young man who reminds us that even though we're all different, we're all the same. We all need God. Hear how God used him to reach out to special needs children and their parents and teachers.

5) No matter what you're facing this week, it's good to remember that we each meet the future at the rate of 60 minutes per hour. Some things (the tedium of laundry and dishes) we wish could go by faster, but others, like the wonder of a child exploring the world around them we should stop and enjoy a little more. Tsh Oxenreider shared these thoughts at (In)Courage.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review - Being Me

Being Me picture book about differences
Being Me is another great public library find. I am not sure which child decided that we needed to bring this little gem home, but I'm glad it ended up in our library pile. At first I thought it was just a cute book about various personality traits of this spunky little girl with poof ball hair, which it is, but it is more. This is a little girl that almost any child can relate to. She likes dressing up, painting, doing cartwheels, and eating chocolate chip cookies. She has to do chores. When she's not at school she spends time with her baby sister and her parents. She seems like the kind of girl you would want for a friend, and she is.

The difference is so subtle, that I almost didn't catch it the first time we read the book. Stated matter-of-factly among all of the other attributes, the little girl informs us that she can't hear. In fact, it seems almost like a benefit as the page where she proclaims this bit of news is one of those "so much noise you're head will split" kind of pictures. Oh, the picture itself is quiet, but what it depicts is a blaring siren, a barking dog, a wailing baby sister and a jet plane soaring overhead. The parents are clearly out of sorts with all of the noise around them (maybe especially the baby) but the little girl is just as happy as can be.

She goes on to explain that she talks with her hands - a concept my children are familiar with thanks to Signing Time. These two differences are tied up with a neat conclusion that we are all different, even though there are a lot of things we have in common, too. Differences are celebrated - I love you, you love me. That's it. Short, sweet, simple. Perfect.

This is exactly the sort of thing we've been talking about a lot at our house recently. Helping the child understand how she is different from her peers has been an on-going conversation. I know it is sticking because she keeps asking me questions about autism. Helping her understand that her differences are just a part of her and not something to be ashamed of is important to me. She is loved, and while the things that make us the same help us to get along and get things done, differences are important, too.

Some features that I have grown to love about this book are the illustrations, which pack a lot of meaning into the simple prose. To me the characters are all fairly ambiguous ethnically, which adds to the universal appeal of the children in the story. The text is simple enough that my four-year-olds have enjoyed reading the story again and again. Hopefully we can fit in a few more readings before we take it back to the library.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reprise - Timer Tools

We are feeling the sandwich squeeze for the next couple of weeks as we are taking on my mother-in-law's care to give my sister-in-law a little break, and hopefully enjoy Easter with Grandma. To make things a bit easier I am reposting this oldie but goodie - originally posted April 2010. I started using timers with the child, and now I find I use them for myself almost as much as I use them for frazzled brain needs something to remind me that I was just about to do something. My daughter has also taken on setting her own timers - for when to do homework, how long to use her mouthwash, when I've told her she can watch a show. It is a great skill to learn. Timers are just wonderful...

Many children, but especially those with special needs, struggle with transitioning from one activity to another. One very powerful tool to helping a child with special needs navigate their day is the use of a visual schedule, but just knowing the order of events to expect may not be enough. How much "time" can be alotted for each activity may also need support tools. For children with special needs a portion of the struggle can be understood as a poor concept of time. How much time to do I have to play? When do I need to be ready to go to school? What time does the party start? When will my friend come to play? All of these questions and more may be hard to conceptualize, vocalize, or comprehend the answer to.

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite time keeping tools:
(pictured above, left to right, top to bottom)

The digital clock - ideally a child will also learn to use an analog clock at some time, but when a child has learned numbers up to 59 a digital clock can be a much more accessible tool. We use the digital clock in our car to talk about what time we need to be somewhere, and what time it is are we running late and needing to hurry, or do we have plenty of time and can relax.

The Time Timer (TM) - available in many teaching supply stores, the Time Timer also comes in a smaller more portable version, and is an excellent tool for children who are extremely visual. "How much time do I have to play?", "We have 30 minutes before we need to get in the car. Would you like to see how much time that is?" After a lot of use the child knows a little red is a little time, etc. There is also an audible (but friendly!) beep when the timer reaches zero. Our favorite use for the Time Timer is to set a kind but firm limit on "snuggle time" in the morning before time to get dressed. Because we always use it for this function we need no verbal reminders of what it means when the timer beeps.

The sand timer - also available in many teaching supply stores, and in various lengths of time. We have a one minute timer and a two minute timer. Thankfully we don't use them too much any more. They were primarily used for "time outs". Our time outs are used to reinforce our house rules and as an opportunity to calm down. Using the sand timer can be beneficial because watching the sand flow from one side of the vessel to the other is mesmerizing and has a calming effect. Hooray!

The portable timer - excellent for trips to the park ("We need to leave in 5 minutes...I'm setting my timer"), events in the back yard, or anytime that we're moving around the house a lot. It can also be used when giving the child a choice (and a little control) over which timer they want to use. "You can play on the computer for five more minutes...would you like to use the red timer (Time Timer), the white timer (portable), or...

The kitchen timer - ours beeps until you turn it off, so it is harder to ignore and claim that it didn't run out yet. It's only downfall is that it is rather fixed in place, so it requires some back and forth if you are elsewhere in the house.

I think as our world becomes more hectic, more technological, and more complicated, everyone seems to struggle with time management. There's a whole arsenal of tools to help our kids begin early to learn skills to manage their time, and bring some measure of peace to the flow of our days.

Special thanks to two wonderful people, Clarissa Montanaro and Robin Hauge, who turned me on to the power of using timers with children with special needs. Please contact them at clarissamontanaro-AT-gmail-DOT-com for more information.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrapping up Proverbs 31

After over a year of slowly delving into the character of the Proverbs 31 woman, I am almost sad to bid farewell to this daunting friend. I pray the lessons I have learned from her will truly become a part of my character, and that God will bring her to mind whenever I need it...One last time read with me about who this woman is [linked to and yet separable from all that she does...]
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet...She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." (Proverbs 31:10-21; 25-29 NIV)
First I think it is important to recall, briefly, all that this woman is. She is...

  • Noble - She has an internal force of strength and virtue, from an external source.
  • Precious - She is deemed more valuable than rubies (the rarest of gems) by her husband.
  • Eager - She sets about her work with a feeling of great desire, pleasure, or expectancy.
  • Vigorous - She takes care of her own physical needs so she can be strong for her tasks.
  • Profitable - She earns income, but also has a spiritual profit of wisdom.
  • Prepared  - Her lamp doesn't go out, so she is ready for anything.
  • Giving - She takes care of the needy in some way.
  • Confident - Because she is prepared, she does not fear for her family.
  • Dignified - Her character is always evident.
  • Laughing -  She faces the future without worry and with humor.
  • Wise - She chooses her words and her actions carefully.
  • Kind - Her words follow the law of kindness.
Second I wanted to highlight the source and the results of her character.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." {Proverbs 31:30-31, NIV)
The source of all of these qualities is her accurate view of God. In verse 30 this is referred to as 'fearing the LORD.' This fear is not the stark terror kind of fear we usually think of, but an overwhelming awe and worship of God. It is recognizing who He is (perfect, holy, loving, powerful, personal) and that I have no right to be in His presence, yet here I am, and so I must worship. With this attitude toward God, and a desire to please Him, the character traits listed above will be a natural outcome.

The result of her character is "praise at the city gate." That doesn't mean much to us these days, but the city gate is where all the men of a city would go to conduct business, hold court, make deals, and brag. So her husband is going to go to the city gate and tell everyone what a wonderful woman she is. It's the equivalent of a modern day husband going on Facebook (or twitter or...) and telling everyone what a great wife he has. It's the warm feeling of a mate giving public acknowledgement that their partner is a true blessing to them. What a gift.

I hope this study has been encouraging to you, too. You can review earlier passages by clicking on the links in the first quote above. Leave me a comment below about which character trait you're working on at the moment. I think I'm working on eager and vigorous...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trisomy 16

Trisomy 16 occurs when an individual has three copies of chromosome 16 instead of two copies (one from each parent.) For a brief layman's review of how trisomy occurs you can check out my overview post here.

Like other trisomies, there is full trisomy 16 and mosaic trisomy 16. In full trisomy 16 all of the body's cells have an extra copy of chromosome 16. This form is not compatible with life and causes miscarriage It is the most common chromosomal cause of miscarriage in the first trimester. In the mosaic form the effects are less severe and can vary widely. Symptoms of mosaic trisomy 16 include slow growth before birth (intrauterine growth retardation, IUGR), delayed development, heart defects, speech delays, kidney defects, and reproductive disorders. There is also a partial trisomy 16 (16p+ or 16q+) where there is an extra arm of chromosome 16. Interestingly, one source (NIH) I looked at indicated that one form of duplication (16p11.2+) may give rise to an autism spectrum disorder and language delay.

Trisomy 16 disorders can be discovered prenatally. I say discovered because often the tests cannot completely determine the level of trisomy 16 that is present. Alpha Fetal Protein (AFP) screening, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis are all tests that can be performed, but each has its limitations and risks. It is important to discuss any test results with a genetic counselor. Amniocentesis is probably the most accurate diagnostic procedure. Ultrasounds can help determine whether or not any physical defects are present. Many of these can be corrected by surgery. It is sometimes possible that the trisomy is confined to placental tissues (which can lead to premature birth and/or hypertension in the mother). A pregnancy that continues beyond the first trimester would indicate mosaic trisomy at most.

I would strongly encourage you to read some stories from parents of children born with mosaic trisomy to learn more from their personal experiences. 

For more information please see the following links:

Thursday, March 22, 2012


...I am finding it somewhat elusive again. I've written about this before - receiving lots of advice that I couldn't quite follow and plenty of empathy from fellow rest seekers. Things have gotten a lot better than they were when I hit bottom. The dishes are (mostly) done, and so is the laundry. I've started tackling my closets one at a time. I am finding a lot of satisfaction in making progress on those particular pits of chaos. The rest of the house doesn't quite show how hard I've been working, but oh well.

It hit me the other day, however, when I could barely force myself out of bed to get started on the day, that I need to start making MY rest a priority. What made it obvious was all of the energy my children had that particular morning. They were running circles around me; quite happy and "productive" in their own way. I realized that we have always made it a point to get them enough sleep. Almost nothing gets in the way of getting them to bed on time. When we have a late night we arrange it so they can sleep later the next day, and I still INSIST on "nap time" for the twins even though they don't actually sleep every time...every once in a while they do which I interpret to mean that they still need it.
Resting via RaGardner4 on flickr

Meanwhile my own sleep seems to take a back seat to just about everything else. Housework I'm happy to put off (really!) but work, writing, food prep, facebook, and e-mail have all been known to keep me burning the midnight oil.

So one of the suggestions that I failed to enact last time I ranted about rest was - define a quitting time. I'm going to try this out for a week and see what happens. I'll try to report back and let you all know how it goes. If it's not done by midnight it will just have to wait...

Since I'm already past my deadline for tonight, I guess I'll close. And go get some rest. Night night...

This post is participating in the Jenny Matlock AlphabeThursday blogfest. Click the icon below to see other offerings inspired by the letter R.
Jenny Matlock

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Digest 42

I've been exploring the new social media space of Pinterest. I've been enjoying "pinning" things that I find all over the internet that might be useful at some time in the future - recipes to try, books to read, pillows to sew (someday). Sunday Digests are like my own more public Pinterest board. I find other blog articles, news pieces, stories and information that I think is interesting, helpful or inspirational and share it here with you. I hope you will enjoy these links as much as I have...

1) Lisa Leonard - jewelry designer, photographer, blogger, and special needs mom shares the story of her son's birth, and the amazing lesson from Psalm 139 that he teaches her. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Make sure to read the comments, too.

2) There have been several "What it's Like" posts lately from parents of children with special needs. Maybe there's something in the air. The first one I read was from a mom. She cited her inspiration which was an article written by a dad. I threw in my own three cents on 5 Minutes for Special Needs, and Tammy posted her thoughts at Praying for Parker. Truth is each parent child situation is unique...

3) And for an even more inside view, check out what the first day of school (college) is like for Lisa over at Reports from a Resident Alien. I love reading her posts because I feel like I'm peaking into the child's future (maybe)...

4) Lisa at Hopeful Parents shared about the challenge of filling a prescription for Ritalin for her son who has severe ADHD. Makes me wonder if government run health care is really such a good idea?? It reminded me of a play that was showing at our local theater. Distracted is the story of a mom struggling to help her son with ADHD. I did not get to see the play, but attended a free talk given by a local pediatrician after one of the shows. This program guide is filled with lots of interesting information about the play and ADHD.

I think that's it for this round of "pinning". Enjoy. When you visit these links please make sure to tell them you heard about them through The Simple Life.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Adding Some Fun to the Mundane

 It used to be my kids would be excited if I just made pancakes for breakfast. We have a tradition (started when my husband and I were just newlyweds) of having a "nicer" breakfast, usually on Saturdays. I guess I've made pancakes a little too often lately because the kids were getting a bit bored with them. "Pancakes, again?!?" I'm sure you've heard the refrain... Then I remembered these goodies taking up space in one of my kitchen drawers. I decided to see if adding some fun shapes into the mix would keep everyone a little happier. It worked...
 I have several different shapes. The farm animals (cow, pig, and sheep) were gifts from my dear sister-in-law. I don't recall where I got the heart and circle from. I may have purchased them back when we had more disposable income. Someday I think I'll get a few more shapes. (Maybe from a thrift shop or something...) but for now this selection was enough to keep the kids happy and excited. "I want a heart, I want a piggy." The only trick was keeping them from fighting over who was going to get what. Hearts seemed to be the most popular, so I made sure to make plenty of those.
 There are two tricks to using pancake forms. First, use cooking spray ON the form as well as on your skillet or griddle to keep the batter from sticking to the form as it cooks. Second, after the first side is cooked you use a hot pad to grab the handle of the form and gently pull it off (tapping on the griddle helps a bit) then use your spatula to flip the pancake. The flipping gets a little...exciting. Having a big spatula is essential to maintain the shape of the form on both sides. Usually at least one side looks good, so just present that one on top.
 This is one of those times that I almost regret my policy of not showing images of my kids on this site. How I wish I could show you their smiling faces as they devoured these fun pancake shapes. I'll have to settle for showing you their rapidly emptying plates. That empty spot at the table is mine. They were so eager to get started that they were eating before the last set of pancakes was done. They were, in fact, so voracious that I wasn't sure I had made enough batter. I waited until they were all sated before I finally sat down to eat myself, but...never fear...
There was plenty left for mama. Enough to try one of each of the topping options: "maple" syrup, apricot preserves, and strawberries with bananas. Somehow the circles were all left over...hmmm.

The idea of this post is to ask you to consider what has become humdrum in your home. What can you do to add some fun back in? I'd love to hear your ideas. Just click on comments below to add your ideas to the conversation...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blessed and Noble (Again)

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet...She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." (Proverbs 31:10-21; 25-29 NIV)

We are almost done with the Proverbs 31 Woman - that paragon of womanhood who baffles many of us with her long list of accomplishments. Lately my to do lists have been winning, so being told there is more yet for me to DO is not what I want to hear. Instead, I keep reminding myself that the real goal is to BE, to have a character that is pleasing and honoring to God. This penultimate study initiates the postscript to this woman's to do list. We've read her activities and now we get to see what other people think...

First we hear from her children, and they call her blessed. This word in the Hebrew is ashar - a primary root that means to be straight, level, right, and happy. It can also mean to go forward, to be honest, or to prosper. It is similar to the wording Jesus uses in The Beattitudes (Matthew 5). This praise is perhaps especially meaningful given its source. It's pretty easy under any culture and family for children to find fault with their parents. In their view we are too strict, too busy, or too [insert complaint here]. These children recognize and boast about their mom's happiness, honesty, and prosperity. It is my prayer that my children will have the same response someday. What a sweet reward that will be.

Her husband echoes the children, and adds his own commentary that her actions are noble. Remember noble? It's how we started off this study, and so we come full circle. This is the same Hebrew word (chayil) from verse10 that talked about her character. Here it describes her work. Chayil (khah'-yil) refers to a force (of means, men or other resources) producing virtue, valor, and strength. This woman possesses an internal force (from some resource) that causes her to bring forth virtue (goodness), valor (courage), and strength in all of her actions. What's amazing is that what started off as a force of character (being) has become a force of work (doing). So maybe by being what God desires we can also do what He desires.

Our next study will review all of the qualities of the Proverbs 31 Woman and see her end reward. Thanks for joining me in this journey. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Trisomy 13 - Patau Syndrome

I'm continuing my look at Trisomy disorders by profiling Patau Syndrome, Trisomy 13. Though discovered in 1657, the genetic cause was determined by Dr. Klaus Patau in 1960. As with all instances of trisomy, Patau Syndrome occurs when three copies of chromosome 13 are in some or all of an individual's cells. There are three forms of Trisomy 13:
  1. Partial trisomy involves the presence of part of an extra copy of chromosome 13 in the cells.
  2. Trisomy 13 mosaicism occurs when some of the cells have an extra chromosome 13.
  3. Trisomy 13 has a full extra copy of chromosome 13 in all of the cells.
In some rare cases the extra genetic material may translocate and attach to a different chromosome. Trisomy 13 is fairly uncommon, occurring in approximately 1 in 10,000-21,700 newborns. Due to the severity of genetic damage (remember the lower the number of the chromosome the more genetic information it contains) the condition sometimes results in miscarriage or stillbirth (around 8% of prenatal diagnoses). Further, 80% of babies born with Trisomy 13 will not survive beyond their first year. However, those who do survive birth and early infancy can live to adulthood. Children with partial or mosaic Patau have an even more hopeful outlook. Therefore it saddens me to know that up to 64% of babies diagnosed prenatally with Trisomy 13 are eliminated by elective abortion.

Each child with Trisomy 13 will have different needs depending on what symptoms are evident. Some common issues include:
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Close set eyes - may even fuse into one structure
  • Extra fingers or toes
  • Seizures
  • Limb abnormalities
  • Small head
  • Small lower jaw
  • Congenital heart defects - placement toward right side of chest, septal or ductal defects
  • Holoprosencephaly - the forebrain doesn't divide properly
Often these physical challenges are detected first by ultrasound. MRI or CT scans may also be used. Chromosome studies are used to specify the type (Patau) and sub-type (partial, mosaic, or full) of Trisomy.

Caring for an infant with Trisomy 13 often involves addressing breathing issues like apnea, feeding problems, heart failure, seizures, and challenges with seeing and hearing. It is essential for families to find support as they walk through caring for a child with Trisomy 13. One well-known organization to contact is SOFT. Another is Hope for Trisomy 13 and 18.

How fitting that March is Trisomy Awareness month!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Overlooking the Obvous [Or Obvious...]

On Tuesdays and Thursdays my dear husband works long hours away from home, and I cart the children around from one activity to another. It is perhaps unwise that these are also the days that the twins don't usually get a nap. In any case by the end of these days I am tired, and more than ready to turn on a show for the children and sneak off to my computer.

The other night this was not a good idea.

The child finally told me what the twins were up to. They had used some ketchup from dinner to try a little fingerpainting on the coffee table. Ahem.

I scolded them, but was more angry at myself. I should have known better.

I cleaned it all up, or so I thought, and hustled them off to bed to prevent further catastrophes. This was on Tuesday. Now it is Thursday night, and I'm finding it frustrating, and maybe a little funny, that I keep finding ketchup. Nearby the coffee table we have a leather ottoman and couch. Beige leather. Red ketchup. How could I miss it, right? Somehow I'm sure I'll find another spot somewhere. I think in my haste to "clean up the mess and be done with it" I overlooked some of the mess, even though it was obvious.

I have a tendency to do this with more significant spiritual matters, too. Things that I know are not a good idea. Events when I really should know better. Messes that I want cleared away and "dealt with." How wonderful to know that I have a Father who knows where every spot is. He has a way of drawing my attention to each issue, in its time, and saying, "Here, let's work on this one now."

Celebrating the letter O with Jenny Matlock and the Alphabe-Thursday crowd. Click here to see Other Opulent Offerings on the letter O.

Jenny Matlock

O was the first letter the child learned. It was natural progression from her obsession with balls, and all things circular and spherical. Funny to remember that...


Related Posts with Thumbnails