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I am happily married to an amazing military man who spent 9 years enlisted and is now an Officer in the US Army. We have two amazing boys who are not so little any more! They still infuse every moment of every day with creativity and energy, and make my life an adventure.  I was educated at home, and am now teaching our children - second generation homeschoolers! I try every day to become more like Jesus Christ, and to love like HE does. If you want you can try and catch me at bethylovesandy@yahoo.com

My Blog Title Verse

"For the Lord gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6 NKJV 
The Message translation puts it this way "God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding."

Verse of the day

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Volcanos, blocks, and lessons in vehicles

Even with all the medical drama of the last few weeks, life doesn't pause.
There are still groceries to buy, and meals to cook with those groceries. Children to dress every morning, and the laundry they create to wash when it piles up. Dishes to wash. Phone calls to make. And, oh yeah, school to teach.
We have been studying volcanos. Active and extinct. The difference between magma and lava. Craters and ash and the Ring of Fire. Both C and Z have been fascinated, and I myself have learned a thing or two. So on Tuesday, after my morning with the Neurologist, we decided to blow something up in the backyard. Isn't that what every stressful day needs?

First we painted a really cool volcano with another homeschool friend.
We had originally planned to go to homeschool PE class first, and I was going to have a run, so please excuse the ratty clothes.

Next we set a straw inside the volcano and made sure it lined up with the bottle that would hold our "explosive" mixture.

Finally we mixed our vinegar and baking soda and rushed to set it under the volcano before it bubbled out.

Rather then Boom, we got Crash!

Oh well.
We shook it up really well and made it squirt all over the back yard anyway. The main idea was learned, and it was really really fun.

Today we really didn't feel like doing too much book work. After just a few basics, we decided to learn through play.

Canaan got out the alphabet blocks and started spelling while he built. I quizzed him on some letter blends, then just let him use his imagination.

His building started with a solid foundation - "rocks". Next came a "wall". A "boy" sat upon the wall. He wanted to spell "up" next, but we couldn't find a "p". It must have been on the side of one of the other letters we had already used. He settled for "in". At the top he needed a word that was only one letter. He decided that "I" was the most fitting, since "I" built it.

Zion practiced some sorting (of course) and counting.

Notice, though, the detail of his sorting. Not just red, but shades of red. He cracks me up!

This photo is really out of focus, but for some reason I found it impossible to resist. A dump truck towing a sports car. Oh, the imagination of my baby.
Here it is a little clearer. For some reason, this is inspiring to me. That big truck with the slightly bent wheels, rolling on with the weight of another on it's back and the rough carpet beneath it. Not complaining. Not pausing. Just doing it's job.
I was teaching my kids letters and numbers and colors.
God was reminding me about persistence and consistency.
Every day is full of lessons.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An official diagnosis

I was at the Neurologist this morning, to talk over the results of my EEG.
It is strange really, how mixed my feelings are. I have wanted a diagnosis for quite some time now. Something official. Just to know what was causing these strange episodes. We have had our suspicions - but I wanted to KNOW.

So, now I do.

I have a form of Epilepsy, called Absence seizures. The strange thing is, it is very very rare to develop it as an adult. In fact, the doctor doesn't seem to think that I just now developed it. He thinks I have had it for years, just less intense, less noticeable.
It is usually a childhood disease. Many children outgrow it by the time they are adults, but not all.
I have been googling it whenever I could catch a free moment this afternoon and evening. There isn't much out there that is reader friendly. Most of it is written in doctor language.
Let me share a description of an "episode" with you.

"A patient stops for a moment whatever he or she is doing, very often turns pale, may drop what ever is in the hand. . . There may be a slight stoop forward, or a slight quivering of the eyelids. . . The attack usually lasts only a few seconds. The return of the consciousness may be sudden and the patient, after the momentary lapse, may be in just the same state as before the attack, may even continue a sentence or action which was commenced before it came on, and suspended during the occurrence.
Absence with clonic components. Fast eyelid flickering is probably the most common ictal clinical manifestation, and may occur during brief generalized discharges without discernible impairment of consciousness."

That is the technical description I found here. The eyelid flickering thing is def. one of my major signs. It makes me slightly dizzy.

I read in one of the papers that I perused that absence seizures can progress to full grande mal, if left untreated. I guess if I have had this for years, or even if just for a year, but with a doc who didn't believe it was a seizure, and continued to insist it was just an abnormal migraine, that is why I progressed to a full grande mal. However, now that I am proven to be having tiny little seizures continually, he has changed my meds around. With stronger, full dose medicine, I should not ever have a grande mal again.
I never posted the numbers, did I? During the 68 hours I wore the EEG I had 22 little mini seizures, and one "big" one. Not a grande mal, just a bigger absence one. This was while medicated. No wonder I was feeling so yucky last year when I wasn't on meds at all. I only felt about 5 of them. So the medicine is doing something. I did tell him how much I HATE topamax. He agree to up my dose of Lamactil, and in a while gradually reduce my topamax. Hopefully that will help my sanity.
Sorry this is such a boring post. I am still processing. It was nice to get an answer. But at the same time, it really just brought more questions. Why did I not notice it until I was 29 years old? Did I just not have it at all, or was it just really weak? What made it stronger? Will I have it forever, or outgrow it, like many children do? (How funny is that to think about me outgrowing something, at 30 years old?!) Did I do something to trigger this? The doctor said something about this being a genetic disease... do I need to worry about my children now? I already stress about passing along diabetes - Great! Another thing to feel responsible for. Also, if this is genetic, where did I get it from?
I wait. I pray. I continue to praise, in all things, at all times. As the last post said, march around Jericho, singing, and blowing that trumpet, even if you don't understand. That is my command, and I will trust and obey.
Questions always get answered - eventually.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Refiner's fire

I think I may have shared this before, but I read it again this week, and it struck me, again.
The language and examples may be old, but the truth behind it remains the same.

"I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument." Isaiah 41:15

"A bar of steel worth five dollar, when wrought into horseshoes, is worth ten dollars. If made into needles, it is worth three hundred and fifty dollars; if into penknife blades, it is worth third-two thousand dollars; if into springs for watches it is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What a drilling the poor bar must undergo to be worth this! But the more it is manipulated, the more it is hammered, and passed through the fire, and beaten and pounded and polished, the greater the value.
May this parable help us to be silent, still, and long-suffering. Those who suffer most are capable of yielding most: and it is through pain that God is getting the most out of us, for His glory and the blessing of others." Streams in the Desert

Sometimes we don't understand God's ways. This Sunday at church our pastor mentioned the story of the Israelites command to march around the city of Jericho, in the book of Joshua. Logically, marching around a city made no sense. They should have been planning a siege. Cutting off the water supply, starving them out. Settling in for a long and drawn out battle, while sharpening their spears and arrows. Instead, God had them march around the city, playing instruments and singing praise.
I can promise you that there were doubts. Questions. Skeptics.
But, and here is the important part, they did it. THEY DID IT.
They marched, and played their trumpets and sang praise while they marched.

So, we are marching too. Ours plans are not the same as HIS. Our timing is not the same as HIS. Even though it sometimes requires being hammered and passed through the fire in order to be the shape needed, our family will continue to march. One step at a time, singing as we go.
Please, sing with us. The harmony of others being hammered and passed through the fire, yet marching and singing too - that is the most beautiful song in the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for nail polish remover, which takes adhesive out of hair, and extra strong conditioner which repairs the hair after being soaked in "glue" and nail polish remover.
I am so very thankful for a fabulous husband who had patience to slowly pick clumps of glue out, bit by bit, and rinse, and comb, and condition.
I am thankful for sunshine, and spiderwebs that catch the sunshine in the backyard and shimmer like jewels.
I am thankful for sandboxes, and baseballs (and bats) and big tractors that dig in the dirt.
I am thankful for words, both written and spoken.
I am thankful for Facebook. I found an old friend this week, and I am excited to have made a connection with my past.
Most of all, I am thankful for the gift of life. Every morning I wake up, with breath within me, and a heart beating strong. I have been thinking about death a lot lately, and though I am eager to see my Savior, and will not be sorry to leave this sad body behind, I am so glad to have each new day here. I like life!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fog and Haze

I seem to walk around in a fog quite often. It has been more then a year now that these "episodes" as I call them have been going on. Truthfully, I can barely remember what the full force, unmedicated ones feel like. I have been drugged now for quite some time. I still feel them, persistently refusing to lay down and be quiet, instead popping up at the most random moments. As a place a bite to eat into my mouth. As I bend over to tuck the sheets in while making the bed. Rinsing the dishes. Shaving my legs. Suddenly, my brain is just somewhere else.
I can still hear people around me. The more drugs they put me on, the shorter and weaker these episodes get, and the more likely I am to be able to respond. But honestly, I feel like I GO somewhere else. Andy calls it my trip into the Matrix, and I guess that really is the best way to describe it. Usually I am transported back to a memory. Usually it is a real memory - sometimes it is from a book I have read, and not really something I have experienced. But, they are so random. Childhood. Teen years. Books that I barely even remember the plot line from. A few days ago I was asking Andy if he remembered the motel room we stayed in on our drive out to CA that was shaped weird, almost like a triangle. He said, "Yes, sort of. What about it." "Nothing," I replied, "I was just 'there' recently and wanted to see if you remembered it at all." One night. Not important, not eventful. Just a stop on our way to CA, eight years ago. Why was I "transported" there?
I have been thinking about going off the meds.
I am tired of being tired. Of being in a haze.
I got a letter from my grandmother yesterday reminding me of a task, and the deadline for it - she speaks of it as if I should know about it. I am absolutely clueless. I have probably been told. I was probably part of a discussion about it. Yet I have no memory. This happens to me a lot. You would think that my grandmother would be the one who is spacy, right? She would have an excuse... but, not a bit. She is as clear as a bell, and strong minded as ever.
I, however, seem to walk around in a bit of a haze.
I don't think it is the "episodes" that cause that. It is the drugs.

So, since the drugs don't actually get rid of the episodes, only dull them, and the drugs make me a walking zombie... perhaps the drugs aren't really worth it?
We'll see what kind of new information this latest study finds. Walking around for three days with probes stuck to my head better be worth it - because, and I try not to be a complainer, these things stinking HURT! I think I must be having some sort of reaction to the adhesive because my skin is killing me.
Any comments on meds? Better without them, despite what the doctors say? It is not like it is life threatening. I would never be tempted to give up my insulin - that I would die without. My pump had a clog in it not too long ago and my blood sugars shot up to 500 in less then 24 hours. So, I know that I would literally DIE without that medicine.
However, I don't feel that topamax and lamictal keep me alive. I am beginning to feel that all they do is make me less then alert.
Onto something lighter: The world from Zion's point of view.

Once again, pictures from our trip "up north". As most of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time know, Andy graduated from college while he was deployed in Afghanistan this last time. His professors were kind enough to let him finish his last two classes over the internet, since he only had a few weeks left, and his diploma came in the mail while he was gone.

His mom brought a graduation robe down and made him put it on so she could take pictures when he got home,

but we had never really had a celebration.
His mom took care of that!

Oh, the fabulous cake! Tirimasu is Andy's favorite dessert, so the cake was tirimasu flavored, but decaf to meet the needs of the weird hippie pair in the family (that would be Andy and I).

I let Zion have the camera for awhile, and he gave me a different view of the world. His angle of sight is slightly different, but I thought it was worth sharing. There are a few I took mixed in here, but most of these are Zion's.

Both my side of the family and Andy's hung out, and spend the afternoon just goofing off.

The kids did the limbo under a broom.

They enjoyed the cake quite thoroughly!
(as well as some leftover wedding cake, sitting next to it there)


Uncle Josh, Aunt Tara and Cousin Anistyn

And of course, like father...

like son.

Life is good, even if it is slightly hazy around the edges on occasion.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A shocking sight!

Tonight I would like to prove to you that I have no vanity at all.

Well, perhaps I have a little vanity. That is why it hurts to post this. But I have more humor then I have vanity, so here it is.
Note the arched looked of surprise in my eyebrows. That is not because Andy snapped my picture while I was unaware. No, that is because there is glue stuck in them, and they are being pulled upward. I am getting a "facelift" this week. A free, slightly painful, completely nonproductive one.

The first layer is circle "probes", glued directly to my head. The technician who put them on said they are a pain to get off, and that nail polish remover is what they have found works best. I am sure my hair is going to LOVE that.
The second layer is gauze, wrapped around and around, even under my chin.
Finally is the beautiful stocking cap. The tech was actually laughing as she tried to stuff the last of my hair up in it. I had commented several times about how big my hair was, but she had curly hair too, so didn't mind and just worked around it. But, as she tried to fit the top layer on she said, "Girl, you really do have big hair."
For those of you in my family, that line will be really, really familiar.
I almost choked with laughter.
But, tonight when I was getting the boys ready for bed, Zion looked at me with the adoration that only a three year old can possess and said, "Mommy, I like your new hat."
Since he can love my new hat, and me in it... I guess you all can see me in all my glory. Just try to ignore the bags under my eyes!
And, guess what - the ensemble even comes with a handy dandy fanny pack to hold the machine. Aren't I lucky?
As Andy pointed out, it could be worse. They could have asked me to shave my head for the procedure! Plus, if they can catch an "episode", one of these little mini seizures I have fairly often, on the machine, well, it will all be worth it. Identification will be a huge step in better treatment, and in knowing what exactly to ask God for when we ask for healing.

Change of subject...
Last night when we put the boys to bed they were wound up. I kept hearing them in there playing around but they were staying in their room, and the light was off, so I figured, no biggie. Would you light to see where Zion finally fell asleep?

Under the bed.

With just his head peeking out the top.
We were tempted to leave him there, but it was a little cool last night, and it seemed a good idea to drag him out and cover him up.
What a goofball!

Last but not least, I need a picture of Canaan too.
I know!
Last week for Columbus day we studied Spain. We talked a little about Columbus, and where he thought he was going (India) and where he ended up (a "new world" that hadn't been discovered by Europeans yet, or at least, not the ones Columbus and his pals knew).
Canaan made a beautiful Spanish style mosaic of a ship, in honor of Columbus' long sea voyage.

Life is full, and beautiful, every second.
I am praying for an "episode" (first time I have ever prayed to be sick!) during the next few days. For now, I am going to go pop some Advil, and curl up with a book. Who knew that probes and glue could weigh so much?! I am exhausted.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finally, a new picture

Mom and Dad are in The Netherlands, on their way to India for the annual mission conference of the ministry they work with. They were able to stop and see Pierre, who is helping to coordinate our adoption.

This picture is from August. Finally, an updated picture of our little girl. Pierre just couldn't figure out how to attach it. Luckily, my dad is a computer guy, so was able to do that for me.

The main update remains the same. Everything is working correctly in the process - it is just taking a long time. Paperwork, especially in a foreign country take a long time. It might go faster if we were working with an organization, but there are not any in America that work with Benin. It is a former French colony. France, and The Netherlands, other French speaking countries are more likely to have agencies that work in Benin.
So, basically, we wait, and hope, and keep a positive attitude. Keep praying.
In the meantime, I am thrilled to have a newer picture of my daughter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Did I do that?

You begin to worry that perhaps your OCD tendencies are a little stronger then you thought when you tell your three year old it is time to put away his train...

and he tells you that he needs to "stack them" first.

The "Mommy ones" and the "baby ones" (dividing by size).

Each in their own appointed place, with the actual trains coming last.
(since they can't be stacked...)

Jay-jay's bag sits on the top.

Yes, it has been known to happen that when you are cleaning up without him helping you might do that yourself...

But surely you haven't been rubbing off your psychotic obsessions on him that much already, right?

Oh dear!

I know that Andy will want to say that it is all my fault. I will admit that I am the one with a stronger inclination to sort neatly, and with minute detail.
However - This was not my idea.

I must admit I supported it wholeheartedly and stayed up until all hours of the night helping complete the project. But it was Andy's idea.

Lego's, sorted by color or purpose.

This was my baby - the tiny pieces.

And just for you who worry that our children are deprived, yes, we do let them play with the Lego's. Just not all at once.

Everything in manageable portions.

The people are a favorite. They are played with often.

I happen to like order in random things. Just don't look to closely at the kitchen floor, which doesn't get mopped nearly as often as it should. My silverware will be neatly sorted, and stacked by size... but there very well might be dust under the cabinet.
To each his own, right?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A belated birthday post

When we were up "north" for Josh's wedding last month we also celebrated my sister Kelsey's 24th birthday. I know it is a little late, but I wanted to share some pictures from then.

We had a family celebration before Em and Kevin left for Europe. I have just a few pictures from that night,

but my parents took the kids home with them, and the rest of us stayed and Kelsey and Travis' adorable little apartment until 3am, talking and laughing and goofing off.

I love hanging out with my family.

On Kelsey's actual birthday we went to an Atlanta Braves Game.

It was rain delayed

(Isn't that giant tarp cool, protecting the entire playing field?)

so we did some exploring at Turner Field.

The old bench from the dugout.

Some famous person's shirt that Andy was enthusiastic about.
(can you tell I don't know much about sports?)

We even goofed off in the kid's section, so we could bring home a picture for Canaan.
Aren't our matching rain poncho's lovely?
Silly, silly faces.

Of course, let's end with a bang - right?
And to top it off, the Braves won. It was a good night, even if we did have to sit in the rain for awhile!