Tuesday, September 22, 2009

S is for Sun

"Jesus is the light of the world." 
These were Liberty's "words to remember" last week.  When I asked her what these words meant she answered, "You are walking in darkness.  Jesus comes and He asks "Do you want to be in darkness or in light? If you want to walk in the light, then follow me."  I thought this was a great 5-year-old interpretation of the verse.

We learned about the sun and how its light, heat, and energy make it possible for life on Earth and we compared the sun's attributes to Jesus' life-giving light.  It was very difficult to teach lessons about the sun and complete our science projects when it has rained for 3 weeks!  We did have a little sunshine on Sunday, so we seized the opportunity to make a sun dial.   Liberty letter for the week was S.  She has been writing her letters for about a year, so this week we really focused on good handwriting.  For some reason the letter S is difficult for her, so she practiced writing it everyday.

S mosaic

Sun Painting

We are still in the process of learning how to structure our learning time.  Liberty's concentration and attention span varies daily, but I have learned that she is able to tolerate about 60-90 minutes of instruction at a time.  This should be perfect since out curriculum is designed specially for that amount of time.  However, the first few lessons have been way too easy and I have had to make some adjustments to ensure we are getting the most out of our time together.  She is doing great.  Adjusting to specific instruction has been her biggest problem.  She wants to do things her own way instead of the right way.  In some cases this isn't a problem.  As long as the end result is the same it really doesn't matter.  However, in other situations it is important that she learn the correct procedure or correct order of things.  This is where we sometimes run into problems.  She is getting better though and beginning to realize that our school time is a structured learning time, not just play time.

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week

This week is Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week.  In the year and a half since our daughter died, I haven't been very outspoken about the disease or what is happening in the field as far as research goes.  Truthfully, its because I'm not all that interested.  I know that seems crazy, but the facts are the research in the field of genetics is making little to no progress despite what you may have heard or believe.  This doesn't mean that I don't believe in the research, especially if it is privately funded.  I'm just not interested in pushing the cause myself, even though Scott and I have a 25% chance of having a sick child each time we concieve.  All that being said, there are so many people affected by this disease and more being diagnosed every day.  The type of mito disease that Lilly had is very rare, but there are many other types that are more prevelant and affect many people--mostly children.  Like all horrible diseases there is no cure and no effective treatment options for most mitochondrial disorders.  Please take the time to pray this week for our family (especially Emory) and the rest of those around world who are dealing with this disease.

Mitochondrial Disease Fact Sheet (from www.umdf.org)

Mitochondria are often called the ‘cell’s powerhouse.’ They are specialized compartments within almost every cell. They are responsible for producing 90% of the energy needed by our body to sustain life. Mitochondria combine oxygen from the air we breathe with calories from food to produce energy.

Mitochondrial diseases result when there is a defect that reduces the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy. As the mitochondria fails to produce enough energy, the cell will not function properly and if this continues, cell death will eventually follow. Organ systems will begin to fail and the life of the individual is compromised, changed or ended. 

Imagine a major city with half its power plants shut down. At least, such conditions would produce a “brown out” with large sections of the city working far below optimum efficiency. Now imagine your body working with one-half of its energy-producing facilities shut down. The brain may be impaired, vision may be dim, muscles may twitch or may be too weak to allow your body to walk or write, your heart may be weakened, and you may not be able to eat and digest your food. This is precisely the situation people with mitochondrial disease find themselves.

Mitochondrial disease can affect any organ of the body and at any age. Symptoms are extremely diverse and often progressive. They include: strokes and seizures, muscle weakness, gastrointestinal disorders, swallowing difficulties, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, blindness and deafness and susceptibility to infections.

For most patients, there is a genetic mutation in either the mitochondrial DNA or the nuclear DNA. The mutation may have been inherited from the mother or from both parents, or it may represent a spontaneous mutation. For most patients with mitochondrial disease, the genetic mutation has not yet been identified. There are environmental factors, even certain medicines that may interfere with the mitochondria and result in symptoms.

Every 30 minutes a child is born who will develop a mitochondrial disease by age 10. At least 1 in 200 individuals in the general public have a mitochondrial DNA mutation that may lead to disease.  Mitochondrial disease is a relatively newly diagnosed disease – first recognized in an adult in the 1960s and in the 1980s for pediatric onset cases. It is greatly under diagnosed and the true prevalence is difficult to determine. Research has consistently shown that mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of many very common illnesses and chronic conditions of adulthood. These include: Alzheimer’s Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and even the aging process itself. Furthermore, autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis appear to have a mitochondria basis to illness.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm a little bit of a Christian

A few nights ago I put Liberty to bed in her own room, which we rarely do.  She still sleeps with us most of the time.  Since we don't make her sleep in her room very often, I never know how she is going to react on the nights we do.  Sometimes she goes right to sleep.  Sometimes she has a total meltdown.  Other times she just sings and talks to herself until she falls asleep.  On this particular night she seem fairly content.  I could hear her talking from down the hall.  Suddenly, I could her her yelling a question from her room.  I try to ignore this most of the time because its usually just her attempt to get me to come back into the room.  I went down the hall so I could hear the question to determine if it was worthy of an answer.  She was yelling "Mom, what is a Christian?"  She is so clever, of course this question could not go unanswered, so I went into her room.  Here is how the conversation went...

Liberty:  "Mom, what is a Christian?"
Me:  "A Christian is someone who loves Jesus with all his heart and follows His commandments."
Liberty:  "Well, I'm a little bit of a Christian."
Me:  "Do you love Jesus with all your heart?"
Liberty:  "A little--I was just talking to Him.  He gave me a hug."

Oh my sweet girl.  She may not completely understand what it means to be a Christian.  She probably doesn't even fully understand what it means to love and be loved completely by Jesus.  What she does know is that she can talk to her Jesus anytime she wants.  She has conversations with Him and He talks to her!  She hears His sweet voice in her head and she feels His arms around her!

As a mother, I constantly worry about how I am doing as a parent.  I wonder if I'm teaching her the right things and equipping her for a future where she has to make her own decisions and find her own way.  I struggle with the influences this world may have on her and if she will be strong enough to believe Truth and dismiss the lies.  But, when I hear her talk about Jesus as if He is just another one of her friends, I am so encouraged.  I'm not perfect.  I will never teach her everything she needs to know.  I will never be able to sheild her from all the storms or protect her heart at all times.  Where I fail--Jesus steps in to fill those gaps.  Fostering her love and relationship with her Savior is the most important investment I can make because even though I will fail her along the way--He never will!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Creation - Our first week of Kindergarten

Liberty and I had an amazing week as we started our journey together as teacher and student.  The first 10 days of our curriculum is designed to introduce all the letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1-7.  Since Liberty already knows all her letters and numbers, we have been able ease into our new schedule and only spend about an hour a day on her lessons.  This week we will kick it up a little and finish the intro unit and head on to our first real lesson.

The theme for this intoductory unit is "The Creation."  Each day we have read from the book of Genesis and studied how God created the world.  Part of the lesson included learning the first two verses to the hymn "This is my Father's World."  Admittedly, I don't recall ever having heard this hymn despite being in church most of my life.  Not to mention, I can't really sing at all.  So, instead of butchering what I was sure was a beautiful hymn, I headed to YouTube to find a decent version of the song.  There were some amazing videos to choose from.  The one Liberty and I have been listening too is embedded on the left.  Check it out if you get a chance.  It is SO good.

I wanted the first day of school to be really special for Liberty.  Scott and I decided to buy her a new pencil box filled with school supplies and give it to her on the first day.  One of Liberty's love languages is definitely getting gifts.  This gave us an opportunity to bless her and give her some special things that are reserved just for school time.  Her favorite item was a new pair of orange Fiskars with flames on the handles.
Liberty's new pencil box
Our school day starts at 11:30 a.m.  after we eat lunch.  We start off each day by putting the date on the calendar.  Liberty loves doing this.
After the calendar we go right into our lessons, which last week consisted of coloring numbers for each day of the creation and making a creation story book.  We will complete both of those projects this week and I will post pictures.
I knew adjusting my mindset for my Kindergarten expectations would be a little challenging in the first couple of weeks.  Even though we have been planning to homeschool for years, I have never actually done it.  The only way I know how to do school is sitting in a classroom with a teacher lecturing at the front, so I wasn't sure what it would look like when I sat down at the kitchen table with Liberty on our first day.  The first few days I felt a little worried that we had spent less than an hour a day on our lessons and that most of that time was spent coloring!  Then, by the end of the week I realized that no child in the public education system was learning about his/her Creator during the first week of school.  None of them learned the words to an amazing old hymn. And, none of them got to spend 8+ extra hours a day with their mommies and siblings.  We didn't spend a lot of time on traditional school activities and I didn't stand over Liberty and lecture, but by all our standards this was a great first week of Kindergarten!
Liberty's first day of school outfit

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guthrie Homecoming

Scott and I have been waiting for football season just so we could take Liberty to her first high school football game.  Last night was our Guthrie High School Homecoming.  Scott and I decided this would be a perfect game to take Liberty to.  And, of course, no girl is complete at homecoming without a mum.  Scott and I just couldn't resist.  Scott brought it home for her as a surprise and she absolutely loved it!  The game was a blast.  Other than the mum, Liberty thought the crowning of the homecoming queen and the giant pixie sticks were the best!
Mommy and Liberty
Daddy and Liberty
Liberty in the stands
Liberty's giant pixie stick
Emory enjoyed the game too!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

Since this was officially our last weekend before Liberty started school, we tried to make it extra special for her.  Although our schedule won't change much, I wanted her to feel the significance of the end of summer and the start of the school year.  I tried to think about the things that were the most special for me when I started school each year.  I decided my two favorite things were getting new school clothes and buying school supplies ( I still love school supplies!)  So, on Saturday we headed out to buy Liberty a new outfit for the first day of school.  She really wanted a new dress.  I tried to talk her into a really cute pair of jeans and a new shirt.  We didn't end up with either!  The store we went to didn't have a cute dress in her size and she refused to even consider buying jeans.  She ended up with this leopard print shirt with matching cordoroy pants and jacket.  Once she settled on this I decided to buy her a pair of shoes too.  The outfit turned out absolutely precious even though it was a little warm for September.  It did seem kind of wierd to get her all dressed up for the first day of school just to go and sit at our kitchen table, but she really liked the idea and again it helped stress the beginning of a new school year. Coming soon are details on her first week of school at our homeschool blog (http://www.thehaasschool.blogspot.com/). 
After shopping we headed to lunch at Liberty's favorite restaurant only to get there and find it closed down.  So, we settled for her second favorite, Chilis.  On Sunday night we took Liberty to the drive-in to see G-Force and on Monday my parents came in for a short visit.  Mom bought Liberty 3 big floor puzzles while we were shopping in Guthrie.  Each one will go with a different unit we are studying (sea creatures, dinosaurs, and wild animals).  I love puzzles!   We packed as much fun as we could into three days and were ready to start school on Tuesday.
Emory continues to grow faster and faster.  At two months old she has decided she needs to be swaddled to sleep at night.  I tried to swaddle her from the beginning, but when she was about 2 weeks old she refused to be wrapped up and would fight and cry.  Last week I noticed that she was spending a great deal of time at night being extremely fidgety and fussy.  After several nights of neither one of us getting much sleep, I decided to try swaddling again.  Instantly she was back to sleeping between 3-5 hours at a time.  That is the only big change recently.  She is still eating every 3 hours and is the happiest baby ever.  She loved her Nana and Papa coming to town to visit.  She enjoyed all the extra snuggling and attention :).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Liberty Grace

Now that I have a newborn who is constantly growing and changing, it is easy to forget that my big girl is growing and changing too.  So, I am going to make it a point to update about Liberty specifically on a more regular basis.

First of all, Liberty is ALL girl.  Just like the picture, she is most happy when she is dressed up, even when she is outside playing baseball (which is what she was doing in this pic).  She loves all girly things-dresses, shoes, makeup, and lots and lots of attention.  She is also prone to girly weaknesses like temper tantrums, crying spells, and all other emotional ups and downs that go along with being a princess.

One of my favorite things about Liberty is her personality.  She is extremely outgoing and ready to take on any new challenge.  She is definitely a social being and delights in making new friends.  She is a leader.  She takes charge no matter what situation she is in.  When introduced to a new situation, she may start off shy, but within in minutes she is fully engaged and in control.  Like any child, she loves to be praised and encouraged.  Likewise, Liberty is also an encourager.  No matter what you are doing or trying to accomplish, Liberty will be your number one fan.

Along with her outgoing personality, she is also extremely affectionate.  She loves to be cuddled, hugged, and kissed.  I love just snuggling up with her on the couch.  Liberty's rule is...if anyone in her immediate area is receiving hugs and kisses she must also be given hugs and kisses.  Unfortunately this rule has its drawbacks as well.  There is not a lot of mommy/daddy snuggling in this house because Liberty is right there in the middle soaking up as much love as she can get :).

She is also incredibly smart and funny.  I know every parent thinks so, but I can't help but believe that about Liberty as well.  She constantly amazes me with her intuitive questions and observations.  She is also interested in some of the craziest things.  Her current obsession is with the Presidents of the U.S.  She wants to know all about them.  I bought her a book that lists them all and one or two interesting tidbits about their term in office.  She loves me to sit down and read through it with her.  She also sorts money, not by the amount of the bill or coin, but by what president is on it.  George Washington is her favorite.  That's probably because we have more George Washingtons around here than anything else :)!  She is also very interested in the solar system and space in general.  I've been trying to divert her attention on this one because its the first unit we will study when she starts school next week.
Even though Liberty is absolutely amazing, she isn't perfect.  She is currently going through a very aggressive phase.  Not aggressive in the physical sense, but emotionally.  She is very prone to yelling and screaming these days and will let us know pretty quickly when things aren't going her way.  I am chalking this up to her age and all the changes we have recently experienced.  Nonetheless, we have had to crack down on the discipline and slowly but surely she is getting better.

Liberty in a nutshell...
1.  Her favorite foods are currently mozzarella sticks (preferably from Sonic) and BBQ.
2.  Her favorite movies are Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Transformers
3.  She hates bugs--any and every bug.
4.  She loves to sing and dance
5.  She love gymnastics and cheerleading, which is currently enrolled in.
6.  When she grows up she wants to be a Chef, Nurse, or a Builder like her Daddy.  Scott and I want her to be and Engineer :).
7.  She LOVES her baby sister.  She is the best big sister in the world!
8.  She loves to eat out at restaurants and is always disappointed when I cook.
9.  She is terrified of storms.  She plugs her ears and sings when the "weather news" comes on the tv or radio.
10.  She still sleeps with us.
11.  She is kind of small.  She weighs 37lbs and is 42 in tall.
12.  Her favorite colors are pink and purple.
13.  She would rather play inside than outside.
14.  Her favorite toys are her babies.
15.  She listens to classical music at night to fall asleep.
16.  She would rather watch one of her movies for the millionth time than watch anything else on tv.

She is so special.  I truly don't know what I would do without her.  She is my constant companion and tiniest best friend.  I love her so so much!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Scott Haas Construction

I am so unbelievably proud of my husband that I am going to use an entire post to brag about him :).  Two months after Scott was laid off from his job working for a commercial construction company, we decided to launch our own construction company.  Scott has always wanted to own his own business and being jobless seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.  Instantly, he was approached with an offer to build two small houses in Guthrie and Scott Haas Construction was born.

We decided to dedicate all our resources to the new company and downsize as much as possible.  We put our house on the market, and I have to mention again, it sold in 6 days!  We moved, in a hurry, to a small house in town.  Within the first week of being in town, Scott was introduced to a lady who is in charge of a revitalization project here in Guthrie.  For those who don't know, Guthrie is largely elderly and very impoverished.  The revitalization project is to help low-income familes buy new homes or remodel old homes by providing loans at very low interest rates.  This government money is available to Guthrie homeowners through a USDA grant for historical towns.  The lady in charge of the project immediately took a liking to Scott and he became the unofficial contractor for this non-profit organization facilatating the program.  Meaning, Scott bids all the jobs for the people who qualify for this program.  So, for the past month, he has been remodeling several of the homes here in town (new roofs, etc...)  Scott is loving it.  Not only is our business making money, but he is also helping primarily elderly people who have been taken advantage of in the past and turning their rundown homes into something they can be proud of.  People have been so excited about the renovations going on here that he is approached almost daily with opportunities for new business.

Last night, Scott was unexpectedly recognized at the City Council meeting and asked, by the Mayor, to speak about the project and how the people of Guthrie are responding.  Of Course Scott jumped at the opportunity to speak in public and told everyone there how successful the program is and what frenzy it is stirring up in our little town.  We both feel so blessed and so honored to be a part of all this, especially as our business is just getting started. 

It is so much fun to watch Scott get so excited about the projects he has going.  I can't wait for him to get home and tell me about the new contacts he made and about potential business.  He is already so well known and respected in this community.  I can't wait to see where he is this time next year!  I, of course, am having a blast designing and ordering stuff for the company (like the yard sign above).  Other than this, I prefer not to be involved :).

We couldn't be more excited about what God has in store for this company and this community.  So, if you need anything remodeled or if your looking into building a new home, I know the hottest new builder in town!