Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss!

Born on March 2nd, Dr. Seuss had no idea what a celebrated man he would become.
Today as a homeschool group, we celebrated his life and his books! Our children dressed as their favorite character (Seuss or any other book/character)...Marched around the pond at the park, listened to me read "Oh The Thinks You Can Think!", had a few fun relay races, ate lunch and ate some cake! Isn't this the way we all wished we were schooled!
Anyway, here are some memories I would love to share with you!
The Dr. Seuss Cake....isn't this awesome. I must give credit...my friend Katie helped me design and ice this cake....really I had all the supplies, but wasn't brave enough to do it by myself. 6 hours of fun making this baby...we don't claim to be professionals...but there is that secret ingredient..."love for our children" in this cake and boy...by the looks on their faces...they could taste it!

I laugh because people always ask about the socialization of homeschooled children. Hmmm?

Ok...my son Brendan's favorite books this year have been Arthur Chapter Books, by Marc Brown. So Brendan is Arthur & Shane is Brendan's best buddy Buster Baxter! Don't worry Kyle gets to eat all the goodies!
I am done with all of my special events for homeschooling as we are winding down our year. Now its work work work!!! No...I'll go easy on them...don't worry!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do You Have A "Forty Fairy"?

Here is what was supposed to have happened this Saturday: My friend Rhonda and I make it a point to spend some quality time together every year. Even though we see each other at church, we both have crazy lives with our boys, ministry and "jobs". So the time we spend is truly quality and I look forward to it...believe me. Her husband is our Worship Pastor at our church and Rhonda and I just clicked from the very beginning when I first met her! Instant love! She has always been a source of encouragement to me when it comes to raising three boys! So the plan was for us to go walking this time...we usually do breakfast out somewhere, but I'm in the process of losing weight (20.2 lbs so far) and breakfast just isn't worth the "points" to go out to eat! A walk was much more productive in many ways!

I was excited! My husband was taking the boys to the park...I was going walking! This was the plan!

Well, I got there and I was totally in shock! If you read my blogs you must have read this one, so you already know that I'm having issues with turning 40. My husband and my friends surprised me with an amazing gathering of some of the most awesome people I know. They were all in one room..together..everyone I love! It was something. Forty something people...flashing cameras..giving me hugs and showering me with their love and friendship! I was in shock! How did my husband and my friend Carla pull this off...I am a very nosy person! It is difficult to surprise me!
That is not all...I apparently have a "Forty Fairy" who made me feel so wonderful about turning 40. Seriously, I laughed so hard...my friend Susan..."The Forty Fairy"...made the day by sharing with me that turning 40 is: Fun, Fantastic, Fabulous, Fragrant, Fresh, Flamboyant, and Flighty! She had us all in tears of laughter! Can I just say I LOVE THIS WOMAN!

She lavished me with all thing essential to turning 40...like prunes..symphony of flavor to the palette and fiber too!, Alligator Jerky..."Be Daring Be Bold!", Honey because life gets sweeter as the years go by. There was so much more! Just making 40 really seem like fun! What a blast!

So all of my friends, under one roof, celebrating me! My mind and heart are still overwhelmed with joy! I tried to make a humble speech as I was about to blow out my candles. Something like, what matters most in life is not the economy, or the fame or the money that we have...I don't have any of this, but what I do have are friends, and relationships with so many people that love me and I love them and that makes me rich! Rich in relationships/friendships...that is what helps get us by in life! I felt like Rockefeller on Saturday! My face hurt from smiling so much! My husband was so happy too.

So with all of these people behind me...cheering me on to my 40s...I am actually excited about Tuesday!

Here are some of the pictures of my fun day!

Oh...I got a beach cruiser from my hubby! Woohoo! I got home that night and went straight outside to ride my bike...just like a little kid! What a blast! Forty is Fabulous!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Erin Go Bragh!

Brendan Callahan, Kyle William, Shane Patrick

Ireland Forever! No I'm not Irish..but my husband and my children are! So, we celebrate!

This is the first year we didn't have Corned Beef and Cabbage...I won't tell you what I made (it wasn't Irish at all...but it was low fat and low calorie...LOL!) I usually make Mike Irish Soda Bread...yea...poor guy...I didn't make that either. Instead Shane and I made the infamous "Rainbow Cake", low sugar, low fat...fun...but not so yummy! My kids loved it that is all that mattered to me!
Here is a recap of our St. Patrick's Day!

You can't tell by this picture, but we started our day off with green milk. YUM!

Shane Patrick Engel...serious chef!

The cake fell apart coming out of the pans...so there was no way to make this a double tiered cake...but hey two cakes are better than one right? HA! Look a science experiment!

It was a cool affect! The whole rainbow thing!

We listened to some Irish music all day...cranked up the volume when Daddy came home from work. We invited Meme for our "non Irish, low fat" dinner and interesting dessert. Went to bed learning about the real St. Patrick. Ahhh...again...fun...had by all!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The 10-40 Window

So I have to brag on Sonlight again. It is changing the hearts of my children every day. On St. Patrick's Day it is tradition that all get new shirts. (This tradition started when I was dating Mike 20 years ago.) As I handed Brendan his shirt this morning he felt the need to tell me this:

"Mom you know what kind of shirts I like? The kind that say words on them. I want to make a shirt that says "I want to be a medical missionary" because that is what I want to be. Then I can make more shirts that say, "I want to be a doctor, I want to be a salesperson"...because everybody wants to be something someday. Then when I get all the money for selling the shirts, you know what I will do with that money...I will buy Bibles for the people who don't have Bibles in their own language and any money I have left over I will give to those people so they can see Jesus, like me."

Once a week we pray for a different country that does not have a Bible in their own language.

It comes from the book above which we use as a part of our curriculum with Sonlight. Brendan will usually read the exerpt and Shane will pray. We then go to our map and mark another place in the "10-40" window that we know we have covered in our prayers. I love that my children are becoming sensitive to the needs not only around us, but all over the world.

Next week the plan is as we begin our school day I am going to work on having my children understand the physical hunger that accompanies the spiritual hunger that many of these same countries experience.

I copied what you about to see from my friend's blog ...I'm pretty sure she copied it from somewhere else whom she gives credit too, but I think the lesson will be a good one for my children. I will maee each child a cup of rice and one for myself as well. When we get hungry, we will go to our bowl of rice and have little. I want to see their reactions...hear what they have to say when their little tummies are growling. We have so much to be thankful for...including the fact that we have a plethora of cereal choices for breakfast, the same choices for lunch and amazing meats and vegetables and starches for dinner, forget about the snacks that run our grocery bill up the roof! Thank you Lord for our bountiful supply, please show us what we can do to help those who are in need.

Here is where the idea came from:

On Wednesday March 11, 2009 Compassion International will be spreading the word through radio, TV, and blogs about the Global Food Crisis that is happening right now all over the world. This will be your chance to make a difference and join the fight against the global food crisis.

A friend of mine, Brock Gill, has a great challenge for all of us called The Rice Challenge. Here’s a little bit from his challenge…on Wednesday, I want you to take a cup of rice and live on that for a day. Call it a fast if you want. I will put it this way, if you can live on a cup of rice for the day then you will have a glimpse of what it is like to walk in their shoes. you will gain some serious perspective.

You will realize how blessed you actually are. The money that you would have spent on food for the day can now be donated to feed people around the world.

Here’s a few stats just in case you need a little convincing.

One person in seven goes to bed hungry every day.

One-third of the world’s population is undernourished.

There are 25,000 starvation-related deaths each day.

Each night more than 300 million children go to bed hungry.

Every day, over 12,000 children (one every 7 seconds) die from hunger-related causes.

Approximately 146 million or 27 percent of children under age 5 in developing countries are underweight.

Nearly 17 percent of babies in developing countries are born with a low birth weight compared with only 7 percent of babies in industrialized countries.

More than 4.4 million children die from malnutrition each year.

Worldwide, 161 million preschool children suffer chronic malnutrition.Sources: www.one.org, www.bread.org, www.unicef.org, www.who.int, www.unep.org

Monday, March 16, 2009

Forty...Yup That's Me!

This has been an emotional month for me. I think partially it is because I am turning....40...this month. That is just as hard to type as it is to say. People think I'm silly for getting worked up about 40...what is the big deal with 40? Well, I've never had a problem with any other age...why 40?

That little girl up there is me. If the picture was developed in the month and year it was taken, I would be about 4 years old...almost 5. I can't say that I miss my childhood, that is not why I'm down about turning 40. Maybe it is because I always thought 40 was old...I understand now that age is relative....40 is in fact young...it is the new 30 I believe. Perhaps I feel like such an old Mommy of young children. Seriously, I know this was God's plan...because I tried for all of my 20s and most of my 30s to get pregnant. Hmmm? Still, maybe it might be that I don't feel that I'm mature enough to be 40. I mean...I have some wonderful friends who are in their 20s and yet, I have some amazing friends who are in their 70s....and then my best friend is in her 40s and I have many great friends in their 30s too. UGH! I think I feel like a misfit!

I guess too, that I kind of thought by now I would have written my first book and joined the Women of Faith Conference Speakers...;) and here I am taking care of 3 young boys, a husband and one 91 year old man. No regrets here...don't get me wrong...it is just that I can't shake this feeling of dread about turning 40.

Then there is this next picture:

This is my Dad..according to this picture....this was 36 years ago this month. He died 13 years ago this month...I loved this man! He wasn't perfect, but he was mine and he loved me and I think I miss him a lot this month. Even now, as I type these words, I am all teary...sometimes...I just want to crawl up on the couch next to my Dad and snuggle...I can still feel the way he held me. I miss it! To him I was beautiful, to him I was worth fighting for, to him I was his baby!

Even now as I pen these words, I know what my Father in Heaven is saying: "Lisa I love when you let Me hold you, to Me you are beautiful, the apple of My eye, to Me you are worth fighting for, to Me you are and always will be My baby and I love you with an everlasting love! You do know that neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us."

Thank you Lord for my Dad. Because of him, my God image was never scarred. I never once doubted the Love of my Lord!

I think this is why I blog/journal....discovery! Translating my heart into words often times helps me discover some hidden truths that have been shadowed by my clouded mind.

So perhaps it is the simple truth that 40 is just another day, another year, whatever. I look forward to letting everyone know that the day came and went and I feel exactly the same as I do today. Actually, truth be told, I'll be spending my big day in the Magic Kingdom...it doesn't get much better than that...perhaps I will come back the next day and feel/look like I'm 30 again! Either way, its going to happen...and I'm glad that I have been blessed with so much to be thankful for for these past 40 years.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What A Weekend to Live in FL

Beautiful weather, beautiful friends. The above picture is my friend Carla holding baby Satori with me at Stella's On The Beach! YUM! The Engel family had a busy, fun filled weekend. Because our Sacred Saturday was busy with my having to teach our Connextion Team Orientation Class (which I really enjoy doing) my boys had a birthday party and I had dinner with some girl friends, we moved our Sacred Saturday to Sunday. We had a family day with all of the Connextion Team members today out a friends' home on the intercoastal! Thank you Kevin and Judy! We had a blast! Here are some photos of my fun weekend!

This is Amanda and her friend Jessica who came to help with Amanda's transition home with her new baby (baby above)

That red kayak is my Kyle...all by himself...out in the inlet...he got way out there...I was so proud. Brendan got to kayak by himself too (no pictures), and Shane didn't get that far...he cut up his legs and feet (first of 3 casualties by Shane alone today) on some barnacles!

There is the rest of my gang...see Shane up on Dad's shoulders...that would be after he cut up his legs and feet, and after he fell out of his chair because a palmetto bug was crawling up his leg, but before he almost smacked his head on the picnic table. UGH!

This would be Kyle getting pulled in from "way out there"...thankfully the water was full of experienced kayaking kids! I love kayaking...it is one of my favorite things to do here in FL! Sorry no pictures of me...I was being competitive...volleyball, badminton, and ladder ball....(they call it redneck golfing) hilariously fun - wish I had a picture! I lost at all three, but it was a blast!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Little Boy in Big Boy Body

"Children keep us in check. Their laughter prevents our hearts from hardening. Their dreams ensure we never lose our drive to make ours a better world. They are the greatest disciplinarians known to mankind." -- Queen Rania of Jordan, Hello Magazine

My Brendan. I love him so much. He is one of the most sensitive, caring, loving little boys I have ever met. He wears his sweet little heart on his sleeve just like his Daddy. He is so smart, loves to read and reads very well, loves all things school and has such a heart for the Lord. Just to give you a little insight into his heart let me share this: I used to sing "You Are My Sunshine" to my boys before they would go to bed. Often I would hear sniffles from the top bunk, when one day I said "Brendan are you crying?" "Yes", he sniffles, "I just don't like the part when she wakes up and the child is not in her arms, it was only a dream...that part breaks my heart!" Oh my Brendan. He makes me very proud. With this said, I must confess that he challenges me as a parent. Really, it is not him, but it is his appearance I think. So many people have told me that he looks so big for a 7 year old. Excuse me, but exactly what does a 7 year old look like? I really am not sure. You see, I have two of them and they are worlds apart in many ways.

Brendan is 4 feet tall and weighs 70 lbs....his twin brother is 3 feet something and weighs in at about 54 lbs. When Brendan and I have the mornings all to ourselves...we will snuggle up and read as much as we can until Shane has to wake up. Some of our best conversations are at 7:30am and he is so easy to talk with...so mature in many ways. Then I go and get so caught off guard when he does something so silly...so 7 year old like....and I don't know how to react. Well, I know how I should react, but I don't...no...I get upset with him for doing something so "immature". HE IS ONLY A 7 YEAR OLD BOY LISA!! Funny, that same behavior would be totally blown off if were his twin brother....hmmm?

Well, I am being transparent here...it is true...I struggle with letting him be a little boy sometimes. He doesn't play with cars really, he would rather read or play chess on the computer. He has to be forced to play outside sometimes, because he would rather build with his legos or complete a Highlights magazine. He is the first one to give up his things for his brothers, and never puts up a fight. He is just that kind of guy...the kind by the way that will make an amazing husband some day...much like the one I have.

So today, I bit his cute little head off for something, which in retrospect was really "NOTHING". I caught myself immediately, (because I pray about this difficulty of mine a lot and the Lord is really helping me) and pulled the car over to the side of the road. I turned around and said "Brendan, I am so sorry that I just snapped at you. You were just being 7 and I totally expected you to be 17. I am sorry, can you forgive me." This is what he said.

"Mom, I am sorry too, I don't want to whine like a baby!" "No Brendan, you are a child, I don't like whining, but I was out of line snapping like I did...I love you so much, can you forgive me son?" Then he said it...this is why I quoted Queen Rania at the top of my blog today..."Mom, I forgive you...I will always forgive you Mom...because you always forgive me!"

He taught me a huge lesson right there on the side of the road (which by the way is where I learn many lessons!). It is because of Christ that we forgive. Because of His sacrifice. I know how important my job as a parent is...my children know that the authority I have comes from the Lord...for He is my authority.

Thank you Lord for giving Brendan a sensitive spirit. I do confess Lord, it is at times that sensitivity that bothers me, but I know that it is a gift from You. Help me help him hone this gift so that he can effectively use what You have given him for Your continued glory! Amen.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sacred Saturdays

We had so much fun this weekend. We went to Go-Kart City and did everything but the Go-Karts. We played mini golf, hit the batting cages, and had some friendly competition in the game room. We ended our day with a bite to eat at McDonald's (Oh and I brought a Fiber One bar...and had a coffee...I didn't even taste a french fry!) Lost 2 lbs. bringing my total to 13.6 lbs so far. Whew! Ok so the strange faces that are always present when Mike and I get our picture taken by our children is just from the fact that they practically stick that camera on our noses! Plus it is amazing that a picture comes out at all...with all of the fingers in front of the camera. Not bad though...that was taken by Kyle! It was great cheap fun...and memories were made! Criteria for a great Sacred Saturday for the Engel family!

Here were some of the highlights!

I won....7 to 2. Poor Mike!
He gets his license in just 10 years here in FL!

Iced Coffee.....Oh this child!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Invitro Babies

Recently a friend was discussing her daughter and the fact that she had some "mild issues" that they were just starting to perhaps pinpoint and read up on. As you know my Kyle has some "issues" as he is on the autism spectrum. By the way, that does not mean he is autistic at all. When you meet Kyle, he is the friendliest, most lovable little guy in the world. When you get to know him, aside from his learning disabilities, he loves to be with people most of the time...unlike most autistic children who are content and sometimes more comfortable alone. Kyle just shows some of the sign of autism....sensory integration dysfunction, speech and language delay, and obsessive compulsiveness.

All this to say that after my friend was telling me that the book I suggested made her feel better, she ended our conversation with...."I don't know....these invitro babies....high tech." This is the second or third time those words have rung in my ears and heart. When I was pregnant and on 6 months of strict bed rest, another friend of mine who had had twins via invitro had found out her daughter was having seizures. She wondered if it was because of invitro fertilization. (In case you don't know, invitro fertilization is when they take the sperm and the egg (in my case husband sperm--my egg), place it in a dish and allow them to fertilize, then "shoot" them back into the already prepared uterus for "natural" implantation to take place.)

It took 10 very long years of trying to get pregnant for Mike and I. We prayed and prayed and pursued international adoption, and prayed and we knew this was the route we were to take. In the course of 7 years we did fertility pills (the BBT chart method, alone and coupled with fertility drugs, Artificial Insemination (3 times), Frozen Embryo Transplant-2 times, and Invitro Fertilization 3 times. 750 needles later, 14 babies gone to heaven, Kyle and Brendan seem to stick. The rest of my pregnancy was quite the miracle after miracle.

Why do I struggle when I here those words with the tone of blame? Maybe because I wonder if I did this to Kyle by having invitro. I know that is silly to think...and Kyle is perfectly and wonderfully made by the Lord Himself. I know too that this was the route the Lord wanted Mike and I to take. I am solid in all of this, but still. My babies didn't happen by surprise or even "naturally".

Nonetheless, when you look at these two babies, fraternal twins...yet different in so many ways...I am reminded that the were fashioned and created exactly the way the Lord intended. I am thankful for Kyle's love for Jesus and his love for people. I am thankful, in a sense that we have had (and continue) to travel this road of discovery for and with Kyle. I am grateful for others who have supported us and other still who can empathize with me. One of the challenging things that I had to overcome (yea right...Kyle is the one overcoming) is that he looks like any other kid, but at times acts like, well lets just say, different or unique. It's overcoming other peoples comments that is most difficult, people immediately jump to our parenting skills or lack there of. We have come to love and even adore some of his "issues"....he even laughs when we point out his odd behavior sometimes. He is becoming so much more aware, but he knows he is KYLE...sometimes his brain hurts...most of the time he just tries to make us laugh...sometimes he tries to make us mad though too! HA! He knows that he is a mighty man of God and he shares his love so effortlessly...he knows Jesus lives in his heart...and really those are the important things for us.
So are his disabilities my fault? No, but even if they were do to the "unnatural" way Kyle was conceived...there is nothing "unnatural" about the spirit that lives within him--and that alone came from the Lord. He is a child of God...and he is mine! I am thrilled that the Lord chose Mike and I to be his parents. I celebrate the fact that the Lord enable me to hold these babies in my womb and to give birth to them...I am eternally grateful that the Lord answered my prayers and granted me the desires of my heart. There is no mistake about it...all of this was intentional and purposeful and planned!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Proud Moment!

He is such a ham....he cannot help himself! Here is my 5-year old doing his best at a new reader. He has read 15 books so far this school year! We have come a long way...in August he didn't even recognize the letters let alone the sound each one makes! I'm so proud of him...hammy and all!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is This Allowed in School?

Well, yes...in our school anyway! I'm sure the Fire Department probably would have a few things to say about my son reading so close to the stove, but I was preparing breakfast.....don't want to waste a moment!
I love that we can be comfortable while learning. Remember those hard seats and bright lights in school. Here we have Florida sunshine...it's 62 degrees outside and we can wear shorts! Nice! Yes, that is my Brendan...he is so tall for just a 7 year old!
For the record, it is rare that Shane sits in an actual chair! Clearly you can see that we have them! Here are the boys preparing their Valentine's Boxes for their big party (another post)!