Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Generousity of Strangers

I am completly amazed by the generousity of strangers. Someone we've never met before gifted us with a very important baby gift that we were yet to receive - a traveling car seat! A friend noticed someone was trying to sell a Graco Rittenhouse Car Seat, brand new and still in its box, for a great price and sent me a link to the sale. I responded quickly and asked if she would hold the car seat for us until Friday, when Gregg gets paid. This sweet lady sent me an email shortly afterwards and said, "My husband and I feel that we are supposed to bless your family by giving you this carseat." My heart leaped for joy because I knew that what we were going to pay for this particular car seat was about half of its retail value, and here we were getting it for free! Wonders never cease! So now, all we have to purchase is the actual Graco Rittenhouse Stroller.
I am still trying to process this generous gift from someone who is a complete stranger to us. And the car seat was not the only gift that they blessed us with - we also received several diaper disposal bags to fit in the Arm & Hammer diaper disposal system and a sweet gift bag filled with designer burp cloths, a sweet taggie blanket, headbands with clip on flowers, a Christmas Lullaby cd, and the most adorable socks for an infant girl.

My heart is overwhelmed by this family's generousity towards complete strangers. This is taking the act "Pay It Forward" to a whole new level. Just as I was starting to panic about this newborn necessity God moved and said, "I've got this covered. Trust in Me and I'll take care of things." To be perfectly honest with you, I'm slow to come around to things sometimes and will admit that I worry when I should just trust in my heavenly Father. This was such a time for me and God reminded me very clearly of the following verse...
    Matthew 6:25-34
    “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? ..."

To the family who so graciously donated this car seat to us... Thank you! I can never fully express what a blessing this was for us. We will be reminded of God providing for our needs through the generousity of strangers every time we place our little girl in this. May God bless you richly and abundantly.

Friday, November 15, 2013


To say that I'm amazed that I'm experiencing the life changing event of pregnancy again would be an understatement. Yes, I'm amazed but I'm also shocked, blessed, scared, unsure of the future, and incredibly grateful. Our lives are going to change in one of the most dramatic ways possible once this little girl arrives. Not unlike when her big sister, Violet, entered this world and changed mine and Gregg's lives from a couple to a family of three.

This week I've hit a huge milestone in this pregnancy. I hit the 33 week mark a few days ago. The reason why this is such a big milestone - it was at this point in my pregnancy with Violet that she entered this world. My sweet girl was born 7 weeks early and, beyond severe reflux and jaundice, she was a healthy 5 pound baby girl, perfect in every possible way.

Violet spent five days in the NICU due to reflux and jaundice but we were blessed in that she got to come home with us when I was released from the hospital. Her release from the NICU was last minute and a surprise to us. As hard as it was, Gregg and I were prepared to leave our hearts at the hospital as we drove home. Ten minutes before the nurse came to wheel me out of my room, the NICU called and said they were bringing Violet to my room for release. Gregg had just returned to my room after taking all of our belongings to the car when I sent him back to get Violet's diaper bag. What a joy it was to call Violet's Grandmothers who were waiting on us at home to tell them Violet would be with us! There was a lot of rejoicing that day.

Violet's little sister is doing well and growing right on target. I had an ultrasound recently and she is measuring at 4 pounds 2 ounces. A full pound lighter than her big sister was at this point, which is a good thing. This means my gestational diabetes is not affecting her as much as her big sister. If Little Sister keeps at this rate, she will weigh somewhere around 6-7 pounds when she's born.

You may be wondering, "Does this little girl have a name yet?" and the answer to that would be a resounding YES! In keeping with not using Violet's first name on the world-wide-web, we will be sharing this little girl's life with you under the name of Faith. Just like Violet's name, Faith is this little girl's middle name which is from one of her Great-Great Grandmothers (just like Violet's name is).

I'm doing quite well considering that I feel like a beached whale. Ha! I tire easily now, which is to be expected at this stage in my pregnancy. And I'm getting to be quite uncomfortable. Faith is a very active baby and has quite a powerful kick for one so tiny. I've recently discovered tiny bruises up near my ribs. Contractions are starting to hit me but they are irregular and don't hit too often. Still, I'm ready for the next few weeks to pass quickly as I'm ready to meet this little girl. Yet, I'm scared too because there is so much to do and so many things to get before she arrives. Let's just say, panic is starting to set in that we won't get everything done in time. We'll be delivering in a few more weeks and are getting down to the wire. I can't wait!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Miracle of Pregnancy

Sometimes life comes along and blows you away when you least expect it. For several years, we have longed for another child, a sibling for Violet to grow up with. My arms and heart ached for a child that I never thought would happen. Gregg and I decided against fertility treatments after the difficult pregnancy I had with our beautiful girl and we left the decision up to God and tried to be content with whatever happened. Gregg handled the wait better than I did. At times, it was gut wrenching for me to be around little babies. It seemed like I was constantly around little babies. Our church is filled with young families and couples who are starting their little families. And in our home school group, our family was the only one with one child. No matter how happy I was for these families, my heart ached for another child. Not because Violet wasn't enough or perfect in every way, because she is, but because my family didn't feel complete. Growing up as an only child, I knew from an early age that I never wanted to just have one child. 

Just when I had finally given up the hope of another child I was faced with a surgery to remove yet another cyst on one of my ovaries and more endometriosis. During the initial consult with my doctor, he naturally brought up the option of a hysterectomy. As soon as he uttered that word, my world collapsed. Apparently, I still had hope. My doctor noticed the immediate tears that welled into my eyes and quickly started talking options. First, a test was in order to see if my body was still producing viable eggs. Then, surgery to remove the cysts and enometriosis. I've had this surgery before. Three times to be exact. And in four short months from the time of my surgery, we discovered that I was pregnant! Words still fail me at the emotions that ran through me at the news.

I had gone in to see my family doctor because I thought I had gotten yet another case of food poisoning. Within a two month time frame I had gotten food poisoning twice and a stomach bug. So, I went to my doctor out of desperation. I begged my family doctor, "Please, give me something, anything, to make me stop getting sick!" The possibility of my being pregnant wasn't even a remote thought in my mind. My doctor ran a quick test without telling me what it was. When he came back into my exam room, my sweet doctor's next words are ones that I'll never forget. "Kimberly, I'm pretty sure this will come as good news to you. You're expecting!" I felt like I was in a vacuumed environment when he said that. All of a sudden, everything became tunnel vision as my mind tried to process what he had just told me. "Expecting what?" I asked. Yes, I was THAT clueless. Remember, I never thought this to be an actual possibility for me without fertility treatments involved. My doctor's face was priceless as he looked at me with caution in how to proceed. "Kimberly..." and then after sitting there for a few seconds it sunk in. "Oh. Oh! OH!!!" 

Meanwhile, my sweet husband was sending me text messages to see what the doctor had to say. I ignored his messages and immediately called my Ob/Gyn and was making an appointment. My pregnancy with Violet taught me to never wait to see my doctor in this situation. My family doctor smiled at me when he heard me making an appointment for the next Monday and getting lab tests arranged to check my progesterone levels. I had everything set up by the time Gregg arrived at the doctor's office to pick me up. He looked at me with such concern on his face, it was obvious he was worried about me. I couldn't just bust out the news that we were pregnant because Violet was in the back seat so I discreetly handed him the pregnancy test. My poor husband looked at me with confusion and said, "I don't know what this means." (We never had a pregnancy stick test with Violet as her pregnancy was confirmed with a blood test.) I quietly told him, "One line means no. Two means yes." Gregg looked at the stick again and said, "There's definitely two lines here." And with that, we drove home listening to Violet's chatter come to us from her seat in the back of the car while he clutched my hand and held on to me as if he was afraid I'd disappear somehow. Once we got home, we immediately put a movie on for Violet to occupy her time so that we could steal a few moments alone. Gregg and I sat on our bed and just held each other for the longest time. I think we were both in such a state of shock, and in awe of what we've just found out, that we were afraid to talk and break the magic of the moment.

It has been seven months since that fateful day and the shock still has not worn off. In some ways, this pregnancy has been easier on me than what I experienced with Violet but it has been quite challenging too. With Violet, I was...
1) put on bed rest after only knowing we were pregnant for two days due to extremely low progesterone levels. It took nearly a month for the levels to be brought up to where they needed to be in order to sustain her pregnancy. 
2) I spent a few days in the hospital due to getting the flu and becoming seriously dehydrated. And then...
3) the mother-load of complications hit me at 26 weeks, I was diagnosed with a severe case of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. I spent a total of 31 days in the hospital just trying to eek out more time for Violet to develop and then another two weeks spent at home with home-health care monitoring me several times a day. 

This time around, my progesterone levels were low again but they were easier to bring up. I've dealt with debilitating dizziness and some morning sickness but nothing serious enough to land me in the hospital. And, through God's grace and the help of my doctor, I've managed to dodge preeclampsia so far (I'm five weeks past the point of when it hit me with Violet). I have gestational diabetes again but we've been able to manage it without insulin by following a diet that was provided by a nutritionist. 

As I look at both of these pregnancies, it is impossible to not see how God's hand was in the details of everything. He protected Violet, and my health, during some of the worst things you can experience in a pregnancy. This time, God is protecting me from the very complications that made Violet's pregnancy so hard. Two totally different pregnancies, but God's hand is evident in both! We are so incredibly blessed.

I was never supposed to be able to have children according to one doctor that I saw many, many years ago. My endometriosis was too bad and my ovaries were a mess. I went several years without hope of ever having a child. And then I met Dr. Balat. Dr. Balat changed all of that with a couple of surgeries and then a low dose fertility medication. Sometimes it takes multiple tries with fertility meds to conceive, if you conceive at all, but we were fortunate to get pregnant with the very first dose! Oh, what an amazing blessing it was to hear the words I had so longed to hear, "Kimberly, you're pregnant!"

Fast forward nine years... no pregnancies and my hopes were fading into the ether. Obviously, pregnancy didn't fix whatever was wrong and we weren't conceiving on our own. Yet, we still did not want to go through fertility treatments again. We were experiencing the phenomenon that's called "secondary infertility". When you've had one pregnancy and then struggled to conceive a second.

Glory be to God! Gregg and I were finally getting to experience for a second time the miracle of pregnancy! So, here we are now, I'm in my 31st week of my pregnancy and my estimated due date is Dec. 28, 2013. We know already that we will be delivering this little bundle of joyful blessings during the first week of December, for health and safety reasons. So, this little one will be here before we know it, in five short weeks! We couldn't be more thrilled with this tremendous blessing in our lives. Much like Sarah in the Old Testament, I began to believe that having another baby was impossible. And just like Sarah, God showed me that He was capable of doing anything for His children! And here we are, experiencing for the second time the absolute miracle and joy of pregnancy. 
Thank You Father for never giving up on me, even when I had personally given up hope. Your grace and Your mercy never ceases to fail or amaze me. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Classical Conversations Unofficial Cycle 2 Book List compiled by Kimberly Wiltshire

Hello friends! It's that time of of year again where we're gearing up for our big homeschool adventure. One of my favorite parts about homeschooling Violet is that we get to read all kinds of books to ignite her imagination as we study certain topics. We follow Classical Conversations' program for our educational journey and I always love researching the topics for each year and compiling a list of books to either buy or check out from our local library. 

We're very excited about this year as this will be our first year to repeat a cycle in Classical Conversations. Cycle 2 was when we joined this incredible program and it was an amazing year for our little family. Here is my little princess meeting the ill fated Anne Boleyn at the Texas Renaissance Festival four years ago. That day will forever be one of my favorite days of all time. We had such a wonderful time!

This is a list of books that I have compiled after researching the topics for Classical Conversations Cycle 2. These books are recommended for children ages 4 to 10 based on the ratings and reviews either from Amazon or our public library. I have not read all of these books and cannot personally account for their material. These are generally Read-Aloud books that can be read individually or to a group of children. As with everything, please review these books before buying or checking them out from your library. I hope you enjoy this list. 

Happy Reading!

* MSB = Magic School Bus
* Please note that each subject is missing a week or more due to the lack of books
 found for that particular week.


Wk 1  Gisela’s Holiday Story (Gisela, Daughter of Charlemagne) - Lois Jarman
The Marvelous Blue Mouse - Christopher Manson
The Elephant from Baghdad - Mary Tavener Holmes

Wk 2  William the Conqueror, Get a Life - Philip Ardaqh
William the Conqueror: Last Invader of England - Tom McGowen

Wk 3  Richard the Lionheart:Crusader King of England - Thomas Streissquth
You Wouldn't Want To Be A Crusader!: A War You'd Rather Not Fight [Paperback] 

Wk 4  The Magna Carta - James Daugherty

Wk 5  Joan of Arc - Diane Stanley
You Wouldn’t Want to be Joan of Arc -

Wk 6  Leonardo and the Flying Boy

Wk 7  The Adventures of Martin Luther - Carolyn Bergt

Wk 8  Who In the World Was the Forgotten Explorer? The Story of
Amerigo Vespucci - Lorene Lambert
Magellen’s World - Stuart Waldman

Wk 9  Peter the Great - Diane Stanley
The Three Musketeers - Alexander Dumas

Wk 10  The Fairy Tale about Ivan the Son of Czar and Firebird and about
 the Grey Wolf - Elienne Burkatovskii

Wk 11  Marguerite Makes a Book - Bruce Robertson

Wk 12  Time Warp Trio: Meet You at Waterloo - Jon Sciezka
  Minstrel in the Tower - Gloria Skurzynski
  A Medieval Fiest - Aliki

Wk 13  All About America: The Industrial Revolution - Hilarie N. Staton
  The Bobbin Girl - Emily Arnold McCully

Wk 14  Where Poppies Grow: A World War 1 Companion - Linda Grarfield

Wk 15  Ten and Twenty - Claire Bishop
  Christmas In the Trenches - John McCatcheon

Wk 16  You Wouldn’t Want to Be a WWII Piolet - Antram
  Hannaha’s Cold Winter - Trish Marx
  Benno and the Night of Broken Glass (Holocaust) - Meg Wiviott

Wk 17  Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt - Don Brown
  TIME For Kids: Theodore Roosevelt: The Adventurous President
  - Editors for TIME For Kids
  You’re On Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt - Judith St. George

Wk 19  My Freedom Trip: A Child’s Escape from North Korea - Francis & Ginger Poork

Wk 20  The Wall - Eve Bunting
  My Grandpa’s War - David Volk

Wk 21  The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Cold War Ends - Nigel Kelly

Wk 22  The Wall: Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain - Peter Sis

Wk 23  Ashely’s Yellow Ribbon - Barbara Davoll

Wk 24  Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom - Chris van Wyk
            Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman - Floyd Cooper


Wk 1  Tropical Rainforest - Donald Silver
The Frozen Tundra: A Web of Life - Philip Johansson
What Is a Biome? - Bobbie Kalman
Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes - Thomas A. Heffron

Wk 2  Carnivores - Aaron Reynolds
Bear Wants More - Karma Wilson

Wk 3  MSB Gets Eaten: A Book About Food Chains - Pat Reif
Pond Circle - Betsy Franco
Gobble It Up - Jim Arnosky

Wk 4  Down Comes the Rain - Franklyn Branley
MSB Wet All Over: A Book About the Water Cycle - Pat Reif
The Water Hole - Grame Base
MSB At The Waterworks

Wk 5  MSB Goes Upstream: A Book About Salmon Migration
Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration - Merianne Berkes
Home At Last: A Song of Migration - April Pulley Sayre

Wk 6  The Wump World - Bill Peet
The Lorax - Dr. Seuss
The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute (Anymore) - Stan & Jan Berenstain

Wk 7  Stars - Mary Lyn Ray
How the Stars Fell into the Sky - Jerrie Dughton

Wk 8  Brother Sun, Sister Moon - Katherine Paterson
(based on the writings of St. Francis Assisi)

Wk 9  The Planets In Our Solar System - Franklyn M. Branley
National Geographic Readers: Planets - Elizabeth Carney
Clarice Bean, What Planet Are You From? - Lauren Child

Wk 10  What the Moon is Like - Franklyn M. Branley
The Moon Book - Gail Gibbons

Wk 11  What’s Out There? A Book About Space - Lynn Wilson
What Do You See? Our Solar System - Carme Sevenster
There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System - Tish Rabe

Wk 12  My Grandpa Was An Astronaut
Man on the Moon - Anastassia Suen
Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon - Judy Donnelly

Wk 13  The Solid Truth About States of Matter with Max Axiom,
Super Scientist - Agnieszka Biskup
Solids: States of Matter - Jim Mezzanotti
What Is The World Made of? All About Solids, Liquids and Gases
  - Weidner Zoehfield

Wk 15  Energy Makes Things Happen - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Wk 16  A Crash Course in Forces and Motion with Max Axiom,
Super Scientist - Emily Soho
Wk 17  Forces Make Things Move - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Wk 20  All About Heat - Lisa Trumbauer

Wk 24  Charged Up: The Story of Electricity - Bailey
  MSB And the Electric Field Trip - Joanna Cole
  The Shocking Story of Electricity - Anna Clayborrne


Wk 2   I And You And Don’t Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun?
(Words are Categorical) - Brian P. Cleary
Wk 13  Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is An Adverb? - Brian P. Cleary

Wk 23  Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is An Adjective? - Brian P. Cleary

(The following books are not necessarily about the geography for the week listed. They are for your use to encourage children to look up the locations mentioned.)

Wk 1  Little Dog Lost:The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic -Monica Carnesi

Wk 2  The Three Golden Oranges - Alma Flor Ada
The Beautiful Butterfly: A Folktale from Spain - Judy Sierra

Wk 4  A Walk in London - Salvatore Rubbino
This I London - Miroslav Sasek

Wk 5  One Step At A Time (Hugo The Happy Starfish) - Suzy Liebermann
Heidi - Johanna Spyri

Wk 9  Kite Flying - Grace Lin

Wk 10  Child of The Sun - Sandra Arnold
Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale - Carmen Agra


Wk 14  Benjamin Franklin and the Magic Squares - Frank Murphy

Wk 16  Sir Comfrence and the First Round Table - Cindy Neuschwander

Wk 17  Sir Cumfrence and the Dragon of Pi - Cindy Neuschwander


Wk 4  You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Assyrian Soldier!: An Ancient Army You’d Rather Not
         Join [Paperback] - Rupert Matthews

Wk 5  You Wouldn’t Want to Be in Alexander the Great’s Army!: Miles You’d
Rather Not March [Paperback] Jacqueline Morley

Wk 9  You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Viking Explorer!: Voyages You’d Rather Not Make
(You Wouldn’t Want To) [Paperback] - Andrew Langley

Wk 14  The World Made New: Why the Age of Exploration Happened and How It
  Changed the World (Timelines of American History) [Hardcover]
  - Marc Aronson

Wk 16  You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Aristocrat in the French Revolution!: A Horrible Time
  in Paris You’d Rather Avoid [Paperback] - Jim Pipe

Wk 18  Trail of Tears (Step-Into-Reading) - Joseph Bruchac
Only the Names Remain: The Cherokees and The Trail of Tears - Alex W. Bealer


Wk 21  You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Secret Agent During World War II!: A Perilous
Mission Behind Enemy Lines [Paperback] - John Malam

Saturday, August 10, 2013

9th Birthday Thoughts & Video

It amazes me how quickly time passes in our lives. Our days blend together so easily as we get older. When we were children, time seemed to take forever. We couldn't wait for a special event to arrive, usually our birthdays or Christmas. And then, just as quickly as they came, we're longing for the next big event. Now, I wish time would slow down. If not down right stand still for a few moments. I want to enjoy the moments that we're in. The precious conversations with Violet as she shares some exciting tidbit that she learned or just something that made her happy. I want our early morning ritual of her climbing into bed with me, as her Daddy wakes up to start his day at work, to slow down so I can enjoy her deep breathing as she settles back into sleep. 

I want to fully enjoy each precious second that we are blessed to have as a family. Yet, time rushes by and before I know it, it's bedtime and we have to tuck our beautiful girl back into bed for the night. And moments of sadness always pricks my heart as I realize all of the opportunities I've missed that day. No matter how hard I try to prevent it, my days usually end this way.

A moment turns into a day. The day turns into a week. That week quickly turns into a month. And before I know it, another year has come and gone. Such is the case today on Violet's birthday. At the stroke of 1:16 pm, CST, Violet will officially be 9 years old. It is such a bitter sweet moment for me. I miss the little girl whose fingers would gently curl around mine. Now, Violet's hands are nearly as big as my own. I'm so grateful that we have this day to celebrate though. So many families long for a birthday celebration that will never come. Time has literally frozen for them and their babies will always be babies. So, I rejoice on this incredibly special day in my daughter's life. Truly, life is very sweet for us and I thank God for all of it. Even the moments that are hard and leave us scratching our heads on how to proceed with discipline or heartaches. Each precious moment is a gift that I pray to never take for granted.

So much has happened in Violet's 8th year of life. She completed her third year in Classical Conversations and developed stronger friendships with her classmates. Violet fell and broke her nose, resulting in the need for her first (and hopefully last) surgery. She watched her Momma go through a surgery of her own, creating a stronger compassionate heart and a willingness to help more around the house. Violet had her first sleepover with two friends from her school and had the most incredible time! And, she has grown at least another foot taller bringing her close to shoulder height to me. My most favorite event in Violet's life this year though has to be Easter, the day her Daddy baptised her in front of our church and family. Oh, what a blessed event that moment in time was for us!

Each day I think I couldn't possibly love this child any more than what I already do. And each day, my heart is stretched to a greater capacity of love. A love that is so overwhelming that it can paralyze me or create a Motherly fierceness that would do anything to protect her child. A love that has caused me to push aside timidness and advocate for my child, protecting her from the onslaught of a harsh world. A love that caused me to confront a dentist when my daughter wasn't receiving the level of care that she needed and demanded that it be corrected immediately. A love that my concerned husband understood and spurred these parting words to me as I left to confront that particular dentist, "Don't do something to cause you to be arrested." FYI, I was calm but firm when dealing with the dentist and I achieved my goal of getting the help my daughter needed.

So, here I am, thinking about this past year and feeling quite nostalgic. And as in the past, I have created a video slide of Violet for her birthday. I hope you enjoy seeing how much she has changed over the years. 

Happy 9th Birthday, Violet! Your Daddy and I couldn't be more proud of the young lady that you are becoming. So many changes lie ahead for you and our family but we know that you will handle them with style, grace, and your particular flare that is all your own. No matter what the future holds, always remember this... your Daddy and I love you to the heavens and above. You are dearly loved and cherished more than anything in this world. 

We pray that as you grow and mature, that you will hold fast to your faith and remember that Christ loves you. No sin is so great that it can ever separate you from the love of your Heavenly Father and the love of your parents. Your Mommy & Daddy will fail you and disappoint you many times in life but we will always be here for you, baby girl. Our arms and hearts are always open to you, no matter what life throws your way. 

Have a blessed day Sweetheart! And may there be many, many more birthdays for you to celebrate in life.

Love always,
Mommy & Daddy