Luna Turns 2

This Sunday (November 23) marks the two year anniversary of the day we delivered our Luna Eugenia.  She was delivered stillborn after being diagnosed with a chromosomal disorder called Turner Syndrome.  We still celebrate this day as her birthday.

In the hospital on Luna's birthday.

In the hospital on Luna’s birthday.

I also had the privilege of starting a new chapter in Biology class this week – Genetics.  I hadn’t anticipated really getting to talk about Luna so close to her birthday, but it just so happened that today we looked at karyotypes and I got to show them hers.

Luna's karyotype, showing the missing X chromosome in the bottom right.

Luna’s karyotype, showing the missing X chromosome in the bottom right.

We looked at the missing space where an X chromosome should have been, and I told them about how grateful I was for the technology to allow us to know what was going on with our baby girl.  I asked them to imagine being pregnant and thinking that everything was going well until one day you go in to the OB and they can’t find a heartbeat.  That would have been more difficult to bear than what we had. I am grateful for the six weeks between diagnosis and death that I had to value and savor every single moment with Luna.

There was also a rare chance where I got to speak to my students about why we named her Luna.  I explained that the moon has no light of its own and only reflects the light of the sun.  In the same way, as a Christian, I know that I have no light of my own and I only reflect the light of Christ to the world.  Luna’s name and Luna’s story remind me to shine brightly for Christ no matter what the circumstances are.


I anticipated these holidays being difficult without my dad, Jen, Luna and Jake, but I have found that my mood has been better recently.  Perhaps the constant reminders of those I’ve lost have actually served to keep my focus in the right place.  Maybe I’m just happy that I get to see the rest of my family more during the holidays.  Regardless, I’m thankful that I get a little break from the grumpiness and anxiety of my grief.

I came up the stairs in MACA to go to my lab and there was a slanted rectangle of light on the floor where the sun was streaming in a glass door.  You know the kind.  The kind where the light hits all the particles in the air and it looks like a snow globe and the whole world seems to glow.  I stood in that doorway and felt the warmth of that sun and it really felt like a hug.  I don’t usually say cheesy things like that, but it really did feel like a warm hug. And it made me think about what I have to be thankful for.

1)  I am thankful for Luna.  For the experience of having her.  For the reminder of how to live because of her.  For the warmth of knowing her. For my children who still talk about her and make things for her.

The ornaments I made this week at MOPS.  My children reminded me to include Luna on everything.

The ornaments I made this week at MOPS. My children reminded me to include Luna on everything.

2)  I am thankful for losing Luna.  Without losing Luna when I did, I would not have been able to be in the hospital when Jen died.  She died two days after my due date with Luna and I would have had a hard time being there with a newborn (or being so enormously pregnant).  Also, if I had not lost Luna, I would not have Joe.  And Joe lights up my world. He hugs like my dad, bosses me around like Jen and makes goofy smiles like Jake.

My Joe and the smile that makes me smile.

My Joe and the smile that makes me smile.

3)  I am thankful for my family.  Both living and dead.  I have learned so much from all of them and I value each and every one of them.  They shape me.  They support me.  They make me who I am.  They are funny and smart and attractive.  They are kind and generous and patient.  They are everything I am not and everything that I am.  They fill all my gaps and make me into someone whole.

new school

Even though my struggle through grief hasn’t been easy and I have so much to work on, I am thankful for the life that God has given me.  It has given me a platform that I wouldn’t otherwise have. It has taught me to rely on Christ when I have nothing left.  It had made me compassionate and patient.  It has created in me a grateful, joyful heart.

My parents with us on Luna's birthday.  I am so thankful my dad could be there to hold my hand.

My parents with us on Luna’s birthday. I am so thankful my dad could be there to hold my hand.

That God really knows what he’s doing, doesn’t he?

So when Sunday rolls around, we encourage you to think for a moment about the light you are reflecting and we hope that Luna reminds you to reflect the Son as brightly as a full moon.


Goodnight Moon

I chose this book because my girl Maggie just absolutely loves to read this.  It used to be a bedtime staple before we started going to the library and probably was responsible for my drive to make Maggie read OTHER books.  In the book, the author describes a room and then proceeds to say goodnight to everything in the room.

On Monday, we made it all about colors.  I made Bo a worksheet with the names of colors on it and he sounded out the words and colored them in accordingly.

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While he did that, Maggie drew me a picture of a “great green room” and a “red balloon” (and a whole bunch of other stuff that she wanted to draw like “Mommy, this is you with no face!”)  Then Bo did another worksheet where I wrote ROYGBIV down one side and he figured out which color went with each letter and then drew a straight line across the page with that color.  We talked about rainbows and the order of the colors and he drew a rainbow to hang up on the wall.

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Maggie had a worksheet with circles of different colors and she sorted beads into the right colors.

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She got very distracted at this point and insisted that she needed to draw princesses on the board. So we moved on to finger painting!  I gave each of them a glob of red, blue and yellow finger paint and told them that these were primary colors.  We then made other colors from these primary colors and we talked about the color combinations (red + yellow = orange, etc.).  Then I let them paint and make a mess of themselves.  Finger paints are not what they used to be!!!  They washed out of everything without a hitch.

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I may have gone a little overboard on Tuesday, but we had a lesson on the Moon and Solar System. We first talked about what a planet was and what it means to orbit something.  What planet do we live on?  Earth!  We looked at photos of the moon and talked about craters on the surface of the moon.  So they could understand this, I gave each of them a pile of flour on a plate and asked them to flatten it out as much as they could.  Then I gave them a marshmallow and had them (lightly) hit the surface of the flour to leave a crater behind.  We also threw the marshmallows at them to see how the craters looked different.

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Then we talked about how the moon looks different in the sky sometimes and we discussed the phases of the moon. We poured the flour from their plates on the table and drew the phases of the moon in the flour.

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We used a moon board like the one here to talk about how the sun always lights up half of the moon, but we can only see part of it depending on our location on earth.  The kids really loved this board and they continue to play with it still.  I’m not sure how practical it was for me to make it considering we are done using it, but I thought it was cool and they liked it.

Bo takes this very seriously.

Bo takes this very seriously.

Maggie not so much...

Maggie not so much…

And any time I can purchase myself a treat in the name of schooling, I do.  So we used Oreo cookies to make the phases of the moon by removing some of the cream.  I was a little wary of using so many cookies to do a simple project, but my son (being smarter than me) let me know halfway through that we could have used half the cookies because when he cut the crescent moon out of the cream, it left behind a gibbous moon, so he didn’t need those extra cookies.  I swear I had not thought of that.

If you look at the bottom right, you can see that Maggie sampled the gibbous moon when I wasn't looking.

If you look at the bottom right, you can see that Maggie sampled the gibbous moon when I wasn’t looking.

Bo got some practice with his fine motor skills too.

Bo got some practice with his fine motor skills too.

Next, we did an activity that I found on this blog that she called Mystery Moons.  I took a piece of white paper and a white crayon and drew some moons on them, then the kids took watercolor paints and painted over the drawing to reveal the phase of the moon I had drawn. Bo kept getting frustrated and saying “My paint isn’t working on this part of the paper!!!” So I explained to him that was the whole point of the exercise.  The kids are so cute saying “gibbous.”

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And as if all that wasn’t enough for one day of school, we also talked about the planets.  We went through them in order from closest to the sun to the farthest from the sun.  We talked about one unique characteristic about each and did a couple of activities for some. Bo’s absolute favorite was the volcanoes we did for Venus.  We put a little bit of baking soda in a canister, added a few drops of food coloring for flair and poured in some vinegar so we could watch the eruption.  Of course, we had to do this a few times.

Maggie loved getting to pour her own vinegar.

Maggie loved getting to pour her own vinegar.

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We also talked about the winds on Neptune and used a straw to blow on the liquid left over from our eruption so we could see what the wind did to it.  Bo liked to blow on it from different angles to experiment and see how it would behave differently.

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The last thing we did was put together a Styrofoam solar system model I found on clearance at WalMart for $1.  We had to paint it and that took forever – I ended up painting most of it myself after the kids had gone to bed.  And Patrick put it together the next morning.  Bo and Maggie have proudly displayed it in their room.

Saturn and Mars are Bo's favorites.

Saturn and Mars are Bo’s favorites.  Maggie liked dwarf planet Pluto because we painted it pink.  Yes, the kit included it.  Maybe that’s why it was $1.

He really enjoyed mixing colors so that the yellow of the sun was different from the yellow of Jupiter.

He really enjoyed mixing colors so that the yellow of the sun was different from the yellow of Jupiter.

Wednesday was all about the letter M.  I know we had done this already, but I really wanted Maggie to get the M down since her name starts with it.  We started by using M&M’s to make M’s on a paper.  (I wrote the M’s first and they filled them in with candy.)

I promise I didn't let them eat ALL of those M&M's.

I promise I didn’t let them eat ALL of those M&M’s.

Then I had Maggie count and sort the M&M’s like we did with the colored goldfish at the beach.

It took a lot of prompting, but she did it!

It took a lot of prompting, but she did it!

Bo made a bar graph again like at the beach.

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He also did math with the M&M’s like we did at the beach. I gave him a worksheet with a plus sign and an equals sign.  I put M&M’s in two places and he had to fill in the third.  When we did this with goldfish at the beach, I lamented not moving the variable. (I always put the unknown after the equals sign.) But he did a great job with it when I moved the variable to a different place.  Off to algebra we go!!! 🙂

He was in the middle of this equation.  Clearly 1 + 2 does not equal 8.

He was in the middle of this equation. Clearly 1 + 2 does not equal 8.

Maggie practiced drawing M’s on the board and when she drew a particularly good one, Bo got so excited he jumped up and gave her a huge hug.  “I’m so proud of you!!!” he yelled.  So sweet.

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Bo drew some lowercase m’s on the board too.  He also did a worksheet practicing with the letter M.

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Next we practiced some preposition actions since the book talks about the cow jumping OVER the moon and three little bears sitting ON chairs.  So I would call out a preposition and they had to act it out.  They loved jumping over things.  But “through” was a harder thing to act out – but they tried!  The last thing they did was to go on an M scavenger hunt.  I gave them canisters and told them to bring me things that started with M in them.  Bo brought back “money” and Maggie (with help from Bo, I think) brought back “marbles.”

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Thursday was our Bible lesson.  Patrick read Genesis 1 to them and we talked about the seven days of creation. As he read, every time it said “good” he would play a note on the piano and the kids would shout “Uh….great?!” They really struggled with the whole “good” thing…

I wrote numbers 1-7 on the board and Patrick drew corresponding pictures to the days of creation.

Bo adding eyes to the bird on Day 5.

Bo adding eyes to the bird on Day 5.

Then we had the kids run through the days by looking at the pictures and I bribed Bo with M&M’s to do it without looking.  The boy got it on the first run.  In fact, he could also repeat it this morning – again, bribed by M&M’s.  Then we went outside to find all the things from creation that we had talked about.  The kids really needed to run around and scream about stuff.  CHICKENS ARE BIRDS!!! LEIA IS A DOG AND DOGS ARE LAND ANIMALS!!!

Chasing our doggie Leia.

Chasing our doggie Leia.

We even took extra silly pictures of ourselves for the creation of man.

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Because I couldn't pick only one.

Because I couldn’t pick only one.

Then we brought back some of the color stuff from Monday’s lesson and tie-dyed a couple of shirts.  Patrick was the artistic master mind for that project.  I had found a tie-dye kit on sale at the store and thought it would be fun.  The kids really loved it and couldn’t wait to wear their shirts.

Bo really loved the gloves.  I think he's a scientist in the making.

Bo really loved the gloves. I think he’s a scientist in the making.

On our last day with the book, we talked about phone numbers.  (The first lines of the book are “In the great green room, there was a telephone…”) We talked about mommy and daddy’s phone numbers and then practiced dialing the numbers on mommy’s phone.  Modern cell phones are so much harder for a child to operate compared to a home phone.  They had to learn how to turn the phone on and unlock it.  Then they had to find the phone app and then dial the numbers.  It was pretty crazy, but they practiced calling daddy a few times and killed the battery on my phone. (And that is why there are no pictures for this day….sorry about that.)

Then we talked about 911 and how we use that only in emergencies.  We had to talk about what an emergency is and I might have freaked Bo out a little trying to give him examples.  He said he hoped he knew how to use the phone at school in case an emergency happens there. We wrote 911 on the board.

We read the story twice on Friday once in the beginning and again to identify the rhyming pairs.  Then we rhymed back and forth with random words like “blue” and “light.”  While we were doing that, Maggie said that “dark” rhymed with “light” and so we ended up talking about opposites.  We acted out opposites like big and small and old and young.  My favorite was silly and serious.  🙂  If only I had pictures…

The last thing we did was to practice fine motor skills by using scissors to cut out M’s from a piece of paper.  Bo did pretty well, but still needs some practice. Maggie kept wanting to hold the scissors horizontally.  Our tie dyed clothes were dry, so we wore them to a picnic lunch at the lake.

Our finished tie-dyed clothes.

Our finished tie-dyed clothes.

Now every picture is a silly picture.

Now every picture is a silly picture.

A lot of what we did this week was really basic, so we’ve found ourselves reviewing all week.  We had “mush” for breakfast like mentioned in the book on Saturday morning.  To make it special, I wanted to make mush different from our regular email so I made breakfast quinoa with bananas.  They were not big fans of this.

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They are always learning to look forward to next week’s lessons.  We’ll be doing “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen.  Lots of “bear-y” interesting stuff planned.  Okay, okay…I’m ashamed of myself. But still, it should be a fun week.