Blue Christmas, Grief and Joy Combined

 

blue-christmas

Are you struggling with the joy of the season and the grief in your life? Blue Christmas?

The one thing I don’t like about social media…it only shows one moment of a person’s life.

For example…if I share a moment of homeschooling frustration will people judge homeschooling as a horrible choice?

Or…If I show this Pinterest perfect activity will people fear they can never be a success at homeschooling?

The past few months of I have struggled with being able to express that certain life events suck…yet still acknowledge that God is good.

I have sensed an underlying current that…if I vocalized that these events were horrible…then my faith was weak…I wasn’t doing a good job of praising through the storms.

The reality of my situation… COPD slowly steals quality of life… you never know when it will be a good day with breathing or a bad one. And don’t ask me to be thankful about COPD…but I will find the moments where God shows his love and care for us.

Every Wednesday I meet with my dear friend, who became a widow 6 months ago… we share moments of joy in between moments of grief. She lost her husband all of a sudden…I am losing mine moment by moment…and we think both situations stink.

blue-christmas-service

This past Sunday our church held a Blue Christmas service; both of us were unsure about going. Yet after a hard weekend taking care of Ron I texted her that I thought we should go…so we sat in the back row…ready to leave if it became to emotional.

In that sermon Pastor Kenny introduced to me the Korean concept of Han. It seems this concept doesn’t translate well…but it is the combination of sadness and hope. At that moment…he had given me a word to describe my feelings.

When we entered the service everyone was given a stone and a marker. Everyone was asked to write their grief on the rock and bring the rocks up to the altar during the service.

If I could have…I would have photographed the pile of rocks left at the foot of the cross…because it can be a comfort knowing you are not alone.

Instead of following directions…my rock came home with me.

I felt during this series of life events…I need that rock to remind me each day…I didn’t choose these events…but I can choose how to remember them.

My friend…my heart does ache for the broken hearted at Christmas time…I pray that you can find a moment of joy in between the moments of grief.

Merry Christmas…I hope 2017 allows me to return to blogging on a more regular basis.

 

Annual Sale with Bright Ideas Press

Black Friday Pumpkin Pie

 

Yes! It is time for the annual sale at Bright Ideas Press. I have been blessed with the opportunity to write and design many of the supplemental products for The Mystery of History and Illuminations.

If you have any questions you can find me in the Bright Ideas Press Facebook groups or answering questions on the Bright Ideas Press Facebook Page.

You can get 20% off most items in the store.

That means the amazing notebook pages for The Mystery of History are only $15.96 and the folderbooks are $25.60 for the full year download.

Read about supplemental products for The Mystery of History… Popular Q and A, The Mystery of History and High School, Folderbook for Volume 1, and Organizing our Notebooks.

My favorite…Illuminations can be purchased for $100.00…saving you $25.00

Not sure if Illuminations will work for your family…read my blog posts on Why I love Illuminations, What Subjects I Print, Illuminations and High School, and Illuminations, Schedules and Overwhelmed.

Civitas…my family’s new favorite game…will be on sale for $19.96. You can read about what Civitas is at the blog Civitas and World Government.

(All sale prices in this post on are my calculations and are subject to errors…thus the prices on the Bright Ideas Press website are the correct prices.)

What is NOT on sale:

  • Bundles
  • On-line classes
  • Clearance Items

bip-pumpkin-pie

 

The year of…FAILING

failing

A year ago began a year of failing…first my husband needed shoulder surgery…which turned into 4 months of being out of work. Which is why I cancelled Christmas last year.failing finances. 

A month after shoulder surgery…we discovered his O2 levels were in the 60s at night. Yes, COPD was progressing…yes he started oxygen therapy at night…failing health. 

A few weeks later I discovered out septic tank tank was failing…hopefully I could get it replaced before it collapsed completely…failing septic. 

Yes I managed to get the septic replaced and had hopes of recovering from the whirlwind. But I was only just beginning the walk through the desert.

A lump formed on my husband’s hand…the MRI wasn’t good…again he was going to be out of work…we were going to lose all benefits…more failing health and finances. 

Then the roof needed replaced…or else major repairs would be needed to fix water damage…failing roof.

Then three hours after my dear friend and her husband helped me order supplies to repair my roof…a tragic phone call came…he had been killed in an accident. Ugly crying…it bonds you to your friends…grief became part of everyday life.

While things were failing…not once did God fail me.

I looked back on the past year…a year that forever changed me…I questioned if I could still homeschool.  I learned the value of giving and receiving help…most importantly…I witnessed God bring the strength needed at just the right moment.

While my gifts are for organizing and thinking outside of the box for teaching my children…I never wanted this blog to just show the happy organized homeschool life.

Because if you have been homeschooling for at least a few weeks then you know there are days…weeks…and sadly even months that the battle is real. That the battle to be all things a mom needs to be and homeschool…can be overwhelming.

Three things I have learned walking through the mountain top and valleys of this past year:

  1. You can’t fix hard…showing up means not offering a fix…or feeling like you need the right words to say…simply just show up….offer love and be a reminder that one is never alone.
  2. How are you? I no longer ask this…I now say… It is good to see you. I can’t tell you how hard it was to answer that question going through this past year…how  much did I want to share…how real did I want to be…could I just nod when I felt so broken inside. For my dear friend watching her try to answer the question…when her heart just wanted to cry out…I lost the love my life…how am I supposed to be doing.
  3. Community carries you when your strength runs out. My dear co-worker didn’t let me give up on getting my roof replaced…friends brought food…sent cards…reminded me of God’s grace.

As I look forward to serving and loving my family…I have discovered my secret weapon…rest.

Rest is defined…cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. 

[Read more…]

Online Class for The Mystery of History

Online Class for The Mystery of History

Online Class for The Mystery of History Volume III

This year I had my homeschool mom radar on high alert for opportunities to help me provide all the subjects needed by my students. After weighing the options, I decided on placing one student in the live version and one student in the self-paced.

With the creating of The Mystery of History Online Academy I was excited to think of Linda Lacour Hobar as my personal instructor for history.

I am beyond elated that she will be providing new information and stories not in the book. That she will be clarifying and elaborating on difficult topics found in the lessons.

Mystery of History of Linda Hobar

Now at my house, the number one thing that slows down the homeschool momentum is not having a plan together.

The second…grading papers.

The third...especially homeschooling my boys… would be missed deadlines. Having my sons accountable to someone else for some of their subjects will keep us on track.

Online Class for The Mystery of History: The Plan

  • A syllabus was provided giving the structure of spending 3 days on the lessons.
  • The 4th day for mapwork, timelines, and activities.
  • Then the 5th day would be for watching the class and then taking the online quiz.
  • Over the weekend a chance to read books or watch movies.

[Read more…]

Planning WriteShop Book E in 3 Steps

A look at how I planned WriteShop Book E and organized our writing station.

Decide if you want to plan everything at the beginning of the year, or before each 3 week lesson. I usually assemble most of the supplies at the beginning of the year.

Then at the beginning of each lesson I cut and assemble any necessary pages. I am always afraid I am going to lose pieces so I keep things together until I am ready to teach each lesson.

If you are crunched for time you could do all 3 steps in one night or do one step each night.

Since I used the printed student worksheets and timesaver pack, I was able to prepare for the whole school year in one night!  [Read more…]

Civitas and World Governments

Civitas

My kids could not wait for Civitas to reach the warehouse at Bright Ideas Press! (Coupon at end of this post)

They have been playing beta versions for the last year and they were ready for the final version to arrive. They have been playing everyday since they unwrapped their box.

What is Civitas?

  • A card game to learn about different government forms.
  • Deck of 225 playing cards and 12 leadership cards
  • 8 Different kinds of government cards
    • Democracy
    • Monarchy
    • Communism
    • Theocracy
    • Pluracracy
    • Military
    • Anarchy
    • Republic
  • Geared toward the 10 and up age group

My kids love props for playing games so they chosen different hats to represent the different governments. The leader of the current government in play now wears the chosen hat for that form of government.

Hats for Civitas:

  • Democracy: First Citizen wears a laurel leaf hat.
  • Monarchy: The king or queen wears a crown.
  • Communism: The Chairman has a fur hat with ear flaps.
  • Theocracy: The Chief Cleric has a papal tiara or mitre.
  • Plutocracy: The CEO has a money hat or a hat with money stuck to it.
  • Military: Military General wears a camouflage hat or  general hat.
  • Anarchy: The Anarchist refuses to wear any hat.
  • Republic: The president has a top hat.

Your students can research which hats or props they would use after playing a few rounds of Civitas.

Civitas: Create Your Own Government

Yes blank cards are included in the deck. Currently my youngest is working on developing his own government based on what he has learned playing Civitas.

Using the cards from the deck as an example he is designing law cards, event cards and leadership cards.

I can not wait to see what he comes up with!

If you think your kids would enjoy learning I have a coupon code for you to use.

This code gives you 25% off the regular price: staceyplayscivitas

Expires 2017-05-31 

staceyplayscivitas coupon code for 25% off

staceyplayscivitas coupon code for 25% off

School choice, Oh the agony

 

I have no desire to have a homeschool vs. public vs. private school choice debate. Especially since I haven’t had the energy to blog since it was a rough year caring for my husband and more time has gone toward work to handle the extra medical expenses.

When You Want to Quit

But my heart is searching for which option is best for my son this coming school year. Can you relate? Are you trying to make decisions on school choices?

I really wish the pendulum would stop swinging between all the options. My depleted emotions can’t take much more.

I see friends who are quitting homeschooling..and I want to ask them why…but I don’t want them to feel like they have to defend their school choice.

Right now the grass looks so greener…I am struggling with burnout, while guilt and wearness clouds my mind. I don’t trust my mind to rationally analyze if quitting homeschooling is the right choice.

Having them in a school setting engaged from 8 am to 3 pm each day…seems like a dream of amazing hours of uninterrupted time.

But I have to remind myself that I will have to drive them there, we won’t have the freedom in our schedule, and they won’t have a choice in their school topics.

All the while I have friends looking to begin their homeschool journey frustrated by other school systems. They want me to share my 16 years of homeschooling wisdom. They think my grass looks greener.

Right now it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you find yourself…what matters is finding a way to have peace about your school choice.

If you are walking in circles trying to make the school choice…I wish I could give you an easy button…but since mine is broken…here are a few steps I am trying for myself.

My School Choice Steps:

  1. Rest. However it needs to happen…find the time. Don’t make the choice under exhaustion in the hopes of finding it. Recently I read a definition of rest that has altered my thinking.
    1. Rest: to stop using (something) so that it can be strong again. (Hello…can my mind get some strength back)
  2. Talk with another person. Don’t just seek out those who are doing your desired school choice. Maybe sitting down and listening to why a friend is still doing her school choice might remind you of a few things.
  3. Don’t second guess yourself. Honestly…once the choice is made…enjoy the journey. Remember: No rule says you can’t change your mind again in 6 months.

So who wants to meet for coffee and discuss my school choice? I finally slept two nights in a row.

Yes I did a search on quitting homeschooling…which reminded me…that often moms question their choices. I am not alone in that.

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Wants to Quit.

So You Really Want to Quit Homeschooling

Homeschooling Inspiration for When You Feel Like Quitting 

 

 

Giving and Receiving Help

A Few Thoughts on Giving and Receiving Help 

I haven’t blogged in awhile…you may not have noticed. That’s ok. Most readers find me by doing a search.

If you have stopped by before…maybe you remember my blog post about The Unexpected Side of Homeschooling.  Those eerie times when our read-alouds added an extra layer of schooling to our lessons.

Giving and Receiving Help

Well the beginning of this month my ladies bible study started the book, Just Show Up.

I actually already owned the book. I had bought it several months ago. See at the time I knew I was awkward and uncomfortable with saying the right or wrong thing when people are hurting.

I just knew that silence when you are hurting can’t be understood, it is faceless, void of meaning. I didn’t want to be that friend who said nothing in my fear of saying the wrong thing.

Even though I had never followed Kara’s story I wanted to read the book in the hopes of being a better giver of help. I like helping…I am comfortable with dropping off meals, cleaning up houses and taking care of extra kids.

But this week…this week I realized I am going to have to be the receiver of help. That brings many tears to my eyes.

I could sprew a line of medical terms…COPD, growths, benign, cancer, vascular…that equate to my husband’s health. This time when he goes on medical leave…we lose all his benefits. He had just returned to work from being out from shoulder surgery for 4 months…so we enter this battle in a deficit.

People ask and offer…what do you need…how can I help…Friends my mind is blank…actually my mind is hurting from life. It takes a lot of mental strength to care for my husband.

Let’s talk about the other side of recieving help…you see…I have to be brave to let you in…because when you Just Show Up…it’s going to expose you to other sides of my life. Often I am not feeling brave.

You might offer to bring a meal…and I will have to police your knowledge of food allergies…so I can keep my family safe. Then I will have to explain my youngest doesn’t eat wet meat…I don’t really even know what that means myself…but I am going to need to explain it. By this point you might be thinking you are way over your head in bringing that meal.

If you show up and do my laundry…you are going to notice a lot of things…mainly I really need to find some time to shop for new underthings.

Seriously this Just Show Up thing…it is messy. Often you can not fix it…you can’t fix the hard stuff in life.

My life is just not about caring for my husband…it is being a special needs momma, it is being a work in and out of the home wife…and a homeschooling family. Often these things have kept me from participating with community.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to live life on an island…but we know that is a lie.

So I am going to work on receiving help…because I know I can’t not walk this path alone.

In the book, they talk about this being a dance…and I am pretty sure we are going to step on each other toes…but you know…you can only step on each other toes by just showing up.

Which one are you better with…giving or receiving help? 

 

Debt Free Living for Five Years

Five Years of Debt Free Living!

Wow…has it been 5 years since we yelled “debt free”…yes that included the house! We had achieved debt free living on one average income while raising 4 kids.
Well according to my TimeHop on Facebook…it allowed me to share my photo with Dave Ramsey taken February of 2011.
Debt Free Living
I can tell you that all those skipped meals out, no cable TV, budgeting groceries, and crazy financial sacrifices that we did to become debt free…pales in comparison to the peace I have today.

Let me take a moment and fill in some details of the last 5 years…and then you can grasp how amazing that peace becomes in the midst of trials.Five years ago my husband was the main breadwinner for our family, we had chosen to live off one income so I could be home with our children. I did occasionally pick up small part time jobs to supplement the kids schooling and activities.

Then a year later my husband spent 2 weeks out of work for pneumonia. After his recovering, he noticed his lungs would hurt, like breathing a huge breath of campfire smoke. After a few months when that didn’t clear up we scheduled a visit with a pulmonologist.

After a few tests he was diagnosed with COPD. He was prescribed inhalers to help slow down the progression. With the increase in medical I began working more steadily.

His health continued to decline in the form of a tired body and often sick with respiratory issues. Eventually he went for a sleep study and because his oxygen was low at night he was put on a C-PAP machine.

Things continued to decline but now the symptoms looked more like dementia. Someday I will write about when my husband went to church and told our pastor I was divorcing him…not because things were tense but because he knew something was wrong and how could I love him if he lost his mind.

It seems the lack of oxygen mimics mild dementia. I fought for a doctor to help because at first I thought maybe it was dementia…but 3 months ago we discovered his oxygen levels were in the 70s when he slept. Now he is on oxygen and things have become stable for his health.

Let me fill in a few details of the last 5 months. My husband needed rotator cuff surgery and spent the last 4 months out of work, while he was recovering he was placed on oxygen, and our septic system failed…and I found myself with a decreased income, rising medical, and needing a new septic system.

I know these few 100 words can’t begin to express the depth of my anguish…but I remembered telling a dear friend…I feel like each of these situations is like cuts on my body and I fear I am going to bleed to death.

But in the midst of this…I didn’t have to worry about a mortgage, car payment or credit card debt….can you feel the importance of that peace?

I know it’s hard in the current moments to give up comfort things, especially when you feel you deserve them after a long week of working hard…but I am so thankful we did.

While we don’t have fancy vacation memories, better cars, or bigger investment portfolio…I have more energy to care for my husband without the stress of paying off debt.

 

Mice in the House

If the title “Mice in the House” hasn’t scared you away…read on.

Ok…I am going out on a ledge here…risking my dignity and your opinions of me. But I am thinking you need a laugh…and I have a story for you.

Maybe I should make you promise that you won’t think anything crazy about me after reading this post.

Mice in the House

Mice in the House

Yes that says “mice” and not “mouse.” We live in the country and are quite used to The Better Mousetrap. Mostly they are active in the fall when the farmer plows the field. Then there is the occasional winter trapping.

But it is February…and we hadn’t seen any mouse activity in a few weeks…until last night.

I awoke to the note in the kitchen from my husband…Red Alert…I saw a mouse by the stove and set a trap. Great…after 20 years of marriage my husband knows…Nothing Says Love More to Me Like Well Maintained Mousetraps! 

The kids and I went about our day not seeing any signs of this current invader. I went to bible study for the evening and got home around 9:30pm. My husband informed that he had just emptied the mousetrap.

Then he goes on to note that it was a black mouse…now we are used to the gray field mouse and the occasional crazy brown mouse. In our neck of the woods the brown mice are notorious for running in the middle of rooms and not along the walls. I drive my husband crazy when he has to set a line of traps to catch them.

I have seen black and white mice in pet stores but never in the wild. I wished they had taken a picture of it before removing the dead carcass…because I am skeptic at heart and wanted proof.

My husband and daughter head to bed while I head to the kitchen. I had soaked cashews earlier in the day and needed to finish making the cheese for our mac and cheese meal the next day.

I assembled all my ingredients and put the cashews in the blender to start the process. After about a minute of pulsing and running the blender…I hear the squeal and flapping of a mouse caught in the trap behind me…over the noise of the blender!

Of course I scream and run to the living room and jump on the ottoman…something about taking to higher ground calms me in a mouse scare. Seriously I know those buggers can climb…so this is solely for me to feel calmer.

My daughter comes running…she has visions that I have sprayed cashews all over the ceiling from the blender.

I keep yelling for my husband…I fear maybe we have only captured part of the mouse…which if you know…leads to them dragging mouse traps around. [Read more…]