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…]

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…]

Vision Boards for Dreaming, Goals, and Planning

Since I am a highly visual person…Vision Boards sparked my interest this year. Except I kind of skipped the feelings part of looking at things that make you happy. I needed visuals to keep me focused.

PicMonkey Collage

Honestly I have struggled with writing goals, making plans…having dreams. I have spent many years letting the circumstances of life direct my planning. Which is not a bad thing but does not provide any thoughts to doing anything beside surviving.

I am not even sure I have grasped the full understanding….but here is what I have done this year at my house.

Vision Boards for 2016

Most of the directions I read had you gathering magazines to cut out pictures that inspired you. Since I don’t have magazines and honestly didn’t expect to find what visuals I wanted, I switched to a plan B.

I gave my boys a sheet of paper divided into sections labeled:

  • learn
  • money
  • school
  • fun
  • spiritual
  • books

I had them think of 2 to 4 things for each section. I felt like I was combining goals and dreams on one board. I tried to help them keep some items measurable like save $200 and exercise 2 hours a week. When they write their school plans each week they can remember to add the time for their goals. [Read more…]

Clean Slate for 2016!

For all the people who choose words for their years.

Well the title of the blog post…

Clean Slate Happy New Year

“Clean Slate” for 2016

really gives away the punch line for the word(s) I have choosen for 2016. I know you probably do not remember that 2015 my word was “stones” and 2014 my word was “squirrel.” It seems I do not like those flowery abstract words like grace, faith, or courageous.

I need a visual reminder…I need to see what my goal is for choosing the word. My pile of stones still decorates my shelf in my living room. I failed often in 2015 with getting those most important items at the top of my list. I almost think my stones were tied to a pendulum and I swung between extremes. Might be why I have not blogged lately.

Why I choose Clean Slate:

  1. Holy cow…it has been a struggle to keep past fears and failures from affecting my decisions. I spent way too much time in 2015 beating myself up for not being a better homeschool mom, or not getting enough hours in at the office, forgetting to read my devotions or ever getting my clothes put away.  I want to start my mornings with a clean slate…not allow yesterday’s issues to overshadow today. 
  2. My husband’s health has really rocked my world this year. I never know if my day will include a husband who can not breath and needs extra rest, a husband who is confused and not thinking clearly or a husband who you would never know had any health issues. I want each morning with him to start with a clean slate, and not expectations. I want to write on my slate for him that no matter how sick he gets he is worthy to be loved…his identity is in Christ.
  3. I really want to be the parent who offers a clean slate to her children. I want them to see that even if they break something, have a meltdown, or fail…that it does not have to follow them around forever. A certain child at my house has a reputation of being irresponsible…my other children have taken to being really strict with things…I have to remind them that opportunities still need to be offered for the child to learn responsibility…this is not 3 strikes at you are out. Cover that slate with grace! 
  4. Enter the hallelujah chorus…Jesus paid it all…all my sins are forgiven. My clean slate is washed white as snow…or wait…then it would be a white board. No worries…I bought a doubled sided slate. Now to focus on renewing my mind every morning…visualizing my clean slate.

Clean Slate

Clean Slate…fresh start…even if the last 20 years of writing goals has ended in failures…I can still try again. There has always been lessons learned in the journey.

The biggest lesson I learned this past year…that the trials have a way of pushing me off track but taking a moment to talk with friends about the situations helps me to refocus my thoughts. Because sometimes I feel like I can not see the track but I just need to turn my eyes slightly to see it.

Happy New Year…Clean Slate Here I Come!

 

 

Unexpected Side of Homeschooling

Unexpected Side of Homeschooling…have you ever experienced it?

*Warning…Reading this could cause you to second-guess unit studies…Continue at your own risk.

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the mixing of everyday life with school lessons.

Unexpected Side of Homeschooling

When you are on vacation and your mom mentions in a casual conversation that the near-by lake at one time was the largest man made lake. The homeschool mom in you jumps at the chance to tie in your current geography lesson. In 20 minutes you and the kids begin exploring the lake and discussing your World Fact File with North Star Geography.

Oh the amazing way working allows your son to form a relationship with the Postmaster at the local post office.  My son often accompanies me when I need to mail packages for work. When Batman stamps came out she made special arrangements to get him a sheet. Of course he had to write a thank you letter for his first writing assignment for the new school year.

But there can be an unexpected side of homeschooling; an eerie side to the unit studies.

Circumstances that make you nervous about what subject to teach next. Might even cause your husband to ask that you strongly consider how the next study will affect life at your house.

When you study electricity and your washing machine has an electrical short and catches on fire. Then you try to move the washer outside and water from the drum dumps on the floor. Now you can discuss how water conducts electricity.  Once the machine is outside you have a great opportunity to show a burned circuit board and a chance to take apart the washing machine. [Read more…]

Giveaway! Thank you

If you are like me you have already started thinking about the busy fall schedule. Since most of us have just survived back to school we might be dragging a little on planning ahead.
I thought it would be a great idea to join ranks with a group of bloggers to provide a chance for two winners to receive a new iPad mini. Use it for school, use it to plan for the holidays or give it has a gift to someone at Christmas.
Thank you for stopping by my little place on the web. It brings me joy to be able to share my homeschooling adventures with you.
The giveaway runs from September 27th through October 11th. 
Please comment to enter and use additional entries to increase your chances of winning!
The Necessary Giveaway Disclosure: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the United States and Canada, who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and all other U.S. territories and wherever prohibited by law.  Subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Decisions of Sponsor are final on all matters pertaining to Sweepstakes. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and decisions of Sponsor. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or in association with, Facebook or Twitter. Entrants are providing their information to Sponsor and not to Facebook or Twitter. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or in association with, Apple. The information entrants provide to Sponsor will only be used to select a winner for this promotion and to receive future promotional emails from Sponsor. Entrants may opt out from receiving those emails from Sponsor at any time.

Accepting Limits, Balancing Home and Work

 

The day I realized I really didn’t have it all together...was the day I knew I needed to start accepting limits…really my body and mind was going to force me to accept them. I signed up to work full-time for the month of August while getting things together to start our homeschooling.

Accepting Limits, How I recovered from a meltdown.

Actually the day started more with a huge meltdown…I could no longer make decisions, even simple decisions. I had Decision Fatigue…and I am sure I had it before but stubbornness kept me from noticing. Physically my exhaustion had taken a toll on my body and mind. Then I started feeling sorry for myself because I could not go hang out at the pool every afternoon with my friends. Hello huge cloud of depression hanging over me.

In my mind I was never going to let working affect how I homeschooled. I never wanted to become the carpenter whose house has undone projects, or the hairdresser whose family needs haircuts for weeks. I was confident I could work full time and homeschool full time when the time came to make the transition. I have been juggling part-time work for a few years. Instead of accepting limits I would clock 13 hours before and after a day off to take my kids on a field trip. 

The back story, the one I do not share often, my husband was diagnosed a few years ago with COPD. I have watched it affect his quality of life. When you limit oxygen to the body it affects your energy level and brain clarity. We have to limit activities because if his body gets tired he becomes more prone to getting sick, which then makes breathing even harder.  When he can not breathe then he gets more confused. 

In less than two years I will transition to full-time work since my husband will retire early due to health reasons. Yes I will still have 2 boys at home who need to finish their homeschooling and 2 young adults in college.

Now you know the highlights of how I found myself crying in my bed one morning declaring…I WAS DONE. Honestly at the moment I did not know what I was done with…just that I wanted to be removed from all situations. [Read more…]

Blessings of Including a New Homeschooling Family

 

Yes I am beginning my 16th year of homeschooling. Honestly we have a school routine, we know what activities the kids want, and what school books work at our house. How quickly I check the box on what needs to be done and move forward with the old established routine.

The downside to that established routine…doesn’t leave room for anything new…including interacting with a new homeschooling family.

Including a New Homeschooling Family

Okay I am going to publicly declare that I am veteran homeschooling momma even though I am pretty sure my oldest was just in Kindergarten not that long ago. Oh the denial of becoming the older woman. 

Since this school year I am reaping the benefits of having a brand new homeschooling family in my life…I wanted to share them with you. [Read more…]