Our Curriculum Choices for 2017-2018

Our Curriculum Choices for this school year.

Each year I stand amazed that I still agonize over selecting curriculum. But I was not blessed with children who learned the same way or could use the same curriculum over again.

The changes in my life have slowly changed my methods of homeschooling. You will notice I have outsourced and sought out help to juggle homeschooling, working full time, and managing my home. My husband’s health prevents him from helping in most areas.

11th Grade Curriculum Choices

My son is planning on trade school so we continue to strive for the best academics that fit his needs and abilities. While he may never attend college I still strive to expose him to subjects and prepare him for whatever choices he decides to make.

  • Algebra 1: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press. We have spent the first 2 years of high school solidifying his math skills. We are going to be stretching ourselves to complete this class. Next year we will switch gears and do business math and personal finance.
  • Spanish 1: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press: We have tried for 2 years to complete Spanish. My hope of having accountability with another teacher will get this subject completed.
  • All American History: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press: I had planned on teaching this class but when an opportunity to switch classes opened up I found myself putting both boys in this history class. The history teacher raps, my boys are impressed with her.
  • English: Who Dun It: My daughter has agreed to teach English to her brother this year. She has a passion for literature. Recently her college was attempting to recruit her for tutoring for English, I am very thankful she has agreed to help me. I am going to attend their monthly book club meetings and I look forward to the discussions.
  • Physical Science: Advanced Physical Science: I found this at a recent homeschool convention. The project based learning really appealed to me. I am excited to spend Friday mornings doing labs with the boys.
  • Mime: Louder Than Words: Every Wednesday afternoon my children have attended Louder Than Words. This group provides mentorship, bible study, leadership, volunteering, and performing arts.
  • Music: Guitar and Piano Lessons: He loves his weekly lessons for piano and guitar. He loves playing guitar for worship time at mime and youth group.

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Embracing Overwhelm

Why I am embracing overwhelm instead of battling overwhelm.

Overwhelm
What does overwhelm mean? The Definition of overwhelm: to overpower the thoughts, emotions, or senses of. 
Pretty sure womanhood, motherhood, homeschoolhood, and all the “hoods” combine together to overpower my life.
I have allowed the feelings of overwhelm to beat-up my mental psyche for the past few years. I felt like I was doing something wrong in life to always feel overwhelmed.
I have stopped looking for tips and tricks to do more in my day, to keep hustling, to get up earlier as though something exists to help me accomplish more in the battle of being overwhelm. I don’t have the power to change my husband’s health, diminish the needs of my kids, or quit my job and give up homeschooling.
I will never conquer being overwhelmed and I don’t want to battle anymore!
I will carry it differently.

[Read more…]

Happy Mother’s Day, Strong Silent Type

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who society thinks is doing a great job despite painful situations life has given them. Do you know a woman who you think has done exceptionally well after losing her husband, or a child, or battling a nasty illness? Maybe you are that woman. 

Have you ever said, “Wow you are doing well despite (insert specific situation).” Maybe you have been told that.

I think we often assume that these strong women have somehow found a way to battle grief, depression or hard situations because we don’t see the emotional scars. We don’t see the tears shed while taking a shower. We don’t notice the broken heart hiding behind the smile.

Not that these women are trying to be deceitful, they grieve and hurt in small bursts often unnoticed. Often small bursts of emotions is all that can be handled for fear of being entirely consumed.

These women are still serving, still reaching out to help others because they are all too familiar with the pain life has given them to leave others battling alone.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who battled to get out of bed today. No one witnessed the internal battle that it took to start another difficult day but it still exists.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who battle their fears by showing up and doing the hard things.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who collapse silently in the pew with their battle wounds from the week craving the salve of worship and fellowship.

I want to remind all of us to take a moment and realize that the strong woman you might want to put on a pedestal for handling difficult situations while still getting dinner on the table; might just need a shoulder to cry on.

I know a lot of weary moms who are handling situations most of us can’t even begin to understand how they are doing it.

Maybe send them a text with a smiley face and random emojis for a laugh.

Maybe send them some dinner just because you know they could use a moment to themselves.

Maybe just remember that the”strong woman” needs help and compassion just like the damsel in distress.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends 🙂

Happy Mother's Day

 

 

Working and Homeschooling While Staying Frugal

Working and Homeschooling While Staying Frugal

Working and Homeschooling; While Staying Frugal

After 17 years of homeschooling, the biggest change has been homeschooling while being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling while being an employed mom; all while trying to live a frugal lifestyle.

In the early years of homeschooling my 4 children; my goal was their education and finding every economical way I could save money.

  • Since that was schooling before Pinterest, I would spend time creating lesson plans from scratch.
  • I would organize co-ops to keep costs down on group activities.
  • I spent my Saturday mornings scouring yard sales for books and educational items.
  • I would barter with friends for babysitting.
  • I would coupon shop and read The Complete Tightwad Gazette into the wee hours of the night.

Over the past few years, the reality of our situation changed with the diagnosis of my husband with COPD. Keeping up with the medical bills and expenses of kids in college has proven too much for a single income.

At first I worked part-time to keep my self in the job market ready to go full-time when my husband could no longer work. But in order to keep current with the needs of the family I have increased my hours to almost full-time.

My biggest goal is to strive toward my income going toward the budget and not for convenience items because now I don’t have the time for every frugal idea. 

  • I now buy curriculum that can be easily planned or online classes.
  • My kids still enjoy group activities but instead of being present I offer support to the group in other ways.
  • I spend my Saturday mornings homeschooling and my afternoons working.
  • I shop thrift stores instead of going to yard sales.
  • There is not a lot of time for bartering these days, but occasionally it works.
  • I shop at Aldis instead of coupon shopping.

While most of our expenses to homeschool have increased because of being employed, I feel I have done my best to get the most out of the situation. You just have to crunch the numbers.

For example an online class can cost $500 for year, divided by 32 weeks, you are paying $16 a week. I know each on-line class saves me 3 hours a week in planning, teaching and grading.

I know our biggest budget buster is groceries. I focus all my time on this one area. My kids help me every 6 weeks prep 30 freezer meals. We rarely eat out or buy convenience food. Thankfully my kids know the biggest challenge for me is to have dinner on the table after putting in a 12 hour day with jobs and homeschooling.

I love to hang clothes on the line but if I get behind on the laundry I will use the dryer. I try to let some of the little frugal things slide. Instead of beating myself up over using the drying I focus on the 4 loads that did make it to the clothes line.

It is a constant juggling act and evaluating of frugal choices with how much time I have in a day. 

Are you working and homeschooling? Do you have a great tip to share on getting things done?

 

Lost and Found, A Book Review

Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace by Kendra Fletcher


My friends just lifted an eyebrow and took notice of this blog title. I am not a book reader, I prefer hands-on learning over books any day. I wrestle with words and grammar to connect and share my thoughts with my friends and hope to leave them encouraged. So me writing a book review will be a few steps out of my comfort zone.

I met Kendra Fletcher a few years ago at a blogging conference. I was coming to the dinner hour late and most of the spots at the tables had been filled, so I was eager to find an empty area to quietly slip into and eat. Kendra, her husband Fletch, and Carol-Ann took notice of my choosing to eat alone and quickly invited me to join them. I am always grateful for people who invite others to join them.

Over the years at other blogging conference I would get the honor to sit with Kendra and hear bits and pieces of her story. She would share stories of her son, Mighty Joe. She would share her heart as she struggled to be a godly mom. 

Last summer when Kendra announced her book would be published I made a mental note for 2017 to be the year I would read a few books and Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace found the number one position on my list.

What I didn’t know was that I would read her book while sitting in PACU waiting for a doctor to give me information about my own son. While my heart bonded to her medical stories and I related to the fear of when the ER staff begins reviewing past trips and questioning your ability to care for your children…I was grateful for her reminders that God has my back.

Even more important than sharing the medical details of her life…were the details of how God changed her heart and reminded her of  her identity in Christ. 

The one paragraph from her book that I loved…We had to have Jesus plus our Reformed theology. Jesus plus our choice to homeschool our children. Jesus plus my decision to be a stay-at-home mom. Jesus plus giving our family size over to God. Jesus plus supporting missions, giving to our church, attending Bible studies. Again, we believed wholeheartedly that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but we just continued on, wanting to do something. Surely Jesus hadn’t paid it all. (Excerpt from Lost and Found) 

Often as moms we need that reminder, while we desire to do our best job raising our kids…ultimately we are not the ones in control of the outcome…our kids have free will and God has a plan. I am not a great parent if all my children stay in the faith, I am not a bad parent if all my children walk away from the faith…but I am the parent in the trenches fighting for their hearts and pointing them to the truth.

Grab a copy of Lost and Found and a cup of tea or coffee and take a moment to refuel your mind and soul.

I was thankful that day sitting in PACU alone that I had this book as a reminder that while I might have been physically alone, Jesus still had my back, still cares for my situation, and always loves me.

After you read the book you might want to know the rest of story of what happened after Kendra found her infant son near death, ran over her daughter with the family van and almost lost her daughter to a ruptured appendix. Good news, Kendra will be blogging about those details, just follow the link to her website and sign-up at KendraFletcher.com

 

8 Signs That You Might Be an Overwhelmed Woman

8 Signs That You Might Be an Overwhelmed Woman

Overwhelmed Woman

Not that I have done any great research on the topic but I might have experience with a few of these signs.

Since I find these signs can muster up a small chuckle…I shall share my list on being an overwhelmed woman.

*Warning it might be a tad TMI

  1. When you are constipated NOT because you haven’t eaten enough fruits or drank enough water BUT because you have not had time to actually “sit down” to get that job done.
  2. When you get summoned for jury duty and it sounds like a really nice vacation. Sitting in a room where you have no responsibility and you could stare at a wall and daydream.
  3. When your mammogram paper is collecting dust on the back of your desk because you are convinced that juggling one more doctor appointment will land you in the loony bin.
  4. When you see a meme on Facebook that mentions donating leg hair for wigs and you laugh hysterically about that becoming a goal you could achieve.
  5. When your friends publicly announce that they stand ready to fund an account for your bail…just in case your day might find you in need.
  6. When friends find you napping in public places and are kind enough to not disturb you…only secretly take your photo.
  7. When reading posts on being overwhelmed is the closest thing you come to self-care.
  8. You are okay with this list really only having 7 signs since that is one less thing to worry about.

I do think I have some friends out there who can relate with being an overwhelmed woman…don’t worry if you chuckled reading the list…there is still hope…that is an amazing thing.

Humor is a great balm to the hard overwhelming days. At least that is my plan for getting through the trials.

 

Thank You! My word for 2017

My word for 2017…Thank You!

I know being thankful is often discussed…giving thanks…focusing on saying thank you…not relatively new ideas.  But here is why these two words are taking on a new meaning for me in 2017.

See, in 2016 I found myself saying…”I am sorry”…a whole bunch.

I am sorry I was late…sorry mommy forgot to fill out the paper…sorry mommy forgot to buy that at the store…sorry I didn’t remember to do that.

I have been beating myself up over and over for not being super woman mom and handling all that life throws at me with homeschooling, working, and caring for my husband.

Maybe you do the same thing? Trying to battle a little mom guilt here.

Here is the original cartoon that was written last year on Say Thank You Instead of I am Sorry.

For some reason I never saw the cartoon until 3 days ago…it was like a huge illuminating light went off in my head…hey I feel like I am saying I am sorry all the time. It only took about 5 seconds for my heart to know that would be my word for 2017.

In 2017 I want to say: [Read more…]

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.

 

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?