Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Where I am right now...

Do you ever feel like a turtle trying to run down the middle of a trench filled with peanut butter and molasses?  That is what I feel like right now.  Absolutely paralyzed by the sheer volume of all that I have to do in a day.  My house is a mess, I cannot find the read aloud when it is time to read aloud, we ate fast food again last night because I forgot to plan for dinner, and I have gained too much weight.  Again.  I just can't seem to make much, if any, forward progress on too many things.

I am reading a book from the library right now called Atomic Habits and he said something that really struck a cord with me: a lot of our goal making is centered around just that - the goal, the end achievement of weighing x amout of weight, or running that race or this race, or getting the house cleaned up so that so and so can come over...on and on it goes.  But when you reach the apex of what you were shooting for, more times than not you end up back where you began or even further back from where you began.  This perfectly describes much of my life.  Why is that?  Well, when I put my thoughts together regarding this book I will hopefully do a post about it.

We made beef stew (in the crockpot) this weekend, homemade chicken fajitas (in the skillet) on whole wheat tortillas, and a creamy garlic chicken and squash dish (in the Instapot).  On Monday I made whole wheat snickerdoodles - they weren't bad, and yesterday I made fudge.  It was really cold with heavy gray skies here, so I decided that we needed a batch of fudge.  My thighs did not need the batch of fudge, but I enjoyed it anyway.  There are really only a few months out of the entire year here that are good for baking (it simply gets TOOOOO hot!), so I tend to take full advantage of the cooler months 😉.

For one on one time today, we are working on antecedents and personal pronouns, integers and multiplication for one person this morning, multiplication and division and then reading and discussing a chapter of Sense and Sensibility for another, and addition and subtraction and the Barton Method for my youngest.  This afternoon, instead of art class with friends, we are going to find out what atoms and molecules have to do with DNA, who were the first scientists and how did what they did then affect what we do and know now.  We are going to read some more about George Mueller and read another few chapters of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and listen to our audio book The Wolf Princess.  OH.MY.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this audiobook.  My oldest child chose it with her Christmas money and 💗💗💗 I am really glad she insisted that we listen to it!!  Then, if time permits, we will do a bit of history and find out how Islam became an empire, read the rest of the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" and hopefully write some responses to what we read.  If we don't get to that today, we will start tomorrow's afternoon session off with history, the fairy tale, and the writing assignment. 

In the middle of all of this, I need to clean my house, like seriously, desperately need to clean it, I need to finish reading a report from a neuropysch test for one of my kids, I need to finish reading Atomic Habits, work on a prayer study I am doing, figure out dinner, and help my kids through rough spots and meltdowns, take care of our pets, do some just never ends. 

But, as I typed that last paragraph, I realized that while many of these things can and do bring frustration, they bring an abundance of joy.  These days are precious and treasures of the rarest beauty.  I love getting to homeschool my girls. I love to read reports and get new ideas of how best to serve and help them and I really, REALLY love read aloud time! 

Hope you have a beautiful Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Well hey there...

This week is one of those crazy weeks where we are running to and fro, lots of doctor appointments, a class with friends, lessons...*sigh* I cannot wait until Friday when I can crawl into bed and know that the weekend is here and snuggle with my dog(s) and my man and watch a movie with my girls.  Oh and drink a cup of piping hot, hot chocolate.  With whip cream on top.  Definitely with the whipped cream! And some chocolate shavings.

But until then...this week is in full swing...

I have been intrigued by the idea of habit stacking for a while.  I have these goals I want to meet, but with the chaos of our lives, it seems almost impossible to meet even a single one of them.  To that effect, I signed up for a waiting list at our library to read this book called Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear.  Have you heard of this book?  I was put on a six week + waitlist, but to my surprise, on Sunday evening (just three weeks after I put it on hold!), I got a notification it was ready and waiting for me!!  Yippee!!!!  Before even beginning the first chapter I realized something...

I realized that I am sad that I have let my blog go.  It isn't about the blog per se, it is about the bigger issue this realization pointed to: I have basically stopped writing.  I love to write stories and notes and to journal...but I realized this past month that pretty much the only writing I do anymore has to do with lesson planning or in the making of charts/index cards for our homeschool and one or two lines in my five-year diary. 

I have gotten out of the habit of writing. 

I am one of those people that needs to write.  I learn better that way, I memorize a TON better after I write it vs. reading it to myself or out loud.  I process life better that way, even if it is boring or humiliating or makes me roll my eyes at my own stupidity...I live life better if I jot down my thoughts and dreams and experiences along the way.  I pray better, I am a better wife, mom, teacher...

I think it is because I always have so many words tumbling around in my heart and if I don't spill them out onto paper through ink or a keyboard, then they roll and rumble inside of me, usually creating a mountain out of a molehill.  My sweet husband is my soundboard, my safe place.   I will talk and talk and talk and he will listen patiently to all of my words gushing forward...he is awesome.  But I realized this morning that I still need to write these words down in order to organize them, process them, and either let them go or use them to spring from where I am to where I want to go.

So, in the interest of habits, I want to create a small one.  I want to commit to meeting here at this blog each Wednesday morning, and I want to write.  It may be boring or whiny or somewhere in between, either way, I want to commit to the habit of writing at least one morning a week and I have picked Wednesdays.

I hope your week is awesome, I hope we survive ours - ha!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

So a New Year is here...

And my girls and I are back home.

This post will be random and jumbled, because that is exactly what my thoughts are right now...random and jumbled 😉

We were gone for almost a month and my mom still does not have definitive answers as to why what is happening happened.  (did that sentence make any sense?!)  The girls and I might travel back out there if needed, but for now, we are home.

It was awesome to come home to see my husband!!  That moment when he walked outside to see us when we pulled up, there is nothing like it 💖.  It was weird to come home and take down and put up all of the decorations, to have missed the holidays completely - SO weird!

The girls got the cutest book - Cilla Lee-Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan.  We read a little aloud each day as my mom felt like it, we LOVED this book!!  We took our little chihuahua with us, since he used to be my grandmother's dog (she passed away a few years ago) and lived with my mom until we brought him home with us.  It was nice to have one of our little guys with us, but we missed the others terribly.  My husband was a rock star and kept the zoo in check ❤ .

My word for 2019 is quiet.  I have been thinking about this word for a while.  What it means to quiet my soul before the Lord, to wait quietly for Him, to remain quiet when I want to speak (so hard for me!)...Quiet is not something that comes naturally to me.  My word last year was holy and I feel like I completely bombed it.  I didn't forget about it, I didn't fail to think about it, I just failed to implement any type of plan to pursue holiness.

I found the neatest thing while we were in KY.  It is a book called Question a Day, a Three Year Journal.  Monday through Friday I ask my girls the question and write it under 2019.  Saturday and Sunday my husband is asking the question.  It will be SO neat to see how they change each year.

About five or six years ago I saw this idea on a blog somewhere about tracing the handprint of each kid in January and selecting a scripture or two to write on that handprint to pray over them for the year.  I LOVE doing this in January, when the girls are grown I am going to attach the handprints together and make a book for them.  I fully intend to trace their hands and pray over them well into adulthood.  One of the main scriptures I am praying this year for them is Ephesians 2:10.  I ♡ LOVE♡ LOVE ♡ LOVE ♡ that promise.

Well, we were home for less than a week when we had to take one of our rabbits to the vet for a UTI.  Life does not slow down, even when you feel overwhelmed.  Oh and I dropped my iPhone about a week before we left and the screen shattered.  My husband has been letting me borrow his, it is SO weird to use someone else's phone, but I am SO incredibly thankful that he is SO generous and kind 😍.  I hope to get my screen repaired in the next few weeks. 

Hope your new year is off to a beautiful beginning.  Please keep praying for my mom, thank you SO much for praying!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Please Pray

I brought my girls with me to KY because my mom fell twice last week.  She is very sick and I would appreciate it so much if you would pray for her.  My husband stayed home to hold down the fort with our “farm/zoo/circus” of animals.  I am deeply concerned about her, this week will hopefully yield some answers.  She has several tests we are waiting on phone calls to schedule.  Waiting is by far the most difficult part of any medical process. If you could pray first and foremost for her, that she’d feel better, her body would heal itself, that the offices would call and schedule timely appointments this week, that her doctor would review all of the information and proceed with wisdom and compassion and accuracy, and secondly that my girls and I will be of help and comfort to her, as we bring our own medical struggles with us that can be stressful.  Thank you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Reading, Listening, Watching...

This month I have been reading My One Word by Mike Ashcraft.

I have been listening to 'Christmas' at Downton Abbey on repeat and occasionally my Pandora Christmas station.

I have been enjoying my lighted blossom tree from Hobby Lobby that my husband and kids bought for me last year for my birthday, with a cinnamon candle burning early in the mornings while I sip a cup of hot chocolate or decaf coffee.

I have been working on making some adjustments in our homeschool path due to some more testing and medications and diagnoses.  I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the book Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp.  She makes it SO much easier to write down goals and to double check our targets and projection paths.

I have been reading aloud picture books.  I am a firm believer that you are NEVER too old for picture books.  I have found that some of the MOST incredibly whimsical, magical, and absolutely beautiful artwork can be found nestled in the pages of a picture book.  I have also found that picture books are a great way to break up hard days.  Some of our favorites this week are Fall of Freddy the Leaf, How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World.  We are also reading an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, while not a picture book but a short story by Louisa May Alcott, I find that her use of language paints the most delightful pictures in your mind.

Speaking of Louisa May Alcott, one of my children is an avid Louisa May Alcott fan so we are re-reading Little Women together.  *sigh* I LOVE Little Women!!!  My other two are not so much, so we are reading The Great Turkey Walk aloud together.

We have added a few movies to our Christmas drawer, have I mentioned how VERY much we LOVE Christmas movies?!?!  Hallmark, cartoons, old-fashioned black and white movies...*sigh*  

And finally, there are several amazing things I have discovered from following Sarah Clarkson's Instagram page.  I know I did a post a few months ago about how much I adore Sarah Clarkson and her new book, but let me just say one more time, if you have not read her blog or seen her Instagram page...please take the time to do that!!!  Anyway, I think it was last month?  But Sarah told her readers about David Suchet reading the Gospel of Mark.  OH.MY.  I did not realize why his voice was so familiar to me, but my kids have two audio books that he narrates and I absolutely LOVE his voice!  I know he is also a well-known actor, but I don't think I have seen any of his movies, series, or plays.  But I bet he is incredible!!!  Within that same post, she talked about this song by Andrew Peterson. ' Is He Worthy?'  I have listened over and over to this song, it is so beautiful.

I have also been reading aloud the Story of Redemption by Crossway - it was a free pdf download and we have been reading it almost every day, using our Bible Timeline and Maps to trace the epic story God is proclaiming.  We have paired it with 'He Is' by Aaron Jeoffrey

We are getting ready to start Hallelujah by Cindy Rollins (&others).  I cannot wait.  We are kind of eclectic when it comes to our walk with God.  I LOVE my Jewish heritage while also proclaiming the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. 

Interspersing these things in between math and Barton Method and grammar and anatomy and music and art has made all the difference in the world in the midst of a hard season.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

More Than Enough

This has been a hard year. 

As we are on the cusp of a holiday that is so often about giving thanks in the midst of the hard, I have thought more and more about God's faithful provision and direction.  Even though this year has been brutal, He has proved faithful.  So many times it truly is in the looking back that we can most clearly see His hand stretched across our lives when it felt like we were stumbling along in the darkness.

1) 2018 dawned and we were cautiously optimistic about the direction our year would take.  However, it did not take long for a situation to arise that tested our optimism.  My daughter's puppy had been sick for a while and seemed to be getting sicker and losing weight to the point that he looked neglected and abused.  I kept praying for this puppy to make it, to thrive.  After the service dog failure, it felt like too much to be going through this.  It culminated in a Sunday emergency vet trip, an emergency surgery, and a month of eating peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles to pay for those...but through that, we found an AMAZING vet office and people we could trust with our pets.

2) Just a little over a month later my other daughter's beloved 8yo rabbit was discovered to have a tumor and needed surgery.  The vet office that we had found through Arendale's emergency surgery, specifically the vet who did his surgery, her specialty is exotic pets.  She would be able to do Stuart's surgery.  The only downfall was that surgery would need to be a few days before my eldest's 16th birthday.  This bunny is so much more than a pet to her, what an awful way to celebrate your 16th birthday, right?!?!  But we prayed over this little guy and sent him into surgery.  The surgery itself was successful, we were relieved and brought him home.  Then the night before she turned 16., he went downhill.  We thought for sure we were losing the little guy.  I prayed, I asked everyone I knew to pray, my kids and my husband prayed.   I stayed up most of the night syringing water into his mouth and praying like crazy.  God was merciful and he pulled through.  Ended up that it was such an amazing testament to God's goodness, I am glad this happened right at her 16th birthday, it's like a mile marker in her life she can look back to and say 'WOW - look what God did!'

In all of this we thought for sure that the worst was over, that better days were on the horizon.

3)  Then we caught a cold.  Which landed us in the ER twice in one night with one of my children.  Then our 14yo dog somehow hurt his leg.  Which landed us back at the vet repeatedly over the next few weeks, with me wondering if we were going to have to put him down.  At this point, it felt like TOO much.  What was God doing here?  Why were things so hard?  Then we got sick again.  And again.  And yet again.  At this point our pharmacy was seeing us every single day, the UTC was on a first name basis with us, and I am thinking that I want to stick my head in a vat of chocolate.  But each step, looking back, everyone EVERY single person we came into contact with was compassionate and kind, encouraging and so helpful.  Well everyone except for our Primary Care Doctor, which led us to look for someone else...anyone else.  It took a few rough first visits to meet different doctors until we found a doctor that we LOVE!  I am SO excited about this new primary care doctor.  We have to drive about an hour to see her, but it is worth it.  Again in what seemed like a crazy 'why is this happening on top of everything else' moment, God brought us to someone SO much better and with all of the medical issues that we have, we needed a good, solid, trustworthy PCP.

4) After we somewhat recover from the craziness of the first six months of 2018 we traveled to get some testing completed for another one of my children.  We discover that she is severely/profoundly dyslexic.  Together she and I are going to have to go through a very rigorous tutoring program (she as the student, and me as the tutor being trained how to help her).  We were supposed to be there a week, but by Wednesday I start to get a really sore throat and it hurts when I cough.  I kid you not, we get sick AGAIN.  And then again and again and again.  We are back at the UTC (we had not found the new dr yet) and pharmacy and in bed until the end of July.  

5) This craziness sets off all of the chronic underlying issues for my kids.  Issues such as autism, severe OCD, anxiety and panic attacks, cortical dysplasia epilepsy, learning challenges and processing issues, dyslexia, migraines, tics, vertigo that mysteriously lasts for six to seven months at a time, sensory issues, meltdowns, mood disorders secondary to the epilepsy, and one of my children is intermittently wheelchair bound, some days able to walk and run and play, while on other days mostly confined to her chair.  My children have seen more doctors, specialists, and therapists and gone through more testing this year than I can keep straight.  Most of our appointments are at least an hour away - one way.  Some as far as two hours away - one way.  So as we are trying to do school, live life, take care of the pets that bring us so much joy...we are traveling to doctor appointments.  Trying new therapies and medicines and ideas.  All of which has been SO hard for most of my children because they do not do well with interrupted schedules and trying new things and meeting new people and needles and medicine and textures and  I am so very tired.  But God.  I started 2018 indifferent it seemed to my walk.  I had lost my direction, my drive.  I have drifted through 2018 questioning God's goodness, fighting His plan, complaining about His direction...But God.  He has been so faithful.  Looking back - we have gotten to and from the appointments safely.  We have had gas money and co-pay money - we are paying out of pocket for some of our appointments because insurance will not cover and we have had enough at just the right moment.  For example...

6) We had a yearly appointment at our home this past week.  This organization has been very difficult to work with.  Just this year, they kept scheduling appointments on days when I told them we were unavailable, I explained to them over and over and over about how crazy our schedule is with doctor appointments - how chronic the medical issues are right now etc; to no avail.  To make a long story short we had an appointment scheduled by the manager herself for this past Tuesday afternoon.  I cleared our schedule, we made sure our house was clean and ready and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I did not make dinner, still waiting for them to show up.  Finally, I called and the manager is supposed to call me 'right back' - so I wait some more.  My husband runs to get food for us (which my dinner was a hamburger and when he got home - there was NO meat on my bun.  Seriously.)   The manager never called back, which leads to me trying to contact her and the corporate office, trying to scramble to get them here when we would be home (this appointment has to be done by the end of November and next week is a short week due to Thanksgiving). This all culminated in me deciding to no longer go with this company for their services, which frees up quite a bit of money - which will cover paying out of pocket for two doctor appointments on the same day for two of my kids next month.  In the mess, God was providing something we were going to need.  I had no idea we were going to need that appointment in December, I found out about it the afternoon of the 14th - the day after the person failed to show up at our house.

In all of this, I praise God.  His is mindblowing.  If I could take one lesson from this season it would be this:  I need to grab a hold of Him and not let go because no matter what it looks like, no matter what it feels like - God has a plan and it is for our good.  And if I could just learn to rest in His presence each moment, He will most likely give me the gift of being able to look back and see His hand all over what felt impossible at the moment.  But even if He doesn't He has given me Himself which is more than enough.  He is more than enough.  

Happy Thanksgiving 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Thy Will Be Done

This has been a hard year.

We have hard years before, but it always seems harder when you are going through it, and this feels like the hardest of hards.  I am tired.  I am SO SO SO SO SO tired.  My kids are tired.  We have been to more doctors and therapy appointments in the past ten months than I think I have in my entire collective 42 years.

And I have had five surgeries.

And three kids.

And dance injuries.

And I was sick a loooooooooooooooot as a kid.

I feel wrung out by the end of the day, but inevitably God wakes me up the next morning ready to face it all over again.  That can only be explained by God, because in and of myself I tend to avoid hard things, not run towards them.

As it has almost my whole life, sometimes the only thing that speaks to my heart is music.  I don't know if it's because I spent so many years in a dance studio teaching my body to tell a story through music, or if it's hereditary because my family has a musical background.  Either way, I am grateful.  So very grateful.  These two songs are my battle cry songs right now.  They are the songs I keep returning to over and over and over again.  

I feel alone, but He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.  I feel like I would like to trade lives with characters in books, but He has asked me to be content where I am with what I have.

I feel like no one understands, no one sees, truly sees what is going on.  I feel like NO ONE listens to me.  But God.  He has said He sees, He captures every.single.tear.

I feel like He has a plan for everyone but my family.  That chaos has been unleashed and nothing good will come of these hard years.  BUT GOD!  I am God's handiwork, my husband is God's handiwork, my three children are God's handiwork.  He has created us to do good works. Which He prepared in advance for us to do.  IN ADVANCE.  Before any hard days existed, before any diagnoses were handed and branded, and even before the first drop of medicine had to be dispensed....He was prepared, He did prepare.

He did NOT make a mistake.

PSALM 139 is just as true today as when it was penned two thousand years ago. I preach the truth of that to my girls all.of.the.time.  They probably hear it in their sleep.  They are fearfully and wonderfully madeGod was present when each cell was directed to its position and when each organ was carefully stitched together, it was being knit together by God Himself.  What a wonder.

Today, today it's enough to know that He is here.

It is enough to know that He has a plan.

It is enough to know that He sees and He hears and He loves with an everlasting, never failing love.  A love that is kindAnd patient.

And it is enough to preach these truths to myself over and over and over and over and over again until they are what I cling to instead of my feelings and my ability to understand.

Thy will be done, God, thy will be done.