Monday, August 21, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I found a new blog!

I am so excited to find Stone Soup for Five - have you heard of this blog?  It is awesome!  I am so excited to read her posts - especially her posts about parenting in the hard moments.

Are you doing anything special for the Solar Eclipse tomorrow?  My kids don't know it yet, but my husband is staying home after lunch and is going to be able to watch with us!  They will be SO excited.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our reading list by month

I used to be methodical about tracking our read-alouds on the side of my blog.  But....not so much anymore.  So I decided to make a poster board and separate our books by month as a goal for us this year.  Here is what I came up with:
(BTW, years ago I printed out a great list someone had come up with separating read-alouds by month, for the life of me I cannot remember who it was, but that awesome idea inspired our goals this year)

August/September
James Herriot
Aesop
Anna's Story First Farm in the Valley
The Cottage of Bantry Bay
Mary Pope Osborne Tall Tales
Alice in Wonderland
Jungle Book
Francis Scot Key
George Fredrick Handel (and study of the Messiah)
Samuel Francis Smith

October
King Arthur
Harriet the Spy
Stone Soup
EB White (Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swan)
How to make apple pie and see the world
A.A. Milne
Your Body and How it Works Pat Ward
Christopher Columbus

November 
Leif the Lucky
We didn't mean to go to sea (Swallows & Amazons)
Seabird
Pagoo
Minn of the Mississippi
The tree book for kids and their grown-ups
Carry on Mr. Bowditch
Old Fashioned Thanksgiving

December
Children in Noisy Village
Hanukkah Stories
Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Tum Tum and Nutmeg
Courage of Sarah Noble
Mr. Revere and I
A Lion to Guard Us

January
Little House series
Understood Betsy
Jan Brett books
Gentle Ben

February
The Wind in the Willows
Allen Say books
100 Grains of Rice
Granny Han
Sign of the Beaver
Sarah Plain and Tall books
Fruit of the Spirit Ron Hembree

March
Mountain Born
Marguerite Henry books
Sing Down the Moon
Island of the Blue Dolphin
Phillip Keller books
Tomie dePaola

April
Cabin Faced West
Does God Know How to Tie Shoes
All of a Kind Family
Caddie Woodlawn
Magical Melons

May
Botany Coloring Book
George Washington Carver
Strawberry Girl
Secret Garden
Phoebe the Spy
Turn Homeward Hannalee
Ever Hopeful Hannalee

June
Louisa May Alcott
Madeline
Chanticleer and the Fox
Swallows and Amazons books
Rain Makes Applesauce
Jean Fritz books

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

North and South

Have you read the book North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell?  I have seen the BBC movie about a hundred times probably and LOOOOOOOVE it.  However, until recently I realized that I had never actually read the book.  I have it on Kindle (it's free) and added audible narration through audible earlier in the year.  It has always been on my 'to be read' list, but I never got around to it.  But the other night, when I was having trouble sleeping, I decided I would give it a try.  I started out on the Kindle, but as I felt my eyes get tired after a few chapters, I switched over to audible.

Oh. My.

I love the book even more than the movie.

The movie is very much one of my favorite love stories, almost even with Pride and Prejudice.  The book though, the book is on a whole other level.  It is still very much a love story, but it is also a story about suffering and beauty in the hard moments.  It is a story about friendships and striving and forgiving and letting go.  Ahhhhh, I love this story so much.  Next, I will have to try Wives and Daughters.  :)

The less sugar challenge is going ok, I am going for a lifestyle change that will be long term, not a short term quick fix.  I figured out early on that if I was going to do this I would have to be all in.  I can't do it if I am only shooting for thirty days. But you know what?  It isn't as awful as I thought it would be.  Now I am sure if I was going for the no sugar at all, detox type challenge, that I would be singing (or crying) a different tune.  But the less sugar is doable and I feel better when I stick to it!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Less Sugar Challenge

Yesterday I had the "brilliant" idea to make sopapillas.  We drug ours through either powdered sugar or sugar and cinnamon - but skipped the honey.  My kids and I began a list of baking ideas yesterday (for the holiday season and as back to school/welcome to fall gifts)  and so the more cookie and bread recipes we looked at the - the hungrier I got.  What was I thinking?!?  So needless to say, yesterday I did not do well on my challenge.  *sigh*

SO, today is a new day.  I will try again.

PS in case you bake a lot and need some ideas:

we found this awesome website yesterday

& this was the Sopapilla recipe we used

oh, & another two favorites are Coffee, Tea, Books, and Recipes and Living On a Dime.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

sooooo.....

Last week was awful.

Like really awful.

This week is ok so far, although we are still dealing with the mess that last week created.

*sigh*

But guess what?  Yesterday I broke down and had some m&m's...they tasted awful.  M&M's never taste awful to me.  I also had a caffeine free Pepsi with my meal.  So the challenge did not go that well yesterday, but this morning I stepped on the scale and to my utterly surprised delight I saw that I have lost THREE pounds.  YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This morning I was in Acts 2 and I was caught by this portion -

Those who received His Word -
1) they were baptized
2) they continually devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching &
     a) to fellowship
     b) to the breaking of bread &
     c) to prayer

Here in a bit I want to use the Blue Letter Bible site to look into what exactly is meant by the breaking of bread - is this communion or meal amongst believers?  Isn't is fascinating to read about what the earliest believers did?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

worst.week.ever.

*sigh*

This feels like the worst week ever.

I know it's not.

I know from experience it could be a lot worse.

 But still...

It feels like the worst week ever.

Weeks like this make me grumpy.

They make me want to whine and complain and ask why?!?!

They make me want to stuff my face in a bucket of chocolate and not come up for air until I have eaten myself into oblivion, or at the very least reached the bottom of the bucket.

They make me want to delete every post I have ever written about doing the hard things, sucking it up when it's hard, and (until I pause and rethink my selfish thinking) it makes me want to question trusting God when it's hard.

But...

Then I do pause, and I do see His grace everywhere.

Seriously, every inch of every problem we have had this week has had His grace etched onto it.  And then it makes perfect sense to trust Him.  Because even though I would not have chosen any of the problems we have had, I am SO incredibly thankful that He is building my faith - that He is teaching me who He is.  The best lessons (as much as I hate to admit this) are truly learned through the hard moments.

Words are easy to type, common to speak, but they prove their worth when you walk them out.  God is so good - He is so, so good.  Not because everything is perfect or easy or turns out OK, but because He is good.  His will is perfect and His plan is trustworthy.

Even when it hurts.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Special Needs

Our voyage into the somewhat scary, very much unpredictable waters of being considered special needs has been at times slow, creeping up on us as we just moved through life.  However, at other times it has been very much like careening down the side of a mountain without any breaks or ways to stop or slow the descent.  Between my three kids, the list of special needs is long, the days are hard, and the future looks uncertain.  The things that most parents take for granted, that most kids are just able to do, I am not able to take those things for granted, my kids are not able to 'just' do them.

Trying to describe to someone what our days are like is as difficult as trying to explain the concept of chewing gum to someone who has never seen, tasted, or heard of it.  I am learning that everyone's experience with autism or epilepsy or anxiety is vastly different.  Just like there are countless forms and varying degrees of severity that seizures take, so too there are countless forms and varying degrees of impact on day to day life that mental health issues take.  Each of their chronic health issues bleeds over into every area of their life.  There isn't one aspect of daily life that isn't impacted.

I am not sure if it is their unique make-up, or something tied in with their issues, but they are intensely private, not wanting to share much if any details of their lives.  That makes it hard for me to communicate to others, especially those closest to us, why we can't or don't do certain things.  I feel (fair or unfairly so) pressured by others to prove how hard our days are or for us to conform to what they feel will "fix" a situation.

So, in case you know someone in your life right now or will at some point in the future come into contact with someone who is considered "special needs" can I perhaps offer some suggestions for how best to support them?  These thoughts are ones that I have personally had, as well as some from close friends walking a very similar path to us.

1) Listen.  Just listen.  Don't offer advice, don't compare them to another family you know that has that same issue...just listen.

2) Don't be surprised by the ebb and flow of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Sometimes there isn't a reason for things to just bottom out.  Sometimes the family going through the rough season just has to wait out the bad days.  Sometimes one moment things can be awesome and then out of nowhere it's as if a switch has flipped and they are as far from awesome as they can be.

3) Don't assume just because you see them on a good day, that that is their status quo.  I know for us personally, we try to stick around home during the awful moments.  So if you know us personally you see us at our very best moments, but more times than not, that's a far cry from our "most" moments.  Does that make sense?

4) If you have a cold, a tummy ache, any kind of illness at all, please stay away.  Often times any kind of illness (from a minor cold to the flu) causes special needs kids issues to flare up.  It also tends to take them twice as long to kick something as it does for someone without the issues.

5) If you see a child (especially an older child) throwing a tantrum, please don't assume it's a result of bad parenting or that the child is "too old" to act that way.  Please don't stare and above all, please, please don't comment on how you would handle the situation.  If you haven't lived with someone who has a mental illness, then truly, you have no idea how you would handle the situation.  I can promise you that as a parent, more times than not, we are doing the very best we can.  We are trying to get our child to a spot where they can calm down and we are trying to minimize the disturbance to those around us.

6) Try your best not to pressure the family to get out and do more, be involved in x,y, or z.  That just adds more stress and more of a feeling of all that we are missing out on.

7) On the flip side, offer invitations.  We like to know that you thought of us.  We just hope you understand that any plans we make are subject to change.  The hardest thing that I have had to get used to is not being able to plan outings, friend times, field trips etc;

8) Please don't assume just because they are ____ age, they should be doing _____________.  Just because they are six, they should be reading.  Just because they are ten, they should be in fifth grade.  Just because they are fifteen or sixteen, they should be learning to drive.  When a kid has special needs, it changes everything.  They develop differently.  Generally speaking, things are harder for them.  When a grandparent or an aunt or an uncle places them on the spot and asks them, "Well, why can't you ___________, you are ___________ years old now." how do you think it makes that child feel?  I will tell you because I have seen the fall out from thoughtless comments like that before.  It hurts them.  It makes them feel like a failure.  They are not behind because they are lazy.  They are not behind because they don't care.  They are not behind because they don't work hard.  They aren't behind because we homeschool.  They are not behind because they were just waiting for someone to spur them on to greatness with a comment like that.

9) Occasionally send a card or a note of encouragement, an email or a text to the family.  Just to let them know you are thinking about them, praying for them, pulling for them.  It can feel really lonely to walk this path, I cannot tell you how much I have appreciated random acts of kindness.  They have truly made an impossible day doable.

10)   If you are close to the family, spend some time reading up on the generalities of their issues.  It will help you understand a basic frame work of where the family is coming from.

Day 8 update - plugging along on my less sugar challenge.  I haven't had dessert in almost two weeks now - that is a HUGE deal for me :)


Thursday, August 3, 2017

It's been a rough week

Do you ever have those weeks in which you wish you could hit the rewind button to get back to the beginning, before the bottom falls out, then quickly hit the skip button, so that you can fast forward past all of the issues in order to just reach status quo again?  Every single day this week has brought some kind of issue that has been hard, frustrating, and a bit overwhelming - especially as they all pile one on top of the other.   

So, not surprisingly, I lost count and focus on my challenge.  I'm just going to pick up today as day seven.  So...day seven is off to an ok start in terms of the less sugar challenge.  I definitely notice a HUGE difference when I am careful with what I eat vs. stress eating or grabbing things mindlessly.  My energy levels, anxiousness, irritability, and even dizziness increase on the days where I eat too much sugar or don't drink enough water.  

Ick.  

I also still (even four years later) struggle with making sure I drink enough water each day.  When I follow the alarms I have set on my phone and discipline myself to fill a 16oz cup of water and slowly drink it over the next two hours before another alarm rings, I feel ever so much better.  Which has led to me pondering two questions over the last couple of weeks.  Why is it that the good choices, the good things, are so hard to choose?  Why is it so much easier to choose bad things or to just drift into laziness, even when we feel bad afterwards (either physically or emotionally)?  One would think that it would be enough of an incentive to feel better to make the better choices, even if they aren't the fun choices in the moment.   

I am thinking through a post I might write next time on discipline, something that I am woefully underqualified to write from one perspective, the perspective of actually walking it out moment by moment.  But on the other hand, I feel I am perhaps overqualified to write it from the perspective of constantly either second guessing myself or compromising on the goals I set and therefore never building the muscles of self-discipline.  I also find myself trying to understand the concept of self-discipline in light of one of the fruits of the Spirit.  I think that I tend to rely too much on my ability to do something instead of knowing how to tap into His strength.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9.