Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Knowing When to Make A Change

This year with my two youngest children we are doing year three of Catholic Schoolhouse which covers the Renaissance time period through modern history.  We are doing it all at home without belonging to a co-op; mainly because there isn't a co-op around to belong to.

CSH breaks all of the information up into 24 weeks - four periods of six weeks each.  In my original planning I broke it down into four periods with seven weeks each, allowing for that extra week to catch up each quarter.

Well, we're in our third week now and I already know that this schedule is just not going to work.  Instead of just plowing ahead and forcing the issue, which is something that is my first inclination, I've decided to make a change.  This is a hard thing for me to do, but I realize, finally...after 18 years...that it just doesn't make sense to force something that isn't working.  Trust me, I know what I am talking about.  No one comes out ahead by this method.

You see, our life is such that we really need to be done with school, or at least the parts that heavily involve me, by lunchtime.  There is just too much that goes on around here in the afternoon for me to be still working with people.  That's not to say that the kids aren't doing things on their own, mind you.

What happened in the first two weeks was that I felt like we were just cramming way too much into our time slots and just flying through it so that we could be done on time.  This.is.very.stressful.

After two weeks, I was dreading school.  I was hating the pace and hating the fact that our focus was more on the checking off than it was on delving into one of my favorite time periods.  We're studying St. Ignatius, for gosh sakes, and I felt like we weren't even doing him justice.

So over the weekend I decided to take each week of CSH and make it into two.  My kids, of course, were wondering what happened to their schedule, and believe it or not there was some questioning and huffing and puffing, but I explained that I just wanted us not to be rushed and that maybe we would actually retain something if we slowed down.

This is revolutionary for me, and I'm sure I'm not alone here.  I've always wanted to do this, but just never have.  I'm such a list-checking person that slowing it down and spending more time on something just doesn't come easy to me.  

This week is our first week at the slower pace and I already like it more.  We did an art project today (another thing I'm not good at!) and it was nice and relaxed because we had the time to do it.  We went to the library yesterday to look for books on the Renaissance and I wasn't trying to rush them out the door.

Sometimes you just have to look at yourself and what you've set up and ask yourself if it is really working for everyone and then if it isn't, here's the important part, MAKE A CHANGE so that it does work. That is the beauty of homeschooling.  Just because the curriculum is laid out one way, if it doesn't work for you, change it so it does.  

At this new pace, we just might not make it up to modern times and finish the curriculum, but I'm okay with that now.  Here's to slowing it down and having fun learning what needs to be learned!

God Bless!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Nineteen and Counting

Today began our 19th year of homeschooling...at least to the best of my calculations.  It gets hard to remember how long ago we actually started.  Also to the best of my calculations, we have six more to go till the youngest graduates high school; but who's counting?

Am I tired?  You bet I am.  But as I lie in bed this morning reflecting on the past 18 years of starting school, I realized that, as tired as I am, I wouldn't have done it any other way.  Homeschooling is hard, yes, but the rewards are immense.  Have I ever dreamt of putting them in school?  In 18 years, you bet I have, but then I realize that God has called me to homeschool His children and I know that that is what I have to do.  It is what makes me plug along through the difficult times.  Well, that and my innate stubbornness.  

I got up this morning to start the day I always do...a shower, a cup of coffee and some time in prayer (that is THE most important part, by the way.  Not the coffee!).  However, after having made my coffee (which is the part I look forward to - drinking it, not making it) I realized that my filter flopped over.

Not exactly the way you want to start day one of year 19.  I was hoping it wasn't an omen of things to come today.

It wasn't, so that was good.  We made it to Mass, we got through our subjects and here are the smiling faces of me and some of my children while we indulge in burgers at our traditional First Day of School Lunch Outing. It makes it worth the struggle!

I hope the beginning of your new year is off to a great start, too!

God Bless,

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

One Month Ago...

We brought my son into the hospital, only to come home with a new way of life. In some ways it is hard to believe that it has been one month.  In other ways it feels like years!  

People keep encouraging us that it will get easier and in some ways it has.  Things are becoming more routine and we pretty much have just figured out that you can never really figure out Diabetes.  One day his body will react this way, the next day it will react another way.  All we can do is go with the flow and deal with the moment.  Isn't that how we're supposed to live anyhow?  In the moment?

In the day to day managing of his diabetes, I don't get very emotional.  We just go through the calculations and the processes just like we're supposed to.  Every once in awhile, however, it hits me.  Like the other day when I was at the pharmacy with all of the other chronic prescription picker-uppers.  The lady in front of me was chatting away about her medications with the pharmacist and they were on a first name basis.  I figure that will be me someday very soon.

And when they ask you, as you are about to pay for the prescription, "Did they tell you how much this is going to cost?"  I don't know why, but it gets me every time.

Or last night, at 12:30 when we were sitting in my bed waiting for our 15 minutes to pass after drinking his juice so that I could see if his blood glucose levels came up sufficiently, and he nodded off to sleep next to me.  That's when it hits me what he's going through and what he has to look forward to for the rest of his life.  

But then we both get up the next morning and face the day with a good attitude, and for that I'm grateful.

Another thing that I'm very grateful for is that I have, in a way, been prepared for this over the past 10 years.  When we were in the hospital and the nurses told us about how he would have to eat on a regular schedule, how we would have to count carbs and eat healthy I was so grateful that we had already been doing those things.  

We've eaten on a schedule ever since I can remember.  Breakfast around 7:00, snack at 10, lunch at Noon, snack at 3 and dinner between 5 and 6.  Perfect.  We've cleaned up our eating considerably during those years and all of our kids know what carbs, fats (healthy vs unhealthy) and proteins are.  If I had had to tackle all of that on top of everything else (like injections and monitoring and worrying about those lows) my brain would have exploded.  I can see the beauty of being organized even more clearly now because it has made this chaos much more manageable.  God is Good!  All the time!

So we move forward into our second month of a lifetime.  One step at a time as we cling tightly to Jesus' hand and walk this walk with Our Lady of Sorrows who knows exactly how we all feel and is with us every step of the way.

God Bless!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Peanut Butter Crackers to the Rescue!

Whenever I'm faced with a difficult situation, I've noticed that I tend to do two particular things to help me cope.

The first is to find humor in the situation whenever I can.  It hit me, not too long into our diabetic adventure, that this is just like having a baby in the house again.  We get up in the middle of the night to check on my son, and, if necessary, feed him.  It is quite humorous to wake him at 2:00 am and tell him to get up and eat something.  He usually smiles, gets up, eats whatever we've determined he should eat, smiles again and goes back to bed.  God has blessed him with a good disposition, that's for sure.

My son is not much of an adventurous eater, so we've found a few staples that have been carrying us through the past month.  These babies

have been indispensable.  They are portable, have a the right amount of carbs to boost him up a bit and contain a bit of protein from the peanut butter to level him off, they are inexpensive and most importantly, he likes them.  The other night while we were sitting there at 2 am and he was eating his prescribed 12 crackers, the thought popped into my head, "It's 2 am.  Do you know how many peanut butter crackers your child is eating?"  It cracked me up at that moment, which is a good thing, because you have to laugh whenever you can or you'll cry instead.

The second thing is that I tend to fixate on something else to take my mind off of the situation.  Right now I'm fixating on my house.  Cleaning and straightening have very cathartic effects.  It is something I can physically do which brings peace to my mind.  My kids aren't thrilled because I'm always telling them to clean up their piles of stuff, but to see a very neat house makes me feel more peaceful.

I've also been fixating on my laundry room.  

Specifically, this door.  The room is small and dark.  We have bigger plans for it, but for now my eye is on replacing that door with one that has a window in it.  The good thing about this project is that we have some Menard's rebate money and since the hospital won't accept that as payment, I have to use it for things for the house!  SCORE!  We went this past weekend and got the door, now we just have to put it in.  I just know that the sunlight (of which I am craving, seeing as how it is FEBRUARY in the Midwest) that will stream through that window will bring me great joy.

And so we all cope with difficulties in different ways.  Of course prayer has a central place in this coping, but I've also found other ways that are helpful to me and not harmful to anyone else!  

How do you cope when you're in a difficult spot? 

God Bless!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Another Curve in the Road

Exactly 11 days after my last post, God threw another curve in the road of our life.  I never expected to find myself in the pediatric ICU with my baby boy, but that's where we ended up.

Fortunately the stay was short, just two days, but he left with a new normal - Type 1 Diabetes.  Came out of nowhere, really.  It doesn't run in our family, so we were a bit surprised that he should get this.  They say a virus can cause it to begin.  Who would have thought?

People have asked me how I knew.  Because there seems to be quite the occurrence of this nowadays, I'd like to share with you how I knew because the fact that someone had shared their story with me was lifesaving to my son.

My best friend from forever has a son who was diagnosed with T1 last May.  Over the summer we got together and she shared her journey with me.  Fortunately, it wasn't something that my overworked brain forgot.

I noticed on Saturday, the 23rd, that my son had gone to the bathroom two times within a short period of time.  This, for him, was not that unusual so I didn't think much of it at the time.  Later that night, however, I saw him get out of bed and go into the bathroom twice within about half an hour.  I had a quiet voice in my head tell me to pay attention to that.  I immediately thought of my friend's son.  I sat in bed with my kindle that night looking up the common symptoms of Type 1.

- Frequent urination  
Increased thirst
- Increased hunger 

Although I have to say that he didn't come to me and tell me he was thirsty and hungry, he just kept asking for more to eat and drink.  He had told me all of the week prior how tired he was.  My response?  "Try going to bed earlier!"

It wasn't until I looked at the symptoms all together and thought about the past few weeks that I saw the pattern.  Otherwise, life is life and you tend to ignore all of the "I'm thirsty" and "I'm hungry" statements.

While he didn't have the blurred vision or tingling hands and feet, when he came downstairs on Sunday, he did look like, all of a sudden, he had lost a lot of weight.  His face looked sunken in and his arms looked very skinny.  Just like that!  Some of the kids said they had noticed on Saturday how skinny he looked, but we hadn't.

I thought back to my friend and remembered her telling me about checking her son's urine for ketones.   I knew you could go to the pharmacy and get strips so after Mass we headed to Walgreens and picked up our first bottle of urine strips.  Once home we tested him twice.  Both times he tested Moderate/High.  Yikes.  I called my friend just to go over what was going on and she told us to head to the ER with him now before he started vomiting, which would be the next thing that would begin to happen.

It wasn't long before he was being admitted to the ICU and hooked up to his insulin drip.  At that point his blood glucose level was 524. 

Over the next two days we learned more about insulin, shots, glucose checks and diabetes than I ever wanted to learn.  We were sent home with a dazed look in our eyes.  It was like coming home with your first baby and thinking, "What on earth am I supposed to do with this kid to keep him alive".  

It's been quite the ride these past three weeks.  There's more to be said but, I think that, for now, this is enough.  Please keep us all in your prayers as we navigate this new normal for our family.

God Bless!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Around my Kitchen

When we looked at this house, the first thing we did was look at the kitchen and realize that it wasn't going to work long-term for us.  We know there is a remodel in our near future because there just isn't enough counter space and the eat-in section of the kitchen is big enough for a small bistro table and not much else.

Another thing I noticed was that the basement door was smack-dab in the middle of the kitchen.  I had been wanting to have a nice big chalk board in my kitchen for awhile, so I decided to turn the basement door into a giant chalk board.  While it didn't quite work out to my expectations, it does, in fact, serve the purpose of putting that door to good use.  

So far we've used it for a nice Thanksgiving motif, which I can't believe I do not have a picture of because it was so cute, an Advent and St. Andrew novena calendar

and  a spot to count the 12 Days of Christmas.
It has sparked a lot of creativity (as you can see above) and has been a fun thing to have in the kitchen.

Now, however, I find myself with this:

a blank door and no ideas for what to put on it.  January means, what?  Ordinary time?  How do you draw that?  It's too soon, in my book, for Valentine's designs so what can we do until then?  Ideas appreciated :)

Another thing I've added to the kitchen to kind of spruce things up a bit is a craft my oldest daughter did at the library one evening.  This idea is so cute that it inspired me to want to have a coffee theme in our remodeled kitchen.  They are pages from a book that they painted coffee/tea cups on. 

She did four of them, so she found some frames in the basement and we decided to hang them up to help brighten up the kitchen.  It doesn't take much to bring some zing to a room.  
Sometimes you just have to take a few minutes to look around your house and find something you could switch to a different room to make it brighter, or, in this case, take a craft someone did and put it in some left-over frames.  I like this kind of decorating; it's cheap and easy!

Need something to brighten a part of your house during these dreary days of January?  Walk around and see if you can't make a small change like this one.

God Bless!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My 2016 Word

Last year I went along with the crowd and picked a word for the year.  The word was "purposeful" and my intention in living this word was to be much more purposeful in what I did with my time and my attention.  Looking back over the year, I would say that I did much better at that.  There were a lot of things that required my attention and I was able to walk away from my distractions (mainly this lovely computer) and get down to the business of doing what needed to be done.

Now, that's not to say I always did that.  No sirree, not in the least.  And, when I did do it, it certainly wasn't always easy.  Releasing ourselves from our mindless distractions is a difficult thing.  That is why, for example, I don't want to have HGTV available in my home.  I know, at least for awhile, that I would be addicted to sitting in front of show after show watching others do exciting decorating things instead of doing them myself.

This year's word is "wisdom":  

the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.



It isn't a new word to me as it began popping up on my radar last year.  I kept reading or hearing in various places how good it is to pray for wisdom.  When Solomon asked God for wisdom he asked for "a discerning heart" to govern God's people and "to distinguish between right and wrong". And God was very pleased by his request.  I figure a mom like me can't go wrong in asking for a discerning heart to govern the people in my charge and it can definitely help me in distinguishing between right and wrong; especially when trying to sift through the myriad of disagreements that go on here every day!

So this will be my prayer, and hopefully my guiding principle, as I go through this year.  Given the events of the world, having some extra wisdom might just not be a bad thing!

God Bless!