A Homeschool Field Trip

I found myself very funny yesterday when I told my cousin I was going to take the kids to the zoo today…”if all the permission slips came in.”  Yeah, I’m a comedian loving the flexibility of homeschooling.

I got all those permission slips :) But I almost yanked them.  The kids were a little feisty today.  Oh my word.  we went, maybe against my better judgement.  And we had some fun.

Today was a beautiful Michigan day.  A little chilly, so you wear coats, you take coats off, you put them back on.  There was a surprising number of people there.  It was beautiful.

2014-04-23 14.13.56

Sue was insistent there was a beaver nest in there.  It is the beaver exhibit…where all you currently see is Rainbow Trout.

2014-04-23 14.15.18 2014-04-23 14.22.01 2014-04-23 14.25.28

Sometimes the girls freak out about the reptiles and want nothing to do with it, and then there is today where they were mesmerized by every scaly, creepy creature.  Sue was even nice enough to demonstrate how a python would squeeze me and break all my bones.  Gee, thanks kid.

2014-04-23 14.34.29

These are Egyptian Tortoises.  This fact was confirmed by my favorite person in Egypt while we were in the zoo.  Isn’t technology cool?  I take this picture, I post in on Facebook and tag my friend in Cairo.  He, within minutes, comments back about what the girls and I are looking at.

Man, I remember when there was no internet, Mr. Gore.

Oops, I might be showing my age a bit…

2014-04-23 14.57.14

This is Caitlyn getting caught up on her scavenger hunt, I mean, come on, what kind of homeschooler would I be if there wasn’t something they had to study at the zoo?  I found this fun scavenger hunt that has clues or descriptors of animals and the girls have to find an animal and write it in.  Caitlyn is my rule follower, my project finisher.  And her paper fell in the fountain.  She was totally bumming.  There was much sorrow.  Then, Sue found an extra copy.  There was much rejoicing.  Patrice even did a dance for the occasion.

2014-04-23 14.57.18 2014-04-23 15.25.37 2014-04-23 15.25.38 2014-04-23 15.39.59

There were seals…and outside, a polar bear.
2014-04-23 15.44.11

 

And that’s how our homeschool does a field trip.

My Life Painting

I have these three beautiful girls and an amazing hubby.  They truly rule my heart.

2014-04-02 14.33.01 2014-04-19 18.41.11 2014-04-21 11.26.35 2014-04-21 15.22.44

Any wonder why?  Being the wife and mama takes my breathe away.

When I was working outside of the home, I absolutely could not justify additional time away from my family.  I was away from them a lot of hours, I reasoned, that must fulfill my needs for me.

Then I came home to roost.  And my mind didn’t know how to balance me and them and us.  I knew there was this concept, self-care, taking time to invest in the heart and soul through whatever activities or ideas feed your life, out there.  I knew people who espoused it.  I respected those who did.  I just felt lost.

I began to look around…and wonder what self-care was really all about.  And as often happens, my heart was drawn to a fellow mama.

My friend A’Driane does an amazing job of seeking and embracing self care. I watch her carve out the time and I am jealous. Not in the petty, she gets self care and I don’t, but in awe that she values herself enough to do so.

I grew up with women who saw surrendering of themselves to their children as admirable.  One of my strongest role model did just that.  She was so involved in her kid’s life and she made it look so easy, watching her invest herself so heavily seemed like a wonderful model of motherhood.  She was, and is, an amazing mother.  I dreamed of being such a mom. *

I also grew up under Biblical teachings often twisted to prove women should lose themselves in their vocation as wife and mother–or be able to do it ALLLL!!! (Proverbs 31 Woman).  So, I threw myself into doing it all.

But this idea of self-care nagged at me.  Was there something to it?  Should it be part of my life?  Could I still be considered a good mom if I indulged myself in this idea?

Truly, when I heard about self-care for the first time in ‪#‎ppdchat‬,** the idea was so foreign to me that I brushed it aside as something I didn’t need.  I was stronger than that, than those who “needed” time away.

But my beautiful A’Driane challenged my misguided notions just by living intentionally.  I saw her with her beautiful family of three boys and a great hubby.  I saw her making time to eat well, I saw her making time to exercise, I saw her making time to paint and write and love herself.

And I knew how strong she was.  There was no way I could construe her need of self-care as indulgence or a sign of weakness.  The woman chases after three boys, keeping up with demanding schedules with honesty and grace.

I began to wonder if the truth wasn’t that I loved my girls too much to take the time for self-care, but rather I didn’t love me enough to invest in who I am, in who I want to become.  I realized I haven’t arrived at at the final destination of who I am just because I love being a wife and mother.  I haven’t completed my journey of growth, I am still a changing, emerging, me.

Sometimes being me means I am all mom, or all wife, all family, sometimes maybe it means something more.  Maybe it means embracing where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to be.

It’s time to blend it all, to create my own life painting.

Today, I’m here to invest in myself. I’m here to take baby steps.

I’m here to re-embrace my lifelong love of reading. I’m here to let the authors words wash my soul, feed my soul, rebirth my soul.

I’m here to embrace me and all that it means.

 

*That amazing role model in my life?  I have watched her grow and rebirth as her motherhood journey has continued and she IS an amazing mother, friend, woman.  She has strength and drive to spare for all of those around her.

**Please, if you are working through a postpartum mood disorder, check out the hashtag #ppdchat on twitter to get an army of women who are right there in the journey with love and strength for you.  You will find resources and help, love and compassion that you never dreamed possible.

My Newest Endeavor

See that widget over there—–>

Yes that one—->

It is my latest project.

Because I need more stuff going on, right?

Well, remember that  phrase “if you want something done, ask a busy person”?  Maybe it’s my goal to be “that” person.  Except it’s not.  I just need to get the word out about things that matter to me.

I am, what they call over at Postpartum Progress, a warrior mom. I fought a long arduous battle after Patrice’s birth against postpartum depression and anxiety.

It was hard.

It stunk.

But here I am, on the other side…

Thanks in huge part to on-line communities that understood and loved on me.

The first on-line resource I found was Katherine at Postpartum Progress.  Her foundation provides so much information about the various postpartum mood disorders, including but not limited to, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD and postpartum psychosis.  She also provides active support for women looking for hope.

I was that woman.  I found so much on her website that had me nodding my head, saying AHA!, and finding out I wasn’t alone.

Katherine is tireless and amazing in her work, she was even part of  Jeopardy! question, but she can’t do it alone.

From her work and dream, was born Climbing Out of the Darkness.  It is a walk/climb held in cities throughout the world to raise funding and awareness.

This year, I’m not letting it pass me by.  I am leading a team!  Eek.

June 21 we will meet at Independence Oaks in Clarkston from 1-3 pm.  There are two of us on my team right now, but we need more.  We need to make some noise.  We need to be part of making a difference.

Won’t you please join us?  You can raise funds or not, that is up to you, but we need awareness raised.  We need to let other mamas know they are NOT ALONE!!!!!!

Climb Out of the Darkness

Please click in the above link or that widget to the right and link arms with mamas around world, mamas here at home!  We need each other.

 

It Got Quiet

I’m not sure what happened here on the blog, but it got really quiet.  Trust me, I wasn’t.

The stupid stomach virus kept me pretty wiped out til Wednesday.  Then it was the gift that kept on giving.  I wasn’t able to take my meds for most of a week thanks to being sick.  Once, I started to get better, my mind decided to kick it up a notch and cause some lovely mood cycling.  It was scary and truly the worst I have felt in over a year.  Today I am starting to feel a little more like myself, a little more even keeled.  And I am so thankful.

The days of mood cycling and fluctuations were hard.  Crazy hard.  I am so thankful for the people in my life who reached out to me, not when I got better, but right where I was.

Today was lovely.  We went to the traditional service at our church, the earlier one we never seem to make it to, where they sing the glorious hymns of the Christian Faith.  I grew up on hymns.  The beauty of them, the truth in them, has always been nourishment for my soul.  Today I realized what had been missing in my worship, it is those hymns, and this morning my soul came home.

Plus, after a horrible winter in these parts, Spring seems to have arrived and today was just right.

Yesterday, we loved on our girls with an Easter Egg hunt and lesson about what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead three days later.

2014-04-19 10.50.55 2014-04-19 18.06.52 2014-04-19 18.09.03 2014-04-19 18.10.45 2014-04-19 18.10.57 2014-04-19 18.17.26 2014-04-19 18.31.32 2014-04-19 18.35.45 2014-04-19 18.40.16 2014-04-19 18.41.03 2014-04-19 18.42.24 2014-04-19 18.43.02

 

Then today, the girls were extra spoiled with an Easter Egg hunt at their Aunt’s house.

2014-04-20 15.51.00 2014-04-20 15.51.18 2014-04-20 15.52.16 2014-04-20 15.52.27 2014-04-20 15.53.05 2014-04-20 15.55.18 2014-04-20 15.56.52 2014-04-20 15.58.38 2014-04-20 16.00.39 2014-04-20 16.00.44 2014-04-20 16.19.17 2014-04-20 17.03.49 2014-04-20 17.03.57 2014-04-20 17.04.24

 

So, it’s been quiet around here, but all in all, we’re okay.

Did You Know? (Time4Learning Review)

We homeschool?  Turns out, we do.  As you have read, we started homeschooling Caitlyn (2nd grade) and Sue (1st grade) last September.

It has been going well.  I started with an all-inclusive on-line program for the girls, but quickly found, it wasn’t for us.  I did not like the the amount of time they were spending in front of the computer, with limited interaction otherwise.  I found my girls skill levels did not match with the material set for each day–some of it was too easy, some was too hard.  It was nice having everything set out for me.  I didn’t have to think or plan, we just had to click the next link, but the trade-off wasn’t worth it to me.

Now, our homeschool mix is extremely eclectic.  Some is hands-on, some is purchased curriculum and some is on-line.  It changes daily.  I get most of my material from homeschool pinterest boards and blogs.  I like it, but it is a lot of work.

2014-03-26 11.10.38

I’ve seen many on-line programs touted by other homeschoolers, one being Time4Learning.  This program includes Math, Language Arts, Language Arts Extension, Science and Social Studies.  I was curious, but not interested in spending the money to get it if it was going to be of no use to us.  Time4Learning is available for a per student, low monthly price.  My patience paid off a month ago when Time4Learning offered one month free for all household users in exchange for an independent blog review.

So here goes–my first homeschool product review.  Drumroll please!!!!!

I had both girls use it exclusively for a week.

I liked the look of it.  It was cute and appealing to the girls.  The animations are very simple, but they get the job done.  The material was very appropriate for Sue’s skill set.

“It was easy.  It was kind of hard, not really,” was Caitlyn’s non-committal appraisal in typical 2nd grader fashion.

But I knew within a day, this on-line program was not for us.  Once again, it was too much screen time.  Both girls got bored with the computer time before they were half done for the day.  It was, like the other program we tried, too easy for Caitlyn.  The program does allow the students to access two grade levels, sometimes three, in an area. but personally, if I am going to be tailoring lessons to that extent, I’d rather do so on my own, not in a computer program.

We trudged forward for that week. I wanted to give it a chance,  but from there on, Caitlyn had no interest in it whatsoever.

Sue used it most days, but only for the language arts.  It was definitely an asset for her in the phonics area.  They presented many of the rules in ways that were easy for both of us to remember. If you could purchase usage just for specific subjects, I would strongly consider the language arts for Sue.

For now, I enjoyed the opportunity to check out Time4Learning, and am very aware it might be an excellent fit for some homeschoolers, but our program will continue as it is, with much less screen time and more interaction with each other and our subjects.

Time4Learning also has a new high school program available for $30/month per student.

Disclosure:  I was invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. I did use the on-line program, Time4Learning for one month as part of our homeschool curriculum at no charge to me.  I was, by no other means compensated. My opinions are entirely my own. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, afternoon or summer enrichment.

The Author Chose a Semi Colon #semicolonproject416

semi colon projectProject Semi Colon.

 

I almost didn’t join this project.  I am not depressed, suicidal, self-harming or, in general, hurting right now.  I have been some of those things, but not right now.

I almost didn’t join this project because it is too hard to let the mind go back there.  To sitting in the basement sobbing while my girls played upstairs.  To hiding in the  bathroom at work begging God for a way out.  To imploring someone to help me as I hid in the Jeep where my family couldn’t see me.  To checking myself into the mental health wing at our local hospital, again.

It’s hard to go back there.

2014-04-13 08.26.07

But thankfully, there is a” back” to go to.  If, I had ended the sentence with a period in any of those situations, there would be no going back.

2014-04-13 08.26.51

 

There is hard in each of those times.  In each of those places in my life that could have been a period, an end, but instead are a pause, a semi colon, before life moved on, with me in it.

2014-04-13 08.27.15

 

Each of those times, was a semi colon, because I reached out.  To friends, doctors, strangers.  I put the last bit of energy and effort I had into reaching out.

I look back with shame, but maybe the answer is pride.  I didn’t stay where I was.  I invested in me.  I invested in those who love me and know me.

2014-04-13 08.25.49

I reached out.  In all honesty, often not for my own benefit, but in hopes it would help my family.  I didn’t see myself as worthy of the work it would take to be here rather than gone, but I didn’t want to saddle my husband with the cleanup my departure would leave.  He would have to find more daycare.  He would have to do extra work around the house.  He would have to explain to our girls why mama wasn’t here.  I reached out for my girls.  I didn’t want them to ever wonder if mama really loved them.  I didn’t want them to wonder why mama didn’t want to see them growing up.  I didn’t want them to have to explain for the rest of their lives “My mom committed suicide when I was (5,) (4,) (1.)”

I didn’t want them to grow up with that shame.

So I made the calls, I did the work.  I still make the calls, I still do the work.

Those pauses in life, where a period could have been chosen, found a semi colon written instead, so on I work.  On I LIVE!

Image

 

I wrote a semi colon.  You can too.

Please, if you need help, reach out.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for example: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a 24-hr/7-day hotline where anyone can call for help and speak to someone trained in suicide prevention  .suicidepreventionlifeline.org PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be suicidal to call. This number will offer you resources local to your area if you are struggling in any way.

Linking up with Cristi.

 

Getting Out

Many schools, and homeschoolers, are having spring break this week.  I hadn’t decided if, or when, we would take such a break.  Then, the scourge hit.  Caitlyn was down Sunday and still struggling Monday.  Sue and I were down Tuesday and Wednesday and hubby today.  Not much school has happened.  Not much fun has happened.

It was beginning to wear on the girls.  But relief was on the way.

Caitlyn got her latest National Geographic Kids Magazine yesterday.  It has 101 ways to get outside on a big pinup inside.  My girl got excited.

One, was make a pond.  Patrice gave that her best effort.

2014-04-10 14.43.53

Another was fly a kite.  Caitlyn remembered some old kites hubby and I bought while dating a decade ago.  Out they came.

2014-04-10 16.02.35 2014-04-10 16.03.02 2014-04-10 16.03.05 2014-04-10 16.03.08 2014-04-10 16.04.53

 

They even walked to the park to try them out.

Today, I needed to get them out of the house to give daddy some peace.

We splurged on ice cream.  (Ask Patrice to pronounce ice cream, for an inappropriate giggle.)

2014-04-11 15.01.39 2014-04-11 15.01.52 2014-04-11 15.23.00 2014-04-11 15.21.55 2014-04-11 15.21.53 2014-04-11 15.21.49

Then, we found some small, cheap kites at the store.  I let them each pick one.

2014-04-11 16.31.28 2014-04-11 16.31.17 2014-04-11 16.28.28 2014-04-11 16.28.18 2014-04-11 16.28.15 2014-04-11 16.33.45

 

I had to do something to perk up their spring “break.”

 

Days All Wrong

Lets just start by saying, I am going to get my days all wrong, so if you’ve read my real-time facebook updates and then you read this, and they don’t match…sorry.

It all started Saturday night, I think.  Caitlyn got sick.  Crazy sick, with the stomach virus from H E double hockey sticks.  We even ended up in the ER.  She’s okay, but what’s the use of a Pediatric ER within a mile of your house if you never use it?

Then Patrice joined the fun.

2014-04-07 21.02.18 2014-04-07 12.07.46 2014-04-07 18.58.36

I hate the stomach virus.  I hate how it makes me kids, look, feel and smell.

And then, just for kicks, I got sick.  Like wow.   And I gained a whole new respect for my kids.  I whine way more than they do when I am sick.    Within a couple hours, Sue got sick.  And hubby wisely stayed home from work to take care of us…for the next two days.  I protested.  I Praise the Lord he didn’t listen and stayed anyway.

Last night, the kids tried a real meal.  Patrice regretted it.  Today we are back to dry cereal and dry toast.

I woke up feeling decent.  It is supposed to be 68 degrees today.  I planned a trip to the zoo…in my mind…then I had to rest from walking down the stairs and settled for putting on shoes for the first time in three days.

I look at my house.  And want to clean all the things.  Then I get dizzy again and hope to finish ONE load of laundry.  Just one.

How will I spend the rest of my time?  Praying hubby does not get this bug.  Dude, I’m even praying my worst enemy doesn’t get this bug.

We love you all enough to tell you to stay away from us!

My Heart and Joy

Here is a collection of the fun around here this week.

2014-04-01 11.22.17 2014-04-02 08.51.01

See Sue’s pretty Lilla Rose clip?  I have a friend who sells them.  They are so pretty, come in lots of sizes and designs.  Let me know if you would like me to put you in touch with my friend who sells them.

2014-04-02 13.10.20 2014-04-02 13.26.54 2014-04-02 14.30.51 2014-04-02 14.33.01 2014-04-02 14.33.05 2014-04-02 15.50.28 2014-04-02 19.38.26 2014-04-02 19.54.51 2014-04-03 19.46.14 2014-04-03 19.46.23 2014-04-04 09.03.58

Are you blogger that would help promote suicide prevention?  Order one of these great shirts from Cristi.

2014-04-04 14.46.22 2014-04-04 14.46.30 2014-04-04 14.47.31

 

We had lots of fun with mega blocks, bounce house, pretty hair and playing outside this week.

Ten Things About Me

Sometimes, you are blogging along, and you hit a wall…no idea of what to write.  It’s been quiet around her for just that reason.  I don’t know how niche’ bloggers do it.  How they come up with posts every day on the same topics.  I blog about a bunch of different things, mental health, kids, homeschooling, faith, so on and so forth…and yet, the well runs dry.  So I am very glad my friend Kim, at Make Mommy Go Something Something awarded me the Liebster Award.

Liebtser

 

With this award, comes a list of questions, also known as blog inspiration.

  1. Are you that guy in your neighborhood who feeds the wildlife?  Well, kind of.  I throw the random ends to the bread that we don’t eat out to the squirrels, but we are not THAT guy.  He lives on the end of our street.  Just across from the golf course.  There are lots of ducks in the golf course.  They have lots of babies.  He puts food out.  The ducks know it.  They walk across the road with their parade of babies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Best case scenario, they back up traffic as we all wait for them to go across, worst case scenario, someone isn’t looking and there is one less baby waddling after mama.  I say he’s misguided, but trying to be nice.  My hubby says he is fattening them up to fill his freezer.
  2. Where do you write? (10 bonus points if you admit that one of those places is the bathroom. Don’t lie. We all do it.)  I write in the kitchen.  Next to the stove.  It’s where the computer is.  We also homeschool in the kitchen.  There are days I only leave the kitchen to go to the bathroom, where I sometimes text, but never blog.  True Story.
  3. My New Year’s Resolution was nothing.  I didn’t make any.  I am a challenge and plan kinda gal.  Checking things off a list is my kind of deal, but right now, I am not keeping up with any of them.  I am not keeping up with my decluttering.  I am cleaning stuff out, but I am not going to hit every area I planned, nor will I have 40 bags gone by the end.  I am not keeping up with my Mother’s Day Challenge.  I was supposed to do an exercise video twice last week.  I got the treadmill once.  This week I am supposed to hit the treadmill three times, so far, nada.  And my squat, push up and plank challenge was hit or miss.  Dude, listing all of this I am shaping up to be quite the loser.  We are plugging away with homeschooling.  This week we havfe been working on telling time.  Caitlyn is currently playing a time-telling game on the iPad and Sue is working with the clock to show times.
  4. Lucky Charms for breakfast or are you one of those “I like my heart” kind of people?  Personally, I am totally a Lucky Charms person.  But these rugrats that call me mom eat them too dang fast, so we stick with the “slightly” healthier options, Honey Nut Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheats.  They last a little longer and come in bigger boxes.
  5. What are your thoughts on global warming? Kidding. Do you like pizza? Some people don’t like pizza and those people cannot be trusted.  You do not want to know my thoughts on global warming.  I am not trendy.  I am so glad the real question is pizza.  I love it Kim!  You can totally trust me.  I like the cheapo pizzas, I like gourmet pizzas; their aren’t any I don’t like.
  6. What is your favourite colour and have you used that colour (or a variation of it) to paint your walls?  So, do I correct the Canadians’ spelling in this question or let it slide???  My favorite color is lilac.  In our first house, my hubby kissed up to me by painting three rooms lilac.  In this house, we have lilacs on some wallpaper, but that is it.  It is a sad little  house.
  7. What do you look forward to in the spring?  SENDING MY KIDS OUTSIDE.  There is lots more that I look forward to, but that overshadows them all so much, they aren’t even worth mentioning.
  8. Is there a piece of jewelry that you wear every day? Is there any significance to it?  I wear my wedding ring every day.  I have a charm bracelet I used to wear every day, but my hubby got me some new charms so I took it off to get them put on and haven’t gotten over to the jeweler.  I feel like an ingrate, but I’m not, I am just dreading taking three kids 7 and under to a jewelry store.
  9. Cold pillow or warm pillow and are you a pillow flipper in the middle of the night? I am not a flipper, but otherwise, I have no idea.  I think I prefer warm, but I really don’t know.  I guess I’ll have to cover it with my new therapist on Monday.
  10. Favourite picture of you and why?  My wedding pictures.  I’m sappy and they represent the start of a whole new life.  The life has sometimes been hard and challenging but it is worth every.single.second.  Those are pictures I love.

And now in accepting this award, there are some rules.  Here they are:

  1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award.–check
  2. Answer eleven questions the blogger gives you.–she gave me 10
  3. Give eleven random facts about yourself.–in addition to the questions?
  4. Nominate eleven blogs that you think are deserving of the award.–look out, I am coming for you.
  5. Let the bloggers know you nominated them.–I’ll be back to figure this out.
  6. Give them eleven questions to answer.–Umm, can I steal Kims’ and just add one?