Just a Loss

A half-marathon.  13.1 miles.  I want to run that.  All of that.  I am afraid that might be a pie in the sky goal.  I have been running consistently and often.  I push and push but it takes all I have to eke out 3.1 miles on the treadmill.  That is a far cry from the 13.1 I need to make running a half-marathon a reality.

I almost gave up yesterday.  I literally sat and cried after not being able to push myself past the 3.1.  I came darn close to writing off the money I paid for the half and just realized I am not that strong, that I am the weak person I was always told I was.  The ladies in my fitness group rallied around me and gave me a lot to think about–running every step, walking and running, being a little easier on myself.

Got a smile after a run no matter how good or bad it is.

This morning I talked to my hubby and talked about how much I really want to run it.  We decided we need to get me off the treadmill and outside running more (as much as winter will cooperate), so today, right after church, I layered up and set out.  I did 4 miles running with an average pace of 13 minutes, 47 seconds per mile.  That’s slow compared to some, but a pretty awesome run for me.  My legs are short, I have just started pushing my pace in the last two weeks.

Running today felt a lot better than yesterday.

The Bipolar has been a jerk the last few weeks…and then this week there seemed to be hope.  I was talking to people, I was going places without feeling panicky.  I thought church today would be easy.  Last week I couldn’t bear to go into our Sunday School.  Today, I waltzed right in, I talked too much, it seemed to go well.

So on to church.

The panic hit as we got into the main part of the church.  We were having to go so far forward.  The row we ended up in had people at both ends.  I wouldn’t be able to get out.  I grabbed my hubby’s hand as we sang, but all the sudden it was too much.  I grabbed my purse and ran out of there.  My wonderful hubby followed me.  We sat out in the foyer area and listened from there (the church projects the sermon out there).  But the panic kept building and building, so I took a Xanax for the anxiety.  We were sitting in an open area so I thought I would be safe to not fall asleep.  To my great embarrassment, I was wrong.  I fell asleep.  I tried so hard and it was just a loss.

Bipolar is such a jerk.  I hate it so much.  Why won’t it just leave me alone?  I just want to breathe, I just want to go about my life.  And I am stuck, being a big loser.

Check it Out

I had the privilege yesterday of sharing my thoughts about Bipolar Disorder and homeschooling over at Midlife Boulevard.  I talk about how I balance the two, how my girls contribute to making it work, and what the struggles are.  Please check it out.

Homeschooling and Bipolar Disorder.

A Bit of a Political Post

I originally blogged about this a couple weeks ago, but when my blog was hacked this is the one post they deleted.  I am trying to re-corral my thoughts here.

I have watched a frustrating and disturbing thing happen over the days since Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Education Secretary.  I have seen many people on Facebook declaring that they are “just” going to homeschool now.  I have seen others say “that’s why I homeschool.”  Both of those do a disservice to those who homeschool or have their children in a traditional educational setting.

“I’m just going to homeschool.”

Well, you could.  It is an option, but saying that flippantly does a disservice to those who homeschool.  Homeschoolers, just like parents who have chosen any educational option, have done so for a myriad of reasons.  I have not met a single homeschooler who has chosen to do so for just one reason.  Nothing is ever that simple.

Nor is homeschooling as easy as one day waking up and taking your child out of a traditional education setting.  Homeschoolers pour a lot of themselves, their time, and their resources into teaching their children.  We work very hard to choose the materials we will use, how we will structure our day, how we will instruct each subject, each child.

Sue is working on a Science worksheet, Patrice is telling me something…

Making the decision to homeschool is not easy.  The actual process of homeschooling is not easy.  It is not a thought or idea to be thrown around lightly.  It is deserving of much thought and consideration before it is undertaken.

“That’s why I homeschool.”

Really?  That’s why you homeschool?  Just so you don’t have to deal with public policy?

That is extremely short-sighted.

As I stated above, people homeschool for a myriad of reasons.  It is never as simple as just one factor.  And any homeschoolers that claim there is just one reason is misleading those around them.  Let me walk you through why our family has chosen to homeschool:  we want to have the flexibility of homeschooling, we have concerns about bullying in the schools in our area, we have experienced deficits in the education of our daughters, and we want their education to have a more Biblical approach.  I am sure there are some that I am missing, but you see my point, there are many, many reasons we homeschool.

I believe very strongly that all homeschoolers choose this educational lifestyle for a number of reasons.  Saying it is just for one, is not being honest or considering the whole picture.

Being a homeschooler does not free us from all oversight at the local, state and national levels.  While states vary widely in their homeschooling requirements and oversight, decisions undertaken at all levels of government have the possibility of changing how we can oversee how we educate our children.  The Secretary of Education has influence on all education within our nation and it is very possible decisions she makes will affect our rights and freedoms as homeschoolers.  When we choose to homeschool, we are not completely walking away from the educational system in our country; those who think they can do so are ignoring reality and the impact it has on the life we lead.

Education is not an us against them endeavor, no matter what type of schooling your child(ren) is getting.  Just as in so much of life, it is something to be done together, promoting respect and cooperation.


Pull Up A Chair

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.


Pull up a chair, we’ll have tea, and I’ll tell you how things are going.

I still feel light as air, most of the time.  My mind stays quite quiet, most of the time.

I’d like to end the story there, but I’ve been living a lie and I think it is time to tell the truth.

I am not living on easy street.  My mind is still playing games and causing me to struggle.  A couple weeks ago it started with waves of anxiety.  One after another slamming against me, taking my breath away, and knocking me off balance.

Wave after wave.

My mind has gotten frantic.  Harder and harder control.  I am working hard to channel it.  I am working out daily, all through the day.  I am taking all of my meds as prescribed.  I have an appointment with my doctor, the earliest he could get me in.

Just a few weeks ago, I sat calmly in my doctors’ office, all going well.  He said I could wait 3 months to come back…the longest since my mental health issues started over 6 years ago.  I was so excited.

Then the mania came.  Wave after wave.  I found myself in tears while folding the clean towels because I could not fold them even faster.  Then I was at my computer shaking because my fingers could not keep up with my thoughts.  I spent the next week bouncing from mania to depression, all over the map.

This is not the first time I have been through this.  Bipolar has sent me struggling many times, but somehow I always forget how to cope.  I always forget what I need to do to get through the struggle.  One of these times, I have got to take notes on how survival works.

If you ask me how to get through, I can’t tell you, but I must know, because here I am and this morning is better than yesterday morning.  So, I’ll just keep breathing and praying and moving til I get through this Bipolar round.

Thank you for sitting with me.  Thank you for listening to me and how I am doing.  You are part of my team that helps me survive.  Thank you.

One Hundred Days!!!

We are 100 days smarter…well the girls are, I’m not so sure about me…

Today was our day to have fun with the 100th day of school.

We did writing activities, decorated hats, and made a paper chain.

HAPPY 100th DAY!!


When Your Legs Don’t Work Like They Used to Before

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This song is in my running playlist.  It gets me every.single.time.  Because it IS in my RUNNING playlist.

I was not a strong, healthy child.  I was not coordinated.  I was not tough or competitive.  I was not encouraged to become any of those things.  Then, at the age of 15, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).  Walking became a day-to-day question.  I landed in a wheelchair.  All those words spoken about how I couldn’t do things seemed to be spot on.  I couldn’t do anything.

Then a true miracle happened just over 11 years ago.  I went into remission from the MS.  I have now been in remission from the MS almost as long as I dealt with active disease.  Remission.  That is a beautiful word.

Medical Definition of remission. : a state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated <cancer in remission after treatment>—compare arrest, cure 1, intermission. (Mirriam-Webster  Dictionary)

A state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated.  In the midst of having babies, working, keeping up with life, I almost didn’t notice the remission.  It was just there and I almost took it for granted.

Then, after Sue was born, I started exercising and running.  All the sudden the value of remission and what it really meant, and was, hit me.  Here I was, the girl who wasn’t even supposed to be able to keep up with a household without bringing in help, according to the doctors, past her 20s, was in actuality, working, raising two kids, kind of keeping up with a house (as much as I ever had), and now, learning how to run.

Running.  Me running.  The girl who had always been told she couldn’t do things.  That she wasn’t strong enough for what other kids did, running.

Every step I take, whether it is fast or just barely moving, I do to the glory of God.  He is the one who saw fit to give me back my balance, to give me back my strength, to give me back my legs, to give me back so much more than I could ever ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

He has given me so much.  And I am thankful for all of it.  And now I am dreaming big.  I am dreaming of picking up my pace so I can run with some other ladies in a relay (me??) and even bigger yet, I am dreaming of running a 1/2 marathon in September.  I have even gone so far as to register for the race.  I have put my money where my mouth is and in 245 days I will put my feet where my heart never dreamed they would be.

It’s a long journey, getting from those first running steps with the Wii fit until today, but today found me braving the elements like a good Michigander and getting in a few miles.  I had to do some tiptoeing through ice, but it felt great to be outside.

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The Battle

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This blog post has been churning inside for a couple weeks.  I realized an anniversary was coming…a year ago today I entered the hospital for treatment of depression, bipolar, and suicidal ideations (meaning I had a plan).

I had spent months working with my doctor to try and get my medication right to get my mind stable.  I took my meds daily, put one foot in front of the other and did my best to be a good mom, wife, homeschooler, and Christian.  It just wasn’t working.

Finally, I reached the point where I needed more intensive help and I needed to be kept safe from myself.  I ended up inpatient again.

This day has been messing with me.  Part of me is thrilled to be able to say I am doing great.  I am.  I have days that are rough, I have days I have to scale back on what I planned to accomplish as I can’t take that much human interaction, I have days that I end up sleeping several hours in the afternoon, I have days that make my head spin.  But for the most part, I am doing quite well.  I am working with a good doctor who knows how to use medications very effectively to manage bipolar disorder and anxiety issues.  I am using exercise and my network of friends to help me with the challenges that arise.

It all works together.

It’s been a journey.

I fought a hell of a battle with postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis 6 years ago after the birth of my youngest daughter. Coming through it wasn’t the straight, easy course I thought it would be. On the other side of Postpartum Mood Disorders, I found Bipolar Disorder, but I kept fighting and I am here. I am here to exercise, I am here to love my family, I am here to homeschool my girls, I am here to fight every day to be here.

Potato Salad and Memories

Caitlyn finished reading her book this morning.  With a lot of prodding.  It was due to the library today.  Our library allows two renewals and that’s it.  Times up.  Hubby says, “just remember where you left off and then check it back out in a week or so.”  That just doesn’t fly with me…read the book…you’ve had 6 weeks.  Get it done!!!  Caitlyn is a very capable reader, but it is not one of her true passions.  She has so many other things vying for her attention.  She has her arts and crafts, iPad games, and way more television options than I had growing up, even with us getting rid of cable.

Caitlyn is a very capable reader, but it is not one of her true passions.  She has so many other things vying for her attention.  She has her arts and crafts, iPad games, and way more television options than I had growing up, even with us getting rid of cable.  Reading just doesn’t always rank for her like it did for me growing up.

I am coming to grips with this reality.

In the meantime, a library trip was on the schedule today so we could return the book.  We got some schoolwork done and then headed to the library.  As I was parking the car, I said, “did we remember the library book bag??”

Um, no.  So back home we went–to get the books.  On the plus side, I hadn’t put money in the meter yet and we don’t live 45 minutes from the nearest library like I did growing up.

Growing up.  I lived “out in the country” where it is still actually “out in the country.”  We had a big garden.  We had farm animals.  We grew our own food.  The local butcher lived down the road from us.  Meal planning wasn’t trendy, it was necessary because grocery shopping happened once a week, if that.  My mom did a great job of canning produce so we had a lot of staples throughout the year and she kept the pantry well stocked.

One food I don’t remember us ever growing, though I think my aunt does now, was potatoes.  Those got bought from the store.  And somehow, making potato salad for my dad became my job.  It was always a big job.  Remember the extra humungous Tupperware bowl and lid set?  We had a yellow one and a batch of potato salad filled it.

I was super proud of making my dad his potato salad.  He liked it pretty bland by most standards.  A massive amount of potatoes boiled, peeled, and cut up, another massive amount of eggs boiled, peeled, and cut up, a little bit of onion cut up and added, and just a smidge of mustard to give it extra color.  That must have been its purpose because it sure wasn’t enough for flavor.

I made that potato salad over and over during the summer.  I loved making it.  I was so proud that my dad wanted me to make him his potato salad.  So proud, but I hated eating it.  It was just yuck to me.  And it stayed that way until I was in my 30s.  I just hated the stuff.

Until I was pregnant with Caitlyn.

Then, I loved it so much.  I literally dreamt of potato salad.  Any version, any brand.  Just hand over the potato salad and nobody would get hurt.

And I still love it!!!  It is even one food I can have on the low FODMAP diet.

So don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here wolfing down potato salad while the family has ice cream.


Plants Plants Everywhere

Go ahead, ask me which subject I like to teach the least…science, yup…that’s the one.  Not that I didn’t enjoy it in school, I did.  I worked hard to understand all of it, but it paid off.  I did get to repeat one year..I know, horrors of horrors…but it wasn’t my fault–really!!  I went from one school to another.  School A was a year ahead of School B in science, so I got to repeat the class.  I liked the second teach better, so it wasn’t all bad.

So why the my hesitancy to teach science with the girls?  At first, it was because we all hated the curriculum I had.  It was so textbook heavy and quite a drag.  Now, it is more of forgetting it and pushing it aside.  It must be.  I have  a great program that is very hands on.  The girls love it.  On the days we do science, the girls all have something to tell daddy about what they learned at school.  And yet, I get lazy.

But I  have decided to turn over a new leaf.  So, it seemed appropriate to focus on plants, how they grow, what types there are, and how they enrich our lives, as we kicked off school after the new year.

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Our science activity actually said to make a plant man to grow plant hair on him…why do that, I say, when you have two chia pets in the house just waiting to grow hair?

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See that six-year-old that used to be in speech therapy?  Here she is pontificating during science about SOMETHING.  She is always talking about SOMETHING!!! (and I love it most of the time)

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In this activity, the girls made flowers, with stigmas (sticky labels), and pipe cleaner bees) to show how pollen (coffee grounds and sugar) gets carried from flower to flower.

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Yes, two K-cups that were previously shunned by the coffee drinker, were harmed in this experiment.  Who knew decaf coffee and chocolate flavored coffee would be a no-go?  It’s a risk you run when a die-hard non-coffee drinker buys the coffee.
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It has been a fun week of science.  Tomorrow we will explore how some plants produce fruit with seeds and some do not.

Control I Admire

Being the youngest means always trying to keep up.  Your sisters are bigger than you.  They are faster than you.  Their books and tv shows are a challenge to understand.  Their games are tough to follow.  But…no self-respecting little sister is willing to be left behind.

Patrice is no different.  She tries hard, she pushes herself, she works at it.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.  When it all falls together, there are lots of smiles.  When it is just beyond your reach, there might be tears.

My little girl works so hard to be able to keep up with her sisters.  She does an amazing job.  She finds tasks that she wants to work at and does it with all her heart.  She loves the monkey bars, she does great on her rollerblades and scooter.

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2016-06-15 18.51.09She is always working on the next thing.  And some of those things are hard.  Her most recent thing to tackle is playing cards, Spoons to be exact.  The girls were introduced to it on Christmas last week.  She is doing great hanging in there with the big girls, and the grown ups too!!  We played it tonight as a family.  We chose to do numbers to make up 2017 instead of the word spoons.  Sue was pushed out first, then Caitlyn, next Mommy, so it was just her and daddy left.  They both had 201–it was down to just one hand, and daddy got the four of a kind first–he was the winner.  We told her she had done a great job, but her little face got bright red as she fought to control her emotions.  She escaped to her room just as soon as we stopped talking to her.  She went in, gathered her feelings and started quietly playing with a toy until she was ready to come out.

She stepped away to collect herself.  She has been doing that since she was about 18 months old.  You rarely, if ever, see her throw a fit.    She has always chosen to go to her room and calm herself rather than explode with anger, sadness, or frustration in front of a crowd.  She will come and cuddle with me sometimes when she is sad, but more often than not, I go seek her out to make sure she is okay after she has escaped to her room.

Honestly, her reaction is an enigma to me.  I am a yeller.  My emotions come out fast and furious.  Every emotion I ever feel is written all over my face.  It is very, very rare that I think to step away before it is too late.  Actually, my girls know if mama steps away, they better just give me space because I am trying really hard to react well.

And yet, I have this little girl that is so in control of her emotions and so wise in how to handle them.  I marvel at her and her wisdom and I truly aspire to be just a little bit more like this little girl the Lord has given me.