My New Favorite

I was super excited that Garth Brooks made his announcement that he would be touring once again.  Even better than that?  He and Ms. Trisha Yearwood would be touring together.  This fan girl is totally geeking out!  I really hope they come somewhere near me!  I really do!  I don’t care how much tickets are, I will go! 😉  (Okay…if they cost way too much I am too much of a stingy person to allow myself that kind of frivolity…I just am.  Sigh.  I suck!)

Garth’s comeback concert will actually take place in Ireland, where he will be playing Croke Park, a place he visited and entertained like 150,000 folks in 1997 over 2 days.  He said he would love to come back once Croke Park Stadium was finished.  It has now been like 10 years since Garth performed in a stadium like that…on his own.  He has performed other places, namely his one man show in Vegas at the Wynn.  But I digress, Croke Park is now complete and he will be entertaining about 400, 000 folks when his concert tour kicks off in July.  5 days…80,000 people.  And all the tickets sold out in less than 2 hours.

The reason I am so excited about Garth’s comeback is that he is a true showman.  His voice might not always be on par…but damn, you get a good show.

I love this song…and I love even more that’s based on a true story. Who hasn’t been through this with a love? I know I have…And I love that Garth is so in love with Ms. Trisha. Listen to the end…he’s almost crying at the end. Chills every single time. I am going to play the hell out of this song every time I’m on air. You can listen to me online at TRFradio.com or use the free TuneIn App for your phone. 99.3 KKDQ Thief River Falls, Mn.  I’m on from noon to 3pm, Mondays and Tuesdays and most Saturday mornings from 6-9a.

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An Interesting Word

We have been struggling with our 2nd daughter for some time.  Maybe struggling is not the right word.  Maybe I am using the wrong word to describe our often…difficult…relationship.

strug·gle/ˈstrəgəl/verb

gerund or present participle: struggling

1) make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction
2) strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance
3) have difficulty handling or coping with
4) engage in conflict
5) make one’s way with difficulty
ID-10013872
Nope.  We have definitely been struggling with her.  We just cannot seem to understand her; nor she us.  She fights everything we try to do.  If we are ‘up her butt like a ham sandwich’ (good imagery there right?)…or we are giving her space…it never seems to be the ‘right’ thing.
And it breaks my heart.  Because I want for my child to be happy.  I understand she is going through a lot of changes right now.  We are homeschooling for the first time.  Her best friend left this past summer.  (Mine too!)  She is going through hormonal changes.  And now…we have discovered an unsettling trend.  She seems (and I am not a clinician, but all signs point to this) to have a slight eating disorder.  I mean, it either is or isn’t…close enough only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden ‘Message’ / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I found this online and thought it was brilliant!

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This really helped us put things in perspective with regard to her and we trying to make it work.  She is not exactly a complete introvert, but there are a lot of similarities for her and it was a good talking point with her.  I showed her this chart and asked her if she thought that any of these applied to her and she nodded her head and said yes.  Okay.  We can and will work with this.

ID-10016888Now before you think I have left the eating disorder issue, I have not.  It’s just one more cog in the wheel of how this child ticks.

Through some research and observing her behaviors, my hubby and I think she has what is known as ‘Avoidance/Restrictive Eating Disorder’.  (The link it to a site we stumbled upon about Restrictive Eating Disorder)  She has been limiting things she eats and then avoids situations where she has to eat at all, particularly at a family friends house.  This has come about in the last month or so.  She has been cranky.  Lacks focus.  She has gotten skinnier than she already is.  When I hug her, I can feel her rib cage and her spine.  Mind you, she has always been on the thin side…so this is not normal.  Dark circles under the eyes.  Just a whole lot of things, that when taken separately might not mean anything, but when put all together…they produce a bigger picture that is not healthy.

Image courtesy of Idea Go ‘Corda Strappata’ / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know, I have been there.  Oh believe, me…I have been there.

I was a figure skater in my tween/teen years and I know about restrictive eating disorders, but because I ate, I didn’t think I had an issue.  Boy, was I wrong!  Counting every calorie, limiting my intake and avoiding certain foods are all part of this cycle…but because I still ate food…I thought there was nothing wrong with me.  I exercised, ran, swam…did aerobics and skated on top of that!  All while probably only eating enough calories to get me by…but because (in my mind) I was still eating meals, there was nothing wrong.  I didn’t binge.  I didn’t purge.  I didn’t even starve myself.  But if a package said, 5 crackers was 120 calories, I would only eat 5 crackers.  It wasn’t until I was older and had my 1st child that I realized the problem I truly had with food.  And I still struggle with my weight.  (There’s that word again!)

The point is:  We are watching, monitoring and hopefully, making the best choices when it comes to her well-being.  We don’t want her to get to a breaking point.  We don’t want to get to a breaking point either.  We are trying to teach all our children that food is good for you.  That everything needs to be done in moderation.  Sigh.  Parenting is hard.

Today was a better day.  We monitored what she ate, but didn’t do it in a way that called attention to her.  Made sure she ate foods that were rich in protein and not just junk.  She ate a healthy lunch.  So it’s going to take a while, but as with everything else, I know it will be worth it.  And a light…a glimmer of good…when we prayed over our food today for lunch, she actually grabbed my hand and joined in!  Lately, she has also been rejecting prayer too.  Sigh.  I know.  Lots going on with this one.  BUT…we are prayerful and thankful that we have our Lord to guide us through this.

Struggling with it All…

ID-100904As a mother who homeschool’s and works, I often find it hard to find time to even breathe.

It is a tricky balancing act…one in which, inevitably, someone is not satisfied.  Someone is mad and upset.  Someone is usually crying.  That someone is usually me.

I read something freeing the other day:  “We homeschool not to teach like a school at home but to make our children love learning, 7 days a week at all hours.  We teach them control, confidence and character.  Our home is a classroom filled with wonder and is always on.”  (Sorry for not quoting you properly…or citing where I read it, because I honestly cannot remember)

I loved that.  It freed up some of what I have been thinking about, some of the guilt, like how will my kids measure up?  Measure up to who though?  My own pre- conceived notions of what they should be learning and what I think they would be learning at school.

I am learning too.  I have one daughter who is an extrovert with some introvert tendencies.  I have another who is a total introvert with a few extrovert tendencies.  Learning how to be with both of them as an extrovert (I mean, dude…I am the poster child for extrovert) has been a challenge.  I am your typical Type-A personality.  See something, make a plan, go after it…get it done.  My daughters’ ambling and plodding drives me slightly insane.

My son is learning, unfortunately, from his sister’s that there are some things just not worth his time…or so he thinks.  I am unlearning (is this a word?) this behavior and making him face up to his mistakes.  He has learned to make some great excuses.  Today though, after lunch he told me he was going to get back to work and not make excuses for not doing his work.  He wanted to be done.

We have instituted a schedule now.  My girls are up at 7am.  My boy at 8.  They have classes they have to take and an format to follow.  I am hopeful that this will help my introvert child have more structure which I believe she needs.  My extrovert child likes to watch TV.  There, enough said about that issue. 🙂

I am working two part time jobs.  And not because I have to…or maybe because I do but not for monetary reasons.  I love them both for different reasons.  One because it gets me back into the profession I love and the other because it get’s my creative juices going.

My husband and I are working more as a unit and are prayerful, watchful and eager to see where the Lord leads us.  Some days it feels as if I am in a swampy land with lots of lichen and cobwebs…and other days I see us on a plateau and there’s nothing but soft, even ground to be covered.  Going to the horizon.  Those days are sometimes few and far between…but they make me appreciate them all the more.  I am more aware, more awake than ever that what we are doing is for His Glory and not ours.  It is humbling and sometimes a heavy burden…because I want to be weak.  I want to be sinful and I want to let my flesh have it’s way.  But I resist…I resist for the greater good.  I resist because my children are watching.  Oh my Word are they watching.  And we are unlearning behaviors, together.

"Image courtesy of Rainbow by Robert Bell / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

Adventures in Homeschooling Continued…

Things seem be working much smoother than before.  We have made some changes to our homeschooling schedule and routine.

Our 2nd oldest is now using the Abeka Video Tutorials.  Honestly, Gentle Reader, I got tired of fighting my child.  It was such a struggle to get her to listen to me, to learn, to be an active participant.  And she fights…oh how she fights.  And she’s not fighting the homeschooling…nope, it’s just her natural response to fight me.  Sigh.  She’s the one who kicked my pelvis on the way out when she was born.  Yup, she sure did!  I felt those tiny little toes push off my pelvis as she made her way into the world!  I even said to my hubby, “She kicked me!”  So, not such a big surprise she fights me now.

Our oldest is doing well…but we seem to be battling an internet addiction.  She knows she is supposed to ask us if she can go to any online sites besides those required for her school…but we have found that she likes to waste time looking at YouTube and other sites just for music or to watch fan made music videos.  We don’t want to stifle her creativity but at the same time, there are rules that need to be followed.  We have also found that our child hides her true self by being loud and silly.  She doesn’t like to talk about her feelings because it’s messy and ugly and yucky.  She can’t get the words out and I understand that, I was once a 14 year old girl too.  Surprise, surprise!  We are slowly working with her so she can open up to us and get all that out.  Double sigh.

Our boy is doing really well with the curriculum we have set for him.  We are using a hybrid Abeka system with him.  We use Abeka and other resources and he seems to be doing amazingly well.  I sometimes worry that I am not teaching him enough…but then some of the work I give him is more geared to a 2nd to 3rd grader, and he reads it; understands it and can comprehend what is being asked of him so I feel he is doing good there.  We study different people in history, the states and have fun.

The littlest one…she’s soaking it all up.  I am reviewing site words with my boy and she sits in the review with him, and I am hoping that it will start to come to her as well.  We will see.  She can count up to 12, but after that has a hard time understanding the concept.  12 is a stumbling block for her.  But she can write her own name (three letters, and two of them are the same!) and is in fact, writing on just about every scrap of paper she can get her little chubby hands on.  She recognizes the entire Alphabet and can write all of her letters.  She makes my heart smile!

We use several online resources.  They are:

www.abcmouse.com (monthly subscription)  Great for the Pre-K or kindergartener in your home.

www.enchantedlearning.com ($20/year)  Lots of printable and fun activities to do.

www.ixl.com (monthly subscription)  Math practice for Pre-K up through Algebra 2.  English for 2nd-4th grade with more grades coming.

www.brainpop.com (free and monthly subscription)  Pre-K through 12th Grade.  Lots of fun videos, games, quizzes.

www.khanacademy.org (FREE!!!)  Science, Math and more!

 

I constantly question if we are doing the right thing by homeschooling the kids…and whether or not I am truly hearing God correctly, because you know there are days…oh there are days…when I want Him to say :SEND THOSE KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL…but He is silent on this matter so far.  But…but…but…when I see that sparkle back in their eyes, when I see that light emanating from them…when their joy is infectious and laughter abounds through my home…I am at peace.  Until the next crisis/fight/fiasco.

As I told another homeschooling mom, I don’t think I will ever know if we made the right decision until they are successfully ensconced in college and are doing well.  A lot to hang your hopes on, but it’s what I will take for now.

Blessings be on you Gentle reader.

Adventures in Homeschooling

So…we have survived the first week of homeschooling.  It was not pretty.  In fact…it was rather overwhelming, which is a bit embarrassing to admit especially when I have the curriculum, the lesson plans…the whole 9 years laid out in front of me.  Am I good enough to teach my own kids?  What makes me qualified to think I can teach my kids?  I am not a teacher, am I?  I mean, I’m pretty good at having kids, but actually teaching them?  Oh dear Lord, sister…that is a whole different ball game!  I love it when doubt rears its ugly head.

My 2nd Oldest.

My 2nd oldest was rather upset that her version of home school…and my version of home school were apparently vastly different.  She thought it was going to be easy-peasy…and well, I selected curriculum that is more geared to where I feel she should be.  We researched lots of curriculum and I chose the one I did because it reflects our beliefs and it also believes in a firm foundation of fundamentals to help a child achieve academic success.

I have learned that my 6th grader does not know how to put together a simple sentence.  By that I mean, she can write sentences, but she has no idea why what goes where.  This was something I did not know and makes me feel like a loser for not knowing that my daughter was struggling this much in a basic English function.   She simply does not know what a subject of a sentence it.  She does not know what a predicate of a sentence is.  She does not know how to separate the two nor does she understand how to identify them.  Whoa!  This is an issue.

She absolutely refused to write in cursive.  A 10 minute lesson took between 30 and 40 minutes to do because she was that resistant to actually doing the work.  Once I got her back in line and focused she did it grudgingly.  The next day, no problems.  She did it without complaint.  Score!

The first day she flipped over her spelling words.  35 in all and we go over the Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes.  Again, a lesson that should take no more than half an hour…took almost an hour and a half because she fought it.  Today…she only missed 6 in her pre-test.  And we laughed through most of it.  Yay!  Another win in my book!

Science and History she has not fought me on.  We just got her math in today and will start that on Monday.

But already, her attitude is improving.  Thank You, Jesus.  And I am not being facetious about that.

What have I learned?

I do not have to go by what the pre-written lesson plans say I do.  I was starting to freak out and worry because we are already “behind” based on what my books say we should be.  Day 1, Lesson 1.  Day 2, Lesson 2…Day 3…still on Lesson 2.  OH CRAP!  We’re falling behind.  Here comes the stress.  I hate stress.  I do not thrive well in a stress environment and if I am stressed, then baby you know my whole family feels it.  But wait.  Who says we have to follow the lesson plans verbatim?  No one.  Liberty and freedom! 😉

I have learned if we have to take more time to make sure the lesson cements in her brain…then that is what we are going to do.  If it takes a week to get her to understand Imperative, Declarative, Interrogative and Exclamatory sentences and their sentence structures…then we will.  If she needs a remedial course in subject and predicate then that is what we are going to do.  I don’t want to shuffle her through because she is “acceptably” meeting the standards.  I want her to exceed the standards because she understands it.  I want her to comprehend it and be able to put that knowledge to good use.  Knowledge itself is not power; Applied knowledge is power.  Learn how to use it…and she will.

My son.

My son is in 1st grade and has the attention span of a gnat.  I can get through his lessons in no time flat…and I worry because it’s like: I sent him to freaking school for 8 hours a freaking day.  The boy cannot sit still in his seat without his little butt cheeks scooting off and half sitting/half standing at the table.  How in the world did her survive 8 hours?  the 1st 2 days I gave him “busy” work because while I was doing lessons with my older girl, I felt he should be doing something.  How boring is that?  So on the 3rd day, I took him later.  Let him play with younger sister and watch TV and draw and read and go outside.  His lessons got done and he was super happy.  And tired.  The boy ran around outside and played and played and played.  He has slept well.

Our mornings.

Our mornings are nice.  My husband gets up for work and makes coffee.  He wakes me up, wakes up the kids.  And it’s a nice way to get up.  No rush, rush, rush to get clothes and sandwiches and lunches and breakfasts all done before the bus driver comes screeching to a stop in front of our house.  Nope.  We watch it pass by and I breathe a sigh of relief.  There’s no screaming.  It’s rather quiet, considering.  My daughters are not snipping at one another.  They in turn are not yelling at their younger brother to stop being a lump on a log…and I in turn am not yelling at all of them to get their collective butts in gear.  Sigh.  So far, so good.

All in All.

All in all, things remain good.  My oldest is going to public school online and she is loving it.  She’s been doing it for 2 weeks now.  She puts in between 6 and 8 hours a day on the computer and there’s no homework…for now.  She is totally busting butt on it and I am so proud of her.  She gets up, turns on the computer and goes to work.  She gets herself up before 8 a-m and is at “school” by 8; checking into her classes and starting her lessons.  She goes to a “live lesson” once a day and is contact with her instructors throughout the day.  She seems to be enjoying it and is being challenged which we both enjoy!

This was not an easy decision.  It was something we prayed over, fought over, cried over.  It is not for everyone, but is the right fit, right now, for our family.  It totally has to be something that God puts on your heart.  Yeah.  He’s our decision maker right now.  And it’s scary and comforting to know that He is leading us.  Be blessed, friend!

So…what’s happening?

An update on my life…not necessarily in order or very succinct.  I have little time.

Friends moved.

Helped said friends.

Kids went to camp for music and art.

Work, work and more work.

Garage sale.

Cleaning house.

Paying bills.

Getting ready to homeschool.

Basically freaking out.

Yup.  That about sums it up in a nut shell.  When I have more time I will write more on everything or on one of the things…but right now…I have to feed my kids and get ready for work!

Blessings be on you today Gentle Readers!

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! this book by Elizabeth Camden.

Into the Whirlwind is definitely a whirlwind book.

The book takes us through the tumult the Great Chicago Fire and the aftermath.  We meet two people, Mollie Knox and Zach Kazmerak.  Mollie is the owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company.  Zach is the lawyer and main procurer for a large department store.  They know each other on a purely business level but we begin to understand that Zach is more than a little interested in Mollie.

Zach’s employers wants to make a deal with Mollie to buy her watch company.  This includes all papers, watch designs, parts…everything.  Mollie does not understand everything and is a bit overwhelmed by Zach and his speed of doing business.  Mollie is a plodder.  She needs to view a situation, make calculations and then decide on what the most favorable outcome will be.   But some unfinished business between her father and the owner of the department store brings about a large share of mistrust and miscommunication between Zach and Mollie.

Will the two of them ever be able to come to an agreement or will there always be mistrust between them?  Will Mollie ever get her watch company back up and running after being destroyed physically and spiritually by the Great Chicago Fire?  You have to read to find out.

I really enjoyed this story and it truly sucked me in.  I liked the development of the characters and the pacing.  Mollie Knox is someone I can relate to and she is likable.  I understand her feeling of being overwhelmed running a business and trying to keep it afloat.  There is an isolation in that no one, but a fellow business owner can understand.  So many people depend on you!

I fell in love with Zach Kazmerak.  He is street smart, business savvy and a bit ruthless.  But under that polished exterior lays a poet who wants love but can never get it unless he compromises his loyalty to his boss.  And it’s his loyalty as well as his unflagging strength that pulled me to him.  I have always been a sucker for a hidden poet…whose easy on the eyes and who also knows the importance of a long days work.

I really felt for Mollie and Zach.  I think part of that reason it intrigued me and sucked me in is that I can relate to the whole fire experience.  We had our own little fire in our town almost a year ago and so I can totally commiserate with the whole thing albeit on a much smaller scale.

Character development, plot line and story pacing are wonderful.  There is plenty of descriptive writing and enough history woven on the pages that you actually feel like you could be reading a first hand experience of what happened to many folks during those awful 36 hours and the subsequent aftermath.

If you like reading a little bit of history melded with a wonderful love story and hard-working folks then Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden is a great start.

I was sent this book by Bethany House Publishers and I am not required to give it a good review but I did because I liked it.