Year in Review — 2015

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? Became an advancements chair in Cub Scouts.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little boy. My sister had a baby girl. My good friend also had a baby girl. It’s been a baby bonanza over here 🙂
4. Did anyone close to you die? Aunt Marilyn.
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? Serenity.
7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 6. When Ben finished his part of the Townes Super Nova award.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Going to AHG camp with Katie. I’m not good at camp settings and up until the time we left I was thinking of reasons not to go.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not managing to take Ben camping once before he belonged to the dance studio again.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I broke my toe when we came back from camp. It was a long recovery. Also the usual colds and asthma related issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A 64-gig iPad mini. Space is awesome.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I’m proud of Katie and Ben. Katie switched AHG troops and has taken to the change like a duck to water. Nothing phases her. Ben didn’t make the easy choice for Boy Scout troops and it takes tons of character to buck a trend.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Most politicians (with a few notable exception).
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy and Amazon. I think they are dead even.
15. What did you get really excited about? I’m not sure I got really excited about anything this year. It’s been a weird year.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2015? “Day One” — Matthew West; “He Moves, You Move” — Audio Adrenaline; “Not Right Now” — Jason Gray; “The Unmaking” — Nichole Nordemann; “Safe” — Westlife; “You Got Me” — Gavin DeGraw; “Grace Wins” — Matthew West; “Exhale” — Plumb
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? I think I’m a bit happier. We have a lot of tension and struggles right now, but hopefully we can get more sanity and grace this year.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Just be with the kids instead of trying to orchestrate our time together.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Time on Facebook.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. It was a crazy, fun day.
21. Did you fall in love in 2015? With my phone.
22. Think of something important to mention. It is not impossible to love more than one dog.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? CSI: Cyber; Scorpion. Netflix: Gilmore Girls (how did I not watch this show years ago????)
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? Blueprint Homeschooling
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? I Am They.
28. What did you want and get? A new iPad with way more memory and Ticket to Ride.
29. What did you want and not get? I don’t think there’s anything I wanted that I didn’t get this year.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Inside Out
31. What did you do on your birthday? I think I was at the dance studio with the kids.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A family vision.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Capri pants/jeans and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Music and Netflix.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney (though he is no longer “available” so I may need to rethink this now).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Tamir Rice.
37. Who do you miss? Michelle O.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Karen P.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015. Never Underestimate the power of prayer.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

 

And all those things I didn’t say

Are wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight

can you hear my voice:

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m all right song

My power’s turned on

Starting right now

I’ll be strong

I’ll play my fight song

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

’cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

“Fight Song” Rachel Platton

Evolving Theory of Homeschooling

I’ve been homeschooling since Ben was 4 years old. We started out doing what we can generously call school at home. Ben did worksheets, lots of worksheets. But as we’ve progressed in homeschooling, I’m finding that I’m not satisfied with school at home and I’m not comfortable working on the “conveyer belt.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson Education. Both of these are gentler forms of education and put less pressure on the kids and allow them to develop a more natural love of learning.

Of course, Ben is suspicious of anything new or that even smells like pushing himself. It takes time and patience to get him to try new things. What I’m learning from all of my reading is that he needs to see me doing things, hard things, and pushing myself to encourage him to push himself. I also know that I need to work along side him and help him learn how to do things himself.

I think about this stuff in terms of Ben because Katie’s love of learning is natural whereas Ben’s has been a struggle to bring to life. He did love learning when he was little, but I think I pushed to hard on the wrong things and didn’t give him a good chance to get a foundation underneath him.

He’s having successes in classes and that is huge for him and I’m seeing him express more interest in learning than he ever has before, but I know I can’ t push and that I have to take my time in order to get him where he needs to go. Fortunately, time is something that we have.

Year in Review — 2014

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Became a squad leader for American Heritage Girls.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little girl, and another friend gave birth YESTERDAY to another beautiful little girl.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Sam
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Peace. I would like very much for my life to be more peaceful
7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 10. The day we lost the bravest, most stubborn dog in the world.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving the almost overwhelming waves of grief.
9. What was your biggest failure? Being afraid of making waves and speaking up when things aren’t going right.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Usual assortment of colds and lung issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Thanks to it I have finally achieved planner peace.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I’m not sure how to answer this. We were all grieving and we all handled it differently — some more productively than others.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Kids who have apparently been taught that different means bad. It’s like reliving my childhood.
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy (and I will gladly give her even more; the kids are thriving there).
15. What did you get really excited about? Zac Brown Concert.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014? “Drink a Beer” — Luke Bryan; “Compass” — Lady Antebellum; “Overcomer” — Mandisa; “Thrive” — Casting Crowns; “Keep Me in Your Heart” — Warren Zevon; “Remember Me” — Mark Schultz; “Shine” — Newsboys; “Keeping Score” — Francesca Battistelli; “I’m Not Going to Miss You” — Glenn Campbell
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Very sad. Trying to build a new normal without Sam has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. And so very hard.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Expressing grief in front of the kids so they’d know how to do it.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Listen to other people tell me that she was just a dog. Caring about others’ opinions about anything.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. I went to Christmas day service again. So glad we’ve started doing that 🙂
21. Did you fall in love in 2014? With Spirit FM. It’s radio I can actually have on in my car and not worry about what the kids are hearing.
22. Think of something important to mention. Choosing a word for the year can be simultaneously the most exciting and most difficult things you can do to yourself.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? Criminal Minds (although I’m watching on Netflix and not current). Also loved Gracepoint.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Francesca Battistelli
28. What did you want and get? A new phone with more memory than even I can use.
29. What did you want and not get? More time with Sam.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Mom’s Night Out
31. What did you do on your birthday? I don’t remember.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A family vision.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? Capri pants and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Friends who understand me.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney (though he is no longer “available” so I may need to rethink this now).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Balancing gun rights with the right to not fear being out in public.
37. Who do you miss? Sam.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Rowena.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. Unexpressed grief leads to anger which leads to much larger messes than just admitting you’re grieving and letting that happen.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I am a mess; I am a wrecking ball

I must confess that I still don’t get it all

Lord I believe that all your words are true

It doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with you.

I press on. I press on. I press on. When I still don’t get it. I press on.

“Press On” Building 429

Easing Back In . . .

with a little story of homeschooling success. Ben uses Life of Fred for math, but he mightily resented the Honey cards and memorizing multiplication facts. This wasn’t a serious issue for him until about chapter 5 of Kidneys when he announced that he felt he should have paid more attention to those math facts earlier on and wanted to know what he could do about it. As luck would have it, I had discovered a fascinating card game called Speed. We have been playing Two Speed for a couple of weeks now and yesterday, Ben came up with a proposal. He wanted us to let him work on each level of Speed for a month and then test him to see if he knew his facts. If he did, then we could move on to the next level of speed. I counter-proposed that we work on Speed for two weeks, try the test, and if he didn’t pass, do two more weeks and try again. He agreed.

He took his Two times table test today and aced it. He was bursting with pride and showed the test to his dad. He then demanded that we get out Three Speed and work on that. He is very proud about that.

He is also fascinated by a new book called The 52 New Foods Challenge although he’s not thrilled with some of the foods on the list. I did not realize that this author also has a game out: Crunch a Color that will be in our hands today. If I can even get him slightly interested in eating food that isn’t white, I will consider it a huge victory.

We have been hanging in there. Some days without Sam are really hard, some days we seem okay. The kids are busy with lots of activities and I am determined to start updating this blog more regularly. Mostly with homeschooling stuff and dog stuff, but we’ll see where we go. I’ve missed being out here in the blogosphere and I hope that this time I’m really coming back.

Triumphs

Ben has had a series of breakthroughs in the last few weeks that are nothing short of remarkable. I think some of my readers know that Ben is a dancer. He doesn’t just take dance; he’s a dancer (big difference, at least in this mom’s opinion). He started ballet in October and it has been a serious struggle. He didn’t like it. He was frustrated because he just couldn’t seem to keep up and get his body to do what it was supposed to do. He’s a natural tapper. You can explain a step to him, he’ll fool around with it for a few minutes and then he’s ON IT. But ballet is not coming as easily and he was frustrated. Then literally the Tuesday after Sam died, his ballet teacher changed. This was a decision that was in the making for a while, but the suddenness of it was a bit of a shock. Fortunately, he knew the new teacher (she was Katie’s teacher last year), and he adjusted to her pretty quickly. The thing is he’s about a year behind the girls in his class, and he knows it. About three weeks ago, he asked me if I thought he could take some private lessons. I told him that if he wanted to do that, he needed to ask his teacher and work with her on a schedule. And he did it. The funny part is that everyone was shocked that he wanted private lessons for ballet. But he has a goal, and improving his ballet technique is part of reaching that goal. He has his homework for the next couple of weeks and he’s pretty committed to doing it.

We started back with All About Spelling recently because he doesn’t like the way spelling is taught in Learning Language Arts through Literature. He loves everything else about the program, but not the spelling, so we agreed to go back to All About Spelling. He’s discovered he can spell a lot more and a lot better than he thought he could. Yesterday, we tried an experiment and discovered that he can type a response if he’s dictated to, so we have dictated phrases and sentences in the last two days and he has done them all right. He is so proud of himself, and he’s now understanding what the purpose of learning how to type actually was. Hoping that means he will actually start working on that again.

He’s also finally getting a grip on how to harness his imagination and powers for good. I can’t wait to see who he becomes. We’re on an amazing ride with this kid.

Year in Review — 2013

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? Rode the Gator Falls flume ride at Lowry Park Zoo and got involved in Cub Scouts.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little girl.
4. Did anyone close to you die? My Uncle Brother died in February and my Uncle Delbert died in July.
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Peace. I would like very much for my life to be more peaceful
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 29, the day that Katie managed to ask Dr. T all the questions on her list and get permission to do almost all the things that she wanted. June 25, the day that Sam was given six to eight weeks to live. November 30, the Iron bowl that none of us thought Sam would live to see. Surprise!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Accepting that I am not able to do regular classroom teaching at this time.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not doing a better job of defending Ben when needed. Not stepping in fast enough.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Usual assortment of colds and lung issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Time with Sam via medication. Pain pills are her best friend and mine.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Katie’s. She is definitely developing into an independent young lady (at 5).
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People who can’t see beyond politics and policies to people.
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy (and I will gladly give her even more; the kids are thriving there).
15. What did you get really excited about? The kids’ first real recital and going to see the Nutcracker (and having Ben express interest in being IN the Nutcracker rather than watching it).
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013? “10,000 Reasons” — Matthew Redman; “I Will Be Here” Stephen Curtis Chapman; “Tunnel” — Third Day; “Don’t Try So Hard” — Amy Grant; “Live Like That” — Sidewalk Prophets; and, “Let it Go” from Frozen (movie version, not single version).
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? I am working toward happier. I have a handle on where the issues are and I plan to make a complete revolution of 2014.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Taking care of myself and my marriage.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Running around for other people.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. Although I went to Christmas Day service at my church and it was fantastic.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Perdue’s Simply Smart Gluten-Free Chicken Strips.
22. Think of something important to mention. Cherish every moment you get because you don’t know what will be your last.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? Top Chef and Undercover Boss.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? A Million Little Ways
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Sara Barielles.
28. What did you want and get? A planner that is more my size and more my style.
29. What did you want and not get? A pocket point and shoot camera that would take some burden off my iPhone.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Frozen. Although, 42 was also excellent. Oh, and I finally understood Meet the Robinsons and it has now become a total theme for our homeschool. Especially, “Keep Moving Forward”
31. What did you do on your birthday? I spent the day with my best friends: Mel, Sam, and P.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having a clearer sense of purpose and structure for our family.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Capri pants and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Having a doctor who loves his dogs as much as I love mine.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Sticking with George Clooney. At this point, I think he’s getting to be a habit with me (name that singer).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Healthcare. Seriously. Healthcare.
37. Who do you miss? My uncles. Seeing my extended family more regularly.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Andrea.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. I have to make my own choices and live with them.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know the hardest part is over?
Let it in, let your clarity define you
In the end we will only just remember how it feels

Rob Thomas – Little Wonders

Our Latest Food Experiment & an Unexpected Result

Trying to deal with Mr. Picky is really a full time job. He doesn’t like a lot of foods and he doesn’t like foods that touch. If it was up to him he would eat white food and that’s it, but it is a process. We keep trying and we keep seeing what we can accomplish. Enter Weelicious, I bought the first cookbook awhile ago, but no interest was generated. Then the lunches book came out and, suddenly, we had interest. A lot of interest. We have been experimenting with recipes for both breakfast and lunch and we’ve been having fun.

This week, we tried Cinnamon Roll Sushi. The recipe is only available in the cookbook Weelicious Lunches, but it is so worth it. Anyway, one of the ingredients is cream cheese. Mr. Picky was suspicious at first and didn’t think he would like it, but he’s apparently now a fan. He loves this and has eaten at least four times this week. It’s been awesome.

The unexpected side effect of having the whipped cream cheese in the house happened yesterday. Sam is on a VERY tight pill schedule. She has to have them at precise times or we see her go into serious pain. It was time for her meds and I discovered that we had used the last of her peanut butter that morning. I was tossing ideas around in my head (which didn’t involve the car and loading kids into it), when I thought about the cream cheese. She’s never had it (I know 15 1/2 years old and never had cream cheese; yes, I’m a terrible person), and with Sam it could either be a good thing or a bad thing. So, I loaded her pills into a wad of cream cheese, rolled it up to look like a meatball, and took it to her.

Sam is a naturally suspicious dog. She believes that every person approaching her with food is doing so with the intent to poison her. She checks out everything before she eats it. So, the head came down to look at this weird ball of stuff in Mom’s hand. After determining that it wasn’t an explosive, she sniffed it. I got the fish eye. This usually means she’s going to reject whatever it is, but today, she decided to give it the lick test. The tongue came out for a small taste.

And then it happened. Her eyes lit up, and she scooped up the cream cheese ball and wolfed it down. And then licked my hands completely clean. That NEVER happens.

So not only is Weelicious introducing my son to food that he might never otherwise eat, it is helping me keep my elderly dog properly medicated. Have to love that :).