Sunday Journal: Field Trip Week

img_1355-628x640I really should have tried to keep a daily diary this week. So much happened that I am sure I’ll miss capturing most of the week. I’m considering writing a nightly draft this week for the next weekly post…maybe.

This week we vacationed and crammed our days full of field trip opportunities. Sparkles turned eleven on Monday and Oldest turned thirteen on Tuesday. dsc02999-640x480I’m now the parent of a teenager. I asked Oldest how it felt to be in his teens and he replied that he does not feel any different…just his “same old self.” I let him know that particular feeling about getting older doesn’t really change no matter the number of years.

20160919_133922-457x640On Monday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. We found a path we had managed to miss the first two times we went and explored the rain-forest center too. We saw the new baby giraffes and watched the red panda roam around. Littlest (or was it Middle Boy?…not sure) wondered if we would see a rabbit. Just as soon as I doubted there were rabbits at the zoo we found a black floppy ear bunny in the barnyard area. Figures, right? Littlest wore his Batman cape most of the day (the week really) and got a bit miffed a few times when 20160920_115939-480x640people asked him if he was Batman. He would either ignore the commenters or inform them that Batman isn’t real and he was just wearing a costume. Some of the creatures in the nocturnal building did react to Littlest’s bat cap. Maybe it was the ears sticking up…who knows? One particular owl just followed him from one side-to-side. Even though it was amusing it also kinda creeped me out. I like the nocturnal critters, it is one of my favorite places to visit at the zoo. The sand cat is my favorite just because she is so cute. The place is also covered in poetry about the animals and night-time. The homeschool-mom nerd in me loves the poems…

dsc02832-640x480Later, in the afternoon, we went to Chamoda’s Candy Cafe. If you are ever in Cincinnati or near by then stop at this wonderful candy store. They let the kids sample nearly everything and I believe the store motto must be “try before you buy”! The chocolate was very tasty and they have the best gummy candies I’ve ever tried. My husband doesn’t even like gummy candy but he did enjoy Chamoda’s gummy bears. The kids were in candy heaven and Sparkles got extra treats since it was her birthday.

20160924_144028-457x640On Tuesday we headed out to Mammoth Cave. On the way we stopped by Best Donuts in Lawrenceburg. We treated Oldest to an extra donut for his birthday. One of the owner’s treated me to a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll…best ever!!! We then loaded back up and traveled to Mammoth Cave and arrived in time for the 9:30 a.m. tour. I always said that I would never-ever go in Mammoth Cave. Traveling deep under the earth far away from sunlight is dsc02815-640x480frightening to me. I found enough courage to trek with my family 250 feet below the surface through narrow tunnels and dark caves. I did it. Never going back. I’m not gonna fuss about it too much since one of the tourists was a ninety year old lady from Alaska! Her younger husband (all of seventy-three years) complained how difficult it was to keep up with her. I’ll bet they have an dsc02806-640x480interesting story. Littlest wore his bat cape and a few people asked if he was scouting for a new Bat-cave. He posed by the “do not touch the bats” sign. He thought the cave was okay but that it would have been more fun if he would have been allowed to climb on the rocks off the path…the rangers were not crazy about that idea.

20160923_111006-480x640After leaving Mammoth Cave we went to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We looked around at the corvette displays and I slept through the history video. The most interesting (and sad) part of the museum was the display about the cave-in that happened a couple of years ago. They marked the floor where the sink-hole developed and the edges of the cave. I’m glad that I experienced the cave-in simulator after touring Mammoth Cave!

20160924_132118-480x640Wednesday and Thursday were spent here in Frankfort. The Kentucky history center was very nice and had several interactive exhibits that the kids enjoyed. After ward we went on a tour of the Old Capitol which is actually the third capitol building…the first two burned. If you have kids the tour is way too long! We were pretty excited when the alarm suddenly went off and we had to leave! We then went to the Kentucky Military History Museum which is housed in the old arsenal…a really cool looking fort overlooking the river. I liked the military museum and was surprised to see Santa Anna’s epaulettes! We then went up to the old graveyard and visited Daniel Boone’s grave. His grave gives a nice view of the capitol building and valley. Right over the stone wall you can dsc02885-457x640still see the path where ammunitions were brought from the arsenal (the military history museum) to the river below. We met a fella (from Buffalo…or Boston…I don’t remember but one of those big cities that begins with a “B”), he told us that Boone’s bones may not be buried there at all. Some say parts of his remains are still in Marthasville Missouri. Anytime I hear talk about moving bones around it reminds me of the movie Poltergeist…which gives me the willies.

dsc02906-640x480After visiting the graveyard we drove up to Fort Hill which overlooks downtown Frankfort. Military fortifications were built there to protect the pro-Union government during the Civil War. We plan to visit again when we get to the Civil War in our studies this spring. The park has several walking trails, earthen fort embankments, an 1880’s cabin and exhibit/visitor center and living history programs. We are looking forward to learning more about the Fort Hill.

dsc02790-640x457The next museum we visited was the City Museum. Here we learned all about the history of Frankfort. The first drawing of Frankfort was done by a British POW during the War of 1812. We learned about the assassination of Governor Goebel, that Frankfort is a mispronunciation of Frank’s Ford and on and on…The City Museum and the Military dsc03020-640x480History Museum both tie as my favorite museums in the city. They are both kinda laid back kid friendly places. Our last touristy visit in Frankfort was to the state capitol. Wowser!!! The building and grounds are beautiful and opulent. It really is something to see…

dsc02927-640x457Friday we toured the Ale-8-1 factory in Winchester. Middle Boy loves Ale8, he could hardly wait until Friday. We got to see some of the bottling process, smell the secret formula and enjoy (some of us anyway) a fresh cold bottle of Ale8! Littlest wore his bat cape again to the delight of nearly everyone he encountered. He resignedly explained he was not 20160922_114348-480x640Batman. “I am Sam, not Batman”, was a bit of a mantra this week. We then went home and crashed for the day tired from all of our fieldtrips and explorations this week.

Saturday was a nice visit with our friends Cindy and June. I love them both to pieces and never visit with them often enough. Shannon and I cooked up a great big ham dinner, we feasted and had a great time. I made an onion-less version of hashbrown casserole. I had to make the recipe up while shopping at the grocery store. The recipe calls for a can of cream of chicken soup but since one of our guests is allergic to onions and Sparkles’ Ulcerative Colitis doesn’t always get along with onions I had to start reading labels to come up with alternative ingredients.

Alternative Hashbrown Casserole

mix together in large bowl:

1 tablespoon chicken base (Better Than Bouillon)

I can evaporated milk

I pint sour cream

1 teaspoon pepper

melt one stick of butter in 13×9 pan while preheating over to 350 degrees Farenheit

add one thawed bag hashbrown potatoes to mix in bowl and then mix in two cups shredded sharp cheddar

pour potato mixture into pan with melted butter, top with a handful or two of shredded cheddar, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes

remove foil and broil until lightly browned on top

If you do not have Ulcerative colitis or an onion allergy then add a small diced onion and two diced cloves or garlic with the hashbrowns. Or just use the cream of chicken soup recipe on the internet. Also my ingredient volumes are approximations…I didn’t measure anything.

Change

I chose the name At the Well because I identified with the woman at the well. She was an outcast in her society and faith community. She bore her sins publically, fetching her water during the heat of the day avoiding polite society. Still, Jesus spoke to her. He shared powerful words with her. I wonder just how much she understood him. I’m not sure that I understand…not in depth anyway.

I love well shared words. The words of Jesus were beautiful enough to send me to a monastery centuries after he walked among us mere mortals. To this day my favorite words are those that belong to Jesus. I love poets because they share living vibrant words. My mind constantly swims with words. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I drown in words. I have to write the words in my head or I go a bit mad. I need to write as much as I need to breathe.

My first writings on this blog were violent. I needed a place to speak my thoughts and feelings about being raped by my father. I bottled the rage, shame and fear all my life. I could not talk to anyone and I’ll never be able to speak to a therapist so don’t bother mentioning. If I could actually speak to anyone about the violation it would be to my husband. But how could I possibly talk to him if my words were too painful to share vocally. How do I tell him that sometimes my mind goes to dark places when we are together…a darkness that is not his responsibility to bare.

So, one night I let the rage loose, released the shame and exposed my fear in writing. I poured my soul onto a blog post and felt release. I put in painfully descriptive writing what my father had done to me and my emotional pain. Once the words that burned me were put down I felt lighter…free. I didn’t feel so lost and my days got better. The relationship with my husband improved. I healed.

Later, when we decided to homeschool I started blogging about the experience. When I joined a curriculum review team they asked me to take my personal posts down. I should have told them to take their judgmental selves elsewhere. But I did not. I caved because I wanted to be accepted. And only whole healthy people are accepted in certain circles. So I picked my shame back up and deleted my posts. I engaged in other forms of social media as required by the team. Later, I joined another review team and was told how and what was permissible to write. For these teams I had to build a persona that fit their mold.

So, At the Well is no longer my primary writing space. I’ve thought about this for nearly a year or so now. I no longer identify with The Woman at the Well and this space has come to symbolize a painful chapter I am ready to close in my life. I will continue to maintain this blog (especially for my professional contacts) and post occasionally (for my husband to share on his social media). But my personal writing, poetry and art will not be here.

If you want to tag along pop me a note and I’ll send you a link to my new home. Otherwise, goodbye and I give you all my love. Thanks for reading and sharing.

I’ve left the well in pursuit of…

Sunday Journal: Just Another Week in Paradise

Littlest and his history book.

Littlest and his history book.

I just drank a pina-colada the size of a rainstorm so this might be a bit rambly. You’ve been warned.

Well, the drink was mostly pineapple juice. Vitamin C for the day (or possibly the week)–all taken cake of. I indulged in my weekly cocktail too early tonight. Now that the massive (maybe not that massive) storm has passed I would like to go on my evening walk. But since I might be too sociable with the neighbors due to my rum infused beverage…maybe I’ll just stay in for the evening.

poetry tea time

poetry tea time

Yesterday my husband and I got to go out together for the first time alone since December. That was nice until I got sick. So that kinda sucked. Our time together was great albeit short lived. Maybe we can do that again sometime before Christmas (without the sickness this time). He did get me a totally cool bulletin board made out of rulers while we were out. I plan to use it as a vision/intuition board in the school room. A little place to post prayers and ideas and such.

birthday cake

birthday cake

Sparkles made and decorated a birthday cake for Shannon (my husband-her Daddy) this week. While she prepared the cake I made the cream cheese icing. He opened a few gifts and we had a nice little family night.

Sparkles decorating cake

Sparkles decorating cake

I’m gonna brag on Sparkles for a moment. When she first started taking her medication she complained constantly. I thought this was going to be a real battle with her. However, she completely took charge of her pill regimen. She learned which pills (10 pills daily plus a fiber powder) she needs to take and started taking care of herself. I wasn’t expecting this much independent self-care from her so soon. I still check-up with her daily just to make sure…but she took responsibility just a bit quicker than I anticipated. We will

Sparkles making cake

Sparkles making cake

all be glad once she goes off the steroids since they affect her moods and eating habits but otherwise we are very happy with her body’s response to the medication. She isn’t so miserable anymore and her pain is clearing away. We meet with her doctor again in a couple of weeks for a follow-up and I hope to get more of our questions answered about UC.

School is swimming along just perfectly. Sometimes we have

Littlest learning piano from Oldest

Littlest learning piano from Oldest

some drama filled moments but overall the year is off to a great start. We are quickly approaching our first project week and I’ll have to get the shopping done for everyone soon. I figure the project week will either be great or a total disaster…probably a combination. Our first of five terms is nearly completed. Are we “behind schedule?” You bet! Do I care? Not one bit!

dew drop on Sunday morning

dew drop on Sunday morning

On a personal note–I actually prayed this week (the Jesus Prayer with my old Rosary) and even read a passage or two from the Bible (from Job—as if I even have the grace to understand that book!!). I’m not really sure that I addressed my prayer to the Christian concept of God but I broke my stubborn silence anyway. I’m still finding my way in the murkiness but at least

little bug with my macro lens

little bug with my macro lens

the red-hot pissed-off anger has passed. My husband and I did discuss looking for a church after the Labor Day holiday. I assured him that wherever he and the kids decide is best I will follow along and promise to be polite. I want my family to be happy and the older three have all expressed to me their need to return to church in their own way. Personally, I am open to exploring other avenues of expressing spirituality. Our world and all of the cultures that exist herein are so vast and fascinating; I have the desire to explore them all.

It is amazing out there…

 

 

Sunday Journal: First Full Week Back

20160815_104602 (640x480)Our first week of the academic year is now history. Even though I would not call it catastrophic in any sense of the word…the days certainly had their moments. I also just didn’t get my walks in this week and I guess that did not help my mood at all. I’m fairly certain that the less alone time I get the worse it reflects on my humanity. Really, I’m rather terrible.

Being introverted can be hard sometimes…like having a monster in my

first day of school fun cereal

first day of school fun cereal

Well, I’m not sure what should follow after that…I kinda lost my flow since the kiddos came and gave me “goodnight kisses”.

Guess my introverted monster isn’t as bad as I imagine since my peeps still love me enough for kisses and hugs.

Littlest in the school room full-time was fun this week. He loves his Logic of English reading lessons so long as I leave the games

Littlest working on his lettering

Littlest working on his lettering

out. He tells me he only wants “serious school not baby school”. He got really mad this week when we hit a review lesson and he didn’t “learn anything useful”. He insisted we do the next lesson right away. I also have some Kindergarten workbooks just to keep him busy (I know…busy work is bad). The workbooks have the directions and answers for parents on the same page. Littlest realized that he was capable of reading the answers and could self check his work. He thought that was hilarious! Clearly, he’s outgrown Kindergarten after one week of school.

Boots and Bach

Boots and Bach

Two little words came to my mind at that moment and one of them isn’t very nice…

One of our favorite moments of school this week was listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. Our kitty Boots was sound asleep during the entire hour or so of read-aloud time. As soon as I turned on the music she sat up and listened and was a still as the Sphinx of Egypt. Once the music was over she curled back up into a little kitty ball and snoozed for hours. Even though we went through the series of questions and talked about the instruments we heard and the emotions stirred…we’re all curious to know if Boots will react the same way during our next Bach appreciation moments. Serious science right there…

Oldest took his first science exam since we started homeschooling. I was happy with his results and I know he will improve now that he knows what to expect. He is using Dr. Wile’s General Science this year and in one of the essay questions he had an entirely different opinion than his book on the reasons for scientific advancement during the Renaissance. The author argued for Christian worldview and Oldest argued for the printing press. He’s twelve and already arguing with his textbook/authority…it is going to be a fun year.

The Road Ahead: Curriculum for 2016-17 Year

20160815_080425 (640x480)Choosing curriculum is time-consuming, sometimes fun and always hard. I usually end up doubting myself and wondering if something would work better. This year was a little different . I didn’t have the big “What have I done?” moment this time around and feel happy with the choices the kids and I made together. I guess that is the difference this year…the kids helped pick their books. Grade level gets harder to pinpoint each year too. The longer we homeschool the wonkier our grade levels turn out and I’m not sure the distinction is necessary in home education. But for those who need to know– Oldest is in seventh and Sparkles is in fifth. The younger two are straddling grade levels with Middle Boy a fourth-ish fifth grader and Littlest a Kinder-first grader.

BFB guides

BFB guides

Naturally, we chose to stick with Beautiful Feet Books for our history, literature selections and writing projects. We love BFB and the family behind the company. The guides and the books always lead to “big juicy conversations” (a Brave Writer term). We may be discussing history but we also talk about choices, morals, character, religion, politics and the struggles within human nature. The guides and the chosen books always inspire me to come up with projects. I build plenty of margin space for these history inspired

lots of BFB books

lots of BFB books

projects into the yearly calendar. Littlest will use Primary Early American History and the middle two will work through Intermediate Early American History. Oldest is using Early American and World History and next summer the older three will study through the Western Expansion guide. Littlest will take a couple of years to complete the primary guides for American History and Character.

some of our history projects for this year

some of our history projects for this year

Language Arts was absolute drudgery last year. This year they will all begin IEW’s Fix It for grammar. The kids all approved of this curriculum and since we started at the beginning we could fly through the first few books…if we wanted to. But we do not and there really isn’t a need to do so. On occasion we’ll pick up an Arrow or Boomerang from Brave Writer during the year for fun and a little

first day of school

first day of school

change of pace. We’ll continue with Poetry Tea Time and freewriting from Brave Writer as well and I plan to enroll them in another online class in January. This year Littlest joined in with the freewriting topics by dictating his thoughts to me. He loves to see his own words on paper. The older three are continuing the poetry and composition courses from Blackbird and Company. Littlest is using Foundations from Logic of English to learn to read. I could not be happier with this curriculum for reading instruction. The crew is also working through MENSA’s Year of Living Poetically. This was started last month and they are already memorizing their second poem.

first day candy bars

first day candy bars

Everyone has their own math. Littlest is still working through MUS’s Primer. He also has geo boards, tangrams and other geometric manipulatives to keep his hands busy during read aloud time. Middle Boy is using Christian Light Education and supplementing with Beast Academy. Sparkles is using Math Mammoth and Oldest is finishing up Christian Light Education sixth grade math. He is ready for pre-algebra and is trying to decide between MUS or Math Mammoth. I’m considering Math Without Boarders for the high school years. Everyone will need a new level of math by December.

20160815_183139 (640x480)I had a hard time finding science curriculum. I just wasn’t happy with most of the available selections. I do like Dr. Wile and ended up sticking with his books. The younger crew love his elementary science books and Oldest started with General Science. We’ll also watch a ton of science documentaries and I plan to get Curiosity Stream on ROKU too.

For Christian studies we are working through Pilgrim’s Progress but I haven’t decided what we should do after we finish toward the end of September…

20160815_183000 (640x480)We added art and music appreciation studies from Simply Charlotte Mason. We’re listening to Bach and studying the art work of Botticelli, Giotto and Van Gogh. We’re still working through Barry Stebbing’s Nature Drawing and Journaling course but will finish it up soon and move onto ArtAchieve.

projects

projects

At certain points during the year we will set all academics aside and work through projects together. Oldest is going to make a stop motion movie and possibly move on to robotics afterward. Middle Boy found a Minecraft STEM and art project book that he plans to use and Sparkles is going to learn to sew. Our group project is knitting and we will all be making hats, scarves and socks this year. I’ve

art

art

been on YouTube learning all of the various knitting stitches by making coffee cozies. That way I’ll already have a clue when the kids pick up knitting needles for the first time.

Everyone will work on their keyboarding skills and Littlest will be introduced to the computer. The older three are still taking piano lessons and Littlest is showing a bit of interest in learning piano too. He’s working on a little song right now and trying to remember the location of middle C. Once he does that he’ll be way ahead of me…

That’s our year in a nutshell. I’ve left white space in our schedule for bunny trails and whispered moments of inspiration from the homeschooling muses.

Sunday Journal: Break Week

Littlest on his day out with Daddy

Littlest on his day out with Daddy

We took a break from school this week while my mother was visiting for Sparkles’ procedure. Tomorrow is our first official full day of school for the new year. All of the books and baskets are organized and ready for tomorrow…and hopefully the rest of the year. Over the last few weeks we worked on establishing our morning routine so tomorrow should roll along smoothly. Go ahead and laugh if you want. I know tomorrow will not go as planned. But for the moment I would like to pretend the children will be delighted to learn math and write compositions with happy smiles.

I like to indulge my delusions sometimes.

Grandma and Littlest

Grandma and Littlest

My mother’s visit went fairly well this time around. She spent more time with Sparkles than she ever had before. I was busy the first part of the week tending to Sparkles and spent the latter half of the week prepping the school room. My husband finished the shelving and I was able to get all of our books out of the hallway and organized for the year. At some point this year the cabinets will be painted to match the shelves later this year. I’ve ordered a storage bench to fit along the window and I plan to get some nice curtains to add some color and softness. We have a couple of hummingbird feeders

school room ready for tomorrow

school room ready for tomorrow

outside our window and I spent a bit of time watching them this week. The little birds are fun to watch and the females are quite content to share the feeder but the males chase each other constantly. The lovely little hummers will prove to be a nice distraction during our time in the school room. I feel so very blessed that we can have a school room.

I knitted a coffee cozy

I knitted a coffee cozy

I am also glad that I had the room to work on during my mother’s visit…the work kept me from feeling pinned down by her. In a way, I feel badly that I left her to her own devices during her visit but I also know that the experience was less stressful for me (and everyone that has to live with me). She did say a few things that irked me but I let them go…well, my husband knows.

Anyway, Sparkles seems to be responding well to her medicine since her diagnosis with Ulcerative Colitis. She wasn’t happy to

Sparkles and Boots

Sparkles and Boots

be taking so many medications at first but has already adjusted. I can’t blame her. I avoided my doctor for two years when he mentioned that I might need cholesterol medication. My daughter may take too much after me…One of the ladies I met at the retreat last month was also diagnosed with UC at the same age as Sparkles and she has generously answered so many of my questions and given awesome guidance. We are so blessed that Sparkles was diagnosed so quickly and that we have recently met some really amazing people who can guide us. For many people a diagnosis takes years…yet we managed to encounter the right people at the

Poetry tea time

Poetry tea time

right time to get our daughter treated relatively quickly. She is a blessed little girl.

Tomorrow I plan to take first day of school pictures. I have some fun unhealthy kid cereal to set out on the breakfast table for in the morning and candy bars to put at their places in the school room. It isn’t much but hopefully it will help the day seem special for the kiddos.

The Anticipated Day

Glad to be home and watching Harry Potter movies.

Glad to be home and watching Harry Potter movies.

Today we finally learned the name of Sparkles’ nemesis: Ulcerative Colitis. We still need to wait for lab results to confirm. However, her doctor was certain enough to give us paperwork to read and prescribe medicines to begin her treatment.

She’ll never get over it. This is forever. No cure.

I have not even begun to work out my thoughts and feelings. I cannot even imagine how my little girl will process all this new information. Right now, she just wants to feel better. And I want to make this forever disease go away but all the wishing in the world cannot change her life story now.