Looking Back at 2013

I managed to actually accomplish a few of my goals for this past year…some I just had to let go as completely unrealistic. One of my goals was to help my brother…to open my home and family to him and provide him a safe place to recover and restart his life. I was really naïve about my brother and his needs. He didn’t really want to be with us and had no intention to cease engaging in his self-destructive lifestyle. My brother was constantly trying to drive a wedge between me and my husband…I started to feel like I was having to choose between my family and my brother. I guess my choice didn’t go exactly as my brother planned. On the positive side of it all our marriage endured this  crisis and was forged stronger. In fact everything that happened this year resulted in a stronger bond with my husband…which makes this year fantastic!

I rarely look at my stats page. I did not even know it existed until I joined the review team and they wanted to know my “numbers”. After turning in my numbers I was pretty sure they were going to turn down my application. They let me in anyway and I’m glad they took a chance my tiny blog. I had a great year with the team and am a bit sad to see my time with them is over. Just for fun I looked over my stats page today and thought I’d share some of the fun.

The “search term” stat is my favorite. I am always amazed by the terms that bring readers over here. The most used term that landed folks on my blog was “Christmas around the world study unit”. Last year I shared our Christmas Around the World unit study based on the Epcot World Showcase at Walt Disney World. That was a lot of fun…maybe I should add to that next year…

The second most popular term was “how to build Lego Stonehenge”. We built that for our first astronomy lesson and it took us a few hours to complete. The next two search terms tied and were for Christian Light Education reviews and Beautiful Feet Books curriculum reviews.

Here are a few of my favorite search terms…”Nuns then and now”…I’ve never really wrote about that topic. I used to be a postulant in a Passionist Monastery but haven’t really written much about my experiences…so that individual left my blog a bit disappointed. Here is a YouTube video of my community. The next search term was “how does plastic wrap keep an apple from spoiling”….well, that person left disappointed too. I did individually wrap the apples I bought in October in plastic bags for storage and they are still very fresh. We’ve eaten about a third of the apples I stored whole and every single one of them remains fresh…so far. Sorry but I really do not know why it works. I had nothing for this person looking for information on “husband refuses to try homemade yogurt”. My husband doesn’t eat my homemade yogurt either…or store bought for that matter.

I did, however, actually write about the next two search terms: “Beatersville 2013 gallery” and “trash can repurposed”. We went to Beatersville and had a blast looking at all of the amazing cars and people…it is kinda like Dragoncon for car people. We also repurposed our old beaten up trash can into a container garden for potatoes. The trash can worked quite well and the potatoes were very good.

Here are my top five posts…excluding the About page and the Home page.

1. Curriculum Crush: Beautiful Feet Books

2. Christmas Around the World unit study

3. Why I Use Christian Light Education

4. Lego Stonehenge

5. Christopher Columbus

Well, so long 2013! I’m not making any resolutions this year…just going to try to keep it simple and “walk the talk” as the saying goes.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures this year”


One Year Later

Exactly one year ago I received a phone call…a horrible cry for help from my brother. He was in the process of killing himself with alcohol…he actually died in the hospital from alcohol poisoning. I didn’t realize it at the time since he told me he was going to shoot himself after we hung up…so I didn’t hang up. After a while my husband had to take the phone from me since I was too torn to speak any longer…my sobs were so strong I could hardly breathe let alone plead with him to live. That evening was horrible and for the remainder of my days Veteran’s Day will always be a remembrance of one of the most tortured days of my life.

The military got rid of my brother as soon as they could. They (those who make the decisions to toss damaged soldiers out) are cold-hearted cowards. Their decisions were all about money and not about doing what was right by the soldiers suffering from the after effects of war and “peacekeeping”. The whole situation makes me sad and sick in my heart.

We took in my brother. Made room for him in our lives. Bought a storage building for him to keep his things until he could stand on is own feet. He refused to use the storage building and I realized he wasn’t interested in getting better. I told him he couldn’t drink around my kids. Anti-psychotic pills, alcohol and little children do not mix. He broke my heart when he didn’t care…broken in a way that cannot be fixed by apologies. He made me afraid in my own home…the old fear I knew so well growing up under our father’s hateful manipulative lies.

But I wasn’t the easy to manipulate sister he once knew. He tried to manipulate me against my husband. He tried to make me feel weak, small and afraid. He belittled my faith. I don’t take abuse anymore from anyone. No one scares my children in their own home…

We removed him from our home. And I cried for my little brother that I once loved and who I believe is no more. He could not break free of our father’s abuse and became just like out father. I cannot help him other than to pray for his soul. The only help my brother needs is Jesus…and he rejects Him.


Weekly Wrap-up: Family

Biggest working on his map

Biggest working on his map

We started the week visiting with family and wishing my husband’s nephew a safe trip to Kuwait. He is in the military and will be gone for several months. I enjoy seeing everyone…even if I spend some time hiding in the corner…but I found the reason for the get together to be sad and a little depressing. I couldn’t help thinking about my brother and how broken his military career and other life choices have left him. My feelings must have shown all over my face because I was asked a few times if everything was ok. I wasn’t sure what to say to my husband’s nephew so with a quick hug I offered my prayers and well wishes…I feel so awkward at family gatherings sometimes.

My brother also called me this week. We have not spoken since he left a while ago. He is on his way to rehab today. I really didn’t want to talk to him but
I also didn’t want to be his excuse for continuing to wallow in alcohol.

Today, as every Friday has been lately, was a fabulous day thanks to my dear friends. Our first year of homeschooling was a bit lonely and this year I have been blessed with them and their families and we are not so lonely anymore. After spending the morning swimming and visiting we went to the chicken coop to visit the baby chicks, turkeys and the new puppy. The puppy is spending time with the chickens because she will grow to be the “guardian of the chickens”. JR told me on the way home he was glad he didn’t have to grow up to be a chicken guardian…he wasn’t sure he could sleep in a place that smelled like chickens.

My favorite part of the school week was the work my children put into their maps of Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to America. They spent several days working on them. The project is part of the Primary Early American History curriculum we are working through by Beautiful Feet Books. First they drew parts of Europe and northern Africa on one side of their paper and then parts of the Americas on the other side. At first they all wanted me to print them some maps…I think they get bogged down by perfectionism sometimes. After a little encouragement they penciled in their continents and various islands and traced these in black crayon. Then they used white crayon in the Atlantic Ocean to make waves and then used watercolor to paint the continents and water. Next they used ink to label their maps and the younger two made little boats from construction paper and affixed to their maps. Oldest used pencil to lightly draw his boat and then used oil pastels to color it in. They also used a paint marker to show Columbus’ route.  They love this curriculum and beg, beg, beg for it every day.

Our biggest surprise of the week was to learn that Apologia chose our picture as one of the winners in their Facebook contest. We won a lab coat…not the top prize but still pretty cool!

Linking up with Weekly-Wrap-up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


Shuffle Time

Sparkles and Daddy off to a princess birthday party

Sparkles and Daddy off to a princess birthday party

mobile school in the VA office

mobile school in the VA office

Sparkles crying because she finished her math book

Sparkles crying because she finished her math book

The past couple of weeks has kept us busy. The kids are gradually finishing up their school material for 2012/2013 school year. JR is the only one with school work left. He is finishing up his last chapter of math. As each one finished I give them a Brain Quest or Bridging workbooks to begin for review and to keep us in the “school-time” habit. I am considering year round schooling and need something to have them work on until we begin our summer session on weak areas. I am very happy with our first year of homeschooling and just need some time to evaluate the year and make changes based on their needs and gather material for next year. My biggest question right now is do I hold them to a regular school year calendar or just let them go academically? JR is ready for second grade but all of his peers are still in Kindergarten. Oldest wants to begin fourth grade work now. I am struggling with this dilemma at the moment. For now, during our little break, I plan to get Littlest potty trained…no fun…blah!

with my sweet, sweet friend

with my sweet, sweet friend

I did get to go see my friend who lives near Nashville. Her husband tried to throw her a secret birthday party. I get the feeling there are few secrets around her. Anyway, she is a joy to know and is one of the sweetest (and prettiest) people I personally know. I took my brother and the younger three to the party with me. My husband and Oldest spent the day together at Sharp Shooters training. I hope to see her again this year and not wait another four years. The kids and I had a great time visiting and playing. I needed the time with friends and I am glad that my husband didn’t let me talk myself out of going despite the obstacles. I love my husband, he is the best.

the turkeys

the turkeys

We enjoyed the First Homeschool Days at Land Between the Lakes (LBL). The kids learned about owls and got to see a Barn Owl during the presentation time. The owl had been injured by a car and was now being cared for at LBL. Even Littlest sat with all of the other children and listened to the talk about owls. I am hoping for many more Homeschooling Days at LBL. My favorite part of the day was when the turkeys startled all of the kids with their gobbling. Everyone backed away from the fence right away and I’m sure I heard a few screams! It was really funny to watch.

We have been busy. Most of what keeps me busy is fun and enjoyable. Some of it…well…not so much. I need some quiet time…just not sure how to find the time.

A Quick Note On My Brother

First of all I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have expressed concern for my brother, offered prayers on his behalf, for the cards and many calls. Your support and continued prayers are very appreciated. If you are a little in the dark about what is going on you can catch up here and here. I’ve written a bit more about him but these two posts give you the big picture. (If you want to know more, type “brother” in the search box on my page.)

My brother will finally be here this week!!! My husband will make the drive to Ft. Bragg and bring my baby brother home…I am so blessed to be married to my husband. I kinda feel like I am sending my Knight in Shining Armor to rescue my wounded brother from the jaws of death. I know that sounds a little (ok more than a little) dramatic…but that is how I feel about my brother’s situation. My brother should be in a hospital receiving treatment for his PTSD…instead the military is just discharging him. I’ve got a tremendous amount of anger inside of me over my brother’s treatment from the military…so much that it is best I not share more than that for now. The way our politicians (can’t really use the word “leaders” anymore…that would imply some level of care for citizens) are treating our soldiers is just wrong…

Anyway…my brother will be here at the end of the week!! I am excited to have him here with my family. I know the best place for him right now is with us. Here he can rest and heal until he is well and strong. Looking back I can see how Jesus was preparing our family to receive my brother…Wow! My Lord provides! Please, please keep my brother (and all soldiers and veterans) in your prayers.




Embracing Nineveh

Last year I struggled with my childhood abuse. I really just wanted to bury my past and leave it there. I blogged about some of it through the Made to Crave study I did with Future Flying Saucers. I started the study to lose weight and begin a healthier lifestyle. Jesus chose to use the study to show me my need to forgive and surrender my pain to Him. I was quite content to ignore my pain and keep it all to myself…buried in my black-hole. No matter how hard I tried I could not bury my blackhole…it defined me. My pain was slowly killing me.

Some time has passed now. I am free of my past. I am no longer defined by my past. I have forgiven and am no longer bitter or angry. I live forgiven and cherish my newfound redemptive joy in Jesus. But toward the end of my struggles I asked the Lord why did I have to go through all of this…why was it so important that I forgive and surrender this past? I had this sense of urgency through the entire process that I must find a place of healing and peace with this constant pain.

Now as the days approach for my brother’s arrival in my home…I understand. If I was still nursing unsurrendered wounds I would be useless to him. Though I cannot understand his pain I can be a rock for him in his storm. My brother needs a strong shelter, a place of refuge and healing. Our home and open hearts are ready for him. Sometimes we go out into the world to minister to God’s people and sometimes his wounded come into our very own homes. I feel completely inadequate for the task before me…but my God is with me…He is my rock and strong shelter.

No running, no hiding…only embracing my Nineveh.

What’s Up With My Brother

Green RampSeveral of you have left me notes asking about my brother. He is ok at the moment. I worry over him every day and call him several days a week. He is in the process of getting out of the military and that takes a while. He could be out a bit sooner but he is pushing to get diagnosed and treated for his problems. He has PTSD and is being treated for it but the military will not give him the diagnosis for PTSD. As far as the military is concerned the VA can deal with him. They just want to kick soldiers like him suffering with PTSD out. CAll me picky, but I believe he should be treated for his problems caused by his service to our country before getting kicked to the curb. It can take years going through the VA to get diagnosed and treated for PTSD!! No wonder we have homeless veterans and a high suicide rate among soldiers and veterans!!!

I am sick with grief the way the military is treating our soldiers. My brother has PTSD because he is an American hero. He has been deployed several times. He served in Kosovo. And he has served in Iraq and Afghanistan several times each. The more I learn about PTSD the more heart-sick I am. How can we as a nation turn our back on these soldiers? They have sacrificed so much for us and now we just toss them aside like garbage!

My brother decided to fight for his treatment. He wasn’t going to at first but some fellow veterans came to see him. They encouraged him to fight for himself and one of them called me to tell me how to help him. I will fight for my brother. He is my baby brother and I won’t lose him to PTSD, alcohol, or our troubled childhood. He is worth fighting for and that’s the easy part…making him see that he is worth fighting for is the hard part. I won’t give up.