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…

 

 

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2016 Word

A new year full of promise, hope, new adventures, and dreams.

Not exactly…

Just more of the same-old, same-old.

I’m not one for keeping New Year’s resolutions. I’ll let the fitness hype go this year. But, now that we are getting settled in the new house I’ve returned to working out a bit. My youngest loves Wii dance games and I like to join him. I try not to think about how awkward my attempt at dancing (especially to some of the hip-hop songs) must appear. Sometimes I jump (not literally) on the treadmill and walk a bit. New songs on my iPod would be motivating…but every year it seems the learning curve for iTunes grows exponentially.

Progress in healthy eating of the slow and steady variety is coming along nicely too. Not out of desire for health though. Mostly to escape pain. So many foods (the stuff that actually tastes good!) aggravate my stomach or ignite my inflammation troubles. I quit trying during the move but time to get back to taking care of my health. The joints in my hands and wrist are so painful. I expected the pain but not the weakness or the crunchy gritting sound in my wrists. I’m back on my ginger now that all of the holiday travel is over so some of the discomfort is already starting to ease up a bit. Sadly, the strength doesn’t come back…I’ve learned that sad fact this year.

I wanted to choose a word this year. A point of focus. Originally, I had clarity or perceive in mind. But as I spent time meditating, praying, reflecting and remembering my reaction to this year’s trials…well, those chosen words were without meaning.

my childhood in a picture

my childhood in a picture

Fear beat me down this year. Fear brought on by rejection. My wee little black hole, you know, the one in my soul? The core center of my very self. (Please see my series on Made To Crave if you are interested). As this year’s events unfolded my black hole began to grow in strength. My deep sense of unworthiness threatened to overwhelm me as I felt discarded…again. I’ve broken down and cried many, many times since July. All of the fear from my abusive childhood returned. I felt like an unwanted little child all over again. Unloved and not even worthy of being loved.

I’m wise enough to know that I’ll never be rid of those feelings…not entirely. I’m blessed to be loved by an ever patient man. My husband is the warmth that keeps those old demons away. I should have been a pillar for him this year but he supported me instead. Only out of love for my husband did I not torch and burn a few bridges to lifeless ash. I am consumed with fear.

I do not want to be ruled by fear. I do not want to be that nearly lifeless child pleading to be loved.

My word is brave. My word terrifies me.

Let me be brave…

 

January Book Study: Faith Unraveled

at the monastery

at the monastery

I read this today:

“I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” –Spoken by a father with a dying son to Jesus.

So can this girl plagued with dying religion say that to Jesus? Well, I reckon so. My footing isn’t sure, the path my heart has tread for twenty years vanished in doubt’s mist. A faith shift. This is just where I am spiritually.

I am not afraid to be in this place of shifting. I do not fear completely losing my religion and walking away nor do I fear embracing it again. But I do fear pretending these doubts do not exist in hopes they will just go away. Faith and religion have always mattered to me. I used to climb trees as a kid so I could be closer to God. I entered a monastery and considered a life as a Bride of Christ. Faith and religion matter to me. They have always been intertwined in my way of thinking. Two halves of the same coin. For me that has unraveled.

I still believe in Jesus. I talk to him everyday. But I have serious doubts about the church that currently exists on his words. I cannot be offended by red cups and homosexual relationships. And can I be honest and just say that I do not care how old the earth is anyway?! It really doesn’t matter to me or the remaining shreds of my religion. Jesus said we should love God with all of our heart, mind and soul. Exploring these doubts, experiencing this shift to my mind is loving God. I cannot love God if I do not truly know him.

Beginning in January I’ll be reading through Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans and will be sharing my thoughts. I’d love for anyone to join me but I understand why some cannot. I even understand if the subject just doesn’t interest you. If you want to condemn me to hell…well that isn’t very nice but I get it. It wouldn’t be the first time.

 

 

I’m breaking free from religion for the sake of my soul

Re: Why Are You Here Tonight?

Last week (or was it the week before?) Brother Phil at church asked a small group of us, “Why are you here?” I was immediately uncomfortable, found my hands fascinating, and hoped he would not call on me to give an answer (mercifully, he did not). The question pushes toward places I don’t want to go. A vague driftlessness in my faith I’d rather pretend didn’t exist. The question haunted me again in a list of writing challenges as: “Why do you go to church?”

I considered skipping over the question but I knew it would bug me if left unanswered twice. I lack the faith to believe in coincidences. That is something of a bummer when confronted with a question I’d rather avoid. Words will swim restless in my head leaving me sleepless if I do not wrestle an answer to freedom.

Yeah, I hear the crazy.

So why was I sitting in a small group at church with strangers on a Wednesday evening? One of the reasons I chose to remain silent is because I am new to the group and they are unknown to me. I’m still struggling to remember names with faces. I found the question too personal for the setting. Maybe because my initial answer is not all pretty and properly Christian. I’ve been harshly judged by my fellow Christians in the past and am very reluctant to share my real thoughts so openly.

Honestly, I didn’t want to be there. I’d much prefer to be home with my husband cleaning up dinner and watching some television. I’m sitting in that meeting for my kids. They need to be involved in something outside of home. They need to make friends. My kids also genuinely love the children and youth ministries at this new church. They did from day one. I had planned for us to visit a few churches but the kids are happy. Why would I mess with their joy?

I feel like I should say I am sitting in this pew or small group because I love the Lord and his people…or something similarly pious. I cannot say such candy-coated nothingness. I’m not losing my faith. But I am fairly certain my religion is dust. In the past I would have used faith and religion interchangeably. The two words are worlds apart in definition now.

I am not a lost sheep. I’m just not sure where my sheepfold is located…or if I have one.

 

 

Medieval Study: From Saint Augustine to Arabian Nights

books from the study

books from the study

We’ve completed our first six weeks of Beautiful Feet Books’ Medieval History: A Literature Approach for Advanced Intermediate and Junior High.  Oldest loves history. It is his favorite subject to study. I think one of the reason’s he loves it so much is because I read many of the books to him. When we first started using Beautiful Feet Books a few years ago I thought reading books to my kids was kinda strange. I mean, they are old enough to read on their own now. Odd as it seemed to me at the time, I went along with the recommendation in the guide anyway. I (and my kiddos) am so happy I took the quirky counsel. Read-aloud time is one of our favorite parts of the homeschool day. I didn’t know it at the time but reading to our kids is not only beneficial to our children’s education but…oh my! I am getting off topic! For more information

from the guide

from the guide

on why reading aloud is important check out the Read-Aloud Revival. I am currently listening to one podcast a week for my own time of summer refreshment.

This study dives the student right into a pretty good-sized workload the first week. Within the first three weeks of the study Oldest’s hand written glossary contained nearly one hundred words.  We chose to break up the vocabulary words by doing only five to eight of the words each day. He wrote a small paper on Charlemagne, worked on a hand drawn map, completed an Anglo-Saxon rune art project, and copied and decorated King Arthur’s Code of Chivalry. The rune project was his own idea. The guide directed him to a website to learn

projects

projects

about the runes and suggest he have fun making coded messages with someone. His rune page says, “Beowulf is cool!” and then he did some illustrations similar to those in the Beowulf book from the study. In the midst of this study Oldest was working on his final research paper (1000 words on the life of Julius Caesar) for his writing curriculum so I cut two of the writing assignments. An essay comparing the conflicting ideas of Christianity and Paganism and an essay on Judaism, Christianity or Islam. We simply discussed and explored these topics together. I think his favorite project so far is the map. He takes his time locating each place, marking routes, and adding a bit of color. Every week also includes internet sites to explore and Oldest has really

map work

map work

enjoyed exploring these topics further. He spent a couple of hours on the recommended King Arthur webpages.

Oldest loves the spine book  (The European World 400-1450) for this study. He strongly disliked Streams of Civilization used in the ancient history study and has suggested several times that every copy should have a proper Viking burial at sea. The European World is an excellent and informative text with photographs and maps. Our favorite part of the book is the little samples of primary sources of literature, biographies and other text usually dated from the time period covered in the chapter. Oldest found it fascinating that the tradition of decorating Easter eggs originated with feudalism.

from Beowulf

from Beowulf

Oldest’s favorite book for the first six weeks is Beowulf. The book is beautifully illustrated and even the younger children would listen to the story. As a mom, I just love when their imaginative play mixes with the books we are reading. Middle Boy even built Grendel with Legos. I read several stories from King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Through this book and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights we learned about literary elements and framed narratives. The guide suggested only a portion of each of the two books for reading. Oldest added the King Arthur book to his reading list and will do an additional report with it later in the school year.

from The European World

from The European World

We decided to finish the Arabian Nights book as a read aloud. (I wish the book contained a pronunciation guide or the names and places…this Southern girl had no clue!)  I had never read this book in the past and wasn’t looking forward to it honestly. I knew it was about an Islamic king who killed his new bride every day because he hated women. Much to my surprise we all enjoyed the book…yes, even me with my own admitted prejudice was charmed by Shahrazad’s stories. Now that I have read this book I also know where the writers’ of several episodes of Bugs Bunny received their inspiration. Ha! The book prompted some difficult conversations about how women are treated in other cultures…especially in Islamic regions. During this time I read about Ann Voskamp’s journey to Iraq (you may want to skip this if you are very sensitive…it gave me horrible nightmares.) My sparkly girl is nine and so my emotions were a little high as I

extra books

extra books

struggled with how much to share with my children. (And no, I did not share anything of Mrs. Voscamp’s report.) History and current events can be tough to talk about sometimes.

Oldest spent the last week learning about the differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We’ve studied this in the past so it was mostly a review for him. He did read the appropriate sections in The Usborne Book of World Religions by Susan Meredith. We found a few videos on YouTube to explain the basic practices of Judaism and Islam. I tried to arrange an interview at the Jewish Temple in Paducah but have not received a return call yet. As far as I know there are no Islamic practitioners that I feel comfortable exposing my children to in this area. This weekend I will take Oldest to a Catholic church and explain to him the Way of the

Charlemagne paper and a peek at the guide

Charlemagne paper and a peek at the guide

Cross, Rosaries, scapulars, and transubstantiation. In fact, I will be taking him to the monastery chapel where  I once lived and believed my vocation was to the religious life. We currently attend a Methodist church and I am looking forward to explaining to him the differences in practice between the two denominations. He’ll have some hard questions for me I am sure…

We read two extra books that are not part of the study but are recommended for extra reading. The first book we read was Saint Augustine: Early Church Father by Rachel M. Phillips. This book covers the time period just before the fall of Rome. It is a nice bridge book between the ancient course we just finished and our current study. We pushed through the book as a read aloud but it was not easy. So much of the book is Augustine’s thoughts and that made it hard on Oldest to understand at times. The

Intermediate Medieval books and guide form Beautiful Feet Boks

Intermediate Medieval books and guide form Beautiful Feet Boks

book also delves into sexual sin (not graphically) and womanizing. If you are not ready to discuss such things then skip the book. This is a book we will likely revisit in the high-school years. The other recommended book (but also not part of the study) we read was The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier. The book I found was illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. The book is beautiful and after I got the rhythm of the older usage of the English language down we found the book delightful…it is one you have to give some time for it to become immersive. The illustrations alone are worth seeking for the book. Not all middle school

Oldest working on mapwork for Medieval studies

Oldest working on mapwork for Medieval studies

boys are going to love the book…however if they are fans of Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail then they will love it. I guess it is the usage of the book’s prose…maybe…?

Oldest loves this course. He begs for history every day. This week we are currently on a one week summer break from school (Yes, that is all the summer break my kids get!). However, Oldest insisted that we read our next book in the study while on break this week. What more can a homeschooling mother ask for from a curriculum that a middle school boy begs to do while on summer break?!?

Weekly Wrap-up: The Bittersweet Last

no more booster seat

no more booster seat

Motherhood is full of wonderful moments…life-changing beautiful moments. Nothing compares to holding your child for the first time, the first tentative smile, first steps and words. Motherhood is a privileged witness to triumphant moments from the first precious moments of life…but there is a sharper side as well. Over the years I’ve come to treasure those wonderful firsts for each of my children because, on the other side of those firsts are lasts. I didn’t pay much attention to the lasts with my children in the early years of motherhood. Maybe I was too exhausted. Some of those lasts moments slip by without notice…the last time they drank from a sippy cup or quit sneaking into bed with us during the night. I’m more watchful of last moments now. They are quiet reminders of impending

curb side service

curb side service

independence. On Saturday Oldest rode in his car seat for the last time. We didn’t realize it until we cleaned up the van the next day. I expected him to still need his booster seat when testing him without it…but he did not. I snapped a picture of his grown up moment. I cried…he’s a little less boy and a little more grown.

The ice-cream truck (a van actually) came up to our drive-way this weekend. They know where we live now!! Today, I showed the kids they could get a whole box of fudge pops for the price of just one from the truck. They were not as impressed as I had hoped.

birthday party friends

birthday party friends

This week we attended a birthday party for a sweet little friend. She didn’t want any presents for her sixth birthday…just quarters to donate to a children’s charity. I enjoyed visiting with homeschool families I hadn’t met before and dear friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Oldest decided to play with the birthday girl’s little brother (the same age as Littlest) so her mom “could host the party without worrying about him”. He took on the task without anyone asking and I decided not to point out that the little fella’s dad was also doing the same…

ice-cream treats

ice-cream treats

This week is the end of our first (of five) term of the 2014-15 school year! We are also a few days ahead of schedule in all of our subjects…except math. We will not be on grade level in math until January. The kids wanted to celebrate completing their first term with ice cream after school is finished for the day. They also want to order a pizza but they haven’t talked me into it yet.

Littlest

Littlest

Today Littlest (who is only three) informed me that 7-4=3. I was a bit shocked he could tell that but he does hear math drills everyday. I asked him if he could tell me 7-3. He told me I was big enough to know the answer and didn’t have to tell me. Then he skipped off laughing like a little mad man. I’m pretty sure we can just skip Kindergarten and I’m beginning to worry he’ll get kicked out of pre-school…

DSC05158 (640x480)History and science lessons ended up in the same time period this week for the middle two. Oldest is still studying ancient Egypt for history but he reads their history text (Story of the world vol. 3) on his own time. This week we (I never heard of it either) are learning about the Thirty Year’s War and Blaise Paschal. Christianity is a central them in both narratives. The kids are struggling to understand the animosity between Catholicism and Protestantism. They want a clear good guy and bad guy…and there isn’t one. I added the book “A Piece of the Mountain” about Blaise Paschal to our

Sparkles

Sparkles

science study because I wanted the kids to be aware that science and religion do not have to oppose one another. Paschal accepted Christ as an adult and the book covers his struggles with faith as well as his scientific brilliance. So far it is their favorite book in our science studies. This weekend they will finish their labs on Galileo with their dad (so happy he does the labs with the crew) and then move on to Sir Isaac Newton next week.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Getting Back to Normal and Other Delusions

angel on rolled stone at Jesus's former tomb

angel on rolled stone at Jesus’s former tomb

Life is slowly getting back to normal. The kids are nearly through with their process of Grandma detoxification…as I call it. We still have tons of treats to eat and I will be glad when they are all gone…four large boxes of chocolate pop-tarts, three boxes of chocolate cereal and other goodies that I never purchase. After the grandma detox will come the sugar detox and then everything will be back to normal. Yeah normal!!!

This week is Holy Week. It is the one time of year I miss the Catholic Church. During this week I long for the traditions, pageantry, and solemnity of Holy Week. I’ve been a Christian for almost twenty years now…half of those years in the Catholic Church and half as a…non-denominational Christian…some sort of Protestant I guess. Every Sunday when I go to church (currently Baptist) I always wonder why there is no Crucifix…why do Protestants shun the Crucifix. Maybe I should ask about it one of these days. Tomorrow is Good Friday…and I will miss walking the Way of the Cross.

art lessons

art lessons

Speaking of the Catholic Church…guess where I will be this time next week…My friend Mrs. Cuddle-me and I are going to the homeschool convention in Cincinnati. We will be staying in the guest room at the Monastery where I was once a member. The last time I stayed in that room was in the summer of 1997…hoping and praying to be accepted into the community. Standing in that room again might be an…odd moment for me. I am looking forward to seeing my Sisters and Mother again, going to my first convention, and sharing this strange and beautiful moment with my friend. This time next week I will be encountering a memory of myself…should be weird.

Littlest sleeping during science lessons

My husband and I decided to spend Resurrection Sunday at home this year. I am on nursery rotation at church this month and will be tired after taking care of a class full of two years olds. A day at home with just my family sounds peaceful.

We started our summer semester this week in the homeschool. We have a few chapters of Story of the World to finish and about twenty lessons from Primary Early American History (Beautiful Feet Book) to finish up from the school year. This week we added a weather and climate study and we started Geography through Literature from Beautiful Feet Books. We have only completed four lessons in the geography study so far but the crew absolutely loves the course. I can already tell our summer studies are going to be great fun! We’ve also been working our way through the See The Light The Crossmaker art DVD lessons this week…the crew is loving it.

geography lessons

geography lessons

We got our IOWA test results back this week and I was very happy with the crew’s performance…mostly. I am still concerned about math. We are using MathUSee and I am wondering if we should switch to Christian Light Education math. Most of their lower scores (lower but still average) were in math. Should I switch or not…undecided at the moment.

If anyone has some tips about attending a homeschool convention I am very open to advise…

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers