Weekly Wrap-up: Suicidal Possums and Lost Kisses

Sparkles at Valentine's Day party...is that Santa?

Sparkles at Valentine’s Day party

I didn’t post last week so this is more like a bi-weekly wrap-up this time. Last Thursday night (when I usually write this) I watched the Daytona qualifiers with my husband. We haven’t watched much racing the past couple of years but it was pretty cool to see the number three car on the track again. Usually I will write-up my post on Friday mornings if Thursday night is too busy. Well, I spend last Friday morning baking a mocha cake for a mom’s night out while the kids worked at the dining room table. I got to spend an evening with friends and work on my scrapbook. I stayed out until 2:00 in the morning…which is crazy for me. We are hoping to repeat our night out in March too…just depends on how our schedules will work out.

IMG_5959In the last post I was looking forward to a Valentine’s party with a local homeschool group. We ended up leaving early and deciding that we would no longer participate in activities with this group. We’ve been involved with this group for almost two years and the kids nor I have made any friends. Only one lady talks to me (our husband’s work together) and if I do try to talk to someone else the conversations feel forced. Everyone there just already knows each other and there isn’t much room for someone who does not live in their town. I’m not really mad at the group but it really isn’t worth our time to participate in anything with them. So we are done. The kids were not heartbroken…at all. Did you notice the guy in the background in the first picture? Littlest though he was Santa Clause and kept hiding behind me.

Littlest enjoying time with Daddy

Littlest enjoying time with Daddy

I was a bit of a sleepy zombie on Saturday but managed to get a little housework in while my husband took the older three skating. I wish the skating rink was closer…we would go more often. Sparkles won the limbo game again. She loves to skate and I like to watch her skate…especially when she is just dancing to the music in her own little world. She just looks so happy and free…in those moments my heart feels so light and joyful. I love watching her skate. Later that day we all went out to the dam for a walk. The day and sunshine was nice but the wind was a bit cool. The kids played outside after we arrived back home. They went to play in the creek…their favorite place these days. They watched a possum muddle along the edge of the creek. Then the animal “splashed and played in the water” until it went under and then never came back DSC03646up. After hearing the kids story about the possum my husband went to the creek’s edge to find the playful possum…only to discover the unfortunate creature had drowned. How weird! I had just been reading about nature journaling and was tinkering around with the idea in our homeschool…maybe not.

Earlier this week I got a call from my estranged brother. I didn’t answer the call…he called six time in a row. I do not answer my phone during school hours. I guard the time I spend educating my kids…you just have to. It would be all too easy to waste time on the computer or chatting on the phone and loose precious time and opportunity with my children. He finally left a message but he was so drunk I had trouble understanding what was said. Later, I played the message for my husband. Turns out my brother was threatening me not to change my number. Naturally, I want to change

Littlest did not enjoy the Valentine's Day party.

Littlest did not enjoy the Valentine’s Day party.

my number. Am I the only one who gets threatening phone calls from alcoholic brothers? Probably not, but all this drunken silliness only strengthens my belief that the only family I really have is my husband and our children…not really anyone else.

Our family was struck with the sudden tragedy of suicide this week. I did not personally know the young man, but my husband was (and still is) heartbroken for his cousin who must now bury his son. There are no words to offer…no promises of prayer will bring comfort. I could offer nothing to my husband in his sorrow and feelings of helplessness.

I felt angry. So much anger rose out of me and I know I must have sounded calloused. My high school boyfriend committed suicide the summer before my senior year. My parents kept it a secret until after the funeral…the same day my senior picture for the year book was taken. I hate my senior picture. I hated everyone who came to talk to me about his suicide. They meant well but I didn’t want to talk. So I locked all those feeling in some dark recess of my soul and turned the key. Well, the door unlocked with this sorrowful event and all this anger and pain just poured out of me. I’m still pissed at him after all these years. And so sad. I apologetically told my husband my feelings and even confessed my sorrow for never having kissed the boy.

If you are so inclined please say a prayer today for the parents who bury their children.

Last night I got a call from Mrs. V, wonderful lady who runs the preschool program at our local high school. She called to let me know that Littlest was accepted into the program and to give me some details…when to expect paperwork and such. Classes start sometime in September. Middle Boy loved their program and still thinks Mrs. V is the most fabulous woman ever.

Today, the kids will finish their MathUSee text books. Our school year is wrapping up quickly. Within in the month they will finish up all of their current studies! We will be going through Beautiful Feet Books’ Geography Through Literature during the interim before our next school year starts up. We are ready to wrap up this school year and enjoy a relaxed break period with this geography study. The kids will keep their math skills sharp with Math Mammoth unit studies too. Seems like we just started fourth and second grade and now they are nearly over…

kris_weekly-wrap-up

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.

 

Letting Go

Being a hopeful person is heartbreaking sometimes…there are days I would prefer to hide “under my rock”. One of my friends often tells me I live under a rock…mostly because I quit watching the news. She has even taken it upon herself to inform me of important breaking news at times. Unplugging from the world does keep my anxiety from getting the better of me…that is why I live under my rock. Too much time on CNN or even Facebook and my inner worrier will surface. 

Several weeks ago I brought the World into my home through my brother. We knew it would be a huge change to have him here and challenging for him as well as for us. I had so much hope for my brother then…I still hope he will find his way in the world but I know that I cannot help him. He brought the World’s ways with him into our very Christian home. He must have been very uncomfortable here. He is gone now. He not only quit practicing his Christian faith but openly denounced Jesus. 

The man that sat at my kitchen table was no longer my sweet little brother. He is his father. As I slowly realized and accepted that fact I grieved. I was angry for a few days. So angry I could not look at him and could barely speak to him. He never intended to accept the help and shelter we offered. He manipulated and used us to escape his current situation. He chose alcohol and for him that is the same as suicide. That is his choice to make but not here…not in front of my children.

I  grieve the loss of my brother. He is in God’s hands now. I just pray he accepts those nail pierced hands…somehow…before his life is over.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Saving A Suicide…My Soldier Brother

Friday night was one of the worst nights of my life. Late that night my brother called me. I knew he was drunk and I debated even answering his call. He is a soldier and has served our country since Kosovo. He is a career soldier…he is a soldier’s soldier. The kind of guy you want by your side when the world falls apart. He is also a train wreck.

He was drunk when I answered his call. I knew he would be. He loaded his gun and told me that he had to die tonight. I spent two hours pleading with him not to end his life. I have had my share of horrible moments in my life but this is truly the worst two hours so far. I love my brother…fiercely. He is my brother. I cannot understand the desire to end one’s own life.

When he loaded the gun I fell apart. I cried and begged and when I could no longer speak my husband took the phone and talked to him. At first I thought we could talk until he passed out and then he would be okay in the morning. But somehow I knew we needed to get someone to him. My brother is several states away but with the help of the military police and the county police we were able to locate him.

My brother was so deeply inebriated that he had to be intubated. His lungs could no longer function…he could not breathe on his own. He accomplished his goal. He lives and is still in the hospital. I am sure he hates me right now…

For the past couple of days I have tried not to fall apart. My heart will beat fast and I feel like I cannot catch my breath. I finally broke down at church Sunday morning. It is a big church and the music is loud enough that no one would notice or hear me. I am a new stranger there. I felt safe to just cry and let my heart break. No one needed me to keep myself together at that moment. The next thing I know the Pastor’s arms are around me. I spill my heart and he prays with me delaying the start of service. He makes me promise to keep him updated. I leave church comforted. I have never been embraced by a Pastor before…

If you are a praying person please pray for my brother. Please pray for our hurting soldiers and their families who love them and feel so helpless…just pray. If you have a veteran in your life then pray for them and let them know they do matter everyday and not just on Veteran’s Day.