Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homeschool Plans for 2011-2012

We have been enjoying the sweetness of family for the past week which I will be posting pictures of later.  My father came to stay for six days with his girlfriend Melinda.  I would love to have Melinda as my stepmother.  I have never thought that or felt that way about any of his previous girlfriends since my parents divorced when I was 13, but I love Melinda.  My father is a better man with her around.  She seems to have brought him peace as well.  We had a hard time keeping up with my father.  He completed a lot of chores for us which I will write about later.

Libby was baptized this past Saturday!:)  Her godparents, Sunni and Arieh, helped with both set up and clean up of our cake reception.  They are such a blessing in our lives!

My niece Victoria is staying with us for a week and then we have my sister-in-law Mary coming to visit with my mother-in-law Sherry next week.  They will be driving out from Wisconsin.  It truly is a wonderful time of year to enjoy our family.

With all of this happening though it is time to think of homeschooling again, and since this blog is suppose to have posts about homeschooling, it seemed like joining a blog hop about homeschooling would be a helpful "push" into this area!:)

Since we homeschool year round I had the kids both begin completing math again today.  I had Jessie work on extra reading and Joey began working on English.  English is the subject he will avoid at all costs, so it is the one that was always last when I was on bedrest.  (My brother-in-law brought a Barbie computer for Victoria which has math and reading materials on it so she was homeschooling with the kids and helped with all the farm chores.  I love my niece.  She is very sweet and helpful!)

I was able to buy most of my materials while on bedrest, so here is what we have planned for the next school year, which we "officially" start after labor day though we will be slowly finishing up the old stuff/adding the new curriculum over the next month.
I am still using Mother of Divine Grace/Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist as my guide, though it is becoming very adapted to our crazy life as you will see.

Math: Teaching Textbooks
Even though Teaching Textbooks is slower than the other math programs, finding it two years ago solved our math battles.  I will continue allowing the kids to skip lessons unless they get an 85 or below. Then they have to go back and complete the skipped lesson.  This may mean that we complete the year early, but if we do we'll just start the next grade level.  Since I have 3rd-6th grade already that means I will only have to purchase 7th grade for Joey if that happens.  Though I buy the workbooks "just in case" the kids just use the cd's and use scrap paper as needed.

History, Geography and Art: MODG 6th grade Egypt program
I am combining these three subjects.  While I love MODG's program as a whole my kids are becoming very bored reading about American History.  Jessie has actually read most of the supplemental books that Joey read in fourth grade two years ago, so I am "bumping" her up.  We will follow MODG for history and geography.  I do have the calligraphy book they recommend for 6th grade art and a bunch of supplemental egyptian craft books.  I also have OLVS's Drawing God's Magnificent Garden.  I am hoping that this will free us up time wise by combining subjects.  I am also hoping that we will actually get more arts and crafts completed, along with science projects.  "Reading" as a subject is completed by all the supplemental reading we do for history, religion and science.  Jessie also has to complete Ohio state history, but I already have books checked out from the library for her to complete this month.  We may supplement with some of the 4th grade historical reading since she is an insatiable reader.

Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy
MODG recommends TOPS for 6th grade and 4th grade.  I bought TOPS and after it arrived went out and bought Abeka 4th grade series to complete with Joey two years ago.  Now granted it may have been different if I hadn't just had a baby when TOPS arrived and I had actually been able to get supplies together...but then again I don't think so....I like having a physical book for the kids to read.  Having a curriculum that was experiements only just didn't work for us two years ago and with three under the age of three I just didn't see it working this year, so sold the TOPS books.  In an effort to complete more science projects we are combining science as well for the kids.  I bought the notebooking journals and the science kits available from www.hometrainingtools.com.  I even managed to score a really expensive telescope off of cathswap for $50 plus shipping!

English: Voyages 4 and 6
Jason really doesn't like MODG's english program recommended for 2-5th grade, so I am modifying Jessie's english to Voyages 4.  I am buying the grammar syllabus from OLVS to be my teaching guide for Jessie.  Joey is signed up for Directed Study for both English and Religion with MODG so that someone else can help us with our writing battles.  I am hoping that he will "rise" to the occasion of wanting to perform well for someone else and that we will get more descriptive paragraphs out of the boy.  We will also supplement with MODG's poetry memorization for each grade as we have time.  Both kids enjoy the memorizing.  Joey will also be completing the Editor in Chief workbooks for his extra grammar practice that MODG recommends.

Latin: First Form
Both kids will be taking First Form latin with another homeschool mom.  I always throw latin "out the window" as soon as life gets busy.  First Form works well with Voyages 6 in learning the grammar rules.  The teacher said that Jessie could take the class as well, so that means that Tuesdays will be our "in town" errand/grocery shopping day.  The kids will bring extra reading with them and/or we will listen to dvd's, whether it is classical music, books on cd or religious things.  Driving back and forth for 35 minutes also means that we don't have an excuse for not praying our rosaries or divine mercy chaplets.

While we have completed The Writing Road to Reading program I just decided to change in the last two weeks.  I had already adapted the program by making the kids write out their words every day, but that gets really boring.  I decided to go with OLVS's Spelling workbooks, which means that Jessie has a phonics workbook as well.  We will start out the year reviewing the phonograms from The Writing Road to Reading which only takes the kids about a week and then we will jump into the new workbooks.

Hoping to join Catechesis of the Good Shepherd again, though I am not sure yet if I will volunteer as a catechist again.  I may wait at least one more year until both Katie and Anna can be in level one together before I volunteer to teach.  Joey will then have completed the program and he has expressed an interest in being a helper if I teach.  I would like to encourage that catechist interest that he has expressed.
Just ordered "God With Us" Byzantine catechesis materials.
Have Faith and Life materials as a back up.
MODG syllabus: Mark and Luke gospels with summary essays for Joey.  Jessie will summarize the Schuster's Bible History stories for writing and continue working on her Baltimore Catechism.
Numerous supplemental bible and saint books.
Just trying to live a liturgical life.

Music: 4th grade and 6th grade MODG
We will continue our study of classical music and begin enjoying the operetta's the MODG recommends for 6th grade.

Extra Activities:
Catechesis of Good Shepherd (listed above under religion)
(combined both Jessie and Joey onto one team by "bumping" Jessie up.
We are not playing on travel soccer for this fall.)

Horse class (fall): We will be taking lessons from another homeschool family on how to take care/ride our pony and drive the cart behind the miniature horse that we have now added to the farm.
(Pictures of the horse and pony will be added later.)

Altar Serving, Boy Scouts and Catholic Lego Club (Joey)

Little Flowers (Jessie)

May possibly participate in chess club if the mom has it again.

May possibly take dance/private tumbling lessons again.

May possibly take dog obedience lessons with Cupcake the new puppy/dog.  Will probably wait to sign up for this until I know for sure when Jason's mom Debbie will be moved into the grandmother's house.

(The problem with homeschooling is all the different classes/activities out there that you can join!  Have to figure out what things to say no to so that we can actually be at home!)

On a preschool note: I am signing Katie and Anna up for a two hour preschool on Monday and Wednesday mornings.  Debbie will take them into town and that will give her a set time that she can be away from Grandma Mercy and when she can go shopping/get her hair done, etc.  This will also give me a set time when we hopefully can complete experiments or the harder subjects without having three under the age of three around.  I am also hoping to have a Montessori type shelf set up with activities to give Katie and Anna their own "work" to do while we are working.  Katie is getting into workbooks, so hopefully my collection of coloring books will come in  handy again.

Wow-I think I'm exhausted just writing about all this.  Then again, this time of year is always exciting.  It's fun to break out the new books!
Let the adventure begin again!:)

Linking up here:

Classical Housewife

From the sweetness of my home to yours,


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fighting Depression Yet Again

Last week I got diagnosed with Post Partum Depression.  I actually needed to have my C-Reactive protein levels run and I asked them to run progesterone levels since I have been fighting low progesterone for years now.  Dr. Thomas Hilgers has found a correlation with low progesterone and depression levels in women.  Of course, our local hospital screwed up the bloodwork once again and didn't actually run my progesterone correctly.  The Pope Paul VI Institute nurse went through a questionaire with me over the phone and I had some of the symptoms for post partum depression (PPD): general weepiness (which I knew) and the following three that I didn't know about in connection with PPD: insomnia, night sweats and hot flashes.  Thankfully I hadn't gotten to suicidal thoughts or wanting to hurt any of my children yet, but I had been fighting the feeling of "just wanting to run away."

I had suffered from night sweats and hot flashes after both Katie and Anna was born.  I had approached several different doctors regarding it, but got told that these were just from "my hormones changing back to normal."  There is nothing normal about a hot flash or waking up drenched in sweat and needing to take several showers a day when you don't even have time to take one shower while taking care of your nursing newborn and other children!  This kind of medical attitude has to come from health professionals that haven't experienced a night sweat or  hot flash.   I am frustrated to have not received the proper treatment two years ago, yet relieved that I finally have a diagnosis and solution by being treated with cooperative progesterone therapy.  Unfortunately I had a previous bad reaction to taking the progesterone shots, so I am just taking compounded progesterone pills twice a day....but these "happy" pills seem to be working! I have had far fewer night sweats and hot flashes than what I was experiencing last week.  My insomnia is also decreasing-I have been able to fall asleep earlier each night.

I am so tired of "feeling sick and tired."  Just prior to my diagnosis I had told Jason that I just didn't feel right.  Part of that is my exhaustion from having a newborn and two toddlers under the age of three and from my infection, but most of that is from what we now know to be depression.  Hopefully when my bloodwork gets run again at the end of July I will have the diagnosis that my infection levels are back to normal and that my progesterone levels are increasing as well.  I want to be able to start exercising again and enjoying life with my kids again as well.  The horrible thing about depression is that it affects the entire family.  The saying "When momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy" is so very true....everyone can sense the unhappiness and many times both the spouse and the children blame themselves for your unhappiness.

I don't want either Jason or any of our kids to ever feel as if "they ruined my life" because I chose this life every step of the way.  While there are many days when I would like to be anywhere but here at home dealing with all the messes of everyday life I instinctively know that if I was off "having a career" I would still be unhappy and wish that I was back at home with my kids.   It's a classic catch-22 problem.  Mary Hood in The Joyful Homeschooler talks about being "bound by chains she created for herself."  (I may be paraphrasing that quote a little bit. If not exact it's basically what she writes when talking about fighting her own depression/unhappiness with her life.)  Some days that is exactly how I feel-bound by chains I have created one decision at a time....yet if challenged, which decision would I undo: homeschooling, having any of my five children, buying the farm, having our own business, teaching Creighton Model???  I wouldn't change any of that....I want to change myself: be a better teacher, be a better homemaker, be more patient and loving, get rid of my bad temper, be a better mother, lose weight, be prettier and stop feeling so inadequate compared to all my friends whom seem to be so much better at everything than I am....

I am by nature an optimist and I am also someone who always gives other people the benefit of the doubt. I also made a conscience decision after my first husband Chris died that I was not going to let his death be a part of my top three moments in my life.  What I mean by that statement is that I didn't want either myself or my children to become one of those people you meet on the street and you wonder, "What the hell happened to you?"  I had to make a conscious decision to choose to be happy.....to choose to live again....because otherwise I was going to be miserable forever.....I wanted to die.....I wanted God to turn back time and kill me instead of my husband....I was terrified that I was going to screw up my kids forever because I was so unhappy.

I remember that I almost didn't put up Christmas decorations the first Christmas after Chris died.   I couldn't imagine putting up a Christmas tree without him.  Thankfully my "catholic mom" Barbara challenged me on this issue.  Barbara attended our church in Pensacola and she "adopted me" after Chris died.  Barbara's father had also died when she was a young girl, leaving her mom to raise five kids by herself.  Barbara gently yelled at me, "My mom still celebrated the holidays after my dad died."  She reminded me that I had two small children who deserved a Christmas tree even at the ages of two and one.  After thinking about it, I did decorate-but I did it differently.  I didn't get a live tree.  I went out and bought a small artificial tree.  We still use the artificial tree even though we have another much larger artificial tree now.  The kids hang all of Chris' childhood ornaments on the small tree each year.  We also put up Chris' stocking from his navy ship deployment that has his call sign painted on it.  Barbara was right....after I decorated for my kids I actually was happier.  The pain of celebrating Christmas alone was still there, but in many ways I felt more connected to Chris.  I also saw the joy of Christmas through the eyes of my children and I felt happiness.

The problem with fighting depression is that even as I try to choose happiness each day, everyone around me still picks up my underlying unhappiness.  I also used to judge people that took antidepressants, but now I don't....sometimes you truly need help to feel better.  While I personally wouldn't take many of the traditional AMA prescription medications I do feel the difference with the progesterone that I am now taking and the naltrexone that Dr. Hilgers has prescribed me in the past to help deal with severe PMS depression each month.

For me the most important decisions that I have made in my life are these:

converting to Catholicism from being a "generic" Bible-banging Protestant and now trying to live an authentic Catholic liturgical life
Marrying Jason and Chris
Having each of my kids
Homeschooling my kids
teaching the Creighton Model FertilityCare System of NFP
(though buying the farm and living a farm life may soon bump Creighton Model to number six)

What are your top five life decisions?  If you have fought depression what suggestions do you have for getting through the dark times?

From the sweetness of our hot summer house to yours I am always,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Novena of Thanksgiving: Infant Jesus of Prague

Joey and Jessie come home today!!!
We have a busy weekend ahead of us since Joey has an altar boy retreat on Friday, we have a wedding to attend on Saturday and Joey leaves for his first overnight Boy Scout camp on Sunday....so for this week I would like to focus on:

1) The joy of being home together again-and trying to be patient as we all try to find what our "new routine" is over the next month.

2) Getting Joey unpacked just to repack his stuff for camp by Thursday night so that we can all enjoy Friday and Saturday.

3)  Setting up some playdates for Jessie for next week so that she won't be too jealous of Joey being away at camp.

4) Meal planning by "shopping" out of our freezer and cupboard for things that I can crockpot for supper since it is hot and I have a newborn baby to nurse.

5) Be patient with myself and my low energy level-try to focus on "to do lists" that I can actually accomplish and be thankful for those things instead of being frustrated by everything that I don't get done each day.

6)  Hug and kiss my kids each day.

Infant Jesus of Prague

Please join our family in a Novena Prayer of Thanksgiving for Graces
Received from the Infant Jesus

I prostrate myself before Your holy image, O most gracious Infant Jesus,
to offer You my most fervent thanks for the blessings You have bestowed on me.
I shall incessantly praise Your ineffable mercy and confess
that You alone are my God, my helper and my protector.
Henceforth my entire confidence shall be placed in You!
Everywhere I will proclaim aloud Your mercy and generosity,
so that Your great love and the great deeds which You
perform through this miraculous image may be acknowledged by all.
May devotion to Your holy infancy increase more and more in the hearts of all Christians,
and may all who experience Your assistance persevere with me
in showing unceasing gratitude to Your most holy infancy,
to which be praise and glory forever.


Our July 2011 Testimony to the Infant Jesus of Prague:

Last November 2010 I came across information about the many miracles regarding the miraculous image of the Infant Jesus of Prague, specifically regarding the many monetary miracles.  I informed my husband that we needed to be looking for an Infant of Prague statue that we could place money under while saying the Novena Devotion Prayer for the many monetary concerns we had, specifically being able to provide for our family from our in town business.  We had just found out that we were expecting another baby, which while wonderful was going to significantly change "the business plan" we had come up with for the next year or so.  To my astonishment Jason replied that we already owned one!  His mother Debbie had bought one for us in the past year and during one of her trips to visit they had placed it in our office, keeping it in its box because we didn't have room to display it at the time.  (I had been busy nursing when they had unloaded her mini-van and had forgotten being told about the statue since I hadn't "seen" the statue.)  Jason later displayed the statue and put a quarter underneath the statue.  Just three weeks later the time share that we had been trying to sell for over a year sold and after closing costs we had the exact amount we needed to pay our ob-gyn fees for the new baby!  (Jason now upgraded our quarter taped underneath the statue to a silver dollar and we moved it from the office to our family prayer altar in our living room.)

A month later I was put on bedrest for an infection, which also meant that we were receiving much higher medical bills....plus now we had to pay more payroll costs because I couldn't work at the store and Jason had to come home early to help with supper and the kids. (Normally January-August we both work more hours to conserve our "savings" to get us through until our busier time of year which is September-December.)  I began praying in earnest for all our monetary needs, my health and the health of our baby, Elizabeth Grace-also known as "Libby."  I also began praying to the Infant Jesus of Prague for all the intentions of anyone praying for us, offering up suffering for us, bringing us meals and the Eucharist, covering our adoration hour, companionship, cleaning and/or babysitting.  Jason began praying rosaries for anyone who brought us a meal-and God provided SIX MONTHS of meals delivered about three times a week to us-many times from complete strangers and/or just acquaintances.  In God's sense of humor He also began answering the last prayer on my list: the build-up of our farm for providing for our family's needs.  I added that to our litany and two weeks later we were offered the Dexter cow that subsequently died.  (When I began praying about the farm I meant AFTER the baby was born......but God obviously had different plans for the past six months.)

During my bedrest we were able to also sell the above ground swimming pool that had come with the house when we bought it four years ago.  I was able to consign over 200 kid items this past spring, plus donate about nine more bags to Samaritan Ministries.  (Downsizing our many possessions had been one of my goals for 2011 since October 2010....we still have a lot more to do, but this is a good start.)  In May we discovered that Libby was breech, so I laid down upside down on a tilted ironing board off and on for a week while adding that prayer to our list to the Infant Jesus.  After we had confirmed by ultrasound that Libby had flipped they stopped the medication on June 1st that had been stopping the contractions I had been experiencing for the entire pregnancy.  I had been praying to the Infant Jesus specifically that "Libby would be born in the hospital right side up with Dr. Edwards (our ob) delivering as close to her due date of June 20th as possible."  (My last two babies had been born "sunny side up and I wanted to avoid that pain if possible since I have all natural childbirth.)  Libby was born on June 15th at 10:21pm after two weeks of on-again/off-again contractions.  We made it to the hospital at 9:15pm and Dr. Edwards arrived around 10:15pm-just in time to deliver her and unwrap the umbilical cord that was wrapped around her neck FOUR times.  (Earlier in the week our nine year old daughter Jessica admitted that she had put ALL her money-I believe it was around $21-under the statue so that Libby would be born BEFORE she and her brother Joey left for 18 days to stay in Wisconsin with their grandparents.  Jessie had also been praying over and over again that Libby would be able to see, hear and not die via miscarriage.....the Infant Jesus of Prague answered all of Jessie's prayers.....no miscarriage, Libby can see and hear, and both Jessie and Joey were able to be "snuck in before visiting hours" to hold Libby before they boarded the airplane the morning of June 16th.

We are very thankful to the Infant Jesus of Prague for the safe arrival of baby Libby, for the monetary blessings in unexpected ways: farm animals, the providing of meals, the selling of our "extra possessions".......for the bonding that took place in our family during this bedrest period and the new skills learned-both Joey and Jessie learned how to do laundry and some new cooking skills....they also took care of their mommy and two toddler sisters on many days when they didn't feel like doing so-they definitely learned the "corporal works of mercy" right within their own family.  God blessed us to be able to continue homeschooling throughout the illness so we won't have to play "catch up".......God granted Jason with good health and the grace to help "cover" my chores.....God granted us with good employees that willingly covered the extra hours at the store.....and once again God has blessed me with the miracle of surviving that which I didn't think I could survive....I have to admit there are many days that I wish I could have a "redo" on so that I could be more charitable and joyful towards my family members-but that is how life is unfortunately.....I am very thankful to be able to move again, even as I wait for test results to come back to find out if the infection is gone or not.....and even as I have to make myself "take it slowly" since I don't have the energy level or endurance that I had prior to my illness.....

Thank you Infant Jesus of Prague for all these things!!!!

To find out more about this miraculous statue see the official website of the original statue:

(I find it very interesting that the original Infant Jesus of Prague statue is contained in the Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague....Jason has a devotion to Our Lady of Victory from having grown up just a couple of hours away from the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory....and in fact his birthday present this year from his mother and all of us was a statue of Our Lady of Victory, which is  now on the opposite corner of the prayer altar from the Infant Jesus of Prague-and this was before I realized what the name of the church is where the original statue resides.)

Infant Jesus of Prague-Pray for us!

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