Homeschool during Spiritual Ups and Downs
I feel like I’ve been through the ringer. The past few months were busy. There were some wonderful family and spiritual times while there were also some very stressful and worrisome times. I haven’t spent a lot of time blogging about all I’ve been doing simply because I haven’t had the time to pour my heart into the words. So I want to take the opportunity to catch all of you up on what has been going in on our lives.
When I last shared a This Week post, it was as we were preparing to leave for church camp, so I pick up there.
Church Camp in Review
At the end of July we headed off to our annual trip to church camp. This has become a family event even though the camp is geared for children. Beloved and I volunteer to work at camp while Little Man is a camper. This works great for Little Man to feel comfortable and we can be there to direct and guide him. Camp is designed to stimulate children, engaging them in Bible study, as well as physical and social activities. It’s a great week and it tires the kids out in a good way. That being said occasionally, with so much stimulation, Little Man gets far overstimulated and will begin to spiral into a emotionally intense melt down, that is why we feel it is important for us to e nearby. So that, we can help direct and guide him during those moments.
Some highlights from camp week…
Family Emergency in Review
We came home from camp week and I anticipated 3 weeks of quiet family time, finishing up our summer school of science, getting prepared for our trip to Tennessee, and the coming new school year. Yet, that is so far removed from what happened that looking back on those times, I have a hard time thinking about let alone writing about what happened. Quite unexpectedly, my mom got sick. Really sick. Really fast. From that day moving forward for 2 1/2 weeks is quite a blur. In some ways it was me sitting in a hospital and waiting. But it other ways it was an intense time when my heart was frozen in time while a sense of responsibility I never knew before washed over me.
My parents are aging and both have serious and long term health problems. While we have come to find that the event was most likely precipitated by a long term health issue at the time and in the way it happened we were left with a lot of uncertainty. Mom’s body began shutting down. Literally, nearly every major organ in her body began to decrease in function. It started with an ischemic bowel. Her small intestine lost blood flow. As you know when a body part loses blood flow it begins to die. That is what happened. When one organ shuts down it begins a domino effect. EVERY organ is affected. Your body has a great sense of life, to compensate for such an event your body begins shutting down ‘unnecessary’ organs to protect vital organs. Once mom’s colon shut down, she experienced major drops in blood pressure, which caused decreased kidney, liver, and pancreas function. Then she began to have seizures and CT scans revealed small strokes.
When such a wide-spread event occurs the doctors focus on the most critical part first. Raising her BP was the first step, which means adding fluids, lot’s and lot’s of fluids. Which in and of itself brings additional problems, but then the focus quickly became surgery to remove the portion of the bowel that had died. Things happened both rapidly as well as slowly. In 24 hours she had 2 separate yet, both serious surgeries. She was not stable. Her BP would rise and fall with the fluids, but giving too much fluid led to super high BP while not enough fluids led to decreased BP. It was a balancing act and we were being warned that she was “not out of the woods” that “this could go either way.” Those days were scary.
In one place I was comfortable in her Christianity and knew that if she were to pass that she would be safe with the Lord. In another place she was in a LOT of pain. It was impossible as a daughter to watch my mom in pain and not be able to do anything about it. They eventually got her sedated enough to not be aware. But then the fluids began to affect her body. She was swollen, and 3 to 4 times larger than her normal size. Watching all of this take place, hearing what the doctors and nurses were saying left me feeling, bereft.
The amazing thing is, she healed. Through all of the support that the hospital was able to give her and the marvelous and amazing way God designed the human body she was able to heal. She has a long road ahead, her body went through a lot of trauma. That being said, she got better.
I had already been feeling for some time that they were beginning to need additional support. I live about 4 hours from them and to make a trip isn’t just a drive across town. It isn’t really a day trip either. To drive there is a trip and we try to make it a weekend or at least a couple of days. When you homeschool you have the freedom to grab a bag, fill it with supplies and school on the go. But you also have days when you have responsibilities and classes in your community that make it difficult to travel. I’m still in the place trying to figure it out in my own mind. Finding the balance between my life here with my family and my life there with my family is causing my soul to feel torn. I have no answer at this point. Just sharing the internal struggle that I’ve been dealing with.
Spiritual High in Review
Immediately following that event with my mom was a scheduled trip to Tennessee. Through the event I wondered if I were going to be able to make the trip. I was going there to attend an annual church lectureship series called Polishing the Pulpit. This year I was privileged to be a part of the lectures. I along with my friend Karen had been asked to lead a group of women in learning to make visual aids for Bible classes. We do this utilizing the chalk pastels. I love “chalking.” This art technique creates beautiful and soft visual art. Here are some examples of the types of visuals we make for our classes.
This annual trip isn’t only about art though, it is about the fellowship with like-minded Christians. It is about learning from those who have experienced more, it is about worship in spirit and truth with a group of dedicated Christians. I was brought much comfort during that week especially following the difficult weeks that came before.
At the same time I’m still learning and I am learning with Little Man how to take this art process and put it into other formats. I recently discovered this art curriculum series by Tricia Hodges which starts with A Simple Start in Art Pastels. There are several in the series and you can find them at her website, Southern Hodgepodge (affiliate).
Back to Homeschool in Review
We returned home to begin our 6th year of homeschool. When once again I had to make a sudden trip to visit with my mom who was once again in the hospital. Seems the doctors are having trouble With all of the running, expected and otherwise I was left with not having been prepared to start homeschool. I felt overwhelmed at first because I simply didn’t know where to start but I knew I needed to start. So I took the beginning slow. I started with what I knew, which was Khan Academy, Bible Study Guide for all Ages, and Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day by Apologia. These were my starting points.
Just this past week I began to sit down and start the process of organizing my year and lesson plans. This will be the first time that I’ve worked backwards. I generally write goals for the year then narrow that down into quarters followed with creating lesson plans for 2 weeks at a time working toward the goals. So far this year I’m flying by the seat of week to week lesson plans. Not ideal. Hopefully this week I can reassess and put my goals into focus.
One of the ways I am hoping to do this is through this product that I’ve recently discovered. You see for years I’ve attempted to design my own Language Arts curriculum. I’ve pulled materials from a lot of sources but never really confident that what I was doing was the ‘right thing.’ But Jimmie Lanley has a wonderful resource for homeschool teachers it’s called. Designing Your Own Language Arts Curriculum. When I first received this e-book it was through my blogging networks and is in fact an affiliate product. This week though as I began reading through it what I discovered was a wealth of information that is ideally suited for the way I have and want to continue to teaching Language Arts in my school. Through this book Jimmie has given me the confidence to continue the patterns that I’ve already implemented while at the same time opening my eyes to a wealth of resources with which to do so with knowledge.
These past several weeks I have traveled a bumpy road. I’ve had both wonderful highlights and difficult low moments. I’ve felt spiritual highs, and incredible spiritual comfort in what would be the darkest moments without the Lord by my side. I’ve loved and sorrowed, I’ve feared and rejoiced. I’m choosing to focus on the joys and share with you images from my greatest summer highlights.