Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up {Grace for the Crazy Days}

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Oh, Fall, how I love thee.

Golden flowers everywhere.

Pumpkin spice lattes.

Crisp mornings.

An established rhythm to our days.

Ha! When will I learn? Every time I say life is starting to settle down, the craziness kicks up a notch or two. Or three. : )

Monday morning started out with me fighting off a mini panic attack. Mondays are our Classical Conversations day and there were a couple of things Ryne didn't complete. Thankfully, I fought off the guilt by repeating one word throughout the morning: grace. I knew that our CC tutor would give us grace, but sometimes I need to give myself grace.

The assignments that didn't get done are from his debate strand, a subject completely new to Ryne (and me), and he needed some coaching. Yet, in order to coach him, I needed to understand it better and I just never found that time to get caught up on it. So I sat in on that session of his CC day and got it figured out.

Now I just need to find time to go over it more with him. I don't know if this is an autism thing or just his learning style, or both, but Ryne can study pretty independently when he has a routine in place and at least some basic understanding of the material, knowledge he can build upon. However, if it's something new like this, he struggles at just digging in and figuring it out on his own or even getting started. Funny, writing out my thoughts on the matter reveals to me how I can be praying for his homeschooling.

Tuesday was a much-needed workday at home. I did, however, get some sad news about a dear friend's father, so my heart was heavy.

Wednesday morning was full of baby bliss -- I was a helper in one of the baby rooms for Bible Study Fellowship. Two hours in a room full of 4-9 month old cutie pies! I'm fully loving my stage as a mom to teenagers, but a morning with snuggly babies was a wonderful change of pace. BSF often uses long-time class members to volunteer in the children's program for the first two weeks of class as newcomers get used to the schedule and program, so next week I will finally get to meet my new small group for the year.

Thursday. I cannot begin to describe how crazy-full this day was. It involved four hours of driving across the state to the St. Louis area for a medical appointment for Anna. Marc was already there for business, so I got to see him for about 5 minutes before I drove another four hours back home to take Grace to ballet class. By the time we returned from ballet, Marc was home too and we talked for about 5 minutes before I collapsed into bed. So I spent 10 minutes total talking with my husband, half on one side of the state, and half on the other side of the state!

Today is the fall carnival/fundraiser for the girls' school and then tomorrow is our biggest cross country meet of the season. Being done with the carnival will help ease our busy schedule a bit, but we have another trip to St. Louis scheduled for next week and another the week after that, so crazy will still stick around a little longer. Thankfully, God's grace is more powerful than the crazy.

If I ever find some free time to sit down and putter, I will be editing a batch of photos from a little photoshoot I did a couple weeks ago with Anna in a field of sunflowers. I still want to have professional senior photos taken, but this was a fun prelude. The hat was an accessory we used for just a few photos, so we set it aside for a moment, and then forgot all about it! An hour later we suddenly remembered the hat and had to retrace our footsteps through thousands of sunflowers. Thankfully, we had left it in a place a little easier to find than on the ground, so we were reunited with the hat. : )

Happy homeschooling, and have a blessed weekend!

Linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

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Shakespeare in the Shade: Ryne and his Challenge I classmates and tutor, reading aloud The Taming of the Shrew

Last week Grace read my blog.

As in the WHOLE thing.

From June 11, 2008 to July 23, 2015!

Granted, I've never been the most prolific blogger, so it really didn't take her that long to read through every post, but I was surprised at how much she enjoyed reading it. It got me thinking that it really is a shame I've stopped chronicling our adventures, so for her sake, I'm going to make a better effort.

With that, I'm bringing back weekly reviews, except that I'm going to try to keep it really simple. A picture and a few highlights are my goal (I've even cheated by using a picture from last week!). To keep myself accountable, however, I will be linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

This marked Week 5 of our homeschool year! Our school year got off to a very rocky start due to sad circumstances, but we're finally starting to hit our groove. Ryne is in Classical Conversations' Challenge 1 program, and we're really behind in a couple of subjects, but I'm trying not to stress too much about it. Overall, CC is going very well for him this year. It's just him and three girls in the class, but he has a male tutor to make up for being the only guy in the class. It seems like a pretty neat mix of kids.

Tuesday was my entry into my mid-40's (44, to be exact. How can that be?!). The first excitement of the day was getting a call from Anna to say she drove her car into a ditch just outside our neighborhood. She was fine and the car was fine -- she just caught a tire on the edge of the road as she was turning and couldn't recover quickly enough. We live in a semi-rural area, so the roads aren't the greatest and I've even caught a tire there myself before. In God's Providence, Marc was still at home and was sitting right next to me when I got the call, so he took her to her community college class and then waited for the tow truck (it's a pretty deep ditch). Everything turned out fine, amazingly, I stayed calm the entire time. That might be a first!

In the afternoon Marc and I had a meeting across town to attend and afterwards we went out to dinner. It wasn't a planned date, but turned out to be a fun little birthday celebration. Tomorrow night will be our annual family tradition of celebrating my birthday by watching The Sound of Music. I think we started doing it before Grace was even born, so I'm pretty sure between the five of us we could quote the entire movie.

Wednesday was the first week of Bible Study Fellowship! BSF is probably the only thing that can keep me sane enough to be able to homeschool through high school, so I'm very happy to start up the new year. : ) I volunteered in the children's program and had the most perfectly behaved group of 3 and 4 year-olds I've ever seen. They were a bunch of cuties, but it was almost eerie how good they were!

Thursday afternoon was spent at Anna and Ryne's cross country meet. Anna has been having health issues and wasn't supposed to run, but she decided to try anyway and ended up taking 7th place. Her varsity girls team won the meet for the 8th year in a row. Ryne was the 5th runner in on his JV team, which also won the meet. And I had a sweet reunion with a friend I knew years ago from BSF. All in all, a great afternoon!

The strangest thing to happen all week? My cell phone has become a magnet for receiving wrong number calls this week. So far, I've received 5 different calls not really meant for me, but the best was Sunday night. I answered my phone, even though I didn't recognize the number, and it was an automatic message, saying I was receiving a non-collect call from a correctional facility and then it gave the first name of the person calling me, which happened to be the first name of my sister! I figured the only thing that would result in my smart, law-abiding sister calling me from jail was going to be quite the story, but alas the poor woman had called the wrong number so I have no tales to tell. I do hope that it's not really like it is in the movies and that the woman used up her only phone call on me!

That wraps up our week! Happy homeschooling and enjoy the weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Dad

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Dad passed away a month ago, August 14th. It was expected, yet unexpected.  He had gradually declined from Alzheimer's for several years, but he also had months where he had more significant decline and then he would plateau for awhile.

For Father's Day, my sister had taken him out to a Cirque du Soleil performance and they had a wonderful time. It was not easy because his mobility wasn't what it used to be, but they were able make it up and down stairs and he enjoyed the performance. Less than two weeks later, we were getting calls while we were on vacation in Michigan that he was experiencing a lot of confusion and having balance problems.

By the time I went out to see him a week later he was unable to walk, wasn't able to feed himself, and pretty much didn't recognize me. He started receiving hospice care. We were told that he may have had a silent stroke. But as the week went on, he slowly started getting better. By the end of the week, he was still in a wheel chair but in pretty good spirits. He knew who I was and we had delightful conversations. Of course, I was thankful for the improvement, but the emotional strain of the week on my sister and me was intense -- such ups and downs.

I traveled back home, and then a week and a half later our whole family returned to Denver for my niece's wedding. Dad was doing much better, and Marc and the kids had a wonderful, but short, visit with him. He was still in a wheelchair, but he recognized our whole family and was delighted to see everyone. After the wedding we went back home and started getting ready for the new school year.

At church that next Sunday, I told people I thought my dad was experiencing another plateau and I didn't think anything was imminent. I thought it might be several months. Two days later I received a call that it was time to come back to Denver. Dad's body was just shutting down. My sister and I spent the next few days at his side. He was not responsive, but we spent the time sorting through pictures and retelling and remembering all the stories of our growing up years.

As a follower of this blog, you must know by now that I'm a visual person and that photos are important to me, but I don't think even I realized just how important they would be this past month. With Alzheimer's you start saying your good-byes long before your loved one is actually gone. Every time I left Denver I wondered if it was the last time I'd see my dad, even if he was doing well. Because he had a more aggressive form of Alzheimer's, we knew things could go downhill pretty quickly. So it wasn't the good-bye that was so hard. God gave me so much peace through it all (and I do mean it came completely from God, because my natural tendency in any stressful situation is panic, pity, and worry). This time I had no doubt God was in control every moment. But the hurt was still hard. Because my mom passed away ten years ago, this was the end of an era. The day before my dad passed away would have been their 49th wedding anniversary. Going through the photos reminded me of how blessed our family was, and my heart started to heal. My parents didn't get to live deep into their retirement years, but they lived their adventure from day one. My sister and I had an amazing childhood. So many good memories.

The week following Dad's death, I worked on a photo slideshow for the service that was a tribute mostly to Dad's life, but also Mom's. I'm not posting the slideshow on the blog because it's long and we didn't want it on youtube, but the above are just some of the pictures I used (some of the above weren't included in the slideshow, but I thought my kids might like to see a few more of their grandpa and mom together). Everything about Dad's service felt so perfect and brought such peaceful closure. For ten years I struggled with my memories of Mom being clouded by the awfulness of brain cancer, and I feared that my memories of Dad would likewise always be framed by Alzheimer's. But after spending hours and hours putting together the slideshow and then watching it at least 20 times since then (and counting, because I still watch it almost daily), my mind is now filled with images of happy times and wonderful memories of them both. We weren't perfect, and there were still hard times, but it all comes together to form the story of our family -- a story I will always treasure.

I could write so much more, but just know that God was good to my dad, and God used my dad to bring a lot of people joy.

God is good.