Okay, people. I started this post in early December, and it's still not finished. Enough is enough. I'm going to wrap it up today, and even if it's not finished, it's going online. Love you all!
Being that we are home from church (all sick!), it is the perfect time for me to begin the one blog post I am allowing myself this year - a Christmas-time update on how our family has been this past year.
Here, in completely random order, are some thoughts about the past year. And other off-the-wall thoughts, too - a bonus!
The word that comes to mind to describe 2017 is challenging.
It all started - quite literally - the day after New Year's Day. On that day, my husband's job went straight from, "Yay, this is awesome!" to "Oh, my. This is very, very, very bad."
And it went downhill from there. It has been eleven non-stop months of heavy-duty job stress, including five months of unemployment. My husband is now two weeks into his new job, and all is going well (except for a major, major reduction in salary). But oh, my - it was a stressful year.
The second major challenge of this year was a church move. I don't need to elaborate on the stress and tears that have accompanied these past few months.
Additional challenges were our first experience with major medical bills when having crummy-because-it-pays-for-nothing health insurance, and major plumbing problems that took a good month+ to resolve. (The kids loved doing dishes in the bathtub and the backyard, if nothing else!)
I am going to be completely open here, in case it is of help to anyone reading: The biggest stress for me this year has been the simple fact that in a lot of the major decision-making mentioned above, my husband and I were not in agreement about most of it. This made everything harder. I know a lot of you ladies are - sometimes, or often - in the same boat. Decisions have to made, and God calls us to submit to our husbands. And that's really hard when everything in you is wanting to go a different direction.
But God really does bless when we submit, even if we don't agree. There have been great blessings that have come out of this year! And I am learning additional strength (it takes much more strength to submit graciously - which I haven't done perfectly, or even well - than it does to put one's ears back and exert one's own will), as well as a character trait that I greatly desire - that of being sweet, gracious, and gentle, rather than nagging, negative, and in-control. I need the practice - and this year, I got it.
But seriously, enough complaining. It's also been a great year. This little guy, who entered the world super-early in February...
... is now a strapping 11-month-old. He is superbly and adorably plump and a champion eater, and loves beyond measure to be held. We have decided that he possesses a Jekyll and Hyde character - if you hold him, he is the adorable Sir Squeaks-a-lot, and if you put him down he becomes Sir Screams-a-lot. I have taken up part-time babywearing (which I normally don't care for) out of sheer self-defense.
He's a darling.
Some pictures from last summer:
This year, for the first time, I experienced homeschooling an older child with the trio of a preschooler, a toddler, and an infant underfoot. Wowza. You ladies who do this regularly have all of my admiration.
Next year, our soon-to-be-6yo will join the fray as our second student, and that will be an interesting challenge.
Some of the perks of this year have been:
* Finishing our first year of Latin. I highly recommend Memoria Press's Latin program! Latin has been such a wonderful experience, and I adore it. I love that I am getting to fill in the gaps in my own education - next step, German and French! Oh, boy... how I love languages.
* Our study of World War I - My own education contained virtually nothing about WWI, and this was so interesting. We especially loved Nathan Hale's Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood. Also, the music!
- Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition
- Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning
- Goodbye, Broadway, Hello, France
* Our studies of Ireland and Scotland, and especially of their folk music. So incredibly beautiful. Here are a few favorites:
- Loch Lomond
- Whisky in the Jar
- By the Rising of the Moon
- Molly Malone
- Traditional Irish Music
- Highland Mary
* Our ongoing studies of American folk songs. Here are a few so far:
* A new experience this year was attending a local Greek festival. The children have been attempting Greek dancing ever since. Here is my husband's video:
This year included many, many field trips. Here are pictures from a few of them, plus some other fun activities:
|Our homeschool group's Valentine's Day party.|
|Our local chuckwagon cook-off.|
|Making boric acid crystals. The blue color is actually not the crystal itself, but the blue pipe-cleaner form showing through the clear crystal.|
|The state fair.|
|Butterfly gardens at our local botanical gardens.|
|Day at the farm!|
|Our local American heritage festival!|
|Our Thanksgiving tree, pre-decorations.|
At a family wedding, in which the 5yo got to be the ring-bearer:
Gearing up for eclipse day:
Vacation (No, really.)
Five years ago, I got up the guts to plan a vacation. (Not my strength.) It was an absolute disaster, and I haven't tried again.
But this year, some sweet friends offered us the use of their cabin, and we accepted. Success! It wasn't easy, but I am so thankful that I finally moved ahead and did it.
We might even do it again some day.
I have come to realize that I will probably never be Lutheran again.
I grew up Lutheran, but left the church immediately upon my marriage. Since then I've been mainly Baptist and Presbyterian. But I have maintained a deep love for the Lutheran church, especially as I study Lutheran theology and learn about the liturgical year.
But there's most likely no going back. That's what happens when you marry a Pentecostal from Texas, y'all.
But I've come to realize that I don't have to wait forever in terms of getting back to my Lutheran roots. So one of my ongoing goals is introducing the liturgical year (Lent! Epiphany! Advent!) to our family and home, despite the fact that we are - in general - attending churches that don't practice or recognize the liturgical year.
It's an ongoing discipline, but I love it.
Closet Lutherans of the world, unite!
|Anyone know what this is?|
One thing that continually strikes me, as I travel this road through parenthood, is how much the world devalues motherhood. Motherhood is something that is tossed aside like worthless rags. Anyone who "is worth more than that" is off doing something "worthwhile" in the work world. Motherhood is simply not appreciated for the deep, heartfelt work that it is.
And before parenthood, I didn't appreciate motherhood either. I knew that I needed to be home with my children (thank you, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, you are wonderful!), but I did not perceive motherhood as something difficult. You simply had a child or two, they behaved themselves because you wanted them to (ha ha ha ha ha ha), and then they started school and you got back to your real life.
I had no idea.
I had no idea how important mothers were. I had no idea how difficult motherhood was. I had no idea how motherhood would change me, would challenge me, would stretch me in every possible direction - painfully - all at once.
I now know this: If God manages to do nothing else during my lifetime than to change me into what He truly wishes me to be as a mother, then I will be content with nothing more than that.
Because motherhood is that hard. And it is so, so important.
Mothers of the world, don't let your role be devalued. And don't underestimate how hard it will be. But it is so worth it.
Goals for 2018
This year is already presenting with its own challenges!
- We are currently dealing with our first-ever case of the real flu bug.
- Our little guy will shortly be beginning a course of treatment for plagiocephaly. (And we, the parents, will shortly be beginning a course of long-term payment for said treatment, LOL!)
- Dental issues for me. (I have begun an n=1 experiment to see if I can deal with these on my own. The timer is running, and we will find out the truth this coming July.)
- Financial challenges - Repairing our battered finances after a half-year of unemployment.
I have some exciting new projects that I am also considering for our homeschool program:
- My husband and son will be going through "Created for Work" over the next year. (Awesome book, highly recommended!)
- We may have the opportunity to join a co-op.
- I am going to give teaching piano lessons to our eldest another try. (Just can't get myself to pay the exorbitant fees that professional teachers charge, ouch!)
- I am hoping to start teaching Spanish (as well as the Latin we're already learning) to our children.
- I am preparing once again, after a gap of six years, to teach kindergarten. With what I've learned in that time, it will be completely different than round #1 was. What that will look like, I'm not yet sure.
- I am considering trying Memoria Press's composition program. Oh, boy - Memoria Press products just make me drool.
- I am working on an extensive project of cataloging our entire book collection - both by title, and classified by age level and historical period. I hope to be finished with this before book-buying season (May and June, the time for used curriculum sales) begins.
I am busy preparing mentally for some upcoming milestones:
- Teens - Yes, the clock is counting down! Seventeen months and counting until we have our first teen. (*Insert mild panic attack*)
- High School - We are now three years out from our first high school student. I am working hard on the basics so that the upper levels can fall more easily in place.
- Multiple Students - Having done our first seven years with only one active student, this is going to be quite the challenge.
And much more!
I have many goals for the coming year. I am also working on defining our family homeschool's distinctives. What really defines our family, and our homeschool? It's an interesting project to write that out, and I will post that here when I am done.
One thing that I will not - to the best of my knowledge - be doing much of this year is, again, blogging. I have been in "not blogging" state for over a year now, and while it is stressful, it is necessary. I simply don't have time, and I need every bit of my energy to deal with the demands of home, marriage, and five children.
That being said, I miss all of my blogging sisters! Thank you so much to those of you who have kept in touch with me via email. I hope to stay in touch with each of you over the coming year.
(Just a reminder: The email address associated with this blog has changed, and my old one is now inactive, so don't email me at my old address!)
I do plan to stop by to post the following:
I do plan to stop by to post the following:
- As promised, our family's "homeschool distinctives."
- A few posts on hyperemesis prevention research.
- An updated pregnancy preparation plan.
- Occasional family updates. (We're talking once or twice a year, max.)
- Random posts as the need arises.
But on the whole, I won't be around much.
Dear readers, I send much love! I wish each and every one of you a very merry (belated) Christmas, with all of my wishes for a wonderful 2018! Happy New Year!