Tuesday, July 24, 2012


"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it"

- Winston Churchill

My kids love American history.  It makes sense.  At a very young age, Princess TD learned she shared her birthday with our country and naturally that intrigued her.  Of course, Little TD has always been intrigued by the boats and the wars.  He is a boy after all!

Our curriculum spends two full years studying American history before moving on to covering world history.  There are many reasons for that but the one that resonates the most with me is that younger children do not understand their vastness of their city, or state, or country, let alone the world.  It just makes sense to start with an overview of our country’s history and then branch out from there.  So, for the past 3 years we have been covering American history. 

There have been a couple of times that the knowledge they have has surprised me.  One night as Jay Leno was doing his Jaywalking segment, they had 5 questions about America.  I knew all of the correct answers, but I was curious how much Princess TD would know (at the time, she was the only one in “school”).  When it was over, I wrote the questions down to see what she would say.  She got all but one question right!!  In all fairness, the one she missed we hadn’t studied. Now I know this is for humor, but there are many Americans who don’t know our country’s history.  That is a shame.

Square250x250 Back in March, Kirk Cameron did a live release of his documentary Monumental.  I was unable to attend the live event because our local theaters sold out before I could get tickets.  The following week, I ordered the DVD.  It came in this week.  I watched it this weekend while Mr. TD napped since I knew he wasn’t as excited as I was to see the film.  I thoroughly enjoyed the film.  I was a bit distracted by the precious little ones playing camping on the other side of the couch, but I own the movie, I can watch it whenever I want!

Well, Little TD and Princess TD were not distracted too long.  Little TD heard Kirk mention the town of Scrooby, and he pops his head over the back of the couch and says, “Hey! I know that! That’s where the Pilgrims hid and worshipped God!”  He also knew that the Speedwell did not make the trip to the New World.  He said, “It got a hole in it",” as soon as it was mentioned in the film.  Princess TD remembered the Pilgrims getting stopped at the beach and said it happened twice, before the movie did.  She also remembered that they stayed in Amsterdam for a bit before moving on to Leiden.  Once they began investigating the monument in detail, they went back to playing camping.

This was just confirmation for me that even with all of the unintended breaks we have taken from our school, they are learning and I am not ruining them! 

If you are a history buff and want to learn more about why our country was founded, I highly recommend this film.  It is family friendly, so don’t feel like you have to see it without the kids.  In fact, show it to them.  They may learn something that they wouldn’t be taught in school.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Back to (Home) School

With everything that has been going on in our family life over the past two years, schooling has somewhat fallen to the back burner more often than I would truly like to admit.  But we have been plugging right along, slowly but surely.  Originally when we decided to homeschool, it was a year to year plan.  Now, not so much.  We are planning to homeschool for the long haul.  I can’t even begin to tell you how freeing that decision has made this journey. 

This has become our lifestyle.  Everything we do has some aspect of learning.  For example, tonight at the dinner table, we were talking about the sad event of three people being struck by lightening over the weekend.  We all feel bad for the people affected by the tragedy and the kids will pray for them forever.  (That is how they are. Once you make their prayer list, you never get missed and are prayed for daily, at least once.) But Mr. TD was able to turn it into a learning experience to talk about what to do (and not to do) if we are caught outside during a lightening storm.  Being the curious children Princess TD and Little TD are, they began to ask some in depth questions about electricity.  Let me just say for the record how grateful I am to have married an electrical engineer!  While, I can adequately answer their questions, I was so glad to have Mr. TD around to patiently explain the concept of electricity flow to them.  They have an understanding of those concepts that I didn’t have until college…after I met Mr. TD and he explained them to me!!  Thanks hon!

So, as so many of our homeschooling friends are gearing up for the new year and searching and researching curriculum, we are set!  Thanks to a very sweet homeschooling mom who pointed me toward Heart of Dakota when I was searching for something for Princess TD to use for Kindergarten, we are set until Carrie stops writing curriculum, which I hope is not until her children finish high school!

Two years ago, I ventured to Arlington, Texas, for the Book Fair there because that is the closest location where Carrie Austin, the author of the Heart of Dakota curriculum, comes for homeschool convention season.  I made the trek because I was concerned about Princess TD getting too far ahead too quickly.  There is a pretty big skills jump from one guide to the next and I was afraid Princess TD would not be able to keep up with what was required.  Carrie was so very helpful and suggested that I don’t have to do everything as written and do what Princess TD could handle, gradually increasing it as she could handle more.  That is exactly what I did and she did great!  Carrie also suggested taking a year and a half to complete Bigger Hearts for His Glory so she would be more ready to tackle Preparing Hearts for His Glory.  That would also move her from the younger end of the age ranges to more of the middle of the range.  That was my plan.

However, due to the circumstances of the last two years, it took us longer than what was expected to complete Bigger.  But, that puts us right where we need to be! Even with all of the missed school time, Princess TD is right where she needs to be.  Her skills are such that we can jump right into Preparing and not have to do it half time, or slow anything down.  She is ready!  Even out of all the turmoil, we are being blessed!  Praise God!!

I have tweaked the curriculum to change some things that were not working for us.  I thought I might need to change the spelling program for Princess TD, but in the last couple of weeks, her spelling has just taken off!  She seems to all of a sudden be getting it!  So, I think we’ll stick with what we are doing for now!

You may be thinking, what does all of this mean?

Well, for one, I can go to the THSC Convention & Family Conference in a couple of weeks and just enjoy myself!  I don’t have to be on a mad search for curriculum.  I don’t NEED to buy anything!  I have everything I need and I can just have fun.  Secondly, this tells me that we are on the right track, for now. 

We are blessed!!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


We are getting there!!!  I think we are getting close to the point where we can be adjusted to the "new normal" around here.  Maybe...

Just as we thought everything was going smoothly, the clinic where mom's doctors were closed!  Yes closed! Shut their doors!  All of the doctors, nurses and staff were fired with 5 days notice!  So, we have found a new PCM and are kind of sitting back and waiting to see where all of her specialists land.  Hopefully we can still see at least a few of them (we are up to 7 doctors now...maybe 8 soon!).  Taking her meds has continued to be a struggle, so I finally made the decision to have someone come in and give them to her.  This has been such a relief.  I don't have to check her pills when we visit, we can just visit!  We do however have to pay for it, and right now, that is the stress point for me.  I am trying to figure out how I can pay for this and everything else.  I really hope my sister and brothers will actually help out there!

While it seems like all I have done is take care of my mom for the last 7 months, we have had a little bit of fun time!  I won't take the time to do a post on everything, but I will give a few highlights!

  • In January and February, Little TD played basketball with Upward.  He had an absolute blast and he actually has a little bit of natural talent!  Yeah, he gets that from his dad!
  • All ready for his first game!
  • Princess TD continued this year with ballet.  She is improving all the time.  I love to see how her attitude and posture changes when she puts on the black leotard and pink tights.  It is amazing to see how poised she becomes!  She will be moving up a grade and taking ballet 2 nights a week and modern 1 night a week (thankfully modern is on a ballet night!).  I can't wait to see how much fun she has!
  • Just before Exams
    Butterfly at Dress Rehearsal

  • In January we took a family vacation and met my aunt and uncle at Disney World!  We stayed a week.  It. Was. So. Much. Fun.  Little TD said that he wanted to fly home, change out the clothes in his suitcase and come right back!  I think my aunt and uncle were a bit weary by the end of it...they may need more of a break than that!  Ever since I was a little girl, my uncle has been trying to get me to ride roller coasters with him.  I can remember standing in front of the Wabash Cannonball at Opryland at about 9 years old and refusing to go on it with him.  Well, he got his wish!  I finally rode a coaster with him...Expedition Everest.  It was so much fun!  We rode it 2 more times!  Maybe next time I won't be as congested and we can do a few more!
  • Little TD finished Kindergarten and has moved right in to 1st grade.  He seems to be keeping up and wanting to learn more and more every day!  He just adores building with Legos, and is always asking to get more.  He wants more sets of course, but mostly he wants more "creation" Legos (as he calls them) so he can build from his imagination!  He does very well with that.  It may be time to look into some Lego robotics for him in another year or so...when he's old enough!
  • Princess TD is almost finished with 3rd grade. Somehow we have finished some of the subjects, but not all of them...I am not sure where we got so far off in the schedule.  We just need to finish up a little bit of history, learning about the Wright brothers.  How can I not finish that and take the opportunity to discuss flow over the wing, wind tunnels and their experiments with air flow, and all of the things about fluid dynamics that make me giddy!
  • Princess TD is till involved in American Heritage Girls.  She completed her 3rd year as a Tenderheart and her Sacagawea Level Award.  She has moved up to Explorer and she is already working on badges and service hours!  I will be moving up with her as I take over as the Explorer Unit Leader. 
  • She's an Explorer now!
  • Our year of activities is technically over.  AHG is done.  Ballet is done. Whew!

Then summer starts.

  • Both Princess TD and Little TD participated in a VBS last week. It was an old school VBS and they love it!  I got some nice time with my girlfriends, almost uninterrupted!  (Love ya Coop...you are so cute!)
  • This week they are both in basketball camp.  They are both having fun and I think learning new skills.  Little TD told me today that he just needs to grow just 1 more inch and then he can dunk!  Yeah, well, he plays on a 6 ft. goal!  Princess TD, bless her heart, plays like her Mommy!  Although with Daddy coaching her at home, she will likely have me beat very quickly!
Well, those are just a few things that have been going on here.  Even with all of the turmoil, we are still taking time as a family and having fun!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


It has been quite a while since I have posted anything here and for good reason.  We have been going through some changes, some positive and some, well, not so much.

Shortly after my last post, I began looking at senior living communities to see how much they cost and whether or not my mom could afford to live in one.  You see, after her diagnosis of metastatic bladder cancer, the resulting surgery and the 4 months of chemotherapy, she really was not able to live on her own.  My sister was gracious enough to let her live with her while her husband was serving in Afghanistan, but he was home.  Having a parent live with you is generally not good for your marriage, especially this parent!  And so began my search.  I searched based on the income my mom told me she was or would be receiving and found a place that was in her budget.  She moved into her new home in early December.

The first few weeks we spent several days a week there helping her to get adjusted.  Then Christmas came, and she stayed with us to celebrate Christmas morning with our family.  She was attending church with us and she seemed to be meeting people at her new place and jumping right in on the activities they have there.  We were and are all cautiously hopeful that we have made the right decision for her. 

Most of January and February has been spent going to doctor appointments to get her established with new care providers.  We found a great PCM, and then she left the practice just after our second visit, so we had to find another one.  We are now established with a new (new) PCM, an oncologist, a urologist, a cardiologist and have a new referral to a nephrologist.  We also have been referred to a neurologist to have testing completed to determine if there is something going on (or not going on) in her brain. 

This part has been pretty rough on my family (and my sister's family before mine). 

You see, none of us have had a great relationship with mom. Ever. This includes everyone in her life, not just her children.  But we have all noticed that she is "worse" than she has ever been.  She is not kind. She is not grateful. Frankly, most of the time she is downright rude and disrespectful to everyone around her.  This is hard to live with. Very hard!

I am the oldest of 4 children, but right now I feel the burden of caring for mom falling squarely on my shoulders alone.  My sister cared for her through her sickest days so far and managed beautifully.  However, she is a military wife of a wonderful military officer, and as military families do, it is time for them to move.  This is very scary for me because she will be gone.  We have become so close and though she’s just a phone call away, she won’t be able to hop in the car and be here if I need her.  Together we have made it through the last year together.  Yes, she had the burden of care, but she also knew I was just a phone call and a 3 hour(ish) car ride away.  They will be in Washington DC by the summer.  That is WAY more than 3 hours away! Both of my brothers live in Missouri; one drives an 18-wheeler for a living, and one works locally near their home.  They are both at least 14 hours away on a good day.

I am constantly thinking about mom’s financial future.  She has not made wise financial decisions in the past.  Through a misunderstanding, we now do not have enough income to make her monthly rent, let alone take care of the remaining bills for her house in St. Louis.  Currently my family is spending a significant amount of money out of our budget to care for her.  I don’t know how much longer we can do that without sacrificing the welfare of our little family.  At her current rate of spending, she will be out of her savings by the end of summer.  Then what?  I just pray her house sells before then.

That is another issue. Trying to get her house on the market and the stuff remaining in the house sold.  How?  What’s there?  Is there something special hidden, tucked away that would mean something to one of us?  My brothers have promised to help get the house ready, but frankly, I don’t trust that they will get it done in a timely manner.  Don’t misunderstand me. It is not that they don’t care, they do.  They have their families and their family activities and mom is “out of sight, out of mind” for them.  They don’t feel the crushing weight of the impending doom of mom running out of money.

It is the right thing to do, to take care of my mom.  Not just because she is my mom, but also because she is a widow.  As Christians, we are told to take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans.  Well my mom qualifies as both poor and a widow.  You see, if it weren’t for my father being killed in Vietnam, she would have almost no income and no medical insurance.  Here, 41+ years after his death, he is still taking care of her and providing for her future.  What a blessing that is for her! 

For us, taking care of her, is not an easy task.  This is a huge life lesson for all of us about doing what is right even when it is really hard!  We are learning how to make it through this one day at a time, one step at a time. 

Please pray for all of us.