Homeschool Curriculum Choices: Which Way Do I Go?

Oh, man.  This is a can of worms if there ever was one.   Curriculum.  The possibilities are endless and overwhelming.  There are full secular curriculum, there are Catholic Curriculum, and there are as many Protestant choices as there are denominations.  You can fully enroll, partially enroll, or piece your own curriculum together book-by-book.  If you attend a book fair, your head will spin and you can spend a small fortune for the education of one child for one year.  But, don’t run away.  You can do this.  First, know that the wheel has already been invented. 

Find a local support group and attend one of the gatherings.  Talk with the other parents and find one or two that you connect with and ask them what they use.  Overall, homeschoolers love to share their experiences with what works and what doesn’t.  Tap into this knowledge and use it to your full advantage.  Our homeschool support group, CATH (Catholics Teaching at Home), has an information night each year for this purpose.  We also have our own library that allows parents to check out resources and save money on books, both for information and for curricula use.  I know several families that have opened their homes for shadowing as well.  Prospective parents spend the day with a homeschooling family to see how that family does it.  I have opened my home for parents to peruse my books and ask questions about various curruiculum or subjects.  Our support group also has a private yahoo group where parents can toss questions out to an individual or the group to get feedback.  Be prepared before doing this though because you may end up with more questions than when you started.  Finally, the Catholic Homeschool Conventions tend to be smaller and much less overwhelming.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary Conference is a national conference.  Look here for a location near you.

Personally, I have used several methods and tried a variety of books and products.  I have never done it the same way two years in a row.  Each year I take into consideration the life events for our family, the individual children’s needs and ages, and my own ability to handle the aforementioned.  I have come to learn that the elementary years are not so critical for forming the kids academically as they are for forming character and foundation.  These years should be focused on fun and bonding and character building and less on book-work achievement.  It has taken me fourteen years to learn this, so please take it to heart and enjoy this precious, short-lived time with your youngsters.  Don’t be a workbook Nazi.  Ha ha.  This is a reference to a speaker at one of the first homeschool conventions that I attended.  My friend, Karen and I slipped into his talk and saw so much of ourselves in what he had to say that we were rolling with laughter and grabbing our sides from the pain.  He talked about being a “workbook Nazi” standing guard over the students to make sure they completed every assignment, making threats of withholding lunch, or play, or whatever would entice the child to finish his work.  It was not fun for the parent, not fun for the child, and very questionable as to how much learning was really being accomplished.  I want my children to love learning as much as I do and it is very easy getting sucked into the role of guard, instead of guide. 

I devoured books about Charlotte Mason, Maria Montessori, and  by Mary Kay Clark and Laura Berquist.  I tend towards the Classical Method of education because I feel that it addresses the whole child in the best possible way.  But, when push comes to shove and you have three students, three toddlers and a baby due, Classical isn’t always possible or feasible.  So, for the years where I was stretched thin, I have found traditional education with mostly independent studies the best fit for the fam.  This is spelled SETON.  You cannot beat it for giving your child a beautiful, Catholic education for the best value and quality.  It is a great fit for large families, but does come with its own drawbacks.  It is very easy to become the Workbook Nazi that I mentioned before.  It is also more of a challenge for me to be flexible.  Their books and lesson plans are so well laid out that straying from the plan leaves me feeling that my kids will be missing something important if we skip a lesson or omit an assignment.  This may just be a personal  OCD thing on my behalf, but it is there.  Also, I have a daughter with mild dyslexia.  I felt that when she was using Seton, she just memorized to pass the test and spit back the information, and wasn’t truly learning and internalizing the material.  Lastly, Seton charges by the student and all books are included in the fees, as well as counseling and record keeping.  I believe they give discounts for large families, but you would need to double check me on that.

We enrolled in Mother of Divine Grace (MODG) two years ago when my second daughter reached high school age.  I started out writing my own lesson plans and doing my own record keeping, but by the mid-semester break I felt like my daughter was drifting away.  I couldn’t keep up with grading, I wasn’t sure about what she was actually learning and didn’t feel like I had a good grip on her education.  I prayed for direction and sought my husband’s counsel.  We decided to enroll her with MODG beginning in January following the break.  Because they have their own standards, many of the credits that Allison had earned in that first semester didn’t transfer and we had to begin from square one.  Allison was a real champ about it and never complained once that she had to start her freshman year all over.  MODG assigns consultants to each family and charges a flat fee per family for enrollment.  The advantage here is that we continue to work with the same person and form a relationship between consultant and family.  My consultant learned of our unique circumstance and went to bat for us to get it all worked out.  She made adjustments to Allison’s lesson plans to help ease the transition and to work through it at a faster rate.  We were not able to sign up for Learning Services, which are the on-line live classes offered through MODG; but we were able to get Teaching Assistance, which included private telephone consultation with a teacher and grading for those subjects.  This really took the pressure off of me and gave me back the confidence that Allison was not missing out on critical learning in her high school career.

Due to the fact that enrollment with MODG includes the whole family, I decided to enroll all of my students for this current year.  I ended up changing out many of the curriculum with book choices that I already owned or preferred , resulting in the re-writing of most of the lesson plans.  Since I have a firm foundation and years of experience, I did not feel like I benefitted from enrolling my younger students and will just do my own lesson plans again for next year.  I will use my time with the MODG consultant to focus on Allison.  I don’t give the cost of Learning Services and Teaching Assistance a second thought.  Allison is a visual learner and the on-line live courses have helped her to master the material much more easily and have the added bonus of keeping her on schedule; in addition to no grading for me (whoo hoo!).

I really enjoy writing my own lesson plans, which I intend to discuss in detail with you in a future post.  But, since we are discussing curriculum, here are some of my favorite picks for books for my younger students by grade and subject:

Math:  Horizon’s workbooks through grade 4; Abeka Mathmatics for gifted mathematicians; Saxon Math grades 5 through highschool.  I especially encourage using a live on-line class like Homeschool Connections for upper math courses, or at a minimum purchase the D.I.V.E. cd’s for added instruction.

Spelling:  AVKO’s Sequential Spelling DVD’s especially if your child is not a strong speller.  This teaches spelling patterns and helps the brain to recognize the patterns.  This is suitable for all grades, but each student should begin with the first book and work through in order from there.

Teaching your Child to Read:  Hands down I recommend “Teaching Reading and Writitng from Square One” by Don McCabe founder of AVKO.  It is a free ebook when you become an AVKO member.  It just makes sense to me and was simple to teach and use.  You can begin to use this whenever you sense that your child is ready to read.  I had a four year old learn to read when I used it to teach his older siblings and I intend to use it next year with my four and six year old.  I will not be surprised if my spry three year old picks up on it just by being in the room with us.

Phonics:  Explode the Code series are our favorite.  The kids devour the workbooks and finish them way ahead of schedule.  You begin with books A,B and C at the preschool or kinder level and go up from there.  There are two books for each level : books 1 and 1 ½; 2 and 2 ½  etc.

Language Arts:  I enjoy using the Total Language Plus program for one of the years in each child’s elementary career.  The workbooks are pricey, but can be reproduced for use within the same family; or you can have your child write his/her answers in a spiral notebook in order to reuse for the next child.  They do a good job of assigning grade levels beginning from grade 3.

Art:  Artistic Pursuits.  It is pricey, but it truly teaches art appreciation along with hands-on projects to compliment each piece of art.  I have the full set now, but you could purchase one book from each level and it would stretch out over several school seasons.  Unless, you are that amazing mom that fits art in on a weekly basis and doesn’t mind the overhead.  I would enjoy meeting you—if you really exist 😉

Religion:  I adore MODG elementary lesson plans with a combination of Catechism memorization; Bible history and retelling and learning about various saints.  I also like the Seton Religion workbooks, attending daily Mass as often as possible, and adding in devotions like the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Rosary depending on the day and liturgical calendar.  Living your faith out loud is the best teacher.

My final advice is to pick something and just go with it.  Don’t get stuck in the decision making process.  If it doesn’t work for one child, set it aside for another, or sell it or pass it along.  Each child is different and will probably need the lesson plan tweaked to fit his/her needs.  Look for used books to borrow or buy at a discount and don’t get sucked into the curriculum with lots of bells and whistles.  It is easy to add activities as you go and often much less expensive.  The internet is an incredible source for free or inexpensive material as well.  Check out for amazing and unlimited ideas for teaching the faith.  My lists are nowhere near complete or all inclusive.  I just found some items that worked for me, so I stuck with them and didn’t look back.  I’m afraid of getting sucked into that land of overwhelming choices again.  I’ve been there, spent too much money and have the books to prove it.


Homeschool Review

This fall will mark the beginning of our fourteenth year of homeschooling.  As difficult it is for me to believe that we’ve been at it that long, it is even harder to wrap my brain around the idea that we have at least fourteen years to go given that our youngest is three years old.  Currently, we are wrapping up our current year with just a few straggling assignments in various subjects, depending on the student.  I am knee-deep in lesson planning and book buying.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool Conference is just a few months away.  It is at this conference where I get to reconnect with old friends; receive and dole out encouragement for the new year; and buy Catholic merchandise and books that most stores don’t carry.  I absolutely enjoy the catholicity of this conference.  Most homeschool conferences are generic Christian conferences, often to the exclusion of Catholic vendors.  Go figure.  Anyway, the IHM Conference is dripping in the faith, so in addition to buying my books, I get a spiritual renewal as well—complete with the Sacrament of Confession.  I can’t think of a better way to start a fresh school year.

As I begin to plan the new school year, I reflect back on past years.  What worked really well?  What didn’t work at all?  I have never been afraid to make changes, but I have made the mistake of changing things too much or too often.  In the attempt to achieve the perfect schedule I have come to realize that perfection does not exist; at least not for more than a week.  The children’s needs and abilities are constantly changing.  Life’s demands are never predictable.  Flexibility within a structure is a necessity in homeschooling, forcing the homeschooling parent to be a vigilant student of herself and her students.

As in a sacramental marriage where the spouses challenge each other to grow and change in order to sanctify themselves and one another; homeschooling done well challenges both the teacher and the students (parents and children) to grow and change—to sanctify one another.  Of course, we are called to do this in the family unit no matter how the children are educated, but homeschooling ups the ante by putting parents and children together for extended periods of time.  With my health struggles, this year has offered unique opportunities to stretch our virtue muscles.   Even on the days where very little formal schooling took place, my children were learning valuable life lessons that cannot be taught through books or worksheets.

Over the next few weeks I will share with you my experiences, what has worked well for us over the years, and –in true humility—what has not worked well at all.  I hope you will share my blog posts with others who may benefit from my experience and weigh in with ideas and experiences of your own.

Easter Highs and Sugar Lows

Happy Easter!  He is risen, He is risen indeed!  I hope that you all had a blessed Holy Week and joyful Easter Sunday celebrations.  We had a busy weekend filled with family, candy, desserts, candy, and even swimming.  I am delayed in writing this blog because it has taken me all week to recover.  On Saturday, we drove to Dallas to visit family and had an early lunch that the kids didn’t eat because we had just had breakfast a couple of hours earlier.  So, with empty stomachs they dove head first into the bowls of M&M’s and chocolate kisses.  This was followed by an egg hunt and the devouring of candy in said eggs, followed by desserts, and sodas to wash it all down.  Normally, we have strict rules about eating our grow food and limiting sweets; but, it has always been our policy that at special events the kids have free reign over their tastebuds with gentle reminders that too much might cause tummy aches.  I think it is a good way of teaching them responsibility for their actions without giving away too much parental guidance and oversight.  They all had a good sugar high, and no one was harmed in the experiment.

Sophia woke up screaming around 3 am on Easter Sunday.  Patrick settled her down and when he crawled back into bed I reminded him that the Easter bunny had left the baskets in the top of her closet and forgot to put them out.  So, out he went again to do his Easter duty.  Mass was beautiful and beautifully crowded!   We had to split into three pews to even get seats, but Lauren was home so we had adult supervision for each group.  We came home and ate a wonderful and tasty balanced lunch with protein and vegetables and then headed off to my sister’s home for another egg hunt, cake, ice cream  and more soda.  My sister heated her pool and the kids got to go in for a short swim before a storm came through.  I wonder if my niece has regained her hearing yet?  She was the lucky one holding Sophia in the pool when it thundered.  Sophia and thunder do not mix.  Think of a cat with claws being dipped in water and add the head of a screaming banshee with beautiful blue eyes and short bobbed hair:  Sophia in a thunderstorm.

Sophia woke up Monday asking when we were doing the egg hunt.  She learned that Easter is 50 days in length and was ready to continue the celebrations.  Of course, we didn’t have any more celebrations, but everyone was excited to have dessert with dinner.  We typically only have dessert on Name Days (feast days of our patron saints) or on days of Solemnity.  It is not that we are so holy to observe those days, it was a way for me to cut back on the grocery budget and not be the bad guy for saying no to dessert all the time.  It has saved me money and the added bonus is that my kids really pay attention to the liturgical calendar, which has heightened all of our awareness of the beauty and traditions in the Catholic Church, forming a stronger connection to the Communion of the Saints.  In any case, Monday went fairly well and we took the day off of school to enjoy a few more moments with Lauren before she headed back to college.

Then came Tuesday.  Whoo Weee!  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what went wrong.  The older kids were constantly bickering about every. little. thing. and the younger kids were either screaming, yelling or screeching at the top of their lungs.  I woke up feeling like my blood had been replaced with cement.  On three different occasions I attempted to take a nap only to be woken up by the horrible, terrible, sassy aliens that had invaded my kids’ bodies.  Fifi took the kids to the park and I enjoyed my one hour of silence.  When Fifi left at 2pm, I sat outside with the kids hoping that the fresh air and exercise would bring peace and calm.  It did not.  I resorted to having the kids do 25 jumping jacks for each infraction.  After dinner I gave them to Dad.  He took them for a walk and had them doing sets of 100 jumping jacks.  They all slept well.  We have not seen signs of the alien invaders since.  I am pretty sure they were from the planet Sugar in the galaxy of Chocolate and Sodas.  So, you might be on the lookout in case they are looking for new bodies to occupy.

On Phones, Warranties, and Republic Wireless

I didn’t start out wanting to do a phone review, but after the experiences of the past  eleven days it would be an injustice not to share my experiences with you.   First, the back story.   Ever since we have had cell phones in our home, my husband has used Hawk Electronics and bought his own phones from ebay.  We didn’t have to have a contract and saved money by buying used iPhones vs. the latest version.  Because I am at home most of the time, I had no need for a data plan and we just used our wi-fi to use the apps and internet.  This worked really well for us until ATT forced Hawk out.  In October 2013 we were notified that my phone and my daughter’s iphone (hand-me down from Grandma) would be forced into data plans and our monthly phone bill would increase by over $100.  We had heard about Republic Wireless, and the new Moto X was due to be released in November.  Allison and I decided we would give it a try and break from the Apple products we had come to know and enjoy.

It did not disappoint.  The Moto X was simple to learn and use with the best benefit of unlimited talk, text and wi-fi data at $10 per month!  When I traveled up to Kansas City I upgraded to a data plan for the two weeks and switched my plan back upon my return.  My husband took out Square Trade warranties for $97 per phone as insurance policies since we did have to buy the phones for $299 each.  Overall, the average cost of the phone and usage was way less than the iPhone.  Another benefit came when we travelled to Mexico.  My husband’s iPhone  texting and data had to be blocked to avoid expensive international roaming fees.  My phone had full talk and text wherever WiFi was available.  I was able to Skype with my kids and communicate with friends back home, which came in handy when Icemaggedon hit and our flights were delayed.

Fast forward to Sunday, April 7, 2014.  My two-year old son lay on the bed next to me running fever and feeling more than a little puny.  The next thing I knew he was vomiting on my bed and in the chaos of cleaning it all up, caring for him and scrambling for towels and such, my phone got scooped up with the dirty linens.  The washers were both full and running, so I set the pile next to the machines.  My daughter would later report that she heard my phone ringing, but couldn’t find it.  By the time she reported it to me, my phone had been washed on the sanitize cycle.   It was dead.


We filed a claim with Square Trade and shipped it to them on Monday.  The following Monday we received an email that it was beyond repair and they were sending a check for $599.  So, the insurance was a big bonus!  It covered the cost of the insurance, the cost of the phone and the $75 deductible for the repair assessment.  Yes, it took a week to get the results, but we didn’t lose money along with the phone.  I ordered my new phone from Republic on Monday and today it came in the mail!  Two days later, fully loaded with my contacts, photos and text messages I have a phone.  No annoying iTunes, no limited cloud storage, no connecting with a computer.  I have a working phone and it took no brain power on my behalf to make it work.  Yay!

I’m not completely knocking Apple here.  I love my iPads and we use them daily for school, work and recreation; but as far as phones go and backup for said phone, the Moto X is hard to beat and Republic Wireless rocks the price.  Now, time to go set up a Square Trade warranty on this bad boy, just in case I make another goof-ball move.

You’re welcome.

I just went to purchase a warranty from Square Trade and they sent me a coupon to share with you! Coupon code: FRIENDSHARE. For a two-year warranty at $69. After you purchase the warranty, be sure to go into your account and enter the serial number and submit your receipt to complete the warranty contract.

And click this link for Republic Wireless. If you sign up, we each get $20!

Essential Oils Update

I promised that I would update you on Essential Oils once I got my feet wet, so here it is.  I am having so much fun!  They are my new favorite go to item for treating minor symptoms.  Of course, I must make the disclaimer that I am not a doctor or health care provider and essential oils are not regulated by the FDA.  I am just a mom with lots of health issues and am looking for alternatives to treat symptoms without adding more toxins to my already-burdened body.  I am definitely not anti-medicine either.  Like I stated in a previous post, I just prefer to start with finding natural remedies to treat symptoms before moving on to prescription medications or costly testing and medical treatment.

Essential Oils are “that aromatic, volatile liquid that is within many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds and that it usually extracted through steam distillation.” (Essential Oils Pocket Reference, Life Science Publishing)   Because of the extraction process, one drop of an essential oil is highly concentrated.  A little goes a long way.   High quality oils can be used directly on the skin, internally or diffused into the air depending on which oil is being used.  I bought the pocket reference and utilize handouts that other distributors have provided in order to navigate this new world that is Essential Oils.  Yesterday my husband found a great app (Healthier Thymes) that also gave a basic reference for finding the right oil for the right need. Just learning which oil to use was my first hurdle and I am gaining more confidence every day.

My first use of an essential oil was about a year ago when Sophia (age 2) got an ear infection.  She hadn’t slept and was really miserable, but I couldn’t pinpoint any symptoms and took her to the chiropractor.  We have a great family chiropractor that I will tell you all about in another post.  Anyway, he adjusted her, checked her ears, nose and throat and listened to her lungs.  She had an ear infection and I was surprised–although the not sleeping for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch should have been my first clue.  Next he handed me a small sample of Lemon essential oil and told me to put it behind her ear (never use them in ears) on the lymph gland.  I was skeptical, but figured I could follow up with our general doc for antibiotics if necessary.  She slept through the night that night and never had an issue again.  I used the oil for about 3 days on her and then put the rest up in the cabinet.

It would be a year later before I would try them again.  In December when I returned from my retreat, Benjamin had an ear infection, fever, runny nose and cough. He was miserable.  I took him in to a medical doc and we did 10 days of antibiotics.  As soon as the antibiotics were done, he was sick again.  This time I took him to the chiropractor.  Double ear infections was the verdict.  I put Lemon oil behind the ears again and he was fine by the next day.  Now I took notice and decided that maybe I should look into them a little more.  I ordered a starter kit of 11 oils and the reference book and I began to dabble.  Here are the successes that I have had:

Lavender has helped calm me at bedtime, relieves the head congestion from allergies and helps my dry eyes.

Lemon behind my ears has helped reduce the inflamed lymph gland behind my right ear that is almost always inflamed and tender.

I use Nutmeg on my adrenals for support, but do not have a way to measure if it is helpful or not.  I just ran out, so I guess I will find out how significant or insignificant it is.

Frankincense relieved the pain of my ruptured ovarian cyst in thirty minutes.  I now use it twice a day to help balance my hormones and support my endocrine system.

My husband was snoring every night.  I put Valor on the back of his neck and he stopped snoring.  On the nights that he forgets to use it, he snores.

My best result is the use of Peace and Calming.  When it came in the mail I was in the midst of a severe allergy attack with constant sneezing, and irritation and itching in my face and head.  I put 5 drops in the diffuser and within minutes my allergies calmed down and I felt significant relief.  I use it to relieve allergies and have avoided the chronic sinus infections that I have been prone to for the last twenty years.  This has been a great substitute for the OTC allergy medications which can build up toxins in your liver.

Several kids had a stomach bug with fever this week.  Nutmeg on the back of the neck reduced the fever within half an hour.  Peppermint mixed with a carrier oil and rubbed on their bellies relieved the nausea.

Again, these were my experiences.  But, I am convinced enough to build up a basic supply in my medicine cabinet and replace the OTC medications that are just as costly, but come with more side effects and contraindications.  Essential oils can also be used in recipes for inexpensive household cleaners, soaps, and shampoo.  It is really getting back to the basics of the gifts God has given us in this beautiful world He created.

St. Hildegard of Bingen was a Benedictine herbalist in the early 12th century.  I happened to watch a movie about her while on retreat.  It is called “Vision” and is currently available on Netflix ™.  Watching this movie made me realize how dependent on herbal medicine humans have been since the beginning of time.  In fact, there are over 200 references to essential oils in the Bible.  We have simply replaced herbal medicine with chemical ones.  In doing so, I wonder if we have only succeeded in creating more expensive medications that end up causing more ailments than they treat.  I won’t argue that modern medicine and drugs are not helpful, however.  Many lives have been saved by the advances.  I am just proposing that we go to chemical medications to treat minor ailments oftentimes before their use is necessary, skipping over the process of home remedies as a first attempt to treat symptoms.  We do so out of fear and ignorance.  At least that is my experience.  Fear kept me from trying home remedies in the beginning and I was ignorant that other options even existed.  Now, I realize that it doesn’t hurt to try the home remedies and I can always go to medications and a higher level of treatment should the need arise. The more I use home remedies, the more confidence and understanding I gain.  I thank God for the freedom to learn, for His wonderful Creation, and for our excellent health care options.

Go Fish

I’m baaaack. Well, actually I got back on Friday night. The early morning and tight schedule of the retreat proved too much for me and I just stayed for one night. I did get something from my mini retreat that I want to share with you: Let God be God. Simple, right? Not for me. I looove to be in control and for everything to be in its proper place. I have made lots of strides in this area, but obviously I still lack trust that God can handle everything. So, I’m working on setting aside those pride issues and He didn’t waste any time giving me ample opportunity for practice.

Sunday morning came and I was still dragging. Benjamin was running a fever, so I opted to stay home from Mass with him and we both slept and rested. Then he got sick in my bed. I had to take the duvet out of its cover and in the process of gathering up the soiled linens, bedding and tending to the sickly babe, I scooped up my phone and washed it along with the bedding. Now I can only access my voicemail, but cannot change the message or answer any texts. I cannot forward my phone number without a working phone and I really haven’t let anyone know about it except my mom and one friend. I do have a warranty on it, so in less than a week I should have my phone back in working condition and I can honestly say that I am not missing it all that much. I think I had the same bug as Benjamin because I didn’t feel all that well myself and my body refused to do much of anything until today. It is a clear signal that I’m fighting off something when walking across the room takes all of my energy.

Today was much better. I still needed a nap, but was able to run some errands and use some of my creative energy. The Little Saints Preschool program has so many fun ideas, so I decided to use one of their ideas to help the kids learn letters and sounds. We made cardstock fish and I wrote the upper and lower case letters on each fish. I attached a paperclip to the “mouth” of the fish and made a fishing pole out of a hanger and magnet. image The kids absolutely loved it. I was so excited, I brought Patrick out of his office to see it and he made the brilliant suggestion to staple the mouth with two staples so the paperclips wouldn’t fall off. The older kids came in and saw it and wanted to play too, so tonight I made a multiplication/division set for them; although I skipped cutting them into fish shapes. image

If you want to make a set for yourself, I do have a few pointers. I used the cardboard part of a pants hanger as the pole. The small magnets from the Magnetix ™ sets fit snuggly inside the cardboard and are a nice strong magnet. I had my son saw off a one-inch long piece and stuffed the magnet inside. I simply taped one end of a string to this piece and the other end to the remaining piece of cardboard. Two staples about ¼ inch apart on each “fish” make a great receptor without adding a lot of bulk.
Incidentally my neighbor’s high school son came by to borrow some index cards to make flash cards for a Biology test. I asked him if he wanted to borrow our stapler and fishing pole too. He actually smiled and hesitated for a minute before deciding he better just get to studying.

Quick Update

This will be my only post this week. I am leaving for a 4-day silent retreat on Thursday and will be unplugged from everyone and everything except my Lord. I can hardly wait! It will be a different experience from my Advent retreat where I was in poor physical health and had to be away from my family for nearly two weeks. For one thing it is only for a few days, but more significantly, my health is steadily improving and is markedly different from during my last retreat.

Lent is nearly over and I cannot help but reflect on how my physical health has coincided with the seasons. It was the beginning of Advent when my adrenals crashed. With the care of the Sisters I sprung back enough to enjoy Christmas with my family. The months of January and February were a holding pattern with lengthy testing and then waiting for the results. I was able to begin my new protocol to balance my hormones as Lent began. As the cold weather and bare trees have begun to warm and show signs of new life, my body has also shown signs of re-energizing. I rejoice in the beauty of nature around me and feel hope spring eternal once again. God is ever faithful and I am humbled by His greatness.

Daffodil planted after the first freeze.

Daffodil planted after the first freeze.

The path to my recovery is not a smooth, obstacle-free path. It is still Lent and I am still learning. Last Wednesday I had the most incredible day and felt the best I have felt in over a year. I wrote this post that day and managed to get through dinner before realizing that I might have driven my car a little too hard. I woke on Thursday morning feeling completely zapped of energy and so emotionally unstable that I literally cried until 1 in the afternoon. Patrick had left for work and I was too weak to care about asking the kids to get me food or my medicine. I tried to get out of bed, only to find that I could not stand without support, so I crawled back into bed and rested, prayed and cried. As the day went on (and I ate and rehydrated) I began to feel a little better. It was another day of humiliation. I terribly dislike for anyone to see me cry, especially my kids or strangers. I wasn’t depressed either. It was just utter exhaustion and frustration. But, Friday I was better; although I did sleep until noon. And Saturday and Sunday I fared pretty well considering that my husband was camping with the older boys and my teen was gone on retreat. Monday was another great day, but I drove the car a little too hard again. I went all day and ran several errands and then headed to Bible Study at 7 pm! It was worth it, but I have been sluggish today. So, I guess the lesson for me is to learn my new limitations. It is encouraging to see that I am bouncing back much more quickly than even a few weeks ago.

I hope I haven’t bored you with all the details. I like to write positive posts, but I also want to be honest and real. My life is full of blessings and joy, but I am far from perfect. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. I pray God is blessing you and pouring out the grace in your lives as He is doing for me. I will hold you all in prayer during my retreat and I’ll follow up next week to share any insights I may have gained.