Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reflections on the two year anniversary of my grandma's death

Two Years to the Day

It has been two years today
She was eighty something
and that morning
my grandma passed away
I didn't know she was sick
until 24 hours earlier
I was seven hours away from her
I couldn't go
I didn't call
I had spent the day before
on a field trip out at a ranch
with my children,
meeting new people,
and trying to be enthusiastic about
the worms my kids were digging up,
and pretending that life was okay
for, surely, strangers didn't want to know
Because even my friends had no words
Whenever I drove, I cried
Yeah, she was eighty something
But to me she was someone
who had helped to shape my heart
from the beginning of my time on this earth
and suddenly heaven felt very far away, unfair
I sang, "I will rise out of these ashes"
along with Shawn McDonald's steady voice
and I tried to believe it
My grandpa died a handful of days later
and I thought, "why God?"
The months kept changing anyway,
My daughter lost a tooth,
My son learned how to dress himself,
We went camping,
Then school started
and swimming lessons
and life kept on
as it does.
I read about grief
and I realized I wasn't actually
turning into a crazy person
who cried every time I drove,
and who sometimes just randomly cried
when people were talking to me,
but I was a person who had
lost an important part of myself
and I wouldn't be the same
and it was okay
even though it wasn't okay.
I don't believe that time heals all wounds
My wounds will be there
Sometimes when we sing Blessed Assurance
or when a loud manly voice in church
cries out "Hallelujah"
I think of my grandparents
and the ache of missing them, the sting of tears
is ever so real!
But Shawn McDonald's words have become true
when I sing, "because He who is in me
is greater than I will ever be
and I will rise."
Anger turned to Acceptance,
sometime between one year
and two years later,
like the long process of the seasons,
as the leaves turned orange
on the trees
and then fell away
and the snow filled the ground,
and then the green grass
returned again
until the cool summer
evening breeze
whispered peace to my heart again

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fall Fun! September-October 2016

It has been a busy time of year for us.  We were eager to get back into routine this fall but it seems we have been going nonstop ever since.  My kids are growing and changing a lot!  I'm trying to take advantage of my days with them, while also maintaining my sanity.  It can be a struggle to find a good balance of our time!  Our summer was packed with travel, and it seems as soon as we hit September we started being busy in a different way.  There are so many things going on!

Chad got the new play structure set up in our yard and the kids have been so excited to play on it!  I'm a big supporter of giving them a full childhood, so playtime often comes before school.  However, Joelle's assessment scores show that she is right on track- so no worries there at all.  Both kids are doing great, and learning plenty on their own timetables.

We had some new beginnings and some big accomplishments this fall.  Joelle started back up in American Heritage Girls, which keeps us both very busy!  She also finished her level in the All About Reading curriculum we have been going through, and we went out together to celebrate.  She is doing very well in reading and enjoying it.   

Jaren qualified for speech preschool, which is free to us through the school district.  He goes every Friday afternoon, and he rides the bus there and back.  He has been very excited about the fact that he gets to ride the bus. Joelle has not been super pleased by that, as she is quite jealous.  However, Friday afternoons have been turning into a wonderful time for Joelle and I to focus on her school work.  At first she was not super happy about it, but she is realizing that the one on one time is a really great thing.  Jaren also seems to be really enjoying his afternoon at school.  I'm very impressed by the school.  His class has five kids, one teacher, and one aid.  He seems to be getting plenty of attention there and help with his speech.  We have already noticed some improvement after one month.

My sister Natalie has moved back here from Idaho.  It is nice to see her more often and get the opportunity to spend time together sometimes.  The kids really enjoy spending time with her too.

We have been enjoying many projects lately.  I received a beautiful curriculum free from a fellow homeschoolers that is all about learning through play.  It is perfect for my style.  We are planning to use it a lot this year.  Today we made a thankfulness tree from one of the ideas in the book.  The kids had a lot of fun, and it will make a great growing display as well as learning opportunity on our refrigerator for the month of November. 

We are back into pretty full weeks again- ballet, American Heritage girls, Community Bible study, Life group, piano lessons, Women's book group, sewing night, Awana.  We are busy four nights a week, but I can't think of anything to drop because it is all great.  Chad and I have made Thursdays, Awana night, our regular date night.  It has been wonderful to have a set night to get away while both kids are occupied!

The kids also got to enjoy a special sleepover with their cousins a few weeks ago. We did homemade pizza and movie night.  It was a big highlight for them.

In my efforts to have a more peaceful home, I am working on getting rid of clutter.  The kids and I have redone their rooms when it comes to toys.  We took their toy shelves out and put all their toys in labeled bins in their closets.  Now they can ask for one or two bins at a time.  The toy chaos is gone, and we are all happier!

Life is busy but great!  Feeling blessed all around!  Here are some sweet pictures to leave you with.  Watch for another blog post soon with details about what we are studying this year for school.  I hope fall is finding you happy and blessed as well!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

On death, and grief, and all that crazy stuff!

It has been one year since my grandma suddenly died, and then my grandpa followed her that same week.  I've had many thoughts, struggles, emotions.  I feel my heart has been on my sleeve more than ever this past year.  I don't share much.  I just process it, mainly late at night when no one is around.  There's very little that can be said to make the process easier, on anyone in any situation of loss.  But, I do still write poetry and sometimes it helps me.  So, I thought maybe I would share a raw poem that I have been working on. 

It happened in June


I remember the way it begins,

Even the first time,

six years ago,

she was kicking my organs,

spinning around in there,

as if tossed by the ocean waves,

keeping me awake at night with her hiccups


And when the day came, twelve days overdue,

it was hot, and I was tired-

as I felt when a wave took me by surprise

and I ran to get away from it

Ready to collapse, as if I might die-

couldn’t believe it was taking so long-

the hours that felt like days

because it was like some kind of strange reality

Asking “What is going on?”

“Can you see her head?”


Then a quick decision, and going into surgery

The tugging of the surgeons on my body

and not really caring at all

As if the ocean had taken over anyway

and it didn’t matter, because I was safe,

and she was safe,

For so soon I would get to see her!

Then finally seeing her, and holding her,

The tears pouring out of our eyes

The moment that she was in my arms,

feeling that everything was great in the world

and feeling like I had come through a storm

but now I was sitting on the deck of the ship,

enjoying the richest sunset I had ever seen-

so filled up by the sight of it, I had no words-

just endless love, like the endless ocean


I had never seen the end-

At least- not that I can remember-

But when the end came for Grandma

it was like a summer hurricane

I never saw approaching

until suddenly it was ripping through me-

knocking me off my feet in one instant

Large raindrops flooding the yard,

pelting against the window panes

Loud and shocking thunder


After traveling hours for Grandma’s funeral,

to a big dinner and a rare family reunion,

but no relief from my ocean of tears,

my aunt told us all

Grandpa was not doing well





So we went to the house

where he lived  with others

who also were dying

Walked right past Grandma’s room,

still full of her chair, her bed, her dresser

with her earrings and necklaces on it,

her nightstand with her evening reading

right there on top,

as if she was still alive


Then down the hall,

to see Grandpa there in his room, lying in the bed

breathing in and out, heavily, with his eyes closed

and his mouth wide open, his lips dry and parched


My aunts and uncles were saying to sit by him

and that he could hear us

I moved by his side as if I was a vessel on autopilot

Waiting for someone to switch my gears-

Someone to direct me somewhere else where

the waters were clearer, less dangerous


Struggling to hold back my ocean of tears

I sat beside him on the bed, rubbed his head

Told him that I loved him

It was like being on the shore on a foggy afternoon,

longing to see the beauty and the depth of

the ocean,

knowing it is right there,

but fighting to find it,

desperate to get back to it


When my sorrow welled up in me

like an ocean wave

that must go to shore,

no matter who is in the path,

I went to the backyard

where my children and nephews played,


I held my nephew, felt his soft cheeks against mine,

engaged in some baby laughs,

My daughter showed me some pretty rocks she found

and I was able to smile, to remember that endless love

like the endless ocean

even in the midst of loss


Early the next morning, we got the call

that Grandpa had gone on to be with Grandma

We all knew it was coming

But it was still like the tide coming in

when you aren’t done collecting your shells

and you need more time,

and you wish it could have been different


Even as we went to the funeral home

and I looked at Grandma’s face

in her casket-

even then I was reminding myself over and over

that she was no longer alive-

Even as I saw her there in front of me- no longer alive

Even as we sat at the graveside service

and people spoke nice words about life with my grandparents

which I can’t even remember

because it was like some kind of strange reality

It was like an ocean wave

that sneaks up on me and pulls me under before I even know

what is going on

and all I can do is ask “What is going on?”

I didn’t even realize I was in the ocean to begin with


I know they are happy, I know they are whole,

I know they are exactly where they want to be

With our Savior in heaven

My heart feels like a raging hurricane ripped through it even so


Then there is my sweet girl-

As we were driving home after the funeral weekend,

she asked for a stack of papers so she could draw

So I handed her a stack of lined paper torn from my notebook

and she was happily drawing for an hour


We stopped for a break and she showed us her homemade book-

featuring our weekend:

the layout of the motorhome we stayed in,

all of us sitting at the campground eating popcorn,

her and her cousin going down a slide at the splash park,

and her great grandma in her pink casket, with roses on the side


As she proudly talked about her drawings

it was like God whispering to my shattered heart,

“here is an anchor, in the midst of a wretched storm,”


And there I was, sitting on the deck of the ship again,

knowing I could never go overboard

Because there she was,

pulling me in with her eyes,

So filled up by the sight of them, I had no words-

Just endless love like the endless ocean



Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review: Sonlight P 4/5- Exploring God's World

I've had my eye on Sonlight curriculum for a couple of years.  Every year when the catalog comes in the mail, I love just leafing through it and looking at all the wonderful children's literature.  I decided we would try it out this year. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

All About Reading Level 1 Review

This year I finally tried this All About Reading program that I have had my eye on for awhile.  It is such an investment to get all the separate components, but a friend loaned me some of it and we realized how much we liked it- so I have been slowly adding to my collection.  Joelle has really taken off in reading ever since we started this program.  She is blending sounds with no problems now, retaining her sight words, and trying to read words everywhere we go!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Preschool for Jaren- All Aboard the Animal Train program from My Father's World

We have been enjoying a new preschool program this year.  Though Jaren does pretty good just tagging along with Joelle, I still decided it would be fun to do a preschool program with him.  I was curious about the All Aboard the Animal Train program from My Father's World, though reviews were very hard to find!  It is a new program that just came out last spring.  I was able to find a set on a used curriculum site, so I went ahead and got it.  I have appreciated having something organized to do with Jaren.  He is always asking to do "school" like his sister.  So, he appreciates having his own school stuff too.

In the manual, the units are divided into three weeks each- focusing on an animal, a color, a shape, a certain character trait, and a Bible verse.  Each week has a grid showing five days of activities.  Typical activities for a week may include going on a color hunt, making a sandwich out of a certain cookie cutter shape to go with the animal of the week, coloring or painting a picture based on the color of the week, playing certain games with blocks and manipulatives.

We recently finished the Bear unit, which was on the trait of Obedience.  We practiced the verse, and put it on a little bear figure, and taped it up on Jaren's wall.  He also enjoyed coloring the unit poster, putting a black bear on it, going on a color hunt in his room for black items, and decorating a bear sheet with black markers and crayons. 

This set also comes with Student Sheets, which is a large stack of cardstock quality pages that have full color images to cut out and play games with, or pages with figures on them to paint and color, etc.  I really like the student sheets.  I appreciate a program that takes care of all these details and doesn't leave me to the job of printing something out on my color printer, after I've already paid for a full set.  This set is indeed a complete program! 

In the manual, you are encouraged to get a notebook and label it as your child's story time book, and then put all of the weekly poems in it.  Each week there is an action poem about the animal of the week.  Jaren has loved these poems so far, and Joelle usually joins in too.

We also did reading that goes along with theme of the week.  We read several stories about bears.  I appreciate the books that came with this program.  I know Jaren feels it is special that he has his own school books, as his sister has always had her own too.  The books are age appropriate, and Jaren is proud of them.  So, its easy to transition into story time for this program. 

There is also a music cd included in the set which we listened to.  There are baking opportunities every week, but we have not used any yet.  This is something that I think both kids would enjoy though, if I have a week that I plan ahead far enough to get the stuff I need from the grocery store.

With this program, you are also encouraged to use busy boxes as a part of the day.  I already have ten of those set up for Jaren, so it is another easy thing to incorporate.  Joelle has also been helping to teach Jaren in this program.  Every week there are five cut outs of the animal of the week.  The object of the game is for the child to hide them, and then for someone else to find them.  Joelle and Jaren do pretty well taking turns at this game.  Another game is a weekly shape and color game, where someone calls out a shape or color (using the cutouts from the student sheets) and the child is supposed to pick up the correct one.  They have been doing pretty well at playing this game too, and Jaren has been allowing Joelle to "teach" him.   

Overall, it has been fun to have something to go through with Jaren.  I'm not as good at just piecing it together anymore, now that more of my focus is on my first grader most of the time.  We don't do this program every day, and we often buzz through a week's worth in a couple of days.  Its a very laid back, Charlotte Mason style, but it has been perfect for us!

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