Thursday, January 29, 2015

Returning to Our Normal

I wish I had pictures of the beautiful ski day that my family had yesterday, but I don't. I was just. too. busy. flying down hills and taking in the sunshine to bother pulling out my phone. I must be better about this in the future. But that happened, and it felt right and wonderful to be doing something crazy together again.

It is now the fourth week in January. We chose to take lessons very easy last semester after my mother's passing to give me the mental space to grieve, which was one of the best decisions I've ever made. The kids kept up with some math, science and history reading, but we did nothing that would require planning on my part or lots of mom-intensive teaching. By January 1, we were all ready to get back to more rigor and a more normal lesson schedule. We are now four weeks in and things are going quite well.

When grief strikes no one can prepare you for it, warn you about it, or explain to you what it might be like. It is a vast, unknown wilderness for everyone who experiences it. On the other side of this are many who have already passed through, and I have found these special people to be dear companions and friends in this season, as they are the only ones who can give sound advice about how to traverse this mysterious place. I am thankful for everyone who gave loving and knowing guidance and support, and am so thankful that I listened to them along the way.

There is not a day that passes that I do not consider my mother--her voice, the memories of her, who she was as a mom and a friend is with me more constantly and more clearly than ever, and I miss her horribly. There are still tears, and often. Even so, the time has come to learn to live again without the shadow of Alzheimer's that lingered for so long.

I will pull out the camera, dust off my writing hat, and return to the things that I love so much. At the very least I want to return to weekly reports of schooling efforts, and continue writing thoughts and contemplations as time allows.

Meanwhile, here are some things that have been happening here in the last month!

 PJ school returned to normal
Have enjoyed teaching my little artist...

Been cooking quite a bit, and introducing new veggies to the family, with good results.
Went with good friends to see a theater version of C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce--a perfect evening out, and a fantastic production
Watched my beloved Green Bay Packers win against the Cowboys in the playoffs with my big bro!

Made peace with my Cowboys-loving neighbor after the game.

Have enjoyed doing lessons with Molly's BFF once a week.
Here they are with their finished spider webs, their final project of the science unit on arachnids.
January is almost passed and February is full. Check back for updates--the one who said she would never homeschool is suddenly faced with decisions about homeschooling through high school--it will be a wild ride, I have no doubt!

Friday, November 14, 2014


A friend of mine from the gym posted a pancake recipe yesterday. She's all about strong, all about eating right and not messing up her training, so I was guessing that if she posted a recipe for a pancake it couldn't bad for you. It consisted of two eggs, a cup of oats, a banana and some vanilla.

I called my son and said, "I'm going to make you a guinea pig."
"Why? I'd rather have it as a pet than breakfast," was his smart reply.
"I mean, you're the guinea pig. I'm making you a pancake."
"Oh! Cool!"

I tried it. It worked, sorta. Didn't overwhelm us with goodness, but meh...But I really. Wanted. Pancakes. Now...since she posted that and I was post-workout and hungry.

I decided that round one of her pancake "recipe" didn't quite cut it, so I tweaked it, and round two was perfect. Pancake perfection. I am sharing it with you. I'm nice that way.

I give you "Guinea Pig 2.0" (Gluten Free pancakes)

In a powerful blender (I used a Vita Mix, but any conventional blender on liquefy will probably do) add the following ingredients:

4 eggs
1 banana
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coconut milk, almond milk or milk
a few drops of liquid stevia or a little honey
1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda

Blend until liquid
Pour into a hot well-seasoned cast iron skillet or griddle, wait for bubbles to pop, etc...Makes 10-12 pancakes, depending on how big you make them.

These pancakes are thicker and fluffier than crepes but not super thick and dense like some other GF pancakes that I have tried. They are a perfect texture and lightly sweet. My whole family loves them. I'd love to know how they work out for you, so, leave a comment!

* I have since doubled this recipe a couple of times, with good success.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Week is It Now?

Truth is, I don't care a bit. 

The last two weeks we have been slowly feeling our way back into school. I decided to keep the kids on track with their math, science reading and history reading. We are continuing with our Wednesday co-op for my younger daughter and her friend. It's just the two of them so it's very low-key and a great thing for her to look forward to each week.

The things that require a whole lot of "Mom" we are putting on hold until I am able to juggle it all. Right now, I am truly appreciating the quiet and time alone or with my husband and kids.

The school work is getting done--no one feels under a tremendous amount of pressure and the kids seem to really be enjoying what they are learning. They are also enjoying my willingness to be with them, to really do things with them like watch a movie, lie and snuggle, sit and color for long stretches of time...I too am enjoying these things. They are soothing and healing.

For nearly two weeks after my mom's memorial service I found myself in a kind of fog or perhaps it was more like a bubble--as though the world was going on and I couldn't participate, but I could watch, and indeed there was part of me that really wanted to be around people and activity, but I didn't want to participate. Thankfully, for the most part, my close friends seemed to understand this.

C. S. Lewis described it like this in A Grief Observed:
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. 
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I wan the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.
Suddenly, it was as though someone turned off a faucet and the inexplicable weeping stopped and I began moving through the days, but still felt a bit numb. Then one day the kids were having their music lessons and I heard them. It's not that I couldn't before, but I really heard each song, each note, the voice of the teacher instructing them, and their voices and notes in response. It was like coming out of a long sleep or a strange illness...and I felt alive again. Since then every fall color pierces my heart, every song, my soul, small activities take on much greater meaning, and the mundane feels perfectly fine with me. It is all coming back to me...what it means to really be alive. To feel again without a constant haze of worry and sadness hanging over me. I didn't realize just how heavy it has been or for how long it has been part of me, but I'm guessing it started about 5 years ago when Mom really started to show signs of Alzheimer's.

I am continually receiving news that Mom's affairs are being settled, accounts being dissolved and final accountings being made. It all seems so final. So strange. That soon there will really be nothing left to show that this woman ever lived, only proving that all of life is truly just a breath.

Day by day we will live and love and carry on, hopefully with renewed purpose and intention, digging deep to plant seeds that grow fruit that will produce far beyond our own usefulness and well into the next generations...It's what she would have wanted...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breaking the Silence

I have been in a writer's slump for quite a while, but it has been due to a much greater preoccupation with things that were more important than blog-keeping. It was this thing that sucked dry my well of thoughts and reasons to write. My mother was reaching the last stages of her battle with Alzheimer's and I had her on my mind. All the time. The way I felt about it all was to retreat into myself--I hated talking about the A-word, or the struggles my mom was having near the end. This was her dignity, and I felt deeply private about it all. I still do.

On Tuesday, October 7, my dear mom went home. My sister, brother and I were with her constantly for her last two days. My brother was with her when she took her last breath. 

The remainder of the week we made preparations for her memorial service and fielded all the phone calls. My husband mercifully took the week off to be with me. Friends blessed the kids with invitations to play, tended to my emotional needs and have taken time out of their schedules to cook, shop and or just be with me if I want.

It has not been quite two weeks since her death, but I still feel as though I am in a fog...a thick cloud bank that is exhausting to navigate. The kids need to get back to school work, but I could not feel less motivated. I suppose tomorrow we will attempt to return to some sense of routine. I will get back to writing sooner or later, I suppose. I find it more comforting at the moment to write on real paper with a real pen. The thoughts that are deepest and most private belong there. This is where I belong right now.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Week 4: My Favorite Season

The weather this week was a bit dreary--clouds and rain, drizzle and a not-cold-not-warm dampness that I don't love. On the back side of it however, we are seeing crisp, cool October weather and big, lovely blue skies that make October my favorite month of the year.

We decided to celebrate the arrival of fall with a field trip to the National Zoo. We had a lovely time, and both of the kiddos had a friend with whom to enjoy the day.

Wherever we went the animals were very active. We especially enjoyed seeing the Pandas in the indoor enclosure, as it was not crowded at all and we could have a really good look. We even saw the baby, but I  couldn't get a good picture because she was curled up in the corner on a ledge sleeping and we couldn't see her sweet wittle facie. We could only see a mound of black and white fur that kept shifting positions into a tighter little ball as she went about the serious business of napping. Mom on the other hand, ate bamboo, walked around, stood at the door and looked out the window "asking" to go out," pooed a giant-sized panda-poo, and did all the things you would expect from a panda. Another highlight was seeing the lions--6 cubs pouncing and tumbling, scratching on trees and being adorable. The Dad lion was just hanging out in his area, but all of a sudden he got up, stretched and then started roaring. It was very unnerving and resonated so deeply, I felt like it was in my belly. I won't deny that I considered the possibility of the poor guy having a hairball...

Here is a video of what we heard, though this is not the lion at our zoo.

Otherwise it was a pretty normal school week. Matt finished his first paper, and I was very pleased with the result. Molly continues to work steadily and build confidence in every subject. She is expressing interest in writing beyond Writing With Ease and learning how to write paragraphs. I will certainly oblige her!

This week we will take another field trip to a Kennedy Center show and the National Cathedral.

On, on! And let the October skies prevail over clouds and drizzle!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 2: Short and Sweet

Week two is in the bag. A successful week, on the whole.

Timeline work for TOG
We started out the week with our regular routine. I am particularly pleased how TOG is going for Matt. He is doing excellent work on his timeline and map study, and is working hard to get the reading done in a timely manner. He also attended the two-day life and physical science intensive held by Landry Academy. We had to drive nearly an hour to get him there both days, but it was worth it. He seemed to enjoy the scope and depth of the labs, learned the correct way to write a lab report and enjoyed the other students who were participating.

On Saturday morning he awoke with a terrible cold.

Molly worked diligently on the three days that her brother was home, but once he was out of the house and attending the science intensive, well...I'm not going to pretend that we didn't slack off a bit. We did math. On Friday we went and exercised with friends. Loads of fun. Friday evening she went with us to pick up her brother in the quaint little town where his class was being held. We arrived to discover a homecoming parade underway and a festive atmosphere. We ate dinner in an Irish Pub called "Molly's" and enjoyed some fun family time.