A New Phase of Life

18 04 2011

I suppose I must consider it growth that I started a blog and did not allow myself to feel burdened by obligation to post regularly.  Although these things are always self-imposed, it is strangely difficult to release myself from them once I start something.  Hobbies become chores, because I apply some sort of weird notion of responsibility toward them rendering them less enjoyable.  I don’t wish to delve into why I have developed in such a way – I just want to change.

And so I am.  Gradually, and not in all areas, but I am beginning to enjoy things just for the enjoyment of them, without attaching strings.  Progress.  I think it all started when I took on more than I could juggle, mentally, and balls began to drop.  When the initial fear and disappointment dissipated, I felt tremendous relief, and then I began to simply throw them.  It was hard, in moments of calm, as guilt about letting someone down tried to creep in, but the truth is that I was so overwhelmed that for the first time, the need to simplify my life was greater than any reasoning that supported continued juggling.  But what to put on the now nearly empty proverbial plate?  That was the question – and it remains not fully answered.

Homeschooling one child was the only thing I was still doing.  And homeschooling a middle-school aged child is not exactly time-absorbing.  She worked independently for the most part, which is the goal by that age.  I was able to keep the house clean and the laundry done, read for pleasure, and piddle with other interests.  And I began to feel restless.  I thought volunteer interests could be the answer, but when my daughter became less interested in Girl Scouts than I, we had a problem.  Another problem was that what I really wanted was to be a girl scout myself, not do all the planning and paperwork.  I taught a small group at children’s church – but that was not the answer, either.  Studying the lesson took longer than the short time I got with the kids – and my nature just put me in the position to take other leaders’ kids into my fold whenever one didn’t show up…which, unfortunately was often.  It’s not that I minded the extra kids, but the idea of these small groups was to foster close relationships -which was near impossible when the group so often changed.

Extra time on my hands allowed me to take better care of myself physically, spiritually and mentally.  It was a good time, really, beneath the surface stress of not knowing what I would commit myself to.  I lost weight, I enjoyed the pleasure of cooking healthy, consistent meals for my family, I had time to read (the only hobby I have ever not turned into a chore).  I got interested in what it means to be healthy – no doubt because I felt better physically than I had in years.  This found me trying to figure out what exactly I needed to do to control my blood pressure without the meds that make me tired.  And when my potassium plummeted a few times, what other than a potassium supplement could be done.  And so nutrition naturally became a real interest.

What did I do with the revelation that I was really interested in something beyond the interest that others around me had?  I enrolled in school full-time to become a Registered Dietician.  I had found my post-mommy calling.  <smiling at myself and shaking head>   Once again, I made an interest into work.  Will I ever learn?





Starting up the Presses…Again

12 02 2010

I just read my last post, and it doesn’t seem possible that it was from this fall.  It seems like that was ages ago so much has happened.  It is certainly time to get back into the habit of writing – I have missed it.  I’ll attempt to fill in the almost six-month gap that I have managed to create.

We still have jelly, and frozen apples.  They are being pulled from the pantry and freezer, respectively, as we need them, but there is still enough to last a while.  The jelly is just as yummy and the apples are being used most often in Apple Cake.  (Although I’ll probably be making Amish Friendship Bread for a while in place of the cake, until we get tired of that.)

School with my daughter has become much, much easier.  I think she must have been going through a phase…or maybe it was me.  But she doesn’t hesitate to come to me when she has finished her independent work or when she needs me.  She has matured a lot in other ways, as well, and has taken to doing some of what needs to be done without being asked (like putting the clothes in the dryer if she is closer when it buzzes), and has a better attitude in general.

The biggest change around here is that I am going to school myself full-time now.  It’s a long story, so you may want to grab a snack 😉  I didn’t finish college the first time around, and I didn’t think I’d ever go back.  For almost 20 years, I had not thought of one thing that I was interested enough to want to get a degree in and work at every day.  Since my oldest started middle school (he’s in 10th grade now), I’ve been praying from time to time that God would give me direction, because for the first time, I fully realized and accepted that I would not be homeschooling forever, and would not feel fulfilled staying home after that phase of my life ended.  At first, I thought that I would volunteer full-time, either in one place, or several places, on different days.  This plan seemed like it may be right for the next year or so, as I came upon many places that I would like to invest in. 

It was sometime during October that I feel like God revealed to me his plan for me.  He made me realize that I have always been interested in food and health, and how food affects health and how food can make health issues worse, cause them, or help manage them.  I have always taken a multi-vitamin and other supplements, given them to my children, modified recipes to make them healthier, and just generally been interested in diet.  He revealed to me through my own high blood pressure and family members’ health issues that peoples lives can really be affected by the way they eat.  So I am working toward a degree in Dietetics!   It can’t be my plan, because I would never have thought of it myself, even though in retrospect, I remember my sister jokingly saying once, “You should be a Dietician.” when I was casually suggesting to my mom that she could make a recipe much healthier with a few changes.  I would also have never had the confidence to enroll in college again.  My first go at that was such a nightmare.  I was young.  There just seemed to be so much pressure to declare a major – and nothing interested me that much!  I was trying desperately to take the advice of my advisor, and just take “basic” classes until I figured out what I was interested in, but I got a “C” on an English II paper, and it just simply sunk me like an anvil in a pool.  I had never received a “C” in writing!  And I couldn’t handle it.  I dropped out of every class – unofficially, which means my GPA is laughable. 

After that, feeling pressured to do something, I went to cosmetology school.  I liked playing around with it, with friends and family, but I knew pretty early on that I was not going to do it for long.  I stuck with it about 2/3 the way through, and got put on bedrest early in pregnancy and had to quit.  Frankly, it was a relief, because it gave me an excuse to quit that I didn’t have to feel guilty about.  My biggest problem was that I was trying to please others instead of following my path, and I didn’t have the relationship with God then that I have now, so I didn’t know how He could direct me if I’d just ask.

Homeschooling was His plan, too – I had never heard of it when He placed it in my path as an option, and compelled me to do it.  I have been oh so content following His lead since then, because He was very, very spot on!  I have never doubted for a moment that I was supposed to home- school.

I feel that way about this now, too.  It just amazes me that He didn’t reveal it to me until it was time…I’d have messed that up somehow, I’m sure, probably by either trying to take a few classes to “get started” before His timing came, or by chickening out totally and not going through with it.  As soon as I was sure that I was hearing God right, I sent for my old transcript (15 hours I won’t have to do over) and applied for admission.  When I got my transcript in the mail and my acceptance letter, I immediately made an appointment with an advisor, applied for a student loan and enrolled full-time.

The week before classes started, I felt a bit panicky about having a full class load and wondered if that was a mistake that I’d regret.  Of course, I alternately prayed and cried and believed.  But 5 weeks in, it is going very well.  I’m keeping up, doing well, and enjoying it very much.  Some days I still feel a little overwhelmed, but my super-hero family kicks in and does some of the non-school stuff that’s contributing to my insanity and all comes back to a balance 😉

It’s about time to pick up my daughter, and that’s about as thorough an update as I can manage tonight.





Life and Jelly

9 09 2009

Why is it that there can be so much going on in my head, but when I place my fingers on the keyboard they sit motionless while I struggle?  I suppose it’s just hard to know where to start sometimes…

“What have I been up to?” you ask.  Ok, so you haven’t ask, but for posterity’s sake, let’s pretend.  I need someone to ask today, and since there’s no one around, I shall indulge myself in imaginings 🙂

I’ve been up to lots of things.  I’ve been trying to be a full-time teacher to my sixth-grade daughter, for one.  I have found it easy, as a home educator, to leave my children on auto-pilot for a few hours each day, while I keep other responsibilities under control, but I’ve discovered that this approach doesn’t work quite so well with this child as it did with the first.  Siblings can be so different!  That’s another conversation entirely, and I’ll stay on the current one.  Staying near my daughter as she works, being available to answer questions (she won’t search the house for me like her brother did), asking about her progress regularly (to inhibit daydreaming – or whatever it is her mind turns to), and moving her from one task to another (to eliminate the time wasted when she fails to come to me when she has completed what I have given her) is sooooooo difficult some days!  In case you haven’t concluded so yet, today was one of those days.  By the time we finished the school day, it was 4:50, and I truly thought I would implode before dinner was cooked.  Some momma-chosen tunes and self-control, along with the cooking assistance and companionship offered by my love helped put out the fuse!

I’ve really slowed down in the hobby area, simply because of the lack of time.  I’ve set up and made only a handful of postcard trades since school began a month ago, and letterboxing was completely ignored  through the entire summer (although I did think about it many times).  Hiking is not happening, either, but I have probably spent more time dreaming/planning about where and when I can hike than any other single pleasurable think I have been able to allow my brain to escape to these last few weeks.

My mom and niece came for a visit over the weekend, and it so happens that I had been planning to make apple jelly on Labor Day for two weeks.  My daughter expressed a desire to know how jelly was made, and see the process, so the homeschooler in me delighted at the chance to indulge her curiosity and delight in her eagerness to learn something new, and I forged ahead with it!  Although my mom had made jelly many times when I was growing up, I don’t remember ever helping past the point of helping gather the fruit,  so I had no experience making jelly from fruit.  In college, I made jelly from canned fruit juice once, but that was the extent of my experience with jelly-making.  So, I became excited easily about the prospect of going through the entire process using fresh apples from a local orchard.  That my mom just happened to be here to see the process along and share in the fun, was just perfect.  The jelly turned out great, it is delicious, and though not a requirement, it is  absolutely gorgeous!   But out of the whole experience, I was most excited to learn that you don’t have to have whole apples to make apple jelly.  It may not be a surprise to you, but I was elated to learn that all you need to make apple jelly are the apple scraps!!  The cores and peelings alone result in wonderfully tasting, beautifully colored jelly!  The first batch we made was made from whole apples,  We left on the peels, but tossed the cores and the result was a very flavorful, light peachy-pink jelly, perfect in sweetness.  When I looked at the huge bowl of apples remaining and began to discuss making another batch with my mom, she suggested that I freeze or dry some of the apples for other uses, since there were really enough apples left for two more batches.  It was during this discussion that she revealed that all we needed were the scraps from the apples we  would freeze or dry to make another batch of jelly.  I couldn’t believe it at first, and then it sunk in as we discussed the ‘old way’ and how it would never have allowed for the ‘waste’ of good fruit just for jelly.  True.  And I couldn’t wait to try it.  I am still ecstatic with the result 🙂  And I still think it’s so cool that you can make lovely, sweet, scrumptious jelly from the parts I usually throw away!!!  And to make my new knowledge even more amazing, the ‘scrap’ jelly is much deeper in color – never again will I think of peelings and cores as garbage!

Check out the difference in the color…(the taste is pretty much the same, I think, but my tastes of each weren’t within moments of one another, so there could be a slight difference).

Apple Jelly  Apple Jelly

This jelly still needs a name.  I just haven’t been able to come up with something creative enough – it’s one of those “I’ll know it when I hear it” sort of things…suggestions are very welcome!!

In case it helps, the apples used were Empire, Jonathon, and Cortland.  “Think, think, think.” says Pooh.  😉

We also canned two whole pints (hee-hee) of the jalapenos growing so well in the garden.  I promised you pictures when it was all in full green…sorry about that; I never took photos and now it’s in that not-so-lovely stage, where the lettuce is gone, the tomatoes and bell peppers, some scallions and herbs are still green and producing, but mostly just the jalapenos are thriving!!  Maybe I’ll get pictures during it’s peak next year. 

I’m also getting ready to start back volunteering in the children’s ministry at church.  Not writing for them as I had hoped, but God has other plans for my writing 🙂  I’ll be teaching Kindergarten boys – such cute little bottles of energy and curiosity, and I am very excited about it and implementing the changes that have been made in the progression of the hour we have them.  I am working on a postcard-sized newsletter to send home weekly to update the parents on what their boys are learning and encouraging them to help reinforce it at home.  I need a few creative group activities to use with them in a whole-family group setting, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, they are welcome!

Even though the preceding barely touches the surface in attempt to tell you what I’ve been up to, I’ve sat still long enough and have to move on to something else.





Inconsistent

29 06 2008

Yeah, I’m inconsistent.  I’ve said that before, but it is quite true.  I’m not aplogizing for it….I don’t mind it most of the time 🙂

I’ve just been so busy with life that I haven’t had the time or mental energy to keep this up.  It’s fun.  It’s therapeutic, but it requires consistency, which I only seem to have when someone is counting on me for something 🙂

Well, I’ve been on a beach vacation, been doing some letterboxing, have been trying to get some “extras” done as far as housecleaning is concerned, trying to reconcile/rearrange my duties with my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, and trying to prepare to send my oldest to public high school.  Now don’t make assumptions…you know what that does!  I have been willing to educate him all along for as long as God directed, and although high school at home requires more of me, I was prepared to do it.  Each year, I pray for direction, and ask my children and hubby to pray about it as well.  I believe that God not only directs us by telling us what to do in our spirit, but also makes His desires our own. 

My son has expressed a desire to go to school twice before, but each time, returned to tell me that after prayer, he felt like God was telling him to stay home.  This time, however, he feels that it is time to go, and after my own prayers about it, I agree.  I will miss him, every single day, but we are both excited (and yes, a bit nervous, too) about the upcoming year.  We are getting the paperwork in order, and I have been surprised and a bit curious about his insistence on taking honors classes.  Not that I don’t think he can handle it, but I have not yet seen this desire to challenge himself academically.  I guess it’s just that up to this point, I have chosen curriculum for him, which has always been academically rigourous, and I have done my best to convey to my kids (and other kids in the family, and those of friends whenever the opportunity arises) that working hard in school is not something you should do for someone else….that what you put into your studies is just that – what you put into it – no one can do it for you, but that it benefits mostly you, as well.  (Well, ok, parents get some benefit in the form of pride, and their spouses and children will benefit someday, as well, in various ways, but I’m not getting into that much detail.)  I suppose that my surprise in his selection of diploma goals and courses for the year comes from the fact that for the first time, I’m seeing evidence that he gets it.  He isn’t taking these classes for anyone else.  That’s cool.  That’s nice.  Whew!  He gets it!

Of course, it was also nice to have him ace the placement test given by government education, too (94 on LA, 96 on Math).  Not that I ever doubted the quality of the education I’ve been giving my children, but we don’t test a lot, so it was nice to see that choosing not to use testing/grades was not a detriment according to government standards.  Again, not that I think those standards are important, except for the fact that whether we like it or not, our kids do have to be measured against them at some point.  We home educators may all agree that public education standards are seriously lacking, but I think we all have this deep-seated worry that our kids’ abilities won’t be recognized for what they are, because we don’t use their standards to shape what we teach. 

So J will enter the throng of public educated kids with less of a stigma on him because of his test scores, I think.  Some teachers hail home education, others abhore it, so his performance on this test will only serve to help him.

Don’t know what we’ll do next year – that’s up to God 🙂

For this year in our home school, though, I’m looking forward to being able to give my daughter some serious one-on-one, for which the timing is great, because she’s blossoming into a young lady, has entered puberty full force, and seriously needs to learn to make choices as an individual, because she is always following her brother’s lead rather than thinking for herself 🙂  He’s certainly a good example to follow, but I want her to learn to make decisions without the influence of others.  She wants to learn to cook; I want to learn to slow down, and we are both looking forward to the special year together.  Her studies this year will center around the Eastern Hemisphere, and we both really love learning about other cultures, and maps are a passion we have shared since she was two:  “Mommy, let me see.” from the back seat always expected whenever I pulled out the road map 🙂  She has expressed the desire to double up and take two Science courses this year, which surprised me a little, but at 10, she hasn’t yet hit the part of puberty that moves social life to the forefront, and she’s been listening to her big bubby’s plans to push himself academically this year, too, which I’m sure has some to do with it.  We’ll push to begin with, and if she decides during the year that she’d like to back off, we can do that.  I love the freedom we have in education.  I love this country.  And, oh, that makes me think of Obama, and his lack of true love and unbridled patriotism for it!  I won’t get political – it’ll ruin my mood.  I’m going to go distract myself. 

ta ta!