Everything stays the same…

Everything stays the same.

Time is passing.

Leaves are falling.

Costumed children have tricked their treat and turkeys are starting to get scared.

Yet, everything stays the same.

Chris has had two, two month check up’s since I last wrote. To be perfectly honest. I didn’t know what to say.

Everything stays the same.

His doctors are happy and we’re excited! His tumor isn’t growing.

Yes, Chuck is still hanging out in his brain. but he’s not growing.

Every single time we hear this it gets more and more hopeful.

An “all clear” at the two moth appointment means more time.

Chris, however, is struggling.

You know those steps of the grieving process? There are five and he’s knocking back and forth between steps two and four.

Anger and depression.

One day he’s happy and I see a glimpse of the man I used to know.

One day, he’s so angry that I can’t get a word in edgewise because he’s so damn mad at me he can’t see straight.

And then there are the days that hurt the most. The days that I watch that strong, amazing man crumple at the feet of cancer.

He doesn’t move.

He doesn’t talk.

He doesn’t…

I long for the “good” days.

The days that he laughs and sings in that horrible baritone that I love.

The days that the kids can joke with him and he laughs back.

But, more often than not, he has an anger or depressive day.

Now, I’m not saying he’s ALWAYS like this. I’m just saying that it’s hard to have a good day when you’re trapped in a three way cycle of happy, mad and depression.

He’s still Chris.

With his hat on, you might not know that he has brain cancer. He still looks the same. Handsome as ever!

The only things you might notice is his aphasia.

He talks with effort.

To someone who didn’t know, it’d be like talking to someone who’s distracted. Like talking to someone who isn’t really listening.

Except, it’s the exact opposite of distraction.

It’s extreme concentration.

Words are difficult and following an entire conversation takes as much concentration as he can muster.

Which is a lot!

You might not know he has cancer.

But, you do.

Other than the cycle of grief, everything is ok.

Everything stays the same.

The kids are starting back to public school and I couldn’t be happier!

Not that I didn’t enjoy homeschool, but I just couldn’t do it.

I’m good at a lot of things. Great at some. But, homeschooling wasn’t my forte and I’m ok admitting that.

So, today Doodle two started at the elementary school near our new house and Doodle one starts Monday in middle.

Ugh!

Where has the time gone?!

I’m sure they’ll love being around more kids their own age and I’ll enjoy being with Chris ALONE on my days off.

What’s that like?

I forgot.

We moved to a new town and although it’s only a county away, I’m tee totally lost!

I’ll find my way.

Right now, I know where the schools are and the gas station.

It’s weird to be in a new town.

A fresh start.

Will we meet new friends?

Will we enjoy and become comfortable here?

I hope so! I certainly do.

That’s that!

Chris’s two month appointment went so well. Although, his brain is still swollen, it has gone down exponentially in the last few months.

Although weak, he has the ability to get stronger.

His will to fight is still there.

And, although dealing with the tremendous burden of grief, he is doing well.

The kids are starting school and they are nervously excited! They don’t seem as scared as they were before and my heart is happy to finally see them enjoy education again.

We are ok. We are together and enjoying what it feels like to be a normal family. We are happy with the notion that we get more time. We are starting to remember what it felt like before cancer entered our lives.

But, it did.

Everything stays the same.

Erin Condren: A Game Changer!

Do you ever feel completely disorganized?
That no matter how hard you try to plan ahead to keep up with your busy day-to-day life,  something always seems to be forgotten or missed? And how every new year, you go out and buy a new planner with the hopes that this year will be better because you have a different planner this time?
Yet, you find yourself not using it because it just doesn’t have everything you need it to have after all?
 And flipping through mundane black and white pages just bores you to tears, which makes you less inclined to keep it updated?
A little confession…….that was me. I NEVER used to be this neat and organized. My life was a disorganized mess!
Until the day I discovered a planner that would literally change my life from chaotic disorder to complete organization!
The little miracle that saved me from my stressful and disorganized life and transformed me into a more peaceful and completely organized “life planning” guru is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.
I didn’t think it was possible that one little planner could shift my cluttered, disarrayed life into an orderly, systematic and organized one. I didn’t believe it…because I had tried so many times before to no avail.
This is not your average planner.  Sure, it has a calendar like every other planner, but it’s so much more than that.
I actually look forward to using my planner and I can tell you that has never happened before.
Being organized for the first time in my life has created a calm I never knew existed because I don’t stress anymore about missing or forgetting anything.
The EC LifePlanner layout has everything I need to plan accordingly, but beyond that, it’s also visually pleasing and actually brings a smile to my face when I use it.
Who knew that scheduling, planning and coordinating daily life could actually be fun?
Not me!
Have you ever found something that made you so happy that you just couldn’t keep it to yourself?

Well, my friends, it may seem small to some of you, but I can find a little ray of sunshine every day in my Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Yes.

A planner.

Doesn’t that seem silly?

Maybe…to some…

I believe we should cherish the little things in life. And my Erin Condren LifePlanner may seem like a “little thing” to some, but to me it is so much more!

When I sent an email to the Erin Condren social media squad, I never thought I’d hear back. I sent it with the hope that they would read my blog and hear my story. That that story might pique their interest and I’d be able to use it to help another person dealing with some of the same things I am.  Or maybe it could simply help introduce someone not familiar with Erin Condren to a new and innovative planner that they could use in their everyday lives.

So, I reached out. I sent the email, and lo and behold, I got a response from a woman named Samantha!!

Holy Hades!

I couldn’t wrap my brains around the fact that my little blog could catch the attention of someone at such a large company.

But, it did.

“Samantha”  told me to make my choices for a new planner and she would send me a “Happy Package” full of EC goodies.

Rose Gold and MidCentury circles and Vertical vs. Horizontal, Oh My!

I was giddy with excitement and this is what I was talking about before. This planner can bring such a smile to my face!

So, I waited.

And I waited.

Just two days felt like an eternity, but it showed up and that orange box made me Squeee!!

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I called Doodle One in and we went to “Unboxing” this new found glory in a perfectly packaged box.

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There was a note.

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They always include little freebies on the top of their packages, but this was personal. A handwritten note. It was from Sam. We were on nickname terms and I laughed out loud at the concept.

So, I opened it and she had sent two boxes of their amazing colored pencils for my kids.

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What?

Yes, y’all. She sent two boxes of the most perfectly designed colored pencils for my Doodle’s!

Plus, some stickers!

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I was, again, just in awe of her ability to touch my heart.

Sam sent me what they call the “Wellness Package”.

It included their AMAZING wet erase markers (I had no idea there was even such a thing, but they write like a dream and only wipe off easily with a wet paper towel)

A “Wellness Journal” to keep up with general body wellness. It’s not just specified to weight loss. It chronicles hydration and an overall body conscious way of living.

Their “Designer Sticker Book” that is so pretty I don’t think I can even use the stickers! They are gold, platinum and rose gold foiled with such perfection that they look like works of art.

A set of their “Do It All Dots” that go in your planner to stylize even the most mundane of daily duties.

Two, Count Um, TWO dashboards!

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One that you can use weekly to organize meal planning to make that task a breeze and one that included the cutest sticky notes you can imagine. All highlighted with their signature water color background. They are so useful, I’ll probably run out and have to buy my own. (Which I’ll do in a heartbeat!!)

And finally, a cover to use until  the personalized one that I picked out could be made. Because the platinum foiling process takes so long to prepare, Sam just couldn’t wait to send it to me!!

And y’all, this cover was beautiful. Perfectly foiled and laminated in a very sturdy, yet still visually pleasing format.

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Then it happened.

I came to the bottom of my package and angels sung and birds chirped and whales gave a mating call…

My Planner.

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I felt like holding it up like Simba and singing “The Circle of Liiiffee”…

From cover to cover I stared. My daughter thinking I was crazy the whole time.

I couldn’t open it up.

I wanted to savor the moment and smell the fresh paper smell and feel the infinite possibilities that perfect planning can do to your life.

But, I finally did.

The front cover has a whiteboard that works with any dry erase markers or the phenomenal wet erase markers.

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The first page is vellum. I didn’t know what vellum was, but now I know I want it in my life. It is gorgeous. Marked with a colorful pattern of their “MidCentury Circles”.

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And then I dove in. Head first with eyes wide open. It has a two-page layout of 2016 and 2017 and then it has a two-page layout of boxes, color coordinated for each month. I think I’m going to use this as a “Goals” page to set monthly goals for myself.

Then the planner itself starts and the watercolor theme immediately stands out. It is strong, yet feminine. A perfect choice for a new style.

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The months are still color coded this year, but with an elegant watercolors. Less polka dots and boxes. She truly captured the essence of every different personality. For, with the soft colors, one could add pizzazz with stickers or just let the simple beauty of the planner speak for itself. I, myself, am a little in the middle. I love stickers, but I am understated in my design choices. But, EC knew that and designed her LifePlanner for each personality accordingly.

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The months are followed by note pages: Lined, Graph and Blank. Again, with the customizing, EC. Oh, how you know thee!!

Then follows the folder pocket that serves the purpose of just that. A two-sided folder to be a catch all for all of your receipts, bills and so forth. It’s sturdy, yet not industrialized looking.

And yay! A zippered pouch at the end that you can move to wherever you’d like in your planner. Filled with goodies like the coil clip to snap it into place, a sticker book sample and compliment cards that I’ve already used for Chris’ sweet nurse that helped us so wonderfully.

So, do you want one?

I bet you do and I have a code to help you get $10 off.

So, take the plunge.

The design is always top notch and the personal touches they add just add a little something that can’t be explained.

This year is the year that I caught the planning bug. I got caught off guard. I joined a community of planners that is both exclusive and all inclusive. All members are full of love and compassion.

We all know that we are all fighting our own battles. But, we rally and hold hands and just love one another in a way that feels so fulfilling.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. From kids to homeschool to a husband fighting cancer. This planner gives me the light I need to get me through my most gloomy of days. I can pace the halls of the darkest hospitals and my light won’t be extinguished.

Yes, a planner can do that. Yes, a planner does that.

And that planner is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Get your own personal ray of sunshine.

Allow yourself to be enlightened and changed for the better.

See how something that some may call a “little thing” can make such an enormous and positive impact on your life.

With Love,

Al

P.S Here’s your $10 off code!!

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/allisonpadgett0625

P.P.S Take a look around and find what tickles your fancy!!

http://www.erincondren.com

XOXO…

**Some editing and some writing credit goes to Suzanne B. Horton who makes my sun shine and my moon glow**

She is the Homeschool Fairy

Can being in a slump effect our kids?

Sure.

Will we make mistakes?

Sure.

When we become Mama’s are we automatically infallible?

No.

So begins my post this Saturday morning.

I am in a slump, or funk, as you may say. My Mama duties have seemed so difficult the past week. Almost as if I’m moving in a pool of water. Slow and labored. Homeschool is hard, y’all. Homeschool is fun, but it’s easy to feel like you’re slipping and make a mistake. In more ways than one, it’s brought me closer to my children. In more ways than one, it’s made me more tired mentally than I ever thought I could be. I feel alone in my work. Unappreciated. I work hard to find stimulating resources that will help the Doodle’s along in their quest for knowledge. But, alas, I feel I am alone in this quest. I get so excited about finding new stuff and I swear when I get our books, I may throw a party. But, I’ll be the only one in attendance. I want to scream with excitement over fulfilling this dream. But, I might as well be screaming into a pillow. No one, and I mean no one, cares.

It’s as if all of these things just magically come from the homeschool fairies at night. Like a cobbler’s elves, they are tireless in their work.  The homeschool fairies find resources, print worksheets and when the printer is out of ink, they even handmake worksheets! They paperclip and staple. They sort and organize. They love a good binder! The fairies read books to be read. They highlight the most important parts and create handwritten “walks” through the literature to help with Doodle 1’s reading expression. They underline and bold print. They plan unit studies and lap books. The fairies plan projects and library lists. They even put all of the necessary library books for all of the subjects of the week on hold before we can even get to the library! They tape and cut. They even put note cards on the wall to help with sight word practice for Doodle 2! I love the fairies! I appreciate the fairies. I am the fairies…

Silence. No round of applause. Not even a thank you.

And so goes my journey this week. I will keep moving forward in my pool of water. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Hi, My name is Allison and I’m a Secular Homeschooler. Is there anybody out there?

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Hello, everyone. My name is Allison. I am a secular homeschooler and couldn’t feel more alone. In my search for curricula, to my search for homeschool groups, I feel as if us secular Mama’s are few and far between. I’ve read books. I’ve scoured the internet, but I still feel alone. My only foundation seems to be my family and my lovely, homeschool warrior, Joan at The Back Pack, who understands my struggle. She listens and laughs and actually feels like a friend. I found her website in a search on the internet and I feel like she’s the island in this ocean of uncertainty that I was searching for. So, parched and hungry for knowledge, I climbed onto her island and listened to her journey in secular homeschooling. Who knew it was so different? Who knew we were so few? It’s not that I don’t think there’s a place for Christ in our home. It’s just that I don’t feel there’s a place for religion in our homeschool.

That being said, I am waiting anxiously for my books to arrive. Joan has been more than patient on me and the IRS. (My tax return being paramount in this undertaking)

Can one find a homeschool group that isn’t judgemental? I judge not, lest I still feel judged. Can one find a few homeschool friends that don’t think that the fact that we don’t have a memory verse everyday is a complete blasphemy? We do have character verse or quotes every week. This week was a Japanese Proverb that stated, “Fall down seven times, Stand up eight.” I thought this was a great proverb for my children to learn. Especially, Doodle 2 with his experience with bullies.

So, my point of this blog post today isn’t to plug The Back Pack. (I still am no way affiliated with them, I just happen to love the way they conduct business and the way they’ve fought for homeschooler’s, whether secular or otherwise) My point is to ask the question of why. Why can’t, we as homeschool Mama’s and Dad’s, unite as one team? Why can we not go on the same field trips or visit the same parks together? I am not anti-religion, in any way shape or form. But, I’m feeling as if the local homeschool groups feel as if I am. If I don’t incorporate Christ in my everyday lessons, I am an outcast. If I do, I am one of them. Accepted in the natural flow of what is homeschool.

The biggest part of my choice to homeschool was the safety and well being of my Doodles. Isn’t that why we all decided to take this hard, treacherous, unknown path? Isn’t that why we all decided that public school wasn’t the right place?

I was brought up to love my neighbor. To do unto others as they have done to me. Why in this journey, am I finding resistance in the very place that I thought I’d feel comfort. I am not an outsider. I am not an Anti-Christian. In fact, this journey has brought me closer to God, in many ways and now I wonder why. I’m not wrong, but, as I stated before, who am I to judge? I’m not. But is anyone else, either?

Charlotte Mason, Delight Directed, Unschooling, Oh MY!

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So, here we are. What seems like Week 100 of Homeschool, but it’s actually Week 6. I’m becoming frazzled and I feel like no matter how much I try or how many damn printer cartridges I go through, it’s not enough to be engaging. To the kids or me. To be honest, I’m bored. I haven’t found my niche, yet. And that’s why I’m writing this today.

Charlotte Mason, Delight Directed, Unschooling, Deschooling, Delightfully Mason, Undirected…..Ahhhhh! It’s all running together. I knew from the beginning that my kids or I didn’t fit into a certain type of curriculum or method, but the more I get into it, the more I wonder where the hell we fit. I’m lucky in the sense that they both learn in essentially the same ways, but buying “manipulatives” just isn’t in the budget. So, I’m relying on good ole Mama to act a fool some days just to get their attention. I sing, I dance, I run around the living room and after about 30 minutes, I’m tired and they lose focus.

So, back to the drawing board for this Mama.

I’ll start with Charlotte Mason. She is apparently the goddess of all things homeschool. The pioneer! I, on the other hand, think that although some of her methods sound promising, taking my kids outside for 3 hours a day so they can learn in nature, just sounds asinine. It’s 29 degrees outside! She must’ve lived in the most temperate climate in the world. I realize she lived in a time where children played outside more. Hell, I did, too. But, Ms. Mason, I’m not teaching nature studies while my children and I freeze. Our next step will be studying anatomy when our fingers start to fall off from frost bite. I do like her “living book’ philosophy. It seems like a grand idea and we do have a great library in our tiny little town, But, teaching math from literature? Um, no. Teaching literature, grammar and composition from literature. Um, ok. Sounds good to me. Actually sounds pretty cool. Now, how to plan the lessons. Do I read every book first and try to pull lessons from them or do I read with the children and let them find the lesson? I can tell you one thing, my Doodles won’t follow that very well. The concept sounds great, but especially Doodle 1, won’t give 2 craps about where a comma goes in a “living book’. However, a “living worksheet” will grab her attention just fine. Ms. Mason’s love for children is something I can get on board with. She believed children were people and treated them as such. This I love. This is what I can take from this method. What the Doodles say actually matters and their input is important. I also, think that her dictation and narration method could help Doodle 1’s written expression difficulty. I’m digging that.

With that, we turn to Delight Directed. A method that seems to use your children’s natural interests to facilitate the learning experience. This also sounds pretty great in philosophy. Letting the Doodles follow what Delights them would be so great. But, there are no lesson books on Minecraft, Terreria and now in Doodle 1’s case, boys. I can see how they would be more interested in things that delight them, but even with the small bit of structure and direction I would give them, we’d spend all day on a tangent of thoughts and we’d never learn about any one thing. It would be a jumble of information that their little minds wouldn’t process in one day. Much less, a year.

So, on to unschooling. To me this sounds great! I could let them tell me what lessons they’d like to do and I’d write them with them and we’d then go frolic in a wheat field in our homemade hemp clothes. No. I in no way mean to deny that this is a very functional method for other people and I don’t mean to put it down. It just wouldn’t work for us. We’d spend 3 weeks on a study of Lego’s followed by a 6 week study of the in’s and out of an IPad. I wish this would work for us. I wish I knew someone that this worked for. I read something about one family that was studying astronomy when their child was eight and then when the child “wanted to”, they started learning to read at ten. What?! Maybe that sounds extreme, but I swear I read it right. Unschooling seems like Noschooling to me. But, I admit, it sounds like a hell of a lot less work for me!

With all that said, where in the hell do we fit in? A combo of these methods is the obvious answer, but I haven’t found the happy medium, yet. I do get a lot of books from the library to support our lessons. So, there’s a bit of Charlotte Mason. I do try to make lessons that the Doodles will be interested in. So, there’s a bit of Delight Directed. And I do get off on tangents and tell them about the fun that is a nerve synapse. Like the impulse is jumping from lily pad to lily pad. So, there’s a bit of unschooling.

My books are coming in next week from the most amazing secular used book distributor, The Back Pack. Here in ole North Carolina (I’m in no way affiliated with them, but they have been so helpful that I couldn’t help, but add them into this piece) I will have books, but no curriculum, so that is where my confusion comes in. If you have any ideas, feel free to comment. I feel like I’m in one of those bad dreams where you want to run, but your feet are stuck to the ground. And you’re being chased by the State, I mean monster, and you’re screaming and nothing’s coming out! Oh, I’m screaming to the Homeschool Gods, alright. But I’m pretty sure not a one can hear me.

Do Homeschooler’s get Snow Days?

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Here I sit, downloading new worksheets for sight word fluency while watching the snow/sleet/annoyance fall outside the window and listening to Doodle 2’s live commentary of Terraria. (Some sort of IPad game that is like Minecraft, but thankfully not Minecraft) The question of the day is, do homeschooler’s get snow days? We do have a few things that we could’ve done today. Did we do them? Nope. Do I really give a damn? Nope. They woke up late, they’ve played outside for a total of 25 minutes, got cold and came inside ill as hornets and now they’re actually getting along and helping each other with their games. Ahhh…. So why in the hell am I scouring Pinterest for worksheets? The honest answer is that I don’t know what else to do. Since I’m a newbie with little to no resources, I think every waking minute that I’m not teaching, I’m looking for something to teach. The obsession continues. Maybe one day I’ll be able to look back at these days of constant resource gathering with jolly laughter. I’m the squirrel preparing for winter of homeschooling printable freebies. A pdf. document hoarder. Soon they’ll do a show about me. Crazy Homeschool Mama Loses Control When Her Laptop Crashes…Coming up next on TLC.

So, the answer to today’s question has two answers. Yes and no. Yes, my homeschooled children get snow days. No, this homeschool Mama isn’t getting one.

Homeschool Mama Fail

047Have you ever had one of those days where everything you do and everything you say just goes in one ear and out the other with your kids? Well, as a new homeschool Mama, this isn’t a good thing. Yes, I know it happens to everyone, but damn, I felt like they didn’t grasp a thing today and they were so disinterested that I practically had to beg them to finish their “craftivity”. You like that? I’m picking up some of this teacher lingo! Anywho, in the words of my mother, who was and is, in fact, an amazing teacher, you tell them what you’re going to tell them, then you tell them, then you tell them what you’ve told them, then you implement some sort of assessment to determine if they’ve got it. Sounds easy, right? Easier said than done today. It was if I could’ve told them that our next field trip wasn’t to the library, it was to the moon and they’d of just shrugged their little shoulders like,”OK, Mama…”. I guess I’ve spent so much time planning and preparing (with little to no resources) that I want them to love every minute of homeschool. That’s why I took the Doodles out of public school to begin with. They were miserable there. And today, I was the miserable one. Hoping tomorrow brings rays of sunshine shooting out of their hineybutts and a new found desire for knowledge. Who am I kidding? I’m seriously just hoping that they show up at the dining room table with at least one eye open. Here’s to a better day and a homeschool hug for all of you out there they might have had a similar day. I think we all need one and this Mama may need some adult grape juice tonight.