Friday, 27 July 2012

Homeschooling Begins

The more research I do on homeschooling, the more confirmed I am that we're making the right choice for our daughter and our family. I am lucky to be married to a man that not only supports my long-standing desire to homeschool, but also plans on helping me do the teaching! Not many kids can boast not just 1-1 interaction for schooling, but in fact 2-1 for some subjects. I've noticed over the past few months that our daughter learns some things better from me, and some things better from my husband. It goes to show that our two different learning styles will greatly benefit her. I find myself learning anew with him as he approaches things, and I bet he's learning new things from me too. I also find myself becoming innovative in the way I teach her things because I love to see those light bulb moments. Since we've actively chosen homeschooling and taken our daughter's education in our own hands, I've been so priviledged to watch how thirsty she is for one on one learning.

Rather than take a break this summer, my big school aged girl and I are working hard to keep her beautiful mind learning. I'm not doing a lot of structured work (unless you count the writing practice homework I give her when she goes to her room at nap time!), but I'm making a point of using the situations we come across every day to expand her experience and knowledge. This of course means lots of reading (and what kid doesn't love reading?), daily discussions about the calendar, seasons, reading the clock, and a plethora of nature walks on our way to and from our friends' houses, the library, and Church. We're having a great time birdwatching, chasing butterflies, and identifying various bugs, flowers, and other plants. I can tell it's rubbing off on the boys, who love pointing out all the different things they see and are asking more questions than ever. I'm grateful too that I can teach them about nature while we're out in it, because I can teach them to respect nature at the same time. (Side bonus: All this walking means I have a pretty awesome tan, and, I think, adorable freckles! The kids are still pale but that's because I'm nuts for sunscreen) It's a shame school doesn't run in the summer for all the public school kids, because this is the best time of year to get out there and learn about nature while enjoying it too. My daughter was staring out the window at the rain falling and explained to me, unbidden, the water cycle. That was just another quiet confirmation that what we've been doing with her is working and worthwhile.

While she's busy working on the little projects I'm making for her (next up is planting an indoor garden with veggies she can help me prepare into a meal!), I'm working hard assembling lesson plans and curriculum for more concentrated work in the fall. I know because she's entering grade primary the learning outcomes are not so far beyond her reach, but it's my hope that with diligent planning, as well as taking advantage of what opportunities pop up, I'll be able to help her achieve those outcomes and then surpass them before the year is out. A little bit at a time, according to her attention span and learning style, I'm confident we're going to have a wonderful year.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


In case you hadn't heard, my husband had major abdominal surgery today. For the past week or so I have been haunted by the idea of the what ifs for this surgery. He also has a condition named gastroparesis which is a kind of paralysis of the stomach. That means that he is more likely to vomit and asphyxiate under general anaesthesia. Not really a good feeling having this knowledge while my husband is in surgery and I'm at home with four young children. So, I've been freaking out. Maybe a lot. But I haven't JUST be freaking out. I promise! I have been praying up a storm for him and for the doctors who would be operating on him.

This morning when the sun had barely risen my father came to whisk him off to the hospital, leaving me in a very quiet house. The kids were still sleeping so I was left with my thoughts. Just as the thoughts were taking a dark turn my phone rang. Clearly God was whispering in my Dad's ear because he was calling to invite me to Mass this morning. So, while my husband was in surgery, being carefully sliced open by the surgeons, we were walking to Church in the early heat of the day. The sunshine and delicious breeze were a beautiful distraction for both myself and the kids. When we got to Church we had the pleasure of praying for him, and hearing a beautiful homily all about how having faith in God doesn't always mean we trust Him, and that we should seek to place our trust in God with great abandon. It was without a doubt exactly what I needed to hear.

Not too long after we got home the phone rang and my heart skipped a beat. As I walked the few steps to the phone my heart was pounding and my brain traced through the series of possibilities waiting on the other end of the line. To my endless joy, we got the good news that not only had the surgery gone well, but that my husband was coming home a full two hours earlier than expected. When we greeted him at the door the kids were practically bouncing off the walls, and I have to add that I was tempted to join them I was so full of gratitude. I realise I totally blew this surgery out of proportion, but I think it's only natural when someone we love so deeply is ill and facing even a small percentage of death, we act as though it's already happened. Luckily God worked through the hands of the surgical staff and anaesthesiologist and he's back home, safe and relatively sound. He has many weeks of recovery ahead, but that's far better than the alternative.

Once he was through the door and I'd put the kids down for a much needed nap, my husband gave me the run down of what the surgeon had told him post-op. We both fully expected some explanation of the mesh used to repair his hernia, as well as the magnitude of the hernia. As it turns out, the reason his surgery had taken so long (and the recovery so little) time was that when the doctor cut him open, he couldn't find a hernia. Rather than using a scope as he had hoped, the doctor ended up having to cut a larger incision to explore the area in hopes of finding the hernia. The doctor was clearly confused as he himself, as well as no less than three other doctors, had diagnosed an advanced hernia in the area he was looking. My husband's description of his symptoms were also concurrent with the symptoms of an inguinal hernia that had reached an advanced stage. And yet there was the doctor, cutting him open a little more and a little more trying to find this mystery hernia. Eventually he found the cause of all my husband's pain: a little ball of fat that had been there long enough for the nerve and muscle to encircle it. (The idea of my very slim husband with a ball of fat anywhere on his body is kind of hilarious to me!) The ball of fat had been pushing against a nerve center causing intense pain below and above its location. This tiny, seemingly insignificant ball of fat has been causing my sweet husband chronic pain since before we met. I can think of so many unexplained symptoms that lead back to this one problem. For the first time in many years he is regaining some feeling in his right thigh, which has been gradually going numb from his upper thigh down toward his knee. This is important because the fat ball is located at the spot where the leg started to go numb. Not to mention all this business with his digestive tract! They told him early this year that the nerves in his stomach had gone numb, thus the diagnosis of gastroparesis. Everything is finally starting to make sense.

I firmly believe that if my husband hadn't been diagnosed with a hernia, and his pain hadn't been so severe as to implicated a dangerously incarcerated or strangulated bowel, he never would have seen a surgeon so soon. Now, it is my hope that once he's recovered in six weeks, his quality of life will increase dramatically. I can't help but feel excited because I know that when he's back to full strength he'll be able to be the father he wants to be without worrying he'll get hurt. With that in mind, and with the blessing of the misdiagnosis that still led to the proper surgery so quickly, we cuddle up as a family around his chair tonight and said our prayers of thanksgiving. I don't doubt God's hand is in all of this, and it gives my heart so much consolation to know that God is watching over our little family with special care. Today more than ever I will whisper the prayer:

Jesus, I trust in You!