This month has just been one thing after another. We came home from Christmas travels and celebrated the New Year. We had two family birthdays with an ice storm in between. Next came our biannual trip to St. Jude in Memphis where we walked away with clear scans for my nine year old cancer survivor. And today, as I am writing this, I am waiting to go back for a surgery that is long over due… a toe amputation. Maybe I’ll write more on that at another time.
As far as our week in review:
We hit the books Monday morning, catching up on Math and Language Arts.
My oldest is doing biology through Schoolhouse Teachers. This week, he was tasked with comparing cheek cells to cells from a banana peel. Not going to lie, I felt very accomplished as a homeschool mom as we pulled out the microscope, q tips, and scalpel to put together the slides.
My oldest also fancies himself to be a filmmaker. On his own, he wrote a script, recruited actors and crew, and has completed multiple filming days at multiple filming locations. Yesterday, he hosted his second to last big filming day.
I have a very wiggly nine year old. She often has to walk or dance while she works. Everytime she does psych and cognitive testing at St. Jude, they ask me if we have considered medication for ADHD. I gently explain that we homeschool and she is thriving and thank you, but no medication for now.
I’m waiting to go back for surgery not is an odd feeling to be the one hooked up to the IV instead of the caretaker.
What was your week like? If you make a collage and post on Instagram, be sure to tag me: @thedelightdirectedhomeschooler
A few years ago, I had the privilege of doing some work for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I was able to see first hand the fantastic and broad range of classes and resources offered.
This year, I began to realize what a truly wonderful resource something like Schoolhouse Teachers is for people who have adopted a more relaxed or delight directed approach to learning.
I try hard at the beginning of each school year to have my spine, my core in place. We use Math U See for math. One aspect of delight directed teaching is knowing your weaknesses. I have never been strong in math. I do not feel confident to teach it apart from a solid curriculum. We chose Math U See quite a while ago and it has worked for our family. This year I also chose to use language arts from The Good and The Beautiful. I actually do feel pretty confident in Language Arts, but my two older girls are experiencing some trouble (for various reasons) and I wanted to give them something consistent. And bonus… levels 1-5 of language arts are available for free as a PDF download!
Top Five Reasons for Delight Directed Homeschooling with Schoolhouse Teachers
# 1 Schoolhouse Teachers is Self- Paced.
Onto Schoolhouse Teachers. My oldest knows that we have adopted this delight directed approach to school and also knows that there are certain requirements to graduate from highschool and be college ready. The way we compromised this year was to sit down and look at what his options could be for language arts, science, history, etc. He is a self motivated learner. He is bright and scores college level on most areas of his yearly standardized testing. Because of this, I really want to give him the freedom to direct his learning (while also providing boundaries and setting him up for success). This is my kid who gets up in the morning and starts school right away. He gets it done so he can move on to what I consider the real school of his day- drawing, animating, and music.
# 2 Schoolhouse Teachers has a wide variety and tons of bonuses!
Schoolhouse Teachers offers a Christian worldview, self paced, online courses with customizeable curriculum. It is the curriculum branch of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The offer over 400 courses from preschool- highschool as well as help for parents such as a curriculum planning guide. The website is easy to navigate and there is a chat feature for online support. There is a membership fee to pay that covers the entire family for a year (or you can pay monthly). There are no hidden fees like textbooks, etc. Some classes will have a materials list, but usually the materials are items you already have in your home. In addition to the courses offered, you also get access to World Book Encyclopedia online and Right Now Streaming Media. It really is a fantastic deal!
# 3 I do not feel buyer’s remorse.
For my youngest girls, I am using the Schoolhouse Spelling course. It is a simple, daily spelling lesson. Each week, they have a list of spelling words focused on a certain spelling rule or pattern and complete engaging activities to practice daily.
I was also able to look through the many options for elementary Science and find a course that I could use with all three of my girls (1st, 3rd, and 6th grades). And the great thing for someone like me who gets really excited about curriculum for a minute and then overwhelmed by it or bored by it or realizes that it was not the right fit afterall… if a course doesn’t work for us, we can just move on and try a different one without losing money.
# 4 My kids can be involved in building their homeschool year.
My oldest and I sat down and the beginning of the year. I told him that he needed to help me pick a language arts course and science course for the year. I also told him that he was welcome to look through the electives and see if anything interested him. He chose Elements of Literature, Biology, Tinkers Club, and Intro to Architecture. Each course has a description and for upper level courses, transcript information.
#5 No hidden fees and one membership covers the entire family!
We have been so pleased with Schoolhouse Teachers. I cannot recommend it enough. Courses are self paced. Some courses go through the entire year and some are just a few weeks long. You could purchase a membership with Schoolhouse Teachers and build your entire year for all of your children. Right now! Again, there are no hidden fees. Most courses have a recommended materials list, but there are no textbooks to purchase. All curriculum is accessible through the website. Through the end of January, you can join and save big $$$… you can get an entire year for just $90!!!
I am an affiliate for Schoolhouse Teachers. If you click through the links on this blog and decide to purchase a membership, our family will receive a small commission. For that, we thank you. I will say, however, even if I was not an affiliate, I would still endorse this program!
On this day three years ago, we took my then 6 year old to the hospital for an MRI. She had been experiencing headaches, lethargy, lack of appetite and nausea. (PLEASE NOTE: THESE SYMPTOMS DO NOT ALWAYS EQUAL CANCER… I am not a healthcare professional. Please do not use our story to diagnose your child. If you have concerns, please seek professional help).
I had fought for that MRI. Her symptoms started Christmas day, almost a month before. I had taken her to the doctor, thinking he would order a vision exam or something like that. At that point, her only symptom was headaches. Her doctor believed she was experiencing anxiety and suggested seeing a mental health therapist.
My husband is a mental health therapist and he was not convinced. He asked that we wait. We tried some calming strategies at home… taking a time out from people, listening to music, wrapping up in a blanket. She began to frequently tell us she was “overwhelmed” and started spending more and more time in her bed.
The stomach bug hit our household and went through everyone. As with most stomach bugs, the majority of us bounced back fairly quickly. She did not. She continued to wake in the night throwing up. Her big sister who had just turned nine would frequently come and get me in the middle of the night to let me know her sister had been sick again.
I called the doctor over and over, asking at what point we should be concerned. He said it was likely a virus and to give it time. He said that as long as she had spurts of energy and would interact with us, she was ok. She was not ok. I remember talking to a nurse on the 24 help line who suggested keeping a headache journal. She said to track the headaches, noting foods eaten, activities, etc. I called the doctor again and he agreed to an MRI. This was on a Monday. I called the scheduling office and they said it would be at least two weeks. I told them that I did’t think we had two weeks. She wasn’t eating. She was staying in bed all the time. She needed to come in right away. They said the soonest they could do was Thursday. She was so sick and so small. I remember sitting up with her in the middle of the night that Tuesday and asking her how she was feeling. She said, “Sad.” We cried together as I held her close. I was scared. Something was not ok and I didn’t know how to help her.
Three years ago today, we drove to the MRI. It was the first day in a long time she had woken up hungry and asking for food. We couldn’t give her any because she was to be sedated for the MRI. She was tired and in no mood to play. The child life specialist kept bringing toys and play dough and bubbles. It was miserable. They finally took her back. I walked in with her and held her hand as they sedated her. I watched her fall into the deep sleep and went to the waiting room to sit with my husband.
We could hear the MRI through the walls. The loud banging and beeping it makes as it collects images. They called us back just before she was done. A new doctor was in the room. He said plainly that she had a golf-ball sized tumor in her brain. He said surgery was absolutely necessary. He said more, but I don’t remember what.
After that, everything moved quickly, but somehow also in slow motion. We went to the cancer center where a friend brought the other children to us. My daughter and I were to go in an ambulance to a hospital a couple of hours away. My husband would take the kids home and be with them as a snow storm was blanketing our town. By that point, news had spread. People were praying. Plans to care for our family were being made. I was heading into this next step alone with my daughter, but carried by the prayers of so many.
We went, she had surgery, the tumor was removed entirely, and it was malignant. A few days after surgery, she was back to herself. She was eating, playing, laughing… the color had returned to her cheeks. It seemed like all was ok, but we heard back from the oncologist with the pathology report that confirmed the malignant tumor… medulloblastoma.
We were sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to receive treatments. 30 treatments of radiation and 4 cycles of chemo. We stepped out of our reality and into a new one. It was like a cross cultural experience. We learned a new language… the language of cancer. We learned how to administer IV medicines. We learned new rituals and a new lifestyle. St. Jude is approximately 500 miles from our home in Western North Carolina. It is is Memphis, TN. I didn’t know that until we went.
Three years ago. It seems like forever and it seems like yesterday. I can remember the sights and smells and sounds. I can remember the terrifying ambulance ride and the minute or so in the PICU when we first arrived and they couldn’t wake her right away and how I didn’t realize I was holding my breath while I watched helplessly. I can remember it so clearly.
We finished treatement in August of 2016. For the next two years, we returned to St. Jude every three months for scans and appointments. We graduated to every six months this past summer. Last week, we went for her routine appointments. It is not so startling or scary now to fly to Memphis and ride in the shuttle to St. Jude. We are familiar with the process. We know the language. There is an ease to it all.
In the weeks leading up to these appointments, however, I experience extreme anxiety and what I believe to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that comes from being a care giver to my sick child. I relive the nightmare of it all in my panic attacks and fear its return. It is debilitating at times and makes me so angry. I chide myself for not being better… not getting over it and moving on. But what we went through and go through is not easily forgotten so I try to also give grace and rest.
I am a Christian. I am a firm believer in God’s sovereignty. I know firsthand that in moments of suffering and pain, we see the gospel and grace and hope in such a tangible way. I know that there is much pain in this world and that causes deep longing for the next where there will be no sickness and no death. I wrestle in the in between. I wrestle in the now and the yet to come. The knowing that pain and suffering are real and will come, yet there is a greater hope in it all and a peace to be had in light of eternity. I am at times comforted and at times terrified by the sovereignty of God.
One thing that God has continually taught me and drawn me towards in my adult life it to take one moment at a time… to not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. I will rejoice that we walked away from this trip to St. Jude with clear scans… NED ( no evidence of disease). I will rejoice that in this moment, my daughter is strong and healthy. She has kicked cancer and moves forward with boldness and strength that I can only hope for. In this moment, we are ok.
Thank you for letting me process this anniversary here in the blogosphere. Thank you for taking the time to read a piece of our story. If you would like to see more about what a day at St. Jude can look like, go check out my Instagram pics from our recent trip with the hashtag #adayatstjude.
I love all things Narnia. C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors. I don’t cry often… hardly ever really… it’s a problem. But the Chronicles of Narnia get me. I hate when The Pevensie Kids are grown up and stumble back through the wardrobe and into childhood away from Narnia. It makes me sad every time. I well up with happy, excited tears in “The Last Battle” when they are going further up and further in. I am not as big of a Tolkien fan, but definitely call my children hobbits on a regular basis… due to 2nd breakfasts and their stature.
All that to say, I was intrigued at the title of this book when I saw it come across my Facebook feed. The kids and I read a C.S. Lewis biography a couple of years ago and I was fascinated with the relationship between Lewis and Tolkien.
“A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, And a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18” by Joseph Loconte has 256 pages and was first published June 30, 2015. The book is filled with observations of the political and religious landscape of the West during the time of World War 1. Both Tolkien and Lewis served as soldiers on the Western Front. This book sheds light on how these wartime experiences influenced the writings of these two great authors.
I am not really sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book. I think I was expecting a devotional type reading, not a history lesson. But, then again, I did not read the book description… just the title. I learned quite a bit about the political and religious climate in Europe during the time of World War 1. It was not much different from today. There was very much an advancement in science and technology during that time. The books dives into the rise of communism, Nazism, fascism, and eugenics, highlighting how those who survived the Great War were disillusioned with government, religion, politics, and spiritual morality.
The book was more of a history book than I expected. There were some graphic depictions of life during the war. Tolkien was not a fan of the focus on technology. He felt it would be man’s downfall. Learning about the time period surrounding the writing of Lord of the Rings and Narnia were helpful in imagining what the author’s may have been thinking about as they created these magical lands. The two men lived in an age where people felt hopeless yet were able to inspire hope through their writings.
If you like history, which I do… and you like learning the behind the scenes of things… which I also do, I recommend you give this book a chance. It is a fairly quick read. I think it would be appropriate for upper middle school and high school as well.
Just in case it needs to be said, I am by no means a professional book reviewer or book critic. I just like to read and share what I have learned. I am also an affiliate with Amazon. If you click through and purchase through links on this blog, our family will receive a small percentage from the purchase. Thank you.
We eased our way back into school this week. I really struggled. I’m not going to lie. I started the week filled with hope and energy. I knew we had a birthday in the middle of the week that would throw the rhythm in a different direction… I was ready for that. I was not ready to have a child up for 2 hours, sick in the middle of the night. I was not ready for an arthritic knees that would render me useless for long periods of time. I was not ready for real life. I wanted a couple of fairy tale weeks.
Even still, our first week back to school has come and gone. We did math, we read, we delighted in some activities.
Top Left: We have a twelve year old in our house! She loves all things panda. You can read more about her birthday HERE.
Middle Left: My precious Selah has been working so very hard this year. If you hang around this blog long enough, you will hear about Selah and why she is a miracle and every day with her is precious. Here is she working on math like a champ.
Bottom Left: Back at it with The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts, Level K. This has been an amazing confidence boosting year. This little first grader has made massive leaps in her reading.
Top Right: That time I dressed as Luigi and played live action Mario Kart at youth group. I am blessed to get to hang out with some pretty awesome students each week. My knees may creak and I may not say the hippest things… but I sure do think they are the bee’s knees!
Bottom Middle: The sun has finally been shining here in Western North Carolina and our backyard has dried up a little. The chickens have been feeling frisky and finally started laying eggs again after a brief haitus.
Botton Right: Legos. Always. She worked hard and knocked out her school on Monday morning so she could get back to the real work of the day… building her world.
What did you week look like? If you take a collage or picture to represent and post it on Instagram. I’d love to see it! Feel free to tag me (@thedelightdirectedhomeschooler)!!