Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Compassion






I want to introduce everyone to a new member of our family - Isai! He is the sweetest little 4 year old that I have ever seen... besides the two that I've raised. I wanted the boys to be able to learn a little lesson about how other children live around the world as they grow up. They need to learn that other people out there can be extremely happy with much less.

I want them to know that this little guy is blessed by a little bit from us every month -- just $38.00 a month does so much for him, and enriches his life in so many ways. He gets bible lessons and healthcare... snacks, and nutrition enrichment... his parents will benefit from his sponsorship as well. I hope that we are able to go and meet him one day, but that's of course me dreaming out loud.

We sponsored Isai with Compassion International - you can go there and look through their online catalog of children waiting to be sponsored from all over the world. I personally wanted a little boy roughly James and Tyler's age... and this face just grabbed me from the screen. If you have girls, maybe you'd like to sponsor a little girl that is your kids' age. It really doesn't matter that much who you choose - just get in there and help these kids.

Another thing I love is that we can send him letters through the Compassion website - which I feel like gets there faster as well as it's easier to send photos that way... just upload and then it's able to be translated for him. We've received our first letter back from Isai and got a sweet little picture from him since he is so little - he doesn't write yet.

Additionally, I love that at his birthday we can send him a gift - which they recommend $10 for him... or at Christmas we can send his family $25. They do have maximums for the kids of $100 over the course of a year... and $1,000 for the family. That's a lot for us, but I imagine that even sending the small amounts would bless them greatly. I can't wait to learn more about his family...

So far, he is an only child and lives with his parents in the country. His parents both are employed, which is wonderful! I hope that our relationship grows and that he is truly blessed by getting to know us too.

I'm so proud to be a part of this journey with him, and I hope that the boys learn a lot through the experience as well. Maybe one day the three of the boys can be pen-pals as well! 
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why We Chose Homeschool






You might be wondering why we have chosen to homeschool since both of us attended public school as kids. There are lots of answers to that, but I thought I'd lay out a few of them in the event that someone stopping by these parts of the humble internet might be weighing their options on how they'd like to handle schooling their children.

First, let me say that I absolutely think that this is something that every family needs to consider for themselves... what works for us, won't work for everyone... and I'd like the same respect. Disagree with me, no problem... but I won't tolerate attacks on my family because of our choices.


1) The initial decision came because of our family's unique situation in that our boys are only 6 months apart in age. We didn't feel like it was fair for Tyler to have to wait to go to school for another year because of his birthday month being just after the cut off period for traditional school. He is a very advanced learner, and while his maturity might not be quite there -- I don't think that he should be held back from learning. They are so close that we felt like they should be in the same grade together. They can help challenge each other.

2) James has some challenges with his motor skills, but he is smart as a whip! He needs some extra time to get his cutting, writing, and other skills developed - so we can work with him one on one to get those skills caught up. He is crazy smart though - it's amazing what he can do if he is given the right environment and encouragement.




3) I've wanted to be a teacher since I was very young, but I'm not 100% on board with some of the things that are taught in the public schools. Additionally, I wanted to have some Bible study as part of school without having to pay for the boys to go to private school. Having a program that is all integrated together using the Bible as a basis for everything is good as well. The program we chose has 5 major subjects covered, but also has everything set up in a very user friendly way. That way the kids can use all of their knowledge as they gain it in each subject. For instance, there is spelling and vocabulary covered in all subjects -- and when the subject matter can tie back to the Bible, they cover that as well.

4) There is a lot to learn outside of the classroom as well: like home maintenance, car maintenance, health, cooking, baking, menu planning, budgeting, grocery shopping, time management, and so much more... that they can learn everyday while they are going through life. These things can be taught on the weekends and free time from school, true... but for us going through our whole day is a learning process.


5) This one might be harsh, but there is a lot going on in the world these days that I don't think my children need to learn from right now. While I don't want to completely shelter the boys from everything, I do think that kids are far too exposed to the bad things too early these days. I want to reserve the right to be able to talk to them about the good and bad they see around them on my own terms and in ways they can understand. While there are some bad things thought about Christianity these days, I want to teach them about the good that comes from our faith. I don't want to spread hate - I want them to learn that while there are things (sins) in everyone that aren't good, but you love them anyway - just as Jesus would.




6) Even though we went to public school when we were kids - life sure has taken a drastic turn. I mean, there weren't school shootings in the 80s and 90s when we were in school. There weren't teachers paraded on the news every night for raping students or anything else for that matter. Life was simpler then, and while bad things can happen anywhere... I'd like to protect them as much as possible.

7) All of that being said, we do have a FANTASTIC network of homeschoolers that we are able to interact with and share our experiences. We do lots of field trips together, and have a Moms Night Out once a month to let the moms get together and refresh our batteries to teach our littles. So, we do have a village, but it's a village of our choosing. A village of like minded families for the most part - not just people thrown together by geography.





8) Another reason would be standardized tests -- when I was young, they were a part of our schooling every year, but they just happened... there wasn't any taking months to prepare for them and teaching just what was on the tests. It makes me sad that this is what schooling has come to. I want my kids to have better than that - I want for them to learn without the pressure of an annual test. Our program does have tests, but they are done differently and I will be intimately aware of what we need to work on again vs what they have mastered.


9) As their Mom, I am uniquely qualified to be able to give them proper encouragement for their work. I can help them work when they are at their best, and around our own schedule. If someone gets sick - we can always work on the weekend to get caught up... if life gets in the way for a month... we can work during the summer. We have the flexibility to do what is best for our family.

10) Their Dad gets to participate as well! We call him the principal, but he is intimately involved in choosing our curriculum... he helps teach when needed too. He helps drill the boys on certain aspects of their learning, goes over their worksheets with them. He encourages them, and is a big part of our reward system as well. He truly is a huge blessing and help!

These are some of our reasons for homeschooling our children. I know it's not the right choice for everyone, but it is right for us.
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Friday, May 8, 2015

Busy Homeschool Day

Yesterday was a very busy day for us - it was a field trip day with our homeschool group friends. We went to tour the local mounted police stables, and got to feed the horses carrots & apples. The boys had a good time feeding the horses, but had a hard time with the portions that involved sitting in the classroom. I think it must be their age and the fact that they are SO close in age, but they just pick at each other the entire time they are supposed to pay attention. I hope that gets better with age because I need a break from that level of crazy.

Here are some pictures from our field trip...










After we left the stables, we decided to go have a surprise lunch with Daddy. It was $.92 cent hotdog day at James Coney Island - so the boys could eat as much as they wanted for CHEAP! They loved it, and then once we were done with lunch - we went up in Daddy's office to visit all of his coworkers.





Finally, last night was our Homeschool Group's Moms Night Out - so we went to Shogun for hibachi. It is always nice to be able to catch up with other moms that can relate so much to what your own life is like on a daily basis. In our little group of 5 moms out last night... there were truly some amazing warrior moms there. Two of them have autistic children, one deals with severe gluten allergies in herself and her children, one has 4 children and is trying to sell her house, and one has a child with severe ADHD. There were 5 moms representing 12 children. We had a great time, laughed a lot, and just had some time of fellowship and relaxing. I can't wait until the next one on June 1st.


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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Essential Oil Journey

If you've been around this blog, you'll know that I spent about three years working with Scentsy. I loved their products, and still don't have anything but happy memories about my time working with their company. Life has a way of changing your focus from time to time, and 2014 was certainly a year for that with our family.

You've heard about my MoyaMoya experience, but you may not know about James' ADHD experience. He was put on a stimulant medication about a month before we started school for the year, and he tolerated them fine for the first month, but then started having severe reactions to them - he started hallucinating that he had spiders crawling on him. There is nothing like experiencing your child hallucinating about things crawling all over him. All of our parents saw it happening during the time that it was going on... and we tried a couple of other drugs, only to have him become aggressive with them.

Well, a friend of mine offered some samples to me of some essential oil products that might be able to help him get a little more focus so that we could do our school work. He is very in tune with his senses -- incredible hearing, and sense of smell... so I thought maybe letting him smell some peppermint and other products might help. They have been able to help him and we are loving the products. I use a variety of things with him daily... I like that we can do something for him that is natural.

There are products to help everything.... if you need to be able to breathe a little easier while you're congested, we can help with that. Have seasonal sniffles? We can help... there are articles and news stories popping up daily that talk about the benefits of these products. We can make over your whole house with natural solutions to all your everyday needs. Everything from your gym bag to your cleaning cabinet can be made over with these products.

The beauty is that you'll never worry about it being safe for your kids or pets to be around!

I'd like to tell you a little bit more about a few things that we use in our home.


This was where we started our DoTerra journey - I purchased this kit and with it I was able to get started and do a number of different things. There are over 150 uses for the oils in this kit, and I loved the smell and the ways they helped our overall health.





These are two of the most popular enrollment kits, that you'd find by clicking here. Choose the wholesale pricing option, and then go on to select your kit. By choosing one of these enrollment kits or by having a 100pv enrollment order - you will be eligible to receive the promotion below from DoTerra.





The 50pv in free products will be added to your account within 3 days of your enrollment and can be used to purchase products from DoTerra.





We are trying our best to follow this wellness pyramid these days, and use some DoTerra supplements to try to do our best with getting the right nutrients to our body. My favorite of the supplements would be our PB Assist which is a probiotic supplement, and our Life Long Vitality system. I'd love to talk to you more about these products, and how you can proactively start working toward an overall better health for your whole family.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Testimony - Part 3

To read from the beginning -- Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

Today also happens to be World MoyaMoya Day - I am happy to be able to shed some light on this rare disease on behalf of my family and my cousin's daughter as well.




In January of 2013, I had a health scare. I had a TIA (mini stroke), I was slurring my words and unable to answer John’s questions, so I spent about 5 days in the hospital having all sorts of tests. I was released from the hospital and followed up with a neurologist in Memphis, but the doctors couldn’t tell me much other than I had evidence of several mini strokes and small veins in my brain. They told me then that as long as my blood pressure stayed in control, everything should be fine. As you can expect, Memphis doesn’t have the world class medical providers that we were used to, but God protected me. 


In October of 2013, we moved back to Houston… and during that move, I had another TIA. In my Dad’s driveway – I was totally disoriented and slurring my words. I took some aspirin and continued on with the move. I didn’t take it seriously; like I should have, but thankfully God was in control. After the first of the year, I started a wellness group and we challenged each other to drink nothing but water. Initially, I thought I was detoxing from caffeine… but it kept on going and I had a migraine every single day of January 2014. I went in to see my doctor, and then a neurologist. 

The neurologist diagnosed me with MoyaMoya Disease in March, and the only treatment (there is no cure) is brain surgery. Thankfully we were back in Houston, and the Chief of Neurosurgery at Houston Methodist has lots of experience with MoyaMoya. It’s basically that my blood vessels are too small and it causes pressure to build up in my brain – so they needed to bypass those vessels in order for newer larger vessels to grow. I needed a bypass on both sides. 

in the ICU after surgery


 day after surgery

So I had my first brain surgery on May 1, 2014. I recovered for 8 weeks from that one, and then had the second on July 8, 2014. I’ve been extremely lucky, because this is usually diagnosed in children. My cousin’s daughter is 12 and had surgery for the same thing a year and a half before I did. God kept me from having a major stroke, and I’m forever grateful for my relationship with Him because I’m not sure how I could have gotten through all that we have without Him. 


second surgery scar

 
shaving my head

We still struggle with getting over all of the issues that came along with being out of sorts for basically the entirety of last summer. Tyler still has issues with being left without one of us, as a lot of you have seen with his fear of being in Sunday School without John. He still thinks every time someone comes to see them that I’m going to leave and go to the hospital. I know that in time things will settle down, and we’ll find out this summer how things are going when I go back for a day surgery procedure where they will test my blood vessel growth. 


God has been with me for my whole life, and even though it took me a while to come around to Him… I know that he knew what he was doing. He got me through all that we’ve walked through up to now, and I know that he will be there with us for all that will come in the future as well. I pray that my story has blessed ya’ll in some way.

If you'd like to read more about my MoyaMoya Journey, click this link to all of my stories regarding my experience. 
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