Friday, January 25, 2019

Week 19 ~ Thriving Despite the Bumps and Scrapes of Life

I can't say that this week was stellar in anyway, but we persevered and put one foot in front of the other. There were moments of laughter, joy and rest in between the bumps and scrapes. That is enough.

I received a lovely condolence letter from an older woman who had babysat me as a child and had sung at my wedding. She sent me the poem, Irish Blessing.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

My father read this poem at our wedding rehearsal dinner. I don't know if she remembered that or was even there, but it was very touching to receive that beautiful poem. I am thinking of reading it at my Dad's memorial in February. I have always appreciated things coming full circle.

Sunday ~ Tim and Dean wanted to return to their game play with The Wandering Swordsman. It was freakishly cold (at least for Southerners), so they bundled up and ran around for two hours of great exercise. Anne and I picked them up and headed for Starbucks with a gift card. As we were driving through an "up and coming" neighborhood (the same neighborhood that we had moved away from because of the crime), we witnessed a drive-by shooting! It all happened so fast. I don't even know what I realized first. We were approaching a car coming from the opposite direction when I realized it was stopped with one door open. There was smoke rising from the doorway and there were the pops of gunfire. They were shooting away from the street and toward a parking lot. In a flash, I realized that I couldn't stop or back up and that our best chance was to duck and drive like mad past the car. We made it by the scene and then called 911. Fortunately, the shooters missed their target. We found out that this was just one of three drive-by shootings on that street this week. The high housing prices for that neighborhood suggest that it has up and come, but I think not. To say the least, this has left us all a bit jumpy about loud noises this week.

Highlights and Resources from Our Week ~ We did our best to get back to a normal school day routine. I can't say it was smooth, but it was accomplished. We made it back to full schedule for in and out of the home learning. This really is a first since mid-December.

Anne finished Money Matters for Teens Workbook and we are considering returning to Life of Fred books. She always enjoyed them more than her brother had. Dean is 15 pages away from completing his Consumer Math workbook, Survival Math Skills, which has been all about balancing a check book, credit cards and all kinds of loans from car to mortgages. I am trying to decide which of the workbooks I bought for this year he will start next.

We received our latest Yum Yum box from Universal Yums. The snack box was from Germany this month, and they were mostly tasty. There wasn't anything too strange in this box. I love the fact sheet that is included in the box. There is always something new to learn.

We are really enjoying Hewitt Drew It Physics lessons on YouTube, which I stumbled upon recently. They go along perfectly with our textbook, Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt, which I found at a used book store. In fact, they are meant to go together. I love happy little blessings like that!

Classic games seem to be all the rage in my family this week. I think there is comfort in games we have played since childhood. We are certainly seeking comfort around here. We played many rounds of Sorry, Uno and Chess this week.

I am a rescuer of children's books. That sounds much better than "I am a book hoarder". I found these six at a library sale this week. My kids loved Tricking the Tallyman as children. I loved Izzy, Willy-Nilly as a teen and have been meaning to share it with them. It is especially timely with them moving closer to becoming drivers. I don't know the books by Avi and Alcott, but you can't go wrong with either author in our household. The other two books were on my kids' reading list. When I laid the blanket down so you all wouldn't have to see my ugly floor, my side kick thought it was for him. What a sweet boy.

We are about halfway through The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It is getting more interesting and I love the messages, but it hasn't been a very exciting read. Dean is halfway through Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a much more exciting story and we hope to finish it next week. (I am a few chapters ahead of him so we can discuss it.) Anne is on the last chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I am proud of her for sticking with the series even after I stopped counting them for school several books ago. Reading is a slow process for her (mild dyslexia), and she has read all seven books over the last two years. Dean also completed Who Was Roald Dahl? this week. He has kept up with reading one book a week from this series. They really are well written. I learn something new from every single book (again, I am reading the books, too).

Tonight we are having several teen friends over for a movie and pizza. Two of them will be staying overnight. I look forward to the laughter of teens ringing through the house. That is just what we need!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 18, 2019

Week 18 ~ Learning to Dance in the Rain

Image may contain: Dean Beasom and Susanne Cook, people smiling, people standing and indoor
July 3, 1948 to January 13, 2019...I will miss you, Daddy.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Anonymous 
My Dad certainly taught me this lesson time and time again throughout my life. He lived this quote repeatedly during his 13 year battle with cancer, whether he was tethered to an IV pole for many hours at home while he voraciously read or whether he took a break long enough for a small excursion. He kept dancing despite the rain. A treaty was called Sunday night and his spirit parted ways with his cancer ravaged body. We are thankful that he is now at peace but so sad to have lost him from our earthly lives.

This week was filled with life lessons that may not fit into my lesson plan books, but they are the real lessons that we all must learn. My children were amazing troopers through the last two weeks as we became aware of how serious my Father's condition was and traveled to Washington, DC to be at his side. I am amazed at how much they have grown and how well they dealt with an extremely difficult ongoing crisis day in and day out. All of the children said their goodbyes to Grandpa at his bedside and showed great strength and love to those around them. They listened to their bodies and used their voices to express when they could do no more and needed a break. They behaved themselves and sat in the very noisy hospital cafeteria for hours on end over the week (often by themselves). This is all very impressive when you consider the level of special needs that two of them have. They certainly rose to the occasion and all of those lessons that I have taught them about self care, sensory tools to get them through sensory overloading situations, patience, perseverance and grace have truly been assimilated into their brains. In addition, all three did a great job picking up the slack when others could do no more. I am so very grateful for my wonderful children.

One afternoon after a long visit to the hospital, we decided to go to a Starbucks in Washington, D.C. that is 100 % employed by deaf and hearing-impaired workers. Anne signed our order of four hot chocolates and two iced coffees. She was able to make the order flawlessly and really enjoyed interacting with the employee. It is marvelous to see her love of signing taking flight. She also ran into a deaf worker at Target and was able to sign what we were looking for and get directions to the right aisle. The video below is a snippet of her order at Starbucks.

I started reading Karen Andreola's new book, Mother Culture for a Happy Homeschool, before leaving on our trip. I just love this author and how she brings Charlotte Mason's philosophies to modern day life. In the chapter titled A Walk Will Do You Good, I found reinforcement that the walks my family takes together and apart are so important to our health. One quote really resonated this week. "Walking can level out a mood, relieve the doldrums, calm stress, soothe all vague perplexities." One of the light moments in this very heavy week was a chilly walk the morning after a fresh snow. We don't get nearly as much snow in our mountains as Washington, D.C. does, and when we do, the roads are a mess. With the lack of sidewalks in our hometown, walking along a snow covered road is sometimes dangerous. But the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area does a marvelous job of taking care of their streets and we had a lovely walk to a shopping center that ended with lunch at Panda Express and then another walk back to the house. It was definitely one of the stress relievers that was so desperately needed.
We are back home for a bit. We will return to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks for the memorial and to help clean out the very full four room basement that was my Father's man cave. It is filled to the brim with books, memorabilia, family photos and photography equipment. There is a great deal to untangle and organize. It will likely take more than one trip.

Since Wednesday, we have done some of our out-of-the-home classes and Anne returned to her part-time job. The rest of our hours have been filled with rest and processing our grief. I guess I needed a sense of control and organization, because I have spent hours reorganizing the linen closet that has been bothering me for more than a year. I have also been doing lots of laundry. It feels good to be busy but not overwhelmed. I am so glad that my husband and I agree on owning only the possessions we need or love. It makes for a much less hectic household.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Week 17 ~ Prayer Request

We are in Washington, D.C. My father is critically ill. The children are being wonderful and learning the hard life lessons of service, grief, making hard choices for others and relieving suffering from others. They are also learning self care in a crisis. Please pray for my father. He is in great pain and suffering.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 4, 2019

Week 16 ~ Delighting in the Positives

Our Christmas break was filled with great joys and a few deep sorrows. That is the nature of life. Tragedies and hard times don't stop just because of the holidays. Most of our hard times were around our estranged special needs daughter turning 18 and becoming legal guardian over herself. She is only capable of being her own guardian if she trusts her mental health team to help her make safe decisions. Unfortunately, there has been a huge breakdown in trust and communication within her team and a few key members were on vacation during her coming of age. All of these issues led to a breakdown in her services and a huge scramble on our part to try and right the ship even though we, as the parents of a legal adult, have almost no power. We did hear yesterday that she had signed the correct legal papers to put her mental health caseworker and the overseeing facility in charge of her life for one more year. This journey has been so very painful and the struggles ahead are still great. We are not sure how much we will know or be involved with those struggles, but we will continue to advocate from the side lines and pray, pray, pray. I have heard that young people with her mental health issues are especially hard during the teen and young adult years and hers have certainly been turbulent. However, being fortunate enough to be in a mental health system has been a huge blessing for her. The other hardship is that my Dad is very ill again. He has been in and out of the hospital over the holidays. He was put back in last night. They think something is wrong with his lungs (cancer, more fungus??), and that may be why he isn't getting better. Hopefully, we will know by the end of the weekend so that the latest fight in my father's decade-old battle with leukemia can continue.

But, there is much joy throughout the heartache. Here are a few favorite things from the last few weeks.

We had a wonderful time rollerskating. 
Image may contain: 3 people, including Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling, shoes, night and indoor
Dean does not have green hair -- he's just sitting under a green light!

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Anne's main Christmas present was tickets to a Lindsey Stirling concert. Only Anne and I attended, and we had a wonderful mother and daughter time.
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We had a lovely New Year's Day board game party. We had a big turnout with 16 people all laughing, eating and playing games. People were playing in different rooms throughout the house.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Laura Sheridan, people smiling, people sitting and people standing

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The latest book by Karen Andreola was released and my copy arrived in the mail last night! I can't wait to drink it all up. It is titled Mother Culture for a Happy Homeschool. It even came with an encouraging postcard of the painting, "Snap the Whip" by Winslow Homer, which was my kids' very first picture study years and years ago. I love all of her books.

On the school front, we got back to work this week and reentry hasn't been very hard. We are really in a good place with our lessons, so we aren't making any major changes. We are making only a few additions. For Dean's art course, we are streaming a new Netflix show called Fake or Fortune, which is about identifying real works of art from forgeries. Dean is starting the classroom portion of driver's ed online. Hewitt Drew It has been added to our physics lessons. Finally, we are making sure that we apply Charlotte Mason philosophies to all of our curriculum -- using short lessons, more narration, living books and lots of freedom to enjoy the beauty of art, music and nature.

Blessings, Dawn