Autumn Update

Things are going well on the home front. We’re back into the swing of things with homeschooling. Our studies are heavy on the history this year. We are studying Canada from the beginning right up to the present day and we are also studying the middle ages. I am trying to add a lot of hands on work as well as the children miss that. We are still using Further Up, Further In for English and enjoying the study of the Chronicles of Narnia. It is likely that this full curriculum will take us another TWO years, though. We move at a much slower place than the manual and look into things in more depth. Beyond that, we’ve been able to move from our summer studies in science to the Ecology I hoped to get to and that is going well, mainly due to the Wild Kratts, as the material is a little advanced for most 3rd-4th graders, but Morgaine and Ruadhan are both following along well because they have an EXCELLENT basis in animal behaviour and habitats. Beyond that, there’s math, and that’s pretty much the same ol’, same ol’. I keep thinking I’ll make a fun math Friday as my teachers in school sometimes did, but I haven’t actually gotten there yet.

Things are going well at Mike’s work. He’s was actually able to take a real vacation this year for the first time in years. It was nice to have him home, and have him really be present. That’s the beauty on  a 9-5 job that shuts off when you leave the office. He did, of course, stay busy with some other courses he is working on, but that’s alright. We had a little one with us for a couple weeks before she went back to her owner. It was fun to have Mike home the whole time the little one was with us, though. He was quite the doting “father”. We went on a VERY quick trek to Sydney Mines, cleaned like mad, and came home (all within 24 hours!). Other than that, we hung out and things were pretty quiet. It was just nice.

Things on the soap making front are going well. I sold pretty much every autumn soap I intended on selling and am hard are work on labelling my winter soaps. There are a couple that smell so yummy that I CANNOT wait for people to try. Beyond that, I’m not up to anything very exciting. We’ve realized that Cyndi is quite agile (before our wee guest she was a lazy bum) and I’m hoping to start working with her on basic agility commands with the hopes of joining the agility club in Moncton in the spring. After our friend went home we decided that Cyndi (and maybe the family) needed to have a permanent playmate (of our very own) and we found a lovely (giant) puppy to join us. Our family is very much complete and we are very happy (so any naysayers, don’t bother, please).

We’re doing some renos on our home that will be beneficial if we stay here and beneficial if we decide to sell. We will see what the spring brings.

All in all, we’ve gotten into the groove and are doing well. We’ve set up some boundaries and we are rocking it. Living our lives as a wee family in the way that we want.

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The Hardest Peace ~ Review and Giveaway

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.21.27 PMI’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about grace. I’ve written about grace some. Despite all my thinking and trying grace is a state that alludes me most of the time. When I was given the opportunity to review Kara Tippetts’ book The Hardest a Peace – Experiencing Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard. If this woman could find grace in the midst of a terminal cancer diagnosis, I could certainly find a glimmer of something to help me find grace in the midst of my significantly less difficult hard.

This book was written with a whole lot of honesty and tenderness and I appreciated the depth of Kara’s sharing. She didn’t hesitate to tell it like it was, but she did so with grace and dignity. The passages that she chose to share from the Bible or other sources highlighted what she was trying to say perfectly. It was the second to last paragraph in the book that really got me, though. I won’t share it all as I would love you for you to see it’s beautiful for yourself, but it came down to the fact that there is only love. That is something that has been told to me. It is something that I am trying to live. To live in love, and Kara is doing it beautifully and with grace. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to read her story.

Here’s a little bit more from the publisher:

Kara Tippetts knows the ordinary days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow…and the devastating reality of stage-IV cancer.

In The Hardest Peace, Kara invites readers to see the grace of the everyday in all seasons of life and to live well even when the living is hard. This book is an invitation to join her in moving away from fear and control and toward peace and grace. Just as the thousands of people who read her blog know, Tippetts explores the hardest questions of life with rare beauty and honesty. Most of all, she draws them back to the God who is present, in the ordinary and the suffering, and shapes every life into the best story of all.

About Kara:
Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, have four children and are planting a church in Colorado Springs, CO. Cancer is only part of Kara’s story. Her real fight is to truly live while facing a crushing reality. She blogs faithfully at mundanefaithfulness.com.

Follow her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/tippetts
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mother_to_many

If you would like to win a copy of this book all you need to do is leave me a message stating so (how easy is that?). I will choose a winner at random on the 25th of October at around noon.

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

World Mental Health Day – October 10th

October 10th was World Mental Health Day – a day to bring awareness to the struggles of those with mental illnesses and a day to talk about initiatives to support the mental health of individuals around the world. I wanted to post something, but I didn’t.

Having mental illness is a little bit like hanging off the edge of a cliff and having to search everyday for a reason to keep holding on.

For the last while the reason has been the promise that we will do everything possible to move into a community where the children and I will have the opportunity for richer social interactions. We’ve chosen a community that fits with out values and we visit every opportunity we get. We walk along the trails. We talk to the townsfolk. We visit the park and the library. It feels like a place to raise a family.

We went to Cape Breton last week – to our old home. It hit me that I would never move back there. That is terrifying. It felt familiar and safe, but it isn’t home anymore. It’s actually a bit of a sad, sad town. There’s a lot of poverty. A lot of pain. A lot of boarded up houses. It hurts my heart to be there and not be able to reach out. It’s a town that needs love – so much love. Love that can breathe life back into places of despair.

With the realization that we weren’t ever going back there came the panic of knowing we would be going somewhere else. We cannot stay where we are forever. We feel confident that we’ve found our forever town. It has everything we could possibly want including a top rated undergrad university specializing in areas where both of our older children excel. There are farmer’s markets and an abundance of the arts and academics that make me feel alive and part of something even if I’m only sitting at a coffee shop listening to those around me. It could be an absolutely amazing move for us.

However, there is fear.

Paralyzing, feels like I can’t breathe, fear. Mental illness is like that. I know that my family will be better off when we move. There will be so many more opportunities for us. My husband will spend significantly less time travelling to work so we will have more time together. The chaos that comes with his arriving home in the evening will be lessened as even 30 minutes makes the difference between a peaceful meal or trying to eat with an overtired melting down four year old. There will be classes for the children. There  will be people to talk to. We’ll finally have community. But mental illness will still be there…..

I won’t feel good enough…..never remotely good enough.

I’ll feel like I am failing my children and wonder everyday if I’m messing them up.

I will be so painfully shy that it hurts. I’ll think that everyone is judging me. I’ll struggle to make eye contact because doing so allows people to see me. I’ll desperately want to be invisible.

I’ll cry. I’ll scream. I’ll want to run away. I’ll look for reasons to hang on.

Mental illness will be waiting there. I could have everything I could possibly want and depression and social phobia would still be there. That’s just the way mental illness is. I’ve spent the majority of my life running. However, it always catches up with me and grabs hold. I’ve made huge strides from my late teens. I’m vocal now and will clearly state what I need without being destructive. I talk. I reach out and I will be okay.

There are many that don’t and are so very alone. Even reaching out doesn’t mean you will get help sometimes. While people want to help, the few services there are have mile long waiting lists (I am sitting on a few). It’s impossible to find a family doctor. Natural remedies can cost  a small fortune. There really isn’t always support in the community because there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. It is kept hush hush. There are whispers of people on “stress leave” or “having a burn out” like it is a weakness and not a sickness. No one really knows what to say.

There’s still work to be done. It’s time to stop running. It’s time for everyone to stop running and time to actually start listening to see where you can make a change and reach out. It’s time for a change and you can be a part of it.