Category Archives: Family

Posts about our family.

New Series! Homeschool Teens and Jobs

Homeschool teens and jobs can be so rewarding! I’m here to help with tons of tips!

Almost all of us remember our first job, whether they were really great, or really awful.  I landed my first job working the jewelry department at a department store at 15.  I was so proud of myself.  Now, two of my kids are working and number three is on the hunt.  We’ve learned a lot over the past several years, trying to balance homeschool, extracurriculars, jobs and social lives.  It wasn’t always easy, but we made it work.

I thought I’d share what we learned with you in a new blog post series, Homeschool Teens and Jobs.   Heres’s what I plan on covering for the next five Thursdays:

  • Balancing work, school, and extracurriculars
  • Where to apply
  • Interviewing
  • Things you and your teen should know about working
  • How to fit a homeschool schedule around your teen’s job
  • Teaching them to manage money
  • Dress for success
  • Responsibility-Asking my child to pay for things

Homeschool Teens & Jobs

Preview!  Next Thursday’s post will be all about applying, interviewing and landing that first job.  Stay tuned!

Do you have any other suggestions or ideas that you would like to know about having a teen working while homeschooling?  Let me know!

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Girl Talk Time: Hysterectomy

Time to talk about some girly issues for a moment and something very personal to me, a hysterectomy…

As I’m writing this all kinds of emotions are flooding me, anger, hurt, disappointment, fear and even some depression. I have found out that I’m going to have to have a hysterectomy. I should be throwing a party, right? Who doesn’t want to get rid of having their periods? They’re a pain, literally and that bloating, month after month. So why am I so hesitant and having all of these emotions while my friends are just like, “Yank that thing out!” “What’s the big deal?” I’m not really sure, if I was a little younger and thought that there was a possibility that I might want more children, then I would definitely understand what the big deal was. But I’ve been done having kids for quite some time now and I’ve come to learn that for myself, even after having problems since the very first visit from my little friend, and wishing that this would all go away, that maybe, I’m not as ready now that it’s a reality like I thought.

First of all, let me point out, I’m in no way a doctor and I can not and will not take the place of your doctor. Ok, disclaimer done!

There are so many emotions that have hit me when I found out that I was going to have to have one and to my surprise joy wasn’t one of them. I have been diagnosed with Adenomyosis. It’s like Endometriosis, but inside the muscle wall of your uterus. Yuck! And very painful. I have learned that a lot of what I’ve been suffering through for years (since my 20’s), lower back pain and painful, heavy periods was not normal. I thought it was normal. Aren’t we taught that periods are uncomfortable? It’s just a part of life, right? Apparently not.

I guess I just got used to it. I was busy with babies, and then kids, homeschool, teens and now young adults. I didn’t have time to think about it. Again, I just thought my periods were normal and I didn’t find out till recently that it wasn’t. If you have painful periods, or heavy periods, talk to your doctor. It may not be normal. We girls don’t take our girly health seriously at all. I went for years without going to an ob/gyn after my last daughter was born; I think probably about 10 years. So now, I’m experiencing all kinds of emotions like fear.

Fear is an easy one to start with. I’m fearful of having major surgery and yes, I know that makes me a bit of a wimp, but I don’t care. Fear of the recovery process and how much pain I might be in, but knowing I actually might be feeling better than I have in while. By the way, how am I supposed to finish up homeschooling this year when I’m stuck in bed? Ugh! I feel angry because, I’m mad that I must have surgery. Angry that my body has betrayed me. Anger that my husband doesn’t talk to me about my surgery except to ask when I’m going to schedule it (Please note, he’s a great husband, but he’s a man and sometimes they don’t understand girly stuff). Anger that I can’t bring myself to schedule a date. I’m angry because my daughter and I just got on a roll with homeschool again because she has to deal with EDS and it’s her senior year and I wanted it to be perfect.

I’m disappointed with myself, although none of this is my fault, personally. I hurt physically and emotionally. Although I have all the children I want, it’s the finality of it. I will NEVER be able to have kids again. And I’m totally frustrated because now I have to get everything together in advance to finish out homeschool this year and now everything else I wanted to do is shot. Like gardening, I wanted to have a garden this year. That’s shot! And I wanted to work on our addition and for me that’s shot! There are so many emotions and I wasn’t prepared for them. I’m still dealing with them and will be for quite some time.

I did find out that I’m not the only one that feels like this. I found an online support and information group for women going through a hysterectomy. I was so surprised by how many women grieve over it, like me and that it’s not being crazy, it’s natural. It is a process and I will get through it. Have you been through this? Have you had a hysterectomy? I will probably be blogging about my experience, as a way of helping myself, but hopefully it will encourage other women to get to their doctors and take their own girly health seriously. We can’t be supermom, if we’re in pain or sick. We have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our families and it’s part of setting a good example for own daughters.Blog Signature


Kicking Kidney Cancer’s Butt!

Just wanted to let all of you know that my husband’s kidney cancer surgery went great!  He had surgery last Thursday to remove a portion of one kidney that had a small tumor.  First surgery is now done and he can heal, then it’s one more surgery to go.  Next surgery they will be completely removing the other kidney.  He is doing great, in awesome spirits and not even hurting; a little sore, but very little pain.  Thank you so much for all the prayers! God’s Got This!

A Battle We Didn’t Expect-Cancer

All of us will face battles from time to time.  Most battles we can anticipate, but some come out of the blue.  Our family is facing a battle we didn’t expect-cancer.

2017 has started off with a bang for our family.  We thought last year was crazy with 5 surgeries in our little family; Becca had wisdom teeth surgery and rotator/labrum surgery, I had a hysterectomy and Emily had knee surgery and labrum surgery.  We should be done right?  Well, I guess not.  Now it’s my husband’s turn and we’re facing a battle we weren’t prepared for and a battle we didn’t expect.  My husband has cancer.

My husband has cancer.  Those are words I never expected to say.  They don’t even want to come out of my mouth.  But now I’m being forced to say them.  He’s being forced to say it.  Our kids are being forced to say it.  Not how we expected 2017 to begin, but here we go.  First I’ll tell you how we found out because it’s just a testament to how God works and how we could have easily missed it.

My husband, Todd, is only 50 and very active and healthy, so when he had a lump/knot thing come up on his shoulder-blade, me and a lot of doctors and nurses that he works with (he works at a hospital) encouraged him to see his primary doctor and get it checked out.  We all figured it just fatty tissue and nothing really to worry about.  His doctor decided to send him in for a scan just to check.  Everyone was right, it was no big deal, BUT, she saw tumors on his kidneys and immediately consulted with a Urologist and they both agreed it was cancer and it was aggressive.

He had to tell us, and I sat frozen for so long, unable to speak, or move.  I couldn’t even ask questions, or check on the kids.  I think I honestly went into shock.  Then fear hit me when I looked in his eye and saw this wasn’t a dream.  He took the news very well, he’s a rock that man.  The kids, well, I’m amazed.  I’m the one that’s freaking out!  Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of appointments.  Just so you know, he feels great!  No symptoms at all!  Which is the weirdest thing, because when people find out, they expect him to actually look sick, or feel sick, but he doesn’t.  Matter of fact, if he hadn’t had the lump come up on his back we would have NEVER known he has Kidney Cancer.  That lump saved his life!

In a  little over a week from now, my husband will have a part of one kidney removed, and then a month from that, he will have the other kidney completely removed.  All of the doctors we’ve spoken to, have said that he will be able to live a completely normal life after his surgeries and recovery, even will one partial kidney.  Totally blows my mind!  Just think about how many times we go in for physical, and they do blood work and everything checks out fine.  That’s what my husband has had, normal blood work!  It would never have been caught and one of his tumors is huge; covering 1/2 to 3/4 of the kidney.  Makes you wonder if everyone should have a head to toe scan every year to catch stuff.

So far, the hardest parts have been listening to my husband tell us the news and the waiting to find out what exactly we’re facing.  Waiting to find out, if I was still going to have a husband and a father for our kids.  Waiting to get to the specialist.  The fear of all of the unknown.  Telling other people.  Having other people look like they are going to break down, for you when you tell them or they ask how we’re doing, but you’re smiling because you have a secret that’s really not a secret to those that have faith.

From the moment he found out, my husband looked at us and said, “I’m not worried because God’s got this.” Whatever the outcome, He’s got this.”  That’s what we’ve been saying and that’s what we believe.  So when other people look at us like we’re crazy for not freaking out, or not falling apart (which I promise I have my moments and I know that all of us have at some time), we just tell them, God’s got this.  Does it mean this will be a cakewalk?  Of course not.  It just means, that He’s here with us.  It means, we’re ready to fight and he’s fighting with us.  It means my husband has a life to live and he plans to live it and be back on the lake fishing tournaments by spring!  It means that even though this is a battle that we weren’t prepared for, that God is already prepared for it and He’s got this.  We just have to trust Him.

Please be in prayer for my husband and our family.

God’s Got This!

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Need a Minute to Have a Mommy Meltdown

I’m going to apologize in advance for my meltdown.  I just want to act like a two year old for a minute.  I want to kick my feet and bang my head against the wall and scream not fair!

My daughter Emily, who is only 14, and has a disease called Ehler’s Danlos with Hypermobility Syndrome, now may have one more thing to contend with.  She already has reflux, asthma, normal allergies, skin sensitivities to all kinds of things, allergies to certain medicines and now may have an allergy to a food.  She is already allergic to tomatoes, crazy, I know.  Not a severe allergy but enough that it triggers her reflux which then aggravates her asthma.

The past couple of days she has been breaking out with hives and which each day they are getting bigger and more spread out and with a stronger reaction.  Since I already have one child with severe allergies (my son) I knew what this meant, get to the doctor.  Last night the place where the hives were, was as large as a volleyball.  Bright pink and full of huge hives.  We even snapped a pic on her IPod so we could show the doctor.  I highly recommend doing that because even though we didn’t get a great pic, it still was enough for the doctor to look at it and say, “Yep, that’s a food allergy!”

So today my baby girl had her blood drawn for the umpteenth time and now we wait to find out if it’s nut (been eating some nutty buddies), eggs, dairy, wheat, etc.  And I’ve been doing some research and found out that people with Ehler’s Danlos seem to be predisposition to have food allergies.  Go figure!

I was really hoping we were done with new things. Each person in my house already has some type of food allergy/sensitivity, but I was really hoping we were done with all of this.  Everything seemed to be cruising along, normal even.  It was really nice!  Please don’t get me wrong, I know that this is certainly not the worst thing in the world.  Simple even and could be 100 times worse.  But it is scary dealing with epi-pens and food allergies and I didn’t want her to have one more thing to worry about.  It already overwhelms her at times.  No child should have to go through illness, no matter what it is.

Ok, I’m done whining (I’m actually smiling now, really!)  Thanks for letting me vent.  I just needed to get it out of my system. Blog Signature


East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championship 2013 Fun!

If you ever get the chance to go and watch the East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championships, I highly recommend it!  We had a blast, but we do every year.  From watching both of our varsity teams, to goofing off at the hotel to eating out together, there is nothing like it.   It is the “school sports” experience we wanted our kids to have.  Here’s just a few of the several hundred pictures that we took.  This doesn’t even come close to all the pics the kids took on their IPods, IPads and phones!

My son Spencer #20 doing a great job and being tough!Liberty 2013

Me helping a friend’s mom with her daughter’s number. Please pay no attention to my hair.  We had a 10pm game the night before and had to be up early.  I was exhausted and it was a ponytail kinda day.  But you should have seen her a couple of days later, when the girls made the championship game.  I must find a picture of her!  She had a red curly wig, makeup, crazy red and black clothes.  She brought the spirit!Liberty 2 2013

This is homeschool sports at its best!  After the championship game, both teams huddled together for prayer.  What a way to close out the week and to show that yes, winning is amazing, but it’s the friendships and our walk that’s the most important.  After all God is the reason we can play so tough!Liberty 1 2013

I love snapping pictures of coaches talking to their teams.  The intensity on their faces and the players.  I got this one of our guys right before the game started.  They are hanging on his every word.Liberty 3 2013

The girls and their trophy!  They played so amazing and we are so proud of them.  They got to play in the Vines Center!  The Dome!  They fought hard and played with heart and placed 2nd.  Congratulations!Liberty 4 2013

The guys and their big trophy.  Wonder why they aren’t so happy?  It was a really tough game and they fought hard, but it just didn’t go their way.  It was a hard loss.  But they did get to play in the Vines Center under the dome and that was awesome! Congratulations!Liberty 5 2013

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Fans, siblings and friends! We laughed, we shouted, we argued a little with the ref’s, we ate, we stayed up way too late, but it was all worth it!  I love homeschooling and homeschool sports.

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What Rare Disease Day Looks Like to Me

Today is Rare Disease Day all around the world.  I never thought in a million years that this day would have any more significance than any other day, until this year when our daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease.  This is what Rare Disease Day looks like to me.

Rare Disease Day looks like my daughter Emily.  On the outside, you can not see her disease.  She is a beautiful girl, with a talent for volleyball and acting.  She will slide into a row of chairs and dig on the court to save a ball like no one’s business!  She will stand for hours acting and delivering her lines like a true actress even though she may be in pain. The show or the game must go on!  So on the outside, you wouldn’t know she has a disease that may eventually stop her from playing the sport she so passionately loves.  But she tries hard not to let it stop her from living a “normal” life. 

Emily’s story stared when she was 8 years old.  She had been a pretty normal kid up to that point, with the exception of already living with asthma and reflux.  She began taking gymnastics and loved it.  We had always teased her about her flexibility and joked with her that we were going to sell her to the Russian circus as a contortionist!  She can bend like crazy!  She was great at gymnastics and they even asked her to be on their competition team.  Then she sprained her ankle one day and just couldn’t seem to get over it; so we got her ankle braces to wear.  They helped a little, but eventually not at all.

As time went on, her ankles kept hurting.  She would have bruises all the way around her ankles and they would swell turn pink and get very warm.  We thought at first she was just re-spraining them.  Then her knees started to hurting and we thought growing pains.  After all, she was getting really tall.  This went on for a couple of years and we would go back and forth with ice packs, heat, Tylenol and doctor visits.  Most people told me it was growing pains.  Friends told me I was making something out of nothing, but the pain grew worse.  In my gut I knew something wasn’t right. She couldn’t enjoy the things she loved due to the pain.

Thankfully, our orthopedist had an MRI done, and we were sent to Duke Children’s Hospital.  After going there for a year, we got a name!  The doctor, nurses and staff all celebrated with us.  A name!  It means so much when you finally have something to work with.  That name was Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility Syndrome.  A big name that means she has a genetic connective tissue disease that effects the collagen, ligaments, tendons, muscles, skin and organs.  Pretty much everything! 

Now we are learning what it’s like to live with a rare disease.  It isn’t easy.  But it could always be worse.  Most of the time she is a normal teenager.   She plays volleyball, which I know could be damaging.  She has already dislocated her shoulder three times this year!  But she has to have something to look back on and say, “I loved doing this and I was good at it.” when she gets older.  She will determine when it’s time to stop and not me.  She hangs out with her friends; at least the ones that don’t look at her disease, but the ones that look at her.  She may pay for it the next day with swollen ankles, joints that hurt no matter what we do, and with pain medicine that feels like it’s not working some days.  But at least she had a smile on her face and got to forget for a time that she has a disease.

Some days, it’s just overwhelming for her; she doesn’t understand why she has this disease.  Days when she’s just sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Days when she doesn’t want to take her medicine because she’s sick of taking medicine.  Days when she just wants to be normal, no diseases anymore. No asthma, no reflux, no EDS!

It breaks a mother’s heart to know that your child has a disease; any disease or illness or injury.  But to know that you’re one out of 5,000 or 20,000 or even more is a little overwhelming.  Some days you feel it’s more than you want to deal with.  But, thank God for Him.  I know that He will see her and us through this.  He has a plan and this could always be worse.  This disease could always be worse.  So we pray and thank God and we pray for a cure as we and thousands of others pray that no more children will have to live with a rare disease.

Is it Anti-Christian to Cheer at Sports?

That is the burning question right now.  I love watching my kids play sports!  I have loved coaching sports and dance and working with kids.  I’ve been doing it for over 16 years.  But things are changing, not really with me, but around me. What was once passionate and fun is now dull and bordering on boring.  I still love the sports.  I still love watching my kids play them.  I still have a desire to coach, but that has now been severely tempered and in all reality, I may never coach again thanks to a very personal beating that my girls and I took this year.  But that’s a whole other story.

What I’m talking about is rooting for your team or child at a sporting event.  Team spirit!  Cheering loudly and passionately.  Wearing team colors.  Hanging banners and having spirit nights.  Not where you are screaming at your kid and telling them everything they did wrong, but loudly cheering, “Go team!, Go (insert child’s name).  And I’m not talking little kids here, but high school!  Is it wrong for homeschool teams to be cheered by their fans?  Now I’m not talking teams that are like recreation ball, but ones that are competitive school ball.  Although I don’t see a problem cheering loudly for either one! 

I see it everywhere.  The teams we played against used to be so passionate and so were we. It was so much fun!  Everyone cheered their hearts out.  Jumping up and cheering when the basket went in.  Everyone holding their breath and letting out a collective yell at the buzzer beater.  Stomping on the bleachers.  The teams actually asking the fans to get louder when we got quiet.  It was fun!  Win or lose the games were fun and both teams were still friends at the end of the game!  And now you could hear crickets chirp. There’s barely a golf clap when we win or when a good shot is made.

All of a sudden over the past two years, we have started being told it’s not Christ-like to cheer.  Parents are now being pulled aside or given dirty looks when they cheer.  It’s being told to our kids and team spirit is about non-existent.  Hardly anyone cheers anymore, whether it’s a simple “Go team!” or “Make good passes!”  Why is that?  What has happened?  Aren’t Christians allowed to be passionate about their lives and enjoy things?  Doesn’t God want us to enjoy things?  Is this another form of Christians bullying other Christians?  Or has the world just made us too afraid of everything?  What does this say to the parents that are new Christians, new homeschoolers, or the non-Christian parent?  Does it say that Christians or homeschoolers aren’t allowed to have fun? I really want to know. 

I know what it’s saying to the parents that are not returning to our sports because of this.  They are leaving because it’s not any fun and they wanted their kids to have the experience of a school team.  A huge part of a teenager’s life is the experience.  The experience of having something to root for, to cheer for.  Being part of something bigger than themselves and friendships.  Learning how to deal with success and failure.  I also know what it meant to a parent that spoke to me about it.  It said to them that we are judgmental (meaning judging the parents and kids that cheered) and not accepting at all of people that don’t fit with us (meaning the ones that won’t cheer) and that hurt.  Even though they weren’t talking about me personally (because I cheer), it hurt.  I hurt for them and their kids.  Are we turning them away?  Are we turning our kids away from enjoying things like sports?  What message are we sending them about Christianity?  I would love some thoughts.

This may actually turn into a series. I have a lot to say and a lot of thoughts on the matter too many for one post!  Wanna hear something funny? As I wrap up this post, I decided to turn on Pandora and what song do you think started playing?  “We Will Rock You” by Queen!  How appropriate!  I just had to laugh!

Photo Bombing Pets

Today Emily was making a recipe for my blog.  As she was cooking and I was snapping away with the camera, two of our pets refused to not be a part of the fun.  They photo bombed our shoot!  It was so funny.  You just never know what your pets will do next!photo bomb 1

Rusty our mini shepherd just has to get in on the action!  I think he’s worried he might not get a sample.  But he did!  He snuck into the kitchen tonight when no one was looking and stole a bite!phot bomb 2

This is our cat Tux and today he definitely wanted to be a part of the fun.  He is always in the kitchen when we cook.  Today he deserved some.  My son called me in a little bit of a panic.  Tux was sunning himself by balancing on the top of the control panel for the dryer which is right at a window.  Poor kitty lost his balance and fell between the dryer and the wall.  He was just fine though after Spencer rescued him.  A little dusty and scared, but thankfully fine.  Where was he later this afternoon when he wasn’t posing for the camera?  Right back on the dryer!  Silly kitty!photo bomb 4


Emily decided to give Tux some extra fun by letting him play “Whack-a- puppy”!  No worries though.  Tux is declawed and Rusty loves it anytime he can get the cats to play.  What a fun day! 

First Snow of 2013!

Winter Storm Helen hit and we got our first snow of the season! It has rained for days so this is a nice change.  Spencer had a basketball game last night when it started sleeting, then about 1/2 hour later it started snowing and the kids, I mean teenagers, went nuts!  It was snowing so hard and it was so pretty.  But in North Carolina if you don’t get up early, you miss the snow!  I did manage to get these pics but by 10:30 this morning it was all almost gone.

Ever wonder why we Southerners go grab the milk, eggs and bread from the stores when they call for snow? It’s because when we lose power from the ice on the power lines, we can make sandwiches and the eggs and milk are for making snow cream, which Emily made last night just in case it was our only snow of the year.

This was the view from inside our van after the game.  We stopped by our favorite place to grab a bite for supper.  It was snowing like crazy!IMG_3493

The kids wagon in the backyard was full of rain and completely frozen with ice.IMG_3496

Believe it or not all this was covered with snow until it rained again.IMG_3497

My poor little garden…IMG_3499

It’s almost all gone  It was really pretty earlier, but now it’s melting away.  Hard to believe it was really covered with snow.  Like I said you have to be early if want pictures of North Carolina snow and I was sleeping in.  Even homeschoolers take a snow day here!IMG_3500

If you believe the old wives tale, we will be getting a big snow soon.  We had thunder and lightening last night while it poured snow.  An thundersnow! Maybe I should stock up on milk, bread and eggs?