Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Write it on your heart



"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

It was a rough day, from the way I woke up to the way I can't sleep!  The universe just seemed to be working against me today.  I guess everyone has "one of those days" now and then.  They are never very much fun, but its always a chance to stay patient, kind & gentle even when things are hard.  Because anyone can be virtuous when life is easy, right?  ;)

Even on a day like this though, I know I have a wonderful life.  It is an incredible blessing to have my family, be able to homeschool my children, provide them with the basics and so much more, and have a warm place to call home.  I'm so abundantly blessed. 

Even when it means getting out of bed for twenty minutes, I really want to write something here each day.  I used to meticulously record each milestone for my first baby, and did pretty well with my second, and then third.  People told me that the memories and years and babyhoods would start to run together, but I don't think I really accepted that until the last few years. 

Rather than distinct recollections of who walked when or what year it was when we did this or that... it all blurs together in some abstract, beautiful kaleidoscope that I can't quite make sense of... other than to know, I was happy.  Even when I was battling mental illness, or struggling to pay the mortgage, or trying to fit way too many different lives into the one I have... I was happy.

Maybe that's the best kind of memory to have, after all.  :)

And now that I have placed all of that here, I think I can sleep.  Tomorrow is going to be the best day of the year, I've decided.  Each new morning is a new chance to make it so.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Guess Who's Back?


Do you know what I am thankful for? Homeschooling.

Yes, my friends & family... after a LOT of prayer, consideration, and a few professional opinions, we decided that Lucy would be a happier & healthier girl if we went back to homeschooling. She was absolutely thrilled.

This created a domino effect. Much to my SHOCK... Sophie presented a very good case for homeschooling again too, though she was the one who was most vocal about going to public school for the rest of her school career. LOL. She has so many other interests and hobbies that she wanted to spend her time on, instead of finishing her work in each class and then reading/drawing until the next one. She is so bright, even the Pre-AP class schedule wasn't challenging enough for her. And being the extremely mature young lady she is, she couldn't believe that her classmates act like a bunch of... gasp... KIDS. ;) So now she is happily working through her school day in advanced courses at home, and spending the rest of her time pursuing all of those other things that make her heart sing.

Next, Isabella begged to follow suit. She just loves to be with us, and how could I say no? She needs some extra help on spelling, but is ahead in other areas... so it is best for her to have a custom-tailored curriculum as well. And Ben... he is such an easy-going guy, he'd be happy anywhere. But he decided that he didn't want to be at school "alone."

So there you have it. I'm not teaching a co-op and I'm not scheduling photography sessions at this time, so our days are actually very manageable. I love our little family, and this path of education is the best fit for us. We are using an eclectic mix of homeschooling materials, loosely following MODG but I prefer more intensive science & math, so we are following different methods there. They have PE at the Y three days a week, and monthly field trips. They have private voice lessons, and swim classes. They are also VERY involved in dance several hours a week, as well as acting classes and performing company at our local theater.

We are so, so happy. It's like coming home after a very long and hard journey.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hello to my EDEL friends!

This little Instagram moment pretty much sums it up.

I saw that the "Who's Coming" page was up, and after adding you all on facebook and on my "blogs you follow" list, I decided to officially say hello!

I am so excited about this gathering, and also really nervous.  At any given moment, I never know which emotion is stronger.  :)  I'm excited because I can't wait to have a break.  I think it will be as refreshing as a retreat, and possibly the most fun I've had since Disneyworld a couple of years ago.  I love, love, love meeting new people, and the thought that the people I'm meeting are Catholic moms like me?  Even better!

I'm nervous because I will be leaving my nursing toddler for the first time overnight.  I'm also afraid that the couple of people I'm acquainted with who are going will already be hanging out with friends that they know much better, and that I will be lonely in a crowd.

I can't be the only one who is desperately wanting to connect and have fun... but also worried that she won't have anyone to connect with!  So if you are out there?  Let's talk.  I'm (relatively) normal, very friendly, love to laugh, will listen to you and fill awkward silences, and smile a lot.  :)

I'm a 33-year-old, first-year homeschooling mom of five (ages 2-11), living in the Houston suburbs.  I'm originally from Tulsa, OK and my husband is from Santa Fe, NM.  I converted to Catholicism (Easter Vigil '02) in college, because after a lot of searching, I was fascinated by Church history and apostolic succession.  I met my (also convert) husband at a Catholic retreat 10 years ago, so I have a pretty good track record with finding soulmates at these things.  ;)

I love to blog and have since 2003... but my daily posts have dwindled to monthly posts (if that) over the last few years, thanks to my busy days with five kids, taking two of them to various therapies, homeschooling, teaching at a hybrid school and owning a photography business.   My four year old is on the Autism spectrum, and she makes every day interesting and my two year old is working through some remaining developmental delays beautifully.  :)

I've been really sad lately, because we thought we were having a baby, but made a saint instead.  Our little Blaise Augustine has been enjoying Heaven since February, but it has been the hardest thing I personally have ever experienced.  I know he is there praying for us, but I want him here in my arms.  After some much-needed counseling by a wonderful priest, I'm healing.  But I've been very uncharacteristically down, withdrawn, and tired since then.

I'm going to try to focus on myself and my health this year, for the benefit of my family.  I've cut back on my outside obligations and promised Adam that I won't volunteer for anything new for at least a year.  I've given notice that I won't be teaching next year, and I got out of my photography studio lease early in effort to downsize my business.  I'll still be busy because, well, I have five kids that I'm homeschooling.  I'm also going to Mass a lot more.  I need the actual grace from Holy Eucharist to make it through the long weeks! :)

That's a proper introduction, I think.  Oh... did I mention I am long-winded?  ;)  Say hi!  I'd love to get to know you before I check out your crazy shoes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1

Why a Christmas photo?  Because I haven't posted it yet, of course.  ;)

Hello, blog.  I've been way too busy this month, cooking everything from scratch, getting strep throat followed by a kidney infection, being overwhelmed with my jobs (homeschooling/teaching/photography), and still grieving my sweet baby to be online much.  But I do like to write here when I think about it and have a moment.  It's important to me.

Our meal plan has been really, really hard.  And then I got sick.  So... it hasn't been perfect.  Life demanded that we re-evaluate.  We are sticking to gluten-free, especially because my darling Ben has DEFINITELY had immediate, very unpleasant reactions to grain.  It runs in Adam's family, and I think he definitely has Celiac's disease.  We also have done completely away with preservatives, dyes, and MSG,  We aren't eating soy, and only WHOLE corn... not HFCS.  But we are eating dairy.  I think it will get easier when I am not working away form home anymore.

I had the wonderful experience this weekend of attending the Houston Catholic Women's Conference as their photographer... I even got a name badge.  ;)  I saw so many old friends, and even met a couple of new ones.

By far, the most wonderful thing about the day was that I got to talk with a priest about Blaise.  They had Confessions set-up, and I ended up getting a mini counseling session for a good 20 minutes.  I poured my heart out about what I've been thinking and feeling, and I got some very good advice, and prayer, and peace.  It hurts, and it will always hurt.  But talking with Father was very healing.

My body is still so out of whack, hormonally and with all the sinus/respiratory stuff.  I have another appointment tomorrow, and I am honestly dreading it.  Sometimes, I think I am just too broken to be fixed!  But I am praying I can be well.  I have been feeling SO much better in the last 2 months than I've felt in the previous 2 years.  

Today was hard, and it isn't really even worth getting into here.  But I will simply say, that for every time I surprised by how careless & cruel some people can be... I am equally surprised & comforted by how amazing, loving, compassionate & supportive others can be.  I have some really, really good friends.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Us on a Diet

Bye-bye, food dye!

Life has changed for the Wheeless family.

For various reasons, we have put the family on an elimination diet.  Bella & Ben for possible milk, corn, soy allergies... Ben for possible Celiac's disease... Lucy's autism spectrum disorder &anxiety diagnosis that we are hoping to help by eliminating MSG, food dyes, and preservatives.... Adam & I for weight and health concerns.  Alice & Sophie are along for the ride.

We started out with grand ideas of the Whole30 plan, then relaxed a bit to just plain Paleo.  After spending way too much at Whole Foods and tripling our grocery bills, I decided to add in rice, potatoes and legumes for budget reasons AND because researching the heck out of everything convinced me that being imperfectly healthy is better than being perfectly unhealthy.  ;)

So what would you call it?  I guess "clean eating" and an elimination diet to try to pinpoint allergies AND to get them under control.

Right now, we are all off of gluten, corn, soy, dairy, MSG, food dyes, artificial preservatives/nitrates.  We are eating meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and rice in their most natural forms.  Basically, we aren't eating things that come in a box.  ;)

I am tired.  Shopping and cooking in a whole new way (that is a lot more expensive and time consuming, but very necessary!) while dealing with food-related meltdowns & tantrums (the two little ones) and disappointment & pickiness (Ben & Bella) is wearing me out.

It is my Lenten sacrifice though.

I am done doing what is easy and killing ALL of us slowly.  I'm done caving to my sweet kids because I feel bad that they are disappointed.  For the next 40 days (at least) we are cutting it ALL out, and we are going to slowly reintroduce certain foods to see if we can figure out what is the root of the problem.  I am pretty sure we will be permanently off of gluten, and definitely not letting my kids anywhere near MSG, food dyes, corn syrups, etc for life.  

It hasn't been easy, and we are just getting started!  I think I will be so glad though that I finally put in the research, time effort, and money to get this family on the road to a healthier life.

In other news, I am still very up and down about losing my sweet Blaise Augustine.  I still can't believe it happened.  Some days,  I feel okay and other days, it is so fresh & raw that I just wish I could crawl in a hole and be alone.  The good news is, I have an amazing support system and take a lot of joy in the kids I have on this side of Heaven.  

I can't run away from it... it is something I have to get through day by day, minute by minute.  I tried to bury it under being busy, but it just resulted in a full scale epic meltdown.  Now that Adam is back from Atlanta and my hormones have settled somewhat, it is time to really talk and pray my way through the grief.  

It's the hardest thing I have ever done.    

It makes this new way of eating seem like a piece of cake.  A gluten-free, soy-fre, dairy-free, corn-free, organic cake.  ;)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finality


It was a hard day.  I was feeling very sad... missing my baby Blaise and wishing I could still have him.

I woke up this morning, feeling pretty good.  I felt rested, for the first time in... wow, two years or more.

My health is improving so rapidly.  It makes it almost more difficult... knowing it wouldn't have taken THAT much time or effort to be well, so I could have carried my baby safely.  I am up to 80% lung function already.  My wheezing has decreased by at least 50%.  I'm actually able to sleep without waking in scary coughing spells all night... I have much more energy.

Oh, how I wish I would have taken better care of myself and not let my lung issues/asthma get so far out of control over the last couple of years.  I would do anything to go back and fix this.  

I had the final confirmation from my OB... I am no longer producing HCG.  My pregnancy is truly, truly over.  I know how illogical and silly it is... but I was still hoping somehow with the most childish of fantasy thinking, that there would be some miracle and I would still have Blaise growing inside my womb.  I had it all envisioned so prettily... the doctor would say my levels were so high and I needed a second ultrasound... then, she would see my little baby growing and everything would be okay.

It is truly, truly over and done.  And my heart is broken all over again.

I may be a little unusual in my grief, though.  Seeing other babies doesn't make me sad.  I want to hold all of them, and I do every chance I get.  Being around other babies is healing to my heart and soul.  I don't feel jealous or angry... I feel happy that there are so many beautiful babies in my life.  

I just wish mine could be here this summer, too.

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14th


My sweet, sick Alice made a Valentine card for the very first time for her therapist, Claire, on Wednesday.  I had to use this as my daily photo, for obvious reasons.  She did the coloring and stickers all by herself, and was so proud!  She shouted "Happy Vawentime!" to Miss Claire when she saw her.  My little big girl saw Lucy making Valentine's Day cards, and was not going to be left out.  :)

Our actual Valentine's Day involved more housekeeping, a little bit of schooling and a whole lot of playing.  Daddy came home early, and we exchanged some cards & treats, and had dinner at Red Robin.  Our kids had a grand, loud time.  ;)  After dinner, we had family movie night and just enjoyed each other.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13th


Everything looks a little better through clean windows.  :)

Mama of Many Tip:  When a child asks to clean, let him clean.  It doesn't matter if it is perfectly done or conveniently timed.  Take advantage of the help while they are offering.  ;)  Make sure you tell them how much you appreciate the help.

We've been doing a lot of cleaning.  When I am feeling sad or angry (which I have had a lot of lately) I just get to work.  The house is looking better by the day.  

Since my parents are still here, Adam & I had the opportunity to sneak off for a pre-Valentine's Day date.  We always have a lot of fun together.  I'm really proud of how he is doing at work.  I know this new position means he has a lot more responsibility... it takes away some of his flexibility and involves much more frequent travel... but the raise is much-needed.  

It's nice to feel appreciated, no matter how old you are.  :)  


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12th


My beautiful, giving Mama came over today while I had my first (of many) follow-up with the doctor.  I came home to a load of laundry washed, folded, put away and the breakfast dishes done.  The big kids were playing while Alice & Lucy were enjoying "The Little Mermaid."  

Have I told you lately how much I love my Mama?

My lung function is improving, slowly but steadily.  I am taking medications around the clock, waiting for the day I can laugh without coughing.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11th


Ben wanted to show me his sadness.  He wanted this baby so much.

Me too, buddy.