Thursday, April 26, 2012

Updates from the Babler House

Wow!!  It's been a very long time since I wrote anything on this blog.  Life has surely run away with me in the last year or so.  This school year began with the passing away of my Dad (on Labor Day), and the school year never really recovered from all that.  I am hoping over the next few months as summer approaches to revive this blog and update it (pictures and all :-)).  We will be starting some new things next year and I would really like to share our experiences with all of you.

 One big change for next year is that Owen (our oldest) will be coming back home again after a year and a half in a private Christian school.  We can no longer afford to send him there, and we feel God is leading us to bring him home again for next year. I will also be adding Lily to our school days next year which will bring me up to 6 formal school kids and one 3/4 year old and a toddler.  As crazy as it may sound, I am actually excited about the challenge of next school year.  It will hopefully be the first school year we've had in awhile where we haven't had a pregnancy, new baby, sick parent, or any other major distractions to keep us from staying on track.  Let's hope anyways that this will continue to be the case into next school year.

Another change from recent years is some health issues that I have been diagnosed with.  During my pregnancy with our youngest I was diagnosed as having Hypothyroidism.  I had hoped that after she was born this would be something that would go away, but so far it's still hanging around.  I keep that under control with daily medication...but I was also recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and I am still working on learning how to keep that under control.  These things have brought challenges to our homeschool, but have also required me to keep my focus on the Lord on a daily basis.  It's been a good reminder that Jesus should be our source of strength daily, not just when we feel like calling on Him.

So, stay tuned in the next few months as I work on updating this blog, and keeping everyone in the loop about what's happening here at the Babler house!  

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Week in the LIfe...

In my life this week...

This has been a really busy week.  We started baseball practices for two of our boys this week.  Riley and Ethan both started Little League last year, and are continuing for this year.  Riley is in the majors, and Ethan is in the minors this year.  Between the two of them this month, we have practices every evening during the week, and on Saturday mornings.  This will go on through June, and makes me wonder why we do this to ourselves.  I do feel that the boys gain some valuable things from this experience, and Riley in particular always uses his time in baseball to be a witness to other boys, so we plug on...

I have also made a decision to work on my own ungratefulness and negativity, and can hopefully in turn, change the tone of my entire household.  I started a journal of Blessings that I am journaling here, that is helping me remember my blessings and the good things in life.  I am praying that I will continue this and keep remembering all that God has done for me and how eternally grateful I am.  

In our homeschool this week...

Pretty typical week this week for homeschooling.  The kids are playing a little bit of catch up with their subjects.  I made a proclamation this week as we come towards the end of the school year this year, that they really focus on Math and English, and everything else will still get done, but not be a priority.  I want to see them be at a certain spot by the time the school year ends.  

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

See all the time!! Lots of little boys in baseball clothes trying to catch, run, and hit a ball for hours on end!  We did have both of our Dad's over for dinners on last Friday and Saturday nights.  We were glad to be able to do that.  

My favorite thing this week was...

I can't remember what night it was, but one night this week, Annie slept through the night from 11:30 to 7:00!  She hasn't done it since...but it sure was nice for one night of sleep!

What's working/not working for us...

I'm having difficulty with my two little girls who are 2 and 3.  During the time I spend feeding the baby, they are running a tad wild.  Admittedly, I end up doing way more shouting at them than I would like.  It's definitely not working for me.  During another long pregnancy, my little girls became far too untrained, and we need to spend some time retraining them to behave even when mommy is busy with the baby.  I did discover this week that they really don't like being made to sit on their that's been working for me in the last week.  I used to do this often when my 3 oldest boys were littler, but have gotten away from it in recent years.  Funny thing is, they may not stop jumping on the furniture when they are told, but when I say go to your bed, they go right away (big crocodile tears and all!).  They are released from the torture whenever they are ready to ask mommy's forgiveness and obey.  

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

What do you DO with toddlers/preschoolers when you are homeschooling AND have a baby to feed every three hours.  You would think with 8 children, I would be the one with all the answers on this, but it seems everytime I try something new to keep my little ones out of trouble when I'm busy with something lasts a couple days before it no longer works.  I also now have two destructos only a little more than a year apart, which is presenting a special challenge to me.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
The Bible

Click here on the Homeschool Chick, to read more Journals and get to know some other homeschool moms a little better!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thankfulness Revisited

                      Lately, I have been focused on going back to a place where I once was.  In days gone by, I feel as though I was a pretty grateful person.  As the past few years have been wrought with trials and loss for our family, I think I have slowly been turning into a discontent, always waiting for the next bad thing to happen. This attitude has left me focusing more on the negatives in my life, and not nearly enough on the many...MANY blessings that God has bestowed upon me and my family.

                     Not long ago I came across this blog, written by Ann Voskamp.  This is the kind of blog that you can't just read one article and be done.  You find yourself sitting for a half hour or more, just pouring over it.  Ann Voskamp is the author of a fairly new and very popular book called One Thousand Gifts.  This book is much like what it sounds, a call to remember and journal the many gifts that God has given you..1000 to start with.  Although I haven't read the book myself yet, I have been so convicted by the idea, and the many calls to gratefulness that you will find in her blog.

                   I've decided that I want to do this myself.  I want to begin to journal the many blessings that God has given me, and just generally focus on them in my life.  I want to remember Philippians 4:8 in my life.  To think on things that are lovely, true, good, noble, praiseworthy.  I decided to start a small seperate blog, and not limit myself to one thousand (or concern myself with whether I get to that number), but simply work on adding thoughts/pictures/quotes, anything that reminds me of what I have and what is good in life.  If you are interested in sharing this with me, you can find my journal at

                   I find the more I focus on the good things, the more the bad fades into the distance, and the more I am able to tolerate the negatives in my life.  I know that God will direct my paths if I acknowledge Him in everything, and remembering His gifts in my life, is one certain way to do that.  I hope that if you haven't thought about this recently, you will be inspired to do the same as I have, and start journaling the gifts and the things that are good in your life.  It can only make you more Christlike, and give you more joy!  I'd say those are two pretty good reasons to start today!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Blessings

The house is eerily quiet this morning.  Although my youngest children would normally be up already with loud requests for breakfast to begin, it's only me, the baby, and my oldest who goes to a Christian school nearby, who are up.  I'm pretty sure that Owen and I would both be back in bed ourselves if we were able to do so.  

I was pondering what on Earth would make my children sleep in so late this morning, and then it hit me.  Yesterday it was 85 degrees where we live, and me and the kids spent the entire afternoon in between services outside playing and enjoying this brief preview of summer.  I think everyone is pretty worn out this morning from such an active (and hot!!) day yesterday!  The nightime was topped off with some cooling storms that I'm sure has made it easier for the little ones to sleep.

Of course, I had to be out yesterday taking some snapshots of my children's playtime.......

                  There was swinging....

                                              and some baseball...

                     My little girls love to play baseball....
 and tennis....

            My five year old loves to bring me things...

  These were fuzzy plants that he found...(they are still tucked into my pocket for safe keeping).

        I enjoyed the outdoors, with the birds at the birdfeeders.....

                                   unfortunately none were posing for pictures at the right times...

                       Even the baby enjoyed a nap on the deck...

    So many blessings to this day yesterday, including the blessing of kids who want to sleep in this morning.  I so look forward to Sundays like this in the future.  Although nightime storms overnight have cooled things off quite a bit,  I know that the summer is just around the corner....and I can't wait!! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Hard Road

I have shared briefly in the past that I am a caretaker for my Dad who has pancreatic cancer.  For the past two years, I have been taking him to various chemo and radiation appointments, spending countless hours in the hospital with him, and just generally trying to be there for him at home and help with what he needs.

Three years ago my mom died very suddenly of a stroke.  On the one year anniversary of mom's death, we discovered Dad had pancreatic cancer.  He had been feeling sick, and having a few other wierd symptoms like dark urine and itching all over.  He went to see his family doctor, who sent him home with some antacids, and a wait and see attitude.  The next weekend when Dad came to eat dinner with us on a Saturday night, he was yellow!  I took him to the emergency room, and that is where the journey began.  Shortly after that he had a surgery to remove the somewhat small tumor that he had in his pancreas.  I'll never forget the surgeon coming out and telling us that it turned out this small tumor was wrapped around a main vein, and that he would not be able to remove it.  He gave Dad 3-6 months to live.  We took Dad to an oncologist as soon as possible, who said that with chemo and radiation, they may be able to shrink it off the vein, and then do the surgery again.  Months later, after a whole summer of chemo and radiation appointments, it turned out the cancer had been shrunk off of the vein.  Dad was then scheduled to go down to Indianapolis for another very long surgery.  This time they were successful in taking out all the tumor.  Following that, Dad continued to have about 6 months of "preventative chemo" which ended in a bad bout of pneumonia, which he got through.

We believed that Dad may very be one of those in the vast minority, who would beat this cancer.  The statistics for pancreatic cancer are pretty intimidating!  We were praising the Lord for Dad's recovery.

Just when we thought Dad may have this beat....he began to have shortness of breath back in October.  Rob's mom had had a stroke in August, and we were spending a lot of time at the hospital with her and the family.  She unfortunately passed away on October 14th, and Dad had a PET scan result appointment the next day.  It came out clear, showing a tiny bit of fluid around his right lung.  The doctor didn't make a big deal out of this at all, so we left feeling good about another "clear" appointment.  I was so grateful to God for not giving me bad news just one day after the death of my mother-in-law.  However, this good news wouldn't last long.  Dad's shortness of breath got worse, and he ended up in the ER again.  He was admitted with something called a pleural effusion, which would shortly be discovered to be the return of his cancer into the pleural space of his lung!

The oncologist described to us that these cancer cells had been there all along, resisting the chemo that he had post surgery, and just waiting to wreak havoc.  Dad was given 6 months to live without chemotherapy treatment, and maybe a year- possibly a year and a half, with chemo.  Dad has chosen to go the chemo route.   It's been five months of chemo so far, with one scan that showed the cancer has maintained, but not spread yet.

Since Dad started chemo, he has just been a mess of health issues.  He has been to the hospital numerous times for various issues (anemia, kidney stones, severe vertigo), and to have his lung drained.  He is having his lung drained now every 2-3 weeks, to keep him from being so short of breath.  He also complains of almost constant stomach pains, and pains in his side that he takes medications for, especially at night.

For the most part, I feel I have dealt with this new diagnosis pretty well.  I originally felt that Dad had already beaten the odds time wise, and I thought back to when he was first diagnosed and had been given 3-6 months, yet had been with us for 2 more years!  However, in recent weeks, as Dad seems to be declining in his health....I've begun to struggle more emotionally with the whole thing.

I trust God that His timing is right in all of this, but it is becoming very difficult for me to see my Dad go through all of this.  He is still  upbeat a little more than half the time, but he just looks old and sickly, and often struggles with the fact that the chemo is causing him so many more problems than it did in the past.  He is on oxygen at home now, and I think that just adds to my struggle with what he is going through.  It is really beginning to hit me that things will only get worse from here, not better.  I'm beginning to realize that he won't be around to see our children continue to grow.  It's really hitting me hard that before too long now, both my parents will be gone.  They will both be rejoicing in heaven with the savior, which is a wonderful thought on one hand.  But, selfishly....I will no longer have parents (or grandparents) alive on this Earth.  It's a lonely and sad thought!  I really struggle with the idea of selling the house that I grew up in.  The house that still has so much of my mom in it.  I  really struggle with the realization that I may not be able to facilitate Dad staying at home to die when that time comes.  I know this is what he wants, but I'm not sure we can logistically work that out for him.  I struggle with seeing him in pain, and seeing him suffer in the months to come (however many there will be).  I wish there was some way to fix it, and make things right again, but I know there is not. We still pray for God's healing, but we realize that this may be a complete healing, by him going home to be with Christ (and mom).

It's hard to see how the older kids still struggle so much with the loss of their grandmas, and now they will be facing the loss of their grandpa as well.  The little ones will never even remember him, as they won't remember Rob's mom or my mom.  They will have to rely on stories from their older brothers and sisters about what it was like when all their grandparents were alive and a very regular part of their lives.

If you are reading this today, and are a believer in the power of prayer.  Please pray for our family as we continue to deal emotionally and logistically with this horrible cancer, and face the seemingly inevitable loss of my Dad.  Pray that I will be able to find a way to keep him at home even when things get really rough. I will share on occassion what is happening with Dad, and will maybe sometimes vent about my feelings about what is happening.  If you are, or have had a sick parent that you have had to take care of, I would love to hear from you about what you went through, or are going through. I would love to pray for you as I'm sure you are dealing with many of the same things that our family is going through in this.

I take great comfort in knowing that my parents will be with the Lord, and we will see them again someday in glory, but today....I'm just feeling the load of emotions that goes with the loss of a parent.

Friday, April 1, 2011

All Things New- Things I Wish I Had Known

For those of you who are fellow homeschoolers, you know that this is the time of year when we start thinking about new curriculum.  It's a time to think back over what we have done throughout the year, and what worked for us and our kids..and what didn't!  If you are like me, you find yourself being sorely disappointed if there isn't at least something new that you need for the next school year.  Few things are as fun and exciting to me as perusing catalogs and websites to find that "perfect sounding" curriculum that will revolutionize your homeschooling experience and have your children begging for more school work!  

Of course, we often get those wonderful boxes of curriculum and tear them open with glee (us and the kids).  At my house, the first 5 lessons will be done, or the first two chapters will be read before we even go to bed that night...despite my pleas to save the work for next school year!  Then once the curriculum is started, and we get a couple months into it, we realize with dismay that what we thought was going to revolutionary is actually wrought with problems for our family.  Either there is too much planning time for mom, or the material is too difficult, or  any number of reasons why we have come to realize that this material that we were sure was "the one"...actually wasn't!

I have been homeschooling for almost 8 years now, and already, on several occassions have ridden this curriculum roller coaster with my kids. Just when I think I've found what is going to make everyone happy, and make my kids the smartest ones on the planet..reality sets in!   Then, we start getting down on ourselves.  We have wasted money, wasted time for our kids, and gotten emotionally attached to an idea that wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  So...what causes us to do these things?  I have some theories, based on my own experience.  None of these theories may apply to you, or maybe all of them will...I don't know.  

When I first started looking into homeschooling, I, like probably everyone else, was overwhelmed with all the choices out there.  One of the first curriculums that I looked at was one that I thought had a wonderful Godly philosophy.  The main focus of this curriculum was Unit Study.  I was in love with the idea of doing Unit Studies (I really still am!).  Although I never did purchase this actual curriculum....I felt that Unit Study was what I HAD to do.  I also read a book called "The Things We Wish We'd Known", a compilation of seasoned homeschoolers who talked about what they wish they would have done differently.  It seemed that almost every person in the book talked about not doing school at home, but doing things in more of a unit study type fashion, or having your children direct their own education based on their interests.  This sounded like a wonderful idea, and I took it on as my very own philosophy of homeschooling education.

So, where was the problem?  The problems came after about 6 years of doing mostly unit study type curriculum, when I realized that no matter what I tried...I couldn't make it work for our family.  Things started out pretty well when my first couple of boys were young, and we read a lot of books together, and had the time to study together.  However, as I added two more students and  continued to add a new baby to the family every couple of years...I couldn't keep up with the planning required with Unit Study materials.  But, instead of considering a change, I just tried to figure out solutions to fix the problem and still maintain MY philosophy.  

I went on this way for a couple more years, living in total stress and chaos, because some days I would have some material ready for all the kids to study, and other days I wouldn't.  I couldn't figure out how to make it work so that we were being consistent, and not doing "school at home" (which in my mind was a downright sinful thing to do based on what I had read!).  

This all changed one day when I read an article written by Terri Maxwell of Titus 2 Ministries.  You can read it here  The article was about schooling with textbooks, and why it is sometimes the best option for a family despite how negatively it is looked upon in homeschooling circles.  Reading this article was God hitting me over the head with a two by four!  At first, I acted by resistance, but after swallowing my pride a little bit...I approached the hubby about what I felt God was showing me.  A few months later, we ordered textbooks for all four of our schooling kids...and I haven't looked back since!!  

Why did it take me so long to do what was right for my family?  Here is where my theories come in.  First of all, for all those years that I was trying to do things my way, I knew my husband was concerned about there not being enough consistency or academic rigor in our homeschooling.  But, I pretty much blew him off by telling him that it wasn't right to do school at home, and we needed to continue doing what we were doing.  He took my word for it, and let me continue doing what I was doing.   This was my biggest mistake...not honoring the desires of my husband, simply because he didn't push me to.  Ladies..we need to listen to what our husbands want in our homeschool. Often our husbands let us make the curriculum decisions because they know we are the ones teaching, and they trust us to make the right decisions.  But, if your husband has expressed a desire about what he wants to see in our home and "school", we need to learn to swallow our pride as the "teacher" and consider a change. 

My other big mistake in all of this was to listen to what others had to say, and put the opinions of the homeschool masses over what God truly wanted for my children and my family.  I felt that I had prayed enough about our curriculum (and in the early years, I think we were right on track).  But, in looking back, as more children were born, and my older children were growing, I was "praying", but really saying to God, this is what I think is good God, I hope you agree!!  Then I proceeded to spend lots of money on a new curriculum that sounded great, but was never going to work for us.   I was convinced that what I was hearing about other homeschool families, and their opinions about how a Christian family should homeschool had to be what God would want for our family too...surely!  I was wrong to think this way.   Each one of our families is different.  What works for one family, and what sounds great, may not be what works for us.  It's not wrong to ask advice, read books, and go to conventions to find out what others are doing, and what seems good for others.   However, where we go wrong is when we take someone elses philosophy and put our name on it, whether it fits or not. God knows our children better than we do, He knows the needs of our families at different times in our lives, and He can guide us to what is really best for us.  There is no right way to educate our children at home, as long as we are putting God first, and we are dedicated to teaching our children to put Him at the center of everything in their lives as well.  For several years, I just couldn't see this.  I didn't allow my husbands ideas to sway me, even though he is the head of my family.  I was very wrong!

I can't tell you how much going to textbooks has set me free as a homeschool mom!  I am still active in teaching and guiding my children, but for my large family, and the many things that we have going on in our lives, it has given me the freedom to allow them to be independant in their education, and have consistency in their education on a daily basis.  There is still lots of time for one on one reading, discussing, and just being together.  We are still working on tweaking a little, and this next year we will by trying something different in using Switched on Schoolhouse for several subjects (which is also something I was totally against before).  And I still hope to be able to incorporate some unit study into our year, if life calms down a tad, because I still love doing that.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great for us to dialogue about what our philosophies are and what curriculum works for us, because God can use others to show us the way.  The key is to not make someone elses philosophy entirely our own based simply on our desires.  We need to listen to our husbands, and most importantly, swallow our pride and do what really works for our family.  God wants our children to be well educated in His ways, and be fully prepared for the adult life that He will lead them to.  

If you realize that you have been on the wrong path in your homeschool, and things just aren't working for you, talk to your husband, and talk to the one who lead you to live this crazy lifestyle to begin with.  As a warning though....this may result in you needing to repent, ask forgiveness, and swallow your pride.  But, once you find what really is best for your will be sooo glad you did!

What is the best homeschool philosophy?

Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean NOT on your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal

                                           click here to join in!

In my life this week...

This week has been a week of mixed emotions, and a LOT of sicknes.  Not just any old sickness, but nasty strep throat rearing it's ugly head on almost our entire family now.  Our 7 year old is going through her second round of it as she had to go off her antibiotics due to a horrible allergic rash.

This week also brought Rob and my 14th wedding anniversary, our daughters 7th birthday, and today is the 3 year anniversary of my mom's death, and the 2 year anniversary of my Dad being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer!  

Needless to's been an interesting week...and it's not over yet!!  Today, I have the strep throat..and our newborn, Anne (who turns just one month tomorrow), may have it also.  

I sure hope next week will be better...

In our homeschool this week...

I wish I could say that we got tons accomplished on the homeschool front this week...but if you read will see why all that was done was the basics of some Math and English that my two older boys did on the own!

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

Per above story...few of us have gone anywhere this week.  I especially have only seen the inside of the doctors office, and a gas station that I had to stop at as we were running late to a doctors appointment and I didn't realize that we were so low on gas!

My favorite thing this week was...

My 11 year old son, Riley, dressed up in his Sunday best and played Happy Birthday on his trumpet for his sisters was so sweet!!

What's working/not working for us...

Well...nothing seemed to be working for us this week :-).  In general, although I have switched to textbooks in the last year or so...and it is definitely a better fit for us.  I am seeing some difficulty with a couple of my kids, and am in the process of looking for a few different things for next school year!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

This week, I'm questioning how to keep things running smoothly in a large homeschool family when half of everyone in the household is sick??

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
A quote that I recently came across seems to sum up our week this week.

" Faith makes a Christian.  Life proves a Christian.  Trial confirms a Christian.  Death crowns a Christian." author unknown to me!

I'm feeling quite confirmed this week!  

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