Welcome to OKLAHOMA!

Moving.  I moved 5 times in a 10 year period as a kid.  Thankfully it was all in the same county and in a 20 mile radius of where I grew up.  However things change when you move across state lines.

I first experienced a state to state move after I got married.  Tennessee Southern Belle moved to the Northern state of Pennsylvania. Now that was only me, myself and my bedroom.  But I still needed a large truck to move all my girly stuff!  LOL!

Fast-forward almost 13 years and 4 kids later.  A lot changed in those nearly 13 years.  We moved locally from the apartment to the house we lived in until April 7th.  12 years of memories with children, ranging from birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and just life happening.

I admit that having only 3 weeks to pack up 13 years of life is daunting.  Unfortunately some things did have to get left behind, but due to some understanding we will be able to go back in September and collect the last of our things.

The trip itself was challenging.  Darren drove the 26 foot truck the entire 1000+ mile journey.  Going through the mountains of WV and Ohio, then the flat lands of Indiana and Illinois and then the Ozarks in Missouri and NE Oklahoma was such a beautiful trip.  I followed Darren with our van and helped him navigate his way through traffic.  Challenging! 

We left at 9pm April 7th and arrived in Tulsa at 6pm April 9th.  I admit that tears fell as we drove through Pittsburgh that evening.  I never once thought we would leave the city, the place I had come to know as my home.  But circumstances happened in such a way that it worked pretty seamlessly.

So now we start a new chapter in our journey.  Life in the Midwest.  Life in a state that I only dreamed of visiting. 

I am so thankful for all of my family, friends and church family that helped us during these past few months and especially the past 4 weeks.  Thank you friends who watched our children so we could pack, thank you friends who came over and packed even on our last day in PA, thank you to the Men’s group from our church who came to load the big items in our truck on a Saturday morning, thank you to the family who came over on the last day to help us finish the truck and also watch the kids so we could load the truck.  We are so grateful to you all.

We are already missing everyone in PA.  The past 12+ years have been a blessing and everyone who came in to my life has made some sort of impact.  God bless you all!  Look forward to visiting my “other” home in the future!

Life is ALWAYS an Adventure!


Blogging through the Alphabet – S is for Speech Therapy

Josef is 3 years old.  He is a very active, kind, loving, sweet boy.  He also knows how to cause a little bit of a ruckus and get into things he shouldn’t.  (hence the marker on his nose)  He has also gone through a lot of adjustments the past 18 months.  Some of which we thought we had been handling fairly well, but others apparently not so much.

So 18 months ago, Cordelia was born.  Josef went from being the youngest child to a middle child. There was also the addition to the fact that he was the youngest boy now.  So he is the middle and youngest due to age and gender.  
It didn’t hit me that he might be coping differently than his brothers did with the addition of each child.  Not until he started acting out in places that he normally was fairly good.

One of the childcare workers mentioned a few concerns and suggested we get his hearing checked in case there was an issue.  She couldn’t tell if it was actual hearing or just a listening/obeying problem.  Either way she was slightly concerned.  He wasn’t paying attention in class (and often doesn’t at home…much to my chagrin).  You have to get down in his face and it’s hard to do that all the time.
So we schedule the testing and fortunately we can get the results back the same day.  He doesn’t have any hearing problems.  He passed all the tests with flying colors.  He just has a listening problem. And that is something completely different that I will be working on at home with him.

The second thing I decided to check out was his speech.  Josef used a pacifier till Cordelia was about 1.  He was getting to big and really not talking a lot and when he did it was hard to understand him.  He dropped consonants, end sounds, beginning sounds and I maybe understood about 60% of what he was trying communicating with us.
So I made an appointment to have Josef evaluated.  Darren and I sat in the observation room as Josef went through the testing.  It went really well.  He did start to get a little bit antsy toward the end.  But for a 3 (almost 4) year old to sit for nearly 1.5 hours and go through testing was really good.

The things that we already kind of suspected with his speech were confirmed.  He was diagnosed with a speech sound production disorder and expressive and receptive language disorder.

So now we know what is going on.  Josef’s speech therapist explained everything to us and has a good plan set out for us to follow.  The next step is a minimum of 3 months of speech therapy.  We go twice a month to the speech therapist (who is also the lady who performed the testing).  Therapy last about 30 minutes each visit.

As of now, we have been going to speech therapy for a week, but I can already see results.  These people care so much about their patients.  Josef has bonded with his therapist and really enjoys going.  I personally think he likes the new toys he sees there.  😉  She incorporates the therapy with playing, flashcards and more. 

We did get our first set of homework for him and will definitely be working that every day.  Josef is such a smart boy and I know we can work through this challenge that was discovered.

So, I write this to tell you that it’s ok to get help.  I think that I felt like I HAD to do it all and that if I didn’t I was a failure.  That’s not true.  Homeschooling (or even having a child in school) is a lot of hard work.  Realizing that he needed more than I could give was hard, but I am very grateful for the doctors and professionals that are available to us.  They want to see each patient succeed as much as the parents do.

I admit that I was first scared of taking him to the audiologist and speech therapist.  What if something was seriously (or even just minorly) wrong?  How would that impact our lives?  Depending on the change, I am either quick to adapt but those unexpected and even somewhat scary ones make me very resistant to change.  I like to have a plan of action.  The unexpected throws me for a loop! 

Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband and supportive family, friends and church family.  I don’t know what I would do without each and every person that God has brought into our lives.  Those who took time out of their day to watch our older kids so we could do the testing for Josef were such a blessing. Thank you all. 

I am also thankful to know that no matter what, God created Josef.  He created him to be unique.  He knew the challenges we would face with each child we have.  No matter what, God is always there and He is always in control. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.


At Home in the Dogwood Mudhole – {REVIEW}

 photo Franklin_Deal-300x451_zpsb3f59745.jpgAt Home in the Dogwood Mudhole is a three-part series of books.  It is written by Franklin Sanders from At Home in the Dogwood Mudhole.  The books were actually written as newsletters to Franklin’s subscribers.  Gathered, these newsletters make up 3 volumes.  Each spanning several years.
The first volume is the one that myself and many others in the TOS Review Crew were given to read and review.
When I first looked through the website for this book, I wasn’t really sure what to think.  I didn’t know how a collection of newsletters would really sit as a whole book for me.  The books I typically read are action/adventure, mystery, thriller and even schoolbooks.  More of the fiction than non-fiction. 
But I think I felt drawn to the book because it is based in my home state of Tennessee.  And to be quiet honest I didn’t know that there was a place called Dogwood Mudhole in the great state!  So that really got me intrigued. 

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I was pleasantly surprised as I started to read this.  Franklin and his family were the typical family.  But yet they felt unsatisfied in the everyday humdrum of life as they knew it.  Seeking to get back to their roots they journey to find the place that they can call “home.”  Home was somewhere in Middle Tennessee and they wanted to be there before Y2K. 
Who knew what would happen back then.  Would the computers fail and send us back to a pre-technology era?  Or would all be ok?  Well, rather than rely on others, this family chose to learn to become self-sufficient again.  Going back to what is really a very lost art form and one that may eventually die out if people like the Sanders don’t appear.
Along their journey to finding their forever home you get a glimpse into their lives.  It’s almost like they become an extension of your family.  There were so many times that I found myself laughing aloud at the things that were happening.  Like their dogs.  The Thousand dollar dog is a great short story in and of itself.  Then the ordeal with the IRS, moving, and everything in between.  It’s just real.  Real life, real people, real situations. 
There is so much history in this book as well.  Several of the family members like to do war reenactments.  They love to dive into their family history which in turn shares Tennessee history.  Things that I didn’t know and that aren’t being taught so much in the history books today are shared as Franklin takes his family on journeys through the Tennessee Valley.  I really was surprised to find out so much about the state I lived in for 20 years.  What a treat to have that information in this book. 
Something else that Franklin shares are places you definitely want to visit.  From restaurants to bed and breakfasts, to different memorials, cemeteries, historical houses all mentioned in this book.  He even gives contact information so that if you are in the area you can call these places to see if they have tour availability.
To me, it felt like I was listening to stories being told by my father.  The family learning how to farm, raise animals (which they keep bringing more of back to their house) are just the beginning in this book.  This book has had me laughing, crying, excited, and just overall happy.  They share their struggles of everyday life as they work to become more like their ancestors.  From farm life, personal struggles, to just the everyday things. 
I really didn’t want it to end, but now the second volume is available!  (11/15/2013)  I will definitely be ordering a copy as I really enjoyed the stories shared by Franklin.  It was really awesome to just see someone be so authentic in their life.

To purchase At Home in the Dogwood Mudhole: Nothing that Eats click here.  It is $22.95 for a 400+ page soft-cover book.  It is geared towards adults but I found myself sharing some of the funny parts with my kids.  I do believe that a teenager could read it and it not be a problem.


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Blogging through the Alphabet – H is for Health

I have always struggled with my weight.  Even as a young child I battled it.  When I was 11 or 12 I was nearing 200lbs.  I was picked on because of my weight.  It wasn’t necessarily kids, but even an adult who felt it was necessary to pick on others to make himself feel good.  At least that is how it is perceived now.

So image issues and a constant battle with my weight consumed my high school years.  I walked every day (2-3 miles), I would walk to my jobs in downtown Gatlinburg (unless I was cutting it close on time), there was also the church volleyball team and also the aerobics class at the Community Center.  I kept really active and tried so hard to slim down. 

I managed to maintain a decent weight throughout high school and even in college.  Didn’t hurt that I was on my feet for nearly 12 hours every Saturday at the Wedding Chapel I was working for at the time.  Then I would help mow my parents lawn, play some tennis when I could (though not as often as I wanted to) and I kept up the walking, aerobics and volleyball (when I wasn’t working).

When I got engaged, I made it a goal to not gain any weight before the wedding.  My mom was doing all the alterations so I didn’t want to make more work for her.  We did my last set about 3 months before the wedding.  By the time the wedding came, my dress was fairly loose.  Apparently those stories of wedding stress helping the bride to lose some weight were true.  I think I lost about 10lbs.

Then I gained those 15 newlywed pounds, and then I gained 42 with our first baby.  WHOA!  That was rough.  I was able to get back down to a reasonable weight, but then gained some back and got pregnant with #2.  Gained a mere 5lbs (from my starting weight) with that pregnancy.  I was very sick the first 4 months and lost 15lbs, gained that back to my starting weight and added 5 more. 

About 2 years later, I got pregnant with #3, gained 30lbs and dealt with Gestational Diabetes.  That was the most horrible pregnancy ever once that diagnosis was made.  The finger pricking was the worst.  Then the medication I was on to manage my levels because diet and exercise weren’t cutting it.

Almost another 2 years later I got pregnant with #4.  Found a midwife and had one of the best pregnancies to date.  Still, I gained about 30lbs. 

All through the last 3 pregnancies, I managed (somehow) to keep around the same weight after each child was born.  I’d lose a significant amount of weight after the baby and then gain it all back.  Even with nursing, exercising (walking) and working on keeping tabs on what I was eating.  It was frustrating to not get closer to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I will admit that having 3 kids in 5 years was really hard on me and that I neglected to really take care of myself.  My highest non-pregnancy weight has been 255lbs.  Depressing, frustration, mad at myself for letting it get that far is just some of what I could say. 

But if I keep thinking that, I will never get anywhere!

So now, I am trying to think more positive.  I can get healthy, I CAN eat right, I CAN lose weight, I CAN and I WILL!  Why?  I want to be here for my family.  They need me as much as I need them.  God put me here to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, friend and more.  It is my job to take care of this body and I have been on a journey.

This journey started back in February when I did a challenge.  Well, I kinda fell back into those bad habits and needed to get back into the swing of things.  So another challenge for me!  Currently, I am working out to Focus T25 and trying to eat as healthy/clean as I can.  It’s not easy and trying to get everyone to eat that way is well, challenging.  But the kids love to do my exercise videos with me!  They make it about 5 minutes, but hey, at least they see mommy setting the example.  My oldest will actually complete a video with me.  My husband is going to start joining me in the evenings after we put the kids to bed.  So this is a whole family affair.  Health…You only live once.  So why not live life to it’s fullest!  You CAN do it!  You CAN make the changes necessary for a healthy life!  YOU CAN!

The Unexpected…

What happens when the unexpected happens?  We started school back in July.  With 1 subject at a time we slowly introduced a new subject every 2 weeks.  Well on Sunday, August 19th, I suffered a major gall bladder attack.  I wound up going into the hospital on Wednesday.  What I thought was going to be a simple gall bladder removal wound up being 6 days and 1 surgery.  My extended stay wound up being due to liver and pancreas issues as well as my gall bladder.

Needless to say, our school schedule went absolutely out the window.  Friends and family rallied to help us with our 3 boys that needed to be watched as I was in the hospital with my husband and Cordelia.  Our school plans that I had worked on got derailed and now I am in the process of re-evaluating and organizing.  I think from now on I am going to plan maybe 2 weeks at a time.  To quote the late John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” 

Today is our first day back and we are going slow.  But that’s ok.  I am only 3weeks post-surgery.  Still have to take things easy.  My husband has been great!  My kids are adjusting to the schedule and necessary things they need to do to help around the house.  It has been a challenge.  We had things we planned on doing this summer that just haven’t worked out.  Life goes on.  We are adapting.  It’s good to be flexible.  I applaud my family for being so resilient. 

So in the end, if life throws you a lemon, make the lemonade and enjoy it.  Work through the challenges and changes that are thrown your way.  Do what you can to be flexible.