Did I Cause This Nightmare?



Newtown, Connecticut.

We’re all searching desperately for answers that don’t really exist.  In the wake of over two dozen murders, most of them young children, we want to know why.  We must stop it from ever happening again.  Everything will be questioned.  Too many guns.  Not enough guns.  Asperger’s.  Homeschooling.  Metal detectors.  Police in schools.  Mental Health.  Bullying.  Prayer in school.

The truth is, none of these are the answer.  Because these are all ideas and things and laws.  And it’s people who maim and people who died.  The closest answers are those who call for society to change.  But who is society?  When we talk about it, it’s always the other guy, the other parents, the other kids.

Society starts with me.  And you.  Together we make the change.  Not them changing.  Me changing.

How?  Is it new laws or rules?  No.  It starts in your own life and in your own family.  You love others.  Show kindness.  To everyone.  Especially the forgotten and the rejected.  And those who don’t deserve it.  Just as Christ did.

Candle

When my oldest was in kindergarten, a classmate would crawl under the table and bite her ankles.  I spoke with her teachers about it, since it was a recurring problem.  They must have expected the typical kindergarten mom response, because they were a bit surprised at my suggestion.  I asked the teachers to move them so that they sat next to each other.  I knew the boy was having a rough time.  His parents were stationed overseas.  He cried a lot.  And for some reason he wanted my daughter’s attention.  So put them together.  Help him learn how to interact in an acceptable way.  Don’t isolate or punish him.  He’s five and he’s trying to figure out life.  She never had problems with him again, and they became friends.

We have an unspoken rule at our house.  Bullies get invited over for playdates and birthday parties.  Not so I can torment them for making my child miserable.  But to love on them.  To treat them the way I want my child treated, the way they should be treated.  My older children have forged unexpected friendships by simply reaching out.  Maybe we made a difference.  I’m not saying we changed the path of a future Adam Lanza.  I just know my children have turned miserable situations into friendships just by reaching out.  It’s how we change our own world, our own town where this could never happen.

Don’t be fooled, though.  Both my older kids have bullied others.  They’ve pointed out someone’s unusual height, participated in not including someone, bad-mouthed or whined about an unfair situation.  As a parent, it’s my job to step in and set it straight.  It doesn’t matter how bad someone smells, you don’t say anything.  In fact, the unspoken rule comes into play.  I have been known to insist that my rude child sit with his/her victim at lunch or play with them at recess to practice the appropriate behavior.  Being nice isn’t easy.  It’s unnatural.  In times of great tragedy, we step up and our goodness shows through.  Everyday life is so very different.  We have to make ourselves be kind.  Love our neighbors and our enemies.

And then I realize that teaching them kindness and love is much different from showing them how to love others as I love myself.  What do they learn when I comment on someone’s attire or driving skills?  What do they learn when I break the unspoken rule and don’t invite someone over?  How do I handle those who have wronged me?  What have I taught?  Because really, they learn more from what they see, not just what I say or make them do.

I believe the best way to prevent the next massacre is through love and kindness on the individual level.  For me, that love comes from the grace and mercy I received through Christ.  Maybe that love will heal someone’s wounded soul.

Today, I will love more.  I will be kinder.  Will you join me?  We probably won’t know the difference we made, but we must have faith that we can make a difference.

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Over Reacting

Today I think I probably over-reacted.  I’ll know for sure in the morning.

I looked up at gymnastics to see my daughter, standing in front of me, crying.  She was holding her bloody mouth.  I grabbed my stuff and said we’re out of here.  A coach passing by asked if she was okay, and I asked him for ice.  As he got the ice, I was on the phone with the oral surgeon.

So now you’re thinking, “Ummm, yeah, she way over-reacted!”  Bloody mouth = call to oral surgeon?  Crazy lady!   But you have to understand the saga of my daughter and her front teeth.  She has broken them off.  She had a root canal.  She has braces to fix the damage done when she broke them.  Later she knocked out the same tooth.  Except she had braces, so it took three other teeth along for the ride and traumatized them.  We see the oral surgeon every three months.  Sometimes more often.

These aren’t my daughter’s teeth, but they look similar.

By the end of it, we had three coaches looking at her teeth.  And a mom who was looking at me like I was insane.  I hope she never has to walk in my shoes on this one.  We’re pretty sure it was just a bloody lip.  But as punishment for my over-reaction, we’ll see the oral surgeon at 7:10 A.M.  Hello summer, you just thought you could sleep in!  I have to say I’m a little embarrassed.  Ah well, we all get to act crazy once in a while, right?

In all fairness, I’m usually the mom who tells them to ‘shake it off’ or ‘spit on it’ or ‘lick the blood off.’  I don’t want my kids to be afraid of getting hurt.  But the teeth.  Those teeth.  We have to keep them until the braces come off.  Then they can fall out.  Well, not really.  She’s too young for implants.  The dentist’s goal was to keep her original teeth until she has her own dental insurance and a job.  I like him.  Really like him.

We’ll see how this story ends tomorrow…

…And it looks like I was a bit over the top on this one. X-ray looked good (as good as expected with all that’s happened to those poor teeth).  Passed the sensitivity tests.  We’ll head to the orthodontist to fix the bent wire.  And my sweet hubby took her this morning.  I got to avoid the whole early morning thing and the embarrassment of being a little too paranoid.  I love that guy.  He’s always so good to me.

Home


Thursday, May 17, 2012 my beautiful mom, Deborah Louise Appleby, met her Savior face to face around 8:00 in the evening.  She had battled cancer for two years.

Oh how she fought.  Initially, we were told she would only live a couple months.  She was so frail.  She could not walk or move without excruciating pain.  The reality of it hit me when I had to scoop her in my arms like a baby to help her move in bed.  She was 58 years old.  It really didn’t seem fair.

Mom liked to prove the doctors wrong.  She always outlived their predictions.  And she always responded better than expected to any treatment.

Mom’s last week was filled with tough decisions, pain, and then comfort and peace.  As noted in my last post, Brain Surgery, we had a tough choice on how to handle her pain.  We were told she would not leave the hospital.  Of course, we had heard that so many times.  We knew that, one day, they would be right.  I wondered if Mom passed away during or soon after surgery, would I have regrets?  I can honestly say that I don’t.  The relief of her pain was beyond evident after surgery.  She looked so much better.  She could move.  Her face looked so much more relaxed.  Her eyes were normal and clear.  Her blood pressure and heart rate were normal.  Lungs clear.  I stayed with her around the clock.  My husband gave me a few breaks, but I wanted to be with her.  She would nod her head or makes noises to communicate.  I didn’t want to miss anything.

Thursday started out bumpy.  Her breathing was slightly labored and she had mucus in her throat.  She wasn’t sleeping.  And her kidneys didn’t seem to be functioning.  All are signs of impending death.  As I was talking to Mom, I mentioned that we couldn’t get her to the bathroom because she had just had surgery, so it was okay to use her brief.  She always hated those things.  Within an hour, she had to be changed three times!  Her breathing improved.  I sang “Victory in Jesus” to her.  As I sang, she turned her face to me, smiled ever so slightly, and looked so content.  Peaceful.  She was doing well.  At 12:30, she was transferred back to the nursing home.  When we arrived, Mom looked around her room and seemed to relax.  This was home.  She dozed off a couple times.  Finally she could relax and rest.  I stayed for a couple hours.  Her lungs were still clear.  She was calm and had no pain (morphine is nice that way).  I decided to leave for a few hours.  I hadn’t seen my children most of the week.  As a family, we went to swim and gymnastics practices.  Afterwards, we headed back to the nursing home to check on Mom.

And that’s when we found out.  We were about 5 minutes from arriving, but she was already gone.

I wonder if she waited until I left.  She had worried so much about how my brother and I would handle her passing.  How would my children handle it?  And when I think about it, I really can’t imagine leaving my children or husband.  I’d want them to experience as little pain as possible (none at all, actually).  Would it be hard for them to watch me take my final breath?  Would they relive that moment forever?  She knew I had never been with someone as they passed away.   I think she was still being my mom, even in her last moments in life.  She wanted to protect me from the pain.  She was my shield, even on her last day.

Mom is healed.  Not the way I wanted it.  I want her here, sitting on my couch, telling me to get off the computer, wanting to know if I’ve planned dinner yet.  I want her reading to Joshua and sewing with Madelyn.  I want her to see them graduate and get married.  I want her to hold her great-grandbabies.  I want her to be here when we adopt again.  I want her fussing over how neglected our poor pets are.  But an earthly healing is never complete.  Our bodies are still flawed and still fail us.  And nothing can compare to the presence of the Father. Mom is completely healed now.  New body, worshipping at the feet of her Savior, praising God.  She is reunited with her sister, mother, and father.  No pain.  No disease.  She can talk and walk and leap for joy!  Her eyes can see clearly.  I couldn’t ask for anything better for her.  She can sing!

I can begin to understand the pain God feels when He is separated from us because of our sin, the pain Jesus felt on the cross when His Father looked away.  Separation is painful.  It aches.  It knocks you off your feet sometimes.  But praise, God, this separation is only temporary.

So what have I learned on this journey?  Well, I’ve learned a lot about cancer and health.  But we’ll save that for another day.  The one thing that became more and more real throughout this journey is how it is so easy to get beaten down by the circumstances and not see the bigger picture.  I wish I could say that I cleaned vomit (and worse) with joy every time.  I wish I could say that I counted it a privilege to bath my mom each time she needed my help.  Or drive her to countless appointments.  Or hold her steady as she sat on the toilet.  Sometimes I grumbled.  I was angry that this interfered with my life.  I have children, you know.  But looking back, I realized that I was blessed to be able to do those things.  I’ll never get to feed her again or wash her hair or help her dress.  We humans are like that, aren’t we?  We don’t see the blessings until they’re gone.

Don’t miss out on life.  Even when it seems ugly and burdensome, find joy.  Know that one day the struggles will pass, but so will the good that came along with the burdens.  Sometimes they are a package deal.

Forgive.  No matter how much a person wrongs you or hurts you, we will all meet the same end.  Watching someone wither made me see how fragile we all really are.  I would not wish pain and suffering on anyone.  We will all experience it one day anyway.

I heard an old, 
old story
how a Savior came
 from glory
How he gave his life
on Calvary
 to save a wretch like me
I heard about 
His groaning, 
of his precious blood’s
 atoning
Then I repented 
of my sin
 and won the victory

Oh, victory in Jesus,
my Savior forever
He sought me 
and he bought me 
with his redeeming blood
He loved me 
e’re I knew him
 and all my love
 is due him
He plunged me to victory 
beneath the
 cleansing flood

I heard about his 
healing, 
of his cleansing pow’r
 revealing
How he made the lame 
to walk again 
and caused the
 blind to see
And then I cried
 “Dear Jesus,
come and heal
 my broken spirit”
And somehow Jesus
 came and brought 
to me the victory

Oh, victory in Jesus,
my Savior forever
He sought me
 and he bought me 
with his redeeming blood
He loved me 
e’re I knew him 
and all my love 
is due him
He plunged me to victory
 beneath the
 cleansing flood

I heard about a mansion 
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold 
beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing, 
and the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there 
the song of victory.

Memorial Celebrating Deborah Appleby
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
2:00 P.M.
Grace Bible Church Southwood
1901 Harvey Mitchell Pkwy S.
College Station, TX 77840

Visitation Noon-2:00 P.M.

Internment to follow at Memorial Cemetery
3800 Raymond Stotzer PKWY
College Station, TX

*Donations may be made in lieu of flowers to Grace Bible Church*

Brain Surgery


The first half of my Mother’s Day was spectacular!  Breakfast in bed with all my favorite breakfast foods.  Some awesome gifts from the kids.  John got me The Hunger Games and 4 hours of quiet time to read.  He cooked a fabulous lunch.  Everyone was in good spirits.  The kids were putting the final touches on a gift for Grandma, and I was getting out of my PJs.  We would head up to the nursing home and spend some time with my mom.

The phone rang.

It was the nursing home.  Mom’s blood pressure was high, and two extra doses of medicine hadn’t touched it.  She was in an ambulance on her way to the Emergency Room.


We get to the ER.  The doctor was already examining her.  I wonder if the kids will be doctors.  They’ve seen so much “medical” stuff at really young ages.  We have no family in town, so they tag along for most everything.  Thank goodness for Nintendo DSIs.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the doctor.  He suspected brain swelling.  He ordered labs and a scan of her brain.  He called a Neurosurgeon in to consult.  You have to understand something.  Mom’s cancer was Stage IV when she was diagnosed two years ago.  We have  never seen a surgeon.  There are some specialists I wish we would have pushed to see.  I can hypothesize all day long, but I’ll never know why Mom didn’t get the whole team-of-doctors approach to her treatment.  Nobody really thought she would live more than a couple months, and certainly not two years.

Wow, I am rambling.  Lack of sleep can do that.  So back to the ER.  Mom had too much fluid on her brain.  That fluid was pushing on her brain.  Her brain panics from the pressure and tells the heart to send more blood.  The blood pressure goes up.  The pressure on the brain increases.  The brain panics.  Ok, you see the vicious cycle.  This happened a year ago.  The pain was brutal.  Even narcotics didn’t touch the pain.  Thankfully, that time steroids worked.  This time, they probably wouldn’t.  Mom was admitted to the hospital.

The next morning, after 3 hours of sleep, I met with the Neurosurgeon.  I was given two options.  1. Send her back to the nursing home on high doses of narcotics to keep her comfortable until she passes away.  2. Place a shunt in her brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid (CFS).  So I talked to family.  I actually consulted more family than usual.  I have Power of Attorney and the final say, but good grief, who wants that burden to oneself?  I even talked to a friend who is a Hospice Nurse PRactitioner (I probably butchered her title).

Option 1 Narcotics:  I would like to go this route.  I want Mom comfortable.  Peaceful.  Pain Free.  Not poked and cut.  This is the norm for end of life.  And I recognize we’re getting there.  And I would be fine with that if I KNEW it would work.  The big problem is narcotics didn’t work last time.  Her mental state was such that she wasn’t showing pain when painful things were done to her.  Was she experiencing pain but her body couldn’t communicate it?  I really don’t know.  And it made me VERY uncomfortable to think she would be in pain and we wouldn’t know or we couldn’t alleviate it.  As I told a friend, I felt like there would be a special room in hell for me if I knowingly let her suffer excruciating pain.  The doctors thought she would pass away in a few days.  Since they have been dead wrong on predicting her death for two years, I couldn’t really count on the idea of her suffering for a few days and then it would be over.  What if she was still here in two weeks?  Two months?  Two years?

Option 2 VP Shunt:  A shunt would relieve the pressure in her brain, thus the pain. It would lower her blood pressure.  All measures that would make her comfortable.  In a normal situation in which the swelling was new, a shunt might offer improvement in body control, speech, continence.  The chance of that in our situation was around zero.  A shunt would likely extend her life.  It would mean more tough choices like this down the line.  Pneumonia.  Problems with shunt.  Feeding Tube blockages.  How far do you go to treat things?  What is comfortable, moral, or just plain cruel?

We decided to go forward with the shunt.  Trust me, I didn’t take this lightly.  I wrestled with this.  I cried more than I care to remember.  There are no good choices here.  In the end, I made a choice that I felt I could live with.  We’ll never know what the other road would’ve looked like.  We can’t go back.  I know I did my best to make sure Mom suffers the least as she completes her journey on this earth.  Some disagree with me.  That’s ok.  I completely understand.  I hope you won’t judge me.  I certainly won’t judge you when you’re making these choices for someone you love.

Oh, and to clarify, I strongly considered what Mom’s wishes were for treatments and end of life stuff.  She never was the end-it-all-fast-no-life-support type.  In fact, I’m probably less aggressive than she wanted.  But she didn’t get to see what this looks like when we talked about this…back when she still talked and drove her car.

So what happened, you ask.  The surgery was last night.  Anesthesia took about an hour to set her up.  Brain surgery requires more stuff than say, ear tubes.  The surgery itself was about an hour, and recovery was a little over two hours.  The surgery went well.  Mom came off the ventilator immediately.  There was a 20% chance she never would, very high for a surgery.  The nurses were very surprised and pleased that Mom was more alert and responsive than prior to surgery.  Remember, we expected pain relief, nothing more.  She was moved to the surgery floor instead of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as planned.  When she arrived in the room, I asked her how she was feeling.  She opened her mouth and let out a series of growls and groans, the first sounds I’ve heard in a while.  Later I asked if she was okay, and she whispered, “I don’t know.”  Speech!  Words!  A Phrase!  She moved a leg a little, winced and grimaced.  She swallowed her spit.  All very good signs.  And her blood pressure was normal.  Normal, I say!

2:00 A.M.  Blood.Everywhere.  Her head incision was bleeding like crazy.  I’m not good with this.  Never was.  Three nurses wrap her head and give her morphine.  Her blood pressure has been elevated since then, but nowhere near where it was before the surgery.

10:00 A.M.  She’s still bleeding.  I finally remember that she’s a bleeder.  Her Central Line once required three days of sandbags.  Why did I forget this?  The doctor is on his way to put in more staples at lunch.  I think we’ll be here another day.  Please let us be here another day.

How’s the cognitive progress?  Well, she regressed.  She’s more alert.  She tracks you with her eyes.  But that’s all.  The Speech Therapist said this was normal for brain surgery.  Right after surgery, you see big progress.  Then the swelling sets in, and you regress.  Hopefully in several days, she’ll start making steps forward.  But because we saw things like speech, movement, swallowing….there is a sliver of hope.

And this is my mom.  Oh how she loves to prove doctors wrong!  But if she doesn’t, I’ll certainly understand.  She has fought this fight with valor.  We’ve all had our weak days, but on the whole, she’s been strong.

Thank you for all your prayers.  Thank you to the friends who’ve taken our kids.  Thank you for the visits and texts.  Thank you to my hubby who brought me clean underwear and deodorant.  Thank you to God for giving me sanity through all this and hearing my literal cries of frustration and confusion.

Mother’s Day





I’m probably breaking some blogger rule by posting an unrelated article during a series.  Fire me.


Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Actually, by the time I post this, it may already be Mother’s Day.  This will be the second Mother’s Day that has been, well, different.  A few days after Mother’s Day 2010, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer.  A very aggressive type of breast cancer.  It was in her breasts, spine, liver, lungs, lymph, bones, and brain.  That first year was rough, but I guess I had in mind that the treatments would fix her quickly.  Last year around Mother’s Day, we found out her brain cancer was active and the doctor gave her a maximum of 4-6 months to live.  In August, she had a heart attack and moved back in with us.  In October, she moved to a nursing home.  A year later, she’s still alive, but different.  You see, the brain cancer isn’t growing as much as they thought, but the brain radiation did a lot of damage.  At her worst, she could not move her arms or legs or talk.  With therapy, she’s started moving her legs around in bed.  Sometimes she’ll move her arms, usually if she’s in pain.

She’s not a vegetable, though.  I told her about my hubby’s mom’s trouble with cancer, and she cried.  While the nurse was changing her brief (grown-up diaper), I asked her if that was the worst part of her day, and she nodded.  She reacts with facial expressions or movements.  I guess she’s kind of trapped in her body.

I miss my mom.  I miss talking to her.  I miss texting her.  The kids miss the insane amounts of candy she gave them.  I don’t miss that.

Don’t get me wrong.  My mom wasn’t a saint in her healthy life.  She made plenty of mistakes.  We all do.  But no matter how bad it can get, we all need our moms.  I wish she could still hug me or talk to me.  I wish she could have gone to the kids’ gymnastics meets.

Some days she squeezes my hand and won’t let go.  I think she misses these things too.

Top Notch Curriculum

Family Time Fitness
Fitness 4 Homeschool PE Curriculum

Have you ever asked yourself…

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Can I teach physical education, even though I don’t know anything about it?

Family Time Fitness says: Absolutely!

Current Customer Feedback 11/1/2011
Name: Lisa C
Subject: Testimonials

After reading an article in a homeschooling magazine about the importance of a structured P.E. program, I signed up for the free trial here at Family Time Fitness. Shortly thereafter, we purchased the program. My children and I are all loving it! I have four children, ranging in age from 4 to 15. They are all fit and active, and involved in some sort of organized sport (my daughter is in ballet and the others are in karate). I had thought between those activities and playing outside, that counted as our “P.E.” Since they are all so active and generally healthy, I was surprised during our first few lessons at how many exercises they weren’t able to do as well as I had thought they would. It just didn’t seem they had the body coordination or control for certain activities. Well, after just two or three weeks of having regular P.E. I’m amazed at how much control and coordination they’ve gained! Their performance at karate and ballet has greatly improved also! They are having so much fun each day, and are on their way to a lifetime of healthy living!

Thank Lisa – We could not have said it better!

Family Time Fitness – Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum allows homeschool parents to teachphysical education without previous knowledge of physical education and athletic development. Our program, designed by experts in fitness training, nutrition and body movement, is designed to suit every age and ability level while affordably fitting into your budget. Our program combines flexibility and fun with a comprehensive curriculum to give your children a foundation for strong bodies and minds. Best of all, you get all this with a guaranteed lifetime of updates for only $79 dollars for all your children!

Think you have spent your entire curriculum budget? What about your family health budget? Not only is this program a fitness curriculum, it is a family health plan. Gym memberships can cost $150 a month for a family, and a single doctor visit for one can be around $120. Our program costs $79 one time, that’s only $6.58 a month over a year’s time; and it is available to you for a lifetime! Forless than a bag of snacks per month your family can be on the path to a healthier and happier life!

Family Time Fitness

Physical Education (PE) is structured physical activity that develops an organized mind and body for students. Many homeschool parents commonly mistake any physical activity for a PE class. Unfortunately, unstructured physical activity does not give a student the building blocks for proper fitness development. Activities like one day co-op play, Wii Fit or Wii sports and individual sports are not considered physical education because they do not comprehensively teach and manage physical fitness in students.What is Physical Education?

Why does my Homeschool Curriculum need Physical Education?

We created the Fitness 4 Homeschool curriculum because of a lack of fitness programs for homeschoolers. We started this program because we couldn’t find any at all! With the child obesity epidemic on the rise in the U.S., now is the time to give our children the exercise guidance they need while building the skills necessary to stay fit for a lifetime.

We believe that a PE curriculum is absolutely essential for a balanced homeschool classroom. Our expertly designed program has been created to maximize the benefits of spatial awareness, body awareness, environmental awareness, enhanced neurological development, mind-body coordination, stress reduction, social engagement, poise and confidence.

We created this program to solve some of the common problems that arise from leaving a thorough PE program out of your family’s curriculum. Some solutions this curriculum can help with include:

• Knowledge and teaching on how to exercise
• Improvement of gross motor skills
• Childhood obesity prevention
• Diabetes prevention
• Weight management
• Develops self-confidence
• Increases energy and focus for academic studies
• Provides family fitness experience
• Increases PE/ Fitness options

How Does the Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum Work?

The program is designed to create a fun and engaging atmosphere for fitness. The 260 planned lessons teach you everything you need to know with minimal preparation time, and the lessons are also designed so that they do not require a large investment in equipment.

Our program is the only professionally planned comprehensive curriculum for Physical Education and Athletic Development designed with the needs of the parent in mind. Our PE curriculum works for any homeschool because it is easy to follow, can be customized to any schedule, and can fit in almost any space, outdoors or indoors. It’s even easier to follow with our tips for integrating physical education, progress logs and instructional videos.

The Fitness 4 Homeschool program is structured to be integrated into your teaching a minimum of three days per week, but we strongly recommend five. It takes 30 to 45 minutes each day, and we’re certain that it is so fun and engaging for the whole family that it will be the highlight of your student’s day.

The 260 lesson plans utilize repetition, but they are also progressive and sequential. The program is designed for all age levels and abilities, and because we believe that the learning process is most valuable with family engagement, the lessons are designed so that the whole family can join in the lessons.

What is included in the Fitness 4 Homeschool Package?

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum includes a startup guide, PDF lesson plans, video demonstrations, assessment tools, reminder emails, lifetime curriculum and video updates, access to online webinars and certificates of completion. One curriculum purchase can be used for all your children, and we never charge any subscription fees or annual renewal fees.

Startup/Training Guide – The Startup Guide is a guide for parents and includes an introduction to physical education, information on what to expect from the program, safety information, how to integrate physical education into your curriculum, teaching tips and equipment information.

Lesson Plans – Each of the 260 professionally planned lessons arrives in PDF format and includes a List of Supplies, Warm-Up, Activity, Cool Down and Suggested Outdoor Activity. Each exercise is described in a detailed, user-friendly format for easy access.

Video Demonstrations – Each exercise includes a demonstration video with real kids doing the exercises. There are over 200 instructional video demonstrations available to you with this curriculum, and you are guaranteed lifetime access to these videos as we update them.

Assessment Tools – We provide tools to help track progress of the basic fundamental movements. Other downloadable tools include nutritional logs and meal planners for a comprehensive fitness approach.

Encouragement Emails – During the first year of your course, we send you reminder emails each week day to keep you and your children motivated on your fitness journey. We also always include nutritional and fitness tips in the emails.

Curriculum Updates – You are guaranteed lifetime access to curriculum updates in addition to the video demonstration updates. We don’t know of any other curriculum program that gives lifetime free updates!

Online Webinars – You have access to our regular online webinars and our webinar archive for further in-depth instruction and tips on the curriculum.

Testimonials and Reviews

John Ratey of the Harvard Medical School states that “Exercise, good fitness-based exercise, makes our brains more ready to learn.” We have gotten excellent reviews from our customers who love the fun, flexibility and learning environment that Fitness 4 Homeschool provides. Our own President of Family Time Fitness Jeremiah Knopp speaks about how his 7-year old nephew Braedan went from being able to do zero jumping jacks to 100 jumping jacks at a time after three months of the Fitness 4 Homeschool program. Dr. Minke, another of the expert curriculum designers, reports that his son now has confidence in playing catch or other physical activities, before which he was not at all interested in sports.

Take a look at just a few of the product reviews published online about our physical education curriculum:

• TheHomeschoolVillage.com
• The Johns Family
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PE Curriculum

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent? Ya, Seriously!

I did not come from June Cleaver’s family.  (For you young’ens, she was the picture-perfect model of wife, mother, woman, etc.)  My mom was a single mom.  We ate lots of mac and cheese and ground beef patties.  She did not use salt, pepper, or spices (having kids, I understand this better as they never agree on what is good).  Eating out was at Burger King.  Flame broiled was better than fried, of course.  Mom wasn’t the crafty type.  My dad worked.  A lot.  He didn’t quit until the job was done.  Granddaddy loved to cook and feed people.  He made things from old discarded stuff.  He up-cycled before the term existed.  Once he built a scooter from an old lawnmower.  He liked it better than the ones sold in the stores because he put a seat on the back for his wife!  Nana cooked and cleaned.  She kept a perfect house.  She sewed, read books, and watched basketball.  She ironed.  My granddad died when I was young, but from what I know, he worked on cars and was handy.  Mamaw was a good southern cook, but she preferred anything pre-made.  She didn’t believe in all this “back-to-basics” nonsense.  She lived in a time when she made everything from scratch.  Hamburger Helper was just fine, even if you couldn’t pronounce the ingredients.  Why does this matter?  Because, like you, who I am was formed from a variety of people.  I want the clean and pristine house like my Nana’s home.  I love cooking and experimenting, though I hardly have enough time to.  I wish I could make things and sew.  I’m not crafty.  In fact, crafts are scary.  I’d rather have dinner with Freddy Kruger than figure out the latest craft with my daughter.  I also picked up a little of the “why make it if you can buy it?” attitude from Mamaw.  Not so much with foods.  I prefer real, live food.  Beyond food, I can do without making things.

So why in the world would I make dishwasher detergent?

Some history, first.  I hate grocery stores.  The ones that are nice are too expensive.  As much as I love the ambient lighting, organized shelves, and the pleasant smell of higher end stores, I can’t justify paying 10% to 30% more just for the shopping experience.   The middle of the road stores are a bit more tolerable for my budget.  Most of the prices are decent.  On average, maybe 5% to 15 % more than Wally World.  It’s decently organized and they still give wine samples to frazzled moms.  They tend to be a bit more crowded than the finer stores.  And then there is Wal-Mart.  Most of the time, I can’t beat the prices.  But its crowded.  Always.  And the clientele can be iffy sometimes.  Think I’m pretentious?  There are entire websites dedicated to those who shop at Wal-Mart.  We’ve had several bad experiences at Wal-Mart in regards to being a transracial family.  So every time I need groceries and household items, I go through the mental debate.  The pricey store would be so nice and I’ll still be sane at the end of the trip.  But which family member will need to fast this week so I can afford it?  The mid-grade store is ok, but if I’m going to deal with the crowds, I might as well go all out and survive Wal-Mart.  With the money I save, we can eat at a restaurant.  I won’t be sane enough to cook anyway.

When I realized we were almost out of dishwasher detergent and I’d already been to Wal-Mart three times in the last 10 days, I knew something had to give.  So I analyzed the situation.  Am I happy with the detergent I buy?  Sort of.  I pre-rinse the dishes and most of them come clean in the dishwasher.  These stupid high-efficiency dishwashers are crappy, so what does the soap really matter anyway?  Or maybe my water is too hard. Or too cold.  Heck, it’s way too complicated.  My glasses aren’t clear anymore.  Besides the people who buy new glasses every year, we all have cloudy glasses, right?  What about price?  I hate spending money, so it’s too much.

So I got on Pinterest and found a nice little recipe.  Of course, its powder.  I hate powder.  I always had chucks of powder stuff in soap dispenser that I need a knife to dig out.  And then I’d find powder on my dishes.  Who wants to eat soap?  Or rinse all the dishes again?  Needless to say, I was skeptical.  But alas, I had enough dirty dishes to fill two dishwashers and was now out of soap.  It was Wal-Mart or make the powder.  I gave in and made my little batch of detergent, crammed the dishwasher as full as possible, and away we went!  Dishes were clean.  Glasses were still cloudy, but not as much.  No powder on the dishes or chunks in the dispenser.  It seems to dissolve better.  The detergent was way cheaper (some estimate 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of store bought soap).  Best part by far, it was freaking easy to make.

So here you go:

  • 2 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 2 cups of Washing Soda
  • 1 cup of Kosher Salt
  • 1-2 cups of Lemi Shine or Citric Acid

Borax, Washing Soda, Kosher Salt

Put it in a jar.  Close the lid.  Shake it up.  1 TBS (tablespoon for the non cooking types) per load (your soap dispenser won’t be full).  Fill your rinse aid dispenser with white vinegar.  There ya go!

Lemi Shine

Other tips.  If you have hard water, use more Lemi Shine/Citric Acid.  My bottle of Lemi Shine didn’t list ingredients which annoys me.  So I looked for alternatives.  Lots of people recommend Citric Acid.  You can buy food grade citric acid on Amazon for a decent price.  Buy in bulk and save (5 or 10 pounds).  I found some with free shipping.  And Amazon doesn’t charge sales tax, making them one of my favorite retailers!  I have hard water, but only used 1 1/2 cups of Lemi Shine, as that was all I had.  It did the job.

My opinion on rinse aids.  Honestly, I quit using them when our last dishwasher exploded.  Yes, it exploded.  A good deal of dishwashers have been recalled due to the rinse aid dispensers leaking in the door.  When they leak, they fry the electrical components in the door.  The result of this depends on what is damaged.  Our heating element exploded, blew a hole through the side of the dishwasher and melted the door.  Whatever component shuts off the heating element when it gets too hot probably shorted out.  It overheated and exploded.  However, for the sake of following instructions, I used the vinegar.  My gut feeling is I’ll regret it someday.  Just something to keep in mind regarding rinse aids.  I was pretty sick that I was spending $4 a bottle on a product that would eventually lead to a rather unsettling explosion and the demise of a 4 year old dishwasher.

Where to find this stuff?  Kosher Salt is on the baking aisle with the other salts.  Borax and washing soda should be in the laundry aisle and Lemi Shine near the dishwashing detergents. I emphasize should because my local Wal-Mart had them in weird places.  They also only had baking soda, which is NOT the same as washing soda.  You can order all of it from Amazon and have it delivered to your home and avoid the dreaded stores!

Some people use cutesy letters and put the recipe on the jar.  Good idea.  Maybe someday.  Also, you can add a small stick-on hook to the jar for your measuring spoon.  Someday.  Today I have dishwasher detergent, and I’m content.

Kosher salt box for size comparison

Did it work for you?  Better ideas?  I’d love to hear them!