Thank you all so much for your support, prayers, donations, and purchases from Amazon!! I am so incredibly thankful!! Our income is taking a big hit right now since I've had to close my shop for the last month (and as of now, for the remainder of the summer), plus losing sales from the IHM conference in June, so I am beyond grateful for every single one of you!
Yesterday I set up an ongoing needs wish list for diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, etc and almost everything has been purchased! <3 We should be set for the next couple of months for sure.
I also set up a wishlist for summer activities and therapy supplies for the kids, and again a large chunk of the list has been purchased! :) Because my son receives therapy at school for speech, developmental delays, and sensory issues, I was hoping to be able to stock up on supplies to continue working with him at home all summer until his OT evaluation in the Fall at his new school. Thanks to all of your help, almost everything has been purchased in less than 24 hours!
C's graduation is today, and his last (half) day of school is on Thursday, so I'm really excited (and eternally grateful) for everything to start arriving so that we can pick right up on Friday and keep him from regressing this summer. He had one of the biggest meltdowns of his life the other night because school is ending for the summer, and has been asking to go to summer school. I hope once he sees everything that has been purchased for us, he'll realize that we can have a fun summer at home and he won't have as many meltdowns.
So again, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! :) Please continue to share and to pray for us. I will certainly be praying for all of you <3
Adrianna (and the kids)
Yesterday's post on GoFundMe for those that haven't seen:
***I am currently unable to work due to health issues, both with the kids and with myself. I have had to close down my home business for the time being. I also had to back out of being a vendor at the IHM National Homeschool Conference in June, losing my spot on the invite list for next year as well. Now I'm waitlisted for next year.***
Also, I set up two wish lists on Amazon for on-going needs in case anyone prefers to just buy something instead of making a donation. I know some people would rather actually buy something that they know will be used, so here are the lists just in case. Thank you all so much!
Ongoing needs - http://a.co/4LZSCnH
Activities/Supplies for summer - http://a.co/fv3NF4s
Finally, here is one of my most recent blog posts summarizing the past three, very difficult, years -
GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/adriannacastro
(because "plan" is a bad word in this house)
Summer officially starts for my son in just over a week, and he's already asking if he can go to summer school. Because of his special needs, he can be a bit difficult to deal with when he is home 24/7, so I'm really trying to get a decent schedule figured out for the summer so that I can keep him busy and help him to not regress before he starts his new school in the Fall.
I've decided to take a break from my shop and focus on the kids 100% this summer. I hope to do a combination of unschooling and Mater Amabilis. I've always been incredibly interested in Charlotte Mason and hope to one day be able to homeschool my three kids by following her methods. I love the idea of using living books instead of textbooks, spending time with nature, studying artists and composers, and doing hands-on activities like baking and sewing.
The kids absolutely love books and they love spending time outside, so those are the two things I'm going to base my plans on. I hope to use Read-Aloud Revival to get ideas for books to get from the library, plus just following the kids' leads on their interests. Right now they're interested in bunnies (we just got a pet bunny) and turtles (one of their favorite Dr Seuss stories is Yertle the Turtle), so I want to put a few books on hold for them about those two subjects. We also love audiobooks, which I have been slowly buying, as well as listening for free on Librivox and Storynory. I put them on during the day while the kids play, and they fall asleep to Dr Seuss every night after we've done our bedtime routine.
They're also interested in gardening, so in addition to working in the garden outside, I want to get books about it. At the moment, we are growing sweet peas, tomatoes, peppers, kale, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, peaches, blueberries, and apples. We also have a variety of herbs growing all over the yard. All Spring and Summer they just go outside and pick their own snacks. They also help harvest honey from our bees and gather eggs from the chickens (though, sadly, a racoon recently killed 10 of our 12 new three month old chickens), and they make tea from fresh-picked peppermint and lemongrass. I'm also going to get a deep, clear bucket so that we can grow carrots, which my 2 year old LOVES to eat. I think it'll be a lot of fun for them to watch them grow.
I also plan to utilize Netflix and Amazon on hot days, because they do tend to get brutal here in Virginia. There are groups on Facebook and also tons of blog posts about how to incorporate Netflix, Amazon, Youtube and more into your homeschooling days, and I absolutely love it. Just yesterday, my 5 year old asked if we could watch the Beethoven episode of Baby Einsteins (which is now on Amazon Prime, woot!), and as soon as the music started playing he yelled, "Yes!! Beethoven!" And my 3 year old can tell me all kinds of facts about animals I know nothing about, thanks to Go Diego Go. I know some people believe in being screen-free, and that is absolutely wonderful. But it isn't a good fit for my family right now, as a single mother that works from home with a special needs child, so I definitely love using screens for education.
They loves arts and crafts, so I'm hoping to get to the store in the next week or so to stock up on art supplies. I think they might be at a good age now where we can go on a nature walk in the morning to gather things, and then they can draw them. We live on about 1/3 acre but there are acres of woods backing our yard (which my siblings and I spent hours in while we were growing up), so there are plenty of places to study every morning. I want to set up a nature study bag for each of them so that they can collect their own findings and bring them back to the house to draw or trace in their own journals. I would also love to have them start studying famous artists since they already have an interest in it from watching Little Einsteins.
One of their favorite things right now is their backyard mud kitchen. It was inspired and started by a neighbor friend of mine. Another friend recently gave away one of those Little Tikes plastic outdoor cubes that have holes and ladders for climbing up and through, like this one here but minus the slide, and my mom set up an outdoor umbrella right next to it for additional shade. My neighbor got our kitchen started by bringing over pots and pans, water bottles, ladles, muffin tins, and more. Everything can be purchased from Goodwill for super cheap, and the kids just make mud and have a blast. They've made muffins, witch potions (I don't even know lol), soup, all kinds of "food" and it keeps them busy for hours. They pick flowers and clovers and grass to mix into their creations, and trot back and forth from the house or hose to keep filling their containers with water to make more mud or soup. I'm looking forward to going to Goodwill and finding more kitchen things for them. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest as well, if you're interested. Seriously worth the investment, and the mess ;)
They're also incredibly interested in God and religion right now, so in addition to my mom taking them to daily Mass with her as often as she can, we've been reading the Catholic Children's Treasure Box books every night before bed. They have been really enjoying them, and have started asking a lot more questions about God and our Faith. I think I'm finally in a place now where I can start praying a decade or more of the Rosary with them before bed as well, using crocheted roses to keep their interest. I purchased a set from Joann Collins on Facebook and plan to purchase two more so that each of the kids can have a set. She is wonderful to work with and lets you choose your own colors for your set. The roses are huge and absolutely gorgeous. If you aren't on Facebook, you can still click on the link and scroll down a bit to find her Etsy shop, where the roses are available for purchase.
I guess that about covers it. What are your plans for the summer? Do you homeschool through the summer as well, or do you take a break? Do you have any favorite resources, movies, books, cd's, etc?
I hate Mother's Day.
There, I said it.
All it does is remind me of the husband that I used to have, the one that should be here with the kids - not treating me, but enjoying this gorgeous day together. I miss my best friend. I miss the person I was with him.
People always talk about how strong single mothers are. Well, I don't feel strong anymore.
Sure, I was strong when I left my husband and moved 1000 miles away to live with my family again, newly pregnant, with a 6 month old and barely 2 year old. Not by choice, but because he told me he was no longer happy and wanted a separation.
I was strong when I almost died at 27 weeks pregnant from liver failure, on the verge of pancreatitis, with a blocked bile duct that caused daily gallbladder attacks.
I was strong when I went into preterm labor at 29 weeks, resulting in a 4 day hospital stay to stop labor and figure out what to do with my failing gallbladder that was threatening to kill the baby and/or I.
I was strong during the 12-hour fasted MRI's, CT scans, sonograms, and having dozens of tubes of blood taken to figure out how serious the problem was - to decide whether or not they should take the baby early or not.
I was strong while I suffered from cholangitis and cholestasis for 12 weeks, leaving scars on my legs from tearing at them in the middle of the night to try to stop the itching.
I was strong when I went into labor on 38 weeks but still took my son to his dentist appointment in the morning and went grocery shopping that afternoon, with contractions 10 minutes apart.
I was strong when I underwent my third c-section in under 3 years, recovering in the hospital alone with my jaundiced baby that had to spend three days in the nursery under the lights.
I was strong when, six weeks later, I had to go through yet another surgery alone to have my gallbladder removed- and then two days later, get admitted to the hospital for complications and spend an additional four days, pumping the whole time while on a clear liquid diet for a newborn that ultimately refused to nurse when I returned home.
I was strong when my third baby went through colic and reflux, screaming for two hours every night at 6 pm, and then later getting diagnosed with reactive airways after a couple of scary ER visits where she could barely breathe.
I was strong when my 3 year old son had to go through multiple testing sessions and in-home observations to determine that he did, in fact, have special needs.
I was strong when my 17 month old daughter had her first seizure and we had to rush her to the hospital by ambulance to try to figure out what was happening to her.
I was strong during hours of researching PFAPA because her pediatrician kept saying she was just getting ear infections every month when, like clockwork, she had a 5 day fever with seizures and a host of other symptoms.
I was strong while we drove to the children's hospital an hour and a half away twice weekly, hours in the ER on multiple occasions, dozens of visits with four different kinds of doctors, two EEG's (one was 24 hours) to diagnose her chronic autoinflammatory disease.
I was strong while my baby suffered from a 106*F fever for five days every three weeks, with 1-3 seizures per flare, hallucinating in the middle of the night, screaming because her swollen joints hurt, refusing to eat because she knew that she would just throw it right back up - not to mention the ulcers in her mouth and throat that burned when anything touched them.
I was strong when nurses and doctors told me, "You're so good at that" while I held down my screaming child so that they could stick IV's in her and draw blood and force meds down her throat.
I was strong when I sent my oldest to a public special needs preschool to get the therapies he needed, despite the fact that I never wanted my kids to go to public school.
I was strong when my daughter underwent surgery to attempt to cure her PFAPA. (It didn't, it just cured the fevers and seizures - which was the biggest concern. She still gets flares every 3 weeks with the other symptoms.)
I have been strong.
For three years, I have been a strong single mom - working hard at the business I build from scratch almost five years ago. taking care of my special needs son and chronically ill daughter.
But for some reason, right before Lent started, something snapped. I can't be strong anymore. I have only left the neighborhood once since Easter Mass. I have had more panic attacks than I can count. I've lost 10 pounds from getting sick from anxiety. The thought of leaving the house makes me shake, my heart races, and I feel like I'm going to pass out. My bed is the only place I feel safe.
I have prayed harder this last month than I have in the last three years. I am taking supplements, using essential oils, journaling, praying, reading the bible, resting, going to bed earlier, not working as much.... I'm doing everything right. So why is this happening to me?
I don't know what happened to the strong, I-can-handle-anything girl that I used to be. I miss her. I NEED her. The kids need her.
I don't want to be reliant on medication for the rest of my life. I don't want to learn coping strategies. I want this part of me to just go away. I want God to just take away my anxiety over who-the-hell knows what, and just make me better. I want Him to hurry up and heal me already so that I can be the person I used to be. The mom that could take her kids to the movies, or to the library, or to the amusement park, or even just to the grocery store. The mom that loved to just spend the entire day away from the house, running errands and playing at the park. The mom that could survive on little sleep and lots of coffee without so much as a 5 minute nap during the day. The mom that didn't have panic attacks on every single holiday - even little ones like Mother's Day.