Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Leaves

It appears that I am now a seasonal blogger.
Sheesh, that last post was from June!

I need to get caught up on a few things.

Brendan graduated from high school. Which I think I already posted, but it was how we started off the Summer! Very exciting, and now I am down to one student.

I officially started my business over the Summer. This isn't something that you can do in a week, or even a month. It started with filing the name with the state, getting insurance and business cards, and then waiting for the various agencies and individuals to do their jobs.
They came through and New Leaf Organizing Services was born.
I have been working as an independant contractor for Sappari Solutions, and so far things are going quite well. I am working just enough eack week to pay for tuition for John and Brendan, and I am still home most of the week to give Paul's junior year and our co-op classes the attention they need.

John is doing a full load at Harford Community College. He is taking four classes, and is on the dean's list and honor society. His grades last semester were great and he is working hard to keep them that way. He is majoring in business and he will probably transfer to a university next Fall.

Brendan is taking two classes. Astronomy and the lab that goes with it. He is just trying to get his feet wet this semester so that he can take on more in the Spring.

Paul has a very full schedule this year.
We are finishing up Algebra II, more of a review actually while he prepares to take his ACT test.
He also has Literature, History, World Religions, Karate, Dama, Film, and Robotics for science.
Several of these subjects are being covered in our co-op.
I am teaching Religion, and Literature, and helping out with History, Drama and Film.

Our co-op is under-going a pretty dramatic change. We have moved from our old location at the Boys and Girls Club, and are now going to be using the upstairs of the school at St Patricks Church here in Havre de Grace. It has been a rather daunting task, as much for the parish as for our families. The Archdiocese requires all adults to be cleared for the protection of the children, which is a good practice, and the kids have to be trained to recognize potentially abusive situations. We have also opened the o-op to several new families and it has been a rather uphill climb to get everything ready, but we had our first day last week and I thoroughly enjoyed my classes! What a great group of kids!!

For Drama they will be performing "Our Town", a great little play.
I am glad that Paul is up for it. I love watching him perform on stage.

We have a new deck, and a new door our to it from the kitchen. I absolutely love it and I have been enjoying my coffee out there most mornings.

We have been so blest to be able to add that this year. Tim works so hard, and the house is a his ongoing project. Nice for him that the deck project was one that we hired someone to do. It got done so quick and now we have it to enjoy!

Speaking of ongoing projects, this is a temperature blanket that I have been adding a row to each day.
It is so much fun!! I am getting back into the cooler colors and I never knnow how it will look!

I hope that it isn't Christmas before I post again!
Our Maggie is seven and such a pretty girl!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June Evening

It was a beautiful evening downtown!

I went down to take pictures of this place:

Because I want to keep a photo record of the project.

Looking across the old ferry route.

There was this guy....

Add caption

Such a nice night to sit on a pier 

And the miniature lighthouse

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chasing Lions

Somewhere I once heard a saying. "If you want to catch a Mountain Lion, all you have to do is turn your back on it."
These wily beasts are notorious for slinking along through the brush, unseen and unheard, and many times the first thing an unwary hiker is aware of is 150 pounds of teeth and claws on their back.
A wary hiker, while the cat is still mostly invisible in it's natural habitat, can pick up clues and may be able to take measures to avoid being dinner. A rustling, a disturbance in the brush, maybe even the flick of a tail or the sight of a tawny coat through the brush, give clues that it would be a healthy thing to pay attention.
The Mountain Lion is a deadly adversary, and if you are in his home, and you don't have the tools to avoid him, you can easily become his vicitim.

There is another adversary, much closer to home, that is just as elusive, just as persistant and just as deadly, and if it is stalking you, you are likely unaware, or only mildly concerned.
This adversary is Autoimmune Disease.

Autoimmune diseases and disorders are now a constant in the world that we live in.
A combination of factors, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle related, can trigger a disorder that can be life-changing and debilitating, and for a large part of the population the signs and symptoms are fleeting and seemingly disconnected.
Odd rashes, pains, sensory disruptions, and "funny feelings" can make the person in the early stages of an autoimmune condition sound like they are more in need of mental health intervention than medical, and truthfully, these conditions are rooted in our systems at the cellular level, so chasing symptoms in the early stages is mostly pointless.
Following symptoms that may occur months, or even years, apart and trying to tie them together into something that may or may not even be on the books yet, is really not an option for most people.

It used to be that we had to just wait to see what developed.
My mom had odd symptoms and seemingly unconnected conditions years before she was diagnosed with Scleroderma, a connective tissue disorder that was rare at the time.
Both of my daughters have been plagued with varied symptoms of autoimmune conditions for most of their lives.
Laura was diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a pre-teen, and recently Multiple Sclerosis.
Nina has so many autoimmune issues that her doctor treats her symptoms, but no actual diagnosis has been forthcoming.
I have had odd connective tissue symptoms most of my life. I really don't want to chase down that lion, so I am just walking as fast as I can and hoping I make it to the trailhead before he pounces.

Until recently I figured it would just be  matter of time before something manifested itself and I learned what I was going to have to deal with and what might eventually disable me. I figured I was powerless to stop it.

Lately, however, I have been reading more and more about inflammation and the effects that it has on so many systems and organs in the body.
The brain, nervous system, GI tract, connective tissues and others are all profoundly affected by inflammation and up until now there just wasn't enough knowlege in the field to empower the person affected.
Inflammation is caused by different factors and some of them are unavoidable. Our bodies respond to things in the environment, viruses, bacteria and many other things by mounting a defense at the cellular level. Sometimes, in some people, the body becomes stuck in an overactive response that is then perpetuated by exposure to things that it has become sensitive to. Things like pollen, certain foods, heavy metals, and stress bring inflammation to a rolling boil and keep it there, damaging cells in the process.

Chasing down the cause, and treating it, can be finacially, emotionally and mentally daunting and sometimes medically impossible, but approaching the effects; working to change diet, habits and lifestyle, may allow those that suffer from autoimmune, and related disease, a new way of being pro-active and slowing, arresting or even reversing the damage.

So, Tim and I are trying the simplest level of this diet:

It was developed for people with MS, but it's quite close to many of the diets that are being suggested for people who want to avoid the diseases of aging, like Alzheimer's and dementia. The protocol is based mainly on foods that are high in the nutrients that we need to produce healthy mitochondria, so that our bodies can arrest problematic changes in the cells. The changes are pretty drastic, but the way that we eat in western society is killing us. It just has to be better to eat this diet than to keep eating all that processed crap.
Giving up sugar has been a really tough one for me. I fail frequently, but I am determined. When I do slip and have something sugary, I pay for it for hours. I just feel terrible.
Dairy has been really easy, because I am really not a big fan of it. Almond milk is downright delicious!
Gluten...well, my goal is to beat the first two, eat up the bread and stuff in the house, and then stop buying it. I am quite a bread lover, and that's gonna be a hard one. And there is gluten in so many things!
Adding all the veggies, fruits and other things in is actually quite fun. I have been finding recipes that are fantastic and filling, for things that I never would have imagined I would like.

 Knowing that there is the wildcat of autoimmune disease stalking somewhere out there, I am hoping that by cutting out the foods that promote inflammation, adding in foods that encourage cellular health, and maintaining an active lifestyle, we may be able to beat the beast to the trailhead. Maybe we can go into our later years with healthier bodies than we had in the earlier ones.
If this works out the way we hope, we may never know what we missed. And that's just fine.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's been that kind of month...

Tim had a rather bad accident on Mother's Day.
He tore both of his Quadriceps tendons off of his knee-caps. 
Not at all what we expected, and not at all the way he planned to spend the next few months.
Healing is going to be a long process, but he has a good doctor, and he is ready to go when they give him the ok to start Physical Therapy. 
Not sure when he can get back to the office, but work at home is going OK. 
I'll update after the next appointment. For now, we are just praying that things progess smoothly. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

2017 Homeschool Prom

Well, John has been out of school for a couple of years, but he was invited to go to this year's prom by Yana and he was very happy to join in the festivities!

He did have a beautiful date!

He did great on the corsage!

And the whole group had a great time!


What a Blessing to be able to join the Andrews family, and Good Shepherd parish for this year's Confirmation! John was sponsor to Patrick Andrews and the Mass was wonderful!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Homeschool Co-op Dreamin'

For all the years that we have homeschooled, some of the best have been those in which we have been members of a multi-family co-op. We have been able to get together once a week, socialize, teach some really challenging courses, and our kids have lerned what it's like to work in a class room, under a teacher. Some of these moms have been truly amazing teachers.

Now it's looking like we once again need  new home.
We have been at the Boys and Girls Club here in Havre de Grace for the last three years, but that is coming to an end due to restructuring.
There is a possibility that our parish, St Patrick's, my be able to provide some space. A nice place to learn, and pray, and be together.

Several things have to fall into place first, but we are praying, and if it's God's will, it will happen.
We haven't been in a Catholic enviroment yet, and Mass and consecrated space would be wonderful!
The space that we my be able to use has been a convent in the past.
I think that's pretty special.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


I have been watching this gem of a production, Victoria, from the BBC.

They have outdone themselves, and that takes some doing these days.

I love the story so much, and I hope that they have taken care to provide as much of the truth as possible, because the story of the little queen, who was so bigger-than-life, and her loves, passions, and experiences, has completely captivated me.

Victoria's love for her husband, Albert, a German prince not immediately accepted by the aristocracy
and the politcal machine of the day, is portrayed so beautifully.
There is a mystery in the relationship, and they are shown to be a couple with a deep love, that were always challenging each other to grow and embrace new things.

What a time it must have been to have to rule, with industry and politics shifting constantly. New things coming along almost every day and the good of the country, the economy, and the people to try to balance.

Dickens portrays the time as very dark and cruel, for those who were in the unfortunate position of the common folk. His writing has become the face of the latter 19th century, and while it is probably an accurate commentary, we don't often think about the people that had to make decisions during this tumultuous time. The people who had been brought up with the mores of the past, but had to have the courage to step into the future. One of my favorite scenes is Prince Albert taking his first ride aboard "Planet", a little steam engine in the countryside. What a thrill for him!

I have only finished episode 7. I am going to watch the next one tomorrow night!

BBC, another triumph!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday

I was sitting at Mass this morning and thinking about how beautiful the rhythm of the Liturgical seasons is. Hearing the Old Testament readings of the prophesies relating to Jesus, and the Psalm of the day, which always pulls at my heart, and then the reading of the Passion. Listening to the Gospel in which Jesus goes to His death and takes on the sin of the world. I find so much certainty and assurance. We don't just read the Bible and hear the story and expect to be changed by it as we might be an experience that touches us, but that we lose touch with over time. No, we are part of this great story. It is who we are and we are changed over time, year after year, through all the seasons of life. Every year there is something different that I notice, or something that I read or listen to that adds something new to the narrative that is 2000 years old, but as new as each soul that embraces it.

This morning when I heard the reading of the passion I noticed something that I hadn't before. It sys that the saints that werre in their tombs were raised and coming forth from their tombs after His ressurection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. I know that I have heard this many times, but I don't think I ever really noticed it. I didn't give it  lot of thought. What were these people like? Who did they approach? Did they get to stay in the world for a long time?
I am not young. I have heard this reading year after year, and yet today I was struck by this particular part of it in a new way. Our Faith never gets old! It's as new and exciting and vibrant as the Easter Sunday when Jesus stepped from the tomb.
The Holy Spirit is forever blessing us with new graces and we are reborn at every Mass when we receive His sacred Body and Blood.
The Sacraments are the manifestation of His working in us and this renewal. Real, physical, tangible conduits of His Grace that are for us in every time and season. These are things that never change, yet they change us. This brings me to my knees. It brings me to the cross and to His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Oh, heart, if you could truly conceive of how miraculous and amazing this Love is and how complete this Mercy, you would burst with the incomparabe Joy of it all.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Good Day!

All in all.

Got going early so that we could get Paul on his way to Wilmington for the annual Palm Saturday Pilgrimage.
I went to help a friend get her house cleaned as they are moving to a new place and she is pregnant and cleaning is a huge job.
Brendan is visiting a friend in Elkton and John is at work.
Tomorrow I will be working in the yard and I will do some before and after pictures.
Nice weather and all!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


It's finally April.
We have turned the corner, I think, as far as the weather goes, and I can now easily count the weeks of school that are left.
This time of year is always a time of mixed feelings.
What the heck am I doing? Who do I think I am? How will my kids find their futures?
I have been teaching them their whole lives and it looks like they are well prepared. They can all reason well, they are excellent critical thinkers. They have their Faith.
But we are not "normal". We have not followed the path to success that the world tells us is so crucial.

Paul turned 15 yesterday!! The youngest son is forging ahead in all things teen, doing well in school, enjoying time with friends, and looking forward to more independence.

Brendan will be 17 next week, and he is graduating in June. Wow. I still haven't wrapped my head around that. He is taking a class at the college and he is doing well. Statistics isn't for the faint of heart. He has to wrap up History and Literature. He is hoping to get a job over the Summer and he will decide whether to go to community college in the Fall. He's not sure yet.

John is working and going to school. He has taken to college very well, as I suspected he would.

It's funny how you think you know what life will look like at each stage, and then how God puts things in place to make it not quite what you imagined. You think there is a "right" way to do things, usually based on what everyone else is doing, and then when you step outside the "norm" you wonder constantly if you're OK.

The "right" way to raise kids is to start a college fund when they're born, enroll them in school, round out their time with sports and music lessons, run them all over creation, start applying to colleges when they are Juniors in high school and make sure that all the pieces are in place so that they can get accepted to the best colleges and hopefully get scholarship money.
This will ensure that they get the right degree, meet the right people and find the right job.
And for many people, that's true. For many people, that's a sound plan.

But what about us?
No college fund.
No school enrollment, although it seems like, for these guys at least, that has worked out for the better.
Not much in the way of sports, since organized athletics seems to be one of those necessary evils that we tried and then left somewhere in elementary school. It's not that the boys don't enjoy physical activity. Biking, hiking, skateboarding, swimming and often walking wherever they want to go, these are all things that they do on their own just because they like to. Still nobody's getting any coaching, except for Paul who has been doing Karate for a long time.
Applying to college? John applied and got into several good schools, but life got in the way, and he took a year to work and figure things out. And I am SO glad that he did it that way! Learning about why you should pursue higher education, for your own purposes, is probably the best "course" of study that you can undertake after high school. It's important to keep moving forward, but the people that are racing to the finish line may get there and realize that they are holding a trophy that they really don't want.

This whole endeavor, to give children the formation and foundation that will take them to the places that God wants them to be, is nothing but a leap of faith. No matter who you are, if you have kids you have chosen to jump off a very steep and scary cliff into a fast flowing and muddy river. You can't see the bottom and you don't know where it is taking you, but there is a long, strong rope to hold on to and it will keep you from drowning if you just hang on. It's nothing but the Grace of God, whether you believe in Him or not. For all the love and commitment we have for our kids, He has a much bigger stake in them. He desires nothing more than to have them with Him for all eternity and He will aways respond when we, as parents, ask Him for Grace and guidance.

I have never been sure that I can do all that I need to do to give my kids what they need to get there, but I have always been sure that He is with me and that He will. I have never been a strong swimmer, and without that rope I would have drowned long ago.

So much is springing forth in this season, and I pray that I can be open-hearted and energetic enough to follow through with whatever God shows us.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ground Hogs....What Do They Know?

Today is absolutely glorious!
The sun is out, the air is warmish, well at least the wind isn't blowing, and the birds were actually singing in the trees.
Maggie and I had a wonderful walk, and it really does lift the spirits.
I have been in something of a funk for the last few days, and this break in winter was just what I needed.
I have work to do inside this afternoon but now I have the energy to do it.

Brendan and Paul are both sick right now. There is a fluish bug going around and Paul has been hit really hard. Brendan's case isn't so bad, but he still feels yucky and has no energy.
Paul says that he is feeling a bit better today, so I will put off the trip to the doctor.

Well, off to do some cleaning. I am going to change the hamster cage. At least he hasn't made any weather predictions like some other rodents that I could mention.

Monday, January 23, 2017


In one capacity or another, I have been a professional organizer for around 10 years, and for most of those years I have been organizing with Sappari Solutions, a great company run by a good friend. I have learned a tremendous amount in the years that I have worked for Nettie, and I count it as time well spent. Over the last few weeks, however, I could feel the need to make a change. I have been feeling like Sappari and I just don't fit anymore. I want to try to fin a way to work that fits my family and my work style. I have cleaned with a friend, and really enjoyed it, and I have some ideas as to the types of jobs that I can get organizing. I want to continue my certification. and I would love to work with the elderly as they transition from the family home to smaller spaces. I also want to work with homeschooling families in one way or another, as a consultant and family organizer.
I need to do a bit of planning and think about a way to put myself out there, but I know that this has come from God, and that He will carry me through to whatever He has planned.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Here we go!
If you are hitting a "reset" button in any area of your life, consider taking it to prayer, starting today.
I am looking at so many things that need to be reevaluated, revamped, restarted.
I want to do each of these things justice and give them the effort that they are due.

Last night I went to Confession, to start the year absolved and in a good place with God.
The whole family went, and as we all walk down our personal paths this year, we can each step out knowing that we are in a state of Grace. That's the most important step to take over anything else.

I have many plans and only some of them will get past the "outline" phase.
Somme of them will be shelved, but I want to listen closely to God so that the ones that He wants to "Flesh out" become sentences, paragraphs, and then complete essays.

He knows of the plans that He has for us. Plans for a bright future and great Joy!