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Jan 29 2013

Real Life as a Recently Widowed Homeschooling Mama (and a yummy granola recipe!)

When I was preparing to write this article, I googled images using the keywords hectic homeschool morning…what I saw appear before me on my laptop made me chuckle out loud!

I would share the pictures with you but I would be breaking copyright laws so here’s my description…

A woman calmly enjoying a steaming mug of coffee. Another with two tween age girls bubbly and happy in a perfectly clean kitchen ready to eat breakfast with beautiful smiles on their faces. Both dressed and ready for the day!

Seriously?

Hectic Homeschool morning?

There was image after image of beautiful, harmonious scenes like the ones you see above.

Currently, our mornings do not start off quite this peacefully. HA!!!  They are not even close and I know I cannot be alone here!  Please tell me that I am not alone here.

To help set the stage let’s look back for a moment…

Over the past six+ months our lives have been totally turned upside down.  Any assemblance of our previous routines fell away after we finally made it home after our long weeks of life revolving around recovering in rehab hospitals.  New, individual, medication schedules for all three of us. When we first got home, we had bathing aides coming to our house three days a week to help the boys with bathing, since they were both using walkers to get around and I was still very weak and couldn’t lift them in and out of the tub and shower.  We worked around when they could come to our house…which totally threw things off for us.  A home health nurse came once a week to check on their progress.  And by week three a homemaking aide was added to the picture three days a week.

Of course you need to add to that two days a week when I had to arrange rides for us to get both boys and me, and their bulky walkers to and from physical therapy along with me with my neck brace getting them in and out was an engineering feat.

And then getting everyone safely out of the hospital, back in the car…with all of us trying to deal with anxiety from the PTSD of the accident.

And then there were follow-up doctor, specialist appointments…you get the idea.

In the midst of all of this we continued homeschooling in whatever form we could each day.

This was a very, new tornado of activity…for a homeschooling family that was used to a relaxed daily routine, taking their days at a slower pace.

On top of this, we were each attempting to deal with the shock, trauma, and grief of living through a tragic car accident that sent our beloved father, and my husband to his heavenly home.

And learning to deal with this new life without Daddy in the middle of our days…helping…leading…walking right by my side…always there when we needed him.  He was now gone…and our lives will never be the same.

Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time kicking myself for not always handling it as well as I thought I should.  Sigh.  

After the first month or so, I got a little more used to things as did the boys…but it was still an upside down and broken version of the life we were so comfortable and happy living with Daddy.

Every day of the week had a different schedule…every single week.  There was no such thing as a “regular day” anymore and I was fighting my way through a dense fog of grief while still finding glimpses of the amazing gifts of joy and the amazing blessing of finally being home with my kids…

finally sleeping in the same house as my kids.

And I was, and am, so very, very grateful for that.

And I was, and am, so very, very grateful for all of the aides,  volunteers, friends and family who walked with us during those first traumatic months of healing our bodies, minds and spirits…but that is another story.

The reason I walk down this road of remembering is to share with all of you…and remind me…of how we got to where we are now.

Our old familiar “morning routine” no longer exists.

We lived through and survived six months of weeks filled with appointments that slowly dwindled down to just a few and now to only once every couple of months.  We have all been discharged from physical therapy!  Woo Hoo!

Many people have told me that we would find a “new sense of normal” after a while.

I am here to tell you that “normal is only a setting on a washing machine” at our house.

But that’s OK.

As God has led me through this time of remembering and accepting the fact that we did the best we could under the circumstances…please don’t miss this one fact…no matter how rough it has been…I am filled with gratitude that both boys and I miraculously survived this tragic accident and are alive and able to get around and do so much more than any of the medical team thought we would and I see each one of our lives as a priceless gift rescued by God.

But these beautiful gifts struggle with mornings. This is real life. We went from the familiar and the security of dealing with life with Daddy with us.  To having to throw any assemblance of the routine or rhythm we had out the window and are now starting from scratch…with a lot of bad habits formed in the process because of what we have all been through.

Change isn’t impossible, after all we are working through this with God in our midst.

I just have to hold onto that fact when my nine-year old decides to down six bananas while my four-year old curls up next to me upstairs in the quiet space of my room and keeps me there with the heart melting words, “I love snuggling with you in the morning, Mommy.  And then Josh, my nine-year old spends the rest of the day “tooting” (as we delicately put it in our house) up a stinky storm and running back and forth to the bathroom in the midst of meals, lessons, chores and fun.

Our lives are messy right now.  Up to now I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure how to manage everything by myself and getting myself pretty darn overwhelmed with everything.

After a month of dealing with life with children tearing across the house to the bathroom with the stomach flu…and occasionally actually making it…followed by two more weeks of upper respiratory flu…the later of which finally hit me last week…I think we are finally on the mend.

This was taken four weeks AFTER I spent two days with him completely organizing it with him before we all got sick for a month! A month ago it was a totally different story! Believe me!  Yes we have a big job ahead of us this week!

That means it is time to start wading through the messiness of our current, real life and start getting organized and discovering what will work for us now that we are a family of three (or four once a month) instead of what we were before the accident.

My first step was to wrack my brain for whatever it was that I used to do to fill my guys up in the morning so that they wouldn’t completely raid the fruit basket!  And over the weekend, while I was resting in bed recovering from the flu while a dear friend took my boys to church, IT HIT ME!

We used to eat granola or oatmeal along with whatever else was on the menu, every morning!

So bright and early Monday morning when I was finally starting to feel better (and had no fever Woo Hoo!) I made a batch of my simple, yet yummy, homemade granola and it was an instant hit!

Little boys were scrambling around to do their morning chores so that they could have a bowl of their favorite granola!  I returned to the good old rule of no morning chores done?  No granola for you.  And you know what?  It is starting to work!

Has the crazy, messiness of our lives been completely solved with a bowl of granola in the morning?  No.  Seriously, who’s would be?

But it is a start and I have to admit it sure feels good to start the day with something yummy, good for us, and oh so familiar.

The rest of the mess…I am working on.  In fact tomorrow morning the boys know we are having a family meeting to get started!  Funny how remembering this one thing has triggered a whole list of things Will and I used to do with them that helped manage their behavior in a positive way and make all of our lives a little easier in the process…not an easy feat with two hyperactive boys trying out all of the new boundaries.

I’ll share how our family meeting and our new systems go in another article next week, but in the meantime a whole list of ladies over on our Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Page have been asking me for my homemade granola recipe and I promised to share it here today…so here it is!

Fresh out of the oven! (Yes my cookie sheet is that discolored. I’m being real, people!)

Mary Joy’s Simply, Basic “Granola”

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Coat two cookie sheets with your favorite cooking spray or oil.

Melt a cup of butter or margarine in a large pot on the stove.

Add 3/4  or a cup of brown sugar your choice, I go with a little less since sugar seems to make my guys a little crazy.

Stir until melted and then turn off the burner.

Add two teaspoons of ground cinnamon.

Add a tablespoon of brown flax seeds. (No my boys don’t know about this.  What they don’t know is oh so good for them!)

Add two tablespoons of wheat germ. ( No they don’t know about this either! Shhhh…it’s our little secret, right?)

Stir.

Add eight cups of rolled oats.

Stir until oats are well coated.

Use a rubber spatula or large wooden spoon to spread mixture into an even thin layer on the two cookie sheets (with edges so it doesn’t make a mess in your oven!)

Bake for just 8-10 minutes depending on your oven and altitude.

Cool fully before breaking it up to eat.

I offer or enjoy the following toppings in my own granola in the morning…sliver almonds, raisins, miniature chocolate chips.  You do what sounds good to you!

Pour milk over it and enjoy!

It is very filling, has LOTS of needed fiber…and will keep a nine-year old boy from feeling the need to seriously raid your stock of bananas or apples…at least at my house!

So there you have it.  Our lives may be messy and we may be living in the midst of a year of recovery, healing, grieving, and the craziness that happens in the middle of all of it.  But with God’s help…this too we shall survive.

Well, I hope I haven’t scared you off and that you will come back on Friday to join me in the Blessing Journal Fridays Challenge that helps me to keep my eyes on the amazing Blessings God gives us in the midst of the messiness of our lives.  This Friday’s focus is on God’s Faithfulness…be sure to check out last week’s challenge if you missed it or just start new this week.  No guilt allowed!

Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter!

Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

Mary Joy

Gathering with:

Make Your Home Sing Mondays at Mom’s the Word I love to hear!

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/2013/01/29/real-life-as-a-recently-widowed-homeschooling-mama-and-granola-recipe/

  • Roberta

    Thank you for sharing your story, Mary Joy! You are such a blessing! I love reading about you, your boys and your Annie and all that is going on in your walk with Christ! May your hearts, bodies, minds and spirits continue to heal. Blessings to you and yours!

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      You are such an encouragement to me, Roberta. Thank you so much. I am blessed that you enjoy and are blessed by walking this journey with us. Your prayers mean so much to us. I really appreciate your comments. I pray your journey is going well today too. God bless you and your family!

      Blessings! ~Mary Joy

  • Mary Lou

    Mary Joy, thank you for your blog….I too, am a homeschool mom, but with four kiddos. Unfortunately, I am alone as the parent of this home. Your blog was encouraging to me. While I “teach” my 10th and 3rd grader, I also am planning a wedding with my oldest and potty training my youngest. (And working at a dance studio and cleaning houses for income.) You are in my prayers, as God has and will fill in the “gaps” where you cannot. His has and is for me. I am glad to met you…although only online…sweet sister in our Lord.

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Mary Lou,

      I am I am glad to meet you here on-line too! Wow. I am inspired by how God is leading and taking care of you and your family! I am so, so blessed that you are encouraged by how God is helping me in figuring out this new world of homeschooling as a widowed Mama. You sharing how you are able to do it has inspired me and encouraged me more than you know. I really appreciate you doing that. I will be praying for you guys. You have so much going on too! Wow. And planning a wedding!! How exciting! When is the wedding? I will be praying! You have a plateful! The fact that you share that and that God is filling in the gaps for you and your children, blesses me so much. Just what I needed to hear. God bless you!

      I look forward to continuing to get to know you better! I would love to hear more about your single parenting homeschooling. It is a new challenge. But as you say too…with God it is possible! God bless you and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It has meant so much to me to hear how I am not alone in following the Lord’s leading to homeschooling as a single parent now.

      Blessings!~~Mary Joy

  • Mindy

    My grief and suffering were never as deep as yours, but when I went through thryroid cancer, I also had to adapt to the new circumstances and limitations. Many days I just had the kids come to me and snuggle on my bed while we read, did math, etc. I’m encouraged you want to continue homeschooling even though life is so hard now. It gives your kids a chance to heal in a place of love and understanding, instead of having to get up every day and face a room of people who really don’t know or understand what they’re going through.
    I appreciate how you face this great sorrow with such joy and faith. Sometimes when I read your blog I just cry out in my heart, “Lord, I don’t understand!” But, His ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts, they are higher and more holy. Your faithfulness through this time gives those with us with lesser trials an example and a hope.

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Mindy,

      We all have our own trials and suffering and it sounds like you have been through a lot of very hard times too. I am so glad that the Lord is healing you and we are blessed to have the opportunity to get to know you. Wow! What a beautiful testimony you have! I know what you mean about homeschooling in whatever form you can each day. It sounds like you went through a lot. I am so sorry. I know that had to be so hard.

      I was so blessed that Will and I made the decision to start homeschooling the boys two years ago and that we had finished our first full year of it before the accident. The medical team told me that if we weren’t already homeschooling this year that they were going to help me get connected with the public school home education program for our state because Josh wasn’t going to be strong enough physically to return to public school classroom experiences this year. So God had everything all in place for us so we were ready to be home and healing using an approach that was familiar and comfortable to us as we grieve, recover physically and emotionally from the accident and our injuries and the loss of Daddy/Will.

      Like you, I don’t know why things are happening the way they are in our family right now. But I know that God will use it to grow us and make something painful and broken into something beautiful for His Glory to shine and help others to know of His faithfulness in all situations and how much He wants to be there for them as well. I stand in that belief. It is what gets me through each day. Thirty minutes before the accident, Will led our family in praying together to commit, once again, our lives as a family, our marriage, and as individuals to doing everything we do for His glory to help grow the Kingdom of God. I am in awe at how God helped prepare me, as much as could be, for Will’s going home to heaven. And I am even more grateful that He is with me through all of this. I could never do it without Him. It is very, very hard some days…but then there are bright spots too. And I am learning to lean on my Savior more than I ever dreamt I would need to. We’ll get through this one day at a time too…together and with God carrying us. Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers. You will never know how much they mean to me and my family. God bless you and yours! I will be praying for your continued freedom from cancer! God is so awesome!

      Sitting at His feet with so much to learn,

      Mary Joy

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