Probably time to give an update to round out 2022. If you just want to know what I’ve been up to for the last two months (since my last post), just skip to the bottom. I won’t judge you for it. Most pictures are at the end. Also – affiliate links! So if you click I will get some $$$ to put towards all the books I didn’t get for Christmas.
We started the year with COVID, but thankfully only Byron and Addie tested positive. Teddy continued to recover from his November 2021 back surgery, and we eased back into a regular homeschooling routine.
- 2022 New Year’s Resolutions
- Advent and the 12 Days
- COVID in Da House
- Winter Happenings
- Favorite Read – Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
We had our first emergency admission since November 2019 this month due to Teddy catching a stomach bug. We remained short on nursing as three nurses left, so many of Fulton’s hours went uncovered. I did a mid-year homeschool post, and things were going okay, but in the background I’d already reached out to the local school district about enrolling the boys for the next school year. Teddy came home from the hospital in time for our family Super Bowl Party, but then early the next week we travelled to Upstate New York for a funeral. The rest of the month was spent catching up and squeezing in a rescheduled field trip.
- 2021-22 Homeschool Midyear Review
- Favorite Read – Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
In March we got our first foster placement and things got 100x harder. We thought we knew what we signed up for, but it was a much more challenging situation than anything we could’ve imagined. I quickly entered “survival mode”: a place I hadn’t been in for a few years. I resumed drinking regular coffee after switching to decaf for Lent in 2020.
It was such a hard month. Things never really got easier for us or our foster son Todd. I brought in babysitters just for him so we could all get a break now and then and home schooling suffered as I tried to fit in everything while Todd was in school. We had a nice Easter, which was a highlight during an otherwise stressful time. On top of everything else, Fulton’s wheelchair stopped working and we had to resort to using his old powerchair which isn’t sized well for him anymore. This meant he struggled to drive around and be independent.
I started the month by speaking at a prison, and then Fulton got confirmed. A couple days later I got sick for the first time in a long while and struggled to help care for everyone. We remained short on nursing and Tony (who still works from home) tried to manage everything on his own. I picked up Addie at college (despite still feeling like garbage) and came home to learn Fulton had developed a serious cold himself. He ultimately required a hospitalization of almost two weeks.Our foster son also had a cold but it didn’t seem to slow him down at all. Teddy got sick, but successfully recovered at home. Caring for a foster child while one of our own was in the hospital was my “worst case scenario” and here we were, only a couple months into our first placement trying to make it work. Thankfully friends and family generously donated to help us cover the cost of parking, hospital food and meals for home.
Ultimately, I would miss my sisters baby shower, and my illness would linger and return with a vengeance. The tenants at our old house would move out and we’d be left with a bigger mess than we thought possible for four people to create in such a short time. We also got the news that MDA camp would be cancelled again (third year in a row) due to lack of volunteers. We were all feeling pretty defeated by this point.
We finished our school year and St. Bruno the Great Homeschool graduated it’s second student! Byron ended his high school career and planned to attend Kutztown University in the fall to study writing. Although the boys didn’t get to go to MDA camp, I did take them and Addie on a trip to Lancaster for a few nights. I officially enrolled the boys in the local public school district and the process of testing was kick started. After a really rough end to the school year, I was ready to pass the torch for at least one year. We got word that Todd was going to be placed with a family member and honestly, we all heaved a sigh of relief. Edie tested positive for COVID an hour after Todd left our house, but thankfully the rest of our family remained COVID free, as did Todd, and his caseworker and new family were very understanding. We had our usual Nativity of St. John the Baptist party and Fulton turned 14 on the 28th. It finally felt like summer had arrived.
I attended the Kutztown Folk festival while Byron attended orientation. (“That could’ve been an email.” was his takeaway from the event.) We listed our old home for sale after renting it for the last three years. We fully enjoyed the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel festival in our town after a few years of conflicts and quarantine prevented us from attending. I flew to Chicago for the Catholic Marketing Network Tradeshow to promote my book and ministry and returned home with a little over 24 hours to pack and prepare for our drive to Florida. After our local MDA camp was cancelled I looked for those that still had openings; of course the boys wanted to attend a camp in Florida. Luckily there was an MDA camp above Orlando that could take them so we got our week of respite, and they had a fun week of camp! We didn’t get any calls from camp during the week, which was unusual, but it allowed Tony and I to fully relax and enjoy ourselves. My niece was born (my sister’s first child!) while we were in Florida too. On our return home, we’d no sooner unpacked the van than we were repacking it for Addie’s return to college.
- Todd Moves On, And the Rest of June
- How To Support a Friend Whose Life Sucks Right Now
- Favorite Read – Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America
Addie and I drove to Cleveland early in the month so she could get trained to be an RA in her dorm. We knew we wouldn’t see her again until winter break since her work hours would make coming home for shorter breaks not practical. It’s hard to have her gone, but she’s doing so well, we can’t help but also be happy for her. The local school district and I were working out all the details for the boys return to school after Labor Day, and Byron quit his job at McDonalds a bit early so he could enjoy the remainder of his summer. Tony drove him to Kutztown on the 27th. Both he and Addie began classes on Monday the 29th. I text my big kids a lot, and thankfully they text me back…sometimes they even send me actual text and not memes.
- College Expectations, Festivals, and End of July Travels
- Florida and Cleveland
- Back to School: Brick and Mortar Explanation
- Favorite Read – Fated Sky: Astrology in History
Back to school! Fulton is in 9th grade at the high school, and Teddy is in 6th grade at the middle school. Edie is a junior and is homeschooled. Our calendar quickly fills with activities, clubs, high school football games, and Back to School Nights. I turned 44 and Addie turned 20!!! I’m still not used to celebrating birthdays (or any special event) without all my kids present. And we finally got Fulton’s powerchair fixed after five months of me calling and the harassing the wheelchair repair company.
The month of IEP meetings as we work out all the kinks! But thankfully, school is going well for both boys. I spent the first half of the month working on a talk for a presentation I was to give at the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities Conference so I could be focused on squeezing the fat cheeks of my new niece for the week prior. Tony and I celebrated 21 years of marriage on the 13th and the next day I flew to Los Angeles- my first time on the West Coast! I spent five days with my sister and niece and savored the warm weather. Then I flew to Houston for the NCPD conference for the weekend. I landed just as the Astros game was wrapping up so it took me a while to get an Uber. It was an inspiring conference- on the days I feel like I’m the only one writing about these issues (for my ministry) or trying to spread awareness, this event reminded me I wasn’t alone and that there are other Catholics out there working to make the Church a more inclusive and welcoming place. I got home just in time to carve pumpkins and help with Halloween costumes. Byron turned 19 off at college, but thankfully he came home the next weekend to celebrate.
And why was Byron home? To bartend our 80s themed party of course! (He also got a family birthday party, don’t worry.) It was a radical time featuring 80s cocktails and food and lots of makeup.
But here’s where I need to consult my planner because my last blog post was on November 7. What have I been up to since then? A big part of it has been that I’ve been throwing as much time as I can into creating resources for my ministry. After spending most of my day on my computer either writing, editing, or laying out books, posts and videos, sitting down and writing a blog post is really the last way I want to spend my free time. And even though I’ve allocated a specific time to writing personal blog posts, I often spend that time on “work” for the ministry instead. But other things have been happening.
I was privileged to pray a rosary with Kristen from Many Hail Marys on Instagram and talk about my book and ministry. That was probably the most social media exposure I’d had in a long while! Such a great community.
I traveled to Lancaster to spend time with an family friend whose husband was in hospice care at home. When her kids put out a call on social media for caregiver help, I was like, that’s something I could do! I enjoyed visiting with her and also helping out. (Her husband, who was only 54, passed away on November 26. Please pray for his soul and keep his whole family in your prayers.)
Edie got to visit her first maritime school in Massachusetts with Tony and during a demonstration steering their virtual ship around the NY Harbor, Edie got to proudly declare that she’d already piloted an actual boat around the NY Harbor. Her Sea Scout experience is definitely giving her an advantage.
Byron came home again for Thanksgiving and we celebrated with my family in Lancaster. We did a video call with Addie who was celebrating with her boyfriend’s family. Since he is from the Cleveland area, I’m glad she has somewhere to go for special occasions and family dinners when she can’t be with us.
We entered Advent and I started journaling daily. Most nights before bed now, I write down the day’s happenings, along with any pressing thoughts weighing on my mind in a small Moleskin notebook. My goal is just one page of notes, and since it’s such a small notebook, it doesn’t seem like an overwhelming task. So I have been keeping track of things, even if I’m not sharing them on the blog. Now that I’m sitting down and writing another post, I can’t imagine not continuing to do so regularly, but if another month passes, having an offline journal keeps all those same thoughts saved for posterity. I’m not quite sure why I feel the need to save all this info for the ages: For my kids? For some random archeologist in the future? I’m not sure, but if anyone wants to study the life of a 21st century Catholic homeschooler and special needs mom, I will have plenty of source material for him or her.
- Bodacious Costumes, a Radical Party, and a Totally Tubular, Solicitation
- Favorite Read – Italian American Folklore
Edie and I returned to Lancaster (my third week in a row) to attend a Christmas show with my dad while my mom visited my sister in LA.
I got to visit with other family members in attendance and the next morning, we went to breakfast with a friend of mine I’ve known since I was Teddy’s age. We sat for hours catching up before Edie and I finally headed back to Jersey. That night, Tony and I went to his company’s holiday party in downtown Philadelphia thanks to one of Fulton’s nurses taking an evening shift. The last holiday party I attended with Tony was one in which all our kids were invited…I think in 2011? This party was formal and on the 53 floor of a skyscraper. I wore a vintage sequined-covered dress, managed to pull my hair back in a Pinterest inspired up-do and hoped I wouldn’t be over the top. But I was not the only one in a sequin covered gown! That’s how fancy it was!! There was an open bar, and tons of delicious food, a photo booth and casino games. I was killing it at roulette and the dealer said I should probably head to Atlantic City. Tony and I both learned to play Texas Hold ‘Em poker. It was a fun night.
I felt pretty busy this month, mostly with self-impossed deadline (unreasonable self-impossed deadlines). Decorating and shopping and preparing for Christmas felt like chores, or one more thing that needed to get done rather than joyful anticipation. But Edie turned 17 and earned the Apprentice rank in Sea Scouts.
Byron came home on Edie’s birthday, and Addie’s boyfriend drove her home on the 19th. He stayed with our family a few days before heading home. While Addie did manage to take him to Ocean City, we were limited in what else we could do thanks to both Fulton and Teddy getting sick with what we soon would learn, was the flu.
Both boys missed the last week of school before break, and as of this post, are still recovering. Teddy has gone to the ER twice due to dehydration, but so far has been able to come home. Their stats (temperature, heart rate, and oxygen levels) are stable, but usually as soon as I think we might be getting over this, someone’s progress backslides a bit. So, we had a nice Christmas day, but we couldn’t all attend Mass as a family. My parents, sister and niece visited with us on the 26th. I’m glad we haven’t had to go to the hospital, but we’re providing hospital level care here round the clock, and that’s exhausting at times.
In other injury news, Edie got roller skates for Christmas and fell on our patio hurting her elbow. She’s in a brace and sling until I can find a orthopedic doctor who takes her insurance and has openings. Thankfully, the ER doctor said it wasn’t dislocated or broken…unless there’s a hidden fracture. Also, our one cat is sick and needs approximately 3,539 medicines to recover from his cat infections. I’m not even sure how I will give him all these medicines without him killing me, but we’ll see!
- Favorite Read – Diary of an American Exorcist
I guess that’s 2022 in a nutshell. I am going to work on a New Year’s resolution post (because we all need a new beast of the year) so hopefully it won’t be too long until you see me in this space again. As more and more people jump on the Substack bandwagon, let me remind you that I have a email newsletter if you want to get my posts and other thoughts sent to you about once a month. You can also just sign up through WordPress to have all my posts delivered to your inbox as soon as I post them. You could also subscribe on a service like Feedly to check all your favorite blogs at once. And since I won’t put any of these posts behind a paywall or membership, if you want to give me money for my writing you’ll have to do it through Ko-Fi. Thank you everyone for continuing to visit my home on the internet! Merry Christmas and a blessed 2023 to you all!