Health, Happiness & Homeschooling

It's been a while since I've written about my health and I thought I'd post an update. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in September. Our first attempts at official treatment have helped quite a bit, especially with morning stiffness and overall ability to function. I am still in pain everyday, and still have days that my energy is compromised. I sometimes limp, due to hip problems, knee problems, or difficulty with foot pain. Sometimes I still run low-grade fevers and feel flushed and ill, but not as often as before. I still don't feel well, but am very thankful to be feeling better!

I try my best to maintain a positive attitude, choose joy, and find myself seizing opportunities more often, as there is always the possibility that my mobility may be greatly effected in the future. There's fear in that uncertainty, but I am learning to take joy in the gift of today, and not worry about tomorrow.

On vacation, laughing at the bottom of my first sledding run
Homeschooling continues and I love seeing the girls learn new things, grasp new concepts, and see Hannah's reading improve. I love seeing them dash to the kitchen table to pull out workbooks, journals, markers, crayons, scissors, tape & glue. One of the things that most excited me about homeschooling was the flexibility, more time with my girls, and the ability to emphasize a love of learning, literature and creativity, in addition to the basics of education. 

We have a lot of fun reading aloud together. (We are currently reading the Betsy, Tacy & Tib series, the All-of-a-Kind Family series, the Grandma's Attic series, and the Samantha {American Girl} books, all of which feature little girls living in early-to-mid 1900s.) 

We recently took a family vacation to the snow. We had a WONDERFUL time making snowmen, sledding, swimming and simply being together. Christmas movies, a good book, a constantly crackling fire, and hot cocoa made it even better.

My little family
Sledding with Hannah - Willing us both to remember this moment
Sweet Sisters & their snowman with the icicle nose!
Hannah's two front teeth are coming in just in time for Christmas, and we are just around the corner from her 7th birthday.
Natalie just turned 4 and we celebrated her birthday on vacation. She loves coloring and working in her preschool workbooks and LOVES bunnies.

And now, home from vacation, we are accelerating into full-steam-ahead Christmas mode. Our little family adores this time of year and all of the traditions and memory making, like pumpkin pancakes & coffee before tree-hunting, making cookies, the music & the must-see-yearly movies, taking the girls to choose inexpensive presents for each other, writing by the light of the Christmas tree, big mugs of hot cocoa with dreamy clouds of whipped cream & candy canes. The lights, the chill in the air, the wonderment.

I am learning that chronic illness can be, if I choose to let it, a great gift. It makes every day that I am able to engage in life that much more special. It adds another layer to the perspective loss has taught me: Don't take this day for granted.


  1. love this post. <3

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and for showing us what it means to chose joy in the little things. This part really spoke to me "I am learning that chronic illness can be, if I choose to let it, a great gift. It makes every day that I am able to engage in life that much more special."

  3. Jen, thanks for being so honest! You are a very special person and I admire you! Blessings to you and your family!

  4. Great post and very precious pictures!

  5. I hope the girls enjoy those books! All-of-A-Kind-Girl, Grandma's Attic, and all the AG books were top favorites.

  6. I'm sorry you still have pain and difficulties, but I'm glad treatment is helping. I'm glad homeschooling is going well and that you enjoyed vacation in the snow. Love the pictures. You're my hero!

  7. beautiful pictures & message ~ great inspirational post!

  8. <3 How sweet!!! <3 Very inspirational Jenn!

  9. I will be praying for you as you deal with this diagnosis. I am jealous of your snow :) I am so hoping we get some this week (we don't live where it often snows but there is a chance!) so the kids can play in it. Thanks for sharing!

    New follower from (in)courage! Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    PS - I really like the song playing :) I've never heard it and I normally turn my volume off but glad I didn't today!

  10. what a terrific picture of you laughing. so pretty.

    i have a picture of myself dancing at a friends wedding. i look at it and God reminds me "that is who you are." we need those tangibles.
    you should keep this picture out to remind you of who you are.

    my oldest daughter has been reading the betsy tacy series. LOVES them! hoping we'll win the lottery (we don't play) and can go to MN to their home.


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