Long-overdue update from OSC

Clearly, I’m not blogging regularly.  I still write blog posts in my mind, though!

1. I’m still homeschooling. For the last 2.5 years, I have led a homeschool support group of about 500 families which I started in the West Valley of the Phoenix area, thinking it would fit a small niche. No. It exploded. In trying to healthily manage the growth, I’m in the process of converting it to a 501(c)3 (non-profit).


L-R:  Wesley, Ethan, Grant

2. My oldest son, Ethan, is now 20. He lives at home and works full-time for Sprouts as an asst manager in the Vitamins department.  The apple indeed does not fall far from the tree. In many ways.  They adore him at Sprouts — he is excellent with people, knows a ton about product, and is ultra-responsible.

3. My 18yo, Grant, is on full academic scholarship to ASU and just moved onto campus after commuting for a semester. He is an Acting for Theatre major, which I could never have envisioned, but is doing extremely well.  Longtime readers will recall that Grant was diagnosed at age four with Nonverbal Learning Disorder.  He was in occupational therapy from ages 4-12.  Much of our efforts were focused on getting the hemispheres of his brain to communicate with each other.  We started with very simple exercises, like rolling one way across a room, then back the other way.  This would stimulate his brain to send signals across the corpus calossum.  Since Acting for Theater — he dreams of musical theatre on Broadway — is a new passion, it has taken me a bit to adjust to this trajectory.  I’m still not sure if he is chasing a squirrel, or if this is the right place for him, long-term.  Being 18 is a great time to chase squirrels, so…  Anyway.  I had the revelation that with many of his acting classes — and a modern dance class that he is taking this semester — he is HEALTHILY SELF-MEDICATING.  We had a good laugh over that one, but it’s true.  Movement still enables him to think better, to communicate better, to connect better with the world around him.

4. My 16yo, Wesley, is a junior and homeschooled after two years in a public/charter school. I think we both have mixed feelings about this school year. And we still don’t know where he will be for his senior year. Wes is my “free spirit engineer”, a rare bird, indeed.  If he homeschools for his senior year, this will enable him to embark on a through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 5-6 month endeavor, with some homeschooling friends.  They would have to depart in April of 2019, though.  Much of his senior year could be spent preparing him for the hike, like taking Wilderness First Responder courses, and going on shorter hikes.  I can’t see him being able to do the entire through-hike if he returns to public school, though.  He is conflicted about what to do for next year.


5. Audrey is nearly 12. She’s is a mix of great strengths and challenging weaknesses. The homeschool group may have benefited her the most, of any of my kids, as she now has real friends for the first time in her life.  We have had many a talk on the reciprocity of relationship;  she can’t treat others like pawns. She is growing through challenges in healthy relationship.  One strength:  She is driven to create.  It’s my goal for her to have a place in the 2018 Children’s Business Fair.  Recently, on a whim, she sewed a backpack for her American Girl doll, which she completed in one afternoon and the following morning. She didn’t have a pattern – just formed it in her head, then created it with zipper, straps, and pockets.  In many ways, she is an amazing girl.

6. Fiala is nine and a great encouragement to me. I’m thankful that Fi is… coming into her own. She isn’t really in anyone’s shadow any longer. She is my highly emotional child and that is good in many ways and challenging in others. She is full of surprises – recently picking up coding on Khan Academy and rocking it.  Longtime readers may remember heartbreaking health issues with Fiala, stemming from candida sepsis.  I’m so thrilled to say that she is 99% recovered and a very healthy girl.

7. Jeanie is 4.5 and the cutest child I think I have ever seen in my life. She is smart as a whip, very opinionated, full of life, a fledgling reader, and obsessed with cats, which we will never own.

8. Life is still good with church and ministry, too. We still attend the same place… We are very much looking forward to an impending leadership retreat and a church-wide (and beyond) day called International Sunday — past experiences are surely searchable on the blog.


Lettuce, beets, I’itois onion and more all grow happily in the desert winter.

9. I’m still gardening. It is a joy of the desert – gardening 52 weeks a year.



I love the West.  I enjoyed our road trip immensely and would have been satisfied NOT coming home.  But, I did have the revelation that, though I was born in Illinois and have, my whole life, longed for greener horizons, I have transferred my love to the wide-open spaces of the American West.

10. Our family took a 40-day, 14-state road trip this summer, which I was going to document via the blog. I didn’t. The trip was 98% good. The most interesting parts lie in the 2%, surely, like when our truck got stuck in the clay mud up past our hubcaps, sliding down toward a precipice, on the back side of Capitol Reef National Park in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, UT, without my husband and oldest two sons. I was so good at not communicating my panic to my four youngest children who were present that the girls were unaware of the danger and super-chatty, to my immense annoyance. I seriously thought we were going to have to bunker down in the truck for 2-3 days – we had food and water – until the road dried enough for us to drive out. And then, Welsey and I were able to wade through the mud to find branches to put under the wheels. We got in the truck and prayed together. I put the truck in 4WD low and inched/slid our way out. That was scary and I feel that incident earned me my Competent Mother badge for life.

<3~Karen Joy

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 16, 2018, in Introspective Musings. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Lovely to have an update after all this time!

    I remember finding your blog while I was researching and researching for help for my now 17-going-on-18-year-old daughter for the full-blown eczema she had all over. So I definitely remember Fiala and communicating with you once or twice about what to feed our girls and what to kill the candida monster! Does Fiala eat “normally” now or must she watch her diet still?

    My daughter, Sarah, ought to watch her diet but she doesn’t and she had another worse flare up just 2 years ago.

    Your road trip “adventure” was scary!


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