February 24 2022

Home and Health Update

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year and a half since my last update on both my health and the house.


I’ll start in September 2020.  We sold our house, but unfortunately, the lot on which we wanted to build was no longer available.  We still moved in with my parents, but we knew that the three months we were expecting to live with them was going to be a little longer.  We immediately started working with an architect who told us our plans would be ready in December, so we figured we would start building in January 2021 and would definitely be in our house by January 2022.  Of course, right?


In October 2020, we found a lot after searching everywhere for property.  Yay!


The first pulmonologist sent me to a LAM (lymphangioleiomyomatosis) specialist.  Apparently, there aren’t a whole lot of them.  She conducted a pulmonary function test on November 12, 2020, and I met with her to discuss the results on November 17th.  The results came back stating that I have amazing lung function despite my lungs being covered in cysts.  She assumed that I must exercise regularly to have such great function.  I disappointed her by telling her the truth.  No, I don’t exercise regularly.  I wish I did.  Unlike the first pulmonologist, she wanted to put me on two different medications.  I proceeded to ask all sorts of questions regarding these medications and found out they were both a form of chemo.  I told her I would go home, talk things over with my husband, pray about it, and I would get back to her soon.

After doing more research on these meds and praying about it, I replied to her letting her know I didn’t feel comfortable at all getting on these medications, and I wanted to see what my scans in 2021 look like to see if any major changes were found and based on those findings, we could discuss medication.  With much hesitation, she agreed.  However, I didn’t want to be on something that would completely compromise my immune system during a pandemic.  Yes, if this would have been cancer, I would have taken a chance, maybe, not sure about that 100%.


Fast Forward to January 2021.  My mom came down with Covid and so did my dad a few days later.  I took care of her for the two long weeks she was sick, and I eventually also came down with it.  Can you imagine if I would have started that treatment back in November?  By now, after two months, my immune system would have been non-existent.  Would my body have been able to survive Covid?  Maybe.  Maybe not!  I am just glad I chose not to do it and instead did everything I could to strengthen my God-given immune system.


January and February were our Covid months since we all ended up getting it: my parents and all four of us. In February, we experienced the freeze in the middle of sickness, but praise God we didn’t have any pipes burst.  Oh, and it was also when Kobe and Kylee began competition season for Tumbling and Trampoline.


For the rest of that winter and spring, we continued to work with our architect which, by the way, was not done with our plans.  Yes, he promised they would be done by December.  We also traveled a lot for all the different competitions.  It was fun to watch the kids compete and continue to improve their skills, but it was also frustrating to not have our final plans finished, especially because the price of building materials just kept rising.  Spring came and went.   Summer arrived, and we still didn’t have the final plans!  However, we did have enough of the plans to get a quote from the Owner Builder Network.  Unfortunately, a lot has changed since we built with them back in 2004, and we felt it was not a good fit for us.  We contacted another builder with whom we felt could work well together and started the bidding process.


Summer came and went, and still, no plans!!!  Can you sense my frustration?!  Oh, and the prices of building materials were still rising.


I did get some great news in August 2021.  I had my yearly scans, and because all looked great, my doctor at MD Anderson didn’t want to see me in a year.  He said we could wait two years!  Oh, and by the way, according to the radiologist, there was no change in my lungs after Covid.  God is good!!!


In the fall of 2021, we continued to work with the builder and the architect to see if we were even going to be able to build this house that at one time was possible, but now, with the prices continuing to rise, maybe not.  One of the issues with the lot is that it slopes.  This makes it both unique and beautiful, but also expensive to build on.  We had no idea this was going to be the case.  We contacted our real estate agents to help us find a different lot.  One that was flatter and maybe even smaller.  After much searching without results, we started to also look for houses.  After not having a home for over a year, we were ready to have our own space.  While we were and still are extremely grateful to my parents for letting us stay here for over a year, we need our own space, the kids need their own space.  My parents need their own space back.


We searched and we searched, but either we would find something and the next day it was sold, or we just didn’t like a house enough to make an offer.  Patiently, we continued to wait and search, and wait, and search.


In December 2021, I went to my PCP for my yearly intensive blood work.  I have always been anemic, but she was extremely concerned this time.  So, she had me do additional tests which I finally got around to doing this month.  Yes, as in February!  Come to find out, I am so severely anemic that I will need to undergo iron infusions accompanied by B12 shots.  She said she has no idea how I still have the energy to continue functioning.  So, I was referred to a hematologist.  I prayed that I would really connect with her.  So far, I have absolutely loved all the specialists that my PCP has referred me to.   I went to go see her last week, and I am happy to report that I really, really liked her.   To be able to prescribe exactly how much and how often I should have these iron infusions, she conducted additional testing. Thank the good Lord I live in an area where there are such amazing doctors.  With these additional testings, it was also concluded I was not low on B12 and folate, so I will not need to get those shots. I will keep you posted on what happens there.   Within one hour of arriving home, the doctor herself called me and asked me how I was feeling. She was very concerned because my numbers from the blood work of that day were worse than the ones I brought in from my PCP.  She told me she was going to get her office on top of it so this could be expedited through my insurance.


Let’s back up some.  In January, we found a house we really liked.  We will call this the “Ranch House” because they had cows.  While it didn’t have some of the features we wanted in the house we designed, it had everything we needed.  So, we decided to ask more questions to get more details and hopefully make an offer by the end of that week.  Well, when our agent called the other agent, he was told the owners changed their mind and decided not to sell.  “Ok!” We thought, “God is in control and he knows why things happen.  It is well with our soul”  We continued to look and look and look to no avail!  Then, about a week and a half later, our agent tells us the owners of the “Ranch House” have decided to put it back on the market.  We requested to look at it again, ran into the owners, and had a great conversation, but in the end, they didn’t accept our offer.  That’s ok, it wasn’t meant to be.


Good news!!!   I literally, just now, heard back from my hematologist that my insurance has approved the infusions treatment, and I should be hearing back from the infusion center within hours to schedule my first appointment!   While I am not looking forward to being hooked up to an IV for over an hour each week, I am so looking forward to feeling normal that I’m crying tears of joy and hope.


We covet your prayers as our search for a home continues.  As I always say, “It could be worse!”


Maybe in my next update, I will be telling you about our new house and how amazing I feel.


In His amazing grace,

Fabi Richards

Category: Family Life, Update on My Health | Comments Off on Home and Health Update
September 6 2020

Where Do I Begin?

Where Do I Begin?

Well, I need to begin by giving thanks to the Lord Almighty. I am thankful for his grace, mercy, provision, and protection!

As many of you know, the tumor on my right kidney came back, and I was scheduled to have an embolization in March. However, due to Covid, that didn’t happen until June. Well, I am happy to tell you everything went well with the procedure. My experience during my recovery was actually much better this time. By not having anyone allowed to stay with me in the hospital, I actually felt I was able to rest better. Last time, after coming home, my pain shot through the roof. It was unbearable! I was so afraid that was going to happen again, but thank the Lord it didn’t, and my experience was much better.

I am also thankful for all my amazing friends and family who took such good care of me and brought me such yummy meals. God is good for providing me with such an amazing support group.

A couple of months after the embolization, in August, I had another CT scan. Fortunately, the CT scan showed that the tumor is shrinking again; therefore, I don’t need to be back to MD Anderson for another year. The CT scan performed in August included my chest per my pulmonologist’s request. When the original CT scan was taken two years ago, the one in which the kidney tumor was discovered, the radiologist also found nodules in the parts of my lungs that were visible on the CT scan, and it was highly recommended I follow up with a pulmonologist about this. My PCP and my doctor at MD Anderson suspected LAM (lymphangioleiomyomatosis) due to all my other symptoms and test results. When I finally got an appointment with the pulmonologist, he looked at the scans and stated that despite the fact that I do have LAM, my lungs look great. There are three other tests he wants me to have done, but unless something unexpected shows on any of these tests, I don’t have to see him for another six months. For now, the only restriction I have is no scuba diving! He asked me if I had ever gone scuba diving, and I told him I was working on my certification in college but didn’t get to finish the course. He said I probably would have ended up with a collapsed lung. It hit me as I was sharing this with a friend how God’s protection was over me even then. God is so good!

So that’s what’s going on with my health. Now, for an update on our house.

If all goes well, we are scheduled to close on September 30. We are currently looking for a lot in our neighborhood that we can purchase and start construction. In the meantime, we will be moving in with my parents. We will definitely keep you all posted on all of this.

Category: Family Life, Update on My Health | Comments Off on Where Do I Begin?
July 9 2020

So You Think You Want To Homeschool?

I recently had the pleasure to host two homeschool informational meetings on zoom due to the overwhelming number of requests many people have had thanks to Covid19.

Here is a recap.  I hope it not only helps you in making a decision but that it encourages you as well.

In my 20 years of homeschooling, I have experienced the good, the bad, the ugly, but also the blessings of homeschooling.

Warning!!!  This is long, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and stay awhile.


If you live in Texas, you may find the state’s requirements and regulations at www.THSC.org

This is also where you will find the template letter you will need to withdraw your child from public school.  https://thsc.org/sending-a-withdrawal-email/

If your child has never been in public school, there is no need to withdraw!

Outside of Texas, please visit www.HSLDA.org


If you are in the northern Houston area, Humble, Kingwood, Porter, New Caney, etc. I HIGHLY suggest you join H.E.A.R.T.  https://www.homeschool-life.com/506/


This group was my lifeline!  By God’s grace and the support of everyone in H.E.A.R.T., my homeschool journey of over 20 years has been possible!  It is only $30 per year for your entire family to join.  This is where you will find play dates at parks, field trips, academic classes, and other enrichment classes.  They also have a forum where questions are posted and where curriculum can be sold and purchased.  Being a member of H.E.A.R.T. will also give you a discount on membership with Texas Home School Coalition and Home School Legal Defense.  Lots of benefits!


Again, if you live in Texas, you will also want to join Texas Home School Coalition at www.THSC.org.  There are tons of benefits to this membership as well.  The biggest benefit is legal representation.



Pre-school & Kindergarten

  • How much time can I expect to spend with my child?

Formally, no more than 2 hours throughout the day.  Break it up into 20-minute segments.


  • What do I teach my child?

Focus on the three Rs:  Reading wRiting, and aRithmetic!

Read to your child aloud a lot!!!  Aloud!!!  Yes, even if your child can read!!!  Check out Read Aloud Revival at https://readaloudrevival.com/

Writing– By writing, I don’t mean your child needs to be writing essays!  Here is where you teach them the names and sounds of the letters.  Have your child do copy work.  Depending on their age, you may need to start with a simple phrase like “God is love.”  From that, explain certain words are capitalized, why we have spaces between words, and punctuation.  There is so much here, I could do an entire class on it!

Arithmetic is just learning numbers, shapes, and basic adding with fun objects or coins.


  • What curriculum do you recommend?

This all depends on your teaching style and your child’s learning style.  Most boys don’t do well with workbooks, and neither does a girl who is active and wiggly.  For this age group, my favorites are Five In A Row  https://fiveinarow.com/  and

Sonlight http://www.sonlight.com/rewards/FR20179261  If you decide to purchase Sonlight, please use my reference ID # FR20179261


  • One of the best parts of our homeschool week was Super Friday!  My kids attended Super Friday from the time they were old enough until they aged out and then went on to work there.  Super Friday offers enrichment classes such as fencing, cake decorating, dance, art, and so much more.  Check out www.HomeRunMinistries.com for more information.



  • How much time can I expect to spend with my child?

As your child gets older and is beginning to be introduced to more difficult concepts, the time will increase.  There will be seasons in which your child will grasp concepts without a problem and your school day will be short.  However, there will be times when your child will be challenged and a concept may take a little longer to understand and master.  This is the beauty of homeschooling!!!


  • What do I teach my child?

In the state of Texas, the only subjects required are per THSC’s website:

“The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship.

Good citizenship is similar to civics. Public schools teach one semester of civics, usually in the senior year of high school. Teaching U.S. and Texas history, government (theoretical and practical), the Pledge of Allegiance, and similar activities will also help meet this requirement. THSC provides several ways to help you meet this requirement (see resource box below).”

For more information, please visit their website.


  • What curriculum do you recommend?

This is when you start to realize what type of learner your child is.  With that said, I can share my favorite curriculum, but it all depended on each child.


My oldest, a girl, started reading at 3, and by the time she was 5, she was reading chapter books.  Her reading speed, vocabulary, and reading comprehension were her strengths, but she always struggled in math.

For her, Sonlight was heaven!!!  I’m not exaggerating. 

The moment the box filled with books came in, she devoured them.  Sonlight covered our Bible, History, Reading, and Literature.

For science, we loved Apologia.

Spelling Power for spelling was the best for all my kids.  This curriculum will take you all the way through 12th grade!

Because she was my first child, I used Abeka for grammar, but I NEVER had her do all the questions.  Abeka is designed for classroom use; therefore, it has a lot of busy work.  When using this curriculum, I only had my kids do anywhere between 5 to 10 of the questions to see if they grasped the material.  If they did, great!  Move on!  If they didn’t, we would stop, go over more instruction, and do more problems.  I was later introduced to Easy Grammar and Fix It Grammar (IEW).  I prefer these over Abeka.


Middle and High School

  • How much time can I expect to spend with my child?

In middle school, your job is to work yourself out of your teaching job!  Yes!  Allow more independent learning and allow for your child to take ownership and responsibility for what he/she is learning.  The goal is to teach your child to teach themselves!  This is what will make them successful after high school whether he goes to college or trade school.

  • What do I teach my child?

Well, that depends.  What does your child want to do after high school?  Does he want to go to trade school, Jr. college, 4-year university, grad school, etc.?

Here are the requirements from the state:  https://tea.texas.gov/academics/graduation-information/state-graduation-requirements

I am not even going to try to recreate the wheel.  The best place to go to plan your child’s high school years is HSLDA.org


  • What curriculum do you recommend?

My favorite is still Sonlight! (see comment above)

For writing, in my opinion, there is nothing better than IEW.


This is also when I started to outsource several classes.  If you are in the Kingwood/Humble/Porter area, I recommend you look into Home Run Ministries.  www.HomeRunMinistries.com

For specific questions on this program, please contact:




At HRM, my kids were able to take several of their core classes such as math, science, history, etc.

Once I felt my kids were ready for college-level classes, I enrolled them into Lone Star College where they were able to take dual-credit classes.  This was a huge money saver!  When my oldest two graduated from high school, one had over 30 credit hours, and the other one had over 40 credit hours.  Those are classes they didn’t have to take at Baylor (daughter) or LeTourneau (son) which is where they chose to attend.

For more details, check out this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvRBBZUVtK0&list=PL72Iz-_c0cCHRmAKxlrEke6auXmNWc5rs&index=5&t=483s




  • Under state law, you are not required to take any standardized tests.  You can breathe.  You can focus on teaching and not toward passing a test!

I personally had my children take the Stanford Achievement Test every other year at the most until they were in middle school.  Test scores from this test are only sent to you, not the state.  The purpose of this test is to see if your child might need more focus on a particular area, BUT do not allow this test to define you or your child.  Home Run Ministries administers this test once a year in May.  Please contact them directly for more information.



According to www.collegeboard.org, the PSAT is…

“The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in the United States.”

Note that the only year the PSAT counts is your junior year.  Personally, I had my children start taking this test in 8th grade.


Both the SAT and ACT are college entrance exams.  More information on these can be found on collegeboard.org and https://www.act.org/

I had my kids start taking these during their sophomore year.


What about prom and graduation?

Most homeschool support groups put together a prom and a graduation ceremony!


What about sports?

There are many homeschool teams in the area that offer a variety of sports such as track & field, basketball, baseball, etc.

Other Resources

The Homeschool Store off 249  http://thehomeschoolstore.com/

Moms Rest Stop (MRS)- During Super Friday  www.HomeRunMinistries.com

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie  https://www.christianbook.com/teaching-rest-homeschoolers-guide-unshakable-peace/sarah-mackenzie/9781600512872/pd/512872


Well, I know this is a lot of info, and I know that after reading all this, you will only have more questions.  That is perfectly fine.  Leave your questions in the comments and I will try to answer them as quickly as I can.  After all, I do have a full-time job as a homeschool mamma!

Category: Homeschooling | Comments Off on So You Think You Want To Homeschool?
April 21 2020

Chaos in the Calm

A lot going on and not a lot going on!


Chaos in a still world.  How?


Due to COVID-19, many communities are on “shelter-in-place” orders, so the streets and roads are not as crowded.  The stores, at least the essential stores, are only allowing a certain number of people inside at a time, and because most are going to the store by themselves, no one is talking to each other.  Walmart is so scary quiet! Restaurants are closed and only taking curb-side and to-go orders. Non-essential stores such as Hobby Lobby (essential in my thinking), Ulta, James Avery, etc. are closed.  There are no sporting events, no entertainment events, no movies, no plays, no meets, no tournaments, NOTHING! And yet, a lot is going on. A lot is going on inside our homes and ourselves, good and bad to be perfectly transparent.


For some of us who were already homeschooling and whose husband works from home quite a bit, this wasn’t too much of a change.  What has been different is to actually be home, to actually take time to breathe, because normally we are going to classes we have outsourced, to extracurricular activities, Bible study, competitions, etc.  The only place I’m really going to at the moment is the grocery store, and most of the time, I don’t need to go inside because I’m doing curbside pick up.


So, not much is happening, and yet, a lot more activity in our homes.  Because I like to leave things on a good note, I’ll start with the not-so-good.  Here is where I get pretty transparent.


The uncertainty of it all may be making many of us a little more irritable.  Uncertainty of the virus itself and our economic decline. Suddenly, the irritability feeds on itself from one person to another, from sibling to sibling, from parent to child, from child to parent, and from spouse to spouse.  Before you know it, you-know-what hits the fan. We have to hit the reset button, take a deep breath, apologize, recognize what just happened, and start all over again. I know this is not just happening in our home.


However, in the midst of all the craziness, we as a family have spent more time together.  We have played more board games, we eat meals together, we watch movies together, we talk, we engage.  We ENGAGE!!! Did you hear that? We engage, sometimes not so nicely, but most of the time, in a very positive, constructive, and encouraging way.


So even though we, including us introverts, can’t wait to put this all behind us, we need to remember to savor the moment!  This has been and continues to be a chance of a lifetime. We will probably not ever, ever get an opportunity such as this. How many times have we told ourselves, “I wish I could hit a pause button on life!”?  Well, this is it. The pause button has been hit. Savor the moment!!!


The reality is that no matter what, God is still in complete control.  I heard this quote a while back and while it is applicable all the time, it is perfect for what is happening now.


“I don’t know what the future holds, but I DO know WHO holds the future.”


I pray that you take this time to not just physically stay put, but that you allow your soul to be still and regroup.  Ask yourself what is really important. What do you REALLY want to add back to your schedule, and what have you been able to live without?


I leave you with this song and Bible verse.  I pray it speaks to your soul.

It Is Well – Kristene DiMarco | You Make Me Brave

James 1:2-4

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Category: Family Life, Homeschooling, Parenting | Comments Off on Chaos in the Calm
March 25 2020

Back to Basics!

Homeschooling.  Something I never thought I would do!

If 26 years ago on my wedding day, someone would have told me I would be a stay-at-home mom, I would have laughed at them.  If they would have continued on to tell me I would be homeschooling, I would have thought they were crazy. No! More like INSANE!!!

Now, I am here to tell you that after 19 years of staying home with my kids and homeschooling, I am so glad God chose that path for me.  I am not going to lie. I went into it kicking and screaming. I kept telling God I had other plans, and that I did not and still do not have any patience!!!  I am also not going to lead any of you to believe that my children are perfect, that they were National Merit Scholarship recipients, and got a full ride to an ivy league university because that didn’t happen.  We will leave this story for another post. It is encouraging.

The Lord laid it on my heart to share this now during this time when everyone is having to homeschool, not because they wanted to, or felt led to do so, but because it is what everyone is having to do.

I am here to cheer you on and encourage you!  

First, I want to address a few misconceptions.  Due to our circumstances and having to practice social distancing, we are not able to get out and do the typical activities we normally do.  Therefore, I don’t want you to think the picture you are getting currently of homeschooling is accurate because it is not.

What I want to share today is specifically to encourage those who are just beginning their homeschool journey and those who have been forced into this situation.  With that said, let’s go back to basics and what really matters, the three Rs (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic). I promise you that if you focus on just these three, everything else will fall into place.


Read to your kids aloud.  It is just as important to read aloud to your kids as it is for your kids to go find a quiet spot and read to themselves.  There is a lot of research on this. Just Google it, but a great resource and my favorite is Read-Aloud Revival.  When you read aloud to your kids, you can read books above their reading level and introduce them to higher vocabulary.  It also allows you and your children to go into an adventure together!!! If you are not comfortable reading aloud, that is ok.  Download an audiobook and listen to it during lunch, in the evening, or at bedtime. By the way, if you have fidgeters, give them something to do while they listen.  Make sure it is something quiet as to not disturb the others trying to listen. Wikki Stix are amazing, so are Legos and coloring sheets.

Here is the beautiful thing about reading.  If you teach your child to read well and understand what they are reading, they can learn anything.  They can pick up a history book and learn about history. They can pick up a science book and learn about science.  Personally, I love Sonlight because they teach history through literature instead of only using textbooks.  It makes history come to life and allows the child to be engaged. Reading opens up a whole new world of opportunity for learning.  Also, may I encourage you to be an example to your child and be excited about the book you are currently reading or are about to read together?  Also, make sure your kids see you reading books, not just scrolling through your phone! All this social distancing has led me to start a virtual book club group on Facebook.  I hope you will join us. You can find us at The Potter’s Hand Home Academy Book Club.


Don’t make your kid write without giving them clear instructions on specifically what you want.  My favorite writing curriculum is from the Institute of Excellence in Writing, also known as IEW.  Listen to all the free podcasts.  They are truly eye-opening! Hating writing in high school and in college, I never thought this would become such an enjoyable activity.


Figure out what kind of learner you have: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.  Usually, we are predominantly stronger in one area, but if you tell, show, and allow your child to manipulate something, he/she will learn it and better yet, retain the information.  One of my kids just wanted me to show her how to do it and didn’t want to waste time with manipulatives. Another one of my kids HAD to have manipulatives. And the other two whom I’m still teaching, are very different as well.  If you have a kid who just wants to do it and is getting the concept, I highly recommend Teaching Textbooks.  If you have a kid who needs to see it and touch it, I highly recommend Shiller Math and Math-U-See.

I know this is a lot to digest, but you got this.  If I can be of any help, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Please make sure to subscribe (top right) so you get an update every time I post.  I am trying to be more consistent and post once a week.  I don’t want to do more than that and bombard you with too many posts.  One last thing, in the comments, share which if the three Rs is most daunting to you.

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March 19 2020

Just A Quick Update In The Midst Of All This

I cannot believe that the last time I posted about my health was two years ago!  This is so crazy.

Long story short:  I have another tumor, possibly an autoimmune disorder, and LAM.  If you want the longer, more detailed story, keep reading.

Here is the timeline:


January- CT scan intended to look for kidney stones finds an abnormality on my right kidney.  No kidney stones are found. So another CT scan is ordered. This time with contrast.

February- Second CT scan with contrast shows a tumor 6 cm in diameter, so a biopsy is ordered.  At first, the biopsy results show the tumor to be leiomyosarcoma which of course is cancer. Two days later my urologist calls to tell me the results are inconclusive.  It may not be cancer after all. Sending slides to MD Anderson.

March- MD Anderson confirms it is not cancer.  I have an angiomyolipoma, a benign tumor. The doctor gives me different options, one of which is to simply watch the tumor and do another CT scan in 5 months.  I take that option even though there is a risk of sudden hemorrhaging.

August- Another CT scan with contrast is done and the findings are:

  1. Stable solid right renal mass, likely biopsy-proven angiomyolipoma. However, renal cell carcinoma can not be excluded by imaging.
  2. Stable multiple pulmonary cysts may represent lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM).
  3. Given the above findings, further evaluation is recommended to exclude possibility of tuberous sclerosis and consider brain MRI.

September- Genetic testing is done to rule out tuberous sclerosis.  I test negative. Praise God!!! The doctor highly recommends I see a pulmonary specialist to be treated for LAM.  In regards to the tumor, I decide to go ahead and take the option of an embolization. I did not want to have restrictions on traveling with my family.

October- Embolization is done on the tumor and turns out to be a lot worse than I expected!  The pain was worse than any c-section I ever had and the recovery ended up being just as long.


February- Follow up with a sonogram shows the embolization was successful as the tumor is almost undetected!  Praise Jesus!!! No need to be back for an entire year. However, I now have hypertension. Never before had I had high BP, EVER!  On the day of my follow up, my BP was 189/115. I am told to see my PCP to manage that. My PCP orders a CTA scan to make sure my kidneys are functioning correctly.  Everything turns out to be fine. Medication is prescribed.

September- I decide to go on strict clean keto and before I know it, my BP meds are too strong.  The doctor prescribes half the dose.

October- BP continues to lower and the doctor lowers my dose again.  This happens twice in October.

November- BP continues to lower and the doctor has to prescribe a completely different medication that is not as strong.

December- Only taking BP meds as needed!


So here we are.  It is 2020. What’s new?  Several things.

In February, I went for my yearly follow up at MD Anderson.  I had a CT scan, and unfortunately, it confirmed I now have another tumor.  The doctor is 99.99% sure it is another angiomyolipoma. Another embolization is recommended.  I am also told to make sure I follow up with a pulmonary specialist in regards to the possible LAM diagnosis.  I know. A long time has passed and I have not made the time to take care of this. The good news is that my doctor is okay with me waiting to have the embolization in May or June which is great because at that time, my kids had all sorts of competitions scheduled in March, April, and the beginning of May.  My mom is having knee surgery this month. (Please pray for her) Of course, with everything canceling, I no longer have to worry about the competitions, but I do want to wait until my mom is well enough to get around in case she needs me after her knee surgery. In addition to all this, my in-laws have had procedures as well.


A follow up with my internist also led to additional blood work due to new symptoms.  The blood work shows my ANA is super high. It should be 1:40 and it is 1:640. This means I may have some sort of autoimmune issue.  So now I get to see a rheumatologist in addition to the pulmonary specialist. Oh, and because of the severe hair loss I have been experiencing, she also wants me to see a dermatologist about that.


It would be worse.  In all of this, God is still in control and will use this all together for His glory.  I pray you and yours are all doing well, and if there is any time I can ever pray for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know.


I promise I will not take as long writing my next post and it will not be near as long.  For now, I leave you with this: Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

January 7 2020


Our local support group, H.E.A.R.T. (Home Education And Responsible Teaching) holds monthly meetings to encourage, inform, and connect those who are looking into homeschool or already homeschooling.  However, for years, one of my favorite meetings is the one held in January. It is during this month’s meeting that a panel of home school graduates is brought before our membership and they share how their post-homeschool life is going whether they are in college, seeking a trade, or embarked on another path.  They candidly share the good, the bad, and the ugly of how homeschooling affected their current path. This meeting has always served as an encouragement at the perfect time of the year. It was held last night, and once again, I was encouraged.  Thank you to these young men and ladies for your willingness to share.

A topic that really stood out to me last night was the different curricula and teaching methods that were used with the different students who shared last night.  I am very familiar with that since I have four children, and they are all very different in their learning styles, talents, gifts, and bents. While they have similarities and have been able to use some of the same curricula, they are also different enough that I had to use different methods and materials with each of them, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to tailor their education to what was best and most beneficial to them.

Among other benefits, homeschooling has allowed students the flexibility to explore areas of interest and seek apprenticeship and internship opportunities because their school hours are their own.  These opportunities have led students to rethink or solidify the choice of whatever career they were exploring.

I love the fact that among other opportunities these kids had, they took the opportunity to serve.  They served their families by taking care of elderly grandparents, helping out with younger siblings, and they helped by participating in mission trips to other parts of the world.  

Opportunities to play sports in college was also mentioned.  This subject deserves a post of its own which will be coming soon, so please subscribe to get the updates!

I’d like to close with this.  I love, love, love and appreciate the fact that our H.E.A.R.T. president, Christina, stated, “This group is not anti-public school or anti-private school.  This group is pro-homeschool.” I truly believe that H.E.A.R.T. strives to support, encourage, and connect those of us who are choosing homeschooling as our path for educating our children and never put other methods down.  I love this because I personally do not think homeschooling is for everyone and the best choice for everyone. I do believe wholeheartedly that homeschooling is what is best for our family right now and has been for the last 19 years.  I honestly believe that this is clearly what the Lord has asked our family to do. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future, and I’ve learned to never say, “I will never…” Homeschooling has been the most challenging and difficult job I’ve ever faced, BUT GOD!  All good things are hard work and worth all the effort and challenges they bring. The blessings well surpass the challenges. I pray you are encouraged by this, whichever decision you choose for your child’s education.

In His grace,




December 30 2019

Is Your Vision 2020?

Can you believe this?!  It is truly unreal.  When I was a kid, there was a song titled “1999” by Prince.  If you are my age, you are already singing it!  There was the big Y2K threat in which all electronic/computerized items were going to stop working.  Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  The year 2000 rolled in and all was well.  Now it’s 2020!

What do you think about when you hear or read 2020?  I think of perfect vision.  So, instead of this being a blog in which I share, I’d like for you to share instead.  What is your vision for 2020?  Let’s break it down so that it’s a little easier.

What is your vision for 2020 in your…




…personal development?

…other relationships?

…career or business?

Do you have an accountability partner to help you stay on track of these goals?  Let’s not make New Year’s Resolutions which quickly fade away.  No matter how small or huge your vision is, please share.  I know we can all learn from each other.  2020 is coming whether we are ready or not, so let’s do this!


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November 19 2019

Requirements, Transcripts, and Dual Credit, Oh My!!! Part 3

As promised, here is the third and final post in this series.  I am sorry it took me a long time to get this one to you!

First, though, I need to let you know that if you subscribed to get updates on this blog, I’ll need you to subscribe again.  So please go to the right sidebar and enter your info. Thank you!

Disclaimer: Dual credit is NOT the same as the CLEP and AP exams.  That is completely different and honestly, I don’t know much about it because the schools to which my kids applied kind of frowned at them.  Just my personal experience.

What is Dual Credit?

Dual credit (DC) is when you take a college-level class and it counts for both a high school and a college credit.  This not only saves you time, but it can save you thousands of dollars, especially if you live in an area like mine in which tuition is free for dual credit classes.  Yes, you are still responsible to pay fees and purchase your books, but tuition can be free or discounted depending on the college from where you are taking these classes.

Dual Credit Saves Time

Every DC class you take eventually shaves off time you have to spend at a 4-year university.  If while still in high school, you take 12, 16, or 18 hours, that is an entire semester you don’t have to spend at a 4-year university.  If you take 30+ hours, that is an entire year! Statistics show that students who enter a 4-year university with DC classes already on their transcript are more likely to complete their degree.  More information on the benefits of DC can be found in the Community College Research Center.  For our family, this has definitely been the case.  My oldest child decided to change her major between her sophomore and junior year.  This meant she had to take some extra classes. Had she not already transferred over 30 hours, she would have more than likely had to spend an extra semester or year at Baylor which would have also meant more $!  Transferring over 40 hours of DC, my second child will be able to graduate in 4 years with both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees allowing him to go into the workforce sooner. Not only can DC save you time, but as you can see, it also saves you money!

Dual Credit Saves $$$$$

Regardless of whether you choose to attend a state or a private university, if DC can save you time, it can also save you money.  Not only tuition but room and board along with travel expenses. We could probably end this discussion right here, right?

When and What?!

“When should I enroll my child in DC?” is a very common question.  You know your child better than anyone, which is probably why you are homeschooling to begin with!  I took into account both their academic ability and their social and spiritual maturity. Most community and junior colleges have an entrance exam that your student can take to help you determine if he or she is ready for college-level material.  At our local community college, there is no limit in the number of classes a DC student can take. However, I strongly recommend not starting with more than 2 classes, so between 6 to 8 credit hours max. I start my kids in classes within their strengths.  This will give them time to acclimate and get used to what is required of them.

Wait!  I thought…

Because rules seem to change every year in regards to what classes to take and how many hours one can take their first semester, I highly encourage you to contact the DC advisor at your local community or junior college from where you plan on taking these classes and get any updates necessary.  The sooner you do this, the better. That way you don’t miss registration deadlines and class availability.

Will These Classes Transfer?

What good is it to take a class that will not save you time and money because it didn’t transfer to the university from which you plan on receiving your degree?  Most larger colleges and universities have an “Equivalency Tool.” This will save you time in figuring out what DC classes to take and make sure they will indeed transfer.  There are two ways to search for classes: by entering the class from your community college and seeing if there is an equivalent in the school you plan to transfer, or by entering a class you will need to take at the school you plan to transfer and seeing if there is a class that will take its place at your local community or junior college.  Because I am very familiar with Baylor University’s Equivalency Tool, I will use it in my example.

When my daughter first decided to go to Baylor, her major was going to be Entrepreneurship.  So I searched on Baylor’s website to see what the 4-year plan looked like, and this is what I found.



The first class listed on the above document is ENG 1302.  I entered the information needed into the equivalency tool by using the “Search by Baylor Course” to see if an equivalent class is offered at Lone Star College and found an equivalent course which was ENGL 1301.  Because this is an equivalent class, it will transfer, so I encouraged my kid to take it. 

Going down the list, I discovered which classes would transfer and which would not to quickly help my child come up with a game plan.  You can also do a reverse search by using “Search by Outside Institution” in which you enter the class offered at the community or junior college and see if the school you want to attend has an equivalent.

Most major universities have this tool.  Here is the one for TAMU.

Yes, I know.  Not nearly as pretty as Baylor’s.  Is it?  😉

I hope this all makes sense and hopefully will help you decide what to do in regards to DC.  Please do not hesitate to ask questions in the comments below. If you found this helpful and would like to get updates when a new post comes out, please subscribe by entering your information for the blog subscription.

In His grace,




November 4 2019

Requirements, Transcripts, and Dual Credit, Oh My!!! Part 2

As I promised last week, this week I will discuss transcripts.  This is actually the easiest part of the entire process because all it requires is for you to document everything your student has done in high school.  In addition to a transcript, some schools may also require a student resume. Don’t worry, these are easy too. It’s just another document that allows your students to highlight their achievements and awards in academics, athletics, and the arts, as well as list their volunteer hours.

There are two main formats in which a transcript can be created: by academic year or by required subjects.  Either is fine! It all depends on what is easier for you to update or what a particular school requires. Personally, I like the academic year transcripts.  I thrive on things being in order chronologically. Most people I know who prefer the transcripts by subject are parents who have academically advanced children who have finished high school-level classes before their “high school” years.

Below are examples of both types of transcripts.


For more free templates, please visit Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA).

To determine what subject to include or offer your student, please see my previous blog post.

Credits and GPA

If a course is one that would normally take an entire school year to cover such as math, science, etc., you want to award 1 credit.  If a subject is only taken over one semester, you should only award ½ a credit. The exception here is with dual credit because even though the class is only taken over the course of one semester, it is a college-level class; therefore, an entire credit should be awarded, and you may even want to count it as an honors class. We’ll talk more about dual credit next week!

A student’s GPA is calculated by multiplying the credit of each class by the points of the grade received.  You now add your answers and divide them by the total number of credits.  You now have your GPA.  The most common grading scale is A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0.

Let’s calculate the GPA by using five common classes.  I color coordinated the instructions above with the example below to hopefully make it easier to follow and understand.  Say Johnny made an A in math, a B in physics, a C in English, a B in history, and an A in P.E.

Math A = 4 points x 1 credit = 4

Physics B = 3 points x 1 credit = 3

English C = 2 points x 1 credit = 2

History B = 3 points x 1 credit = 3

P.E. A = 4 points x 0.5 credit = 2

14 (Added totals) ÷ 4.5 (Number of credits) = 3.11 GPA

I hope this made sense!

Each year you will do the same thing and will include your current GPA and your cumulative GPA as well on your transcript.

Sending Your Official Transcript to Colleges and Universities

I have personally not encountered any college or university who didn’t accept my transcript directly from me.  I’m pretty sure all Texas schools are fine with that. However, I do know a couple of parents whose children applied to out-of-town schools and the school needed to get their transcript from another source.  If that is the case for you, shoot me an email (ThePottersHandHomeAcademy@gmail.com) and I’ll get you in contact with someone who can help you.  When I send a transcript, I print it on high-quality parchment paper, and since the ink is black, I sign it in blue ink.  It just makes it stand out and look official.

I know this is a lot of info at once, but let me encourage you that it is not hard at all.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I am working on hosting a workshop to go over requirements, transcripts, and dual credit.  It will most likely be on a Thursday evening, but I’ll keep you posted. Make sure to subscribe to this blog below by entering your email, so that you get the date as soon as I announce it!  Also, please leave a comment letting me know if this was useful and what other topics you would like me to cover.

Hope you have a blessed week!

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