Friday, June 20, 2014

Hello, Stranger.

Logging in at Blogger now gives me a nostalgic feeling, like the one I have when I smell cut freshly cut grass or when I walk into a theme park.  I think back to the day I created this blog when our twins were only toddlers and my oldest son, now 21, was just entering his teen years.  In some ways it seems like just yesterday and in others it feels like lifetimes ago.

I'm not sure I like the evolution blogs have taken over the past decade, or maybe I mean the perception I and many others seem to have about blogs.  Terms like "Mommy Blogs" make me think that people assume many mothers have nothing better to do than sit at home ignoring their children while posting beautiful pictures of them and the gorgeous gourmet dinner they were fed just the night before.  I've had a love/hate relationship with this very blog for almost as long as I've had it, but I can't imagine ever deleting it. In my own amateur way, I have chronicled our lives here and recorded details that I'd never remember without the help of this blog.  Last spring, I went back to work full time for the first time since 1997 to a job that I have mixed emotions about (story for another day) and have not have time to check in much since.  The only reason we have some down time today is because Simon, 9, is asleep on the couch with a mysterious fever.  As Jude plays Wii 9 (he's gotten to be an expert on Wii Sports, his favorite), and Chloe packs for camp, I thought I'd take a moment or two to say hello to the ol' blog.

Not a whole lot has changed; Steve is still doctoring. Location changes every few years, but still taking care of sick people.   This time next year our two oldest will have both graduated; Jacob from college with a BS in Biology and Chloe from high school.  Two bonafide adults. How did that happen so fast?  Simon and Jude, our babies, will be 10 and we'll be down to just the four of us for most of the time around here. If Seth had lived, he'd be entering his junior year of high school in the fall and Steve and I would staring down the barrel of empty-nesting.  I sometimes think about that and wonder what life would be like and how different he and I would be if we had not had had Family Version 2.0.  We often say their presence  is either keeping us young or driving us to an early grave. The first, I think!  We keep doing crazy, mindless and alltogether ill-advised things like getting new pets, too.  The latest is a puppy we rescued from a shelter a few hours from here. We saw his picture online and decided he looked like he needed to come live with us. He's a full-blooded mutt.  We actually haven't the first idea what he is. We assume he is a dog, but like Lilo and Stitch, we can't really be sure.  We named him Rudy and each day we clean his accidents off the floor because we get preoccupied and forget to watch him every second to prevent such occurrences.

I'm trying to get caught up with my reading this summer and I've already read a few books I've liked, but my current book is a new favorite. It's called Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God by Frank Shaeffer.  I relate to it to the point that I feel like he crawled inside my head.  I find myself reading and re-reading passages and highlighting and wishing I could have a conversation with him about it.  Frank Shaeffer is the son of missionary parents. He grew up deeply entrenched in the fundamentalist evangelical church and has now abandoned almost all of it except he still loves church...and prayer. It's so much a part of who he is that he can't abandon it. When people say, "Frank, God's only in your head!" he says, "Yeah, what isn't?" It brings him comfort. It connects him to his dead parents. It reminds him of his past and his childhood. He writes, "If we wait for correct ideas to save us--theological or otherwise--we'll never be saved, even from ourselves. Why? Because we can never have a fully correct idea. Why? Because however we label ourselves, we are still only half-evolved primates in two or more minds and multiple moods."
He also writes a lot about passing down our stories and about enjoying each moment, which is something I've been working on trying to do for years. I realize how quickly it's all passing me by and that all I have for sure is this moment, right now.  I let a lot of them slip by because I'm distracted or miss the significance until I'm reflecting on it later.  I am a flawed individual, let me just tell ya.  I think I'm lazy and short sighted and possibly very underachieving.  I want to be better. Does that count?




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring is Here

Spring is here, the grass is growing, and it's just in time.  I desperately needed a couple of hours on the mower today to sort out my thoughts and it's almost the only time I have to myself anymore to do it.

The new job is great. I really love being back in the middle school with those kids. Call me crazy (foregone conclusion at this point), but I think that age group is the best to work with.  They're nuts too, so I fit right in.  I feel I have quickly established rapport with the kids and the teachers and am off and running. Man, has teaching changed though since I left off in 1997, though.  TECHNOLOGY! All the classes have smartboards and all the kids have smartphones and iPads and it's just everywhere. It's not nearly enough to know your content area these days or methods of imparting that to the kids; you have to be an IT expert, too. 

I am adjusting slowly to my new schedule, but 5:15AM is very early in the morning, my friends.  I miss my gym rat mom friends and I'm having a hard time finding time to do stuff like laundry and go the grocery store...just like every other working parent out there. 

Since it's spring, many things are winding down at school and end of year banquets and programs are happening. I am starting to think I get my feelings hurt easily because I come away from a lot of those things feeling bad. Facebook is also making me feel very bad lately for a variety of reasons.  I'd probably be far better off to delete my account. The only reason I don't is because of the groups I belong to and all the good info. I'd miss out on. Who has time for information these days though? Maybe I'll try a trial without it. My daughter was getting her feelings hurt a lot and decided to take a break from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and she says it's the best thing she's done for herself in a while.  Sometimes she is so much smarter than me. Also my husband is smarter than me because he doesn't let his feelings get hurt by being snubbed by people. He doesn't even notice it. 

Speaking of having no time, what am I doing blogging?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Making Assumptions

I rarely have conflict or drama in my life, but when I do it seems to stem from poor communication. I fancy myself a good communicator, but I am realizing that I may have a tiny tendency to make negative assumptions about others.  I am figuring this out late in life, but even at 45 today on my birthday, I am still learning so many things that will make the second half of my life more enjoyable for me and those who deal with me.

We judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions since we can't possibly know their intentions.  We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt because we know our intentions are good, but why do we not extend that same benefit to everyone else? Whatever the reason, we end up getting our feelings hurt or hurting others because we knee-jerk react to something we may have cooked up in our own imaginations based on negative assumptions that have no basis in reality.  One solution may be to ask more questions rather than jumping to our own conclusions, but that only works if the other party is willing to talk. That's the most difficult time not to make negative assumptions, but it's important to try and not take it personally and move forward positively.

Anyway, you know what they say about assuming.  They say it makes an ass out of "u" and "mi"...that old chestnut.  So true.  I've got to go now as I just got a genius idea for a cross stitching project.

Back to Work

I start a new full-time job as a teacher assistant at our middle school bright and early tomorrow morning. I have been wanting to get back to work for a while now, and when I saw this job come up on the corporation website which I had been checking regularly, I applied immediately.

I am really looking forward to it. I'll be working primarily with students with emotional disabilities, but also doing some individual work with students with IEPs who need help with their language, science, or social studies.  Some other poor schmuck handles the math, thank the Lordt.
I let my teaching license expire years ago, but during the interview I was asked if I would be willing to renew it to be poised and ready if an English job becomes available.  I guess we'll jump off that bridge if/when we come to it. I know that my being back at work will be an adjustment for the whole family who have come to depend on me having my days more or less free to handle all the details of all of our lives, so I think we should take baby steps in getting used to having me less available.  My responsibilities and stress should be minimal with this job, which I think will be good to start out.

The hardest part will be the hour of our rising.  The boys and I will have to leave the house at 6:45 each morning. They are not used to being up before 7:30. We'll adjust, but might be a little tired for a while.  My plan is to have them shower at night and pick out clothes they can jump into in the morning. Also we'll make all the lunches tonight. It'll be fine. Right? Anyway, I am excited and figure it'll be good for me. You know, keep me off the streets.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#SoBlessed

It's my new pet peeve. Every once in a while I am struck with a new church jargon-y saying that will catch on and suddenly everyone is saying or writing it smacks of an insider's club where we say certain sayings that the outsiders don't say.  A couple of examples of this are when we talk about unpacking scripture or loving on our neighbors. Gross. Why are we loving on them? Why are we not just loving them? I for one do not wish to be loved on.

This new habit many of the faithful have of saying they are so blessed all the time about things like getting a promotion or having successful children or finding the great deal on the used car...Suddenly this one is everywhere. I bristle for one thing because I think it implies a terrible theology. It is contrary to my understanding, at least, of what being blessed means. Our very own Lord and Savior said that blessed are the poor in spirit and the meek and those who mourn, not those who live comfortable lives in the 'burbs.
Here's another one that causes me literal physical pain: praying for a hedge of protection. The bible uses this hedge vernacular several times to imply protection from harm so many Christians enjoy saying how they're praying for a hedge of protection for their loved ones because it's neat to incorporate scripture into your prayers. Makes it more powerful. It's funny to me. If I want protected from something, I think I'll try to hide behind something more substantial than a hedge. Why not pray for a 40 foot steel wall of protection? How about a impermeable force field of protection? Anyway, go ahead and pray your heart out for protection or for healing or for promotions but my observation has been that results will vary.

Want to know more about meaningless church jargon? Here's a more thorough list of the latest along with compelling reasons to stop saying this nonsense.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2014/02/828/

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Raising Girls

Being a parent is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing seige that Jerry Maguire and I will never fully tell you about.  Parenting boys, girls, children with 46 or 47 chromosomes...it's all a challenge. It's a joy like no other also, a roller coaster like no other.  I really and truly would not trade it for anything in all the world.

Because I believe raising these spawn of mine is my most important life's work, I desperately want not to screw it up too hard core. Obviously I'm screwing it up a little. So is everyone. Imperfect people make imperfect parents. I accept that. Today I'm thinking particularly about the challenge of raising girls.

When Chloe was little, I didn't have to wonder for long about whether or not she'd be a girl who would struggle with gender identity.  She was a swirly, twirly girly-girl from the start preferring all things pink and sparkly.  I didn't ask that of her or force it upon her; those were merely her factory settings. I had been a bit of a tomboy myself.  Her interests were in singing and dancing and Barbies and Easy Bake Ovens and Disney Princesses.  Eventually she learned to enjoy soccer and golf, but has always preferred a good book to any sort of athletic endeavor.  I know it's important not to force identities on our children and I can honestly say that Chloe couldn't have been more clear about who she was from the beginning. Really, we can't change that no matter how we try, but trying can cause damage that lasts a lifetime.

When Chloe had her first "boyfriend" in middle school, we allowed the two of them to text each other and realized how fast those conversations could escalate into mighty uncomfortable territory.  After that we were more careful. No boyfriends were allowed for quite a while, her phone was collected at 10pm, and random text checks were practiced just to keep everyone honest.

In high school, reigns were necessarily loosened.  Knowing we couldn't keep her locked in an ivory tower, we realized we would need to lengthen the slack and allow more freedom while still living here under our watchful care and rules.  We've had hits and misses with that plan, but mostly things have gone well.

This morning I read an article on Jezebel reminding me once again about the fine line we walk as parents when it comes to our young daughters' burgeoning sexuality.  Having been raised in a very conservative home myself, I tend toward the "No sex til you're married! Unwanted pregancy! STDs!" school of thought.  But then I wonder if Chloe will associate sex with shame. That kind of strict upbrining leaves lasting impressions and not always good ones.  I can say that I emerged from high school without having become pregnant or infected with any sort of slimy goo emanating forth from my nether regions, so my parent's plans worked to that extent.  I also remained a virgin well past most of my peers and mostly because I had been taught that "Good girls don't". I also was scared. They had effectively put the fear of God in me.
Then, suddenly because I was married, it was a good and wonderful part of a relationship even though it had been strictly forbidden and what bad girls did for my entire life up to that point? That's a difficult transition to make.  There must be a better way.

I still think sex is for adults. I do. But I also think that we as parents have to be careful about the way we frame those conversations with our daughters (and sons! But that's a different post) to keep it all in a healthy perspective.  It ain't easy, is it? What say you, blogosphere?


Friday, February 21, 2014

Will Smith on Turning 45

“I’m 45 right now. Right? And with the state of modern medicine—90, we’re all probably gonna hit 90,” he said. “90’s like a real thing now…So, I was thinking ‘This is halftime.’ Right? So, when you come out for the third quarter, in any sporting event the third quarter’s an important quarter. That’s not the time when you start relaxing and you start chilling. You gotta go get it in the third quarter.”

Yes! I like that! Time to go sky diving!

Numb

It's official: there is something very wrong with me. We've all had our suspicions, and now it is confirmed.
When I learn horrifying news, news of the death of young people in our community, for example as I have twice now in the last 24 hours, I feel almost nothing.   Just wide-eyed shock. You'd think I'd be the Empathy Queen about things like this. Nope.

It's not new. There has always been something wrong with me in this regard. I just can't react immediately to very big, very bad news. Good news is different. I can celebrate immediately. But bad news has to be processed for weeks and years.

It makes me think of an oyster with it's layers upon layers of protectant covering when an irritant like a piece of sand enters the shell.  I'm not sure it's good to be like this.  I think if I were able to react and deal with news more readily, I'd have an easier time moving on although I do believe that shock experienced as numbness is one way that our brain protects us from taking in more than we can reasonably deal with all at once.

I am imagining both sets sets of parents today, the dreaded next day when the sun comes up and you realize it wasn't just a bad dream. Oh, it's a nightmare alright, but one that you don't wake up from.
Every day after for the rest of your life is a next day.  Eventually it gets easier, but it never stops hurting. Prayer and meditation do help soothe and center one in the calm eye of the storm as it is swirling around you. I don't know either family at all, never met them. I won't be taking a casserole or sending cards about how God just needed another angel.  All I can do is send every good thought I can muster and hope that maybe they are experiencing a little numbness of their own this morning.  Just for now.

Friday, February 14, 2014

On Turning 45, edited

I rewrote my post about turning 45. Here's the new version.

Now that I'm older, it's awesome that I don't absolutely have to wash my hair every day anymore.

The End

Good, clean writing. Eliminates all the unnecessary words and cuts right to the heart of what's important.

Happy Valentine's Day


Still in love after nearly 23 years. Still the first one I want to tell my news to, still the one who can make me laugh, still the one who can help me see more clearly,  still the one I want to be with more than anyone else.  He's my stranded on a desert island and can only take one person guy.  Together we treasure our past and dream about our future. He's the smartest and wisest person I know and I consider myself one lucky girl to call him mine. 

Did you just throw up in your mouth a little?