Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
During the time we spent mulling whether or not to home school, one friend realized that she and her husband are called to school their daughters while another continues to consider which route will be best for her girls. There is a measure of wistfulness as I contemplate the fun they will have, and the closeness they will enjoy with their girls as both teachers and parents. There is also a recognition of the freedom they sacrifice and the weight of being solely responsible for their children's educations. Which means I can sincerely cheer them on in their incredible undertaking while still feeling comfortable with dropping off my own duckies in the carpool lane Monday through Friday knowing that should the need to educate them at home arise it can be done well. Ultimately, all parents are teaching and training whether we do it in partnership with a public, private, charter, or home school coop. It is that sense of purpose that I believe ultimately matters more than the method or location.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The world is disposable, and it shows in our relationships. Our landfills are testimony to our lives from plastic diapers to paper plates and fast food wrappers, modern life runs on convenience. Without hopping on the green soapbox, I do protest the carry over of our disposable lifestyle when it comes to relationships. My friends are not starter homes that I will replace with fancier models as I move up to something better, or mirrors with only the appearance of depth, but precious individuals with unique quirks, ideas, thoughts, hopes, dreams, beliefs, and ideas. Each one is a gem regardless of cut, clarity, or setting.
So I proposed to my spouse an idea this morning. Friday night potlucks. By the end of the week no one really wants to cook, and everyone is tired. So I would like to open our home up one Friday a month to welcome our friends be they old, new, or somewhere in between to join us in a simple potluck meal. I'm going to start pitching the idea today to the mommies and see who else likes this thought, but I have an image in my head of regular informal gatherings--- a kaleidoscope of the brightest bits in our lives swirling in and out over the months. Keeping us in touch, and illuminating our home with the brightest lights in our lives. Some months there might be an e-vite, an invite, or a phone call... but entirely random because I have become ever more random myself. Yesterday's questioning and slight sadness at an ending has begun to blossom into the joy of a new beginning.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
This year is different. I feel the pull on the one hand of my culture and several decades of "Halloween Fun", but on the other hand is the consideration of how the early church incorporated such cultural what-not into the calendar just so that people would show up. Not cool. Into my quandary comes the voice of a friend's child saying, "We don't do Halloween. We go bowling. And eat candy." That voice was hot on the heels of one of my own spouting the ridiculous, "Mawwwwm--- we know it's Satan's Birthday, but it's not like that's what we are celebrating." (Otherwise intelligent child say what!?) So I told the kids to research Halloween, Sam Hain, harvest festivals, etc.
They sort of almost did (research = poll of peers), and returned with the response that the historical basis for our current Halloween traditions are based on people trying to scare off malevolent spirits or "dead souls". We added the info that people put out treats to try to bribe the same spirits in hopes of having no evil or mischief done. The children informed us that they know that stuff is fiction, and they want to dress up and eat candy.
The 13-year-old really does not need seasonal encouragement to dress in a LOTR or Star Wars costume. Those are pretty much reserved for days that end in "y". We just keep repeating our emphatic "no" for that one. The middle child was given permission to attend a Halloween theme party last night despite our reservations, and with a fair amount of discussion beforehand. She was shocked to find the level of yuck, grotesque, horror, and creepy at the McMansion where the party was held by people who really get into Halloween. There was way more talking after she returned home, and definitely more understanding of why Mom and Dad have a big thumb's down for one of the most profitable holidays of the retail year. The youngest child really doesn't care because everyday is something of a costume party for her, and as long as she gets some candy she is generally not concerned about Halloween at all. She does have a ghoulish fascination with the animatronic severed hands and ghouls that line the aisles of MegaMart and SuperSpot, but she will be equally enthralled by ice skating snowmen and dancing Santas in a few more weeks.
I am just not sure if we will be bowling, hiding out in our darkened home, at the movies, or if we will just go find a church with a "Fall Festival" on the 31st. There are likely a few more family discussions to come on this one as we hash out the latest in the series of debates on culture vs Christ.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Erin has also been selected to serve in the church's Christmas Festival by "reading" (from memory) Luke 2. The hope is that there will be four wee people reciting Luke 2, but for the immediate moment there are two confirmed readers. Katie has been volunteered as a third possibility, but she has a band concert on the Thursday night when she would otherwise be rehearsing for the big Christmas performance. Not too sure how that might work. Did I mention that Don is playing bass in the same program schedule? It's going to be a little busy, but still fun.
In anticipation of me saying, "Yes" to anything or anyone else, I woke up with a case of laryngitis this morning. Perfect reason for a quiet evening at home tonight now that my in-laws have headed back home after their visit.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tonight he is wandering a path paved with words that are beginning to bridge the chasm carved out by my hopes and expectations, his wants and likes, and our shared challenges and frustrations in trying to hold onto a relationship that threatens to slither away from us as we enter the teen years.
Me around the swelling in my throat while frantically blinking to prevent tears: "That's sensory."
The Boy: "What? What's sensory?"
Me: "The feeling. It's a sensory thing... and an autism thing. You are sensitive to certain things that I might not notice, but that can overwhelm your senses. You feel things differently, but not just the sensory stuff. Your reaction to the sensory feelings are different, too. Your responses to those feelings are more like mine because they are sometimes too big--- that's a bipolar thing."
The Boy: "Oh. Okay."
Yeah, it is okay.
Anywho. So I am wanting to read Judges. Because I like it. Instead today is dedicated to a bucket of soapy water and grimebusting. In preparing for weekend visitors, it has come to my attention that my children apparently need better instruction regarding hand-washing. At least this is the tale I am discovering in the mute testimony of their grubby medium-sized handprints, fingerprints, and smudges. On every surface. It started with the chair rail in the dining room. And then the blinds. And the doors. And the walls. I am sorely tempted to present the darlings with cotton gloves at the front door daily. It would save me an incredible amount of time on cleaning days since my years of telling the children to not touch the walls, glass, etc. seem to have failed... aha! My kids are no more perfect than me (or those Israelites)! I knew there was a reason for me to read Judges. It adds to the likelihood of my seriously dirty kids receiving grace rather than my irritation... and to me being less grouchy about cleaning up after the not-so-wee beasties.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
If I tackle all the areas where I am undisciplined, I will fail in ways large and small. Shouldering a burden of growing disappointment and discouragement is completely counter productive. So. I have identified dropping the relatively few pounds that reclaimed from my original weight loss as a step toward the disciplined life. (Not the creepy kind of "discipline" people offer on the internet, but the good kind that's chock full o' "stick-with-it-ive-ness".)
Recognizing that the priorities set in life, whether intentionally or incidentally, reflect whose I am, I find the need to be far more intentional in setting the order of each day. To be disciplined. Right now, I am short of the mark. In multiple areas. But I will start with this one. Covering this short distance will recover the muscle memory of what it is to run with purpose toward the goal.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
She has wrestled with her brother's behaviors and idiosyncracies over the years, but she has never before seen quite what it is like to be Evan because they have always been at different schools so he could attend "special" programs while she went to the neighborhood campus. She is not impressed with the way she sees people treating her brother. She can treat him poorly on occasion, but she is outraged if anyone else does. She seems to be making a more concerted effort along with our younger daughter to simply befriend Evan.
This afternoon the pair played Cranium in between loads of laundry while waiting for dinner. Then Katie showed how well she does know her brother. A book in a series Evan loves came out, but there was a wait in the library for it. Evan bemoaned how he would be waiting for weeks to check out one of two copies in circulation. This evening his sister pulled one of the two copies out of her backpack and handed it to him. (Can you just hear the "Oh. Oh... OH!" from their Mama?) She was able to check out the book, and she thought of something that would be entirely thrilling to her brother.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
An hour later, I watch through the same window as the class finishes up with the girls taking turns running across the room to practice their "leaps". One or two of them actually makes a leap, too. I observe their body language and expressions. The herd of girlies are striking in their confidence, beauty, and the expectation that they are "doing it" as they attempt to stretch out their front legs to smoothly follow through the motion with the back leg following. Every one of those lovely little girls exudes sheer joy. They are so clearly lovely in their leaping and their cute little twinkie ballet costumes... or camo shorts. (Whatever.)
After class Erin and I stand around chatting with another mommy who has two cute little girls in class (wearing matching cute white ballet costumes) and a precious toddler cruising around on her sturdy baby legs. The girls are all still leaping and twirling. As Erin and I get into the car to head for home, she asks about the other girls outfits. She wants a floatie, twinkie, dancing outfit in... gray. And this morning she returns to add her hope that I can also procure her a pair of "dancing shoes". *sigh* I probably should've seen it coming.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I was half right. Dad was actually on his way to my house. Which was a disaster. (The house, not my Dad.) And I was at church with several hours more work ahead of me. So I did the natural thing, and let pure panic wash over me as I tried to determine how to go from wrecked house and nothing planned for dinner to welcoming our guest. I also messed up a couple of sandwiches before recovering a measure of equilibrium while my mind wandered through potential dinner menu options to greet Dad after his long drive from out of state.
I called home ask Don to pull some chicken out of the freezer so we would have something besides the originally planned find-it-make-it for dinner. He reminds me that the children have, "...ninety zillion pounds of laundry backed up and spilling over..." as well as the detritus from a weekend when we were only home to make messes, not clean them up. (Awesome.) I begin to consider the benefits of curling up in a ball and rocking. Except that I don't really have any time to waste.
Once the lunch is served at the church, I head for home because my regular Monday playdate with Alexa and Maya is off since their Mommy's staff meeting is cancelled for this week. (This is actually good although I will miss them.) My painful joints are flaring up, so that hampers my speed and desire to move. Still, I run a couple of loads of laundry, do the dishes, marinate the chicken, and retrieve the assorted kids from school. We run to the grocery store for Granddad's nuts and Diet Coke. Don cleans up the dog hair, the children are sent scurrying to clean up their bedrooms and move more laundry while I start the potatoes. I figure I am going to be dead-on with the food ready just when Dad is due in... at which point he calls to say he is thirty miles from Suburbia after finally outrunning the rain that had slowed his earlier progress. I switch into higher gear. Evan jumps in to help. We get the food into the oven, and I help Don with the other tasks that remain to be done.
Once Dad arrives, the frenzied preparations end, and we all relax to welcome him. Whew. Now we get to just enjoy the visit, and our clean house. And eat Snickerdoodle Blue Bell ice cream. Yay!
Friday, October 10, 2008
- If you don't know someone well enough to be able to give a reasonable guess about some little something they will enjoy, then you have no business shopping for them.
- Rather than "wishes", the list has taken on a flavor that is suspiciously reminiscent of "demands".
- An expectation of increasingly more expensive gifts has been an unfortunate consequence of the well-intended requests for suggestions.
- An air of "thankfulness" is hard to nurture when we create a state of "expectation" that feeds on itself to breed a beast of Want from October until late December.
I expected to be met with protest on the decree that we would be taking a pass on the annual Wish List this year. Wow. Not only did the kids not howl or whine, they actually articulated similar reasons to my own for why we should dump that particular tradition. I always love my kids, but it is precious to receive the gift of really liking them, too.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This same friend and her daughter also tested out the cool Parachutes for Columbia that are in the works by tying said parachutes to baby wipes and dropping them off the second story of the church to be sure the parachutes will actually deploy. (Voice of the Martyrs is sponsoring making 22 inch working parachutes and sending said parachutes to a gentleman who uses them to drop Bibles and what-not into the area inhabited by FARC rebels to change their hearts.) Good to know that the parachutes really do work, and I bet they will be even better when dropped out of a plane rather than tossed over a balcony.
Weird day. Fun, but weird.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Drivers are becoming more aggressive and reckless. (I wonder if traffic accident and violation citation data would back up my personal observations?) People in their cars a year ago were singing to the radio, laughing and chatting with passengers or the phantoms of Blue Tooth, and willing to let one in when a lane disappeared suddenly due to construction. Not so these days. The single finger salute seems to be growing more common, attaching one's front bumper to the car ahead's rear bumper appears to be at least a valid choice (if not a goal), and the expressions glimpsed on faces would be reasonable on a soldier locked in losing hand-to-hand combat.
Walking the aisles of the grocery store or megamart, the common expression of aggression is exchanged for one of fear, despair, or worry. The carts that were filled with organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, etc. foods eighteen months ago are now more likely to carry store-brand macaroni and cheese, whichever milk is cheapest, applesauce, cereal, pre-packaged lunch meat, peanut butter, and a loaf of bread. Our local stores reflect in their displays a progressive slowing of impulse purchases as the "extra" (not food) items offered for sale seem to be selling more slowly or not at all until the beach-themed melamine dishes, suntan lotion, and school supplies end up in a cart labeled with a hand-lettered magic marker sign proclaiming "extra 25% off lowest price marked!!!"
Last weekend I saw something different. We attended a big party thrown to celebrate a 65th birthday. This was a full-blown celebration complete with barbecue dinner, giant birthday cake, hay rides, dee-jay, and the ubiquitous Chicken Dance. (Yay!) No expense was spared in celebrating the day when Ralph reached 65 years of life. Because his funeral was expected at 64.5. Ralph contracted a nasty infection and was in a coma last Spring while his family, friends, and a host of Believers in Christ prayed for him to live. So he is living life to the fullest and celebrating every day whether there is a big party or not. I sat in Ralph's home days before the party and he was smiling and laughing with his wife, daughters, and one of the grandchildren in the very same way he was smiling and laughing with a hundred plus of his nearest and dearest days later.
I figure Ralph knows what's up. So, I will smile at the frowning masses. I will greet total strangers. I will hug my middle school kids who squirm away saying "Mooooom!" and attempt to flee--- only to dance closer if I do not chase after because they really need that affection. I will pour my heart and love into other people every chance that I see. When I fail to share joy, I will know there is grace for me, too. I will smile, laugh, and dance because the troubles of this world are not going to go anywhere, but I do not have to add to them. I will also cry with those who mourn because sometimes laughter is not the best medicine. Sometimes I will likely rant a bit because I get angry, hurt, frustrated, or defensive. Through it all, I will pray and I will hope.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I have officially decided that I love the Chicken Dance, and it will always bring to mind Ralph and this wonderful evening... Hope you enjoy the video even half as much as I enjoyed the "dancing".
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The latest round of selling (six weeks into the school year) is for the band. My sixth grader came home yesterday hyped up about selling cookie dough. During yet another class period wasted, the kids have been programmed to go home and sell, sell, sell. The class with the most sales will get some sort of reward or other... blah, blah, blah. I looked at the child as she blathered on with dollar signs flashing in her eyes, and I just snapped. I calmly told her that she would not be selling anything because she is a student--- not the school's private sales force. Still high on visions of pizza parties or some such malarkey, my kid makes the poor judgment call of arguing for her right to sell cookie dough to our neighbors.
At which point, Mama saw red over the school's constant grubbing for green. All three kids received a fairly hefty dose of "YOU ARE STUDENTS--- NOT SALES PEOPLE!" I ran down the list of things that we would not be selling from cookie dough and magazine subscriptions to t-shirts and fuzzy pens. I explained that I am all for the band providing scholarships to students who cannot afford private lessons, and that I will happily write a check to support that cause. I am far less enthusiastic about what was described as "the need to provide our band students with clinics in a highly competitive atmosphere" because my sixth grader is already in a state of total melt-down thanks to the overly competitive atmosphere that is not really serving to motivate her to excellence so much as crying jags.
Yet again last night, the child was begging for home school, but she has been told that we need to see her make the transition into middle school before a decision is made regarding home school. I hate that she is struggling, and it burns me up that the same people who don't have time to encourage her or give a pat on the back do have time to pile on fundraisers. Can child labor laws be extended to halt the school fundraiser?!