Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Remember This...

I am actually doing it.  I am homeschooling one of my children.  The very child I said would be the last one I would ever choose to homeschool, which I never planned to do for any of my kids anyway.  The very child that never evoked sadness when I left her at a new adventure.  The very child that exposed every sinful fiber of my being. The very child that has challenged much of what I thought I knew about myself.  The very child that seemed more alien to me than familial.

After two days, yes, only two days, I can say...I love this.  I love this child. I love this decision. I love where it is taking me and I love what I see blooming between us.  I don't recall having received so many "I love you" notes in such a short time.  She actually said, "I can't believe you are doing all of this for me."  Our time together has been precious.  PRECIOUS!

Now, I am a realist.  I know this is the honeymoon stage and that by October I will be seriously rethinking my decision.  I will have this blog post to remind me of what I saw in these early days that filled me to the brim. 

This year is about us - more than anything academic.  It is about repairing my previously deteriorating, hurtful and always on the verge of exploding relationship with my daughter.  My eyes are full of tears as I type this.  Thank you, God, for this opportunity.  Thank you for taking my once very stubborn and hardened heart and transforming it to your will.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I had a discussion with a friend last week that left me pondering this question in the midst of life just not feeling right. Is my discontent with life based on a) rose-tinted view of the past, or b)  the realization that what I am experiencing is simply the way life normally is and I have just been fortunate no to have experienced it in this way, or c) am I just chemically unbalanced at the moment?

I liken what I have been feeling to wearing a pair of panty hose that is just one size too small with the elastic worn out at the top. Yeah, it is that uncomfortable.  You know what I am talking get it up to your waist, or above your waist for those that are so blessed to be short-waisted.  Drag the legs up so that the crotch finally fits into place and continue to get dressed.  At the beginning of your day, the pantyhose feels pretty good.  It keeps your legs a little warm, evens out the color in your legs, maybe even hides a varicose vein or so.  But then, as you walk about your day, the hose begins to sag.  First, the waist rolls down, then inches toward your hips, dragging your panties with it (exempt only if you wear a thong).  The crotch is the next to go sliding down your thighs until it is nearly at your knees,greatly limiting your stride.It gives me shudders just remembering that feeling. You head to the bathroom to try to repair it and while grabbing at it to pull it up, your fingers thrust through the woven elastic, ripping a finger-sizes hole and causing them to run.  Thus, you further ruined something you were already really struggling with anyway.

It took this Sunday at church to give me my answer.  I realized that issue of my daily grind being a bit irritating was not a, b, or c, but because I have been trying to fit into something that really isn't me at all.  I have been wearing a pair of hose the size and fit of which initially gave me a "warm fuzzy."  But as time progressed, that hose became my enemy, dragging me down, leaving me frustrated.  It left me constantly trying to make it stay in place, perfectly stretched to my frame  Conclusion? I had been conned.  It was and will never, ever going to work.

I have been living in the world. As a result, I kept trying to use my own strength to get me through some tough emotions, just like trying to make that dreadful pantyhose stay in place.  Guess what?  I ruined it. It hasn't been comfortable and trying even harder to make it work has ultimately ruined quite a few things.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pregnant Summer

School orientation last night means that summer is coming to a screeching halt and school will begin in a mere 4 days.  Much of our adventures have been undocumented this summer and for the sake of remembrance, I will make a short synopsis here.  I say "sake of remembrance" because Jay firmly believes I have some sort of short-term memory issues invading my brain.  Maybe he is right.  Actually, now that I think about it, if I do have some sort of short-term memory lapses going on, then I won't remember much of this summer, right?  Oh never mind.

School let out in May and as documented in this blog, we headed for the Old Country to see Jay's parents.  Lovely trip.  The kids were fantastic traveling and Jay's host parents, Jimmy and Nancy, were in awe as well.  I have a wonderful peace when I am in the Netherlands.  Maybe it is the simpler lifestyle or the sounds of the language rolling off their tongues, maybe it is was just vacation.  It was the perfect kick-off to summer.

Upon our return, we dove head first into swim season.  Did you get that pun?  I made the mistake of signing the kids up for three swim teams this summer.  Even writing it, I wonder what was going through my brain at the time. Two summer league teams and one year round team kept us hopping from pool to pool and meet to meet.  In the end, we weren't really focused on anything more than packing bags and driving around in my car.  Progress was slow and sometimes not as evident, but the kids had fun with their summer league teams and friends.  Overall Sadie consistently came in second in each of her events, with an occasional first and third thrown in.  Ethan was a consistent fifth placer for the team and was counted on for the longer, more difficult event of the 100 IM. Lily's first meet was not quite what I had expected.  She jumped in, came up for air, heard all the people sheering and completely freaked out.  She grabbed the lane rope and I wasn't too sure she would give it up and swim to the side of the pool.  Thankfully, I can chalk it up to being completely unprepared for the noise, the experience of a swim meet with a little jet lag from our trip to Europe.  She recovered in time for the next meet and from then on, she jumped in and finished with no problem.  She even earned a few ribbons in the process which thrilled her little 5-year old heart to no end.

Interspersed with swimming were trips to go bowling, skating, to ArtQuest, and sleepovers with friends, piano lessons, time spent with Grandparents, away camp at Camp Lurecrest, Lily's first overnight guest, a day at Wet 'n Wild water park, a trip to Wrightsville Beach, golf camp, cheer camp and Barbie ballet camp.

Some highlights from the above include Ethan's return to Camp Lurecrest which he counted down the days until he boarded the bus in Charlotte.  It also marked Sadie's first foray into overnight camp.  She loved it and the letters home announced that she was not homesick at all!  Their first week after camp was the most delightful one for me as they were so well-behaved. They can't wait to return next summer!

Lily attended cheer camp at school and also Barbie ballet camp at a local dance studio.  She was thrilled with both, although coordination may not her strongest suit.  Still, she completed her little routines and performed with enthusiasm at the final shows of each event.  Lily was also treat to a day trip to Tweetsie Railroad while Ethan and Sadie were away.  A huge thanks goes out to my father and stepmom for this treat which translates to me not having to go back to Tweetsie ever again!  Yay!  She came home with a pink cowboy hat and wonderful memories. 

Some funny, or well, now funny moments over the summer include Lily's self-inflicted hair cut. Her efforts were best described as a long mullet with several chunks taken out of the back. Yes, I freaked out.  Thankfully, we had a even-keeled friend visiting at the time who promptly helped with procuring an appointment at a professional salon just a short time later!  Now, Lily sports a cute little bob which is really much, much easier to maintain.

Ethan and Lily had several things in common this summer - birthdays, birthday parties and lost teeth.  Ethan lost an incisor and Lily lost both top teeth leaving her with a little Dracula look.  Ethan celebrated his 10th birthday twice - once on his actual birth date which coincided with our trip to the Netherlands and then a pool party with his friends in July.  Lily celebrated her birthday with her family and two friends at Golden Corral (her choice!) and then at home.  Her party is this Sunday at the Rol-A-Rink.

Our trip to Wrightsville Beach was a nice cap to a full summer.  We only went for a long weekend, but it provided a nice burst of family time before school begins.  We had one crazy series of events that occurred on Saturday.  It all started when Sadie caught a live jelly fish in a bucket.  It was the "hit" with all the kids in our area of the beach.  The kids were all chanting, "Bury it! Bury it!"  However, not heeding this advice, Jay decided to throw it back into the ocean to "save it."  I could discuss his decision regrading the fate of the jellyfish, but I will continue with the story and let you make the call whether this was the correct one or not.  After flinging the jellyfish about two feet away from his position in the water which was about knee deep, the jellyfish did what most would have done, been forced to the short by the crashing waves.  The kids noticed it was coming back on shore and crept closer to see what it was doing.  At this point, it made it to shore and Lily, with her lack of coordination, tripped on nothing, her knee landing right smack onto the jellyfish.  Ouch.  I rushed my screaming child to the lifeguard who told me to put wet sand on the sting.  From this moment on, Lily refused to go back into the ocean, not even getting her feet wet.  And this is what Lily proclaimed she would write on her first piece of paper on the first day of first grade: "I went to the beach and got stung by a jellyfish and it hurt a lot."  Great.

Ethan and Sadie have been over the moon with golf camp this week.  Both have begged to continue with lessons after the camp is over. That leads me to our "school year schedule."  Typing those actual words give me serious anxiety.  I like simplicity although I rarely achieve it with my schedule.  This year looks to be the worst.  I am trying to figure out how I get myself into this type of mess and the bottom line is that I try to make life "fair" to each of my three kids while also giving them the best opportunities possible.  I know both of these philosophies are very worldly viewpoints and neglect the much more important "God first, then spouse, then kids" belief.

Hereis our tentative schedule:
Ethan:  Swimming M.W.TH, golf - to be determined (decided against scouts and music lessons this year)
Sadie:  Faith Academy on Tuesdays from 12:30 - 4:45, piano Thursday 1:30, swimming M.WTH
Lily: Swimming TH, Piano Tuesday 3:00, soccer - to be determined

Writing it out like that makes it appear fairly simple, but what it means is that no one gets home from their day until around 5:45 M-TH.  And on Tuesday, it will be later if Lily does soccer on that day.  I pushed Lily off of soccer all last year and feel like I have to at least let her try it because of her strong interest in it. It also means that Ethan will have to do homework on the go this year.  His ability to stay focused is tenuous at best and will the stress and anxiety of keeping up, staying on track and potential of becoming complacent be our downfall?  Time will tell.  I can always move swim days around and drop one altogether. Soccer will also end in early November.

The bonus of the schedule, I think, is that Sadie will not have homework or projects so that eliminates one issue at night.  Lily and I will have some alone time together while the other two are swimming as I plan on heading home during swim practice to start dinner.  I will also allow Ethan to stay up until 9 this year. The girls will hit the bed at 8, but giving Ethan the extra hour will give us more time together and give him some needed downtime after homework.

Homeschool.  I am waiting on two books, but have been able to make two weeks of lesson plans without them.  I have tentatively set Sadie up in the dining room as we are reworking our bonus room with cabinetry and desks.  What was once a playroom is being transformed into a study/hangout room for tweens.  I spoke with Sadie this morning to get a feel for where she was with all the changes.  She did not go with us to the orientation last night at school and I wondered what was going on in her mind.  She responded that she was really excited about staying at home this year.  Relief.

We have named our school Raritas Academy, which means rare and unique.  The requirements for the state include: registering your school, sending in the instructor's high school (or above) diploma, and then keeping attendance throughout the year.  I am not sure that end of year testing is required, but it doesn't matter because I plan on doing that anyway.  So, we are all set to start our first day of school on the same day as Ethan and Lily.  Jay was quick to point out that he already knew who would win the "Teacher of the Year" and "Student of the Year!"

If you have made it through all of this rambling, thanks. 

Blue Like Jazz

"The ability to accept God's unconditional grace and ferocious love is all the fuel we need to obey Him in return." Blue Like Jazz: NonReligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, by Don Miller

I am in the midst of reading a great book.  The book reflects much of what has been turning, rather rolling around in my brain this summer.  The sways and straying of a heart that was once passionately and fervently sold out to Him.  The varying ebb and flow of a zealous believer to that of near apathy.  The discovery of just what a sinner I am, attempt to overcompensate with ridiculous legalistic bindings only to realize again what a sinner I am.  It gets me nowhere on my own.