Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What's that word?



I need to know the name for a word that may or may not exist.  It's not schadenfreud, but means something close...

What's the word for people who show their jealously when you explain something you've lost and they say "Well, I never had that so you shouldn't miss it?"  or "Now you know how I feel"  or "Now you're just like the rest of us"  ?

I've seen this in more than one circumstance, but the most memorable was when I was sick last year.  When I went bald I had healthy bald men say "Now you know how I feel".
Really?  You're comparing a bald woman on chemotherapy with a healthy bald man?
Wow - well, I guess we both need hats in the winter.

When my hair did come back, but thinner, curly, fragile I heard comments like "At least you had good hair once"  "Didn't you always want curly hair?  Guess you should be careful what you wish for". 
Because you think I had something good before, I don't deserve to have it back, or mourn its' loss?

During chemo and now, after, I have memory and cognitive issues (called "chemo-brain" in cancer circles).  I've heard comments like "Guess you're not so smart now, eh?"  "You were too smart for your own good before anyway" and  "Lucky you had some brains to spare". 
I don't even have a response to that.

Now that I have kids in school, I'm finding something similar at an institutional level. 
I've got a kid with a 2+ sigma difference between his IQ and certain types academic achievement.  Before 2008 this would be diagnosed as an official "learning disability" and we could have (relatively) easily gotten an IEP and some accommodations for this student.  Because of a change in the laws that define learning disabilities, that isn't the case.  Even though this kid isn't able to work at the level indicated by his ability, because he is able to perform  at or above "average for grade or age" level, it isn't considered a disability.  Despite the fact that they prevent him from showing some of his abilities, his disabilities don't count because they only bring him down to the "average".  His difficulties, although very real and frustrating in a school setting, don't merit consideration by the powers that be.

As I write this I know that many will interpret it as whining.
"You're alive right?  You should be grateful."
I am grateful to be alive.  That doesn't mean I don't miss the parts of my life that are gone or changed by cancer treatment.

"What's wrong with average?"
There's nothing wrong with being average.
There's nothing wrong with being NOT average either, and it needs to be acknowledged that people who are not average in ways that are usually perceived as positive still have problems and need support just like "average" people.

I'll leave you by talking about my geese.
We got domestic geese at the end of last summer.  They seem pretty happy waddling along in our back field eating grass, and tucking into their pen at night with their grain.  We love our geese, their antics and beauty are a joy to watch.

Here in Colorado we also have lots of wild Canada geese.  They are beautiful.  This time of year they migrate, they fly high and free.  At the city park we have some resident Canada geese, some of which are permanently injured and can not migrate anymore.  They have a relatively good life, people feed them and there's a little island they can retreat to if they want to avoid the dogs and kids.

City Park Canada goose

George and Gracie













What is the difference between a domestic goose who can't fly and a wild goose who can't fly?  Is it a comfort to the wild goose to know that now it's "just like" a domestic goose?




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Liberty Commons High School

Our Brazilian exchange student is going to Liberty Commons High School.  It was the only school left with room for an exchange student, and I'm glad he was able to get a spot.  It seems like a reasonable fit for him, and it gives me a change to get to know  a high school I was interested in for Bit Boy, but didn't get a chance to see.

Liberty Commons High School (commonly called "Liberty") is a parent run public charter school.  It has  420 students, grades 7-12.  It grew from the Liberty Commons Elementary school.  Although they share the same campus, the 7th and 8th graders have a different lunch than the 9-12th grades.    I was amused to learn that Liberty has "houses" for the 9-12th grades (and "orders" for the 7-8).  Each house has it's own name (using the cardinal virtues), motto, and student president. The houses and orders are a bit like "home room" or "advising" period in other schools, allowing the students to have a smaller group of individuals to become familiar with and work with across grades.

Liberty is billed as a classical education with a common core foundation, but has a growing reputation as a good engineering prep school.  My first exposure to Liberty was when Firelord came home from volunteering at High School Days at our local university, where high school students are introduced to basic engineering concepts and given application opportunities.  He was most impressed with the Liberty students.  As a whole their diligence, insight, and demeanor set them well above the other students.  A friend who works in the Engineering College at CSU told me that department is actively recruiting from Liberty Commons High School because their  admitted students have been outstanding.

LCHS has some drawbacks.  The first thing most parents and students notice is the dress code.  Our exchange student had to go shopping in his first days here because his standard teenage wardrobe of t-shirts and jeans was not acceptable.  The most important thing families should know going in is that the course work and homework load are considerable.  Our student is exceptional academically and has been quite capable of getting his work done (despite working in his second language), however it leaves little time for other activities.   It was refreshing, if telling, when the soccer coach told us directly "We know Liberty has a lot of homework.  If you need to miss practice to keep up with school, just send us an email or give us a call to let us know."

LCHS is not for every family.  The majority of families and teachers there seem to be fundamentalist Christians, something that was demonstrated in the fall soccer banquet when the head coach repeatedly commented on "God's plan for this young man".   There are a few liberal families there, but they keep their heads down and their mouths shut.  If, like me, you have out spoken tie-dye wearing hippie kids, they're probably not going to feel at home here.  Also, LCHS's budget is well above that allocated by the state so their fund raising is non stop.  If regular requests for donations of time and money are going to get your goat, this probably isn't the place for you.  There is a strong expectation of volunteering and financial contribution at this school.

If you have a diligent student who is wanted an academically  rigorous high school experience, and you are willing to give up the time it takes to support that student and this school, then Liberty might be an excellent fit for you.  If you have a student who is more interested in the arts, outside projects, or just isn't willing or able to keep up with the difficult course load, you might want to keep looking.








Sunday, November 24, 2013

Enough...

I've been struggling recently.  I just don't feel like I'm "enough".  There is so much to do that isn't getting done.  There's so much I want to do that I don't have time for.  I'm frazzled and tired, making mistakes, and not enjoying even those few things I do right.   My children frequently point out when I make mistakes... not just little  mistakes like spelling either: bigger mistakes like forgetting a tutoring session or not reminding a child of music lessons, and down right illegal mistakes like switching lanes within 200 feet of a stop light (oh, the joys of having a student driver riding shot gun).  If only they knew the huge mistakes I've made - I don't know whether they'd feel gleefully justified or just terrified that their young lives have rested in my hands.

There was a time when "enough" was my mantra.  I read books like Everyday Blessings by Jon Cabot Zinn, and Whole Child Whole Parent by Berends and Peck.  I watched as other friends raced frantically through their lives and decided I would not do that.   We would have a relaxed home life, working through "flow" and with ease.  Of course it wasn't really like that, I was pregnant and/or nursing for 9+ years, and as anyone with babies and toddlers can tell you, it's exhausting work.  But it had it's own rhythm, and a lovely (albeit noisy) sort of peace.

Last year I was fairly incapable of much, and would have had an easy time saying "No", except no one even asked.  It's amazing how expectations lower when you're going through cancer treatment.  I completed treatment by Christmas, and by mid January we were in the tropics for our sabbatical.  Physically I wasn't really up to living aboard, and so again, lower expectations ruled the day.  Then we came back, and things changed.

Thinking about it, I think this current business is a reaction to last year's illness.  I felt so out of it, so left behind, out of the stream of our community.  When we got back from our sabbatical, I jumped in with both feet.  When the kids asked for something "Yes" was a fun thing to say after such a long enforced time of inactivity.   I got working, signing up to teach RE, agreeing to teach O.W.L., signing the kids up for lessons, getting Bit Boy in to high school/college, prepping Lego Kid for public school and letting him take this Latin course, welcoming an exchange student in the fall.  We didn't resume our old habits and schedule, we created an much busier one.  Now I'm learning what it feels like to be as busy as those in the main stream, and I don't like it.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  The reasons are probably as numerous as the people involved, or more so, since most of us have a multitude of reasons for doing what we do.  Most parents have to work, most kids have to go to school.  There's the cultural expectations, but also all the great stuff to spend our time on.   The temptations of this world are many, and we're all conditioned to admire folks who are busy.  "I don't know how you do it all" is a great compliment in most circles, and who doesn't want to be admired?  There's also the sheer joy of our chosen activities.  Our family loves our music making, outdoor time with friends, visits from family,  learning new things.  There, quite literally, isn't enough time in a single life to do all the things we'd like to do. There's also the pressure to contribute.  "With great gifts, comes great responsibility."  If we have the ability to contribute, we feel obliged.  We have lots of abilities and resources, and so feel obliged to contribute, besides most of it is rewarding and fun.

Whatever the motivation, the result here hasn't been pretty.  All the business comes at a cost.  Saying "Yes" to business means saying "No" to down time and quiet.  Time in lessons means is time not available for free play.  If we think about it, we realize that every "Yes" is also "No" to something else.  The trouble is we just don't think about it.  Keeping busy  means we don't have time to think about it.  In some ways that's easier.  Stay busy, don't think, just do what comes next.  There are times when that's a great strategy.  Those times, though, usually come after a bit of planning and forethought.  College is a good example of a time when you might be crazy busy, but it's all good - you planned the work and are working the plan.  The trouble comes when we're not planning the work or working the plan, but just reacting to the triggers that we experience.  "Can you...?" "Yes, I can."  "Would you?"  "Yes, I will."  Without thought as to what we're saying "No" to, "Yes" might not be the right answer.

I'm not sure what, if anything, is going to give, but something will have to change, soon.  Just as soon as the semester is finished, just as soon as that next trip is done, just as soon as.....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Searching

I'd like to say we're zipping along like a sprinter, but that would be a bald faced lie. We are still searching for our balance.  In reality we're not even on a casual hike.  We're more like a slosh-faced drunk trying to stagger out the barroom door.

This year we've taken on a more academic approach to our homeschool.  In the past we mostly unschooled, and last year was catch as catch can.  With Bit Boy in high school/college, and Lego Kid making noises about wanting to follow in his footsteps, Hot Dog has requested academics so he can do what his brothers do. 

As I write I have Lego Kid and Hot Dog at the public library "working" on their math while Bit Boy is in town getting some testing done.  I'm sure we're annoying every patron within earshot, since apparently they are incapable of doing their work silently.  Lego Kid is doing pre-algebra, using Art of Problem Solving.  Hot Dog is working on multiplication using Beast Academy 3B.  Lego Kid's goal is to be finished with algebra by next fall so that he can join Bit Boy at CEC.  Hot Dog wants to finish with 4th grade math by next fall so that he can be a "5th grader" a year early and do the Library Pals program earlier.  (Given that he has late fall birthday, skipping him a grade isn't too crazy, he'd be only a month younger than the youngest students of that grade - a month younger, and 2 heads shorter... sigh...)

Lego Kid has really been struggling.  He chose to do a rigorous online Latin class.  It moves fairly quickly, being designed for high-achieving high schoolers.  Lego kid is only 12, but he really, really, wants to learn Latin, and wanted to take this class because he has  enjoyed working with the instructor in an earlier class.  We both know he's capable of the work, but his work ethic, speed of processing, and organizational skills are not such that this is an easy task.  He wants to do the work, but spends literally hours avoiding it, then another hour sitting in front of it in despair.  Finally, with much gnashing of teeth it will get done, but only after we're both frazzled to the bone, having accomplished nothing else all day. 

I'm realizing more and more that while my kids learn so much more, and so much easier at home, it's not in a way that translates well into a traditionally organized class like this Latin class.  If they were in school they would have already learned to sit down and do what was expected of them without complaining (much, out loud, etc.).  Being home/un-schooled they've enjoyed learning as an organic process that flows naturally  out of their own curiosity and energy.  Doing "school" is just so different from what has worked for us. 

The difference is not a good thing or a bad thing, just something I noticed.

 I'm still baffled by Lego Kid's desire to become a classical scholar, especially given how challenging it is for him.  Given that he is determined, we'll keep plugging away at it, I'm just wondering if this is really the "best" way for him.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Adolecent angst

Lego Kid has always been a thoughtful introspective person.  At the age of 4 he was devastated by quantum mechanics.  At the age of 8 he said "Eight is the perfect age, you're still a kid, but you're big enough to do fun stuff.  I want to be eight forever".  Most recently he's been having swinging emotions and desires, wanting more peers, more time with Mom, more time alone, more structure, less structure.  Basically wanting whatever it is he doesn't have at that moment.

It's been hard on this homeschooling mom.  I can't help but question our choices, especially with regards to this bright, intense, child.

Every parent wonders at some point if they've done right by their child.  Have they made the correct educational and disciplinary choices?  Doing anything outside the norm just increases that.  If Johnny is struggling at the local neighborhood school, Mom and Dad may wonder how they can help, but they can comfort themselves that all the neighbors are at that school too, so how bad could it be?  A homeschooler has accepted total responsibility for the education and well being of their children, and is doing something completely pretty outside the mainstream, so not only do we question ourselves, we have to put up with other people questioning (and even accusing) us.

It helps me to remember that whether we homeschool or public school, the adolescent angst would happen.  Fluctuating hormones, cultural expectations, and changing roles aren't avoided by sending your kid off to school, or by homeschooling.  Luckily Lego Kid is my second child.  Bit Boy paved the way for him.  (I tell poor Bit Boy the he's my "experimental child" - I'm learning on him, and doing better with his brothers because of it.)   I've been through this before, the intense emotion, the conflicting desires, the search for something different, I can remember that all of this is to be expected.   It doesn't make it easier in the moment, but it does help with my perspective.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fine, thanks.

"How are you?" 

It seems like a harmless enough question. 

We ask each other that everyday.  Yet how many people really want to hear the answer?  If the person asking lives in your house, the true, heartfelt answer could be appreciated.  If the question is asked on the street or grocery store the correct answer is "Fine, thanks.  And you?"  Period. 

But what if the person asking is a friend, while you're in a public place?  And what if the friend presses for a real answer?  Do you tell her?  Those are harder questions than you might think. 

Here's the deal - if you tell someone how you really are, they may not be able to hear it.  They might try to change your mind, or at least your answer.  That feels pretty invalidating. 

So, unless you're willing and able to hear the real answer, and to accept it, without challenging the other person, don't press for more than "Fine, thanks.  And you?"  What you're really saying is "I'm glad to see you, let's exchange the socially correct greetings.", which is a lovely thing to say and do.  It's fine, really.  You don't have to press for more, especially if you can't take the answer.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

July Books

The Girls of Room 28, by Hannelore Brenner
Last Words, by George Carlin
Children of Green Knowe, by Lucy M. Boston
Under the Overpass, by Mike Yankoski
The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross
Nomad, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali



The Children of Green Knowe was a great find.  A friend recommended the movie "From Time to Time" which I very much enjoyed.  When I discovered that it was based on a book series I had to check it out.  Now we're slowly enjoying the whole series.

Under the Over Pass was a refreshing view of Christianity at work.

Nomad was enlightening, if somewhat worrying as well.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Randomness

It's been a weird unsettling day.

We rushed to the car to go home tonight from an interrupted outdoor performance of "Midsummer's Night's Dream" which, until that point, had been excellent.  It was interrupted by a sudden rain and thunderstorm.  As we drove home I felt like I was in a video game, literally dodging fallen trees, barely able to see through the windshield.  It somehow felt like a fitting end to the day.

I'm tired.  Bone tired.  This morning Bit Boy and Hot Dog  were joined by a neighboring teen and they all helped me clear a side yard that had been ignored for the last two years.  We got it nearly all done in just two hours, and it was good hard work. 

I needed it.  When I'm troubled I need to move, work hard, and wear my body out.  I've been struggling to keep my chemo brain functioning, on track.  It's so hard for me to manage things that were trivial before.  I make lists, tuck notes in places where I'm sure to find them, but still, I miss things.  It felt good to have something concrete to do, and to get done even a small bit of work that piled up during my lost year.

It was good to focus on something outside my head.

Yesterday a good friend let me know her nephew had died.   What words do you give to a family who have lost a young life too soon?

Today another friend posted about the death of a friend's 15 year old.  A parent shouldn't have to bury their child, yet I know of too many who have. 

What does it mean, that a child dies?
And the rest of the world goes on?  

When something awful happens, a life changing diagnosis,  the death of a loved one, time stops.  There is a bubble of unrealness that surrounds that moment and separates it from everything else.  It's disorienting to look around notice that other people aren't noticing how, now, in this moment, everything has changed.  My heart breaks for those in the silent bubble of that isolation of loss and shock.
 
Today I went on.   I don't always know why I go on, but I'm glad  I can. 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

In the eye of the beholder, or in the heart of the creator?

I have a confession to make.

I've been feeling sad that my oldest (almost 15 y.o.) seemed to have given up his art.  He used to draw all the time.  (Pretty good stuff too.  I'm totally not biased.)  He rarely puts pencil to paper these days.  These days he spend most of his free time on the computer.  I have to admit I am one of those moms who roll their eyes and wonder what will become of this generation of computer addicted kids.  (Writes me, from my lap top.  I know.  I know.)  The point is, I was sad because I though the computer was taking up time he could spend making "real" things.

But look:





Bit Boy "modeled" this using Blender a while back.

And last week he did this tea set:












And this self portrait, using a drawing pad (last year's Santa present), and GIMP.



 And then today this:














Which is the nicest Mother's Day card I could get, for, oh, so many reasons.



Monday, May 6, 2013

April's Books


What a month.  Someday I may write more about it.

So book wise:

I am almost in love.  If I wasn't already happily married, with three wonderful children, and sterile, I would totally hunt down Sherman Alexie and make sure his genes were passed on. 
The lucky man is safe from me for above reasons. 
Also, I have no idea how to find him.

Terry Pratchett is brilliant, and I can't believe I didn't really discover him, or at least appreciate him, until last year. 

Let's Pretend This Never Happened was so funny it took me weeks to read it because it made me laugh too much.  Seriously.  People kept asking me "What?!?" and then I'd have to read the whole chapter out loud.  And they'd laugh.  And take my book.  Bastards.  (Well, not technically, since, oh, never mind)

The Ten Things to do book was (apparently) completely forgetable.

Leaning into Sharp Points was brilliant in an entirely different way than Terry Pratchett and Jenny Lawson.  I starting reading this expecting to have my father-in-law moving in with us.  He died, but by then I was half way through the book.  It was well worth finishing.  I learned a lot about living in this book about dying.

Now I am in need of more seriously funny or brilliant books.  Give me your suggestions.  (Not the books.  I love you and don't want you to spend your money on me.  Although, a HUGE thank you goes out to Shawn for the Jenny Lawson book, which was hand delivered to my door on a hard day.  I didn't know it, but I totally needed that.  :-) )

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Not ... Enough

Have you ever noticed that if you don't do something the "right" way, the socially accepted way, that then it's all your fault?

Yesterday I discovered Black Girl Dangerous, a fantastic blog that describes itself as " a literary and activist forum that amplifies the voices of queer and trans* people of color."  Yes, it's angry, it can be extreme, especially the current post, but, it also makes some excellent points, and can be beautiful to the point of bringing me to tears.  I got carried away and linked a lot (3?) of the posts on my facebook page. 

I was saddened to see the comments that a couple of friends made on my links to her posts.  Mostly along the lines of "I can't read her" -  she's too angry, full of loathing, negative, not productive....
It could be summed up in this remark: " Really, it doesn't take any more effort to look around and see the positive. But then one can't continue to call oneself a victim."

It's being a victim to express your feelings?  To name the injustice you've seen and experienced?  When you've been abused and mistreated, when you've seen others in the same situation, you shouldn't be angry and speak out, you should just "look around and see the positive"?

I felt personally invalidated by their opinion on BGD posts.  It's taken me a while to understand why I was so hurt by this, why I was well and truly triggered.  Here it is- what I heard these people say was "She's not doing it right."  I heard them say that there is a proper way to be a marginalized minority, there is a proper way to express the feelings you have about how you have been treated, and this isn't it.

It's something I've heard and experienced again and again in my life.

When I spoke out as a young adult about being molested and abused as a child I was invalidated - told it didn't happen, told it wasn't so bad, told I was rude to talk about it, besides "You lived, right?".  Because surviving was evidence enough that it couldn't be that bad?

Now as an adult I'm not recovering from cancer treatment right either, I'm constantly asked "How are you?  When are you coming back to ...?"  No one wants to hear anything but "Fine." and "Soon."  No one (including me!) wants to hear the litany of ailments cancer treatment has left me with, or that my life will not be returning to what it was any time soon, maybe not anytime at all.  I just need to "look around and see the positive."  To do otherwise indicates that I'm ungrateful for my life and all my blessings.  I lived, right?  Shouldn't I just shut up and be grateful to be alive?

I was taught to be a good little girl.  Keep quiet.  Keep the family secrets.  Be polite.  Suck it up.  Put on a good face.  Time and again, when I have bucked those lessons, I've been reprimanded and shamed, and that's what I heard in the facebook responses to my links to BGD's posts.  You are not ____ enough.  Not polite enough, not good enough, not white enough, not brown enough,not sick enough, not healthy enough, not grateful enough... 
You Are Not Enough.

I don't think they meant it that way.  They certainly didn't mean it towards me.  Knowing these people IRL, I suspect that it really is just that they have enough on their plate without having the pain of another thrown in their face.  I know it's hard to face the harsh reality that so many other people have to live with, especially when our own feels like more than we can take.  I can only take so much too. I turn off NPR and turn on my MP3 player to avoid having to listen to one more report of another bombing, another war, another rape victim.

Just because I can't take it, it doesn't go away.  It's my right to not listen when I can't take anymore.  But even more so, it's the victims right to speak their truth, in any way they need to.

Yes, it's good to survive.  Some times it makes us stronger, but the unfortunate fact is to be a survivor, first we had to be a victim.  It's not a crime to be a victim, it's not a crime to wish it never happened and to rail against the powers that be that allowed it to happen.  It's right and just that we speak out when we can, however we can.  The world needs our truth. 

The world needs everyone's truth - even if the truth is ugly.

How else can we know we need to work to make things better?


Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax Day / Snow Day

Remember that nice weather in January?  When the kids were out in their shirt sleeves playing in the sand box?

Well, here is today:





This is what happens when you live in Colorado.  You can golf in January, and go sledding in April. There is at least 5 inches and it's still coming down steadily.  Up to 8 inches is predicted over night tonight.  I had a long list of errands that really had to get done today, but Mother Nature had other plans. 

Time to bake some bread!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Welcome Home?

We've been home just over a month.
Can I just tell you how hard this last month or so has been?  H-A-R-D. 

I have been working, really working, to hold it all together.  I've tried not to be a whiner.  But it's time to just let it all hang out.  I'm going to list why this has been such a challenging time. 
You may not tell me I'm a whiner, you can just shut up and read. 
Or, click away from here, 'cause it ain't pretty.
You've been warned.

About 5 weeks into our trip Fire Lord got a call from a co-worker asking if he could borrow those clamps they'd talked about.  Fire Lord was game, but had to explain that we were, like, out of the country, on a boat, on, you know, the ocean, so the fellow would have to work it out with our house sitter.  With that settled the co-worker said something like "Well, I think you should be ok, I saw your name on an org chart, so you probably still have a job."
He didn't say this like it was a joke.  Turns out there was a lot of layoffs reorganization in Fire Lord's lab while we were gone.  By "reorganization" you can read the entire project was canceled and everyone redeployed or released from employment.  Luckily his supervisor was responsive to his rather alarmed humorous voice mail, and assured him that a job was waiting for him when he got back.

Just a week and a half before we came home we learned that my FIL's best friend had died.  She had been like a grandma to our boys, joining us for Sunday dinner and family holidays.  We got home on a Sunday, and attended her funeral the very next day.

We spent that first week home catching up on laundry and sleep, and spending some time with my SIL who had been staying with my FIL.  It was during this week that we agreed that my FIL would be moving in with us with in the next month.

The next week Firelord learned that the plum new job he had waiting for him was as a tech lead in field he hadn't worked in for 20 years.  Talk about a steep learning curve!

The rest of us stumbled around trying, without much success, to get back into our normal routine.  I had a series of medical appointments to go to, dealing with the after effects of cancer treatment and trying to tease out those symptoms from other issues.  It was spring break for our local schools so some of our regular lessons had been canceled, friends were out of town, and we just weren't getting much of anywhere.  Little did we realize that this week would be about as good as it gets for a while.

We learned on Thur. 3/28 that Fire Lord's father had died the day before.  We'd had him to Sunday dinner just a few days earlier, (like we did pretty much every Sunday).    He was 93, but we really truly believed that he would be with us another few years.  He'd been to the doctors for a check up just a couple weeks prior and the doc had said that he had the health of a man 10 or 15 years younger than he was.  We thought he'd move in with us this month.  As much as the death of a 93 year old can be unexpected, this was unexpected.

I have no words to tell you how this hit us, how shocked, surprised, sad, and guilty we felt.  The "if only"s came on hard and fast.  "If only we'd convinced him to move in with us sooner."  "If only he'd moved into a home" "If  only we'd stopped by to check on him more often" "If only he hadn't been alone"  So many "if only's".   The coroner's findings indicated that it was quick, and that there was nothing anyone could have done, even if they had been right there.  That doesn't seem to get rid of the "if only"s though.  There is little logic in emotion.

That weekend, while we planed my FIL's funeral, family started coming in.  Easter Sunday came, and Lego Kid's birthday came.  The week of the funeral one SIL and another BIL also had a birthday.  We had 14 people sleeping under our roof, plus more family put up in town.  It was amazing and wonderful to see the family again.  I loved that we got to have the little kids at our house.  But it was also crazy.  Anyone who has had a loved one die knows that feeling a funeral brings - feelings of family reunion and love, and sadness and loss.  It's crazy, and it's exhausting.

It's been a week now since the last of the family left town.  It seems like both more and less time.  Nothing is really settled yet.  Fire Lord has not only a new job to learn, but has to settle up his father's estate, and cover for me while I take care of medical stuff.  My kids lost their closest grandparents within a month of each other and we haven't settled into our homeschool rhythm.

It's just hard.  I know we'll get through this, we have wonderful friends here, and I do honestly have some of the best in-laws on the planet.  I know it could be so much worse.  But we are so very weary. 

Welcome home indeed.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wishing for Grace

I find Christianity so very appealing.

I know now, today, why.

Today I am feeling so very guilty.  I want that lifted.  I want to take it back.  I want a do over.

Tonight Hot Dog pulled some attitude on me.  It's not new, it's been growing, especially recently.  This has been a hard week.  This last year has been hell.  He has not been getting the attention and direction he needs from his mom.  I fell down on the job.  Now it is a challenge to get us back to where we need to be.  It's hard on both of us.

So, when he pulled his attitude, I ignored it and kept on reading the story I started.  When I wouldn't do what he wanted he said "Then I might as well not have a story".  I told him I was sorry he felt that way.  I put away the book, moving on to the next bit of our bedtime ritual. He was beside himself.  "I take it back.  I'm sorry!"  I accepted his apology and told him we'd do better tomorrow, but that there would be no more story tonight.  "This can't be happening.  This is just a bad dream!"  He was frantic, bargaining with me, promising me everything he could think of to get what he wanted.  I know the feeling.  I wish I didn't.

I know that he wasn't really talking about the loss of his story this one night.  I think it was about the loss of his grandpa last week.  I think it was about his mom having cancer and cancer treatment last year.  It was about all the awful things that have happened that we can't take back, that we can't undo.

That's a very human feeling.  I wish I'd never had it.  I wish you hadn't, but I bet you have.  There are moments when you realize that something has changed, changed forever, and there is not. one. thing. you can do about it.  That moment when your innocence is stolen, you parents divorce, a parent dies, violence damages your body and spirit, a friend dies, illness forever changes your health, a child dies ...  Even worse are those moments you cause yourself, doing something that can not be undone, saying something you can never unsay, or worse, not saying what was in your heart, and then it's too late.

In those moments I've said "NO.  This is not happening.  This is just a bad dream.  I take it back.  I'm sorry.  I'll do anything.  Fix it! Change it back."

But it can't change back.  It never can.  It will never be the same.  There are somethings we can't change.  No amount of sorry or begging will fix it.

That's when I long for Christianity.  I long for forgiveness and Grace.  I can see the appeal of someone paying my penitence with the kind of pain I know I deserve.  I feel the desire for a way out, a path towards redemption.  I want to feel secure that it will all somehow, somewhere, sometime, work out and be better.

I've had a Jesuit priest tell me I'm a Christian, and a Baptist minister tell me I'm not.
I don't really care if I am a Christian or not.  I honestly don't think that if there is a god(dess) s/he will care what color my religion is or isn't.
I'll tell you what I do believe.

I believe that we don't get a do-over in this life.   We get one life, to live each day.  At the end we get our death.  The value of our life will be decided by the love we've given away and those who are able to pass it on.  If we want it to be better, we have to keep trying, in the here and now, to make it so.
We are human.  We will fail, but we must keep trying anyway.

I held Hot Dog while he cried.  I told him I loved him. We talked and I rocked him to sleep.  I did not read him his story.  I feel awful about that.  Yet, as a parent I know, he needs to learn -sometimes sorry can't fix it.  It's important to do our best to not have to be sorry.

When we are sorry, when it can't be fixed, it's good to have a shoulder to cry on and to know we are loved - human and fallible, and loved.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's a Bill and Ted Day

There are days when each and every wound you ever received is on the surface, raw and tender, waiting to bleed all over again.  These days are a reminder to be kind.  Show compassion.  Practice patience.

That woman yelling at her screaming child in the check out line?  Maybe she had to decide whether to buy groceries today or pay the doctor.  Give her an understanding smile.  If you're up to it, offer to help her get her groceries to the car.

The perfectly healthy looking guy who's walking away from the handicap parking spot?  He might have one of those insidious hidden illnesses.  This may be his first outing this week, and it will take him 2 days of rest to recover from it.

The person who pushed in front of you at the express lane, but has more than 15 items in his cart?  Maybe he's getting last minute supplies for his father's wake.  He didn't even see you moving towards the same line.  What he sees now is the last time he saw his dad and how he wished he'd told him more often how much he loved him.

The woman who's late for work, again, even though she knows the big project is due tomorrow?  Maybe her asthmatic child has another respiratory infection.  She's frantically calling to find child care while she works from home on her computer.

It's a hard world out there folks.  You know it is because you live in it too.  I know people can be assholes to each other.  I know I have been.  But usually there's a reason, even if we're not ready to share it.

So, today, I'm going to try to remember that everyone is hurting.  We all have our own pains and sorrows.
Sometimes those pains are obvious and people give you hugs and casseroles.
Most times those pains are invisible and people just try not to strangle each other.

Just for today:

Be Excellent to Each Other.

Friday, March 29, 2013

January, February, and March Books


I'm pretty sure I read a bit more than this in the last three months, but for the life of me can't think of what else right now.

Just for future reference: Happy for No Reason isn't so much of a book, it's more of a publicity.   

Watership Down is as good the 10th time around as the 1st.
And Isaac Asimov is always worth reading.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gone Sailing

Nope.  I haven't been posting much.  Nothing here, and not even too much over on A Roving We Will Go





All is well, we've just gone sailing.  :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wild Colorado in our backyard...

Look who came to visit Monday.   Lego Kid and Hot Dog came running up to me to tell me something had hit a window.  They thought that it was a bird that had been chased.  I rushed over to see a starling hiding under a chair on our deck.  When it recovered from it's collision it flew off.  It got only 20 feet feet before this beauty swooped in and got it.  We felt sorry for the starling, but happy for the ...pretty sure it's a merlin.

I wonder if it's the same one we saw haunting our bird feeders last Friday.   Bird feeders..... I guess of more kinds of birds than we expected.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A January Day

I love Colorado.  We are having one of those winter days that feels like spring.  The sun is shining, it is well over 50 degrees (F) out.  I am loving my home, and feeling loath to leave it.

I should be cleaning and packing for our trip.  Instead I'm lollygagging.  I was showing the boys home movies of other trips, because they asked what it would be like, when Hot Dog checked the mail.  There was a package!  Open it!  Is it for me?

It was an order of magnetic wands.  I'd hoped they'd get here before we left so we could bring them on the trip with us.  In addition to all the cool things you can do with a magnet, they're fun to use in sand so as to see if / how much iron is in the sand.

Instantly their interest in the videos was gone.  Hot Dog and Lego Kid rushed out to the sand box to see how magnetic that sand was.   They're collecting the iron bits in tubs to play with.




I hate spending money, but this is what money is for.  It makes my mama heart happy to see them outside playing, experimenting, and getting dirty.  :-)










I got a deal, and it came 6 to the package.  I'd like to share this good day with you.  I will mail or deliver one of these wands (probably pink or orange) to the first person to comment on this post.

Happy New Year!


Moving right along

This is a new year.  (Thank goodness, good riddance to 2012)  It's also the start of a new adventure for us.  Firelord gets a sabbatical this year.  We are using it to live aboard a sail boat in the Virgin Islands for 6 weeks.  Woot! 

For you, dear reader, that means I may be posting less.  Internet on a sailboat is likely to be spotty.  Also, I may be communing with the fish, or fishing boys out of the ocean.  That said, if you want to keep up with us, I'm blogging about our sailing adventures here, at A Roving We Will Go

I could have posted here, at blatherings and bothering, I guess.  But somehow our sailing felt unique enough to merit it's own space.  I may still post here about our trip, as it relates to books, homeschooling or politics, or whatever else I can't shut up about.  The other blog will be to keep our friends and family up on our adventures, to share them with others who might care, and, perhaps most importantly, for us as time goes by.

Wish us safe travels!

May the wind bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.

(misquoting Tolkien)