Saturday, December 25, 2010

Grandpa's Gone

At 11:15 today, Grandpa died. He was comfortable. He was not alone. Perhaps he needed to leave his home to let go; my mom and aunt had moved him to hospice yesterday. They had decided to have one last Christmas Eve together and then do the move the next day. He had to be transported by ambulance- he was too weak. I had talked to both my mom and my aunt and had planned to go up to Traverse on Monday, though wasn't sure what I'd do with the kids. I knew I had to get there. I knew it felt urgent. At some level, I think I knew today was his last day. I'm sorry I didn't get there to see him, for him to hear me, to sit by his bed in the silence and be with him. The other day, when I mailed our Christams card, I wondered who would open it if he couldn't.
It is not just saying goodbye to Grandpa, it is saying goodbye to the house, which will be sold before long. That house is 24 years of memories. Countless memories. Coffee on the 'coffee deck', playing dolls in the basement, tennis, petosky stones, the fountain, the gardens, walks on Nanagosa Trail, Suttons Bay, Boones', Bailey's, playing on the beach in front of the house, all the wonderful books, falling asleep downstairs in the twin beds, me in one, Jen in the other, sand in my toes, building the fort in the woods, cherries, garden walks, visting neighbors, Christmas with the whole family and gifts that went on for two days, and Grandma. The whole house was Grandma and Grandpa, and walking in it always felt like being hugged. It was everything solid, warm, gentile, and lovely. She died six years ago, but the house still had the effect of walking into Grandma's arms.
I guess I need to walk into her arms one more time. I need to feel the presence of the love that always was the house, to revisit all the memories. I need to see where her pad of paper was by the phone, to smell the Dial soap in the bathroom, to see her cook books, to see Grandpa's desk, his workshop, the porch, the dining room table, the twin beds, the beach. I need to see it all, to feel it a final time, to say goodbye, and to let it all go. Goodbye Grandpa, Goodbye Grandma, Goodbye Uncle Todd. I love you all so very much. Thank you for your love and for the family you built. You will always be in my heart and I'll share you with the hearts of my children. I love you, peace be with you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipe of a Day

Bake three loaves of bread, a dozen mufiins, and Crazy Cake. Then make hummus, smoked white bean spread, crock pot pork, garlicky brussels sprouts, and baked potatoes. Use the assistance of your two- year- old. Add a little handwriting, math, and geography for your five and six- year- old. After taking turns kneading the bread, note that your children are well- floured and then toss them in the bath. Rinse children thouroughly, apply clean jammies, and cuddle up for read alouds. Bon Appetite...:)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frazzled, Worn Out Me

Today is one of those days when I repeatedly catch myself thinking, "I can't do this.", "I hate this.", "Everyone needs to shut up", and "Why bother cleaning up the milk again?". It is a day where my personal space is not the standard three feet, but three hundred feet. It is a day when the one crumb that has fallen on the just-swept floor appears to be three loaves of bread and the sweet singing of my six year old roars in my ears. It is a day where I have sincerely considered hiding in my closet.

In other words, I am overwhelmed. Not by what I have to do, or how many children I have, but because I am out of balance. One part of my life has overwhelmed the others. My 'Mommy' self has smothered my other selves. There has not been time dedicated to the nourishment of all of who I am, and this has been compounded by lack of rest time. As a family we have had too much variation in our days and no real weekends to rest. We have skipped quiet time, rearranged school too much, and generally not adhered to our schedule. I have had about two straight weeks where I've not been alone at all. I suppose I was for a second when I attempted to hide and check e-mail, but this is not a restorative, re-fuel- the- soul kind of alone.

So how do I restore the balance? I think it starts with what I am desperately craving, and that is time alone. I would love one hour of quiet solitude. Just to reflect. And sit. And do nothing. Time like that does so much for me. I often find afterward that I have a whole new perspective, feel totally renewed, and have solved problems without even trying. It's funny because having that time is something that I had thought would just sort of 'happen'. Of course, it does not. I mean really, does anything other than play, love, and a mess just happen when you have children? No. Not in my world at least. I guess alone time has to be planned, put on the calendar, and made a priority. Oh I have a whole list of other things I'd like to do to restore the balance: purge the junk in my home, clean the whole house, organize our photos, do any of the creative projects that hang out in my mind. But for now, alone time is a good start, and planning it is something I can do. And that is certainly preferable to moving into my closet.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On Change

While talking with B last night, we hit upon the issue of major changes in our life and the value of keeping things the same. This led me to spend an inordinate amount of time today thinking about how, exactly, to assess whether it is wise to make a major change. One thing that occurred to me is that the weight of major changes- weddings, babies, illnesses, new jobs, moving, school- is somewhat relative to the number of times one has previously experienced them. A first baby can seem more monumental than a third. We have moved four times in six years. Another move, provided it was for the benefit of our family, does not seem all that impressive. Many people move yearly due to job-related necessity. Perhaps that is the critical point. Maybe the wisdom of making a major change is dependant upon the potential benefit compared to the potential drawbacks. I suppose it also depends on how much and for how long the change would alter daily life. As my friend Heather said, "You guys have figured out the hard stuff. Now, wherever you go, you'll move your daily life with you." What she meant was since I am not working anymore, our daily life wouldn't be altered that much regardless of where we lived.

Another variable is the value one would assign to a given option. After six years of trying to have both of us working, we now value peace, stability, and time as a familiy far above the $589 dollars a month that I made. (this figure does not deduct what it cost for me to work)

We were talking about this because rolling around in that nutty little head of mine is an idea that I can't let go of. We have come so far in making improvements to our life. We have these wonderful children, B is working on his Master's degree, I am totally at peace with my role, we have made the (well-informed) decision to homeschool, and we are generally healthy. We are also poor. Our collective student loan debt is larger than many people's first mortgages...and it is growing by the month. B's calling was not toward engineering. Or medicine. Or accounting. It was for counselling, and that is fantastic, but not generally lucrative. In fact it is usually well below lucrative. Regardless, I am greatful for his opportunity and supportive of him. It is wonderful to watch him do something he feels good about. I would even dare to say he is passionate about counselling. BUT....someday I hope we can retire together. Some day sooner we will need a different vehicle. I would like to be able to buy shoes for the kids when they need them. I hear teenagers eat alot, and I'd like to be able to feed them. Where is all this headed? Well, the only solution I can come up with is to decrease our expenses more. And the only way I can see to do that is to move. Again. Into a teeny little house that is owned by a friend of ours.

The size of the hypothetical house is another post entirely, so for now I'll focus on the benefits of re-relocating. In other words, the benefits of moving back to whence we came. The first benefit is time. Teeny House is 1 mile from B's office. B is gone a lot between work and school and this will continue for at least two more years. If we were closer to his office he could at least come home for dinner a few times a week. If a position opens at his current place of employ, we'd likely end up living there anyway. If not, he will be there until at least the latter half of 2012. The second benefit is that I would once again have immediate (and free ) access to my beloved Rec Center. I run- well, not much recently, but it is one of my favorite things to do. I didn't think that decreasing my workouts would matter when we moved to our current house. As it turns out, running is essential for my health in addition to being a major stress reliever and mood booster. The third benefit is money. Teeny House- or a similar arrangement- would free up $500-$700 dollars a month which could then reduce our student loan debt. This could also reduce my stress :). Something else that is kind of nice is that we have a network of people there. Oh- and Teeny House has a dishwasher. Who is not me.

So what are the cons to this proposal from my view? Another move, although to a familiar area. Most likely giving up a lot of living space. Being farther from B's parents again. Having to get rid of a lot of stuff if we did move to a small home. That, if B were to find a miracle job elsewhere, we may have to move again in two to three years. Fortunately with homeschooling we could maintain continuity in that area.

Hmmm....the benefits list is longer than the drawbacks list. Where to go from here...?

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Idiocy

Oh the silly things people say. We have a number of people in our life who do not agree with our decision to homeschool. I respect their right to an opinion, but not when it is an uninformed one. Regardless, when I let myself cool down from the fumes of frustration, I find the comments kind of funny.
One of them was, "Dante is an agressive, active boy- he needs to be in school". Now if you are a fellow homeschooler and are reading this, you are already laughing. If you are not, let me explain; it is funny because this person was suggesting that my agressive, active son would benefit from the traditional school day where he would sit(in an active way?) at a desk. This same friend also said that school is good because he thinks kids should be free to be who they are and what they want to be. Uh- is that exactly? Oh that's right...because in school they would be free to learn at their own pace, to delve deeply into pyramids if their interests took them there, to alter their curriculum if their needs weren't being met by current methods, and to 'find themselves' as they would certainly be free from socially- constructed peer group expectations.

Yes, I am being sarcastic.

Another amusing comment was the concern about the ability of homeschoolers to solve problems. The specific examples of such problems were how to fill out a fundraiser form and what to do if bullied. They've got me on the fundraiser form; we won't be covering that this year. However, we purposely gave our children siblings because we were very concerned they have at least a reasonable amount of bullying on their transcripts. Finally, there was worry expressed over a homeschooler's ability to dress for work. "If they do math in their pajamas, how will they learn to get dressed for work?" I guess I'm just not sure about that. I do know that I went to college with almost all public schoolers...and we went to math in our pajamas.