Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Out of Candlelight

I am trying to figure out how to be the adult child of a mentally ill parent. Until tonight, I think I believed it was a lie. If he could just snap out of it. If he could just be the good person I know he is. In my mind, he is the top- level administrator at a major organization. He goes on active duty, arming himself with skills to defend our nation. He teaches, he strives, he aspires. The Great Books collection grows. He carries my school books through the halls on his fingers tipped in leather gloves, black wool coat flowing, inspiring the rumor that I am a 'rich kid'.

I feel so poor tonight.

Dads are not supposed to do this. Dads are supposed to be the rock when we need to crumble, the sense when we are senseless. They are supposed to tell us when we are wrong, not the other way around. Dads are supposed to cheer at our swim meets, move us out of college, walk us down the aisle.

He did do that, actually. He walked me down the aisle four days after I checked him out of the psychiatric unit. I'm glad he was there. It is almost my favorite picture of the two of us. My favorite is one of me, as an infant, sleeping on his chest. It is a dark photo, but you can still see the smile, the security, that seeps forward.

It is dark tonight. It is dark in my heart, and dark in my soul. He is gone- or, perhaps, he was never there. Was he? That is what I need to know. Those signs of his illness, almost imperceptible, were real. How can my hero and my sadness exist in the same person? They do, they do.

So tonight I sit. I watch the flames, hear the silence, miss my father. I miss the notion of who I thought he was, and who he has fought against being. Part of the sadness is knowing he, too,  misses who he thought he was. He thought he was a father. He is, but now we must care for him. How do we do that and let him keep that dignity?

I wait, I watch. Perhaps the answer will come out of the candlelight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Devil in the Screen

Have you seen him? He's there. I keep trying to get a glimpse of him, but I never seem to catch him. Well, not until his damage is done, that is.

It all starts innocently enough. Mama has dishes and laundry to do, the boys beg for a movie or some such passive, screen- oriented entertainment, and I cave. That's when he gets us. That sneaky devil oozes out through the flickering images in front of my children's eyes and turns them into little demons who cannot manage their behavior, speech, or emotions. They can't be nice and they can't find anything constructive to do with themselves for the remainder of the day.

Darn that devil.

I'm not really serious. I mean, I don't really think that the devil resides within my television. I do, however, notice a marked difference in my kids after they've had any amount of screen- type entertainment. They do become whiny, argumentative, unimaginative, and...well...kind of mean! I notice this pattern the most when they have watched anything with any form of violence or aggression, although not only when they have done so. It is the norm for them to finish a movie and then walk around, allowing the walls to hold them up while saying, "I have nothing to do!"

This week I decided to change their alloted 'screen time' to the evening. The amount of screen time didn't change, but the time of day when they could use it did. It was a bit awkward at first, but then this beautiful thing happened: they played. They played creatively and physically and intensely and, for the most part, kindly. They played so deeply that they- and I- forgot about 'screen time' several of those days. Not that we suddenly had some utopia of creative sibling playtime, but we did have something far better than whiny, bored, irritated children.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. If you spot the devil in your screen, leave me a little comment below. Better yet, grab him and throw him right out of your house.

hugs and love,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week's End- March 17, 2012

This weekend was my scheduled time to do our school progress check- in. I have this scheduled three times a year, and have.....

*Wait, before I go further, I must post a disclaimer. Mama's dependent upon organization. I have charts for my charts, forms for my forms, and a pie graph depicting what percent of my organization is in forms, charts, graphs, or 'other'. This post is a reflection of that. *

....forms made up so I can simply fill in the blank and answer the questions I have laid out for myself. (Gracious, that sounds obnoxious.)

Saturday, I sat down to do our weekly planning and progress check in. I do the check in quarterly. Frankly, I am just tickled. We are on track to be finished with our basics by the end of July. Dante will finish his K work at the end of April and move to G1 work. He is a bit behind in reading. No, I take that back. If he were in the public school system as it exists currently, he would be "behind" in reading. If he were in the public school system when I was in it, he would be ahead and would be playing and napping in Kindergarten. Which is what he does at home, and is what he needs to do. The point is that he's doing well.

Alli is doing quite well, also. I think she is needing some more 'friends time' than she is getting. We took the winter off of all co-op type activities. While she has still have several other activities regularly, she seems to need more. She is a very social creature, unlike her brother who could stay in his room with his legos indefinitely. Thankfully, we start the spring session of co-op in Greenville in about three weeks. We all will benefit from this. It was good to take the time off, but it will be great to get back!

I had hoped we would finish by the end of July as we anticipate moving in August. We will take all of the move time off, used as a summer break. Reading and math review will still happen in the evenings. This helps to keep the rhythm and routine going.

It was incredibly satisfying to fill in my progress sheet, hole punch it, and file it away in the 2011-2012 binder. I love that I have the information in an easy access spot, and can reference it for lesson planning.

Wishing everyone an organized homeschool,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wait- What Am I?

Below are some thoughts I had after my husband referred to me as 'prudish'. I realized that as a progressive, he sees me as prudish, while a conservative would see me (on the surface) as....well, just a conservative. I've decided that I'd vastly prefer a different label. How about Traditional Progressive? Hmm, no that doesn't work. Stuffy Progressive? Amish Progressive? Appropriate Progressive? I'm getting nowhere. You decide. What am I?

I like 'family values'. I like unconditional love, healthy relationships, and time spent together in meaningful and fun ways. I believe it takes two parents to raise children, and that, generally speaking, the family unit functions better when one parent is a homemaker. But I don't at all care what a family is made of. Two dads are just fine. I also think the decision about which spouse is the homemaking parent ought to be based on strengths and available resources, not gender.

I think homeschooling is a wonderful way to preserve the family unit and childhood. I believe it affords a unique opportunity to nurture our children's souls, minds, and future. But I do not hate public school, and I think the teachers are doing the best they can in a very challenging system.

With the exception of abuse, which can take many forms, I am opposed to divorce. I think marriage is sacred and a whole lot of hard work. I believe this applies to life partner situations as well. I think it matters much more that there is commitment, monogamy, and love than marriage as defined by 'one man and one woman', or marriage defined by the law.

I dislike what I believe birth control has done to our society's view of sex and life. But I support the existence of Planned Parenthood, and recognize that doing away with birth control is unrealistic and often detrimental.

I am embarrassed by most Victoria's Secret ads, and feel uncomfortable when I hear the lyrics of many secular songs. I value modesty of body and spirit. There is no 'but' here.

I want social programs such as food stamps, WIC, and a national health care plan to exist. But I want them to have a cost for recipients. I don't mean a financial cost necessarily, and I have no idea how to make that applicable on a large scale.( There probably isn't a way as it would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis). I just mean that if I am receiving $400 a month in food stamps, I am also doing something to warrant that expenditure.

I love wearing skirts and appreciate the chapel veil, but the only meaning they have is the one I give them. With skirts I feel pretty, with veiling, an increased focus on prayer.

I love my faith. I am a content Catholic. But I can't say I am 100% faithful to the Magisterium. 99.8% perhaps. I believe that 100% equals blind obedience. For a faith still reeling from a decades- long sex scandal, I would hope that more of the faithful would reserve that .2%.

Thanks for reading. I'm looking forward to your suggestions. Mama needs a new label. Prudish need not apply.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Week's End

What do I say about school this week? That it was sub- par? That at least we read ALOT of books to our children (because we accomplished approximately nothing else)? That playtime predominated and they were introduced to vintage television, aka Green Acres? All of that would be true. Yes, we did the very basic work. We managed five days' worth of math, phonics practice, and handwriting. To make myself feel better, I like to remember that the public schooled children had a day off for President's Day and then a snow day today. And we didn't. What all of this really comes down to is that we are in the Yearly Seasonal Homeschooler's Funk. That title sounds like a fun, quirky game day or dance. It isn't. It is the time of year when homeschoolers feel blah, run down, unenthused, drifting, spent....none of which are good things.

This is where we are. But so are most other homeschoolers. It can be an appropriate time for a conference or to abandon the curriculum for awhile and explore an interest in depth. It can be an even better time to sit in a friend's living room with a bowl of popcorn while the children, dressed as butterflies and batmen, run free. Regardless of how one approaches the Yearly Seasonal Homeschooler's Funk, it is most important to keep in mind that it is normal and it will pass. The sun will soon peak out a bit more, the trees will bud, the days will warm. Homeschoolers will venture out to enjoy the spring, and in so doing will find the life returned to their learning.

Truly, this is not far off. By the end of next month we will see the hints of Spring. It is in this knowldge that I think we'll enjoy the remainder of our hibernation. There are so many great library books begging to be read, several interests we'd like to explore further. If all that should fail, we have a love of vintage television festering. Besides, as Alli said prior to bed, "Green Acres could be the place to be".

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome, 2012

Since our Christmas celebrations were re- scheduled this year, I didn't have the usual mental break between Christams and New Year's. While I've never been one to make specific resolutions, I often have general objectives for the new year. This morning, sitting in the dark in our living room, gazing at the un- lit Christmas tree, I have found myself whispering hello to the new year. I am ready to take the Christmas decorations down, to return the tree to the outdoors, and to move forward.

But into what? In years past, I have conciously decided what I would like to bring in the new year. There was no concious decision this year, rather the year whispered to me, 'It is time'.

It is time to do some thigns that seem a bit trite in the grand scheme of things, but I now see as critical. It is time to return to running like I used to. Also, I admit, to lifting weights. (I care very little for this!) It is time to embrace austerity and a marathon of savings. We need an emergency fund, a down payment, and to whittle away at our student debt. It is time for me to nurture my creativity. I need to write, draw, learn photography and learn how to sew. I also need to find some small way to be in service to others outside of my family. For me, this is a spiritual neccessity. These are critical because my body, family, and soul cannot go on without them. I'll probably blog here about everything except our financial journey. That will be chronicled at http://www.lilalittlecents.blogspot.com/.

So today I am going to put last year away, go for a walk, and ponder how to work those objectives into everyday life. Blessings to you and yours in 2012.