30 April 2008

Revolution Money Exchange

I just wanted to point to my "Revolution Money Exchange" button on my sidebar once again. My bloggy friend Gayle wrote this review about how it worked for her. So far I have had two of you sign up. What have you got to lose? $25 for you just for signing up - and $10 for me for referring you. My friend Stephanie said that she was doing it to contribute to my "gas to West Virginia" fund, with of course one detour in Tennessee. What a terrific idea! It just might help me get there in May. Get your mouse over there and just click it!

Coercion, Manipulation and the Stuff of Fairy Tales

To have two hours to myself while Kullen has a rehearsal, Kendra is working and Kaitlyn opted to stay home in luxurious silence is almost too good to be true. Sitting here blogging at Barnes and Noble, surrounded by soothing music, gentle conversation, many great books, and the stimulating smell of freshly brewed coffee has given me a chance to think. I do this all the time, but seldom without following rabbit trails.
We continue to have situations even outside church where others through guilt and manipulation attempt to derive a specific outcome, behavior, or cooperation. Why can't people just live and let one another live in peace? I am faced with the stark reality that I too have often done these same dirty deeds.
It seems that we are all afraid of each other. We struggle to give one another the freedom to move. In religious circles it seems we often don't want others to do things that we don't allow ourselves to do or enjoy.
I try to picture Jesus with the personality that we often like to give to Him - "Come to me, or I'm not gonna give you this good thing here in my left pocket." "Blessed are those who washed their hands before supper." "Come to me all who are weary or heavy laden and I will tell you what ten things to do to get yourself out of this mess." I just can't picture Him that way, and so if we want to be increasingly becoming more and more like Him, why do we do this to each other?
It sounds so simple to ask what would Jesus do, and just a little different to try and live it out. I'm no theologian, but I definitely think we have lost our aim.

29 April 2008

My Bee-yoo-tees

Kendra 17, Kullen 10 and Kaitlyn 14
The kids had these formal pictures made a few weeks ago. When we got them back yesterday I couldn't have been more pleased. It was especially fun since I didn't see them taken. I loved the way he had them laid out and how they were taken outdoors in a natural setting.

Public Notice Regarding Comments

For future reference, anyone posting a comment without a way to comment back, will be subject to be deleted. This does not apply to people who know me in real life or for those who leave comments worth reading. For more information, I refer you to this post about Learning to Reject and Delete. If this is whining, get over it - this is my blog!

Co-op Dress Code and the Bible

Have I belabored this subject enough? It seems it is still not finished.
Yesterday at co-op we were asked to turn in surveys regarding the dress code. We had gotten a list stating that most moms at the co-op favored the stricter dress, but there was an anonymous list, assigning numbers to each mom and then articulating what their thoughts were on the dress code. This was a bit odd, as my friend Shannon and I both thought that we were Mom #4. I personally did not feel that any of the statements represented my thoughts fully. I don't believe anyone intentionally misrepresented what I said, however, my biggest issue at the time is that a discussion among the group for a greater understanding amongst us was still missing. The stuff of relationship building, fence-mending, peace making, and unity producing.
Can there be unity even when there is disagreement? I think there has to be.
Then in the afternoon one mom asked me if I was interested in looking at some verses that she pulled out of the Bible after feeling burdened by a conversation between several of us last week. I have to admit, I had seen this paper on the copier earlier in the day and felt an instant aversion to it, not that I am averse to the Bible, but to the way people use it to shove their viewpoints down one another's throats. I didn't know who it was that had compiled this list. I now know that the woman who did it approached it with the most loving heart and best intentions, so when she asked if I would like to read a copy, I did, gladly.
When I started to look up the verses in the Message, which I have just started to read again, they really spoke to me about a few things regarding this issue.
From Romans 14 -
v1. Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do, and don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with - even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
v2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell into criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
This was pretty profound. This is what has happened in our ranks that is so much bigger than how we dress or what we eat, but the pervasive critical spirit that seems to always be present in groups of women. I can say this with the confession that I have been a part of the problem more often than the solution.
More from Romans 14 -
v13-14. Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I'm convinced - Jesus convinced me! - that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, or course by the way we treat it or talk about it can contaminate it.
Think about this in terms of how we treat sexual behavior. My friend Dena could tell you that while Christians should have the most healthy sex lives, we have often allowed something God made to be holy and pure and for the edification of our marriages be contaminated by culture, and even our churches. It has been perverted.
Even more from Romans 14 -
v15. If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, (Julie's insertion: or what they wear or don't wear), you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember are persons for whom Christ died.
The survey that was sent out asked more questions about sleeve length, striped or not striped shirts, if open toed shoes should be permitted, or whether or not socks should match the clothing or could they be any color. It still missed the mark. The atmosphere of placing judgment on one another is only being strengthened by these things. I am learning through this about my own judgments - not so loud-mouthed or belligerent as they maybe were before but just lingering quietly in my spirit, in my heart as I interact with others.
Father put this to rest in me. Let me be a companion in love to all.

27 April 2008

UHSE Booksale

I met my terrific friend Leslie a few years ago when we both were new bloggers. She is just terrific. She has a blog called Journey to Simplicity where she focuses on simple living, thrifty living, and enriching family life. She shares all she's learned about organizing, price booking, stretching your grocery dollars, and on and on, but the best part is that she does it with so much heart!
Leslie is hosting a Ultimate Homeschool Expo sale. Even some ebooks by yours truly will be there including The Plan 2008 both Homeschooling and Unschooling Edition, and the Homeschool Co-op Planner. There are tons of resources for homeschoolers, but also a lot that my unschooling friends will find of great value - including books about frugal meals, menu planning and spring cleaning.
I am going to keep the button up on my sidebar for the duration of the sale, so feel free to click on over. Make sure you tell Leslie that Julie sent ya! No you won't get anything free for dropping my name, but my friend will know that I support all her hard work! Go Leslie!

The Hike

I love it when you have the perfect day - but you woke up not even expecting it. After the last couple of weeks around here, it was about time. We had planned yesterday to go down the road to one of our favorite trails and grill some hamburgers and hang out with the kids, but when we woke up, the sky looked a bit overcast like it would be pouring rain if we waited very long. So, we got the kids up and headed to the trail. The weather was perfect. There was nobody else, not another living soul on the trail.
Travis was so calm and fun to be with which made it for an especially good day. I can't remember the last time I liked his company so much. It is hard when you have hit a major rough patch to remember that this was a person that you liked at one time in your life. In fact you liked them enough to commit to spend the rest of your life with them, and have a couple of babies together. Well, today I remembered.
We walked a while, and then we sat in the middle of the Big Thicket and listened to birds. Later we looked at some carnivorous plants, animal tracks, wild ferns, etc. We talked about college and the revelation that my awesome, rockin' friend Stephanie helped Kendra with this weekend. (I'll share that in another post later this week.) We talked about dating, and how much Kullen is learning from his sisters that will pretty much make him the perfect catch when he gets older. We talked about astrology and the magnetism of the planets - actually Travis talked about this and we listened and asked questions.
After the hike we came home and grilled hamburgers on the front porch and sat out there and talked some more. Pretty much the perfect day in my opinion - at least as much as it could be without some of my best friends around me!

26 April 2008

Bubbleology - A Science Project

Kullen's science class has science projects due this week at co-op, and we have procrastinated working on his. They have to have it with a bent towards chemistry since that is the science focus for his age group this year. I will admit that science is my least favorite subjects, and chemistry is probably the least among the sciences. We looked together on Science Buddies and found something really fun to experiment with, BUBBLES!
We made three different types of bubble solutions - one using just detergent, the second one using detergent and gylcerine, and the third using detergent and corn syrup. The second step was to blow bubbles and see which ones were stronger by seeing how long they lasted. We did have to fight a bit of a breeze outside, but it seemed that the results were fairly consistent.
Now all he has to do is make a project board which his artsy-fartsy sister said she would help him with tomorrow.
In the fall the kids all had to do a history project. If you've been hanging out here at my blog for a while you might remember - he made a Salem Witch Trial cloth witch hanging from the gallows. We did not make a project board - in my opinion it was not necessary. When he was asked to present it to the class, he said, 'no thanks'. I don't know what his teacher thought of it, but I don't force my kids to do things like that. He did say however that he will present this one in front of his class. Maybe he thinks it is cool. Maybe it is just because he knows some of the kids better. I'll let you know how that goes.
Now he started to clean his hands off with the hose and this is where that headed - man I love that boy! Crazy thing. Three guesses as to what he is pretending that hose is???

25 April 2008

Emo-ther

My kids like to tease me when I get a bit dramatic and say that I'm being emo. Once I learned that it meant "emotional" it seemed well suited, and thus we created a fictional superhero character known as Emo-ther! I love to put the character on - I have dreams of a YouTube video feature....maybe one day.
I digress. What I really wanted to post about here was not the superhero crazy mom, but give you an update on our co-op dilemma regarding the dress code. The board took a survey to find out how people were feeling, and sent out a notice stating vaguely what Mom #1, Mom #2 and so forth felt about the decisions that was made. Most did overwhelmingly support the uniform dress code, according to the document that we were sent, but it is a little suspect in that a friend of mine and I both thought we were Mom #4, so I am not sure how well what each person has said was represented. Just the fact that a discussion hasn't been entered into with all parties still falls short to me. I think we're probably not going back.
Perhaps I'll write my first short feature of Emo-ther, fighting legalism with one hand tied behind my back while covering up a black little emo heart with a hot pink cape!

Food for Thought

My husband and I were talking today about the rising cost of living. It just seems to be getting more and more difficult to make ends meet. I was keenly aware of that fact today as I filled up my car for $63, and had to trade it later with Travis because I wanted him to drive it so he could try and determine why it is shaking. That left me with his truck which was on empty when we made the swap - so I filled it up, to the tune of $75. It is just overwhelming.
It is getting more and more expensive to buy groceries every week, causing me to have to be more and more creative with what I'm feeding my family which takes more time. Travis said he heard that economist are predicting a large jump on the price of food, oh goodie! The worst thing is that our income is unchanging. It seems the only thing that is static while everything else is fluctuating.
Then I got an email from my friend pointing me to this link. I have actually seen the book it references before called What the World Eats / Hungry Planet because it is by one of my favorite photojournalists, Peter Menzel who did two life-changing books called Material World and Women of the Material World. It helps me remember how blessed I am even when it seems difficult. It reminds me that people the world over are so joyful with so much less - and that maybe it is because they have so much less. I am going to choose to be thankful for this day, this bread, this moment, this smile, this conversation, this warm breeze. God is all over every one of these things. He may be doing the most wonderful thing in the midst of all that seems so discouraging. Sometimes I just need a good bonk on the head!
Thank you Father!

24 April 2008

A Brand New Day

This morning started out with a bang - one thing after the next. I made a grocery list, and decided to make homemade laundry detergent and fabric softener and see how I like it after hearing a friend say that it was only costing her around 7 cents a load. Woo hoo - I spent about as much money on all the stuff to make 3-4 five gallon buckets as I would have on the detergent alone. I am just hoping that I like it.
Here is a little tutorial with pictures of course:
The instructions say that you can use Ivory soap instead of Fels Naptha - and I had to since I couldn't find any. You grate the amount of soap you want - it said 1/3 for the Fels Naptha - but since I used Ivory and the bars are smaller -and I made a double batch, I used the whole bar. It is soft and grates very easy.
Put the shredded soap in with 6 cups of water. Remember I doubled it here so it looks like a lot more. This part was kinda fun. You heat the water only long enough to dissolve the soap, which was very quickly. I wasn't sure why it looked blue - because when it all dissolved it was a translucent white.
Add a 1/2 cup of this - which is one thing I was always confused about because there is Arm & Hammer baking soda in large boxes, and there is Arm & Hammer laundry detergent - but this is definitely what you need - called Super Washing Soda. In SE Texas they are stocking this at Brookshire Brothers stores. I haven't seen it anywhere else.
And 1/2 cup of that.... stirring until both powders dissolve.
Tomorrow when it is more gel like, I will take a picture of it in the great big bucket. I was able to find a 5 gallon bucket at Walmart for $4.44. That was pretty reasonable. That is one of the main reasons I hadn't made it before now was finding a bucket.
While I did this, the girls made homemade lip gloss - and it took on a nice pinkish red color - but it is very, very sour - and we can't figure out why - so we'll experiment with that a little more later. I'm not sure how to sweeten it without using artificial sweeteners. I thought maybe honey - but it would definitely change the consistency - which they really like. They have friends whose mom is a real homeopath, and they don't use any commercial make-up - but make their own. Kaitlyn has said she would really like to start making more of her own cosmetics. Imagine all she can learn. Just another day of unschooling.
AND on top of all the other hoopla today, I got three comments on this blog from my friend Kathie this morning, and it made me miss her so dang bad I had to do something "Kathie-ish" so I made strawberry freezer jam! Over the years Kathie introduced me to a lot of good food, and great recipes - but this is the first one I ever remember hearing about from her. She is such a neat lady - and I am so homesick, I would give just about anything to make freezer jam with her. Anyway - I got a little Kathie-fix without the Kathie. I also made homemade bread that came out of the oven about 20 minutes ago - and should be just about cool enough to cut - so I'm going for a little bread and jam! Hope your day was as productive as mine felt!

Oh yeah, and my friend Melody - I am so blessed to have met her. She evidently knows what a girls best friend is next to chocolate - and took me out for lunch today at Chili's - complete with some terrific margaritas! Ah! I really needed that. Thanks Mel!


Drop Those Dryer Sheets

I could not believe this! I was at the Grocery Cart Challenge checking out the awesome bloggy giveaway of the ingredients for homemade laundry detergent (isn't that Gayle clever?!?) and after copying down the recipe, I decided to research homemade fabric softener, and ended up reading about how dangerous the chemicals are that we are putting in our laundry and our children's laundry and putting right on our bodies every single day. It is freaking me out. The chemicals are linked to pancreatic cancer, nervous disorders, respiratory irritants (an asthmatic mama might have known!), some are neurotoxins and most are carcinogenic! Un-be-lievable. Your skin is an organ. If we have medication patches that we can stick on our skin to be absorbed into our bodies - we better be darn sure to know that what we have on our clothes goes on our bodies.
Sound the alarm! Call Scotland Yard!
In all seriousness - I can't even imagine using fabric softener ever again! And to think that last year we were rubbing the sheets all over our skin to keep bugs away. I think I'll take my chances with the mosquitoes thank you very much. This information applies to both the liquid fabric softeners AND the dryer sheets. I love my clothes to be soft and smell good, but this is terrifying. I have a friend who doubles the amount of liquid she puts in her wash! Ahhhck!

Here are some alternatives - which I haven't tried yet - but will shortly and blog about them.
1. 6 cups water + 3 cups white vinegar + 2 cups of hair conditioner
2. 2 balls of aluminum foil thrown into the dryer
3. dryer balls you can buy at the store
4. 24 drops of your favorite essential oil mixed with a jar of vinegar (didn't say what size jar)

If you prefer sheets to putting the liquid in your washer, some said they spray the liquid concoctions on a washcloth and throw that into their dryer.

I am going to definitely be looking into this and blogging about it. Neurotoxins? Petroleum based products against our skin all day everyday? Carcinogens? It occurred to me that perhaps they could just make liquid cancer, flavor it with grape Kool-aid and we could just all drink it straight down and get it over with???? I know I am being a bit dramatic - but this really upets me! Can you tell?

Some Thoughts on Waking

Why does my ability to sleep always exceed the capacity of my bladder?
Why does chocolate never last long enough?
Why is the distance to a new roll of toilet paper just out of arms reach?
Why are the most profound thoughts I ever have so fleeting?
Why do we always have to learn the most painful lessons the hard way?
Why is it so helpful to read in the bathroom?
Why don't libraries forbid people to read public books in their bathrooms?
Why do I always have to wonder this while I'm reading a library book?

Okay so I was unable to sleep this morning because I needed to pee. I'm not sure where the chocolate one came in, I guess it's just always on my mind. (*insert Willie Nelson's voice here*)

23 April 2008

Move Over Clark Kent

You gotta be impressed with a guy who fixes your air conditioner and saves you $250 while wearing tights. Okay, I just made up that part about the tights, but tonight he is my Superman. I think he looks pretty good in those tights if I do say so myself. Thanks Travis for being my hero! (I'm sure I'll pay for this picture later!)

In an interesting side note - when he went into the attic to look at the coil they said needed cleaned and replaced, he found that the screws were slightly corroded, meaning the repairmen never even took the case off of it. To give them the benefit of the doubt, it might just be that they have enough experience to know what it is, but at the same time, if you pay them $60 to be here for 4.5 minutes, you'd at least like them to look at the problem, and not make a guess.

The Veil

Without trying to make myself sound like some sort of martyred super-hero who only does things for the greater good, I wanted to explain something that I was able to articulate earlier today in an email to a friend. I have often thought this, but it has become crystal clear in the light of my present circumstances. So often we do one another a disservice by drawing a veil over a part of our lives that is hard, difficult, ugly, disturbing, dark, morbid, weak. In so doing, we have become salesmen for Jesus. We wear the squeaky clean suit, folded hankie in our pocket, sport impeccable grooming - because instead of being real with people, we want our countenance to reflect perfection. Relationships are damn hard. People are unpredictable. Our emotions fail us, and often leave us in crumbled heaps. Our humanity is frail. We do not cease to be human when we come to Him, and I do not understand the superhuman, power-suit mentality that some Christians posture in front of others. We do have a care in this world - often a lot of them. I will let you peek behind the veil of my life because I believe it is our duty to one another to say - this is hard for me too. It sucks and you are not alone.
Maybe some have found my blogging disrespectful, raw, gruesome. It is - I know because I'm not just writing it, I'm living it. Some have said it was powerful, brave. It is because they could relate. It is real, and that is all I can be, authentically me. My introverted friend said, "stop telling people stuff!". I don't think that will ever be my style, but I love her for wanting to protect me in the way that she naturally defends herself. I am not a secret keeper. The truth is that I never really had a veil at all except that which others imposed on me. I am going to walk this road through the good and bad right beside you my bloggy friends. If it helps you to be a better person, so be it. If you find it annoying, whiny or repulsive, fortunately my turn around time is pretty quick, and I should be back to blogging about good stuff in a couple of days. You might wanna check back in a few.

Air Conditioning

I am reminded of the time when I was looking at houses, and talking to realtors from WV about houses for sale in Texas. I was inquiring as to whether or not a particular house had air conditioning since the online listing did not include this information. In a thick southern drawl, the realtor said, "Baby, thay-us is Tayksus. Ever-thang has air con-dish-uh-nang."
Oh really? Not quite the truth - but close.
I have seen a family of 17 in the front seat of a pick-up truck with the windows down in weather that feels like you're on broil in an oven. You see little houses where people are sitting on the porch, front door wide open in the evenings fanning themselves to keep cool. So not quite "ever-thang".
We have joined the ranks of the not so air conditioned in Texas, and let me tell you - it is miserable. Thankfully we have the one little unit in my bedroom, and that is where I shall stay until we get it fixed.
The AC repairmen came earlier and said that our coil needed cleaning. Excuse me? I don't have a coil. Oh you meant my air conditioner? At any rate, it is a bigger deal than just charging the thing up. Travis and our neighbor Tom are going to work on it tonight. I hope they are able to get it done - otherwise, we'll have to come up with $200-250 to get it done. Yikes.

Need to Breathe

All that has transpired has made the last week or so seem like a year....or maybe two. On top of it all, the weather has turned humid, getting heavier and heavier with our AC broken (it needs recharged - and hopefully only that), and I have been wheezing and struggling to breathe. I was waking up every night coughing my head off and needing my inhaler. I haven't had an asthma attack this bad since I was a child. So I think lack of sleep and lack of oxygen might be contributing to the ability to think clearly.
Last night, I was telling Travis about how hard it has been for me to breathe lately. He was listening. Really listening, kinda like he cared. He has a window unit in his back room. He started asking me if I wanted him to put it in our bathroom window, saying we could close the bedroom door and it would keep that one room in the house cool enough.
Usually he finds anything like this an imposition. Giving up comfort for the room he has chosen to live in the year and a half since we moved into this house, refusing to engage and to the complete neglect of his family (which he hasn't entered in 3 days) is a huge personal sacrifice. I can see something in him has broken. Whether this is permanent or temporary remains to be seen. I am just ready to get off of the ferris wheel - and at the first sign of temporary I will be jumping - even from the tippee top.

It seems a simple thing but it made me cry, the air conditioner, and how it must seem so natural for others to have their most basic needs so easily met - like the need to breathe. I realize in a deep way that I am not accustomed to having anybody take care of me, at all. I am tired of being the one sitting on the sidelines wondering what it feels like to join in the dance, to be swept up in love, to be nurtured and cared for. Emotionally I have felt like the dirty little girl with the ripped dress and no shoes for so many years.

22 April 2008

Going Under

My friend Stephanie sent me the words to this song after all the verbal vomiting I've been doing. I want to apologize if it has been hard for anyone to read. There used to be a time when I would've kept it all a secret, kept pretending that everything was alright when it wasn't, and smiled and laughed through the pain. Now it all just comes out, almost like carbonation in a bottle that's been shaken too hard and can't be held back. I am tired of believing lies, trusting those who have repeatedly broken trust, and silently wondering why some people are blessed with love and adoration while others are neglected and abused for a lifetime. This song resonates with me on so many levels.

Sick Boy

Yesterday was co-op day. We got up in the usual frenzy of a day where we have to get out of the house by a certain time and were all rushing around except for Kullen. He loves co-op and usually gets himself read speedy quick so he can maybe get on the computer for a short while or watch cartoons, but everytime I looked at him, he was reclining on my bed, or his, or the sofa, or sitting at the island with his head down. Uh oh. I felt his forehead. Yep, he was hot. Very hot.
The worst part is that he was supposed to go home with his friend, Max for a sleepover. Even worse was that the last time they had one planned, Max's mom had to cancel at the last minute. Oh boy. He was so upset.
We had to take the girls to co-op and I had to teach one class, and hand off my lesson plans to someone else for my other class. I had him on a futon in the back of an empty classroom. By the time I got him home, his temp was 101 even with Tylenol. He had started getting chills, and could not get warm. I snuggled up on the couch with him (on a microfiber sofa that is very warm, in 80+ degree temperatures with no AC on) to help him get warm. Poor guy.

21 April 2008

Thanks, But No Thanks

I have gotten a couple of emails, and comments that suggest that I consider medication for the depression, or that I talk to my doctor. I appreciate the value that this has had in the lives of others. I can imagine a scenario under which I would consider such prospects, such as when my mother was very ill, and I was packing my 3 kids back and forth each week to the hospital so I could be her weekday caretaker. I could hardly cope with things, and the doctor gave me some medication for anxiety / depression. I took it for a time. I also had a sedative to take "as needed".
My depression is situational. I have a very bad marriage. Things are not going to get better. I left a circle of friends who loved me, loved my kids and were there for us good or bad to try and give CPR to a relationship that has long since failed to have a heartbeat. I refuse to get to the point where I have to numb myself in order to live with him. The moment I have to consider such a thing, it is time for me to go. Believe me, it is way past time. I have no hope. I have no joy. I have no sense that repeating the cyclical history of 20 years gone by will bring a different result. Hey, I figured out that if I stop bashing my head against the wall, it stops hurting. My heart does ache, because deep inside of me is the girl who wanted so much to meet a boy who adored me, and made all the pieces of life finally fit together. I guess I had some expectations too. But slowly, one at a time I have had to let go of them all.
I have also had the suggestion to read this book, or pray this prayer, go to a counselor, etc. etc. etc. These are all phases we have been through. We have been down each and every road. I literally have nothing left to give. I don't even have any passion behind these words. I just want to be set free. I don't want another man. I just want me, and my kids, and quiet and calm. I want to get up every day and not have anybody else's chaos to manage, or anybody else's neglect to suffer through.
Thank you so much for all the heartfelt suggestions. I know you mean well - all of you. But I am not going to dull my senses so that things that are horrific in my opinion don't look so bad. I have to fight for something better.

20 April 2008

Can I Blog This Road?

I am at a crossroads, an intersection, a fork in the road.
I have struggled to blog about this because this is so personal. It is so unbelievably painful. There is a line I will not cross here in what I share, but at the same time, this is real life, and perhaps someone else can learn from my experience, or more likely my mistakes. Perhaps there is something in the sharing that will bring a word of encouragement from the lips of the Father to the ears of my soul.
At the same time, let me make this simple request - please do not sermonize. Share what you feel may be of benefit, and leave out pat answers, long recitations of scripture, and formulas that say, do this to know what God wants for you.
I told my husband this morning that I wanted to put our house on the market and go our separate ways. This morning he agreed with me. Throughout the day through many painful, tearful conversations, I have explained in great detail what has brought me to this conclusion, as he has insisted that he loves me and doesn't want me to leave. I can think of nothing better.
I left everything that really mattered to me when we moved here almost two years ago now (aside from him and my kids), in a last ditch effort to improve my marriage because it seemed he was really having a hard time living for so long away from his family, and yet nothing has changed between us. I am so lonely for companionship. I am far from being a saint myself, but I know that for 20 years I have been the one hauling our relationship like the weight of a dead elephant up a hill. I have been trying to be a better wife -thinking somehow if I took care of him better to the envy of other men that know us, he would see what a catch I am and a light bulb would go off.
All of the things I said today have been said ad nauseum and fallen on deaf ears. I am not sure which road I will choose. I think I have to choose sanity, peace, a place where even if I am alone it is by my own choice, and not because I have been abandoned again. I have had a whole life of abandonment. I'm all done. Would someone please give me my "get out of jail free" card???

19 April 2008

Kid Therapy

I have had a terrific day with my kids. We bought a basketball hoop for Kullen from a family we know that is moving - and what a score for $20. We brought it home and have played with it most of the day on and off. It is nice to see him wanting to do something other than watch a movie or play a video game.
I made minestrone soup and garlic bread for dinner. We took the dog with us to take Kendra to work about 5 - and afterwards, Kaitlyn and Kullen and I went to walk one of our favorite trails in the Big Thicket. We stopped a couple of times and just listened to the birds. It is evidently a great birding area. We also watched bees landing on the pitcher plants, and hoped we'd get to see one gobbled up, but we never did. There were also a LOT of animal tracks, and a strong odor in one area of cat urine. I don't think it was a teeny tiny housecat either!
When we came home, Kaitlyn wanted me to let her drive the car, so we went to the junior high school on our block, and let her drive around and around. Then, I controlled the gas an brake and let Kullen drive a little as well, from the driver's seat. You should see me straddle between the two front seats to do this! It was fun.
My kids are the best medicine.

Expectations

Here is a short discourse on the number of expectations leveled on me from the start of the morning every single day - where's the clean towels? what is there to eat? is there fresh coffee made? are you going to make breakfast? what are we doing today? are we going anywhere? can I...(fill in the blank)? will you do me a favor - followed by whatever you can imagine. And so on and so on and so on.
When I try to push back and get others to assist me with the division of household responsibilities - I get very little in response. In fact, I get disdain for my presence because I have expectations of them - but they are the majority and I am one.
My husband got up this morning - and after years of this has not figured out why it isn't funny to me. I have my arms in soapy water up to my elbows and am trying to clean out the refrigerator, and wash dishes. He wanders in and says, "Where's breakfast? I thought with all the beating and banging in here you surely would've cooked something." Then he tries to turn it all around on me while I am fuming and make it look like he was just joking and I'm crazy, even though I've attempted since 1988 to establish that I did not find this remotely funny first thing in the morning.
Sorry - hardcore blogging here - this is the reality of my life.
Then he grabs poptarts and says, "I'll just scrounge like I do every morning." (wouldn't you say the fact that there are poptarts in the cabinet means that someone isn't left to scrounge????) And then a few minutes later, "Can you I at least get me a cup of coffee?"
This is a man who has not noticed that I have been struggling just to maintain anything in the last week or so. I actually spoke the words to him last night - I.am.depressed. I know he doesn't notice, but articulating it to him only increases the frustration as absolutely nothing will change in what he expects of me, nor will he lend a hand to make sure I don't get buried. He only notices the shortcomings and failures in a critical sense.

I don't understand that while he gets up every single morning of his life and is afforded the luxury of thinking of only himself - what he'll eat, what he'll wear, what he'll do - why I have to make the world the way he and the kids want it? He goes to work most days - but everything else - literally every single flipping thing falls to me.
Why do I have to be the Proverbs 31 woman and he gets to be Archie freakin' Bunker??????
I don't understand why I am expected to be Martha Stewart, Pamela Anderson, (I am not even close to either!) a doctor, physician, a gourmet cook, lawyer, accountant, etc. etc. etc. all rolled into one. The expectations are growing every day, and I am crumbling under them.
I am about to make a run for the hills - the Blue Ridge Mountains that is, and I'll probably never come back. It isn't Texas, it's my life. I tried to get away by coming here, and it just followed me. I left the wrong things in the dust.

18 April 2008

A Day with My Girl

So Kendra drug me to the mall today. She's had birthday money burning a hole in her pocket, and a mother so reluctant to endure a day of shopping. I am not sure why in the midst of feeling so not myself that I decided to make a day of it with her - but out we went.
Our conversations in the car were interesting. She was telling me how she has really no desire to have a boyfriend but doesn't mind the idea of dating. It is really hard to let her grow up. Somehow we got on a conversation about men's idea of what a woman should look like, and how hard it is for a woman to measure up. It was a little tense at one point when we disagreed about my opinion of women wearing make-up because of men. She says we do it to feel pretty. I suggested that is because it is what our culture tells us that pretty is, and she disagreed. Eventually we agreed to disagree. It's okay. I'm alright with allowing her to be wrong.
We went to lunch at a great new Mexican place that a friend had recommended. The lunch prices were very inexpensive. Kendra had a chimichanga, and I had a beef burrito and a chicken enchilada. Terrific. After lunch, we shared a dessert. We decided to branch out and try something new - so we got Flan. It was pretty good - but neither of us were CRAZY about it. The best part was hanging out together, and eating and talking.
The shopping wore me out. Stepping into the mall is like sensory overload. The smells, sounds, the people. It is an artificial environment. I had to make myself remember that the day was about enjoying my girl - and that I did in spite of any post-traumatic stress disorder that may linger afterwards. I even went into Merle Norman with her! I didn't stay long - I had to make an emergency exit. Imagine that.

Time to Fess Up

This statement always terrifies me - I have a hard time hearing it, and an even harder time saying it. I have a lot of reasons to be completely terrified, in a blood running cold kind of way, because I lived the ups and downs of a childhood with a maniacally-depressed mother.
But I think I am battling some mild depression right now.
I am starting avoidance behaviors - I don't want to answer the phone. I am serious - it has made me shudder in the last few days when it rings. But since I know it is unhealthy, I only allow myself to reject the call for legitimate reasons, like if I'm in the middle of something.
I don't want to do anything. I can't remember the last time I really "did" my hair or put on make-up, although having always had an aversion to body odor, and poor hygiene, I have been bathing, brushing my teeth and combing my hair - but why does it seem to take so much effort?
(this is when, blessing or curse though it may be I am thankful to be working at home)
I have felt like I want to stay in bed, but haven't allowed myself that either.
There are situations and circumstances that I know have contributed to this bump in the road. I just thought it might help someone else if I share where I am.
My daughter wants to go to the mall today - and sadly since we do not reside in the happy plastic euphoria of credit card debt, there will be no retail therapy. But, I think hanging out with my girl might do me some good.
Ugh, I gotta go do my hair. (I only do it for the rest of the world that has to look at me!)

Free Money

I saw an ad for a new service called Revolution Money Exchange on my friend Gayle's blog. It is a PayPal type service that securely handles online purchases. The great part is that just for signing up you get $25. My "refer a friend" button is the little green thing at the top of the right hand sidebar. If you sign up soon, you'll automatically have $25 added to your account, and I'll get $10 more for referring you. Check it out.

Go ahead, just click it!

16 April 2008

Out of the Fireplace and Into the Fire

Kullen was in the living room earlier this evening, and he came to get me saying, "MOM! Something's in the fireplace." He said he saw a small hand, so we thought maybe a raccoon or a squirrel. We called Dad in, after all the is the tamer of all wild things, and when he opened up the fireplace a beautiful bird flew out. But the poor thing was in such a panic. We had opened the door so Travis could get whatever it was quickly out of the house, but instead of letting the bird out, it let two cats in. Travis saved the bird from one cat that leaped up over the piano and was airborne when he caught it by the tail to spare the poor thing. But the first cat frightened it, causing it to fly in a panic across the room to where we were. It hit the wall, and fell stunned on the floor, and in a second, the other cat was on top of it. It was so upsetting. We all gasped, but it was too late for our feathered friend. We are always finding dead snakes, frogs, bugs and other things on the porch from the little hunters, but we would prefer they leave the birds alone. It was a shocking site I don't think will be out of my mind for a while.

Random Fact Unschooler

My daughter Kaitlyn is 14. She is interested in astrology - which I met with much reservation initially. Together we have been fascinated to see how the zodiac is God's handiwork, and all of creation is subject to the magnetic forces of the universe.
Today she stumbled on a website of random facts, and has been sharing them with me all day:
  • nutmeg is poisonous if injected directly into the bloodstream
  • cows produce more milk if you play music while milking them
  • you are more likely to be stung by a bee in windy weather than in any other
  • it was once against the law to slam your car door in Switzerland
  • a statue of a man on a horse will have one leg raised if the man has died from being wounded in battle, and the horse will have two legs raised if the man has died while in battle
  • some toothpaste is made with antifreeze
  • there are more chickens in the world than people
  • a cat can make 600 noises in its throat but a dog can only make about 10
  • there is a Superman in every Seinfeld episode somewhere
  • our tongue prints are all unique - just like our fingerprints
She's a pretty fascinating kid - and has rattled these off to me all day long. That's probably more than you wanted to know. I feel like I'm on Cheers talking to a very pretty version of Norm!

Grocery Cart Challenge - Failure

I love Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge Blog, but I think I belong in the hall of shame. Our budget is exceedingly tight, and has gotten even tighter as I have been trying to save money in order to afford the trip to WV that we are hoping to make in May. It is just no use. She manages to spend only $50 a week, and I can't manage to stay under $100. I checked my pantry first, and then made a list and menu to see how little damage I might do, and hoped to stay under $100.
Applesauce - $1.68
3 pkgs. Jiffy corn muffin mix - $.36 each
Pepper Jack cheese slices - $2.28
1 lb. lean ground beef - $3.54
1 gallon Foremost milk (no antibiotics or hormones) - $5.22
1 pint half & half - $1.32
2 jugs of drinking water - $.68 each
American cheese - $3.68
1 lb. butter - $2.28
10 lb bag sugar - $4.22
rump roast - $10.90
large 36 pkg. of eggs - $4.66
Mustard - $.67
Flour - $2.44
Bananas - 2.51 lbs @ $.64/lb - $1.61
Plums - 1.60 lbs @ $1.50/lb - $2.40
2 tomatoes - $1.46
12 pk. hamburger patties - $6.27
Sliced chicken lunch meat - $2.98
Chicken breasts - $6.97
Sliced ham lunch meat - $3.98
1 pkg. 10 tortillas - $4.22
Grapes - $3.70
Dried red beans - $1.08
Tomato sauce - $.78
2 boxes pop-tarts - $2.92 each
Refried beans - $1.54
Cumin - $1.96
Vanilla yogurt - $1.76
1 can diced tomatoes - $.52
1 can green chiles - $.78
Brown rice - $.98

Suave Shampoo - $1.97
Suave Conditioner $1.97
Glass cleaner - $.97
Trash bags - $2.94
Fine point Sharpie markers - $1.42 (needed for Science projects)
Pencils - $1.50 (on clearance)
Pens - $.92
3 handsoap pumps - $.88 each
Dawn - $2.47 (I don't compromise on this)
2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste - $2.88 each
Our one luxury item - 2 liter Pepsi - $1.38

My meals for the week consist of:
Hamburgers and fried potatoes (I already have them)
Salmon patties (I already have the salmon - and I'll use bread crumbs from stale bread)
Minestrone soup
Pot roast and potoatoes
Chicken tortilla bake
Taco ring made with homemade crescent rolls
At least one night of leftovers - or a soup, sandwich, quesadilla, cereal, pancake, whatever night!

I also have to feed five breakfast and lunch to five people. My husband's standby is poptarts for the morning, and other than eggs I didn't get any "breakfast"foods. I do have extra hamburger patties for a lunch one day, and a couple of Ramen noodles and mac & cheese in the pantry for some other lunches. I am also partial to egg salad - which is great on toasted bread. All of the food here will be consumed in a week. My groceries totalled $120.80.
I will likely have to go back to the store mid-week for flour as Kaitlyn accidentally baked my crescent roll dough that was rising with the bread I asked her to put in the oven. (Ugh!) I am also hoping that the 4 rolls of toilet paper that we have in the closet will last the week. Maybe we can just run to the corner store to use their restroom if we run out! I am just going to refuse to go back to the store no matter what. That is another big money drain - you walk into Walmart and magically walk out $20 - 30 lighter.
I really, really want to get it down below $100. I need some suggestions on how to do that. The bottom half of the list is technically "household" items and not grocery and it adds up to about $20 - but I would still like to keep that under the budget.
Meatless meals aren't an option for hubby. He is also a big eater, and I'm not telling a hungry man that he can't eat until he is full. Fresh produce is not optional. I know I could save $2 automatically if I just bought the hormone and antibiotic laden milk, but I just can't. We haven't gotten away from the meat yet, but we're working on that also. So here's what I'm dealing with, and I'm so frustrated because I can't seem to balance healthy and frugal.

Sunday Obsession

I know four terrific guys who are all heart and song. They have a band, and I can say I knew them when........when they were shorter than me........when they referenced their hygiene habits by years...... when they thought burping and farting was cool (and if they still do, I don't want to know).... and I got to see them live out their own relationships with Jesus, falling in love with him, grieving when the felt that they failed him, and wanting so much to point others to Him with their lives, with their music, with their all. They started this really great band, and although I haven't gotten to hear them play live in a long time, I never miss a new song when they have one posted on myspace. My son Kullen even made the first ever fan t-shirt. They are in a "battle of the bands" contest. Go take a listen. You can vote twice today, and you can vote every hour starting tomorrow. It'd be awesome to see these guys get a chance to really get their band recognized. I can tell you, they're the real deal.

Rejected Commenter

My friend Henry wrote a blog post not long ago about Learning to Reject and Delete. I completely understood and agreed with her line of thinking. I do not have my blog set currently to approve comments before allowing them to post on my blog which has allowed a stinging comment a time or two but that is the risk that I take.
There are some who find it their duty to correct what is in their opinion every wrong thought, opinion, perspective, etc. I often blog as I am forming a completed thought, and wish that those people would understand that I am not saying that everything I blog about is right and true and good or even Biblical. Just being a Christian does not mean that every expression I make as a human being is going to be theologically sound. I am being transformed into His image - I am not already there - and neither are you.
All of this to say, while I agree with Henry wholeheartedly, I have recently been on the other side of the reject and delete button. My comments were benign, friendly and even in support of the blogger whose blog I was commenting on, so I really have no idea why my comment was rejected. I can tell you this, if conversation is not open, I am not likely to comment again. I don't have the time. If I had said something controversial or harsh, I would expect such treatment.
Just as Henry quoted we should say only that which is useful in building one another up (bang rubber mallet into own head 10 times) and get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, malice and slander, we also need to all learn to be slow to be offended. (bang rubber mallet into own head 10 more times).
So there it is - it is about relationships - they are a kind of dance. I step on your toes some and you pull back, then you step on mine. (It is a different thing when someone wears steel toed boots and it intentionally trying to flatten your whole foot, which was more Henry's experience.) But in friendship, with cyber-buddies or real life friends, we dance. Each friendship takes on a rhythm of its own. But we seem to get better at it the more we keep in step with one another, twirling to slow, quick,quick, slow, quick,quick.
I'm definitely going to lose Henry on that quick,quick part, but that's okay, I'll catch her on the next slow!

15 April 2008

Afternoon Delight

The most delightful 3 letter word in the English language. Yet it seems to elude me. Ideally, it must last at least 15 - 20 minutes. If it lasts less, I feel dissatisfied. If it lasts longer, when it is over I feel like a big bundle of nerves. I need it every day. What is this bliss that I chase, only to capture once in a desperate while?
A nap.

Movie Review - Of Mice and Men

I love Netflix! I can log on and watch a movie anytime of the day or night. Whenever I am in the mood to watch a movie, I can browse the "view instantly" features, and viola! What a great perk to give to Netflix customers.
This past Friday night, Kullen and I were both tired, but not sleepy. We wanted to snuggle up in bed and watch a movie, but we didn't have any new DVDs here, so we decided to browse for a movie on Netflix and stumbled on a gem. We watched Of Mice and Men. The book, by John Steinbeck is one that I have always wanted to read. I can remember fond times holding it in the library thinking, one day I'd like to read this book before putting it back, or mentally cataloging it on my "to read later" list.
The version we watched was done in 1992, although originally it was made into a movie in 1939. It is the story of a retarded young man named Lenny, and his friend George. Everywhere they go, Lenny manages to get himself in trouble. They end up having to travel from place to place looking for work as farm hands, but they dream together of one day having a place of their own where Lenny will get to "tend the pigs". The movie never really tells us how George becomes Lenny's caretaker, but we see their friendship and deep commitment to one another. The movie has a shocking ending, that makes you gasp, and want to cry. Kullen hid under the covers sobbing for about 10 minutes, but he still says it was a good movie.
We enjoyed it - or maybe what we enjoyed most was watching it together.

Health Concerns

Several things have come to my attention lately.
One is that I may be killing my son by giving him Singulair, or at least making him want to kill himself. He has taken this since he was about 4 years old for his chronic, severe asthma. It is so scary. The worst part about this report is that they have known of these side effects for a long time, but they never included it because the side effects didn't manifest during their clinical trials. It is under FDA review. The drug is reported to bring in something like $3 billion dollars in sales a year - so of course it hasn't been pulled from shelves. I can't in good conscience keep giving it to my son. But I will say that we have run out and been unable to fill it for a few days and notice a dramatic change in his breathing. It is pretty scary to think about taking him off of it.
Then I read about the flu vaccine which he also takes every year because no matter how mild the illness, he always has strong respiratory reactions. Even though the vaccine admittedly only covers about 40% of the potential strains it has seemed a prudent decision. This new information will cause me to think again. (Google it - there is lots of info. out there.)
And yesterday at co-op, Kullen's chemistry class was making soda. They were using raw corn, and soaking it, to produce corn syrup and I learned through a discussion with the teachers how corn syrup is made. It is coaxing the starch out of the corn using sulfuric acid (I can't find any internet sources to directly back this up - but it is in Kullen's science book) and then adding a couple of enzymes. A friend explained to me recently that this is a mainstay of the American diet, rearing its ugly head in the majority of the processed foods that appear on our grocery shelves, pantries, and restaurants, and is a major contributor to the diabetes epidemic. We have made some major steps towards removing it from our diet - but it still rears its ugly head in ice cream, ketchup, even in salad dressings. It is everywhere.
Could someone please beam me back to 1900??
(On second thought - nevermind. I think there were risks to living back then too!)

12 April 2008

To Ponder

Am I a writer because I write
..or do I write
because I am a writer?

Quiet - Please!

Have I ever mentioned that I have trouble with quiet? Those who know me IRL certainly might surmise that at the sheer amount of words that can emit from my mouth when I am in good company. Can I help that I love good conversation?
But serioiusly - silence - that complete silence where all you can hear is your own breath and maybe your heart beat - freaks.me.out!
I am sitting ont he front porch right now and if there weren't birds twittering in the trees, kitty cats crunching on their food or the gentle clanking sound of my wooden windchimes, I might freak out.
I have a theory. After my parents divorce, I stayed at home alone a LOT. I was only about 10 by the time my brother went to live with our dad. I don't think I ever told anybody how scared I was to be left alone. My mom would get angry at me if I made her feel guilty for going out at night to the clubs she frequented, so I never told her that I was terrified. One thing that helped me feel better was to have either the TV or the radio on at all times.
Eventually I got older and stopped being scared, but I never got over being freaked out by the silence. Even today it is an issue. I can't stand the quiet.
And there is one thing a writer needs great amounts of, which would be my greatest tool and that is uninterrupted silence. Now that I really really want it, I can't seem to get it.
I have passed this on to my children who all seem to have to have something audible going on at all times. Today we were hiking some of the trails, me thinking that being connected with nature would help me reconnect a little with real life and help the writing process. We are walking along, having nice gentle conversation, hearing leaves rustle, looking at cobwebs, when all of a sudden some sort of gangsta music starts to play - it's Kendra with music blaring from her cell phone.
At least until I shot her the evil eye.
She said it helps her enjoy nature more - I beg to differ.

Don't Try This at Home....in Texas

Yeah, this is a repeat lesson. I went out yesterday and watched the kids swim at the lake in a friend's neighborhood. They had a pretty good time. I sat and visited with the other moms. It was a fairly overcast, shady day. Outside of maybe the last 15 minutes, we didn't feel or see the sun. Ah, but it was there - spiraling invisible UV rays down through the clouds. And it fried my nose and forehead. Ugh. I love this "T-zone" sunburned look. The good news, it turns out is that the UV protection of my sunglasses works perfectly, adding to the raccoon effect. Lovely.

10 April 2008

Kaleidoscope

A few things.
Went to the doctor yesterday - she said I have come to Texas to die.
Well she didn't say exactly that - but evidently although I have not really had seasonal allergies before - viola! I do now. it is settling in my throat, my nose, and now my chest.
The only sound emanating from my lips this morning is a squeak-like sound that can't actually be considered words.
When I tried to say Good Morning Kendra what came out was "ooh uh eeh uh". Fortunately she knows "squeak speak".
In further medical news, the UTI appears to be over. (I know you were all wondering.)

Although some may have country music aversions, that I myself am prone to from time to time, I have to share the link to this video of Trace Adkin's new song "You're Gonna Miss This" that my friend Carol sent to my daughter Kendra. Even though none of my family really knows my kids, we do have "family" that loves them and knows them so well even if we aren't related by blood. Carol knows that Kendra has been ready to grow up since she was born. Each year on her birthday she tells us how old she is going to be next year. This video was perfect - it was a great message for a little girl who grew up too fast. (She isn't grown yet.)

I used to really loathe television. I hated the idea that I had to be in my living room, on the couch at a certain time and day to watch the shows I liked. I have been so happy to find that the major networks are hosting their most popular shows online. (although the most recent episodes of LOST have not appeared!!) I have begun watching Desperate Housewives, and am ready for their new season, as well as Brothers & Sisters. The best part is that I can watch them when I want. Woo hoo. That's my kind of TV.

I am working steadily on my script although right now I don't like where it has gone and I am not exactly sure where to go from here. I know that sounds weird - but perhaps if you have written a story you know how it can take on a life of its own, and go places you never really dreamed. Strange. Never a dull moment.

08 April 2008

Unexpected Twists and Turns

Okay - so the first week of Script Frenzy is over - and week two has begun. I have written a total of 8 pages. (I know - hold the applause!) The first week of any month is the most hectic at work, and life itself seems busy. One of the hardest things about writing is finding the time. Seriously. I've got tons of material. I always have something on my mind. But, life seems to spin out of control, and before I know it - another day has gone with no writing.
The best advice was truly using the "butt in the chair" method. I'm trying.
But, here's the deal. I was writing my story and it took an ugly and unexpected turn. There is a car accident. I had one fairly minor, although terrifying car accident years ago. Nobody went to the hospital - but my car was totaled. I am going to have to do some research - but am afraid of answers, or to dig into the subject thinking I may never get in a car again. This really isn't an option. So I'm throwing this out there - does anybody have any ideas of how I research what happens at an accident scene, how police contact a family member. I want to know how my main character who is pretty torn up in the accident gets her purse and cell phone back. I have no idea how that would play out. Any ideas? I do have a neighbor who was a DPS officer who told me once that the worst part of his job was to go to the door of someone's house and tell the parents that their child wasn't coming home and I can't even imagine. I think I could ask him - but I am not sure I want to entertain those thoughts or feel those feelings. I am not sure this will stay in my story - but it is where I am right now.
Just thought you would like an update.
And for all of you who promised chocolate - I am still waiting.

Pretty Miserable

I have been fighting a urinary tract infection for almost a week now - ick. I have also been struggling with allergies that have made my throat clog up, and now it seems like everybody in the neighborhood is mowing. My biggest allergy is "cut grass" - although somehow I enjoy the warm sweet smell on a cool spring day - but it is making me wheeze.
I can't pee without pain.
My nose, ears, and head are clogged.
I can't breathe without wheezing.
As you can imagine, I'm pretty miserable.

06 April 2008

A Post Full of Pictures from Kendra's 17th Birthday

Yesterday was pretty fun -
The newly-turned-17 year old girl was meeting up with a few friends for an impromptu "eventhoughwe'rehavingapartyinafewweeks" let's do something fun on your actual birthday.
Here she is in all her 17 year old glory:
First we went to a really cool new coffeehouse called, "The Barking Dog". The guy that opened it used to be a youth leader - and they want to have a lot of live music, etc. It is really retro-style - with huge pictures of New York city, a faux fireplace and a bunch of books, among which Kendra found her favorite, "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. It was that moment that I knew she was in love. Here are a few pictures:
Dylan, Trent and Jonathan
Callie, Kaitlyn and Kendra
(I have no idea why she decided to do that thing with her hand - I think a birthday high!)
The Guys - Trent, Daniel, Jonathan, Dylan and Kullen
After we got all caffeined up, we went to see "Run Fat Boy, Run!" at the movies. It was pretty hysterical. My kids always have unique tastes, and after watching a ton of trailers and reading reviews, she decided on this Indie film that premiered at the Sundance Film festival. It was a risk, and I hoped it would be good. I worried for her sake that her friends wouldn't like it - but surprisingly they all did. Highly recommended.
After the movie, we were invited to Kendra's friend, Daniel's house to hang out. By hang out I mean that his mom prepared tons of delicious food, complete with Turtle Cheesecake and 17 candles, and a Happy Birthday banner hung in the window. It was so much like having some of my WV friends around, loving my kids. We taught the gathering all of the party games we could think of - almost - and then they taught us a game called "Silent Football" which sounded at the onset like sports torture, but ended up being really fun. The object of the game is to try and make the other players laugh while keeping yourself from it. The girls and I didn't fare so well. Kaitlyn ended up with this "cruel and unusual punishment" (photo at left - please note the clenched teeth). We assure you - no BVDs were harmed in the playing of this game or the taking of this photo!
In other news, this lovely boy to the right has secured my utmost confidence in his ability to handle himself at the gas pump! His mama may never have to pump gas again! What a great day for a mother! I just sat in the car
(thankfully so because I am still suffering the symptoms of a vicious urinary tract infection) while he filled 'er up!
We didn't get home until 2 am - it was almost as long as the day I was in labor with Kendra. I guess she's worth it. We all had a blast.

05 April 2008

Happy Birthday Kendra

My baby turns 17 today. I can't believe it is only one more year until she will be an adult. I already wrote a lot about my feelings of her growing up here in anticipation of her birthday. It is so hard to even get any words out.
A few random facts about this lovely young woman:
  • she referred to herself in third person consistently until she was 3 years old, saying things such as Kendra can't want ketchup
  • she can blow her nose like a sounding trumpet, causing the whole family to wince and often yell in unison, "Kendra!"
  • she has unique self-taught study habits - reading her entire biology chapter out loud in the middle of the night - she says it helps her commit it to memory
  • she loves Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera - the movies and soundtracks, which she makes us listen to ad nauseum ....the Phantom of the Opera is there...inside my mind......
  • she is a bookworm - and from the time she was 11 until she discovered boys a few years later (or should I say one boy in particular) we forgot she had a lower half of her face, as all we could see were her eyes over the top of her book
  • when she eats ice cream, she still wears it on her upper lip like a mustache, and never knows that it's there until you point it out
  • when she was 2 and I was expecting her sister, her father who was supervising her in the building while I was having an OB appointment let her slip away from him and she rode down a glass elevator alone - waving and smiling at him as she went
  • she exited the womb speaking in complete sentences
  • I do not think she has ever slept one night of her life in a room alone
  • she loves most vegetables and was known when she was small to have a melt-down in the produce section at the grocery store - but she loathes broccoli
  • she bites her fingernails, and when she was younger, her toenails as well
  • she has one of the best senses of humor, and is even able to laugh at herself
I love you Kendra. I am so lucky to get to be your mom!
I will be updating this throughout the day as her dad and siblings share their random thoughts. If you know Kendra - please comment with your own random facts, and I will add them here to this post!

04 April 2008

Rebel

My kids like to tease me about something I said recently, "I wasn't allowed to rebel when I was growing up". It really cracks them up. I guess you can't really consider their behavior rebellion if I allow it. Travis and I were talking last night about how if you give your kids freedom there is nothing to rebel against, and then the times when they do push where you are uncomfortable often fade quickly away. I grew up with two type A, domineering, my way or the highway type parents. My dad was easier than my mom as far as letting me do things versus keeping me locked up in the house all day, but since I seldom lived with him due to an overwhelming sense of guilt that I was responsible for my mom, and the awkwardness of being a step-child, it was rough.
All of that to say that I think at 38 I have finally entered my rebellious phase.
Rebellion is good sometimes - think of Martin Luther nailing his thesis to the church door, Corrie ten Boom rebelling to spare the lives of numerous Jews, or anyone else who took a risk to change the world. If I am going to be lumped with anyone, let me be lumped with them, rebels that they are!

Gloomy

Here is a little picture of our weather today. Not pretty. I know when I wake up and the house is still dark that either I should roll over and go back to sleep - OR perhaps I live in Texas. It hasn't been too bad this spring - but last year from September until February - it at least felt like it was rainy every day. Today's forecast is for thunderstorms.
It feels a little gloomy right now in my life. Sometimes there is nothing like a good cleansing rain and thunderstorm to kind of scrub the surface and set things right again. Then when the sun comes out, you appreciate it more than before. This can be true in life as well - but for some reason in the midst of the storm, I forget that it is really what seems the most terrible thing that is making it better. So today I intend to enjoy the gloomy weather. I am sure I have at least one kid who will sit on the porch swing in the thick of it with me and watch it roll.

Angry

I was thinking over the past week and I realize that there is a theme running through the last several posts - and it is one of anger. I am angry. It is taking its toll on me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
I am so damn tired of those who call themselves Christians having nothing to do but annihilating one another.
The sad part is that in that whole sentence, I lost many of you at the word damn.
Damn Damn Damn
Hopefully those of you who are so sensitive have stopped reading and I can resume with the audience that wants to know what is really on my mind.
The thing is that so many people are out to look at fault in one another - and if you look hard enough you are going to find plenty - especially if your microscope is pointed in my direction. And you know what - the smallest of all will be that I used the word damn - what now like five or six times on my blog.
I feel righteously indignant.
I am worn to the core of being involved in fellowships of various kinds who hold up a flaming hoop for me to jump through. It is wrong.
Do not slap God's name on whatever you decide to do and think that makes it right - because if the same Holy Spirit is in both of us - it should resonate. Lemme tell ya a little secret -
Lean in closer -
IT AIN'T RESONATIN'!!!
Damn.

03 April 2008

Second Thoughts - Co-op Dress Code

I apologize for the repetitive blogs on the same subject, but writing my thoughts is very helpful in processing them. I know that over the years, I have blogged about why we homeschool our children - one of the predominant reasons is to bring them up in an environment that is not hostile to our faith. Another prevailing factor is that our schools are organized after the Nazi Germany model, whose primary goal is to make children good citizens, compliant members of state who obey without question in a homogeneous society, blending in and making no disturbance. I think it may be time to re-read Farenheit 457, 1984 or Brave New World.
What about biblical authority? I can just hear that question floating through cyberspace. As parents, we have never wanted our children to be blindly submissive to every authority. Hitler's regime taught us that there is a time to question authority. We also do not want our children to be subversive, just for the sake of rebellion. This has even meant allowing them to question us, their parents, and we have found their arguments for equity, their quest to be heard to be often right and good. Sometimes their logic is flawed and we point that out, but sometimes our logic is flawed.
Our desire for our children has always been to discern right from wrong, truth from error, and when to take a stand. I think it may be one of the reasons that even if the kids are okay with the new level of control just so they can continue on at co-op, I may not be. If through the processing, I determine that it is wrong, I am not sure that I can just let it go. I might be able to for their sake but I have a feeling that every Monday morning, it would sicken me anew to feel like my kids have to pass through inspection, and be deemed worthy.
One major error I have encountered among Christian parents is the desire to indoctrinate their children, which often is quite cult-like behavior. While I want to have an influence on my children, I never want to usurp their ability to think for themselves. I am not afraid of the hard questions, or the ones for which we have no answers. I don't do this perfectly, but it is an ever present goal.
I am not sure where I will land with this. I know that it all makes me very uncomfortable. The question was tossed out at the meeting that if we are a co-op, why were we not all involved in the decision making process. The answer given was that "leaders lead", which in my opinion didn't answer the question. I believe there was a second part that went unspoken, leaders lead, the rest follow without question, which sends a shiver up my spine.
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After the first comment on this post from my dear sweet Alisha, I had to be sure to make this statement. Each family has the right to make the best choices for their family, their situation, their lives. Period. My focus here is freedom - and if we don't respect the freedoms of one another, then all is truly lost for all of us. We are obvious evidence that you can go through "school" and still come out on the other side, independent people, capable of thinking for yourselves, etc. (although I would have to admit it took me years to get here) and that a lot of it has to do with parenting, not just as school. Like Alisha said in her comment, "to each his own", although we've gotten so used to hearing it - it is true that the quest for freedom is empty unless it means freedom and respect, even when we make different choices, for all.

02 April 2008

Dress Code at Co-op

We had a meeting at co-op tonight and one of the major things that came up was that they are going to require uniform dress next school year. There has been a lot of tension this year over kids wearing too much black, and since they were having difficulty communicating an understanding of what the ban on "excessive black" meant, they decided this was the safest way to go.
When I think of black, I think that monks, and nuns, and those who are grieving and not necessarily the whole gothic/emo movement. I love black - it is skinny-fying. I for one thing we need to take this color back.
I decided to remain an observer at the meeting and listen to what others had to say. I had to take some time to process what was wanted. I honestly do not like another level of control. My first reaction was that I hated it. I like individuality, even if it bumps up against my personal tastes and preferences. It was said that some of the smaller children were frightened, and I wonder if they keep them in a box, because the kids at our co-op look nowhere near as scary as I see on the streets.
Regardless, the processing time proved beneficial. Even if I don't like the rule, I can respectfully disagree. My kids and I will have to decide how much control we want others to have of our lives - and if participation in the co-op is worth abiding by something we think is ludicrous.
Hearts never change from the outside in. I am not scared to see people go through times of darkness, curious exploration, and questioning. Unfortunately that is not most of the Christian world that I am surrounded by, so we have to decide to be in or out of this community. My kids, to my surprise said they didn't like it - but they would comply in order to continue on at the co-op. We even found a way to have a positive outlook - Kaitlyn said it would make it easier to get dressed on a Monday morning.
I wanted to amend this, this morning to say that the code goes so far as to stipulate what kind of jewelry, length of hair (for boys), hair color, even down to what color of socks, etc. is acceptable. It is a shame because it is one of the things that was so appealing to me originally about the co-op is that the kids didn't look like "homeschool clones". I guess I'm still processing. It really goes beyond clothing style, and I hate the idea of the atmosphere this level of scrutiny will bring to the kids. Instead of one of grace and love it will bring a "do I meet the standard" anxiety. Guess what y'all? In Christ we all meet the standard, right where we are - no matter what we're wearing.

I feel a naked protest coming on! Just kidding just kidding!

01 April 2008

Adieu Dear Blog

Dear Blog,
You have been a huge part of my life but now it is time to say good-bye. I have loved being here, writing down my thoughts or sharing the events of the day. I've met many friends, most of them are simply cyber friends. Others I've gotten to meet in real life. I've enjoyed making friends and reading about your lives too! The community and connections with other people have been immensely exciting.
Now it is time to move on. Life has gotten too crazy with working, writing, and trying to spend time with my family and a moment or two on house cleaning. Maybe I'll even find time to read a whole book now and then. So, I will just say Good-bye dear blog. Thank you for being a fun part of my life.
Please leave me a comment so at least I will know I'll be missed.

I would like to add just one comment here at the very end. April Fool! Have a nice day and leave a comment anyway! Let me just tell you before you start leaving "hate comments" that it is all Karen's fault! She started it!

Script Frenzy Begins - Character Name

I always get stuck on the simplest details when I'm writing. This time I am sort of at a loss for the name of the main character. She is about 85% me - but I don't want to call her Julie. I don't want a fancy new trendy name - so I thought about something that is as solidly simple as Julie such as Jane or Joanne. Neither of which are working for me. If you have a suggestion - please send it my way. Did I mention that SCRIPT FRENZY starts today!!!!