30 December 2008

Feeling Crusty and Defensive

I had a discussion with my dad today wherein he took issue with homeschooling. Several times recently while discussing some changes going on in our family, it has been said that I needed to "put the kids in school". It really sucks that when I'm already down and out, feeling somewhat vulnerable is when people in my family from whom I most want love, acceptance and support, have chosen to use it to coerce me into the lifestyle they think I should have. Nothing doing.
In our conversation, it was asked if the kids were going to "sit around the house all day?" Is that really what people think we do? Perhaps if these people spent some time with us in our world, they would know better. My kids have always had friends and activities and engagements and lots of social outlets. I don't understand the small thinking that "socialization" is something learned in schools and not in the society at large.
I work hard to respect and love my siblings and the choices they make for their kids. I try to show my step-mother respect for what is important to her as a school secretary. Is it possible I could receive a little of this in return? Can we disagree and choose different things without making value judgments on one another? My kids are amazing, and it is really about damn time that they acknowledge it. If one of my nieces and nephews were shy - they would not blame the public schools. Don't blame homeschooling for my children's personalities. Don't blame homeschooling because they choose to sit with adults or their siblings instead of hanging out with a bunch of whooping, hollering teenagers who they think are idiots. Don't blame homeschooling because my kid doesn't care to play sports. Don't blame homeschooling for everything you think is wrong with my kids - who asked you to evaluate them anyway? Why do we all have to be gray - can't some of us have some color of our own?
When it comes down to it - I will never give up my choices for my family to live the way we see fit. That price is too high. I don't need anything if it comes with strings attached.

27 December 2008

New Year's Resolution - Live Free

I have been reading a couple of different blogs about New Year's resolutions. Each year I make some sort of statement regarding the futility of "resolutions" and the vague representation of time as we understand it. But in light of present circumstances, I am declaring 2009 the year to get free of some things that are weighing me down. I am not referring to excess poundage - which is a never-ending goal, but of the things in life that weigh me down. The expectations, definitions, implications, accusations - - I am in such hideous bondage to the chains I have allowed to bind me. It is exactly as the Message says, "a dark cloud".
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

No more dark cloud. I am ready to be free. Whatever it takes, no matter how hard, I am going to be free. I hear Braveheart inserting my name into that famous William Wallace quote - take a listen and in place of "Scotland" insert my name.... our yours if perchance you want to be free too!


25 December 2008

Jesus Taught Me How to Celebrate Christmas

Yesterday started with a bang. After several days of sleep deprivation, I had to brave the Christmas Eve shopping crowds to finish up shopping for my kids. Thankfully I knew what I wanted and knew where to get it - so with three stops to make, we headed first for the mall. It was early and not too crowded around 10 am - but by the time we left, close to noon - the place was a madhouse. It took 20 minutes just to pull out of the mall. Barnes and Noble offered a slight reprieve, and then on to Target which was another nuthouse!
Errands done, I headed off for my 4 hour Christmas Eve shift from 2-6pm at Walmart. From the second I walked in I could feel the tension in the atmosphere. The crowds were terrible, and people were in "me" mode. My line stayed busy - non-stop for 4 hours. Then it happened. About half an hour before the store closed, tensions started to build. Customers were being urged to the front to complete their purchases every 5 minutes or so - and they were getting cranky. When the CSM told me to close my line, people continued to get in. I kindly explained that my lane was closed as I finished up the last customer. As I concentrated on his order, a lady that comes in frequently and I have a fairly good rapport with got in line and unloaded several things onto the belt before I saw her and explained that I was closing. I was tired too. It was Christmas Eve for me and my co-workers too. I wanted to go home too. But she did not take this well, and started to throw things down in her cart angrily, swearing under her breath. We also had to have the local police come and guard the door that was left open for the last remaining customers and employees to exit because people were trying to force their way into the store after being told we were closed, and becoming violent.
There seems to be a disconnect in some people - some lack of recognition of the humanity of our fellow man. It is so disheartening. But it will not spoil Christmas. Neither will the "guaranteed delivery" of Kaitlyn's violin by Tuesday of this week - her big gift - that never came. Things happen and we often find ourselves discouraged by our circumstances - but none of those things should change what Christmas means. I had to choose throughout the tense day to remember that I did not know what brought each person to their disposition - perhaps they had lost a loved one this year, or like us had financial strain because of layoffs and job changes, or any number of a million other things. Even if they forgot my humanity, I made a conscious decision to remember theirs. Jesus taught me how.

To wish you Merry Christmas I leave you with the words to my favorite Christmas song:

I Am, You Are

In a lowly stable on that Bethlehem morn
The Savior of the world was born
Finally the one behind heaven's gates
Came to be earth's Emmanuel

Tenderly a mother rocks her baby boy
She is holding heaven's joy
Angels lend an ear as she begins to sing
A lullaby fit for a King

You are wonderful
Little Prince of Peace
Tiny Counselor
Almighty God
You are Ancient of Days
Precious newborn King
I Am, you are

Lowly shepherds came
The blessed Babe to see
And Mary marveled at the mystery
Only simple faith could help them understand
He would be the crucified Lamb

And Mary sang to her sweet little Lamb ...
You are wonderful
Little Prince of Peace
Tiny Counselor
Almighty God
You are Ancient of Days
Precious newborn King
I Am, you are

22 December 2008

Dream a Little Dream With Me

I don't know why - but all of my life sleep has eluded me. I love to sleep. When I lay down, it is usually only a matter of minutes before I'm out like a light. Typically this is because I don't go to bed one second before I'm utterly exhausted - which just so happens to be most of the time. With my new work schedule - 1/2 am is becoming pretty common which means I need to sleep until about 8 or 9. But, here it is 6 am and I am wide awake - well maybe not wide - but I am awake which is the opposite of sleeping which is what I want to be.
The hardest part is that I am often awake for reasons that could be prevented. I can't seem to make members of my family understand that I need peace and quiet to sleep. Conversations, doors shut too loudly, lights left on that stream into my room, etc. are all interruptions of my sleep and typically once I'm awake - I cannot go back to sleep. I am also not a napper, so I wake up without having had enough sleep and do not recover over the course of a day. If this happens several days in a row I manifest signs of insanity.
Growing up with a mom who was mentally ill, and one of her biggest problems was insomnia, I saw the effects of severe sleep deprivation. She would stay awake and not sleep for days on end, and then crash and sleep for days. The hard part for me was that if she didn't sleep, she did not allow me to rest either. She would call me for me from her room all hours of the night to get her cigarettes, "refresh" her tea, or wipe out her ashtray. Even if she went out, she would call and ask me to do things. It was such a huge issue that said "I'm more important than you" everytime she decided that her need for whatever it was superseded my need for sleep. A lot of that comes back now when members of my family disrespect my need for rest - and I stick up for myself in a way I couldn't back then. Proper rest is so necessary to a clear mind - and I'm not getting it lately. I am in one big fog.

19 December 2008

Flashback Friday - C. Thomas Howell

I was telling my kids that when I was younger I had a crush on Ponyboy from "The Outsiders". I even went to the mall and bought one of those baseball shirts with a rainbow that fell into hearts spelling the word LOVE on the front and the fuzzy letters spelling C. Thomas Howell on the back. How crazy is that? I can't even explain how little those feelings were compared to what I know real love to be now, but you could not have told me that then. Last night I rented a movie for Kullen and Travis to watch tonight while I'm working and the girls are at a birthday party, and found out that C. Thomas Howell is the director and main character. (This does not bode well for him as the movie had horrible reviews.) But it made me remember Ponyboy:

Bye bye Ponyboy - nothing gold can stay.
Here's the trailer for his new movie - he's the guy at the end screaming "What are you waiting for???!!"

16 December 2008

Feeling Like a Failure

I have been sobbing on and off for the last hour. I am certain some of it is hormonal, but it doesn't make the things I am feeling any less legitimate. It may just effect the way I manage those feelings.
I feel like a failure.
My oldest child is going to have her last "childhood" Christmas with us, and I am going to scrape to be able to do anything for her.... I know I should be thankful that I can give her something - but I think about the day she was born and how I wanted to do well in life - for her sake. I wanted to give her so much more. Not materially - but a full life. I just wonder if she's had it.
The younger two are pining away for West Virginia - and the friends and good times they knew there. Cookie baking days, Christmas parties, making gingerbread houses, shopping trips, ornament making, hanging out with friends for long winter days while the moms Christmas shop together - - and I don't know when or if they'll ever have that again. I have tried to muster up the energy to plan some of those things here - but I am really struggling and can't seem to plan a thing.
The larger these feelings get the less functional I am and the worse I feel.
I feel like a spectator in the lives of others, from a distance with my friends in WV, and the one who just isn't in the inner circle of things here. And I feel so bad that even if someone invited me shopping, to a movie or over for cookies and egg nog - if I had the day off I wouldn't be good company.
I know there are worse things in the world - but this is swallowing me right now. All I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.

I Take Issue with That!

I read this quote from a 1908 publication called "What a Young Wife Ought to Know" reprinted in a current magazine this morning and it got me all worked up:
"A true woman would hardly care to exchange her delicate instinct, her deftness of finger her versatile mind - which enables her to do the many little and great things in our everyday home-life equally well - her quick perception, her motherly all-aroundness, her sweet womanly loveliness, for any other marketable thing, or any other characteristic or capability attained by culture or training. A true woman is a woman, and she does not desire to be anything else unless she can add it to her womanliness."

Where to start.
First of all - I lack all "delicate instinct". I am awkward, rambunctious, easily provoked to raucous laughter - but delicate I am not. I believe God made me - at the basic level - the person that I am, and after years of resisting this and trying to be someone that I am not, I am finally comfortable with the fact that I am not a wilting flower. I believe God made women in all shapes, sizes, colors, and yes, personality too. He created each of us individually - to be different, and to bring glory to Him through our uniqueness. Our creative God did not make us cookie cutter people - but rejoiced in his ability to put together so many different combinations.
I take offense at this idea that we are to use our "versatile mind" only for the home or it is some blemish on our womanliness. Do all of our pursuits not benefit our families? How is it that men may pursue their dreams, follow their ambitions and creativity where they lead and if women do the same outside of their homes, they have committed some terrible crime? We can have our identity as wives and mothers mean so much that we fail to be individuals.
I have been a stay-at-home mom for all of my children's lives until recently. I have always done something - babysitting, cleaning houses, computer work at home, etc. to bring in some extra income to help make ends meet. My times at home with my family have always been my favorite, but I've done it because that was the desire of my heart and not because there was some unwritten standard that I would be less of a woman if I did not. I have seen women crash and burn after divorce because they had all of who they were wrapped up in their families, including my own mother. My mother was not blameless - but she lost who she was when the man she married at 16 decided he didn't want to be married to her anymore, and she never recovered.
Last night, I was feeling rather overwhelmed. I saw women come through my line happily spending money on Christmas gifts and enjoying the season and I felt so envious. They got to go home that evening to their families. They didn't have to drive home at almost 1 am and hope they would be awake and alert enough not to hit a deer, or drive off the road because they were so tired. Then I thought of my co-workers - one who has to leave for work before her 4th grader gets off the bus and has to walk 2 blocks home to stay for the evening with a handicapped grandma while she works. One lady is so tired that her eyes never look like more than little slits. One lady works nights because she is taking care of a 21 year old daughter who is a paraplegic during the day. These women are true women, doing what is required, as I am to make it through the day, whether working out of their homes or not. Their deftness of finger, versatile mind and quick perception are often expended in their workplace and not their home. It is easy to sit back in a padded chair with a comfy life and make judgments on these women - but get in the trenches with them for a little while and you'll see - they are women just like you.

15 December 2008

Customer Etiquette

My husband, of all things has been most disappointed lately since he has decided he wants to know me better and become a more regular reader of my blog that I have not posted anything with much depth lately. This evidenced by the fact that I told you all on Friday to go Elf Yourself and have had nary a post all weekend.
La la la la life goes on. I love my blog - but it is not the be all end all of my existence. I am saving my writing energies for screenwriting. Maybe it's just something I'm dabbling in - or maybe I'll actually finish it - but I find I only have so much creative juice to go around.
However, this list has been writing itself in my head and I thought that since it is the holiday season we could all use a refresher of good etiquette when standing in the checkout line.
  • Don't use hand signals to gesture me when you are on your cell phone and expect me to know what they mean. I didn't get that kind of training. I don't mind if you're on your phone but if you need to communicate something to me, please do so clearly.
  • If you eat something as you are shopping and have yet to pay for it, and ditch the empty container, that is stealing.
  • If your child has sucked on an item in your cart, please do NOT hand it to me. Hold it in the air with the UPC suspended in mid air so I can use my hand scanner.
  • When your child spits at the shopping bags, debit/credit machine or any other part of my work area, it isn't funny.
  • If you ask me where something is, and I cannot immediately answer, please do not roll your eyes as if I am a moron. Can you truly expect me to have the entire inventory and location of every item in our store? (I will try to put you in touch with someone who does know - and that is really the best I can do.)
Be kind to people working in stores this holiday season. Remember if you find it stressful to be out in the throngs shopping how much more stressful it must be to be there working in that same environment.

12 December 2008

Since It's Christmas - Go Elf Yourself!

We loved Elf Yourself like crazy last year - and they have even more options this year - check out or jig!
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

11 December 2008

Over the Ground Lies a Mantle of White

A heaven of diamonds shine down through the night - two hearts are thrillin' in spite of the chill in the weather. That's how we felt this morning when we woke to a "Winter Wonderland" in southeast Texas. It was amazing - and such a lift of the spirit at Christmastime being far from home. Kendra and Kaitlyn called me to Kaitlyn's room for this view. It was snowing on the way home last night and when I went to bed, but I never expected this! If you want to see more pictures of the snow - check out the December 2008 album by clicking on my "web album" link in the left hand sidebar. Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin'? In the lane snow is glistenin'. A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.

Showcasing My Special Talents

A friend shared a link on their Facebook to a website called Small Town Papers where you can search for your name or the names of people you know. Interesting stuff. I found this clipping for the shorthand award that I received in 12th grade. I loved shorthand - and exceeded anyone's expectations. If you notice below my name, I got an award for 80 words per minute as a first year student - and only a few second year students were even getting 60 words per minute awards. It was just something that came naturally, and before the year was over, I received the 90 wpm award. It's always nice to be good at something. (Yes, I can still do it to this day!)

09 December 2008

Prayers Please

I am enduring one of the most intense personal conflicts ever - and I am not sure how to handle it. I want to blog about it so badly but this would hurt more than one other person, some of whom I care about deeply. I am ready to give up. It is all too difficult. I could use some prayers.

What Christmas Character Are You?

I saw this on my friend, Donna's blog - seemed like fun. Which character are you? Be sure to come back and let me know -
Which Christmas Character Are You?


OK, so maybe you won't go down in history for having a glowing nose or being heckled by the reindeer gang (thank goodness), but like your Christmas counterpart, you're a good friend who'll stick with the people you love through thick and thin.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests

08 December 2008

I Miss You

Yep - I have been absent from my blog a bit in the last week or so. My computer crashed and we had to send it packing - literally to HP so they could replace the motherboard. This happened after Travis and I did much hair-pulling (our own hair, not each other's) trying to troubleshoot the issue with technical support.
Life has been a whirlwind. I have been working about 20-25 hours a week. I still like my job, but I get home late a lot of nights. Travis and I have been spending much more time together - which is excellent - but also means I have less time to blog.
Just wanted you to know, my dear bloggy buddies, that although I may not be posting much - it is because life is offering me many opportunities to live outside the blog for now. I do miss you and hope to catch up with each of you very soon.

02 December 2008

Cashier Observations

Being a cashier offers many opportunities to observe human behavior. I am given lots of material for future writing, but sadly will likely forget it all since I actually have to run the cash register and can't sit there with my spiral notebook and jot it all down.
I wonder at people. They are so funny, and strange and interesting. It is a fascinating job, really. It appears that I have been broken in - and it no longer makes my back go into wrenching spasms. The big toe I was sure would fall off my first week from agony of de feet (get it?) has stopped throbbing. The teenagers that I work with find great joy in making infinitely repulsive fart sounds by burping the floam that is left at their registers and help me to remember what it was like to be young and carefree.
Sometimes I feel sad, like the lady that stood in line the whole time I was ringing up her stuff and fretting that her husband was going to kill her because he told her to only spend $5, and meant it. There was also the child who was whining about something or other whose father continued to say "shut up" in a voice that was louder and more demeaning each time.
But, overall, people are precious. From newlyweds to the little old lady with Texas sized hair that likely has a squirrel living in it - I get to meet a myriad of new people every day.
Jesus died for each of them. That has to count for something.
Beautiful, precious people. We share the bond of humanity. If I can make their day better for just the moment that they cross my path, then it is a day well done.