Monday, January 30, 2012

Poetry meditation.

As evidenced in my previous posts, music means a lot to me.  I find peace in music.

I also find solace through writing, and reading the writing of others.  I love writing that comes from the heart.  Other than personal journals, I think poetry is the most heartfelt writing.  Today, as I tend to the mundane, day-to-day activities of a housewife/teacher-mom, I will be meditating on this poem by Longfellow.  As I thumbed through a poetry book early today this piece jumped out at me.  It really hit me and I can't get it out of my mind.

Loss And Gain
When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Daddy made me toy!"

...that's what Punky said when she remembered the toy her daddy made last night!

Last week at book club, one of our friends brought some cute, homemade toys.  Her daughter received them from an aunt...what a great idea!  All of the kiddos in attendance enjoyed playing with them.  I knew we had supplies at home to make one of the toys for Punky.  Perfect for sensory play and fine motor fun!

I keep craft supplies in my craft cupboard in old, repurposed containers.  I love the trail mix containers from Target for feathers, ribbon, pom pom balls, beads, etc.  I figured we could let Punky have the one with pom pom balls as a toy, but still use the balls out of it every now and then when we are crafting.  I can easily replace the pom poms, and there's a place to tuck this out of sight when she tires of it (and then I can pull it back out later, good as new!).

My hubby, who sometimes flinches when I mention a project but never says no, happily obliged when I asked him to work on this.  I am sure I could have drilled the holes myself, but I was working on a kitchen project (a.k.a. dinner).  I asked him to make the holes big enough that she could easily push the pom poms thru, but not so big that she could just drop them in.  I want her to use her little pinchers and pointers, after all.  After he realized he didn't have the right size drill bit, he decided to improvise a little.  After drilling he used a lighter to clean the edges.

Now we have the perfect toy.  All we're lacking is a little decoration to cover the trail mix label, which I'm sure Punky will help with after rest time!

After pushing all of the pom poms in, Punky tried to shake them out like a salt shaker.  I showed her how to twist the lid off.  She's still twisting back and forth (without making progress) so just before she showed signs of great frustration I helped her remove the lid.  She loves dumping the pom poms out to make it rain.  Then, the container becomes a robot head, mask, shoes, etc.  This toy is so much fun wrapped up in one container!

Thanks to my friend for sharing these ideas.  I'm still working on the others!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Friday, January 20, 2012

Straight Hair/Curly Hair (Day 2)

Day two.  I entered this day with much trepidation.  My kids were reluctant.  They asked all evening (yesterday) if we would do the same thing, in reverse, the next day.  I declined to answer.  I didn't want to deal with the rebellion.

I knew Belle would have a problem.  She just doesn't tolerate mistreatment.  Period.  This is the girl that wants to let the *skwerls* keep living in our attic because she doesn't want them to be hurt.  She wants to take care of them.  She would either be so upset and cry, or she would rebel.  I was right.

Sunshine, my straight hair girl, was a superior kiddo today.  She initially asked to sit at the kitchen table.  Again, we insisted they move to a more comfortable location.  She sat in the living room with J's 7 yr old. They worked, they took breaks, they got the same special treatment our curly kids got yesterday.  And they enjoyed it, all while feeling guilty and wanting to share with their siblings/friends.

Belle sat at the kitchen table and worked.  She was grumpy.  She was resentful.  She was sassy.  She talked back, smarted off, and tried to sound tough.  She was protecting herself.  She was putting up a wall so that nobody could see her true hurt.  She was trying to make us think that we weren't fazing her, that she enjoyed her day just as much.  At snack time, she pretended to be happy with the cheese and crackers.  She didn't want us to know how she really felt.  A couple of times I told her she had gone too far.  And my heart ached.

Again, my precious child felt like I was mistreating her.  And I was, but it was my role.  I pulled back.  J and I were sitting at a separate table in the adjoining room and both said, almost at the same time, that we knew we weren't being as hard on the kids today as we had yesterday.  We knew it hurt them, because we knew it hurt us, because we felt like they had all learned enough yesterday.  But we kept on, because we wanted to make sure that the superior kids really felt what it was to be held in higher esteem, given more privileges.  We wanted to make sure they knew that even though it may look good, it doesn't feel that way.

We ended the day by watching YouTube videos of the original 1960s experiment.  We followed it with a great discussion and talked about several points that J & I thought were valuable:

-Although not quite as rampant in years past, there is still a lot of racial discrimination today, even within our community and in our circles.  We may not realize immediately, but it is happening.  

-Discrimination isn't always based on the color of our skin.  There are many variables.  

-A not so subtle reminder that what makes a person is the **content of their character**


Later in the evening, during dinner, I noticed that Belle was still treating me with resent and hurt.  She was wavering, going in and out of this need to protect herself and wanting to believe it was just a game.  She's only 8.  My little girl with unfailing compassion, who wants nothing more than to help people in need.  And I hurt her.

My heart was aching as I held her close last night at bedtime and reminded her that we played a game.  That there was nothing about her that made me even begin to think she was inferior.  Then I reminded her of her gifts...compassion & spirit, the ability to love unconditionally, the ability to forgive, the ability to be a good addition to the other things that I don't think are trivial but have nothing to really do with her heart...her intelligence, her athleticism, etc.  I didn't even try to hold back the tears.


My personal reflections...

Would I do it again?  I'm not sure.  Do I regret doing it?  Not entirely.  Was it one of the most difficult teaching assignments I've ever had?  Absolutely.  Do I think it would have been easier with someone else's kids?  Definitely not.

My dad (Hi, Dad!) tells me often that D & I are strict.  I like to think that's because he's protective of his grandkids, who have no faults in his eyes.  <3  Our discussions about this have led to conversations with D about our parenting.  Not because I question our roles or the way we are raising our kids, but because I wonder about the lasting effects my parenting will have on our sweeties.  We have come to the realization that while we are consistent with our limits and attempt to keep some semblance of structure, we are far from military-strict.  We do not demean and belittle our kids.  We work hard to build them up, to inspire confidence, to foster independence.  In order to discriminate against my own children, or any child, I would have to go against everything I believe helps a child learn and thrive.


More valuable information:

YouTube videos

Lesson that J found that inspired this project.

The Martin Luther King, Jr Research and Education Institute

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Curly Hair/Straight Hair (Day 1)

Yesterday, while I was prepping lunch, my friend J called.  She's a fellow homeschooler and our families have enjoyed lots of fun times together.  She wanted to know if I'd ever heard of the Blue Eye/Brown Eye experiment or Jane Elliot.  It sounded the tiniest bit familiar, but not enough that I felt confident saying yes.  She explained it to me and gave me some of the details.  Then she asked if we wanted to participate in a similar experiment.  I immediately said, "Yes!"

We worked out some details, discussed some ideas, and set a time for this morning.  Then, my day got crazy and she went on planning, researching, and emailing me great background information.

And then I started thinking about it.  Really thinking.  Hubby and I discussed it.  We were both slightly reluctant.  Did I want to do this?  How would my kids react?  My kids are sweet, sensitive and compassionate.  They are tender-hearted.  They love unconditionally.  They don't discriminate.  They know better.  But do they really *get* it?

That's why I didn't call J and tell her I changed my mind.  Instead, I went ahead and made discriminatory signs for the bathroom door and the "water fountain" (a.k.a. fridge).  We thought of ideas to make the superior kids stand out vs. the inferior kids.  I practiced what would be appropriate, decided how far would be *too far* with the kids.  And worried.


Before our friends arrived, I decided to give my kiddos some background information.  I read MLK's "I have a dream..." speech.  We talked about what they knew (through books and movies) about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  They both said they just didn't understand, couldn't figure out why things like skin color could cause such a divide.  Again, I worried.

Sunshine is an introvert.  She is MY sunshine.  She's a sweetheart to the core, but she holds back until she's sure.  She wears her heart on her sleeve.  She has a precious temperament and is thoughtful and caring.  And she's a follower (but we're working on that!).

Belle is an extrovert.  She can be shy and reserved, but she makes friends easily just about anywhere she goes.  She's sarcastic (huh, where does she get that?) and loves to make people smile.  She is exuberant and full of spunk.  And she's a leader, she doesn't give in or give up easily.


This morning we let the kids stay in their pajamas til the start of school (this is a common occurrence, but when we have company over they usually get dressed).  J's kids showed up in pj's, too (well, her son decided against the pajamas, but her daughter was wearing them).

We had a brief recap, explained a little more to the kids about discrimination and what that means.  Then, we told them that everything we were doing today was a game, pretend play, and that we were all just actors.  Except the school/learning part.  That was really happening.

Then, we told them just as Ms. Elliot told her students in 1968 Iowa, that we learned something about the kids in our class.  We told them that curly hair kids are smarter than straight hair kids.  They looked confused but quickly figured it out.  Then, we told the straight hair kids (my Sunshine and J's 7 yr old) that they had to sit at the kitchen table to do their work.  The curly hair kids were allowed to work wherever they felt most comfortable.  Both of them said they wanted to sit at the kitchen table with the straight hair kids.  We insisted that they choose another spot.  With much reluctance, J's 9 year old chose the couch (our coffee table pulls up to a work table) and Belle sat in the recliner.  They worked for a while, but it was obvious the "superior" kids felt uncomfortable being fawned over, while the "inferior" kids were feeling just that...inferior.  J and I felt so horrible in our roles.

At snack time, the "superior" kids had ice cream cups and were allowed to watch t.v. and chit chat.  The "inferior" kids had cheese and crackers at the kitchen table.  The kids had more time to do their school work and then we moved to a group activity.  The "superior" kids were allowed to answer and ask questions before the "inferior" kids.  It was at this point that my Sunshine broke.  She did NOT like this and I could see it all over her face.  I knew we only had a little while longer and everyone would be equal again.  I tried to give her a smile of reassurance across the room.  It didn't help, and she was very upset even after we told the kids we were done for the day and sent them out to play on the trampoline.

Sunshine stayed back in the house, locked in the bathroom, upset.  Initially, she wouldn't let me in but I insisted.  We talked about how she was feeling:  "'s not fair, nobody should talk to kids like that..."  "...why would anybody make someone feel bad for something they can't change?"  And then I hugged her and reminded her of all the things I have been teaching her forever, things that I never want her to forget:  She is beautiful.  Beauty comes from within.  Nothing about the way any person looks matters. Character, what REALLY matters, is in her heart.  And she has a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l heart.  And I hugged her some more.

She has fully recovered but will never forget the way she felt.  She'll never forget and she'll never discriminate because she knows that it's unjust.  And it hurts.

Belle was a "superior" kiddo today.  This was a hard role for her, as well.  Her BFF was considered "inferior" and Belle wasn't allowed to talk to her, sit with her, play with her.  She kept trying to go back to the table, sneak a smile, sit with her friend.  She kept saying that she didn't like being treated better than the others, and at one point she physically pulled away from me when I tried to encourage her to go sit in a comfy chair (at which point I had to remind her, out of character, that we were role playing). She was genuinely upset about the situation that I put her in.  After the lesson concluded she was fine, no lingering emotions based on being given special treatment.  But I know it made an impact, and will even more so when she's labeled "inferior."


Sunshine's journal entry after the lesson today: (written in anger, which I know because she used her "I'M FURIOUS" handwriting)

I felt terrible, like no one cared about me or my education.  It was not fun at all.  I can imagine what it would have been like for the African Americans in the 1960's.  I feel bad for them.  I also felt that it was silly to make such a fuss over hair.  It made me feel like I should hate myself, that I was not special in any way.  

Belle's journal entry after the lesson today:

I felt like I was Miss Popularity.  I got everything I wanted. I felt guilty because I got to do my school work in Moma's room.  Plus, I got ice cream for snack and they got cheese & crackers.  I also loved that after (it was over) I was actually normal.


Tomorrow is another day in our experiment.  Things will change.  The kids don't know if we're doing the same thing with reversed roles (though they suspect that's the plan) but they do know it's related to this.  Am I still worried?  Yes.  I am worried because Belle is extremely sensitive, even more than Sunshine.  My hope is that she sees this is a 2 hour segment of her life and it will come to an end.  But in the meantime, she will gain an experience that she'll never forget.

More to come...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Punky's First Haircut

I have been thinking for a while that Punky needed a haircut. It was really wispy at the bottom. I knew that if we got it evened up it would look healthier. It was just a matter of me being ready to accept that she was old enough to need one.

Belle didn't get her first official haircut until she was 3.5. I guess I was hoping to delay this time, too. Belle's hair was full of curl at that age, though. It didn't look quite like a mullet, like Punky's. ;)

We decided to go to the kid salon so Punky could sit in a cool car and watch a movie. That is probably the only way we made this happen. She watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She LOVES Mickey & friends. I honestly don't think she cared what they did, as long as she could see the t.v. The stylist cut a very minimal amount of hair but it really does make a difference!

Before & After:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fun Friday!

When we're not going crazy to keep up with our calendar, we try to take Friday off from most traditional "school work" and have a FUN day!  The girls still complete math lessons (on the computer, takes about 30 minutes each) and can choose to read or write while the other is working.  After we get that behind us we're ready for fun!  Some weeks we'll plan a special field trip, last week we met up with the Trail Explorers, sometimes it's a fun activity or a project, a new craft, cooking/baking day, etc.  We live for Fun Friday!

This week, taking my cue from my favorite t.v. show, Modern Family, we decided to try our hand at an egg drop activity.  I didn't give the girls any rules except to use something out of the recycle bin.  And no craft supplies (this was after Sunshine pilfered a pipe cleaner chenille stem).

I told them they could work together or independently.  Sunshine wanted to work alone, Belle wanted a partner.  I suggested she work with Daddy.  This gave her a bit of an unfair advantage since he has a tad bit of background knowledge regarding aerodynamics and float.  I decided to even the playing field I'd offer Sunshine some tips, or at the very least, ask her some pointed questions.  After all, I really wanted her to use critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Belle and Daddy designed a helicopter-like propellor to affix to a hot air balloon type basket.  It was interesting, and I was a doubter.  ;)
Click to view larger photos.

It didn't take long and Sunshine had retrieved a plastic container and a pipe cleaner.  She had a plan in mind and was ready for her first test.
Click to view larger photos.

While the girls were working on their project, Punky had a project of her own.  She was playing in the corn meal.  She kept calling it her sand box.  She really enjoyed running her fingers through it, filling her spoons, and making a mess!
Click to view larger photos.

After the egg contraptions were tested (and I've been assured there will be more building and testing) we decided to make dessert on the trampoline.  I poured a box of pudding mix into a quart size bag, added the milk and zipped it carefully.  Then, I placed the bag inside another, and then inside another.  The kids were out jumping on the trampoline, so I gave them the bag.  They each took turns jumping to mix the pudding.  Within minutes we had dessert!  Yummo!
Click to view larger photos.

Pipe Cleaner Play

Our sweet Punky loves sensory play. I pulled out some old notebooks to find lists of sensory activities I've used in the past. This was one that I hadn't done in a long while. Pipe cleaners! In the past when I've used pipe cleaners for sensory play, we used small sections of peg board for the kids to push the pipe cleaners through. I don't have peg board at my house, but I have colanders in the kitchen. What fun!!

This was after Punky missed a nap, so she lost interest quickly. However, as you can see in the pics, her siblings and kitties enjoyed the new toy, too!

Sensory play that develops fine motor muscles at the same time!
Click to view larger photos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A walk in the woods

Friday we were supposed to meet our homeschool friends at the hiking area near a local lake for a new group that is starting up:  Trail Explorers!  Some things came up that morning so we were running a bit behind, but we didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to soak up some beautiful winter sunshine!  When we arrived we did not have a map since we were supposed to be part of a group, but they had already started along the trail.  We started walking and quickly figured out we were not on the trail.  It was still fun and we snapped a few pics.  Then, I downloaded a trail guide app (crazy technology) and found the real trailhead.  We ventured to the actual starting point and had a great time!  The distance is 2.2 miles, so we stopped at one point for a picnic lunch.

We all enjoyed it, and learned a lot!  We talked about the animals that might live in that habitat, the reason wetlands are necessary, looked for animal tracks, found spiders, identified some common birds, tried to call the ducks, discussed what animals may have left different types of droppings along the trail...and so much more!

The fresh air and sunshine felt great...we can't wait to go again!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm not *just* a homeschooler...

First and foremost...a huge thank you to my sweet friend for sending me a copy of this post.  I accidentally deleted it while trying to edit, and she still had it in her blog reader.  I really want it to be part of my journal and was not looking forward to trying to recreate it!  Thank you, V!!!  

I would like to preface this post by reiterating that this blog is my personal journal.  It is a way for me to keep a record of what happens in my family, what I'm feeling at any given time, and often my virtual soapbox.  Avert your eyes for the remainder of this post if you choose to avoid my soapbox rant.  It's okay, you won't hurt my feelings.  If you choose to read on, you can laugh at me or with me. 

I am a homeschooler.  Surprise!  Oh wait, you knew that already?  Well, I am.  And if you've read this before you know that I'm not usually at *home* when I'm *schooling*.  Well, until this year.  But that's old news.  ツ 

This afternoon we had a Brownie meeting at our house.  After the meeting one of my co-leaders and I were chatting and I started to write this post (in my mind).  This evening, during a long conversation with my hubby, I continued writing this post (in my mind).  Now, I sit here staring at a grey screen, and my mind is blank.  Can I undo the delete?  ctrl+z...did it work?

Here we go...SOAPBOX WARNING...if you're offended by this then I may be talking about you...  (borrowed that one from my friend)

I take homeschooling my kids very seriously.  I mean, come on, I only have one chance at this.  I don't wanna mess this up.  There's always therapy (which I wholeheartedly support) but with that comes resentment and a whole lotta bills.  It would be best if we could avoid that.  I do take my job seriously.  I am, first and foremost, a wife.  But to be a wife in this family, I also have to be a mom.  I love being a mom.  Better yet, I love being a homeschooling mom.  I work my tail off.  But I don't think people see that.

You know that saying that you shouldn't take your work home with you?  Homeschoolers laugh at that.  Our work is our home.  We never stop.  It is virtually impossible for me to just do something without thinking about what my kids can or will learn.  For example, last week we went on a hike through the wetlands near a local lake.  We could have just walked the trail, crunched some leaves, marveled at the beauty of our surroundings.  Did we?  Nope!  There were so many lessons in the wetlands:  golden algae blooms, seed pods growing out of the water, scat to study, footprints to discover and identify, survival skills to discuss, et cetera. 

And you know what?  That's okay.  It's my job and I love it.  Do I get tired of it?  Occasionally.  Do I wish I could stop?  Sometimes.  Is it what I live for?  Pretty much.  I'm not complaining.  I promise!

Now I'll complain:  What I'll never understand is how and why people don't understand that it is a job.  I'm not "playing school" with my kids.  I am educating them.  My job, teaching my classroom of 3, is just as important as your job.  Yep, Mr. President, I'm talking to you, too. 

You see, someday MY kid could change the world.  Remember the ripples from the pebble?  Remember how those ripples are far reaching across the entire pond?  I tossed that one pebble...  Remember that what one person does affects everyone around them?  The entire community?

Belle wants to be president.  Funny story, actually.  She asked me one day who mows the grass on the side of the highway.  At that moment we were on an interstate highway, so I explained that the federal government is responsible for interstate maintenance and upkeep.  This led to a discussion of levels of government, and she deduced from that entire lesson conversation that the president hires the people who mow the grass.  Now she wants to be president.  I love that kid!

Back to my point.  If I'm raising a future Madame President, well, that's a huge amount of pressure.  So my ultimate reason for telling you this is that my job is just as important as the next guy. 

Yeah, some days I do it in my pajamas.  Jealous?  Sorry.  Some days I do it at the library.  Or a museum.  Or by watching YouTube videos.  Or by playing games.  Or curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket.  But it's important.  It's my job, and I take it very seriously. 

My schedule is flexible. ...and I still have 9 million things to do in any given day (most include feeding, dishes and laundry).   It has been assumed, many times, that I can drop everything to help others out of a lurch because I'm *just* a homeschooler.  Uh huh.  Well, if your lurch is serious or there is an emergency situation, then I'll help you out. I love being able to help friends in need, because I've been in need and I know how it feels to be helped (a meal, a cleaning, a ride for a kiddo, etc).  I also believe what goes around, comes around (good and bad). 

I don't have weekends off.  I try.  I'll tell my hubby that we're going to take a few days and just have fun.  No learning involved.  Uh huh.  Right.  I'm NOT good at that.  What I'm good at is hiding new experiences, teachable moments, inside of fun activities.  It's like a two-fer-one deal.  Fun and learning all in one!  (I'm also good at helping others figure out what their kids learned by watching a certain movie or performing a certain task...just FYI in case you need help validating something in your own mind...hehe). 

It's all on me (a lot of time time).  My hubby is awesome.  He never misses a beat.  When he's home he jumps right back in, teaching and learning with the girls.  He sends me out as often as possible so I can feel refreshed.  He keeps us all grounded, but he's also gone a lot.  When he's gone I feel a tremendous amount of pressure.  People assume that because I'm happily married my life is just peachy, and it really is.  However, I do feel a lot of stress being the primary caregiver for these kiddos, without a break, for long periods of time.  Yesterday I cleaned my bathroom because I knew nobody would come and bug me lest I may suggest they help.  ツ 

All of this to get to my one main point:  please don't treat me as though I'm *JUST* a homeschooler.  My time is valuable as a wife, mom, and teacher.  When my kids go to bed at night I go to the kitchen table and plan for the next day or sit down at my computer to send emails to those I work with in various volunteer roles (all of which are chosen and agreed to because they help our family and our community).  When I wake up in the morning my goal is to get everyone through morning routines so we can start our day, get to our first activity or sit on the couch and read together.  But everything I do as a homeschooling mom is just as legit as everything you do at your job.  Well, except the pajamas.  

There's a fine line...

It's been an introspective day.  I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about something going on in my personal life and how to deal with it.  I am an adult, I cannot hide from conflict, but I'd rather just ignore it until it's buried.  It's been a month since this situation reared its ugly head (again).

My inner self is in turmoil.  I have to figure out the balance, where is the fine line?  And when is it okay to cross?  When is it okay to speak the truth, even knowing that the truth will really hurt someone?  Is it okay if you know it will be better for your family?  Is it okay even though someone will be hurt, relationships will certainly suffer, in the process?  Is it okay if it will take a long time, maybe forever, for these relationships to heal?

Oh, and I did publish a post earlier today and then accidentally deleted it.  Maybe it was karma, but it was one of my favorite posts.  It was so true to me and how I feel, not worried about being funny or too serious, just all me.  I am so bummed that I messed it up by trying to add a title.  I guess I will try to recreate it at a later date, when I'm not so peeved with myself.  Maybe.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

"We go together like..."

My kids sometimes ask who my best friend is.  Their daddy is my best friend.  They know that, and they giggle when I say it again, but I think they just like to hear it.

For many years I was a quiet person.  I didn't exude confidence or have an outgoing personality.  Motherhood changed that about me.  I learned early on that I needed to make myself more approachable because it would benefit my daughter.  Motherhood helped me overcome that shyness.  In fact, many of my friends would laugh if I told them I was quiet in my pre-mom life.

We've moved a lot over the past 10 years, and I've been fortunate to make new friends in each location.  When we move I'm so sad to leave my friends behind.  Initially, it feels like I'm all alone and I won't ever meet another person that I can connect with.  Sometimes it is very difficult.  These periods of time bring me closer to my husband and my family.  Eventually, we make friends and move on, but I never forget how much my "old" friendships mean to me.

Over the past few months I've really missed my "old" friends.  For a few years, each winter we would all attend a church retreat.  It was always an amazing weekend.  We left there feeling closer and refreshed.  We haven't had the retreat for a couple of years and I guess I'm really starting to miss miss my friends.  To miss feeling grounded, ready to take on the world.  I need that refreshing weekend again.

Lighten up!

It's time to lighten the mood a little.  I'm the kind of person who likes lots of humor and fun, with serious moments now and then.  So I'm going to get back to fun for a while.  :) 

One of my friends posed this question on Facebook last week:   How important are the lyrics of a song to you? 

If you know me, you know they're important.  I love good music.  I love music that has a good, steady beat for workouts, cleaning, anything that I need to keep motivated.  I love slow, soulful music when I'm feeling contemplative, having a long day, just need to be inside my own head (which can be scary, so maybe the Jaws theme would be most appropriate).  

I'll be honest, I've always been proud of my eclectic playlist.  I've enjoyed the look of surprise when people scroll through and see my selections. 
I grew up on country.  I remember riding in the front seat, middle, of Dad's truck and listening to Reba.  And then I became a tween (back when tween wasn't a word) and rebelled.  Bring on some Timmy T, Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, George Michael, Debbie Gibson.  Yep, I was a wild one!  ;)  

Different moods, different days, different situations...different music.   

Just for fun, and since this is basically my journal and someday my kids can read this and roll their eyes at how lame I am/was, I'm going to share what topped my 2011 playlist.   

In no particular order: 
1.  Theory of a Deadman
2.  Matt Cardle
3.  Gavin Degraw
4.  Christina Perri
5.  Rihanna (love the song, not so much the video)
6.  Revive
7.  Miranda Lambert
8.  Phil Pritchett  (He landed on my playlist in college, and has never left.  LOVE everything by him.)
9.  Pat Green (Another one deeply rooted from my college days.)
10.  David Cook 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Two songs, one resolution.

Grandpa playing Belle's guitar, 12/10
A few years back, we took my grandpa to see a Dolly Parton concert.  She was one of his favorites.  He remembered her when she was a local girl, singing on the small stage.  I'm pretty sure that the entire time she was singing that night, on that big stage, he just *knew* she was singing right to him.  He smiled the entire time.  We all did.  After that concert I downloaded her latest album, not so much because I would listen to it regularly, but I knew that when I listened to her music I would think of him.  And I do.  Seven months ago, Grandpa's time on this earth ended.  When I need to feel him I listen to Dolly.  Our Dolly.  

Today, as I was traveling the never ending sidewalk (treadmill), my favorite song from that album came on.  It fits.  It isn't the most up tempo workout song, but it's upbeat and keeps me moving.  Keeps me motivated.  But today I listened to every.single.word.  That's when I realized it fit my resolution.  It's song one:   Better Get to Livin'

I learned a lot about myself in 2011.  I learned that I'm stronger than I ever imagined.  I learned that what I thought I wanted isn't what I really want.  I learned that I am nothing without my husband and my family.  I never imagined my life would be this way.  I learned I wouldn't change it for anything.

I also learned things that hurt.  I learned that people I thought were friends really aren't.  I learned that people I thought were just acquaintances are really friends.  I learned that people will hurt my kids, and I can't control that, but I can help my kids grow into stronger young ladies and learn from the mistakes of others.  I learned to be okay with people not liking me, I learned that I can't please everyone, and making other people happy isn't the most important thing I will do each day.  I learned that time passes, people do change...and come and go, and life goes on.  It goes on whether you want it to or not.  And one day you wake up and wonder where in the world the last two years have gone...the last eight...the last 11...  I woke up one day and wondered where in the world the time has gone.  It's easy to go through the motions of each day, but when I stopped to think about it, I was blown away.  In May, 17 years will have passed since I graduated from high school.  In May, D and I mark 13 years since our first date.  Sixteen and a half years ago I thought I knew it all.  Obviously, I'm still learning, and have a lot more to learn.  

Back to the treadmill...  The very next song on my playlist (which was set to shuffle) was the song that really inspired my resolution.  I have been thinking about the realistic changes I want to make in my life.  I've started implementing the most important change.  I'm purging.  Yes, I'm purging things from my home.  Junk, clutter, things that take up space and waste my time.  I'm purging from the pantry.  It's that time of year that we are way overstocked on candy and sweets.  Cleaning out the pantry is like therapy for me.  I'm purging the calendar.  Yep.  That's my bottom line.  Why?  Watch this:  Blink

I want to give my kids the world.  I want to show them, teach them, provide countless opportunities for learning, growing, changing, and becoming the most amazing young ladies possible.  But I'm going about it the wrong way.  Or I was.  We joined a homeschool group.  We signed up for activity after activity.  We joined a playgroup.  We joined a mom's club.  We had 2-3+ things a day.  We had gymnastics, soccer, martial arts, piano lessons, book clubs, co-op, movie nights, storytime, ...the list goes on and on.  One day my neighbor asked why we call it **home** schooling.  I laughed.  But now his question resonates within me.

Breaking it down, home is where your family is.  I know I can **home** school my kids in the car, in line at the grocery store, at Momo's house, in Texas or Indiana, on the moon.  Wherever, whenever, I get it.  Teachable moments aren't limited to the confines of our home.  But all of the activities and time in the car can distract from real learning and real living.  At least in our family.  The rush to get from one place to the next.  The stress of drop-off/pick-up details on the calendar, who is going to eat dinner at what time and who can run this kid to this activity while the other picks up that kid and runs to the store.  I get it...almost every single family does the same thing.  But I don't want to.  Not anymore.

Why?  Because it happens in a blink.  So cliché, right?  But it's true.  After all, that's what makes it a cliché.  Time is fleeting, and when the weeks are piled high with calendar entries, it flies even faster.  I used to think that was a good thing.  Let's get through this stage so we can be out of diapers.  Let's get through this stage so we can take the training wheels off.  Let's get through so we can be out of carseats/booster seats/high chairs.  But look where we are now.

I want nothing more than to lay on the floor and do puzzles with my chubby fingered blondie.  But she's almost 12 and her fingers are long and slender, her cheeks aren't chubby, and she's not two anymore.  The first brown-eyed girl, who loved her time as my little sidekick, when Sunshine was still in school and our days stretched full of endless adventures.  Lately, our days are full of pre-planned obligations that leave little time for true living.

Yes, I have a 2 year old full of little kidlet fun, but there are so many memories, moments that I want to relive, and I can't.  I will not hear her squeaky newborn sounds, see her tiny hand grasping the cereal from her tray or the pride when she learns to get the spoon...with food on it...all the way into her mouth.

There is nothing I can do to turn back time.  I can't relive these moments except in memories, which I cherish.  But I can slow down now.  I can really LIVE each moment.  I can cherish things as they happen.

Counting every moment in 2012...and making every moment count.

Monday, January 02, 2012


That's me.  That's how I'm feeling.

When I look around at my life, I realize I should be content.  I'm not.

I'm restless.

Fifteen years ago, if you walked up and told me, "In 15 years you will be married to a traveling husband, have 3 home schooled kids, and live in suburbia," I probably would have laughed in your face.

Ten years ago, if you walked up and said, "When you finish this school year, you won't come back to teach for at least ten years," I would have laughed in your face.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my husband.  I love my kids., it's not all bad, but it's not for me.  And I'm restless.

I grew up in a different place.  I grew up where it was quiet.  At night we heard coyotes, not sirens.  If a car drove by our house, we knew who it was and where they were going.  We waved.  We smiled.  We made small talk not out of obligation, but because we cared.  We played outside in open spaces.  We didn't worry about crossing into the neighbor's yard and upsetting anyone (That has not happened to us.  We do like our neighbors, fortunately!).  We climbed trees...BIG trees, trees that had stories to tell.  We explored the woods beside our childhood home.  We made up games, used our imagination, pretended we were in a different time and place.  We were free.  We got up in the morning and went outside, came in for lunch, went back out, came in for dinner and sleep.  Next day: same song.

As is typical with most kids, I didn't realize how awesome my life was.  I wanted something different.  I wanted to live in town.

Can you go home again?