Saturday, October 25, 2014

Living out my childhood dream

Growing up, I wanted to be only one thing -- a teacher -- preferably a math teacher. :)  I was the kid that always took the extra worksheets that the teacher was going to throw out at the end of the year home with me.  I had piles and piles of old worksheets and scholastic order forms.  I would go down into my parent's basement and lay them out on the floor for my invisible class room to work on.  I would tell the talkers to quiet down and separate them if necessary.  I was certain that I was going to teach real children some day.

Then in high school my mind was changed.  I really did not want it to be changed but it was.  My mom went to the parent-teacher conferences at our school.  My Algebra II teacher told my mom that letting me become a teacher (even a math teacher) would be a waste.  He told her I should look into being an engineer.  While this is flattering it did not take into account my life long dream!  And isn't that implying that you can have too much to give to children?  Anyway, I took the advice. I went to college thinking I was going to have a degree in Physics.  That lasted all of one semester.  Instead I came out and became a software engineer.  I liked my work but I never truly loved it.  Sure there were parts I loved, but on a whole I always felt like there was a part missing.

Then I had my daughter and made the decision to stay home her.  I just could not imagine having anyone else care for my little one and I was blessed to be able to stay home with her. When she was two I started to wonder what we were going to do for her in terms of school.  I was not fond of the local school district and while we were able to keep me at home, I was not sure that we would be able to send the children to a private school.  So we began to investigate homeschooling.  Yes, while she was still 2 and we had no other children (well there was one on the way...) I went to my first homeschooling convention and we decided that our children would be homeschooled.

Upon making that decision, I began to live the dream I had always had -- to be a teacher!  I never thought it would be this way.  I never thought it would actually be in my house as it had been as a child.  I never knew that it would be with students that I love so intensely.  God brought me to my dream in a way I had NEVER imagined.  Isn't that how he works?  Using the least likely way to do things to show his glory to the world?  I mean just look at Paul-- killing the Christians and then finally becoming one himself to the point to persecution like many of us have never experienced in our lives!

I often wondered about the comment the teacher made to my mom about it "being a waste" and have often thought how ridiculous it is.  I mean if you have a passion to teach and you love it and are good at the subject you are teaching doesn't that make it so you would be a GOOD teacher?  I often wondered how many children would have been happy to have me as a teacher... but then I step back and say "NO".  If I had followed my dream straight out of college I am not sure I would have stayed home with MY children.  I might have enjoyed the work so much that I would have kept teaching and then I would not be so blessed to be here encouraging my own children every step of the way.  So, I have finally decided to thank Mr. Beeler, wherever he is.  Ha!  Actually it was all through God using him to veer me off my course.  I love teaching my kids (even on the hard days) and teaching children via the co-op.  Even teaching the children via 4-H is a pleasure.

So, there you have it.  God brings you to your destinations in life but often the path to get there is not the one you imagine. I could have used so many examples in my life of other ways this has happened but this one is the most clear cut.  His hand is in all I do!  I am so very grateful for the opportunities I have been given.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Leaving your comfort zone can be good for you (and those around you)

Those who know me -- I mean truly know me -- know that I will do things out of the ordinary.  That is why I am the one who taught a class in our homeschool group that spent all kinds of time talking about vomit, diarrhea and urine.  Sometimes finding wacky ways to do things helps students remember things better.  Talking about vomit and diarrhea would not normally be on the top of this germaphobe's list of things to do, however, the students really did seem to learn the digestive system after I taught this way.  But, while those are not necessarily the most fun topics to spend your time talking about, for me that was only mildly outside my comfort zone.  (Making me clean up those substances would have been drastically different!)

Last year we started the school year the same as we did the years before.  I was excited, I love new books -- I love to smell them, I love to look at them and I love to read them.  But there was this underlying "mood" in the house and no one was happy.  I loved the curriculum I was using, it all made sense to me, but the tears were too frequent.  The phone calls to the "principal" were too frequent.  The constant justifying to my kids what we were doing was too frequent.  (On an aside, I must note that I did not use parts of the curriculum that might have been more interesting for the kids but I felt like there was no time for it and that stressed ME!)

Enter December 2013 -- I had had ENOUGH!  I just felt like I could not do one more day of school like this.  I know that homeschooling is not perfect.  There are hard days and there are VERY hard days but I felt inside that there were not enough good days.  Not enough looking forward to learning something...ANYTHING.  I felt like the love of learning was being sucked out of my children.  They wanted to be done ASAP (some of this is just how children are but in this case they looked forward to NOTHING about school).  So, I made a decision... a decision that is enough out of the comfort zone that I almost did not want to tell any of the women around me.  I threw out the curriculum I was using and switched at the beginning of December. That's right I switched curriculum mid-year!!  Now you have to understand, I am a planner.  I don't like having all my plans thrown out and having to start over and here I was doing it to myself!

I purchased a used teacher manual on eBay and started to find the books.  The price was mounting and I was terrified that this was a bad choice -- I had not sold the old curriculum yet since I felt I needed a "safety net".  But, God in his mercy, provided me with a dear friend who allowed me to borrow all the books I needed because she was not using that set this year.  Armed and ready to go we started again in January.  The first day went great.  I was afraid to be excited because, well it was the first day!   But as the days went on I noticed less tears.  The principal noticed less phone calls.  The kids started asking me to continue on with some of the lessons -- REALLY they did not want me to stop!  Some subjects were a little hard but this is SCHOOL after all! :D

The hardest part of switching mid-year was that at the end of the school year we were not "done" with all curriculum.  In addition to me being a planner, I am also a box checker.  If there is a box in the teacher manual to be checked off, I want to check it!  God had a conversation with me.  He reminded me of how many history books in school had pristine pages at the backs of them.  I learned about Christopher Columbus MANY times but we never made it to JFK at the back of the book.  I had to let it go.  So the last day of school came and I eBay'd the teacher's manual off.  I was free from having to look at those unchecked boxes.

So now we are 5 weeks into 2014-2015 school year and we are still enjoying this new-to-us curriculum.  I am actually kind of sad.  I wanted to use this curriculum when my oldest was in 1st grade but I talked myself out of it... now that she is in 6th grade I feel like I let her down.  She could have enjoyed some of those school years so much more!  Yes, there are still tears -- there always will be those hard days.  But they are SO much less often and usually they do not have to do with the new curriculum but instead the fact that they have to do school in general or their least favorite subject -- MATH, which was not changed.

There are a multitude of other reasons I like this curriculum better -- everything from keeping me off facebook as much as I had been to the one-on-one reading time that I now enjoy with my middle child who I often felt was left out.

So all this rambling is to say that sometimes, you need to leave that comfortable place.  Sometimes we need to take that leap of faith and do things that some people think are crazy.  You never know what you might learn!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day is special

Father's day this is year is special... it is not just Father's Day... it is our 17th wedding anniversary. What makes it extra special this year is that we were married on Father's Day.  Not because I thought anything about the type of father my husband would make but entirely because it is way cheaper to be married on Sunday!! It only happens so many times that our Anniversary is back on Father's Day as it was the day we were married...

So many things have happened in the 17 years since we said our "I do"s.  I would not have thought it possible if you told me that day but I love him so much more than I did that day.  In part, it is because I have learned what love truly is and in part it is because we are totally different people than who we were that day. There are hints and shadows of those two floating around but we are for the most part we are different.  We don't even look the same.  He has lost a lot of hair and for every hair he lost I think I have gained a pound!

As it turns out, he is a wonderful father to our children.  Seeing how very much our children love him makes me love him even more.  They adore their dad.  When he is home all they want is another minute to spend with him.  While that may seem ordinary to you, I find it special.  It was not that way in the house I grew up in and I am so thankful that it is this way for my children.

I know my husband loves us very much.  Not just because he says it.  Not just because he gives us gifts or cards or even spends time with us. No, it is probably the time he does not spend with us that tells me even more how much he loves us.  He works at his job knowing that he is the only income.  I have a degree, I could be bringing in close to what he does.  But yet, he never asks me to work.  He lets me stay home with these children and raise them and teach them.  That is special.  I don't think for one minute that this is a sacrifice to be taken lightly.  Being the sole wage earner in a world of mostly two income families is not an easy task -- add to it the expenses of curriculum and it seems even more stressful.  But in all things God has provided what we need and often more.  I would not change our decision for me to stay home to make life "easier" for us.  I am extremely grateful that we are very blessed to be able to do this (not everyone can).  I just feel that I have to express that I am very grateful that he takes on that responsibility head on and does not ask me to reconsider (even when I offer).

No marriage is without it's hills and valleys but if he asked me to marry him all over again, I would go through every valley with him again (hoping that perhaps I could be a better person in those valleys...) I would celebrate every high with him again.  I am thankful for the 17 years we have had so far and I truly hope we are able to celebrate our 50th, 60th and maybe 75th together with our families -- I will take all the hills and valleys given to us to take on together.  Just being able to take them on together is a special thing -- no small gift!

Happy Anniversary, My Dear, and Happy Father's Day! (Does having our anniversary on Father's Day mean I have to cook? :D)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I let my wild side show

I did it.  I finally did something wild and crazy.  I have always wanted to be a “rebel” but not in a bad way.  I never drank in college until I was drunk (I actually hate the taste of alcohol so I never had more than one period… lol), never smoked ANYTHING except the second-hand smoke I was forced to smoke as a child.  I always wanted a tattoo but am afraid of the pain.  So today I did something that I would not ordinarily do.  Before I tell you what I did… let me tell you a little more why. J

I am a 4H advisor to one of the greatest groups of children around.  My club currently has 40 (yep, that is not a typo 4-0) children in it.  I went to the state convention and I heard another advisor say that she loves all of her kids… that they might as well be an extension of her family.  I agree with that sentiment.  These kids are wonderful and I do view them like a big family to me.  They could come to me for just about anything and I would do my very best to help them.  Recently, we did a fund raiser that not all parents thought would work.  It was a bit of an “experiment” and given we raised over $480 I think we did well!  Sure, we could have made more but I am totally excited about this! 

So, today I went for my MUCH over due hair appointment.  I decided last night that I wanted to be a bit “wild and crazy”.  I wanted to show how proud of these 4H kids I am and I wanted to “bleed green” as was said at the convention.  SOOOOO, I now have green hair.  And we are not talking about that “I am blonde and I swim a lot” look I had in the 80’s – no this is unmistakable, very intentional GREEN! And  NO, not my whole head.  But not in a place you can hide it either.  I kind of wish I had done a tiny bit more but it is fine for now.

So far the reactions I have gotten from parents is: “That is the wash out kind, right?”  Well, the answer is: NOPE.  Yes, it might fade but most likely it will have to be bleached out the next time I go.  I might pick a new color or do more green than I currently have.

Last night when I told my family that I was going to do this my daughter said, “I have one of the craziest and coolest moms!”  She has not seen it yet but I know she is gonna love it.  I don’t know if the 4H students are going to love it too or if they will all think I lost it but that does not matter.  For now, I am bleeding green! J

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I do have to make a side note.  I have only had this in for a few hours and I can feel people looking at me differently.  Even some of the ladies at the hair salon – the one who did my hair is awesome and was totally cool with it.  She loved it when I told her I wanted the green to be thicker!  :D  But I wonder what some of the others think of me.  Do they think I am some renegade parent?  Am I some totally wacko person because I have green hair?  NO!! I am the same God fearing, Jesus Freak I have always been.  Some people may walk further away from me.  Some people may look at me funny but it is giving me a new perspective on how I view people.  We are not supposed to judge on looks and I have always said that but we all do it on some level don’t we?  I wonder as I sit in my big huge “wealthy” church on Sunday what some of the people will think of me?  I wonder if it would make a difference to anyone to know why my hair is green.

In the end, we need to remember how we would like to be viewed if we had green hair to support some kids who did a good job and people looked at us like we grew a third eye.  I often wondered if I would shave my head to support a friend with cancer.  Quick answer as I sit here: ABSOLUTELY!  Let’s face it folks, it is just hair.  I have spent too many days of my life crying over bad hair days.  If my hair looks awful, I am still the same beautiful creation in God’s eyes.  If I am bald it is the same thing.  Yes we are not supposed to do certain things for pagan reasons (I could go into a whole LONG diatribe about that).  So, on one hand the fact that my kid thinks I am cool is not the right reason to do something and I might need to evaluate that but I know in my heart I am God’s.  By His grace, he chose me to be one of his – even if I have green hair.


Right now, I like my green hair – I kind of wish it were like this for St. Patrick’s Day. :D We will have to see what happens when I go again in around 3 months. J

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Energizer Bunny

"Are you related to the Energizer bunny?"  I had that question asked of me a few times this weekend.  I have never thought anything I was doing was that great or special.  Apparently others disagree.  I thought what I was doing was just what all parents do.  In fact, I often feel like I am not doing enough for my children.  I hear these other moms paying for pricey summer camps and extra curriculars and I feel like my kids are missing out on something.  But, I have to remind myself of a few things.  1 -- we are a one income family.  Some of those pricey summer camps are paid for by the second income and because there is not a parent home during the day all summer long.  2 -- my kids are getting things...  swim team, dance class, riding lessons, 4H, classes at the co-op.  It is not like they are hermits.  No they will not be taking the pricey $140 per child swim camp to better their skills and therefore they might not be the best on the team but they do get to be on the team and that is better than nothing, right?

I don't know, for some reason I always feel like my kids are lacking compared to their peers.  But what if it is not that they are lacking, what if they are getting more time with their family and building those relationships that are seemingly dwindling in this country.  Isn't that more important than being able to play a musical instrument?

Somehow people think that I do a lot and have all this energy I don't see in myself.  I hope that I am not making others feel as though they are somehow lacking when they see the things I do.  I would not want anyone to think that they are somehow letting their children down, after all, I know how that feels.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Today's mail

As I am in the full blown panic of setting up a birthday party for my soon-to-be 8 year-old my oldest goes out and gets the mail.  In the mail is a packet that I requested from the county Foster & Adoptive Services office.  She is super excited.  I keep trying to tell her that we are "thinking and researching" and that does not guarantee that we will be doing anything.  I fear her excitement.  I don't know where this is going to lead and she instantly assumes this means things will go as she has planned.  I wish she had not seen that packet.  How do we teach our children that "maybe" does not always translate to "yes but later".  I have said maybe to several things over their life time and every time it turns out to be "no" as the final answer our children are devastated.  I am left not wanting them to know anything until it is a yes answer but then I feel like that is sending them a wrong message as well.  Then they only ever hear yes.  But this is not ice cream or a movie night... this is a growth to the family -- a step that MUST not be taken lightly.  This is something that must be prayed about -- A LOT!  Sometimes I think that I need to be the only one who goes to the mailbox.  No matter what happens with adoption I am still left wondering how much I should let my kids know so that their hopes are not always dashed and how much they need to learn that the answer is not always 'yes'.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Failing

So, while I can figure out how to spend hours on Facebook, I can't seem to blog properly.  I was recently given the link to a friend's blog and I found myself reading her entries for like 2 hours.  Her life seemed so interesting.  The thing is that she is not writing profound things (not always anyway, there are some entries there that are very profound, to me anyway).  She just takes the time to write the simple things in life.

I want to make another go at this blogging life.  I want to try to do something.  Maybe I need to tell myself that I can't go on facebook until I write something -- anything on my blog...  I am not a writer, not a good one anyway but I don't think blogs have to be perfectly written.

So, I am going to give it a go again.  Keep encouraging me...  It is probably healthier for me to spend time writing on a blog than spending hours "liking" items on facebook.  After all, I can't say some things on facebook for fear that I will be un-friended by those I try to reach.  I told God when I went on facebook that I would try to be salt and light.  I started out good... lately I find myself not posting things that some would deem controversial because then I can never gain trust of those I want to be salt and light to... it is a complicated world in facebook.  You can hide behind the screen and express things all you want or you can hide behind the screen and say nothing.  I am not sure that either one of those is the best way to be.

But, in my own personal blog I can be who I am (even though my name is changed due to my husband reading too many things in the news... :) ).  So, I am going to give it a go again.  I am sure that it will be a slow go but it would be worth it in the end if I find a better outlet for my thoughts...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog's Day... an emotional adventure...

Groundhog's Day....

I woke up and said, "Oh yeah it is Groundhog's Day... that silly furry weather rodent popped out of his hole today.  I wonder what he said."  Then it hit me a little later... "Oh yeah it is GROUNDHOG'S DAY... that is February 2!  Oh yeah... it is a another one of those days."  9 years ago today I lost one of my children.  I am mad at myself for waking up and enjoying part of the day before I remembered him.  Some people may say that it dumb.  Some people may say that is healing.  I mean of all my pregnancies it was the absolute shortest. But it was still my baby.  I had so many many wonderful hopes in those brief days that I carried that child.  I named s/he Noah (there is a woman in the Bible named Noah so I figured it was unisex enough... :) ).  How could I forget a child I named?  Perhaps it is because of how brief I carried him or her or that I did not get to hold Noah.  Either way I am saddened that I did not remember what today was as soon as I woke up.  Do I want to sulk all day?  No, I have three beautiful children in the house that I want to spend time with and enjoy but I also don't want to forget those ones that have gone before me.  Perhaps you think I am being too hard on myself.  After all, it is not like I held Noah like I did Gabriel or buried Noah like I did Elisha or Gabriel.  But, given my beliefs in the ones we carry in our womb I am saddened that I did not at least spend a few minutes upon waking remembering this little one that I may have only carried for weeks but will see again.   Sometimes I wonder if I want to "heal" completely.  I wonder if "healing" as we define it means forgetting and I do not want to forget ANY of my children no matter how short of a time they were lent to me.  I am rambling on now and I have board games to play with my family but I had to put it into writing these feelings of disgust that I have for how today started...