Saturday, June 25

So, we survived...

PET scan in April showed complete remission. I'm really glad for that. A side effect of chemo I hadn't anticipated was the chemo brain. Suddenly, I was totally incapable of doing the *one* thing I've done for the last 17 years - managing our home. It's taken me about that long to get good at it, and suddenly, *POOF*, gone. I couldn't do it. I couldn't interpret a calendar. I couldn't remember what we were supposed to do. I couldn't formulate complete thoughts that led anywhere. It was like living with the Cheshire Cat in control of all cognitive processes. That pretty well tanked all my good intentions to have blog entries about the chemo process and beating cancer (because I totally had no intention of losing this one). Not that anyone would have known that, had I lost. (Aaaannnd, someone's talking to me, again, in spite of the fact that I'm typing. This is significantly easier to cope with when I have my brain back, but I've gotta tell you, it still makes me feel stabby.)

Anyway, we did it. We survived. And now, we're picking up the pieces. There are more pieces than I'd expected. It's like coming out of an amnesiac state only to find your family has suffered some kind of traumatic event that you don't quite know how to address. But we're working on it.

We're also piecing together the educational train wreck that was our Year of Unintentional Unschooling. Turns out, we're lousy unschoolers in general, but not entirely. The kids have continued to learn, in spite of the bizarre circumstances. And I'd wager that the stress of Educating with Dory was less of a hurdle that trying to maintain an institutional schedule would have been. So, there's that. Hurrah for Unintentional Wins!

You want to know what the best thing is for a family surviving chemo? Good friends. I don't mean well-meaning people who can't quite make eye contact but they feel really badly for you. I mean the kind of friends who will take your kids while you have a bone marrow biopsy. The kind of friends who will take up the slack in your co-op schedule because you can look straight at the syllabus and not be able to say whether you need to prepare for oxidation or molarity next week. Because words are hard when your brain doesn't work. The kind of friends who will still be willing to sit and chat with you about over coffee about normal stuff - the weather, books, the upcoming art festival, books-that-aren't-about-cancer, the last Scout trip, and maybe books. I can't tell you how much that means when you're in the middle of a weird experience that you don't want to be in, that doesn't necessarily have an end point, and that may not have the outcome you'd banked your very life on. Be that friend. Have that friend. We were so, so blessed to have more than one, and I just hope I live long enough to pay it forward, backward, and under the table. Because these people were the real sanity savers.

And that, my friends, is so much more than I could have wished for.

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Friday, October 16

On Words and Writing

I love words. Words connect us to each other and allow us to find new ways of seeing the world. Words give us strength when we cannot feel it, and hope when we cannot see it. Words help us identify, explain, and further our goals and dreams; they help us understand the goals and dreams of others. Words are fantastic.

I've spawned at least one child who would be perfectly content if we shared information in binary and just left it at that.

So, you can imagine how incredibly awful it is for us to proof or edit one another's work.

Today, he's filling out an internship application for a position (I have no idea what) doing something (again, no clue) that sounds "absolutely fascinating" to him (and which the rest of us cannot fathom doing without serious remuneration and/or cajoling). OK, that sounds bad. Honestly, I am a supportive parent. I don't have to understand what he loves to smile and nod and bring him cookies. I love that his passion is so far beyond anything I can even comprehend enjoying - it's a dead giveaway that it's wholly his, right?

Anyway, they want him to explain his interests and career goals and why he thinks this position would be beneficial in helping him further his goals. He keeps drawing a blank. He goes into bullet point mode and can't fashion a full sentence. He gets why it's important, but this part doesn't come easily. So he's toiling away, creating syntax, miserable. Meanwhile, my head is exploding with anecdotal miscellany and descriptive explanations. He insists it's not helping. I curled up with a book, thinking I'd just be nearby if he needed me to proof a turn of phrase or find just the right word. (That, too, turned out to be unhelpful, because the book is hilarious, and now there's snorfling and laughing in the background, which is probably an honest impediment. I migrated to another room. Maybe that will help.)

If he were to let me write his blurb, this is what it would say (and I'm guessing I've got much of the actual jargon wrong - he'd have to proof it, although I'm afraid just reading it would make him want to cry):

I love the satisfaction of an efficient system: fast ping rate, smooth upload times, clean data caches. Little makes me as happy as a streamlined LAN or a powerfully configured network system. These things are beautiful to me, and I appreciate them. Because the Universe has seen fit to place me in a home filled with people who tell stories and read literature instead of checking their port settings, who cannot be bothered to care what the router configuration is or whether the connection is secure, I have had the freedom to explore and create, to learn as I go. In spite of, or perhaps due to, the seeming disparity between the things I value most dearly and that which matters to my overlords, I have learned much. I have accomplished much. 

I like my code clean and crisp, my passcodes convoluted and opaque. I want to learn from the masters and know the secrets of increased uptime and of pushing our processors to their limits. I want to work among others who value the beauty of a well-designed system, and to learn from those who know what is Good. 

And this, my friends, is why Z won't let me help with his resumes, either.

So they've both kicked me out, now, and I'm just going to finish one more chapter... But maybe they'll let me help with the cover letter?

Be encouraged~
Dy

Sunday, October 4

The weather has cooled off so nicely, and we don't have any of our cold weather clothing out! Also, I realized the other day, when the high was 65 degrees, that we don't really understand "cold weather" anymore. We were freezing! (It was wonderful.)

We saw the strangest thing at dance last week: the Mayberry PD car. Or, maybe not the, but a (although... how many of these are there?) At any rate, I thought it was neat and made the Littles go stand in front of the door for a picture. The Bigs would have understood how cool it was, but they were off being responsible. The Littles let me know they thought it was awkward, and potentially inappropriate, to approach someone else's vehicle and take pictures. 


When we do groceries, we try to find something new to try. We've always done this, and it's just sort of our thing, now. (When the boys were small, it was more a clever means to avoid the impulse buys at checkout - nobody thought to whine over a candy bar when he was holding his very own pineapple or ugly fruit or whatever delight he'd found in produce. Now, it's habit.) This week, Jase and Em found a beautiful, colorful, enticing vat of assorted licorice candies at Sprouts! They smelled horrible, but we had stuck to the list and we hadn't grabbed anything unique, so we thought this would be something fun to try. It was fun, but they tasted about as good as they smelled. I think James got them all -- he's the only one who found anything positive to say about them. The rest of us just took a snapshot and called it good.


And back to schooling. Or not. While the Bigs worked on portfolios and chemistry research, I found the Littles camped out in the den, playing a game they'd created. They were still hashing out the rules, but paused so I could snap a pic for Z. Sometimes, a little reminder of why we're doing what we do goes a long way toward getting us through another long day.


This has been low immunity week for me. I'm covered in bruises, a little tired, and more than a little irritable. Thankfully, it's short-lived. In the meantime, life! School, reading, playing, dancing, hiking. Not nearly enough napping. We should remedy that. But the rest? It's good. Even when it's a little awkward, or gross, or not really what we ought to be doing at all, it's good. I'm glad for that.

Be encouraged~
Dy

Friday, September 25

FALL IS HERE!

It's my favorite time of the year - time to sit on the balcony in the mornings and shiver with a cup of coffee. In a little while, I'll be able to grab a hoodie and curl up. This is the reward for surviving the Summer, and it is awesome.

In the meantime, this is also the time of year when ALL THE THINGS need doing: ACT registration, PSAT registration, clearing leaves off the roof and driveway, last mow of the season, winterizing the home, planning for the holidays. Additionally, there's driver's license road exam (James), permit (for John), switch out the clothing (gah, the basement is the bane of my existence these days), and staying on task for school.

About the only thing we're not doing this fall that we normally do is getting firewood onto the porch. We took the wood stove out in April when we built the wall, and there just isn't anywhere for it to go, now. Fortunately, we have a dual fuel HVAC system - heat pump and propane - so we're all set for winter. It'll be different not having wood heat this winter, but I'm more than a little excited about not having the master bath be ass-bitingly cold in the mornings. There's an up side to everything.

Meanwhile, school is going along swimmingly. (It's actually going well, even without grading on a chemo curve!) The older boys are enjoying Lost Tools of Writing. John even mentioned the other day that he took out his ANI template in order to write a history essay. "It really helped!" (Oh, hallelujah!) **** James is hoping to sign up for AoPS' Intermediate Counting and Probability class in November. I'm just hoping they don't fill up before I can get the registration done. **** Jacob has stopped glaring at the First Form Latin videos (years of butchered pronunciation on my part is making the transition to their pronunciation difficult, regardless of how much more clear and accurate theirs is - I've apologized, but change is hard).****  Em and Jase are loving - absolutely loving - Memoria Press' Insects study! That was a sleeper win that I wasn't expecting, and I am so thankful for it. It's been helpful that we started early enough in the year that insects have been plentiful and given us ample opportunity for sketching and observation.

We'll be taking a break in a bit to enjoy the Autumnal weather, make some warm cider and read some books just for fun. I'm looking forward to that the way a six-year-old looks forward to Christmas morning. Good stuff.

Be encouraged,
~Dy

Saturday, September 12

Saturday Doings

The boys collected donations this morning to send BSA popcorn to the troops overseas. Now John's nerding with his People. James is doing the school work he couldn't get done during the week, and JakeRabbit is wandering about, pretending to be looking for his copy of Ivanhoe... Z put up the brick molding on the new door. I used the time in town without children to pick up some much needed garments (also decided I need to drop a good 30 pounds and spend all the grocery money on Target's fall line - PONCHOS, people! They have ponchos! ~swoon~), ran laundry, and got in some work.

The Littles played video games until Em wandered in to lie on the couch and stare pitifully at anyone who wandered by as she whispered, "I'm hungry..." (This is a clear case of Video Game Head. There was bacon, pancakes, and nut butter all within arm's reach. She didn't have to languish on the couch. But I'm convinced video games turn my otherwise intelligent children into garden slugs.)

Every few minutes, people switch it up. JakeRabbit runs a load of wash and then plays Modern Warfare 3 with Z. We check with James to see how his Japanese is coming along and he is reminded that he's not, in fact, supposed to be playing TeamFortress2, but is supposed to be doing the work he didn't get done during the week. (This is always a surprise to him, based on the "Oh," he utters when we check.) Jase is loving the goat simulator on his brother's tablet, insisting I watch as his penguin self slides about, or his goat version licks random passersby. It's a gross looking game, but I'll probably see about getting it on my tablet because sometimes you just want to be a giraffe on a trampoline. I'm a little concerned about starving to death, though, since I doubt Video Game Head is limited to just children... But first, some reading and a snack.

The weather is gorgeous. Fall is coming! Tonight's low is in the high 40's, which means if it doesn't rain, there will be coffee on the balcony in the morning! These weekends are perhaps my favorite in the cycle of days. They are quietly busy, relaxed and pleasant.

Be encouraged ~
Dy