Showing posts with label fledging adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fledging adventures. Show all posts

Monday, February 5

On Reaching Out

The kids and I talked a lot yesterday about rebuilding our thing, our community. The kids miss it. I miss it. One of the things that's prevented us recently is that we lost a bit of our mojo during the cancer (which, fair enough, it'll knock anyone off their stride for a bit), and then once that was over ... well, we just didn't really get back to it. Inertia is a bear.

Then we moved.

Then Z moved.

Then Nutcracker. Then Christmas. Then Winter. Argh.

And now, here we are.

I think part of our problem is that we don't have the processes down, here, yet. In our old house, we could throw together a cookout for 40 guests with as little as two hours' notice. Easy. In this house, we can't hardly cobble together dinner for the five of us, even with a full day's head start. So that's a little tricky. I suspect we simply have to flail our way through a few gatherings in order to force start the new processes. We'll include apology gifts and flowers for those who get stuck being our first few guests, or something like that. But after that, it should come more naturally.

So the plan we came up with was this: find someone to invite to Sunday dinner and invite them.

What criteria you use doesn't matter. It can be someone you already know and like. It can be someone you'd like to get to know better. It can be someone who has done you a kindness that you'd like to reciprocate. It can be someone who just looks like they'd appreciate being looped in and connected. It can be someone you don't know at all, but you still feel compelled to invite them. It can be someone from work, school, church, a club or class, wherever. There are very few actual limitations on who it can be. Really. Your motivations are your own, and I trust you enough to be good with whatever the Spirit uses to move you. Run with it.

So, we'll see how that goes. It's going to require me to have my shizzle together quite a bit more of a Saturday afternoon, but that's probably something I should keep together as a general rule, anyway, right?

I'd LOVE to hear from you. What motivates you to reach out to someone? And then, how do you do it? Also, how do you keep your shizzle together?

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, February 1

It's All In How You Look At It

The caliper for the brakes came in Tuesday. Our dear friend, Larry, arranged to meet James here yesterday to help him put it in. It's been a long week, juggling rides and tweaking schedules, but everyone pitched in and it worked. And what fortune, to have good friends!

We pulled in and noticed that his face looked distinctly like he had bad news ... We got out to greet him, and ...

What's that smell? Is that gasoline? Where's it ... Ohhh.

Oh, my.

So, the downside is that the pressurized fuel line is leaking. But it's not the tank - the tank is fine. That's good.

The downside is that while we can learn to repair it, there's more cost, plus a heck of a learning curve, especially in February, with no garage to work in. The upside is that Z's not here, so we don't have to spend the next week squatting in the road, in the cold and the wet, handing him tools. (He can fix anything, and if he can, then he feels he ought. The rest of us are pretty supportive, but we'll cry, "Uncle!" long before he will.)

And the new tire is flat. But hey, at least we don't need to use it!

The downside is that the Volvo is worth significantly less now that it's not functional. The upside is that perhaps there's someone who really needs parts to make their own Volvo safe, and now those parts will be available.

The upside is that James is not alone in a hostile environment, and he has support and help to get where he needs to be.

He doesn't have to walk ten miles each way to get to school or work.

He has a wonderful roommate who is supportive and kind, and offered to carpool whenever their schedules allow.

We didn't discover both the brake failure and the gas leak out on the road ... At the same time! (That makes me queasy just thinking about it.)

He has a bike -- one he can fix, tweak, and fiddle with. He knows how to repair it, maintain it, and generally keep himself mobile with it. He has a helmet. And a bike lock.

He is safe.

I am thankful.

And while I am a little overwhelmed at how on the very edge of disaster we seem to be living these days, I can't help but be a little relieved because the edge is not the crevice. It's not free fall. It's not the end. It's just a very cautious walk with a pretty spectacular view, and although I cannot wait to be firmly back away from the edge, I can't help but be thankful for everything that's going right. God really is in the details -- in the relationships and encouragement, in the kindnesses and the caring gestures. That's it, right there.

It really is all in how you look at it.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Saturday, January 27

I Had A Plan

It was a good plan, too. James brought the Volvo over Thursday. I was going to take it for the other two new tires, a general check up, and a run through the car wash.

Then I started it up.


I didn't even know it had a light that says that! 😱

So, that's a big, fat Nope. I got out of the car and gave thanks that he was home, because that car wasn't going anywhere like that.

A friend came last night and helped him troubleshoot it. The part will be in Monday. Nobody died. Hallelujah!

We figured in the meantime, he could bike, but it turns out he needs a new bike tire, too. 😕 At least that's a quick fix and I can pick up a new tube on the way home from work in the morning.

So, the new plan is to just keep replacing things that are broken until we eventually get all caught up. That, too, is a good plan.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, January 25

A Weird Week of Provision and Panic

James called Sunday morning to say he'd be late for church. He'd blown a tire about a mile away. He was fine, which was all I cared about. The rest, we can handle. (We're all vaguely surprised those tires haven't all imploded before now. I knew they were bad, but I'll admit that I haven't paid attention to the vehicle maintenance. This is the first time I've even looked at our tires outside of the one crazy tire on the Highlander that we had to replace earlier in the month.) Blessedly, we've been budgeting, and I've been able to work, so it wasn't a problem to say we could get a new tire. I had an inkling there was no spare (there wasn't - oy!) so I slipped out of church to pick him up and just go get a new tire. When I arrived it was obvious the rim was also shot. Okay, we've got this, right?

So, this week, I learned that you can't just go to Walmart, or even National Tire & Battery, and buy a wheel on the spot. I could have sworn that I'd seen rims for sale in stores before ... But the world has moved on. This is going to be one of my Old Lady Stories. "When I was a child ..." (*waves cane*) Also, it's a '92, so that meant we had to find a junk yard that was open on Sundays and would have a car we could cannibalize. We found one that's open, but they didn't have a single Volvo on the lot. So, we went back, gathered his things, and he left a note (which I didn't see until Tuesday, when we were able to get back to it). Since it's a crappy car parked in a swanky greenbelt parking lot, this was probably a wise course of action:


We spent Sunday evening looking online for wheels at junk yards. The boys thought it would be kind of awesome to buy one really swanky gold colored alloy wheel, preferably with a spinning component. They thought it would be a delightful bit of absurdity against the stock Volvo caps, the missing trim piece on one door, and the mismatched door handle on another. While I appreciate their sense of aesthetics (and humor), I wasn't going to steal grocery money for lolz. I found one in Birmingham (just a plain Jane, stock steel wheel), and confirmed that they still had it.

(As a side note, if you're looking for a market that needs either data entry skills or could use some kind of useful software, junk yard inventories are notoriously out of sync with what's in the yard. So, if you have a superpower and are looking for a place to use it, give that some thought. You could make millions.)

We kicked Jacob off early at ballet, then realized we still wouldn't make it before they closed, so I called to let them know that I wouldn't be able to make it before they closed for the day and I'd just come in the morning. The guy very graciously said to come on down. He said he'd be there whenever I got there, that it wasn't a problem, wasn't an imposition, just come on down. No, really, he'd wait for us. Okay, then. The Littles and I drove down.

87 miles.

He wasn't there. Nobody was there. Nobody answered the phone. I even tried the lock on the gate. And I laid on the horn.

We took a deep breath, then turned around and drove back. It was an awesome (if somewhat forced) exercise in living out every stupid thing I tell the children -- about extending grace, about looking for the positive, about trusting in God's provision, about how we can choose to make a situation better or worse by how we respond to it. But we did it, and we had a really lovely ride down and back.

The next morning, we did this whole Cirque du Soleil level choreography that involved me leaving at 6:30 in the morning to drive 174 miles round trip, get tires mounted and balanced, and get to the Volvo, while the boys spent the morning switching cars and making a dozen relays with John's car so that everyone could get where they needed to be. I went ahead and got two wheels while I was down there so that he'll have a spare in the future, and we hopefully don't have to make that drive again soon. The kids grabbed clothes for me (we had tickets to see a play that day at noon), James picked up everyone from their respective activities, and we all converged on the parking lot where the Volvo sat, looking sketchy and abandoned.

The boys put the two new tires on. The back end is now raised visibly, and it looks like a custom lift job on a crappy car. It's kind of hilarious, if you can get past the mortification aspect. James saw the new tires in the back of the Highlander and was convinced I'd bought the wrong size. "These will never fit on the Volvo!"


No, Love, it's the same size tire, this is just what it looks like with tread. Jacob asked how that happens (which is a completely sane question). "Well, this is 130K miles on 60K-mile tires. Don't do this. Do better than your father and I do, okay? That's the goal."

Of course, that's kind of the goal of everything. Do better than we do. Be more diligent than we were. Be more engaged that we were. Extend grace more readily than we did. Walk more closely with God than we did. And maintain your cars better than we do. Of course, we don't just stick that out there and leave them to their own devices. They have support, resources, and encouragement. And they're doing it.

I told them all that because of who they are -- their willingness to step into the gap and help out, the fact that they can be trusted to look out for each other, the way they are willing to learn and to engage, they took what could have been a total nightmare situation and turned it into nothing more than a mild inconvenience that was easily surmountable. That's alchemy, right there. They wouldn't high five me in the parking lot, but that totally would have been appropriate.

And so, tomorrow, two more new tires (I'm terrified the front two are going to blow just from the added pressure of having the bigger ones on the back.) Thankfully, the weather is nice, James can bike to work and to school. We can give him a lift if he needs one. So, all is well, and we are slowly attending to all the things that clearly need it, one harrowing (yet encouraging) thing on the list at a time.

Sometimes, when things are overwhelming, they can also be encouraging. And that's a good thing.

Be encouraged! (And check your tires!)

~ Dy

Wednesday, January 10

New Terms, New Plans

Sometimes, these kids are so my kids. Jacob got on it over Christmas break and did all the school work he didn't get done during the fall. This included reading Aeschylus' trilogy, and getting through two of the three Oedipus plays. He got half way through Antigone, but didn't wrap it up before ballet started back up (so that may not be finished until Easter, now). He even pulled off some great note taking and good discussion. I do get it, and I empathize. But there's a reason I don't have a degree yet. (Aside from the whole, "Oh! I know! Let's have children!" thing.) Now, though, if he could only do that, spread out over the term, I could probably relax and breathe a little. When you're in college, you don't get to complete your work and turn it in after finals week  ... Maybe I should have James take him out for coffee and a little brotherly Come to Jesus about timeliness?

Meanwhile, everyone's new semesters have begun!

John's back at it, and this is going to be a pivotal term for him. In order to qualify for the Paramedic program that starts in the Summer term, he's got to nail this one with a good score, even from the Russian judge. Not just doing what he needs to do to pass the National Registry exam in June, but he's got to pass this Bio 201 class. He had to get a waiver from the Dean and the Dual Enrollment coordinator to take it while still in high school, and he had to promise the Dean that he's not going to try to hold down a job while juggling clinicals and this course. So. No pressure, there. Go get it, kiddo! You can do this!

I hate having so much on the line for a 17yo, but he's braced for it and looking forward to it. It seems ... dumb to discourage a young person from taking on a challenge he's looking forward to, so I'm in Smile-Nod-and-Feed mode. I think he can do it. And if it doesn't work, he'll be better off for the effort and we'll make a Plan B. This is how life works, right? The key is to keep moving, keep learning, and not give up.

James came in the other day and announced he'd added a macroeconomics class to his schedule for the Spring. "It sounded fun." He and I have very different ideas about what a fun semester looks like. But again, he's doing what he loves and braced for the challenge. He wants to graduate as quickly as possible so he can get hired on full time where he is. He's happy, productive, and headed in a good direction. I can't complain. I can get a little queasy, but I can't actually complain.

Now, to convince Jacob to actually do some work between now and Cinderella ... right? Wish me luck!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, January 8

Five Minutes Until I Go

James got up early to air up the tire in the Highlander for me before I leave this morning. That is such a gift! I know he probably doesn't think so, but it is. (The tire's got a slow leak that's just this side of the tread, so they can't legally plug it. *Cue grouchy old lady noises, "In my day..." *waves cane*) But anyway, it's on the payday list of Stuff That Needs Attending - which is not nearly as much fun to make as, say Grocery Lists, or Birthday Lists, but it's very important.)

**************************************************************************

And then, I had to go. Spent too much time sipping coffee instead of typing, I guess.

That was Friday morning? Saturday? I don't remember. But now it's Sunday night. The week is over. We made it. I am so stinking proud of these kids. They're rolling into the Spring semester with gusto, and they've made this single parenting gig a relative cake walk. It's still about zero fun, but at least it's not a logistical nightmare, as well.

The house is freakishly quiet, and cold. I should go to bed, but I don't want to climb into a chilly bed. Should have asked for a hot water bottle or an electric blanket for Christmas.

Between the move and the job, The Nutcracker and the flu, we never made it to the beach house to see The Aunts. That made me inordinately sad. Then, Aunt B texted to say they were on their way home and planned to swing by! Oh, I'm so glad! We'll made some delicious food, and crack open some delicious wine, and visit. I can't wait to hear about their winter beach adventures!

On that note, though, I have got to get to bed. Sundays are long sometimes. I should sleep well.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Friday, January 5

Some days start earlier than others ...

I grabbed a transcription file yesterday - a nice, long, difficult one, since I didn't have any outside work coming up, and I figured I could work on it at my leisure throughout the day and really make sure it was tight. I love that feeling, when you know you've done a job spot on. It wasn't due until 11 today, so that was perfect.

Then I got a text last night - can I fill in a shift for someone who can't make it in the morning? Of course I can. (This is a really wonderful position, working with a truly delightful lady, and I am so thankful for having these beautiful people in our life.)

About an hour later, it hit me. I just bumped my transcription deadline up by four hours because I'd have to leave the house by 7:00. 😨 Well, that wasn't particularly brilliant. What can I say? I'm new at this.

So after dinner, I tasked the children with putting the living space to rights before they turned in, and I slipped off to bed super early. I was up and wide awake this morning at 2:30, and was able to finish the job and submit it in time to leave for work!

I need a GIF for that. It's definitely more Mr. Magoo than Wonder Woman, but you know, mostly it's about appreciation for having opportunities and being able to find ways to make things work, honor our commitments, and live a rich, healthy life.

What absolutely made my day, though, was getting texts from the older boys. "Do you mind if I take the Littles to Skate Day?" and "I'm taking Jacob to the movie." Oh! Well done, boys! Wow.

Got home to find John studying, and the house picked up. That's like Second Christmas for a mom!

So, to celebrate, we're sitting very still and not moving for a little bit. Just taking stock of the good things in the day ... It got above freezing for a few minutes today. That was exciting. (It's about to dip way back down, though, so the faucets are staying on.) ... Z is doing well - we talked this morning and he described the Sandias in the morning sunlight - I can't wait to see that again! ... School is back up and running, ballet, theater, Bible study ... There's coffee. (It's a little thing, but it's a thing, and I appreciate it.)

Not every season is going to be easy. Sometimes the seasons that you think will do you in turn out to be the easiest of the challenging parts of your life, and you'd love to go back and do them again with the knowledge you have currently. (It's like doing 1st grade math when you're in 6th grade, and you laugh and laugh that you'd been so frustrated when you first learned it. If you do find yourself feeling like that, wishing for the exhaustion of toddlers, or the "busyness" of playdates and field trips to the zoo, give yourself some kudos for having come far enough to do that. That's good stuff. You've got this.) And then, take stock of the good things. They're there in plenty.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Tuesday, January 2

On Moving. Again.

So, while John and I were basking in the dry, cool mountain air of New Mexico this past July, Z was at home, clearly panicking at the thought of living here forever. Possibly without me. (The fear of me dying is kind of a constant with him. It was always there, but got markedly worse with the cancer. Single parenting for a month rather exacerbated the whole thing. Understandable.)

So he went off plan and applied for a slew of jobs in New Mexico that month. (The deal has always been Colorado, or we stay here.) When I got back into signal range and read the job postings he'd forwarded to me, I started praying ...

"Lord, please not Alamogordo." (I have NOTHING against Alamogordo, for the record. It's a vibrant, neat little town with a strong Classical education community, and a ballet company. It could be a great place to live. But I have always maintained that if he worked in Alamogordo, I wanted to live in High Rolls or Cloudcroft, both of which just wash my mountain-loving soul in cool air and pine trees. I haven't had cool air and pine trees since 2003. But that would put us right back to living in the country and having to drive into town every. single. day. That thought kind of made me cry. Actually, it totally made me queasy.)

That job fell through. Thank you, Lord!

"Lord, Socorro? Really? This needs to be discussed?" (I've never lived in Socorro, and I'm sure we could make it work. NM Tech is there, and it's fantastic. It's not too far from the Bosque. There's a lot to commend it. But, again with the driving to get the kids to the things they do. And there are no mountains there to soothe the process. Sorry, Socorro, but I was actively praying against that one.)

That job fell through.

"Albuquerque? Well, Lord, you know I'd love it. And you know the kids would love it. We both know Z probably isn't going to love it. He might grow to like it ... I don't know. But, if it's gotta happen, then it's gotta happen. Your call." (It's ALWAYS His call. I know this. But he says to ask for what we want, and I'm taking Him at face value on that.)

So, Albuquerque it is.

We all hate to leave our people here. One of my biggest requests is that we have a home large enough that we can be a destination point for loved ones to come and see the West, stay with us, and allow us to repay the generosity and love they've shared with us.

The older boys may stay. James will, for sure. He's surviving college. He loves his job. He loves our church. He seldom gets lost when he's driving. He'll be 20 this year (oh, gosh, HOW?), so it seems there's not much point for him in uprooting to start over again.

John's measuring his options and seeing what he can see. He's 17. This is a good time to do that.

Jacob would gladly move in with someone from the ballet school to stay here, but since that's not an option, we've given him room to be morose, and then encouragement to embrace what he can about it. He plans to come back, perhaps for his Senior Year, to dance here. I'm okay with leaving that on the table. It'll be here before either of us know it, and who knows what he'll want to do then? But in the meantime, having that on the table gives him hope and frees him up to enjoy dancing in New Mexico without feeling like he's being unfaithful to his beloved HBC. I love his loyal, passionate heart.

Em and Jase are basically holding their breath and not making eye contact. They don't know what to expect. They haven't particularly enjoyed all the change and upheaval to date, and it's not what they would choose, but they're still young enough that if I promise them a good adventure, they'll trust that it's a good adventure. (Jase finds this exciting. I should, however, have chosen a different word for Em - an adventure is the last thing she hopes for. Ever. Oops. Still learning with that one!)

And so, our Alabama adventure appears to be drawing to a close. It's something we've known was coming for the last seven years, but truthfully, it came as a surprise. This is such a wonderful place to live, with so much available, and so many wonderful things in life here. It's hard to imagine another place that has so much to love as North Alabama does. Twelve and a half years of living will do that to a person, though. It's good. It's been good.

And the next chapter of our lives will also be good.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Monday, January 1

So, what do you do with all your extra time?

And I thought I'd be able to write more once we moved! That's so cute!


We're moved in. We're loving life Five Minutes From Everything. It's truly very nice. The boys appreciate the extra study time for school, the extra bits of sleep in the mornings, and the ability to pop out to a movie or coffee with friends, or Bible study without having to pack a full daypack and hydration bladder to make it happen. The Nutcracker performance week, and tech week leading up to it, were smooth and efficient and wonderful.

Personally, I'm loving the ability to call housing if there's mold, or if something breaks, and these delightful men arrive within an hour to fix it. There's no having to put it in the budget, shop around for parts, and then carve out time to make it happen. I really, really love our maintenance team!

That said, Z got a job offer ... Out West. New Mexico. (I'll write about that whole set up at another time.) The offer came in shortly after we'd signed the lease on base. It's a good move, with promotion potential. It puts him closer to family, able to help out more often, and it might even afford him a path to Colorado one day (something that just isn't an option from here). It made sense for him to take it. He expected a start date in the Spring, but they had the day before Thanksgiving (this Thanksgiving) in mind. Uh, no? What? No relocation package, and you want us to move when? Uh-uh. He negotiated to start the second week in December, though, which bought us a little time to finish all the things on the Forever Home. (New carpet, new back deck, replaced the flooring in the kitchen, installed a lovely new exterior door in the master bedroom, and the Holy Grail of my last five years, the beadboard ceiling in the kitchen/living area! It's gorgeous!) Then he left. *poof* He's staying with his brother and sister-in-law, who were so very gracious to open their home to him. The kids and I will follow sometime this Summer.

We couldn't uproot and go right now. James is going to stay behind. He has a wonderful job, and he's survived the first semester of college (he has no humanities this coming semester, so he'll likely knock out a 4.0 on that one). But he was staying at home and commuting - we couldn't shuffle him into the dorms at the last minute. John's pursuing his EMT certification, and we couldn't just yank him out of that. And Jacob is dancing with the Junior Company for the Huntsville Ballet (this is the first step in their pre-professional study track, and he is wholly committed to it). He might just turn into a real, live Gollum if we pulled him out of that and dumped him in an unknown community past the audition dates for anything. So. We're staying until we can extricate ourselves a bit less violently. We want the move to be good, for everyone involved, and that's how we're moving forward. Being separated isn't much fun (less fun for Z, who doesn't have the routines and familiar surroundings to buffer him), but we both acknowledge that a few months out of 22 years together isn't going to break us, or warp us, or damage us. We'll be fine.

Good Times. Or, it will be Good Times. Right now, it's all just a bit surreal. We haven't listed the Forever Home yet, because there's a beautiful, wonderful family that wants it. They've listed their home, and we're all just waiting on their house to sell. If it hasn't sold by Spring, or if they give up, then we've found a realtor and will list it with him. In the meantime, we're floating two and a half homes through the Winter. It will be okay. But they need it. They really do. It's worth the wait. No regrets, there.

And now, we have a routine. We have a plan. We have a little breathing room. Later than we'd anticipated, but it's here. That's good.

Welcome to 2018!


Tuesday, October 10

Seven Days

I told you I was like a kid at Christmas!


I'm half planning to load up my bed, a suitcase, a box of bacon and the coffee press, and call it good. If they want anything else, they can come back for it. Oh, and the patio furniture - I do love our patio furniture. That should be plenty, right?

We had a week off from ballet while the school was on fall break. Nearly missed trash day, woke Z up early on a day he didn't have to go to work, and accomplished very little in the way of returning library books that week. Evidently, we can't use a calendar without some kind of external anchor to remind us what day it is. Also, to Jacob's Russian teacher, I apologize. He comes by it honestly.

However, I remembered that I can, in fact, cook quite well when I have the time to do it. So, that's been fun. I'm really looking forward to getting settled and doing more in the kitchen again.

We animal-sat for friends over the long weekend. It was good, and we're glad we were able to help them out, but we are so not cut out for farm life. It probably would have been easier if we didn't live 50 minutes away, and often had to wear the rest of the day whatever we wore to tend the animals. That was kind of gross. Or, if we had any idea what might cause a goat to fall over. That was scary. (The goat is fine, and John rocked the medic training - he devised a carry sling and we let him tell us what to do, so we didn't completely suck at whatever it was we were supposed to be doing.) They'll be back today, and I am so incredibly glad.

Today is John's last day at work. They've been so good to him, and it was a wonderful experience for a first time job. With the move, though, he'd be working to earn the gas money to drive ... to work. Plus, he starts clinicals near the end of this semester, and that will take up a lot of additional time. He picks up another class at the CC on the 21st, as well. He has a plan and he's moving on it. It's neat to stand back and see that play out, see where he wants to go and how he's making it happen.

Today is also the last Harried Tuesday! Hurrah! No more! This time next week, I can drop Jacob at ballet and GO HOME to wait! There shall be scones! (We tweaked a keto bagel recipe and it's like lovely, decadent scones, only with scads of protein and few carbs. So good!)

Be encouraged!

Dy


Saturday, August 26

Oh, A Day to Rest!

Folks, I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to tomorrow! Sure, we'll be driving into town (or rather, Z will drive - I will sit in the passenger seat and field random observations from Jase in the third row - it's how we roll). But when we get there, we will worship, we will learn. We will be still, we will give thanks and praise. We will comfort those who are grieving and hurting, as well as rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

And then, we'll eat together - all of us in our loud, messy, loving, wonderful, sometimes-cranky, always-thankful glory. I think our regular pot luck and prayer meeting is one of the highlights of my month. And tomorrow, I am going to sink down into a chair and just appreciate that we can do that.

Absolutely none of the things that have harried my mind of late are settled. In fact, some of them have gotten worse. Ha! Didn't expect that! But you know, it's OK. It really is. It will come together, one way or another, and there will be so much good to be had, regardless. I got that this week. I mean, I'd known that in my head, and I'd have encouraged any of you to remember it if you'd asked, but it's so nice to feel it deep, deep down in my bones. It's like exhaling when you didn't realize you'd been holding your breath.

The week was insanely busy. Jacob had auditions for The Nutcracker. No clue what he'll be doing, but he doesn't care. He's just so excited to be IN the very show that brought him this love and life that he's building. They could make him one of the wee mice and he'd be content.

The rest of it? Mostly driving. Driving and working. It's all good, but it makes for very boring prose. I'm sure a good DJ could knock out a rollicking good recap of the week's mileage, but us? Not so much. We ran through our Pimselur recordings. Jacob read in the car (but he won't read aloud to me while I'm driving, so that part is very boring). He quizzed me on the specs and histories of various armament, and I failed miserably at recalling any of the information, at all. So he told me all of it, again.

Oh! I did get to see James last night! (Yes, he still lives here, but between our schedules, we're just out of phase enough that we might as well live in different time zones. It's weird.) Anyway, we crossed paths for about half an hour at a party. He had popped in to say hi and visit a bit, but when he started to go, the hostess suggested he stay for a bit and see his mom (I was on my way to drop Jacob off and retrieve the Littles). So he did! Ha! That was brilliant on her part. We do greet in passing in the hallway, and occasionally bump into each other at the washing machine, but other than that, I just don't see him much. He looks good. Happy. Enjoying work and school. He has one instructor, in particular, who he just thoroughly enjoys.

Maybe I'll get to see the rest of them sometime this week?

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Tuesday, August 15

Brilliant Plans and... Other Ones

Yesterday was a rest day. Well, it was a school day and a rest day. OK, actually, it was a school day, a few small projects, a little more cleaning, and a rest day. But when Jase talked to Z about his day, he told him it was a rest day, "so we didn't do much but hang out, eat and read". Then he gave me credit for it! So it's officially going down as a rest day that I instituted. Because I don't often get credit for the occasional cool things I do. (This incident is not a prime example, since it wasn't actually a rest day, but I don't even mind at this point.)

We replaced the worn dry erase board in the linen closet door and cleaned and repainted the air return register. We washed some more walls. We made more lists. John had Favorite Child status for several hours because he dug around in the basement to find the panel that I knew was down there but which none of us had seen in ages. Many people thought it was a myth. I had even begun to think perhaps we'd thrown it out at some point. But no, he found it! And he cut a new panel and got it switched out.

Today, we all overslept. I awoke at 7:37, immediately registered that we were behind the 8-ball for an 8 o'clock hair appointment, and bolted out of bed to wake everyone else. AND we made it! We weren't coherent, or clean, or functional, but we were there. After that, and a hair cut, I needed a full-on shower. I was still a little sleepy, however, and didn't want to do the bag-wrap-tape routine on my finger (I sliced the tip off last week - rookie mistake that's more irritating and inconvenient than damaging, thankfully). So I grabbed a mechanic's glove. It worked great until I reached down to shave and the glove immediately filled up with water! Oops! Lesson learned - tape the wrist!

Jacob got his schedule recommendations today, so we're plugging things into grids to see what's going to work. I found a lot of schedule templates online that skip weekends, or end at 5. None were quite what I needed, but then I found one from Apache, an Open Office spreadsheet that was dead handy. If you use Open Office and need a planner template, this one's quite functional. I had to tweak the margins on my page set up a titch to get it to print on one page, but it's pretty good, otherwise.

We're all about to head into a completely new world with school. I feel like we're skydiving for the first time -- no clue what to expect and vaguely surprised to find us here even though this was the plan and we very intentionally got to this place. It's so strange. If you're kindly inclined, please keep all of the young men and women who are heading off to college, to internships, to work, in your prayers. They're in for some amazing adventures, but it doesn't hurt to have people actively pulling for you.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Thursday, July 27

The Fall School Plan, 2017-18

I've been making school plans since 2005. We began with one student and have slowly added to the roster every few years. This is the first year I didn't make one for James. He's off and running, doing his own thing - work, college, life. He went with friends to see Fiddler on the Roof while I was gone. He's budgeting tithe money, gas money, and savings. He's pre-reading his literature text over the Summer. I can't tell you how cool that is. He's got this. It's weird, but I was ready for it.

So I settled in to make firm John's plan, which we'd written down before we left for Philmont and I couldn't find Monday. Huh. We never found it, but we did eventually remember the details. He's taking all dual enrollment this year: EMT certification, ENG 101 (or whatever kids these days are calling it). Next semester he'll take Western Civ and College Algebra. That's 3/4 time enrollment both semesters. He'll keep working. He'll look for a new ballroom dance class that he and his girlfriend can take (their instructor retired at the end of this year - a very sincere loss for the students, although likely a much-needed reprieve for the instructor). He's got one more shot at the ACT for scholarship money in September, then he'll apply to JSU in October. That's it. I'm not instructing him in anything this year. That, I was not ready for.

It's OK, though, as Jacob seems to be taking up the slack left by his brothers. This kid has a jam-packed schedule and he is so excited about it! This is his Freshman year. He's a highschooler. Forgive me, but how is Smidge in High School? It boggles the mind. He'll be taking Geometry, Old Western Culture Greeks for history and literature, Home2Teach writing classes, Rocketry (a two-hour class, plus competitions), Ballet (as many classes as they will let him and we can afford), and three foreign languages (Latin, Russian, Spanish).

His reasoning is that this is a good year to do some searching about what he wants to study more in-depth. (I think he's also thinking that 12 foreign language credits would be pretty cool to have, but I don't know that he really understands what third-year Russian, Spanish, and Latin will look like with Calculus, ballet, and a strong humanities program like OWC. However, if he's willing to work hard at it and give it a shot, I'm all in as the support team. He'll have time to adjust as he goes, if needed. If I've learned nothing else from homeschooling this long, I've learned at least that we can adapt and adjust as we go, and that it doesn't hurt to set the bar high.) I'm actually pretty excited about working with him this year.

The Littles (still thinking of a new moniker for them) and I have a much better plan for this year than whatever it is we've been doing: we'll be library schooling while Jacob is in ballet classes. We did a trial run yesterday and it was lovely: tea and poetry, literature, history. Bonus of being able to go find ANY book we might need if the spirit prods us during our study time. (That actually makes me feel less anxious about packing our books away to stage the house.) Since part of Jacob's plan involves turning drive time into foreign language time, they're also getting additional exposure to Spanish, at least. We do math, science, and other topics when we get home.

That's it. Just three. This is so weird.

But it's good. The goal was to raise them up to be self-sufficient, independent, functioning young men and that's what's happening. So, win! I may not have been prepared to lose two in the same year, but I've got no actual complaints.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Wednesday, June 21

New Schedules, New Days, New Foods

It's only mid-week and already the Littles miss their in-house IT man. 😄 I can fix  you up if you've got a gaping wound, need help deciphering new words, or learning how to cook. If you can't get into the something-admin-something of the something-mod in the something-world of Minecraft, though, you're just going to have to wait for your brother to get home. He seems happy with the new routine, and is stepping into it beautifully.

The rest of us are also getting used to this new schedule. It's weird. The Littles and I are on a solid one-week run of getting to the library (I know, it's a wonder they put up with us), and we may make it through June without any  more late fees if we keep this up. John's missing the Volvo (part is en route!) and would like to be independently mobile again, but he's been fantastic about communicating to make sure everyone's got the wheels they need when they need them to get where they need to be. Jacob seems to be all-in on his schedule, as far as dance goes. Not so much the academics, but it's a process. I hope.

I do think Z really enjoys the carpooling action, though. He hasn't had years of that daily commute time with the kids, so this is a nice treat for him to have some regular one-on-one time with James. No clue what they talk about, but they both seem content.

Our gear is arriving! My puffy jacket arrived! It fits! It's so warm! It's so exciting! I hope it's chilly enough to need it while we're there - that would be the best birthday surprise!

Also, I received my Pili Nuts order today. (Pronounced /pee'-lee/.) Before they'd arrived, I'd have told you that the customer service was really something special. The folks at Hunter-Gatherer Foods are a delight to do business with, and I was quite looking forward to checking out the Pili Nuts. Now that I've opened the bags and tried some of their product (the turmeric and black pepper, the raw cocao, and the coconut oil and salt), I will tell you that if you order some (and you should), get the bigger bags. You won't be sorry! I have found my new go-to trail snack, on-the-go snack, and "emergency" food. This is the kind of thing I'm absolutely asking Santa for at Christmas. I also think I'll need to order more before we leave. These four bags won't make it to departure day! (I am not making anything off this - this is just me, telling you about something I found that's pretty fantastic!)

John and I had our physicals today. We both appear healthy enough to the average physician and have the all-clear to head to Philmont! My pulse was a little high - as soon as the nurse called my name, my heart started doing jello-shots of adrenaline like it was ladies' night, and I could not calm down. Z laughed and said it's probably a wee bit of PTSD. I laughed, too, because it's absurd and he's probably right. But there's nothing I can do about it except roll with it. Maybe one day I can get to the point where a nurse can call me back without my body yelling, "Cops! Hide!" Or maybe it'll just be how I respond from now on. Who knows? I'm new at this, and probably bad at this, but thankful to have the opportunity to try, at any rate.

And on that note, I am going to grab a book and head to bed. We've got storms coming in off the tropical depression. We're safe here (just damp), but you all in the path of the storm, be careful, look out for one another, and check in when you can!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, June 19

More Prep and Random Things

James' security clearance is good to go, and he starts actual work-work today. I suspect the good Lord let it drag out so long in order to help him be truly excited to work. 😏 Good stuff. He just finished taking his first professional certification, passed it, and he's on his way. It is very exciting to see your grown child follow his passion.

The guys think they've figured out why the Volvo keeps shearing bolts at the alternator. That's more exciting than it should be, but there you have it. We're easily pleased and appreciative. Also, it's NOT a $200 part! That just made it even better, as far as I'm concerned!

I've got the keto menu plan for Philmont just about nailed down. Now it's just a matter of buying the stuff and getting it portioned out. I put powdered heavy cream and powdered eggs on my list. Need to pick up packets of mustard and those little salt and pepper packets, too. If Z hadn't been working on the Volvo, the roast would be dehydrated by now. As it stands, I'm a little nervous about taking trail food that we haven't field tested... eee.

If these kids would just stop needing rides for a week or so, that'd be super helpful (although that's why Z's been working on the Volvo, so six of one, half a dozen of the other). I thought the Bigs would be able to haul the Littles at some point, but they went and got jobs. What's up with their responsibility getting in the way of my payoff? (Not really complaining, well... maybe a little.) Uber needs to set up a NannyCar option - background screened drivers with in-car video on CCTV and offsite storage. I could use that...

But, that said, our Philmont gear order is beginning to arrive. John's puffy jacket, sock liners, our pack covers and sleeping pads. My teeniny camp stove! I have to tell you, I. am. geeking. out over how little this stuff weighs! WOW! Mad love for technology and development! I'm guessing we'll be a lot more comfortable in-camp, as well, than I ever was on the trail. THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!

What's got you excited this month?

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Wednesday, June 7

The Gauntlet Is Run!


Whoa, y'all. That was an insanely busy week. I am not going to bore you with the logistics (there were many, and they are boring), but it was a gauntlet. And we made it! It was a little bittersweet.

Thankfully, it was a gauntlet filled with good fun, great people, and fat little baby legs! Ohhh, that makes everything do-able. (It also highlighted that nobody left in my house has squishable thighs. Also, that it would be weird if I checked.)


My sister-in-law, y'all? She is a Rock Star! I love her so much, and I hope my brother-in-law does, too, because we must keep her forever and ever. (And how very far away we are -  I need her closer.)

While the family was here, we took them fishing one day and to the water park the next. We got a pontoon boat and spent a day on the river, then a day of rambling about in the woods.



(Z got to do most of the fun stuff - I was running a parallel activity plan that involved hauling children to and from Space Camp, ballet performances, and a photo shoot. So I missed some of the fun in my alternative life as an Uber driver*.)


Finally, there was Space Academy graduation and a day exploring the Space and Rocket Center, followed by the graduation weekend - ceremony one day, party the next.


We saw them off on Monday and then sort of liquefied in the living room - it looked like a crime scene in here, with limbs draping off edges and debris all over the floor (it rained the day of the party - three cheers for hard floors that don't care!) We rested and came down from the high of spending time with friends and family.

Tuesday was about all I could handle on the not caring part, though, and so we cleaned. And cleaned. And sighed contentedly.

Now it's time to look ahead. Jacob is at rocketry camp this week, in preparation for joining a competitive rocket team in the fall. He's quite looking forward to that.

James starts work at his internship on Friday, and I can't even begin to tell you how excited he is about that!

John had tooth extractions this week, to prepare him for braces. He's excited about that all being done and is running his own gauntlet this week. But it'll be good soon.

I guess the rest of us should consider a plan for the Fall, and some ideas for Summer. First, though, we'll give thanks -- for opportunities, for fellowship, for savoring the bittersweet of life and time.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

* Not actually for Uber, but now that I think about it, this is totally going on my application when I apply...

Thursday, May 25

College Orientation

James attended Orientation over the weekend. It was a two-day, high-energy, non-stop infopalooza. All good stuff. All things they need to know.

All things they've said at Admitted Student Day...

And the overnight campus visit...

And the Honors Orientation.

Wee!

I mentioned to Z that this was killing me. It's all on the website. It's all in the printed material. Whyyyyyy are they doing this? But then Z said something that put it all in perspective: maybe it's not just ours.

Maybe they need to hear it in different ways, at different times, for it to sink in. There IS a lot of information. And youth are not known (generally speaking) for their ability to internalize the process of filing information away so that they know where to find it when they need it. Plus, their entire world is upending all at once. That's disorienting enough.

The director of the events (he has an official title, but I can't remember it - very nice man, though) said that most people don't realize it's the same material, repackaged. He also said that in spite of the repetition and hammering, there will be students who say, "I didn't know we had free tutoring," or, "Nobody told me we have a career center."

I let that sink in for a moment, then told him I'd leave the student, but I was going to slip out for coffee. Then I promised not to call him to ask how I pay my bill.

Then I bookmarked the log in page for info. Because if I've learned anything in my decades on this Earth, it's "Don't trust yourself to remember anything. Write it down."

When I picked up James, he had notes. In his own handwriting. And he's referred to them a couple of times this week. I'll be honest with you, that gave me more encouragement than any grand plan or vision he could have come up with. I'm so proud!

Be encouraged! And take notes!

~ Dy

Friday, May 19

Little Things

There are so many Little Things that make up day-to-day life, things we take for granted and assume a general knowledge about. Parenthood has a way of highlighting some of the more humorous (the things you never thought you'd have to spell out), or the more mortifying (love that parroting stage...), and each stage of parenting covers new aspects of those Little Things.

Today, we were talking about how the Graduation Party is really the first time your student is an adult at a party - he's the host, the greeter, has responsibilities of making sure to do the rounds and thank each guest for attending.

The kids have always been great about party prep and being gracious -- offering tea and refills, clearing places at the table, pitching in on the pre-party cleaning and set up. I hadn't given any thought to the fact that this would be his first time being "on" at a party. Usually once the guests arrive, the kids splinter off to go play Werewolf or The Resistance, into the meadow for airsoft, or up to the fire ring for a campfire. They do their thing. The kids are good hosts to other kids, but how does it look different for a young person to be a good host to other adults?

In a lot of ways, it's no different - you greet everyone, offer drinks, show them the food. If they're new, show them the Good Bathroom and give them a heads up about snakes by the creek (because both are just generally appreciated). But in some ways, it's very different. I realized we hadn't necessarily articulated the difference, but I'd like to.

In keeping with our mantra to "set them up to succeed," it makes sense to give a fledgling a heads up about some of the new bits, or more nuanced aspects of being the host. (This is brainstorming at its finest, here, so please feel free to add any you can think of, too!)

* Be on hand to greet people as they arrive and take an active role in getting them introduced.

* Spend intentional time visiting with each of the guests, more than just your buddies or peers.

* Accept help - if you're still setting something up, or finishing something in the kitchen when guests arrive, and they ask how they can help, give them something to do. They'll enjoy being able to participate, you'll have company while you work, and everything will be done sooner so you can all enjoy kicking back and visiting.

* Keep an eye out for guests who may feel uncomfortable, or who may not know others at the party. Introduce them around, bring up things they have in common with other guests as a topic of discussion to help them find their groove.

* Keep an eye on the food and drink - keep it full. There's something about abundance that creates a willingness to partake. People are far less likely to take some salad, or a beverage, if there's only a bit in the bowl or cooler. Make it easy for people to enjoy themselves by maintaining a sense that there is plenty and they are welcome to it.

* As guests leave, you really need to get up and see them off, personally. A bit more than a wave good-bye from your game of cards that children can pull off.

These are all pretty universally applicable to any hosted event. For the Grad, there's the added element of graciously receiving gifts and then remembering to mark down who gave you what so that your thank you notes are personal and clear.

And, of course, the actual writing of thank you notes.

...the mailing of thank you notes.

I need to buy stamps.

So, what are some of your favorite tips for young men and women as they make the transition from "kid" to "host"?

Wednesday, May 17

I Got Stumped, But for Good Reason

There was a job opening for a position that, if I were to describe my ideal job, would be this job. I'm afraid I would pretty much upend my entire lifestyle to get it, and ask my wonderful family to jump through flaming hoops to help me make it happen (of course, we phrase it differently, don't we? "We'll all be in this together," which sounds great, but the reality is that other than the money, it would all have been for me.) Still, dream job. Open now. That's hard to not at least gawk at on your way past.

It was so very tempting to apply, even though I don't meet a good many of the requirements. Several friends encouraged me to apply, citing that I do meet a good many of the requirements. I thought I would give it a try, but I needed some writing pieces to showcase for the application.

And that's when I got writer's block.

About eating! Food! Nutrition and healing!

Really?

Could there be any clearer sign that this is not the right time for me to be looking for another outside-the-home job? I didn't think so. I sat quietly and thought for a few days. No words came. I sat some more. Last night, I had peace about the whole thing. Do I still want the job? Oh, heavens, yes. I want a job doing what I love (talking to people about healing their bodies with nutrition), learning every day (staying up on the science and new developments), and traveling (we've discussed my bohemian tendencies and my struggle to give them the occasional healthy outlet - thank you, homeschooling and day trips). I want a job where I'm the dumbest person in the room and I can absorb the wisdom of those around me. I want to work in an industry that actually improves lives, creates health, supports healing.

But I already have a job very much like that, and it's a full-time job that deserves full-time attention. Although I'm graduating one this year, there's another one next year. He's pretty set, but he's not ready to be on his own. Another coming down the pike in four years. Those two Littles at the end? They still need to be introduced to authors and stories, to poems and songs. They are still learning the ins and outs of how to read deeply, how to organize their thoughts, how to share their ideas. They haven't had Logic yet! I can't move my focus away from them yet. They need me just as much now as the Bigs have needed me the last 12 years.

I will have other jobs, other opportunities, but they will not have other childhoods.

I'm glad I clued in before I put us smack in the middle of what truly would have turned out to be a 3-ring circus. (Not because people can't work from home and teach -- hundreds of thousands of us do that every year. This is wholly about me and my limitations, my abilities, and the importance of putting my resources where they're needed, when they're needed.) But it's a good thing. A good place to be.

Besides, we've got enough other irons in the fire right now. Potentially some big news on deck for the whole family (that's really good for the whole family!) Party plans, Summer schedules, Confirmation classes, and time enough to keep us busy.

Best case of writer's block, ever.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Tuesday, April 18

*whine* It's SO HOT, but Good News!

Don't tell the kids I said that. When they complain that it's 80, I remind them that in August we'll be begging for an 80-degree day. And it's true. (Also, by October, I won't be able to force them outside if it's 70 because it'll be "too cold". So.) But still... once the humidity starts creeping in, it's just gross.

We've been culling the outgrown winter gear so there's less to stash over the summer. Wow, that's bittersweet. However, the foyer is looking fantastic! Also, now that we've stored all the hats, scarves, and random gloves, we've found a ton of flashlights and headlamps! The foyer also looks vaguely like a staging platform for night raids.

There's a cookout here at the house in the next week, and we want to have it tidied. Spring cleaning, if you will. Or, Spring Hey Let's Finish A Couple of Projects Because 12 Years Is A Bit Long To Be "Renovating" A House Cleaning. Things we did first are about due to be redone, you know? But life... it gets in the way of plans.

Speaking of life... James got notified today that he's been accepted into the Honors College at UAH. That was a huge boost. It's been a long, weird year, and things just kept crumbling at the last minute. He was pretty sure this was another one for the pile. (To be fair, they send the notification in a very nondescript envelope, and he didn't want to open it, thinking it was a "Thanks, but no thanks" letter.) I'm glad he opened it. Better yet, he's glad he opened it! Now we just need to find enough money to cover housing...

John brought his ACT composite up four points! That was huge! I am so proud of him. He's taking a break while he works on his Eagle project and gets his crew ready for Philmont.

Philmont plans are coming along. We need to hike more, and John and I both are looking forward to doing that as soon as we buy a little wiggle room on the house/property work. I'm trying to work more, to cover the various gaping wounds in the checking account. Not so much looking forward to that, but thankful for it, and appreciative of it. Sometimes, that's gotta be enough. Sometimes, it's more than enough.

Be encouraged!

~Dy