Showing posts with label just... stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label just... stuff. Show all posts

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


Friday, September 29

Little Things, Like Cool Mornings

When I was a kid, I dreamed of having a BIG LIFE, one full of adventure and travel, of friends met on the road and re-met on other roads (evidently, the world in my head was full of vagabonds). I dreamed of gauze-draped ceilings and rich tapestries keeping my small home comfortable while I was away, waiting to greet me with color and effervescence when I returned.

We've been here 12 years. I don't even have family pictures on the walls, much less tapestries or breezy draperies. This doesn't bother me (the thought of just how many cobwebs, and correspondingly, spiders, there would be with that kind of decor makes me a little queasy, truthfully). But it's definitely different.

And yet, my life is BIG. It's beautiful and loud and exhausting. It's not at all what I had pictured, but it's everything I could have wanted if I'd known about it. What surprises me the most is how the little things sprinkled throughout life are the things that bring the greatest joy.

For example, James is sitting beside me, reading for one of his classes. He occasionally lobs a snippet at me, or muses aloud about what he's reading. I do wish I'd read this book so we could discuss it, but I haven't, so I listen and make what I hope are engaging noises. This, though, is really precious to me, just being here together in the quiet of the morning with one of my favorite humans.

Jase is outside, working on Pine City. It's a city he's building for the My Little Pony ponies. It's got roads and parks and churches. There are houses and apartment complexes. How you build a two-story pine structure, without using bales or at least wire, is fascinating. He came in and told me I should go out on the balcony to write, "Because it's beautiful!" That he's enjoying it, and he wanted to share it, is beautiful to me and makes me sigh with contentment.

I had to take an Allegra to do it (one more thing I didn't see really picture), but he was right. It's the cool of the day, something we don't have year-round. It's back. And it is beautiful. Soon, I'll need to break out my shawl to sit outside and write! I can't wait!

We were all home for dinner last night.

The leaves that crunch under our feet as we walk.

The wonder of friendship, integrity, love. Wow! That totally beats whatever I had in mind.

Be encouraged!
Dy

Sunday, September 24

*psst* Hi.

I am not dead. Nor have I killed anyone, run anyone off, or set anything on fire. There should be cupcakes for that. We have, however, firmly identified the point at which we cannot function anymore, and ballet is it. Or rather, ballet, college, work, theater -- all in town, with us living in the country. That's it. That spot, right there.


So, we move into town next month (I'm doing daily countdown announcements like a six-year-old near Christmas!) and we'll be officially putting the Forever Home on the market. Not only will this buy us some breathing space, but it'll be significantly easier to show the place when we don't have seven people's worth of activities and lunch bags drizzled from the front door to the kitchen. (Because that's all we have the energy for when we do get home, limply drop our belongings as we stagger to the fridge.)

It's funny. Some of the kids have mused that we should have bought a house in town when we got here. It's a knee-jerk reaction to agree (because nobody wants to pack everything - that's their real motivation, there), but then I think back on it, and no. No, this was the perfect place to raise our family. Bonfires in the lower meadow, smaller campfires in the upper ... Dinners with friends on the balcony, airsoft in the woods ... Fruit from the trees and minnows from the creek (we ate the fruit, but not the minnows) ... Window frogs and lightning bugs ... Expeditions into the woods to look for new plants or harvest blackberries ... Building projects and Scout projects ... The Pinewood Derby track that lived in the basement, in use, for years ... Riding the wagon down the drive, or trying to get Balto to be a sled dog (didn't work) ... The incredible, amazing friends we've made here ... We have a dozen years of delicious, precious memories firmly rooted in this place, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

We'll make new memories in new places, yes, but they don't negate that the Forever Home was a pretty darned fantastic home base for over a decade. It just needs to be a fantastic place for someone else, now - someone with little ones who want to garden and play in the creek and really revel in all the delightful surprises this place has to offer.

And I need to live in a place that lets all my people do their thing while still giving Z and I time to do ours.

23 days!! *squee*

Be encouraged!
Dy

Saturday, August 12

Well, then...

I didn't think the kitchen had much we could get rid of.

I was wrong. So wrong.

And now, it looks so much better! So, yay!

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

I wrote that ^^ two weeks ago. Since then, we've been working on the rest of the house. Ballet auditions. Home staging. Work. School. Planning. HOLY COW. I came up for air and it's August, y'all!

The meadow is mowed. The trash is out. The walls are clean! The game is afoot!

Meanwhile, we're putting together some section hikes of the Pinhoti for this fall. This gives me something fun to do now, and something to look forward to for later. (When it's 95 degrees and 80% humidity, I do not look forward to so much as walking to the car. But I can plan indoors, where there's a/c!)

I found this, too. Don't really want to get down to 8#, but it did inspire me to drop a significant portion of my pack weight for this fall. Check it out.

http://www.opb.org/television/video/orfg-2817-01-ultralight-hiking/

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

James starts school on Wednesday. He's loving his job. (He also threatened to just sleep there until we're done with the house. I think he's not enjoying the process of working on the house after working at his job all day.) We don't see him much, but he's happy when we do see him.

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

I still don't have a clue what the schedule is for this fall. I don't have John's schedule, or Jacob's schedule, and that means I can't make Em and Jase's schedules. That's making me a little twitchy.

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

We'll have photos of the house soon! I'm so excited!

And with that, we're mostly caught up. I've got some room in my brain now and can write again.


Saturday, July 29

Listing A House

With Z looking for work that will take us closer to his mom, and the boys' activities (work, school, dance) keeping them in town from dawn to dusk, we've decided to sell the Forever Home and move into a rental.

Now to declutter enough that I can stage it and make a comprehensive list of Things To Be Done. Yikes!

Today, we worked in the basement and the foyer. I can't even pretend to have any idea how much headway we made, or what we need to do next. I just need to get some stuff out of the way so I can breathe. We did quite a lot, though, and this evening everyone is sleeping well.

Tonight we attended a going away party for friends. That's always a bittersweet occasion. We're happy for them to have new adventures and explorations, but there will be an empty place for those of us left behind. It was good to hug them one more time tonight, to see the kids all grown (growing?) up... And thank God for technology. We can video chat, keep up to date through social media, and email. So it's almost like we get to go along with them. That makes the distance easier.

Tonight, though, I'm beat, physically and mentally. It's time to kick off my boots and watch something stupid.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Wednesday, July 26

What A Ridiculously Long Month

I got home Sunday evening. It was wonderful to be home! I think the family actually missed me. Jase got up bright and early Monday to begin sharing with me every random thought he's had the last month. I think he saved them up, because they came hot and fast that morning. Em keeps hugging me Just Because. Z keeps smiling and saying, "I'm glad you're home."

The biggest indicator, however, seems to be the number of things they don't know the schedule for. When is the movie shoot? When does ballet start back? Are we taking Burritt classes this year? Can I do dual enrollment? Can we build a rocket? When are we going to the water park? I spent Monday finding answers more concrete than "soon" and planning the school year so we can begin it.

The concrete on the front porch has been repainted. The basement stairwell is textured and painted. Both are so lovely! I'd hoped to come home to boxes, but no boxes so far. That worked out well in the end, though, as I needed to pull out this year's books and set them aside. Today, perhaps, boxes.

I have so much appreciation for how they all worked together to take up the slack that my absence caused! Other than expressing it verbally, I've tapped into my joy at having this home, this family, this life, and I will remember to share that joy with them, as well. This month away was long, but it was a mental and spiritual sabbatical during which I had the room to breathe, to think, to align my priorities with my goals. This is some exciting stuff!

Other than the weather (it is July in the South), it is so good to be home!

Be Encouraged!
~ Dy

Thursday, June 22

AAAIIIGHHHHH!

So, I'll be upfront with you... I'm a little nervous about this trip. I'm excited, sure. It's going to be gorgeous and amazing. Just seeing the boys' reactions to the new terrain and their experience - WOW. And I'm fairly certain that they're going to need to drug me to get me back in the van to come back to the humidity when it's over. But I'm also nervous, and it's manifesting in weird ways.

For instance, I developed an overwhelming concern that I was going to fall off a cliff, or into an arroyo and - no, not die, but catch my wedding ring on a mesquite branch on the way down and lose my finger. I mean, I could die. Gravity is a harsh mistress and I'm not graceful even when I'm not entirely at her mercy. But it wasn't the fear of plummeting to my death that has kept me up at night (or even of getting impaled by a mesquite branch, although now that I think of it...); it was the fear of having to hike out with my finger in a cooler. So I fixed it.


That puppy will tear right off, I hope! Now I can move on to other worrisome things...

Like running out of food on the trail. I got my meals divvied up and vacuum sealed today. The breakfast bar looks like I'm braced for an orienteering course at an orphanage right now. In spite of months of research, running the numbers, eyeballing the menu, cross-checking everything against the norm, plus adding 20% for error, I just can't quite trust that I'm not going to run out of food and get stuck sucking down pop tarts and being thankful for it. (So I just ordered an entire POUND of Pili Nuts. See how this is unfolding?) Man, you give a girl a vacuum sealer and she goes nuts.

Heh. Nuts.

Yeah, I'm tired.

But now that the food and the ring have been addressed, maybe I can get some decent sleep, yeah? And work on my coping mechanisms. That would probably also be beneficial. But for now, I have nuts and silicon and am feeling a little better.

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, May 31

Fast Arrivals and Sudden Stops

The family has arrived! They pulled in on Sunday evening, and as quickly as they entered, all progress on the house gave way to time enjoying baby giggles and cousin laughter.

Z's taken them fishing and to the water park. He is a larger-than-life figure, and I think he's enjoying it just as much as they are.

Tomorrow, we take a pontoon out on the river for a day of cruising and cove exploration! We've got the menu planned and the route figured out. The nephews will get a chance to pilot a boat beneath the bridge if they're very good. (Probably even if they're not. But they're good kids, so I'd put money on making it happen.)

I didn't go fishing, but got to stay behind and hold the newest addition to the family - a wee baby with scrunchy-faced expressions and laughter that starts in the toes! I also got to visit (in the comfort of climate controlled, upholstered space) with my dear Sister-in-Law for a bit. I've gotta say, my Brother-in-Law married quite a gem. She is just fantastic.

I didn't make it to the water park, either. Jacob needed ferrying from point A to point B, back to point A, and again to point B, and so on... We had inadvertently overbooked this week. He thought he hadn't received the Space Academy scholarship (he hadn't expected to, since he did receive it last year), so he committed to the school sketches at the ballet school, which take place the same week. About a month later, they received more funding and went through the applicants to see who else they could award it to. His application passed the second round. It was a wonderful conundrum - but one that required a good deal of logistics and a wee bit of heckling to make it happen. He made it, though, to all the rehearsals and tonight's performance, and he's thoroughly engaged and having a successful camp experience.

He also napped in the car for about an hour before the show. I don't blame him. You can only go 90 mph for so long before you have to stop.

And rest.

Which is what we've all been doing this week with the family, and it's been nice!

We'll need to muster some spring in our gait before this weekend, though. It's about to get busy!

I hope your last week of May is going beautifully!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Saturday, May 27

It feels so good to succeed.

(I found this in my drafts folder from 2008. It made me smile. I thought it should see the light of day.)

We all know that it feels good to succeed. We all know the power of praise well-earned. I think we (and by that, I mean "I") fall into the trap of wanting to praise perfection, and feeling exasperated by failures or struggles.

But life is full of failures and struggles. How we handle them is one true measure of success. (And perfection? Just throw that one out the window. It's overrated and stressful. Blech.) It doesn't take much to say simple things that have a strong impact on guiding how they learn to handle the struggles and failures:

I'm proud of you for sticking that one out.

You really put a lot of thought into that, and it shows. Good job.

Wow, you did it! *big smile*

Whew, that one used to be tricky, but it looks like you've mastered it.

Well done.

Slow down, I know you can do it.

It's okay. You gave it a good shot. We can try again tomorrow. How about we do...

You got farther today than you did before. Excellent.

Feels good to tackle a challenge, doesn't it?

And if it doesn't feel good to tackle a challenge? Well, then it's worth looking into why. That'll be different for everyone. I know when I'm not up for tackling a challenge, it's usually due to one of three things: I don't feel like I have the tools to tackle it; I don't have a clear idea of what, exactly, I'm supposed to do with it; I don't feel like I've got somebody in my corner on it. While I haven't done any official studies (and even if I had, I wouldn't be able to cite them because my organizational skills are deplorable), but my guess is that people often fear (or avoid...) taking on a challenge because of something very similar to that list.

The wonderful thing is that we can be a positive resource to eliminating those barriers. If we listen and provide presence and understanding, we can help them free themselves up to tackle the challenge, clear the hurdle, create the metaphor!

Be encouraged! (I added that bit tonight, but it seems appropriate)

~ Dy

Saturday, April 22

Always With The Tone of Surprise

I am so in love with this house right now.

I am in love with it every time we do a deep clean and a general decluttering.

And I am caught completely off guard every time.

This really is the perfect home for a small family with a few big toys and a ton of books. It's really working hard to hold a medium-sized family with a billion divergent interests and a ton of books. It pulls it off, but with time the debris accumulates higher and higher, eventually eradicating the very things we love about it (the open spaces, the natural light, the outside room to roam). Twice a year, we double down on knocking it back, and twice a year I am in awe of what a truly adorable little place this is.

I kind of hope the kids will one day pool their resources and get me a cleaning service for a year as a Christmas or birthday gift. Actually, now that I think of it, I'm totally putting that in my Amazon wish list. Of course, that'll probably be when they decide to get the "Come Back With A Warrant" mat, which wouldn't be nearly as funny when I'm 80 and no longer homeschooling... Or maybe it would? Hmm.

We all have terrible Spring Fever right now. This is normally when we'd dial back the academics and go play before it gets hot, but they all have outside classes this Spring, and those run on a traditional school schedule... so we're stuck, and getting twitchy. We want to go somewhere and do something! The South is a gorgeous place in the Spring. There's something to love about every place, and at least one season to love about it. Spring and Fall here are pretty fantastic.

And now, I must awaken the Kraken and make them air out their lairs. The last step in the process! (Also, notably, one of my favorites! I love a freshly aired lair!)

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, March 24

Well, then.

My week, in pictures. (I thought I had more pictures. This has not been a great week, though, and it makes total sense that I didn't take a lot of pictures of the not-great bits. So, well, there you have it.)

It started out really well...


And then, it all went horribly wrong...


And then, out of nowhere...


As of right now, we have a temporary set up in place until we can get that line fixed. Love that the propane company delivered 100 gallons to the tank before testing the system for a leak, even though it was clear that something was broken  - and then they had to lock it until the leak is fixed (which I totally understand locking it -- but I do hope they, likewise, understand the laughter that ensued when they hit me with the invoice for the gas in the tank that they've locked... because sometimes life is just like that).

We do spend a lot of time just sitting and watching the light through the glass in the new door. I bet it'll look even better once the trim is up and the stickers are off the door, too!

And our Easter Baby is nine. Wow. THE baby. Is... not so much a baby. And I'm okay with that, except when the realization that he's halfway grown hits. Then I'm not. Parenting is weird. But he felt loved and appreciated and welcome on his special day (hopefully he feels that way every day - hopefully, we can all feel that way more often than not), and he's happy to be nine.

Be encouraged!

~Dy

Sunday, March 19

A New Project!

Guys. We've been so busy with raising kids and driving to every corner of three counties lately that we haven't made much headway on the house. Other than the wall we built two years ago, what discernible headway we have made has been in the more mundane realm of picking shoes up from under the coffee table in the living room and shaking off the table cloth in the dining room. Occasionally, we get wild and break out the paper shredder to beat back the drastic piles of college junk mail.

Well, I volunteered the property for a party in April, and that, combined with the wonderful weather, has lit a fire under all of us! Landscaping! Caulking! Debris eradication! Allofit! This past week, Z and I have been researching doors for the basement. (They were ghetto when they were installed 46 years ago. Time, and the elements, have not improved their appearance or function one bit.) We thought it would take a couple of paydays to pull that one off, but really, it needs to happen soon. (We suspect, although we have no reason to think this, that having decent doors on the walk-out will spur us to make the rest of the basement nice. It seems a sound perspective. We may, however, just end up broke, hanging out in a junky basement, staring at the nice doors.)

Yesterday, we got up early to visit Gobble-Fite, a local materials supply - they were great to work with during the bulk of the renovations, and they deliver. Considering the space is 112" wide, delivery options are appealing. Unfortunately, we forgot they aren't open on Saturdays. We brainstormed a few other places we could visit so the day wouldn't be a total wash. (Also, neither of us wanted to work on the landscaping, so we were motivated to get out!)

We stopped at our favorite hardware store and met with one of the guys there. The door options weren't great, but he did have some good ideas. Also, they have the beadboard that I want for the living room ceiling. We made notes and moved on. We checked another couple of places and then realized basement doors would likely have to be ordered and we're going to have to do some framing to alter the rough opening because part of the unique joy of this place is that so many elements are not standard. Or square. So, that's cool. But what shall we do this weekend?

Well, as luck would have it, we ended up at Lowe's. Lowe's has the front entry door I've had my eye on for the last five years. It's lovely, it's solid, and it's usually in stock. What's not to love? They had it in stock today. Oh, yeah...


This may not be exciting to everyone, but for me it is right up there with the day after we pulled the carpet out and were able to get all the way through the foyer before the weird Abandoned Shack smell hit us. I have hated our current front door for years (11.5 years, to be exact). It was oddly stained and never sealed, so the wood was rough and blotchy and hard to clean. The panels had split over the years, and you could see daylight through the door in places where you shouldn't have been able to see through. (Seriously, the paper boy from Better Off Dead could totally have kicked in this door.) The glass was hard to clean and there wasn't enough of it.

But this beauty? She's solid! She's sealed! She'll let light into the foyer! I'M SO EXCITED!!!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, March 16

The New Mop and The Thick of It

There are days that I feel like I've gained no discernible skills in the last twenty years. I really don't. Sure, I've managed not to misplace any of the children for more than a few minutes at a time. And it's true that as far as educating the children goes, they're able to function on a level that's in line with their cognitive and physical abilities. However, laundry routines stymie me. My floors have never been so gross, nor have I ever had to work so hard to keep them from getting gross. (What IS that? I don't have toddlers anymore! This should not be a thing.) Schedules and juggling and remembering to call the dentist to tell him we're switching to another dentist... (which I just remembered, and yet, I am not going to do it right now, because I'm writing)...

Last year, while visiting with a friend, admiring all the lovely decor she has in her home, and how she was so calm and centered, she snorfled at me, cocked her head and said, "Oh, you're in the thick of it right now. It gets easier. I'm a much better housekeeper than I thought I was, and you are, too. You just can't tell yet."

There are days I cling to this like I cling to the promises of Jesus. I am thankful every day for her friendship and words of wisdom. (And I say this in no way to disparage my faith, but to say that sometimes it's the practical shoulder punch and attaboy that keep me from losing my s%@# by cocktail hour. That's just how it is.)

So this morning, as I sit feeling glad I remembered to top off my coffee before I mopped the floor (and also very glad I'm not having to do a round of American Ninja Mom to get to the pot without touching the wet floor... again), I'm feeling OK. (By the way, I like my new mop. I got this one. It isn't a great mop, and it doesn't do a particularly splendid job of cleaning the floor, but it's easy to use - and thus, gets used more often, which hopefully offsets the overall lack of industrial strength aspect - because negligence makes for a nasty floor, no matter what mop you have). I feel like maybe I don't just suck at this whole gig. Maybe. Jury's still mostly out, but it's looking good.

I guess it's time to consider graduation announcements. And invitations. And plan a cookout. And clean the property. Maybe finish the basement. Do some landscaping. Honestly, all I want to do is hang out with him, reading books, telling stories, and laughing over social media posts. Maybe make some sushi together. I don't want to spend the last few months doing Other Things.

Balance? Probably. But then we're back to that lack of discernible skill development. Thankfully, I'm not in it alone. We'll figure it out. We'll likely get a few things wrong. The house definitely won't look any better in the meantime. Maybe I can get someone to mop?

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Friday, March 3

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

One good thing has come of the boys' foray into the fashion industry: I get to model (heh) how to step outside your comfort zone and still function.

This has been so good for me. Not because it's oodles of fun to stand in a crowd of 5'10" size zeroes and a dozen photographers. Not because I will ever have any clue about fashion or how it works. But because it's easy to just accept that the entirety of parenting is being shoved repeatedly out of your comfort zone and call it good. (As soon as you figure out how to not stress about toddlers, the game changes and you're in the preschool years. Shortly after you get the hang of that, here comes 6. And then pre-adolescence. Then, God help us, 13. It will keep you on your toes, for sure.) It's easy to stop trying things that make you uncomfortable because you know in the blink of an eye you're going to be discussing genitalia and executive function on a damn-near daily basis, so why go looking for trouble?

Because it stretches us. It lengthens us. It strengthens us. Because if yoga is good for your body, then this is yoga for your mind. For your spirit. For your outlook.

Some of what I've learned, I already knew and just needed to be reminded of: those lovely girls are just girls - they have the capacity to be kind, to be catty, to be anxious, and to be bold. You know, just like everyone else. Those photographers? They just love what they do. They see beauty in everything - every nook and cranny, every twinkling eye and every somber moment.

Some of what I've learned is new: what happens behind the scenes, how all this *flaps hands wildly* works, what goes into it, what makes a show (or a photo shoot, or a look book) happen. I've learned what the process looks like, and how it's different for each person involved (going back to that whole people-are-people thing, above). It's been fascinating. And exhausting. And for my ENTJ brain, a little bit frustrating. I'm not going to lie. But overall, it's been good.

Mostly, though, I appreciate being able to show the boys, first hand, how one goes about wading into a world that is absolutely not your world, and how the same things we've taught them about our world apply.

Be kind.
Be honest.
Look people in the eye.
Smile.
Offer to help.
Appreciate what others do.
Offer to do what you can, and be willing to learn new things.
Wear it like you meant it.*

Plus, my posture's improving. 😄 So I guess even standing in a room of 5'10" size zeroes is beneficial in and of itself.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

* OK, that last one comes from the many, many times we've gotten to wherever we're going only to discover one of us was wearing mis-matched socks, or shoes, or the wrong pants. Just hold your head up and wear it like you meant it. That works on the runway, too.

Friday, February 24

Understanding

Last night, when the boys returned from class, James said, "Wow. Now I understand how hard what you do really is."

I truly appreciated that. He wasn't talking about the teaching, planning, guiding, or feeding aspects, but that's OK. Because what's really killing me this semester is Thursday's driving.

Z and I have a car sharing arrangement that allows whoever is driving more miles to take the most fuel efficient vehicle. So, two days a week I get his commuter car. (We're not quite where we can sell the Suburban, but we are very, very close.) It's a great arrangement and it's run smoothly for the most part. Yesterday, however, on his way out the door, James snagged the keychain with the one and only key to Z's car. I didn't realize it when he grabbed the keys, because we keep all the keys on the same shelf. We have copies of most keys, and he just didn't think about it being an issue.

But when the rest of us got ready to head out to run errands, hit the book store, get shoes, and head to class (all things I'd planned because Jacob had opted to skip ballroom to buy us an extra two hours), I couldn't find the key (obviously, with it not being home). Eventually, I called James to ask where he'd set it when he'd gotten in the previous night. (This is the one time I hated that he's so good about putting his phone on vibrate while he's in class. I had to keep calling and just hope it was in his pants pocket.)

"Well, I have one here, in my pocket."

"That's the only one. I need it!"

So, bless him, James drove up from Ballroom to bring me the key. And I tasked him with getting Jacob to ballet so I could take the Littles straight to sign language because the delay had made it likely that no one would get to the right place in time if I had to do both (there is no time to detour to the house, really, and we hit rush hour traffic). He did (because he's awesome). And then he had to drive back down for class, and to pick up his brother who'd waited for him at a coffee shop, then drive home. When he got home, he'd logged 192 miles. Or, as we like to call it, A Full Thursday.

He was beat. I sympathized and suggested a hot cup of tea and an early lights out. He probably slept like the dead.

And as much as I hated for him to have to run the gauntlet of a Thursday, I'm actually glad he did it. It's good for him to understand that sometimes the schedule is a high wire act and we all have to do our parts in order for us not to keep falling off the wire and having to scramble across the net, back up the ladder, and out onto the wire again. But it was also very good for him to have first-hand experience of the way you scramble across the net, back up the ladder, and out onto the wire again. Ta-da! It can be done. And it's OK.

I mean, I wouldn't ever shove a kid off a bike just so they could learn to get back on, but it is good to fall off and see that it's not the end of the world. I guess we'll just call those the happy accidents in life. (One more, and then I'll stop. Promise.) Things come apart at the seams and you learn how to use double-sided tape or a stapler to keep it together until you can get home and redo the seams, right?

As a parent, it was a huge win, if only because I didn't yell (well, outside my head). It was an accident. It wasn't malicious or indicative of any massive character failing. It was just a goof up, and although it made SO many things hard for the rest of the day, it didn't do an actual harm. Plus, the Littles got to class on time, and that was fantastic for them.

Happy accidents, none on the actual highway. I'm a happy camper. And today, we get a spare key made for Z's commuter car...

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, February 9

Thank Goodness for Cell Phones

With the older boys out and away so much, we got them cell phones to help with the logistics. Sometimes I wonder why we bothered. They seldom answer them. Neither one has set up voice mail (not that any of us checks it -- what a different world it is since the advent of caller ID!) There isn't a segment of society I know of that is more likely to leave the house with 9% battery charge and no charger cable.

And yet, what a difference it's made to have this technology readily available.

One little message lets us know they've arrived safely.

"Survived"

"not dead"

"didn't die"*

None of mine send normal messages like, "made it on time" or "we have arrived safely at our destination and will now proceed with the scheduled activities". I'm OK with that. They're communicating with me. They're giving me what is, truthfully, the only part I care about: Are You OK? It's wonderful. And they're good about that.

With one swipe of a finger, they let us know if there was a change in plans: "Going to Austin's" or "Sent the Littles ahead with John".

In the 80's? Yeah, that wasn't gonna happen. (You may have been a better kid than I was, and been better about touching base. My friends and I tended to act like once we left the house, that part of our lives was paused and the part we were in was the only one with anything actually happening. Not consciously, mind, but looking back at it, that seems to be a reasonable explanation. We weren't intentionally jerks, but we were thoughtless about anything that wasn't the here and now.) I think kids do still tend to be a little thoughtless about anything that's not the here and now, but cell phones make it easier to remember to let your mother know you're not dead in a ditch right now.

My poor mother. All our poor mothers. We may or may not have had a quarter on us. Or thought to ask a friend's mother if we could use their house phone. And when there was a change of plans? Mmm-boy. My mother is gone, but if your mother is still alive, would you please apologize to her on my behalf?

If only for that, alone, the cell phones are wonderful. Add in the ability to say, "We're out of cream," when they'll be passing the store, or "Do you need gas money?" while you're actually AT the bank, and it drops the whole difficulty factor of communication by a full magnitude.

So while these perks don't negate the very real concerns our kids have to face with learning to navigate technology, and they don't replace legit parental involvement and communication, I am feeling the very real love for what positive things they've brought into our lives.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

*actual examples of standard messages

Wednesday, February 8

The High Adrenaline Start

After a particularly long night earlier this week, I collapsed into bed. What felt like minutes later, I heard, "It's 8:30. There's coffee. Thought you might want to, you know, get up." I schlepped out of bed, checked my calendar, and FREAKED. I had an 8:30 appointment!

Out the door and on the road by 8:35 (it was not going to be an attractive meeting, that's for sure) when the individual I had messaged about running late replied, "I thought it was XX day, is it not?"

Why yes. *whew* Yes, it is. When we'd scheduled the meeting, the parties involved weren't sure which date and time would work best, so I plugged in both to be on the safe side. Then I never deleted the extraneous one once we'd nailed down the details.

I went back home, kicked off my shoes, and knocked out two hours of work over the best tasting, most appreciated cup of coffee I've had in ages.

Later that day, I related the story to the kids. Not as a cautionary tale, but as a reminder that we all do dumb things sometimes, and it's OK. The difference is in how you respond. Do you own up to it? Do you do your best to make it happen (fix it, clarify it, etc.)? Do you communicate? Those things go a long way toward smoothing the path forward, and allowing you to go a little easier on yourself.

Keeping those to a minimum, however, will preserve those vital minutes that are prone to being shaved off the end of your life! I'm not gonna lie about that. Goodness.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, February 5

I wish I'd gone into research

I was never good at taking notes, and when I did, I'd often lose them. The running joke in our house, as we search for yet another list I've misplaced, is that this is why I never went into research. But after educating children, having cancer, and refurbishing a house, I wish I had. It would be nice to have volumes of well-tended notes to refer back to, to see if there are new patterns or untapped ideas.

This morning, over sad coffee, I read through the recent posts in a Keto group I'm a member of. (This group is scientifically oriented, and is based on the work of Drs. Phinney and Volek.) The NSV (non-scale victories) are amazing -- off of blood pressure medication, off of insulin, off of statins, off of anxiety medications, no longer categorized as diabetic/pre-diabetic... the list really does go on and on. Daily. The weight stabilization (both gaining and losing, to find optimal) is impressive. Every day, people are getting their lives back, and the healing that's happening in this group comes straight from the learning, growing, and taking control that the members are engaging in to save their own lives. It's my morning read, and is such a place of encouragement for me.

And yet, weekly, I also read stories of doctors who (essentially) won't take notes. They acknowledge that their patients are improving in ways they hadn't expected, but they won't acknowledge or record what their patients are doing differently to see such drastic results. (I have, personally, had the same experience with my new oncologist -- he won't listen to what I'm doing, claims it has no impact, and then when things go far better than the evidence would suggest, or than he expected, he shrugs and says it's a fluke. Sometimes, flukes are part of a pattern you're not seeing.) Some doctors threaten to fire their patients for going off the USDA (or the ADA) recommendations. I don't get that. (And, to be fair, many doctors are saying, "Whoa. Wait a minute, here. What's this?" They have a special place in the hearts of every patient who has healed and gotten his life back.)

I get that a physician has a responsibility to provide a certain standard of care for his patients, and that this standard is described by protocols in place. But we must always be learning, and taking notes to facilitate knowledge and understanding is not precluded by that mandate. If what you're recommending isn't working, and something else works, you don't have to become a kool-aid-drinking-total-believer. But take notes. And if you see it happen again, take more notes. Look for patterns, and if you start to see a pattern emerge, pay attention. Have the mind of a beginner. Why is this not the norm in the medical profession? Was it ever? (I want to say it was, but then I think back on my antibiotic-happy family physician and reconsider my stance... the truth is that I don't know.) I do know that most people become physicians because they want to help people. They want to improve lives, facilitate health, be an integral part of making this world a better place. But it's easy after a while to defer to protocol and forget that we're still learning.

Am I saying Ketogenesis is the answer for all the world's ailments? No. I'm not. Do I think it merits a serious look for some ailments, particularly diabetes? Yes. Do I wish that more people were taking notes and comparing them? Yes. Do I wish I'd gone into research and learned to take better notes, myself? Oh, goodness, yes.

While teaching the kids science over the years, my mantra has always been,

"Once you start acting like you know all the answers, you stop asking questions. Don't be that guy."

Because while there is SO much we know now, there is SO much we do not know.

When I'm an old lady and you see me in the street, yelling, "Take notes! Pay attention! Look for patterns! Talk to others!" Well, you'll know why.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Saturday, February 4

That Was Bracing

I awoke this morning to a cold house and the heat just blowing for all it's worth. It seems that after Z and a boy had let Buddy the Dog out this morning, he'd decided he wanted back in. Since they were already gone and the rest of us were asleep, he ditched the back yard and tried the front door, which, luckily for him, was not secured. So he nudged it open and happily curled up on his bed in the living room. Leaving the 22 degree air to waft through the house for us. Anybody had any luck teaching a dog to close a door?

So, I'm up. Really up. Wide awake and ready to roll! That's good.

And Z had made coffee before he headed out. Also appreciated.

We have a quiet weekend planned. The Scouts are serving a pancake breakfast this morning, and Jacob has rehearsals. A little reading, a little cleaning. Worship tomorrow. Our weekends aren't the most exciting thing in the world, but they are so very nourishing -- time for us to spend together, time for us to regroup.

It just hit me that the kids probably don't see the rhythm of it all. Hmmm. I don't want to be pedantic and turn every interaction into a "lesson" for them, but I don't want them to miss the opportunity to spot the importance of downtime, of cycling your activity, of touching base and recharging. They're going to need that one day (some sooner than others). Maybe I'll point it out this afternoon - make a pot of tea, read aloud, express my appreciation for this time. The appreciation bit is absolutely genuine. And who doesn't love a little hot tea on a cold afternoon?

I do hope the house is warmer by then.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy