Showing posts with label kids rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kids rock. Show all posts

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

Tuesday, March 14

From 0 to 60 in 3 years!

Thankfully, we are not sports cars.

Jacob just realized that if he really wants to apply to the US Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy, he probably better get on it with Scouting and earn his Eagle. The thing is, between ballet, school, and that random year of cancer, we have no idea where he is right now with Scouts.

I emailed his Advancement Coordinator and asked her for a copy of his Individual History Report (which she emailed to me, instead of telling me I had to come to a meeting, because she is awesome and kind and goes out of her way to help people who can't get to meetings until after May). He and I compared that with his Scout Book (which, honestly, it seems nobody even bothers to read, let alone use - and I don't know why! It's a wonderfully done book, with helpful information, useful logs, and handy charts. The Boy Scout Handbook is a list-maker's dream!)

As of right now, he's been in Scouts for three years. He's been an active Scout in an active Troop. He is... Second Class. I can't help but wonder... how hard one has to work to do that. We're going to chalk it up to being spread a little thin. Or something. The thing is, he's got a ton of stuff done, just not signed off. So that's good. And he's got a lot of stuff Very Nearly Done. Also good, although a bit frustrating.

I told a friend that I'm really glad he's not my first Scout, or I'd worry that there was something wrong. There's not, though. This is just pretty much how boys figure it out - by not figuring it out at first and letting it get really good and challenging. Then one day, *poof*. They up and figure it out. (I cannot tell you how much I wish I could go back ten years and tell my old self this.)

Then, as if to highlight just how OK things are, when I asked James to keep an eye toward actively encouraging Jacob, he laughed and said, "Just as soon as I'm done encouraging John, I'll get right on it." I had to laugh. He's had so much on his plate lately that I guess he's finally learned not to put more on until he's cleared a little room. But then he sighed a contented sigh and said that he feels for John, right now, because he knows exactly how it feels to have Senior year looming, college visits, ACT prep, and Eagle project all just hovering right there in your face. He was quiet a moment before he said, "But it's good."

If my time on earth were due to end soon, that would have been the perfect time to go. "But it's good." Ah, yes, it is.

And that, my friends, will likely be what gives me the encouragement I need to keep going, to give it my all, to know that it's good. It matters.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, March 12

A Sleepy Day of Worship

We awoke this morning, bright and early. Oh, so, early. Fortunately, it's been so cloudy and overcast this winter that we've stopped relying on how light it is outside to gauge the time. We just had to believe the clocks when they told us it was 6:30 *yawn*...

Somehow, Em and I both got slated to serve in this morning's worship service. I maintain that it was part brilliance (as we might not have made it with the time change), and part evil plan (as helpers have to show up half an hour earlier to get squared away) that they put two of us in on this Sunday. But we made it. On time, even. And nobody fell asleep in their seat. The drive up and the drive back? We lost several, there. But we held our own in the pews.

Yesterday, we had a Philmont training hike, so John and I were out the door at 6 in the morning. The high was something like 39 degrees, and it rained on us nonstop after the first mile. It was a really great opportunity to identify weak points in our gear and training. My gear is basically composed of weak points held together by gravity. My training is essentially at the whim of gravity. But it's good to know.

The Vibram Five Fingers, however, held up admirably, and today, my feet are about the only part of me that is not sore and tight. No blisters, either, in spite of doing the entire 12 miles in wet feet. The thighs, I can blame on the hills we did. (So many hills!) The back and shoulders on not having adjusted the internal frame of my pack before I loaded it up (d'oh!) Also, 400mg magnesium is not near enough to stave off DOMS. See? We learned a lot! Never stop learning!

I'm getting a handle on what food to take for the trail. Blessedly, pre-cooked bacon is shelf stable and fairly light. Guess what I'm eating on the trail? Oh, yeah! The Oberto original jerky trail mix is also nice, although it won't make a full meal substitute. The carbs are a little high for regular consumption (within the context of nutritional ketosis). I pitched the idea today to Z of making jerky from an entire roast before we head out. We'll do a practice roast, first. I'm thinking if we salt it and dry it properly, we can vacuum seal it and it should hold up OK. Will keep you updated on how that goes.

After the hike, John and I split and headed to a bonfire for their ballroom dance class. That was hosted by a family that just started this year, and it was a delightful opportunity for the kids to visit and get to know each other outside the formal setting of the dance floor. They had a blast. I had a blast, too. We got in a lot later than we'd anticipated, but it was worth it. Even at 6:30 this morning.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, March 8

Kentucky is Beautiful and Life is Weird

So, John and I are in Kentucky to visit the University of Kentucky. Since it's a full day's drive and the tour starts before we usually even get around to making breakfast, we decided to come up the day before and spend the night. The little bohemian in my head started chanting, "Road trip! Road trip!" It is so beautiful here. Wow! Go, Kentucky!

He, however, was not so keen. Turns out, he doesn't have a little bohemian in his head. He has a homebody and someone who bakes... a comedian, and a pretty competent first responder. And that's about it. I don't get it, but he's happy, so I don't have to get it. He is also a very good sport, and he agreed to stop at the Hidden River Cave for a tour and some rappelling yesterday. So that was cool.

We were about three hours into our drive when he told me that he's actually pretty committed to going to one college, in particular. He'd only agreed to come on this because he has made the reservation before he'd toured the other one. By the time he'd made his decision, it was too late to cancel with any decency, and he didn't want to just be a no-show.

Thus begins, and ends, our Spring College Tour of '17. *moment of silence*

Jacob's already making noise about the Naval Academy. So, probably not gonna get a lot of travel time out of that one, either.

If this keeps up, I may just drag the Littles to see every school on every continent. I've been looking forward to week-long road trips with fledgling kids ever since I learned that was A Thing. I pictured unplanned segues into neat little shops, eating at small diners, walking the streets of cities we hadn't seen before. I envisioned mad dashes to get from one place to another because this next one might just be The One. I hadn't honestly expected that it wouldn't be Our Thing. So far, it's not. Both of them hit a couple mandatory tours that I'd set up to help them get a feel for it, then promptly poked around, picked the school they wanted, and said, "Found it." Done. (None were on the Mandatory Tours list, so at least I know they weren't just picking something to shut me up. That's good.)

Yet another reminder that it's all OK - however it shakes down, whatever it looks like, it is all OK. Also, it's about them. Enjoy them. Let them lead. Follow where they want to explore. If you can get a road trip out of it, savor it. If not, enjoy hanging out at home. Whatever works, works. And that's good stuff.

We're off to breakfast at the hotel. Checked the weather, and it doesn't look like we'll need to stop for rain jackets, so we're set for the day!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Saturday, March 4

Today is the Finale

I guess Z let the Littles wash their Pusheen plush toys yesterday when he threw in a load of sheets. That was very cool of him. The little cretins (I say that lovingly), however, opened the wash and retrieved their soft toys before the load had finished drying, but didn't think to mention it to anyone. So we had damp bedding after last night's show. We reset the dryer and then settled in on the couch last night to wait for them to dry. We awoke this morning, on the couch, piled up like kittens, still dressed in party garb and feeling faintly like we hadn't had quite enough fun to be waking up in that condition. Clearly, we had not planned that out well. Thankfully, we have a comfy couch, so we're not dragging today.

This morning, though, the house looked a little like a circus. Some of the crew was up and loading up for a competition down south, balancing awkward loads and tossing things back and forth. The Littles scrambled around trying to cobble together some semblance of winter wear (we really haven't had "Winter" yet). I think I saw someone wearing mismatched gloves, and I was glad they'd found one for each hand. Someone threw in a load of wash - that's gonna hurt when it's time to go, because I'm pretty sure it was something they needed for the show today... There are people doing homework, people reading books, people running through skin care routines, people making breakfast, people packing bags. Many are the same people doing multiple things. If I were clever, I'd have Chromecast some calliope music to set the mood. Instead, I made coffee. Probably more supportive that way.

In a little bit, we will head into town for one long, long day. I can't even pretend that I know what it's going to look like other than long. And good. I'm excited. And tired. It's the final day of Fashion Week Alabama. There's still time to buy a ticket and come enjoy the spectacular show and entertainment tonight - we'll be at Lowe Mill.



Enjoy your circus today. Love on those monkeys!

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.

Wednesday, March 1

It's Go Time!

While James has been writing essays, researching scholarships, pounding the pavement looking for work, he's also been working towards this week: It's Fashion Week in North Alabama!


Photography by Mannon Giovanni
Suit by Dionicio's Closet
Styled by Shauntana Buchannan
Hair by Hair of Essence 

The Kick-Off is tonight, with runway looks by designer LeJeune, a special presentation from Belk styled by Shauntana Buchannan (who is available to help you put your look together - just stop by the Belk in Bridge Street, Madison, and ask for her), a formal wear show, as well as pop-up boutiques, art, and more.

There will be shows each night, from tonight through Saturday's Finale.

If you would like to come, please consider purchasing your ticket through this link and help support the AFA, as well as James. (He does not receive proceeds from the sale of tickets. He only helps move Fashion Week Alabama forward.)

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

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

Friday, February 17

TGIT... erm, F...

Wow, got up this morning and thought, "How is it Thursday already?"

But it's Friday.

So that gives you a good indication of how I'm doing, here. Happy, but totally not caught up.

We're in a lull at the moment, which, really, we needed. There was a harrowing, break-neck race a couple of nights ago to submit an application before the midnight (please let it have been "midnight Mountain time") deadline. One of the children got a fantastic crash course in the value of submitting applications before the actual deadline -- when successful submission opened up a variety of additional scholarships for which he qualified. Each one required an essay. He had 40 minutes to do it, and our internet crapped out at the 30 minute mark.

I can't tell you how fantastic it is to have a child get a clue that you didn't lob at him from across the room.

I also can't tell you how thankful I am that I'm not a heavy drinker, because it seems like a totally legit go-to at some points.

But I didn't yell. I climbed in bed with a book and told him to text me when he got the issue fixed. He did. The moment has passed, it's done, and now we're moving forward.

Jacob tried to find another class he could move into, to free up some of the time crunch on our Thursdays, but that was a bust. We both plan to use some insane Introvert Time Protection Schemes when he's registering for this fall -- not because either of us is introverted, but because introverts know how to guard their time, and we clearly have no clue at all. We can't be trusted with the calendar.

I want to sit in this lull and enjoy it, but I also want to hurry up and get to the next adventure. Life is weird. But so good. It's all good, and I appreciate it!

What are you looking forward to? And what are you enjoying now?

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

Friday, February 3

The Best People In The World

Do you know who the best people in the world are? They're the ones who "get" your kid. The ones who believe in her and have high expectations for her, but who step in with grace and affection and love when the kid gets overwhelmed, or makes an honest mistake, or even does something boneheaded.

They're the ones who give you room to laugh and shake your head and remember that we were all once just-barely-grown and trying to figure it all out.

They allow you to shed your frustration and come back to a place of support and encouragement.

They're the ones who point out what they love about your child when your brain is freaking out and you're starting to wonder if the only real options available are homelessness or living in the basement. (Which, they're not. But the brain is a crazy organ with a warped sense of humor.)

They're the ones who willingly write up a letter of recommendation on only 12 hours notice because someone didn't read the application all the way to the end before taking a deep, panicked breath and starting on the essay.

They're the ones who share their own stories with your child -- about missed deadlines, or botched labs, or fender benders, or whatever mishap your own kid is currently beating herself about the head for. (We actually spent about half an hour at book club a couple of weeks ago sharing stories of freak car incidents we'd all experienced, to encourage a young man who'd had One Of Those Days. In the end, he was able to laugh - mostly at us, and our ridiculous stories - and realize that he hadn't doomed himself to being That Kid forever and ever.)

They laugh gently, they cluck sympathetically, they point out that it doesn't mean you're awful, it means you're human.

And humans are fantastic if you give them room to be!

The best way to find these people is to be one of these people. If you have this, feed it regularly and roll around in it - you're all doing good work, and it matters. If you don't have this, fire it up. Roll up your sleeves and go love on some kids. You'll find your people. They tend to create a symbiotic energy, encouraging and loving on each other and each other's children in turn. It's a beautiful gift you can give to yourself, your children, your friends, their children, and so on. It really is.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Sunday, January 29

We Cannot Do Everything

That sounds so trite. I know. But here it is, Sunday, and I'll tell you, I am dragging. Dragging more than the schedule would indicate makes sense. But I think maybe I've reached the limit of my contortions and we're going to have to scale something back. (As I write that, I am reminded that I have a meeting Wednesday to see if I can help with the back end of a project coming up... hmm... probably should have written this post last week. Someone get me a Time-Turner! Or a virtual assistant!)

James and I headed out of town yesterday for a photo shoot. That was a fantastic experience. Not just the shoot, but the whole road trip. I so enjoy spending time with him, and when we're on the road (and nobody's doing Zombie Rainbow Dash impressions in the second row, so it's quiet), we have time to just talk. Laugh. Ponder. He's a neat young man, and I'm glad to know him.

This afternoon, the boys went to their Godparents' with Z to split and stack wood for the house. I love that when we mentioned the need, they all said, "When do you wanna go?" This wasn't on my radar when I was pregnant with any of them, but if I'd thought about it, it's one of the traits I'd have prayed for for each one. Lord, make them generous in spirit and willing to work. ( Now, I pray, "Lord, thank you for thinking of that when I was too young and scared to think beyond, 'Please let them be OK'!")

When the rest of us got home, I turned the Littles loose to play video games for a bit and I worked on the menu, the lesson plans, social media, work, and chatting with a cousin. That was lovely. No clue how to make our weeks less draining yet, but hopefully inspiration will strike soon. If not, there are a few episodes of Doc Martin left, and I have fuzzy socks!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, January 25

Opportunity Costs

So this was weird...

James seems to be zeroing in on the college he wants to go to. It's entirely his choice, and I think he's putting some good thought into his choice. He's leaning toward the one that's probably the best fit for him.

And now I find myself fretting over the ones he isn't leaning toward. (But, this campus is lovely! And that Physics program is amazing! But what about... But this one has... But, but but...) Which feels very dumb, and vaguely like I'm upset about his choice, which I'm not.

So what IS that?

It's fear. It's the Very Real Application of the concept of Opportunity Cost, and while it's not a Big Hairy Fear, I still don't like it. It's uncomfortable.

I've faced it before -- I got married (if you marry this one person, that means that none of the other people out there who are very good people can be your spouse), and that didn't bother me. I bought a house (and goodness knows that's a bit more of a commitment than picking a college... *raised eyebrow*). I choose grocery items and hair color, vehicles and clothing, doctors and medical choices... regularly, and with some skill. Why the difference here?

So I asked some trusted friends if they thought perhaps I am losing my mind. They've both got children out there, studying outside the nest, doing new things. They're about 10 klicks ahead of me on this particular journey. Both responded with a resounding, "Totally normal." It turns out, this is, in fact normal. We don't know why.

Perhaps it's because we dream larger than life for our children. We want to offer them the best of everything, and we don't want to limit them. We spend the bulk of two decades trying to cobble together opportunities and weave them into an Anything is Possible array for them. After that kind of lifestyle, we spend time looking at colleges and seeing some pretty fantastic things here and there... and then ask them to limit the the next few years of their lives by picking Just One. It feels like shutting doors. Well, it is shutting doors, but that's not a bad thing. You can't move forward if you don't pick a door and go through it.

(Worse, though, if you're a child of the 80's, it starts to feel like they probably just picked the door with the worn out mule behind it.)

But they're not just guessing. (I mean, some of it may be guessing, but at least in our house, I'm hearing enough thoughtful conversation to be reassured that it's not entirely guesswork. And that's enough. I'm happy. A lot of life is at least partially guesswork, anyway, so welcome to the club, Kids!)

I think he'll thrive there. I think, too, that I'll be fine with the Opportunity Costs, and that I will eventually get a handle on not fretting over all the things he's not doing while he's busy doing something he is immersed in. (The feedback from the 10-klicks-ahead crew indicates that yes, this is trueish.)

If he gets there and has a serious Gob moment ("I've made a huge mistake"), then he can change direction and shift gears. He'll figure it out. My part is not to let the fear that creeps in now take over my mouth when he actually needs my input. So. That's my assignment for now.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, January 22

Getting Ready

The Alabama Fashion Alliance is gearing up for the 6th Annual Fashion Week Alabama, and it is really amazing to see this come together. They have national award-winning designers, emerging local designers, as well as some uniquely Southern fashion resources participating. The models put in several hours of good, focused work today, and they are looking great. The photographers involved are truly phenomenal. (Yes, that sounds like an ad. It's not. I do not know what it takes to have the vision and creativity that brings this together, but I'm tickled to see it all happen. If I weren't behind the scenes -- mostly just offering to carry things and trying to stay out of the way -- I'd swear it was magic.) It's not. It's like most successful things: it happens because of hard work and a willingness to work together, to learn, to share ideas and effort. But the end result looks a lot like magic.

Both of the boys will be walking that week, so we were there for the duration today. And probably will be for quite a lot of the time in the coming months. If nothing else, spending hours on end around models and photographers is good for my posture, right?

We let out to find we were in the midst of a crazy storm. Flood warning. People cruising down the highway doing 30mph, just flying past everyone else doing 20mph with hazards on. All of the overpasses were packed with cars beneath them, hoping to wait it out. We slunk on home only to find the drive is flooded. I decided to risk it (which I would normally never, ever encourage anyone to do -- but it was less than 6" deep going over the drive and I figured that was as shallow as it was likely to be until tomorrow). We made it and are tucked safely inside. I did immediately alert John, though, as he is at work and may need to spend the night elsewhere. Wee! Winter in the South, y'all!

And that's about it. I'm going to curl up with a good book or two and a cup of coffee and wait to see what the plan will be.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, January 16

The Quiet

While all the teens were out of the house, I had a chance to do a Big Clean. I'm talking buying-organizing-things-and-fresh-kitchen-towels, culling-debris-and-old-socks, get-the-outsides-of-the-windows clean. It was glorious. Having a tidy home might stave off empty nest syndrome for a good six months. I love my kids, and I do miss them when they're gone, but there are just so many of us, with such diverse interests, packed into a tiny home. Serious 21st Century Family in a 19th Century Settlement. I'm thankful, I am. But it's refreshing to me when our home feels *nice* and not just *make do*.

The crane festival was fun. You can tell the kids are accustomed to going places in the off-season, though. They were stunned that the Wildlife Refuge could even hold that many people and still have room for the birds. We lasted about an hour and a half before the kids suggested we go home, craft there, and come back one day when it's quieter. We agreed.

We're late to the game on making slime and thinking putty, but we're making up for it in spades! (So. Much. Glue. Gosh.) I figure we'll hit the hardware store for glue-in-bulk, and once the kids get the hang of it, we'll snag some tins from American Science & Surplus. So, heads up on gifts from the Littles this year.



I haven't heard much from James on his weekend getaway, but he did text me at one point to say that the speakers were good and he felt very rejuvenated.

1, I'm glad he's feeling rested and energized.
2. I'm glad that's something he's attuned to and looking for. Yay.

John and Jake got back from their backpacking, showered, and collapsed. But not before I joyfully pointed to the now-repaired washing machine and suggested they let the wash be cleaning while they went limp. (The 21st Century has a lot going for it.)

Today, we're back at it, full schedule. Zorak is home for the day because today is MLK Day. We will watch Dr. King's speech, and remember that this is why we live the way we live. Judge each man on the strength of his character, not the color of his skin. That dream is not dead. In spite of the reports to the contrary, as I listen to the children I'm fortunate to know, I am encouraged. There are kids out there who get it, who care, and who will make such a difference in this world we all share. Character matters. Encourage it. Cultivate it. Reward it. Let the generations coming up know how very much it matters. We do not give up just because a battle is hard won, right?

Be encouraged!

~Dy


Friday, January 13

Ballet for Fun and Fitness

After watching The Nutcracker, you may remember Jacob announcing he would lurve to take ballet.

Well the director of the school called back and invited him to come visit a class. He did, and he loved it. He'll only explain it as, "It's hard and it's fun and I-am-so-not-flexible-at-all and Oh-I'm-going-to-have-amazing-legs-if-I-stick-with-it! I love it!"

So he signed up, and he'll be in dance (between ballroom, which he doesn't want to drop, and ballet) for nine hours a week. But he's thrilled with it, and looking forward to the challenge.

He's got his Space stuff - National Space Society, Space Camp, math. And now, he's got his dance. He's a happy kid.

And, I guess you've gotta love it. I don't know. But it's encouraging to me to see the kids pursuing hard things that make their souls soar.

It's fascinating to see how each child has such different interests and energy. I'm forever thankful that each of them knows he/she has support and encouragement to pursue whatever weird rabbit trail catches their attention. 2017 is shaping up to be a pretty interesting year!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, January 12

Gosh, but I Am So Old!

I used to be my mother's tech support. I could program the record function on a VCR like a boss. I could scan for channels and get a new remote paired with the TV in no time. And her clocks? They were always synchronized and accurate, never flashing. This morning, it's a different story...

I'm writing this up in Open Office Writer because my internet connection is hinky. I ran the troubleshooter and it said the modem is experiencing difficulties (which is code for, “You have Charter. They're probably down, but they said not to tell you that.”) The troubleshooter suggested rebooting the modem.

Hey, I can do that. I remember doing that, back when you had to set up your modem on the phone that could do pulse/button dial tone! (I got a new phone just so I could do that!) My IT is leaving this year, so I'll just quietly assume my old position. Cool. That's cool.

I peered around the back of the TV and...

You can't be serious! First off, we're missing one – either the router or the modem – but there's only one box back there and I'm pretty sure there should be two. So, if the modem is actually missing, that would explain a lot.

But right now, it doesn't really matter because I can't tell if the one that's left is the router or the modem. It doesn't seem to say, outright, what it is. I feel so old.

And my internet is down SO I CAN'T EVEN LOOK IT UP.

*sigh*

I checked my watch. Hmm 6:30... I wonder how long before I can risk waking my tech support?

Where's my phone? I found it. It's charging. Just need enough charge to figure out if that's the modem behind the TV. If so, I'll need to find out how to reboot it. (Yes, I know you just press the button. But there are a zillion buttons.) And if that's not the modem, well, I'm going to have to wake tech support, then, and inquire just where they've relocated the actual modem to...

And why.

Because I am old and cannot even begin to reason where you'd put a modem if not with the router. (Or vice versa.) But I will! And I will put a note in my journal so that the next time this happens I won't be stuck offline during the prime Quiet Moments of the day.

Be encouraged!


~ Dy

P.S. James got up fairly early this morning, so I just told him the internet was down and he made magic. He also showed me where the modem is living, now. AND gave me a cool trip  -- if you can't remember which is which, just remember that your modem communicates with your ISP (which is easy - the router broadcasts, or routes, things to the devices in the house), so if you find the ISP cable coming out of the wall, you can follow it to the first box you hit and TA-DA, that's the modem. I'm still not remotely prepared for him to leave, but this will make it easier.

Monday, January 9

On That First College Acceptance Letter

How your children end up, as adults, is pretty much up to them. It really is. You spend years reminding yourself as they grow that they are nearly adults, now, and they have to make their own decisions. That they have to live with the consequences as well as reap the rewards. That you can't force them to make the same calls you would, and that sometimes they make better calls than you would. But there's a big difference in the philosophical aspect of parenting, and the natural inclinations that drive much of our internal dialogue.

And mostly, we're OK with it. Except when we're not.

While I love my kid, and am proud of the young man he's become, I will not lie to you: getting that first acceptance letter from a college application is a huge relief. At least, it was to me -- not because I felt he was a failure if nobody said yes, but because I was terrified I might have failed him, and that would be proof. Some of combating that is in knowing what path they want to take, and some of it comes from applying to places that are a good fit for them. But still, there's that niggling worry... what if all our decisions have effectively barred you from pursuing the very goals we've fostered?

You spend an inordinate amount of the time right before they leave home vacillating between, "It's really up to them" and "Please, Lord, let me not have broken them". It's a hard, weird process -- one that will strip you of your vanity, expose your deepest fears and failings, bring to light your heart's desires (both for your child and, less altruistically, for yourself), and quite possibly tax your liver. I highly recommend it, though, because I am convinced that if you can hang in there long enough, things are pretty fantastic on the other side. (As my brother-in-law says, an adventure is what you're having once you realize you're not gonna die.)

So. I'm not gonna die.

That makes this an adventure.

If parenting is the process of guiding a born person into self-sufficiency and full development, it is also very much a process of dividing yourself up and apportioning bits of you into this same autonomous creature. Then watching in horror as this individual goes off and acts like, well, an individual -- as if your heart weren't wholly vested in this person's safety and well-being and success.

Your heart, but also a bit of your pride. Particularly if you've homeschooled your now-autonomous individuals. (Although whatever educational path a family has taken, a parent's got a lot vested after nearly two decades. That's just the nature of the process.) And if you've got a child who has decided to go the post-secondary education route, that whole process is very invasive and scary. People with magnifying glasses and deadlines hit you with questions, and make demands for referrals and money. And no matter how fervently you swore you would not default to box-checking and hoop-jumping... well, there you are. It's tempting. Because this is your BABY. And we really don't want to be the reason someone said no.

But you know what? They really are their own persons. You have given them the best of yourself, your time, your talents, and above all, your love. The people or places that recognize whatever kindred energy exists between them will honor that and welcome them in. The people or places that don't are likely not going to be a good fit for them, anyway.

But I recognize that that's a much easier thing to say after one "yes".

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, January 8

The Things You Miss

Aside from one child's era of tying things in knots, I've generally loved the weirdness that comes with having children in the house. This latest bit cracks me up...


A friend described it as a hipster plush party! LOVE IT! Everybody should have a party in the hallway. At least once.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, January 5

Herding Cats

A while back there was a technology company that put out a video of cat herders on a kitty drive. It was precious and very well done. (It was also hilarious, and just about every mother who saw it probably considered getting cowboys to help with the child wrangling.) But there were a few lines in the commercial that fit just perfectly:

I'm livin' the dream... I wouldn't do nothin' else... when you bring a herd into town and ya ain't lost a' one of them, ain't a feelin' like it in the world. 

So, James and I went to the community college yesterday to get registered. I went for backup and to offer my mad signature writing services, should they need anything official from the "school". I tried to have some fun with it -- "Just think of me as your own, personal bouncer." -- but he thought that was weird and asked me to stopit.

It took five hours to iron out the few glitches that remained, but our spirits were pretty high. We had fun. (We both talk to strangers, so that's handy.) We talked about big things and little things. We enjoyed each other's company. It was wonderful.

As we headed out we got behind a beautiful young mother with her two little fluffy-headed boys in tow. Both boys were wearing sweats tucked into cowboy boots. It snapped me back 15 years to when the older boys were little, running amok on campus in their capes and shorts and cowboy boots. I couldn't help but make little swooning sounds.

James opened the doors for them, and then I was straddling the two worlds - remembering the children they were and seeing the men they're becoming. Nearly two decades collapsed in on me.

I reached out to the mother and told her the first thing that came out...

They are beautiful. And you won't always be tired, I promise.

She laughed. She said she was glad to hear that, because she would really like to not feel harried but she does find herself wishing they would hurry up and become a little less hard to keep track of. I pointed at mine and told her it will come. And it will feel like it came too quickly and took too long, but that most of parenting is weird like that. Told her she's doing fine, her children are precious, and to hang in there.

Then I had to chase James down to get the keys, and I only got to drive by negotiating away control of the heat and air in the car. It was a hot and sticky, but happy, drive home.

And he's registered for classes, now. Onward we go!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy