Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 End of Year Meme

Remember Memes?  I don't know if people even do those any more.  But hey--this is my 8th year of doing this one.  It's a New Year's Eve tradition.  Can't stop now!

I do want to thank those of you that still bother to come around here any more.  Now that I have facebook for quick updates, I find that I rarely think of my life in terms of blogging any more.  At times I have considered shutting down this blog completely, but alas, why should I?  It's not like cyberspace is being harmed by the "clutter" of my blog.  And, I suppose one never knows when the blogging bug might come back again.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?  
Turned 40.
Hired a business coach.
Joined Classical Conversations for our homeschool.
Started a Juice Feast!
Got to have my mom come live near me!

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 
I don't remember what my resolutions were, but if they had to do with losing weight or eating healthier, I did not keep up on that.  However, I have started a Juice Feast (yesterday was Day 1) and I am looking forward to seeing how that goes and what 2012 brings.

I enjoy making resolutions and goals, so YES of course I will make more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Several friends from church have had babies this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 
Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit? None, as usual.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
The ability to understand better what foods work best for my body.

More time and mental clarity to complete more of the projects I would enjoy doing.

7. What events from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
My mom and her husband moving from 10 hours away to come live near us is a huge, happy 2011 memory!

I guess turning 40 was memorable, though I preferred to have an extremely low-key day and enjoyed it very much.
Depending on how the Juice Feast goes, that may or may not end up being super memorable.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Joining Classical Conversations and managing to hang on through the learning curve has been an achievement.  I love the program and am so glad we decided to give it a try.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I guess I could say that gaining some more weight was a failure, but really I think all of these experiences are learning opportunities more than failure.  So, not sure other than that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing that stands out.

11. What was the best thing you bought? 
My new imac!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Well, my oldest son graduated from high school, so that was one.  My daughter and her marching band went to the state level, and that was awesome.  One son played football for the first time this year.  My mom and her husband being willing to pick up and move close to us was definitely cause for celebration.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted? 
Not going to get into it, but I do have one that sticks out.

14. Where did most of your money go? 
All of the usual locations:  bills, living, education, taxes

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Classical Conversations

Mom coming to live near me
Marching band going to state!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? 

Don't really have one this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier/optimistic
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? probably about the same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? 
Feeling peaceful and unstressed.
Completing things I would like to do.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? 
Feeling hurried and stressed out.

Feeling sick about people that have been difficult/painful for me to deal with.

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? 
Today--attending a birthday party for a close friend.
Tonite--Enjoying a glass of fruit/veggie juice, playing games with my kids, and I don't know if we will stay up til midnight or not.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? 
Just stayed in love with all the usual loves of my life.  :)

22. What was your favorite TV program? 
Dexter and Homeland 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't do hate.

24. What was the best book you read? 
I barely got to read this year.  Just recently started using the kindle app on my phone which is helping me get more read.  Nothing sticks out in my mind as being particularly great, though.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 
Adele, of course.  I hope her vocal cords heal up soon!  She is awesome.

26. What did you want and get? 
A better education for my younger boys.

My mom to live near me.
Help with clarifying some business stuff.

27. What did you want and not get? 
I guess more money is always helpful, but really, I'm pretty content.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? 
No favorites stick out to me.  Enjoyed and was inspired by the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  Also enjoyed the documentary Dive.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 40 this year.  As the time drew near I felt that I really didn't want to have a big bash, as I had been considering.  When it came down to it, what I felt like doing and enjoyed was staying home in my PJs all day long, snuggled up on the couch, watching shows or movies on the laptop, and hanging out with my family.  Several people who wished me a happy birthday seemed to feel sorry for me that I wasn't doing anything "big," but really I was doing exactly what I wanted to do and I enjoyed it very much.  I realize now that any year, "milestone" or not, I can have a huge party if I want to.  I can also take a lazy day and enjoy that too. :)

30.What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying?
More tangible accomplishments.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? 
Getting too fat for everything I have.  Frustrated.  Yoga pants were my friend but now they are getting pretty tight.

32. What kept you sane? 
Knowing why I do what I do, and continuing forward with the love and encouragement of my family.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Glad to see Jenny McCarthy continuing to speak up about vaccine safety issues.

Enjoyed the royal wedding (Will and Kate).

34. What political issue stirred you the most? 
Currently concerned about NDAA, SOPA, food freedom (why on earth is our gov't spending so much effort to stomp on raw milk, gardens, etc?).  I have a lot of concerns about the direction things are heading in.

35. Who did you miss? 
I always miss my Gram.  She is never far from my thoughts.  

36. Who was the best new person you met? 
Met a ton of great women through our Classical Conversations group, and feel so blessed to have them to do school with and learn from.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. 
Not new, but I continue to be convinced in trusting myself.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
Don't worry.  Be happy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Growing Up

My babies are getting bigger by the day. My oldest is graduated, working now, and last night talked to me about possibly moving out. He's excited, but also nervous and wondering what the coming changes will be like, and what's on the unknown side of life where he isn't a child in his parents' home.

My daughter is in high school and already attuned to the fact that all of her senior friends will be going away in a few months. I remember how emotional that felt.

My third child is off on the youth group camping trip this weekend. Excited and nervous, he told me, "I've never been on a camping trip without Dad before!"

The three "Little Boys" as we started calling them when they were like a pack of puppies, 3 born in under 3 years, are getting taller, more capable, smarter, and looking older every day. I don't have any "little" boys here any more.

When I see adorable wooden puzzles and building sets, my first instinct is that maybe I would want to buy it for Christmas or a birthday. Then I remember that we've pretty well outgrown those things here. Good thing I have nieces with young children.

They are growing up. Life is good. We're doing fine.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Things and Stuff to Look Forward To

Nearly a month since I surfaced here. Many good things and new things going on and coming up:

1. Last year my husband and I were very nose-to-the-grindstone about homeschooling. We partnered up and split the teaching duties and kept at it all year, which was great. In the end, we didn't have as great a sense of accomplishment as we would have liked. In addition, with every available day dedicated to schooling, the kids had no activities, other than Upward basketball season. I had grown increasingly concerned about their lack of friends and social opportunities, and was plotting and planning about how we could take the time and do the driving to whatever activities, co-ops, or whatever that we could scare up for the coming school year.

As it turned out, I came across Classical Conversations. A friend told me about it a couple years ago when I was in no position to have any interest in it. This time, though, I was ready, and it seemed like it could be a good fit. One day a week for all of us to go to a neighboring town to meet with our fellow CC'ers, the boys will get to make friends, teacher training for my husband and me is built right in because we will stay for the entire day and be involved in classes, and the boys get the nudge of being somewhat accountable to their tutors in their classes. Basically, it addresses all of the weak spots I felt we were having, plus it looks like a very challenging program with a measurable goal for each subject, which I think will be good for us and give us that sense of accomplishment that we've been missing. Looks like CC will replace most of what we've been doing for school, and will change a lot around here. We are ready for a change, so I hope this is a good fit.

I've not been interested in the classical approach to education before. All of the books I knew on the subject(The Well-Trained Mind, Teaching the Trivium) sounded so formal and hoity-toity and stuck up, a free spirited gal like me just didn't have even the slightest interest in joining up. This year as I watched the videos and saw a lot of fun, a lot of action, and nothing that looked stodgy to me, I decided it just might work for us.

It is expensive compared to what we've done so far. Thankfully we were able to get the financial end of things all worked out, so it's all systems go for starting in late August. Two of my boys are excited and two don't want to do it. Hopefully it will work out good for all and be a positive year. (otherwise, boy howdy!, we will have spent a lot of money and effort to be miserable for a school year....)

2. My mom is moving to live near me! After 20 years of living approximately 12 hours away from each other, I am more than ready to get to hang out with my mom on a regular basis. We are very excited, and now my kids will have access to even more grandparents, which is really awesome. It was great for me to grow up with grandparents nearby, so I am glad to finally have this chance for my own kids.

3. My husband and I got to travel to IL for the wedding of one of my cousins. I had never gotten to meet any of these family members before, because they are from my mom's birth family that she never got to meet. We've been in touch with some of this new branch of our family tree for about a year now, and I've gotten to be friendly with this one cousin thanks to facebook. It was a very lovely and positive experience to be welcomed into the family and get to spend time with 3 cousins, my aunt and her husband, and the various children and extended family members. Very glad that we went!

4. My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary soon! Funny how it doesn't seem that long, and also seems like forever that we've been together. Our trip was our opportunity for an anniversary getaway.

5. My daughter is starting high school in a few weeks, and is already busy in marching band. My oldest is done with high school and is now working while he figures out what else he'd like to do. We are looking forward to marching season and all of the contests! Hopefully my mom will be moved here in time to enjoy them along with us.

6. Treadmill: I have wanted a treadmill for a long time, and my husband always pointed out how much space they take up, and how often people get them but don't use them. He would also point out our rebounder and say "You could just bounce!" Yeah, well, I do like to bounce, but not for miles. And as my weight has creeped back on (yeah, creepy!) and my ability to go walking has come to a screeching halt, and as the fitness center in town closed, something had to change. I decided to try out my idea of wanting a treadmill and see if it would work well for me. I put a shout-out on facebook, and don'tcha know, someone offered me a free one! We got it the other day and so far it is providing fun and exercise for all of the kids, one dog, and myself. I used to walk 2 miles most days with my friend Kim. Right now doing a mile feels challenging. So, I've got some work to do. I'm trying to add a tenth of a mile onto my distance each day. With a bazillion pounds to lose, I gotta get crackin'.

Out of time. This concludes today's edition of Happy Things.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

For all the people that think I've got it all together

This post is for all the people who tend to think that I'm always positive and doing well:

This round of PMS has gotten brutal. I've been experiencing a level of self-loathing that is pretty tough. I'm so discouraged about gaining the weight back that I worked so hard to lose. And although I know what I did last time to lose it, so theoretically could do it all again, it feels like too much to take on, especially since I've already seen that my current schedule doesn't feel like it has room in it to do those things. I feel like I'm at an impasse, sitting here, overweight, not fitting into my clothes, and feeling stuck.

Also, just on principle, I feel like I should be able to love myself and be kind to myself regardless of my weight. But something in me isn't letting that happen. Instead, with every jiggle of arm flab and with every awareness of back fat, I'm saying mean stuff to myself. I've got a mean bully riding around in my own head, telling me how gross it is that I have let myself get fat again. Obviously losing the weight could help one part of that, but what the heck is going on inside my head that I'm withholding love and acceptance from myself?! Not good.

The other big emotional plague is that my oldest son is now finishing up high school at home, and everybody else is having all of this extra special stuff like proms and graduation ceremonies and whatnot. And we aren't. Well, truth be told, he could have gone to prom at his former school if he wanted to, but said he wasn't a fan of the prom and was content to skip it. And graduations are boring, I know. I barely even remember mine. And I just suffered through an 8th grade graduation the other day and truly, they are boring ordeals. Still, there are special marking points for the others, and this being my first go-around with having a homeschooled high school senior, these things have fallen through the cracks. We don't have a homeschool group nearby that is doing any of these things, and so time has flown and here I am feeling bad. Yes, we will have a graduation party for him. I just haven't planned it yet. And I guess I could probably scare up a cap and gown if we wanted to go through the motions. He'll hate that, though, because he, like his mother, dislikes all forms of fakery and contrivance.

I think I just worry that he won't feel special or something.

Of course, I'm the girl who ended up not even sending in a photo to the newspaper for when I got married. By then I just didn't care about getting that done. I was married. I was happy. Onward and upward. So...I am probably worrying too much.

A friend invited me to her homeschooled son's graduation at their church, with several other homeschooled kids. Honestly, I felt like crying that there was no official group or ceremony for my kid. I couldn't deal with going to it. :(

In the end, it will all be ok. Today the build-up of negative self-talk and emotional overload has overrun me. I told my husband earlier today that my PMS was working like a wrecking ball, just so he would be aware. I've just done my best to keep my head down, my mouth shut, and get through this, because I think I will feel better in time.

Hormones. They suck.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Older moms, younger moms

I saw a post on a blog today that partially talked about the way older moms and younger moms relate (or don't), and I found myself replying in the form of a post long enough to be featured here. So, breaking the silence, possibly with something I've said similarly before, here's something fresh:

When I was a new mom I found that the older moms that I knew were too busy for me to get much time with them. The few times that I did get up close with moms I admired were good, but they were rare and I was not able to make close relationships with those ladies, for the most part.

There were some older women who took an interest in me, but in some cases they were ones who were really looking for a disciple, someone to make be like them, and honestly, I didn't like the results that I was seeing they had. They may have felt that they were equipped to lead or teach me, but I wasn't interested in going in the direction they wanted to lead me. (and I can say that even in looking back on it all these years later, I was spot-on in those impressions. These were unhealthy people with an ax to grind.)

Now I am 40, and don't have any babies or toddlers or preschoolers or sippy cups. There are no outward markers to signal to the like-minded moms that they have anything in common with me. I'm not sporting a baby in a sling, refusing to use a pacifier, or tandem nursing to show my true colors. :) Even when I try to encourage a mom who is making choices that I can identify with from my own baby days, I sense their hesitation to trust others that they do not identify as part of their parenting sub-set. I have to overtly identify myself, "I come in peace!" and still they don't seem to believe it fully.

My oldest is 18. I've homeschooled for a long time. A lot of the younger moms I know seem to think of me in an older mom/big sister kind of way, but know what? I am so busy with what I've got going just managing my own life and children and homeschooling, that I really don't have a lot of time to invest with those gals. I don't have any more days with room for play dates.

Also, possibly a bigger issue, I have fewer pat answers than I had when I was in my 20s. For moms who want absolutes, I have few, if any, of those to offer. Doesn't seem to speak their language.

A couple months ago a couple from church asked if they could come over and visit with us and have us tell them about homeschooling. They have four small children and were looking for some wisdom, I guess. Someone to fan the flames of their naiive enthusiasm, perhaps. It was hard for us, not only because our schedule was slammed, but also because we know how long and hard the homeschooling road can be, and at the time we were not feeling particularly positive about all that we were doing or experiencing in regards to homeschooling our kids. What can we say to them, we wondered? Here they were, all stars in their eyes, chomping at the bit to Create All Of Their Own Unit Studies! and have Rigorous Standards from the get-go! and have each of their tiny tots academically advanced and extremely precocious. In the end, I ended up telling them what I really felt at the time: It's hard work. It won't always go well. You will have times when you doubt that you are doing the right thing or doing things well. And in the end, even when you have done all you could, your kids might just disappoint you, scare you, be mean, or make you cry. There are no guarantees that anything you are going to do will give you a particular result. It's a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself, young friends. And for goodness sake, take your vitamins, because you are going to need all the good health and energy you can maintain for the next 23 years! I don't think they got what they were expecting, and I don't know if they were really able to absorb it, since of course when your kids are tiny and adorable and practically perfect in every way, how could you really understand how things can develop in the next 15 years or so?

I see the complexity of the whole younger woman/older woman thing differently now. Certainly our societal norms do not make that sort of relationship easy or natural. I'm not sure what the answer is. Moms in my category are probably busier and less available in some ways than moms of babies. Ladies a generation older than me are not often familiar with many of my choices in life, and are looking toward retirement, travel, or careers without the impact of growing children. The internet can be great for a mix of encouragement, but is weak in that we only get to see what the person shows us through their words, and in so many cases people are comparing themselves to a myth, or following the advice of someone that they otherwise would not admire if they could more fully observe their life.

There I go again with no pat answers. Annoyingly real, I suppose.

Friday, April 15, 2011

So today I'm 40

I have no hangups about this.
Happy to be 40!
And nothing else to report.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Wins--prelimary review

I just finished reading Love Wins by Rob Bell. It was a quick and satisfying read. Rob addresses each mention of hell in the Bible (or so he says--I have not yet personally double checked to make sure), talks about the original language that has been translated as hell in modern versions of the Bible, and discusses how the original recipients of the letters of the New Testament would have understood the content. (an essential ingredient that seems often left alone rather than embraced in churches) He voices many of the same questions, doubts, and seeming contradictions that I have wrestled with for a long time. He points us back to the Bible for the answers.

Many who read this book will be surprised and probably skeptical to learn that the idea that God's love will be so appealing to all people, that they will ultimately choose God is not a new idea, but rather a very old one. Rob did not make up some politically-correct version of heaven and hell for this book.

As I said a few posts ago, the concept of ultimate reconciliation of all to God is not new to me. I've had years to get comfortable with this, though maybe had not been able to have 100% confidence in it. Love Wins gave me new and beautiful things to think about, not only about hell, but about heaven, Jesus, God, and how to more fully be a part of bringing the world more of God's goodness and love.

There was a point toward the end of the book where I felt like things were getting a little murky, but I appreciate the Rob was not trying to give us every single answer since not all things can be known by us. He embraces the mysteries and unknowable things and leaves room for us to not know all the details. To me that is far more honest than cooking up a bunch of details that we just can't know right now.

I would recommend this book to anybody who wonders about heaven, hell, God, salvation, or how to live life. Even if you think you won't agree, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you do get out of the book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Love Wins, page 111

Whatever objections a person might have to this story,
and there are many,
one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it.
We can be honest about the warped nature of the human heart,
the freedom that love requires,
and the destructive choices people make,
and still envision God's love to be
and more compelling
than all of that put together.
To shun, censor, or ostracize someone for holding this belief
is to fail to extend grace to each other
in a discussion that has had plenty of room
for varied perspectives
for hundreds of years now.

~Rob Bell in his book Love Wins

Sadly, what I have seen so far in the online discussions anticipating this book, is that many Christians have no grace at all for anyone who wants to explore the possibility of a bigger, better, and more beautiful GOOD NEWS than most of us are familiar with. I have seen people labeled heretics and false teachers for these beliefs. And most of all I have seen that many, many people seem to love the concept of hell for others and are full of vengeance and hate for non-believers. Which is exactly the sort of thing that causes people to flip their proverbial bird at the concept of being a Christian. And why shouldn't they? Who would want to be like that? Jerk on Earth for an eternity with all the other jerks? No thank you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love Wins, page 45

It often appears
that those who talk the most about
going to heaven when you die
talk the least about
bringing heaven to earth right now,
as Jesus taught us to pray,
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

At the same time,
it often appears
that those who talk the most
about relieving suffering now
talk the least about heaven when we die.

~Rob Bell in his book Love Wins

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Love Wins, page 8

Do you know any individuals who grew up in a Christian church
and then walked away when they got older?
Often pastors and parents and brothers and sisters
are concerned about them and their spirituality
--and often they should be.
But sometimes those individuals' rejection
of church and the Christian faith they were presented with
as the only possible interpretation of what it means to follow Jesus
may in fact be a sign of spiritual health.
They may be resisting behaviors, interpretations, and attitudes
that should be rejected.

Perhaps they simply came to a point
where they refused to accept the very sorts of things that Jesus would refuse to accept.

~Rob Bell in his book Love Wins

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reading Love Wins

I've never been on the big Rob Bell bandwagon like so many people I know. I think he seems like he's trying too hard to look cool and edgy, and that grates on me. His Nooma videos didn't interest me and I didn't think they were awesome. Velvet Elvis did speak to me, though, and gave voice to my developing beliefs that there had to be a more reasonable way to understand the Bible than much of what I had been exposed to in my life.

Now, we have Love Wins. You've probably heard about it, because people have been screeching about it all month, even weeks before the book was even available to read. What interested me about this book was the subject matter of hell, and the fact that apparently Rob was going to say some things that would challenge the mainstream notions of hell. I started learning some new and interesting things about hell years ago when my friend's husband actually left his pastorate in the Free Methodist Church after becoming compellingly convinced that ultimately God will save all. He wrote a book and it gave me a lot to think about, and gave me a hope that God is bigger and better than most believers would like to let Him be.

So, I'm not a newcomer to the idea that hell might just not be eternal, and that when we learn that Jesus paid it all, it really means ALL. I'm looking forward to digging into this book. So far there are excellent thoughts and he brings up many of the same doubts and questions that I have had for so long. Hopefully I'll manage to circle back around and share my thoughts on it here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Biggest, Baddest Item on the Plagues and Nuisances List is DONE

Today I started a post talking about a difficult situation that has been waiting for my attention since November. I have felt sick about this situation and felt unsure how to handle it. Today while I was writing about it, I decided that dealing with it could not be worse than continuing to think about it any more. Plus, I had already started forming a comfort level with where I felt I was going with the response.

I got it done. I am satisfied with what I said. I am hopeful that what I had to say will resolve the high-stress of the situation. I am very pleased to be done with that. Now if I could quit shaking things would really be good...

(it usually takes my physical body quite some time to catch up with what I've decided in my brain)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mixed Bag

Some people are just exhausting. Thankfully, some can be filtered out of life. Others cannot, and so they remain on the plate we call life, dragging around behind us like so many bricks.

Forward motion on one front means that at least three other areas are laying on their side in the ditch.

Life is overloaded with sweet abundance as well as heavy responsibility. Thankfully we have encouraging days that make us feel like we can keep juggling it all.