On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.


Leave a comment

Thankful

Me: “S, did you take a rat into my bathroom while you were feeding the gerbils?”
S: “Why, Mom?”
Me: “Because I think I just wiped up rat pee from my bathroom counter.”
S: Silence.

20161122_203327

One of the possible culprits

Of course the gerbil cage is in my bathroom. We’re dog-sitting my sister’s poodle, so the gerbils need a sanctuary while Perry visits. Since the rats already take up a sizeable amount of space in S’s room and the gerbils are too messy and too loud to bring into the other girls’ bedrooms, my bathroom is the natural choice.

This is my life. I’m surrounded by a zoo: three children, two rats, two gerbils, and a large white poodle. And I’m thankful for every last one of them–most of the time.

20161124_080638

Perry doesn’t mind being a pillow for S and H

Ryan is flying the friendly skies this weekend because that’s what he does on national holidays. While we’d rather have him home with us, I realize that this is the life we chose; and this is the life we’ve grown accustomed to. Ultimately, this is the life for which we are profoundly grateful.

20161124_081752

Ryan’s inconvenient schedule is what allows me to stay home with the girls, homeschool them, and have access to world-class healthcare. And, as I was lecturing a certain 14-year-old just yesterday, it’s the reason that we have food, clothing, and tuition money. I may have phrased it a little differently though.

 

2016-11-13-15-53-08

Our 14 year old has a new hobby: forensic science.

As I sit here reflecting on the blessings of my life, I realize that there are far too many to list in this small piece of writing. But for now, while the girls are still asleep and though Ryan is three time zones away, these are the people who ground my days. These are the people–and their beloved animals–who are my world.

 


1 Comment

For These Things…

I’m in a pensive mood these days. My birthday celebration lasted a full week, and I’ve decided that being 40 feels absolutely no different from 39. (Of course, that was my opinion when I moved from 29 to 30, and somehow I no longer feel 29.) As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve also been thinking about all the things for which I am truly grateful. For these things I give thanks:

1. I kicked off my actual birthday with a half marathon. Though the organization and start of the race was a mess, the time I spent with my BAMR friends from last year’s Ragnar DC was sweet. Running with my friend Tracy, who paced me the entire race, was a bonus. Realizing that I ran the course 5 seconds off my half PR was disappointing; however, my PR was on a super-flat course and this course was hilly with a capital H.

1150227_10203699168065404_9112140764880838421_n

The 4 of us made up 1/3 of Team Dimity in last year’s Ragnar Relay DC. Zoom in on Joan’s shirt (1102) if you need help decoding BAMR.

2. My amazing husband threw me a 40th birthday party that blew me away. Ryan stepped way out of his comfort zone and organized a surprise party at a local winery last Saturday afternoon. All of my family came, and I spent a gorgeous afternoon with dear friends and family. We enjoyed the delicious wine from Running Hare Vineyard and–this is something I have been asking for several years–ate birthday cake that someone else baked for me.

DSCN1000 (2)3. Friendship. The word in itself is a complete sentence. Three of the above women–and one more who missed my bash to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary–above have known me since we were 18 years old; that’s more than half our lives! We’ve walked with each other through two decades of life–first through our grueling academic years and later through careers, marriages, children. We’ve cried during times of loss, comforted in times of hardship and struggle, and celebrated each other’s victories. I love these women.

DSCN1013

Silly, I know, but I love this group of people.

4. My family is awesome. H shared her actual birthday with me last Saturday; my sister took care of the catering; my parents brought flowers and rented a nearby cabin so that our house wasn’t overrun with small children; and my brother and sister-in-law flew in from Chicago just for the weekend.

DSCN1014

Best parents in the world plus the newest 7-year-old in our family.

5. The decision to homeschool continues to be a blessing to our family. What began as a two-year experiment for one child seven years ago has morphed into something far bigger than we ever envisioned. This week we were able to spend time with our sweet neighbor Sofie on two mornings when her mom needed to be elsewhere. I love that we can pick up our math books and language arts, walk next door, and help a neighbor. I love, too, that we scheduled an impromptu field trip to a nearby berry farm yesterday. We met some friends who are new to the area, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and brought home 11 pounds of berries.  Did I mention that we only have 14 more school days this year?!

DSCN0943

H with Sofie and her family on a warm afternoon last week.

And while I began this post by giving thanks, I also recognize that these are the very same things by which I am blessed.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to 3 of the most important mothers in my life: my own mother Jane, my mother-in-law Donna, and my substitute mother Sharon.

 


3 Comments

A Season to Give Thanks

Another catastrophic disaster has claimed the front pages. Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island nation of the Philippines. As of today, the Filipino government has listed 2,275  fatalities but others have suggested that 10,000 might be a truer figure for Tacloban, the city that took a direct hit. More than 600,000 residents have been displaced from their home, and 2.5 million need food.

Those are hard numbers to swallow. Marine Corps KC-130s and Ospreys are already assisting evacuation efforts, and the USS George Washington group is on its way. So what can individuals do to help? Consider donating money to credible relief organizations who already have a presence in the country. Compassion uses donations to meet the immediate physical and spiritual needs of its enrolled children and their families. Samaritan’s Purse is already working with local churches and on Friday will send a 747 loaded with relief supplies. The American Red Cross is partnering with the Philippine Red Cross and has activated its family tracing services.

DSCN0061

A not-so-subtle reminder hangs next to our breakfast table.

You can also adopt the practice of thankfulness. Be thankful for the roof over your head, the clothing on your back, and the food on your table. Be thankful for heat as the air temperature drops. Be thankful for safe, clean drinking water. Thankfulness is a popular attribute to espouse in November, since Thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away. But true thanksgiving isn’t a trend; it’s a heart attitude. Facebook is full of thankful posts these days. Here’s a personal favorite of mine. If it steps on your toes, then ouch!

True thankfulness is not solely limited to the month of November. It’s a year-round character trait that requires daily practice. I recommend reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts in which a homeschooling farmer’s wife challenges readers to live grateful lives.

H and her Thankful Tree

H and her Thankful Tree

In our home, H and I are on our second week of a Thanksgiving unit study. Last week was devoted to Cranberry Thanksgiving, which is one of our most favorite titles from the Five in a Row curriculum we use. This week we’re branching out into other books but still continuing to study Thanksgiving. Yesterday we started a thankful tree. Here is H adding to her leaves this morning. If you have good eyesight, you’ll notice that she has listed her cousins, Aunt Martha, Uncle Brian, both sets of grandparents, all current and former hamsters, and our Compassion children. We’re still working on being thankful for sisters and parents.

Lots of leaves left. Maybe I'll earn a coveted spot?

Lots of leaves left. Maybe I’ll earn a coveted spot?