On a Learning Curve

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


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Writing is hard, but parenting is harder

I haven’t written anything for almost a year. On this blog, that is.

I’ve started countless pieces but never finished anything, much less published a piece. I skipped our annual Christmas letter, too. I just couldn’t find the words to express what’s going on in my head, in my heart, and in our family.  I make it a practice not to sugarcoat my life, and I just can’t decide if sharing the messiness of my life would add value to someone else’s or just be TMI.

In short, I’ve been busy trying to parent our three girls. And it’s been an exceptionally hard season of parenting.

Last August, H developed an anxiety disorder in the aftermath of last summer’s C-130 crash. Her daddy is a pilot, and those crew members were his friends and colleagues.

Last October, G made a bad decision; the administration made a bad decision; and then we scrambled to place her in a new school. Three grading periods later, she still doesn’t know where she fits in, and she still doesn’t know who she wants to be.

S is hanging in there. She is the proverbial middle child who knows how to slip under the radar while her sisters draw fire.

Somewhere in the midst of counseling appointments, teacher conferences, and doctors’ visits, I reached my breaking point. I made the decision to stop teaching S and H after we finish this school year. I need to be my girls’ mother first and foremost; they desperately need other people to teach them.

While that decision was monumentally freeing, it hasn’t made anything easier for now; however, we have almost finished jumping through the required hoops of registering for public middle school.

Last Monday I submitted the girls’ standardized test scores and requested that our homeschooling file be closed. Yay, me!

Ten days ago I took the girls for MAP testing at the middle school after the counselors did not want to accept their Stanford Achievement scores. I goofed and scheduled the MAP and Stanford the same week. They completely embraced 3 full days of testing. (In my dreams, that is.) Coincidentally, the girls’ MAP test results aligned perfectly with their Stanford results. I rolled my eyes, but not in front of the guidance counselors.

Both girls chose their classes last Wednesday; S is pinning all of her hopes on advanced art and French I despite my guidance. H spoke a total of 10 words to her guidance counselor. He’s a man though, and she makes it a point not to talk to strange men.

Today I am writing on Memorial Day. We are home and unpacked from a very hot, humid soccer tournament. This morning Ryan switched out the front porch flag to fly the USMC colors. I can’t help but remember family and friends who selflessly sacrificed themselves for this nation. Today in particular, I am thinking of the 16 men who gave their lives aboard Yanky 72 last July.

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There’s more to write–much, much more–and I promise to return. After all, I’ve left you, my readers, hanging in the middle of what seems to be my belated Christmas letter.

 

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Journey of a Thousand Miles

Does a journey of a thousand miles start with a step? Or is a thousand steps? Who knows. What I do know is that I logged my 1000th mile of 2014 today.

I finally have something to share via blog post. I’ve meant to write numerous things over the past two months; in fact, two of my loyal readers have commented on my online absence. (Yes, that’s you, Jen, and Daddy, too.) The days just seem to be extra full, and writing is the thing that gets pushed to the side. I’d love it if housework, cooking, or diabetes could be pushed to the side and forgotten for a few days, but they take precedence. Running does, too.

If you aren’t a runner, you’ll think that last sentence certifies me as crazy. To the contrary, it’s how I ensure that I don’t lose my mental grasp. I crave the endorphin release that comes after five or six miles of sweating and breathing heavily. It’s how I take care of myself physically and mentally.

All smiles after our miles.

All smiles after our miles.

And here is photographic evidence of H and me after today’s run. I ran 4.5 solo and then stopped home to pick up H for some PE time. She said she thought she could go a half mile today. I trotted along behind her and encouraged her to slow down and see if she could make it to the stop sign (or 1/4 mile) before needing a walk break. Instead she made it twice as far before declaring it was time to walk. We plodded home, and I checked the GPS one more time: One mile in just under 11 minutes.


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Finally!

For the past decade, I’ve entertained friends and family with the highlights of our family’s life. Okay, mostly I just retell funny stories that will one day embarrass my three beautiful daughters. A ridiculous number of people have suggested that I write my stories down–or, as my mother frequently requests, write a book–before I forget them. Yes, I was an English major, and yes, I taught high school English for five years. But write a book? Keep a blog? Those things take time. For the past decade, the aforementioned children have been using up all of my time. They want me to feed them, find their missing shoes, and explain complicated subjects to them. (I’ll save this tidbit for a later post on why I don’t own a smart phone, or why I’m not going to spend $200 every month to Google “world’s largest rock” or “world’s fattest hamster.”) Oh, and I forgot to mention that six years ago, we decided that I would homeschool our girls; actually, that was supposed to be a two-year commitment to one child, but that is also another topic. So this afternoon I find myself sitting on my front porch with my laptop. As I stared down a couple of brazen squirrels who were eying the contents of the bird feeder, I realized that I had some time today. After all, tonight’s swim meet (Future Topic #3) was canceled for “technical reasons.”

This morning as I was telling my oldest child that tonight’s meet had been canceled, she pressed me for details on those “technical reasons.” Really, those were the only words that the email listed. I told her that my guess is that the computer timing equipment is probably not working. Instantly I knew that some outrageous comment was working its way out of her mouth. Call it mom’s intuition. She adroitly replied, “Yeah, like if swimmers get into the pool with the broken equipment, they could get electrocuted.” Is that really the most likely scenario? Nope. Is this exactly the reason I love this child so much? “Exactly,” I told her.