Family 2015

Family 2015

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Long Days and Short Years

"Enjoy those babies while you can!"  "They grow up so fast!!"  "Before you know it, they'll be on their own!"  "There will come a day when you will wish you had little ones under foot!"

I used to get so sick and tired of people saying these kinds of things to me when my kids were all little.  I would smile and nod and think, "you are crazy.  what do you mean they grow up so fast?  I feel like I have had babies and toddlers for centuries!"

This is not to say I was miserable, I wasn't.  I love my kids and I love being a Mom.  I just could not relate to this quick passing of time idea.

Now I get it.

Time does not pass quickly on a day to day basis, but when you look back, those years certainly do seem fleeting.

My two high schoolers have recently brought home their tentative class schedules for the fall of 2014 for us to look over and approve.  That's right.  I have 2 high schoolers.  My oldest daughter is going to be a senior in the fall.  A senior.  She will graduate from high school and be an adult.  ????  Wasn't she just watching Dora and the Donut Man the other day?

When they were younger, I felt pretty in control and able to keep up with all the goings on in their lives since it was mostly confined to the space in my house.  Nothing really happened that surprised me and there weren't really any challenges that I wasn't quite sure how to handle.

ATTENTION MOMS OF YOUNG CHILDREN: THIS CHANGES!! (Sorry for the yelling, but I wish someone had said that to me 10 years ago.  Or maybe they did and I wish I had listened...)

They have bigger challenges and I have less control.  On the one hand, it's exhilarating to watch them grow and to imagine what their futures will hold, on the other hand, I sort of prefer changing diapers and making bottles.  Almost no guesswork there.

I will end with this:

I am SO glad that we went ahead and "had all those kids" because now even though I have one who is ready to embark on adulthood, I also still have a 1st grader whose biggest concern is whether or not he's on the naughty list.

I will enjoy it while I can.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

This is What I Can Do...

I hate feeling helpless.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that being a parent meant always having the answers and being able to fix everything.  Of course, it is ridiculous to think that, but the fantasy dies hard.

I recently had a conversation with one of my kids that was so heart-wrenching I almost couldn't bear it. There was a lot of crying, the shoulder-heaving kind of crying, and the feelings of despair were palpable.  I decided not to offer a lot of quick one-liners and easy fixes because, let's be honest, sometimes in life there aren't easy fixes.  I mostly just listened...and felt helpless.

I laid in bed for a long time thinking about our talk and feeling like I had somehow failed.  If I was really doing a good job as a parent, how could my kid be having such a hard time??  Why couldn't I think of anything really helpful and amazing to say?  Then, it hit me.  I had done exactly what I needed to do and all that I could do...I had been there.

Being there is important, you know?  Can't you think of times when someone just sat with you and somehow that seemingly small action infused you with strength?  I sure can.  And that realization made me feel so powerful as a Mom.

There are a ton of things that I cannot do for my children.  I can't fix every problem they face.  I can't make certain people like them.  I can't stop them from dealing with negative emotions.  I can't make this transition to living in a new state happen any quicker.

But, this is what I can do.

I can pray for them.  I can love them.  I can provide a peaceful atmosphere in our home.  I can listen to them.  I can hug them.  I can believe in them.  I can be their biggest fan.

And, at the end of the day, I can rest knowing that God loves them even more than I do and they are firmly in His hand.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blessing in Disguise

So, we have been in Virginia for about 2 1/2 months now.  The plan was for me to find a job and start working part time shortly after the kids started school.  I have put out some applications and had a few possibilities, but for whatever reason, nothing has landed yet.

I went from being frustrated about it to taking a step back and realizing that perhaps, I should just enjoy this little respite that I'm getting.  Perhaps God knew this would be the perfect time to insert a little break for me and loved me enough to do it in spite of my well-laid plans.  Certainly I will keep looking and I'm sure I will find a job.  But, for now, this time I have alone to myself each day is priceless.

*Disclaimer to any of my kids who may read this:  I love you.  Being a Mom is one of the best things in my life.  I can't imagine not having you, and I wouldn't change anything about my life.  :)

But, that doesn't mean I don't get tired and I don't think I realized just how tired I was until I got this little reprieve.

This may shock some of you, but I am an absolute introvert.  I love people and enjoy being around them, but socializing is draining to me, not energizing like it is to some.  My soul and mind are regenerated and restored when I have time to spend by myself and that just hasn't happened that often in the last 17 years.  Actually, the last time I remember it happening for any length of time was during my hospitalization before Carter was born.  When I relate that story to people I often hear things like, "I don't know how you managed to stay in the hospital for all that time - I would have gone stark, raving mad."  I smile and say something heroic like "Oh, well, you do what you have to for your kids, right?"  But, really, it wasn't that bad.  Who am I kidding?  Most of the time, it was great!  I read 17 novels and had a laptop all to myself all day long.  Introvert paradise.

So, anyway.

I am going to enjoy this time because I know it will come to an end.  I will love whatever comes after it, but for now I'm gonna party like a rockstar...a reeaallll quiet one.  ;)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Gift of Coping

So, one month ago today we woke up in our new state.  We were exhausted (having arrived after midnight the night before), we were sleeping in the home of people we had never met (who have become great friends over the past month) and I was getting Kennedy ready to go to band camp with 50 kids she had never met in a school we had never laid eyes on.

Wow, we have come a long way since that moment.  To think it was one short month ago is almost unbelievable.

While it is true to say that we are immeasurably more settled than we were then, it is not true to say that we are completely comfortable and used to our new surroundings.  Yes, the kids have started school and dance and band and are signed up to start cheerleading (McKinley!) and maybe basketball (Carter).  Yes, we have attended our new church a few times, even helped with the church picnic.  Yes, I can now find the grocery store, the bank, the doctor and the library without having to consult mapquest.  Yes, my fb account now sports a few new Virginia friends.  But, we are still in that nebulous time known as "the transition."

We were talking about it over dinner the other night.  My kids are doing amazingly well, but man, there is just nothing I could have said that would have prepared them for this.  It's kind of like having a baby, you just have to go through it in order to understand it.

Pierce chimed in, "Well, I like it here, but..(insert finger under the glasses tear wiping)", he was followed up quickly by Kennedy, "I know there is a lot of opportunity for us here, but I still miss Michigan and my friends."  Carter said, "I miss Jericho."  (his neighbor friend that lived right across the street from us in Flint).  Reagan, "I really like my new dance studio, but Mom, high school is hard."  McKinley nodded her agreement.  I looked at their faces and could tell that they were all putting on their brave faces, but were still feeling pretty quivery and quaky on the inside.

Me too.

I'm glad we're here, I feel like it was a good step for us.  But, I miss people and familiarity.  I miss seeing the faces of friends that I have history with.  I even miss being able to gripe about local things and know what I'm talking about. :)  I have felt the weight of these emotions just like they have, it is normal, it is healthy to express them...


This was a parenting moment when I knew, I had two choices.  We could all commiserate and cry about what we left, or we could figure out how to deal with where we are.

I'm sure you know the one we picked.  We sat around the table for a good 30 minutes talking about the future, reminding everyone why we made this choice, talking about the things that are good here and focusing on how blessed we are to have such a tight-knit family.  When one of us or all of us have had a tough day, we are so lucky to be able to come home to a place where we belong and are loved.  It is here, in this incubator, that we all draw our strength and figure out how to cope.  What a gift.

History tells us that young children who survived the holocaust typically went on to lead very full and successful lives.  Behaviorists say it is because they learned, at a young age, how to cope.  It is one of life's most important skills.  Truly, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

We're gonna make it through this, kids.  We will come out the other side stronger, with better coping skills and possibly with a southern drawl...but, make no mistake, we will come out.  :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Musings from the Rabbit Hole

So, we have lived in Virginia now for 9 days.  We are Virginians...or as Pierce says "Virginiaganders."   We arrived after midnight and when I got off I-64 at our exit number I was plunged into 4 miles of the longest, darkest road I have possibly ever experienced.  I was grateful to arrive at a road with streetlights and the familiar sight of Arby's and a gas station before we reached our rental house, but I was still feeling pretty displaced.

Kennedy and I got up early to get her ready and off to band camp.  It was surreal.  We show up at this high school and I'm filling out all these papers to enroll her in school and leaving her with this teacher and students I've never seen before and I don't even know where I am.  It was the first of many times during that first week that I stopped for a moment to question my sanity.  Who does this when their family is half-grown?  Moves across the country and into a whole new world??  Crazy people, that's who.  You can draw your own conclusions about us from that statement.

The rest of the week was much the same.  Enrolling the boys in school was a relatively simple affair and pretty painless since the building the reminds us of the Perry Center and the classes are "pretty big this year" at 18-20 students per room.  McKinley and Reagan were pretty easy as well, but Kennedy.  Holy wow. Virginia does not feel the same way about homeschooling that Michigan does and we have had to do everything short of sign in blood to get her enrolled there as a Junior.  But, we overcame.  Tonight is orientation for the 3 girls and I feel like we're at the end of a marathon.

It is beautiful here.  And people are so kind and helpful.  The drivers are just as bad as Michigan drivers although the gas prices are much better.  ($3.15 last time I filled up!)  I think I like it.  But, I also miss the familiarity of Michigan and all my friends.  I was sad yesterday during FIM's open house and at the same time excited because I knew Reagan's placement class was today and I get to teach next week.  It is a strange dichotomy of emotions and I sometimes feel like I am hovering over myself watching the whole thing unfold.

But, we are here.  We have made it to week 2 and that feels pretty big right about now.

One day at a time...


Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Countdown

8...that is the number of nights I have left to sleep in this house.  The number of nights I have left to be a Michigan resident.

You might expect that I would be a hurricane of emotions right about now, but no.  Actually, I feel like nothing is changing and that all of this talk about moving is just that.  Of course, I know that's not true.  I know that I have boxes everywhere, my kids are sleeping on mattresses on the floor because we already packed their bed frames and that 1/3 of my belongings are already waiting for me at a house in Virginia that I have yet to see...but, that info just hasn't registered in my emotion center yet.

I'm sure that is partially because it is my brain's way of buffering me against the approaching shock and it is partially because that's just how I am wired.  I am what you might call "even keel."  I think first and feel later. I think for most of my life that has lead people to believe that I am not really an emotional being, so I want to take a moment to clear up that misconception.

Though I may not show it in a way that you are used to seeing, I do feel things very deeply.  I'm not prone to jump up and down with excitement or wear sack cloth and ashes when I'm sad, but I go through all the same stages of feelings.  I know that in a couple of weeks, when I am at the new house and Kennedy is off at band camp with people we just met and I'm sitting alone for a minute with a cup of coffee; then it will hit me.  The magnitude of moving will overwhelm me.  I know it's coming, but I learned years ago that I can't change the timing.  I am who I am.

So, for those of you who are going to be able to come next Saturday to our farewell party, please don't be offended if I seem aloof.  I love all of you so much.  I will miss you terribly.  It's just that my feelings won't know it until a few weeks from now.  And then I will get on here and tell you all about it. Thank God for the internet...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Now For the Real Story

I am finally ready to talk about what's really been on my mind because, quite frankly, now everybody knows.    :)

We're moving.  Not across the street like last time, or 4 miles down the road like the time before that.  We are moving to another state - Virginia, that is...

We had never planned to, and did not ever think that we would leave Flint.  We have loved this city and loved the wonderful people we have been privileged to know here.  This city is where I married my best friend and gave birth to my 5 children.  This city is where I went from being a young, idealistic newlywed to being an older (but not old!) ;), more realistic wife and mother.  I have laughed and cried here.  Dreamed and been disappointed here.  Been amazed and frustrated here.  In short, I have lived.  I will always hold this city fondly in my heart and it is forever emblazoned on the pages of my history as "the place my adulthood started."

Now it is on to a new chapter, actually it feels more like a new book altogether.  The story of how we decided to move is long and probably better expressed over a cup of coffee than on the pages of a blog.  However, know this, we are peaceful (usually) and excited (almost always) and ready for this next part of life.  I know that the God who has brought us this far, will continue to carry us and I have great hope that the best part of life lies ahead for us.

If you're the praying kind, please remember Nic and I and the kids (especially the kids) in your prayers.  This is a huge step for them and though they are handling it like rockstars, I can see the fear of the unknown lurking behind their eyes at times and it breaks my Mom-heart.  I wish I could take away all of the difficulty for them, and yet I know from personal experience that is the tough times that make us stronger.  So, I just hug them and tell them "it will all be fine."  What I mean is, "it won't always feel fine, but I love you and together, we will make it."

As for those of you who live in Flint and around Flint, to all of you wonderful people who have helped to shape my life over the last 17 years.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I love you all and I will miss you.  So much.  If you are ever headed to a Virginia - you have a place to stay.

August 5th is the day we will be heading out.  It would be impossible for us to see all of you before then, but on the 3rd and 4th, we will be having an "open house" of sorts.  We will have some food and coffee and we would love it if you could stop by and bring us a picture of your family that we could take with us.  I will be posting more details soon.

I love you.  Thank you for being a part of my life!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This Isn't Really What's on my Mind...

But, it will help you understand why I'm having such trouble getting it out.

I am busy.  Yes, it is true that many of my obligations from this crazy school year are just about over.  In fact, I expected that I would feel considerable relief by the time I reached this point in the year.  And I do.  Sort of.

The truth is that even when I'm not doing "extra" things, my life is still busy.  Yes, my kids are older and much more able to do things on their own.  But, they're still here.  They're busy. They need to be taken places.  They need help with school.  If they're boys, they have to be forced into the shower when I'm already tired.   They ask a lot of questions.  They don't pay attention to questions that have already been asked in their presence and then they ask them again. Then, they wonder why I lose my cool a little when someone asks me for the 5th time what we're having for dinner. (Don't they know by now that I have no flippin' idea what we're having for dinner until I have started to cook it??)  They want to talk to me.  All the time.  I love talking to my children.  Love it!  But, I'm a little outnumbered and my personality  requires a lot of solitude.  I don't get any.

I have figured out the problem.  My brain is tired.  I can't hash out all that's going through my brain because I'm living in a cerebral traffic jam.

This explains why when I do have a minute alone, like now, what I usually end up doing is sitting and staring.  I drink coffee.  I stare some more.  I think of something great I should do.  Then I give up on it and stare a little.

I'm certain this season will not last forever, and I'm even more certain that I will be sad when it passes.  But, right now it is still gonna take me a little longer to tell you what I really want to tell you.  I'll get back with you when the stare passes...;)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Life Lessons, but Not the Normal Ones...

So, this morning I discovered that Carter has to make an invention and a display board for the Young Inventor's fair.  If you don't know what that is, think science fair on steroids.

The problem is, it is due Thursday.  Thursday.  As in 3 days from today.

"How long have you known about this??!!"  I ask him.  "For a while, Mom.  But, I thought it was only the 4th graders that had to do it." He is in a multi-age 3rd and 4th grade class and they do often have different assignments, so that's not as ridiculous of an answer as it sounds.  I glance over at him and realize he's crying.    "How am I going to get that done, Mom??  I'm freaking out!"

Me too, buddy.

There are 2 (or a million) schools of thought on how I should handle this situation.  I'm sure some of you are thinking something along the lines of , "that boy needs to learn responsibility!  He dropped the ball, he wasn't paying close enough attention and the best thing is for you to just let him fail!"  Geez, I'm glad you're not my Mom...

Others might say, "He's lying.  He knew about it all along and he is just pulling out the tears to get you to do all the work.  He sure has the wool pulled over your eyes."  You, my friend, don't know my son.  At his last school he earned the nickname "Carter the Confessor."  That boy cannot lie to save his life, he tattles on himself all the time.  Sometimes I just want to say to him, "Dude.  I didn't know about that.  If you hadn't said anything, you would have gotten away with it." (for the record, I don't).

There would probably be very few people who would tell me to do what I'm going to do which is to spend the next 3 nights helping him invent something, build it, and make a display board for it.  But, that's what I'm going to do.

Not because I'm too afraid to let him fail.

Not because he has me snowed.

Not because I really care if he gets a bad grade in 3rd grade science.

I'm doing it because I know him.  Because I know that he really did misunderstand the teacher's directions.  Because HE will be devastated if he gets a bad grade in 3rd grade science.  Because I have made mistakes before (much bigger ones than this!) and I know what it feels like when someone not only forgives you, but helps you clean up the mess.

So, anyone have any ideas of something we could invent??


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Of Broken Fingers and Spring Break.

This past week, for the first time ever, all of the planets aligned, and we actually left Flint for spring break.  All of our kids are old enough now that traveling is actually enjoyable and let me tell you the scenery between here and Virginia is breath-taking.  The quiet hours in the car (yes, we had many!) were pretty therapeutic for me and the sunny, sunny days and warm weather - awesome.

We did have one mishap, and it happened before we left, we just didn't know it.  The day after we arrived in Virginia, I was in the bedroom with Pierce and he knocked his hand on the dresser.  He immediately melted down like his hand had just been crushed under a car.  I was puzzled because he didn't hit it that hard, but when I looked at his hand, I realized the pinky on his right hand was swollen to twice the size of his other one.

There was no way that little knock on the dresser had caused that, so I immediately started questioning him.  Apparently, the last day of school before break, a little boy in his class had grabbed his pinky and bent in backwards until Pierce cried.  And he never told a grown-up because he didn't want the other little boy to be sad.  But, that was 6 days ago - 6 days.  (I'm probably up for the Mom of the Year Award for how quick I noticed that one).

So, off to the Virginia ER we headed, because even I know that if something is swollen for 6 days, that's probably not good.  The bright spot was the ER doc.  He was DEFINITELY from California.  He had skater hair and a laid back manner that cracked us all up.  He said to Pierce, "Hey, what's up, little bro?"  That's my kind of doctor. :)

Anyway, the x-ray showed that Pierce's finger was indeed broken.  Broken.  Another Kindergartener broke my son's finger.  On purpose.  Oh, the emotions, I can't even begin to describe them.  I can say that it is a good thing I was in Virginia and not Michigan when I found out.

The rest of our trip calmed me down considerably.  I am NOT excusing the behavior of the other kid.  But, things like this happen in life.  It was a reminder that I can't always be there and protect my kids from everything.  I am not all-knowing or all-powerful.  Neither are teachers, no matter how good they are.  As much as I wanted to rant and rave, I had to acknowledge that Pierce could have broken his finger pretty much anywhere.

So, I decided instead to be grateful.  Grateful that it was just a pinky.  Grateful for ER's and medical insurance.  Grateful for the funny skater doctor who mellowed us all out.  Grateful that although my son needs to learn when to speak up, that he has such a tender heart even towards someone who has wronged him.

That's what life is, isn't it?  Learning how to respond appropriately in the moment.  As much as we want to, we cannot control everything that comes our way, but we can control how we react.  We can decide to let things knock us down or make us stronger.  At this rate, I'm well on my way to Wonder Woman status. :)

And, hey, now Pierce gets to be the celebrity Kindergartener with a splint on his hand for a few weeks.  Silver linings, people, silver linings.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day of Wonder

I'm sure the fact that today is Good Friday has a lot to do with it, but today I am in awe.  In awe of life.  In awe of love.  In awe of creation.  In awe of family.  I have so, so much to be grateful drives me to my knees.

I know that all of you readers may not believe in Jesus, and that is ok.  I'm not trying to proselytize you.  But, I do believe in Him and days like today are so raw and real to me that even if you don't share my faith, I'd like to share my perspective on today with you.

There is a well known Christian song and one of the lines in the chorus goes like this, "Amazing love, how can it be?  That you my King would die for me?   Tears spring to my eyes when I hear it because it's so true.  It's not that I feel like a worthless worm...on the contrary, I feel amazed at the outpouring of love represented by the cross.  I'm sure the fact that we celebrate the death of our Savior seems morose and weird to people outside of the Christian faith, but it's not the ugliness of death that we celebrate.  It is the gift of life that that death purchased.  It is the amazing love story it tells.

That Jesus was willing to endure what he endured...that God was willing to let him...that it was because of their great love for humanity...that it was because of their great love

For those of you looking in on Christianity from the outside, I'm sure it doesn't always make sense.  I'm sure it looks like there is a lot of fighting and ridiculousness.  And, there is.  But, it's because people are people no  matter what faith they profess or even if they profess none.  We all have our insecurities, baggage from life, weird ideas and prejudices that we have been raised with.  But, know this.  God is good and He is love.  Period.

Today marks death, yes; but also amazing love.  And, as we are fond of saying, Sunday is on the way!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Sometimes when I start to write a blog I think to myself, "This sounds an awful lot like a blog I wrote last year or even last month..."  Then I wonder why.  Then I realize that maybe it's because so much of my life is "wash, rinse, repeat" right now.  I have to say though, the discoveries and topics I blog about here all feel new to me even if they travel along the same basic path.  So, read on if you're not bored. ;)

This one is going to be my annual "time to think about school next year" installment.  I feel a whole lot better about school next year than I felt at this time last year, so hey, there's one difference.  First of all, the boys are set.  Man, I couldn't be happier with a school than I am with City School.  Fantastic staff, small classes, tons of field trips and hands on learning, so much parent involvement - it is fabulous!

Second, although I certainly have no regrets about homeschooling Kennedy this year (actually it's been great), she will return to a traditional high school in the fall.  What can I say?  The kid is too smart for me.  I have discovered this year that although I can pass Algebra II, that doesn't mean I can teach it and although I could handle Chemistry - I don't wanna.  Plus, she has a great opportunity in a neighboring school district (this time it's for real) where she knows a couple of kids already and we have it on the down low that the staff and programs are pretty great.

Reagan will remain at home.  She dances 5-6 days a week and when she's in school, I feel like we barely see her.  I like her, so that's not a good plan.  Also, since I have a bit longer to pull it together, I know that I can put together a high school program for her that will cover all the bases.

So, that leaves McKinley.  She's the tricky one this year.  Because the boys are at Grand Blanc through the district of choice program, I could apply and she could go to Grand Blanc Middle School next year.  Could. Or not.  I could homeschool her for middle school and then send her there for high school.  Could. Or not.  I can clearly see the pros and cons of both options.  So, I'm not sure about that one.  Film at eleven.

All of this brings me back around to being grateful.  Though I sometimes get tired of all of the planning and plotting for school, I am darn grateful that I have the privilege.  I am thrilled that I get to consider each of my kids as individuals and tailor their education to what is best for them at whatever stage of life they're in.  No, our schooling thus far has not been typical, but I think it has been the best for them.

So, I'm interested to know.  What does the school journey look like in your house?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

So, I read this account yesterday...

of a woman who came of age in Nazi - occupied Austria.

It was chilling.

To hear her tell of how Hitler was literally welcomed into Austria with open arms (98% of the vote, friends) and then methodically turned it into the horrible dictatorship it became, did indeed give me pause.  However, this is not going to be a blog about how America is headed down that same path.  It won't be for several reasons, not the least of which is that I don't completely buy in to that train of thought.  I have many friends on both sides of that argument and both sides have many valid arguments.  Alas, I don't want to argue.

The reason I mention the account is because one of the things she said really struck a chord with me and it was this: at some point along the awful chain of events, all men and women were required to work full time (or be denied a ration card) and the government offered childcare 24/7 - free of charge.  The woman made a comment to this effect, "There were no mothers around to nurture.  The kids were raised by the government."

I stopped reading for several seconds and let that soak in.  No mothers around to nurture.  Infants who were not cooed at and did not have their toes counted.  Toddlers who had no one around to care when they took their first steps.  Preschoolers who didn't have a lap to climb up in when their fledgling independence failed them.  Elementary aged children with no fan club.  Teenagers with no one to walk the tricky line of holding onto them and letting them go.

Oh my God.  With the just the little bit of study that I have done in regards to child development and the human psyche in general, I cannot imagine a worse scenario...for the children or the mothers.

When we start to feel weary along the road of parenting, and yes, we all do; a story like this can whip our lives right back into perspective.  Sure, our days can be long and monotonous, but not one of them is insignificant in the grand scheme of our children's lives.  Each day is a building block on the last and it will all add up to kids who turn into adults that have been well-loved.  Adults who were nurtured.

That dream is our staying power and those adults will, one day, be our gift to society.