Sunday, January 8, 2012

All strapped in and ready to go.

School starts for me again in the morning, and I have every finger and toe crossed that this quarter doesn't end up like the fall. Fall quarter was a slow motion train wreck. I learned a lot, though. In those ten weeks, I found out that five classes plus institute is too many. Callings in church that require me to get the kids out the door by myself, arrive early, and have an active role all three hours don't add to the situation either. I went to crazy town and back, but I survived it.

My mantra for this year is balance. I know some people say that achieving balance in your life is an elusive dream that no one ever achieves. All I know is, when your balance gets seriously out of whack, it isn't pretty. I've had a month off of school, and it was blissfully renewing. It was such a relief to greet parts of me that had faded away under the stress. As days of peace and quiet passed, space opened up in my brain to reach out to others in need. I organized my cupboards, painted walls, and rearranged furniture (thanks, Mom!). I had time to think, contemplate, and curl up by the fire and read. I had adventures-- like grabbing the boys and slaughtering our turkeys and roosters with them. I purged myself of guilt and made those Christmas stockings I had been intending to sew after Kelton was born in 2001. It was lovely.
I only have three classes this quarter. I'm out of my high-demand callings at church for a while, and am focusing on making sure no one sits alone. The ground is frozen, so I don't have to think about gardening for a while. I'm starting my earth & space science minor, so I'll have labs and tests instead of papers, presentations, and portfolios to produce. Give me a test over a paper any day! I'm optimistic, this should be a good quarter if I can just keep my life in balance.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The year of intensity.

My Father-in-law asked me why I haven't blogged in so long. I had to think about that for a while. First of all, this has been the most intense year of my life. It took all my precious life force just to live it; nothing was left for documenting it. Second, crazy things have happened- things I didn't want to blog about because people would judge me and take away my mom card. Third, I've had amazing support during this year, and my need to tell my story has been satisfied that way.

I've had enough distance to mention some of my fun facts:
1. During my spring break, my sons rose up as one and created havoc at school. It wasn't a time of great stress at school, and the timing still mystifies me, but every child but one either got suspended, withdrawn from school, or had to call home from the Principal's office. Thankfully, most were for general tomfoolery and rascality, but still. I had to laugh.
2. I also came thisclose to having a SWAT team search my house and having a child expelled for what ended up not being a good way to impress an elementary school girl. I didn't laugh at that one. I did some deep cleansing breaths for a long, long time. It's almost funny, but it'll take a while.
3. The same week my kiddos were in revolt, my grades came out for winter quarter. I got to experience the darker side of dyslexia when my biology professor inadvertently gave my hard-won 4.0 to the student below me and gave me his 0.0. I missed making the Dean's list and scholarship consideration because of it. I was an overwrought ghost, haunting the registrar's and professor's office for ten days to no avail. I finally got sick of it and parked myself in the Dean's office and poof! Fixed in a flash. The happily ever after to this one is that I did end up getting a different scholarship, so there.
I lived through all that, but dang. They all pretty much happened simultaneously. That was one tough month.
When my brother died last year, it reoriented the gravitational pull of my life. Every day has been a push/pull experience toward fully processing those moments that were too intense to live at the time, and adjusting to the loss. Again, I'm really grateful for the support I have. Lewis has been a rock, and is always willing to pick up the slack when the work of grieving is more intense. The cool thing is, I have the best brother in the world. He is still very involved in the family so my relationship with him, instead of shrinking into the distant past, has stayed blessedly current. I know it probably can't stay like this forever, but it's enough for now.
I have also been consumed with all the 'firsts' of our little farm. We've raised and butchered chickens, learned how to/how not to keep baby chicks alive, and fended off a multitude of predators. We've felt a baby goat kicking inside his mommy, then enfolded him in a towel still wet from birth. I've gotten over the awkwardness of squeezing my goats girly goodies to milk her, and even made goat cheese.
We watched a youtube video on goat slaughter, then did it ourselves. I helped skin and butcher the demonic creature. I canned the meat, and even made sausage. I loved it so much, I'm taking hunter's safety next month with my three oldest boys.
We were given a boat this summer (!!!) and have spent fun days tubing, skiing, and fishing.
We worked for months getting the four, eighty-by-3.5 foot garden boxes fences, filled, and planted. Now we're drowning is zucchini. It's a lovely way to go!
We road-tripped with some of our closest friends and got to bask in the sight of Bono in leather pants. Unforgettable.
I got to be in a family band and rock out to Weezer for the reunion talent show. I don't ever want to see the video, I know it would spoil my memory of Julie's and my sweet harmony- especially the part where we totally lost our place and just yelled the words.
I'll wrap up this post with the present moment. I spent the last few days hanging out with my dad, doing my best not to lose or break him while my mom's away. We've had a great time, hitting a bucket of balls, hitting our friend's frozen yogurt place, and devouring pizza, root beer, and action movies. Sorry mom, he just had cold pizza and root beer for breakfast!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Happy

I realized this yesterday morning on my way into the science building. I had a giddy little swoop in my stomach, and I thought to myself, "I can't believe this is my life!" I love school. I love my kids, especially as they get older- so much more fun, so much less work. I love my little farm, and my plans for it. I love my sweet husband, who is always looking out for my comfort and cheering me on. These are the things I was thinking as I made my way to my first class of the day- geology.
I claimed a seat in the front row of the large theater-style auditorium. I sat down, swung the desk up and in front of me, and opened my backpack to get out my notebook. Only it wasn't there. It had everything in it. Everything. Every scrap of paper for taking notes, my lab manual for biology next hour, even the classroom numbers, that on the second day of class, I still need. I looked at the clock and weighed my options. The precious notebook could be in my car, way up a long, steep ramp in the nosebleed free parking section. I had 9 minutes. Should I go for it, or cut my losses? I imagined going through 2 lectures and a lab with nothing to write on, and made my choice.
I ran. Well, as fast as one can run on ice through a busy campus and not look like an idiot. I've been wanting to get more fit. Be careful what you wish for. I gasped and panted my way up that ramp, thighs in flames. I prayed as I approached my van. Please let it be in there. Please let it be in there.... It was. I was saved! I sprinted and dodged my way down the ramp through the thinning crowds. I checked the time, three minutes! I knew I wasn't going to make it, but I'd be close. I tried to control my breathing, because who wants to burst into a lecture hall late, red-faced and panting?
I made it, a minute or two late. I don't know what my face looked like, and I don't want to know. The professor looked at me with concern as I darted for my desk, saved for me by my coat, backpack and text. That was my way of telling her that I wasn't really late, just, um, late for the start of class. I tried to squeeze into the space between the desk and seat. No dice, and everyone was staring at me. There was nothing for it but to take down the desk part to sit down. I tried to, but my textbook went splatting to the floor. Flame-faced, panting and perspiring, I finally settled into my seat with my precious notebook. My professor nodded to me as if asking for permission to begin again, and I experienced about five minutes of humiliation. Then I happily began to take notes.
Then I laughed about it inside for the rest of the day.
Life is good, and I am indeed happy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Been Forever!

My son found my blog at school by searching his name on Bing, and we had a good laugh over the post he found. Time has sure flown! It seems like every time I turn around it's Friday again, which is a lot better than always being Monday.
School is hard. A professor explained why when she told me about dendrites, and how if you're out of school for a long time they shrivel up. When you start back to school, they're forced to reroute and regrow. So that's why it hurts. But I'm still loving it.
In fact, today is a celebration day. I got my grade for my first really real speech in speech class. It was a 99% with compliments underlined! Yes, it's a good day. Plus, there's no school tomorrow, and my parentals are coming tonight to spend the night!!!
We've had some drama though. A predator has been killing some of my beloved birds. My beautiful golden sex link was struck down IN the chicken yard IN broad daylight! I couldn't
believe it. Then, when we were in Idaho, two Barred Rocks fled and left nought but their feet and feathers. It's a good thing I'm married to a stud, I tell you. Look what he did!
Lewis caught the culprit in the act. He dropped him in one shot, so animal lovers, he didn't feel a thing.
We are loving our little farm though. We have two goats, Cymbeline (a milk goat when she's bred) and Ophelia (a meat goat). Lewis built them this cute little barn we call the Garn. For goat barn, get it?

Aren't they such cute girls? Liam has been worried that we're going to kill them and eat them. I tell him not to worry, we're not going to eat them, just their babies. Can you pre-pay for counselling?

Their cozy little home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My First Day of School, or Earlgirl's Descent into Hell

Look at me! I'm all excited, not knowing what humiliations are in store.

I was so prepared for today. I'd printed my schedule, walked the route I needed to take, packed my bag the night before with a bazillion pens, water and trail mix (just in case). It didn't make any difference. My day was the BOMB. Like Hiroshima. It started out great, I got pictures of me with my backpack, heading off to adventure. I left home at 8:05, which was cutting it a bit fine. That put me there with 5 minutes to make it from the parking lot to my seat. Do-able. Especially for the first day. Just as I was pulling up, I grabbed my schedule from my bag. To my horror, it wasn't my schedule, it was a receipt for my parking pass. I knew what building to go to, but I had no idea what class it was, or what room number! My heart did a little herky jerky thing, then the mom in me took over. I'd walked the route on Friday. I would remember the room when I saw it. I made it to the right building, but couldn't recognize the class room. Curses. By this time classes had started 5 minutes ago. There was nothing for it but to head to the registrar's office and get another copy. But I didn't have my pin memorized, and I didn't have it with me. I still raced to the office, and found an empty computer. I guessed my pin correctly (THANK YOU THANK YOU!) and after two tries, printed my schedule. I dashed back to the right building and made it to the exact same room I'd been hesitating over 10 minutes before. I took a deep breath, and interrupted the teacher 15 minutes into a 50 minute class. Nice. Naturally, the only seat available was front and center. I slid into it and tried to disappear. I grabbed my text and notebook and pretended that I'd been there all along. The teacher resumed his lecture, and mortification turned to horror. I had no idea what he was saying. He was using terms and symbols I didn't know existed. Was this Math 107? How could this be? Was this a dream? I need this class. NEED IT. I can't get into the Ed program without it. And he's speaking Greek in the first 15 minutes of the first day. I'm screwed. I wonder, am I in the right room? I look around me, and everyone has the same text as I do. All the while, the teacher is looking at me strangely, like "who are you?" Then I start to notice other things, like this girl to my left has pages of handwritten equations. He's calling students by name, like he already knows them. Something is wrong, very wrong. He's asking them if anyone had any problems with the homework. Then my heart stops. And I know. Today isn't the first day of school. I've gotten the day wrong. As soon as he finishes, I'm up there in a flash. "Um, you know those nightmares you have about the first day of school? I'm living one right now." I explain my mistake, and assure him that I'm actually a responsible adult and the mother of 5 sons, and an exchange student, who's waited 15 years to go to school, and I thought this was the first day, and how screwed actually am I? He laughs and fills me in on the mountain of assignments I've missed. I thank him, apologize again, and sprint across campus to my next class. Every other teacher laughed with me and got me up to speed. As I drove toward home, I was laughing hysterically. No schedule. 15 minutes late. Showing up on the 3rd day of class. At least I wasn't naked, right?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear Middle School Writing Teacher:

Upon receiving my very own writing assignment. Logan declined to answer some very personal questions with unswerving veracity. I allowed him to complete the assignment as a work of fiction.
Who is your greatest hero?
Adolf Hitler, because he can grow a killer mustache. (Get it? Killer?)
What is your least favorite chore?
Plasma donation day.
What would be your most cherished gift?
My very own bed in the house, the shed roof leaks in the rain.
What is your favorite subject at school?
Lunch, it's the only meal I get all day.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Learning to wipe myself was the best 13th birthday present I could give myself.
What is your greatest aspiration?
To be first lady of the United States.
Do you feel like the kids at school like you?
They laugh every time I come near, so they must like me a lot!
What is your least favorite subject?
Gym, for what happens to me in the locker room.
What is your biggest complaint about your family?
They make me dress in girls clothes at home.

It went on and on, and we laughed until we cried.
Then she sent the assignment home for the parents to fill out. What? To test us to see how well we know our child. Nuh uh. Not going to happen.
I wrote this letter and stapled it to the assignment.

Dear Teacher,

When Logan brought the interest inventory home, he was very uncomfortable with the assignment. He felt that his biggest fears, disappointments and embarrassments are something he’d rather keep to himself. The sharing of personal details like that occurs best when a relationship of respect and trust has been developed, and he has simply not had the time or opportunity to develop that with you. I understand that the ability to access strong emotional experiences is vital for good writing, and such introspection doesn’t come naturally to middle schoolers. Becoming self aware is an important process that I applaud.

Inventories like this also could be valuable for assessing the mental health or family stability of a student. Please rest assured that Logan is a valued and loved member of our very intact family. In fact, filling out his inventory was a bonding family activity that made us laugh until we cried. He had my encouragement to make it a work of fiction. Writing fiction is still writing, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Giving parents a writing assignment makes me equally as uncomfortable as it made Logan. It reminds me of the time my CPS-worker sister did a bonding assessment on my toddler and me unawares, long before she became a parent. So I guess we both found the assignment intrusive and kind of freaky. We can’t decide; is it a nosey getting-to-know-you exercise, or a let’s see how well these parents know their kid exercise? Either one, we’d rather abstain.

Logan loves to write. He’s been writing fifty-plus page stories for years. He will enjoy learning all that you have to teach him this year. He’s a great kid with a positive attitude, and he’ll knock himself out trying to please you and perform up to your expectations. Just don’t expect him to dish about his private bidness.

Reclusively yours,