Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving

There's so much for which to be grateful this season. Here's a little off my list. . .

The usual baseline of food, shelter, clothing is profoundly appreciated here, as is the warmth of friends and family for sharing with. That we live where food, shelter, clothing are generally givens is awesome.

Our co-op/cottage school (still no catchy name) is exceeding our wildest hopes in productivity, friendship, volume of material covered. Thanks to this situation, the kids are getting a leap forward in nearly every subject: viewing all sorts of things with new eyes and having different experiences with awesome people. And we're going to cheerfully bust the math rut we've been in. Yee-haw.

The kids are pretty healthy. Amazingly, only the smallest of colds have made the rounds so far this season. A mere hiccup rather than nebulizer-worthy. Awesome.

Q has such an amazing array of people we're working with: Pediatrician, Neurologist, Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Urologist, etc. Some of these have faded into the background as we do the weekly visits with Occupational and Physical therapists, twice monthly visits with his Speech therapist. Speaking of which, the news from vision therapy is that Q now seems to be seeing at about 20/310, a marked improvement from the 20/400 of the summer. The news from OT is that his newest therapist (just began this last week) believes he has some great building blocks to work with. He approaches his midline and orients to sound, though he's put off by sudden movement (proprioception again). Her goal for Q is to take him to a place where he can enjoy moving without being made afraid by it. The work he's doing in PT has him almost rolling over as well as holding himself up on his arms better while prone. We're moving on to supination (imagine holding a bowl of soup cupped in your hand="soup"-ination, vs. in pronation your hand would be upside down--think "pour"ing) and trunk steadiness for sitting. His pecs are tight, but stretching; his hands opening nicely during his grabs for toys. And note--he's grabbing for toys!! I am grateful for pharmaceuticals, for people who know their stuff and care passionately about what they do, and for progress.

I am thankful for the opportunity to mother my kids. I am grateful that they continue to grow and develop, each according to his or her own abilities and talents. S is close to reading, loves to play pretend, is perpetually hilarious in the most banal of situations, picks up bits of information wherever she is ("sum, esse, fui, I am, to be, I was" over and over again). K loves to read, is getting better with each passing week, and is so much a big girl, daily more self-possessed and self-assured, singing and playing piano with skill beyond her age. E is conquering everything that comes within reach: math, English, her reading skills and vocabulary have just jumped dramatically. She seems to be just on the verge of becoming a fashion designer--always drawing, cutting, pasting, mostly clothes/outfits. G is so different now than he was just a few months ago. He's attained new skills in piano (they are all thriving with an awesome teacher--recital's coming up). He's gaining on Latin at a nearly alarming pace. Ever watch your kid do something and wonder if and how you'll be able to keep pace with them? I've been thinking just that since he was 20 months and we were drawing parallelograms and rhombi because we were bored with stars, squares, ovals, whales, boats, etc. When he was two and a half we discussed parallel vs. perpendicular because he was playing with Jenga blocks and needed something more entertaining to do. More recently, his grasp of sentence diagramming is fun to watch. E has just begun this and she'll give G a run for his money.

Homeschooling. I can't say enough how much fun we're having with this academic business. That G says often how much he loves history (he's busy breathing science, so he doesn't think to mention that), that he asks to homeschool through college (heh), that I've been privileged to walk them through learning to read. . . Words fail me. It is an awesome, awesome thing. Additionally, having them close means I can put more effort into each of them individually. For example, the character development of late has been super. Each of them has made strides in understanding themselves, each other, that they must mind and help--why? Because that's what we do in a family. It's what we do in life. We help each other. Yup. Our conversation en route Thanksgiving day was about impulse control and personal accountability. We'll have the same conversation several times over. Various parts will fly over various heads, yes, but more will stick each time. Some day, we won't begin these conversations with, "Can you think why your sister might not enjoy dirty, smelly socks in her face? Was that a good choice? How shall we help your brain grow to remember that self-control will make for happier times for all of us?"

(Deep breath.)

So. Things are often crummy, true. But they are as often deserving of superlatives (ask G for the definition of superlative as a part of speech, he could use the review), if one is only willing to look for the appropriate features.

It's been horrifyingly rainy here. The month has literally blown the record for wettest month away. By the end of November, we will have had nearly half the rainfall for an entire year. The month has brought power outages, flooding, loss. The damage to national parks is estimated at $50 million. The damage to private property is double that. And yet.

We were driving north one morning when the clouds broke behind us and sun slanted through at a 45. The colors, wet and glossy, seemed backlit. The road reflected the sky, the clouds were suddenly a million shades of blue-grays, the trees looked as if they had been drawn with generous lines of oil pastels, stark against the backdrop of flooded fields, the few remaining leaves on those branches added with wet splotches of copper. Cranberry red leaves glowed, fir trees shone green, green, green. A great blue heron flew over the road.

Yesterday, driving home, I rounded a corner coming down a hill and suddenly the sky was a Maxfield Parrish painting: sun at the horizon broadcasting startling shades of apricotpinkgold, blues beyond description. There were clouds of every size and type, some losing rain in vertical swoops, some scudding across the darkening sky in great mounds of marshmallow fluff. The bottom edge of the picture was framed with firs, while seagulls soared and dove.

Last week we saw a full rainbow on our way from the art museum to gymnastics. A couple of weeks ago, in a drilling rain, we watched a forty foot cedar, several 30-40 foot firs and alders, and stumps speeding past in a swollen river. The camellia is blooming a whispering pink in my aunt's backyard. The jasmine twines itself higher in a protected corner next to the house. The bunnies mow the lawn.

Life is hectic (you should see my color-coded schedule--it cracks me up, I'm weird that way). It is sometimes crazy and more than I know what to do with. Often, it is messy. Though I sometimes crave a space of quiet, I don't know that I could figure out what to do with it, were it to present itself.

Life will, God willing, always be busy. Full to overflowing with the richness of growing-up offspring, the blessed cake of ordinariness, the frosting of extraordinary people.

I am glad to be here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I'm still here! Not asleep. (ha)

Last week, the little S had been fussing with her hair for awhile when she turned to me and said (headband askew, hair sticking up), "I look crazy. . . (pause) . . . but not dang crazy."

Splutter. Choke. Run from the room.


Q starts Occupational Therapy November 20 at 8am sharp. This will add a new wrinkle to our schedule. Perhaps he'll begin to sleep more so when I have to get up in the dark in order to get everything rolling for the day I won't feel like a zombie? Too much to hope for? Nah. Sooner or later it has to happen.

He has seven teeth. This could account for some of the crankiness he had, but I don't know about the crankiness of the last two days. His neck feels like he has a fever, but I'm not getting anything to register. Hmmm.


Have I mentioned that I love having a Sabbath? An honest to goodness time off from the world? This is what I read this last Sabbath:

We would never judge any of God's other children with the savage condemnation with which we crush ourselves. Indeed, self-hatred becomes bigger than life itself, growing until it is seen as the beginning and the end. The image of the childhood story about Chicken Little comes to mind. In our self-hatred, we feel that the sky is falling.

Understandably, then, we hide our true selves from God in prayer. We simply do not trust that he can handle all that goes on in our minds and hearts. Can he accept our hateful thoughts, our cruel fantasies, and our bizarre dreams? we wonder. Can he cope with our primitive images, our inflated illusions, and our exotic mental castles? We conclude that he cannot and thus withhold from Jesus what is most in need of his healing touch.

In order to grow in trust, we must allow God to see us and love us precisely as we are. The best way to do this is through prayer. As we pray, the unrestricted love of God gradually transforms us. We open ourselves to receive our own truth in the light of God's truth. The Spirit opens our eyes to see what really is, to pierce through illusions so that we can discover that we are seen by God with a gaze of love.

Brennan Manning, in Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God

(Thanks to T for the book rec--it has truly been balm for my soul.)