Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week's End

I'm so glad it's Friday.  Deep breath... 

Conversations about Q this week included prospective special needs car seats, since he's truly outgrown the longest, most supportive, "regular" seat I could find.  He's just looong.  So we'll try out possible models in a week and a half.  We really need ramps for the front and back  doors, and for the van - then the conversation would shift a bit, and might even include timing for a possible power chair of his own.  Q also brought home an older Daessy mount (this, sort of) for his iPad, which he is just loving.  The rockstar OT who's working with the power chair trials scrounged and found this in a closet.  I've been scheming over how to manage a support arm like this for a couple of years, so I'll just go ahead and say it: Squee!  There aren't really words for how big a difference it's already made for the boy.  Big, happy sighs.

We have crockpots of spiced apples set to "warm," bubbling away on the kitchen counter.  There's a lovely breeze coming in through the window.  Tomorrow will be above eighty again, after a couple of days of rain.  Earlier, I stuck some chocolate mint into a tub of sugar, and now I'm waiting for the lavender to dry so I can start a new batch.  A couple of weeks ago, we had a bunch of blueberries which were good, but needed to be dessert.  I happened upon a tub of lavender sugar I made last year and had forgotten about in the mug cabinet.  Eyes rolled back in their heads - a drizzle of cream, a sprinkle of lavender sugar, et voila.  A luscious new favorite.

The rain was nice, but since the air stayed so warm, the weeds sure grew.  Meanwhile, the couple hundred green tomatoes are still hanging out (ba-dumpbump).  I keep harvesting Lemon Boys, which are delicious with goat cheese.  Okay, with any cheese. The Zebras are pretty.  Also green.  Sometime over the weekend, I think we'll make another run at the blackberries and thistles, and try to get some of the random naked areas covered with black plastic for winter weed abatement.  The flowering plum and dwarf red anjou need to be put in the dirt.  They were gifts, last fall, and I hadn't settled on their permanent homes before winter, or in the spring.  But we've moved them around the yard and moved them again, and imagined their future leaf canopies, talked about pruning, and now - the shovels.  We also have some curly willow twigs that came out of E's birthday flowers from grandma - they've leafed and rooted, and now it's time for dirt.

The random volunteer perennial babies are also doing well:  lemon balm, bronze fennel, blue hyssop, Hidcote and Munstead lavenders, oreganos, sedums, and chives on steroids.  It's a little nuts, but I can hardly wait to see what spring brings.  The hollyhocks have already thrown a bazillion seeds, and the bee balms have grown enough that I think they'll survive the winter.  And there are pansies coming up all over.  Ahhhh.

I've got school supplies to figure out (fret), and schedules to organize over the next couple of days.  The kids are ready for a full fall schedule, and I'm almost there with them.  I keep wishing I had a couple of extra days just to pull projects together so we're more collected as we begin All the Activities at once.  And more paperwork issues have come to light in the last couple of days, so...  Maybe I'll switch to getting up at 6, so I can have a little time before the kids have to be up?  I wonder if that wouldn't be best, since I'm pretty much fried by the time they're all tucked in and away for the night.

They're all quiet, so I'm taking my musing self to bed.  Happy being grateful for those who Labor Day.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Thank you

An hour ago, I opened the back door to let a little air circulate.  In came the warm, sweet, spicy scent of the stock next to the patio...  And away drained the rest of the day...

So we had some Latin, math, some language arts, music, a run, and chores.  Then we used Christmas movie tickets for Despicable Me 2, which Q found completely awesome, and then all the requisite feeding of the people and intermittent laundry. 

Tomorrow brings a drive for E (finishing the driving portion of Driver's Ed), during which K and S will knock out some more school work, then quartet practice for an upcoming wedding, therapies for Q, and we'll finish
writing our goals for the school year.

If you would, I'd appreciate prayers as we embark on the 2013-2014 year.  There's still work to be done on the one schedule - it would be helpful if there were suddenly openings for certain classes.  And the other schedules, while more straightforward, still require creativity.  Plus...  (argh)  We have a growing list of needs, some pressing, many of which I have no idea how to manage.  So.  Thank you.

And one more thing:  I've been listing off blessings in my head.  Because, you know, for all the hard work and occasional oddness, we're blessed.  Really and truly.  A box full of binders arrived here last week from someone who knew we needed some and had extra.  Binders!  Out of the blue!  A couple of anonymously sent gift certificates are covering what I hope are the last workbooks we'll need for the school year.  Sometimes it's hard to think positive thoughts in the middle of, say, the fifth call from SSI regarding Q, in which I learn that paperwork they received from me in April still has not been executed.  At those moments, it's especially wonderful to be able to recall the kindness and generosity of friends, family, and sometimes, complete strangers.  Y'all rock.  Thank you.

Time to breathe deeply and get some sleep.

Thank you.


I've been reading articles on how higher ed is getting it wrong, on how homeschoolers need to cover their bases, on nanotechnology in the Roman empire.  And then I read more at the NieNie Dialogues, which I've found so inspiring over the years.

With all that in my head, now I'm thinking.  I have a little painting that needs to be done, some as maintenance, and some to take things up a notch.  We have First Week projects to do, including our goals for the coming year (personal,  spiritual, academic), and some tidying before we fling ourselves into things.  It's time to put up the wall of Post-its to figure out how to make all the parts work for four kids with four different school schedules to consider.

Life is funny and has been for a long, looong time.  It's full, rich, and regularly unpredictable.  Despite that, patterns do emerge: we find that we need to feed ourselves in order to continue to feed those around us.  Whatever we're doing, hopefully with deep intention and a whole heart, whether we're paid for our work or not, spiritual refreshers are non-negotiable.  The more years I have on this sometimes silly planet, the more connected I find the physical to the spiritual to the intellectual.  Sweaty endeavors make me a better human in every way.  Bible reading and meditating on higher things, reading French philosophers (must stay a step ahead of children!), study abstracts, and neurological developmental theories - these make me a better human because they require things of me that the rest of my life does not.

I've been sometimes impatient with terms such as "radical self-care" and other pop-psych notions.  We are a busy people, dagnabit!  We are too easily taken in by soothing notions when what we need is a good slipping off of several layers of skin in order to become who we actually are.  Harumph.  Well, yes.  Yes, we are busy and too easily taken in.  And also, sometimes, we've actually had just about all we can take.  We cannot run our bodies forever without hydrating, resting, and stretching.  We can't spout sweet little truisms without continuing to develop the basis for an expanding understanding of actual truth.  We can't understand random doctoral abstracts without a pre-existing curiosity and decent vocabulary (At the moment, I'm a little fixated on nystagmus in relationship to eye gaze AAC.  Sorry.). 

It's pretty important to start out with a plan that allows the stretching, the development of knowledge, of vocab, and yes, curiosity.  It's important to keep the plan flexible, so it bends when the perpetually unpredictable bits predictably push the limits of its tensile strength.  It's important to plan for brushing your own teeth when you have a newborn, for maintaining muscle when even sleep is barely manageable, and to create new ways to enrich and elevate your closest relationships, even when the plan gets turned inside out, despite your best efforts.

There's an awful lot that I keep trying to control in this new normal, but can't.  I do not adore this feature.  Part of my weekend has involved a complicated conversation with the pharmacy, followed by a chat with the neurologist, refills called in for two meds, and a new one to consider.  My squirrel brain wants me to find better ways to do this, and so I do.  There's always a better way to organize, manage, or see the challenges in front of us.  And also?  Sometimes there isn't.  Sometimes the best we can do is acknowledge the truth: we're only human, and so we suffer the effects of gravity and limited internal resources.

There are only so many hours in a day, so many ways to work what needs working, and so many ways to recreate new resources.  Beginning a new day refreshed requires, um, radical self-care.  Go ahead, cringe.  I am. 

And then try reconsidering your horizons  This much we can all do, at stoplights, if there's literally no other time.  Imagine yourself as someone else, inhabiting a wholly different experience.  Pick up the bits of that alter ego and return to your regularly scheduled life with them, using small shifts to make changes that allow you (and kids, spouse, etc.) to re-design your family, career, finances, homekeeping, toothbrushing, and yes, the more radical kinds of self-care.  Perhaps you've been someone who's said for decades that she'd only run when chased by a bear.  Really?  What an interesting hill to die on.  Or you've said that you just can't manage money, an unruly child, your own snarky mouth, or your mom's medical needs.  So who will?  And better still - your kids are watching you, collecting details for their own adulthoods.  If you're not practicing radical self-care, radical self-accountability, radical reinvention, why not?

Guilt isn't useful unless we let it spur us on to better choices, so we can bypass the self-flagellation. That's a dead-end.  While we may need to put this on the To Do list in order to make it actually happen, beating ourselves about the head for dropping this ball defeats the purpose of the exercise.   Nobody gets Life right all the time.  Big deal.  The real question becomes:  How do we move on from here, right now?  How do we build ourselves into the people we need to be?  Are called to be?

There's a checklist, of sorts: Do you need Vitamin D?  Iron?  A hand to hold?  Heart-pounding exercise?  Bloodwork?  A better diet?  Someone to talk to?  Get there.  Get it, whatever it is, and then think again about where you're headed, how you're getting there, and what you desire for your legacy - for your kids, and maybe grandkids.

After those starting issues are tweaked, the thing that consistently works best for me when I'm at my wits' end is to execute an end run for whatever stressor has me wigging out.  Some kind  of creative pursuit that results in a real payoff is best.  A painting project, on canvas or walls, has worked well.  Sewing curtains, reorganizing closets or kitchen cabinets, moving furniture, scrubbing something down - each of these has a place in helping to create a clearer head.  There's always something about a paint brush for me, though.

Look.  I don't know your story.  But I do know some stories, including my own.  Things can be so tough.  Sometimes they're brutal, man, and they will suck away every breath, all focus and energy, and leave you a panting, prostrate husk.  It's horrendous. 

There's just one thing, though:  We're tougher.   We really, truly are.  At least today.  And tomorrow?  Tomorrow comes after another sleep, and with fresh opportunity. 

And I have more pep talks, stuffed in my pockets.  Seriously.  Call me.


Saturday, August 24, 2013


My, but the summer is flying by.  We've worked our collective tails right off, truly.  Between producing events, practicing and playing for weddings, travel, family finagling, violin camp (hooray for scholarships!), and all the therapies, I feel a bit like we're skidding into the new school year.

Speaking of, we'll start Monday, ready or not.  Heh.  I've been moving stacks of books and supplies, reorganizing for the next stretch.  We need to hop right into Latin and math, and the rest will come over the next few weeks.  E's schedule has yet to be verified, so that will keep us on our toes as we try to work orchestra, etc., around whatever shakes out for her.  Our first week will involve a couple of projects, since Q doesn't start up quite yet, and we can easily include him in those.  Besides, the weather has been so lovely, it's hard to imagine not biking or gardening or hiking or running as much as possible.

And speaking of weather, it has produced a spectacular tomato forest out back.  If they all ripen at once, we'll be in big trouble.  Or perhaps a sauce making party will be in order!  We also have lemon cucumbers, which are delicious, burgeoning sage plants, which can't wait to be frizzed in butter - nom), and the strawberries continue to produce - drool.  I should go pick that curly blue kale.  I bet it would make a fabulous salad.

In the meantime, the kids are out now, the house is quiet, so I'm off.  Wishing you blessings in the midst of whatever you've got going.