Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pooh Bear and Tator woke up sick this morning which cut my teaching load exactly in half and increased my mothering load by double. I am spoiled in that I cannot remember any of my children being sick one single day this entire school year, and I began school in July. I thanked God straight away for our general good health and that we have nothing pressing to do today or any other for that matter as a result of the Revolution. Buck sleeps after crazy work shifts, the children and I study hard, and by evening we all peter out just after dinner.

I admit an angst about the one day's delay of school's end, but I grateful for the time created to clean out the fridge, grind wheat, catch up on laundry, and bake a little.

An outline for a book came to me Sunday, but I am certainly not convinced I have the time and space to write it anytime soon. It's just nice to feel inspired.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Something I intend to remember

Today dear ones brought lunch and their families to lend their hearts to our family revolution. They had vision to see we could use some good old fashioned lovin', and it was a beautiful thing. These folks listened to Buck and I share our mistakes and the steps of revelation toward the higher goals of relationship with our children which ultimately we hope to lead us to a more authentic faith and deep friendship with our children as adults. We were both encouraged to look forward rather than backward and count our mistakes as lessons learned. What a burden lifted! These dear people prayed over us. One recounted the Pearl of Great Price we'd found in laying aside all other things in exchange for the best- a family as closely knit as winter wool sweater. Another compared us to the image of a strong fort in Florida which took twenty years to build- when impacted by cannonballs, the porous rock compacted and simply became stronger. One prayed for a love so strong between Buck and I that our children would stand staring just hoping for something so wonderful for themselves one day. Now isn't that the way to go? Claire shared a picture of a giant footprint in the sand with bunches of little footprints everywhere around, "Who left this enormous indention? People stand around it gaping and utterly puzzled looking down into the depression of gargantuan toes and a heel. It represents the positive impact of your family in this world from the choices you are making now." One gentleman had the audacity to say that he was encouraged by all our self examination and would do more of the same on behalf of his clan. What have the Vyne's done to deserve any of these fine individuals to come to our home and our messy lives?

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us.

I've drawn the outline of a marvelous giant foot in washable purple marker on my bathroom mirror inspiring me to press on toward the goal set before me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nobody told me a new Amy Tan book was published! Though I rarely buy new fiction books, I snatched up a paperback copy off the rack at Target when I stumbled across Saving Fish from Drowning. This means I totally missed the hard to paper back transition period. How long has this book by one of my most favorite authors been out while I've been pining away for a mental escape under the snuggly covers of my bed for ancient Chinese secrets? I obviously haven't taken time to wander aimlessly through a bookstore as if time did not exist. Though I've been to Borders at least three times in the last few months, somehow I've managed to completely overlook Amy's art.

So, this is a cautionary tale for all you book worms out there. Once a person has children, there's no turning back the clock to entire weekends devoted exclusively to devouring a really good book. So far this particular weekend for me has been dedicated to two fabulous children's birthday parties. This is why I was in Target in the first place- Pooh Bear needed to choose pink and purple presents to bestow on lovely birthday girls.

And if anyone would be so kind as to let me know if and when Barbara Kingsolver releases her next book. I'd like hear about it before my six year old daughter graduates from college. I'm obviously out of the "great newly published book" loop.

Sigh. Yet another reason to consider myself as no longer hip.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

As a part of my parenting revolution, I've taken a long hard look at myself, my strengths, weaknesses, my goals, and my purpose. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but through the tears of introspection and soul searching, I've clawed my way back to the hard but right path.

And wouldn't you know it? I found encouragement twice- smack dab in the middle of my children's homeschool.

The first astonishing moment flew from the page straight to my heart from our family read aloud- The Wilderness Family by Kobie Kruger. It's a true story of a family who lived on nature preserves in Africa to protect the wildlife. At this point in the story, Kobie, who raised a tiny lion cub named Leo, struggles to let go of her now full grown lion.

"So I would wake up at night, feeling sad and restless. Leo loved us and needed us. How could we even think of abandoning him? I paced the house, tyring to think of other solutions. We could all move away to some remote wild place where no other people ever came, and live there happily ever after with our lion.

But how would we live?

We could establish Leo in some remote corner of the Kruger Park (one of the nature preserves)- where no one would know about him- and we would visit him as frequently as possible, often spending days camping with him in the bush.

But how would he live-unable to hunt and unable to fend for himself? Unlike the Save Valley(the preserve far from Kobie's home Leo was scheduled to move into) that had as yet no lion population, Kruger Park had lions all over the place- wild lions who would defend their territories against interlopers like Leo.

It seemed stranger to me that the lion, powerful as he was, should be the most vulnerable of hand-reared orphans when reintroduced to the wild.

During those long sleepless night I would often think back to the day that Hettie (Kobie's oldest daughter) had first gone off to university. We still lived a t Mahlangeni then, more than six hundered kilometers from Johannesburg. We took her to the airport at Phalaborwa, and as her ariplane started taxiiing across the runway for takeoff, I wanted to run after it, shouting for it to stop and bring back my child. I wanted to explain to the pilot-and everyone else- that it was all a mistake. She was just a child of the wilderness, unprepraed for city life... she would feel so bewildered, so lonely, so lost.

But who would listen? Who would understand?

After she left, I couldn't sleep or eat properly for many days.

And then , when Sandra's (Kobie's second daughter) turn came the following year, I thought I was better prepared for it, having already been through the whole trauma once before. But harsh experiencecs don't make you stronger. They make you more vulnerable.

I decided that the only way I could prepare myself for the eventual parting with Leo was to rely on my belief that happy memories made the future bearable. And so I set about collecting good moments with Leo to add to my memory's repertoire. I also check my diaries to make sure I had recovered all the good memories of the past."

The second moment of encouragement came while Wise One read poetry from his language art assignment.

What is Once Loved

What is once loved
You will find
Is always yours
From that day.
Take it home
In your mind
And nothing ever
Can take it away.
Elizabeth Coatsworth

The sand sifts through the hourglass at a breathtaking pace concerning the days with my children spend beside me. I intend to make the most of it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

January Pet Peeve

Let's say I faithfully go to the gym for nearly 4 years now. I know who comes on a regular basis and who does not. It's all good.

Then the calendar page flips to January.

People start flocking to the gym, and suddenly the machines are all very occupied with unfamiliar faces I am unlikely to ask, "Can I work in a set?"

I know it's impatient and selfish, but I really don't like waiting on my favorite treadmill.

And if I even want to go near the free weights, I have to try and ignore the GUN SHOW. Tonight there must have been 10 men gathered and cheering around Edwardo as he chest pressed hundreds of pounds. Please.

Good thing I have an ipod to crank to block out all that testosterone.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Strange dream

I'm alone in my home this morning for the first time in weeks which gives me opportunity to process my vivid and unsettling dream. Often when a transition is on it's way for me, I dream about going away to college for the first time. Last night I dreamed this familiar dream, but I couldn't find anyone I knew (Momma Kass, my roomate from college, where were you?) and ended up having to sleep on the floor with only a blanket- neither was the case in real life. It cracks me up now thinking the dream over, because in the dream I was wishing for a nap mat in my garage now from the time my children went to Montessori school. As I continued to dream, my mom came to pick me up for Thanksgiving and drove me to Berea where my grandparents formerly resided before their deaths. Mom had rented a little house with only folding chairs and tables, when my grandfather drove up in their old timey automoblie with my grandma beside him in the front seat of the car. In the dream, I knew that he'd brought her from the nursing home. In real life, he had died of black lung from the coal mines long before Grandma Eaddie went to the nursing home. Grandma stumbled confused into the door and immediately released a colorful parrot who flew up immediately up and clung to the vault ceiling. I don't remember Grandma Eaddie ever owning a bird here on earth, but my Mamaw Francis had. As the dream moved forward, I helped Grandma coax her bird back to her hands, and I settled this dear woman into a folding chair. "Weeellll," Grandma chuckled her smoker's throaty laugh. I went to the kitchen to help my mother who was warming up already cooked Thanksgiving food. "I bought this food from the nursing home. I didn't suppose I could cook in a rented house," Mom told me. What? I found this very odd. Everyone began to watch television, and I felt uneasy. This is when I had a long look at Grandpa who wasn't just himself. As he smoked a cigarette, I understood he was a cross between Grandpa and my Uncle June with balding hair and a crooked smile. Odd! I thought to myself, "How do I get everyone to talk instead? We never meet like this, and we're wasting our time together watching goofy tv shows. I don't suppose there are any games in this barren house." So I announced, "It's a beautiful day. Can we eat on the patio?" The crowd moved outside which shook up my barely calmed Grandma. Grandpa/Uncle June and I held Grandma's arms and walked her outside to a folding chair on the patio. Outside we found my mother arranging one large potted flowering bush and a dozen gold foiled pots of pansies along the edge of the patio. I made a note that this was my mom's way of trying to make Grandma feel at home, because Grandma loved flowers.
I woke up from this slumber feeling melancholy and confused. Perhaps the terrible migraine headache I had yesterday stirred up an unconcious part of my brain. I thought maybe writing the dream down would bring clarity, but it doesn't.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

YES! This year I'm finally using an academic curriculum homeschool for two of my four children which suits the needs of my family and myself without the tyranny of willy nilly ecclectic approach I've used in all the years in the past. However, Peace is in a one day a week co-op this year, and today he's asking to come on back home again next year. Hooray! No more horrid Monday mornings leaving the house at 7 a.m. with four fed and groomed children, lunch and drinks, and all homeschool materials necessary to complete while brother finishes his classes. We'll only need to find fine arts outside our home for next year. Hip! Hip! Hooray!
I suppose it's God's mercy to allow us a year of rest before the enormous challenges of high school begins.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What have I been up to lately? Christmas Eve through the week after, we hosted three sets of guests- Grandmas, Grandpas, aunts, and cousins. I am so grateful to have these splendid folks sharing their lives with us.

The following week, Buck and I spent intensive one on one child time at home every day as part of our parenting revolution. Of all the research we’ve done, this tool of focused positive attention transforms relationships more than any we’ve tried. And we’ve found that the majority of parenting books and advice contain the wrong focus- behavior instead of relationship. Thank God for Ross Campbell and his Relational Parenting book. It’s been a gift to our family.

This week, we’re getting home school back on track after the long holiday break. I was completely exhausted after the first two days over the books. However, once we finish academics, the children are still longing for all that fun time with me. I see I’m going to have to find a fine balance. Perhaps, I can take an hour to recoup after school before launching into one on one time. Not easy to do as Pooh Bear follows me around with her fairy coloring book and fairy song CD in hand waiting for me to say, “It’s time for just you and me.” I’ve finished Pilgrim’s Progress with Wise One last night. I’m reading The Education of Little Tree with Tator. Peace and I are etching out an art project. I do enjoy the company of my own children. I think I was too busy the revolution with my own projects to see that.

From now until the end of school, I must stay on this narrow path, so I’ve been canceling all of my own personal activities except limited gym time. Some of the hardest things to cancel have been retreats, even some where I was to present Still Waters contemplative materials. This also requires giving up dance with church for this season. There will be time enough for those things I’ve laid down once heart strings of this family are tightly woven again.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's happened. Suddenly I am the mother of a teenager. Peace turns 13 today. I'm not quite in for the "I need a cell phone, have a girlfriend, and can't wait till I drive" type teen, because this particular teenager is still a boy in many ways, including the sweet and thoughtful ways. I think Buck and I will plan a manhood passage ceremony of some kind next year, because it just doesn't feel like he's ready yet. The most teenagery thing about Peace is the beginning of pimples around his nose, that bigger than a boy smell, and the occasional negative thinking aloud.

Peace rocked my world when he was born and could not be comforted. Until he could walk at fourteen months, he cried constantly. People asked me, "What is wrong with your baby? Shouldn't you just take him home?" And I would have except for the fact that I needed groceries. When he began to walk, his whole personality transformed into a happy child.

So much for the rough start, because now he is a delight. Peace has the rare gift of compassion, and it is amazing to watch him reach out to the unloved and unlovely. He observes nature and cares deeply for all creation. He truly understands awe and wonder.