Sunday, September 30, 2007

Buck laid down his life for me this weekend again. While I was out of town teaching again for the last two days, he took the children to soccer practice, three games, and a scout service project, and mowed the lawn to boot. What a man!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

As a mother, I am not fond of this time of year. While I loved Halloween, witches, and ghosts as a child, my children do not.

Since Wise One was very small, he's been particularly sensitive to the store decorations for Halloween. At about five years old, I dragged the boy into a black and orange decked out Party City to buy some paper plates for a party, and five years later, he still remembers the experience with terror.

Pooh Bear, who was riding with Buck in another car, watched me dash into Walgreens two nights ago. Last night, she woke up crying hysterically saying, "I saw those ugly terrible faces in the drug store swallow you up."

Tater got creeped out around midnight, because he couldn't get the bloody costumes out of his mind that he saw in the newspaper sales flyer earlier in the day. He slept on the floor on my room.

I'm mad, because it isn't even October yet. We have more than an entire month left to go of avoiding stores and living through nightmares with my six year old. Even the creepy blow up smiling skeletons at Wal-mart do her in.

Honestly, I wish Halloween would be replaced with fall festivals of pumpkins, hayrides, and scarecrows. Anyone else feel the same?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Place of Peace with Peace

I've mentioned my homeschooling struggle this year with my eigth grade son, Peace. After an entire month of desperation on both our parts, we've finally come to some workable solutions. I realized I'd been hanging so tightly onto my mother hat that my teacher hat got misplaced. The bottom line is that I was in survival mode with him, grasping at straws to keep him from failing. After seeking counsel from an amazing group of friends, I came to the conclusion that failing might be the only real option for my son. Once I let the idea of making him pass the eighth grade go and clearly outlined the requirements for him to pass, Peace and I stopped having any reasons to lock horns.

Why did it take so long for me to catch on to such a simple solution? Who wants to stand by and watch their child to fail a grade? I became like a nutball track coach pushing my slumbering athlete around the track, instead of allowing my athlete to run for himself. I held all the anxiety and worry for him, so Peace didn't want or need to pass. He saw me carrying his load, so he simply let go of any responsibility.

In the end, we wrote a contract in which I don't nag, and he is responsible for passing his school work by a certain time in the day. If he requires grace to meet his time deadline, he repays me for my extra teaching time with equal minutes of work around the house I couldn't manage while teaching.

The first day of our contract, Peace lost an essential assignment for the science course he takes at a private school. Normally, I would have given him the huffy "Why can't you keep your assignments in your notebook?" and "Where exactly is your brain?" lecture, and then I'd have steamed again when he missed his time deadline by carelessness of misplacing work. Instead, I required grace time of him when I joined his search. No lecture. No nagging. After school, Peace helped me with chores.

Though Peace still balks at anything resembling study, I ask simple questions such as, "Are you satisfied with D for a grade?" So far, he has not answered, "Yes." If he does, I'll record it and move on. Another eighth grade year before high school won't do anything but give him additional time to mature.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm having considerable trouble sleeping. Not because I'm troubled within, but for two precise furry reasons- Patches and Janet. Patches belongs to my son, Peace. Janet belongs to my son, Wise One. Neither feline sleeps with his rightful owner. Patches has become too old to jump in and out of Peace's loft, much to Peace's chagrin. Janet has never slept with Wise One, and I'm altogether not sure Janet is particularly fond of Wise One.

So, where have Patches and Janet chosen as their preferred sleeping quarters? My room, of course. Patches is quite fond of the computer paper box just under my side window. Janet snoozes on the home school math paper resting atop my printer. My favorite time of night is when Janet decides to walk across the desk and send objects, like the keyboard, crashing to the floor at 3:02 a.m. The two outlaws scrath and meow to enter and exit and ungodly hours of the night- the wind often closes my doors randomly.

The logical solution would be to put the fuzzy pair outside for the night and forget about it. However, this simply adds to their bag of wiley cat tricks. For several weeks now, our windows have been open, since I nearly dropped dead after opening our last electric bill. With the ceiling fans circling, windows open, and cool fall breezes coming through, it's downright pleasant inside my home. Take that, Loudon County Utilities Board! Anyhow, the obnoxious kitties now have full access to madly claw the screens and protest loudly their utter disatisfaction with the outdoor option.

Next time you see me in the grocery store, you'll be able to answer the question, "Why does True look so very tired, lately?" You'll know it's the nocturnal habits of neurotic cats forced upon me.

By the way, Buck slumbers right through it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This evening my children and I were treated to glance inside a glossy window pane into the life of Rachel Carson's astounding life via PBS's Bill Moyer. I'd only read and thoroughly enjoyed a few of Rachel's quotes and have never read A Silent Spring . Perhaps I will get to know her better through her writing now that we've been introduced. I was not aware that she was a poetic writer, an invested scientist, and a radical preservationist in her time. She was the first to publicly question the satiating use of new pesticides in homes, farms, and wars during the 1950's, thus the title of her book. Carson achieved the attention of the nation including President Kennedy on the topics and was mercilessly criticized by a small but rich minority- the prosperous chemical companies who wanted her observations silenced at any cost.

Rachel Carson existed in wonder and respect of God's handiwork the way I'd like to live. Here's a marvelous quote into which I was drawn deeply:

"I believe natural beauty has a necessary place in the spiritual development of any individual or any society. I believe that whenever we destroy beauty, or whenever we substitute something man made and artificial for a natural feature on the earth, we have retarded some part of man's spiritual growth."
Last night, I got a glimpse of the quote "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" through an unlikely source- a parking attendant. Claire and I loaded up her mini van with daughters to head to High School Musical on Ice. Feel free to roll your eyes at our shallow choice of cultural activity. The teens involved in our trip did not heed our pleas of hurry, so we were running late when we arrived at the coliseum. Claire dropped us off and offered to park while the rest of us found WILL CALL to round up our tickets.

Claire was met at the parking gate by the attendant who kindly spoke, "I have a special place I was saving just for you. I always save two spots for latecomers and you'll be excited to see which is your space. It's the empty spot right in front of you. After the event is over, you'll have an easy exit as well. I hope you enjoy the show." I am stunned at the grace and care of a woman simply looking to bless, making room for those in a time crunch instead of harboring the typical "serves you right" judgment of poor planning. How refreshing. Grace. Mercy. Given to our carload of Soarin' and Flyin' girls.

Monday, September 17, 2007

If you've read my blog lately, you know that homeschooling my eighth grade son has put me through my paces, both as a mother and a teacher. I stepped into my room during school this morning and overheard Peace talking with Wise One discussing something on the Internet, "See this Transformer? It's power begins here and..." I interrupted shortly, squaring my shoulders and steadying myself firmly for yet another home school showdown, "Which website are you exactly on?" Flashes of the fifty-two stay-on-task-and-get-ready-for-high-school-so-you'll-have-the-chance-to-go-to-college-not-to-mention-being-a-good-example-for-your-siblings conversations with Peace sprang to my irked mind. Were those two children actually looking at Transformer robots crushing cars and ten story buildings instead of finishing their assignments?

I scurried around to catch a view of the computer screen. Nope. Peace was teaching Wise One about the transfer of power from the Tesla coil. For literature, he's been reading biographies of famous scientists. I giggled. Peace quickly figured out why and giggled as well, "You thought this was the Transformer movie website didn't you? Mooooommmm."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Just so you know, it's not always the peaceable kingdom around here. I am in the dicey position of being the mother of two first born boys. One I labored to birth in a little more than 24 hours. The other I labored through 2 years of foster care to adopt, and his birth certificate now displays Buck's and my signature. Both boys vie for top dog position- sometimes to an infuriating breaking point. In an unusual circumstance, the three of us are at home together without the rest of the family with all media hushed (except me blogging), all school work and other labors tucked safely away. I've had the opportunity to observe their specific interactions as I've worked on various projects throughout the day.

Peace and Tater first chose to play Monopoly. They lasted over an hour, until the bank ran out of money. Neither knows it, but I'm most likely responsible for the shortage of cash- I throw monopoly money and other sundries away when I find misplaced things lying about unattended. Next the two guys jumped on the trampoline together. Soon after, I heard them playing some kind of war game fearlessly protecting our beloved chickens from the menacing chicken hawks. With no animosity, they split up for some time- one reading a novel, the other listening to a book on tape and building legos.

I asked them at dinner to choose which brother would milk the goat knowing I could be stirring the firstborn pot. The third son, who was absent, happened to be scheduled to milk. To my surprise, no sparks flew between Tater and Peace over the decision, just Tater agreeing to do so. Once milking commenced, Tater popped inside to gently grab Peace for assistance. Tater's breathing became slightly short. The Tennessee weather conjured up some nip in the air suddenly, and Tater's throat sometimes closes up a wee bit. Peace took over without a hint of imposition.

If you didn't understand the discord of their relationship at times, bulls locking horns, you'd think these two were best of friends, close, thick as thieves upon observing their collective peaceful demeanors on this rare occasion. Frankly, I'm encouraged they've chosen the company of one another at various times throughout the day. Other days, I've wondered if they'll seek each other at all as adults. Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What about my last post?

Try these on for size, and let me know what you think.

I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.
Mark Twain

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
W.B. Yeats
The 20 Qualities of an Educated Person
by John Taylor Gatto
(former New York City and New York State Teacher of the Year)

1. A broadly knowledgeable mind
2. Self confidence
3. A life purpose
4. A touch of class
5. Good leadership skills
6. The ability to work with a team
7. Patience
8. Good public speaking skills
9. Good writing skills
10. Resourcefulness
11. A desire for responsibility
12. Honesty
13. A public spirit
14. The ability to work well alone
15. An eye for details
16. The ability to focus at will
17. Perseverance
18. The ability to handle pressure
19. Curiosity
20. An attractive personal style

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's been a week since I've gone running, so today was exceptionally difficult. On the inclines I ran slower than fast walking people. It's quite a set back as I was training for an October race which benefits the school my son attends for science. For several weeks, I've been cutting my time, and I added several minutes back on today.

Life seems to be like that. Hitting a great pace, the best, and being disappointed with setbacks like.

I was thinking as I ran today about the tyranny of the unexamined life. How if emotions of the moment make my decisions, I'd give up even simple things like running. It's hard. I don't like how it feels. I'm slower than I've ever been. Why even try when one week of illness makes such a huge dent in progress?

I could go to that same worn out place with the difficulties with my children and husband as result of not being able to be "on game" for three days. Recovering my house, homeschool, and hearts still continues.

I used to be ruled by the tyranny of it all. For example, I'd give up exercising for half a year when something like this discouraged me. I'd seethe at the messes of my house and hold the disorder of my home against my husband and children. What I lacked was grace- grace for my family to come slightly undone when I couldn't do my part. I demanded my husband become God, read my mind and keep things up and running just the way I like them. No grace for the pieces of which were accomplished, just disdain for the overlooked.

Now, with self examination, I don't see things quite the same way. When I'm centered, I've learned to let go, and allow my family to be less than superhuman. I recognize my part in the house and family is vital and will suffer when I can't do it. An opportunity will come to set things right in due time, and it doesn't all have to happen now or today. The tyranny of the immediate is lifted. I like my family and myself much better under grace.

We went to the fair, soccer, and scouts today. I'll have the chance to prove myself tomorrow as we've dumped and run from sun up till past sundown. We'll wake up to the daily grind and the leftover chaos of this long day. Fortunately, every day begins with the new mercy of morning.

Friday, September 07, 2007

When Summer Comes

I have been given permission by Tater to publish this poem on my blog with a disclaimer that the readers be made aware this is not his best work. It's just something he threw together. Mothers, however, may or may not agree with the disclaimer.

When Summer Comes
by Tater
When summer comes, its' warmth creeps across the world
consuming every-thing and peeps into holes.
When summer comes, you can taste it in the air,
and when it gets here, the wind flies through your hair.

Betta, almost

I'm feeling much betta today, but not completely. Definately not perky, but that's not a normal state of my being ever. I wish I had the luxury of staying close to home instead of running children to soccer practice. Sigh. Crossing my fingers that the acidophiles I'm popping will kick in right on time.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What's a person to do with such a plate full of things to prepare?
Get sick, of course.
I've had a sore throat, fever, nausea, and other unmentionables for three days now. I've decided to pop tylenol and buck up today after two days alternating between sweating like my bedroom is the Sahara and freezing like it's the Artic. Gonna see how things shake out today before I commit to a doctor's visit on the off chance any of my problems have to do with a certain nawstee protozoa entering the digestive tracts of many East Tennesseans.

In the meantime, I think Pooh Bear broke her tail bone at a friend's house yesterday and Tater figured out how to make his new haircut into a mowhawk. Marvelous.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I'm covered up! If anyone is bored and looking for something useful to do, you can find some work here at the Vyne house. I'm typing science questions, preparing school work for next week, and considering a syllabus for my September training course, while my dear husband empties the attic of boxes for me to go through. In those boxes are a million projects waiting to be assembled for The Good Shepherd class I begin teaching with children in two weeks. My living room is stacked and messy which always unsettles me. Do you feel undone when your home is out of order too? The opportunity to teach again makes it all worthwhile.