Homeschooling

We had kind if an interesting year at school last year. Owen was identified and tested as gifted, which is thrilling-yet not, because we have no program in place at the school for gifted kids anymore. Funding, you know, and Butch Otter is a douchebag extraordinaire so no hope of GETTING any funding for the program and well. There were all sorts of suggestions for this we could do to help him at home, which yay! But then if we were supposed to be doing all of these things at home to enrich him, it wasn’t that far of a stretch to just decide to do ALL of it at home.

Then, for entirely different reasons, Sam was having trouble socially in school, which actually translates as “he came out as gay and life became hell.” As in, he was forced to quit the track team because no one wanted to run in front of a faggot, or be in the same locker room with one, and friends he has had since kindergarten stopped talking to him. Those kinds of problems, the ones that lots of adults turn a blind eye to because of their own personal beliefs.

Add to that the implementation of Common Core standards in Idaho and Steve and I just decided it was time. We had been doing school work over the summer, not a lot but just enough to keep them learning and interested, and both boys agreed that “trying” homeschooling would be ok.

Now, 6 weeks in, I have days where I think we made a great decision, and other days I am pretty sure that I am going to single-handedly ruin all of them. Which, according to other homeschooling moms I know, is completely normal. I have gotten a lot of information and have a ton of resources, we have joined a home school co-op, and let’s just say it is an adventure.

That’s one small portion of the catch-up phase of the blog; I promise, there won’t always be a back story, but a lot of things have changed in my life, our lives and it feels good to me to actually write about them, you know? It always just makes things more real to me, and it feels good to be back here writing.

So….

I had forgotten how much I hate (and suck at) coming up with titles. It’s like the absolute worst thing to ever have to do. Which has nothing to do with this post, just a little thought flitting through my head.

One of the things I did want to write about tonight, though, is that fact that I have four cigarettes left and am putting on a nicotine patch tonight. And I am nervous and afraid and yes, panicked. Because you know, smoking is an addiction and it’s so terrible and all that, which is true but ALSO because man, it’s my crutch. Bored? Smoke. Tired of waiting? Go have a smoke. Annoyed at the kids/spouse/dogs/mailman? Have a smoke. It’s like that six minutes of absolute heaven, where everything just sort of melts away. Really. If you have never smoked, you don’t get that, but it’s there for every smoker I know.

At any rate, my mom died unexpectedly and suddenly last August. Which is a whole other freaking SERIES of posts, but I am not ready for that yet. The only reason I bring it up now is that you know, she was 65, and that is really young, and I don’t want to die. There were lots of other issues with her, but she smoked 3 packs of smokes a day, y’all. Let’s just say it didn’t help.

At any rate, I have been working my way toward this point for the past year and two months. As in, I have been preparing myself to be ready to be finished smoking. And it sucks, yes, that it has taken this long, but it is what it is. So for the last two months I have been ACTIVELY getting ready to be done, things like substituting nicotine gum for cigarettes occasionally, visiting a smoking cessation website, consciously choosing to not light one. Little things, but they have finally brought me here.

It might seem like such a small thing, but really, if it does, you have never smoked. That’s all I can say. But, I don’t know, it’s just time. And it’s also no small thing, for me. And in all my life, writing things down is a way to make things real, plus it opens up a feeling of accountability. Not that anyone ELSE holds me accountable, it’s just that being open and honest about it helps ME be accountable.

So. Here’s to the last four smokes.

Dusting Off…Again

The last few days I have had reason to look through some old posts on this blog, and I realized how much I have missed it. I have been writing for pay, you know, such wonderful things as how to grow/harvest/dry marijuana, the average cost of cosmetic surgery, and even some really compelling stuff about rats and termites. Living the dream, you know. It’s not the same as writing here, though, and I miss the community, the friends, the day-to-day details of my life down in black and white.

I haven’t decided if I will continue on with this particular blog. After all, it chronicles so much of my earlier me, my single-momness and my craziness and so much freaking drama that I almost don’t recognize some of it. At the same time, though, who I am not is largely dependent on who I used to be, just (marginally) better. I guess the thing to do is just write, and listen to those little voices that tell me what to do next.

Question, though-Google reader is obsolete, right? so is there another reader I can use? I miss all my old blog friends, and I know not everyone is still around but I also know that blogging is not dead. Suggestions?

Frustration abounds these days. We got news that we were unexpectedly going to be closing on the house; not unexpected in the sense that we did not know we were buying it, but in that it was sooner than we thought. So we finished getting all of the paperwork gathered together and got ready for the appraiser to come in and then we waited. And waited. Finally talked to the Realtor yesterday and the appraisal came back low. Like, significantly lower than we had anticipated and much lower than the asking price of the house. This would be good for us, obviously, except….yes. Except. There are also a couple of cosmetic issues with the house that need addressed before we can close.

Now we are waiting again, to see if the seller is willing to come down in price. Which we believe she is, but what we are not sure of is whether her bank will be okay with it. Don’t know how much she still owes on it, you see, and for some reason she didn’t know either. We are supposed to hear by tomorrow, which really means by next week sometime, so it’s more waiting. A flurry of activity, followed by waiting, isn’t that always how it works?

The good thing is that we are already approved for a loan in the amount of the asking price of this house. So, worst case scenario  we start looking for another one.  The thing is, I want this house. We chose this house, have been leasing it with an intent to purchase agreement, and I would be so sad if we have to find a different one. We have made this our home, you know? Besides the fact that we love it, I will be pissed as hell if we basically lose all of the money we have invested in it already. Not in terms of things we have done, we have been prohibited from doing anything permanent until we close, but just in living here. We have been making the seller’s house payment, with a percentage going toward the down payment, which  we have down to less than $1,000 now, and all that will be gone and we would have to start over somewhere else. Yes, it can be done. We have made a lot of sacrifices to get this far and we can continue to do it in a different place, but of course that isn’t the point.

So I am trying to keep busy with work, which I had put on hold because there was all this stuff to take care of, and with the garden (that I hope I will get to see come to fruition!), and the lawn, and I sit and wait. And hope.

It’s only Saturday but I can already say it has been a good weekend. We had Steve’s parents over for dinner tonight, which we have never done. Oh, they have been here for birthday parties and such, but never just for dinner with us-it was really nice. His mom and I were in the kitchen washing the dishes after dinner, talking away, and I was struck by how much things have changed in the years since I first met her. I can say with certainty that a lot of the changes have come about since Steve and I got married; because of their religious beliefs, it almost didn’t count until we actually had the ceremony, and while I can still get all butt hurt about the lack of support I got prior to the wedding, it was what it was.

However, it is much more than that. So much of it has to do with the fact that I have changed in the past years. We all know I have problems-MAJOR problems-getting close to people or allowing them to get close to me, and the simple fact that I have been making a conscious effort with her has probably made the most difference. I think back to different times in the past where I felt like they were not being very helpful or supportive, and at times that burden is theirs to carry. Other times, though, I realize that help would have been there had I simply asked. Wow. Novel idea, and one this recovering alcoholic should know by now! I think we are finally getting to the point where we are friends. She had a small emergency of a personal nature a couple of weeks ago, and felt like she could call me for help; it might seem silly, but it meant the world to me. Tonight, I was able to be honest with her about something personal I have been struggling with, and she totally GOT it. This is huge, and something to be grateful for.

It wasn’t just their visit for dinner that was good, though. Last night I got to talk to someone I haven’t spoken to for any length of time in months. I was thinking about her and instead of just thinking about her, I called her; such a small thing, but not. It was so great to touch bases with someone I love, and know that even though months have gone by, we are still friends. No bullshit, no drama, just like we spoke yesterday.

We worked like mad around the house today, not because we were having company but because it was time. Steve had today AND has tomorrow off, so we did all these projects that we have been putting off. Including the first lawn mowing of the season, and finally getting the downstairs bathroom shower working again. This is heaven-I have gotten used to not sharing a bathroom with the boys, so to have the adult bathroom back again is going to be great. It felt like we got a lot accomplished, and I love that feeling.

And now I am up working, with everyone else all nestled into bed. I prefer getting up early, but it was so nice to sleep in with Steve this morning! We have more projects tomorrow-tilling the garden spot and getting my raspberries planted, and whatever else might come up. It’s a good day, and I feel happy.

There really isn’t anything I can say about the explosions at the Boston Marathon that hasn’t already been said, and better, by thousands of other people. I am not ashamed to admit that we haven’t even been following the news coverage beyond the initial reports; it is too horrible and graphic a subject for me to comfortable allow my children to see, or at least Owen and Josie. Sam is on Facebook-he already saw the carnage wrought. Me, well. I saw a couple of pictures, read a couple of stories, and that was that. Not because I don’t care-the opposite is true. It just gets to be too much.

The last little while has been full of heartbreak. A young man in our small little town hung himself in his garage last week, a seventeen year old who had just…had enough. I did not know him personally, although I know his dad. A couple of years ago his mom died after a non-complicated knee surgery; she worked at the elementary school as long as my kids have gone to school here. The boy’s father was the principal of the alternative high school and was instrumental in getting Hannah into school and graduated after she got pregnant and had Aubry. There is also another son who is Hannah’s age, and really, all I can think is that in the span of less than three years, their family has been diminished by half. Sam says he was a really good kid, a nice kid. A good, nice kid who was picked on and bullied every.single.day. I sometimes kind of roll my eyes mentally about all of the anti-bullying stuff on the news and whatnot, but then I think of my own high school years, of my children, of this young man, and I think that whether we roll our eyes on occasion or not, this kind of stuff has to stop.

The thing about it is this: kids don’t care. The only people who really care are the adults, and there is so little we can do. I say this because the day after this boy died, Sam was being picked on horribly by someone for wanting to try out for the cheer-leading team. I believe the words faggot and pussy both were thrown around, and it just infuriates me. Of course because he is my son, but on a much larger scale. Hmm, let’s see, let’s go to this assembly where the topic is suicide and bullying, and let’s listen to the counselors talk about how important it is to respect other people simply because they are people….and then let’s see if we can tear someone ELSE down.

I cannot say, and surely no one can, whether or not bullying was the CAUSE of the suicide. He had a lot of horrible things happen in a relatively short period of time, but being bullied surely did not help.

And now this in Boston, and the headlines in our local paper about three different people who were just convicted of horrible sex crimes against children, and the newborn baby that was found floating in a pond wherever that was, and the little boy I saw slapped by his mother…all of these things large and small just serve to break my heart today.

 

astonishment

Sam and I were confirmed in the Episcopal Church yesterday morning. It was quite the occasion-it coincided with the Bishop of Idaho’s annual visit, so we were able to be confirmed by him directly. It would have been just valid had the priest done the confirmation, but it added something extra special to it to have Bishop Brian do it. Sam is an Acolyte as well, so he had the extra privilege of helping the Bishop with Communion-pretty amazing for a 13-year-old boy.

It has been a journey for both of use, getting to this place where we both wanted to make a commitment to this church, or any church. Our past experiences have made us a little hesitant to ascribe to any particular religion. Also, for Sam, the desire to please Steve and make him proud has created an additional struggle for him; Steve is Mormon, and I think Sam has worried that Steve would be happier if Sam chose to embrace the LDS religion. Maybe that is true, inasmuch as we all want our children to believe in the same things we do, but still-I think Sam was worried needlessly.

Not that it matters in the long run. I am so grateful that each one of my children gets to have their own experience with religion. We talk about God, and each of them has experienced different religions, and each, in time, has come to their own decisions. I have a non-believer, a believer who doesn’t at this time identify with ANY religion, and an Episcopalian. My husband is a Mormon who believes very strongly in his own church, but is willing to acknowledge that it is not right for everyone. What an amazing, wonderful mix we have!

For me, though, this is intensely personal, this decision. I have been attending this church and doing some studying on my own and what it all boils down to for me is love. We are commanded to love one another, period. Regardless of race, religion, economic status, sexuality, ANYTHING, we are supposed to love. Although it is a struggle sometimes, because I like to judge my neighbor just as much as the next person, I know that I am supposed to love people in the way that Christ loves me-that is, wholly and completely, simply because they ARE.

You have to love a Bishop who quotes Mary Oliver. After our brunch yesterday (where he had all of the children-coincidentally, most of them are mine or have some connection to me, which I think is a big part of why we have been so embraced and loved here-fresh blood, you know?-climbing all over him and shrieking during the meal and he would just smile indulgently), he gave a little speech and then said that all of Christianity can be summed up in these words by Mary Oliver: Pay attention.Be astonished.Tell about it.

So I will tell you this. I am astonished every day, by the beauty that shines through no matter how horrible things can feel. I know that when I pay attention to everything that is around me, I am astonished by how often grace is bestowed me, how merciful my God is. And I am trying to learn how to tell about it, without fear. this is my life, and I AM astonished.