Resetting

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It’s reset time here at the Dunham house. I wrote more about it over here. Excuse me while I go check something else off my list…

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After years of bad vacation experiences, our family broke its losing streak last week: We drove to Florida, seeing friends and spending five relaxing and enjoyable days at the ocean. It was a great trip for many reasons, not the least of which was the break from the tyranny of the urgent. We rested, we relaxed, we renewed. Most importantly, we reset.

I’m all about the family reset button. Certain seasons of the year just spiral way out of control and we need someone to push the reset button to get things back to the way they should be. Though technically still summer, I feel like we’re better prepared for the fall than we otherwise would have been had we just kept barreling headfirst toward August with our heads down and our collective breath sucked in. We needed the break.

I do have a problem with my reset button, though. It is usually eight parts mental and two parts practical. This time I asked Craig to help me with the reset. Craig is a systems guy. He not only makes plans, he sticks to them. He is the very picture of functionality. I am more the picture of flippancy.

I’m very systems-challenged, but it isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve tried organizers; I’ve got a whole shelf of time-management books; I’ve bookmarked similar websites; I’ve got a stack of planners I’ve both bought and printed myself. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. I just can’t keep going with anything (hence the need for the more than occasional reset).

In lieu of fancy planners or software programs this year (I’ve tried those, too), I’m going old school in keeping a hand-written to-do list on a homemade “white board” (actually an old window frame with cute fabric placed behind the glass panels). The white board (or “window board,” as I’m calling it) is hanging on the wall in my kitchen above my computer—ever present and (hopefully) ever motivating. I have eight squares in which to narrow down the categories of my life: home, office, school, personal, writing, seminary, and crafts. (Yes, for those counting, I have one square unclaimed, which Craig suggests I leave open so I always have one open. It’s a margin thing, he says.)

So the reset is on, but I’m nervous. I know my tendency to start strong but soon fizzle. So I’ll rest in Lamentations 3:22-23, which says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” That should be about all the reset I really need.

Because Nothing Says “Atlanta” Like Chick-Fil-A

While searching for a place to eat lunch in Atlanta this afternoon, I asked Craig if Atlanta was known for any particular type of food (you know, like Chicago and pizza…or anything else). He immediately answered: “Chick-Fil-A.” Of course.

Atlanta

Also, nothing says “Atlanta” quite like a pseudo-magician pulling scarves out of your “sleeve” in front of a fountain downtown at Centennial Olympic Park:

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And nothing says “Atlanta” like a trip to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, which you got into for free with your reciprocal museum pass to The Magic House in St. Louis (but which you almost didn’t because you left your museum pass on the refrigerator in St. Louis). Lucky for us Craig isn’t phone-phobic, and a couple of phone calls later we were on our way. (FYI: It would have been so disappointing had we had to pay for it. The people were nice, but The Magic House puts it to shame.)

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And finally, nothing says “Atlanta” like a pet goat. What? Okay, so we’re not in Atlanta anymore, but staying at the home of my best friend from high school and her family in the middle of Tennessee. And this goat (Royal) belongs to them. We’re having a lovely time.

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We have 5.5 hours to go before officially clocking the first Dunham family vacation with no major “episodes.” It’s been a good one. We think we’re ready to return now.

Fun, Interrupted

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I know there are those of you who are just dying for things to go wrong on this trip. Shame on you! But to appease your sadistic desires, I will let you know that the first night we were here Chloe made it very apparent she was in need, not for the healing powers of the ocean, but the Children’s Medical Center:

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While the other four members of our family actually saw dolphins in the ocean that morning, Chloe and I got better acquainted with the blue walls of the waiting room where we were kept for 90 minutes. Never fear, though: I keep a card game in my Mary Poppins bag, so we became experts at Zigity.

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And then another 30 minutes at the local Walgreens:

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After that, we were back to normal again, doing what we’ve been doing all week – swimming for the girls and Craig…

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…sitting, staring, and reading for me:

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I have actually gotten in the water up to my knees everyday, and yesterday even took the plunge and got in all the way. I found a decently sized seashell when I was in the ocean, but upon showing it to Millie, was knocked over by a wave and lost it again. Sad. I really wanted to find one super cool shell on my own. As it is, we’ve found about 1,000 of the regular kind of shells. Still, it’s fun.

Our condo is nice and we’re very grateful to the people who are letting us stay here this week. Apart from the 70ish self-appointed condo policewoman intent on issuing us some kind of personal grudge citation for bringing children into her retirement haven, hanging towels and swimsuits to dry on the deck railing (we got in trouble twice in five minutes by two people for this one), and hanging towels over the pool fence, it’s all been good.

Yesterday, we were shown around some of the “Old Florida” area by Ken and Dorothy, friends of the people who own our condo and aunt and uncle of Monica’s husband, David:

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And from there it was back to more of the same:

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Today, we expect to repeat this scenario minus the doctor’s office and Florida-tour several more times.

PS: Chloe feels much better now and we’re trying to obey the rules from the condo police. We don’t want to spoil the reputation of the people letting us stay here this week, but I’m telling you, the verbal restraint required to be polite is taking something out of me. Could be the reason I slept 10 hours last night… *grin*

Calling It For What It is

So my post for WORLDMag today? It could get me in trouble with area homeschoolers. But I don’t think any of them read my blog, so it’s all good.

Right?

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In the region where I live, there is a hot-topic homeschooling case going on in the courts and in the news. The case involves a homeschooling couple going through a divorce after 21 years of marriage. Though at its heart is divorce, homeschooling unfortunately has become the issue. It is a really sad scenario.

The mother asserts that the father was supportive of the educational status of his children . . . that is, until he filed for divorce and realized he would have to support two households if his soon-to-be ex-wife didn’t give up homeschooling and go back to work. The father asserts the mother is only homeschooling to meet her own emotional needs and he wants to put the children in a private school.

Clearly the two have issues. Sadly, however, their issues are taking a backseat to the very real fact that their two teenaged children have become the reason they’ve made their issues so very public. It appears right now that the court is going to side with the father.

I’m a member of two homeschooling email groups, and both of them are readying their respective troops to show up to protest what’s happening. As much as I love homeschooling my children and am prepared to do what it takes to protect my right to do so, I’m not sure this hill is one I’m ready to die on. What this case needs is mediation . . . prayer . . . reasoning together . . . understanding . . . cooperation . . . repentance. What it doesn’t need is a bunch of scared homeschoolers picketing on the courthouse lawn.

If you read the comments on this St. Louis Post Dispatch article, you’ll see just how polarized these discussions have become. Some would make this story their case in point for why homeschooling should be outlawed, drawing fierce response from the homeschool-at-all-costs-because-public-schools-produce-blithering-idiots crowd. Neither group will listen to the other’s perspective, and as a result, neither is helpful to the discussion.

There are two sides to every story (though in this case, there are probably four). Without having lived with that family for 21 years, we will not ever really know those sides. We do know they are in need not only of a fair judge in St. Charles County, Mo., but also the only One capable of healing all things broken.

This case shouldn’t be a homeschooling litmus test, regardless of which side of the issue one is on; it’s worst case for both sides, and worst cases aren’t what we should be comparing—best cases should be. For the parents, for the kids, for all of us, this is not it.

Summer, I Hardly Knew Ye

I know, I know, it sounds a tad bit dramatic. But seriously, WHERE DID OUR SUMMER GO? In my defense I really didn’t think I was over-planning the summer. Even still, here we are smack dab in the middle of July and I’m not sure what I have to show for it.

The girls are in VBS this week, and on Friday we leave for a family vacation to a Florida beach. The girls have never seen the ocean before and we plan to make the most of it…by staying firmly put right there on the beach. Some families may feel the need to go to that famous Mousetrap and spend a couple of month’s worth of income in doing so. Not us! No, we’re borrowing a friend’s beach umbrella and her sand toys and staying with two different families on the way out and two different families on the way back. The beach condo was arranged for us by our friend Monica and it, too, is free. (Thanks again, Monica!!). We just have to get there and get back.

Crossing our fingers on that one.

I have some serious plans to sit and stare. We will stand in the sand, splash, and select seashells. We will also read, play Bananagrams, and probably go see Up and Harry Potter while we are there (it is supposed to rain some next week, but we will not be deterred). I am seriously looking forward to this.

But when we get back… poof, the summer is basically over. Craig’s school starts back unbelievably early. I don’t think we will match him this year (we tried last year, but failed then, too). I need a solid week (maybe two) to get my planning in gear and prepare, so I’m thinking third week of August. Here’s hoping. But that’s just one month away. Wah.

Anyway, consider this my attempt at reminding myself I have a blog. You might rather wish I wouldn’t.

Catapult!

The other day Chloe was going off the diving board at the pool. She meant to yell “Cannonball!” as she jumped off (to make her big 50 pound splash) but instead yelled, “Catapult!”

It’s all about the launch anyway, right?

My friend Lisa said, “Only a homeschooler…”

The Mix Tape Chronicles

Once upon a time I gave a very simplified version of how Craig and I met, the year-of-which-we-still-don’t-speak-of (1994), and how it all resolved to what we now know as K-Bliss: all love, all the time (you bought that, right)?

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I left out this very significant aspect of that whole time – the courting through mix tape part.

Craig and I met in 1993 and became friends that summer. When I went back to Oklahoma State for my sophomore year that fall I was all giddy and stuff and I made him cookies. But I was poor and I mailed them parcel post. You see where this is going? The cookies didn’t arrive for some 12 days and when they did they were all hard and crumbly.

Nice.

He was made fun of mercilessly by the rest of the Eagle Lake team at that time, but he recovered well enough to make me a mix tape as a thank you for the cookies. And I assert that this very act is proof he HAD fallen for me already because who would spend the time to make a mix tape for a 19-year-old with bad postal judgment? Ahem.

Enter “Music for Megan” Volume 1:

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The playlist is as follows:

I’d Rather Have Jesus – Jacob’s Trouble
Nobody Like You – Billy Batstone
You Remain Unchanged – Margaret Becker
Listen To Our Hearts – Geoff Moore
Innocence Lost – Susan Ashton
Psalm 51 – Charlie Peacock
Where You There? – Russ Taff
Carry On (I Am The Lord) – Harvest
The Just Shall Live – Rich Mullins
No Condemnation – Truth
Amazing Grace – Steve Green
Follow Me – Steve Camp
In The Light – Charlie Peacock
Sweet Love – First Call
I Will Be With You – Margaret Becker
You Are So Faithful – Praise Band
My Redeemer Is Faithful And True – Steven Curtis Chapman
Waiting On Your Faithfulness – Craig Dunham
I Know – Shiloh
Learning To Trust – David Meece
More Power To Ya – Petra
Jesus Is Just Alright (Reprise) – DC Talk

I listened to this tape fifty bajillion times. I’m not even kidding. It was pretty much all I listened to that year.

Today I had this overwhelming urge to recreate the playlist on iTunes so I could again listen to it fifty bajillion times. These songs take me back to 1012 Drummond Hall in Stillwater, Oklahoma and my 92 red Chevy Cavalier (which made it all the way with us to St. Louis in 2005 where it died a quiet death in a Kirkwood auto shop parking lot).

I was pretty disheartened to find that some of these songs are not available on iTunes and, as far as I could tell, not available anywhere else either. I’m missing:

Nobody Like You – Billy Batstone
Carry On (I Am The Lord) – Harvest
You Are So Faithful – Praise Band (that’s gonna be easy – because that band is soooo recognizable)
Waiting On Your Faithfulness – Craig Dunham (sniff, sniff – only on a demo tape he recorded, never transferred to CD)
I Know – Shiloh

So when I want the true effect I’m going to have to hunt down a tape player. For now, though, this is close and I’m on my third time through the playlist.

Chloe came down while I was doing this and asked if she could listen to it. I said, “Sure,” thinking she had a tape player on her CD player upstairs. She left and immediately returned to say, “I can’t listen to it. I don’t have one of those things this thing goes on.” She didn’t know the words “cassette tape” or “cassette tape player”. Funny.

And thus began the pseudo-courtship of Craig and Megan. He wooed me through music. And I still have every tape.

PS – I just counted. Craig made me 7 tapes and I made him 6 between the years 1993-1996. That’s true love right there.

A Few Things

1) I have a post up on WORLDMag.com right now on marriage and the governor of South Carolina.

2) Craig’s home. Yay!

3) That bit about live interactions versus virtual ones? It is still happening and getting better. I have a couple of friends getting together on Tuesday nights to watch the Institute for Excellence in Writing Structure and Style DVDs. The videos last between 80-120 minutes each night, yet our time goes from 7-11. Because we talk and talk and talk until about 9 and eventually turn on the DVD to fulfill our “purpose”. Really? The video series is fantastic. But the fellowship is even better.

4) My Classical Conversations group is growing and growing and growing. I’m getting excited and nervous.

5) We’re going to the farm tomorrow night with some friends for a little pre-July 4th fun. We’ll come back to STL Saturday afternoon and this year I AM taking the girls to see some kind of display somewhere. Last year we didn’t do that and they really wanted to and even now I can’t remember why we decided not to do that, but I don’t think it would hurt anything to do it this year so I’ll figure it out.

6) That is all for now.

Happy 4th of July weekend!!

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What does the story of a philandering governor in South Carolina have to do with a simple homeschooling mom in Missouri? Not much unless you consider that this homeschooling mom is also a married woman and takes to heart stories of vows gone awry. My heart goes out to Jenny Sanford and their four boys. My heart goes out to families everywhere experiencing grief such as this.

It was in this recent recounting of the Sanford affair I read the following: “During an emotional interview at his Statehouse office with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sanford said Chapur is his soul mate, but he’s trying to fall back in love with his wife.”

I think that was the saddest thing I’ve read of this whole story. If the mistress is the true soul mate, what was the wife?

As I was driving to the store the other day, the Sanfords’ story came to mind again and I thought to myself, “Boy, am I glad Craig isn’t a politician.” And then I remembered the 2006 Ted Haggard scandal. This thought was immediately followed by, “Oh yes, and I’m also glad he isn’t a pastor.”

As if being a politician or a pastor are the only two professions in which otherwise happily married men are brought to public shame . . . as if men are the only ones to fall.

This isn’t a newsflash for any of you, but not a single one of us is immune from sexual sin—not the politician, not the pastor, not the Christian schoolteacher, not the conservative magazine writer, not the homeschooling mom—not a single one.

I can be smug in my almost 13 years of marriage feeling safe and immune, but this is foolish, as areas given the least attention tend to be the areas most prone to cracks. I’m reminded once again that I need to be the one praying for my husband, and together, we need to be praying for our marriage. Few others are going to do this for us (and isn’t it better to protect than to repair?).