I Expected to Cry Last Night

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I long ago lost count of how many  graduations I’ve attended over the years. Suffice to say, I’ve been to a lot. There are the years of my own graduations and those of my friends – high school, college. Then we had students we worked with begin graduating. Then we went to seminary and another round began. Then Craig began teaching in a high school and the rest, as they say, is history.

I love the symbolism and significance of graduations, but, honestly, I don’t always love attending them. They can be long, tedious, and sappy. Sometimes you are forced to bear that burden on behalf of people you don’t even really know. Sometimes others are forced to bear it on your behalf. But the one we attended last night at Petra Academy, was both a joy and an honor. I can’t remember the last time I thought that after attending a graduation ceremony.

The speeches given by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian were excellent as was the faculty charge. I’m still kind of shaking my head at the wonder of it all and I’m tempted to ask the students who spoke if I can have copies of their speeches to share here. But I’ll respect their night of wonder and let it stay in my memory.

Even though I don’t know the eight students who walked across the stage and into the next phase of life last night very well, I expected to feel a bit overwhelmed by the nearness of this same experience to my own girls. Next year Maddie will make this trek, quickly followed by Chloe the year after. The older I get, the more freely the emotions show themselves in public, despite my best attempts to prevent them from doing so. But I didn’t cry last night and I’m still a little surprised by that.

I’m sure I won’t be able to say the same this time next year. Oh, 2016-2017, you are coming way too quickly. There’s someone in my house who is totally ready for you. That someone is not me.

 

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Change. It’s Coming.

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It’s May 22 and schools across our newsfeeds are wrapping things up. We still have two weeks left and when I learned the Bozeman schedule last year I thought I wouldn’t love that this year, but now that we’re in the middle of it, I’m totally fine with things. Ask my kids, though… *grin*

Seriously, I think they are as well. Katie and I dashed out to Cold Smoke today so she could get a jump start on making finals study guides and I wanted to do some more digital work which I can do anywhere there’s a signal, so here we are. I have the perfect cup of English Breakfast tea and I’m working my way through blog entries from August of 2007, editing, cleaning, purging. It feels good.

The one big change this summer, other than the obvious one of school letting out on June 3 and, well, we’re in Bozeman, is that I’m working outside the home and that has never been our family scenario before. We Actually had a accident in the house the same day and called our window replacement CT to help repair the damage. And while I enjoy my job and I’m grateful for it, I’m already feeling a loss over what the summer could be and what it likely won’t because I’ll be out of the picture for 30 hours/week.

That said, I think we’re all experiencing a bit of a stage-of-life adjustment. Maddie and Chloe will be giving five weeks of their summer to Eagle Lake Camp and the closer we get to that, the more second-guessing I’m starting to do. My second guessing has nothing to do with trusting the camp (I do) or trusting my kids (I do) and everything to do with me missing them this summer.

This is the way things are moving and I know it’s normal and natural and still, it’s a process that has to be adjusted to. Millie and I were taking a walk around our neighborhood pond last night and she confessed to feeling it too. She mentioned that it feels like the older two would rather spend more time away from home than in it.

To be clear, we’re still some of the tightest parents around and our girls are home quite a bit. And we are one of the last families on the planet to hold to a physical and digital curfew. But Maddie is 17 now and will be a senior in high school next year. Chloe will be 16 in August and a junior in high school next year. I get the pull to start branching out. I remember feeling it myself when I was in high school.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel that pull. Being stretched is painful, even if it’s necessary.

So I’m thinking ahead to the three weeks we have with all six of us home at the beginning of the summer, and the three weeks we will have with all six of us at home at the very end of the summer and I’m going to make the most of them. We may never have another summer that gives us six weeks together again.

A Written Scrapbook

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I’m experiencing a bit of a blog homecoming, if you will. Knowing that my hosting fee was due for renewal this month, but not wanting to pay it again since I haven’t been doing ANY paid blogging lately and very little personal blogging, I decided to just bring it all back over to a wordpress.com site. In the process of transferring 10+ years’ worth of content, though, I remembered why I started blogging in the first place. I have right here a written history. There are gaps, yes, but there are a lot of sweet family memories that I want to save…and add to.

So I’m doing an overhaul. It will take time to get it all cleaned up the way I want it to be, but I’m back in one spot and I think I’ve come full circle on what this space was initially intended to be for me, for my family.

As such, I’d like to introduce you to Andrew Carneige. He looks kind of jolly in the eyes, much like a certain 12yo girl who lives in my house. Today was our school’s 3rd-6th grade History Fair and it was fun to see all of the hard work of all the kids and to also hear some of the history of their friends here. We participated in other versions of school events, but not exactly like this. I’m glad Millie was able to get in on the end of it before joining the ranks next year of the upper school.

Bozeman kids go to school clear through the first week of June which is a bit of an adjustment for us, but since the weather is still generally pretty cool, I understand it. We will have three full months off and not begin again until after Labor Day in September. And we’re really looking forward to all that the next three months will bring here.

Indeed, Bozeman is a beautiful place. God has done much to redeem what was broken. I think we very well might be experiencing a time of relational jubilee. For that, I am grateful. Exceedingly.

 

On the Eve of my 42nd Birthday

You know those memory flashbacks that Facebook is so fond of posting, giving us the choice as to whether or not we want to remind others of what happened on that day 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years ago? So this one came up for me today: On the eve of my 40th birthday. Sometimes I’m hesitant to look at the memories of the past because…they hurt too much. And yet I don’t hide that option from my timeline. I’m trying very hard to look back and deal with, if not make sense of, the past couple of years of life. I haven’t wanted to feel the hurt there. There is a major part of me that thinks that feeling the hurt is the same thing as letting bitterness take root. And I want to be very clear – they can be co-mingled for sure, but they are not necessarily the same thing.

And I’m finding a bit of release in embracing the fact that I can still hurt over very real relational wounds without being bitter. I’m allowing myself to feel things a bit more and that means more tears, darn it, but so be it.

I was reading again in the Psalms this week and read this from Psalm 15:

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

I think I understood something that day. From January through the end of May we were not allowed to speak of what happened. I really wanted to. I REALLY wanted to come June. I didn’t. But there has always been this thought inside me that one of these days I will. I’ll write out the whole thing from our perspective just so there’s a fair representation of what happened. I’ve been waiting for some untold amount of time to pass so I can finally unleash it all.

And yet. He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend…that is the one who will sojourn in the tent of the Lord, dwell in His holy hill.

I got the message that day. There are some hurts that may linger for a lifetime. There are some stories never meant to be shared. God hears and that’s enough. It has to be.

So on the eve of this 42nd birthday, while I’m storing a prepped turkey in the front seat of the car in the garage here in Bozeman, Montana, I’m remembering an evening of sweet girls making pies and taking silly photos and watching a Christmas movie and then eating one of the pies and I’m grateful for this space of our lives. We’re in a good place. Educationally, we’re in a better place. Spiritually we’re working towards the same in our hearts. And I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for parents who stayed together through the good and the horrible. I’m thankful for a 4-year period of time where I could live close enough to them to be involved in my mom’s care during her last years. I’m thankful for fourteen little ones who softened our hearts in a fresh way over and over and over. I’m thankful…for the winter here (because if I say that one enough it has to come true, right? Where’s my sweater…)

I’m thankful for the hope of selling our OKC house soon. I’m thankful for the new relationships God is building into our lives. I’m thankful for a warm house here. I’m thankful for hope, for hope is sometimes all I have.

There was once a time when hard things happened in our life and I lost my way. I’m thankful God led me through that wilderness into a place of trust again. And trust in such a way that this time, though I’ve been wandering again for a while, I have not been lost.

And, in fact, I have a pretty clear view of where I’m heading.

And I’m grateful. Tears and all.

Happy Thanksgiving

 

Sorry!

Katie’s weekly participation in a reading clinic through the University of Oklahoma came to a close tonight with a Reader’s Theater presentation and a parent/teacher conference. At first it was just going to be me attending like I do every Monday, but then Millie decided to come. I thought we’d have some lag-time, so we brought Sorry! with us. As it turned out, due to a series of unfortunate traffic issues, I was unable to get Maddie and Chloe to their speech & debate club on time, so they ended up having to skip that and go with us to the Reader’s Theater. I think they wanted to support Katie anyway. Also, it turned out that there was no lag-time and I didn’t get to play. But I was glad we brought the game because while I was in the parent/teacher conference, the other girls did play. So. Good decision there.

Also, I think it’s all kinds of awesome that the last time my kids played they filled in the missing pieces with colored counting bears. It ended up being perfect because we have colored counting bears in all the Sorry! colors and there’s just something special about getting put back to start by a a snarky smiling bear.

 

Megan Goes to School

I was asked to come to A5’s school today. Before today, I’ve been called by the teacher multiple times so she could inform me of some of his behavior issues in the class. I’ve been making excuses for him for weeks, while simultaneously trying to teach him of the need to listen to and respect his teacher. So after talking to the teacher today she felt everyone would benefit if I sat in on the class for a bit. I agreed and headed over to the school.

I would love to say glowing things about what I saw at the school. Indeed, for my long-standing philosophical critique of the public school system in general, I’ve done my darndest best to be supportive here because this is what we’ve got to work with. But after sitting on the class today, I can tell you without a doubt that had it been any of my four biological kids, I would have snatched them up, walked out, and never looked back.

I was simply appalled by what took place in the classroom simply from a classroom management point of view. Namely, there was none. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a classroom full of 5-year-olds will feed off each other, particularly when there is no expectation of good behavior or teacher respect present at all. I’m not a fan of teaching kids that it’s okay to follow the pack, but I do understand it when it happens. And for as frustrated as I’ve been with A5 for his reported behavior in the class these past few weeks, after today I completely understood it. Every kid in the class acts that way.

So, I’m not sure what our options are here, but I’m definitely on the hunt to find out. Hello, charter schools? You are about to hear from me. A lot.

Barrels Out of Bond

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The 5th graders are presenting on various chapters of The Hobbit this week and also having a Durin’s Day Festival. Katie was given first pick and chose another chapter, but upon seeing the disappointment in another kid, she gave it up and ended up with last pick. She got Barrels Out of Bond. In the end, she was pretty happy with the new pick. And I’m pretty happy with her selflessness in giving up her first choice, though she does stuff like that so often that other kids now sort of expect her to and I’m afraid she’s setting herself up to get taken advantage of in the future.

Ah, that fine line between serving and being manipulated. It’s a tricky one, no? At any rate, her board looks great. We popped over to the school today and set it up so I wouldn’t have to help her with it tomorrow morning. Because I’m all selfless like that. *wink*

Narnia’s White Witch

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The last time Maddie was in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she played the part of a ghoul. This time she was the White Witch and a darn good one, at that. Chloe was also in the show as both a unicorn and an elf. Both ladies did a fantastic job.

And I didn’t bring my camera. Wah. Here’s hoping some other parents got some decent shots tonight!

Happy Halloween!

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We are *just about* to age out of this stage, and that makes me a tad sad. But as long as we have school plays we have the need for mandatory costumes and if we have costumes anyway… So here we have:

Chloe, dressed as the elf in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Incidentally, she is also a unicorn and a woodland something or other. I only had to deal with the elf and unicorn costumes.

Millie, dressed as a bunny, also made for her participation in the school Narnia Festival earlier this year.

Maddie, dressed as the White Witch for the upcoming play

Katie, dressed as a mime. She has no particular reason for this other than that I felt sorry for her that she’s cobbled together costumes for the past couple of years from our dress up stash and really wanted to be something different this year. The beret cost a whopping $5 from Walmart and the face paint was cheap as well. Presto. Costume.

A5 and R4 were not with us tonight and Baby T slept through all the festivities.

So that’s a wrap on Halloween 2013. Hope yours was a happy one.