Finding God in the transition

So we’re in a bit of a transition around here. We put our house on the market last May and have been on the moving tidal wave ever since. Up down, up down, down a bit more, crash. Pick yourself up and repeat the cycle all over again. Eye roll.

There have been so many beautifully sweet lessons during this time I can’t begin to remember them all. But over the next few weeks I have a handful of moving inspired posts to share, I hope you’ll find a healthy take away from my troubles.  Or at least find the humor in this big fat cardboard box headache.

So the main reason we’re moving is that we’re a family of 6 living in 1300 square feet of cute little house. Did you catch that LITTLE part of that discription?

Jory and I have been avoiding this conversation for years, tried to make it work for years. We like small. Small is efficient. And easy to keep clean. And find things. Minimal living. That’s us. We’re happy with less. Really.

But this year homeschooling 3 students on my side of the master bedroom – an area that’s about 6 x 8. Computers, textbooks, chairs, desks, and people. Use your imagination. Eye roll.  

We did it, it worked. But it was horrible. The kind of horrible that makes you take a real look at life and say is this worth it? What is my priority here, educating the kids or making the house work for just a bit longer?

Sounds a bit silly when I say it out loud.  Why would I put my house above my children?

But the whole transition to a new house thing has really been so much more personal than simply saying “we’re moving because our house is small”. If that’s the only reason I had for the transition, then I probably would have given up a long time ago. Not sure the process is worth it just to get more space. Not for me anyway. This house isn’t that bad.

So stick with me over the next few days as we unpack all the stories and take aways from the move across town that I’m affectionately calling “it’s not because my house is too small”.



So things have been a bit quiet around here this year. It's not you, I swear, it's me.

You've heard it before. I know.

But my little word lovin heart has been pulled in so many different directions that it's unreal.

So most of my facebook people know that I've taken this spring to finish the book that I started about 18 months ago. A book that I say I wrote for my oldest son, but really I was just playing. Watching a story unfold beneath my eye lids and putting into words what I saw, all while praying that I actually made sense.

If you're a writer you know what I'm talking about. If not. Uh... Sorry? Writing fiction does weird things to your head. No joke.

But my story is done! Done I tell you. Until I find an editor to shred it to pieces that is. Over the next few weeks I thought maybe I'd talk a bit about this crazy adventure I've been on. But for now, here's the synopsis of the story I wrote.

Tobias's world is turned upside down when Shiloh shows up on his family farm. She has come seeking shelter after her home was attacked and destroyed by a roaming mob of Underlanders, leaving her alone and afraid. 
When the mob catches up with her, they are both forced to leave Tobias's family and flee to the relative safety of the New Haven Academy in search of someone who can help them find safety with other members of the Favored tribe. 
But life at the academy is far from the safe haven they were seeking. Insane professors with bizarre teaching tactics and overly protective monitors both threaten the thin veneer of safety they thought they had found when they entered the academy.  If that wasn’t enough, Shiloh and Tobias must keep their cool in the face of bullying and deep seated discrimination.  All of these factors work together to divide both students and staff, distracting them from the work the Overseer has for them.
Tobias and his friends must learn the skills necessary to take care of themselves and recognize the almighty Overseer's guidance. They must figure out who they can trust to help them find their way before the unthinkable occurs.

Sound good? I can't wait for you to read it.


12 years old

Dear Alex
So 12 years snuck up on me. 12 years means 7th grade. Junior high. Eek. A big adjustment that every family goes through. It doesn’t affect us the way it affects your non-homeschooled friends, but it still affects us. And by us I mean ME.
So 12. There are a few things I want to remember about you as you approach this milestone. The first thing, sort of a long story, but one that is so telling of your personality this summer. So I’ma tell it anyway
I snapped at you last week when your swimming coach had her hands full and you were completely oblivious. Which, don’t get me wrong, is totally normal for someone your age to not notice. But you notice these things. You always see it when someone else needs a hand and spring forward to save the day without any prompting from anyone.
Which is why I had to laugh at myself for getting mad at you at the pool that afternoon. Sorry bout that.
And for the record, when I pointed out the problem you did jump up and ask Coach Kelly what you could do.
The second thing I want to remember about you from this year isn’t exactly summer related. It’s school. I try really hard to emphasis the joy of learning and not the glorify the fact that you’re a bit of an overachiever. I’m a bit of a stickler about not comparing ourselves to other learners. It’s never a good idea to think that you’re better at something than someone else. Which is why I like that you’re in a class of 1.
That said.  This year with school we did something new. In August I handed you an entire years worth of curriculum and said “do it.” And that was all you needed as far as direction. You set your own pacing schedule, and organized all your own documents. You planned and organized the whole stinking thing without a bit of help from me. Which is so awesome. But the part of this story that surprised even me is how driven you were to keep yourself on track. Not only did you finish the entire years curriculum a month early, but you dug in and completed some of next year’s curriculum just for fun.
And yes, I did have to tell you to cool it more than once when you wanted to work on your lessons and I needed you elsewhere. Sorry bout that.
So to my just turned 12 year old boy. You rock. We love you. You’re fun to have around. And it thrills my heart that you seek out your dad and me for advice and companionship.
But you give the worst massages ever. EVER.
Yeah. You know what I’m talking about. Stinker.


The big D (disabled, that is)

When we adopted two years ago we thought we were taking on a (mostly) healthy seven year old, who was only a bit vertically challenged. As in, he might look like a five year old, but his behavior and cognitive function were mostly on target for his age range, if you give him a bit of extra leeway to account for his traumatic social history.

The last two years have been a humbling process as we have been handed diagnosis after diagnosis telling us what was evident right after we took custody. That our little guy wasn’t nearly as healthy or mentally stable as the Russian paperwork made him sound.
You’d think it would get easier after a spell, that you’d develop a thicker skin each time you accept a new name for a set of personality quirks; a label that helps professionals know how to approach your child. A special set of words that opens doors to extra assistance because your kid is qualified.
But it doesn’t. 
Each one comes like a swift kick in the gut. A chink in your armor. And the latest one isn’t any different.
Our paperwork is back, the board of disabilities has taken my son into their database. My son is officially disabled.
It is so easy to park myself on that word. To feel overwhelmed by its implications. To be not quite ready to call myself the parent of a disabled child (even though I embraced the roll a long time ago). To be emotionally blinded by a label that doesn’t change my child in the slightest bit.
And how weird it is that the only thing that this emotionally charged label really changes is how my son’s needs impact our finances. How many services that used to cost us money will now be provided free of charge because he owns a different word. A word that makes him qualified for government assistance.
Disabled. Such a bittersweet word.


I think I'll sing anyway

So, we’re moving. Or at least we’re trying to move. You know how that goes. The highs and lows of negotiating with people who may or may not be trying to do what’s honorable.   Mix that with a whole lot of helplessness  while you wait on imperfect people. It’s pretty much a powder keg of stress and emotion. Especially the first time you do it.

One of those things that makes me wonder if moving a mile up the road to a bigger house as an act of obedience is really what God wants or if I’m just plain crazy because this house really isn’t that bad.   
So here I am in my not-so-happy little powder keg using all the stuff God has taught me about keeping my head every time the inevitable disaster hits. And I’m mostly fine. Not caring about the hills and valleys, not caring about how people respond, only caring about my own obedience.

Then yesterday we got a triple whammy of losing a contract on this house, losing a sure bet on another house, and a septic guy telling me I need to spend $500 to put ugly markers all over my yard – right in a high traffic area where people are going to trip on them.
Yeah. It was a good day.

Eye roll.
So my head and my heart had a little disagreement. It sounded something like this.

Heart: wahhhhhhhh!
Head: Stop being a crybaby. You’re fine.

Heart: Did you hear me? I said WAHHH!
Head: I think it’s time to sing.

Heart: I don’t like singing. I only like crying.
Head: La la la. I can’t hear you. I’m singing. You should try it. You’ll feel better.

Ok, so the illustration was a bit on the comical side. But I hope you can hear what I’m saying. My head and my heart are not always on the same page. My head knows the truth, logic and reason. My heart only knows emotion -happy or sad.  And there are so many times that my crybaby heart ruins my day because it will just not listen to the voice of reason.
So yesterday when I was driving around, tired of listening to my crybaby heart that wouldn’t shut up I decided to sing. Out loud. Louder than my heart was crying. I totally pulled the “la, la, la, I can’t hear you” card on myself.  

And it totally worked. My heart tried to shout over the singing for a while, until it realized it wasn’t doing any good because my brain was too busy trying to remember what words were next in the song to listen.  And finally it gave up and started singing too.


Standardized testing. It's like, whatever.

It’s testing season. Even though most of my children are homeschooled, they still take the same statewide assessments that all Ohio children take. So the last two months have seen a lot of practicing, reviewing and stressing about filling in tiny little circles.

I have one cracker jack learner who picks up whatever you throw at him without even trying. Completely independent, needs nothing from me as a teacher. That kid could pass the test with one arm tied behind his back, hopping up and down, and blindfolded.

But then I have two beautiful students who are absolutely miserable at math. Two girls who think “who needs to add when you can read. Or write. Or create something from raw materials.” Bless their hearts, they’re just like their Mama, who had a good reason for marrying an accountant. Love you babe.

Anyway. High stakes testing on a subject we dislike. And a Mama who struggles with having a good attitude towards curriculum that teaches differently than she learned, and doesn’t always make sense the first time she reads it.

Yep. Stress.

I know standardized tests are a hot topic. I know curriculum standards are a hot topic. I am one of the quiet few who does think that standard curriculum and evaluations are a good thing.

Even as the parent of a special kid who will never be able to pass standardized tests, I still think my other children should strive for the same mark as every other kid in America.

So no, this isn’t going to turn into one more Common Core bashing post. Because if I don’t like the way the lesson is presented I do have the right, as the teacher, to tell my students to nod and smile politely and then completely throw the entire lesson out the window and do what makes sense. (Which I think I’ve done once or twice).


Because that’s the beauty of homeschooling for one thing. And for another, we as a family chose not to define ourselves by state tests, or just about any other set of results that assesses the work of our hands.

We work hard. We learn what we can. We put our best work out. But once it’s out of our hands we stop caring.

We are children of God. Not people who can (or can’t) pass tests. We care about improving our character. Not impressing people who live far away. Or close by for that matter.

So on our last day of testing we’ll nod and smile because someone somewhere cares about the list of numbers and statistics our tests produced. And then we’ll go back to developing the things that really matter to us. Character. Creativity. Community.

And we’ll say take that OAA.


(nearly) wordless wednesday

frozen Marblehead
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