Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Home Sweet Home!

Bearing Witness to Blessing Part 6

We finally closed on our farm today.  January 11, 2011.  It was almost fun to sign and date all those forms with 1/11/11.  It's the little things really. We completed all the paper work in less than an hour. It's funny that we've been waiting almost two weeks to complete what only took 45 minutes.  I told the lawyer that after all the waiting and hounding, this event was kind of a let down.  To celebrate the closing, we decided to visit the farm for the first time as a family.  The kids and I had seen the house, R had seen the house but we'd never been there all together.  It was fun to explore every nook and cranny knowing that it was ours and we'd have plenty more time to explore.  We also had a wonderful Nerf battle.  An empty house is perfect for Nerf war.

The joy of our new home was tempered with some really nasty weather.  The snow began falling late this morning and has continued most of the day and evening.  What was a slow trip at 6pm became an almost impossible return trip at 8pm.  It was sobering to realize that I probably won't be doing much running around when the weather is poor.  My front wheel drive van is extremely handicapped when it comes to climbing hills in the snow.  Since we live in a valley, the first part of any journey involves climbing a  hill. 

Another interesting thing is that the seller of our home left quite a bit of stuff in the house.  There are drawers and cabinets full of various items, glasses, plates, silverware, and cleaning products.  An entire living room set was abandoned along with numerous air mattresses, a bean bag chair and recliner.  I spent so much time before we moved getting rid of things so we wouldn't be moving unnecessary items.  Now, I'll have the joy of getting rid of someone else's unnecessary items. 

While the whole farm thing still seems surreal, I'm very excited about beginning the next step of this new challenge tomorrow.  The wait has been long but I know it will all be worth the effort.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity and to have found this home.  God is good.  All the time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review: Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Digging to America by Anne Tyler explores the question of nature verses nurture on a variety of levels.   This book presents the question of what makes one a citizen of a particular culture as opposed to a citizen of a particular country.  It also explores how culture and individuality impact each other.  By introducing two very different American families as they become parents through international adoption, Tyler gives us a window on what makes a family and how families develop their traditions, cultures and ideals and how individuals function as parts of a family.  We also see how families develop the principles of love, forgiveness, acceptance, judgement and live though hardships, differences and every day life.

In choosing to focus on a stereotypical American family and an Iranian American family as they each adopt a Korean daughter, the stage is set for a study of individuals and cultures.  Will these two girls be Korean or American?  American or Iranian?  What choices will their parent make to reinforce or deny their birth culture?  Will those choices make a difference in the family or the child?  Both families learn that differences are more than skin deep.  They also learn that differences are a result of more than culture.  Both families learn that by loving those that are different, they find new similarities. 

By weaving interesting characters with a story that explores how we become who we are, Anne Tyler spins a tale of family and love that left me cheering at the end.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Preparing to Unpack

It's been two weeks since the movers came to our home and took all our things away.  We've been living with the same five or six outfits and the same small bag of toys.  We've been living in the same two rooms for the last ten days.

Other than buying bathing suits and some books, we haven't needed to purchase much.  I found myself wondering today about that big truck full of stuff that left our house almost two weeks ago and about how much of that stuff we need or even want back.  As we prepared to move, I found myself constantly cleaning things up and giving things away.  I asked myself repeatedly, do we really need this?  I asked the same thing of my children.  We passed many toys and clothes along before we started moving.  I think we've all realized that our idea of need has been adjusted once again. 

While we've had the distraction of the pool and more than the usual amount of television, the majority of our entertainment has been provided by a few books and each other.  It's made me wonder about the shelves full of toys, games and things now in boxes.  All of the odds and ends that sit on tables and shelves.  The drawers full of clothes.  Closets full of towels and sheets.  I tend toward simplicity and this time of enforced minimalism has helped me see that I haven't even scratched the surface of what I can live without. 

I think my challenge will be balancing my desire to pare down with my family's desire to hold on.  I don't want our new home to become a battle between want and need.  Nor do I want us to be buried in things we don't need because we hold on too tight.  Maybe this time apart from our stuff is just what we needed to loosen our grip on possessions.  Maybe we'll be able to unpack more wisely as a result of the slower pace we've been forced to accept.

I'm hopeful that we'll be reaching a resolution to our situation this week.  I'm even brave enough to hope that by the end of the week we'll be receiving a truck that's full of our stuff at our new home.  I think that as we bring all those boxes into our new place we'll be looking at things with new eyes and a new perspective of what we think is important and worth finding a place for in our new life.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's the Little Things Really

Living in a hotel for the past week is teaching us all lessons of flexibility and compromise.  We are learning to make the best of difficult situations.  We are learning to pray and let go.  We are learning to appreciate the little things.

One of the accidental blessings of this week is my shower caddy.  It was overlooked in the initial packing and I put it in my van thinking that it might be nice to have while we were waiting for our furniture in our new house.  It's the kind of metal caddy that hang over the shower head.  It holds my liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and razor.  All those full size bottles.  Having the caddy to hang in the hotel shower saves me from all those tiny little bottles of shampoo and all those tiny bars of soap.  Having our regular things, even just soap and shampoo, makes life seem a bit more normal.  Seeing the caddy in my hotel shower reminds me that there is normal life in my past and future.  This time is temporary.  Sometimes I need that reassurance.

Another blessing is the thoughtful gift of flowers.   I am desiring my own space and dreaming of a home cooked meal, receiving an unexpected gift brings joy to my day.  A beautiful basket of yellow and white flowers now graces our hotel space. A basket of daisies that carry sunshine and love in the midst of snow and uncertainty. In a normal situation, the flowers would have been appreciated.  In this situation the flowers are a blessing.  The flowers are another reminder that things will be normal again and that the important things, people that love me, are still right where they have always been.

Weekly Recap 1/3-1/7/11

This week has been so different than the week I envisioned before we started our Christmas break.  We were suppose to spend this week getting back to school and settling into our new home.  That's not how things have worked out. 

All of our school books are in a storage unit in Cleveland.  They were supposed to be delivered to our new house last Monday.  Right now, I have no idea when we'll get them back.  Maybe next week, maybe not.

This week we've spent a lot of time swimming in the hotel pool. We needed to clock in more hours of physical education so that works in our favor.  Earlier in the week we spent some time at Border's.  I found time and money flash cards and a floor puzzle of the states and capitals.  I also bought several books that we've been wanting to read.  We've finished The Little Prince and are working on The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Making the best of a difficult situation is a real life lesson that my children are learning this week.  As with so many other homeschool lessons, I'm learning as much as they are as we go along.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bearing Witness to Blessing Part 5 - Back to School Episode

Blond hair, silky smooth and pin straight.  Styled to make any cheerleader on the planet feel a pang of envy, even if they too are sporting their own perfect hair.  Lip gloss, eye liner and mascara just so.  The exact ratio of sparkle and glow to be a tiny bit more natural than nature.  Jeans, shoes, shirt and pullover chosen with care.  The entire effect one of casual perfection, no need to try because what you see is the best there is.  The illusion of effortlessness covering a few dozen butterflies fluttering in the flat tummy covered by the skinny jeans and hoodie pullover.  My baby is on her way to a new school as a full time student.

The guidance counselor began the conversation by talking of "salvaging" the work K14 did during the first semester.  A homeschooling mother, who has spent energy and time challenging and providing an excellent education for her daughter, does not appreciate words like "salvaging".  The new school schedule includes four study halls, English, algebra, earth science and world history.  Next semester she'll pick up health and physical education along with food science.  I look at the study hall loaded schedule and wonder how anyone can call a semester of Latin, medieval history, grammar and Augustine salvage. 

The first two days of school are a success.  One of fifty three students in the freshman class, K14 slid into place like the missing piece of a puzzle.  A group of girls joined her at lunch.  Day two let her know that the girls weren't plastic just a little nervous around the new girl.  The course work is easy compared to the expectations that I've set.  Four free periods make it even easier.  Much of the material we've already covered either last year or this. 

The biggest surprise is the level of trust and respect among classmates and their teachers.  Backpacks are left unattended, lockers are seldom locked.  Teachers loan students anything from cash to laptops knowing that the students are adequate to the responsibility.  It could just be a honeymoon period for her because everything is new or it could be the way things really are.  Either way, it's a new idea that adults, other than parents, have positive expectations of young adults and that living up to your potential can be a way of functioning in the world.  That's a lesson that even the most exacting homeschooling mother, which I'm not, can get excited about.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to School

Today was supposed to be the first day of our second semester.  Instead, we are waiting.  Our books haven't been delivered.  Nothing has been delivered.  So we wait.  Today we had hours of physical education swimming in the hotel pool.  Tomorrow we are going to a bookstore and find some books to read aloud and some activities to do.  Maybe on Wednesday we'll go look for some local field trip destinations.  It's not what we expected for this first day back to school.

Today was the first day back to school for K14.  We enrolled her full time at the local high school.  She's a freshman in a class of fifty-three students.  She won't be taking French or band.  Right now she's got four study halls.  Not exactly rigorous but she's thrilled to be back in school full time even if I'm not thrilled with the education, or lack, that she'll be experiencing.  We are compromising, public schooling with after schooling.  She gets the social time, I get to supplement with the things I think are valuable.  She gets to prove her growing maturity by completing her school work in a timely and consistent way.  I get to encourage her interests and help her slog through the work that doesn't interest her.  I'm hoping the compromise works for both us.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Reading List

Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
Hush by Donna Jo Napoli
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
The Collectors by David Baldacci
This Time Together by Carol Burnett
The Humming of Numbers by Joni Sensel
A Stranger in the Family by Robert Barnard
The Atlas of Love by Laurie Frankel
The New Good Life by John Robbins
Oh No She Didn't by Clinton Kelly
Justinian's Flea by William Rosen
Rover by Jackie French
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Original Sins by Peg Kingman
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest By Stieg Larsson
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition) by Seamus Heaney
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Adventure Divas by Holly Morris
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Women Food and God by Geneen Roth
Committed by Elizabeth Gildbert
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
White Midnight by Dia Calhoun
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
Day Into Night by Anita Diamant
The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Anticipating 2011

I began this blog one year ago today with the intention to write.  I feel I've done that pretty successfully.  I didn't make 365 entries, I did manage to blog 209 times.  It's a start.  It's a great start, when I think that the year before I hadn't blogged anything, ever.  I wanted to be a writer but never took time to write.  I'm still not really a writer but I do write more regularly.

This year, a new challenge awaits.  We are beginning, hopefully, a new life.  We are taking on a farm.  Assuming, of course, that Wells Fargo approves our loan in the next week.  It's interesting to me that a pre-approval letter only means that you might be able to get a loan not that you will actually get a loan.  It seems like a total waste of time.  I'm wishing I'd realized that pre-approval doesn't guarantee approval a few months ago.   

I'm hoping that the farm will be all that we dream.  I'm hoping it will bring us together as a family.  Since we are now living in two adjoining hotel rooms, it seems pretty certain that we are being brought together.  Perhaps my expectation of togetherness didn't look quite like this but I'll take what I can get.  I'm hoping the farm will give us new learning experiences and opportunities.  I'm hoping that we will become more caring for ourselves, others and the world around us.  I'm  hoping that we will thrive and grow and glorify God in all that we do.

This year hasn't started as expected.  We were supposed to own our farm by now.  We were supposed to be camping there this weekend and meeting the movers with all our things on Monday.  Yesterday, we had to call the movers and have them put our things in storage.  We are praying that it's a short term situation.  While we wait, we'll eat out, explore the area, swim in the pool and spend time together.  In every unexpected situation, I believe we have the option to anticipate good or bad.  We are choosing to anticipate the good and enjoy every blessing that comes our way.  It's not a bad way to live a year.