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Closure

It hit me out of the cold December blue.  Epiphany.  

It’s time to let go.

I’m not sure why it took so long or why it hit when it did.  But one, “Gosh I miss you guys,” comment from a Facebook post hit me over their head like a log.

I miss you all SO MUCH, but I think maybe I get it now.  My dancer girl got it months ago, but it took me a while.

It’s time.  

I’ve been holding on so tightly because I loved it so much.  It was a season of life that I would play over and over and over for an eternity if I could.

But that’s not how life works.

So with that one comment, it hit me square in the face.  I had a purpose there in Arizona, and I fulfilled it well.

I brought my two year old toddler into a studio and she left a graceful dancer.  I walked in a stranger and left a friend.  I started out as a lone toddler mom and left with a trail of beautiful people behind me who love us, support us, cheer us on, and will always be our home.

But the truth is, I’ve been holding on too tightly.  I’ve been trying to live here, but in the past.  

I’m missing the bigger picture.

We took this opportunity to move as a chance to learn and grow.  I need to start.  The rest of my family has adapted, grown, and adjusted.  I am finally ready.

I see what I was missing.  I’m here because I’m supposed to be.  I’m here to make another mark somehow.  I get it now that it won’t be the same.

I won’t have the same dance mom tribe.  I won’t have the same experience as I had all those hours spent in the dance studio lobby.  But maybe that’s okay.  Maybe that’s not what I’m here for.  Maybe I’m here for some other purpose.

It’s time to let go.  I’m going to mourn it and cry like crazy, but I’ll learn and grow and find my new purpose here.

There will still be constants.  I can still look up into the night sky and see Cassiopeia.  I can still order my Venti Latte and stay up late writing ridiculously emotional things after drinking too much wine.

I can still write her name in all of her costumes, cry at all of the recitals, and over share all of the competition photos.  I can still count on all of you to cheer her on.  The cheers might be quieter from this far away, but I know they’ll still be there.

I’m not exactly sure how to let go since I’ve been holding on so tightly to you for eight years, but I’m going to try.  

I’m still here.  I’m still rooting for you.  I still need to see ALL the photos and videos, but I’m also going to open my mind to the future.

I’m going to learn new dance competition hair styles, stretch to define myself in a new way, and water the grass I’m looking at out my kitchen window.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to come back lush and green.

Be grateful (for the past and the present), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

Seeking Significance

I have this memory.  

It was 2009.  Hubby and I went downtown one evening in December.  Just us and the little baby boy.  He was four months old and I wore him in one of those contraptions that attaches them to the front of you.

It was cold.  We put a cute stocking hat on him.  We roamed the streets and window shopped and Christmas shopped.  I remember buying a new set of pajamas from Victoria’s Secret.  It was the same year we surprised Mom and Dad and went home for Christmas.

I don’t remember anything else we purchased.  I don’t remember if we ate dinner or even the exact time of evening.  Hubby may not even remember the night at all.  It wasn’t any monumental experience.  It was a simple evening doing something out of the normal routine.

I just remember being so, so happy.  I was happy.  Hubby was happy.  Even the baby boy was giggly and happy.

It was a moment of significance.  

I don’t know why.  It just was.

I don’t have any clue why this memory keeps rolling around in my brain lately, but the closer we get to that same time of year, the more I replay that memory.

It felt like freedom and bliss.  School was out for the holidays.  Older daughter child was off with her mom leaving us with less responsibility.  We were preparing to hop a plane and see all of my family.

That moment was significant.  It is burned into my brain like a song on repeat.  Of course there are others, but this one is presently captivating my subconscious.

As Christmas grows closer and closer, I find myself looking for these moments of significance.  I’m not sure why, but I can’t seem to find them or even create them despite how hard I look and how desperately I try.

I am just hunting for that feeling.  Bliss.  Freedom.  Unadulterated happiness.  Significance.

Maybe I’ll find it in a random moment that I least expect.  Perhaps it will sneak up on me in a moment that I’m expecting to be mundane.

Out of the Blue

And then, there it was…and I knew, in that moment, that life was as it should be.

Tomorrow might bring more uncertainty, more stress, more tears over missing the past. 

But one thing’s for sure…hope lives even in uncertainty.

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

The Thing About Distance

I already know what you’re thinking.  (Or, at least, the self conscious version of my alter ego thinks I know…)

You’re thinking, “Why is this lady posting six-month-old dance videos?  Doesn’t she realize that she’s in a new state with a daughter who is totally happy at a new studio?”

I know, I know.  

I know!!  

You’re right.  Sorta.  But, here’s the thing about distance.  As far away as you may be, it’s always right there.

The distance somehow always feels so close.  That dance recital I’m crying over?  It feels like yesterday.  

That long-legged girl on the stage?  She was in a car seat just last week.  Those tears I’m crying?  They have been saved up for longer than the distance knows.

Distance is a strange thing.

It’s an odd feeling how you can feel an entire world apart and then one single video can transport you through time and place your heart right where you thought you had left.

I’m not mourning the past or regretting the move, but I am sad.  I’m sad that the videos I’ve just watched are the last of their kind.

Yes, there will be more dance videos.  Soooo many more dance videos.  There will be competition videos and living room videos and dancing in the grocery store videos.  (Yes.  The grocery store.  I don’t make this stuff up.)

But do you know what there won’t ever be again?  

There won’t be “dance with your little girl dance idol” videos.  There won’t be “dance with the girls you grew up with” videos.  There won’t be “late night, five hour, night before competition with your best friends” videos.  There won’t be “dance sleepover at the studio” videos. 

There won’t be a Mindy or a Paityn or an Alicia or an Olivia in those videos.  There won’t be a mom dance or a dad dance.  

There won’t be roots.  And those roots ran really deep.

But here’s the thing about distance.  It might be hard and sad.  It might mean a lot of “there won’t ever be agains” and a few tears shed.  

But distance also means that we have many homes.  Home is here, but home is also anywhere we’ve been loved.  We may have left, but that doesn’t mean we are far away.  

This dancer girl has cheerleaders from coast to coast.  Trust me, that McKenna has a scream that we will be able to hear from a stage in Florida.  

We love it here in our new home.  The kids are happy, life is good, and the dancer girl adores her new dance studio.  There will be videos.  There will be memories and new heart strings that attach to the walls of these new ballet barres.  

I’ll show you raw dancer pictures and elated competition photos and die-hard dancer practice videos.  I’ll show you new dance friends and new dance idols and opportunities that knock on this girl’s door which we could have never imagined.

We will grow new memories here and we will eventually pull those heartstrings when the dancer girl grows up and moves on.

Distance is inevitable.  Moving on is necessary.  But roots?  Those run deep.  Ours stretch from coast to coast.  

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Be grateful (for roots), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

The Few, The Proud, and Those Who Know Him

Here’s the thing…I was born into legacy.

I wasn’t even a thought in the womb at the time, but I am the daughter of a Marine.

My dad doesn’t talk about it, but we all know.  We know that he devoted years to service right out of high school.   We know he walked the beaches of Cuba and saw the Rock of Gibraltar.  He saw the ruins in Greece and Fidel Castro through a fence that you could barely call a barrier.

Yes, I am the daughter of one of the few, the proud.  He has seen more in his lifetime than I ever will in mine.  For those who think they know my dad and question his homebody happiness on the farm, you don’t know the half of it.  If you think he’s strange and quiet because he prefers being surrounded by cows and wheat fields instead of tarmacs and skyscrapers, well, then I suppose you don’t really know him at all.  

His quiet speaks volumes if you listen.


I don’t suppose any of us civilians will ever really understand what he experienced during his service, but if it made him want to spend all the rest of his days in the peaceful, Kansas countryside, then he deserves to.

Yes, I’m the daughter of a Marine, but more than that, I’m the daughter of a hard working, freedom seeking, Kansas farmer.

I am privileged enough to say that I’m the daughter of someone who served, but I’m humbled more and more every year by the fact that I am privileged enough to say that I’m the daughter of my hero.

When you grow up on a farm, there are certain things in life you take for granted.  The sunset, the blowing wheat fields in the month of May, muddy dirt roads after a hard rain, and your dad who is always there despite what life and Mother Nature can throw at you.  

Stuck in a dirt road ditch because the mud was too deep?  Dad.  Empty seat on the local school board? Dad.  Early morning or late night event you need a ride to?  Dad.  

I’m not just the daughter of a Marine, I’m the daughter of one of the best.  The best dad, the best basketball cheerleader, the best mud plower after a wet, icy December storm.  

I’m quite sure that my dad would have been the amazing father he was to me regardless of his military service, but there’s something about those who have served.

They see the world a little differently.  They stand a little straighter, and they work a whole lot harder.

My dad has never been one to shy away from work.  It didn’t matter if it was pulling a calf in the dead of winter or driving the combine in the windy, oven like temperatures of a Kansas summer.  He was there.  He was working.  You wouldn’t find a complaint within earshot of him either.

Maybe everything he saw during those military days are things he wishes to forget, or maybe they are things he hopes never to forget.  Maybe those things are what drives him to be the best.  Maybe those things are now woven through his being and the peace he finds on the farm reminds him why he served.

What I know for sure is that I’m thankful for his service not just on Veterans Day, but everyday, and I’m grateful for the example in life he’s set.

Be grateful (for veterans and active military), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

So Many Fragile Things

A stream of random thought…

Every morning, I get up, turn on the Keurig, and sit on my porch with my morning cup of motivation.  

The weather and light are changing, but I just wrap a blanket around me and continue my morning routine.

Coffee. Facebook. Emails. Listening.

It’s so peaceful.  It doesn’t matter the actual time, it’s just the peace that comes with morning.  Maybe its 9:30 or 7:00.  It’s just calm.

I contemplate the day and consider all that I’m in charge of.

I log on for my work training (yes, I have a real job again—more on that later, but it’s really great!), laundry, sweep the floors, call the furniture company…again, make calls to try and navigate the medical system and getting new doctors, put away the messy counter items, find the dogs’ ball…the list goes on.

But these things aren’t the things that really matter.

What I really have on my mind is the science activity I didn’t really read to prepare, the book I need to catch up on so I can read it with the teen (because he ASKED me to do something academic with him!), the painting project supplies I need to get for the dancer girl’s latest idea, and the math lesson that I know I need to research because she will have a bad attitude about.

I think about the dance moms I wish I knew here to connect with, the friends I wish the teen had here, and the hubby who is constantly on the road.  I think of the dancer girl and her low self-esteem about school, the teen and his future, and the already adult child who is learning that life is hard at times (especially when you feel all alone).  

I think of so many fragile things.

I think of the way the dancer girl’s lips trembled on the way home from a frustrating night of dance recently.  I think of the way my heart broke when the Navy girl told me she missed her college entrance exam by mere points.  I think of the way I hate Monday mornings because hubby has to hop a jet plane somewhere, and even though I know our weekly routine operates without him here, it still makes my heart feel sad and broken and fragile to watch him walk away into the airport terminal.

I wonder what exactly we are all doing here and why it sometimes still feels so hard.  How can things be hard when this slower life pace has reduced my stress by a million?

Actually, make that a zillion.  

Those of you back “home” wouldn’t even recognize me.  I’m not lugging in a suitcase of essays to critique or begging other dance moms to help me grade math facts tests in the dance studio lobby.  I’m not scribbling notes in drama scripts or spray painting crazy classroom transformation props in my driveway at midnight.  I don’t spend all day every Sunday grading papers, writing lesson plans, and frantically trying to catch up.  

Don’t worry, my new job is not going to contribute the kind of stress that a full-time classroom teacher deals with.  Still giving hats off to all of them.

I don’t have a 5:00 a.m. alarm clock, and I no longer spend the weekends scouring Goodwill in search of costumes for the latest crazy classroom idea I’ve had.

The lack of a crazy schedule and the go/go/go is a blessing.  So why does it still feel like so many things are holding on by the thread of silk?

Maybe the problem is that I’ve been so busy the past, oh, thirty-some years, that I didn’t actually realize all these things were in such a delicate balance.  Perhaps if I had slowed down sooner, I wouldn’t feel all these things and feelings crashing around me like a crumbling Roman empire.

But here I am.  So, what do I do?

Well…

I take each day one at a time.  I look forward to the small things.

I hug my kids and husband every chance I get.  I play with the dogs.  I make a latte any time I’m at a loss…because coffee fixes everything.

And… I take care of the fragile things around and inside of me.


Last weekend I soaked off my acrylic nails.  They were super expensive and destroying my actual nails (thanks to poor application from a salon here).  Today, I repainted my paper thin nails in an effort to save them from the ragged ends.  Dancer girl oooo’ed and ahhh’ed over them.  They are awful and pitiful and not pretty.  But she loves them.  Because they are me.  She loves me because I’m me.  That love is big and deep and constant.  Although it is not what fragile things are made of, it does teach us a lesson about how you should handle fragile things.

We should handle those things that are fragile with the most care.  It doesn’t matter if it is fragile because you feel like it breaks you apart or fragile because it is barely holding together.  Either way, you take care of it.

On many occasions here since the move, I’ve felt invisible.  The kind of invisible that if I disappeared my kids and hubby would be the only ones who would notice.  It makes you feel insignificant when you think about yourself like that.  So this week, I’ll count myself when I think of all the fragile things.

I’ll remember that hubby wouldn’t just miss the ride home from the airport, but every minute thereafter.  I’ll remember that the dancer girl smiled and made funny faces at me (even through the glass into the parking lot) as I watched her dance this week from my car.  

I’ll remember that mid-conversation, the adult Navy girl told her co-worker that she was talking to “her mom” on the phone tonight—which may not be a big deal to the rest of the world, but it means a lot to me.

It means that even on an ordinary Friday, there is a soul walking around in the world who has no blood connection to me, but she called me because she needed “her mom”.  It’s the first time I’ve ever heard it in organic conversation, and even though I already knew she considered me her mom, it’s a pretty big deal.  Huge.

It means that I’m not insignificant or invisible or anything of the sort.

Fragile things require special care.  It’s easy to forget that in the bustle of life.  It’s easy to forget that when we don’t take care of ourselves as well.

Since we’ve moved and I’ve started a new job working from home, finding the right space was important to me.  Both the head space and the physical space need to be aligned if you want my full commitment.  So, I thought about it for quite some time…

I decided on a tiny corner desk in one of my favorite rooms in the house.  While most rooms in our new house are lit like the dungeons of medieval times, our bedroom is not.  There are beautiful ceiling details, lots of light, a window, and a small corner where I put I tiny corner desk and a super cushy chair.  A chair that I debated and compared reviews on for two weeks…because I’m still the OCD girl you know and love. (Spoiler alert—the obsessing was worth it because the chair is killer.  I’ll link it for you.)

Homall Office Chair High Back… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DMW7W37?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

I know there are all sorts of “rules” about what you should and shouldn’t put in your bedroom, and I’m pretty sure a workstation is against the rules. 

But here’s the thing, I absolutely do not care.  

Our bedroom is the happiest, brightest, most relaxing room in the house.  Soooo…that is where I shall work.  On a tiny desk that can’t collect clutter, next to the wall where I’ve hung the most fragile things.  

My family.  My soul mate, my children, my pride and joy.  These pictures are a story of why we take care of fragile things.  

I am learning everyday that the dishes and math pages mean less than the children’s emotions as they do them.  I’m realizing that it’s okay to take a time out for myself and angry vacuum if that is what will make me breathe easier.  I’m learning that schedules aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  (Yes, you heard it from me—the Queen of Routine).

So, this week, as you make your to-do list, be sure to put all the fragile things on it.  Take care of things like weak, chipped nail polish and quirky teenage boys and adult children who love you like blood and dancer girls and hubbies who love you more for who you are than for the ride from the airport—because even you are fragile.

Be grateful (for fragile things), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

The Truth Behind Safety Nets

Once upon a time, I didn’t get what love was.  Ignore all of my sappy Facebook posts.  It’s true.  

I mean, we ALL know what love is by definition.  If we’re lucky, we understand love because our parents dump it into us.

I was one of the lucky ones.  I grew up in a house with abundant love, support, and encouragement.  My parents have been married more than fifty years, so I’ve had an amazing example of love and commitment.

And let’s be honest, if you can be a Kansas farm wife for that many years, you clearly know what love is.  Am I right, Mom?

But if you are anyone reading this over the age of twenty, or if you’ve been through messy breakups or divorces, you know well what I mean when I say that I didn’t REALLY know what love is.

At least, not the fifty year kind of love.

Love requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of everyday commitment.

And we all think we “get” that.  We commit to it and mean it.  Until we don’t.  We think we get it until we realize that love shouldn’t be so damn hard all the time.

What we thought was love ends up being something else entirely.  It ends up being this kind of monster that engulfs you, and before you know it, you don’t even remember what love was.  You just know that the safety net of what you thought was love has tangled you up so badly that you have to cut yourself out.

It’s hard and painful and sometimes you hurt both yourself and others in the process.

Let me tell you something about safety nets.

They’re great to catch you when you fall, but once you’re stuck in the net after the initial fall, there isn’t a whole lot left to do except wait for someone to rescue you.

There was a messy time in my life when I thought I understood love.  I was sure of it.  It didn’t matter how hard and messy it was, I just assumed it was normal.

We all assume that love starts as some magical moment between two people and it all ends as a fairy tale.

Well, let me tell you…

My story is more Urban Cowboy than Cinderella (minus the mechanical bull scene), and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

For those of you who don’t know my full story, I’ll tell you some day over a glass of wine…or three.  It’s not a short story.  We may need some coffee…

What I can tell you is that sixteen years ago, I married the person my heart had always been looking for.  We did it with eyes wide open to the hard, the commitment, and the work we knew it would take.

We have had some wild times.  

We have now lived from coast to coast together.  We’ve raised one amazing young woman who rocks the Navy scene, and we’re trying our best not to screw up the other two younger ones.

We laugh a lot, give each other a lot of room to grow, and make a lot of mistakes.  Because THAT is what love is.

It is real and raw and everyday hard. 

It’s also wonderful and easy and secure.  It’s real love.  It’s the kind of love that lets you pout and cry and be a pain in the ass (even when you shouldn’t be).

It’s something I never would have found if I hadn’t been willing to let go of the hard, forced “love” that I thought I had found.

Do I believe in love at first sight and soul mates?

Not as much as I believe in vibrations and signs and the universe yelling at me to see what is right in front of me.  

Real love is not the things of fairy tales and movies, but it also shouldn’t be the tales of doom and gloom and constant sacrifice.

Today marks 16 years of marriage for us, but love started way before that.  It started on an old, well-worn dance floor before we even knew what was happening.  

Was it fate or divine intervention?  

I’m sure it was a whole lot of miraculum.

Today, like every other day, I’ll revel in how lucky I am, how loved I am, and how grateful I am that I found love that is real and raw and so much more than just a safety net.

Be grateful (for real love), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

Purpose and Productivity

It’s finally fall.  (Insert me doing a happy dance.)

Fall is my favorite season.  The weather begins to cool down at night, the sun is a different color, and the air just feels different. 

Apparently here in the south, fall also means that the mosquitoes quit messing around.  They come out in full force and attack anytime flesh steps outside.  Yea.

But today, even the mosquitos can’t destroy the sense of calm that fall brings me.

My Halloween candle burns on the stove and fall decorations have sprinkled my house.  Although, I did acquiesce my fall leaf decor because of my husband’s silent (yearly) pleas to forego the fake fall leaves that normally adorn the top of my kitchen cabinets.

Honestly, I’m not sure he’s noticed.  He would have noticed if I’d put them up though, because in addition to them falling down and blocking the cupboards from shutting every other day, they also have a tendency to stay above the cabinets until March.  I used to plead the excuse that our kitchen and living room décor was red, but I’ve got nothing to stand on here in my muted gray blue house. (Which I love—don’t get me wrong!)

What he doesn’t know is that weeks ago I DID actually put the leaves up.  They were greasy and old and just didn’t quite fit.  I sort of felt the same at the time.  Greasy, old, and not quite fitting into a new place.

So, I took them down, trashed them, and washed my hands of the whole “leaf fiasco.” 

It’s not quite as easy to do the same with the life I left behind, but I HAVE learned a few things recently…

I’ve learned that despite what social media and the rest of the world thinks of the hustle culture, which I have happily been playing a part in the past 20 years, it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.

Instead, I’ve been sleeping in until eight or nine each day.  I’ve been taking daily walks and reading books.  I’ve forgotten the “to do” lists and just tackle each item as it comes to me.

I’ve learned that there is no rule that says you must accomplish ninety things before noon.  There isn’t even a rule that you need to accomplish nine things all day.

I’ve learned that it’s okay if your day-to-day schedule changes, ebbs, and flows to meet your moods. That was NEVER a thing in the land of teachers and school and consistency.

I’ve learned that despite what the world may scream at you, there are only a few things that are really, TRULY important—loving those around you, serving those around you, and taking care of yourself so that you can do both of those.

It’s pretty great.

It’s also a little scary.  I wonder, exactly what I am doing here while the rest of the world goes on outside my window?

I’m not rushing to work and rushing to the store and rushing to my kids’ events.  

I’m not exhausted from grading papers or answering emails.

I’m simply, existing.  I’m “being” instead of “doing”.

Hmmm…well, that doesn’t really sound awful at all.

Today, I struggled to get out of bed.  Not because I had a 5 a.m. alarm or because I hadn’t slept well.  I was just, well, tired.

So, I didn’t get up.  I slept.  It’s a novel idea, right?

When I did get up, I made my coffee, infused with the collagen powder that has clearly NOT gotten the message that my face is aging.  I turned on my mosquito Thermacell (necessary here), and I did nothing but enjoy my coffee.

I then went for my walk, made my latte (if you don’t have my Keurig model yet, you NEEEEEED it), and made my kids pancakes.

As the day went on, I managed to clean my shower (my least favorite of all household chores), sweep my floors, and clean my refrigerator.  Moving gives you perspective, and I swore when I cleaned our last fridge better than it had ever been when we lived there that I would do that for myself.  So, I did.

I also organized the disaster that was the small space under our bathroom counter and my laundry room.  Hubby doesn’t know it yet, but we might be creating wire shelf covers for the awful shelves in there this weekend.  Shhhhhh…

After teaching the kiddos and all of this, I took the girl to dance and made a trip to the store for emergency hurricane supplies.  I guess that’s a thing here.

Don’t worry.  I bought plenty of coffee and wine.

Now, as I sit here, I realize that despite the things I’ve done today, I’m not exhausted.

I haven’t been running from dawn ‘til dusk, and I have had time to do things that I wanted to do.  Things that make me feel productive and things that let me know I have true and genuine purpose here.

If the world has gotten you down today, just remember this…

There is purpose in productivity, but only if it aligns with those things you really feel in your core.

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

There Will Be Days

We all have those days. You know what I’m talking about.

We all have those days where you feel like the world is against you and nothing goes right. There isn’t enough coffee to account for the amount of energy you need to expend just to get through.

I know you all know exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes, I bet you all have multiple “days” that attack you all at once.

Today was one of those days.  It was one of those days that exhausts me so much that I can barely even sit and repeat the details because I’d rather crawl under the covers and sleep until my kids graduate college.

Okay, that may be a little extreme, but you get the idea.

I begin everyday thinking, “This will be the day.  This will be the day that we sail smoothly through these unchartered waters.  Homeschool will be dreamy, the chicken I cook for dinner won’t set off the smoke alarms, and maybe we will even have all the stars align and get a call that we are getting real furniture after our two-month wait.  Maybe.” 

But despite all of those positive thoughts, there was crying over math before ten-thirty a.m. which resulted in the teacher-monster of a mom coming out. 

For the record, I had zero problem telling my own child the same thing I’ve said to countless other kids in my years of teaching…

I told her that a bad attitude was not an excuse.  I told her that it is one thing to be frustrated when things are hard, but there is no reason for a rotten attitude just because you don’t want to try.  I told her that I was done until her bad attitude was in a better place.

I’ve given similar lectures to many students over the years, but it never makes it easier.  It isn’t easy to walk away from a crying child and a math book. 

It makes me feel like a failure every single time. And there have been MANY of those times over my 20 year career.

After quite a while and a whole lot of shoulder shrugs and, “I don’t knows,” I got an answer–of sorts.  Not surprisingly, it had nothing to do with math. 

It never does.

In all my years of teaching, the outbursts never actually mean what you think they do on the surface.

Instead of another, “I hate math,” complaint, I got a teary, “I just didn’t want to move.”

Have you read what I think about kids being resilient?  If not, read this blog post now…My Child is Not Resilient – Confessions, Coffee, and Miraculum (confessionscoffeeandmiraculum.com)

Kids are not “resilient”. My kids have both been working really hard at processing this huge life change. They are both fighters who are trusting that I can guide them down the right path.

We’ve been here for almost two months.  There have been new friends and beach days and trampoline parks and go-cart racing.  But that doesn’t replace “home.”

Here I am wondering if this homeschooling journey is a mistake and looking for some kind of outside validation that I’m doing the right thing, and really, the only thing that matters is the fact that instead of my baby suffering through a rotten day at school feeling miserable, I was able hug her and tell her it would be okay.

We all went out for lunch.  We laughed about silly things and we bought new books to read at the bookstore. We stuffed our faces with yummy, loaded tostadas at a late 8:30 p.m. dinnertime because we weren’t worried about tomorrow morning’s alarm clocks (which don’t exist this year for us).

Because of the path we are presently on, dancer daughter didn’t have to suffer through six hours of sixth grade lessons when her brain was clearly not ready to learn anything. She didn’t have to hide her tears for fear that her new friends would make fun of her.

And that math lesson?  We blasted through it at 9:30 p.m. tonight.  (Because her teacher lives here. Lol.) There were no tears, no frustration, and no mention of the earlier outburst. 

Did we accomplish everything on my “lesson plan” today?  Nope. 

But on days like these, I’m reminding myself of the reason we’re venturing down such an unfamiliar path.

I found myself thinking about the other days we’ve had.  I found myself thinking about our plan to take life slower and answer to fewer schedules.  I found myself thinking that this year is not about the same things that life has been about in our past.  We have this strange and wonderful opportunity to slow down for a bit.

On days like these, I’ll choose to remember days like those

I’ll choose to remember this month’s mid-week adventure that we took as a family just because we could.

There was a big part of my teacher and mama heart that felt like we were “playing hooky” that day, but after an hour or so of skipping the book work to learn real life, those guilty feelings subsided.

We spent half of a day on the water of the Ogeechee River last week with Captain Dave. He told us about red fish, stringrays, and growing up. He told us about the best church for kids’ youth groups and how to fry up the best fish. He told us crazy stories about abandoned boats and hurricanes and the only restaurant he would go to eat fresh fish.

As I watched my kids’ faces on the boat ride back to the dock, I remember thinking to myself, “There is NO way this was a waste of a day or of education.”

Heck, I learned more about marine life that day than I’ve ever learned from a book.

My mom guilt of, “My kids are not in a classroom right now,” transformed into, “My kids learned so much today without ever picking up a pencil or standing in a silent, straight line.”

We avoided the rush of getting to school, packing lunches, checking homework, and all the other things that we know all too well about school.

We avoided all the stressful time wasters that conventional education has to require in order to properly function.

Instead, we loaded our family into the truck, watched the sun rise, and listened to knowledge from a man who has not only caught fish, but has traveled a sailboat from the Georgia coast to the Bahamas, almost died hunting water buffalo in South Africa, and is friends with Paula Deen’s husband.

I thought to myself, “On those days…I’ll remember these moments and know that I did something right.”

So, tonight I’m choosing to remember this. 

I’m going to forget the tears and the attitude and the uncertainty that each day brings as I wonder if I’m doing this the right way or making a royal mess. Instead, I’m going to remember this.

I think it’s a good lesson for all of us to remember to stop and take a step back. Life seldom goes as planned, and in reality, we worry and stress even when it does go as planned. So, tomorrow, let’s just all remember those days. Let’s remember those days that matter.

I’m going to remember that I am capable of being my children’s best teacher. I am going to remember that it is okay to try something different, even if everyone else doesn’t understand. I’m going to remember that the most important thing is that my children are safe, loved, and happy.

And then I’m going to pour a glass of wine and call it a day. Tomorrow can worry about itself.

Be grateful (for life lessons in the form of tears), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

Things are Just Peachy

Confession.  Things are not peachy.

This week has been hard.

The kind of hard that makes you open a second bottle of wine and scroll Facebook to enjoy the perception of everyone’s green grass.

The kind of hard that makes you doubt yourself.  That’s the worst kind of hard in my opinion.

Monday, I felt guilty.  We had our first day of homeschooling.  However, we also sent dear hubby on a two-week long business trip for the first time since the move.

I was a wreck.  Did we do math and reading and vocabulary and spelling?

All the yesses.

Did I also allow my ten-year-old to hug and love on me as we binge watched a Netflix dance show? 

Yes.

My kids ate leftover pizza and cereal for dinner. 

Even my dogs seemed disappointed with Monday.

Y’all (I stole that one from the south), I cried over terrible teen Netflix acting.  Then, I sat up until one a.m. doubting all the choices I’ve recently made.

Tuesday and Wednesday improved marginally, but we still struggled through finding a routine and balance.

Today, as I contemplated how everything would go, I was feeling like I had a handle on things.  I had a great assignment planned, something for the boy to do that was more meaningful than math review, and so many aspirations of how the day would end.

I was wrong.

My fabulous assignment was very lackluster and met with zero enthusiasm from both hooligans.  It also produced mediocre work from two very smart children (who I know, for a fact, would have given ten thousand times more effort to a teacher who wasn’t their mom).

Then, I find one of those notes. 

Teacher friends, you know “the note.” 

The one that a frustrated student writes on a paper and then erases or scribbles out.  The kind of note they want you to find, even though they wanted to hide it.

“I don’t know anything.”

Written and erased.  By an incredibly intelligent almost thirteen-year-old, who, without a doubt, knows a whole lot of everything.

Talk about feeling like a teacher failure. 

Last year he ranked third in his entire grade level according to the school, and this year he’s writing notes that say, “I don’t know anything.”

Epic teacher/mom failure.

How was I to know that only one teacher to his recollection has EVER even asked him to annotate a text?  I assumed that since I made my fourth graders do it, he just needed some memory jogging to take off running.

Spoiler alert, that was not true.

Welcome to figuring out how to teach your own children in grade levels you’ve never taught.

After doing damage control with that situation, I dropped off the dancer girl to her first ever class here in the south.  She fretted the entire day because she overdid the backflips a couple of days ago and has been super sore. 

She spent all day worrying about how she would do at dance while being so sore and the entire car ride to dance chewing on her fingernails.

Then, to top things off, I had to send her in and drive away.  I mean, I COULD stand outside in the humidity and heat and stare through the window, but that seems to send off a creepy mom vibe, so I’ll refrain.

Now, I’m sitting in an empty Starbucks drinking a burned tasting decaf latte as I try to gather my thoughts about the week.  (Don’t even comment about the decaf.  I’ve seriously got to sleep sometime tonight…but if this is what decaf tastes like, count me out forever.)

So here it goes…

Perception versus Reality

My perception: Homeschooling this week was a disaster, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

The truth: Both of my kids did more than seven math lessons already this week and have read several chapters out of novels.  They’ve practiced typing and learned new vocabulary.  If they had actually gone to school this week, I promise you there would have been very little curriculum being taught.  They would have spent the time learning classroom rules, practicing how to line up or go from class to class, what to do in case of a fire drill or lockdown, as well as hours-worth of time playing get-to-know-you games and signing syllabus requirements.  So, I supposed they’re no worse off than they would have been.

My perception: Everyone around me thinks I’ve lost my marbles for attempting homeschooling.

The truth: The weird guy who looked at me funny as my ten-year-old drove the golf cart past his house is an ex-convict.  (That’s true, but a story for another time.)  I don’t actually care what he thinks about me homeschooling my kids.  Shoot, I don’t even care if he thinks my kids are just truancy cases.  Whatevs.  In reality, I was being an awesome mom AND teacher, because we spent almost an hour at our community center so the dancer could dance in the empty space and the boy could use the workout room. Which, by the way, he asked to go do again tomorrow, so win-win. I also know there are many people who do NOT think I’m crazy, so maybe I’ll just block everyone on Facebook and in real life who thinks I’m crazy and go on living our unconventional little life.

My perception: I’m a terrible stay-at-home-mom.  I’ve been staying up until midnight, sleeping in until eight or nine, and generally not doing a whole lot.

The truth: My kids, dogs, and plants are still alive, and I haven’t burned the house down yet.  (Although we did have the fire brigade come visit us over the weekend and had to evacuate the house, but that’s yet another story.)  I’m actually doing a whole lot, although so much of it is mental that it’s just draining.  I’m learning how to teach two grade levels above anything I’ve taught before, as well as learning a new state’s standards and expectations.  I’m also trying to write some of my own curriculum, figure out how to use Google Classroom and Google Slides so my kids don’t fall behind on techie stuff, as well as the whole cooking, cleaning, laundering thing.  So, I suppose I’m doing more than it first appears.

My perception: Since we’ve moved, things just seem…off.  I don’t remember feeling like this the last time we moved half-way across the country, so what am I doing wrong this time?

The truth: We moved more than 2,000 miles to another region of the country.  Things are not going to be just peachy right away.  (See what I did there?  At least I haven’t lost my sense of humor or use of ridiculous puns.) 

So…

By the time I post this, I’ll have picked up the dancer girl, delivered ice cream and a Starbucks brownie to the boy, and settled in for the night.  I’ll watch something ridiculous on Netflix, yell at my dogs for barking at the lizards in my screened-in porch, and I’ll leave this for all of you to read.

I’m not sure what tomorrow or next week will bring, but this much I know…

I’m definitely never ordering decaf anything ever again.

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.  Regular caffeinated coffee.

To the Life I Left Behind

In the calm hours of dawn, the past beckons to me.

It urges me to mourn the rush, the hustle, the frantic pace.

It calls out to me.

It pleads for me to miss the schedule and the tension that proved I was making something of life.

It reminds me that the stress provided structure and the responsibilities resulted in productivity.

As I sip my coffee and listen to the frogs, I’ll wonder if I’m just crazy, or if I’ve actually found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I’ll ask myself, ”What exactly am I doing here?”

I’ll finish my cup of fuel, brush my teeth, and embark on my daily walk.

I’ll see puddles and cardinals and passersby.  I’ll listen to the cicadas and the splashes of tires hitting wet pavement.  I’ll ignore the pleading from the past.

I’ll do some laundry, read a book, and throw a ball for the dogs.  I’ll ignore the nagging of the past hustle.

The day will eventually dwindle, and I’ll sit on the porch in the sticky summer night. 

I’ll wonder what I accomplished today.  And then, I’ll remember…

I lived.  I loved all of my people.  And I smiled.

And that will be enough. ❤️

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.