Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Change

Linking up with Five Minute Friday tonight. The rules are simple. Free write for five minutes on the topic given (this week is "change.") No editing, over-thinking, worrying about grammar, etc. Just writing. And linking up here. Then comment on the person's post that is ahead of yours.

Go.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

This is my fifth year being a stay-at-home mom, and as much as I have been thankful for it and loved it, I can honestly say that the last couple of weeks of being stay-at-home-mom-and-teacher-again have revived my weary heart. The worst thing (for me) of being a stay-at-home mom is never feeling like I was accomplishing anything.  Laundry. Dishes, Meals. Vacuum. Groceries. Repeat. Nothing ever felt done, no matter how many checklists and schedules I tried. But the last couple of weeks I feel like I have accomplished things. I planned lessons. I taught. I created. I saw lightbulb moments. I brainstormed with friends making their own curriculum decisions. I have felt completely in my element again, and it is a wonderful gift.


It is not easy. In two weeks of school there have been two days when I have very much thought, "I have made the wrong decision." But at the end of the day, I am tired, a very good tired.  That back-to-school-tired I have missed so much the last few years.

Some people connect with God when they run or when they write or when they paint.  But I have found a connection I had been missing since I left the classroom. I love to teach. And though my classroom is now a kitchen table and a sofa, things really haven't changed. I love being a mom, and I love being a teacher. (And I love being in charge of all the things! .... But that is a post for another day!)

Stop.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

back to school

I blinked, and it was over. The day I had been anticipating in some ways since we found out we were having a baby. The week I definitely had been planning for and thinking about since we decided that I would teach our oldest. The first week of kindergarten. I will never have another first week of kindergarten with Bubby again. It's a humbling truth.


In the same way, my youngest's first morning at preschool went by in a flash, too. I had been fearing it, dreading it since we decided our first choice of preschool may not benefit him the most. We signed the papers for the school that made sense to our heads but hurt our hearts. I dropped him off, picked him up, and read the first note that said, "He had a great day!" My heart was glad for him but also a little sad for me.

We are told all of the time how quickly life flies by, and it seems to have sped up now that I'm a mother. (Except those nights of babyhood or those times still when someone is up for hours from midnight to 4 AM. Time does not speed by then.) I want to encourage my children to be more independent, to discover new things, to grow and to learn. But at the same time I want to hold them at this age forever, where I can still mostly protect them from things and have them close to me.  It is a strange thing, motherhood and time.


My own back-to-school days both as student and teacher don't really seem that far away. The ABC circles in my kindergarten room, being chosen first for math board races in first grade, the teacher with the stegosaurus puppet named Stego, the teacher who threw the Wordly Wise book... saying good-bye to my mom and Mimi and Papa in Walther Halll. The first time I stood beside a classroom door with my name written at the top: "Miller 109." I was told about a three dozen times that year, in English and in Spanish, "You look too young to be a teacher."
Me - first day of kindergarten

Back to school makes me feel all sorts of emotions, and this year is no exception.



(What did you DO all week? Find a lengthy recap here.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

a mid-summer night's update

It's Sunday night, and the house is as quiet as it should be to end the weekend.  There's the sound of pages flipping in the boys' room even though it is after nine. I ended up turning on the hallway light for my five year old since I haven't shared with him my childhood trick of a flashlight under the covers.  It's July and much too hot for under the covers. I hope someday when he is grown he will remember that his mommy left the light on for him.

Last week was a break in the heat, and we spent lots of time at various parks with friends or just us.  I make Bug work on his stair climbing and motor planning skills at the park. It makes me sad that we can't be there just to play the way other families do.  He doesn't like the work sometimes, but he is rewarded with lots of time on the swings. This summer has brought about really hard moments with Bugaboo - hard because we are at a loss of what to do to make it better. Thankfully, this summer has brought about some really sweet moments with Bugaboo such as listening to him read in bed in the morning before I get up or hearing him sing most of the first verse of 'Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus when he doesn't realize I'm listening.



I watch Bubby playing with friends and new kids. Sometimes he is bossy, and sometimes he is a follower, and most of the time he reminds me of me.  The way he gives up or doesn't try something when it seems new or scary frustrates me mostly because I see my intrinsic perfectionism somehow was passed along to him.  He takes it in stride when we have to leave some place because of his brother's meltdowns, and he has yet to throw a fit when we don't always make it over to the big boy swings. I worry I am holding him back somehow with our life, with our circumstances. But I realize and am thankful for the opportunities he has been given to learn to be a decent and giving person at the tender age of five.



The boys and I ventured to my childhood home for a few days in order to celebrate my great-grandma's 100th birthday.  Being home always brings a mixture of emotions and circumstances, and though I returned from the trip physically and emotionally tired, I also felt strengthened and encouraged.  I hugged people I hadn't hugged in years, and just that simple moment gave me hope. Hope that reminds me of the Veggie Tales line (sorry, we watch a lot of veggie tales around here): "No hurt is too big for God." Maybe that sounds ridiculously simple, but I find that truth sustaining.



Summer is winding down around here. School starts in mid-August, and two new adventures will begin in terms of schooling for my children (and me). If I think about either adventure for too long, I get a little nauseated. So instead of thinking about it, I plan what I can and procrastinate on what I can't handle right now.  The lightning bugs are still out each night. I need to remember the beauty and importance of getting out there and chasing them before they disappear for another year.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

preschool, peace, and mud

To say I've been stressing lately about some preschool decisions for Bugaboo is probably an understatement. There are a lot of factors that keep me up at night: I'm homeschooling Bubby next year. I'm neutral on the idea of sending kids to preschool. Bugaboo has CP and some other quirky (and lately, more than quirky) behaviors. Bug has an IEP and receives services both privately and through our school system. He qualifies for free public school preschool. We really liked Bubby's church-based preschool, especially his first year's teacher.  Bug's developmental issues make it interesting (challenging?) to mainstream him, even though he does get mainstreamed at our church. Bubby's preschool said they would accommodate  Bugaboo.

 My pro/con list, questions and concerns grew.

Additionally, The Hubs has an interesting work schedule for the next few months as he begins his job as an ER nurse. (WOOT WOOT - He passed the NCLEX! Praise the Lord. Seriously! Praise Him!)  This adds yet  another factor to the preschool decision. A couple of people have had to hear me go over and over the preschool angst I am having.  I think about it all. the time.

But then today someone actually walked across my path - literally stopped me while I was walking Bubby to VBS - to discuss preschool for next year. In her doing that, a couple of my concerns were addressed in that brief conversation. And I have peace. I don't have a specific answer yet for what we are going to do in August, but I have peace that I will be able to make a decision without fear. I really believe today's encounter was a divine appointment because I have been so consumed with fear about some things regarding Bugaboo lately.

Fear is a horrible thing. I wrestle it daily in some shape or form. Even today, soon after I got this instant peace about preschool, I came home to discover a row of huge trees that blocked a factory from our view were being professionally chopped down. Anger that I now have to see an ugly factory instead of pine trees. Fear that it is one more thing that will make it difficult to sell our house. Fear that we will be stuck here forever. Fear, fear, fear. How can I have such peace and confidence about God taking care of something for me this morning, and then just hours later get panicked and angry about another issue?


Fear is mud. I keep stepping in it. I think I am out, and then I realize I am tracking it all over my clean floors. "Look at this mess!" the evidence seems to scream out at me. Or maybe I really hear it saying, "You are a mess!" The lifelong fear that I am messing something up, that I am the mess. Two decades later, same issues, just different situations. Oh, to finally be free of the muck. I see it as footprints all around me, I recognize what it is. Now to just have eyes to see it before I step in it again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

the (almost) halfway point of quiet

For the past few years, instead of (or some years in addition to) making a bunch of resolutions I have chosen to focus on one word. This year my word is quiet. I did not really want this word, but it is the word I really felt impressed to choose anyway. The year is not quite halfway through, and I thought I would again pause and reflect on what quiet has been like in these weeks and months thus far.

The most obvious thing is that I am blogging less. Part of that is intentional.  I am choosing not to write about anything and everything that catches my attention. But part of less blogging is just the season of life I am in.  I don't have the brain power at the end of the day to write. This makes me incredibly sad because there are two things I find incredibly therapeutic. One is playing the piano, which I am not very good at, and when I do play four little hands now like to come along and bang on the keys with me. Not quite as relaxing.  The other thing that helps me process and release is writing. By not blogging as much I would like to, I feel a little congested, spiritually and emotionally speaking. 

I have things I want to say that I am choosing not to say because I cannot say them well right now. Even simple posts seem like they would take too much effort.  Mothering has become an even more full time job in the last year or two than I ever imagined it being.  Where things often change for some moms when their youngest hits two or three years old, things haven't really changed in the same way for me because my youngest still has a lot of needs. In fact, in the last month he has developed some new needs, and it has been a challenge.  I guess all that to say that if quiet had not been my word for the year I would feel even worse about not writing as often than I do.

But there has been some good things about my focus on quiet.  I am thinking through my opinions before I speak them more than is natural for me to do.  I have actually reflected on some of the writing I have done over the last few years on here, and have thought about some of the things I have changed my mind (or at least softened my mind) about. For example,  I had a pretty strong opinion about "working moms" a few years ago and now I figure I have enough to worry about in my own life that I don't need to (unnecessarily) worry about someone else's. Perhaps I should have been quiet about that opinion years ago, perhaps not.  That being said, focusing on choosing quiet and choosing what battles to fight has made me realize that there are still things I will always choose to not be quiet about - integrity, honesty, faith, etc. Not everything I feel strongly about though needs to be written about - at least not in every season - but there is a time and place for (most) everything.

Another good thing that has been a result of my focus on quiet is I have spent less time online. I have spent less time worrying about trying to impress people or gain a following.  I have realized the people I consistently read online are few, and that is probably a good thing because time is a precious commodity.  I have intentionally returned to my love of reading books. Actual books with pages to turn instead of blogs or not-news-worthy-news articles.  I actually purchased a journal a couple of months ago, and I have tried writing some thoughts with pen and paper.  My handwriting still sucks, but when it's just me and God and the paper, I don't have to worry at all about what I am saying.  That is freeing.

I have tried to incorporate quiet into my parenting.  This is probably what I need to focus on the most in the remainder of the year. Not getting stressed out about things, but choosing to be calm and still. It is also the  most challenging considering the daily outbursts and crying spells Bugaboo has started in the last month or so.  Our house does not feel quiet at many points throughout the day, so I must choose the quiet even in the chaos.

I worry that I have missed documenting important milestones or just funny memories on here the last several months. That is my perfectionist tendency combined with this intrinsic need I have to want to remember everything. (Anyone else with an input strength?) I still don't know exactly why quiet had to be my focus word this year, but I am beginning to see glimpses of the reasons. For that I am thankful.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

To Bubby, who is now five years old

Dear Bubby,

You are five now. The ninetieth percentile for height say the charts, and the hundredth percentile for cuteness says your mama. We celebrated your birthday with gourmet muffins for breakfast and trendy cupcakes for dessert because there is no such thing as too much cake.  You picked a few friends to have over, and somehow I pulled off a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party in our small house, stuck indoors for the majority of it because of the rain that only poured at the exact time your party began.  But we had a good time, and I would sew masks and make a punch-out game and pin the pizza on the turtle all over again each year to see you smile the way that you did.



You are a mix of shy and bossy. The shyness you get from both parents, but the bossiness (and also the sassy-ness) you get from me. You sound out words because you love letters, and you know about half of the states on the map because you think it is fun. You played soccer in the fall and the spring, and the spring was a much better experience thanks to the coach and environment. You climb the slides at the park with gusto, but the monkey bars are still intimidating. You are cautious of new things and of taking risks, but I think at just five years old that is okay. (It keeps you safe in parking lots and hopefully protects you from stranger-danger.)



You still hate vegetables, and watching you eat a green bean roasted to perfection is similar to watching a contestant on Fear Factor or Survivor swallow a worm. You sing along with the radio, and your voice makes me smile, whether you are belting out something by Pink or by Chris Tomlin.  Legos and Superheros and action figures are your thing these days, and your imagination allows you endless hours of play.  You talk to one of the librarians at story time like she is one of your dear friends. You instinctively watch out for your little brother, and you do your best to include him.  Sibling rivalry still hasn't really been a thing in our house, and for that I am thankful and somewhat amazed.


Each day you say something that unintentionally makes me laugh, and each day you ask something puzzling or profound. I do my best to write these things down because I want to remember. Photographs don't capture what is going through your mind, and there is so much going through your mind. You are growing up so fast. I see you climbing or playing with your friends, and a lump forms in my throat.  You are on loan to me right now, and I don't want to lose sight of that.  I am proud of how you are kind and helpful and compassionate. I am humbled by the faith that I see in you each day, an example in my very own home on what Jesus meant to have faith like a child. I love you very much, Bubby, and I am so glad you are my son.


Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"I like to be part of God's big family. Puggles! Puggles!"

Tonight Bugaboo stood on stage with his peers, the Puggles group at church.  His teachers helped him onto the stage as I sat across the sanctuary with the group of Sparkies I helped this year.  He didn't sing the words to the theme song with his friends, though he will sing some of them at home with me. He had to be redirected a few times to stay in his spot, and his teacher-buddy helped him to do the motions because he can't do them on his own.  I sat in my pew unable to keep the tears from coming out, seeing him up there as one of the group, even though so obviously different. It was simultaneously difficult and encouraging to watch.
Then his teacher had all of the kids say their name one by one into the microphone. When it was his turn, there was nothing at first. I could see his helper trying to assist him, and just when they were about to say his name for him, he said it. And I cried some more. I might have imagined it, but I am pretty sure our church cheered the loudest for Bug tonight.


Every Wednesday night and every Sunday morning a handful of dedicated volunteers make it possible for my son to hear the Word of God and interact with his peers. They give me encouragement  throughout the year about the progress they see in him. For every disillusionment I have had with "the Church," there are beautiful moments and faithful and kind people that keep pointing me to Jesus.  For every trying moment on days filled with unexplained meltdowns and behaviors, there are also moments of little victories - of conquering the slides at the playground and saying a name into a microphone.  The gift amid the struggles of being a "special needs mom" are the times when you celebrate "ordinary" milestones and others join you in that celebrating.