A new chapter

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This “back room” of our house has been many things in our time here. It started as a guest room, then became storage, then became an office when Morgan had a remote job and needed a place to work, then housed 2 exchange students, then storage, then storage and a place for family to sleep (on their own air mattresses), and now…a classroom!

Yes, classroom. For many reasons we’ve decided to switch things up and focus on home education instead of public school starting next month (which is really next week)!

Yes, we’re excited! Yes, we (at the least the adults) are a little scared. And, yes, we believe this is the absolute right choice for us for right now.

Doing homeschool is not something I ever imagined I’d be doing. But, for us, for right now, it is the obvious right choice. While we’re still figuring out some of the components we’re pretty excited about “Five in a Row”, a highly recommended curriculum.

Joanna wants to share that “this is a great place to be and I love homeschooling even though we didn’t even start it  yet.” And she’s kinda enjoying calling me “Miss Teacher” when she wants to do school.

So, if you’ve been on this journey before and have any experiences you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. What worked well for you? What would you absolutely do again? What would you leave out? Just anything that you think would be helpful to someone starting this path.

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22 in 12 days

Last week a friend and I were able to volunteer with the YWCA’s Santa Store. It was a good day. In addition to the fun of helping people wrap up and select presents we had a bit of time to visit with some of the staff members.

While it was really encouraging to hear about the good work they are doing, the way their services are available at crucial times, it was also really discouraging to hear a recent stat. Already this month, by December 12th they had served 22 survivors of sexual assault. Yes, you read that right, 22 hospital visits in 12 days.

Back in 2010 when I started volunteering with Threads of Compassion OKC they served an average of 30 people a month. That seemed like a lot. But, to hear that number has increased so significantly sure hurts.

15 years ago I sat with a group of other survivors and listened as we each shared a bit about how we were doing at that time. I remember looking around at others who were like me trying to process their traumatic event and find a way to not feel crazy. It hit me then that I sure wished we did a better job of teaching people not to hurt others. Instead of all of us having to learn how to move forward, it just made sense to teach everyone from a very young age to be respectful of others and to not hurt each other. I know that’s a simplistic view, but really, if each parent, teacher, and other adult that interacts with kiddos intentionally focused on respect and boundaries, if we’d all teach that “no means no” no matter what preceded it, then fewer people would need to do the hard work of healing from assault. Because, there’d be fewer assaults.

So, here I sat 15 years later with tears starting to run down my face as I thought of all that faced these 22 brave survivors that have started a journey to healing. And, I remembered that moment years ago looking around a room of strong women and thinking “why don’t we teach the guys not to do this?”

So, I guess that’s my Christmas wish this year, that each of us will look out for those around us, that we’ll teach our sons and daughters to love one another, that we’ll model and teach respect, that we’ll start in simple ways like when we’re tickling a toddler who laughs out a “stop” we’ll stop. Instead of teaching self-defense to our girls, let’s teach all the kiddos to keep their hands (and other parts) to themselves. Let’s listen to one another and teach each other what respect looks like from the very early days. Let’s let consent be real in every situation and stop the violence. We can do it together.

Choosing to Celebrate

December 7th.

This date is memorable for many people for various reasons. Several days ago our kindergartner noticed that it’s a special day because she saw words printed on the calendar. She asked what is special about 7 this month.

Ahh, that may not be a tough question for most. Of course, the answer for many is “it’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day” -at least that’s what the calendar says. One of my high school friends was born today, and has since passed away -so for her family, including her kiddos it’s probably a bittersweet day. But, for me it’s the anniversary of the day my mom died in 1986.

Having such a tough thing happen during the “holiday season” had lasting effects. When it happened I had no idea that for years, actually decades, I’d struggle to enjoy the Christmas celebrations that flow starting after Thanksgiving. Wherever I was in the world others were decorating, gifting, singing, celebrating and I was often just trying to hold it together, to be present without tears. It just wasn’t a celebration time.

But, thankfully one year I took time to deal with all that (I wrote about it here if you’re curious) and some amazing healing happened. I’m SO glad I did that hard work before I had a kiddo of my own. She’s growing up enjoying the beauty of the season, and that is so cool to watch.

We’re off to a slow start this year. A quickly planned trip to Indy followed by WordCamp US in Nashville got us back in town late on the 4th, so we have some more decorating to do. But, we’re taking our time, thought it’s tempting to knock it out alone while Morgan’s at work and Joanna’s at school, doing it together as a family is what makes it special. I love opening the box of ornaments and remembering together where they came from, or when we made them. We got to open 5 days of our Lego Friends Advent Calendar at once. That would have been cool, except our eager 6 year old had opened it and switched around the bags of Lego, which meant the pictures didn’t match the pieces on 4 of the first 5 days. So, I spent some time yesterday watching a video someone had posted of opening the whole thing and getting it straightened out. Yay for youtube!

This summer our LST mission trip took us to Natal Brazil. We had a great experience there, but I still get teary thinking about one night. We had dinner with some of the church members and Joanna really connected with one of the ladies. Marisa loved on Joanna, she giggled with her, gave her gifts, hugged her, planned shopping trips, and played together,  they just really connected. As we left the restaurant to get in the car I walked behind the 2 of them and started bawling as I saw them holding hands and joyfully almost skipping along. They were having a blast. And, while I was so glad Joanna was experiencing that I was grieving that she doesn’t get that experience with my mom, that she isn’t here to be grandma, and that means my kiddo is missing out on some potentially really cool moments. So, yes, I am thankful that she does have special moments with great people, and she does have some chances to see Nana out in California, or when they visit, it’s just tough at times that she’s short one grandparent.

So, instead of dwelling on what are missing out on, I choose to celebrate! I ask Morgan to bring the tree down from the attic and the boxes of decorations in from the garage. We get out the Christmas coasters and special glasses. We move things off the mantle to set up a Nativity set (I love that this has become Joanna’s favorite part). We put the ornaments on our front yard tree that were placed by a mystery friend years ago. We’ll make some treats and share them with friends. I crochet ornaments to share, and help Joanna make some to share. We are using this special season to find ways to spread around a little joy, and I’m so glad for it.

I have some dear friends and family members who have lost loved ones this year and are facing their first holiday season without a parent or other family member. And, for them I’m hoping that in spite of the inevitable sadness that will come from that hole in the celebrations that they will be able to find some joy too and will be able to remember the special times with their loved ones.

We all know that tomorrow isn’t promised, and so I hope that today, and each day we’ll choose to do good and love one another well, as that can make such a huge difference.

As I mentioned, we’re a bit behind this year, but here’s a start to our home decorations: