Category Archives: Parenting & Family

The man inside the boy

I don’t know what happened with my youngest son, but it’s good. I have been urging, reminding, cajoling, conniving, and ganging up on his to either do more physical activity of the ordinary kind such as biking to school, running, or swimming at the local pool, or join a school or club sport or team, to please, please choose something, and I’d support him. But he only dabbled, while his newly developed height with doubled number of muscle cells puddled in a chair as he played computer games for hours a day. I got into it with him the other day–he could see from my intensity how heartfelt my concern was, how serious a thing I felt it was to neglect one’s health that way, how he would be giving up the good feeling of strength, balance, and sense of accomplishment, even while his brain was tricked into thinking that the levels or perks of his gaming were some kind of real achievement. It was a hijack of his innate evolved dopamine reaction that didn’t pay the same dividend as REAL challenges, REAL risk, REAL conflict, trouble, and overcoming, I said. And no, I said, when he told me he needed me to “make him” exercise, I just couldn’t, with a full work schedule and disciplines of my own to fit in. I said he had to make himself, or sign up for something where he would be made to do the work. I acknowledged the reality of the temptation to yield one’s time and attention to those clamoring for it–the games, or movies, or social media for some. I told him it was too much–I had been willing to make athletics mandatory, but there was supposed to be an eventual owning of it, and it was past time.

He wasn’t planning to swim again this year–said he’d had too many ear infections. Last year, with lots of encouragement from his parents and his siblings, he chose to swim on the high school team, after years of unenthusiastically participating in summer league and improving each year, though never enough in his own mind to pay more than grudging acknowledgment to his gradual drop in race times. He felt nowhere near as good a swimmer as his brother and sister before him, though she assured him that his times were about the same as hers when she started. His brother had started much younger and so had immediately made varsity in his freshman year, going on to be count Swimmer of the Year and then almost make college nationals (in Canada). We assured him it didn’t matter, that it was about fitness and fellowship, and that we loved watching him swim, along with his grandparents. Also, he was becoming a bit of a specialist in backstroke, unlike his Freestyle/Fly siblings. So much for an easy choice –excellent coach, good group of boys, great fitness, and fun to watch for us. But it seemed to be over. His sisters had invited him to go for climbing and to the gym, but nothing was happening.

Then today, he burst out of his garage bedroom and said, one, that he was really glad his drum teacher had got him listening to jazz it was so amazing (he never listened to music before this, despite several years of piano lessons and now a few months of drumming), and two, that he wanted me to sign him up for swimming.

So I guess the exhortation with tears got to him where the gentle reminders and reasoning didn’t. He’s a heart guy, like his dad. He’s owning it, too–he doesn’t do things just to be compliant, but he does have a desire to do what’s right. He’s manning up, I think. I’m so proud of him Dare I hope that he’ll also heed my pleas to say no to first person shooter games, to protect his imagination, or to do real live work with his hands, like helping me build a new compost bin, or splitting some firewood, instead of virtual digital building and tearing down?


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This week I said no a lot.

(Note: this is a post written four years ago that I forgot to publish – for those who know a bit about my family, so as not to be confused)

Heard on CBC’s “The Current” that Canadian parents spend an average of $480 to get stuff for their fifth graders to start school, and $970 for their twelfth graders. Big ticket items are fashion and tech. The advice was to cut back on the tech for elementary grades, since research has shown it takes away from the educational experience. Thank heaven for research. Also highlighted was that tendency for parents to imitate what they thought other parents were doing–to win social acceptance? a competitive edge for their kid? to assuage guilt? Looking at those shopping bags toted through the malls, feeling the panic to get the best selection, pick up the best deals.

Our school district made a smart move a few years ago, deciding not to require kids to buy school supplies, except an optional backpack or binder tote–all the basics would be provided–equality in pencils, notebooks, and planners for all, calculators only when necessary, a few items like organizers, poster board purchased by parents later. No more individualized school supply lists on racks in the big box stores, no more last minute shopping. There’s even a way for low income kids to get new school clothes at a special pickup day. And I know from experience, when you’re low income, you need all the help you can get.

So that one’s easier. I used to find myself arguing that the already sharpened pencils and only slightly used notebooks from last year were perfectly fine, that I had plenty of good colored pencils already with which to make sets, that we cold make really cool dividers out of cereal boxes. Even though I remember the pleasure of picking up new with my dad at the downtown office supply store, or even the mall. Loved printing my name on fresh, new notebooks, putting full length pencils and pens into a new zip case. Now the school hands over a starter kid the first day or even before. My high school kids get slightly used leftover comp books and pens to round that out, and are content.

Food choices are another area where I’m putting my foot down, for both health and economy: The focus is on foods from the garden and simple healthy meals not based on too much white flour or expensive meats. I’ve been saying no to processed foods, GMO (which includes all non-organic corn, soy, canola, and beets), sugar drinks, store bought desserts. Not sure if I can make that stick, since my husband gets a little out of hand when he shops at Costco. Last time he came home with two kinds of ice cream treats, a huge rack of ribs, four large boxes of kid cereal, and two jars of Nutella. We’re dialoging about this, and he agrees with me in principle, but he just gets in these Disney Dad moods. So I try to ration the special treats and mix in fruits, vegetables, cooked breakfasts, smoothies, and homemade granola and yoghurt. Yes to local bagels, bread and bacon, homemade rhubarb cake and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, the occasional ice cream fruit shake. My son says I’m like the mom in the comic strip —–, if not quite so extreme. I do occasionally meet the kids halfway.

I’ve told the kids that if they’re desperate for treats, they have to pay out of pocket and pay mind to nutritional content. For example, my daughter learned yesterday (I asked at the window–she had a birthday gift card) that there are 42 grams sugar in a caramel Frappucino (a habit picked up from peers, then she got a coffee shop gift card). That’s over 10 teaspoons of sugar in one drink. She’s putting it together. We discussed a phasing out plan, maybe having her go with a plain latte with one pump of caramel instead of four, for starters, and she was actually open to that. Also discussed types of lunches she’d like to have me make in the category of homemade/healthy/economical (since I insisted): clam chowder and minestrone being identified. I said no to individual sweetened yogurt, and am pushing for her acceptance of my homemade kind with fruit jam. Have to pick the right moments to move the plan forward, and avoid a bossy or irritated manner.

My other daughter stated her resolve today, at the beginning of the high school swimming season, to eat healthier. Pleaded for more fresh fruit (besides the fresh and frozen berries we have on hand), and complained that there was nothing yummy in the fridge. I told her maybe not (though the fridge was full of food), but in combination it all could be made very yummy. So it’s time to teach her more recipes, besides potatoes fried with garlic and rosemary. Omelets with chard and cheese, baked potatoes with the works, salsa, tsiziki, potato salad. Food discontent is usually only a failure of imagination or experience, or plain laziness, and usually insufficient hunger. I also am helping her learn about seasonality–she was desperate for apples last month, but I explained I wasn’t buying apples that had either traveled around the globe or that had been in storage for a year; she’d have to wait until local fruit were in season. And no bananas except in special circumstances; no oranges until November.

My youngest son loves treats and asks for ice cream pretty much every day if he knows it’s there, wants dessert after every meal, and I have to watch his portions of any sort of cereal or meat. But also loves to make and eat vegetable soup with lots of ginger. He’s shaping up to be my key cucumber consumer, loves green beans, and I hope to win him over to baked zucchini cheese melts.

Concerning clothing, which is a larger proportion of our budget that I’d like–most of the purchases being for my daughters, I try to conduct inventory of the girls’ clothes when they feel they need more, and we go to the second hand stores and look first. My daughters have finally accepted this, and are starting to enjoy the challenge. Now I’m encouraging them to buy a bit roomy so they won’t outgrow so soon, though that process is finally slowing down. My sons don’t care where we shop & let me pick out their stuff whenever possible (I enjoy picking out funky T-shirts), not that they need much. They buy it loose, don’t care much about trendiness, and it lasts.

Driving was also a qualified no today. I took one daughter to the barn for chores–she earns a bit of money for her work, though I explained that I don’t want to spend $5 in gas and 45 minutes driving so she can earn $10. Once this commitment is done, she’ll only work when she’s there to ride also. Then the girls wanted to be driven to the lake for a swim. I said no–I had to finish job applications, and assigned the job to my oldest son, who baulked, until I reasoned with him and reminded him that his being able to use the little Honda was contingent on doing these errands. Then my friend and I both got out of driving our daughters to a sleepover across town and up a mountain, letting the host mom do the job. We’re not a big fan of sleepovers, since they leave the participants wasted the next day, and in my experience the bonding is not usually of a high quality type. I used to say no to them too.

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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Economics, Parenting & Family


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Bereavement can be a gradual thing

Is this a frog in a slowly heating pot scenario? If so, ithat’s not always a bad thing. When there’s a necessity of radical change to avert disaster, such as climate change, the frog dies a stupid death. But if something has to die, if death is coming slowly closer just because it’s natural and inevitable, well then, let’s not have any shocks along the way; let’s splash around, enjoy the view through the beaker glass, and hardly feel those nerves as they cook and shut down.

Sometimes I stand back and observe myself in action, amazed. I putter in the kitchen or garden, joke with one of my kids, get irritated at a mess on the counter, post a photo online, respond to my husband calling, plunk down to chat with him, check to see whether he wants his pain meds on time, rub some essential oil onto his tailbone, all normal-like. There I am, in the moment, as if nothing unusual is going on. I receive visitors and care givers, arrange hospital visits, make up to-do and grocery lists, take my son to drum lessons, and go to bed with my husband at night. We adjust without noticing to an infinitesimally shifted normal each day. It only seems shocking and surreal if we compare our life now to a few short months ago, when my husband weighed sixty pounds more and was concerned with work, the games on TV, the newest iPhone, and trying to get the kids out skiing more, wondering how our oldest was doing in his final year of college. And staying awake to welcome me into bed at night with more than a bony, hand extended hand and a sleepy “I love you” before dropping off to a fitful sleep.

The last few days the neighbors and we have been painting our new shared fence, the one that my husband built last year, with sealer. I’m thankful the neighbor is driving this project—I wouldn’t have had the gumption, but do enjoy seeing the progress and being able to offer our youngest son some paid work. Other projects will be picked up in the wake of this—finishing the top of the new retaining wall my husband built, improving the soil by the fence, and planting some nice shrubs and flowers–some daisies, foxgloves, currant bushes, maybe strawberries to hang down by the hot tub my husband installed less than a year ago. There are the trees to prune, and next year’s…next year’s compost pile to layer up. Berries to freeze for the new year, canning and picking for the future. The future will come, and be full of more ordinary moments. Right?

Things will change soon, though–the water temperature will jump and we’ll feel it. My husband’s body continues to lose the battle to pancreatic cancer, despite his belief that he is getting better. I’m trying to prepare, trying to help the kids, and my husband, prepare, but it’s my first time with this, and I don’t know what I don’t know. I try to learn as much as I can, stay level headed, ’cause that’s what I do, as an Enneagram Type 5, but there’s no way to preview what’s about to happen, when, how quickly, or how each of us–wife, children, parents, siblings, and friends, will go through our grieving process.


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Testing, testing, testing, eight, nine, ten…

What do you think about standardized testing in the life of a homeschool family? Is it:

  • Necessary for the parent, and future teachers, to gain information about their children’s progress?
  • Unnecessary because homeschool parent know their students and have a higher investment in their success?
  • Useful if conducted in an alternative, personalized form?
  • Merely a waste of time and money?
  • Misleading and harmful to students?
  • A necessary evil, since the law requires it and kids will experience testing some day?
  • A travesty of the best educational principles and something to be resisted?

Washington State law says that:

a. Homeschooled students between the ages of 8 and 18 must be annually evaluated using an approved standardized achievement test or a written non-test assessment.
b. Standardized test scores and/or written evaluations are to be kept as part of your child’s permanent records.
c. If your child transfers to a public or private school, copies of tests results are to be provided if requested.

At first I thought nothing of this requirement, nor of the one that I register each child when eight years of age as a homeschooler. One piece of paper to the district, a few days to a week of testing per year, and wouldn’t I get some useful data after all? Personally, I enjoyed standardized tests as a kid. So on a friend’s advice, I ordered Iowa grade school SATs, which could be administered at home by a parent with an undergrad degree.

Over the years I’ve developed a more ambivalent attitude about standardized testing, leaning toward the negative.

Real homeschoolers are very aware of their children’s academic progress and motivated to do their best for and with them. The testing rules are there because some parents have not been responsible. At least I suppose that’s the reason. Or because someone assumed it was a good idea, do make everyone “equal.” Of course it would be relatively easy for a parent to avoid any sort of registration of their children as “school age” at all, and they could stay under the radar and not bother with the rules at all, unless someone ratted on them. But if they take the time to follow testing rules, here’s what can happen:

They can communicate the message to their children, that

  • the common curriculum, with its standardized and graded content, sequence, and omissions, is the proper curriculum
  • multiple choice tests are good for evaluating useful knowledge and skills
  • failure to achieve high test scores is cause for concern

Maybe another reason for tests is that they trick some parents into thinking, because their kids don’t do the state scope and sequence, that they’d better buy the What your –Grader Needs to Know series by E.D.Hirsch and get with the program or their kid will be left behind. No child left behind, right? Behind what? The bandwagon, I guess. So even though school people talk about individualized learning and unique potential, standards are the backbone of the system, because, after all, it’s a more efficient way to run, evaluate, fund, and tweak a machine.

I wanted to test my students at home rather than in a group session to lessen their stress levels and distractions, as well as set a flexible schedule. We set aside a week each spring for testing–some students take only a few days, others space their sessions out over a longer period. I try to set a comfortable pace for each student and one that works for the family. I now order only the test of basic skills, having found the other tests an unnecessary expense of money, time, and energy.

The first time I gave my oldest son his test at age eight, I stressed about it, he stressed about it, even though I knew, and told him, that his test results would not reflect on his intelligence or abilities. He was a late reader, so he struggled with most of the language arts questions, except those I could read aloud to test his vocabulary. He did poorly on reading comprehension until his reading skills took off around age eleven, and the tests before that age did nothing for him but undermine his self confidence. I had to talk him through it, reassuring him that he was plenty smart and the test makers just couldn’t account for differences. I just wanted a general idea of what he did and didn’t yet know. I probably should have let him skip certain sections entirely. I realize now I was being hypocritical telling him it was completely normal that his reading abilities were on a different schedule, yet forcing him to labor through each question as if it was important to get a score. I even checked for errors when he was done and took notes on what he “should” know before the year was out. I remember he had trouble on a social studies question that showed an illustration of a teacher writing on a blackboard and asked what was the job of that person. He had no idea, because he’d never seen a blackboard!

My daughter had an even harder time with testing, and I thought we’d never get through. Although she was an early reader and good speller, she absolutely hated being time tested, and became very upset despite my reassurances. I plied her with hot chocolate, encouraged her to breathe deeply, and hoped that the experience taking a test would help her in the future, in institutional settings where such things were an unfortunate necessity to sort the masses out onto the bell curve.

The math section can be useful, I think, as one can test arithmetic better than other skills. But the kids and I know that there’s not much correlation in the science and social studies questions with our own “scope and sequence.” I didn’t even do any formal US history for the first several years I taught my kids–we studied ancient world history, Asia and the Middle East (including living there for over two years), first. And our science was mainly outdoor observation and drawing, reading together, vegetable gardening, and field trips.

By this time my children know not to stress about the topics we haven’t covered (most of which can be covered in one minute or less for testing purposes, if we were into that), and chuckle at the questions that oversimplify concepts and have to be “dumbed down” to make sense. Or the “cross cultural” elements with which my children weren’t familiar such as the picture of a teacher erasing a blackboard, something my kids had never seen.

We took my kids overseas in the middle of our homeschooling years, and we stayed under the radar there, continuing to homeschool and partake of some of the public schooling there part time. So my younger two had no experience with testing until we got home, and I don’t remember any stress about it–maybe because being home at all was such a treat after those years of trying to figure things out, learning a new language, and being away from our homeschooling buddies and family.

My kids started their first public school at various ages–the oldest as a freshman in high school, the youngest in third grade. Testing in school was even worse. Several weeks long, complete secrecy asked about the test contents, a score printout mailed many weeks later. The teachers privately resented it, but making time and prepping beforehand was all part of one’s duty to make the principal look good. No one mentioned the option to opt out, but we did whenever my kids wanted to, so I probably became known to the local middle school principal mainly as one of those test refusers. Later when returned to teaching, I felt awkward about subbing there.

Then I came on as a longer term sub, and after that started a contract position part time, and later settled into the full time position I have now. I have zipped my lips to be a good employee, too, but I feel exactly the same as I did about the tests. I’m working with homeschoolers now, to many of them know not to take the numbers too seriously, but let things reveal themselves through working with their children and through conversations with us who work with them part time at school. I have to say, we do use our scores to alert us to students who need a closer look, and/or to our methods, materials, and levels of support in math and English language arts. And we watch in amusement as various administrations at various levels shift and swing on quantities, areas, frequencies and uses of standardized tests, trying to please everyone. We conform, but keep our own council about student progress, informed by working closely with them, using tailor-made assessments so we can turn our instruction and support on a dime, and recognize the wonderful variety in learning styles, expressions, and rhythms across each class and grade.


Posted by on July 2, 2018 in Education, Parenting & Family


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Hope for the Holidays

Totally vegged out tonight on episode after episode of “The Office” with my husband and daughter in the cozy living room, by the fire and lit holiday tree. Consuming the entertainment to excess, with chips, dark chocolate, and apple cider. Back of my mind says, still not writing? Answer, don’t have nothing to say. Do–what about what’s going on with school and stuff–that could be something. Or just get one word down after another, maybe prose, maybe a poem. So just before I head off to bed at an appropriate time, though not tired because of the latte I made myself a few episodes ago, and not doing anything to get myself tired–no exercise, no anger or frustration, and very little conflict, I opened up the blog of a writer I know and respect, and there it was, all these layers of experience as a teacher laid out in words, with the passion, the doubt, the questions, the commitment. So I opened up my own blog to get to work.

Swim meet today, watching my youngest son alongside my husband and two of our adult children, also both swimmers, feeling so full, proud, glad, to see youngest part of a team, with every reason to believe he’ll make some new, important friends, gain confidence, experience success, along with all the character lessons the experience will bring. Glad that his siblings are a hundred percent behind him, care about each other, and we can all enjoy being together, with lots of good conversation. Because it’s tough sometimes with us–getting offended and being insensitive being part of us too. Just not today. From yesterday, even, when my daughter, who always comes to the airport, and I picked up our oldest son. No, from last Sunday, when I called him on his birthday and we talked about teaching, learning, social change, philosophy, spirituality, growing up, feelings and thoughts and how they serve and lead us.

Whenever I share stories from my teaching, my son listens with great interest and makes comments that show he really gets why I love teaching, and that he could possibly head that route too, even if it means a pay cut from working in software. Not that he’s had much pay yet, graduation being still five months away and no time to work, being a full time students and college swimmer.

Feeling cautiously optimistic in regards to my second daughter too, who is making a great effort to share with me her plans for a road trip she has decided to take with a friend and two dogs down to Oregon and back. She’s hoping for some extra funds from me, as usual, but asking nicely and providing an itinerary is new. Still, I want to install a cell phone disabling device before she goes, to cut down on temptations to use the phone while driving. Couldn’t get the account to work when I tried it out on the other daughter’s phone, so it’s stuck for now, and when I ask for Daughter Two’s phone to install it there, I dread the conflict it will bring up, as she sees it as overly controlling. She would not be moved by the claim on the package, “if you are opening this box, someone care for you very much.” Still, I am persistent, too.

All these grown children being still pretty connected to us made us finally make the decision to buy a hot tub, hoping it will provide a good place for building community among us (as well as helping out with aches and pains). It comes in five days and there’s a lot to do to get ready–electrical, and laying down the base. I never really wanted one, because I rarely feel like soaking in hot water, but the last year I have wanted just that, a place to get the chill off, the tension out after a log day, and knowing that all six of us have strains and -“itis”es and tightness from this or that condition or injury. Several other families told us it was a blessing for them, bringing members of the family together, and sometimes the kids’ friends around. That’s what we’re hoping. We might even try some of our sons’ role-playing games in there, with a floating tray for rolling dice. It will be cool to look up at the night glory as we float there, get out of my head.


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Posted by on December 17, 2017 in Parenting & Family, Places & Experiences


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Goodbye to the house with no driveway

I went to my bedroom earlier than usual this evening, disappointed over another property I was urged to let go of, and wanting to process this in writing, or maybe just to escape into a Father Brown episode. That kind of repeated disappointment deflates me like balloon. That’s what it felt like to send the email to let our realtor know that I did not need to view it tomorrow after all. Then I cried a little.

The little house, built in 1889 and a half hour’s walk from our current one, was well within our budget, and a potential investment as well as office and getaway/rental. But like the blue vinyl cafe (the one I sort of fell for a few weeks ago), it just isn’t the one for us, apparently, because who wants a house without a driveway, or one where a driveway, if deemed allowable despite the designation of the hillside as critical area, would require a geo-engineer to sign off for permitting?

I say, if the old lady who lived there since the ’60s didn’t need a driveway, that neither do we. I say, I’ll just bike up the hill with the salt, cheese, and coffee, and let the food come from the soil and the henhouse. I like the idea of no driveway–a real paradigm-shifter whose time has come. But banks do not agree, as they have to be concerned with a quick sale should the buyer default on their payments, and partially paved paradise seems to be part of the preferred package.

The house had a bow window facing south with a view of the mountains, overgrown fruit trees, evergreens and bird habitat, all on a third of an acre. Just up from one of our favorite walking streets, for its funky, friendly, neighborly feel and abundance of trees and gardens. My daughter and I dreamed ourselves in it–an office for the business, and she and her older brother living there and keeping it up, and sharing the place with a third roommate to help pay the mortgage. It had a porch nestled up against a pine tree for shelter from the rain and head, for conversations. My daughter lit up when she realized that there, she could have a cat, safe from the Siberian husky we have at home. The house was old, and she hoped it had that “old” smell. The carpets in the downstairs bedrooms were shag in primary colors–in the photos, the south light streaming in the windows onto them made it look like a college party was in progress.

It was not the dream house, not the dream property. Whatever that is, anymore, besides impossible to agree on–too many variables. But I thought, why not just buy something small, a fixer-upper, for casual use and let it appreciate ($30,000 up in assessed value over the four years isn’t bad), knock around the house and property for fun? Seems better than putting more money into an IRA invested in the stock market. Real estate is real. You can plant a garden there, and come in from the rain. Frankly, I don’t believe my mate will ever be ready to take the big step of buying a more expensive place to replace the one we own now. Every time we have come close, he realizes how much risk we’re taking on, when as a contractor, his job could go away next week. Puts a damper on most dreams–a reality check. I get that–I don’t want him to be tied to a commute and high-stress work that he no longer has the heart for, and as a new teacher, I couldn’t afford it on my own.

We all need more space, and the idea of a project (not too big or urgent, or involving living in the garage or under a canopy on the patio–this time) excites us. That blue vinyl-sided house from a few weeks ago could have been an office and rental, even a little coffee house for locals (another dream I had). I’d help the kids at the nearby elementary school with their garden, and buy what they grew for my salad specials, let them meet their math tutors and mentors over home grown mint tea, on the house. There were several outbuildings for workshops and other uses. A finished attic for office space. But its sale was already pending, and it’s one now.

I suppose I can see this process of wanting, planning, dreaming, the letting go as a kind of growth opportunity, or a process to clarify our priorities. So I do, but my priorities haven’t changed, though my circumstances have. I want sunlight, neighbors, a kind of homey, old, Charlie Brown Christmas tree house that I can nurture and not be out-classed by, some land for a garden, space to work with tools and materials, both indoors and outdoors. Room for visitors, this time, would be nice, but with the four kids grown or almost grown, that will be a given most of the time.

I want a kitchen table without a wall looming so close over the table I leave it bare so it won’t look even smaller. I want a house with the TV way out back or downstairs or even in a separate building, not in the living room, the only other place to sit inside other than at the kitchen table (with the wall looming).

So I drink my turmeric tea, listen to the quiet slosh of the dishwasher and some drops of rain splattering from the trees onto the stove vent hood on the roof. The bread is rising for the buns I’ll bake tomorrow for Thanksgiving. My daughter and her friend helped knead while I made up some coleslaw from the two cabbages I cut this week. We’ll drive south to join nine other family members on my husband’s side. There are three new babies in the family, and all my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and mother- and father-in law are well. My parents, brothers, and sisters are all doing okay too, too, though I see them seldom. My husband and four children are healthy, and successfully navigating life. Who’s to say whether I should be wanting anything? Still, next week I’ll call the back and get another pre-approval for a loan, just in case.



These are the people in my neighborhood

I’m so excited that my youngest son is starting his freshman swim season shortly. Lots of happy memories of watching my son and daughter swim, and they did really well, which was a bonus, both going to state all four years. My youngest at first was not planning to swim at all, said he didn’t want to follow in those footsteps. We assured him there were no expectations, and anyway, he was a strong, athletic kid, growing fast, as well as swimming on the summer team, so he could just wait and see. Or do another sport, as long as he was pursuing fitness and had some team experiences.

Since he’s had cataracts and some amblyopia since infancy, his depth perception is probably not good enough for the ball sports, and he seems to have ankle trouble whenever he runs–maybe just growth adjustments plus being out of shape. After seeing some major improvements in swim times this summer, and encouragement from his sibs, he decided to swim in high school after all. The same coach is still heading the team, after several decades, and it will be a good opportunity to get to know a different set of kids, beyond his DND/role playing/computer games set. I’m excited for him, because that boy has some muscle potential, and a pretty good work ethic. It will be an adjustment for me–a good one–to get off work at a reasonable time to see his meets, though I won’t get there early enough to be a timer so I can have front row seats.

I’m also really looking forward to my oldest kid coming home for the holidays (he hopes to work out with his old team with his brother), and after that, back west for longer term. He graduates with his computer science degree and will be looking for work, unless his dad’s contract work picks up and we can take him on. He’s swimming for his college team aain this year, and has managed to get through school with minimum debt and, last I heard, plans to rent an apartment, whether locally or in the big city depends on work.

My younger daughter has landed her first job, working at a clothing retailer in the mall. She’s pretty pleased, and I’m sure can pull off being a fashion sales clerk as I never could (I’d be sending customers to good will). She’s also working on her tennis game with her dad, getting ready for the spring season. We’re planning on visiting colleges in the coming year–she’d had so many shifts in interests over the last few years, I can’t be sure what she wants to study, except that it will be something that will get her a well-paying job and she can stay active.

My older daughter feels like she has too much time on her hands. She’s had the promise of another job, but the supervisor just never gets around to getting her set up on the schedule, so she’s getting discouraged. She’s also not connected with many friends locally yet, and the sister company is a little rocky at times. She’s looking forward to starting at the local college in the new year, though, where she’ll major in Community Health & minor in Spanish. She’s such good company, so her being based at home will be sweet.

My husband is in that season where he’s made a good deal of money from his contract, but is getting fed up with the politics of his team, and tired of the long commute. He’d hoped to be able to work from home more, but there’s been push back. So he’ll probably give them an ultimatum at some point, and accept the result either way. I have encouraging him to get at some of the studies he’s been interested in, or even looking into the possibility of about teaching, as he’s good at that. Since he’s willing to take a cut in pay for quality of life, it seems like a good option. But he’s been a high level contractor for a lot of years, and it would be a real change.

As for me, I love teaching, but put out some queries in my own district and plan to do whatever I can to find a comparable or better position here, though hit will mean less job security. My current position was a continuing one from the start, but the local district, I think, only commits to one year at first. I’d also like to buy a small house to fix up, as an investment, possible rental/home for one of our kids if they stay, and office space for our business and my creative pursuits. My husband is not convinced. I think it’s t least as good an idea as sinking more money into the stock market.

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Posted by on November 4, 2017 in Parenting & Family