I love my home state   Leave a comment

It took me a few years of living here, but as I was driving home down an amazingly beautiful rural road last night, with the summer sun slanting toward me from the west, I realized that I absolutely loved the scenery and the place I was driving through.

I was returning from a gathering out in the sticks, where there was absolutely no road noise and almost no cars moving through.  I started back from a tiny community at a cross roads.  After passing over a low bridge and full creek, I drove across flat creek flood plains with fields, up wooded valleys, around curves, amongst houses and farms, through trees.  I realized how beautiful Kentucky is, and in tandem with that realization, I knew that, finally, this is my home.  It must be now–otherwise, this girl who loves the west and the wide open spaces would not react this way.

The light, the green, the trees, the horses with their tails swishing, the old tobacco barns and pastures along the way, the smell of the air at the end of a summer day.

No billboards.  No big box stores.  No gas stations, even.

It was an undesignated scenic drive–the best kind.

Posted June 26, 2017 by swanatbagend in travel journal

Tagged with ,

Our New Math   1 comment

Monthly Master’s Conservatory tuition for two= $90

Gas money for a season of driving to practice and tech week(s) =not sure but maybe a couple hundred

Costume rental= $75

Odds and ends from Amazon to add to costumes= $30

Time compiling costume components= 10 hours

Time spent ironing costume components= 1 hour

Time kids spent at rehearsal between May 15 and May 29=
50 hours

Time mom and kids spent in the car or carpooling last two weeks= 12 hours

Free time for kids during two tech weeks= a few hours each morning

Free time for mom during two tech weeks= free time?

Last minute costume changes and additional details= at least five

Tech week meltdowns= one

Seeing my husband not recognize his own son for a few seconds after he appeared on stage. Make-up and costume can do wonders= magical.

Watching the story of Beauty and the Beast brought to life= magical. Don’t need any CG here, people.

Seeing my 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter waltzing with each other in “Human Again”= priceless

Tech week meltdown defused by older sister with experience, advice and hugs= priceless

Over months of practice, observing my daughter make peace with the role she was given, make it her own, and make it amazing= priceless

Seeing my gentle, peaceful daughter doing all her own stunts as the enchantress, a silly girl and the wolf who leaps on Belle= priceless

Hearing my 13-year-old son on the autism spectrum “put on” the bad guy and dance and sing his very own musical lines as Monsieur D’Arque= totally and completely priceless

A Case-Load of Emotions   1 comment

That is, a wide variety of emotions crammed into one short suitcase–and one short weekend.

My oldest child graduated from college on Sunday and became a man–no wait, of course, he was already a man and has been a legal adult for some years now.  Graduating from a Big 10 school in an immense stadium with tens of thousands of other people on hand seemed to put the wax seal on it, though.

I was surprised and delighted by the symmetry of the family who attended the ceremony.  Of my husband’s three living brothers all three attended, at no small distance either, one set of aunt and uncle from Indiana, one from Michigan and one from Montana.  I never dreamed they would all come all that way, and my son’s 86-year old grandmother as well.  So we had a full house (actually apartment) from his dad’s side of the family and it made me very happy.

We overpowered the living space in my son’s apartment, while his very tolerant roommate continued to game online at the table and there was a huge family catch up, which included the exchange of various family heirlooms an uncle had found in his basement and brought to distribute.  I went out to pick up groceries and the sushi order, and Dad and an uncle went out to get pizza for everyone.

Then we had to shoo them out so our son could go to bed! I wrapped up the lunches for the morrow’s long ceremony and got them ready to load up in the morning.

We had breakfast at the hotel as various sleepy family members arrived including the man of the hour–catching up–checking in–and attempting to come up with a plan for where to sit at the stadium.  Turns out we didn’t really come up with a plan, which led to quite a journey for the rest of the party attempting to enter the other side of the stadium from where I had managed, with the help of a family sitting the next row up, to save almost enough seats for our party of twelve.  But we did A) successfully get the graduate to his assembly location for his college in time for him to make it to his own commencement and B) get the family in the stadium before he actually filed back down across the field after the speeches, amidst thousands of others, to receive his diploma, and there was rejoicing despite the discomfort of the bleachers, so I would call it a success.

Earlier that day, in preparation, I drove my son back from the hotel to his apartment so he could don his regalia.  While he was getting himself assorted I actually had time to un-snap and roll out the tablecloth and spread out the wonderful insect-themed plates and napkins I had picked for the after-graduation party, and put out the glass platters and dishes I had brought along for the goodies.  We made it maybe half way to his meet-up location on campus before getting hopelessly bogged down in westward moving traffic and being told by gesturing official looking people that we must veer south.  I dropped my son off in the parking lot near the pedestrian bridge over the river, told him I would see him later, and watched him proceed up the curve of the bridge with the sunlight glancing down into my eyes, turning things golden.

That memory of his college graduation stands out like a snapshot.

After we wrapped up the party that evening, cleared the food and plates out, and packed up the last of his belongings, he turned in his keys, and took his immediate family, grandmother, and remaining uncle and aunt to the lab where he’s been doing research with termites for the last two years.

We saw the termites in the clear cases crawling around, and some lovely bees at the hives in back of the lab.

I see him sitting on the couch with the children of some good friends, talking animatedly with a fellow student about music, waiting for all of us at our appointed post-ceremony meeting spot near the shuttle pick up, hugging his aunts and uncles as they poured in to his apartment.

I remember reading a book in the bathroom at 2 a.m. the night before to pass the time because I couldn’t sleep.

I remember the warm hugs of family, the singing of the national anthem while watching an immense flag be raised at the ceremony, the joy and grief that welled up in my heart as I remembered all the other days that came before.

I don’t know what memories my husband and mother-in-law and son will carry away from this weekend. But I do know for me–they are unforgettable.

 

Posted May 31, 2017 by swanatbagend in transitions

Co-Dependent   Leave a comment

The trouble with people is two simultaneous facts.

One: You can’t live with them.

Two: You can’t live without them.

Ever notice this?

You are a human being so by definition you are interdependent with other humans.  You are a part of a culture and civilization on a broader level, and you are part of a family, community, non-profit, neighborhood, something.

Closer in, you rely on your family and close friends.  You are counting on them to be who they are and to do what they do that keeps your world running.  Reliance.  That’s what you do in reference to those you spend most of your time with.  If you don’t believe me, imagine your life without the people you live and work with.  Of course (you probably notice this more often) others also rely on you.

You have chosen to commit in love or friendship to those who are closest to you; at the same time that you rely on them, they do not belong to you.  They are their own.  You cannot command them and demand their love and care.

What they chose to give you is what you may have of them.

They are not required to be what you want them to be.

They do not have to do what you think they should do.

They are not yours to command, but they are yours to love.

 

 

Posted April 12, 2017 by swanatbagend in relationships

Tagged with , , ,

Kids, I Promise   Leave a comment

I really am attending to your statements that I need to not hover so much.

Just like Princess Atta in A Bug’s Life, I have a tendency to overdo and overanalyze and over advise my children.  So when they literally say, “I can’t count when ya hover like that!” I know what they want.

I really truly honestly I promise am learning to honor their need to do it themselves.

I promise I am listening.  I often think of something I could say–but I don’t.  I could have done something for you that you didn’t need help with–but I didn’t.  I stop to evaluate whether my instantaneous reaction to a problem is really the best thing to do–and I hold back.

Thanks for telling me.  I am getting better.

Posted March 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in parenting

Tagged with ,

Download   Leave a comment

I am working on re-organizing the school supplies in my front room. It always been the room where books, toys, games, teacher’s manuals, textbooks, math workbooks and all have been kept.  Plus, there’s a worn blue loveseat we always sit on to read or go through problems together, a chair with a footstool and a table with a desk lamp where we pile up the day’s/week’s materials or crafts, puzzles or projects.  OK, not that many crafts really if I’m honest.

Life has been so full for the past ten years I can’t remember the last time I really purged materials.  I haven’t had the time or the energy to do so.

But, this winter, I have felt the desire to download and re-arrange gradually coming over me.  My youngest is 12 years old.  I know that I won’t be using the kindergarten books again.  I don’t need all the fun science books we used when the kids were little.  Yes, I do plan to keep many of the best toys.  The bins of cars and trucks, the Playmobil animals, the marble run–these are permanent fixtures because we have younger company often enough that they get lots of use.

For that matter, I will probably keep the marble run until they take me to the nursing home.  I love that thing.  The wooden marble dropper too; it’s a stress reliever in the guise of a children’s toy.  You drop a marble in the top bowl and it rolls around, dropping into a lower colored bowl, and so on down six times with the most peaceful noise of marble on wood.

But realistically I see that I am not going to need all the art supplies, the puzzles and the books we have used over the years of homeschooling.

And facing that is harder than I thought it would be.  I actually found myself thinking that perhaps I should save all the historical fiction and read-alouds from our curriculum because I could end up homeschooling someone else’s children.

No offense, self, but barring a miracle that is utter nonsense!

So–realistically I must accept that the time has come to change the look of the school room.  I want to move my computer desk there, where I can enjoy the beautiful curtains and the great morning sunlight through the bay window.  My office can be there when the kids are all grown.  It’s a good thing to contemplate having time and space to do some more writing, research, advocacy and–who knows what else?

It’s still incredibly difficult to box up books.  It’s a life, it’s a season, but it’s a season I’ve been living for many years.

And I don’t want to let it go.

Posted March 13, 2017 by swanatbagend in homeschooling, transitions

Tagged with , , ,

Ordinary Day   Leave a comment

On any given normal day, I don’t think much about how normal it is.  I don’t think about the responsibilities I normally have or the tasks I complete, maybe not even about the people I know I can expect to see.

But after I get back from vacation?  or recover from a really bad cold?  or pass through a crisis of some sort?

Then, normal starts to look pretty good.  It starts to look like something downright amazing.

If I live a day of my life, and there’s no aches and pains in it, no illness, no coughing, itching, gagging or fever, it is a pleasant thing.

A day without hassles. One without arguments.  One without overdue bills, fender benders, or speeding tickets.  One without hospital stays, illness, rehabilitation, therapy…a day without death, tears, anguish, or heartbreak.

an ordinary day.

If I have ordinary, it is a gift.

Posted March 9, 2017 by swanatbagend in gratitude

Tagged with ,