The end of the school year

Yesterday was the last day of school for everyone. I was so excited (before covid) all the kids would be off for my birthday. The weekend is Memorial Day weekend! Back in January, this was an excellent time to anticipate.

I haven’t shared much how our quarantine schooling was going mainly because we were in the thick of it and some days were really hard.

We started out strong with high hopes. Sami, especially in those first few weeks spent hours on the computer, doing assignments trying to make things feel normal. We then got the message from the middle school that none of the work counted. Do the work, they said for your own edification, but you will be getting a P for pass no matter what. This was not super motivating for Sami. I understand why they did it. Not everybody has internet, not everybody has a computer. They are not set up for remote learning. I get it. It just was sucky.

Abby too did what she knew to do, although it was tricky to move the last few weeks of high school to an online format, we survived and will pick up her diploma next week.

Everett’s school already has an online platform that was widely used through the school so the transition was not as hard as the others.

Caleb did college online, used his siblings for film assignments and ended up finishing strong.

The younger three were trickier. Will’s prek class met daily at noon with songs and alphabet for a half an hour and he got a whole lot of play and let’s be honest, Jake and the Neverland pirate time.

Gg is one of those kids who learns with ease and will research bugs online for fun.

Sarabeth struggles. She is definitely a kid that thrives with other kids, gets her energy renewed by being with others. She struggled when we were actual homeschoolers and we struggled again in quarantine school.

We made it through and I think overall we did okay with what we had. With our ninja gyms shut down, track canceled and zero hangouts with friends, we had to be together. All of us.

It left me with questions.

Here are some questions that I really am pondering, maybe you’re pondering some of these things too:

1. What have we learned about technology and its uses/applications in our lives? Are we further along than we were 10 years ago in how to use it for good?

2. Do my kids know how to obtain good information? Can they discern what is real and what is fake on the internet? So many voices, so many people claiming authority and coming to different conclusions. What clues do we have to tell what is true?

3. How do we conduct a good search with the technology we have at our fingertips?

4. What is important for us to learn now in 2020? What should we add to our educational goals? What should we delete?

Many of us do not have the capability/bandwidth/time to answer these questions. In looking at next year, I don’t want to quarantine school again. Homeschooling, I could do. It has its own set of challenges, but we could learn some things that matter to us like cooking and budgeting and computer skills.

Will we do it for sure? Undetermined. Like any year, we take the needs of the kids, parents, family as a whole, look what is available, and decide what is best for that year. This year, there is a lot more factors to consider. I want things to be better for my kids, for the community, for the kids without internet, for the future.

Summer mode is on. My hopes of afternoons at the pool may not be realized this summer. Getting the kids to do summer reading, and keeping up with math skills could be an arduous journey.

We need to do something totally different for the summer.

Ideas welcome!

2002 baby

When you were a baby, I would hold you long after you were done feeding.

I loved to hold you, and would just stare at you.

Then you grew a little taller, and you had no time for me to just hold you,

you were a joyful baby, talking, laughing, playing with your older brother.

Then you became a preschooler and were so interested in the things and people around you.  You loved birthday parties, even from the very start, wanting to stay longer and make sure we got all the parts, the cake, the presents, the games.

And then school. You loved being with the other kids, loved the structure, loved the smell of the pencils and paper and books and school parties.

We then homeschooled and it was disappointing to you

you made the best of it, though, striving to excel through your daily work

and then the ballet and gymnastics, tumbling, youth group

the singing lessons and acting school, cheerleading

the friends and playdates and swimming and long summer days

Things changed for us when we moved.

You started high school and were ready to take it on

senate, and cheer, and honors classes

dances and games and proms

friends and new friends, jobs and outings

volunteering

you filled your days with self discovery

I know there are hurts and pain you keep from me

I know the years were not easy on you

but you made the best of it

you went to Panama

and now your senior year,

the last months that are supposed to be filled

with shopping for prom dresses and laughter’

looking forward to final high school days with friends

instead, we wait

we see our community get shut down

we hear about sickness and death

and it is scary and sad and uncertain.

Here is what I know

the baby that I held almost 18 years ago

has come so far, learning so much, being so much

loving so much, some because of me, some in spite of me

You have made a beautiful life

and although this part does not make sense and is unfair,

here is what I know

you will make it beautiful and full of love

and something that is just your own

you will share your goodness and your story

and we will all be better for it

I am sad and happy and proud and expectant

of this wonderful life you will make

 

 

 

 

even if

May I please implore you who reads this?

Please, if you know a young person, teenager, young adult–if you have one of these special people in your home, or in your life, a friend, student, neighbor, niece, nephew, employee–whatever–please reach out to them,

Even if they don’t want you to,

Even if they look different than you,

Even if they drink, smoke, smell or worse,

These kids need checking in on. A simple hello, how are you, what’s up.

Sometimes the tragedy cannot be prevented,

but sometimes it could.

Ask what you’re afraid to ask and be there.

Even if it’s uncomfortable,

Even if it’s inconvenient,

Even if you don’t understand.

We can be present.

We don’t have to have all the answers.

Lives continue to be at stake and when we lose, we lose forever.

More of a reader

I’ve been more of a reader these past few months than a writer. I stare at a blank screen almost every time I go to write and the words do not come. Usually they do, they used to, but presently, the words have been stuck somewhere in me and I can’t locate them.

Everything I write feels so cringeworthy. Reading my old blog posts feels so cringeworthy. I love writing, it is the thing that gives me life, but also I hate it when it fails me, or I it.

The books have been a healing of sort, a community, friends that come and fill the parts of my soul that need a story: interesting, true, happy, sad, epic and beautiful.

And I sit on the very beginning of a new year and hope for a better one. I am not into resolutions anymore and yet, I am hopeful. Hopeful for an abundant, happy, moving forward year.

When a mom in Abby’s 1st grade class realized that her class would be graduating in 2020, she made the 1st graders an end of the year cake iced in big letters and numbers reading “class of 2020”. We all laughed and shared how clever this mom was to put that together and make the cake, not believing for one second that we would actually get there. It was 2008-2009 for reals and 2020 might as well been 2090 for all we knew. I had 5 kids ages 9 and under in June of 2009 and one was 5 months old and I wasn’t sure I was going to get home, let alone 2020.

Yet, we are here, ending 2019, beginning 2020 with all its fireworks and fun and a little remembering and forgetting is in order.

2019 was hard and wonderful.

We bought a beautiful house with an amazing view of the city and mountains.

Our oldest graduated from high school and got into his dream film school.

My husband directed a short film.

Abby spent 6 weeks in Panama. We literally celebrated her 17th birthday without her.

We swam a lot during the summer.

We announced to the world that our kiddo is transgender and we are loving him and supporting him no matter what.

We have four teenagers living in our house that are also our children.

We have three teenage drivers

We have a wonderful 4 year old boy that I love dearly and am pretty sure if he had been my first, he may have been my only. (Think of a kid that has no fear and wants to run and play ALL the time)

We have a world ninja champion.

Also a middle schooler (same person as above).

After 20 plus years of going to church every Sunday, we have taken a needed respite.

I took my RD exam again and failed.

It was a good, necessary year.

One I’m happy that it happened and also happy to see it go.

Lots of loss and lots of pain, lots of lessons learned and memories made.

And back to the writing. I am learning to put the words down (again). Perhaps inspiration will revive. The biggest lesson of all has been to be a participant in my life and truly LIVE with all the insecurities and unknowns, that is just actual life and I’m not going to let it pass without a song, a dance and a fight.

remember

I wish I could remember that my deodorant is low or the dishwasher needs soap or that I have to cook again tomorrow night’s dinner (again).

I can’t do spaghetti again.

I was at the store today, I got the presents. Not wrapped or under the tree. Did I remember everyone?

I wish I could go back to the pews and sit and stand and sing and smile. The way I used to before. They didn’t kick me out, I just knew it was a lie to stay.

A long time of Christmas Eve services, always there for baby Jesus and the coffee and cream and hot cocoa and good cheer.

Now.

It is different.

The smiles, the service, the pats on the back.

The quiet words of disapproval, disappointment, disconnected, disbelief.

It is all the same.

same menu.

I call out for you Jesus.

You who I need and worship and confess to and long for.

You who reached for me at my desperate cries and despair in my grief and loss and fear and spoke

I AM.

You said you are here for me and you are.

The people are precious and the people are mine, but the people are just people.

You said

Do not be afraid

And I’m not anymore.

The candy-land game board and the messy counter and the unaffordable haircut and the unattainable friend.

You say

I am here

I’m not leaving

I’ve got you

And you do

I believe

In this changed syllabus

I believe.

Miracles (fear no more)

I walked many moons

partially a person, partially not

Will this pass

as mama said it would?

Breathing: difficult.

Pressure: no relief.

It is me who requires the acceptance of losses and celebrations of wins:

Survival.

I gain a new fashion falling at my hips and draping loosely down my legs.

my clothing size is not different

Yet

I shed the heavy sweaters I was wearing:

Lightness.

I continue with a full closet

Many things are hanging off hangers

No place, but still needed

Stacked in piles

It must remain

I am not scared of it anymore

The sun is shining through the tiny closet windows

The Light that I long for is glistening,

urging me:

Embrace me

Fear has lifted

longing for the past departs

The miracle was here,

is here, is now, is to come.

food at room temperature

My sister and I went swimming one particularly warm Thanksgiving day in our hometown of Tucson. I was 8 or 9, maybe 10. We were so proud of ourselves, in our swimsuits, splashing each other in the cool water of my Aunt’s apartment building swimming pool. I do not remember much else about that Thanksgiving, including the food. I do not remember even why we went to my Aunt’s as opposed to my parents hosting as they normally did.

Did we have turkey and stuffing? It is very likely the women of the family (in the  1980s and the men were not quite with the times of cooking or doing dishes yet) were bustling around the kitchen making sure that all the traditional dishes were there and accounted for. Were they hot? Did we eat off of paper plates? Was the turkey dry? I do not know any of those things. And I am positive at 10 or whatever age I was on that particular Thanksgiving, I did not care about any of those things.

I kept this in mind as my family hosted Thanksgiving this year. We do not always have lots of family around as most all our parents and siblings are spread about the US. This year, however, 2019, we had family from out of town and in town and also friends and the people count was at 17.  A number much less impressive when you remember that 9 of the 17 account for my husband and children. The idea of the dishes possibly being hot all at the same time for people to serve themselves is baffling.  Room temperature food finds our green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole. The turkey, gravy, and stuffing were served warm.

But it didn’t matter, especially to the kids.

Dishes piled up in the last few moments of serving the food. I needed the sink to drain the macaroni. People were in and out of the kitchen with their drinks, their stories and their laughs. Everett’s school friend called. He was stuck in the snow at the beginning of our neighborhood. Everett and Bill went to help him up the hill as the turkey waited to be carved and the gravy needed to be made. Once back inside, the older kids teased the younger kids as to who would sit where. Finally, everything was ready. The food, some hot, some not, relieved our hunger. Will lasted about 5 minutes at the table.

“Come play outside,” he begged his aunt who just started to eat.

GG had a game planned for everyone after the meal. One that everyone smiles as the 7 year old tries to organize our vast spanning generations.

Scattered memories of Thanksgiving past. I wish I had talked with my grandparents more. We had both my mom’s parents and my dad’s parents in Tucson. Almost every Thanksgiving, we were together. My memories are also of lots of food and even more dishes. Fretting over the turkey, is it unfrozen, is it done, is it dry? Conversations filling the house, political views, varied and wide.

This year, our kids played in the snow Thanksgiving morning. Scant on the snow clothes as the younger kids finally outgrew the older kids hand me downs. They did not care, however, tennis shoes, jackets, double layered pants were piled on. We knew the 3 inches of snow would only last the day.

Swimming pools or snow, hot food or not, it was a good day.

**Please note: if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, I have archived all my content from August 2016-October 2019. It was time to move forward. It has been a beautiful, growing time and I feel like we are entering a new time of our lives. The future, as futures are,  filled with many uncertainties, but also hope.

Here’s to upcoming hope and help, kindness and understanding, to new and exciting adventures and snow and swimming on holidays!