Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Job of Finding Yourself

Lately my mind has been in overdrive over so many different things. Some subjects I'm willing to discuss and share and others not so much. I feel like my life is slowly starting to change into something other than what it has been for the last 10 - 15 years. I am sure that many other mothers are going through this as well. The past 24 years I have primarily been a mom and wife, with a few different outside of the home jobs occasionally mixed in. Our oldest moved out over two years ago, bought himself a house and pretty much lives his new life. I know that is the way it is supposed to work, but it is still hard letting go and not being a part of his daily life. If I'm real honest sometimes not even part of his weekly life. Soon my teenage daughter will follow in that same path. Maybe off to college, maybe moving out to live with friends and work, maybe even finding that one true love that she will marry and start a family. All of these things are great but also kind of terrifying to me. Parts of me dread the day when I no longer have a child to homeschool or live under our roof, seeking guidance from me, etc. I am almost afraid of saying these things out loud. Other parents seem to navigate these waters with little trouble, but I have nearly a 16 year old and I am already dreading the coming days of another child's lack of need for my input or care. Don't get me wrong - I know my children love me and will always be there for me, but it is different as they grow up.

As a parent heading toward a completely empty nest that is on the cusp of having to redefine what my whole purpose in life is - well, quite frankly it is giving me great pause. Who am I kidding, more like making me want to jump out of my own skin. This Christmas break from homeschooling, Cooperative, and tutoring has given me a slight glimpse into what that world may look like for me - it isn't pretty folks! I didn't like it. What am I going to do with my life? With all that time on hands every day. It brings me back to being a senior in high school and everyone asking "What do you want to do with your life?" "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Only now I am having to answer all these questions at the ripe old age of 48. I'm hoping and praying that God will give me some kind of guidance as to what direction my life needs to go so that when the empty nest does arrive, I will be prepared and able to cope. Maybe I'm just having a mid-life crisis. If so, I would like it to go away now and never come back! Is this what getting older feels like? Am I over thinking all of this too much? Who am I after I am no longer a child raising mother? These are questions I will definitely need to answer in the years to come. The one calming thought that keeps entering my mind is that millions of mothers have gone on this same adventure before me and gone through the same feelings as I and came through it in the end.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Summed Up in One Word - Games

If I had to pick one word to sum up this Christmas, it would probably be games. Every gathering found us playing games.  On Christmas Eve I hosted a little get together of finger foods and games. I'm thinking of making this a tradition. We played the right left Twas the Night Before Christmas gift games, Apples to Apples, and our beloved card game of Nertz.

Christmas Day we were at my parents house. Again we played games after eating and opening gifts. The kids always search for the hidden pickle ornament followed by the clothes pin game. This year we tried things a little differently by playing Bingo and my sister had this crazy drawing game (see picture below). We had to draw a Christmas scene while holding the paper plate on our head.

Every Christmas we see which Christmas present is going to make my mother cry. This year that award went to Grace. She picked out a silver necklace with a small elephant charm. Normally you wouldn't think this would be worth much crying material but the back story is the fact that my mom's sister, who passed away from breast cancer about five years ago, collected and loved elephants. When Grace saw the necklace at Kohl's she immediately thought of Aunt Linda and wanted to get it for her grandmother.

This brings us to last night. For two years Grace and myself was involved with a traveling drama ministry group titled Acts of Faith. Lots of great memories with this group and love these kids like they were my own. Our founding leader moved back in May and she wanted to get as many of us together as possible to eat, play some games, and then go watch the Hobbit. So again a Christmas gathering with games. This time Mafia and Assassin (not as violent as it sounds).

You would think even after all this game playing we would be tired of it all, but every night for the last three nights you would have found me, Scott, and Grace at the kitchen table playing 2 - 3 hour games of Nertz.

Friday, December 26, 2014

When Christmas Doesn't Feel Like Christmas

The past two Christmas seasons have been odd for me. I do all the "stuff" that all other families are doing for Christmas, like parties, gatherings, performances - but Christmas just doesn't feel like it used to for me. I feel like I am just going through the motions. I think I know what it is going on, but it is still hard for me to adjust.
First off, I don't have young children any longer to purchase toys or play Santa. One child is nearly 25 and living on his own. The other is about to turn 16. Without young kids in the house it just isn't the same. A couple of years ago we started the tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve because quite frankly no one wanted to wake up early on Christmas morning and do it.
Second reason I think it didn't feel like Christmas this year is that we are not plugged in to a church family at the moment. The last 20 years has seen us going to candlelight services and the kids performing in Christmas plays, etc. at church - not this year. We are still trying to figure out where we belong at this point and it bleeds over into everything, including Christmas.
Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy being with my family and friends. We love to play games and just spend time together. The gatherings are great, but the Christmas Spirit so to speak wasn't with me and I miss it!

Monday, December 22, 2014

What Is It About The Holiday and Deep Cleaning

It seems that every year when the holidays roll around I want to do deep cleaning. You always hear about "Spring cleaning", but I think we need a term for this time of the year. Maybe "Christmas cleaning". Usually it doesn't hit me until the day after Christmas. There is all the unwrapped presents under the tree, presents you have to lug home from the family gathering, etc.  I have to admit that a lot of years I would simply come home from the family gathering on Christmas day and take down the tree and decorations. Like needing the house to be decluttered is the only thing I can think about. 

This year it has hit me a little early. Yesterday I cleaned out our walk in attic space. It was in dire need. Nothing else could be pushed in there to store, so I knew it was time. After 4 hours of sorting I had six trash bags to put outside. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment. I also cleaned out all the cabinets in the master bath. 

I have to admit that some of this new found wanting of clearing "stuff" out of my home has been brought on by the book The 7 Experiment. Some of the challenges she undertook are not for me, but I do see a lot of "excess" in our lives that need to be handled and not to replace the items that leave with new ones. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Willy Wonka/Christmas Party

We finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a few days ago. I try to plan something special at the end of each book that we finish. The end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory happened to coincide with our last day before Christmas break. So we decided to have a fun day.

We decorated cookies.

Other than history I let Grace have the day off as well and come upstairs to have fund with us.

The littles first filled out a book report form then followed a step by step tutorial to draw Santa. That is the first picture up above. They did an awesome job.

We also watched the original version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to compare to the book. After the movie we did a little hand sewing of snowflake fairies that could be hung as an ornament. I neglected to take a picture of them.
We started our next literature unit this week and it is Black Beauty. The girls are also going to work their way through a horse unit study. The end of Black Beauty will find us going on a field trip to ride horses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Funny To Share

A little backstory as to why this is so funny to us. Puppy is a stick fanatic and she is a Poodle to boot. Every time Scott goes out to work in the yard puppy is tearing down the door to get out there so that he will throw her sticks to chase. Our backyard is always littered with piles and piles of sticks. It has gotten so bad that during the day Puppy will not go down in the yard to do her business unless you throw a stick first for her to chase. Right outside our door is a container full of collected sticks just for that purpose.
Scott was going through some old newspapers last night to start a fire in the wood stove and he found the above comic. Stick on a stick for sale to dogs and a Poodle is the first in line. It was just hilarious to us.
Here is the culprit herself waiting at the fence line for Scott to throw her a stick.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Would You Like an Encouraging Evening With Some Wonderful Ladies

If you are local to me you might want to consider visiting this link and reading about The Little Farm Retreats. I just attended my second retreat last weekend. This is hosted by my close friend Amy and she is just the best at welcoming you into her home and feeling like you have been friends forever.

I think her plan is to do a retreat every other month, but don't quote me on that. So far that is how it has worked out on the calendar. Her house is so inviting. Great friends old and new, crafting, festive food, and lots of coffee.

Love this woman to pieces and can't wait for the next gathering. If you are local to this area and would like to join in on the fun send a message to her on Facebook - Little Farm Diary and see about getting on the invite list.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Owl Unit Study

My "littles" really took my at my word. The past couple of weeks we did a short study about owls. I asked them to chose an owl species and do a project for me. Not just any project but something that would wow me. They did a great job. One of my students has been out sick for 4 weeks and I know she has already finished her project as well. So I am eager to see hers next week when she returns.

The creativity was just incredible. Of course this is a Tawny Owl and the girls named her Brittany.

This guy is a Snowy Owl and was lovingly named Alvin.

They did presentations in front of me, Scott, and Grace. They were a little nervous in the beginning but warmed up to it as they went along.

Last week they also dissected owl pellets. I chose to do the synthesized pellets instead of real ones. No muss, no fuss. The girls enjoyed most putting the skeletons back together. Once dissected we had a bird skeleton and a mole skeleton. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tis the Season

A whirlwind of activities have transpired since Friday and I really don't see it slowing down. Of course Friday night was the big Christmas performance at the Cooperative. A wonderful start to the holiday season. Saturday we traveled to see a Christmas parade that didn't really happen because of the weather. Sunday Grace was gone all day with a friend while I tackled my "to do" list. Monday we went off with our son and his girlfriend to Lake Lanier Lights to see the Christmas lights and other activities. Today I auditioned 27 kids for Peter Pan which will be performed in April.
This Friday night we go to watch a play and then some Christmas shopping on Sunday while Tuesday is moving day for the Cooperative. There are a few days of rest in between, but not many. No real break in sight until we actually break for the Christmas holidays.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Creative Christian Cooperative Christmas Program

This Cooperative has been one of the best things I have ever been involved. We are finishing up our third year as an extended fine arts cooperative and last night's program could not have been better. Sixty students are involved in our cooperative with about 35 participating last night in the end of the semester Christmas Extravaganza. I really could not be prouder. They were wonderful. This was my first go at directing the drama production, with the help of my co-director since my main drama teacher had moved away. She came last night to the performance and thought it was wonderful. That is like getting the golden seal of approval. So I was a very happy camper. You may ask, "Why in the world are there tarps under the choirs that are singing"? Well, they were performing a very creative song about baking a fruitcake and every ingredient that was mentioned was thrown onto the floor.

This was probably my favorite skit. Santa's Pop Quiz was a young girl quizzing Santa and just giving him a hard time. You don't figure out until the end of the skit that it is his daughter getting him ready to answer other kids questions about Santa while collecting money on the street for charity.

I love each and every one of these kids. Most times I treat them like my own. Some of the older kids I have know for years and a few just for the last 2 years. Doesn't matter. I love them all the same and look so forward to working with them each and every Tuesday that we meet.

Here is Grace with two of her closest friends at Co-op. Grace was in the Two Elves skit that told a lot of short jokes. They also manned the ticket table for me. All the funds collected at last night's event will go to building us a new stage in our new location starting in January.

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Grace on stage in her skit, but being a director and stage hand for the whole program kind of limited me to when I could go and take a picture.

This was Girls Ensemble singing in between skits. I am looking most forward to Grace being a part of this group starting in January.

The Cooperative also had the end of the semester art shows for high school art, elementary art, and the Keepers and Contenders Class. I think it would be safe to say that we had at least 200 people in attendance last night.

I can't say enough about how wonderful a night it was. Also a great big thanks to my teachers, families, and students for helping us pull off this fantastic night. This program really helped to kick of the Christmas Season and hopefully bring a little joy to everyone's life. I know it sure did for me!

Friday, December 5, 2014

What Kept Me Occuppied Over the Past Month

To be honest with you - lots kept me occupied and busy. Family, friends, Christmas shopping, Cooperative business, tutoring three 5th graders, helping another family with math tutoring, homeschooling, and keeping up with a busy teenager. If we are talking what kept me busy in the social media arena that would be Instagram. I love Instagram. It's fast, quick, and easy. An online friend mentioned once that just like "video killed the radio star", we could also say that "Instagram is giving the blogging world a run for it's money. The feedback on Instragram is so much quicker than blogging and many more people are more prone to comment than they would on blogs. So I guess now that I am blogging again it will just be the best of both worlds. Here is my Instagram account if you would like to follow me.

In the past I blogged 3-5 times a week and this time you may see me blogging on 2-4 a week. I guess it just depends on what kind of creative juices are flowing that week, and quite frankly how many other things I have on my plate. Taking a month off from blogging was freeing, but there were many times I was at an event, etc. where I thought "This would make a great blog post", then slowly remember that hey I wasn't supposed to be blogging anymore.

So no promises - we will just see how it all goes. I will be talking more about "the littles" that I tutor three days and week and Cooperative events. Now that Grace is older she isn't too fond of sharing her teenage life with the world - I really can't blame her. I will continue to share her art work. I will leave you with a little Christmas cheer from Grace.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Well Guys - Never Say Never

I truly had no intentions of blogging again, but sometimes opportunities get put in front of you that you just can't overlook. I was offered the opportunity to continue reviewing educational products again only this time mostly with the three students I tutor three days awake which will give Grace a break for a while. She is currently overloaded with high school work. Sooooo it looks like I will be blogging again. More than just educational review of course.

To catch you guys up, our family has been very busy. The next three weeks aren't any better. I believe we have something scheduled nearly every day including weekends. Tis the season, right?! I'm looking forward to reconnecting with you my readers. The nearly month a way was good. Talk to you all very soon.

Me, my sister, and parents

Me and hubby

Wonderful son Travis

Family shot with Grace who finally showed up after visiting a friend's family for Thanksgiving