Sunday, November 23, 2014

Adventures In Teenagerhood

Life is always moving on and changing.  Since I last posted here, Safety Guy earned his long-anticipated NY learner's permit for driving.  Oh, the joy!  He's just as I expected behind the wheel - cautious, and slightly obsessive about it.  But he's doing really, really well.  He's happy to practice as much as possible, with both myself and his father.  Two different vehicles, two different teachers, but he's doing great.  We're being careful to get him solid on foundation skills before letting him move on to more advanced stuff, and he's been fairly patient about that.  He understands the need to be careful - he's not driving a bike, he's driving a ballistic missile.  It's not just his own safety at stake when he's behind the wheel.  Thank goodness he's watched all of those safe driving PSAs and automobile crash tests - a very good application of Aspergers obsessions.

Safety Guy is also finally free of the restrictions of the ortho boot, crutches, and a later ankle brace, after breaking his fibula during JV football practice at the end of August.  He's thinking of joining the high school weight lifting team, or at least going to work out in the weight room after school several days a week.

The Princess is quick to remind everyone that she's almost thirteen (and in fact refers to herself as thirteen, even though her birthday isn't for another three months).  In maturity, she's ahead of 95% of her peers, a fact which has made seventh grade a real trial for her at times.  Seventh grade isn't much fun for anyone, I think.  It's just a tough age.  Junior high is really something I think most of us endure more than enjoy.  Anyhow, she's handling it better now than at the beginning of the year, when the learning curve (new school, new classmates, new EVERYTHING) was quite overwhelming.

Something that has been a huge blessing to her is the high school marching band (which also takes some students from 6th-8th grade, but is very selective).  It's a competitive field band, and they took the Princess into their pit crew, where she became a jack of all trades on various percussion instruments.  She made some great new friends at all grade levels, and one older student took her under his wing as a younger sister.  The band did fantastic this year, traveling to Ohio for a major competition at OSU (winning two awards and essentially placing second in their category), and coming in third in their division at the NY State Field Band Competition.  The Princess has now joined the competitive winter percussion ensemble, and is looking forward to learning some new skills.

She's also getting along great with a new horse at her riding stable, a 17 year old retired jumper named Henry.  (Well, that's his stable name - he has a fancy French name I've forgotten.)  Her riding instructor purchased him with the Princess in mind, since her mount from this past summer is no longer available for her to ride.  She and Henry look like they'll be a great team for showing next year.

It hasn't been completely smooth sailing the past couple months - but that's another post.  Today, I'm thankful for my kids' new schools, new teachers, new friends, new activities, and the fun they've had.  I'm very proud of how they've handled this transition.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

It's Been HOW Long?

Holy moly, I just realized how long it's been since I wrote a blog post.  MONTHS - almost five months.  A lot of life has happened in those five months. I'm not going to recap everything at length, since even a short list is a bit overwhelming when I think about it.

Since May the kids and I have:

Home schooled Safety Guy for the last quarter of the school year.
Put our house on the market (oh, what a PAIN staging a house is!).
Sold our house (in less than three weeks - hallelujah!).
The kids and I MOVED (a short word for a long, arduous process, since we moved it all ourselves)
Horse shows for the Princess (three 4H shows, one county fair, and the State Fair).
The Princess joined the marching band in her new school district.
Safety Guy joined the JV football team in his new school district.
The Princess spent a week at the NY State Fair Youth Horse Show (and won 5 ribbons!).
Safety Guy broke his leg (fractured fibula, during football practice- a stress fracture that went undiagnosed               for two weeks, and became a true fracture).
Job hunting for me (dozens of resumes, one interview, and one sub teacher job in the new school district)
My Mom's cancer/miracle (PET scan indicated it had returned; surgery found NO cancer at all)

So, the long and short of it is this:  We have been truly blessed with a new place to live that not has only allowed us to keep our cats and have enough space that we don't drive each other bonkers, but also allows me to garden with the landlord's blessing.  The new school district is working out very well for both kids.  The Princess loves being in the marching band (she's in the pit crew, doing percussion), and Safety Guy has been supported and encouraged by his JV teammates.  So far, school is going well academically for both kids.  I was just hired last week as a substitute, and my first day back in the classroom is Monday.

I'm humbled and grateful to the Lord for how things have worked out this summer.  It hasn't been in my own strength or timing, that's for sure.  Finally, I feel like we can relax into a new routine, and I'm hopeful for the future.

God has indeed been kind to us through it all.

P.S.  We also adopted another guinea pig (Fergus, a solid black Peruvian - in other words, a real-life tribble).  We also made it through the Big Storm of 2014 with a couple branches through our roof and lots of downed branches in the yard, and we were lucky - many people nearby had whole trees on their houses.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hopefulness and A Little Rest

Wild flowers in Hickory, North Carolina, last spring.

Today is Mother's Day, and my goal is to just enjoy the time with my kids.  Ice cream at Zem's (the local hangout of choice, our favorite treat) is a distinct possibility.  Gardening may happen (but I'm NOT going to clean house today!).  I am so grateful for my kids, and love them more than I could ever have imagined before they were born.  I hope we have a good day together.  My husband and the kids took me out for lunch yesterday, and the kids gave me their gifts Friday night, because they couldn't wait:  lovely gold cross earrings, my favorite bi-colored mini carnations, and a Wonder Woman card.

It's been an eventful week since my last post.  The house went on the market, and we've had 5 showings already (plus a walk-through just for realtors).  We looked at another rental yesterday, and took it on the spot.  I've been home schooling Safety Guy, whose anxiety has been really bothering him (panic attacks several times a day).  The house has been cleaned within an inch of its (and my) life, and I'm still finding small things to clean.  (Shhh, don't look in my linen closet - I haven't gotten to it yet.)  I'm emotionally tired but physically okay, aside from the "I'm not 30 any more" aches and pains from intense cleaning and yard work.  I'm trying to stay positive, and I'm continuing to apply for jobs as I go.

We're excited and relieved to finally have a rental to move to in a few weeks - and we are so blessed that not only is it in the school district we wanted, but we can also keep BOTH cats and the guinea pigs there.  It even has a basement, so Safety Guy can have part of it for his Man Cave, and a garage.  The location is in a nice neighborhood with lots of families, blocks of streets for walking and biking, and a couple parks, and it's close to the city for my job-hunting efforts.  It's also not far from where their dad works, which is good for all of us.  The property manager says I can even do some gardening there.  After drawing a blank for so long in finding a good rental (and seeing the Rodent Palace last week - a massive reality check for the kids), securing this one yesterday is a HUGE relief for all of us.  It's a duplex, and the neighbors seem really nice and even have a daughter close to the Princess' age.  If this turns out to be a good situation, we may stay for several years.

So, over the next few weeks we'll be doing more packing and sorting.  We'll be looking for a climate-controlled storage unit, since one of the things I don't want in the new rental is my mother's 60 year old Hammond C3 organ.  I don't play it, and it takes up a LOT of floor space, but I don't want it damaged in a regular storage unit.  Someday I'll want it back in a house, since I haven't been able to bring myself to sell it, but this rental just isn't big enough for all of our furniture.  There are other things that can be safely stored while we're renting - like the big fish tank, and miscellaneous keepsake boxed items (like the few boxes of the kids' baby/toddler toys for my hypothetical future grandchildren).  We'll have some storage in the duplex, since it has a basement, but I'd rather maximize the living space.  The bedrooms are very small, so the kids will have to prioritize their stuff too.

On the education front, Safety Guy's IEP meeting is tomorrow.  I just want to make sure it has what he needs to go to the new district.  I don't want to fight out the events of the past month/several years there it's the wrong time/place, and I'll be meeting with the IEP team in his new school over the summer anyhow.  I just want some closure.  I'm going to look into transferring our son to the new district early (i.e. the first week of June as a home schooler), and I'll be talking with them about how to make his transition go as smoothly as possible in the fall.

So, rest is a relative term.  But I'm still hopeful that things are starting to turn around and come together, and that by the end of the summer we'll have many things settled that are currently up in the air.  I pray for peace and wisdom as we continue to walk along this path. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Picking Up The Pieces

This week it seems like everything fell apart - at least for a couple days.  The short(ish) version is: 

I've busted my behind all week (and actually for several weeks of projects and packing) getting the house ready for the realtor to take another look at yesterday, and when he visited he had more suggestions for us to do this week.  We were clearly not ready in all the fine details, and I could have cried.  

The school has refused to provide homebound ed services for our son, ignoring letters from his pediatrician and his therapist recommending that he be taught at home or tutored off the school campus for the remainder of the school year.  Adding insult to injury, their letter referred to the "alleged incidents of bullying."  Obviously someone has been talking to a lawyer. . . .

Because of the school's refusal, my husband and I have decided that I will home school our son for the rest of this school year.  I sent the official letter of intent yesterday, and they'll have it today (certified mail).  I was afraid they'd call our son truant if I didn't get the letter in as soon as possible, since today would be the tenth class day out of school for him without an "acceptable" reason.

I'm having no success at all finding a place to rent in the school district that we want, that is both big enough and will allow pets.  I am extremely discouraged by the prospect of having to take a place that's too small just to get into the district, and possibly a place where we couldn't keep our pets.  

Safety Guy is very anxious, and having stomach upset and other physical anxiety symptoms as he deals with the aftermath of being pulled from school, and contemplating a move.  

We have to decide what to do about the school's refusal to provide homebound ed - legal recourse is possible, but I'm not sure what purpose it would serve other than revenge, since by the time we tried to force the school to do the right thing, we will have moved out of the district.  Frankly, we don't have the money for a legal battle.  The school is probably counting on us home schooling and sparing them the expense, and having to admit they've failed our son. 

It has occurred to me that this situation with the school could affect my future employment if someone at the school were to be vindictive (both my employment as a sub, which is short-term, or my employment elsewhere, which is another thing entirely).  District administrators talk, and I have no illusions left about the lengths bureaucrats will go to in order to CYA. . . .

I crashed this morning - I was just frustrated, upset, sad, angry, afraid, all the possible emotions around such a bunch of circumstances.  I had to just cry out to the Lord, and lay all of this in His hands.  I can't control the future, and I can barely control the parts of the present I'm supposed to be handling.  But life isn't hopeless, and I don't want to fall into despair.  The future is still there, and if I have to reinvent myself professionally, however that may be, I'll do it.  I'll get through the end of this school year, and we will move.  Our kids will be in a different school in the fall, we'll have a different place to live, and life will go on.  But, oh Lord, I'm struggling in the present and can't even predict the next few months (or even weeks or days) - give us wisdom and peace, and provide for our needs. . . .

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Quick Post

 From my FB page:  I've been kind of quiet on the blog front lately - too much to do, and too much to process, and now some behinds to kick. The school appears to be dragging their feet over starting any kind of tutoring or homebound ed for SG. In fact, I have heard precisely NOTHING by phone or email from them since the day of the last incident where I brought SG home. I spoke with one administrator, who was trying to connect with two other administrators to discuss their plan of action, and that was a week ago. She was nice and said she'd call me, but so far no communication AT ALL. I've collected some work for SG from his teachers on my own (and the teachers did not know that I had him at home and that homebound ed had been requested by his doctor, so the admins hadn't passed on ANY information to his teachers). I'm pretty disappointed (to say the least). Time to rattle some cages.

And from my own scattered brain:  We're just about ready to have the realtor come check out if our house is "staged" well enough to photograph.  I just finished painting the kids' bathroom.  This past week has also seen yard work, totally cleaning and rearranging the basement, painting the deck, and general cleaning and sprucing up all over the house.  Room by room, we're just about there.  No word on the job I applied for (which inclines me to think I won't get it).  I'm subbing regularly, running the kids to counseling and activities, and trying not to lose the few marbles I feel like I've still got.

Hoping for some movement in some direction soon - job OR home OR school, or all of the above. . . .

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stop The World, I Want To Get Off

It's been a very up and down week, and if I balance out the pluses and minuses, I still find myself struggling with discouragement.

Safety Guy was hit at school again last week, punched several times in the head by someone he's had difficulty with all year.  I won't go into the details; suffice it to say that we are DONE with this district.  When I picked up our son that morning after the incident, I had him clean out his locker.  I had him checked out by a doctor (no concussion this time, thankfully), and spoke with the police to see if we should file a formal report, but since the injury was minor, they could only charge the other student with harassment, and the officer said even that wouldn't be likely to stick in juvenile court.

After talking it over with our son's pediatrician and his therapist, we decided to request home instruction for him for the rest of the year, since he'd be extremely likely to be bullied further if he returns to school.  This time he refused to hit back at the other student; next time he probably would hit back, and so be in even more trouble himself.  He has NO confidence in the adults around him at school, believing that they cannot or will not stand up for him and keep the antagonists off his back.  It's a sad situation when your son not only doesn't feel safe at school, but is reluctant to even walk around our small town because he could meet the other students who have picked on him.  

His pediatrician and his therapist are both appalled that this is still going on, and both wrote letters recommending that our son be instructed at home for the last 8 weeks of school; the doctor's letter carries the force of a prescription, so hopefully the school won't play any more games with us.  I just sent the letters (with a cover letter of my own) to the school today, by certified mail.  It's spring break, so we couldn't get the letters to them sooner - no one was in the high school to receive them this week.  I will be so glad when we're in a new school district.  I hope from the bottom of my heart that it's a fresh start and a better situation for Safety Guy.

The past 8 days have also seen two visits from a realtor (we like him, and we need to have the house staged and ready to photograph in 2 weeks), and a job interview for myself (yesterday, which went quite well, and I'll find out in a week or so if I get the job).  I have no idea how the next few months will play out, between putting the house on the market, looking for a rental, either starting a new job (I hope) or continuing to look for work (not a happy prospect), and organizing home instruction for our son through mid-June.  

In the middle of all this, the Princess had a state Horse Bowl competition last weekend, where her team placed first, and she was in the top 20 statewide.  She qualified for the invitational Horse Bowl event at the NY State Fair in August.  She's so proud of herself, and we're very proud of her too.

But it's a lot to process all at once lately, good and not so good.  It's like spinning plates in a circus act, and I don't like the feeling that I'm waiting for something to get totally unbalanced and crash to the floor in pieces.  My brain hurts; my spirit is sore; my patience is thin.  I'd like run away and hide from the world for a while.

I'm pushing on, because I don't have a choice, but I'm having a down day today, which I'm trying to overcome by remembering that it is Good Friday, and there is Hope.  Trials happen; painful times come and go; stress is a part of living.  But we are not alone or forsaken.  There will be better days ahead.  So I choose hope.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hope Springs. . . .

-  first shoots of green grass in the ditches along the thruway

-  applying for jobs even when it seems like most applications just go into a black hole

-  cleaning the house (again/still/always) to show it to a realtor later this week

-  talking to a discouraged student last week, and hoping I made his burden a little less heavy

-  watching my daughter do what she loves (ride horses)

-  walking along the canal trail with my son, talking cars and looking for wildlife and signs of spring 

-  laying with my fluffy cat in a sunbeam, listening to her purr

-  sprucing up old furniture to give it a new lease on life

-  the ice on Oneida Lake is finally breaking up

-  flocks of robins looking for last year's berries and this year's worms

-  a bald eagle flying low over our car on the way home yesterday

-  spending time with my sister most nights (virtually - thank goodness for FB IM)

-  whittling my priorities into shape, and my expectations down to size

-  sharing a big anniversary and a handful of birthdays in one big family bash this weekend

-  melt water roaring over Hector Falls

-  rain (instead of snow)

-  green sprouts of daylilies in the garden

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Moving Blues and Walking On

I don't remember struggling with moving like this before I had kids.  I moved quite a few times in my teens and twenties, what with back and forth to college, my first apartment and job away from home after college, moving back to my home town and working, then moving back in with my parents when I went to grad school.  After that, I got married, and we had our first and second apartments.  No big deal, really (although moving home with my parents as a twenty-something was difficult in its own way - a temporary step back on the way forward).

Then we bought a house.  And had kids.

We were lucky - we got to stay in that first house for 12 years.  That's a long time, longer than I've lived anywhere else, ever, in my entire life, when I really think about it.  No wonder it was hard to leave that house, let alone under the circumstances of a layoff.  The move wasn't our choice; it was by necessity, to follow my husband's job.  It all worked out for good in the end, but that move was many shades of hell, for many reasons.  I've had nightmares about moving whenever I get too stressed ever since then.  (I had one last night, the first in quite a while.)

We've been in this house for about 5 years.  Once again, it's time to move, under circumstances that I never thought I'd face.  But even though we initiated this process because of our marital issues, we came to the realization last fall that we would have been doing this move even if we were still together, in order to get our kids into a better school district.  It's our choice to move now, for the good of our family; I'm not blaming anyone.  But it's still got me down this week.

Some people can move as easily as changing outfits.  The living space itself doesn't mean that much to them - it's merely a vehicle for their lives.  Some of us, though, get attached to a place, and try to put down roots.  That makes it a bit harder to pick up and move, even for very good reasons.  I'm trying to look at this in the most positive light I can, and I can see the positives, but I'm still sad and discombobulated over the process.  I'd forgotten (selective memory?) what a pain looking for a rental can be, and what a hassle  it is preparing a house to show.  And packing, cleaning, packing, sorting, packing, donating, packing. It's all coming back now, believe me!  

But wherever I go, there He is.  Whatever rentals are available at the time I'm looking, He's curated as a selection for me.  When the time is right, I'll find the right place.  I need to learn to wait patiently.  (Waiting happens to everyone; waiting patiently is a bit harder work for me.)  I'm both taking control of my life, and letting go.  It's like walking a tightrope - a fine balance, trusting the thin wire of my faith to help me navigate over my circumstances, and keeping my own perspective on what I have control over and what I cannot control at all.

Have you ever seen tight rope walkers cross major chasms, or gaps between buildings?  They make it look too darn easy.  But have you ever watched them set up their wire?  They are meticulous in securing it at both ends, and checking its integrity, and inspecting it for flaws or weak spots.  They prepare, they have reliable help, they practice and mentally focus.  They check and double check.  And in the end, they trust their lives to the wire.  So it is with our faith.  I've prepared as best I can, but in the end, who am I trusting?  My balance?  (Ha - anyone who knows me knows I don't have great physical balance, so I find that image truly funny, me on a tightrope.)  No, I trust the One who holds me up, and who will be there to catch me if (when? - there's often a when) I fall.  

Walk on. . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes I'm Sisyphus

Inside of the observation tower at Antietam, built in 1896, 
overlooking the Civil War battlefield.

I'm having one of those times where it seems like I'm constantly doing the same things, over and over again, with little or no perceptible progress or benefit.  (Another word for this might be despair, in its worst form.)  This is far from the first time I've thought of the Greek myth of Sisyphus, condemned to push a large boulder up a mountain, for all eternity.  It's a false analogy, though, and one I have to work consciously to reject.  My life isn't a myth, and my struggles aren't hopeless.  Even when life seems repetitively painful, it's not without benefit or grace.  So, I'm choosing to move on, and even when it seems like I'm not making progress, I rely on God who sees everything from the beginning to the end, and know that nothing I've done relying on Him is in vain, and even my failures and struggles have already been redeemed for good in the long run.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Balancing Act

Safety Guy with his buddy B.C., a year ago.

I'm grateful that I haven't taken much flak about our son Safety Guy taking anti-anxiety medication.  He's taken a couple different medications over the years, since he was about 8.  Maybe it's because his anxiety was obvious to everyone around him from a young age that we didn't get much disagreement or judgment.  The people who knew him apparently realized that the medication was a necessary help for him.  Still, it was not an easy decision for us to make as parents, and we revisit the meds/no meds/which meds question regularly with his counselor and his pediatrician.  Today was the semi-annual conversation with his pediatrician.

I have to say I LOVE his pediatrician.  Dr. L. GETS Safety guy, has compassion for him, and treats him as a reasoning young adult, as a participant in his own health care decisions.  Even better, he just plain likes SG, and SG is comfortable with him.  Thank God for physicians like Dr. L!

The upshot of our appointment today was the decision to make no changes at this time.  We hashed over the difficulties of the past winter, the mood swings, the bullying, the anger issues, the anxiety, and the side effects of the med SG takes, and we decided that we would stay at the same dosage with the same med, and continue to address some of the issues through counseling.  

But the good doctor also gave us a little extra ammunition to use with the school:  he suggested writing a letter to them as his physician to say that Safety Guy requires breaks when he's getting upset/angry, without penalty - that he should be allowed to leave a classroom and to go to a safe place (like the counselor's office) to calm down and regroup.  That's actually part of SG's IEP, but he rarely takes advantage of it.  It turns out that a couple times in the past he's asked to leave and been denied by the teacher (as if he's making up his need for space and dodging work, instead of trying to get out of a situation where he's afraid he'll lose his temper).  And, he doesn't want to make a scene or draw attention to himself.  So, hopefully, when I take the letter to the school psychologist, she can help Safety Guy implement this strategy more consistently.  

SG has been doing better the past couple weeks, but he's been so up and down for the past year that I'm not expecting this to last.  I'm always waiting for the relapse.  I'd like to give his current calmer frame of mind a chance to go on for a while, and I'll take all the help I can get.  And, this letter will follow him to his new school in the fall, so that safety net can be put in place from the first day.

And if we try all these good things, and he still needs his meds revisited, we'll do that too.  We go back in three months.  It's a balancing act.  Sometimes we get it right and walk over the abyss; sometimes we don't and we fall.  Thank goodness for the people who understand and show compassion to us, and help us get up and try again.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Soapbox and a Cleaning Spree

The kids and I, early summer, 2003.  
Yes, Safety Guy was one honking big 4 1/2 year old. . .

I realized this week that I spend a lot of time hiding what I really feel or think when I'm not close to the people I'm around.  It's easy to just get along, be non-confrontational, and do the minimum to avoid offending people.  It's also a reflection of my fear and insecurity.  But, that's not going to help my kids (or myself) in the long run.  Some things are worth standing up for.  

In my case, I realized it's been easy to be silent about my son's autism (Asperger Syndrome specifically) on my personal Facebook page.  Now, come on, if my friends can't handle my opinion about this, who can? And they certainly know about my son's autism. After posting this to my blog FB page, but not to my personal page, I realized after a day or so that I was hiding again, trying not to rock anyone's boat, afraid of taking flak for sharing my opinion.  But THIS needs to be said, and THIS BOAT needs to be rocked a bit.  It's not earth-shattering on a global scale, but it's important in my world, and my son's world, so here it is:

I don't soapbox much, but this post might get me some flak: You cannot separate autism from the individual who has been born with it. Making their autism seem like a disease to be cured, or a defect to be rooted out, or a flaw that can never be remedied, cuts to the heart of who they ARE. They ARE autistic. They HAVE autism, but they can't just get rid of it or give it away or kill it. It's a fundamental part of them. They can live with it, use it, adapt to it, minimize certain effects of it, deal with it, wrestle with it, struggle and fight and rise through it, but it's not going to just go away or be healed and disappear from their lives. So I make a plea: please don't demonize autism, because then you cut down my child and make him seem like less than he really already is - marvelous, individual, made in the image of the Lord just as much as any other human. Help him grow, help him learn, help him adapt, help him fly. But for goodness' sake, don't clip his wings or cut him down or tell him he's less than any other person because of his autism.

In other news, I'm continuing to winnow our belongings and generally clean the house.  Today Safety Guy and I found his floor and his closet.  (Angels should be singing hallelujahs right about here).  NOW I feel like I can have a realtor come in and look at the house.  And he feels good about his room again.  He was willing to get rid of a lot of old stuff, and very cooperative about the whole cleaning process.  He even swears he wants to keep his room clean now, and wherever we move.  Small steps!

I also realized that the Princess doesn't know how to use the dryer.  Hmmmm, time for her to start doing some of her own laundry. . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keep, Donate, Toss

A sign of spring:  Molly following the sunbeam across the living room floor.

I'm spring cleaning - now I'm just waiting for the spring weather, which is woefully delayed here in CNY.  

Right now my life seems to be a long round of the game, "Keep, Donate, or Toss."  But you know what?  I'm actually enjoying thinning our belongings.  It's like spring cleaning on steroids, this countdown to a fresh start in a new place.  Even with all the uncertainty (I still haven't heard back about the job I interviewed for two weeks ago), the move WILL happen; it's just a matter of when and where.  And that's okay with me, most of the time.  (There are the other times where I'm awake at night worrying about it, and I have to pray and ask the Lord to handle the burden for me.)

The kids are excited and anxious about moving, and the Princess is upset about leaving her friends behind.  I think the move will be hardest on her.  Safety Guy is ready to be DONE with this school (he was ready a year ago), and has been surprisingly agreeable to winnowing his belongings and getting rid of stuff.  He even agreed to let me pack stuff in his "man cave," provided I didn't trash or donate anything without his approval.  He wants to help me look for rentals, and to go with me to look at any possible places.  If it helps him feel a bit more in control of this change, he can help and look.

I think we'll still have more STUFF than we really need, but we'll have a heck of a lot less STUFF than we did during our last move 5 years ago.  Simplify has become a new watchword for me. 

Of course, these things are relative - simple for me would be a neat freak's nightmare.  I'm not a Zen master, or a minimalist.  Minimalism is nice to look at, but impossible for me to live in (or keep minimal).  Clutter happens.  This is just a larger decluttering job than the kitchen counter - it's a whole house.  And we're making good progress.

I'm looking at rentals (small single family homes and townhouses), and I'm hopeful that the right place will turn up in the next couple months.  I'd appreciate prayer for that decision in our lives, since wherever we move, we're likely to stay for a couple years, and possibly longer.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Weather Whiplash

Our back deck, Thursday afternoon, March 13, 2014.

And the roller coaster continues:  Tuesday this week it was fifty degrees, and I enjoyed being out without a heavy coat, just in a light sweater.  24 hours later, it was snowing an inch an hour, that next day we had single-digit wind chills, and yesterday we were back up to almost fifty again.  Whee, but I think I'm really, REALLY ready to be done with winter.  

The picnic table - that's a large, three-wick candle sitting on the corner.

I've been keeping busy, doing various things in my ongoing quest to get the house ready to show/sell.  Spelunking in the basement is a big part of that.  I've donated some stuffed, trashed some stuff, reorganized, reboxed, and relabeled lots of stuff, and we're making good progress.  Safety Guy has started winnowing out his collection of VHS tapes, and cleaning out an old dresser filled with heaven only knows how many years of random toys, doodads, knick-knacks, papers, and stuff.  

I had a job interview last week, but I haven't heard back if I got the job or not.  I'll call them Monday (they were supposed to call me this past week but didn't), and hope for the best.  Subbing has been sparse, due to kid dental appointments, snow days/delays, and whatnot.  Hopefully I can land a few days next week.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Make It All Better

I wish I could make the whole moving process easier on my kids, especially on the Princess.  She's put a brave face on it, and tried to be helpful and enthusiastic about moving, but inside, she's having a very hard time.  

I can't blame her - this is her home.  She has a handful of really good friends.  She doesn't really want to leave them.  I feel very badly for her, and I wish I could make it easier for her.  I'm trying, really I am, but there are some hard things we just have to go through, and I can't change this one.  All I can do is listen to her, keep what I can of her "old" life (her stable, and the friends she sees there), and help her work through all the hassle and frustration and anxiety and anger that moving has stirred up in her.

She's feeling a bit overwhelmed - school (both academics and music, since she's in concert band, chorus, jazz band, and all-county band), moving (new home in the summer/new school in the fall), riding (lessons will be ramping up for summer horse shows, and she's in 4H, which is just winding down from their winter activities - "Horse Bowl" competition, and her public presentation, which was this past weekend).  She wanted to do AYSO soccer again this spring, but we're just running out of time and money to go around (time being the much bigger factor than money).  Add in counseling and braces, and she's feeling very put-upon.

Then there's the elephant in the room, the separation between her father and I.  As amicable as we've tried to keep it, it's still painful all around.  So much for her to handle at such a young age.  No wonder she's having difficulty coping.  

I wish she were little again, and a snuggle and a hug could make it all better. . . .

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shady Business

Clematis 'General Sikorski,' growing in a mostly shady location in our old yard. 

Funny how looking back at something from a distance in time can bring it into clearer focus.  (I know, Lady Obvious here.)  But I noticed after I posted the garden photos yesterday that my old yard was actually very lush because it was partially shaded.  Our new yard up here is very exposed, with no big trees, so there's only two places in the yard (north and east sides of the house) that are mostly/completely shaded.  I used to look at shade as a bit of an obstacle to gardening, but I learned to work with it.  Then I lost most of it, and came to value it even more.

Fern leaf bleeding hearts - one of my favorite shade perennials. 
Unlike regular bleeding hearts, they keep their ferny foliage all season.  
They also self-seed where they're happy, and it's easy 
to move the seedlings to new homes. 

All that to say, I hope wherever we land in the future, when I'm able to buy a home again (or land a great long-term rental), that I have more shade to play with in my new garden.  Many plants benefit from partial shade, especially during the afternoon in the summer and in hot climates.  Many "full sun" plants will do okay in light shade, or shade during the later part of the day.  Experiment with the microclimates in your yard - you may be surprised to see something thrive where you least expect it to.

Oriental lily 'Bergamo,' which received filtered shade in the afternoons from an old crab apple tree.  Lilies like their "feet in the shade, head in the sun."

No-name green hosta, growing in the most inhospitable place imaginable in a garden:  under mature evergreen trees (hemlock, in this case).  They look positively tropical, don't they?

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).
Most columbines like a bit of shade,
in my experience.  

Peony 'Amalia Olson,' growing where it got lots of sun in the morning and early afternoon, then shade after about 2PM.  It loved it.

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis), a classic part-shade perennial.

And toad lilies (Tricyrtis hirta), a really unique garden plant:  it prefers full, dry shade, and blooms in the fall.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

O Spring, Where Art Thou?

I'm not normally bugged by snow.  I don't mind the cold too much.  Winter isn't usually a drag for me.  Some winters, though, overstay their welcome, and are too long.  This is what we've got on the ground as of a couple days ago:

Isn't it lovely?  That's almost a solid 2 feet of snow cover, plus drifting and plowed/snowblown piles.  I'm definitely ready for spring, and well before that misbegotten woodchuck says we can expect it.  So, here are some spring pictures, just because I need to see some FLOWERS and GREEN LEAVES:

Note:  All of the above flower pictures were taken in my old garden, summer 2006-spring 2009.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Olympic Projects

My parents' quilt, pinned and ready to quilt.  I'll bind it in the dark gold fabric.

It seems that I tend to do a sewing project during each Winter Olympic Season.  It's just a good time to spend evenings in front of the TV, stitching.  I've done other quilting projects, and teddy bears.  One year it was a large vase as my first ever special order (although now that I think about it, that was a Summer Olympics - I remember watching a lot of swimming).  Anyhow, I'm working on my parents' quilt, which is good timing.  Their birthdays are in three weeks, and I should have it done by then.  The Winter Olympics at Sochi go for another two weeks, so it's working out fine.  If I get bored with the Olympics (or should I say, with NBC's coverage of it, since I don't have cable or satellite TV), I'll switch to Netflix.  Lots of options there.

No word yet on the long-term sub job I applied for last week, but I'll keep hoping.  I'm already booked for daily subbing this week (four days of 7th grade resource), although lake effect snow may take a day out of that.  Next week is winter break, and I'll have to find ways to keep the kids busy.  The Princess is easy - I'm going to arrange an extra riding lesson, and she has a 4H activity at an equine rehabilitation center one afternoon, and she'd like to just spend an extra day at the stable helping with chores.  Safety Guy is harder - he likes to go out every day, no matter what.  I don't like to manufacture outings, so he might get tag-along outings when I drop his sister off for other stuff.

I'm also planning on painting the Princess' bedroom - another "getting ready to move" project.  There are a handful of those, and if she's going to be out and we're off school, it's a good time for that.  The kids' bathroom could also use a fresh coat.  Always something to do.  We'd like to have the house ready to show to a realtor by the end of February.

I'm also slightly (okay, more than slightly) obsessed with picking out fabrics for a quilt class I'm going to take at the end of March, a quick one-evening project using charm squares.  I've found some wonderful Japanese/modern fabrics in turquoise, white, gray and orange.  I've edited my list of fabrics a dozen times now.  (I think it's an avoidance mechanism - easier to dwell on that than certain other things.)  Thankfully, I've got someone interested in purchasing a larger painting from my shop, and that will pay for the fabric I want.  I'm going to have to start using stuff from my growing fabric stash for smaller wall hanging projects to put in my Etsy shop.  I don't think my family will want quilted gifts for the next 5 years!

A winter week in the life, and I'm in a better mood than I have been for a while.  It would be nice if this lasted for a bit!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Be Good To Yourself

I don't have to try to keep busy - busyness has found me, so I have no excuse to be bored, EVER.  Between doing stuff in the house toward getting it ready to put on the market, the ups and downs of my mother's recent cancer diagnosis, job hunting, and just general LIFE stuff, it's finding balance that has become a bit of a trick.  

I'm not a driven person, and I like my down time as much as anyone.  I'm not going to say that I'm busy every minute, because I'm not.  I'm just trying to balance myself, so I get stuff done and still get some space and do some things for myself.  Life is a long haul, and this year will be hard on many levels, so no break from last year.  If I don't take care of myself, I won't make it through.  Or, I'll make it through as a total train wreck, which isn't a good option.

My counselor, after listening to the latest events in my life last week, asked me how I was doing, and what I have been doing to take care of myself.  I'm glad he asked that, because I have not been good at doing that in the past.  I've gotten better over time, but it's still a very valid question.  What am I doing to make sure that I can face my challenges, get some rest, accomplish my goals, meet the needs of my kids, and still have some down time and fun?

I'm no guru, but here are my basic strategies for keeping it together more often than not:

Prioritize.  Do the most important stuff first, whatever that is at any given time.  Is it more important to clean the kitchen, or to talk with one of my kids who needs my attention?  (It depends, and sometimes I can multitask, like when Safety Guy wants to talk cars - he doesn't mind if I do stuff while we chat.  But if one of my kids needs me to focus on them, that's the top of the heap of what must be attended to, and I do that first.  Dishes can usually wait!)  Make a short list, if necessary, for each day, of a few things to get done.  If you finish the short list, do a few more things.  A long list is a discouragement.  A short, FINISHED list is a victory.

Be honest.  If I'm used up, maxed out, and ready to blow a gasket, I have to say so to whoever needs to hear it.  Nicely, but firmly, sometimes I just need to say, "Please stop doing that."  Or, "I have to take a break from this."  Or, "I can't really talk about this right now - can we revisit it later?"  Or, "I need help."  (That's the hardest one of all for me to say.)

Be realistic.  Not everything is going to get done.  Not everyone is going to be happy at the end of the day.  Mistakes happen, and so does crap.  Sometimes "Oh well!" is the best thing you can say when something derails your plans for the day.  Very little in life is worth losing my temper over, or getting hyper-stressed about.  It doesn't mean I don't care; it means that I choose what to really care about, and some things are just unimportant or can be delayed or adjusted. 

Make the best of it.  I do NOT have the life with all the answers, I have to work with what I've got.  Some days are great, some days are okay, some days truly stink.  Whatever each day brings, I need to handle it with care and try to make it better however I can with what I've got at hand.  I guess that's the definition of grace, really.  I hope and pray that whatever comes my way, I can be a vessel of God's grace to whoever needs it around me (and to myself, which I often fail to do).  

Pray.  I struggle with this sometimes.  (Okay, a lot.)  Faith isn't easy for me.  But many years ago I read a wonderful little book, 'The Practice of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence.  He practiced what I would consider a form of meditation, or mindfulness, being aware of God all the time, in every circumstance.  I would like to be better at that.  If the Lord knows everything and everyone, then nothing surprises Him, and I can talk to Him at any time.  Sometimes I can manage that in the moment of crisis or struggle, and sometimes I have to visit Him at the end of the day with a list of concerns, questions, praises and sorrows.  But I try to pray.  

Make time for myself.  Sometimes that's time on Facebook, where I have family and many friends.  Sometimes that's working on a project (quilting, art, gardening - whatever I'm drawn to in order to relax).  Sometimes it's a nap, or going to bed early or sleeping in.  When I can, I need to allow myself "time off" from the press of other responsibilities.  Those other things will always be there.  They aren't going anywhere.  If I take a break, I can come back to them refreshed and ready to tackle them.

There's nothing new here, nothing fancy or having a catchy buzz word or a hashtag.  Just simple common sense.  Maybe it will help you too.  I hope so, if you need it.

Words of wisdom hidden in a catchy song:  Be good to yourself.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Lot Can Happen In Two Weeks. . . .

Winter Storm Nika, which graced us with 9" of snow (and drifted quite a bit higher than that).

The past couple weeks have seemed like a full month.  Nothing like a major medical crisis in the family to snap priorities back into place.

The long and short of it is that my mother has been diagnosed with Stage 2b/3a colon cancer.  She had surgery two weekends ago, a partial colectomy to remove an 8cm tumor, and the recovery has been difficult for her since she also got some intestinal virus the week after the surgery.  The cancer has started to spread, so she's facing chemo.  She's been referred to an oncologist at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY (not nearby, but excellent care).  (So much pain, so many emotions, in just a few dry sentences.)

I spent the weekend of her surgery with my father and two of my three sisters, and we formed a sort of Greek chorus of support at the hospital.  Between us we managed to keep someone with Mom every day for over a week, at the hospital and for the first couple days home.  I traveled to be with her again the next weekend, just an overnight visit.  

We knew she was really feeling better earlier this week when she was able to meander into the kitchen and comment that the sink needed to be cleaned (and promptly did so).  (Her house is famously NEAT.  For her to not be able or willing to take an interest in it for 10 days was highly unusual.)  

So, that's what's been going on in our life - what felt like an eon condensed into a couple weeks.  Mom's sudden illness, surgery, and recovery, as well as the kids having school, 4H activities, riding lessons, subbing for me several days each week, and working on stuff related to selling the house. Oh, and counseling appointments, snow/cold days, and LIFE.   

I'm counting our blessings, and trying to not fall to bits in the process of hanging on.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Staying Positive

Image from

Generally I'm a glass-half-full kind of person, so it comes naturally to me to try to make the best of every situation.  This past year has had more than a few "lemon" moments, and so I've had a LOT of practice trying to make lemonade.  (Sometimes I think making something alcoholic might be better for some casual relaxation, but I'm not much of a drinker, either.)  Anyhow, in the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, here are some GOOD things that have been going on in our lives:

The Princess has made a couple new friends at school this year, girls who share her slightly nonconformist take on the world and are happy to introduce her to their favorite interests and listen to hers as well.  They're a good match.  And, through them, the Princess has now been initiated into the fandom of Doctor Who.  What's not to like about that?

'69 Chevelle Malibu, local car show, September 2013

Safety Guy continues to learn about cars - ALL about cars, everything from history to performance specs to value to reliability.  He's taught himself a fair amount about car audio systems, and is dying to get a car to put one in.  (Two loves in one:  MUSIC and CARS, with the added frisson of BUTTONS and DIALS.)

Safety Guy is also actively investigating future careers, and thinking quite realistically about his own skills, aptitudes, and goals in life.  I'm very proud of him for taking stock of his strengths and liabilities, then looking for career options that would be a good match for his strong points and interests.  I can't wait to see where the future takes him.

Mom and Dad's quilt top, ready to be layered

I've enjoyed learning how to quilt this winter.  I'm still very much a beginner, but I'm really enjoying the process, and I've already got ideas for four more projects besides the one in hand:  a quilt for my parents' birthdays in March.  (I don't think my parents even know about my blog, but if they do, SURPRISE!)  I'm enjoying looking at fabrics, and I'm hoping to take a couple more project-oriented quilting classes this spring.

My sister Debbie and I had a WONDERFUL brainstorm last night:  we'd like to take a weekend trip this spring, to Cooperstown, NY.  We want to see the Fenimore Art Museum, walk around the town, go to the nearby Fly Creek Cider Mill, and spend a couple nights in a hotel with a pool and a hot tub.  She can get hotel discounts through work, and we can split the cost.  We're quite excited to plan something just for us.  Sister time!

The Princess is enjoying 4H, and gearing up for show season in the spring.  She loves being at the stable.  I hope she has an amazing show season this year.  This is the first year she'll be eligible to qualify to go to the NY State Fair, too.

Finally, I'm getting the upper hand on the process of readying the house to sell.  Every day I try to do at least one thing toward that goal, even if it's just something small.  It's not so overwhelming when I approach it that way.  Yesterday, the Princess totally cleaned her room - DEEP cleaned it.  Hooray!  One more step on the road to a new home.

And so we go on.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tipping Point

For a little while, I was optimistic that Safety Guy's struggle with being bullied at school had passed its peak.  This fall was a mixed bag, but still better than last spring, and we saw even more improvement for about a month before the winter break.  But, unfortunately, it was only a lull in the action.  The bullying, while diminished in scope (fewer people doing it - we're down to two main perpetrators), has simply become more covert.  Safety Guy is just as frustrated with school now as he was last spring, which means it's gotten pretty bad - again.

I'm not going to hash over details.  Our school has a serious bullying issue, and the upper administration has been reluctant to really crack down on the perpetrators.  On top of that, because of the covert nature of the bullying, it has been implied many times that Safety Guy is overreacting to nothing (which has, admittedly, happened - but that doesn't diminish the real bullying that has also been going on), or even making up the bullying.  As a result, Safety Guy rarely tells the teachers at school the whole story of what has happened in any situation.  He doesn't trust most of the adults there; he thinks they don't believe him, and that they won't do anything about it even if he were to tell them.  Things have gotten really bad for him since we returned from Christmas break, to the point that he's had thoughts of hurting himself because he feels so bad about himself.

This CANNOT go on.

We have an ongoing bullying situation negatively affecting our son.  We have a friendly witness (SG's friend H) who corroborates that these guys have been trashing Safety Guy behind his back as well as to his face in class and in the hallways.  Last fall we started the DASA process (NY anti-bullying legislation, to document bullying and notify parents of their student's involvement in it).  My husband is livid over this whole mess, and is turning in the completed DASA paperwork this week.  He's also taking SG to school on Tuesday, and meeting with the assistant principal.  I'm not sure what (if anything) will be sorted out then and there, since the most recent incident happened so late on Friday that by the time the AP and psych finished talking with SG about it, school had already been dismissed and the bullies had gone home.  But one thing is clear:  if this situation isn't resolved to the point that SG is no longer targeted and trashed every day, then I'll pull him and home school him for the second half of this school year.

I can't wait to get out of this district, for his sake.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Color Me Impressed

I have to say, I'm really impressed with how well our kids are handling the idea of moving over the summer.  Both are asking smart questions about the school districts we're considering, both are looking at stuff online about the schools on their own, and both are already invested in getting this house (and in particular, their STUFF) packed ahead of time.  Safety Guy is even looking at real estate websites for apartments and houses for rent already.

I shouldn't be surprised - they're both older than the last time we went through this (in 2009).  And I've noticed that Safety Guy copes with change by doing research, so him helping us look for housing is not surprising in the least.  The Princess is sad about not living close to her best friends, but she's not despondent or refusing outright to go along with this change either.  In fact, both kids seem rather relieved at having a definite direction to pursue, rather than continuing in the limbo that marked the last six months of 2013 for us.

So, we're looking at a few districts closer to the major city we live near (but not IN the city - suburban to rural, but within a reasonable commute to anywhere in the city).  The districts are all much larger than the one we're in, and thus much more well off financially.  Each has its strengths; none have glaring weaknesses.  All have good reputations among other teachers I know, and among the parents I've spoken to around here (people who have lived here MUCH longer than we have, "natives" and long-term transplants alike).

It's all going to come down to housing - we need something with three bedrooms (or two bedrooms and a basement that is or can be finished into a bedroom).  So, a rental house, a rent-to-own house, or a townhouse.  Three bedroom apartments are scarce, and cost just as much as the rental homes and townhomes that I've seen.  I'd rather have more space than less for what we can afford.  And, we've got two cats - the place needs to accept them too.

So, wish us luck!  We hope to move over the summer, so the kids can settle in before school starts.  We already have a favorite out of the three primary districts we're looking at.  Hopefully we'll find a decent place to live there when we seriously start looking in May.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Getting Organized and (Not) Winter Sowing

No, this isn't a Martha Stewart-esque, Pinterest-driven how-to blog post.  My earthly cares haven't been solved by California Closets, Thirty-One, or even Tupperware.  But I am in a general "clean it out, box/keep or toss/donate" frame of mind.  Our kids have had a VERY long winter break this year (16 days!), and I was out of work the week before Christmas break began with bronchitis, so I feel like I've been under house arrest for three weeks.  I need to do SOMETHING to feel like I'm moving forward and preparing for the future.

Maybe "house arrest" is too strong a term - I'm not a prisoner in any way (although I willingly hunker down indoors when the temps get as brutally low as they've been recently - wind chills pushing -25F?  NO, thanks, I'll stay inside, with my coffee, computer, and cats).  But I'm not a winter outdoor activity enthusiast.  So, like many people, I guess, I nest a bit during the winter.  I clean things out, sort things through, work on indoors house or craft projects, and generally turn inward for a season.  My big accomplishment over the past week was really cleaning out the office and organizing my craft and art supplies.  One less room to face winnowing out right before a move - it's already done.  January will also see me tackling closets, and February, the basement.  I don't want a last-minute cleaning/packing marathon.  The more I can do now, the less stress I'll have down the road.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Normally about now I'd be gearing up for winter sowing, but with a move a strong possibility for us this summer, I'm reluctant to fill the back porch with recycled milk jugs full of seeds (and eventually, seedlings).  I'm not sure when we'll put the house on the market, and the containers full of dirt and held together with packing tape aren't really what people want to see on the deck when they scope out a property.  They want pretty, and clean, and tidy, and everything in its place.  Not a dissertation on the joys of winter sowing.

It's strange and sad to not have that forward-looking, garden-dreaming, spring-anticipating, hands-in-the-dirt outlet for the winter blahs and blues, after doing it every winter for about a decade now.  It's actually been quite painful to contemplate leaving this garden that I've poured myself into, to the point that I've been throwing out gardening catalogs as they come in, without even looking at them.  It's just too sad, another sadness on top of other sorrows.  I have saved a handful of large containers (cat litter jugs, actually) to use to sow tomatoes and zinnias.  Those I can use in the raised beds out back, and not take up a lot of porch space while they germinate and get their initial growth, and be done with them by early May.

I'll be direct sowing a lot of stuff in the yard this year, all annuals for quick and easy color, and also easy veggies to make the raised beds look full.  I have to be mindful of curb appeal - prettying up the yard for someone else to look at as part of the house.  (And knowing that whoever buys our house will most likely get rid of a lot of the garden space I've worked so hard on.  It hurt like hell the last time that happened.  I don't expect it to be any easier this time.)

Come April, I'll be digging and potting some things I'd like to keep and move with me - special daylily seedlings I've hybridized, mostly.  Plus one or two peonies, which take years to mature and came with me on the last move.  Well, "some" is a relative term.  I mean, probably a few dozen one gallon and two gallon containers, and the peonies in larger pots.  I hope, wherever we move, that I will have either a balcony/deck to put the containers, or a sympathetic landlord who will let me dig a holding bed in the back yard.

So much looking ahead and planning, working and organizing, and I have no idea where or when we'll move, or where I'll be working.  Still, doing what I can to prepare helps me cope.

Pinterest, anyone?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Farewell and Moving On

I think I can say, from the other side of New Year's Eve now, that 2013 was the most difficult year of my entire life so far.  I am far from sorry to see 2013 fade into history, but it will always be with me.  Nothing will ever be the same again.  I'm moving forward now, hoping for less sorrow and more positives in my life this year.  There are no guarantees for any of us, but I am hopeful that the things within my control will be better for my family and I, and that I'll be able to deal with the things out of my control in as gracious and positive a fashion as I can, leaning on the Lord's grace and strength to do so.

Most of my friends and all of my family know that 2013 was a year of great challenges and changes for the kids and I, and for my husband.  If you know us well, you know what's been going on; if you don't, I'm sure you've read between the lines.  My husband and I are no longer living together, and have not been since last summer.  We are on good terms, working together to raise the kids, but we are not a couple.  This has set off a whole cascading series of changes, including my need to find a permanent job with insurance, and the likelihood that we'll be selling the house this year to adjust our finances to a more realistic long-term plan.  So, the kids and I will be moving, probably over the summer (between school years).  We hope to stay in the general area near my husband, for obvious reasons.

I have appreciated all of the prayers and well-wishes from all of you through the ups and downs I've shared, and I hope that you will continue to lift us up and encourage us now that you know a little bit more.  Everything is up in the air for us, waiting on where/when I can get a permanent job.  I'm looking now, and not limiting myself to jobs in education.  I'm also considering work with not-for-profit agencies working with people with disabilities, or other human services related work.  If I can get my foot in the door somewhere, I'm open to retraining.  I don't want to wait for September (or later) for stability in employment, and this is NOT a good time to be looking for jobs in education.  I may have no choice but to take something else, outside of education, sooner rather than later.

The kids are handling this transition with varying degrees of understanding and patience.  Of course they've got a lot to process, and we're all getting counseling now to help us work through our issues.  You've probably noticed I've posted much less about Safety Guy and the Princess than usual over the past six months.  I wasn't ready to share this news, and the kids needed me to respect their privacy, especially Safety Guy, who does read my blog occasionally.  But I've also realized that NOT sharing the most basic life-changing fact of our lives right now is another way of lying to everyone around me, and hiding the unpleasant truth.  This situation hurts all four of us - a lot.  It won't be the focus of my blog (what a downer that would be!), but it may crop up occasionally, directly or indirectly.  Frankly, I'd rather write about gardening, or art, or autism-related stuff, or just the wonder and joy of watching our kids grow up and become unique, amazing people.

Life is messy, but I'm not going to air our most private lives for others to get a vicarious, voyeuristic thrill.  I am, however, going to be honest about the basics, and also discreet.  No bashing, no ranting, no recriminations, no airing of grievances, and no whining about what's "not fair" in our lives.  Just the occasional statement of, "Yes, this is hard - thank you for praying for us," or, "I've got to work through finding a job and moving with the kids, and thank you for listening to me while I process all of this," or, "We could use some extra prayer right now."

Thank you, my friends.  Farewell, 2013 - I'm not sad to see you go.  Welcome, 2014 - I hope you're kinder to us all.