Saturday, September 29, 2007

When I Get Old

I've had these thoughts rolling around in my head for awhile. My mother, who lost her husband last year, has been enjoying the company of a man who lives a few doors down. I only know of him from what she tells me but he seems like a personable, nice guy. He brings her dinner, they play cards, he drives her where she needs to go. In fact, he drives a lot of people, sort of a part-time job and an admirable one. She says they are company for each other. All this is fine. I'm so happy for my mom to have a friend. What doesn't set well with me is that he takes my mom to casinos and bingo halls. These are places my mom wouldn't think to go to and I wonder if she's just going along to be polite or for something to pass the time. I do not judge her for going, nor do I judge him. But I sure feel like she's wasting her time. Is that really where the Lord wants her? That's my opinion, I haven't shared it with her. But it has sparked a lot of thinking in how I want to spend my time when I get old (if the Lord allows me to).

When I get old, I want to spend my time in a worthy way. Worthy of the Lord, that is. Volunteering with some of the organizations that I like. Planting trees, helping build a house, things like that. Starting a prayer ministry, in a group situation or phone ministry. I've thought of being a spiritual mentor to younger women, having had the good fortune of having a mentor myself. Of course, I'd love to just enjoy my husband 24/7! I definitely want to spend time with a favorite hobby, though I'm not sure what just now. I'm not much of a gardener but maybe someday ... Furthering my education would be fun. Perhaps a cooking class! My husband wants me to model (there is a need for older models these days and I wouldn't need a bikini body!)

I've got a lot of time between my age now and my mother's. But these are things I've been thinking of for quite awhile. I don't want to waste my time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Middle Name Tag

Emily at thelearningneverstops has tagged me with the middle name meme (what's meme?)

The rules: List one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. Write your own blog post containing your middle name facts. At the end, choose one person to tag for each letter of your middle name. Then leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged.”

O.k., my middle name is (drum roll please) ... Gail. (I hear Em gasping!) I started to say that I never liked my middle name but I don't wish to offend any others reading this that were blessed with this name at birth (meaning - Gayle and the other Gayle)

Let me clarify: I never cared for the actual spelling of my middle name. I always associated it with Gale Gordon of The Lucy Show (it was in reruns when I was very small, I'm not that old!) Anyway, I never liked Gale Gordon (the bank manager), I thought he was a grump. I was so very glad my name wasn't spelled like his but it was darn close. Years later, I saw it spelled "Gayle" and thought that was a nice way to spell it but by then, I had stopped being bothered by my middle name altogether. I always figured that when I got married, I would take my maiden name as my middle name, to keep it in the family (my father had no sons). That didn't happen, bummer!

I don't know what Gail means. Gale is a strong wind - that COULD be me. What I do know is that I was the fourth and final child and after naming 3 girls, my parents had run out of names. They had the first name picked and decided on my middle name while my mom was still in the hospital. They had no answer for me when I asked why they picked my middle name.

Years later, after my dad passed away, I got to thinking. In 1961, a new TV show came out called The Avengers. It was an English spy show with a savvy-dressing cast and was a big hit, both in our house and elsewhere. Anyone who knows this show, probably remembers Emma Peel being played most famously by Diana Rigg. She was amazing. But, before Ms. Peel, there was another beauty, named Cathy Gale (played by Honor Blackman). She was on the show from 1962-1964. Since I was born in the middle of 1963, my husband surmises that my dad must have liked this character and since I was called Kathy growing up (still am by family) my dad must have gotten the idea for Gail from this actress, changing the spelling for whatever reason. It's a good theory, even if it's not true! My mom doesn't think that is where the name came from but it's a funny coincidence. And it lends some intrigue to my middle name!

G - Grateful. I am. Very. For everything God has given me, shown me or taken away, because He knows what's best for me.

A - Apologetic. I have no trouble saying I'm sorry (when I need to, not just in everyday conversation.) I've worked hard to instill this important trait in my kids. It's annoying when someone doesn't own up and apologize when they should. In my opinion.

I - Insane is the first word that springs to mind but, no, how about intercede. As in intercessory prayer. As in praying for others. I truly believe this is a gift from the Lord, as I consider it an honor and a privilege to pray for others and when I say I will, I DO! And God gives me many, many opportunities to pray for people, it's so exciting! If you open yourself up praying for others, believe me, God will show you the way!

L - Loyal. Like a puppy. If I really care about someone or something, I try to give it my all. I obviously don't care that much about housework.

Funny, I was just thinking I was tired of posting about myself lately and then this tag jumps up. This was fun and different but once again, I'm not going to choose anyone specifically. If you want to try this tag, leave me a comment, I'd love to hear more about you!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Homeschooled Mom

I'm homeschooling myself. Doesn't that sound like fun? I get to pick the subjects I want. I set my own schedule. And I correct my own work. Of course, I get all A's (I wish!) Though I do seek help from my principal from time to time. I only wish my childhood schooling could have been like this.

When I look back, I should have been homeschooled. I have read a lot of homeschool moms feel that way. That's one reason many of us thought about teaching our kids at home in the first place. Because we wish we could have been. But, you can't turn back the clock. Must go forward.

I am trying very hard to keep a schedule for myself. Usually just after my kids are done, I get 10 minutes or so to work on my math book and French language lessons. It's just a little each day but it's worth it, to me anyway. I've also been going through a slim book on writing skills and when I finish that one, I'm going on to a grammar book by the same author.

My dh and I have discussed my attending night classes to further my education but, really, I don't think I could commit to that right now. So I'm doing what I can, on my own. I never really went to college, just a couple of classes that I only briefly attended. I just hated sitting in a classroom for any length of time. I wanted to work early on so I jumped into an office position at age 15-1/2. Worked after school and on weekends. It served me well as a springboard for the other routes my various careers went. But now that I've been out of the working world for so long, I'm feeling the need to learn more. Teaching my kids allows me all kinds of opportunities to learn, of course. But I want time to learn what I choose, too. And it's free!

This is apparently what one does when they reach a certain age. In my case, that age would be 44. Yesterday I said to my 45 y.o. husband, "I'm having a mid-life crisis!" And I am! I always wondered if I would really know and ... I do! I can feel it! He said he felt that way a few years ago and now he's a nurse (after 20 years of being a cabinet builder!) Lesson learned: You are going to get older, no matter what you do. Time is going to march on. You can either sit around and stew or you can do something. Anything you can do to move forward is better than going backward or sitting still. I can see that I've been slowly improving my life for some time now. I've been eating healthier for years. I've already embarked on getting more fit and exercising, I've been doing that for a few years now. I crave exercise. It's my new habit. It's hard to fit it into my day but I try. The next obvious step to me is to exercise my brain.

And this time around, I can learn at home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Week So Far

"We're not nuts, just a little crazy!"

That's a little ditty my friends and I used to chant while walking home from junior high. We did a little dance to it as well. It was so much fun. (I miss Debbie R. and Linda! Where are you guys?)

Now, 30 years later, I feel the same way. This week has been nuts! We started our first day of school yesterday - it went swimmingly. You can read about that on my blog at HSB. After school, we picked up and delivered a sofa for my mil, to a thrift. Went to the toy store to celebrate the first day of school.

Today went even better, (daughter actually enjoyed reading lesson!) though we had interruption after interruption. The firewood was delivered and unloaded in a big heap in the driveway - but wait! We ordered more than that! Phone calls, yada, yada.

Husband has MRI scan in Portland (way too early this a.m.) 2 hours away. Calls on his way home, during our school time. Can't just say, "Sorry, honey, can't talk right now!"

Middle child wanders about the house, for some reason, and is increasingly annoying. Sit down, Alec!

And later, errands, more phone calls, dishes, laundry, went for a walk with daughter, helped with stacking firewood, made dinner, on and on. We actually had sun for 3 days but today was cold and foggy. But if you drove 10 miles inland, you found sun. It just ain't fair!

But right now, it's quiet in the house. Sigh. In the infamous words of Dr. Seuss (you know him?) "Today is done, today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I failed in my mom duty. My oldest son got braces put on his teeth today and, to be honest, I never gave it a second thought. Oh, sure, I prayed for him before hand and gave him a little pep talk before he left for the orthodontist with his dad. I prayed for him while he was gone. When he returned, I smiled weakly and asked how it went. I wasn't prepared for the day that followed. He went right into my arms and cried. He didn't sob, just a sad, silent cry. I think he would have sobbed if he wasn't 12. My heart ached for him. I really didn't know how to help. Pain relievers helped a bit with the aching teeth. But I wasn't ready for the psychological issues. He is really, really bummed at how his life has changed so much. Even telling him it's only for two years and when he's done, he'll have an even nicer smile - knowing this didn't help. His heart and mind needed relief today. He said he's upset that he can't take his braces off like he can his glasses. I'll bet he feels kind of caged - I can understand that. Sigh. He got glasses for the first time about 2 months ago. And his voice started changing last month. Now braces. The poor guy. Growing up is tough and everyone goes through it and usually survives well enough. But he is a child of routine. Routine makes his world orderly, though he is rather careless and not a detail-oriented individual, at least in the world around him. He counts on certain things always being the same. I'm afraid I'm the one to start that scenario. But doesn't everyone do that? I guess change is more difficult for some kids (people) than it is for others. He cried when he realized there were certain foods he may not be able to eat. I said that we'll have to see, we just don't know. He's worried he won't be able to play his euphonium (that's like a small tuba). We kept telling him his teeth would feel better tomorrow. By tonight, he was doing a bit better. He spent most of the day playing solitaire on the computer - a privilege given only because of his present condition. I did take him to the beach where there was a classic car show going on (he loves cars at the moment). So I did good there. We enjoyed spending time together, just the two of us.

Things were going much better by bed time until naive mom had to help him brush and floss his teeth. You see, I wasn't at the dentist where they discussed how to do this with braces. I hadn't read the brochure and hadn't yet seen all the stuff they sent home with him. I wasn't prepared. I never had braces and never watched my sister take care of hers (ewww!) So I fumbled around with the flossing after watching him doing it incorrectly (at least I could see the floss wasn't going where it should.) And the he just gave up and cried. More sadness. It breaks my heart!! I HATE the fact that we can't make everything all right. I hate it! I'm one of those moms who has an overwhelming need to shelter my kids from everything - but I can't and don't. I try to let them deal with issues as I think they are ready. I'm totally honest with them about things. No sugar coating. But I do remind them that God is always with them, all they have to do is talk to Him. I pray for and with my kids every day. This world is a beast. Look for the beauty and the blessings. But remember that all is not going to be perfect. That's basically my philosophy. I remember, back when I was 21, a co-worker once said that it is more normal for us to have pain somewhere on our body than to be pain-free. She was right. And she was only 24 at the time.

I am raising sensitive kids. I am sensitive. Since they are with me all day, they can't help but pick up on that. If I bump into a chair or something (which happens often) one or more of the kids will say, "Awww" and I'll get a hug or kiss to make it better. What a blessing. I'm glad they are sensitive but I also have to work on a bit of toughening up. Then again, maybe I don't. Life does that well enough on its own.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Story That Needed Telling

I just finished reading a book called, "Bold Spirit" Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America (written by Linda Lawrence Hunt, published by Anchor Books, 2003) which is about a woman who walked from Spokane, WA to New York City, in the late 1800's. It is an amazing book. The woman who wrote it spent about 20+ years researching this story and the book she created from her findings is fascinating. I am so impressed with the writing, as well as the woman whom the story is about. I absolutely love stories about strong, independent women, especially those who are devoted to family and this woman's story fills that bill.

The amazing thing about this story is that all the author had to go on was 2 newspaper clippings and a report written by an 8th grade boy, a story he had heard passed down to his mother from her elders. I love research and the amount that was necessary to fill in all so many blanks is remarkable. Helga walked with her 18 year old daughter and stopped in towns along the way, talking with newspaper reporters who printed stories about their trek. She kept a diary as she walked but it was lost or stolen when she reached her destination. All that was left was the family stories. Such a tragedy! She walked to save the ranch she and her family lived on, as someone had offered her a large amount of money to advertise a new garment for women to wear that was easier to walk in and ride a bike in, a shorter skirt than was the fashion at the time. The skirt came to the top of her shoes! Even more amazing, Helga had given birth to 10 children and had lived through surgery - remember this was the late, late 1800's!

Now, what really made an impact on me was the fact that this woman's story was silenced by her family. The family was not happy about her making this walk and while she was gone, her disabled husband had to care for the children. 2 of them contracted diphtheria and died while she was away and the children never forgave her for being gone. They didn't allow her to talk about her travels and, for that matter, silenced her when she spoke out on things like politics - women in that era just weren't supposed to have opinions. She did eventually write down her story and asked a granddaughter to take care of her story but the daughters burned the manuscript after Helga died. The granddaughter never knew about the journey until she was an adult.

The author talks about how women have been silenced in the past. She also talked about how family stories are kept quiet. I can really relate to this. I found out, on accident, that my oldest sister was my half-sister and that my mother had been married and divorced before she met my dad. I also found out, by overhearing my mom's conversation, that my paternal grandfather committed suicide. All this before I was 7 years old! Now, I think it would have been better for these stories to have just been part of the family, not something a young child should discover and wonder about. My kids know all this, they are not hidden knowledge. I try to be honest with my kids about things, as much as I think they can understand. But I also understand that these are different times I am living in than they were 30+ years ago. Family issues like this just weren't discussed. But I do have family stories that were handed down, funny things or eerie stories (my family in the east was big on ghost stories!) that I heard over and over, when I was growing up. Like the one about my paternal grandfather standing on the porch, in broad daylight, and saw a woman in a long, Victorian black dress, holding a parasol. She glided down the sidewalk and right up to the bottom of the porch. And then she just disappeared into the sidewalk! Now, as a kid, this both scared me and fascinated me. As an adult, I just have to wonder who started that story and why. My grandfather died when my dad was just 9 so maybe there was a lot of eerie things that seemed to happen after that. I don't know. I have never liked ghost stories and don't tell them to my kids. I think I just realized why I feel that way!

Anyway, I want to urge you to look for the family stories that you may not know about. Are there stories that SHOULD be told? Fascinating facts that should be handed down to the kids? Ask your elders - before it's too late. And don't be silenced yourself. Your opinion matters! This story about Helga Estby's walk would have been incredible, had it been told firsthand by her. Think of the historical value alone! A lot was going on in our country at the time she walked. But, thankfully, her story was rescued by an author who told it well. Praise the Lord for our generation who have learned from the strong women of the past.