Saturday, September 29, 2012

Warm fall day update

It is a lovely fall day.  We are in the midst of probably the last stretch of warm fall days before the cool weather settles in and I make the wardrobe change over to sweaters, pants and warm jackets putting  away the tank tops, shorts and flip flops.  I am going to force myself to be present this weekend and enjoy it.  Not that I don't enjoy warm fall weekends normally but I am finding that as my mind is constantly on work and figuring out how to make money and how to be a better parent while working and, and, and, that I sometimes forget to stop and relax and enjoy my life.

Before I head out to enjoy it I thought I would leave you with a few things I am working on.

I have officially launched my new web site, "From Homemaker to Working Mom: Encouragement as you transition back to work."  Check it out, share it on your facebook page and tell all your friends about it.  And I am working to figure out how to support the family while John is in school.  I am still trying to figure out how hard it is to make $5,000/month over at my Melanie, Inc blog.  So you can see where I am with that over there.

In case you are wondering what my son is up to:

Middle kid, getting ready for an early morning run.  HooAh (how do you spell that?)

Far left, apparently after they all crawled through the mud.

Yes that is him 2nd from left holding a gun.

Meanwhile, John has been:

Cutting down a tree in our front yard as well as many bushes.  Not because of his love of yard work but because the city sent us a friendly reminder letter to let us know we were no longer in compliance with code. The good news is that he LOVES chopping wood so he has released lots of stress in the backyard over the past few weeks and we will have plenty of wood to burn this fall and winter.

And we are trying to sell this bad dog on Craig's list.  No plowing this winter.  If you know someone who does want to plow we  have a great truck for them.

Meanwhile, I needed an author picture for an article I put on Article Ezine.  Since John was gone and Isabelle had no interest in being my photographer I entertained myself one morning holding a camera at arms length and smiling:

I am thinking I will need to find a real photographer if I ever actually get a paid writing job but I ended up submitting the last one.

While we have all been busy with our lives Isabelle has been doing this:

The picture of the guy on the TV is sort of how I feel about how much TV, Netflix and YouTube she has watched in the last month.  Some changes need to start happening around here...

So I am off to experience the wonderful weather and take my electronics addicted daughter with me!

What are you doing on this lovely weekend?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Going over the Falls

Last night I had a dream that John and I were in some sort of old VW bus floating down a river toward a water fall.  At first we were freaked out but then we decided there was nothing to do but go over the falls.  I swam down into the water of our bus to find a bottle of vodka for us to take a swig of before we went down.  Which is particularly hilarious because I barely drink and would never take a shot of vodka even if I was about to float off a waterfall.  But that is probably how they would script it for tv or movie and I guess I dream it like I would see it on TV.  Anyway, just as I am taking my drink we sail over the waterfall.

While I believe this dream stems from watching the new episode of Survivor last night, I have been thinking how it feels exactly like our life right now.  Like we are floating toward a waterfall and there is nothing we can do but ride the bus off the edge.  It is a big scary unknown out there in front of us, money is tight, we don't have as much work as we need right now, schedules feel full.

We are at a stage of life and a place in our journey that I believe with all my heart God put us in.  I believe that John is supposed to be in school full time right now, I believe that I was supposed to quit my job last spring to take this part time job working from home, I believe that God is going to help me more than make up that income loss while giving our family the flexibility that makes sense to us.  But that doesn't change the fact that right now it feels more like we missed a step and are about the float over a waterfall and crash on the rocks below.

In my dream we actually go over the falls twice.  The first time my mind goes blank just as we hit the edge.  There is nothing after that moment.  Which I think is so typical of how I tend to handle the difficult things in my life.  I check out.  I walk out of the room when the scary part of a show comes on.  I hate to fail so when it seems I might be about to do so I will change the rules or walk away from the game.  Lately I am wondering if I am doing the right job, if I should have stayed where I was, if John should just get a 4 year degree rather than pursue PA school.  If we should be doing something completely different.  It is feeling hard so I want to run.

I am learning, though, that failure can be a good thing, pushing through the challenges of my life has found me experiencing joy and success I would never had found if I wasn't willing to take the risk and ride over the falls. So the second time we started floating toward the falls I took a deep breath and rode them to the bottom.  The fall into the water actually turned out to be fun.  That moment of terror right before you experience the exhilaration of living.  If you have ever cliff jumped you know what I am talking about.  In my dream falling off that waterfall was like cliff jumping into the St. Croix River.

And so we continue to push forward believing in the path we are on.  Excited about the year of school John has already finished and looking forward to continuing this difficult but worthwhile path.  Trusting that God has brought us here and will take care of us.

After surviving the fall over the waterfall John and I swim to shore and go home to our family.  We are wet and have had just spent the day fighting for our life, we didn't just survive we thrived and we loved it.  So of course I can barely wait to get home and tell everyone about it.  We walk in the door and the first thing Isabelle says, "why didn't you answer your phone?!  We have been texting you all day!"  Apparently while we were off fighting our battles there were battles to be fought at home.  Yep, just like my real life.  Never a dull moment.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Doctor's Note

Never a dull moment raising kids.

My favorite second grader was playing at a friend's house on Sunday afternoon and fell off the play structure in their backyard.  We did not answer the phone when the mom called because we were busy skyping with our favorite college freshman.  An hour later they brought her home and we had a scary evening of her sleeping and throwing up and complaining of a headache.  John doesn't have a medical degree yet but we feel confident diagnosing her with a concussion.

We went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art on Thursday night after a week stuck in the house.

I did not rush her to the doctor for a number of reasons and I don't feel like I should have.  The reason I first became a non rush to the doctor person is because of money.  Being self insured we have always carried a very high deductible insurance and it would take quite the major medical emergency before our insurance would kick in.  And since we are mostly  healthy we  have never even come close to our deductible.  However, I don't want you to think that money is causing me to be irresponsible with my children.  I probably wouldn't have brought her even if it was covered.  When necessary we do bring them in.  Here is the thing, a concussion does not require a doctors prescription to heal.  Brain rest is the treatment.  Yes, something more serious could have happened and we were watching to make sure her pupils were doing the right thing, she did not throw up multiple times or any major behavior changes occurred.  But, since we didn't see those things there was no reason to bring her to the doctor.  I could go into a whole soap box moment here about doctors offices being for profit businesses not charitable agencies.  Combine that with their high liability and they no longer can say that it doesn't seem serious if you bring them in but that they MUST perform a high cost test on your child to both continue paying for the practice and to protect themselves from lawsuits.  Once upon a time the average person was considered intelligent enough to know a little about medicine and take care of their own children.  And that is what I do.

"Why are you telling me this?", you might ask.  Well here is why:  Because 2 different times this week the school nurse told me she would need a doctors note about this problem.  First was on Monday when I initially called to just let her know what had happened.  I mention that I was toying with keeping her home all week and she tells me that she will need a doctor's note if she is out more than 2 days.  I had already told her we didn't go to a doctor.  I spent most of Wednesday waiting for the phone to ring.  The second was on Friday, the day she returned to school, when she called to tell me that the gym teacher wants a doctor's note before she can return to gym.

After listening to her come at this request from several angles, I finally just told her that since there was no medical treatment for this injury I saw no reason to see a doctor and would not be bringing her.  I then asked her what the next step would be since there would be no doctor's  note.  I guess that was a stumper because she didn't have an answer.  So either my 2nd grader is going to have 3 unexcused absences on her permanent record (I hope she can still get into Harvard) or she won't be allowed to participate in gym all year, which seems unlikely.  Or nothing.  The end game at this point seems to be that I will email the gym teacher on Monday to let him know how Isabelle did over the weekend.  Looks like I am writing my own doctor's note.

Dear parents,
They are your children.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I am starting to remember what I hated about elementary school when Jake was little.  I don't play well with others when it comes to my kids.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to the parenting beginning

We have been telling Isabelle for months that once Jake leaves for college it will be "all about you."  She has been incredibly excited reminding us of this fact on a regular basis.  Of course she thinks that means she will get her way all the time, we will do what she wants all the time and basically it will be Isabelleworld at our house 24/7.

What she failed to take into account is that it is now all about her.  All our parenting energy can go into her.  All our ideas for discipline, chores, spiritual formation, character building, and more.  All about Isabelle.

I have to admit that up to this point she has sort of slipped by under the radar.  We have done basic parenting but I haven't been the intentional parent with her that I was with Jake.

Today I was emailing a friend about the topic of raising Isabelle.  Today's topic was about her sexual education.  Preparing her for modesty, purity and the management of hormones.  Basically, this morning I was in pre-puberty panic.  Ironically, I became friends with this woman when her son was 7 years old and she was in pre-puberty panic.  She was a friend of my sister's and since I had a son just ahead of hers and loved the topic of sex education my sister asked me to share a few thoughts with her.  A 9 year friendship of mutual encouragement developed.

In response to my email this morning she said, "Yep, you really need me."  She has spent the last 9 years developing a purity ministry for young girls and has becoming quite the expert on this subject, she had the perfect resources for me to look into.  Would you believe that one of those perfect resources was the email I sent her 9 years ago?  She had printed it and saved it and this morning she scanned it back into her computer and sent me my own words of encouragement!  Honestly, I was a little afraid to open it.  Did I really want to hear my own voice from 9 years ago?  But as I read it I was totally inspired by myself.  I remembered the parent I was back then, the intentional way I interacted with Jake and what I taught him.  I was quite brilliant if I do say so myself.

So tonight I pulled out the book on sex I read to Jake when he was 7.  And my mind is starting to remember that this is the subject that for whatever reason grounded my entire way of parenting.  Grounded the way I taught Jake about God.  Because what I said in the email was that while I could teach Jake about sex and tell him what the bible says, if Jake didn't have a foundation of faith, if he didn't believe in God and the fact that the bible is the inspired word of God, then it wouldn't matter what I taught him.

So as I prepare to start thinking about preparing Isabelle for going into puberty and all that it will mean in her life, her body and her mind, I am reminded that the underpinning of all that I say and do as a parent must have a foundation in showing her the way to God and His truths.

Psalm 78:4-6

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.

Friday, September 7, 2012

2nd Grade

It somehow seemed wrong to not do a post of the first day of school.  Even though these are the same pictures I put on facebook and so they seem a little redundant.  If you aren't facebook friends with me feel free to find me there.  Someday I will put a facebook link on this blog.  But right now it just feels like one more thing to do...

Anyway, 2nd grade!  I am not totally sure that Isabelle knows school is for learning.  I mean she does learn there, she is very bright but, she goes for the fashion show.  The night before she needed to wash her hair and then I HAD to braid it so it would be curly in the morning.  5 braids around her head plus one more of just her bangs.  Lovely.

 So we were watching this movie the other night, I forget the name, and it wasn't really worth looking up anyway, but one of the 4 girls in the movie was a budding actress and the other girls were asking her about what it was like to get head shots taken.  So she was teaching them about what to do... Head down, think of your favorite thing and then flip up your head and snap the picture.  So here she is just after flipping back her head.  This is the stuff she soaks in and never forgets.

 And yes we did consider several options before laying out this lovely ensemble the night before.  The leg up is cute but the goal is to show off those shoes.

 And off she goes to 2nd grade.  It is hard to watch her walk away every year.  She has a whole life and set of experiences at school that I am not a part of.  But I know this is still where God wants her so until that changes I am trusting Him to be there when I am not.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Some things I am doing

I haven't been thinking much lately.  Honestly.  Sometimes I am just filled with thought after thought.  As much as I share here I have had 10 other thoughts I never get around to sharing.  But lately, nothing.  I don't feel profound at all.

But, I am hopeful I will feel profound again soon and I didn't want any of you to think I had given up on this blog so I thought I would share a little of what I am doing while I wait on inspiration.

  • I am reading through the new testament letters.  They are good.  I don't remember why but I was reading in 1 Corinthians earlier this summer.  And it is short so I read 2 Cor and then it ended and...Now I am in Timothy.  Normally I find lots of inspiration in these books.  I mean come on, they are packed with nugget after nugget of brilliance.  It is good but nothing has really been speaking to me.

  • I finally finished "Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl" by Lysa Terkeurst.  It is really good.  I highly recommend it.  If you like my blog you will probably like her.  I feel we are kindred spirits.  Is that wrong to say?  I mean she is a successful author and I am just a wanna be.  Can I compare myself to her?  Well there you are, I did.  I love her honestly about what she is really thinking and the mistakes she makes in her life and yet you can sense the depth of her relationship with the Lord.  I like to share all the ways I am imperfect and I hope that I am growing closer to the Lord each day and developing a depth in my relationship with Him along the way.

My sister has a wonderful ability to share her problems without coming across as needy.  You want to come along side her rather than run from her.  I do not have that gift.  I just like to whine.  However, I think that I am able to share my many mistakes without coming across incompetent.  That seems to be my gift.  Imagine all that we could accomplish if you combined us into one needy and incompetent person.  

  •  I am praying for myself and for other people.  I did have this revelation the other day when I sat down to pray.  I got out my list of people more needy than me but that particular day I was feeling quite needy myself.  But I didn't think I should pray for myself first.  I like to wrap it all up with my brief and minor needs.  That seems more spiritual.  That day God looked at me and said, "stop it!"  "Stop pretending you are all pulled together when I know darn well you aren't.  I can't help you and you can't help others if you don't have your spirit in line."  Because God is bossy like that when he talks to me.  So I am letting myself share my needs first, at least get the big stuff off my chest.  Then let God soak in and bring me peace before I lift up others on my list.  I do try to keep my neediness to a minimum since, as I was saying, I am not the kind of person who shares their neediness in a way that doesn't make you want to run away.  And I do feel more excited about my prayers for others after I get a few thoughts from my own life off my chest.
  • I am working.  Working.  Am I working?  I feel like I am working a lot but not actually doing anything.  It seems like I am losing hours somewhere.  OK that sentence sounds like something a depressed person would say.  I do not believe myself to be depressed.  I have been depressed so I have reference.  I am not depressed.  I am just busy.  And I just can't quite find my organizational groove in this work from home schedule.  I am hopeful that now that Isabelle is back at school and I have 7-1/2 hours of time to manage that I can get into a productivity groove.  I am finding that things like showering and eating are really getting in the way and take up far more time than I would like to dedicate to them.  While my butt probably would benefit from me not eating, I am not sure anyone would benefit from me not showering.  So I am going to have to figure those out.
  • I am wondering.  What is my son doing?  How are his classes going?  Is he making friends?  Is it going well with his roommate?  How does he like ROTC?  Is he working out everyday?  Has he lost any weight yet?  Did he give up the dairy like we counseled him to do? Does he think he is going to be able to pass the fitness test?  Does he like it?  Does he like college?  Is he happy?????  If I never call him will he ever call me?  How long do I have to wait before I can call him and he will be happy to hear from me?  Will that be this weekend? Because I believe that is when I will reach my holding back threshold.  And now I am crying from writing all that.  I think I might miss him more than I have admitted.  It is hard to let go.
So there you have it.  My life.  The creative juices have dried up and I am just going through the motions of life.  But that might just be perfect because this year I am focused on the daily discipline of life.  And even though I don't always FEEL like working, praying, showering, believing, I get up each day and do it anyway.  Because I know this is the path God has me on right now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blank Slate

Tomorrow the last of my 3 students returns to school.  And with Isabelle's return to school I will find myself home alone 7-1/2 hours/day.  My adjustment to working from home this summer has been good but, finally being able to concentrate without interruption, without worrying or wondering how my daughter is spending her summer days, not thinking about all that my son has to do and wondering why he is choosing x-box over those tasks, I am excited this day has come.  To spend a whole day focused on working and business building.  Tomorrow is a very big day.

As I have mentioned once or twice or a million times here on this blog, I love to plan and set goals.  The chalkboard in our kitchen is the place where I put scripture, quotes and other notes of inspiration driving us toward those goals.  But today as I erased the board to prepare it for some new inspiration I had nothing.  Blank.

As I think about this year, in many ways it isn't a new year but a continuation of last year.  There will be differences; I have a new job and Jake is gone.  Those may seem like big differences, but at the end of the day we are working toward the same goals this year as we were last year.

The word of the year here is discipline.  I just think all 4 of us are horribly lacking in this skill.  And while I have come to the conclusion that I am only in charge of myself when it comes to being disciplined, that doesn't mean I can't encourage the rest of my family to consider what that word means in their life.  And actually, I am still in charge of Isabelle too.  But, her discipline training only comes with my own discipline to teach her.

There are a lot of ways to look at discipline but, for me, for this year, it is about the daily habit.  I am great at the big vision but not so great at the daily long term tasks necessary to get to the goal.

So as I looked at the blank slate on my wall wondering what to fill it with I wondered if maybe today wasn't the day that I finish the chalk board.  Maybe it needed to be filled one day at a time, one week at a time throughout the year as we accomplish our goals and develop new healthy habits.  A place where we see our progress, and identify where we have fallen behind and need to catch up.  We are a visual lot here at the Hardacker home.  And seeing those days and weeks that go by while we aren't being disciplined might be just what we need going forward.

Tomorrow we begin the school year.  And we begin not with a bunch of stuff already done, we begin at the beginning.  We begin at zero.  Ready to put one foot in front of the other each day and march toward the next goal, accomplish the next task.

Can't wait to see how God will fill our board this year.  One day at a time.