And so, I said yes

Journal page 21:

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I got a phone call last week asking if I would be interested in teaching two art classes at the private school I taught at last year.

I was hesitant.

Last year was a real struggle at times for many reasons:  some of them were “me” issues and some were issues with the school situation.

I was distracted by things happening at home and was not always as prepared as I would like to have been.  I was teaching Kinder through 2nd grades in the common lunch room area and there were continual distractions as people wandered through.  I’m not totally displeased with the school year overall, but really feel that I could have done better.

This year they asked if I could teach Kinder through 2nd and 3rd through 5th.  I’d be in a small classroom and that is a much more pleasant situation.

I was still hesitant.

It is a large time commitment and I am trying to spend more time making art.

I’m getting ready to be a grandmother.

I’m homeschooling a high-schooler this year.

And so on…

I said yes…

for three reasons.

  1. Without a doubt, the money I’ll make would be helpful as I continue to try and pay down our debt (and for art supplies which are expensive).
  2. I feel that it is important to expose children to art and I am distraught that art is considered to be an “elective” instead of a required subject, or not necessary at all!
  3. I love watching children as they create and discover what they are capable of.  In the early years children (for the most part) believe they are artists and that all things are possible.  Their freedom of expression and interest in play are inspiring.

So, I said yes.

Almost immediately, the anxiety set in.

Will I be able to manage everything?  Did I make a mistake?  Will I do a good job?

My anxiety has been very manageable lately.  I am making progress on the house.  My mood has been mostly stable.  I am back in the studio.

I’m worried that this will upset the balance I’ve been working to maintain.

This is definitely a step outside of the comfort zone I’ve been dwelling in.

Early in the summer, I had drafted a rough schedule of lessons I would do if I was asked to teach again.  I hadn’t anticipated two classes and older students.

Now, I need to get to work and finalize the projects and draw up a supply list.  School starts on the tenth of August.  I want to be better prepared this year.  It will definitely lessen the stress.

I also need to consider the loss of a day at home while planning our homeschool year.  Youngest daughter is taking three classes outside the home this coming year:  American Sign Language, Theater Production, and Spanish 2.  I’ll be covering the rest of the subjects here at home.  Her outside classes are on Wednesday and I’ll be teaching on Friday.  That leaves three days at home to do the rest.  It’s not too early to start planning that out.

All shall be well.

Last week’s Kon-Mari de-clutter of clothes resulted in a box ready for the thrift store.

We are getting ready to put new flooring in the third bedroom that has been sitting empty for over a year waiting on the money to repair it.  It was damaged by a water leak under the house.  One wall also has damage from a water leak in the adjoining bathroom.  Once completed, oldest daughter will move in there from the second living area that she has been occupying along with my studio.  That will give us space to spread out a bit more and accommodate the activities of our busy family.

Unfortunately, that empty room is not really empty.  It has become a catch-all for all kinds of junk.  That’s the declutter project for the rest of the week.

Along with the art journal, several art projects are in process:

 

It’s been busy so far this week and now will be even more so.

Lots of planning and de-cluttering and creating…

All good things.

Yes, all shall be well.

Peace.

The Final Tale

 

But first an update on story #1…the narrative of youngest daughter starting school.  Let me share (if you are a veteran reader you already know this) that I am 100% a liberal arts person.  I understand the basics of the birds and the bees and I can tell a conifer from a deciduous tree.  I know what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar.  That’s about it for biology and chemistry.  As far as math goes, let’s just say that I consider it a win if my checkbook balances and I do that everyday so it’s not too many numbers.

Since I have a definitive bias towards art, literature and writing, it is possible that I may have let the math lessons slide a bit.  Youngest daughter also has struggled with the retention of even the most basic of math facts.  Loads of tears, worksheets, computer programs and textbooks later, we finally happened upon something that worked two months ago.

At the beginning of the summer we were still working on addition and subtraction.  It just didn’t make sense to her.We found a computer program that she really enjoyed and with the looming deadline of placement testing for her new school, she had quite a challenge before her.

Keep in mind that she is entering the sixth grade and had to place in fifth grade or better to take math on campus.  At the beginning of the summer she was at a second grade math level.

She tested on Monday and place firmly at the fourth grade level…almost to fifth. They are allowing her to register for the sixth grade math class based on the fact that she accomplished so much over the summer.  I suspect that she is actually really great at math and just needs a teacher who can guide her (someone who can actually do math and isn’t studying ahead trying to remember how to do long division)!

What these words leave out is how truly hard this all was.  Copious tears and meltdowns for both of us.  Me feeling like I had failed her.  She feeling dumb.  Apologies and hugs. Giving up and starting over.  Endless lists of what we needed to get done (me).  Endless doodling on the page meant for figuring out answers (her).

It is done.  She is entering school on the same level as everyone else in her class.  We saw her desk yesterday with her binder laid out and waiting for her.

That made it so real.  And hard.  And happy.  And proud.  And anxious.  And….

on to story #3…

Binky Goes on an Adventure

I love all my kiddos.  I even like them a lot of the time. Honestly there have been times (in all of our lives) when I would have traded them for a fountain diet coke with crushed ice, but I’ve given that addiction up, so it’s a moot point.  I stuck it out…they didn’t run away from home (well, one of the did, but she came home).

When my two girls left home, I thought I would die.  They both left at the same time and dropping them off at college (the same one my husband and I went to) was impossibly hard.  I survived.  They survived and thrived.

But this is my baby boy, Binky.  This unfortunate nickname is no longer in use, but grew out his extended attachment to his pacifier.

He’s been quietly making plans for his future for quite a while.  He’s never been much on sharing the important stuff.  He’ll coast along for a while and then make a big announcement about what he’s about to do and surprise us all.  I knew he’s been trying to figure out this apartment thing.

I just preferred not to think about it.

It’s time for him to move out.  It’s a good plan.  The apartment is further in towards Austin.  Not too far away for him to bring his laundry home and raid the pantry.

I want him to go and build his life.  He’s an adult. My job is done.

But…he’s also still Binky with all the moments and memories that name symbolizes.

What will my life be like with him not in it all the time.

Sleeping soundly through all the malfunctioning smoke alarms going off for 30 minutes while I try to shut them off.

Endlessly sharing sports names and stats while I struggle to appear interested.

Never straightening out his nasty socks so they can be properly washed.

Continually butting heads with his Dad.

Insisting that the vegetables in a Hot Pocket are enough for a healthy diet.

Living in a room that any decent health inspector would condemn.

Planting daffodil bulbs and sunflowers…well, mainly eating dirt, but we tried.

Always knowing when I need a hug…even when I don’t.

This growing up thing is hard.  For Mom’s and kids.

I’m going to go cry for a while.

It will be okay.

In time.

And, of course, I have Barret the dog to keep me company.  Thank you, Jacob.  I really mean it.

And now…today

Two more layers done.  I kind of hate it at this point.  I walked away rather than paint over it.  That’s not an uncommon reaction.  Today was the easiest day to work on it so far.  I really have missed making stuff.  It’s been months and months and months.  I kept saying that I would get back to it when I got this or that done.  As I’ve discussed recently this and that never get done.

I’m not really a flowers in a vase, still life kind of artist.  We’ll let it “simmer” overnight and see what happens tomorrow.

Decluttered today:

  1. some old seeds
  2. 3 shoes (a pair and a shoe and interestingly enough, the random shoe is not a mate for the odd shoe earlier in the week)
  3. a favorite t-shirt that was more holes than shirt
  4. a stack of old artwork that my kids made – I saved my favorites
  5. an old journal that is not filled with happy memories

I’m going to count today a success.  I made a little money and I made a real dinner for the family.  The trash is out before the trash men are pulling into the cul-de-sac tomorrow morning.  I didn’t yell at anyone and used mainly kind words.  I had to drive the dying car without air-conditioning and it made it where it was going and back and I didn’t melt.  I worked on some art and decluttered and cleared off a surface or two.  My youngest and I did a bunch of school.  Oh, and I deposited the money I made in the bank before we were overdrawn.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Most of the day, I didn’t feel like it was a good day.  But I’ve been regularly reading a friend’s CaringBridge entries and she is relentlessly looking for the bright side.  If she can do it, then I certainly should be able to do so.

So today, I have been trying to live in gratitude – in all things and in all ways…grateful for a car that serves my needs if not my wants, grateful for a small paycheck that was just enough, grateful for excess that allows me to have trash, grateful for people in my life that I love even if they drive me crazy sometimes, grateful for the opportunity to homeschool and spend time with my daughter, grateful for my talents and the desire to use them, grateful to have choices, and opportunity and wise friends.

And that was today.

Groovy!

Sometimes I think that I should stop going to thrift stores because it can be too easy to buy stuff.

Other days I know that thrift store shopping is a great idea for someone who is trying to live a more intentional deliberate life.

For example, I like to shop for a lot of my family’s clothes at thrift stores.  I can get better brands and quality than I can normally afford so I’m saving money.  I’m not buying cheap crap that carries the weight of a myriad of social, environmental, and economic issues.  Because the stuff has been worn and washed, I know ahead of time how its going to wear and I don’t buy something that is going to have to be ironed.  That’s just never going to happen around here.

I don’t buy all of our clothing second-hand.  Some stuff is just supposed to be new if you know what I mean and sometimes you just can’t find what you need when you need it.

Because of thrift stores my husband can wear Hawaiian shirts that are actually from Hawaii.  My kid can wear the Justice, Gap and Old Navy clothes that she wants.  If it hangs in the closet for a bit and doesn’t really get worn all that much, it’s no great loss – we just donate it back.  Win…win!

The same goes for other stuff around the house:  dishes, decorative items, art supplies, sometimes furniture, etc…

I’ve just learned (and am learning) to be careful and thoughtful about purchases.

Then there is the magical day – the day that I was just meant to end up at the thrift store even if I was in a bad mood and was looking for some retail therapy even though I knew that buying something wouldn’t necessarily make everything all better.

Because what I found did make things better when I was dealing with a preteen child who shall remain nameless who was perhaps being a bit moody and difficult to deal with.  The kind of day when I needed to remind myself that love conquers all and I do love her more than I could ever have imagined because her life was indeed a miracle in more ways than one.  The day when I kept telling myself that I have survived three other adolescents and none of them are in jail and neither am I even though they might have inspired murderous thoughts at one time or another.

I found this at the thrift store yesterday:

IMAG1197 (1)IMAG1199A genuine 1969 Spirograph Plus missing only one piece.  It still has it’s original cardboard mat and most of the original paper.  How groovy is that!  It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you are playing with a Spirograph.

When you are playing with a Spirograph it’s easy to remember that you love that smart, beautiful, creative little girl who is trying to grow up in a big family in an even bigger world.  The little girl who is figuring out who she is and what her talents are.  The little girl with strength, determination and grit that sometimes comes across as stubbornness and defiance.

When you stop and just spend some time together, you remember that sometimes life is hard and taking the time to play and just “be” for a bit is a splendid idea.

Payday!

Today is a day to roam from one task to another in an effort to catch-up and maintain some semblance of order and peace in our life.

First, off to the grocery store to help shop for a home for handicapped kids and adults – one of my part-time jobs.  That makes every Wednesday a small payday of it’s own.  This year I’m making it a game to see how much of our grocery supply I can provide off of this small check.  We are eating through the freezer and pantry to see how far we can stretch without a major shopping trip.  Any money we save from this will go into our newly opened savings account!  We haven’t had a savings account in many, many years.  Now, we have one, albeit a small one.  I’m counting it as a major win in our effort to live more intentionally and be more fiscally responsible.

Next, a major push to catch-up on the homeschooling front.  We had a lot of fun during the holidays celebrating with family and friends. I’m sure we learned more than a thing or two, but…we didn’t actually do any of the “official” school stuff that I had written in the planner.  Now, we are trudging through.  As always, I’m not putting too much emphasis on the books and worksheets.  They can be useful, but are not the be-all and end-all of learning.

Finally, I’m going to work on clearing out the studio in preparation for a weekend renovation binge.  Friday is the big payday and I get to buy the paint and flooring to finish out the space.  I’ve decided on white paint for the walls, placid sea (blueish) for the cabinet, and citrus peel for the shelves.  The floor will be black and white linoleum squares.

Payday is always exciting around here, but this one will be especially welcome.  I can’t wait to have a new space to work in.  I have lots of projects in mind!

I am feeling extraordinarily creative at the moment.  Not sure what’s prompting it, but it is a welcome change.  Perhaps the increased meds are helping.  The cloud seems to be lifting.

Life is good!

The Return of the Crud

I felt sooooo much better yesterday.  I got quite a lot done.  I made big plans for today.

Today, the “crud” returned.  Maybe the cold is gone and allergies have flared up.  The first cedar pollen bud watchers have reported that the buds are popping.  Yes, the allergies are so bad here that we have folks who watch out for this sort of thing.

In any case, the fever is back.  I lay down for a short rest and slept 3 hours.  Nothing much was accomplished…

– other than some school catch-up.

Math is killing us.  We just aren’t making noticeable progress.  I have a pretty stubborn kiddo and if I hear, “I hate Math” one more time…

I’m going to sweetly suggest that we give it another go.  Maybe.

I did spend some time reading blogs about folks who are decluttering and simplifying and reducing waste and growing and cooking all their own food.  No waste. No additives.  All from scratch.  While chopping their own firewood for the stove in the home they built themselves.  With their children who are already doing advanced calculus in 3rd grade.  After hiking in Nepal for summer break.  And making their own laundry detergent to wash their clothes that they make themselves – 100% cotton, of course.

I’m not judging.  More power to them!  I’d be right there with them if I could figure it out.  If I could declutter enough stuff.  If I could get out of debt.  If I had started 30 years ago. If I could remember to water the plants right by my front door, much less grow a garden.  If I didn’t take a 3 hour nap.  If.

But hey!  I’m in a better place right now than I was a year ago.  I’ve paid down over $2000.00 on our debt.  Loads of stuff has left and I’m not hauling it in anymore.  I’m not “running with the crowd” anymore without trying to be more intentional.

I’m thinking about it.

I’m trying.

I’m learning to be “me” and live my own life –

with what I have to work with.

More power to me!

Gone today:

  1. a piece of wall art
  2. two sweaters – one of which makes me look like a melting snowman.
  3. a worn-out pair of p.j. pants
  4. used up some hand-made paper that has been waiting around for years for the “perfect” project.  turned it into guerilla art cards
  5. 11 small bottles of colored glue leftover from an art class and the plastic box they are stored in.