Raising Adults

If my boys ever pass out of the girls-are-yucky phase, a daughter-in-law will one day point an accusing finger at me because “You’re son left the seat up.”

It’s been said (by whom I can’t remember) that we parents aren’t raising children, but future adults.  No pressure there.

But there is progress.  Today I’m celebrating the following recent entries in the win column:

  • I didn’t have to re-wash the dishes after my children did them!  They even washed the outside of the bowls.
  • Last week my 12-year-old asked, “Are you using the washer today?  I’d like to do my laundry.”  and then he did his laundry!  And put it away!  With only a couple of reminders!
  • He also bakes and washes up after.
  • The number of times I sit in pee on the toilet seat has dramatically diminished in the last few months.
  • My reluctant reader is reading (slowly) and writing letters and lists voluntarily.*

Their struggles are my struggles.  I know how hard it is to do things without being told.  I still hate brushing my teeth.  I still have to force myself to wash the dishes.  I still prefer to wear pajamas all day. It’s hard not to overeat.  It’s hard not to doodle around on the computer all day.  It’s hard to exercise regularly.  I have become accustomed to exerting my will over these difficulties, but it still feels hard and I sometimes fail.  So I understand why they question the need for a top sheet.

*Thanks, Julie for program recommendations. And thanks for documenting your own path through this “boybarian” wilderness.  It has been more helpful than I can explain to see your boys growing into responsible adults.

On Age and Feeling

Age has a way of dulling passion.  You can say “tempering” instead of dulling if you prefer, but it all adds up to less:  less feeling, less expression, less certainty.

Rage doesn’t happen.  The white hot uncontrollable, flinging, spewing, guitar-smashing fire ebbs away.  Its space is taken up by tutting sarcasm, stealth sniping, detached cynicism that just can’t be bothered.

The acquisition of wisdom means self-containment.  My life becomes a mask of calm politeness and you can only wonder whether or not it reflects the truth.

Age makes hypocrites of us all.

When you were twelve, you said any old stupid thing and the people you didn’t scare off are probably still your friends now that you’re fifty.

When you were twenty, you knew everything and you shared your knowledge with everyone.  The people you didn’t alienate are now your family.

Note:  This is a writing exercise from a book called Writing Life Stories.  I’m feeling pretty good right now, so don’t worry too much about the weirdness.  

Welcome to My Mid-life Crisis

There are dishes waiting to be washed. They’d take ten minutes to do but I’ve been delaying for eight hours. I should go to bed and start fresh in the morning but guilt is keeping me in this kitchen chair.

The thoughts I think lately! Shocking. Dirty, snarky, true and funny, but out of character for me I think. A friend of mine says in a few years I’ll lose my filter and I’ll start saying those thoughts out loud and then I can officially begin my career as an eccentric old lady. It’s already starting. Today I heard that so-and-so lives in Rochester and I said, “On purpose?”

I’m cold all the time now.

And hungry.

I think I’m happier than I was this time last year. I’m certainly busier than I was this time last year. I go to the gym, I take the kids swimming, I occasionally shop, I babysit the kid next door. The secret is that I’m coasting on the habits I started to build before winter depression set in. I just have to keep it going. Once I fall down I might never get back up.

Plus, I’m thinner than I was last year, so that’s something.

I wish I could do or make something really beautiful but I don’t know how.

I’m not even sure I know who I am. Who I think I am. Who other people think I am. Or why any of that matters at all. Really it’s just about who He says I am. But I look in the mirror and I see a serious, furrow-browed, middle-aged woman – someone who looks like she knows something. But inside I’m all silliness and anxiety. Insecurity just ain’t cute at my age.

What is there to look forward to? What milestones? What adventures? Rhetorical, don’t answer.

My husband doesn’t want to be my companion in seeking out new worlds and new civilizations. He doesn’t want to hike the Appalachian trail with me. I think he might be planning his death. Sometimes I think he’s surprised he’s lasted this long; he thought he was elderly at 34.

And then what for me? I’ll wish we’d made love more, that I’d been nicer, complained less, washed the dishes. Oh, the dishes.

God Is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep*

Barring the kind of divine intervention I have not seen in my lifetime, it was bound to be  a dark day no matter how things shook out.

Well, OK then.  May I have the kind of faith to remember that God raised up Pharaoh for his own reasons*, and that there is no power but of God*, and to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s* (and not a denarius more!)

*1. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

2. Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17

3. Romans 13:1-7

4. Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 12:25

Creative Boxes in Bed

When I was  a very little girl being raised by a single mom in an apartment in which it was forbidden to run or jump, and outside play for a small child was difficult to manage,  I would sometimes set up the I’m bored whine.  And my mother would rattle off a list of things I could do.  Why don’t you play with your dolls?  Make a tent.  Get out your Lite Brite.  Go see what’s in your creative box.

a current creative box with some squished dust bunnies

a current creative box with some squished dust bunnies

Under my bed there was a square plastic bin that had been part of  a diaper changing table which was kept full of construction paper and crayons, small containers of paste, odds and ends that mom could spare.  I’d pull it into a corner of my room or up onto the bed and I’d be lost in my own world.

The things I made didn’t often resemble the pictures in my imagination.  In fact, I often didn’t even know what I was imagining until it took physical form.

some quilt blocks I'm working on

some quilt blocks I’m working on

I live in a pretty big house now and I could have a dedicated craft room if I wanted it, but I’d never use it.  And sure, I can sew from a pattern; it’s a useful skill.  But I enjoy and take great comfort from getting into my freshly made bed and surrounding myself with odds and ends that can be spared for my crafting.

one way to

one way to “hide” craft supplies is to put them on display

Today there are several creative boxes tucked under my bed and in various other hidey spots around my bedroom.  They’re full of sewing things and embroidery, paper crafts, crochet and knitting, drawing items, writing ideas.  I’m typing this from my bed right now and I had very little idea what I was going to be writing before I began.

So, is there anyone else out there who crafts from a favorite cozy place, bed or otherwise?

Less Talk, More Action

I think I sprained my uvula.  I was sipping coffee vigorously and I think I twisted the little guy.  You know how it is.

And that’s the most blog-worthy thing that’s going on these days.

The local pool will be closed for the season as of Tuesday so we went on Saturday though we generally avoid the weekend crowds AND even though the temperature was only in the low 70s F.  It has been a wonderful summer being dunked by my little boys.  Shhh – don’t tell them I’ve been taking a dive.

Wearing a swimsuit in public has gotten easier with exposure (HA!) and with the deep dark sun damage my skin has experienced.  It also gets easier with every pound I lose, which means I’m a lot vainer than I really wanted to admit.  It’s also easier to shave when the belly’s not getting in the way of bending.

So, yes, I’ve been keeping up with my fitness goals.  I’ve finished couch to 5k and am working on my speed and endurance; I think I can do a full lap at the pool, though I’m waiting to test that at the YMCA this fall; and I’m on track to hit a healthy BMI some time in the next five months.  I’ve also added some other goals because apparently when there is a formula to follow, I can do almost anything.

It turns out that if I really want to accomplish something I need to refrain from talking about it too much.  Less talk, more action.  So, that’s why  I haven’t been blogging much about it.  Well, that, and the fact that while losing weight and feeling strong is exciting to experience, it’s pretty boring reading about the minutia involved with getting there.

But OK, since you asked, I’ve lost about forty pounds since January and I have about thirty to go.  I’ve done it by eating fewer calories than I am burning.

Culling Roosters on Independence Day

This is the third year we’ve turned chickens into food.  See here and here.  Some differences this year –

  • We didn’t buy cornish cross chicks – the so-called meat birds that possess a body shape that resembles the chickens found in grocery stores.
  • Instead we decided to cull our extra roosters.  There were too many and were getting to be a little hard on the hens.
  • We only did two birds rather than ten or twenty.
  • I did not do any of the work.  My husband did it all himself with a little help from the kids.  The kids rounded up the two birds and put them in a crate.  My husband set up the pulley and bucket, table and hose, scald pot and plucking counter.  All I did was remind him to wear long sleeves and to read the directions.
hen with bald patch because of too many roosters

hen with bald patch because of too many roosters


covered animal crate

covered animal crate


bucket , table, hose

bucket , table, hose


one of three roosters who gets to stay

one of three roosters who gets to stay

  • Because these were older, scrawnier birds they’ll probably be for the pot rather than for roasting.

Our roasting chickens were delicious and twenty of them lasted us almost a full year so we’ll probably do that again next year, but at least we’ve got something.  And it’s nice to move a little closer to sustainability.

Enjoying Today

Bright yellow light is filtering through green leaves. I’m feeling all the promise of an unspoiled day.

The house will stay messy today because we are going out right after school. We’ll go look at the falls and climb some stairs and take deep fresh breaths and exert our muscles and use all these gifts that we take for granted too often.

Then tonight we’ll stay up too late waiting for the last light to leave the sky while we collect lightning bugs and poke the little flame in our ring of creek stones which doesn’t really approach the magnificence of a bonfire but which we give that name anyway. We’ll come home filthy and tired, covered in charcoal and bug bites, grateful for a shower and bed.

What a luxurious life! Hot coffee, slow starting, warm air, interesting children, books to read, clean sheets, comfy chair, creative projects, long walks. My favorite things. What are yours?

Soda Bottle Rockets

One of the best things about homeschooling is time and flexibility – drawing the attention of my students to the feast that is set before them and then allowing them to take their fill.

I wish we had the time and the … whatever it is… to study like the ancient Greeks; sit in a room with some sand on the floor and figure out geometry. Not because it’s necessarily useful (though it is!) but because it is interesting, beautiful and just because it IS.

My middle boy spent some of his own money on a big jug of white vinegar and two boxes of baking soda and has spent every free minute for the past three days figuring out the best way to make various pieces of recycling shoot into the air. I’m pretty sure it was the best $3.60 he ever forked out.

I could show him videos and books that demonstrate the “best” way of doing this but he is so invested– financially, temporally, emotionally, intellectually – I don’t want to ruin it. It would be like telling Archimedes about pi while he was figuring out his approximation.

Bonus: he has been entertaining his brothers as well.