The State of Things

14 10 2011

I’m completely out of coffee this morning. My loving hubby has offered to run out and grab me a cup, so I’m waiting for him to finish his workout first. Hahaha. At least I can smile about that, right? I’ve been depressed for some time, as I made the decision not to go for that expensive BS in Alternative Medicine that holds no great promise for a job to pay back 60K in student loans. Smart – I know. So I didn’t register for classes; the summer was simply not enough time to sort it out, since I didn’t take summer off last year and so have not had a break from school through a run of semesters: Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring. Whew! What was I thinking?

I’m breaking now, though, like it or not! And I didn’t like it one bit, at first. After starting on some herbal therapy, though, I’m having a different outlook. I still am not sure of the path I’ll end up taking, but I feel better, and am looking forward to finishing some unfinished projects in the weeks to come.

Those few weeks of public school at the end of the last academic year didn’t scare my daughter into staying home one more year – not that I wanted it to scare her, really – just hoped it’d be less than she’d hoped. So she’s back in this fall, and I am all alone again…without classes for myself! It’s been very hard. I’ve continued with the belly dancing, missing class a few times when I was way in the dumps. I’ve taken a quilt-as-you-go class and finished a small lap quilt with a great deal of satisfaction. I’ve loved quilts for as long as I can remember, putting them together for my babies when they were small, from the directions in books and just my own common sense – no masterpieces in the small collection, but they hold memories for me and for the kids, and they love them, despite the fact that they don’t show great skill. I’ve learned some very useful things now, and have the resources to take classes, and of course there’s the internet with its video tutorials and such to turn to – so this go at learning to quilt should prove to build real skill if I work at it. And I think I will.

We’re watching our children suffer the harms of growing up, offering advice and lots of hugs, wishing we could just make it all go away. Sometimes I really can understand why people join these eccentric communes and alternative societies, because what they are searching for is truth in people and real community. That never turns out well, so I guess I’ll keep treading water in suburbia.

I’ve always been a great patriot, but as much as I try to deny it, there’s less and less to be patriotic about. It makes me sad, what America has sunken to. History in schools is certainly not the same history I taught my kids from home. Now they focus on whether Alexander the Great was homosexual, which presidents had STDs, and label the Sons of Liberty as terrorists. It truly makes me want to vomit. Americans today are always asking what their country can do for them. Parents don’t parent any more – they send the kids to school all day and put them in activities that use up every evening so they don’t have to parent; by the time the day is done, they just plop them in bed. No wonder todays kids are angry, confused and expect everything to revolve around them and life to be easy. To make matters worse, God, who offers refuge, love, and guidance, has been shoved into a nice little box so as to not make us feel guilty for our choices or afraid of the consequences of our actions. No wonder this country is spinning out of control, and on a downward spiral at the same time. Honestly, I do feel like I don’t even belong in this time. I know that technically, I do, because God put me here, but it is impossible even to try to witness to people these days – Christians cannot tell people the truth, not just because they don’t want to hear it, which has always been the case, but because now, they are actually accused of being judgmental and closed-minded. They don’t realize that these are not Christians’ opinions – they’re God’s!

I try not to get all worked up, but when my children are bullied or hurt because they are conscientious and my husband abused because he has a good work ethic and Christians are labeled as fanatics when they speak of Godly values, it just makes me angry. What’s wrong with people?





Still Searching

19 05 2011

With the semester ended and both my precious children on the public school treadmill, I have found myself at  home alone most days.  I’m not really sure what to think of it, yet, because it is truly a new experience.  I grew up the oldest of four – in that situation, you are never alone.  I left my parents’ home entering into marriage, and so have never lived alone.  Before we had children, I worked or went to school most of the day, so I was not alone then, either, as my husband also returned home at the end of the day.  When my children grew to be school-aged, I educated them myself.  But now, for the first time in my life, I am spending considerable amounts of time alone.

I guess I’ve made it sound like a bad thing, but that’s not my intention or my feeling about it.  The quiet is nice, and the freedom to choose what I do with my daily hours is nice, but I have not yet taken advantage of that.  For now, I tend to the housework at a slower pace than before, and sprinkle in some reading, Facebook and silent reflection over too many cups of coffee in the morning.  It’s good to think.

I nay have changed my mind about college.  Over the last year of classes, I have realized that I don’t think I’d like working in a clinical setting with patients who have been referred to a dietician.  So I looked into nutrition…thinking that I’d have a bigger impact there.  If I don’t enjoy teaching students who do not love to learn, why would I want to teach adults how to eat if they don’t really want to change?  But my work options with that degree aren’t that exciting, either.  What the heck do I want?  I really need to know in order to choose a path, but the truth is that I just don’t know.

Some days, I dream of running a little shop that offers some food…I love to cook, and offers nutritional counseling…I’d love to make it easier to decipher the whole nutritional realm for clueless Americans who’ve been confused by fads and commercials for too long, and offers some classes…in maybe cooking, nutrition, belly dancing, different kinds of art….  Isn’t that funny?  I’ve never heard of such a place, but all the things I love to do under one roof for others to discover, enjoy, and pay me to do them just sounds great!  Hahaha.  We all have a dream, right?

I’m looking also at a degree in Alternative Medicine.  It’s new, and so I’m not really grasping the work possibilities with such a degree, but the course list is the most interesting one I have ever seen.  Herbology, Nutrition and Aging, Chinese Medicine, Feng Shui, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Chiropractic, Stress Reduction, Dietary Influences on Disease, Naturopathy, Antioxidants, Detoxification…the list goes on.  What I am not sure about is what exactly I could do with it.  I am told that I’d have many options – that I could work at wellness centers, alternative medicine practices, spas and health centers, or continue my education to specialize in any of the disciplines and work for myself.  But I guess I’m afraid that those places are limited in number, and certainly not sure I want to obligate myself to continue beyond a Bachelor’s Degree.  Besides, I don’t know how much interest I really have in these things, and there’s really no way to know until you get to a point with it where you are either engrossed and desiring to know more, or getting glazed over with the feeling that you know enough to feel sure that you don’t want to know more.  What to do?

There are those days when I wonder why I am going to school at all.  I believe we should always try to better ourselves.  I am not convinced that formal education is the best way to do that – but what are my alternatives?  I guess I don’t know.

Several months ago, a friend invited me to try a belly dancing class.  I reluctantly agreed, and I have to say that it has been one of the most profound experiences I have ever had.  It is the new-found acceptance of myself and a renewed unapologetic declaration of  my views within myself that is making me spend so much time thinking.  I know what I think; I just don’t know what to do with it, yet.  It seems to me that I have always been unconventional – whether I was comfortable being so or not.  I am more in tune to that now than I have ever been, and for now, at least, I feel that I am completely over being uncomfortable with it.

I am very interested in natural approaches to wellness and healing, and a better way of living than the state of hurried, frazzled, stressed, non-stop lifestyle that most Americans find themselves in.  I have lived and experienced enough to know that we should slow down, foster relationships with those around us, as well as with our Creator, listen to our bodies, pace ourselves and prioritize.  But do I feel passionately about helping others learn to do that?  I’m just at the edge of discovering how to do so for myself.  Is the fact that it’s all new what makes it so interesting?  I just don’t know.

I took an extensive spiritual gifts survey through our church, and it indicated that my natural God-given gifts were for teaching and serving.  No big surprise to me or to those closest to me – but what I can do with those encompasses the world, it seems.  I can certainly narrow that down into the things that God would want people to learn, though – and a lot fits into that as well.  I believe that if we pray for our desires to become His, which I have done for years, that He will give us passions that line up with His plans for us.  And so, I shouldn’t feel so mixed up, I guess.  Then why do I?

Fear.  I am afraid of the debt I will acquire to educate myself.  I am afraid of being in a position in which I have to work to pay the debt, when as of now, work is a choice (that most people around me tell me they wish they had).  I am afraid I will not find work in the field, that I will not enjoy the work once I find it, or that I will get partially through the education and lose interest.  I don’t know exactly how many times in the Bible that God tells us not to fear, but it is many.  I just don’t trust myself.  And so I waver constantly.





Drive-Thru Summer

29 06 2010

It’s hard to believe that is was May when I last posted…not that I haven’t had plenty to say 😉  Summer feels like a Drive-thru!  Summer?  You mean that hot time of year?  I have managed to lay on a man-made lake beach for one day and hike for a couple of miles.  That’s it.  Now I did clean my house, plant a few veggies, and do a LOT of Algebra so far 🙂  I’m hoping I can glean some of what’s left of summer fun out of the next six weeks, and that Fall goes gloriously slow, since it’s my true favorite 🙂

I’ve completed that Algebra class, and have begun another.  I sorta kinda get it – but not always 😉  I’ve gotten much better at not complaining about it.  It doesn’t do any good, for one thing, and I’ve just resolved within myself that it is one of many things I must do, whether I like it or not, so I might as well just dig my heels in and do my best.

My Gracious God helped me come to that conclusion, actually (we can never really take credit for our ideas and attitudes, you know).  I was praying for strength and resolve when having a particularly hard time – not just with Algebra, but just with life.  As He sometimes does, God straightened me right out…no pampering the whining.  I opened my Bible and began to read, and was led to read Hebrews 12.  I had no idea what was in Hebrews 12, so I turned there and began to read.  Turns out it is about God disciplining those He loves.  Hmm.  Then I got to verses 12 and 13, and they jumped off the page at me.

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.  Mark out a straight path for your feet.  Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.”

Needless to say, I was instantly overwhelmed with shame for whining.  I am blessed well beyond what I deserve, and I became overwhelmed with that sense as well.  Sometimes we think that if we aren’t missionaries or preachers or something, that our calling has less impact in God’s plan to save the world, but that simply isn’t true at all.  Whatever our calling is at different stages in our lives, we should be grateful that He includes us in his work and that we are on his team in exactly the way in which we are needed at exactly the right time.

God is so good.





Sleepy time

12 05 2010

It is late, and I am tired, but I am not in bed.  I don’t know…just a lot of stuff rolling around in my mind.  Not bad stuff – just stuff I need to do that I’m trying to remember not to forget to do – like adding stuff to the calendar so I don’t forget about it altogether.  Also I keep thinking about a couple of home improvement projects that I’d love to get my hands dirty with but don’t have time right now (like painting the kitchen and stripping the carpet off the stairs).  And of course, there’s the large stack of bags of mulch in the driveway that needs distribution.  By the way, did you know that it is better to buy your mulch in bags than by the truckload/scoop?  A neighbor who works for a pest control company told us that the heat generated by the sun in the enclosed bags kills the bug larvae lurking in the mulch.  Who knew?  I guess he did!  So although it’s a bit cheaper to have a scoop dumped in my hubby’s pickup, we go buy the bags.

Since I last posted, I have completed a semester of college.  It feels good.  It went by much faster than I expected.  I made A’s.  So far, so good, aye?  Summer session has already begun and I have turned in my first Algebra assignments.  It’s not too bad, algebra.  It’s not really math – it’s more like puzzle solving.  And as soon as I can get myself to think of it that way first, some of my anxiety about it will dissipate. LOL.

I just never liked math.  Didn’t stink at it entirely, just never had a good math teacher through elementary and middle school, so I just floated along with bare minimum skills and knowledge.  I took Geometry, Algebra I and II in high school and did fine, but I did have to work hard.  I didn’t really get it, either – I followed the steps and got results, but I couldn’t have explained any of it to a toad!

  Homeschooling my children is where/when math clicked.  I found myself having Eureka! moments constantly – even with simple addition.  The first time was with double-digit addition.  While showing my son how to “carry”, he kept coming up with the answer before I could work through the problem.  He’d blurt it out and I’d be baffled.  Turns out he just “got it” and explained to me that “adding all the 10’s and then the rest is easier than carrying, Mom.”  He had to be, what?  About 2nd grade, I think.  He’s been doing that to me ever since.  So I guess he taught me math, really.  I couldn’t believe such things never occurred to me – I just did it how the teacher said and never thought about the numbers themselves.  So when I get stuck a bit on an algebra problem (yes, it has happened several times already), I call him in to save the day.  I still have those Eureka! moments and think to myself, “Why didn’t I see that?” 

He had to choose a book from a list for English class and guess what?  He chose my favorite author!  I was secretly so thrilled, and I’m really hoping that it inspires him to read more of Michener.  He’s reading The Bridges of Toko-Ri (which is one I haven’t read), and he is enjoying it.  I’ve already recommended The Covenant, but trying not to get my hopes up.

My little girl is so growing up.  It is so bittersweet, too.  She wants to add another sport to her life, so we are checking into it.  Apparently the local middle school is recruiting home schoolers for cross-country.  Soccer she loves.  She is so dedicated.  Last night she was in the yard pushing herself (after an hour of soccer practice) to get her front handspring back.  She could do it a few years ago, but is way out of practice and her rapid physical growth must make it feel quite awkward from when she was able to do it before.  She worked hard at it.  All for soccer, of course.  She wants to be able to do a flip throw-in.  Don’t know what that is?  Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AryIzGfOWIU

This makes me want to video  her next soccer game.  I haven’t done that yet.  Last Saturday, the coach put her on offense for less than two minutes and she scored.  We knew she would by the look on her face when she came through with the ball — sheer determination.  It was nice for her.  She usually prefers being on defense and does really well with that.  Most of her opponents are pretty intimidated by her, and her teammates ask her to trade places with them when they get put up against someone who is bigger or who plays rough.  She is always glad to do it.

Whenever I end a post abruptly, I am reminded of my Grandma, who calls occasionally and says whatever she called to say or ask whatever she called to ask, and then says “Bye” pretty abruptly.  Oh, she takes time to stick in the “Love you” and all, but it is always a mite unexpected when she just up and says, “Well, I love you, honey.  Bye.”   It’s funny.

So here goes…I’m sleepy now.  Bye.





To My Credit… and Pasta, Yum!!

10 03 2010

Funny how the term “credit” is used to mean so many different things, isn’t it?  I mean, there’s credit and then there’s credit.  Hee hee.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Having returned to college this semester, I had sent for my transcript from my old university, so that every credit I’d earned in the past could be applied to help my wallet and my efforts to reach a goal.  All wapping 15 of them….  Hey! It’s a start!  Last week, I checked to be sure that they had been officially applied, and I learned that they had only applied 12 of them.  The other three had been earned at a community college while I was still in high school and were transferred to the university I went to.  They had been on the official transcript that I turned in to my current college, but I supposed that meant that transferred credits don’t transfer!  So, of course, since 3 credit hours means tons of actual hours spent working and a few hundred bucks, I sent for an official transcript for those too, from the college at which I earned them.  It came today – they were fast! 

When those get applied officially, it will give me 15 hours, and today my daughter pointed out that I was more than halfway through my Psychology book, which should mean I’m halfway through the semester.  She’s right!  I’m 9 weeks in, with 7 weeks to go (not counting spring break, which maybe should mean 8 to go, since I’ll not be “off” but writing 2 research papers instead).  It’s nice to realize that, though, and it is encouraging to see that time is passing more quickly than I thought it would when I started out.  A semester seemed like a long time in December and January, but it is already more than half over.

Pretty soon, I’ll have 27 hours down…and a lot to go.  I was looking at the program last night.  All said, after supervised practice, I’ll have 149 to 158 hours, depending on the path I take that last year or two.  Wow.  I can’t think about that today.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.

I’ve enjoyed my classes so far, and the family support hasn’t wavered in the face of increased household duties for them, which is quite nice.  I spend an unbelievable amount of time doing classwork, which makes me question if I’ll ever be able to take on more than 12 credit hours a semester.  I suppose if I weren’t homeschooling…but though my daughter is ready to try school, I’m not ready to let her 🙂  That, we will leave up to God, who knows best.

I don’t even want to think about that right now.  I’ll think about that tomorrow, too. 

The weather was very nice today.  It was sunny, and although not exactly warm, wasn’t cold either.  We opened the back door and a front window and let the house breeze a bit.  It was very nice to smell the fresh air and feel a stirring in the air.  I can now begin to believe that spring will arrive.  I wasn’t so sure this awful winter.

I actually cooked a real meal today.  All semester I’ve been cooking, so I don’t mean to say that I haven’t been, but I have carefully chosen quick-to-prepare meals and enlisted other cooks to either do it all or help, depending on my classwork deadlines.  The last week or two, I have seen not a reduction in the workload with my classes – that has remained the same, but I am able to do that work in less time, it seems.  So this weekend when I planned the week’s meals, I included a bit more labor-intensive choices.  Today I made pasta with chicken, baked with a creamy basil sauce, with fire-roasted tomatoes, topped with mozzerella.  Yummy!!  We were all very pleased with the way it turned out, and it will be a permanent addition to our meal list.  No, we don’t have an actual list.

I didn’t have a recipe, so if you need one complete with measurements and all, I can’t help you.  I had tried a similar dish in a restaurant and had tried to find a recipe online, but each one I looked at either had things in it that weren’t in the dish I tried, or did not have things that were included, so I had no choice but to wing-it.

I boiled and sliced boneless chicken breasts (grilling would’ve been better, but it wasn’t possible this time).  I cooked some whole-grain pasta, and tossed both with the cream sauce and baked it in a dish topped with mozzerella.  To make the cream sauce, I melted some neufchatel cheese in milk on very low heat, stirred in some basil pesto to taste, and added drained fire-roasted tomatoes.  It is simple and delicious.  Let me know if you give it a try!





Call me “Dragging Butt”

23 02 2010

I made very good progress with the treadmill declaration for a week.  I have VangoNotes for Medical Terminology, and they last roughly a half-hour for each chapter, so it was very nice to study and exercise at the same time.  I got on the treadmill for four days out of the five weekdays.  I took off on Saturday, with the intention of hitting the treadmill on Sunday, but it never happened.  Here’s the deal:

I went to church Sunday morning, volunteering for one service and staying to attend the next, as usual.  By the time the second service ended, that little headache that developed at some point that morning had turned into a monster.  I was feeling the raw, dull pain, experiencing a slight sensitivity to the light and noise, and began to tense up in fear of what this could turn into.  We went to my brother’s for a visit, and out to see the new house he’s building in the country.  Before we left I was having waves of nausea that came and went mysteriously, and the pain was worsening.  Despite it, I really enjoyed getting to visit with them and see the house, which had progressed a very long way since I’d seen bare acreage!  We drove the hour home and I went straight to bed.

My honey and the kids went to the store to get a few things and brought back some ibuprofen for me.  I took 800 mg  and laid back down.  I stayed there until my mom and grandpa arrived to spend the night before catching an early flight.  When I got up to welcome them I was feeling much better, with just that foggy threatening ache in the background.  The next morning, and for part of the next day, that foggy ache taunted me and kept me from engaging in study or tv, which may have invited the entire thing to go into reverse and put me back in bed.  I had no choice but to take two tests during this time, but I had already prepared for them, so it was just a matter of getting online long enough to take the exams.

Needless to say, I wasn’t on the treadmill for Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.  Wednesday came, and I did manage to get on the treadmill.  Thursday, I awoke to a sore throat, complete with congestion and cough, which I’m still recovering from.  I sound like a frog, and though I am fiercely working to catch up on the schoolwork that I neglected because of the headache, I am feeling better every day.

Why is it that a headache and cold (or sinus trouble, or something) has to invade me just when I’ve committed to exercise?  Of course, it would be unwise to exercise when I’m sick, so I am waiting it out until I don’t feel like my butt is dragging, and I’ll be back on the machine for a brisk walk every day.

<Sigh>

Well I’ve got to study for a cumulative mid-term, so I’m going to get cracking!

The house is a wreck.

<Sigh>





Starting up the Presses…Again

12 02 2010

I just read my last post, and it doesn’t seem possible that it was from this fall.  It seems like that was ages ago so much has happened.  It is certainly time to get back into the habit of writing – I have missed it.  I’ll attempt to fill in the almost six-month gap that I have managed to create.

We still have jelly, and frozen apples.  They are being pulled from the pantry and freezer, respectively, as we need them, but there is still enough to last a while.  The jelly is just as yummy and the apples are being used most often in Apple Cake.  (Although I’ll probably be making Amish Friendship Bread for a while in place of the cake, until we get tired of that.)

School with my daughter has become much, much easier.  I think she must have been going through a phase…or maybe it was me.  But she doesn’t hesitate to come to me when she has finished her independent work or when she needs me.  She has matured a lot in other ways, as well, and has taken to doing some of what needs to be done without being asked (like putting the clothes in the dryer if she is closer when it buzzes), and has a better attitude in general.

The biggest change around here is that I am going to school myself full-time now.  It’s a long story, so you may want to grab a snack 😉  I didn’t finish college the first time around, and I didn’t think I’d ever go back.  For almost 20 years, I had not thought of one thing that I was interested enough to want to get a degree in and work at every day.  Since my oldest started middle school (he’s in 10th grade now), I’ve been praying from time to time that God would give me direction, because for the first time, I fully realized and accepted that I would not be homeschooling forever, and would not feel fulfilled staying home after that phase of my life ended.  At first, I thought that I would volunteer full-time, either in one place, or several places, on different days.  This plan seemed like it may be right for the next year or so, as I came upon many places that I would like to invest in. 

It was sometime during October that I feel like God revealed to me his plan for me.  He made me realize that I have always been interested in food and health, and how food affects health and how food can make health issues worse, cause them, or help manage them.  I have always taken a multi-vitamin and other supplements, given them to my children, modified recipes to make them healthier, and just generally been interested in diet.  He revealed to me through my own high blood pressure and family members’ health issues that peoples lives can really be affected by the way they eat.  So I am working toward a degree in Dietetics!   It can’t be my plan, because I would never have thought of it myself, even though in retrospect, I remember my sister jokingly saying once, “You should be a Dietician.” when I was casually suggesting to my mom that she could make a recipe much healthier with a few changes.  I would also have never had the confidence to enroll in college again.  My first go at that was such a nightmare.  I was young.  There just seemed to be so much pressure to declare a major – and nothing interested me that much!  I was trying desperately to take the advice of my advisor, and just take “basic” classes until I figured out what I was interested in, but I got a “C” on an English II paper, and it just simply sunk me like an anvil in a pool.  I had never received a “C” in writing!  And I couldn’t handle it.  I dropped out of every class – unofficially, which means my GPA is laughable. 

After that, feeling pressured to do something, I went to cosmetology school.  I liked playing around with it, with friends and family, but I knew pretty early on that I was not going to do it for long.  I stuck with it about 2/3 the way through, and got put on bedrest early in pregnancy and had to quit.  Frankly, it was a relief, because it gave me an excuse to quit that I didn’t have to feel guilty about.  My biggest problem was that I was trying to please others instead of following my path, and I didn’t have the relationship with God then that I have now, so I didn’t know how He could direct me if I’d just ask.

Homeschooling was His plan, too – I had never heard of it when He placed it in my path as an option, and compelled me to do it.  I have been oh so content following His lead since then, because He was very, very spot on!  I have never doubted for a moment that I was supposed to home- school.

I feel that way about this now, too.  It just amazes me that He didn’t reveal it to me until it was time…I’d have messed that up somehow, I’m sure, probably by either trying to take a few classes to “get started” before His timing came, or by chickening out totally and not going through with it.  As soon as I was sure that I was hearing God right, I sent for my old transcript (15 hours I won’t have to do over) and applied for admission.  When I got my transcript in the mail and my acceptance letter, I immediately made an appointment with an advisor, applied for a student loan and enrolled full-time.

The week before classes started, I felt a bit panicky about having a full class load and wondered if that was a mistake that I’d regret.  Of course, I alternately prayed and cried and believed.  But 5 weeks in, it is going very well.  I’m keeping up, doing well, and enjoying it very much.  Some days I still feel a little overwhelmed, but my super-hero family kicks in and does some of the non-school stuff that’s contributing to my insanity and all comes back to a balance 😉

It’s about time to pick up my daughter, and that’s about as thorough an update as I can manage tonight.