Sabbatical Round Up, now that it’s over

Written Sunday, January 24, 2010.  Held in abeyance while waiting to see if I experienced further inspiration or eloquence.  No such luck.

Devo goes back to work this week.  And while the sabbatical experience is still fresh and not clouded with schedules and meetings,  I want to solidify the experience.

I’ve written this post a number of times from the comfort of my bed at inconvenient times of the night.  But now I can’t remember any of the well-turned phrases I so brilliantly composed.  How about a list.  Lists are always good.

Some of the Things I Want to Remember from our sabbatical

  • swimming at Blue Lagoon on weekday mornings.  Just our little family, playing in the sand, swimming in the warm, clear ocean.  Peaceful, contented, joyful.  And no sunburns, thanks to the trees on shore that allowed us to swim until noon without sunscreen.
  • night time walks with Devo.  Half hours, hours to talk and talk and talk without saying, “Mommy’s turn to talk now”.  Confessions and future plans, setting and shaping our experience of the world.  Together.
  • Snuggling in my mom’s bed, playing with Levi
  • swimming at the Hyatt.  No matter how frustrating or catiwampus the day had been, it all seeped away into happiness at the pool.
  • How my mom loves my kids and how much they love her.
  • Levi has spent a whole third of his life in Guam now.  While we were there he learned to sit up, go from tummy to sitting, pull himself up, crawl, walk around holding on to furniture, babble, he sprouted two teeth, say Mama, bye-bye, ta-ta, night-night, Nana (Liana), point, clap.
  • Lia changed from being a small girl into a big girl while we were there.
  • Lia sitting all snuggled on Grandma Ruby’s lap.  I loved looking over to see Lia feeling Grandma’s wattle, or the soft skin on her arms.  They must have read “The Eleventh Hour” 20 times, per Lia’s request.
  • Everyone needs a Grandma Ruby in their lives : someone who loves you and supports you and listens to you and believes you’re the best.  All the time.  I enjoyed watching her extend that open, judge-less love to all her family.
  • I loved how Levi loved Grandpa Bob and Grandpa loved Levi.  Levi would reel Grandpa Bob in.  Grandpa would be headed from one place to another and Levi would catch his eye and a half hour later, they’d still be there playing and laughing together.  “He’s quite a boy”, Grandpa says.
  • watching Heidi in Afrikaans with Grandma Ruby
  • Going with Liana to get our hair cut together and then taking all those pictures.
  • going across the street to Grandma and Grandpa’s house
  • camping on the beach during the full moon
  • reacquainting myself with my “natal land”.
  • Spending our anniversary where we spent our honeymoon.  And enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to do it again as a joint birthday gift.
  • The absence of church crap
  • Devo being around all the time.  And doing the laundry and cleaning.
  • How Grandpa Jesse loves my kids and how they love him back
  • our one family hike
  • skipping church and going out together, alone, instead
  • I hate to put this in a list, because it doesn’t do it justice, but the amount of love, work, time, and money my mom and sister poured out on us.  I just love them and it stinks that we live so far apart.

A long time ago, someone asked me if the sabbatical was turning out to be what I thought (or hoped) it would be.

Well, frankly, for myself I wasn’t hoping for a big change from my normal life.  I anticipated that my “job” would continue as usual.  Directing the family day, being responsible for food, laundry, milk, toys, etc.  I would just be doing it in a different place, with the added benefit of more hands.  I anticipated that, like always, more hands might mean I don’t have to be the one to pick up the crying baby while stirring the family dinner, but the task of organizing all these people’s plans and needs to fit together would replace any of the let-up the extra hands might provide.  In other words, that it would be crazy.

But I wasn’t quite right.  Oh, it was crazy.  Especially those weeks before Levi learned to crawl and Liana had many extra curricular activities and my grandparent’s car was in the shop for days on end.  But even though I was busy, the pressure of it all laying on my shoulders was gone.  Mom did the grocery shopping (something for which I don’t know if I can adequately express my gratitude…shopping there is a 3 hour tour, at minimum).  Devo did the laundry, the cleaning, the daily pick up, the driving.  Liana did a lion’s share of the child-entertaining.  I have no idea what I was doing, but I was keeping busy too, I assure you.  By the last few days, I was just floating from thing to thing, enjoying the last little bit where other people were around to pick up any slack, gathering strength to jump back in and be The One Upon Whom It Rests.  So I experienced renewing I hadn’t anticipated.

I thought it would be nice for Devo to not be at work.  That he would be released from the strain of his job.  I wasn’t sure how the absence of that strain would manifest itself. A brightened countenance?  An added spring to his step? Maybe a lessening of  technological use?  (We left the iphone at home).

I knew for sure that the absence of the iphone was great.  And I knew that we had more time to really communicate.  And I knew that we had regained a lot of our lovey-dovey interaction that had fallen by the wayside.

But I wasn’t able to tell really how much it had changed him until we got back.  And saw all of his colleagues, our friends.  And saw how very tired and stressed and pressured they are.  And how that’s just normal.  Status quo.

And frankly it freaked me out.  There has GOT to be a way to do this job without life just seeping out of us. Or being sucked out, as the case might be.  (Probably a bit of both).

I don’t know if we are going to be able to resist the allure of doing things like we did them before.  Can we make changes in how we perceive things, how we handle daily pressures, so that life is joyous and filled with movement and satisfying work?  If the sabbatical gave us one thing in this area, it is that we are now both much more aware of the negativity and positivity of our situation.  A little bit of clarity goes a long way to making changes.

I had thought that maybe, during the three months, we would find a new calling.  Maybe some brilliant idea for a fairly lucrative (meaning, pay the bills) non-profit that could be run from our home in some beautiful place.  Something that would help people who needed help.

But it didn’t appear quite as hoped.  We did come away with some new and exciting ideas for something to do here, in this job, in this community.  Devo has a meeting with Pastor Chris (senior pastor) tomorrow to talk about some visioning and revisioning.  I’m excited about this (sorry, I think I’ll wait to tell you precisely what it is until he’s had a chance to talk it over with his colleagues) because it’s something that I personally feel very passionate about.  And am already somewhat involved in.  And, if I must admit, because it was my brain child.  It’s quite a compliment that my husband could take my vision and make it into his.

This, of course, only scratches the surface of what such an extraordinary three months encompassed.  But I’m glad that I’ve at least jotted down this much.  It will be interesting to see in future times what we remember of the experience and how we look back on it as a whole.

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Transition Day

Today was our Transition from Sabbatical to Real Life.  Technically Monday is part of our “weekend”, but we both are easing in (or getting a jump start, depending on your perspective).

Yesterday I wrote a Sabbatical Round Up, and it’s still sitting in my drafts folder because it is so inadequate.  But it might just have to do.  We’ll see if I feel inspired to revisit it later this week.  Otherwise, it’ll just be published with all of it’s inadequacies.

Tomorrow it all begins.  This evening I had great plans for my two hours after yoga (YOGA HOW I LOVE YOU), whilst Devo was playing tennis (DEVO HOW I LOVE YOU).  I was going to (a) start going through sabbatical pictures to purge, edit, and select for an album – but only while eating my requisite nightly four mandarins from Shelley and Sam’s tree.  Then I was going to (b) prepare calendars, contracts, info sheets for Children’s Choir, which starts on Wednesday, so that I wouldn’t have to try and type and concentrate while being the sole watcher of my children tomorrow.  And then I was going to (c) do a little googling to find some inspiration for things to do this week that will be adventuresome and learning-oriented.  And I was going to go to bed early, because I’m tired.

Instead, I worked on pictures, didn’t finish my last mandarin, and accidently deleted the folder where I had separated all the best sabbatical pictures.

So now it’s late, I have no idea what we are going to do tomorrow (other than work on the computer while my children run around like hooligans), while I prop my tired eyes open and blink often to moisten my contacts.

No, surely it won’t be that bad, that’s just the tiredness induced panic speaking.  I’ve already got the beans on to soak, so at least we’ll have food.  I’m trying baked beans for the first time.  Purchased molasses today, something that has never before been seen in my pantry.

Today, and this is important, today Lia sounded out, spelled, and wrote words all by herself for the very first time.  I had absolutely nothing to do with it…nothing even to do with the impulse.

She wrote ::

TOO LIA

LIA LUS MME

Which means:  To Lia.  Lia loves Mommy.

I see in my California curriculum standards for writing that she now can “use letter and phonetically spelled words to write” and “write by moving from left to right and from top to bottom.”

Guess we’ll have to wait for the ability to “write consonant-vowel-consonant words” to develop.  Haha.

I put my little love note in a photo frame on the fridge.  I’m so proud, I can hardly stand it.

In other learning news today (because Debbie wondered what happened to the lists…what happened is that I was recording it in my notebook, whenever I happened to remember to do it), the girls did a variety of things ::

  • rode bikes/trikes.  Lia is learning this week to ride her bike with training wheels, not the trike.
  • read books on Martin Luther King, Jr., runaway slaves, (so I’m a week late, so what.) US important places, and Yankee Doodle.
  • reading on their own
  • Lia practiced the piano.  She has recently figured out how to play songs by ear.  Her song today was from All Creatures of our God and King, the alleluia, alleluia part.
  • Walked half a mile to church.
  • Dried and put away dishes after each meal.

And other things that I can’t remember.  Luckily they still learn even when I don’t write down what they learned.

So tomorrow…grow carrot tops?

Triumphant

And we’re back.

Thanks to an enterprising Horizon Air check-in lady, we’re back 7 hours earlier than the (changed by the airline, we never would have agreed to it) itinerary.  And thanks to another enterprising checker-inner (what are these people called?), instead of languishing for hours in Japan, we went back to my mom’s house for another couple hours of sleep and caught the next plane.

No thanks to the hostile Delta stewardess, excuse me, flight attendant.  I swear, if she had come and been rude to us one more time, I would have given her an earful.  A strongly worded earful.  Because two people traveling on an 8.5 hour flight in the midst of a 26-32 hour journey with a very very fussy baby really don’t need someone telling them they’re doing something wrong.  Four separate times.  (Luckily it had nothing to do with the fussy baby, or my patience wouldn’t have lasted so long).

Levi is sleeping in the straight-jacket bassinet, my 1 hour old untouched dinner shown at bottom

So we did survive the first three miserable hours on the Narita-Portland flight.  Unfortunately, those three miserable hours have elected this trip as our family’s Worst Family Airplane Trip Ever.  But, in hind sight, it wasn’t too bad.

After all, I didn’t cry.  Could definitely have been worse.

I got off that plane here and strode down the concourse like, like, those people in Armageddon.  Triumphant.  (Took me a long time to come up with that word – victorious, happy, satisfied weren’t cutting it.  Woke up this morning and thought, triumphant.  Yes.)

We got home to a pantry and refrigerator full of food (I think we have Chrystal to thank for that) and homemade rosemary bread with homemade tomato soup awaiting us (the bread was definitely Pastor Chris, the tomato soup’s origins are still a mystery).  And a jar full of gift certificates for restaurants from the pastoral staff.

They love us, they really do.

Amelie fell asleep in her food, so everyone was tucked into bed before 7:30 last night.  Parents followed shortly.  And we slept until 10 this morning.  Glory be, it was a miracle.

Although, I’d like to think that I helped out the miracle by taking Levi into bed with me at 2:30 and opening the milk bar.  Thus I managed to keep him mostly asleep until 10am.

But it was still a miracle.

Now we’re happily settling in.  The girls have finally, after 24 hours, mostly satisfied the inner urging to get out every possible toy and reacquaint themselves before casting it aside and searching out a new toy.  Levi is learning the lay of the land.  And Devo and I have unpacked.  Completely.

Triumphant about sums it up.

This, of course, leaves out a number of interesting details such as –

Coming back on the earlier flight meant that we were arriving with no carseats.  Pastor Dave scrounged up his grandchildren’s carseats and gave them to Steve, our neighbor, who picked us up.  (Thanks, Janeen – to whom belongeth the grandchildren!)

Steve finding that our car had expired while languishing in the garage.  He towed it, got it fixed, picked us up, picked up our car, and then took Devo back to the airport in the evening to pick up our luggage (which had come later on the originally scheduled flight).  We shared our homemade bread with him – was it a sacrifice equal to his?  Perhaps.  (That’s a joke.  Kind of.)

Or a listing of the movies we saw — with commentary.  Why oh why did they ever let Sandra Bullock’s hair be anything but brown?

Or how startlingly white our kitchen decks are.  I remember how long it took me to get used to them when I moved in.  I thought that I had just adjusted…but I guess they had just acquired a muted shade.  <snort>  Turns out it was just evidence of Chrystal’s stay here – everywhere I look there is another cupboard neatly organized or another sweet surprise of some sort.

Sabbatical lasts until next week begins.  Time to sort ourselves out, get over jetlag, organize the trip pictures, etc, etc, etc.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, a few days ago

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

(Here is where I should insert a family picture with all of us dressed in holiday colors, carefully posed in front of a Christmas tree.  Or at least a family picture.  But I’m not.  So sorry.)

Christmas Eve hosted a tropical rain storm.  Puzzles and movies, perfect rainy day activities.  I had a sudden, inexplicable longing for a Christmas Eve service (which is funny because when I have to go, I’m often ambivalent).  So we sang carols and read/acted the Christmas stories from the four gospels.  That way Mary (Lia) and “Jofus” (Amelie) get their time in the spotlight.  (Luke’s version is about Mary, Matthew’s about Joseph).

Christmas was brunch of waffles and strawberries, dinner of sandwiches.  We believe in enjoyable Christmases.  This year we bought a goat from Heifer International as our “birthday gift for Jesus”. Cool.

It was awfully nice not to be the only ones without a place to go this Christmas.

And now it’s the New Year.

Happy New Year from my family to yours!

Three days past, and Jesse’s (my step dad) 50th Birthday today.  We tried to make some New Year’s Resolutions, just as a conversation starter, if nothing else.  Didn’t really come up with much.

Return to Normal Life seems to sum it up.  Which will commence on January 18 (okay, give a few days for jet lag), when we return (and arrive) back in California.

Devo described the sabbatical experience as a labyrinth.  First the inward journey, letting go.  Then the center.  Then the outward journey of reengaging.  Somehow I missed the center transition between inward and outward and spent a bewildered week thinking, Wait, wait, go back, go back!

But now we’ve had some time to backtrack and do some good thinking and have some productive conversations about our future life, and I’m officially and peacefully launched on the outward journey.  Started making some lists, sketching out a schedule.

Somehow I had thought that this big gap would change the normal schedule, but I was mistaken.  Still looks the same.  But we have a great deal more clarity with which to choose or reject schedule fillers.

Even the girls are experiencing their own outward journeys.  Without much prompting they have begun talking alot about home.

Did I ever mention that Levi is crawling and pulling himself up?  Wherever you look, you can see him perched somewhere holding on with one hand, seeing where the next adventure will be.  Yesterday he finally grew enough to be able to play the piano keys.  Which he’s so glad to not depend on the person holding him to recognize his “I want to play the piano” cues (throwing his body towards the piano and shrieking in dismay when the holding adult moves in the opposite direction).  He sprouted two teeth, the first appeared on Christmas Day, and the other on the next day.  So Liana played the Chipmunks “All I Want For Christmas is my Two Front Teeth”.

Amelie has finally FINALLY decided that she can go down the waterslide all by herself.  (She was doing it during our last visit when she was 16 months, but not this trip).

And we’ve decided to look into hula for this year’s dance lessons.

The End.

Seven Happy Years

Sunday was our seventh anniversary.  And since we got married on this side of the dateline, it actually was seven exact years.  Seven happy years.

Yesterday we were officially launched into our eighth year, and I was so relieved to find that we’d already finished our seventh year, because I’d been wigged out by all these voices of mature foreboding, telling of the Seven Year Slump.

Well, sure, it was a great slump, and now we’re on to the next round.

I am now able to cross off #13 on my list of 28 things to do in my 28th year.  We spent our honeymoon anniversary in the same place we spent our honeymoon.  We had requested the same room (#438), but they were redoing the fourth floor, so we were reassigned up three floors.  Seventh floor for seven years.  Fitting.

We were alone together for more than three hours for the first time in 5 years, 27 days.  (Since Lia’s birth).  I was away from my children for the longest time since each of them was born.  And we survived.  And it was wonderful.

We walked on the beach, swam in the pool, watched the sunset, watched a movie, ate a delicious buffet brunch and a delicious celebratory chocolatey dessert.  I took four baths, two showers, with candles (thanks Mom!).  And we spent a long long time talking about the last seven years, how we’ve changed, looking at pictures on the computer, having our annual marriage evaluation discussion.  On our balcony overlooking the ocean.

The only slight cloud on the horizon was that I never fully relaxed because I was so eager to MAKE THE MOST of our time away.  But I was relaxed enough to enjoy myself thoroughly, so I’m holding no grudges.

On my mom’s side, everything went very well with the children.  They went caroling, baked sugar cookies, watched movies, and hardly missed us at all.  Levi gave her a bit of a scare by drinking half of my milk supply before 6pm.  But luckily Liana’s bellchoir was playing that evening at our hotel, so we just dropped some more milk off with them to take home.  They came before check out time to see our room and we all drank a toast of Martinelli’s to celebrate.

Because even though I didn’t cry when we left our children behind, and I was able to not really worry about them or think about them too much…my body did.  The night of uninterrupted sleep didn’t really materialize due to an overabundance of milk.

I was sitting in my hot, luxurious bath Sunday morning, the balcony door was open and I could hear the ocean and feel the soft breeze, the candles were lit.  And as I sat there with my milk pump, I suddenly came to my senses and chuckled.  With a bit of a snort.

Slow Day after Yesterday’s High Learning Day

So some days are high learning days, and others aren’t.  I can deal with that.  Sounds like … real life.

  • unstructured play
  • painted –  I introduced the word ‘texture’ for the first time
  • “name that Christmas tune” from snatches of the melody
  • went swimming – Lia swam on her back, Amelie floated

Something to add to yesterday’s list – Lia learned about playing games honestly.  In their game of go fish, Grandma asked for a Lion and was told to go fish.  Then Lia proceeded to ask for a Lion.  Grandma told her that she couldn’t do that, that wasn’t following the rules.  And then they sat there in silence, letting Lia absorb the situation and its ramifications.  (Hey, lesson learned without a long lecture!  Good parenting tip!)

It’s also a developmental milestone, for her to think ahead and play some sort of “strategy” (moral value of said strategy notwithstanding).  That’s a long ways logically-speaking from Amelie’s current stage of announcing every card she receives.

Today’s Adventures

How about “daily adventure” instead of “learning log“?  Seems more…adventurous.  Less…schoolroom.

Well, it’ll work for now.

Today we went to our favorite morning beach to sit on the sand under the trees and take small swims.  There were crab-prints all over the sand, evidence of a nighttime crabby jamboree.  I was fascinated.

Lia and Amelie gave my crab-prints a cursory, compulsory glance, and went to play happily at the place where the sand meets the surf.

And I sat there, staring out to sea, and thought about the value we (I) apply to learning.  I thought that looking at my crab-prints would be a wonderful, awe-inspiring, biologicaly, naturalist-ic kind of learning experience.  Just the kind of thing to “learn” on today’s adventure.  But it didn’t interest the “learners”.  Much.

I’ve been reading a lot of unschooling literature recently and have been readjusting my concepts of what ‘school’ and ‘learning’ are.  I’ve been feeling enlightened by not automatically assuming that a textbook or a curriculum provide higher levels of learning than other, more organic, avenues.  But I got caught out this morning in a mellow sort of way, assigning a higher value to a (Mommy directed) investigation of crab prints and completely overlooking the ‘educational value’ of what they were choosing to do on their own.

It looked like they were playing in the sand, but if I needed to assign (or intuit) a learning opportunity, I’d probably  make a list like this:

  • observing the nature, rhythm, and properties of waves
  • experiencing the texture and properties of sand
  • building 3D structures
  • learning cause and effect (wave hits sand structure)
  • good natured parallel play
  • joy

Montessori talks about “sensitive periods” — times when a child is open to learning about certain things.  Devo and I are trying to be more and more aware of what our children are interested in (vs. what we’re interested in or what we think they should be interested in – although, obviously, there will be some intersection) and bringing our focus to those things.

I thought alot about those crab-tracks this morning (and Devo thought I was just wool-gathering with a blank look on my face).  I, in my growing up and schooling, obviously learned enough facts to be able to identify those crab prints this morning.  I had absorbed knowledge, but I had failed to experience the wonder the first time around.  The deeper we get into this whole homeschooling bit, the more I am realizing and hoping for myself that this will be my chance to go back and learn everything again … this time with the wonder.

The Rest of Today’s Adventure

  • watched Mr. Roger’s about firefighters, engines, safety
  • watched Word World
  • discussed fire, courage

BEACH

  • balati (sea cucumber) – swam out to get, examined, removed coral from carried, put in a bucket of water, played with, discovered legs on (we had previously looked them up on wikipedia)
  • compared water murky from sand being stirred to a glass of ovaltine (what scientific principle is this?)
  • examined a praying mantis, counted legs
  • wrote letters in the sand, all numbers and capitals, some lower case
  • swim
  • built sand castles (see above)
  • money – bills and coins: sorted, counted, learned names of
  • read “I Spy” book with Grandma Ruby
  • read usborne book on World History (from cover to cover, with biblical parallels)
  • played go fish with alphabet cards with Grandma Ruby
  • visited train display at local friary

Never Underestimate….

So I don’t know if Learning Logs will be of as much interest to you as they are to me, but I can’t find a word processing application on my computer, so I’m logging it here for the moment.  I definitely need a new name for them.  Learning Log just sounds…Lame.

We spent most of the day yesterday with my childhood friend, Cara, and her Ani (who’s three) — either at her house or at ours.  She lives just around the corner.  Okay, just around three corners.  But it’s close.

She, brave soul, invited us over to bake muffins.  She set each girl up with their own bowl and let them choose things like which kind of flour to put in their own muffins, which kind of fruit, which toppings.  A muffin smorgasbord.

I don’t think I’ve ever personally made muffins in a bowl.  Everything gets made in my kitchen aid, and most of my muffins are of the Betty Crocker variety.  And, on reflection, I realized that my baking-with-kids philosophy is “have them involved in every project but get it done as quick as you can or the whole experience might just disintegrate into a floury bog”.

Said philosophy means that I don’t think I’ve ever let Lia crack an egg.  Twice at the most (surely I must have let her crack an egg at some point in all of our baking extravaganzas).  Which is a shame, because she did it quickly and with aplomb.

And then we got to the spooning batter into the muffin tin part.  A part I always do.  And not only did Lia confidently and efficiently spoon her batter in, Amelie could do it too.

Yet another example of how we (I) underestimate (my) children.

I had really begun to think of this chronic underestimation while watching my sister play handbells.  She’s 14, a freshman, a teenager–you know, the clean your room, put your ipod away, take out the trash, I can’t live without my phone (it broke this week) age.

I watch, entranced, as on Silent Night she plays basically the entire melody–ringing and flinging ten bells, hand over hand, picking them up, setting them down, arranging and rearranging them in a precise manner, confident, relaxed.  And I just think Wow, we really underestimate teenagers.

I mean, sheesh.

Learning Log 12/15/09

  • each girl baked muffins from scratch, in their own bowl.  Included measuring ingredients, cracking own eggs and spooning batter into muffin cups.
  • played (very nicely) with Ani.  Played cafe and family.
  • ate lunch politely at Ani’s house, eating all vegetables first and without complaining, asking to be excused, taking dishes to sink
  • read two books with Grandma Ruby.  One on how seeds are distributed, one usborne book on science.
  • played gently with kitties (!!!)
  • went swimming at home, 45 minutes
  • had discussion on appropriate and inappropriate ways to show and talk about bodies (health requirement for Kinder)
  • practiced “Twinkle, twinkle” on the piano

No Sleep for the Weary

There is a certain, predictable, but no less harrowing cycle that comes with baby-induced sleep deprivation.  Was it yesterday or the day before where I had reached that low of lows where I could do little other than pretend I wasn’t about to cry.

Oh, yes, that was Sabbath, our day when Mom and Liana take the children to church and we have a few hours to enjoy together.  Yes, that was that day.  What a sad, sad waste of those glorious hours.  Although, it was really sweet to be consoled (cajoled?), soothed, and ushered off for a nap by an attentive and loving husband.

Yes, this is the point when I remember fondly those days when Levi only woke up three times a night (and I complained!!!????!!!!).  The last week or so he’s been waking every hour or less, with his longest sleep being between 6am and 8am. And as soon as I lay him in his bed, he wakes up, wanting to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse.

This is the point when I hear of other people whose babies are sleeping longer (or worse, have advice for me and my dilemma…as if we haven’t already tried everything) and I am overcome by an violent inner impulse to tear my hair out or smash something.

And then I sink into hopelessness.

This is the way it’s always going to be.  I’m always going to be half a person, the rest of me submerged somewhere in the murky waters of tiredness.  And when it goes on long enough, I begin to think that maybe there is no more to me other than this zombie-like creature.  Maybe the brighter, more enthusiastic me has been obliterated in the struggle.  Maybe it never existed at all, who knows.

<sigh>

Yes, this is the point where I don’t even want to go to bed.  It’s just too much of an undertaking.

Oh, how glad I am that this is sabbatical time.  That it is a workable solution for me to take the night shift and Devo to wake up early with the girls and let me sleep in a little.  We’re looking ahead to our honeymoon, I mean, anniversary,Sl this weekend when we will sleep uninterrupted and get to sleep in as long as we want.  I’m sure Mom is not looking forward to it quite as enthusiastically.  Bless her.

You know, it’s really too bad God doesn’t answer prayers about babies sleeping.  Why didn’t Jesus think to say, “If you ask for your baby to sleep through the night, it will happen”?  Maybe because then all the parents of the world would convert just for that.  I would.

So, no advice tonight, please.  I currently don’t have any goodwill to receive it with.  Maybe another night.  But for all of you who know what I’m talking about, or can just imagine it…if you could send some sleep my way, I’d really appreciate it.

Monday Jumble

Today we skyped with the church staff at their annual Christmas party.  They couldn’t really hear us and we couldn’t really see them, but it was nice to see everyone and wave.  I guess we’ve been gone awhile — I’ve reached the stage where I keep thinking I see people I know from California in the parking lot of the Guam KMart.

We went swimming today at the Hyatt.  Grandma and Grandpa (my grandparents) came along.  So of course it rained and was cold.  (Don’t snort, statesiders, 83 and windy is cold when you’re wet).  And the jacuzzi was too hot.  But we managed to have a good time in spite of it all.  Grandpa and Levi enjoyed splashing together.  Lia has learned how to swim on her back and has been practicing diligently.

I “intend to” begin keeping a learning log during this first year of homeschooling.  Nothing too involved, just a daily jot of things learned, activities participated in, etc.  Today’s list would include ::

-made a “Merry Christmas” banner, sounding out and writing the words in uppercase.  Lia wrote half of the letters (the harder letters) without help.  Amelie wrote the other letters (E, H, I, T, A), her first time for all letters other than A.

-girls watched football with Devo and discussed offense and defense, among other things.

-naptime! (isn’t this part of learning?)

-sang solfege scales while climbing stairs

-went swimming, Lia practicing swimming on her back and the forward crawl.

I’m sure there was more, but, alas, I can’t recall.  I think it will be a good practice for Devo and I to keep track of learning interests and patterns, and to assure us that learning really does happen outside of a set curriculum and workbooks.

Christmas Plans

There is a faint creaking from the angel flapping her wings.  We didn’t set up a tree — it would become a transportational hazard, now that Levi is mobile.  And adventurous.  Not to mention two small girls who love pretty things.  Don’t touch that is not the way we want to spend Christmas.

But we did fling lights in a haphazard fashion.  We have a string of red, a string of blue, three unmatching strings of multi-colored.  And a small singing Christmas tree.  And the angel.  Who is not on a tree.

The Jesse tree idea has sputtered and ceased.  I’m the only one who caught the vision, apparently.  Well, I have several things to make into ornaments for when I try again next year.

But, by gum, we do have a truckload of Christmas music.  I had never particularly noticed before, but my mom loves Christmas music.  I should have noticed before.  When organizing and rearranging, I noticed that most of her cassette collection (and therefore concurrent with my childhood) is Christmas music.  So thanks to her principal (also a Christmas music fanatic), she has a great collection.  And we are reaping the benefits.

We have been married 7 years now (minus 6 days) and I’ve not yet managed a Christmas season that truly satisfied.  I’m not asking for much…less is better than none in this case…but I guess there’s always next year.  At least this year we’re not like lonesome orphans, adrift in a land where everyone else has plans on Christmas day.  Hooray for family!

My next quest for this Christmas season is to watch some of my personal favorite Christmas movies.  Although I’m not holding on too strongly to this — it seems that prime movie watching time coincides with putting-kids-to-bed-time and bell-choir-time and I-can’t-stay-awake-for-a-whole-hour-and-a-half-time.

But on my list of favorites is Love Actually, While You Were Sleeping, White Christmas, and Christmas in the Clouds.  On my grandma’s list is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  And on my mom’s list is Frosty the Snowman.  About which apparently I still harbor feelings of dread — I hate it that he melts.  And if we have to, It’s a Wonderful Life or (which I like better) Miracle on 34th Street.

But Love Actually is my absolute favorite…and my family hasn’t seen it yet, imagine that.

Dear Friends,

I know it’s been too long since I’ve blogged when wordpress has signed me out of my account.  There was that one unpublished post from last week when I ranted and raved about life being wild and overwhelming.  But then I decided to just deal with it —this is my life— and I’ve been much happier since.  Happier and more composed.  Less catatonic in the face of adversity.

We went camping over the weekend.  We had a campground all to ourselves, air mattresses in the concrete pavilion, a grill, and a refrigerator.  I could see the ocean from my bed.  The full moon was as bright as a street lamp, but infinitely more beautiful.  It was perfect, perfect, perfect.  Even including the competition for most mosquito bites.  (Levi and I seem to be the most immune, Devo and Amelie the most bitten, Lia somewhere in the middle.)

Monday we bought the mount for my step dad’s flat screen and spent the afternoon mounting it and rearranging the living room.  Jesse (my step dad) is currently in the Philippines at a golf tournament, so this is our surprise Christmas and 50th birthday present for him.  Amelie and Levi were sleeping, so Lia got to spend some time at Grandma Ruby’s all by herself for the first time.  She helped clear the lunch table, helped sort nuts for Grandma’s famous nut butter, and induced Grandma into playing somewhere between 14 and a million rounds of Go Fish.

Tuesday was a holiday for my mom (public schools here follow the Catholic calendar, so she was off for Immaculate Conception).  We took everything out of her room, rearranged the furniture, organized the stuff, and put it all back in by lunchtime on Wednesday.  Including a trip to the pool and dinner with my cousin’s wife and baby.

Grandma and Grandpa wanted to know when the home decorators were coming over to their side of the street, so today we mounted their new flat screen TV and we will rearrange their living room tomorrow or Sunday.  🙂  We think of this as our contribution to three months worth of rent.

Liana’s bell choir Christmas schedule has started — their bell choir plays at different hotels and functions all through the Christmas season.  She has something pretty much every night/afternoon through till Christmas.  We’ve still managed to keep swimming, though.

My aunt Donna is set to come for a visit starting next Wednesday.  She’ll be staying and Grandma and Grandpa’s so that will add a new dimension to our daily routines.

Today Levi figured out that crawling is a legitimate form of transportation.  The world has become a big, exciting adventure.  It’s so darling.

I’ve decided to go to yoga classes.  I’m truly truly suffering without a regular class.  There is one Sabbath morning that Devo and I might go to together while the kids go to church with my mom.  My idea of a romantic Sabbath date.

We reach the midpoint of our sabbatical sometime in the next week or so.  We haven’t decided yet when to start talking and thinking about the future.  Maybe January.  Seems like a misuse of sabbatical time to think about work.

I keep putting off blogging because all the pictures are on Devo’s computer.  The obtaining of which would require at least one extra step in the process.  I guess that it’s better to write without pictures than to never write at all…

Love, Leilani