Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Thank you all for your prayers. I'd love to say we've turned a corner, but I am resting in the fact that our road is curving toward a better direction. Snuggler is, I think, out of immediate danger. Fortunately, sometime in the past couple of years I stopped being afraid of (and discouraged by) the hard stuff. I love that kid!

Dancer is in Miami, in technique and pointe and toning classes all day, except when she's learning repertoire. The night before she left she went to the ballet, so she could see the Famous Ballerina perform. Then it was up at 6am and off to the airport. She is tired beyond tired, and maybe beyond that!

Eldest is in week three of her summer job. She is working for a professor who is developing a program to teach kids to program computers. She is doing "back end" work; I gather that's the part one doesn't see, but don't tell her I have no idea what she's really doing.

Big Guy got his SAT results, which were extremely pleasing. Dancer was happy with her SAT II/Biology score, too. I have sent in my end-of-year homeschool report on Little Guy to the regional office, and officially closed out fourth grade. We are still awaiting the results of Little Guy's OT evaluation. I have to schedule an appointment for him with the the developmental optometrist.

We have no big plans for summer. I think we are going to paint the entire apartment, once I teach the kids how to spackle and paint. Little Guy and I are heading back to Cub Scout camp in July, because one can never get enough of large spiders and hyperactive 9-year olds. Big Guy is going to tour two colleges here in the city. Three of my kids will have birthdays.

It's hot, it's humid, and life rolls on. It's not always comfortable, and some days last way too long, and still: it's better to be moving on than to be stuck where you were. As Winston Churchill said, "When you're going through hell... keep going."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A small insight about why kids don't share everything with mom

I observed a mother and her teenage daughter interacting the other day, and suddenly understood why kids can tell total strangers the secrets they won't tell their parents. It's because our kids love us.

When our kids love us, they don't want to hurt or disappoint or worry us, or have us think less of them. And they know that no matter how good a face we put on it, deep down we have a reaction. When a child is hurting, he or she can't afford to deal with our reactions on top of that.

That is why a parent can't be a child's therapist or complete confidante: because love gets in the way.

We will always know our children better than anyone else. But a child can count on a professional to be impartial. There's no risk of losing desperately-needed approval and affection. Which means that sometimes the reason kids don't confide in us has nothing to do with lack of trust, but with an abundance of love.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Brain cells, manna and zucchini

It's been a quieter week than any in recent memory, quiet enough that I am inclined to take my spare brain cell out of cold storage and see if I can get a synapse going with the remaining functional one in my head.

Brain Cell Plush Doll
Brain cell. I bought my spare at Giantmicrobes.com
After the frenzy of May I have a lull in my workload. That means I'm thinking about what I might do with my life, which direction I should head, what I should write next. This is hubris, of course. I know that other people make and actually execute plans for the future, but that is not how my life goes. When there's a job I'm supposed to do it whacks me in the face. When I make plans of my own something major derails them. I have learned to prioritize flexibility over five-year planning. 

I am mindful that the just-enough just-in-time flow of work that characterizes my professional life is a huge gift. The flip side of it that I have far less control over my life (and budget) than I'd like. Manna is great for a short-term crisis. But after a number of years of it, I'd prefer a different solution. 

*        *        *        *

I've pondered manna a lot in recent years. It's occurred to me that one major challenge for the wilderness generation must've been their perpetually whining children. Never mind that 5 p.m. low blood-sugar meltdown; imagine the daily complaint, "Manna again, Mom?" I imagine  the parental reply was often a bit testy.

You'd think that after a decade or so the kids gave up asking, and that perhaps the parents clued into the fact that their own whining to God sounded a lot like their kids', but this was not the case. We are slow learners, we humans, especially in spiritual matters. Forty years in the desert of day-in, day-out dependence on God for survival might be enough time to trust him day-in and day-out, but probably not. 

I sometimes suspect that Adam and Eve left their spare brain cell behind in the Garden of Eden. You know which one I mean: the one that allowed them to remember the lesson they had been taught.

*        *         *         *

When I was a girl, my dad had a truck garden a few miles from home. The summer I was 17 and had my first full-time job, the family went on vacation without me. I had to tend the garden in their absence. It was a bonanza year for green beans and zucchini, and I picked and hauled home a grocery bag of each daily. Then I sat on the front steps of our suburban home, snapping ends off of beans in the evening, watching the neighborhood or chatting with friends. I'd blanch the beans, let them cool, and put them in freezer bags.

The zucchini were another matter. There are many ways to cook it, and that summer we tried them all. I like zucchini. But after you've had steamed zucchini, baked zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini casserole, stuffed zucchini  and stewed zucchini, you begin to realize that no matter what you do to it, it's still zucchini. Slice it, dice it, rice it, spice it -- it's zucchini.

There are lots of things in life like that. When I use my spare brain cell, I know there is nutritional value in zucchini, even when you're sick of eating it. There are things we learn when we are forced to go past what we like, past what we want, past what we think we can stand. There are good things we can learn from not-getting our desires, from not-escaping a hard situation, from being pushed into learning 400 ways to cook what we've been given. 

There are things you learn about zucchini that you suspect you could have gotten through life without. There are things you'd rather have not learned.

Perhaps what we want is for zucchini (and manna) to be optional. We appreciate it when we know we need or want it, but only then. The rest of the time it's just zucchini.