Monday, September 28, 2015

Random Thoughts - Fall 2015 Edition

If "choosing good friends" is so important for teens and adults,
(and I truly believe that it is)
 because their behavior and choices tend to influence us,
 that certainly applies for little kids, too.
I don't think we can easily dismiss the qualities
 and characteristics of those we choose to spend our time with.


Our family went outside yesterday after 10:30pm
and we all laid down on blankets in our driveway
and looked up at the sky to watch the blood moon
and lunar eclipse. We watched in wonder,
ate snacks together, and laughed and joked while we talked.
I love these moments. They are the best.

As a homeschooling family,
we often travel to neighboring counties for various educational,
fun, and social events and opportunities.
We've taken to listening to podcasts together
and we really enjoy that.
Our favorite show to listen to (especially Max)
is NPR's "Wait, Wait. Don't Tell Me."
Our next favorite is probably NPR's "Pop Culture Happy Hour."
(And I would LOVE that job - being a podcaster/writer for that show).
We also listen to the TED Radio Hour, 
Dear Hank&John, Fresh Air, Radiolab, etc.
There are 3 houses for sale around us.
We live on a corner and the houses across both streets are both for sale.
And there is one 3 doors down that is also for sale.
It's kind of exciting to get new neighbors!

We got to meet the buyers of the farmhouse at settlement
and they were GREAT. 
While it was bittersweet to sell the farmhouse,
meeting them helped.
 We're excited for them to make their own memories there now.
They are super excited.

There is almost ALWAYS a board game out somewhere
 (and sometimes in multiple places) in our house.
I always walk by and smile.
It's a game all set up and ready to play!
And we love playing together.
We have incredibly supportive friends
 who I can tell truly value our children.
I'm very grateful.
They take the time to truly get to know them,
and they send us information they find
 that they believe our kids would enjoy.
We've learned of writing camps
 thanks to our good friend Sherri
and Kate has enjoyed all of them.
We've learned of educational camps
 and writing opportunities
 and all kinds of things!
A friend of ours sends us information on
 books and authors that Max enjoys,
and also told us about a local game making contest coming up.
Sherri visited us before our trip
 and had made individual packs for both kids
for our flight to CA - how sweet is that?!?
Another friend recently took the time
 to write her alma mater and tell them all about Kate.
The college then wrote Kate to tell her
 and to send her information about their college
and writing camps.
We are VERY grateful for these people
 and all who take the time and energy
 to get to know and love and support our children.
It takes a village.

I love our new house. 
It is FLOODED with light and beauty all around us.
So very grateful for this openness and environment.
We feel like we're enjoying it even more
 with the farmhouse sold! :P

I was thinking today that
 there is an argument to having a bigger house
 and things like stairs.
Ever since we bought our townhouse in 2003,
 we've always had a home with stairs.
It's natural exercise!
It's a small hike to get places, 
so you naturally walk A LOT all day long.
I don't love exercise so this helps. :P
I even have this unspoken game with Scout,
who follows me everywhere.
She is FAST,
 so whenever we're climbing the stairs together,
I always try to race her to the top
(no easy feat!).

We tend to eat a lot of vegetarian meals.
We're not big meat eaters and more and more,
 our cooking is lending itself naturally
 to a pesco-vegetarian diet.
That being said, we're not opposed to eating meat
 (just not lots of it),
and as I type this,
chicken and dumplings are cooking in the crockpot.
Welcome, fall!

We've wanted to talk with a financial planner for years,
but have always been scared off because they charge you
 either a fee or a percentage of your investments
 or a commission, or they try to sell you products (I hate that!).
Well, we're in the process of refinancing our home mortgage
 (now that the farmhouse has sold),
and we found out our local bank
 has a guy who does financial planning
as his job there and there is no fee or percentage
 nor does he try to sell any products.
It's simply one of the things the bank has to offer. Woot!

It has been a busy past few weeks
as we're into the new registration period
 with our homeschool group.
13 new families joined up this year
and many of them are all plugging in so well!
We're thrilled!
Our kids both won pretty great prizes this year
for the library summer reading program.

We got season passes to the Renaissance Faire
 for Christmas this year from Mark's parents,
as well as tickets to some other fun events.
The dinner was great and fun as always!
And the Ren Faire has been AWESOME.
With Kate working there,
it's handy to have the passes
(first year we've ever done this)
and go here and there for shorter bits of time
or for lunch or dinner or a few of the shows or whatever.
Such a fun place and welcoming environment.

I am really wanting to sit down
 and write posts about
the foreign exchange students,
our trip to CA,
and our annual trip to the beach.
I keep meaning to do it, but we've been swamped
between work, the clinic, Kate's work schedule,
the kids' volunteering,
 different social and educational events,
homeschool group registration, etc.
A busy time of year, but a renewing one as well.
Trying not to have palpitations
 when I think of how NaNoWriMo
 and the holidays and Max's birthday
 are all around the corner.
Why does time fly so fast?!?
Homeschooling older kids
 is a very different kind of adventure.
So different than with younger kids.
It's more involved, but there's also so much
 they can do independently.
There is a ton we do together, too,
 because let's face it,
it's fun!
We can talk about so many topics
 and enjoy things together,
like lectures and articles and museums.
They're involved in more, so there is a lot more
enrichment and coordination.
It's work, but it's also awesome
 and I'm grateful we get to do this!

The other night, we had no food made
 and we were resisting
 the ever-strong siren call to eat out.
As much as we LOVE to eat out,
we try to do a lot of cooking at home
 as it helps us save money.
So, we whipped together a PHENOMENAL meal.
Mark and I ran to the store for ingredients
while the kids started chopping and cooking.
Max made a delicious side of cheesy, Mexican rice
(that he created and made up himself),
and Kate made a big batch of homemade apple crisp.
Mark and I got home and made chorizo and potato tacos
with cilantro, chopped onion, and hot sauce.
Our meal was INCREDIBLE.
I love working together in the kitchen!

(Though I must admit that
 cooking at home is so much more
time and mess intensive,
 and sometimes I wonder about the savings.
You do save money, but the HOURS that go into
 shopping, cooking, cleaning up . . . 
it makes you wonder when you're already busy
 with so many other things!).
Our next-door neighbors have kids
 and Max LOVES to go outside and play with them.
It is fantastic to be in a younger neighborhood
 with kids who play outside.
The neighbors often tell us how much they enjoy Max
 and how much their kids love his made-up games.
Well, the mom's parents are often there
 visiting their grandkids
and they are friendly and jolly and warm.
The grandpa is SO kind to us
 and speaks very highly of Max
(which is so nice to hear).
They're often there on weekends
 and we've seen them there after school daily
 to greet the kids when they get off the bus.
Well, now they drive 20 minutes daily
 to be at their house at 6:30am
and they drive their granddaughter
 to school (another 20 minutes away)
every single morning.
And they're not young
 and they have health issues and move slowly,
but always, always, always
 with big smiles on their faces and lots of love
for those kids.

I really want to see the movie "End of the Tour"
with Jason Segel.
It's on limited release right now,
so it's mostly playing at indie theaters
that aren't near us.
Hopefully it gets to more theaters soon,
because the reviews are fantastic.


Friday, September 11, 2015

What Do You Do?

What a loaded question. Lately, Stacy has been talking to me a lot about that question and all of the implications that come with it. It immediately puts a label on someone, which can serve the purpose of categorizing the people we meet, separating them from one another as we try to remember new acquaintances and piece together details that may be important to fledgling relationships. But labels can be dangerous, too.

Labels can pigeonhole us in one another's minds. We go from being an aggregate of qualities, characteristics, experiences, strengths, and all of the things that make us who we are, to a one or two-word title that may or may not (and probably does not) capture even the smallest portion of who we are. And even if it does, those labels and titles mean different things to different people.

Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Uncle, Physician, Acupuncturist--each of these give a glimpse of what I may be, but none of them tell a complete picture. Each of them gives a person a chance to extract meaning related to his or her individual experiences, which may vary from my own interpretation and significance. These subjective thoughts spawn depth in our conversations and shared experiences, but they can be problematic.

All this is a preamble to the crux of my writing here, though. What I'm getting at is that I am married to one of the most interesting and amazing people I know. This is a time of year that can be stressful for a variety of reasons, and to watch her navigate all the crazy twists and turns that is our daily life as of late is nothing short of impressive. Stacy has many titles, but I don't really think any one of them captures all that she is and does.

One of my recent favorite pictures of Stacy, with Scout, her faithful companion

I've always felt so fortunate to be married to my best friend. I don't know what a wife is "supposed" to be, but I can tell you that over the years she has been, among other things:

party planner
hand holder

Easily the best mother I've ever seen in action. The way she constantly makes sure she is being the best mother she can be to our children is inspiring. And as much as she contemplates what makes a great mother, she is equally able to jump right in and "feel" it, too. What is mother? How about:

homeschool group coordinator
menu planner
taxi driver
fashion consultant
hazardous waste engineer

Business Partner
We've owned and operated our business together for almost 8 years. It's been a great experience for us, one that has guided so many of our decisions over that time. Again, it's hard to quantify all that she does to make sure our business is successful. She is and has been all of these things and more:

interior decorator
marketing director
PR director
project manager
custodial staff

And what of all of the titles that don't fit neatly under some other heading?

community organizer
animal trainer
social planner
book club leader

So, Stacy. In all of this I'm trying to tell you that I don't care if there is one label or title that sums up all that you are. In fact, I'm glad there's no one word, because to limit a description of all of your contributions to a handful of characters arranged into some corporate-style title is to completely discount the wonderful, inspirational, beautifully complex, intelligent, gorgeous person that you are. My life is all the better for having you in it, and I hope you know how much you mean to me. I love you.