Thursday, August 28, 2008

Changes are a comin'

Lots of change going on here.

Motorman got a promotion. He is no longer "oilfield trash and proud of it," as the sticker on our entertainment center glass says. He has moved from the oil rig to the office. He'll be working indoors - screening applicants, facilitating training classes, and carefully watching grown men pee. Apparently people are pretty dodgy when it comes to drug testing. Motorman was telling me there's some sort of fake penis contraption that can be filled with pee. Who knew? Of course, all I can think about is a woman trying to pull that one off. If I were monitoring the testing, I'm not sure I would be bold enough to say something. I'd be a little dumbfounded, I imagine....

But anyway....The job is great. We're excited about it. He won't be risking life and limb every day. He'll be able to take regularly scheduled vacations without having them canceled at the last minute by his boss due to training classes or rig moves. We'll be able to make RESERVATIONS. It's a new and exciting world for us! So, yeah, the job is great. Really great. Less hours, a change to salary, more vacation time, holidays off, weekends off. Lots of good stuff.

Unfortunately, we have to move. A year ago, I would have been jumping for joy. We didn't mean to move to West Texas - we meant to move to the gulf coast. And we did. Just in time for Katrina and Rita. During our evacuation, we ended up here, motorman got a job, we found a great house, and we've been here ever since. But we don't really fit in here. We made some friends, but we were still lonely. The people we met were nice to spend time with, but we missed all our people from Arizona. We didn't have any of those friendships that just click into place. Until a year ago.

We started home schooling, and through a local home schooling site, I met M. We met at the park a few times. Discovered we lived a few blocks from each other. Found the kids really liked each other. Found we really liked each other. And we clicked. She was exactly who I needed to not feel so lonely any more. We spend a part of nearly every day together. We text and IM each other. We watch each others kids, we grocery shop, run errands, and browse the book store together. (Yep, we're all sorts of wild and crazy, let me tell you.) It doesn't matter that I don't fit in here, because I found a friend. And not just a friend, but a great friend. A best friend. Not that she could ever replace M1 or C in Phoenix, because you can't ever replace the people you grew up with, the friendships you've had for years and years. But you know, the bond is just as strong. I have always had two people I considered my best friends (I know, I sounds so high school, but it's true.), and now I have a third. I didn't think it would ever happen. I'm amazed, I didn't think I'd feel that way about anyone again. Motorman tells me it sounds like we're in love when I talk about it that way. :O)

But now we have to move. Only a little less than two hours away, but still. No more walking to each others house, sending the kids over to play, running by for just a second. I've never had that before - Phoenix is a big city, I was always several miles from my friends. It's kinda cool to be right around the corner. I like it. A lot. But it's about to be over.

So, it's with mixed emotions that motorman begins his new job. Excitement about possibilities, sad about friendships being tested. When we left Phoenix, I didn't have that fear - I knew my relationships were safe. They'd been strong and secure for over 20 years. Nothing will break those bonds. But this friendship, well, it's still growing. I'm scared that it won't survive the transplant. And once again, I'm feeling like I'm letting people down by bailing on them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On the road again...

Friday morning I'm taking bubby to see his mom. We have this weird situation here, I'll try to sum it up. My now ex sister-in-law got in some legal trouble while passing through our area, and is currently, um, let's just say she's a resident of the state, if you know what I mean. This has been a long time coming, she has had a past filled with all sorts of issues I won't get into here. I really think that she is getting the help she needs, and I believe she wants to have a better, more stable life. Of course, everyone says that while in custody, so who knows.

Anyhoo and anyway (as my grandma used to say), she and my husband's brother had separated again, she was pregnant (not with my bil), and she was looking at being gone anywhere from two to five years. We realized she had been moved to our area (she had been in a different state), and I remembered she was pregnant. We'd heard some rumors, but we hadn't had any contact for quite a while. I felt bad for her. She was alone, she had a very uncertain future, she'd totally screwed her life up, and her family would barely talk to her. Everyone had completely lost faith in her. Her baby was going to end up in foster care.

So, I went to go see her. I tossed a 'we should take the baby' over my shoulder to motorman on the way out, and he shrugged at me. (I have a habit of taking people in, he just rolls with it at this point.) That's exactly what ended up happening. We ended up picking up bubby from the hospital when he was two days old. She ended up getting rehabilitation instead of prison time, so we will end up caring for bubby for about a year when it's all said and done.

It's hard. My brother-in-law is used to me doing this sort of thing (hell, we've helped him out several times, he gets it), but it was still weird for him. He's been as great as I can expect him to be about it, given the situation. Our family and friends have been very supportive about it, though most think we're - ok, I'm - a little crazy for doing it. Everyone understands why I couldn't let an innocent child go to foster care when I had the ability to prevent it. And he's been great - he's a great baby. Very happy and easy to take care of. He's a doll.

Now his mom is about six hours away. At first, she was only 30 minutes away, and I could see her at least once a week. The problem there was it was through a little glass window, no touching. Now she's further away, but actually gets to hold bubby. Of course, now that she can, we can't go see her as often. About every other month is what it's shaping up to be. It's awful. She's gotten herself into this mess, but it sucks for bubby. Luckily she'll be back here soon and will have about three months of adjustment time before she's on her own, and she'll get to bond with him more then. And with luck, she'll be on the road to improvement, and bubby will never remember being with us. He'll be back with her just before her turns one. Which both breaks my heart and is my greatest hope for him.

So, this weekend bubby will get to spend four hours with his mom. Not a fun trip, but one that I want to make. I wish I could make it more often, for him. It's been strange having a baby around again. Especially a baby we didn't really know existed until a month before we had him. But it has been wonderful. We love having him with us, and wouldn't have done things any differently. I'm just a little scared of how the future will play out. I hope bubby and his mama have a great life, and I hope us taking him in and being there for her when few others were made a difference.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Home Schooling

Lately I've been thinking a lot about home schooling in general and unschooling in particular. The planner in me wants curriculum. I want lesson plans, I want books, I want proof of what has been learned and a plan on how to teach it. My inner hippy completely embraces unschooling. I truly believe we can learn from everything, as long as the desire to learn hasn't been squashed by The Man. I believe that we should pursue things that fascinate us, and learning can be a totally organic, happy, and enjoyable experience. I'm feeling torn between my different thoughts on schooling, so I'm stuck, not really going with either one. I guess right now we're unschooling by default. Not so much because we chose to do it that way, but because I haven't chosen to do anything else. It's frustrating. I hate struggling over this. I feel like I'm not living up to my parenting potential.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately for a couple of different reasons. The first is that we've completed our first year of home schooling. Boy wonder went to half of pre-k and all of k, and then we pulled him out and he did first grade at home. It's naturally a time to reflect and examine what went well and what didn't. On the plus side, I learned quite a bit about what options are out there for home schooling, and I feel quite confident that it's something we want and can continue doing. We've learned that we like being together as a family all day long, and no, it doesn't (always) drive me crazy to have him home all day. I personally love the freedom it gives us, and if I never have to wake up before the sun rises to get a grumpy child out of bed and into the cold world in the middle of winter, I will be a happy mother.

On the negative side, it's a lot of pressure. If boy wonder turns out to be a loon or a drug addict, you know every one's gonna blame it on home schooling, right? These are things I lose sleep thinking about. When we realized we were only going have one child, all I could think was: THIS IS IT. THIS is my ONLY shot. If I screw this kid up, I don't get a do-over. It's a little overwhelming sometimes. Adding home schooling into the mix ups the ante quite a bit. But, you know, that's really the only downside - a fear of failure. A fear of ruining my child, of not doing the best job I can do. What parent doesn't have that fear from time to time? What parent hasn't replayed a situation in their mind and thought, 'you know, I could have handled that better...'? So really, I guess there is no downside for us when I think about it like this. That's good to know.

But back to unschooling and curriculum based home schooling....Last month grandma came to see a play boy wonder was performing in, and then we went to Austin so bubby could have a visit with his mom (a story for another time), and on to the Texas coast to stay with my aunt and then house/dog sit while her and my uncle went to a family reunion. While on our trip, we went to Inner-Space Caverns in Round Rock, NASA in Houston, and the aquarium and rain forest pyramids (I think that's all Moody Gardens) in Galveston. We had a vague idea of what we wanted to go see on our trip, and I had all sorts of ideas for creating lesson plans for each event. You know - a study on cave formations, space exploration, sea life, and different ecosystems. I have this vision of our learning being centered around trips to exciting destinations, where we'd read fascinating books about certain places and then go see the location in person to really understand what we'd read. When it was time to learn about how our state government worked, we'd read about it and then head to Austin to see it all in action. Next, it would be off to D.C. to look at things on a national level. We'd study volcanoes and ancient civilizations and then follow it all up with a trip to Pompeii and Athens. We'd travel the globe, become students of the world, learning the cultures of the places around on our adventures. Just call me Angelina Jolie.

Unfortunately, these things will not happen nearly as often as I'd like them to. We don't have the disposable income to globe trot. Motorman just plain doesn't have the vacation time, and even though boy wonder has a lot of freedom, I still have to live around my school schedule until I graduate three years from now. Even though I have all these great ideas to create lesson plans around the places we do manage to visit, I rarely, if ever, get it done. On bad days, these are all things that really bother me. It's upsetting that I'm still tethered to a traditional school situation, even though we've removed our son from his. I can't tell you how many times we've missed out on things because motorman couldn't get off work - in fact, we just missed his brother's wedding due to a training class motorman had to attend. It sucks. And I can't begin to tell you how depressing it gets to realize that being full of great lesson plan ideas does not actually translate into creating said lesson plans. Go figure.

The Virgo in me loves to plan and organize everything to death. I also love to dream and fantasize and create all kinds of 'what if' scenarios. This month, it's living off the land and raising cows for fresh, organic milk. (If you know me, you understand why this is so funny.) I'm good at dreaming, and I'm great at planning. I'm not so wonderful at actually doing all these things. Wanting to plan everything out flies in the face of unschooling. And since we're not actually planning to unschool, I feel more like we're just not getting anything done, and I don't like that feeling. And just when I start worrying about emerging signs of insanity (he's seven, too young for drug addiction, I've got years to watch for that one), boy wonder comes to me and tells me he wants to read me a book. And he reads it, all the way through. And he only needs help with a few words. And I'm thinking, wow, when did this happen?

When I think about it, boy wonder surprises me all the time with these little founts of knowledge. He references trips we've taken, places we've been, things we've done, books we've read. This child has been to Hawaii, New York, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, Washington D.C. and many places in between. We lives our lives with him, he goes where we go. We talk about things that interest him and things that interest us. He golfs with his daddy and goes to museums with me. We read books together and play video games and watch cartoons and The Discovery Channel. We talk about sharks and put together skeletons and create power point presentations about platypus (platypi?). We have a garden and look for bugs and try new foods and go to the library. He's taken horse back riding and drum lessons. He's gone to theater camp and starting a trampoline and tumbling class. He's learned from everything he has done. And he's (mostly) had fun doing it.

Why put all of this pressure on making a vacation with grandma all about learning? What's the point? There may come a time when we want to do something a little more formal with his learning. In a few years when we see what kind of interests he has and what he thinks he may want to explore as he grows older, we'll figure it all out. But for right now, he's seven. He really does learn from everything we do. And I don't want to be the one that makes learning an unpleasant chore. Now is the time to enjoy this wonderful little boy - while he's still a little boy. That's going to end all too soon. Sometimes I'm so worried about screwing up the future, I forget to enjoy the perfect moments happening all around me. That's something I need to remind myself more often.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Good Morning Sunshine!

I woke up early this morning. Bubby needed a bottle and when I eventually dozed back off motorman woke me up to say good bye when he left for work. That was the end of my night of sleep. The sun hadn't even risen yet. I. Am Not. A. Morning. Person. I went to bed late last night, and six hours of sleep isn't gonna cut it for me. I'm going to be tired and cranky today, I can feel it. Well, maybe not cranky, but definitely tired.

I'm watching an episode of Clean House. I had never seen it before this morning, and it's my favorite show of the day. As you know from my all important First Post, I am not big on cleaning. The people on this show have a WAY bigger problem than I do, which makes me feel better about my own mess. There was a woman/daughter pair who did not want to let go of anything. The mother was acting like boy wonder when he doesn't want to share. You know what I mean - it's mine, don't touch it, I'm not changing my mind (sticks out lip, stamps foot). She actually broke down and cried at the end when she was presented with a beautiful new living room. She was in panic mode. She hated the color, she hated the brand new couch, she wanted her mess back. She finally said there was nothing they could have done to make her happy. The part that scared me is, if I heard this right, she's a judge. I sincerely hope I'm mistaken, because if not, well, wow. I'm not sure what to say.

Anyway, these people are really attached to their stuff. People are having babies and there's no room for cribs because of things called kegoraters. I'm not even entirely sure what that is. I get the keg part (hey, I went to public school) but what's the 'orater'? Feel free to enlighten me if you know...I guess I could google it, but I suppose I don't really care all that much. My point to all this is (yes, there is a point): why do these people go on national television and expose themselves like this? They freak out, they're dragged kicking and screaming into participating. I'm not talking about the ambush shows where friends or family sign them up, these are shows that everyone seems to sign up for on their own. Do they truly not understand what they're getting themselves into? Are they so happy to have a free decorator and free stuff that they never thought about what all it would involve? I assume they have actually seen the shows before appearing on them. I would LOVE to be on these shows. Please, by all means, sell my stuff and redecorate several of my rooms. Tell me What Not To Wear.

And, by the way, I have not figured out how to link to different websites yet. Too early in the morning and too little sleep. Too much to wrap my tired brain around right now....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Coming out of the blog closet

So today I decided to open my blog to the world. I don't know why, but this is making me feel really vulnerable. I feel like I'm in high school again: Will they like me? Will someone make fun of me? Does anybody really care what I'm thinking about? I just know every one's going to be criticizing my spelling and grammar. I like to think I'm somewhat amusing. I try to be funny. After reading some wonderful and thoughtful blogs like Suburban Turmoil, ImPerceptibility, Doc's Sunrise Rants, The Pioneer Woman, The New Unschooler, and Halushki (just to name a very few), there's really no competition....Have you read any of The Pioneer Woman's posts? Holy frickin' cow, she's fantastic. And Halushki's bat post had me in tears, it was so funny. And if I had any idea how to link to it, I would. You're just going to have to find it on your own. Trust me, it's so worth it. Not linking is probably some sort of blogging faux pas. I'm sorry. I'm new and inexperienced. Be gentle with me, I figure it out in my next blog, promise.

But anyway, people can be mean. Especially when they're anonymous people, people who can leave nasty comments without having to look you in the eye. There is a part of me that thinks, yeah, well, to hell with what other people think! Then there's the insecure, pathetic part of me who obsesses over it. The part that feels like a professor is speaking directly to me when he's really bitching out the people who didn't study for the last test and failed it - even though I had just gotten an A. Not that that's ever happened. OK, it happened, but I really could have studied more than I did. And if it wasn't for the five points I got for bringing in 20 cans of food, I would have had a B on that test. And, seriously, do canned food A's really count?

I've decided to get over my fears and see what happens. Wish me luck. Think happy thoughts. Be kind. Which is what we should all be doing anyway, right?