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Friday, October 24, 2014

Though he slay me

It's now been 7 weeks of temporary job status. For a few days last week we actually thought things had turned a corner, but no. That Raleigh job was kind of a disaster and not what we were expecting at all. So...Monday we'll be back to the same temporary work as before. I'm beyond thankful for the opportunity, but it does mean that my husband is gone during the week. This past week he was working nights here and sleeping during the day. Do you know what it's like to homeschool in a shoebox while your husband tries to sleep in the next room?  We certainly managed, but it was a long week with no set schedule.

So here's the thing that I've been thinking about for the past few months. I never realized how much the whole health and wealth mentality had made its way into my thinking until the last year. I would have never claimed I held to the belief that if I do what God wants, things go well, and if things go badly, then it must be my fault. But still...it's kind of there underneath. We just couch in more acceptable terms. We say that God will work everything out, but what we mean is that God will eventually provide (fill in the blank) if we're faithful. No matter how bad things get, we just assume that eventually it will get better. That great job really will happen. Whatever stress we have in our lives eventually will get better. And generally, that assumption works out well as long as we're only looking within our American church. But what if I think about the Christians in Iraq and Syria? Does God not care and provide for them? Do they get beheaded and sold into slavery because they're less faithful? Surely not. What does it mean when Christians in China or Sudan are imprisoned or murdered? How can I sit here and just assume that God will grant me all of my wishes when that is obviously not how life works for most of the world? When that's not even the example we see in the Bible. God's plan is large and encompassing. I'm one tiny part of a much bigger, overarching scheme. What if that verse that says "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him"  actually means what it says?

Big questions, I know. And it's not like our lives have been that difficult in many ways over the last year.  We don't have the luxury of being able to plan our life more than a week in advance (which drives me CRAZY), but it's not like I'm worried about feeding my kids or asking how we'll pay our bills. The kids eat well and the bills are paid on time. We'll spend our Saturday getting Halloween costumes together. To compare my situation to the word slay is a bit of a stretch. Still, I can't help but come to the realization that there's a distinct possibility that this won't get better. Stay with me, I know this is depressing.  But really. Things might not get any easier, ever. Does that mean God doesn't love us or that we've screwed up so God is zapping us with some form of cosmic retribution? Nope. Or things might get better. I certainly expect them to. This isn't where I see us staying. Will that mean we've earned our way back up the holy ladder? Nope. God has a reason for the ups and the downs. So I suppose I'm learning to ride the waves, and if we sink, well...I will trust in Him.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just a boring Dumont weekly update

So we're closing in on two weeks since my husband quit his job. I know some of you will read that and think "How irresponsible! They deserve the struggle of unemployment if he quit."  I can't give a detailed explanation as to why things have worked out they way they have, but I can absolutely without hesitation say that sometimes quitting is actually the best choice. Consider that. Unemployment was preferable. *shudder* I can also say that if I could give all the details, you would absolutely agree we did the only thing we could do. Oh, and one more thing. My husband actually hasn't missed a single day of work since he quit. He's been working at something else that's temporary. That's okay. Temporary is good enough for now. So, that's out of the way.

And how are we? We've had some promising leads. I really don't think this circumstance will last long before we're off and running again. We're still not sure if we'll have to relocate (again). But if we do, it's not like I haven't had enough practice at packing. I'm pretty sure I can handle it again. The kids are well. They of course are kind of oblivious to everything. It's not that they don't know, it's just that it hasn't affected their lives very much yet. As far as they're concerned, the only difference is that I won't take them to eat out. Oh to be an ignorant, oblivious 8yr old.

And that's about it. Nothing new or exciting this week. I appreciate all the messages I've gotten from friends and prayers. We've definitely felt them in the last few weeks. Feel free to continue those prayers as well. =)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In case you missed the lack of employment announcement...

So...My husband quit his job on Friday. He called me on his way home to let me know. As soon as he got home, we drove to Charleston so he could work there for his Reserves weekend. It was a hectic, exhausting, raw week and weekend for us. Monday morning, he got up and left before the rest of us to work with an old friend/employer for the week. Adrenaline got me through last week and it lasted right up until Monday morning around 8:55am. That would be 15 minutes before our homeschool group started, and I would have to jump into tutor mode for a group of 6 year olds. I managed to get through class well and even made it home before crawling into bed and sleeping for 2 hours.

When given the choice of hiding difficulty and sharing it for prayers and support, I use a sliding scale to determine how open I'll be. Sudden unemployment makes it to the major life problem side of the scale and equals sharing. Sharing leads to two responses: Genuine concern and offers of help and prayer OR sudden lack of eye contact and people needing to suddenly "run and check on that..thing...that I forgot to do...that's...over on the other side of the building..."  You know the response. =) A few of those reactions on Monday morning didn't help, but I don't blame them. I've done that to people too.  Unemployment is scary sounding. It's not like it's contagious, but we still want to be as far away as possible from it. 

So after sharing with a few people the situation we found ourselves/put ourselves into, it finally hit me. We have no job. We have ideas of jobs...possible leads for jobs...even a secure backup job in a few months if nothing else comes up. But for now, we have no job. But I do still have kids. And bills. You know, expensive things. I have no husband. He's still gone for temporary work. That's good. Income is good. Absent husband is not good. *sigh*

 I know we made the right choice, of that I have no doubt. Unfortunately, that doesn't take away the fatigue, the fear that creeps up requiring me to tamp it down (because who has time for fear. Really). To walk around with a big smile on my face would be a lie. We're tired and hurt by the situation, and that takes time to overcome. There's also uncertainty now. No matter how much faith a person has, I'm still human. Knowing in my head that everything will be okay doesn't mean it will be easy, and knowledge sometimes takes its sweet time on its way to my heart.

So...all that to say we are not closing off any options.  Although we'd like to stay here, relocation is absolutely a possibility. We're looking for temporary "this will work until something better comes along" as well as "I could do this for the next 20 years" jobs. That's it then. Friends, let us know if you have any job leads. If we don't live near you and you'd like us to again, you now have incentive to look for jobs for us as well. =)


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ambiguity, we meet again.

Thanks to Timehop, I know that exactly one year ago today I was able to share with everyone our plan to leave Charleston, SC for Raleigh, NC. We were idealistic and hopeful. We'd decided to take a risk on two levels. Because one risk isn't enough, let's do two at the same time. We were moving to help support an organization that hadn't actually launched in Raleigh. We were also moving to take advantage of what we hoped would be a promising, stable opportunity for our family and our future. We were looking to settle down. *Sigh* It was a beautiful dream. Of course we knew things wouldn't work out the way we expected, they never do. And yet the results are always surprising. I'm still standing in amazement at how things have unfolded since last September, and honestly, I'm not sure what our lives are about to look like. I just know that God is doing something. One day I'll be able to look back and say "Ohhhh, so that's the point! I had to go through that to end up here."

And here isn't always a geographical location. Sometimes here is a new place in my heart. A place where I've learned empathy and compassion for people in a way I could never have understood before. A place where I learn that even though anger might be justified, I have to let it go anyway. Hopefully BEFORE I lambast them in person/over the phone/in public. Although I'm still not convinced that shaming isn't sometimes very helpful and useful. But I digress. I still have some lessons to learn obviously.  =)

Of course I have to be ambiguous. Again. I hate ambiguity. HATE. IT. But I can't give life details, and I can't keep this all to myself. Therefore, ambiguity. I can say that although the last year has been hard in so many ways, we've weathered this one better than all the other life changes we've put ourselves through so far. And I think that's saying something. We've done marriage in college, baby in college, military activation in college and after, two more kids, buying a house, selling a house, moving, moving, moving, moving, job change, job change, both working, neither working, homeschooling, etc. You get the picture. We've actually LEARNED something and gotten better at working through life together. For the first time, I'm not stewing in indecision and worry over how things are going to end up. It will end up. That's all I have to know right now. I have a to-do list for today a mile long and stewing is not on it.

So you see? God used all of these things to make us the people we are today. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the most amazing person on earth in another 50 years.  I obviously haven't learned humility. I'm sure that lesson will be super fun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I can't schedule my way out of this.

It's lunchtime on Wednesday. School books, papers, clothes, and suitcases and strewn everywhere. My baby kitchen is covered in dishes, half a birthday cake, two crock pots of beans cooking, more papers, but no lunch. I've been called a "bad screen mom" this morning because I wouldn't let the kids turn on the Wii or the Nintendo 3DS. I stayed up too late last night and in bed too late this morning.  At some point during the day, I need to wrap birthday presents and have everything ready for tomorrow including making a TARDIS birthday cake for my oldest's 12th birthday. We've done math. That was fun. Don't you remember 7th grade math being fun? I've cleaned up a spilled cup. That splurge on a Trader Joe's Organic Dark Chocolate Pecan and Raisin candy bar that was supposed to last me a week? Yeah, it's basically gone. I was shoving chocolate in my mouth like my life depended on it. It wasn't pretty, friends. It wasn't pretty.

And yet, as I sit in here trying to collect my thoughts, my kids keep coming in here. They can't stay away from me. I'm their favorite person. They want to talk to me about the guy on America's Funniest Home Videos that had the mohawk mullet, lactose intolerance, and Bubble Buddy from Spongebob. Now they're in another room laughing and making really weird, loud noises. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that it sounds like the monkey section of the zoo on field trip day.

A little while ago as I was standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what to do next, I did the most productive thing I could think of and checked Facebook on my phone. Because avoidance is always an option. That's where I saw this post from A Holy Experience .  And then I read this quote:

"More than needing schedules and productivity, this week will need a Savior and prayer."
  
Isn't that just the most profound thing you've ever read? Ever?!?!  At least it is for me this week. I can't schedule and organize my way out of this chaos. Chaos is here to stay. Law of Entropy, right? Things will always move towards disorder and chaos. BUT I can pray my way through it. So as I battle my way through a self-inflicted sugar headache, a long list of MUST-DOs, errands, school, cleaning, interruptions that are certainly coming even if I can't see them yet,  I will be praying through it. Asking for grace, eyes to see the lesson and the beauty in all of it, and that things will calm down next week. Because really. This is not a sustainable lifestyle for me. I know most other people live life at 90 mph, but that is NOT my goal. Now to go do those errands...


Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 1 of he...I mean school is done!

As unbelievable as this is to me, I've just realized that this is my 8th year homeschooling. This past week was my 8th first week of school. Eight years doesn't compare to some of my friends who have children married and graduated from college. Still, 8 years is a lot to me. It's the most I've ever done. =)  I can say unequivocally that of all first weeks we've had, this has been the most difficult. I thought the year that Charlotte decided to walk on Tommy's first day of school was tough. I thought the year that I had to actually undertake formal education for two children at different levels at the same time was even more difficult. This year though....this year has reduced me to tears already. TEARS. It's been one. week.

The last month has not gone the way I'd intended. Instead of spending my last few weeks of summer preparing for my oldest to begin 7th grade Challenge with Classical Conversations like I'd planned, I had to basically throw that goal out the window to instead figure out tutoring. I'd agreed to be a CC tutor, and that was an entirely different level of commitment that I needed to prepare for. Then my husband had to work in Charleston for the week, and we needed to go with him. That took away an entire week of prep. Then there was the tire that needed to be replaced. Then everyone got sick. Then another tire had to be replaced. Then the windshield got hit with a rock and started to crack requiring that  to be replaced. Then we started our first week of CC with me tutoring on Monday and my oldest going to his first Challenge class on Tuesday. Then Mr. Inc had to work in Charleston again so we followed. Again. Then another tire blew so our drive home turned into just over 6 hours of slow going and repeated bathroom stops. We got home at 10:20pm on Sunday night. After putting the kids to bed, I did laundry, half packed lunches, finished the rest of my tutor prep, took a shower, and went to bed. The shower was a waste of time because I was so tired that I forgot to actually wash my hair. So I had to take another shower 5 hours later when I got up to get ready for our second week of CC. By the way, that's 5 interrupted hours of sleep because my husband had to leave around 4:??AM. 

Or there was the zip file that beautifully broke down all of Mr. L's work into daily assignments. The beautiful zip file that I could NOT open. So I had to attempt to do it myself. I did it badly. And Mr. L isn't used to this kind of workload and schedule. AND he's taking Latin. Because...you know...let's just torture the poor kid some more. In the meantime, my typical middle child was interrupting every thought with "When will I get to do more school?!?! Why does he  always get to do all of the work?!?!"

Really??? Really.

My 4 year old just ran around, ate Goldfish crackers because frankly, mommy didn't care anymore, and sang his little skip counting song or history song. I love that kid. I mean, I love them all. But if kid number 3 turns out badly, I'm going to feel terrible about it. I'll feel terrible if any of them turn out badly, but kid #3 is my extra sweet one that just loves me without judgement in his eyes. I don't have favorites. Really. That would be wrong.  He's just extra easy, and easy goes a long way right now.

BUT (Yes, there's a but). We made it through the week!!! We got up this morning! I took a shower (again) and remembered to actually use shampoo!  I was at CC on time! My friend brought me coffee (that a kid knocked over and spilled all over the floor, but it's the thought that counts). I even finished my class on time while completing fun, educational review games with my class!!!  The kids all gave me big smiles at lunch while yelling "HI MISS MINDY!!!"  One girl even gave me a picture she'd drawn of me teaching her class. I got the blown tire replaced. I took two separate 10 minute naps that actually helped. I went to my parent meeting for American Heritage Girls. I went to the grocery store for a few things! I got the kids to go to bed! My oldest finished his SCIENCE essay! I ate my kids' leftovers while watching Battlestar Galactica! Okay, that's probably not such a win. He's going to be mad about that tomorrow.  Still...I was hungry. But we made it. One. week. down.

I have promised myself that even though I knew the beginning would be rough, it will be worth it. It also shouldn't be so hard once we actually know what we're doing and have a routine. God, please let it not be sooo hard all year. PLEASE.

So there you go. That was my 8th first week of homeschooling along with the plot twists that lead up to it. Tomorrow, I'm probably doing nothing of tangible value. And I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 4 in my battle against school supplies

Sometimes I get into a standoff with inanimate objects. No, I never win. No, it doesn't necessarily make sense. Usually it's an isolated skirmish with books that I can't find a place for. Unfortunately, my current standoff has turned into an all out war within our shoebox home. I have too much pride to show you how bad things have gotten, but imagine the trenches of WWI. My shoebox has turned into a bloody battlefield. Against myself.

 For example...





Here is a picture of my lovely, laminated, sorted Veritas Timeline Cards. They're beautiful, aren't they? I mean, I know they're a mess, but still. It's an amazing educational tool. And they were expensive. They're also useless to me now which is why they're on the floor and have been for weeks. Yes, weeks. Right there, in the middle of the floor. The question I'm sure you're asking yourself (because I keep asking myself) is WHY?!?

And now I will give you a glimpse into my head. Bring a flashlight, it's dark in here.  

Problem # 1 These are great cards that I loved using. Unfortunately, my homeschool group uses a new set of timeline cards which I've had to purchase. I'm tutoring so I need the right cards. But now I have two sets of cards. I neither need nor want two sets of timeline cards in my life.

Problem #2 I refuse to put these cards in my organized basket of  flash cards. The basket is for cards I use. These do not qualify. If I break the rules for these cards, then all of these other fancy educational cards will want to be in the basket too. Then I won't be able to find the cards I actually need.

Problem #3 Have I mentioned I live in a shoebox? I haven't a square to spare...square foot that is.  My best option would be to have a box to put things in that need to find a new home. Then actually find them a new home. I just haven't been able to find a space for said box that's not in the way. Because giant history cards in the middle of the floor for weeks aren't in the way at all.

Solution? In my admittedly disheveled head, I'd rather leave them where they are, as annoying and distracting as they might be, than continue to shuffle them around from space to space. Basically, until I decide what to do with them permanently, I'm leaving them where they are. I told you it doesn't make sense. Even I can see the ridiculousness of it all. Yet that's how my brain works.

I have similar piles throughout the apartment. I had exactly enough space for my old school books. When I brought in all of the books and supplies for the new year, my plan was blown. And don't even get me started with my tutor supplies. Also, don't tell me to get rid of old school books. If that's your solution, you have no clue how homeschooling works. I currently have 7 grades worth of books. It works great in that I don't have to buy new school books for my younger two. I still have the books from my oldest. As my little guy works through them, THEN I can get rid of them.

I tell myself that I'm living with a greater focus beyond the daily home minutia. Why waste time keeping my home spotless when I could be pouring into my kids, reading a book, or doing anything else that's more worthwhile than vacuuming. But honestly, my brain is slightly dysfunctional and would rather live with the problem until a real solution is presented instead of band-aid fixes all over my shoebox.  And there you have it. You can feel a little better about yourself because you can say "At least I haven't had useless history timeline cards in the middle of my floor for a month!"