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. 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!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Don't miss the village, make your own village!

Over the last few weeks, this "I miss the village" blog post has continued to pop up.  I've read it and liked it. If you haven't read it, basically it's a dream of a mom of young children to not have to go it alone all the time. It's the dream of moms living life together, naturally helping each other and working together instead of every mom for herself. And I get it. It's actually very practical. Why should we ALL cook dinner at the same time when we could pot luck it together or take turns? It would make my life SO much easier!

Here's the thing though. As I was reading through this lovely vision of utopian motherhood, I realized I wasn't really missing the things that the writer was sharing. Sure, I do in some respects, but I've been making my own village of sorts for years. Unless you and your friends are willing to take over a cul de sac or somehow find ways to live next to your favorite people (which I am totally down with doing- friends, you know who you are because we've already talked about how to do it!), you have to modernize your definition of village.

So here is the key to my metaphorical village.  Basically, I started stepping up for other moms the way I wanted them to step up for me. Kind of like the "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you". Sound familiar?  I do it without keeping score. There were certainly times when life was insane, and friends have offered their help to me knowing there was no way I'd be able to return the favor.  But you know, there have been times when I've helped out moms knowing their lives were crazy. The heart of the village concept is that we serve in love, not in hopes of getting something in return.

So here are some specific ways I've made my village. I've given and received these. Both instances are always a blessing for me. In fact, I honestly love being the one bringing dinner to a friend more than getting a dinner. I admit I might love dropping the kids off with a friend more than picking up the extra kids from time to time, but come on. Coffee alone or coffee with 5 kids playing legos/Pokemon/Smash Bros.?  There's a clear winner. Just being honest. =) Anyway, specifics...

  • Offer to keep your friend's children for a few hours. If your friends asks you to watch them for a couple of hours, why not offer to keep the kids for 4 hours instead? Give the gift of time.
  • If you make extra muffins/cookies/dinner, drop it off at your friend's house. You don't have to stay and make a thing of it. I'll occasionally make huge batches of food for dinner. Sometimes I freeze the extra, and sometimes I call my friend and say "Hey, I made _______. Do you want to come over for dinner or I can bring it to you."  Yes, it sounds a little weird, but again, wouldn't you want someone to do that for you if you were having a long week? So do it for them.
  • One time I came down with one of the worst stomach viruses in my life. I had 3 little ones and my husband was out of town. A friend came over and took care of the kids, made sure they ate, and put them to bed for me. I think she cleaned too. Honestly, I just know that we were alive and well the next day. Beyond that is a blur.  =)
  • This same friend's husband almost died from an illness. Actually, he almost died a year after that as well from an accident. He lives dangerously. In any case,  I picked up the youngest kid and kept him so my friend could stay at the hospital without worrying if her 8 year old had eaten that day.
  • Or more simply, this morning my upstairs neighbor was walking down the stairs as I was walking out with 5 kids. I had extra boys today so we went to the park. My neighbor had her hands full with her beautiful baby girl in a carseat on one arm, a baby bathtub in another, a few extra things in her hands, all while talking on a cell phone. I carried the baby bathtub to the parking lot for her. It was no big deal. I'd hope someone would do that for me if my hands were full. Actually, people have done that for me, and it was awesome. Yes, AWESOME.
Like I said, don't offer help if comes with an expectation of getting something in return. That's not service. That would be investing for profit. If you help your friends out, they will probably want to return the favor, and that's where the village part comes in. If you're not expecting it, you get the added bonus of genuine joy from receiving the gift instead of feeling as if you deserved it anyway. Does that make sense?  Obviously don't be a doormat and be realistic in what you can offer. In some slices of life, I can offer a lot to people. In other slices, I desperately need the help! 

So to all of my mom friends, try to be the friend you want to have. You will find the people that will happily come to your rescue when your world is falling apart around you or you've come down with a stomach virus that leaves you chained to the bathroom. It's much easier to find those people if you're willing to be one of those people.