Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. 

~John Lennon

I have been busy making plans for our last-hurrah, final family-vacation-with-all-of-us, trip to Washington, D.C. next month!  I've always wanted to take our kids.  Next summer, we'll be looking at two leaving for college and hopefully working at summer jobs, and we are thinking hard about selling our trailer...so the time has come.

It sure makes sense to use the trailer for this trip, since we have it.  Hotel rooms in DC aren't cheap, and we'd have to get two of them.  Gas is going to cost us an arm and a leg--our rig gets 8 mpg, which has deterred us from many a long trip--but we'll still come out far ahead over getting hotel rooms, I realized when I crunched the numbers.

I've been crunching a lot of numbers lately.  With the college bill looming and finally a little free time this summer, I've been scrutinizing our budget and all our accounts, including savings accounts we set up for kids years ago.  Turns out the bank didn't get the address changed on all of them...and other problems have needed to be ironed out as well.  We set up college and high school checking accounts for B19 and Blondechick17, and I've been gleaning advice on paying for college.  Even with a financial aid package, that bill is daunting!

It's enough to raise one's blood pressure, but praise the Lord, for the last month I've been completely off medication, and my blood pressure readings have been perfect.  I think now that stress was most likely the main reason my b.p. was up.  The slower pace of the summer, having another driver to help with some of the running around, dealing with things that have been piling up, not homeschooling or working...it's taken time, but the layers of stress have been melting away, a little more every day, so that at last, I feel like I've regained some internal equilibrium.  Actually, this feels like the first time in 3.5 years--since we began thinking about moving--that I can truly relax, and I am so grateful!

It's nice to be past a crisis point in my own life, because in the last week, I've been able to go spend whole days back in Illinois, helping out some friends in crisis.  It's felt so good to have the margin in my own life to be able to serve without stress and with joy in the giving.  One day, I joined a team of friends to do a "Clean Sweep" makeover of areas of a mutual friend's house that had years of accumulated clutter--due to issues that go deeper than the layers of stuff.  We sorted stuff into garbage bags and garage sale boxes, vacuumed, dusted, took before and after pics, laughed, joked, and sank into exhaustion at the end of the day--it was great!  Currently, I am watching a friend's youngest kids, two boys about the ages of Chicklet7 and Bantam5, for a few days.  We are going to go to the beach, ride the trolley, maybe do the Jelly Belly factory...gotta keep little boys busy!

One thing about my cleaning experience that struck me was how efficient and energizing it was to clean with 3 other women.  We all were able to look around, see what needed to be done, figure out a way to do it, work non-stop for an entire day, laugh and joke while doing it, and amaze ourselves with how much we were able to get done!  That has not been my experience cleaning with teens, with kids, or with husbands.  And we all noted how much easier it is to be objective about someone else's belongings.  So my takeway is:  Ladies, consider teaming up for a Saturday of deep cleaning or decluttering.  Set your goals, send the kids and the husbands to somebody else's house for the day, and see how much you can accomplish!  Rotate houses and Saturdays, and I'm certain you'll get more done and have a better time doing it than if you chip away at it by yourself.

Besides college, I've also been thinking about our next year of homeschooling.  I can't make too many decisions yet, because the big one has been made.  I've taken the plunge and have B11 and Chicklet7 signed up to participate in a virtual school, free through the state of WI.  Purists would say that I'm technically not homeschooling them, because they will be e-students of a public school system, but I need the schedule and the accountability for this next year.  The last 3.5 years have been filled with the chaos of selling a house, moving, resettling and more, and though we've done well with a relaxed approach, we need to have a solid year, especially with B11 entering middle school.

And I just need a program that I can show up for every day.  This will be my 14th year of homeschooling, and I have grown weary.  I did not enroll B5, who will be starting kindergarten, because I was afraid it would be more work for him than it was worth to me.  I want to spend most of my time with B11 and Chicklet, and I want time for reading aloud together.  But I'll start him on Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I've used with all his siblings, and my favorite kindergarten workbooks: Get Ready...  Get Set... and Go For the Code workbooks.  Maybe I'll even let him write in them.

So, life.  Making plans, while the clock keeps ticking away.  Life keeps on happening.  And it's been good.

3 comments:

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Debbie said...

I'm really glad to read your update, Jeanne, and think the rest of the gang would too. Could you pls. remind us whenever you write a new post?

Love you,
Deb

MomCO3 said...

I have so appreciated your example of doing what is best for YOUR family at each stage, regardless of what those hypothetical Joneses say we ought to be doing. I like the recommendation of cleaning together-- the only time I've done that was when someone was moving, and it was so much fun! Have a wonderful road trip-- I hope all your transitions this fall are smooth.