Inspiration Paused

This week I am lacking inspiration for writing.  Some weeks and days I can see it all around me. A story here. A story there. This week, I don’t see inspiration at all.  Where did it go?

Maybe it is the fact that all my paid writing assignments are done and submitted.  Maybe it is the fact that we are wrapping up my son’s school year with his final assessment completed yesterday.  Maybe it is the fact that I’m letting my brain rest.

Maybe I just don’t want to see the inspiration this week.  All my other responsibilities call my name this week.  And I’m not talking about running to the grocery store or bank. Instead my calendar is full of baseball games, final programs, board meetings and escaping away.

Regardless, it is nice to let my brain put a pause to the inspiration I am choosing to ignore around me.  I think I’ll hit the unpause button next week!

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

my dad, a dead mouse and a fraction kit

  • My dad likes to tell this story.
  • He had an art project due.  He remembered the hour before it was due.  He was in shop class. The same teacher I would have years later thanks to a small town school.  He and his friends literally threw together a cityscape with left over wood pieces.  Throw in some saw dust for good measure. And the best part, he and his friends found a dead mouse.
  • The perfect accessory for a “well thought out” art project.
  • He turned in the art project to rave reviews. “Oh Glenn. The time and thought you put into this” he likes to tell us while he chuckles.  He reminds us that he and his friends stifled laughter as the art teacher went on and on and on.
  • His art project got a prized location of display. The school library.  The entire art project – even the dead mouse – was on display.  He likes to share how eventually the librarian said, “Glenn, can we at least get rid of the mouse?”
  • I love this story my dad shares. It reminds me of all my dad has done.  How he has built homes for himself as he and my mom build their second house together. How he has built a successful business. How he has recycled materials before it was the “cool” thing to do.
  • If I could give you a tour of the first house they built. The house I grew up in.  The house my sister and family now live in.  I could tell you where each piece of wood came from. Each accessory. Especially the water fountains that used to work.  The doors. The staircase. The light fixtures.
  • And now they are doing the same with their new home.  How cool that their fireplace has the exact same slate that used to be a school chalkboard.  The very school where once my dad was throwing togehter pieces of wood, dirt and a dead mouse.
  • What prompted this memory?
  • My goal for the summer is to purge though “stuff” I’ve collected over the years with a promise to finally organize them.  What did I find yesterday?
  • A fraction kit with my dad’s name on it in my grandma’s handwriting. A reminder that my dad was once a little boy using his creativity in unusal ways – complete with dust, wood and a mouse to the rave reviews of his instructors. A reminder that he became a strong man who has created and valued every person and thing around him. A reminder that I want my boys to grow up like that too.
  • Kory will have a lesson on fractions today.  A lesson that includes his grandpa’s fraction kit along with a story about his grandpa and a dead mouse.

Homework and Life

My son doesn’t understand what it is like to have homework.

He is seven – almost eight – and finishing up second grade.

He attends a virtual charter school where we very much function as a homeschooling family.

He knows that school work goes until it is done.

He understands working ahead to take a day off.

He understands that some subjects take longer than others.

He doesn’t understand why his friends can’t play in the evening because of homework.

I told him the other day: “Homework just gets in the way of life.”

Now he is repeating it to me about everything.

“Vision therapy just gets in the way of life” is his favorite one to say right now.

And now I must interrupt his break between lessons (as I write this on Monday afternoon).

Because we don’t want homework tonight.

Homework just gets in the way of life!

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Mother’s Day without Children

Happy Mothers Day people cheer all around.

You stand there without children.  All the moms are getting flowers. Do you go up for one?  You are a mother.  A mother without a child. Your child is buried in a little cemetery. All the other moms have kids running up with them. Do you walk up alone?

The mothers are invited up to the altar at church for special prayer.  It is awkward standing there deciding. Do I go up. Don’t I go up. Oh what do I do. Will I have to explain. I’m not really a mother. But I am a mother.  My child lives in heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day people say as you walk in the building.  They are all smiles. But you are faking the smile. Inside you are grieving. Your mother died years ago. This day of celebration breaks your heart. If you could only see her one more time.

Happy Mother’s Day you hear. Yet you are struggling to have children of your own. Maybe you have miscarried more than you want to share.  Maybe you have been told you could never have children. Maybe you are still holding out for the miracle.

You watch moms being loved on. You love on children. Your nieces, nephews, maybe “adopted” children in your life. You never married. You married and never had children.  You chose to not have children. You didn’t have a choice in not having children.  When is your special day of honor?

These women deserve a mother’s day just as much as the ones who bore children, adopted children, raised children.  They are all around us on this day of joyful celebration of mothers.

I’ve been one of these moms. After I lost Aidan, we skipped going to church on the first Mother’s Day. I couldn’t imagine the pain of sitting there and hearing all about how wonderful mothers are knowing that I, as a mother, had made some of the most difficult decisions ever for my child. Decisions that went beyond which was the better apple juice to buy, whether I should buy organic/non-organic or whether to either breastfeed or use formula.

The second Mother’s Day was easier.  I was pregnant with Kory. I could at least “look” the part of the mother without extra explanation.

My heart still cringes on Mother’s Day. I think of all the women I know.  All the women I don’t know. The women walking among us every day. The women we casually bump into. The women who are hurting on this day of celebration for “Mother’s”.  So yes, you will hear me wish a Happy Mother’s Day, but you will also hear me applaud the women out there who are mothers in so many ways.

The ones who are not mothers by choice but deeply involved in a motherly role.  The ones who have tried for years to have babies of their own. The ones who never married – whether by choice or not. The ones who face the day without their own mothers.  The ones who put on a fake smile.  The ones who tear up not out of celebration but sorrow.

Those are the ones who really deserve my tribute today!

Sponge Bob, Mario Cart and International Communication

We are a couple weeks into hosting our international high school student.  It has been a fun experience that we all have been enjoying. I can’t help to think that some of those international communication classes I took in grad school are finally paying off! Last night as the boys were out with Keith to get video games, I sat and chatted with Heidi. She shared about Korean culture. I shared about American culture. We both learned about each other. What fun!

I’ve been reminded over the past few weeks that some things don’t require any effort in international communication. Here are some things that haven’t required any special explanation or finding the right words as I watch the boys and Heidi interact.

Sponge Bob SquarePants: “Do you know Sponge Bob?” “Of course!”

Any video game/DS version of Mario Brothers: “Mario Cart is my favorite” as I watch the three of them huddled together playing video games on the couch.

Bubbles: “Oh I love bubbles” as I watch my youngest and her blow bubbles and chase them around.

Sidewalk Chalk: The three of them sat and drew a whole Sponge Bob scene on my driveway.

What fun this has been!

love of music

This weekend we interrupted our baseball life for some music.

My oldest son, Kory and I went  to a community band concert. We didn’t randomly pick it. Kory’s former piano teacher plays in the horn section and had a featured piano solo. Since we hadn’t seen her for a few months and she was hoping for some familiar faces in the crowd, Kory and I decided to drive the hour or so to see her concert.

It was amazing. As I sat there with my son listening to the various parts, I had so many things rush through my head.  All the piano practicing I did through 10 plus years of lessons. Accompanying school choirs and ensembles. Playing the clarinet and oboe. The music appreciation classes focusing on concert etiquette. The concerts my parents and grandparents attended to listen to me play. The early morning band class at college that I only did for one semester. That first college concert when I looked out into the crowd and realized my parents, siblings and grandparents weren’t there anymore to watch me because I was 12 hours from home. It just wasn’t worth it when it had nothing to do with my major. I stopped playing clarinet. I stopped playing oboe. I only tinkered on the piano.

As I  sat in the middle school auditorium turned concert hall, I felt my eyes tear up at the beauty of the notes and rhythms. The beauty that someone created this music from nothing. I thought of my grandfather’s explanation of tears as a little boy when he heard the music in church, “sometimes the music just touches me.” It was touching me.

The concert was a perfect time to snuggle with my son who had kicked off his flip flops and curled up in his chair.  We listened to the music together. We tapped out the beats and rhythms. We softly whispered how pieces sounded like they belonged on an episode of  Tom and Jerry cartoons or featured in a video game. I whispered explanations on why the lady with the black straight horn came out to tune everyone up before the concert started. I whispered how to tell when the conductor was done and we could clap. This is one of the reasons I love to homeschool. He wasn’t learning about music in a classroom with a textbook. He was learning it in real life.

I watched the lady next to me close her eyes and sway to the music. I watched the boy in front of my gently play with his mother’s hair. I saw the lady in the row in front of me win a cash prize in the concert’s raffle.  I saw her generously and discreetly decline the winnings and instead hand them over to the featured music organization raising funds that night.  I saw the organization’s spokes lady gush with “thank you. thank you. thank you.”

I saw my son close his eyes and absorb the music through the night. “It is okay if you feel sleepy. The music is relaxing, isn’t it,” I told him. I felt him snuggled up next to me and tap out the beat. I watched him clap at the right times. I watched him pretend he was playing the horn.

“Mommy, I really liked that,” I heard him say at the end.

“Me too, Kory. Me too,” I responded back.

That night he didn’t beg for more snuggles at bedtime. He didn’t tell me his snuggle-meter was only registering to his ankles.

We got our snuggles in earlier as we both further developed our love of music.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

What Busy Looks Like

We have been very busy here at our home.

Baseball schedules for two boys.

Home responsibilities.

Volunteer responsibilities.

Work responsibilities.



Birthday Celebrations.

Opening up our home to a student.

This is what busy looks like for us.

What does busy look like for you?

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to my youngest today. He turns four.

Oh the memories of those first few days of his life. The memories he has helped me create since then. And today on his birthday, we will make more memories.

We are getting our “mud boots” ready to search for tadpoles and frogs with my real-life friend Pamela.

Later this evening, we will celebrate as a family by going bowling.

Today, we celebrate Cade with frogs and bowling balls.

I love you Cade, and happy birthday!

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers