Monday, April 23, 2012

Writing Realization

Lately, I've been feeling down in regards to my writing...feeling like I have nothing to say, nothing to write about, no inspiration etc. My word for this year has been anticipation. I've been doing a lot of evaluating of my life and how I'm spending my time: what is life giving and what is not. I fee like I'm cleaning out my inbox, and it feels good. I've been slowly deleting items that I have to do in my life, getting rid of commitments that are cluttering my time. I'm doing a pretty good job of it too.

But, I've been wondering about my writing. Should I not do my blog? Should I phase out of my Graphic writing? How does writing fit my life now that my kids are bigger and my life is busier. Nap time used to be my sacred time, now when do I create and think? I still want to write. I still want to publish. This is my creative outlet, but how does it work under these new life changes of motherhood.

I know it is little, but I've been doing the school newsletter for the last two years and I finally realized that this is sucking away from my personal writing time. On Mondays I spend the whole day writing the newsletter, gathering articles, and working on the layout. I do enjoy it. I think I've done good in the school through it. But am I willing to keep doing it and sacrifice my own personal writing? Last night I realized: no, nope. I think this will be another thing I delete from my inbox. I have done it well and it is now time to hand it off.

I'm practicing the art of saying no and cleaning my life of feels very anticipatory!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Conversation, Not Typical: God -Sighting 7,890

Our Easter conversation was not your typical family discussion. We discussed sperm. I was the instigator, I'm sure. I shared some random fact from some random article I read about sperm donors and how sperm is a major export for the US. There were statistics on how one guy had donated so much sperm he'd paid his way through college and graduate school and how donors get paid more for higher degrees etc. Then I mentioned how one family sued a sperm bank because their child ended up having cystic fibrosis. The horror on my sisters face grew. Why? She couldn't fathom. Because they wanted perfect children. Of course, not everyone who chooses this route does, but that was the population this article was highlighting. Then we launched into adoption and how wrong it is that white children are more expensive to adopt than children who are obviously not white. With each story my sister's passion grew.

What is the point of children? Yes, we all want "perfect" children. But, I think the point of parenting is learning to release control and realizing that there are things you do as a parent that help your children grow and bloom, but then there is free will, the roll of science, and numerous other factors that are out of our control that we have to learn to surrender and accept.

My sister's horror is one rooted in a deep love for a little boy who, frankly, most of us would initially say we would never want. But there is such beauty in my sister and in her family because this is exactly the child that they do want and that they do embrace and who they wouldn't change. My sister Laura has modeled grief, anger, acceptance, and joy.

Is society really better if we "weed" out all the imperfect? (I can think of another society who tried this...not a good thing. Besides, then we are allowing others to define perfection or "right.")

When I was pregnant with my three little boys, the fear that one of them might have autism was great. My sister's son had been born this way. We both tend to see this as a genetic issue, so I was scared. When each of them met a major milestone, like making eye contact, relating to others, etc. I was so relieved. Sure, I didn't really want a child with autism. I really didn't want a child with any genetic disorder. This is a hard subject and one that we should wrestle with continually.

My sister has not been damaged from have an autistic child. And just so you know, he is very severe, on the spectrum. The biggest benefit of Tyler? He has given to his family...there are now two sisters who embrace and live fully into the fact that bad things do happen and still God is good. That one doesn't have to be perfect to love and to feel love back. That joy comes from the unexpected. That the imperfect childhood is actually the best gift a parent can be forced to hand their children. The richness that Tyler's sisters have received from having a brother with a disability is obvious to me. The maturity and empathy that they both possess outpaces their peers. They embody contentment well. To me contentment, not complacency, is a spiritual discipline, a fruit of God's spirit and one of my biggest God-sightings to date.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gas Wars

The gas wars have come to our home. It is subtle, passive, but still present. At first I thought maybe we were alone in this. When I would read articles or columns from the “experts” they would claim that rising gas prices were not effecting Americans and their spending. This was exacerbating to read, seriously? We are the only family whose budget is affected by the steep rise in filling up our tank?
Each month we preplan how we are going to spend our income. We allot various amounts into categories: food, utilities, gas, entertainment, house, car, spending money etc. And over the past few months the amounts that we have to spend in most flexible categories are getting less and less with one growing, ballooning classification: gas!

Just a minor three months ago, my husband happily drove his vehicle everywhere he could. He takes the boys to a soccer clinic on Tuesdays and Daddy’s Exterra is much cooler than mommy’s mini-van, go figure. (This is where you are supposed to chastise us for our vehicle choices and convince me that a family of five should squeeze into a Nissan Leaf. But if you faithfully read Joel Stein you’ll know that most people only make green choices when it benefits them financially, more fuel efficient cars cost much more initially than a used car, or is something they can easily afford.) The boys can feel the testosterone emitted from this machine even at their tender ages. It is the preferred vehicle of choice. And I didn’t mind. I told myself, “Hey, that means I won’t have to fill my van up quite as soon.” My husband is a little slower at noticing rising fuel prices. But a strange thing happened this last month: the Exterra stayed put on Tuesday nights. My husband claimed the car seats were too arduous to move from my van to his SUV. (Both vehicles get the same gas mileage.)

I knew the truth: pain at the pump.

I’ve tried to compensate. I actually schedule days to go nowhere, just stay local. We live an average of 30 minutes away from most market centers. There are a few items that we can get locally. Over the last few years I’ve slowly transferred by loyalties closer to home: dentist, hair dresser, home improvement purchases, mechanic, and basic grocery. But, not all things can be purchased close to home. Nor are all things cheaper close to home. And so I am forced to venture out a few times a week. I try and combine trips. We do a lot of errands after church. I’ve started to invite friends over to our house, instead of going their way. I count it a victory when no one opens the van door or starts the engine. (Did you know that the Greatest Generation has been the most environmentally conservative, even more than today’s Millennials that supposedly know better? Cause: forced cheap frugality.)

A few times when I’ve had to run to the store to get milk or bread, I grab Hans’ keys instead of my own because I know what’s going on here: a gas war. A cold war. Tension. Anxiety. It’s definitely slowly down our personal economy and making us chose between gas and other things we’d much rather spend our money on. I know that this is a 1st world problem. I have perspective. I am blessed and grateful, but I’m also a little irritated when I hear that the rising gas prices aren’t affecting Americans as much this time around because it feels pretty much the same as it did in 2007. How about you?