Friday, December 16, 2022
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Monday, August 31, 2020
What in the actual HELL am I doing? That’s basically the question I ask myself every day. About 100 times a day. I will keep it real. I am scared. Can I really do this? Can I teach my children, keep my patience, and still be a fully functioning adult? No. The answer is clearly no. But can I do it SOME of the time? Maybe.
I spent a few hours today getting myself organized. I came up with a syllabus, curriculum, and grading scale for our first month of learning. My excel spreadsheet outlines the seven subjects we will cover. BAM! I ordered a few more books online and was feeling pretty good about myself. I can do this. I even developed a few “Pre-test” exercises to do with my kids designed to be fun and promote learning. No threat, just a baseline so that we can compare in a month to see how much we have learned. Damn, I am good. A natural. Maybe I was even made for this teaching life.
Then, my boys came home from their outing with their dad. My oldest was interested and jumped right in to the exercises. We were having fun. Teasing, laughing, just playing with it. This was awesome. But there was a dark cloud looming overhead. A grumpy, wet blanket in the room. My younger son decided to throw a massive fit and be awful. I mean, total a-hole first class. It wasn’t long before he had me on the verge of tears. How am I going to do this for a whole YEAR? I glared at my husband as if there was something he could do to fix it. He should be doing something. I just didn’t know what that something was and I didn’t want to suffer alone!!
So, I took some time for myself. Distracted myself with some writing. It is therapeutic for me really. Also, I just couldn’t even look at that child without feeling angry and overwhelmed so I needed to lock myself in a room and be quiet for a while.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear? But one sorry little boy with fresh peanut butter breath.
“I’m sorry, mom.”
“What are you sorry for, son?”
“For being an a-hole to you. For throwing a fit and having a bad attitude.”
“Thank you, buddy. What was that about anyway?”
“I was hungry.”
Heavy sigh and big hugs. He shed a few tears and so did I. I nearly allowed this moment in time to threaten to upend my confidence and commitment to this homeschooling journey. And all because he needed a peanut butter sandwich before he could learn. Or be a decent human being. But we will focus on the positive. He apologized to me without prompting, we hugged it out, and tomorrow will be a new day.
Speaking of tomorrow, it’s our first day of school! We will attempt to complete the pre-test exercises and finish packing for our traveling adventure. On day 2 of the 2020 school year, we are departing to follow the Lewis and Clark trail from the Washington coast to South Dakota and then circle back again. We have 3 weeks in the van and my mom will be joining us.
In the midst of his earlier reign or terror, my son had the wherewithal to say,
“If I act like this when Gigi is with us, she will probably slap my mouth.”
“Yes, she probably will. Better get it out of your system now, I guess.”
This trip is either going to be one of the most amazing times in our lives, or it has the potential to be a complete nightmare. Maybe it will be a mixture of both. Memorable, warm moments that touch your soul via your heart followed by intense feelings of sheer desperation to tuck and roll out of the moving vehicle.
One thing I know for sure. Out of everyone in the van, I am the only one who has been trained to do a PLF (parachute landing fall). I’m gonna be alright.
All by myself. Don’t wanna be all by myself anymore.
Here I am. On my own again. I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming but even so, I didn’t ask for it. And I certainly don’t want it. And yet, here I am.
I could take the easy way out and just find someone new. Quick and easy, no need to look too hard. Just find whoever is closest and available. Would they be good to me? Would they help me feel my best? Probably not. I have been down that road before. Desperation is never a good wingman.
And I have already waited this long… what’s it been? Almost 3 months already? Maybe I can just keep going. But I feel the need growing. I can SEE it every time I look in the mirror just staring back at me. I keep putting it off but I know I can’t wait much longer. I just don’t want to put myself back out there again. I don’t want to risk it. What if it all goes terribly wrong like it has before?
Can I really just do this on my own? Can I trust myself to know that I will be ok? Maybe I don’t need someone else after all. Or at least not for right now. I mean, it would be nice to have someone again someday.
This pandemic has made so many things more difficult in my life, so why should this be any different?
Still… I miss her. Her laugh. Her stories. She always knew what to say and she was such an amazing listener. We talked for hours and never ran out of things to share. She never cared how I looked walking in the door, she was just happy to see me. And I always left feeling more beautiful. Sexier. Classier. Brand new.
I knew the move was coming and that I would have to say goodbye. I knew the day would come when our time together would end. Three years goes by fast. But it didn’t make leaving any easier. Being on the other side of the country is just impossible. Some things you just can’t do through Zoom. Or you shouldn’t anyway.
Even so, I couldn’t help sending one last message this week:
Renee! I miss you. How are things in NY? WA is good. Just starting to feel settled. Hey, this may be weird to ask but can you recommend any drugstore hair color? I am not up for finding a new stylist right now but my roots are starting to kill me. Every time I look in the mirror, I miss you even more!! Lol. I don’t want to go dark but it may be the best way to go for now. I wish you were here!!
Ok, Garnier Nutrisse Level 6 Light Golden Brown, Renee told me you were the one. I need your nourishing color crème to work some magic. You say long lasting luscious color? Well, bring it on. You say brown sugar? Then give it to me. Give me some sugar.
Monday, August 3, 2020
That sounds dramatic and grandiose. But it is the honest truth… in soooo many ways.
Let’s take the last few months as an example. My family and I were living in a remote part of upstate New York until the later part of June… shout out to our Potsdam community! Our 3-year military contract was up and it was time for us to move back to WA State. My husband had secured a job in the National Guard, or at least we hoped that is what had happened. You learn as a long-term military family to never really fully count on anything until you are there. Even then, no guarantees.
As for me, I had been working as the director of a college counseling center at a small private university. What an amazing opportunity that had been but that meant that there was also no job waiting for me back in WA. I have been a mental health counselor for more than 12 years with my latest endeavor including a private therapy practice prior to our move east. I could certainly do that again but a little voice in the back of my mind kept telling me to wait and see. Be patient. Don’t rush to make a plan. As it turns out, these are all things that are NOT in my comfort zone. I am a planner and a doer.
But, you know what else is not in my comfort zone? Covid-19. And good luck planning your life out in this mess! There are a lot of things that we just don’t get to choose. “Shit happens” as the popular bumper sticker reminds us.
But, I have never been one to be content hanging out in my own shit (more on that later)… so when life gives you lemons, it’s time for a margarita! Or… that may be limes… but then that really doesn’t work with the analogy. Anyway, moving on.
I watch the news on a limited basis. Frankly, it messes with my mental health and so I have to put limits on it. But, I prefer to be informed and aware. I also have a really strong sense of intuition. The handwriting has been on the wall with this coronavirus for me. Covid-19 is going to rock our world. And even though I am one of the most positive and optimistic people you might meet, I am also realistic. I am not an alarmist or doomsday-er but false optimism doesn’t help anyone. I have felt certain for quite some time that there was really no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that schools would be reopening in the Fall. The email from our new school district a few weeks ago informing us of either remote learning or online school fort his Fall only confirmed my earlier intuition.
So… I can do a cross-country move in the middle of a global pandemic, reestablish our lives in a new house, find new doctors, dentists, schools, and all the thousands of other details that come along with moving… but adding in a new job that I would have to do from home with 2 active boys doing remote learning was literally the straw breaking my camelback.
Nope. Not gonna happen. Not gonna do it.
Speaking of camelback… I need to find mine. More on that later too.
And what about this remote learning? My kids had done the last 3+ months of the 2019 school year on a remote status and we had survived it. But there is more to our back-story that may help here.
While my kids may not represent “the norm," they are also not that atypical. I like to think of my oldest, who is now 13 years old, as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. A few years ago, we went through a pretty horrific period with his screen addiction. We first noticed problems when he was 8 years old. We were never big on small screens and tablets but I will own that it was nice to have some quiet time as adults with the kids occupied on screens, so we let them have an Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii. By age 11, we were in a full-blown nightmare complete with stealing, lying, sneaking, breaking and entering, stalking, therapy for him and me, and all the drama of a preteen boy with no emotional regulation. I became an IT prison warden in an attempt to still allow some access to technology but DAMN, these kids are good these days.
We have worked really hard to heal from that and I am proud and relieved to say that those memories almost feel like a distant bad dream. It meant that we didn’t have Internet to the house for a while. Let that sink in. No Internet. No TV. No video games. No smart phones… for anyone. We are not in that same place today but I will be damned if I am going back. And while my oldest is SOOOOO much better now, I can see some of those same signs in my youngest who just turned 9.
No, sir. We are NOT going there.
So now, we come back to present day and the idea that both of my kids should be doing all of their work on a tablet or laptop while we are quarantined in our house on top of each other. I will need to become the prison warden again standing over shoulders and making sure that “school time” is not turning into “playing online games time.” This sounds like a recipe for aggravation and depression. And I can say that, because I remember the stress from last spring.
Ok. So, if…
1. I am not going to get a job while the kids will be required to be home all day, e’ery day. (Lord, help me.)
2. The kids are not going to school for the foreseeable future.
3. We are fortunate and frugal enough to be able to live off of one income.
4. I am a glutton for a good challenge and adventure.
Welcome to homeschooling your children from the back of a Dodge Caravan by traveling the remote areas of our country and disperse camping along the way while dad stays home and holds down the fort. This is where my camelback reenters the story.
Seriously, WTF am I thinking? And… do I really have a choice? Of course I do! This is the point where I actually DO have a choice. And considering the alternatives, I would rather try this new life out.
Did I mention the emergency text message from the Guard saying there was a problem with my husband's paperwork that required a waiver to secure his position? We were in the middle of the Olympic National Park in a pretty remote area and were lucky to have received a cell signal for the 5 minutes that it took to have our financial security put back in limbo. It's all going to work out though. I think. (Insert uncomfortable laugh)
And this new life hasn’t been without its challenges already. Like remote toileting and showering. 2 out of the 3 adventurous spirits pictured above have already had the distinct pleasure of falling into their own poop out in the middle of the woods with only a travel shower to save their soul. Let’s just say that the one with the biggest smile was the only one exempt from that little learning experience.
So, yes… my life really is the shit. In this case, quite literally. Honestly, it was karma. I couldn’t even be mad about it. That's what I get for laughing and teasing my son so much for his misfortune. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they say. (Or fresh and warm in the middle of the woods with mosquitos swarming.)
Any who… with a start like this to our adventure, what could possibly go wrong? We will begin the homeschooling in September with a planned trip along the Lewis and Clark trail to South Dakota.
Pray for us. Wish us luck. Send help. And margaritas.
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Ok... so I saw this pillow at Big Lots yesterday and I was like, "This is my life! Obviously, I need to own the pillow." I will also admit to having a bit of a throw pillow problem, which is still much less destructive than say a prescription pill problem. I choose to focus on the positive.
Anywho... I am starting my blog by digressing to irrelevancies. Let me see if I can rein this in.
It has been a while since I have posted an article but since my life seems to be in a moment of pretty major upheaval, as I know most of yours probably are too, I figured now was as good of a time as any.
For those of you who know me, this will be a familiar review. And for those of you who may be new to my life... Welcome! This shit is about to get real. I will thank you in advance for having patience with me, excusing or embracing the occasional (or frequent) curse word, and looking to see where we can connect on the common trials, tribulations, joys, and successes that we will surely share along the way.
I will readily concede that there is a whole host of things that I know nothing about. Like how one can honestly enjoy black licorice. That is the devil's candy. But if there is one thing that I do know for sure, it's that I am not that unique. I mean, YES, ok... I may be different from many of you in how I approach my life, the decisions I make, the information that I choose to share in a public format, and perhaps my fashion choices. My son has been sure to tell me at least 4 times today that the dress I am wearing makes me look pregnant. "No offense." I said, "Why would I be offended? Pregnant women are awesome!"
At the end of the day, I truly believe that we are all just trying to figure out how to make a good life with the hand we were dealt and the future that we dare to dream up.
I will endeavor to be honest, transparent, real, and positive as I share with you the challenges and successes I face in my life as a woman, mother, wife, daughter, professional, and fellow human being. So let's have some introductions. I will start.
Hi everyone. My name is Aleta and I am an adrenaline junkie.
I never wanted to admit that before but I can see it more clearly with each passing day. I worked with a career counselor years ago as I attempted to make sense of my varied and seemingly disjointed professional path. When I told her that I had drastically changed my career and /or state of residence every 3 years for basically my entire life, she exclaimed, "Oh! You are a cliff dweller!" I was like, "Huh? Ummm... no, thank you.” Besides not knowing what the hell she meant, I am also afraid of heights, so that just didn’t seem to fit.
But, as it turns out, I do seek out the adrenaline of change and transition to push myself to grow and learn. And since that meeting, I have jumped out of 2 planes. I ALMOST peed myself that first time. But I didn't. So there. Take that heights!!
My need for change is pathological now that I really look at it. And 3 years seems to be the point when I start to get that familiar itch. No... not the one you are thinking of... Thank you, antibiotics... but rather the itch for a new job, cross country move, or opportunity. But one must be careful what one asks for. One just might get it!
We are a military family. I am a veteran and my husband is still serving our country through his military career of almost 24 years and running. We call Washington State our home but we also just spent 3 years in up-up-upstate New York. Think Canada... only more remote and arguably colder. It was an amazing experience and we were also thrilled to be able to move back "home" to Tacoma, WA. In the middle of a global pandemic. With no guaranteed jobs lined up. No house to return to either. Yes, my husband is a bit of a cliff dweller too.
So... this blog will be a place for me to share our beautiful chaos with you all. Our journey through Coronavirus land while raising 2 boys and a dog all while trying to maintain our health, a marriage, careers, sanity, and a sense of community. It will surely be messy, hopefully funny at times, hard and scary too, and also... beautiful.
This is my life, my family, and my journey. Beautiful chaos. It's time to embrace it.
P.S. Don't get too used to seeing that makeup, accessories, and hair. This is NOT my everyday look these days.