Jan 15, 2019

Dog, House

Our landlord is selling our house so our options are to buy the house or move on out. 
We are moving out.  While the house has been a great place for us, it is one windstorm away from blowing down.  The questionable electrical and plumbing systems along with 20 years of neglect make this property something we don't want to invest in
Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing the options of buying or renting again.  Buying is obviously a smarter investment than renting but we have better odds of getting into a house that we actually want if we rent. Such a conundrum. 
The market up here is so fickle.  Our house down in Olympia was on the market for a few days and we had two offers and a bidding war.  About 2 weeks after we were under contract the market stalled out. Super stall.  Think about driving a stick shift for the first time and you are at a stop sign on a hill and trying to start in third gear.  It is so frustrating that you get out in the middle of the intersection and make your dad drive.  Hypothetically of course.  A season goes by with houses sitting on the market for 3-4 months and then suddenly, the market is on the move again and the battle to buy one of the few houses begins.  
We have a few months to get out of the current home and into something new. In addition to all of the other things we are praying for in our family right now, housing is on the top of the list.  We finally took the plunge and put an offer on a house that my entire family fell in love with this past weekend.  It is meticulously updated and well cared for home in a great area and it even has a built-in dog door for our dog that we are dreaming about.  Matt and I barely finished praying over the house situation last night and we got a message saying that there would be no counter offers...the sellers accepted a full price offer from someone else.  We were shocked at how quickly God answered that prayer!  All of us were disappointed by the news.  Not only was I sad that this super clean, beautiful home wouldn't be ours, I was suddenly feeling loss over our imaginary dog that we can't get if we rent instead of buy.  No kidding, I'm equally sad about not getting THAT house as I am about not getting a dog.  Oh dear.  This dog thing is getting serious.
I recently read that wisdom is "the knowledge that some things are out of your control or that you need help in some area".  How true is that? Identifying that you don't know everything is actually the thing that makes you wise.  The only thing that is clear in our housing search at this point is that we have no idea what we need to do.  Cheers for being wise!

Jan 10, 2019

Prayer and Duct Tape

A month ago, almost to the day, I was confident I would never sleep again.

October and November were a blur of emails and calls from the school talking about our son's behavior, every time I turned around I found some bit of information pointing to some new misconduct he was involved in, lies were unending, and our home was filled with a fog of arguments, disrespect and tension.  When we weren't struggling with overwhelming issues with one kid, we were dealing with challenges with the other.  There was yelling, tantrums and fits of rage.  Hurtful words were daggers to these parent's hearts.
On one of these nights when a kid was throwing a fit, items in his room were ripped off walls, things were thrown across the room, and everything from hangers to parts of the wall were broken.  I tip-toed into the battle field the following day to assess the damage and my gaze settled a frame that had been shattered and lay in a pile on the ground.  The photo that had been in the frame now resembled Swiss cheese.  Apparently Matt's face had been remastered with a pair of scissors that lay nearby.
I held the photo in my hands and cried, I looked around the room and cried, I thought of the chaos that had overtaken my home and cried.  I was frustrated and weary.
In the early hours of a December morning, after chasing my kid through the neighborhood, I crawled into bed with tears in my eyes, panic in my heart and hopelessness in my mind.
I feared the worst: my child wouldn't fulfill his destiny because of his own poor choices,  the joy and laughter that has been a staple in our home was gone and I would never sleep peacefully again.

In Exodus 17 we read about the time that Joshua was fighting the Amalekites.  Moses stood on a hill and raised his staff.  As long as his hands were raised, Joshua was winning, when he grew tired and his arms lowered, the battle turned.  Aaron and Hur saw this and helped Moses out.  They gave him a stone to sit on and physically held up Moses' arms so that Joshua could defeat the Amalekites.

Like Moses, I have my own Aaron and Hur who have lifted my hands up when I couldn't do it myself.  I have slept peacefully, my family has shared laughter, we enjoyed a great vacation over Christmas break, I've seen changes in my kids and my hope of my boys' successful futures has returned. I know beyond a doubt that it is the prayers that have sustained me and made an impact on our family.

While putting laundry away in one of the boys' rooms tonight I noticed someone had picked up the picture that suffered under the wrath of anger and scissors.  It was sitting on the desk and all those holes that once pierced Matt's face were patched with duct tape.  The photo wasn't pretty but there was something beautiful about the effort taken to restore it.  These past few months haven't been pretty either, in fact they have been disastrous, but there is beauty in the repairs and hope that there will be more healing in the future.

Dec 19, 2018

I work with a student who is fairly smart but struggles with social skills.  Sometimes I think he operates on a loop with regards to social conversations.  He knows these few facts about people and he just keeps bringing them up, over, and over, and over.  Somehow he manages to talk about one thing and sporadically insert these facts or questions about other random things he knows into the conversation.
Every single time I see him he asks me how Eli is doing, he tells me Gabe is sometimes funny, and he asks about my AI car.  When we are together for longer periods of time he asks me about the cruise we went on last winter, how many cruises I have been on, and some other random things.  I think he asks questions he knows the answers to simply because he doesn’t know what else to talk about. He doesn’t only do this with me, he does it with anyone he has a relationship with.  I take him to an internship every week and every single week he goes through a series of comments and questions about the same things with his mentors.  “So your son won 1st in State for cross country, how long did you work on a cruise ship, so your son lives in Hawaii….”  He also has some obsession with making sure he doesn’t break some FCC rules or copyright rules while posting things on social media.  After hours of trying to talk through the legality of his choices I have given up and simply say “if you think it could be bad, then just don’t do it whether it is or not”.
I try to be patient but on the 50th time of him asking me if we are driving my AI car I just lost it.  “Yes.  It is the only car I drive.  It is the only car you have ever been in with me.  I will never drive another car with you.  The car will always be AI”.  To which he responded in his typical way “Oh cool”.  And then promptly asked me “how is Eli doing?”
As frustrated as I am with my own kids at times, especially now, when I sit with some of my students I take a deep breath and thank God for what he has blessed me with.  I am struggling with the choices my kids are making but the reality is, THEY ARE MAKING THESE CHOICES.  It isn’t a situation where they can’t be successful academically because of learning disabilities, where they can’t assimilate with peers because of a lack of social skills or they can’t think clearly or function normally because of some chronic physical or mental condition.  The fact that they are choosing something other than what is best for them for the long haul is hard, but on the other hand, I am thankful that my kids get to make their choices with full understanding and knowledge of what they are doing, not because they really don’t have the capacity.

Dec 18, 2018

These days the thoughts swirling around in my head go from fearing the worse about my kids to believing the best, mourning the trials to celebrating small victories, and feeling crushed in the moment to dreaming about the future.  I was talking to my sister the other day and broke down in tears over the current thought that was overwhelming me – I want a dog.
It is shocking, I know.
A few weeks ago I was at work and passed by a student who was standing in the hall with her Australian Shepherd puppy.  And I melted.  Actual, physical melted to the ground.  Once on the ground I sat there and the little fluffy guy crawled up on my lap and was being all puppy on me.  The stress that I was carrying and the anxiousness that was filling me up simply left me.
Since that moment, every time I think about a dog little tears fill my eyes and I desperately want to get one.  As I sit and think about the dog I imagine her welcoming me home, cuddling with me when I am stressed, going for walks with me so that people can quit giving me a hard time about hiking alone and I’m sold!! I imagine all my stress falling away and having some sweet bond with this little fluffy bundle of awesome.
Then…I picture that dog chewing up my Frye boots, peeing on my bed, costing me a fortune when she eats battery and can’t poop it out and keeping me home from travel opportunities because I can’t find a dog sitter.
Clearly, I’m conflicted.
Luckily, we aren’t allowed to have a dog in the rental so I haven’t impulsively acted upon that crazy desire to get a dog. However, that is about to change.  Our landlord is selling the house so we will be moving at some point this Spring.  When we buy our own house…I’ll be the landlord and I can decide whether or not dogs are allowed – hopefully I’ll be able to think rationally when the time comes.
We had a gospel choir at our church this past Sunday and I also decided I wanted to start going to a gospel church.  My mental stability is dodgy.