A season of breaking

I just had my sixth baby this past week. And it was quite the learning experience.

This entire past nine months has been a slow breaking process for me. I was so sick with morning sickness, then I just couldn’t do things I used to do, like long walks and fun outings with the kids. Finally, I could barely even walk. I’ve had to rely more and more on my family, because I couldn’t take care of everything myself.

I pride myself on doing everything. Having to be broken slowly has been very hard. It’s why I haven’t updated this blog, because I knew that all I’d do would be to whine. And who wants to read whiny blogs?

I was terrified of labor and delivery for the whole nine months. Surprise, labor and delivery wasn’t too bad. It was the postpartum hemorrhage that almost did me in. (And it was the doctor’s fault for the placental abruption, even though I begged him not to. Snarl.)

Here I am, four days later, and I still get shaky from the blood loss if I move around too much. So I sit. And nurse the baby. And have to let other people take care of things. This is very hard for me.

But it’s made me rely on God more, which I suppose was the whole point. His strength is made perfect in my weakness, after all. But having my pride beaten down has been so hard. And humiliating. I suppose I needed it, though.

Anyway, I’ll be back to creating things again … soon. Whenever soon might be. :-p

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The misery of E. Coli

I’ve just come out of two solid weeks of toddlers with E. Coli infections. Misery barely beings to describe it.

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Cute plush diseases from ThinkGeek

On Memorial Day, there was a huge party down at our apartment pool. We avoided it. The next day, I thought we were safe, so we went traipsing down to the pool. Turns out there was a more informal party going on with almost as many people.

Against my better judgment, I let the kids swim anyway. We were already there and ready to go, and I hate going back on a promise I’ve made. So they swam in the pool where a lot of other people had been. The kiddy pool, in particular, smelled funny.

A few days later, E. Coli hit.

It nailed my two-year-old first. Fever, going at both ends, stomach cramps, the works. I thought it was a normal stomach bug, which usually only lasts 24 hours. Boy, was I wrong.

One day turned into two, then three, then four. I had a hard time just getting fluids into her, let alone keeping food down. But slowly she pulled out of it, and the stomach cramps subsided.

Then it hit my four-year-old. I found out later that she had actually drank the nasty pool water.

She got hugely, massively sick. Five days of fever and vomiting. Debilitating stomach cramps that left her crying.

By this time I had tumbled to the fact that this was probably E. Coli. I frantically researched what you do for it.

Turns out, there’s nothing you can do. Zero. Zilch. Because of the way it attaches to the intestinal wall, taking antibiotics only kills the good bacterial keeping it from spreading. Which makes the E. Coli spread faster, injecting more toxins and finally shutting down your kidneys. It’s a nasty beast. Mayoclinic’s website advises rest and fluids. That’s it.

But reading about the way E. Coli attaches to the intestinal wall reminded me of things I’d read about probiotics. When they have E. Coli outbreaks in restaurants or from produce, not everybody gets sick. The reason is because in some people, because of diet and other care, the good bacteria in their gut occupies every square millimeter of space. There’s no place for the E. Coli to attach.

So I started researching probiotics as a treatment for E. Coli. Turns out, a few years ago, there was a huge outbreak in Europe. The doctors there desperately researched probiotics, to the point of engineering a certain strain specifically targeted at blocking E. Coli.

There was no way my four-year-old could choke down a probiotic tablet. But she could drink a little kombucha.

Kombucha is a type of fermented tea. The yeasts and bacteria in it are the good kind that your gut needs to digest food. Our grocery store carries a high quality brand. The kind I’ve found most effective in healing a damaged gut is the kind with blue-green algae in it. It looks horrifying, but it tastes pretty good.

So I got two bottles and spent a whole day giving her sips through a straw. She would drink until the cramps started, then she would go to sleep. When she’d wake up, she’d drink a little more and sleep again. Her vomiting slowed down, but the cramps were so bad that if she moved around, they forced her to vomit again.

It was awful. I was exhausted. But the morning after the kombucha day, she woke up with no cramps, asking for food.

So now we’re all recovering, myself included. This has been such a beating. E. Coli is miserable, miserable stuff. But man, probiotics are a miracle. I hope our awful experience is helpful to other sufferers out there.

It was the best of vacations, it was the worst of vacations

We’d been planning a trip to the beach in San Diego for six months. We meticulously saved up for it, planned everything, and were going to have a great time.

Monday morning, the day of our trip, my husband woke up and said, “I just had the weirdest dream.”

He dreamed that he was in his college dorm, getting ready to go home. But he looked down and realized that the floor was covered in hair trimmings, like from a barber shop. Then he realized the floor was wet, too. Behind his computer, on the floor, was a crack in the wall with water pouring through. So he was trying to save his computer from the water, and things were getting worse and worse. In the dream, he said, “God, make this stop!” And everything went back to normal. No water. No dirty floor.

I said, “Huh, that is a weird dream.”

And we went on our merry way, packing the kids and the luggage into the car and taking off on the six hour drive from Tucson to San Diego.

Just outside of Yuma, our air conditioning condenser died and took the power steering with it.

Words can’t describe the terror at that rest stop. We got in the car, which started just fine. But as soon as Ryan turned the wheel, the car lurched and died. Having worked on cars before, it took him ten seconds to realize that the dead power steering was trying to draw too much power and making the car die. So he revved the engine and we blasted out of the rest stop. Once we got up to speed, the steering handled … all right … but the car was making a funny helicopter noise.

I was all for turning around, going home, and canceling the trip. But Ryan insisted that the car would get us there, so we grimly pressed on.

With no AC.

Through the desert. In May. During a heatwave.

I was unaware that between Yuma and El Centro lies a strange wasteland called the Dunes.

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It’s only a couple of miles long, but in the growing heat inside the car, it might as well have been the Sahara.

We kept the windows down, drank iced water and sodas, and grimly counted the miles until the mountains between the desert and San Diego. We knew that although the desert was 102 degrees, San Diego was 70, so there would eventually be a cooldown if we could just get there.

Long story short, we did get there. The car handled just fine over the mountains, and the higher we climbed, the more beautifully cool the air became. Descending the last pass into the marine air was a wonderful experience.

We checked into our hotel without a hitch, although the car wanted to lurch and die any time we turned into a parking space at low power. We hauled our stuff into our room (which was very nice, and they upgraded us to a nicer room at no charge), and Ryan set about hunting for a mechanic who could fix the car in one day.

After the heat of the desert, San Diego was almost too cold for us. The kids got into their beds, just because they could, and played gameboys. Hey, it was vacation, after all.

Ryan found a mechanic six minutes away, and first thing the next morning, fought the car down there. The air condenser and the power steering are on the same belt in our car, so when one breaks, it has a good chance of taking out the other. They fixed it, and thankfully, the crazy high price tag came with financing.

That took a whole day. The kids and I explored the area around the hotel in the meantime.

There was a very pretty vacant lot nearby that was full of wildflowers. The kids were enthralled.

The next day, we had the car back, and it ran beautifully. So we went to the beach.

You know, we had VACATION like we had planned. It was very pleasant and the kids got soaked, but hey, that’s what you do at the beach.

The drive home was no big deal with air conditioning. Oh, air conditioning, you blessed machine! And it was even hotter outside, with a  high wind. And we passed a fiercely burning fire in Yuma.

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But we made it home unscathed, and very tired of vacation.

So, it was a nice vacation … and it was a horrible vacation, depending on how you look at it. Most weirdly, it followed Ryan’s dream exactly. I think that was the freakiest thing of all.

Confession: I’m a faker

When I was fresh out of college and needed a job, I took a position as junior art teacher, working for another art teacher I had studied under for years. I was nervous. Jittery. Inclined to talk too much.

“Remember,” my boss told me, “people don’t know this is your first day unless you tell them.”

This was a staggering revelation to me. How could people not tell that I was a freaking noob with no job experience who was scared out of my mind? So I smiled and I worked and I faked it. And you know, nobody knew I was faking it. They thought I knew what I was doing, and treated me like a professional.

It was a lesson I proceeded to apply to everything in life.

Don’t know anything about raising kids?

FAKE IT.

Don’t know anything about writing books?

FAKE IT.

Don’t know anything about publishing or marketing?

FAKE IT.

I heard a story one time about an AA group, where the members were told to pick a religion. One of the addicts asked what would happen if they didn’t believe in anything. The leader told them, “Fake it ’til you make it.”

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Mimikry by Merinid-DE. One of these things is not like the others …

I think it ties into Imposter Syndrome. Everybody has it. I think it was John Maxwell who says that every CEO has this secret fear that their second grade teacher will run into the room and yell, “He’s an imposter! He failed spelling!”

If you talk to me, you’d think I’m a calm, collected person who has her life together. You don’t see the inside of my head where I’m screaming, “Oh my gosh, what do I say? Am I coming off as a complete dork? Are my kids embarrassing? Did they read my books and did they notice that dangling participle I left in chapter 3?”

I’m really bad about this when streaming with my hubby. Get a camera pointed at me and I turn into a complete clown. I’m cracking jokes and being silly and making fun of the game we’re playing. Inside, I’m just one continuous AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH.

Eventually, I do wind up knowing what I’m doing with writing, or publishing (haha, it changes so fast, though).  Jury’s still out on raising kids. But faking it is better than being paralyzed and doing nothing at all. Because that’s pretty much the alternative. Sit where you are … or pretend you know what you’re doing, and move forward.

 

Resolutions for 2017

Or less resolutions and more like my bucket list of things to do this year.

First up: how did things go last year?

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Outer Frontiers by Emilie Leger

Last year in January I had a 2-month-old baby. I meant to do one of these posts, but never actually did. My word for last year was “smile”. When you have a new baby, you have to smile at them a lot to teach them how to do it. I hadn’t smiled in so long, my face muscles had almost forgotten how. The kids kept asking, “Why are you smiling so much?” It made for a nicer atmosphere in our house, just me smiling even when I didn’t feel like it.

Last year kicked my butt. Between having a new baby, getting harassed by CPS (oh noes you let you kids play outside!), and having to move suddenly in October, it was a grueling, stressful year. Not to mention all the election garbage that saturated social media. Blah. Barf. I’m glad that’s over with.

I did manage to publish Werefox in March, and the fourth Spacetime book in June. I revised the next two Malevolent books, but didn’t quite manage to release book 2 in 2016. I just got the edits back this week and I’m hoping for a February release. I can even do a cover reveal in a few weeks. Yay!

So for 2017, here’s the lineup:

  1. Publish books 2 and 3 of Malevolent

2. Edit/publish my dragon cozy mystery, Takes the Drake (think the Dresden Files, only fluffier, with ice cream).

3. Write the fifth Spacetime book, which will end Series 1. Not sure if I can write/publish it in 2017, but it’s worth a shot.

4. My hubby and I are starting to stream gaming together on our Beam channel Chronostrider Gaming. Eventually we plan to do it every weekend, and we’re planning to play every two-player co-op we can think of.

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Landscape by HughEbdy

My oldest child will turn 10 this year. School is going to change gears into a heavier workload for him, I think. Right now we’ve sort of slipped into unschooling (moving right before the holidays seriously disorganized me), but we’ll be heading back into more structured school here in the new year. Gotta get these kids writing more. Their reading and math skills are great, but writing, not so much. That will go along with their science/history/book reports.

Ah, book reports. I’m making them do reports in the format of Amazon reviews. So far my two oldest kids have successfully sold each other on various books, with Twisted (a book about were-tornados) being the latest hit. We’re also reading the Saturdays aloud, with plans to read the entire Melendy series.

I’m also trying to learn how to use Daz3D to create artwork. So far it’s been fairly easy to learn posting and lighting … now I just have to learn to incorporate it into a larger artwork.

So that’s my very general agenda for the next year. As this past year has showed me, I really have no idea what sort of things might happen. What I’m most thankful for is that my relationship with my husband is thriving. After all the anguish of last year, playing games together again has bonded us in such a wonderful way. If I get nothing else done this year, our improved relationship will have been worth it.

Thankful for birthdays

Thanksgiving is this week, and I’m so thankful to be here, now, than last month, packing to move and cleaning like crazy.

The two youngest have their birthdays this week. Of course, cupcakes were in order, and we had them right after dinner.

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After a capital burger dinner, daddy lights up three cupcake candles.

 

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Blowing out the candles!

 

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Fat baby who turns 1 this week!

So many good things have happened that I’m thankful for. We’ve moved to a beautiful city. We have more room. My hubby is getting lots of hours, and he likes his co-workers. (That’s a big one.) I’m just thankful that we can go into the holidays without worrying about where we’re going to live. God has taken such good care of us.

How I fail at awesome adulting

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to start playing games with my husband again. Videogames, board games, card games. We met and bonded over our shared love of games, but as the babies have kept coming, I haven’t got to play them much.

We started off with Tiny Epic Galaxies, which I enjoyed very much. But he has lots more games that I don’t know anything about.

As I have been thinking how far behind I am with new releases and games, I ran across these articles about awesome adulting. Or what happens when you’ve poured so much of yourself into your family that you have no individuality left. No likes or dislikes. No favorite places or hobbies. The articles are about how reclaiming that part of yourself can enrich your family, not subtract from it.

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Lion by Youchenghong

So I started thinking. When it comes to games, I haven’t let myself play much of anything in about seven years. I get a month of World of Warcraft now and then. I played some Stardew Valley with the kids. I play Pokemon sometimes. But that’s been it. Mostly I watch other people play games. I have no likes or dislikes, no opinions. Only fading memories of games that I used to enjoy.

When I told my husband this, he was overjoyed that I want to rediscover this. In particular, he was happy that I need him to help me. I hadn’t realized how that whole aspect of our relationship had been shut down. It’s kind of sad.

I did start running a little premade Dungeons and Dragons campaign for the kids, with premade characters. Right now they’re solving a murder mystery, and loving it. But I still want to play with my husband, too.

I wrote this much of the blog at the end of September. Then we got our notice that we had to move. Here I am, six weeks later, moved, and I still want to learn to adult awesomely. I’m trying to play games, trying to write, trying to draw, trying to do the things that not only give me joy, but enrich others, too. As Donna Otto says, my first ministry is to my husband. That means games.

I think that will be my goal for 2017. As we head into the end of 2016, it’s a good time to think about these things.

What about you? Do you adult awesomely? Or are you like me, and pretty much struggling to keep your head above water?

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Close to Heaven by AlviaAlcedo

Gone in 30 days

So I didn’t blog for most of October. A few astute friends knew that we were moving under short notice. Well, here’s the story:

We’ve lived in an apartment in Phoenix, Arizona for three years. Our lease came up for renewal in September. We signed a new one and went about our business.

Then the last week in September, we found a notice on our door. It went something like this.

“Your lease has been declined because you are over occupancy.” (I’d had a baby last year.) “You have until October 30th to GTFO. Have a nice day.”

After the initial panic died down, we sighed and figured it was a good thing. We had five kids in a two-bedroom apartment. We really did need to move up to a three-bedroom.

We started hunting. And we found that the housing situation in Phoenix is a joke. So many people want to live there, and they’re willing to pay anything to do it, that most apartments are either super expensive or have years-long waiting lists.

While my hubby has a good job, he doesn’t quite make as much as the apartments want. We hit this wall over and over. A realtor finally gave us a list of low-income apartments to try.

Talk about a low point. I looked them all up. With the exception of two (which had massive waiting lists), low income housing is packed into a single giant tenement building. Very little landscaping. Just a big ugly box to cram as many people into as possible.

I have five kids, all of whom like to play outside. Living in a place like that would be a prison sentence for all of us. Not to mention the waiting lists.

We despaired. I cried a lot. We prayed desperately. And suddenly a thought popped into Ryan’s head: why not try Tucson?

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Mount Lemmon panoramic from Wikimedia Commons

We started hunting apartments in Tucson. It’s not having quite as much of a boom as Phoenix is, and the income requirement wasn’t quite as high. We found a 3-bedroom pretty quickly, and with some mathematical shenanigans, managed to make the numbers work so they would let us in.

We drove down a couple of times, and each time we liked Tuscon better. Ryan has lived there a few times, and took us around to some of his old haunts. We also took the kids to a park with a man made lake and let them throw food to the ducks. The mountains are gorgeous. It was like balm to my soul to look at mountains and water again. I’m from CA and have missed both.

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Mount Lemon Sky Island Parkway from Wikimedia Commons

We began packing and cleaning and donating stuff we never use.

Among other things, the ceiling in our bathroom fell in and had to be fixed. During intensive packing. Yeah, that was fun.

Then we rented the truck and started loading.

We had planned to load the truck in a day, drive to Tuscon, and unload in a day. In reality, it took us two days to load and two days to unload. It was just Ryan, me, and the kids. While the kids helped when they could, they’re simply not capable of hauling around boxes and furniture.

On the second day of loading the truck, we had planned to be packed and on the road by noon. The new place’s office closed at 5 PM, and we had to be there in time to get the keys.

Noon came and went. Then one. Then two. We worked harder and harder, and our stuff seemed to multiply. Why do we have so much junk, anyway?

At three, we decided that cleaning the apartment could wait until the next day or so. We hurled the last few things into the truck and high-tailed it out of there at 3:15.

It’s a two-hour drive from Phoenix to Tuscon. We screamed down there in the truck and car. Ryan had called the office and left a message to say that we were running late, and could they wait for us. So we came screeching into the parking lot at 5:30. Thank heavens, the manager was still in the office, though she was ready to leave. We got the keys. We got into our brand new apartment.

And it was too dark to unpack anything. For example, beds.

We bought a Papa John’s pizza to bake in our new oven for dinner. But we didn’t have any plates or forks to eat it with. I pulled it out of the oven with two shirts wrapped around my hands. I had a box cutter in my pocket from packing. It cut pizza all right. I also cut chunks from the cardboard plate beneath it to use as makeshift plates. We turned over a box to use as a table.

Then we (attempted) to sleep on the floor. It was a strange, uncomfortable night.

The next day, we were so tired from loading stuff the day before, as well as not sleeping, that we only managed to unload half the truck. We were assembling beds at 7 PM. That night we actually slept.

The next day Ryan went back to Phoenix to clean the old apartment, finish paperwork, and turn in the keys. I was faced with the daunting task of unloading the rest of the truck by myself.

I had been reading the Song of the Summer King books to the kids. That morning, I told them that we must become Nameless if we were going to finish the job–just like how Shard the griffin made the long flight over the sea on the advice of an albatross.


“Now this.” Windwalker looked forward again, and Shard watched him. “This long flight, my lord, comes at a price. You cannot think. You cannot think, ‘Oh, how tired I am.’”

Windwalker stretched his wings, then settled them into a glide again, and Shard imitated him. Stars rippled above and the moon bathed them and the top of the storm clouds in silver.

“You cannot think, ‘Oh, how far I have to go.’ You cannot think at all. For this long flight, you must give up yourself. To journey across the windward sea, you must let go of your name, and become part of the sky.”

“My name?”

“But it will come back to you. In time. Son of Tyr and Tor. You cannot truly forget, you who parted the storm, and named me. I don’t think you can forget.”

“You don’t think? But are you sure?” Shard had forgotten himself once, briefly, after almost drowning in the sea. Witless, he had climbed to safety on pure instinct, and woken to remember himself just before meeting Stigr for the first time.

“Trust you will remember. Too many thoughts will weaken you. You must be a bit of wind and sky, like me.” Windwalker stared ahead, unconcerned. Shard watched him, breathless fear crawling forward. “Remember only to follow me, brother of the sky. Remember only that.”

“You are wind,” Windwalker intoned. “You are feather and bone, and hunger, and thirst. And wind.”

Shard focused on his feathers, loosing a breath. I am wind. I am feather and bone.

I am wind. Feather and bone.

Wind. Feather. Bone.

Flight and blood and bone. Anything else is death.

Hunger, thirst and hunt.

Flight, feather and wind was life.

Blood. Feather.

And wind.


I had that stinking truck unloaded by noon. So it worked.

Then I had to unpack a mountain of boxes in order to make room for furniture. I’m a bit OCD–I like everything neatly in its place. The chaos of moving is torture for me.

Ryan completed everything on his end, and we unpacked for two days. I didn’t do anything else–I just unpacked for hours on end.

Once everything was done and arranged, I was so tired that all I could do was sit in a chair and stare. “It’s Nanowrimo!” the Internet exclaimed. “Also the election is nuts! Did you hear the latest?”

I sort of stared at the Internet without caring. We just came through our own personal apocalypse. I don’t have the energy to care about big scary things. I barely have the strength to cook dinner and sweep the floor.

So that’s where I vanished to for the entire month of October. Hopefully life and regular blogging will resume now.

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Mount Lemmon: butterfly trail via Wikimedia Commons

Why abstinence (from Facebook) is great

Every so often I do a goal assessment and figure out how I’m doing on stuff. That sounds totally organized, but it’s not.

School started Monday. If anything kicks my butt into gear regarding organization, it’s school. Not only am I homeschooling my oldest four, but I’m watching another child for the first three weeks of August. He’s also doing school with us. That means that if I want to get anything accomplished, I’ve got to watch my time management. I’m talking micro-managing-Rollercoaster-Tycoon levels of management.

As always, when I’m accessing how I spend my time, I keep track of everything I do over a couple of days. The self-help books say to write things down. I just stay aware of what I’m doing in the bits and pieces of extra time I have–nursing the baby, folding laundry, waiting for people to do their math, playtime after lunch when the kids are occupied, etc.

Guess what I do in those bits of time!

I read Facebook.

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Exclusively. If there’s a blog linked on Facebook, I’ll read it. If there’s news on Facebook, I’ll read it. If there’s a video on Facebook, I’ll watch it. Facebook Facebook Facebook. I’d check it when I woke up in the morning and the last thing at night.

More specifically, on Facebook, I scroll through the same statuses, videos and meme pics over and over and over. Every so often somebody would post something new, but not as often as I was looking for it. Oh, and you know this election circus that’s going on? Yeah, I’ve been all stressed out and upset about that.

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My hubby had a couple of weeks where he worked some really late evenings. To keep myself awake while waiting for him, I’d listen to Donna Otto’s podcast Homemakers By Choice. One of the things that Donna suggests is to read Facebook 10 minutes a day. Set a timer. She said that it works just fine for her.

Facebook in 10 minutes a day! I thought. Imagine how much time I’d have for writing!

So I made a deal with myself. Facebook was only for the evenings. If I had time to sit and mess with the internet, then I had the time to write. Period. So any time I picked up my ipod, I was obligated to write a couple of paragraphs.

That was two weeks ago. Today I finished the first draft of my fun little dragon cozy mystery. I immediately dove in to revising the second Malevolent book, Malcontent. And we’re not talking large slabs of time, here. This is ten minutes here and there throughout the day. It helps that I just love these stories.

Only reading Facebook once a day means that everybody’s statuses and jokes are a lot more fun to read. I have time to read everything that was posted over the course of the day, including all the horrendous political news. But you know, it’s a lot easier to take when it’s only a few minutes out of the day.

My stress levels dropped. My daily word count skyrocketed. (A whopping 800 words a day! But since I was previously doing something like 800 words a week, it’s improvement.)

So that’s been my experiment in dialing back my social media consumption. I’d rather produce something of value than fill my brain with dumb meme pics that I won’t remember tomorrow.

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Chronic comparisonitis (writing and homeschooling)

Kids learn by comparison. They learn to walk, and talk, and use a fork by watching their parents. As a child grows older, they learn to read and dress themselves and drink soda (or kombucha) and eat steak (or chitlins) and watch football (or Doctor Who).

This is just how human beings are wired. We learn by comparing ourselves to others. We pit ourselves against other people, against animals, against the environment, against the stars, in our struggle for mastery and knowledge. This is one of our great strengths as a species.

It’s also one of our downfalls.

The Realm Makers writer’s conference is this weekend. It’s been out of the question for me for the past few years, but I still watch wistfully from the sidelines as all my friends get together for what amounts to a retreat. There’s fantastic teaching. There’s costumes. There’s a nerf battle.

It got me thinking about the way we writers compare ourselves to each other. The trouble is, being a writer is like rally racing. You don’t race the other drivers. You race your own best time. On the surface, we know that. But underneath, our nature is urging us to look at other authors’ writing, or their sales, or the size of their Twitter following, and wonder why ours isn’t so good.

Now, if we take it as an opportunity to learn, then comparison is fine. Everybody needs better tools and techniques–its how you grow. But so often we use it to feed our envy and pride.

I’ve been reading a stack of homeschooling books from the 90s in preparation for this school year. Every time I read one, I get monstrously discouraged. Finally I asked my mom about them, since this was the way her generation thought. These books trumpet the same things:

  • Have as many children as humanly possible (the Quiverfull movement)
  • Homeschooling is the Path of Righteousness
  • Mary Pride says that working outside the home is bad (see The Way Home)
  • Embrace the chaos!
  • We’ll make the colleges accept us!
  • Extra-curricular activities!
  • Socialization!
  • Be more! Do more! Check your blood pressure!

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I grew up in that school of thought, and I don’t like it. Comparing myself to that, I’m the biggest underachiever on the face of the earth. I don’t want as many kids as humanly possible–five is about as many as I can manage. Homeschooling works for our family, but it’s not for everyone. Working outside the home is necessary for survival (especially if you’re a single parent).

Mom pointed out that there were women who killed themselves and their kids because they couldn’t measure up to these teachings. The Quiverfull movement is horrible and is being taken apart for the cult that it is. Too much comparison. Too much groupthink.

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Tigers at the zoo enjoying frozen meat popsicles. They were more comfortable than the humans. It was like 110 that day.
zootrip2-splashpad
Best part of a hot day at the zoo–the splash pad.

So I look around to see what my generation is talking about in homeschooling. The big deal for us is special needs. Autism, ADHD, Aspergers, everything that can go wrong with a child’s brain. There’s a big move toward simplicity–in learning and living. People still have lots of kids, but it’s not the virtue that it once was. Instead of magazines, there’s blogs and bloggers. Many of the modern homeschoolers were homeschooled as kids, but not all. It’s a movement that has grown beyond Christians and into mainstream. (There’s homeschoolers who … GASP … aren’t Christians!)

So I’ve been grappling with not only comparing myself to others, but the clear outcome of groupthink. I have at my fingertips the thinking of twenty years ago, and the results. All I have to do is look around at my peers. In particular, the adults at Realm Makers who as kids were denied fantasy and science fiction. As backlash, they’re walking around in costume and quoting Star Wars.

I guess what I’m seeing is that life has to be about balance. Protect your kids, but not to the extreme of never letting them glimpse real life. Let them read Narnia, but let them read Harry Potter, too. (As kids fantasy goes, Harry Potter is absolutely benign. Christians scream about it, but nobody ever dissects the weirdness in Madeline L’Engle or the So You Want To Be A Wizard series.)

So I’m going to continue with my simplistic approach to homeschooling. I’m going to read aloud Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, Wheel on the School, and the Magic Thief.

As John Taylor Gatto points out, every teen is taught to drive a car. It’s a hugely complex task that, if done poorly, results in DEATH. But every teen is taught to drive within a couple of weeks, and they will successfully perform it for their whole lives. Why must math or grammar be any different? They’re just tools to perform a task. In real life, if you don’t know the equation to calculate the diameter of a circle, you look it up. But knowing how to look things up, and where, is the trick.