Corny Things

With the playgrounds closed, the only thing there is to do lately is to go on walks, hikes, or bike rides. (Or bake). I love to cook and bake as much as the next person, but I can only eat so much sourdough bread. I started painting rocks. I thought it might bring a smile or giggle to kiddos out and about. Multiplied by no parks, stay at home orders, etc., it seemed like a fun way to help get out the stir crazies. Beginning in March, it was a way to fill some time, be creative and get outside a bit.

I remember seeing cute little lady bug rocks out at my favorite trail – they’ve been there for years. The minions and I gathered up some good rocks at the beach and we started painting. One kid painted one, the other kid painting a few but lost interest. I however fell in love with it and have continued on painting little random images onto rocks and hiding them around our neighborhood. Many were inspired by the internet.

Some are better than others. A few are left in our own flower beds. Most I paint and then hide in random trees or by community mailboxes.

I love a good pun, much to my kids’ disgust. I love showing them my latest and them groaning and rolling their eyes at how corny their mother is. “Oh mom!” I don’t even care. It’s funny punny.

Our community has a Facebook group page and people started posting the found rocks with their kids’ smiling faces. My daughter was irritated that I didn’t speak up and post that it was our rocks that were found. “That’s part of the fun – not knowing who is doing it!” I explained. She disagreed. Oh well.

While out walking the dogs the latest artistic creation in one particular tree in front of a house that I know has a couple of littles. I quickly made my deposit last week and I hear the door swing open and I walked quickly away. A window slid open and the mom I regularly wave to as we drive by called out to me.

“He saw you! I couldn’t stop him!” I laughed and agreed that I was in fact busted. “Are you the one that has been painting these rocks?” She asked me. I smiled and said yes, it was me, but that I’d found some in my walks that were not ours – that others had started painting and hiding, too! She said she loved them and it gave them something to look forward to on their walks.

Today as I was finishing up painting a fresh batch, the hubby walked in holding a gift bag. Curious I asked him what it was.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “It was on the porch.” I opened it up and found a card and some acrylic paint pens!

I got teary as I read the card. I remember how hard deployment was with littles under normal circumstances, but with COVID19 on top of it, playgrounds unavailable, stay at home orders – Groundhog Day is likely an understatement. Painting these tiny canvases has been a fun escape but has reminded me of the importance of community. While we may be socially distancing, we still need each other. People need people.

And maybe just a little splash of art.

What COVID19 is Revealing

On the phone while walking the dogs, my mom and I chatted about, what else? The virus. We were remarking on things we’d been seeing, hearing on the news, and from friends. Between poop pickups and her calling her dog, we had one of many of our “solving the world’s problems” chats.

“I wish more people would take this seriously and stay home,” she said. We both lamented the spring breakers in Florida (not to mention Miami’s local authorities) and community members still acting as though life is just normal, continuing on with routines and activities. We considered the words of local government officials. We recounted the measures we are both taking. Those with compromised immune systems as well as people over 60 are most at risk. Both of my parents fall into this category, as well as some other complicating factors for my father.

After we said our goodbyes, I kept thinking about some of the things we’d discussed. Our respective counties have the highest number of cases in Washington outside of Seattle. It’s not as if this is some far away issue that “others” are having to deal with. It’s local. A friend of my husband just passed. No one thinks it can happen to them, until it does. But it got me to thinking about what this quarantine has brought out in us. 

All of us.

For one, greed with a capital G. One look at grocery store shelves show just how much people are hoarding. Toilet paper is not going to prevent the spread of a virus, people! There is also not a food shortage. Leave some for the next guy. 

I’ve heard it said that “people are 1 missed paycheck away from being homeless.” (Yes, people live paycheck to paycheck. Yes there are financial issues and health care costs, and childcare costs, mental health issues, job losses or other reasons that contribute to a dire situation. Those very real scenarios are not what I’m discussing here. ) What I’m talking about is the continual mindset of living for the now. This is more than just finances. Yes, people should be saving for that rainy day. That’s life – the rain is going to come. Put a little away. But it also goes for basics, like eating. There are so many people that simply do not know how to cook, it’s frightening. I have heard people complain that they are petrified about how to feed their family if the restaurants do not offer take out. WHAT?! No, I’m not saying everyone should be a chef and love cooking, but knowing how shop for, plan and prepare a meal is a literal survival skill. We have to eat.

Our current culture chases and worships busy. It’s a badge of honor to just not have any time because our calendars are filled with busy. Appointments, celebrations, work, extra curricular activities, playdates, get togethers, holidays, school functions, church,  Go, go, go until we fall into bed staring into our phones stuck to our palms, distracting us into unconsciousness. This time of social distancing and isolation is bringing up stuff that we’ve spent time and money avoiding: being with ourselves. We either busy it out or numb it up. Drinking, smoking, shopping, gambling, working to excess, spending too much time on social media or in front of screens. Busy and numb to avoid the quiet; to avoid the whatever it is that we cannot stand to sit with. 

Try it. Seriously. Try just sitting and praying, meditating or simply being quiet for 5 minutes. It’s harder than it sounds. Thoughts will distract you and you’ll have urge after urge to get up and go do something. Check the phone. Wonder what’s streaming. Look at social media. Wonder what the kids are doing. Hear a noise. Make a list. Anything. Even laundry. Something to avoid just being. We have the hardest time sitting in the uncomfortable and staying there. Taking away the obligation of busy is revealing our inability to just be.

For sure the anxiety is at a high. You can feel it in the tight lipped smiles of others as you walk by, respecting the 6 foot social distance. Our kids are picking up on our tightness. They are cooped up and anxious, as they overhear news reports. (My daughter is currently a stage 5 cling on, barely letting me leave the room. I get it.) Every time you turn the corner in the grocery and see yet another bare shelf it ratchets up the anxiety and anger another notch. Anger is being lashed out on retail employees and others who have zero control of supply. Fear and anxiety are as contagious as the virus itself (if not more so). People are still downplaying the situation citing that “it’s only the flu” or “it’ll pass, the media is making a bigger deal out of this than it should”. Downplaying escalating cases and deaths world wide scream fear. Fear seeks to minimize and downplay any danger because it is a situation over which we have very little control. Fear and anxiety are certainly real. 

Yet….through all of this, it’s revealing other things, too. 

We are being shown that sometimes less is more. I have seen more people out in their backyards playing with their kids, walking their dogs, going for runs and walks, riding bikes and just being together.

Covid19 is giving us a gift of community. Yes, at a social distance, but community nonetheless. I smiled as I walked the dogs, looking for shamrocks hung in windows of our neighbors’ homes for St. Patrick’s Day. The latest effort has been to “Chalk the Walk” and spread a little joy for others to find as families (separately) take a stroll around the neighborhood.fullsizeoutput_195e

We are wired for connection and this separation is hard for all of us. If anything, this experience is teaching us that we need one another. Perhaps more than we thought. People are offering to grab things for others at the store and leaving it on their doorstep to avoid contact. People are asking for the proverbial cup of sugar and others are delivering. We need each other, and we are showing up.

A friend of mine posted a request for songs that fit current events. Suggestions in every genre came in. I was inspired to create my own playlist as a “music as therapy” session. I laughed with friends’ suggestions (and my own, honestly) that were dark and inappropriate, but still hilarious. Humor in dark times. We need that. Like Dolly Parton says in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

We are given this precious gift of time. The days feel long. “I need a snack” and “I’m bored” are being heard in equal measure. My kids are sleeping hard because they are getting more activity. We are making a conscious effort to ensure it. We make time for what we prioritize. Take away all the excess busy, and we have a whole bunch of time to do the things we say we’ll do “someday”.

Someday has arrived.

February Ho-hum into March Mania

Saved in drafts on February 29, 2020:

I read on a blog somewhere that February is the month that all homeschoolers want to throw in the towel. I get that big time. I still love it, speaking globally, but man the day to day is rough lately.

My students are trying to get over a cold, the news is spouting fear about Coronavirus, and crazy shoppers are lined up around the commissary to stock up on Lysol, toilet paper and antibacterial soap in the event we should have a quarantine. Not quite sure why people aren’t washing their hands like they should already be washing their hands, but well, I digress. One guy even had 5 gallons of Clorox in his cart for good measure. (Insert face-palm emoji here.)

Cut to March 19, 2020

Wow. Now they are only letting 50 people in the store at one time, and they are rationing essentials to prevent ongoing hoarding. The virus is still spreading. We’ve been told to shelter in place, stay home and late night television hosts have all done vids from their couches.

My kids are homeschooled so not much has changed for us, except our extra curricular activities. We’ve done a bit more reading and a bit more hanging out in the yard with the dogs. Thankfully, the weather has been chilly, but sunny. In the PNW, we take the sun whenever it decides to show!

Part of me feels that we can do this. We can come together for the greater good. As a society, we’ve been called to be our better selves in the past and risen to the challenges we faced. The more cynical side sees this and wonders what is wrong with people:

As a friend of mine put it, these were probably Tide pod eaters at one point.

Outside of spring break Florida (aka: the real world) it’s as though downplaying the seriousness of this virus is an attempt to mask fear. “Eh, it’s just the flu.” Or “It’s fine. When the weather warms up it will blow over.” Saying things like this help ease the fear of an uncertain/unknown.

For us, we are washing hands diligently, following recommendations to only go out for essential items like food and sheltering in place. I try not to be fearful. I can’t have the news on nonstop. I took a luxurious shower. The kids rode bikes and played together (without fighting! WIN!)

Virus aside, I feel like quarantined peeps set themselves up to start feeling like this sooner rather than later:

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully we are doing enough to flatten the curve so our healthcare systems do not get overloaded. It is scary to think about worse case scenarios, such as those being faced in Italy.

For now, we hunker down. We do what we can, where we can for those that are immune compromised. We wash our hands. We pray. We prepare meals, do some lessons with the kids, and play with the dogs. And then we wash our hands.

Seriously, go wash your hands.

That Escalated Quickly

Just a few short weeks and the world is slowly coming to a halt. It is serious and we must all do our part for the greater good. I love this post at Reluctant Xtian and what he recommends about thinking of others and not just ourselves.

While I agree and will implement those suggestions, I’m also looking forward to the break. The break from the “have to’s”. Deep spring cleaning, long dog walks, and tackling the ever growing pile of must read books on my nightstand are calling me.

Less running around, less hurrying, and less expectations. More boardgames, more snuggles, more breathing and more savoring of the time with my crazies.

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We will continue on with our homeschool curriculum. Books will be read. We will have lots of breaks to sit in the backyard and play fetch and feel the grass under our bare feet. Sweet daughter has been mowing lawns and poop scooping for neighbors. Cookies will be baked, hands will be washed, popcorn popped, movies watched and new recipes tried.

As an introvert, I relish this time. No, I’m not glad we have a rampant virus. Businesses large and small will be affected. People are sick and dying. It’s. awful.

Yet…

Since we are quarantined, schools cancelled for the time being, and precautions are being taken – I won’t be sad for the gifts that this process is giving us. 

The gift of time.

The gift of family.

The gift of remembering our neighbors and our own humanity.

The gift of knowing that we are in this together, and that we can do hard things. 

 

Unexpected

Post-PCS move, all the boxes are unpacked. The paper (oh so much paper) has been meticulously straightened and folded and packed into one giant box by my equally meticulous husband. (I’m more of a shove it in a box and pack it down type, but whatever.) We have offered it all to others in the neighborhood who are getting ready for their next move.

This is my favorite space. The just after we are settled and unpacked space. Where everything has a place, things no longer needed have been donated, and it’s another 2.5 years before we have to even think about moving again. We have all the hooks in the hallway, shoe racks placed, kids’ rooms decorated and it feels like home.

I sip my steaming hot freshly poured hot cup of coffee and gaze contentedly out the windows that offer a peekaboo view of the San Juan islands and the Puget Sound. It’s still foggy, gray and rainy as the Pacific Northwest usually is in February. My dad asked me recently, “I thought you hated the rain?” Honestly, I thought I did, too.

I am in such a different space than I was the last time we lived here. The kids no longer require my assistance in such things as getting dressed. They are far more independent. We are not in the midst of deployments. We live in a relatively quiet military town – a far cry from the busy-ness (and sunshine) of Southern California. I try to cherish each phase as we move through them, but I’m completely immersing myself in this one. My not-so-tiny-anymore humans are hilarious people and I find myself marveling at their quick wits and quirky senses of humor. Savoring their curiosity and cultivating their love of learning is a calling I never envisioned. I never thought in a million years life would take the turns it has. If you would have told me I would be a vegetarian, homeschooling, 3-dog lover, nature-craving, letting-my-hair-go-grey-naturally, insatiable consumer of books, teetotaler I would have laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of that image.

But here I am in the midst of the unexpectedness of it all and I am loving every dang bit of it. Okay, maybe that’s the coffee talking because let’s face it, not every day is bliss. A week ago I dragged the minions to a hike at one of my favorite trails by the water and they complained THE ENTIRE TIME. “It’s tooooo coooooollllldddddd….” (complete with whining voice) and “Are we done with this yet? I’m bored,” they complained long and loudly. Granted I was a smidge unprepared. We should have dressed a little more warmly, and maybe ventured out during a little later (and warmer) part of the day. Between my pushing of mandatory-family-fun and their reluctance and complaining it was a shit-show less than stellar outing.

Contrasted with this week’s adventure, it was night and day. We played giant chess in the sprinkles that wouldn’t quite become rain. I found joy in the usual spots. The kids drank from a camping spout.

 

Interspersed with the unexpected-joy-nugget types of family fun, I have no doubts they will be sprinkled with “less than stellar outings” from time to time. But that’s the point isn’t it, to expect the unexpected?

trying new things

consuming viewpoint-altering books

the beauty of rain

sobriety

raising kind (most of the time) and compassionate humans

 

And perhaps embrace it all.

 

 

The Magic of Home

Eric and I scanned the last of our earthly belongings comparing it with the quickly deteriorating space in the truck and had to make some fast decisions.

“The chairs are going, aren’t they?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.

“‘Fraid so,” he said.

All of our belongings in a 26′ truck

I turned away when I saw him briskly carry the happy blue pair to the spontaneous free yard sale accumulating at the edge of the curb. They’ll be happier here in the warm San Diego sun, I thought. Good thing we are doing this before school lets out, as there will be lots foot traffic to carry away the things we cannot take with us. The little boy that yelled exuberantly about his new-to-him bike as he rode it away made me grin. Jake had been eating his knees on that bike for a few months now and it was time to let it go anyway. That’s what the song says, right? Let it go, let it go…..

It’s just stuff.

I stopped short when I saw our aqua Adirondack chairs nestled happily in their new yard. It was bittersweet giving them away. It was bittersweet walking the dogs this very last time in our San Diego neighborhood. I breathed it in. I noticed all the palm trees, took in the view down toward Mission Bay, and closed my eyes and sighed as the sun warmed my skin.

We started on our adventure a half day behind as we had some finishing up at the old house to complete. One last check of the mail box, roll up the garbage and recycling cans, and turn over the keys.

We had big plans to make it up to Washington in three days. With 3 dogs, 2 kids and me who gets what I call “car-koleptic” (extremely tired when driving in the rain) we knew our plans were way too aggressive. Once again I was reminded that I could never be a long haul trucker.

As California’s terrain changed from desert, vineyards and then finally to forested mountains, I found myself awed by the beauty of it all. I pointed out things to the kids. Miraculously the sights were stunning enough to tear their eyes from their iPods. “Ohhhh, wowww….” could be heard from both of them. I forgot just how little they were when we left this part of the country. “They don’t remember,” I thought sadly. Climbing higher into the mountains, and into Oregon, I chuckled when the car sounded an alert as the temperature was now below 40 degrees. This alarm came complete with a cute flashing snowflake on my dashboard. Poor car has never seen anything below 60 degrees! I tapped the dash and murmured, ‘Good little car, you’re doing fine!’

I grew up in the Puget Sound, but after moving out of state the first time, I was shocked by the heat and the humidity of Florida. “So that’s what that ball of fire in the sky is!” I joked when regaling people of the transition to the Sunshine state from the renowned rainy Seattle area. I have loved living all over the country, and yes, Hawaii has ruined us for all states. There is just something about the Pacific Northwest. It pulls me back in ways I can scarcely describe.

I tend to agree with Bon Jovi. Who says you can’t go home? Maybe not the way it was, but a place makes you who you are in ways that are non-tangible. Living away has given me a perspective that would not exist if I’d never left. There is breathtaking beauty here. The allure of the forests, the captivating mists – it’s magic pure and simple.

Hannah’s camera was clicking fast and furious as we traveled. I was curious what gems may be hidden on her device when she was reluctant to let me see. She had been working furiously on something, but promised she would share it with me when she was done.

Hannah’s project

Make no mistake, there is a kind of magic here – and I believe it has enchanted my daughter.

Gratitude, Always

There is tired, and then there’s tired. The kind of tired you feel when you have done way more than there is time for, more than you’d planned, and are sleep deprived on top of it all. It’s the kind of tired you feel when you have to tuck your chin down, keep your feet moving and focus only on the task in front of you.

“Just one more thing. Just get through this,” I told myself as I daydreamed of sleep, looking forward to when this was all over. The truck was getting packed, little by little. The ultimate adult Tetris game being playing by my master-packer husband as oddly shaped belongings filled tiny niches here and there. I wondered as we do every move about the necessity of so much stuff.

For a person who really doesn’t like moving (and the associated stress), it’s ironic that we are a military family. There are aspects about it that I do enjoy; the setting up of a new house, arranging things, and the adventure of it . The part I detest? The packing and the cleaning of the old house. All the nitty gritty cleaning – baseboards, windows, blinds, and ovens. Not my favorite at all.

This move is hitting our little deep-feeler daughter hard. She is very melancholy, expressing her desire to go back to Texas as that is the only home she really remembers. I comfort her the best I can and remind her that it’s okay to feel yucky and whatever which way she feels about all of this. That feelings are what they are and the best way to get through these patches is to just wade right into them and feel them. You can’t avoid the bitter-sweetness, the frustration, and the sadness. The only way is to go through.

Our last night in the mostly-empty house, we did what we usually do. We read a bit of our book, currently book 3 of The Chronicles of Narnia. As I finished, nestled between 2 kids and 3 dogs in our king bed, both kiddos wanted to chat instead of the usual pleading of ‘just one more chapter!’

“What do you want to talk about?” I asked.

“The move,” my daughter quietly replied. The volume of her voice inversely proportionate to the weight of what’s on her heart and mind.

Ever putting the positive spin on hard things, I reminded myself of what I’d explained to her earlier, that the only way through hard things, is to go through them.

“Okay, how about this,” I prompted, “What if we start by each saying 3 things that really suck about moving?”

“YES!!!” they both giggled and begged to be the first to rattle off their yuck list. Hannah asked to swear out loud once. Why not? If that’s how you feel, get it out!

Their frustrations and heartaches vented, as well as mine, we moved on to our gratitude list, things we are thankful for or that give us comfort. All of us agreed the dogs are at the top of that list. Jacob was thankful for his computer and Minecraft, as always. Hannah snuggled in close and ticked off her list.

Exhausting their lists, it was my turn. My over-tired mind contemplated the things I was grateful for. There were so many things. “I’m thankful for the way homeschooling has opened up our schedule to more flexibility,” I began. “I love that no matter what four walls surround us, be it a hotel room, a new house in a different state, home is where the 7 of us are.” They nodded their agreement.

As they drifted off to the last sleep in our house, I was thinking of the tiny little rambler that fit us so well. The morning sun I’d marveled at as it streamed in across the floor each morning, the proximity to the beach, walking paths lined with jacaranda trees and birds of paradise, and a large back yard for the dogs flooded my sleepy brain. A hardworking husband that continued packing well into the wee hours of the night, the ability to see that we were making progress, and the knowledge that this phase doesn’t last forever all came to mind.

“Thank you,” I whispered to the quiet house. “Thank you.”

Transitions

When people ask, “How do you do it?!” while shaking their heads in wonder, I typically answer something to the effect of “We do what we have to do,” or “Home is where the military sends us, so we make the best of it,” or something along those lines. It’s heartwarming to have lived in many parts of the country and to have friends in nearly every state – even around the world. Overall, it makes for a global mindset having lived in many places.

While all of that is true, what is also true is that I’m really tired. I’m tired of moving. I’m tired of making friends just to have to pick up and leave when it’s getting past the initial getting-to-know-you phase. I’m tired of knowing that when I set up the next house, I will silently sigh and think to myself as I do every move, “Seems silly to hang these pictures only to take them down again in what will feel like the blink of an eye.” Or “Why bother painting when we will have to paint it all back to off-white when we leave?” I want to plant a garden and harvest for more than 2 seasons. I want to be the one to stay.

I’ve had dreams where I’ve been drinking – and enjoying it. Upon waking, I’m relieved and grateful that it was only my subconsious and that my 2.5 years are still very much intact. The handful of times where I drink in dreamland is where there is extra stress….and moving? Yup. No question.

The move here was overshadowed by the homecoming phase of Eric’s return. This time is a little different in that it’s harder on the kids. They don’t remember a lot of Washington so to them it feels like another new place. There’s an edge of unease, despite reassurances. We’ll get there, but for now we are in the transitional uncomfortable.

This time we will be moving back. Back to where we met, back to my home state. My family will be there. I already know the layout of the commissary and where the good off-base groceries are. I know how to navigate the town, and surrounding areas. I envision hiking with the dogs in my favorite locations and cannot wait to show the kiddos all the places they used to roam but were too young to remember specifics. I cannot wait to see our friends and family. Despite the rain of the pacific northwest, or rather because of it, there is incredible beauty in that part of the country. The air will be crisp, and we will arrive just in time for the holidays. After 1-season-year-round California, the change will be welcomed.

As I look around at the curtainless windows, the sea of boxes and familiar red tape gun securing our earthly possessions for another move, it feels like it’s number 359 although it’s actually our 12th in 18 years. “We are almost to the end,” I remind myself, resolutely. This phase of active duty will come to a close in a few more years and the moving will cease to be our normal. We will plant that garden, we’ll buy a home and the kids will finish school in one location. “Just a little further,” my mind tells me, borrowing the oft-used mental methods of running long distances.

Just a little further.

Learning vs Schooling

My son was picked on by one kid last year. Repeatedly. It never got physical, but it was a daily torment. People with Aspergers or HFA can come across to us neurotypicals as abrasive, headstrong, disruptive, etc. That never excuses name calling, being picked on or having teachers turn a blind eye. My son was singled out many times by the school’s PE coach, who seemingly enjoyed power struggles with a 10 year old, and failed to read and implement his 504 plan until a month before school was out for the summer. (I had submitted all documentation at the beginning of the school year when we registered.) His new class has 37 students. There is no way that even if every student had no extra needs that 1 teacher could, or should, have that many students in his or her charge. They might as well be in a college lecture hall.

My daughter complained of stomachaches multiple times a week last year. There was some social drama – what we deem “normal” and marvel at how young it seems to start. It got bad enough last year, we sought counseling. There’s popularity, boys and multiplication tables, but there are also teachers who are tired. Teachers who perhaps would be better suited for other vocations. My daughter overheard her teacher swear in frustration. She shared with me that she would get a lump in her throat when called on in class because if she gets the answer wrong, the teacher will humiliate her in front of her peers. A student should be allowed to make mistakes – that’s how we learn. She cried every week not wanting to go to school. This from a girl who has loved school up until this year.

When cleaning out the daily lunch boxes, I asked the kids, “Why didn’t you eat your lunch today?” I was often met with the same response – no time. They cut down the lunch to 20 minutes. Line up, sit down, be quiet, stop talking, sit still. Get up. Line up. Walk to class. My mom made the comment that it’s like they just want a class of robots. It sure feels that way.

There are benefits to public schooling, when it is done right. I also get that as a parent, my involvement is key to a school’s success. That said, I fear that schools that get it are few and far between. We were fortunate to have been a part of such a school in Texas, but not all the schools even in that district were so fortunate. I didn’t necessarily love all aspects or subjects in school, but overall, I liked it. (Okay, I loved school supplies. And the smell of books. And paper. And the crisp way a freshly sharpened pencil writes.) When I overheard my kids state they hated school, my heart broke. I asked them if they were at their old school, would they still hate it? It was an attempt to see if the work itself was challenging or if it was the social/teacher/atmosphere they were dealing with that caused such a visceral reaction. It was definitely the latter. It was as if their love of actual learning was being eroded away.

Homeschooling was something that we agreed was never off the table. It’s been something we’ve been open to, if needed. My sister has homeschooled my nieces off and on through their school years. They have been involved in all kinds of extra curricular activities and are well-rounded, social, and bright, critical thinkers – and isn’t that what we want? A population that thinks critically? Adults who can function, are polite, and well-educated? There is a clear difference between schooling and learning.

We’ve decided to homeschool our children this year. We have a curriculum that is well-laid out and meets all state requirements. It will allow for working ahead on subjects in which they excel, as well as the time and flexibility for areas in need of work. The idea of going completely against the grain feels scary – but in a really exciting way.

Kids learn more from our actions than what we say. I hope they will learn through this process not only the things required from an academic perspective, but also how to do what’s right for them. I pray they have the guts to go against what everyone else does, or what they think they “should” do when needed. I hope to instill in them that different isn’t wrong – just different – and different can be wonderfully freeing.

Those Moments

I have loved the ocean as long as I can remember. It’s unknown depths, countless lives beneath the surface, and breathtaking beauty are simply mesmerizing. I always come away from the beach stunned and in awe of this extraordinary planet.

We’ve had the distinct privilege of living near many oceanside locations:

Beach on NAS Whidbey Island

Maylor Point Trail, Oak Harbor, WA

Hanama Bay, Honolulu, HI

Waikiki Beach/Fort DeRussy Boardwalk, Honolulu, HI

Washington Park 3 mile loop, Anacortes, WA

Front Street, Lahaina, Maui

Washington Park, Anacortes, WA

Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi, TX

The white sugar sands of Pensacola, Florida were intoxicating and such a far cry from the barnacle-laden rock beaches I was accustomed to growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Living on Oahu of course was paradise, no question. We spent many days out on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, while living in Corpus Christi, TX. It really doesn’t matter where we travel, the ocean is a must. Pretty much the only thing I love as much as the ocean are my dogs!

Knowing our time in San Diego is finite, I’m determined to make the most of it before we head back to the evergreen state. What better way than to check out a new beach?! And what better beach than one where dogs can roam free and play?

Yep – Dog Beach!

They played and raced and sniffed all the smells!

As I looked around, there were dogs as far as I could see. People were are smiling. Dogs happily barking, splashing and playing chase. Whitney whined to be let off of her leash. Her joy is running, and she had some running to do! Buck didn’t really enjoy the beach in Corpus Christi when we took him a few times, but the waves were calmer today and far off the wet sand so they weren’t as scary.

For dog people, we get that our animals are something special. They are more than pets. There aren’t words to adequately describe the way we feel – the way I feel – about them. They soothe the ache of being human.

Walking amongst the myriad dogs of all shapes and sizes, joy couldn’t help but seep in. Looking over at my “grumpy old man” Buck, seeing him trotting happily and rolling around in seaweed – those moments of pure joy and content – I simply inhaled the the view around me. I savored the feeling of wanting to be no other place than right there, feet in the sand watching them be free.

Dogs….and beaches.

That’s just about heaven on earth if you ask me.