summer & education

I’ve been pretty lucky with Rhiannon. Because so many of my clients are high-level educators, I’ve always had plenty of guidance in what is best for her. Testing into GATE opened up so many doors – thank you, special education! – and we’re able to manipulate her schooling to match her needs. In a state like Idaho (we rank 50th in per-student spending), I’ll take all the help we can get!

This summer, her teachers supplied her with fractions and algebra workbooks to keep up her math, and she’s currently reading Watership Down (and a bunch of Doctor Who graphic novels!). She tested into high school math and college-level reading, so we’re trying to keep her interested. She’s still taking piano through the summer, amping up her art skills with the help of some fantastic YouTube channels and an art teacher who comes monthly for both kiddos (Thank you, Tanith Brown!), reviewing Spanish, and is about to force me back into running so she can train for next track season.

Before you start commenting that she needs a summer break, this is what she chooses for herself. She also spends most days at her school’s Boys and Girls Club, where she plays hard, teaches younger kids arts & crafts, and gets to go on amazing field trips. She and Sebastian (who is with us every other week) play plenty of video games and veg out (more than I’d like them to…) watching YouTube, but that’s important, too.

We’re letting them attempt more independence and are giving them plenty of free-range time this summer. They’ve already had multiple sleep-overs and the house sometimes bursts apart with their friends, but it makes Tony and me happy to be that house. Granted, it’s messier than we’d like, but we’re working on a chore list. Rhiannon is working on earning her own laptop and we’re trying to give her ample opportunities to get money.

She’s also auditioning for commercials and wants to send her resume out for more acting work. She’s begging for lessons, so we’re looking into different programs. Luckily, Boise is a creative city and we know a lot of performers, so it shouldn’t be hard.

So, yes, we’re still learning everyday, knowing that school will be popping up quickly. Yes, we’re trying to keep them busy and happy and still moving forward in their skills. Yes, we’re still more mellow than it reads in this post, but we have smart kids who need stimulation.

And I kind of feel like summer is the perfect time to get in the fun learning. Which is why I’m studying Rhiannon’s Spanish books and playing her piano when no one else is home. 😉

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on being mom

Tonight I cuddled with two sad kids in different bedrooms, going back and forth to assuage their worries. Every good parent has been there, at that point in which he or she hopes to say just the right thing to make things better. You choose your words carefully on nights like tonight.

For my daughter, who is sensitive and a worrier, emphasizing that some things are out of our control – especially the behavior of others – might seem counterintuitive, but I think she’s a little relieved to have been reminded. She’s happy to take that burden off of her giant heart. No 11-year-old girl should carry that.

For my son, who experienced his first real panic attack complete with shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, and uncontrollable gulping tears, it was trying to convince him that he is powerful and capable.

“My brain is making me feel weird, though.”

“It’s when your worries turn sad. It’s not a bad thing. It just means you’re not hiding from your feelings. You’re brave.”

Power has been his topic of choice a lot lately. Power is his biggest wish. He feels hopeless and helpless at times, as we all do, but this particular 11-year-old is feeling it a lot lately.

For both these kids, who are learning to navigate a world that holds them accountable when they feel so little (and, yet, at the same time so old…), it’s reminding them that they are loved by me right now and forever, no matter what else is happening. It’s backrubs and hand massages for my girl, and it’s big, tight hugs for my boy. It’s telling them over and over that the one thing I know for sure is that I will love them forever and protect them when they can’t protect themselves. It’s reminding them that I always want them to do their best, but that I understand that on some days their best is fantastic and on other days it’s the ability to breathe without crying. It’s reminding them of how special they are and that the world needs them…

gratitude

Ahhhh…It was a great day.

The Husband Guy was up early to get more food going (we started yesterday – that’s how big a deal this meal is to him) and the house smelled amazing all day. We ate with family and new friends. We listened to kids playing and laughing and running. We had waaaaay too many leftovers and a ton of dirty dishes. In a world where people are afraid and starving, I am very grateful for those dirty dishes. What a status symbol.

And, at the end of the day, I sat and thought about what else makes me grateful.

As always, I’m thankful to have my daughter. She’s kind and generous, loving and smart, beautiful and fun. Watching her get through this preteen crap is a little tough, but I’m grateful that she has the amazing friends that she has. Charlotte, Esther, Ella, Morgan, and Abby – thank you for taking care of her. You are special young women.

I have great friends, too. What a gift that is! I have friends from my childhood that help me remember from where I came. It’s always good to reflect on that. Thank you. I have a posse of women here in Boise that help me keep my head on straight. I have friends who don’t mind that I hug too hard and share too much. Whew! I have friends who answer if I text too late or too early. I’m grateful…and apologetic.

I have my fantastic business that allows me the time I need to be a good mother and wife. It’s fun and creative and every day that I work is full of stories. Thank you for that.

I have Tony. You know when you’re young and start dreaming about being in love? It took a long time to get that, but luckily I did. Really, it’s amazing – I can be such a bitch! Grumpy and sulking and determined to be sour. But he just kisses me and hugs me and loves me. He doesn’t see me that way, even when I’m throwing my worst at him. That’s love, isn’t it? When you see the best in someone even though they’re just being horrible? Besides Rhiannon, no one has ever loved me so well. I’m not sure if I deserve it, but I’m grateful and try to prove it to him as much as possible.

And I’m thankful for this weird little family that we’ve brought together. It’s not always easy. The conversations we have with the kids about “the importance of making up your own minds, even if it means disagreeing with us and other adults,” the struggle to make a routine out of this blended (and sometimes disconnected) group, the constantly having to prove that our love is unconditional, and the small gains after what feels like a huge amount of work can make it feel really heavy at times. Then again, it’s serious stuff raising the next generation, and I’m so very thankful for the opportunity. I wouldn’t change what we are creating for the world.

There are a lot of other things, but these are the biggies and it’s important that I get some cuddle time in with Rhiannon before she falls asleep.

Good night, all. I hope you had a memorable day with people you love.blessings

 

 

 

 

#62milliongirls

It’s official! I’m the room parent for Pooka’s class! I get to plan some fun parties and assist her teacher in any way she’ll let me, and I’m excited.

I’m grateful every day that she gets to be in this special class full of other gifted kids with
a teacher who is trained to meet their special needs. I’m grateful that Rhiannon doesn’t quite grasp how lucky she actually is for this opportunity. I’m grateful she can take it for granted, especially when #62milliongirls in the world don’t get even the most basic education.

It should be a human right to know how to read and write. Without the chance to learn, how can one ever rise above?

Do what you can. Get books into the hands of ALL the kids you know. Vote for those that would feed both a child’s body AND her mind. The world deserves no less than the brightest.

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where did the time go? (or 15 reasons to ignore your blog)

I’ve been busy:

1. Goofing off with Pooka.
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2. Getting to know Soups…
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3. …while missing Cleo terribly.
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4. Back to school and all its expenses, er, new experiences
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5. Listening to great music
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6. Getting the BENCH going
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7. Meeting with artists and craftsmen
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8. And talking friends into making things (Thank you, Lisa!)
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9. Making stuff myself
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10. Doing some hair and finding an organic haircare line that lives up to the hype
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Neuma is fabulous!

11. Hanging with these goofballs…
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12.Spending time with friends…
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13. …and this handsome guy
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14. Drinking too much caffeine
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15. And celebrating love…
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…in all its forms!

after a bad week…

I’m determined not to start this blog on a sour note, but it hasn’t been the best week. Because of my newly found determination to commit to writing (mostly) about the positive (the “better” part of this site), I am going to publish what helped me through That Which Cannot Be Discussed (yet).

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First off, cats.

Cleo (nearest the window) is a very old tortoise-shell calico cat that has seen Pooka and me through some rough times. She is a constant in my daughter’s life and is even her designated companion animal. She’s loud, bossy and often gets her way.

Soups – a.k.a. Monster – is Pooka’s transitional companion animal since Cleo is getting older and a bit cranky. He is the goofiest baby ever! He loves to hug your neck, kiss your face and then claw the f*$% out of you.

They’re pretty close to perfect.

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Then we have these goofballs.

They are quirky and weird and too-smart-for-their-own-good and pretty much best friends. They will torment each other, but are fiercely loyal. There have been moments this week when Boy has said, “Hey! I’m the only one allowed to be mean to Rhiannon!”

Oh. Excuse me.

And Pooka will come up to us after a tense moment and say, “Sebastian and I both thought that up, so I guess I should be in trouble, too.”

Good girl.

Don’t get me wrong; one will just as easily throw the other under the bus if wronged. That’s just human nature with siblings, right? They might be step-siblings, but they are closer than most blood relatives. Just now Boy was yelling down the hallway, “Rhiannon! Come on! What are you doing? I thought we were going to start playing now!” Her response? “Geez, Bastian! I needed to pee!”

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Pooka.

She makes everything better. She is honest and loving and kind and smart and beautiful, and my world was grey and fuzzy before she appeared. Life before her doesn’t count except for the stories I can share to make it all better for her.guy

The Husband Guy.

I think I make him most frustrated when I don’t let him help me. He’s that man you wish for – the one who knows how strong you are but wants to open all doors, wipe away all tears and fix everything all the while reassuring you that he understands you don’t need him to do all that. He is exactly what I need for the rest of this life and all the lives I might have after.

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Wishes.

We all need them. Dreams. Goals. Plans. When the shit keeps hitting the fan, sometimes it’s the hope that something even greater is out there that makes it easier to clean up said shit.

So, here I go, towel and bleach in hand, knowing that everything will be okay.

like a virgin

10930025_10204347213932977_4001023787430924732_nI’m really not new to blogging — I’ve done it for years for different purposes and even have a small content marketing business in which I ghostwrite for people who want to keep their online presence fresh — but this particular blog has been stewing in my brain and heart for years now.

What do I mean when I say bangs are better than BOTOX®? Well, I definitely don’t mean that BOTOX® is a bad product. Many of my friends use it for a variety of reasons from frown lines to perspiration and get great results. My meaning is this: Sometimes the simpler route can save you money and time which, to me, is usually better. That means I have bangs instead of paying for injections.

Am I swearing off BOTOX® forever? I’m not saying that either, although I have a bone callous on my forehead that makes me look like the spawn of Hellboy and Liz Sherman, the result of bumping my head so severely that I nearly passed out. I’d have to get that filed down first.

But I digress…11412385_10205386216067381_2575817923073800697_n

I’m a stylist and owner of Illuminate Salon in downtown Boise, Idaho, so telling people I’m against what makes them feel better about their looks would be counterproductive. I do help people grow out their grey hair when they’re ready, but mostly I do a lot of highlights, a ton of haircuts, and hours of talking.

I love my clients! These people are my best friends and most have been with me anywhere from 13 – 18 years. I’ve done hair for 20 years. Even when I was a production trainer at a local semiconductor company, I did hair. Even when I was marketing director of a busy real estate group, I did hair. My hands were in hair three days after giving birth!

Featured imageI thought I’d only have my hands in it for a couple of years while I finished college. Turns out, I really love being self-employed. It makes it easier to be a full-time mom and that is my greatest love. I have a ten-year-old daughter, Rhiannon (or “Pooka” as my Facebook friends know her), who is beautiful and gifted and sensitive and amazing. She has curly hair that hangs past her waist. You’ll read about her a lot. Sebastian (or “Boy”), my ten-year-old stepson, has flaming red hair, the most amazing blue eyes, a brain that is always coding, and is most comfortable jumping on a trampoline or pretending to be the host of Total Drama. They and Tony (“The Husband Guy”) are the great loves of my life. Well, besides my cats. More on them later.

Self-employment means I get to schedule around my family and writing (I’m working on a novel or three.) and I can’t imagine inserting myself back into corporate life. I loved it before I was a mom. Now I love sharing a mother-daughter journal with Rhiannon and figuring out ways to sneak fiber into Sebastian’s diet. I love camping trips and watching them become more independent with each one. I love that they are good friends even though they are very different people. I’m glad they have each other. Sometimes I feel that Tony and I were meant to fall in love so that they could have each other.11156271_10204985203602320_8528947458230423514_n

I’ll write about family, friendship, business, writing, geeky stuff and cats, among many other things. I’ll share a few dutch oven recipes The Husband Guy has perfected. I’ll post some art. I’ll get Pinterest crazy. I might even give away some favorite hair care products. If you stick with me, a lot could happen.