Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Fun--and Frustration!




I wish summer could be carefree and fun. But the girls' school assigns summer work. For most kids, it's probably no big deal. For mine, it means a summer of frustration. In fairness to the girls, I have Kaleb do the same summer Bridge Book Kayla does.

The bridge books are a good idea, but my kids don't just sit down and do them. We had hours and hours in the car driving to New Orleans and back, and to Indiana and back. FL to IN is 16 hours one way. If they were focused, they could have the whole book done. 

The skills in the book are supposed to be ones all fourth graders learned in the previous year, but that isn't always true. Some of the pages were super easy, others had math problems that I had to sit down and figure out how to do.

It's set up to do a two page section a day--if you have 100 days of summer. We don't. Plus Kaleb was at camp for a full week. 

Jasmine just finished her second week of band camp 10-4 & 6-9. She has to read Fahrenheit 451 and do some journal activities with it. She also has a math pack that she can't do because she wasn't in regular 8th grade math last year.

So it's a summer long struggle for us.

But we make time for other things. Scuba, snorkeling, swimming, running, movies, reading for fun, crafts, frozen yogurt etc.




We meet for family circle time every day. All of us wrote out a wish list/goal list for the summer. One of mine was to read 100 picture books to the kids this summer. You are never too old for picture books and never too old to be read to. So we read picture books, plus we just finished Journey to the Center of the Earth and are starting the Prince and the Pauper. We read the Wizard of Oz earlier in the summer. We talk about character traits, find verses about them and watch videos such as The Book of Virtues, do The Christian Girl's Guide to the Bible and talk about long term and short term goals in circle. It's a no fault, no penalty zone. Sometimes that takes a lot of determination on my part.  




The twins just finished their workbooks. We have two weeks until we go back to school. Next week is play week. The Missoula children's theater group travels to different places and does a play in a week with the local kids. On Monday morning the kids try out. For those who make it, rehearsals start immediately. They practice all week, and perform the play on Friday night.

So if the kids get parts, that will take up the whole week because the script has to be memorized in the evenings. We've tried out the last two years. (I didn't know about it before that). The first year Jasmine and Kayla were in it. The second year only Jasmine got a part. This year the play is The Little Mermaid, and I hope they all get a part. They always do their own version of a fairy tale. Last  year was Hansel and Gretel, and the witch was a vegetarian.




The final week of summer vacation we plan to skate, bowl, swim, snorkel, watch DVDs, read, finish up projects and do some new crafts.

In upcoming posts, I'll share some of the kid's summer goals and their thoughts on summer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Dad

This is a different kind of post than I usually write. And it's long. And it's personal. So read with a kind heart :)

I haven't really said a lot about the family I grew up in. I probably won't at this time, but I am going to post about my dad.

My dad's family had mental health issues. My dad was born in 1919, and at the time diagnosis and treatments weren't readily given. His family wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway. He had a twin, but sometime before the age of 2, both my dad and the twin had high fevers and the twin died. My dad was delayed in skills and such from that time onward.
My dad and someone. Maybe his sister? 

At age 16 he dropped out of school although he had not yet passed 8th grade.

He was drafted into WWII. I have the New Testament he was given,his dog tags, uniform and some misc medals and such. I don't really know much about his time in service. He didn't talk much about it.
These are the medals etc.

These were with them, but I don't know what they are.

This too. I don't know if it's from the army or something else.

Here is his WWII NT alongside mine from 1973 (5th grade?) and 1982 (college)


Can you imagine a message like this coming out of the White House now?


This is the flag from his casket.
My dad moved out when I was 8 or 9, and from then on I only saw him on Saturdays. The routine was the same. He'd pull up outside the house at 11 a.m. every Saturday. Drive to Hardees or Wendys or occasionally the nice Chinese place. Eat. Drop me back off.

To say that our family was not affectionate either in words or physically would be an understatement. Imagine the Care Bears Land Without Feelings, and you're close. It was just the way things were.

However, my dad was definitely the most social member of the family. But being quite delayed, he didn't relate the way most adults do. That was okay with me because I don't always "get it" either. I have a master's degree in education, and I still don't "get it" most of the time.

I wish I had inherited his ability to sing and his sociability. I seem to have gotten the downside of both sides of the family.
My dad and a friend (the one whose lake house we went to on our IN trip) on graduation day

But anyway, during my high school years I wrote for a special Saturday section of the local newspaper that was all teen written. My dad would get a copy of the newspaper and read my article before he picked me up. And it never failed, we'd be in line to order our food and he'd pull out that section of the paper and ask the unsuspecting waitress/cashier "Have you read this yet? My daughter wrote  it." And thrust the paper in her face.

Sometimes I wanted to crawl under something. But I didn't. Because I realized that by doing what he was, my dad was affirming my writing and in his way showing that he believed in me. It was just never verbalized. I wish it would have been. Doing it over, I would go into journalism. I went into teaching because I like kids, I thought I would probably stay single and adopt children, and being a teacher would work well in that scenario.

The problem with teaching is that it changed too much, plus you have to be certified in the state you live in and there is a test to pass in order to do that and you have to take more college classes. I was once certified in IN and ND and by ACSI when I taught in FL before I got married. I am certified nowhere now.

I didn't go into journalism because I didn't want to write obituaries and cover school board meetings for the local paper. For one thing, I have IC so don't have the bladder for long meetings!! And I wanted to write features like I was for the special teen section. I could pick any topic and write about it. That wouldn't be true as a real reporter.

If I'd known I'd be moving a lot, I'd have gone into journalism and photography and done travel writing. But we can't go back, so forward we go. (And I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be if I grow up. I was happy being a military wife and then a foster parent, but those years are behind us.)

I don't actually like news, people interest me. And I can get really nosy. Just ask my kids :) We study people on our trips. We find characters for my books etc. "Doesn't that boy sitting in front of us on the Epcot trolley look like he could be the boy who dies in  "Death List" (an idea for a book I have). At Turkey Run, "Do you think that boy behind us on the trail looks more like the boy?" At pool the guard was telling another guard his ethnic background, and I was like, "Could you say that again? I need the perfect character for a book I'm writing." My kids don't blink. They even point out cool looking teens to me now. The small blonde drummer in marching band with Jasmine, also a 9th grader, as small as her or smaller and marching with a bass drum. The kid we see at the food court in the mall. A teen who has made the news and so on.


But, back to my dad. He and I went on vacation together every summer starting when I was either in jr high or high school. We went to Turkey Run State Park one summer and Brown County State Park the next. I was sharing about this with my kids as we hiked the trails. Told them about the time my dad stepped off the bottom of the ladder and fell flat on his back. I wanted to take a picture (film camera of course), but I was afraid he might have been hurt. He wasn't. I should have taken the picture. :)
This is from a year we did the covered bridge routes near the state parks.


Jessica, Jasmine and I did the covered bridge routes several years ago.
Around 2009?


Me in high school or college
The same or similar place this summer.

I wonder where Ty got his need to climb everything?

My dad on the ladders in the late 70's

Kayla at the same spot this summer

My sister, dad and I went to Mackinac Island together. She and I shared a bed and he was in the other bed in the same room. Thing is, he could really snore LOUDLY. We could not get to sleep. We kept laughing because he was so loud. We woke  him up laughing, and he was like "Was I snoring?"





One time during the time I was a college student, I was at his room at a boarding house. I brought up how our family was never affection. I pointed out that no one ever said "I love you" even once while I was growing up. Or hugged. He said, "But you always knew I loved you, didn't you?" I affirmed that.

He had a stroke between then and my next visit. So much for that discussion. Sigh.

He was never the same after the stroke. He had another one the next day. For a while, he seemed to be getting better. He was moved to the Veteran's hospital in Fort Wayne, and  they were doing therapy with him, and he could talk. But then he had more small strokes and lost that. But then for some reason, he was moved back to town and put in a nursing home and wasn't getting any therapy. Very little care at all. It was really bad. And I think he gave up.

About five years after the first stroke, and seven weeks before my wedding, he died. I had just signed a DNR paper because they kept resuscitating him, but the dad I knew no longer existed. He could not eat on his own, pee on his own etc and didn't know us most of the time. I think he would rather have been dancing on streets of gold. I'm glad I signed the paper when I did, although his sister was really angry with me when she found out.

When we got the call, we were making Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and my sister and I were addressing my wedding invitation. The hospital said we needed to come. He was already gone, but they didn't tell us that until we got there. We'd left the cinnamon rolls at home, and ate them much later after we got back from the hospital. Isn't it funny how you remember details like that?

I know he had plenty of faults. I know he had limitations. But he was the one who believed in me. And I didn't have to worry about being perfect with him. I think we understood each other.

For some reason he's on my mind lately. Maybe because of going to Elkhart this summer and stopping at the cemetery. Maybe because of Turkey Run.


 And I got an idea. Since he was proud of my writing in high school, I'd take a picture of some of my books by his marker at the cemetery. I knew I had the Trivia book and Princess book with me. And it turned out I had some give away copies of the others books. In fact, we found all but the Guide to the Bible in the SUV.



I also took a picture of The Women at the Well, which is the section he's buried in. I use it in a YA novel I'm writing.

Later it bothered me that there was nothing on his marker. (Not sure what it's really called.) So on another trip over there (it's a ways from the house), we stopped and put flowers on the grave.




Right after he died, I wrote letters to him in a journal. I did that for a year. And later I threw it away. I wish I'd saved it.

I hope he knows the difference he made. I hope he knows about the books I wrote. I hope he's still cheering me on. Or is looking down from heaven going, "You see that book? My daughter wrote it!"

I miss you, Dad.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Indiana part 4 -- A Very Muddy Adventure



Our last day there, some of us from our high school graduating class got together at a friend's in-law's lake house. It was over the state line so we snapped this photo.



I have the youngest children, of course, due to adopting children long past the age any of us would have given birth.


Jessica jumping off the pontoon wearing my new swimsuit


Deep water doesn't bother my kids--except Kayla






Next morning we loaded up and headed out.

Me and my mom.


We were really full on this trip!!! Six of us plus luggage, snorkel gear, a cooler, camera bag, a box of old books from my mom and a box of  Nutcracker (soldiers) my mom passed on to Ty.
Our destination was Turkey Run State Park. Ty and Jasmine were there with me a few years ago. I kept telling the others that our state park here in FL with sand, the jetties, sea grass etc isn't the same as the ones I went to with my dad on vacation in high school. I decided it was time to show them the trails.

However, Indiana had gotten A LOT of rain. Some of the trails were totally impassable with shoulder deep water. Others were passable to those of us not quite sane.
The river (Sugar Creek, I think) was really high.

Here are pictures of the kids still clean. Hehe. They had no clue.





Suspension bridge


Ty loves to climb, so this is a great place for him.
video

We did some extra off trail climbing!


You have to go up the waterfall. We all made it.





Side trip  up to another waterfall




Oops. It's slippery.

Down two ladders


 Long way down!

No, there isn't normally a river here. Sometimes a trickle of water.

It got a little deep at places.



So that was our adventure at Turkey Run. We hiked a combination of three different trails to make a loop due to flooded out areas. The kids absolutely loved it.

We spent the night nearby and then headed to KY to drop Ty off at a meeting point. The bridges between IN and KY were under construction plus there was an accident so it took a long time to make this trip!


We drove on, stopped at a Chuck E Cheese in Alabama for a break, dropped Jessica at about 2 a.m. and got home about 2:20.

And that's the end of our Indiana adventure. Except that I am going to post about the cemetery visit as a separate post later.

I miss being with family and people who were friends years ago and another adoptive family. So nice not to have to explain why a child is sitting time out or not doing something and not having to defend myself because said child is acting totally innocent and sweet at the time.

So, four trips with three days in between each. We did it. We survived. I was ready to be done traveling.

Now we are trying to finish up required summer work, and Jasmine is in high school band camp. Play tryouts for Missoula Summer theater is in a week.