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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 43: How We Chose Texas

This story would be more accurately entitled "How Jessie Chose Texas," but since I accepted it, I'll share from both sides from my perspective. One note: Jessie does often try to share the story as how WE chose to move here, but I work hard to correct him. He was the lead in choosing!
So, you remember in the story about why we left Florida that I was looking at various other states... primarily in the north? Unbeknownst to me, at some point, Jessie decided that maybe we did need to move. I'm guessing that he figured if we were going to move, he better put his two-cents in about WHERE we were going to end up, or we'd end up in some super cold-winter place like those I'd been suggesting. Since he doesn't like the cold much, he would definitely not prefer any of the places I was looking.
One day, when I was sharing some info about one of the states I'd been looking at, he told me he thought we should move to Texas. Just blurted it out. I was very surprised, but accepted it as a suggestion. So, I started looking at Texas, out of curiosity. I decided I wouldn't argue with him, unless I found that state to be odious to me.
I thought we'd move near Lubbock because Jessie's family has some connection there. I thought mine did, too, but my Mom tells me we do not. So, I was looking for land in that area and began to look at the laws of the state.
The issues MOST important to me: homebirth (including birthing multiples at home and birthing untraditional presentation, like breech, at home), homeschooling, and building codes. Come to find out: Texas is awesome for homebirthing, homeschooling, AND alternative building! It is legal to homebirth multiples at home. It is legal to birth breech at home. Homeschooling is even easier in Texas than Florida. And, although there are building codes, if you are building in an area that is not incorporated, it is illegal for anyone to come to inspect for those building codes! Those three points sealed the deal for me. I looked for land with focus and determination.
And then Jessie informed me that he thought we should move to East Texas. I asked him if he had an idea of where, since I hadn't asked the first time I heard about Texas and had poorly spent time looking somewhere he wasn't interested in. He told me he thought somewhere east of Dallas, maybe around Tyler. So, I started looking there.
Interestingly, I found recently (in December 2015), that Jessie has a relation buried in Tyler.  Maybe that's why he was so interested in that particular city.
When I asked him why he thought we should go there, he showed me a satellite view of Texas. He pointed out how there was almost a line from south to north where the land became more green toward the east. He said he figured it would be better to be somewhere that was green since we wanted to grow stuff.
And that's how we chose to look for our homeplace in East Texas!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 42: Why We Left Florida

When we bought the house in De Leon Springs, I had a very clear impression... a sure knowledge sort of experience, that we would live there for three to five years and then the Lord would move us. We would make enough from the sale of the house that we would be able to purchase something somewhere else. I had no idea where we would end up, just that we should move. We bought the house for $89,000, I think... or maybe it was 86. Either way, it was a really great deal.
During our four years there, the market went down and then back up. And up enough that we were able to sell it for 145,000. We had a profit of nearly 60,000. With that money, we were able to pay for all the expenses of moving, including our living expenses while we searched for our homeplace.
Backtracking a little... I was absolutely sure we would move sometime after living in the De Leon Springs house for three years or a little more, but less than five. We had to be there for at least three years so that we would not have to repay the incentive money we'd received for buying it when we did. We received nearly 8,000 all at once after we closed on the house and accepted the burden of a mortgage for it. That money was a tremendous blessing because we used it to pay off all of our credit debt.
Your Daddy was not of the same mind as me concerning a move. He did not have the same clear impression or sure knowledge. I didn't argue the point in the early days of our time in that house. But I knew from before we closed on it that house that it was your Daddys' house. Why?
It was a huge house. Showy. Very unusual. That last bit about being unusual is fitting for me, but the other two, not so much. I wasn't too keen on it. Your Daddy loved it before he saw it in real life. The size of the land was a greater priority to me than a huge house.  I wanted a big piece of land. I'd been focusing all my hunting on acreage with trailers because I wanted land so much.
When we went to see the house, his love of it was confirmed and he definitely wanted it. I was okay with that. After we visited it once before the closing, as we pulled out of the driveway, I asked Jessie, "If we're able to close on this house, are you going to be able to see that Heavenly Father has provided us such a huge house so that we would have enough room for eight children?" He said he probably could. Then I asked, "Would you be willing to let us have eight children?" He said that he might be able to, which was a huge change from the negative answers he'd given me before that.
As a result of that interaction, I knew we would close on the house. I knew we would live there. I'm not sure when the knowledge about how long we would live there came, but it was definitely before we moved in completely.
So, Jessie loved that house. He called it his castle. He wanted to paint it to look like it was built with large stones with a dragon on one side of it. He seriously loved that house!!
After we'd lived there a little more than two years, I started to suggest moving. Jessie was not willing to even consider it. Remember, he loved that house!
Many things happened over the course of those few months and eventually he wasn't so fully against the idea. He definitely wasn't FOR moving, yet, either, though!
A little after the three year mark, I started looking at places we might move to... like Montana, Alaska, Minnesota... places up north. I would mention a bit of information about them here and there. Jessie was not at all excited about the prospect of moving to a place where it was seriously cold. I didn't care for the cold, either... I was just looking at places I thought might be conducive to our somewhat "alternative" choices.
I don't know exactly when it happened, but your Daddy agreed to put the house on the market. We thought we should use a real estate agent, so we went with a member of my ward. Neither of us did our own due diligence... and given that this man, whom we hired as our realtor, was an upstanding member of the ward (had been Elder's Quorum President and was in leadership at the time), I thought we could trust him as a man of God. HA! He totally listed our house WAY higher than what anyone would pay in that market just to serve himself and what he wanted to make off of it.  I learned that later and experienced a tremendous shaking of my trust in males (I'd already had plenty before that... but this shake pertained even more specifically to member males).  If I've learned anything it must be this: just because you're Mormon, doesn't mean you're going to do the right thing.  I know that's true for me... I try.  But I also fail.
As it happened, Heavenly Father didn't provide for it to sell. I believe that part of that had to do with the possibility that we were trying to sell too early... and that He wanted that man to learn something from the sale not going through. I do not know if he did. But I sure learned that I could not and would not simply trust anyone... especially a man... who was a member of the church just because he was a member. I'm sure that my experience of being ostracized in that ward was, at least, partially due to that messed up business deal. I truly believe that I am only guilty of trusting too much.
So, after our contract with that realtor expired (which I found out was ridiculous for us to be in, compared to the market in the area), we relisted the house a couple months later on our own. Thankfully, the pictures I'd taken were already up and I was able to utilize them... that saved me a little time. The funny thing is that the realtor told me to take them down and not use them because they had a stamp from his place of employment... thinking that he'd taken them, I guess. But he had not! I had! The gall of that man. grrrr. Obviously not over the emotional side of the betrayal I felt as a result of him seeking his self-interest.
We had only one showing of the house. We may have had a couple calls about it, but I think, really, the only calls were those of the eventual buyers. Mr and Mrs. Hampton. Doug and Anita. I am still so grateful that she fell in love so completely with the house and that he was willing to buy it with her!
There were some delays in the whole process. The closing took about a month longer than any of us expected. But we did close. And, indeed, the delayed process was, of course, a gift from God (for us and hopefully our buyers, too).
The land we eventually bought, our homeplace, was put on the market only 18 days before we found it. If we'd been looking in our new area when we planned to be looking based on our original closing, we may not have found this particular place. And, in reality (contrary to our expectation), it was relatively difficult to find a place that was 10 acres and relatively level AND not under water after heavy rain. Our homeplace was a gem among stones... especially in our price rage, which was, at most, $35,000.
I'll tell you more about all that (and maybe repeat some of the above) in a story about our land. Look for it next week and thereafter.
The main reason I felt like we had to leave Florida is that it is illegal to homebirth multiples in Florida. It is also illegal to homebirth breech presentation in Florida. Because I believe homebirth is the ONLY way to go for both (and singles, too), I felt very uneasy about staying in Florida much past EmJ's birth.

Amazingly and interestingly, we learned only after moving away from Florida that there was a law up for voting to make living off-grid illegal in Florida.  Sickeningly it passed.  We live off-grid in many ways and had a desire to do so long before we moved away.  Interesting, yes?

There are a few stories I've already shared about our time in transition:
Our Move: Van Living

Van Living
Last for the Van Living Series (at time of publishing this post, the story is not yet posted, but you can search for it!)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday Soliloquy 41: Why I Chose Homeschooling

These stories are about my life as I have seen, felt, and lived it. Most of the time I write about "my" children simply because they are mine and this is MY story. This story is in kind. This is about why I chose homeschooling. Since this is one of those good things about which my children's Daddy and I had much heated debate (he was against it in the beginning), it is my not-so-humble-opinion that my reasons for choosing homeschooling are the most important. I encourage my children to ask their Daddy why he chose homeschooling and decide what they think.  Of course, he's likely not to remember that he was pitted against me on this subject.... ahwell.  As for the rest of you... you probably don't know my husband and if you want to... well, probably tough luck.  lol
So... homeschooling.
When I was younger, I saw it as something only weirdos did. Why? Well, because my Mom's twin sister and her husband homeschooled my cousins and they were "weird".  In reality, they were sweet, smart, and very religious. My family has been bound under a generational curse pertaining to a belief of lack and another pertaining to a belief of worthlessness (definitely on both sides, so including my Mom's family). This is totally pertinent because these two curses have worked much trauma in both lines of my family. In my Mom's side, in particular, I can see very clearly among her siblings and her own behavior (mostly my Uncles and my Mom) lots of competition.
I have attempted to teach, my children, that competition is only ever encouraged by the devil. Yes, I believe, even competition against oneself. If you are trying to be better than you were, perhaps it is more appropriately phrased: I'm inspired to become better than I was. To say: I'm competing with myself so that I will be better than I was is putting yourself in opposition to yourself. Words are so powerful. I have used them far more poorly and unwisely than I ever thought I would or could. I pray my children will be and do better than me... because, as I repeat so often to them: "You ARE better than me!  Do better than me!"
My Aunt V and Uncle J homeschooled their six children. My Mom, seemed to seek opportunity to denigrate their choice. She cited their poor spelling as one example. There were many others. I choose not to remember them... not even sure why that one came so readily to my mind, but it did. The fact of the matter is one that my Mom either wasn't aware of or didn't want to acknowledge: there are gaps in any education. One of the largest and most horrible in that of public schooled children (I was one, so I'm speaking about myself here... as well as anyone else) is that of true socialization. That means that Public Schooled children don't have the ability to socialize naturally... with those of any age: both younger and older, the way that homeschooled children could potentially do with much greater ease.
Most of my life, I heard negative stuff about homeschooling. Basically, children who were homeschooled ended up being totally weird. They couldn't relate to their peers... or similar... which I now see and know to be nonsense.
And then I began to meet folks who I found out were homeschooled. And each one of them blew my assumptions, presumptions, and expectations OUT of the water.
Danny Mark Donny-Clark is one of the first kids I KNEW was homeschooled. And, as he compared himself to his siblings, he was the stupid one. Well, I must tell you, he was FAR from stupid! And his knowledge and intelligence was both deep and wide in fascinating ways. I will not claim to have depth or breadth in any of the ways the homeschooled young adults or adults I've known have had.
I also met his brother, Kerry. He was also amazingly intelligent, well-read, and had SO much experience in/of life already. He was younger than me when I met him (I was 24), but he'd LIVED so much more!
I met another homeschooler during my first year as a teacher. This time a young lady.
And then I began to see them... there was something DIFFERENT about homeschoolers. Now, I describe this difference as a purity of countenance. It happens to stick on LDS youth more than many, but even they tend to lose it by adulthood. But homeschooled adults don't seem to lose it. Or perhaps many do and I just haven't met them. That's very possible.
Every homeschooled person I met in my adult life has been fascinating to me. So much smarter than I think of myself (and I do like to think I'm smart), more widely read than me, more broadly understanding of so many things... they are just better human beings in many ways (and of course, in my opinion).
Somehow, though, prior to my marriage to my husband, I didn't consciously consider homeschooling for my own children. Sad, but true. This is a principle that is true among humans: we do not consider doing differently than we had done to us unless something glaringly obvious happens to us to teach us how wrong the status quo is or was. And then we may question and come to new conclusions.
My glaringly obvious incident is as follows: I was a teacher as Rosemont Middle School in Norfolk, Virginia. My first year in the role as sixth grade English teacher, I had one of the worst groups of children to come through in years. (I was informed of this by a few veteran teachers.) The whole experience was pretty horrible. But one in particular caused me to re-evaluate public school and turn away from it as an option for any of my children. Basically, I ended up in a tug-of-war with a very unruly child who was also very angry. He was supposed to be outside of the room and going to the office of a vice principal. He would not and we played tug-of-war with the door. He also pushed me in my preggie belly, which caused me great concern for my Ria (though I didn't know she was who she was at the time).
After that experience, I told Jessie we would not send any of our children to public school. I acknowledge that there may come a time when it could happen. I doubt it, but it could happen. I cannot foresee clearly enough to know much of anything about the future for sure. As I grow older and learn more, I learn that truth with increasing surety.
So, I began homeschooling Ria just as soon as I could. Probably around 6 months old, maybe earlier considering sign language. Sixth months old is when I incorporated flash cards of numbers and textured shape thingys she could hold while I repeated ad nauseam what the shape was called. Why did I do this?
Well, Ria's Daddy was completely and totally opposed to homeschooling. He was pitted strongly against it and thus, me. So, I felt it necessary to prove to him how awesome homeschooling would be for our child and future children so that he would stand with me, rather than against me.
I praise the Lord for a brief conversation I had with Sister Stubbs (mother of eight, I think) who I sat near at a Relief Society dinner. I think I had Ria with me. I'm sure we talked about all things pertaining to little ones and I'm sure I shared about how I was homeschooling or going to homeschool my children. However it happened, she shared with me the title: How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I purchased that title just as soon as I could manage it and began working with Ria when she was 3. Sister Stubbs son had been reading before he was 4, so surely Ria would, too. I'm sure I did it wrong. Honestly. The way a Mother of 8, with her last child, would interact with said child is very different, I'm sure (given my own experiences), than the way I did with Ria. Too much pressure from me. Too ridiculous of expectations (which has long been a problem I have only recently realized - writing Feb. 13, 2015).
Ria was not reading before she was 4. But she was reading WHEN she was 4! And reading very well and independently before she was 5. By the time I had Tea (third daughter), Ria was able to reliably and correctly read most any children's book I might get from the library and she often did read to Kat. What a tremendous blessing to me!
This was the thing that turned my children's Daddy's heart to homeschooling and changed his mind.
I did all of the difficult first lessons with Ria. I got her to the end of the book, but not finished with it. Then I asked her Daddy to help me by doing a lesson with Ria. I didn't need the help.  I wanted him to see the proof in the puddin', as it were.  He had to read the directions in the beginning of the book to prepare himself. He did so reluctantly... he doesn't like to be told to do anything... especially not by me. But he did read the necessary instructions. Then he did a lesson with Ria.
He was flabberghasted. Our little adorable Ria was reading! She was probably at one of the lessons in which the transition to the completely normal roman alphabet is not complete, and he would've asked about that. And I would've shown him how the transition happens. Regardless of those details, her Daddy was so super impressed with how well Ria was reading that he became a homeschool advocate. I'm very glad for it and have been ever since.
More recently, he has expressed concern that our children are not doing more structured lessons. I have not attempted to share unschooling ideology with him because he would probably freak out more than he already has without the explanation. But I have, from the very beginning, felt magnetically drawn to that form of homeschooling. However, I think, at this point, that my goal is really unstructured homeschooling more than unschooling because the latter means the parents don't direct or tell the children what to do at all. I believe this is a form of neglect, in a way... and I disagree with it and will not implement it. However, we are very unstructured right now and have been since our move to Texas.
We have our homeschool books and supplies out and the children work with them regularly.  I did take my time with that because I desired to make sure to give my children adequate time to play on our land... to learn from the world around them! To learn how to enjoy themselves with each other. I believe these lessons are the most important for right now.
Basically, though, for my part, we are homeschooling our children because I know they are better than me. So I want to give them the opportunity to BE better than me. As a result of the experiences of my life, I believe that homeschooling affords the greatest opportunity to realize my hopes and dreams for my children. And it sure does feel nice to know that I am, in part, directly responsible for the sweet, smart, well-read, and healthy children that my children are and amazing human beings they are on their way to becoming! I would be even if they went to public school... it's just even more because we homeschool!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Satuday Soliloquy 40: Curses a poem

I love my Dad.
I used to think he was bad.
Not a good Father...
just a big bother.

But then I came to understand
that he was doing his best with the band
constricting and binding his mind, heart, spirit and hand...
and he didn't know to demand
that it release and submit, the whole strand.

I can see the bonds and yet they remain.
My hands bound and upon them a stain.
I see what he could not, yet I did, him, blame.
One cannot put out a fire if onecannot perceive the flame.
Yet I see and know the heat and it still burns as my shame.
My efforts puny to end the curse and break the chain.

Formed over generations the curses were made.
A debt in heart, mind, body and spirit laid.
I could never be enough to get this debt paid.
And I lack understanding of how to access the cooling shade
of our perfect provider and Savior who bade
consume of Him for all debts have been prepaid.
Yet still I struggle to cut loose with a dull blade.

My Savior has already done the work
through the Atonement, it's a huge perk
of being human, the gift was given if I will not shirk,
to accept it fully and no longer lurk
in the shadows of believing myself to be a jerk.
The weight of generations is enough to make anyone berserk.
Yet I hold on to past sin, pain, and other merk...
Rather than release it to God and let Him do his work.

Show me how.
To release the curses past and my sin of now.
I would be a new me, If I did I'd vow
to become new with a sprinkle of fairy dust and a magical POW.
But that's silliness, I know, holy cow!
I just want to be new, Father. It's been here all the while. Wow!
Please, Lord, before Thee, I bow.

December 5, 2014

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