Sunday, January 17, 2010

The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray

I've figured out the main reason I don't blog often. It's not that I don't have lots of ideas for entries. I do. It's not that I couldn't find time to write. I could. The real reason is that I want to have an idea fully fleshed out before I write about it. I am sure that is silly. In fact, I know that most bloggers use the actual writing as a way to develop an idea. My problem is that I want to know where an entry is going before I even start it.

I guess that could be a problem in other aspects of my life as well. I am a planner. If I don't have a plan I feel scared. It makes me nervous, and if forced to operate without a pan for too long I actually get sick. The rational me knows that sometimes it is a good idea to "fly by the seat of your pants", but I really have a hard time sticking to that. I can't tell you how many times I have decided that I should be more spontaneous. Yes, I see the absurdity of planning to be more spontaneous.

The problems with over-planning involve a couple things. Of course, there is the problem of missing out on new things because I have already planned something else. I think that I have done an ok job over the past few years combating that one. I am much more flexible than I was a few years ago. I credit that to being a Mom. My girls, so often, find amazing opportunities. They are so amazing that I know we can't pass them up (even if it means adjusting my precious plan.) This flexibility has created a new problem that I can't seem to shake. Even though I am happy to add new things to my plan as they are presented, I can't let go of the planned activities. The result is that I end up feeling stressed as I try in vain to "stick to the plan". Eventually I end up feeling like a failure.

This tends to be especially true with the girls' school. I have what I think are very realistic goals for them. The plan is for them to do math and language arts (writing for Kali, reading for Claire) five days a week. I do have "curriculums" for other subjects, but they are used to supplement the life learning. The problem ends up being that as I try to be flexible to allow lots of opportunities for life learning we often have less that five days to devote to math and language arts. As much as I believe that real life learning is absorbed better than artificial desk learning I still can't let go of the plan when it comes to skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic. This results in school sometimes being less than the euphoric experience I imagined when I decided to homeschool the girls.

So once I again I am planning to be more spontaneous. To help me in this endeavour I looked up a few quotes about chilling out.

"Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans." John Lennon

"Expect the best, plan for the worst, and be prepared to be surprised." Denis Waitley

"In preparing for battle I have found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Dwight Eisenhower

"Those who plan do better than those who do not plan even though they rarely stick to their plan." Winston Churchill

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Darwin

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year...

Well,I am a little late on posting a new year update. In fact, the new year didn't really begin in the way I was hoping. My Gramps dies on January 2nd after having broken his hip a week earlier. I know that he had an amazingly long (and eventful) life. In fact,you could almost say that he had several lifetimes. He was a child in Brush Creek Tennessee. His family were sharecroppers, and he began working the land at a very young age. He also got married when he was quite young, but we don't really know what happened to that marriage. As a young adult he joined the Army, and fought in WWII. He was on the communications team. His job was to sneak in and run communication lines before the combat teams arrived. He helped lay the lines at Normandy! It was very dangerous work, and in fact he lost his hearing in one ear (and a good friend) when his fox hole blew up. The war wasn't all bad for Gramps though. I am sure we could fill a whole book with the escapades of (the alias he gave all the European women he wooed). After the war he came home and married Margaret. They moved to Illinois where they could find work. Then when they couldn't have children, they adopted my Mom. The real story is that my Gramps brought my Mom home as a present for his wife. Unfortunately, Margaret struggled with mental illness, and because of this she always wondered if my Mom was actually Gramps illegitimate child (which she was not). It was a rough patch of time for my Gramps, as he tried to protect my Mom from Margaret, but it formed a close bond between my Mom and Gramps. Eventually, Margaret succumbed to her illness and committed suicide. Shortly after that my Mom became an adult, and Gramps decided to move back to Tennessee. Once again he took to wooing the woman, and it seems he had quite a good time partying for a few years. Eventually, he met another woman to settle down with. She was a widow with a 10 year old son, and 2 grown daughters. Gramps married RosieLee and tried to raise the son. He and RosieLee stayed married for 27 years. Toward the end RosieLee was dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Gramps took care of her faithfully even when she became combative. Eventually she too died, and Gramps was once again a widower. By this point he was in his mid 80's, and my mom was able to convince him to come live with her. He was suffering from severe artery blockages, and it took some time for my Mom to nurse him back to health. The past 6+ years have been spent living with my parents. He got joy from spoiling their dog, doing circle the word puzzles, watching Wheel of Fortune (and beating everyone), and playing with my kids. I would venture to say that getting to be with the kids is a big reason he survived so long. So as you can see, he had quite a ride. Even so, the abruptness of his death is hard. We should be thankful that he didn't have a long painful death (and we are), but we didn't really have time to prepare ourselves for it. At any rate, I personally am thankful that my children got to really know their Great Grandfather, and her really was a GREAT Grandfather.

Well, this turned into a tribute to Gramps. I have more to say about the new year, but I think I will save that for another post.

Happy New Year Gramps!!! We miss you...