Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Finding my joy in little green army men

I just had a moment that almost brought me to my knees. I've been in a funk lately. I'm too tired, too lethargic, too stressed, too unmotivated, procrastinating everything and generally feeling crappy. I've been feeling like there's just too much to do, my house is always a mess, I'm always behind, etc. etc.

I was walking through my room, making the pile of unfolded laundry a slightly more organized pile, and looking around at the army men, pencils and markers, books, and hand-sewn pillows that are currently cluttering my floor. My first thought was to be annoyed - why do they have to leave their crap all over MY floor too? It's bad enough that their rooms are messy, the upstairs is messy, the kitchen is messy. Why here too? This is my room, damnit.

And then it hit me and it brought me to tears. I have kids making a mess.

I have kids.

I didn't always know I'd have kids because for several years, we couldn't seem to manage it. Have I forgotten those days, when I prayed for them? Has it been so long that I don't remember? How can I forget those morning drives to work, my heart full of prayers for a baby? How can I lose the sense of despair I felt, not knowing if I would ever be a mother? How can I forget what it was like to want something so desperately that I would have done anything, paid anything, to have it?

I have it now. And damn, but I've been taking it for granted lately.

My life is not so hard that I need to walk around in a cloud of meloncholy. I mean, really. Yes, my life is sometimes chaotic, and almost always messy. But really, would I give up the mess? Would I trade in those precious, precious little people for more order, for less responsibility, for more time? Oh hell no.

God hit me over the head with that one, and what's funny is, I've been asking Him to do it. I've been asking Him to remind me, to help me find my joy.

I found it in some little green army men.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why I love planning

It is no secret to those who know me well that I love to plan. I'm lucky enough to be a planner with flexibility, so when plans change, I'm cool with it. That just means I get to replan! Bonus! Plus, being married to a man who is basically the incarnation of chaos, planning can never be rigid, not in my world.

Homeschooling has given me innumerable ways to indulge my planning urges. There are SO many resources, ideas, books, and curricula options, it makes my head spin. With three kids to plan for, since next year I'll have a 3rd grader, a 1st grader and a little preschooler who really wants to "do school" with Mommy, I have to sort through the options, thinking about what has worked well for us, what hasn't, my kids' learning styles and preferences, and my goals for them, as well as my teaching style.

I love reading through homeschooling blogs, reviews, curricula descriptions, and booklists. I love sorting through the possibilities, taking notes, making lists and coming up with plans. It's like crack to me.

It occurred to me tonight, as I spend a wild and crazy Saturday pouring over ideas for next year, why that is - why I love planning so much.

Everything is perfect in the plan.

There is no whining in the plan. There are no interruptions, potty breaks, snacks, spilled cups of water, glue squirted all over the floor or newly potty trained 3-year-olds needing help with their panties in the plan. In my imagination, my ideas all work remarkably well; miraculously well, in fact. My plans flow smoothly, preparation isn't a problem and implementation is effortless. Ah, how lovely the planning stage is.

The reality is, naturally, quite different from my plans. And that's ok too. Reality is a lot messier, takes more time, definitely includes some whining, and basically doesn't turn out the way I want.

I know this, and I'm cool with it.

But I do need to keep in mind, as I plan, to keep things fluid and flexible enough to allow the plans to fall apart when they need to. I need to be ok with scrapping my plans and starting over when things aren't working. I tend to want to pour over every single possible option so I know I'm making the best choice possible (and I do this with so many things - you should see me shop for shoes). It's like I'm afraid I will find out later there was something better and regret my decision. But I can't always predict how things will work in our homeschool (or how the shoes will fit). Sometimes things work out the way I expect, but very often, they don't. That can be hard to deal with, when you've bought curricula, or purchased books or have a well laid out lesson plan that just isn't working. I've been there, and I'm still basically a newbie homeschooler.

I'll continue to research and plan like crazy, because what can I say, I can't help myself. My challenge is to keep reality in perspective as I do so, which will hopefully make my planning time more productive - or at least more likely to result in a good learning experience for all of us here in our little school.