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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Ready to Chat a Bit

I have had lots of stuff going on lately, but I think I am finally ready to chat a bit about it.

I guess I will just be random because life doesn't really happen in any particular order, does it?

I have been working a lot.  That has mostly been good.  We have had to restructure and change our routines around home, but my kids are fantastic and just go with the flow.  Man, they are helpful (most of the time).   Rainman has really stepped up and is handling a lot more of the teaching responsibilities (which is a relief and also sort of hurts my feelings....LOL.  Women!  Right?  As my dad always used to say....women are inscrutable.)

I used to make fun of this other homeschool mom I knew that had her kids call her by her first name, Betsy...not mom.  When I asked her about it, she said that when she became a mom, she didn't want to lose her "Betsy-ness", so that is what they did.  She was this fantastic fun homeschool mom that was adventurous, nurturing, and not afraid to get messy with the kids.  There was a piece me of that wished I was more like her and not so structured in our homeschooling.  But, I just could not wrap my head around her wanting her kids not to call her mom.  It was weird.

However, I sort of get it now.  Sort of.  Now that I am working and doing a few things just for me again, I am getting a bit more of my "Kayla-ness" back....so I get that aspect of it.  But, the most important part of me is still being mom to my 6 kids. So, they had better still call me mom.  (Hear that, A-girl?)

I have had two true close friends since moving to Georgia.  I do have other friends...but Debbie and Sherri were, in the words of Anne of Green Gables, my "bosom friends".

Debbie was on her way to meet me last July and was hit by someone who ran a stop sign. After a long hard battle, she finally succumbed to her injuries in December.  It was and is heartbreaking.  I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone and chat before I remember that I can't.  I miss her.  In the words of Forest Gump....that is all I have to say about that.....

Sherri got a fantastic job offer in....Ohio.  She and I can still chat on the phone and text, but I know I will miss our occasional 3 hour face-to-face chats when one of us just needed to vent and process something out loud.  I miss her.

So, I am bosom friend-less here.  I have a lot of kind, nice people in my circle, but those were the two that knew most everything about me and loved me anyway.  The two that I could really be my true, authentic, weird self with.  It has been hard.  I don't really want to go out and try to make new bosom friends.  Ugg.  I can remember when we moved down  here when I realized that I actually had to put some work in and be more up front and bold and actually pursue friendships....just like in elementary school.  I don't want to.  LOL

The other big thing I have been doing is working on losing weight.  I am down 50 pounds, so far.....still a bunch to go....but, man it feels good to start to see the old me coming out from behind the bulk.  It is good to try on clothes and not completely hate how I look (not completely....).  I wear make-up more often.  I were jewelry.  I even spritz on a little perfume every now and then.  Crazy stuff, I tell you.

I have also been singing.  I joined a 60s soul band back in October and last month, I auditioned for a swing band as a lead vocalist and got it.  I am in heaven.  Those of you who have known me for more than a few years, know that singing used to be my life.  I even tried to sing as a career once upon a time (before I realized just how many other great singers there are in the world).  I sent out a lot of demo tapes, did a lot of weddings and funerals, but that was pretty much the extent of my "musical career".  Then I met Rainman, had a bunch of babies....and had little people that would literally tell me to stop singing when I would burst into song around them.  LOL  True story.

A few years ago, I did start singing in the contemporary praise band at my church where I would once in a while be assigned a song that really let me shine a bit and made me feel like I was a real singer again, but mostly it was just singing on key and blending in with the group.

I have to admit that I am super excited about the swing band.  I have been listening to big band music since way before it was cool.  I have loved artists like Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, and Peggy Lee since I was in my 20s.  Rainman came with me to my audition (strange date night, but it is what you do when you have a bunch of kids).  My audition was literally to sing 3 songs (Summertime, Orange Colored Sky, and Sentimental Journey) during their concert set (cold turkey - without ever rehearsing with them)  at an assisted living home.  There were maybe 15-20 or so people there, which was about the same number as there were in the band....give or take....people would wheel themselves in at out occasionally.  Somehow, I wasn't super nervous....even though I have never practiced with these guys.  I just hoped and prayed that I could still remember how to count and came in at the proper entrances.

I did good.

We practiced a few songs at a rehearsal after the concert and I messed up a few times....nothing major....but mistakes.  The band was kind....even though they really know their stuff.  I am rusty, with a capital R.  One time, one of the trombone players, who is a former band/choir director was shouting at me from his spot....that I was 2 bars off....and telling me....come in here.  Embarrassing, but true.  LOL

The cutest thing may have been Rainman's reaction to the whole thing.  He was so excited for me.  So sweet and complimentary.  He sat there with a huge smile on his face the whole concert.  Afterwards, he said he was so wrapped up in how good we were that he forgot to film.  He also talked about ways to make my involvement in the band easier with the kids and everything.  He even realized that I would need some new clothes for performances and told me not to worry about money.  He even....now this is big people.....offered to take the day off...for our first gig in March.  That is almost an unheard of offer from him.  Really.

Even though I am....in my 50s now....there is a piece of me that feels like I am back in my 20s....kind of figuring out the trajectory of my life again.  The feeling is both exhilarating and terrifying.  Oh well.  It is life.









Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Changing Times...Changing Me....

I have two children in college now and only four at home.  It stills feels weirdly small and empty around here.

This past weekend I only had two children home, because two were in college and another two were at a church retreat.  Weird.  Weird.  Weird.  One of those children worked Saturday from about 4:30 to midnight,  and Rainman worked until 9:00 or so, so I was home alone with one child.  One.  Crazy.

I feel a bit like I am coming out the other side of a mid-life crisis that I didn't even know I was having.

You have seen me on here for a few years.  I had gained weight....a lot of weight.  I had let myself go.  I had given up.  I was sort of living life for the people that I was surrounded with...which is something all moms do....but, somehow I got lost in there, in a completely unintentional way.  I was quiet, subdued and really fat.

Things have changed.  I have started trying again and don't plan to give up anymore.  I am trying to say yes to stuff for me.  Just me.  Without feeling selfish and like I am the worst mom/wife/Christian in the world.

The first thing that has changed is I have given up sugar and flour and have lost 20 pounds thus far.  I still have a whole person yet to lose, but it feels weirdly doable....and not as horrific as I had imagined it would.

There is a sculpture of a woman chipping away at her fat self to reveal the thin person underneath....that is what it sort of feels like for me.  I will go see if I can find it.

Image result for thin woman inside sculpture
(By Brazilian sculptor, Gabriel D. Orazio)

Other changes around here are that my extra little people that I have been watching for 3 years now, don't need me as much because their mom has been able to go to part-time work (a long time desire of hers!).  I am thrilled for her to get to be with her babies, but sad that I am not such a large part of their lives anymore.  It left a hole physically and financially for me.

Enter my friend, T.....first a little background.  When we first moved to Georgia, we moved in next door to a single mom, named T, with two kids a little older than ours.  I am sure she was shocked when this clan of Minnesota speaking blond haired people moved in to her nice, quiet neighborhood!  But, she was so sweet and actually had 5 of the kids over to her house so Rainman and I (and tiny baby V-girl) could celebrate our anniversary with Chinese take-out at home the first year we lived here.  That was huge.  Because one of the hardest parts of the move was not having grandparents/aunts/uncles to handle the babysitting duties for these kinds of things.

If you have been reading my blog or know me in real life, you know we obviously moved away from T, but she and I kept in touch - mostly via Facebook.  She and her husband (she got remarried while we were still living next door to sweet, quiet J)....and recently decided to buy a new business.  The kids and I helped them unpack boxes and get inventory on the shelves and then wished them good luck and went back to our lives. 

About a month ago, I saw a Facebook ad for a job at her company and I gave her a call. She and I talked it over and found a lot of it can be done remotely and she hired me!  I can still homeschool, watch my extra kids, go to doctor/dentist appointments and still help ease T's load a bit.  So far, I think it has been a win/win.

Here it is, if you want to take a look:  www.dirtcheapchristianwear.com

Seriously, cute stuff and...ahem....dirt cheap!

It has been a weird mixed bag of blessings for me.  The financial rewards are super helpful as we have to dig out from some debt....again.  Ugg.  I will admit it was scary at first....dealing with things when I hardly had a clue of what I was supposed to be doing.  But, I think I have done quite well.  It reminded me that I used to be a very good Executive Secretary back before babies.

One of the things that I think gets lost when moms stay home with their kids....is that sense of accomplishment that we are actually good at something.  I can't really explain it, but it feels good.  I will admit that working 30+ hours a week at this job is somewhat stressful.  I am also still working for my old Minnesota company doing minutes for Council meetings too.  So, I am working well over 40 hours a week, but both jobs are flexible enough for me to be here at home (my favorite place to be) and teach the kids.

I have done two other things just for me this fall.  I joined a band.  Two of my musician friends from church joined this band last January and have been asking me to join on and off since then.  But, I could never make the rehearsals work with all the stuff going on with the kids lives.  So, I kept saying no.  They asked again at the end of August/early September and had changed rehearsal to one of my "easier" nights to be away from everyone.  So, I said yes.  I am mostly a back-up singer because the other female singer (single, no kids) actually joined the band last January.  It is a super fun and talented group.  We even have a horn section!  We do a bit of soul and rhythm and blues.  I am hoping to get out of the back-up singer box and do a little swing/standard type stuff (Rosemary Clooney, old Doris Day, Peggy Lee) one of these days.

I will admit to having a little mental health struggle with being the old, middle aged fat mom, singing back-up for the young girl with the nose ring (who is super sweet and not a diva - it would be a little easier if I could hate her....but I can't!  Ha!).  One of the wives of the band members came up to me at our first concert and said, "You must be the new backup singer!"  My heart sort of dropped.  I wanted to be considered one of the singers, but I am not.

It is a total ego thing.

I know I need to let go of it, but if I am honest it really sort of stinks.  I am feeling insecure in my talent and don't feel like I have shown the rest of the band what I am capable of....partly because I am coming to the game late and they had already picked all the songs....and the keys.....but partly because it is something that I have always struggled with.  It is a total roller coaster ride and I realize how whiny I may be sounding, but ever since I was little, I would get lots of compliments and people telling me I should be on the radio and make a living with my voice.  I sent out demo tapes and auditioned for a few things in my early 20's, but there were no takers....so, I thought maybe those people were wrong.  But, I still get some of those kinds of compliments today when I sing in church.  So, in my head, I thought maybe this was finally going to be "it" and I was going to get to answer those people from my past that ask what I am up to by legitimately being able to say ...."I sing in a band!".  "I sing back-up in a band", just doesn't sound as good, you know?  LOL.  But, I am not giving up.  I am going to keep singing.  Keep showing up.  Keep trying and, hopefully show them a song that is perfect for my voice and move out of the back-up box and into co-lead singer.

One other thing I have done is auditioned for some voice over work.  I have made the second round of auditions and had to submit a recording of one of their scripts.  If I get this job (which I can also do from home), I will be recording the voice over scripts for tutorials on their website.  I think I would be really good at this and even told the kids after I listened to myself, that I would hire me.  I think I sound friendly, approachable and professional.  So, we shall see.  I am proud of myself for trying and not talking myself out of it or downgrading my possible talent in this area.  (Michelle B. I am ...thanking you or blaming you.... because whenever I read in Sunday School, you always compliment me on my voice and say you could listen to me all day!)

Let's see...what else?  Oh, I went back to my natural blond hair.  Red was WAAAAAAY too hard to keep up with and I am not high maintenance enough to make a go of it.  I definitely feel more like myself now and like I belong with my little tow-headed offspring.

Here is a picture of me with my new hair right before my band's gig.  (See how cool I sound?  We had a gig! LOL)


And, yes....I totally look like the mother of the bride, but it was the best I could do.  I don't have a lot of call for performance clothing in my life.  Maybe that will change, but for now this is what I had that I could dig out from the back of the closet.

Okay, that is it.  That is my update on me.  I will fill you on on kid stuff soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A New Year

This summer was kind of a blur.  Some fun things, like lots of time in the pool and a few visits from family members from afar. 
(My mom and my younger sister)

Some not so fun things, one friend moving away, another friend in a horrible car accident (be praying for Debbie), and also a mini mental health flip out/break down by me.  (I may or may not tell you details, but I am thinking my feelings/reasons are probably fairly common among middle aged mothers)

Then, on July 31st, L-girl started her junior year in the local public high school.


This same week, D-man left to spend a week in Washington D.C. for a conference and then on  August 8th, moved back to his apartment on campus.



On August 10th, L-girl and A-man left for a 3 day leadership retreat.

On August 11th, we moved A-girl onto her campus - not the same one as D-man.


 It was very strange not to have the whole gang there to move her in and say goodbye...and somehow with less people there, I still managed to forget to get a picture of she and I.  (Oops.)  The drive home was even weirder with only 2 kids.  We were like a "normal" family driving down the road in our mini van!

We are down to a 4 kid household and let me tell you it feels very strange.  It is very quiet.  Even though the two oldest are not exactly our wildest/loudest children.  Somehow their absence makes it very, very quiet around here. 

We started our homeschool year yesterday.  We still have three doing school at home.  (I will be honest, I would like to continue homeschooling through high school.  I suspect I am going to be outvoted though.)

Rainman and I are doing things a bit differently this year and I think it is going to work out well.  We have actually divided the subjects, so he will officially teach/be in charge of some and I will officially teach/be in charge of some.  We didn't do a good job of co-teaching/communicating last year and things got lost in the shuffle.  His work schedule has changed in that he is off most Mondays and Tuesdays and most of his other shifts are from noon to 8 p.m. so he will have plenty of time to teach.  He does work a few 7 to 7 shifts, but, I don't think that will mess things up too much.

I am actually excited for the school year.  I think it is fairly rare in the homeschooling realm to have a husband/dad that actually wants to teach and be involved in the day to day things connected with our school.  Rainman has gotten more and more interested and involved every year.  But, what I think has happened in the last few years is that I have felt a little pushed aside by his interest and his own excitement to teach.  He is the kind of person that jumps in with both feet and doesn't test the waters.  So, he ended up jumping past me and took off swimming with the kids at his side, while I was still carefully hanging onto the railings and climbing into the water.  They unintentionally left me behind.

I mean, I was still involved, but it was more often than not having work delegated and assigned to me by Rainman.  Like, "Make sure they read this chapter."  "Here is the science quiz."  "Study the capitals with them before they take the test."   If you know me at all, you know I really don't like people telling me what to do....even if I am married to that person.  Or maybe I should say, especially if I am married to that person!  Ha!

Gone were the days of me  designing our days and taking off for a fun field trip to get donuts or popsicles, just because I felt like it or something meshed with my lesson plans.  Instead, I spent quite a bit of time just waiting for someone to need me and then when they did, having to catch up and figure out what they had been working on with Rainman because I wasn't as involved in the nitty gritty details of what they were learning.  Kind of hard to explain.

But, anyway this year, we are splitting the course work.  We are each creating our own lesson plans for the kids.  I will still have to see how I can work on the spontaneous field trips that won't interfere with Rainman's  school day plans.  But, I am more excited for this year of school than I have been for quite a while.  I am hoping that our two approaches and teaching styles will help our kids become even more well rounded in their education.  We shall see, I guess.