Monday, December 21, 2015

#tryinghardtolikeithere

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you know that I've started a campaign to try to like Boulder more than I do.  It is an effort to see the beautiful things about where I live and not only focus on how shitty life has been since we moved here.  (I apologize for the cursing.  Sometimes it really is the best way to say something.)  If only for my own sanity, I'd like to take a blog post to try to make sense of it all.  I know there are people in Boulder who are offended by the fact that it's not my favorite place on earth but I wish those people would take the time to understand why I feel this way instead of getting upset about it.  It's not personal.


We've lived in Boulder for 5.5 years.  Five and a half mostly horrible years.  Oh there have defiinitely been some really amazing things too but mostly it has just been hard.  

When we left Boise we were pretty certain that our time there was done.  That chapter had ended and we were on the brink of a new, exciting one.  It was our first big decision as a married couple.  It really felt like the true start of our life together.  Moving away from home.  Only having each other to rely on.  All the good stuff.  And really it did start out ok.  Rich found a job right away, just down the street from our house.  I made fast friends with the other students in my grad program.  We were only 6 hours away from my parents one direction and 6 hours from our awesome friends in Moab the other way (you know who you are). We found a church almost immediately.  It wasn't home, but it seemed to be working out.  



After a few months, however, we realized that we had walked right into fire.  No, not the actual forest fire that burned up most of one canyon just outside of town in 2010, but a massive, blazing, spiritual and emotional fire.  

It sounds so stupid to say it now because it all seems so stereotypical.  Of course moving away from home and family and friends and sweet jobs would be hard.  Maybe we were just blind-sided by how hard that actually turned out to be.  (Even as I write this I'm unsure of how much detail to include so if it seems disjointed and weird, that's because it is.)



Grad school knocked me off my feet.  If you've been there, you know.  Rich's job was mostly good but the pay wasn't always consistent and the owner jerked him around a lot with false hopes that it would turn into more than it was.  It never did.  He was ousted in a certain shady chain of events.  And though it was difficult the timing was really quite fortuitous because he had just finished culinary school so a job change was already in the cards.  



So then it was a new job that was more than an hour away, deciding that the best thing for the girl was to start homeschooling which meant me quitting my job, Rich working seven days a week to try to make ends meet.  And marriage struggles.  And daughter drama (oh my goodness, the daughter drama).  And trying to make changes and having every single thing fall through.  And trying to move away over and over.  And trying to move home over and over.  And being let down by those closest to us.  And feeling like it's really hard to make friends.  And more daughter drama.  And not being able to move forward in life.  And even Rich getting a job closer to home, which is AWESOME, only to have them cut his hours and be extremely inconsistent with him.  And constantly thinking that this next thing, whatever it may be, would be our ticket out of here or at least some reprieve from the burning, only to find out that it was actually just more fuel to the fire.  



"Is that water?!? Yay!!! Water!! Finally!!!  NO!  IT'S NOT WATER!  IT'S ACTUALLY MORE FIRE!!"

Yeah, that's pretty much been our life here.



Deep down in my heart I know that if/when we make it through all of this we'll be so much stronger.  So much closer.  So much wiser.  Braver.  And one hundred million other good things.  But the jaded side of me also wants/has to admit that this could be our life for a really long or maybe forever.  Maybe it's not even the jaded side of me but the realist.  The honest hardest thing about it all is truly believing that moving here and every decision we've made since has been out of genuine obedience and faith in the Lord.  And it feels like it's all blowing up in our faces.  I don't think I'm mad about any of it.  Well, maybe some of it, but over all I think I'm more confused than anything else.  I don't know where to go or how to even get there.  

So that's why I'm trying hard to like it here. I miss my friends.  I miss home.  I miss feeling like I matter to people or like I fit in.  Like I said, we've had some great things happen here too.  We've met some wonderful people and sometimes we actually feel like things could work here.  That was the whole point of the #tryinghardtolikeithere campaign.  To realize that this is where we are.  All of our efforts to leave have been thwarted so let's make every effort to make this home and have it be good.  It's not been easy. But we're trying.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

This Season

To be frank, I do not love the season of life that we're in right now. I don't hate it.  It's by no means the worst that we've gone through.  But I don't like it.  Regardless of how I feel, I thought it would be prudent to jot some things down so that when it's time to look back and see the bigger picture and (hopefully) laugh at it all, we'll have the details.  I wish I was in the mood to make this clever or witty or funny but it just is what it is; the chronicles of a difficult season.

Truth be told, this season has been upon us for so long that I'm not even sure where to start.  Let's just start with this last school year though I would say the real beginning goes much farther back.  Still, it's as good a place as any.  Around September 2014 Rich found out that the company he was working for was being sold and that there would be no place for him with the new owner.  There is a lot more I could say about how that whole situation went down but I'm certain that my word choice would not be appropriate reading material.  I'll just say that it was extremely unfortunate and disappointing.  It was, however, fortuitously timed because it was right as Rich was finishing school.  He was able to get a job with as a sous chef in a French bakery with an actual French baker with an opportunity to learn a butt-load about bread.  Tons of upsides.  Downside?  It's in Parker, CO.  Anything else?  The pay is.......well, we're getting by....for the most part.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to not know where Parker, CO is, I'll enlighten you.  It's a solid hour from our house.  SE Denver.  Puke.  But since he was in the process of losing his other job and this one came up, he took it.  Sometimes you just do what you have to do.  But it wasn't easy.  We have 1 car and she's about 100 million years old so the extra wear and tear on her has not been kind.  Not only that but this left Eliana and I stranded at home all winter with only the scooter as a way to get around and while that's all well and good on nice days, it doesn't work out too well when it's cold.  

So there's that piece of it.  Then let's add on the fact that the pay is just ok.  So Rich takes a second job working for the place he did his internship during school.  How many days a week was he working?  Seven.  For how long?  From October 2014 until June 2015.  He had Christmas Day off.  New Year's Day.  And.....That's about it.  This was so hard on him.  On all of us.  I really can't even begin to describe the toll it has taken on us.  3:30 am comes really quickly as it is and it's even worse when there is no weekend to look forward to.

Just a side note, I don't mean for this to sound sad or like I want pity or sympathy or even for anyone to care.  I just want to remember.  I am, however, choosing to leave out the details of other issues that we're going on at the time because it's just too much to even write about.

Finally, over Memorial Day, Rich gets a weekend off.  His first weekend off in 8 months!  Actually he ended up having almost an entire week without work.  It was glorious.  We felt like we could breathe again. Like we could dream again for the first time since moving here.  And the first thing we dreamed about was moving away!  Life here has been really hard and we're just tired.   So we started talking about what we want and ways to make those things happened.  We realized we were tired of fighting so hard to make it work here, and for what?  Nothing that we felt like was enough to convince us to stay.  So that was it.  Decision made.  We were out of here!

I'll spare us all the details but what happened next was dream after dream of leaving that just left us with slammed doors in our faces and broken hopes.  Every attempt to take us away was shot down.  There was no where left to turn.  Every window had closed.  Started looking like maybe leaving Boulder wasn't such a good idea after all.  To be completely honest, I don't know if this was one of those things we should have just pushed harder to make it work or if we did the right thing by taking the hints and backing off.  I really don't know.  We backed off.  And somewhere deep in my heart it feels right.  Even though it was not what we wanted.  It's still not really what we want but it really does seem like we made the right choice.

But now we're stuck again.  Things can't keep going like they are.  To help with the car issue we bought a motorcycle for Rich to commute but that's still not ideal.  It's an '85 Honda Rebel so at top speed he can only just keep up with traffic on the way home.  And being the old girl that she is it's not exactly the smoothest ride.  Almost every bolt has jiggled loose and has had to be replaced along with one of the blinkers and now one of the passenger foot pegs and shaken free somewhere on the interstate.  That will have to be replaced eventually too.  Sure, we're saving some money on gas but it's already getting so cold when we leaves in the morning that we're really not sure how long he can keep it up.  Driving the car again isn't the best option because it puts us in the same situation as before.  And then what if Ole Greeny (our car) breaks down, as old gals are wont to do?  We're in no position to replace her.  And I worry so much about him driving the bike.  Especially so early in the morning when I know he's exhausted.  It's just not the best.  

Another side note: although I worry for his safety, I have to admit that the thought of Rich rallying this old bike with the parts bouncing free behind him is pretty hilarious and actually what prompted me to write this whole thing.  I'm pretty sure that the next thing to go is going to be the front wheel and he'll have to ride a wheely the whole way home.  Epic.

Ideally, Rich would have a job right where we live.  Actually, ideal for us would have been moving away but that didn't end up being an option.  So we're praying.  We're hoping even though after so many slammed doors we're a little gun-shy.   I do feel like we're on the brink of some much-needed change but I'm trying to be realistic too.  We might not yet be at the point of breakthrough.  This road could be a lot longer.  It could get a lot harder.  I don't know what to expect.   And so that's it. This season.  Like I said, I don't like it.  I'm ready, beyond ready, for something to change.  A lot of good has already come from all this and I know that the potential for growth during this time is exponential.  It just doesn't make it fun.






Monday, July 20, 2015

At a loss.

"B...pray for us. Boaz is in heart surgery. I don't know much else beyond that. It's been a terrifying afternoon." 

That was it.  The message said nothing else.  Tears instantly flowed down my cheeks and my throat began choking off my air supply.  

My best friend.  The person who knows me better than anyone.  Who has been with me through everything.  Her newborn, Boaz Ezra Ternes, less than 24 hours old, was not expected to make it through the night.  

I spent the hours from the time she sent me that message until I heard from her again in tears and on the phone with everyone I could think of.  Asking them to pray for them.  Begging God to comfort my friend.  I couldn't even begin to imagine how scared she was.  How her heart must be aching.  

I found out later that they held off on the surgery.  They realized they didn't really know what they were looking at.  So far the CT scan, the MRI, the blood tests have all revealed nothing.

Nothing.

Days later.  And nothing.  He's still on a breathing machine.  He's still not waking.  Everyone I know is praying for them.  Everyone they know is praying for them.  

And still no change.  No answers.  

Now they are saying "global brain damage" but that is about as helpful as saying "we don't know".  

What do you do when God doesn't speak?  How can there be so many people praying for him in Jesus' name and there still is no healing?  

God is holy.  And that's something I'll never understand.  And I'm ok with that.  It all just feels......clouded.

That baby is supposed to be snuggling in his mama's arms.  He's supposed to rouse her every two hours to eat.  She's supposed to be frustrated by the lack of sleep she's getting as she tries to balance a newborn, two-year-old and four-year-old.  She's supposed to wait anxiously for his first smile, first laugh, first word, first step.  He's supposed to exasperate her as a toddler as he gets in to every thing and drives his brothers wild.  They are supposed to fight.  To read books.  To play silly games together.  She's supposed to tire of trying to potty train him.  And of being covered in puke and pee and snot.  Of wondering if those three boys will ever get along.  Will they ever remember all the things she is desperately trying to teach them?  He's suppsed to run to her when he has had a bad dream.  She's supposed to teach him to ride a bike.  To read.  To swim.  To play baseball.  She's supposed to hate him when he's a teenager and going against all the things she's been desperatly trying to teach him.  She's supposed to cry over his moodiness.  His stubbornness.  She is supposed to delight in his learning.  His triumphs.  Come along side him when he's struggling.  Be his counselor.  His doctor.  His teacher.  His coach.  His friend.   They are supposed to have inside jokes.  Shared experiences.  Vacations.  Moments.  Friday night movie nights.  Songs.  Church.  Picnics.  Pool.  Christmas. Birthdays.

But at the end of day, we can't really claim any of these things.  They are not ultimately ours. All our days are numbered in advance.  All we can do is be thankful for the ones we have, feel our hurt deeply, feel love even more so.  Be honest.  Learn from our mistakes.

What else is there really?

All I know is that he is loved.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Handle with care

Today marks the second time since we started homeschooling that Eliana has packed a bag with the intention of running away.  I'm not sure if I should count this as a success that it's only happened twice (high fives all around!) or an epic failure that it's happened at all.  I'm also not sure if all moms of daughters would say that their little bundle of joy hates them more often than loves them or if I'm just extremely lucky.  The jury's still out.

It's common in Christian circles to say that God only gives us what we can handle but as I read the Bible I can't seem to find that to be true.  He does promise that we will not be tempted beyond what we can handle, that there will always be a way out and that it will not be something unique; someone will have gone through the same thing before so there is always hope.  That's not quite the same as only giving us what we can handle.

So I would be wrong to think that the wretched, hormonal, irrational roller coaster that I'm on with my daughter is not more than I can handle.  I can't handle it.   But I should take comfort in the fact that though I may be tempted to throw her from the balcony, there is always someone I could call for help and that I don't have to succomb to actually chucking her three stories down.  Though the mental image of me gripping tightly to the nape of her neck and the top her pants and giving her the ole heave ho is quite satisfying...

At this point you may be wondering why in the world don't we just throw in the towel and send her back into the system?  To be honest, I'm asking myself that same question today.  I certainly didn't decide to homeschool because I wanted us to hate each other at the end of every day but that does seem to be the only thing that we've accomplished.  We decided to homeschool because we received a clear word for the Lord.  If he's never spoken to you like that then it probably seems weird but that's what happened.  And we obeyed.

And I believe he DID give me more than I can handle.

I'm extremely capable.  I have no problem getting things done and taking care of myself as well as those around me.  I'm used to paying my own bills and I really don't need anything from anyone.  This is something that needs to change.

I can't handle homeschooling.  I can't handle Eliana's emotional, out-of-control, hurtful words and attitudes.  I can't handle her stubbornness.  Her hard heart.  The fact that she doesn't care that she's this way.  I can't handle it.

I'm going to snap.

But I think that's a good thing.  I'm not supposed to rely on my own strength so if this is what it takes to help me learn that, then I'm happy for it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October Extravaganza

October is by and large my favorite month and October 2014 did not disappoint!  We went through a whirlwind of activities and had the most amazing weather.  I LOVE OCTOBER!

The festivities commenced with a trip to the corn maze.


She really has a thing for bumpy pumpkins.


Followed by an epic bike adventure for Rich and I.  We rode from Aspen to Glenwood Springs and back the next day for a total of 84 miles.  The first day was super fun but the second day was a bit much for me.  The trail had been made from an old train track so it was super flat, which was both good and bad.  Good because, well, it was flat.  Bad because that meant it was impossible to coast.  Stop pedaling, stop moving.  When I needed a break Rich and I held hands and he pulled me so we could keep going.  Wish I had a picture of that!



Eliana celebrated her 11th birthday this month and that was an event!  We typically make a big deal out of birthdays but this year's party went on forever!  Rich took her out to dinner at the restaurant he's been baking in and they got the royal treatment.  The entire staff came out to greet them and tell her Happy Birthday and gave them some crazy appetizers.  She actually enjoyed the octopus! Gross!


We also took her to Estes on a sweet hike where we got to see some elk super close up.  That was really cool....and scary....




The weekend after her bday we took her to the mountains and stayed in a cabin for 2 nights.  While we were there we visited a ghost town, something she has been wanting to do for a really long time.







It was a really good time and on the way home we stopped by a restaurant that is shaped like a hot dog!  That was......an experience.





We had cake with friends on 2 different occasions, as well as a GIANT cookie.  I'm really sick of sweets but we did make the most delicious cake ever; from the Smitten Kitchen, Smore's Cake.  Holy cow.  It was awesome.

And what better way than to close the month with my all-time favorite holiday, Halloween!  Dressing up never gets old.  I really do feel sorry for people who don't celebrate this holiday.  It's a great opportunity to meet all your neighbors and be silly.  Plus you get butt loads of candy.  Rich and I are completely shameless and we bring our own candy bags.  We just live in the perfect neighborhood and most people want to give the adults candy!  About halfway into it though I realized I was making a huge mistake by trying to get so much candy.  I don't even really like to eat it and I get sick of Eliana asking me for it.  We ended up with way too much and brought a big chunk of it to a dentist's office for cash.  That's a sweet program!







So that's October.  Always my favorite.  Good luck filling those shoes, November!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homeschool update.

Things sounded a bit grim on the last post so I thought I should write something more hopeful.

Overall I have to say that things are going pretty well and we're all liking this decision more and more.   All of our subjects are pretty fun and I love the flexibility and freedom that we have to study what interests us and to take time for extra projects.  For example, last week we mummified apples.  We'll be checking them tomorrow to see how the turned out so maybe I'll post some pictures.  Probably not though....I don't really take pictures of my life any more.  It's kind of sad.

Anyway...

I don't love math.  Neither does Eliana so sometimes that can be complicated.  I wouldn't mind it so much if it weren't for the story problems.  Who cares?  Who wants to go to town with a guy who drives a rowboat?!

But for as good as things are over all there have been some serious meltdowns and fights.  About one day a week I want to strangle her and I'm sure she feels the same way about me.  Just yesterday we had one of those days when I thought neither of us was going to come out alive.  It's strange because the day starts off fine and then something shifts and she decides she's going to hate whatever we do no matter what it is.  And I'm intentional to take breaks and have snacks so I don't think it's just an issue of poor planning.  So then Eliana starts hating life and she gets really mean then I feel powerless so I get frustrated and then she feels embarrassed for being mean and gets more stubborn and then somehow we're both crying and it's about something totally different and blah blah blah.

I was so fed up yesterday that I had to leave.  I walked out of my house sobbing and walked around the neighborhood until I got someone on the phone who could talk me down and remind me that I don't actually want to throw my daughter off the balcony.  (Maybe this seems extreme but perhaps you recall how frustrating the entire last year with her has been.  I can keep it together for a pretty long time but she gets SO MEAN that after dealing with her mood swings day in and day out, I snap.   And it hasn't even just been this last year.  Eliana has always loved to fight against every single things in me.  We're just too similar.)  I came back and we worked it out just like every time but it's exhausting.  I was comforted, however, by the fact that she does not act this way because of homeschooling.  She was like this before, just about something else and something else before that.  It's nothing new for us to have bad days.  It's reassuring to me that things would be the same even if I had kept her in public school because she found things to be angry about then anyway.  It's also comforting to know that most people who homeschool, or who just have kids, or who are just people, go through similar things.

Ok maybe this is sounding just as grim as the last one......I guess please just be praying for us that her heart will soften and that we will learn to be gracious and forgiving with each other.   I am getting a thorough lesson on how to not depend on my own strength so if nothing else this won't be a complete waste of time.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Week

The way I imagine it, everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting to hear how the first week of homeschool was, so this is me satisfying that deep, burning desire.  You're welcome.  :)

To be honest, I'm not totally sure how I feel about it.  So while the jury is still out, I think it will be best to just give you a day-by-day rundown of our week.

Monday:  Things went pretty well but overall I felt a little frantic.  I wasn't really sure how long things would take and I realized I should be more specific in my actual lesson plans.  We finished everything in about 3 hours, which is what I expected.  It was really nice to have the rest of the day to not be frantic.  We swam, climbed, chilled.  It was nice.

Tuesday:  This is the day that Eliana goes to a local homeschool co-op.  That way she still gets a good dose of interaction with kids her age and gets to have some classes that I'm not going to teach, like drama.  The co-op meets at a church that is just down the street from us.  Poor Eliana was SO nervous. She was still visiting my parents when they had the orientation so she didn't know where to go and hadn't met any of the other kids yet.  I waited with her until her first class started, said goodbye, found out all her school supplies had been misplaced at the church and were MIA, and drove home sobbing.  That may seem confusing/melodramatic/like-I-over-reacted and maybe it was all of those things.  There was a lot more going on in the moment but I'll spare the details.  I don't know.  I was just feeling really insecure, and not sure if I'm doing the right thing (even thought I KNOW I am), and sad for Eliana because I know that it will be hard for her to be away from her friends and I just lost it.

The day went well for her though.  She made some new friends and is pretty excited about most of her classes.  Phew!

Wednesday:  I don't remember too much happening this day so it must have gone pretty well.  Finished in about 4 hours, went on a bike ride and I got to go to yoga in the evening.  Yay!

Thursday:  We did about half the amount of school work this day and spent part of the day at the University checking out their to-scale model of the solar system that extends through a large part of the campus.  It was pretty cool.  Emotionally this was a difficult day, though.  Rich had been sick since Sunday with a fever that ranged between 100-103.  It kept breaking so we kept thinking he was getting better but then after a few hours it would spike again.  Truthfully, I don't deal that well when people are sick so it really started to wear on me.  Eliana was snappy all day with me too.  I do try to be patient and show her grace when she's being a jerk but after being treated like crap all day, well, it's hard to stay patient.

(We ended up taking Rich to the clinic that evening and he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Long day)

Friday:  By far the most fun day of the week.  I stayed up late the night before making sure I really knew exactly how I wanted to teach each topic and the day was really fun.  Eliana and I got along well which is always nice.

Overall the week went well.  Still, I feel very inadequate and stupid and ill-prepared and ill-equipped.  I suppose it's typical to fell insecure when doing something new for the first time, I just didn't know the extent to which I would feel that way, which I'm sure played a role in my Tuesday meltdown.  I'm worried that she won't learn all the things she's supposed to, that she'll be dumb and it will be all my fault, that she'll hate me fore making this decision, that the state will come and tell me I have to send her back to school and on and on and on.

I know the reasons we decided to do this and I know that it is the right choice for us right now.  Despite all my fears, it has been really nice to not feel frantic between the hours of 4pm and 8pm.  We needed some breathing room.

So I'm not sure if I like it or not.  Eliana is lonely for her friends and I know we'll get sick of each other.  I'm mourning the loss of my free time but I've committed to doing this for at least the next two years and then we can reevaluate.  What I don't need though is for one more person to tell me that I can put her back in school at anytime.  That's not helpful.  I'm sure it's meant to be a comfort but all I hear is, "You made a mistake so you should back out" or "What you're doing is weird and I don't approve".

So that's where I'm at.