25 September 2008

School days

My pre-school days and school days kind of all run together since I don't really have a good separating point. I remember the summer before I was going to start Kindergarten because I had to get shots, for one thing, but I also remember going with my mom to the school I was going to attend, Richpond, to pick up papers of some sort I suppose. I don't remember much about that trip except that the school seemed enormous (it's not... I've been back since then). Before school started, though, and I'm not really sure when or why it all came about, my parents thought better of sending me to public school. I vaguely remember them discussing the possibility of homeschooling, but hey, I was 5 years old... I wasn't really concerned. The shots were over, I got to go shopping afterward, life was grand.

Anyway, my folks kept me out of public school and homeschooled me themselves that year... and for the next 4-and-a-half-ish years. That's why I don't really have a good separating point on before school and after school, since there weren't any huge changes in my life. The first year my folks pretty much built their own curriculum out of stuff they found at the Parent Teacher Store. After Kindergarten, they began using the A Beka Book curriculum, which worked out quite well for me.

My memories of the whole homeschool situation involve no hard-and-fast start or stop time, popcorn during classes, and breaks whenever the phone rang or my granddad stopped in for a visit. Other memories involve knowing without a doubt that school was going to happen every day, no questions asked (except for planned breaks and holidays), that what was supposed to be covered in a day would be covered in a day without fail, and that my mother had very high standards and goals that she expected me to meet... period. If the curriculum said we were supposed to find the Virgin Islands on a particular map, we would find them on that map... no other map would suffice. If the curriculum said we should go over every single multiplication table 14 times a day, we did (ok, it was never really 14...). I only remember one occasion when I was sick and was not permitted a "sick day" until I literally nodded off with my head on the table (Benadryl will do that to ya). I don't want to make my mom out to be cruel or anything along those lines, but she was definitely a driving force in my academic successes and every success I've had since those homeschool days is due in part to her great influence (and stubbornness... hehe).

In 1996, Old Union School opened. I was going to be starting 5th grade and was (supposedly) old enough to make my own decision, so my parents left it completely up to me as to whether I wanted to go there or keep homeschooling. My folks (my dad especially) were avid supporters of the school and my dad was one of the few who helped it get started, even serving as the school board's chairman for a few years. There were 5 students starting out, 3 girls near my age (2 of whom I knew from church, 1 of whom I had at least heard of from a sister church), and a boy and a girl who were younger (who I also knew from church). The 2 teachers were women who had been my Sunday School and/or VBS teachers and I had known both of them since I was born. I decided to continue homeschooling. I don't really remember much about my decision... I do remember that my mom had some questions and some uneasy feelings about me switching to OUS, although I don't recall anything specific now.

So, we started another year of homeschooling and went until October, when I decided that I wanted to go to OUS after all. My first day there was Halloween, October 31, 1996. I was 11 and I made the 6th student. As it turns out, my not-so-sure-about-this start would turn into the next 7 years of my life... and I graduated from Old Union in 2004, in a class of 2... I was the valedictorian, in case you were wondering.

I had a lot of good days at OUS, but unfortunately in some ways the bad outweighed the good, and my overall memory of my time spent there has a dark cloud over it. At this time, the school is a completely different place than it was when I was there, but I'm afraid some of the things which were such a frustration to me and my family while I was there still persist. I support the school's mission and I think the one-to-one teaching that they're able to have there is great. David and I support and will continue to support the school, but I doubt our children will ever be students there. This isn't written in stone and I know that it very well could end up happening, but as of right now, I can't see ever feeling totally comfortable with sending them there. Our children will most likely be homeschooled.


09 September 2008

More story...

I had happy childhood years and was always a fairly laid-back, easygoing child (as far as I can remember, at least). I was pretty much a loner, usually playing alone, and a lot like an only child since my only sister, Stacy, is nearly 15 years older than me.

I don't want it to sound like we had our own little family life separate from my sister and she wasn't included or anything along those lines. I adored her and wanted to be in her shadow (or drawing on her carpet with a highlighter) as much as possible. And I was, actually. I vaguely remember her living at home, but I don't ever remember her really acting like she minded me being around. I remember her getting ready for dates or to go out with friends and how she looked when she came out of her room all dressed and made up and hair fixed. I remember always noticing her clothes and particularly the way her perfume smelled. I still remember it actually and I think it was Calvin Klein... Eternity, maybe? That doesn't sound right, but it was one of those.

I think she graduated from high school in '88, so that means she started at WKU when I was nearly 4 years old. She stayed there only a short time, though, before transferring to EKU to be closer to her then boyfriend (now husband), Stephen, who was at UK. I remember vividly leaving her in a bleak-looking dorm room and driving 3 hours back to Bowling Green... and I was sad. Turns out, so was she, and she ended up transferring to UK shortly thereafter... only to transfer back to WKU after Stephen graduated from UK and moved back to Bowling Green. They got married at some point during all that.

Another early memory for me is the birth of my oldest cousin, Caleb (a cousin older than him has come along since then, but she doesn't enter the story until later). Up to that point, I had been the baby of the family and I do have some memories of always being the only one at my grandparents' house. I was thrilled at the prospect of a cousin and I remember going to see him at the hospital. I remember holding his squirmy screaming self and loving him to pieces. I still do.

The only other definitely-pre-school memory I have is going every afternoon with my mom on her newspaper route. I was obviously very clingy to my mother and actually chose to go with her on that route rather than to stay home with my sister. Granted, I did end up staying home on some days and I stayed with my great-grandmother on other days, but most of the time, I went on that awful route. Most days I ended up asleep in the backseat. I remember one day, I had the bright idea that I was going to wear panty hose under a pair of shorts I had been playing in all day. And for some reason I decided that I could just dispense with the underwear... it seemed kinda pointless after all. So, at some point during the route, my hosiery got uncomfortable and I removed it. I figured I'd be more comfortable and able to rest easier, but all it did for me in the long run was make me paranoid. Every time I'd doze off, one of mom's customers would come up to the car window for something and I was just convinced that some old codger would be able to see my tush.

This seems enough for now... more later!


04 September 2008

12 months behind me

I'm going to take a quick detour tonight from my story to spend some time talking about the special day that it's been.

Today was my son's 1st birthday. A year ago right now, September 4, 2007 at nearly midnight, I was a brand new mother.

It was around an hour in the operating room, another hour in recovery, probably the biggest part of an hour persuading my baby to nurse for the first time, visitors filling my room, nurses practically standing on my belly, and a "teaching session" on caring for my newborn I might add (yes, this took place around 1 AM)... I was drugged, cathetered, compression sleeved, IV'd, not to mention exhausted...

...but I had a baby. No, I had my baby. Resting in my arms all warm and round and pink and perfect laid the child I'd been loving for 9 long months. This precious little person who was, just a few hours ago, kicking me in the ribs was suddenly here... next to my skin, soft and smelling like a baby.

I blinked and now he's 1. The bittersweetness of it is almost too much to bear. My baby is growing growing every day. Time is such a thief and even though I thought when he was newborn, 2 months old, 6 months old... "I'm really making an effort to enjoy every day. I'm not going to take any of this for granted," those days of newborn stillness, those late nights of being alone with him in the darkness of our livingroom, the first smiles and coos, his little hands folded against my chest... are nothing more than sweet sweet memories. And yes, I believe with all my heart that I have enjoyed it all and I will be the first to say that I'm surprised every day at the patience God gives me, but I really don't think you can know how much to appreciate something until you look at it in retrospect.

I know that there are a lot of fun times and firsts ahead of us if God grants that, but there's something truly special about this 1-year mark. I couldn't let it pass without saying how thankful I am that God placed S. in our lives. The bright spot that he is in my life is the greatest blessing I've known next to my salvation. It simultaneously tears at my heart and fills it up each and every day.

My life has been made so much sweeter by this precious little gift from God.


Fast forward...

Happy birthday, sweet boy!
Mama loves you!


02 September 2008

My story

I have no idea why, but I've had a lot of trouble writing lately. It's something I've always done and have always taken refuge in. Anytime I've tried to write in the recent past, though, my thoughts just don't come together. There are tons of things on my mind and there are plenty of times that something crosses my mind and I think, I should jot that down and write about it later... but it either never happens or when I try I can't get my thoughts organized. So, I've decided to take a little different slant on the whole blogging deal. I've wanted to write about my life for a long time... all the things that have shaped me, my triumphs, my mess-ups, the stuff that has made me... well, me (up to this point, at least). I'm not conceited enough to think that anybody out there will be particularly fascinated with my life and I'm certainly not interested in "talking myself up"... it's just something I want to do.

So, all that being said... read it if you want, or don't. Be interested, or don't be. I do plan on being as brutally honest about myself as I can without invading my own privacy or making other people uncomfortable. If you have been in my life in any capacity, you may just find yourself here. Other than these vague things, I've set no ground rules. So, if you choose to go with me, enjoy the ride... if not, seeya later, alligator.

Installment Numero Uno

I was born on a Friday. October 18, 1985 at the Medical Center in Bowling Green. I don't remember the particulars, but I think I was somewhere around the same size my own son was when he was born and that I arrived around the time Sesame Street came on when I was little. This is how my mom explained it to me... 5 PM in the adult-time-telling world. From the pictures I've seen, I was little and wrinkly and red and the doc held me by my feet. I had my mama and my daddy and one big sister, Stacy, who is nearly 15 years older than me. I've been told that I was brought home to a small farmhouse in the middle of a couple of corn fields in the Richpond vicinity. My folks rented this house from Jason Young, who continues to farm land in Richpond. We moved from that house before I turned 1 year old, I believe... and I have no recollection of it whatsoever.

My family moved from there to the place that would become home to me. This house sits on land that has been in my family for many years and is situated just up the road from my grandparents' house. At least one field separates that house from its 3 nearest neighbors and the view from the back porch is nothing but farmland. This scene is one that I hope I'll never forget... woods to the west, pond straight ahead, and nothing but pasture beyond that. The prettiest sight in the world.

The house itself is small and old, its original structure consisting only of the present-day den, master bedroom, and part of the kitchen. That part of the house is over 100 years old and still has the original barn wood walls beneath the drywall that covers it now. It was in a constant state of renovation throughout my entire life (and apparently many years before my life) until sometime soon after I graduated from high school. The rest of the kitchen was added before my lifetime as was the master bath and possibly a second bedroom. What was a long front porch was also closed in to make a third (and very narrow) bedroom. After my family moved in, they added a small bathroom to my sister bedroom (the 2nd one). The narrow room was mine, as you might have guessed, although I used it for little else than playing. When my sister went off to college, I got her room and we completely re-did it from the floor up and the walls out when I was 12.

Throughout the years, they updated the master bedroom (and slept in the living room floor on air mattresses for an entire summer), closing in 2 unnecessary doors, taking out a closet, somehow chopping through a wall to make what used to be my room an office and walk-in closet. They also tore up the carpet to expose the original hardwood and tore off some old wallboard or paneling to reveal the backside of the beautiful old chimney, which remains part of the decor of that room.

Later, they re-vamped the kitchen, removing the old blue cabinets and replacing them with hardwood, tearing up the old repetitive pentagonal (I think) linoleum and replacing it with something much nicer, and adding a utility room and patio in the back. All of this was attended to by a random builder my parents found somehow whose name was Rob Woodard, I believe. And some part of it involved a whole being cut in our kitchen floor (maybe for running pipelines or something), and Rob being in that hole laying flat on his back looking up... sorda coffin-like. Too weird. Anyway, he was at our house A LOT and we all got really comfortable with him being there... and there's really no telling what he saw and heard.

The biggest project, though, was the den. The floor slanted badly (which made the room impossible for dancing, according to my grandmother). The walls were covered in horrible brown paneling, and there were 5... count 'em 5... doors in the room. Granted, the aforementioned unnecessary doors accounted for 2 of them and they were nicely sealed up from the other side, but there were still these random doors that couldn't be opened in our den. So we ripped off the paneling, wallboard, wallpaper, pasteboard, NEWSPAPER, and I can't even remember what all and finally got down to those original barn wood walls I mentioned earlier. It had to add a good inch to the room. They ripped up the floor and somehow built up the joists or something to even things up. Then we drywalled, put up the finishing woodwork, carpeted, and the whole shebang. This whole process happened in 2 different instances somehow, but a big part of it involved our living room being sealed off from the rest of the house with plastic in some attempt to keep dust out of everything and ALL of the living room furniture being in the kitchen INCLUDING the piano. It was insane to say the least. All of this fun was attended to by the Hunton gang... including Mr. Johnathan, who was then most definitely a Mexican and is now most definitely Guatemalan. Either way, he speaks Spanish.

All of this adds up to the house that it is now, which is no longer my home, but still I place I dearly love.

So there's a bit about the house I grew up in... which I think is plenty for the first part. Especially considering it's 1:30 in the morning... ugh, horrible habit I've gotten into.