I’ve Been Afraid of Changes

Not really, I love change—I am fueled by variety.  But I love that song, because I’m a walking mid-life crisis, and that song is the anthem of the female mid-life crisis.  Let’s just remind ourselves of how great it is:

And yes, I built my life around a lot of things that the landslide brought down, but this little family remains.

So, changes.  First of all, the kids and I never spent this much time together, and now it’s sort of isn’t an option. I don’t think I fully understood that my alone time was officially over.  It might have made me nervous had I realized it earlier, but I’m surprised how comfortable it is to be with the kids all the time now.  That’s not to say I’m not crabby and yelling too much still, but I don’t feel like I want to run and hide like I used to.

Ben will go and body surf or longboard on his own, and Sophie and he will ride the beach cruiser bikes that came with the house around our little beach community. But very often we are all together, driving for a little sightseeing, shopping, actually preparing and eating meals together. I realize this is normal for many people and doesn’t require such extreme measures to make happen, but this wasn’t the case for me, apparently.

We eat in, we get bored.  It’s nice.

I heard from Amy (a brilliant psychologist, so it must be true) that it’s a good idea to change environments when you want to make changes, because the old physical environment and associated triggers will be gone, and you can create new habits that go with the new surroundings.  I have definitely seen that.  The kids are more diligent on the daily job charts, the house seems to be running way more smoothly.  Aside from my own personal habits that still need attention, the family functioning is greatly improved at this point over how we were.

You can say perhaps the novelty will wear off, but aha!—the experiment has perpetual novelty built in.  So bam! [Mic drop].

[mic retrieved] So a big factor is that when schoolwork is over, sometime after lunch, there is no where to be. No music lessons, no gymnastics, no activities planned.  It’s so interesting to see what happens then.  Ben and Noah play foosball and actually interact sometimes, and I can see Noah just loves that. Noah discovers a puzzle in the cupboard and puts it together, or he pulls out his Legos.  People get out the kites in the garage.  Sometimes the kids go to the beach without me (although they don’t love that because Noah and Lucy can’t get in all the way).

Of course, everyone still begs for screen time, which I begrudgingly indulge more than I should to get my work done. I justify it when I think about how much time I watched TV as a kid, and look how great I turned . . . . oh, wait. Dang.

But overall, it is clear our family is getting more familiar with each other, and, unable to avoid each other, actually are building some friendships.  More inside jokes are popping up.  Older kids are interacting with younger kids, explaining stuff.  We have interesting discussions at the dinner table that happen spontaneously.

It seems by opening up our home to include the whole world, our little family seems more of a central unit.  Whereas before, our little physical home used to be the center, yet we were all simply satellites in our own orbits.

Day One: The Experiment Begins

love the spin family at sunset

It is day one of our great experiment of family vagabonding–seeing the world while taking care of business (school and work) online.

Well, if you want to be exact about it, it’s day 15.

But for me it was day one, because this first big trip was about being by the ocean, and today was the first day I actually got in the ocean.  Here I am, waking up a block from the beach every morning, but some days I might as well been in a cubicle in an office building in Tulsa, for all the difference it would have made in my day.

This is because of that obvious, irritating, and forgotten maxim—”Wherever you go, there you are.”

As we removed so many things that can cause discomfort–bad weather, altitude, complacency, predictability, interpersonal drama, never-ending house chores, all that stuff–I’m left with what discomfort still remains, and realize I brought myself with me.

So this won’t surprise anyone, but I haven’t stopped being a drop-down drunk workaholic who can’t get up from her computer for 5 minutes to go look at the water, or eat, or shower.  The “one-more-thing” paralysis that starts when I first check email in the morning before rolling out of bed, and ends some days long after the kids have gone to bed.  Here in paradise, I still find I’ve lost the entire day and haven’t changed my clothes or been outside for a truly unhygenic amount of time.

When we stayed with Kath and with Amy, they all noticed it.  I got sideways glances from all of them, just as if I’d started sipping a secret flask at 9 a.m.  “You need to go outside for a minute,” they’d say.

When I’m by myself, I can pretend it’s not completely unreasonable.  The kids know how I am, and have essentially honed the skills of Boxcar Children–schooling and feeding and taking care of one another as needed—when mom’s on one of her work binges.  And it just so happened that one of the more intense work spells hit right as we left for our experiment and has only just started lightening up.

I can justify that this is just one of the joys of self-employment, but if I’m honest with myself, that’s not it.  It’s just obsessiveness and imbalance.  Self awareness stings, and with all the good things I’m noticing about this different way of life, seeing what doesn’t change with the external world is a hard pill to swallow.

So it was almost 4 o’clock, just an hour before sunset, when I finally walked into the water today, finally keeping my promise to show Lucy how to boogie board. Sophie and I jumped waves and admired the coming sunset, and I felt the water push and pull me back and forth while the sky went up in orange flames.

I often use the metaphor of the ocean to explain how I feel God working in my life, a gentle push and pulling (and sometimes the barrel wave that flushes your sinuses)—it moves me in a way I only can see when I look back at the shore.  I had to work to let go of work, to let the waves move me and stay in that glorious now.  That shouldn’t be hard, yet habit makes it so.

Ben was riding wave after wave on a boogie board several yards down the shore.  Lucy came nervously to jump waves with us, and I’d hold her up when a really big one came.  Noah played happily in the sand.  My mom watched the coming sunset.

I could do this every day—get my work done and then head to the shore.  I could work to live instead of the other way around.  I have to make some changes inside of myself, not everything can be changed by circumstance.

My mom was visiting for the weekend and snapped the breathtaking picture above at sunset. Little silhouettes of everyone but Noah, still intently playing on the sand, are swimming in all that glory.

I’ve learned so much just in these two short weeks about myself, my relationship with my kids, my marriage, what helps, what doesn’t.  I can see how removing everything but the essentials really simplifies and clarifies things, but that includes a clearer spotlight on my own unhelpful habits.

I’ve vowed to go to the beach every day, even if I don’t get in.  I came to heal my body, mind, spirit and family, and that can’t happen at my computer.

San Diego and the USS Midway

Friday, January 16, 2015

USS Midway Kissing Statue

Last Friday my family and I went to San Diego and went inside the USS Midway. It was America’s Longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. It was used from 1945 to 1991. About 200,000 sailors served on it. After it retired, it became a museum located in downtown San Diego at Navy Pier where you can go throughout most of the ship using an audio tour, or you can just look around.

We were staying about an hour out of San Diego at a friends house. My mom looked up on the internet what was the San Diego’s most popular place to visit, which was the USS Midway. After doing our homeschool in the morning, we drove down to the city. As soon as we entered downtown I commented on how clean the city was. Unlike any city I have ever been in, San Diego was very clean and I couldn’t see very many homeless people. We drove down to Navy Pier where there are many Hotels, Yachts, Ferries, Fish Grottos, and Boats. Because it was a city, people were everywhere.

We parked at a Fish Grotto called Anthony’s and right next to it was a huge 16 hundreds ship called the Star of Indi. It look repainted and nice but we wanted to go on the USS Midway. We ate at Anthony’s and we had a good view of the water.

When we were done we walked down Navy Pier and you could not miss the USS Midway. Its huge! It looks like a huge boat but it has a big platform on top that is as big as the boat where the airplanes (and hellecopters) would take off. It looks kind of like that big flying boat in the Avengers except it can’t fly (and it isn’t as fancy inside).We went up to a booth where we paid and then we got to enter. I was a bit nervous because one of my biggest fears is deep water and this huge boat looked like it was about to sink! But I was excited.

We went through the door where they checked our tickets and then we went down a hallway that led to the biggest room I have ever been in. It was full of planes and helicopters! It was full of people and it had gift shops. We got our head phones for the audio tour which were connected to a thing that looked like an old TV remote. A worker explained that you just push the numbers on the remote of the number on the sign in each room.

So we started off. We went through old tunnel looking hallways with oval doors. Arrows showed us where to go and we looked at where the sailors slept. They were small bunks with little lockers to put their stuff. We also saw the officers and commanders sleeping quarters. They all got their own room and had bigger beds with dressers and desks. We saw the showers and bathrooms. They didn’t have a big water supply so they had to take very short showers. We also saw what is kind of like the ships jail called the Brig. It was where the sailors went if they started fights or gambled. The audio tour thing said they would have to sit in a cell for days only eating water and bread. On the walls of every room there were things that the sailors said about their stay on the ship. Life there didn’t sound so comfy.

Then we were led back to that big room full of planes in the center of the ship. I was curious at how they would these huge ships onto the take off deck. The audio tour said their was a huge piece of floor that if you folded the planes wings the floor would lift up and be kind of like an elevator and take the plane up to the deck. Next we went down stairs and saw the kitchen. They had many choices for food and the kitchens were really big with huge pots for soup. Then we saw the mail room and the laundry room.

We started seeing old men in yellow hats walking around. Turns out these were old WW2 veterans who worked on the USS Midway and they would talk to us about their experience. We went to rooms where we saw places where they operated and took care of the ship.

Finally we went up to the top deck. We saw all kinds of air force planes. We walked up and down the deck, looking at the planes. My mom told me that at the end of the war, when we won all of the sailors came into Navy Pier and kissed any girl they could find. They have a statue of that on the pier.

We saw a couple more rooms and then went back to our car. We drove around San Diego and looked at the older part of the city and the newer part. After we had dinner with our friend then went back to her house.

I think my family can agree that it was super fun. Sadly my moms phone was dead while we were in the boat so we have no pictures of our own, but we do have some of the city.


Noah goes to Disneyland

Last Saturday I went to Disneyland with my family. It was crowded and rainy, but I had fun and we were able to walk on a lot of rides.  It smelled like popcorn and there was music everywhere. 

For lunch we ate at the French Market, and I tried the corn chowder in a bread bowl but traded it for mac-n-cheese. There were live jazz musicians playing while we ate.  

I liked Autopia in tomorrowland, I drove the car and Ben pressed on the pedal–I could have, but it was a little hard with the slippery pedal. I liked Pirates of the Carribean the best–I liked that he said, “Dead men tell no tales” a lot of times.  I loved all the mountains–Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain.  Our longest wait was for Space Mountain, but we got a fast pass later and went again. We walked on to Splash a few times and onto Thunder twice. I got to become Ironman in Innoventions and meet Captain America.  The Haunted Mansion was the Nightmare Before Christmas style still, which was weird.  I like the regular one.  But I liked the hall with floating Zero in it. I saw my goat Dangit holding some dynamite in his mouth on a rock on the top of Thunder Mountain.  

I really don’t like the Indiana Jones ride, its just so rumbly and dark and loud, and you feel like it’s over but it’s not, but I do like the Indiana Jones movie.  Our Jungle Cruise tour guide was funny and told good jokes.  I like Mr. Toad’s wild ride because the whole story is that he’s a bad driver and blows himself up and goes to hell.  I like the first part because you go in through a place and then turn around and come back out and it looks like you are going where you started, then you look like you’re going to hit people but end up going through a wall.  For dinner we ate at the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland, but I didn’t like it.  We stayed until it closed at 11 and walked to our hotel.

We forgot to go on Winnie the Pooh, so next time I’d start with that.   If others are visiting, I’d warn them that Indiana Jones is kind of creepy.  

Overall I give Disneyland 5 stars.

Noah, age 10