Friday, February 9, 2018

I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will- our dive into home educating with Charlotte Mason

I have been home educating Cora for about 3 years now. I tried unschooling, I tried replicating school at home, I tried Heart of Dakota curriculum. ALL bored her to tears. Then I stumbled upon a book called For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.  In this book, which I annihilated with a highlighter, she speaks of a woman named Charlotte Mason. I remember my first year of homeschooling. I wrote that name down on a list to "research" . That list sat for 2 years. Then I did research. I found a woman who thought that nature study was important. Being out doors was important. 

My favorite quote (well , one of many) is: 
Never be within doors when you can rightly be without--Charlotte Mason

So off I went in search of everything I could find. I went to a large conference in KY. I purchased books, like the Charlotte Mason Companion and listened to pod casts from A Delectable Education and quite frankly I fell in love. With short lessons and a 1/2 school day I was hooked. Our morning is spent in lessons of Ancient History, Literature, Shakespeare, Math, Grammar, etc. Then our afternoons are filled with occupations and handicrafts such as "chores" and paper folding, painting and Nature Study. Nothing is longer than 30 minutes and Cora loves it. Actually, Cora is thriving. I am not supposed to brag...but the other day she recited a bit of her favorite poem from Robert Frost, completely from memory. I cried. She laughed at me. I cried some more. Here is the poem: Birches by Robert Frost. I cry when she shouts out, " I am getting it Mom! " when she does her math. Perhaps I need to invest in some tissues for the schoolroom :) 
But the biggest challenge has been doing a daily nature study, which requires us to go outside for at least a good bit of the afternoon. Cora is not the problem. I am. I have been very lazy and we started off our first term with , ahem, indoor nature study. We observed the squirrels in our yard, we have tracked the growth of an avocado plant that Bryan has grown. I just did not want to go OUT. I am a bit of a hermit crab...:) 

BUT I became bold this second term and with a challenge put out from my Charlotte Mason study group, I looked to see how I could integrate MORE outside time and nature study for the family. I chose to take 1/2 days on Wednesday for Cora and I (and Dad too if the job permits) to go "tromping" in the woods, the shores or the mountains. 
Our first Wednesday was a flop, she woke with a stomach ache and a head ache...
But our second Wednesday I let her determine the time we would leave, what to bring (binoculars, Swiss army knife, bug spray, snacks and canteens) and where we would go. 
She chose Northwest River Park.  So off we went. 

Two hours later, and a back pack less heavy since we ate all our snacks and drank most of our water we exited the woods of NWRP happy and laughing. We had ambled through about 3 miles of trails. We saw deer tracks, duckweed, danced in mud puddles, sat on perilous logs over the river (she did) , climbed ridges and shouted "I'm the queen of the forest" (again Cora) and came down so fast that she nearly took out a small tree or two. I showed her to slow down and LOOK down. Moss. My favorite joy as a child, I would pull it up and play with it like carpet for my tiny figurines. I showed her how springy it is, she lay her head on it and proclaimed "I love it, I need a pillow made from Memory Moss!". We decided that all the cool squirrels must have Memory Moss pillows and beds. Later we found a bigger patch and she laid right down on the trail and put her head upon it. I thought, "I hope no one walks up on us, with her laying prostrate on the ground and me standing over her with a large walking stick!" 

She could not get enough of it and laughed when she stood up with leaves in her hair. I tried to remove them, but she said, Leave them there. Get it! :) 

We made our way to the Northwest River and the wind must have been blowing about 40 mph. Cora and I went to check out a tree with a large hole chipped out. As she climbed she said I knew there was a reason to climb this tree. There are more holes up here Mom. Sure enough, there were. Someone was building a condo! We admired the river for a while, walked on the dock and decided to turn back to try another route on the map. 

Onward we moved to another trail, where we found a large tree cut down. The stump still intact. I told her find out how old that tree is. She sat down to count the rings, 61 years old! She laid across the trunk and played with the saw dust that surrounded it and said how good it felt. I remember many days of playing with sawdust under my Dad's saw horses as he created things out of wood. Sawdust is still one of my favorite smells. 
Some of the items we collected and will identify and sketch. All were found on the ground. 

We mucked through a path that she swore was a shortcut and emerged right where she said we would. We both had walking sticks but she stuck a sprout of bamboo in the top of hers and proclaimed she was queen of the forest again! Today we are going to use my wood burning tool and put the initials of the park we visited in our walking sticks...a tradition I hope to continue many more Wednesdays. I left the park tired, exhilarated and hungry for more time in nature. She declared it a good day. I wistfully thought of me being 60, with a full crown of grey hair, long and lean from many miles of Wednesdays...with her by my side as adult. Still holding onto our Wednesdays. It would be wonderful if that came to fruition. I truly hope it does. I would love for her to have a place to "go" to remember me when I am gone. 

But for today, I will thank God for the gift of two golden hours in the woods with my daughter...67 degrees and sunny right in the middle of February. Yes God. Thank you for that. 

Until next Wednesday...get out there, find some mud and leave your tracks....get it? LEAVE your tracks :) 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Jesus wrecked my date night...

Sometimes in the our household all the stars fall in line. The dogs are fed. Everyone has been out. The guinea pigs and rabbits are resting. The hermit crabs are well "hermiting". The tortoise is doing his usual thing with his pet rock and the girl...well....she spends the night out! YES! The holy grail of parenting...the sleepover. Then you add this....the company Christmas dinner and BOOM you have a DATE night. 

I do my makeup, my hair, dress like an adult...Bryan puts on some extra essential oils and changes his shoes (more on that later) and out the door we roll! 

Last night was THAT night! I even thought ahead to bring our two angel tree kid wish lists so we could do a little retail therapy later after dinner! 

So we had a GREAT dinner at the local Japanese Steak House. We saw new babies and old friends. We ate. We laughed. We ate. I met new people. "Peopleing" is hard sometimes for me, as I sometimes experience social anxiety. Back in the old days drinking made that go away...but now I have to adult and do it dry....:) God helps that by holding me strongly on the back and gently pushing me out of my comfort zone :) 

So you are wondering where Jesus came in like a wrecking ball? Well, just wait, meanwhile try to burn that image out of your mind....

I told you we ate and I totally cleared my plate. I had purposely not eaten all day so I could , ahem, take it all in! I literally was food drunk when I pushed away from the table! At about 8:30 we decided that it was time to pack out and make our way home. Bryan muttered something about Dairy Queen...and I just chuckled. 

So out the door we went. As we were buckling up a young man with a backpack went walking by. Then he backed up and motioned at the window. I instantly went to reach for my wallet but paused. He asked if we had any spare change, he was looking to purchase a cold weather sleeping bag. 

I instantly took him off guard and said, you are not going to believe this, but I have a sleeping bag in my trunk. Would you want to look at it? He said, yes mam. Right here I am going to quit with the quotes. I hate quotation marks and can't seem to handle them...just like my liquor! :) 

I jumped out and Bryan popped the trunk. The bag turned out to be too lightweight. I pressed on and said do you need a new shirt? How about some socks? He was in shock. He mentioned toiletries and tears came to my eyes. I had NO Homeless kits left. I gave them all out on my TN trip and had not reloaded the car yet. Here is where Jesus steps in....
I had a roll of TP and asked if he needed this...he said, no mam, I go into places to use the restroom. I dug some more to make sure that I did not have anything. Oh, would you like a liter of water!? Yes, I will take that. 

Then I turned around and asked him his name. Enter Jesus. No I can't remember his name. But I introduced myself. He said he was not a bad person, it was a generational thing. His father had started out this way and now he was on the streets. I looked at his face. He was Zac's age. Zac is my son and 27. He said he was on probation and getting things straight. He said again, I am not a bad person. I stopped him right there and said, Honey, I too have been a "bad person" , we all have been bad. I told him, it's the ones that say they have done no wrong that we need to worry about. He laughed. His smile was glorious. 

Jesus is about to let the wrecking ball drop. 

I asked him, Can I give you a hug. He opened his arms wide open and gave me the biggest hug. Then he hugged Bryan and he said I feel like we are family....and Bryan said something about we are family...but that was when the wrecking ball hit my chest and the ugly cry was starting to come. 

I tried to gather myself and told him, let me see how much money I have so you can get that bag you need and some other stuff, and my husband said, no, I have it. Bryan had done some work for his parents and they always give him some money. 

He handed that boy a $50. His face was perplexed. He said, the sleeping bag costs $49.95. That is exactly what I need! Bryan handed him another bill and said, for tax....take it. He said he really appreciated it. We chatted a bit more and then he said goodbye. 

He mentioned that he had a tent set up by the church. I know Ward's Corner pretty well and knew exactly which church he was talking about. 

Sure enough when we eventually pulled out of the lot I saw him, walking with a little pep in his step to that very church. I wish I was better with names. It takes me about 4 times to meet you before I get them. But I do remember his daughters name. He told us he had a 3 year old girl, named Havilah. I told him it was a beautiful name. He said the girls mother had chosen it from the Bible. 

I am still wrecked reading this. Normally , when I roll along encountering the homeless, I am alone and hold it together until I pull away. This time, as I sat outside a restaurant that I had just eaten about $30 in food. I could not imagine what ALL that money could have gone to, how many lives it could have changed. There were probably about 40+ people inside. 

I know we all need fun sometimes, and it's nice to celebrate the season with others. But for me, the Lord has broken me to pieces and wrecked my date night by giving me the eyes to see, the heart that breaks for what breaks His heart. I pray for that every night. 

So yes, Jesus wrecked my date night. In a good way. I got a reality check. A tiny Bible slap that while we have so much, some have so little. It's our job to even the score. 

On the way home I looked in the mirror at the Tracy that had just had an ugly cry. Makeup wrecked, eyes puffy, heart hurting. All ideas of shopping late night went out the window. 

I love me some Courtney Love :) 

Instead we went home to our warm home, let the dogs in and out, locked our doors and laid in bed eating ice cream quietly. Well as quiet as you can with two little dogs watching your every move! I could not help but think of people who were sleeping outside, while I was nestled in my bed. 

I hope Jesus keeps wrecking my life. 

God Bless 


PS I said I would talk about Bryan changing shoes to go out. Scroll back up to the top. See that plaid shirt. Yep. plaid. Guess what shoes he wore out and I did NOT notice until we were walking back in our front door last night AFTER the is a picture of the shoes!  ( #WifeFail ) :) 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

We'll leave the light on for ya....or not.

Church. Open Doors. Lights. Shades. Locks. Words all running thru my mind. Add in Motel 6 and there ya have the title of this blog. 

I will explain all this hopefully in this quick post. I got hit this morning with the idea of churches being open to all, available and a safe place. 
Then I thought a little harder, as the coffee kicked in and thought. Am I, as a Christian, open to all, available and a safe place? 


Case in point. I have been known to stop for homeless. pets. people. anyone. Give them all I got. The hat off my head. The bible off the seat. You name it. 
The other day traveling thru Downtown Great Bridge. We saw a man in a white button up shirt and tie walking toward the ATM. As we did our banking , he turned and started back the way he came. When we finished up our drive thru biz...we found him once again walking on this sweltering day. 

Bryan: let's pick him up. He needs help. 
Me: NO! we can't put him in the back seat with Cora. 
Cora: huh? 
Bryan: why not? 
Me: He could be a serial killer...or something along that line...

Don't quote me. But the convo did go like that. somewhat. All the while Bryan is braking and driving, braking and driving. In the end he gave in to my NO and kept going. 

Why did Tracy not let that man in the car. Why will Tracy stop in busy intersections and pray with homeless and give them her last dime, but not let Mr. Whitebread America in the car. Do I not trust a button up shirt , tie wearing guy? I do have a certain aversion to middle age, slightly graying men who dress business like. What the hell is that? I come from a blue collar family. That could be it. I ain't scared of " the man" . that's not it. Perhaps that is the general population that looks me up and down and says harrumph at my tattoos etc. who the hell knows. What I do know is that at that moment. I was not a "church" . We are all walking churches if we have Jesus in our hearts. All people, whether walking in button up shirts and ties OR in full biker regalia OR in rags are children of the God most High. So. Mission failed. So much for the Golden Rule...treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. BAM! 

My church was closed. I had locked the door. I had drawn the shades and worse off...when the doorbell rang. I ran and hid behind the couch and told the other people in the house to shhhhhhh, they might hear us! 

What the What? 
Being a Christian does not mean you have "Christian" hours. Like on Sunday between the hours of 10am- noonish. You are open 24 / 7 . . . you are a bit like an IHOP. You are serving it hot 24 hours a day. Rain, shine, running late, good hair day, bad hair day, step in dog poop day. You serve God. When you serve God, you serve others. You love others. You help others. You just do. There is no blinking neon sign in your eyes that states. I am a Christian now...hurry up. Closing in 5 minutes. :) 

Your light is always on. I seriously used to laugh at the bracelets that said WWJD? But now, I find my inner Tracy saying...what would Jesus do? Would he lock the doors, pull the shades and keep driving. Would he say, but I have to pee really really bad and I ain't got time for this. 

NO he would not. He would stop. He would ask: Did you need any help? And then he would listen. 

Don't forget to listen today. 

Remember to leave the light on . . . :) 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Excuse do you get to Normal from here?

It seems that our family has never just been in the normal range. There always seems to be something going haywire. But I have noted over my last 4 1/2 decades of living that neither is anyone's family ....normal that is.

What is normal.

pinterest? heavens no.

Straight A students with crest white smiles? negative

Mom's with make up just right and clothing from this decade? Never

Normal is a house that is a home. Hairballs in the corner. Rings around the tub from dirty tired children that played outside all day.

Normal is one sock that never gets matched but we don't give up hope and keep it around. Normal is sand in your trunk that you never got around to vacuuming out from two summers ago.

Normal is the ring of the doorbell and the crash of bikes hitting the driveway as friends arrive at the exact moment you sit down to eat....the kids can play in a bit.

Normal is an empty guinea pig water bottle and a dryer that cut off hours ago and a sink full of dishes.

Dear Fly Lady: kiss my butt. I will not be subscribing to your jibberish anymore. you are way too OCD for me. please. clean the toilet EVERY day. maybe when my kids are gone and their kids are not over visiting or I am not out busy spending their inheritance.

Normal is can we meet for coffee? and a quick email of no. busy today with Mom's group. How about tomorrow? nope therapy. and by the way THERAPY IS NORMAL. heck I even do check-ins on fb from my therapists office. It's way more healthier to chat about your problems than to eat them....or stuff them....or worse. take them out on your loved ones.

Normal is caller ID being a GIFT from GOD. thank you Ma Bell for that one!

Normal is embezzling from the grocery fund to buy dog food. ugh. but hey, payday is tomorrow.

Normal is a Mom with two twenty four year old kids. One eight year old and then one 15 year old who is from a hard place and can't live with us right now.

You see for  a while there I got caught up in the why can't we be normal game....I have spent half my life trying with all my being to be NOT NORMAL....and it turns out. we are normal.

Normal is loving God. Normal is loving others. Normal is loving me. a lot more than I have been for the past few years. Loving someone from a hard place is overwhelming, exhausting and hard. Being the daughter of an alcoholic I am a bit of a's time to let loose threads lie where they are. Let the dirt sit on the floor. Cook a microwave meal. Skip the Load of laundry. Sit with God instead.

Time to dig into the word. Love Tracy and well. just be normal.

so you go. you try it. maybe even leave me a comment and tell me what your normal is. I am sure your normal fits you quite well.

have a great one....till next time.

Friday, October 23, 2015

to do the making it possible

dear daughter,
yes you. the one who does not want to be my daughter anymore. I get it. I truly do. The neglect and the abuse you were raised in . . . well they make this easy for you. It's easy for you not to trust me and Dad with making decisions for you. It's easy for you to not trust that we love you or care for you or would give our lives for you.

What is not easy for you is to understand just how much we do love you. We love you enough to let you go. We hear your voice loud and clear. I have scars to prove that I have heard your rage. But the Father has asked me to write this letter of forgiveness. I am slam sold out to Jesus and when he asks ...I say Yes Lord.  So here goes.

I forgive you. I forgive you for biting me, slapping me, scratching me, hitting me, saying false statements about me and most of all I forgive you for yelling awful things at your little sister.

I forgive you  and still love you just as the Father loves you. I will pray for you until the day I die. I know that you are in there. I have seen the real you. However I have also seen many other "faces" of you and those are the ones that I can't live with. So I get it. You want out. A new start. A new family . But our hurts from childhood tend to come back around...just like the seasons.
We forgive you. You are our family. We love you. I hope you find a comfortable place to land. A safe place where you can become the you that God has made you. A place to grow and love yourself. A place where you will be loved just as Jesus loves you.

Radical acceptance of yourself is what God wants from you. Radical love for you is what God demanded from Dad and myself. So in an extreme act of Radical love, we will let you go. We will step back into the shadows and pray for you with all our might. We know God has you right in his hands. Now it is time to step back and watch the miracle happen. That is what loving like Jesus is all about.
I forgive you. We forgive you. We love you.
Mom and Dad

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I'm Not Pregnant. I am just fat.

I can't remember the last time I blogged. My heart was ripped open yesterday by one simple question. So perhaps this will be a rant of sorts which is NOT my style but I need to let it out.
I sat down this morning and painted it out but I am still reeling so here goes.

I am fat. This is self inflicted due to comfort eating and lack of exercise mixed with coming very near my middle age of 45 and grief.
Now just typing that made me absolutely exhausted.
Clothes. too tight. Underwear. forget them fitting. Budget for new clothing. non existent. so I thrift store for skirts. Thighs stick together: wear cut off leggings. Dressing comfortably not for the public . But for me. Just about to feel comfortable with who I am and then a person sidles up to me and asks THE question. when is the due date.
due date? for what? oooooooooooooooooo I get it. just because I am wearing a blouse that does not show every detail of my torso and my skirt is below my ankles I must be with child? Dear me. how do you even answer that mess? I said; I am not pregnant. The great oh shit look covers the persons face.
Now women. come ON. if you have not gotten a baby shower invite. a blessed announcement and you are not my OBGYN do NOT take it upon yourselves to assume . ASSUME that I am pregnant.

you suck. that is all. thanks for coming back later and saying...sorry if I insulted you. My smile was fake. I was dying inside. In this world where I don't even feel politically correct calling my own damn self fat well. geez. thanks for the apology. my entire world just feel apart and I really accept your insolent apology. whatever. carry on.

seriously if you are a woman reading this NEVER EVER ask your friend if she is pregnant. I personally will throat punch the next chick that asks me. Consider the public warned.

Over the last 2 years I have lost my Dad to suicide. Two unborn children to miscarriage and now we are suffering a disruption of adoption of epic proportions. To say I am a woman on edge is well....I am. a big fat mess of emotions. Perhaps being on the front lines of welcoming others to church is not my forte' right now. perhaps stuffing envelopes is more up my alley. Alphabetizing something . For the love of GOD. Is anyone on this train with me. It's lonely sitting here being an audience of one.

Can I get an Amen for pushing back on the face of mankind for a moment. I am having A moment. I deserve to have  A moment. I pray to my God above that this Moment will pass. But damn. It is hanging out like a boy who does not get the message. shoo....get going. Perhaps this moment is like that cat you feed on your front porch. It won't budge. keeps coming back for more. getting fatter and fatter until an uneducated comment pops THE moment and it goes FLYING all over the room like a helium balloon.....eventually deflating and coming to a rest in The Corner.

I am not dwelling on the past. It just keeps flooding me tsunami style over and over at random times. Grief is like a drive by shooting. Random. Or like the waves that batter you over and over until you get just past them...only to have to return and go back through them to get back to the safety of the beach. Gasping for air and muscles burning.

Hate , anger it all rolls in and out like the tide. Sadness , fear , love...all a flood of emotions with no rhyme or reason set off by a word, a question or a well. . . by nothing. Nothing at all. simply set off by a moment of silence.

So as I sit here and grieve. let me. just sit. and please ladies. stop asking stupid questions. thank you. for the sake of all womankind. let's not do each other in. OK?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Calling OUT ...All God's Children

Back in February I was weary and broken hearted after my second miscarriage and the impending disruption of our domestic adoption. I asked my friends to give me their go to verse when on the down and is one such verse from my dear friend Geri.

Lord, I thank you for Geri and for the verse she gave to me. Psalm 148:15

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

The Lord is near, to who? good and perfect Christians?
NO to all who call on Him.
Simply speaking HIS name- He is there.

Crying out in Pain- HE is there.

Silent gasping sobs- HE is there.

Joyful laughter- He is there.

A whisper for Help- He is THERE.

To all who call on him in truth!

All, Everyone. you, me the guy on the bus, your boss, the homeless guy at the intersection, the lady that you cut off today in traffic, the mean girl at school, the child surviving abuse, me at the bottom of a bottle, my friend with her crack pipe in her shaking hand, my Dad with a gun to his head, the jogger on the side of the road.

All CAN call on the Lord.


All of us are GOD'S children.

And ALL of us need to start treating everyone else like they are GOD's Children.


Not just on Sunday.