Friday, June 02, 2006

A Very Tough Decision

I had to make a very tough decision. I am feeling extremely guilty for my choice.

My dad will turn 80 at the end of the month. Dad lives two days away from me. My tough decision is that I decided not to go "home" for his birthday.

He won't be alone on his birthday, my sister and one or both of her kids will be there. Still, my son and I should be there to help him celebrate because it is such a big deal. I worry that my dad will feel let down. I worry that by not attending, I am teaching my son to not be supportive of family.

On the other hand, every single time I go somewhere it is to visit dad. Period. Okay, we went to South Carolina last November only because my husband was working there and his company paid for my son and I to fly out, for the motel, and for our rental car.

Every year I spend hundreds of dollars getting to Denver and back. Three times in the past eight years we have gone to Indiana with my dad, my sister and her kids. Dad grew up in Indiana and he wanted us to attend his family reunions. Even though we were in dad's car, he paid for gas and motels, I still spent hundreds of dollars on the trips.

I don't mean to sound unappreciated. I loved our trips to Hoosier land very much. I loved meeting family, renewing some relationships, and seeing the country. I loved, even more, the trip down memory lane -- going on a family vacation with dad. It took me back to my childhood. I loved his stories. I loved finding ancestors' graves. I loved researching our genealogy. I also love going to dad's house, cleaning for him. (I am always cleaning for him!)

Now we are a one-income family. I used to be a professional bringing in a nice salary. In fact, I was the sole support of this family while my husband went back to school for his degree. Now I feel it's more important to be mom and teacher. With that, I knew money would be tight. It is, we make due, and have a good life. Nothing extravagant, but our needs are met.

We have some major projects we have to do. We need a new roof. We need some new windows. We need to evaluate our transportation and update. Money, money, money.

Here comes the guilt. I am putting my needs before that of my dad's.

From a different perspective, traveling is difficult for me. In the summer, my right leg swells up terribly. Who knows why. The doctor gave me water pills. It is painful and uncomfortable. It takes two days to drive to dad's. We cannot afford airline tickets. Amtrak is five hours away and due to my leg, I cannot sleep in coach for one night or I wouldn't be able to walk the next day. When we take Amtrak to Denver, I get a room in a sleeper car. I'm a good shopper and it's usually cheap. Not in the summer. Can't afford it now. Last summer I drove us down. My leg was swollen the whole visit. It was a long haul and I was physically exhausted and in pain.

I also have a little phobia. I hate driving into Denver. Really, I hate it. The last three times I've driven in, we've experienced scary situations. Once, I was driving on I-25 and a car entered and almost drove right into me. I couldn't get over because of traffic. I shook violently. It was very close at high speeds. Another time, I was driving down 6th Ave with what I would consider "medium" traffic. Top a hill and right in my lane is a mattress! I had to slam on my brakes and I was barely able to get out of the lane. I have had nightmares over that mattress.

Finally, the worst was our visit last June. Hating driving into Denver as I do, I went a different route. We drove through South Dakota and Wyoming. (Took my son to see my inlaws.) We spent the night at a friend's house in Cheyenne. I got up at 5 am on a Sunday morning thinking the traffic would be next to nothing going into Denver. We were on the road at 5:30 am. What I didn't take into account were drunk drivers on their way home from late-night partying.

Driving on I-25, just past the Wyoming/Colorado border, before 6am, there was very little traffic. It was wonderful. Until I saw the car swerving in my rear view mirror. I slowed way down and got over as far as I could when it passed me. Sadly, the truck in front of me did not. The drunk hit the truck. The truck spun wildly. I slammed on my brakes, watched the truck come to a stop in the median. Thankfully the guy was able to walk and was only "banged" up. I stayed with the man until the Highway Patrol arrived. The drunk driver was never caught.

So anyway, I now have a horrible phobia of driving into Denver. Face it, I live in a town with a population of 10,000 and 3/4 of that is senior citizens. It's slow. Fast paced city driving is not my thing anymore.

Dad had two strokes last October. Thankfully they were mild and he's doing just fine. I needed to get there but I couldn't drive. We took Amtrak because I was able to get a cheap sleeper car. Thomas and I stayed almost three weeks while dad was recovering. Thank goodness for homeschooling, we just packed it up and did school in his living room. But...I couldn't drive.

So here I am. I'm afraid to drive into the city of Denver. My health isn't the greatest which makes long-distance driving miserable. I'm broke and can't fly. My dad will suffer as a result.

I feel like a heel. I also would like a little fun money to do some fun things this summer. If we went to Denver, that fun money is gone forever.

This was a tough choice. I'll probably feel guilty over it until my dying day. Ugh.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I am happy to report that tonight, at 8:06 pm, we officially finished 4th grade. (We had to finish one leg of the standardized test and did it after supper.)

Whew. Thomas is excited for summer break and bouncing off the walls.

Mom will take a good two weeks (at least) to recover from the school year.

It was a good year.

Mom's opinion on the best thing we did this year: Make a school room. Although we still do a lot at the kitchen table, having it all in one spot was wonderful. The sense of ownership my son felt with the room (he applied the decorations, helped clean and organize) was well worth it.

Thomas thought the best thing we did this school year was our early-November trip to South Carolina. (This comes in as a very close second for me.)

Worst thing this year: ??? Neither Thomas nor I can come up with anything.

Things I'll change for next year: Well, this is a no brainer. With two years under my belt, I know that we will do a few weeks of summer school so that we can take off a few weeks in the spring. Spring and cabin fever hits hard in Minnesota and in February and March, I am climbing the walls.

I can't believe my baby is now a fifth grader. Where does time go!

Monday, May 29, 2006

How did they do it?

I want to know how people survived before central air. I'm dead serious.

This weekend we took down five of our kitchen windows, stripped them down to bare wood, and managed to get a primer coat on. Then we put the windows back on because it is supposed to rain tonight.

In the meanwhile, our air conditioner kept flipping the circuit breaker off and we decided not to run it until having it serviced -- hopefully tomorrow. And it would have been stupid to run it anyway with the windows off.

Of course, as my luck has been running, it was in the 90s here this weekend. Humidity was well above 60.

I am beat. I have a problem with my right ankle and in the heat it swells. I cannot get a shoe on tonight it is so swollen. I am drenched. The house is hotter than outside, even though I went out and bought two fans. Every time I move I sweat like a pig.

Last night to cool off and relax, I sat in front of a fan doing Sudokus. I started feeling cool and so I moved the fan. It was tolerable. Then I checked the thermometer: 92 degrees. In the house.

I am a wimp. I keep the thermometer at 70-72 year round. WHINE!

When we watched the parade this morning, I was so wet from heat/sun that I thought I might pass out. I don't know how much water I drank, but it was quite a bit. I did notice that all the people around me were also sweating, so that made me feel a little less -- well, whiney.

I feel very childish complaining about the heat. I mean, there is are a lot worse things in life to endure. I guess I can fall back on the medical condition: heat-induced edema, I believe the doctor called it. I was told to stay out of the heat. I keep thinking of my mother, at my age, who had to turn her oven on and bake every day in the hot summer heat. I think of my grandparents and ancestors who had to wear more clothes than we do today. Ugh.

Then my thoughts turn back toward my windows. It's supposed to be dry here tomorrow through Friday. So DH will take them back off, we'll finish the frames and put a couple coats of paint on the windows themselves and then have eight more to worry about. I'm hoping for 70ish weather this week so we can get it done. It was so hot we seemed to be working in slow motion this weekend.

On a less whiney note, I wanted to share this. I haven't blogged a lot because I didn't have a lot to talk about in the homeschool realm. I have always tried to keep this pretty much on the topic of homeschooling. Well, that's going to be impossible this summer. So I'm going to blog about life in general, hopefully throwing something homeschool related in here and there through the summer. In fall I'll be back to mostly homeschool stuff again.

My hat is off to whomever invented central air conditioning. Hopefully ours will be up and running tomorrow which in turn will help my ankle/leg get back to its normal size which in turn will make it easier for me to actually walk and get things done in a more timely and less hobbled manner.

Memorial Day

Today my son marched in his very first parade, our town's small Memorial Day parade. He marched with his Cub Scouts pack. I'd share a picture but our camera's batteries died right as my husband was about to snap the photo.

I had many thoughts racing through my head as we arrived at the landing area then watched the parade.

My first thought was this was way too small of a parade. The whole lineup was way too short. Our local military personnel were at the front of the line followed by three cars of VFWs. A troop of Girl Scouts was next, the local Boy Scouts, then the Cub Scouts. The local high school marching band ended the parade. It passed by us in about two minutes. It is too bad the parade was so "small." These people deserve so much more.

My husband and I discussed the fact this was the first time we ever attended the Memorial Day parade. This should be the parade we always attend to show support of our troops and those who fought for us in the past. My husband and I both have fathers who are veterans of World War II. We should know to say thank you and show support. I pledge to attend the parades from here on out.

As I looked at all our young military men and women in their uniforms, I kept uttering the mantra "I can support the troops but not the war" in my head. Over and over I repeated that thought.

Last week a local serviceman was killed in Iraq at a roadside bombing. There was a prayer and moment of silence for him at the flag ceremony following the parade. My heart ached for him, his family and friends.

Lastly, I cannot help but mention how many homeschoolers I saw. There weren't a lot of children at the parade or at the ceremony. Most of them were in scouts. Except for the homeschoolers. I was amazed at the turnout of homeschoolers.

I couldn't help but think about the differences between me and the other homeschoolers. I was there to support my country, the troops, all people who have served in the military, my ancestors who were veterans, and my son. I was not there to support a war. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about the homeschoolers I saw. Many are the type that have signed photos of President Bush displayed in their homes. Yes, I've seen the photos. They are the type that support the war. I am not.

It made me glad to live in a country where we can have differences of opinions, but sad, too. Even though I feel they're wrong, I support their freedom of choice. On the other hand, they are constantly belittling and condemning the liberals. Liberals are not patriotic. Liberals are flag burners. Liberals are evil. Yes, I have heard these comments from fellow homeschoolers. While I am not really a liberal, I am a moderate, I am a liberal in their eyes. I believe in freedom of choice. I just want to say that liberals are not evil, and that yes, liberals can be patriotic. Very patriotic.

Thank you to all our service people, past and present.