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Year O’Magic

In 2019, Marshall and I both turned 40. As a gift to each other, we bought annual passes to Disney World for the whole fam damily. Our adventure started last Spring Break, and we were supposed to finish the Year O’Magic this Spring Break. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen.

I know that I don’t really have room to complain. We went at least once a month for the last 11 months (what the what??), but this trip was going to be ah-may-zing. The pièce de résistance. We had the best fast passes, the best resort, the best dining reservations. I mean…it was gonna be something, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve been throwing a bit of a pity party for myself today. I know, I know. It’s stupid. I know that. I know how bougie I sound. And I wish that I weren’t as sad about it as I am, but here we are.

I decided to go through all my old pictures and make a photo book of our adventures this past year, because we had some really, really good times and I want to remember it all. But my favorite part about all of our trips? Just being together. And even though we aren’t at the Mouse’s house, we’re all still together. And as much as I wish it were different, I have to admit that I’m enjoying these days at home together just as much (maybe even more than) as our time at Disney. If I could just get someone to cook all my meals…

I have over a thousand pictures from our Year O’Magic, but I picked a few group shots to share. °o° You’ve probably seen all these before on social media, but let’s face it; this is more for me than any of you anyway. 🤷‍♀️ 

more than I ever expected

I almost hate to admit it:
how happy I am to be at home.
No errands to run.
No running late for pick-up.
The only running right now is running out of napkins.
(Who knew those would be such a hot commodity?)

But people are dying.
More people are going to die.
It’s not that I’m happy about that.
I’m not.
But I am conflicted.
The world is falling apart
– more than ever in my lifetime –
and it’s tempting to watch the news
and stay online
and read all the things
in the name of being informed.

But my heart and my soul both know
that for me, for me
I have to stop.
I have to set limits.
I have to close my eyes
and stick my fingers in my ears a bit
And focus on the only things that I can do right now.

Stay home.
Wash my hands.
Love my family.

And that?
That I can do well.

These moments with my children
are filling my heart.
Laughing with them.
Talking with them.
Just being with them.
Without practices and lessons and games.
Without rushing from here to there.
It’s more than I ever expected
in so many ways.


Four-Seven-Eight

Today went surprisingly well.
I mean, no major melt downs
or bumps we couldn’t handle.
And yet…it still seems…

so overwhelming.

We have room to roam,
a parent at home,
plenty of food (and toilet paper) –
the best of scenarios for this moment.
And yet…it still seems…

so overwhelming.

I think coming to the slow realization
that this is the new normal
not just for a few days or a few weeks
is just…
so overwhelming.

And I’m not quite sure what to do with myself.

And so I watch my kids and marvel at their resilience.
I take a moment to soak up some sunshine.
Breathe in…two…three…four…
and hold…four…five…six…seven…
and let it go…six…seven…eight…

Well, they’re home. What now?

Many of my friend’s children started “homeschooling” on Monday. My children start today. Since we’ve homeschooled before, we’re a little ahead of the game, but things are going to be very different this go ’round. For starters, I am not the teacher this time. I am incredibly thankful for the amazing teachers we have that have worked so hard to have all the materials and plans ready for us. Our teachers have done everything in their power to make this as painless as possible, but I’m kidding myself if I think it’s going to be easy peasy. But we’ll make it, and so will you.

(Gratuitous photo of my children because their cute little faces haven’t been on this blog in so long and it’s high time to resolve that)

These are a few things I needed to remind myself about before we start this journey. Here’s hoping it can help you out a little, too.

10. Have a to do list, but keep it simple.
We’ll be using BINGO charts for each kid, and I’ll be doing my 3 MITs. At the beginning of the day, I’ll write down three of the Most Important Things that must be done. It’s okay if one of those things is “Take a shower.”

9. Take breaks when you need them, but set a timer.
It’s suuuuuuper easy for your breaks to run long. So, seriously, set a timer.

8. Do work when it works best for your family.
We’re not morning people over here, so I expect we won’t start “school” until at least 9, maybe later. (Some days? Probably much later). If you have to work all day and your care giver can’t help with school work, try doing the “easy” stuff after work and save the “hard” stuff for the weekend. (Also, see number 1).

7. If you have multiple children, encourage them to help each other.
Older kids can help younger kids in obvious ways, but, believe it or not, younger kids can help older kids, too. The best way to learn something is to teach it, right? If an older child is struggling with one of their concepts, have them explain it to the younger child. Being forced to “dumb it down” is sometimes exactly what you need to make it click! If you don’t have multiple children, call us. I have plenty of extra children to share via FaceTime.

6. Dance breaks are a must.
You don’t have to be a good dancer. As a matter of fact, it’s a bonus if you’re not. I promise you’ll have even the most stoic teenager smiling if you shake that groove thang hard enough.

5. Remember that every child is different.
Some kids are going to fly through all of their work and ask for more. Other kids are going to take 2 hours to write 10 vocab words. I have one of each of those, so I know how easy it is to compare them. I promise it’ll be a lot easier on all of you in the long run if you don’t.

4. Celebrate the big stuff…and the little stuff.
Set goals and celebrate them. The super-speedy kid? Give them accolades for finishing all their work in a timely manner, but don’t forget about the kid doing 10 vocab words in 2 hours. You may need to try doing a little dance or cheer or song after every word.

3. If something’s not working out, stop and come back to it later.
If you’re trying and trying and trying and it just.isn’t.working. Just stop. Change gears. Do something different, and come back to it later.

2. Get the work done, but don’t freak out if you don’t.
While continuing education and learning is incredibly important, the main goal right now is to stay healthy. That means physically as well as mentally.

1. Remember that you are not alone.
For all of the trouble it can cause, I really think social media is going to be our lifeline during this time. Ask if you need help.

I know that every situation is different, and that for some folks it won’t be all that hard to slow down and enjoy this time with their family. But I also know that there will be many people who are having to work overtime, and it will be an incredibly difficult season. I see you. I am praying for you. I am here for you. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

P.S. I forgot one thing! The best part about schooling at home is that you don’t have to put on pants(!!!!), but in all the excitement of that, don’t forget to brush your teeth and put on deodorant.

no one ever told me

you hear all about the moods and the ‘tudes and the eyerolls
the angst and (perceived) agony are no secret to anyone
but there’s one thing that caught me off guard,
that stole the air from my lungs and left me struggling to breathe
grief
no one ever told me about the grief
no one warned me that it wouldn’t be just she who changed,
but Me
and Us
no one prepared me for that

One Thing

One Thing happened and then another and another
stacking, no piling haphazardly a top each other,
ready to crash down in a pile of frustration.

I wanted to hide, to slip away for a minute or maybe two,
but there was already someone in the staff bathroom
and there’s too much stuff under my desk for me to fit down there.

So I sit back down and look down at my MIT list*,
no idea where to begin.
“What’s the best way to eat an elephant,” I ask myself and laugh.
And I start to take the first bite.

“Ms. Ivey?”
A little head pops in my door.
“Hey, buddy. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to see if you were in here,” she says.
“Welp…I’m here!
And I’m glad you’re here…
but where are you supposed to be?”
“The library,” she says with giggle.

She goes, and I go.
Both of us doing all of our Things.
Busy, busy.
So many Things.
And my phone buzzes a reminder of yet another Thing to be done.
But this Thing?
This Thing is something I want to do.

My girls’ group.
Oh, I love my girls.
Not our usual day or usual time,
But we’ve claimed it as ours this week.
And so we gather.
And we talk.
And we laugh.
And I sit with a comb and brush all the bits of straw from her jacket
as she tells me stories of rolling down the hill
while the others color quietly.
And I sharpen color pencils as they ask for each one.
And I staple the pages of our books together juuuuuust right.
One Thing after another after another.
But these are the Things I don’t mind.
These are the Things that matter.
These are the Things that make up my days.
And, to be honest, I’m pretty okay with that.


*Most Important Things. MIT just sounds better than To Do, right?

go. go. go. stop.

Last year I started saying no more than I said yes. I started taking time to do some things I wanted to do. I started reading again. Sewing some, crafting some. For so long (too long) I let other people, circumstances dictate my time. With homeschooling four kids, life is naturally chaotic. That’s normal. That’s what it should be. We work hard in the mornings and some days we don’t have to work in the afternoon. Some days we’re still plowing through until Marshall gets home. But we have the option to take a 2-hour lunch break. Or go to the park on a lovely day. Or spend an extra 30 minutes at the library. Just because. I’ve begun to leave time in my schedule, purposely leave time open just because. And I fully believe that our life is better for it. We do one sport, one music class. That’s it. And while that may not be feasible forever, it works for now.

I don’t expect my children to be the next Mia Hamm or Yo-Yo Ma. I do expect them to work hard at what they choose to do. I expect them to play hard, to practice diligently. I expect a lot of things from them. But I also expect for them to learn how to sit and listen, how to read because they want to read. I want them to play because it’s a beautiful day. I even want them to know it’s okay to take a nap if you’re tired. Listen to your body. Listen to your heart. Fight the urge to do more, to be more unless it’s absolutely necessary. There’s nothing wrong with having drive or excelling in something. I want that for them, too! But as I try to learn how to balance life, I hope that I’m teaching them as well.

I know it’s not easy. I used to say it wasn’t possible, too. But I promise that you can squeeze it in. Five minutes. Two minutes, even. Just sit in the yard and listen to the sounds around you. Meditate. Draw. Write. Watch your children play from a place where they can’t see you. Dance in the rain. Lie on the couch and turn on a song that makes your heart soar…or settles it down…or fills you up with whatever you need. It’s when your body is quiet, your heart-gut can listen. It’s when you are doing nothing, the best ideas will flow. Not every time. But some of the time. And that’s better than none of the time.

twist and twirl and swirl

Darkness still hugs the earth,
The Sun begins her pull & tug to the top.
Something calls my name & I look up into the indigo morning.
Not quite clear, there’s a haze between this world and that.

A bright star waves good morning
And I stare closely at her.
How sad, I think, she’s lost her twinkle.
But, chin up, she has a strong, steady stare.

“Wait!” I think.
I know that look, that unwavering countenance.
That big, round body,
With an ever-swirling storm in your soul,
At the heart of who you are.
This twirl of energy defines you,
How we’ve known you for a hundred years
And (maybe) a hundred more.

But one day, one day
~maybe sooner than we think~
your heart-gut will find solace.
And the churning, turning, burning will fade away.

Everything changes eventually, doesn’t it?
Even the sure & steady.
Nothing ever stays the same.

And change is coming, you can feel it –
Not knowing quite what that means for you
Or for those around you.
We never know where the ripples of our life will reach.
And yet – for now – you just keep going on,
Going ’round and ’round and ’round some more.
Never slowing down,
Never showing all the change inside.

Good morning, Jupiter.
Your secret’s safe with me.

Outgrowing Insecurity

For some unknown reason, I thought by the time I was xx years old I would’ve grown up.
I would have learned how to balance everything I want to do.
I would know what I wanted to do with my life.
I would be able to let the little things go and embrace the important stuff with vigor.

I thought that -when I was finally a grownup – I would ‘get’ it.
I would understand the difference between right and wrong.
And I was hoping (oh, how I was hoping) that the gray areas would get smaller and smaller.

I thought that people wouldn’t act like children (myself included).
And that the middle school awkwardness would wear off.
I thought I’d be sure and confident.
And I wouldn’t be affected so much by others.

I thought that by now I’d have more things figured out.
I’d be wiser and kinder and calmer.
I’d not only know where I was headed, but I’d help others find their way.

I thought by now it would be different, I would be different.
But I’m still the same old me.

A few things have changed, though
And for this I am grateful.
I might not be much wiser in the ways of the world,
But I have learned a lot about myself.
I know that I am over-confident at times and all-too-often not confident enough.
And that figuring out when I am one or the other is the beginning of figuring out how to change it.
I know that sometimes my words are bigger and more powerful than I think they are.
And I should harness those words and value their effect.
I know that I am good at some things – very good even –
And that I should accept compliments with grace.
I know that comparing yourself to others is pointless and even dangerous to your self-esteem
And that though it looks like someone has it all, we never really know what hurts they carry.

(I’ve learned these things.  I know these things.  I know them well.
Yet knowing what I should do and what I actually do are two different things.)

But I’m hoping that by the time I’m xx years old, I’ll finally have it all figured out.
(i’m not gonna hold my breath)

the birth of words

exhausted and unable to sleep,
my brain whirs and clicks and spins

and there is something within me
something that i don’t even know of
that is aching to be freed

and i think and i pray and i write
oh…do i write!

my fingers furiously attempting to keep up with my thoughts
(but always unable)
words don’t quite form sentences
syntax and grammar hide from the fury of my mind, my fingers

phrases
come
and
go
(too fast for my hands to capture)

and, as with the pains of labor,
the words come crashing in all at once
and just when i think i have met my limit
they subside and settle into my chest
warm and ______
and my breath slows
and my eyes close
and it is over

for now.

 

and finally (finally!) i can sleep.