Stewardship of the Earth

>> Saturday, January 22, 2011

I just finished reading Green Like God, an exploration of how God feels about creation and our responsibilities as found in the Bible. While it does cover environmental topics and provides facts and figures for how many of our choices destroy the Earth, it really is focused on the idea that we should care for ecology because God found it good, graced it with His presence in Christ, and put us here to take care of it. It was extremely convincing, and very insightful regarding the nature of God, pointing out different angles of verses and original languages that I hadn't noticed before.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, and recommend it, and don't know what impact it will eventually have on my bank account, as I spent the last two hours browsing farm co-ops, free range chicken eggs, and prices on the shares of local cattle. I'm also contemplating line-drying and unplugging stuff to save on power use, and composting and focusing more on the garden this year (I always say that!). Some day I want to be able to afford a proper rain barrel and some solar panels, but I think that's a long way off. Lanse is going to be so annoyed with me wanting to go off and make lifestyle changes again. We'll see how it works out.

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Keeping Busy

>> Friday, January 21, 2011

Despite the claim I just made that I'm relaxing, I keep getting up to accomplish things. Do you think that foster/adopting mothers nest? It kind of feels like that's what I'm doing. A few days ago I cleaned and organized the kid's room far beyond what was necessary for the DSS meeting, sorting out the closet and the toys and getting an idea of what all we have in there. A couple of weeks ago I had also sorted and binned all the baby clothes we have. A few days ago I organized our movie collection and made a list of all of them (189, I believe, not including the ones copied from TV onto VHS) in a sortable spreadsheet. Not related to the kids, but it was a rather obsessive organizing moment.

Yesterday I emptied and cleaned and reorganized the upstairs closet, which had become a dumping ground for things we would put in storage, but didn't want to put in the attic because of the southern heat. Now it looks tidy and some things did end up in the attic for now; but except for the large boxes of CDs and bringing things downstairs (Thanks, Lanse, for helping!), I did all the work myself, hauling things around. Totally not like me, but I had a good time. Then I spent the evening at the Eastvolds where I carried Juliana around (LOVE the baby!!). I'm not complaining in the least - I'd totally do it again - but I'd forgotten about the stuff-hauling, and now my lower back is a bit unhappy.  Ah, well.

We have a project in mind to cover the one tall wall in the attic so that we can put shelving in and not have fiberglass insulation getting into our things. It'll be about $60 for the wall part of the project, which isn't bad, so say about $100 if you add in the shelving. But it'll mean emptying the stuff out of the attic, which is NOT a fun idea right now. We might do it anyway though, we really need the ability to organize.

Today I need to finish writing the 10 page autobiography for the foster clearance, which must be hand-written and made the arthritis in my fingers flare up really badly. I got 7 pages done on Wednesday before my finger locked up. I think I need to get back into playing piano purely for therapeutic purposes. Then I need to organize paperwork and set up a system of record keeping for the kids, a separate binder for finance records, observation sheets, that sort of thing. For that, we need to replace our printer ink. I guess shopping is in the plans now too.

I've also been reading a bit obsessively, which is fun. Hmmm... Lanse rightly pointed out that computer games eat my brain, another way of pointing out my obsessiveness.  Maybe I'm just feeling out of control of life, going to obsessive detail when I do things?  In any case, I appear to have controlled my day to be: complete one project, read one book, play one game until I get sick of it, and interact with people. I've also been getting an evening movie in most nights this week, which is nice because it's snuggle time with the cats. Since the busy crazy time last month, they both curl up on me if I sit still in the evening, and we just love on each other. I say that accounts for a relatively healthy and balanced day; not too much to do, and not too little, though I do feel I'm still sitting around the house a lot.

I'm also a few days late on the budget, which is what happens when you can't print anything. I can put it together, but the routine we had is thrown off, and that doesn't help the stress levels any. Time to figure out what we can afford to do and what we can't this month.

Let's see... what else?  I have a couple things to finish up for school yet, some letters to write to folks who helped me out - which need printer ink to send - and I have to take my financial aid exit interview thing. I was notified that the federal government is moving all my loans to one location and (probably) consolidating them, which annoys me, but will make it much easier to track. They used to be held by three different places with different websites and logins. Now I just have to figure out where they are and we can see what the status is.

I don't remember if I said or not, but the handbook on graduation  said that degree conferral was applied at the end of the 12 week term, and it takes up to 12 weeks for the diploma to arrive in the mail. Well, apparently someone's really on top of things, because I got email that my degree was conferred on Wednesday (three days after my last course, not the end of the 12 week term) and that it will take 2-4 weeks for my diploma to arrive. So much quicker than expected! I'm psyched!

Oh, it was also my birthday last weekend. I'm 34 now. Every year I look at myself in the mirror and go, "Oh crap. I'm an adult." And then I choose something I'm going to be very adult about (who needs New Year's Resolutions when your birthday's in January?). Last year it was washing my face every day, and I failed pretty quickly, because I'm lazy and don't like getting wet. This year it's flossing, and I've gone a whole week so far. I didn't floss last night because we're using those disposable Y-flosser things, and Lanse has the package in his bathroom, and I was tired enough I didn't want to go get a new one since my supply ran out. But at least I still feel bad about it! A package of flossers for me is also on our shopping list. They say three weeks makes a habit, so hopefully I'll be able to mindlessly floss every day once the kids arrive and I'm fully distracted.

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Forgotten update

For anyone who may only be keeping up with us through this blog (though I don't think there really is anyone, but just in case) I realized I forgot to update from three posts ago.

The week before Christmas our cat Colin went off to chase mice in our heavenly mansion. I trust he'll keep it clean and cozy for us until we need it.

Also, there have been updates on the adoption blog, which you can find on the link at the top of the page.

Christmas was a mixed bag; it was good to see relatives, but it was a really stressful point in my life so it got a bit difficult at times. Mostly I'm grateful to have gotten settled back into a post-holiday, and even post-sick-cat, routine. We think our other two cats have settled into their new routine and hierarchy, and it's much more relaxed around the house now. Since school's done, and the social worker was extremely optimistic, I'm allowing myself to use a couple weeks to recharge and rest before children arrive. I do need to set myself a 'time to get back at it' date, though, just in case it takes longer than expected.

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Finished!

>> Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Well, I've done it. I've graduated!  This morning I received the email stating that my degree has been conferred, and my diploma will be received through the mail in 2-4 weeks. I am now officially in possession of a Bachelors of Science in Child Development with a specialization in Preschool.  Anyone have any kids for me to teach?

Many, many thanks to my wonderful husband for your encouragement and support and excitement when applicable, to my enrollment advisor Scott for enrolling me, to the accommodating directors of local preschools who let me observe in their classrooms, to my wonderful friends who have kids who let me observe in their homes, and to all my other friends as well for being supportive and caring about my future.  And finally, though first of all really, thanks God for arranging my life to make this work. THANK YOU.


And now on to bigger and... well... different things! 

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The habit of feeling

>> Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm now in my final countdown for school. My final day of class, which they count as my official graduation date, is a week from Sunday. For this week's homework, I did three different self-analysis worksheets to determine my level of skill in a wide range of teacher-related areas so that I can develop my career plan.

While working through the questions, (most of which didn't apply because I need to be currently working in a classroom in order to answer them,) I came across this statement: "Becoming a Professional: I identify with and conduct myself as a member of the early childhood education profession." My immediate response was, "I'm sorry, I'm a what?"

Twelve years ago I failed to complete my college education. Two years later I fell into a part-time position in an elementary school, and my first teaching semester was a disaster by many accounts. A few years of administrative assisting and I found myself once again back in the classroom, but this time it was challenging and exciting and working with the children filled me with joy.

But I always knew that I didn't have any training. I had three years of college English, so I knew I could teach beginning reading and writing. I have an instinct for children's needs and fun ways to teach things like math and science - if we toss out the curriculum - but I knew that I was leaving out important things and truly feel that I was one major player in the way the school ended. Had I focused and prioritized, had the uncomfortable conversations, and told the whole truth regardless of the discomfort it would cause others, we may have pulled through. I described myself as a teacher, but I knew I was lying as surely as we know the sun has risen even when it's storming. I was just saying it to make myself feel better, to rationalize the heart and soul and sweat and tears that went into that job. Because if I couldn't say I was a teacher, the other terms that applied weren't at all complimentary.

That job ended when Lanse's did, and we moved here, where I tried to explain to potential employers that I was a teacher, but not really, but sort of. Tried to cover my internalized incompetence with the words "apprentice" and "teamwork". In the end, it was unanimous: I have applicable skills, and lots of potential, but I don't have my degree. I'm not really a teacher. Sorry. Best of luck.

So I went back to school. And now, after 12 years of feeling incompetent, I will be allowed - encouraged - to be a professional teacher, seen from every angle. Yet, I can't see it. Feeling incompetent has become a habit that I can't seem to drop. Me? Capable? From a science-fiction perspective, I imagine it's like standing on another planet vastly different from ours and being hit anew with the shock every three minutes or so, thrilled and excited with the scenery but desperately confident (and terrified) that you'll wake up any second now. It would require the kind of internal change that, right now, I can't even fathom. To live in the habit of feeling confident and capable is as foreign to me as the scenery on that far off planet.

Rumor tells that habits can be broken. Someone, somewhere, stated that it takes only three weeks of focused attention to the habit-replacement before it sticks. So I guess that by the end of January I need to somehow adopt the habit of feeling capable. Somehow I need to change my mind, so that I can change my answers from "Needs Improvement" to "Highly Accomplished". 

Aside from turning my thoughts inward and smacking those negative thoughts down a hundred times a minute for three weeks - or having a real job doing these things - I really don't know how to do it.

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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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