Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Friend Indeed

Me, Carla, Norma, and Janet at T.O.W, April, 2007

I have a good friend named Carla. When we first moved to Cody, she called me and invited me to a weekend retreat called Time Out For Women, sponsored by Deseret Books. Someone had dropped out of their group and they needed another person to buy her ticket (thank you, Stacey). During this trip I got to know 3 inspiring women I would have otherwise probably shied away from. We found common ground and shared stories and, well, bonded.
Later that year, Carla began a Writer's Club, and put hours of work into our monthly meetings, where we have a short grammar lesson, a prompted free-write, and study an aspect of writing, like character development or conflict. Then, we share projects, bounce ideas off one another, and laugh. A lot. We linger, not wanting to leave, but we have smiles on our faces. The club is the reason I have re-discovered my love for writing. We chuckled when we realized it was mostly made up of our Time Out For Women group, so we named it T.O.W. (Time Out for Writing).
Now, after a year and a half of struggling with our oldest son, Braeden, Carla has again played a part in my life.
Braeden spent a couple of years resisting bullies. Last year, though reaching test scores beyond others in his class, acing every test, and being classified as 'genius', 'gifted', he slowly shut down... failing classes and withdrawing. His smile, always present before (we called him "Smiley-B" the first ten years of his life), faded. Of course, we stepped in, addressing the bullies, and with the help of the school counselor, were able to pull them out of the picture.
But, damage had been done. Braeden continued this year, to slough the classwork, ace the tests, and withdraw. With high school starting next year, we had to do something.
The teachers assured us, "It will be better once he gets to high school." And, "There are worse things he could be doing."
Yes, but, we want our son happy, now. We see his potential, and we see his joy of life gone. We want him to know success after hard work. We want him to feel he is worth something in this world. We had tried so many different things. We were at the end of our rope.
Enter Carla. Carla home schools her son, who is Braeden's friend. My husband suggested I talk with her, see if she had any ideas (this was huge, considering my husband's career in the public school system). As I spoke with her about the things we were facing, she was filled with compassion. We were soon discussing possibilities, answers to prayer (hers and mine) for these boys, and I began to feel hope... that we could do something.
We are nearly through our first week of home schooling. Carla is teaching her son and Braeden together, and I am helping however she needs me. I get to teach art class on Thursday, and I will be supervising Braeden's Algebra daily.
Here is the astonishing thing. Braeden has color in his cheeks. The dark circles under his eyes are gone. He falls asleep at night. He is smiling again, naturally. His jokes at the dinner table are not sarcastic, and he is eating. He has practiced piano every day, and even plays again in the evening, just for fun. He read his assigned biography in one afternoon, without me asking.
I feel like I'm getting my son back.
I really have no concerns about my younger kids surviving middle school. But kids are different.
What would we have done without Carla? I don't even want to think about it.
I know this is just the beginning, and we will have to be diligent, but what a motivator, to see the light back in my son's eyes.
I hope he remembers he loves to learn. And I hope he feels he is worth something in this world.
Thank you, Carla. You are a true friend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Family Togetherness

$150,000,000. For a party for himself. $150,000,000.
The last guy to spend anywhere near that much on an inaugural bash was partier Bill Clinton, and even he kept it under $60,000,000.
People, we just put a teenager in the White House.

Enough of that.

I would like to tout a game. I am very pleasantly surprised with our gift from Santa this year. We asked for something that would bring our family together in a fun, carefree way, that would draw us from the corners of our home, and would also further us in some way as growing individuals.

The answer: Rock Band II on the XBox 360.

I know, I know. But, really, we have never gathered together in our family room so often, busy Dad included, to unwind and pound out a few songs. Never have there been so many words of encouragement, high fives, smiles of achievement, then after a few sets of Fleetwood Mac, Bon Jovi, and Foo Fighters.
Sure, at first, there were some discussions about who got to play what instrument and which song, but that seems to have settled into a groove, as it were.
Even Maren, 6, has evolved from strictly singing, to quite a good drummer, and was proudly telling us this morning at breakfast how she doesn't have to pound red and blue at the same time, but can keep the rhythm of blue and hit red every other beat like she is supposed to.
Dad has his band, Bio-Hazard. He plays bass.
Mom has her band, Persuasion. She rips on drums.
Jacob has his band, Brokin Bridgez. It is misspelled on purpose after true rock band form. He sings and plays lead guitar.
Chelsea plays guitar and drums.
Braeden will rock on all four, wherever we need him.
We all play on each others bands and try to help on our tours, gaining fans and money so we can buy cooler instruments and as modest apparel as we can afford (fortunately, the modest stuff seems to be cheaper).
Sure, it's all fluff. But we're together, and we're smiling, and feeling really good about learning to play a fake instrument.
Kind of like the Partridge Family. Heh, heh.

And, now we have something really good to take away as a punishment. It's heartbreaking.

Woohoo! Let's rock!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Music For The Inn

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I have this thing about music to go along with these stories I'm writing. So, here is my playlist for The Inn. Enjoy!

Disco Party Fever

Groovy, Marsha, I can totally dig it. Right on. Cool. Do the hustle.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Resolutions, Writing, and Roller Disco

I was going to post some pictures from the holidays, but I think our camera took a ride to work with Brandon. That's all right. I'm actually holidayed out. We had a fun break, then just made it through some illness, and yesterday I finally took the tree and decorations down. I still have the outside lights to do, but it's cold out there!
So, what do I write about, now? New Year's resolutions? I completed a couple from last year. I feel good about that. This year I've decided to focus on what comes out of my mouth (kind words, prayers) and the things I do (inviting a happy spirit, seeking out purpose, serving others).
I also will be re-working a book I wrote about some personal trials we've been through (you may have read some excerpts in Drops Of Ink, below right). I will be trying a novel based on a true story... which I am finding difficult, only in that it is hard to give something so personal over to a fictional character. What do I even name her? I am finding writing very interesting that way. Fictional characters come to life for the writer. I've said this before. It is very odd and a little unsettling, but I love it. So, I'll try.
We are going to a disco-themed party Friday night, so I am going to visit the Bargain Box today to see if I can find some out-a-sight threads. Brandon will be sporting a fro, and I will attempt to feather my hair. Starsky and Hutch, Love Boat, and CHiPs, Bee Gees, and John Travolta, we salute you. We'll see if the pictures are blog-worthy... Does anybody have a white suit with a wide collar? Ooh... roller skates. That would be fun. Wish us luck!

Wow, just listening to this song... I'm skating around my garage in my bright blue sneaker roller skates, wearing my Charlie's Angel t-shirt and dark blue jeans with a fat comb in my pocket. Can you understand the lyrics? I've got the Night Fever part down. Ah, well.
Shelli, Mike, Me, and our cousins Sean, Jessica, and Cassi...
so excited about an afternoon at Skate King. Notice the hair is perfectly feathered. And yes, that is our awesome VW van.