Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Letter to Myself

I have kept a journal since I was 8.  My first diary has Holly Hobbie on the cover and little lock and key.  I still have it.  Along with the more plain locked diaries with the flowing "My Diary" script on the covers and the cloth covered journals and notebooks that I used as I got older.  In more recent years, I keep a blog that is viewable only by Blog Authors (me!) as my journal.  I can access it from anywhere and don't have to worry about accumulating more boxes of leather-bound books to gather dust in the attic.

In 1988, on my 16th birthday,  I decided to write down what was going on in my life on a sheet of paper.  I wrote about the boy I liked, how much I related to Catcher in the Rye, how annoying my parents were.  I wrote about my friends and my feelings and my dreams.  I also wrote a list of things that I wanted to remember when I became a parent! Ha!

I put this paper in this little wooden box that my grandmother gave me.  Her mother had given it to her. It is a model of a hope chest.  Salesmen would use these to entice people to buy hope chests and somehow - maybe the salesman left it behind? - my great grandmother had been in possession of this little model hope chest and she had given it to my grandmother, who had given it to me on my sixteenth birthday.

When I turned 17, I laughed over what I had written the year before and wrote about the boy I thought I was in love with, my best friend, my parents, all of the places I would go now that I could drive....

I have done this every year either on or around my birthday.

And every year, usually on my birthday, I take some time for myself and read through all of these papers.  I recall my best friend calling me from a pay phone by the high school cafeteria to see if I passed the test to get my driver's license on my 17th birthday; I recall going out at midnight on the eve of my 21st birthday for my first drink - the first, last and only Long Island Iced Tea I ever drank - with that same best friend; I recall the first birthday I spent with Jason and what a special celebration he created; I recall the birthday I celebrated a couple of weeks after finding out we were pregnant with A!

This year is no different.  After skating with my girls at homeschool roller skating, I dropped them off at choir.  Jason was not yet home from work, so I took the time to look through the box and to write about this year.  Our first year of homeschooling.  How awesome and wonderful it is to spend the time with my girls.  How I feel like in a way I have figured out how to -just slightly - freeze time because I get more time with my girls who are growing up so fast.  I wrote about my concerns with them not being part of school and our efforts to make that a non-issue.  I wrote about how Jason and I have grown together, all of the things we enjoy.  I wrote about how blogging has enriched my life, connected me with people I never would have known, given me access to so many ideas about family life and homeschool curriculum and ideas.  I wrote about friends that I have had for years that I am still close with and how much it means that they called me on my birthday and we talked when so often our correspondence is slapdash email and facebook and the occasional wonderful meal at a nice restaurant.  I wrote about reconnecting with friends on facebook and how thankful I am to have their friendship, how wonderful it was to talk to them this morning and how much joy and understanding they bring to my life.  I wrote about work and the awesome friends I have met there and how sometimes it is hard to balance everything, but I think it is so positive for my girls to see me working and to be part of something like the public library.

I feel like my life is exactly where I want it to be.  I feel like I am exactly where I was meant to be.

I love my life!

Also, birthdays are a great time to make a new start.  I did not do well at all with Project 365, but I love the idea of posting a photo a day.  So I am going to change my Tumblr to Smelling The Roses and I am going to do my very, very best to take and post a photo a day, but if I miss a few... I won't feel the need to beat myself up.

I gave some thought to the blog too.  Originally, I started blogging because I love to write and I wanted to chronicle our family's life.  I believe every family has a story to tell.  I love to walk or drive down a residential street and try to imagine the lives of the people in the houses.  I like how blogging gives you that little glimpse.

We had been unhappy with the public school and were considering our options.  Reading and developing a rapport with homeschool bloggers taught me so much about curriculum and that not all moms are patient 100% of the time (Lord knows I am not!).  The homeschool blogs gave me the first kick toward really thinking I could homeschool and encouraging me to seek out homeschoolers in our area.  I love reading about other homeschool moms' creative ideas, how they use curriculum, plan their day and manage their time.  I like that my girls can learn about blogging through connecting with other homeschool kids through their blogs.

 But what I like even more is that my blog has encouraged me to take more photos and to work at taking photos, photos of my girls that I will treasure forever.  I love that it has become a dynamic virtual scrapbook of our lives.  I love that both of my girls can access this at some point in the future.  I love that my close friends, my mom and uncle and Jason's aunt and stepmother can get updates emailed to them and access our photos.

I also love reading about how all families - homeschooling and non-homeschooling - manage their time, traditions they have, foods they cook.  I love reading other mothers' (homeschool & non-homeschool) thoughts on teaching their children values, managing their children's use and exposure to technology.  Some of my favorite blogs, such as Clover Lane,  are written by non-homeschool moms who don't like the politics of PTO (something I can relate to) and who have inspirational words about giving, simplifying one's life and living within their means.  One of my favorite bloggers, Suzette at the Frat Pack + Me blogs about the little things in life as her boys are growing up.  I love that slice of life stuff.  I relate so well to it.

So...although I plan to still blog about homeschooling and to participate in homeschool blog hops and such, I want this blog to be more about family life.  Traditions.  Values.  Managing resources.  Handling issues that arise.  Decorating.  Cooking.  I don't want to segregate myself off as a homeschool mom and my family as a homeschool family.  I am a mom.  My family is a family.  We deal with the same things that any other family deals with.  My original description was: the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of an average middle class American family in the 21st century.  And that is what I really want this blog to be about.  I apologize if you find that sort of thing boring but I am more interested in a dynamic virtual scrapbook of sorts for my family than in solely writing informational posts about curriculum and science experiments (although I'm sure there will be some of that, too, as it is part of our life!).