Homeschool (unschool) author Karen M. Gibson shares her personal thoughts on life, raising children, writing and home education in her archived blog entries.

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Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind!
~ Data to the Borg Queen

    The Writing Well

    March 2003 Archives

    About The Writing Well or anything else on this site? E-mail me and I'll add them to the comments page!

    March 20, 2003

    Have been so busy that I forgot all about writing here. Trying to get accounts all up to date and organized so that I can get our taxes done. Ours are so complicated, having to do so many different ones for different businesses and different states that I dread them every year. So this year I've been trying to work a bit each day on getting them ready, rather than a massive dose at the last minute. Still stressful. Still time consuming. But a bit easier to handle.

    I find, though, that my mind does not wrap around both numbers and words at the same time. Working accounts, paying bills, and balancing checkbooks numbs my mind enough that any creativity for writing is gone, gone, gone. Not good at all.

    Yesterday I visited some good friends and we had a wonderful afternoon sitting around the kitchen table - munching, knitting, sharing, commiserating - it was wonderful. We need to make it a regular occurrence.

    The weather today is so glorious. It's upper 70's and sunshine. The redbud is just beginning to pop out. I've been outside walking twice today and it just feels so good to have the sun shining!

    March 9, 2003

    Ah, Spring. Glorious Spring. Sunshine, warmth, daffodils, and … mosquitoes!

    When I lived in upstate New York, I didn't see a mosquito until summer, and then only in the late evenings or extremely warm cloudy days. You knew it was summer when a mosquito bit you.

    So what a rude awakening it was when I moved to our 5-acre woods in north Alabama and discovered that mosquitoes are prevalent on any day where the temperature rises above 60, regardless of the time of year or the amount of sunshine. We quickly discovered that we could not leave our windows open, no matter what time of year, because the mosquitoes were small enough that they would enter through the screens.

    And sometime over the last couple of years a new type of mosquito discovered us, the Asian Tiger mosquito. He's quick (or should I say, she's quick, since it's the female of the species that does the biting), he's aggressive, and his bite is nasty. The bite will itch for much longer than the regular mosquitoes we were used to.

    So now we do not venture out of doors for very long unless we put on bug spray. An annoyance, to be sure, but necessary considering the diseases that are spread by mosquitoes, including the infamous West Nile Virus. Each year we say we need to put up birdhouses to attract purple martins, since they feed on mosquitoes, but each year we somehow never get it done. I sometimes think it would just be better to move to somewhere that doesn't have all this undergrowth and low-lying wet areas that are perfect for breeding mosquitoes.

    I am not complaining, though. I'll take spring and summer and fall, with its warmer temps and sunnier days and mosquitoes, over the cold, drab, wet winter we just came through! Break out the bug spray and mosquito repellant candles! Spring is finally here!

    March 6, 2003

    Tuesday was my youngest brother's birthday. As usual, it came and went and I did nothing more about it than to send a quick e-mail to him. No phone call. No birthday card. Nada. I hate the fact that we live so far away and don't see each other frequently. And I hate the fact that our lives have become so full that we don't even find time for a simple phone call. I miss having my brother in my life on a daily basis, even though it has been over twenty years since that was the case.

    I am extremely proud of the man that my little brother has become. As a child he was always pushing the envelope, testing people, relationships, and circumstances to the limit. Always underneath I would see the little lost boy wanting desperately to be loved, never quite sure how to make it happen and usually choosing the wrong path. All I could do was be there for him when he needed a friend and hope that he would eventually find the life and circumstances that would make him happy and let him know that he was loved.

    The neatest thing about my brother is that he is still a kid at heart, even though he is now an adult with all the accompanying responsibilities of work, marriage and family. He still sees the joy in life, the fun in life and is not afraid to express that joy. He is a great father who, busy as he is, still finds time to spend with his children, knows their interests, and enjoys being with them. He is a very caring person and I am so very happy that he is my brother. I love him very much!

    March 5, 2003

    Recently, I have been thinking about the changes that karate has created in our lives, sort of weighing the pros and cons. I don't hesitate to recommend karate to someone else, but exactly why is that? Why do I consider karate to have been a good addition to our lives, especially when I take into account the amount of time it takes up in our weekly schedule? The reasons are different for each child.

    Our eldest child (age 18) has her advanced green belt in karate and also holds an orange belt in jujitsu. She has always wanted to be involved in some activity that involves a lot of challenges, physical exertion, and self-motivation, activities like cross-country biking, mountain climbing, and hiking. Right now karate seems to fulfilling that need. It has caused her to get in great physical condition; she likes the way her body feels as it has become more toned. I also have seen that karate has been good for her emotionally. On days that she is particular moody or out of sorts, participating in karate class, with it's allowable release of energy, picks up her mood and usually makes her enjoyable to be around again. She enjoys karate and jujitsu so much that she says she will always stay involved with them.

    Our middle child (age 15) was the last to join karate. He has never been a physically active person, preferring activities of the mind to that of the body. He is also not competitive, so team sports have never really appealed to him, although he did play soccer for a few seasons, which he enjoyed. After seeing his siblings take karate lessons for a few months, though, he thought he might like to give it a try. He currently holds a beginner green belt in karate and recently expressed an interest in trying jujitsu. Karate was quite a struggle for him to begin with, since he was so out of physical condition. But as the year progressed he began to become more proud of his achievements. He still does not have the competitive drive necessary for competing in tournaments and such, but he does enjoy his classes and he does like the fact that he can now keep up and even sometimes surpass some of the accomplishments of the other students. I don't know for how long he will continue with karate. I hope, though, that it has instilled in him the habit of physical activity and an appreciation of how much better he feels when his body is physically fit.

    Our youngest child (almost 13) is a very competitive and physically active person, who continually seeks physical and mental challenges. Karate provides both for him. He currently holds a beginner blue belt in karate and an orange belt in jujitsu. He competed in his first state-level tournament last month and won first place in his division for weapons forms. In addition to the opportunities for physical challenges and competitions, though, I have also seen a change in his mental focus. The more energy he exerts on karate, the more focus he has left over for mental challenges, such as reading and math. If he goes several days without participating in karate classes, it is as if his energy level builds up to the point where he can not concentrate on anything for any period of time. At one time our youngest thought he might want to be a basketball coach, since coaching others in a sport really appealed to him. But now that goal has changed to possibly having his own karate school, which he feels would be the best of both worlds. Not only would he be his own boss and have his own business, but he would be able to combine his love of physical activity and competition with coaching others.

    Yes, karate takes up a lot of time, especially when the youngest is working to preparing for an upcoming tournament. Last month (the short month of February) he spent close to forty hours at karate, taking classes and practicing his forms for competition. And yes, it is expensive, especially when you begin to add in the cost of gear, graduation and belt fees, and tournament fees. But overall, based upon the positive changes that I have seen in all three of our children, karate has been, and continues to be, one of the best investments of time and money we have made for them.

    March 4, 2003

    Oh what a difference a bit of sunshine makes! People smile and laugh. They are energized. I am energized! Even though it is beginning to cloud up again this afternoon and we're forecasted for more rain, it is warmer and supposed to stay warmer. The peepers have even been out the last two nights … of course, they need to freeze off three times before warm weather is truly here, but Spring has to be on it's way!

    Now if I could just have everyone healthy at the same time, wouldn't that be an accomplishment. This has been an awful winter for sickness. Saturday the youngest child came down sick with some respiratory bug (cough, sore throat, slight fever, stuffy nose) and he's been parked on the couch since, requiring attention and claiming possession of the remote control for the TV/VCR. Today he seems a bit better, finally - better enough to get up and head for the computer games. Of course, you know what that means! Middle child wakes up with the beginning symptoms of the same bug and makes his claim for the couch and remote!

    Did I mention that spring is in the air? My daffodils and primrose (all one of them) are in bloom!

    March 3, 2003

    I love haiku, although I don't consider my attempts to be very good. The sun is shining today, though, and I'm in a celebratory mood!

Clouds, gray drab blanket.
Never a ray of sunshine
No end to Winter.

Rain drizzles coldly
Mud, gooey puddles of slime
Sucking away life.

Spring hesitating
Daffodils yearning for warmth
Life granting sun rays.

Sun! Glorious Sun!
Cloudless sky, beautiful warmth,
Sun teasing, tempting.

    March 2, 2003

    Music. My life needs more music. My soul demands more music!

    Music has always had a position of importance in my life. Music can affect my mood, my emotions, more than most any other influence.

    My earliest memories are of music. I remember sitting on the chest freezer in my cousin's kitchen listening to our moms picking guitar and singing country songs on the local radio stations. How cool that was!

    My mom used to sing such songs as "Kawliga," "Your Cheating Heart," and "This Ole House" to my brothers and I. What fun we would have singing along. Even today, some 35-40 years later, I can still remember most of the words. Hearing any of those old tunes will immediately set my heart to singing and my feet to dancing.

    I must have gotten my very own radio in 1969, since the first songs I remember hearing over the radio were "Dizzy" (Tommy Roe), "Build Me Up, Buttercup" (The Foundations), "Sugar, Sugar" (The Archies), "Hooked On A Feeling" (B. J. Thomas), and "Crimson and Clover" (Tommy James and the Shondells). My children find it uproariously funny when I start belting out the lyrics to any of these when they come on the radio.

    I played "Close To You" by The Carpenter's over and over after moving to another school system in fifth grade. I was desolated upon leaving behind the love of my life and even now I can see his "eyes of blue and hair of gold" … at least, I think that's what he looked like!

    "Benny & The Jets" by Elton John played from the car speakers at the drive-in on my first date. Funny thing is, I didn't like that song at the time, but now when it plays I just smile and sing along.

    The fall of 1977 found me in a dorm room at college, homesick and lovesick. My boyfriend (& future husband) loaned me his 8-track tape of John Denver's Greatest Hits. My roommates quickly got so tired of hearing 's "Poem, Prayers, and Promises," "Rocky Mountain High," "Follow Me," "Goodbye Again," and "The Eagle And The Hawk." Hearing any of these songs today brings back those bittersweet feelings of love, joy, and longing that his music gave me then.

    When I was pregnant with our first child, my favorite song was "Danny's Song." The lyrics "And even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey, Everything will bring a chain of love" expressed my anticipation and joy so succinctly. Many artists have recorded "Danny's Song," but my favorite version is by Annie Murray.

    Play any Beach Boys tune and suddenly I see our youngest child in his walker, keeping beat the beat of the tune with his bouncing. Man, he loved those Beach Boys!

    And what would music memories be without those songs that make me weak in the knees? There's Garth Brooks' "Shameless," Bob Seger's "Night Moves," Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night," and, most recently, Toby Keith's "You Shouldn't Kiss Me."

    Somewhere, somehow, over the years I quit having music playing during the day. Nowadays about the only time I hear music is while in the car, and often that is not the music I would choose to listen to. I think I will get my stereo working again so I can listen to all my old albums and tune the radio to some Golden Oldies station. I am definitely going to ask for a CD player for my birthday to put in my bedroom. I need music. I need those endorphins music pumps into my body!

    March 1, 2003

    Why "The Writing Well" you ask? Because I am a well of writing that needs priming. I know I have writing ideas and material just waiting to be brought to the surface, waiting to be put on paper, but for some reason they are just not coming to the surface.

    When I was a young girl, my grandmother's home was the most magical place. Even though it has been over fifteen years since I was last there, I can still smell and almost taste the unique perfume of Grammy's house: molasses cookies, fresh wildflowers, and that musty, damp smell that comes from a house that is closed up all winter. Outside her flowerbeds were in colorful bloom, the grass always needed mowing, the maple trees spun their helicopter seeds, and the profusion of lilacs scented the air for weeks.

    What I remember the most, though, was the water well and its pump, an area conversely fraught with danger and delight, fear and fulfillment. The well pump was on a small shady knoll. As I would walk up the path to the well, I had to be careful not to slip on the moss covered stones that surrounded the well's wooden platform. Even more dangerous to me, though, was the possibility of snakes. On any day there could be several snakes enjoying the cool shade and dampness of the well platform. They were nothing more than green garter snakes, but for a child petrified of any snake they might as well have been boa constrictors or rattlesnakes. The mere sight of them would cause me to freeze with fright, back away slowly, and run for the house. And the next time around I would be doubly apprehensive about going to the well. And yet, go I would, because there was nothing better on a hot summer day than a drink of cold well water!

    Some days, though, the water didn't come simply by moving the pump handle up and down. It needed priming, which meant that I had to go back down the slippery stone path, keeping an eagle eye out for snakes, get a glass of water from Grammy's house, make my way back to the well, and then pour the water down the pump while moving the pump handle up and down. If I was lucky, one glass of water would do the trick and I'd cup my hands to catch the cool, sweet water. If not, I would have to run back inside and get another glass of water and prime it again!

    You might wonder why I didn't just drink the water from the house instead of going through all that effort to get the well water. After all, it was the very same water! As a child, though, I knew there was a difference. The well water from the pump was sweeter and colder, more refreshing. Or maybe it was just that the danger and excitement, the sense of accomplishment, made the water taste sweeter and feel colder.

    My writing needs priming … a few common words trickling down the well to get the steady flow of cool, sweet words flowing again. Ahhh …how welcome that would be!

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