Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Finding Inspiration in Everything

As a writer I am always looking for inspiration.  Today I found it in my daughter, Lily.  She has completed her intensive home training! Now that she can read confidently she is off to public school again for fourth grade.  She is so excited!  She will be in a class “alone” and her three highly competitive brothers will share a teacher.  This is one of my favorites.  She doesn’t compete with them the way they do with each other.  There’s just nothing in common to compete about.  My life is simplified for having one set of instructions for the boys and my sweet girl gets to be unique without them telling her how different she is all the time.

This morning we went to school early and met the teachers before class started. Lily was beside herself with joy to see that her teacher had written her name in “the color that matches her eyes!” She made sure everyone she saw knew about it.   Her teacher is going to be the perfect match for Lily’s personality. 

When her teacher asked if she was happy to be in her own class and not with the boys, Lily said, “Yeah!  I have to be with them all the time at home.  I need some space to be without them.”  She is so definite of what she wants it’s almost funny if it weren’t so inspiring.  She told the teacher how she was going to make new friends and how excited she was to be able to have a recess with girls.  I wish I could be that focused on my goals and desires. 

I followed them all out to the playground and observed them interacting with the other kids.  My heart swelled to see them happy to be with me and happy to be on their own, just happy.  Isn’t that what all parents want for their kids, happiness? Well, I was watching them have it.  It was great until I noticed that everyone out there were boys except my girl.  She was following her brothers around until Evan stopped and had a talk with her. 

I don’t know what was said because I was too far away.  That way I can observe more realistically.  It looked like a regular visit until he flung his arm flung over her head and stretched its full length to be sure there was no mistaking which direction he was pointing.  If he could have used his arm, head and legs to point he would have.  Lily looked where his arm aimed and began walking that way.  She stopped walking when she got to the group of girls standing a few feet away.

They welcomed her and they all started talking like they knew each other already.  She probably did know them from before we started homeschooling.  I know there are lots of kids who remember Lily.  I heard them greeting her in the hallway. One mother’s eyes lit up when she saw us.  She told me how her son kept talking about how he wished Lily was still going to their school last year.  She already has her little group of fans cheering her on.

This made me wonder how many things I say that I am excited about, but when it comes right down to it, I am reluctant to jump into and do it.  Even when I already have a foundation begun.  Even when it’s right there waiting for me to take a few steps and engage. Even when I have others cheering for me.  I still find that I need an extra shove, like a brother pointing out which girls to talk to.  How many opportunities do I miss because I am afraid of leaving me comfort zone, or lack direction?

Here I am embarking on a new adventure as I am forced out of my comfort zone into the land of having no kids to care for at home. It’s like I get a ‘do over’ of when they went to kindergarten.  I was not at all organized in my thoughts back then.  I was just trying to survive and I am sure I missed plenty because of my short sided dreams.  My dreams still include the survival goals of feed kids, bath kids, breath, repeat.  But they have expanded.  I can do more than survive now.  This time there will be more. More direction, more peace of mind, more ambition, more quality in everything I do, simply more. 

I feel like this is an obvious second chance to become more.  I wonder how many other second chances I have not noticed.  I am definitely going to be more observant this time around!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Keeping it all in perspective

I have been trying my best to be observant of my surroundings.  When I see something of interest, something that doesn't seem to belong, or perhaps there is just something of any sort sitting there waiting to be noticed, I try to do just that.

Another one of my goals has been to improve the communication between my children and understand where they are coming from better.  One of my boys has been diagnosed with high functioning autism and I am pretty sure that at least one of my other kids would be if I felt like he needed label.  This motivates me to share what I observe with them.  Some of the other kids talk more than I do and so there is a bit of competition there.  More than just the sic kids trying to get a turn to talk or avoid getting told to talk.  We strive for taking turns fairly but I still want to be the mom and be in charge so it doesn't always work out.  There's got to be a balance there somehow, but that's for another story.

The other day we were driving to the music store in search of four new instruments for my quadruplets to learn to play.  They were excited and I was nervous.  Considering all my goals, I looked for a distraction and conversation. 

We stopped at a red light and I was impressed to find a beautiful new sports car next to us.  The shine of the wheels made me think I should replace that missing hubcap on our rusting suburban.  As I compared the two vehicles the thought occurred to me that it might be nice for the kids to notice what a nice thing looks like and maybe spark in them the desire to do something with their lives that could afford them a few luxuries.

I said to them, "Wow.  Look at that cool car!  It's so fancy.  I think it's a corvette."

The responses began, "Where?" But they were quickly interrupted and diverted.

"Oh, WOW!  Look at that!"  My son shouted.  It was a bigger response than I expected, but he continued shouting, "That garbage truck over there!  It's painted like a tiger!"

Everyone looked at the tiger garbage truck and ignored the money sitting next to us at the red light.

This lesson was pretty direct for me.  I don't need to find expensive things.  I need to find interesting things.  I don't need to be fancy.  I need to be fun.

We spent hours in the store looking at everything while I repeated, "Don't touch the drums. Stop touching the drums.  Did you not hear me ask your sibling to stop touching the drums?"  I wondered why I took them all there.  Then I wondered why I was still there.  After filling out the never ending paperwork and having the credit check that I didn't realize was needed to learn to play an instrument, I wondered why I didn't just take them all home and come back later without them.   But I stayed. We all stayed. The miracle was that the only one in the store getting flustered with my kids was me.

They got more excited and I got more nervous.  Would they be able to pay attention to a teacher and learn to play an instrument when we struggled so much to stand in a line?

A few hours later we placed the newly acquired trumpet, saxophone, viola, and cello with their accompanying music books and other supplies next to the piano at home.  Since I had signed the papers with half of my brain worrying about what the kids were going to touch next, I pulled out the paperwork and looked at it.  My heart stopped for a moment as I realized what had happened.

I had just brought home over $5,000 worth of equipment and I expected to hand it over to my nine-year-old kids to go play at school.

I was still standing there with the lump in my throat when my husband got home from work.  He greeted me with a kiss and said, "Let's see what you got!"  He was just as excited as the kids were.  Of course we had not discussed the foolish expense and expectations that I had just realized.  The only thing we talked about before were the benefits of playing an instrument and which ones we could not bear to listen to while they learned how to make them sound good.

I swallowed hard and started to tell him the story so he too could be enlightened of our foolishness. When I asked him, "Why didn't I just leave?"  He put his hands on my shoulders to steady me and said, "You stayed and got them the instruments because you love them and it will be fun."

I couldn't believe I had already forgotten the lesson I learned.  I need to be fun and not worry about what the money so much. Sheesh.  To think I wanted them to notice and desire expensive things  while at the same time forgetting we were already doing that.

Learning a lesson and incorporating the lesson are very different things.
For now I am going to see how many garbage trucks I can find that are painted like a tiger.  Tomorrow I might get brave enough to let the kids open their instruments and look at them.  Maybe in a few more days I will let them touch them too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes... Sort of.

Trying to teach my home schooled daughter has been enlightening to say the least.  I have learned more than I think I have taught her.  Like, how to rephrase the question to actually mean something that somewhat resembles what I want to ask.  She is a sweet girl who is very bright and gifted in many ways.  She has challenges that lead us to homeschooling which she has made remarkable progress overcoming.  My daughter is persistent, thoughtful, creative, beautiful, forgiving, and has an incredible memory.  She is also one of my greatest challenges in life. 

When she takes a test on the computer, the system grades it and we can track what she needs to study more.  Yesterday she had three questions on the test.  If one question is missed, you do not pass the test and must re-take it.  As with all tests, I let her work on it by herself.  When she came to me to report her score she was disappointed that she needed to take it again.  She had missed one question. Math is especially challenging with her dyslexia.

I asked her, “Do you know what you did wrong?”
“Yes.  I chose the wrong button to click on. Then I got it wrong.”
“Okay.  I mean, do you know how to fix it?”
“Yes.  Click on the right answer.”
“I mean, what to you need to do to find the right answer?"

At this point I am trying to figure out how to word my question in a way that won’t make me laugh or make her feel stupid or embarrassed.  Often she switches the numbers around.  I wanted her to tell me something like, I subtracted when I should have added.  Or maybe I thought the five was a two.  What she said made me send her back to the test because I couldn't find a response.

She said, “Yes, I know exactly what I need to do!” Her eyes got bigger as she stepped closer to me, waving her hand to emphasize the words as she spoke. “I need to use my brain! I need to focus and do my best, and not cry!” She stood there with a giant grin, slightly bouncing on her toes. She was emotionally ready to try again.

I sent her on her way thinking, 'If I just used my brain a little more, focused a whole lot more, and remembered not to cry when I make a mistake life would be just great'

She returned in tears confused that when she used her brain, she still got the same problem wrong.  I went to see for myself what it was and we worked through it together so when she took the test again, she passed. 

This is my mantra this week.  Use your brain.  Focus.  Don’t cry.  Ask for help.  Accept the help.  What a marvelous plan! Do you have any experience with needing to follow this plan?  Feel free to share them.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

It’s never too late.

Hi.  Welcome to my blog.  My name is Lydia Taggart and I am a writer.  It’s high time I stop trying to ignore it.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.  It almost feels like a twelve step program here, and maybe it should.  Writing can be addictive and interfere with the rest of my life.  It also is something I avoid with a passion because it is so much a part of me emotionally.

When I get the chance to write I feel liberated.  Reading and studying about writing invigorates me.  For my “real job” I substitute for a few elementary schools in our area.  Last year, when I discovered the teacher I was covering for maternity leave not only taught Literature, but she taught the same thing three times a day as kids rotated through, my heart skipped a beat.  I love words so much that I actually had a kid in said class ask why I kept singing so much.  I had not realized I was that happy until he pointed it out.  That could have been embarrassing if I cared, but any embarrassment was outweighed by the thought of teaching those snooty sixth graders about building a story!

It might sound weird, but I didn’t realize I was a writer then.  I dreamed of writing and I dabbled here and there, but it was not part of who I am yet.

Lately I have been going through a lot of regrets; wishing I had kept up my other blog, spent more time with the kids, gotten further ahead on the laundry, found the time to exercise, and made more time for my writing. 

As they say, misery loves company.  The more I thought of all the things I wish I did better at, the longer the list became.

One day, about a month ago, I heard this said, “It’s never too late.”  This hit me and my brain ran with it.

It’s never too late to say thank you.  It’s never too late to say I’m sorry.  And it’s never too late to try harder to be, or do your very best.

So, here goes.  Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog.  I hope it gives you the comfort, inspiration, and laughter you need to get through another day.  The purpose of this blog is to share my bits of wisdom, however small they may be, and funny experiences in hopes that it can lift another’s heart.    I thank the Lord for the gifts I have been given, one of which is writing.
I am a writer.  I’m sorry I took so long for me to figure that out, and I’m sorry I procrastinate so well.  (I practice procrastinating more than any of my other talents.)  Thank you in advance for being so patient with me.

This new blog is my promise to try harder to do my best, and strive to bring others along with me on the journey to greatness. 

Just as misery loves company, I have learned the opposite is also true.  The more I focus on the good, the longer that list gets.  The more I seek to lift another’s burden, the easier my load is to carry. The more attention I give to writing, the more attention my writing gets. Imagine that.

So, find a smile and remember, it’s never too late. 

Please feel free to follow my blog and share with your friends.  Make me accountable to my promise and give me the safety in numbers my fearful heart needs. Thanks!