Blessing or a Curse

Our family has had the privilege over the last year or so of learning Arabic from native speakers who started as friends and are now family.

Our family has had the opportunity to experience how badly your brain can hurt from learning Arabic.

There’s a reason it is considered the second hardest language for English speakers to learn.

Many of the sounds are different.  Sentence structure is often different.  Greetings are very different.

Let’s start with the alphabet.

My girls have been painstakingly working their way through the alphabet as well as adding vocabulary.  My lessons have not involved written Arabic, rather, I am trying to sort out the spoken.

Turns out Arabic has 18 conjugations for almost every noun and verb.  By way of comparison, Spanish has 6 verb conjugations.

And Arabic has these greetings that not only said at specific times for specific reasons but also have particular answers.  I’ll give you an example with it translated into English.

You come home from work and have been busy, I say–“God give you strength.”  You say, “God strengthen you.”  There are many others.  My favorite is “Kaif Halik (how are you)?”  “Alhamdhallah (Thanks be to God) or Ashkurallah (God is good).”

I enjoy seeing how they all fit together, but I find it hard to remember what I am supposed to say when and how.

Yesterday, Caitlyn was struggling to remember her new words for this week’s lesson.  She is used to everything except math coming very easily.  Arabic had her mad.  How dare it be so hard?  I totally relate!

Today in history we were studying the tower of Babel where the people on the earth had gotten very proud and decided that they could build a tower that would reach all the way to heaven.  Rather than letting the people be destroyed by their own pride, God introduced many languages, so the people no longer could talk easily to one another, rather, they had many different languages and communication was instantly more complicated (Genesis 11:3-9).

3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

And it has worked, hasn’t it?  Things are much more complicated than they would be if we had just one common language.

So Caitlyn, building on what she had said yesterday about it being hard, said, “see it’s a curse!!”

But is it?

Yes, it definitely makes things harder, but our language is also part of our identity.  It is part of what makes us who we are.  It is not just a bunch of sounds strung together.  It is how we see the world, how we do things.  It is the respect we show, the respect we expect.

It is also a way to bond with people.  If you even just try a little to learn someone’s language when it is not your own, you have instantly shown them honor, that you value them.  And when the words don’t come out right–you can bond over laughter–like the day I told a lady, I would bring her a house (bayt) when I meant to say I would bring her a book (ktaab).

Yes, learning Arabic is hard.  Really hard,  but that first time I was able to tell one of my friends that I loved her in Arabic, it was all worth it.

So, while Caitlyn may be convinced it is a curse to learn Arabic, it will continue to be part of our

The Depths

Eight years ago I was in a fight for my life.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis had taken hold of me after Patrice was born.

It is much too easy to remember the desperation of those days…being busy with the girls non-stop because I knew if I stopped or slowed down I would fall apart and I was just as certain that if that happened I would not be able to pick up the pieces.

I remember looking at my newborn sleeping–so jealous that she could sleep and I could not–knowing that in a few short hours my other girls would be awake and there would be no time to rest–and yet, I couldn’t sleep.

There was the day I took a very new baby and her two older sisters across town to a play place.  Our A/C was out, it was hot and I could not stay home.  I could not sit.  Hubby was home that day, what if he saw what a mess I had become, I could not bear to have that happen, so away we went.

Daily, I reached out to my midwife for one reason or another.  She was a friend and I instinctively knew she was safe.  She was so patient.  She talked me through my desire to disappear, she passed on recipes for butternut squash.  She helped me find help when the inevitable came and I did fall apart and I couldn’t pick up all the pieces.

Eight years ago, many doctors, medications, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and a few hospitalizations later, and here I am.  Is it easy–nope, each day is a balance.  Is it possible, yes.  Am I thankful–more than you will ever know.

The Lord has brought me through so much.  He has brought a calling into my life–a couple of them really, and He has brought me my tribe–those women who love me, reach out, and help me take care of myself.  I am so thankful to Him and all of them.

Eight years ago.  Eight years ago.

Fall is Settling In

This last week we took advantage of the flexibility of homeschooling and went camping…we packed up Frazier, our Arabic lessons, reading, and Bible and hit the road.  We became mosquito fodder for a few days as we enjoyed the quiet of Lake Michigan.

We came home in time to start our homeschool co-op classes.  Patrice is taking gym, kite making, and games.  Sue is checking out gym, kite making, and sports info.  Caitlyn is learning about immigration and refugees, games, and photography.  I am teaching the class on immigration and refugees and helping in the games class.

Friday we headed to the library after our studies at home (they were not so thrilled with the double portion of math…but that’s the price you pay for going to the beach!)

I am enjoying the cooler temperatures as my runs get longer–my next half marathon is less than a month away.  Saturday I ran 8.5 miles.  I am happy to report I didn’t run out of stamina, I just ran out of time as we were headed to visit with friends for the evening.

Daddy got super brave and asked Caitlyn to trim his hair.  She said later, “I’ve been teasing him for so long that I would do it, but once he asked me to, I was scared!!”  She did a great job!!

Heart On My Sleeve

I remember when Caitlyn was born discovering how painful it was to love someone other than yourself.  I mean, I love my husband, no doubt about it, but there is just something about that baby.

Digital StillCamera

I went back to work when she was 10 weeks old, but before that, I stood in Target one night crying because she was growing so fast and was going to grow up and leave me.

Here we are 12 years later–I want to throw up each time I think of her growing up so quickly.

Then came Sue…

And finally Patrice.

I love them so much.   How in heavens name could I love anything else?

But then…

I’ve had dogs most of my life and I really loved my Stuie…but this guy?  We got him for the girls…and I got a dog.  He doesn’t snub the girls like my mom’s dog did me when I was growing up, but he’s my dog.

He runs the vast majority of my miles with me (11.5 this last week), he is incredibly grounding and comforting for me when the Bipolar gets overwhelming…I love this little guy.

Then over the last week he started coughing here and there…until yesterday when he would cough so much he was throwing up some.  I have been panicking.  My mind of course going to every worse case scenario possible.  I even asked my Sunday School, you know, a room full of adults, to pray for my dog…

He seems much better this afternoon.  I even think we have narrowed down the issue (kennel cough?) which is easily treated.  I am so relieved.  And so hopeful that my little running buddy will be back at it soon.

(It drives hubby crazy how much the dog is up on furniture, but he is so gosh darn cute and I think he is a huge part of how well I am doing with the bipolar…having him curl up next to me is better than any of the medications they have given me)

Protecting Me

How do you do it?  How do you homeschool your kids?

Some days, I don’t know.  I love homeschooling my kids and having them with me.  That closeness is a lot of why I first considered homeschooling.  But I am, at my core, an introvert who requires time to recharge on my own–alone–away from people–quietly–and there is not a lot of that when you are a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of three girls, ages 8, 10, and 12.

And there is the husband who likes to talk.  And going to church with people.  And I have an amazing tribe of women in my life that I love spending time with.

All of these things are fantastic, and I wouldn’t change them, but I can end up tapped out before the day even begins.

That’s where distance running comes in.  Today, I logged 7 miles with Frazier.  It was incredible.  I waved at a few people and they waved at me, I  listened to a book on Intercessory Prayer, told the dog to heel, and ran for over an hour and a half…that’s it.  For once, I didn’t wish I were a faster runner, though I am a little embarrassed to say how long my runs take, I just felt the power of being able to put one foot in front of the other for that long.  And when I finished, I knew I could have gone farther, likely, much farther.

I am home now, needing to take a shower, but I wanted to process some of this first.  The gift that is the time it takes me to run the distances I want to go.

The school year will start the week after next.  There will be more in my day and the time to run my distances I love so much will be harder to find, but find them I will, no matter what it takes.

I am blessed to have the time with my girls.  I am blessed to have my time to run…one makes the other possible.

Running Partner

I follow a lot of runners on Instagram and they all mention how great a running partner is.  Thing is, I am too slow to run with anybody.  I once tried to join the local running group and they told me they didn’t have anyone that did slower than a 10-minute mile but they would give me a map I could follow–gee thanks.  I can make my own route…I was interested in running with somebody.

Then, for a short time I could run with Caitlyn, but she is faster than me and trying to get her to run is very difficult.

I gave up on running with anybody and just ran for myself, but I was kind of bummed out.

Then this little dude came along.

His legs are long enough to run with me but not so long that he’s dragging me.  I have started taking him with me more often.  The other day I tried to sneak out without him and he was having nothing of it.  He now gets excited just seeing me in my running clothes.  He does 4 miles easily, though by the end he is slowing down.  I don’t know how much further he can go–I might have to sneak out for my longer runs, but for now, I am really excited to have a running buddy.

Hubby still sometimes makes the silly mistake of thinking he is the girls’ dog.  Nope, he is mine, all mine.

 

Fourteen Years in the Blink of an Eye

14 years ago, and a few hours ago, I got the call that my daddy was dead.

At 52 years of age, a car accident took him from us.

Was he perfect?  Heck no.  He was gruff, often sounded mad, and stunk at staying in touch, but he was mine.  He taught me to tie my shoes, ride a bike, built a pair of stilts for us to play on, did fun things when I least expected them,  taught me to change the oil in my car, and change the brakes, taught me to work hard and always to the best of my ability.

He only met my husband to be a couple of times and never met my girls.  I told him about my engagement over the phone, but he was gone 2 weeks later so never saw me get married.

Every year I look for ways to remember him.  He died before the age of taking pictures all the time so I’ve about reached the end of my collection, but last night we were at the county fair, and while I don’t remember us going to the fair often as a kid, the fair last night had something that very much brought my daddy to mind.

Tractors.

Farmall H and Allis Chalmers to be exact. Those were two models I know he and my grandpa Dussel shared over the years.

This Allis Chalmers happens to be from the same year my dad was born.

I’ll just be over here shedding a few tears.

Teeny Tiny Dancer

Last September we decided to add another layer of learning to Sue’s love of theatre.  She began dance lessons.  Today was the culmination of her 9 months of hard work…and we were wowed!

My first attempt at her makeup.  I found myself completely overwhelmed by the prospect of doing her makeup.  In some ways, I am pretty girly, in other ways, not at all.  I wear makeup very rarely and have never put it on someone else.  There were some adjustments, but we got it sorted out and her on to the next step.

Caitlyn stepped in to help with more bobby pins and some safety pins…nothing fell out so she obviously did a great job!

Waiting for backstage to open.

We were in the second row so I could obey the rules of no flash photography and still get pictures of Sue.

We got a surprise at the end of intermission when Sue was one of the students awarded a star for her commitment, helpfulness, and improvement throughout the year.

After a lunch/dinner, Sue put away her costume but wasn’t quite ready to give up the crown.

Sue had decided to take the summer off from dance, but now she’s not so sure… Regardless of what she decides about classes, she will be singing and dancing throughout the season as she prepares for the next show at the community theatre–Hello Dolly!

 

The Long Run

Let’s just start with I did it.  I didn’t know if I would be able to, but I did.  Eight days ago I started and completed my second half marathon.

And this weekend I began reading a book about optimal nutrition to lose weight while running long distances and for pre- and post-race.  It makes hubby just chuckle.  I said I would never run another half after the one in September…and I just finished my second and am now studying nutrition for continuing this type of long distance running longer and am already prepping mentally for my third one.

This second half started off really hard.  I accidentally found out most of this half was off-road, which I have only run once ever.

It started off in grass.  With the final pacer asking me in the first half mile if I could run faster because I was not running the required minimum pace.  I bawled like a baby for the next mile until another pacer started running with me and slowly I calmed down.  From there on out the volunteers and people along the way were amazing.

They had water almost every mile.  They even offered beer, mimosas, and bacon at the halfway party point.  I only needed to use the water I brought once toward the end.  They had funny signs, people cheering, and at one of the biggest hills they had people dressed up as superheroes to run up with you–Wonder Woman and the oldest runner guy I have ever seen were on either side of me as I went up the huge, dirt hill at mile 8.  The pacer running with me told me, “this is called the 8-mile holler because you will be hollerin’ by the time you get done!!”

My running companion would go just a bit ahead as we got to the groups of people cheering and tell them my name to people were cheering specifically for me.

Marilyn disappeared for a bit and I was joined by one of the medic guys on a bike.  I don’t know how he went that slowly and kept the bike upright, but he did.  He complimented me on how incredibly consistent my pace was.

I was rejoined by my pacer and the sweeper who swore I was going faster than he at mile 9 so he didn’t force me off the course–and this guy.

I thought he was just a piece of wood as I ran up to him–when I realized he was a turtle of that size–the sweeper took a picture of him for me as I kept moving along.  And slowly mile 11 was done.

I came in dead last, but I did it.  All 13.1 miles of dirt roads, two tracks, and hills, with just a few paved miles in there.  And I did it in just 2 minutes more than my all paved maiden half marathon last September!!!

The sweeper could not believe that I was undertaking this race as my second half marathon.  Turns out it is considered one of the most beautiful and one of the most difficult halfs in the country!!

 

Running with the Girls

Saturday I modified my half marathon training to run a 5k with Caitlyn and Sue.  We ran the Mind Over Matter 5k to raise money and awareness to fight suicide.

It is a lovely course and incredibly important cause.

I was so proud to run with my girls.

We worked hard and all made it to the finish.  This race is one we will always have on the schedule.

Most of the time I run just for me.  Saturday we ran for others.