Tuesday, September 13, 2016

And He is Off

Two weeks ago (oh how time files) we dropped Kellen off in New Hampshire to begin his new adventure as a college student. For months I've been looking toward this milestone with mixed emotions.

I am so incredibly proud of Kellen. We all used to mention him attending an Ivy League school tongue in cheek, but it happened. It actually happened for this no town farm boy, who was mostly homeschooled by a mom who was often too busy to know what he was really doing, and who finished school at a small private school that didn't offer all academic bells and whistles many of his current classmates had.

I worry about him. This is going to be a challenge. I remember the rude awakening I had my freshman year of college. It was different. I actually had to work for my grades. I found I really didn't know how to do that. I imagine Kellen is going to have a more intense version of that experience.

I worry about him keeping his focus and his priorities straight. Ivy League or not, school isn't everything. It isn't even the most important thing. College is pretty much synonymous with distraction. I pray he keeps his heart soft and turned to the Lord.

It is hard to let go. Kellen is incredibly responsible and wise for his age, but still a momma doesn't want to let her (18 year old) baby go. He truly is functioning as an adult now. He has to manage his time and his money. He has to make decisions and face challenges that may have long lasting consequences. He is too far away for me to rescue, even if I wanted to. He is on his own with my advice only if he asks me for it. I am entering the empty nest stage, and that transition is hard to swallow.

It is even harder alone. I am sure if Tim was still here we'd still be a little sappy about our first born leaving and our family dynamic changing, but we'd also be cheering a little on the inside. We had big plans for those empty nest days. Maybe not specific plans, but plans to enjoy our job well (we hoped) done. Plans to enjoy each other without the constant interruptions where we could do what we wanted without the input and opinions of four others. We loved our kids and we loved our family time, but we loved being us even more. Tim always said we were raising them to leave us, but we never got to see that side of it.

People have asked me repeatedly if I cried when I dropped off Kellen. I didn't, but I am now.

With Kellen being so far away in a part of the country I have visited little and the other kids not at all, I decided we will make a mini vacation of taking and picking up Kellen from Dartmouth. Driving there will likely happen just twice a year. He will fly back for the shorter breaks. This trip out we went to Niagara before dropping Kellen off. The younger kids and I stopped at the NY Finger Lakes on the way back. We did have fun, and it did break up the very long car ride.

Kellen will be fine. I am confident he will thrive there. I will be fine. It is just another life change that I have no power to stop even if I wanted to. It is just this life.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Moving to West Virginia ala Lydia

The last few weeks have been. . well let's just say intense. New schooling, a mini vacation, and taking a kid far far away to college has been. . . an adjustment. I intend to post about these things sometime when I can get my head wrapped around them, and find a few minutes to compose them into legible sentences. but I just had to share this.

Lydia's first writing assignment was to write a memoir. I love her take on this story, even if she has taken a bit of artistic licence with some details. She is just a gem.

Moving To West Virginia
 “Well, I’ve done it,” my grandfather announced, proudly, during dinner one night.
  “Done what?” Mother replied.
  “Bought land to build a farm, of course,”
  Mom and Dad dropped their fork.  “Did what now?” Dad said in shock.
  “Bought land to build a farm,” Papaw answered, simply, as if he were discussing the weather.

  In the year 2004-2005 my mother’s parents decided to pick up their belongings and move four hours from Akron, Ohio to Wild and Wonderful, West Virginia. This subject had been on the table for mere months, but Papaw, being Papaw, bought it without a second thought. And so began our new adventure.

  I remember one time Mom and Dad took me and my two brothers to visit the new farm. The mini-van had about a fourth of a tank of gas. So poor Mother, having no clue about country life vs. city life, decided to pull into the first gas station she could find. There were, of course, no gas stations unless you went into town as all the locals knew. We, predictably, ran out of gas before reaching the land that was to be our new home. Papaw and the neighbor, John, had to come to our rescue with a can of gas and snacks.   
  Not long after our visit, my father took a job selling music, pushing him to join my grandparents in West Virginia. My mother began packing up our little duplex with the help of Kellen, my eldest brother. Three months later we were settling our lives in a single wide we shared with my grandparents. Soon after that we switched to tents on our new 104 acres of land and finally graduated to our own separate mobile homes. By that time Mother was hugely pregnant.  My baby sister, Vivian and spring had come with them hundreds of oak, maple, and ash trees leaves.

  Our first animal was small mutt puppy, named Pac. Pac was the first of many creatures to join the team. My favorites will always be the ones that ran around in John’s barn and pasture. Papaw had left early one morning to pick up a sofa from some odd town a few hours away. When he came back that afternoon he had twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face.
  “Lydia,” he whispered to me, “I have surprise for you, but you must promise to share it with your Mamaw, OK?”
  “OK,” I replied.
  Everyone piled into the car and headed to the barn. Instead of a sofa, Papaw brought home a tall brown horse, who was very pregnant. I was beyond ecstatic. Mamaw named her Sophie to remind Papaw that the horse was not part of the plan.  After Sophie gave birth to Biscuit, Papaw decided that he should have a friend, and so came along Diamond and eventually Diamond gave birth to Ruby.
Years passed and we had acquired piles of junk, that no one had any use for. Cows were constantly escaping the fences that we had no time to fix. The goats were heavy with milk because we had no time to milk them. The sheep were sweating bullets because we had no time to shear them. So we downsized to gardens, pigs, and chickens. We battled them for another four years.

  In late fall of last year we went back to Akron to visit some friends. The day after we got back Kellen and I caught Mom looking at houses in Wadsworth, Ohio. And so began a whole new adventure. By spring we had house and two acres of land.   

 My father always said that “Failure is your friend.” We had failed many times in our years of farming. Small failures such as a cow escaped the pasture, a raccoon hunted a couple of chicks for his dinner, or the mothering sow lost a few piglets after giving birth. There were big failures too like not ever building  proper houses and just living in mobile homes that were way past their prime, not going through our messes that piled up after eleven years of living there, or not being able to keep up with the farm after Papaw and Dad passed away. We may be back where we were in the first place, but we’ve learned and we’ve grown and now we are living the life in front of us.