Saturday, June 28, 2014

Buy The Dress

I found the perfect mother of the groom dress at 75% off.

Wait, what? Wasn't the previous blog post about the oldest just graduating from high school?

Yes. I'm a planner. Plus, 75% off.

I queried my Facebook friends, who were nearly unanimous in their delight to spend my money. Get the dress, they urged. Some even argued I would find "many uses" for it. For a full-length, sequined gown? Perhaps they confused my stay-at-home mom life with, I don't even know whose life, maybe Vanna White's?

I bought the dress. Alas and alack, it doesn't work. "Mist" is not my best color.

Oh, well.

I don't know if I would have used it for a mother of the groom dress anyway. However, the experience reminded me of another dress I bought for "no reason" half a lifetime ago.

During a summer while I was in college, for no particular reason, on a day like any other, I went into a dress shop in my hometown. I had never been in that shop before and I don't recall ever shopping in it after that.

On that no particular day for no particular reason and for no particular occasion, I found a great dress. Black velvet, two piece. The peplum top had an elaborate sequin pattern and the skirt was the perfect length. The dress was $99. Back in 1987 or 1988 that was a lot of money for a dress, especially to a college kid whose cash came from waiting tables at Ponderosa.

I loved that dress. I dragged my mom to look at the dress. Mom is a frugal lady who hates to shop, and I was under no illusion that she would perceive need or reason for the dress. I just wanted her to see it. Mom liked the dress too. I thought and I thought and I thought.

And darn it, I bought that $99 perfect dress. I don't know why. I needed to. I didn't wear it--where does one even wear a velvet, sequined dress--but I was glad to own it. I moved it with me down to North Carolina after I graduated from college.

During a winter years later while I was in graduate school, for every reason, on a day unlike any other, I was wearing that dress when I told a certain (dare I say wonderful?) young man who asked me to marry him, "Yes." Tomorrow we celebrate 23 years of marriage. Life is short. Buy the dress.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Valedictorian of Our First Graduating Class

Meet the valedictorian of our inaugural graduating class. Before our home boasted a whole riotous handful of noise makers and chaos creators, there was just this guy. Cute, isn't he? 

He always was.

The little boy who hated change so much he would cry when we bought him new sneakers ended his high school career by giving a final presentation and hopping on a plane the same day to go to his college orientation. I stayed in the terminal, watching him until he passed through the entire security line. He didn't look back.

I suspect this may be an indicator of things to come.

He graduates with many honors and national distinctions and scholarships, but if you ask me what makes me most proud, I will tell you two stories. Jack taught a boy in AWANA for several years. That kid noticed that Jack's Bible was beat: dog-eared, well-worn, underlined, used, and used up. The boy asked if he could have it when Jack bought a new one because the boy thought it was cool to see a Bible that the owner obviously read daily. Of course, Jack gave it to him.

That's a legacy that matters.

When I served the two-year-old Jack his dinner, he would usually ask me, "What is it? Where is its head? How did it die?" Teenager Jack will often move worms off the driveway after a rainstorm to keep the worms from drying out and dying on the asphalt.

If he's nice even to worms, I figure his future wife and children will be blessed indeed.

We've been blessed to be his parents. Happy Graduation, Jack!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Student Government, Homeschool-style

Participating in student government can be difficult for a homeschooler. "Vote for me for Class President!" Congratulations to the decisive winner in a 1-0 landslide.

Several months ago, our town advertised for youth delegates to the actual city government. Most committees and the city council itself were accepting high school juniors and seniors to join them for the upcoming year.

Our 16-year-old son decided to pursue a slot on the Advisory Cultural committee. After completing his application essay, he wanted to submit it to the email address listed. I received the full eye-roll from him when I explained it would be better to drop it off in person at the city office building. Matching his eye-roll with my steady gaze, I added that he would drop it off wearing decent clothing. Not jeans. A shirt with a collar. His heavy sigh lost out to my, "I will brook no argument on this" raised eyebrow. Off we trotted.

Long story short, and as you probably already expected, the kid ended up meeting the mayor while dropping off his application. No eye-roll or sigh when I told my son that now it was time to run home and email the application as well with a cover letter telling the mayor how much he enjoyed meeting him today.

If this had been the only experience connected to our foray into city government, I would have been well-satisfied with the lessons learned.

Much to our delight, the kid landed a spot on the committee. Not only did he sit through the initial meeting, but he was given real work to do. This committee has 91 applications before it with requests for $3.2 million in funding. The committee actually has $2 million to disperse.

Watching our teen evaluate every application and hearing some of his thoughts about them fascinated me. He railed against vague assertions in some of the written grant proposals. He recognized and flagged some concerns for project aspects that conflicted with his Christian beliefs. No, none of those hot-button issues, something more surprising. I could not have been more proud to see him forego a simple response and honestly wrestle with what it means to be a representative who is a Christian and one who also believes in diversity of viewpoints.

After many hours of work, he completed all 91 proposals. To his dismay, he was also a half-million dollars over budget. I watched and continue to watch his cutting procedures and priorities. His criteria definitely gain sharpness and focus with each round of cuts and each corresponding result of still coming in over-budget. This, I tell him, is how fiscal conservatives are born. This, he tells me, is agonizing. Welcome to the real world, young man.

The last committee meeting in the spring will allow public comment on the board's funding decisions. The kid will hear from some disappointed people.

One common argument against homeschooling is that it keeps our kids in a bubble, locked away from the real world. I don't know about that, but I do know that without the efficiency of our homeschool, our son would not have the time to serve on such a committee. Traditional student government in a high school certainly offers kids a meaningful experience. I have a hard time envisioning how it could be more real than what we found to fill the niche of student government, homeschool-style.