A Half-Year in Review

Today, July 2nd, is the 183rd day of 2013 and it’s midpoint, with 182 days passed and another 182 days to go. It’s been quite a year so far.

I began January, and the New Year, with a new word. I thought through a few options before settling on “balance.”

(I) like that balance is both a verb and a noun (that’s the writer in me again) and it seems to be what’s most lacking in my life right now . . . I see in it something I find missing in my own Sturm und Drang existence. Yes, drama is great for art, but it’s not so good for real life, and we all deal with enough uncertainty in life.

So “balance” it is. My word and my goal for 2013.

It’s been a real struggle, far more than last year’s word was, but it’s still my goal.

In February, I noted a major step in my daughter Anna’s progress in learning right from wrong.

Julia and I were in the bedroom chatting when Anna came in. She was crying.

“Mom, Dad, I fibbed. Please turn off my computer.”

“What was that?” I asked. Neither of us quite understood what she was saying.

“I got a reminder today and I said I didn’t.” More tears flowed. “I hid it at school so you wouldn’t see.  I’m sorry I fibbed.”

We could tell that she knew she did wrong and she was genuinely upset about it. I turned off her computer and we discussed her punishment.

“Anna,” Julia said. “You know you did wrong in school, and that lying about it was wrong too.”

Anna sniffed and nodded.

“But you also did the right thing in telling the truth.”

We still had to punish her, but we lessened the punishment as a reward for her making the right decision.

In March, I put together a short list of “Empowering Books for Young Girls” inspired by a simliar “Mother-Daughter Book Club” list for older girls compiled by Lori Day.

As much as they both love to read, I can see Julia and Anna in a mother-daughter book club in a few years. In the meantime, I’m saving Lori’s list and putting together one of my own for younger girls.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s just a handful of books (or book series) that Anna really enjoys, and that feature girls around her age as either the primary or secondary protagonists.

Since I complied this list, she’s progressed to beginning chapter books, adding the Ivy and Bean and Junie B. Jones series to her favorites. We’ve also reread the Ramona books and she does a pretty good job reading the first paragraph of each chapter on her own. In another year, I think she’ll be able to read them on her own too.

In April, I reviewed Scott Benner excellent memoir, Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal.

This is a funny, moving, and inspiring book by a man who’s been an at-home dad for almost twice as long as I have. It is filled with hilarious anecdotes, great advice, and touching moments that ring true throughout. I quickly lost track of the number of times I nodded along with some story that paralleled a memorable event in my own life.

Benner also has a great ability to pull both humor and wisdom out of so many mundane situations. Most notably, laundry.

Hence the title. I stumbled across this book and requested an advance copy. The timing worked our perfectly. I posted my review the day the book came out, and it has since become a sensation (not that I had anything to do with it). Scott has appeared on both regional and national television and seems to schedule a book signing about once a week. I’m happy for his success. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer, or more deserving, guy.

May was when things got tough. The big event was supposed to be the first Apraxia Awareness Day on the 14th, but the next day we had to say goodbye to a beloved pet. I posted a prayer the day he left us, and then a longer reflection a week later.

It’s still hard to believe he’s gone. He was with us for eight-and-a-half-years; almost his whole life. He was only four months old when we found him at Zany Zoo in December, 2004. He was in a pen filled with young lop rabbits and he got our attention by climbing into the food bowl and standing up. I think he was begging for pellets, but the sight of him in the bowl was so cute. Our decision was made.

He was a wonderful, beloved pet, and his loss sent us into a tailspin through the second half of the moth.

June wasn’t much better. Our issues with Anna’s school reached a breaking point and we had to make a tough decision.

The good news is that we’ve found what we hope will be the right school and we were able to get in this late with no difficulties—we’re actually in their school zone, but that’s another story. We were worried how Anna would react but she’s looking forward to the adventure. New school, new friends! That’s who she is, our “Adventure Anna.”

It’s been a long year, a long, hard few months, and a heartbreaking week. But we are moving on.

Summer break.

And then Fall, and a new adventure.

She didn’t take the change as well as we thought. She nervous, though she won’t admit it, and we’re slowly talking it out with her and doing our best to set her mind at ease.

So it’s been a busy and at times difficult six months. My sought-after balance has been hard to come by as one thing after another conspires to knock me down. All I can do is get up when I fall and try to get my balance back again.

So how has your year been so far? Has it been a struggle? A blessing? Or both?

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