Science Fair Saturday

She did it!

My 11 year old daughter proclaimed herself a scientist and received a “Superior” rating for her efforts. The reward? A trip to the Regional Science Fair this Saturday.

Before you step back in awe and amazement, let me assure you Einstein’s position in history as one of the greatest geniuses of all time is pretty well secure. Sierra’s Science Fair project, “Get Ready…. Get Set…. Chew!” is all about chewing gum. Her participants, (read family), tested five different chewing gums to determine which one had the longest lasting flavor. The hypothesis declared a particular brand and amazingly was proven correct. No great, life changing discovery, unless you work for Wrigley, Cadbury, or one of the other manufacturers of chewing gum.

This Science Fair project offered another type of education, however. It empowered my timid little girl giving her a huge boost of confidence and self esteem. Sierra is a bit of a late bloomer and a day dreamer. If I had to predict her future I would pigeonhole her as an artist or wistful poet. No one would ever accuse her of being too academic. In contrast, she is surrounded by older siblings, who tend to be high achievers. Being one of the youngest in a large brood, and especially being a girl on the brink of adolescence, can be a recipe for self esteem drags rather than boosts. The Science Fair, however is evolving as a bit of a turning point for Sierra in her journey of claiming her individuality and catching up. She is the first Spoerndle to ever attend such an event. We are all very proud.

After a mountain of bureaucratic paperwork to get her registered, and a hefty (in my opinion) registration fee, Sierra is ready for the Regional competition. It’s an all day affair complete with fancy awards. The Superior rated students will travel on to the State level and beyond that who knows? It’s a dream almost too big to contemplate, even for my little day dreamer. You never know though. Perhaps the biggest lesson this competition will teach my daughter is that if you can dream it, you can be it!

You go girl!

The Fight

“You are just going to have to deal with it Mom. You’ve raised us to be strong women and we are going to have our own opinions on some things!”

It was meant to sting. It was meant as retaliation in the midst of a disagreement. But, those words spoke to my heart. Those magic words, “You’ve raised us to be strong women….” rang in my ears and my head over and over. It was a clear, defining moment of parenthood.

My oldest daughter spoke them in defense of her not so much younger sister. We were in the midst of a disagreement; or let’s just face it, a knock down, drag out fight. I couldn’t agree with their opinion of the moment. We were divided and angry. And then the moment shifted with that simple statement.

Strong women! It was one of those rare paycheck moments of parenting. I held onto the truth of her utterance and savored it.

When you are a stay at home Mom, especially a stay at home, homeschooling Mom for most of your adult life, you don’t get many pats on the back from the world. In fact, you spend most of your days helping your kids and most of your evenings doubting if it is really worth the struggle. There is no paycheck, no awards dinner; no public recognition. In fact, most of your friends, and often your family, think you are crazy, or worse, wasting your life. It’s a constant state of struggle to maintain your self-esteem and fortitude to continue. The reward is at the end of the journey, and the journey, is long.

But then, one day you are standing in your daughter’s bedroom door, in the midst of a struggle, and words are spoken to reward the work. One day, your daughters  stand before you, in the face of adversity, and declare they are strong women! A defining statement, uttered in the heat of battle, becomes a gift. For despite the difficulties, despite the countless moments of doubt, insecurity, and negative messages from the world, you are reminded that it was worth the struggle.

Standing in the midst of middle age, I do not have a fabulous career. I don’t even have a real job. I am still working on my education and trying to determine my future. I am full of insecurities, self doubt, and live in a constant state of struggle with the world. I am riddled with questions of why.

I have taken the “road less traveled” and sometimes feel like I am paying dearly for it. And then suddenly, unexpectedly, the truth appears.

Despite many wrong turns, despite self doubt and worry; I have done one thing right. I have taught my daughters to be strong women.

I savor the moment; the parenting paycheck, and feel unbelievably blessed.

The Sixth

My youngest son, Aidan is the stereotypical youngest of the family. You know the type; the baby, the center of attention, an easy going personality with endless amounts of emotional flexibility and accommodation. I have determined, based on my position as the mother of a large family, these personality characteristics, whether genetic or environmentally developed, equate to survival skills as the youngest of six. Very few situations rattle or deter him.  A social butterfly; it could be said that everybody loves Aidan and Aidan loves everybody.

Last week was the first week back at school after a 10-day holiday break. Having just experienced the ultimate Lego Christmas, Aidan determined his first object for “Show and Tell” Friday would be a newly acquired Lego Ninjago Fighter plane. This Christmas marked a milestone for his development. Not only had he acquired his first really huge, ultimate Lego set, but he built it entirely by himself. A proud Lego enthusiast, Aidan was ready to share this accomplishment with his 2nd grade class.

I came back home after dropping Aidan at school on Friday and discovered the Lego creation, still in it’s bag ready for transport to school, sitting on top of the kitchen table. I felt  a pang of disappointment for Aidan. Despite his best intentions he apparently was distracted as we left the house and left the Show and Tell object behind. A brief consideration to run the bag to school flickered through my mind easily dismissed by the logical conclusion that our home is a 20 minute drive from the school. “There is always next week”, I resolved.

Reunited after school, I quizzed Aidan about his day. He recounted the menu at lunch, reminded me he had “NO HOMEWORK!!” and chatted about his impending sleep over that evening at a friend’s house. I remembered the Ninjago bag and asked him if he had been disappointed he forgot it.

“No”, he said, “It was okay”.

“What did you share for Show and Tell ?”

“Oh, I just showed everyone the Coffee Grinder (a dance move) aaaannnd my little plastic dinosaur”.

“Your plastic dinosaur?”

“Yeah, I found it in the coat room before Christmas and it was still in my desk.”

And there you have it. A perfect summation of my son, Aidan, and the sixth child’s endless ability to adapt. Always ready to perform at a moment’s notice, Aidan is the physical embodiment  of “The show must go on”. Forgetting his  presentation that day, he could have passed on his turn. He could have fell to pieces, lamented his misfortune, or passed blame on to his mother who should have conceivably remembered to remind him that Friday was “Show and Tell”.  Aidan didn’t waste time with any of that. Instead, he examined his resources and mustered up a “Show and Tell” presentation that capitalized on his opportunity to shine.

Aidan’s example is a handy lesson to remember as I Keep Calm and Carry On.

Hurricanes in Ohio

I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life and today was another Ohio first for me. Hurricane Sandy, a Frankenstorm, they say, moved in last night and took up residence for a few days in NE Ohio. High winds, rain, and flooding were enough for most school districts and businesses in the area to wave the white flag, so I joined suit and took the day off. For me that meant a day off with power.  What can I say?  I live in no man’s land and for once my remote hillside equated with security and electricity to boot. I feel a bit guilty at my fortune as I watch the storm on TV. But, I needed this break and it feels like a much needed staycation rather than tragedy.

I have accomplished all the required activities of a pajama day at home. I watched all sorts of daytime TV, played with the dog, ate lunch in my kitchen, wrote countless emails to “catch up” on correspondence and of course cruised Facebook without guilt. Best of all, I remembered I had this blog, patiently waiting for a moment when creativity would be allowed its moment in my generally overcrowded schedule.

Today I learned that ABC has a new talk show that follows “The View” called, “The Chew”. I now have a new resource for recipes. I also bore witness to The View’s 3,000th show and ached for Michael J. Fox as the evidence of his Parkinson’s ruled his visit with the ladies on today’s show. I met Kelly’s new co-host who replaced Regis this past Fall. I had time to remember my former life of stay-at-home Mom and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I became a bit nostalgic for the little faces that used to surround my days at home,  now off in college classes.

Life is always sending forth reasons to spin out of control. But today, a hurricane blew into my hometown stirring up some much needed personal relaxation. I found some time I had thought I lost. It was time claimed to re-focus, so I can “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Welcome to my life and my blog!