How do you keep 52 or 58 years brief? Here’s where we are as of early 2106.
Married in 1985, 28 wonderful years
7 children later – b28, g25, g23, b21, b16, g9, b8 and 1 little grandkid, and a June wedding around the corner.
About 10 years in our current Hangar home on Historic Zuehl Field. Really we live in a Hangar but what most people say when they come in is, “It looks just like a house.” Mostly because it is just a house tucked inside the hangar.
We’ve lived in Houston, just south of Boston, Providence RI, back to Houston, to San Antonio and now on the outskirts of that lovely city. Michael grew up in a “Goodwill Hunting/Mistic River” kind of triple decker neighborhood called Fall River, MA and Sue grew up at Malibou Lake, CA and an organic farm in Oregon with some time at boarding school in Santa Cruz. Kind of Dharma and Greg like 🙂
We were thinking about what major life events brought us to this point but realized it was a series of events and responses to those events that has led us here and that’s really how we continue on our journey, one day, one choice keeping in mind the end goal which for us is keeping our family healthy and whole.
Sue is a dreamer and a planner but much better at the first one. Michael is the funder of dreams and the checker of plans. Although it must be said that Michael’s dreamer self has started to emerge in his passage through the “you’re going to die” stage two years back.
Sue started on her homeschool journey after her mom forced her to accept two college scholarships and she decided to become a teacher then decided she didn’t want any of those people teaching her future kids and figured out why she’d always hated school except for a very, very few exceptional teachers. At the birth of their first son a friend gave them the book “In Their Own Way” by Armstrong and that kid didn’t go to school until he was 15 when he went to college, which being like his mom he didn’t enjoy except for the few exceptional teachers. Last year our current 15 year old went to the local government school which turned out to be a joke and all the rest were homeschooled start to finish. Well, not quite finished because the little peeps are 8 and 9 and we get to watch our granddaughter who’s 3 and a friend’s 4 year old.
Like most homeschoolers we started with very little money and did an unschooling adventure by gathering from the library and free local events and resources along with hand me down books. Then we started gathering curriculum and we realized last year 26 years into this that we had more fun before we could afford curriculum so at this current juncture our homeschooling is taking on a different form where we’re putting the curriculum further back on the shelf. That’s another story.
Michael became an accountant and has continued basically in that vein for 30 years. His dad said, “Become an accountant and you’ll always have a job.” Well he was right, but while Michael loves his company and enjoys his job, Michael’s passion isn’t his work but the end of the day when he gets to come home. That’s now, back in the day it was all work and no family time. Another great story. . . .
Children are a blessing from the Lord – it’s true! We think this almost everyday 🙂 One of our very first discussions sitting in Michael’s VW Scirocco in front of Sue’s house was about children, lots of children, adopting children – you know a 19 year old and 24 year old making big plans for the future. Michael is the sixth of seven children and Sue is the seventh of seven and we both liked that. We liked our big families and we loved that our mothers stayed home to raise us and make cookies and sew . . . But somewhere into the fifth pregnancy with a miscarriage between 1 and 2 the allergy to pregnancy created a need for a solution. Sue’s solution was abstinence or a vasectomy and Michael chose the later and they both agreed there were plenty of children who needed a home but that was for later.
When our #4 kid was eight years old we decided that our big house in the city would be perfect for a few more kids, a family group so they could stay together. Neither Michael or Sue ever worried about “if” something happened to our parents would we be able to be together but we’d heard stories over time and thought a small family would be awesome. Except for the part about the strange people who run Social Services! If you’ve seen the scene in “Moon Rise Kingdom” where the conversation between Social Services and the people who actually know the boy you’ll begin to understand the disconnect between people who sort and move children and those who actually care for them. We decided adoption wasn’t for us or maybe when our youngest was older.
Time went by and Sue’s brother Les and his beautiful wife Kresha adopted a little girl and it made us think about that long ago discussion once again. We’d moved and only had three kids left at home, the youngest being 14 AND Sue’s awesome mom lived with us so that seemed ideal. My mom had the opportunity to teach gifted and talented, preschoolers with disabilities and English as a second language which made it all seem so doable and simple. Our new place, the current place, you know the one in the hangar was originally intended for us to have a fly-in bed and breakfast when all the peeps finally left the nest so there was plenty of room for more.
When you’re homeschooling and the youngest is fourteen you start pondering what your next career move will be and in all of the conversations Michael knew that there was nothing that Sue liked more then kids so . . . . . We sucked it up and went back to Social Services and all the times we thought were hard before that, we weren’t prepared for the evil that walks among us in the form of “helping” the children.
It was hell and hard and we didn’t think we could do it. There was a day Michael left for work and it was supposed to be his job to call Social Services and tell them we can’t do it when this song came on the radio, “Who will love me for me” and Michael called and said, “It’s us, we need to love him.” It was still hard for a long time but today, today we can’t believe all of the people who held our hand, believed in us, listened with understanding because they KNEW, they knew what we felt but never wavered in holding our feet to the fire so that we could be refined.
Joy comes in the morning! Life is a very long journey if you’re blessed enough to continue it and it’s the people that you meet along the way that make it worth living even the people that were hard to walk with, if you let the situation teach you, it was worth it because you’re a better person.
Today the pattern of our weeks looks something like this: Sunday fellowship at our house (with potluck), Monday an awesome family scout group (dinner with friends before hand), Wednesday a Permaculture family night at our house (with potluck) and a plan to return to a Friday co-op at our house next fall.
So, we’re here by design, through choices we’ve made which we continually reevaluate and even though the last two years have had many blunders and false starts and we’ve returned to some of our old adventures, the journey was worth it because we understand ourselves better and can enjoy more.
Here’s the main thing, we’re still working on rule #1 – Love God and #2 – Love your neighbor. If you’d like to join us as we design a life that makes room for that, bring it!