Thursday, September 3, 2015

Finnish, Week 1

The semester started a week and a half ago, which means my Finnish course started as well! It's every day and I'm really enjoying it.  Except for a little work with an app called Nemo this summer, I'm an absolute beginner. I decided to keep a journal of how I learn Finnish, which I talked about in an earlier post. I'll write a blog entry each weekend about what I thought was interesting that week (which may also save Siegfried from having to listen to me endlessly!). So here we go! It cuts off kind of abruptly because I ran out of time, which will probably happen fairly often, but I figure it's more important to get my thoughts down than to be a perfectionist about writing style (yay! progress! Recovering Perfectionists Untie!)

Finnish Week 1

Associating things with images is not a strategy that works for me. I've never been a strong visualizer. Times when I have been able to visualize things, I've taken it as a strong sign that whatever I've seen in my head is very important. For example, when I walked into the hall where we had our wedding reception, I could immediately visualize how I wanted it set up. My fiancé and I decided to have our reception there mainly because I had this strong reaction through an immediate visualization. But in normal everyday life, I need to take an image and make it a word before I truly understand it. I would prefer words on a computer screen as opposed to images (like the word "delete" instead of a trash can, for example). Visualizations require two steps for me.

So while I understand the reasoning behind the recommendation to use images instead of English to associate with the new words (to break the association with English and try to get the learner to think in the language without relying on English), it doesn't work for me.  I need a memory trick that associates the new words with words I already know. I can't picture things. Even way back when in learning German, when I had trouble remembering that "Straße" (street) was feminine and hence "die," I came up with the phrase, "They're dying in the streets" to remember it (even though "die" is not pronounced like "to die" in English. BUT I never pictured people dying in the streets; I always just saw the phrase in my mind until I had learned it and didn't need the phrase anymore.

Now that I have more languages to work with, I can make more word associations.  For example, this week I learned the word "pelottaa" in Finnish, which means "scared." I already know the word "pelota" in Spanish (ball), so I made up a phrase, "I'm scared because I'm about to get hit by a pelota." And now, a couple days later, I remember that word without studying it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Word Woes of the Multilingual and Unknown

One of the things I've noticed over the years is that my spelling has gotten worse. I've come up with various explanations, like age or lack of sleep or the disconnect between brain and fingers while typing, but even taking notes by hand I find myself misspelling things I never would have before. It's disconcerting for someone who prided herself on her spelling and proofreading abilities!

Recently, however, I've come up with another theory, and I think I may be on to something. I think it has to do with the number of languages I've studied and my increasing awareness of phonology. In English, especially, there are so many different ways that a sound could be spelled that sometimes I am no longer automatically sure what's right.  The other day I was playing Words with Friends and was trying to figure out what I could play. I thought of the word "raze" which I knew was spelled differently from "raise" but I couldn't immediately remember how it was spelled! I ran through various combinations in my head for the /a/ sound and the /z/ sound and finally settled on "raze."

Then, yesterday, I did a duolingo placement quiz because my daughter had told me that they finally offered Swedish. I had to type a sentence that said, "The man is drinking coffee" and I actually thought - wait, how is coffee spelled in Swedish? C or K? O or A? One or two Fs? One or two Es? I know the word coffee in English, Spanish and French (café), German (Kaffee), and Swedish and it's all slightly different! After a little thought, I settled on kaffe and was right.

I used to be surprised when I saw multilingual, intelligent people spell easy words wrong, but now I think I understand: when a similar word is spelled differently in your languages, it's really hard to keep track! And (gasp) it's not really that important. If I had spelled coffee "kaffee" in Swedish, I would have been told I had a typo by duolingo, but it's not like it would impede communication. So maybe multilingualism is good for my perfectionism? Or is it a symptom of my perfectionism?

An additional note, and this might be something for me to research later about bilinguals and multilinguals, is that when I'm playing Words With Friends, I cannot turn off the other languages I know and it's rather annoying. I will see a word I can play and then realize it's not an English word. The other day I had played "teat" and then realized I could make "teatro" from it and was all set to play that when I realized that "teatro" is Spanish. Again, not really that important, but interesting nonetheless (to me, anyway).

(insert pithy, clever conclusion here, whenever one comes to mind)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Am I Trilingual?

I'm currently reading two books that intersect, I think. One is called A Dynamic Model of Multilingualism: Perspectives of Changes in Psycholinguistics by Philip Herdina and Ulrike Jessner, and the other is called Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed.  So far Bounce hasn't said much that I haven't read in other similar books like Outliers, but it's interesting nonetheless.

At a workshop I attended recently, I introduced myself to one of the speakers and he was asking me about my background, and then commented, "Oh, you're trilingual!" I was surprised a bit, because I would never say that about myself. The Dynamic Model of Multilingualism (DMM) book explains the conceptualization that society and researchers have had about bilinguals: that they are double monolinguals, eg, people who are just like monolinguals, but in two languages. "As Grosjean (1985) mentions, the monolingual norm assumption has had an enormous impact on our concept of bilingualism and has also been (and still is) accepted by most bilinguals who criticise their own language competence or do not refer to themselves as bilingual. Only if a person is fully fluent in both languages may one call him or her a real bilingual" (p. 59). I know that my German and my Spanish are nowhere near the equivalent of my English (how could they possibly be?!) and so I hesitate to call myself trilingual.

It's only in this past year when I asked another multilingual friend if she considered English a native language of hers that I began rethinking this concept. She was raised in Finland with a Finnish mother and an American father who always spoke English with her and her sister, but they answered in Finnish. When they were in high school, the family arranged to spend a year in the United States to  develop the girls' English. She also learned Spanish and uses it in her work. So that is what made me curious, because she was raised hearing English but not speaking it, so was it a native language? And that's when she used the triathlon comparison, and the same idea is in DMM: she was like a triathlete who wouldn't necessarily win a bike race against someone who just bikes, but she could do all three - bike, swim, AND run, and complete the race successfully.

So, no, I certainly am not a balanced bi- or trilingual, but I can get a lot further in Spanish than people who just speak German, and I can get a lot further in German than people who only speak Spanish. DMM talks about each multilingual person being their own dynamic system and I really like that concept. I've also had to realize this year that, I am an unusual American: with no heritage language or family that speaks another language and no extended residence in a foreign country, I have learned two foreign languages well enough to study them at a graduate level and to teach them. And I learned them pretty much simultaneously, with Spanish getting a bit of a head start.

And this is where Bounce comes in. How did I do it? If you ask someone, they'll probably say that I  have an aptitude for languages or that I must pick them up easily. Perhaps I do have a talent for languages, I don't know. Basically, I would say that I have a fascination for language and that, combined with a lot of hard work, led to my ability to speak German and Spanish. This is the point that Bounce makes: when we think of Federer or Tiger Woods or Mozart, we think that they have amazing natural talent that the rest of us could never have, but when you scratch the surface, you find out that they worked really, really hard to get better. Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics used to shoot a thousand free throws a day on top of practice.

Yes, I am trilingual, and it happened because of hours and hours of practice: of making and actually using flash cards, of practicing, of writing and writing and writing and working to understand my professors' corrections, of talking to myself while I walked my dog, of studying, of watching movies with subtitles in Spanish, of reading books, magazines, websites, of pushing myself to speak and to say complex sentences. A talent for languages? I actually have three big drawbacks to learning: I can't really understand or have a hope of remembering new words unless I see them written out, so I can't learn new words from speech, I'm very perfectionistic about making mistakes (which means, I don't want to make any, ever), and I'm introverted and intimidated about speaking in a foreign language, especially in group conversations, which, by the way, is most of the practice anyone ever gets.

I remember one time in Germany asking myself when I would finally get to the point where I could just ask something without rehearsing it first, and then realizing that I always rehearsed things in English anyway. So, never?

This blog post was actually going to be about something else, but it became this, which happens. So tune in next time for a synopsis of my language studies so far, and how I'm adding Finnish into my dynamic model and plan to blog about how I learn Finnish. Maybe we'll see if I actually have a talent for languages or if it's just more hard work!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Swimming in Language Soup

The first year of my PhD program is over! It's been a really difficult year, one of the worst in my life, but also one of the best in some ways. I've learned more than I thought possible in an academic year, both about linguistics and language acquisition and about myself. I've found fortitude I didn't know I had. It's been an incredibly busy year and I am looking forward to having some time to relax this summer.

But before I forget them, I wanted to share two little incidents that happened this year.

The first one happened while I was scrolling though my newsfeed on Facebook. I usually have FB set in a language other than English, and I have liked various organizations that post in different languages, and I have friends from many places that post in other languages as well. So this day I was just reading item by item, and I read a couple of lines from a meme that one of my friends had shared. At about the third line, I thought, "I'm not getting any meaning from this - what's going on?"

I looked back at the beginning and realized that what I was reading had been posted from my trilingual friend who lives in Turkey, and that it was in Turkish. Since I don't speak Turkish, I wasn't understanding it.  But what is so cool about this is that I didn't even notice it was another language!! I'm so used to having things posted in other languages, and whether it's French or Italian or Portuguese, even though I don't know them, I can figure out the meanings pretty well. A friend suggested that this meant I had reached another level in my languages - I don't know if that's what it signifies, but this language geek thought it was übercool!

The second thing was again really just a moment. I was reading about an avalanche and I remembered that my daughter and I had gone to see a Swedish movie called Force Majeure, which is primarily about an avalanche and the aftermath of it for a particular family. So they had used the word for avalanche in Swedish a lot, and I realized that I couldn't remember it, so I went to Google Translate and looked it up. It's "lavin."

The word lavin reminded me of another word lapin, which I knew meant rabbit, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out in what language! I looked up Swedish and German and maybe one other (it obviously wasn't Spanish). Unlike how I usually act, I just gave up instead of pursuing it to the bitter end (I must have been exhausted or something). But the next day on FB there was a meme shared by Français interactif (which I discovered through my Spanish methods of teaching course!) and it had a lapin. So, yes, I knew the word lapin, I knew it meant rabbit, but I didn't know what language! Kinda cool!

If it sounds like I am immersed in language soup all the time, well, I am, and I'm just trying to keep swimming!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Turning Points

Sometimes when you look back over your life and the decisions you've made, you can see turning points. Before that time, you were heading in one direction and then you clearly made changes to go in a new direction. Unexpected things can happen along the way, once you make that change.

When I look back, I see two clear turning points that coincided to compel us to make changes to our lives. Before them, Siegfried worked and I stayed home and took care of the children. We lived frugally but never could get ahead at all. We believed in being open to children and had six of them. We homeschooled. We lived in the country. These parameters defined the limits of our lives.

Rumbles of a change started in 2005 with the birth of the twins. Suddenly I couldn't take care of the children all by myself and my husband needed to get more involved. In 2006 I started my first Books and Brownies blog and began reclaiming myself and my interests. We weathered two bouts of unemployment. I read the book Hirkani's Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains To Combine Working and Breastfeeding by Jennifer Hicks (even though I wasn't working and wasn't planning to) and realized that, contrary to what I had thought, it was possible to be the kind of mom I wanted to be and still have a career.

All of that led up to the third bout of unemployment in early 2007, when Siegfried and I thought (we're slow on the uptake sometimes), "Maybe this whole one income thing isn't really working out. Maybe having two jobs might be a good thing." And I decided to put together a resume and start looking. I subbed a little and got two part-time jobs pretty easily, and I began to dream. So that was one turning point.

I don't remember exactly when the other turning point occurred. I'm pretty sure that I was talking to my friend who also has seven children around that same time, and I said simply, "I didn't have all these children just so they could live in poverty in the middle of nowhere." And as I look back now, that statement has guided our decisions. It definitely was a turning point, as I began to ask myself how we had ended up in that situation, and how we could get out of it.

And now we have. After seven years of hard work, we're on the verge of moving out of the countryside and into a town with plenty of opportunities. We gave up homeschooling as a lifestyle and realized that school can be great too. We both work and we both take care of the children, and it's improved our marriage. I am more understanding of him; he is more understanding of me. We have a little more money, and hopefully that will improve more once I get my PhD.

The unexpected thing, to me, was that I enjoy working. I am much happier having a career in addition to being a wife and mother. To my surprise, the children have greater opportunities with me working than if I had continued to stay home and devote myself to their education!

Congratulations to us! I don't know where we would be if we hadn't turned when the road called for it. I don't want to know, actually. I'll just continue on my merry way.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Classic "Books and Brownies" Post

So do you really want to know why I'm starting a PhD program? Do you? Do you? Do you?

Because it can't be harder than this -
A Week in the Life of a Postpartum Homeschooling Mother of Seven 
(originally published September 12, 2008)
Monday morning while cleaning the twins’ disaster of a room (note to self #1: duct tape their arms to their sides so they can’t make messes faster than I can clean them up), the dental office called.  "Gawan needs a cleaning."  I told them that all my children did, except Parzival. (He squeaked out of it because he has no teeth yet.)  So they said, "Can you come in tomorrow?" They must have had some openings and said, "Who can we call who has a lot of children?"

My immediate reaction was "No, I can’t come in tomorrow."  (note to self #2: go with immediate reaction!) But then I started rationalizing that we are not doing full school right now, and so it would be better to do it now rather than later. "OK," I said (note to self #3: make appointments at your convenience rather than the office’s convenience).

We arrived on time. 5 children, 5 cleanings, 0 cavities, 2 referrals for orthodontist appointments.  Oh, and Isolde needs sealants on her new adult teeth.  And make an appointment for six months from now.  (note to self #4: I have no idea what I will be doing six months from now, but I bet it includes either books or brownies!)  So, "Can you bring her in Thursday morning at 8 AM?"

My immediate reaction was, "Are you insane??? Get six children up and dressed and ready and nursed (OK, that’s just one child actually) and get to the dental office which is a half hour away by EIGHT AM????" (note to self #5: CHECK NOTE TO SELF #2!)  But then I started rationalizing (note to self #6: rationalizing on no sleep is dangerous) that we already needed the van on Thursday to go to ballet, so my husband would not have to drive the gas-guzzling truck another day just for Gabrielle to get her sealants, AND we weren't doing full school yet so it would be better to do it now rather than later.  "OK, " I said (note to self #7: consider appointment with psychiatrist).

Tuesday evening I received an email from Isolde’s tutor asking if I wanted to meet for a session the next morning.  Considering that adding that in would make me have to take all the children out 4 mornings in a row, I was cognizant enough to type politely, "I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do that." (note to self #8: scratch the psych appointment – you’re not completely gone yet).

Wednesday evening I left when my husband got home to go to a homeschool support meeting, taking the baby along.  I was looking forward to relaxing, chatting, and possibly getting some ideas I hadn't heard of before since the topic was dealing with little ones while homeschooling.  I figured the baby would sleep and nurse, nurse and sleep – he’s only a month old and that’s all they do, right? (note to self #9: they also cry)

I drove home thinking, "I should have gone to the La Leche League meeting instead and dispensed all my great nursing wisdom to new moms with one baby, instead of going to a homeschool meeting where, even though I have graduated one child who received a full scholarship to college, I felt like an utter failure as a homeschooling mom."  I had listened to everyone’s lovely ideas and suggestions and known without a doubt that none of them would work in my family situation. (note to self #10: do NOT give in to depressive downward spirals)

I stopped at Food Lion and the baby continued to cry through the entire store.  The cashier was terribly concerned that something was wrong with him (I guess she never got note to self #9), which stressed me out.  Sometimes I just want to be invisible, but for some reason when you are pregnant or have a baby or go out with 6 children, you are not allowed to be invisible, which is probably a huge part of the stress I was feeling this week.  I got home and told my husband about all the suggestions and all the reasons they wouldn’t work and his reply was, "We’re doomed." (note to self # 10: try not to take hubby with you on depressive downward spirals)  I then called Beowulf to help him with his German homework (note to self #11: homeschooling doesn't actually end, you just do it at midnight on the phone).

In all my depressing my husband, I forgot to ask him to wake me up the next morning in time for our 8 AM appointment.  "No problem," I thought at 3 AM, "Parzival usually wakes up around 6ish."  (note to self #12: a baby is not a reliable alarm clock)  I rolled over and saw the clock said 7:14 AM.  Did I mention the dentist is a half hour away?

We were twenty minutes late.  I had hopes that, since only one child was being seen, it would be faster than the appointments on Tuesday, but after an hour of sitting in the full waiting room refereeing little boy quarrels, I decided all little boys needed to go outside to the van, where I proceeded to referee little boy quarrels in privacy while ignoring the fact that they were making a mess (note to self #13: see note to self #1 and consider applying said duct tape to their mouths too).  When Isolde finally came out, I quickly scrapped any thought of doing other errands and drove straight home to have lunch.  (note to self #14: skipping breakfast while nursing is a bad idea.  Skipping breakfast while nursing after having skipped dinner the night before is a worse idea.)

In my two hours at home before leaving for tutoring and ballet, I called a friend who also has a lot of children and very little money and confirmed my initial suspicion that none of the lovely ideas floated around at the homeschooling meeting would work for us. I had to cut the commiseration short to get to tutoring on time.  It went much better this week because I had the good sense to corral the twins in the double stroller while in the library. (note to self # 15: everything goes much better when the twins are corralled)

After errands, I stopped and picked up some Japanese food because I was starving and headed to ballet, where I ate the entire thing (it usually makes 2 meals) while managing to spill soy sauce all over the baby’s blanket. (note to self #16: keep baby out of path of sauces)  Then I managed to knock over a cup of water as well. (note to self #17: if you ever need to wake Parzival up quickly, dump a cup of water on him.  Works like a charm!)  Unfortunately, the water did not take care of the soy sauce issue.  Then I decided to stay away from liquids for the remaining time at ballet. (note to self #18: lack of sleep could be the cause of the spilling problem)

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.  I was absolutely physically exhausted. (note to self #19: DO NOT EVER TAKE ALL THE CHILDREN OUT IN THE MORNING AND AGAIN IN THE AFTERNOON AGAIN!)

I have no real memory of last night aside from making brownies (I always have energy for that!), reading two paragraphs of the biography of Joyce Kilmer to my daughters, which we have been reading since, uh, June, probably.  (note to self #20: try not to let birth of new baby interfere with read-aloud schedule), and answering their question for the million trillionth time that no, I have not heard from the friend they want to go visit and I would tell them the exact minute that I do hear from said friend. (note to self #21: call friend this weekend so dear daughters can move on to asking me a different question fifty thousand times)

Obviously not having paid any attention to note to self #12 from Thursday morning, I assumed I would be awake in plenty of time to take the baby to his ultrasound at the hospital at 10 AM. (note to self # 22: have husband teach me how to set alarm clock)  When I woke up the clock said 8:47 AM, leaving us one hour and thirteen minutes to get everyone fed, dressed, and buckled in the car and then drive thirty minutes to the hospital, find a spot in the parking deck, park and unbuckle everyone and corral the twins in the double stroller (note to self #23:  good job paying attention to note to self #15!), plop baby in the sling and walk to the hospital, and find out where exactly we were going.

We arrived 20 minutes late again.  After playing laboratory rats in a maze (with lots of bystanders thinking, "Look at the mother rat with all her little rat offspring!") we found Children’s Radiology.  Parzival was quite patient and good with women pouring gunk on his head and trying to see inside.  The results seemed reassuring and we were cleared for takeoff at 11:30ish. I left my cell phone at home, and I have broken every watch Roger has ever given me, so I didn’t know what time it was exactly.  In the elevator I got a bit dizzy because I had ignored note to self #14.  I got in a minor panic at the van because I couldn’t find my house keys although I knew I had them.  Turned out they were where I normally put them in the double stroller compartment thingie.  I stopped and bought us all some bagels to hold us over until we got home for lunch. (note to self #24: children eating bagels at noon IS lunch!)

When I got home, Siegfried called to hear about the ultrasound and then told me to rest that afternoon.  Resting consisted of nursing the baby, washing dishes because our dishwasher is broken, hanging laundry because our dryer is broken, putting the twins down for their nap and then going back in every five minutes to put them back in their cribs and turn the light off while saying firmly, "Schlafenzeit!" and then finally giving up and going back in two seconds after putting them in their cribs to inform them cheerfully, "Naptime is over!" so they don’t think that they are declaring their nap done while trying to write a blog post. (note to self #25: check dictionary for definition of rest)

The little boys were all starving at five and wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.   They hadn’t had a snack and the bagels were a long time ago so I let them while putting water on for spaghetti for dinner. When they were still eating at 5:30, I decided to call that dinner for the little ones so they could go to bed early. (note to self #26:  sandwiches at 5 is dinner)

Siegfried got home and installed a childproof doorknob cover on both sides of the twins’ door because, in addition to recently learning how to climb out of their cribs, they have also gotten quite adept at opening doors, and find it great fun to open their door while "taking a nap," scream into the hallway, and then slam the door shut.  I got the twins ready for bed while Roger was on the phone with the dishwasher repairman, but then could not get their door open to put them to bed (I’ve never been good with locks or doors).  The baby had to nurse, so the twins got a reprieve until Daddy was done on the phone. (note to self #27: really MUST work on door opening skills when I have a spare moment)

Finally, the twins are asleep, exhausted from a hard day’s work of causing chaos and mayhem wherever they go, Ryan is in bed, the girls have gone to bed with nary a whimper about not reading to them since I am eating my dinner (the bagels at noon were a long time ago, and brownies aren’t that filling), and Roger and I are watching the last episode of Dallas on our current Netflix disk.  Sue Ellen is pregnant!

I normally try to stay away from the "I deserve" mentality, but I really think that after this week, I deserved exactly what I got tonight: Dallas, Enrique CDs, brownies, reading Bridget Jones’s Diary, cuddling my cute baby and being thankful he’s healthy, and sharing it all with my friends via this blog.  Good night, and let’s pray that everyone in Texas is safe tonight! (note to self #28: get some sleep!)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The March of April May Do Me In

I haven't blogged since March. Unlike other times when I didn't write, I haven't mentally composed entries and then not gotten a chance to write them up. I just haven't even had the mental space to even think!

In March I was still waiting to hear from some programs I had applied to. Then I took a long solo road trip to visit Beowulf and take him his things that were left in our house. I visited my aunt and uncle and met a new cousin, visited old friends, and then went to visit a university. I loved it so much I didn't want to leave! Then I drove 11 hours home and collapsed. I still hadn't heard about funding.

In April, I was still waiting to hear from some programs and about funding. I was checking my email every two minutes and finally resorted to only allowing myself to check it between episodes of House of Cards. Then I got sick and watched about twenty episodes in two days, so there went that. As of April 15, when I had to tell universities yea or nay, I *still* didn't know about funding! I decided to tell my favorite university that I was coming if they were offering me funding, and deferring till the following year if they weren't. They replied that they would put me down as deferred. Then followed a long, upsetting exchange where I found out that they had known since February that they didn't have funding for me but didn't tell me so that I could look for another source. My eczema flared horribly and I thought, "Here's the proof that it's stress-related!" I thought I was going to have to wait another year, which meant staying at my job which had taken a nose-dive and also finding a new place to live as we had already arranged to move out of our house. We spent Easter weekend looking at possible rentals. I had already planned at trip to Alabama at the very end of April and had hoped that everything would be settled by then so that I could relax, but now it looked like it wouldn't be. I could still apply for funding but wouldn't know until mid-May or later if I got it, so we didn't know if we should look for a short-term rental or long-term or if we were staying in our current state or moving to another state! And we still have six children at home and jobs that we were trying to take care of and do during all this!  Siegfried (my husband) wanted to take a long weekend and go visit his mom before we had to move so he decided to squeeze it in before my trip to AL. I took him to the airport Friday afternoon, then went home and picked up my daughters from school, then took some of the children home and older daughter Isolde to ballet and then went to look at two possible rentals. The first one was adequate, but the second one I absolutely, totally loved! It had a gigantic map of the world in the foyer, and the entire house was gorgeous. I drove back to ballet, called Siegfried who had just landed, and told him about it. He said if I loved it that much to just apply for it without waiting for him to see it. We hung up and I checked my email and there was an offer of a teaching assistantship from the Spanish department. I literally (and I do mean literally!) could not believe it. Twenty minutes after seeing a house I loved and feeling like I was all right with staying for another year and THERE IT WAS - my funding! Now we had to decide our entire lives by Tuesday, the day my husband was coming back. Great timing! I asked all my friends for advice and most said to follow our hearts. The only reason to stay was that we both had jobs. I felt like I was choosing between financial security and our vision for our lives. I ended up writing a list of reasons why we wanted to move and then evaluating which option met the most reasons. Monday night when my husband and I were supposed to talk about it, instead he was really upset about something with his mother, which he told me, which got me really upset, and then we still had to decide our lives. We decided to go for it! The next day I accepted the assistantship and contacted the landlord of the house I had looked at while visiting the university, picked up my husband from the airport, went to work the next day, and something else really upsetting happened! I still hadn't packed for my trip and I was leaving right after school. I went home and threw things in a suitcase and drove eight hours to Alabama.

And that was April. If you thought that was a long paragraph to read, try living through it!

May started with a lovely vacation with my sister in Alabama (despite more upsetting news from work), and then went into high gear with informing my job that I was leaving, trying to figure out when to move out of our house, rehearsals, showcases, recitals, plays, concerts, packing, packing and more packing! To complicate things, we aren't moving directly to our new state, but the children and I are spending the summer with my mother while Isolde does a five week ballet intensive. We secured the house I had seen in our new state but couldn't move in until the end of July. So the majority of our stuff needed to be put in storage pods and then shipped there, while I also needed stuff to occupy the boys for five or six weeks in another state, while we would still be living in our house here for a few weeks. Oh, and did I mention that we still have six children at home and jobs to do? Yeah. May was nuts. It ended with our movers not showing up to load the pods.

And now it's June. The end is in sight: the end of school, the end of packing, the end of living in rural isolation, the end of stressing about our house. However, we still need to find a place for Siegfried to live for the summer, and he still needs to find a job in our new state or we will be living apart for a while. know Kriemhild couldn't stand to be parted from Siegfried!

And that, in a very big nutshell, is why I haven't had mental space or time for blogging.