|From Family 2011|
I’ve gone more than seven months without blogging here. Gee, you’d think life has been stressful or something…
Gladly, the stress in our home has been mostly distributed among the adults. Micah and Sophie are happily unaware of the majority of our family stress, although I’m sure they feel it from time to time, especially on days when Rochelle and I are not at our best.
Regrettably (and gladly, I suppose), we are aware that a huge source of unnecessary stress in our home comes from clutter, disorder and excess physical belongings. They distract from our spiritual needs, they cloud our thinking, and they impart their chaos to our thoughts. I’ve been aware of this growing problem for many years now, but only recently has it become so acute that I began contriving a solution and countermeasures.
As long as I can remember I’ve had a fondness for simplicity, a longing for a concise collection of belongings that could be easily transported, sorted and organized. Of course I haven’t always lived that way very well. I tend to hang on to things that I may need one day. Just in case. I love to be prepared, but preparedness isn’t about excess, it’s about necessary necessities.
I remember with great fondness my mission time in Mexico and my time living in small spaces as a student at SCAD. Moving from place to place required no more than a couple of hours to pack, and most (if not all) of my belongings could be carried by me alone. I sorely miss that mobility, and now my goal is to get my entire family into a position where we know what we own, why we own it, and how each item of our belongings is essential to our goals and priorities.
This will be a slow process, and one that I hope to share with you along the way.
If you’re interested, I highly recommend a book that I read recently called “Simplify” by Joshua Becker. I believe it is for Kindle only, but it is inexpensive and can be read from any Kindle reading application, even in a Web Interface that Amazon provides.
If you do not wish to pay for the book, you should still check out Becker’s website. Most of the ideas in his book are outlined in ample detail in his many blog posts there. I should warn you that I find his tone regarding simplification to be a tad overzealous at times, often coming off as a bit preachy. Rochelle didn’t feel preached at when she read Simplify, but I did in a couple of places. So if you’re not one to be preached at, perhaps just following our adventures here with my sporadic blog posts will be sufficient.
Although, in my excitement I can’t promise I won’t preach at you either. Simplification is something that I believe we should all strive for.
That is our great endeavor this year. It isn’t a new year’s resolution, but it is a change in our home that began with the new year.
The rest of our family news will be covered in greater detail below, but suffice it to say that we’ve experienced a wonderful close to 2011, and we are all looking forward to 2012.
In the latter half of 2011:
- Micah started at a new school.
- Sophie saw a neuro-ophthalmologist.
- We flew out to visit my parents in Arizona.
- Rochelle and I got new shoes.
Books We are Reading
Hurray! I’m reading again. My main Christmas gift this year was a new Kindle Touch. Since I got my Kindle, I’ve actually read several books. Most of them have been small, free books (just to get my reading muscles warmed back up after such a long period of minimal use), but I did read The Hunger Games, book one. I enjoyed it, but I can’t say it was one of my favorites. The story was excellent, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters, and the first person perspective paired with the present tense writing style didn’t agree with me. I think I’ll enjoy the movie, and I plan on reading the next book in the trilogy soon.
Currently, I am actually attempting to finish nine books that I’ve started in the last year. The one I started most recently on my Kindle is The Frog Princess. I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone except the most curious. It’s not horrible, but I’m only a third of the way through and I am going to have to force myself to finish it. I want to finish it, but it’s not the best writing for me.
If you really want to keep up with my reading, I log all of my progress on books I am currently reading, rate and review books I’ve read, and I even keep track of books I intend to read at a site called Goodreads. Here’s the link to my profile page there: http://www.goodreads.com/brianhaddad
Rochelle has always read a ton. She is currently knee deep in her twelfth read-through of the Harry Potter series. I think she’s on book 5 or somewhere thereabouts. I lose track of how many times she’s read them and which book she is on.
For Christmas she got all 8 of the Harry Potter movies on Blu-Ray. We’ve been watching them since we got back home from our little vacation, and so far we’re halfway through the sixth movie. I haven’t read the books, so I’m trying to enjoy the movies just as they are, but I can’t help but notice inconsistencies in the characters and holes in the plots – all of which Rochelle assures me is the result of the movies being inaccurate. I plan to read the Harry Potter series once the ebooks are released later this year.
Rochelle is also on Goodreads, and she too keeps track of books she liked, books she plans to read, and sometimes even books that she is currently reading (unless she is reading something that she’s read before). You can visit her profile there at: http://www.goodreads.com/rochellehaddad
How the Kids Are
|From Family 2011|
This year Micah started going to a new school. For his first two years here in Maryland he attended a school just outside of the military base where we live. The school was mediocre at best, often causing more problems than it solved with new policies and rules.
By the end of his second grade year there, Rochelle had nearly reached the limits of her patience dealing with the school, and to her great delight a new public charter school was granted permission to operate on base.
Unfortunately, the new school, called Imagine Andrews, does not yet have a dedicated, official school building (they are imagining they have a school building). For this year they are stationed in a run-down, hastily remodeled maintenance building at the edge of one of the base golf courses. By next school year they hope to complete construction on an actual school building, complete with a much needed cafeteria, gymnasium, playground and additional classroom space.
The curriculum seems to be challenging Micah so far, which is good. There are several problems, since it is a new school being run by a new faculty in cramped conditions, but we are doing our best to remain positive and supportive of their efforts.
Micah, along with the rest of us, was excited to go back to Arizona to visit his Grandma and Grandpa Haddad. Amazingly, neither of our children showed any concern that Santa wouldn’t be able to find them in a different home.
Micah came home with plenty of cool gifts, including some fun games and projects, Lego sets, spy gear, and some books. He doesn’t know it yet, but his toy collection is going to be drastically reduced under our new policy of simplification, and we are going to help him ensure that his toys are limited to the most versatile, fun toys that he can find. Of course, we aren’t going to be totally oppressive with this, but it will be good for him to be discerning and thoughtful about what to keep and what to get rid of. I learned a lot as a child when my parents would make me dump my toy collection on the ground and think hard about what to keep. I’m hoping he’ll remember the activity with the same fondness that I do now.
|From Family 2011|
Sophie is doing especially well. Every day she shows us new ways that she is smarter than we previously suspected, and she is developing an awesome sense of humor, along with a sharp attitude.
As mentioned above, she did have to see a neuro-ophthalmologist. It started when her last MRI in November generated some concern. We do not yet have any real reason to worry, but there appears to be some thickening in an area that her doctors are sure is merely scar tissue. It is not unheard of for scar tissue to thicken a little, even a few years after surgery. However, there is a possibility that this thickening could be a type of tumor growth.
Some of you have been lucky enough to see Sophie recently, and if you’ve seen her recently it’s likely she’s shown you her “eye trick.” She recently learned that she can roll her eyes up and point them in two different vertical directions. When she showed her doctors, they decided to send her to a specialist (the neuro-ophthalmologist) to see if the anomaly could be related to a new tumor growth.
With this new specialist, Dr. Avery, Sophie was a little angel. He was particularly impressed with her every step of the way through the appointment. He assessed her vision with one of the most in-depth eye exams I’ve ever seen, always amazed at her intelligence, cooperation and maturity. He couldn’t stop raving about how well she was doing.
Near the end of the examination he informed us that she would need eye drops to dilate her pupils. He said that it would “S-T-I-N-G a little” and that there was usually a lot of “S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G” with other children. Rochelle and I looked at each other, then told him that he didn’t need to spell it out with her. We explained to Sophie that Dr. Avery was going to put some drops in her eyes that would sting and hurt a little, but that it would go away fast.
I had her rest her head in my lap and helped the doctor hold her head still while he applied the drops. She barely budged, and didn’t complain even a little. Dr. Avery’s amazement was complete. He couldn’t recall precisely the last time he had seen such a cooperative, brave patient.
In the end, Dr. Avery concluded that the eye issue is a result of the original tumor and swelling that she had two years ago, though there was no visible sign that it was a direct result of the swelling (apparently you can see that sort of damage quite clearly even years later on the back of the eye). He was certain that there was no evidence that this eye problem was a sign of any new tumor growth, which came as a great relief to us all.
Sophie especially loved the trip out to Arizona, and had been talking about seeing her uncles, aunt, cousins and grandparents for several weeks beforehand.
For Christmas she also got some craft items, some books, a few toys and her favorite: a pink Nintendo DSi. She may not look terribly excited in the photo above, but she plays it nearly every day, and has a particular fondness for a certain princess game.
Sophie’s next MRI is in February (on Valentine’s day) and we will likely post an update after we get the results.
Especially now that we have something specific to write about, and since its process will help me feel more organized about life in general, I expect to be a little better about blogging. But alas I’ve never successfully promised to be better about blogging, and I’m not going to make any promises!
I trust that you’ve learned to be satisfied with my ineptitude at blogging, and I should likewise be more forgiving with myself.
It is our deepest and greatest hope that all of you have transitioned safely and happily into 2012. We look forward to making sure we blog at least once this year, and we also look forward to your emails, Facebook posts, phone calls, text messages and old-fashioned paper mail.