You would think this time things would be easier…

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But no.

3 years ago I stood in the Tulsa airport and watched Kjell go through security. He had chosen to report to his first day of Indoc (basic training) by himself. It was all I could do not to run after him, pull him close and refuse to let him go. Refuse to let him grow.

Things are different with Broder. He isn’t leaving me. He is staying in Tulsa and going to school there.

He isn’t leaving me. But I am leaving him. And it is killing me.

Last night, after a magical few days in Minnesota, we made it back to Tulsa. We unloaded the truck and after a little bit, decided to make a run to Walgreens.

And Broder’s car wouldn’t start.

I lost it.

I yelled at him for pulling into the driveway, rather than backing in (thus making a jump or tow easier).

I yelled at him for thinking he could do this all on his own.

I yelled at him for all the things I was afraid of.

For all the things I am still afraid of:

That he will do it. Without me. That he doesn’t need me.

And in all of this:

I am so proud of my Broder. He has chosen a path I never would have expected. A path that looks different than most of his peers. It hasn’t been easy getting here.

This morning I put a new battery in Broder’s car.

This afternoon I hugged Broder so hard. I reminded him to check the oil in the Saab. I told him to make good choices.

He told me he loved me. That he would miss me.

That he would be ok.

I hopped in the truck, waved goodbye to Broder and his sweet pup, Darla.

And cried most of the way to Texas.

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All Roads Lead To Houston

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The last few months have been among the craziest in my life.

But the story begins long before that.

As many of you know, Dave works in the oil industry. And in North America, it seems, eventually, all oil roads lead to Houston.

About 18 months ago, Dave took a new position that moved him to Houston. It was a good career move for him, but a terrible time to move for our family. Because God is good, we had options. We chose, as a family, for the kids and myself to stay in Tulsa. Broder was in the middle of his junior year, Sunny was a cheerleading fool, and I was just a few months into not just a job, but a job I loved.

So Dave rented a tiny little house there. And I stayed in Tulsa.

And that worked out great.

Until it didn’t.

A few months ago, Dave was offered another position within his company. It was THE job he had been working towards his entire career. (Don’t ask me what he does, I really don’t know. He was a bit of a geeky environmental chemist when we met all those years ago, and he will forever be that in my heart, but I am pretty sure he is still making the world a better place)

Quickly, it became apparent that he didn’t have the same flexibility to make trips to Tulsa that he had previously.

And so we talked. (We talk a lot. Well, really, I talk a lot and Dave says ‘Yes, dear’). We talked and talked and talked. With each other. With our kids. With our friends.

And we came to the conclusion that it was time to be together. More than just sometimes.

And so, in a few weeks, Synnove and I will be packing one last load into Dave’s pretty black truck and moving to Texas.

It’s not an easy move. None of the many moves we have made have been easy. But we are confident it is the right move.

In all this, I am thankful.

Thankful for Dave, who supported(and sacrificed for) our decision to stay here until Broder finished high school. Thankful for my job, where I will continue to work (remotely and by coming to Tulsa a couple times a month). Thankful for our crazy little house, which we now turn over to Broder and his friend, Chris. Thankful for friends who have listened to hours and hours of my planning/justifying/whining. Thankful for God’s faithfulness at every turn.

So, come visit us. In Tulsa or in Texas. The coffee is always good. And (I like to think) the company even better.

Happy Birthday, America…

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I took this picture, as I sat on my beloved front porch, at about 6pm on July 4th.

It’s not a great picture, I don’t have that elusive “capture the light” magic that great photographers seem to posses without effort.

What do you see in this picture?

Maybe friends playing ball? Broder’s ridiculous outfit? The somewhat shabby house in the background?

This is what I see: the back story, the details the lens can’t catch.

The valedictorian of a local high school.

A kid who struggles. academics just aren’t a strength. But who can relate to others on the deepest level.

A kid who does just enough, and not a bit more.

Kids whose parents immigrated here not so long ago.

Kids whose parents immigrated many generations ago.

Kids who hold tribal cards, whose parents had no need to immigrate.

Kids who live in sketchy parts of town (mine)

Kids who live in the nicest parts of town.

Kids who are going to elite colleges.

Kids who we going to state colleges.

Kids whose paths do not include college.

Kids whose parents have advanced degrees.

Kids whose parents maybe finished high school.

Kids whose parents are blue collar.

Kids whose parents are “professionals”

Kids from single parent homes.

Kids who have lost a parent.

Kids from homes where both parents work.

Kids from homes where a parent stays home.

Brown kids.

Black kids.

White kids.

In this picture, I see America.

And it is beautiful.

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I have no pithy title for this post.

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It’s been a day. A long hard gut wrenching day.

Really, in some ways it’s been a long (almost) 2 years. In that time:

One of my kids learned the hurt that careless words can inflict. How things can never be unsaid. And more importantly, can never be unheard. And that the scars left, though not visible, are deep and forever.

One of my kids learned when an excellent job is expected, doing an adequate job is not enough. And that adequate job has to be done over, with excellence. And dreams get put on hold.

One of my children learned that one can work so hard, put in all the effort, and if someone else doesn’t do their part, the hard work means nothing. And there is nothing to do, but continue to work hard, work harder.

And I have learned, it’s impossible to soften the blows.

Today, all I could do was listen.

Listen while one child raged against their body, which seemingly refuses to cooperate, despite countless hours of training.

Listen while one child expressed excitement, tempered by trepidation, as they set off on a voyage to an exotic, hostile destination.

Listen while one child wept. Wrenching sobs as friends were sentenced to real prison time for crimes committed out of desperation.

And I wonder, was there something I could have done to protect them? To shield them from this pain?

As long as it takes…

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Oklahoma teachers have walked off the job. And (literally for some) walked to the state capital to demand adequate funding for Oklahoma’s future.

My kids have been out of school for 7 days. 7 long, long days.

They say they are loving this extra time off. The reality?

They are bored to tears (why oh why don’t I live on a hobby farm where they would have actual work to do). They miss their friends. They miss the routine.

They miss school.

And they are not the only ones.

Over the last week+, we have had (a million) kids over. Every single kid has talked about the walkout. Every single kid has said that it (the walkout) is necessary.

Every single kid has stated that they want to be back in the classroom.

Those that are 18 (or will be soon) have talked about how ready they are to vote: For change.

The younger ones worried out loud, if their favorite teachers will return, or if they will leave the state, or the profession.

The kids who have come through my house are the lucky ones, they go to Edison. And it is a great school. With parents who have the resources to fill the gaping holes left by a state that has refused to invest in the future.

And this privilege is not lost on them. They see their friends, their cousins, their neighbors. They see what their school could be without this outside investment.

And their response is this:

I hope the teachers stay out as long as it takes to get what is needed to make it right for EVERYONE.

We can all learn from the children.

And this Oklahoma family will support Oklahoma educators for as long as it takes.

Gumbo, wine, and walkouts.

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I spent a couple hours with a friend this evening. Eating gumbo, drinking Chardonnay, talking.

She’s a teacher here in Tulsa. She teaches “on level” math courses. “On level” is code for the tough kids. Kids that struggle a bit in school, kids who might not have a supportive home, kids that often go hungry.

She’s a damn good teacher. One of the best I have ever seen. She pushes her students. She calls them on their crap. And they love her. More importantly, they learn from her.

It sucks that my “advanced” kids never got to have her as a teacher.

(But I get to call her friend, so that’s pretty cool)

We talked about parenting (it’s hard, and awesome).

We talked about husbands (both gone too much, and we love them lots)

We talked about the Oklahoma Teachers Walkout.

She has more students than she has textbooks. She has more students than she has chairs in her classroom. Each year she has more students added to her roster than she had the year before. (with no additional textbooks or chairs)

And all she wants is to get back into her classroom. With a textbook and a desk for every student.

This does not seem like too much to ask.

Those were magical years…

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I spent some time tonight texting with my friend, Lisa.

Lisa lives in Anchorage and is one of those I hold closest to my heart.

We talked about parenting. And how sometimes it really, truly, sucks.

And we talked about the good times.

Oh, dear Lord in Heaven, there were some good times.

Those years in Anchorage, there was a village. Myrna, Kristine, Lee, Lisa, Sarah, Suzi, Silke …(ok, there were dads too, but I am focusing on the mamas)

We parented as a collective, a village.

On any given day some house was home to any number of kids. If one of us needed something, another one answered the call.

Our kids were not friends. They were family.

I remember one kid, saying about another kid: “oh, yeah, he/she is a little odd, but it’s all good, because we are, essentially, cousins. So we have to love each other”.

Thank the Good Lord above, they may have been talking about any one of mine.

We carpooled. We played together. We shared meals.

And sooooooo much more.

In sickness we fed each other.

In hardship we held each other.

In triumph we celebrated each other.

Through it all we loved each other.

And do to this day.

These women set the standard for friendship. It’s a high one.

My prayer is I live up and that I give my kids the tools to find their village when the time comes.