Friday, November 12, 2010

Another shot at a better marriage

Time to face the music. I have been intending to write this post for some time but kept finding excuses to get out of it. It's time to do it.

Josh and I should have a much better marriage than we do. There, that's over with. Family and friends will say that we have reason to have stress and frustration, but that's not the problem. The problem is with the way we chose to handle that stress and frustration. At least, I do. I can't speak for Josh as only he knows whether he is doing a good job or not. I know that I have not done a good job. But I am trying and making a major effort. Already, I can see positive changes that are giving me the confidence to continue.

One of the things that made me really face facts came to light after a couple weddings at our church this summer. As the two couples prepared for their weddings and life together, I realized that I had absolutely no good advice to share with the two young brides. And this really bothered me. I don't consider myself old enough or wise enough to really be one of the women in the church to give good solid advice, but I should have at least had something better to offer than "whatever you do, don't be like me". What kind of advice is that? Granted, it's something and there's truth in it, but still it's far from truly helpful.

I had agonized and agonized over what I was doing wrong and how to correct it. Josh was not happy, I was not happy, our kids were not happy. Something was terribly "off" and this time I am fully committed to finding it and fixing it.

Over the summer, I kept seeing the same book being mentioned over and over again. Some good reviews, a lot of bad, but there had to be a reason I kept coming across this book wherever I went. Every thread on every forum I looked at about marriage and being a good wife, I saw that book mentioned. When I stepped out in faith and asked on a homeschool forum for recommendations for a good book on being a good wife, that same book was recommended many times over. But I had heard enough "bad things" about it that I still hesitated to get it. It wasn't until I saw a real life friend mention it on Facebook that I decided it certainly couldn't hurt to check it out and see for myself. Every Christian book is going to receive negative criticism no matter what, so glean the good from the bad and if it gives me even one good solid piece of advice that turns our marriage around then it's worth it despite any bad advice.

When we went on our trip to California to see Josh's family 2 weeks ago, I still hadn't gotten that book and the state of our marriage was weighing heavily on my heart. It wasn't critical, we weren't on the verge of divorce, but I was tired of feeling beat down and tired and I was heartsick to see Josh feeling so discouraged and run down. Something had to give and I knew that I should be the first one to strike out and make something happen.

My mother-in-law and I had planned to take a day into a nearby large city to check out a specific health food store I wanted to see and do some shopping. As luck would have it, mother-in-law noticed a Bible bookstore and asked if we should stop. As I was about to say "no, let's just head home", my mouth decided to act independantly and blurted out "yeah, let's stop here." I do believe it wasn't luck or whatever, but actually divine intervention.

Mother-in-law was busy finding some small things for the kids to have as gifts and while she kept them occupied, I browsed around the large selection of used books the store had. I was looking for a specific title. I didn't see it and decided to scan the shelves of new books, just in case. The few times I had entered a bookstore before, I hadn't seen the book and decided that I probably didn't need it, not that I had looked very hard. But this time, I saw the book. It was the last one on the shelf labeled for women. I picked it up, looked at the price, decided it was too much and put it away. But I kept feeling the urge to go get it again. I fought it and resisted it. I was ready to leave when I overheard the store owner tell mother-in-law that it was the store's anniversary and they were offering a storewide discount. That was just the prompt I needed, I immediately headed back to the book and got it.

I began reading it that evening and new right away that I would not love everything in the book but I would get something good from it. A bit of the doctrine and the author's beliefs goes against what I was raised to believe but as my real life friend had said about it, you have to take the good and ignore the bad because what is good in there will probably save your marriage. She's right.

I tested things out on Josh right away and saw a noticible difference right from the start. It's been more than worth it to keep reading and putting things into practice. I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book and while I'm not really wild about some things (for example, the book puts way too much emphasis on s*x and I strongly do not believe that s*x is as important as the author makes it out to be) I am thankful for it.

I've sat and had a long conversation with my mom, something I should have done long ago but was stupid enough to procrastinate. I brought up several issues in the book that I wasn't sure about and she confirmed how I felt and gave me a lot to think about.

The things I realize to begin with are these: no matter what, I am subject to my husband. He is to be head of our family, not me. Josh isn't accountable to me, he is accountable to God. I am accountable to Josh and I am accountable to God. I can't argue these things. Man was made for God, not for the woman; yet the woman was made for the man. Therefore, my place is behind him or beside him, not in front of him. I don't have a problem with that. It's correct. My job is to put Josh on that pedestal, to lift him up and encourage him and help him. In time, when he's secure and confident, he'll pull me up beside him. But I'm not to shove him out of the way and climb up there myself. I don't want to! I am not a leader, I never have been. I've always been one to be comfortable in the background, in the shadows providing support for others.

Being wife and mother are my only goals. That is what God has called me to do. And I am proud and thankful for that.

My enemy...the snooze button

I read something tonight that made realize the snooze button is not my friend. I have experienced many a morning of running and racing through the house, desperately trying to get everyone out the door in time to be just late enough to the doctor's office to get "the look" but not quite late enough to be forced to reschedule the appointment.

I do not like the snooze button anymore. It has not been nice to me. It has led me to believe I can trust it to give me just a few extra minutes of rest in the morning before I get up. Instead, it has allowed me to fall back asleep, snoring right on through it's next little warning that time is running out quickly and I had better get up now.

In fact, I don't really like my clock. I had set it 20 minutes early so I would always be 20 minutes early for whatever I need to do and wherever I need to be. But that didn't happen, I would look at the clock see I still had 20 minutes till I HAD to get up, then doze back off.

So I changed things. I changed the time to be exact. I now only hit the snooze button once, if at all and make myself get up. If I can sleep in, I don't set the alarm I just sleep in. If I have to get up, I set the alarm knowing full well I have to get up and I have to get going. I have been late much less, have had less trouble getting up in the morning and I don't have that anxiety hanging over my head anymore.

Now if I only I could get myself to go to bed at a decent hour, things would be much better. :)

Something I hadn't expected

It's funny how much impact the little changes in life can make. While on our trip to California, I picked up a book that I had been researching for while in the hopes of working to be a better wife. I'll save more for another post for another category, but the short of it is that while I don't entirely agree with the author's beliefs, I have gleaned some important nugets of wisdom from her writing and noticed a major difference. Josh and I are getting along much better, the kids seem to be calmer and get along better and I don't feel nearly as much stress and anxiety that I had before.

In addition, I have taken some small steps in a sincere effort to get back on the weight loss journey. I have really cut out the heavy sweets and junk food, made myself stop eating past 9pm (except the odd occasions where it hasn't been possible to eat an earlier), really paying attention to what I'm eating and cutting back my portions. The result is that I have lost a couple pounds in a couple weeks and even went on the trip to California and came home without gaining a single pound. That alone is impressive to me. I have never managed to go on a trip without gaining weight. Very cool. :)

The funny thing is that I had made some of these changes without really realizing I had done them. Two things I atribute to this: one is that on the trip I had to spend a lot of time with company and I am a very timid eater in public, I worry a lot about what people think while I'm eating; two is the aforementioned book that I started reading on the trip. A happier marriage means a happier mommy means happier kids means happier mommy means happier woman means less emotional eating as there's less emotional upheavel to contend with. All that to say, if I am less stressed, I eat less and feel much better. I can see a difference in my face and my clothes are just loose enough to notice.

Now if I can just get my rear in gear and start exercising, imagine what the results just might be? LOL! My goal is to lose at least another 10-15 lbs by the end of the year. I do believe I can do it this year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chilly Weather & Basement Schoolrooms

It's turning colder here, we had to use the fireplace last night and put extra blankets on the beds. Since our schoolroom is in the basement, it gets even colder down there and I've come to the realization this morning that the one space heater we have down there isn't going to cut it. So either we are going to have to find another space heater or move lessons upstairs to the kitchen or living room.

I'm not wild about either idea due to space issues and the number of distractions there are. The whole point of having the schoolroom in the basement was to eliminate the constant "mom can we please watch tv now?" issue. But, keeping the kids warm and healthy is more important than my stress level, lol!

One thing is certain, before next winter (provided we are still living here) we will have to save up the money and get drywall or a drop ceiling put up in the schoolroom. Currently, it's open beams and that doesn't help with the heating issue or the help the fact that it can be incredibly dark down there. To help the lighting issue, we have a couple small lamps placed around the room. It doesn't solve the problem, though.

In the meantime, we will keep our books and supplies downstairs and we will troop up and down the stairs for what we need, keeping our blood pumping and our bodies warm and maybe keep the heating costs down. There's that ever-present silver lining. ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Not Quite Perfect, But Getting There!

I finally got our schoolroom better organized and arranged more how I want it. Originally I was sitting at my desk facing the boys and I didn't like that. Felt too "schoolish" if that makes sense.  Now I have my desk against the wall and the boys are right behind me, much easier for when I have to work one-on-one with either of them. I also switched out desks with Josh, I have a lot more space with the bigger desk. I wish I had at least a couple drawers, but the thing about drawers is it's too easy to just dump everything in a drawer and never clean it up, then you have the fun of digging around in it.

I arranged two big comfy chairs around the small bookcases and the toys so we now have a reading area and play area. Eventually we'll get the little hallway cleaned out so I can arrange a play area for the toddler. It's a square hallway and the perfect space to put her play kitchen and her table set. With the gate up, she can see me and the boys easily and still be part of things without constantly having to distract her from bothering her brothers.

We have an art area now, completely seperate from the rest of the room. The easel is in that space and I put a bulletin board on the wall for the boys to display their art. I'm not entirely done yet, I have a couple more storage things my mom got us at a yard sale that need to be used. It's so nice to have enough storage bins and units to have a specific place for everything to go. Now that I have enough storage, I can get the paint and other art supplies I've been putting off purchasing.

I painted one wall of the room, but I'm not sure I like the color enough to finish painting the entire space. It's a color I got for the kitchen but had misgivings about the shade. Unfortunately, Sears has closed up their paint department so I'm stuck with the paint. It's not an ugly color, just not what I wanted to paint the kitchen. I left the trim white and the brickwork on the fireplace was already painted white so I left that alone.

I'd love to win the lottery so I can have custom cabinets put in, lol! Course, if we won the lottery we would have a custom house built for us or we'd get a huge Victorian style house or farm house and completely gut it and remodel it. There's a beautiful farm house next door to where Josh works and it kills me everytime I see it, just gorgeous!

Dreaming aside, it feels nice to have a better arrangement in our schoolroom. Easier to move around, designated areas for different activities, less hassle. Now if only getting these kids to learn would be so easy. :)

If I'm lucky, I might just get around to posting some pics!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Adventure

My husband, Josh, has been into bow hunting for a couple years now. He originally became interested when researching different methods of hunting in Washington. He really enjoys it and has gotten a deer every year since he started. My dad, who used to bow hunt for many years when we lived in California, got caught up in Josh's enthusiasm and decided to start bow hunting again himself. Our youngest son has shown a lot of interest in bow hunting and archery in general. He sits with Papa watching bow hunting shows on TV and begging Papa to let him shoot the bow. Jay has a youth practice bow that we got him for Christmas one year. He would shoot it all day long if allowed. This summer, while camping, Papa made Jay a bow out of a tree limb and a piece of string. The arrow, a sharpened marshmallow roasting stick. The suprise was when Papa put his block target out for Jay to practice and wouldn't you know? Jay was actually hitting the target over and over again! Papa was so impressed that he is now looking at bows that are designed for youth and beginners that start at a low draw weight and can be adjusted up to a legal hunting draw weight.

And of course, Josh is wanting me to start bow hunting, too. I've always liked hunting and always wanted to start again. Especially considering I have never gotten a deer. I really enjoy watching the hunting shows on TV of all the husband and wife teams, especially The Archer's Choice with Ralph and Vickie. They are my favorite hunting couple. I really enjoy how they portray hunting as a family affair.

But the one thing that had kept me from being able to hunt in Washington was I couldn't find my hunter's safety certificate. I had looked into taking the course again, but it never lined up with our schedules and I have to admit, the online/self-directed course intimidated me. I had given up and resigned myself to going along with Josh on his hunts. But I felt sad because I wanted to be hunting, too. I want to get my first deer!

While looking up the age requirements for the course for Jay, I read about how to get a duplicate hunter's safety certificate for Washington. I wondered if California might have something like that and looked it up. Low and behold, California does! The kicker was they didn't start keep records until 1989. I couldn't remember what year it was that I took the class but figured it couldn't hurt to call. The worst thing is that I wouldn't be in the database and I'd be right back at square one, trying to find a class to take.

I was happily suprised to find out that I am in the database and it will only cost $5 to get a copy! So I put in my request and am waiting for the duplicate to arrive. Next year, I will be joining my husband in the field!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting back to the routine

We're supposed to have our "official" first day of school next Tuesday, September 7. Then I got a phone call from my cousin on the west side of Washington that she and my aunt will be coming here that day and would like to get everyone together for lunch or something and visit. Josh said for family, we can rearrange the schedule or just have an extra day off. Great, expect I have almost all of September planned out and my planner looks so nice I don't want to scratch everything out and re-write it, lol! But, he's right. For family, we can rearrange our schedule.

I am proud of myself for getting the whole month's lesson plans written out. I have a huge stack of teacher's guides and student textbooks/workbooks to go through for each day in order to make the plans. That's what I get for going the eclectic route instead of the all-in-one curriculum route. But with the boys and their individual needs and learning levels, we really don't have a choice. I have looked into programs like ACE and Alpha Omega where you can get each subject in a different grade level. We may do that next year, who know's we may end up doing that halfway through the year. One thing I've learned with homeschooling, nothing is set in stone and nothing is guaranteed to work. You can only try it, see if it fits, then either keep going or change it. I had to do that already last school year with Joey.

We had tried out Heart of Dakota. I really liked the program and the format (not too long for Joey, just what he needed) but it didn't fit him as far as what he was learning. Everything either went right over his head or wasn't challenging enough. It was not a fun daily process, either trying to "dumb down" the lessons or find something to supplement the lesson to give him enough learning. Yet, I will still recommend Heart of Dakota to anyone who asks. Plus, if it hadn't been for Heart of Dakota, I wouldn't have discovered Rod & Staff which has turned out to be the PERFECT fit for Joey.

So my goal is to finish September's lesson plans today, then in 2 weeks to start mapping out the lesson plans for October. I would like to go into each month with a full month's lesson plans ready to go. It's not been easy. I've spent many wasted minutes just trying to hunt through teacher's guides that aren't very clear on how to use the curriculum trying to decipher the instructions and figure out how to plan daily lessons. I really don't like having to "wing it", which is what I suspect the author of Jaysen's math program had in mind, lol! I'm the kind of gal that really needs it mapped out for me, at least until I get a better understanding of things. I feel we are still in our first year of homeschooling as Joey was just withdrawn last November.

I'm still learning, still stumbling my way along in the dark. But the good news, I see the light ahead of me, ready to guide me as soon as I pick myself up off the ground and am ready to continue the journey.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Away to camp he goes...what are we thinking!?!

Jaysen is gearing up to go to his first ever sleep away camp on Wednesday with his Royal Rangers outpost. He is so excited! Right now, he is making himself a chart to mark off the last few days before camp. He's almost ready, just have to finish washing some clothes and packing his gear.

Am I ready? Not so much. I am scared to death that this is the worst possible thing we can do. I know Jaysen is in good hands, his outpost commander is a great guy who cares about these kids a lot. I'm worried for Jaysen. I'm worried that he will have major behavioral issues. I'm worried that he won't make it through one day before he's begging to come home or we get a call from the grown-ups begging us to come get him.

I know I just have to pray and have faith that he will be fine and will have the time of his life. Like my mom says, he can't keep going through life getting disapointed and left out at every turn. He has to have a chance to try.

So here we go, God! I am putting him in your loving Hands and trusting You to help him be the brave and awesome kid I know he is.

New project...Workboxes!!

I've found something new to add to our homeschool, Sue Patrick's Worbox System.

I had this suggested to me by another homeschool mom online that I have gotten to know and I love the idea!!! I already have been doing something similar, but this will help me get it more organized and a more functional system in place. I was lucky enough to come across a copy of the book at a good price and Big Lots had 7 drawer organizer carts on sale for $18 today so I ran over and got one for each of the boys (they were in colors too, "more fun" was Jaysen's words lol). I like these organizers, they have different size drawers which will be very handy for days when a subject has a lot of things (manipulatives, games, etc).

Can't wait to get the book so I can start putting our new system together! I do plan to add pictures when I get the workboxes put together. I think this will be wonderful!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Need to remodel the blog

This sucker is looking a bit too plain for me. Time to enlist the help of my friend who is really good at this stuff. Me...not so good. But I probably ought to learn it, huh?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To homeschool the 8yo or not...that is our question.

Today we had the spring parent/teacher conference for Jaysen. Josh and I had agreed at the beginning of 2010 when Jaysen's behavior issues began to escalate that we would make a firm decision whether to withdraw him after spring break or ride out the rest of the school year after the conference. Well, spring break is next week and we are no closer to a final decision than we were before. If anything, I'd say we are more confused than ever.

During the conference, I really felt the teacher was waffling a bit. He seemed like he genuinely cares about Jaysen and the problems he's having, but at the same time was covering his rear. Jaysen isn't exhibiting as many issues at school anymore, but at home he's having more and more problems. Jaysen is picking on his brother, teasing and taunting him. He's gotten downright mean and nasty with some of the things he says and does. We know it's mostly his frustrations and this is the only way he knows how to cope right now, but our concern is where is it coming from? We heavily monitor their TV, video games and movies for this type of stuff; so where is he learning it? Josh and I are sure beyond doubt that he's picking it up from school. Some of it, he's observing others doing. Some of it is being done to him. I can tell when it's something that's been done to him, those are the days when he doesn't want to talk about what has happened at school and he's particularly nasty to Joey. He's also getting pretty easily irritated with Katie.

The teacher also left me frustrated with his insistence that Jaysen inform him when kids are teasing and calling him names. Now, we agree that Jaysen needs to learn to handle things on his own as much as possible. But, there comes a time when a student can't handle it and needs a teacher or other adult to intervene or at least be informed of what is happening. I know Jaysen has been frustrated by trying to inform teachers and adults of what is happening and he has been blown off and told to deal with it himself. I wanted to see how the teacher would respond to our informing him that Jaysen is telling us of stuff going on at school, I had purposely not been letting the teacher know. So I guess it really doesn't surprise me of the teacher's reaction/response, but it still leaves me frustrated and confused. Is he really interested in helping Jaysen or is he just saying things to make us happy and give us a false reassurance that he will handle it? One thing, surprisingly, is that the teacher agreed that although socialization skills are important, one has to accept that there comes a time when you have to ask is the socialization detrimental or beneficial? And if it's detrimental, what exactly is the purpose of the student continuing in public school?

We also addressed an incident a couple weeks ago where Jaysen came home sobbing that he was treated badly by a substitute P.E. teacher. Jaysen said he was not feeling good and asked to sit down while running laps and the P.E. teacher insisted Jaysen had to keep going. Jaysen's classroom teacher agreed this wasn't acceptable for any student, but especially a student with developmental disabilities.

In the end, I think even Jaysen's teacher was beginning to see that continuing in public school may not be the best option for Jaysen. The social skills issues for Jaysen are much more complicated than his teacher was really willing to acknowledge and we all know it's only going to get worse as he gets older.

Jaysen's academics are coming along well, he's still struggling with reading but we expected that. Jaysen did get a big thumbs up for his math, seems Jaysen is pushing on ahead into mental math (figuring the problems out in his head without needing to write out the work) something that none of the other kids in class are able to do just yet. And doing it with large numbers, too! Good job Jay!!

There are 49 days of school left (not counting holidays and non-student days). On one hand, that's not that much. On the other hand, for Jaysen that is a lot of school left. Especially considering that every single day there is some new drama or issue to deal with. So, I guess we continue to pray about it and see what happens. Josh hadn't realized that our agreed deadline for a decision is pretty much here already and he's trying to stall for more time. But even I am not sure just what to do at this point, either.

We went into this conference hoping for some answers and confirmation for our decision one way or the other. We left even more confused and unsure of what to do than we were before.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Leaning on a friend can sometimes lead to a slap in the face

Some comments made to me by a "friend" left me feeling frustrated and misunderstood. I don't even know what exactly to say to this person. One would think I was brand new to being a mom of special needs kids. But after starting to write about it several times and having no way to keep from sounding snarky, I realize she helped me to actually feel more certain about myself in the end.

I have had so many people in my life compliment me on handling parenting the boys and doing a wonderful job. I've never once had anyone give me reason to believe I wasn't doing a good job of coping and dealing. I've even had people comment to me that I act like parenting the boys is no big deal. Well, to me it just isn't a big deal. They are just our boys and that's that.

So, when I read the comment from the "friend" that I should seek out other parents and see how they do it (parenting special needs kids), it just kinda floored me. To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. I still have moments where it's hard to reconcile in my mind that this person actually thinks I'm not dealing with things well and need advice from others after so many people have asked my advice.

Which leads me to what seems to have prompted all this. I have posted a few times on Facebook over the last few weeks about the stresses of having a very ill grandmother, having my mom fly off to be with grandma with just a couple days notice, Jaysen's progressing behavior issues and Josh's job situation. I felt comfortable doing so as I felt I could no longer handle the stress alone and needed to "voice" my frustrations and stress to my friends and family. After all, they've all been there for me, a constant source of encouragment and support. Except, of course, for this one particular person. Her comments have left me feeling she believes I'm complaining too much and not counting my blessings enough. Funny how just a few sentances seem to have given her a lifetime of insight into my life and my feelings.

I firmly believe in making the time to "let it all out". We can't possibly hold it all in, we'd explode, lol! And in my case, my explosion would be me saying some pretty horrific and regretful things to my wonderful husband and precious children. That's why I posted, to just blow off some steam. Even in the number of times I've started to write things here only to erase them in the end, it just felt good to get it all out of my system. Putting pen to paper just to throw the paper in the trash sometimes is just the type of therapy I need to feel better. I think things through, resolve how I feel about things, and I'm able to move on and put it behind me.

In the end, her comments helped me to make sure that I am not so judgemental about someone else, especially to their face. She had the best intentions. I see that and I'm grateful she cared enough to offer her thoughts. I just wish she had taken a moment to reread what she had written and pray about it. Maybe she would have seen that she was coming across the wrong way, that her tone was rather judgemental. Maybe she would have stopped to think she was making some pretty broad assumptions she shouldn't make without more information.

I just know that a simple "hey, I know you are going through a rough time and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. I'm praying for you and love you." is much more thoughtful and helpful than inappropriate advice.