Archive | March 2013

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How to Keep Your Marriage Alive in a Den Full of Chaos

There are some of you reading this who make me nervous as I write this. I wish you would just stop reading it.

It’s you guys: married with children, young ones, but somehow never miss your Friday date night... You text all day long – silly jokes, sweet nothings, prayer requests… except when you don’t have to, when you’re on your once-a-month overnight getaways. That’s when you discuss your answers to the marriage self-help book you’ve been reading in your spare time.

Congratulations, Romeo and Juliet. I don’t know how you do it.

Don’t get me wrong. We were you. We used to be really romantic. The first night Todd and I started dating (on New Year’s Eve, 2006) we talked for three hours on the phone, then cuddled and told shared our deepest dreams as watched the sun come up over the lake.

skating

just another crazy date

We were such a cute little dating couple. We saw each other every night, rehashing every wonderful little detail about our days apart. (“Honey, did you have turkey or ham today? You never told me!!”)

A year after we were married, I was pregnant.

While I wouldn’t trade this stage for anything, and there is no one I would rather raise my boys with than Todd…WOW. Have things changed.

so in love...so clueless

so in love…so clueless

I had a scary realization the other night. The boys had gone to bed. Todd and I were sitting in a completely silent room. He was reading some NASCAR blog on his phone. I was mindlessly checking Facebook. I think it had been an hour since we put the boys to bed, and neither of us had spoken a word.

And it hit me.

I like this.

I have not spoken to my husband all day long, and I am fine with that. I am so tired, I could go to bed right this instant and not bat an eye.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I would have never, ever in a million years guessed myself susceptible to the “leave-me-alone” housewife gig. I love talking. Quality time is my love language. I’ve read all the marriage books and gone to all the seminars. I know all the quotes and must-dos.

The only explanation I can think of is something I think our pastor showed us in premarital counseling. He put his hands flat together. This is you, now. Together. Then, slowly, he drew his hands apart. Here is the natural progression from here on out, unless you work and fight it.

I think I remember casting Todd a cute little smirk. Not us, you hottie. *wink.*

Welp, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Once it hit me I was indeed becoming a statistic, I did what I always do when I’m worried. I nag. It’s a very enduring quality, one of Todd’s favorites about me. After a few days of getting him good and nagged, I finally implemented the much-wiser “Esther” treatment of husbands. Over fast food and beer, I told him I thought we should spend more quality time together.

Turns out he’s not the devil after all and he agrees wholeheartedly.

As we’ve been working on this, a few brief things are worth nothing:

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  • I really actually enjoy my husband, beyond the feelings of gratitude I have when he brings me the box of baby wipes.
  • After four straight years of working on allergy cooking, sleep-training, house-cleaning, potty training, child-rearing, baby nurturing, green living, and money budgeting, I am giving myself permission to spend some time working on my marriage. It feels like eating the last delicious french fry to do something so self-gratifying, but marriage is important, too.
  • Make date nights important. Blah, blah, blah is what I used to think. Date night schmate nights. We are plenty in love. Well, possibly. But we have been shocked at how enjoyable it is to simply cover the floor with a blanket, sprawl out with some take-out, put on Pandora and a few candles, and have an uninterrupted conversation. It feels like heaven. No, I’m wrong. If we were at Ruth’s Chris, that would feel like heaven.
  • I hate to sound like a modern-day prophet when I know I’m not one. But I think God blesses the time that exhausted, frazzled couples with snotty, needy little ones spend together. I know He has blessed ours. The time, he multiples. He gives you insights about your goals, your kids, your faith. He fills you with joy and draws you together.

Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of these insights we’ve had. Which makes me realize…January and February were months of dismal exhaustion, and March is the month for insights and goals. I guess all those hibernating naps in winter did something.

What about you? Is it harder to stay connected post-kids? What helps?

my crazy homeschooling ideas

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I recently found a blog I loved. It was called “weird, unsocialized homeschoolers.” I actually don’t even remember much that was on the blog, but I just thought that was a brilliant title.

Because it’s just better to get it all out on the table.

I’m considering homeschooling. AKA: I’m weird/unnaturally attached to my kids/scared of the real world/just plain nutso.

Maybe one day I’ll get better at saying, “Actually, I’m thinking I’d maybe like to try homeschooling,” without looking sheepish and scared and like I’ve killed someone and hidden them under my couch cushions.

The truth is, I’d like to homeschool. (Always have, since Sam was the size of a cantaloupe in my belly and I was trying to get my husband to help me decide on a curriculum. He wanted to wait…weirdo.) But at the same time, I am tentative about these plans.

None of my close friends currently homeschool. Very few are considering it. It scares me that so many people I respect choose private, or public, or charter school. I don’t want to be the dumb one, to do the wrong thing.

I don’t want my kids to be awkward, or disrespectful, or…behind?

I don’t want to homeschool out of weakness, but out of strengthNot because I’m scared of residual peanut butter (although I am, to death) or because I can’t bear to imagine eight hours in a row without my boys (although I can’t) or because I just want my kids to be my kids forever (although I do).

I’m sort of rambling. Underneath all these (bad) reasons, there are good ones.

  • I was a teacher, and I know how much wasted time there was in school.
  • It excites me to think of all the fun things I could do with my kids.
  • I know that boys need to move, to build, to run, to take breaks…I’m excited about being in charge of our days and meshing schoolwork and life.

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There is this vision in my head of our days – building things, doing experiments, reading, making friends, exercising, discussing, traveling…I see how it might be and I’m so curious to try it.

But just so you know, I do realize that there’s a good change on day three I’ll be back here, bemoaning how I’m sick of my kids and I’ve made a terrible mistake.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m slowly formulating a plan for Sam’s kindergarten year. Here it is so far:

  • Math: Math U See curriculum. Each day is a 10-minute video explaining the day’s concepts, in ways that, apparently, enlighten most moms for the first time. What’s not to like about that??
  • Utilize Classical Conversations to help Sam memorize facts in history, Latin, English grammar, geography, math, science, and history timeline.
  • Reading: Teach Sam to read using Rod and Staff Grade 1 Reading Booklets. (It says “grade 1,” but Sam will do the 4-5 kindergarten next year, for his pre-K year.) I also plan to use the “Bob” books, which you can purchase on Amazon, or check out at the library. Or borrow from your sister when she buys them. 🙂
  • Writing: Use Handwriting Without Tears for Letter Practice.
  • Bible: I don’t know. I think we’ll do some Bible memory work. I don’t know what else. Suggestions anyone?
  • Science: If Sam attends a local Classical Conversations class, he will do a science experiment each week. In addition, I think I’ll just make up a list of interesting science topics and we’ll get books from the library and watch youtube videos on that subject. Does that sound horrible? 🙂
  • History: In addition to the history facts he’ll memorize in Classical Conversations, we’ll read “The Story of the World” book one. I just love reading those. They are great!
  • Geography: I’ve heard good things about “Legends and Leagues” curriculum.
  • Music. Todd is going to teach Sam guitar. I think it will require more patience than either of them has ever needed in his life.

And now, for the most important question: How am I going to get my kid socialized?

I loved this article I recently read (“Why My Kids Will Never Be Socialized” – but it’s not what you think) on socialization and homeschooling.

In all seriousness, though, it is a concern of mine. I think it’s the biggest obstacle I see so far. Not insurmountable, but definitely an issue to address. Here are my plans to provide social activities for Sam:

  • Have him playing at least two, maybe three, community sports each year.
  • Make attending Sunday School and Children’s Church a priority, and to participate as much as he can in church kids’ stuff.
  • Do Boy Scouts as soon as he can.
  • Attend a co-op with kids that he likes. If not Classical Conversations, then I’ll find another one. If I can’t find another one, I’ll start one. 🙂
  • Together, interact with those we meet in our daily lives. Chat with the librarian, the guy fixing the fence, our neighbors, the lady at the store, blah blah blah.

So there you have it. I’m sure if you’ve homeschooled for millions of years you are laughing at my perfectly laid plans and thinking I’m in for quite the shock. 🙂 And you’re probably right.

Have you ever tried or considered homeschooling?

when the real world smacks you in the face (and a mom’s favorite verse)

Less than a week ago, I was cruising down the highway, kid-less, Chick-fil-a salad on my lap, all dolled up, headed for a fun and relaxing mom’s getaway weekend.

It was awesome. I learned so much. I ate two whole servings of hotel hash browns for breakfast (and a cup of steaming coffee) without being interrupted by anyone a) asking me for my food or b) pooping their pants. I sat still in a chair all day long, scheming about how to be a better mom. I had adult conversations, and ate Dove chocolates anytime I wanted.

I left feeling so rejuvenated to be the world’s. best. mom when I came back. And for 24 hours, I was close to it. I guess it was about day three when the poop really hit the fan smeared on my jeans while Ty wrangled and cried like I was giving him 23 vaccines. Real life, in other worlds, smacked me in the face.

Today, if you saw me right now, you would think I have been in solitary confinement and torture for the prior week, not rejuvenated from a better-mom conference. Honest to goodness. It’s rough.

Here I am. Aren't I awesome? You're welcome for putting this really icky picture up so you feel better about yourself.

Here I am. Aren’t I awesome? You’re welcome, for me putting this really icky picture up so you feel better about yourself.

Also, Sam must have had a sixth sense that my heart has been softened about discipline. He’s responded by shouting, “No, Mommy” in my face at the top of his lungs, poking his brother with forks, and telling me, “You’re so naughty. You’re a naughty Mommy” over and over, in the front yard, while throwing buckets and shovels.

Ty, similarly, must have picked up that I’m trying to be more patient, and wanted to help me practice those skills by using only a whine tone for the hours of 7am-6:30pm. And also, this morning at 5:00am, for about forty minutes. He is giving me so much practice.

I had also resolved to get up earlier and pray and read my Bible, and shower. I did it for two days. Then, the boys got up crazy early and I didn’t have time. And last night Sam slept in our bed with an asthma flare-up, so I was exhausted and skipped it.

I’m just a big, fat failure of a mom.

And the only thing worse than being a big fat failure of a mom, is doing that after such wonderfully high hopes.

SIGH.

This afternoon as I was hanging up the laundry, I remembered a blog I wrote awhile ago. It’s called “In Defense of Calvinism.” Last time I checked it’s not one of my most popular posts, but I just love it.

And I also remembered this verse:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-22, italics mine)

I have always loved that God gives us new mercies in the morning, but I think I got the ending mixed up. I’d always think of it like, every day, God gives me a fresh chance to be good.

No.

In the morning, it’s GOD that is faithful, not me.

I am so thankful for fresh starts. And conferences that make me want to be better. And conversations with friends that put things in perspective. And girls’ nights out. And date nights. And nap times. I need breaks.

But thank you God, that you’re going to be faithful even if I’m not.

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7).