Sunday, June 30, 2013

(Jillian Michaels is not yelling at me on the treadmill) what I learned in June

June is over.

I don't really want to think about it.

But what have I learned this month? (linking with Emily @ chattingatthesky)

1. The library is awesome all year-round, but once again we are enjoying the benefits of the summer reading program. So far we have enjoyed free ice cream and pizza off of the flipcard.  And I need to turn in the boys' chart again because we have now earned a "pay mommy's library fines" certificate. If only I lived in land where there are no library fines, like my friend, Kelly.

2. I am trying to learn to run. I still do a lot of walking. It isn't pretty. I don't go very far. But I am off of my couch. And I kind of like it. I hate it, but I also kind of like it.  I like when I push myself 30 more seconds - in my head I can hear Jillian Michaels screaming at me to take my hands off of the bar of the treadmill. But lucky for me, Jillian is not really there - so I only push myself 30 seconds and I keep my hands on the bar most of the time so that I do not fall  off of the treadmill.  I may learn to run at some point, but I will never be coordinated.

3. Tonight I learned what broccoli rabe and tumeric are. Next month we are trying "clean eating" for our dinners. I had to google about ten ingredients on the list.  There wasn't a "can of cream of mushroom" anywhere on the list. There wasn't cheddar cheese. There wasn't mac'n'cheese.  Hold me.

4. Having a new, house-trained, big dog is a blessing. The kids love her. (Well, Bubby mostly - Bugaboo loves her from a distance so that he is not licked.) I feel safe in the house with her around. But I do not love the fur. I forgot about fur. I am vacuuming everyday now.  But she eats all of the spills on the floor - so I think I will be scrubbing the floors less. That's an even trade, right?


5. My four year old is independent.  Not only did he do VBS at our church without tears, he also went to a VBS without me being there at his "preschool church." Last year he cried at least half of the VBS days, and I was there. What a difference a year makes.

6. Watching 80s movies is a free and fun thing to do on some summer nights.  Let it also be known that the dream sequence in The Burbs is just as disturbing now as it was over two decades ago.

7. I did not take very many pictures this month. I will regret that in the future, but sometimes laziness wins.  And I have to remember that my parents did not document every moment of my life with a camera, so my boys won't need too much therapy if I don't have any pictures of them just doing normal things from June 2013.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

subject to change (some thoughts on labels)

Tonight as The Hubs and I were cleaning up dinner, we were discussing a variety of things.  At one point I asked, "Do you want a complementarian marriage?"
"No," he replied.
"Okay, I was just checking."
"I think it's fine that it works for other people, but I don't think it would work for us," he continued. "You need to be you."



We've been at our reformed Baptist church for six months now. We love the preaching and the people. It is a great fit for our family. I am learning so much from this community.

But I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief tonight that my husband knows who I am and who he is, what we believe about marriage and what works for us. Submitting to Christ and to each other.

Our marriage has changed over the eight and a half years. I wish I hadn't been so stubborn early on. I wish I had listened more and better understood that marriage is a lot of sacrifice and communication. I am learning a lot from my complementarian friends and have a lot of respect for them even though I don't think I'll take that label on. I'm not going to challenge my church's view on these things because I knew going into it what the beliefs were.

I know I'm not a feminist. I don't know that I would call my marriage egalitarian either. I can't really be labeled.
But for now I'll try this out: a stay-at-home mom semi-Reformed Baptist with Pentecostal tendencies and mostly egalitarian views on marriage except for parenting in which I lean a little more complementarian.  

Basically - it's complicated and always subject to change.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

five minute friday - in between

Every Friday Lisa-Jo hosts a group of bloggers who write for five minutes on a given topic.  Find all of the rules here.
Go.
I'm thirty-two and so much of my life has felt in between. Stuck where I am and waiting for the next thing to begin, that is the in between. I have wrestled it, cried over it, tried to ignore it, and sometimes I have embraced it in mostly a "trying to use reverse psychology on God" move. But have I enjoyed it? I'm not sure.

Right now the in between is different. The testing and guessing of the mysteries of our youngest son came to a stop this spring. "See you in a year. We have nothing else to say." said the medical experts.

So we wait and we work and we play and we practice. But mostly we wait and see. This in between of making progress but still these gaps. Still the lack of answers. Of labels.

Tonight in the in between the four of us went to a movie, which happened only once before - a year ago. Tonight the toddler laughed and gulped soda. He munched popcorn like a pro and talked to the screen. When he got fussy, The Hubs took him out, and somehow he fell asleep without a fight.

A normal family outing for us in this season of in between.

Stop.

Five Minute Friday

Friday, June 21, 2013

in which we all (should) have a passion

I am obviously very passionate about education.  I think I always wanted to be a teacher. Or a child psychologist (until I took my first child psyc class and was bored.) If I hadn't become a mom, I would still be  in the classroom. Or the principal's office. So these days, my passion for education is focused inside our home. And not only are my view of education likely different from much of the population, the way we parent probably is very different, too.

But education isn't everyone's passion.



The Hubs has found his niche in the mental health field - and is also finding it in the medical field. I know his heart is trying to help those who have PTSD, depression, and other mental illnesses. Other people are passionate about fitness or nutrition. I wish I was. I learn from my friends who know all about organic eating and working out. Honestly, I don't really apply it yet, but I admire their passion and knowledge about those topics.

I have friends who are passionate about Calvinism. I have friends who are passionate about Pentecostalism. And since I find value (and truth) in both, I learn from them even though I am not 100% sold on either perspective.I have friends who make their homes beautiful. I have friends who volunteer at animal shelters. I have friends who advocate for a variety of worthy causes.  What I find with each of these friends is that not only are they passionate about their interest, they are knowledgeable.  So I choose to learn from them, even if it is not something I will ever be very interested in or even something I necessarily agree with.

At the end of the day if I have caused someone to think about something in a different way, I am happy. My desire is not agreement, but to challenge others (and myself) to think about why we do what we do. And through that I hope there is change in all of us.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

why this public school kid will (probably) homeschool her own kids

"...those homeschool kids..."

Someone used this phrase to me recently not realizing that I homeschooled myself for the end of high school and that I plan on homeschooling my kids.  She wasn't rude, but she was stereotyping. I  didn't know exactly how to respond. So I pointed out that kids' "weirdness" or "bad behavior" had more to do with parenting and the child's personality than school choice. Because honestly, a kid is going to be "weird" or social or ornery whether they are in public school, private school or homeschooled. I know. I taught public school for six years. I attended public school till midway through 11th grade. My mom teaches public school.

So when I saw The Gospel Coalition doing a series on school choices, I was excited to say the least. I am a curriculum/education/theology nerd. I love reading about these things. I love discussing and debating. There is a part of me that is passionate about quality public education.  I could have chosen a career in something else (I was encouraged by teachers in my life NOT to waste my life in public ed - I didn't listen.) I majored in elementary ed and then went on to get my masters/certification in administration because I felt called to do so. I wanted to make a difference. Though my teaching years will never be turned into a movie featuring Michelle Pfeifer, I believe that I did make a difference. But I also was discouraged in how little change to the system I was able to make.



These days I'm not teaching in a school. And I am not returning to public education, unless God tells me to. Our plan is to homeschool or combine private school with homeschooling.

Why?

It's not because of bullying. It's not because of secular science curriculum. It's not because I am a stereotypical homeschool mom.  It's because just as teaching in public school was a calling for me during one season, homeschooling looks like it will be a calling for this current and next phase of life.

You want a more detailed answer?

  • I like being with my kids.  Yes, I like breaks. No I do not like housework or many of the other things associate with being a stay-at-home mom. But I do like being with my kids. I only have eighteen years with them - and these first four have gone by so fast.
  • I'm good at teaching. I don't want this to come across as prideful. I am terrible at a lot of things. But I am good at teaching, so I am choosing to use this talent at home.
  • I like curriculum. I like the fact that I can tailor learning experiences for both of my boys. I like that I will get to learn with them.  I like that I am leaning towards a classical education, and I am excited about history and literature and Latin and all of the things I feel I missed out on in my public school years as a student.
  • I like teaching. I like the lightbulb moments. C and I have been working on learning to read and learning some initial math concepts. All the joy I found in lightbulb moments from my old days teaching are even more exciting now.
  • I don't like wasted time. I know how much wasted time there is in a classroom. It terrifies me. (Insert rant about centers, worksheets, students with disruptive behavior and all things public school teachers are required to deal with) This isn't because (most) teachers want their time wasted, it is just the way the system unfortunately works.
  • I lean libertarian.  I don't trust the government to know what is best of my kids. I am anti-Common Core.
  • I have two children who will most likely have very different learning strengths and needs.  C is on track or beyond in many areas. His gross motor skills are below average. He has little interest in handwriting, and I choose not to push that. He has an imagination. He loves books and learning.  G is getting special services for speech, PT and OT. He loves music and water. He is a year or more behind in his cognitive development. I can honestly say I do not know exactly what education will look like for him in the days ahead - this fall he will be assessed for transition to special education preschool, and a lot of thought and prayer will go into how The Hubs and I proceed.  I feel that homeschooling will give me a lot of flexibility with both of my children and allow us all to learn together.
  • We don't live in a great school district/neighborhood school area. Our neighborhood school is a Title school (that means low socio-economic status.) I am not going to sacrifice my sons' education to feel good about myself for doing what society (even some in Christian society) might think my duty should be. I know others choose differently for their families, and they don't feel that their children's education is sacrificed. I respect that.
  • And I will be honest enough to say that fear plays a role in my decision.  If (trained) teachers were allowed to carry weapons to school to protect students from crazy people, I might consider sending my kids to public school if the other factors were favorable. But I don't want my kids to have to hide in a storage closet during a lockdown in a windowless classroom. That terrified me as an adult. I can't imagine what it is like as a first grader.
  • My years as a public school teacher did more to push me to homeschool than anything else. I know this is the opposite for some people, and I respect that. At the end of the day we are all accountable for doing what is best for our own families and our own callings. 
Thoughts? Questions? Opinions?  Feel free to comment (respectfully) here or on my facebook page.

*Please note that the choices The Hubs and I make regarding education are not in stone. 
*Shout out to my public school family members and friends for continuing to teach and reach your students and community. 
*Someone is sure to point out that we send C to preschool. Yes. Two days a week. So I can have one-on-one time with G. And so someone can teach him to use scissors. I did not major in early childhood for a reason, haha.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

price cutter, pretzels, and best friends

Almost every day, Bubby asks, "What are we going to do today?" This has become a constant thing this summer, and unfortunately we don't always have something fun and exciting to do. In fact most days our plans are play with Legos or trains, read books,do some sort of art, and play outside if it isn't raining (and isn't during the hours when my Cullen-esque son won't burn).  Bubby loves to go places, and I think he thrived on the busy-ness of last week with VBS and other appointments. He is not as much of a homebody as his parents.

This morning I needed two things I couldn't get at Aldi, so I took the boys to the pricier grocery store - the one with the better driving carts. It made their day. Five minutes at PriceCutter to get enchilada sauce and pork chops (not to be used together), and I became Mommy of the Year. I think the sips of my iced caramel machiatto also helped seal the deal.

The Hubs only had one client in Branson this afternoon (his others cancelled), so he was essentially paying to work today with gas prices. I suggested he drop the boys and I off at the Landing (where I haven't been since before Bugaboo was born). Then it wasn't a total waste of gas. We got out of the house, and he had company for the ride to and from. While The Hubs worked, I pushed a double stroller rather awkwardly in and out of stores with doors that are not double stroller friendly.  The boys enjoyed watching the fountain that shot water and fire, and I enjoyed sitting on a bench sharing a pretzel with them. I also enjoyed being outside but not in nature on this beautiful day.

The highlight of the day though? That was this morning, in between some meltdowns Bugaboo had while I was folding clothes. Bubby was trying to get him to play, and finally little brother agreed. I overheard my four year old say to my two year old, "Bugaboo, you are my BEST friend."



Sunday, June 16, 2013

the gift of a dad

They squeal and scream with delight when he "gobbles" them or when he runs around the house with them on his shoulders. They are just as happy with a wrestling match or story time. They know they can depend on him to be there for them, to provide for them, to teach them, to love them.

They have no reason to doubt this.


 In a world filled with dads who leave or dads who abuse or dads who cherish their resume' more than their family, I know that my boys are blessed with one of the best gifts there is. A real dad.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

of ice cream and boundaries (a recap with a lot of parentheses)

Summer is in full swing at our house. What I really mean is we have already done our traveling (to the exotic location of northwest Illinois), and we are now 40% through VBS week. After that our summer will consist of me trying to find free things to do with the boys. I will also be found whining about the heat and humidity of southwest Missouri (really just the humidity because that is what causes my misery). But before I succumb to the whininess that grabs hold in July and the itch to buy school supplies as soon as the displays appear at Walmart, I shall reflect upon our week back home.

I didn't really want to go. I did, but I didn't. Packing for a toddler and a preschooler is only one small step above packing for a baby and a toddler. Also, the idea of going home during summer break reminded me that I haven't been on a real vacation (that means traveling somewhere fun and not seeing family) in seven years (or five if you count our long weekend in Eureka Springs, which I sometimes don't). But I sucked it up, packed our suitcases, and asked The Hubs to load the mini.

I'm glad I did because it turned out to be the best trip home I think I have had. (And I've been driving from Missouri to Illinois since 1999.) Bugaboo tolerated the car ride better than he ever has - which meant we didn't have to endure seven hours each way of non-stop crying. (There was crying, but not as much.)

We spent a week doing a whole lot of nothing which was exactly what we needed. We ate food at some fabulous local places. I may or may not have gone to get the best ice cream ever three times in seven days. (I learned that double dip waffle cones are more expensive than a shake, but I needed more than one flavor at a time.)

The boys not only got to hang with Uncle Chow, Auntie Missa and Babu (grandma), but they also spent some quality time with their great-grandma and great-great-grandma.  Bugaboo decided that Chow was to be his BFF, and he even stood at the door and cried on times when Chow was at work.  Fur-cousin Sasha decided Bugaboo was to be his BFF because a) he was the shortest and b)the drool he always wears is apparently delicious to dogs. (Bubby wanted Sasha to be his BFF, but him chasing her around with noisy toys did not help that relationship.)



There were three things that stood out to me about this trip. For the first time in a long time, I did not cry at home. There are reasons for this, but I can sum it up in one word. Boundaries. 

Another wonderful thing was a date night because we had three free baby-sitters around.  We lack free baby-sitters in Missouri, so eating in a restaurant without having to order someone something off of kids meal is quite the luxury.

On the last day we were at home we finally let Bubby ride his bike around the cul-de-sac. This is where my brother and I spent so many days riding around with all of our neighborhood friends. It was a great place to grow up, and I felt quite nostalgic watching him learn to pedal there. Maybe next summer I can teach him to play kickball down at the Nelson's end of the street. Do kids even play outside any more?