Parenting.

May 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Parenting.

I know I’m supposed to write about how amazing it is, and how wonderful of an experience being a parent is. I should write about how much love I feel for my kiddos and how they make me feel complete. I should write about how my life now has purpose and that I’d be wandering in the desert without them.

But lets be honest. Before kids, my life did not revolve around poop, snacks, barf, and hiding in my closet to eat chocolate without having to share. Don’t misunderstand me – my kids are great and I love them. But my life did not turn into butterflies and rainbows the moment they were born. In fact, my life went from being focused on myself and my husband to focusing on a tiny boy who pooped and barfed everywhere. My husband still laughingly tells the story of our first son shooting poop into the foot of his sleeper – and missing his diaper entirely. Or my husband changing the diaper of our tiny little newborn, and getting poop shot all over him.

Having a baby doesn’t suddenly turn you into an angelic mother with a glowing aura around you. In fact, having a baby brings out the worst in you. It likely brings out the best as well, but what you see is the worst. And then you have another baby. And another baby. And another baby. And you see a lot of “worst”. I’ve never been known for my patience. And then I added three children in 4 ½ years. While I have learned a lot about patience and mine has gotten much better, I doubt it’s evident to most people that I have grown in that area.

Being a parent stretches you in the hardest ways possible. Several days ago, we had “one of those days” at my house. By dinnertime, my oldest son, age six, was giving me major attitude, and I didn’t deal with it properly. I should have sent him to his room to remove one of us from the situation. But since I didn’t, everything that came out of my mouth, came out in “yell”. My husband was upstairs showering, and could hear everything I was saying. And he could also hear the neighbours, who were sitting on their back porch, talking about me. So not only was I being stretched to be a better me (which I obviously failed at), but now I’m being stretched to put aside what people may say. Was I in the right to be yelling at my children? Absolutely not. But were they in the right to talk about me, having no concept of the situation? Absolutely not.

I feel like as parents, specifically as mothers, our job is to support one another. If you hear a mother yelling non-stop at her children, she probably needs a five minute breather – not a lecture on how to “chill out”. That mother is probably on the verge of bursting into tears, and could probably use a “Hey, you’re doing a great job – we all have those days”, rather than pointing out the horrible wrongs she is committing. That mom could probably use a coffee, a big fat chocolate bar, and a good cry. Rarely would that mom need someone pointing out how she should “chill out”. In that situation, my husband asked me “Did you realize you had gotten to the point that everything was coming out in ‘yell’?” And I genuinely had not even realized it. My husband gently reminded me that in that situation, I should have sent my son to his room to remove him from the situation.

I believe as parents, we are far too quick to judge one another. We are too quick to point out each others wrongdoings and too slow to help pick up the pieces. There’s the working moms club, and the stay at home moms club, and those two clubs judge one another. Then there’s the public/private/homeschool mom clubs, who also judge one another. There are helicopter moms vs hands off moms. There are controlling moms and there are not present moms. There are moms of big kids and moms of little kids. And all these moms judge one another. Rarely do they help one another.

Where did the village go? The saying is, “it takes a village to raise a child”. And I believe that. But in today’s society, moms are left on their own. Rarely does the village stand with the mom to help her through the challenges of parenting. Instead, the village judges the mom. And through that judgment, the mother’s job becomes more difficult. Not only is she struggling daily to do the right thing where her children are concerned, but she’s also struggling with the knowledge that every decision she makes for those children will be scrutinized by people who do not care enough to lift a finger and help.

Let’s create a village. Let’s stand with one another as mothers, and help one another through the struggles and challenges that we all face. Let’s watch one another with care and thoughtfulness, rather than judgment and disdain. The village starts with you. Be the village for those around you.

Homeschooling Begins!

July 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

We always knew we would homeschool. I started doing my research when my oldest child was 18 months old so I would have an idea of what to expect. We tried implementing a preschool curriculum, only to find out that my child was finishing a week’s worth of school in 45 minutes. Do we have a boy-genius on our hands? Or is that much time really wasted in school?

 

Since I got my curriculum early, I decided to start school early, to work out the kinks. And boy am I glad I did! I’m learning a lot about my little man, myself, our lives, and how this is all going to come together. We chose (for this year, anyway) to go with a Distributed Learning program, through a private Christian school. Here in BC, Canada, that means we will work with a certified BC teacher, and design our own learning outcomes that match (or exceed) what the government requires for each grade in a standard school. I have no doubt that MY PLO’s (personal learning outcomes) will exceed what the government wants, so I’m not too worried about my little man reaching their goals. What I’m unsure about is reporting back to the teacher, keeping solid records, and getting report cards every year. With this DL (Distributed Learning) program, little man also has the opportunity to attend community classes once a week, where he will “go to school” with other kids his age, and have a bit of a “school” experience.

 

Here is what we’re using this year, and how I feel about each.

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  • Math – Math-U-See – I LOVE this program, and anticipate that I will use it FOREVER.

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  • Language Arts – Learning Language Arts Through Literature – I don’t love this so far. But I have other homeschooling friends who assure me that year 1 is the bad year, and it gets way better after that.
  • Language Arts – Explode the Code – I LOVE this for reading/language.
  • French – The Easy French/Francais Facile – I’m not sure about this yet. I may have gone with the wrong portion of the program. We’ll see. But I do know there isn’t much for French programs for kindergarten, as most people don’t start that this early. This isn’t a requirement until fifth grade, but it’s a preference on my part.
  • Socials – My First Map Book by Apple Press. I love this one as well – lots of left and right, cutting, which my little guy loves, glueing, etc.

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  • Socials – Living Books for Life – this was created by a homeschooling mom in BC who wanted to make sure her kids learned what the BC guidelines required, so she wrote her own curriculum based on the government required. It’s great for an “out of the box” curriculum, but I’m not impressed for us personally, so far.
  • Science – the World God Made – we haven’t used this too much yet. But I haven’t found much for science that I feel I’m thrilled with. My other homeschooling friends have informed me that for Kindergarten and Grade 1, your options are VERY limited, and you sort of have to suffer through, and supplement online.
  • TeachersPayTeachers.com – the BEST resource I have found yet. You can find nearly any worksheet for any subject you desire. Some are paid, some are free. So far, I’ve found everything I need free.

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So far, I’m feeling a tiny bit like I could have bought math, and found everything else for free. Which the school did tell me, but I had wanted something easy, since I have two younger children at home, and it’s my first year homeschooling. Unfortunately, I’m finding that I’d rather put my own program together than use an “out of the box” program. I’m not sure why this surprises me – it’s how I typically do things. I don’t follow recipes, I use them as a guideline instead. I don’t follow schedules – my life works itself into its own schedule instead. I don’t like watching TV shows then they’re on, I’d rather download them or watch On Demand when I feel like watching them. So why would homeschooling be any different?

It’s a learning curve, all around. I’m finding that right now, when it’s extraordinarily hot outside, none of us have the energy for schoolwork. Some days, all we do is read a book (which little man learned to read ALL BY HIMSELF last week), and other days we do a full two hours of school. That’s the beauty of homeschooling.








Being the Minority

May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

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It’s hard being the minority.

My husband and I have decided to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We realize that if these precious children that God has given us never learn to obey and respect us, they will never learn to obey and respect the Lord. We follow biblical principles of child-rearing. And in our tight Christian circles, we are the minority.

Our Christian society has been so influenced by the world around us that biblical principles have been left for “serious situations”, or “dangerous situations”. How did we, as a Christian society, get to the point where the Bible is only relevant when the situation is “serious”? When did it become up to us to decide what is serious and what is not? My child disobeying me deliberately is a serious issue. Treating their parents with disrespect is a serious issue. Treating others with disrespect is a serious issue.

75 years ago, we would have been a normal family. We would have been the same as everyone else. But now we are in the extreme minority. I know of one other family in our circle who believe as we do. And that’s all. How did this happen?

It hasn’t happened only with raising children. I believe our entire Christian society has become desensitised to the world around us. Our Christian community has become more open to things like couples living together before they are married, homosexual relationships, foul language, and dressing provocatively. These things have become somewhat commonplace in our Christian circles. Some us can clearly see the world’s influence in these situations, yet we don’t see any influence of the world in our “new” child raising practices.

50-75 years ago, children respected their parents. They listened and obeyed when spoken to. They grew up to love and honour their parents. I don’t see that anymore. I see children talking back to parents. I see parents negotiating with children. I see grown children disrespecting parents, and I see five year old children disrespecting parents. Why is it that we think the world’s way is better? Has it been successful? I certainly don’t see better results from them. So why do we take their attitude towards child raising? Do we want our children to talk back and disrespect us? I certainly don’t.

So as a part of becoming the family we want to be, I will stand in the minority. And I will follow God’s principles.

Making the Most of Your Costco Membership!

May 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Costco

 

 

I am a Costco addict. There. I admitted it. I rarely shop at a regular grocery store anymore, and when I can’t find the time or energy to make it to Costco, I go a little bit nuts. Since our family lost a third of our income over a year ago, I had to really maximize our income in a lot of ways. One of the ways I’ve managed to save our family approximately $300/month is by shopping carefully at Costco. Here’s how.

Avoid the frozen, pre-made food aisles. This is how people walk out of Costco, having spent $300 and their cart is 1/3 of the way full. They purchase the pre-made foods. I admit, sometimes my husband and I splurge and buy ourselves a treat from those aisles – but only if there is an in-store special, and there is money left in the budget after picking up the necessities.

Know your prices. I can tell you, off the top of my head, how much nearly everything I buy costs at Costco. My family members will regularly come to me and ask me how much I spend on a certain item that they need, and had seen it at the regular grocery store, and they want to know if they can get it cheaper at Costco. Usually I can tell them. I know what’s a good deal, and what is not, just from experience. If you don’t have the experience yet, make a list!

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Cook from scratch. This one will bug a lot of you, I know. And I understand that some of you work more than full time jobs in addition to coming home and taking care of a home and family. So I understand that all the things I do from scratch may not be possible for those of you who are not stay at home moms. But if you ARE a stay at home mom, and you and your husband have been trying to figure out how to save some money, this is a big one. Bread, at Costco, costs about $5/2 loaves for the cheapest bread. If you’ve got a couple of kids and a husband who take sandwhiches in their lunch and make toast for breakfast, you’re probably going through 4-5 loaves in a week. That’s $12.50/week just in bread. That’s approximately $55/month just on bread. I invested in a bread machine at first, and used that every day, and eventually moved towards making my bread in my KitchenAid mixer from scratch, making three loaves at a time. Each loaf costs me about $.30, buying my ingredients at Costco. So it costs me $6.50/month to bake my bread, and I save $48.50/month. And that’s just by baking bread, let alone the hundred other things I make instead of buying.

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Take the time to split up your purchases. I buy ground beef and ground pork at Costco, the beef costing me about $3/lb, which here in Canada, is a pretty smoking deal. The pork is a bit less. And when I get home, I actually mix them together. Out of a package of beef and a package of pork, I get 12 meals, and it costs about $30. That’s $2.50/meal for a family of four.

Take advantage of deals and coupons. I’ve been on the lookout for a spring/fall coat for about 2 years. I didn’t want to pay $150, but I was willing to pay quite a bit for a coat I loved. We live in a very rainy climate, so something moderately water resistant was preferable. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were walking through Costco, and lo and behold, they had their spring coats on sale. A Calvin Klein, hip length, GORGEOUS red water resistant spring coat was regular priced at $50, which is a pretty good deal by itself. But it was on sale beyond that! I only paid $28 for that beautiful coat. Don’t let the deals pass you by, either. They won’t be there the next time you go. Even beware of some of the regular priced “deals”. Some of them won’t be there next time you go, either! I’m currently waiting patiently on a pasta attachment set for my KitchenAid mixer. It’s about a $300 value for everything included, and it’s at Costco for $100.

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My husband and I also purchased our latest cell phones from Costco. When we got them, each phone had a promotion where you got a $100 gift card with the purchase of the phone. On a contract, the phones were only $50, so the store basically paid us to buy our phones. We used the extra $50 to buy the warranties on the phones.

There are my tips of the day. Obviously there are a lot of other guidelines I use at Costco, but those are my basics! My kids love going there for the hot dogs and free samples, and my husband even enjoys coming if I bribe him with a hot dog! The membership cost ($55) is saved by my family in one month. So it’s certainly worth it for us!

 

The Beginning of the End

March 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

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It’s time. Time to make a change.

For too long now, I’ve let life dictate my attitude, my well being, my actions, and my thoughts. Instead of me telling life what it will be for me, life has told me how I will survive.

Let me tell you, it hasn’t been pretty.

I’ve been grumpy, and sad. I’ve complained and whined. I’ve been tired and unproductive. I’ve let my children get the better of me. I’ve let the world around me get the better of me. I’ve been unhappy with everything, and an all around miserable person to be around. Oh sure, I blamed it on a lot of other things. And they are valid things. Big life changes. But none of it means I have the right to be grumpy and unhappy and unproductive.

It’s time for a change.

I’ve known for awhile that it’s time to make a change. But change means work. Changing your boring routine. Adding something you might not want to do. Like dig out your Bible and study books. Pray. Talk to God. Pulling out the big guns.

Talk. To. God.

So here I am. It’s the beginning of the end. The end of unhappy, grumpy, unproductive, sad, depressing me. Soon to be the happy-go-lucky, carefree, spontaneous me I used to be. I can’t wait to see her again.

A Life of Change

August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The leaves have just begun to change here in the Pacific Northwest. It seems a little early, but it is what it is. And the changing leaves have reminded me of something. I had determined to live a life of change.

I have made a few changes. But it’s not the metamorphosis I was desiring, or expecting. I don’t know if I had higher expectations for myself than I should have, or I was too lazy to live up to my own expectations. But here we are, almost September, and what have I really changed?

Sure, I’m more domestic. I bake more, and I clean more and I cook more. But more often than not I still find myself in pyjamas at 11 a.m. I do spend a bit more time with God, but has it greatly and seriously made a difference in my life? Mostly because I’m not allowing it to. I do spend a bit more time with my kids, but I am still frustrated with them, and I still have days where I want to rip out my hair.

Does this mean I haven’t made the metamorphosis I was desiring? Not necessarily. I am a work in progress. I have realized that I’ve let the metamorphosis go. I haven’t been determined lately to make change. And that needs to change. Change must be made!

I’m not entirely certain what this looks like. But I know it involves working out. Ugh. I hate working out. And I know it involves a possible technology fast. I also know it involves a whole lot of willpower that I seem to have a hard time mustering up. It may also mean moving to a  new house in a new location. Who knows? What I do know is that I am unhappy with my progress. I have not done what I set out to do. And that means something must change.

Where will the change take me? Your guess is as good as mine! Lets see where it goes.

Domesticity, Here I Am!

August 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

This is my bread. I baked it. I didn’t use a breadmaker, I used my oven. And I did it all by myself.

Those of you who really know me, know that I’m typically not a baker. I don’t enjoy it. I think it’s too precise for me. I enjoy cooking where you add a dash of this and a dash of that and throw it in the oven for 20 minutes. Or maybe 40. Who cares?

I found a recipe for amazing artisan bread on Pinterest. I know… I’ve caught it. The Pinterest bug. There are minutes/hours/days that it completely consumes me. But in my defence, a lot of good things have come from my obsession. Like this amazing artisan bread that I made all by myself. And it was so easy!

4 ingredients. You can’t go wrong with 4 ingredients.

flour

salt

yeast

water

And then you let it rise for 18 hours. Or 19, in my case. And then you put ridiculous amounts of flour on your hands to get it out and turn into a sort of ball. And you let it rest in a heavily floured towel again for 1-2 hours. And then you preheat a really big cast iron dutch oven. And then you put the dough in. And then you bake it. Ta-Dah! Artisan bread.

Anybody else in awe of how easy baking can be? I am.