Category Archives: Giving up Your Career for Your Kids

Bad Pancake Days

PancakesYou can usually tell what kind of day it’s going to be by your response to the breakfast pancakes.  I can remember watching my sister flip pancakes for the first time and how irritated she got.  Sometimes, it’s just not as easy as it looks.  The first pancake is usually sacrificed to heat and oil calibration.  It’s so ugly, nobody will eat the first one.  Then, on a good day, you get the temperature adjusted or add a little more oil, and you’re good-to-golden-pancakes go.  But some days, none of those blasted pancakes want to do anything right.  They fold and they burn.  You step away from the kitchen for a moment (or ten), and they’re scorched.  Toasted.  These are bad days; you can always see it coming.  The whole rest of the day is usually just trash.  All because of those stupid pancakes.  So much easier when everybody just eats bananas for breakfast.  Why do kids think they need pancakes?  Why?  They’re not even that healthy for you.

Today, I was having a bad pancake morning.  The kind where you wham your spatula into every single pancake in the pan to help it along on its destructive journey.  Wham.  Wham.  My first two pancakes wouldn’t flip and I was about to wham them.  Then, an unseen force held my arm in high swing: “Turn this day around.”  Hmmm.  Can I?  I stopped.  I critically analyzed the situation and decided to do three very logical, productive things:

  1.  Turn up the heat a little.
  2.  Make sure there was oil distributed where I poured pancake batter.
  3.  Get a bigger spatula.

Beautiful golden pancakes that my daughters adored all the way to the last bit of batter.

I’m busy.  I don’t want to make pancakes.  My heart isn’t in it. 

The pancakes know it, and they mirror that and self-destruct.  I’ve decided–those darn pancakes are simply an early day self-reflection of my attitude.  If I can turn my attitude around and analyze the situation early, my day will go a whole lot better.

Is there too much heat?  Too much stress.  Too much going on.  Maybe I need to turn it down.

Is there not enough heat?  Maybe I’m lackluster.  I’ve blowing things off that need me.  Maybe I need to get on the ball and throw myself into a situation.

Am I rushing in to flip too fast?  I’m too impatient.  Thinking I can hurry things along which just shouldn’t be hurried.  I need to back off, killer.

Am I filling up the time with other stuff, not flipping thus in time, and burning the pancakes?  I don’t seriously know why I think I can shower and make pancakes at the same time.  Why do I?  Why do I think I can take on so many things and then get frustrated when my family seems to implode?

Am I making them too big?  Sometimes, the stairway and mantle Christmas decorations need to be kept in the storage box for the year.  Or the tomatoes need to not be canned.  There are simply times to scale projects down.

Do I need more oil?  Sometimes, a little down-time and pampering are needed.  A little self-TLC (not THC).  If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be caring for others.  And everybody needs me in their problems–you know, right?–ha!– so I’d better take care of myself!

Do I need less oil?  Sometimes I can drown in self-pity and self-entitlement.  Oh, me.  Oh, my.  Why-oh-why?  Probably days I can let that go.  Pancakes don’t do well with too much oil drowning them, and neither do I.

It’s not the pancakes.  It’s me. 

Slow down.  Speed up.  Lube life up a little more or a little less.  Turn up the heat.  Turn down the heat.  Stay focused on the pancakes and life will be golden.

Did you know that making pancakes could be such a challenging and thought-stimulating production?  This stay-at-home gig is better than a paid college course in psychology.  I never do know why colleges charge so much per credit hour.

What activity in your daily life is trying to tell you something?

What mundane activity in your life commonly reflects your inner mood?  Have any?  Care to share?

Terri

Homeschool Survival Tips

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(Image credit:  From the Molly Green site.)

If the locomotive toddler wakes up at 5 in the morning, naps for 45 minutes, and goes to bed at 7 pm, where does that leave you from 7-9 at night?  Flat out on the couch staring at re-runs trying to foggily calculate how many more days of toddler-hood and homeschooling your once strong constitution can handle.  Two.  Two more days.  No.  It’s a weekend, and the hubby is around to help.  Might stretch it out to four days.  Except there’s more cooking and cleaning to do on weekend days.  Mmm.  Drats.  Might make it only one more day.  THEN—keeeer-ack.  CRACK.  There she blows.  Whoa.

How?  How?  How?  How on earth does one survive homeschooling with a toddler?  And if that’s not bad enough (and oh it is), how does one survive homeschooling three age levels with one demanding toddler at Christmas-time with strep throat running through the house and Santa-bashers coming over to play?

I know!  I know!  I’ve got the answer for you!  You don’t!  You don’t survive!  Oh.  Not the answer you were looking for?  Okay.  Then–I know!  I know!  You survive with a headache!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Headache it is!  But you survive.

My survival tips

Make sure you have your expletive friend on call.  Don’t call your mom.  She’ll wonder why you don’t just send them to school.  And don’t call your nice friend.  She’ll tremble at the F-bombs spewing from your mouth.  Call the friend who can drop the bomb as well as listen to them and forget it about it the next day.

Markers.  Markers are great for toddler chewing.  Coloring on paper, skin, and clothes.  And eating.  I’ve also found that markers are great for encouraging the proper finger grip in early writers.  Much more fun than fat, yellow pencils.  Invest in markers.  Company always frantically yells, “She’s got a marker!”  And?  So?  Look at her.  She’s quiet.  Don’t you touch that marker.

Bathroom feng shui.  Keep the light, soothing music playing in the bathroom all day.  Add a bouquet of fresh flowers and change weekly.  Invest in a soft rug that feels nice on your bare feet.  Add a nice scent, you know, aromatherapy.  Your friend sells those oils.  Buy some from her to support her in the “pyramid” scheme.  Enter bathroom and lock the door three times daily.  Titrate up as needed.  Add drink of choice for an even more spa-like atmosphere.  Ask for a little refrigerator for the bathroom for Christmas.  Next year ask for a hot plate for it.  Aaah.  Never leave your little home.  Tell them to go pee somewhere else for Pete’s sake.

Simplify laundry.  All laundry goes in one load.  ONE.  If it can’t tolerate that, it is not tough enough to belong in your house.  Only the strong in your house.  No wussies allowed, and that includes laundry.  (It excludes wussy moms, the whole purpose of this post.)  Then, sort laundry AFTER being washed into baskets for each person.  Don’t fold.  Toss.  Place in suitable place for kids and husbands to dig through to get what they need each day.  If it doesn’t fit in the basket, give it away to the needy.  You’re nice like that.  Buy three cozy house robes and pajama sets for yourself since you never seem to get further than that each day.  There’s a time for jeans, blouses, and boots.  In five years, if you survive the next four days.  And don’t pop out more kids.  (Lock that bathroom door.  Your feng shui room is NOT for THAT.  Did I ever tell you about the time my 6 year-old stood outside the door saying, “I’ll wait.”?)

Read sad stories.  If you put a computer with internet connection in your feng-shui’d bathroom, you can surf the net for sad stories.  There are lots of them out there.  Once you read the stories of kids dying from chicken pox, leukemia, and school shootings, you’ll tear out of that bathroom faster than Olaf out of hell into the waiting arms of your family.  Sad stories pull me up by my chin strap every time.

Elves and Santa.  December is a hard time to homeschool, toddler or no.  Public school or private school or home school.  Period.  December is hard.  Don’t judge yourself or your school by the month of December.  You’ll have the worst marks of the year if you do.  I suggest investing in some simple, festive, and fun ideas which make Jesus’s birthday party a lot more fun:  elves and Santa.  Psychological straight-jackets.  (I really like having my breakfast in bed, my dishes done, my vacuuming done, my toes painted, my hair brushed, my back rubbed…) Then, make sure you don’t have homeschool play dates with kids who don’t believe in Santa.  Spoil-sports.  You are not invited back until after the Easter bunny visits.

Lower your expectations.  School will start at 9:30 am…school will start at 10:30 am…school will be finished before 7 pm.  We will do math, grammar, spelling, history, Spanish, and music…we will do math and grammar and sometimes music and sometimes Spanish…we will do half the math lesson, maybe grammar, and listen to “Feliz Navidad” (counts as Spanish and music) three times a week.  We will NOT read internet blogs or talk with friends who make remarkable, impressive, deflating crafts.  And we definitely will not talk to or read about any childhood prodigies.  This is not the month or time for that.  (My toddler can use markers.  I think that’s pretty good…)

Can you…?  No.  No.  No.  I cannot.  Look at me.  I’m in my bathrobe.  I don’t answer my phone, and I don’t reply to texts.  No.  I cannot.  Even if I think I can, I CANNOT.  Instead of asking me if I can, take to telling me I cannot and should not.  Because I have a toddler.  And they take up 27 hours a day with nothing left over for anyone.  I cannot.

Closing

And there you have it.  Some of my own personal tips for surviving while homeschooling with a toddler in tow.  Life’s a little crazy right now at our house.  And this doesn’t even include the things that happen in life that make life really difficult.  But we all have that.  And life is good.  And people are special.  Some of them.  Some of the time.  Well, they can be, when you’re in the mood, anyhow.  I hope you have a fun month and can step back and laugh and not take life too seriously.  I wish we all could.  Giving and sharing is a gift.  Children are gifts.  It’s a gift to love them and be there for them.  Be strong.  Be brave.  Carry on.

Leave more tips below.  I’ll need them.

Terri

 

 

Cut the Calculus Teacher

Syllable notesHow much like school does school need to be for kids to learn reading, writing, math, and science?  Tell me.  How many square feet do we need?  Are bricks required?  How about double doors?  A gym, even?

No.  No.  Those things aren’t necessities!  Heavens to Murgatroyds!  Desks are.  Can’t learn without a desk, right?  Wrong, silly.  It’s not the desks.  It’s the teachers and the ratios.  When you have one teacher to 27 kids, then real learning can happen.  Forty to one is probably too high.  Twelve to one is not economical.  We can’t afford to have a calculus class with only ten kids.

Oh, wait!  Let’s not forget the computers.  As long as we have computers, we can ditch the books and the calculus teacher, even!  Yes!  Yes!  YES!  Ditch the books!  Ditch the calculus teacher!  EVERY KID NEEDS A TABLET!  They don’t cost much!  No, stupid.  Not a cheap, lined paper tablet.  A mind-sucking tablet.  A teacher-replacing tablet.  Then, they can teach themselves and get college credit for it.  College credit makes you smart!  Guarantees a job, they say, even!

Oh, stop!

If it’s not the desks, gym, books, or teachers, then what is school?  What’s the fuss against unschooling?  Can traditional topics be taught without a curriculum?  Without a teacher?  Today we continue on in exploring unschooling through the kind writings of unschooler Corinne Jacob and the Snagglepuss comments of me (in blue).  Heavens to Murgatroyd!  Let’s get on with it, even!

How Does an Unschooled Child Learn Traditional School Topics?  Can they, even?

Reading: Unschoolers typically learn to read in order to follow their passions – whatever it may be.  (Students with passion?  Is that allowed?  Is that possible, even?) One young unschooler learned to read when he saw his elder brother reading a horror story and he thought it would be cool to spook himself out. Another polished his reading skills as he looked up and read instruction manuals on how to play his favorite video game.  (I’ll bet you could do that on a school tablet, even.) Yet another learned by reading movie subtitles as she and her mother watched movies with the volume turned down while her father slept.

Math: Now this is one subject that most school-going children learn to hate.  (What happened to that passion?  Did it get sent to the principal’s office for PDA?  Did it get squashed out in first grade being forced to tell time and dates over and over–something any reasonable person will learn without formal education, even?)  Unschoolers, on the other hand, learn math as they adapt recipes in the kitchen, calculate player stats and analyse player performance in their favorite sports, play with duel decks, look for bargains, and go shopping.  (Doesn’t this require independence?  I wonder should we foster independence, even?)

Writing: In some cases, unschoolers learn to write out of an interest in writing stories. In other instances, they learn to write in order to communicate with a grandparent through letters (Are they in cursive?  You know cursive isn’t common core.  Exit stage, left!), share information on a topic that interests them or write fan-fiction for their favorite online role-playing game. As for writing form, that is learned not through writing but by having meaningful conversations, reading good material and developing good thinking skills, all of which are fostered in unschooling.  (It’s not fostered by sticking 14 year-old boys and girls in the same classroom?  Smoochie.  Smoochie.)

Spelling: Unschooling parents report various kinds of experiences when it comes to how their children picked up spelling.  (Spelling?  Color?  Colour?  Fiber?  Fibre?  Is it necessary, even?  Do those tablets have spell chek, even?  Gotcha’!)  Some children have a natural flair for spelling. Others seemed to take a long time to develop good spelling skills, but then learned them incredibly quickly when the need arose, such as when they wanted to use big words in their writing or when they wanted to be taken seriously by others in online forums.

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Unschooling Architecture” by Shan Jeniah Burton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

(Be careful with those costly school supplies.  Heavens to Murgatroyd!  You might break them, even!)

As for subjects like science and social studies, kids learn them through visiting museums, zoos, and planetariums, exploring nature, reading relevant books that interest them, and playing educational online games…TO BE CONTINUED

Conclusion

Over the last year, I’ve been noticing that I sometimes get in the way of my daughters’ learning.  I help too much.  I micro-manage too much.  I’m practicing butting out.  Cutting out.  Going to cook dinner or something.  School is about education and learning, not about the process.  When school gets in the way of the potential and motivation to learn, it has failed the individual and the society.  And for the record, a live calculus teacher is worth having if for only one student, even.

My apologies on the Snagglepuss humor.  Or is it humour?  My spelling is a little rusty.  Stale, even!  Next and final unschooling post (Thank you, Corinne) we will briefly discuss unschoolers getting jobs, socially interacting, and stigma.

What do you think of unschooling?  Lazy?  Brilliant?  Ineffective?  The tops?  Scary?

Terri

Claiming Your Identity

We are back from yet another wonderful visit with family and friends at home in Indiana.  My husband and I were childhood sweethearts, so we are lucky in that home is home for both of us.  Today I am catching up on bills, sequestering fruit flies from a piece of fruit gone bad on the counter while we were gone, and killing mildew on clothes left inadvertently in the washing machine for ten days.

I am looking at an invoice to the local YMCA.  It is addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Fites.  Normally, I’d just write the check and send it off.  But today, I crossed through Dr. and Mrs. Fites and wrote The Doctors Fites above it.  Why?  Why does it matter?  Why am I feeling so pesky about this today?  I am typically the last person to care what you call me, as long as you don’t make me cry.

I’ll tell you why.  With the addition of our fourth child to our family, I’ve gotten less and less time.  Which makes me feel less and less like me.  And less and less like a valuable contributor to society.  I KNOW this is not right!  My husband tells me every  day how my raising our daughters makes a difference in our lives, their lives, and to how they fit into society.  And I am very comfortable staying home, cooking, cleaning, learning, and teaching.  Yet, the loss of control that a toddler imparts to a home and life is challenging for some of us.  Toddlers make you forget things.  Toddlers make you lose things.  Toddlers scream.  Toddlers are unpredictable.  Toddlers leave no cabinet, drawer, shelf, or basket unturned.  Toddlers don’t let you cook when you want.  Sleep when you want.  Exercise when you want.

However, it’s not just about the toddler.  Two days ago I decided to spruce up the living area.  My daughters all came in, “Ooh.  Mom.  That looks nice.”  Then, they decided they all had ideas too on where things should go and how they should be placed.  In MY living room.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine.  My head.  My space.  My time.  Mine.

No.  Hard stop.  Wait.  It’s a family of six.  Brain–take a ticket.  You’re sixth in line.

So, today, I am Doctor Fites.  Tomorrow, I will go back to being Terri.  Mom.  Or Mrs.  Even “Hey, You.”

But not today.  (Smile.)

Do you ever feel like life spins around you, and so, sometimes, you stamp your foot and say, “Not today.  Today I get what I earned.”?  Today, I am ____________________.  Insert your word.  Insert what you worked for and don’t want to leave completely behind.  You earned it.

Back to bills.

Five Reasons My Mom Thought I’d Fail At Homeschooling

You’ve got naysayers breathing down your back about homeschooling?  Well, if it makes you feel any better, my mom didn’t think I had what it took to be a homeschooler.  Something along the line of, “We’ll see how long this lasts.”  Thanks for your vote of confidence, mom, but I appreciate your honesty.  It made me determined.  She was right, you know.  I don’t fault the doubts she had one bit.  How was a short-tempered medical doctor who appreciated alone time to herself going to deal with kids all day, every day, much less teach them?

Mama’s Doubts

We are now entering our seventh year of homeschooling.  I have four kids, about the ages of 11, 9, 6, and 1.  My kids, husband, and I are exceptionally satisfied with how homeschooling is going.  So what made my mom raise her eyebrows and predict my kids would be hightailed to school in a heartbeat?

1.  I like my alone time.  There is no doubt.  Homeschooling families are TOGETHER.  All the time.  A homeschool mom (or dad, if that’s who does the bulk of the teaching) is dinged like a bell ALL DAY LONG.  Unless you sacrifice sleep, which I’m not usually willing to do, finding a balance of self and kids is tough.  Thankfully, my husband is often able to take on the four kids by himself and let me have a quiet hour.
2. I naturally lean toward impatient and irritable.  Let’s face it.  Perfectionistic people like things done their way or the highway.  Homeschooling has been a fun way to rein in my expectations and learn to communicate better in a more positive way.  I can definitely see that I get easier to get along with each year.  Maybe it’s just that I get more worn down, but regardless, it’s better.
3. I don’t like clutter.  I once read, years ago before I started homeschooling and was still in the preparation reading stages, that homeschool moms needed to brace themselves for two things:  1)  a messier house  2)  some extra pounds.  That stuck in my mind, preparing me for things to come.  I hate clutter.  Hate it.  But with four kids of different ages, it’s something we deal with every day.
4. I am not a gushy mom.  When people ask if I’ll be homeschooling in high school, I bust out belly laughing.  When I was planning our homeschooling journey, I saw myself teaching the kids algebra and calculus and classical literature.  Organized.  Logical.  Sitting still.  I did not see myself gluing and pasting and singing and nature walking.  Oh, sigh.  I love my kids to pieces.  I’m kind.  And I’m learning patience.  But don’t make me play Ring Around the Rosie or cut out a butterfly or gush over your 50th fairy drawing.  I’m practical, not touchy-feely and lovey.
5. I was a working medical doctor.  This probably blew my mom’s mind the most.  Why did I go to medical school just to stay home with kids?  Well, when I went to medical school and residency, I didn’t have kids, did I?  And I wasn’t sitting around thinking about them either.  Kids came along.  Kids change things.  Yes, it kind of hurt and stung to leave my colleagues behind (or what it actually felt like was that I was getting left behind), and it usually feels like I left my brain behind too.  But 98% of the time, I have no regrets.

You’re Right, Mom…

So, Mom.  You were right to question me and draw me up to prepare for the battle.  Thank you!  I could have easily failed and packed those girls off, not just to school, but to boarding school!  Instead, I met your challenge, and I think we’re doing right well.  How?

1. Be a self-examiner.  Was I too harsh?  Am I too lenient?  Am I preoccupied with perfection?  Am I comparing my kids to others?  Am I spending too much time on the phone?  Each move I make throughout the day, I try to measure its impact on my goals for my children’s education (and their lives in general).  Without self-examination and a desire to improve, I would be a terrible homeschooler.
2. Love to learn and teach.  I’ve always loved to teach.  Sometimes I step back when I’m irritated when teaching my kids and try to pretend that I’m teaching someone else’s child.  It usually (always?) brings out a nicer teacher.
3. Love my kids.  We all love our kids, I know.  So this is kind of a weird one to put.  But man, I love my kids and I often try to envision their futures.  What they’ll need to succeed.  Am I giving them the tools they need?
4. Know when I’ve reached my limit and know to stop and take time to change tactics or educate myself or get help.  Kids can be big stressors in small packages.  It’s hard to understand, and when things are going well or our kids are grown up, we even forget how stressful they really can be.  When I’m feeling squeezed, for whatever reason, I stop and regroup.  Change things up.  Get a babysitter.  Ask my husband to do a little more.  Take a break.  Read on how somebody else tackled the same problem.  It always helps.

Closing

I’m not really giving tips here, and I don’t mean to talk about myself.  But I do want others to know that people will always question our choices.  I’m glad they do, and if I can open a good dialogue with them and not let my feelings get hurt, I can rise up and overcome.  If people are wondering if you should homeschool, ask yourself the same question.  Write down deterrents.  Write down a way to make each deterrent a strength, or at least a non-obstacle.  Write down your strengths and how you’ll manipulate those strengths to succeed in homeschooling.  With diligence and an open heart, you’ll succeed.

~~Terri

Why Don’t You Tell Her?

Shortly after the birth of our baby girl last July, a friend visited.  We got to talking.  As we dove deeper into conversation, my ‘tween (In case you don’t know, that’s a term for pre-teenager.  Too old to be a child.  Too young to be a teenager.) daughter came and stood behind me, listening.  Fidgeting.  Breathing in my ear.  Piping in.  Basically just driving me crazy.  She eventually wondered off as we got boring.

I expressed to my friend how this habit bothered me.  She replied:  Why don’t you tell her?

To which I replied:  I don’t want to hurt her feelings.  I used to listen to my mom a lot, and I really learned a lot from what my mom had to say to her friends.

She then said:  No.  I don’t mean tell her to leave, but why don’t you tell her to sit down?

My friend had such a lovely voice and inflection–very matter-of-fact, very admonishing, very wise–when she said it.  I wish you could hear it.

Huh, I thought.  What a novel idea.  Have her sit down with us if she wants to join us and listen.  Well, I liked that idea.  So now, that’s what we do.  You don’t have to leave, but you do have to sit down.  I know, most people are like, “Scoot.  Split.  Get outa’ here.”  But I look back at some pretty intense conversations my mom let me listen in on regarding marriage and religion.  Some of her ideas made great impressions on me, and I carry what she said deeply in my heart, even though they weren’t to me–and they were probably filtered a little because of me.  Maybe that’s what made them mean more, that they were her important thoughts shared with a good friend and not directed at me at all.

Thought I’d pass this on.  We all parent differently, and this may not fit your style.  But if it might, chew on it a bit.  Let’s leave the world a better place through our children.

Happy Thursday!

~~Terri

Should We Homeschool?

 

spiderMe: If something suddenly changed, you couldn’t work, I had to go back to work for much less than I should theoretically make–and you had to be the one to stay home and homeschool–would you still be committed to it?

Husband: Yes. I think so. (Pause.) But I’d have to work on my patience and short temper.

Me: Yes. Right. But it’s that important to you now?

Husband: Yes.

Me: I thought so. But I wanted to be sure.

My husband and I have had a successful homeschooling experience so far. Based on that experience, we would make a lot of changes and sacrifices to keep homeschooling our kids, even if our world drastically changed now. We can say this in hindsight. I don’t know if we would have had the courage, however, to leap into homeschooling had we not started this way or if we would have had great barriers facing us originally. I’d like to think we would have, but we’re pretty practical people and it just may not have seemed like the right decision at that time.

We have had some barriers, don’t get me wrong. I worked part-time originally. We had a slow reader, and I was secretly worried I wasn’t doing enough. We had a couple of pregnancies and babies. We had a sick family member. We moved half-way across the United States. I had to decide how important working was to my self-identity. There are always barriers, I guess.

But I think what I’m trying to say today to you, is that knowing what I know now, both my husband and I agree that homeschooling provides benefits and opportunities for our family which we would be willing to drastically change our lifestyle for. However, in saying that, I am well aware of the self-journey it would take even for us committed homeschoolers. Having two cars is nice. Having one parent stay home is nice. Having cable TV and wireless internet is nice. Keeping my heat at 72 degrees is nice. Having earned my degrees and worked. These things are nice. The Terri Now knows, for us, it’s all worth giving up. The Terri Then would be scared. Maybe too scared.

What do I like best about our homeschooling family?  I like it when my husband gets home early, the kids are here to see him.  I like it that my kids are forced to get along, and that I am forced to find ways to make that happen.  I like it that we have much, much more time to pursue subjects earlier and incorporate them into school, like music, Spanish, sewing, astronomy, and typing.  I like it that we dictate our schedule; it doesn’t feel so frantic–and with kids of all ages, I know that they’d most likely be in three different schools.  I like teaching my kids how to cook and do laundry.  I like that they don’t eat processed foods. I like it that we’re not sick so often.  I like so many things about it.  My husband obviously does too.  And with a driven, perfectionistic surgeon’s mentality, yeah, he’d have to work on his temper.  It says a lot that he’d be willing to.

Lately, I’ve received some e-mails about homeschooling. I offer what I can from my point of view. But, I am only one. If you homeschool and have any thoughts to offer those contemplating changing their whole lives to do this–basically turning their families’ lives upside-down, what would you say? Would you share and say it in the comments?

Have a good rest of the week.  Effect positive change somewhere, in your own way.

~~Terri

The Things Children Steal

Toothbrush

I am a three months postpartum mother of four.  It is no wonder I have lost a few things.

1.  The sash to my bathrobe.  Due to its perfect length and knotting ability, it can be used for many important things.  Holding on American Girl toilet paper dresses.  Tying together Stuffies and Pillow Pets.  Holding up the corner of blanket tents.

2.  My kombucha.  I swore they didn’t like this green flavor.  That’s why I bought the nasty tasting stuff.

3.  My bed.  I about fell off my allotted sliver last night.

4.  My butt.  Traded in butt-bump for mummy-tummy.  But did you know that DHA is actually stored in a pregnant and lactating woman’s thigh and butt fat?  All that DHA comes right off the butt and goes right to baby’s brain!  So our sagging buttocks are the glory of our children’s cerebral capacities.

5.  My scissors.  I’ve only got about 6 pairs.  Six lost pairs.  This isn’t even including the three, pink-handled children’s craft scissors lost in the depths of clutter.  (They stole my clean house too.)

6.  My time.  Does getting my upper lip waxed at a salon have to count as my free-time?

7.  My mind.  I wish all that DHA would go to MY brain!

8.  My lip gloss.  Although I suspect my girls, sometimes I think I see a pink shimmer on my husband’s lips.

9.  My temper.  I’ve lost it so much I’m down to whisper-yelling.

10.  My bathroom.

11.  My bath.  Tip-toe.  Tip-toe.  Super quiet.  Sneak off.   Fill tub with bath salts and lavender.  Get ready for “Aaaah.  Relaxation.”  Pitter-patter.  Pitter-patter.  “I heard you, Mommy.  Can I take a bath too?”

12.  My hand mirror to look at the back of my hair.

13.  My toothbrush.  This was the last straw.  The one that broke me down.  The one that made me remember the backwash floating in my mom’s Diet Pepsi from my stolen drinks.  The one that made me remember my Dad bellowing through the house looking for his nail clippers tucked on my bedroom vanity.  The iron I took to college from mom’s washroom without a backwards thought. . . Back to the breaking straw.  So, I had bought this cool, spinning toothbrush to cut down on plaque by 90% and stop any receding gum lines.  I loved it.  All my kids have had them in the past, but I finally bought one for me. . .  One day, I knocked on my closed bathroom door.  I heard some rustling.  I walked on into my bathroom.  And there was one of my darlings sheepishly trying out my new toothbrush.  “No worries,” I said.  “Finish up.  It’s a cool toothbrush, isn’t it?”

I could go on and on.  Kids are pretty special.  Love them.  Cherish them.  Call yourself to higher living (but come downstairs for supper occasionally).  Call them to higher living (but the top of the refrigerator is not safe).  Work on your marriage.  Keep it sound.

With our fourth child, I feel like my quality time with my husband has plummeted.  By the end of the day, I just want to slip away for some uninterrupted, quiet time.  I had forgotten how frazzling managing the house was with a baby in tow.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I looked at my husband and said, “No matter what, this child is here because of us.  No matter what, we must work to keep our marriage and love for each other strong.  We need to keep that no matter what.”  And we have.  With all that becomes lost in parenting, I refuse to lose the wonderful relationship with my husband.  May you, too, fight to always keep that special relationship growing.

Kids are great, but they are challenging!  Thanks for reading, and I look forward to trying to get back to blogging here more.  We recently had a great vacation to Indiana to spend time with friends and family.  Then I had to catch up on post-vacation laundry–plus some (and then some more) continuing medical education requirements I am happy to report that I completed.

Hang on for the ride, parents.  We can do this.

Terri

 

Photo credit:  By Jonas Bergsten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Stress Is Not Just A Feeling. It’s A Biochemical Response.

“It’s just stress.”

Great_Fire_LondonI want to take a moment to clarify something.

The body’s biochemistry doesn’t know the difference between the stress and frustration of a printer jam that you can’t fix and the stress and frustration of your house burning down.  It rolls out the same chemical response to both situations.  Cortisol.  Epinephrine.  Norepinephrine.  And all the dozens of effects those are made to exert in the body.

The body doesn’t know the difference.  It just doesn’t.  For all it knows, it could be gearing up for a huge, bloody battle or a long, strenuous trek across the continent.  The body knows that these situations may not allow you to eat for quite a while.  It will shut down fat-burning pathways.  Any hopes you had about losing weight in the midst of chaos are thrown out the window.

Only your thinking brain knows the difference.  The only hope you have of controlling the body’s biochemical stress response which can wreak havoc on the heart, blood vessels, waist line, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, or ability to fight off colds is the ability to you have to quell your mind and its reaction to external forces.  Or to remove impeding obstacles.

So in our day-to-day lives, if we allow the little things to bother us and tax us, the body responds the exact same way.  Screaming baby while you’re trying to cook supper.  Late for work and hitting every red light.  Laundry piling up higher and higher along with the bills.  Preacher went over his time limit at church.  Too many meetings and get-togethers every night of the week.  You just get puffier, fatter, and more drained at every stressful encounter.

Do what it takes to either change your situation or change your mind in response to the situation.  It’s not just stress.  It’s health. 

Do what it takes.  Your body will thank you because it was tired of fighting off alien invaders to save your family.  Your family will thank you too.  They miss the real you.

~~Terri

Image:  Great Fire London 1666 from Wikimedia Commons.  Link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Fire_London.jpg