Feb 102017
 

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date night nice

One of my anxieties with moving, a fear of mine actually, was knowing friends and support systems are not a given and often take a long time to form.

We had lived in 3 different communities before landing in Small Town.  In none of those first 3 communities did we form what felt were solid friendships; we were in the community but not a part of the community.  Perhaps if we had stayed longer, those budding friendships would have solidified into something more.

Once we moved to Small Town, it took over a year to solidify a friendship with my neighbor, even longer to get to the point of canning together or starting the roadside stand.  This friendship ended up growing so much, we now refer to them as “aunt” and “uncle”.  It took my kids several more years before they asked, “how exactly are we related to Aunt and Uncle?”  :)  Blood does not always make a family.

It took 4 years, after joining the rural community, before I joined the local MOPS group and began to make a few close friends, which also resulted in participating in my first Farm Market Swap.

Farm Market Swap collage

During the years of having small kids, my husband and I were not always blessed with the ability to take time for ourselves, to get away as a couple for a few hours a week, or even once a month. At times it was possible, but at others it seemed like we came back to a situation that was harder than if we had just stayed home. (The idea of a weekend away was out of our realm of reality at that point.)

Often, we had to settle for coffee and a movie at home, hoping to not wake up the kids and not to fall asleep before the end of the movie.  Those first months were filled with kids scared to go to sleep, scared that you would not be there when they woke up, scared of … night time was not a good time, which was a shame as the days were filled with hyper-vigilant, hyperactive, inquisitive, take-life-by-the-horns, I-know-best kids.

As they grew a bit older, things calmed down some, but the anxiety is always there in the background.  Now we were dealing with official  diagnoses of ADHD, and unofficial sensory and trauma related issues, as well as lesser known issues that come with ADHD beyond the attention and hyperactivity issues. (here,too, but there is a bit of language.) (This was a great read for me recently, helping to connect some of the dots to other issues I otherwise could not find the cause of.)

The mere idea of moving brought me anxiety.  Not only was I going to have to meet a lot of new people, but my kids were going to be reminded (subconsciously) of times in their early lives, when things were not consistent, when there was a lot of loss, when they had no control.  I was anxious about how they would react. However, a move was happening and we would have to deal with the outcome.

My husband was excited to find out the local YMCA had a monthly Kid’s Night Out, where parents could drop their kids off for a few hours of games, fun, and pizza.  I was less than excited. Way less. The mere idea made my stomach start to knot up. My husband could not understand why, though he found out after the first night we tried.

See, the time to drop them off, it began about an hour before the kid’s bedtime and lasted for up to 3 hours.  Night time is the worst time of day for our kids.  Their ADHD behaviors, their sensory/trauma issues, and developmental issues have been a struggle all day, making their brains tired.  Their bodies, however, act as if they are full of energy.

Jack gets so overloaded with things (noise, activity, expected social behaviors) that his brain goes too fast for his body.  He then runs and hides in a quiet place, or turns in circles (vestibular sensory seeking), or hits, or … he does not handle it well, especially when tired … an hour before bedtime. (Yes, our kids go to bed early, but they also sleep 11-12 hours still.)

We tried it once, was well as a three day Holiday Day Camp where I had to clarify a few things with the director on the second day or risk one of my kids being kicked out, before agreeing this was not working for us.  We mentally set ourselves up for a year+ of home date nights and switching off if one of us needed to be gone in the evenings.

Been there, done that, we have the cappuccino mix at home.

(The picture below shows a ‘date lunch’ where we took the kids with us.  They sat at the corner side of the table watching a movie, while we were on the other side having cake and coffee; they got some goodies too.  They were not allowed to talk with us until the movie was over. Sometimes, you do what you need to do.)

cake children coffee shop date afternoon line

Then … then, we continued to visit a particular new church.  George loved the kids’ activities and new people.  Jack, well, it was hit or miss at first.

Being a new place, we did not share the unique aspects of our family.  For starters, we did not know these people well.  Secondly, not everyone reacts the same way when I share things.  Sometimes they judge our kids (or us) before taking the opportunity to get to know us.  Thirdly, I was hoping our kids would handle the change calmly at first.

In the past, unfortunately, it has often been the case that in these situations, that the adults in charge say, “Sorry.  If your child is not willing to act in these socially acceptable, calm ways, s/he can not be here.  You will need to come with them or keep them with you.  It is too distracting and hard for us.” I have missed quite a bit of church these past few years due to kids not being able to handle/exhibit the expected behaviors.

Much to my surprise that is not what happened at this church.  After one obviously trying Sunday morning for the kids’ teacher, I determined to go early the next week and talk to the preacher’s wife.  She was one of the few I had met whom I felt would hear me out and could then direct me with whom I should talk.

Keeping things to ourselves was obviously not working.

This talk turned out so much better than I could ever have imagined.  As we were talking, she stopped me and said, “I think you should tell all of this ____.”  The person she said?  The only other lady in the church I knew, the one who had told me the week before that their household is never quiet because she and her husband were such extroverted people.  That comment alone made me want to become her friend immediately.

These ladies and I missed all the beginning of church that week as I shared everything – how we became a family, struggles of ADHD, some other learning/developmental struggles they may face.  I also stated the fact that if my kids were not adjusting well to the kids’ classes, they were welcome to sit with us.

What I got was – “Well we were just discussing this in our morning meeting and how to handle it … do you think having an older teen with them would help?  … I will let the teacher know not to call on them to read out loud the harder passages … we could move them to a younger class, but that might cause more issues (and explained why) … how about we try these out and see how it goes?”  They offered a few other options as well.  I came away feeling more encouraged than defeated.  It was an unexpected change for one.

A few weeks later, I got an email from the teacher asking, “How can I help him/them while in class?  What can I do to not make things worse?”  WHAT?!?!  Not only was this person still willing to have them/him in class, but also asking what to do to make things easier for my child!

I cried.

Then I put together a response, explaining a few struggles that were probably appearing, how they might manifest themselves, and list of basic things that seem to help me in that situation.

valentines cupcake decorating children collage

Last week, my husband had mentioned the youth of this church were hosting a Kid’s Night Out this coming weekend, so the parents could have a night to themselves (for Valentines Day).  If you had said this a month ago, I would have dismissed it.  By now, however, I told him I thought the kids would do well and we should take advantage of it.

Why?

  • The kids knew the adults.
  • One of the teens has watched the kids during mid-week gatherings and did fabulous (actually will try her as a babysitter this month).
  • The setting was familiar.
  • The group was small.

Though there might be a bounce house (shhh) and other activities, I doubt it will be as loud or chaotic as the ‘Y’ was. (Please do not think we do not like the local ‘Y’; we are actually going there weekly for a kids exercise class and it is going fabulously.  Of course, it is a small group and does not last for 3 hours.)

This year, for one of the few times in our marriage, my husband and I will get a chance to “celebrate Valentine’s Day”.  Though it is more like – “having a date near Valentine’s Day” as we don’t really celebrate this day any different than other date nights.  The first year of our marriage we did our taxes and didn’t even realize the date until we had to sign and date our forms. Yup, we are such romantics.

If your significant other or someone important in your life is as oblivious to the day as my husband and I are, you are in luck.  Bring them some coffee (bought with a gift card?) and a cookie and they will thank you for your spontaneous gift.

If they are not so oblivious, you need to get a move on with something beyond a card signed with your name.  How about a gift card to their favorite store?  Or one to use to take them out for a special evening, while earning points back?

Do your Valentine’s Day shopping through Swagbucks and get cash back for all your purchases!

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If you don’t know about Swagbucks, it’s a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, searching the web, and taking surveys! You redeem your SB for gift cards or PayPal cash.

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me and spend at least $25 in shop, you’ll get a 200 SB bonus!

May 032016
 

This was first posted back in December 2015.

When I came across this infographic I almost passed by without reading it.  Once I started, though, I could not stop.  It brought back so many memories that I had not thought about in a long time.  My husband and I have been married for 10+ years now.  Some of the things I do not remember any more, and others I remember the moment rather than the timing.  There were things that did not go perfect, but we still got married.  Isn’t that the point of the day?  Well, that and celebrating with friends and family.

For those of you who might be a bit curious:

  • No tropical destination for our honeymoon.  We did stay at a B&B in a town on the ocean – but it was so cold you had to wear a coat, hat and gloves to enjoy it.  We did not let those little details get into our way, taking several trips down to the beach and elsewhere.
  • Our engagement was shorter than average, as long as it was because of other timing issues, but still a lot longer than I would have liked.  I am now under the opinion that short engagements, 2-3 months, is the way to go.  It gets harder as you go.  You are more than dating but not husband and wife yet.
  • We had a lot of family and friends involvement – the musicians were my best friends from high school, the minister is married to a cousin of mine, the ‘caterers’ were old friends of my parents from their high school years (they were invited to the wedding to begin with), and the wedding video was done by a good friend and former roommate of mine.
  • As an added random fact, our actual ceremony took maybe 15 minutes.  My husband’s goal was to get married; he would have liked it to be even shorter. I made him suffer though a few things before saying “I do.”

So, for a little deviation from your holiday routine …

Wedding Paper Divas Road to Bliss Inforgraphic

Dec 172015
 

When I came across this infographic I almost passed by without reading it.  Once I started, though, I could not stop.  It brought back so many memories that I had not thought about in a long time.  My husband and I have been married for 10+ years now.  Some of the things I do not remember any more, and others I remember the moment rather than the timing.  There were things that did not go perfect, but we still got married.  Isn’t that the point of the day?  Well, that and celebrating with friends and family.

For those of you who might be a bit curious:

  • No tropical destination for our honeymoon.  We did stay at a B&B in a town on the ocean – but it was so cold you had to wear a coat, hat and gloves to enjoy it.  We did not let those little details get into our way, taking several trips down to the beach and elsewhere.
  • Our engagement was shorter than average, as long as it was because of other timing issues, but still a lot longer than I would have liked.  I am now under the opinion that short engagements, 2-3 months, is the way to go.  It gets harder as you go.  You are more than dating but not husband and wife yet.
  • We had a lot of family and friends involvement – the musicians were my best friends from high school, the minister is married to a cousin of mine, the ‘caterers’ were old friends of my parents from their high school years (they were invited to the wedding to begin with), and the wedding video was done by a good friend and former roommate of mine.
  • As an added random fact, our actual ceremony took maybe 15 minutes.  My husband’s goal was to get married; he would have liked it to be even shorter. I made him suffer though a few things before saying, “I do”.

So, for a little deviation from your holiday routine …

Wedding Paper Divas Road to Bliss Inforgraphic

Dec 072014
 

The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce

“50% of all marriages fail.”

“Even if you attend church, you are just as likely to divorce compared to those who don’t.”

Encouraging, right?

I have heard these ‘facts’. Even discussed them with my husband at times. Then I started looking around and began to wonder, “Where are all these divorced couples?” Out of all my friends who are married, none have gotten divorced. “Is it that we are all just lucky and the divorced couples are all in a different group of friends?”

When I was given the opportunity to read The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce by Shaunti Feidhahn, (with Tally Whitehead) I was excited to find out what the state of marriages really may be. Is it true we only have a 50/50 chance to make it?

What began as a simple question “Where did this number come from?”, in order to cite it correctly in a newspaper column, became a multi-year research project to find the answer.  Over an 8 year period, Shaunti and Tally looked into these commonly quoted statistics, looking for the sources and data behind the numbers.  What they found was surprising – there was no data supporting the oft repeated “50% of marriages fail”!  Not only that, but going to church really does help your marriage, as do several other factors.

The other fact pointed out in the book, and one I never really thought of, is that the term “second marriages” can also included those who have remarried due to a spouse dying.  Yet, some reports count those the same as someone having divorced first in order to remarry.  The question, “Are you on your first marriage or second?”, then becomes a question that will only answer what it asks, which was not whether the person was divorced.  As with all questions, it can not answer more than is asked and you run the risk of making assumptions  by trying to use it for another purpose.

While reading The Good News About Marriage, I would come across things I wanted to share with my husband.  His response usually was, “What is the standard deviation?” Finally I clarified with him that the book was not a book or statistics, but the results of looking at many various studies.  “If you want to know the standard deviations I am more than happy to copy down the many cited sources and you can go read them for yourself.”  His point is that sometimes terms like, “more likely”, “lower probability”, “on the rise”, etc. do not really tell you to what extent things are happening.  They could be a difference of 1% or 30%.  Even then, 1% of 5 people is not the same as 1% of 1000,000 people.

Shaunti also found the same thing to be true and touched on it several times.  Newspaper and article headings are written to catch your attention, not to be statistically accurate representations of the background data.

In the end I came out reassured about  marriage, that the divorce rate was closer to 20-something percent, not 50%, and that going to church and having an active spiritual life does have an affect on your marriage.  Even knowing that couples who are unhappy now are usually happier 5 years down the road is encouraging.  “This too shall pass” at work again.

So, be encouraged.  When looking at marriage, it is not a 50/50 risk and there are things you can do to lower the risk of divorce in your marriage.

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I was given a copy of this book for review.

Sep 052014
 

Short story in my own translation:

Eve offered Adam fruit from the forbidden tree.  When God came into the garden looking for them, He found them hiding.  He asked Adam why he was hiding.

The Woman you gave me, she gave me fruit of the tree you told us not to eat from, and I ate it.” (emphasis added by me)

Story over.  Well sort of.  I have always wondered why Adam did not man up and tell his wife “No.”  Really, it is an easy word and he was the man.

Fast forward to today.  Actually a few days ago.  My husband and I were able to take a long weekend away, thanks to Grandparents willing to watch George and Jack.

roller coaster date

 

One of the activities was to visit a theme park.  This is something my husband loves.  I have found over the years that my love of them has waned.  Though I still like roller coasters, I no longer desire to seek them out and ride them repeatedly.  However, I love my husband, so off we went for a day of thrills and screaming and adrenaline rushes.

Husband: “We have done all the roller coasters that I have wanted to do.  What do you want to do next?”

Looking at the map I figured this was the chance to go back and do them all again, perhaps even picking up a few we missed.  “Lets go backwards through the park and do them all once more before we go.  Let’s do this one.”  I said as I pointed to a small ride we missed on the way.  This is one we had seen while higher up on another roller coaster and which looked daunting.  Even from a distance.  Even though it was not complicated.  Even though it was ‘small’.

Husband: “Are you sure you want to ride it?”

“Yes.”

“Are you positive?”

“Yes.”

“Once I reserve out place for the line, there is no backing out.  This is you last chance.”

“Yes.  We are here.  Let’s do it.”

You would think that his reluctance to ride this ride would have told me that maybe this was not such a good idea.  You would think, so, now wouldn’t you.  Alas, it didn’t.  And off we went.

The closer we got, the more I began to doubt my decision.

Then we were standing in line seeing it all up close.

Me: “Why did you let me do this?”

Husband: “I gave you a chance to back out.  You said you wanted to.”

Me: “But why did you agree?  You should have been firmer.”

Husband: “Didn’t I ask you repeatedly?  You had every opportunity to change you mind.  You said you wanted to ride it.”

Me: “But you are the man.  You are the husband.  You should have put your foot down, realizing I am the weaker sex and did not fully understand what I was committing to.”

Husband: “It will be okay.  No one has died on it … today.”  (To clarify, I don’t think anyone has died on this ride.  He was just teasing.)

Me: “Yes, Adam.”

There is nothing new under the sun.  (Ecclesiastics 1:9)

He did not buy the reasoning and we road the ride.  Since I was locked into doing this, I decided I best use some strategy to make it through.  After all, they shoot you out of the gate at 65 mph; no build up here.  My plan involved:

  • counting how many time it went each way … so I would know when the end was coming, in a positive way.
  • positioning us at the back of the ride.  The rows in front went up much higher on the one side, twisting as they did so.  If there is anything worse than going down a great distance backwards, it is going down a great distance backwards while twisting.
  • screaming.
  • oh, and saying “No, no, no, no” quietly and quickly before screaming when we would begin the steep drop when we were facing forward.

My plan worked.  I kept my eyes open (turns out my husband rode the ride with his closed, silly man) and knew when various ‘obstacles’ were coming.  I was prepared.  I knew how I was going to handle them.

Once off the ride I made the comment, “That was not nearly as bad as it looked.  I don’t want to go on it again, but it did look worse than it was.  Of course, we weren’t sitting in front.  No sure I would have said the same thing if we were.”

While looking back on this day and talking about it on the way to the hotel, we both agreed that while we like roller coasters and used to love them, perhaps that time has passed for us.  This will most likely be the last time we do it till George and Jack are old enough to enjoy it themselves.

The next day was spent at the coffee shop reading a book.  :)

Feb 232014
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Breakfasts:

  1. Shakes
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Pancakes (freezer)
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, toast, fruit

 

Lunch:

  1. Eat Out
  2. Pork Chops with Caribbean Rub and Mango Salsa, jasmine rice
  3. Salad
  4. Pizza
  5. Spaghetti with meat sauce
  6. Pork with Balsamic Vinegar, rice, beets
  7. Dad’s Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, beets, steamed carrots

3-packet roast beets green beans

 

Who says leftovers have to be boring and unappealing?

Supper:

  1. Leftovers
  2. Breakfast for supper (grits, eggs, biscotti, hot cocoa)
  3. Falafel
  4. Chicken Enchilada
  5. Tomato soup, corn meal muffins
  6. PB&J sandwiches, chips, fruit – Date Night!
  7. Salad

Nutella and banana sandwich

Last week I finally bought meat at the store for the first time in over a month.  Well, apart from the random pound of this or that to fill in where needed.  Yeah, my totals reflected it too, as I would buy the “Reduced for Quick Sale” or “Family Pack” meats since the per pound price was cheaper, though per package it was more expensive.

My husband made a comment that brought a smile to my face and a teasing response to my tongue:

“Fresh ground beef in our house?!  I didn’t know that was allowed!” he said.

“It’s not.  Just give me a few minutes…” i.e. to freeze/cook it.

A few weeks ago when I bought cappuccino mix, here was part of the discussion following my husband finding out:

“So you finally bought more.  What took you so long?!”

“I love you … but only $3 worth, not $6 worth. $6 was asking too much,” said with a smile and twinkle in my eye.  Followed quickly by a kiss.

He has told me that when we first started dating, the fact that I teased back surprised him and is part of what he liked about me.  I didn’t realize until then that no other female had ever given back what they got from him. It had actually caught him off guard.  I blame my mother 100% for this.  She was a bad, bad example and I love her so much for it.

I don’t tease my husband as much now as I used to, I blame it on brain cells being used to keep track of little people.  Every so often, though, enough of those brain cells get together to formulate a response coherent enough to actually make sense.  Life is too short to take everything so seriously.

organized pantry shelves 5

This past week I joined a friend on a shopping trip to some country stores.  I hadn’t planned on going, but took the opportunity to spend time and get to know this new friend better.  While browsing through the store I saw something that was completely not on my list – lemon flavored meringues.  These are good, though not necessarily a favorite, must-have-when-I see-them, will-eat-the-whole-box-in-one-sitting good.  For my husband, though, they are a favorite, must-have-when-I-see-them, will-eat-the-whole-box-in-one-sitting good. So I bought them.

For $.99 I made my husband’s day when he got home from work.  This is why we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day or birthdays or even much at Christmas.  We would rather take the time to do little things throughout the year on non-holiday days to show that we’re thinking of each other.  Being that neither of us are gift givers and both like saving money, he is more than happy with a $.99 box of meringues that he can sit and share with the kids, knowing that his wife knows him all too well to have passed these by.  They are the kind of splurges he makes when he goes with me that throws my shopping trips off.  At least I got them for less than half what he normally spends on them. My apologies for no photo to go with this story.  They were all eaten before I was able to take a picture. 😉

What have you done this week to show someone you care?  Did it involve food?

Linked up with OrgJunkie and This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s February’s Monthly Meal Plan.

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