Sharing Toothbrushes

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I have suspected for about a week now that my husband and I are using the same toothbrush. We share a bed, a car, children, and at times we share the same food and drink. But, while I am only slightly bothered by it, I have a feeling my husband would be horrified. I think I’ll keep it to myself and try to quietly find a way to differentiate the toothbrushes. I think I’ll also keep to myself that my son likes to flip the toothbrushes upside down, because no matter how well and how often I clean the cup, the water at the bottom always seems to reek. That’s worse than sharing toothbrushes any day.

Speaking of children, my 4 year old is finally adjusting to being a big brother… finally. He had his sister laughing so hard last night that when it was time for bed, she started tantruming. Usually, she settles right into my arms. My son is also reading very well and enjoys doing math everyday. Right now, he’s putting together a 300 piece puzzle by pulling the pieces out of the box one at a time. He’s only put it together once before, and he’s memorized each piece so he knows what to look for as he’s digging through the box. He is so much like his daddy, with his humor, his intelligence, and his quick wit.

My dear 14 month old prefers to eat paper over food, and is more stubborn than my firstborn… by far. She can thrown a tantrum to bring down the house and will refuse to eat for days before she’ll go into a full day of eating like a grown man. She knows many signs but refuses to use them. However, she is the best snuggler in the whole world, and her laugh fills my heart with joy.

Right now, my life consists of taking care of these two characters at home most of the day, while answering phone calls for my husband’s business. I am over halfway through my pregnancy, and have started waking up for snacks in the middle of the night. We have a very small apartment and have been busy rearranging furniture to make room for the new baby, and I think we’ve finally started to get used to the idea of having three children.

I am also busy going through a discipleship book with someone I reached out to for something trivial, and she sensed I needed more. Through the unconditional love of the Lord, my husband, my son, my daughter, and my trusted friend, I feel I am moving forward. I will probably have PTSD for my entire life, and will probably fight with many of its symptoms for life, but I have a new outlook most days. My attacks do not last as long, and although it seems they are just as debilitating, I only completely freeze or lose time every couple of weeks. I’m able to endure the overwhelming feelings without dissociating most times, very much because I am able to cry when I need to. My feelings have been manifesting themselves through anger, and I am working as hard as I can to control it.

I have been on a major blogging hiatus, but I am beginning to feel creative and well again. I pray each and every one of you are doing well and I look forward to starting to read your blogs again regularly.

Oh yeah, he’s 4

My son has been doing a phenomenal job of initiating learning time, and depending on the day, he has a nice balance of math, writing, and reading. I’m trying to slowly prepare for the fall when we will start organized preschool at home. I need to figure out how to fit in sports, playdates, and learning time into his already full schedule of playing cars and trains, doing puzzles, and dancing to music.

After a few months of watching him flourish with math and learning to read with no expectations, I made my first mistake… I placed an expectation. He sensed the expectation from a mile away and immediately revolted. I made a chart of which subjects were most important, along with my goal for the fall for amount of time spent on each subject. I have been keeping documents of what I’ve been doing with him since he was 9 months old, but I’ve never made a goal with a timeframe!

Here is where we are right now:

One or two subjects per day of reading, writing, or math, lasting a total of about 45 minutes to an hour. I let him choose.

Here is a prototype of where I’d like to be by fall. I created an Excel sheet and froze the first three columns, so I can track actual time spent on each subject with the rest of the columns.

School excel

Our 25 minutes of school this morning mostly consisted of him throwing a tantrum and me holding him while he cried. So often he loves to learn and he pushes me to do school on days that I am completely disinterested. Some days, he sits and reads book after book to me while I clean. Other days, like today, I am reminded that he is only four. He is ahead on all subjects and when he does not want to have traditional learning time, maybe he just needs a day to be four.

Onward towards riding bikes and building Thomas tracks!

Dear Family: I Am Listening…

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My goal has been to really, really listen to my family’s words and actions. That is what I posted about this morning. Here is what I have been hearing.

My family is jealous of my phone

My family needs a clean home

My family needs me to smile and dance

My family needs me to provide healthy meals and snacks

My family needs my undivided attention

Yesterday, I officially decided to homeschool my children. Yes, I know I am already teaching my son to read and am currently researching preschool science curricula for the fall. However, I have been on the fence due to my low opinions of my abilities (despite my early childhood education training) and my exhaustion level. But, I am quickly reaching my limit with worried parents bringing their children into therapy because they are falling behind in school. Sometimes it is bullying, and usually they have ADHD. These children are starved for healthy attention, to the point where they start destroying my office when I am conversing with a parent! They need me to get on the floor with them and play. They need undivided attention.

They do not need therapy. They need healthy attention. They need their teachers to sit with them and individualize their work so they can learn the material on their level. They need their parents to read to them and play with them (even if it means falling asleep on floor while the children drive cars over the parents’ backs), no matter the parents’ level of exhaustion. They need their parents to shut the television off and take away the iPads and video games. I am not judging their parenting, because the Lord knows I fall short. I yell at my son, I spank (yes, I do spank, and may write a blog at some point regarding using this method of discipline correctly and not harmfully) at times when a discussion and a hug is more appropriate, I fight with my husband in front of my kids, and I sit my son in front of the TV when I am exhausted (though he is the one who asks me to shut it off before the movie is over, because he’s bored and wants to play).

I have decided to delete my email off of my phone for now, except for when I am nursing. When I did this today, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders because I did not feel chained to my phone. I listened to my husband’s frustrations with me for replying to a text instead of focusing on whatever sports clip he was trying to show me, and I apologized for hurting his feelings. I let my son help me vacuum. I cleaned my kitchen- I mean really cleaned it, because my daughter’s new-found mobility seems to have her finding everything she cannot have and shoving it into her mouth before I can reach her. I opened my windows and breathed the fresh air. I danced with my husband and children. I engaged in silly banter with my husband. I noticed my husband’s change in mood when I began laughing with him. I decided to run regularly, both with friends and on my own.

I do not have it all together by any means. I have just decided that I need to stop complaining about how much I am struggling and I need to just do things differently. That means making a better choice in the moment. Do I fall apart in despair? Or do I realize that my husband’s comment was not trying to hurt me? Do I hide from my family? Or do I embrace them?

Though I am standing bold today, that does not mean I’ll be standing bold tomorrow. But it means that I recognize my ability to make choices. It means I am finally listening to my family.

Photo credit: http://www.iphixni.com/apple.html

One More Day

In light of my kitchen looking like this, my oatmeal has broccoli bits in it from the measuring cup I used last night.

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My husband had to dig through these clean clothes to find his work clothes:

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I was going to take a photo of the bathroom but considering my three year old is standing to pee, I don’t think you want to see the damage in there! I would also reveal the pile of dirty diapers next to the changing pad (the diaper pail is iced over outside), but I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of me or how I run my home (I also don’t want Child Protective Services showing up at my front door!).

I began crying when the alarm woke me to wake my husband this morning (because if he’s in charge of the alarm, it’ll end up waking the whole house) because I had just gotten the baby back to sleep after a long night. “I can’t do this anymore!” I cried. “I need sleep to function!” He replied, “Well, you can do it one more day.” He is right. If I break down the daunting tasks ahead of me, I can handle one more day. However, if I imagine how my exhaustion is going to end up being the demise of my children’s futures, I will likely fall apart and get nothing done today.

One of my greatest desires is to be one of *those* wives. The kind who homeschools her children flawlessly, whose home is spotless, dinner is served promptly at 6pm, children are bathed nightly and put into bed on time. However, the reality is that sometimes at 9:30pm, my son has perched himself several feet off the ground naked and has no plans of coming down; my five month old is crying because she rolled herself over while sleeping and promptly woke herself up; dinner (if it was even served at all, many times it’s a PB&J for my son) is out on the stove ready to be stored in the fridge; the smoke detector is going off because I left a burner on; my phone is ringing; and I am tripping over Hot Wheels, Leog’s, or Thomas train tracks to complete just *one* of these tasks. Forget time to use the bathroom or blow my nose.

So, at the wise words of my husband, I can do one more day. One task at a time. Chances are, my house will still be a disaster at the end of the day, but if I’ve continued to steadily work and have not just given up and passed out in bed at 3pm, I will be satisfied. My children are always fed, *fairly* clean, and *mostly* happy. Right now, in the midst of this exhausting postpartum period, those things seem to be the most important, and it appears that I can gauge my success by them.

Next on my agenda: put baby down for nap and tackle those dishes!!

I guess I am officially a homeschool mom

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After much deliberation and slight marital conflict, I have agreed to homeschool my son for preschool. Apparently, my husband has more confidence in my teaching ability than I do. I began by reading the pertinent portions of THE WELL TRAINED MIND. They suggest the single most important part of preschool is getting your children to “read and read very well.” This is my goal for right now and in the fall, I will have a curriculum for him that includes science experiments.

I have had set learning time for him since he was nine months old (included such things as rolling a ball and learning to climb steps), and by the time he was 18 months old, he had memorized the Greek alphabet. I cannot brag here because although I taught it to him, he knew it better than I ever did! These children just learn what we pour into them. I also knew he was ready to start writing over the summer because one morning I got out of the shower and he had written his name on the white board. We had never practiced writing letters before that!

Right now, learning time in our home looks like this. I don’t do all of these every day, I gauge his attention span and accommodate appropriately. He can usually do about 30 minutes of learning time everyday.

-Either one page of phonics, a BOB Book, or a pre-reader with the pictures in place of the words

-One time over previously memorized site words, and introduction of a new site word

-Math with Lego’s. I write an equation and he uses the Lego’s to figure it out. He understands the +, -, and = signs

-Practicing writing simple letters correctly and holding the pencil correctly

-Reading a Bible passage or memorizing a scripture

I also do “learning time” with my four month old. This includes full body massages while we have deep mommy/daughter conversation, tummy time with toys to her left and right so she must move to get there, and back time with toys to her left so she must roll onto her side to reach them. By far, her favorite portion of learning time is being rewarded with milk and snuggles upon getting fussy.