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Friday, September 21, 2012

Expectations

I am realizing, 5 kids into this parenting thing, that expectations can be the bane of my existence.  They can lead to frustration, guilt, anger, aggravation and a break-down in the peace of my home.  Mostly I am talking about expectations for myself, my days, my time, my activities, my atmosphere.  Do you get it?  These all have to do with ME.  I also have expectations for my kids - some very good ones.  Like, I expect my children to obey me.  To not lie to me.  To respect me.  To not be too messy (there is a broad range here).  I expect them to be responsible.  So, sometimes I expect a lot of me and a lot of my kids.  Expectations - both good and bad, can be the ruin of my day.  And lately I've taken to saying to myself, 'You just can't ruin my day!'  A quote from someone I never met - but a good one nonetheless.  (Paul Westlund).

For example:  I expect I will have time to pick up the house, clean the kitchen, homeschool Priscilla adequately and tuck my kids in bed.  And suddenly BOOM Hannah is sick and requires full attention for days on end.  I expect the sickness to last a day or two, or three at most.  BOOM, it lasts 7 going on 8 days.  I expect I will be able to arrange school pick-ups, carpools and naptimes for everyone in a suitable manner.  BOOM - those who usually help me can't and I'm left needing to be 3 places at one time.
 Stressful,
                   anxiety-causing,
                                  frustration building,
                                                                ME.

And all to do with MY expectations.  I don't want to knock them entirely - because we should expect certain things of ourselves and others.  However, what I find is that when I rely on my expectations being fulfilled, I hit a brick wall of sheer annoyance.  My peace is disturbed.  Everyone better get out of my way.  What a way to be!  How miserable for those around me!

Better to hold my expectations lightly.  Enforce the sinful and bad (like lying and such) and gently deal with the non-moral stuff (like leaving socks on the floor or a belt off its hook).  Better to let go of some of my expectations and patiently engage in life with my youngsters.  So Hannah's thrown up for the 8th time this week, ladening me with the 4th extra load of laundry that I didn't plan on doing?  Oh well, this is all part of the journey.  So, the dryer burned holes in the sheets you had to launder because of the extra puke?  Oh well, God calls me to patient endurance.  So, your 3 year old is not comprehending the potty-training thing?  Oh well, rejoice in all things still applies.  So, I'm dead-beat tired and my 11 year old is complaining his computer time was cut short by a computer glitch?  Oh well, just roll with the punches, and tell him to do so at the same time.  Because if he sees you rolling with the punches for real, maybe he will know how it's done.

But if, like me, you don't always roll well with the punches of life, you may end up in a puddle of aggravated tears and frustration.  You will feel like you're coming unglued, falling apart at the seams, ready to scream at the next broken expectation that comes your way - even if that is something as little as the heavy-handle spoon falling out of the pot splattering spaghetti sauce everywhere.

Did Jesus only offer peace to those fishing on the peaceful shore (and of course we always imagine the peaceful, idyllic scene of serenity that those fisherman must have enjoyed every day - with perfect weather and a pleasant breeze to boot)?  Or did He offer His peace to me - a harried, sometimes stressed out, sometimes losing it, kind of Mom?

I think you know the answer to that.

"MY peace I give you - not as the world gives - don't let your heart be troubled - don't be afraid.  TRUST God - and TRUST Me."  John 14

The answer to the harried frustrations and failed expectations is to trust.  So simple.  So often repeated it almost becomes cliche.  And perhaps it is.  Maybe it's trite.  Simplistic.  Unreasonable.  But I have to believe Jesus offers His peace to me or else I think I'll end up in the loony bin (and that may be just where I will discover His peace... but that's another story).

Can I trust God is in charge when my world is falling apart?  Can I trust He'll carry me through this day of fatigue and challenges and physical impossibilities?  Can I trust Him to send helpers along when I need them?  Well, can I?

Whether I can or not, I will - because this faith trusting muscle needs a workout and God must orchestrate my life to be the treadmill to develop such faith.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Internet Detox

So in order to maximize my efficiency as a housewife and Mom we have discovered some special internet controls (something called Chrome Nanny).  Initially we decided to use it because the kids were beginning to have fights over using the computer and doing time-wasting things on it.  We were tired of the fights, tired of the division in our family.  And I've bene reading a book (Almost Amish) and have been sensing a bit of conviction over my distractability with the computer.  So we decided to set up the chromenanny to help structure the use of the computer for all of us.  Since I'm techno-challenged I can't even begin to think how I would break through it and change the rules.  So it is a great help for me - ever distracted and called away from my primary tasks.  This week has been the start of homeschooling, but also the start of my internet detox.  Wanna know how it's going?  Here's an email I wrote to Sam this week while he was at work (my email is one of the allowed sites - and has opened up more in-depth relational focus rather than the one-liners I am glued to on facebook):

Hi Sam,

This internet detox is killing me.  I can't believe how undisciplined
I've been.  What began as a journey to correct my kids waywardness has
evolved into an expose of my own failings!  This is a hard thing for
me to learn, but it is going to be wonderful, I believe - because it
is going to increase the time I give to relationships - to my family
and others.  For example, last night I thought about jotting a quick
email to a friend because she influenced me in what I said to Caleb
last night.  Usually, if I had that impulse, I would go to the
computer, check facebook, news etc.  Then I'd forget why I came and if
I remembered I might have second thoughts about writing her.  Then I'd
just be too lazy to compose a simple email and forget about it.  And
she would be less encouraged and our relationship would remain where
it was - no growth or fostering of mutual edification.  Also, I
wouldn't be writing this email to you now.  My mind would be off
laughing at someone's political joke or pun about the chaos of having
toddlers running around.  Even if it were merely a few minutes here
and there - it isn't so much the time consumption (because I would
check the time once in a while on that time measuring program), but
the distraction and the abundance of things - especially relational
things - that would fall by the wayside.

This morning Priscilla got to work on her stuff.  I graded her math.
Wrote her a list of assignments and corrections.  Then I cooked her
an omelette and made chunky applesauce from the apples from the
Petry's.  We had a late breakfast together at 10:30 and discussed the
food groups and the chemistry of nutrition.  (Carbohydrate means
carbon, hydrogen and oxygen).  Not sure if I'm right about all of that
- and I'd check it online just now, but I CAN'T!!!  So, I continue in
this email.  A complete email.  Undistracted.  Like a real
conversation with you.  Imagine.  It is a new day for me.

And actually, I write best when I write to people.  Real people.
People I know, see, hear and touch.  And then if I write something
shareable, I can just copy and paste into my blog.  Kill two birds
with one stone - right?

I love you Sammy.

Thanks for supporting me in so many ways.  Thank you for being my
techno-guru.  Thank you for patiently journeying with me, even in the
midst of my very distractable nature.  Maybe you can quit growing in
patience with this new software restriction in place.  I may just grow
into a minimally efficient wife, Mom and housekeeper.  I wouldn't bet
on it just yet.  But you never know.  Miracles happen every day.

love,

sarah

Journey into Homeschool

Here I am one week into doing homeschool with 9 y/o Priscilla.  We are working on grade 4 and easing our way into all the subject matter and curriculum.  I have been a bit insecure about the whole homeschool thing - always wondering if I'll get her educated enough to be proficient and to excel in not only core subjects of academia but also in the fringe benefit subjects.  Because of my self-doubts I am all the more aware that this too, as in all things in life, is a journey of faith.  I will need to see and know my inadequacies and rely heavily on God for wisdom - and also rely on any and all resources available to me to support this endeavour.  Because my goal in all this is really NOT to be a 'do it yourself' educator.  Or to stand independently and say, 'I don't need a village to raise/educate my kid!'  (I'd argue that perhaps a village isn't *necessary* to raise/educate her, but is a great benefit to her educational enrichment!).

I am wondering if I'm still in the honeymoon phase (probably) because this week has gone extremely well.  More seasoned homeschoolers will balk at my use of a uniform, but I love it.  In order to take advantage of the homeschool flexibility I have decided to implement 'Fun Fridays'.  The rules on Fridays are relaxed if we are up to date with all the material.  It will be non-uniform day.  She could do her work on the couch or in bed if she wants.  Once our basics are out of the way, she can choose any subject to do and if she finishes early she has more free time.  I think many homeschoolers function like this every day.  But I want to make sure we have built in motivators to keep the pace steady throughout the week, so 'Fun Fridays' it is. Frankly, Priscilla hardly needs motivation.  She goes right to work and I have no prompting to do.  In this sense she is a dream kid.  If she weren't my kid I'd be jealous of me.  I don't tell her these things because she doesn't really need to hear it.  We all have strengths and weaknesses - being a self-starter, diligent, consistent person happens to be her areas of strength.

I'm sure Priscilla could practically homeschool herself, but one of the main points of choosing this is not that she will be left to her own devices but that I will be a more active participant in her education and growth in thinking.  This week we've had a number of meals together and she has prayed, 'Thank you that I can homeschool and that I get to be with Mommy more.'  I'm amazed at her simplicity and gratitude to be spending time with me.  At one late breakfast I got into explaining basic nutrition to her - about starch, veggies and protein.  I taught her that carbohydrate is a chemistry term - carb for carbon, hydr for hydrogen and ate for oxygen.  Sure this was a bit above her head but I am very fascinated by the chemistry of food. Maybe a little of that will rub off on her.  Who knows.

Here was one of the things she wrote for creative writing this week:

Recipe: Best School Year Ever!

1 Cup of Diligence
2 Gallons of Friendship
1 Gallon of good lunches
3 cups of fun
15 field trips
a sprinkle of creativity (optional)
10/11 class pets
10 fun teachers

First you mix the teachers and the diligence.  While you mix, pour in 1 1/2 cups of fun.  Now, one at a time, put in each pet, CAREFULLY!
Pour in the friendship.  Then, pour in 1 1/2 more of fun.  Put in 7
field trips.  In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients.  Mix
all together and bake.

I said, 'I'm sorry I'm not 10 teachers!'  She said, 'You're as good as 10 teachers!'  So sweet, she is.



So, so far, so good.  I am still quite unsure of myself in certain
areas - art for one.  We'll have to look into some ideas and options.