Monthly Archives: December 2009

Priorities equal Time

Now that the holidays are over and the New Year is upon us it is the traditonal time to reflect–the whole New Year’s resolution thing. Honestly I have never made a New Year’s Resolution and I will not this year. Instead I am culling. Every couple of months I need to do this in order to keep my sanity. We have 3 children, 2 cats and a dog in a 2 bedroom 900 square foot house. I love the closeness of our quarters, but it does take some organizing and there are times when it seems like someone is always underfoot–normally the dog.

The hard part is organizing on a budget. When you have all these bits and pieces lying around and no money to buy containers or shelves or such it can be rather frustrating. But it is also motivating. I realize that I just need to just get rid of the things we are not using. I told my mom that I am preparing bag for the epilepsy foundation and she said, “You’re not giving away clothes!” Sounds like my husband. But the fact of the matter is there are clothes that Avril has never worn that have been passed down to Mavis and she also has never worn them. I firmly believe most children only need about 3-4 pair of everyday pants, 5-6 shirts (either short of long sleeved depending on the season). In other words about 4-6 outfits. In my case anything more then that tends to get pushed to the back of the drawer or closet.

With my time to it is also time to cull. One thing I am trying to focus on is my time matching my prioritites. My number one priority is raising my family and staying connected to my husband. Everything else either helps me in my goals or hinders it. Some things are necessary even if they hinder. For example my work as a free lance writer can take time away from my children, but without that income I would have to look for part time work outside of the house which would take away even more time.

Farming is another example. It can take away time from our family, but we do it together. It is great to get out there with the kids working the fields and planning for a farm. Lately the children have been choosing to give up things like candy and other treats to save for the farm.

Before the holidays I was really busy with writing and getting ready for the holidays. It is all too easy to check out on the kids and leave the TV to babysit. Now I must reprioritize yet again. Last night I was doing a lot of soul searching. Here are the steps I came up with.

1. Limit work and try to confine it to a specific time of day, try not to let it spill over into an all day thing. This includes checking e-mails and making and returning phone calls.
2. Try to include the children in my work whenever possible. Today my household work includes making bread, sweeping the floors, laundry and sorting clothes. Note to self–children are not good and sorting things to get rid of, they will want to keep everything!
3. Schedule time for fun with the children. Make sure to plan time for stories, playing games, going outside, making cookies and just being together.

So my 1# goal today is to reconnect with the children and include them in my life on multiple levels–in short, to make my time match my priorites.

The Best Christmas Ever

There is something about celebrating the holidays with children. Of course I have been celebrating Christmas with children for several years now but this is the first year that we really made an effort to celebrate. Honestly we could have done more, but we started out cooking and baking and cleaning the house for Christmas, then came the decorating. I love all the Christmas movies on TV and we read the Christmas story in a variety of storybooks for the week before Christmas.

If you ask my children what Christmas is about they will say, “giving and sharing and loving.” That just about makes my heart burst with joy. And honestly I haven’t coached them on that either. Perhaps they have picked something up for the movies we watched or  stories we read.

We are also starting our own traditions. Christmas Eve Proeun had to work so the children and I stayed home in the snow storm and got things ready for a fabulous Christmas dinner–including dessert. It was simple and fun to be with the children. After dinner we cleaned up and opened presents. We had gotten a Wii for Two mostly but also for the whole family. We had planned it since last Febuary and saved little by little till we had enough for it. We were very excited to see how Two would react. But first we wanted to give him some of his other gifts. I had also gotten him Lincoln Log type building blocks. We had him open them first. Honestly I thought he would be disappointed but he thought they were very cool. Then out came the next box. We video taped it but I think it took awhile for it to settle in because it wasn’t until after the camera was turned off that he really reacted.

Of course then the next 2 days were busy with family and he didn’t get a chance to play it. Now there is a little let down from the holidays but the good feeling of being with my children remains. The holidays were not without their moments of frustrations but at Christmas dinner with my family I asked what their favorite Christmas was and I could confidently say–this one.

Next year I plan to let the children help pick out the gifts we will give their cousins so they can have some of the joy of giving as well.

Films for the Family

As my selection for Christmas I decided to take advantage of the Christmas sale at Vision Forum. I didn’t have as much money as I hoped to this year but I decided to go ahead and get a couple films. Our family really likes movies, though the preference is definitely different. I grew up watching the classic films of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I felt modern films did not really compare to those classics–especially the comedies. Some of my favorites are “Bringing up Baby,” “Midnight,” “The Major and the Minor,” and “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.”

Proeun grew up with comic books, video games and action films. One of the hardest things about having children is putting away your desires and doing what is best for the children. I find this is especially difficult in the realm of entertainment. Films that we feel comfortable with the children watching are few and far between. Ones that we actually enjoy as well are even harder to come by. It has gotten to the point where I feel that even kids movies need to be previewed before the children see them. So many contain ideas and concepts I am not comfortable with, including probably the most common–divorce. But then once we preview the movie it is not as fun to watch it again with the kids.

However I felt reasonably safe with films from Vision Forum. My selections were “Mysterious Islands,” “Pendragon” and “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

“Pendragon” is the story of the Christian church in England in 411 AD. It is a great story with lots of sword fighting and adventure. Luckily we have some hobby horses, wooden swords and a small round table top that has become a shield. It’s great that Two is using his imagination and burning off energy. However we are all living in fear of that wooden sword.

Proeun did not like “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Though the costumes for the trolls and devils were by no means extreme they were there. I know Two has seen scarier stuff, like “Lord of the Rings,” but this for some reason seems scarier to Proeun. Maybe because of the subject matter–Heaven and hell, I don’t know. But I thought it was a pretty good rendering of the story line.

We have yet to watch “Mysterious Islands” about the Galapagos Islands. We are still looking for good family films. My husband is the most picky. Now his favorite is epics. But one thing we agree is that most mainstream films do not fit our families need.

Nursing Journey

I always knew that I would breastfeed my babies. My maternal grandmother did. My mother did, all my aunts did and even most of the women I was acquainted with as a young girl fed their babies in this way. I honestly didn’t know it wasn’t the norm until I met my in laws. While my mother-in-law nursed all her babies neither of my sisters-in-law did. When I asked them why they didn’t really know except, “I didn’t feel like it.”

So when my first baby was born premature and the doctors told me he didn’t have the sucking reflex to nurse yet I was heart broken, luckily the hospital I was at had a good lactation consultant who suggested a pump and having him latch on before bottle feeding him. For 7 weeks I pumped and Proeun fed the baby the milk I had pumped the time before. But by 7 weeks he was eating more then I could pump and we decided it was time to start nursing. He took to it quickly and then I began nursing on demand, but he already had a schedule in place from the bottle feeding.

When my 2nd came along I was worried about sibling rivalry so I decided to try tandem nursing. I did that for a year and had enough to know I wasn’t going to do that again. When my 2nd got over 1 year old we started having problems with thrush and I was glad when my milk dried up during the 3rd pregnancy and my 2nd lost interest.

My 3rd has always loved nursing. My husband said that he never saw babies that nursed more then my babies. I intended to nurse my 3rd until pregnant with my fourth. Now what I thought was a temporary problem is threatening to derail that plan. My baby has always nursed on demand and it has been a great bonding for the both of us. I love being able to comfort her in this way and honestly it is easy. But with more teeth coming in she has been more demanding on me then usual. First one nipple developed painful cracks. I nursed on the other most of the time to let the wounded one heal–praying the whole time that it would heal before the 2nd one was wounded as well. That didn’t happen. Now I have 2 nipples that are extremely painful and a baby that won’t fall asleep without nursing. Unfortunately even if she falls asleep that doesn’t mean she will stay asleep.

I honestly am completely at a loss. Last night I thought about calling Le Leche League but then thought how are they going to help me, they can’t magically heal nipples? To make matters worse since this is how I comforted Mavis in the past when she needs comforting she expects it now which is really really hard for me to do. I find it affecting my relationship with her since I don’t really want to be around her for fear that she will ask to nurse. I guess that is my anticonfrontational nature.

I have been praying for strength to get through this and trusting that the Lord will give me what I need to be a good parent. But each night as is gets close to bedtime I really dread it. Last night wasn’t so bad but I am by no means healed. I would hate to have this been the end of nursing my baby since mentally neither one of us are ready. I guess that is my answer, we are not ready so I just have to endure until then.

I love you I hate you

Yesterday I had an epiphany. Early in the day I was reading, Parenting by the Spirit by Sally Hohnberger. This is my 2nd time reading through this excellent and eye opening book. When I found out my best friend was pregnant I recommended this book as the only parenting book you really need to read. Now she has 3 more books in the series, but anyway I digress.

I was reading how our actions speak much louder then our words, no surprise there, but one quote particularly struck me, “Often our actions speak so loudly that our children cannot hear our words.” I read that, tucked it away in my memory and preceeded with the day. We were doing our usual rushing around getting ready to take Proeun to work and I was yelling at the kids of the 4th time to get their shoes on. In the process I forgot to tape something Two had asked me to. When he discovered I forgot in the car he started telling me, “I hate you.” I try not to let it get to me and always reply, “well I love you.”

When we got home another conflict ensued, this time surrounding nap time. I was trying to get all 3 children ready for bed. Mavis was fussing and obviously ready, Avril kept coming up with excuses for not getting in bed and Two was bouncing off the walls and seemed to be forever in the way. Finally I lost it and yelled at him telling him, “You are always in the way, lie down,” and I made sure he did. He flopped his head back on the pillow and said, “See I told you you hate me!”

That was the moment. While he had told me he hated me, his actions have always been full of love. However I was telling him I loved him but projecting frustration and to him hate. Even though I could justify my frustration, I had to acknowledge there really is not justification for not being able to control our emotions.

Since then I have been trying to be careful. At bedtime the same conflict was beginning. But instead I put my hands over my face and started counting. The kids stopped immediately. I was a homeschool conference last April and on of the presenters was saying that she puts on a particular hat when she really needs and break and that Abigail Adams used to put her apron over her head to signal to her children that they needed to stop immediately. I explained to the children what that means and hopefully it will work. I’ll keep you posted.

A Quiver Full of Misunderstanding

With the birth of Michelle Duggar’s 19th baby it seems like everyone has an opinion of big families. While I don’t currently have a mentor I do have to say that I love the Duggar’s show. I have read their book and eagerly look forward to any updates on their family. Since the birth of our 3rd child Proeun and I have chosen to let the Lord bless us as He will as far as number of children. Family and friends alike have had difficulty conceiving and we have seen the heart break this all too common problem can cause.

When we married we had our plans, but the Lord gently adjusted us and our plans. Now we eagerly await the return of fertility and the possibility of baby number four.

When I was young I was surrounded by families with 2 children. To have 3 was considered a large family. I met one family with 4 children and that seemed really unusual and in my thinking of the time irresponsible. Yes I admit that I was one that totally bought in to the idea that the only responsible thing to do was just replace yourself. My parents had two children and wholeheartedly believed it.

When I was in college a new idea was presented to me, it wasn’t necessarily the number of children but amount of resources consumed by said children that was the problem for our planet. Children in the U.S. consume vast amounts of resources compared to a relatively small amount among children in other parts of the world. We have developed the idea that certain things are required to raise our children well, a TV in their own bedroom, a video game system, new clothes every year, sports activities, summer camps and private schools. All of these cost vast amounts of money and resources. Many families are never home and spend large amounts of time driving from place to place. They are literally home to sleep and that is about this. It is a base of operations that the family goes out from, not a center of family activity.

It takes guts to go against the flow. It takes guts to tell your family and friends that you are no longer “planning” your family. Luckily my mother and father are supportive as well as Proeun’s parents. But the siblings all think we are crazy. My sister says I am addicted to babies. I suppose that is it but it is also much more. I can’t imagine putting my choices on TV and get all the back lash from that. On a recent episodeof the Duggar’s TV show  they took viewer questions. One young woman could barely keep the disdain from rising in her voice as she asked about resources the family consumed. The Duggars didn’t bat a lash they just calmly explained how they made choices every day to consume less resources then they normally would. The Bates family which has been on the show frequently lived until just recently in a 1000 square foot house. They live without debt. They “buy used and save the difference,” and they actually live in a home, work in a home and go to school in a home, this alone will save resources.

I say bravo to the large family. When I had my 3rd child I knew we were on the way. Our midwife jokingly said that I would need one more child to have a large family, we are hoping soon.

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

It will be a white Christmas! Last night and this morning the snow has steadily been falling. Proeun works as a bus driver so he has no choice but to go out and brave the conditions. Only one county from us has a no travel advisory due to blowing snow. I am often reminded of how privileged I feel to have my life work revolve around the home and keeping the home. This day is one of the days that I am more thankful then others. I only had one appointment scheduled today and was able to easily change it. So the children and I have been snug inside.

All I need is a bunch of Christmas CDs and the mood is set.

While Proeun is still in the rat race so to speak we have visions of life on a farm where snow will be a welcome treat and invitation to exciting outdoor activities rather then a signal for a stressful commute. We got a book from the library last time we were there called A Christmas Like Helen’s in which the author, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock recounts life on her family farm when her grandmother, Helen, was a girl. Kinsey-Warnack still lives on her family’s land in Vermont.

The book recounts things like sledding and skating on the pond behind her house and taking care of the animals on the farm. It talks about a black and white tomcat that Helen dressed up like a baby. We have a black and white tom named Austin that is Avril’s cat. He sleeps with her and follows her around, I don’t know if he could handle a dress but I am sure a baby carriage would be OK with him.

The book goes on to talk about making maple syrup in the spring for Christmas breakfast. About growing potatoes and carrots in the summer and picking apples in the fall for Christmas dinner. You must know the land and love the land and work the land all year for a Christmas dinner like this. You also must know how to keep Christmas in your heart all year, how to help each other and love each and know each other all year.

I desperately want land to know and love and pass on to my children and maybe my grandchild will write about the grandmother that chose a different way of life and dreamed to pass it on. Helen had no choice, I have a choice and I chose a return to her way.

Mud for the Blind

Our children are learning all the time, whether we realize it or not. This last week I discovered a friend of mine is dealing with a huge personal tragedy. In addidition to a messy divorce she is now dealing with major health problems. She has had diabetes since she was child. She has also struggled with appetite. About 2 months ago she delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy–her 3rd child and 2nd delivery in a year and half. Her first child is 6 years old and lives with her father in Florida.

This wonderful mother has been abadoned by her husband. in the midst of it all she is holding on to Jesus and trying to raise her children for the Lord. She is working on a healthy diet, natural healthcare and nurturing her children physically and spiritually. Now she is loosing her eyesight. She cannot see at all out of one eye and cannot see very well out of the 2nd. She cannot even read.

This morning at worship I shared a simplified version of her story with the children and asked them to help me pray for her. Two said, “Jesus can come and spit and make mud and put it on her eyes and tell her to go wash it off and when she does she will see.” I didn’t even realize that he had learned that story. Obviously he had and it struck a cord with him. I wonder what else he remembers.

A Whole Week of Illness

A week ago Tuesday Mavis and Avril came down with a cold. It didn’t seem to affect them too much except that they would get stuffed up at night and get woken up when they couldn’t breathe. Unfortunately they didn’t wake up at the same time. Each of them was up 4-5 times during the night–which meant I was up 8-10 times. This happened for 2 nights. Then it was Thanksgiving. I thought about keeping the girls home but decided that would be too disappointed. So we went and had a great time.

Friday Two got sick with the flu and spent the evening throwing up. The next day he seemed greatly improved and I was hoping that illness was on it’s way out. Then Proeun got sick with aches and pains and general fatigue. We spent Saturday and Sunday in the home. Sunday Avril got the flu and spent the evening throwing up. The next day Proeun called in sick and Avril seemed greatly improved. Tuesday Proeun had requested off for an appointment in the afternoon. It was now our 4th day in the home and 7th of sickness.

Tuesday night I got the flu and spent the evening throwing up, the next day I was greatly improved. So now several illnesses have made their way through the family. We have had a good long time at home to recoup. I had gone to a parenting meeting once and there was a mother there who was a nurse. Another mother said to her, “I suppose when the kids get sick your husband makes you stay home since you are in the medical profession?” The other mom said something about sharing the duties. I thought about how grateful I am that I am home with my children every day–especially when they are sick. As an adult I still want my mommy when I am sick.

The Lord is gradually leading me towards the idea that service is the greatest duty and most rewarding aspect in life. When you think about the most fulfilled people you know I am sure you will see a steady diet of unselfish service. Though I am tired of being in the home and exhausted from being sick and frustrated that once again the TV has ruled to house, I am happy I could be here for my kids. When I got sick some of that service I gave them rubbed off as they showed genuine concern and helpfulness for their poor ailing mother.