that’s where you’ll find me…

Somewhere over the rainbow, in Kansas that is. We are officially moving. After many discussions, time mulling and fuming, disagreements, and some tears, at least on my part, we are accepting Mike’s new position at Kansas State.

I had three big wishes for our next move. Well, they were more than wishes – more like absolutes, which are now not such absolutes!

1. a great Montessori school

2. a farm or land for animals

3. ocean

Well, Kansas is only a short drive from the ocean, right? So for the times in between our jaunts to the beach, we can make do with the local rivers and reservoir. And farm land should be plentiful! In fact I am now questioning the desire for peace and solitude as I will have that in abundance, I am sure. The trickiest part of making up our minds was the Montessori school. Manhattan, Kansas is lacking in alternative educational options. To start a school would be a challenge, one I am not feeling up for and would totally miss my children by the time I was established. And homeschooling I fear would not suit me for the long haul. A year or so, maybe, but I am learning it is not something I feel I can do well, or let just happen as with unschooling. After many searches and changing of plans, we found Montessori schools in Topeka (1 hour) and Lawrence (1.5 hours). They even have elementary programs in Lawrence!! We are now considering living on the outskirts of Topeka and each commuting, hoping that I can find employment at one of the schools to reduce tuition for the boys as well. Mike was told today there are people who do this in architecture department so maybe he can even ride share.

It is not what I wanted and what I have dreamed of this whole time we have lived in Muncie. But at a time like this, we have little choice and will have to find ways to see the advantages of this move and the place we will call home. I am trying (though not well) to not dwell on the negatives – losing so many good friends for the Mike, myself, and the boys, moving so much farther from family when the boys are just coming to remember and love their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins so much more, moving to a rental and the uncertainty of selling our house, and the packing and moving and unpacking (UGH!!!). And the list could go on. (BUT, ona positive note, we do get to live closer to Aunt Michelle, Uncle Keith, and cousin Shane! Yeah!)

This year we will also reduce our garden planting and have to double up our work efforts on repairs we did not finish last year when we thought we were listing the house. Oh, I can already see this spring and early summer playing out… busy, busy, busy. Especially with two ‘helping’ children!

Advertisements

moving at a different pace

 

This past week has been a slow moving week, which seems to be the case when on vacation or visiting relatives. We have been living at my parent’s home for the past week, and will be for the week to come while working on a little project. The days get kind of muddled, worries of work at home are forgotten temporarily, and there is an ease to it all, even in our case with work involved. (Obviously it is different for each person – grandma and grandpa may not see it quite the same way!)

We are putting an architectural research project of my husband’s to real use as a pond-side cabin, a short tractor or truck ride from the real house (and real plumbing, real air conditioner, and real electricity). Many, many pictures have been snapped of each step of the way, but the results after a week of leveling, measuring, cutting, pushing, pulling, sweating, a little poison ivy, and a lot more swearing gives us the main body of the building and the structure of the deck.

 

         

While I got to take a break at home to face the reality of tomatoes in the garden and little tasks at home, I will head back out tomorrow to resume helping, though a lot is being done in my absence. Luckily, I missed out on the tar paper! What is left is metal siding and roofing to go on three sides, translucent plastic for the other two (the lattice sections), trim pieces to seal it all, windows, a door, a deck and a porch roof. And that is just the exterior.

Regardless of that amount of work, we are already dreaming of actual use and planning the interior space. We have the grand idea of finished inside walls, a loft, and a ladder. We have purchased tiles for the floor and the cabinet and countertop from the habitat store to make some storage and work space. We have Ikea chairs to relax in, solar powered lights to see by, and lanterns to make it cozy.

And while it is a lot of work (and I am not even doing the hardest and dirtiest of it), it is so pleasant to move at a different pace and enjoy the peace of the work. Being out there, working with my husband has been very satisfying (even when we disagree about stylistic points). And the variety of the butterflies checking on our progress is just a delight.

My nephew mentioned something to this effect upon seeing it: the cabin will be great because you just wake up and go fishing. I am looking forward to just such a lovely morning someday soon out there.

A big thanks to my parents for the letting us dump our shack on their property and use materials free of charge; to my Dad for all his help with getting the walls up and his generosity with his farm vehicles, tools, and time; to my Mom for helping so much with children (impossible to work side by side without childcare in this location and timetable) and for canning all along and still being willing to share it with me; to my brother for more free materials, coming to help, dispensing some advice, and drinking a few beers with Mike.

a short summer trip

The past few days felt very full, but, unlike normal, it was a very happy fullness. We turned last-minute plans into two days of fun where everyone – everyone – stayed cheerful and got a lot from the trip. We left during little O’s first nap, and made it to Hamilton County’s Pirate Cove, a wonderful outdoor splash park. (Thanks Kara!) If this park was any indicator, they have a lot of fabulous parks in and near Cincinnati. From there we headed to Ikea, where we managed to spend a couple hundred dollars, although we went in with very few needs. Ikea showed us what we needed! It turns out, I found my best new peach cutting knife and a pitcher that actually pours. Yes, pours without excess dribble and drips. Plus, many, many toys and furnishings for the little crew. I just love what Ikea has to offer. Even shopping with two boys turned out to be very pleasant. As long we were on top of sleep or hunger needs, the day moved smoothly on.

 

While a hotel stay with children is not always fun and sharing the same room means little sleep is had by all, we still had a good time. My highlight of the trip was spending over an hour watching little O in the middle of the night, after feeding him. He was in his pack-n-play, standing, exploring every surface and nook around him. He stroked the textured wall paper, pulled on the ironing board cover repeatedly (propped to block a view of me in bed!), and poked his fingers through the metal diamonds, and he tested each corner of his bed, cruising between sides. It was great to see him explore without a need to call out for me and just drop to sleep when he was satisfied. (And then I could drop to sleep too)

 The next morning was the Newport Aquarium and then lunch nearby. The visit was great with everyone finding some delightful things to explore or watch. Big E loved the shark exhibit they had and the divers cleaning the tanks. Little O loved the giant frogs with their buttons to make them croak.

Because we were so close to my husband and my college, Miami University, we just had to make a trip to our favorite places. We hit Jungle Jim’s and bought lots of little delights: teriyaki seaweed, mini coconuts, really long beans, sugar cane, Australian cheese with Merlot confit, cigars, and so much more, more than might easily cram in the car. Not exactly local purchases, but great teaching tools for big E about foods from other places in the world. Our next stop was fossil hunting at Pfeiffer Park in Oxford, Ohio. We stomped down the river and found new treasures. To satisfy our dinner hungers, we headed to Bagel and Deli for a Sportsfest. Okay, truthfully, between the many stops at Dunkin Donuts and the snacks from Jungle Jim’s we were not hungry. But one cannot leave Oxford without a steamed bagel sandwich. A feast in the park was had by all and off we went for a country drive home. To wind down the day, we barged in on friends for a last-minute play session. We ended day 2 home in our own cozy beds.

 When reflecting on why I was so happy this trip it was a combination of a few things. My husband and I kept our cool, even when we were stressed. And because I quickly figured out at the start of the trip when we had to stop for eating or had to drive for napping (which both boys do great in the car), we had perfectly spaced intervals which resulted in happy children most every stop. I was amazed at how absolutely perfect that seemed to work out. Big E did his part. If I suggested it was a good time to try a nap, he obliged, closing his eyes and falling to sleep within a minute, setting a great example for little O. Because everything fell into place so well, we got to do so much each day and feel good at the end of the day.

 We realized something else at the end of the trip – the lack of pictures. I think some trips are so good we are quick to remember to take pictures to remember it all by. And some trips are so good, we are busy enjoying ourselves we are lost in the moment and forget about documenting it. I am glad this was one of those trips. I hope my mental pictures can do it justice.

 

parenting together

 

  1. Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser
  2. Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
  3. Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn
  4. The Pocket Parent by Gail Reichlin and Caroline Winkler
  5. The Mr. Rogers Parenting Resource Book by Fred Rogers and Joanne Rogers
  6. A Family of Value by John Rosemond
  7. Children: The Challenge : The Classic Work on Improving Parent-Child Relations–Intelligent, Humane & Eminently Practical (Plume) by Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz
  8. Redirecting Children’s Behavior by Kathryn J. Kvols, Bill Riedler, and Parenting Press

 This is quite a list, a long list of parenting books. And yes, I have read or skimmed or consulted all of them, plus more of which I cannot even recall the titles. And now, finally, on book #9 that I am truly ‘getting it’. And no, I do not mean how to raise the perfect child.

 I like many points in many of these books and on some days, they have saved the day – giving me a new idea, refreshing an old idea I had forgotten, or given me the boost I need to make it to the end of the day. I think that while I could rely on what I just ‘know’, I also need guidance if I plan to change parts of my parenting style I do not like. I am seeing new parts of myself because of having children and having to raise them, and frankly, I don’t like some of them. Plus, if my husband and I differ in any way, parenting the way each of you ‘knows’ can lead to marital and parental problems.

 So after pouring over books, trying to keep my cool during the day, trying to implement changes with my boys to make the day go smoothly and happily with a full day of respectful behavior from everyone (mama included) here is what I finally figured out.

 Not everyone was on board. I was on board. I even set sail. But I forgot everyone else. Well, not entirely, but nearly. I often would explain to big E that because of behavior x-y-z, we would now be handling things differently and try to a-b-c. And we would try. I would tell my husband what I read and explain how I wanted to fix the behaviors and fix my actions. And I would try. And for a few days, it was smooth sailing.

 But then the troubles began again. Because both my husband and I were not consistently trying to change our tone of voice, our attitude to some behaviors, and our response, we quickly fell back to old ways. Even if I was trying something new, hearing an old way of explaining something or a quick, less respectful response made it easier to fall back into old habits.

 So recently I had an ‘Ah ha’ moment. Not only did we need to agree to change, we needed to be on the same page, well, the same book, to do so. And frankly, I am not sure it entirely matters what book or efforts you both try as long as you are both there, slogging through it together. And you are still there 2 weeks later, and a month later.

 Now I realize we have all heard this and read it. Parent consistently. Well, sure I heard it. I read it. But did I take it in and make the idea my own, applying to myself? Not really. What I read in the books or knew inside quickly went by the wayside when the toilet was clogged with TP, or big E was digging in the mud pit, or little O crawled for the cactus for the 10th time in a minute. Even if I knew a better response, I fell into old habits and sent a lot of mixed messages. It is hard to parent  together consistently when your spouse is consistent one way and yourself another!

 So I will keep my library of parenting books, but instead of sailing alone, I asked my husband on board. I offered him a book to read tonight so we can figure things out together. Hopefully we are on the same page tomorrow. And maybe we will get it right together and raise two happy, loving, gentle boys. Not perfect boys, but wonderful boys.

hitting a rock

When it comes to your spouse, that relationship can be rocky. And if it is not, it tends to not get that much attention. Some people are obviously better at valuing their relationship, taking care of it. But here, well, we have been on cruise lately. And last night, we hit a rock. And it felt like a big one. (Funny, we tend to hit the same rock over and over again.)

Our big issue is the balance of family time and work time. But the bigger issue is that my spouse feels he does not need to involve me in his work obligations. I get angry over too much work time AND not being aware of obligations that will impact our time as a family. So if the work day extends beyond agreed upon times, or if a new meeting comes up, I expect to know. Anything that effects family time needs to involve spouses talking.

Any additional work takes away from family time and jobs we need to get done at home. (despite being a stay at home mother, a lot of tasks just feel impossible to accomplish between naps, feeding children, cleaning children, helping children.)  It does not mean that it can be changed or that a compromise will always feel satisfactory, but, keeping a spouse out of the loop until the meeting is the next day or signing up for additional duties with no regard – well that is a recipe for disaster. Essentially, my spouse forgot to buckle his safety belt and we hit the rock.

The problem the next day is when promises are made (my husband survived the crash) and are taken to mean something. I wonder where will we be in a few weeks. Though my husband swears it will different, you might hear me yelling – ‘Look out, big rock!’ – along with some other choice words.