Friday, December 7, 2007

Find your presidential candidate!

This is a cool quiz that I learned about from a friend's blog:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/page?id=3623346

My results:
#1- Dennis Kucinich (who knew?)
#2- John Edwards
#3- Bill Richardson

Although I must admit after reading about their positions, I think I'd actually go with John Edwards.

Take it and see where the candidates stand with your personal beliefs - you might be surprised!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frazzled parenthood


Marriage is hard. Anyone who disagrees probably hasn't been married for that long. And it's made harder by adding a baby into the mix.

Don't get me wrong - I love Christina more than anyone on earth, and she is the biggest blessing of my life - I wouldn't trade her for anything. But parenthood adds a whole other level to a marriage relationship. All of a sudden there's this little person who's needs have to come ahead of your own, and many times ahead of the needs of your spouse. There are less (if any) deep, intimate conversations, because there's a baby demanding all of your time. And as far as intimacy goes...well, there's no more spontaneity, unless it's within the confines of nap-time. Basically, life stops revolving around you and your spouse, and starts revolving around the baby, and that's a tough transition.

According to an article I read recently in BabyMap magazine, 67 percent of new parents find that becoming a parent decreases happiness and relationship satisfaction within their marriage. No one tells you how tough it is taking care of a new baby, and no one tells you how it will change your relationship with your spouse - that "becoming parents can increase stresses and strains, alter values and goals, shift roles, diminish communication, and increase hostility...These aren't the changes we expected parenting to bring."

Sean and I came to the realization early on in our parenting journey that it's true what people say - "Don't have a baby in order to save a relationship." Because if your relationship isn't strong to begin with, having a baby will probably tear it apart. Of course I don't say this with any kind of research backing me up - just my own experience.

This transition is made more difficult for me when I hear from the other moms in the playgroups. It would seem as though I'm the only one having trouble - but I don't think I believe that. Because when I'm at the playgroups I usually play down any problems that I'm having to make it sound like it's easy for me too. Or I just avoid talking about my marriage and instead focus on my relationship with my daughter. Because it's normal for a new mom to complain a little bit about her struggles with parenthood - how the baby barely got any sleep last night or is unbelievably fussy because of a new tooth coming in. But when it comes to the argument that my husband and I had last night, or the fact that we hardly find time to connect anymore, I keep quiet. And I wonder if they do too, or if it really is that easy for them to keep their marriage strong in the midst of all these changes.

All I can do right now is lean on God for my strength and comfort. He's the one who brought this wonderful blessing into our lives, and certainly he will use that to build up our relationship and not tear it down. In the meantime, I resolve to take each day as it comes - to practice forgiveness and not hang on to past hurts - and to pray without ceasing (when I remember to!). If you are reading this post, perhaps you could pray for our family - and for all families going through this transition into parenthood. Because in my experience, it's not as easy as it may seem from someone on the outside looking in.

And if you know of any scripture that is particularly relevant to this subject, please let me know.

Thanks!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Car Trouble


For those of you who haven't heard by now, Sean got into a car accident almost two weeks ago on his way home from work and rolled the car. He was exiting the interstate and coming around a curve in the road, and it had just rained so the roads were slick. He skidded out and the car rolled into a ditch. He said he was upside-down briefly, but the car came to rest on it's passenger side. Praise God that Sean was OK - he didn't have a bump or bruise on him. The car, however, was another story.

It was a Saturday, so the tow truck took our car to the tow yard for the weekend, and then to the collision center on Monday. The collision center didn't look at the car until Thursday, at which point they gave us a rough estimate of how much it would be to fix. However, the insurance adjuster didn't come out to look at the car until the following Tuesday, and we didn't hear back from him until Wednesday, at which point he told us that the car was totalled. Sean wasn't sure if there was much structural damage to the car or if it was mostly cosmetic, in which case he said we may just buy the car back from the insurance company and have it fixed up enough to be road-worthy. So he called the insurance adjuster back yesterday to discuss that option.

Today Sean told me that he's decided that we should just get another car - a decision which I'm happy with, because now we can get a four-door, which will be much easier with the baby! We don't have the money to make any payments on a new car, so we'll have to find a used one that's close to the amount we'll be getting from the insurance company. Of course now we have to mail them the title for the car, at which point they will mail us the check, so it will probably be at least late next week before we have a car again.

In the meantime, Sean's been taking the bus to work, which has not been pleasant for him. He leaves the house at about 5:30 in the morning and gets home between 5:00 and 5:30 in the evening. I've been stuck at home as usual while Sean's at work, but I also haven't been able to go over to my parent's place for dinner on Wednesday nights like usual, which has left me missing them. Thankfully I met a couple of moms online who have come over to my place for lunch this week, so I haven't been completely isolated.

Anyway, I hope we get some wheels pretty soon - you don't really realize how much you need something until it's gone, do you?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Homeschooling


A couple of gals in a playgroup that I go to have told me that they are planning to homeschool their children. They were both homeschooled themselves when they were kids. At first I didn't really do anything with this information - after all, I went to public school and wouldn't know the first thing about homeschooling. But it kept nagging at me, so after some online research, I decided to take a corespondence course (see my "Homeschool Oasis" link for more info). Basically the course consists of reading a bunch of books about homeschooling and writing about what you're learning from them.

Let me start by saying that public schools serve their purpose very well, since many parents don't have the option of homeschooling or aren't interested in it. I have a very close friend who is a high school teacher, and I think that teachers have one of the most important and influential jobs in the world, second only to parents.

Having said that, a lot of what I'm reading is beginning to convince me that homeschooling Christina would be a good thing. For example:

Children learn in different ways and at different paces. Public school is only able to teach children in one way and at one pace because there are so many kids in each class. Individual attention is much more conducive to learning.

Public schooling does not teach a Christian world view. On the contrary - I remember in high school learning that evolution was a FACT, not a THEORY. I don't recall hearing anything about opposing viewpoints, such as that of intelligent design.

It seems as though the school system teaches children to have short attention spans. Kids are taught to focus on one subject completely for the hour or so that they are in class, but as soon as the bell rings, they must stop what they are doing to move on to the next subject, regardless of whether they are finished with their current project. The only time they have to catch up is at home, when they should be spending quality time with their family. (For more info on this particular view, read Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto - it's a fantastic book.)

Now the philosophy of homeschooling that I'm learning about is delight-directed learning. It's a form of "unschooling," where the belief is that children want to learn. You provide them with a good learning environment and lots of available activities, and let them lead the way. To quote an essay I read by Barb Shelton (the teacher of this course) entitled So What About Prepared Curriculum?:

"We have somehow gotten this view that 'education' is filling our kids' minds with facts and information. While that certainly enters the picture, it is NOT what true education is. Education is teaching them to think, cooperating with God in preparing them 'for the works he prepared for them to walk in,' allowing time for the stuff God breathed in them to come to life, and character building. This is why we are hearing so much about employers who are frustrated with what the traditional school system is giving them. The schools are not producing 'educated people' but rather 'schooled' kids whose minds are only 'puffed up with knowledge.'"

OK, so this is all some very convincing information, but here's where it gets a bit hazy. I was talking with someone the other day, and they asked me why I wanted to homeschool Christina. The first thing that came to my mind was that I wished I had been homeschooled when I was young. I even asked my mom to homeschool me at least a few times through middle school and high school, but she never pursued it. My main problem with school was the social aspect. It just felt like one big popularity contest, and I didn't want to participate. On top of that, the curriculum didn't move at my pace. The regular classes were too slow paced and easy for me, but the honors classes were too hard.

So now I'm thinking that maybe I just want to do this for my own reasons, because I had such a hard time in school. On top of that, I don't really know what kind of career I would want to pursue if Christina did go to school, so maybe I'm just looking to be a stay-at-home-mom for as long as I can. And since Christina is an only child, and I'm pretty sure it's going to stay that way, I'll have to really work to make sure she gets time to be with other kids, to learn the aspects of socialization. I know that I tend to lean toward being overprotective, and I'm afraid that by homeschooling, I would just be trying to protect Christina from the influences of the world. And while we should protect our children, I don't want it to become an unhealthy thing.

I was talking to Sean about this the other evening, and he said that whether I decide to homeschool Christina through the elementary grades probably won't make much of a difference, since she'd just be learning about the basics anyway (reading, writing and arithmetic). But once she gets to be at the age for middle school, it would be best to have her in the school system, since she'd be learning much more that I may not be capable of teaching her. While this is a good point, I keep thinking about Barb Shelton's quote about prepared curriculum. Isn't education more about giving Christina a love of learning and teaching her HOW to learn than it is about filling her mind with facts and information?

Anyway, I'm up in the air at this point. Thankfully I won't have to make a decision about this for quite some time, considering Christina isn't even 1 yet! ;-) But I'd love to hear what some of your opinions are on this subject, so please let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It goes by so fast!


I'm amazed that it's been seven months already since Christina made her debut into the world. I try so hard to remember all of the little details about her as a newborn, but already the memories seem to have faded. Maybe I was just so frantic and stressed out during those first few months that the memories didn't even form - I was in a daze of new-mommy'hood. The few things that I do remember never seem to get written down. I'm afraid that one day Christina will ask me what she was like as a baby, and I'll have no recollection at all! So here are some of the things I don't want to forget:

I was so nervous taking Christina out of the hospital to go home. We left the hospital around 8:00 PM, and it was a cold night, being that it was January 20th. I was so afraid that the cold air would somehow harm her tiny body. I bundled her up and held her very close.

When Sean was driving us home from the hospital, he was so cautious and nervous. And we had our seats positioned just about as far forward as they would go, so we wouldn't risk bumping into the car seat in the back. Even though Christina had cried when we first put her in the car, she fell asleep once we got moving. It was such a big moment for me, because I knew that once we got home we would actually be parents - no help from the nursing staff - just us!

I slept on the couch in the living room with Christina until she was about four months old. From that first night when we brought her home, she decided she wanted nothing to do with her crib - she wanted to be in Mama's arms. And she was so sensitive, especially during the first two months. I would walk around the apartment or sit in the rocking chair with her in my arms until she fell asleep. Then I would ever-so-slowly try to move over to the couch and lay down with her tucked into the crook of my arm. Half of the time she'd wake right back up and start crying again, so I'd start all over. I think it kept her calm to feel my breath on her face - I know that sounds odd, but if I moved my face away from hers, her eyes would pop right open.

Well, Sean just got home from work, and the baby will probably be waking up pretty soon, so that's all I'll write about for now. I'll try to add more later as it comes to mind - there are so many things about her newborn days that I don't want to forget!