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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

I’ve come across so many articles lately about “How to Live on 1 Income!” or even “Why doesn’t America have mandatory maternity leave like other countries do?”.  I get it — it’s even something that I blogged about before — years ago.  But since then, I’ve kind of realized some things.  Such that now whenever I hear the question “How Can We Live On One Income?”, I mentally reply “As long as your income is Bill Gates’, then you’re fine.”  For a while, I thought of it as an income problem.  Or I mentally think “Just have the expenses of Mother Teresa, then you’re fine.”  I would think of it as an expense problem.

Okay, not really.  It doesn’t take Bill Gates income to support a family.  And you don’t have to have expenses of a single nun.  And while, at the end of the day, it does come down to expenses and income, I’m guessing (just guessing) that in my circle of friends, there are 1-income homes making $40K/year and they make it work. And there are probably also couples making $150K/year who struggle to pay all their bills.  So, it isn’t the amount that’s critical – it’s the decisions made that make all the difference.

But even that statement is kind of misleading.  Because, I’ve realized that:

  • It’s the decisions your parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions your spouse’s parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions that you made after high school that affect you today. (Student loans, rents, mortgages, car loans, etc)
  • It’s the decisions that your spouse made after high school that affect you today.
  • It’s the professions that you’re in that affect you today. (Income potential as well as other expectations like dress code, cars, houses)
  • It’s the professions that your spouse is in that affect you today.
  • It’s the part of the country that you live in that affect you today. (Particularly housing has a huge effect on cost of living)

It’s all kinds of things.  I’ve just come to realize that being/having a stay-at-home spouse is a complex issue.  It’s not SOLELY a function of the decisions that you make today, but it’s influenced by decisions made for the last couple of decades and decisions not even made by you.

Over the years, my mind has gone from “You just have to make a budget that only spends what you make.” to “You just have to have 1 income that makes enough money to support your needs.” to “I think people need to really be wise about their decisions and the decisions that they lead their children too because financial decisions can have a really long-term effect.”  Aka: It’s complicated. 

 

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Naming a kid

Since we’re finding out the sex of Baby #3 (in a couple of weeks!), we haven’t really started discussing names.  Well, maybe once every week or so, I’ll toss a name out to Jeff to see what he thinks, but there isn’t anything serious.

Baby #1: With Phinehas, we had a boy name and a girl name picked out before our anatomy scan.  Jeff really liked that name – mostly because of the story in the Bible about Phinehas.  I didn’t have any objections, so that became our name.  (I can’t even remember what our girl name was.)

Baby #2: We never did have a girl name.  Well, I did (Kathryn Grace), but Jeff wasn’t on board with it.  It didn’t matter as we had a boy.  Since my new date was my deceased father’s birthday, Stephen became a great choice.  Add in a middle name as Jeff’s dad’s name and we were complete!

Baby #3:  We know that it will be a name from the Bible.  That’s the “theme” that Jeff has always wanted.  And although I would tend to more modern names, there are plenty of Biblical names to choose from.  Except for girls!  Girl names are hard and since we already have nieces named Sarah and Anna, that throws out 2 of the most common names.  So, there isn’t a list yet, but this could be hard work if nothing “speaks” to both of us!

How do most couples pick out names?

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I made a list this summer of some of the things that I want to remember.  Time to add to that list!

The boys aren’t significantly older than they were then, but we’re always adding to the list of things that I hope I can hold onto in my mind.  Lately:

  • When Phinehas wakes up earlier than Stephen, he asks to make Peanut Butter toast.  We then sit outside on our back deck and look at the stars.  Our house backs up to a trail and a wooded area and it is DARK outside and you can see the stars perfectly.  We don’t stay long — either a toddler’s attention is hard to hold, it gets too cold or we hear Stephen wake up.
  • We look for the turkeys every day and we see them most days.  I think they sleep in a tree right behind our house.
  • Stephen usually always has something in his hands.  It started with a plastic toy magnifying glass, but lately, it doesn’t matter — a spatula is often a favorite thing to hold.
  • Both boys love to be naked after their bath and to “run” down the hall.  When there are no more babies at our house, I’m gonna miss the sound of giggles and the sight of little baby butts running down the hall.
  • We’re using up our last days of being a family without a mini-van.  We just bought one last night and we’ll have it on Saturday.  For 2.5 years now, the boys & I have done quite well in my little Corolla, but I’m looking forward to a car that Finn can get in and out of by himself (obviously, he’ll still need help with his carseat.)
  • How every once in a while, Finn wants to be rocked before he falls asleep.  “Mama, Rocky You”.  He really means “Mama, Rock Me”.
  • Phinehas’ language has just skyrocketed in the last few months.  Out of nowhere, complete sentences are there.  Common ones: “I do all by myself” and “Mama, stop doing that.”
  • I’m struck at how much they look alike.  Will this continue?  So intriguing!  Here are pictures of both boys at the same ages:

kids_week48 copy

kids_week51 copy

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It seems that Stephen (8 months old) is learning new skills every day.  And his personality is starting to reveal itself more and more.  And there are times that I think “Did Phinehas do that?” because I can’t remember.  And they’re only 18 months apart!  And I still can’t remember unless I’m prompted by something or someone mentions it.  I don’t want to forget:

  • What Phinehas’ belly button looked like.  For at least the first year of his life, it was a cute little cinnamon roll shaped.
  • How he used to point to the lamp and whisper “Hot”, either like he knew a secret or that he was afraid that you didn’t know it.  I’m not even convinced he knew what “hot” meant at that point.
  • When we called Uncle Kyle for his birthday last weekend and he just knocked out a great rendition of “Happy Birthday” song.  Wasn’t perfect, but I don’t know how he even knew what he did!
  • How he ‘chases’ up after Stephen on the steps, “pretending” to catch him, just like we do with him.
  • How he (kindly intentioned, but not so kindly in action) pulled Stephen down the stairs trying to help him learn how to go down.
  • How lately he wants one last hug and kiss from me when I drop them off at Aunt T’s…that’s a new thing and I love it!
  • The way he says “tickle” when he wants Jeff to chase him around and tickle him.
  • And the way he says “No!” when you ask if he wants you to tickle his tummy, but then he lifts up his shirt so that you have easy access to tickle him.
  • How he asks for “some”.  It used to be that everything is “some”.  Some watermelon.  Some M&Ms.  Some cheese.  Doesn’t matter – he wants “some”.
  • Him playing with my hair dryer in the morning as I get ready.  His love for the vacuum is being replaced by that new toy.
  • How we have to read “Dog” (Go Dog Go) at least 5 times/day even though he rarely seems to be paying attention.
  • Playing in the bathtub asking me to “shoot” which means fill up this little syringe with water and shoot it at the wall.

 

What saddens me is how much I’ve already forgotten and that he won’t remember most of this…but that’s okay.  I’m creating good bonds between us that I hope to strengthen the rest of his life.

June2014

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Working Part-time

I’m not a President Obama supporter, but I’m far from a hater too.  In fact, I really dislike how people disrespect him and his office just because they don’t agree with him.  I’m talking about people that call him “Barry” or other disrespectful names.  There was a candidate for governer here in Nebraska a couple of months ago who had a President Obama bobblehead doll and knocked it off a fence post during one of his ads.  Just for that alone, I wouldn’t have voted for him.  (He wants to be the head of our state, but can’t respect the head of our country?  No thanks.  There were other qualified candidates.)

All that to say that I don’t normally get too excited about politics.  I definitely have my opinions, but it’s not an area that I spend lots of time on.  I just have other things that excite me more.

Until I read Parade Magazine’s article a couple of weeks ago with an interview with Michelle & President Obama on family issues.  And she said the following that really bothered me:

“Now I realize that that’s one of the challenges that we have as women:  We don’t negotiate for ourselves. We don’t negotiate hard. And I realized that again later on when I had Malia, my first child. After a while, I asked for part-time work [at the University of Chicago]. And I did the same job, part time. Essentially, I just got paid less. That was the first time I realized I would never again work part time, because that’s not a good deal for women.”

Now, I recognize that this was a short magazine article and had she been giving much more time and space to say what she really thinks, there might have been a different picture presented.  And it seems like her experience working part-time really colored her position on this.  But here’s my position on this:

Working part-time (compared to full-time) is wonderful.  And I wish more women would choose that option, not less.  (In full disclosure: I also wish more women would choose the stay-at-home mom route too.)  Working part-time might not have been a good deal for her, but it was probably a better deal for her children.  Maybe the solution isn’t to forget about working part-time (instead of full-time).  Maybe the solution is to work part-time and mean it.  And set boundaries around it.  (Easier said than done, I know…but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.)

I jut can not imaging working full-time at this time.  I just can’t imagine both my husband and I rolling in at 5:30 p.m., getting dinner thrown together, getting baths and bedtimes and cuddles and reading and instructing all in before 7:00/7:30 p.m. at night.  I just can’t imagine it.  (Well, I can imagine it, but I’m miserable in my imagination).

And maybe our kids go to bed earlier than most, but I far prefer that to waking a sleeping baby and toddler up at 7:15 a.m. just so that I can take them to the babysitter’s house (as wonderful as my babysitter is) or a daycare.  Or even letting them sleep in and having a nanny/babysitter be there when they wake up in the morning.

For women who want to work:  For women who need to work: Part-time can be a wonderful option.  It’s definitely worth looking into.

/rant over.

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Thousand sacrifices

One last thought from “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  In a letter from Sally to Sarah, she writes:

“I always wanted to be a hero – to sacrifice my life in a big way at one time – and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal. “

I’ve often wanted that.  I wished weight loss worked that way: one big effort (over the course of like 1 day), then you just coast.  Or financial success: one big effort (over the course of like 1 week) and all your past financial mistakes were fixed.  Or if you worked one really hard project at work, you wouldn’t have to work hard again (like ever!).  But life doesn’t usually work that way.

And mothering is one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.  When you don’t feel like being touched anymore.  When you feel like reading something meant for an adult.  When you feel like eating junk food.  It’s lots of little sacrifices.

The good news is that I can’t remember regretting a sacrifice.  I can’t remember climbing into bed at night and thinking “man, I really regret reading ‘I Love You Stinky Face’ 20 times today.” I can’t remember saying to myself “I really wish I wouldn’t have made vegetables at dinner.” I just don’t.  Sacrifices – even the small ones – have a way of reminding you how cool these people in your life really are.

 

 

 

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Another lesson learned from  “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  The quote:

“Many voices in motherhood today want to make a law out of everything – the activities that are best for a child, how to spank or not to spank, and how to secure obedience; working outside the home or staying at home; what clothing is acceptable for our girls; what movies, music, or books are or are not acceptable; dating or courting; adopting; drinking; even eating – there is no place where the grasp of legalism cannot and will not reach.

And yet, Scripture clearly speaks to the opposite.  It tells us in Romans 14:22, “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”  The worry of what others are doing or are expecting us to do will indeed kill our souls.”

When I read this, I didn’t automatically think of the supposed “Mommy Wars”, but, instead, I thought of the tendencies inside me.  Oh yes!  This is me!  I want rules that pretty much guarantee good results – in my child(ren) and in me!

I have got to chill out when it comes to thinking that there are easy answers to be had.  I have got to chill out when it comes thinking that there is 1 way to raise a kid.  To have a good marriage.  To live a happy life.  Chill out Jayme!

 

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