Parenting Win

>> Friday, October 21, 2016

I had one of those on Wednesday night.

Yes, they're rare enough that they warrant notifying others and preserving in this manner.

During the day, plans had changed for the evening and there was suddenly going to be youth group for the girls after all.  As I drove home, I resigned myself to making two trips to a nearby town in the evening instead of just being able to stay home.

But when I got home, neither girl was terribly interested in going, which I found a little surprising.  I guess they were both already in "home-for-the-day" mode, also having believed there was no youth group that night, but this Bible study was apparently somewhat specifically geared towards the kids interested in a spring break missions trip, which none of us had heard anything about yet either.  I think that threw them off a little and they just weren't prepared to make an on-the-spot decision.

On top of that, both girls had tests Thursday morning.  AJ was quite ready for hers and just wanted a bit of a review quiz, but Mack needed a lot of time to prepare for hers.  She was panicking.

And so we stayed home.  But instead of the relatively vegetative evening I'd envisioned, I spent virtually the ENTIRE evening quizzing my new high schooler for her retailing test, going so far as to dream up several word problems for her to work through when she realized there was a whole segment of work that she'd forgotten about that would be included in the test.  It was a concept she really didn't understand very well and we ended up spending considerable time on that.  And by the time they needed to head off to bed, she was much less worried about the next day.

It was hard for me to put their needs ahead of my desire to not have to think or do anything.  I'd already spent all day at work thinking and trying to wrap my brain around new concepts myself.  I'd planned a very different evening, but I think this was the best way I could have spent it.  And it turned out to be a very satisfying evening.

Of course, we'll have to wait for her marks before we can really know how successful it was...

Sleeping In Class 


Loving Your ACTUAL Life

>> Monday, October 17, 2016

Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall
I'm not exactly sure how I found this book, whether it was a recommendation of Amazon's based on my recent purchases and searches or if I saw it after following a series of links and rabbit trails online.  In any case, I'm happy I bought it.

I read through several Amazon reviews before deciding to buy it, and the two that stick with me are from the reader who complained that the book was supposed to be about loving life as is and yet the author went and changed a whole bunch of things in order to help her appreciate her life, so was she really loving her "actual" life in the end, or her "new" life?  The other is the reader who complained that there were no helpful hints, tips, suggestions to follow in order to start loving his or her own "actual life."  The reviewer dismissed the book as a waste of time because it was not a self-help book, but essentially just a diary of the author's nine-month experiment.

It is exactly that.  A diary.  And there are precious few ~ if any ~ helpful strategies mentioned to assist readers in loving their own lives.  And Mrs. Kuykendall did indeed change many things in order to help her appreciate her life more, but I can't help but feel like both the reviewers missed the point of the book.

You see, her life really didn't change during the nine-month experiment, with one noticeable exception: she DID change her work situation to allow more time at home.  I think this is maybe what turned the one reader off immediately.  Not everyone can do this.  In fact, there are probably very few.  Either the income can't be spared, or the type of work just doesn't allow for location flexibility.  I don't get the sense that this involved a drop in income for the author's family, but in many people's cases, it would.  Rather, it seems like she just stepped back from a few responsibilities and made some changes so that more of her work could be done from anywhere, rather than at the office.  As far as I can tell, that was the only change she made to her circumstances, but granted, it's a pretty significant one.

But the rest were changes that could have been made whether her work situation had changed or not, and I think it's key to understand that. The changes she made, she made to herself.  Her thinking, her attitude, her routine, her outlook on life.  It's generally virtually impossible to change the things that make up our lives ~ the people we share it with, the responsibilities we have, the circumstances that shape our days ~ so the changes have to be personal, and she recognizes that.  And determines to do something about it by focusing on one aspect of her life each month, deciding what changes she might try making in order to make that aspect of her life more enjoyable or flow more smoothly, and then tracking her progress.  Sometimes, she discovers what she was doing all along worked just fine, sometimes she discovers what works only after discovering what doesn't, but each month, she finds herself appreciating what's right in front of her a little more.  I'd call that success.

I also find it inspiring and encouraging.  She's pretty open about her failures, her challenges, her strengths, and weaknesses.  I find myself wanting to try a similar experiment now, too.  And she DOES actually offer a nice long list of suggestions for areas and specifics to think about when considering your own experiment at the end of the book.  How you implement them or if you try something completely different is up to you.

And I think it's certainly worth a shot.  Most of us could stand to appreciate our lives, exactly as they are right now, a little more.


Practicing Gratitude [10.06]

>> Thursday, October 6, 2016

Tuesday was one of those days.  Cold. Wet. Windy... MISERABLE.

The kind of day I'm most likely to complain about.

But I've really been trying to impress upon myself and my family the value of looking on the bright side of any situation and so as I drove to work, I decided I'd better practice up a little.

I decided it was the perfect day for working indoors, which I do; the perfect day for a job that is not weather-dependent.  And yes, curling up on the couch with my second cup of coffee, my husband, and Sports Centre after the girls left for school would have been preferable to going out to the garage in the rain, getting into a cold car, and heading to work, but I had to remember that I CHOSE to get a job.

Which made me thankful that I'd been in a position to make that decision in the first place.  I didn't HAVE to go to work.  I'm grateful I wasn't forced to at the whim of a dictator, or because of some out-of-control indebtedness, or the absence of a hard-working, capable, wage-earning spouse.  We simply decided it was a good time for me to return to the workforce.

Which made me grateful I could just accept a job that's been sitting in my lap for a long time already.  I didn't have to search; I didn't have to knock on doors or make cold calls.  I didn't even have to hand out resum├ęs.  I didn't have to prepare for interviews and I didn't have to wait nervously for the phone to ring with news of whether or not I'd gotten a job.  I didn't have to deal with rejection.  And I love the people I work for and with.

But I'm learning something new and detail-sensitive and intimidating, and it feels like I spend so much time completely lost, just staring blankly at the paperwork and computer screens in front of me.  I feel like I've been thrown into the deep end ~ the deep, DEEP end.  But a co-worker made a comment that helped me see it not as a problem, but as a compliment.  She pointed out our boss must have great confidence in me if I've been tasked with this responsibility.  I hope she's right.  That's how I'm choosing to think about it, in any case.  And that makes me want to continue, to persevere, even when I'm frustrated.  I'm thankful for the perspective she helped me find. (and I'm VERY thankful for a patient boss!!)

And in the evening, there was a warm supper, and relaxing on the couch with my girls and watching an episode of Gilmore Girls and laughing at the wonderful quirkiness therein.  That was followed by some fresh-baked buns and other prep to ensure another nice, warm supper would be ready the next night after work.  And then there was some cuddling up on the couch with The Man and a cup of tea and a wildcard baseball game.  (Which the Jays won spectacularly in the 11th inning, I might add ~ woot!)

Which reminded me to be grateful for a warm home, warm food, and warmth in our family relationships.  And I'm SO thankful we don't just have to watch annoying kiddie shows with the girls anymore!

And then I showered and brushed my teeth and crawled into bed while the wind continued to howl, and I was thankful all over again for a cozy home and soft, snuggly, fleece sheets.  And toothpaste.  And indoor plumbing.

By most counts, Tuesday was a terrible day ~ cold and windy and wet and miserable.

But that's exactly what made it the perfect day for counting my blessings.



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