>> Monday, October 24, 2016

So, fall is upon us.  Sheesh, looking out the window the last few weeks, you'd've thought WINTER was underway!  It was gross.  Two days of wind and almost non-stop rain, which became another four days of rain and snow flurries, followed by cloudy windy days and then more rain... Seriously.  We had a beautiful day the first of October and the next one didn't come until the 21st ~ and that was after a rainy morning!  The three intervening weeks were just one cold, grey bag of suck.  I am not even exaggerating.  This does not bode well.  I was still banking on a chance to rake the other half of my house and mow the lawn one more time!  Now it will take forever before it's dry enough.  I feel for those farmers who weren't done harvest yet.

School started last month, of course.  The girls were excited to get back into a regular routine, if not necessarily the school requirement of it.  AJ is now in the junior high and Mack started high school.  For AJ the format and people didn't change a whole lot, just the location, but Mack's entire school experience is new ~ new school, longer class times, the semester system, exams, not necessarily having her friends in all her classes.  Not to mention all the homework.  Yikes!  For Mack, the transition has been a challenge.

For me personally, this has also be a season of major change.  I accepted a permanent, 3/4-time position at the accounting firm where I've worked the last several tax seasons.  For four days a week ~ year round ~ I will be at the office all day instead of puttering around the house.  It isn't just a huge transition for me, alone, but for the whole family as well.

In light of the post about how I prefer to earn my aches and pains, and especially the post about not liking the person I become when my focus is work outside the home, I felt more than a little hypocritical committing to a 30-hr workweek so soon after deciding against it.  I really struggled with that.  I still do.  I still often feel like it just became about being able to increase our recreational spending.  And I miss being at home.  I never minded making the girls' lunches, and now I actually MISS it.  It feels wrong to expect The Man to make his own fresh veggie containers to take for his lunches.

But then I add up the expenditures this year on things beyond our control ~ $3500 in vehicle repairs over the last few months; a back-taxes bill of $7000 resulting from the government's decision to reassess a couple of old tax returns; and a couple of other, only slightly smaller expenses ~ and I think this job was God's way of providing for those financial burdens.  He knew they were coming long before we did.

The girls are older now, too.  We're not concerned about them becoming latchkey kids anymore, and requiring them to develop cooking and housekeeping skills is good for them.  That wasn't happening while I could just do everything while they were at school.  It was tough for them at first, to accept the idea that I wouldn't be at home when they got home.  I think there was a measure of security they felt they were losing.  But really, I'm much closer to them during the day now ~ both schools are within easy walking distance of the office.  And should either of them need a ride home in the middle of the day due to illness, I have the freedom to do that.  And it won't require an extra trip into town to pick them up.  (except on my days off!)

I still get more satisfaction from a day at home of baking, housekeeping, and yardwork; the opportunities just come less often.  Which actually seems to be helping me savor the labor where I didn't before.  It also seems to be helping me get more done in the time I have at home.  It seems that when you have less time, you waste less time.

I really miss being able to go for a walk virtually any and every day of the week though.  There just isn't time at the end of the workday, and the odd evening when I do feel like I have the time, my hip/back has already called it a day.  Plus, now it's dark after supper.  But this, too, makes the walks I DO take on the weekends that much more enjoyable.  Like a literal AND figurative breath of fresh air in my week.

So we are still adjusting; there are still kinks in the routine.  Sometimes, even though I think I've prepped everything ahead of time and/or delegated supper duty effectively, we still don't end up eating till almost an hour later than usual.  I get frustrated that I still seem to be the only one who notices what hasn't been done around the house or who knows how a clean bathtub or a swept floor should look.  But we're getting there.

At least it's all feeling pretty routine around here again.

Thanksgiving Falling Leaves 


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.


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