Belonging Nowhere…

Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit anywhere.  My kids are spread over such a large age gap that it is hard to fit sometimes with a mom with only 2 somewhere in the middle of mine.

I’ve had 4 midwife assisted home births and a hospital birth.  I’ve done preschool for 2 and not for 3.  I’m a paradigm really.

I home school my youngest son, but I don’t really fit in that group either.  I’m not a home school die hard.  I’m not a stay at home mom.  I don’t have exceeding amounts of patience.

I believe in the public school system.  I have 4 children in it and all have done well there.

But I believe it isn’t set up for everyone.  Certainly my youngest was failed by it.  But no one system can meet every need in a community.

I don’t plan on home schooling until he graduates.  It may happen that it becomes that l, but it isn’t my plan.

I just don’t really fit anywhere.  Some parents in the school just think I don’t support the school any more because I home school.  That isn’t true.  Although I don’t support them to meet my son’s needs, but that’s why I home school.

So I often find myself displaced among parents I am with.  I am a square peg in a round hole.  I just don’t quite fit.  And I’m not willing to shave the edges to make it fit.

I am me.  This is my life.  And I like my life.  I do my best to make the best choices in every situation I am in. I do my best to make the best decisions for each of my unique children.  Take me or leave me.  It’s ok.  I really only want takers who want me for all of me anyway!

20 Years of Loving, Living, Sharing, Learning, Caring Together…

Recently Jason and I have been looking into a nice hot getaway, for just the 2 of us.  For a whole week!

Our 20th anniversary is quickly approaching and it’s simply time.  We’ve gone away for a night a number of times.   For 2 a couple of times.  Never more than 2.  Our kids are older now and I am itching to have my husband for myself for a short while.  Free of interruptions and commitments.  Free of other people’s problems to solve…namely the kids!  LOL!

It is quite easy to find places for our oldest 4 to stay for a week.  Generally they are all eagerly and warmly welcomed.  They are all very good kids.

Our youngest is the challenge.  He’s a great kid.  But to say he’s a handful is an understatement.  He simply requires the right touch.  We have part of a week of care possibly worked out for him.  In a real pinch we could bring him along.  I found one place I’d love to go that he would stay and eat for free, so he’d actually save us money to come along.  And they have free children’s programs from 10 to 5 daily.  So we’d still get lots of free time together.  But the other kids would hate him for it!

As Jason and I have been seriously trying to make this anniversary celebration work I’ve been reminded over and over how grateful I am for my husband and my marriage.

I know people who are divorcing or separated or widowed or just simply struggling in their marriages.  Every time I hear of these it breaks my heart.

My marriage is no picnic.  It hasn’t been a walk in the park.  We’ve had our struggles.   A few years ago Jason left for a few weeks while he sorted through some issues and sought counselling.  It was very difficult.  And we didn’t tell a soul.  I’m not sure that anyone even today, until now – as I publicize it for the world to see – ever knew.  We were ashamed that it had come to that.  And we didn’t want anyone to know.

It was short lived.  He moved back in after a few weeks and with the counselling he had new boundaries and we could be together again.

That isn’t to say that our marriage was perfect following that.  But we were committed to working it out.

I have an amazing marriage!  I have a husband who still asks me what I want to order when we go to Wendy’s, even though it is exactly the same thing every time.  He does this because he loves me and he doesn’t ever assume that he knows me so well that I haven’t changed.

Neither of us are the same people we were 20 years ago.  We have both grown and changed.  BUT we have done our best to grow and change together.

The best lesson I learned in my marriage, probably a decade or so ago, was that Jason couldn’t meet all my needs and it was unfair of me to expect him to.  He is my absolute best friend.  There is absolutely no doubt about that.  I tell him everything.  He’s my rock and my confident and my inspiration and my true love.  BUT he isn’t my girlfriend.  I need my other friends too.  And my marriage thrives when I am investing in my other friends.

Jason and I have lived our life fully.  We have had adventures and love and sorrow.  We have walked through the heart wrenching, all consuming pain of 5 miscarriages.  That was a fire we walked together.  Sometimes it nearly tore us apart, but we held on and made it through.

We went 7 years without having a date night.  A night out alone without any children or babies.  That’s a LONG time!  I don’t recommend it!  But we made it.  We had no choice.  We had no family close by to watch our kids and we had noone we trusted to watch our kids and we had no money to pay someone to watch our kids.  If you can help a young family out by watching their kids for free so they can get out alone together…do it.  Even just a half hour for a walk is a generous gift to their marriage and their family!

I can truly say that I love my husband more today than I did 20 years ago.  And I can honestly say that every valley and canyon and pit we walked through and clawed our way out of, drew us closer together and strengthened our marriage.

I remember on our youngest son’s 3 month birthday I took him to the emergency room for a hernia that we had known about.  We had seen a pediatrician 2 days before and she was going to schedule him for a routine day surgery in the near future when there was an opening.

He couldn’t wait that long.  That was monday afternoon.  Wednesday morning my happy happy boy was in terrible  pain and as it turned out he would be the most severe hernia repair our surgeon had ever seen.  That’s saying a lot since she’s the Dr who TEACHES  the other Dr’s.  Luckily we wouldn’t find that our until his 6 week post surgery check up!

I remember at the time there was 1 person I felt I could call who would be able to and willing to watch my 4 kids so Jason could be at my side with our sick little guy.  Our good friend was unable to come.  I never told her why I needed her and I’m not sure she ever put it all together.  She would have come had I laid it out plainly but she wasn’t in a good space then and I wasn’t willing to burden her more.

So 1 person came and joined me for a few hours that first night.  A friend’s daughter came and watched our children for 2 hours so Jason could come see our son and me for an hour.  And I stayed alone by our little boy’s bed all night.  I never left his side.  I held him as best I could though all his tubes and wires.  And tried my best to comfort my hungry hungry little guy.  You see he wasn’t allowed to nurse for 12 hours before the surgery.  And then the surgery got post poned and delayed and post poned again and again.  Finally as evening approached and after we had been told to nurse him because the surgery wouldn’t be until the next day….a nurse came running down and told me the surgery would be now….if I hadn’t fed him yet.  Luckily I hadn’t.   I was for some reason hoping that my begging them to not make him go hungry another day and a half would see results.  Our surgeon was amazing!  She had had 2 emergency surgeries that day a mother and a baby.  And she stayed to do my son’s surgery…so he wouldn’t go another day hungry and on big pain medications.

I wanted Jason by my side.  But that wasn’t our story.  We had 4 other kids to think of too.  But we made it.  Our marriage made it.

After 20 years we fight big.  But we love bigger.  We compromise.  We give.  We take.  Our love is strong.  But we’ve learned not to assume we know the other person so well that we don’t keep getting to know them or that they have not changed.  My marriage is more fulfilling after 20 years than it ever has been.  Our intimacy is deeper and closer and stronger and greater.

It is kind of funny.  Last week my oldest son was telling me not to yell at him.  I wasn’t.   I looked at him and I told him that I was a passionate person and so being passionate about something doesn’t mean I’m angry or yelling.

Jason was there too.  And since then he has changed his vocabulary too.  He used to tell everyone to calm down and not be mad.  What he realized was that we aren’t usually mad.  We are passionate.  Passionate is loud and can be forceful and engaging.  But it isn’t angry.  So, after 20 years he has learned something new too.

I would marry Jason again in a heartbeat.  I would marry him again  even if I knew how he would break my heart after our first miscarriage when we dealt with our grief in such different ways.  I would marry him again in a second even knowing the financial strain we would endure for years and the stress it would cause.  I would marry him again right now even knowing how each of our selfishness would deeply wound the other.

Why?  Because our marriage has been my absolute greatest joy in life!  Our troubles and trials and heartbreak, has brought us closer.  We have walked through the fires of life and we have been burned TOGETHER!  We trust each other.  We know that we will always have the other at our side and that as long as we are together we will never be alone.  This life isn’t an easy one.  But I know that with Jason by my side I am a better person and I can take on the challenges this life holds!

Jason and I are 2 different people and we will always disagree and argue.  But we will also always work it out and get through it.

Marriages that put the time into working it out and clawing their way through, are marriages that are strong and resilient.

I know that I can never give up on our marriage.  I know that I must work on our marriage every single day.  When I become complacent our marriage suffers.  I don’t have a picture perfect marriage.  But I have an amazing marriage with an amazing and godly man!  I have a marriage I find fulfillment in.  I have a marriage that supports and encourages my hopes and dreams.  I have a marriage that endures my grief and pain and sorrow.  And I have a marriage that triumphs and celebrates my successes and happiness.

So, as I approach my 20th wedding anniversary….I am deeply satisfied and content with my life.

And I encourage everyone who is married to never give up on their marriage.  I encourage you to never check out.  Never take your relationship for granted.  Trust me, if you can walk through the fires and struggles and heartache…there is deep deep contentment and trust and love waiting on the other side.  I won’t lie.  Marriage is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done!  It requires my constant attention.  If I go on auto pilot it all falls to pieces.  No one really tells you how much work marriage is, how much sacrifices.  No one tells you how much you will give up when you are married.  But let me tell you this….it’s all worth it!  It’s worth the fight!

Every night I get to lie in bed beside my husband and our bodies fit perfectly together.  I get to feel his strong arms around me and I feel safe and secure.  I see him at his best and his worst.  And he sees me at my best and worst.  And he is there.  He is present.  He is my rock.  He knows what I’m feeling by glancing at me, when no one else does.   He is my rock.  And that is what comes from 20 years of loving and living and never giving up on our marriage.

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100 Day…

Today at the Kianna’s school is 100 day.  Meaning it’s halfway through the school year.  The kids go to school 200 days here.

With 100 day quickly approaching I have been doing some evaluating and trying to figure out if Keilan is where he is supposed to be, half way through grade 2.  Especially since the first 3 months were a complete write off.  I am pretty concerned he’s not behind his where he should be in grade 2.

So, I was looking at his math last night. It’s a on-line program.  He’s 66% done grade 2.  Not bad at all considering I made him start at the kindergarten level in mid December.

And his reading comprehension he completed another small level yesterday.   That makes him 25% done grade 3.  Also not bad considering he started at beginning of level 2 in the fall and all but 1 of those books he’s read at home.  And that’s like about 150.  150 books with 10 comprehension questions per book.  And you don’t pass a book until you get all the answers correct.  And you have to read a vast variety of books, some of which do not interest you at all.

He’s finished his first unit in science on the human body.  It would have taken 3 months in school.  We did it in 2.  He knows more than his 7th grade sister now.  Not bad at all.

I guess I can say that with this evaluation he is doing all right at home schooling….

Another few months to go…and then we can have a break!

Loving Extravagantly…

Jason and I were convicted last week that we needed to love people extravagantly.  We needed to take the initiative and look for ways to show people that they are loved and cared for.

In the past week this idea has snowballed.

It began with a gift of movies and games and treats. As it turned out the person who we were giving it to was sick.  So it was perfect.  Then it was some frozen meals for a family who is very busy.

Then we had the opportunity to gift our bunk beds to someone who can use them.  And today as I looked at my table covered in food storage containers, I clearly saw that I could part with some.  I thought immediately of someone who could potentially be blessed through my purge.  And yes indeed, I can gift them in that direction.

It has been quite interesting as Jason and I have been actively looking for ways to love people extravagantly.

It isn’t about spending a lot of money.  We are just making ends meet, Jason is now 2 paychecks behind and may be 3 soon.  But we aren’t in need.  We are doing OK.  Certainly all our needs have been provided for.

This is about looking past people on the surface and looking to see if there something I can do or say or give that will meet a need they have.

The more intentional Jason and I are with the looking, the more people it seems God puts in our path for loving.

But at the end of the day…it is us who are blessed.

We recently realized in a marriage event we were at that we, like many others lived our life as though our greatest need was to be loved.  In fact, our greatest need is to BE love.  We need to love extravagantly.

Although the teaching was in the context of marriage, we immediately felt it went beyond that.  We felt it went into our brokenness and loneliness in relationships.  I especially was looking for others to love me so I would be happy.  Instead I should have been looking to BE love to others so I would be content.

So, we are excited to see 4 opportunities we have been given this week alone to BE love and love extravagantly.  And we are excited to see the future opportunities that we will encounter.  May we stay open to loving and giving and may we be ever aware of those around us and keep actively looking and listening for ways to love more extravagantly.

Plan A… More Than Just Getting By

A year and a half ago our family downsized.  Boy did we ever downsize.  We got rid of HALF of our stuff.  HALF.

We moved to a MUCH smaller home with lower rent and no garage.  The children shared rooms.  And I REFUSED to get a storage locker for all of our tools and sports equipment and stuff that belonged in the garage we no longer had.

My reasoning….we need to SAVE money and get enough to buy a home.

Along the way to saving….life and orthodontist has gotten in the way.  BUT we have slowly managed to save bit by bit.  Finally when we are really beginning to gain some traction….life happens.

We had a decision to make.  It was extremely clear to Jason and I that we had two choices.  Move to a larger house or kick our oldest child out.

So we began looking.  Luckily for us rent has come down HUGE in the last year and a half!  But it would still mean moving costs and stress and more monthly rent.

Since August Jason has been renting a small storage locker for his business paperwork and stuff.  I couldn’t stand tripping over his boxes any longer and there was no where at all to put them in our home.

In our rental home quest we came across something we haven’t been able to find before.  An affordable garage to rent.

So, we looked at it and jumped on it.  By eliminating the storage locker and gaining a double garage we actually will only pay $50 a month more than we already do.  That’s a no brainer for me!

So we can continue to save, and give our son his own bedroom. AND get the 4 kayaks out of my entryway! And remove all Jason’s tools and grow into clothes and skates and snowshoes and did I say…camping gear!!!!

We will still be in a tight space but hopefully we will be less cluttered and I will feel like I can entertain again.

Having a family of 7 takes room.  Just imagine 7 sets of ice skates and roller blades and life jackets and sleeping bags and snow shoes.  Imagine the food a family of 7 eats.  Imagine the shoes…running shoes and boots and rubber boots and dress shoes…we just take up space.  Lots and lots of it.  And I’ve purged as much as I feel is reasonable.  Of course I DO purge all the time…but there’s nothing more significant left to go; unless we change our lifestyle.  If we don’t camp and kayak and swim and skate and snow shoe…then I have some room.

So, rather than move, this is our solution.  When we can save enough money to buy a home then we will have more room.  Until then the close quarters make us a closer family.