Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reflections on Marriage - part 3

A few other observations about marriage:

*Save money - you will thank me later if you start setting a specific dollar amount aside from every pay check, even if it is only $5 or $10. Saving is like tithing. Ten percent is a great level, but if you can't get there right away, start with what you can and build toward 10% - and more is better. I recently heard about someone who has a "to hell with it" fund. Regular, disciplined saving has helped this individual build a safety net that helps him keep a healthy distance from the anxiety that comes from a difficult job or a difficult "economic downturn."

*Communicate - honestly, often and thoroughly. Leaving things out is still lying. Lying - even by saying "I'm fine" when you're not - leads to frustration or resentment. If you need something in the relationship, ask for it. Your spouse can't read your mind, even if you are convinced that you are "soul mates." Cut him/her some slack - say what you want or need - don't make it a game.

*"The five love languages" has become a frequent way of talking about communication and love in a relationship. In my experience, it is very easy to identify your own love language and then start looking for ways that your spouse speaks it. It might be better in the long run to figure out your spouse's love language and train yourself to *listen* in that language. After 17 years, it is obvious to me that my husband will struggle to speak my love language on a consistent basis. It isn't that he doesn't want to - it just doesn't come naturally. Waiting for it, and not getting it, makes me critical and resentful. It is much better - for both of us - for me to instead hear him in his own language. If I know, for example, that his love language is acts of service, I can choose to see his acts of service in our home and our relationship as his expressions of love rather than crabbing about him not expressing love in the ways I want.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reflections on Marriage - part 2

It is good to be together; it is good to be apart.

Some folks get married and think they are going to spend every possible moment together. After a few weeks they wonder why they are bickering and nitpicking at one another. In my experience, while it is good to have hobbies and activities to share, it is also important to get some space from one another.

When my husband and I got married, we both had an interest in music, movies and books, and we had a shared social group. As the years have gone on, we have found more interests in common. But we also have things that we do on our own. My husband likes to golf, he reads and researches information on entertainment (podcasts, TV shows, movies, etc) and football (specifically the NFL). I like to be crafty, I do things at my son's school, and I read almost constantly. We each go out periodically with friends - but not with one another.

There is a danger of going too far in the other direction, of course, especially as a marriage goes on over the years. If the couple doesn't make a conscious effort to share in interests and activities, they can find themselves living more as roommates than as a couple. Balance is key.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflections on Marriage - part 1

My husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary not long ago and it got me thinking about marriage and what we have learned over the years.

The first thing I have learned is that expectations are everything. When newly married couples are disappointed or fighting, a lot of the time it is because their expectations have not been met. Maybe they expected to want to be together all the time and they discover that they only get on each other's nerves. Maybe one spouse expected the other to do the dishes and the laundry and the other hates household chores. Maybe there are expectations about priorities - where work fits with family and faith. Maybe both extended families expected the happy couple to show up for Christmas so they could celebrate it like they always have - and each spouse expects the same. Someone is going to be disappointed.... or angry.

If those expectations are assumed, but never discussed openly, disappointment is inevitable.It is better to bring expectations out into the open - talk about them upfront, seek consensus, and you can avoid (some) strife.

I would love to hear what you have learned about relationships or marriage. What do you think about expectations?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Children Crave... Part 3

Observation #3 - Children Crave Value

Children want to be valued - they want someone to believe in them.

I had a student in Writing Club who had finished the story she was working on about a month or so before the end of the year. Then she decided to test out some poetry. Around this same time, her aunt passed away.

One day she came to my desk to show me her poem. It was beautiful. I told her I thought she should showcase it in our final presentation for club. My suggestion seemed to catch her off guard. I think she was just looking for something to write to fill time in club, but this was a piece that needed to be seen. She told me later that her grandmother had been at the final program and was touched by her poem. 

Children want to be valued for who they are, for the gifts they have, for the things they have to share.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What Children Crave... Part 2

Observation #2 - Children crave connection.

Children want to be connected to people - to their peers, to their families, and to others. This goes with "being known," but it doesn't have the same depth.

For example, the other day, one of my Writing Club students escorted my son to the car at dismissal. She was working as one of the safety patrol students that day. I noticed that she brought my son to the car, and then kept looking over her shoulder as she started to walk away. Once the back door of the car was open and I could make eye contact with her, I smiled and waved. She got a big grin on her face and then hurried back to her task. 

I didn't have time to call her by name or reference something that showed I knew her on a deeper level. I just renewed our connection with some eye contact, a smile and a wave and that was enough. 

I saw another student at a local shop. I left my family to go over and say hello and she jumped up from her chair to give me a hug.

I didn't do anything extraordinary in either of these situations. I just made the smallest bit of effort and said hi. But it mattered to them - they were looking for it and they responded to it.

Children crave connection

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Children Crave... Part 1

After another year spent in the classroom (this year as a sub and as a volunteer leading a weekly Creative Writing Club), I have observed a few trends with my students - things I think kids are looking for.

Why should you care? Maybe you are like me - maybe you like kids. Maybe you have stories and experiences that match up with mine and confirm my observations.

Some people don't like kids - they like their own kids, but not other people's. Maybe you want to like kids but you are afraid of them, or just don't "get" them. Maybe the observations of others will encourage you to connect with a kid some time.
Observation #1 - Kids crave being known by someone.

Have you ever called a kid by the wrong name - especially the name of a sibling? Whew - they don't like it. They want to be known for themselves. They want to know you are paying attention and you remember who they are.

At the end of Writing Club this year, I made the students journals. Each one was a standard composition book. Then I printed up a name card for each student (with alphabets from Lettering Delights) using a font that I thought fit that student. When I had students say, "How did you know I liked...?" I knew I had found something important in my relationship with students. I needed to know them as individuals. I needed to know them by name, know something about what they did with their free time, what they were interested in. 

Kids want to be known.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Scrapbook love

My family also let me spend some time at the scrapbook store last weekend where I found all sorts of goodies - beautiful papers, peacock stamps, and other little treats.

But the highlight of the trip had to be this:
Star Wars and Lego products! I am envisioning clip boards and scrapbook pages and all sorts of fun things. Can't wait to dig into my new stash and start creating!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cross Stitch love

This past weekend my family took me to the cross stitch store. I found a few fun patterns (including one for a gift that I didn't post here) and learned a few things.

1) There is something inspiring about seeing models of the patterns up close and personal. To see the stitches, the beautiful linens, etc. makes me want to stitch all day long. 

2) Shopping online does not allow me to be inspired in the same way a trip to the store does. Unfortunately, the store is out of our way, and more expensive than shopping online. 

3) If I want the ability to be inspired by seeing finished work in person, though, I have to pay the higher store prices or the store will cease to be there. I've seen it happen countless times before.

So, I am looking forward to stitching up some new patterns and trying to hold on to the inspiration I felt this weekend for as long as I can. Then maybe another trip will be in the cards for me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day Perfection!

I enjoyed a perfect Mother's Day weekend. First, my son declared it "Mother's Week," so I enjoyed a week of extra hugs and kisses.

Then this weekend, there was minimal cooking at our home - we enjoyed a dinner out for Chinese, one day, a lunch out for past another day, and pizza and ice cream on a third. The only meal cooked here was my breakfast in bed for Sunday morning!

On Saturday my family took me to all my favorite places - the cross stitch store, the scrapbook store, and the bookstore.


Later this week I'll share some of my "finds" from the weekend.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The year is a third over!

Hard to believe that we are already through a little more than a third of the year. One of the bloggers I follow, Christina Katz, blogged recently about her accomplishments so far this year. She encouraged her reader to do likewise. Here's mine:

1. I read 112 books from January 1 through April 30, 2010. That includes a good number of picture books, which are fast reads, but more "chunky" books, too.

2. I have maintained two blogs this year.

3. I started a new job

4. I have implemented systems to encourage my son to keep reading and keep working on the piano and they seem to be working.

5. I wrapped up the first year of Creative Writing Club at my son's school.

6. I made 31 journals for my writing club students.

7. I am 3 lessons away from completing the Apprentice course through Christian Writer's Guild.

Not as many things as I would have expected if you had asked me in January. But considering that I am working regularly outside my home now, I think this is pretty good. Feeling content with most aspects of my life, and still thinking about how I want to invest my energy and time.

So, how about you? Feeling accomplished so far this year?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Dream Lives On

One of my goals for 2010 was to make a quilt. Then I started working and I pretty much scrapped all of my goals for the year. But my dream to make a quilt is alive again.

Thanks to U Create, I found this blog that walks readers through making your first quilt. It is easy to follow and I love the idea of creating with others. It's like a support group!

Just after finding this blog, I talked to one of the women who lead a quilting club at my son's school. As I looked wistfully at the quilts students have completed this year, she told me they quilt at the school for about 6 hours every Saturday. Six hours? Wow! And she said they have enough supplies on hand that my first quilt would be free....

I'm trying to be realistic about my commitments, but I think I might give it a try this fall. If I do, I'll post progress pictures!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Books, books, books

I've been enjoying a bit of a book bonanza lately.

Thanks to Michael Hyatt's blog (which is a great one, by the way), I won a copy of The Revolutionary Paul Revere.

Then, a few weeks ago I was invited to review the spring releases from a children's publisher, Tiger Tales (even their logo is cute!). I LOVED almost every title they sent me. It was such a treat! Some of my favorites were Bella the Birthday Party, The Fairy Ball (Bella), and The Best Pet Ever. I was all set to give the books away once I finished reading them, but my son grabbed two and put them on his shelf!

Then, the same week I received the books from Tiger Tales I got a copy of a book for middle-grade readers from a self-published author. I am still getting around to that one, but it looks promising.

It has been a good time to be a book-lover in our house!

[I am an Amazon Associate. If you click to Amazon from my blog and buy something, I get a small percentage of the purchase price.]