Monday, July 26, 2010

Maybe We Shouldn't Be Allowed to Care for Living Creatures...

The animals are plotting against us I think. First it was Ted the hermit crab. The other day while I was at work I came home and found Huston and Steven searching the living room for him. Huston loves to build Ted little "castles" out of his building blocks. He's done this for some time. He'll build the latest style in crab habitats and then go retrieve Ted for a little time away from home: a hermit crab vacation.

The problem comes in the fact that Huston is not a very sound engineer, nor is he very knowledgeable concerning the abilities of his hermit crab. Many times his structures are viewed more as an challenge of escape by Ted than they are a lovely vacation home. And he has often times succeeded in his escape.

Usually we are not too far away from him and can quickly locate him when he shows off his Houdini-like skills... but this weekend was a different story. It seems that the rest of the family took a trip to a local park while Ted was in one of these temporary Huston-designed structures. About an hour later the jail break was discovered. As I walked in they were searching the living room - the scene of the crime.

I took over the search from Steven and Isaiah, Huston and I looked everywhere - we eventually just sent Huston to bed because he just wasn't handling the situation very well - a little frantic, a little overeactive, and a great big bundle of panic and tired. Isaiah picked up all the toys and ummm... junk all over the floor while I also helped straighten and moved the furniture. We looked every.where. No Ted. I eventually found him in the next room hanging out with some dust bunnies in the furthest corner he could find under a bookshelf... confirming that Huston just has no idea how to architecturally please his crab. (He needs dark creepy cave places, not roofless baby block condominiums).

That experience ended well... but today's experience not so much.

Our poor little Chicky has flown the coop. Once again, I would like to let the reading public know that I was out of the house at work during the time of the incident. Today I returned home from town just ahead of a slight thunderstorm. Usually when it storms we cover Chicky's little chicken coop to protect it from the rain and wind - the coop only has chicken wire on the sides. I jumped out the van and ran to get the job done and that's when I discovered the bird was missing. Very, very sad.

Steven and I looked everywhere. All the kids were sleeping at the time (miracle, I know!) and I really dreaded them waking up. Isaiah and Huston were the first to hear of the unfortunate news. Seems as though the chicken was left unattended outside of his cage - so who knows what exactly happened. I'm betting that some bird of prey snatched him up for his lunch. :(

The boys of course cried... and are this very moment outside with their rain jackets searching for their beloved Chicky. I really have very little hope that it will be found, but crazier things have happened. It's a hard lesson to learn, but maybe they will be a bit more responsible when caring for their critters? One can only hope. This is only a small taste of what it's like to watch your kids struggle through bad choices and let me tell ya, it stinks!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just Had To Share...

So last night I was looking through one of my many resources to use in a future lesson plan for the preschool classes at church and I ran across this picture and laughed. out. loud...

Seems to me that Job had a few more difficult "troubles" to deal with in his life, but ya know, this is for a preschool audience I suppose...

Go ahead a click on it to make sure you can read the subtitle. Ahh, this picture is a gem.

My mom did point out that his house is crumbling in the background as well... but the "aw shucks" expression on his face is priceless. I wonder if Job is aware of how he is (at times) portrayed down here on earth... I wonder if he commiserates with some of the other great Biblical characters....

"I lose my family, my livestock, my wealth, my health, the respect of my wife and friends and how do they depict me?? Worrying over a broken wheel on my vegetable cart... sheesh."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

And What Do I Do Now?

I sent Isaiah off to church camp today. He will be gone for approximately 74 hours, is an hour and a half away, with kids that are mostly a grade older than he is, and there is very little way to check on him... yeah, I'm fine, why do you ask?

Seriously though, this kid has been ready to go for months - he had a countdown calendar in his room. I never thought my cautious, timid first born would be so gung-ho to leave his family and house behind to go spend time with complete strangers at camp, but he is. (ooh, sudden thought, does this mean we, his beloved family, annoy him that much?) I won't dwell on that.

So the very afternoon Isaiah takes off for camp guess what Huston does? He falls asleep and takes a 2 hour nap... coincidence? I think not.

Huston becomes a different person when Isaiah is gone; he calms down, he plays better with his younger siblings, he rests, he's a bit more outgoing and a bigger help around the house. He's capable of doing lots of responsible things... but when Isaiah's around? He reverts to a whiny, manipulative, overly tired because he refuses to rest, must follow Isaiah's lead at all costs, and fall to pieces if he's wronged type of guy. *sigh*

So what's the solution? I don't know. I wish I did. I praise Huston immensely when he is the big responsible brother and I tell him that he can be that way when Isaiah is around too. I tell him that big and helpful Huston is his true self and he should be that personality no matter who is around. When Isaiah is home, I plead with Huston to rest (he never sleeps), I attempt to give him responsibilities (he'll often want Isaiah to help him or he'll pout that he has to do it), I tell him over and over again that he doesn't have to throw a fit when something doesn't go as planned... and punish him when he chooses to throw that fit (he hasn't thrown even one today)... I've done all that I know to do besides kick Isaiah out of the house (which is not an option, just to clarify).

It's an odd sibling dynamic for sure, they can't live with each other but most importantly they can't live without one another either. They truly love being together. Maybe I'll try switching up the roommates... maybe I'll give Isaiah and Avery a trial run at bunking together - Avery is strong willed enough to not give Isaiah's instructions a second thought, and if Huston rooms with Lillie maybe that will give him the confidence to be the responsible one... that might help.

But still I'm curious what others have experienced... has anyone out there in cyberspace experienced parenting siblings that seem to bring out the worst in each other at times? What did you do about it - cuz for us the root of the problem is that the kids don't even recognize the difference in how they act when they are apart, and it's hard to work to change a habit that doesn't seem to be identified.

Friday, July 16, 2010

As Long As Ye Both Shall Live

I didn't mean to leave that last post hangin' there for so long. Yes it was a rather random complainy type post again, but for good reason.

I've witnessed quite a few crumbling marriages here lately... and the one of the biggest problems in my non-expert opinion that is contributing to this far reaching problem is a direct violation of the definition of "love."

I don't think a lot of people have any clue what love is. We throw around the word too carelessly for one thing, but the media and society in general does an abominable job in portraying an accurate depiction of what sincere love lived out looks like. We think we have to feel happy and satisfied all the time... that the happiness and satisfaction will come from our spouse when in fact complete fulfillment can only come in making God happy, not ourselves.

That little list I wrote in the last post is just the tip of the iceberg in a long list of things that I or Steven could write that drives one of us crazy. I guarantee that we are not the same person and we often view life from two totally different perspectives... but if we sat around and kept becoming frustrated over each others differences we will only grow further and further apart.

One of the many criteria of true love is that it keeps no record of wrongs. If I fumed and got all hot and bothered every time Steven violated something on "my list" I would be a terrible person to live with. Some of the wrongs that occur are simple and petty like my last post. Who really cares what the sheets on the bed look like in the grand scheme of things? Other wrongs that occur hurt deeply and take awhile to heal... but we really shouldn't give up.

Here are my feeble attempts at offering advice on how to deal with a difficult marriage...

1. Laugh about it - come on, some of it is funny... it hurts at times, but we can find the humor even in the tough stuff.
2. Lower your expectations - don't expect your spouse to meet all of your needs - they are human and they are going to let you down... extend to them grace when they do.
3. Involve yourself in something that you enjoy - don't look to your spouse for total happiness. If you could find something that the two of you enjoy together that is best, but nevertheless, if you become involved in something that brings you some fulfillment you won't be requiring so much from your spouse and your overall outlook will be a brighter one.
4. Find one or two good friends to tell all your troubles to - don't go blabbing around to everyone how terrible things are, but instead find a good strong friend that will allow you vent but doesn't join in your pity party. Meaning, someone that will let you air out your frustrations but won't then trash your spouse. It's good to vent, but it's not good to wallow.

If we all remembered that this marriage thing was supposed to be long term and that divorce is simply trading out problems, I think people would work so much harder at getting it right. Today's throw away society has put marriage in the same trash can as last year's broken toaster. It deserves much more respect than that.

I hope my last post was taken for the list of ridiculousness that was intended. Yes, I drive my husband just as crazy as he can drive me at times, but it is so worth the hard work and craziness. (and yes, he still fills the dishwasher incorrectly... ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Have A Moment

and I don't have a thing of importance to write about.

I sounded rather crabby in my last post and I apologize for that - but you know sometimes I just have to let those little frustrations out.

To further clarify on one point... I really am not overly offended by Disney - and for full disclosure purposes I want you to know that I've been to both Disney Land and Disney World within my lifetime. I even had a conference at a Disney World Resort a few years ago and I will say that I've never been in a place with so many helpful people ready to make your stay more enjoyable. But I must also say that everything was sickeningly overpriced and unless I lived near there where I could do the season pass thing (like you experienced, Jessica! :) I would just always feel like I could have used my money more wisely - but that's just me and I am in no way trying to steal the magic and fun from someone else. Lots and lots of people have had fabulous times there and I'm glad. I just wish the industry would clean up their movies a bit. Steven and I have coined the term "disney" - it's said anytime we see some sort of groin injury joke in a movie, cuz it just seems like Disney always lowers themselves to that baseline humor. (Again, I think the Pixar offerings are much better).

Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

Now onto more important things - like compromise and concession - which you have to do a lot of in a relationship - especially a marriage.

Some homely jobs and habits change when one establishes a new household. This Spellman house has been established since August of 1999 and there are still a few things that I find very difficult to let go of... for example:

- There is a right way and a wrong way to load a dishwasher. I won't tell you which one of us is right and which one is wrong, but just be aware that I have been known to undo what has been already been done to suit my particular style... I don't rail him about it, I don't even mention it to him, I just quietly rearrange while muttering under my breath in frustration, shock and surprise that he doesn't realize the obvious. (utensils go in handle down and plates lean back instead of forward...)

- Sheets should match. It's a sheet set for a reason. The pillow case should match the flat sheet, which should match the fitted sheet and in the winter the heavier blanket should be in a similar color scheme. Folks don't sleep well when their sheets are mismatched, I'm sure of it.

- Containers should use their lids. That's why they have them. When we have leftovers it does not do to simply plop it into a container and then lay a piece of loose fitting plastic wrap on top. But it's much worse to just sit the cooking pot full of leftover food in the refrigerator without bothering with a storage container. Containers store, pots cook.

- After emptying a sink of dishes the sink should then be wiped down and the garbage disposal run. Nothing terrible will happen if the garbage disposal switch is flipped... unless you're a piece of leftover food.

- The shower curtain should be pulled "closed" after a shower - then all those little mildewy things won't breed and multiply. It's not a science experiment, it's a shower curtain.

But I will tolerate all of these things and usually don't say much because in the end I'm very glad that he will empty a sink full of dishes and will make beds and will clean up after supper, cuz heck you don't find that too often in a husband - and he's definitely a keeper... just there are times I wish he would see my correct side of things.

So I have learned to compromise (like when I do the jobs, I can do it my way) and concede (when he does the jobs... I will try to beat him to it the next time) and will be all the happier for it. And I promise, the next post won't be complainy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Few Things I Just Don't Get...

Warning: Parts of this post may step on toes.

1. Wal-Mart greeters. I mean just by placing an older person or a disinterested teenager at the front entrance of your store to say "welcome" does this sincerely reflect a store that cares? No. What they really need is a sign that says, "come in. find your stuff yourself and spend lots of money. thank you."

2. Disney. Why are all things Disney so darn great? I mean I can't really remember the last time that I deemed a newer Disney feature appropriate for my children. I will say I enjoy most of the Pixar offerings, but Disney itself is lame. And why is it so great to flock to amusement parks filled with adults wearing costumes and requiring parents to dole out tons of money for their child to be happy in "the happiest place on earth"? I'd rather use that money to go somewhere interesting. (and the whole princess stuff kinda makes me throw up...)

3. Following celebrities. Who really cares who is getting a divorce, who has had some sort of body altering surgery, and what new movie role is up and coming for said plasticy faced person? But maybe the more important question is why is this headline news? What's the draw with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? Their weirdos and (sorry, but not that great looking...) and why do we keep putting attention on Kate Gosselin? Please, somebody take the cameras away from that woman and all her children and let them figure out what normal life needs to look like.

4. Children refusing naps. I mean come. on. The whole world is a brighter place if a child would just nap. They feel better, mom feels better, I'm sure it helps them grow more brain cells and actually would help the parent save a few of their own as well. (And trust me, I don't have many left to spare).

5. Twilight. I refuse to get involved. I really know very, very little about it, but it sounds creepy and unnatural. They're teenagers, right? Why are so many women of all ages really so very obsessed with the romantic life of a teenager, vampire or not? Since when did a teenager make good choices in love? Yes, yes there are a few exceptions, but let me assure you they had some growing up to do at some point. Let's for once glorify the growing up part.

I'm done for now. If you have a case that you would like to make for the alternate view to any of the above I would be willing to listen - as long as you are nice.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lillie's First Hair Cut!

I realized it was time. Lillie has grown to be slightly more willing to letting me put her hair up into ponytails lately, but her hair was still so many different layers and I would have to redo it thousands of times a day cuz nothing would stay in place. So it hit me today that I needed to just bob it off. And just like when I decide that I need a hair cut - there was no rest until it was done. As soon as the girl woke up from her nap we hopped in the van and went for a hair cut.

The before pictures...

The during pictures...
The after pictures....

I have no idea why I took so long to do this! It looks so much nicer... and it will grow, maybe, if I let it :) She loves it cuz the boys keep telling her how cute she looks and I love it cuz it's off her neck and doesn't need styling! Win, win!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Change Is Gonna Happen


We've been struggling with some attitudes around here. We're all totally feeding off of each other. I have no idea who started it, but I pray it's about to stop. The perfect storm has cropped up I believe:

1. No structure. I've been enjoying the summer time ease. We've totally fallen off any sort of routine - no definite sitter days, no definite go into the office days, no definite class schedules. Wanna go to the pool for 4 hours? Sure. Wanna have no particular plans for the day and wind up making huge messes and falling into mischief? Why not. All we've got to lose is our sanity.

2. Been a little greedy. The summer time also brings about a few more treat type options. Swimming, sodas, movies, play time, trips, ice cream. All of that is summer fun but too much of it brings about a sense of entitlement and greediness.

3. Lack of spiritual disciplines. This is pointed at myself. I can't blame my 8, 6, 4 and 2 year old for not being disciplined. I read the Bible in 90 days at the beginning of the year and it was awesome. One of the first Bible reading plans that I could stick to. I finished around Easter time and thought to myself, "I've got other irons in the fire right now, I'll hop back on it for another go around in a month or so." The month came and went and I didn't hop back on. In fact I hopped off every other spiritual accountability type thing I was involved in as well. It's been a long dry period and boy is it showing. I also have been neglectful with the daily bible reading I had been doing with the boys. And it's showing there too.

So the answers to my problems are as follows...

1. Today is July 1st - that's significant in one important area - the homeschool calendar begins. Now anything that I do with the kids can be logged for the 2010-11 school year. Hello structure, it's great to see you again.

2. No more toys. Ok, so not that drastic, but I did put a bunch of them away. I hope to be doing more mind expanding type activities. I need to go to our local teacher's store and see if I can find a good messy science experiment book.

3. Less computer time - for me. I can piddle the day away too easily on this thing.

4. Back into daily spiritual disciplines. It's just a matter of doing it.

5. Going to work. This will help me feel less buried and piled on. Once I get my head above water with that area I won't feel overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. I went in with all of my kids today for 2 hours and we cleaned out a whole storage area. They were a great help really in taking things to the dump and moving junk around for me and in between times they played hide and seek in the classrooms. I just need to bite the bullet and take them with me more often I guess.

So anyway. That's what we have in store for us, I pray that we can stick to it and maybe a structured day of goals to attain with help us to fight to accomplish something useful rather than turning on ourselves! (but we'll still go to the pool every chance we get!)


That's my literary attempt at screaming. I've heard a lot of it over the past few days, it comes with the territory in parenting, but we are experiencing a higher rate than usual.

I actually have a scream/fit per hour ratio that helps me determine who will get naps and/or solitary confinement. So far today... they're all goin' down.

Actually, I had one kid that was doing rather well but his grandad just picked him up to take him on a little trip...

Lillie is following me. She is very clingy and needy today and I could handle her if she was the only issue. She just recently came over to me screaming about an "owie!!" which upon further inspection was found to be an ink pen mark. Not worth the drama.

Avery is manic depressive. Up one moment but he's a fragile house of cards that can topple over if the wind shifts. He needs a nap. The big question is: Can I convince him of that?

Huston is the worst at the moment. Screams. about. everything. Has already been sent to and kept in his room on 3 different occasions... and it's just 11:00am. He's going through a grumpy stage... and how he knows to plan his grumpiness to coincide with my monthly grumpy stage, I'll never know.?! (Ok, so some believe that there may be a correlation - and that a "routinely monthly mommy grumpy stage" sets up grumpy behavior in said mommy's children, but I"m not buying it. Sounds like a quack theory to me. Ok, so I'm in denial.)

Huston was sent to his room right at supper time last night because of his fit pitching and he fell asleep at 6:00pm... was hoping that would solve the problems, but notsomuch. He's actually fine if he's by himself.

Isaiah is not in the house. Lucky boy.

Actually, it seems we are all fine if we aren't around each other. Solitary confinement is not a bad thing sometimes. (Right now though, Lillie is in her room by herself yelling, "No Avery!".... Ummm, honey, Avery isn't in here...)