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When it feels like you’re giving up

Sometimes there is a war that wages inside us. On one hand, we know that we aren’t giving up. On the other hand, we feel like we’re giving up. It can be a very disheartening place to be in. Which side will win? Will we collapse with tears of frustration or look forward with hearts of hope? Or maybe we just hang between the two tilting one way and then the other like a coin set precariously on its edge.

I have reached one such moment in my life.

It all started when I started seriously decluttering my home. I knew there would be many easy items. There would also be many difficult items. I knew I would have to face emotions and other unsettling thoughts. Despite knowing that, when my daughter requested a small outfit to dress her monkey in, I found myself looking at a large box that held baby clothes. And since I had it out, I might as well declutter it.

As my daughter grew out of her clothing, I kept some and gave others away. I had been given enough clothing for three wardrobes so it wasn’t too difficult to cull it down to just one wardrobe. I had one large box for newborn to 12 months and another for 12m-2T. That’s pretty good, right? I have even less from 3+ since my sister graciously shared her girls clothing.

It’s just clothes, right?

And actually, it is just clothes. I took those two large boxes down to one small box. That part was not hard. It was very easy to choose which items I wanted to keep and which I didn’t. I found myself flying through those two boxes trying to keep half my mind on my audiobook and not fully on my difficult task.

The hard part was the blow that felt like I was giving up. My daughter is five now. Giving up clothes in a way feels like I am giving up on having another child.

It has been a regular emotional struggle to not be pregnant again. I’m very familiar with this feeling particularly with an irregular cycle. The reminder that it’s worthless to test and to just wait another week. The constant thought in the back of my mind that well, maybe this could finally be it. The stern talk back that I will only be disappointed. And still finding myself with a heavy heart and tear-filled eyes when I am right. The hurt fades away as the hormonal crazies do and the sharp pain can be ignored for a few more weeks.

So now I have less baby clothing which is really okay with me. I’ll be okay when I declutter other baby items. Toys, books (maybe…), cloth diapers. But I’ll still feel that prickle of tears threatening to appear, that stab that says “if you do this, you’re giving up”, and then I’ll turn my God and thank him for my beautiful daughter and pray that I will find peace if I am only sent her. I will pray for others who have the same struggle or similar struggles. And I will pray with the faith of my little daughter that we can have another one.

Will I ever not feel this way? It is difficult to feel like I am giving up.

How to have a tasty bread-less rueben sandwich

rueben sandwiches

 

I’ve had a jar of sauerkraut sitting in my fridge for a while. I won’t even admit to how long it’s been there. I want to like it because of how good it is for my body but man, oh man, it probably will never be one of those foods I eat on its own.

Then in a flash of brilliance, and while standing in line at the deli waiting for my daughter’s requested black forest ham, I saw a package of corned beef and thought “ruebens!” except I don’t really eat bread anymore so would it really taste the same? My answer is that it tastes better. I don’t miss that bready taste (at least in this particular case).

I feel ridiculous calling this a recipe…

Ingredients : deli corned beef, sauerkraut, dressing (Russian or Thousand Island dressing is usual–I had neither on hand so mine consisted of miracle whip nasty, soy sauce, salt, pepper, ketchup…. and Olive Garden’s Italian dressing)

Directions : lay out the corned beef, pile the sauerkraut on top, put some dressing on that, roll, consume.

After adding some fresh veggies to the side (which I probably ate with hummus), I had a delicious good feeling meal.

Abacus and Reading and Independence, Oh My!

It’s been five months since we began this different look at learning. That’s given me five months to think about if it’s working for us, how it’s working for us, how we feel about it, and all that. No two days are alike. Sometimes Kaelyn asks for her workbooks and others she wants to do puzzles. And, well… we love it! There are several reasons for that.

First, the mindset for learning is shifted. Instead of trying to keep our focus trained on learning for a few dedicated hours each day, I look for opportunities to teach how to gain knowledge throughout every single day. Despite sounding like that would be exhausting, I’m really just tuning in to what Kaelyn asks and play acts. I encourage those things and make sure that I’m not taking over for her, directly telling her the answer (at least not all the time), and creating a non-pressured environment to foster interest.

This leads to my second reason which is that my husband can be involved as well. Kaelyn recently asked how fuel makes cars go. While I could have answered, I recognized this as an opportunity for my husband to be involved. Since he wasn’t present at the time, I suggested that she ask Daddy since he knows much more about cars than I do. This left her and not me with the responsibility to seek out further information. When she did ask him a few weeks later, I could hear the happiness in my husband’s voice at being included in her schooling. And just a few days ago, he was taking apart some electronics and invited Kaelyn to watch which she did with interest and was thrilled when he let her keep a piece.

My final reason (for today anyway) is that I feel so much less stress. I struggle with perfectionism and slowly am finding ways to handle it. When I tried a lesson plan approach, if we didn’t get through everything, I fell apart. That’s really a topic for another day. What’s important is that I see my daughter thriving while making my life easier.

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Kaelyn has a favorite exercise blogger/YouTuber. She was excited to combine exercise with the alphabet one day.

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Our library usually has some different learning resources available and Kaelyn picked up this magnetic alphabet to work on one day. Her interest in reading goes up and down but so does mine so I’m not worried if she doesn’t actively work on it every day.

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Here’s another literacy moment. My nieces loved helping Kaelyn out with a reading lesson.

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“Mom, can you find Aunt’s picture of Rapunzel? I’m going to paint it for my cousin.”

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On a recent trip to our local science museum, there were some people from the university there with different language brain games. A little bit for everyone, even my mom got involved! The younger children drew while talking. The drawing recorded the sound and you could play it back by tracing over your original drawing. If you talked loud, the drawing dots got larger. The older children (and my mom!) was given a color word that was in colored font. You had to select the appropriate color that the word gave rather than the color of the font. If the font was green but the word was blue, you selected blue. I believe they had the opposite as well where you selected the color of the font while ignoring the word.

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Another day with my nieces had my pulling out empty boxes and wrapping paper. We had some measuring, some cutting, some taping, and lots of sharing going on. And as you can see, my mom enjoys purchasing matching outfits for her grandkids!

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We have plenty of independent moments. This one came when she really wanted a straw and really had to do it herself. The straws have since been moved to a lower place for easier non-heart attack moments.

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A play acting moment involving being pregnant and giving birth. Or being the baby doctor. Or being the sister. Moments like these are hard to come by when you are an only child. I cherish when Kaelyn can practice cooperative play!

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Kaelyn had repeatedly seen this abacus on a blog that I follow and as her interest in maths has grown, I wasn’t surprised when we saw one in a store and she knew exactly what it was. So it became a Christmas gift and it gets used nearly every day. Sometimes she is counting but often she makes patterns.

I find my desire to continue expanding my knowledge and setting a good example for Kaelyn has increased as I see the many ways she is a sponge. As I figure out the numerous things that work for us, I see our family reap benefits.

2014 Year End Financial Review

A few years ago I started doing a review of our finances from a yearly perspective. I love seeing our finances on every single level. I work with them weekly and review them monthly. But seeing them yearly is where I feel a lot of emotion.

If you feel squirmy about reading actual numbers from our finances, now is your time to click away. You can read my feelings on sharing numbers here.

I use THIS spreadsheet just as I have since the middle of 2012. I still love it and if you are looking for a way to track and get ahead in your finances, I highly recommend it! And, I just was over on her page and noticed that I AM HER LATEST ENDORSEMENT. Like… ON HER PAGE WHERE EVERYONE BUYS HER SPREADSHEET. There’s my name and a link to my blog. Anyway….

Each year I update categories and move things around to fit what I need now. And I LOVE seeing a quick and easy summary of the year.

2014 INCOME = $74,523.24

This net income number comes from my husband’s job, my job, bonuses, tax refunds, odd things here and there…

2014 EXPENSES = $54,784.85 or 74%

This does not include savings, debt, or charitable giving. We had some unexpected large expenditures this year. We didn’t have to dip into our emergency fund very much but did pause on extra debt payments during a few months.

2014 SAVINGS = $83.12 or .1%

Really… it was $1,060.72 but like I said, we had some unexpected things happen that used some of it.

2014 DEBT PAID = $9,111.60 or 12%

Oh, I have been waiting for this for so long.

WE ARE DEBT FREE!!!!!

(Except the mortgage.)

In December, we made our final payment for our van and I cried. I texted my husband and cried some more. I am so so so thrilled that we are finished with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2 and can move onto Baby Step 3.

2014 END OF YEAR NET WORTH = $11,782.33

If I add in the mortgage and house value, our net worth is actually $18,267.77. Boom! Both numbers are positive numbers! I love seeing progress.

Speaking of progress….

I like to see from year to year so I grabbed my numbers from each year and put them in one spot.

INCOME EXPENSES SAVINGS DEBT NETWORTH ADJUSTED NETWORTH
2012  $  38,117.15  $  25,287.78 66%  $     115.09 0.3%  $    7,134.98 19%  $  (6,861.56)  $          906.98
2013  $  78,573.37  $  54,965.83 70%  $     529.19 0.7%  $  10,045.36 13%  $  (3,271.58)  $      6,138.21
2014  $  74,523.24  $  54,784.85 74%  $        83.12 0.1%  $    9,111.60 12%  $  18,267.77  $    11,782.33

 

1) Our expenses from 2013 and 2014 are nearly identical.

2) $26,291.94 went towards debt in 2 1/2 years. If we were more gazelle-intense (we are aware that our expenses are rather high) we could have done that in a significantly shorter time. Sometimes, you compromise.

3) Our net worth increased each year and I love it.

I’m not sure where I see ourselves in a year from now. I have three potential financial plans depending on what happens over the next month or so. They all involve finishing our emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses) as that is Dave Ramsey’s third baby step. All I know is… I will fight to remain debt free.

Visiting the Conservatory

We have a great conservatory quite close to us that we love to visit. It has several glass houses and some outdoor courtyard areas. They have seasonal exhibitions throughout the year. One of my favorites is coming up: poinsettas EVERYWHERE. The coloring is fantastic and, well, Christmas is my favorite season.

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Kaelyn and I recently took a trip there with my mom. Just us which doesn’t happen very often. Typically we go with my nieces. I find it interesting that when we are with other people, Kaeyn is concerned with other people. She is particularly attached to her 7 year old cousin and wants to copy everything, sit right next to her, follow in her footsteps. When we are by ourselves, Kaelyn is highly interested in where we are and what we’re doing. She wants to discover, to look, to explore. I’m hoping to meld the two together but it’s a slow process.

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We arrived ahead of my mom and waited outside. It was a beautiful day and we knew there wouldn’t be many of them left. Kaelyn would run away only to return a few moments later with rocks, acorns, and huge leaves that she found. “More nature! More nature!” was the call that accompanied her joyous expression.

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The exhibit was Scary Plants which I hadn’t seen before. We attended a demonstration on some different scary plants. Kaelyn’s favorite was the Sensitive Plant where touching the leaves begins a chemical reaction that causes the leaves to close up. Moving leaves scare animals that would eat it so they tend to leave Sensitive Plants alone. We spent a lot of time talking about the different types of trapping plants. The Venus Fly Trap is the most popular but we were able to talk about many of the other types as well.

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This light board is another favorite spot. There are different colored pegs that you stick in the holes. Push a button and it lights up. She organized them by color before sticking them up. She wanted me to draw something while she was busy. I don’t have a picture of my drawing (you’re welcome) but it did satisfy her request!

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Being the beautiful day that it was, we spent significant time in two of the outdoor areas. Here she is looking at a rock she wanted to climb trying to decide if a bug was dead or alive. I’m not sure what happened to the other pictures I took while we were outside but she put on a whole play in the bonsai garden.

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“Take a picture of me right here, Mom!” The glass houses go through different climates so you see different types plants. We talked about how the air felt different, played several rounds of “I Spy”, and wandered up and down the stairs.

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As always, the always-there Chihuly sculptures are just magnificent. The colorful blown glass is beautiful and are exhibited in many different ways, some are very large!

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Another photo request from Kaelyn. Large glittery swirly colored marbles. What’s not to love?

Learning Things:
  • Storytelling
  • Geography
  • Horticulture
  • Observation
  • Categorizing
  • Climates
  • Carnivorous Plants