Friday, July 22, 2011

The Blessings of Unemployment

We are now almost three months into this unemployment thing. However, I have found more to be grateful for in all of this than I have to be worried about. Here are just a few of those things, in no particular order:

1. Plenty of opportunity to introduce my husband to my home school friends.

2. We learned that we can live on less than half of my husband's former salary. This is great news! Prior to the lay-off, we were living with an attitude of scarcity. Now, we truly see how much abundance we had then and now. We laugh at all of the arguments we used to have and look forward to accomplishing our dreams.

3. I slashed my grocery bill in half while still eating mostly organic foods. My kids are well-fed and content, and they are sleeping so much better at night! THIS is one thing that will definitely continue.

4. There is no place like home. Seriously. I didn't realize how much running around we did until we were forced to spend more time at home. The kids are calmer. They are connecting more with kids in the neighborhood, as well as with each other. They are becoming more creative in their play. They fight less. We are socializing with our neighbors more. The chores are getting done. I have time to bake and connect with my kids over more than just lessons. Overall, we just feel more grounded.

5. The boys are getting to spend so much time with their dad. It's been very good for my husband and the boys. I think they are going to miss him terribly when he goes back to work.

6. We were able to go on a two week long vacation to Virginia to visit my family. We even drove all the way there and back without feeling exhausted. It was one of the best vacations ever for the Wicks family.

7. My husband and I have not spent this much time together since our college days. We get on each others nerves quite often because we are not used to seeing each other all day, every day like this! Yet, even that has been a blessing. It's been eye-opening to see how much we both have really changed since our courtship days. We have more than enough time to work out our differences. We also have a new appreciation and respect for each other as individuals and as a unit. It's been awesome to have this time with him.

8. My husband got to attend an entire two day home school conference with me. This has never happened in the three years of our homeschooling journey. It was nice to talk with the other most important person in our children's lives and reflect on the classes we chose to take. We walked away with a plan of action and we are on the same page.

9. I have more ME time! I can take a nap when I need to. I can go to the gym. I can just walk out the door and catch my breath without having to worry about my children setting the house or each other on fire. I am cherishing every moment of this extended ME time, because I know it will be greatly reduced once he returns to work.

These are just a handful of the things I find every day to be thankful for. I don't want to sugarcoat this. We never forget that unemployment looms over our heads like a gray cloud. This is not easy. Yet, God has provided in so many different ways, even down to free Astros ticket so we could get away as a family for a few hours. I know He's got our back and that knowledge is what I am most grateful for and it makes it so much easier to endure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oh, It's On, Now! (or, how to tell when it's time to teach church etiquette)

So, to put it mildly, church with my three darlings was a very interesting experience. Where shall we start? Caden (1) conducted a one-baby protest movement against listening to his daddy's sermon. This involved kicking, screaming, crying, and throwing toys and juice cups. For the sake of others, it ended with a long walk outside in the hotel lobby and hallway. Round one goes to baby. Stephen (3) recently graduated to full-time pull-up free status (even at night). Unfortunately, he has come to realize that when a recently potty-trained three year old says he needs to potty, grown ups stop everything to help make that happen, even if the three year old in question has already gone to the potty fifteen minutes prior to the current claim. So, while I was occupied with wrestling with the one year old, Stephen made a game of seeing how many times he could get the other grownups to take him to the restroom. Finally, not to be left out, Andrew (7) seemed to believe his chair was a jungle gym. Every time I turned around the boy was sitting backwards, hanging off, or basically trying to do everything except sit in the chair properly.

So, I have come to a conclusion: It is time to roll out the big guns. It is time to revisit for some, and start for others, the Wicks family church training sessions. This is not an original concept. I have read about different versions of this on several Christian parenting websites. Here is my battle strategy:

1. Church training will occur daily at 10:30 am, which is about the time my husband starts the sermon on Sunday mornings.

2. Since The House of Prayer meets in a hotel meeting room, I will line up individual kitchen table chairs to make the experience as similar as possible to the real thing.

3. I will go over the rules. When we are listening to the sermon, our ears are open and our mouths are closed. We are looking at the speaker. We can play quietly with ONE toy or write. We MUST stay seated.

4. Then, I will turn to whatever recorded sermon is on TV and we will watch it for 30 minutes. All the while, I plan to compliment good behavior and redirect as necessary.

5. For the baby, if he cries, I will put my fingers to my lips and say, "Shhh" every time. If he tries to get up or resists, I will very gently press down to keep him in place on my lap.

So, I'll start tomorrow and I'll see if it works this time. I learned of this method after having Stephen, my extremely loud and highly verbal child. I started his training while pregnant with Caden, but then I had to go on bed rest, so I did not get to see how well it works long term. Of course, by the time I returned to church, I had two little ones to train and I just haven't had the time to get back to it. So, it will be interesting to see how my training sessions go. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Making Memories on the Porch

I wanted to take a minute to capture a very special moment for all time. Since I did not think to take a picture, I thought the next best thing would be to write about it as a blog post.

Today, the Wicks family enjoyed a scrumptious dinner of store-bought fried chicken, yeast rolls, and homemade fruit salad, with iced green tea on our front porch. Yes, I said it...the front porch. We have a wonderful, yet completely ignored and unused front porch. Since the house faces east, our covered front porch really is a great place to greet the sun in the morning and catch a cool breeze in the evening. In the chaos of everyday living, I often plan to sit on that porch and read a great novel or hang out with my husband, but never get to actually do it.

So, today, I thought, "Why not make a memory?" With this in mind, I made a quick trip to the local Wal-mart (best grocery store-bought fried chicken ever) and came home and whipped up the light dinner. I threw in the card table, since our little decorative table is too flimsy to survive a dinner with little boys, and a high chair for the baby, and we were in business.

It was quick. It was simple. It was relaxed. It felt so right. I'm thinking this should be a summer staple, a new tradition for the Wicks family.