Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Toddler-Child

Living with my three year old right now is like living with a tornado in my living room. There's the noise of wreck-less emotion, the chaos of un-controlled and frantic tantrums, and the uncertainty of when it's going to end. There's the sheer destruction of property and well, the fear for one's very life and sanity.  Then it will be quiet again, life will go on and I am left picking up the pieces of my own anger and bitterness of why this toddler-child will not just grow up already and stop acting like an irrational dictator who marches along commanding the world to obey his every desire and falling apart at the seams when it doesn't (which is, like, most of the time).

I don't pretend to be an un-emotional being, in fact I know that everything about Silas that brings me to anger and frustration is most likely because he is similar to his Mom.  That doesn't, however seem to provide me any sort of lasting insight into why he acts as he does.  He's simply that unpredictable.  One minute he is big-boy Silas, helping his Mom get something for Toby, teaching himself how to read, singing along, buckling himself in the car, imagining a whole world of wonder with incredible vocabulary and the next he is toddler-Silas screaming and crying because he can't figure out how to do a task he's already accomplished 100 times over, he's talking in nonsensical baby talk, and pretending he can't understand basic English.

Silas is also by no means un-lovely, or un-wonderful, but I'm telling you- these little glimmers of the bright, incredibly empathetic and highly intelligent being I thought I was getting to know, are fewer and further between.  Shouldn't development happen at a steady incline?  Somehow we've landed back at 2 year old land?  This isn't new either- this has been months and months and months of never-ending emotional roller coasters.

The things I need which I don't have?  Patience, grace, compassion, a keen insight into his personality, and a good night's sleep for a change.  I would pay a lot of money for these things, credit, debit, un-marked bills? I'd run barefoot to the store that sells them.  

So after another horror film of a day, with anger and frustration, tears and shame shattered all over the floor, I decided something's gotta give.  A- my attitude  B- my strategies  C-my prayer life  or D- the child. Notice, that most of what needs to change, probably amounts to me?  

Don't get this impression that we somehow don't discipline Silas.  We try all kinds of things. They work and they don't work, and we keep consistently correcting, correcting and correcting some more.  But we're seeing little progress.  But my frustration has been mounting to the point that I can't even cope with 5 minutes if this toddler-child's demands without falling into a pit of bitterness and resentment and equal doses of frustration and tantrums.

So here's my 4-fold strategy to try and survive this season, and dear God I pray this is a SEASON.

A- Stop talking negatively about Silas. (This blog post doesn't count, there was some positive about him right?)  See? It's really hard.  The way I see him, the way I think about him, the way I talk about him unfortunately highlights my very negative feelings towards him at this time.  It's gotta stop because it affects how I see him and cope with him.

B- I need to be un-emotional and less affected by Silas.  The goodness of my day should NOT depend on his mood.  Man it's hard though.  I need to just stick him in a room and let him scream until the paint dries, but not get caught up in the tornado of emotions he has. P.s. this is nearly impossible, God help me.

C- Getting up early.  This is a freakin' hard task.  BUT, I am realizing I just need it.  I need to get up early and go for a walk, get a coffee, eat my breakfast in peace, have a chance to shower, read my Bible and just be away from these children to start my day. Otherwise I start the day with demands thrown at me before I've even wiped the sleep off my face and this non-morning person ain't pretty without her coffee.

D- Preschool.  I am hoping, and praying that preschool will provide the stimulus, the excitement and the environment Silas needs.  And this Mama needs that time to enjoy the second born and the peace and quiet he brings- I could not be MORE ready for preschool in a few weeks.

And part b of D (?) : gluten free diet.  I am starting to be very curious into Silas' actual physical well-being.  I don't know if this is truly regular 3 year old behavior.  With two celiac's in the family now, I am experimenting with Silas' diet for a few weeks.  I'll continue cutting back on sugar when possible and I've made and purchased a ton of gluten free snacks for Silas- fruit and trail mixes, vegetables and rice crackers, gluten free homemade earth balls and peanut butter cookies, almond flour muffins, yogurt, cheese strings etc. I'm kind of hoping it will be some kind of miracle diet and he's snap out of his toddler-child funk.  We'll see.

Please tell me someone else out there has a tornado in their home?  How do you cope?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Conclusion

I've been conspicuously absent from my blog for a good week or so.  What happened to the big finale of my month of no spending?  What grande conclusions did I make?  

Did I save the world?
The answer is, no.  

I have been wrestling hard over this past week- against hair that desperately needs cutting, a few coffee purchases that I've been trying to justify, and not really being sure what to think of this month as a whole.  It's been surprisingly challenging.  It's been revealing.  It's been direction-changing.  But it's just been one step. A baby step, my first step, towards simplifying our life.  Intentionally stepping off the escalator to 'more' and stepping into a way of thinking about my life differently.  I see the excess now, and am quicker to discards it for something better.  

I am dissatisfied with the consumer wheel.  I am frustrated by the need to have more, do more, be more, at the cost of God's best for me.  And ultimately, I a tired of being driven by my need to please people and prove myself to them. Caring too much about fitting in with everyone around me is truly the root of my consumer drive.  

So what next?
Continue shaking off the extra, learning patience, examining if what I think I need is really something I need, intentionally doing without, and seeking out opportunities to be generous.  Choosing less.  Cause you know, this life is not forever and there's no need to store up wealth and treasure here.

I'm excited to see where this road will take us, thanks for tuning in and keeping me accountable as I set out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Planning for the Future

I've been trying to think of ways that I can carry on this project of simplifying, spending less, and living more generously into the rest of the year and not just for this month.  Here are a few ideas and goals I've been thinking about:

1. Only buy used clothes, hold more clothing swaps with friends, or buy a maximum of 1 new piece of clothing a season
2. Ask grandparents to buy activities for the kids rather than toys (ie. at our local community center) *hint hint.
3. Simplify birthday parties- make them festive with creativity and not with all the easy trappings of dollar store finds.  (This will be a tough one for me given my last two extravagant parties)
4. Plan ahead better for birthday gifts- thoughtful, simple, handmade, or fair trade
5. Try to simplify meals so that they are cheaper (any suggestions?  I think I gotta pull out that old cookbook: More for Less)
6. Use groupons and other coupons for date nights
7.  Keep kids birthday gifts to under $10 (as well as newborn gifts)
8. Find a way to make our home work for us for longer rather than getting a bigger home (unless it has a basement suite we can rent)
9. Have homestay students
10. Get involved with our local Refugee community (in the works)
11. Sponsor another child
12. If an appliance breaks, go without replacing it
13. Share, loan, borrow, and rent instead of own.
14. Annual garage sale where the profit goes to a cause.
15. For anything that is over $10-$15, look for it used first.

Any other ideas you have to simplify?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Packing for Two

We will be hiking up to this point, if I can make it.

That's diapers or wipes, kiddie snacks or toys.  No playpens, no blankies, no carseats, no stroller and no beach toys. The list could go on.... Any parent knows that a trip away with just husband and wife, amidst the chaos of raising little beings is a total and utter relief.  Even packing is a dream.  One duffle bag and little other paraphernalia? As if!  Of course I'm a bit worried about how the boys will do and my heart will be a bit sick, yadda yadda, but for only a few minutes. I'm having a party inside.

A weekend away at Whistler just Jason and I?  Hiking for hours in the mountains, biking along winding pathways, eating out at a restaurant, swimming in the pool, I could go on. Yes please.  Praise God for a young married couple willing to take our kids (we will pay them back later when our kids can babysit theirs).

The only kink in the plan is my intention on keeping this period of time 'spending free.' We'd booked ahead of time but we had really wanted to go out to eat and... well, we're trying to keep the spending trim but this is our first time away after baby boy #2 and we are in desperate need of that time.  So, I am officially sucking at 'no spending' month.  But it's truly a good cause, right?

I've grocery shopped so that we can do most of our meals in our rented condo but I'm breaking my own rules to go out to dinner with my dear husband who might like to have a conversation longer than jolted sentences interrupted by screaming and tantrums, and insistent refusals to eat.  Yes, dinner at our home is THAT bad. 

Adieu, until Tuesday.
p.s. I AM sad that my no spending month forbade the purchase of a new camera when we will be in a beautiful place, but all the more time to just enjoy the moments.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Another Sign of Wealth

I'm reminded afresh of what we so often take for granted.
Silas had been unwell for a number of days but he took a turn towards 'worse.'  Diarrhea turned bloody, crankiness turned to lethargy, and this Mama put on her nursing cap that I'd just laid down after 48 hours of work.

We didn't blink.  We didn't hesitate.  We didn't really have to wonder if we could afford to.  We grabbed our stuff, and hit the road- straight to the hospital.  If we didn't think we could get there fast enough, we could have just picked up the phone and they would have come to us.

This is not the reality for most mothers around the world.  A 3 year old gets diarrhea, there is no pedialyte, maybe no water, definitely no popsicles.  The Mom might have to strap their child on their back and walk for miles to get to help. Or maybe they are helpless to stop their child from inevitable demise.  If the water is making their child sick, more water would only make them worse.  Feverish?  The hot sun would only worsen the fever.  Maybe they can't even afford to pay for antibiotics- a simple fix.  Maybe they can't walk the miles necessary on foot because they are unwell themselves, or their other children would suffer at their absence.  Maybe they have no choice at all but to watch as their 3 year old goes from playing happily and energetically, to fading away right before their eyes.  I can't imagine.  It's too horrific and heart rending.

We all know this. We all have seen pictures and turned away.  But would I be willing to travel to their home, and let my child die in their place?  Isn't this what God has done for us?  Shouldered the death attached to our humanity upon himself so that we might live?

Is not Christ asking us to do the same?  Die to self, so that others might live?

I could whine about the whole ordeal of going to the hospital for two days in a row and wiping my son's bum 100 times a day, but mostly I am so completely and utterly thankful.  My delightful and dramatic eldest, my child, can have life because I live in a country with enough wealth that healthcare is a citizen's right, not a privilege only for the rich.  p.s. Don't take this as a political statement, I don't mean it to be.

May my gratitude turn to acts of service and my faith turn to deeds as I remember, pray for, and seek ways to help other Moms around the world who might not have the means to keep their own children alive.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Selling and Investing
Heard about it, logged onto it, inspired by it, loaned to it!
$86 of our $80 garage sale earnings are going here and our hope is to just keep investing this money, turning it over and turning it over.

Investment into people's lives.  I wish I knew them.  I wish I knew their families.  I wish I could see them get up and go to their newfound work and education with a lightness to their step and an excitement of their independence.  I wish I could see what that work adds to their family, how it adds to their personhood.  I wish I could watch as a mother provides rice for her infants for the first time in weeks, or a father as he brings provisions home for his wife to cook for dinner.  Or the student who is taking a step towards higher learning to bring pride to her family.

Thing is, I know the One who does see, and the One who does know them.  I know Him and He sees, even if I never do.

Oh, it's idealistic cause it's only $75.  But imagine!

I've heard such incredible things about micro-finance loans, it's time to be part of the movement towards people who are in need of a boost up.

SO that will be my first purchase this month people.  (Besides, of course, my moment of weakness coffee I bought the other day).

One step in a walk, in a journey that will take time and distance to travel.
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