Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Want to meet a Real Housewife?

I'm so frustrated. I am juggling so much it gives me a headache and I feel like I have to watch my words so carefully because people get offended.

If I talk about couponing someone will be offended because they think it's all junk food and "who the heck has time for that anyway?"

If I talk about parenting or discipline someone will be offended because I think differently than they do.

If I talk about breastfeeding someone will be offended because they choose to formula feed.

If I talk about birth someone will be offended because they didn't choose a natural birth.

If I talk about________(fill in the blanks)- people will be offended and/or judge me.

I am 28, raising an 11 year old, almost 3 year old and 9 month old. I have survived both my husband and my mom being in life threatening accidents and both having to wear the same flipping body brace. I was raised by a single mom because my dad left us when I was 7 months old. I was diagnosed with a liver disease at 19 only to go through rigorous testing and surgery and then be told it was 'gone' or misdiagnosed. I have stood by and supported my husband through legal battles with his ex over his son. I have experienced infertility caused by PCOS and what it feels like to have a body that doesn't work on it's own.  I have birthed two beautiful and precious little girls in two entirely different birthing experiences. I have battled through 4 months of the most intense screams a baby can make for about 12 hours a day thank you to the enigma known as 'colic' . I paid our mortgage, medical bills, and every other bill while Craig was recovering from his accident for 3 months while fighting insurance several times a day, working full time, and being the nurse to a man in a body brace, neck brace, and his jaw wired shut. I have battled eating disorders and self-esteem and am the size I am because I choose not to throw up my food or starve myself anymore. I am choosing to love, teach, and raise a child who is not biologically mine but needs a mother who is present, conservative, and notices him. I worked hard with my husband to buy our first home, only to find that after blood, sweat, and tears of remodeling and $100k lost we cannot conventionally sell this home that has septic waste leaking into our backyard and we have no option but to get out. 

Life has never been simple. Not when I was 8 and not now at 28. It's always been complicated and a bit messy. There's always been trouble and I've had to become a fighter. Now why isn't there a Real Housewives of Kitsap??? THIS is what being a housewife is really like :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

24 Hours

We all have 24 hours in a day. The President has 24 hours in a day. Mother Teresa had 24 hours in her days. Whether you have 1 child, no children, 8 children- you get 24 hours.

I spend the vast majority of my hours feeding children, cleaning and picking up 2500 sq ft of farmhouse, playing with 3 children, answering questions, breaking up fights, changing/washing/folding diapers, volunteering and coordinating a mom's group, working in the garden, etc. I also coupon and blog.

I coupon to save us money. We went from a family of 3 to a family of 5 in five months and yet our income didn't change at all. Something had to give. I had thought couponing was all junk food so I didn't give in to it for months but when we needed groceries and didn't have much money to buy them I knew I needed to do something. So I coupon. We have over 30 tubes of Colgate and Crest toothpaste in the basement. They were pennies away from being free. Pasta, crackers, body wash, deoderant, razors, granola bars, laundry detergent, floss, mouth wash, baby food, milk......all FREE. So no, it's not all Pop Tarts and icecream. I have actually NEVER couponed Pop Tarts and I buy icecream because my husband is stinking addicted and always requests it. The majority of what I coupon for is healthy. Last week I got Hamburger Helper. They paid me .20 for every 10 boxes I took. I'll use them or donate them and bottom line is it took about 5 minutes in couponing prep and they were FREE.
I blog because my brain needs the outlet. I am smart. I believe that I am. Not Albert Einstein smart by any means but I'll admit sometimes I'm in a room and think, "did so and so really just say that?" or I'll read something and think, "did they really just spell that word like that?" I can't help it. My brain notices stuff like that. In the same way if someone sings a song out of tune and my ears hear it and my head tilts and I try to counter that 'nails on a chalkboard' feeling that is happening in my brain.....I notice stuff like that. I don't have a paying job that allows me to use my brain, so I use my brain teaching my children, volunteering, couponing, and blogging. My day often begins at 6:30am with the baby and goes til about midnight or 1am most nights. Jacob goes to bed at 9pm so I crave the evening as MY time and time with my husband without any children needing us (or that's the goal anyway). This is also when I blog. Midnight blogging is the best. I'm tired enough to not be so inhibited and afraid of what I say. This might also be when people would likely be offended. But you know what? It's my blog. Don't read it if you can't handle it.

There are some 'friends' who judge us, berate us, belittle us, and make us feel like less of a person when we are around them. Then there are real friends who validate, encourage, uplift, and make us feel like a better person when we are around them.
I feel that with real friends a person, especially a busy mother, shouldn't have to explain what she does with her day. As a mother it should go without saying how exhausting, wonderful, frustrating, and also fabulous being a parent is. And if you haven't had the joy of navigating the pre-teen years yet....just you wait :) We should be cheering each other on with "you are amazing!" "how do you do it all?" "you are the best mother!" "your children adore you!" "I'm so proud of and in awe of you!" get the idea. NOT judging how another mother spends her time or what she's feeding her family or what her kids are wearing. You know, some people eat Hamburger Helper because it's literally all they can afford. Don't judge it! When I get toothpaste and shampoo and conditioner for free it means I can take that money and buy produce with it. Novel idea, right?

I saw a question on the Birth Without Fear (love her!) Facebook page several weeks ago, "how much do you spend on groceries per month?" MOST people answered more than $500. Quite a few actually said $800 or $1000. I wanted to cry reading that. At the time with our current situation I was trying to figure out how to make $225 feed 5 people for a month and buy all our toiletries. It wasn't working. Couponing has helped a ton. It also means that stuff I wouldn't normally buy I can buy and my kids can have the occasional fun treat or luxury- like Gushers or Rice Crispy Treats :) But it also means that all that stuff someone else might pay for: greek yogurt, Tillamook Cheese, pasta, etc....I got for free. Now honestly the goal isn't FREE. The goal is getting stuff we need for the best price I can. Sometimes that's free sometimes it's not. I do what I can with the amount of time I can. A few hours a week tops.

Anyway, I'm not sure the point of this blog post exactly, but I guess my point is that mothers work hard. There is no break, it's a constant job. If you are lucky enough to have your husband's help in the mornings or evenings count it a blessing! Many mothers do not have help because their husband is working his tail off to provide for the family.

Encourage your mama friends. Validate their work and their effort. Tell them how beautiful and selfless they are. Tell them their children seem so loved and special. Tell them their house looks wonderful. Tell them you admire them.
Life tends to break us down quite a bit on it's own, lets not do it to our friends.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Our new adventure!

This fall has a new adventure waiting for the Frazier Family: The Frazier Farmhouse School! Yup, that's right, we're homeschooling Jacob.
He started asking almost 2 months ago about it. I told him no right off the bat. I said I didn't think it was a good idea, his mom might say no anyway, and it seemed like too much to take on. He was bummed but said ok. Then he kept asking. Every few days. My thinking since Jacob has gotten here is that anytime something is really important to him I will at the very least pray, think about it, and see what I can do to make it work. So, obviously homeschooling was important to him. When I asked why he wanted to he said, "I'm not really sure. I've wanted to for like 3 years though. I just think it'll be a good experience and the best for my education." lol! Then we were having dinner one night and Jacob brought it up again and Craig said, "You just want to because your best friends are gonna homeschool this year." I then shot him the look of death. I hadn't told Jacob yet that his friends were going to homeschool! Whoops! Jacob said, "what? They are?" Totally in shock and feeling sad that he wouldn't be in school with them. At least I know that his decision to want to homeschool is not based on his buddies. Them homeschooling will just be a bonus for him :) Especially on snow days. The Farm is going to be a friggin winter wonderland!
His mom was actually really cool about things. She said as long as he is actually doing the necessary work and learning, she would leave the decision to Craig and me. I thought, "wow, didn't expect that!" But, things have definitely been much better between all of us in the last 4 months.

Alright, so lots of researching (as is my way), which took about a month, and I have figured out curriculum for the most part. I still need to break down the year into how many pages of which subject on which day and what subjects we'll do on certain days and what field trips we'll do, etc. The real work is ahead of me, but homeschooling gives you so much flexibility. I personally am not a fan of 'unschooling'. I believe it's important to learn math, English, history, science, geography, language, etc. On the other hand though, I don't just want to bring the public school into our home. Part of the point of homeschooling is that you can teach the subjects how you want and when you want to. If I want Craig to do sex-ed with Jake on the weekends or a weeknight- we can. If we want to go outside in the snow and learn about and study snowflakes and different kinds of clouds for an hour as science for that day- we can!

Jacob has already learned so  much in the time he's been here. I learned a week ago that he had no idea what Christmas was really about or why it's called "Christ"mas. He didn't understand why dates have an AD or BC after them. He didn't know about "i before e except after c". We've had some very teachable moments! He's also writing a book and that is wonderful. He's using his creativity and it will provide a lot of opportunity to talk about sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. For now I'm just letting him write and have fun. We'll get down to the nitty gritty later :)

Last night we had a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and made s'mores and we talked about the moon (which was full and gorgeous) and how you find the radius, circumference, etc. We chatted about Pi vs Pie :) and all sorts of things. Life is one big learning adventure and I feel it's important that learning takes place as the opportunities present themselves and not just in a classroom for X amount of minutes. I feel it's important that a child be educated enough that they can attend any college they want to, if they choose to. I also feel it's important for kids to do hands on things; make food, work on cars, help in the garden, color/create, etc.

We found a hutch on Craigslist last weekend that retails for over $430 and we got it for $50 :) My mom is lending us tons of books from when I was a kid. Cool learning stuff about history, geography, economics, and The Backyard Scientist. Jake is having a blast reading all the fun books like Doctor Dolittle and The  Boxcar Children. It's fun for me to have these books in my home because I seriously read ALL of them as a kid.

So, here's to our new adventure. We're gonna take it one week at a time and see how it goes. We'll be starting about the same time the local school district does.

Pics from last night's bonfire :

Craig's giving the stink-eye here, lol

The fire pit! Craig made it out of an old chimney-thing we got at a yard sale :) And of course, the hose on stand-by for safety.

Just chillin'

Handsome! My hubs of 6 years :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A book that drives me nuts...

Saw yet another person today touting how wonder Michael and Debbie Pearl are and "how dare I say anything bad about them." Well, I don't need to say anything bad, they say it all themselves. This is just the tip of the iceberg and what I personally read from their book tonight:

Here's a few quotes straight from To Train Up A Child,

"You should be able to take a nap and expect to find the house in order when you wake." (It's the whole "children should be seen and not heard thing)

"When the baby bit, my wife pulled her hair (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies). Understand, the baby is not being punished, just conditioned."

"A newborn soon needs training. Crying in order to manipulate the adults into constant servitude should never be rewarded. Otherwise, you will reinforce the child's growing self-centeredness, which will eventually become socially intolerable." (This was under the boldfaced title, NEVER TOO YOUNG TO TRAIN)

"At four months.... we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of "No" with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree."

"Stripes are said to be to the soul what the healing blood flow is to a wound. A child properly and timely spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of spirit. A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper spankings."

"Fail to use the rod on this child, and you are creating a '"Nazi." I still marvel at the power of the little rod. Somehow, after eight or ten licks, the poison is transformed into gushing love and contentment."

"If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final."

"This time, my wife's bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside Johnny."

"When the heat was just right, I would open the door long enough for them to be attracted by the flames. I then move away. The child would inevitably run to the stove and touch it. Just as his hand touched the stove, I would say, "Hot!" It usually took twice, sometimes three times, but they all learned their lesson. "

"If a parent starts at infancy discouraging the first crying demands, the child will never develop a habit. In our home a fit was totally unknown because the first time it was tried it proved counterproductive."

"If you want a child who will integrate into the New World Order and wait his turn in line for condoms, a government funded abortion, sexually transmitted disease treatment, psychological evaluation and a mark on the forehead, then follow the popular guidelines in education, entertainment and discipline, but if you want a son or daughter of God, you will have to do it God's way [homeschool]." (this was under the title THE SYSTEM) Also, "Never even consider sending your children to private Christian schools, much less the public automation factory. "

"Hollywood is not for God's children. Don't allow the brainless, subversive Sesame Street type propaganda to come into your house. Your children's thinking should be molded by the word of God and Christian example, not by sex perverts and socialists. If you want to destroy your family then get yourself a good TV and VCR to keep the kids company."

"Never yield to the fads. Christians should have too much dignity to be carried along by the Madison Avenue promoters. Their shoes, clothes and cereal should be chosen for serviceability, not style."

The book seems like so much legalism and rules. Not to mention a TON of hitting your kids with a 'switch'. There were things here and there that made sense to me and I went, "yeah, that could work." But the majority of it seems so messed up. You have the freedom to do what you choose in your own home. I, for one, will not be sleep training or letting a newborn cry it out. I will NOT be aiming to "totally defeat" my children. How sad :(

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Living at the Dr's lately...

This past week has been a blur of not sleeping and dr's appointments. Seriously! Evangeline got another ear infection and that meant her up all night and instead of not napping and still being happy, she didn't nap and was NOT happy. It was a really rough several days. She is on the mend now I think and finally sleeping at night a bit better. She still takes 20-40 minutes at night to settle down, which stinks because that means tears. I don't want her to go to sleep crying, but the alternative is that I continue to hold her until 11pm when she is in a very deep sleep. I was going crazy doing that. I was chained to the couch and started feeling like I was imprisoned. I did that for 8 months and I think that is admirable. And enough. Quite enough! Now she goes in her crib at about 7pm and wakes up to eat around 5:30am. Usually I can get her to sleep a couple more hours after she nurses. So while she doesn't nap, at least she's getting almost 12 hours at night. Now if I only I was!

With Eliana and Evangeline having such frequent ear infections, we are at the Dr.'s a lot. A lot is an understatement really. I am also trying to get Jacob caught up on Dr.'s appointments and that is taking a lot of my time; pediatrician, dentist, ophthalmologist, etc. He gets glasses now as we discovered he's not seeing well out of his right eye. As far as he could remember, he'd never been to an eye doctor. The things that make you go "hmmmm.........." Poor kid.

I took Eliana to an Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon today. She's had persistent fluid in her ears for at least the past 6 months. The problem with fluid sitting in there long term is it can greatly affect speech and also can deteriorate the ear canal. The surgeon put it this way, "she's got a lot of fluid in her ears. The fluid is causing about a 20% reduction in hearing. Between 18 months and 3 years is their most important and formative time for language and speech development. She might already be set back a year or so from her hearing problems and we need to fix it now. The fluid in her ears is not infected which is why none of the antibiotics could take care of the issue. This is a plumbing problem. Her ears accumulate fluid and because of the shape of her inner ear pieces, there is no where for the fluid to go. Tubes will help this. It's a 5 minute surgery and she should playing normally by the afternoon."
So, there you have it! She goes in for surgery on the 22nd. I'm nervous for her and feel a bit of anxiety as her mother because any kind of surgery has risks, but the key here is that her speech is important and I don't want her to have long term hearing loss like her dad. Also, I am very validated in this: I feel like I have to repeat myself A LOT to her. And not that she's being a snot and just ignoring me, but like she honestly can't hear me. The surgeon said she absolutely isn't hearing me and I'm not crazy! lol. And poor within a bubble of limited sound is not fair to her either.

Jacob is continuing to learn and thrive here. His pediatrician said she can see just looking at him how at home and happy he is here and how much he's changed in the last few months. She said she can tell he's come out of his shell and really feels safe and secure and she's happy for him. Not to mention he's trimmed up a bit and is looking much healthier. We can't really picture our life before he came here and we're so blessed to have him in our family :)