J is for Jellybeans

Jellybeans have been a big deal at my house lately.

At Christmas, Santa left my little boy a jellybean dispenser.  It immediately became his favorite Christmas present.  It has been out of jellybeans for a while now, but in honor of family coming in town last week we let him refill it to show it off to them.  Our local grocery store had an area where JellyBellys were sold in bulk from a dispenser, so he was in awe of being able to pick out any kind of jellybean he wanted in whatever amount he wanted (in theory, at least).

The other day we also did a bit of graphing and counting practice with jellybeans, based on a lesson we found online.  Learning is always more fun when it involves food, right?

The other day we also found Crazy Jelly Beans (from Starburst… which has the best jelly beans anyway).  We love them. 🙂  We may have to stock up to have some after Easter too.

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I is for Introvert

I have a theory that bloggers are more introverted than most… and that enables them to sit in front of the computer instead of socializing.  Maybe I’m wrong about that.  Maybe I’m right and no one needs to read this.  But… I need to write and it is my blog, so here goes!

A Google search gave me this definition for an introvert, which I vehemently disagree with:

in·tro·vert

noun /ˈintrəˌvərt/
introverts, plural

  • A shy, reticent, and typically self-centered person
  • A person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things

Introverts are NOT shy, antisocial, or self-centered (though probably more-self aware). I’ve come to realize that I may appear that way at times… and I do have some shyness on top of introversion. Introverts replenish energy by spending time alone, and often feel drained or overwhelmed after spending time in crowds or with others. In contrast, extroverts (aka everyone else or 75% of the population) replenish energy by spending time with others. That doesn’t mean introverts don’t like people (though I certainly have my days of not liking people in general). Introverts draw from an inner world of ideas (and retreat to it in order to think before speaking) while extroverts draw from an outer world of experience… and talk out loud before thinking.

Sometimes life as an introvert is easier than other times.  At my last full time job, I found myself surrounded by extroverts who brainstormed and threw out ideas in meetings (ideas which, in my opinion, were not relevant to the discussion much of the time… yes, I know that is part of the purpose of brainstorming but not when someone goes on their own tangent just to hear themselves talk!). Meanwhile, I rarely got a word in edgewise (despite many attempts)…and was often criticized for this. Needing time to recharge after a tough day and 6 hours of meetings? Nope, at this workplace socializing with coworkers appeared mandatory for staying in the management team’s good graces. And so on, and so forth. Thankfully, I am no longer in that work situation. Unfortunately, I doubt anything there has changed.

On the other hand, being an introvert means that I don’t need anyone else around to have a good day.  🙂  It means I try to be found among calm more often than chaos, though that doesn’t always work out!  Those two advantages alone are enough for me!

H is for Homeschooling

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever contemplate home schooling my kids, I would say it had never crossed my mind.  At the time, being able to stay at home at least part time was a wish I thought was likely to never come true… but even if it did, I assumed kindergarten would mean heading to the public schools wherever we were (which wasn’t planned as where we still are!)   Three years ago, I lost the job that I thought was necessary to our family income .  Somehow (and I’m really not sure how!) we’ve made life work since then with some part-time, sporadic work for me.  It comes with sacrifices… like having a car that hasn’t worked for too many months now… but we haven’t wanted for necessities.  Somewhere along the way, I realized how grateful I am that I’ve been the one around to catch all of the adorable-isms that have characterized the preschool years.  They make the times of feeling isolated (because I will apparently never be like the other SAHMs) or overwhelmed worth it all.

The other thing that I thought I would never say is that I am grateful that my son had the chance to be in an in-home daycare for a few years, with kids ranging in age from infants to 5 (though I still don’t think those babies got the best care — at that facility, not all daycares — and I am so glad he was 1 before he had to go there!) I love that he had the chance to be around other kids and older kids to get some introduction to sharing, playing together, letters and numbers.  Looking back, I prefer that to the typical kids of the same age preschool set-up.  When he was finally home full-time at age 3 1/2, preschool or even a PDO was not an option.  We started doing “life school” at home… nothing formal at ALL, but just showing that all of life is learning — pointing out letters on the highway, reading tons of books, getting toys that were fun but also allowed for creativity.  And I started to realize how much I love watching him learn and don’t want to see him lose the love he has for learning.

Add that to some doubts about our neighborhood school, some doubts about public school in general, and having a child who is very asynchronous in development so far — past the end of the year kindergarten curriculum in some areas, right on target in others, and probably behind on some gross motor skills — and that leads to being fairly sure we will be homeschooling in the fall… though I will admit that decision is changing frequently right now.  I guess I should say we will be officially homeschooling… because I have come to realize that I’ve been doing it all along without labeling it as such.  I’m sure in the fall we will get more formal about it, but for now he loves to “play school” on the days we do more formal learning and learns just as much on the days we play or visit the zoo or something similar.  The huge task at hand right now is finding some groups to get support and friends from, and trying to have faith that it will all work out somehow.

This morning we had fun testing out an online program I’m thinking about for reading/phonics, playing go fish with sight words and counting/graphing with jelly beans! 🙂  Taking a break for lunchtime… then headed to the store to pick up a few groceries and the library to pick up some books on hold.  I’m thinking about making pretzels this afternoon but it depends on whether we’ll have time for the dough to rise and bake before we have to head out to pick up my husband from work.  And *that* depends on the weather… because I’m fairly sure we’ll end up at the park unless it decides to rain this afternoon.  I love having the flexibility to plan schedules around *my* priorities…

G is for Gifts and Gratitude

I’ve spent a few months now following and sporadically blogging about the gifts in my life.  I’ve spent the last few weeks spending stolen moments of time reading the book that records the thoughts that inspired the blog that inspires my own list.  I’ve spent more time living than reflecting on life (which for me is not always a good thing)… but have loved the book so far and look forward to reading more of it.

Continuing the gratitude list for this week…

#126  All of you A-Z bloggers who visit and comment on my blog even though I took way too long of a break!

#127 Having family in town last week

#128 Backyard games played with my 5 year old and my 3 year old niece last week.  He needs more playmates!

#129 The new HUGE playground we visited last week.  It was amazing!

#130 Having a blast at an Easter egg hunt…

#130 And getting back into our warm car after realizing that we did not dress so well for the unseasonably cold weather that day.

#131 Getting a letter from the child we sponsor for Compassion International (which we are not the greatest at writing letters back to… that is a huge goal of mine!) with a beautiful picture inside that she drew!

#132 Preschool artwork from my little guy too (which I’ll put up on this post soon… it would take another few hours to publish if I had to figure it out now!)

#133 Spending the entire day Sunday at church or at church activities… and slowly going from not wanting to be there at all (tough day for no reason) to being glad to be around positive people to help pull me out of a funk.

#134 Glee (okay, I feel guilty even posting this one!  I have gone from watching random snippets of the show and complaining about the immorality in the show — really, deciding you aren’t ready to have sex in high school makes you “repressed and frigid”? — to watching Season 1 on Netflix, deciding it still may not be appropriate but it is cute plus it has music!, and looking forward to catching up on the Season 2 episodes I’ve missed.  It still isn’t a show that I think is the best influence… but I am trying to live in the world and not totally separate from it and am fairly sure that if I had a teen we’d be watching and discussing the show.  Maybe I’m being completely naive there though… )

#135 Coloring.  My son doesn’t really like coloring (apparently that is typical for boys?) but I LOVE it and always try to get him to.   It doesn’t work.  But my 3 year old niece loves to color so I got to color with her over the past week. 🙂

F is for Family

… otherwise known as “the reason Melody hasn’t blogged for almost a week.”  We spent most of the past week visiting with family from out of town.  I loved getting to see my little boy play with his cousin who he doesn’t get to see anywhere near as often as he’d like, catching up with family face-to-face (which is somehow different from over e-mail or phone) and basically taking a week off from normal life.  I am glad for life to be somewhat back to normal too.  🙂  Now to catch up on the A to Z challenge!

E is for Encouragement…

… and “extremely late”.  I started but never finished the post on the day it *should* have posted, if that counts for anything! 🙂  Some thoughts from Wedneday…

*****************

I blogged on “encouragement” for E last year — is that cheating?  I was actually planning on blogging on education… but as usual, life intervened in my blogging plans.

Today did not start off well.  After a few wasted hours, Andrew and I headed off to a mom’s bible study we go to (well, I go and he plays with some amazing teachers and kids).  The bible study is not at the church I attend but at another local church whose staff and members I have come to love and appreciate for their kindness, genuineness and support.  I’ve been with basically the same group of ladies in a bible study for a year or so now and we have a good group going.  I walked in the church rushed and overwhelmed (though doing a little better since getting some caffeine in my system on the way — love Sonic!).  I left, two and a half hours later, amazed by the love and concern I’d seen others express for one another (and me!).  It is so wonderful to have places to go to get encouragement and understanding of the little and not-so-little hassles of life! 🙂

Following that bible study, I came to home to a long (and pre-planned) Skype session with one of my closest friends… who lives too far away.  I really do not like making phone calls, and we have not been in touch as much as we should lately.  It was such an encouragement to me to talk with her, get her opinions and advice on some decisions my family is contemplating, and see her adorable kids. 🙂

That is about it… just a snippet of my day… and gratitude that a day that started out not so well was turned around by the generosity of others who took time to care about my life.

D is for Direction

Decision making is not a strength of mine.  I excel at endlessly analyzing options and never reaching a decision (My husband will be quick to agree with that).  But… over the next few months I am going to have to make several huge decisions (even if they end up being decisions by default) about what the next few years will hold for my family.  My 5 year old is heading to kindergarten in the fall… or not… depending on a decision about homeschooling vs. our local public school.  I am headed back to work… of some form… or not… depending on the school decision and a number of factors I can’t control such as whether anyone will hire me to begin with (job interviews rank in the top 5 of my least favorite things to do).  Life is headed in a different direction… and right now I don’t have any idea what direction that is.  I feel like I am just beginning to find the map for how to manage being a stay at home mom and now it is time to switch maps (and I’m not sure I ever got to where I was trying to on the first one!).

It is very easy for me to feel like there is a right decision… and a wrong decision… for every choice.  The reality is that not every choice is black and white.  (Okay, practically no choice is black and white… but the ones I am facing seem to be a very medium shade of gray).  I am trying to remind myself that whichever path we choose… or have chosen for us… will have treasures along the way.  (That isn’t working right now, but I’m trying!).  I have spent much of the last few years begging for some blazing billboard to tell me a direction to go in life.  It hasn’t come.  I really don’t expect it to.

I don’t expect to ever get to this point:

… but I sometimes wonder if it would be easier just to get rid of the expectations and trying to plan (it doesn’t work anyway) and just live life as it comes.  (Except, that still calls for making decisions!)