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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A New Life

I think I'm ready.

Before Thanksgiving, we (the kids and I) were trucking along with a solid routine, enjoying ourselves. Then something happened in my personal life that had me reeling, as if the earth opened up and swallowed me whole. I'm unable to talk about it at this time but there has been many changes from Thanksgiving, all of which I think I'm finally regaining a bit of balance.

I've been working since December 2nd. Adjusting from being 100% stay-at-home mother to stay-at-home mom by day and work 20 hours during the night and weekends has been difficult. I am 100% dedicated to my children and having to give up time with them, what I consider crucial time - their bedtime routine, has been very hard for me. Reading aloud and snuggle time was replaced with management responsibilities of a store and for the kids, it has been hard to give up that Mommy time. I'd love to say that Dad has stepped in and maintained the routine but he hasn't. The kids now receive a terse bedtime and there have been many mornings that I discover that Danny is still in his clothes (instead of pjs) and his teeth were not brushed before bedtime.

It has been difficult to say the least. During my time off I've been torn on whether to clean the house or to spend time with the kids. In the last 3 weeks, I have decluttered our home to eliminate visual stress. Knick-knacks need to be dusted so off to Goodwill they went. I'm still "Spring Cleaning" mode but the house is more manageable for me, I know that I need to spend time sweeping, vacuuming, mopping and cleaning while I'm home to keep things manageable so some of our homeschool lessons are done with the scent of cleaner in the air and breaks of, "Mommy needs your help and then we'll do your science." Lol.

Another decision that was made in early December was to find Jack, our 1 year old golden retriever, a new home. While I love him and he was a blessing to our home- he was a stress for me. I found that I was not walking him enough, playing with him enough, or training him enough for his age. I was not being the dog owner that he deserved and I feel so blessed to have found him a home that he can grow in and be loved the way I wish I could at this time. He's doing great and his new family adores him so I can close that door knowing I did the right thing, especially knowing the stress it has alleviated for me. He went to his new family at the end of January and it's now been two weeks without him.

While I was working, finding Jack a new home and readjusting to a new lifestyle, I had to figure out how and where I was going to go to college. Having to play out the scenario in my mind of which one to select- the actual program of studies, whether to go on campus or to find an online solution, the cost and the end result, what in the world would our life be like after my degree- has been stressful all on its own. I feel like that I've had to trade lives with someone instantly and let go of all past expectations for our life for an uncertain future.

I explored nursing simply because I could get paid well and work 40 hours within a few days and be home the rest of the week but nursing does not amplify my natural abilities. It was a tough and difficult journey figuring out what type of degree to obtain that would allow me be the mother I want to be, amplify my natural abilities and have fulfilling work as well as be financially stable. After realizing that the college that I was trying to attend was the most expensive college in my area, not to mention unaffordable for me unless I took out student loans...I found my niche.

I looked back upon my work history and took at true look at myself. I was a graphic designer for 8 years but the most pleasure I had within that field was when I was managing a project or department, I enjoy streamlining procedures and finding more efficient ways to conduct business, I also enjoy customer service- a dying art in these times in my opinion. I thought I enjoyed graphic design because of the creative outflow of the actual graphics but stepping back and truly assessing my strengths, it was more in the management end than in the creative. That is why I never went to school for design, it wasn't my true passion. I realize that now. When faced with the course descriptions, Principles of Accounting interest me more than Human Anatomy and Physiology, lol. Instead of fearing the educational path before me, I'm excited.

After deciding that the most expensive college was not an option, which happened after I paid the $50 registration fee and applied for FAFSA as well as other scholarships and grants, I'm starting over with two colleges that I can attend online to obtain a Bachelor's in Business Administration with a few visits to the campus of the secondary college. Admission registration is not until April so I have plenty of time to hone my upper math skills and prepare for a college placement test although I regret missing the Spring session deadline, but all things come with time.

Also in December, I became increasingly frustrated with our financial situation, unable to get hub to get on a budget to pay off debt or to even show an interest in anything financial including having a savings account that wasn't emptied every single month. Once I started working, I knew I had to figure out a way to manage my own finances and decided to get smart about my own debt. Within the homeschooling circles I've heard a lot of about Dave Ramsey but I was still skeptical, I'm not a 'get rich quick' type of person and I didn't want to fall into any traps. I took a leap and bought The Total Money Makeover and I was sold. Through hard work and sacrifice I wrote out a plan to be personally debt free by December 2009 based on my income alone. I approached my hub with a plan to clear debt in his name by December 2010 but he wasn't interested, so I'm doing this for myself, by myself. After completing Baby Step 1, I will have paid off my first bill next month which if I kept paying the minimum payments, would take 49 more monthly payments to pay off. How freeing is that?

With all these changes to my life and the stress, I started losing weight from Thanksgiving to Christmas and once I realized that it was naturally happening, I decided to make a sincere effort to become more healthy. Working has helped tremendously in this area, instead of being sedentary at home watching tv, I'm physically working. There have been days that I don't even sit down except to drive from the time I get up in the morning to the time I go to bed. I'm watching what I eat, controlling my portions and only allowing myself occasional cheats like pizza or a cheeseburger. I have lost 20 lbs without an exercise or diet program, just replacing some of my eating habits and being more active. I actually feel depressed now if I spend a few hours in front of the tv just relaxing, lol.

My mom tried Nutrisystem but was unwilling to continue even though she lost 10 lbs because she had to have another back surgery. She's recovering and I just visited them with Camille to be a support, we cleaned my parents' house and decluttered a little by bringing home all of her Nutrisystem food (which is a LOT) and fabulous shoes she's unable to wear anymore after having 5 back surgeries. I have knee-high leather black boots now with high heels! I have beautiful white sandals to wear this summer and they all fit! I also brought home a Denise Austin exercise video with the rubber bands and a few other of those stretchy plastic torture devices, I joked with my mom that I'd knock myself out stretching those bands and having them snap me square on the head. I can be a little uncoordinated physically at times. I know a consistent exercise routine will help with my stress load and weight loss. I'm not trying to be a size 2, I just want to be firm and healthy, if that can be accomplished at a size 12, I will be happy. I have dropped sizes within the last 2 months and it has been a boost to my esteem. I don't have to shop in the plus sizes anymore to find something that fits but I haven't been doing much shopping either.

I am currently in counseling which I'm not sure is going to be helpful but I'm going anyway. We spent the entire first session trying to figure out how she can help me, outwardly I'm proactively moving forward- doing all that can and should be done. Internally, all of the positive changes in my life have made a positive impact but underneath all that positive stuff is the core reason as to why all of this happening. It's not something I can discuss freely with the world at this time so forgive me for the cloak and dagger treatment.

At work I'm training for a higher position, I have been acknowledged repeatedly by upper management, including the District Manager of the store I'm working at. I've just received my 60 day appraisal which had 'excellent' numerous times, which (toot, toot) is the highest evaluation you can get, and my immediate supervisor confessed that she's very rarely given anyone an 'excellent' rating, much less the majority of the appraisal. Can you see me beaming? At the core of all this success is the fact that I may be offered a position that is 40 hours a week. There are pros and cons to that but I have faith that everything will work out, one way or the other.

What was the purpose of this post? Well, first to get it all out and to identify the fact that I want to acknowledge what these last few months have been like to forgive myself for not being the homeschooling mother I've worked so hard to be. I've had to let go of many ideals and get down to the bare essentials. I haven't even mentioned the fact that Danny has had to adjust to a new preschool teacher or that my only living grandparent is battling Alzheimer's, or that I've been struggling with the idea of sending the kids to public school next year and wrestling with consistent idea that if I work, I won't be able to be the mother I want to be for my kids. So the purpose of this post is to acknowledge, forgive and move forward.

We are back on track with our lessons. We are taking one day a week to GO, either on a nature walk or field trip or just to go have fun doing something! Life is completely different than it was at the beginning of November but I think in a LOT of ways, it's better. It is so much better to walk in truth, even if it's hard and treacherous at times. This blog is my digital scrapbook of our journey and I'm ready to continue documenting.




Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, but every time you write about your life outside of homeschooling (for the most part), it seems like your husband is the biggest hindrance, obstacle, and negative part of your life. You should consider having a heart to heart. I would be seriously PO'd if my husband was as unsupportive as you make yours out to be.

Jessica said...

"it seems like your husband is the biggest hindrance, obstacle, and negative part of your life. You should consider having a heart to heart."

Been there, done the t-shirt. Unable to say more.

barrellfullofmonkeys said...

Oh, Jessica, you've been thru so much these past few months!! Just from what you're sharing, I think you're amazing to have accomplished so much in so little time. Maybe that has to do with the need to accomplish that much as quickly as possible, but I don't know if I'd have it in me! Forgive yourself for the things you think you've failed at!! Your kids will remember a mother who loved them fully and did everything she needed to do and everything she could do for them. They will look back on this and feel your love, not your failures.

Big ((hugs))!!

Kathy D.

Teacher/Mom said...

My heart goes out to you. In some ways, we have some of the same issues (hubbies), but in other ways we are very different. Your strengths (organization in particular) is my weakness. It is my weakness that bothers my DH greatly. What is frustrating is that I was extremely organized prior to marrying, and he was raised in a home where Mom did everything for her three kids (all boys) so he doesn't really help. And when he does, it is with much huffing and puffing about it, which is what my kids now do whenever they have to do their chores. It is obviously a learned behavior on their part.

As for the rest of it, having to work in the evenings, I may have to relive that soon. DH's work has informed his department that they will be restructuring how they get paid. It will mean that by June he may be making less than he was in the position he came from six months ago before he took this position. If that happens, and our economy keeps on the skids (which it will if this stimulus bill is passed) then I may be forced to work in the evenings. He isn't good with the kids - just plops them in front of the TV or computer while he sits around and plays his guitar.

The difference is that I am the one with a college degree and he isn't. He will not go to college, online or otherwise, because he will not give up his free time to do it.

I guess what I really want to say is YOU GO GIRL! You make a better life for yourself and your kids, regardless of what DH does. I know you will do it while following God's commands to be a shining witness to your husband in his areas of non-leadership. God will look out for your children, if you entrust them in His care. He is looking out for you, as is obvious by the clarity of thought He has given you in the next steps you are to take. It is obvious that He is planning something big for you. I'm anxious, as a regular reader of your blog, to see what becomes of your future. It always lifts me up to see how He cares for those around me, and how He orchestrates everything in His time. Blessings to you.

lillinda said...

All I can say I is"WHEW",
I also have a hubby that doesn't want to "do" Dave Ramsey. He would not even look at the book.
So I started on my own reading the book and taking those baby steps to pay off our credit cards. It took me a little over a year and when one was paid off, I cut it up. Now we are down to one that is paid off, but he likes to know it is there. He is starting to come around. Slowly but surely.
Keep praying for you man and trust God to do the rest.
I wish you peace in your mind, that you are doing what you need to do, when you need to do it. It will all work out,
Praying for you,

Mom said...

I read your blog from time to time, and I just wanted to say you are doing a fantastic job with your life. It is hard to walk away from a homeschooling routine, especially if you followed a classical education, but it is sometimes necessary and a good thing. I am a divorced mom of three children, and we have definitely had times when our routine changed drastically, but the end results where often positive. I put the kids back in public school for two years, and they actually loved it and made quite a few friends there. I brought them back home when I was able too, and we love this too. Kids are flexible and will follow your lead. If you are happy, they will be too. This month I decided to go back to school to get my masters, and the work load is intense, but we are all adjusting. They are proud of me and help me with my homework, LOL. Often as mothers we find ourselves the head of the family. It can be scary, but you have your kids with you, and they will support you whatever you do. Good luck with your future!

Nancy said...

I am glad to hear that you have come out of the fog and feel like you are in a manageable and even good place right now. I think it is good that you are acknowledging and forgiving yourself and moving on. Though you dont really have to forgive yourself but I completely understand what you mean. You are doing the best you can and that is ALL God expects from us. Many times we cannot achieve the IDEAL and that is why we need God and why He is so good. He is our redeemer and He makes things okay even if the ideal is not met and most of the time it's not. He's the Redeemer for the single mother withought a husband, the Redeemer for the struggling addict, the Redeemer for the working families and He's the Redeemer for you who is a mother who loves her kids and wants to do her best in a difficult and not ideal situation. As long as we are always facing our way up the mountain towards God, He will get us through. It may not always be our ideal way but sometimes that's for the best because than we depend on Him more and less on ourselves and our own abilities.

Anonymous said...

I am going through some of the same life changes and if/when you are able to talk about what prompted all the change around Thanksgiving I would love to hear/read it.

In some ways I am a couple steps ahead of you and in some ways a few steps behind but we are walking a familiar path and I wanted to say hi and offer a little encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I drop by almost daily to see if anything is new. Congratulations on all of the positive life changes, even if they were earned in a hard way. Just by reflecting on what you are doing is making you a great parent. I'm sorry you are shouldering so much of it on your own. Just know I (so I am sure others) receive tremendous inspiration from your work with the kids and also from your honesty about your struggles. It will all work out in the end- it usually does : ) "All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well." -Julian of Norwich-

Shayne (a Canadian homeshooler/lurker)

christinemm said...

Jessica you seem very empowered and in control of your life at this point. Hooray for you on many fronts, you are on a good track it seems.

School for Us said...

Jessica, My heart goes out to you. I'll be praying for you! It sounds like you are really taking control of things - at least those things you can control. I'll pray God works out the rest and shows you the right path!

You are an incredible mom from everything I've read, and I know you'll continue to be one even if it is in a different way then you dreamed of.

Take care! I'm praying for you!

April said...

Hi Jessica,
I do enjoy reading your blog and love all your homeschool posts and will certainly miss those but reading this post you sound like some of your stress is less and things are improving.

I am also a Dave fan and have heard of so many people personally that he has helped. I also like his workbook that goes along with his book.

I will be praying for you and your family. Prayers that your husband may soon come around(not always an easy thing; I do know from experience). And prayers that things continue to improve and hopefully will be all that you deserve them to be. From always reading your blog I think you are a great mom and have a big heart.
Best wishes with classes too! I began the nursing school to be an RN but did not finish. The classes take up a lot of time and energy. So good that you found another program that you can even do online!

CookieMonster said...

Upheavel to the max! It's hard isn't it.

I remember when we were going through upheavel several years ago: possible job change with a giant move and in the middle of popping out babies. I remember, when dh and I were discussing things one night, I reminded him that the most important thing is simply to be certain you're in God's will - whatever that looks like. Our tendency is to present God a piece of paper with our life goals on it (homeschooling, mothering, marriage, etc. all neatly packaged as we like) and ask Him to sign it.

He, of course, already has his goals for us. And if we will sign on to His agenda for our lives, however messy it looks to us, we will find the real growth and blessing there. Trust and follow.

Stay in the center of His will for you.


Penny said...

You are such a source of inspiration Jessica. My storm hit on October 15, and I haven't picked myself up nearly as well as you - thank you so much for your honest sharing, I think you're amazing.


nellakat said...

I've been reading your blog for a while and this is my first comment. I just want you to know that you and your family are in my prayers. You are a brave and wonderful Mom. Give it to God.
Praying for you!

Kimberly said...

Praying for you, Jessica! Thanks for being open...

Blondie said...

I am beyond impressed at all you have accomplished in so little time!

I admit that I have followed your posts on TWTM boards before I ventured to your blog. I will also admit to being exhausted just reading about your curriculum choices! You do have the gift of organization (which I do not) and I have no doubt that whatever the homeschool plan, you will do exceedingly well with it! We follow a more basic plan, too, with a little extra thrown in every so often.

Congratulations and hugs as you continue on this journey!

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I've enjoyed your post on WTM and of course on your blog. I've learned so much from you. You are really an inspiring person. I think I will go clean my house now! Keep your chin up and continue to excel at all you are doing! You are awesome.

Carpe Diem

5atkins said...

Praying for you and dh! In Him, Eva

Angela said...

Way to go Jessica- You are doing a great job and I am so proud of you for sticking to it during the rough road! Hang in there-things will work out for you!

Angie Phipps said...

Wow! You and I are going through a lot of the same things. Last year I took on a job in the evenings and weekends to help out with our budget, and I found it to be very hard on me, the household, and the kids. My hubby actually asked me to quit (which I did, with 2 months notice). Then I went through the whole, "What am I going to do with my life and our financial stability?" I worked hard to study for the LSAT and applied to a dozen law schools, thinking I would go for it, but then chickened out. I'm not ready to give up on homeschooling. I love it too much. Once I decided that's what I will do, my freelance writing work picked up a bit. I'm still undecided about my "real" career plans--more so when than what. Good luck and I hope things work out well for you.

Kathy said...

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer."

"Oh what Grace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

How desperately we need the prayers and friendships of other Christians. Mine are with you and yours. In Christ-Kathy

Amy J. Waugh said...

Jessica -

I just read this post after being away from homeschooling and blog land for quite a while. I really hope you are doing okay. I miss our occasional phone convos! It has been a long while since we touched base. Prayers, love and warm thoughts coming your way.

(TarponGirl) formerly from Florida, now from Minnesota (again).

Amy J. Waugh said...

Hey, sweetie!

Now I read the entire post. :)

Yay, you! It is hard coming to terms with the reality of a situation when it doesn't match up to the dreams and ideas we have. I recently needed to put my boys into public school and am looking for a job, too. It is not ideal, but I am surprised at how much they have grown and changed. Some negative exposure, yes.. but overall, school hasn't been nearly what I feared it would be. :) Do what needs to be done for you and your family, God will work the details. And you know what, I believe you *can* work and be the Mom you want to be... it just requires more patience and efficiency... you are pretty darn good in both areas from what I know! You will make it, Jessica! Hugs!


Sprittibee said...

just tuning in and want to say i'll be praying... you are strong and god is'll be ok!!!