The Peacemaking Experiment in my Marriage

My beloved Dalton turns 29 at the end of March and I pondered the gifts I could give him. Since we’re saving almost every penny possible to afford our roof repair scheduled this May, I felt like there wasn’t a lot of money to splurge on something great or exciting.

(I’ll probably do a little grocery haul of his favorite kombucha and mochi ice creams since food is one of his love languages. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Then it hit me … why don’t I try a whole month of being nice?

I know, I know. Most of you sweet people probably imagine me as a sweet, timid, gentle woman and in many ways you’re right.

But I am also sensitive and defensive. Especially with my dear husband. He is logic-first and straightforward. I am feelings-based and gentle speaking. He staunchly believes there is always room for improvement in all areas of life; I (a perfectionist myself) also believe there is always room for comfort and grace.

As Louisa May Alcott wrote about Jo, โ€œA quick temper, sharp tongue, and restless spirit were always getting her into scrapes, and her life was a series of ups and downs, which were both comic and pathetic.โ€

I really couldn’t describe myself any better. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I decided that for everyday of the month I would choose to be what I always wanted to be — a peacemaker, a helpmeet, a courteous and gracious friend.

And let me tell you, just choosing to behave better has made everything better.

I feel better because I already know that today, I am going to be my husband’s best friend. Naturally, I’m setting aside time for him first instead of giving him the last bit of myself at the end of the day when I’m exhausted and irritable.

I feel happier because I’ve already chosen to believe the best, see the best, and speak the best into his life.

I’m choosing to stop the (small) habit of nagging I had started to develop. I’m working on not being easily offended and to enjoy his playful teasing. I’m making effort to be more patient with his faults and to pray for him more often. And I’m taking the time to give him preferential treatment and the best of my time and energy.

Sad to say, it’s like I’m a newly wed all over again and all the frustrations, hurt feelings, exhaustion, and hardships that made me more prone to irritability are more easily put in their place. I don’t need to be a cranky wife. I don’t have to an irritable, defensive grouch.

I’m happier because I’m choosing to live the way I should and God always blesses us when we choose to follow His ways over our own feelings.

The plus side is that my husband already noticed. The first time I offered to rub his feet instead of waiting for him to ask, he gave me a huge smile and said, “wow, that’s nice!” He acted like a happy little king and ever since then we’ve had more fun in the last week than we had in a long while.

I know that’s sad to say but it’s the truth — marriage is wonderful but it can also be hard. We’ve been through a lot in our nearly 7 years of marriage; we’ve experienced great hardship and stress. We don’t get to have dates anymore or go on trips. Everything fun has sort of been on the backburner.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a blast while we wade through this season of life, now does it?

I know it sounds so simple, almost idiotic. Be nice to my husband? That’s so obvious. Of course it is but sometimes you just need to start fresh.

I promise the reward of having my husband laugh more often, be more attentive and helpful, patient and less critical has been worth the effort. It’s like I can see him relaxing as he realizes that he’s not going to come home to a distressed, irritated, easily offended wife.

We’re both reaping the rewards of his birthday gift. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think I’ll keep the challenge going even after his birthday.

Our Preschool, Homeschool Routine

Uriah and I are a few weeks into our formal preschool routine and we are really loving our new setup. Since I started sharing our routine I’ve gotten several questions — I love that so many in my Instagram community of friends are at the same season of motherhood too!

I thought I would share the basics of our “curriculum” and, in future post, I’ll share how I go about planning for the week.

First, I need to be authentic with you and tell you that, until recently, the idea of schooling Uriah has been a source of overwhelm and anxiety which led to my feeling depressed and guilty as I kept putting it off.

We spent a lot of time doing great things: reading, being outside, talking and singing together.

But we were missing out on purposeful, intentional learning time. Our days were (sometimes still are!) long and lagging. We needed intentional structure. A little more formal in my Charlotte Mason, wild and free approach.

I started googling preschool curriculums …

And felt burdened by the idea of paying oodles of money when we’re working hard to save for upcoming roof repair. Dalton is such a diligent provider and I did not want to take advantage. I also wanted something that did not require tons of printing.

Eventually, we’ll be at a stage where I’m more than happy to spend money on a pricey curriculum but it seemed unnecessary for a four year old.

I found the perfect solution …

… when I found Brightly Beaming Resources website and the Letter of the Week Curriculum! Katrina Lybbert created the curriculum and I was immediately in love with its simplicity. Please check her website because Katrina did an excellent job laying out different plans of her curriculum based on your childs age and readyness! It’s an older website but the ideas are excellent for someone starting out!

Here’s the plan …

The curriculum is 26 weeks long (for each letter of the English alphabet). For the first 26 weeks, I focus on the recognition of the letters. During the next 26 weeks, I’ll reintroduce the letters but focus on the phonics aspect.

Each week, I introduce our theme (Monday), the letter (Tuesday), a shape/color (Wednesday), and a number (Thursday). I use Friday-Sunday to read and play games related to our week’s lessons. I’ve taken Katrina’s amazing plan and I alter it according to what Uriah already knows, what holidays are coming up, and how the weather is.

Here’s how simple our routine is …

This week our theme is birds and this is a brief overview of our daily lessons which I usually plan to last about 30-60 minutes. (you can adjust based on your child’s readyness!)

Monday: I introduce our topic of birds! We read a book about birds and I talk about some key words that will come up through the week (nest, build, eggs), we look at pictures of birds and put them on the focus board, find birds on his AAC device, and then we made birds out of playdough and feathers.

Tuesday: We talk about the letter D this week! I will start by putting up a picture of the letter D on our focus board and looking at the magnetic D. We look at objects that I gathered from around the house which start with the letter D (dog, dish, duck, draw), and we read a book about the letter D and another about ducks. Our craft will be making a duck out of the letter D.

Wednesday: Here I introduce the oval shape. I put a picture of an oval on the focus board. We read a book about ovals. We draw ovals and play matching games with felt and flash cards I’ve prepared ahead of time. Our craft/sensory project will be playing with foam and wooden eggs (which are oval shaped) and transferring them from bowl to bowl with a pair of tongs.

Thursday: We talk about the number three! I’ve found the concept of counting tricky to talk about so we keep it simple! We look at a flashcard of three and place it on the focus board. We read a book about counting. W practice putting our fingers up and counting them. I place small objects in a jar (marbles, dice, Cadbury eggs) and Uriah pulls them out, one by one, and we count them.

Friday-Saturday: We play games and read books that are related to all the topic we covered! Some ideas I have for this week will be refilling the bird feeder, playing in a sensory bin full of bird seed with a tiny shovel and scoop, lacing a string through a birds nest picture I made, etc.

To make things easier …

I plan a week ahead and write everything down on my weekly school planner — if I’m not intentional and prepared I tend to wing-it and we both end up frustrated and not learning as much as I hoped.

And I made something for you!

This is the planner I made for our weekly school lessons. It’s simple and cute – just the way I prefer things! To download and print your own follow this link for the black and white version. Or, this link for the colorful one!

Please let me know if you use them and how well they work for you!

I hope you know I’m cheering for you!

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious about schooling your little one I wish I could give you a hug and convince you that the best way to overcome is to just get started! God made you your little one’s mama — He will equip you to do well!

Follow me on Instagram where I share weekly stories about our school prep, ideas, and real life glimpses into the process! Or, comment below and we can connect!

Love and blessings!

Frannie

What Our 2020 Looked Like

Hello, friends!

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I wrote! Wow! How I wish I could pour each of us a cup of whatever you like best, sit beneath a warm window full of sunlight, and hear how you have been. Instead, we’re left with just words and I’ll do my best to paint you a picture of our world and, I hope, through leaving a comment, you’ll update me on your own life! Here’s a quick overview of our 2020 blessings!

We bought a house …

Currently, Uriah is napping and I’m snuggled up in our two-story home we bought in September of 2020! We have always been renters and we especially loved our little stone house on the edge of town. But, last Autumn we took a big step and bought our first home!

It’s a beautiful, partially refinished 1915 home that used to be used for a doctor’s office and living space. We’re tucked in the Old Muchinburg neighborhood and are just a few blocks away from downtown, icecream and coffee shops, and I can see the florist from the playroom window!

I’ll share more pictures in the future but it’s a dreamy older home with pillars in the entry way, original windows, a cast iron fireplace, a beautiful laundry room, and a semi-large yard (considering we live near downtown).

There have been lots of challenges with owning an older home especially since it needed lots of love and tending; we have roofing and landscaping planned for this summer and I’m in a very slow process of painting each room.

But the joys are still outweighing the cost of homeownership!

One of the joys is that we are now small business owners and run an Air BnB in the second floor above us! One of these days I’ll share more about our little apartment but I’ve got to say that it has been one of the most enjoyable “jobs” I’ve ever had!

We’ve stayed healthy …

One of the great blessings of 2020 is that all three of us have stayed healthy! Uriah, our now four year-old, only had two colds the entire year and we are so thankful for that gift!

When Covid season first appeared we made the difficult choice to continue our social distancing we always enter during flu season. So, we have actually been social distancing and avoiding unnecessary public appearances since November 2019!

God has been so good and we enjoyed daily walks last spring and summer and were able to keep up with Uriah’s therapy classes via Zoom!

Speaking of Uriah …

This little boy is still our biggest blessing! He brings our family an abundance of light and laughter with his funny humor, sweet personality, and hard work!

He is using a walker to walk when out and about, he scoots around the house, says “dada, mama, and done” and a myriad of other consonant and vowel sounds, uses an AAC device (emergent level) to request and discuss things, and is doing 4 days of online Zoom classes and preschool time with mama.

Some of his most exciting medical growth comes with no longer using a ventilator when sleeping and it looks like his airway may be safe and, Lord willing, he may be able to eat by mouth soon! (A scope will be happening soon to confirm this).

Overall, we had many blessings in a hard year for so many …

… and we are very humbled and grateful for this. It’s been a long year full of loneliness and isolation but we were able to keep Uriah healthy and for Dalton to continue working and we cherish those two great gifts God has given!

I would love to know how you have been doing, dear friends …

Please leave a message below or visit me on Instagram here!

I look forward to staying in touch!

Love and blessings!

Giveaway of my Current Favorites

Hello, dear friends!

This week I wrote about the joys and struggles I’ve experienced as I try to grow into being a more giving and generous mother and wife.

(You can find those posts here and here in case you missed them!)

This topic is special to me is because my life wouldn’t be as rich or full without the generous people God has placed in my life. And that includes you, dear readers!

As a special thank you I’ve assembled a little giveaway I know you’ll enjoy!

Mom Heart Moments devotional by Sally Clarkson

A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff

a set of my favorite bee’s wax candles and a $10 Starbucks gift card

I’ve included Mom Heart Moments (which I’m currently working through) because it will encourage on your journey toward being a more generous mama. Audrey and Jeremy’s book will inspire you as you love your spouse (or prepare for your future spouse) more generously. And the coffee and candles are little sprinkles of happiness because part of being generous includes being generous with ourselves!

For entries please:

Leave me a comment on this blog post telling me about one person in your life who inspired you with their generous spirit!

For extra entries:

Follow me on Instagram

Leave a comment and tag a friend on this Instagram post

Share about my giveaway on your Instagram stories. Make sure you tag me so I can see!

I’ll draw the winner next Sunday, February 9th!

Thankful for each of you!

Frannie

2020: Being Purposeful this Year

Delicious dinner smells greeted the tired, work-worn husband as he entered the front door; it was good to be home. Soon, the little family gathered around the set table and spoke blessings to each other and thanks to the Lord for the good meal. The wife was neat and cheerful and the light of the house — home was her artwork and because of her attention and care it was everyone’s sanctuary.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Well, I’m the first to say this isn’t my reality. I’m hear to confess something to you wonderful readers … I cut corners. Somewhere along my route of wife to mother I stopped treating my role as artwork and it’s become more about my survival.

And that’s okay. Between a difficult pregnancy, bedrest, NICU and PICU experiences, being away from my house for 9 months (and not needing to cook one meal during that time), tending to and toting around medical equipment, and the effects of postpartum I’ve needed to cut corners.

And mama, you will too. It’s okay to accept that we don’t always bounce back after giving birth; becoming a mother changes us and all change takes time.

For me, almost 3 years after having Uriah, I feel that I’m just now coming out of the exhausted, overwhelmed season that left me pummeled.

One way that motherhood changed me is that it’s changed the way I do life.

I think we all have a certain amount of space, and quite honestly, care to give in a day. Before having Uriah, I had lots of creative space to partial out to my areas of responsibility — cooking, cleaning, keeping home, serving others, loving my husband all got a fair share of my brainwaves.

After pregnancy all my creative space, brainwaves, and care became focused on two areas: Uriah (his thriving and medical needs) and my survival.

In an effort to keep my sanity during these last three years I’ve focused so much on the essentials … ventilators, trach plugs, medical supplies, and doctor appointments. Since I have to be walking in order to do those things I’ve also been focusing on myself — what’s easiest to help me keep going in as a mother. (Cookies, cakes, coffee, Target … ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Everything else suffered. Laundry piled up, blog posts stopped being written, showers happened less, and dinners were more like leftovers or take out.

This year, 2020, I proclaim to be my year of purposefulness. This is the year I stop eating all the cookies and take better care of my body (after all, I’m turning 30 this month). This is the year I stop binging on Gilmore Girls and Friends (could I be any more pathetic?). ๐Ÿ˜‰ This year, I am choosing to not do all the things but to practice the art of caring.

I want to craft, love, pray, read, mother and wife more deeply. This is the year I try to crawl out of the hole of survival and into the light of living.

What’s your 2020 goal?