Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Home Schooling Curriculum- First Grade

I love seeing what other people do for their schools so I decided to post what we'll be doing too.
I know, my son just did first grade. But since he skipped kindergarten and I feel like he didn't learn as much as I'd like this past year (seems all they do is reading and math), we're going to do some home schooling over the summer and see if we can fill some gaps. This isn't a full curriculum, mind you. He's very strong on grammar/spelling so I'm not doing that. This will work out to be about 2 1/2 hours of schooling/day. He reads for fun daily so I don't include that. Here's what the plan is:

Writing: work on simple letters to relatives/missionaries 2x/week. Copy short sentences 3x/week and work on penmanship. abt 20 min/day

Math: Singapore Math. 40-60 min/day including xtramath.com for drilling.  I love xtramath.com, btw.  

Ancient History biographies and tales. Ask him to repeat what we read while I write it (comprehension) Make notebook pages together. 2 hrs/week

Science: animals, human body and plants. 2x/week for 60 minutes.

Religion: morning devotional is back!! Focus on major stories from the scriptures.

Music: work on staying on key. Practice scales 15 min/day. Listen to classical music during chores.

Art: learn about famous artists from library books and do own versions of some of their work.  Also free time to create whatever. Fridays-1 hour or so.

There you have it.  Come fall we're going to add spelling words and more language arts work, but I think this will be good for summer.  I'll be sure to post about what I do/ do not like.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Politics

Several months ago, I had a conversation with someone who was concerned about my need for intellectual stimulation who suggested starting a blog and posting on topics that interested me. Book reviews, parenting, world news, and politics were mentioned as options.

You will most certainly see book reviews and opinions on parenting here. I will likely even mention world news. (For example: the CDC recommends zombie-apocalypse preparation, and if you know a teenager you'll know that zombies are in right now) That sounds like a joke, but my brother-in-law is very interested in emergency preparedness, and it's all thanks to zombies.

Politics, however, presents a conundrum. I would love to discuss politics with you, but for now my desire is to keep my political views off of the internet. If you want to know how I feel about politics, ask me! I would love to share my feelings with you. They are subject to change as I learn more about this country and the people who live here.

If you'd like to get more involved in the political process, I encourage you to go local! There's no better way to make an impact than to voice your opinion about a local sign ordinance, or discussion of zoning exceptions. Look up how often your town council meets. Some cities now have the minutes published, or even videos available on town websites or on demand on local cable.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review: The Well Trained Mind (from Kris)



I really liked this book!  This is the book that gave me the confidence to do my own curriculum.  That said, I only read up til 5th grade.  I figure I'll read the rest when I have a fourth grader.


This is the book to read when you need a starting point.  It is NOT a methodology, IMO.  It gives you a general idea of: what to teach, how long to spend teaching it, sources you can use to teach it, and emphasizes reading in a way similar to TJED (Thomas Jefferson Education), which is simply the classical approach: read GOOD books and read LOTS of them.  


It gives an overview of each subject in school: Spelling, Grammar, Reading & Writing; Math; History & Geography, Science; Foreign Language (emphasis on Latin-which I liked); and brief touches on computers, religion, and the arts.  I know, I know, poor PE got left out.  We're signing our son up for karate and covering it there.
THINGS I LIKED:
  • "Spend time every day reading out loud, as much time as you can afford."  
  • I liked how they have the child narrate back to you as comprehension lessons.  I have seen how that will help them get better at writing.
  • I love their approach to oral reading, but this is probably because we've spent the last 6 months with 20 minutes/day of crap books.
  • Copywork & dictation
  • I LOVE the chapter overviews.  It gives you a skeleton to build your home school around.
  • I like their approach to math
  • I particularly like the idea of overlapping subjects, similar to unit studies.  For example, incorporate history into your grammar lessons. So you have your child read and then write about Julius Caesar, incorporate some geography and you've covered 4 subjects with one lesson.  I like that approach best!
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE
  • They don't believe in child led education.  I do, with caveats.  They equate it to feeding your kids, saying if they eat it every time you serve it they'll learn to like it.  I say, I still hate the foods I was forced to eat.
  • If you like the idea of interest led unit studies or unschooling this book may not be for you.  I don't agree with having biology one year, chem one year, and physics one year.  Some kids might need that.  But this is one area I think child interest is the way to go.  I can see how they try to link it with history, and appreciate the idea I just disagree.
  • There's less emphasis placed on science and the arts (hmm, just like public school!) and more on reading, writing, math and history.  I might even suggest that could be because they have their own textbooks available on those subjects (except math).
  • I'm just not too thrilled with their own curriculum and it's given me a less positive view of the authors.  I recently looked at their history of the world series (my BA is in world history) and found it, um, lacking.  
Overall though I recommend the book.  Despite the things I don't like I still want to own my own copy.  There's enough good resources and info that I'd like to have it in my home.  If the obstacle for homeschooling is getting started, then this book is fantastic!! 
Check out their website for more info http://www.welltrainedmind.com/  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who's in your family?

I love the concept of family. My mother was the youngest of twelve children; she's still on good terms and in regular contact with her siblings. Despite the fact that I've only met most of my cousins, and many of them only once or twice, all of us who are members of the Payne clan know that we have connections.

Need a place to stay while in the area? Sure! So what if we're only vaguely aware we're related; we'll learn more about each other and help a family member out. It's a marvelous feeling, one of belonging.

I have been blessed in the past year to add to our family in multiple ways. Our youngest boy was born, and I gained a new set of in-laws.

Huh?

We call them his "foster parents" sometimes, but people make weird assumptions. So they're just Virginia mom and Virginia dad.

My husband had mentioned in the past that when his parents moved back to the United States after living abroad that he stayed behind with a family of the same faith for quite some time. When we moved East, he mentioned that their house would only be a couple hours out of our way on our trip to our new home. He had been in regular contact with them.

I felt weird about this. Are you sure they'll want us in their house for a week? We have two noisy kids! I don't know these people! We're not even related! Turns out I had no need to fear; they were wonderful and kind to my swollen, pregnant, and tired self.

I have been given the blessing of a third mother and father in my life. Another family who care deeply about my husband, myself, and my children. More people to turn to for advice in difficult situations. A place to go when we have a long weekend to enjoy playing games, cooking together, and discussing whatever suits our fancy.

It has taught me that making investments in good relationships is something that reaps incredible rewards. We really can choose to expand the family circle, and it's a circle that can grow more loving the larger it becomes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thy Will Be Done

Nothing aggravates my anxiety like church callings.  There's only one calling that doesn't give me panic attacks and that is primary pianist.  I love primary pianist!
Right now I'm the Cubmaster in our ward.  I have no experience with cub scouts.  I've never done anything with cub scouts.  And now I'm in charge of them and it scares me to tears.  Literally.
I go to every training thing I can and come away feeling inadequate.  I feel so unsure of what Heavenly Father wants from me with this calling.  Does He want me to become what all the trainers want?  Someone who's over the top and goes all out and plans every detail.  Or does He want me to bring my own spin to things?  Casual, within budget, and fast.  I think it's the latter, but every time I go to anything scouting I come away feeling discouraged because I am NOT over the top and obsessed with scouting.  I'm just not.  
So, yeah, I'm feeling contentious with myself.  Am I supposed to be Nephi and be this great leader or can I just be Sam, righteous, but certainly not one to build a boat.  I feel like I'm in that game where you're blindfolded and trying to find your way across the room and all these different voices are telling you how to get there.  And all the noise in my head has made it impossible for me to hear that ONE voice that will tell me the answer.

My husband gave me a blessing last night and God basically said, "I didn't pick this calling for you because it was easy." And then told me to do what it takes to have the spirit in my home more to calm my nerves. 

If there's one thing I've learned from getting rid of TV, it's that we are surrounding by things that offend the spirit and we don't even realize it.  We've become so desensitized!  The noise, the crude humor, the music, the stuff, and the laziness all drive Him away.  I didn't realize how much media I rationalized until I removed myself from it.  So I need to remove myself from the rest if I am going to be able to deal with my stress, I think.  

This is the hard part.  It's easy to get rid of tv and remove yourself from that.  It's harder to remove yourself from worrying about other people's opinions of you and what they think you should be doing.  It's easy to get rid of physical clutter in your home, harder to get rid of the mental and spiritual clutter we allow into our minds.  Laziness is probably my biggest problem.  And I think that means the one I need to take care of first.  Yikes!  It's worth it though, if I can feel confident about my calling and the rest of the things in my life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On Tackling Fear

There are tasks in my life that I avoid because I don't think I will enjoy them. Driving more than a few minutes. Making certain phone calls. Approaching a situation where I am uncertain what to do.

On car trips, I've always been the one to sit in the passenger seat and dole out snacks, read maps, and keep the driver awake. But today, I drove the 260 miles to take the children to see one of my sets of in-laws. Josh has various meetings and a conference this week, so he's joining us on Friday night.

I just thought of my trip as 9 jaunts to and from a local town that I visit once a month or so. And it cut down on the fear factor, amazingly. Who knew that a simple re-naming of the task would make it feel so much simpler?

Now I'm a smart and capable woman, but there are things that leave me feeling like I must be 10 years old for how I dread them. It doesn't mean I have to keep things the way they are; it's good to choose to sidestep your comfort zone for a while. I feel much more confident today than I have in a long time.

Even if that first bathroom stop was tricky!

So what kinds of things strike fear into your heart? And what are you going to do about it?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

K12 vs own curriculum

The decision to home school is huge! I read at least a dozen books before making the decision.* Now that I decided to do it, the next huge decision has been HOW?
How would I teach my child? What would I use? What did I expect him to learn?
I felt overwhelmed and questioned my ability to do this. So I applied for K12. If you haven't heard of K12 then you aren't on the internet much. :)  Their ads are everywhere!!  It's an online school curriculum that many online charter schools use. The bonus: you get all your curriculum (and sometimes a computer and printer) FREE and already put together. Mom (or dad) is free to just teach.
I like it because you're child takes a placement test so if they're in 2nd grade and reading at a 5th grade level and doing 3rd grade math then that's what they'll do! I also liked that it was free. Because home schooling can get expensive!!! There's also major discounted trips to local museums and the zoo so the kids can "get socialized", whatever THAT means. I'd like to undo all the "socialization" my kid got at school this year, thanks!
Anyway, I figured this was a good way to get my feet wet. To find out if I was really ready to home school. However, now that my son was accepted I'm beginning to have misgivings. That's putting it lightly. I've decided we're not going to use it at all. Because I know others are debating this system I will tell you why.
It's still public school, it's just at home. You're still expected to do 5 hours a day and from the reviews I read you'll definitely do it. It's very intensive. You also have a teacher assigned to you that you are supposed to talk to every other day. It has no overlapping of subjects. So more time is spent doing school. And if the curriculum doesn't really fit your child, tough.
So I took some time to really plan out what I wanted my child to learn and what he needed to learn) and now I feel totally confident that creating the curriculum myself is what's right for us.
And now I am SO EXCITED!!!
I can't wait to start!! We're going to begin the second week of June so I'll be blogging about how it's going, our mistakes, our successes and how I've planned the curriculum.

*I recommend: Why Gender Matters (Sax), The Well Trained Mind (Bauer), Endangered Minds (Healy) and In Defense of Childhood (Mercogliano).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Preschool Thoughts

My oldest son is 4 1/2 years old. Most, although not all, of his church friends are in preschool now or will start preschool in the fall.

schoolbus front

My boy, however, will not. I thought I'd tell you why, starting with what my ideal preschool would look like.

There would be a comfortable structure, with time every day for my son to choose their own make-believe roles. There would be time outside. There would be fairy tales. Time for creativity every day. The food would be nutritious and comforting. The teachers would love and care for their kids, making an effort to understand and connect with the kids in the classroom.

I know there are preschools that fit my parameters here in North Carolina. I also know that they are WAY out of my graduate school stipend budget.

So I'm making the best and most frugal choice for my family. We'll avoid preschool, while incorporating those aspects I value into our daily lives. We now have a morning routine for "school". We spend time outside every day. I'm checking out books of classic fairy tales from the library, learning them so that I can be a better storyteller.

And we'll make our own way, and the Lord will bless us as I recognize responsibility for this stewardship.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"And then proceed to read some more..."

I've been thinking after Em's post. Kids really are sponges.
We used to watch a lot of tv. You guys know how it is with toddlers. It's SO easy to let them keep watching. We had the PBS lineup memorized. Because for some reason if it's PBS that means it's okay for them watch for hours on end, right?




Does anyone else's kid get obsessed with whatever has been watched recently? We've watched some old Dr Who for movie nights and now my son talks about it ALL THE TIME.
Just wondering.
Anyway, I've had this going through my head all day. It's one of my favorites to quote to my kids when they want to watch movies all day :)
I also might quote it subversively when my husband mentions buying a tv....

"Mike Teavee"

(from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl)

"The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set–
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotized by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all the shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink–
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK–HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy–Winkle and–
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole–
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks–
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start–oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
P.S. Regarding Mike Teavee,
We very much regret that we
Shall simply have to wait and see
If we can get him back his height.
But if we can't–it serves him right."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reflections on Parenting

Want to know if you're doing a good job speaking kindly to your children and moderating your tone of voice?

Listen to what's coming out of those same children's mouths.

"STOP IT!" "No!" "Owwwwwwwww-uh!"

Do you hear a lot of whining? Moaning? Bickering? Complaining? General expressions of discontent? I can tell you that the phrases and tones that drive me crazy, my kids picked up from their parents, friends, and favorite movies.

And I have control over those influences! I can pay attention to what's coming out of my mouth. I can carefully screen the screens, so to speak. I can watch when friends come over and encourage kind speech.

The influence we have over children is incredibly powerful stuff. So let's hear it, tell me what your kids say that's nails on a chalkboard to you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How My Husband Threw Out Our TV

I cannot get this post to be what I want. So I'm just going to put it out and hope the idea comes across.
How many times have you thought, "If only my husband would ________ then everything would be great. Mine has changed a lot throughout the years but it all comes down to the simple idea of "I'll be happy when...." That NEVER works.

Make it a Marriage
I remember coming across this Ensign article once when looking for marriage help on lds.org. It's about having a less active spouse. Now, this wasn't the situation I was in, but the message of the article struck me and changed my feelings toward my less than perfect husband (Can we PLEASE not talk about his less than perfect wife!). Read it; apply it to whatever annoys you about your spouse.

“If no success can compensate for failure in the home, I knew that God certainly didn’t want me to be resentful of my husband. Heavenly Father wanted our family’s success and happiness, not our breakup. That realization changed my perspective.”

Sometimes, well, usually, I make it all about me or if I'm really feeling manipulative I make it about the kids too. I forget that we're a marriage, that we're trying to help each other. When I find myself really frustrated with him it helps me to serve him. To do nice things that make his life easier. Like you guys mentioned, they get really stressed. It usually softens him up and I feel better about myself too.

Respect
I've had times in my marriage where I want to make things happen and my husband is just not on board. And there's times where I can barely get out of bed and he wants to make a temple attendance schedule. I have to remember that we aren't always on the same page. We both have highs and lows and I need to respect his the way I want him to respect mine.

“Dave is a grown man, responsible for himself,” she explains. “I’m responsible for me, for teaching my children, and for setting an example. Whether my husband is active or not, he’s been a great father to our children, a well-respected member of our community, and a completely supportive husband."

Focus on the positive! Without being manipulative, tell him how nice it was have us all quietly reading with the tv off. Tell him you noticed your son really responded to him turning off the xbox and playing a game of catch. Tell him he looks good in blue! Just don't tell him every time he wants Sports Center the baby Jesus cries!

Set The Example
My second year of marriage I took a class on consumer health. It changed me. One of the required books was Your Money or Your Life and THAT changed me.

But my husband didn't take the class. Or read the book.

He still wanted the big tv. He wanted every game system. And we had a lot of arguments. Sometimes I nagged and made him feel guilty. Sometimes I joined him and we played games together. Sometimes compromise works. Sometimes it makes you lose the effectiveness of your argument.
A few years ago I started really getting into minimalism and my husband liked the idea, but never did much about it. I kept talking about and saying, "I wish we could just get rid of the tv" and he'd get defensive.

Then I realized I wasn't really practicing what I thought we my own ideals. I still had so much craft stuff and trinkets. So I started really minimizing. Getting rid of things I loved. And I would tell my husband how it felt. How sometimes it was hard but mostly it was liberating. I made it about me and my process and not about how he should do it too.

And suddenly, one day he cleaned out his closet.

And he caught the decluttering bug and one day while looking at our living room he said the tv took up too much room and let's just get rid of it. And the tv stand. Which also meant I had to let go of the stereo. So I did. He still wants a replacement tv some day. We'll deal with at when some day comes.

I reflect on this a lot because if you told me 5 years ago my husband would toss the tv and put his xbox in the shed I would have laughed at you. But I really think that when I stopped nagging and was just happy doing what I thought would make our family happier he was able to understand it better.

I was lucky. My husband decided he liked it too. Eventually. Now, lest you think I believe this to be a panacea, we still have the gun issue in our home. He wants them, I don't. And we can't agree on it. If you have a situation like this (home schooling, maybe?) all I can offer is to have a very honest conversation. I decided to let my husband keep them after ours. It's really hard for me, but the peace is nice. And like I tell my kids, "sometimes it's healthy to not get your way all the time." right?

“I think of the most patient person who ever lived on this earth: the Savior. Who could have been more long-suffering than he with all of us imperfect mortals?"

Friday, May 13, 2011

You Are What You Eat

Recently I've been pondering a lot about diet. Thanks to my friend Michelle's Slim Down for Summer Challenge, I've lost a size mostly as a result of drinking more water and cutting out refined sugars. No change in how much I eat; just haven't baked any cookies in a while.

After reading this article about eczema * in babies being affected by diet, and this article ** about the potential toxicity of sugar, I'm led to wonder if I'm feeding my family as well as I could be.

I used to get my kids trader joe's cereal bars as a "treat" for behaving in the store. 17 grams of sugar per bar! I love prepared foods for making my life easier as a mom; boxed soups from Whole Foods? As much as 12 grams of sugar per serving.

I want my kids to be happy to eat whole foods; I know we all need more fruits and vegetables. So the trick is how to go about getting more of them into our bellies.


* The author's 9 month old had an outbreak of eczema after eating solid foods. She cut out dairy and grains and it went away; she reintroduced the foods after a year.

**The short version: we eat FAR too much sugar as a society. We don't think it's toxic at low levels. Lots of research suggests it's very dangerous.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Millions of Papers

Well darn if I didn't have an amazing weekend! Saturday we attended a surprise party for our good friend who just earned a PhD. My husband, this friend, and this friend's father are all accounting researchers and had fun talking shop. Our friend's sister was on my dorm floor at BYU freshman year, and seeing her was a treat. Then on Mother's day, Josh put the kids all down for naps and let me take a nap while he fixed lunch. And then let me take another nap. Heaven!

But I come to you, my friends, with a plea for help. I am inundated with paper! Magazines, recipes on sticky notes, paperwork, letters, cards, coupons, receipts, you get the idea.
My financial messNot my house, photo courtesy melted_snowball on flickr

I have a "home management" notebook, but frankly it's a mess. In the past two weeks I have lost two sets of paperwork that needed to be filled out and returned. I have two cubbies in our desk that are for my effects, and a purse that sits on the floor.

Does anyone have any good ways of managing paperwork? I am at a loss, I keep organizing it but it never sticks. It's a right mess within a day or two. I recycle lots of papers, too.

I want to hear about your system for dealing with the paper clutter that attacks our households on a daily basis.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The calming effect of Routines

Calm seas at sunset - North Brighton Beach
I'm a reader. Mostly non-fiction lately, but when I pick up a novel it's hard to stop. 400 pages in a day and no clean dishes and I still can't stop.

In August I'm starting an online graduate program in MLIS. If I don't get the basics under control, the classes will be too stressful on top of being full-time mom and wife to a PhD student.

So I'm reluctantly turning to routines. I love thinking them up; following through isn't my strength. This week Josh suggested a morning routine. His self-ascribed primary love language is other people heeding his advice, so I paid attention. All week the first hour of my day has felt worthwhile.

1. Kids get up, sit at the table while I make breakfast. They can't play because we have downstairs neighbors who like to sleep in.
2. They eat, I eat. We eat together.
3. Leo draws or plays quietly while Guy does school*.

That's it. All these things correspond to goals I have for my family. Simple, but I feel so accomplished. What's stopping you from integrating your goals and values into our daily life? Doesn't matter what it is, right now I'll just say this; routine makes kids feel safe and happy.

What can you do? Breakfast at the same time every day. Doing your bedtime tasks in the same order. Reading together every day after lunch. Lighting a candle before dinner.

So if you're feeling uninspired (should that be our code word for lazy?) remember that ROUTINE MAKES KIDS FEEL SAFE AND HAPPY. Safe and happy means calmer kids. And we all want some of those!



*He works on memorizing a scripture, and then reads his phonics readers to me and practices writing. (Letters to family, a grocery list, or simply copywork).

Monday, May 2, 2011

How to talk so husbands will listen: brainstorm session

Communication in marriage--let's put our heads together!

Note: every relationship is different. Our marriages and especially our roles as wife and mother are related, but not identical, to each other. So no hurtful assumptions, "Men always . . . " or "Husbands never . . ."

The best thing for opening communication in my marriage has been family council. Josh and I set aside Sunday evenings to have an open session. Anything can be discussed or planned. Notes are kept. Our basic outline is as follows:
Prayer
Review the week and journal anything of interest
Review goals and resolutions (week, month, long-term)
Set or revise goals and resolutions
Next week's schedule
How can we help each other next week?
What can we do to help the kids learn?
Additional topics


This helps us in our goal of "being one" in marriage. It gives us a safe space to discuss more difficult issues we may be facing. If anything comes up during the week that might be a hard conversation to have, or if we're struggling to be kind to each other during a discussion, we can always table it for Sunday night by making a note in our journal.

I have one more note, and it echoes Michelle's comment on a former post. NEVER underestimate stress! Your husband may not realize he's stressed until the pressure is off; he might not be aware that stress or even simply being very busy is affecting his moods, or his ability to sleep, or his interest in you or in the children.

Wives, be kind to your husbands! Remember that there are unique burdens they shoulder, and their drives to care for their families and to do good are a gift from God.


Please chime in with your own advice in the comments.