Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Husband is a Martian – Part 1

In honor of our recent 17th anniversary, I’m doing a series on personality types, learning styles and culture and how this has been a challenge for us in our communication. I hope by sharing from our experiences and from what we've learned (and are still learning) that your relationships will grow and flourish.

The truth is I’m married to a Martian. At times, I was convinced that God must have a made a mistake when He put the two of us together. For one, I’m a verbal communicator, processing while I speak. There would be times when the things I said to my Martian husband were misunderstood and then, just like in a court of law, were used against me. I could say the exact same things to other people and get the response and understanding that I was expecting, but not with my Martian. In fact, he used to say that I was the only person on this planet who communicates like I do.

We were fortunate to discover that our differences were not that uncommon to mankind. One of the courses that we did together twice was very helpful in making sense of all the confusion, which was the DISC Model of Human Behavior. You can’t put people in boxes, but you can learn to understand them better.

The D stands for Dominant type people. The I stands for Inspiring type people. The S stands for Supportive type people. The C stands for Cautious type people.

From the courses we took and this free online test, we learned that I am a blend of I and D with my I style being slightly stronger. Some of my strengths are that I am enthusiastic, outgoing, personable, decisive and independent, while some of my weaknesses can be that I am excitable, reacting, talkative, harsh and dominating.

My husband is a blend of C and S with C being his dominant style. Some of his strengths are that he is thorough, orderly, serious, supportive and dependable, while some of his weaknesses can be that he is critical, indecisive, picky, dependent and slow.

As you can see, in many ways hubby and I are complete opposites. This means we often rub each other up the wrong way. In one area where we are similar is that we both tend to be task-oriented and not always enough people-oriented. If we are too task-oriented then we can push people aside, which is hurtful. Because of my husband’s culture, he has been good at reminding me to mind my manners when I’m with others. I’ll discuss our cultures in a later post.

Here is part 2 at My Husband is a Martian - Part 2.

Further resources:
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - 6

Before the Church

Inside the Church

Leaving the Church
Sorry for the quality of these photos. I scanned them in from my wedding album and this is how they turned out. I think it would have worked better if I could have removed the photos from the album, but they are stuck in... kind of like married life! Hahaha!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Married for 17 Years!

Yesterday was our anniversary and as the title states, we’ve been married for 17 years! We had a great day with my in-laws coming over and bringing along with them good food, gifts and a happy time. Later in the afternoon, our kids’ fantastic godparents visited along with their two adorable children and stayed until after dinner. It was truly a day of eating and making merry.

In honor of our anniversary, I will be writing a post about our marriage. I’ll touch briefly on personality types, learning styles, and warm and cold climate cultures, so keep a look-out for it in the near future. It hasn’t always been easy, but working through our differences has been worth it. And, believe me, we still have our differences! But, we have our similarities too! Here’s part of a poem I wrote to my husband in 1997:

I know we’ve had some struggles
Struggles in every way
But God is so much bigger
He seems bigger everyday

So, I just wanted to tell you
That I love you anyway
Even through all the hurt…

Read the full poem on my poetry blog Consider the Lilies.

17 years and 4 kids later... Here we are standing next to Samantha, our third child.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Learning Good Behavior from a 4-Year-Old

When writing posts about parenting, I usually try to put my best foot forward. Sometimes I allow my readers glimpses of my weaknesses, but mostly the topics give me the opportunity to share from years of experience. This is one of those posts where I let my readers know that I’m far from perfect, because today’s two lessons on good behavior I have learned from a 4-year-old. My daughter, Amanda, is that 4-year-old.

The first lesson I learned is on sharing. I have a sweet tooth. In the first years of married life, if I bought a soft-serve ice-cream and my husband wanted to share it, I’d tell him to buy his own one. If I had a candy bar, oh baby, I wanted that thing all for myself! For some reason, my husband loves sharing my sweet indulgences. It works with him the other way too. If he has something that looks really good, he will never not share it with me. Over time, I loosened up in the area of sharing.

So, what has Amanda taught me on that subject? She has taught me about the joy of sharing. She would rather share her few Smarties (M&Ms) than keep them for herself. You should see the smile on her face when she goes around to every member of our family with candy in her hand. I have tried to stop her from sharing in the past. That’s because we don’t allow her a whole kid’s size box (with M&Ms it would be a small packet) at once. We limit the amount that she’s allowed to eat just like we did with our other kids.

I would reason with her whenever I suggested that she shouldn’t share. My reasoning was that there are six members in our family, and if she shared her few treats with everyone, she’d have hardly any left for herself. Once, I even put my foot down, but you should have seen how sad that made her. I felt really bad. She wasn’t uncomprehending what I was trying to say, she was just finding more joy in sharing than having those extra sweets for herself. Now, I’ve learned that there is a greater joy in sharing than in self-indulging.

The second lesson I learned from her is on having a gracious attitude. Yesterday, she demonstrated it so well for hubby and me. Every Thursday she’s allowed to take her little Disney Princesses bicycle to school with her. It’s part of her teacher’s preschool program for the kids, and she loves taking her bike, but sometimes we forget.

Amanda said to her daddy this time, “Daddy, it’s okay if you forget. Teacher also has bikes that we can use.” Her words were like a healing balm to my soul. If someone forgets to do something that I’ve asked them to do, then I throw a small fit. I need to be more gracious toward the people in my life.

Related post: Learning Doesn’t Only Happen in School

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - 5

The previous post was about my bedroom make-over. Since the pictures weren't that great, I took some more to share with you today. The painting was made by Amanda at preschool in 2010. Her hand print she made this year, 2012. I hope you like my collage. I did it for free using PicMonkey. You can learn how to make a collage on my photography blog 1camera1mom. While you're there, have a look around for more photo editing tips.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

My Bedroom Make-Over on a Tight Budget

Today I want to share with you my bedroom make-over. It’s not really a make-over, but that sounds better than the alternative title that I had in mind: Adding a Few Touches. With our tight budget, we had to make a little go a long way. It was my husband who got the ball rolling while we were at the grocery store where there were different vases and decorative pieces that caught his eye.

When we first moved into this house, our cupboards had a space for a TV. We are a one TV kind of family and since our TV is in the family room, we never knew what to do with the big open space in our cupboard. In the before picture you can see that we temporarily put a white continental pillow in the space. In the after picture you can see the three new center pieces that we bought in silver and purple. The two silver pieces were from the grocery store. The painting was made by Amanda at preschool and there is a bit of purple in her picture, so we put that up too.

In the before picture you can also see a small bit of our extra storage bags on the top shelf. This never created ambiance and was a problem. My husband came up with a solution. He grabbed three cushions off our couches from the family room and placed them in front of our bags.

We also bought two silver continental pillow cases, two purple pillow cases, and two purple and silver bed-side lamps from an inexpensive home store. The colors that were already in the room were browns, grays, white, gold and silver. Adding the purple color worked surprisingly well. I’m sorry the pictures aren’t so clear, but there are silver sequins edging the silver pillow cases and a band of rhinestones around the purple lamps, which match well with the rhinestones around the purple candle holder.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Reading Time

When my first three children were younger, I used to read to them in the evenings. It wasn’t always a regular occurrence, but over time I managed to finish entire books including the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.

With Amanda, our reading time is usually at naptime. Not only is reading to her a valuable part of her development, but it’s also good quality time for just the two of us.

“I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve.” ― Charles-Louis De Secondat Montesquieu

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” – Einstein

"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child." – Dr. Seuss

When do you read to your child?

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest where you can read more great quotes that I’ve pinned and other cool stuff.

I also recommend that you read my post Introducing Your Child to the World of Books.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - 4

Amanda taking Benny for a walk.
Recommended post: Why We Don't Have a Cat (funny)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Big Day for Our Daughter

Sunday was a big day for our daughter, Jessica. She had the opportunity to perform with her dance group at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town at the Jazz Dance Festival called Azishe, which is Zulu for “let it burn.” It was not only a big day, but also a long one. She had to be at the bus before 8 am and they only got back after 10 pm. I personally felt sorry for the bus driver, but they did buy him a ticket to watch the performance.

Jessica doing an over-split

Jessica is the youngest dancer in her group. She used to be a rhythmic gymnast and decided at the beginning of this year to try contemporary dance instead. We all went to watch her performance. Only Amanda was too young and couldn’t go. When Robbie, my hubby, explained to her that only children five years and older were allowed at the event, she replied, “That’s rude!”

Jessica practicing dance moves at home

She got to have her own fun night out by staying with her grandpa instead. It was his first time babysitting her alone. That’s because her grandma came with us. My father-in-law was happy to stay behind to watch the end of the men’s final Wimbledon match between Roger Federer and Andy Murray. I think it was very brave of him, because he had to keep her entertained for five hours (this included our traveling time to and from Cape Town along with the jazz dance show).

Amanda with her grandparents

Related post: Missing My Girl

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Amanda and Me Time

Most of the afternoon and evening, Amanda and I had the house to ourselves. Since it was just the two of us eating dinner, I asked her what she wanted. She chose chicken noodle soup, but I only had cream of chicken soup, so she went with that. It’s wintertime in the southern hemisphere, so soup was perfect for a cold rainy night.

The two of us built puzzles, watched Disney Junior, played with wooden blocks called Planx and then made cinnamon sugar popcorn. The popcorn was delicious and I had four small helpings. Amanda kept track of how many servings I took, because she wasn’t sure if it was fair that I had four helpings while she only had three. I told her that I was bigger. That answer usually works.

After getting her ready for bed, I let her snuggle under a blanket with me on the couch while I watched the Style channel and Home channel. We only recently started paying for a few more channels; mainly so that Robbie could watch his sports, but we knew that there would be a bigger selection for all of us. Up until about a month ago, we had four South African stations plus a few on religion and news.

One of our new favorite programs that Robbie and I like to watch is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The food always looks so amazing. I’ve been really out of touch with what goes on in my home country of America. I watched a bit of Extreme Couponing and I was impressed. Coupons are hard to come by in this country and the savings that they offer are very low. If we ever move to the States, I’ll definitely take advantage of coupons.

I’m leaving you with an original piece of art by Amanda. She drew and painted it all by herself. I think for a future Wordless Wednesday I should post more of her work.

By Amanda Morley age 4 (July 1, 2012)
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - 3

How I Spent My 4th of July

Standing in a line outside the South African Revenue Service
Reading in the sound room at the Blind Institute, South Africa
It was just a normal day here in South Africa. I only remembered it was my 4th of July once I read the time and date inside the SARS building. Robbie (my hubby) braved the cold wind and slight drizzle with me while we waited outside in the cold for an hour. We got there 20 minutes before 8 am to get a good spot in the line and they only began letting people through the door at 8:15 am. I guess that's Africa for you. The tax man was a friendly lady and she processed my paperwork quickly. That was a huge a relief.

Shortly after, I went to the Blind Institute where I volunteer for about 2 hours once a week by reading in a sound room, which gets recorded and distributed to the visually impaired. It can be anything from novels to Christian religious to text books and exam papers.

For dinner, my hubby surprised me with a 4th of July treat for his American wife. He picked up American-style chocolate chip cookies at the store and served it with vanilla ice-cream.

P.S. My Wordless Wednesday has 195 words not including the captions or this message. I guess it's not that wordless!
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Baking and Counting

Amanda loves helping me in the kitchen, especially when I’m baking, because there are things that she can safely do. The other day we made pancakes together. (I know, technically it’s not baking, since we use a frying pan.) Her job was to add in the ingredients once I’d measured them and then to help me mix it all together.

The recipe that I used is from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. My mom brought the cook book with her from the States some years back and I’ve used it more than any of my other cook books. I usually like making the buttermilk pancakes, but when I don’t have buttermilk in the fridge then I just make the regular milk pancakes.

Since I have a big family, I tripled the recipe. Tripling the recipe meant that we got to add more of everything, which meant more fun for Amanda. I had her count the quantities as we added them to the bowl. When we got to the sugar, I used a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, which meant that she would have to count that much higher.

I can tell that Amanda is getting more confident with her numbers and simple math. The other day she asked for two slices of avocado on toast. (We mash them up and add a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste, but leave the pepper off for Amanda.) I didn’t think she’d finish two, so I tried to make one slice look like more by cutting it into four squares. I was unable to trick her. She said, “Mom, that’s not two slices. You cut one slice into four!”
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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Text Messaging

My eldest daughter is 14 years old. At the moment she is going out with a well-brought up boy who is 2 years older. They hardly ever see each other, which suits us as parents just fine. They go to different high schools and he plans to become a professional golfer, so he’s always jet-setting inside South Africa from one golf tournament to the next. Also, his parents don’t allow him to socialize much, because they want him to focus on his grades when he’s not playing golf.

About a week ago, he sent her a text message at night. He asked her what she was doing. She texted him back to say that she was on her laptop (not literally, of course) and asked him what he was doing. He said he was on his way home and he could hardly see his mobile phone. Being the no-nonsense kind of girl that my daughter is, she asked him if he was being driven home by car. He replied that he was on his motorbike. She quickly sent him back another message, which stated that he must get off his phone immediately and not reply until he got home. Thankfully, he listened to her and later sent her a text to say that he had arrived home safely.

It just goes to show that young people, even the ones with strict parents like her boyfriend’s parents, still do foolish things. Recently, I’ve seen two different images on the internet of car accidents where the car was completely written off and a caption that read, “Hope the text was worth it.”
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