Monday, March 28, 2011

Good News!

Isaac was accepted into the Syracuse Arts Academy, which is a local charter school, this coming school year when he starts kindergarten!  We are very excited about this!  We have tried to get Eden into this school since we moved here, but for those of you who don't know, most charter schools have a lottery process, and we haven't been lucky enough to get picked thus far.  Even for next year, only Isaac's name was drawn-we put down the option of having our kids individually accepted.  Eden is actually registered for the Utah Virtual Academy, another charter school, for next year.  This is actually a public school, but online.  So, basically I just help her do the work that a real teacher plans and gives her.  She actually has a teacher that we stay in contact with, mostly through email.  We feel like this is a perfect fit for Eden at this time, and I'm so excited and relieved that all the school pieces are falling into place for us!  And, because Isaac will be in the Syracuse Arts Academy next year, the following year, anybody from his family gets first dibs in placement for that year!  That means that EmmaLee will be able to go there (she is suppose to start kindergarten that next year), and even Eden will be able to go there if she wants to by then!  So, it's a great time to be getting our foot in the door!  Who knows if we will actually still be living here by then, but if we are, at least we'll be in!

So, moving on to communication styles.  I will first talk about Small/Shop talk.  Small/Shop talk are the pleasant ways couples use to connect and to exchange routine information. 

Small talk is the light conversation or chit chat about everyday things.  While this way of talking may be commonplace, it is exceptionally important for staying connected and confident with each other.  The intentions of small talk are to: connect, update, enjoy each other, maintain harmony, and stay in touch.  The intention is to be: friendly, pleasant, sociable, playful, and available.  The mood is: relaxed, contented, calm, comfortable, and peaceful. 

This style:
-Facilitates comfortable "comings" and "goings," connecting and disconnecting.
-Supplies an initial sense (visual and tonal) of how well each partner is doing.
-Allows each person to synchronize, "get up to speed," with the other by reliving the day's activities, events, and challenges.
-Provides a way of simply being together, sharing activities, and enjoying each other.
-Can be used to cover, skirt, deflect, or avoid dealing with an unresolved issue.
-Lessens, (or disappears) when couples experience: Severe or continuous conflict; Extended pressures or stress, for example, from extensive work schedules.

Impact of Small Talk:
-Relaxes and refreshes a relationship.
-Sometimes lightens a tense mood and eases pressure.
-Keeps conversations on an ordinary, surface level.
-Fosters annoyance if the other person wants to go to a more serious or deeper level.

Your Small Talk as a couple demonstrates that you are connecting with and enjoying one another.  Without it, as time passes, you grow distant.

Shop Talk is the conversation about tasks and necessary details of living.  The intention is to: inform, monitor activities and schedules.  It is intended to be: responsible, cooperative, and productive.  The mood is: polite and occupied.

Impact of Shop Talk
-Handles routines or informs of changes in the maintenance of your life.

Shop Talk keeps things moving and organized, but if that's all there is for you as a couple, your relationship lacks vitality.

Next time I will talk about Control, Fight, and Spite Talk.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Picture Update

I haven't really posted a lot of pictures lately, so I thought I would add some!
I love this picture of "Super Ammon"!  Doesn't he just win your heart over with his dashing smile?!  
Rob and I decided that we wanted to get a zoo membership for the year, so about a month and a half ago, we headed out to the zoo!  The kids enjoyed seeing all the animals, and even though it was still a bit cold, it was nice to get out of the house!  We are looking forward to many visits to the zoo this year!

The other pass we splurged on this year was a State Parks pass.  We are planning on doing a lot of camping this year, and thought it would be fun to visit a lot of the state parks.  And, living literally 10 minutes away from Antelope Island, it is fun for us to be able to take little rides over there anytime we feel like it!  It's fun to see the animals, and it really does feel miles away from civilization, which can give us a nice break!  We went out today, and the kids enjoyed taking a little scenic walk!
If you look at the previous picture, you can see down in the background a stretch of sand and then the Great Salt Lake.  This picture was taken down on that stretch of sand.
Check out the chompers!  Ammon has been by far our fastest teether.  With my other kids, they were lucky to barely be breaking teeth at their first birthdays, but at 9 1/2 months, Ammon already has 10 teeth in, 6 on top (the latest two just broke through two days ago so you can't see them in the picture) and 4 on the bottom (two more bottom teeth broke through today-no wonder we haven't slept for a week with this kid)!!  I've said it before, but Ammon and Isaac are going to be "ham" brothers; as soon as Ammon saw me with the camera, he had to give me a "ham" smile! 

Finally, we were going to go to St. George this weekend for a little vacation, but Eden got sick at the beginning of the week, and we decided that it wasn't worth the chance of going down and having one of the other kids end up sick!  So, we cancelled and instead took the kids to Chuck E Cheese later in the week.  Not quite the vacation Rob and I had in mind, but a lot cheaper, and the kids had fun!

For the next few posts at least, I am going to be focusing on communication.  The information is mostly from a book called "Couple Communication I: Collaborative Marriage Skills" by Sherod Miller, Phyllis Miller, Elam W. Nunnally, and Daniel B. Wackman.  This book is from my Marriage and Family course from USU, and while the book is meant to be used to improve marriage skills, the communication information is good for anybody in any situation! 

Because it is so late, I'm only going to share a brief idea about communication.  It is just something to think about before I share more detailed information in following posts.  When you talk to people, your message contains two parts: What you say-the content and How you say it-the style.  Most of us know that how you say something can change the meaning of what you say.  To communicate well, we know that you do need the what part, but it is often the how, or style, that determines how good of a communicator you are. 

How you talk and listen to someone falls into one of four major communication styles.  Each of the talking styles corresponds to a listening style, and every style has typical behaviors-unskilled or skilled-associated with it that have a highly predictable impact upon a conversation.  The four styles are small/shop talk, control/fight/spite talk, search talk, and aware talk.  Next time, I will begin sharing more detailed information about the different talking styles of communication.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Change and SSS Aproach

Another new chapter has again come to our lives!  This last week Rob and I made the decision to homeschool Eden, at least through the rest of this year.  There were some struggles and issues happening at school, and after seeking advice from several sources, we made the decision to homeschool Eden.  There are some issues we are working through that mostly just need time, which we won't be able to get at a normal school because of attendance rules.  So, we are off on a new adventure!  I was a bit weary to attempt homeschooling, mainly because I still have 3 younger children at home, including a nursing baby, and both Rob and I are in school as well with our own homework and assignments to get done every week.  But, the more we have gotten into it, the more excited I am!  Once we get the basic schedule figured out, I think we will actually be more organized and get everything done in a better way and feel like we are accomplishing more than we were before.  We have already gotten some supplies, and besides just teaching Eden, we got some simple things for EmmaLee and Isaac, who have never gone to preschool before.  They have really taken to the learning already and are excited for when we sit down for "school"!  Also, I somewhat have it easy, at least for the rest of this year because really Eden is right where she needs to be academically and is very smart.  The rest of this year is more just continuing to practice what she has already learned to become more and more fluent in all of it. 

So, with all this change, learning to find balance is even more important to me!  One technique that was taught in the same class as I have previously quoted from is the SSS Approach.  The SSS stands for Support, Share, and Strategize.

Support Collaboration is key.  Support your spouse or partner on specific household and childcare tasks.  Work as a team on certain issues involving your family and home life and delegate certain responsibilities and tasks in a fair manner.  Tap into skills/qualities you use in your career to help in your family and home life as well.  Discuss work and family life priorities with your spouse/partner and what you both consider these to successfully look like.

Share Delineating a responsibility as completely "yours" or "mine" discourages sharing in tasks and it discourages taking over certain responsibilities when it is necessary at times.  Share in your family tasks even if you decide on who has primary responsibility over that task.  It is necessary for you to make choices and remain flexible each day.  It's OK to feel guilty or feel insecure about your performance as a spouse/partner, parent, or employee.  Everyone experiences these feelings, and you should accept them.  Share your feelings of guilt and stress, as well as your insecurities, with your spouse/partner.

Strategize It's one thing to say you will share in a responsibility; it's another thing to actually do it.  Develop strategies or action plans with your spouse/partner on how you will handle certain responsibilities or regular issues that arise.  Together, write them down and discuss them as a team like you would prepare for a meeting or presentation. 

Take a few minutes now to think about one or two issues that you regularly struggle with, and think of an action plan to involve your spouse/partner using the SSS approach to help you balance these issues more effectively.  Then, sit down to discuss it with your spouse, and modify it together as needed.