Sunday, October 29, 2006

how we grow up

This is my family. :)

Aren't we cute?

And isn't this a really cheesy picture? ;)

Two summers ago, the O'Reilly clan (my mom's five sisters and all those attached to them) got together for a family reunion. And during the reunion, this family snapshot was taken. :)

When I look at this picture, I can't help but smile and think about how fortunate I am to have these four people to interact with, learn from and grow up with. I know that not everyone has warm fuzzy memories of their childhoods and their families, so I apologize for the warm fuzzies that are about to come forth. As a child, how I grew up felt right and normal because it was all I knew and all I could relate to. My parents supported me in everything (within reason) I wanted to do and built me up to be the person I am today. Sure, there were problems with curfews and unsuitable boyfriends and the often uncontrollable 'wenchiness' of being a teenager. But at the end of the day, things quietly worked themselves out and we moved on with life.

Fast forward to now. I don't live with the family I grew up with. Instead, I am starting a new family (sans kids, for now) with Matt. And with this new family, I am faced with the obvious fact that how I grew up and what I am accustomed to was not the same across the board. (Duh, right?) Now, Matt's parents are wonderful and kind people who I adore...but they are definitely not like my parents. My family is more quiet and tends to avoid conflict like the plague, while Matt's parents are more 'outgoing' and like to talk things out. And as a result, Matt grew up with different norms and ways of doing things than I did. While this isn't necessarily a problem, it does present a challenge in the ways in which we communicate and 'work things out' between us.

Whenever we argue or disagree about something, the issue itself is usually VERY trivial. Not even worth any additional words. But what turns this minor, insignificant squabble into an unpleasant and silence-filled argument is the way that we handle problems and conflict. Matt grew up used to talking things out and talking things through in a calm and collected manner. I grew up used to brief outbursts of defensive words, storming off (involving me and a slammed door) and notes of apology. After that, things were fine and we went on with life. While this might not be the best conflict resolution strategy, it's what I know. So now...when Matt and I disagree, my tendency is to go on the defensive, spit out whatever I have to say and then leave it at that so I can stew. (You should be glad to know that slammed doors are no longer a part of it...look at my progress).

Is this way of arguing stupid and childish? Absolutely. Do I know how to 'fix' it? Not yet. It surprises me how instinctual and immediate it is for me to react this way. Sometimes, I hear the words coming out of my mouth and I think, "What are you doing?!?!? You love him. He is so wonderful to you. STOP!!!!!" I know that I need to train myself to argue/discuss/disagree in a way that leads to a resolution for both of us - instead of just saying what I feel I need to say and hoping that it just goes away. But I realize nothing will just 'go away' because this man will be with me for the rest of my life. I chose to share my heart and my future with him - and why should that future be full of unhappiness and stupid fights? And even though I know that a smooth and problem-free life is impossible and outside my control, I know that I can do my part make our life together happy and healthy.

So...after all the rambling and yammering on...does anyone have suggestions about adjusting your communication style? This might sound like a cop-out, but I am surprised by how quickly I jump to defend myself and try to 'win' during an argument. I hate that I do it. And I want to fix it. Any advice or tips or anything from anyone would be appreciated. Because then I can put them into practice and, hopefully, be a better communicator, which sounds really cheesy as I type it...but whatever. Cheesiness is who I am. :)

Happy week to you all!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

twenty first graders, twenty-three years, one busy gal :)

first off - apologies to the few that visit this blog and read my rambling/ranting/worrying and are then left to wonder how it all turned out. looking back at my last few posts, i would be curious about whether it worked out, too. :)

so...where to begin?

i was transferred to a new school about a month and a half ago. it was hard. i did not like it. for a couple of days, i actually wished i had been fired. i realize now that this was crazy talk. while it took lots of work (to prepare the room and to 'train' these little kiddos), i can honestly say that i am settled and enjoying this experience of first year teaching. the staff has been incredibly supportive and i know that they will help me if i ever need anything.

as for the day-to-day stuff, first grade is busy. i don't know where the time goes, but i have been working long days. too long. i have decided i need to leave at 5:00. matt laughs at me and says 'ok...see you then'. i'm not sure that he believes me, but i can try. :) the curriculum is getting harder, which means there is more to teach in a limited time time. some of the kids (especially my english language learners) are getting a little wide-eyed at all the things expected of them. but there is a silver lining: i've been told it 'calms' a little bit before jumping back in again. i am waiting for the calm.

work stuff aside: life is good. matt and i celebrated a month of birthday festivities (he turned 25 on the 2nd). we spread out the presents all month and went to a yummy dinner at a trendy restaurant in downtown sj where we heard other young people go. we felt so young and hip. which is probably a little lame...because we should be those things...but are not. :) we made a delicious cake that was an almost replica of the top tier of our wedding cake - which we loved! even though both of us are super busy with work related stuff, it makes the time we can see eachother that much better.

we're heading north to visit my family this weekend for my dad's 50th birthday party - which i am very excited about! i haven't seen my family for a couple weeks, so it will be nice to catch up in person and just spend time together. i want to try and post more often...but whenever i get home i just want to eat dinner and veg and hang out with matt. maybe i can sneak little blogs in here and there. maybe they can be more interesting than long-winded updates about all things me. hope all is well with you - my whopping two or three readers. :) i love to read your blogs and hope mine can (eventually) be amusing as well.

have a super week friends.