Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mr. Ellis you’ve done good.

Well someone’s lovin’ herself this morning!  Yeah, and I’m bout to get into those deets. But first, these past two weeks have been a whirlwind and I’d like to give a shout out to Colin Tuis Nesbit, fabulous artist and dear friend.
 A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of hosting Colin while he installed a work at BYU. I was lamenting about the grief Chase was giving me and he suggested perhaps he has AD/HD, as Colin suffers from it.
The very next day I made an appointment with our physician and wiped out the local library’s shelf on the subject. While I’m on the self-praise theme-I know how to git r done!
I anticipated that having a Jr. Higher would be quite the adjustment for our family. It was the worst years of my life so I knew it wouldn’t be without some bumps. It’s been worse than bumps, we’re talking mountains! Not just increased school work load but missing assignments, failing grades, constant notes from teachers about behavior, administrator/parent conferences, even suspension. I was at a loss and the “How to raise a boy” and “teen parenting” books were not helping!
So as I’m pouring over these AD/HD books, things instantly started to make sense. I’m feeling empowered and hopefully, finally tools and explanations to help me!  I had to share these things with Jared! And as I’m listing the common signs and symptoms he’s like, oh yeah, I can relate.
No s***! I knew that! (I really should control those swearing outbursts in my head!) It was an ah-ha, even confirming, moment. And this flood of understanding comes to me. Here I was simply wanting Jared to never utter to me again (as I repeatedly dump my frustrations on him), “The reason Chase doesn’t take responsibility is because you do EVERYTHING for him” or “Why do you constantly repeat yourself to him” and “Make him work harder” blah-blah-blah. All the information I was reading was making me feel darn good because I was already instinctively doing things right. I just needed Jared’s empathy and to be on board too. Every accommodation Chase needed and I was providing were exact ones I provided for Jared x’s 10! Through Jared’s education and beyond! They came so naturally to me because Chase is his father’s son. I’ve always worked so hard with Chase so that he won’t be as dependent on me as Jared is!
We already went over the nugget of “Jared didn’t graduate high school” in an early blog and the hair ripping experience of getting him through that AND two higher degrees. The reality is even borderline ADD, AD/HD causes academic agony. It’s frustrating because you have a beautiful healthy person who is amazingly bright and capable but they’re underachieving in school. My Mr. was repeatedly tested in elementary school with no developmental or leaning problem diagnosis yet he repeated the 3rd grade and always did miserably academically! I’m studying that like Chase, Jared lacked a group of key cognitive skills known as the executive function, mainly: working memory and recall and activation.  These deficits make one avoid mentally exhausting tasks and contribute to disorganization, difficulty getting started and finishing work, forgetting assignments, procrastination on long-term projects, forgetting to turn in work, difficulty memorizing and recalling facts, trouble writing essays or reports, etc. Basically everything needed to do well in school short of attending.
The key to success: parent involvement, a partnership with your child throughout their educational years. Exhausting stuff, especially if there seems to be nothing wrong with the person and its chalked up to, “school is just not their thing”, or “they’re choosing to be lazy.” Here is where “developmental appropriate supervision” comes into play, i.e. Mrs. Jared Ellis.
From day 1 of my Mr.’s educational adventure I went over EVERYTHING he brought home, syllabuses, assignments, sloppy notes (did you know messy handwriting is a sign of AD/HD since they never had the attention span to take the time developing that skill?) you name it, if it was on paper I read it and followed through. Library research and papers were the things I focused on. Jared worked on in-class work and if he brought home a syllabus that had a heavy load of that, the class was dropped, especially ones that the grade relied on test scores. We favored courses with minimal in-class responsibility. It was very frustrating on my end when I tried to organize homework because if I had a question often times he couldn’t remember what was lectured.  Naturally he thrived in the studio art setting, he never had to sit down or memorize facts! He just had to create and that has always been his God given gift. His educational success was truly a product of our partnership effort. And of course it behooved me to do so because its scary being dependant on someone else for your social-economic status. I’m a homemaker! Wouldn’t it be in my best interest to get my husband as far ahead as I possibly could?!
I’ve told the man, there is no way under the blazing sun we are EVER getting a divorce, no other woman is going to benefit from my hard work! Honestly you see it all the time, creative artistic individuals who don’t get their dues until later in life and then some young thing sweeps in and reaps the reward. Because more often then not, creative people are sufferers from AD/HD, they don’t fit the academic mold and they’re seemingly stuck in their head all the time. They take work and a conscience effort not to harbor resentment for their weaknesses!
Obviously I’m committed to the man and I recently read its also recommended one stays curious about their partner for a successful marriage.  Is there no end to my man’s mysteries? He is defiantly going to continue to get lucky!

Monday, October 17, 2011

13 is probably too old to consider putting him up for adoption:

I’m not going to make the habit of blogging about my children. Mainly because most people could care less about other’s spawn. The only exception is grandparents, because said children are spawn of their spawn. But my oldest child, Chase, has been the cause of much lost sleep lately, and I’m expecting gray hairs to appear at any moment.
This school year has been rough, and we’re actually in the process of getting him evaluated for ADD, we could use the accommodations.  His story is this:
I’m finding out people with ADD are hypersensitive, to everything!  I’ve always said Chase has been gifted with the spirit of discernment. Because Chase, at an earlier age than most kids, has known the majority of adults are a-holes, teachers and family included. And he has been unable to accept the social norm of showing respect to those people regardless. He’s grand with old men, gives them his undivided attention and upon coercion will even use phases like, “Yes, sir.”  But unless you have one toe left on this side of this veil you’re not gonna get that behavior.
So we talk about appropriate social etiquette all the time.  The conversations go like this: “Chase, just because so & so is an idiot doesn’t mean you call them on it. Keep those thoughts in your head!” 
In which he shoots back, “But you say stuff about people all the time!”
Did I mention he is uber aware of hypocrisy, which is why he has issues with most everyone?
I'm then forced to admit, “Yeah! But we talk about them amongst ourselves, not to their face!”
Obviously I'm a failure at parenting by example.

At times he looks so much like his father, and like the Mr., requires a disproportionate amount of my time! But its impossible not to love them they way they need. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mr. Hot Mess Ellis

“Really?” You’ll say. “You’re blogging about you’re husbands body?”
In which I’ll reply, “Yeah! And why wasn’t this my first post?!”
I never understand people who say, looks aren’t EVERYTHING. You’re right, but they sure do help. And sometimes it helps BIG time! I mean there are the non-negotiables, for me it was faith. Obviously it wasn’t education or secure employment, Jared had neither of those at the beginning. It was simply, body & spirit. Those two things looked darn fine (fine in the 90’s connotation for all you people over 30).  I could work with everything else besides we were young and the potential was there.  
Fast forward 15 years and one thing I get told all the time is:
“You have 5 kids?!”
In my head I’m thinking, first; I don’t look THAT young and second; if you saw my husband you’d want nearly ½ a dozen of his babies too.
That said, I have this nasty habit of only journaling when I’m absolutely livid at the man. So much so, that I’m sure our posterity will think their grandfather is a complete tool. It’s at those moments I come to the conclusion that I really just need to get over whatever it is that’s pissing me off because a) he’s stubborn as hell and I can scream till I’m blue in the face and it won’t change a thing and b)  it would be awfully hard to find a muscularly equivalent replacement.
Nothing is hotter than seeing Jared with the kids!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My obsession with art:

I want to backhand all these young new brides, whose husbands are on the cusp on getting their bachelors. They lament at the thought of having to go through graduate school because they just can’t stand being poor students a moment longer. Wah wah wah!  Save those tears for when you’re still poor years after university life!
Well, now that I vomited that bitter pill, lets get to the subject at hand.
My Mister’s an artist.
I’ve only had one person, upon telling them that little fact, have their eyes glaze over at the romantic notion of being married to one of that profession.  I get it, the concept of passion and creativity in such a being. But most people say, “Really?!  Hmm . . .” and I’m sure they’re contemplating the term, “starving artist” and feeling sorry for me!
It’s true, artists are a curios bunch. It takes a certain type of individual to be in such a self-absorbing pursuit. (More on that subject in a future blog)
But Jared’s road to artist status wasn’t clearly paved. You think it would be since being an artist isn’t really a choice, you’re either born with that inkling or you’re not. Most people just forget, let others convince them otherwise, talk themselves out of it or just pursue a more practical path. When Jared remembered his calling it was like doors just opened and his happiness became full. How could I not stand behind him?
Here is a glimpse into that journey:
Ok, so you’ll see from the last post, Jared had me at return address unknown. He could have aspired to be anything and it wouldn’t have mattered.  But I recall in our courtship correspondence, he might have thrown around the title, Dr. Ellis. Unbeknownst to me, Jared hadn’t even graduated high school. He was 1 class short of his diploma. Yes, overachieving me was more than horrified. During our engagement he enrolled in his town’s local adult learning center to finish high school.  I’ve attended all 3 of his graduations as his proud Mrs.
I was pro-active about his education.  What needed to be done? Apply to school? Schedule his classes?  Secure financial aid? Find housing? Done, done and done!  Doctor fast track it is! It turned out to be anything but.
Not once did Jared mention as a child he aspired to be an artist.  No!  We go on this Chiropractic track for 3 years, trying to burn through generals while he struggled to wrap his brain around high school level math- which if he failed to pass prevented him from enrolling in college math and apply to his program. I had already started our family.  I too applied to the local college and decided it wasn't my time. Financing both of us wasn’t the best option then. Jared was starting to enjoying college life a little too much, taking his sweet time, making friends, working out.  I was quickly becoming a resentful mess.
I scheduled Jared to take an art class as an elective since he exhausted the physically fitness ones. No one in the art department could understand why that wasn’t his major. After that semester he switched to studio art. I couldn’t have been more relieved.  It was an answer to my prayers. Finally I didn’t have to tutor him in math anymore!  Then the art degree-fast-track kicked in and the man who struggled with school his whole life found his place.
I can’t separate him from his art, and since I’m yoked to him, it has become who we are.
I can, at times, be even more outwardly passionate about it than him, and when it comes to collecting, lets just say I can become a bit aggressive. Many of our artist friends can attest, art-trade anyone?
Jared receiving his Masters of Fine Art from Brigham Young University May 2007.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How I became the Mrs.

My fifth and youngest child is now in preschool.  I should start a blog. I have more time now, right?
Regardless, I thought it appropriate to start this on my 34th birthday (exhale).  This is a milestone. ½ of my life has been devoted to one thing.  That is, my life as Mrs. Jared Ellis. Which definitively began on my 17th birthday.  Don’t roll your eyes at how ridiculously young that is!  Because with most things I do, I commit and get to work. And having 5 children, one thing I’ve observed is, you can’t judge, some individuals are just born with conviction!  So lets begin the story:
October 4th 1994.  Waiting for me at the end of my day were 3 things, a dozen red roses and two letters.
Roses: Birthday wishes from Jason. Good on paper. My mom liked him a lot and everyone knows nothing comes of the boy your mom would hand pick! He was in our ward and adorably sweet, extremely generous, creative and an all around stellar guy. We had gone on a couple group dates. He was at the time working out of state. He had a personality to make any girl happy.  He was fun and sincere.  But I didn’t feel that connection and I didn’t allow myself to get serious with anyone for the hope of . . .
Letter #1: Karl.  My body still betrays me when I think of Karl, very annoying how it does that after all this time.  But in my defense, those stupid nerve receptors have a long memory and they first made those connections with Karl. So they get all fired up when my thoughts turn to him.  We all have our Karl.  Our relationship was that typical high school love song, where you’re best friends but one is madly in love with the other and you’re not mature enough to just be honest, so nothing happens and there is regret. You go through it in your head for years after thinking things could have been different but come to the same conclusion that things have worked out for the best and that was the plan all along . . . Our story is a novel and I’m trying to stay on the Mrs. JARED ELLIS theme here, lets get back! Karl was in New York, serving a mission. I faithfully wrote him and it felt like his letters were so sparse that it was seriously the highlight of my month. It changed that day.   Karl didn’t remember my birthday it was his standard update.
Letter #2:  Jared knew what he wanted which was so refreshing and I have to give the man credit; he’s a strategist! Lets backtrack: Jared was a missionary who served in our ward for several months. He’ll say we met at a dinner appointment when in actuality I set that up. The first time I laid eyes on Jared was a Sunday morning. He was sitting on the stand at church looking over the congregation. Tall, athletic build-no brainier! He would be perfect for my older sister, Michelle. Michelle was home from college for the summer and had no interest in church. She needed incentive and to me, Jared was it.  I promptly told Michelle about this new elder. Oh it worked, and not only was she at church the next Sunday but she was a regular that summer.  With Michelle’s insistence we had the missionaries over for dinner. After that Jared and his companion were regulars at our house. I was oblivious of Jared’s attraction to me, like I said, strategist! So when Jared was transferred at the end of the summer I knew it wasn’t the last I’d see of him, Michelle got every guy she wanted. But then I turned 17 and opened a colorfully decorated envelope with no return address. Upon discovering whom it was from, I knew instantaneously, the way all truths hit your conscious. Actually, my exact thought was, “Oh no! I’m going to marry Elder Ellis.”  And the rest is history.
He really was a sharp young man. How could I resist?!