Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ugh, Maybe Sex Would Have Been a Better Idea...

Growing up, I was in charge of several chores - dishes, my bathroom, my bedroom, and mowing the yard.  I HATED mowing!  HATED IT!  I hated pushing the mower around my parents' half-acre, so much so that I would go slowly or only mow half the width of the mower... I was hoping if it took me too long, my parents would finish for me out of frustration.  It never worked.  So instead, I would talk to myself about how much I hated mowing and hated my parents.  In fact, I remember once being so angry that I was mowing while my mom and sister were swinging on the front porch reading and watching me mow.  I was muttering about all of this, when my mom shouted out to me, "I can hear everything you are saying, you know!"  Well, that shut me up pretty quickly since what I was saying wasn't very nice at all!

Now that I am a mother, it finally occurs to me that she probably couldn't hear me over the sound of the mower.  She probably just wanted me to think that she could hear me, and it worked.  Smart mom!

Finally, my parents bought a riding mower, and you'd think I would have enjoyed mowing at least a little more.  But really, it was still time spent that I'd rather have spent a million other ways... and the riding mower was more difficult to get around trees on.  I was smacked in the face many times by pine tree branches!

I became even more bitter about mowing when it was my sister's turn to begin mowing, but wouldn't you know that since she takes after the shorter people in the family, her feet couldn't reach the brakes.  For some reason, my dad thought that meant she shouldn't be mowing at all.  Hello!  She could push like I did, or she could push the brake with a really long stick!  So, I was stuck doing it anyway... punished for my height.  The injustice!!!

When I got married, I made sure and waited until I found a man's man... ya know, the kind of guy that likes to hike and hunt and "cook outdoors" (as Mulan says)... that way, I would never have to mow again!  Granted, he is a busy guy, so the mowing doesn't get done every week.  My man works 1 1/2 jobs, and sometimes more!  And really, I couldn't care less how often the yard gets mowed, so he'll never hear from me that he needs to get it done!

But during the week of our 5th wedding anniversary, my husband had been booked every evening after work for almost 2 weeks solid, and his weekends were just as full!  He kept walking by the windows and commenting that he was sorry he hadn't been able to get around to mowing the yard.

We also have neighbors who have pristine yard work, flowerbeds, etc... and I know Kyle feels the pressure to be a good neighbor, so many times he will sacrifice something he wants to do to keep the grass at an acceptable height.

Each time Kyle would say something about not having time to mow, I would think back to a book I read that I HIGHLY SUGGEST for any woman who is married, engaged, dating, or simply thinks that someday they would like to be married.  The book is called Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.  It is such a great, practical book expounding on the ideas found in Titus 2 that the older women in the church should be teaching the younger women.

There is one point in the book where she talks about a pastor several centuries ago realizing in the middle of his studies that he had not paid attention to the timing of the harvest.  He asks his wife to see to it, and she responds that it was done weeks before.

She knew he was busy.  She knew what needed to be done.  She knew her purpose - to be his helper in this life.  That is what being a spouse is all about, right?!

Now, Kyle had no clue that each time he said this (which may have only been once or twice, but I was really stewing over it in my mind many more times than that) that I was having an internal struggle - do I mow (yuck) for him?

I'll share some of my thoughts:

"He really doesn't have time, and I know it would ease his mind if it got done."
"But I really hate mowing.  He'll feel bad if I do it, because he knows I hate it.  I don't want to make him feel bad!"
"Yeah, but in that book that one wife took care of the harvest and never even mentioned it to her husband until he asked her.  She was so loving to do that."
"Yeah, but I bet she hired someone to actually do the harvesting.  I don't really want to hire someone to mow the yard.  That's silly when I am perfectly able."
"But in that book, Carolyn also talks about spending less time in the kitchen and more time in the bedroom... like instead of slaving over a gourmet meal and then being too tired for sex... most men would be thrilled with peanut butter and jelly and more sex... besides, he has no idea that I thought about mowing the yard, so he won't be disappointed if I don't mow!"
"Oh, just mow the stupid yard for your awesome husband!"

So, I set out during nap time that day to mow the yard!  I realized very quickly how much of an incline our yard has to it - a huge one!  It looks cool, but it isn't cool to push a mower up and down it!  So I mowed it sideways, which was wavy and bumpy... who cares what it looks like, right?!

I'll be honest and say that halfway through the backyard, I was thinking that I should have listened to myself about the "sex is enough" thing.  I'll also admit that I am so out of shape that I couldn't finish the whole yard!

But the look on his face when he realized what I had done for him was priceless.  Yes, he felt guilty, but very grateful.  But mostly, I know he was relieved to get that time back he would have had to spend out there cutting stupid grass so that he could do something more meaningful, ya know like spend time with me!

I'm glad I mowed the yard - for him.  But I'm also glad I hadn't mowed in the past 5 years!!!

Here's to another 5!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Hypocrite and A Mother of 2 Cuties...

I am going to be really honest and say that I am a hypocrite... I admit it!  I find it so annoying when a blogger starts a blog post with "I haven't written in a long time."  I find myself judging these people each time a post is started in this or any similar fashion, but I have now joined their rank... yep, I haven't published a blog post in over 2 months!  2 months!  I was blogging on average about once a week for at least half of a year... and then my motivation just tanked!

Believe me, I still keep a running list of topics.  But the list is now so long, it is depressing and overwhelming to try to get started on checking them off the list (by actually writing about them, not just deleting them).  And I have started probably 5 posts here and there over the past few months that I never finished.  Most of the time it was because I was interrupted during the initial attempt to write, and then life gets in the way.

I am just glad that this blog doesn't feed or clothe me or my family in any way, because we would be cold and starving!!!

I received a very exciting package in my DropBox today, though, (which I didn't even know was a thing until yesterday), from our family photographer... that's right!  My son, Keegan Russell, turned 6 months old on October 29th, and my dear friend and wonderful photographer, Cassy Pack, captured his cuteness on some hiking trails near Tulsa.  It was a little chilly that late afternoon, and I was stressed about matching colors and making sure my belt and Emersyn's skirt issues were resolved... such silly things to jeopardize the peace and tranquility of my family over, but I am a sinful human after all... I am grateful to the Lord who convicts and forgives and restores hearts and families after a photo shoot!  I am also thankful to have a great photographer who eases the stress and makes it look like we were the happiest people on earth that day!

Yes, this is sort of a cheater-post, because basically I am just going to unashamedly post a bunch of pictures of my cuties (and my hot hubby) and let you ooh and aww over them.

And then I promise to either start a new topic VERY soon or to at least finish one of these I have started...

Until then, ENJOY and go like's Facebook page and check our her site!

I love how much they love each other! 


This happy boy brings such joy to our hearts and makes our home more complete!
I don't deserve any of my 3 blessings!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parting is Such, Sweet Sorrow - Lizzy and Jane Say Goodbye

A person's 20s can be so incredibly confusing.  Everyone is trying to "find themselves", and sometimes people look in many, random places in a desperate search... is this me?  Or this?  Maybe this over here?  Perhaps that over there?

The funny thing is most don't know the moment they found themselves, became their true selves, until it is already accomplished.  Like how Mr. Darcy says, "I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."  And usually by their 30s, a person is able to look back on what made them who they are - the places, the events, the people.

Of course, parents have a huge impact on who we become because they are our starting point, and where you start can have a huge impact on where you end up.

I, personally, had a great childhood - simple, fun, loving, safe, "normal" time growing up.  I had good friends, a good hometown, a good school, and good opportunities.

But when I went off to college, I realized that being in the same place with the same people for 18 years had done me a disservice in making friends.  I didn't know how to create a friendship out of thin air.  I met people, and we had fun.  And a few people I would say became my friends, but I soon found out how lonely adulthood can be - especially for a single Christian girl from a small town.  I didn't want a typical "finding yourself" journey that is so often pictured of college students in movies.  It probably wasn't because I was so holy; I was probably more scared.

I moved out on my own for a year, moved back in with my parents for a while, commuted for a while... and in the fall of 2003, I found myself living in the girls' staff house for a campus ministry.  When I met the young lady who would become the best friend I had ever had, she was serving as the worship leader of the same campus ministry.  And we instantly connected.  It was truly like when little girls become best friends on the playground in first grade - except we were 20 and 21-years-old.

Her name was Jessica, and the first thing I noticed about her was how much scripture she knew, and how much of it was in her everyday language.  I had never read the book of Hosea when we met, and after she described the story line and the parallels in it of Christ and sinners (myself included)... I had to read it right away!  I was blown away by God's love for broken people, like me, and all of that came from a conversation about "Moulon Rouge", the film!  It seemed Jessica had a Biblical word of encouragement, warning, comfort, and peace for any and every situation... but it wasn't annoying or "goody-goody".

That , plus the fact that she loved music, ketchup on macaroni and cheese (and green beans too), was a great listener (I always have a lot to say), but also had such interesting input, was a lot of fun, and was so generous with her time... why wouldn't I want to be friends with this person?!

And even better, she thought I was someone she wanted to be friends with too!

We became inseparable!  We learned so much from each other!  It seemed like we became friends very late in life and were making up for lost time!  I had never heard of foreign missions the way she spoke about it.  She knew all of this music that I had never heard of in church or on the radio, AND she could play guitar.  She was artistic.  She could get ANYONE to open up and tell her their life-story in a 5-minute conversation.  She could also small talk on any topic.  She was sensitive and a pushover, but she was brave and adventurous.

I found myself asking "What would Jessica do?" when I met a new person.  Since strangers scare me to death, and I have always dreaded going somewhere that I would have to meet new people, watching and listening to Jessica ask intentional questions to truly get to know people helped me be more brave in these situations.

She spent most of her time at my house, and I went home with her to visit her family a lot.  She spent some holidays with my family, and my mom started buying her a Christmas gift each year.  In fact, if I went to a family get-together without her, people would ask me where she was and why she hadn't come with me!  It was like my family had adopted another daughter, even though she had a wonderful family already of her own!

She taught me how to be more kind.  I taught her how to do her hair and makeup.  She showed me how to be a hostess, opening my home and feeling comfortable about it to anyone, even people I didn't know very well.  I taught her how to be more assertive.

She tried teaching me how to play guitar.  I tried teaching her math.

We helped each other through hard times - losing grandparents, friends, and decisions of what to do with our careers/lives.  I remember sitting outside of the education building on NSU's campus with her while she cried when she found out that her grandma had passed away.  I remember her being at my house to congratulate me when I had been hired on the spot at my first interview for a teaching job.

She was my roommate for 5 years after college.  We had jam sessions (I played the djembe she bought me), slumber parties with other single gals from church, breakfast-for-dinners for international students, surprise birthday parties, movie nights (even one on our roof and another on our lawn), cook outs, camp outs in our front yard.  We did dishes in our front yard once on a pretty day.  We were one of the few houses that had electricity during a bad ice storm, and we had a blast playing hostesses to all the friends that camped in our living room.  Lots of deep talks.  Major fights over boys.  More laughter than could be measured.

And I am convinced that I am a better wife today to my husband because I first lived with my best friend.  A wise woman once told us that living with a girl was much more difficult than living with a man.  We didn't believe her at the time, but now we know this is true.  Men compartmentalize everything and are able to easily separate one incident from another... not girls.  We remember everything, and feel so much about it all, and it is all connected!  Ya know, the whole "boys are waffles, and girls are spaghetti" thing.  When spaghetti has a fight with other spaghetti... it can be pretty bad.  Not that spaghetti fighting with a waffle is a breeze, but you get what I'm trying to say... maybe?  I learned how much my laziness, tone, and blunt words can hurt someone.  I saw what my flaws could do to another person on a daily basis.  And many of those lessons of having to ask for or give forgiveness from back then have helped me in my marriage.

And speaking of marriage - my best friend and I fell in love with best friends.  Our husbands went to high school together, and grew up spiritually in the same church with the same mentor.  When we were falling in love with these 2 guys, we were each other's confidante and adviser.  In fact, we have joked many times that we very much have lived the story of Lizzy and Jane in Pride and Prejudice.  And very much like Darcy with Elizabeth and Bingley with Jane, our friendship has changed a lot since we are now best friends with our husbands first.  Our friendship isn't less deep or less meaningful, just more background in the landscape of our lives.  There was a time when I didn't know if anyone, that wasn't my parent, could love me as much or know me as well as Jessica does, but Kyle does so much so that it quite amazes me.  And I know that Jessica and her husband, Mike, are just as close.

And then we both had a daughter.  My Emersyn came first, and it was so fun to see Mike and Jessica play with her.  Then came Jessica's sweet Evelyn.  We have taught our kids to call the other couple "Aunt" and "Uncle".  In fact, now that we are both mothers, our husbands - Uncle Mike and Uncle Kyle - go out for guys' night to see movies we'd prefer not to see or help each other with house projects... or help each other move.

Which is what caused me to get out of bed at 11:30 at night to type this blog post about my dear friend, Jessica... she is moving.  For 11 years, she and I have lived in the same town, attended the same ministry/church, and enjoyed the same circle of friends.  We were even neighbors when we were both newlyweds.  And for a few months while I have been staying at home with my kids, I have been babysitting her daughter 3 days a week.

But no more.

The Lord has been so good to make us both wives of ministers now, and we very much love our husbands, the church, and being in ministry... but it is the same sweet sorrow I feel now that I felt when she moved out of my house 5 years ago so that Kyle could move in on the day of our wedding.  It is so strange to be so happy for what God is doing in someone's life, which also impacts your own, but to also grieve the end of an era.  A time that was full of so many wonderful memories that it seems heartbreaking to move on.



We weren't born sisters, but we are sisters now.  We are very different, but we have made each other better.  And it is overwhelming to think of how blessed we have both been our whole lives.  We were both raised by loving families.  We have been forgiven and adopted by the Creator of the universe into His kingdom - this family of believers.  We are both married to such valiant husbands who love us immensely.  Why was God so gracious to also have given us such a close friendship to lean on during these pivotal years of "20-hood" to help us find out who we are?!

I know I didn't deserve any of your friendship, dear Jessica.  Thank you for 11 years of friendship that saw me through some of the most important moments of my life, thus far.  Thank you for letting me borrow your clothes, your car (and forgiving me when I dented it), for giving me presents (even though I wrapped half of them), for believing in me, for letting me sing as loud as I want in the car, for telling me about the 10/40 Window, for listening to me talk about Kyle non-stop during the "falling in love" stage, for all the times you wrote scripture down and left it for me to find during hard times, for all my birthday parties, for being my bridesmaid, for letting me be your bridesmaid, for forgiving me when I was cruel, for making me pass out bottles of bubbles to strangers in the park, for introducing me to music that opened my mind to accepting music that wasn't mainstream and eventually led me to hate overproduced music, for never judging me, for always being here for me, and for just being you.

May the Lord bless you and your family in this new town, new house, new ministry... and new phase in life.  I promise to fight off all jealousy when I see you post pictures of all your new friends that you will make, and I promise to come visit and not just keep in touch via the web.  I promise to think of you and smile, to pray for you when I think of you, and to think of you as often as my scatter-brained-mommy-thoughts are able.

Lots of love,

Friday, September 5, 2014

All I Hath Needed, Thy Hand Hath Provided - God's Faithfulness Even in My Child's Social Life

I was sitting at the splash pad in a nearby town, watching my daughter play in the water all by herself.  I was sitting under one of the park's pavilions, nursing my infant son.  I was thinking about how Kyle and I had kids kind of late in life, compared to our current circle of friends (well, and even my high school friends mostly all had kids way before I did).  We actually have many close friends who had kids when we did, but they all moved at least over an hour away.  So usually when we hang out with people, they either don't have kids (we spend a lot of time with college students with ministry) or their kids are at least twice my daughter's age.  And I always feel bad for my little girl, because she loves to go out to places like the park, splash pad, etc... but when we get to said place, she is lonely and bored. If there is ever another kid, Emersyn practically stalks them, trying to make a friend.  Usually little girls snub her, and little boys play around her but not really with her.

So I was sitting and thinking about how much fun it will be when my son is old enough to be her playmate. They may fight, but at least neither of them will be lonely...

And that is when another mom with 3 kids randomly walked over to my table/pavilion.  She said, "Hi", put her stuff down pretty close to mine, and started putting sunscreen on herself and kiddos.  I inwardly laughed, because there were other tables in the park just as close to the splash pad as mine was, but she put her stuff down next to me anyway. Usually at any park, just like anywhere crowds gather, each person takes a table on their own.  So if there are only 3 tables/benches, and you are the 4th mom to show up - you now have to either share (oh, no!) or carry your stuff and walk around the whole time.

The sad thing is that most people in that situation will carry their stuff, feel awkward and burdened, but still terrified to share a bench or table with someone else they do not know... Are we afraid of all human interaction?!?!  Yes, I think this is ridiculous, but that is a whole other post topic...

Anyway, usually when I am nursing Keegan, I always feel like I have the plague.  I ALWAYS cover up, but I might as well wear a neon sign that says "I am doing something really awkward that will make you feel like a creep if you sit next to me or talk to me or make eye contact with me."  I mean, I don't think it is awkward, but it is amazing how fast I can clear a room at a family get-together feeding my son under a cover!  So that is why I was shocked that this woman acted completely normal about talking to me and putting her belongings next to mine, even though I was nursing.

I told myself, maybe she is like me and doesn't believe in NEVER TALKING TO STRANGERS like we are 2-year-olds.  Maybe she didn't realize I was nursing, and now it would be even more awkward to leave the table with her stuff now that she sees my cover and hears my son's nursing noises.

As I am thinking all of this to myself while also chit-chatting with this stranger-woman, 2 more women with kids walk up and put their things down on the table.  They greet us and start talking about how long it took to get there and how crazy the kids are this morning and that they left their sunscreen at home on accident and one offers some to the other...

And I am looking around thinking 'there are other tables, this is so weird but awesome'. And the women just kept coming... and they all put their stuff down at this table I was sitting at, and they were all talking to me like they knew me!

By the time I was done nursing Keegan, there were at least 10 moms, and there were toddlers EVERYWHERE!  Emersyn was having a blast spraying and stomping around with these strangers' kids.  And I was happily engaged in conversation!

All of a sudden, one of the women turns to face the group of ladies and starts to speak as if we are in a meeting.  I realize right away that I am sitting in a meeting that I was not invited to, although not one person is acting as if I shouldn't be there.

I was thankful to look at my phone and see that it was time for us to leave anyway in order to meet my parents on time for lunch.  So I start to pack up quietly.  The women were going around the circle and saying their names and where they were from... when everyone had finished, EVERYONE looked at me expectantly.

I said, "Um, my name is Keisha, and I am from Tahlequah.  And I am not part of your group, I was just sitting here to nurse my son while my daughter was playing."

And everyone starts laughing and talking about how they had no idea!  They thought I was there for "moms' group".  What?!  I was instantly excited inside, because I had wanted to be in one, I just didn't know how to get started or where to look for one in my area...

So the woman that was "leading the meeting", that I now know as Misty, wrote down all her personal information along with the group's Facebook page and other information.  Everyone was saying, "Yeah, go join the group!  It is a lot of fun!"

And that is how I got involved in a local moms' group. Since then we have been to the splash pad, fire station, and petting zoo!  My daughter has had a ton of kids to play with, and I have been having a great time getting to know these moms!

Do you want to know what is even more amazing?!  It is a Christian moms' group.  Not that I wouldn't have joined even if it wasn't.  I don't believe in living in a Christian bubble where you are never around the rest of the world, because even the Bible speaks about being in the world and knowing what struggles are going on around you.  But since joining this group, since we are like-minded in many things, we have been able to share in prayer and encouragement with each other!

We also have "moms only" evenings every once in a while, and the women I have met are fantastic people!

Do you know what the funniest part is? There are 3 ladies in the group that I was good friends with in college!

"Great is Thy faithfulness,
Oh, God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou has been, Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I hath needed, Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy thankfulness, Lord unto me."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Every Day is the Weekend: Why staying home with my kids is the easiest job I have ever had!

According to the title of this post, I'm sure I have already upset quite a few people... by reading it, working moms now feel justified in what they suspected all along: that we SAHMs (Stay-at-home-moms) don't work very hard, but complain a lot.  And I'm sure by reading this title, all my SAHM friends are tempted to feel hurt, or they feel like they work harder than I do at this staying-home job (and to be honest, you probably do).  Neither is my intention, I promise!

First, let me clarify - I am not talking about you.  I am talking about me. My experience.

And my experience is that what I do now for work is the easiest work I have ever done.

I was talking about this with a former SAHM the other day.  She was telling me that her full-time job is a lot less "work" than when she stayed home.  She says she sits, deals with customers, deals with money.  But the pressure to be perfect and achieve is great, from authority and coworkers.  And I could totally relate to this when I taught in a public school.  There was so much pressure to perform, sometimes in many ways that I felt was impossible.  The expectations are so great and allowance for error so little.  That is stressful!  And to me, stress is harder to take than actual, physical work.

I explained to her that I feel so relieved, many times by the work I do now... even though I am afraid of several things like making ends meet and still having a social life.  So when I say that staying home is the "easiest" job I have ever had, I mean that as I am just as busy as ever, the stress is GONE!  This isn't because I am so great.  In fact, it does not have a whole lot to do with me at all!  I don't have a boss.  I am not an employee.  I am a partner.  I don't have deadlines. I won't be written up for not following procedure.  There are no formal evaluations.  People aren't calling me to complain about what I have or haven't done.  When I worked at school, I was never 100% present where ever I was.  If I was at work, I was thinking about my kids and home.  When I was at home, I was either thinking about school or literally still working - grading or planning.  Now my work and home are in the same place, so I am too!  This is a great job to have - even with the $0 paycheck!

While I was still pregnant with Keegan, I had several fears of why I would not enjoy staying home with my kids:
-Would I be able to take care of 2 kids who cry, whine, and many times need things they cannot verbalize or understand how to wait patiently?
-Would I be miserable since I hate housework?
-Would I feel worthless since I wouldn't really contribute to our finances?
-Would I feel exhausted because there is never a break from your kids in this kind of work?
-Would I feel lonely, since I am so extroverted and social, spending all my time with kids 2 years and under?  Would I have time to get out and meet people or go places?
-Would we be able to pay our bills?

So far most of my fears were unfounded.  I am finding that taking care of a couple of little kids is about the equivalent of taking care of 20+ 10-year-olds.  Sure, my kids have less logic and independence, but I find that I am equally challenged staying home as I was when I taught 5th grade.  I also find that I don't mind housework if I do it throughout the day as I go, instead of HAVING to do it when I am already exhausted at the end of the day!  Laundry is so much worse when all you want to do is collapse on the couch!

 The money issues were, and still are, probably my biggest fear about this entire life-change.  I have always been the kind of person that breaks out in a sweat - and probably tears - when I have less than $100 in the bank.  Sadly, I think I trust God for so many things - even terrible, big things - but when it comes to money, I freak out!  And when Kyle and I were first married, I was the breadwinner while he went to school and worked part-time.  He even kept Emersyn one day a week at home.  So, we have basically done a complete flip in our financial roles in our family over the past 4 1/2 years.  I thought perhaps that I would resent Kyle or feel guilty around Kyle for spending money I didn't earn.  This is where that "what's yours is mine" thing about marriage is so important!

I am thankful to have a husband that lets me contribute in other ways since I do not "make money" anymore.  He makes the money, and I take care of our budget/shopping/planning.  And I enjoy it!  Each month, I make our budget (after discussing with Kyle, of course, what we need to accomplish that month), menu, grocery/household items list, and calendar events.  I organize it all together and try to make it as efficient and cost-effective as possible.  So I may not be "making money", but I'm trying to make our money last as long as possible each month and throughout the year.  And even if I didn't watch a 3rd child for a little extra money, our budget would still work.  We try to use cash only.  We also have paid off most of our debt, so we have little bills for things we aren't currently using.  We have emergency savings.  We also put money back each month for annual costs.  Months that I don't watch someone's kid(s) or clean houses, or whatever side gigs I have been doing every once in a while, will be a little tight, but thankfully God has provided for us not only in money, but also in wise counsel on how to manage the money He has given us!

I once heard a sermon series on family that spoke about the man being the coach while the wife is the quarterback.  I am finding that to be more and more true with staying home.  Kyle and I are equally important in making this home run, but our roles in how we run it are very different.  And perhaps it is "traditional" and "old-fashioned", but as I look at our culture - the busyness, the stress, the dysfunction, the anger, the hurt, the fear, the judgment, the jealousy, the competition, the "making appearances" - I think that for us, going back to basics, simplicity, and clear definitions is a great place for us to rest!

And I feel rested, truly.

First, let me give you my daily schedule, just so you can know what I am doing and talking about:

On T/W/Th, I watch another child besides my own kids, so I make sure that I wake up at 6:30 to get ready for the day.  I also try to start a load of laundry.

At 7am, I nurse Keegan - this is about a 30 minute time each feeding.  While I nurse him, I also read Facebook, blog, read some spiritual and money-saving blogs, catch up on emails, and look online for shopping deals for gifts/events.

At 730, I get Emersyn dressed, make sure she has had breakfast (Kyle helps with her breakfast a lot), we brush our teeth, and then I clean the living room floor and rug.  If I didn't get a chance to start laundry before, I start it now.  If I did start a load, then I move that load to the dryer and start a second one.

Around 8, the other child I watch arrives, I rock Keegan to sleep, lay him in his crib upstairs, and play with the 2 girls downstairs.  I also try to get any previously done laundry folded.

At 9, I read to the girls and put the younger one down for nap.  Then Emersyn and I work on cutting with scissors, writing letters, or read more books.  Again, I take the clean laundry out to fold and move the second load to the dryer.

Around 10, everyone is awake again.  I change diapers.  I make Emersyn a snack. We play.

At 1030, I nurse Keegan.

At 11, the other little girl gets a bottle.  I do the dishes.  Emersyn gets to watch a movie.  After I finish the dishes, I start making lunch.  I progress the laundry process.

At noon, I get Emersyn started on lunch.  I rock Keegan to sleep and lay him down upstairs.  Then I eat while also feeding the other little girl.  Most of the time Kyle comes home for lunch too.

A little before 1, I read to the two girls and put them both down for nap.  I finish any laundry I started.  I clean other areas of the house.

The little girl and Keegan wake up around 2.  I change diapers and play with them.

At 230, I nurse Keegan.

At 3, the little girl gets a bottle.  Emersyn usually wakes up sometime around now.

Then I prep for supper.  The little girl leaves around 4.  I clean up a little and make supper.

Kyle comes home a little after 5, and we eat dinner.

Now, before when I worked at school, after dinner would be the time that Kyle and I would tag team playing with Emersyn while also cleaning dishes, doing laundry, packing lunches for the next day, and cleaning the house.  We also are very busy people involved in church and community groups where we are away from the house several nights a week, so either our house or these groups were neglected.  There was no way to do it all.

Now we can!  Usually after dinner now, we either go somewhere or we all do some activity until it is bedtime.  Then, if we are home, Kyle and I get about an hour or so kid-free each night to talk and watch our current TV/movie series.

I'm not saying I don't work very hard anymore.  Because I do!  I am constantly moving!  I am either playing in the floor, bending to empty the dryer, rocking a baby, climbing the stairs back and forth to put kids down for sleep or to change diapers or to take laundry to put it away.  I am trying to keep the toddler busy with activities so she won't beg me to watch TV all day, while also making sure I give the baby attention and cuddles.  And 3 days a week, I also try to give the 3rd child attention.  And since she crawls and toddles, I try to keep her from going upstairs or downstairs while I tend to 2 other kids at the same time.

And since I know I am working hard, I will not be ashamed of swimming, playing at the park, or watching a movie in the middle of the day!  I have nothing to prove or hide from the rest of the world.

I feel like teaching prepared me for staying home in many ways!  I know how to keep multiple kids at different levels busy and safe without much thought or stress, but maybe only because I had a decade of practice with 20+ kids who all read and wrote at different ability levels.

I have heard many SAHMs complain about never getting a weekend off, because our jobs are 24/7.  And when I worked at school, I will be honest and say that I thought these women sounded so bitter, negative, and whiny.  I worried I would become the same way because I would feel overworked and under-appreciated... perhaps teaching prepared me for this as well!  Teaching is a thankless job, and I didn't do it for the thanks in the first place.  So, thankfully I was prepared for the worst in staying home.  But again, my husband thanks me often.  And if I loved my students without thanks, believe me, I love my own kids so much more!!!

When I worked at school, the weekend wasn't a vacation like many SAHMs imply.  It was the time I caught up on housework and spent time with my kids.  Weekends were very busy and full.  I say "were" because now I feel like I can get a lot of that stuff done during the weekdays so that when my husband is home on the weekends, we actually get weekends!  For example, last weekend we had friends over Friday night, went swimming at the river Saturday morning, watched TV during the kids' naptime, went to a birthday party and hung out with old friends Saturday night, church Sunday morning, lunch and naps Sunday afternoon, and went out the river with the college students Sunday evening!  I did one load of laundry and swept floors once the whole weekend!  This weekend, Kyle was able to help a friend lay some flooring most of the day Saturday, family came to visit on Sunday, and we spent Labor Day at my grandma's house... and when we came home last night, I wasn't dreading the next morning.  And I didn't stay up late having to catch up on laundry before the work week!  In fact, Kyle and I stayed up late watching "Hook" after we put the kids to bed!

So, in my experience, every day staying home with my kids is like what a weekend day was like when I worked at school - actually, even better because I didn't have papers to grade in the car or lesson plans to type in before I went to bed!  Every day is a weekend, a weekend on a tight budget, but a weekend nonetheless!

I loved teaching, and I love staying home.  Each job was perfect for the season of life we were in at the time, and I am thankful for God's timing and provision in all things, phases, and types of work.

Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me - Getting Older and Wiser Makes Me Young and Grateful

Today I turn 31 years old. In many ways I am the same as I was when I was 12. I am a deep thinker, love to laugh, a bit dramatic, love movies, love hanging out with friends, love to eat, hate the words "squat" "beef" and "moist", love my family, love school, love to coordinate colors, love going to church, and could eat pasta, French fries, and ice cream at every meal without tiring of it!

But I am thankful several things have changed since even just turning 25.

When I turned 25, I had a nervous breakdown. I was 1/4 dead ,on the upside, and I hadn't achieved anything I really wanted to. I thought I was old and had nothing to show for it!

At 31, I realize I am still quite young, and that the things I wanted to achieve are unachievable... Because they are things that can only be given by God! And I am thankful He has blessed me in spite of how little I deserve any of it!

Today I am a wife to a good man - my best friend, a mother of 2 adorable kids, and a person accepting of myself enough to post a selfie without any makeup on! Not long ago I would have died if someone had even just owned a picture of me without my "face" on, let alone show the world!

And I get another day to celebrate in traditional family style - breakfast chocolate cake, warm out of the oven with butter :) We have now added tea to our tradition now, and yes even the traditional "clink".

Here's to hopefully many more years of caring more about what God has given me than what I can earn or buy, and caring more about who I am inside and how that affects the world around me more than what I look like on the outside! Here's to years full of days, good and bad, that add up to making a full life!

My cup runneth over!