Tuesday, June 26, 2012

just write: tears & swim lessons

There was a lot of crying during the first day of swim lessons today. One little boy in the same group as my little girls wailed pretty much the entire lesson. It's to be expected but it still sets everyone else on edge. The parent bleachers are on the other side of the big pool, so I didn't have a great view of my kids. I guess Lily cried too and even Gracie said she cried, although I'm not sure I believe her.

As I sat there, on a Tuesday morning in the hot sun, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. It's a beautiful summer day, and I am with my kids. I just got back from a wedding in Colorado. And instead of having to get back to the grind of work, all I had to do was get back in the swing of things at home. I had just dropped off Miss Rose at Fine Arts Camp at church and said hi to my friend and former co-worker. "My" office sits empty. I am with my kids. 

This summer at home with my girls is one of the most incredible gifts I've received. It's reaffirmed my love for my kids and the true joy of being a mom. Sure I get tired and cranky and crave me time or adult time. But overall, I feel such peace and contentment. The kids are getting along great and behavior problems are minor. 

It would be great if I didn't need to work, if this could be more permanent. But I trust in Psalm 16:6 that "the boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places." I trust in where I am and what's required of me, even if that means working out of the home. My new career will hopefully give me more time at home than I've had before while still paying the bills.

In the meantime, I'm soaking up the sun and soaking up my children.

Monday, June 11, 2012

faith and manna


...Even when there was no reason to hope, he kept on hoping and kept on believing...

Abraham was a man of faith.

I'm trying to become more and more a woman of faith. Some struggle with that first step of faith, although I don't. But journeying in faith is where I am truly tested.  The day after day, moving in the direction where God is leading, trusting for the day. That is hard. I want to plan. I want to know.

I'm embarking upon a new career, but the bottom line is I've quit my job--which was about 50% of our income. And we didn't have any extra. It was a huge step of faith. And it may seem pretty stupid to some. But we knew it was right.

I feel so strongly that this summer with my children is going to be a landmark time. I may not get to be as present with them in their childhood as I will this summer.  Being a stay at home mom is exhausting and demanding in so many ways. But it is so precious. Some women need the outlet of a job and I completely respect and support that. Me, I could probably be home until my children are grown. This summer is a gift that I believe God wanted to give me, to give my children.

There are so many questions though about the future. About finances. About schooling. The journey to being a nurse. This is the hard part. I'm doing everything I can, but it looks like it will be down the wire before everything is known when it comes to my financial aid.

This faith journey. Trusting that when I wake up each morning there will be enough manna for the day.  The decisions we made were long in coming. They didn't come without much prayer and advice. Without confirmation and blessing. We took the step of faith, because we couldn't not.

And now we wait, we trust, we hope, we believe.

We have faith.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

mama makes a menu

We've had a really nice weekend! A few commitments and places to be, but nothing huge and mostly together as a family. It was so weird to not be at church this morning! Instead of waking up to get ready and be at church by 7:30, I woke up and went for my long run. My nephew's 3rd birthday party was this morning, so we weren't able to get to any church service. However I did tune in for a bit, to my friend preaching at church this morning. Yay for live web streaming!

For the past few years, Bean has borne the brunt of dinner preparation. And dinner menus. He got home from work at least 30 min before me, if not more. And whenever I am in the kitchen, the girls are stuck to me like magnets. Not too conducive to preparing a meal. Bean has been fantastic about getting dinner started (especially on my work days).  The grocery store is just 2 short blocks from our house (less than a 5 minute walk) and many days we get needed dinner ingredients the day of.

I have wanted to institute a dinner menu plan for ages. But lacked energy and time and overall motivation. Now that I have more time and energy to devote to family and home for a few months, I'm hoping we can get in the habit and develop a list of dinners to pull from and keep it going even once I'm in school and working again.

I sat down today and brainstormed and came up with a plan.  I'm hoping it works!

Monday: Meatloaf + homemade rolls. I love my mom's meatloaf recipe and the kids will actually eat it. It's not Bean's favorite, but he adds BBQ sauce. I love the ketchup-brown sugar sauce it's topped with. I'll share the recipe later this week.

Tuesday: Pasta + french bread (I will probably eat shrimp or chicken with mine). Always an easy favorite, although I am big on protein at meals and it always bugs me that the kids aren't having protein with this meal.  I'm weird like that.

Wednesday: Homemade pizza pockets (made these before and the kids LOVED them)

Thursday: BBQ Crockpot chicken + cornbread. Planning to go to the beach, so this will be a great headstart on dinner. We usually shred the chicken and Bean puts it on a sandwich. The kids and I often eat it by itself (I'm forever trying to avoid extra cards).  We use Sweet Baby Ray's original sauce. Bean and I prefer more spice, but the kids don't.

Friday:  Nephew's graduation, no dinner at home

Saturday: Tri-tip on the BBQ and grilled asparagus (trying for the first time!)

We serve veggies every night too. The kids prefer raw veggies to cooked ones. Miss Rose loves green bell peppers, the little girls like string beans and they all like carrots and broccoli.

Sunday: Father's Day, Dad's choice!

Dinner menu's are phase one of my plans to overhaul our eating a bit! I also want to get my kids off eating cold cereal every morning and expand to other foods and some homemade items as well.  I want to do some freezer meals also.

I'll keep ya posted! I'd love to hear your favorite family dinners or other ideas for balanced eating.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

these faces

My girlfriend at church captures the best pictures of my kids. It helps that she has a great report with them and so they don't give her funny looks when she puts a camera in their faces. These photos were candids she shot recently at various events.  If I knew how to edit them, they'd probably pop even more. These are raw and beautiful!

I love them so much. I'm so glad God chose me to be their mama.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

about 8 posts crammed into 1

I've just completed my third day as a stay at home mom for the summer, and already I'm trying to figure out how I fit work into my life. The things I've done each day have been "the usual." But each day has felt non-stop and I'm so tired by bedtime.

Being "just a mom" is no joke, I've always known. Balancing work and being a mom is no joke either. We are all full time moms.  Whether you work outside the home or not.

We had a wonderful send-off from my job on Sunday. We were overwhelmed with love and appreciation for the 7.5 years on staff at the church. They gifted our family with a 3-day Park Hopper pass to Disneyland and 1 night in a hotel. The kids were beside themselves with excitement. We all got Mickey Ears with our names on the back.

Because there are two services, we got "re-gifted" in the second service and told the kids to act surprised. Being 3, Lily didn't quite get it and as she ripped into her gift bag a second time she said "another pair!"

In discussing the service, the pastoral staff betted that Bean would put his ears on first, and sure enough he did. Guy loves him some headgear.

It hasn't quite sunk in yet that I'm done working there. I still drove to the area on Monday and Wednesday for the little girls' last days at preschool. And I stopped by Monday to pick up something I forgot and did a quick drive-by today to drop off something off.

The transition was so peaceful and smooth, it doesn't totally feel over.  It's a good thing to leave a job you still love and a staff you miss. As with any job, there are certainly things I won't miss-- but the people (my co-workers and the congregation) were what made the job so rewarding, and I already miss them.

Miss Rose is done with school next Tuesday, so Wednesday will be party day! Or maybe just stay in our jammies all day.

I have a lot of goals for the summer. I want to sit down and write everything out, but I haven't had the chance yet. There are little things around the house I want to finally do and institute chores and deal with behavior issues. It's time to expand the kids pallets and do menu planning and I want to become a better steward of our "household" money--especially since we have to make it stretch to get through the summer without me working.

And of course--have tons of fun with the kids! They are at great ages for the beach and swimming in friends' pools. We have a neighborhood full of kids who love to play and cousins just minutes away. Disneyland will be a blast and we'll see what else the summer holds.

I know it will fly by--and before long I'll be getting ready to start school. I love learning new stuff and even though I know it's going to require a lot of hard work, I'm ready.

I want to take my blog on this summer journey with me. So buckle up and hold on.

Here we go!