Category Archives: life

On being gone, being back, and hating homework.

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I just wrote my first blog post in over 3 months. It wasn’t that great, most likely, but it was done and I hit publish and I was happy. And it was time to eat a handful of dark chocolate m&ms and go to sleep, which is a very wonderful time of my day. I love bedtime. Then, I noticed that there was no text in my blog. Now, I know I’m not the best blogger in the world (I already mentioned my 3 month absence, right?) but I do know that text is good. And there was much angst when I realized it disappeared, but I have now devoured my chocolate and am fully prepared to recreate the messy thoughts I created mere minutes ago.

So, here’s the thing. I hate homework. Hate it. It was the bane of my existence as early as middle school, and I carried the torch with me through college. I actually ended up taking tons of extra classes in college and graduating an entire year early, because I simply couldn’t handle another year of homework. It’s honestly a miracle I survived that long, and I already dread the day my kids come home with homework of their own. It’s probably some sort of character flaw like laziness or lack of respect for authority, but therapy to overcome these issues would probably be way too expensive. So in the meantime, things that I really shouldn’t do are giving myself tasks that feel like homework. Things like forcing myself to blog 3 times a week. Because to me, that isn’t fun. It isn’t enjoyable, and it makes me dislike my blog.

Apparently in my absence, my blog still got viewed, usually by exactly 2 people per day. (Hi, mom!) So to those people: I admire your hope in me. It’s cute that you kept checking, even though I kept not delivering. I’d like to promise I’ll start posting more, but I think we can all agree that me making promises like that just doesn’t work.

I think the bottom line is that I don’t quite have my identity as a blogger yet. Without knowing that, it’s hard to think of what to write about. Am I trying to send a message? Am I trying to document my family in a day-to-day way? Do I want to capture the good moments without focusing on the bad? Do I want to include the bad, because there are certainly less than lovely moments in our family? And what about privacy issues–how much is too much? How can I be authentic without sharing too much? How can I encourage without being preachy? How can I be honest without being whiny? Do I need to be craftier if people read my blog? Funnier? Cleaner? More organzied? More spiritual? A better cook? Do I even WANT people outside of my family to read this blog? Do I want the responsibility of weighing my words carefully, of making sure I am being a light?

And what I have come to is this: social media is dangerous. I am sometimes nervous about the world my kids are growing up in, and what growing up in a social media obsessed world is going to be like. I think that there is a constant struggle to be present in the moment with my kids, to put away the phone and the tweets and the status updates, and I don’t want blogging to weigh me down and pull me further away from my life with them. However. I also think that as Christians we have a huge responsibility to be a force within social media–to understand it, to be part of it, and to help guide the direction it takes. I want to be part of that. I am happy to be part of it in a very small way, but I want my blog to be a light. I want to be honest enough that people can relate to it, and be positive enough that people are encouraged by it. But mostly, in my family, I want Jesus to be seen. And that brings me back to the same place I come every single time I think about this blog: I want to find the beauty. I want to live this one life that I have, and I want to find the beauty in the long, hard days and in the fun easy days and in the pain and joy that is life. I also love the community that is blogging, and I want to be a part of it.

I don’t really know what that looks like–maybe I won’t be back for another 3 months. But I’m hoping that I can find a way to share my life, and my life with my family, in a way that constantly points people up.

If I don’t succeed, the good news is my kiddos are super cute and sweet and these pictures of them should make up for all my blogging transgressions.

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This is what dreams are made of…

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First off, did anyone else go through a Hilary Duff phase? I’m going to guess no, since I was way too old to actually be a fan of hers. But man, in high school (and in college. shhhh) it was the best.thing.ever. to pop in my CD, roll down my windows on a warm day and BLAST “This is What Dreams Are Made Of.” In case you weren’t aware, that song is from the Lizzie McGuire movie, which I saw in theaters. On opening day. My senior year of high school. Coolest girl you know? That’s right. I am.

Anyways, the reason this song comes to mind is that today was IT. Today was the day that was the culmination of all the things I dreamed of doing when I was a part-time working mama. Today, we had friends over and made pretty Valentine’s out of glitter and fingerpaint. We played with toys and ate too many cookies. We went to the park and we had an adorable photo shoot with friends. We went to Chick-Fil-A and Daddy got off in time to do the chicken dance with us and we all got free dinner. The kiddos went to bed without a peep, and we had a whole day with almost no whining, no meltdowns, and tons of happiness.

And I could write a whole blog post about it. I could tell you all the hilarious things that Sam said, or I could post all the pictures I took (except as you can see, there was a giant smudge on my lens, so of course I don’t have hardly any good pictures.) But mostly today I found myself thinking a lot–I was thinking of how insanely grateful I am for days like this, and how disappointed I am in myself that these days don’t happen more often. But I think that maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself.

I have found in the past few years that moms are mean. Moms are hard on each other, and too opinionated, and give too much unsolicited advice. It actually starts before the kids are even born–we fight about epidurals and we fight about cosleeping and we fight about formula and breastfeeding and we fight about scheduling and on demand feeding and we fight about cry-it-out and we fight about discipline and we fight about where our kids should go to school. The toughest of all the fights for me though, have been that of the battle between working mom versus stay-at-home mom. I feel like as a part time working mom, I sort of exist in both worlds now, which is hard in its own way. I don’t work enough to really be part of the working mom club–but I work too much to actually be part of the stay at home club. I had these ideas in my brain of what life would be like when I stayed home more. I’d be less tired, and less grumpy. I’d have more clean laundry, and a more organized house. I’d spend less time on my phone playing and have more energy to be on the floor with my kids. We’d do more crafts and watch less tv.

And in many ways, this is completely true. I am less tired. I’m WAY less grumpy. I still don’t like laundry, and I’m still not that organized. I still play WordsWithFriends a lot, today is one of the first days we’ve done crafts, and Elmo’s World still makes a regular appearance here. And in some ways, that disappoints me. I had so many pictures in my mind of all the things I could do when I worked less, and even though many of them are happening, many still aren’t. But I think what I’m learning is that who I am as a mom isn’t decided by the number of hours that I work. Who I am as a mom is decided by who I actually am, and who I am putting effort into becoming. And some things just don’t come easy for me. I could quit my job tomorrow, and my house still won’t be as beautiful as one of my dear friends who works 40+ hours per week. I could never go in for another day and we still might have hot dogs and macaroni and cheese from a box. Homemaking is work for me–some parts that I enjoy, but many that I don’t. And I think it will always be a struggle for me to maintain my home and my family.

One thing though, that I will say, is that the days I am home are still easier than the days I work. I am still thankful for each day that I am with my kids, and each moment that I am able to put into the work of caring for my home and family. I love this life that we’re living, and I wouldn’t trade the time I have at home with them for anything–I wouldn’t even trade them to have my house back.

So maybe my pictures are going to be blurry. And maybe there will be dust bunnies under my couch. And maybe when you come to visit me, I’ll have to close my eyes while you pee because there still isn’t a door on my bathroom, even though I’ve lived here for a month. But ya know what? I love my kids. We have fun. We giggle, and they think I’m pretty and funny and they like that I give them fruit snacks. And maybe that matters more than everything else.

Today was the day that I dreamed about. But so are all the other ones. Finding the beauty–even in the blurriness.

 

Living a {different} dream…

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Soooo, anyone who knows me knows that I have seriously, seriously struggled with working full time and having small children. This has been especially true since Piper has been born and I’ve attempted to juggle wife-dom, motherhood, friendships, faith, and a super stressful management position. I spent many a night crying, whining, complaining, and being generally ungracious to people around me, but in the final months of my management career had really made an effort to behave more graciously. I was thankful to have a job, thankful to have FREE childcare from my mom (who better to take care of your children than someone who loves them as much as you do?!) But still, the ache in my heart was there; the longing to be a better mom to my kids, to not miss out on these precious moments I have with them while they are still so little.

So we began to really pursue this dream of mine. I make the majority of the money in our house, so me stepping back from work is a HUGE deal. We rented out 2 rooms in our house to help cover the mortgage, and began diligently saving so that we’d have a backup in case anything went wrong. Once our savings was at a comfortable level, we really got serious. I spoke to many people throughout this journey who said things like, “God will bless you for wanting to stay home, and he’ll provide” or, “Every month we think we won’t have enough money, and then He makes a way!” and, “Sometimes you just have to take a leap!” So, after one particularly horrible day at work which left me in tears, we lept. And we lept big–I told my boss I was going to step down from management and take a part time position–giving up my generous salary to work an hourly rate that is MUCH less. But we would be ok.

That same day, we began to pursue a job for my husband that looked VERY promising–and, da-da-da, made *exactly* the same amount of money we’d just given up. I was giddy, and began mentally writing the awesome blog post of how good God was to provide like this for our family. I mean, I gave up a salary and trusted his provision, and then he gave us back the exact.same.amount. The inspirational story practically writes itself. Awesome.

I had put in a month’s notice to my boss so she’d have time to figure out my replacement, etc. Over that month I grew more and more excited, and Geoff went on several interviews that went really well. All the pieces of our plan just fell into place perfectly. The Sunday night before my very last week of management, we were sitting downstairs watching TV, and one of our tenants came down. She told us she had found a new place to live, and would be moving out–ON FRIDAY. Yes, that was 5 days away. My heart sank, as I knew we needed this money to make ends meet. I wasn’t too terribly upset though, because Monday was the day we were getting the final answer about Geoff’s job interview. Feeling pretty confident he would get it, I tried to relax and not freak out.

Then Monday came. Waited, waited, waited for the call. It didn’t come. All day long I stressed and then finally, my phone rang and I saw Geoff’s number. I knew this was IT. I asnwered, and heard, “Well. It’s a no.” And that was that. It was a no. It was a “now you don’t have enough money to pay your mortgage and your bills.” It was a “better go look for new full time job again.” It was a “God didn’t do what I thought He should do.”

And I freaked. And I cried. And I was mad. Because, I mean, really, this was a PERFECT set-up for God to show off some of his goodness by answering my prayers exactly like I wanted him to. Bump, set…all I needed was that spike. Why wouldn’t he spike??

I remember feeling like this a few years ago. My friend David had a surgery and suffered horrible, unexpected complications. As he fought for his life over the next few weeks, we got a few “close call” notices that maybe he wasn’t going to make it. And I never, for a second, thought that he wouldn’t. I KNEW he was going to be fine, because that was going to be how God showed his goodness. He was going to show it through miraculous healing, because that’s the way it made sense. The doctors and nurses were going to be astonished; the praying people waiting for him to come home were going to see that God said yes. I just knew it. Until one day, I didn’t know it. I woke up and realized, he could really die. That was Thanksgiving day–and the next thing I knew, he was gone. And I was heartbroken, and confused. Because WHY wouldn’t God answer that prayer??

And I have felt that way so many times in my life. So many times I have known exactly how God should operate and exactly how he should provide for me. And you know what? A lot of times, he hasn’t. He hasn’t operated on my terms, he’s operated on his. And every.single.time, he’s been right. Sometimes, I don’t even know why–I have no idea why Dave wasn’t healed. I have no idea why I had a miscarriage. I have no idea why our life seems so crazy right now. But what I do know is this: He is still good. He is no less good than all the times he HAS answered my prayers exactly as I’ve hoped (which has also been often.) He’s not good because he does what I want or what I expect, he is good because he is God, and I am not. And this side of eternity, I may never understand death and disappointment, but I do understand redemption, and I know that these things will be redeemed.

This isn’t the post I expected to write about God’s provision. But it is about his provision nonetheless. A few months ago, I had it all–a house we owned; a high paying job with one of the most respected companies in the US; 2 beautiful children, free amazing childcare…the American dream. Today, I’m starting to pack up everything in my house so I can move all my belongings into my mom’s basement so we can afford to make ends meet.

But…I’m working part time. That was the dream to begin with. And I am thankful for every second I have with these kids–I am thankful that my attention is completely focused on my home, instead of being on my job. I am thankful for the stress I no longer have, for the energy I have now that I’m not gone so much. I am thankful that we have my mom who is so gracious and willing to share her home–and thankful that my kids will get the opportunity to spend so much time with their grandparents. I am thankful we get to downsize and figure out what’s really important and not be so caught up in STUFF.

And you know what? That sounds like a whole lot of goodness, and a whole lot of provision. And I think maybe everyone was right–if you trust and take a leap, God WILL provide. But he may not do it in a way you wanted, or expected. But he will do it in a way that sanctifies and teaches and he will do it in a way that leaves you thinking, “I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.” And that, to me, is the beauty of faith–that he is greater, and I am less. And regardless of where I am, there is beauty to be found–and I will strive to find it.

New shoes and such

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So, this week is my last week of full time management! Crazy and scary and wonderful and sad and way too many things to even consider typing about any of them right now.

One of my girls that works for me got a new job, so she needed to put in her 2 weeks. She did so with a hilarious poem she wrote, and a box of chocolate & sea salt covered caramels. FOUR years in management, and that’s the first person that ever quit with candy. I wish everyone would do that. Hear that, world? If I’m ever a boss again, quit with candy. Always.

Somebody in this house started wearing shoes. Pink shoes. Tiny shoes. And the cuteness might just kill me.

 Piper’s starting to be on her feet more than crawling, so the time has come. She is getting so big! I feel like we knew exactly how Sam was growing and changing because since he was our only kid, our world kinda just revolved around him. Now that our house is busier, I feel like sometimes I just look up and go, “Whoa! Piper is a big girl!” It’s really fun to see her developing personality–girlfriend has a stink-face! She is too funny.

 Sammy has been super into planes lately. We took both the kids to Aviation Park the other evening to let them watch the planes take off and play. Sam LOVED it and every time a plane flew by, he’d yell “PAAAAANNNEEE!!! HHIIIII PPAAAANNNEEEE! GOOOOOOOOO!” It was hilarious! I’m loving as my kids get older that we get to have fun family days that they actually enjoy. I’ve been taking Sam on trips since he was born that I always imagined would be more fun than they are–only to get there and realize he’s too little or doesn’t care about whatever I took him to see. But finally he loves seeing new things and experiencing the world and I love showing it to him!

Allrighty, I’m outta here–I have to admit that knowing it’s my last week of full time is kind of bringing me the big girl version of senioritis! I’m desperately trying not to be totally checked-out yet, so I gotta try and be focused for a few more shifts….

Just a little bit of bacon.

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My kids are sleeping right now. They’re both sleeping in the same bed. This both thrills me and scares me. It thrills me because this means that my room is mine again. If I want to go in there right now and turn on the light, I can do it. I can look for something in a dresser. I can turn on Friends loud enough that I can actually hear it (though, let’s be honest, we watch it with practically no volume and I have realized that I have memorized basically every episode from all 10 seasons anyways.) I could even put away laundry instead of leaving it down in the laundry room like I usually do, though I probably won’t. It’s a little scary though, because though PJ is pretty consistent in her night sleeping, she does sometimes wake up…and having 2 awake kids in the middle of the night doesn’t scream ‘Happy Staycation!”

Last night we went out for fancy-pants Anniversary celebration. Yummy dinner–a filet of fish, deboned tableside, and some super awesome crabcakes. I really should have taken a picture but I was busy inhaling seafood. Then after dinner we decided to really class it up, and we went to Friendly’s for dessert. Who knew they had new Create-Your-Own-Lava-Cake sundaes? Well, we ordered one of those badboys, and then we ordered a side of crispy, hot, greasy, salty bacon. Crumbled that goodness right on top. Oh. Man. I reeeeallllly wish I would have taken pictures of it (or, a picture of the server’s face when we ordered) but again, too much inhalation. If you order this, you will feel like a huge fat head, and honestly, you’ll be right. But you really won’t regret it. (Also, if you eat all this, your run the next morning will be awful. And you’ll be cursing those calories the entire time. But did I mention it was worth it?)

Wedding Flashbacks

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Soooo since I’ve shared how we met, started dating, and got engaged, I figured I’d share a little bit of our wedding. Our engagement was the most stressful year of my life–and as a note to any unmarrieds that may be reading this, I HIGHLY recommend a short engagement. I’m not super organized, I’m not great at making decisions, and I was super uptight about cost. The combination of these things led to many emotional and long days…but they all came together into one of the most beautiful, special, wonderful days of my life. I’ll just share a few pictures and stories…

I love this picture! This was our rehersal, obviously the part where Geoff would kiss his bride. However, the month before our wedding Geoff and I had agreed not to kiss at all (yeah, we totally stole it from Monica and Chandler on Friends…except they were abstaining from a lil’ bit more!) Let me tell ya, long month…and we were determined not to break it even on the night before! So this was our little “fake” kiss.

Also from our rehersal dinner, this shot captures much of our relationship’s personality. We’re generally being silly, and I’m generally being fiesty. It’s how we roll.

These here are the studs that were Geoff’s groomsman. Two of them are friends from high school (his best man was the friend whose house we re-met at!!) and two are friends he had met later in life. These guys were so much fun to have around in all the wedding prep, and looked pretty good in the crazy colored ties I made them wear, haha! I am such a color fanatic–I found their ties online and each guy coordinated with one of the bridesmaids, as you’ll see later.

 This is me and my bridal party. I had my 3 younger sisters, my 2 sister in laws, a friend I had met at work, and my maid of honor was my college roommate. Love, love, love these girls and they made my day so happy! And they wore crazy flip flops, did the crazy chicken dance, listened to me freak out, and especially my college roomie listened to many an emotional breakdown along the way! I love the way the colors turned out–each girl walked down the aisle with a guy in coordinating colors, and I love the way it all looked.

Here are two of my favorite wedding details–first, flip flops!! I LOVE flip flops, I love bows, and I love polka dots. I was thrilled that my bridesmaids agreed to indulge my color obsession. I also loved my flowers; each girl had a different color bouquet that also coordinated with their shoes (and the tie of the guy they walked with!) and it was all just so flippin’ fun!

Me & the Groom. Such a happy day 🙂 More to come!

A Proposal Story

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Our dating time was a whirlwind–we fell hard, and we fell fast! It was maybe a few months before we started talking marriage, and even though we started dating in February, it only took until late spring for us to know that this was it. So during the summer, I knew that a proposal could happen, but I also wasn’t really pushing for it. I wanted to be engaged and get married, but I did NOT want to turn all crazy and thinking every single date that tonight was “the night.” I also knew saving for a ring was going to be tough and I didn’t want to put any more pressure on him.

But, at the end of the summer, Geoff asked me to take off a certain day from work. He wouldn’t tell me what was going to happen or where we were going–no details at all! I started thinking in the back of my mind….could this be it?? So the weeks passed and I bugged him for more information (I’m totally the most annoying person in the world if I know someone has a surprise for me) and tried unsuccessfully to be patient. Finally, finally, finally, it was the night before the unknown event. He called and told me to wear tennis shoes and shorts, be ready super early in the morning, and that was all. I am pretty sure I barely slept! I still wasn’t getting SUPER hopeful though, and wanted to be able to enjoy the day no matter what.

The next morning, we started on our way in the car. Geoff, fully aware of how irritating I would be otherwise, had decided early on in the drive to tell me where we were going: Bushkill Falls, PA. It is this GORGEOUS park with lots of huge waterfalls (they call it the Niagra Falls of Pennsylvania.) We ate a picnic lunch, hiked a few miles and marveled at the beauty, just had the most amazing day. We laughed and joked and talked about everything under the sun–except marriage. I still sort of wondered if it was coming, I mean, come on. Proposing under a waterfall?? It’s perfect! But, nope. After that he took me into the city for a yummy dinner before we drove the few miles back home. Once there, he dropped me off with a kiss and an “I love you” and that was it. I wasn’t crazy disappointed, but I did think, “Well, if it wasn’t today, I guess it’s going to be awhile. Otherwise he would have definitely done it there!” I mostly was just feeling thankful that I had such a great boyfriend that he planned that big great trip for no reason!

On our hike 🙂

A few days later, I had been having a super frustrating day at work. I’d texted him on my break some of my complaints, and a few hours later when I went to leave, he was waiting for me with a huge bouquet of gerber daisies–my most favorite flower in the world. Again, I was thinking, “Man, my boyfriend is AWESOME!”

A few days after that, we were having a casual conversation and I had mentioned what a bummer it was that I had all these cute summer skirts and dresses I was fitting into again after some weight loss, but I never had anyplace to wear them. He said, “Oh, yeah, we should do a nice dinner or something sometime.” And then the next day he said, “Hey, tomorrow after work let’s do that dinner. You can wear something nice.” I was so excited–and this also happened to fall on my last day of working at my previous job, and I was SO excited to be leaving! It was going to be a great day.

When I got to work though, I was highly unmotivated. It was my last day, I was excited to see Geoff, and it was soooo. slow. So, when it came time for my lunch break, they told me I could just go home at 12 instead of 4. Hooray, I thought, now I can see Geoff sooner! I sent him a text to tell him I was on my way over, to which he responded “No. You can’t. I have errands.”

Um, errands? Seriously? In the time I’d known him, and in the time I’ve known him since, I’ve never heard him utter the phrase, “I have errands.” I called to get more information, but he was mildly testy. “I just have some stuff to do, ok? You just can’t come over until the time you said you were coming.” This was super weird coming from my laid back guy, but I just went with it and killed some time before I went over. I finally got there, and his car wasn’t even there. I went inside where his mom handed me a note. There was a poem that basically told me to go upstairs and get ready and then wait. And also had a ps. telling me not to bother asking his mom for details, haha! He knows me so well. When I got upstairs, there was another note I was instructed to open after I got ready. So I showered, put on my dress, and opened the second note, which left clues to my grandmother’s house.

My grandmother’s house is on the water and her pier is one of my most favorite places on the entire planet. My childhood memories and so many special times are at that house. Sooo any normal person would be thinking at this time, “Oh, it must be a proposal!” BUT, he’d already done so many great things recently, I thought this was just another one of them! So, got in my car, drove to meet him, and when I parked there was another note that told me to follow the trail….and I saw a pathway of gerber daisies down to the pier where he had lit candles and was waiting for me.

The pier

I STILL just thought it was another nice thing he was doing, and I rambled on a bit about how cute he was, how my day was, etc. He seemed a little weird and not talking much, soooo I just overcompensated and talked more. I finally stood up and was like, “Ok! Well, let’s go to dinner!” At that point he took my hands and told me to wait, and it finally clicked. He got down on his knee, said a bunch of stuff that for the life of me I can’t remember because I was so excited, and then pulled out the ring! It was so cute because when I said yes and we kissed, there were a bunch of neighbors outside waiting and they started clapping and cheering.

This was about 2 minutes after he proposed!

 

Over dinner, I explained why I didn’t think he was proposing because he’d done so many things in the prior weeks. He got a huge, proud grin on his face and said, “YES! MY DECOYS WORKED!!” Haha, he figured I’d suspect something, so he was doing everything he could to throw me off. Smart guy 🙂