Saturday, November 26, 2011


So... I am super excited about two things right now, and they both involve chicken(s). :)

I went to the store today to buy some chicken, and I found organic and free range chicken breast/thighs on sell for 99 cents a pound!!!  I stocked up :). 

The most exciting thing about chickens is that we are buying 5 from a good friend of ours!  Robert and my dad will build a simple coop this weekend, and we should be welcoming the new hens into our family this coming week.  I'm SO excited!  The type that we are buying are called Black Sex-Linked Hens... they are supposedly one of the best for laying eggs. 

I'll update with pics once the coop is built and we have the chickens! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Heart is Full

One thing that I have realized this week is that it has been a long time since I truly loved my family... not just "I love you because I have to," but unconditional love.  I have been so stressed for several years... and I have gotten so irritable and angry at times with them when they do something that even remotely annoys me.  The biggest thing is that my kids are very young, and they do things that young children do... and because I've had so many stressful things going on, I haven't truly shown them love because I'm just stressed out by them.  I do things out of obligation and because I know they need it, but I just wanted to get through the day so that I could go to bed (life has been exhausting). 

As I put my babies to bed tonight, I realized that I haven't REALLY shown them love, and I haven't really known them, for a long time.  My baby Levi has blown me away the past few days.  I didn't realize how much he talked and how much he loves his family (he was in daycare way too much).  His daddy has a cough, and every time he coughed, Levi would say "k, daddy?"  On the way home today from my in-laws, he just kept saying "mommy, lu vu."  He always wants hugs and kisses.  He's such a sweet boy.  And my other two are growing up way too fast... I've missed so much.  I can't miss anymore.  I'm so thankful that God has led us to have me stay home with them... I was SO worried that I would look back and be full of regrets for not being with my family.  They matter more than money or security.

I'm nervous about how we're going to make it work financially, but for the first time ever, I really don't care.  I'm more concerned that I can finally be mommy to my babies... And I really don't care if that means that we have to pack up and move AGAIN... because a house isn't truly what makes a home... family is. 

At the end of this day, I can truly say that my heart is full.  I don't know what I would do without my amazing husband and beautiful babies.

"Eyes. Nose"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Thankful Post

My life has been a roller-coaster ride for the past several years.  The fall/winter of 2008 seems to be one of my best memories ever... Robert was the Assistant Outdoor Ed director and loved his job (mostly), I was teaching part time, I started the process of living more naturally and really over-hauled how our family ate.  Karis, Robert, and I did a lot of cooking and baking together.  We made most of our Christmas gifts together.  It was just a great time.  Starting the spring of 2009, however, was one of the worst times of my life.  I started struggling more with anxiety because I found that living a more "natural life" was consuming me.  I couldn't be as perfect as I wanted.  Joey (my brother) was having a major life crisis, including trying to commit suicide and failing (ending up in ICU), then he was in one "mental hospital" after another.  He ended up being committed (by the court) to a mental hospital in September where they did electric shock therapy on him (without much of a choice)... he lost SO much of his memories.  On November 30, 2009, he took his life in a very gruesome, "only in the movies" kind of way, and my life has never been the same.  I had Levi a few months later, went through postpartum depression, then Robert quit at the camp (because he hated doing maintenance and he worked ALL the time), and we moved to Dallas.  I started teaching full time, at a VERY intense charter school, a few months later.  I haven't had a moment to catch my breath.  I loved my job, but I knew that I was never with my family... my kids were struggling, my marriage was struggling... Even though everything looked great from the outside (we were able to buy a house, etc), things always felt like they were falling apart (they weren't really, but they felt that way much of the time).  There were some really great moments in the past few years, and I will never regret working because I learned so much, but I am SO thankful that God is bringing me home. 

I'm sitting here at my dining room table, enjoying the quiet morning, sipping my pumpkin pecan coffee, and warmed by the fireplace.  My kids have been at my parents' house for a few days because we needed to get my classroom cleaned out and the house organized, so it's super quiet.  I needed some time to sit and reflect on all that the Lord has done in my life and all that He has taught me in the past few years.  My "thankful post" looks a bit different this year.

I am so thankful for...

...hard times... without them, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I wouldn't be so dependent on Jesus, and I wouldn't love my family with the intensity that I now love them...
...simple things... a fireplace, hot coffee in the mornings, classical Christmas music that makes me feel at peace, fresh cut flowers from my husband in the middle of the table, music to worship my Savior...
...the need to rely on Jesus to provide for our needs... having plenty of money isn't what it's cracked up to be.  I found myself spending more and trusting less, and the stress of making the money just wasn't worth it...
...more time with my family... I have missed them...
...knowing that eating perfectly just isn't as important as spending time with my family... I'm not needed in the kitchen as much as I'm needed to love my family... amazing husband that loves his wife and family more than himself...
...beautiful children who love to learn and play (and who love their family very much)...
...a church family that I have always wanted to have... they love Jesus and others so much...
...friends and neighbors with young children for our kids to play with...
...a park in walking distance... a library just a minute down the road... a grocery store a few blocks away...
...all of our needs met TODAY, and the faith of knowing that they will be met tomorrow...
...laundry that needs to be folded because that means we have plenty of clothes...
...a house that will need to be cleaned again later today because that means it is filled with kids that are playing and enjoying life...
...a family that supports us even though what we are doing doesn't make the most sense financially...
...the ability to live simply again...

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point :).  Life is short, and I want to enjoy every part... even when times are hard.  I know now that the hard times make a person who they are.  I know that when I get "Home," I will understand everything a little bit more.  In the meantime, I'll just live knowing that God knows and understands why everything happens.  I trust Him.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I've been sleeping SO well the past several nights.  When I go to bed, I'm asleep right away, and I don't wake up until morning (such a new thing!).  I hadn't been sleeping well... waking up in the middle of the night worried about something at work... so this is new :).  Because I've been sleeping so well, I've been waking up early feeling refreshed!  I've enjoyed the quiet early mornings to reflect and spend time with my Savior (while listening to Christmas music... YES, ALREADY!).

I am so excited to be starting this journey again... it's really what's best for our family.  I have been torn since I started teaching about whether or not I could keep going, and God made it clear that it's time to stop.

Cleaning and Organizing
Robert and I decided that a great way to start this new "journey" of being a stay at home mom (again), would be to organize and clean! 

The kids are staying at my parents this weekend (something we planned a LONG time ago, but it worked out well!), so we went to my classroom yesterday and emptied it.  Yesterday evening we started the tedious process of organizing the junk that I brought home.  I'm SO thankful that Robert put a new closet in this summer because we have plenty of storage now!  All of my school things fit nicely in this new storage closet. 

In the process of organizing the junk from school, I went through and pulled out anything that I can use to teach Karis (or the boys).  I have a crate full of teaching books that are great for preschool through 1st grade.  I have TONS (3 crates full) of already made games that she can use.  I have a basket full of books that teach science concepts and vocabulary.  I have many, many books that are at the beginner reading level.  I feel pretty fully equipped to homeschool, at least for now :).  Next year will completely depend on if we can get her into a specific school, which we have to put her on the waiting list for (in February).  We'll see how that goes!  I'm excited about being able to homeschool her, even if it's just for a semester :). 

Ways to Make this Work
When discussing the possibility of me staying home, we discussed many things that we can and want to do to make this work for our family.  The biggest things are trying to "live off the land" as much as possible so that we don't have to worry about food so much.  In the spring, we plan to get some chicks to raise into chickens to have eggs.  We also plan to plant a large garden and plant the things that we eat on a regular basis.
In December, we'll make a trip to Costco to stock up on basics (cheese, butter, meats, etc), and I plan to start making our own bread products again (I have at least a year's worth of wheat berries to grind into flour!). 

I will be signing up in a few weeks to start the process to become a childbirth educator.  Anyone who knows me knows that this is something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I have even purchased the books and have paid a part of the course fee (when I thought about trying to stay home before)... so the process had already been started a while back.  I can't wait to start studying! 

Robert is thinking through anything that he can do to prepare to do side jobs... we're getting there :).

We had plans to buy the kids bikes this year, but we have changed our plans (because that would probably cost a few hundred dollars).  My parents are buying the kids a swing-set for the backyard (yay!), so we decided to add to it.  Robert is going to build a small playhouse, and he's going to build a sand box (both out of wood that we already have!).  We'll probably get them a few other small gifts such as books, crafty things, etc.   We're going to make other gifts for family as well, but I can't share those yet :).  We LOVE making gifts!  We haven't been able to do that for a while.  I'm looking forward to it!

I'm in awe of how everything is working out so well!  I'm so excited and at peace!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Taking a Leap of Faith

For about a year now, I have struggled to make my job work for my family.  I literally work about 70 hours a week (including weekends/evenings).  Often, we would talk about me doing something else, staying home, etc, but it always came down to the fact that we couldn't afford it.  Not sure how we would make it.  I do really love teaching, so maybe I'll just try this, this, and this.  Then when that didn't work, we would have the conversation again, come to the conclusion that we couldn't afford it, then I decided I would try this, this, and this. 

It has been a cycle since not long after I started last year. 

This is the thing... I LOVE my job (as I have said SO many times)... But, I need to love my family more.  And I know that as long as I have this job, it has to be number one priority (because of the high expectations that they have). 

Robert and I decided on Monday to take a LEAP of faith.  We don't know how it will work out, but we MUST do this for our marriage and family.  We made the decision on Monday to put in my notice.  Initially it was going to be through the end of the physical year (effective the first day of next semester), but I was told yesterday that they have already found someone to replace me, and she will be starting November 28th.  So that will be my last day. 

I am in complete awe of how things have worked out.  He has already proven His faithfulness in providing for us in ways that don't make sense.  On top of that, Robert already has some possible side jobs and I will be working on becoming a Childbirth Educator.  It won't bring in a whole lot of money, but it will be FUN and the money will be supplemental.  Again, I don't know how this will work long term, but I KNOW that it will because God is faithful to provide for His children's needs.  I also know that this is totally a God thing because Robert is the one who said we needed to do this for our family.  Anyone that knows Robert knows that he has always been supportive of me working.  This year he has seen how it has taken a toll on our marriage and family, and we decided together that it just. isn't. worth. it. 

One of the biggest concerns of ours is that we just bought this house.  What if we can't afford it?  We bought it knowing that I had my salary.  We came to the conclusion that... it's just a house.  We have lived in many houses since we got married... If we had to sell it, it wouldn't be the end of the world.  But for the most part, we just trust that for now, this is where we're supposed to live. 

I have so many friends and neighbors that stay home, so it'll be SO nice to have that support and ability to get to know other moms better.  Just behind us (across the alley) lives a family with three kiddos our kids ages (and same genders).  Across the street from us lives a family with a little boy that is just a little older than Levi.  Many of my friends at church have kids around our kids' ages, and the mamas stay home.  So, I have a wonderful support system and community that I can now be a part of. 

Starting December 16th, Karis will be homeschooled.  We are probably just going to do that this year because Robert isn't a fan of homeschooling, but we feel that the school that she's been going to isn't the best fit for her.  It's not because of her teacher (because I really like her and she has been a great fit), but it's the demographic of the students.  Karis is the ONLY white child in the school.  She has ONE friend there... and she has been struggling.  I am all about diversity, but that isn't a diverse school.  And that knew that coming in, but I wanted to try.  We've tried, and it didn't work, so now we go to plan B. 

I'm looking forward to homeschooling, even if it's just for this year.  I already have an outline written up for what I'm going to cover :).  I still get to teach, but I get to teach the ones that matter most: MY kids. 

So... here we go... on a new adventure (again).  Life is full of changes.  I'm thankful that God is constant.  He knew this would happen.  And I am at complete peace. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gifts that Change Lives

Last year I discussed some awesome websites where you can buy gifts and the money goes directly to the people that make them (or to a great organization!). I found out about some more awesome websites with some super cute things!  I thought I'd share!!

MomentuM- Home, bath and body, toys, clothes, jewelry accessories, etc.  This one is my favorite so far!
Light Gives Heat- Mostly jewelry, handbags, and art, but they sell a few other things too.  Buying something from this site creates jobs in Uganda.
Noonday Collection- This site is a little more expensive, but proceeds go to helping orphans.
Nightlight International- Helps support women who are trying to get out of sex trafficking.
Divine Chocolate- Money goes to the farmers in Africa!
International Princess Project- Pajama pants to support women getting out of sex trafficking.
Krochet Kids- Hats, clothing, and other accessories.  Support people in Uganda and Peru.

We also like to buy a goat, chickens, etc for people in other countries who need food through World Vision.  You can buy one of these in someone's name and give them the gift of giving to someone else :).  It's pretty awesome.

I wish I thought about giving more often.  I need to make giving a priority.  There are so many in need around the world. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Finally Becoming More Organized

We have moved so many times in the past few years, and we have been so busy, that we hadn't taken the time to organize our life.  And honestly, I think that has been the source of a lot of our stress!  I have been really good at losing things, getting behind on things, we haven't been organized in our finances, we've procrastinated on things that were important, etc... and that makes life more difficult when life is busy.  So, last weekend, we took advantage of my parents being here, and we organized our office/bedroom.  Today I spent hours at school getting my classroom rearranged/organized, and now it'll be so much easier to be productive while I'm there on my late nights.  And honestly, this may be silly, but I think it'll make me a better teacher because I'll be less stressed while I'm there. 
We also went to Costco last week and stocked up for the month!  I love the feeling of a house full of groceries!  We have our meals planned for the week, and everything we need for them.  All bills are paid for the month (except for our weekly childcare payment).  All papers are filed and important things have been taken care of.  We have Quicken now for our finances and it makes a HUGE difference!  We have systems for everything that work; we've been keeping up with everything much better. 

We lit the fireplace for the first time tonight and just sat in front of it for a while.  It felt so good to be in a place where I don't have the weight of stress on my shoulders, and I could just sit and watch the fireplace and be at peace.  I don't know how to explain it, but I haven't felt this much peace in years.  I pray that it continues.