Archive | November, 2014

Adding My $.02 to the Age-Old Debate

20 Nov

Since everyone and their grandma has opinions on the working vs. stay-at-home mom debate, let me throw mine into the mix.

I went back to work 3 days a week when Emma was about 4 months old. I was blessed to have such a long maternity leave – I think both Emma and I needed that time together. But even though I was a little nervous at the thought of someone else taking care of Emma, I was ready to go back to work. I needed some structure to my week and was looking forward to having a reason to shower and get dressed nicely.

I enjoyed working 3 days a week. Having 3 days at a computer allowed me time to think coherent thoughts and feel accomplished in a professional sense. It also enabled me to send personal emails, schedule appointments, and play fantasy football (haha) during random downtimes. Even though getting bottles ready, pumping and commuting an hour each way made those days a little hectic, it was nice once I got to work to be able to breathe and have a break from baby stuff.

Working those 3 days also made the days I stayed home with Emma extra special – we stayed in our jammies until noon, did random stuff around the house, ran errands and hung out with friends. I felt more energetic and creative as a mom when I was with Emma as a result of having the time away from her.

When we moved to Minnesota, I stopped working. My employer had already made a special concession to let me go down to 3 days – I doubt they would’ve approved working from home on top of that. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay anyway. On top of no longer working, we lived 10 minutes outside a town of 300 for 3 months. Talk about a huge shift.

I knew that I couldn’t judge what being a stay-at-home mom is like based on those 3 months, so even though I wasn’t *loving* it, I was patient. I have now been a SAHM with Emma for about 9 months – equal to the time I was a working mom. Emma and I have gotten involved and have a fairly regular weekly routine, so I feel like I have a fairly accurate idea of what being a SAHM is like. And I can say that I prefer working part-time. Don’t get me wrong. There are many things that are great about staying home full-time. I like the ability to get things done during the day instead of taking care of them after work or on the weekends. I like cooking dinner at a reasonable hour. I like seeing Emma grow and learn new things, and being the one taking care of her. I like going to playdates and MOPS and spending time outside.

But just like working outside the home has its challenges, so does staying home. You don’t get a break. You have a little needy person (or persons) with you constantly. It’s impossible to get anything done without being interrupted and some days, you need an extra gallon of patience that never seems to arrive. So sure, hypothetically you have all the time in the world to bake and clean and craft and Facebook, but in reality, you’re just chasing a kid around all day, keeping them from injuring themselves, drawing on your furniture or yanking on the dog’s tail.

More than that though, I miss the personal fulfillment of working. When I gave birth to Emma, I became a mom, but I didn’t stop being me. I am happier and more myself when I have a creative outlet, a personal goal, time to think and accomplish things without a little person tugging on my leg or the worry that naptime will be over soon.

That’s me though. I am not a natural ‘kid person’ and never have been. Some people are, and that’s great. Some moms love staying home, and that’s great. Some moms love working, and that’s great. There are tradeoffs, sacrifices, challenges and benefits of each way. I truly believe that every family needs to do what is right for them. Travis and I are fortunate to have the financial means to make the choice freely. I know other families do not have that option.

What I would like to see is for women to stop picking sides and declaring which way is ‘right’ or ‘better’. Just the other day, I read a supposedly objective essay on this debate, and the author was clearly biased toward staying home (because she happened to be a SAHM). Just because you do things one way doesn’t make it the right way. And let’s be honest, fellow SAHMers – do we REALLY want all of the college-educated, intelligent, driven women to check out of the workforce once they have kids? Do we REALLY want a society run by males? We do not! Women are a crucial part of the workforce.

I realize that I may come across as slightly hypocritical by saying that, since I am not currently working outside the home. Even though I would prefer to work part-time, I have found that the number of professional part-time jobs out there (especially where I currently live) are virtually nonexistent. I know plenty of women who work full-time, but I personally would prefer not to (and I’m blessed to have that choice). So that might make me a hypocrite, but so be it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the age-old debate of working vs. stay-at-home mom. Neither is easy. Both have challenges. Both have rewards. All moms love their kids.

Pregnancy #2 Update: 5 Months

19 Nov

I’m 20 weeks along today – halfway there!

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Never mind that bad picture…

Here’s me at 20 weeks with Emma:

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We have our ultrasound the day after Thanksgiving but we’re still planning on keeping the gender a surprise until the baby is born.

I feel bad saying this but honestly, this pregnancy has been pretty much a breeze so far. I’d say that I’m a little more tired than usual, but I was used to taking naps during Emma’s naps even before I got pregnant so… I guess that’s pretty much the same. I’m still attempting to get up before her in the morning, but she has decided recently to start waking up at 6, which is as early as I’m willing to get up. Frustrating…

I haven’t had any weird aches or pains (that last, at least), I’m still sleeping pretty well (on my stomach sometimes even!), and I haven’t had really any food cravings. I’m still running – we signed up for a Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving so I’ve been “training” for that by running about twice a week. I’ve worked up to 2.5 miles so far. Even though I had gotten back into running shape last spring, I wasn’t running more than a couple miles at a time all summer. Now that we seem to be in the thick of winter, I’ll probably be done running for a while after the race (unless I join a gym).

I started feeling the baby move a couple of weeks ago. The movements are very slight flutters at this point, but fun to feel and also reassuring that the baby is doing well. I’ve gained about 12 lbs so far.

We finally made some progress on the nursery this past weekend. My parents were up so we moved the futon downstairs and painted. We had a gallon of paint left over from when we painted our main room, and it was the color I had decided to go with anyway, so it worked out! I LOVE it.

Before

booknookAfter

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I bought some wall dots from Walls Need Love after seeing them on Pinterest and plan to do a design like this or this. I am going to spray paint the lamp we already have – gold for the shade and navy blue for the base. And just today I bought fabric to sew curtains – it’s a navy blue and white fretwork design (which I just happen to be obsessed with).

I went through Emma’s baby clothes and we have only a few gender-neutral things, so I’m going to look around for some more in newborn / 0-3 month sizes.

And Emma is crying again from her cough that will. not. go. away. so that’s all I have for now!

 

The Importance of Eternity

12 Nov

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If you’ve read my blog for a while, you probably know that I spend a lot of time focusing on accepting the circumstances God allows – true joy comes from surrendering to His plan. It’s waaay easier said than done because to be honest, I often don’t like the circumstances He allows. They’re hard. They hurt. Sometimes they just plain suck. But the truth remains: If I want joy, I must humbly submit myself and my life to God.

I still wholeheartedly believe in this and the book I’m working on is about how I got to that place. But I’ve noticed a potentially bad result of that mindset: forgetting eternity.

Finding joy by accepting what God allows isn’t just about making this life more bearable. The Bible is full of verses about the importance and benefits of trials, suffering, and persecution in a believer’s life. But the reason WHY those are so valuable is eternity.

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” God is our hope and joy in this life only because He’s our hope and joy in the next. There is no gospel without eternity. We cannot let go of this life and truly trust God with everything unless we are staking our hearts on another life, a better one – one spent face to face with Him. Paul also wrote, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23b)

It’s good to give thanks for God’s daily, tangible blessings and provision — doing so helps me connect the larger reality of the gospel to my everyday life. But it’s best to give thanks for salvation through faith alone in Christ alone. Only that will never change and never be taken away.

Though Satan should buffet
Though trials should come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

Emma Grace: 19 Months

11 Nov

Emma’s favorite things at 19 months:

  • “Cooking” in the kitchen with water20141006_175336
  • Playing outside (but not riding in the stroller, or walking when she’s supposed to)
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  • Playing in the car20141021_122013
  • Eating pickles… for breakfast20141024_074543
  • Jumping! This was in the bouncy house at the fall festival but she loves jumping on her toddler bed (the only thing she does on it right now) and on the trampolines at ECFE.20141024_194211
  • Helping Mommy and Daddy with whatever they’re doing (this was taken while cleaning out a cooler from elk hunting)
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  • Making messes! Specifically with towels, dishes, paper, and balls.20141027_092235
  • Finding water outside while playing in the rain. Water!!!20141027_171959
  • Other things that Emma loves (and I don’t have pictures of):
    • Coloring
    • Getting messy with finger paints, mud or food
    • Dogs
    • Playing with other kids
    • Looking at books by herself
    • Riding in the ‘race car carts’ at the grocery store
    • Climbing on things she’s not supposed to, like our side table or entryway bench

Since I said I’d mention it, we had the first of Emma’s evaluations for a speech delay, and their conclusion was what we had known – she’s on track in every area except speech. We’re going to have 2 more evaluations done, and then I’ll post the ‘results’ or what ‘treatment’ we’re going to do.

Worth Repeating {11/10/14}

10 Nov

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Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. I struggle with loneliness (because you’re alone, and yet not) a lot, even though I’ve been getting back into the swing of normal life. My kneejerk reaction to emotions that I don’t like is numbness – going through life on autopilot. But depending on God during the hard times meaning acknowledging the hardness, and trusting Him to be sufficient in the midst of it all.

That’s why I like this quote that I found on Pinterest. Such a great reminder that the hard times have their purpose.

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In the Swing of Things

9 Nov

One of the hardest things about moving back to Minnesota was the ‘stalling’ of normal life. We spent 3 months living in a town an hour away from where we knew we were moving, so it was very impractical to get involved in anything, in either place. Our lives were essentially on hold – especially, it felt, for me. I was a stay-at-home mom for the first time since being on maternity leave. I didn’t have a house to manage, decorate or organize. I didn’t have any activities or obligations. I was floundering.

God used that season to test my faith, and stretch me beyond my comfort zone. I was reminded that growth never comes from doing what’s easy or comfortable – only from being pushed beyond what we think we can handle. That said, I’m glad that season is coming to a close!

Emma and I finally have some semblance of a ‘normal’ weekly schedule. (With Travis’ crazy work schedule, our family’s schedule still isn’t normal, but hopefully it will be more so by the beginning of next year.)

I joined MOPS, which meets about 2 Mondays a month (some months only 1).

I enrolled Emma in an Early Childhood and Family Education class, which I attend with her, called Time Together on Thursdays. We do crafts; learn animals, songs and sign language; and play with other kids.

We have been going to the same church for the past month or so. We’re not ready to commit to being members yet, but we like what we’ve seen and heard so far. And we’ve met a lot of great people, which has been so nice.

I’m in a book study with 3 other ladies on Thursday nights. We’ve been reading The Home Experience by Devi Titus and while she’s very southern and some of her suggestions are impractical for mothers of preschoolers, it has been a great encouragement in this season of staying home to study how being a wife and mother is a valuable, worthwhile calling, and how I can bless those around me by taking it seriously.

And finally, starting next week, Emma will be going to daycare one day a week on Tuesdays – so that Mommy can have a break and pursue her dream of writing a book!

It is very nice to have life starting to look more ‘normal’ again. I’m glad, though, that it has taken as long as it has, because we have been able to be intentional about what we’re filling up our weeks with, instead of just adding stuff for the sake of being busy.

Now if my husband were just able to stop working so much, we’d be set!

Halloween 2014

8 Nov

Even though we don’t get into Halloween very much, we did take Emma trick or treating around our neighborhood for about an hour this year. But to be honest, it was just as much about us getting to meet more of our neighbors as it was about Emma getting to show off being the most adorable ladybug. (The candy was a nice bonus too.)

We went out around 6:30 and got back around 7:30 – and man, was it dark outside! Our neighborhood doesn’t have any streetlights so the only light we had was a little lantern we brought with us. It was also in the low 30s, so we were bundled up in our winter gear (Emma had several layers on, plus her ladybug costume).

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A few weeks before Halloween, we went to a fall festival fundraiser at the Pillager school. Emma dressed up in her costume, played some games (her favorite was picking rubber ducks out of a bucket of water and matching them for a prize), squealed in delight when she saw the Husky mascot, and even jumped in the bouncy house with Daddy. Some of our new friends were there too, so it was fun to see them.

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And that was our Halloween this year!