the unpredictable life

Since my return to the workforce in January 2015, I have been absolutely not keeping up on this blog.  I have only really written about hoe busy, hard, tiring life has become.  While I never intend to be phony, or over enthusiastic about the truths of these feelings, I certainly don’t want this to be a place for whining.  I will be honest here for a moment.  This blog will not be what it once was.

I will post things about our (very small) garden, our family, our fun.  It simply won’t be the same.

I’m a working mom.  I’m a college student. Our kids are now in public school.  I’m on my way to be a firefighter/EMT.  Nick is no longer a pastor.

Our life is wholly and completely changed from what it once was two years ago.  I cannot see it being the same again.

Life is unpredictable.

I have often thought of posting here over the months.  The truth is I wasn’t sure how it would be received by you.  What I write about won’t be the same or what I think you expect.  So, if it’s okay with you, I’m going to write about what our life is now.  I may not write any knitting patterns soon, but I may pull off a project or two a year (not a month). The name of this blog might not make sense all the time, but we’re too far along to go back now.  It’s been 7 years!!  Thank you for staying with me.  We will still farm, and fun, and mom here.  I think you will like some of the new topics as well.

If you want to see what we’ve been doing this summer catch up on our YouTube vlogs.

I am simply going to write about us.  Our life right now.  Let’s begin (again).

the assiduous life

Saying the word “busy”  didn’t seem like enough to describe how much our life has changed this last year.

Assiduous.

Taxing.

Overwhelming.

In the midst of a life swirling around us, we are forced compelled to turn our trust and hope and faith in God.

There are times in this life that feel heavy and troublesome.  There are seasons that feel that way.  There are years that have that oppressing cloud over them.  This is one of those years for our family.  The light is at the end of the tunnel, though.  That little flicker of hope is shining through.  There are days I’m convinced that I’ve imagined it.  Others, I know it’s there.

What am I talking about?

Relief.

Over the past eight months I’ve gone from Stay At Home Mom to Career Mom.  Nick has gone from Sole Provider to Mr. Mom.  We are about to embark on Homeschool to Public School…again.

We’re in that awkward phase.  The one where you know it’s rough waters ahead, but you can see that sparkle at the end.  The one where if you just push a bit harder, you’ll find rest, but you know you can barely take more.

I realize there are plenty of you out there that work full-time and have children.  This is new to our family.  The change in pace and rhythm has been a challenge from the beginning.  I fully understand the strain on family ties when there are two working parents!  It just takes so much work to work.

::I’m going to insert a confession here.  This is a bit of a therapeutic post for me.  I have hardly the time or brain mass to write nowadays.  I’m putting forth the effort now because I feel I need to write.  There’s only so much my poor husband can take.  Continue on if being my Whipping Boy is fine with you.::

Here we are.  Nick on the brink of advancing at work (UPS…finally), and I in the crossroads of Can’t Quit and Worn Out.  You see, my income is drastically more than Nick’s.  In fact, if I hadn’t had the Favor of God in my workplace, I’m not sure what we would’ve done.  For some reason we simply can’t understand or see yet, Nick had a very difficult time finding a job.  Very difficult.  So, here we are.

Forced Compelled patience.

I never thought we would be here…ever.  I’m a career mom, Nick’s the main caregiver of the kids.  He makes bread (seriously) and I make work schedules.  He runs the schooling.  I run a restaurant.

Things are changing soon.  Soon, the kids will be in school, the husband will put in more time at work, I will be on the hunt for an after-school caregiver.

Never thought we’d be here.

Here we are.

Humbled by the circumstances of life.

Open to the leading of the Lord.

Re-evaluating our past convictions.

Entering into the life of an average American family.

I must say, though we never dreamed or planned or wanted this life, we are walking though it with faith.  Hope that the light that we see or imagine, flickering at the end of a dark and trying year, is really getting closer.

Just a bit more to push through.  A wee more time.  Much more work.  A true path that has been laid knowingly and intentionally by a God that has a plan.

Forward we will march on in our assiduous life.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

penny

I mentioned a few days ago that our sweet little poodle Luke died.  We have all been so sad.  Luke had his faults, but he was a great family dog.  He never hesitated to lick and love on us.  He always laid next to the under-the-weather family members.  He stuck like glue to Josie’s side while she recovered from surgeries.  He was a wonderful dog for all these kids.

He tolerated anything these kids dressed him in.  He always had energy to play.  He was a lover of face licking.

I silence fell upon our house when he was gone.  An energy was missing.  I’m sure we could never forget all the laughs and comfort Luke brought.  Our house hasn’t been the same since.  It’s quieter.  I like when it’s quiet, but this is the sort of quiet that feels like a void.

A month and a half has passed.  We decided we’re ready for a new puppy fluff.

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The energy is back full-force, I assure you.  We haven’t laughed or smiled this much for a while.  Penny came to live with us Friday.  If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen this tiny ball of fun.  We are all so excited about our new puppy.

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If you don’t think she’s cute, you are heartless.

Her faults include: being too much fun to focus on school work, being too cute to stop holding, acting as the perfect distraction from housework.

These are also her strengths.

Some seasons in life are best gotten through by using a tiny, fluffy, energetic pup as a Segway.  We are thanking Jesus for bringing this little girl to us in the most likely way, in perfect timing.

Oh, Penny.  You are just what we needed.

9 misunderstandings about motherhood (i wish someone told me this)

If you’re a struggling mama, a new mama, or a soon-to-be mama, a never-ending, or a super mama, hippie mama, corporate mama, stay-at-home mama, unschooling, homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling mama…this list may be for you.

1. Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural.  Okay, this ends up being mostly true, but it’s starts out blisters,  crying (mama from pain), and ends in biting and more crying- ’cause mom doesn’t want her baby to  grow up.  Somehow your child will live- even on formula *gasp*.

2. Stay-at-home moms don’t do much.  Excuse me?  They have time to do everything perfectly that working moms never can.  Being a SAHM is easier.  For me, I think my mind and emotions would rather I get a job.

3.  Motherhood comes naturally.  Disagree.  Selfishness comes naturally.  Motherhood is a life of service.

4.  It gets easier.  So far, no.  The change of physical demands and no sleep to bra shopping and  hormones- ’nuff said.  I have heard enough from mom’s with adult children to know that season has it’s struggles  as well.  Like I said- life time service.

5.  If you read a bunch of parenting books, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect and how to deal with  it.  Don’t worry the formula works for everyone…said no mother ever!

6.  You have to be able to juggle house, schedules, and bake cookies all the time.  Give yourselves a break.   We mamas can seldom muster up the will and motivation for for anything other than keeping the young  alive.  It’s okay.  If you’re a ball of energy, that’s awesome.  If you’re not, don’t fall into the trap of looking  around you.  Assume you’re friend’s Instagram picture of perfection was the only moment of peace that  day held, and she documented it.  Assume that all the Pinterest pins are looking more like the Pinterest  Fail blog.  Just love your babes and do lots of deep breathing and praying.  You’ll make it to the next  stage.

7.  Your friends are sweeter, more peaceful, and never complain about anything.  They have it all figured  out.  They are better than you.  Yeah right.  They are likely struggling just as much- maybe more.  Have  honest conversations and be a friend who understands.  We are all figuring things out as we go.  YOU”RE  NOT ALONE!  Surround yourself with godly women who you can relate to.

8.  If you don’t feed your child organic from scratch food, on a plate that’s BPA-Free in a chair you bought at the thrift store and painted with chemical-free paint, while strumming your guitar to a song you wrote especially for him– he’ll grow up hating you and thinking that you neglected him.  Give that kid some chicken McNuggets and let him play in the ball pit of death germs.  He’ll love you more.  Just kidding. Do what ever you want, but remember that he only wants you.  Not your food or your up-cycles.  Just your presence and love.

9.  If you’re a single mom you have failed.  You don’t see your kids enough and they will turn out horrible.  Don’t believe that for a second.  You can do it, and you will realize one day how amazing you are for raising a child with no help or relief from a spouse.  I think single moms are amazing!  God will get you through to your next season.

Moms!  You are important.  What you do everyday is doing something.  Every stage of motherhood you look back on and see the growth in your person, your relationship to the Lord.  Every stage is teaching us something.  Don’t believe lies.  You are a mother.  You are amazing.  You may not feel amazing, look amazing, or act amazing (mommy-ka-boom!), but if you love your children they will know.  

Sometimes a, “Mom, MOM, MOMMY!  I love you.” Is enough to remind us, right?

Do not grow weary in doing good.  The Lord provides the strength you need.  Just be the mom He wants you to be, not the one you think you should be.  

 

homeschool, housework, and sanity

Let me clear things up for you before they get murky from the beginning.  This post is more of a question and guide then an answer book.  I in no way, shape or form have “it” all together.  I have picked up a few tips and frames of mind along the path of schooling the kids over the years.  I’m simply passing along personal experience.  I also ask myself if I’m on task daily.  Is there a more efficient or effective way to do things, ect.  In a nut shell, it’s an ever-evolving balance.

Every morning I get up and have personal time with Jesus.  Sometimes this happens when everyone is still sleep.  Sometimes, I sleep through my alarm (a lot) and this happens while the kids are doing morning chores. This is my best advice to anyone.  That’s how I prepare for my day.  After this time happens, my day begins.  The following is how I function through the rest of the day.

First, you can’t do it all and stay calm.  Choose the order of your priorities.  This has changed and been a huge struggle for me every year.  My biggest quandary is sticking to my own standards.  Your list may look different, that’s okay.  The concept remains. This is the order I pour my daily energy into.  This isn’t necessarily a priority of life.  It’s more import that my kids eat that learn.  It would be hard to learn if you’ve staved to death right?  This is the order I pour out my time and energy to.  If I have left over energy after #1, I carry out something in #2.  If I did something in #2, I may take longer or do something special for #3.  You get where I’m going with this.  I do each category everyday on some level.

1. School the kids (This is my number one priority!)

2. Cleaning (I’m putting this as the second because I lose my mind when things get too messy or backed-up)

3. Meals (We all have to eat.  I’m talking about whether we’re eating frozen meals or home-cooked)

4. Extracurricular (For me this is knitting, hanging out with friends ect.)

I’ve given up the ghost of being perfect and doing it all.  I was losing my mind people. I was also not perfect.  I was grumpy.  What’s important to me is being a good mom.  I want to feel they learned all they could.  Was I patient?  Do they feel loved and important? If the house is a wreck and we eat frozen pizza at the end of the day, I’m good with that.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I have slowly cared less and less about whole organic food.  I haven’t made a pie crust in over a year.  I simply don’t have the time or energy to accomplish everything to perfection.  To be honest, I was burdening myself with DIY everything.  Food, cleaners, projects.  I was using every spare moment of my day to do something.

I found a more realistic approach to life freeing.

When the kids are done with school I sneak in a load of laundry.  Sometimes I can start dish while they’re reading or busy with an assignment.  I am mostly on my feet the entire school time.  We do school from about 930-12 noon.  The afternoons are when older kids read or finish independent work, and younger ones rest.

I try to relax on some level here.  I read or watch a show while folding laundry.  I need a bit or a recharge.  If I don’t get one, it’s a frozen meal for dinner.  If I feel more energetic, I make a more time-consuming meal.  I do meal plan, but often re-arrange the planned meals for the week, depending on my energy.

After I have my quiet(er) time, we do afternoon chores.  Here’s the link to our schedule.  We are doing great with this.  I find it to be the least burdening chore chart we’ve tried.  Our house always looks generally clean now.  If I’m really in the mood to clean that day, I pick an organizing task or other project not on the list.  I also will take extra care washing linens and putting clothes away.  That’s if I really feel like cleaning that day.

When the day is done, or nearly so, I have extracurricular time.  They have free time until 5 pm.  While they play outside or entertain themselves I usually read or knit.  After they’re in bed, I read or watch TV with Nick.  I paint my nails, shower, ect. during this time.  The general point of this category is to take care of myself in some way, and RELAX after a long busy and often stress-filled day.  I go to bible study in the evening, and try to schedule hangout with friends (the no kids sort) at or around dinner time.  Nick can watch the kids, and I don’t feel behind the next day.

How do you organize your time and priorities?  Link your blog below, or comment.  Have a beautiful productive day!

 

 

 

saying goodbye

There has been a dead silence here, hasn’t there?  Our family has gone through some major changes.  As such, it’s hard to be consistant in this place.  We have said goodbye lately to some huge areas in our lives.  I’ll tell you just a bit about them before we move along to normal blogging.

First, we have sold our milking does and all our babies.  I have been in desperate need of some stress relief.  Not being a slave to milking every 12 hours has given me time to re-evaluate, and settle into a new life we are entering.  This brings me to the next HUGE change in our lives.

We are no longer in charge of the church we started.  It is very bitter, and a bit sweet.  Now is certainly not the time to go into the details, but I will say that I haven’t minded the extra family time.  With both if these changes, neither Nick nor I feel as “tied down” as we used to.  We have been enjoying the ability to have more family outings.

Another goodbye that was purely out of our hands is the complete loss of our garden.  Our humble little patch barely made it through a hail storm.  I was hopeful that the few leaves left would be enough for at least a small crop.  A larger more devastating hail storm blew through just a couple of weeks later.  That left us with nothing to work with.  It also ruined our roof, and damaged our vehicles and pop-up trailer.  It was a bummer.  A big one.

It has been a month full of sadness and change.  I can truly say that I will continue to praise Him through the literal and metaphoric storms that we have been in the eye of.  He is good and faithful no matter our lot in life.

We are all looking forward to the start of a new homeschool year.  I’ve been flying around organizing and planning.  The kids are actually looking forward to our beginning next week.  I really love back-to-school shopping.  The house has been filled with the smells of new crayons and pencils.  We’re locked, stocked and ready to fire away.

What have you been up to?  I do hope you have been having fun and growing closer to Him.

chore/allowance system that will blow your mind!!!

I’ve done my share of printing and laminating chore charts.  Some have worked better and longer than others.  All have failed at some point or another.  Nick and I decided we wanted to work on cleaning as a family instead of having everyone assigned different areas/tasks.  We came up with something that blew our own minds.  I’m so excited to share this with you!

First, a word on our chore philosophy.  We don’t require much.  We want them to learn to be responsible and accountable, but we are not slave-drivers AT ALL.  Secondly, we have never had set allowances.  Occasionally, we’ve paid various willing children to help us with big tasks- all voluntary.  We expect everyone to do something to help around here.  They are part of a family.  Families work together.

About allowance.  I’ve never liked the idea of trying to come up with a payment plan.  Who gets what?  When? How often? Seems like just more info I’ll forget or flake out on.  It also made me nervous about strife, competition and fighting among the kids.

Here’s what we came up with.  I’m still wondering how this idea came to our heads!  Thank you Jesus!

Click here for our PDF.  family contributions chart PDF  Follow this video link for the “normal” household chart.