Friday, January 21, 2011

In Praise of Stay at Home Mom's and a giveaway!

Over 11 years ago I met Jon at our workplace. We stole glances here and there and one thing led to another and we were engaged to be married. I loved the way he cared for children and knew that he would be a great father to our kids. We talked about the way it would be when we had our own, our parenting skills matched eachother and I was excited to see how our life would play out. But now looking back, we never really talked about the stay at home mom gig. How did that happen??

Society has some deep roots in the thinking of women (and men too!) I just figured I would be employed, put the kids in day care and come home to them at night to tuck them in bed! That is what so many women did and I did go to college so I wasn't going to waste all of that work.

Then a year and a half into our marriage, I got pregnant. At 12 weeks we lost the baby. While it was a painful time, it shook my world and it turned my thinking upside down. I was shocked at the love, hope and emotion that was wrapped up in my sweet unborn child. I knew right then and there, I could not leave a child in daycare.

My husband and I changed jobs where we could both be "stay at home" parents and still work. We were at a Children's Home who allowed us to have two children so we thought this was a perfect set up! For 7 years we called the Children's Home our home and we raised our two older children there. It was a blessing! When we became pregnant with Jake, we were asked to move to another position or leave our job as houseparents so leave we did as we couldn't put our kids in daycare.

For me, I wanted to be there at my kids first coo, first tooth, first steps and all of the assorted other firsts. Nobody could raise my child with more care and concern than my husband or I. I often joke that becoming a parent has made me into some wicked control freak but hey, there are worse things right?

Our journey took us to North Carolina where Jon landed a job. He left me for the very first time to be the breadwinner while I took care of the kids. I can't say that it was easy that first year! I was spoiled by all of his care and attention to his family. I am still like a struggling swimmer trying to keep my head above water but most days I can lay my head on my pillow thankful for the day that had transpired.

So that long story led me for my book choice last week. I was strolling by the bargain isle and saw In Praise of Stay at Home Mom's by noneother than Dr. Laura and I thought, "hey! I could use some bolstering!" So buy it I did.

It is an easy read and of course a lot of it I already "know" but fail to remember when I am in the thick of changing diapers, cleaning,cleaning and cleaning and did I mention cleaning? I am blessing my home, blessing my family with every swipe I make! There are no stats, no studies, just encouraging words from Dr. Laura and listeners to remind you that it is all worth it!

Because it was such a blessing to me, I would love one of you to have it as well. I know there are plenty of SAHM's who read my blog so you know what I am talking about! You know you could never turn down any encouragement! So leave a comment and on February 4th, I will choose a winner from Please leave me your email addy so I can contact you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hunkering down..

Webster's definition of hunker: 1. to crouch, squat or or my personal favorite, 2. to settle in or dig in for a sustained period. Yep, that is what we are doing. Winter seems to do that to me. How I love the warm heat, the cozy foods and the wearing of sweat pants because I have indulged in all of those said cozy foods during the holiday's.

Projects abound here in the Jackson home. Weekends have become one massive to do list with trips to Ikea and jobs only my sweet husband can do. I swore I would never be one of "those women" but alas, being a stay at home mom has done it to me. Maybe it makes him feel needed and appreciated? He would disagree as gifts of service of that magnitude don't do it for him. Now he can bring me a nice hot brownie topped with ice cream (or a new bookcase!) and wowzers, he feels like he has done something...

Our living room looks like this:

And if you come over, you might be put to work...

But the good news is our bedroom looks like this:

Finally, after 15 years, this girl gets some new bedroom furniture. And I feel like doing this but she sucked all the energy out of the room so I got nothin'.

And if your wondering what in the world has gone wrong with the pictures well, it is from my phone and I have no clue why it is all messed up but I had to give you a piece of our "real" life in the moment.

By the way, I am not the only one who loves sweat pants in the winter time. Jake has been enjoying his cozy foods as well and wanted to show you his well formed abs.

He's worked hard on those ya know...

So feel free to stop by anytime, we will be here, hunkered down. Kinda feeling out in the netherlands but it has been good to get in routines that stretch us. I like this New Year of ours.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Word of the Year...

Have I mentioned that I love the New Year? I love the freshness of it all, the clean slate aspect and the thought of starting over gets me all giddy. I guess I have to admit that I am a sucker for anything new so maybe it shouldn't surprise me. I am also a addict for changing things. Probably to my detriment as I hope this new "thing" will make all things better, more efficient, more practical. Usually I end up at square one and it was all for naught but hey, I gave it a good try.

Sometimes because of this trait, I sometimes feel that I am on a hampster wheel of life. Laundry, dishes, wiping faces and other body parts which will go unnamed. It gets repetitive and sometimes I check out. Reading, computer, facebook, talking on the phone, the computer... do we see a pattern here? Anything but connecting with the Creator and the ones He put on this planet for me to raise and nurture. Just reading that last line makes me tear up and cry for I know it is such an important task God has entrusted me to.

Which leads me to my Word of the year. For a few years now, I have been choosing a life word. Something to direct my steps of sorts. If it doesn't line up with my word maybe I shouldn't be partaking in it. Last year it was strength as I really needed it! Having a newborn, moving and assorted other life changes really drained all of my emotional and physical energy so I had to constantly remind myself through that word that The joy of the Lord is my strength! I had it in me whether I felt it or not. And that word got me through.

This year, while I know the strength is in me, it is the discipline I lack. Ouch, I said it. Self-discipline. I feel that this word encapsulates all the things I want my life to focus on. Self-disciple to walk away from time suckers such as the computer and my phone. While those things are good, there still needs to be moderation. Self-disciple to plug into the people who are right there in front of me - my God, my husband, my children and my friends. To build up those face to face relationships that are so very vital to my being. I could go on and on and tell you all the things that I need to be disciplined in, but you get the point!

And before you sigh huge sighs of conviction and think, what more can I do? I am tired, worn out and how will I muster up the energy to keep on keeping on. Well, I thought that too until I did a quick little word check. 2 Timothy 1:7 says For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. We already have it! Whew... now we just need to obey.

Now to lighten things up a bit... My new year comes with a 1 year old!

It is hard to imagine that just a year ago he was born. He has added so much joy and life into our family. What amazes me the most about adding a third child was how seamlessly he fit in. The kids just accepted him and have incorporated him into their lives! Often I go into one of their rooms and they are all three playing some imaginary game and Jake is right there in the middle of it with his own special roll to play. I am so blessed to have siblings who love each other!

And with him becoming one, means a whole nother level of parenting...

He is walking. And boy did he take to it fast. One day he was taking little steps and falling down after one or two. Then in about a month, he has mastered it mostly and now gets everywhere by walking. He cracks me up too because he has this new face with his tongue sticking out when he means business. So watch out world, he Jake comes!

Peace out and we're outta here! Gotta practice my word right??

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The New Year brings much time for contemplation for me. Maybe it is because everyone is tired from the holidays and the letdown from the hustle and bustle gets to me. I like looking back and having quiet moments to ponder the hope for the New Year, a fresh start of sorts.

This past year has been eventful to say the least. Welcoming a new life in our home, moving and getting connected into a new community. But honestly, I have let school slack. Yes, my kids are learning but we need to buckle down and plow through the next few months before summer comes.

I have been a part of an online community of women who share a love for the Five in a Row curriculum and it never fails to bless me in ways I never knew I needed! Well, it didn't disappoint me today as this was shared. Even if you don't homeschool, it is a good quick read as I am sure you might know someone who does!

Ten Ways to Simplify Homeschooling
Colette Longo

1. Keep everything as simple as you can. Jesus wrote with a stick in the dirt, and He was the greatest teacher that ever lived. He used no curriculum or flannel graphs or lesson plans. Homeschooling can be made far more complicated than it should be. A simpler approach is much more effective.

2. Stick to the 3 R's. They form the foundation of life-long learning in every field because they are the tools of study. There will be no need to formalize any other subject if the children are doing their best in these 3, because people who are well grounded in reading, writing and math will approach other subjects boldly, independently and confidently.

3. Let the children teach themselves as much as they are able to. This teaches them responsibility, intellectual independence, and builds confidence. It's also better for the parent/child relationship because you can focus on parenting instead of playing schoolteacher.

4. Use the most direct method available. For reading, read. For writing, write, for math, do it, and for Bible, read it. Don't fall for catchy curriculum's or methods that are really just something else for you and your child to learn.

5. Don't worry about your child's age or grade. Just let him do the best he can each day. Children grow intellectually like they do physically: in spurts. Although we may have an audience of skeptical relatives, homeschooling is not a circus, and we refuse to train our children to do tricks for people.

6. Minimize distractions in the home. Watch for excessiveness in entertainments, snacking, outings, phone conversations and the like. These sorts of things can easily get out of hand and compete with the effectiveness of a homeschool and sap the family of time and energy.

7. Seek quality over quantity. A few tapes of great music, a small case of carefully chosen books, a few special play mates, and an occasional outing is better than a large, but poor quality collection.

8. If you must document your school activities, do it after the fact. This way you will not make promises you cannot keep. If you are required to make lesson plans, be as vague as permissible. Don't let transcripts, diplomas, records and tests determine your academic plans. Focus on learning and the rest will follow.

9. Put the needs of your youngest, most vulnerable children first. If an older child gets a little behind in school, I'm sure you can forgive yourself. But if something happened to the toddler while you were busy homeschooling, I don't think you would be able to say the same.

10. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and don't neglect to seek him him the first fruits of your day and teach your children to do the same. I know that you are tired and that there aren't enough hours in your day, but we serve a God who can make the sun stand still.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt. 11:28-30