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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: December 2010

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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland

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Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: December 2010

Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland

December 31, 2010

The Best of Noah


Happy New Year!!


I hope everyone is having a safe and exciting New Year’s Eve…I’m home with my best guys; we’re getting too old to ring in the New Year. I am still shell shocked that it’s almost 2011 and another decade has gone by. And I still can’t believe how much my little guy has changed over the last 12 months; how much he’s grown. He’s gone from a baby to a toddler…a real spit-fire little boy right in front of my eyes. So today, in no particular order…my favorite photos of Noah from 2010.

{And I promise that this is the last “best of” or “favorites from” post. I swear.}

018307-4Beach 027Bubbles 012Covered Bridge 150-3Covered Bridge 151-2JoshBirthday 003JoshBirthday 037Noah 385NoahOutside 004NoahOutside 019NoahOutside 087stuff 021stuff 056
365 Day 2 and 3 057 copy - Copy - Copy - Copy

Day29 189 - Copy - CopyNoah-2 years 049Noah-2 years 337 copyPumpkinPatch 061Snow 049

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*My* Top 10 Favorite Mommy Bloggers of 2010

I wrote about the completely inaccurate (in my opinion) list of Top 50 Mommy Bloggers as chosen by Babble.com a few weeks ago. While there is absolutely no way that I could sit and list my favorite 50 blogs, I do want to give end of the year credit to my favorite ten. Blogging is all about networking and making friends. I connect with bloggers who make me think, make me laugh, and who are honest and open in their thoughts and opinions. While there are dozens upon dozens of you that I feel really deserve to be mentioned, I can’t list all of you. But I do encourage you to go check out each of the ladies listed below and make sure to tell them that I sent you. {These blogs are listed in no particular order…other than just being listed from the first one that I got to in my reader…}

My Bloggy Life: Way back at the end of 2009, I met Mandi via blog hopping. And though we’ve gone from bloggy friends to real life friends somewhere along the line, Mandi’s writing has been an inspiration and an encouragement to me for many, many months. She writes from her heart and has a style that draws you in and keeps you there.

One Mom’s Perfect Imperfection: Courtney and I discovered through the realm of blogging, tweeting and Facebook that she and I are long lost twins. We share a passion for photography and adorable children (hers are beyond precious!) and our friendship has grown over the year. Again, it was her blog and her writing that kept me around. Her writing is witty and clever and she never ceases to crack me up.

From Here to Eternity: Ah. What on Earth can I say to give justice to Jhen’s unparalleled blog? Her blog inspires me, mesmerizes me, and challenges me. She writes in a way that always makes me think and always stirs some sort of emotion: whether it is thoughtfulness, laughter or heavy-heartedness from her honest and open posts. She’s a definite must read.

The Mommyologist: Mary’s blog is witty and humorous and she always, always makes me smile. Her journey toward bringing Mom Sexy back has encouraged me and brought me back to a place of personal contentment that I haven’t been at in a long, long time.

How to Survive Life in the Suburbs: Another blog that leaves me rolling on the floor and keeps me focused on the humor in life. “Modern Mom” always reminds me that a) things could be worse and b) I am not alone in the chaos and insanity that is life.  

MckMama
: My guilty pleasure blog. While I adore the precious photos of her children and many of her posts, I’ll be honest when I say that the controversy that surrounds her blog fascinates me as much-if not more-than anything else. There are some blogs that you read and can’t really explain why…and this is one of those for me. Maybe that’s why they call them guilty pleasures? Either way…I read it.

Aspire: I discovered this blog via blog hopping. I don’t remember how I found her, I don’t remember what led me there, but I’ve been stuck ever since. Fascinated by the content and the beautiful photography, and the fact that the author is still in high school. Such a wise girl for such a young age…reminds me of myself (okay, I’m totally kidding on the latter of that comment).

Bring the Rain: I found Angie’s blog at the end of last year and her writing has inspired me ever since. Her openness toward hurt and pain, her honesty when things got tough, and the faith that she portrays brings tears to my eyes nearly every time I stop by.

A Sorta Fairytale: Another blog friend turned real friend. I was drawn to Mandy’s blog first by her photography, and then by her writing. Her precious baby boy Bennett and her honesty and positive outlook toward life make her easy to get to know and a fabulous read any day of the week.

Madeline Bea: Another blog that drew me in first by its photos and then by its content. Maegan has a beautiful spirit and her outlook on life leaves me in awe. She writes deeply and thoughtfully and always leaves me wanting to read and learn more from her positive outlook.

Make sure to head over and visit every one of these ladies. Look around, read what they have to offer and get to know them. Each one has something unique to bring to the table and I promise you’ll be glad you stopped by.

Here’s to one last day of 2010! Hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve! I’ll see you all next year!!

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December 30, 2010

Mom vs. Dad

I’ve talked to a lot of moms in the recent months about who works harder and puts forth the most effort and works the hardest in their parenting roles: the mom or the dad.
momvdad
I’m certain that if you ask any mother you meet, they will tell you (naturally) that they do. The mother will probably make sure to mention (especially the stay-at-home moms) that they are solely responsible for 99.9% of all meals, baths, and playtime activities. And if you really give them a chance to explore this question they are likely to tell you that they also pay all of the bills, handle the cleaning and cook most-if not all-of the meals.

Now turn around and ask the father in the equation who does the most work and he’s going to tell you that he does. Most likely, the father is the breadwinner (again, this applies to families in which the mother stays at home) or the sole provider financially. He’ll tell you that he gets up and goes to work every morning to make sure that mom and child(ren) are taken care of in the most important of ways. It’s his paycheck that keeps the food on the table and the electricity paid. It’s his work that brings in the income to support the habits of said children and mother as well as keeping clothes on everyone’s back. Surely it is he who provides the most and works the hardest for his family.

So where does that leave us? Does one parent really work anymore than another? Is one role more important than the other, or do they level out somewhere between being at home changing diapers and working a 9:00-5:00 to pay the bills?

My husband and I are readjusting to sharing the parental responsibilities now that he is back at home with our little family. And let me mention that the adjustment period has been fun, yet stressful, on all of us. It was a few nights ago when I was beyond my normal point of exhaustion that I became frustrated and tired of parenting. Don’t pretend that you haven’t been there at one point or another since you became a mom. Between the stress of the holidays, the anxiety of our impending cross-country move, and the newfound changes my husband and I have found within ourselves and our marriage, I was ready to lose it. The little guy was crying and whining because he wasn’t getting his way and he was way over due for a nap. My husband wasn’t really doing anything wrong, I was just annoyed…with everyone.

And for a few split seconds the thought crossed my mind that I was sick and tired of doing it all on my own. Our son needed a bath, my blog needed writing (and for some this may not seem important, but I do take my blog seriously and treat it almost as a business and not a hobby…more on that later), the bed needed new sheets, laundry was piling up…the list went on and I became angry with nearly everyone because I felt as though I was the only one doing anything. 

After I calmed down, the idea for this post sparked. Does one parent really work harder than the other? Is one role (stay-at-home OR working mom and working dad) more important than the other? I don’t think so. 

Having recently spent eight months of my life parenting a toddler on my own, I can safely say that YES my job is difficult. But, although I was doing all of the at home work, all of the disciplining, all of the teaching and nurturing and meal fixing, my husband was still the one bringing in the income. [Honestly, I don’t know how single working moms do it.] If I’d had to concern myself with getting up and going to work every single day to pay the bills, then I would have probably had a nervous breakdown. But does that really mean that mom works harder than dad?

Well, we are going to find out.

I need your opinions!! In your current situation, based solely on the parenting aspects of things who does the most work when it comes to taking care of your children? I’m conducting a little survey and I’ll be posting the results and my findings here on my blog on Tuesday, January 4, 2011. Let me know how you feel about the way things are done in your homes. Do you feel you should get most of the credit? Or do we need to cut dear ole dad some slack and give him some props as well. Leave me a comment, drop me a line {mrsckirkland@gmail.com}, however you want to contact me, but I want to hear from YOU!

Hope you all have a great Thursday!

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December 29, 2010

Top 10 of ‘10

I can not believe that 2010 is almost over. Where on EARTH has this year gone?! I never really anticipated that it would go by as quickly as it has, especially considering that my husband was gone for 75% of the year. Yet, here it is, December 29 and we are down to just a few short days until we ring in the new year. I already made my New Years Commitments so that is out of the way; now I am taking time to reflect on what I have accomplished, what I have learned and how far I’ve come in the last 12 months. In doing so, I wanted to share with you my Top 10 of 2010…my absolute favorite blog posts from the last year. Some of them weren’t necessarily huge hits on the comment front, but still my favorites.


Lesson’s Learned from Vegetables: One of my favorite posts on contentment and being satisfied with where we are in life because God has placed us there for a reason.

Can you deal?: A post addressing my feelings and frustrations toward people who seem to only want to drag others down.

Either/Or: My thoughts on being a mom and a blogger…and why I know that you can be successful at both.

Panera Bread Mac & Cheese Recipe: this post needs no description…easily the best Mac & Cheese. Ever.

Mommy Friendships: A post all about the importance of friendships formed between other women and how effective they can be in maintaining your sanity.

- 25 Before 25: My bucket list of sorts…things I want to accomplish before I hit the big 2-5 in two years. This list has been revised somewhat since I posted it originally, but I’ll update that later.

Happiness is…: A look at happiness from the simplest light. All of the small things that I enjoy the most that make my little world go around.

The One about the Children’s T-Shirt: This was one of my biggest posts of the year. The one where I rant and ramble about a grammatically incorrect shirt. Call me crazy, but there were dozens of others who agreed!

- Why I’m cut out for Life in Alaska: A humorous list of reasons sure to crack you up!

- Christianity and Social Media: Can we have both? Can we be Christians AND Social Media nutcases? I discuss it here…

What were some of your favorites from this year? Which posts did you enjoy the most? The least? What about on your own blog? I’d love to know which posts of your own you liked the best so I can check them out! Leave me a comment and let me know!

Hope you all have a great day!

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December 28, 2010

Preparing for “goodbye”

I hope that this post finds all of you having had a wonderful Christmas! We were busy all weekend and didn’t finish up all of our families Christmas festivities until last night; but we had a blast. Though Little Man’s new talking Buzz Lightyear was a huge success, he seemed more excited about the boatloads of M&M’s (num-n-num’s) that he received. We had a difficult time prying him away from the candy in his stocking to open his actual gifts. We had a great time. The husband did a very good job on the gift-giving this year; spoiling me with a new purse, new perfume, and tons of new (and warm!) clothes. We spent a lot of time with family and I took tons of photos. And although I haven’t had a chance to even touch the Christmas photos yet, here is a little tiny sneak peek of someone else I had the privilege of photographing Christmas Eve:

Ethan

We spent almost all day yesterday helping my mother-in-law take down the Christmas décor and attempting to pack some of our things up to prepare to take to Florida next week. It is UNREAL how much junk can be accumulated over just a few short months. Hubby brought back so much stuff from California that we have had to leave two full suitcases packed for lack of storage. And although I’ve already cleaned out closets and toys once these past few weeks, another trip to the Goodwill is looming.

Speaking of looming…we leave for Seattle a week from tomorrow. And although I am overjoyed and beyond excited for the next phase of our lives to commence, saying goodbye to all of our families, knowing that there is a very real possibility that we won’t see any of them for maybe four years is a tough pill to swallow. I’ve tried to push the thought out of my head for the past few weeks, but 8 days will pass quickly and then it’s farewell to the state of Alabama and hello unknown.

Again, the adventure, the excitement, the newness of the life that awaits us isn’t making me nervous at all. I’m an adventurous and spontaneous kind of gal anyway. Things like that don’t get me all frazzled and bent out of shape. Someone during the course of time I have managed to develop this mentality where change just intrigues me and excites me. I thrive off of the unknown and generally remain optimistic about such things. For example, the prime excitement I’m working with right now is all of the new photos I’ll get to take driving across country and all of the new writing material I’ll have to share on my blog. :-) But, saying goodbye to my family gets me a little bit choked up.

If we’d gone straight from Florida to Alaska with no stopping in between, it probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Most likely I could have said goodbye and gone on without much hesitation.  Not because I would miss them any less, but because we were already separated. We’d be accustomed to them not being around all of the time. But now I’ve been here 8 months (it’ll be a little over 9 months by the time we leave next week) and I’m used to having everyone here. So is Little Man. He’s used to his grandparents and his aunt and uncle being right here whenever we (okay…he) wanted to go visit. It’s definitely going to be hard on him to not get to go visit as often as we have been. He loves his grandparents and his family. The mom in me worries that we may not have made the best decision where that aspect of things is concerned.

But…I also know that we have made the best decision for our family as a whole-and when I say “our” family, I mean quite literally our family…Hubby, Little Man and me. The benefits heavily outweigh the negatives and I know that if Alaska wasn’t where God wanted us, then we wouldn’t be going. For those who don’t know how procedures go for the military, we don’t just pack up and go to wherever they send us, especially not Alaska (which is considered Outside of the Continental US). There are mountains of paperwork that has to be filled out and screenings that cover every single aspect of your life, from health and wellness to an in-depth analysis of your families finances. It’s not a simple process and there were ample amounts of things that could have gone wrong and not worked out for us. But so far, it all has. And I’m placing my faith in that knowledge that if it weren’t meant to be, it wouldn’t be.

So…for now, I’ll just keep on packing and hope that the coming week drags on as slowly as possible. I’ll take lots of photos and enjoy every last ounce of time we have left with our families. And I’ll continue to trust that there is a bigger plan and purpose and most definitely continue to get excited about the changes and the opportunities that await us in the last frontier.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

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December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

ChristmasCard



I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas!

I’ll be back on Monday! Enjoy your holidays!

December 23, 2010

New Beginnings

Whew. It is good to be back. The past week or so has been chaotic to say the least. My trip to San Francisco went fairly smooth, and the reunion with my husband was much greater than I anticipated. We are having to re-acclimate to one another again [which was suspected] but we are having a great time getting back into the swing of things. Little Man is loving having his daddy around again; and Christmas shopping has occupied most of our time the past day or two. So we are hanging in there…preparing for the holidays like everyone else. Hard to believe that it’s “the season” again! This year has flown.

Thanks so much to those of you who wrote Guest Posts for the me over the past few days! I hope you enjoyed writing them and seeing them printed here as much as I enjoyed sharing them with my readers! You guys took a lot of strain off of me, and I greatly appreciate it!

Anywho. That being said…

While I am aware of the fact that New Years is still another almost week and a half away, having the husband home with us again and the new phase in our lives beginning, I feel like it’s time to get some New Year’s commitments off of my chest and out in public. And I say commitments because when I use the word “resolution” I feel like I never quite stick to them; and there are a few things that I really want to see myself accomplish over the coming year. If some of these seem vague, I apologize. I have a lot of ideas and plans swirling around in my head right  now, but I’m not quite ready to reveal all here just yet. Some of these things I haven’t even talked to my husband about [simply because we haven’t gotten around to it yet…] and I want his opinion and insight before I share. :-)

1.  Make the move. 
And I don’t mean our move to Alaska {although, successfully completing that is a top priority for the first few months of the coming year}. I will be making the switch to Wordpress in the coming months. I have already picked out a designer (who I will not reveal at this time) and am in the process of brainstorming some new ideas for the big switch. There will be a major overhaul and change to my blog, but this is something that has been heavy on my mind and heart for many, many months and I feel that right now is the time to start the transition. This is one of those things I mentioned that I would go into detail more about later, but for now, just know that the “change” is coming, and if things go as I hope, it will be coming soon.

2.  Upgrade.
My camera, that is. I would adore the Canon 5D Mark ii, but I’m not sure the husband is going to want to shell out nearly three grand just yet on a camera. Instead, I’m planning to upgrade to the Canon 50D or the 60D within the coming months. Unless of course, ahem, my beloved husband just chooses to bypass the 50/60 and go straight to the Mark. Which, I would not mind in the slightest. Hehe…

3.  Finish what I started.
I’m going back to school. I probably won’t technically finish my degree considering it’s been so long since I took classes and several of my credits won’t transfer, but I am getting back in the classroom-hopefully in February. The where and the ‘for what’ isn’t in stone yet, so I can’t provide much more information than that just yet. But I am headstrong and determined to go back to school.

4.  Set up shop.
While I have the fullest of intentions pursuing photography as a part-time career, I am still not 100% sure that it is what I’m meant to do full time, especially when it comes to portraiture. The local photographer in Kodiak is phenomenal and I have no desire at all to compete or try to start up a business knowing that we may only be in the area for a couple of years. The weather in Kodiak doesn’t permit a lot of outdoor/natural light photography and there is no way that I could afford a studio. Instead, I’m hoping to get to know her [her husband is also a fellow Coastie] and cross my fingers that maybe she can teach me a few things. Instead, I really want to focus on my Etsy shop and my print work. There should be ample opportunities for photos in Alaska, and I hope to capture some worth generating revenue.

I’m sure I could {and will} conjure up a few more things to add to my New Year’s “to-dos” but for now, this will have to suffice. Like I said be on the look out in the coming weeks for more details on a few of these. Getting ready to go finish up my Christmas shopping…down to the last three gifts and a few final stocking stuffers for the husband. And then I’m done. I think…

Hope you guys have a GREAT day!

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December 22, 2010

How to Stay Motivated as a SAHM-Guest Post, Part II

I’m welcoming Mandi back again today for Part Two of her Tips for Mama Motivation! If you didn’t read her post yesterday, make sure you do! And check out her blog for an in-depth post on each of the topics she’s written about below!

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If you didn't read Part 1 then go do that now. I'll wait for you! For everyone else, welcome back! Let's jump right into things.


5. Exercise. (Insert groan here.) I don't know about you but I get really tired of hearing how important exercise is! However, if I'm going to be honest with these tips then I must include it. I won't tell you about all of the benefits exercise gives you. You've likely heard it a few hundred times already. It is very hard to find time for exercising when you are a stay-at-home mom. A lot of my working mom friends have the luxury of going to the gym before or after work. I, on the other hand, have to get up with my husband's schedule so that he can be home with our daughter for me to go to the gym. For a long time the only exercise I could get was to walk my neighborhood pushing my daughter in the stroller. You may not be able to get to a gym but you can go for a walk everyday. If it's too cold or hot outside then use a workout video. (Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred is a killer!) Regardless of what type of exercise you "enjoy" the point is to do something consistently. Exercise makes you feel good and gives you energy. Both of which help you stay motivated to do other things during the day.


6. Get it on with your husband! This is a tip we all don't mind implementing right? You may be wondering what sex has to do with being a motivated stay-at-home mom. Well, good lovin' has EVERYTHING to do with it! You may have heard this before but the average man needs to have sex once every couple of days. However, did you know that women need it too? When I go too long without some hot steamy you know what, I get really snippy with my husband and even with my daughter. I get stressed out more easily. I don't have as much energy and I feel tense. Problems in the bedroom can indicate problems in your marriage. The state of your marriage can greatly impact your motivation as a stay-at-home mom. See how it works? So make a "date" tonight!


7. Unplug for two hours everyday. I love the digital era we live in! It allows me to share my thoughts with the world (blog), connect with long lost friends (Facebook), network with people I don't know (twitter) and provides a wealth of knowledge at the click of a mouse (Google and Wikipedia). The best part? I can do all of these things from my phone! But if I don't watch myself I can easily spend all day wasting time on the internet. If you are having a difficult time keeping up with your housework or finding time to spend with your kids (or doing both) then unplug from the world for two hours each day. You will be surprised by how much you can get done. Turn off the computer, turn your phone on silent and unplug the television. For two hours (preferably during your child's nap time) focus only on getting things done around the house. I promise you will see a huge leap in your productivity!


8. Spend time with your kids. If you are a stay-at-home mom then you are already spending time with your kids right? Not always. There is a difference between being at home with your kids and spending time with them. There will always be work to do around the house and errands to run. Stop for a little bit everyday and play with your kids. Have a tea party, walk to the park, play football in the backyard. You love your kids and your kids love you. Spending time with them will help you remember why you have chosen to stay home. When your kids are grown and gone do you want them to remember how clean the house always was or how much the loved being with you?


9. Get out of the house. Nothing is more depressing than being cooped up in the house for long periods of time. Seeing the sun and breathing fresh air re-charges your motivational batteries. Even more important than simply getting outside is to have time for yourself. Let your husband watch the kids, hire a baby-sitter or send them to grandma's for a couple of hours. Get out of the house by yourself regularly. Enough with the mom guilt too! Your kids will be fine and you will be a much better mom and homemaker for it!


10. Rely on God. I shared a story on my blog of when I realized I couldn't be a good enough mom on my own. You can read it here. If we aren't good enough people on our own then why do we think we can be good enough mothers on our own? If we had the ability to be perfect mothers then we would also have the ability to be perfect humans. Christ came because we aren't perfect and we can't ever be perfect by ourselves. The bad news is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot be a good enough mom. The good news is that Christ has come to redeem the human race in all aspects of life... including motherhood. If you belong to Jesus, if you have believed in his work on the cross to save you from your sins and make your righteous by His merit alone, then believe the same as a mom. You can't do it on your own but God will do it through you when you allow Him to have control.


I don't know what your views are. All I know is that without God I simply could not do it all. The great thing is that He doesn't expect me to. I can give you all the advice in the world about being a stay-at-home mom but none of it matters if you aren't depending on God. Regardless, I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. Being a stay-at-home mom is tough work. Even though you may struggle from time to time, you are making a huge difference in your family!


Please feel free to email me, mandi (at) mandimillerblog (dot) com with any questions and visit my blog My Bloggy Life!

Thank you Courtney for letting me guest post!!

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December 21, 2010

Dear Anne Frank…{A Guest Post}

Today Stephanie from Smarten Up has written an great post about Anne Frank. The quote from the book she uses here grabbed my attention from the beginning and I am thrilled to share it with you here!



If you took a poll with some  average Joe's they would probably say she was famous for her diary.  Fair enough, most have read the book published Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, or seen the movie The Diary of Anne Frank. I have to admit, from what I can remember, I have neither seen nor read any of these Anne Frank jewels.  I thought this was a requirement for school, but maybe it’s not, or maybe I just slipped through the cracks the same way I did because I have never dissected anything, not even a frog.  With all this said,  I am pretty sure I never had the opportunity to learn about Anne Frank formally, but I think this is a worthy enough cause for learning (for the first time).

The basics of Anne Frank are that she was a Jewish girl growing up in the Holocaust days.  Anne, along with her family lived for 2 years in hidden rooms within her father’s office building, hiding from the Nazi’s. They were eventually found and sent off to concentration camps where Anne eventually died at age 15.  Anne kept a diary from ages 13-15 which was found and published by a family member a couple of years after Anne’s death.
I have yet to read the book but plan to soon. I did catch an interesting entry from the book which I found to be so awesome and inspiring.

I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! … I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?

If you enjoy writing, how could you read that and not get chills?  Anne knew she could write, but was unsure of her talent.  If only I could speak with Anne today. I would tell her that she was talented well beyond her years. I would tell her that writing has inspired me, along with many other women (and men) and will for years to come.  How awesome was it that she aspired to write a book but would settle for just writing for herself if she has to? Well, Anne Frank, you have gone on living even after your death. You have written a book, a very successful book.  You have brought enjoyment to people you never met. You have written something great and you are a writer.

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December 20, 2010

How to Stay Motivated as a SAHM-Guest Post

Today’s Guest Blogger really needs no introduction. She’s posted here a few times in the past and I’ve photographed her beautiful family on more than one occasion. She is my bloggy and real-life dear friend Mandi from My Bloggy Life. Mandi is a beautiful woman inside and out who’s writing always makes me smile or makes me think. She’s a wonderful writer and has been a dear, dear friend to me over the months. You simply HAVE to check her out. A few weeks ago she wrote a series on how to survive the slump we can find ourselves in as a stay-at-home mom. She did a really in-depth series, but she was kind enough to combine her series in to a shorter two part compilation for my blog. Make sure to read her whole series!

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Let's face it. Being a stay at home is hard work. To say life for me these last few months have been hectic would be an understatement. Now that my daughter is two and we have truly settled into a routine, I find myself busy from sunrise to sunset. Most days I can't even remember to eat breakfast!


But...


It took a while after my daughter was born to figure out my routine. I often found myself in my pajamas until five minutes before my husband came home. There is nothing wrong with that when your baby is a newborn or a tiny infant but six, seven or even ten months old? You can't justify it after a certain point. With a job comes a boss, deadlines, firm expectations, a schedule, performance reviews and the realization you can get fired if you aren't good enough . We don't have any of these restrictions as stay-at-home moms. It's a freedom I enjoy immensely but there is a down side. You have to be your own boss. You have to be self-disciplined enough to stay on top of everything. When things don't get done you have no one to blame. Honestly, until you get settled into a routine, it can be hard to even want to put on real clothes, clean the house and have dinner on the table at a decent time.


So how do you stay motivated to get everything done? I'm so glad you asked! The following tips are a more condensed version of a series on my own blog recently. You can find all of these tips written more in depth by clicking this link.


1. Get dressed every morning. If you stay in your pajamas all day you will only be ready to sleep. That's what pajamas are for! Most people who work from home will tell you getting dressed for "work" helps them to focus more. It's the same for stay-at-home moms. You don't have to dress "nice" like you would for the office. Jeans and a t-shirt will help you be more prepared for your day. In fact you can get dressed in a mere 15 minutes!


- Lay out your clothes the night before. Remember, nothing fancy... as long as you aren't wearing pajamas.
- Get ready while it's still morning. Do not wait until the afternoon.
- Make time for personal hygiene... brush your teeth, wash your face, put on deodorant. (3 min.)
- Brush or fix your hair. (3 min.)
- Put on your make-up. (5 min.)
- Put on your clothes. (1-4 min.)


2. Get enough sleep. This tip is mainly for you moms with babies sleeping through the night. However, if your baby hasn't reached the holy grail just yet you aren't completely off the hook! Make time to nap during the day for yourself. Do not feel guilty about this. You will get much more done when you are well rested.
If your baby is sleeping through the night then go to bed at a decent time. It doesn't take long for us to forget about the times we would have given our left arm for eight straight hours of sleep. If you aren't getting enough sleep you will be too tired during the day to get anything done. You cannot be motivated when you are exhausted. Here are a few tips:


- Start your bed time routine one hour before you want to be asleep. (Wash face, brush teeth, etc.)
- Get into bed thirty minutes before you want to be asleep. Read or talk to your husband but do not get on the computer or turn on the television. Spend no more than 30 minutes reading or talking and then go to sleep.
- Try to get at least seven hours of sleep but don't feel lazy if you need more. (I need nine hours to feel human).



3. Keep a flexible schedule. Schedules help you to be realistic about everything you can accomplish in one day. Sometimes we have too much planned in our heads and then get discouraged when all of it doesn't get done. If you write down a to-do list or create a basic schedule you will be able to prioritize your day better. The key word however is "flexible". Whenever you add kids to the mix everything will always be somewhat unpredictable. Don't get bent out of shape if things don't go the way you planned. Start your schedule by recording the events you know for sure will happen, i.e., meal times, nap times, appointments. Then pencil in the rest like specific household chores, errands or grocery shopping. Keep your schedule in a place you will notice it often otherwise it will be easily forgotten.


4. Prioritize. I became a stay-at-home mom to be with my daughter and I'm sure being home with your children was the main reason for you as well. So obviously our children are top priority. This should go without being said. But what about everything else? Should you wash the towels before the whites? Do you clean the bathroom or the bedroom. How should your day be prioritized? The best advice I can give you for this is to have a conversation with your husband. The first six months as a stay-at-home mom I drove myself crazy trying to do everything. I thought I was expected to have the house clean, cook gourmet (or almost gourmet) meals every night, keep all of the laundry done and never have a dirty dish in the sink. I finally broke down in tears and blamed my husband for putting too high of a standard on me. He kindly let me know that he never expected me to do all of these things. I was expecting too much from myself. All he wanted was clean underwear, a clean towel in the morning, our living room to be picked up and sweet tea in the fridge. So now I do these things first and then work on everything else. Find out from your husband what he wants you to do at home. His answer might surprise you!


Join me Wednesday for Part Two!

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December 18, 2010

Contending for a Breakthrough (Guest Post)

Today my bloggy friend Barbie has written a beautiful and heartfelt post for you guys. When she emailed it to me, I knew that I had to share it because I can completely identify [and know that many of you will as well] with the words she has written. You find her personal blog, My Freshly Brewed Life, right here. Go check her out and tell her how awesome she is!

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I have been praying for breakthrough in a few areas of my life. I have to say, I haven't been diligent to pray and contend on a daily basis and have had to ask myself, "How bad do I want the breakthrough?" Sometimes it's hard to continue to fight for something when there appears to be an invisible wall towering in front of me that appears immoveable. Climbing is exhausting. You need a lot of strength! But then again, I have to remind myself that I serve a God who promised me that He would move those things in front of me if I asked Him to. Over the years as I have contended for breakthrough in various areas of my life, I would always picture myself trying to scale a very large wall. It took a lot of work and perseverance to finally reach the other side of the wall, but I did it.

However, at this time in my life, I am not content to take the journey of climbing the wall. If God asked me to climb, I would climb, knowing that there would be a greater lesson learned from my perseverance. However, these days, I want to "go through the wall", to press through with such faith and force that the very wall in front of me crumbles before my eyes. I believe God has given me the ability to immediately "breakthrough" whatever barrier is standing in front of me. That takes a lot of faith! How do I continue to contend when my faith is tested? Here are a few of the steps I am taking to receive my breakthrough:

1.  ACKNOWLEDGE - What am I contending for? This has to be clear. What is the name of this great wall that stands before me? I must know what I am up against. And at the same time, I must know that my God is greater.

2.  BELIEVE that I have already received the breakthrough in Jesus. Christ has already paid the ultimate price for my breakthrough on the cross. I simply must begin to pull on heaven to bring that into reality in my life here on earth. I must be diligent in calling forth those things that aren't, as though they are.

3.  ASK for the wall to be removed. This is not always an easy one. You would think that when faced with a wall in front of me that I would immediately ask God to allow me to breakthrough. But sometimes, I have held onto the wall as a means of protection from something which might be lurking on the other side -- fear of the unknown, something from my past, a new challenge, etc. I have even been known to camp at the base of the wall, all the while desiring for it to be moved. However, until I am able to ask, and truly have a desire for the wall to come down, there it will stay. Asking is the first step. God has promised to come and give me the strength, courage and ability to face what is on the other side.

4.  PERSEVERE - don't give up! I think of breakthrough as immediate, and although in and of itself it is an immediate action, the steps to breakthrough are not always so immediate. Joyce Meyer once said, "God is the God of sudden lies," but sometimes waiting for the suddenly can take a while. So in the process of the waiting, I cannot give up. I refuse to give up and stop short when my sudden breakthrough could just be seconds away. What would happen if I gave up one second short of my miracle?

So there you have it -- Acknowledge, Believe, Ask and Persevere! My breakthrough moment is on the horizon. Until them, I choose to believe and have faith. God's timing is perfect and I will trust Him!

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December 17, 2010

An Experience Worth Having-Guest Post

Today, my lovely friend Kristin from Purposeful Homemaker has written a beautiful, beautiful post for you today. When she contacted me about submitting a guest post, she sent three links to her favorite writings. I’ll admit, choosing which one I liked the best was nearly impossible. I strongly encourage you to head over to her blog and browse. She  has a heart for Christ like I have never seen before and her writing speaks volumes.


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I used to think that my devotion to my Heavenly Father came out of doing all of the right things like reading the Bible, and serving others, and being an example of His love.  The problem was that there were just too many times when reading my Bible seemed more like a difficult chore than pleasure and doing all the right things was overwhelming.  I could write for you a long list all of the things that I wasn't doing right, and wanted to change. Yet, no matter how hard I tried I could not make myself change.  I spent years where my emotions were controlled by how my children were behaving, how much money we had in the bank and if I felt like I was doing the "right things."  That usually meant that I was irritable, easily frustrated and had very little patience.  Everything else was controlling me. I felt like I had no control, even when I was trying to control everything.  I had no idea how to stop this cycle or change anything. 

Let me tell you a little bit about what has happened for me and then I'll tell you how I got here.  I have been amazed at the amount of patience I have had with my children lately.  It is like it flows out of me without even having to try.  I feel it in my insides; like a presence that oozes out of every pore.  Peace walks with me.  I have  moments where joy overwhelms me and I feel like a little girl who wants to spin and twirl with glee. Wisdom has become my friend. Sometimes, when I open my mouth to speak, I cannot close it because I am shocked at the wise words that have just come out of it. Frustrations with my children (that once seemed like mountains) are disappearing because of the wisdom and insight that shines truth on that area.  My heart, that always wanted to be right and never make a mistake, is melting and allowing the freedom to just be me-imperfections and all.

I know it all sounds like a dream, and in some ways I feel like it is a strange high that I will eventually come down from. But I know that this is how we are meant to live.  When Jesus told us that He wants us to give us abundant life (John 10:10) I believe that this is what He was talking about.  It is walking in His freedom with His Spirit and His truth that allows us to live a life that overcomes in every area.  It doesn't matter what the circumstances are.  Circumstances are subject to Christ and not He to them.  It does not mean that difficulties don't come your way, but the way you walk through them changes.

So what does it take? 

The good news is that even before we get anything right, God pursues us.  He pursues us with His love.  He doesn't pursue us with demands to change, but rather with love that changes us.  You cannot help but be changed when you experience His love.  God speaks to us all of the time and everything He tells us is filtered through love.  He is Love.  I didn't fall in love with Him because I read the Bible one day.  I fell in love with Him because I got a glimpse of His love for me.  His love overcomes everything that overwhelms me and becomes what overwhelms me.  Out of His love flows life and change and all that I am and am meant to be. It is out of the knowledge of His love that my heart longs for His Word and devours it as if it were the very thing that keeps me alive.

Ephesians 3:18-19 says, “

And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

You must experience it, then you will be filled with the "fullness of life and power that comes from God." 

I believe that is what has been happening in me lately.  I am spending time with God and seeking to understand His love for me.  Experiencing it doesn't just mean thinking about it and wondering about it, but rather asking Him to show me what He thinks of me and how He loves me. He meets with me and speaks His love to my heart.  He is opening the eyes of my heart to see how wide, long, high and deep His love is for me and it is changing me in ways I never dreamed of.  I think the thing that amazes me the most is that I am not struggling to do it or to become anything.  It is just happening. 

Knowing God's love for me helps me to love you more too.  I pray that God will show you how dear you are to His heart.  Why don't you ask Him to show you how much He loves you? Experience it!

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December 16, 2010

Play by Play

10:30 AM-Montgomery Regional Airport:

So….I thought, just because I am at a total lack of creativity on what to post and want to post something while I’m traveling, that I would give you guys a little insight into what’s going on around me as I’m on the move. Right now, I’m in Montgomery waiting on the call to board our plane. When I checked in, they told me it was delayed 20-30 minutes due to the sudden frozen precipitation that has decided to make its appearance today {of all days.} Everyone sitting around me is on a laptop or a smart phone. I guess we can’t function without technology these days. Wi-fi is everywhere and today, because I’m bored, I am grateful. I can’t wait to get to San Francisco. I’m dying to be back with my husband. Six months of separation is a long time. And I miss him like crazy. As I speak, I’m watching four soldiers step off of the plane that’s unloading across from me right now. All of them are being greeted by their families and I’m a little misty eyed watching them be reunited. I can’t imagine spending 12 or 18 months away from my husband. It’s a huge sacrifice that our military and their family members make. Okay. Well. I guess this is all for the installment at MGM [the airport…not the Universal Studios MGM…though that would be fun…] I’m off to visit the on-ground restroom. Bathroom lavatories kind of freak me out. Hope that wasn’t too much information. Oh and by the way…can I mention also that my flight is PACKED? Joy. Hope my claustrophobia doesn’t kick in.

5:55 PM {Central Time}- Somewhere over Utah:

I had intentions of writing a little bit while I was in Atlanta, but the gate got switched at the last minute and then they told us they were going to start boarding early..which they didn’t. So we all kind of stood around with our bags and waited. The flight from Montgomery to Atlanta was bumpy…and crowded. Thankfully it was only about a 30 minute ride or I would have had an issue. Way too many people for my liking. As for the trip so far up here in the giant 767, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. With the exception of a patch of rough head wind we ran into about 30 minutes ago while we were flying over Colorado that forced the seatbelt sign back on and the tray tables to be locked. I attempted a short nap when we first took off but every time I would doze a little bit, I would hit my head. Plus, I have this subconscious fear and paranoia about sleeping in public. Don’t ask why. Maybe it’s just because I’m sitting next to someone I don’t know. She’s a sweet little old lady though. Heading to San Fran on vacation by herself. She’s from Huntsville and she’s a huge Sydney Sheldon fan. She’s almost read an entire novel on this flight and has two more in her carry on for the trip back and to read while she’s vacationing.

As for me, I’m just enjoying the view [when there is one seeing as how to clouds are extremely thick]. I am amazed and how many colors the sky can turn. Random? Yes, I know. But I’ve seen brown clouds today, gray ones, purple ones, and some of the bluest skies ever. Beautiful from this angle. Really, really beautiful. Anywho. I’m about to enjoy the free wi-fi for the remainder of this trip. They are about to bring the beverage trolley around again before we start our descent in another hour or so. Next post will be from San Francisco! And I’ll be back with my husband! Here’s to safe travel for the remainder of this phase of my trip.

Thursday 5:17 Pm: Petaluma, California:

Well, I made it. Safe and sound and in one piece. Hubby and his buddy CJ picked me up at the airport; they were waiting for me in baggage claim. We crossed the Golden Gate bridge last night, and let me just say that it doesn’t seem as big as it is on TV. Oh well. Still a cool experience. I only saw San Francisco from the air and the little bit that I saw while we were on the way back to the base, but we plan to explore it heavily tomorrow. We are taking a Red Eye back to Atlanta tomorrow evening, so we’ll have all afternoon to be tourists. I’m really excited. As for the reuniting with my husband, let’s just say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more. I forgot how much I missed him. Okay, well I didn’t really forget, but the feelings of missing him were made stronger when we got back together. Man, I love that guy. Anywho. Graduation is tomorrow, so we’re going out to eat tonight and then packing our stuff up to head out right after. The official arrival date to Kodiak has been set. We have to be there on January 17, so that will put us saying farewell to Alabama on around the 6th or so. Still not 100% on the actual date we will leave, but I’m excited. Ready for the next phase of our journey to begin.

Thanks so much for all of your prayers and encouragement and support the se last 8 months. You guys have really made my time away from my husband easier. You’ve listened when I needed someone to talk to and you have offered tons and tons of support. And I greatly appreciate it. Some of you have become the dearest of friends and I love you all to pieces! As for me, right now I’m off to go eat supper with my husband. I hope you all have a great Thursday evening and make sure to check out the blog tomorrow for another guest post!

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December 15, 2010

A Broken Bulb (Guest Post!)

By the time you start reading this post, I will be on an airplane somewhere in this great big United States on my way to California to bring my husband HOME! Several weeks ago I asked for a few volunteers to Guest Blog for me while I was gone to Cali and for the few days immediately following our return to Alabama. The response was overwhelming, but I lined up a great group of ladies to entertain you while I’m away!

Today, Kimberly from All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something [whew! It’s a mouthful but her blog is fabulous!] has a great post about the Spirit of Christmas and how important the tiny things are. This post made me smile simply because I can identify with her Christmas Tree description…but you’ll just have to read on to understand why!

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My Christmas tree has no color scheme or a particular theme and isn't worthy enough to grace the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that my Christmas tree isn't cool enough to be chopped down and used as paper for a Martha Stewart magazine. Sure my tree lacks in style but it's huge on memories.
 
The best way to describe my tree is with this simple statement:
 
It's a diarrhea of nostalgia.
 
Hanging from the branches, is an eclectic array of ornaments. Each one carrying with them stories of Christmases passed that are fond, hilarious, and sometimes sad. Those memories burst to life every December 1st when we put up our tree.
 
One of my favorite memories comes from a little red bulb with my name shoddily painted on it.
 
Growing up, Christmas in our home was a big event. My Mom, the craft whiz of the century, took to decorating our home from top to bottom. Every single room had a tree including the bathroom. I kid you not. You need to pee? It was the jolliest pee you'd ever take. It was like we lived in a department store for the holidays. Seeing her transform our home into a mini North Pole produced an excitement so intense that us kids actually played nicely together. You know, cause Santa's watching more intently now that the decorations were up.
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One of those days we were playing under the tree because when you're a child you gravitate to things that are breakable. When all of a sudden the tree started to tilt. My sister and I jumped from under the tree and watched in horror as the tree hit the floor. My mom came rushing in and caught a glimpse of the glitter and glass massacre. Her mouth open but no words came out.
 
We knew we were in deep trouble.
 
All she did was point to our rooms and we scurried off while blocking our butts with our hands out of fear of a spanking. But she never did. We both sat in our rooms crying and we could hear our Mom crying too.
 
When she was done cleaning the glass, she let us out of our room. We apologized profusely and made her pinky swear she wouldn't tell Santa. We had started to help her rehang the ornaments that were spared when my sister grabbed her "Baby's First Christmas" glass bulb. She proudly hung it on the tree then looked at me and said "Where's yours?"
 
Mine broke.
 
That bulb was exactly the same age as I was, 7. Every year, that was the bulb that I put on the tree. That bulb? Totally devastated me.
 
My heart was broken.
 
Every time I walked past the tree, I would get sad as I thought about my bulb. My Mom would lovingly reassure me that it was just a bulb and I remember being so angry with her because she just didn't get it. It was my bulb. MINE.
 
When Christmas came, we all huddled around the base of the tree gorging our way through wrapped presents to find our names. As I was about to open the largest gift I got, my Mom tapped me on the shoulder and told me to look up. There, right in the center of our tree, was my ornament.
 
"Santa knew you wanted this"
 
It wasn't the same ornament. The letters of my name were painted from a shaky hand and the snowflakes were not nearly as dainty as the original but it made me smile.
 
When I spent my first Christmas with my husband, we purchased our first tree. My mom came over and dropped off a little package. In it, my red bulb.
 
My mom said "Santa knew you wanted this for your new tree." and we both laughed.
 
When I see it hanging there, it reminds me of my Mom. It reminds me of her patience, of her forgiveness, and of her tender ways of mending my broken heart. It reminds me of her love that is always unconditional no matter how big of a mistake I make. 
 
My mom? She rocks.

 
Thank you so much Courtney for giving me this great opportunity!!!

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Make sure you come back every day this week for more really wonderful Guest Posts! And be sure to visit each of them and let them know how cool you think they are!

Happy Wednesday!

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December 14, 2010

Success Envy

I generally respond to the emails I’m sent pertaining to my blog in private. Usually a simple one-on-one correspondence goes down and that is that. However, I received an email after my post Saturday on how proud I was of my husband for successfully completing A-School that I thought I would share. I already contacted the lady who wrote me and made sure that it was okay to anonymously share what she wrote and answer her letter here. So that’s what I’m going to do.  :-)

Dear Courtney,

I read your post entitled “HS” yesterday. And while I can completely understand how excited you must be for your husband to have accomplished something so prominent, there is one thing that I must know. How are you handling his success while dealing with your own un-success? I don’t mean that to sound rude or condescending by any means so please don’t take it that way. I too am a stay-at-home mom and my husband is in business. As happy as I am for him we he receives a promotion, etc. I find it difficult to swallow sometimes because I feel like I am going no where in my own life. I have things I want to accomplish, too, and it’s hard to feel joy for my husband when I feel as if I am doing nothing. You always seem to have such a bright outlook on things, so I was curious as to how to you do it. Love your blog!! Thanks! -J

Alright. I admit that when I first read this I was somewhat…baffled by the bluntness of it. I mean the whole un-success part was a little bit difficult to read past. :-) However, after contemplating this email for several hours {I even got out my blog notebook and wrote down some thoughts on the topic} I finally reached a mindset to which I felt I could accurately answer this question. And the reason I’m choosing to answer this question here is because not only do I completely understand what “J” is saying in her email and what she means by it, but I am about 99.98% sure that there are many of you stay-at-home-moms out there who have felt or are feeling the same way. And I wanted to address my response for everyone. Just in case, you know, you were curious. Haha.

I can honestly say, wholeheartedly, that YES! I have spent countless hours [especially these last eight months] being jealous and/or envious of the fact that my husband was in school pursuing something he loves. I have been angry over it, frustrated by it and upset about it at many different points in this journey. Jealous because he is moving forward and, like “J,” I feel sometimes like I’m stuck in the same place. I’ve been jealous [many, many times over] because he was able to spend his Friday and Saturday nights out eating and going to movies while I was home (alone) watching movies or wasting away on the computer. And as shameful as it is for me to admit that, it’s the truth. Because I’m human. I dropped out of college nearly three years ago to get married, and there are days that I wish I had gone about that differently. {And by differently I mean that I wish I would have transferred immediately to another school rather than just dropping out. Not differently in the sense that I wish I wouldn’t have gotten married or anything like that.}

But then, when I start to feel that way, God always brings me back to this:

Snow 049


He brings me back to this little face. To this smile. To these great big blue eyes. To the little hands to grasp mine in hopes of never having to feel scared or worried or pain. And that is all that it takes.

Growing up, all I ever wanted was to be a wife to a good man {check!} and be a mother to healthy, beautiful children {check, check!} I never had dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything like that. Every career path I have ever explored was one in which I could be a mom. Not just any mom. I wanted to be {and still do, of course} the June Clever type mom. I want to be there for my son. I want to be there for my husband. I want to see them succeed in absolutely everything they set their minds to. Would I like a career? A job that fulfills me? Absolutely. And I will have one. But, for now, this is my job. Being a mom to our son is the most important job I can have right now.

On the nights that I would get upset and frustrated because Hubby was enjoying an extended break from parental duties {these were usually the nights in which I had had a very long day with our son}, I had to remind myself of why Hubby was doing what he was doing. And why I was doing what I was doing. I opted out of getting a job here at home. I could have gotten one if I’d wanted to. But I chose not to because I wanted to be here for my son. His daddy was already gone and he is accustomed to having mom around all day every day, so throwing another adjustment hurdle toward him wasn’t in his best interest. And let me tell you, he has thrived more than we ever thought he would with Hubby being gone. He has adjusted better than we ever expected. And I give credit to him having his mother around when his dad was gone. Having a steady parental figure around.

And I was constantly reminded of why my husband was doing what he was doing. Yes, being an HS is a step toward achieving his ultimate goal of becoming a Surgical PA; but becoming an HS has its own set of benefits for our family, especially financially. Hubby is working hard to set our family on the path toward achieving all that we want to achieve. He’s in school to help get me back in school to finish my degree. He’s in school to help me achieve my dreams and my goals and my ambitions. His time in A-School isn’t solely about just him. Marriage is two sided, remember? And while there are times that it has felt like everything was about what he had going on, it never took me long to remember that in the long run, school has nothing to do with him at all. It’s about us. About our family.

And even those reminders weren’t always enough. The really tough days where Little Man whined or cried non-stop, the days where I felt like I couldn’t take being away from my husband for just one more second, the days where I wanted to throw things and scream because I was sick and tired of being separated from my husband and not having our family together, I always felt God’s voice. Always felt his hands on me reminding me that he doesn’t give me more than I can handle. Reminding me that he does have a plan for me and that whether I realize it or not, the steps that are being taken now are being taken so that I can be where he wants me to be. And finally, he always reminded me of the passage in 1 Corinthians…Love does not envy. {13:4} True love isn’t envious of its partner. And being envious of my husband and his success was and is wrong.

As frustrating as it gets sometimes, seeing my husband happy and excited over what he has done; seeing the accomplishments and knowing what obstacles he has overcome to get to where he is…they make everything else seem juvenile and petty. I married a man that I am proud of. Proud of all that he has achieved. All that he will achieve over the years. Marriage is a give and take journey. I’ve given for him just as he has given for me. We have a mutual respect for one another’s dreams and ambitions. There will be more school in the future for him. More tests to pass, more graduations to attend. And there will be similar things in my future when the time comes. And just like I’ll be sitting there cheering and clapping as my husband walks across that graduation stage next week, I know he’ll be doing the same thing when I accomplish the things that I have set out to accomplish.

J, I hope that answers your question. I hope you realize that you aren’t alone in feeling jealous of your husband. Being a stay-at-home mom is a strenuous job. It can be extremely taxing and mentally exhausting. But just remember that you are doing something worthwhile. You are influencing and impacting the lives of your children in every single way! Enjoy the time you have with them! I guarantee you there are working moms out there who would kill for the chance to spend all day at home with their kids.

Happy Tuesday, all! I’m off to finish packing my bags so I can head across country!

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December 13, 2010

Why women love “Twilight”

Unless you were born yesterday, you know what Twilight is. The series of Vampire novels written by Stephenie Meyer that have taken this entire country by storm. Teenage girls swoon at the thought of kissing a vampire and grown women {myself included} stand outside of theatres at midnight to watch the new film release; all while leaving the men in their lives baffled. What is it about this story that has women everywhere so transfixed?

For the teenage girls, it may be nothing more than the wide array of attractive guys that play the lead roles [Robert Pattinson as Vampire  Edward Cullen and Taylor Lautner as Werewolf Jacob Black].  But for a story to effect grown women the way that this one has, there must be something else that gets to them. Something that tugs at our heartstrings and sucks us into Meyer’s world. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and I’ve drawn two conclusions. What keeps us coming back for more and transfixed with this story is the desire for someone to fight for us the way that Edward and Jacob fight for Bella and the desire to be desired.

These two things seem simple. But for anyone who has been in a relationship for an extended amount of time-especially those of us who are married and have added children to the mix-you know that it is easy for romance to dwindle and passion to fade. And I think that these books, these story’s fill that void we feel within our own relationships. First and foremost let me say this: I strongly believe that these voids or whatever you may call them should be identified and discussed with your husband/fiancé/boyfriend. Maintaining the “spark” in a relationship is hard work…but it’s something that each couple should work on within the walls of their own relationship. But I do believe that there are things that all women desire that are found in these books. And, as with any good and well written book, we are able to see our passions and desire played out in other characters in these stories. That being said…ahem.

First, I feel that it’s the desire to be fought for that reels us in. Twilight is not the first book that has used this plot. William Shakespeare beat Stephenie Meyer to the bunch ages ago when he wrote Romeo & Juliet. It’s the same concept. A forbidden love, star crossed lovers who seem heck-bent on fighting fate to be with one another…and that speaks to women as much now as Shakespeare did back then. Women aren’t complicated. Okay…let me rephrase that. Women aren’t as complicated as men make us out to be. We long for someone to love us. Period. We want to be cherished. To be appreciated for all that we are and all that we do. We want someone to be on our side…to pull for us when no one else will, to fight for us when no one else will. And that’s the method Meyer used to capture her older generation. This ordinary girl, Bella, has found this passionate sexy vampire who spends every ounce of his time fighting for her in some way. Fighting against himself not to kill her, fighting against others who are trying to harm her, fighting against his own desires to be with her in order to give her a chance at a normal existence, fighting to get her to marry him. It’s a never ending thing for Edward Cullen. And to many of us, it is beyond grasp. Beyond recognition.

While our husbands spend countless hours pursuing us and fighting for us when they are dating us, trying to reel us in and persuade us to marry them, more often than not once the vows are said and the rings are on, the fighting stops. The passion dies. The desire we feel from our husbands fade. We feel as though we’ve lost the interest of the man that we love. I don’t know about all of you, but I am a hopeless romantic. I always have been. I watched Dirty Dancing at least ten thousand times growing up just so I could hear Patrick Swazey [RIP] say “No one puts Baby in the corner…” Most of us can’t help it. It’s the way God created us. We have an uncontrollable desire to feel and experience passion in our lives. And the storyline of Twilight resonates that within us.

Bella gets not only one man but TWO  who spend days and weeks fighting for the chance to be with her. And for most of us in the “real world” we would just like to see one put in half of the effort that these guys do. And generally that “one” is the guy who’s last name we share…our husbands. Let’s just face it ladies…men can be pretty dense and for most of them, romance just isn’t in their genes. We drop hints about how much we love fresh flowers, we leave magazines open with pictures of jewelry, and unless it’s an anniversary or a birthday, we rarely-if ever-receive a note or a card with anything as simple as I love you written on it. And the undeniable passion shared between Bella and Edward [both physically and emotionally] is enough to send me, and probably most of you, swirling. Many of us haven’t seen that kind of passion in years. That uncontrollable desire to just be with someone. To be near them, to talk to them, to kiss them…that kind of passion dies quickly once marriage commences and our guys feel that they’ve got us hooked.

It’s through stories like Twilight that we are able to experience those things again. I think that is why so many grown and married women enjoy the series. I know that I tend to over-analyze and while it is quite possible that some just enjoy the book [I myself enjoy it as much from a literary perspective as I do anything else], I think most of us, whether we admit it or not, find ourselves enthralled by the storyline and by our own desire to be desired the way that Bella is. Two gorgeous men fighting over her love, each of them battling for her soul…it’s intoxicating. And in a society where four out of five marriages end in divorce and of those four, two of them end due to infidelity; it’s hard to find something exemplifying true and meaningful love to hold onto.

Most of us grew up without marital role models. Many, like my husband, grew up in split families. The sanctity of marriage isn’t there any more and we fear that we will become another statistic. And even if only for just a few minutes a day or a few hours at a time, getting lost in a world where one girl is experiencing a love so deep and so passionate that most of us can’t identify with it, is just the break that we need. The chance to realize that we deserve marriages/relationships like that, and that if we choose to fight for one, it can be within our grasp.

So…there ya’ have it. The reason why women love Twilight. Passion, desire, romance. Simple stuff. Take notes gentlemen. Go to the RedBox and pick up a copy of these films. Your wife…..errr, you will be glad you did. 
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Don’t forget to add your link if you are joining me for No Mom Talk Monday today!! There will not be a No Mom Talk meme next week!

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December 10, 2010

HS

April 17 was pretty much the hardest day…ever. At least, for me it was. I had to tell my husband goodbye. And let me be the first to tell you that I’m really not that great at goodbyes. I never really have been. I can deal with it; suck it up and handle my emotions, but not really by choice. I guess just for a mere lack of options.

But right now, eight months later, I have never been more proud for having said that goodbye. My husband is officially done with A-School. Graduation isn’t for another few days, but the school part-the tests, the practical's, the endless nights of studying and stressing over systems and needles are finished. My husband has done it. He’s completed A-School. He’s nationally EMT certified. He’s an HS. After two and a half years on an A-School waiting list, countless ups and downs and nights spend wondering if he had made the right decision and chosen the right path…and now he’s finished. He’s done what he wanted to do.

And this wife is proud.

Proud to see him happy. Proud of what he’s done. Proud to see him succeed. Proud to see him choose a dream, pursue it and not slow down until he’s conquered it.

So now, I head out to California to reunite with my best friend. I sit in the audience and watch him graduate and then stand beside him and pin his Crows on his uniform. Then we come home…come home to our families. And he comes home to his son…our spirited little two year old who isn’t going to know what hit him when his daddy walks back in the door. And we celebrate Christmas and New Years and then move on with the next chapter in our lives. Together. As a family.

And that, in itself-the family side of things is more than enough to be thankful for.

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December 9, 2010

Baby Jesus & the Terrible Two’s

With Christmas right around the corner, the snow in the air (if that’s what you can really call the 15 minutes of flurries we had yesterday) and my husbands impending arrival back home with his family, one can’t help but feel joyous and spirited. My mood is one of extreme excitement, anticipation and overwhelming anxiety. I dread Monday and Tuesday because I know how slowly they will pass. I know that my Wednesday flight will feel like it is taking 100 times longer than it actually is. All I want for Christmas, is my family back together. And we are so close to that right now that I can practically taste it.

My sweet little two year old somewhat grasps the notion that his daddy is coming home soon. At least, I think he does. He is asking for him more frequently than usual. Before he would outright tell you that his daddy was in school [Ma dada at cool]. And now he randomly asks “where my dada at?” like he’s expecting him to walk in at any moment. Don’t worry, I have full intentions of having my camera in hand and prepared to capture the expression on his face when his daddy does walk in.

Yet, despite the sweet innocence of his demeanor and his loving little personality, my precious two year old is, in fact, reaching moments of the terrible two’s. Don’t let this face fool you…

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He can throw a tantrum. Throw an all out riot when he wants to. It doesn’t have to be over anything major…just something as simple as not getting exactly what he wants when he wants it. Or if you don’t drop absolutely everything that you are doing to play with him. Usually I just laugh it off because, let’s face it, sometimes those toddler tantrums can be downright hilarious.

Yesterday during a particular fit he was throwing because I wouldn’t let him have a sucker before he finished his chicken nuggets, I started thinking about baby Jesus. Don’t ask me how I made this great big mental leap, because I don’t really know. It must have been something to do with the Christmas decorations all around the house and the Christmas movie that was playing on Hallmark in the background. But I stopped and thought to myself, What kind of toddler was baby Jesus? Did Mary have to deal with the terrible two’s?

And then more I thought about it, the more I realized that during this phase of her son’s life, she may well be considered one of the luckiest moms in the world. Because, no, Little toddler Jesus couldn’t have experienced the terrible two’s. Every mom, no matter what age, who has experienced life with a toddler knows that children are devious and sinful little creatures by nature. They not intend to be, but they are simply born into it. I watch Little Man throw fits over not getting his way. I watch him sneak things out of drawers when he isn’t supposed to be messing with them. I watch him hide toy cars in his bed so he can play with them at night instead of sleeping like he’s supposed to. {Okay, that last one I let him get away with because it keeps him quiet…}

The point is, we are all born into sin. We don’t even have to learn it. We just do it. I have never taught Little Man how to scream and cry because he didn’t get what he wanted. I didn’t teach him to bite when he was mad (a habit that I immediately put a stop to and haven’t had an issue with since). He just…knew. And that brings me to wonder what other kinds of sin he will just know in the future.

I guess now, more than ever, I have truly begun to realize the impact of my decisions and my husbands decisions on our son. Every single day I wake up and wonder if I’ve done something correct, or if a choice we’ve made will impact him in a negative way down the road. The debate about Santa Clause has left me wondering whether I am taking away from the innocence of his childhood by choosing to forego instilling the idea of a jolly old man who’s mission is just to bring toys to children. I wonder how he will handle moving so far away from the Aunts & Uncles and grandparents that he has come to love so much these last few months. Will he experience a whole new type of separation anxiety? How will he deal with not being able to see and hug and play with his Paw Paw and his Grandmothers? Sure he handled his daddy being gone, and that was difficult all on its own…but this time he will be dealing with separation from many, many people instead of just one.

And then, the real clincher is this thought…this thought that runs through my mind over and over and over again with every little thing that I do or say: What sinful habits is my son learning from me?

Do my words reflect the language of love and compassion that Jesus calls for? Am I quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (not hardly)? Do I exemplify to him the way to treat others? The way to talk to others? Does my son see me giving thanks and praise to Jesus every day in every way? These are important questions…important reminders that there is a set of little eyes watching me all the time. There is a tiny little person who looks to me and to my husband to teach him the way to live his life in accordance to the word of God. I’m not in any way a perfect mother, a perfect wife, or a perfect woman. And to be honest, not in any way worthy of being a mother to this sweet little boy.

But I try. I give it everything I can, every single day. I pray every day that God would teach me to be the kind of mother that HE calls me to be. The kind of mother that my son needs and deserves. I pray that he would teach me to be the wife he calls for and the kind that my husband needs and deserves. Being unworthy is a difficult road to travel. But it’s also one of the most eye opening. To realize that you can’t get to where you need to be on your own is tough, but once you realize that there is someone else, someone even greater than you could imagine waiting to help you down that road…it is indescribable.

So…while Mary may have had the world’s most well behaved toddler, I’m going to stick with the one I have. My sinful, sneaky, loving and goofy little toddler.

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And while I know that he will never be perfect and he will make mistakes throughout his life, I also know that he was placed in my life for a reason. That he was given to me and to my husband because God saw that we were the perfect parents for him.

And that is reason enough for me to give it my all…

Every single day.

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