Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How We Met Pt. 1: Bakery Love

When people ask how Alex and I met I tell them we worked at a bakery together the summer after my sophomore year of college. That's when we started dating. But we first met three years before that.

Alex was the one working at the bakery and I was working at the smoothie place next door. It was the summer the movie Napoleon Dynamite came out and I was rocking a side ponytail a la Deb and Alex thought that was pretty cool. He made me a mix CD with a bunch of They Might Be Giants songs on it, and I thought that was pretty cool. We chatted in the back hallway and traded muffins for smoothies. We car pooled to a mutual friend’s birthday party. I made Alex a survival care package when he went on his first trip to India, because I had gone with my church youth group the summer before.

And that was the extent of our acquaintance for three years.

I was, at that point in time, pretty ok with not having a boyfriend. I had an amazing group of girlfriends in high school. We had so much fun together, going to shows and music festivals, dressing up like pirates for the midnight premiers of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, having keggers (root beer kegs, that is), watching The Princess Bride and Little Women, and laughing until our sides hurt and our faces were wet with tears.

We were a sisterhood. That sisterhood gave us a sense confidence, security and self worth that I think is very uncommon among teenage girls. We also were deeply aware of our shared identity as beloved daughters of God, and this belief lifted us above what was normal for girls our age. Sure we had crushes on boys, but very few of us dated. I’m so thankful for the innocence and simplicity of my teenage years. I never felt the need for a boyfriend because I was too busy having fun with my friends.

So while I had a crush on Alex, at the very tender age of 17 I would have freaked out and never spoken to him again if he had asked me out then.

I worked at the smoothie shop until I went to college. Then the summer after my freshman year I traded my smoothie-maker's visor for a bread-seller's apron and started working at the fateful bakery. But I didn’t see Alex at all. While I was pedaling pumpkin muffins and pumpernickel, Alex was traveling to India, Ireland, and then did fall semester in Spain, and I went back to my own school for Sophomore year. Alex was coming back from his semester abroad just as I was leaving for my semester in India. We were ships passing in the night.

But there was one thing that connected us. And her name is Amy.

My little sister Amy started working at the bakery that winter. She was there when Alex came back from his travels, and she would tell him about my travels. She told him about the fun things I was doing and she also told him about how hard my time abroad had been and how homesick I was.

When Alex heard that I was having a hard time, he sent me a Facebook message. I remember it being only a few lines, and couldn't quite remember what those lines were, so I looked back in Messenger to see if it was still there. And it was! Thanks Facebook! It wasn't a few lines though, it was a few paragraphs. The opening sentence read "I would have sent you an email, since I think Facebook messages are sort of silly, but I don't have your email address." Oh 22 year-old Alex. If only you knew then how much you would go on to use Facebook Messenger.

But I've gotten sidetracked. His message was very encouraging, telling me to hang in there, that I was in the middle of an amazing opportunity, and that even if it was hard, it would have a huge impact on my life. It made me smile, and I filed it away in my brain under "pleasant surprises."

Meanwhile, still in India, I began to feel a dissatisfaction with my heretofore status as single. I had a desire for marriage and was feeling ready to be in a relationship. I poured out my heart to the Lord about this over and over again during that semester. I had trusted Him with my heart and my dating life, and I had really been ok with where He had lead me so far. But now I was 20 years old, and I was feeling like it was my turn.

I was ready for something to happen, and I felt that change was coming, but I had no idea what it would be. So when I got home from India in May of 2007 I resumed my job at the bakery, and kept on waiting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Product Review: Lark Adventurewear

This sweltering Monday afternoon finds me camped out in front of one of our TWO window air conditioners. Wait. Don't you live in a two story house? Yup, that's right. And still only two air conditioners. They're like the Little Engines That Could, chugging away all summer.

The kids have *Thankfully* lined up their naps today, enabling me to enjoy these tasty guys from Trader Joes.

TJ's, why you keep doing this to me? Why you take all my money and then give me love-handles? Maybe we should break up.


Summer is halfway over. We've been enjoying the nice weather as much as possible and sweating and melting our way through the hot days. I used to try to stay clean on hot days. But now that I almost always have sweaty kids attached to me, I've given up the fight.

Alex says that he loves the smell of sweaty little kids in summertime. I did too, for about the first week of summer. Now it's just sweaty kids all time, and trying to figure out how the keep them dry and clean while still satisfying the desire/need to go outside is another fight that I've been giving up on.

Then I got a sweet little package from Lark Adventurewear in the mail and am feeling like maybe there is hope!

Lark Adventurewear makes breathable, moisture-wicking clothing to help keep your little people cool and dry while they're having their summer adventures. I have not come across a product like this before. It makes so much sense! We've got moisture-wicking active wear for adults, so why not for little kids and babies? Lark Adventurewear makes super cute clothing and pajamas sizes newborn-2T. I hope they continue to expand because I'd love to see something Johnny-sized in this fabric. 

We got the Short Romper, and there are so many things I love about it. I love the cute pattern. I love that it has snaps at the top as well as at the bottom. Trixie's off-the-charts head size means that sometimes we can't get clothing over her head. Not the case with this! I love how soft the fabric feels and that it does seem to keep Trixie less sweaty. I also love that it has sleeves. I recently realized that most of the summer clothing I got for Trixie is sleeveless, and so I have to be extra vigilant about sunscreen for my fair-skinned girl. It's nice to have an outfit that covers her little shoulders, but is still light and cool.  This is definitely going to be a wardrobe staple for us this summer. 

If you think you could use some warm weather baby gear, Lark Adventurewear is offering 15% off your order with coupon code ANNA15. Take a look around their site and see if there's something for your little sweat bundle. Happy shopping!

disclaimer: This is post sponsored by Nakturnal. 
I received this product free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review. 
All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lots of Links I Like

During our precious short Minnesota summer months I tend to hang back a little bit from blogging and online life. Summers are for being outside, getting sweaty and sunburned and sipping on very cold Rosé. Winters are for sitting on the couch under a blanket with my computer.

Lollipops courtesy of Trader Joe's  
BUT....there are a few online things going on that I think are pretty cool and I wanted to blast them at you in case you had not heard yet. 

1. Blessed is She Liturgical Planner! Guys!!! This is the best planner. I had LOVED using my 2016-2017 planner. It is so well organized, there is room for everything, information about the Liturgical Year, and it is beautiful. I am very proud of myself for keeping mine out of the grubby sticky hands of my children for the entire year. And I can't wait to start filling in my 2017-2018 calendar.

These are still available in the Blessed is She Shop, in case you'd like to get one for yourself, or get one as a gift for someone you really like. They're $60, which I know is is a lot of money for a lot of you to spend on a calendar. But in my opinion, it's worth every penny. It also helps to support Blessed is She's beautiful ministry. So if you've benefited at all from BIS over the last few years, you may want to consider saying thank you by purchasing a calendar.

2. The Dorothy Exchange. Local Ladies! My friend Cara is launching The Dorothy Exchange this month. It is a women's skillshare based out of the Twin Cities. The first workshop, hand spinning wool, is this weekend in St. Paul, there are still a few spots available. Check out the site for all the details and to register.  

3. It's Prime Day! I know everyone and their mom is an Amazon Affiliate, but on the very off chance you don't know someone who is, I am! What this means is that when I share an Amazon link and you click through and make a purchase of anything, a very small percentage of the sale goes to me at no additional cost to you. On Prime Day there are tons of great deals. So I will link to the only ones I took advantage of. This teapot. And these bed sheets. Very exciting. What I really want is this thing. I texted Alex to see what he thought, but I haven't heard back probably a no. 

4. Fountains of Carrots. Are you listening yet? You should be. Every episode is great. But the most recent few have been, in my opinion, exceptionally good. Check it!

5. The Simple Show. This is a new podcast for me. I heard about it because Haley, from Fountain of Carrots, has been on to talk about books. I have added many books from the book episodes to my reading list, and I have implemented many of the entertaining tips (like ordering pizza and using paper plates) into my summer entertaining. 

6. I have had some good luck with new recipes this summer. We don't have central air in our house, so from June through September I rarely turn on my oven. We either eat cold meals, or I use my crock-pot. We made these beef sandwiches over the weekend and they were delicious. And I'm making this pesto chicken dish tonight for the second time. Our kids love it, which always makes me want to make a recipe over and over. My children also ate these Thai peanut noodles. I was shocked. And after that I was happy.

7. Finally, are you on Instagram? If so you should pay attention to the hashtag #mondaygardentour My friends Jacqui and Laurel started giving little garden tours via their Instagram stories. Mondays seemed like a good day to do that because Mondays are normally blah. And what can take a day from blah to beautiful better than a garden? I have been having lots of fun sharing about my garden, and slowly getting over my fear of forward facing video cameras.

I hope you're all having a great summer and that your gardens are growing like gangbusters.

Linking up with Kelly for some Quick Takes. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

More Than One Way to Mom

I recently wrote about my decision to stop working and be a full time stay-at-home mom. While I liked my work, it was making family life really stressful. I felt like I was spread too thin, like everything was making me irritable, and that my family was just another item on my to-do list. I knew that quitting my job would help me be a better mom, and so I quit.

But my decision to quit my job has got me thinking about some things.

One is that I knew quitting my job would make me a better mom. That is, it would make me a better mom. Just me. Not everyone else.

I don’t think that all moms need to quit their jobs to be better moms. And I don’t think I am better than other moms for having quit my job. This is just what worked for me.

Some moms work, and it works for them. They love their jobs and getting to practice their professional skills. Working helps them feel balanced and that helps them be a better mom. I know that working moms don’t stop being moms when they drop their kids off at daycare in the morning. They’re still thinking about, worrying about, and loving their kids, even when they're not with them. They are in tune to the needs of their families and keep their households running, all while putting in a full days work outside of the home.

This was a balancing act I was not able to figure out, and my hat goes off to all the moms who do it every day.

Second, staying home full time with my kids is what I feel called to do, but that doesn’t mean that I love it all the time. My children are not little angelic beings and we don’t spend our days reading books under apples trees, or walking hand in hand in fields of flowers. My kids are naughty, they throw tantrums and make messes, and I yell a lot. Sometimes I wish I could go to work for a few hours each day - just to get a little break from them!

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, and it implies sacrifice. It can mean putting professional or academic goals on hold for the foreseeable future.  Or it can mean giving up a well loved job because the cost of childcare doesn’t make it worth it.

For me, the sacrifice is giving up the extra income my work brought in. It’s giving up some time each day that was something different from changing diapers and calming tantrums. It’s putting personal goals and dreams on the shelf because there’s just not enough time to pursue them right now. It’s giving up my body, in that I’m currently nursing a 20 month old who shows no sign of stopping. It’s giving up my privacy, as in, yup, there’s always someone with me in the bathroom. And it’s giving up control, because I can plan all I want, but those plans are usually thwarted by my beautiful babies.

Some days it's easy to make these sacrifices, and other days I need to remind myself that I chose this, it's what I feel called to. Every time that I slow down and take a deep breath I come to the same conclusion, I am honored to make these sacrifices, even though it's hard.

Finally, while it is a sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom, I realize that choosing not to work is also a privilege. When I stopped working it meant giving up extra income. But it was just that, extra income. I’m not my family’s primary provider and we can get by without me working.

Some moms are their families’ primary providers, or significant contributors. They may wish they could stay home with their kids, but they can’t because their families’ depend on their income. They go to work day after day, maybe even to jobs they don't like. They do it because it's what their families needs them to do.

That is a type of sacrifice that I am not familiar with, but it’s one that I greatly admire. I may talk lightly about quitting my job, or even joke about being retired at age 30, but it is not lost on me that this is a privilege, one that I will try my hardest to live up to.

All of this was a very long way of saying there’s more than one way to mom.

It's ok if the way I mom looks different from the way you mom. Good moms come in all sorts of beautiful shapes and sizes. But at the heart of every variation there is a common thread; we are all showing up everyday, doing our best for our families.

Whether that’s packing lunches and doing school drop off, or clearing the breakfast dishes to make room for home-school lessons. Whether it’s punching in at work each morning, or keeping the home fires going with a baby strapped to our backs. We’re still the ones kissing foreheads and skinned knees, making dinner and giving baths, reading stories and tucking in. And then, with aching feet, or a sore back, or a fried brain, we’re getting ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

It’s a beautiful thing we do, and it’s beautiful, all the ways we do it.

Friday, June 9, 2017

7 quick takes vol. 36

This is the Spring House Projects edition of 7 Quick Takes and it is brought to you by Alex's Two Week Break from school! Yippee! Here's what we accomplished on this break.


Ever since we bought our house in 2009 we've had one of our main level rooms set up as my piano studio. I used that room for teaching and that was it. We never went in there for anything else. Now that I'm done teaching we wanted to turn that room into a space we could use in our everyday life. We decided to make it into "the den."

The first step was moving the piano into the living room. My brother came over with some lifting straps to help us do that which was awesome, because there was no way Alex and I could have done it on our own. The piano is now in the living room and it feels very classy. I kind of want to call it "The Salon" and hold gatherings with our friends where we read poetry and play music for one another. Will this ever happen? Idk. A girl can dream though.


After we moved the piano out of the piano room we painted it white.  That's right. White. I know some very fashion forward ladies who are huge proponents of white walls. Jacqui and Grace to name a couple. Well, they're rubbing off on me and I decided it was time for us to try some white walls.

This room was a pain in the behind to paint. The walls had been blue before, so we were going from dark to light. The walls are also a textured plaster and paint does not go on evenly. We ended up having to do three coats, giving me time to get all caught up on my podcasts.




We had been using one of our upstairs rooms as a TV room/playroom, but we wanted to make that room into Trixie's room. So we moved the TV down stairs into what we are now calling "the den." Air quotes because that's not really what we call it. We call it the TV room. But I don't like thinking of us as a family that watches a lot of TV (even though we do) so I don't want an entire room of our house designated for that purpose. I'm going to keep calling it "the den" and hope that the rest of the family gets on board soon.

We brought most of the kids toys in there as well as one of the couches from the living room and my very favorite lamp that my aunt gave to us. I love this room. It's feeling very den-y.


The next thing we did was paint the old TV room/Trixie's new room gray. It had been a really bright blue/teal before and I wanted something neutral and easily adaptable. I'm really happy with the color. And after painting the terrible plaster walls in "the den" these normal drywall walls were a dream.

 Here is a before and after of the wall color:


We got the crib down from the attic and set it up in Trixie's room. You may be wondering why the crib was in the attic when Trixie has been around for about 20 months now.  The reason is that Trixie has been sleeping in our closest for the last year or so. The crib is too big for our closet so she's been sleeping in a Pack 'n Play in there. One reason Trixie needed her own room was so she wouldn't have to sleep in a Pack 'n Play anymore. The other reason is that Alex and I were growing tired of having to whisper all the time in our room.

I should add, please don't think we are bad parents for putting Trixie in our closet!! We have a very large walk in closet with a window and everything. Having her in the closet was a nice way to have her nearby but not so near that we were waking her up every time we rolled over in bed.

Now Trixie has her own room and it is such a sweet space. She transitioned well to sleeping in a different bed. Johnny has been very interested in the crib as well. He calls it "Trixie's cozy bed." I made the mistake of letting them go in the crib together and now that's what Johnny wants to do every time we're in Trixie's room.


We put the Pack 'n Play in the attic leaving more room in our closet. I'm not sure what we're going to put in the space yet. Maybe my yarn stash, which is still in Trixie's closet. For now I have just hung a curtain in the doorway to the closet and am choosing not to worry about it.


Now that we no longer store Trixie's clothes in our room I wanted to create some more functional spaces. Our room is very small, but I was still able to make two spots where can work or relax.

One is the desk. We've had the desk in our room for about a year, but it has always ended being more a landing place for all of Alex's text books than an actual work space. We had a super old silver Ikea book shelf that we painted white and put next to the desk. The books are now on the book shelf and the desk is on it's way to being cleared off and ready for use.

We also moved the rocking chair that had been in the old TV room into our room. I wanted to have a little spot where I can knit or write, especially in the winter months when our lower level is very cold and drafty. It's a cozy little corner and I think I'll really enjoy using it.

Now we're done with our indoor projects and trying to be outside and enjoying the beautiful weather as much as possible. Have a great weekend!

For more quick takes visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

today was perfect

In Minnesota we complain about the weather a lot. And with good reason. Half of the year it's below freezing and we're shoveling out our sidewalks and scraping ice off of our windshields. The other half  of the year we're sweating in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity.

But not today. Today was perfect.

Summer is right around the corner, but it's not here yet. This morning was cool enough that I wanted to pull the comforter up over my shoulders. Then this afternoon it was warm in the sun and comfortable in the shade. We opened the windows and a delicious breeze carried the scent of the peonies from the yard where they just opened up into the house.

I love this time of year. The grass is green and lush from the spring rains. Our lawn will be brown and crunchy by August but right now it looks great. The trees are thick with their foliage.  The cottonwoods are in bloom, sending their white fluff flying through the neighborhood like a summer snow storm.  Flowers are blooming everywhere, and the seeds in my garden are sending up shoots. Everything feels alive. Plants and people.

We've been outside every evening lately. The kids do a million different things. They load landscaping rock into toy dump trucks and cart it around the backyard. They spray water with the garden hose. They spill bubbles down the front of their pants. The get sand in their hair and in their shoes. They take their shoes off and get dirt in their little toenails. They skin their knees and require and dozen band aids to make it feel better.  Their faces are a little pinker than normal and they smell of sweat and sunshine. We do baths a lot more frequently now than during the winter months.

There's no point in my telling you any of this. It's not a parable and I don't have some sort of lesson I'm trying to impart. Except that I feel really lucky that I get to spend these beautiful days with my family. And all of the things I tend to fuss and worry about really don't matter that much. This is what matters. These seeds of love and peace that we are sowing in our little backyard on these beautiful days.

I just love this time of year. And today was perfect.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Johnny is Four






Johnny turned four today. We had a birthday party for him over the weekend and it was so much fun! He really understands what it means to have a birthday. He knows there's cake and presents, and he knows the song you sing and that you're supposed to wait until it's over to blow out the candles. He's really good at blowing out candles. He has friends and cousins that he likes to play with who came to celebrate with him. It was a beautiful spring day and we all had a great time.

I love celebrating my boy. 

But Johnny's birthday is so much more than his birthday.

I can't think about Johnny's birthday without thinking about the two years of infertility we went through before becoming pregnant with him. Or the baby we lost during that time. 

I can't celebrate Johnny's birthday without being reminded of the awful week we spent in the NICU after he was born, and the feeling that the ground had given way beneath my feet and I was simply falling with nothing to grab on to.

But I'm not really saddened by these memories. No. I suppose I could be. Instead they are a reminder to me God's grace. 

My life can be bleak,  and my dreams may appear to be dead. But God is still with me, guiding me, loving me. 

I may face something I feared and dreaded and prayed would never happen to me. It may be hard. But I will make it. And there will be new found grace and mercy because of it. 

And the thing I thought I absolutely could not handle will actually help me find strength I never knew I possessed. 

Actually, it not my strength at all that I will find. It's strength outside of me. The kind of strength that comes from crying heaving sobs in the shower while your baby is taken away in an ambulance and saying "God, I can NOT do this. Help me."

Grace is found there. 

When I am weak, then I am strong. 

God is there through the good times. But I'm aware of Him more during the hard times.

Because I need Him during the hard times. Grace is always available. But I'm not always looking for it.

Johnny's birthday is a reminder of God's grace. 

Of answered prayer. 

Of gratitude.

Of joy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

7 Tips for Going Through Surgery With Your Child

A couple weeks ago I took Johnny to the hospital to get new ear tubes put in his ears and to have his adenoids removed. This was the 6th surgery Johnny has had since he was born almost 4 years ago. I feel like I've become a bit of a pro at going through surgery with a kid. I'd certainly rather I were a pro at some other parenting skill, but this is what I've been given. So I thought I might as well pass on my treasure trove of knowledge to the world wide web. Hopefully this post will always be irrelevant for you. But if you ever do end up needing it, I hope it will be helpful.

Here's what I've learned.

1. Fasting is the worst. The required fasting before surgery is so hard for a little kid who can't understand why a meal might be delayed a few minutes, much less a few hours. If you can, schedule surgery for as early in the morning as possible. That way you can just wake up your child and load him or her into the car, leaving no time to even wonder where breakfast is. If that's not possible, distract, distract, distract.

When Johnny was still nursing and couldn't eat or drink before surgery, Alex would be the one on baby duty and I would hang out in a different room. No mom, no milk. Once we got to the hospital there was enough going on to distract him so that he wasn't constantly wanting to nurse.

Now that Johnny is older distracting him means putting on a favorite movie and getting out all the annoying toys. When he asks for breakfast I tell him that we are going to the doctor soon and he can have something when we got home. He seems to understand this at least a little, because he stopped asking for food.

Ear tubes, 2016
Ear tubes, 2017. The fire trucks have saved us from meltdowns twice!

2. Distract again. Once you arrive at the hospital, you may still end up waiting around quite a while before it's time for surgery, and your kid still can't eat anything. So bring lots of stuff to do! Our children's hospital has tons of toys in the waiting area of the surgery center. They also bring you more toys once you're in your pre-op room. I don't know if this is normal for children's hospitals or not, so you may want to bring some of your own toys, or coloring books. Johnny had been given a book of Minions stickers from his Grandma to bring with on this most recent surgery day.

If your surgery is inpatient, and you're going to be in the hospital for a few days, these items will also be helpful in distracting and entertaining your child while he or she recovers from surgery.

3. Bring a lovey. Johnny's lovey is Zebra. Zebra has been with Johnny for all of his surgeries. He gets to carry it with him, it stays with him during surgery, and is there when he wakes up.

Zebra with us for Johnny's 2nd surgery at 4 months old. 

At this most recent surgery they gave Johnny a tiny air mask to practice putting on Zebra, so that when it was his turn it wouldn't be as scary. Well, it was still scary for him, but he had Zebra and Mama with him for comfort.

4. It's ok to be upset. Like I mentioned before, I've become kind of a pro at taking my kid in for surgery. This time around I thought I was doing pretty good. It was just outpatient surgery, it would only last about 30 minutes total. We've definitely been through longer and scarier procedures. But when the time came to take Johnny in to the OR, I couldn't help but feel the lump in my throat, and the burning in my eyes.

It's OK to be upset when your child has surgery, big or small. It's ok to be scared when your baby goes through something that is scary for them. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of love, concern, and empathy. And it actually is a scary thing, entrusting your child's health and safety to someone else. But while you may feel sad and scared, don't despair, pray, and do remember that the doctors know what they're doing.

Johnny after his very first surgery. He was 3 days old. 

5. Waking up can be rough. It might seem like saying goodbye to your kiddo before surgery is the worst part of this ordeal, but seeing them right after they wake up can be hard too. Depending on your hospitals protocol, they may still be asleep, hooked up to machines and monitors, or have wounds or bandages, which can look scary. They may be awake, disoriented, and in some pain and upset about it, which can also be scary. Or they maybe laying in bed groggy and bleary-eyed, but comfortable.

Whatever state your child is in, the important thing is that you are with them. It will comfort them to see you and know they're not alone. You can also help advocate for your child if you think they need more pain management or anything else.

6. Bring some support for yourself. For this most recent procedure I took Johnny to the hospital by myself. I didn't really have a choice. Alex can't miss a day or rotations unless it is an emergency. My mom was staying with Trixie. My dad and other family were working. And my friends either work or are home with their own babes. I thought I would be fine to take Johnny on my own, because it was just outpatient, and we've been through this before. But by the time we were done I was completely drained.

Having another grown up around is really helpful, even if the procedure your child is going through is minor, and all the more so if it is higher risk. It makes such a difference to have an extra set of hands to help hold kids, play with kids, get water, carry stuff to and from the car, if you're pumping to wash those stupid pump parts for the millionth time, wait with you during the surgery, and be emotional support.

If your child is going to be in the hospital for a few days make sure you are not stuck in the hospital the entire time. You will want to be by your child's side every minute of their hospital stay, but it will be good for you to get out a few times. Take turns with your spouse, or have another family member come so that you can step out of the hospital for some fresh air, go for a walk, or go home and shower in your own bathroom.

It's ok to take a break. In fact, it will be good for you. In order to take good care of your child you have to take care of yourself too.

7. Keep asking until you're satisfied. As your child's parent you are their number one advocate. It is important you understand what's going on and that you are happy with the care your child is receiving. So ask questions. If there is anything you don't understand, ask about it. If you concerned about something, ask about it. If you are unhappy about the way something was done, ask, nicely, about it.

It is true that there is no such thing as a stupid question. My experience has always been that health care providers are more than happy to answer questions and talk through anything with you until you feel good about it. No question is too small or too silly when it comes to your peace of mind and your kiddos healthcare.

Sweet snuggles after surgery in January 2014, 9 months old.

Linking up with Kelly for some quick takes!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just a Mom

I recently quit my job.

And when I say I quit my job what I mean is that I stopped teaching piano lessons out of my home.

I've been teaching piano lessons for ten years. I was a piano major in college and started teaching a few students during my junior year. The first thing I did when Alex and I bought our house (10 days before our wedding) was get a piano so that I could start teaching from home, and I've been doing it ever since. I've always been proud of myself for actually using my less-than-practical degree. And I was especially proud of myself when I kept my studio going after I started having kids.  It was a creative outlet that I've really enjoyed and that has helped my life feel a little more balanced.

Until now.

I've been balancing my work-from-home job and being a mother for four years, and well, I'm losing my balance. No, I've lost my balance, and I'm spiraling out of control.

Coordinating babysitters, arranging who would pick up and drop off  Johnny at school, strategizing meals that I could make ahead of time and eat quickly between students, keeping our main living areas company-ready for half of the week, screwing up naps and bedtime because of lessons - all these things were making me crazy. All that combined with the regular chaos and sleep deprivation of life with small children, a husband in grad-school, and a child with medical needs that are far from being resolved, had me feeling like I was drowning and couldn't come up for air. To top it all off doing a very extroverted type of work - teaching kids - left my introverted self feeling completely drained at the end of the day, making me annoyed with my family and unpleasant to be around.

I want my family to come first - I want to give my very best for them. But instead of giving my best I found myself being half-present, always looking to the next thing, and treating my family like they just another item on my long to do list.

One night in January I was crying to Alex about how I couldn't go on like this. Something needed to change. He couldn't quit school, we couldn't get rid of our kids (not that we'd ever want to - that was a joke), we couldn't change our oldest child's medical needs. So that left teaching piano. That was something we could change.

As soon as Alex suggested I stop teaching I felt a wave a relief. But I also felt some stubborn pride. I had worked so hard to build my studio over the last decade. I liked being able to contribute to our finances in some way. I liked having something to do that was separate from parenting. I liked that I wasn't just a mom.

But being a mom is the best thing I've ever done! Having my children and caring for them has been my greatest accomplishment - more than my degree, or any of the jobs I have had, or any travel I had done, or talents I have developed. Even if I end up doing amazing things later in my life, I feel certain that nothing will top this experience of having partnered with God in the miracle of creation. And if quitting my job can help me be a better mom, and better enjoy these long days and short years with my kids, then that's what I should do.

So I quit my job. Not all at once. I finished out the semester, gave my students time to find a new teacher, and held one last recital. And now I'm done.

Now I'm just a mom. There are still demands, but the demands are not pulling me in different directions. My days are still busy, but there is less going on, the pages on my calendar have become very blank. I don't need to shower and put on my make up first thing in the morning anymore, although I usually still do, because I like feeling put together. I don't need to plan or coordinate and strategize to get my family through the day. We can move at our own pace.

And you know what? If feels really good.
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