a sacrificial year

No one said it would be easy.  They did say I could do it.  What no one told me is just how much I would be giving up in order to complete college.  I’m not sure most of them knew.  I didn’t really know until I was knee-deep in turnouts and books. If you are a working parent thinking of college and just want an honest take on the true sacrifice it will take, read on.  I’m about to share with you what it took for myself and my whole family to make it through this year.

This will be a list of thank you and some real truth.   I preface this by adding that while I was pregnant with baby #4 I finished a full year of college.  Fast forward seven years and here we are.  The beginning of my back-to-college year.

I started off by taking a computer class and an EMT class.  I was managing two restaurants at the time.  This required help from grandparents and aunt/uncle.  They watched our kids after school for three nights a week.  Our children stayed up later than normal because of it, but this season was only a few months.

Nick and I were exhausted from the constant car switching and later nights.  Other people were responsible for helping our kids with homework and bathing.  I knew we couldn’t sustain for long like this.  Honestly, I felt so guilty.  I didn’t want to have to ask people to do these things for us.  They were gracious and willing, but I wanted to see me kids.  I’m grateful we had this help and we couldn’t have gotten through this time without it.

I changed jobs.  I had to it was getting rough.  I worked fewer hours.  I was blessed enough to work for three days instead of six and make just as much money- easier.  I really loved the brewery I worked at.  No stress of managing and more time for study.  This was the easiest semester I had.

Once I received my certifications for EMT, I naturally wanted a job in that field.  I got a job at our small community hospital ER- thanks to a friend putting in a good word for me there.  As a new EMT I felt that I would lose my skills and knowledge if I didn’t put it to use.  This meant learning and training.  Twelve hour shifts are brutal sometimes.

Just as a new semester started, I found myself working much more than the part-time I was hired for.  I worked nights, swing, and day shifts often all in one week.  Things were getting harder.  I found myself changing into scrubs in gas station bathrooms after class so I could head straight to work.  My father-in-law became very ill.  He was our main sitter.

By the end of this semester, he passed away.

This was so very hard on all of us.  All of us.  The whole family grieved at the passing of this incredible guy.  We all spent every moment we could with him.  Me, least of all.  I learned that college doesn’t care what’s going on in your life.  Due dates are due dates.  Work doesn’t pay without you showing up.

I had some very special days with him.  I am thankful for that.

A new semester dawned and I hadn’t even had a melt down.  I suppose I saved it all up for the end.  I battled my mind so much during this semester.  I was completely sick of studying by now.  Every spare moment felt taken.  There were no spare moments.

When I was home, I was locked up in me room studying.  Forever studying.  I am proud to have accomplished so much in such a short time.  That’s what it takes. Become a hermit with a book and you can do it too.

When friends want to have you over for dinner…you can’t.  When the kids want you to play outside with them the day before a test- you can’t. The husband wants to date you, the house needs a mom scrub, the laundry is a huge mountain of neglect, the dogs need to be taken to the groomers, the kids are overdue on yearly checks, every birthday you’re invited to is on a Saturday.

Everyday Saturday for a year I have been at fire school.  Eight hours every Saturday of drills, tests, didactic, skills, sun, wind, overexertion, skills.

We missed so much.  The kids missed so much.  We have had no weekend getaways or camping trips.  Since my school schedule was so crazy, work filled my Sundays and Fridays and every moment I let them.

This.Has.Been.Hard.

Nothing worth having is easy.  Is it?

I’m so proud of my family for supporting me.  For giving up fun and friends and time away.  I feel like we all graduated.  We all got done with school.  We all made it through this season.

There were times I wanted to just quit.  I wanted to curl up in bed and knit or read a book just for fun.  I couldn’t.  The prize was too great. I didn’t knit a stitch or read a line.  I buckled down and got my work done.  My strength came from Jesus.

Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

This has been my life verse.

I know that Jesus has strengthens us all.  My children have seen first-hand how much studying and sacrifice it takes to reach a big goal.  My hope is that all this yucky mom-guilt was a lesson to them.

This has been quite a year.

This has been a sacrificial year.

 

 

 

crazy thoughts: why I want to be a vagabond and roadschool

Yesterday was my day off.  I had big plans of cleaning and catching up on things around the house.  Instead I spent most of my free time looking at tiny houses and fifth wheels.  Something about our western life seems to feel like a burden to me.

I know I’m thinking crazy vagabond thoughts, but wouldn’t it be so freeing to not spend all time and money pouring into housing and mundane life? What if all the traveling I’ve longed to do , and places that would be so enriching for the kids were a reality?

Yesterday I allowed myself to DREAM…

I do this often.  Just daydream.

What if we roadschooled?  Lived for months at a time in a camper?

Is someone poisoning my food and making me think all these crazy things? I’m sure my husband thinks that’s where all this is coming from.

I realize this.

But, truly, it’s a need to free myself from burden.  Think about it…we spend our whole lives working our hands just so we can pay for a house.  What if that money was spent on life experiences?  Traveling the country…the WORLD!  We could know things about life and God we could never know without taking a leap.

Could we be free to go wherever we wanted?  What would that look like?

I imagine all the people we could meet and help and encourage.  I imagine our family relying and trusting and just being with each other.  How close would we become?  How would that shape our character?  How many opportunities would we have to fully rely on God and trust Him?

I want to place myself in an uncomfortable position.  I want our family to LIVE, to EXPERIENCE, to LEARN, to TRUST, to DREAM.

I’m half way across the world already.

Can you just pretend with me for a minute?

I know it’s a long-shot.  I am dreaming anyways.  Let me be…FREE for a moment.

What sorts of crazy thoughts do you have?  If you could do or be anything, what would it be?  What/who stops you from doing it?

What does your FREE look like?

 

Free A5 Planner Printables!!

I’m so excited to announce my very own planner printables.  I decided to combine aspects I really like about Erin Condren Life Planners that I covet, and the Day-Timer Family Plus Planner that I own.  I love vertical layouts for weekly pages.  I love color, but I don’t love how it sucks up my ink.

This design is printer-friendly, colorful and FREE to you until the end of the month.  February 1st these pages will be sold in my Etsy shop.  My hope is that you will enjoy these printables and give some feedback before I start selling them.

I have poured hours and even days making these.  I am not perfect so if you notice something in error please let me know.  I thank you kindly for your input, and hope you enjoy getting yourself organized!!

The calendar features notes and goals.  Each month is a different color.

A5 Cal snip

Calendar A5 (click to download)

I made lists for shopping, books to read, movies to watch, goals and a notes page.

planner lists

planner lists (click to download)

The weekly spread is vertical.  Each month color in the weekly spread coordinates with the monthly pages.

weeky plan

Weekly Planner colored months (click to download)

year of clean 2015

I have already seen many January challenges on blogs, YouTube and Instagram for a month of cleaning and de-cluttering.  If you’re like me, the thought of a daily deep clean in any area is daunting.  I decided to make my own challenge list.

I made myself a monthly, instead of daily, challenge.  Each month I want to focus on a section or topic of cleaning. Here’s my list.  I have also made an Instagram/Twitter handle for any of you who want some motivation and want a place to share your masterpieces.

Use #yearofclean2015 and join me for a peaceful organizational challenge.  I will post updates each month here, as well as videos on my YouTube channel.

Share this challenge with a friend.  Are you ready?

Yearof Clean schedule edit

15 goals for 2015

I always have goals lists going on, but at the beginning of each year I like to plan out what I think to be the most important goals to aim for.  Do you do that too?  Link your goals in the comments section and share.  Happy New Year everyone!

Here’s a video about each of my goals if you would like to hear them explained:

 

 

Goals for 2015

1. 2 YouTube Videos a week

2. Weekly blog posts (here)

3. Keep up my cleaning routine

4. downsize ans organize the house

5. Run another 5k

6. Stay Gluten Free 80% at least

7. More homeschool fun!

8. Get serious about guitar lessons

9. Read at least 20 books this year

10. Bible Studies

11. Get back in the garden

12. Have kid dates

13. Finish Josie’s quilt

14. Keep up my Thankful Journal

15. Submit to God’s will day by day

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

homeschool, housework, and sanity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I found a more realistic approach to life freeing.

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

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

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

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

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