Being Present and Finding Joy

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It’s been a hot minute since I’ve gotten back from the bachelorette weekend for my sister in Florida and her wedding in South Carolina. 🌴 What a week!! So much to do, so much to plan for, and so much to celebrate. 💐

My sister and brother-in-law said their vows to each other, surrounded by people that loved them dearly. 💍 As I listened to those vows yesterday, and watched the father-daughter, and mother-son dances, my heart filled with emotion for so many reasons. I was reminded of God’s love for us and His desire to see us happy, loving each other fully and following wholeheartedly after Him. I was also reminded that my husband and I made these same commitments to each other five years ago.
Much has changed in our lives since then, but one thing that has remained unchanged is God’s love for Josh and I. And it’s been because of that love that we are always working on our relationship together, and doing our utmost to always extend grace and love to each other as Christ does to us, His church. 💒

Knowing that my husband will be leaving for a deployment in four short months, has been, frankly, overwhelming. I haven’t known how to process it. Apparently I’ve been holding too much inside, trying to be all, “Oh, that is just part of army life” because it all came out in waves during this past week of wedding prep and festivities. I’d cry at the drop of a hat the moment anyone talked about his upcoming deployment, or anytime I spoke of our plans for this year. 🌧

JOY and PRESENT Those were the words I chose for this year. To find joy in everything I can, and to be as present as possible in the moment, not looking back and not trying to rush to the next future thing. This year, those words will be very challenging to me, but I trust God has a plan. His ways are better than mine, and yet again I must remind myself to, “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you”. Psalm 116:7

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My Current Routine for My Two Year Old

I have always appreciated having a routine that I can use as a guide, ever since my daughter was a few weeks old.  This has helped set my daughter up for success in knowing what to expect, and has also greatly reduced any power-struggles that can sometimes come with going down for naps or bedtime.
Here is my current general routine that I am following with my two-year old, keeping in mind that we all have ‘off-days’ and that is okay!  It is steady consistency and getting back on track when you are able that is the real key. 😉
6:00am–Ava wakes up and I bring her into my room for a diaper change, some snuggles and milk.
6:10– I let her watch one cartoon (such as Puffin Rock, Berenstain Bears, or Beginners Bible) while I get ready for the day, listen to a short audio devo, or inspirational podcast and then start breakfast.
6:30–breakfast
6:45–clean up and put away dishes (she helps with the dishwasher), tidy a few things in the house if needed
7:00–I have printed routine cards that my daughter likes to point to when it is time to get ready (brush teeth, make bed, etc.) and we start by getting dressed.
7:30–independent playtime in the living room, while I study in the same room.  She will sometimes color, or play with legos as well.
9:30–snacks, and playtime with mommy
10:00–go outside, story-hour at the library, run errands, or playdate…
11:30/11:45–lunchtime
12:00–naptime
2:30–up from nap, read several books together
3:00– independent playtime, while I clean up around the house or maybe do a little more studying
3:30–either continue playtime, or go outside to the playground
4:00–screen time
5:00–start dinner, sometimes she can help, or will color while I cook
5:30–dinnertime
6:00–clean-up, and then books or play with daddy
6:45–start getting ready for bed
7/7:15 bedtime

How To Balance Life as a Stay-At-Home-Mom & Online College Student

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Two things: expectation management, and scheduling/planning ahead.  Those are my secrets!  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well let me break it down a little bit…
First of all, as moms, we all know our days often do not go as according to plan.  For those days, you have to be willing to let go of what you cannot control, and adjust your day accordingly.  You planned on studying early in the morning before your little one wakes up but they decided to wake up before 5 am?  A good nap and a few tweaks to your schedule will definitely be necessary!  And coffee…lots of coffee.
I raised my daughter on the “Babywise” scheduling method since she was born, and having a daily schedule, or even just a guideline to follow, has saved my sanity!  It’s been a lifesaver, not just for me, but for my 2 year old as well.  Children actually thrive on schedules and knowing what to expect in their day, so it is a win-win for everyone. 🙂
If you know when you child naps and for how long they nap, then you can plan your study time accordingly.  My daughter sleeps about 2-hours now, so I take one of those hours to nap (especially now that I am pregnant with my second and get tired pretty quickly) and the other hour to study.
I also take advantage of the mornings when she is more sleepy and like to lay on the couch, or play quietly with her toys.  She will either watch a cartoon, or have independent playtime for an hour while I study.
On the days that I have more study work than normal to do, I chose a simple dinner (or let my husband make his own when he comes home! He doesn’t mind), 😉 and do a little more school-work while he plays with our toddler.
The weekends are when I catch up and accomplish my tests, quizzes, and finish my papers.  Saturday mornings, my husband plays with our daughter (and catches up on his football!) while I complete quizzes and extra homework in my room with the door locked.  Bless our children’s needy little hearts. 😉
Sunday afternoon and evening are for finishing papers.  I will usually do this while my little one naps and then work on it some more in the evening.
With this kind of schedule, we still have pretty full weekends to spend time as a family and relax–online college has been such a blessing!
So again, just remember that not every day goes as planned and that is okay, but the weekends can be used to catch up, and a daily planner (filled out a week advance before each class) is your best friend!
College as a SAHM is totally doable!  Find your support system, the people that will cheer you on and have your back and encourage you on the tough days.  As with everything, this is but a season of life and I know you can do it!

First Trimester Musings | New Duty Station Announcement

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:: Our Big Island, Hawaii trip in 2016 ::
I will be about two months along by my first official OB appointment, next week, at Daegu Catholic University Hospital.  I remember how thrilled I was when I discovered I was pregnant for the first time, with Ava.  It was just hours before my husband was coming to pick me up from work, on his lunch break, to drive me to the airport for a long weekend visit to a friend of mine in Indiana.  Not my ideal scenario for surprising him with the news!  So I waited until I came back from my trip, and gave him a gift bag that had a box of chocolates inside, with a two-piece newborn outfit underneath the chocolates, and a positive pregnancy test.  I remember the excitement we both shared and driving to Fort Bragg that afternoon to stroll one of their wooded walking paths.  I also remember my husband saying a prayer of thankfulness and a blessing on our unborn baby.  It was a special memory that I will always have of our first baby.
Being pregnant with a second feels so different than the first.  Still exciting, just very different.  I told my husband by handing him a little box with a Christmas ornament that said, “Can’t wait to meet you in August”.  Our 2-year old grabbed the box before he did, and the note came out of the picture ornament and he didn’t even understand it when he read it.  Ha-ha!  But I showed him two pregnancy tests and that got the message across clearly enough.
I am so happy to think about our first-born having a sibling and friend and I cannot wait to see their dynamic together.  I realize it may be hard for her to adjust to someone new taking up so much of mama’s time at first, but we will get through that and I look forward to lot’s of mommy-daughter dates together.
I was never sick with my first and didn’t honestly experience really any symptoms at all until I was well into my second trimester, but more so in my third.  In my late second trimester I had really sore feet (probably due to improper footwear…such as flat sandals) and could hardly walk without wearing my Keen-brand shoes.  I also had acid re-flux in my third trimester that made it hard to sleep.
With this second pregnancy, symptoms have shown up much sooner.  Bathroom breaks are frequent, exhaustion is intense, I had morning sickness all last week (feeling a lot better this week), and have had some food aversions.  Strangest aversion is hot coffee.  The thought of it makes me sick, so I make my own cold-brew with this pitcher from Amazon. It’s only $18!  
Another thing about this being my second pregnancy, is that I am less nervous.  I’m sure that is pretty normal.  I’ve done it once before, so not immediately seeing my OB as soon as I find out I am pregnant doesn’t worry me, thinking about the baby and worrying over it happens less because life with a toddler keeps me busy–and I am thankful for that!  I also have online college classes starting again this month and that keeps me pretty busy as well.  Staying busy has been a good thing for me and I am looking forward to classes starting back.  I like having goals and seeing them accomplished, whether it’s cleaning my house or knocking out college courses!
SMLXL

:: Holland, Michigan in 2016 ::
I already miss holding a little baby and keep feeling that Ava is growing up too fast.  <insert sad face>  Thank heaven for babies!  It’s exhausting work, but the more work we put into something, the more rewarding it is–can I get an amen?! 🙂
2017 was so full of blessings, with a pregnancy announcement being one of them, and my husband being promotable to Major being another!  I am SO proud of him.  With that news comes another PCS move and in only six months because of the upcoming promotion.  But it means we are heading back to the states, and this time to Charlottesville, Virginia!!  I am really looking forward to being closer to family and to spending the holidays with them this year.
God has been so good.

My Christmas Gift|An Announcement

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“I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now” | My husband is promotable to Major, AND we are expecting our second child.  This month has been so FULL of blessings (including the gift of experiencing life daily with our 2 year old!) that I have hardly known how to pray without starting out with, “Thank you Jesus…again!”  I remember going through a time of real darkness years ago.  Not around me, just inside me.  That darkness caused sadness (depression) and it blinded me to every blessing I had.  Only when I began to look around and truly see how many things I had to be happy about (even just the basic things like health and a home!) did my thought process completely transform and I no longer saw my life through my sadness because God had replaced it with JOY.  The joy that transforms your heart and your soul.  I deserve nothing that the Lord has given me but I am thankful BEYOND measure for all He has CHOSEN for me.  And so this Christmas I am thankful for family. For babies. For life. And for life eternal from the one who sent His son so that we may know love and life everlasting.
Merry Christmas everyone!  And God bless. ❤
P.S. “Baby D” is due in August!!

 

How to Reset a Rough Morning

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Sometimes our days just don’t go as planned.  We start out with all the best intentions, only to snap or break before it is even noon.  When that happens, it is important to remember a couple things…
First, you are human and we ALL have bad days so don’t be so hard on yourself.  Second, you can have another chance to start over.
Here are a couple ways to reset when you need a little extra help to get your day back on the right track.
  •  Make yourself some tea or coffee and sip it slowly.  Literally stop everything you are doing and s-l-o-w-l-y sip that warm liquid, reflecting on how you want your day to be different going forward.  I always say a short (or long!) prayer, asking God for His wisdom, forgiveness and the courage to move forward and begin again.
  • Go for a nature walk.  Stop and smell the roses–really!  Pick up those multi-colored autumn leaves and admire God’s handiwork.  Remember how everything fascinated us when we were children?
  • Read a good book.   Find a book/devotional that speaks to your heart and read, even if it is just for 15 minutes.  It will be a wonderful refresher.  I have read five minute devotionals before that were are huge encouragement to me and exactly what I needed for that day.
  • Do a quick workout.  Anything that gets the body moving for even 15 minutes can really boost your mood.  I like to use the YouTube feature on my TV and pull up a yoga video in my living room and workout there.  Sometimes my daughter even joins in. 😉
Sometimes the reason for our day getting off to a poor start, is because we go into it with our mental checklist of duties and try to immediately knock out each one, unintentionally ignoring the people who need us the most.  I have been guilty of this.  When my daughter seems to be misbehaving, and all I want to do is sweep the floor without stopping in the middle of it to clean all the milk she just poured out of her sippy cup, the real issue is that she just needs some one-on-one time.  It is okay to leave the dishes in the sink and the floor half swept sometimes, so that our children get to enjoy time spent with us fully present.  Often it is all that they want.  So on those mornings that you just need a fresh start, maybe a long walk with your child/children is the perfect choice (or cuddling up on the couch for a good book).  Those are moments that children file away in their ‘love banks’.  Moments that you will always treasure.  The dishes can wait.