My Child Care Journey…

DSC09085If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that you should not say, “I will never do that.”  OK maybe if it is something crazy like bungee jumping off a bridge…but don’t put that one past me.  I am the type who might actually do that.

We make our plans, of course.  God often has a better one that leads us through twists and turns, mountain and valleys, and to places we swore we would never go to.  Child care was one of those for me.

I was a child care sub in a public school district in 2002.  It was a second job and “my real job” was youth director at a local church.  Child care was secondary in my life.  So when I lost control of a group of 20 preschoolers, I knew this was job was temporary.  The following year I took a job as an after school care leader in a small Christian school.  This job was a better fit and I worked it for two years.  However, my passions were with the youth in my church and it was always a “second job” to supplement my part time income.

The following year we moved to Indiana and I had a brief stint of working in an actual day care center located in a business park.  I felt claustrophobic in the small classrooms with twenty four year olds.  The playground was a quarter of the size of the school playground where I worked previously.  When I lost control of a group of four year olds, I knew I could go longer work there.

I was a little too preachy about child care after that year, yet I was also confused about my calling.  I took on some traditional values even though I am not your typical stay-at-home mom.  I was never one of these college girls who wanted a “Mrs. Degree” and be a stay at home mom.  I wanted a career of some type and wanted to work outside of the home.  My desires and my values were all conflicted with one another and it is something I struggled with for years.

I stayed home for several years after having children.  I felt like it never came naturally to me, but I found my style eventually.  Two years ago a friend of mine wanted to send her daughter to our little Christian school we send our kids to.  Kindergarten dismissed an hour and a half before the time she finished work.  With no after care program at the time, I offered to watch her daughter until she finished work.  I only did child care about six hours a week, but I learned quickly that 1)  I loved having extra children in the house.  2)  I grew up on a neighborhood where there were always children to play with.  My kids do not.  This would be a way for them to develop friendships.  3)  God does not call everyone to be a  full time stay-at-home mom.  My friend was doing amazing work in God’s kingdom.  God was using me to help her do her work.

So come that spring I had a few families ask if I wanted to watch their kids the following school year.  I knew it was from the Lord.  Last year I had four regular child care kids.  This year I doubled that to eight.

Yes, now I am your typical stay-at-home mom.  I hang up my laundry on the clothesline outside.  I do crafts with my kids.  I bake muffins.  I sweep the floor at least four times a day.  I am OK with it.  Because I am supporting some amazing moms out there doing kingdom work.

I don’t think in terms of “real job,” “real career,” etc.  anymore.  And by the way I still do lots of youth ministry…mostly volunteer.

But this is me right now.  I love owning my own business.  I love having a loud chaotic house full of kids.  I love having a baby in the house.  I love watching my three kids love on these babies and toddlers.  So it’s a win win for everyone.

So my friends, never say “never.”  Your “never” might be your next adventure.

I am still here…

This past August I sought the Lord and asked Him how He wanted me to spend my time (or not spend my time).  What was important?  What were time wasters?  What areas did I have let go of and what things did I need to commit to or recommit to?  It has been a humbling experience and once I wish I could share with each one of you.  However, it is only October and the school year is still fresh and new.  March or April might be a whole different story.  I need to wait before I write about time management, schedules, and routines…and I have more to learn. With that being said, I felt called to reduce my time blogging.  I don’t plan on retiring my blog.  I will still be here.  I am using my Facebook page for the quick posts:  kid’s crafts, food and recipes, eating updates (I’ve also made some significant changes in my eating habits and I am already noticing a difference…and I don’t mean just on the scale), and other “mom ideas.”  So I hope you will join me there too.  I have a couple blog posts in the works so hopefully I will get to those soon as well.

Blog Giveaway! My husband’s book!!

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When most of us think of the “sex talk” from our youth, we think of purity rings, “don’t do that,” “stay away from that” etc.  But is the Bible’s view on sex so negative?  There is a positive and uplifting portrayal of sexual intimacy in the Scriptures and my husband shares this in his book Naked and Unashamed .

It is now available for pre-ordering and available late October.  However we want to do a giveaway and give one person their own free copy.  All you have to do is leave your name in the comments and (optional) how you found my blog.  For an extra entry, like my Facebook page and that will double your chances in wining.

One of my kids will draw a name out of a hat at 7:30 AM Pacific Time on Wednesday…a week from today.

Thanks for supporting my husband in this endeavor.  There is nothing quite like holding book you wrote in your hands as a published author.

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Goals for the Fall

Ok so I have to admit I am a little obsessed with the “Why are we so much busier than 20 years ago?” question.  Especially with technology making life convenient.  I discovered that this question has a multitude of answers.

I decided this year I would try to make my life less overwhelming and cut out the “run around crazy.”  Come mid August anxiety set in.  I didn’t feel ready for the work, life, church balance.  Now that we’re three week into the school year, I already made some progress.   It helps to record it here, but my fear is a few months it will be a whole different story.  Here’s some changes I made:

  • Saying “no.”  I had to say, “no” to a few small things already.  Even though they were minor things, it was painful.  It made me realize I am a huge “people pleaser” when it comes to extra tasks & projects.
  • Exercise:  I will still exercise (and I have been consistent) 5-6 mornings a week because it does give me a mental boost and it’s my best use of “alone time.”  I came to the point a few years ago where my thoughts were, “Ugh I need to go exercise.  I SHOULD really go and do it” to “I NEED to do it and I WANT to do it and I can’t imagine NOT doing it.”
  • No fall sports:  Our kids are at the age when they don’t need to be doing sports year round.  They are pretty young.  So rather than push swim team or soccer, we will  continue to run 2-3 times a week for 15-20 minutes maximum…although we took the month of September completely off.
  • Praying about our schedule & pursuing God:  I have prayed about our time commitments and activities.  I am striving to seek the Lord first in everything (not just my schedule) before seeking Facebook, friends, etc.
  • Not talk about being busy:  It has become a status symbol to declare how busy you are and walk around in a frazzled state.  I am trying to be thankful for the opportunities God has given me and decrease the pressure put on myself.
  • Eating!  I am in three weeks into a pretty significant change in eating.  You can read it about on my exercise blog.   I am striving to do so without having to purchase products I cannot really afford right now.  My goal is to eat clean foods.  This is a quote from my gym’s website:
  • Clean food is basically food without any added unnatural or processed ingredients. If you can’t find the ingredient or food in nature, then it probably isn’t clean. For example, an orange is a better option than orange juice (processed and added sugar). And orange juice is better than an orange creamsicle (who knows what is actually in one of those). The more steps food has to take from its natural state, the less clean it tends to be.Clean foods are the best because our bodies are designed to thrive off real food.

It has helped that we have so much fresh vegetables and fruit in the house right now from our garden and other people’s gardens.  I am determined to keep it up throughout the fall and winter as well.  My reason is not weight loss but basic health.  I struggle with anxiety, severe PMS, and I am around kids all day with runny noses.  We’ve already dealt with one stomach bug already that I thankfully only had mildly.  It is too early to tell if the diet change is making a significant difference, but I can tell you I lost two pounds and my anxiety has been minimal.

So bring on the fall!  I am not sure what this school year will hold, but it’s been a good three weeks already.

Depression Is Real

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As the death of Robin Williams moved from breaking news to yesterday’s news to no longer news, I cannot help but focus on the reality of depression and how it plagues so many of us.

We see a funny, animated, energetic, successful man on the screen.  But behind closed doors, there is addiction, depression, and despair.

There are many of us appear to be happy, upbeat, joyful, and excited about the littlest things in life.  We may be clever, silly, and natural entertainers.  Our highs touch the sky, but our lows sink us beneath normal. This is exactly how I felt in the fall of 1995 when I started college.  This was before I knew much about anxiety and depression and that I struggled with it.

I felt like my mind was racing so fast that my body could not keep up with it. Recently I was watching Episode #4 of Disappeared in which an 18 year old boy who has struggled with anxiety and depression in the past leaves his home in a small Illinois town. Searchers find a note he handwritten in a state park in Wisconsin that says, “My head is too big for my body.  Finally I will get some sleep.”

This is exactly how I felt.  I did not want to commit suicide…I never got to that point…but escape the crazy consuming racing thoughts…I wished it for it every day.  There were days I thought it would be easier to transfer to another college, move to another state, quit school and move back home, or just sleep–but I knew my thoughts would continue and maybe intensify.

I felt like an entertainer.  I could be upbeat, funny, and energetic in large groups of people. I could always be found chatting with someone in the lobby or studying with someone in the study basement.  But behind closed doors I was an emotional mess and I had no idea how to express this.  I even wrote this poem in November of 1995:

My name is the Entertainer

I make people laugh with my jokes

Until they shove me away

If only they knew I was crying inside

Perhaps dying

My name is the Entertainer

And I am a walking liar.

I didn’t know what to do.  Every day got harder.  The thoughts did not go away but got faster and fiercer.  I became more lonely every single day.  I was losing friends.   I did not blame people for not inviting me to things or wanting to get to know me better because I didn’t really like myself either.

That is the problem with those of us prone to anxiety and depression.  We can be hard to deal with.  We can be a challenge to live with.  We are way too sensitive and you have to walk on egg shells around us.  You can raise your hand during “the prayer request time” in Bible Study and tell about your friend struggling with cancer, but we can’t share about our dark depression that is paralyzing our own life.

I remember walking into a counseling session nervous, scared out of my mind and believing at that time counseling was only for “the crazies.”  After my counselor told me I tested high for anxiety his next words were, “This is treatable.”

There is help, my friends.  There’s medication, support groups, exercise, dietary changes, job changes, counseling and more.  All these things helped me at one time or another.

But ultimately and most importantly there is God.  I believe he did not intend for us to live this way trapped in our racing thoughts.  I know our world is constantly saying, “this is who I am and I need to accept who I am.” People will try to pump you with self esteem messages that if you only love yourself a little more you wouldn’t be so depressed.  There might be a place for this in certain circumstances.

If we were born any which way, we were born sinful.  Sin entangles us and triggers our mind to succumb to anxiety. Sometimes we feel too weak to fight it.  God is fighting for us.

I healed because I came to a place where I realized all I had was my faith in Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)  It was a feeble shaky faith. I didn’t have to try love myself more and change myself into a healthy person because Christ already loved me with his ultimate sacrifice on the cross (Galatians 2:20) and changed me into a new creation.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I began crying out to the Lord asking for a way out of this.  I didn’t have many people to talk to and those I did talk to I had exhausted the relationship.  The Lord never grew tired of listening to my laments.  He answered my prayers.  Not overnight.  Slowly the thoughts died down, I found solid friendships, I could focus again, I could sleep again, and I found practical ways to live with my anxious prone brain.

I had setbacks.  I still struggle.  My moods are sometimes unpredictable and up and down.  But I will forever carry with me “a hope.”  (1 Peter 1:3).

My friends it’s so much more than loving yourself and loving others.  It goes beyond following Jesus’ teachings and trying to be like Him.  It is knowing Him.  It is abiding with Him.  It is trusting Him.  That my friends is where it needs to begin for us walking in depression.

 

Weeks #8, #9 & #10

Today was our last night of a 30 day pool membership and I feel like I am mourning the loss of summer…or maybe just the pool.  We have three full weeks of summer left, but it feels like the first hints of fall are in the air.

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But since I have not blogged in a couple weeks, I want to back up.  Week #8 of summer was a unique week.  My husband and my oldest were on the other side of the country in Philadelphia with a small group from our church.  They helped with a camp “our sister church” puts on every year.  It was an amazing experience for both of them.  It was very strange having a full week with only my younger two, but I bonded with them as well.  We went swimming every single day.

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Our main reason for getting a pool membership is we all love to swim.  I always envisioned spending hot summer days with my family at the pool or the lake even before I had kids.  Since we don’t live near a lake anymore like we did back in our Michigan days, this is the next best thing.  My son began the summer hardly being able to hold his head above water.  He was still wearing arm floats or a life jacket at the beginning of the 30 days.  

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The unstructured swim time was much needed.  He can now jump off the diving board without a life jacket on (which he was terrified to do only two weeks ago) and swim to the edge.  He can swim underwater and we’re working on floating on his back and blowing bubbles underwater…he will be back in structured swim lessons in a week.

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My oldest has progressed in her diving.  I am finally figuring out breaststroke and am not embarrassed to swim it when I swim laps with my friends.  The best part was quality family time which made the membership worth every penny.

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While my husband and oldest were away, the younger two enjoyed lots of free play time. My son taught the youngest to play Stratego.  They play the board game version and then they go outside in the backyard and play their own reality style version and they are the Stratego pieces.  It is quite entertaining.

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I am thrilled they have not outgrown Little People yet because I have fond memories of playing Fisher Price Little People as a kid.

The husband and the oldest came home very late on a Friday night.  The following Saturday I went on an 80’s cruise with friends from my mom’s group.  We were celebrating my friend’s birthday.  I think dressing up in the 80’s attire was almost as fun as the whole cruise itself.

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I love that this group is adventurous and will try these kind of events.  Going out for coffee has its place and we do that too…but getting a little crazy once in awhile helps keep things interesting.

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The cruise went from 11 PM – 1 AM.  I was home shortly after 2:30 AM.  I have not stayed up this late in a very long time and it took me a couple days to adjust to the lack of sleep…I’m getting old.

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Week #9 of the summer was a very busy week for my husband.  After being in Philly and getting caught up again…and getting ready for two full weeks off.  He still managed to take the kids on a walk to get Slurpies.

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It was wonderful to have the full family together again…

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The highlight of my week was taking three of my middle schoolers and one adult from our church rafting on the Deschutes River.  I had not whitewater rafted since 2001 when I took the youth group I was leading at the time to Tennessee.  I loved being on the river all day.

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I only fell in once and we were not in a rapid.  We were playing a balancing game our guide led.  We all climb to the back of the raft and he pulls a rope putting the raft in almost a ninety degree angle.  We have to be still and not make sudden movements.  On Attempt #1 two of my middle schoolers moved and took me and the guide in with them.  Attempt #2 we were successful.

Originally we were going to camp two nights, but unfortunately my co-leader broke his tibia while in Philly the week prior.  It was too late of notice to find another adult to replace him so we turned into a day trip instead.  It was still well worth it.

This past week which would be Week #10 is the husband’s first week of vacation.  It was the staycation week of the “vacation.”  Normally during staycations we take a break from “people from church” not because we don’t want to see our friends…but pastor families need alone time.  This week we saw quite a few people from church and I even worked on church projects which I swore I would never do when he’s off from church work…but I felt totally OK about it.  I enjoyed it.  For pastor’s families, I think so much depends how tired and exhausted you are from church projects, issues, or people.  Right now I don’t feel as tired.

We played street hockey Wednesday night with friends from church.  This is something we’ve done every Wednesday night when we are able since June.  

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Every Thursday night in August, our local running club hosts “cross country nights” at a local park.  They have four different races for kids and adults.  There are some very elite runners there–kids who can do 6 minute miles.  There are many running families who have kids that compete year around and travel out of state to meets.  We are not that family and never will be.  We just don’t have the talent to compete at that level and I am totally OK with that.  We love to run. We do it for the healthy benefits, the mental strength, and the time spent together.  My younger two did the 500 meter and did very well.

 

 

IMG_1285My oldest did the mile run.  I timed her at the track two weeks ago and she did about a 13 minute mile running the whole way.  I have no idea how to compare this because I never ran a mile at age 8–we just didn’t do that kind of distance back in the day.  I remember running my first one in seventh grade and getting 8:37.  

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Because she ran with elite runners, she started very fast.  She almost quit because she could not breathe.  She stuck with it anyway and shaved two minutes of her time and got down to 11.  I didn’t care that she was one the last.  I was so proud of her.  I’ve learned with athletics is not to try to be the person or family that you are not meant to be–but still push hard and do your absolute best.  Set goals and try to reach them.  

The younger two have gone to VBS all week at another church and the oldest attended a Christian theatre camp.  It was her second year attending.  She got more of a main part this year and loved it.  They did Winnie the Pooh and she played the part of Christopher Robin.

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Now it’s on to vacation.  Then a full week.  Then the following week I start child care already…just easing into it with one child here two or three times until school starts.  I haven’t done any back to school shopping yet.  I am still in denial.