Thursday, October 8, 2015

What To Do When Parenting Leaves You Weary

I've been reflecting a lot lately on the journey of parenting

The ups, the downs and everything in between.

I still remember clearly crying out to God and asking Him to give us a baby. So many years of loss and sadness, wondering if we would ever have children in our physical care that called us mom and dad. 

We pressed on and I really learned a lot in that season.

Then along came our miracle(s) after another...plural in every way! From a quiet house to a house full, our lives were filled with joy and expectation as we now had five little people in our precious care. 

The years that followed were joyous & challenging. It constantly reminded me that we needed prayer and unconditional love in our family...on a regular basis.

One post that I remember writing during that season still stands out to me. It was titled, "Enjoy Almost Every Moment." I would continually hear moms with older children say, "just hang in there, it will get easier." 

And honestly that was never something I wanted to hear. 

photo credit: Kimberly Moore

I wanted to live in the live in the moment and enjoy these years of hearing little ones giggling in our home. And after years of longing to be a mom I simply wanted to enjoy the stage of parenting that we were in. Yet I still felt sheer exhaustion from countless diapers, daily spilled milk and teaching each one about sharing...again and again and again.

It was that determination to take one challenge at a time and one joy at a time that helped get me through each passing day...while still being present (or at least trying to be!) With many years at home with little ones, (and most of the time with frigid weather conditions outside) I went to work organizing and decorating our home to keep my focus balanced. (Those specific tasks aren't the solution for every mom, but for me it was the opportunity to get creative, focus on something more than time outs and welcome friends and neighbors into our space so that we could be fully present...even in those years of little sleep.)

Fast forward now to our present circumstances and we have four kids in school and our littlest is in preschool three days a week. This past month was actually the first time that I have had all five kids in school on a regular basis. 

It was a moment that I dreamed of happening someday. 

What would it be like? 

How would I feel?

I guess in the end my feelings surprised me. Although, I'm not sure what I expected. 

For the past month, three days a week, I have been dropping off our youngest at preschool and then I head over to our big kids school to drop them off next. Many times we arrive a few minutes before the doors open. The kids unbuckle and are chomping at the bit. Everyone is talking at once! "Can we go?!" they ask. The clock strikes and they open the sliding door immediately. Noise follows as they hustle out and I hit the button to close the door and they scurry off. 

And then it hits me. 

I begin to pull away and do a double take in the rear view mirror still in shock that there are no little people behind me. 

The van is strangely silent and the truth is...I feel like bursting into tears. I'm not sure why I haven't yet. Perhaps it is because I rush off to do way too many things that I have planned as I attempt to squeeze working a part-time job, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and loving others into those hours. Perhaps I feel as though if I squeeze so much into one day I won't have any time to process the feelings that I feel rushing to the surface.

Regardless it is the weight of responsibility, or in this case the lack of responsibility in that moment that overwhelms me. I drive away knowing that for a few hours, for that moment in time, I am not responsible for anyone but myself.

I haven't known that kind of feeling in six years.

The weight of trying to shift from attempting to address every argument, squabble and question for a crew of five (which is in itself an impossible task) is so heavy.

In fact, if I summarized my parenting in this current season into one word it would be...


You see, our crew is beyond diapers and sippy cups and having to travel with pack n plays and baby toys. 

And thankfully everyone is sleeping better these days. 

Yet we have little people who are becoming bigger people...who have questions and opinions, desires and needs. And I find that I am frustrated often at saying the same things over and over again. 

The kids will go outside to play and one will come in to ask for something, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then...yet another.

And even in the frustration, I wouldn't change it for the world. These kids are precious and we could never even for a moment imagine our lives without even one of them. 

But I'm still weary.

And while my emotions are on the brink of flooding into my minivan one of these days after I drop my growing kids off at school, the one thing that I keep coming back to is how much I need God through it all. 

I've tried doing play dates with friends and fun date nights with my hubby. I've treated myself to a pedicure, gotten a massage to relieve the million of knots in my back. I've been getting regular adjustments at the chiropractor over the past few months and have been diffusing my favorite essential oils. I've read more books in this season than in any other season of my life and still none of those things completely satisfy.

All of those things are good...all of those things are helpful

But in the thick of it...during the constant days of parenting when I am weary, there is only one thing that satisfies my soul.

And that is knowing that I am loved by a God who sacrificed it all for me...for you

A God who sent His only son to die on the cross for our sins. 

Please know that whatever season of parenting you are isn't about getting through the current one and getting on to the next but it is about drawing near to God and finding strength and love in His rest.

'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' 
Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Sign I Grew Up Reading

I like stories. Do you like stories

Growing up, my parents always had the same sign hanging in their foyer. 

It was just there adding beauty as it hung above the antique table and antique lamp. No one ever talked about it, so you would think that it was simply a "decoration."

Fast forward 20 years and my parents were downsizing and moving from our childhood home. They asked my siblings and I if there was anything in their home that we wanted to take and put in ours. There were many beautiful antiques in their home but with little ones in our home and the distance to move items here, I knew it would be difficult to bring anything home.

But then I remembered the sign in the foyer.

The sign that taught me an important lesson about friendship.

I told my mom and dad that I would like to have that sign.

But the sign was hidden in a box somewhere, unable to be found. 

It was there somewhere. 

Then I was talking to my mom about the sign and she mentioned that one of my brothers had also talked of wanting that sign. :-) Isn't it funny how simple decorations can teach valuable lessons to children living there?

So one day I was window shopping in Kirklands and came across this blank chalkboard sign. I knew exactly what I wanted to write on it.

So I brought it home...pulled out my chalk...and wrote.

I immediately wondered if people would think I had gone a little bit overboard with chalkboard paint in our home.

But then I realized that I didn't mind at all if they did.

Because I now had the same phrase hanging up in my home that I had grown up reading.

And now my kids will grow up reading it too!

It isn't just the words that we say to our kids that can affect them.

But the ones that we let them read as well.

to have a friend you have to be a friend

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Updated Home Office

home office

Hi friends! I hope you are having a great summer! I'm not quite ready for it to end in Minnesota I know what is around the corner. And before that season comes, that rhymes with splinter, I'm going to soak up every ounce of summer & fall. Seasons outside change and seasons of life change too. Recently I was reflecting on how with changing life seasons many times things in our homes change too. 

When I first began blogging, almost three years ago, my "home office" simply consisted of a place to set my laptop, plug in my camera and organize a few files. This was also the designated place that I would sort through our personal paperwork/finances. During this stage I was home full-time taking care of our three toddlers (while our older two kids were at school.) That meant that I needed my home office to be convenient to access and in a central spot. 

During this time it worked great having a little nook in our dining room to carve out as office space. I could easily pop around the corner into the kitchen or hear little ones wherever they might be. Having my office in the dining room also kept me motivated to keep things tidy since it was a completely visible area whenever guests were over. 

During that same period, we created a space for our kids to get creative in the basement. (The before and after of that room is pretty dramatic.) Our kids loved this space, but we soon learned that having a place for guests to stay was something that we wanted more.

Another...change in season, you could say.

So we replaced the desk with a bed for guests. And the kids started bringing activities upstairs to work on at the kitchen or dining room table. In fact, this basement space has been transformed even more...I'm really excited to show you that space soon. :-)

With all of these changes, I wanted to create a home office that fit my current needs and even had room to expand into a bit. I am now working from home regularly and wanted to have a space that sparked joy when I walked into it (I'm reading Marie Kondo's book about only keeping things in your home that spark changer!) 

With shifted job roles I also really needed a space where I could simply close the door. A place to make phone calls and leave things as is...without being concerned that the kids might grab important papers or that I needed to completely tidy up for company. I wanted to have a place where I could also close the door when I was finished working for the day and focus on family and non-work related things.  

It took time to create this certainly didn't happen over night. It was a process of gathering together things we the desk that was no longer needed in the basement. And using some of my monthly home decor/organizing budget to pick out a few things that sparked some curtains from World Market and bins from Target. 

Why don't you come on in and I'll show you what I've been organizing the past few months!

work from home mom

Our upstairs level in our house has four bedrooms. Three of them are used as the master, the boys room and the girls room. The smallest, fourth bedroom, used to be our guest room until we moved the bed down to the basement. Since then Sam had been using the fourth bedroom for his home office. Not too long ago, he kindly agreed to share half of the room with me.

Now we have a his and hers home office. 

Somehow my desk fit best right under the window. The sunlight streams in...YES, please!

work from home mom

I can set up everything I need right on my desk. I use a portable tablet/laptop combo for work. It is great for traveling. When I am home I can plug it into my monitor which makes viewing and editing pictures for blogging a lot easier to do.

doterra office

I love the cubbies on the IKEA shelf/desk combo. They are so versatile and you can mix and match containers nicely. 

I keep a box visible that is super handy for throwing receipts in for all of our home improvements/repairs. Then at the end of the year I sort through everything come tax time. I'm certain that using a pretty box makes that experience 80% more enjoyable. ;-)

home office

The back side of the cubbies are great for storing things as well. I love the combo of the natural toned wicker bins and the clean crisp, white containers. The white containers are handy to store class materials in. And the basket, on the bottom right shelf, is what I grab when I'm leaving the house to teach a class. I can easily toss the things I need into it and then pop it back on the shelf when I get home.

One of my favorite things about this new space is the closet that was transformed in the process!

I removed the door and gave the closet a fresh coat of paint...some white & some teal.

There were already some slats to the left of the closet from the previous home owner. I'm assuming there must have been some shelves on them at one point. Currently only the slats were present so I took some leftover wood out of the garage and cut & painted them to create shelves.

I love the way it turned out!

One day I went to Target looking for some storage bins to fit the shelves. I had the shelf measurements with me but it can still be tricky to figure out what would best fit the space. Since I am such a visual person I brought home a selection of colors and sizes to see how they would work.

I ended up liking the mix of containers more than going with all the same kind. They ended up working great and I really liked how everything came together with the contrasts in colors, textures and sizes!

The cabinet was reclaimed from another part of the house. It was something that I had picked up at a garage sale probably eight years ago. It has been used for a variety of things in our home throughout the years. I really like how slim it is and that the doors keep things inside from collecting dust.

I have thought of painting it many times but it would be more work than I'm willing to put in at this point. And since dark wood tends to go really nicely with teal I'm actually really liking its current condition! The dark tones warm things up a bit.

One of the things that I love about the essential oil educator part of my job is that I don't store individual products to sell. I simply share and educate others how to use essential oils, what the best ways are to apply them, common uses and the most cost effective way to get high quality, pure essential oils in your home. If you are interested in learning more about the essential oils that I use and recommend, you can email me here! (We even have a secret facebook group only available to wholesale members on my team.)

One thing I DO like to do however, is have a few helpful tools on hand for people who are getting started using their oils. This cabinet has become the perfect place to store glassware. I can see exactly what items I need to re-order in the future.

For the overall color scheme of the closet, I went with a teal, gray, yellow & white color combo. I wanted to keep things simple & streamlined but also fresh & vibrant!

On the same wall as the closet I re-hung my hanging folders from downstairs and added a new white board that I purchased from Target. Visually this space is just to the right of my desk so it is a convenient place to sort papers, jot down notes, write a to-do list, etc. 

I found these plastic rolling shelves on clearance at Target months ago. I think they were $5 each. Generally, I try to make over a space by taking things that we already own and then collecting a few inspiring pieces along the way as I am browsing stores that I regularly shop at.

However, if I am looking for something specific I'll usually stop at Home Goods, Ikea, or World Market. Otherwise most of my finds tend to come from the end caps at Target. :-)

In the teal drawers I keep shipping supplies, note cards, envelopes, a tape dispenser...basically things that aren't needed all of the time but are easily accessible as I am working at my desk. That white basket is where I store my camera that I use for blogging...when I'm not taking pictures of course. :-)

I find that I really enjoy having things out in the open that create a pretty space but are also really useful and functional. That cup of sharpened pencils for makes me smile every time I look at it. And I love to decorate with little reminders that are personal to me, like the number 7 or some of my favorite hashtags.

Well, friends...that about wraps up this current tour of my home office. 

I hope that you enjoyed seeing how one work from home momma carves out a little home office space as the seasons of life shift and change.

Enjoy the rest of summer, it's not over yet! :-)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Not So Secret...Secret Garden

a secret garden

Sometimes you have friends whose company is just plain fun. 

And sometimes you have friends that you have walked through dark & difficult times with. 

Our friends Andrew and Sara fit both of those categories for Sam and I.

Over a decade ago, we volunteered at the same summer youth camp together. Now we live in the same city, go to the same church, each have a handful of kiddos...have laughed together, stayed up late at night playing board games together and have wept deeply together so much so that it hurts. 

All of those things have made our friendship stronger. 

I have also been watching this family closely, for years, as they live out community. The kind of community where you don't just invite someone over for a meal but invite a handful of people to live with you...LIVE with you! 

Break bread with you...see you at your highest moments and your lowest. 

It is something that I hope to write more about in the coming months. While we've never fully experienced community in that way, we have had someone living or staying in our home for much of our married life.

In fact, I would even say that I am who I am today because of those experiences. 

Having people live with you isn't neat and tidy. You don't get to clean everything up pretty and have plenty of advance notice to vacuum and dust before company comes over. But you say, this is me.

This is me allowing God to transform every part of me.

And you work at it earnestly. 

And you say, this is what it looks like in the process.

We will go deeper on that topic, sometime soon...I promise. (Sara writes beautifully about her journey, here.)

But today I wanted to take you on a tour through Andrew and Sara's community garden. 

I immediately wanted to call it a "secret garden" because it makes me think of the movie. But there is simply nothing secret about it. 

Their home is always open to others...always

It is one of the most welcoming places on the planet. 

A few years ago they moved into a beautiful, old Victorian home in Minneapolis. It is the kind of house where you go from one parlor to the next and they have the most glorious vintage Christmas parties with cut out paper snowflakes and strands of popcorn and dried cranberries around the tree and...

I digress. 

The city skyline is literally just a hop, skip and jump away.

In fact, the home that they moved into is directly next door to their good friends, Jon and Bliss. Almost immediately after moving in the two families decided to open up their connecting yards to enlarge each family's outdoor space and create one larger community space. 

Brilliant, I say.

Together they have created an outdoor space that is simply enchanting, welcoming and a place to gather. 

Would you like to see it?!?

Come on in...

First of all, you should know that Sara will tell you that she isn't a professional gardener, but she certainly has me fooled. It is a joy to see someone come alive by doing what they love...spending hours in the dirt while soaking up huge amounts of vitamin D!

Sara loves making things beautiful.

Recently I spent one morning snapping pictures of her yard and then we sat and talked. We talked about life and kids and I enjoyed every minute, I almost don't know where to start you first.

But perhaps I should start with the bees.

Jon and Bliss, next door, have two children and a swarm of bees. 

In fact, part of their backyard is sectioned off with a special enclosed space for the bees to call home. There is something so fascinating to me about these bees. Perhaps it is because of their beautiful haven that Bliss created that just draws me in, or that bee keeping is such a mystery to me, or that honey is simply delightful. 

I just had a conversation with some friends about bees. I began it by explaining that I would probably ask a silly question...but I really know nothing about bees: "Do they actually live through a MN winter?"

I could literally stand at the gate of the bee yard for hours gazing in and watching...

just watching.

In fact, while I was watching the bees move around there were butterflies coming and going and lily pads to glance at.

This...this is a Minnesota summer to perfection. 

Back at the front of the house you'll find a path that leads you directly to the front porch.

And the front porch is filled with chairs to rest on. 

Not just one or two but enough chairs for a gathering. 

Not too long ago a few of us ladies met Sara on her front porch after work was done & kids were tucked in bed.

We sat there chatting about life as the cars and people strolled by. It was something that I definitely want to do again. Talking about life with other women is so good for the soul. It is about hearing each other's stories and experiences and learning and growing...together. 

Moving back to the backyard you'll find all sorts of places to stop and rest a while.

A hammock...

A swing...

There is even space for lots of friends to gather and eat.

These two connected homes take having a weekly potluck to a whole different level!

As I first pulled up to Sara's house she was cutting flowers straight out of her garden to place in the mason jars.

Straight out of her garden...if I did that all of my flowers would be gone.

Like, totally gone. :-)

While they have beauty around every corner, it is their heart for sharing their space with others that makes my heart skip a beat. It isn't just about creating a beautiful space, sitting alone in it and watching the clouds roll by.

For them, it is about inviting others in.

Just to name a few invitations...they have had weddings, numerous birthday parties, family gatherings, community potlucks, harvest parties, vintage Christmas parties and even invited kids from the neighborhood to join them for some food & fun one week not too long ago.

And since their family has continued to grow and expand, so has their vision for having a fun outdoor space...not just for their kids but for their community.

The people that come and share life with them.

A pirate cool is that?!?

It kind of makes me dream of being seven again.

Whether you want to climb a pirate ship, be mesmerized by bees, swing in the hammock, sit in the shade, eat yummy food from a weekly potluck, roast some marshmallows or share a cup of tea with a cherished friend...they have you covered. :-)

And it's not just about finding such a beautiful and rare outdoor space in the city...

But about the company that you get to share it with, when you do.

I believe that life is meant to be real, celebrated, shared, & enjoyed.

And this home does those four things well...really, really well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Purpose On The Journey

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to use my attention to detail for something good. You see, I love looking at the process and the journey and helping others who are also on the journey. I would sit on my bedroom carpet at home with a white board and marker and teach my little brothers everything I knew.

Then along the way I realized that I really wanted to be a mom. When my dream of being a mom became a reality I soaked up moments of teaching my babies and toddlers how to walk and talk and learn how to share. During the process I knew that I personally needed things to be in order to thrive, so I intentionally began turning our house into a home and started organizing & bringing beauty to one space at a time.

At times it felt like a never ending list of projects. New systems and processes were always being created. But then in time projects became less and less and contentment became more and more. And I began to dream about my next adventure. What would it be?

If I could list out my hopes...

I would really like to help others,

and give generously.

I would really like to have a flexible schedule,

and do something I love.

I would enjoy using my organization & attention to detail for something good,

and also teach my kids about hard work.

I would really like to build relationships,

and keep learning.

I love to travel,

and enjoy being home.

I want to study the word, and share with other women how God's truth and love not only affects our hearts but every part of our lives too.

I want to encourage others,

and I would really like to help others believe that their dreams are possible.

I want to use my time wisely,

and I would love to pay off our mortgage and be completely debt free.

I guess you could say that the past few years have been a discovery process of figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. 

And the discovery has certainly been made! :-)  

Last year I shared how I was stepping out of my comfort zone and beginning to speak at women's gatherings. It has been an honor to do that more and more over this past year. I was recently at a camp about to speak to a group of women when a friend asked me if I was nervous. I told her that I don't get as nervous as I used to, but that I'll find myself sitting in that relaxed setting...gathered with precious women...sipping coffee. Then someone is about to introduce the speaker and I find myself wondering, "I wonder who the speaker is and if she will be any good?" :-) THEN I get a little nervous. I look forward to more moments of sharing my heart and having conversations with women around the world who are influencing their home and community for Jesus one day at a time!

This past December I also began to teach essential oil classes. I never imagined how many people would be interested in learning about natural forms of healthcare. Now, I teach one class a month at a local community center and then other classes throughout the month in friends' homes. Teaching classes has literally created a snowball effect and I now run a full business out of my home as an essential oil educator. Now I once again have a whiteboard in my house that I use to plan and organize with. :-) And all of those episodes that I watched of Shark Tank & The Profit have taught me that I really am an entrepreneur at heart!

It is a joy and absolute privilege to have this little space on the web to encourage and inspire others with. I really enjoy sharing the little lessons that I am learning along the way. I am excited to continue blogging about parenting, adoption, organization and decor, while also pouring myself into teaching and parenting. I have yet to figure out how to create more time in a day to blog about the things I'm learning along the way, but I do have more posts planned for the future! Currently sharing little nuggets through Instagram has been one of my favorite things to do. In fact, you can find my secret for holding a weekly potluck in your home right here

Over the course of the next four months I will be traveling the country teaching essential oil classes. We will be taking the crew on the road for part of August before school starts (I'm already brainstorming the least amount of clothes that will be needed for everyone on this journey!) If you are interested in learning more about natural healthcare, and have never attended an essential oil class or had someone share with you the benefits of essential me to find out which states I will be visiting. 

And if you are looking for a women's speaker for your next event, I am currently looking at events taking place in 2016.

Looking forward to seeing you and learning with you along the journey!

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