Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brag on my hubster

As you might recall, I am a stay-at-home mom as of this school year.  We are so blessed that Justin has a job that more than covers our needs PLUS he is a coach and team leader which earn him a bit extra cash.  I have also been given the opportunity to watch a friend's sweet baby while she is at work to gain a bit extra cha-ching for the bank account.  When we sat down to look at the budget the other night, I was in tears as Justin told me that his base salary alone covered every bit of our expenses and savings PLUS extra that he didn't know what to do with.  And on top of that we have his stipends and my extra earnings. God is good all the time, ya'll.

Anyways, because I stay-at-home, I'm, well...at home a lot.  I'm still in the adjustment phase of the whole "I wipe rear ends for a living" stage of my life.  Some days I love it, some days I tolerate it.  I miss my students like crazy but love being with my little one.  I spend a lot of my days at our kitchen table with Easton saying "no, no throwing food on the floor" or "no, no hiding food in your lap".  While we sit, this is what I see:
I guess I'm giving a bit away about my husband here...but this is where he comes early in the morning while I am still pressing the snooze button every 9 minutes and Little Bit is (praise the Lord) still in dreamland to pray and spend time with the Lord.  One day when I was alone at home, I walked into the kitchen and caught a glimpse of this and it struck me differently than it does on most days.  I have a fantastic husband.  Fantastic.  This is obviously a glimpse at the main reason: his love for Christ comes first.  I have lots of others so the rest of this post is dedicated to that.

1. He can't touch anything in the kitchen or bathroom without needing to at least rinse his hands.  It's hilarious and so cute.  I make fun of him for it but it's actually one of my favorite quirks of his.

2. Yesterday, he came home and Easton went straight for him.  I love it.  Justin then spent his first chunk of time crawling around on the floor chasing Easton and making him give those sweet baby giggles.

3. He takes care of the yard, finances, and dishes.  I cook, he washes.  I couldn't even tell you how we pay our bills.  I don't touch em.  In the game of life, I win.

4. Last year during baseball, a mom came up to me to tell me how much she appreciated Justin.  Justin's grandfather passed away on a game day and Justin spent his team huddle talking about a scripture he had read that morning and how it had affected him when he heard the news.  The mom said her son came home talking about how great Coach Nichols is and she just wanted to thank him for being a man of integrity.  Sadly, most athletes (especially male athletes) don't know what it's like to have a coach that doesn't cuss at them or scream and humiliate them.  He's EXACTLY the type of man that should be teaching and coaching high school kids.
5. He knows more about Aggie football and Astros baseball than ANYONE.  Quiz him.  He's a beast.

6. He is the perfect height for me.  He can kiss me on the forehead without looking up or looking down.  This was a middle school dream of mine.  Seriously.  (and that's why I don't teach middle school...that's the age when everyone is dumb as rocks)
7. He loves my cooking--almost everything, at least.  There was a homemade marinara sauce disaster and a beef and broccoli mishap that he tried to get through for me.  But everything else, he's so appreciative for.  I love to cook him something special because he gets so excited. 

8. He likes me.  He actually likes me.  Do you ever feel totally unloveable?  I do.  But he loves me.  He chooses to spend time as a family over almost anything else.  I definitely think that's a characteristic of a strong man and my man's got it.

9. He watches Downton Abbey with me.  And is just as obsessed as me.  (omg...have you seen the new season preview?!  Too much greatness for me to handle.)

10.  He always complements my housework.  Ya'll, my life is lame now.  I spend the day playing with babies, trying to keep them asleep, and cleaning.  I feel worthless a lot of time...but he notices what I do.  That's such a blessing.  He even complements me when I come back exhausted from a run.  He's actually proud of me for the lame things I do all day.

11.  He makes me laugh.  All. the. time.

12.  He prays diligently.  For me, for Easton, for our friends.  For example, we recently had friends tell us they were pregnant after giving up on the idea of ever conceiving after doctors told them it couldn't happen.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it.  After they told us the news, Justin congratulated them and said "I was thinking about y'all today."  I knew what he meant.  He meant he'd been praying for them that day.  In fact, he's prayed that same prayer for a co-worker of mine and her husband and friends from church.  He's so incredibly diligent and thoughtful even in his prayer life.

13.  He's an Aggie.  Laugh all you want but we take our school seriously down in College Station, Texas.  Aggies breed other Aggies...and I can not imagine being married to a Tiger (bleh) or a Raider (double bleh) or, heaven help us, a Longhorn (blehhhhhhhhhh).  I'm only partially kidding on this one...
Senior year at A&M...look how young we look
14.  He's soooo fine.  He is definitely my cup of tea.  (remember those same old dumb middle school days when you said things like "fine" and "hott" in your perfectly folded and decorated notes??)

I hate it when people say "my husband's the BEST" on facebook because I know there are LOTS of great men out there and each one is a fit for his wife.  What I will say about my husband is he is IT for me.  There's no one better for me and he's my forever.  I love that kid.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm a mom of a one year old??

This time last year, I had just held my little one for the first time.  I'm still amazed at what the Lord has done through this last year.  But, I'm saving the sappy post for when I have the pictures of his part-ay to show you.  But looking back on this year there are two rather selfish things I wanted to mention:

1) I have officially nursed my son for one. whole. year.  Anyone who has nursed, even for a shorter time frame, knows that that is a miracle.  I pumped for 9 months while I was working and was fortunate enough to meet Easton's needs every day.  I loved every second of nursing (and hated every second of pumping).  For some mothers, it just isn't their thing or it just doesn't go smoothly.  I TOTALLY understand that whatever works for your family is what is best for your kid.  My mom formula-fed us for most of our first year and I think I turned out okay (I guess I shouldn't really be the judge of that, though).  But for us, nursing was just our cup of tea.  Easton was a pro from the time he first tried and he loved the slow pace it gave us.  And by slow I mean sssllllooowww.  I don't know if it was him or me, but we enjoyed LOTS of mommy-Easton time during our extremely long nursing sessions.  I'm no expert because I've just had the one little goober, but I am going to write a post on what worked for us sometime soon.

2) I have also officially lost the baby weight.  Miracle.  The thing that saved my body is that I didn't let myself go nuts while I was pregnant.  That whole eat for two thing?  Lies.  You only need 300 more calories a day than normal in your second and third trimester (and no extra calories in your first).  That's a candy bar extra a day.  I definitely did not watch my calories, but I ate when I was hungry, controlled my cravings, and snacked on healthier options (most times). 

I am not going to lie--I did splurge here and there and let those extra calories come and more.  Have you ever had a hamburger that has grilled cheese sandwiches (yes, plural) instead of buns?  Get pregnant and go find you one.  It will change your life.  What I was careful to do, though, is to only consume meals like that once in a blue moon.  I ate like I normally did, still exercised, and gained a healthy amount of weight (doctors suggest between 25-35 pounds if you are at a healthy weight pre-pregnancy, a little less if you are  overweight). 

As I say that, please know that some women can watch what they eat and still gain more than 35 pounds.  Each body is different and knows how much extra cushion you need.  There is way too much judgement in the world towards women and it only heightens when you become a mother.  Trust me, no judgement here.  If you want to gain 60 pounds and eat what you want, please do.  And eat some macaroni and cheese for me.  Here's me 4 days before Easton decided he was done cooking:
Whenever I look at these pictures, I remember how dang hard it was to breath at that point.  Everything felt squished inside and I couldn't get around.  I was a freakin tank.  I feel tired just thinking about it.

The day before my delivery, I weighed in at 182 at the doctor's office, which was 28 pounds above my starting weight of 142.  Four weeks postpartum, the same scale marked me in at 146.  And the best part about that?  I did nothing to drop the weight but breastfeed.  The most exercise I got was sweeping the floor, and even that felt like running a marathon.  I am lucky to have a body that took care of it for me because I sure was not about to do anything more than was necessary for survival at that point in my life. 

Unfortunately, I hung around 146-148 for the next 10 months.  I couldn't seem to get rid of the ugly extra softness that had gathered around my waist.  I ran off and on but it is so hard to work-out when you are working mom of an infant.  Too hard.  Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt gross (even though I know it wasn't as bad as I thought) and would get frustrated that I couldn't lose the weight.  I just wanted to get back to 142.

Can I be honest for a second?  I shouldn't weigh 142 normally.  I love food.  Like, I LOVE food.  And the food I love is cheesy burritos, peperoni pizza, mac-n-cheese, and anything with at least a bazillion grams of fat.  I ALWAYS keep the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in my pantry just in case I need (yes, need) to make some.  I wasn't blessed with that "eat like a bird" gene that most women have that makes them love salads and things like cherry tomatoes.  I have never watched what I ate (is that grammatically correct? eaten? Whatevs).  If I craved something, I ate it.  I didn't go nuts with my portions, but I ate as much as a wanted.  Most of the time, I ate the same amount of food that Justin would eat.  And he's 6'2".  I've always known that I could weigh less if I just watched what and how much I put in my pie hole.

I feel like a little kid for this (be honest...you all went out and were determined to be a gymnast after 1996 and the famous one-leg vault), but the Olympics were what spurred me on.  I was watching these amazing athletes and thinking about my cushion-y self, and knew I had to change.  I started running at least two miles at least 3 times a week and following that run with a pilates video.  I also finally started using the MyFitnessPal app to track what I ate.  I watched my calories for the first time EVER and in the first week, saw my waist line change.  My abs decided to be less floppy and my extra hip cushion finally realized it was not needed and started to shrink. 

Four weeks later, I was down to 140 from 148.  Woohoo.  I feel better about myself than I have in a long, long time.  My clothes fit well, my legs look more muscular, and I've already seen that I am satisfied with smaller portions.  I choose things like raisins, fruit, and healthy nuts for snacks.  I have never been able to keep up with my "healthy eating" kicks as long as I have this time.  There are certain food that still make my mouth water like the thought of a slice of pizza, but other things that I loved (like the grilled cheese sandwich heart attack burger) just don't sound appetizing anymore.  I haven't weight myself in a while, but I am hoping to drop another 5 pounds.  That may not be realistic for me because I have weighed 140ish since 10th grade.  We shall see--I will be content with 140 as long as that means that I am healthy.

Anyways, how's that for a ridiculously "tooting my own horn" type of post?  I promise I'll be less obnoxious from here on out and only brag about my son.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Working motherhood

So what's new with me?

Well... I quit my job. Sorta. I declined my contract for next year officially today. I am now a stay at home mom! On a teacher's salary...a leap of faith for us but one we know is right. I finally worked up the courage to tell all of my students so it's finally official in my heart, too. I could write a post on how heavy my heart is to leave the opportunity to hang out with 150 kids on a daily basis (because it's heavy) or how much I hate to give up my fantastic job. But the post on my students would be a MILLION times longer. They are the only good thing about teaching. And if one more person who is not a teacher has a conversation with me about how jealous they are of my summer, I may punch them in the face. Yes it's awesome, but until you teach, you will never realize how you can't live without it and continue to come back every year.

But none of that is what I want to post about. I want to talk about being a working mom. And not being a working mom. In the past year, I have learned so much about mothering and about working moms. The biggest thing I have discovered is

 You feel guilty if you do AND guilty if you don't.

Society has us trained to look over our shoulders at every turn as we parent.  Is my kid eating like hers? No. Is my kid crawling like hers? No. Look how much better our child behaves than theirs. Riiight. Should I breastfeed? Should I use a pacifier? Should I put him in a crib? Should I? What if? Ugh.  Nothing you ever do is right to everyone.  And every mother can admit they have fallen victim to the judgment bug as you watch other mothers.  We're part of the problem.

And the absolute BIGGEST guilt trip you can be placed on is whether or not to work.  And no matter what your decision, you feel guilty.  When you choose to work, it's the constant desire to be with your child mixed with the looks from mom's who stay at home and teach their kid to read at age 2 and long division at 3.  And their kid always: sleeps through the night, eats their veggies, listens the first time, shares, and never writes on the walls in crayons.  When you choose to stay at home, you watch the other mothers who work and think "Am I pulling my weight with our family finances?  Does anyone even notice my contribution?  What good is my degree when I use it to wipe dirty faces and pick up legos? How far behind will I be when I chose to go back to work?" 

But do you know the OTHER biggest thing I learned this year?

It's okay.

The Lord calls us to different paths.  And. that. is. okay.

Some of us are called to serve our families within our home on a daily basis.  Some of us are called to work a bit outside the home.  Some of us are called to wake up every morning and leave our home to fulfill another calling.  And you know what?  It's okay for any of those mothers to LOVE their calling
 but sometimes long for what they are missing.  Feeding their child lunch or having lunch meetings.  Sweatpants or pantsuits.  I have learned that God can call you to what you are supposed to do and you should trust that calling.

I know, without a minute hesitation, that I was called to work this year.  And I hated it and loved it every day.  We prayed over that decision for months and months and the Lord revealed to us what I was supposed to do in many ways.  And now, He has revealed a new path for me to take.

Whatever your decision, trust the Lord has you in that for a reason and take full pleasure in that role.  Only a mother knows that your heart can be torn even as you do take full pleasure in your role, whichever it may be. 

And to those of us who are watching that mother and her family make that difficult choice, save your judgment and support.  Encourage her decision to work by telling her she can do it, it's not that difficult, and I will be here to help you whenever you need.  Encourage her decision to stay home by telling her congratulations and the Lord will provide.

Now back to grading papers.  Only 6 more days.  Then I am d.o.n.e.  But in 6 days I won't be around kid like these anymore.  Who am I kidding?  I'm sure I'll be back to write the post about how much I'll miss them.  I even had a student make a video for me, interviewing tons of my old and current students about how much they'll miss me.  I am going to miss the heck out of them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year

As I is and write this, my FOUR (sigh) month old baby is sleeping and I'm cringing through another night of fireworks.  And no, that date stamp isn't wrong.  It's January 2nd and some lovely person is STILL shooting off fireworks.  Every pop makes me worry my baby will awaken.  I'll be the first to admit, I am a party pooper.  Always have been.  It sucks to live with me (sorry Micaela, the rest of my family, Lindsey, Bridget, Ashley, Reba, and Kiki).  I'm the person who is always worried about getting sleep and quiet.  You know that annoying person who tells people that are having fun, enjoying life to be quiet?  That's this girl (*points both thumbs to chest*). It doesn't surprise me one bit that the old lady would come out it in me when every person in our neighborhood spends a bajillion bucks on fireworks to shoot off on New Years.  Granted, I knew it would happen and held the old lady in and thought the 25 year old in me won out until our neighbors came out at 11:45 on the 31st, blasted that new fangled rap music from their automobiles, and then at midnight, set off a box of blackcats.  Not a few.  A freakin box.  In the street.  Right outside Easy's window.  Thanks, guys.  Plus, we have firework trash in our yard.  Those hooligans. (Seriously, they are great, quiet neighbors--this was a one time event) It's funny how your feelings change when a baby is in the house.

In other news, Easton is sleeping in his big boy room now (sigh, again) and consistently sleeping through the night.  Bless his heart.  At this stage in his life, he's LOVING his Bumbo chair because he loves to sit up.  He is also starting to grab at things...or at least try to grab at things.  He has a play gym that he lays under and he tries to grab the animals above him but they move whenever he touches them.  He's precious because he gets his concentration face on and reaches as best he can to the animal (current favorite is the Lion but the giraffe is making a move for his affection), but inevitably his poor coordination causes the choice animal to move out of his little hand.  He'll try for a few more seconds and then throw his arms out and straighten his body out as he lets out the sweetest grunt of frustration.  But Mama didn't raise no quitter- once he gets the frustration out, he's back to trying.  Also, he rolled over 3 times.  However, I'm pretty sure he did it on accident.  It sure is easy to gain momentum when your head is such a huge portion of your body!

In other family news, Justin has about a month before baseball season starts which will last until May.  It's a long time for me to think about, but it may help the year go by faster.  He's excited because he gets to play everyday after school .

Also, I had my first Pinterest failure.  You've probably seen the One Pot Mac N Cheese floating around and you may have even pinned it.  Go right this second and un-pin it.  It was nas-d.  Neither one of us liked it.

(And lastly, this is seriously not a brag but a praise...trust me, I am still a pathetic waste in comparison to what I should be. Yay for grace)  In August, we bought a CR-V for me to drive and paid for it straight up.  Nothing makes you feel like an adult more than writing a check for the full value of a car.  We sold my junky car for more money than we had expected.  In fact, we had planned on donating it but searched several options and had zero promising hits.  So, the budgeters in us who name every penny and save my entire salary saw these extra dollar signs and got giddy.  Oh the things we could save for!  New carpet??  New couches?? Put it towards an eventual new car for Justin?  So fun.  I was contemplating it one day alone and the Lord brought the couple in Acts who sold their land to my mind.  Every time I thought of the money, I thought of this couple.  Let me just say this: God can be scary.  They freakin dropped dead.  Like instantly.  Not because they didn't give it all but because they said they gave it all and didn't.  I know that the Lord calls us to be good stewards of what He has given us.  Sometimes, that means selling a car and putting the money in the budget.  This time, however, He told us to give it to Him.  So we did.  Now I know that seems dumb.  You may be thinking "you wanted to donate it anyways, braggy woman."  But we are seriously such sticklers about our budget that this meant getting ahead in some categories.  To give it all meant a lot.  And I am thankful for the step of faith.  Now, I don't have one of those stories where I can say "The next day, we received a check that was EXACTLY the amount we had given!"  But I can say it is a sweet thing to obey what the Lord calls you to do.  Like I said, He's scary...but He loves me.  Unconditionally.  With a passion.  And that love is something worth obeying.  If He wants the money, He can have it.  Like the lovely Dave Barnes sings, "there ain't a thing we need that Heaven forgot.  It was given, babe.  It was given."

(Do you know Dave?  You should.  He's the bomb.  Check him out.  Plus, he's hilarious.  Every time I see him in concert or watch one of his youtube videos, it reaffirms my belief that we should be BFFs.  Plus, he ROCKS Christmas and this was his song before country music crapped on in it.)