Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Whole Lotta Love Around Here

Our Valentine's Day was just a cute and simple day where we tried to practice some true love. A little chocolate (or a lot, depending on the person. ahem.) lots of hugs and kisses and few themed meals. Here are the boys and our little friends Cam and Mya eating their valentine lunch.


There was also an impromptu little photo shoot with the kids the day before. I had remembered this scrap piece of fabric in my "collection"...Jake calls it something else. So of course I dropped everything at once, busted out the ironing board, tape, scissors and some valentine colored clothing, opened the blinds and told the kids to smile. Now when anyone around here mentions taking photos my kids rarely get excited or act even slightly amused. But I busted out some candy along with a couple of other small props and they were all for it. They totally cooperated and gave me a bunch of great little keepsakes. Here are a few along with a couple of reasons I love each one of these kids so much:

Cutest girl in the world, wants to help me with everything I do, always asking for hugs and a kiss and is my only baby who will snuggle and fall asleep on you.
Has some extraordinary dance moves, is always in the kitchen when food/cooking is happening and will swipe a taste of anything he can reach, gives the sweetest (and I mean sweetest!) kiss, tells me I'm his favorite mom.
His greatest goal in life is to please others, make them laugh, grace their presence with his "skills". If he could do whatever he wanted all day he'd want to have family movie time, family game time, family bike ride get the point right?

That night we had our friends over for dinner. We had little heart shaped everythings to eat including little pizzas and brownie desserts. It was a great day and I was utterly exhausted at the end of it. My sweet Jake also had a long day at school but stopped on his way home to buy me all the necessities for a hot bubble bath (which I have yet to take.) Some reasons I love that guy:

1. He never fails to tell me I'm a great mother and wife.
2. He notices the little things that I do to make our house a home and never points out the things I don't do.
3. He gets up with the kids in the middle of the night. (How many moms can say that?!)
4. He takes time to make each of our children feel loved and special.
5. He is a wonderful partner in this business we have of raising children and an outstanding partner in our marriage.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Simple Chore Cards with Free printable

I started watching a pair of kiddos back in September to make a little extra cash. Let me tell you, it's been hard going from two incomes to none and budgeting off of school loans. Obviously we want to keep our loans to a minimum. It's especially hard that Jake can't work (did you know he signs papers at the beginning of law school that say he won't hold a job his first year?! Serious business) and it wouldn't be worth working for me just to pay for the outrageous cost of childcare anyways.

So when I was approached with the offer to pick up a few days every week for this brother and sister I took it in an instant! It works out great because my kids have playmates all afternoon. They keep each other busy and have fun together. The downside to 5 kids in the house on any given day is the constant tattling, constant want of snacks and TV, and especially the chaos and mess it brings.

Since being back from the holidays things have really settled down and we feel like we're back on a pretty good schedule. However we are shaking things up a bit though because the gal who I share babysitting with is moving at the end of the week out of state. DANG YOU KATIE! I'm only mad because they're such great friends, we'll miss them a lot.

So as of next week I'll have the kids 5 days a week until we find a proper replacement. Not to mention the full days we'll be together during the summer. I've stressed about this a little (a lot) because, honestly, I want to like these kids at the end of each week, mine included!!! As I sat and thought what would help the process run smoothly I decided that the kids could start pitching in at the house by doing a job every day. We sat down last week and came up with a list of jobs and I snatched some basic clip art from the web to make some cards for them to draw/pick from every day. I'd be happy to share them with you, click this link to get the document. I'd love more ideas so leave them in the comments if you have any and I'll add to the document and update it on the blog!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Years Resolution 2013: Service

As 2012 came to an end I started to think about what my resolution for the new year would be. Lots of themes came to mind but the one that kept repeating in my mind was the theme of service. I believe that serving others helps us to forget about ourselves and our own problems a bit. In the spirit of living in the present and recognizing blessings in every day life I feel that trying to be of service will help me grow closer to God as I assist in fulfilling the needs of others.

This is going to be difficult for me. Not because I don't like helping people but because I fill my time with so many things, so many projects and tasks that I think it'd be easier for me to "serve later". This is true when it comes to my family especially. I get really busy with every day tasks, cleaning, DIYs, playdates, etc that I forget about the needs of my own children sometimes. I love Mr. Rogers quote, "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." If there's one thing I'm absolutely HORRIBLE at it is playing with my own kids. When they grow up I'm sure I'll be a super awesome mom, that is, if they want to help me with  my projects or go on bike rides with me. Stuff like that. But I don't know a whole lot of teenagers who like to hang out with their parents. I KNOW THIS! But I forget it every day that their childhood is so SHORT! So top service priority is to my children.

Second priority (sorry Jake) is to my husband. He goes to school every day, all day. And reads. He reads so many cases and law school things (maybe I could serve him by engaging myself in his work a little more and actually knowing what he's learning about?? eh?). There have been times already this year that he comes home and throws his coat on the table chair. Ok, so every day he does this. And I grunt a little and remind myself to serve I don't say a word and just hang it up in the closet. Then (this happens a lot) he asks me where his coat is. I could expect him to hang it up every day or I can notice that after he tosses his jacket, he heads straight to the kids to play with them and love on them. I want to find as many little ways to serve that man as I can because I LOVE him. I love everything (mostly) he does. Because just about everything he does is for his family. He serves me in so many ways even though his work load is cuh-razy. Seriously. 

If I can master these top two priorities (doubt it but that's why we make resolutions right?) then maybe we'll throw in some food bank and blood donation visits.

But seriously, if I can do anything for you, just let me know ;) Plus you'll be in my prayers so I might just do something for you without you asking. Don't be offended if I wash your car while you're not looking. I don't think you're dirty, I just want to SERVE you! right?!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Years Resolutions: This one paid off.

Two years ago I made the resolution to live in the present. Since the time we had both graduated from college in Dec 2007 life was full of unknowns. We were in and out of work for the next couple of years. Living paycheck to paycheck. Trying to be creative and save money (if there was ever even enough left over to save). Sound familiar to anyone? I was always looking forward to "next year".

This time next year we might have a solid career. 
This time next year maybe we'll be able to buy a house.
This time next year let's get a dog.
This time next year we'll have time to go on dates.

And on and on and on.

At the time of making this resolution I was a few months along pregnant with Adele. Jake and I both had landed new jobs. Things were looking good. We were going in a direction of settling down and living our happy, humble little life. Well you should know that when you make an honest resolution, it will be tested. That year felt good. I focused really hard on enjoying my life every day and trying to recognized the Lord's hand in our life every day. I was feeling happier and more positive about my life in general. We upgraded and bought a mini-van (my lifelong dream. NOT! but i love it now) Our sweet girl, Adele, was born. We took our first vacation as a little family that summer. We moved into a new house that fall.

Fast forward to the end of 2011 Jake was unexpectedly and abruptly laid off from work. He had been working there for just over a year. During that year we owned our own business which was going so-so. We were never "in the red" but because of lack of funding, finances and time it just never truly grew at a pace that we were comfortable with. As he was working with this company he was trying to make some career decisions for the future. Do we drop the businesses that we sacrificed literally everything for? Did we give it another unknown and doubted year in the economy we were in? He really started to get in to what he was doing at his other job but slowly started to feel vibes that he wasn't going to last there for whatever reason....(it all makes sense NOW, but not then) In late spring/early summer 2011 he started to be really prayerful about what was next for him and our family.  He started to throw out the idea of going back to school. I wasn't for it. We had two kids at the time and one on the way. We just bought car. He was at a job that he enjoyed with opportunity to learn.  I had a job that could help hold us over for a bit. And we were one year owners of two businesses with hopes to make a life out of it. NO WAY! I wasn't ready to just dump it all.

He came home from a church event for the men (a stake priesthood session) one night and I asked him what the topics were and what his impressions were. The first thing he told me was that they talked about continuing education. My first reaction was to resist the idea even more. But as he talked about the night, I felt in my heart that this is what he needed. What our family needed. We had lived the past couple of years with lots of insecurities. Hoping that something would work out. And holy cow did we learn and grow more than we had ever hoped for.

The following weeks were full of prayer for guidance for us. We made a trip to the temple, we fasted a couple of Sundays. Jake had made a decision in the direction of law school and was looking for a sign that going back to school was the right thing to do. One Sunday not too long after the search for answers began we were at church. Jake was walking down the hall and our Bishop (the priesthood leader in our ward we attended) called to Jake to come see him in his office. He sat Jake down to ask him if he'd thought about going back to school at all. Jake was surprised at this question and answered that in fact he had thought about it. A lot. The Bishop, a man Jake has a ton of respect for, then went on to say something to the effect that he thought Jake would make a good attorney, and so on. He felt in his heart that the decision he made was GOOD! He felt the love of the Lord surge through him to confirm this decision. That afternoon when we got home Jake told me our prayers had been answered. All he needed was a confirmation, in any form, and he had received it.

Well Jake started to prepare to take the LSAT, because honestly, you can't really get any further in law school life until that big test is over. Obviously we didn't know if he'd get in to law school at this point but it's the answer that we had received so Jake started to take the steps. We didn't tell anyone about it until the end of the year which is when the LSAT was scheduled. We were afraid he'd get tanked at work, which he did. When that actually happened though, we were hurt. We knew it might happen but never thought it would happen the way it did. We tried to move on as gracefully as we could and had a wonderful Christmas season with Jake home all the time. I was able to pick up more hours at work. We prayed daily for patience in the Lord's plan for us and for forgiveness in our hearts.

The first part of 2012 went by in a flash and before we knew it Jake had received scores for his LSAT, he had applied to numerous schools and we waited as rejection and acceptance letters trickled in. The excitement of being able to pick from more than a few schools started to settle in and we scoured the internet in search of the perfect fit for us. When we decided on Southern California it all came down to three schools. Two in San Diego and one in Ontario. As we went through the process of narrowing down our pros and cons it was as if we stood in front of one door at a time. As we prayed and pondered the door would open and we would clearly see the answer. Just beyond that was another door. Each decision was this way and I can see so clearly now (and towards the end) that Heavenly Father prepared us over the last few years for this experience. We learned to rely on Him and care for each other in a way that I will always be thankful for!!

I don't know how we make it without learning to live each day to the fullest. I can say without a doubt that I've learned to recognize daily blessings in my life. I'm a happier person for it. At a point where I thought maybe I was struggling with depression I made this resolution and feel so blessed for doing so. Of course I still have days where I struggle and forget to remember what this life is really about. I have shallow moments, judgmental moments, selfish moments. Ok....maybe even more than moments. But if I keep the lines of communication open with Heavenly Father I am reminded of what a blessed and joyful life I have.