What Up

I'd be interested to see how many of my posts include the phrase "life is so crazy right now". I bet it's a lot. None of the craziness of life in the past can match how crazy it is right now though. Life is straight up trippin' at this point.

As you probably already saw, our family is moving to Northwest Arkansas in about five weeks. F I V E weeks. When you have a thousand kids and your husband works all day and almost every day, that's insane. Brian has been logging a ton of extra hours so we can get our moving fund saved, which means I'm logging a ton of extra hours with the kids. Wine, Jesus, coffee, naps. That's all I can say.

The kids have been pretty excited about our "big adventure" as we are calling it. We've been staying really positive about the whole process, while at the same time keeping it real, letting them see our sadness about leaving friends and family, and talking openly about the hard parts of big change. The boys are mostly just excited for all the weird bugs and dangerous snakes they're going to see. Bella is the more emotional one, although she's been pretty focused on the horse ranch we found where she will be getting back into riding lessons.

Everyone has been posting their first day of school photos, both public and home school friends, and I'm like...........................I can't even.

Normally I'd be freaking out a little bit about not being on top of everything, but all I have is peace. I'll order some books and get started with the whole homeschool thing once we get out there. Anything I do now will end up being pointless since we are in such a "limbo" right now, and the last thing I need is added stress. That's the point of homeschooling, right? Flexibility, yo.

Some of you lovely readers of mine have asked how I am surviving these extra long days and even longer weeks in the heat of summer with four kids. The answer is: barely.

I kid.

I'm actually feeling like I'm thriving right now. I can't take any credit for that though, it really is all the Lord. Every night I hit my pillow hard and thank Him for getting me to this point, and every morning when I wake up I feel pretty refreshed and ready to log another day. This is very unlike me, so that's how I know He's helpin' out.

Having my gym membership has helped a lot. Almost every day I pack the kids up and drop them at kids care for 45 minutes while I hit the treadmill. They love getting out of the heat and playing with toys and friends, and I love the energy running every day is giving me. Plus, having my focus on my fitness goals when everything around me is changing has been a huge help.

We've also been swimming at my parents' house a few times a week. Since we know we won't be able to see them all the time anymore, it's been really special to spend all this time at their house. They have been a big help, having us for dinner, playing with the kids, and giving me a little break here and there.

I go through spurts where I want to be super busy every day and others where I just want to linger at home in my pajamas all day, and I've just been rolling with how I feel.

Last week we did nothing but swim and linger over cups of coffee and our Super Nintendo station. This week we've already driven to LA to celebrate my grandma's birthday, been to the gym three times, and shopped Costco by myself with all the kids. I'm learning to just go with what I feel is good for me each day, and not to expect too much of myself. I do what I can do, and it's always enough.

So that's our life lately. Thought a little update would be good although now I'm wondering who would care to read this.... and so goes blogging, ha. Until next time, lovelies!

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Peaks of the Week

I wanted to skip my Peaks post this week. I had every excuse to...

I have been beyond overwhelmed.
I need to be cleaning my house, not writing.
I can't think of any peaks right off the top of my head.
Even if I could think of some, I don't feel like focusing on the positives of this past week; I'd honestly rather sulk at a pity party thrown by me, for me.

I was doing dishes, contemplating all these things when little Hudson ran up to me with his tennis shoes and a huge smile on his face asking, "Mommy! Can you put deez on fo me?" I knelt down to slip them on and watched him run outside, led by his siblings, where they all jumped on the swing set laughing at each other.

Why do I keep having to learn the lesson of gratitude?
How many women daydream of this moment I'm standing in with an ungrateful heart?

I left the dishes, poured myself another cup of coffee, put the baby down for his nap and now here I am, writing and looking back on the past seven days, ready to find the positives. Because life is so stinkin' short and so stinkin' good, and I'll be damned if I let this week start without being grateful for these days, even the hard ones. So here we go.

1) A new book and lazy mornings. There's nothing like taking a break from all the parenting and marriage books and treating yourself to a fresh new novel. Escaping to Paris in the 1920's and diving into Hemingway's life has been such a treat for me. This week I let myself be lazy every single morning, and it was fantastic. Not scheduling anywhere to go or anything to do in the mornings is a sweet gift to yourself when you're barely getting by. I really enjoyed it, but I am now refreshed enough to get back to keeping busy, which really helps my mood :)

2) My littlest brother Caleb, who is fifteen, slept over mid-week, bringing with him my parents' dog, Maggie- the only dog in the whole world that I love [I'm a hardcore cat lady]. We stayed up till 2am playing Donkey Kong and making silly videos, laughing until our cheeks ached. Brian woke up early and made us all a delicious breakfast before heading off to work, and it was a really nice way to break up the week.

3) In-N-Out. 'Nuff said.

4) All this hard work we are doing together, all this planning for our adventure, and all this life we are doing together has been pushing Brian and I so much closer. I don't think I have ever felt our bond this strong in the decade we've spent as a couple. I have become more thankful for him, I have seen just how dedicated he is to our family, and how wholly he loves me. As hard as the past few weeks have been, it's been so good for our marriage.

So there's my peaks. As always, please feel free to share yours with me!

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Peaks of the Week

I am really excited that this week is over. I know I'm supposed to be "soaking up every minute" of this season and "carpe diem" and all that crap. But the thing about my blog is that I like to keep things real. And I am so glad this week is over. I didn't carpe any of the last seven diems, and I have no regrets.

My reason is this: overtime. My kryptonite.

Pepper gets me. 

Brian always works plenty of overtime, but this week was the start of even more extra hours. There's a big change on the horizon, and it feels like God is moving it closer and closer to us, and we feel the urgency to get ready. We will need a lot of extra money, and to save that money, you guessed it.....overtime. There should be about a month of crazy hours, and I am counting down the weeks.

Week one: check. 

Yay for conquering week one!

Even though my days were so long and lonely each one felt like two, there were surely some peaks!

1) A sweet reader sent me a present, which is my love language, and it made my whole week. I've had my eye on this mug for awhile now, and having it arrive in my mailbox brought the biggest smile to my face. Thank you, Jacquelynn!

"Raising tiny humans is exhausting" mug from Wee Structed (buy here)

2) My parents have a saltwater swimming pool and they live ten minutes from us. This has made for a great summer, and really saved me this last week. I will be relying on their pool a whole lot throughout the rest of all this overtime. They have also been super gracious by having us over for lunch or dinner a whole bunch of days. Being able to talk to my mom while the kids play with my siblings and catch a little break has made a huge difference. I think my kids will always remember this summer as the season we spent almost every day with Mimi & Papi, and I love that :)

3) I set myself free from something that was really holding me down. We will be homeschooling again this year (after a temporary break that began halfway through last year), but with this big impending change, I haven't been able to or even wanted to start planning out our school year. There really isn't a point until I know for sure what's going on with our family the rest of the year. I had a big list of things to do- buy a planner, order curriculum, get supplies, move the furniture around to accommodate schooling in the living room, etc- and after much stress, I let it go. I figured one of the main reasons I'm homeschooling is the freedom it brings our family, and this year I need the freedom to not start the school year when everyone else does. I gifted myself that, and I immediately felt lighter.

4) I've been putting all my extra time and energy into training for my 5k at the gym, and I can feel myself getting faster, stronger, and better. All the exercise I did last week really helped me be in a good mood. Endorphins, yo!

That's it for this week! As I enjoy Brian's one day off (Sunday) and gear up to tackle week two of overtime, I am taking a deep breath and praying for the strength to not only get through, but thrive and do motherhood well.

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Peaks of the Week [in the middle of the week...]

Hi lovelies!

So I know the point of my "peaks" posts are to give sort of a weekend roundup and share what's been goin' on with me and my herd. I also know I haven't been very on it lately and I have much to share so, I decided I'd bend the rules (it is my blog right?) and just sum up life lately on a Tuesday. Livin' on the edge over here, people. Look out.

I come with good news... Hudson is officially and completely 100% potty trained! Yaaaaaaaaaay! He really put me through the ringer! Bella and Leland both took to the new way of life pretty easily, but my little Buggy just takes a lot longer to embrace change I guess. It's so much nicer (and cheaper) now with just one in diapers. Fist bump for a mom life victory!

We've been going to the beach a lot. My favorite thing to do as a family!

Emmett has started boppin' when he hears a song he likes. Although it's mostly his right leg that does the dancing....

Emmett is also now sitting in the cart on our errands (only sometimes because I love wearing my baby).

We went to see Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages in LA, which has been a dream of mine since I was six-years-old and my parents brought me the soundtrack after they went to see it. It was amazing!

Our days spent at home are my most favorite. 

In other news, I have done absolutely zero preparing for our right-around-the-corner homeschool year and I've been slacking in the blog department because my life has been turned upside down by a gigantic, looming change. I don't want to be annoying or leave you in the dark (is there anything more annoying than when someone shares but doesn't share??) but if you've been on my Facebook page recently you may have an idea of what's up. God has been placing something B I G on our hearts, and recently some things we've been waiting and praying for have fallen into place. Doors have flung open and peace has been given to us, so right now we are just holding our breath and dying to know if this is it and if God is really gonna call us to where we think He is. Eeeeeek! I promise I'll share everything once I know for certain what the heck is going on!

God has been moving in mighty ways in my heart. He has really been molding and shaping me, and it's been very difficult. I've cried a lot and held onto my desires with a death grip, and let go, then grabbed onto them again and again and again. Right now I am all calm and peaceful and surrendered. But I guarantee you, because I am that human, I will be gripping on again later this week if I don't purposefully command my flesh to stay at the foot of the cross. Dying to yourself is as brutal as it sounds.

One thing God has recently showed me about myself is that I tend to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich when I feel Him calling me to do something hard or against the grain. He laid a phrase on my heart one day when I finally pulled my head up and looked to see His face, and it revealed so much about who I am.

"You say 'I will follow You anywhere', but if it's somewhere you don't want to go, you ignore my voice."


I've said before that as frustrated as I get with my defiant son, I understand him so much. I am God's strong-willed child, and I am in desperate need of shaping.

It feels good to be honest about what God has been doing in me lately, even if no one really reads all those words I just typed, that's okay. When I write it, it becomes more concrete in my spirit, and it's like the lessons I have been learning are officially completed. At least it feels that way.

I love you guys. Thanks for coming to this little space of mine on the giant that is the Internet.

(don't forget to follow me on Instagram if you're not already!)

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When Your Husband is Discouraged

It's so easy to be self-centered, especially in marriage. I find that my relationship with my husband exposes all my worst flaws sometimes. Being so incredibly close to and intimate with another person, living together, raising kids together, seeing all of each other's ins and outs all works together to bring out our very best as well as our very worst. I'd say one of my ugliest flaws is how my selfishness can show itself when my husband needs me the most.

When I'm going through a hard time, I am always grateful for how sweet, understanding, and comforting my husband is. He's a very giving, naturally selfless person. I, however, have found myself to be very selfish when the time comes that he needs me. Not all the time- there have certainly been times when I've set myself aside and was there for him when he needed me- but in general, I tend to be irritated rather than understanding when Brian is discouraged, down, or struggling with something. It's my first natural reaction, my fleshly response to him needing something from me. 

Brian and I have recently been going through a time of uncertainty based on a job promotion that may or may not come through. Although I trust that God's will will come to be because of prayer, Brian feels a great burden to perform well and be perfect at work. He feels the burden of his responsibility for whether or not he gets a better position at work. When the timing we were hoping for didn't come through, he became very discouraged, and I became frustrated, not with him but with the situation. Seeing my disappointment in the situation, Brian took the blame for it and sank to a low place of discouragement. Through prayer, God showed me a lot about my husband and what it is he needed in this hard time.

When life happens and it doesn't go as planned, a man can become very discouraged very easily. Men tend to define themselves by what they do for work, and how their job is going, so when something in life, especially in that area of his world, isn't going well- money problems, not getting a promotion at work, feeling inferior in the workplace, feeling unappreciated at home or elsewhere, etc.- it affects him on a deep, personal level. It affects him at his core. How a wife handles herself in her marriage when her husband is struggling with deep discouragement can make all the difference in the world. We have so much power over our husbands! We have the power to build them up to towering and confident or to tear them into dust, just with our words, body language, and response to situations. That is an incredibly powerful fact. 

So how do you use this power for good while balancing your flesh? What do you do when your husband is discouraged? What do you do with your own feelings of frustration when the man you're married to clearly needs affirmation?
  • Be on his team. Encourage unity in your marriage by taking on your husband's worries as your own. As hard as it may be, don't just keep to your own stuff and leave him to deal with the problem on his own. Don't just tell him you'll pray for him then exit the situation. Get down in the mud with him, be by his side, pray with him, pray over him, lay hands on him, cry with him. Show him you're a team and he isn't alone. Be all there with him.

A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. 
Proverbs 12:4
  • Pray like the warrior God created you to be. When you married, God joined you and your man together as one flesh, and when that happened, it gave you this incredible power that far too many women don't even realize they have! It's the power to pray for your husband and intercede for him, which means to intervene on behalf of another. This means that when your husband is caught in the muck of life and feeling depressed, you can actually step in for him and go before the throne of grace, asking things for him when he doesn't! Use this power, ladies! Pray peace, guidance, a sound mind, a good reputation, and prosperity over your husband. If you don't know what to say when you pray, invite the Holy Spirit into your quiet time and ask Him to help you find the words. He will.

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 
    Romans 8:26
  • Affirm him. Your husband needs constant reassurance that you're not blaming him, angry with him, or disappointed in him. If you are, you need to go to the Lord and ask for help in overcoming those feelings and for the strength to speak to your husband in love. He needs to know you still respect him. Tell him you're proud of him, give examples of why, and don't stop speaking words of affirmation. In this hard time, the moment you do is the moment he stops believing he can do anything right. Every step he takes is guided by your words, and you decide if those steps are backward or forward.
  • Touch him. I always get harsh feedback whenever I talk about giving your physical self to your husband. Someone almost always leaves a comment about how this isn't 1951 and we aren't sex slaves. All of that is completely ridiculous and irrelevant and not at all what I am saying. The straight fact is that men are physical and we are emotional. Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. We take emotion from our husbands because we need that. Why should we not also be giving of ourselves physically when they need that?

    Your man desperately needs to be touched by you because it affirms him. It's how he feels loved. Would you feel very confident if you were going through a hard time and feeling discouraged and your husband just stopped saying that he loved you? Of course not. That is how a man feels when you withhold sex or don't want to touch him.

    Reach out your hand and take his, rub his leg while he vents to you, stroke his back, touch his face, kiss him, hug him, tell him you want him to hold you when you're sitting together, initiate sex. Love on him because he needs it! Women so often don't have to say anything... by touching your husband you are communicating a load of love and respect and changing his whole world for the better.
  • Listen to him. Sometimes Brian needs to talk about something. Sometimes I honestly don't care and don't feel like taking the time to pause and really listen, but he can tell when I'm not paying attention. I should be giving him my time and attention because he's my husband and he needs to feel respected, whether or not I'm interested in what he wants to discuss. By listening to him without judging or commenting with my opinion, I'm giving him an outlet. Sometimes your husband just wants you to be there.
  • Don't point out his flaws. It's so easy to look at our husbands with judgement and see what it is they did wrong or what they should've done differently. It's also easy to tell them exactly that, but it really damages their egos when we do. Anyone can look at someone else's actions and see flaws. Remember that your husband is a human being in need of grace, just like you. It's hard for him to tell you when something isn't going well, especially at work, so don't make it worse by drawing a big red circle around his mistakes. Be gracious, affirm him, encourage him, pray with him, touch him, and he will go out there and slay dragons for you.

    I know it's hard to be a wife and a mother and have people needing you all day long and then be needed by your husband at the end of a long day. Maybe you feel like you just can't handle it. I know I can't. But God's desire for my marriage is that it thrive and be holy, so He grants me the grace and strength I need to be a godly wife despite my failing flesh. If you just ask and be willing, He'll do the same for you and that will bless your marriage beyond what you can imagine.

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Peaks of the Week

Another week gone! Since starting this little weekly series on my blog I realize just how fast a week goes by, even though the days feel like they drag. I had a few peaks this week, although I did have an epic breakdown. No seriously, I really think I had a mental breakdown. I have been without alone time, something I used to be so good about scheduling for myself, for a long time (like months) and it definitely caught up to me on Friday. I don't think I've ever been such a flawed human being as I was that morning, yelling at my husband, locking myself in our room, acting so wrongly, all because I pushed myself too hard for too long and I just needed a breath.

I ended up driving to my parents' house, picking up my seventeen-year-old sister, and leaving her with my napping kids while I went for a drive. I hit the Carl's Jr drive thru pretty hard and just ate my feelings for a little bit. Maybe that wasn't the healthiest thing to do, but let me tell you... it sure helped. So did the wind in my hair and the sun on my face and the loud music drowning all the negativity that had piled high in my head.

I walked around Target for about forty-five minutes, just being in my happy place and sipping a Passion Tea Lemonade. I ended up buying some new denim shorts, which I desperately needed. Retail therapy, right?

I realized I needed to make alone time more of a priority, like I used to, and I did that today. I'm happy to report that I am writing to you from Starbucks with an iced coffee sitting next to me and acoustic covers playing in my ears. I was just at the diner across the street where I got myself a nice big breakfast and read half of one of my favorite Sally Clarkson books that really refocused me as a mother. Heaven. Now that I've confessed my low point to you, let's focus on the peaks of this week.

1) I got on some weird post-partum nesting kick (is that even a thing?) and purged my house even more. I scrubbed and cleaned and reorganized and moved furniture around... I feel like I hit restart in my house and it felt so good. Worth all the makeup-free, sweaty days I spent on my knees with my rubber gloves on!

Bella and Emmett share a bedroom, and his crib used to be on the wall next to her bed. I cleared out their closet which has no doors (we removed the giant sliding mirror-doors a few months ago), I moved his crib in, and added curtains and art to give him his own little faux nursery. He loves it!

2) A good friend of mine (who also happens to be my neighbor) started a homeschooling nature group last year that I have been wanting to join, but because it's the same morning as my Bible study, we've had to pass on all their wonderful adventures. This summer though, we've been able to join them since Bible study is on break. This week we went to the Fallbrook botanical garden, which I didn't even know was there but highly recommend! We learned about caterpillars and butterflies, birds, critters, flowers and plants... the kids loved it! Although Leland did loudly tell me that he wasn't a fan of the tour guide with the beard. Not embarrassing at all....

3) The 4th of July is my favorite holiday, and even though this year it followed a very hard day for me, I'm so glad I was able to sort through my emotions and feel better for it. We went to the sports park we always go to, set up a blanket and hung out with friends and family the whole evening. It was a very good day.

And now I'm finishing the week with some much-needed me time, coffee, writing, and wandering the town with a book... perfection! This next week promises to be a good one because I've been refueled :)

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