Monday, July 28, 2014

what i wore// bump style

Maternity clothes are still generally plain, ugly, and unflattering. I don't know why these designers aren't taking a hint by now and getting their shiz together, but when I go to Target and other basic stores, I am surprised to find only plain tees with capped sleeves, jeans, and cargo pants. I am normally not a fan of online shopping. As a curvy size 10/12, I need to try things on. What looks great on those skinny models with fake baby bumps may or may not make me look like a barn. However, after not feeling like myself during my other three pregnancies and a lack of confidence caused by the clothes I had to wear, I decided to listen to what my mama friends were saying and look online. I found that they were right- much cuter stuff! And I didn't have to say goodbye to trying things on...most everywhere has great return policies and I don't have to deal with the stress of shopping with the kids or finding a sitter so I can shop alone. This is my first summertime pregnancy, and I am feeling so much better between eating mostly Paleo and loading up on cute {and unspeakably cheap} maternity clothes.

I've decided to share the knowledge and hopefully inspire some cute bumps in other pregnant mamas who have felt frustrated with their maternity options in the past. The What I Wore series on my blog will be all about shopping, styling, and feeling good- curves, bump and all that comes with it. If you have to grow eight times as wide, you might as well look cute doing it, right??

look one// a day in the life of a mom
navy henley tee with crochet back, jeans, + rope sandals

I do not like paying full-price for anything. But after weeks of searching the thrift store aisles and waiting for a good sale, I was just too big and uncomfortable and in need of a good pair of jeans, so I caved. I got these dark wash, bootcut, low panel maternity jeans by Liz Lange at Target for about $40. Honestly, I feel the way they're made is uncomfortable once you start getting big, and I'm disappointed since they weren't cheap. I chose the under-belly band because I didn't want the full-panel band adding a layer under my shirts and making me more sweaty than I already make myself. But the band on these ripped after three wears since I am constantly having to pull them up. The elastic inside the band folds up no matter what I do to keep it in place, making a hard line at the top of my jeans that's visible through my shirts. I wear these when I need to still because they are flattering, and sometimes you just need a pair of jeans. 

These Merona mustard yellow sandals are my favorite this summer. Cork and rope combined make me one happy preggie. 

Gold medallion earrings from Forever 21. Sunglasses from Target. 

Say hello to the hubster in my glasses! *hi honey!*

look two// a night away from the kids

vintage floral dress + espadrilles 

Normally, when pregnant, I get invitations to things like bridal showers and weddings and I feel stressed. Finding something to wear that fits, flatters, and suits my taste has been nearly impossible in the past. This pregnancy though, I Googled again in hopes that I would find a fresh new company that had a clue. Cue Pink Blush Maternity...

I got this mint floral dress for $30 on sale {as well as three others, which means free shipping on my order, yay!} and loved how it fit me. The sleeves are sheer, light, and let in air. I wore this to an evening bridal shower where I ate cake pops, rocked the photo booth, and laughed with friends for hours. Nothing like a good time in a favorite dress!

These. wedges. are. so. comfy! Seriously, I love these. I wanted something super neutral that I could wear with each of the dresses I ordered, as I have three weddings and many showers I'll be attending during this pregnancy, and not a lot of moolah. The Merona Meredith Espadrille wedge was my answer. Bonus: I scored these bad boys for $15 on sale in-store while out grabbing diapers!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How I Stay Home When We Can Hardly Afford It

I get asked about how we can afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom a lot. We live in Southern California, where a "cheap" rental home is $1600 a month (that's what we pay). This is one reason Brian and I have always talked about getting out of Cali and have plans to do so in the future. But for now, this is where God has us, and He has called us as parents to "teach His commandments diligently to our children, talk of them when we sit in our home, when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise." How we do that in our home is by having me here with them. Like I talked about in the first part of this blog series, staying at home is a sacrifice we choose to make, not something we are lucky to be able to afford. Honestly, I'm not sure how anybody with an average income even can afford this life. But for us, it isn't about that. It's about saying "yes" to the call and doing what we can to make it happen, then trusting God with the rest. 

Here's some of what we do to live on just my husband's income. 

We cut out what we don't really need. One of the first things to go was cable TV. This is more of a sacrifice for Brian than the kids and I because he loves football. We had TV for a few years, but he ended up not wanting to spend his time off watching the games. God changed his heart's focus to loving his family and cherishing the days he has away from work, and for that I am surprised and grateful! Now he listens to the games on the radio if he's working, or watches highlights online, and sometimes we'll go to my parents' house and he will watch games with my dad and brothers. We have a subscription to Netflix and Hulu where we watch our favorite shows together and can turn on a kids show so I can get a half-hour of peace every once in awhile. Honestly, our TV is hardly ever on. We go days without using it at all, and it's been so wonderful. My kids have a true love of books and stories that other people ask me about and I know it has to do with how little they watch movies and shows.

We don't have a flat screen TV or any other "latest and greatest" anything for that matter. My parents gave us their TV when they upgraded and it works perfectly fine for family movie nights. We have one computer- my laptop- that has been with us for years and has tape around the charger, but it works, and it's fine, and we are not in want for anything. I am blessed to be married to a man who doesn't find his worth and value in the things he buys his family!

We don't live on credit. The only credit we have is our car loan, and that payment is much smaller than the average because of the savings we put down on it at the time of purchase. We do not use credit cards at all. I have heard people say they can afford to stay home with their kids because of credit cards... I'm scared for them! Brian and I love Dave Ramsey and follow a lot of his financial principles (the envelope system works, people!), which we have found to be biblical and very wise. If we don't have the cash for something right now, we don't buy it. It's as simple as that, and this rule keeps us from so many unnecessary purchases!

I get thrifty. Thrifting has become the cool thing to do, apparently, but I thrift because you can get amazing deals on great stuff! I find things like brand name, clean and new kids shoes for a couple of bucks. I always look through the clothes and house decor when I go thrifting. I get a lot of my favorite dresses and sweaters at thrift stores. Another thing I have good luck with at thrift stores is maternity clothes. It's sad, but stores just completely rip you off on maternity wear. They know you're growing and have to buy new things! Burlington Coat Factory online has been a huge help with saving on maternity clothes as well. I also joined local exchanges on Facebook where people post items they are selling for super cheap in my area. Craigslist has been great for bulk toys like Thomas the Tank Engine and building blocks (sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!) as well as big ticket purchases like furniture and outdoor play things for the kids.
Gettin' thrifty with my girl at Goodwill!
I even get thrifty when it comes to groceries. However, I am not a couponer. I find that Extreme Couponing and things like that are a waste. All the coupons are for packaged stuff and junk that's bad for you! I save more money by steering clear of packaged anything and buying fresh more often. I get our produce at a local farmer stand, I grocery shop at Winco (a much cheaper version of the grocery store where they can charge less because they have very few employees and have customers bag their own groceries), and I go to Costco for the things that are actually cheaper there and that we use in bulk (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, meat). 

Hubby works extra. This is the hard one (for me). Brian has the option to take on overtime at work- lots of overtime. It's such a blessing! It's a difficult thing to do though, for sure. He can work twelve hour days if we need him to. In order to make ends meet and live our lives as usual, he works two twelve hour days a week. When we need to save money (since we don't live on credit) or have a large purchase coming up, he will work more. For example, right now is crazy. We are building up a large amount of savings and making some big plans for early next year, but we don't want to put in all the overtime after the baby is born (beginning of November), so Brian is working six twelve-hour days for about two months and we are saving our money now. It's crazy hard! But God provided a way for us to have the money we need and control our income according to our needs, which helps me stay home. I am so thankful!

I plan out our meals. This is where all of our money used to go out the window- eating. A few months ago I signed up for Emeals (I saved money there too by paying for a year ahead rather than more money monthly). Emeals is incredibly helpful! We are on the Paleo family dinner plan, and I just choose 3-4 of the suggested meals each week, then stretch them into the remaining nights by doing leftovers, breakfast for dinner sometimes, or just a snack-around night if Brian is working late. We pretty much never go out to dinner as a family- it's just too expensive (and too chaotic to enjoy it anyway)! I also avoid the drive-thru on the days we spend out of the house. I cut up fruits and veggies, pack sandwiches, kettle corn and sippies full of water rather than stopping for cheeseburgers if at all possible. If we'll be out all day long, I bring a cooler with ice and keep it in the trunk. Anything is better than stopping for fast food if it's avoidable, and not just for health reasons but for budget reasons! I will say though, there are times that I am out much longer than expected or life happens and we have to grab a quick bite. But I plan when I can and as much as I can, and it saves us a ton of money. However, let the record show that I do have a Starbucks problem (if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed how often I have a cup in my hand). I keep that under {some} control with my Gold card, by loading a small amount on it each paycheck and when it's gone, no more coffee out. Plus with the card, I get points toward a free coffee with each purchase :)

I make my own...everything. Dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, dandruff shampoo, baby soap, rash cream... you name it, I make it. There are a few things that, for me, aren't worth the extra effort- hand soap, dish soap, body wash, regular shampoo and conditioner- those are a few things that I have found to be complicated (or the recipes I found didn't work well enough), and it's just better to spend the few bucks. The biggest savings comes from making my own laundry soap. Seriously, it is so expensive at the store! I can make a huge batch for a few bucks and it'll last me six months. Also, there are some seriously scary and harmful, cancer-causing chemicals in soaps (yes, even baby and kids soaps), so that's another reason I prefer to make my own stuff or at least buy natural on the stuff I don't make myself.

We homeschool through a charter school. There are so many reasons why many homeschoolers refuse to involve the state in their homeschooling. I have read up on this so much, and I know all the why's and why not's. For us, the why not's do not outweigh the benefits. I feel many of the reasons to homeschool solo, which is more expensive, are based on fear, and we do not make decisions out of fear, but out of obedience to the Lord. Through the charter school in our area, we get $1,000 of funding per student per school year, and it can go towards curriculum, enrichment activites (like the American Girl history class Bella will be going to this year), sports, ballet, music classes... you name it. It's awesome! Our particular charter school is very parent-led, and I get to choose whatever curriculum I want, and don't have to lie or hide the Bible portion of our school days like some other parents do. I am also free to lead my children through a Charlotte Mason curriculum without any complaints from my ES (education specialist) about not having enough structure.

There is so much that goes into living on one income, making it very difficult to concentrate it into one blog post. If you have any questions or can think of something I didn't cover here, please share with me in the comments and I will try to cover it in the next portion of this series!

This post is part two in the On Staying Home series here at The Purposeful Housewife Blog. To read part one, click here

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Staying Home// No Luck in this Sacrifice

Photo from my Instagram feed [@allie_thatsme]

It's one of the questions I get asked among all the other common ones...

"How far apart are they?"

"You sure have your hands full, don't you?"
"Do you stay home or work?"

And when my answer to that last one comes with a smile and personal pride, "I stay home with them", I get the same response nearly every time.

"You are so lucky."

It's not that this response bothers me necessarily, but there's something about it that just doesn't sit right with me. Lucky. Why lucky? I'm not one of those people that's adamant about people using the word blessed instead... it isn't that. I thought about this a lot the other day as I drove home from a kid's birthday party where the above conversation had taken place yet again. Am I lucky to stay home with my children? No. 

I am not lucky at all. Five years ago, my husband and I sat down and made a choice after I heard from God Himself the call to be home. I tucked away my fresh real estate license and pencil skirts and traded them in for sweat pants and Veggietales. Staying home was a choice we made, and it comes with sacrifices not everyone is willing to make. We are following a leading of the Holy Spirit- a calling on our lives and the lives of our children- to live this one life I get at home with them- being there for every step, breath, boo boo, and giggle.

Sometimes there are just a few dollars in the bank, seriously. That's because of a choice we felt led to make, and it's a big leap of faith and a sacrifice. It means we are saying "no" to credit cards and debt, "no" to more money and better things and worldly stability. It means we are saying "yes" to a one-income lifestyle so that our children will always remember their mom being there for every little thing, having no work to take up any of her days. It means less of everything material in exchange for more of everything emotional and spiritual. It means making difficult decisions based around a small budget and doing what is best for our family- which is for me to be at home with our kids.

I know people mean well and aren't thinking their comments all the way through, and I mean no rudeness to them, but I am not lucky to stay home. I am a Spirit-led parent who made a hard choice, and continues to make that hard choice every week when there is less where there could be more. But you know... the exchange is a pretty sweet deal- less in my wallet than others but a thousand times more tiny moments and memories in my heart.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Morning Worship Playlist

In my effort to boot the TV and bring in more music and audio books, I recently started making our mornings a time of worship. Some mornings we have somewhere to be and will listen to worship music while driving. Most days, we are at home and I am either getting some light housework done while cooking breakfast, or just lingering over coffee and my devotional. Either way, worship music is playing in the background instead of a movie for the kids. It's been a wonderful change and has brought so much peace and joy to our home!

I love music. It has always been my muse,u and I have always been changed by powerful lyrics and a beautiful melody. I know God made me a worshiper with a deep love of music. However, I am not a big fan of "churchy" worship music, so I set out to create a playlist for my mornings that I won't get sick of, that has versions of awesome songs that aren't dull, and that will uplift me as I get my days started. I add songs as I come across them on Pandora, but today I am sharing the list I currently have with you, in the hope that you will be inspired to make worship music a daily routine, if you're not already. I pay $10 a month for a Spotify account, so I can look up any song I want and add it to my saved playlists. I can listen to Spotify on my phone, tablet, or computer, and it's really been worth the monthly fee for our family. I recommend it for sure!

Here's my playlist...

Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin
Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher
After All (Holy) by The Digital Age
Restless by Switchfoot
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United
Christ Is Risen by Matt Maher
10,000 Reasons by Rend Collective
Hallelujah by The Digital Age
Where I Belong by Switchfoot
Captured by The Digital Age (my kids love to dance to this one turned all the way up)

You can find my playlist on Spotify here. Turn it up and get yo worship on!

Photo credit: Yana Borgonjon

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Dirty Kitchen

It was one morning last week that I posted this photo of my messy kitchen before Bella and I dove in and conquered the mess. We scrubbed and made bubbles and talked about horses and about the right way to load the silverware. I like sharing my messes on social media. It's so anti-Instagram right now. Most of what I see being popular online is perfection- perfect hair, stylish clothes, moms with perfect bodies, neat and perfectly decorated homes. I appreciate beauty and a great photograph, but there's something wrong when we stop being real with one another. Sometimes life gets messy, and I have no problem sharing that with my followers. 

Once the kitchen was clean, I got the kids down for naps and sat down to check my Facebook page, where I saw a negative comment (something I'm learning to get used to). 

"I would never let my kitchen get that bad. Yikes."

I'll spare you my knee-jerk reaction (I'm sure you can imagine), but I ended up doing what has proven to be the best method over the course of my time as a blogger-- silence and a prayer. As much as I wanted to respond (and I certainly didn't lack the words), I knew it wasn't what this woman needed. Whoever she was- a wife, a stay-at-home mom, working mom, whatever- I prayed that she would learn grace. Grace for others, so that she would no longer attempt to shame others with comments like this one, and grace for herself, that she would learn what's really important; and it certainly isn't a clean kitchen. 

What she didn't know is why my kitchen was so messy. She didn't know that the day before had been one of baking cookies, playing in the backyard, reading endless stacks of books, and driving with the windows down. It had been a day of playing with my children rather than sending them to play while I cleaned up the kitchen. I (normally)  rinse the dishes and pick up my house as I go through the day, and load the dishwasher before I head to bed every night. But that day? That day I saw an opportunity to say "no" to mundane and "yes" to joy and childhood memories. It wasn't out of laziness that the crusty dishes gathered, but out of a Spirit-led choice to live this blessed, fleeting day I had been given as a gift. 

As the fun and laughter turned to yawns and snuggling, the day came to a slow, and I tucked my littles into their beds just as my tired husband walked in the door. As I warmed up his dinner and listened to him summarize his work day, I saw another opportunity to love and serve in my home. Again the Spirit led me away from my chores to my hard-working husband who had had a bad day at work. Rather than let him eat dinner at the table while I cleaned up from a day spent outside with my kids, I sat and listened and encouraged him. Through our dinner conversation I saw that he needed his wife- he missed me. What a huge honor and blessing that is- for him to actually miss me after ten years of togetherness and three kids! We added his dishes to the mess and enjoyed a movie on the couch, exchanging glances, laughs, and kisses until I fell asleep in his arms.

You can bet your last dollar that I will "let my kitchen get that bad" when there is an opportunity to enjoy and to breathe life into my family. I don’t stay home to keep a clean house. I stay home to cultivate love and grace and Jesus in my family, and serving them through homemaking is a part of that, but not the top priority. Look how many precious memories would never have come into existence if my kitchen had been cleaned. That would have been an absolute pity, and the poorest use of my time I can think of. 

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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Perfect Summer Giveaway!

Summer is officially here! To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway of Jamberry nail wraps. What are Jamberry nails?

The wraps are a solid film covering that can be applied directly to the nail to achieve a look not found anywhere else. This special material is both pressure and heat activated to create a water tight bond to your nail. The shields are made in the USA, with no harsh chemicals and are latex free. This new nail treatment can be applied in about fifteen minutes at home. With over three hundred styles to choose from, these designer wraps are made to last up to two weeks on fingers and four or more on toes. Unlike traditional nail polish, they won’t chip and require no drying time. It’s so easy to achieve a professional, salon look at a fraction of the cost.

Pretty sweet, eh?

I am teaming up with Jamberry consultant, Emily Graebner to giveaway a $25 gift card which means you get to choose the prints yourself, should you win. Here are some samples of what they have (they have over 300 wrap styles total to choose from!)

They even carry nail wraps for kids!

The $25 gift card will get you a sheet of wraps (good for two manis + two pedis) and shipping, or a sheet of wraps and cuticle oil and you pay shipping, or it can be applied to a larger purchase.

Enter below (option 2 can be done daily for more chances to win) and check back Friday the 27th, when I announce the winner!

Don't forget to check out Emily's website to browse prints and purchase wraps if you can't wait for the end of the giveaway :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Jamberry will ship to the US, Canada, Guam, and Puerto Rico. 

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Scheduling Meetings Changed Our Marriage

I have received some comments and emails regarding a weekly habit my husband and I have formed, and wrote this post in response to those requests for more details. Hope it helps!

A typical day in our life looks like this...

Brian leaves for work at seven o'clock in the morning.

The kids and I have a busy day planned out, usually including housework and chores, time spent out (the park, the duck pond, a friend's house, running errands), lunch and nap time while I write and catch up on my work, play time at home or more  time spent out of the house (a local event like picking blueberries or seeing a movie, an afternoon play date), dinner and baths at home, followed by lots of stories and bedtime at 7:30.

Brian comes home around nine o'clock most nights; sometimes it can be closer to seven, depending on if it's an overtime day or not. We schedule three overtime days out of the five days he works, because we need that money.

Our days are long, and Brian and I find it hard to connect over the phone while he's putting in all these hours. When he's off work, there's the kids- climbing on us, interrupting us, needing our constant care and attention- and we normally have a full day of family fun planned outside of the house when he's not working. This fun and busy life leaves little room for random conversations between a husband and wife, but at the same time there is so much to talk about! Homeschooling, disciplinary issues, church activities, our relationship, how his job is going, how my days are going... the list goes on and on.

Last year, I was praying over our marriage and the distance that had crept in and had me frustrated. God plopped the most practical idea into my head, and we've been doing it every week since! The idea is weekly meetings. Once a week, we clean up the kitchen and pick up the house together, make some coffee, grab a notepad and pen, and snuggle up on the couch together after the kids are in bed. Usually, the notepad is already filled with our "need to talk about" topics, but sometimes, when there wasn't time during the week, we'll jot some stuff down then and there before we start talking. Either way, this is a special time for us to meet as husband and wife, partners in life and in raising our {almost four} children, and get on the same page. Here's how our meetings usually go down...

First, we pray over our hearts, our minds, and our time together.

We always snuggle up into one another or hold hands while we talk.

Brian fills me in on what's going on with him- a new boss at work, a difficult issue with a co-worker, personal struggles, a need for me to encourage him in some area, etc. I simply listen. I don't nag or interrupt- that isn't allowed.

When he's done, it's my turn. I fill him in on any issues with the kids, budget stuff, decisions that need to be made about our upcoming homeschool year, etc.

Once we both have the "business" type of stuff talked about, we both feel relieved, understood, and respected. This is when we talk about us. We discuss how each of us feels we, as a couple, are doing. Any arguments we've had that need further discussing (we talk arguments out right after or the night after they happen), any issues, anything about the two of us and our love is talked about. Sometimes it's just encouraging and laughing and kissing. Other times there are hurtful, difficult issues to work through.

These weekly meetings are scheduled at the beginning of each week, but we're flexible and sometimes the day gets changed. These meetings are totally separate from our romantic date nights out, which we now have about once a month with the craziness of his schedule and our current savings plan.

I have had a couple of friends see a note on my fridge or hear me mention our meetings and give negative feedback. I don't know if it's because they're threatened by our effort in our marriage or if they legitimately disagree with our meetings (which, is not something I really give two craps about), but I have been told things like "well my husband just would never want to sit and talk every week like that."

Ummm... you're in a marriage! You are committed under God Himself to stay together as long as you both shall live! You are raising human beings together! If you ask me, how can any of us survive without sitting down and getting on the same page every once in awhile? If your husband isn't willing to work as a team in this way, pray for his heart. Pray for yours too. Maybe there's something in there that you're putting off on him that makes him not want to spend time listening to your heart for him and your family or share his heart with you. God desires oneness in marriage. If that's not there, pray about it.

I hope this post has inspired you to seek out unity and teamwork in your marriage. It has brought Brian and I through some really rough waters and made us so much closer. I wish the same for your marriage!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Lesson in Kindness From A Bully

Cameron Thompson was a self-professed bully. Now, he's working hard to spread the change he went through himself by starting an anti-bullying campaign. He has been featured on publications like The Today Show, and is really spreading the word of kindness! I am proud to share this beautiful story at The Purposeful Housewife. I hope it will inspire your children, and you, as a mother.

Confessions of a Bully from Ashley Nicole Video on Vimeo.

You can follow along this journey with Cameron and his awesome mom on Facebook!

A special thanks to my friend, Ashley Nicole Video Productions for allowing me to share this video. You did an amazing job in this project!

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Parenting Both the Fiery One & the Quiet One

Leland is my second-born. He is a heap of passion placed inside a human body. He is fiery, incredibly strong, tells me everything he's thinking (loudly!), and I never have to doubt how he feels about something. Most days it seems like Leland is always in trouble- taking a timeout in his room, sitting in a chair facing the corner, screaming in protest, yelling that this isn't what he wanted (that's the whole point, son).

Bella is my first-born. She is sweet, caring, silly but on the quiet side, and always voicing concern for everything and everyone. Don't get me wrong... she knows how to be loud and have an attitude and get bossy and yell at her two brothers. But overall, she's the quiet one that will accept discipline without fighting it and keep her thoughts to herself. Bella generally isn't the problem in our house, other than the occasional bad attitude.

As you can imagine (or maybe you don't have to imagine because you've got the same situation in your house), Leland takes up most of my attention, focus, time, and energy. There have been so many days where Bella didn't get me at all because Leland was such an energy-sucker. How do you give your quiet one what they need of you when your strong-willed one is so constantly demanding??

There are some things I've been trying lately, as God has been nudging me to look in Bella's direction more often, and inspiring me with ideas for how to train up all my children, and giving more of my time and attention to the ones who demand it less.

I am teaching Leland that it's not all about him. Although it's simply the fact that Leland is loud and strong-willed and in almost constant need of correction that gets most of my attention (it's not like he's a brat that demands my time and is rewarded with it), I am still working on teaching him that life isn't all about him. Over time, he will notice that he gets a lot of my attention and I want to make sure that doesn't turn him into a brat later on. Plus, he has a natural self-centered outlook (like me) and I know the importance of guiding that firsthand.

I make time to spend with just Bella while Leland is awake. I give Leland something to do on his own (coloring, building a block tower) in his room, then turning my phone off and sitting down to do something one-on-one with Bella. Usually Hudson is napping or just joining in with Leland's activity, so it's just us girls. I want Leland to be awake and to see that there are times when he needs to busy himself while I spend time with someone else. I really try to do this once a day. I also will take Bella out for frozen yogurt or hot chocolate at Starbucks every month or so. Brian and I do this with each of the kids, but I feel Bella benefits from it most because of her age.

Leland's consequence for disobedience is time away from us in his room. When he was younger, I needed to put him on a chair for a short timeout or just give a little spanking and call it a day. Now that Leland is over three, he is at an age where isolation works and is applicable. When he disobeys, I calmly tell him what he did wrong, send him to his room, and let him cry or scream it out there while the rest of us carry on. This avoids giving Leland negative attention, which is still attention so he's getting what he wanted, and doesn't make the other kids suffer for what he did wrong. You break a rule? You go in your room for a bit until I come in there to talk to you.

Do you have a strong-willed child and a quiet child? What do you do to keep the feisty one from taking over the house and sucking up all your focus? Leave your feedback in the comments.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

How to Deal When You're Annoyed with Your Spouse

Marriage is the closest two people can possibly get physically, emotionally, and mentally. Not only are you sexually super close, but you're living together and seeing a lot of each other, and seeing pretty much everything of one another. You can predict each other's thoughts, words, and actions most of the time after a few years in this relationship. With all of this, someone is bound to get annoyed with somebody at some point, even in the strongest marriages. It's just natural when you live in such close proximity with another human. Especially when that other human is constantly leaving his work pants and socks strewn about the house. I'm not talking about my husband.... not at all...

*Ahem* Aaaanywaaaay...

Brian works a lot, so I am usually dying to see him and looking forward to his days off. I am however, pregnant right now. His usual schedule gives him two days off in a row, and this week, our time as a family was kind of dampened by the fact that I was really irritated with him and everything he said and did. I hate that! It's almost like I just can't even control it or explain why I feel that way- it's like it just happens and that's that. Every joke he made, every tap on the steering wheel while the music played, every drag of his feet while we walked, even the very sound of his voice grated my nerves like a block of cheese being shredded for taco Tuesday. I found myself rolling my eyes so much I got a headache, and that was just his first day off.

That night as I thought about what to do, I realized it wasn't really him, it was me and my hormones and the fact that I was done from a long week alone with the kids and the housework. But the next morning, I awoke with the same lack of tolerance and irritability that had done me in the day before. I was not about to let my mood ruin a perfectly good family day! I resolved to try out different things throughout the day until something worked. After all, I'm only four months pregnant and I've got PMS once a month when I'm "normal" anyway, so I basically have my whole marriage to have annoyance to deal with, pregnant or not... might as well get a handle on it. I think God really came and met me where I was at, because I actually feel like I found some things that helped! Next time my husband is home, I know what to do to clear my head and not ruin our weekend. Here's what seemed to help me...

Getting away from him. This sounds sort of hilarious and incredibly mean, but when I removed myself from the situation and went for a drive, grabbed a coffee, and listened to some Ingrid Michaelson, I felt much better!

Thinking happy thoughts. In the car, I turned on some music so I wouldn't have to talk for a minute, and I just started to think about all the good things about my husband. It might sound kind of silly, but it worked! I thought about how much I missed him all week and what a good man he is and how handsome he is, and I felt better. I also felt pretty bad for being irritable with him in the first place.

Just telling him. At one point, at the end of the day, I suddenly felt like I could cry because I was so irritated with everything that everyone did all day long. I felt like the day was ruined by my hormones and I just wanted to start sobbing. I told Brian, "Look... I am feeling really pregnant and emotional and crappy. Every sound and touch is annoying me. It's not you, it's all me, and I'm sorry, but could I just have as much quiet and space as possible?" He was totally sweet and understanding and became really helpful with the kids and their loudness. He also gave me space and just let me calm down. Seeing this took away my irritation and helped so much! I ended up popping my headphones in for a few minutes and listening to Jim Gaffigan comedy. Weird, but it also helped! I don't think Brian even knew I had headphones in, ha.

Praying for a change. This is last on the list not because it's the least important, not because it's the last thing I tried (it was actually the first), but because it didn't work like I wished it would. Just being honest! I sort of felt like God allowed me to work through my irritability and figure out that it was me, not Brian that was the problem. If He had taken it away, I would have been robbed of that lesson, and of the opportunity to learn how to manage my moods in pregnancy and on bad days. However, there have been other times, in different situations than this, that I have come to the Lord exasperated by my emotions ,and received relief and grace from Him. So this option is still valid!

I hope I don't sound like a complete jerk in this post, and that you can relate and even find this helpeful. It really is just a part of pregnancy, marriage, and life for me. If you can't relate then just extend a little grace to me today :)

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