The Happiness Project :: WORK :: September

My year long Happiness Project (inspired by Gretchen Rubin's best selling book) is in full swing.  Thus far I have completed "Energy", "Parenthood", "Friendship", "Mindfulness", and "Marriage".  

This month is "Work" which might seem funny considering I don't have a job... but I made it work for me anyway.  I may not have a traditional career, but I do have a few important hats I wear.  Namely stay-at-home mom, homemaker and homeschooler.  


To improve my work as a homemaker, I want to continue organizing my way through the entire house. Right now that means working through paperwork, filing things and getting our online and financial life in order.  I am grateful that when we got here in August I got straight to work sorting through closets and boxes to make sure every inch here is being used.  Being the best homemaker I can be also means making our house a home with seasonal decorations, and keeping our house a home with daily tidying to keep the messes at bay. 


In an effort to up my homeschooling game, I am lesson planning each morning, and making sure  we have something fun planned each day that will engage the boys and get them excited about learning.  I am also working at being 100% present during school.  No phone, no Facebook, no distractions.  It's not easy, but the job is so much more rewarding when I am fully invested.  The boys' behavior is also better when I'm not multi-tasking.

Stay-at-home Mom:

I am happy to have another chance to work on my parenting after spending May focused on the boys through my Parenting Goal.  I have started another No Yelling campaign in the hopes that this time it will stick.  I am 6 days into my 21 Day habit-changing, no-yelling challenge.  The hope is that after 21 days of not yelling (and instead breathing, taking a break, or expressing my dislike for certain behavior in another form) it will become habit to stay calm.  I am practicing patience, listening when the boys talk and trying really hard to remember what I envisioned staying home to look like when I was a working mom.  This means making cookies in the afternoon, snuggling on my bed to read Junie B. Jones with them, and coloring at the table while they marvel at my coloring skills.

To enhance my motivation with not yelling, I am reading Raising Cain (a book about boys' emotional illiteracy) and I am keeping a chart of my success (aka- sparkly stickers on my calendar for each day I make it without yelling).  I find both to be truly motivating and am feeling positive about maintaining peace in our house.



Six Year Peace

You know how they say marriage has the "Seven Year Itch"?
Well I think parenting has the "Six Year Peace."

The last couple of weeks I've been watching as my to-do list grows, yet I feel nothing but acceptance.  I wake up to six feet pounding like elephant hooves down the hall toward my room and three loud voices announcing, "We slept till the light was green! We slept till the light was green, mom!"  

And we're off!

Then it's down the stairs to open the house up, turn on my Scentsy plug ins and start the day while Josh showers.  When he's done, I go up and shower while he feeds the kids.  No later than 7:45am, he leaves for work and my day as a stay-at-home mom starts.

The boys watch two episdodes of cartoons-- usually Team Oomi Zoomi & Wallykazaam, but sometimes Paw Patrol & Doc McStuffins.  During this time I email Julie, eat breakfast and post a blog if it's ready.

Then it's 9:00am and time for school.  We start with calendar, counting, learning days of the week and months of the year, and reading a few stories on the rug. Wyatt joins us for calendar.  Recently we added show & tell once a week and the twins think that is the coolest.

After calendar, Wyatt stays in the playroom and the twins and I move to the kitchen table.  We tried working at their desks in the playroom last year, but I can keep them better focused if we are together at the big table.  So we do our work there.  

We do journals first.  Sometimes I give them a subject, but more often I let them draw and write about whatever they please.

Then we do sight word flash cards, Bob book reading, and our Saxon reading program.  This weekend I am going to read up and get the Saxon Math going, which I think Jack in particular will be excited about.  

By the time school is over, Josh is home for lunch so we all eat.  Once he takes off, the twins do silent reading and quiet time begins.  During quiet time, mommy gets a break (hooray!) and the boys get a chance to watch a movie or play tablets.

So far this year, after quiet time, we've gotten to go outside everyday.  This has brought me so much joy!!!

Getting those boys outside makes everything better.  They run and ride and play and yell, and I sit and breathe and relax and center.

After an hour or so outside, we head back in so I can make dinner.  By this point Josh is usually home.

I cook, we eat, then we bathe the boys and it's upstairs and off to bed.  

Jammies, stories, prayers & hugs.

So as you can see, that silly to-do list I have isn't getting a whole lot of attention during the day...

That's how I found myself mopping my arctic entry at 10:00 last night.  If I want the chores done, I have to get creative with my time.

Last year not getting things done during the day made.me.crazy.  I would rush and get frazzled and do whatever it took to get things crossed off. And suddenly now I'm at peace.

If I get to it, I get to it. 
If I don't, it will wait.

I focus on:

If I end a day meeting those top five needs, I feel good.

I couldn't have forced this peace. 
It's like the right amount of time passed, and suddenly it washed over me.  

I have fully settled into my role as mother, homemaker and homeschooler.  The weight of those responsibilities is heavy, and I never have them all three balanced perfectly, but I am happy anyway.

Those of you who have been mama's for six or more years, did you find the same to be true for you? That you found a magic sweet spot of time where you settled into the rhythm of life that is motherhood?

Following blogs of other mama's has also played a huge role in my peace.  
Am I lacking?  Am I imperfect?  
Yes. But we all are.

Some nights it's cereal for dinner.  Some weeks the laundry is in baskets all over instead of folded in its drawers.  Other times, the toilet bowl is shining and the dishes are all put away.  

But the beautiful thing is that I'm not impacted either way. 

Staying in the moment has been really big in sustaining this peace.

Being present with the boys allows time to pass slowly, and distracts me from all that's not getting done.

Something else that has, funny enough, helped, is Pinterest.  During quiet time or after bedtime, I love reading inspiring quotes about homeschooling, anxiety and parenting.

They help me remember that this time with my boys will pass quickly, that I'm not alone in the homeschooling struggles I face, and that I can conquer my anxiety.

A few of my favorites:
"The influence of a mother in the lives 
of her children is beyond calculation."
-James E. Faust

"Please hold onto your hope.
It is in such limited supply 
around the world these days.
Hold onto it and be proud that you are 
one of the ones that does."
-Tyler Knott Gregson

"Education is not the filling of a pail,
but the lighting of a fire."
-William Yeats

If you haven't hit your Six Year Peace yet, give it time.  
When it comes, it will be a glorious thing!


Completely random side note:
I know some of my pictures look edited. I swear to you, they are not. It's just that beautiful here!  The colors this summer and fall have been completely stunning. Nature does all the work for me!


Josh The Great

I was thinking the other day, as I recalled how far I've come emotionally in the last year, just how amazing my husband is.  I look back, and I think that I personally would have wanted to punch Anxious-Shelly in the face.  She was whiny and needy and constantly crying or hyperventilating.  She would medical google even though she knew it wasn't good for her, and she would spend hours circling around the same negative thoughts in her head.

Yet, all he had to offer me was love. And patience. And grace.  He would come home to kids crying, the house a mess, dishes in the sink, and instead of rolling his eyes or asking what I'd done all day, he'd jump in and carry us through.

He encouraged me to go to Anchorage, was faithful in making sure I could keep my phone appointments with my therapist by taking care of the kids, and reminded that the medicine was necessary for my recovery when I was hesitant to take it.

Then as I started to feel better, he pushed me out the door to hang out with friends, did bedtime so I could blog when I wanted, and supported me through getting back off the Prozac that had helped me overcome those dark days.

He is one amazing man, and I am more grateful every year that he's mine.



Real Mom

{A walk with my sister & boys this summer}
So I've gained some weight since my bout of anxiety & depression last fall & winter.  About 20-30 pounds, depending on the day and which scale I step onto.  (The one downstairs is far kinder.) And as much as I hate it, I am feeling so much better anxiety-wise, that it's worth it.  After months of not having any appetite, craving something feels like a luxury.  And my sweet husband? He doesn't see it.  Neither do my kids.  

I am currently trying to extend myself grace like I do my girlfriends, loving my body for its ability to produce and care for my children.  And my husband. And my house.  Not judging it based on its shape, but rather its functionality.

It's not easy, but I'm working on it. 


Kari's Baby Shower

One of my oh-so-sweet friends Kari is expecting her first, a girl, so her sister and I co-hosted a shower.  And by co-hosted, I mean that Kori planned everything, and I vacuumed my house!  It was a beautiful, quiet shower with lots of good food and meaningful conversations.

{Mom of Honor Kari}

{The cake was a challenge to cut, but delicious to eat!}

{Kori's boys were there, and they were AMAZING the whole time!}

{Twin sis Kori}

{My sister & Kari... Sorry, Kari. I had to!}

{My mom & new-mom Nicole}

At Carter's Logan picked out that fuzzy suit for Kari.  Unbeknownst to him, Wyatt had the same one when he was a baby, and Kari's baby will be born during winter in Michigan... so it will come in handy!

Kari-- I am so happy for you.  
In a few months you will meet Cadence and will be what you've always dreamed of: a mommy.  I wish for you joy in the last bit of pregnancy and health throughout the delivery and homecoming.  
I can't wait to see her!!!


PS: Yes, readers, a lot of things you see in this post (mainly the pom strands & the lanterns) were gifted to me once the party was over and now live joyfully in my playroom/schoolroom in Alaska.

PPS: If Kori Hiser ever invites you to a party, do yourself a favor and RSVP yes because she has epic game prizes and out-of-this-world gift bags!  I won a year subscription to US Weekly!