Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent is Upon Us

It's hard to believe it is already December 1st!  I am having a hard time with how quickly this year is passing. 

Every year for Advent, we count down the days to Christmas with our Advent activity bags.  Several years ago, I made 25 fabric bags.  I've always intended to add felt numbers to the front of each bag...but cutting so many numbers out of felt has never felt like something I want to spend hours doing.  Each year, I put a slip of paper in each bag with an activity to do together that day.  You can see the activities we have done in past years here and here.

My goal with the whole experience isn't to make our holidays more busy.  My hope is that by planning one activity, craft, or experience for each day, we will spend more time together on these activities and less time rushing around.  Life has felt much more busy than I would prefer lately, so I tried to keep this in mind when selecting activities for each day. 

And in case anyone is interested, here is this year's list of activities!

1 - Make cinnamon applesause ornaments - We use these to make mobiles to hang in the kids' room.
2 - Make orange, apple, and cranberry garland for the tree
3 - Hot chocolate with Christmas marshmallows in Christmas mugs!
4 - Christmas Parade!
5 - Make gingerbread pancakes for breakfast
6 - St. Nicolas Day - We celebrate by making St. Nicolas cookies, leaving letters for St. Nicolas in our shoes before bed, and reading our St. Nicolas books repeatedly in the days leading up to this day.  We talk a lot about who St. Nicolas really was and what he did for others.
7 - Make candy cane ornaments
8 - Popsicle stick Christmas ornaments like these, these, or these
9 - Make Christmas soaps (annual tradition for us)
10 - Make snowman ornaments from popsicle sticks
11 - Open Christmas watercolor books - These are cheap $1 books I found last year at Michaels.  They are cheesy and cheap, but my kids love them.
12 - Make Christmas cookies
13 - Make a snowman shaped pizza and watch a Christmas movie
14 - Decorate gift bags to use for Christmas gifts
15 - Make peppermint candy ornaments
16 - Make teacher gifts
17 - Drive around and look at Christmas lights - We usually make a box of mac and cheese for the kids and let them eat it out of mugs while we drive all over town looking at lights.
18 - Make gingerbread houses
19 - Visit the live nativity
20 - Make salt dough hand print mittens
21 - Make pinecone and birdseed bird feeders
22 - Make Christmas snack mix and watch a Christmas movie
23 - Zoo Lights - this date may not be one that works and I may have to make something up on the fly - such as hot chocolate or a quick craft. 
24 - Feed the Reindeer and make cookies for Santa
25 - CHRISTMAS!!!!  (I know there should really be only 24 bags, but the kids love having one to look inside on Christmas morning also.)

Every year we have days we miss the activity or things get switched around.  It's not always a set-in-stone plan, but it's fun and not meant to be a cause of stress.  I keep $1 crafts from Michaels and/or holiday treats on hand to fill in on the days when life is more crazed than anticipated.  Because no matter how much you plan, life doesn't always go according to our plans.

I hope this season brings lots of time together for your family also!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Turning Inward

I have a confession.  I love this time of year.  I love setting the clocks back an hour.  I love calling my children inside at dusk for baths and dinner - rather than having to call them inside while the sun is still up.  I love the extra darkness.  The draw towards cozy blankets, candlelight, and comfort foods.  I love the cooler temperatures, the need to draw inward - into our homes, into the comfort of family and friends. 

We spend so much of our time outside in the warmer months.  Around this time of year I start to get the itch for cold weather.  I relish the cooler temperatures and a new found desire to spend time indoors.  Long forgotten toys resurface - all the toys and hobbies I considered parting with suddenly find new life in our home. 

Soup returns to our weekly menu.  Monday is soup day in our house.  After months of salads for dinner on Mondays, soup is a welcome change.  This time of year leaves me longing to be a better gardener next year, so I can feel the shift in our diet that much more.  I long for the days when I will be a proficient enough that our diet in the warmer months will consist of mostly produce we grew ourselves.  I romanticize about shifting from fresh food we grew, to stored/preserved food we grew.

And perhaps one of the coziest ways for me to welcome this season is with a renewed love for baking.  It is this time of year that I get back to bread baking - forgetting it's not that I've given up baking for good, just for a the summer season.  There is something so nostalgic about the smell of the molasses and sprinkle of cinnamon, the yeasty smell while kneading and the rising, and the mouth watering aroma of baking bread.  And yet, as much as I love it, I just can't get excited about it in the summer.

I've been baking bread for four years now.  Every time I make my "tried and true" weekly bread, I reminisce on the hectic season our family was in when I first starting making bread for us.  I was just beginning my first (failed) attempt at graduate school, the kids were both toddlers, and we were in the midst of learning how to make and eat real food.  I remember the dim light of the kitchen in the evening as I finally made my first successful loaves of bread.  I would get so frustrated with how small that kitchen was, but now thanks to the filter of time, I enjoy thinking back on how busy that little space was and all the love that flowed from it.

So, as the days grow shorter and the temperatures grow cooler (soon, hopefully!), I hope you too find excitement in the warm comforts of this time of year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Apple Picking!

Around here, we love to eat our way through the seasons.  Berries, apples, pumpkins - all of it!  Add to that, my preschool class spent several weeks discussing apples and apple trees.  So naturally, when my mom told me there was a new orchard open close to us, we had to go.

We picked a perfect fall day to go!  The warm weather really seems to be hanging around this September, but the day we picked apples the temps dropped and it was invigorating.  I love those cool temperatures this time of year.


Apples are just beautiful to view on the trees.

The orchard we went to is a young one.  I believe the trees are only four or five years old.  They are dwarf trees - perfect for the kids!

Apple picking cutie pie.

Two apple picking cutie pies.

These two ate their way through the orchard.  It was a lot of fun to try all the different types.  I think we ended up with ten or eleven different varieties and 31 pounds of apples!  Trust me, we've been creative with how to consume all those apples before they go bad.  We've had apple crisp, apple muffins, apple sauce, and apples with lunch every single day.  Now that we're almost out, I'm wondering if we can get in another trip before the end of the season!


We live in a beautiful place.

Stunning.  Just stunning.

Monday, September 28, 2015


I love seeing my kids grow.  They never cease to amaze me with their creativity, helpfulness, and some days their ability to leave me utterly exhausted.  They were sweet and snuggly as babies.  Curious as all hell as toddlers.  And now just plain old fun as kids.

However, as much fun as they are becoming - and less of all that diapering, potty training, doing every single little darn thing for them all day, every day - I can't get over how quickly time is passing.  Time with them is like trying to hold water in my hands.  It doesn't matter how hard I squeeze, that water is going to get out.  Likewise, it doesn't matter if I hold onto them tightly or let them soar, the time with them is fleeting.  Most days I don't think about it, but every once in a while it hits me that before I know it, they will be grown and out of our house.  And while I will always be their mama and there for them, the days of "hands-on" parenting will be over.

So, I am determined to get back to blogging.  This space has been a great source of focus for our lives in the years past.  Writing about our daily life really helps me keep the vision on all our blessings, on all the little moments I want to cherish for years to come.  And I love looking back on the memories from years past.

These two blessings - so different, but so compatible - help make our life together
so incredibly rich and joyful. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In the blink of an eye

Six years ago at this time I was eagerly approaching my due date.  I can still remember the extreme discomfort of being pregnant.  In August.  In hot, humid Hampton Roads, Virginia.  I just wanted to touch my toes damn it!  And despite the discomfort, I was so thankful to feel it's kicks and jabs on a regular basis. 
But the mantra of my days still remained along the lines of "For crying out loud, COME ON BABY!  GET OUT! ".  I was so ready to know if I was having a boy or girl.  I was so ready to be a mom.  I was so ready to hold that ball of baby stuffed into my ever expanding stomach.
Then, in a blink of an eye, that long overdue baby (a week is a long time in baby expecting time) started kindergarten.  And he did it like a seasoned pro.


With both the hubby and I having teaching backgrounds, education is something that is not taken lightly in our household.  For many years I could not fathom educating my children in any way other than homeschooling.  Then, two years ago we moved to an area with much better public schools, and yet I still didn't feel close to comfortable with the idea of public education. 
Nothing about public schools felt right for Mannchen.  As a baby/toddler/preschooler he was highly sensitive to a need for consistency and rhythm - hence why I am so drawn to Waldorf Education.  Public school felt too big for him.  Too pushy.  Too test driven.  He's a creative little thinker - always engineering some elaborate train set-up (today it climbed onto his shelves) or creating a transformer/robot out of art supplies and recycling bin items (he's been working on it for months and I have to resist the daily temptation to chuck all that mess into the trash, for fear of it ruining his creativity).  I just couldn't picture him in a formal school setting - desks, limited recess times, being taught to a test, etc.  He's a sensitive, introverted soul and a strong affinity for his mama.  And as a youngster, he seemed to lack confidence. 
But with the hubby being in graduate school, I had to find a preschool for both kids while I worked.  Our first year here my mom watched the kids, but due to health reasons and her sanity, preschool started to look like the best option.  Looking back on it, being pushed towards preschool was the best thing for our family.  We were fortunate enough to find a preschool that fit our wants and needs exactly.  Honestly, I cannot imagine a more perfect preschool experience for my kids.  LOVE their preschool.  Mannchen was able to grow in a safe setting.  Töchterchen was able to have the daily social interactions she craves.
At his fifth birthday, Mannchen was still so clingy, so attached to home and family.  As the school year went on, he gradually started to detach.  By the spring, he was even ready to look at his teacher when talking with her.  By the end of the school year, he really seemed to begin to "grow into himself".  His physical developments began to blossom and with that, his confidence. 
At the start of the summer, I was still on the fence about public schools.  I knew homeschooling was out for us, but there's a wonderful little private school in town.  I placed him on the waiting list and crossed my fingers. 
Then, through various experiences this summer, Mannchen showed us that he was ready for public school in every possible way.  He is physically ready for desk learning.  He has begun his change of teeth.  His body proportions have changed.  He can tie his shoes.  He loves sports and does well with the skills needed to play them.  (Read this first grade readiness list for more of the changes and developments I was looking for to determine school readiness.)  He is mentally ready for the decoding required to learn to read.  He is confident of who he is and rooted in his physical and emotional self.  About two weeks ago, I couldn't imagine anything other than public education for him.  He was so eager to be a part of the larger group setting.
And so this morning, I pulled up to the front of his elementary school and he unbuckled himself, grabbed his backpack, and gave me a quick kiss before hopping out of the car with confidence.  I watched him walk right towards the front doors, knowing exactly where he was headed.  No longer the overly cautious and tentative child he was in his first phase of life. 
And it all felt right.  Just right.  But damn it happened fast.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trash to Treasure

I like to think I'm good at seeing the potential in things - furniture, houses, this apartment.  Hubby is a realist, but I'm always coming at him with ideas of "but if we do this, then it will look like that and be wonderful!".  Needless to say, we balance each other because everyone needs a little of both in their life.
Several months ago the kids and I found this wood shelf in the dumpster of the neighboring townhouse complex.  It's made of real wood, so even though it was beat up and broken, it seemed like an easy fix.  We had a lot going on at the time, so we just shoved it into the kids' closet and almost forgot about it. 
 Last week I realized the school year was almost over and if I wanted to breeze through this project without any "helping hands", I better get it done ASAP.  I glued together the broken shelf and reinforced it from below with wood bracing.

Then I painted it with leftover paint from a small sample of paint I purchased when I was considering paint colors for the kids' room.  Now, instead of having Legos all over their dresser, closet floor, and oh knows where else, all of Mannchen's many Lego creations now have a home.  For free.  What's not to love about that?

Have you ever transformed trash into something useful? 
Please share!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


On Monday I registered Mannchen for Kindergarten.  Woah.  Real deal school. 

The night before I mentioned to Hubby that I couldn't believe he was old enough for me to actually take this step.  His response was along the lines of "Seriously?!".  Which got me thinking.

He's right.  Mannchen is five and a half.  He'll turn six right around the time school starts.  He has a great attention span.  He's not hyperactive.  He's eager to learn to read.  He loves puzzles and math.  He's (maybe...on the good days) learning self control and body control when he's with his friends - that translates to "we don't have to touch/hug/wrestle/fall on the floor together everyday coming and going from school".  He's as ready as a kid can possibly be to start school.  And yet, as his mama, it's still hard to believe.

Some of my difficulty with wrapping my mind around something like this stems from wanting to give my kids a Waldorf education at home for so long.  But after digging deeper in Waldorf education principles and Steiner's philosophies on development, reading so many other books, and watching my children grow in preschool this past year, I really think sending them to school is best for them.  It saddens me that they won't get a Waldorf education - there are so many beautiful aspects to it.  But reality is, there's no Waldorf school within hours of us....so yeah, that's not happening.  The public schools in our town are about as good as public schools get.  The elementary school we're zoned for is small and has high parent involvement.  Trust me, I've spent hours analyzing and thinking about what will be best for Mannchen next year.  And there's no way I would send him to the public elementary school if I wasn't comfortable with it.  So while I recognize what we're missing, I'm mostly comfortable with our change of plans.

But as I was running this morning, I kept thinking about this.  And why does this seem like such a shift in our life.  And it hit me.  This has nothing to do with Mannchen.  It has everything to do with my personal realization that we are nearing the end of a era in our house.  Töchterchen is not much younger than Mannchen (14 months ain't much in parenting time).  Before I get a chance to blink, I'll be registering her for Kindergarten also.  Up until this point, my life and days have revolved around meeting their basic needs and finding way to make our family run as smoothly as possible, while managing two babies/toddlers/preschoolers.

And we're nearing the end of that era.  If I've learned anything since the kids were born, it's that time goes fast once you have children.  We're not totally there yet, but we are close enough that I am able to recognize that soon both my children will be in school from 8:30-3:30.  SEVEN hours is a lot of time to fill.  I work part-time.  And I do enough cleaning, errands, running, etc to quickly fill the rest of the time.  It's not that I don't know what to do with myself once they are in school (I already went through that early mid-life crisis when I considered going back to school).  It's just that I'm recognizing the shift in how much time I get with my kids.

They are awesome kids.  All kids will wear you down.  All kids will push your buttons.  But your own kids are always worth it.  We have so much fun working in the yard together.  We love to spend an entire day crafting on a rainy day.  We love to spend a whole morning or afternoon at the park.  We love to snuggle on the couch and read books (or on occasion, watch a movie).  We love to ride bikes at the track.  We love to cook together.  Really, the list goes on and on. 

So, I wouldn't say I feel sadness about sending Mannchen off to Kindergarten next year.  I just feel a huge awareness that our number of hours together each day are growing shorter.  And the year following him, Töchterchen will head off to Kindergarten.  And I don't have any other babies.  And I never will.  And the era of precious, helpless little people, depending on me for most everything ALL DAY LONG will be over.  As will the era of spending day after day, filled with hour upon hour, together.

And so, in the meantime, we are going to LIVE this summer up.  Less work for me.  Hubby will be right here, at home, working in town.  Maybe one camp per kids...maybe no camps for the kids  Time.  Just glorious, glorious time together.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Weekend

Wow, what a beautiful weekend!  Not much going on outside of our home and yard (other than a little soccer and gymnastics).  We have been in need of a weekend at home, filled with sunshine, good food, and family.    Let's do it again in a few days!
This boy knows how to make a great breakfast!  Bacon and eggs are his specialty - and I pitched in the cinnamon rolls. 

Working in their fort.

Ok, maybe one is working, the other did a lot of directing and dancing.  Fairly typical stuff around here.

We started on the fairy/gnome garden.  We cleaned up what was there, edged out the area, and filled it in with mulch.  The kids have BIG plans now.
Gnome home!

Plenty to plant!

More work in the kids' fort area.  Mannchen wanted to add a garden this year.  I tend to refuse to get involved because I want them to feel like this is their space and theirs alone.  Mannchen had bigger plans than he could tackle on his own (think root removal), so Daddy pitched in to help.  I found myself up there after awhile also....it's hard to say no to such excitement.  Hopefully we were able to get things started and the kids can take it from here.

Washing the fairy food and accessories from years past.

All this work wore someone out.

Our family vegetable garden is in now also!  Hubby moved the grill from the far end to the closest end (the grill cover is visible in the bottom right corner).  The closest end of the garden didn't get much sun and it makes more sense to have the grill close to the door.  He then dug up the far end all the way to the corner of the house and we mulched in the area where the grills sit.  We considered pavers under the grills, but mulch was our quick and easy fix.

Starting to fill the pots again.  The large half dead one in the middle is thyme.  I think it's coming back to life...but half of it appears to differ.  I'm hoping it will pull through.  The chives made it through the winter.  We replaced the oregano, lavender, and rosemary.  In Newport News, rosemary always survived and could grow into shrubs.  It's weird to have to replant it each year.

Besides the lily that was here when we moved in (the only plant in a sea of weeds that my brother-in-law cleared), this is ALL spinach.  We love spinach.  I could fill the whole bed with spinach and still want more.

Not sure that she'll stick with gymnastics or that it's really her "thing", but she's so stinkin' cute to watch and enthusiastic about the whole ordeal!  And at this age, it's just about the fun.

U5 soccer is adorable.  Need a smile?  Go watch this age group play.  Major props to Hubby for his patience with them all!
Well there you go, a whole weekend in photos.  Lots of photos.  And lots of beautiful moments, filled with loads of love.
How was your weekend?  Hope you were able to enjoy the sun and warmth also!

The Kitchen

I've been meaning to take early morning pictures of our kitchen for several weeks now.  But early mornings are not a practical time to take pictures in our house.  I've also been meaning to clear things out of the kitchen to "stage" it for pictures, but we use this room constantly.  So that doesn't work for us either. 

Then I decided, why stage pictures?  Most "idea" kitchens don't look like they are used.  This is a real kitchen.  It's used all day long.  I remember all the things we had to remove when we were selling our old house - nothing on the counters or fridge.  Sure it made for good pictures, but it stopped looking like our kitchen.  And so today, I vacuumed the floors, tidied up a little bit (i.e. removed the crap from the table), and otherwise left everything in place.  Truth be told, I do keep a clean kitchen - seriously, dirty dishes do not pile up in my sink.  I learned long ago that it is easier to wash as you go, rather than let them pile up and have to do a full day's worth (or days' worth) at one time.  I clean houses for a living, so I know all about how important it is to wipe everything down each night.  BUT this is our kitchen, dining room, craft area, and favorite (most used) room of the house.  Stuff can pile up in here.  We don't have a pantry or excess storage space - so there's generally a case or two of beer in the corner next to the microwave.  The table usually has the paper, water bottles, and napkins on it.  And we're almost always cooking/baking something.  And so, I present to you a very tidy, but real, presentation of our real kitchen - complete with loved pictures on the fridge, appliances and such on the counters, and dishes in the drainer. 

The hallway is not technically part of the kitchen, but it's close enough.  This is a shot of the hallway and the kids' desk/craft area.  Most activities end up spilling over to the table, but when only one is working they do use this area for quiet work.  Additionally, it houses all of the craft supplies they have constant access to - paper, scrap fabric/yarn, pencils, markers, scissors, glue, etc.  Above the desk is another collection of their art and to the side is the beloved white board.

See, five minutes later there's already a cook book out and pizza dough in the mixer. 
Happy Monday!  I hope everyone's week gets off to a great start today!

Friday, April 10, 2015

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Where to go from here

I miss blogging, but I have also felt at a loss for what to write about for most of the past year or so.  Our little family has been stretched and has grown in many areas since our move...and life looks a little different now.  I don't do as many at home activities with the kids - they have a wonderful preschool to help with that.  We don't own our house - so that changes our outlook on home projects...even though I did put hours and gallons into painting this itty bity apartment.  The littles aren't babies or toddlers anymore - they are actual little people.  I feel like I can't share everything they go through now because a part of me realizes I should censor how much of their life, attitudes, and changes are shared with the world wide web.  I also can't go around making huge professions of things, pissing everyone off left and right, as I blab about the things that really get me "worked up".  And our life is constantly evolving.  We have been in a season of constant evaluation of where we are and where we want to go.  What works one day/week/month/year is not the same thing that works the next day/week/month/year.  I am well aware of the fact that over sharing just makes us (me) look like a fool, because life is anything but constant.

So....where do I go with this space from here?  I like having a place to share.  I would love to get back into the habit of posting more regularly.  Life is just as beautiful as ever.  My children are just as cherished.  They still teach me oh. so. much.  We are still forging our way through an increasingly homemade, homegrown life.  The hubby is excelling.  Our marriage is blooming.  And I'm enjoying being along for the ride.

But, you know, life (and parenting) is a journey, not a destination.  There is no point we reach at which we know exactly what we are doing and everything falls into place.  It's messy.  And beautiful.  And wonderful.  It raises us up in moments of glory and knocks us down in puddles of dispair.  And all along the way, it teaches us that there is no one right way and no one wrong way...but a really messy blend of both.  Our journey may not be your journey, but how boring would the world be if they were all the same?  And I suppose that is the reason why I share.

So, hang with us as we figure out how to navigate from here.  I want to keep this as a space to cherish the little things.  The posts may be shorter.  They may not give as much detail as they have at times in the past.  They may skim over the rough and focus on the beautiful.  But that's what I want to come back to, to reflect on as the years go by.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Broken Record

In my late high school years and the beginning of college, I didn't want to go to college.  I went without complaining and was even excited to be there, but my life goals didn't include career or educational goals.  I honestly just wanted to marry and have a family.  But I did really well in college.  I finished my freshman year with a 3.9 GPA.  The summer after my freshman year I worked in a chemistry lab, helping a graduate student with her research.  And I loved it.  And I set a goal that someday I wanted to get a graduate degree myself.

As college went on, I did more undergraduate research.  I was accepted into a summer program at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Melon in Mathematical Biology - a field I was highly interested in because of it's involvement in cancer research.  I left the program after two weeks mostly because of a cute boy that I missed terribly  - and I can admit that now because I am very happily married to him.  After that I didn't know what I wanted to do with my career.  I thought about architecture.  I worked at an architectural design firm for the rest of that summer and enjoyed it.  I interned with the university architect my senior year of college.

I graduated college with honors.  I worked for a year at a design company.  It was a ton of fun, but I could not handle sitting at a desk all day.  I taught high school math for a year.  I married that cute boy.  I started to teach a second year of school.  A few months into that year, I found out I was pregnant.  I knew I wasn't going to return to teaching after the baby was born.

The baby was born.  I was a mother.  It was more beautiful, moving, and harder than I ever imagined.  He was (and still is) an excellent sleeper.  He was (and still is) a super snuggler.  He filled my heart with more love than I ever imagined.  He caused tears and frustrations I never imagined.  He taught me more than I ever imagined.

Then his sister came.  She changed everything.  She was an even better sleeper.  But I was even more exhausted.  Everything was undone as quickly (or quicker) as I could get it done.  Everything he didn't think to get into, she did.  She was happier, but louder and more dramatic.  She was more wide open, but just as sweet.

The husband I always hoped for.  Two babies I always hoped for.  The life I always wanted.  Life was so good.

But when she was closing in on one, the idea of graduate school crept back into my mind.  We were strapped financially and if I had a higher degree, that would help fix our finances.  Graduate school (Round I) didn't go well.  My heart was at home with those babies every moment I was at school.  I realized I no longer had any interest in higher level mathematics.  It's hard to realize something that you once enjoyed just doesn't hold your interest in the least.  I finished out the semester barely - one W, one F, and one C-.  You can decide for yourself if that even counts as finishing.

I dove back into motherhood with absolute vengeance and a renewed sense of purpose.  I think that following year was when I had my best mothering moments.  I was in it.  I was focused.

Then we moved.  The cute boy was now a handsome man and pursuing new goals for our sweet family.  He was no longer the unfocused boy I fell in love with.  He was focused and he had purpose to get a higher degree for our family.  I struggled tremendously last year - I cried and struggled to find happiness in our new "home".  I missed friends.  I missed being able to stay at home completely.  But I loved supporting his dreams.  And really, his dreams are our dreams.  All of these things happened because of open communication.  We moved because we felt like it was the best thing to do, but moving is still hard even when you want to do it and know it's best.

Then the kids started preschool.  And I turned 30.  Eek.  Still not 100% ok with that number.  It means I have to start being an official grown-up.  I kind of liked the 20s - kinda grown up, kinda not really yet.  And that grad school concept started creeping back in.  I mean, we're already in a college town.  I had a better idea of what I would like to study.  The grandparents live here to help out.  And I thought and thought.  And thought some more.  And I figured if I'm going to do this, I better do it now.

So I decided to change areas of study.  And I did a lot of self studying throughout the fall and early winter.  And I started to audit one (undergraduate) class this semester.  And I loved the material covered.  And at first is was really fun to have something all for myself.  After a summer of "single" parenting and a really slam packed busy fall semester for the hubby, it was fun to be a little selfish.

But then the hubby's workload kept growing.  And my workload was full, on top of still working part-time.  And reality set in that four and five year old kids can do a lot, but they still need a lot.  And I kept feeling like I needed to ask more and more of my parents.

And just like a broken record, last week I walked away from higher education in the name of family.  And I do it with my head held high.

I don't get a do-over with my kids.  I don't get a do-over with these years when my spouse needs my support the most.  And I think the most important thing I can do right now is listen to the cries of my heart.  My heart continually calls me back to my love of family and being a stay-at-home mother. 

Someday my children will be grown.  Some day my spouse will be settled into a career.  And maybe then again, my idea of graduate school will resurface with a renewed meaning and purpose.  But for now, I have gained a clarity of how fortunate I am.  I get to make these choices.  I get to choose being at home or going to school.  And I feel so very fortunate that I can continue to choose family.

And so, yet again, just like a broken record, I return my focus to my family and my home with a renewed sense of purpose and joyfulness in my heart.  I only get one shot at this life and I'm going to make it count for the people that mean the most to me.