Sunday, July 31, 2011

Keeping My Head Above Water

That's pretty much all I can do right now.  This class is a killer!  Everyone assures me that school gets much easier after word, it has to, or there would be no dental hygienists!

I have been missing in action from my blog recently, and unfortunately, that's going to be the norm for the next two weeks until this class is over.  After that, I hope to get back into a schedule.  Two weeks - eight classes - three more tests - can I ignore that last part?  It's just one more hurtle on the way to my dream...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's Special Guest - Our Good Life

I am so excited to have my first Working with Delight guest post today!  Aurie Good from Our Good Life is sharing some great tips to help busy moms.  She has a beautiful blog (click on her blog button below to check it out) and the most adorable little girls!  Thanks so much for joining us and guest posting today, Aurie!

Welcome to Our Good Life

As a momma with 2 busy little girls, keeping on schedule is pretty important. Add in my husband’s schedule as minister, and my schedule working part time as an administrator at a neighboring church and our day to day lives can be down right chaotic!

My girls do not thrive in chaos. At all.

My husband gets stressed out by chaos.

Me – I live for chaos! The more the merrier – but in order to have our house filled with happy people, I needed to find a way to rein it all in.

In an attempt to streamline our days we implemented a few simple tools {which are free or very inexpensive!}

• We signed up for Google Calendar. This has been a huge help for us! We can access it from work, home or even my phone to make sure we are all on the same page.

• I purchased a dry erase weekly calendar board from Kohl’s on clearance. On it I have spaces for hubby, each girl, and myself so we can see at a glance what is going on each day.

• I plan our dinner meals a week in advance and post in the kitchen. This has been a wonderful way to take the stress out of figuring out what to toss together for dinner. Better still, my adorable husband can look at the board and get dinner started. Another bonus: having our meals pre-planned has cut back on the amount of spontaneous trips to the grocery store and eating out.

• Laundry. Ahh…the dreaded laundry. I do 2 loads of wash everyday except for Sunday. One in the morning, and one in the evening. The girls are each on Monday and Thursday, hubby and I are Tuesday and Saturday and Wed is reserved for sheets and towels.

It was amazing to me how much better our days flow when we know what is going on, and how to plan for each day. There are still days when I rush out forgetting the diaper bag, or remember that the library books were due yesterday – but we all have those moments, right?

Aurie Good is a minister’s wife, a retired youth minister and quite possibly the most relaxed mom you will meet! She is married to her best friend and considers the simple life they have created together absolute bliss! She is a momma to Sophie (3), Isabelle (20 months) and 1 angel waiting in heaven. Her blog is full of the crazy fun adventures that the Good family embarks on each day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Strong One

People tell me a lot that I'm a strong woman.  They think that because I'm juggling so much, I'm naturally strong and organized and able to do it all.  They see me going to school, working, helping my husband at our church and raising a family and they think, "Wow, she's confident, she's strong, she's energetic, and she really has it together."

Let me set the record straight right now: they're wrong.  Really, really wrong.  I'm not strong and I'm not confident, and I don't have anything together.  I'm a mess.  I'm weak.  I'm afraid.  I'm a natural born worrier.  I stress out and freak out about little things.  I have no confidence in myself.  And most of the time I'm really, really tired.  I'm not at all what people think I am.

I'm not a strong woman.  I'm just a woman who has faith in a really strong God.  Psalm 73:26 says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  When I feel like I'm falling apart, I know that my Daddy has me wrapped in His strong arms.  When I'm weak, He gives me all the strength I need to get through the day.  When I don't have the energy to get through another minute, He gives me rest.  He's my life, my breath, my everything.  He's the strong One.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are You Busy?

Join the party, write about one of the topics below and link up!

1. What invitation would you love to receive?
2. Does your life feel too busy or not busy enough?

I love Hobby Lobby.  I could myself into soooo much trouble in that store!  By the time I leave, I find myself wanting to resume my old scrapbooking and drawing hobbies and learn to knit, make jewelry, decorate aprons, and design my own flip flops.  The running joke among my family and friends is that I can do all my spare time.  They all know that I don't even know what spare time is anymore.

Right now, I am completely, totally, and entirely too busy.  To be honest, I'm running on fumes right now, just trying to keep my head above water and survive from week to week.  A demanding college program and a demanding job equal one exhausted mom. 

Three days a week, I am away from home for 13 hours.  I leave my house at 7:00 a.m. for two to six hours of college classes, depending on what day it is.  Once class is done, I head to work, where I wear every hat from equipment tech to custodian, from office manager to trainer, from cheerleader to counselor.  After getting off work at 7:30 p.m., I arrive home at 8:00 to eat dinner, then hit the books to study until I collapse into bed around 11:00.  Thankfully this summer class only lasts three and a half more weeks, but then I only get a few days to recover before the fall semester starts with basically the same demanding, fast-paced schedule.

I'm trying to prioritize my days.  Thankfully, I have my amazing husband - he's helping with the kids and cleaning house so I can focus on school.  I'm trying to make sure I carve out time for quiet time each morning and working out several evenings a week - those are my sanity savers!  I eat dinner with my family around the table most nights, and I spend my weekends at home.  I wish I could take some things off my list, but it's just not possible right now.  I'm definitely way too busy, and I often question my sanity for deciding to go into the dental hygiene program, but I'm reminding myself that all the "busyness" will pay off when I'm done.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Week Down...

One week of dental hygiene school is now behind me.  I thought I was ready.  To a certain extent, I was, but wow - this is even harder than I expected.  The class is intense - think of it as anatomy and physiology on steroids.  The pace is frantic.  The stress is massive.  I'm still reeling from this week, preparing for my first test (Monday) followed immediately by my second test (lab, on Tuesday), and trying to figure out how to balance full-time school with almost full-time work and still have a life somewhere in there.

Thank goodness for blogging!  I'm so glad I have an outlet.  I can talk about school, or I can avoid the topic altogether...which is probably what I'll do the most, since it consumes pretty much every waking moment.  Sometimes I just want a break from it.  I've been so scattered with my blogging lately, but I promise, I am working to get it all together.

Right now, my major focus is going to be on consistency with two things: Working with Delight on Mondays (all about being a Christian working mom) and Faith Lived Out on Fridays.  I've dabbled with having a second blog called Faith Lived Out, but juggling two blogs with everything else is too much, so I'm combining them by making it a weekly feature on this blog.  More so now than ever, I feel like I'm focusing in on exactly who I am and what I want to share when it comes to blogging, and I can't wait to bring it all into my blog.

On that note: During the craziness of my summer class, I'm looking for guest bloggers for Working with Delight.  If you're a Christian working mom and you'd like to guest post, please drop me an email at amandablogs79(at)yahoo(dot)com.  You can write on any topic you choose related to being a CWM - how you balance it all, time saving tips, the best advice you've received, a devotional, books or other resources that have helped you out, etc.  I need guest posts for August 1st and August 8th.  I have a great guest post lined up for next week - I can't wait!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do You Need to Refocus?

It's so easy for families to get overwhelmed.  With Mom and Dad both working (in many cases), the kids in school and sports and other activities, church activies, managing your home, and more, it doesn't take long to feel like you've bitten off more than you can chew.

Years ago, I found a great resource...honestly, it's been so long that I'm not sure where I found it.  Over the years, I've added to it.  The Family Assesment is just a list of a few questions to ask yourself to help you refocus your family's time and activities. 

Up until now, I've used it mainly for major life changes for our family - for example, when we started homeschooling and when I returned to work.  My goal now is to use this once a month, during my weekly planning time, to make sure that our family is staying focused on what is most important to us. 
You can download the PDF here.  It's nothing fancy - this is the first time I've ever done a PDF for download on my blog - but I hope it will help you as much as it has helped me over the years.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Working Mom Wrap-Up - 7/9

This week was hectic, and I didn't do as much blog reading as I normally do, but here are two great posts from the past week...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Creatures of Habit

#1. How important to you, as a working mom, is a schedule/routine for your kids?

#2. Given the opportunity, which would you accept - a bigger salary and less benefits OR a smaller salary and top-notch benefits?

I am such a creature of habit.  In fact, my entire family is like that!  We love vacations, but we're always so happy to get home and get back into our family routine.  Since we are also a homeschooling family, and because as of Monday, I will be a full-time college student, we need routine even more to keep everyone on track and to keep things running smoothly.

We don't have to be as strict with routines as we did when they were litte - at 9 and 6, my boys are way past nap time - and because of my husband's job, they can be pretty flexible.  He is more laid back with their schedule during the day, but I look forward to our routine each night when I get home from work.  We definitely stick to a pattern.

If I get home early enough, we eat dinner together as a family.  Even on the nights I get home late, after everyone has eaten, sometimes my boys will come sit with me at the table and we'll talk.  We sit down together before bedtime, too, to read the Bible and a kids devotional together, and to write in our family gratitude journal.  I pray with each of them and sing our special song as I tuck them in.  It's nothing fancy, but each of them has their own special song that I made up for them when they were babies, and they still love for me to sing it to them.  Our evenings together are the highlight of my day, especially on my three "long days" each week, when I'm away from home for 13 hours.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ten Mommy Myths

Top Ten {Tuesday}

There always seems to be such a huge debate, at least online, between stay at home moms and working moms.  I've walked both sides of that line, and I know first-hand that there are so many misconceptions about moms in general.  I've broken down my top 10 list this week into two lists:

Five Stay at Home Myths

1. SAHM's don't "work."
They may not work outside the home, but if you've ever chased an active toddler or bounced a fussy baby all day, with no help, while caring for older kids and attempting to prepare meals and clean house, you've never really worked.  SAHM's don't sit around eating bon bons all day - they work all day long, every day, with no vacation days.  I love the quote I read in the book Don't Make Me Come Up There - the author, Kristen Welch, said that she got tired of people asking, "Oh, you don't work?" so she started telling them, "I'm a mom - what's your superpower?"

2. SAHM's aren't well educated.
I have several friends with college degrees who decided to stay home with their children or work only part time while their children were small.  They know that the financial sacrifice is worth it - you will always have time to build your career, but you won't always have those early years with your kids.

3. Housekeeping is easy for SAHM's because they're home all day.
Yes, they are at home...with small messmakers running around the house all day, making housekeeping dramatically harder.  Then get old enough to "help" - and it gets even crazier.

4. Friendships are easier for SAHM's because they have more time.
When your schedule revolves around small children, it's hard to find time for anything else.  Other SAHM's are busy with their families, while working mom friends have a totally different schedule than yours.  One of the hardest parts of being a SAHM is the lonlieness that you experience all too often.

5. SAHM's have lots of free time.
Babies and small kids have a way of completely absorbing every waking moment of your time.  You go and go all day, until the kids are finally tucked safe and snug into bed.  Then you collapse into a comatose least until the baby gets up for a midnight feeding or the preschooler wakes from a nightmare.  Being a full-time mom is exhausting, and it's hard to find time for yourself.

Five Working Mom Myths

1. Working moms choose to work.
I heard that for years, and was even guilty of feeling that way myself - until I had to go back to work.  Every working mom I know works because she has to, not because she wants to.  Many of my friends are the co-breadwinner or the primary breadwinner in their family.  Their husbands work, too - the wife just happens to be in a field that earns more money or is in higher demand.  Or in some cases, she is a single mom, and is therefore the sole source of income for her children.

2. Working moms could cut back their standard of living and stay home.
Again, most moms work because they have to.  They struggle to stay within their budget, just like SAHM's.  They clip coupons, shop from clearance racks, and plan their shopping trips carefully.  They are working for living expenses, not extras and "toys."

3. Working moms don't put their family first.
If staying home means your family going under financially, then going to work is putting your family first.  As a working mom, I put priority on spending time with my family on my days off and in the evenings.  Family mealtimes are important, and I spend every moment I can with my husband and kids.  I even chose a career that allows a lot of flexibility so that I can be with my family more.

4. Housekeeping is easier for working moms because no one is home all day.
Same amount of chores - drastically less time to do them.  Enough said.

5. Working moms have lots of support.
Do a Google search for Christian working mom.  You'll find a great website by Kimberly Chastain on the first two links...on the third, you'll find an article stating that a woman's only roles in life should be to "get married, have children, guide the house, and live a perfect testimony so not once can the adversary (Satan) say anything reproachful about you."  There is so little support out there for Christian moms who work outside the home.  Critics are isn't.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mark it "Done"

I had a huge list of things I wanted to accomplish today.  I hit the ground running this morning, and I'm happy to say I got almost everything done!

1. Laundry caught up
2. Grocery shopping
3. Living room cleaned
4. Cooked dinner and a huge batch of meatballs - the start of my "once a month cooking" experiment
5. Kitchen cleaned - partially anyway
6. Dog cleaned - she hates bath day
7. Shopping for new clothes with my nine year old

Tomorrow I'll finish my OMAC ambitions with a layered meatball casserole and some breakfast burritos.  I'm tired, but its a happy tired.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 4th of July Edition

I'm trying out some recipes this week that sound promising.  I'm hoping they taste as good as they look!

Monday:  Mexican hamburger casserole (a family fave - get the recipe here)

Tuesday:  layered meatball casserole (I'm cutting the recipe into two dishes - one for now, one for the freezer)

Wednesday:  grilled chicken and chorizo sandwiches
Thursday:  NEW RECIPE - slow cooker Tex-Mex chicken
Friday:  meatball minestrone

Saturday:  cheesy chicken and pasta (I'm trying out the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme)
Sunday: special meal at church

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Working Mom Wrap-Up

I'm starting something new...while my title isn't overly original, this fits right in with my goal to provide great resources for working moms.  Each weekend, I'll post my favorites reads from the week.  There are so many great bloggers out there, sharing such great information.  Here are this week's highlights...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pressing In

Today I'm feeling the be everything to everyone, to balance it all and do it all.  It sounds good, but its an impossible goal, and I know it.  So I do the only thing I can...I pour my heart out to the Savior, to my Savior, asking for His perfect strength, telling Him how scared I am by the load I'm carrying.  This week its all pressing in on me...wife, mom, employee, student.  I can't do it on my own.  I can't even come close.  I need Him every step of the way.  So I pour my heart out to Him, and I feel peace at last, because I know He will give me everything that I need.

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