4 Things I’ve Learned This First Year of Working from Home

I cannot believe it has been one year since I packed up my classroom at a high school in Temecula and went home to work with my husband. Time has definitely flown by and I have learned so much.

1. Family Is More Important To Me Than Ever Before

Family vacations are so important

Our family at the Grand Canyon during Spring Break

I took the plunge and left my comfortable and safe job of teaching to risk the economical consequences of being home more with my kids. While I still work, being there with them in the morning for breakfast, taking them to school, doing homework with them, and even helping my oldest son with his independent studies once a week has given me a drive to want to step it up. To do more with them. Be more with them. Instead of reading teaching books to improve my teaching, I’m reading parenting books to improve my parenting. I’m reading one right now called Different Children, Different Needs that is just life changing for me. It is helping me see the different qualities in my children and how my words and behavior as a parent can nurture and hurt them based on those qualities. I’m not done with it yet. But it inspires me to love my kids and discipline them differently. We are also setting a two year goal to move all our kids to a hybrid homeschool. The lessons and practice I’m getting now will help me do well when that time comes, if God wills it.

2. Working Alongside My Husband Has Brought Us So Much Closer and More Aligned

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Owen and I in our live stream studio for our upcoming show, Power Your Passion.

We have had to spend A LOT of time together. Wow! And with that, we have had to annoy each other, love each other, and communicate with each other all. day. long. It actually has helped us uncover the fact that we both communicate differently. And so we have had to be students of each other in a whole new way than before. Learning our DISC profiles have been incredibly helpful and that is the same tool we have used to communicate better with our children. But let me tell you– having a common goal, sitting together at night both working on the same project, stressing together and rejoicing together over successes and failures in our business has been incredibly good for us. I don’t feel so disconnected, trying to understand why he felt a certain way about his work and trying to remember names of people and such while I feigned interest. He does not struggle anymore with resenting my piles of papers to grade or my long commute home because it is taking attention from him or the family…the list goes on. Through this all, we have also come along side each other in a marriage ministry and are helping other couples become more aligned. That common ministry has helped us become better spouses as well, forcing ourselves to practice what we preach.

3. I’mMore Complicated Than I Thought I Was

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I thought that if I came home from work that I wouldn’t be as busy, that I would workout more, that I would be more present, that I’d blog more, and all of that. But I’m learning that some of my issues are truly issues and are rooted in myself, not on my circumstances. I can only blog if I wake up earlier, and I’m still struggling in that department. Sleep wins the argument every morning! I also still go through long phases of not exercising like I should (and with not walking around my classroom all day, it has definitely affected my weight, so I need to fix this). I still struggle with being present and now have reminders set up on my phone, and am working to be more conscious of my tendency to be lost in my thoughts and overly task oriented. The books I’m reading are helping me see this as well. And I’m learning that I create business in my life. I do it to myself. So I’m looking forward to growing in these areas.

4. God is Moving and the Future is Grand

IMG_8285God is teaching Owen and I so much about the power of faith, and opening doors for us in areas I’d never dreamed. Who knows what the future holds but the silhouettes forming on the horizon of the future are nothing like would have expected had someone asked me to forecast the future a year or more ago. We have started a family vlog, are looking at investing into an idea of Owen’s with one of our friends, are getting more marriage ministry opportunities, and more. We are even now working on house projects together to improve our home and planning to hopefully move our family to the Austin area in Texas when Kanan graduates high school. We still have concerns about Owen’s health and with the risk of owning a business, and kids there are plenty of worries, but that is where God is teaching so much about faith and trust. We live by him each day. And no matter what happens, we are trusting in Him and his plans for us.

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A lot Can Change in 10 Years: My Birthday Reflections

It’s my birthday in a couple of days. I will be a whopping 38 years old. Is it weird that I’m excited for the big 4-0 coming in a couple of years? I think it’s because I see more growth ahead. I figured this out when I looked at myself 10 years ago in comparison to where I am today. Then I looked at 10 years before that and 10 years before that…wow! So much can change. So much can get better. Interested in my 10 year milestones? I sure hope it encourages you to keep growing and to keep loving and to never give up. It can all be redeemed.

Age 8

IMG_1184I loved to write stories and draw pictures on printer paper from my Grandma’s office with my baby brother. To play with Barbie dolls on Saturday mornings with my younger sister. And dress up in pretty clothes and make up from my mom’s endless supply.

I missed my dad but would start a 4 year journey after my mom’s remarriage of only seeing my father once or twice a year. Those 2-week-long trips to Lake Tahoe did my heart much good. So when my mom moved us back up the Inland Empire from San Diego and met my stepdad, my father gave up the chase for my mother and took a step back on his parenting for another 8 years while my step-dad took us in,  provided us a home, stable school and clothes. We needed that. We did. But he had a temper and I never really felt truly loved by him. I always felt like I had to earn his love and was never quite good enough. I doubt he meant to make me feel this way. But he did. And oh how much I wanted him to love and approve of me. In those times he did show, it meant so much.

And these relationships with my fathers set the stage for so much struggle in my life in my view of men and myself as a person. This perpetual chase for my fathers’ love and approval through the attention of boys.  I did not know my Father in heaven yet…but I would soon…soon I’d be singing praises at the local Baptist church and asking Jesus into my heart, the beginning seed of redemption for my life.

Age 18

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At my friend Melanie’s wedding with my high school friends within a year of us graduating high school. Don’t let the smile fool you. I was a wreck.

Fast forward 10 years. I’m 18 years old. I’m depressed, angry, eager to grow but so lost at the same time still, seeking my value and worth in the attention of young men. My mother and step-father had divorced a year or two before after 8 years of marriage. I still bore the emotional wounds of his hurtful adjectives on my heart as well as emptiness from my own rebellion against him and I was still not over getting recently dumped by my first love who I gave everything to at the age of 15 on a cold, January night when I pushed the protective arms of Jesus aside and said yes to the velvet hands of the world.

So now high school graduation had passed and I needed a savior again. My father took me in to his home still two counties away, helped me get a driver’s license, and got me enrolled at the local community college to start my prerequisites for dental hygiene school. This was my one year of cleansing myself from my past before moving forward with my life. I took 12-15 units a semester, had no job, but sat at my dad’s kitchen island drinking multiple glasses of espresso, studying, writing poetry, reading books, and listening to all the melancholy rock ballads I could find that could tap into the core of my pain I didn’t know how to numb.

This phase would not last long, however. At the core of me, I still believed I needed alcohol and drugs to have a good time and I would soon head right into that lifestyle I had dabbled in before.  I believed this lifestyle my stepdad tried to stop me from living was ultimately fulfilling, made life worth living, and could be done while still getting an education. My real father was good to me, and I cherish the memories I had in his home during my college years. But he trusted me too much without knowing entirely all that I was doing, especially the early years of college.  So I balanced my partying and studying through college, eventually making money by waiting tables, tutoring, and copywriting– racked up a couple of degrees, a teaching credential, and a collection of baggage I’d take to the cross again 10 years later after my 13 year hiatus I began in 1995.

Age 28

The day before my 28th birthday, I published a blog post that would prompt a colleague of mine named Kelley to walk into my classroom at Oceanside High School with a cup of Starbucks and a card with a hundred-dollar bill inside for some tires I needed and a note that said, “everything I have belongs to the Lord. And he wanted you to have this.” Everything in my life changed from that point on.

I had been teaching for 5 years, calmed down from my wild college years and was living with my boyfriend of 6 years and our 8-month-old son. I no longer partied anymore, and in the quietness of my more clean life,  and a temporary peace, I had ironically been dealing with a returned sense of emptiness and purposelessness for the last couple of years which had led us to a 4 month break up two-years prior, then back together, then with a child I believed would finally lead me to feel good about who I was at my core. But a number of stresses lead me to vent on that blog and Kelley’s note was all I needed.

Within two weeks I was blogging about returning to church again, and a month later on the very day I pushed Jesus away in 1995, I decided to return to him–not knowing it was the same date until a few months later. But it was 13 years to the day.

By April, my son’s father and I had broken up again. This time for good. He didn’t want to marry a “Christian” when I told him we needed to marry for me to stay under his roof. I loved him. And after 6 years of being together despite the short break up 2 years prior. I didn’t think it was much to ask for given my new faith.

The rejection was difficult to bear. I was angry, devastated, confused. But I knew one thing. God was alive in my life and I could not give him up to return to where I was. I was not going back.

I moved in temporarily with my sister and by the end of summer the following year, I was living with my father again. He gave me a place rent free. Helped me discipline my son. And comforted me during that pivotal transition in my life as I tried to find myself again outside of a man’s affection. I’m so glad to have that time with my daddy during that time. I need him. I had no idea that he would die tragically 3 years later when I would be pregnant with my second son, leaving me with just 13 years of knowing him well to redeem those 13 years I didn’t after his divorce from my mom. 13 precious years. That is what I would get.

Age 38

IMG_5571It’s been another ten years. I’m not going to say the story is over. God still isn’t done with me yet…not by far. But God is good.

I am happily married to a man who loves Jesus as much as I do, who puts his arm around me at church every Sunday. with 4 beautiful children under the age of 10. He makes a wonderful step father to my 10-year-old son who our own three children love and admire as well. Our marriage itself has been a testimony. Today, we own a home in an older neighborhood in North County, San Diego. Its our first home and we love it. It has a big back yard with lots of trees. We will be adding on to it soon.

After a 13-year-career as an English teacher, I am on a leave-of-absence, now working side-by-side with my husband on our small business from home so I can be more involved in my children’s lives. I take them to school, I pick them up, I take them to doctor’s visits during the day rather than squeeze them in at 4:30 while still wearing my work shoes and a bag of papers to grade in the waiting room. I take them to the park in street clothes and push them on the swings without feeling a need to rush home and squeeze in all my other duties. I don’t want to go back to teaching anytime soon.

I also have this growing blog, a published children’s book about Jesus, and a growing marriage ministry my husband and I lead. These projects are passion projects that help me make my footprint in the world.

Most importantly– I am ten years in my relationship with my creator and God. He continues to teach me and love me. In him I have purpose, joy, and peace in a world that tells me I have no purpose, tries to rob me of my joy and entice me with temporary happiness in trivial things that ultimately leave me empty; it gives me peace in a world full of war and pain. He has redeemed all the previous decades of my life and showed me how he uses it in my life and others for good and not for disaster.

Don’t get me wrong, as I said before–the story isn’t over. God is still working hard on me. In the last 10 years I’ve been broken up, lost my job, found a new job 45 minutes away, married quickly, had a miscarriage, supported my husband through unemployment and full-time college, helped him start and grow a business, mourned the death of my father and my grandmother, had three more children (all three very sick within the first 3 weeks of life), moved three times, supported my husband through cancer, quit my safe job of 13 years to come home…God.Has.Used.It.All. I even reconnected with my stepfather and we BOTH apologized for our wrongs against each other. It was so freeing.

But I’ve still got some daddy issues that come out in my own marriage–my husband’s approval of me I often hold up more important than anything else, even God. So I’m learning still to cast my idols at the foot of the cross every day. God has done much to help me grow in my faith, my joy ,and sense of purpose so I don’t doubt that in 10 more years, I will have another testimony. Or in my case, God also likes the number 13, the number of a completion. He’s a poet that way.

There is so much more I could say, but I’ll save that for my future memoir one day. Maybe I’ll have that started when I’m 48. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Depressed or Anxious and Not Sure Why?

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Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

If you have been battling some depression or anxiety lately and don’t know why–unless you are suicidal, before you jump on the “I must have a chemical imbalance” bandwagon and ask your doctor for a prescription of Prozac, check yourself in the this area. It could be a possible cause that you can address right away. 

How’s Your Nutrition?

There are a wealth of resources, scientifically backed that shows the mind and body connection and the significant role nutrition plays. Food is our medicine. It is. If you are not eating right, and especially if you have not eaten right in years, the accumulative effects can wreak havoc on your gut, your immune system, your hormones, your brain (including your neurotransmitters), and organs….the list is endless.

If we were to look at the health issues that are plaguing this country, depression and anxiety is one of them. How is it that in a country where wealth is abundant, where most people can live the American dream if they put in the effort, that we are the most depressed and anxious people in the world? This is a complex issue with many layers, but one of the most common among people I have met is nutrition. I go into this in more depth and also cover other layers in another blog. 

The American diet is filled with food that causes inflammation. Studies now show that inflammation is the root cause of DISEASE. It is your bodies natural reaction to damage in its attempt to heal itself. But when we are inflamed day after day for years….the consequences pile up so high it can be difficult for many to pinpoint the cause. It wasn’t until I reduced intake of inflammatory foods that I started seeing symptoms I assumed were unrelated or just normal because I had them so long now for the first time, disappear.

Here’s the Gyst:

  • If you eat inflammatory foods like white flour and cow dairy among others, you need to detox from this. inflammation prevents our gut from making serotonin. Serotonin is used in our brain to feel happy and calm. Less serotonin causes anxiety and depression.
  • If you eat empty calories–snacky foods you buy in the dry sections of the grocery store and not around the perimeter (fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, and whole grains) you are depriving your body of essential minerals and vitamins it needs to make your body function as God intended.
  • If you have taken antibiotics in your life and have not gone on a long-term recovery and maintenance plan of multi-strain flora to replenish your gut with healthy bacteria, you are only exasperating the problems that the first two cause. We digest the food in our intestines through the help of healthy bacteria that live in our gut. This helps us break it down into usable parts for our body to function, it helps reduce any inflammation caused by the bad food, and helps our body eliminate toxins and used hormones.

The research and explanation about how all of this works is abundant. If you are a reader or want to learn more, I highly suggest any one of these books. 

There are also a variety of supplements to jump-start your healing and supplement your healthy nutritional intake as you transition into a life of well-being and healthy eating. Check out my blog where I go into much more depth on diet and supplements here.

I have battled clinical depression and anxiety most of my life. I tried counseling. I tried prescription anti-depressants, but as soon as I was off, it was back again. It was not until the last 10 years have I been able to finally uncover the role my diet and nutrition played in these feelings. When I eat right and take the supplements I need to fill in those gaps, I don’t struggle with it. When I start cheating again and getting out of my good habits, those feelings come back. Some people are just more susceptible to these things. It can run in families too. My dad’s side of the family is filled with anxiety and gut issues. And the more people I talk to, the more I see it everywhere. Test my theory out. Give it 8 weeks.  And I’d recommend this while on meds as well if you are on them with the intention to one day be free from those drugs and be healed. 

Then please comment below and let me know what you discover. It takes 6 weeks for meds to start working. With diet and supplements you should start seeing changes within 2 weeks. 

If you are already taking meds, try this while staying on the meds and then talk with your doctor about trying to wean slowly off to see what happens. Only do this if your trusted doctor approves. Or get a second opinion. There are some levels of depression that you need to really be careful with. Meds may be necessary for some as you work on complete healing through diet and other possible factors. 
I’ll be writing a future blog on those other factors like environment and stress. Until then, happy eating.

 

10 Tips For Joyfully Running a Small/Home Business with your Spouse

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Owen and I hosting our podcast together for Thriving, Sexy Marriage

Well summer has come and is almost over, so my transition period after quitting my job to come home and help my husband run our small business  and marriage ministry is slowly turning into the daily grind. There was much trial and error the first 3 months, but I think we have finally hit a sweet spot. Praise the Lord. The first month was the hardest for sure. But I’m all about fine tuning my work so that it runs like a machine. And through the tearful trials and fist slamming errors, I have come up with 10 tips I think will really help any woman who decides to work with her husband in a small/home business. They have helped us tremendously and as I figure out more, I will happily share. I really think these tips would be helpful even for women who stay home and their husbands work from home, but perhaps the wife is not too involved in the business side of things. As a helpmate, there is still some crossover that happens. Like, share, and comment if you agree.

1.Get an effective morning and evening routine down.

If you need to create a checklist to start it, then do that until the routine is down pat. This will help you start the day and end the day feeling so much more un top of things and with a clear idea of what the heck you are doing. My work week routine looks like this: exercise, coffee and bible study, prayer with husband, get kids up and to school, back home to get ready myself and breakfast. That’s a lot to squeeze in the morning so I wake up at 5:45 to do it. Yes I could sleep in until 7 am when I wake up my kids. But I wouldn’t be ready to be present with them while they were up. And I would end up putting exercise and my relationship with God on the back burner to work and other obligations. This provides the balance I need in my life. That is my morning routine. What could yours look like? Night time is equally as important. Prepping lunches for the next day, making sure the dishwasher is running the day’s dishes, quality time with the honey and family, enjoying quality time togther…so many important things to do each night that can easily set up a routine for the work week.

2. Start and end each day together in prayer–and before every big “meeting.”

Owen and I have learned quickly that prayer is key to helping us work together well and to verbally remind ourselves and offer to God our faith that he be in control and guide us in our daily activities. It also helps us be more united as we can be vulnerable together in our thanksgiving and requests.

3. Enjoy the intimacy benefits of being together throughout the day.

Change up the daily routine sometimes and take an extra long lunch break or a surprise morning break. This is what makes owning your own business together so unifying and fun. There are not sexual harassment laws to watch for, and all work flirtation and dating is perfectly permissible.

4. Set boundaries between the husband/wife relationship and the business partner relationship.

Don’t let the work stress interfere with the husband/wife relationship or vise versa or else all will be chaos!! That means– if hubby thinks you need to revise the blah blah blah form that you spend all morning working on, you don’t get to ignore him at dinner time. If you got into an argument the night before, that doesn’t mean you don’t email that client he is trying to woo into a bigger contract or schedule that meeting with hubs over your new campaign.

5. Dress for the day and look nice!

This will improve the quality of your work because you feel ready but it also keeps the attraction strong in the marriage. It is so important to respect your spouse as you would traditional colleagues. Showing up to work in sweat pants, a stained pajama shirt, and your unbrushed hair would be offensive to everyone. If you show them you care by dressing for the job, do the same for your business partner and spouse.

6. Decide together on a time to close the business and return to 100 percent husband/wife and family time.

Hold each other accountable to that agreed upon time. Yes, there’s that  one final email or that transaction in Quickbooks, or another edit you could make to your project. But you can do them all tomorrow and chances are the world will still turn. Give into those urges all the time, and your spouse and kids will always have memories of mom not being really present and just wrapped up in her phone or the computer all the time. You don’t want to have those regrets and perhaps a lack in closeness in those relationships because of those decisions. If you need to get a box to put your phones in so they are out of sight, this is an amazing one.

7. Don’t forget to set goals and dream together about your future.

This is essential to staying motivated and excited about working together. What kind of house will you buy? What charities will you donate to? What trips will you take?

8. Set milestone rewards along the way that benefit the marriage and family.

Pipe dream goals only work to an extent. You’ve got to keep the energy up with some immediate rewards along the way. For example, meet goal #1 and go on a nice date night. Meet goal #2 and get away for the weekend. Reach goal #3 than celebrate with the whole family on a Disneyland Trip….the options are endless. But those will help you and your spouse continue pushing to reach those bigger goals and of course create more unity as a couple and family in helping each other reach those goals.

9. Set up a meeting at the beginning of every week to calendar the week together.

We like Sunday nights or Monday mornings. It gives us time to look at our individual schedules and the family calendar to figure out the week: when is soccer practice? Who invited us to dinner and what days are we available? Who is going to the parent/teacher conference? How am I going to do this and that the same night you are flying out-of-state? It really helps prevent schedule conflicts that don’t show up until the day or moment of and inevitably ends in at least a bickering match.

10. Don’t forget why you decided to work together.

If you push those benefits and reasons off to the back burner, you lose them and working together may no longer be something you enjoy.

Bonus #1 Look into medical sharing co-ops as an alternative to expensive health insurance.

We are doing Christian Healthcare Ministries. Its costs $385 monthly donation for our whole family. Then if we need to go to the hospital or doctor’s office we pay the first $1000 per medical incident and then the co-op pays for the rest. We love it!! If you decide to join, let them know I referred you. I’ll get my next months monthly obligitory donation forgiven. 🙂

Bonus #2:If kids are at home while you are still working, take breaks to bond with them and plan activities to keep them busy during work sessions. 

It’s not always easy, but I like to do a 2 hr work session while my daughter does one predetermined activity. Then we take a break and run an errand, or read jump on the trampoline together, and have lunch. Then I do another shorter 1 hr session while she does another activity. Then its story and nap time for her for my 2nd hour work session before I’m off to pick up the brothers from school and do the whole after school routine with them, including karate or soccer practice, homework, and chores.

Hope you find these helpful! Like and share if enjoyed these tips and feel free to leave a comment sharing any tips of your own if you too work from home with your spouse.

 

 

 

Perspective: My First Month as a Full-Time Entrepreneurial Wife and Mom

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Enjoying Social Media Expert Wife benefits at the Bahia Resort while hubby spoke for Social Media Day SD.

Well it has been one month since I’ve been home from my teaching job and boy has it been mostly…….very hard. Ugh. I said it. Doesn’t mean I regret it. I just need to get through the transition. Quitting a salaried full-time position to be a full-time entrepreneurial wife and mom is a difficult transition. It’s not the same as quitting a job to be a full-time mom and wife (which is already a challenge in itself) because now I still have to work while doing the rest all at the same time. And my job is completely different than teaching high school English. It’s a completely different beast.

One of the current struggles I’m having is learning to give up my summer. I’m 37 years old and I have ALWAYS had summers off. I had summers off in grade school, high school, college, and then I became a teacher and I continued to have summer’s off. But now this summer, I’m not on vacation. I work from home. Although, to help me put things in perspective, I did get to enjoy an awesome time at the Bahia Resort last weekend with my kiddos while Owen spoke there for Social Media Day.

IMG_3079But on a typical week, I’m helping Owen with his business doing the tedious side work he shouldn’t be doing but has not been able to find an employee or virtual assistant to do it well or for any decent length of time. No one cares for the business the way we care for the business. I’m the best person for the job. And then I’m also writing scripts and recording videos for our Thriving, Sexy Marriage ministry.

I was really overwhelmed by all I’m learning the first 2 weeks but it’s getting a little easier the last two weeks. It has been “all Greek to me.” Learning Quickbooks, learning how to create “marketing tunnels” and use “auto-responder emails”, and refurbishing video into blogs, writing scripts, making gif memes, and recording myself without using a teleprompter like I’m used to….it’s a lot.

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our first podcast for thrivingsexymarriage was a hit and so much fun!

I cried a lot the first two weeks. More tears the first weeks then I’ve cried in months. There are many reasons. Everything is new. I was messing up on things. Everything takes longer. AND I’m not used to having my husband as my boss. (Whoa–that is hard for a woman who pretty much closes the doors to her classroom and teaches as she pleases). Because of the preoccupation with all that, I haven’t been speaking Owen’s love language, and when that happens, it doesn’t energize him to speak mine, which then doesn’t energize me to speak his, and…… you get the picture. We are marriage coaches, we know what is going on when we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. Sometimes not always in the moment, but when fed up with it, we can look at it and figure it out. Haha. So– we figured it out and we are back on track. This week we have been two little love birds—-on the same page, speaking each other’s love languages, and unified. Yay for victory #1!

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Jameson and Kanan rekindling their love for legos.

Still working on victory #2–mastering working and taking care of kids on summer break all a the same time. So how do I do all that? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have about 30 hours worth of work I need to do each week to get everything done and so I’m doing 2-hour shifts here, then breaking for lunch and taking the kids out for an errand, and then doing another 2-hour shift there and trying to complete the third 2-hour shift at night after they go to bed, but not every night.

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Benny is so loving to his sister

The struggle is finding activities that keep the kids occupied for the 2-hour-shifts. The videos have taken the longest amount of time because I’m still learning how to set up the set and test equipment, then there’s practicing lines, and then recording. We’ve had two or three recording days where we worked for 3 hours straight and the kids just had to watch like two movies back to back. I felt terrible. So I really want to tighten that time and I know I can in time as this type of work becomes more second nature to me. I did enroll them in three different VBS’s in North County. So that will give me some time between 9-12 to work with fewer distractions and give them an opportunity to learn and have fun. We go to Utah for 10 days as well and then its just a week or two after before school starts. So the VBS programs will definitely help.

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me and my friend Carmen–yay for birthdays!

Still, I’m finding that my belief that I’d have time to visit my friends or have playdates or take 2 hour breaks for day trips with my kids is just not happening. Especially when we have scheduled karate and soccer practices taking up late afternoon time after I finish the work for the day. Oh and not more house keeper so I need to do that. With 4 kids home, the house gets messy fast, and every task for the business also takes longer due to distractions– someone is hungry for snacks, someone hit someone, someone is not wearing underpants (yes I have 1 free spirit–guess who?), someone fell and needs a bandaid…you know the drill.

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a third of my bunco group! Yay for friends and chocolate!

Still, weekends and some evenings I have had some great moments. We had a birthday party for Jameson a couple of weeks ago and I got to see friends and family then and also had some friends over for the 4th of July and had a great time. I also continue my monthly Bunco group on the last Sunday of the month. While my weekly bible study group is on summer vacation, I have started going to a bimonthly art group at my church that meets in the evenings…so again, it’s all about perspective. It’s not how I envisioned it, but I’m still getting some friend/adult time in other ways.

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Scotty and I in the cabanas at the resort for Social Media Day

This is why I keep reminding myself it’s about perspective…not like I expected but still good– So while I feel like I’m not getting the amount of time in with my kids that I had envisioned and even wondered if I actually got more time with them when I was a teacher, I did the calculations. Yes, I actually sat down with a calculator and figured out that as a stay-at home-working mom with the schedule I currently have, even while working through summer, I will still have 480 hours a year more time with my kids then if I worked away from home as a teacher. That is twenty, full 24-hour-days more or forty actual-day-time days more each year. So that is awesome and helps put things in perspective.

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Babysitting my nephews a few weeks ago was a blast . This is little Caleb with my daughter, Scotland and I

Owen also gave me some pointers (He’s good at that) ….to start looking at the tasky activities with the kids as those moments to create connections with them and connect. Driving the kids on an errand can be memorable. Breakfast and lunch can be memorable if I’m using it to teach one of them how to cook something, for example. Even washing dishes after dinner with the kids can be an opportunity for fun or laughter. So I just need to be present in those moments and not see them as just tasks.  So that helps me feel better. As I start moving through my duties more efficiently, it will naturally start creating more open spaces for activities with my kids mid-day. I’m going to try to take them on a trip to the library this Friday. We shall see. 🙂

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Scotty loves snails

So if you have any tips, working from home moms, I’d appreciate it. Would love encouragement, reality checks, you name it. I need it. I have felt pretty pouty and selfish the last couple of weeks but am getting better, knowing this is the right choice.

I just need to get my groove so that it flows. I need to get more organized and consistent. And I need to choose joy even in times of difficult transition.

I started thinking the last couple of days after I realized I was doing what my dad called “stinkin’ thinkin’ and I thought– everyone has something to complain about. Yes, I have lots to complain about over the last couple of weeks. Am I some sad victim that has it so much worse than everyone else? Sure there are women out there who don’t have to work and can enjoy playdates and coffee chats with friends and take their kids to Lego land once a week. But they also may have a husband who drinks too much or is into pornography, a mother they don’t talk to anymore, or they struggle with health problems…. there is ALWAYS something someone can complain about. So do I just sit in this negativity only seeing what I didn’t expect and how hard it is and develop a grumpy, woe-is-me spirit about me? Or do I choose joy? Do I choose to see the blessings even if it is not all I expected? Even if I didn’t get all that I had envisioned initially? We ALL have something to complain about. I don’t want to be that person. So I know its silly because I’m writing this blog, complaining, right? Yes…this is my revised version of a huge vent I initially wrote 2 weeks ago….but I’m hoping that in this revised state you see my recognition for the need of proper perspective.

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Playing “Maricela” at my friend, Laurel’s LulaRoe booth at the fair. 

As I was looking through my photos to post in this blog I was reminded of many happy moments during this difficult transition. Small moments playing with my kids, our hotel stay at the Bahia this last Thursday and Friday, an opportunity for me to help serve my friend Laurel at her booth at the fair, some Bunco fun with friends, Jameson’s birthday where I got to spend time with friends and family, and yesterday we had friends over for the 4th of July.  So I decided to add these photos throughout so you can see that despite my emotional struggles through this transition, I’m just a big whiny baby and am blessed beyond measure 🙂

It’s all about perspective. I never thought it would be easy. I didn’t think it would be this hard. But that is okay. There are many blessings and I will improve my groove and gain so much more. And everything will get easier. So there is my unpoetical, cadenceless conclusion. But its the plain truth.

Thanks for reading. 🙂 Here are some books I want to read to help me get better at this. Have you ready any of them?

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The bay at the Bahia Resort looks small on camera under the panoramic lens but is so much bigger in person! You can’t see all the little shells in the sand from your perspective, but little Benny was mesmerized by all the sea shells in the sand that he could see from his. See…perspective!

Why I’m Leaving My Job to Stay at Home

10665086_10153306429439746_6094945465861559680_nPast Tears and Prayers

I cannot tell you how many times I have cried on my way to work, missing the baby smells of all four of my children’s bald little heads each time I returned to teaching after maternity leave. I’ve felt jealous that some other woman got to hold them, teach them, watch them take their first steps or say their first words and then lie to me when I picked them up so that I did’t get my feelings hurt for not being the one for whom my children showed off.

I cannot tell you how many times I have begged God to open the doors to bring me home and close the doors that keep me working 45-minutes away and so hard that when I come home I am worthless: I’m tired, having given all my energy to other people’s children, and now feigning enthusiasm when my own kids or husband want to share the excitement from their day, but all I can think of is that stack of papers to grade, and that lesson to still plan, and how I’m going to do that along with giving everyone their baths and making dinner and still grabbing that box of diapers because we are down to the last one and the baby will need a fresh one before bedtime. I can barely breathe just saying those words aloud.

10731153_10153301356889746_428918937321489811_nMy husband helps so much. He is a wonderful and attentive father. He wakes up with the kids and makes sure they have breakfast and are dressed before taking them to daycare or school while encouraging them in the day’s events. He takes them to their doctors appointments while I’m at work, reads bible stories in the evening with them, helps them practice their karate moves and makes sure they go through their checkoff list before bed before awarding them their prize-earning stickers. He leads us all in prayer. So I can’t get upset and say my husband doesn’t help. He does. In many ways, he does a better job than I do all while running a business from home.

11537903_1416455935350373_3951834884061779110_oThe Answer

But one day on my way to work two years ago, after I left my daughter with the daycare provider at 8-weeks-old, I was crying to God as usual and felt him strongly tell me that he would bring me home one day, but not now. That I wasn’t ready and that Owen wasn’t ready. We still had more to learn to prepare us. The thoughts came out of no where. I was crying, asking God to please get me laid off  or something and then the words just stopped me in my tracks. I remember it clearly now, sitting at the red light on the 76 right before the 15-on-ramp. And a peace just overcame me. Ok, God. For those of you who have a relationship with the Lord, you know what I’m talking about. When the thoughts and feelings are clearly not yours but they nudge you from the side in the midst of your thought, headed in a different direction entirely. And you test them by comparing them to what the Bible teaches to find they do line up. Then you know–this is from God.

I decided then and there that if this was the case, I was going to really enjoy my job while I still had it. And I did. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, it certainly is a job I love,  but I embraced it with a joy I hadn’t had in years–rekindled that early love for it. You know the kind? The one with fresh ideas and untainted expectation? I’ve written about this in the past. I have felt like a “born again” teacher the last couple of years.

Growth

11224331_10153372509787969_7440667631282452323_nAnd then four months after I drove on to that north-bound freeway at 6:15 that tearful morning,  Owen was diagnosed with stage 3 Thymus Cancer.

And we grew.

Night sweats, chest pains, weight-loss, then finally–answers. Then it was surgery,  chemotherapy, and radiation. Loss of hair, weight, and pride. We were pruned. Stretched. We grew faith and hope. I developed a supernatural strength I didn’t knew I could have. Owen softened with patience and compassion he struggled with before. It was a painful and beautiful trial. Not just our family. But for our friendships, and our marriage.

And then after one year of treatment while still running his business (he is a rock star!), Owen was healed from Cancer. And we celebrated and grew some more as we basked in the sunlight of hope, ready for further growth and new possibilities. Last week we just got our news that Owen is still cancer-free after one year since treatment.

14055127_1266185730072219_2370877723585375866_nThat summer during treatment two years ago, I worked on creating content for a marriage app I invented, realizing I should apply some of what I preached to the world around me. The ideas multiplied. Ideas lead to paper, led to spread sheets, lead to app developers and branding designs. And we grew some more. Then over the last year, the idea for the marriage app morphed into a marriage Facebook page and private group that has lead me to be a part of a movement to strengthen marriages and heal broken ones called Thriving, Sexy Marriages. And so we grew some more. Marriage app still to come. But something else has sprouted in the process.

The Turning Point and the Faith of a Child (or a Husband)

Owen_4_months_before_diagnosisSo when my husband’s business went through some changes this winter that lead us to to reconsider our understanding of God and to trust him in ways we didn’t understand, I would never have guessed that it would yield in my husband a desire for me to step out in faith with him and quit my job to come home. By no means was it a surge of prosperity that lead to this decision. Something I thought would need to happen for that decision to ever happen.

This was not how I had envisioned it. But God’s plans are not our plans. God did not say we weren’t ready yet because Owen’s business wasn’t making him so rich we could quit mine and still live a life of quarterly weekend getaways, season passes to Legoland, and a winter cabin in Big Bear. I thought this when he said we weren’t ready. But I have learned that God was talking about our character. Our faith. Our growth as husband and wife. Our unity and vision for our future.

224049_10150277882159746_816151_nWhat is Next

Taking a leave of absence from  my well-paying job to stay home will take sacrifice, there is no denying that. At least for now. But we have plans to be a husband-wife team. I will not be trading grading papers and lecturing seniors on the rhetorical triangle for lying around all day cuddling with my 2-year-old and watching day-time television or making Pinterest boards on animal shaped sandwiches. While cuddles will certainly be apart of my day, it will also be helping my husband out with his business, finishing my other children’s books, growing my blog,  and growing our marriage ministry so that we can make it a virtual marriage support movement–something that could lead to courses and books and private coaching or accountability.  Owen and I have learned so much through just our short seven-and-a-half years together. And we know that in the trials that have hit our marriage, what the darkness intended to destroy, God is using for good.

15895156_10210707506737750_2280544613316238102_nSo we will need to work at it. And it may be tight for awhile.  And there may very well be some conflict. But yes, I will also be able to take my kids to school. I will be able to teach my daughter how to read and put her down for her naps and enjoy her company at lunch. I don’t have to hear my son Jameson pray at the dinner table that his Mommy could get her work done faster so she could play with him. I will be able to pick up my boys from school and do homework with them in the afternoons. I will be able to enjoy them in the evening without a distracting pile of papers to grade.

And just as importantly, I will be able to watch them walk across the stage at high school or college graduation, without regretting losing those precious moments with them in those short years God lent them to us because I wanted fancy face washes, Arbonne shakes, and shiny cars, or a remodeled bathroom. I don’t want those material things at the expense of my children saying they remembered me as the stressed out mom who rushed them through everything– never really present.

14918948_10155407468274746_8711807688632773943_oPersonal Faith and Purpose

So that’s my story. That’s my reason. I don’t write this to guilt-trip any working moms. We are all different and I’m sure there are many working moms who can do both well. But I’m just not one of them. I can do one really well and the other just mediocre. And I’m tired of putting my kids second. And I can’t really get away with doing the other mediocre in the age of test scores and professional development accountability. This is God’s call on my life.

Until then, when my husband says lets step out in faith and see what God can do with the passions and talents he has given us, I say heck yes. I already feel a change happening within me just knowing it’s 5 weeks away. It makes me want to hold on to my husband, my kids, and Jesus all the more tightly because I have to let go of my idol of a stable income.

14956009_10155407464944746_2339658837828538358_nBut I think that is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a blind faith. We’ve crunched the numbers. We’ve looked into health insurance. We’ve looked at our mortgage budget. It will be tight at first. But it can be done and it can and can loosen up later. The difference is that when you work solely on bringing income from your own business, the income varies month to month. It doesn’t feel as “safe” as a contracted salary position. So there is a reliance on the Lord that doesn’t happen when relying on that steady paycheck with the exact same number every month. But what it also means, is that there is no cap on our income. We get what we put into it too. If I help my husband with his business Videospot, his business can grow faster. If he helps me with the Thriving, Sexy Marriage business (he is an expert in selling with video, by the way) then I can eventually bring in some supplemental income through that business project to keep me home with my babies.

And I don’t doubt for a second that God will certainly show off for me since I’ve given him room to do so. A good friend of mine, Jamie once asked me–how can we see God’s power in our lives if we don’t give him a chance to show off for us because we play it safe? In the end, I think it is rooted in distrust of God. And that is unwarranted.

And if I’m wrong–perhaps yes, we’ve seen all the wrong signs or God wants this to be just temporary and hasn’t revealed that to us as of yet, my leave of absence allows me to return to my secure job as a teacher in a year or two. Within two years though, we hope to have a clearer picture of the road ahead. We won’t know until we take that turn down that road

I don’t know the future, but I know I’ve got a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I’m tired of walking down a different path than my family. There are here in Vista and my husband has this vision for our future that I want to be a part of, but I’m on this side-road heading off in a different direction, constantly shouting over the valley between us, saying, “You can do it honey!” I want to be with him. I want to say “we can do it.” And when two people share a common vision and work together to achieve it, I don’t see how that could not lead to many good and plentiful blessings.

Those two paths have finally joined because of my husband’s faith and vision. It is a faith of God’s child. And I will not say no because Lord, we are ready to walk down it, wherever it leads. united toward a one vision

How I Improved My Vision and Eye-Dryness Naturally.

brown eyesI have always struggled with dryness in my eyes. I remember in high school, struggling to pull my purple contact lenses off my brown, spider-veined eyeballs at the end of the day, hoping I wouldn’t pull a layer of skin off my iris along with the lens itself.

Eventually I gave up on contact lenses as they hurt more than they were worth and I wasn’t about to be that person putting drops in her eyes multiple times a day. I don’t even bother or remember to reapply my lip-gloss, let alone my eye drops. Glasses became something I used only when I drove or wanted to read the board in my college classes. But the dryness continued, despite my iris skin still in tact.

punctal plugsSo at the at the age of 26, when my optometrist found multiple dry patches on my eye along with calluses forming, I decided to try her suggestion of getting punctal plugs. My vision had also diminished to 20/40 in my good eye and 20/80 in my bad eye, so I had to do something if I wanted to wear contacts again.  I was ecstatic to discover there was something that could help. So I let her get super close with this huge magnifying glass and some special tweezer-looking instruments while she stuck these tiny, pinpoint sized “punctal” plugs into my lower tear ducts. It was supposed to prevent them from sucking up the tears in my eyes and allow more to stay on my eyeball. That worked….for like 2 months. Until the plugs fell out.

So I went back and had them replugged. And then they fell out again.

After the second time, she refused to put in more plugs and said that I just was not a candidate. Instead, she would prescribe me prescription eye drops called Restasis. She said I had too many dry patches to just go with regular drops. So I tried them. Supposedly it takes a few months before they start working because they are essentially an antihistamine that works at calming the swelling in your inner eye that could be preventing it from making tears. Well I didn’t make it long enough to discover if it would work because I got pregnant with my daughter Scotland. And so off I went.

My eyes like being pregnant, so I didn’t need anything during that time. But as soon as Scotland was born, my tears dried up like an Arizona desert. It hurt to blink, to see, its awful. And I didn’t want to wait another 6 months for the Restasis to possibly kick in.

cod liver oilSo I called my optometrist. She recommended I try fish oils, 2-3000 mg a day minimum. She said this would work if my tears were low because they were evaporating more easily due to less oil/water ratio in the tear consistency. Somehow, fish oils would help in that area.

So I tried them. Within 2 days I noticed a huge difference. Redness gone. Less pain. I was ecstatic! And I’ve been taking them for two years since. When I forget, I can tell I forgot. Within 2 days of forgetting, my eyes begin to feel dry again. So it certainly isn’t a cure but it definitely is my daily remedy.

And now the bonus– I went in to the optometrist last brown eyesweek to get an updated prescription for my eye glasses and just do the usual check up we are supposed to get every couple of years. And they found no more dry patches! And my vision even improved. I’m 20/20 in my good eye and 20/30 in my bad eye. When I asked the optometrist how that could happen, she said that part of our vision depends on the amount of tears in our eyes. Improving tear consistency heals the eye of the callouses and damaging effects on vision.

If you struggle with eye dryness I highly recommend fish oils. They not only should help, but they also help with general inflammation and depression. I alternate between regular fish oil and cod liver oil. When I do take cod liver oil, I get the fermented kind so that the vitamin A and D are naturally occurring and not synthetically added back in after being cooked out of the oil. I also find that with cod liver oil, I don’t need to take as much fish oil as I do with regular fish oil in order to receive the same benefits to my dry eyes.

These are the fish oils I love and use depending which one is the better deal at the time.
AMRAP Nutrition Fermented Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Green Pasture’s BLUE ICE Fermented Cod Liver Oil -Non-Gelatin 120 Capsules

Bioscience Nutritions’s HIGH EPA 1200MG + DHA 900MG Triple Strength Burpless Capsules

Purity Lab’s OMEGA 3 FISH OIL Gelcaps 180 Softgel Pills