Summer Survival

Summer being a full time mommy is hard to explain! The first word that comes to mind is exhausting, but in the same hand it can be relaxing.  I am off work until my next huge event in September. We are off routine in a good way, so many fun activities in the summer, but for this mama... it is my husbands busiest time of the year! Heating and Air for the Commercial Industry is top priority, whew! Having been through what we have.... we still count that as a blessing that business is booming and his industry and trade is huge. And he did bring me home a cannoli the other day after the grateful store manager of the local italian restaurant gave it to him for fixing his stores AC :) I guess that would be a perk!
We really do just look at each other sometimes and say, "Gosh this is 100% what we were supposed to do." He has become one of the top technicians in his company and it is truly humbling that God directed him there.

So. I have to be very creative at home. I have had to take being mommy up a couple of steps and be a super planner. Tim may or may not make it home for dinner, so that window of time I have to be ready to do it solo. It's funny. I used to think by the time my kids were 4 and 6 they would be a breeze. Parts of it is. They play together, but that also means they fight. You can ignore the fight, or you can make it an opportunity. They are independent, but still need guidance in most areas.  You are also still preparing and cleaning up meals, still doing all the laundry, and answering all sorts of questions and having extended conversations about nothing. The only thing about having bigger kids is all the baby crap disappears out of your house. It makes room and space for the wildness that needs to come out of your large child.

They are super active. We are not "over- schedulers" over here, but they are small people with high amounts of energy. You have to have a balance of down time, home time, getting out, seeing people, being productive, having a life, working some if you do, play time, rest or nap time, ect. I'm also big on giving them a big picture... serving, ministering to others, that life is not all about them.

I do not do all this well, but have fought to find a balance. The more I plan for our week on Sunday, the better and smoother and happier we all are :) I involve Tim in the planning. This gives him a huge clue as to what all I do and he gives input in our day to day. He is great at saying no. I tend to think we can cram a lot in. He has known me for 13 years so he can easily see things that are going to stress me out that I am not seeing. Either way, here are some helpful tips I have found so far. PLEASE if you have any.... share!!!

1. We made a bucket list as a family this summer. People we wanted to see, places we wanted to go, things we wanted to do, new restaurants we wanted to try. Mini vacations we could do on the weekend.
Everyones list will be different. Some of ours included: Stone Mountain, the Roswell Sprayground water park, several new parks that opened around us, movie theater day, pool days with different friends, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo (1 hr from Atlanta), the carousel and food court at North Point Mall. Some future trips are to have a day at Serenbe, making lunches for the local MUST homeless shelter, and even something as small as Sonic happy hours from 2-4, ha!
We are trying to do one fun thing a week and keep it really cheap! It gives me something to look forward to as a mom.... getting out!

2. I have had a couple of girls nights. I plan with Tim in advance and I normally try to plan it. I get Tim all set up for dinner and bed time.... and leave! And never look back! If it goes awful, its fine. It is one night out of the 365 days a year. In the broad spectrum, you need to get out and eat in peace and be around some women.

3. We are pretty loosely structured during the day, but I'm a firm believer that structure produces freedom. We have also been doing more snacks this summer. Who doesnt love snack time anyway?
Here is a typical rundown:
8- kids up and I let them watch a cartoon while I make breakfast
830- eat, get dressed, make beds (some days)
9-1- this is our window where it is best to go out. Pool, bucket list day, park, errands, whatever.
1 lunch
2-3 I have been doing "centers". It is SHEER genius..... a friend of a friend told me about it and it is so simple and my kids LOVED it. You set the timer for 15 min. You set up stations that the kids rotate independently. This week our stations were playdough, legos, a drawing station, and then a station with me to to a workbook I bought for the summer to stay on top of that.  They had a blast. You can get super creative and age appropriate level with the centers. My kids ask for them! While they are doing that, I normally do a mid day clean up of dishes, laundry, and try and prep dinner that we planned out on sunday.
3-4: Rest or nap time. Everyone is quiet and in their rooms. I dont care if they sleep, rest, or play quietly. Sometimes I give them snack in their room and that helps extend the time. At this point everyone just needs a little space and at 4 they are happy to come out.
4-6: Either outside playing, another show, or free play while I cook dinner. *this is the witching hour. Its the hard part of the day. Sometimes we have just cranked up some music, gotten out a new toy, picked flowers, but we struggle in this window for sure. Netflix has saved the day many times although electronics are seen as a special thing over here. I know I am old fashioned, but I will dump out some of my clothes and have them play dress up before I turn on the TV. I just hate how electronically driven this generation of children are. Not in this house.  If Tim makes it home during this time then we are golden.
6 - I attempt to get them to help clean up from the day
630- eat or we will have someone/family over for dinner
7- we have been venturing back outside for a few to either go for a walk, catch lightening bugs, and recently they have been into the telescope and finding the moon, lol.
8- bath and bed
9- Tim starts busting out a wall.
? bedtime

See? We are such a normal family.

Being a mom is so up and down and most days are very unpredictable based upon moods, behavior, cooperative-ness, and so on. But, I realized that IF i have a plan, I don't feel like I am drowing. And I actually feel like my kids are happy, lol. I am all about keeping things simple and finding a balance and kids need that too. They only get one childhood so I take this job seriously like I would take any job. To plan for, give my all, and also give myself a lot of grace. Grace is the biggest thing Christ has cultivated in my over the past 7 years of being a mom. To be a mom of weakness in that we can't do it all, never will be able to, and enjoying life despite that.

So, since I am barely staying afloat, here are the only pics I manage to take on my lovely phone, ha!

Mackenzie and I on a girls date while David was at church with friends

Tim and I on a date!
Our fun little antique booth, 3 weeks in! We have sold 4 things so far....
We went under construction again and Tim is building me an office. So darn pumped. This happens after 9pm on the schedule, lol.
Hanging out with Jammie at the assisted living. They bought a puppy for the place which I think is awesome!
Mackenzie still in her pj's this morning we went out. Its ok, she is 4 and its summer.
Putting them to work!

Summer days.... fruit by the foot
Playdough got a little out of hand one morning..


Fashion show at the Antique store was hilarious. And fun. About 50 people there. They gave me a sweet gift and lowered our cost for next month :)
Spent some sweet time with Tims family
and cousin Josh
went to birthday parties
and Burger King has 50 cent ice cream all summer long. Go now.
Kids got to go to Summer VBS together and has been the highlight so far
David asked Jesus to live in his heart in his bed one night alone and told us the next day that he became a Christian. No words for the sweet heart this boy has...
 We have big plans still in process that we are close to sharing, but both Tim and I became certified in Pediatric CPR, First Aid, and AED.

Mackenzie always says.... Mommy, its a doggy dog world. (From Pound Puppies)
baking in the new kitchen

So we are trying to keep the summer time blues away from my big kids and have fun over here! I hope this brings a message of hope for summer for you.
Make a plan.
Involve your man.
Thats all I got :) More to come.....


Food for Thought

I have our month in pictures to catch up on below. We are very excited about summertime over here!
I feel like God has been teaching me so much and I don't want to forget it. I also feel like I am just soaking in some verses and trying to land somewhere with them.
That's what this is.... some verses and thoughts and maybe it will shed light in someone elses life.
I'm realizing if I look at it right, I can see God's grace in others lives all the time. Rather than comparison, jealousy, or trying to understand the "fairness" of life..... people (and myself) get things they don't deserve. That's God's grace, not our own merit. When you really think about it, we deserve death for the payment of our sin. God sent Jesus so we could have life instead. So we dont just deserve "nothing", but death.
It's dangerous to live in entitlement where we think God owes us for doing _________ (fill in the blank). That is a lie. Its also dangerous to live in Martyr-dom (i like to call it that). Where we feel sorry for ourselves and our suffering should be cancelled out by blessings. Which one do you fall in? My struggle is the latter.
Let's talk about Blessings. I'm starting to hate that word a little. Especially in America and social media. Everything is hashtagged #blessed #blessing #iamblessed. (please don't feel guilty if you do that... its just how many times do you see God's word hashtagged as a blessing, it is always "stuff")
What do we associate blessings with? Do we actually even want Jesus anymore or just his "blessings"?
Are blessings stuff? Is being blessed having a nice home, lots of money, lots of kids? Is that was being blessed is?
If so, then what about when James says blessed are the poor.... blessed are those who mourn... blessed are those who suffer.... blessed are those who are persecuted..... blessed are those who persevere.
I don't think anyone would ever say priests and nuns aren't blessed, because they can't get married or have children. Missionaries typically aren't making 6 figures, so are they not "blessed"? What about a barren woman, is she blessed?
Also, that statement would cancel out most of the people who even wrote the Bible and mean that they were not blessed.
Does God want us to be poor and sad? Maybe not....but those circumstances make your heart in a place that is golden. Is that your worst fear, can you even go there to lose it all? I speak from losing it all before and now I can stare that fear in the face.
So, things of this world do not make us blessed. That would mean we believe Health and Wealth = Jesus. That we take the gifts of God as the presence of God. That you have done something right.

Do we even get it? Even a little bit?  We all fall short.  Period.
I don't have this all figured out. It is just good questions to be asking yourself and things I want to think about.
That last thought is a conversation I had with my bestie, Jess, who shared this verse with me.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." Matthew 13:44

She was telling me, whatever that man had, whatever it was, he sold EVERYTHING he had for it. Thats what was important and what he left everything he had for.
What do we have in our hearts that we would leave it all and sell it all for?

He had it figured out, I know that.
I want Jesus. I want Jesus for my family. I want what that man had in the field. I dont want the thief of joy, comparison, to be apart of my life.... but, to see it as God's grace in others lives. The world calls it luck, good circumstances, things going your way.... the Bible calls it grace. This world has nothing for us, I want what Jesus considers to be a blessing. Lets boast in Christ and not his gifts.

If you are reading this, you are getting what you don't derserve anyway. Life.

Here is a small glimpse of the life God is letting us have :)

David swimming, he is a great swimmer this summer and his favorite thing to do is go to the bottom of the pool and get his sinking torpedos!
Mackenzie just learned to swim this week after lessons!
My 60 lb, almost 7 year old at the dentist.... everyone was cavity free!

Mackenzies room all clean!
We opened an antique booth at Cobb Antique Mall for me to sell all the furniture that I love to re-finish and antiques that I find. The kids think this is the greatest thing ever that we have a "store".
The lake with my parents
We surprised Tim with an early Fathers Day gift, a canoe!! Love this picture of him and the kids together.
My new antique for our kitchen!
Summer fun with friends at the Roswell Spraygrounds!

Spent the weekend in Phenix City, Alabama with Tim's family for Memorial Day weekend celebrating the last grandchild graduating!! (#15 I think for them)

Yes, this happened.

We even had a date!
Tim and David beat the Super Mario brothers game on the Wii. Big excitement in this house
Mackenzie's disappearing twin showed up on the front of a magazine! What a look-a-like, huh?
David graduated Kindergarten!
We went to the zoo with Davids class. Here are my kids and my friend Beverlys kids!

Davids Mothers Day picture for me. I love everything about it. The stove, venthood, and Holly our dog are my favorite.
Ice Cream with my grandmother. She is an angel walking around on Earth.

Can't wait for more of Summer 2013. We have some big plans falling in to place as I type. I will share when my heart can handle it!! xoxo

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