Monday, July 25, 2011

I took a weekend vacation and never went back to work

After two years of hard work and 6 months of extreme family sacrifice, my husband recently defended his graduate thesis and received his master’s degree. The very first thing we did (even before the poor sleep deprived man took a nap) was book a mini family vacation for the following weekend.

Over the past few months “family time,” has gradually slipped further and further down the priority list. It was the season of our life and we feel confident the sacrifices we made will pay dividends for our family, but something had to be done.

Have you ever started a deep cleaning project and stopped to take a break only to find yourself mortified by the mess you’d made? Things tend to get worse before they get better.

We put all other pressing things we had let slide over the past month on hold and picked our family up off the floor.

We visited Wisconsin Dells, staying away from most of the tourist attractions and focusing on quality, low-key, family time. We took a horse-drawn ride into Lost Canyon, boarded a “choo-choo” train in North freedom, WI, and had a morning under the big-top at Circus World in Baraboo.

As with any family vacation with small children, there were casualties. Anna was kicked by a horse, there were 4 scrapped knees, mama and the baby got too much sun, the brakes on the van died and Tessa’s ear found the not-so-friendly end of an iron stool on the train.

Amidst the excitement and wonderful family time, the cloud of stress and indecision that had been hovering over us lifted and feelings on recent big changes in our life became more clear.

I recently accepted a position at a parish to work 25 hours a week coordinating Faith Formation. The parish is wonderful and the people working in Faith Formation are wonderful. At first instinct 25 hours per week sounded like a bit much for me. I work from home 10 hours a week, freelance write, and you know- mother 3 kids 3 and under. I was offered flexibility and I do have this master’s degree in theology collecting dust on my shelf so, I signed on the dotted line.

But something funny happened while we were on vacation, taking time to enjoy each other and not letting the stresses of everyday life live in the forefronts of our minds. Somewhere between the picnic lunches, relaxing in the hot-tub and spending family time together, for the first time in recent months prayer found a way to pierce through a barrier it couldn’t break through at home:

Joseph decided this is not what he wants for his family.

I’ve been blessed with a loyal and true man. In the almost five years we’ve been married we’ve had many decisions to make. Some of them were placed upon us and out of our control (medical emergencies), and some of them we brought on ourselves through the mistakes we’ve made. And, we’ve made a lot of mistakes.

It has taken my husband a while to figure out what he wants to do “when he grows up.” It’s been hard, having him figure this out as we had 3 kids in 3 years and while he also had 2 heart surgeries in that time. He’s worked really hard to finish his master’s degree and put himself in a position to advance his career.

The only thing he has been sure of in the five years we’ve been married is that he feels called to help me fulfill my call to write. He doesn’t want me to add something to my plate that does not promote that calling, and does not want me going back to work – taking time away from my callings of motherhood and writing.

How blessed I am with a husband who feels even more strongly about my callings than I do.

I will not be going back to working outside the home after all. I’ll be sticking with my work from home job and freelancing. Since we made this decision we have received several affirmations so we are going to trust in my husband’s plan for our family, and in God, that this plan is the best one for us.

My weekend vacation led to my not going back to work.

Vacations are important (even the Pope agrees). They give us a chance to step out of our everyday responsibilities. They give us the opportunity to see our life through a different lens. This time, for us, that lens was a bit clearer and we were able to identify the mismanagement of our priority list.

There are many ways to take a vacation or “time-out” in life. Sometimes they lead to bigger and better things than souvenirs and pictures for the scrapbook. Have you taken one recently?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seven Quick Takes – The Return


I didn’t fall off the face of the planet, although I feel like it some days. Our life took a 180 degree turn in a short time and we were just trying to stay afloat. My husband finished and defended his thesis after many, many, all nighters (as in, 3 weeks of less than 3 hours sleep a night) for all of us. I was so happy when he defended and was awarded his degree that I couldn’t stop crying. It was a long and very hard chapter for us in so many ways. I am thankful we made sacrifices for the future of our family – but oh so happy it is over. If we had to go back, I don’t know if we would do it again. Think twice about graduate school and 3 kids under 3. It’s hard. Really, really difficult.

If all that wasn’t enough – we moved the same week he was finishing the thesis. Yes, we’ve moved! We said goodbye to apartment living (thank God) and are now in a lovely duplex with about twice the living space we had before. Several friends commented on how they didn’t know how I did it while we were living in our apartment and to be honest, it kind of bothered me. I didn’t know it wasn’t “good enough” until people started telling me it wasn’t good enough. However, now that we are in a space that actually works for our family, I am so happy I didn’t know what I was missing. I really don’t think I could have done it if I had known what I was missing. Life is much more manageable here for us all.

Moving/thesis month


My husband turned 30! We have now both moved into our thirties and both events were - uneventful. My birthday feel while I was still pregnant with Elena and we were offered free babysitting by my family so we could go out. I was too tired and not feeling well and opted to go to bed at 8pm instead. Boy, did that make me feel old! Joseph’s birthday feel during the same week as the thesis and the big move. Our big girls were in my hometown with my mom so we could work/pack and he was on his 3rd all nighter in a row. There was no celebration. The next week when the big gals returned Tessa was adamant we “make” him a “surprise” party when he got home from work. It was the first time she really had her own idea about something we should do and brought it to me to ask for permission. She was so excited. We made a cake and the gals screamed SURPRISE when daddy came home and then grabbed his hands and lead him to his cake. The joy these girls got from making something for their daddy was birthday present enough for us both. Our thirties will be great!

Daddy's "party" otherwise known as dinner


Baby Laney is doing well. She has had a few medical concerns come up. Sometimes she has trouble breathing. We’ve seen her specialist/cardiologist and he sent us onto an ENT. I was very impressed that he researched Loeys-Ditez before our appointment and really trust him. It is such a blessing when you find a doctor you can trust. We are now working on a project where we are trying to videotape her when she starts to have one of her episodes so we can e-mail it to the ENT. He also gave us some tips on how to help her when she is struggling by holding her in different positions. I’m confident it is just a small bump in the road and all will be fine.

feeding Elena before an apt. at the Children's Hospital


I’m in the middle of another struggle in my never-ending discernment of working outside of the home. Why this issue haunts me I do not know. I’ll have more once I share first with those it impacts the most. I am reminded more and more through this struggle that I am so blessed by my work at home job. I love that job so much. It does stress me out here and there, but the pros FAR out-weigh the cons and I am so thankful for the job and the families/friends that have provided our family with the opportunity. I’ve been doing it for over two and a half year, which is the longest I have ever stayed at a job. That really says something.


I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am really starting to think about home-schooling. WHAT? I have always said I love the idea of home-school but could never, ever do it. I also said that I wouldn’t shut the door, even though I knew God would not knock on that door. Well, you know that saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Sigh. I’ve been reading home-schooling books since I was pregnant with my first child with the understanding that just because I wasn’t going to be home-schooling that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be schooling my children at home. Parents are the first teachers of their children, no matter where they attend school. We’ve been doing research about schools and I just can’t find anything I like that doesn’t cost a ton of money. And, even the schools that cost a lot of money, then I feel like why pay money for something I can do myself? Lord, help me. And Lord help our families, whom I am sure will have some not-so-wonderful opinions. If I hear one more line about socialization I may scream. No decision has been made, not even close. I think we are down to Catholic school or home-schooling - or maybe even both, or different options for each child. Just something we are thinking about and thought I would put on my blog so I don’t have to tell people face-to-face. I’m chicken like that.
Such a happy girl


That’s enough life changes for now, don’t you think? We’re finding a new normal that we really like over here. Part of that will be more committed and reserved blog time for me as well. I can’t wait. I’ve missed you all.

If you're thinking about having a baby - look at this picture. How can you not love looking at this every day?