Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yum Yum Hot Cocoa

The celebration is over but the decorations are still up. Oh how I love CHRISTMAS! I married a man who loves it as much or more than me! We had a wonderful time this year! Family, friends, phone calls to relatives far away, and joy on our boy's faces as they came down-stairs Christmas morning. We had a special Christmas this year here at our home with just us five. We had seen my family the Saturday before and Kevin's family is all over the US, so we spent it at home with our boys and my dad. It was special and memorable. We did a lot of snuggling, read about the birth of our Savior, opened presents and watched Christmas movies. It was perfect and precious. This whole month has been filled with wonderfulness. I love to take a minute here or there to catch up on my favorite blogs and see how everyone else is celebrating this wonderful time of year! It was during one of my reading sessions that I found this hot chocolate recipe! Here, in Iowa, with 9 degree temperatures and a foot of snow, hot chocolate is ALWAYS welcome. We've been a "packet" cocoa family....until recently. Our lives were changed forever after I found this recipe:
Best Hot Chocolate Recipe 1/2 c. sugar 1/4 c. cocoa powder (we used Hershey's) 1/3 c. water

Whisk these three ingredients together and bring to a boil.
4 c. milk 3/4 t. vanilla

Once the cocoa powder/milk mixture is boiling add the milk. Do not bring to a boil but keep it over heat until it's the temperature you desire. Add the vanilla and serve. It tastes delicious with Whipped Topping as well! Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back Home

I am so excited to announce that I am now a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) again!!! Praise The Lord (PTL)!!!! My last day at work was November 16th. My first week home I started planning for Thanksgiving, which was held at our house this year. :) We had a great time but that consumed most of my week with preparations. Last week I spent the week preparing for a Christmas party on Saturday, with folks from our church. So my first two weeks home have been full of preparation and little time to truly reflect on this amazing opportunity I have been given.

A little back story-I went back to work, after being a SAHM for two and half years, in November of 2011. At that point our lives were upside down from the loss of Kevin's job. I had not worked since I was 10 weeks pregnant with Leo! I was nervous about what this would mean for our boys and what would happen to us as a family, with me not being home to "man the ship," so to speak. I am responsible for all our budgeting, bills, laundry, cooking, cleaning....and all other chores that go with being a SAHM. Kevin was going to be in charge of most of that during the day, while I worked and he desperately searched for worked before his unemployment benefits ended.

I worked as a temp for two companies before I got my "dream" job at a fantastic financial company in downtown Des Moines. I said from the start, had I not loved being a mom-this was my dream job! It was in a posh office in the tallest Skyscraper in Des Moines. I was the 4th person in a 4 person office, also the youngest. The people I worked with were fantastic and I loved pretty much everything about the job. But, my heart has always been with my boys and as a family, our goal was to get me back home with our boys.

In August of this year, Kevin started working for a company that has tremendous potential for the future. As a family, we decided this was the time to really focus on getting me back home. He has a secure position, and although the pay is significantly lower than what he made at his previous job, we are thankful for the position and potential it provides for our family. That being job and the pay that I was receiving was making our lives comfortable, so comfortable that even with daycare expenses we were STILL financially comfortable. It was a good feeling.

I will admit at this point, this is when I began to lose sight of our goal. I battled with quitting, this wonderful job that I loved, because of all the great aspects of it and the financial security it offered, to be home again. Please do not misunderstand, I love my children so very very much....while this internal battle was going on, my main thought was financial stability. So many people thought that the choice to leave was a silly and foolish one. Here I am, in this current economy, with a great job that I love, wanting to walk away to be home with my kids and give up almost half of our annual income. I wrestled with thoughts of doubt....doubting my husband's decision of wanting me home...doubting that his job would provide financially enough for us to be "comfortable".... doubting that I would even know how to be a SAHM again (after a year in the work field) many doubts. I was sick with fear of the unknown. I felt like-at least with my job I KNOW we can be financially secure. It was a good feeling. Even though it meant that I was home every night at 6 pm and spent all of two and half waking hours a day with our boys.

Kevin consistently reassured me that I was to be home with our boys and we need to trust God, not my job. One Sunday at church, our pastor gave a message on trusting God with everything. As I sat in the pew I felt as if he was speaking directly to me. Here I was....telling God that I knew what he wanted....but I could "control" the financial aspect of our family with my income, and that was good enough. It still makes me ill to think of my foolishness. That Sunday, I gave my doubts and fears to God, at the alter. I cast all my worries on Him and asked Him to forgive me for my silliness.

My notice had already been given, but rather than spending my last week lamenting on my "bad" choice to leave, I had a joy in my heart. My boss tried desperately to change my mind, my last Friday there. It was so wonderful to feel so wanted. Tears were shed as I walked to my car that evening....but still God gave me peace that my decision was right.

We have made many changes in our lives to accomodate me being a SAHM: we canceled my fancy smart phone service and now I just have a regular mobile line and use a free TextMe service on my iPod, we shop almost exclusively at Aldi (which is a secret awesome, amazing grocery store with savings that I've been missing out on for only 31 years!), our boys will only receive one gift from us for Christmas this year (which, coincidentally, were purchased from the wonderful land of Aldi at amazing prices!), I'm back to making our own laundry detergent for cloth diapers (which is better at cleaning...but takes some time to make), we now cloth diaper 98% of the time (we use disposable diapers for outtings), making my own bread, reduced insurance on our vehicles, transferred life insurance to a new company for a $50 monthly savings, decreased the minutes on our phone to a meager 450 a month (eeek!!!!), and all trips are consolidated. In order to get where we feel God wants us to be, we had to make sacrafies in the conveniences of our life. While they may seem inconvenient now, the long-term rewards are more than we can comprehend.

Here I am, two and half weeks later, 4 pounds lighter (because SAHM's never seem to stop moving-except for nap time), and overwhelmingly happy. I am definitely "working" here! At my "job" I spent most of my time on the computer at at desk and some filing. My days now consist of crafting, cooking, cleaning, baking, cleaning, reading stories, snuggling, nap-times, cleaning, and helping to mold these two precious people into Godly men. In my time home Leo has learned, word for word, John 3:16. He is a little sponge for knowledge and I now have time to "feed" it to him. I have so many ideas for wonderful ways to teach my boys and am so thankful for this opportunity.

I have realized that as a parent I was failing my children because I spent so little quality time with them. Our mornings were filled with me stressfully attempting to clothe two sleepy, crabby boys and rush out the door. Our evenings consisted of a tired mommy rushing to help with dinner, then bathe, then put the boys to bed. There were no games played....few stories read....snuggle time was cut short because mom had to prepare for "tomorrow." It hurts my heart to think of the time that I missed with them the year that I spent working outside of the home. They're precious voices, learning to speak....Judah's little feet carrying him for the first time. I missed so many moments. I know I am where God wants me to be. I've turned in my suits for jeans and my heels for tennis shoes. Makeup comes out rarely now and my hair is not picture perfect all the time...but my boys love me in home "finery" so much more than my work "finery" because I'm always ready for play time, and that payment is worth so much more to me than anything else. I know God will provide and we will be cared for. :)