When Motherhood is Lonely

I don’t have rose-colored glasses (or rainbow ones, either!) on when I recall our time in Hawaii. I’m well aware that as much sunshine and rainbows that were there, it wasn’t in all the moments.

There was red dirt that ruined all of our clothes. The August heat and lack of air conditioner made me consider skipping the island before we’d hardly had the chance to know it. The traffic is insane. The cost of living is outrageous. Rats and cockroaches are a thing. Legitimately. And have nothing to do with the cleanliness of your home. And the house itself? It was 800 square feet for a whole lot of us.

But, you know what else was there?

 

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We had a huge yard with a coconut tree (home of said rats). So we had fresh coconuts at our disposal. A plumeria tree in the front of our house that was perfect for climbing and swinging. And the view? That view of Diamond Head and Waikiki was killer. With a weekly fireworks show just for us that we could watch out our living room window on Friday nights.

We were always hiking and climbing and playing. And the beach. I didn’t think I was a “beach person” until living in Hawaii. Until that was a part of our daily lives. I crave the ocean now. The waves, the sea salt, the sand between my toes. It visits me in so many of my dreams now that I know its woven into the threads of my soul whether I like it or not.

But the best part? It was the community. The people. The ones I knew and loved intimately and the ones I passed in the grocery store. The uncles who sang songs to my fussy toddler while we waited in the grocery line, or slipped him a piece of candy. The aunties who watched my kids at the beach as vigilantly as I watched theirs, and loved mine nearly as much as I love them myself. The people who made motherhood a beautiful experience even during the most challenging of times.

 

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The mommas who passed clothes and shoes down onto my kiddos, who piled into tiny houses with gaggles of kids running around, who broke bread and fed each other and never questioned or expected anything in return, even though it often came tenfold.

Not once in Hawaii did the sentiment of “motherhood is lonely” cross my mind. And that had been the only sentiment of motherhood that had been steadfast from the moment I brought my first baby into this world.

I thought motherhood was meant to be done in isolation. I thought it was a sacrifice you made. You spent your days alone, with your children, and that was that. If you wanted to be with your children you didn’t get to have anything else. Know anyone else. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, you know?

And that’s how it is here. That’s what I know best. Occasional dinners with friends, but not the daily friendships and community of mothers working together. Teaching, raising, disciplining, loving all their children together in a community where no one is ever alone unless they wish to be.

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I think I would have been content if we hadn’t lived a different life, a different way. I think if I’d never known that it could have been different, I would have made a way to be at peace with the way our modern, western society says motherhood must be.

But I know. I know different now. I know better now. I watched not only my children, but myself thrive in a different way of life. And once you go from thriving back to just surviving, it’s soul crushing.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t sit around lamenting what is no longer. Not all the time anyway. It’s in the small moments that it’s so evident what we’re lacking. And in those small moments when I find myself struggling to help find ways for my children to best thrive in this life scenario, without also teaching them that I agree with the livelihood or lack thereof that is the rat race; the “keeping up with Joneses.”

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Motherhood is weird. A time and place where you have so many thoughts and so many desires, and at the end of the day they don’t matter because the focus and intent is so centralized on what is best for your children in order for them to thrive and grow as well-rounded, happy, empathetic humans (as it should be, and the only way I would have it be).

And sometimes, depending on where you are, that just means that motherhood is lonely.

3rd Grade Language Arts with Mosdos Press

Teaching language arts makes me a bit anxious. Maybe because I love reading, and I really want my kiddos to embrace it as well. I want them to enjoy language arts the way I do, and not create a wedge where they don’t enjoy it any longer.

Outside of simply learning to read, and then reading like crazy, I hadn’t done any formal language arts program with Miss H yet. I knew they existed, and each year I would peek at them, but I just really wanted her to have a solid foundation in reading and a love for it before taking on anything more.

I was super excited when I was asked by Timberdoodle to review Mosdos 3rd grade language arts, as it had been the language arts program I’d had my eye on pretty intently for when we chose to delve in.

Miss H was pretty excited with this venture from the get-go simply because it was so aesthetically pleasing. 8-year-olds can be some of the easiest (and hardest!) to win over sometimes. But colorful books with flowers and butterflies just made her happy, so she was eager to get to work!

The student readers are broken down into two books so that they’re not overwhelmingly large books for the kids’ to work with. They also feel like they’re flying through things at an expedited rate, which for my 3rd grader is always a morale boost. She loves to see how fast she can learn and accomplish things.

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H and I both really enjoyed the stories provided by Mosdos Opal edition. They are diverse and intriguing, which for our family is an absolute must. She could read them all herself, which was great if I was busy helping other kiddos, though we do admittedly love reading them together. The teacher guide provided so many amazing notes and questions to go with each story that I could engage with her either while reading the stories, or after, to ascertain how much she was truly comprehending. But it was nice that during the hectic days, she could do the coordinating workbooks pages even if we didn’t get to have as much discussion about the stories, and I knew she was still getting just as much from the books. I love a solid program that allows for either independent learning, or cooperative learning, and both options are equally rewarding.

I can confidently say that Mosdos Press Literature will be our choice for language arts as we go forward as it is such a diverse, vocabulary-rich, fun program that makes kids want to jump in and learn each day.

 

***This review is sponsored by Timberdoodle in exchange for a Mosdos Press language arts curriculum. As always, I only endorse programs and companies that I genuinely love, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. ***

 

Kumon Science (Pre-K &Up)

When I was asked to review Kumon Science for Timberdoodle, I was pretty excited because we love Kumon books around here. I think Kumon is loved by many families, whether or not they homeschool, since they’re great, engaging, colorful books that can work as a stand alone curriculum, supplement alongside another curriculum, or supplement for kiddos educated outside of the home.

thought I’d be using this book with Mr. B, but he really took to his sister’s Berean Science and didn’t look back. Which turned out to be a great thing, because Sweet M really wanted to “do school” with his sibs. I hadn’t really planned on doing anything even remotely formal with him, as he is not yet even three (but so soon, oh my goodness!). But he is oh-so similiar to his very precocious big sister, and he is so ready, that it was hardly fair to say no based on the “norms.”

So I decided to let him start Kumon Science and he did not disappoint! He was so excited! Since he knows his shapes and colors and can use a writing instrument fairly well, he was definitely ready.

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The lessons are short and simple, so he doesn’t lose interest before he is done. He often asks to keep going and do more than one lesson!

Sweet M loves all the vibrant colors in the book, and the realistic pictures. He, of course, loves that so many of the pages involve stickers.

I love that the lessons are informative, but age appropriate. He’s learning the differences between living and non-living things,  minerals, land forms, mixing colors, and so much more, which allows for a lot of hands-on science to occur as we delve deeper into exploring the lessons.

And one other added bonus: his big sister loves to play “teacher,” and she can help him keep him entertained with his Kumon Science while I help Mr. B with reading. It’s a win-win for everyone!

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***This post is sponsored by Timberdoodle, but as always, the thoughts and opinions are mine, and I only endorse products I genuinely love.

Berean Science: Science in the Scientific Revolution

Science has always been one of those daunting subjects for me. I’ve always felt comfortable teaching my kiddos to read and knowing just how and with which curriculum worked best for us.

Math isn’t my strongest suit, and we’ve definitely hopped around a lot trying to figure out what works best for us, but I’ve never worried that we’d miss something or they’d be insufficient in math at the end of the day.

But science?

Something about it always has me questioning if we’re doing enough. If they’re learning enough. If they’re enjoying it enough. And since H and B really love science, I hate to think I am doing them a disservice.

This year we’ve had the opportunity to try Berean Science from Timberdoodle and it’s relieved so many of my worries

We are using their 3rd grade curriculum “Science in the Scientific Revolution” but Mr. B is listening right along with us (he’s 7, technically an “older” 1st grader) and loving it just as much as Miss H.

It’s particularly fun because although they’ll both cuddle up and listen to me read aloud to them, they will also squirrel away together and Miss H will read to the both of them. Without being prompted. They just genuinely love reading their science book that much. I’m thinking we may go back and read the previous books when we are finished, as they’re zooming through this book so quickly we’ll be through it in no time!

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The kids love the colorful illustrations and the suggested science experiments (really though, who doesn’t love a fun, hands-on experiment?). There is a very concise list at the beginning of the book that tells you what will be needed for each experiment in each section, and it has thus far all been things we have in our home, which is a bonus. Plus, I love that the book always tell them to clean up their mess!

There is a good review section after each lesson to help reinforce that they grasped what they’ve learned. We haven’t felt compelled to always do the review since we’re typically chatting and working together, but if you have your kiddo doing their science independently (which they could definitely do at this age with this curriculum!) then it would be really helpful as the parent/teacher to double check their learning.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we received our Berean Science from Timberdoodle. As I said, science is daunting for me and I just hadn’t felt like we’ve really found a curriculum that “clicked” for our family, or even one particular child (we are totally open to different curriculum working best for different kiddos based on learning styles over here). But I would recommend Berean Science over and over again as we have really loved it over here!

 

***This review was done in exchange for the Berean Science from Timberdoodle, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are genuine, and I only endorse products we truly love.***

Musgrave Orchards

I have driven by the signs for Musgrave Orchards countless times over the past ten years. Always coming or going, but never stopping to check it out.

Finally, I decided to round up the munchkins up one weekend and check out this little gem of an orchard that is right in our backyard (figuratively speaking), along with my baby sister and her family.

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It’s not a you-pick orchard like some of the larger ones further away, but that’s doesn’t mean it isn’t charming and completely worth the stop!

You can walk about the property, and if you’re a dog-owner, pups are allowed on a leash. It’s great for a stroll, a picnic, or some fun fall photos.

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Inside the store you can purchase apples that are grown there at the orchard, homemade apple cider, local honey, chapsticks, and other great goodies!

You can also purchase apples slices and caramel to munch on while hanging out on the veranda where there is often local bands playing music.

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It’s not a big hoorah orchard, but it’s worth your time for sure! We will definitely be back in the future.

Mr. B Turns SEVEN…A Month and a Half Ago…

So, two of my kiddos have had birthdays since we’ve moved and I’ve still not even had time to fully process it.

Mr. B was insistent that he have a birthday party. And because he is kind of a middle child, and I relate to him on so many levels, it was important that we made that happen. Never mind that we were literally moving into our house (our household goods arrived on his actual birthday) and that I was doing it mostly solo because J was out of town up until the party weekend.

I decided to do a combined party for him and Bean, since I figured we should acknowledge her first birthday (I kind of thought that maybe if we pretended it wasn’t happening, then she’d stay a tiny baby forever, alas). Mr. B and Bean’s birthdays are exactly one week apart, so it worked out well. And since Bean’s only friends are in Hawaii, there was no competition on that front, ha.

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Truthfully, even though it wasn’t beautiful, having a brunch birthday party for him was a fantastic was for us to get to visit with many of the friends we had missed for the past year+ while we were away; and I’ve been so non-stop busy since our move, it may not have happened if B hadn’t been so insistent.

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This friend even flew all the way from NYC just to see him! Okay, maybe he flew to see his wife and this was an added bonus, but either way, B was delighted!

I made life as simple as possible and outsourced the cake making to the amazing Rebecca of Stryking Events, who did a superb job. Mr. B wanted a cookie dough cake on top, and chocolate mint on bottom. So not only was the cake freaking gorgeous, it tasted divine to boot. I will hire Rebecca again and again for our party needs because she always goes above and beyond. Always.

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This seriously is the best cake you’ve ever seen, isn’t it!?
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My momma made this dinosaur watermelon that the kids still talk about!

Mr. B is pretty much one of the sweetest kids out there. His heart is so big and so full of good; he really give me hope for the next generation of males (sorry, the climate right now is seeping into everything). When I worry about what the future may hold for the world, I remind myself that B is going to be a part of it, so it will be okay. Eventually.

He’s an absolute cuddle bug. None of my other kids are as cuddly and lovey as B is; not even Sweet M, and that is saying a lot! He loves to study graphic novels and build Lego sets. He’s still obsessed with all things dinosaurs and Jurassic World (hence our fourth dinosaur birthday out of seven…). He loves mythology and science, and I love that loves two such fascinating and complex subjects so immensely.

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He still enjoys playing his ukulele and is also slowly learning the electric guitar (please send ear plugs and coffee…just kidding. Maybe.).

He still has an amazing sense of style that puts the rest of the world to shame. I don’t know how I got such fashionable kids!

B loved Hawaii the least of everyone; he tolerated it and made some fantastic friends and memories, but he was ready to come back to the Midwest pretty much from day one. And he’s melded right back into his roll and life here and hasn’t really looked back.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him.

All About Reading

Miss H wasn’t even quite five years old when she sat me down for a very important discussion.

“Momma,” she said seriously, “I need to read. All by myself.”

One part of me was thrilled. Reading is my favorite hobby and pastime. Anything and everything I could ever possibly want to learn or know I’ve gained through reading. And with her being my first kiddo, I was ecstatic to share this with her.

But the other part of me? I was terrified. How in the world was I to teach this sweet girl to read? It really made me start questioning all of my life choices, and maybe I wasn’t really cut out to be her teacher after all? I mean, what if I screwed this up!?

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But like with all things, I dove head first into research and decided I was going to do this for my girl, even if it caused to gray prematurely (it didn’t!).

I did a lot of research. It’s what I’m good at.

And in the end, I settled on the All About Reading curriculum to help us plunge feet first into the wonderful world of reading.

We haven’t looked back since! She’s on level 4 now (which is her favorite because it is purple, and those things are important when you are 8), and is an incredibly proficient reader. I’m always a little surprised when I hear her read a word I didn’t realize she knew, and it’s pretty amazing to watch her completely engulfed in reading; getting lost in adventures for hours on end.

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As an adult and an avid reader, I have learned so many rules in decoding just by teaching Miss H with this curriculum, which has been a lot of fun for both of us.

All About Reading is such an incredibly comprehensive curriculum that you will never need to supplement with other reading instruction in those early years. Its multi-sensory approach “teaches phonics, decoding, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.”

Every lesson plan is greatly detailed and well laid out for you as the teacher, so all you have to do is open the book and go. With tangible letter tiles, flash cards, word practice sheets, and lots of fun reading games and stories, it’s really hard to not love All About Reading.

 

 

***I was given the ARR Level 4 curriculum from Timberdoodle in exchange for this review. As always, I only support companies and products that I genuinely love, and thoughts and opinions are all my own. ***

Milkbarn

It’s not even a little bit of a secret that quality children’s clothing is kind of my kryptonite and Christmas all wrapped up in one. Nothing makes me happier than dressing my kiddos in soft, beautiful apparel. I mean, I may look like a hot mess most of the time, but my little loves typically make up for it.

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Bamboo is by far my favorite fabric of choice, followed very closely by organic cotton and linen. Bamboo is so soft, and perfect for any season. But really, have you felt fabrics made from bamboo? You need to find some asap if you haven’t. Or maybe not. Because I promise you’ll be addicted for life.

It’s really important to me that my kids wear clothing that they can play in. They are, after all, children. They run and climb and get dirty and love life to a level most of us have forgotten by adulthood. And we value childhood so much in this house. I don’t want to constantly feel like I have to tell them to be careful with their clothes or feel like I’m helicoptering them around. And I obviously want them to have the ability of full-range motion. I have a gaggle of little climbers and they’ve got important business to work on at the playground.

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This lady is an absolute boss, and knows her most important work is done at the park.

One of my absolute favorite brand of clothing for Bean and Sweet M is Milkbarn. The prints and styles are so lovely, fun, and chic; and their clothing is offered in bamboo or organic cotton fabrics, so you’re winning no matter which you choose! Plus, they’re incredibly versatile; sweet enough to be worn to church and soft and comfortable enough to be worn to the playground. And trust me, we’ve done both!

And they’re cozy enough to sleep in (and not just their sleepers, but those are fabulous too!) that if we happen to know we’ll be out past bedtime but don’t want them obviously in their pj’s wherever it is we are going, we purposefully dress them in their Milkbarn outfits because then we don’t have to worry about trying to change sleeping toddlers when we get home. (And my toddlers are pretty specific about their needs for their nighttime sleep!)

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Because bamboo and organic cotton is so soft and stretchy, Milkbarn clothing can also be worn for a great range in sizes, allowing you to buy less and enjoy better quality. Although Bean is solidly in a size 12-18 months at this point in most brands, she can still rock her 6-12 month Milkbarn products with ease, or wear her 12-18 month apparel with comfort, and no risk of outgrowing tomorrow like some other items in her closet. If we are being honest, even Sweet M, who is solidly in a size 3, still wears his 12-18 months Milkbarn rompers because he loves them and they’re stretchy enough not to look like we’ve squeezed him into them, haha.

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Milkbarn offers a wide array of products – dresses, rompers, onesies, sleepers, sleep bags, headbands, baby towels, swaddle blankets, and more! They can pretty much offer all of your baby apparel needs, and are one of my favorite items to gift at baby showers or for new babies. Because really, every new baby needs to me wrapped in soft and cozy Milkbarn apparel.

And if fantastic apparel wasn’t enough, Milkbarn also works for an amazing cause – Exile International, which helps child soldiers and those orphaned in Uganda and DR Congo. So not only is it clothing your baby will feel great wearing, but it’s clothing you’ll feel great putting your money toward!

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***This post was written in exchange for Milkbarn products. As always, all opinions are genuine, and I only support companies that I truly adore. 

I Let My Kids Play Outside. Unsupervised.

It’s been a long time since I’ve said something publicly and had to stop and wonder if I shouldn’t have. But I mentioned in front of another momma last week that all four of my kids play outside while I make dinner, and often after dinner while I do clean up. Alone. (And many other times too, but those are the two times they’re pretty much always out there.)

She looked uncomfortable. Like maybe I’d just confessed that I sometimes let my 8 year old drive herself to the mini mart to pick me up a 6 pack (I mean, obviously, I’m a classy lady. I’d at least ask for a proper bottle of wine, ha.)

I found myself stammering to justify it in the moment, but I probably only made it worse. And later I was kicking myself anyway. Why did I feel so compelled to try and justify my parenting (or lack there of, that’s up to you) to a semi-stranger?

Why?

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Well, because we’re living in the 21st century where literally every decision is scrutinized under a microscope, and it doesn’t matter what you choose, you’re going to be wrong to someone.

Because we are living in the age of media. Where although crime has actually gone down over the decades, everyone is far more aware and terrified because all they hear is awful stories.

I’m not going to lie to you.

I have zero fears of my kids being kidnapped. Like when people say they can’t let their kids be outside alone because they may be kidnapped, that doesn’t even cross my mind. I can’t say it’s absolutely impossible, but the likelihood is so slim that it’s not even on my radar.

do worry about them gouging each others eyes out with sticks. Or falling off of a swing and breaking their arm (been there done, that. Me, not them.) I occasionally worry that the 2.5 year old may have a temporary lapse in self-control and venture into the street after something. But he’s always out there with his older siblings, and they typically are all engaged in some deep form of play that he’d never be able to squirrel away and get as far as the road without them noticing (and he never has. And H and B simply never did, so again, not that it couldn’t happen, but it’s not a constant worry.)

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I think what my children gain from free, unadulterated play is far more than they could ever gain with constant supervision, and is worth that mild risk of something going wrong. (And if we are being completely truthful here, every single injury my kids have had that landed us in the emergency room have happened with them just an arms reach or so away from me; not on their own.)

When I was a kid I can remember roaming the woods with my friends. We were as young as Mr. B; 7 years old. No adults nearby. We would roam and explore and play for hours before resurfacing for sustenance. It was beautiful and wonderful, and the type of freedom I wish for my children.

We’d get on our bikes and bike to the gas station for candy or to the playground or to the library. The world was our oyster.

But I also realize that my children aren’t privy to that sort of freedom.

We don’t have woods, and as far as I know, none of our close friends do either. If I let my children bike around town on their own, let’s be honest: someone would surely call DCS. Because that’s the world we live in these days.

So what I can give my children is a few hours in their own backyard, playing without interference from me or J; allowed to make up their own world of pretend. Allowed to make their own rules and negotiations.

Allowed to just be kids.

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(And sometimes I peek through the back windows because I’m a cool, free-range momma, but I also worry like crazy because I brought those babies into this world and I want them whole and in one piece forever and ever.)

Return to the Midwest

Well, we are not in Hawaii anymore. I guess that’s obvious at this point. It was a whirlwind of an adventure. We essentially went from looking at housing that was closer to J’s work, to packing our stuff and leaving the island in less than a month. But that’s the government for you. You have to be ready at the drop of a hat.

I’m still processing the move. As are the kiddos. They’ve done awesome though. The big kids transitioned back to the Midwest with zero issues. And Bean hasn’t had any noticeable issues with it either. But for Sweet M, it has definitely been a struggle. He asks to go the beach daily. He talks about his missing friends nonstop. He’s sleeping poorly, and experiencing frequent night terrors. He’s incredibly clingy, which for him, is not the norm. He isn’t dealing with separation, even in small amounts, from anyone in his immediate family well.

But he will get there. I’m confident of that. With a lot of love and patience, he will get there. Kids are super resilient, and Sweet M is no exception. He’s the toughest little dude I know.

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For everything I miss about Hawaii, there is something I love about the Midwest, and vice versa. It makes my feelings so jumbled up.

I miss the ocean. The smell of the water.

I miss my friends. My community.

But I’m glad to have space in this big ol’ house of ours for our family to expand in. And I’m thrilled to be able to afford to eat again, bahaha. Air conditioning and a dish washer is a luxury I had deeply missed. And I love the lack of traffic and the ability to drive anywhere I want.

The seasons are starting to change and I realize I missed that, too. I’m not looking forward to snow though. I didn’t miss that. Not even an incy wincy amount.

But I love that we can hang out at the playground and not sweat to death. That we can walk nearly everywhere we want to go.

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I’ve brought a lot of that aloha lifestyle back with us, too.

I’m not trying to do a million things anymore. I’m embracing the less is more. H and B are doing music lessons, and that’s it. I refuse to run around on the week day evenings. We are just chill being and enjoying. Although the babies could be doing a ton all day, we are content playing with duplos and being outside, and honoring naps.

I’m not stressing out over whether or not the house is picked up and looks akin to something out of a Home and Gardens Magazine. Sorry, but not really. I just can’t do that anymore. I mean, not like it ever did in the first place, but Lord knows I stressed myself out over it.

I’m spending a lot more time by myself. Well, by myself with my kids, I’m never truly alone, ha. At first, despite being an introvert, I found that uncomfortable, but I’m really embracing it now and loving how this time gives me the space to enjoy these kiddos as they properly should be. They’re not competing for my attention with friends or activities.

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I don’t know how long this season of contentment will last. I tend to always get a little stir crazy and antsy after a while. But now that we are officially moved in – though still working on unpacking and making this house ours again – I’m feeling really at peace with where we are in life right now.

It’s not Hawaii, that’s for sure. But it’s still something beautiful.