Momiform– Boyfriend Jeans

I’m sorry, but every mom needs a pair of boyfriend jeans in her arsenal. They are SO soft, SO comfortable, and they go with everything.

I’d wear them as pjs, but that’d just be weird.

Momiform bf jeans 4

Momiform bf jeans 1

Shirt: Nordstroms, Pants: Paige Denim Jimmy, Belt: New York & Co., Shoes: Target, Necklace: Lisa Leonard Designs

Momiform bf jeans 2 Momiform bf jeans 3

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Momma Fail

Pascha, 2011

Pascha, 2011

Let’s talk for a minute about a desperate place every Orthodox mother has been in.

You see, in our church, kids do NOT leave for the service. They do not have a separate kids’ sermon or kids’ school. They stay with us, in the church, for the entire 2, sometimes more, hours. We do this for a reason– kids can worship in their own way, even if that way sounds deafening half the time. And how else are they going to learn to love church if they aren’t with their parents in the service, ready to copy the adults around them? We all learn by copying, so the premise is that they should grow up imitating the adults in their life, not their peers in some separate room. They shouldn’t feel inferior, they should feel like they are part of the Body of Christ at all times.

But it gets a little loud and crazy. And every church I’ve been to has been especially considerate of this. One time, I took Gregory out because he was whooping and hollering (his version of singing). One of the deacons followed me out and said, “Oh, dear, I hope you didn’t leave because you thought he was being loud! We love it when we can hear the young ones. God’s Kingdom is especially for them. It brings tears to my eyes when I can hear them. Please bring him back in!”

Another time, we had a wild kid in the back, kicking and flailing. I don’t think he was participating at all, but the mother sure was trying to. He was getting so loud, he was drowning out the Priest’s homily! Everybody was staring at each other, awkwardly, wondering what they should do, if anything. I’ll never forget it, but the Priest’s wife, a wonderful mom of two, marched straight to the back. Everyone held their breath, wondering if she was going to ask the mom to leave. Instead, she picked up the kid and talked to him softly, calming him down. She figured that instead of complaining, she would pitch in and help so that the mom could participate in the service.

But I’ll tell you one person who minds the kids and their disruptions. It’s usually the one person who’s the least tolerant. It’s always the kids’ mom.

I’ve been that mom a lot lately. Mortified, hearing every squawk as though it’s on a megaphone, looking around to make sure no one’s staring. Gregory is going through a super defiant stage, where he purposefully walks straight up to the line and camps out. If we say no laying down and flopping on the floor, he will lay almost completely down on his elbows and stare at us, showing that he can technically follow the letter of the law without the spirit of it. Sometimes, if he’s feeling especially naughty, he’ll attack his brother at some random moment, causing them both to scream. Once, he tried to BODYSLAM his brother in church, missed, and fell flat on his bum (it looked like it hurt!). It was hard to feel too sorry for him, since he hurt himself trying to hurt someone else.

A few months ago, it was particularly bad. I took Gregory out for the bazillionth time that day, and tried talking to him. He wasn’t listening, that much was clear.

Something inside me snapped. I reached a desperate place.

“Gregory,” I said. “When you act like that, you make Momma sad. You make Dadda sad. You even make JESUS sad.”

His eyes popped wide. I had his full attention now.

“Jesus?” he said quietly.

I felt sooo terrible. My church behind me was preaching Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance of the people He loves, and I was out here telling my son that Jesus was disappointed in Him. That might be an appropriate conversation for later, granted, because being respectful is a good skill to have. But all a two year old is going to hear is, “Jesus doesn’t like me.”

I tried to move on, but he told Jesse later, “Jesus is SAAAAD.” Jesse shot me this look that said, what the heck did you tell our son?

Total Mom Fail.

He brought it up for several weeks in a row. When somebody would ask him about church, he would say, “Jesus SAD.” It made me feel like a terrible person every single time.

A few weeks went by, and he stopped mentioning it. When he found out we’d be going to church in the morning, he would say, excitedly, “See Jesus? Kiss the cross? Cah-moon-un?” No mention of Sad Jesus. Whew.

This last Sunday, when I brought him out for the bazillionth time once again, I tried to have the talk again,  taking a different approach.

“Gregory,” I said. “We come to church to pray to Jesus because He loves us. When you act like that, Momma can’t pray. Dadda can’t pray.” Then I finished with, “When we go back in, I want you to apologize to Dadda and Momma.”

“Yeah,” he said, “And JESUS.”

Ugh, there it was again. I ignored what he said and brought him back in. He acted eager, like he couldn’t wait.

And then I got a front row seat to my son’s tender little heart that I love so much. He marched straight over to Jesse and said, “Dadda, I sorry. You pray.” And then, without being prompted, he walked out to the center of the church, straight under the large icon of Jesus on the ceiling. I could just barely hear him as he looked straight up and said softly, “Jesus, I so sorry.”

Tears came to my eyes. For that moment, I got to see my son how God sees him. A tender soul, open, willing to apologize and be loved anyways. For me, church that day was a huge lesson. It’s so easy to go before Jesus and tell him what we need or want. We want him to fix everything. But we ignore the one thing that begins the path to fixing everything. Repentance.

It was so simple for Gregory to march in, look Jesus right in the eye and repent. I thank God for letting me see that, because he taught his mother so much about child-like humility.

Pascha 2

 

how to list your stuff on Ebay and make $

eBay packages for blog

It’s been a while since you’ve seen me write about any money I’ve made selling anything on eBay.

I have posted about my Craigslist luck. I managed to clean out our old furniture, making enough $ to buy our BOB stroller. In the past week, I’ve sold enough furniture from our old guest room to put tile in our new laundry room.

But eBay? Perhaps I was disillusioned, but I haven’t listed anything there in around a year.

One of my summer goals was to clean out 3 large bins full of old clothes. These were the clothes I affectionately called my “post-pregnancy and nursing” clothes. I hadn’t worn them in 3 whole years!

So, I made myself a rule. I decided that if I wasn’t super excited to see  any of these things come out of storage, then I would sell or thrift them without a second thought. No guilt. I need clothes that I’ll actually WEAR, especially since storing 3 bins of clothes I don’t even like anymore is kind of a drag. I also cleaned out my closet with the same cut-throat premise.

And then, on a whim, I revisited my friend Mr. eBay and listed it all, shirts for $2.99, pants for $9.99.

Lo and behold, in ONE week, I made exactly $190!!! That’s profit– there was more money for shipping costs.

This money wouldn’t have come at a better time. Gregory is bumping up into size 3T now, and when I pulled out my bin full of garage sale finds I’d been saving, I realized that I hardly have anything after 2T in there. I think that part of my brain just could not wrap around the fact that my little baby would ever get that big. But they do! Oh, they do!

Jesse had also expressed a need for new clothes this Fall. Heck, the guy still wears a few shirts he got in HIGH SCHOOL. He’s definitely not one to buy new clothes, so when he asks for them, it must mean he needs them. 🙂

But buying lots of clothes is not exactly in our budget right now. I am trying to carve out a surplus each month to put into savings, not spend it! Before my eBay extravaganza, I had estimated that we could buy new clothes for Gregory in September and October, then Jesse in November and December (Jesse thought we should wait and just ask everyone for clothes for G on his 3rd birthday next month…but what kind of 3 year old only wants clothes for his birthday?)

Using this money, without tapping into ANY of our monthly budget, I was able to turn it around on eBay and buy:

1 pair of Dockers for Jesse

3 Lands End shirts for Jesse

8 shirts for Gregory

4 pairs of pants for Gregory

1 pair of Keens shoes for Gregory

3 shirts for me

1 pair of pants for me

See? ALL that! In exchange for a bin full of clothes that I haven’t seen in 3 years! And there’s still a little bit left over.

Having caught the “eBay Bug” once again, I decided to outline a few tips that I’ve found greatly help one when navigating online selling.

In order of importance:

1. PICTURES. As many as you can! As of right now, eBay gives you 12 free pictures with each listing. Back when I used to sell stuff, it was 10 cents a picture, so I was stingy. But 12 is a lot. Use a free picture editing app to get the lighting and coloring right.

For pants: Take one picture of the front laid out not folded, one of the back, one of the hems, one of the button fly, and one of the inside tag.

For shirts: Take one of the front, then the back, then the tag. You should also take one of the shirt hanging on a nice hanger, so that the bidders can see how it will hang.

For shoes: Stand them up, then take pictures of the tag inside, the soles, and the toes. Make sure to take a picture of every single scuff so as to protect yourself.

Pictures are the most important ingredient. Whenever friends ask me why their item didn’t sell, it’s almost always the pictures.

2. Description. I always spend the first paragraph describing my item as poetically as possible. I talk about how it’s fashionable, about what it would look good paired with, about how flattering it is, etc. On the second paragraph, I take every possible measurement. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they will have emotionally moved on to a different item by the time you reply. When shopping, I almost always pass on items without measurements. Even if you know your “size” in a particular brand, sizes vary by year and style. Also make sure to list what materials it’s made of (for instance, some people only like to buy jeans with 98% cotton, 2% lycra).

For shirts: Take measurements of the bust, sleeve length, waist, and entire shirt length

For pants: Take measurements of the rise, inseam, leg opening, and waist.

For shoes: Take measurements of the width and height of the boot shaft.

3. Make your title full of search words. I always include the size, color and brand within my title, even if I detail it later as well. You can put abbreviations like “NWT!” (new with tags) or if it’s in good condition, put, “LIKE NEW!” at the end.

4. List lots of stuff at one time! Not only is it more time effective since you can take all your pictures at once, but you can also write at the bottom of your listing, “Cleaning out my closet! Listing dozens of items!”. This is particularly effective if you have a bunch of popular name brand items with some not so popular. Buyers love combined shipping, and chances are if they are your size and style in pants, they will also want to buy a few of your shirts as well! This time around, ALL of the no-name shirts sold quickly. There’s no explanation for how much traffic they got, other than the fact that people who were buying “JCrew Jeans” also clicked and found my Kohls shirts.

5. Price reasonably. For a popular brand or item, I list it at a third of the retail price, sometimes less. For a not popular item, I only price it at a couple bucks. $3 may not seem like much, but if you sell 10 of them, that’s $30!

Also, keep shipping prices reasonable. Charging too much for shipping is a totally rookie mistake. Some people list the item for 99 cents, then charge $11 for shipping. I immediately walk away when I see something like this. Also, when you ask the program to itemize your search lowest prices first, your item will appear as costing $12, not 99 cents.

If you can keep your packaging costs low (see #7), then you can afford to keep shipping low! I’ve found that it costs between $4-6 for shirts, $6-8 for sweaters, and $9-10 for pants.

If you ship from home, make sure to weigh your item AFTER you’ve packaged it, not before. I’ve had several eBay items I bought delivered to me with a bill attached. If you are off by even a couple ounces, the post office will charge the RECIPIENT the difference, and they tack on fees. I’ve had to claim an extra $5 from sellers before. If they had weighed it correctly in the first place, they would’ve paid an extra 5 cents.

6. 3 Day Auctions: Let’s not kid ourselves, unless it’s a super nice Anthropologie Blazer, there won’t be lots of people bidding and outbidding. Most people wait until the last day anyways, because they’re afraid of running up the price. Do yourself a favor and pick a 3 day listing. I rarely ever use the Buy It Now option.

6 days is also a long time for people to wait if they want the item. 3 days gives people time to find it and bid, but not so much time that they get impatient and find something else in the meantime.

7. Buy your packaging at the Dollar Store. This last round, I sold and mailed 17 items. If I’d spent $2/each on packaging at the post office or Walmart, I’d have wasted $35. Instead, go buy $1 worth of packing tape and $2 worth of recycled brown wrapping paper (or, you can use paper bags cut up. Our county has a ban on plastic bags and makes us pay for paper bags, so we don’t have many lying around). I shipped all of my items with $3 worth of packaging! Win!

If you package this way, just make sure to tape up every corner and seam. Postal carriers are pretty rough and you wouldn’t want the item to break out of the packaging and arrive dirty (it happened to me once).

8. List on Tuesday, end on Friday. Most buyers will pay within a few hours of the auction ending, but others take a day or two to get their act together. You don’t want to punish the people who paid right away, but you also don’t want to take multiple trips to the post office. If you end on Friday, 98% of your buyers will have paid by Sunday night, letting you make one trip on Monday. It also gives you extra time over the weekend to package everything!

Also, people LOVE shopping on Fridays. I got a lot of last minute people out of the blue who weren’t even originally “watching” my items!

Momiform of the Day

I’m not just a stay at home mom, I also have to go to work from 3-5pm in the afternoons, teaching piano lessons to other people’s kids. Most days, I need an outfit that can do both.

I used to dress more professionally for piano lessons, but you know what? I found that the kids respond better when I’m dressed more casually. It’s as though they are more comfortable when I’m more comfortable. Part of this has to do with their ages– most of them are between 4-12 years old.

But I still need to look presentable, right? It’s all in the hair, I’ve found. Spending an extra 5 minutes on my hair makes any so-so outfit okay in a heartbeat!

Outfit for blog 1 Outfit for blog 2

Family Command Center

First and foremost, a disclaimer: I am not claiming to run a perfect household. On the contrary, these things are tools so that I can one day HOPE to have clean clothes and dishes on a normal basis 😉

Over the past couple of months, I’ve worked hard to perfect our family command center in the hallway and on the side of the fridge. I had a lot of strict criteria for this space– extremely functional, uncluttered AND pretty.

command center 7

Absolutely essential, first and foremost, is our large wall calendar from Amazon. Our phones are synced with our schedules as well, but a visual calendar makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Electronic calendars only work if you use them– visual ones are right there in your face every day.

Next in line in importance is the weekly meal calendar. I used this free printout from Jenny Collier, and had my dad blow it up into a big 11×14 copy at his work. Jesse then laminated it for me so that I could use dry erase markers on it. Having a meal calendar may seem like overkill, but it makes our household run so much more smoothly, since Jesse is often the one who starts dinner on the weekdays since I am teaching piano. Before we started doing this, we were constantly finding ourselves staring at a pantry full of food, wondering what we should eat, deciding to go out to eat instead. “Fail to plan, plan to fail”, I’ve heard it said. It also forces me to make grocery shopping a one time a week deal.

command center 3

Gregory also has his own little chore chart (free from Dandee-Designs). I give him little stars whenever he completes any of these things: making his bed, putting on his clothes by himself, putting away his dishes, brushing his teeth, and putting away his toys.  There aren’t many stars on it right now because he keeps ripping them off later 🙂 Oh well, boys will be boys!

command center 2

Then there’s my dollar store frame trifecta.  I have my weekly workout calendar (free from design finch) to keep me motivated, my daily cleaning schedule and my weekly cleaning schedule (free from Blooming Homestead).

command center 4

The daily/evening chore chart is one that I created myself, just because I couldn’t find anything I liked on Pinterest (gasp!). You can click here for the free printable: Daily Chores.

Daily Chores

Why do I have two different cleaning checklists? Honestly, because the weekly one has extra chores on it that I don’t always know if I can get to during my morning routine. Basically, they’re my “wish” list, but I don’t need to feel devastated if they don’t happen. The daily chores are the ones that NEED to happen if our house is going to run.

Last but not least, I have a Valentine that Jesse gave me last year, hung right at eye level. Every time the going gets rough, or it seems like I can’t get everything done, I’m reminded that I’m enough, either way 🙂

command center 1

how i almost got arrested in Italy

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Remember that time I went to Europe as a teenager? Twice?

A few weeks ago, I alluded to the time I *ahem* almost got arrested in Italy 8 years ago. A few of you begged to know the story, so I dug it out of the recesses of my memory.

It’s not what you might think, actually. In fact, there wasn’t even any alcohol involved.

Whew, okay, Dad, you’ve calmed down now.

My first time to Europe, I was 19 years old. I had just finished my second year of college, and I was (unbeknownst to me), 4 months away from getting engaged to my boyfriend, now husband. I was able to go on the trip in place of college credit, so it actually offset the cost quite a bit, making it more than worth it (like going to Europe isn’t worth it enough!).

The day we arrived in Athens, I felt like I was living in a dream. For a classically educated student who had been studying Italy and Greece since the age of 11, I couldn’t believe my luck. But there were a lot of new things to get used to. I got to experience jet lag first hand on the first evening when I accidentally tripped on a tall flight of marble stairs and fell the entire way down.

However “school smart” I was, I was woefully unprepared for the big bad world. We were given small bits of advice about how to deal with the local culture (in Italy, it was, “don’t look men in the eye or they’ll think you’re coming on to them”), but I underestimated some things about how extra vulnerable a small blonde haired blue eyed girl would seem. It didn’t help that our first week was all spent in Greece, mostly Athens, which is ranked as one of the safest cities in the world. The culture is super warm and accommodating, and most of the population are devoutly religious, keeping crime super low, especially for a large city. But we soon learned that not all Europeans were as respectful as the Greeks.

The first part of my education occurred when our cruise ship (yes, a week of the trip was a cruise around the Mediterranean!) stopped at the island of Rhodes. My friend and I were by ourselves, in the middle of shopping for souvenirs, and a local guy walked by us and made a comment about how much he liked my hair. “So BLONDE” he smiled. I laughed and said thanks, and kept walking. About 5 minutes later, my friend noticed that the guy was following us, about a block behind. We walked faster. He walked faster. It was a pretty crowded market place so we weren’t scared, but we didn’t want an awkward encounter. When he didn’t stop, we decided to run. We got some distance on him and ducked in a small alley/set of stairs. A few minutes later, we saw him run by us, shouting, “Wait! Blonde hair! Wait!” Creepy.

I acknowledged that this was a bit weird, but I thought it might have been a one time thing.

When we got to Turkey, our education continued when we got on the tour bus as a group. Our tour guide, a native, started talking about all of their tourist attractions as we drove around the city. At one point, he said, “Yes, yes, we were all very sad to hear about that 9/11 thing in your country. Very bad for our tourism business over here.”

You could have heard crickets on the bus– we were all staring him down. This was 2005. A bus full of Americans. Um, it was bad for business? How insensitive was this guy? He quickly added, “Uh, yes, we were also sad because it was such a TRAGEDY! Yes!” Jerk.

Later that day, when we were all buying souvenirs (and mom and dad wonder why I ran out of money!) on the main strip in front of the ruins, another friend and I stepped into a small dark shop full of rugs and started looking at their shoes. They had a BUNCH of rip-off brands, and we were mildly interested. After a few minutes, we realized that if we didn’t leave now, we would miss the ferry back to our ship. When we tried to go back up the stairs and out the door, the big Arab dude who owned the shop blocked our path. “BUY SOMETHING”, he said in broken English. We laughed, and said no thanks. But he didn’t move out of the way, he just kept glaring. We went back and forth like this for a few minutes, us trying to leave, him getting in our way in a menacing manner. So I found something that I liked and we bought it quickly, no longer having any fun whatsoever. In the end, we barely made it back to our boat.

I didn’t feel so bad about being forced to buy something when we heard that another Arab had tried to, get ready for this, BUY one of the girls in our group. He offered our leader a CAMEL in exchange for buying her as his wife. WTF???

All this lead to my education as we made our way to Italy. After visiting Rome, we made it to Florence. It was at this point, due to circumstances, that our leaders decided to cut our day trip to Pisa, a 2 hour train ride from Florence.

I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that we were going to come ALL the way to Italy not to even see the Leaning Tower.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was super disappointed.  A group of 7 of us were given permission to skip out on one of our days in Florence and take the Fast Train to Pisa. We got instructions, and off we went.

Despite all of my sketchy encounters thus far, I figured I would be safe because we were in such a large group. We even had 2 big guys with us.

Buying our tickets for the Fast Train seemed easy. Too easy. But we didn’t know any better, because, for the first time, all of the signs were exclusively in Italian (everywhere else, especially at all the touristy spots, the instructions were also in English). We were about to learn the hard way why the government does this.

We got on the train. We made it to Pisa and had an absolute blast!

It was on our train trip back that we got into trouble. A security guard made his rounds on the train, checking tickets.

He made it to my friend and me first.

“Tickets, please.”

We held out our tickets obediently.

He grinned. “You did not get them validated.”

We were confused. “Sir, we paid for them. No one told us we had to do anything else?” Our friends across the aisle were equally perplexed.

He grinned again, and held up a laminated, ready to go card, ALL IN ENGLISH. It outlined how tickets are not valid until they have been hole-punched by a special machine at the gate.

I felt cheated, as well I should have. There was not a single English sign indicating this, ANYWHERE on ANY of the platforms. I knew then that this entire thing was designed to get non-Italian speaking tourist money.

“Sir,” I tried again. “We were not aware of this, but we DID pay for our tickets, as you can see!”

He grinned. “Rules are rules,” he said. “You have to pay the fee for not getting your ticket validated.”

I looked at the card. The fee was 30 Euros, PER TICKET. That’s $60! For a traveling student on a budget, this was basically my dinner money for the next two days.

But the evil man was not done there.

“If you don’t pay the fee,” he said, holding our tickets in his hands. “I am going to throw these away and tell the police you did not pay at all! How would you like that?”

My friend, who had been holding her temper this entire time (she was a bit fiery), lost it here. She reached up, and snatched the ticket back from him.

“No you won’t!” she hissed.

The guard looked astounded. He tried to grab the ticket back from her.

I kid you not, but they actually got into a tug-of-war contest with the ticket. After a few seconds that felt like an eternity, it ripped down the middle, both of them holding a different half.

Two of our friends across the aisle started singing, in loud voices, “God Bless America.” It would have been hilarious, if I wasn’t so scared.

“QUIET!” the guard snapped. Then he looked back over at us.

“You give me the money RIGHT NOW, or I call the police and tell them you never paid at all!”

I looked down at my purse, wondering if I even had enough money. I knew that my friend didn’t.

Then, I saw the scariest thing yet. My friend’s hand was clenched, fingers pulled in, ready to punch.

I freaked out. In that brief second, I saw us going to jail for assaulting a train guard.

I quickly pulled as many Euros as I could out of my purse and practically threw it at the guard. He laughed and didn’t even count it. At this exact moment, our train stopped at a station. He walked straight to the exit and got off at the platform.

As we pulled away, we saw him on the platform with one of his guard buddies, waving my money and laughing. My friend saw this and yelled some not very pleasant things out the window as we pulled away.

Later, when we got back to Florence and told our tour guide everything that happened, she shook her head sadly and said, “Ah, yes! I forgot to warn you about this. They set it up in order to catch tourists who don’t know any better. I am so sorry.”

Apparently, our professor used to tell this story as a cautionary tale whenever he took other groups of students to Italy.

So….there you have it. The time I was almost arrested in Italy! Anyone else have any crazy stories from traveling?

Happy Monday!

I almost hate doing this to everyone on a Monday morning. But Monday’s kinda stink, and we could all use some cheering up, right?

This video proves that drugs exist in the world. If you’re at work right now, you might want to turn down the volume. But you will laugh until you cry. Promise.

Healing after trauma

Gregory midnight wakeup 3:2013

As this summer draws to a close, I wanted to talk about what it means to heal from something traumatic that’s happened in your life.

When I talk about the trauma of this past year, I am not just talking about our awful foster care experience, but also about our house-hunting ordeal turned nightmare. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about this past year, figuring out the ways in which those difficult months, the most difficult of my life thus far, have changed me. I always worry about how bad experiences are going to shape me, because I’ve come to find that I’m SO sensitive and SO shapeable. I am entirely unable to put on a front or be happy about things if I’m not doing well inside. Open Book. That’s me. An Open Book that anyone can write in.

But is hardening my heart a good option? Is that what this last year has taught me– harden your heart and be careful who you love? Be careful what you dream for?

No. No matter how much those 5 months of my life hurt and sucked big time, I REFUSE to let them negatively affect me, as easy as that would be. For instance, the first question people ask us is, “Has this made you afraid to ever foster kids again?”

The answer to that is complicated. Do I think we will ever be ready to foster a teenager again? Nope, I can safely say that that is not something I ever want to put our family through again. But do I wish we could foster other kids? Make a difference in this world, even if it means heartache? Yes. A hundred times yes. In many ways, this experience has opened our eyes to the huge hurting world out there, and once you see it you can never unsee. I’m grateful that our negative experience taught us something so positive about our calling and about ourselves. I sometimes ask Jesse, “Why do you think that God allowed things to get so bad?”, and he always responds, “Because, there’s comfort knowing that we did everything we possibly could. It helps us to know that the failure was not our fault.”

Above all things, however, I think that this experience has taught me how to NOT be a victim, and that the consequences of letting someone or some circumstance walk all over your family are dreadful. When someone is unfair or downright cruel to me, I am the “flight” part of the “fight or flight”. I only know how to retreat and lick my wounds in secret, even if the abuse is ongoing. Jesse is actually the opposite end of this equation, which is what makes us so good for each other. When I just want to retreat and give up, he takes charge and faces the situation head on. In fact, the one thing he wishes he’d done differently this last year was stop the situation from getting as bad as it did, pulling the plug sooner.

A few examples of abuse in my life: I had a horrible boyfriend who was really bad for me. He treated me horribly. He took other girls’ phone numbers WHILE WE WERE ON DATES, and then accused me of being untrusting. Jesse was actually the one who helped me break up with this guy, because I didn’t have the nerve to do it myself. Even though the relationship was toxic and abusive, it was better than nothing and I stuck with it.

There was also the time I worked at a classical school in Ft. Worth and a particular mom had it out for me because I failed several of her kids’ papers. Since she had home-schooled them up to that point, she was deeply hurt by my criticism. She made it her personal mission to GET ME FIRED. She would literally sit in the carpool line all afternoon, going car to car, trying to collect enough dirt on me to get me fired. Seriously! And instead of standing up for myself, I took it. I never confronted her, just came home to Jesse sobbing every single day. As a result, I was afraid to ever set foot in a classroom again.

All of these situations have shown me that I do not need to be a victim when something wrong occurs. Just because someone is offended does NOT make it my fault. I do not need to accept personal responsibility if I have done all that I can on my end of things. The buck stops with what I can control. The end.

But that’s easier said than done, as anyone knows. It’s easy to let your thoughts wander, wonder what so and so thinks, wonder if so and so is mad, wonder what they might do. I am learning, left and right, that the biggest thing I need on a day to day basis is to control my thoughts. There were so many times during those 5 months that my thoughts were like buzzing bees around my head. And it got to be too much.

Finally, I was able to lean on the Lord in a way that people talk about with many cliche’s such as, “Give all your thoughts to Him”.

That always sounded cheesy to me, and I’d never understood it.

Until these last 5 months. It took me being in such a desperate place of being unable to control my own thoughts and anxieties to fall on the Lord and say, sometimes out loud, “I cannot handle this anymore, not for another second. I NEED you to take these thoughts from me.”

There was one time that I’ll never forget when I did this. We had just finished with an AWFUL day, full of police officers and self-harm threats from our foster child. I was desperate for comfort, and I cried out to God. And I got an IMMEDIATE response. As soon as I was done praying, I felt a warm presence, starting at my head and going all the way down to my toes. And I heard God speak. I cannot explain it, but I heard words. Someone said, “I am pleased. You have pleased me. And I love you so much.” It makes me tear up just to write this, because I rarely want to talk about it, it’s so precious to me. I’d never heard God speak to me before, and that day I heard it.

Learning to open my heart and let God show me how valuable I am has been the most important way in which this traumatic last year has changed me. I know God is there. I know my family is there. I know my friends are there. If I can stay fully aware of how much these people love me, I don’t need to harden my heart in order to protect it.

Love protects. Not the absence of love. This, I have learned.

Internet Privacy

I absolutely LOVED this short article on Momastery today about internet privacy. It’s insane and incredibly discouraging how little the teens of this generation understand about the internet. For all of their technology smarts, teens (I’ve worked with them for the past 7 years), are incredibly dumb when it comes to Facebook, blogs, etc.

My boss at my old school in Ft. Worth used to say that young people have NO idea what it is to have a public image and maintain it. They don’t put two and two together to realize that if they post skanky photos on the internet, SOMEONE is going to find them, someday. Even if you “deleted” it, someone else may have saved it. Many employers seek out a person’s Facebook, first and foremost, before deciding to hire. They won’t just stop at your profile either– they’ll investigate who your friends are too! For this reason, one guy I know went through his contacts and deleted everyone who didn’t help promote the image that he was dependable. A friend likes to party and has pictures to prove it? DELETE. A friend posts mild profanity on their wall? DELETE. In his short 22 years, he had already learned the hard way, and wasn’t going to risk another job.

Sadly, I don’t even think it’s just teens. There are people I went to high school with who are CONSTANTLY posting pictures of themselves, scantily clad at Halloween or various parties. My first thought is always, how are you comfortable with former teachers (who you are friends with on FB) and future employers seeing that? Don’t you realize you are embarrassing yourself?

And teens who post their cell numbers on Facebook? Don’t get me started.

Anyways. Rant of the day.

Momiform

Most days, it’s tough to find 30 minutes to myself. That’s why I have a few things that I call the “Momiform”.

Essentials of the Momiform:

Easy to pull on t-shirt

Stretchy Jeans for bending, running and picking up toys from everywhere

Flats– never heels unless you want to break yourself in many places

Hair– Up high, 5 minutes or less to do, nothing that the kids can pull on.

Momiform Blog 3

Momiform Blog 4

Momiform Blog 7

Momiform Blog 5

Jesse, please make me some rice mac and cheese? PWEEESE????

Momiform Blog 2

 

Oh, come on, every mom has this face! Has else can you get the kids husband to do what you want?