Monday, July 25, 2011

our first camping trip.

the Stafford Family Camping Trip 
first and maybe last...or maybe just go when all the kids are older! 
Grayson spent the day and half that we camped covered in dirt and LOVED it!  
The scenery was BEAUTIFUL, the WEATHER was PERFECT, and the time spent with family was PRICELESS!  














our camping trip.. it was an experience with four toddlers.. three vehicles packed full with camping gear.... fun memories were shared.. a long hike to a fishing hole for the men to fish at.. a surprise throw of a sippy cup into the river.. a brave uncle jumping into the freezing cold river to fetch the cup.. a little birthday celebration for sweet marley.. roasting marshmellows.. making smores.. sitting by the fire and at last sleeping kids in their tents. memories were made with all of us together!


are we happy campers??? 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy 14 Months

Another month has past and Grayson you are 14 Months Old! 
Actually today you are 14 months and 6 days old...
It amazes me how much you have changed from month to month.  You are more independent and it is show fun to watch you try to do new things.  Such as feed yourself or drink from a big boy cup all on your own. 
You also have grown to LOVE watching Finding Nemo.  It is your FAVORITE movie.  You also have a book called Ducky Loves Rainy Days that you LOVE to read.  In fact this is the ONLY book you want to read. 
We are still drinking our morning and evening milk from a bottle.  But at school you only drink from a sippy cup.  We will get there I thought it would be easy to do, but it is so HARD to give up the bottle. 
You eat VERY well and all the food you eat is table food.  In fact for several months you have only eaten table food.  You LOVE blueberries! 

We are in LOVE with WATER!  If you see water you want to get in it!  In fact you love playing in Bella's water bowl all the time!  I caught you drinking out of the water bowl like Bella just a few days ago and I do try to keep it up, but sometimes you are so quick.  Your new tricks in the bathtub is laying on your belly and blowing bubbles.  It is so cute to see you do this.  I always say Good Job and clap and than you do it again. 
You are still difficult to change your diaper and dress.  You will not sit still for anything.  I try giving you different things to play with, but instead you would rather run off and play. 
When we get home for the day you always go to our room and get Bella it is so cute.  You love going to see her each day. 
We have also been working on getting you to walk to your room for naps and bedtime so you know where your room is and where you go to sleep.  We hold hands and walk together and I love it!
You have become a snugly little boy over the past month.  You will sit in my lap and watch cartoons or a movie in the morning and after naps.  It is one of my favorite moments. 

You love to play peek-a-boo
You love for me to chase you
You know how to say moo for COW
You can say Bella, Mama, Dada, Ball, Ouch, and everything is Da and you point at everything you want. 
Mommy has been singing several songs to you such as
Old McDonald
Bumble Bee Song
Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
This Little Piggy
Wheels on the Bus
and when I sing the above songs you mimic and try to do the hand motions or make noises too.  The Wheels on the Bus is your favorite song!
You are such a STRONG walker and have started running.  You are so fast!  You are all over our house. 

You are wearing size 12-18 months in clothes this includes pajamas
You are wearing size 4 diaper
You wear size 4 shoes
You weigh 20 pounds 5 ounces
Grayson we love you very much and you bring joy to our hearts every day.  I sit and watch you play and I love how your mind and heart is so free.  You look at your toys with a new adventure each day.  Just recently you have discovered your BIG truck that is filled with Mega Blocks and you will dump out the blocks and try to sit on the dump truck and push yourself around the house.  It is also so amazing to me to see you play with water.  You are NOT afraid at all!  You love taking the water hose and pouring it over your head.  You live life with a free spirit and I love watching your face and eyes light up. 
Happy 14 Months to our handsome boy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Coker Family {FINAL Working Mommy Post}

The Coker Family and their Working Mom:
Making it Work for Them
 
I am super excited to be guest blogging today! I do not usually do things like this, so it has been super fun.
 
Because this working mom has written most of this post at a conference without her computer with her pictures on it, please check out our blog for more about us: cokerfamilyupdates.blogspot.com
 
Learning to balance work with being the kind of mother I want to be is perhaps my greatest struggle. Not to mention being the child of Christ, wife, daughter and friend I also hope that I am…
 
A little about myself and my family…I am the mother of soon-to-be 5. I have 3 sons – ages 12, 10 and 6. My two oldest sons are my step-sons. I then have 2 daughters – One just turned 4 and the other will make her debut in the Coker clan this September.
 
I am a middle school administrator, and I am currently also going to graduate school full-time with intent to finish this dissertation and graduate with this stinkin’ doctorate degree this spring.
 
My husband is a coach. In the past he has coached at the collegiate and varsity level; however, because of the time coaching, specifically Texas football, takes away from family, we have made the decision that while our children are young it is best for him to remain at the middle school level. Thus, he is a middle school athletic coordinator, coach and teacher…at MY SCHOOL! (It does NOT get any better than working together!)
 
My husband and I also met at the school where we both worked. Our love story is somewhat humorous, but it is important to know that I despised him for quite some time before we actually started dating. I gave him a chance because of the way he talked about his time with his sons (then 1 and 3)…He is an amazing daddy! And, less than 6 months after we started dating, we were married.
That was in 2003. Next week we will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary.
 
So, it is summer now in the Coker house (all two weeks of it that I have this year), so these weeks have been filled with visiting relatives, heading to the beach, soakin’ up time at the lake…These weeks are VERY, VERY different from our days that will come in mid-August when we ALL head back to school and fall back into our typical routines.

 
During the few weeks we have of summer, either my husband or myself is able to be at home with the kids. Our summer days are glimpses of how it would be if one of us did not work – library visits, trips to the pick vegetables, art projects, etc. Now, every summer one (or BOTH) of us has also been in graduate school, so we always have papers to write, data to be evaluated and research to be conducted, but we have gotten good at whipping out a couple of pages of writing while the kids are manipulating playdough or running through the sprinkler in the yard.
 
But our typical day for 10ish months of the year…
 
Hubby and I are up by 5. Football practice starts at 6:15 a.m. (it is still HOT in the fall in Texas)! We have breakfasts to make, dinner to set out, lunch situations to sort, matching socks to locate, backpacks to review one last time…We work as a team until hubby leaves around 5:45.
 
Then I am on my own to ensure we are all out the door and to school on time.
 
As he leaves, we are also waking up the crew. We must have the boys at the bus-stop by 6:45, so in the hour we make beds, eat breakfast, get dressed, and attend to our morning chores (taking out the trash, feeding the dogs and cat, loading the breakfast dishes in the washer, etc.).
 
6:45 - I am pushing them out the door. The bus stops two houses from our house, so while they wait for the bus, I load the car and buckle the girl. Sometimes I am finished before the bus arrives, so I sit in the car and wait at the end of the street until the boys are safely on the bus while I put on my make-up.
 
Then it is a mad rush to drop of the little one at her school and to be at my school (across town) before 7:30 (when I am to be on duty to greet the over 1000 students in at my school). I usually pull into the parking lot of work in the nick of time!
 
The work of a middle school administrator is crazy in an of itself, but it is worthwhile work... Specifically, I am the Dean of Instruction on our campus, so I spend a great amount of my day in teachers classrooms, coaching teachers on improving instruction, evaluating student data to provide student interventions and improve instruction, meeting with teachers, meeting with parents, conducting staff development…My days at school look completely different from one day to the next. There is rarely downtime. I often do not have time to even eat lunch! However, I LOVE my job.
 
Our school dismissed about 3:40, but I am not “off duty” until the last bus pulls away around 4:15. Then, most days (with the exception of Fridays), I am in meetings until 5:15ish.
 
Then it is a mad rush to pick-up all of the kids to begin our evening activities…
 
Now, lest we forget that we have 4 children (soon 5), and they ALL play sports and/or participate in fine arts - soccer, football, gymnastics, dance, choir, church youth group, and baseball will make-up or fall.
 
Oh, and did you forget that I have a coach for a husband? To say our evenings are CRAZY would be a tragic understatement of the situation! They are literally a scheduling NIGHTMARE!
 
This past spring our Thursdays were our crazy days of the week. Hubby had basketball games, so he was out of the mix…It was all me. I would bust out of work…pick up the girl 1st and then run to pick up the boys. We would ensure that we had everything packed – uniforms, gear, snacks - for the evening in the car when we left in the morning because 2 of them had soccer practice in 2 different places, one of the boys had baseball and our daughter had dance! Wild nights! They would ALL change in the car. I would drop one at soccer. Drive to dance. Drop her at dance (I had a friend who would watch her until I got back). Drop off the other soccer player at practice. Go back to pick-up the dancer. Head to the baseball game. Drop off the baseball player at his game. Pick up both boys from their soccer practices and then head back to the baseball fields to finish out the evening activities. We would literally step foot in the house until WELL after 8 sometimes and we still had dinner, homework, baths and nighttime routines….Crazy right?
 
Evenings like these are ridiculous. While many of ours are pretty darn crazy, they are usually not THAT crazy. Typically my husband and I can manage to divide and conquer our evening schedules. For example, one of us might be at gymnastics while the other one is at soccer, etc.
 
Being a mom of 5 hard. Being a working mom of 5 is really hard.
 
Below are 10 things we do in our house to make it just a little easier:
1. Daycare and after-school care that you love
We love our daycare and afterschool care. We HAVE been in situations before when we did not feel comfortable with where we were leaving our children for the day, and there is NO worse situation. I love and hate that I often negotiate with my children about picking them up LATER from their daycare/afterschool programs. It kind-of hurts my heart/my pride when they tell me to please let them stay longer so they can do ___ (fill in the blank with almost any cool activity), but I am also filled with great comfort each time as well. We do not go with the most expensive places in town. We do not care if they learning more or less than other kids in other programs. We simply delight in the fact that the workers in these places love and care about my children and that my children want to be there…
2. Help from family and friends (and carpools)
We are fortunate to live close to lots of family (grandparents, aunts, uncles), and we are blessed to have absolutely amazing friends. These people love, care and support our kids probably as much as we do, and while I would never want to take advantage of them, I also never feel guilty for turning to them when my husband and I cannot do it on our own. I feel blessed that my children have amazing relationships with these people…they need those relationships, and I cherish the time that they spend with them when I cannot be there.
3. Morning/evening routines and chores
There are certain things that we do EVERY morning and EVERY evening. To maintain some sort of order in our house we must have some very set routines. Fro example, each child has a chore every morning…They make up their bed (to the best of their ability) and do one other thing (like take out the trash, feed the dog or feed the cat). Likewise, there are routines we do every night: start/fold a load of laundry, pack lunches, go through backpacks from school, etc. The kids also have set getting ready for bed routines: We have a timer for the shower, a place to hang each kids’ towel, reading and prayer rituals, etc. While we sometimes fluctuate on the time (between 8:30 and 9:30), we are set on the routines and never stray from them.
4. Eating dinner together
Yes, our evenings are wild. Yes, we are strapped for time most nights. Yes, this is sometimes a source of stress for me; however, we believe it is CRITICALLY important for us to sit down each and every night we can (there have been times when it is physically impossible) to eat together. There are evenings this means that I have to make sure something is in the crockpot before we leave so that it will be ready to eat at 5:15 before or evening events…Other times it means that we will be stopping at a local taco place…Sometimes it means that we will “fend for ourselves,” but we ALWAYS sit at the table together. We ALWAYS turn off electronic devices (phones, television, etc.). And, we ALWAYS give thanks to the Lord for our food before we eat.
5. Good communication
I am really lucky to work in the same school building with my husband. We have been told 1000 times that I am nutty for liking it, but we REALLY do! We see each other occasionally during our work days, but honestly, I could go a week in a school as big as ours and never see him if I never made a point to do such! Thus, we have had to establish systems to make sure that we communicate effectively. Now, the eating dinner together each night is probably our #1 communication time…with us and our children, but we also text and email regularly. We copy each other on all emails and texts concerning the kids, and we maintain an online calendar that the both of has (and our families) have access.
6. Utilize work time
I work in a profession where it is not easy not to bring things home. I do not know that I will ever forget about my “school kids” when I am at home, but work hard when I am at work to ensure that I am not doing many/any “work” things when I am at home. A big thing in my world is my graduate school…This is not something I can do when I am at work, but it is not something I want my kids to sacrifice for either. So, my compromise – make sure I work on it when I can sneak it in! This means I will drop one off at soccer practice and instead of sitting in chairs on the sidelines with the other moms that I sit near my car on my computer. When I am watching the little ones in the bathtub – I have my computer. When I am waiting for a PTO meeting to start – I have my computer. I know this is probably not the most awesome thing I do, but it is what I have tot do to make all things fit.
7. Find joy in the small things
Many moons ago my beloved grandmother told me that I needed to start appreciating the small things in my life. She then told me that each day she forces herself to write down 5 things for which she is thankful in a journal. I will admit, I do not have time for a journal and would be horrible at keeping up with it; however, as a part of our prayers with our children (that both my husband and I do together), we brainstorm 5 things for which we are thankful each day with each of them. This forces us to find joy in the small things. The five things for which my daughter was thankful tonight: that we found a shoe that she thought was missing, that her middle brother played mommy and daddy with her, that daddy let her have cheese in her spaghetti at dinner, that there was a frog in the front flowerbed and that she watched Angelina Ballerina two times! How could this list not bring a smile to your face, and how could the sharing of this list not force me to be thankful as well. My top of my list tonight: the happy hour Route 44 Sonic iced tea! It is the simple things!
8. Cannot do it all
It is simple as that…you CANNOT do it all. Yes, I am in the PTO at school. No, I cannot make all of the meetings or be the committee leader. Yes, I serve on committees at church. No I do not make every meeting. Yes, I wish that we could make every single soccer practice or dance rehearsal. No, we cannot…and I have come to accept that this is okay. I will do my best to do these things, but when push comes to shove, I have to make decisions and accept the fact that I cannot do it all. It used to bother me when we would miss a meeting or a practice, but I have come to accept it now. I do what I can. I give my best, and that is all I have.
9. Priorities
Along the same lines as the statements above, we have also learned to have priorities. We make decisions all of the time about what is more important to us, and then once we make the decision, we stick with it. Example: Being sure that one of the boys is at baseball practice or the family being at the other son’s baseball game. Well, the entire family will be supporting the one at the baseball game. The game is more important to us. Example #2: Out of town soccer game vs. church…Our family chooses church. These are our priorities, and we stick to them. Do we always make the right decisions? No. However, we make them for reasons we believe to be right and in the best interest of our children…
10. Sundays
Again, this goes along with our priorities. They are sacred to us. There are 2 big things we do EVERY Sunday – to the Grocery store after church/lunch and sit down to review our weekly plan/calendar. Sundays are our sacred time – DON’T TOUCH our Sundays. They are not to be touched for any reason other than our family. They are OUR time to worship, and they are OUR time to be a family. Period. I do not care if there is a special soccer tournament. I do not care if you need me to meet with you one last time before that project is due. I do not care if there is a giant party…Unless we believe that these things will focused on the betterment of our family, we will not be participating.

All in all, being a working mom is hard, but it is worth it…And with that, this working mom is off to bed. Tomorrow is sure to be a big day!

Thanks Taylor for sharing a piece of your life with us!  I was exhausted after reading about your life!  You are SUPER mommy! 
Best of luck with the new bundle of joy to arrive in September!  If you have any questions for Taylor please leave her a comment on her blog by clicking here!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

frame a day 2011

I am really trying to catch up on photo books for Grayson this is one that is up to date.  It is the frame a day project that I started January 1st, 2011 and I have taken a picture each day.  I decided after seeing the book my sister made for her frame a day that I needed one too!  I really like how it is turning out.  Next year I hope to be better and documenting each photo in one sentence so I can remember what Grayson was doing in each picture. 
I created this book in Mixbook

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

*warning it is long*

If you haven't done the frame of a day project or the 365 day project you should give it a try I love seeing how much Grayson has changed just over 200 days. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Difference in a Year

happy wednesday!
just a few words...
I have wanted to do this for sometime, but I keep forgetting...
not today!
It is amazing what a difference a year makes!
Same sweet boy just growing up!
I wonder what next year will bring for us??? 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Things he LOVES

A BIG thank you to EVERYONE for your SWEET words over the past week that the Mommy Posts were up!  They were all WONDERFUL!  I appreciate all the moms that did participate and a BIG THANK YOU HUG!  I plan on doing this again later down the road maybe at the beginning of 2012.  So stay tuned...

Since I didn't get a chance to blog about Grayson over the past several days I thought that I would do a series of pictures that state what Grayson LOVES!





I am hoping to have Grayson's 14 month post up tomorrow, but that is if I can get pictures of him tonight.  We will see!  I can't believe we are already celebrating 14 months! 

another idea:
I was wondering if anyone else has trouble coming up with dinner recipes each night?  Or do you seem to cook the same thing each night?  My thought was doing a blog link up where we can all share OUR GO TO DINNER RECIPE...you know the recipe that you always make that everyone in your house will eat.  Maybe each one of us can get a new recipe to try. 
If you think this would be FUN let me know and if I get enough responses we will give it a go! 

have a great night!  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wallace Family {Working Mommy Post}

The Wallace Family

Thanks to Melissa for hosting this wonderful working mommies series. I'm always up for new ideas to help our home run a little smoother.

My name is Amber and my blog is The Wallace Family. I am mom to Morgan (13 mo.-May 28, 2010) and wife to Chad. Chad and I have been married for eight years. We live in the deep south- Mississippi to be exact.

I am a working mother (well, for nine months of the year) I am a high school business teacher and love my job! Not only do I help shape the future of our community, our state and our nation, I get the summers off as well as Spring Break, Thanksgiving week, and two weeks off at Christmas/New Years.

My husband happens to work in the same district but works in the district office. He gets the same holidays, but he has to work during the summer. It happens to be his busiest time of year. In fact, the last month has been crazy in his world. Our district is very family friendly and realizes that sometimes having a family takes you away from work. It is a great feeling to be able to take off when Morgan is sick and not feel guilty about it.

This upcoming year will be my fifth year of teaching. This year my teaching schedule includes teaching Digital Video, Digital Photography, and Web Design- a fun schedule! I get the privilege of teaching the kids that want to take my class instead of the kids that have to take my class. I try to have fun with the kids but also teach them the concepts of say, photography. There’s more to it than just snapping a picture, and when a teenage girl figures that out - watch out!

While we are at work, Morgan attends a parochial school that has a infant/toddler daycare. Once she is two years old, she is transitioned to a more traditional school format, but right now, she’s just hanging out with other kids in a daycare setting. She does get to enjoy story time, music time, nap time and gets to play outside. We are very fortunate because the school has a long waiting list - we actually got a call the Thursday before she was supposed to start on Monday that there was an opening. Of course, we jumped on that opportunity.

We have been nothing but happy with them and when your little girl wants to hug on her teacher a little longer it makes you realize that you made the right decision for her to stay. She moved up to the next room in June and she has only been a few times since Ive been at home. Her new teachers are wonderful and she has a little smaller room which will be nice.

We still struggle sometimes to make things run as perfectly as I would like but it has gotten much easier the longer we have had Morgan. Our biggest thing is to have each other and to help out with the daily chores (laundry, dishes, straightening up). We try to straighten up each night before going to bed. Usually I do laundry, cooking, and some straightening up. Chad does the dishes, straightening up, and all the outside stuff.

Meal planning is probably one of the biggest things that I am still struggling with I just haven’t found a perfect system yet. I just joined Pinterest (the most addicting site ever!) and I am trying to move all my recipes over and actually organize those into categories. I think hopefully this will help to plan some. We were going to try out E-Mealz but just haven't done it. Maybe one day I can do meal planning well. For meals usually I try to do plan 3-5 meals a week. Sometimes we just eat quick meals, but I try real hard to cook at least 3 meals but again it doesn't always happen that way. My parents usually cook for us 2-3 times a month which is nice because we always have leftovers. We always have church on Sunday night so usually we don't have to plan for that unless we have community group at our house. I saw this post on Meal Planning and it gave me a few ideas hopefully to help out.

Being a working parent I have learned that things will not always work out the way you want. Some days I plan on cooking a meal and we both have rough days and its out to eat we go. We try not to eat out much especially now that Morgan is so much more difficult to take out being so mobile. Having a spotless house doesn’t happen everyday but we try to keep it presentable.

Our schedules are always synced up at all times with our iPhone. I can always know what Chad has going on and vice versa. Its one thing that I definitely love and don't know how we ever did without it! With both of us working in technology for our jobs it keeps us up to speed.

Our Schedule come next month

5:30-6:00: I get up start getting ready for the day

6:15-Chad gets up to get ready

6:30-6:40: Morgan gets up

6:50: I head out the door and Chad’s in charge of Morgan

7:00-7:10: Chad leaves to take Morgan to daycare

Morgan eats breakfast and lunch at daycare. This is provided in the price we pay for daycare.

7:20-7:30-I arrive at school (traffic is usually terrible and it takes anywhere from 30-40 minutes)

7:30: Chad gets to work

8:00-School starts for the day

I get 90 minutes each day to do planning for school which usually is enough time to get things done. I try to really utilize this time to grade things and plan so I don't have to do it at night. Our district just gave teachers who went through the class a brand new Mac Book Pro so if I do have to bring home anything this will definitely help.

3:15-3:30: I get off and head to pick up Morgan unless we have a faculty meeting.

4:00-4:15: pick up Morgan and head home

4:05-4:20: Home sweet home

4:30-5:00-Morgan usually takes a little cat nap (30 min) when we get home because she is worn out from daycare. I usually play with her if she doesn't want to take a nap or just relax for a few minutes until Chad gets home.

4:30-Chad gets off work

4:50-5:00-Chad gets home

5:00-5:30-cook dinner (Chad plays with Morgan)

5:30-6:00-eat dinner, talk about our day

6:00-7:30-play with Morgan

7:30-take a walk (this is always a nice time to talk about our days and just enjoy some family time-Morgan loves to go on a walk. Its our little bit of fitness even though I know its not much)

8:00-start getting ready for bed (bathtime, read book/s, etc)

8:30-watch Little Einsteins and rock (Ive always done this)

9:00-out

9:00-10:00-we do devotional (love Tabletalk), relax, read blogs, straighten up, etc.

9:45-10:00-in bed

 

I'm still learning each and everyday about working outside the home and still balance life. Feel free to email me at chadandamberwallace@me.com or leave me a comment on my blog at The Wallace Family.












Sunday, July 17, 2011

Take My Hand {Working Mommy Post}

Take My Hand

Hi! My name is Stephanie from Take My Hand and I am the mother to my beautiful daughter Evy Lynn and wife to my wonderful and supportive hubby, Chad. I am so excited to be joining these other working moms as part of this amazing Working Mom series Melissa is hosting.

I have to begin by saying how humbled I am that God has blessed our life in regards to my job and care for our daughter. As I read about other working moms and think about friends I have that are working moms, I am in awe that God knew my heart when it came to the perfect job and childcare situation for our family and has met our needs all along. I am the Director of a small, Christian adoption agency outside of Dallas. This job has allowed me to live a flexible life, working at home when I need to, leaving the office early or coming in late, and even having weeks off at a time. The pay is not great but the fact that I pretty much have my own schedule makes up for the lack in pay.

Being a mom was not something I always dreamed of and so being a working mom versus stay at home mom was never something I thought about…until I was preparing to go on maternity leave. While I was pregnant people kept asking me if I was returning to work or staying at home. Unfortunately our financial state is not where I can stay at home. But, my heart also wasn’t in being a full time stay at home mom. I love my job and feel God called me into adoption ministry. I couldn’t just abandon this calling, nor did I feel God was telling me to do so. Chad and I spent many nights praying about what to do with Evy once I returned to work. I had a wonderful boss who told me I could bring Evy to work with me at the beginning, especially while I was nursing. Well, this was difficult, but I did take Evy with me a couple of days each week. And, my boss allowed me to only work 2-3 days at the beginning, until I learned to balance work and a child. I was fortunate that my mom would come to our house and keep Evy while I went to the office. Then I only took Evy with me one day and worked at home 1-2 days each week. This worked great for a while…until Evy began being more alert and awake and needing to be on a consistent schedule. And, I needed more time in the office to focus on getting work done. There were days I’d be so frustrated because I would take Evy to the office, try to manage nursing her, getting her to sleep {we were still rocking her to sleep}, and being quiet while she slept, that I wasn’t able to get any work done.

I had a mommy friend from our small group at that time offer to keep Evy 2 days a week. This worked well for a while and she eventually was taking Evy 3 days a week, I would take Evy to the office 1 day a week, and work at home on Friday. When Evy was almost a year old my friend was at a place where she could no longer watch Evy and I really needed someone to watch her 4 days a week. Chad and I prayed and began our search for a nanny. God has truly blessed us by providing us a wonderful nanny. She comes to our home 4 days a week with her young son and keeps Evy from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. This has worked great for me!

Evy and I wake up about 7:00 am {sometimes earlier} and we have snuggle time while Evy drinks her milk bottle. Then I turn on Evy’s favorite show “Yo Gabba Gabba” and she watches two episodes of this while I get ready for work. I bathe in the evenings so my getting ready time in the morning is much shorter now. When our nanny arrives Evy knows it’s play time and is off to her play room. I get home between 4:30-5:00 most days and Evy is usually waking up from her afternoon nap. I feed Evy while I make Chad and I dinner. Chad usually gets home around 6:00 and we eat then have play time with Evy. At 7:30 Chad give Evy a bath, feeds her a snack, and I give Evy her bottle and put her to bed. Then I usually bathe, relax some, watch a show or movie with Chad, do a little work, or work on cleaning the house until I go to bed. I am still working at home on Fridays and this continues to work great. I do whatever work is needed to be done while Evy naps so when she is awake 100% of my attention is on her.

Having a nanny in our home, and sacrificing other things so we can afford this, is totally worth it. And, having a nanny come to our home is one of the many things I do that helps make my life easier. Now, my job is not always a 9-5 job and I do have to work weekends and evenings at time. My hubby or another family member will take Evy during that time and it breaks my heart when I miss that time with her. Chad and I take full advantage of our time with Evy when we have her in the evenings and on weekends. This is so important to us and Evy is always in such a fun mood when both of us are spending time with her.

Being a working mom is hard for me. I struggle with guilt almost daily when I think about missing time with Evy while I’m at the office. While I know God wants me to continue this ministry, I miss out on so much with her. I can’t take Evy on play dates during the week. I can’t go to MOPs. I miss certain things that Evy does during the day. But I am blessed that my job is willing to be so flexible with me. And, I am able to find peace in knowing this is how God desires my life to be right now.

What I struggle with the most in balancing time with Evy, time with Chad, time devoted to work, cleaning house, and time devoted to church is that I don’t spend enough time in the Word. I know having daily devotions would help my life and give me more balance and clarity. I really struggle with making this a priority and will continue to work on this. It is important for me that Evy not only know her parents are Christians but to see us be that example to her. I know that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that I am able to make it each day as a working mom!

Melissa, thank you for allowing me to share my life as a working mom on your blog! It has been a pleasure following your family over the past couple of years.

Thanks Stephanie it is a true blessing to have you share your story with me and all that are reading!  You have a sweet family!  Thank you for all your HONEST words.  If you have any questions for Stephanie please stop by her blog and leave her a comment. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Uszenski Family {Working Mommy Post}


Hello everyone from Stafford Stories! My name is Karen and I am super excited to be participating in Melissa's working mom series.

My blog is called the Uszenski Family I have had my blog for almost 5 years now, but I have never been much of a blogger. I have only a few followers and other than my family and a few friends, I am not even sure who checks my blog regularly! My posts are more like a scrapbook of my life. I love having it, so I can look back and remember things (my kid's milestones, births, weddings, etc). I have been blog stalking for about 2 years now and I would love to get into blogging. It seems to create an awesome network of people and I would love to be a part of that!

I am a 32 old, wife, mother of 2, teacher, beach loving, reader, and an avid Yankee fan. This August, I will be married for 7 years. My husband, Scott, and I went to high school together, but we were just friends. After I graduated from college and moved back home, we reconnected and the rest is history. I have a 5 year old daughter, Maya, and a 2 year old son, Matthew. I am fortunate that all of our family is close and we love it.

This September, I will be starting my 11th year of teaching special education. I live where I work, I work where I live, which is a neighborhood school, so I frequently see students! Staying home was never really an option for us. Teachers in New York make good money and I needed to work. I absolutely love my job and I think being a teacher is probably the perfect job for a working mom. I work 8:30 to 3:30, weekends, holidays, snow days, and two months in the summer off. What could be better?!?!

Probably the hardest part of being a working mom is spending quality time with my kids. My husband works rotating shifts - half the month, I feel like a single mom because we barely see him. The kids are used to it, but we treasure our daddy days. On days that Scott is working, I try to take the first 30 minutes or so when we get home, to spend it with my kids. They spend all day with an awesome babysitter, but they need their mommy. This may include reading, cuddling on the couch, or playing outside. After that, I jump into work mode and cook dinner, clean up, laundry, etc. I found this spring a bit challenging because my daughter had dance and t-ball. When Scott was working, I sometimes felt like a chicken without a head trying to get everyone done and out the door on time. Bath/shower time is usually around 7:00. My kids go to bed between 8:30 and 9:00, which to some may be late, but it works for us. When my husband works nights, I make sure everything is done by 9 because I need some me time to recoup from the day and relax. Although I am with my kids everyday from about 4 to bed time everyday, I don't always feel like I get enough time to do stuff with them. I am fortunate for the weekends because I get to spend time with them.

On days that my husband is off, my kids still go to the sitter. I think it is good for them to maintain their routine, but those evenings are often different because the kids get to spend much needed quality time with their daddy. I still need to do the house stuff, but I don't feel as much pressure because I have my husband with the kids, so they aren't feeling neglected :).

This fall, my working status will change slightly because at school, I will now play two roles - teacher and mommy! Maya will be starting kindergarten in the same school I work at. We have been having many talks about she is very lucky to have mommy there, but they are only going to call me in an emergency, etc. She is super excited.

My typical day starts around 6:15 when my alarm goes off. On a good day, I would wake up and do the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, but often, I hit snooze a few times. I then shower and eat breakfast before the kids wake up. When they wake up, they usually have a glass of milk and watch TV while waking up slowly. I finish getting ready, get them dressed and I am out the door. My sitter feeds them breakfast - SCORE (but this will change in September when I have to feed Maya before we leave). I drop them off at the sitters around 8 and head to school. I leave work around 3:45 and we are all home around 4:00. We then do some sort of fun activity for about an hour. Around 5, I start dinner, dishes, laundry, wipe down counters, vacuum, or whatever needs to be done. I thrive on multi-tasking. My kids will be coloring or working on puzzles at this time. We eat dinner and I always clean up as soon as we are done. A sink full of dishes stresses me out! We play some more, take baths, and then play some more. Bed time consists of bathroom, teeth, and a book. I tuck them in and they are out. It is now usually around 9:00 and I finish up anything I might need to do (laundry, bills, cleaning) and then I relax for the night with the TV on and the computer on my lap. I usually head to bed between 10:30 and 11:00.

Some things that I do to make it work in my house...

1) Multi task - Thankfully, I love this and it enables me to get a lot done at once.

2) Plan your meals - this way there are no quick stops at the grocery store or any missing ingredients

3) Make sure your kids have good independent play skills. From early on, I would allow my kids as babies to "play" without me or my husband right there. This could be reading books, coloring, puzzles, legos, or cars. They are engaged doing something while I am getting stuff done.

4) Do grown-up stuff occasionally. Girls nights, dates nights, out with some friends are a necessary part of being a grown-up.

5) Make time for your significant other. It keeps the relationship healthy.

Being a working mom is certainly not easy and you definitely need to do what works for you. Routine is important to being a successful mom.

Thank you so much for reading all about my life. Feel free to stop over at my blog, become a follower, comment, or whatever you have time for :)!

~ Karen

Thanks Karen for sharing tips, your day, and a piece of your life with all of us! 

Maynard Moment {Working Mommy Post}


Good morning everyone! I am Jennifer from The Maynard Moment. I have a little girl who is 5 and a little boy who is 16 months old and like the others I am a working mommy. It was always (and still is) in our dreams for me to be a stay at home mom. There is nothing I like more than to be in my home with my kiddos. Many people think that working moms are selfish and they look down on us, but this is what my family needs right now to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. This is in God’s plan for me right now and I am just going with it, realizing that I have been blessed with a job when so many others are out of work. I know that when He wants me home full-time then He will allow the way, and until then I am going to do the best that I can in the work He has given me.

1. How do you fit quality time in with husband and kids?
My priority when I am home is spending time with my family. We have a lot of outside playtime eating popsicles and blowing bubbles in the evenings. I try and make those times really, really fun since we don’t get to do a lot together. Also, the weekends we usually try and do stuff together just so that we are making memories.

After the kids are in bed, then that is when my husband and I get to spend time together. I try and have everything done around the house when I put the kids to bed. We also are blessed that my parents pick up the kids from daycare one evening a week and we get to have a date night. We are very, very lucky that we get to do that, plus it gives my kids some much needed time with Mimi and Pop!

2. How do you get quality time with God?
This is something that I struggle with all the time. I try and get up earlier than the kids to take a shower and get ready for the day. Usually I will take my shower and then do my quiet time before I do anything else. I have found that if I start getting ready more than just the shower for the day, then I get distracted and never go back and sit with my Bible. There are some mornings when the kids wake up early and everything gets thrown off, but for the most part it works.

3. How do you get quality time with friends?
Again, this is something that just stinks about being a working mom. We don’t get to go on play dates and go to have lunch with friends. Sure I have those few ladies in the office, but we get a set amount of time for lunch, so we can’t just sit and talk. It is really, really hard to get to do things with other mommies when most everything is planned for during the day at churches and MOPS. I try to get together with several girls every couple of months for a girl’s night out, so I get my fix there. So anyone want to have a girl’s night out in the Houston area? 

4. How do you get all of the things done in the house?
A lot of what happens in the house is because of organization. If my mom had not instilled that in me, I don’t know how my household would function. For mealtimes, I make a menu every week and do the grocery shopping each Saturday morning. Usually I try and make things that are quick and easy, or I do crock pot meals so it is ready when we get home. This usually works, though sometimes we just eat frozen pizza if it has been a bad day! HA!

Also, I try really hard to do all the laundry and cleaning on the weekends. We have “stay home” days some Saturdays and I just catch up on the cleaning, though laundry is done every week. Kind of makes me think of Full House where the dad always did laundry on Mondays, but it is what works for our house right now so I try and get it all completed from Friday evening-Sunday.

My motto right now in life is from the poem by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton and I actually have it at the top of my blog. It says “The cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow. But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs, Dust go to sleep! I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

So, that’s my life as a working mommy. It is not glamorous and there are days that I just want to sit and cry because I want to be at home soooo badly. But this is the plan that God has given me right now and I need to rejoice in that.

Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and prayerful always. Romans 12:12

Thanks Jennifer for taking the time to share a little piece of your life with us.  I LOVE LOVE the quote on your blog header!  It is adorable!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Team Tristan {Working Mommy Post}


I'm so excited about the opportunity to blog about working moms. Melissa, thank you so much for making this happen. This is a subject I am passionate about. It's also a subject that doesn't have a chapter in our employee handbooks. Wouldn't it be great if there were a handbook for working moms and stay at home moms? I know both are very tough to navigate. (I had 3 months off for maternity leave and I will say most days at home were tougher than my mornings at work.)

My name is Natalie. I'm wife to a really great guy, Frank. Momma to a 1 year old, red head, Hays. And I work in TV News.


My day starts at 2:30am. Yes, 2:30 in the morning. I am a meteorologist for a mornings news show. I love my job. It gives me the best of both worlds. I'm a full-time employee... and pretty much a full time mom.

Exhausting? I can't even begin to tell you....

Here's what our day looks like:

2:30am- I wake up, get my stuff together, kiss my husband good-bye and say a prayer outside my son's door.

3:00am- Arrive to work (in my pajamas), read over emails, and get ready for the days show. Most mornings I apply two separate under eye concealers. HD is a curse =)

My day is full of a 2 hour show, 2 hours worth of cut-ins, and 2 hours worth of meetings and catching up on stories or emails.

BY 11am- I'm home ready to start my favorite part of the day.

I catch up all of the morning info from Hays' babysitter. He may be awake or he may be a sleep when I get home. I never know.

We eat lunch, play a little bit, and head to the gym. Some afternoon's I have appearances or school visits, and if I do. Hays usually is with me.

4:00pm-We cook dinner and eat early. Spend family time with dad. And I start getting ready for bed around 5pm.

7:00pm- I'm snuggling with my boys about to wipe out for the night.

I've been a working momma for 10 months. I am no expert, but, here's what works for us.

1. Set priorities. Hays has a set bedtime @ 7:30pm. Most nights we don't deviate. This allows for me to put Hays to sleep by myself in case my husband isn't able. Nap time isn't something I can micromanage so I let it go.

2. Ask for help. My husband is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. We have a partnership. He does laundry, cleans the floors, feeds our son dinner, gives him baths, and puts him to sleep. I'm not the only one in charge of the household chores and I couldn't be more thankful to my husband.

3. Learn to say NO! Before baby I would do just about any event I was asked to do. Now, if it's not baby friendly or something I am passionate about, I pass. My family is my priority and I want them to know that. Time with my husband is few and far between. During football season, time together is non-existent. We've had to take a break from church small groups or other volunteering positions because our time as a family is so valuable.

4. Find a babysitter/nanny/childcare you trust. We are blessed to have a babysitter come to our home. It puts our minds at ease that our son is in an environment that he knows and he can stay in his PJ's for as long as he wants. If you like the sound of that, do your research. You may be surprised to find that an in-home nanny might be more cost effective than a daycare. (It is for us!) Our nanny has a baby 9 months older than Hays. It's great for the socialization aspect.

5. Find ways to make your life easier. I've stared freezing meals. If I make lasagna, I freeze half for a meal later. Some evenings this is a lifesaver! When Hays was starting to eat baby food I was ambitious and made it all. For me, my time is too precious to spend all of it in the kitchen. Now, we buy it.

6. Pray. Alot. At times you’ll be overwhelmed. Or you might feel guilty. Knowing the Lord has it under control when I don’t sets my mind and heart at ease.

With my job I am under contract. When I was pregnant it wasn't an option for me to stay home. In a year my contract is up. We've started to pray and talk about the next step for our family. My husband and I both know I probably wouldn't be an effective full-time at home momma. BUT, my desire is to be home more. (Or not be exhausted when I am there) At this point of my life I know I'm called to be where I am. When I have hard, stressful, or long days I remember that this is only a season and it too shall pass.

AND… that this little man is SO worth it!
I'd love to hear your stories or comments on what works for your family. Leave a comment or stop by my little blog,

Natalie thank you so much for sharing your day with us!  You are a wonderful mommy!  Thanks for taking the time out of your busy full days to be apart of my series. 
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