Yes, 5 Kids On Purpose!

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My belly is large enough now that when I am out and about people will ask with a sweet smile “Is this your first?”  When I tell them this will be our fifth baby they always look so shocked and have to pick their jaw up off the ground.  I don’t know if the reaction is due to the fact that people say I look younger than I am or just because it is not as common to have a large family these days.   However, I cannot entirely blame them because I felt a little shell shocked myself the first few times I heard myself say the number out loud. 5 – truly a handful!

The next question is always “How do you do it?”  My answer is always the same, you just do it. Through tired eyes, piles of clothes and dirty dishes, you just do it, because these little people, this husband, this family we have created brings more joy and fun, than hard and messy. You let go a little more with each baby that comes along. You care a little less about the small stuff and a little more about the big stuff. We lean into eachother, my hubby and I, because not many people get “it”, this life we have chosen. People can’t understand why we would choose all the noise and the mess and the craziness.

I am one of 8, my husband is one of 5. We came from “spicy” families so this chaos is nothing new to us but there is also great comfort and joy in sibling relationships. These people that, whether you always got along or not, know where you come from and what life was like in a way that you can’t explain. They are there to share the burdens of sibling and parent dynamics and laugh and reminisce with. We wanted our kids to have siblings to talk to and giggle with when they are supposed to be going to sleep.  We wanted them to have someone to commiserate with about how uncool their poor parents are. Aside from that, we enjoy them! They make us laugh, they challenge us, and they are fun!

Parenting is also hard, the hardest thing I have ever done for sure! It is non stop, it is emotionally draining and it is physically exhausting. So, I think what people mean is “When it is all too much and you begin to wonder what you were thinking having all those kids, what do you do?”

I usually do one of the following:

1. Pull out the baby pics. Looking at that sweet innocent newborn compared to your rowdy big kid will remind you just how quickly time flies and how precious these childhood days really are.

2. Hide in the shower. There is not often a day that a long hot shower and maybe a good cry won’t fix.

3. Do something for myself. If you are overwhelmed, it is time to get out. Meet up with girlfriends, go shopping alone or do anything that you love that there is usually no time for. Sometimes this means just going to bed.  The day may have been a bust, but we get to start over tomorrow.

4. Remember the big picture. They will not always be in diapers, even if it may seem that way. They will not always make a mess of your house and when they are gone you will miss them and their mess.

5. Family fun day. Doing things together builds our relationships and lets us laugh together and recharge. Some of our favorites are a trip to a restaurant, picnic at the park, or making ice cream sundaes! (Yes, these all revolve around food. Know your family’s currency!) Non food trips might be going to the zoo, a walk in the woods or playing games together.

So for the record: Yes, We chose to have a big family! We love it! It is not easy! We do not have it all figured out! And yes, you can babysit anytime!

Doubt

Our bishop Glenn Kauffman spoke yesterday about doubting. He reminded us that our doubts do not disqualify us. I have been reading the book Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel recently and she also discusses doubting. When I am confronted with a certain topic or idea on multiple fronts I try to pay attention. This usually means that God is trying to teach me something.

Zempel says “Doubt can help us bond with God in a powerful way, so we must understand the difference between doubt and unbelief. While doubt compels us to run to God to debate, complain, argue, and question, unbelief causes us to abandon God.”

I have struggled to understand why we can pray and nothing seems to change. I have wrestled with seeing wonderful people get cancer and lose the fight. I have been so angry and fearful about what the violence and the anger that plagues our cities. I still do not have answers to any of these questions but I have also seen prayers answered, people healed and seen such kindness and generosity that gives me hope.  When I graduated from Bible College, I felt like I needed to push down those doubts and be confident and have all the answers that other people needed.  I don’t think that now. I think people are searching for vulnerability and transparency.  Not one of us can explain away all the hurt and pain in this world but we can be a shoulder to cry on and share the hope that we are given in God’s word.

Warren Wiersbe says “To avoid tough questions, or to settle for half-truths and superficial pat answers is to remain immature, but to face questions honestly and talk them through with the Lord is to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ”

If you are struggling with the circumstances in your life, wondering why it seems like nothing is going right or the good guy cant catch a break, tell God. Engage him, don’t walk away! Tell him you are sad, angry, and that you don’t understand. Ask the hard questions. Find a trusted pastor or christian friend who can walk through the questions with you, understanding that they may have no answers but can identify with being human and having fears and frustrations.

Embrace your faith filled doubt moment by moment.

I’m Baaack!

I started the year with a 21 day Facebook fast. I wanted to be less distracted, more present with my family and intentional with my time.

The time was very valuable and I feel like I accomplished my goals and that I have also been more at peace with where I am rather than comparing myself to others.

As I was writing my blog post about signing back on, I accidentally deleted it.  Then the second time i wrote it, only half saved and I lost all momentum and gave up.  With all the snow, a home renovation going on, and my sweet Joshua’s 7th birthday I have certainly kept busy this week.

However, I miss seeing all of my friends and family who are not local. So today I have the morning to myself and I am signing back on but with some new guidelines.  I have decided to keep the Facebook app off of my phone and only check in on the computer in the morning or evening(with the exception of traveling so that I can connect while away from home).  This will keep me from compulsively scrolling and wasting time throughout the day. It will be a bit of a pain to upload photos but I think it will be worth it.

Excited to catch up with everyone and see what I missed!

 

 

Out with the old, In with the new!

As this year comes to an end, my little ones are 2, 4, 6, and 8 and Caleb and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on Jan.1, 2016.

James is a big helper, loves to build things, work with his dad and read.
Joshua is a math whiz, loves fruit and vegetables, and tells great jokes.
Jesse is either moving non stop or snuggling and loves all things green.
Juliana loves taking care of her baby dolls and is completely potty trained.

Caleb and I work better together than we ever have. He is my partner, my teammate and my other half. Every year just gets more fun together!

I am super excited about 2016! This is going to be a big year!
We have been feeling for most of 2015 that God is up to something and we need to be preparing ourselves for what is coming. We have made and continue to make adjustments in our home and our jobs to be more organized and less stressed, to become debt free and to be more fully present in our own lives.

I have decided to start the year with a 21 day Facebook fast. I am planning to use the time that i would normally spend on Facebook in prayer, reading, and spending quality time with my family. I also hope to do more writing.

I wish each of you the very best in all that you set to accomplish this year!

Happy New Year!

The Precious Mundane

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My husband and I did the grocery shopping. Then we went home to put away all that we had bought. We began to clean and prepare for the week ahead. I threw a load of laundry in. We changed the kids into pajamas , brushed teeth and got them into bed.  After a couple rounds of “I need a hug!” and “I have to go potty,” I began to clean up the kitchen.

As I stood there over the dishes like I have done so many times before, I had this overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. Not because the day had consisted of anything spectacular but because I am humbled that we had the resources to buy a weeks worth of groceries, and even that we had a place to come home to. I am grateful that we can clothe and provide for our family. I feel so blessed that my children are busy and able bodied and run and slide so much that they wear holes in the knees of their jeans.

The tears rolled down my cheeks for the couple whose child is battling illness. For the single mom in a shelter who feels so alone. For the family that doesn’t have food on the table and is about to lose their home. My heart breaks for those who have lost their children or who have never been able to conceive.

Most days I just see the mess.

I am learning as time goes on and my babies turn into sturdy young men that my days with little ones are fleeting and are to be treasured.  I wish I could hang on to these moments, put them in a jar to save for later. I take as many pictures and videos as I can to try to hold on to their little laughs and the funny way they pronounce cinnamon.  But no matter what I do the days are passing and my babies are growing older.

Today I am thankful for the precious mundane! I will count my blessings, keep my tongue from complaint and find every opportunity to genuinely love and serve the hurting world around me.

Will you join me?

Where have you been?

“I used to enjoy your blog so much! What happened?”

I have gotten this question quite a few times lately. So0…..

The excuse is I have 4 kids and a full time job that brings even more little people into my home each day and there is just no time.

The truth is I like to sleep! I could get up earlier and write but my bed is so warm and really I don’t think that I could put together coherent thoughts before the sun is up. I could stay up late and write but the sitcom my husband is watching keeps catching my attention and my bed looks so inviting. 

What’s a girl to do? I chose sleep but I have recently made some adjustments that may allow me to sleep and write.

Stay tuned….. I have stuff to say about women, about the church and about the words that wrecked me.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the great dads out there!  Thank you for making the effort and being present! It makes a way bigger difference in your children than you may realize!  And now to my #1, my children’s daddy…

They thought you were my “rebound.” I knew you were more! I felt an instant connection when we met and you quickly became my best friend. I thought I loved you when we said our vows and drove down to Florida for our honeymoon.  I thought I loved you when we welcomed our first son into the world. I though for sure I couldn’t love you more when we had our second son but it was only a shadow of the bond that we have now. 

2 years of dating, 10 1/2 years of marriage and 4 kids later you are my other half in a way that I cannot even put into words!

You make every day brighter and funnier and I am thankful every single day that God interrupted my plans and brought you into my life! 

Thanks for encouraging me when I want to quit!

Thanks for bringing me treats to brighten my days!

Thanks for being our gourmet chef!

Thanks for rubbing my back when you had a hard day too!

Thanks for teaching our boys to love and respect! 

Thanks for treating Juliana and I like princesses!

Thanks for taking care of the trash and the repairs around the house!

Thanks for being my shoulder to cry on and my greatest support!

I could never list all the ways that you love our family and invest into our hearts.  I am so thankful for all that you do and the attitude that you do it with.  But most of all today, thank you for being an amazing daddy to our children!  I see so much of you in each of them and that makes me incredibly happy.  Thank you for investing your time and energy into them and teaching them.  

When it comes to the kids you are

the calm to my crazy

the fun to my seriousness 

The fresh produce to my canned veggies 

The plan to my ideas

And the music in our lives!

We love you more than we can express! Thank you today and everyday for being the best daddy and the greatest husband! We are so blessed to call you ours!

  

Longing for Paris

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I was recently selected to be on the launch team for Sarah Mae’s new book Longing For Paris!  I can’t walk to tell you all about it! What a great book!

But first let me tell you about how I met Sarah. She hosted an event in Pennsylvania called A Night To Breathe. Well if you know me or just know that I have 4 kids under 8 years old than you can imagine that I might need a night to breathe!  So there I was, excited to be at this event but feeling a little out of place waiting alone for the ballroom to open. The lobby was crowded but it looked like everyone had come with a group or at least a friend. Just as I was thinking of slinking away to sit somewhere and scroll through my phone, here comes Sarah right up to me.

She says “Hi I’m Sarah! Are you here by yourself?”

I say sheepishly  “uh, yea”

She gives me a big hug and says  “Well,  we don’t do alone here! Let me introduce you to some of my friends!

How sweet!  Thank you Sarah for being so warm and inviting!  I met several wonderful ladies and we had an amazing night of rest and encouragement.  I tell you that story to give you a glimpse of what you will find as you read Sarah Mae’s new book.

Longing For Paris is full of genuine down to earth encouragement for women to rise above the everyday slump that we all find ourselves in at one time or another and embrace all that we were created to be. Reading this book made me feel like I was having a girls night with my best friend.  Sarah shares her struggle to discover how God feels about women and our dreams and as she discusses the constant pull between self and sacrifice you will find yourself saying “me too!!!”  She says “I didn’t want to miss out on my life. I wanted to live wide awake.”

If you feel like your life is passing you by or you wonder if God even cares about your dreams this book is for you!  If you find yourself struggling in your role as a wife or a mom this book is for you! If you have longings and desires that you don’t know what to do with, read this book!

We were not meant to take this journey alone!  Get Longing for Paris and join with me in studying it and discovering our own personal balance between dream and reality, longing and sacrifice!  More details to come about our book study but you can head over to Sarah Mae’s website and preorder HERE

 

Kids, Vacation and A Tale of Bribery

My sister in law reminded me that it has been awhile since I have posted. So I am sitting on the floor of the office with my back against the door listening to my children try to find me.  I just need a minute! Don’t worry! They are not being totally neglected, their father is home.  However, they only want me!!! My two year old is yelling “MOMMY….MOM….MEL KAYE… I NEED YOU RIGHT NOW!!!!

——–break here for putting kids in pajamas and to bed ———

Anyway, that is one of the reasons I have not been writing.  Also, we went on vacation which was glorious and way too short, as vacations usually are.  My inlaws were along for the week which made our vacation feel more like a second honeymoon. I think we got at least a few minutes, if not a few hours, to ourselves every day!!!  We took walks, ate dinner out and went horseback riding. My mother in law cooked and cleaned and did laundry. And the kids were so happy to have Mimi and Hatme along!  I am telling you it was amazing!!! So then when we got home we had to go through detox, again no writing happening there.

Then, as our 2 year old is having lots of potty training success , our 3 year old decides he is not getting quite enough attention so perhaps peeing his pants will do the trick.  I was kind of stunned.  My older boys never reverted back like this so unsure of what else to do I dove right into the tried and true: bribery.  For each entire day or overnight that he remained dry I gave him a sticker. When he filled a chart with 10 stickers he got to choose a reward. I asked him what he would like to receive if he were to earn 10 stickers. His response was immediate –  Easter Egg Hunt!  Ok?!?

So here we are tonight celebrating bring potty trained AGAIN.


My final excuse for not writing is that I have been reading a ton! I have been following The Better Mom Book Club online and reading Keep it Shut for that. Then, I was chosen to be on the launch team for Sarah Mae’s new book Longing for Paris! (There will be much more to come about this book very soon!!!) Finally, my own personal book club with friends is reading another fantastic Sarah Mae book called Desperate. 

I promise it will not be soo long until I post again. I am excited to share all that I have been learning moment by moment

Mel


Our Homeschooling Journey

People ask me all the time “Why did you decide to homeschool?”  As I meet more and more homeschooling families I realize that there are so many reasons that people choose this path. I also see that many people make the decision for one reason and continue in it for another.  This was certainly the case for our family.

My boys and I just finished up our 3rd year of homeschooling!  Four years ago I could not have imagined that I would be saying that. Yes, I have a teaching degree but I went to a public school and imagined myself teaching in one.  My husband went to public and private schools.  We both enjoyed our school experiences. I always imagined my kids in a public school because I felt like they had a lot to offer and to be honest, I always thought homeschoolers were a little weird.

When my husband and I decided that we would embark on this journey of educating at home, it was based on our desire to protect our immature and busy 5 year old from having his little spirit crushed in a world that he wasn’t quite ready for.  I thought he needed more time.  We agreed that this was a choice that we would continue to revisit.  Taking our inventory each year, we would see how well it was working and how each child adapted to having mom for a teacher.  After year one of homeschooling a kindergartener and working part time and being pregnant with baby #4, I decided that something had to change.  Homeschooling wasn’t that thing! I was already hooked! I left my teaching job and began pursuing my daycare license so that I could be home full time.

We entered our second school year with a 1st grader, a kindergartener, a 20 month old, a 3 month old, and two daycare kiddos. I thought I might be crazy but we made it work.  In fact, it just seemed natural.  Learning together as a family is what its all about.  And so far, it seems to get easier with each child.  Little did I know kids listen to EVERYTHING! When I started to work on letter sounds with Joshua, I realized he already knew them all!  “Joshua, how do you know all of your letter sounds?” He replied “I heard you teach James.”

This past year, my boys were in 1st and 2nd grade, Jesse turned 3, Juliana was 1 and I now have 6 daycare kiddos.  I also began a new preschool curriculum with Jesse and our preschool age daycare friends.  Some days are messy but we are all learning a lot.

Here a few of my do’s and do not’s of homeschooling in no particular order

  • Homeschooling is NOT to be taken lightly. It is a huge commitment.
  • I believe 100% that it is NOT for everyone.
  • I am NOT angry with the public or private school system. I never put my kids in it.
  • I do NOT have an aversion to traditional schooling methods.  I think they work really well for some.
  • I am NOT afraid of the world. My kids are in Jesus’ hands wherever they go!
  • I DO want to be with my kids as much as I possibly can! They are growing so fast!
  • I DO love teaching!
  • I DO want my husband and I to be the primary influence and the loudest voice in their young lives.
  • I DO love the flexibility in our schedule and activities.
  • I DO love that we can spend all day on science when we come across something cool they found in the yard or they want to study more about the How It’s Made episode they just watched. Or they want to read in costume.

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I am enjoying every day of our homeschooling journey moment by moment!  

If you are considering homeschooling please feel free to contact me with any questions. I would love to chat!