Saturday, October 16, 2010

Animal Safari

While in Alabama a couple months ago visiting my bestest Amy and her family, we spent several days on various adventures around the area- the Montgomery Museum (FYI- it's closed on Mondays- best to find that out before spending over half an hour trying to locate it with Amy's awesome GPS skills), the Atlanta Aquarium (the largest in the world, and definitely worth the elbow-to-elbow traffic inside) and, most interesting of them all, the animal safari. If sweltering heat and giraffe slobber is your thing, than be sure not to miss this adventure the next time you head south. A big word of advice though- if you plan to not eat at the pizza place indoors, than I would suggest that you not picnic outside with the flies and ants swarming nearby. Your children may end up with more protein in their diet then you had anticipated.

The safari really was amazing, and I only got a smidge cranky once or twice due to the 100 degree heat mixed with the wafting aroma of animal feces. Here are some great pics of the adventure.

I know it's been artfully camoflauged, but if you look carefully enough, you'll see the van that we rode in for the animal safari. 

Eager little guys.

I bet this shot turned out beautifully.

The zebras were seriously gorgeous- if they didn't have such big teeth and excessive slobber, I would have tried to touch one.

Our children didn't know it, but the real reason behind this trip was so that Amy and Stephen could place a down payment on the dowry for our girls.

I'm sorry Amy- I'm sure this isn't your most favorite picture, but I would like to point out how happy and excited I am to be on this great adventure, and yet you yourself are not smiling. Perhaps your memory of my own grumpiness is a tiny bit off. I myself can't wait to return- though maybe in a month colder than August. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Up and Down

I've been asked several times why I have not blogged in so long, and I'm finally back to explain my absence. It isn't because I became tired of writing, but because I wasn't ready to discuss a recent change in my life. While I don't feel it is a bad change, it is one that has required lots of prayer and reflection on what is best for my family. A few months ago, while working as an adjunct faculty member (teaching one hour a week- no typo: I said one hour) I was approached by the program with a full- time, tenure -track job opportunity. I immediately knew that a full time job outside the home was not an option for me, and let the college know that if they could consider making it part time, that I may be interested. To make a very long story short,  after several phone calls, meetings, negotiating, and praying, the full time position was tailored down to a part time position, and I accepted the job. I was elated- the schedule was flexible, and I would still be able to be active in my girls' elementary school and preschool. Assuming the job would turn into a career, Bill and I would not have to pay for college for our four children (tuition there is free for employees' dependents). Also, while Bill makes a salary allowing me to make the choice to stay home, having an extra income would allow us to pay off the mortgage at a very accelerated rate, which has always been a big wish of ours.

**Before I go further- I want to explicitly say that you will not find anyone less judgemental than me when it comes to "working" mom versus SAHM. I have been on both sides of the fence, and know that there can be overwhelming feeling of judgement from others- no matter what you choose. SAHMs can be made to feel that they "just stay home". (I hate that question, by the way. Don't ever ask a woman, "Do you work or just stay home?") Staying home full time raising children is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, and can be satisfying in and of itself. On the other hand, working moms can feel the condemnation from some SAHMs and other nosy adults. No one should take it upon themselves to imply to a mother that she is wrong in her choice. Wow, I'm rambling, aren't I...Here's my point- the following paragraphs are my own life story, and I do not judge what other mothers do.**

For the first two weeks with my new job, I couldn't stop smiling. I was home the majoirity of the time with my children and picking my girls up from school every day, yet was still getting out in the professional setting, using my degree, sitting at my desk in my own office, and feeling fulfilled in another area of my life. Then, after the honeymoon period wore off, I started wondering if I had made the right choice. It wasn't because I felt my children were suffering (my mom was taking care of them when I was away) but more to do with the fact that my title was gone. I could no longer say, "I'm a stay at home mom." That was more painful than I could ever imagine. Staying home with my children was such a gift- one that I had prayed for even before having children. I loved the fact that I got to be the primary person in my children's life, day in and day out. That isn't to say it wasn't exhausting. Some mornings I felt overwhelmed and burned out by the fact that I had the responsibility to not only take care of the children, but also the house and everything that comes with it- that the job never ends from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. When I first became a full time SAHM while pregnant with Isaac, I secretly struggled with this for several months. Working professionally as a PA, I was consistently commended for my work, and told what a good job I was doing. Suddenly leaving a job outside the home, I missed the affirmation more than ever. When you spend your days wiping noses and folding laundry, your baby isn't going to pat you on the back and say, "Job well done, Mom. That shirt was folded perfectly. And those dishes- wow, spotless."

These conflicting feelings made me wonder if I could ever let myself be content. When I was working, I wanted to stay home. Then I made the choice to stay home, yet consistently checked the want ads for PAs. Now that I was working again...I considered and almost quit twice in the past few weeks, because I was so unsure if I made the right decision. In this whole process, I prayed that if it was meant to be, that all the doors would open, and if not, that the door would slam shut. All the doors, and even windows, opened for me through this whole process. A career that has never been even considered part time in the past, was made so, and every single concern of mine was addressed and taken care of by the college. So to think that God would lay the plan out as such, with Bill and I both in prayer over the situation, I was so confused as to why the doors would open if it wasn't to be so. I will say this- with the exception of one horrible week where everything that could go wrong did, I have absolutely loved this new job, and have become a better mother for it in so many ways. I appreciate my time home with my children more than ever, am more "present" as they say, and still have that little piece of me that is my own apart from my role as mother and wife. I am so very blessed to have this choice to make, and remind myself of that every day.

A very sweet story before I end this post. Our son Isaac has some speech delay (he's not autistic in any way, but simply stubborn), and is working with a therapist. Three words he can say very clearly, and repeats often, is "up and down". When we ask him what he wants to pray for or what song he wants to sing, he says "up and down". Yesterday, while Lydia was napping and the girls were at school, I turned on Sesame Street. It isn't one of the shows he usually watches, and I'm not sure why I even turned it on, except to say that God must have been leading my hand on the remote. The subject of the show: Up and Down. For an entire 35 minutes, Isaac excitedly watched as Elmo talked about up and down, and sang up and down songs. I was floored at first, and then excited that our Lord had answered my little boy's nightly prayer for Up and Down. Thank you Lord Jesus, for using a little puppet named Elmo to make my precious boy's wish come true.