Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I'm moving to Wordpress and Sock Monkey Tales is now The Accidental Domestic

Why such a big change???
That's a loaded question. I'm working on a blog post explaining the blog move and name change. For now though, please read over at am transferring all my old post over there as well, eventually:)
I've loved this little space called Sock Monkey Tales:)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Never Ending Summer

Andy I had a laugh the other day. It's late September, fall has officially made it's entrance and we feel like our summer activities have yet to come to an end. It's not that I want summer to keep going. It just keeps going.

We laughed because we are thinking of the fun, eventful summer and laughing at our sheer exhaustion. It's time to slow down; but........... all of our new fall/school activities just started up, all at the same time. We are still doing swim lessons. We are still recovering from Disneyland (Boo Hoo! Poor us, right?) and family visiting. (I miss my sister! I want her to come back!) Throw in trying to get back into our home school schedule and well, slowing down doesn't seem an option.

Here's the thing: Every time I think my week will finally be "normal", something "out of the normal" happens. Like spending much of my weekend trying to rid my pantry of moths, having to throw away most of the food in there and having what is left of my pantry on the kitchen counter until the coast is clear. While all of that was happening, Andy scratched his cornea and was out of commission for a few days.

Talk about out of the ordinary.

I hate to admit this. I must come to terms with this fundamental truth. There are no normal weeks. At least not for us.

So do I resign myself to running around like a chicken with my head cut off? Just letting each circumstance take me where it may?

Some days, yes. That's not how I want to live my life most days, though. So I want to really be intentional about trying to slow down this next month and smell the pumpkins. Even though I know it won't always be possible.

So, I'll start now by getting off the computer, checking a few things off my to-do list (just a few), and then sitting down and spending some quality time with the hubs.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Hello, Mr. Discontent. So, We Meet Again"::The Unwanted Visitor

So, last week I sat down at the computer to write and browsed through some rough drafts I had. I read this post below and realized I had never published it on my blog as I had intended to. 

How fitting. The past few weeks have been a little hard. We had to put our dog of 12  years to sleep 3 weeks ago. I had been crying daily prior to "the day" and for days afterward. Then this happened, then that. You know how it goes. Your heart gets just a little tired and it's the perfect situation for ol' Mr. Discontent to coming sneaking in the back door. 

Reading my own words, oddly enough, encouraged me and convicted me when I really needed to be encouraged and convicted. I know it's not me; it's God. I think it's kinda cool how he works things out. 

Here's my forgotten post from several months ago...........

And so it happens again and right around the same time, too.

"What's that?" you ask.

Oh, this feeling I get. This unhappy tug on my heart. It starts so slowly that it just sneaks up on me. It was right around lunch. I was warming up pasta, rinsing off strawberries, calling the kids to lunch. They were hungry and happy to eat.

"Dee, Dee!!! Lunch ready!!!" Henry mimicks  me.

I glance at my to-do list. Nothing had been checked off.

Though, I reminded myself, that I had taken a shower, done my hair, put on make-up even!!!, spent time with Andy before he went to work at 10:30 (weird shift right now), put away laundry, made my bed, and started a load of laundry.

Oh, and I home schooled. I rock, right?

But as I look at the sink full of dishes I chide myself, "Why can't I ever get that darn dishwasher empty before lunch? Then my sink wouldn't pile up with dirty dishes."

As I put the plates full of yummy food in front of my happy children, I feel the twinge of a headache behind my eye. Not again! Another headache? Really?

I sit down with my kids, in my warm house (which is pretty clean considering the time of day), eating a delicious lunch (tuna salad on toast- one of my faves), with two ridiculously cute kids smiling at me and I feel......... discontent.

I look at that word...... discontent. Such an ugly word. So unnecessary when I have so much. How can I be this? Discontent.

We had had such a good morning. It had gone much smoother, actually, than the previous two. I slept in a little but still managed to get a shower before the kids got up. We spent extra time cuddling on the couch watching cartoons. This meant school did not start on time; but Henry was so snuggly and actually sat curled up on my lap for a long time. I have to take these moments when I can. This kid never stops moving. Lily was wrapped up in a blanket next to me. I loved every minute.

School had gone well, Henry actually did our morning calendar time with us without being a total disruption. He even sat and colored at the table while Lily did schoolwork.

Besides my ever growing list of things to do, the day had been great. So why this feeling? Why this sigh of defeat in my heart?

My mind wanders, especially when all I have to talk to is a 5 and 2 year old. And Satan totally uses my mind to get me in tough spaces. When my mind wanders during my day of what often seems mundane tasks, unloading the dishwasher, folding clothes, warming up lunch, feeding the dog, changing a diaper, he's right there to put doubting thoughts in mind.

Like, "Am I just going to do dishes and laundry every day for the next 16 years??"

"How many plastic princess plates can I rinse in a day before my brain explodes?"

"Is our life too boring? Maybe I should have the kids signed up for more activities."

"Jen, you've been home for two days now. And besides a hair appointment for Henry tomorrow, your schedule is wide open. You should be more involved in things, have more commitments, have more friends."

And then there's FOMO. Do you know what that means? I didn't until recently. Someone posted that on my Facebook wall in response to something I had written. I had no idea what it meant. I had to google it.

FOMO is Fear of Missing Out.

In the two minutes it took me to warm up two plates of leftover pasta my mind had wandered to a million different places of discontent.

There was surely all sort of friends out there doing fun things without me. Having lunch dates, play dates, going shopping, enjoying themselves, taking their kids to fun classes. Surely not what I'm doing, changing poopy diapers and washing the pink princess plate for the umpteenth time.

Everyone else's life must be more interesting and fun than mine.

Then within the very same moments my heart floods with guilt. I should be happy to stay home with my two favorite people. Why am I counting down the hours until naptime? A good mom wouldn't do that.

In the time it takes me to place the plates in front of my little free spirits, my blond headed babies, I feel beaten, discouraged. But why?

I stop and feel like slapping myself in the face. Snap out of it!! And I do. I choose to ignore the pile of dishes in my sink, the laundry waiting to fold, the things that must be done today and I choose to enjoy my lunch with my children. I choose to read them a story on the couch before nap and snuggle just a little bit more. I am happy in this moment. I am loved. I love.

Then I sit to write and sort out this thought that is tangled in my mind, this feeling that creeps in like a slithering snake, where it has no business being. This...discontent. I'm quite sick of his company. I haven't been entertaining him as much lately in my life; but he still manages to come over, uninvited of course.

I stop to reread the words I've written. It's almost like I flung them out on the page, just spewed them out there. Is this how I really feel about my life?

The truth is, I don't. I love my life. I may not love every minute of every day. I could do without a poopy diaper, a bad attitude or load of laundry from time to time. But honestly, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

There was a time when my life was so busy, too busy. I loved my job, my students, my coworkers; but really, I just wanted to be home with my baby. I prayed for 3 years until God said yes. I was so happy to stay home.

And while life with a 2 and 5 year old can hardly be called boring, there are times when it's..... well, boring. I mean, come on. There's only so many times I can watch the Thomas the Tank Engine or Littlest Pet Shop. No matter how many times I wash and fold the clothes, Andy is always asking, "Have you washed any whites?!? I need socks!" I can never keep up, let alone get ahead.

I totally get that this is a season in my life. I'm truly striving to enjoy "this time". I know that in a blink of an eye, the plastic plates and toddler forks will be no more.

I know that I'm going to feel couped up and stir crazy from time to to time, especially since my free time is greatly restricted by homeschooling and naptime.

I am okay with this. I choose this. I'm thankful for the opportunity to home school and I'm thankful to have a little boy who still takes naps!(Can I get an "Amen" on that one?)

What I'm not okay with is feeling like my life is lacking. I don't want to just be okay with life I want to truly enjoy life.

When I list all the things that are good about my life, all the ways God has blessed me. The list vastly overshadows the things I think "should" be different or better. How did my awesome day turn sour so quickly?

I've been challenged lately, through the Word and through the writings of some wonderful authors. I think God has brought them into my life to reveal and convict, to encourage and inspire. Why am I discontent (at the moment)? I am discontent because I choose to be. I choose to focus on the bad even though the good surrounds me. Instead of a habit of gratefulness, I've grown accustomed to wanting things to be different or better. But why?

My life, my children, my husband, my career, my ministry, my relationships.... they are mine. Given to me by God.

 There is no better, because He gives me the best.

The chalkboard on my kitchen wall says, "Today, I Choose Joy." I think I will interchange Joy with Contentment and Gratitude. These things go hand in hand. I've begun reading 1.000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I haven't gotten very far in the book but I've begun keeping my list of gifts. Things I am grateful for. I'm trying to actively watch the world around me. My small world with the thousand toys strewn across the living room floor, the the dog underfoot and the unmade bed. My small world is mine with the belly laughs, good night kisses and a movie on the couch with the hubs when the kids are finally in bed.

I'm hoping and praying that the more I practice this habit of gratefulness, the less I will see of Mr. Discontent. I hope he will not feel so welcome as to come creeping back into my heart as he once did.

I've been challenged in a few areas of my life. First, when I have those days that are quiet and uneventful, when kids are napping and I'm alone, I should use the quiet to pray. I can pray for so many, my husband, my children, family or friends who are struggling, our country, our leaders. I can pray for me, for my wandering heart and my restless spirit. I can pray for God to reveal himself to me in the tiny moments of my day.

Second, when I'm feeling lonely I can do something about it. I can pick up the phone or ask a friend over for coffee. I don't do this as much as I should. While spending time with friends and family is obviously very important, I know that connecting with Christ is the most important. If I'm not doing that, I will feel empty no how matter what I do or who I'm with.

Most importantly I can choose to stew in the pot of discontent or I can choose a different path.

I've been tossing around some changes I think need to happen in my life for weeks now. I keep coming back to two words BE INTENTIONAL!

Whether it is in a slew of busy days or quiet ones, disappointments or blessings, Be Intentional. Enjoy the days as they come. Find the good, the sweet, the delightful in my small realm, every day. Then intentionally give thanks for those things. Be truly grateful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Day of First Grade and Boo Boo School

We started school last week. I have a First Grader!!! I also have a 3 year old who wants to do everything that Lily and I do. So we ventured into our second year of home schooling and my attempts and Pre- School. Or as we called it, Boo Boo School.

On a side note, Henry is now starting to call Lily "Wily". He hasn't been calling her Dee Dee nearly as often. I'm a little sad. If you ask him what his name is, though, he will always say, "I'm Boo Boo."

Our first week of school was a little different this year. We started on a Thursday, which I know is such a weird day to start. I had to squeeze in a couple of extra days because we are going on a trip soon and we will miss a whole week of school. Not only did we start at the end of the week; but we had visitors with us. Our friends Bekah and Hannah joined us, while their mom had to go on a trip. It was kind of fun to actually have a little class to do school with. Lily and Henry had some friends to play with as well.

Because we had guests and it was the first two days of school we didn't jump into all the subjects. (We tried that Monday.) We did some fun beginning of the year activities, had a scavenger hunt for school supplies, made puffy paint and ended the week with a trip for ice cream.

Here's our first two days of school with friends.

Our Annual First Day of School Pancake Breakfast with hot chocolate, whipped cream and sprinkles.

Yup, that's more like it!

Our friends got to join us. Hannah is going into Kindergarten and Bekah into 2nd. I had Kindergarten, First and Second!

 Henry got his "school box" with crayons, truck erasers, Lightning McQueen stickers,  and a spiderman flashlight pen. Thank you Dollar Store! Those erasers kept him busy for quite awhile.
 Doesn't she look so studious???

 Each kiddo got their first day of school snack with their grade on it.

 Henry with his buddy Hannah.

They loved their special snacks.
And of course, the official first day photo shoot.

 Love this girl.
Here's to a great year! Praying for a lot of learning and lot of special memories.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Just One Day At A Time

Excuse my background, by the way. I'm fiddling around with things and trying to change some things up. I don't have it the way I want it yet, at all.

I sit to write.

I look around at the desk in our livingroom. I see all the things surrounding my computer. 3x5 cards, empty ice tea cup, a chapter book I was reading to Lil, cereal bowl (with milk still in it), an overflowing in box, sticky notes, a recipe box with no recipe cards inside, pens, 2 opened packages of floss (what??? why in the world??), Nyquill, a first math book, elmer's glue, a fraying Santa Rosa Activities Guide magazine that is currently being used as a mouse pad and the sticky wand to a bottle of bubbles.

My unorganized, chaotic desk actually mirrors the last month and a half of life in Casa de Bauer. In other words, my summer break so far. I knew the first month of summer would be a little busy. But this summer has me sitting back, taking a deep breath and saying, "Can I start vacation now, please?" Just yesterday, Andy finally put the suitcases back in the garage.

After 2 back to back camping trips for the family, I packed Lily and I up for a 10 day trip to Colorado. My niece was getting married in the beautiful Rockies. I literally spent two weeks doing laundry, folding clothes and immediately packing them back into the suitcases. Phew!!

The trip was fun. It was a great time with family I don't get to see often; but it was a long time to be away from home and the other half of my little family.

The next week was Henry's 3rd birthday and birthday party. The day of his birthday, we left for Family Camp for 5 days. Family Camp was amazing!! (It's actually my favorite part of our whole year.) It did produce 3 things, though: More laundry, Lily contracting pink eye and the FLU.

Now hold on to your britches, because this is where things get interesting. For the next week the stomach flu systematically attacked each member of our family, ending with me (who happened to get it the worse!). My poor sweet Henry threw up every 15 minutes for 3 hours in the middle of the night! My awesome mother- in- law went to Kaiser in the middle of the night to pick up anti-nauseau medicine for him because Andy was at work and I desperately needed help!

I did more laundry than I care to recall that night.

A day after I emerged from flu hell, we were off to Tiburon for a rehearsal dinner for another wedding, Andy's cousin. We had barely put down the barf bucket and we were headed into a weekend of fun (but exhausting) family celebrating. (The flu did not keep me from hitting the dance floor!)

The day I was sick, Andy lovingly decided to build me new shelves above our washer and dryer. Long story short: drilled a hole through a wire, no more outlet, fridge had no power. There is now a hole in the garage wall above the shelf, a hole in the kitchen wall, and all our food is in our fridge in the garage.

Yesterday, our washing machine decided to stop working right after I loaded half our towels into it and it filled up with water. Towels in water, just sitting there.

Today we took our 12 year old dog, Jackson, to the vet. He's been sick and I knew he wouldn't be here this time next year. I thought he had months, though. Our vet said it was more likes weeks.

I cried all day. I'm still crying.

I just found out one of our dear friends received some really, really devastating news . My heart is breaking for my friend.

What's going to happen next? What will tomorrow bring?

And since my last few weeks have taken me for a ride and I just can't seem to stop, I didn't do any of the things on my to-do list today. I fed my kids dinner in the shopping cart while I shopped for groceries at 5:30 at night (on a Friday! crazy!). I ate half a box of chocolate covered macadamias for dinner and washed it down with a Pepsi. That basket of laundry which has been sneering at me for the last 4 days will be left untouched for another day.

Sometimes, you have to take it one day at a time, even one hour at a time. You have to throw your plans out the window and say, "We'll just try this again tomorrow."

I've been memorizing these verses this month: I Corinthians 12:9-10  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness......For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Lord, I am tired. Just plain tired. And sad. My summer started off so great and those memories and moments are still precious to me. Things lately have been hard. I will take your words and  hold them tight. They will not be hollow words to me; but Truth. Lord, I am weak; but you are all the strength I need. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I'll Take It!

It's not always lovey dovey like this around our house. I'll take it when I can get it, though.

Last Day Of Kindergarten! We Did It!!

We started the year here.

We ended the year here.
 This is what we did on the last day of Kindergarten:
Read the last story in our Reader.
 Played Sum Swamp.
 Lily wrote her summer bucket list. I believe number 4 was "Go to England".
She's a First Grader!

 Henry doing "school" in his underwear. Hey, why not?

We had a great year!

I began this year second guessing our decision to home school about every other day minute. I end the year, still doing it; but not nearly as often. (And usually it's been when Andy has worked many days in a row and I'm going stir crazy!)

The truth is, I've loved being home with Lily and teaching her. I don't regret one single moment. Which is why we are going for round 2. Do I still sometimes wish I could send her to "real" school? Yes. Am I willing to actually do it? No. And I think that is what surprised me the most. I had spent years gearing up for this day, never even thinking there would be a possibility of not sending her off to school. When it came down to it, though, I didn't really want that.

Here were my surprises for my first year of home schooling, good and bad. I'm going to be completely honest.

Surprise #1: Teaching her to read. Being a first - third grade teacher for most of my teaching career, I've taught my fair share of kids to read. I wasn't intimidated to teach Lily to read, as I know many home schooling moms are. I was just not prepared for the pure awesomeness of watching my own child go from simply knowing the sounds of letters to reading the graduation note her grandma wrote to her. It's amazing. I got to see this neat progression unfold daily. I got to see each little click of her brain as she sounded out words and laughed at stories. That was a pure treasure for me. 

Surprise #2: The Ultimate Free Spirit. My daughter is a free spirit. While for her age, I think she did great at sitting down and getting her work done, she is not the workbook, stay focused type. This really shouldn't have surprised me. I guess this year just showed me how much of a free spirit she is. She would much rather be sewing leaves into dresses for her fairy dolls outside or dancing in a tutu and cowboy hat than practicing her handwriting. Do you blame her?

Surprise #3: Homeschooling with a Toddler. Before I type this next sentence let me premise this with how much I love and adore my son. He is 100% boy and then some. I love that about him. But....... It's ridiculously hard very challenging to home school with a two year old boy. Do you have one? With just a smidgen more energy and stubborness than most? Then you know what I'm saying. If you have no clue what that's like, just trust me. It can be exhausting. I just wasn't expecting it to be as hard as it was. I basically had to start doing preschool with him because he needed to be engaged and he needed structure. We also started potty training, so that was a bonus. Just being honest.

Surprise #4: I don't have as much patience as I thought I did:)

Surprise #5: Home schooling means sacrificing, a lot. I am so impressed with moms I've come to know and respect who have home schooled their kids all the way through high school. Now, that is running the race! I'll be honest, as promised, I did not have much respect for the decision to home school. It's not that I didn't respect the person. Some of my dearest friends home schooled. I just thought they should be sending their kids to school where kids are supposed to go. I'm ashamed of that now. The moms I know work so hard each day with their kids, to teach them, not just academics; but character and a love for God. There are no breaks when you home school. There is no end to the day, where you get to go home and send your students back to their parents. Home schooling is not for sissies!! (Do I still love traditional school? Yes, yes, yes! Teacher rock!! They have a hard job in other ways and the ones I know are so very dedicated and loving. Just had to put that in there.) My respect for those who home school diligently has grown greatly. I get it now.

Surprise #6: Home Schooling in PJs. I did school in my pajamas way more than I thought I would. Looking back on it, it was kind of silly to be so against that at the beginning. Why not? Pajama pants are so comfy.

Here are a few tips for newbies now that I have a year under my belt. This list is short because I am definitely not a pro.

Tip #1: Make It Your Own.  It's not like traditional school. Don't try to replicate school. This is just my personal opinion. And I'm actually only half agreeing with myself. I'm sure I make it more "schooly" than most. Lily and I like it that way.  It's most definitely not like the classroom, though. I had a tough time with this at first. Also, it won't look just like your friend's home school. So, as hard as it is not to compare, don't go down that road. Make it your own and do what works for your family.

Tip #2  Read aloud to your kids a lot. I'm rectifying that next year.

Tip # 3 If a schedule isn't working, don't stick to it just because. Have a schedule for sure; but sometimes schedules need to change with life changes (or nap schedules). My husband has just about the craziest, ever changing schedule, so we had to be more flexible.

Tip #4: If you have little ones, meet their needs first. I didn't learn this until the end of the year and I think I would have been less frustrated if I'd done this earlier on. Like I mentioned earlier, home schooling with a toddler can be very chanllenging. I needed to plan for it and plan on being interrupted. I'm learning to engage Henry more in our activities, have more things for him to do, and spend more time with him while I home school. I'm actually really enjoying doing preschool activities with him, teaching him his letters and colors.

So, there you have it. A journey I never thought I'd take, a journey that's just beginning, and a journey that I'm excited about.

Can't believe I have a first grader!