Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Corporate Life to Full Time Mommy Wife

About six weeks ago I left the corporate work life and became a full time stay at home wife and mom... AKA "Domestic Engineer" as I've heard some women call it, trading pens and paperwork for sidewalk chalk and cement.  As bad as it sounds, it wasn't exactly an easy decision to make. I had worked since I was fifteen years old, and never really had the cry-when-I-left-for-work desire to be a stay at home mom. The job I had was a dream and the pay not so shabby. My kids were lucky enough to stay with their grandma for several years while Marc and I were at work, but the time had come where she needed to take care of her own family, as she should. Schedules were soon bound to become more hectic as Liam ventures into kindergarten and Ainsley into pre-school, so instead of leaving them in two separate daycare's for 12+ hours a workday, they're now stuck with me!

Writing this, I can't believe it's been six weeks - it feels like six days! I half expect to have to wake up at 5AM for my corporate job any day, kind of like how you feel at the end of vacation, except this is no vacation - ha! I can honestly say that I have found so much fulfillment in my new full-time "job," much more than I anticipated. It hasn't been free of the occasional Mommy and/or Kid Meltdown, but the good days outweigh the bad by a long shot. I do think it would be easier to start as a SAHM from the beginning, because we're all trying to figure out new routines and new normals, but overall, we're figuring it out and having a pretty good time while doing it.

Some of my favorite things about being home are:

  • Waking up with my family. On work days, I used to wake up at 5:15 AM and leave the house by 6:15 AM. I never got to see Marc or the kids on those mornings. Now, I get to wake up next to the love of my life every single day. Sometimes we have a few moments to ourselves, other times we sleep in and wake up to the sounds of pitter patter soon followed by pleas to eat "breafasth" and read "bookths." Seeing and spending quality time with my husband and kids every morning is by far my favorite thing, and I don't see that ever changing.
  • Being home when Marc gets home. Marc used to get off before me, would pick the kids up and then get home and start dinner plans just as I was walking in the door in the evening. We would both then rush to get out of our work clothes, finish dinner, eat, get the kids bathed, play for a little bit, and then put them to bed. Hardly quality time - and those were evenings nothing was planned (like mid-week church service or events). Now, for the most part, Marc doesn't have to worry about any of that and when he gets home, it's pure quality time.
  • Being here for the kids. Living far away from family is tough. It's tough because close family is kind of obligated to be there for you. When you don't have that, it's like a huge hole that no other humans can fill. Celebrating events like first days of school, school plays, Christmas and Easter programs, and any other life accomplishments... they just have us physically here. Even little things like when they're sick, I will always be here for them without the stress of Marc or me having to take days off from work and/or finding someone to watch them. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be here for them and support them as much as I possibly can no matter how monumental or minute the reason.
  • More time and opportunity for things that fill me up spiritually and physically. I love that I have time each morning and throughout the day to read my bible and/or devotion without feeling rushed. Work should never ever become an excuse to forgo prayer/relationship and devotion, but for me, it was a MASSIVE stumbling block in my priorities, and I paid the price for it - trust me. Even if I had to return to the corporate work force, I'll never again allow my priorities get out of whack... but for the time being, I'm beyond grateful for the time I have been given to devote to that part of my walk. My physical and mental self is also welcoming the break from sitting behind a desk each day and more routine yoga and exercise. Growing stronger and healthier in all areas of my life is something I hope to forever pursue.
  • NAPS. Sometimes Mommy's need time-outs too, and other times that Netflix series cliffhanger forces us to watch "just one more episode" at 1AM earns me a good nap. I don't often take naps, but there are some days that I am so glad I am able to. 

Some of the unexpected things I've experienced are:

  • I still despise grocery shopping. I'm just not good at it at all! Marc, being the great guy he is, still offers to do it for me, but I refuse to let him. It's part of my "job" now, and I'll get better at it, right? Please tell me it wont always take me 4 hours! Oh, and the bill! Being home for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks... we obviously all eat a lot more at home - so the grocery bill is crazy different. But we hardly, if ever, eat out anymore.
  • How truly terrible I am at ironing. Kind of like with the grocery shopping... Marc has always done the ironing. Even ironing my work clothes in the past because I was so terrible at it. Growing up, all of our stuff went to the cleaners - so it wasn't often we ironed. Marc on the other hand, went to seminary... so he ironed dress clothes daily. I had taken a batch of Marc's dress shirts and pants to the cleaners a few weeks ago, and of course, they did a great job - but that can be a big budget item when he works 5-6 days a week, you know? So, figuring that could be a part of my "job," I googled how to iron dress shirts and watched three different how-to videos. Yes, seriously. Laugh all you want, I know it's lame. Anyway, after an hour I had successfully ironed three... yes, only three... shirts. I can only get better and faster, right? I am actually quite proud of those shirts, no matter how embarrassing it may be! :)
  • Potty training the second is not as easy as the first. Maybe because there is just another kid around that needs attention and also distracts the one potty training... but I think we finally... FINALLY have it down. My Ains baby no longer wears diapers - day or night!
  • Learning how truly unloving I can be. Since love is very patient and kind, not touchy or irritable... whoaaah do I have a lot to learn about love, starting with the people I care the most about. I've always struggled with patience... but I didn't realize just how much until being home with a five and a two year old all the time. Am I kind, even when correcting? And let's not even talk about being touchy or irritable at the end of long days. Sheesh. I'm learning to love, and by His grace, I hope to love a little more each day than the day before.
  • Time passes at warp speed. I have such good intentions every morning of things I want to get done... but sometimes the only thing that gets accomplished is keeping the kids alive. 
  • No matter how good or bad the day was, no matter now clean or messy the house is or what's for dinner, having the love and support of Marc has been key for me. He works such long hours for our family to be able to function as it does, and never expects to "not work" at home. That whole bullet point above about love? He's got it down so much better than I do. No matter his workload, he still comes home and unselfishly gives, serves, and believes the best in all of us. 

I am looking forward to growing in all areas of my new role and I can't wait to see what's in store next for our family!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Legacy of the Repentant Heart

"Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him." 

In all three places where the twelve apostles were introduced (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), it's there... Judas the traitor... Judas the betrayer. What an legacy, Judas! Curious... why weren't the "mistakes" or downfalls of all of the disciples listed? None of them were perfect, they were all imperfect people, sinners, just like you and me, right? Why only Judas? Did Peter not also betray Jesus? 

We all know the basic life story of Judas and Peter, but have you ever considered the similarities? Here's a brief rundown of both:

Judas was the group treasurer. Obviously, the disciples didn't expect him to be a greedy enough to sell someone, Jesus of all people, for money, or he wouldn't have been in his respectable position within the group. Jesus not only knew (because he's God - hello!), that he would sell him out, He even told Judas ahead of time that he would - and yet Judas STILL did it. Right before Judas sold him out, knowing what would happen, Jesus still called him "friend." (Is it hard for anyone else to wrap their measly human mind around the way God is love despite knowing every single unsightly thing about us?) Judas, when he saw the consequences of his actions, regretted his actions and returned to the religious leaders claiming Jesus' innocence, throwing the money he was paid for selling Jesus out down. Judas' regret and sorrow resulted in isolation and despair, and ultimately, he killed himself.

Peter was one of the three closest friends Jesus had, and along with James and John, spent more time alone really getting to know Him than the other disciples. Peter certainly wasn't perfect, he seemed to struggle with fear, doubt, and faith - letting God truly be in control. It seems like he got into trouble a lot for saying things without thinking... or only thinking from a "this world" perspective instead of a eternal perspective. Jesus, as with Judas, knew Peter would deny knowing him, and told Peter just as he did Judas. Peter, of course, spouted off that he would never do that... but, he did. Peter knew and truly loved Jesus more than just about anyone! Peter, when he realized what he had done, went and wept bitterly.  It says that after the third time he denied Him, the rooster crowed and he suddenly remembered what Jesus had told him... after the third denial. It was his wake up call. His moment to decide how to respond to such ugliness and shame. It's not like he woke up that day and decided he was going to claim he didn't know Jesus, right? Hello - he even had a warning about it! How did he get to a place where it was comfortable to deny the one that he first recognized as the Messiah? Regardless of how or why, it's what he did afterwards that makes him different from Judas. Peters sorrow didn't stop at regret like Judas'. He seized the opportunity to make a complete one-eighty and became one of the most prominent spokespersons and leaders for Jesus Christ, loyal until his execution. 

They both did what we would humanly consider "big" sins... I mean, come on...  betrayal against the living and breathing Jesus Christ! Judas was clearly full of remorse, but he wasn't repentant. I believe with all my being that he would have been forgiven and his legacy changed had his heart been repentant. Peter was sorrowful, but also repentant. 

I love how this scripture allows me to visualize the redemption of a repentant heart :

"Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets."

Peter's heart changed the direction of his life. It took his ugly, shameful sin, and turned him one hundred eighty degrees back towards Jesus and he never looked back. Judas, as we know, ended up in the "deathbed of regrets." 

Maybe you, like me, have pulled a Peter or a Judas. Me? Guilty as charged. What I can tell you, is that in my darkest and ugliest moments, Jesus never defined me by my sins. He saw ME that day He hung on a cross, wallowing in the throes of my sins, shame and guilt and said, "She is worth it." You? You're worth it too. We're all part of the 100%; sinners, covered by His precious blood (Matthew 26:28). Regardless of how scandalous, disgusting and vile a past may be, Jesus can restore what Satan intended to destroy, and use it for His good (Romans 8:28-30). He's already paid the price to, like Peter, change our legacy and erase the sins from our otherwise Judas-esque introductions, all we have to do is give it all to Him. 

"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."
-1 John 1:9 (NLT)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not-So-Secret Skin Secrets

I wrote about my current cleansing and moisturizing routine yesterday... but it's only fair that I also share some not-so-secret skin secrets as well.

Scrolling through Facebook this past spring and summer has been an eye opener. I am officially at the point in my life where when I see a sweet 16 birthday girl getting her drivers license and first car, only to instantly remember back to when they were a newborn babe in their momma's arms. Seriously. Wasn't it just yesterday when I got my first car? Now there are these not-so-tiny humans running around me screaming, "MAMMA!"? Reality check. I'm not getting any younger. <sigh>

Another eye opener has been noticing subtle skin changes... specifically, the skin of sun worshipers. No joke. For about 2 years I was one too, so no judgement passed here. But seriously, STOP! Everyone else talks about it, so no need for me to reiterate how damaging the sun can be on your skin... you already know. Anyway, I noticed enough from pictures posted that it made me take initiative to ward off wrinkles and aging before they happened to me. Do I expect to stay wrinkle free forever? Nope! But there are plenty of things I can do to avoid further damage and give my skin a little boost in the meantime!

I use SPF 30 (or above) on me and the kids any time we'll be outside for any period of time. I probably go overboard, honestly. Floppy hats are fun options too! I love wearing them because I hardly have to style my hair. Sad and lazy, I know. Oh, I don't skip the SPF on the lips.

No.2 - RETIN-A
Do your research... Retin-A works! I have used a generic version (Tretinoin 0.025%) every other night at bedtime since July 5. I use a pea sized amount and dot it on my forehead, nose, chin and cheeks and then rub in, avoiding the eyes. In just a month and a half, I can tell a HUGE difference in my skin. I actually expected to go through the terrible breakout/peeling/redness stage that many people go through when starting a Retin-A regimen, but I didn't. I have actually only had two pimples since I started, which is a huge improvement for me, and my skin gets better and better as the weeks go by. HERE is a helpful article on starting a Retin-A regimen... but there are tons more floating out there! It's a prescription, so talk to your doctor about it. (Note - skin treated with Retin-A will be much more sensitive to sunlight, so it's not something you should use if you're a sun worshiper. Also, don't use additional spot treatments at the same time you're using the Retin-A - it's not a good combo, trust me. Save the spot treatment for non-Retin-A nights.)

Just like the Retin-A, tons of research has been done on the benefits of vitamin c (oral and topical).I have been using Turbo Booster C Powder by Philosophy for the past few weeks every single morning. I decided to go with this topical vitamin c because I love the idea of mixing it fresh every morning and also being able to use it with whatever moisturizer I want. I expected it would take several weeks to a few months to really be able to see it working on my skin, but it hasn't taken that long at all. I love this stuff - worth every penny.

I'm kind of new to the whole eye cream thing. I wanted to get started on one to postpone the inevitable eye aging process as long as possible. Also, because I can't put the Retin-A or potent Vitamin C on or around my eyes, I felt like I needed something that I could. I decided to go with the Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex for night time. So far, I've been happy! For daytime, I'm using the Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum. I like it because it has tiny micro-reflectors, which seem to help brighten up my eye area, always a good thing for me! Both of those state they can be used morning and night, so I don't necessarily need both, but I like using them that way for different reasons. (Note - if you are oily under your eyes, the Regenerist Serum would not be the best option for you since it would be adding micro-reflectors to the already existing shine.) I also have been testing the Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Puff Roller... I'm not sold that it truly works as well as they advertise, but the coolness of the roll does feel good.

So that's it! Retin-A at night (every other), Vitamin C every morning... and eye creams... my skin has NEVER looked better. Seriously, NEVER. My pores have shrunk (the Clarisonic probably gets the credit for thas) and the tone and texture has evened out, even after such short amount of time. Breakouts have come to a screeching halt and I seriously feel like my skin is beginning to glow all on it's own. I can't wait to see it after a few more months of these treatments!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cleanse & Moisturize

Well, current as of today! I've learned that it isn't always a bad thing to try new things. I thought my old skincare routine (face cleanser, lotions, creams, etc) worked plenty well... but now... not so much.

A few months ago I was chatting with an amazing hair stylist and fellow makeup addict (who also happens to be a dear friend - lucky me!) about eye makeup removers. She said she uses them, but never HAS to use them. Excuse me? After I would wash my face with my old cleanser, I had such massive black circles around my eyes, Cain Velasquez would have been proud to claim them! (That reference probably made no sense to you if your husband isn't into UFC like mine is - ha!) No joke. She mentioned that maybe my cleanser wasn't really cleansing my face. Hmmmm. That night, I went home and washed my face as usual. I then swiped my eye makeup remover pad around my face and about fell on the floor when I looked at it. It was covered in makeup. Evidently, my face hadn't been really "clean" in f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Gross!!! As I usually do, I hit up the internet reviews to find a new cleanser ASAP. When I say ASAP, I really meant it. Don't think for a hot second I was going to wash my face with that terrible cleanser again!

I ended up with a cheapo drugstore cleanser that has rocked my <now> clean face world, Basis cleaner clean face wash. I could tell how much cleaner my face was after the first use! And unless I wore super heavy eye makeup, I don't have to use eye makeup remover... it gets the makeup off that good! The only downsides are that it can burn if you get it in your eye (nothing terrible, but just a heads up on that) and if you have dry skin, your skin can get "tight" if you don't moisturize. I always moisturize my skin after every cleansing, so it doesn't make a difference to me. I use about a quarter size amount in the evenings and about a dime size amount in the morning. To be honest though, I really, really want to try Purity by Philosphy. I just don't want to fork over the dough when it will be on my face such a short amount of time and this one is currently doing a great job.

For moisturizer, I'm kind of all over the place, really. I'm just trying new things to find something I hands down absolutely love. Right now for daytime I'm using No7 Lift and Luminate Day Cream and I like it enough to repurchase. It has tiny, micro luminators which really brighten my skin underneath makeup. It's not glittery at all, but gives the skin a nice glow. If I go without makeup, however, I think it is too luminizing, so I use Aveeno Ultra Calming Moisturizer. I don't love or hate the Aveeno, and I feel that it does what I need it to do on no-makeup days.

My favorite night cream, hands down, is Iris Night Face Cream by TheBalm.(You can get it with free shipping at Nordstrom, by the way.) It has glycolic acid which is supposed to have anti-aging benefits as well as being an exfoliant. When I wake up, my skin feels AMAZING. This is the only product here that I am totally ga-ga over. I'm also trying the No7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream to test it out. I don't like it nearly as much as this Iris, but it could be a cheaper alternative until the next big sale on TheBalm products. 

The last "cleansing" biggie is the Clarisonic. Yes, it's expensive (to me, anyway)... but it has made my skin take a DRASTIC change for the better. Drastic like, I can't imagine my skin without it. I use it every night except when I exfoliate , so that makes about 6 nights a week. I've been using it for a few months and continue to use the sensitive brush heads. I don't have sensitive skin, but I've been happy with the results and see no need to change to one of the other brush head options. I ordered it when I had a 20% off coupon and also used some Ulta Points (I talked about those HERE), so I didn't have to pay full cost, which definitely helped. There are cheaper brands of cleansing brushes, but all I can say is do your research. The Clarisonic uses sonic technology to clean the skin without being abrasive. (Have you ever used a SoniCare toothbrush? It's the same concept... it's not "scrubby" as much as it is "vibrate-y.") From what I have read, some of the cheaper options "scrub" back and forth, which can be abrasive and cause mini tears in the skin, opening the door to bacteria and such. However, I have several friends who use the Olay version and absolutely love it and their skin looks great. Here's a good review with positive and negatives of both the Clarisonic and Olay versions.

Well, that's the basic products I use for cleansing and moisturizing. Do you have any different products you love that I need to try? Don't tell me it's the purity cleanser... I just might make me break down and get it!