A Better Mommy

Zander at Art Show

Zander’s art was chosen to be displayed at his school’s art show

My oldest son was my only son for almost five years. In that time, he received all of my mommy attention, all of my mommy energy, and all of my mommy love. Although he wanted and even begged for a little brother, I’m quite certain that he didn’t realize exactly what that would mean to him personally.

As I look back on the last two years of his life, I suddenly see how much less he has received from me. He has gotten a lot fewer songs sung, a lot fewer books read, a lot less time cuddling, a lot less patience from mommy. I feel guilty that I have been less of a mommy to him since his brother was born. I know WHY it has happened, but that doesn’t make it ok.

I have become an “in a minute” mom as Rachel at FindingJoy so eloquently wrote. Read it. It’s worth your time.

Zander is a very smart child. He is very self-sufficient, even at just 6 1/2 years old. He’s a lot like I was as a child. He likes to think for himself, figure it out for himself, and do it himself. He “needs” me so much less than Wyatt does, or so it seems. His independence has been a blessing in many ways during these two years of nurturing a baby into toddlerhood. When Wyatt has truly needed my full attention, I’ve been able to trust Zander to (usually) occupy himself without wreaking havoc elsewhere.

He can fix his own sandwich, pick out his own clothes (with a little style guidance occasionally), read to himself, brush his own teeth, and a million other things that help me have one less item to check off the list when we’re trying to get out the door, into bed, or whatever we’re doing. He can usually entertain his brother when I’m trying to cook supper in the half hour between us getting home and Michael getting home. He can put his own clothes away…and sometimes even fold them.

The problem comes in when Zander DOES want my attention. Too often I am so wrapped up in everything else that I am unable to just stop and focus on him like he needs and deserves.

He wants me to read a book at 9:00 (when his bedtime is 8:30) just as I have settled Wyatt down to nurse and go to sleep. He wants me to find his socks when I’m trying to get Wyatt dressed and coffee made and stuff gathered and lunches packed so that we can leave the house before EVERYONE is late to work/school. He wants to talk when I want to have a minute to unwind from work or when Wyatt is screaming his head off. He wants a drink, he wants a snack, he can’t find his toy, his movie isn’t playing, he… ACK! He gets “in a minute” and “hold on” and “not right now” and “hush” and…

Of course, that is one of the reasons that I believe that me staying at home is the right choice for our family at this time. I will be able to plan our days to allow a less frenzied evening. I won’t have to try to cram a day’s worth of mothering and homemaking into the three hours between getting home from work and tucking the kids into bed. I’ll have more time and energy to give to them.

That’s something to look forward to, but I still have a young boy at home that needs a better mommy right now. I can’t wait for things to be easier or to have “more” time.

So, starting today, I am making some changes in my home.

  • I am going to commit to reading a story and singing a song to my boys every night before bed, no matter what else is going on. It’s a small step that will take no more than 15 minutes in a given night, but it’s a start.
  • I am not going to use sarcasm, yelling, or snapping in my communication with Zander. I am going to speak to him with the love that I actually feel for him.
  • I am going to take at least 30 minutes each day to truly focus on Zander. I want him to see and know that he is important to me as an individual.
  • I am going to allow Zander to be a child, complete with the emotions, imperfections, and energy level that children have. I will be the adult that helps him to handle the emotions, learn from the imperfections, and expend the energy without showing any frustration I may be feeling.
  • I am going to measure my success in these steps in progress, not perfection. I will mess up, but that’s ok. What matters is that I am trying.
Mommy and the boys

My boys and me

Week One: Laundry Couch and Shelf Chaos

 

I’m joining a few other bloggers in a weekly cleaning/decluttering/repurposing/reorganizing challenge! (I’m on week one, they’re on week three…maybe I’ll count this as two weeks to try to catch up…) This week’s progress is being hosted by JaneysRoom. RepurposedKate posted the original idea, and she usually hosts the weekly posts as well.

I’m going to post a picture of an area in my house that needs work on Wednesday. I’ll work on the area in question for the next 4 days (or at least parts of the next 4 days), and on Monday I’ll post the results (whether they show victory or defeat…lol).

Today’s project goes right along with this morning’s post about The Great Laundry Wars. I’m going to clean off the laundry  couch FOR GOOD! No longer will it be a home for freshly laundered clothing. It will actually be used for its intended purpose of being a COUCH!

The Laundry Couch

The Laundry Couch

Since I’m already going to be in the area, I’m going to hit those shelving units behind the couch as well. Do you see the Christmas decorations? They’re hiding behind the unused chore charts for the kids. Yeah…that needs work.

Shelf Chaos

Shelf Chaos

So…here goes nothing! Check back Monday to see how it went!

If you want to see the other bloggers that are participating (the ones that actually started it, in fact), click below:

Repurposed KateWorkbench, Craft Station
Minimalism Journey— Breakfast Room, Bedside Tables
Janey’s RoomThe Shoes, The Coat Rack, The Coat Rack, Again
(Linked posts are for the Wednesday posts. You can see the “after” posts on their sites as well.)

The Great Laundry Wars

A pile of purged clothes

I hate laundry. It is probably the greatest contributing factor to the overall messiness of my house at any given time. I don’t mind washing and drying it…I really don’t. It’s just that I often forget that it’s in the washer, and then it has to be washed again. Or I don’t have enough red clothes or delicates for a load, so they sit there and piled under for so long that I forget that they are there.

The thing that I hate most about laundry though, is folding and putting it away. Confession–we usually just get dressed from the couch/baskets. When I get all fired up and actually fold and put away clothes, it confuses by husband and oldest son. They can’t find anything to wear. Sad but true.

This struggle with laundry isn’t a new thing. I remember my years of high school at the Alabama School of Math and Science (a boarding school for nerds like me…I loved it!) where I would go the whole 6 weeks between trips home without washing clothes. Of course, this meant that I collected a LOT of clothes and learned to wear clothes more than once (a good and bad habit all rolled in to one…). It also meant that the whole weekend I was home, the washer and dryer never stopped.

One of the habits that has most enabled this aversion to laundry is the collection of clothing. I rarely get rid of clothes, and I frequently receive hand-me-downs or gifts of clothing. Because of this clothes-hoarding (let’s call it what it really is people), I CAN avoid washing and putting away clothes. Even if I can’t find the top that I would really like to wear, there is always another one that will work close at hand. Who cares if I have 25 t-shirts? That means one is always clean, right?

Until recently, I didn’t fully realize that the AMOUNT of clothing that I owned was one of the reasons that I so hated doing laundry. I would often say, “we have too many clothes,” but I never really acted like I believed it. I would occasionally get rid of a few pieces that were severely damaged or just ugly, and I told myself that I was purging. Ha!

In the last few weeks, I have really gotten serious about reducing the amount of STUFF in my house. I am tired of living in a house that can’t really be a home. Our stuff is out of control. It is time for change. I have spent a good amount of time reading through blogs on minimalism, frugal living, and cleaning/organizing, and I have made some major realizations about my life and home.

I always have gotten frustrated when I tried to organize my stuff. Marla at FlyLady.net helped me to realize that the “a place for everything and everything in its place” rule only works when clutter is not taking the “place” of the things that I actually use and love. Simple concept, but earth-shaking to my way of life. She also helped me to realize that my perfectionism is one of my greatest liabilities. I won’t let myself achieve anything in small steps. I force myself to try to do everything immediately, and by doing so, set myself up for failure every time.

A few minimalism blogs that I discovered helped me to start a war on my over-consumption and over-stuffed house. I don’t need all of this stuff to be happy. In fact, the more I get rid of, the happier I have become. The blogs are theminimalistmom.combecomingminimalist.com, and thenonconsumeradvocate.com. Since my “awakening,” I have purged 24 large garbage bags of stuff from my house. Most of it was clothes. Most of the clothes were mine.

I have been doing a lot better about keeping up with the washing of clothes since I got fired up by the purchase of a new washing machine, making my own laundry soap, and a general cleaning fever. We also had to take the laundry room door off the hinges to get the new washer inside the room. We had planned to switch it so that it would open out, but we didn’t get around to it immediately. I got a baby gate for the doorway to keep the little man out, and I have decided that I really like it this way. No door means that the laundry room is never “out of sight and out of mind.” I also keep the room much neater because of its visibility. It’s great!

My cleaning fever has not helped me conquer the laundry couch issue though. As you see below, I have reduced the pile to the point that you CAN tell that there’s a couch underneath the clothes, but it’s still not a usable piece of furniture.

The Laundry Couch

The Laundry Couch

It’s MUCH better, but not fixed. So, as I was standing at the couch, trying to make myself fold clothes, I went into full-on ruthless purge mode. Here’s the result:

A pile of purged clothes

Casualties from the Laundry Wars

I purged two full black garbage bags of nothing but MY clothes. This is after the weeks of purging that I had already been through, so my husband was baffled when I walked in with huge armloads of clothes AGAIN. I am getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit right, doesn’t flatter me, doesn’t go with anything else that I own, and that I have too many of. I don’t need 24 solid colored t-shirts. I’m keeping a few of the best ones and getting rid of the rest. It doesn’t matter if I WILL wear it. What matters is whether I have 6 of the same thing! If I still have something that I wore when I was dating my husband, it’s time to let it go.

One other piece of wisdom from the FlyLady: when you donate something that you don’t need, you’re blessing someone else. When I let go of a dress that I really loved once upon a time, I can have peace about it because I know that someone else is going to love and enjoy it now. I’m not putting it in the trash. I’m sending it to bless another person. That thought just makes me smile.

The Benefits of the Frugal Choice

With three weeks of school left, I made a promise to my weary kindergartener. If he could stay on “green” for the remainder of the year (more or less…), we would take a trip and stay in a hotel–with a POOL! Naturally, I already had an idea for a weekend that would be perfect for such an adventure–Memorial Day weekend!

He was (mostly) good for the rest of the year, so the trip was on. I had a couple of events that I really wanted to attend in north Alabama on Sunday and Monday, so we decided to just stay in the area Sunday night and kill lots of birds with a minimal number of stones.

I had planned to splurge and stay at the super-nice hotel in the area that has the coolest indoor/outdoor pool setup ever. It has a water slide and everything. Of course, breakfast wasn’t included, and it was going to be about $200 for one night, but (insert justification here…). Right?

I kept putting off making reservations for the hotel, and then on Monday, I decided to quit my job. That price tag started to look a LOT bigger. I didn’t want to skimp on Zander’s reward, but paying $200 for the use of a pool and a place to sleep for a few hours seemed REALLY extravagant. Michael and I kept going back and forth about it so much that we found ourselves arriving in Tuscumbia with no reservations and no decision made.

Michael decided to use the time that Mom and I were at the baby shower (one of the two events that determined the timing of this trip), to take Zander to a few of the hotels in the area to “inspect” the rooms and pools. They looked at the expensive hotel as well as a few others that we had discussed. On a whim, they also looked at the hotel that was right next to the shower location.

Once they picked us up, it was time to decide. Since the hotel stay was his reward, Zander got to make the final call. We both knew that he was going to choose the expensive hotel with the killer pool. We were prepared for it. We were wrong.

You see, Zander is very much like his father in many ways. One of those inherited traits is the desire to avoid large crowds. The expensive but cool pool was currently home to about 100+ people. Zander had no desire to swim in a pool with that many people, regardless of how cool said pool might be. He chose the hotel right next to us.

The hotel that he chose had an awesome staircase that both of the boys loved walking up (and down, and up…). It included a hot breakfast…with a WAFFLE MAKER(Zan was thrilled with this “extra”)! The best part though, was that the pool was completely empty. We were able to swim in any area of the pool that we liked. We weren’t splashed by poorly behaved children. I didn’t have to worry about the baby if he wanted to swim “alone” on his float (of course, he didn’t know how close MeiMei’s hands were to him…he just knew they weren’t holding him). None of us had to be self-conscious about what we looked like in our swimwear. We were just free to enjoy being together and on vacation.

In the end, the “frugal” choice was not a compromise or sacrifice at all. It was actually a much better value than the “better” hotel. We paid half as much money for so much more enjoyment.

I love how this journey into life on a single income is changing my perspective about so many things. It is so easy to assume that paying more means getting more. In reality, it is often buying the bells and whistles that you won’t even use or appreciate.

I am going to spend some time thinking about all of this in these last few days of May. By Friday, I’ll have a frugal challenge for myself (and any of you that want to play along) for the month of June. I do love a good challenge!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

About 6 weeks ago, I stumbled across OneGoodThingByJillee.com while browsing Pinterest. I LOVE her blog! She has shared so many great recipes for homemade products and tricks that I absolutely love. Her recipe for homemade laundry detergent really sparked my interest. It looked pretty easy, and I was almost out of my stockpiled detergent from my couponing days. I also had just found a steal on a front load washer/dryer set ($200 cash for washer, dryer AND pedestals! Thanks Craigslist!), so I was washing like a mad woman. It was the perfect time to test a new product. She had the price breakdown on the post, and it ended up costing about $0.01 per load! With that kind of a discount, no bargain shopper can refuse.

The next step, for me, was to find several other recipes online to see what they shared and what they changed. I ended up using the Dugger family’s method(they wash clothes for 22 people. I figure they’ve got to know what they’re doing!) but adding an extra 1/2c of Borax. From what  I saw, all of the recipes online are very similar. They almost all contain the same three ingredients: soap (often Fels Naptha but it can also be Castille, Ivory, or probably most any soap), Borax powder, and Washing Soda. All three of my ingredients can be found in the laundry section of my local WalMart.

Here’s what you need to gather:

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap (this can vary, but I really like the clean smell that it has)
  • 1c Borax powder
  • 1c Washing Soda (NOT the same thing as Baking Soda! Don’t try to substitute. The pH levels are very different in these two products.)
  • 5-gallon bucket with lid (I got the orange on from Home Depot for about $3. WalMart also has them in the paint section. While you’re picking up the bucket, grab a big paint stir stick that’s designed to stir a 5-gallon bucket. It’ll save you a trip back to the store when you realize you don’t have anything long enough to stir with.)
  • Hot water

Here is how I did it:

  1. Grate 1 bar Fels Naptha soap (I actually microwaved it instead, but I won’t do so again. It releases a lot of fumes and didn’t melt nearly as smoothly as some other soap that I grated and melted later.)
  2. Pour shavings into a pot containing 4 cups of hot water and cook, stirring often, until melted and smooth. (I used a regular pot for this because I wasn’t sure how it would react with nonstick finishes. It cleaned up very easily since it was just washing soap out of a pot!)
  3. Pour melted soap into a 5 gallon bucket. Add Borax and Washing Soda. Fill about 1/2 way with hot water and mix until well blended. Fill the rest of the way with water, leaving a couple of inches of headspace in the bucket (you’re going to be stirring it and don’t want to slosh it all over the place.)
  4. Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight. It will solidify to a thick, jelly-like consistency.
  5. Once it has solidified, stir with the paint stick until it resembles egg drop soup. Yum! Call the kids in and tell them that this is supper.
  6. Once your kids have run screaming from the room, fill your container 1/2 way with the soap. Fill the rest of the way with warm or hot water. Close tightly and give it a good shake. You’re ready to wash!

Steps 1-4 took me a total of 30 minutes on a Friday afternoon with both boys at home. Steps 5-6 took all of 10 minutes including harassing the kids. Subsequent refills take 5 minutes tops. It is really fast and easy. I promise!

If you use the detergent before it cools from the diluting step, it’ll be very watery but still effective. You can, of course, add less water to get a more concentrated product. I like this dilution level because one batch makes 10 gallons of soap, and the soap is pretty smooth. Also, I don’t like to measure every time I mix up a gallon of detergent, so I use a clear jug and marked the 1/2 way point on the side with a permanent marker.

Use between 3/4c to 1/2c for normal top-load machines and 1/4c to 1/2c for HE machines. Make sure to give the bottle a shake before you use it each time to make sure it’s still well blended.

If you like your laundry with a scent, you can add 5-8 drops of essential oil per gallon. I have started using a VERY small amount of Purex Crystals (I found it on sale, and I use about 1/3 of the normal amount. This $4 bottle should last me about 100 loads.) to each load to add a touch of scent to ours. I may try adding some with the detergent next time I mix a gallon to save that step.

I think that’s it! I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. If so, share a gallon with someone you think will enjoy it! I have gifted three gallons, and I still have about half of my bucket left!

If you try this, please comment to let me know what you think!

Baking Whole Wheat Bread for Beginners

The finished loaves

Yesterday, I finally broke my long-standing “no knead” habit. I have spent most of my adult life studiously avoiding all recipes with the word “knead” in the instructions. Yes, that means that I have missed out on a LOT of recipes, but it also meant that I didn’t subject my husband to another failed baking experiment. (I have produced a surprising number of inedible biscuits, cookies, and cakes in my few attempts to bake “outside the box.”)

Since this was my first attempt at making yeast bread, I knew that I needed to follow a good tutorial. I found one at TheFrugalGirl.com. She includes a good number of pictures, and her instructions are pretty easy to understand and follow. My main problem was that this was literally the FIRST time I have ever kneaded dough. I don’t know what a “kneadable” dough looks like. I don’t know how to tell if my dough has enough flour in it, or even how much flour to “dust” the work surface with.

Since I realize that people with kneading experience may not remember those first few times baking, I decided to post my thought on the process. This is not an expert tutorial by any stretch. However, if this helps someone take that first step into the world of “kneading-needed” recipes, it was worth my time in posting it.

Here’s the recipe:

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter , melted
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (2 envelopes in the little strip)
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface

First tip: Get a bowl for each of the flours and measure them out before you start. I didn’t do this, and I had to rush to get them measured out when it was time to add them in. (I know that sounds obvious, but I had the bags of  flour on the counter…how much time would it take to measure it out? More than I had when one son is clinging to my legs and the other wants a sandwich right as I’m mixing up the dough.)

1. Combine 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, the yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a mixer.

2. Add warm water, honey, and melted butter.  Mix on low speed until ingredients are combined, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

I read that the water should be around 110-120 degrees (use your meat thermometer…it matters) to activate the yeast without killing it. Also, if you pour your melted butter into the measuring cup that you’re going to use for the honey, the honey will pour out without sticking. (4 Tbsp of melted butter is right at 1/4 cup, so you could also just melt it in that cup if you wanted.)

3. Mix in the remaining whole wheat flour, and add enough of the white flour to make a kneadable dough(it should still be fairly soft, though).

Here’s where I had a problem. “Enough” flour to make a “kneadable” dough that is still “fairly soft” probably makes perfect sense to someone who has baked before. It meant nothing to me. Nothing. So, what I did was to watch my dough as it mixed.

It will start out REALLY gooey. Sprinkle the flour in a little bit at a time, and let it mix a few turns before adding more. You’ll see when it has pulled it into the dough, and that’s when you add more. You’ll probably need at least half of the remaining white flour after you’ve added all of the wheat flour.

As you add the white flour, watch for a change in the dough. Mine started to change from sticking to the sides of the bowl to kind of breaking or tearing from the sides of the bowl. I guess that’s what they mean when they say that the dough is getting drier or more stiff. Once it changed, I added a little bit more flour and let it mix another minute or so.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic(if you mixed the dough by hand, you may need to knead it a bit longer).

Take a spoon or your hand and cover your kneading surface pretty liberally with flour. You’ll need to have some extra flour close at hand to add to the surface as the dough picks up what you started with.

The dough is REALLY sticky at this time. Cover your hands with flour and start folding the sides of the dough up and onto itself. Put more flour on your hands every couple of folds to keep the dough from sticking too badly.

Since your hands will get pretty sticky, it’s a good idea to have your child standing by to scroll the page as you read your instructions (at least, that’s what I did…) Here’s my set-up…

Reading instructions from The Frugal Girl on my laptop as I kneaded

Reading instructions from The Frugal Girl on my laptop as I baked

Once it starts to get to a more manageable consistency (not just a gooey mess), you can start doing the kind of kneading that you see on TV…fold, push, turn. The Frugal Girl’s instructions are linked above for more on that process. You’re still going to need to combat the stickiness with flour. The bottom of my dough kept sticking for most of the kneading process, so I started trying to make sure I had flour going UNDER the dough as well as on my hands and the sides.

You’re trying for “smooth and elastic” so keep kneading until you think it’s ready, then poke it! If it springs right back, you’re there. If it pokes you back, you probably should start over. (hehe…6-year-old humor…gotta love it)

5. Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes(an hour if your house is cold).

I couldn’t do this without washing it out, so I lightly greased the bowl with spray oil. I have issues, I know. It didn’t change the outcome, so either way is fine. I let mine rise closer to the hour because my house’s A/C works a little too well sometimes. Here are my “before” and “after” pictures of the rising.

Bread Dough before rising

Before rising

Bread dough after rising

After rising

6. Punch the dough down, divide it in half,  and roll each half out into a rectangular shape.  Starting from the short end, roll each loaf up, and place into a greased 9×5 inch bread pan.  The rolling may seem like a fussy step, but it produces a loaf with a better crumb and structure, and it also will make your loaves look better.

This is basically just pushing your fist into the dough to push out some of the air/gas that was produced during rising. The dough was pretty sticky though, so I didn’t “punch” much…just once or twice. I then dumped it back out onto my work surface which I had sprinkled with a little more flour. (Cleaned it up before remembering that I needed to use it again.)

Use a knife to cut the dough in half

Cut the dough in half

Half of the dough ready to be rolled

then push and stretch the half into a rectangle.

Rectangle of dough ready to roll up

Rectangle of dough ready to roll up

Roll the rectangle up and put it in the pre-greased pan.

7. Cover the loaf with a wet tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled.

I let mine rise for right at 30 minutes.

Loaves before second rising

Loaves before second rising

Loaves after second rising
Loaves after second rising

8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Alternatively, you can insert an instant read thermometer into the long side of the loaf…when it reads 205 degrees, the bread is done.  Turn out onto a wire rack to cool before slicing.

I baked for a little over 30 minutes because I tried the “tapping” and didn’t think it sounded hollow enough. Of course, that was just a wild guess, but it worked.

Here are my finished loaves.

The finished loaves

The finished loaves

The bread was delicious! I waited patiently for my husband to get up the courage to try it (no joke), but when he did, he was shocked at how good it was.

Sadly, I can’t begrudge him that disbelief. He’s been my guinea pig too many times before…

Stay at Home Mom–The Test Run

Wyatt says “ROAR!”

I still have two or three months before I will officially be a SAHM (hiring and training a replacement takes a while), but today has become a test run. Wyatt is cutting both of his top “eye” teeth, and they are really being tough on him. He has been running a low fever on and off, snotty nose, and been in pain a good bit. He wasn’t himself when he woke up this morning, so I decided that daycare was a no-go today.

Since Wyatt wasn’t going to school and I wasn’t going to work, it wasn’t hard for Zander to convince me to pick him up early from his last day of Kindergarten. So, it seems that we are having a trial run of this staying-at-home-with-the-kids thing.

Since we were already in the car from dropping off Zander at school, Wyatt and I headed to the park next to the river to eat a bite of breakfast and enjoy the coolness of the morning. We picked a picnic table and shared a biscuit while waving to every vehicle that passed by. (Since this particular park is next to a pretty busy road, that was a LOT of waving.)

Once we had nibbled the biscuit away, we each took our drinks (coffee for me, water for him) and walked to the river for a closer look.  I watched the joy on his face as he waved to the water from different points of the railing. I watched his fascination with even the most common things. I learned that my little boy LOVES watching bugs.

In that moment, I realized what a gift I have been given. It feels like I’m on candid camera, waiting for the big “gotcha” moment. It’s just not possible that I’m going to be allowed to trade a full-time job for housework and walks in the park. (I know that I have my rose-colored glasses on right now, but just go with me here…)

It’s not that I don’t understand that staying at home is still a LOT of work. I won’t have more work, but I will DO more work. I am not under the illusion that I will suddenly have 40 extra hours in the week for leisure and play. I understand all of that, but I still feel like I’m going on an extended vacation.

I will be at home when my husband is off work instead of being at the office two out of his three off days each week. I will be able to spend time watching my boys grow. I will be the person that teaches Wyatt his alphabet and numbers, shapes and colors. I will share more than an hour in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening with my sons. I will not be so spent when I am with them that I am short tempered and impatient.

I am so blessed to be allowed the privilege of being a full-time wife and mother. Although I still have several weeks before it starts, my heart is light in anticipation of another walk in the park.