Loving My Mornings Again

There was a time when I actually got up at 5:00 AM and went grocery shopping for the week just so I could go alone.  As crazy as that season of life was, when my kiddos were still so little and my husband worked long, tiring hours (and still does!), I really enjoyed my mornings alone.  There’s something about mornings that makes me feel the same way as I feel about springtime and fall…that something new is on the horizon.  Like Springtime, every morning is the promise of a fresh start.

I Love My Mornings-so can you!

But over the last 7 months, my life got even crazier, and my mornings went out the window.  During the summer when my kids were sleeping late every day, I thoroughly enjoyed sleeping right along with them.  And even though I needed the extra rest, I really didn’t enjoy waking up with them instead of before them.  Every morning I could feel several set of eyes peering at me, willing me to wake up from sensing their stares.  As soon as I peeled my eyes open, I heard, “Chock-it Milk please mom?”  Something about getting up and my kids needing me before I even set my feet on the floor really annoyed me (for lack of a better word).

That’s one of the things I’ve loved about having my girls in public school…the fact that we all have to get up and get dressed early.  With the help of Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course, I’ve been slowly but surely creeping my way back to great mornings.  So, I thought I’d share my progress with you.

6:00-I’m up and I get dressed, make Hannah’s lunch, and line up four chocolate milks on the counter

6:30-The kids’ alarms are going off.  I help the girls get dressed and brush their teeth…the boys are on their own, doing their morning chores

7:00- We meet at the dining room table for breakfast and a morning devotional

7:30-Tim leaves with Lydia, the boys and I leave with Hannah

8:00-The boys and I are back home, ready to start our school day

I’ve found that with Hannah at public school this year and Lydia at preschool, I have to be super intentional about our days.  I know that I want my girls to hear God’s Word before they walk out the door.  I want them to see me still investing in that time with them, so our morning devotional time, though short and sweet, has really been so nice, and it’s given us a good start to our day.

There are still a few areas I’m tweaking.  I used to love my morning porch time, which I am not getting right now, but I’m hoping to back up my alarm clock as I get more adjusted to the early mornings, and maybe get just a few minutes on the porch each morning before the family wakes up.  On day four of Make Over Your Mornings, Crystal talks about having an incentive to get up, both an internal and external motivation.  For me, the internal motivation is smooth, calm mornings where I can be intentional with my kids.  My external incentive would definitely be to get my porch time back.

I wanted to let you all know that Crystal is offering a really big sale on her Make Over Your Mornings course this week.  You can head over right now and download Day One for FREE.  Yes, FREE!  Then, on Tuesday, you can get the entire course for just $10.  So, if you are interested in reclaiming your mornings, but not sure where to start, I’d highly recommend you check it out.

I’m curious…what would your internal and external incentives to get up early be?

Affiliate links are in the post.  Thank you!

First Day

Is it normal for the mom to lay awake the night before the first day of school while the children all slumber contently in their beds?  Because that is exactly what I did.  I’ve always been an up-all-night person on the night before school.  When I went to school, when I taught school, and even teaching homeschool now…I still lie awake the night before, leaving me running on adrenaline the next day.  I guess it’s just a character flaw…

Anyway, with the exception of one slight (ok, pretty big actually) problem…my kids  had amazing first days.  My girls both woke up ready to go.  They got dressed and flew through their morning chores.  When we dropped them off, they happily walked into their respective places, waved good-bye with hardly a second glance, and set to their learning day.  I consider this such a blessing.  I knew that Hannah would do that, but I was worried about Lydia.  I shouldn’t have been!  She did great marching right in to her preschool daycare.  Here are a few pictures from the day:

Hannah and Lydia first day Hannah first day Lydia first day

Yesterday when they got home, they were all smiles.  They excitedly told us about their days.  Hannah was super excited that made new friends and that she didn’t get in trouble at all…ever…not even a little bit (she has perfectionist tendencies…I actually told her yesterday that it’s ok to get in trouble every once in a while, just as long as she doesn’t make it a regular thing!).  And Lydia couldn’t stop talking about all the friends she had made.

Now, the day did not go off perfectly…as I’m learning to accept and roll with the punches.  As we were taking Hannah to the drop off line, we suddenly got a flat tire, and had to park a little ways from school and walk.  I decided not to be grumpy about it for a few reasons.  First of all, it couldn’t be helped.  Also, I didn’t want to set off Hannah’s day badly.  We certainly could have been further from the school.  And finally, I’ve always really wanted to walk to school.  Even when I was a kid, I’ve wanted to walk to school.  So it was kind of like a bucket list thing for me.

The one thing that I almost got cranky about was that the flat tire was surely going to set our first homeschool day back.  But, Tim happily came to our rescue, despite his incredibly crazy schedule, so I decided to be happy too.  Isaac struggled with seeing the positives of this setback:

Isaac first day flat tire

But, eventually even he perked up.  I told the boys that one of the great things about homeschool is learning that life happens.  Because they are with me all the time, they get a front seat row to “life  happening”.  And it seems that life is pretty exciting in the Wood family.  James has decided to call these moments, “Wood Family Adventures.”  I like it.

My boys were awesome.  One of the main reasons why we sent the girls to public school this year was to give the boys some concentrated one-on-one time to bond.  That’s been difficult for them.  Yesterday affirmed our decision.  We began our day with a great bible study about siblings called My Brother’s Keeper.  I highly recommend it.  It has given us a lot of things to think about and consider, and I think the boys really enjoyed it too.  Then, they spent the day learning together, and I even let them do something crazy…I let them walk down the road together and play out of my sight for about thirty minutes.  This was tough for me…I’m a keep-an-eye-on-em mama.  But, I know that my boys need time to be in the “wilderness” and play together.  They came back all smiles, and spent the rest of the afternoon playing together.  I loved seeing them bond yesterday, and I’m enjoying the same view even today.  Thank you Father, for affirming our decision for the year! 

Isaac and James first day

I’m still getting used to the fact that I can post James’s picture anywhere I want.  I find myself thinking, “Can he do this?  Can I let him do that?”  It’s quite the adjustment, but it’s one that I am thoroughly enjoying.  I got his Adoption Decree in the mail this week, and I stood there and held it for a while and read every single word just to let it sink in really well.  And then, to top off the day, James called her his “birth mom” for the first time ever.  While that may not sound like a big deal to you, it is to me.  We’ve never asked him to do that.  He’s always called her his “mom” but yesterday he didn’t.  While I am still sad for her, my heart is SO happy that he’s seeing us as his family more and more.  These little things that seem so small are such a big deal in the steps to become his family and his people in his mind and heart.

I think the best part of the day was when we went to pick up the girls.  They all acted like it had been ages since they had seen each other, and they spent the whole evening playing outside ALL together with almost NO fighting.  That’s pretty big right now in our neck of the woods.

The Lord’s thoughts are so much higher than mine.  I am continually in awe of His provision and plan for us…as small as we are…that He cares THAT much.

How did your family’s first day back to school go?

Menu Planning…for the Busy Family

Rotational Menu Planning...an easy approach to meals for busy families.

This year has been a year of complete overwhelm for me. I’ve probably been the most scattered I’ve ever been before. Thankfully, I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and realizing that with four kids, it’s time for me to streamline and simplify things as much as possible. So, in preparing for our sure-to-be-busy, half-homeschool, half-public school year this past week, I actually worked on our menu. Tim has been wanting me to do this for a long time, and I’ve been resisting…mostly because it took a little time to get it lined out. But, alas, it is done, and I suddenly have a plan for every week of the month.

I realized that we really were falling back on specific meals pretty often. Surprisingly, nobody in my family really gets tired of our staple meals. Things like spaghetti, chicken and dumplings, and sandwiches never get old around here. So, I decided-with Tim’s prompting-to make a rotating menu.

First, I made a master list of the easiest, most liked meals in our family. NO DIFFICULT RECIPES…okay, no recipes at all.  This year, I decided, if the meal requires an actual recipe, it doesn’t make the cut.  Then I made a generic rotating menu like this:

Sunday: Sandwiches or Leftovers

Monday: Pasta Night

Tuesday: Meat and Sides Night

Wednesday: Sandwiches or Leftovers

Thursday: Casserole or Soup Night

Friday: From the Freezer

Saturday: Take Out or Leftovers

Then, I took the editable menu you can find by clicking HERE and plugged in all our favorite meals using my generic weekly list. For breakfast and lunch, we pretty much do the exact same thing every week. I made four different menus, listing all the grocery items I would need for each day in the “To-Do” column.

Here is a quick look at my four rotating menus:

Rotational Menu Planning...an easy approach to meals for busy families.

Rotational Menu Planning…an easy approach to meals for busy families.

Now my biggest problem was that I leave my list every. Single. Time. So, even if I make a list, it gets left at home…or in the passenger seat of the car. So, it ended up being a complete waste of time. So, here’s the true beauty of this plan. Once I had my rotating menus in place, I used a word document to make four bookmark sized lists, and typed in my grocery lists for each week. Then, I laminated the weekly lists, and bound them with a jump ring and stuck it in my purse. I went shopping today, and totally planned on taking my full menu list. But, surprise, surprise! I left my list sitting in the passenger seat of my car. No worries! I had my pocket size list! Now, I’m ready for a trip to the store any time!

I’m really hoping that this menu plan works out for us. Because my family is getting pretty sick of McDonalds. What works for your family?  Do you plan you menus?

Birthing an Adoption

Birthing an Adoption

Birthing an Adoption

“You do realize, Mrs. Wood, that after today, it will be as if James were birthed to you, right?” asked the man questioning me in court the other day during our adoption hearing. “Are you serious?” I thought. To me, it felt like I truly had birthed him, and it was the Longest. Labor. Ever…to the tune of two years!

It started about a year and a half ago. I remember it really, really well. Sitting across from Tim, I boldly said, “I want more children, but I am absolutely sure that I don’t want to be pregnant again.  Let’s start praying about adoption and see if it’s time to pursue it.” Unlike most women, pregnancy was not a blissful thing for me (and yes, I have spent time feeling guilty about this). Although I never had terrible morning sickness (thank You, Lord!), I certainly spent the first three months waking up to saltines on my bedside table and wondering if I was going to make it through the day. I remember with my second and third pregnancies terrible pain just from walking because I carried them low…or funny….or something.   I remember not being able to sleep on my stomach, therefore not sleeping well for nine long months. I remember worrying about everything I did. I remember gaining 60 pounds. Every. Single. Time.   Although I remember anticipating my babies fondly, it’s just not something I wanted or needed to experience again.

I honestly believed that adoption would be nothing like birthing a child. Man, was I wrong. When we first set out on this journey, I laid awake for nights in a row, thinking about the child out there who was mine, who needed us. I wondered what he looked like, what he sounded like, what it would be like to have him with us. I waited, both patiently and impatiently, while I nested uncontrollably. I cried at the drop of a hat when someone mentioned the word adoption…or hello…or cat…and though I didn’t physically hurt with this child, you can bet my heart hurt for him.

When we first got matched, it was as if I had just taken that pregnancy test. The exact same joy, anticipation, and just a touch of, “What have I done?” The first few weeks that James came to live with us were the hardest of my life thus far. I was so sick I literally couldn’t eat, and it had nothing to do with a virus. I was in the depths of post adoption depression, and it was not easy. I woke up each morning, unsure of whether or not I’d make it through the day. But every day, by God’s provision, I made it, and over time, James and I began to bond. I would sit him in my lap, cuddle him and rock him. I would hold his little hand as he fell asleep…all the things I did with my newborn babies. And while I haven’t gained 60 pounds, over the course of the last six months, I’m rounding the 20 pound mark. I’m an emotional eater…can you tell?

And then, there was the other day when the judge finally said, “He’s yours!” I had no idea that I would feel different at that moment. I thought that nothing much would really change, but my whole world changed with that one statement. As I fought back tears, I looked back at James, smiling from ear to ear, and it was as if the doctors and nurses had just placed a brand new bundle in my arms. Suddenly, I overwhelmingly felt that he was really mine. Forever.

So when the man questioning me asked,

“You do realize, Mrs. Wood, that after today, it will be as if James were birthed to you, right?”

…well, you’ll just have to forgive me for the chuckle that must have been at least a little bit visible. I have absolutely birthed this child. Maybe not from my body, but every last bit from my heart.

Adoptive parents out there who have never gotten to experience pregnancy, never, ever let anyone tell you that you haven’t experienced birthing a child. Adoption is absolutely, positively birthing a child into a new life. And just like the birth of a new baby, it is beautiful, incredible, messy, painful, amazing, and completely worth it.

Adoption Day

Adoption Day

Today, August 3rd, 2015, we officially welcomed our fourth child, James Wood.

Today was the day…Adoption Day! I actually like the way a friend put it best…FOREVER DAY!! When I think of how many not-forever days my little guy has had in his eight years, I am SO thankful that today was a forever day. As we prepared for today, Tim and I mentally rehearsed our answers to the questions we would have to answer. Yes, adopting a child requires you to actually raise your right hand and testify with a real life judge and real life court people. Thankfully, our adoption specialist gave us a heads up on the questions we’d need to be ready for like our wedding date (yes, we actually debated on that question and considered asking her to look it up…we are THAT bad!). Then there were other questions, like, “Why do you want to adopt James?” That’s the one I got stuck on.   I wondered if the judge wanted my short answer or my long answer. As it turned out, he didn’t want either…he didn’t even ask the question! Probably best, because the long answer would have kept us there all day! However, I still want to give my long answer, because one day, I want James to know for sure that he was fought for, he was wanted, and he belonged from the very beginning. So here it is…

Why did we want to adopt James?

Adoption Day

Introducing James Timothy Wood

Because God left an empty spot in our family for seven long years…and he fills it perfectly.

Because we prayed….and he was the answer.

Because we have fought for him…and he has been worth it all.

Because he needed us…and we needed him.

Because he’s been the one missing at our dinner table.

Adoption Day

Adopted at Age 8 on August 3, 2015, after 2 years of foster care.

Because over six months ago, we decided to love him…so we do.

Because we knew it was him, and when we met him, we couldn’t have been more sure.

Because we have cried together under the shade tree in the back yard…and we’ll probably do it again a few times.

Because this kiddo has a big future ahead of him…and we want to help him navigate it.

Adoption Day

Because he calls our house “Home”.

Because his “heart has some light with siblings” in his life.

He deserves a do-over…one that includes a forever family.

Adoption Day

And like I’ve told him over and over when he’s questioned our intentions, I want to be there to cry when we take him to drop him off at college…or trade school…or his first apartment…whatever.

I want to cry again at his wedding.

I want to be Grandma to his children, and I want to tell them the story of God’s hand in their Dad’s life.

I’m looking forward to the day that he talks about often…the day when he builds a house right beside us right here on Old Salem Rd and spends all his spare time working the farm with his family.

Adoption Day

The Wood Children

I don’t know if this is what life will look like for us or not, but last night, as we were sitting together as a family, discussing the events of today, James said, “You know, it’s like yesterday and everything before it is the Old Testament of James, and tomorrow starts the New Testament of James.” And I think that’s the most exciting part of today. It’s a fresh start. His future is now in HIS hands, not the state’s, not the caseworkers’…and I ask you to pray with me that at the right time, God will impress upon him to choose to do the most important thing with his life, and put his life entirely in GOD’S HANDS.

Thank you all for your support and love throughout the past year and a half! It’s surreal that we are finally closing the door on this chapter and starting to write the rest of the book.

Adoption Day

The Wood Family, 2015