Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jag Alskar Dig!

We had a very simple Valentine's Day.  The day before Valentine's Day, we were one of those lucky East-Coasters who received more snow than Virginia characteristically gets. Ever.  I think we got about 17 inches.  In the preparation for possible power outages and weeks of possibly being snowed-in, Valentines became less of a priority.  But at least we had all that we needed to make milk sandwiches for weeks.
We have been learning about Sweden, so we had a Swedish-themed day. I made the kids "dala horse sewing kits" with the pieces cut out and ready to sew, little heart baskets (that every Scandinavian country claims as their own), and found some M&Ms and leftover Christmas candy to fill them with.

We are so fortunate that we have good friends within walking distance. So we made Vaniljkakor and had a little Valentine tea party.

And the kids went out to play in the snow as the sun was setting.  And this was the picture from my porch:
 And days like these make me happy to be just where I am.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

1 year and 1 month later

Hello friends! It has been a little while (as in over a year) since my last blog post.  It has been quite a year yet here we are, a year older, a year wiser, and a year more grateful. It was a rough year for us financially and for me that became a challenge for me spiritually. We have come out on the other side for now, but not without trials. Not without sacrifice and pain. But we have been given a greater dose of humility, compassion and gratefulness.
For over a year Nick juggled two part time jobs as I worked part time at Starbucks. We barely made ends meat.  There were times that I was envious to tears of people who had the means to fill their entire shopping cart with groceries.  I learned to cook beans many new ways and to feed a family of 5 on $100 or less a week.  It was not easy.  Its amazing how no matter how much you tell yourself, "its only money", it really isn't "only money" is it?  Because when you don't have it, it dictates many other aspects of your life. What you can do, what you can buy, how healthy you can eat, how far you can drive.  That was hard for me. Putting faith in God to provide was terribly hard. But He did provide. Every. Single. Day. And that is exactly what it was: day-to-day-to-day. I couldn't look past a single day or I would be under the covers in tears with worry. How to pay for this or that. A gallon of milk or a gallon of gas? And no end in sight.  That was the worst part.  Putting faith in God when you can't see His plan. And always knowing that He would provide, but needing to know when.
It was a hard year. But it was an awesome year. Working at Starbucks has been such a blessing. I cannot count how many mornings last year that started at 3:30am for me, but I have made some amazing friends who have inspired me. We had our own little Starbucks crew hiking group and we went on some pretty neat adventures in and around our little hometown. Plus, I have new, really close friends who I imagine will be in my life long after our time pulling espresso shots together.
One of my co-workers also tipped me off about this really amazing grocery store (Sharp Shopper) that is very inexpensive. That sounds so dumb, I know, but I swear this store has changed my life. Not to mention fed my family on its cheap (yet healthy) goods. My prayers to fill my entire shopping cart were answered, in such a simple unexpected way.

I also learned how very valuable my time is. I find it so incredibly hard to not get stuck in a rut when I am home, all day every day with sweet, energetic, fighting, smelly, adorable, crazy kids! Working has given me that space to disconnect, and then reconnect more fully (yet often tiredly) to these children and to appreciate all the small moments together. And unlike at home, I get breaks at work... with lattes and 10 minutes of uninterrupted thoughts!! What a treat. Now I feel like I am finding that balance between being a wife and mother... and yet still being me.
I also took up running and ran a 5k. Running lifts my spirits in hard times, and its free! And while I am trying to find a new balance now that Nick got a FULL TIME JOB and time to myself is a little harder to come by, I know what is possible and necessary for my sanity and well-being.  So just before Thanksgiving Nick was offered a full-time position with the company he had been working part-time for!! It was like those cheesy Christmas movies that end so happy, just in time for the holidays!!! But it wasn't cheesy at all! It was wonderful in every little way! I was so thankful for answered prayers.
So that was my bitter sweet journey. I am grateful. I know everything could change in a moment and we aren't wealthy or out of the water completely, but for now I am so grateful. I am so grateful for these wonderful little people who teach me how to live in the moment, and seek the good, and keep the faith. I am so grateful for my loving husband who always told me it would be okay (even though I didn't always believe him or see the whole picture). I have learned a new compassion for those less fortunate who live day-to-day and wonder where they will find the money for food to feed their families tomorrow. I have met these people, and been these people and it is hard. And faith is hard too. 

So here we are 1 year and 1 month later, a little wiser, a little humbler, a little stronger, and ever so grateful.
Thank you God.