Remotely Sane

Remotely Sane

I recently heard a Dave Ramsey segment, in which he describes working to pay of debt as “going after it with Gazelle intensity”.  His speech resonated with me, as it accurately describes how I feel on most days just doing everyday life as a full-time mom, and working from home.

Sometimes the cheetah is the clock.  I’m like a gazelle bouncing around in the morning scurrying kids through the morning routine.  Repeat in the afternoon, but insert cranky young gazelles that don’t want to do their homework or the one that refused her lunch and is now having a meltdown and cannot wait another moment for dinner.  Afternoons in my house are sort of like when the crouching cheetah is slightly shaking its hind quarters, signaling that an attack is imminent.

Sometimes the cheetah is my list of things to do.  This cheetah always seems to work in tandem with the time cheetah.  So much to do, not enough time to do it becomes an understatement when you’re limited to 2 hours (toddler nap) per day to eat, shower, and knock out those to-do list.  It gets really gazellish when I start hopping from one thing to another, and end up with a bunch of partially completed tasks.  Sorry your uniform shirt is wrinkled.  Just be happy it’s clean.  Now go put it in the dryer for a few minutes.  (C’mon, I know I’m not the only one!)

But, back to Dave’s point, he uses this example to demonstrate how you should pay off debt.  That being with gazelle-like intensity.  Debt being the cheetah, and the consumer being a gazelle running and bouncing frantically, in attempt to get away and save it’s life.  When I heard this, I thought, what a spot-on reference.  Pull up a video of a cheetah chasing a gazelle, and you’ll feel it too.

As a result, I’m officially in Gazelle Mode.

My goal:  To be debt-free.  I’m talking, no car loans, no credit cards, no payments, except for my mortgage.  So here we go!

First things first. Paying off debt requires money, which requires a job, and I already have two of those.  Being a mom is my first job, but I don’t get rewarded for that until they become productive members of society, which I think will signify a job well done as for my role as a mother.  I also contribute to our household expenses by doing some professional contract work (trailing from my career before becoming a stay at home mom).  But if I’m going to work towards this goal with “gazelle-like” intensity, I need to find a way to bring in extra cash, right?

Off to the land of remote jobs, I went.  It’s a scary place to be if you have never been, or if you are not aware of common scam tactics.  Let me preface this by saying the information I’m sharing is my own opinion and is based on my experience.  I’m not being paid or getting any kick-back from any of the specific companies that I mention.  You should always do your own research before proceeding with any online or remote job offer.

Up next, I’ll share with you the side-gig I found to be a source of extra money, even for moms with baby gazelles at home. Also, I’ll share with you my close call with a scam that opened my eyes to how easy it is to become a victim.  Stay tuned!

Weight From God

Weight From God

20181124_171923204_iOS“Just pray about it, and see what God says about it.”

I tried and tried, desperate to hear from God; still I struggled to determine if my thoughts or ideas were my own or God’s.

For a long time, I have been waiting.  Waiting for God to show up, thinking that the moment He arrived, my burden would be lifted, my problem would be solved.  God has a way of teaching in any circumstances, and times of trouble are often the best settings.

Weight from God.  I know what this is.  I am a mule.  How do you get a mule to move?  You put something heavy on it.  The mule will begin to move as the weight signals this reaction.  So, God has put some weight on me, something in my heart and it’s making me move.  I am moving, growing in faith, making improvements, moving my path so I can walk parallel with Jesus.  After all, isn’t that the easiest way for someone to walk while holding your hand?

Line your walk up with Jesus, then you will no longer feel the heaviness God needed you to feel in order to get your attention.

“Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying this is the way, walk in it.”  —ISAIAH 30:21

My Minivan – Ride Until She Dies

My Minivan – Ride Until She Dies

The first day of school is just around the corner.  School supplies, uniforms, meeting new teachers. My calender is buzzing with back to school preperations.  Then it hit me…car line.  The van….it has to be cleaned or I’m dropping them off a block away from school.

Oh, I’ve seen my competition.  Tiny little hybrid car, 80 pound dog sitting poised in the front seat (looking like Dino), and her child in the back.  The teacher opens the door and nothing comes out except a child.  Lassie just sits and watches calmly, as if to say “bye Timmy, see you this afternoon”.

Then, there’s the other minivan mom.  The plastic sleeve is still over the rear wiper from the last car wash.  Family stick figures of mom, dad, 6 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and partridge in a pear tree are gleaming right next to the 13.1 decal.  The teacher opens the door and the aroma of earthy essential oils exits the van along with a child or two or three.

Then, I roll up to car line in “Vanessa”, our ten year old Honda minivan.  She’s metallic gray in color, with 15″ rims, and a (still dependable) V6 engine.  We’re talking 6-disc changer, sunroof, power doors, and daytime running lamps people!  Ok, so she doesn’t have bluetooth, she was still the shiznit back in 2008.  As the car line progresses, I am glancing at the floorboard to make sure a sippy cup isn’t going to fall out when the sliding door is opened.  The door pockets are full of things that come into the van, but never make it back out until the next purge.  There are seat pockets full books, dvds, and whatever else they can fit.  The floor is littered with random legos, small toys, and food scraps such as french fries or cheerios (aka roadkill).  I mean, its safe to assume I would get better gas mileage if she were cleaned out.

No matter what she looks like on the inside, I’m keeping Vanessa until she dies. Here’s why:

  1. She’s paid for.  I worked hard to get to that last payment, so I want to enjoy not having a car note for as long as possible.
  2. The kids have marked their territory in there.  Each one of them has basically “grown up” being shuttled around in this van.  There are stories, like the time the crayons melted and left a colorful reminder in the carpet. There is mystery, such as when you remove a car seat for a cleaning and get a glimpse of the lost items and roadkill festering under it.  Or, how about the tear in the leather on the right side of my driver’s seat – the only area torn in the entire van – where my arm has reached back to the kids for years. Vanessa is comfortable.  She’s broken in, and I don’t go crazy if something is accidentally spilled or worry about muddy shoes.
  3. If I were ever trapped in the van during a snowstorm, I’m fairly certain I could survive several days off the roadkill found throughout the van.  There’s even a potty seat and toilet paper in the trunk (It was put there out of necessity, and turned out to be very handy to have.). I would have no problem finding a blanket and a few half empty bottles of water. Truth be told, I could also find a 27 ponytail holders, an tube of mascara, and a CVS receipt that is as long as my small intestine.
  4. My kids don’t know that she’s old yet. Not that it would cause me to buy a new one, I’m just saying. They haven’t figured out that not having Bluetooth is an inconvenience. Nobody is complaining, so let’s leave well enough alone.

So for now, I’m passing on the glamour and high price tag for a cool mom mobile. I will stand by old faithful, Vanessa, until she’s done. So when I roll up in car line, judge all you want. We’ve got memories in here…and some trash that needs to be emptied. ✌️

Becoming a SAHM: What I Wasn’t Prepared For

Becoming a SAHM: What I Wasn’t Prepared For

Leaving my career behind to raise my children was not an easy decision to make.  I’d spent my entire adult life working in the same industry, climbing as far up the ladder as I could.  After becoming a mom, I imagined how nice it would be to see all the firsts, and be the one taking care them all day.  All other factors aside, I thought the “job” of being a SAHM would be so much easier, and way more fun than dealing with disgruntled clients or a missed deadline.  It wasn’t until I became pregnant with our third child that the option became real.  We had a decision to make before this baby arrived.  My husband’s job was good, but childcare and summer camp is expensive. Multiplied times three, the cost was damn near a mortgage payment.  We had to consider it.

Along the path of transition into my new role, there were things I wasn’t expecting. Feelings and emotions, that I was not prepared for.

Where’s the warm, fuzzy feeling?

Once we made the decision that I was going to be a SAHM, I expected to feel happy and blissful, like I was on top of the world.  Instead, I felt anxious and overwhelmed.  I thought the moment I could be a SAHM, I would be packing my desk and running out the door.  But you see, I did not win the lottery or suddenly become rich.  This is real life.  I’m considering eliminating the one thing I know I’m good at doing, and my income.  The process of making the decision was slow and intentional. My husband and I had spreadsheets, ran all the financial scenarios, and had many long discussions.  For five months we did this because we wanted to make the decision that would be best for our family.  It wasn’t about what I wanted, it was about what would be best for the children and our family as a whole.  I never considered the social and personal impact this would have on me.  I had no SAHM friends to counsel me on the reality of being the primary caregiver.  I was blind to what was in store.

After the decision was made, I had to deal with the emotions of leaving my career.  I needed to work through the remainder of my pregnancy, so I chose not to say anything until it was time to resign.  This was hard to do, especially with the ladies that I was closest to in the office.   As I went on with my daily work, I would think, “this will be the last time I renew this client”, or “the last meeting I go to with this person”.  Looking back, these thoughts were the first signs of just how connected I was to my professional identity and the difficulties I would endure in this area.  I didn’t catch it.  If I’m being honest, even if I had caught it, I probably would blamed it on pregnancy hormones, and swept it under the rug.

The devil attacked and depression set in.

In the immediate days after the baby was born, things were exciting.  But, I knew it was coming, I could feel depression closing in.  At first, the feelings were minimal and I attributed it to lack of sleep and hormones.  The second week after the birth, he went back to work, and I was completely on my own.  I constantly compared myself to other moms.  If they could do it, why can’t I?  I was sad, and then I would be mad because I was sad.  Sounds crazy, but it’s what your mind does crazy things when you are depressed.  I beat myself up because I had three healthy children, a husband that provides, a house, etc.  How shameful of me to be sad.  I had no right.  The mom who lost a child has that right.  The woman who longs for a child has that right.  Not me.  As time went on, the depression gained a stronger foothold.  I felt alone, and it was all I could do to get through the day-to-day.  I didn’t feel like getting dressed and going out,  but I would force myself to for the sake of the kids.  I had no interest in seeing people; when I did, I would pretend everything was great.  In reality, I just wanted it to be bedtime so I could go to sleep.  I couldn’t keep up with the laundry or any of the chores.  It was all I could do to keep the home in a sanitary and livable status.  I felt sorry for my husband, who probably thought he was coming home to dinner on the table and a clean house, because that never happened.  I felt sorry for my kids because they probably thought they would have a mom that wanted to make crafts and go to the park to play, and that rarely happened.   How do all these “other moms” keep it all together without going batshit crazy like me?  Why was I the only one seemingly falling apart?  For the first time in my life, I felt like I was bad at my job.

I missed feeling like I accomplished something.

It’s hard to feel intellectual when the majority of your time is spent watching Disney channel or singing ABCs.  I missed feeling smart and important.  While being a parent is the most important role I’ll ever have, the gratification is not immediate.  No one pats you on the back and says “good job changing that diaper”.  The gratification comes later on for parents, when our children display good values and become productive members of society.  The shock of this new SAHM role was difficult for me to digest.  I believe that I had such a vivid picture in mind of what my life would be like; and, anything that didn’t fall in line with that picture was wrong.  I set the standards that I failed to meet.  I was my own worst enemy and it took me a long time to see that.

Humbling trials build strong walls.

I’ve been on the job for nearly two years now and I’m still married, and all of the kids are still alive and well (accomplishment #1 — patting myself on the back).  I’m learning to accept that I will never be that perfect SAHM that I pictured and compared myself to for so long.  She doesn’t exist.  I’m still an introvert, and my house is noticeably occupied by children (please call before you come over so I can shove things into closets and close all the bedroom doors).  I’m working a small amount from home, which gives me a sense of accomplishment on a professional level and has helped me feel a little like the old me.  By far, the best decision I have made was to grow in Christ.  I joined a small group at church, a church I’ve been attending since 2010.  It took me all these years, but I finally did it and I’m so glad I did.  These ladies gave me back the camaraderie and friendships that I was missing.  The spiritual growth has helped me deal with life from a new perspective, and it’s looking a little better each day.

When I look back on where I was and where I am now, I believe I am a better person.  There is something about being humbled that gives you more compassion and understanding.  Before this experience, I only had the opinion of a person that worked 40 hours a week, and thought staying home with the kids would be a breeze.  I have now gained the perspective of a full-time mom, and had to fight the feelings of envy towards my husband because he gets 2 hours of quiet time during his hour-long commute each way.  I truly have been on both sides of the fence.  The grass isn’t really greener on either side.  The key is that you must include your needs into the decision-making process.  When you’re on an airplane, the attendant gives instructions for an emergency event.  They tell you to put on your oxygen mask first, then help others near you.  Momma, you can’t take care of others unless your taking care of yourself.

Can Mommy Please PIP

Can Mommy Please PIP

I need to vent for a moment.  Someone please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem. “Mommy needs to PIP”.  That’s right, I have to tell my kids to let me poop in peace.

I just have a few questions for all the kids that feel the need to keep mom company on the crapper.

  1. Why can’t Mommy poop in peace?  There are very few moments in time that you and I are separated.  Can I just have this one thing? Why on earth do you want to join me in here anyway?
  2. Last week, you came into the bathroom just to poop your diaper while I did my business.  Is it like when someone yawns, you automatically have to do it too?
  3. Is it really that urgent? If the door is closed, that means you knock.  If you knock, and I say, “I’m in here”, that doesn’t mean come on in.  What’s that, you’re hungry?  Go ask your father to get the fruit loops for you.  I’m obviously busy catching up on facebook or checking the bank balance.  I promise, I’m not the only one that knows how to make a good bowl of cereal.
  4. Why do you wait until I’m in the bathroom to get on each other’s nerves?  Standing at the bathroom door asking me to mitigate an arguement…I can’t PIP with all these shenanigans.  I don’t know where your shoe or iPad is, and I’m not rushing out of here to help you look. You’ll have to wait or, heaven forbid, look for it yourself.  Look kids, unless there is a fire or someone is bleeding, it can wait.

What’s that?  I’m taking too long?  I might just stay in here until my Mother of the Year award arrives.  Now, bring me my phone charger and let me Poop In Peace!

5 Things to Consider Before Working From Home

5 Things to Consider Before Working From Home

I always thought working from home would be awesome.  How nice it would be to work from the comfort of my home and still be there to get the kids off the bus.  No commute, no office politics, just comfy clothes and a laptop.

After the birth of my last child, I left my job to become a stay at home mom.   A short time and a few curve balls later, I went back into the workforce and found a job that I could do from home.  This meant I could still be with my kids and earn income.  My job was nearly thirty hours a week, 100% remote work, with no restrictions on the time of day I worked.  Seems fabulous, right? No doubt there are many great things about working from home.  Your family situation and season of life has a big impact on how fitting this type of work will be for you.  If your circumstances are not conducive, you’ll feel like the grass that seemed so much greener was just fertilized with BS.

Before you bust out the athleisure wardrobe and trade in your cubicle for a desk in the corner of your bedroom, consider these five things about working from home:

  1. Who will be home when you are working?  Unless you have a basement or other dedicated office space that is separate from your living space, this will be a very important question to factor into your decision.  I have 3 children ranging in age from 10 to 1.  When I first began working at home, my husband explained that “when Mommy is working, you need to pretend she’s not home, just like she was at the office”.  Yeah, folks, that just does not work.  I work on a laptop, but mainly in my bedroom or on the porch.  In either place, I can still hear what’s going on.  I can hear the crying over what’s for dinner, or arguing siblings.  If someone gets hurt or mad, there is no hesitation for them to find me.  Even if things are going smoothly, you will still require the ability to tune out the distraction of the family routine going on around you.  Consider the practicality that you will be able to work during the time you are expected or plan to do so.  Really think about what a day is like in your house, and when you would be able to have the time and space the work.
  2. Do not over commit yourself.  As I mentioned, I have 3 kids.  It’s summertime right now, so all three are home with me.  During school, I have about a 6 hour window of time in between drop off and pick up/bus.  I need to work 30 hours per week.  If I had absolutely nothing else to do, I could work 6 hours a day, 5 days a week and have a weekend off with my family.  But that obviously is not the case.  I have a toddler to tend to, and a home to run.  It’s always looming over me that I need to hurry up and get dinner cooked or the kids in bed, so I can get my hours in.  Always. Looming.  I end up working 7 days a week and it’s pretty miserable.  If working from home is a new venture for you, take it slow.  Start with a few hours a week and see where it fits in your schedule.  If you take on too much you may find that you are overloaded and will eventually experience burnout.
  3. Be patient with your family.  They really don’t know what it is like to work and live in the same place, unless of course, they do it too.  If you plan on staggering your work in between your spouse’s schedule, this will have a significant impact on him or her.  Most of the time, I am able to work right after my husband gets home from work, and late at night after everyone is in bed.  I usually have to work on Saturday and Sunday just to pick up the missing hours.  Guess who is tending the kids while I’m working?  He works all day, then has Daddy duty during dinner and bath time.  I’ve worked all day taking care of the children and house, and then I have to work in the evening.  This kind of schedule leaves little time for relaxing or quality time.  Before you make the leap, determine how much and when you will work, and then ask have a discussion with your spouse or other family members to determine if it will have a negative impact on the family routine.
  4. Delegate housework or hire domestic help if you can afford it.  Depending on your workload, you may find it hard to keep up with your house.  For me, this was the thing that bothered me the most.  Maybe I am just terrible at being a stay at home mom, but I cannot seem to find the time or energy to get everything done.  Since we depend on my income, I tend to put my work before the laundry or whatever else needs to be done.  A messy home is very frustrating, and it’s hard to relax when you look around and see all these things that need to be done.  I began to get angry because I felt like the assumption was since I am home all the time, I can take care of all the housework.  Try to delegate some (or most) of that housework to children who are old enough to help.  They will complain (mine did) but they can do far more than we give them credit for.  Another option is to hire domestic help, if you are able to afford it.  It will lighten your load and free up your time for getting your work done.
  5. Make sure you love what you do.  Working from home takes discipline.  There will be days you just don’t feel up to working.  You need more willpower to forge through those days than an office employee.  You probably wouldn’t call your boss and say “I just don’t feel like coming in today”.  When you work from home, you may not be held accountable by a boss, but skipping a day usually just means deferring the work to the next day.  To help keep you on track, look for jobs that you enjoy.  Something you are good at doing, or that you are passionate about.  If you feel that your work is helping or contributing to something, you will find it easier to remain focused and on task.  On the other hand, if you are unhappy with what you are doing, it will be harder to focus and it will likely reflect in your work.   You may even find that you give up all together if the work is not satisfying.  When you enjoy what you are doing, you become good at it, and that usually leads to recognition from your client or boss.  We all need a pat on the back from time to time, but those are harder to come by when you are not present in the office.  Choose a job that you will be happy doing, with or without gratification.
Putting the Right Quarter in God’s Coke Machine

Putting the Right Quarter in God’s Coke Machine

Last night, I didn’t feel like going to small group at church.  I kind of wasn’t feeling well and really thought about using that as an excuse not to go.  I like going, but I’m in a rut right now and feeling insignificant in the group.  Also, they started asking us to pray for each other out loud, and I’m not very good at doing that.  It makes me uncomfortable because the other ladies in my group have all these graciously wordy and flowing prayers, and I’m over there like “Dear God, please help so-and-so find a job”. I feel like I’m in kindergarden and they are the graduating class of the school of praying.

The first night, I muddled my way through it.  We were each given another group member to pray for.  I was first to speak, and managed to get out a short, straight to the point prayer.  I asked God to help her and give her what she needs.  It was ackward, and I didn’t feel connected.  Last night, the other ladies spoke their prayers, and when it came to be my turn, I just broke down in tears.  I couldn’t pray.  I didn’t know how to pray.  Earlier that day, as I listened to a sermon by Lisa Harper, I learned that I was just trying to put the right quarter in God’s coke machine to get what I was asking for.  Instead of telling God what I need from Him, I should surrender my will so I can hear from God.  Instead of praying, “please help so-and-so find a job”, pray for the Lord to provide direction on their career.  I know what I need to do, I just have to do it, starting today.

Starting today, I will pray for God to show me what I need.  I will not lean towards my own desires when I’m praying for things that I want to happen in my life, but rather pray for the Lord’s direction.

Starting today, I will not say “you are in my prayers” unless I will really be praying for you.  If you post on social media about a sickness or other trial, rest assured that my comment about praying for you is no longer an empty statement.

I am a work in progress, but I am God’s work in progress.  Last night, after small group, I came home and tucked my kids into bed.  Then I headed off to my bedroom with my laptop to work.  But I couldn’t focus on work, so I shut down the laptop and grabbed one of the 3 devotionals gathering dust on the table next to me.  I read and prayed until 3 am; and, do you know what happened this morning?  God answered one of my prayers!  The quarter I needed to put in His coke machine was spending time digesting His Word, really praying, not just skimming the surface and hoping for the best.  What a sweet lesson indeed!