If It’s Not On Social Media, Did It Really Happen?

I made a decision on Monday night.

I’ve been leaning toward this decision for a while.

I decided to break up with my social media.

Don’t worry…we will get back together. Eventually. Probably after the holidays are over.

I’ll still blog (that’s my outlet, after all), but I won’t be found on Instagram or Facebook.

So what brought me to this decision?

So many things.

First, the holidays are social media are a form of torture for this missionary kid. I’ve always loved and appreciated the simplicity that my parents raised me with, and after growing up in a third world country I often have a hard time with the materialism of holidays. I always feel guilty when my budget just can’t stretch far enough to give my children the gifts or experiences that all my friends children are given. A lot of people compare social media to a highlight reel- we only see what other’s want us to see, and I find the highlight reel especially prevalent during the holidays. Family photos, gifts, trips, time with family…are all splashed across my news feed. Every holiday season, I feel like I can never measure up.

Instead of worshipping the newborn baby who came to save the world, I am stuck in the trap of comparing myself to everyone who pops up on my news feed.

So my main reason for abandoning my social media accounts this season is to actually participate in advent- with my whole heart. No comparison. No sharing. No one will even know.

 

The next reason I chose to break up with social media for the time being is because my children and my husband need me. We have had a difficult last month (sickness, the flu, lice, night shift) and I just need to be fully present with my kiddos and Theo. They need me. They need me to be emotionally stable, physically able and fully present in their lives. Social media has just become too much for me and I’m spending too much time on it. Sure, I would love to just cut back, but that never really seems to do the trick, so I just decided to cut it out entirely.

 

Finally, I want to do something else with my time. I want to read more books, bake more cookies, write more blog posts. I want to go to bed early every night without the temptation to scroll for 10 minutes an hour before falling asleep. I want to run my half marathon and grin with pride for a picture (that won’t be posted on social media!). I want to plan out my year for 2018 and finally get around to cleaning the back room. I want to do a puzzle and wrap presents and decorate the tree. And I want to do all that without anyone else knowing what I’m doing.

 

So back to my original question…if it isn’t on social media, did it really happen?

The answer is a resounding YES. Yes it does. My family will be LOVING life and snapping a million pictures and celebrating advent and enjoying one another. Mama will be getting stuff done and also just resting, free from the chains of social media.

 

The most common response I get when suggesting a break from social media is that it will tamper business/blogging. Indeed, it probably will. I doubt I will gain any followers on Instagram or Facebook during my 6 week hiatus. In fact, I am fully confident that when I come back, I will have lost a large following. However, when I look at the benefits (all listed above) and the downfalls (losing some followers who obviously don’t care much anyways), I can say with full confidence: it’s worth it. 

 

If for whatever reason you need to get ahold of me, I am still alive and somewhat available. My email works, as does my phone. Facebook messenger also works, but you have to message my personal person and not my blog page (I won’t see those). My blog posts will show up on Facebook, but I won’t be seeing the comments over there so if you have something that needs to said, say it in the comments on the actual blog.

 

I will miss you all, but I will back in January better than ever! I am so excited for this wonderful break!

 

 

 

 

Five on Friday: Christmas Lists!

As Christmas is fast approaching, there are so many Christmas lists popping up!

For years I have struggled with the materialism of Christmas, but my gift-loving self just cannot seem to do away with gifts entirely. So as with most things in life, we try to keep it really simple. We spent $25-$30 on each kid (plus all the grandparent gifts and stocking stuffers!), and we find it really adds up and it more than meets the needs of our family. I do love browsing gift lists for ideas for my kids, and I’ve found some gems while reading through some of these lists! I am hoping this list can be the same for you…whether you have a preteen, a preschooler, a baby or an impossible to shop for husband!

Since we have such varying ages and genders, I have a hard time choosing gifts for my crew! I thought I would just share one thing from each of our wish lists and maybe I’ll do this every Friday until Christmas!

  1. The Husband. Theo is the hardest person to shop for. I mean…the hardest. But this book is right up his alley! 
  2. Myself. I’m a sucker for lists and pretty books and planners. I refuse to buy my planners online, because I have to be able to open it and see it myself. But this book? I’ll take it! 
  3. The Preteen. I have to roll my eyes and chuckle at the list that my preteen came up with…but this is what she wants! Who is Pusheen the cat? I honestly don’t know. But apparently we need all things Pusheen floating around my house. 
  4. The Preschooler. We can’t go wrong with Play Dough, am I right?
  5. The Baby. Kiah is really into touch and feel books right now, so this one looks adorable! For some reason he is terrified of animals in person, but he seems to enjoy looking at them in books. Go figure! 

I’d love to hear…what do you have on your Christmas lists? I need some more ideas!

Hosting on Airbnb: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I have gotten LOTS of questions about Airbnb, so I thought I would write out a post about our experiences so far.

About a month ago, we finished renovating our basement apartment.

Our very first apartment was in someone’s basement and although our first year of marriage was challenging, I have such great memories of the time that Theo and I spent there. We have always wanted to buy a house that has an option for an “in-law suite” or a rental income. In fact, when we first moved into our house we had four bedrooms and one child, so we rented out two of the bedrooms in our home to some ladies who needed a local place to live. It worked out great for us, but we weren’t able to do t hat once Abby came to live with us.

When we first bought our house, we knew that we wanted to renovate the basement and turn it into more living space to use as a rental property for supplemental income. Since we live in an area that has many colleges and universities, we knew it would easy to find someone to rent the apartment out to for a year or so.

As our basement reno came to a close in October, we knew we probably weren’t going to find a student renter, since it was already halfway through the semester. And that’s when we got the brilliant idea to list our apartment on Airbnb. We figured we would give it a try and see how it worked.

 

The Good 

  • Airbnb is a FANTASTIC website/company to work with. They make everything so easy. Seriously- it took me maybe 20 minutes to list our apartment from start to finish. Airbnb takes a small cut of each guest staying, but it usually ends up being something tiny like $4-$7. They literally handle everything and keep everything secure. Guests don’t even receive our phone number or address until they day they are arriving. I have nothing but good things to say about the Airbnb service. I HIGHLY recommend it for traveling or even if you want to host!
  • We have gotten so many bookings! We are on booking #5 after being open for less a month. We have two more upcoming bookings. In October, we were open for just one week and made over $100. In November, we are open for 3 weeks and will make close to $450. Our November calendar was booked solid and has only 4 days of the month that people are not staying.
  • We love having complete control over the space and the calendar. If we were renting out to a student, they would have the space for an entire year and we wouldn’t have any access to it. With Airbnb, I can reserve the space for myself so that when my parents or friends want to visit, they can stay down there!

The Bad 

  • We clean each time. If we were renting our space out to a student, they would be in charge of cleaning. But since it’s an Airbnb apartment, we clean it after each stay. It’s not a big deal, but it is one more chore on my list, and it often has to be done right at a certain time between guests. We do charge a cleaning fee for each guest that stays, so I just tell myself I’m being paid to clean down there! It’s also a little unnerving to know people and their stuff and their germs and who knows what else have been down there.
  • We furnish it. Along those lines, we are also responsible for furnishing the apartment. This means that we went out and bought a brand new TV, a new bed, new pillows, stove & fridge and rugs for the floors. We provide towels and washcloths as well as toiletries. It was a rather large start-up price, but we have already recouped most of the money spent on furnishings.
  • Our prices are so low, but the expectations are so high. Even though we are bringing in an income, the price of one night in our apartment is right around $35 (plus the cleaning fee). People are expecting a hotel experience at this very low price, and it often feels like a lot of pressure on me to make sure that they have everything perfect. I just have to keep reminding myself that they are not paying for a hotel and I don’t manage a hotel. I mange my home, and it happens to have an Airbnb apartment in it. If people aren’t happy with that, they can go stay in a hotel…for $100+ a night.

The Ugly 

  • If I’m not careful, it can run our lives. Airbnb runs on reviews. Bookings happen based on reviews for places. Reviews get the spaces listed on the front page. It’s all about the review. As a people pleaser, I want to go above and beyond to make sure that people staying are going to leave an amazing review. This means I’m shushing my children, I’m not letting them run around the house, I’m keeping my kids upstairs in their rooms in the mornings and I’m always worried when someone drops a toy on the floor or starts crying. Here is the thing: I can’t let the apartment run my life. My kids will cry, they will drop toys and they will run around the house. I worry about someone trashing the apartment, or getting sick and I have to clean it. Or bringing bedbugs into the house. Or just hating it and telling all their friends how horrible it was. I get that this is all my in my head and if I could just let it go, it wouldn’t be a problem. But as a Type A planner, I do really struggle with this. It has brought a lot of pressure and stress into our house that I don’t want to be there.

So overall, we are really enjoying our experience with Airbnb. It has it’s challenges and it has had a very steep learning curve at the beginning, but I think we are finally starting to get the hang of it.

Do you have any questions about Airbnb or our experience with it? I’d love to answer any questions!

 

P.S. Family and Friends…you are always more than welcome to stay and we won’t even make you pay! That is the beauty of having an apartment that we control the calendar. We are more than happy to host!

 

 

 

 

It Has Been 6 Months

6 months ago, I answered the phone and my entire life changed.

We said yes.

It seemed crazy. It still does.

But we said yes.

 

Back then, my ear pressed against the phone, I wasn’t sure I could say yes. I wasn’t sure I could do it.

“6 months” they said.

6 months I told myself. I can do that. We can do that.

Well.

Here we are.

6 months.

 

…………………………………………

Summing up what we have learned in the past 6 months would be almost impossible to do in words.

We have all learned, we have all grown.

Our girl, our Heavenly- she is thriving. While it has been a very steep learning curve for her, I could not be more proud of her and what she contributes to our family. From the first days of total unknowns, to coming out of her shell and charming one and all with her vivacious personality. On Sunday she declared that she was so thankful she gets to live with us.

The first months were hard (gosh darn it they are still hard)- we struggled with food, with sleep, with TV and with creative brain engagement. We struggled with bonding and dealing with BIG emotions and handling trauma and learning how to respect elders and how to wash dishes and how to get an allowance. We have been through all of that together.

Theo and I- we are still adjusting to parenting a pre-teen that isn’t ours. So many conversations, so many eye rolls, so many tears. So many prayers. We have butted heads more over parenting Heavenly than our other two children combined. It can certainly take a toll on a marriage, but we have decided to band together, work through our differences and I can say that we are better for these past six months than ever before.

Tera is pretty sure that God has given her the best big sister in the whole world and she wants to be Heavenly when she grows up. What Heavenly does, Tera does. What Heavenly says, Tera says. It’s adorable and comical and melts my heart.

Kiah is still indifferent- as in, he knows no difference. Heavenly has been a part of his last six months and therefore she has always been a part of his life. It’s one of my favorite things to see them play together- the dark skin and the white skin, the coarse curly hair smushed up right against the wispy blonde hair. Oh, my heart.

…………………………..

Those original six months that they spoke of? Yeah, not happening. We have been given an additional 6 months (at least) with our girl 🙂

Several weeks ago we had a big meeting and it turns out that even though six months have passed, we are still at square one. It’s as if no time has passed and we are no closer to having a resolution to the case.

Honestly, Theo and I are struggling with this- it’s a large burden to bear. I can’t go into any detail on the blog, but there are some big prayers needed in this situation. I weep as I write this because the situation is all so heart-breaking and I have come to deeply love and care for the one whose heart is most broken. Sin is so ugly, guys. It’s so harmful.

So in conclusion? We are fairly well adjusted. We still have our moments. Usually once or twice a day…but better than the hourly moments we were having at the beginning. We are burdened and struggling a bit with the details of the situation, and we would really appreciate prayers for the whole situation.

 

 

 

We Are A Police Family

Theo has been on the streets for a little over two months now.

People were not joking when they told us this life would be challenging.

It’s the hours and the stress and the steep learning curve.

It’s the fact that when at work, he is 100% married to his work, and unless someone at my house is bleeding out or being rushed to the hospital, there is not any emergency at home that qualifies as a reason for him to be present with us instead of at work.

Continue reading →