Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thanks For The Housework.

How weird is it that it's 12:38am yet again... And here I am pondering and writing.. Yet again.

This time, I am writing in bed.

And of course, I'm laying here listening to deep breathing. Tonight, it's the sound of my husband.

My strong man seems so vulnerable right now in his sleep. So peaceful. So relaxed.

You might not know this about my husband, but he is a very hard worker. He wakes up at 3:30am Monday-Friday and drives a little over an hour to work... Works until 2:15pm and does it all over again the next day. By the end of the week, he is exhausted mentally and physically. I see hard work all over his body by the end of the week. Back aches, sore feet, fatigue. He does it all for us. He sits in a vehicle a little over 2 hours a day.. Stands on his feet 8 hours a day.. And helps me with the kids after work about 5 hours a day. He endures it all.. For us.

He would never brag to you about his work ethic. He would never tell you how tired he is.. Or how sore he is. He just does it. He does it because of love. He does it because he looks at his three girls (myself included) and he knows we need him. I'm not one of those ladies that will say, 'I don't need him. I want him.' Now, don't get me wrong. If I had to take care of my children alone, I would fulfill my responsibility, but in this moment of time (and hopefully forever-- my husband is my best friend).. I need him.

I need his help. I need his hard work. I need his love. I need his patience. I need his encouragement. I need his trust. I need his faithfulness. I need his support. I am a stay-at-home mom and I don't think my husband will ever understand how that completes me.. And I couldn't do it without him.

However, while I think about all that I need.. I think of him.

He needs my encouragement. He needs my support. He needs my love. He needs my faithfulness.. He needs my help (we are a team.) He needs my trust. He needs my patience. And most importantly--- he needs my thankfulness.

I know some women might look at me and think I am stuck in the 'old days.' I am a firm believer in staying home, taking care of the kids, doing the laundry, washing dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and whatever else it takes to care for my husband and my children. I am not saying all women have to follow in these footsteps... It's just what I feel is meant for me. I feel blessed being able to do this. And I am blessed because of my partner.

He has made this life for me and I feel like sometimes I take it for granted. I get upset when laundry piles up or the dishes need washed. And why? This is what I have always dreamed of. He works SO hard for me... And I complain about just simple tasks.

I refuse to let my husband feel under appreciated. I refuse to make him feel like his work goes unnoticed.. Or that I am ungrateful.

Thank you, husband, for all that you do for your girls and me.  You are the backbone of our family.. My support.. My motivation.. My love. Thank you for being the hard working man that you are. It does not go unnoticed. I am sorry if I ever seem ungrateful. I love you and appreciate you more than I could write in this blog.

Ladies, if you have a hard working man (regardless of whether you stay at home or not) please thank him today. They are few and far between and they deserve our admiration.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

You Trusted Me

12:38am and I'm sitting in the recliner in our living room rocking both of my babies to sleep. This is a rare occurrence considering Tayler (my oldest-- almost 3) hates to be cuddled anymore. However, she heard me out here rocking her little sister to sleep and thought she absolutely needed to join. 

I can hear Quinn (my 8 month old) breathing deeply and I can feel Tayler rubbing my arm as I rock.. And rock.. And rock. It's quiet. Dark. Perfect for thinking. Perfect for thanking.

We always say our prayers before bed and last night was no different. Ethan and I both shared in what we were grateful for and he caught me off guard when he prayed, '... And Jesus, thank You for trusting me with my girls. Thank You for thinking enough of me to give them to me.' It struck something in me.

Of course, I've always known God gave me my two littlest sweethearts. That was no shock, but to think of it in terms of God trusting me with them.. That was a whole new level.

I close my eyes and I picture Heaven. Heaven in 2010... The year Tayler was created. I picture God crafting her.. Taking His time. She is special and so unique in her own way. I know He worked carefully. She is beautiful and so smart. 

And I picture Him picking us out.. Telling her.. 'See those people down there? They're the ones I picked for you. I trust them with your life. I trust them to love you. I trust them to take care of you. I trust them to give you baths, wash your clothes, to make sure you have a warm home, and food to eat. I trust them to teach you new things and I trust them to give their whole hearts to you. I trust them to give you kisses... And lots of them. I trust them to snuggle you and care for you when you're sick. I trust them to tuck you in to bed and wake you up with breakfast. I trust them to stay up late and get up early. I trust them to adore you.. Like I adore you.'

And I picture Him perfectly crafting her.. And Him sending her to us on March 31st, 2011. She changed my life.

He trusted me with her.

Then I close my eyes and I picture Heaven in 2012.. The year our sweet Quinnie was created. I picture God molding her. She has such a gentle spirit. Warm. Welcoming. Loving. Her smile can light up an entire room. She is special and unique in her own way. 

And then, once again, I picture Him picking us out. I picture Him telling her, 'I trust them to protect you. I trust them to risk their lives so that you can still breathe. I trust them to work hard for you so you don't have a worry or care in this world. I trust them to give you advice and show you love and kindness. I trust them to love you unconditionally like I love you. I trust them to have you... Like I have had you.'

And I picture Him blessing us with her on May 2nd, 2013. That little girl brought our family closer.

He trusted me with her.

I think sometimes as parents, we forget this. We forget that He didn't have to send these sweet babies to our arms. There are billions of people in this world that He could have chosen, but He looked in to your heart.. Your eyes.. Your soul.. And chose you. 

Honor that today.

Look at those babies who are probably sleeping soundly right now and realize what a treasure they are. Sometimes we get so caught up in the struggles from day to day that we lose sight of the gift that lived within us (or the gift that was given to us.) 

Love your babies. Cherish them. It's moments like these in the quiet that I realize how many times I take my girls for granted. Frustration causes my vision to cloud and I forget.... He trusted.... Me.

You trusted me, Lord. You trusted me with these precious, sweet, innocent babies. Let me honor that trust. Let me be the best Mommy I can be because they deserve it. Because they don't know unkindness or disloyalty or unfaithfulness. Because they don't know busyness or malice or bitterness. Help me be the woman you entrusted.

Your servant.

Help me today to remember. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back at 2013.

According to Facebook, my top posts of the year were:

1. THANK THE LORD. Our appraisal on our house passed AND the money was disbursed for the amazing couple that is purchasing our home which meanssssssssssss.... we are closing in THREE WEEKS!!!!! I know, we are nuts! It's going to be super busy between now and May. Photo sessions... preparing for Quinn... Easter... packing... finding a place to live.. moving... hospital stay once I have Quinn... Please just pray that we find a place that is PERFECT for our family, that is affordable.. and that all goes smoothly the next few weeks. We appreciate it.. and we definitely appreciate all of the prayers thus far. I am just sooo excited for this new chapter in our lives and I am really excited for the couple that is buying our home. Our realtor said they are SO excited which makes me even more excited.

Looking Back: We ended up closing on our house the day I turned 37 Weeks pregnant. We had the house entirely packed and ready to move. We found a gorgeous 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment to rent and moved in on April 17th, 2013. We unpacked and were ready to go before Quinn arrived on May 2nd, 2013. 

2. I gave birth to the most perfect baby girl (in 2013 of course) at 3:50 this morning! She was 6lbs 12oz and 21" long. Quite a funny labor story I will share later, but she is absolutely amazing! I can't stop crying. Big sister was asleep when Quinn was born, so she will get to see her tomorrow I am so happy and I feel so blessed!! I have had my shower.. Now it's time for a nap!!! thanks for all of the prayers. We are so in love!!!

Looking Back: We were so blessed with the birth of Quinn. She has changed our lives in more ways than one. Her birth is one that I will never forget. She wasn't breathing when she was born due to her umbilical cord being around her neck two times, but thank You Jesus that she came when she did and we were blessed with a healthy girl! 

3. -- I can't remember a time my parents ever raised their voices at each other. I can't remember a time where my mom or dad disrespected each other in front of me. I can remember my dad being there when we got home from school with supper ready. I can remember my parents being at every school event for me. I can remember my parents being one of the first people to hold both of my girls. I can remember watching my parents play with Tayler. I can remember prayers at bed time, letters before going to school to take tests, and the building of a friendship as opposed to just a parental/child relationship. This is what I remember over the past 26 years. I know it hasn't always been easy for my parents, but I have to say they have shown me how to raise my children. They have been an incredible example of faithfulness.. and love. Happy 26th wedding anniversary Mom and Dad! Ethan, Tayler, Quinn, and myself love you guys so much!

Looking Back: My parents have been more than parents and grandparents to my family-- they have been friends. They have helped us when no one else would in certain situations. We are so blessed to have them active in our lives... and our girls are blessed even more to have such an amazing Papaw and Gigi!

4. You know, Ethan and I don't have a perfect relationship. We've had our fair share of obstacles in the 4 years we have been together. We had to learn about each other's habits quickly. We had to adjust to living with someone who was just as stubborn as we were. We've had arguments. We've had fights. We've had moments where we have said things we didn't mean. We've slammed doors. Taken breathers. The only difference between us and those who let these things destroy them is: We make a decision to choose each other every single morning. When I wake up, I choose him. I choose to let our love override any 'bad' thing that might come our way. I choose to remain faithful to him. I choose to do small things for him through out the day. I choose to uplift him. I choose to pray for him. I choose to trust him. I choose to be his best friend. We don't have it all together. We aren't rich. We don't have the biggest house. We sometimes barely make it. But we LOVE. We know no matter what, we will wake up in the morning and choose each other all over again... even if we went to bed on not always perfect terms. We know we will wake up and choose our family over anything else. We know we will strive to be a loving husband and wife.. because our children deserve it. I'm very thankful that I have a teammate. Someone that helps me.. he doesn't just go to work. He comes home and helps me with things around the house, with our kids, with my photography. I don't know where I would be without him. It hasn't always been an easy road getting to this point in life, but I'm thankful despite the troubles, it led me to this. I know I don't always says it enough, but I appreciate my husband more than he will ever know.    

Looking Back: I wrote a lot of mushy posts about Ethan in 2013. What can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic and I'm in love. Some people say I put too much on Facebook.. I say too much.. but words are my outlet. That's the only way I know to explain how I am feeling. 

5. I know you all are probably sick of seeing videos of my child talking, but when you pray so hard for so long.. And you see progress and blessings, you have to share them with everyone! She is talking so much anymore and I couldn't be more grateful :) I've never heard her say any of the 'Yo Gabba Gabba' characters until today. And to that I say-- Lord You are so good!!!!! This is beautiful to hear!!!!

Looking Back: God has blessed us so much in 2013! We were so concerned at the beginning of the year because Tayler was not communicating very much... and then out of no where, she starts learning her letters, her numbers, songs, Yo Gabba Gabba characters... slowly, but surely she is learning to communicate with us verbally and I couldn't feel MORE blessed this year!!!

6. 3 years ago today, I said 'I do.' I was 23 years old. I had no idea what marriage meant. I had no idea the 'commitment' that would come from it. When we had our first argument after being married, I thought, 'Holy crap. I can't just break up with him. I can't just walk out that door and act like this never happened.' This is a promise. A vow. Before I got married, I always wondered how it worked. How can you pick one person out of the billion of people walking this planet and think, 'Yep, I am going to love you forever. Through thick and thin. Through life's changes. Through rock bottom and sky high.' How is that possible? Then I found Ethan. I saw how he could make me want to pull my hair out in the morning.. And I'd still find myself searching for him in a room full of people at night. I realized then that it is possible to love someone forever because I understood that loving someone isn't conditional to circumstances or behavior or looks. It's a connection. That feeling in your soul when you look at them and you feel safe... Alive.. Happy... And home. I'm thankful it only took me 23 years to find that. Happy Anniversary, Ethan. Thanks for finding me! I love you!!

Looking Back: A perfect ending to our year. Our 3 year wedding anniversary was on December 28, 2013. These are the only things I knew to say. We aren't perfect, but we are in love. I'm so thankful I married him 3 years ago!


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Monday, December 30, 2013

Subtracting in 2014.

A New Year is quickly approaching us and I am sure everyone is starting to analyze their lives. They are embracing what worked for them in 2013 and attempting to fix what didn't work for them in 2013. I've always been one to make resolutions. I've also been one to never keep a resolution either. Laying in bed last night, I thought about why I can't keep my resolutions. They're typically simple ones...

lose weight, be a better Mother, be a better wife, spend more time with friends, get organized, save money

But they end up moving to the back of my mind as the year progresses and I forget what I'm striving for. I lose sight and I fall in to my old routines. It's frustrating.

Then I realized what my problem is.

I struggle with ADDING to my life. 

I need to be SUBTRACTING so I can SLOW DOWN.

I wish I could tell you where the past 3 years went since I had my first daughter. I really do. I remember bringing her home from the hospital on April 3rd, 2011 and I look over at her now singing and dancing to a song on 'Yo Gabba Gabba' and I sigh. How did that happen? 

I wish I could tell you where the past 8 months went since I had my second daughter. I really do. I remember bringing her home from the hospital on May 5th, 2013 and I look over at her now playing with toys, giggling, and laughing at her sister and I sigh. How did that happen?

I wish I could tell you where the past 4 years went since I met my husband. I really do. I remember hearing his voice for the first time on December 23, 2009 and I look at us now and see a couple that has struggled and survived, had two beautiful little girls and I sigh. How did that happen?

Life is fast.

I remember graduating high school like it was yesterday... and then I hear someone talking about '2005' and I realize that was almost 10 years ago. I'm nearing 30.. when did that happen?

Life is fast.

And so I want to start SUBTRACTING from my life instead of ADDING. I want to slow down. I don't want my resolutions to be more work. I want them to be less work, but more beneficial.

What am I subtracting from my life in 2014?

1. I am subtracting negativity from my life. As the saying goes, 'Ain't nobody got time for that!' Seriously, I don't. I am so tired of negativity whether it be from my own mind or those around me. Negativity is a poison. It is a disease and it will eat you alive from the inside out. I'm so sick of being that person. Of being the person that automatically jumps to the worst possible conclusion out there. Of being the person that listens to junk from other human beings. If you want to be a Debbie Downer, that's on your own time, but no more coming to me with it. I am subtracting negativity from my life in 2014.. that way POSITIVITY can be added! 

2. I am subtracting social media. No, not entirely.. (are you crazy!) but I am subtracting it in the evenings. It's sad how a 'movie night' in our family, I still have my I-phone right next to me. No more. As I previously said, my babies are almost 3 years old and 8 months old.. do I really want them to remember their Mother as the person that constantly had her phone/laptop in front of her face? No way! I want to be spending time with them... looking at their little toes, hearing them giggle, playing 'airplane' (my almost 3 year olds favorite), counting, learning, playing outside, taking walks, enjoying movies as a family. I am subtracting social media from my life in 2014.. that way FAMILY TIME can be added!

3. I am subtracting clutter from my life. I look around at our 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment and ponder, 'Why did I even begin to think that I could fit all of this CRAP into this place!' I am serious. There is junk everywhere. It's craziness! I wouldn't say I am a hoarder, but more like a 'sentimental snuggler of all things precious.' Yes, I hold on to everything. Decorations from Tayler's 2nd birthday, napkins from a random party, receipts from 3 years ago that do not matter (am I going to get audited for a meal at Burger King?), wires and cords from devices that we haven't had since Christmas 2010, 9600000 plastic bags... It's serious, folks. So, in 2014, I promise to subtract clutter.. that way ORGANIZATION can be added! (I am starting today!)

4. I am subtracting YELLING from my life. I know, I'm sure you are all giving me a really weird look right now, but this is something that has been weighing on my heart. I am so sick of being a 'yeller.' I am not a loud yeller by any means, but a stern. I hate being that person. I yell at my husband, my daughter, random objects laying around the house.. I feel like my 'yelling' breeds hostility and a negative environment. No more. I want to be a gentle speaker. I don't want my daughters to look back in 15 years and think, 'Man, Mom yelled a lot.' Now, please don't get me wrong here. I believe in discipline. I don't mean that. I just mean yelling during simple moments. Tayler accidentally spills a drink, I yell. Ethan drops a plate, I yell. I refuse to be that wife or mother starting today. I am subtracting yelling from life so PEACE can be added!

5. I am subtracting my photography business from my life. Not the entire business, but a great deal of it. I am slowing down. No more staying up til 2AM to get editing done. No more 50 photo sessions in a month. I am downgrading. Of course, the money is nice, but I am a different person and I hate that. I'm a grump. I'm moody. And I don't use my camera to capture my children. Please don't get me wrong. I love taking pictures. It is a huge passion of mine, but I am getting so lost in the 'business aspect' that I'm not being the wife OR mother that I could be. My house is a disaster. (Or I guess WAS a disaster. I've been on break since December 17th) The laundry was behind. My children never saw their mother. My husband only got ranting and moodiness. No more. I'm cutting back because I want to ENJOY my life. I am so tired of being stressed out. I used to enjoy it, now I dread it.. and that is changing. I am taking on less photo sessions during the month so I can spend more time with my kids. I am subtracting business from life.. so CAPTURING MOMENTS WITH MY CHILDREN can be added!

6. I am subtracting busyness from my life. I guess this can go along with #5, but I'm talking about busyness in general.. for my husband myself. I want to be able to spend more time with my family and friends. I want to make time to see my extended family, my husband's extended family, our friends. I feel like in 2013, we were just TOO busy. And that's a shame because when we pass on from this life, we aren't going to be laying there thinking about our jobs, our money, our extracurricular activities.. we are going to be thinking, 'I just wish I'd spent more time with my family.. my friends.' That's changing for the Bay family in 2014. We are going to cut back on extracurricular things.. so FAMILY/FRIENDS can be added!

Life is short. The Bible says that it is like a vapor.. it's here and then it's gone. What do you want to remember when you pass on from this life? Your job or your family? Your negativity or your ability to embrace the positive? What do you want your family and friends to remember of you? How busy you were? Or how welcoming you were?

I'm making some changes in 2014.

These are the things I want to SUBTRACT from my life in 2014!

How about you??

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