January 17, 2016


By Crissa
Introduced by Amy

Friends! Long time, no blog. I have definitely been forced to choose priorities for the past 9 months, cause, thanks to a busy three-year-old and one-year-old, as well as a case of pregnancy-induced hypothyroidism, I have been EXHAUSTED. So, I've only focused on accomplishing three things: keep my boys from killing each other, cooking more dinners, and slowly working on decorating our new house. But, my baby will be here soon, soon, soon (I'm so excited!...And terrified!) so in the spirit of pregnancy, babies, and being overwhelmed (haha) I'm sharing a post written by my friend, Crissa, who is a momma of 4 kids, including twins. Crissa's older brother was one of my best guy friends in high school. (One of a few guys I was actually comfortable with...I had some pretty bad anxiety about guys and dating!) I spent a lot of time hanging out at their house, watching random movies (Monty Python stands out...what a glorious classic!) and eating M&Ms. They had a big, fun family, with kids close together in age...therefore, my buddy's sisters, Crissa and DaNae also become good friends.

I'm in awe of Crissa's experience carrying, delivering, and raising twins, while caring for two other kiddios. (Kinda puts my own third trimester misery into perspective!) I'm excited she was willing to share a peek into her life with us! :)
Hi! I’m Crissa Butler. 

I got my bachelors degree at BYU-Idaho in Art with a photography emphasis. I once thought I wanted to run a “photo” daycare (daycare that also focuses on capturing the moments of the kids, and making some sort of photo book or something to send home with the parents), but I now know that a daycare business would not be my cup of tea, or hot chocolate... I LOVE hot chocolate, way more than tea. ;) I have been married to my best friend and forever love, James, for a little over 7 years, and love this fun adventure we are sharing together.

Two years ago, we received some of the craziest, but also some of the most wonderful news that would change our lives forever: we would be having twins. We now have 4 little people ranging from 6 years down to 20 months that we are so grateful to be able call ours. This is our story.

When I was 6 weeks along, my husband and I ran in the Grand Teton Relay. I was pretty sure I would be pregnant when I committed to it, but wanted to do a relay like that so bad, and really wanted to get into shape. Over the span of less than 24 hours, I ran (if I remember right) around 14.1 miles (only throwing up 2 or 3 times!). I was never big into running before, but sometimes I wonder if it’s because I was in such great shape that we ended up with twins… It wasn’t really a statistical thing that I would end up with twins: I’m a small, possibly underweight, not-really-in-my-genes gal.

When we did the GT Relay, I was somewhat showing… mostly just the “I look a bit fatter/bigger than normal.” But I was ONLY 6 weeks. I didn’t usually show very early, and I got big much faster this time. James and I discussed the, “What if it’s twins?!” early on, but I pushed that aside after having the first ultrasound at 12 weeks. Not long after, my dad asked me how far along I was. I asked him (obviously unfairly) how far along he thought I was. His response was much higher than I actually was… possibly even halfway! WHAAA? We may or may not have discussed the possibility of twins at that time, but the memory has faded somewhat for some reason.

On November 25, at just over 20 weeks, and three days before Thanksgiving, our little family went in for the gender ultrasound. I was told to drink a BUNCH of water beforehand so that my bladder was nice and full for the ultrasound. We waited for what seemed like FOREVER in the waiting room. When we finally got back, I was prepped for the ultrasound, and my Dr. came in and said, “I hear you’re quite uncomfortable right now…” I’m like, “Yeah… I might pee all over this table!” He got the ultrasound monitor going, and we were all looking at the screen, and he stopped for a second and said, “Have we done an ultrasound on you yet?” I was like, “Yes, I was about 12 weeks…” James and I both knew something must be up… He said, “Well… how do you feel about two babies?” We both said something like, “Are you serious?!” With another response soon afterwards from me, “We’re gonna have to get a new car!” On the monitor that day, all we saw were two little baby heads, along with my VERY full bladder! The doctor left the room, and allowed me to relieve myself before we went in his office to ask any questions we had.

After we received the news, we both had smiles of shock and excitement. So many feelings and thoughts ran through our heads, and we were mostly quiet… unsure of how to express what we were feeling. The OB sent us to a specialist who we hoped we could see that week, but I ended going myself to see 8 days later to find out we would be having 2 boys, and they were both healthy. Even now we sometimes look at our boys and say, “Do we seriously have twins?! Are you really twins?”

It’s kind of hard to explain the hardest things and the best things. There was SO much hard for the first year—especially the first 6 months. When my boys were newborn and little, it was hard to balance between taking care of my two girls and giving them enough attention, and all the demands that TWO newborns bring. My girls were really young when the boys were born, so they weren’t able to help as much as if I had had at least one of them a little bit older to help out more. I was grateful that my girls loved playing together, because they are so good at entertaining themselves, that it helped (and sometimes still helps) me to not feel so guilty when I couldn’t give them as much attention when I needed to take care of the boys. We are at a pretty good stage right now. The hardest part is probably how busy all of our kids are—the boys are into everything! Going out feels pretty crazy. However, the boys are starting to talk more and more, and all of our kids play together. I absolutely love watching the boys interact because they are so different from girls, and they are also best friends and worst enemies. There is always some craziness to each day, but I love that our kids will always be good friends because of their closeness in age.

A lot of people say that their transition from 2-3 was the hardest, and I had a few people tell me that their transition from 3-4 was the very hardest. When we found out it was twins, I was like, “Well, great! We get all of that!” I know that might sound super pessimistic, but I was just SO nervous for when they’d actually come. I know that other moms have talked about being nervous for a new baby to come, and since we found out over halfway through my pregnancy that we were actually having twins instead of just one baby, I wasn’t sure if I would have handled it better if we had known earlier… I think it was more of a blessing to not know (for sure) before that. James and I say it was probably one of the most difficult transitions from 2 straight to 4 with our oldest being 4.5 years old. None of our kids were old enough to do a ton to help out, although Kiely did help out probably more than most 4.5 year olds would.

When the boys were born, Charlotte had a cold, had been replaced as “baby” by the boys, and we didn’t let her to get very close to, or to hold the babies for probably a couple of weeks! That was so hard. She and Kiely were (and still are) like best friends, so that eased the burden there a little bit. For the first 6 months, my days were filled with diaper changing, feeding babies, pumping to feed babies, washing bottles, rocking babies, and an occasional story or watching a movie with my girls. I am grateful for my girls being willing to help out in the ways that they could, and being patient with me.

I am especially grateful for my husband, who after a long day, would come home and help with cleaning, making dinner, or taking the girls on walks/to the park. I know I couldn’t make it without him!

Probably the most difficult thing for me was feeling stuck. Going out was (still is somewhat, but not NEAR as much) a chore. Occasionally, people would invite us to the park, or to different things, but most of the time, it felt like it would be more stressful than it would relieve any stress. Every once in a while, my in-laws would call on a Sunday afternoon, or my mother-in-law on a random day would call, and they would come down and watch the kids while James and I went to the park to go for a walk for maybe an hour, and sometimes, on those evenings during the week, we’d stop on our way back home and get an ice cream cone. Looking back, those mini-dates were so needed for both of us, but especially me. It was so refreshing to get out, get a little exercise, and have some adult-conversation with my sweetheart on topics other than kids and babies.

To quote from one of my journal entries from April of this year, “This past year (plus a little) has been one of—if not THE hardest of my life. It’s also something that not many understand. Doubling your kids from 2 to 4 is NOT easy! That has probably been one of my biggest battles. Having one baby after you have another child is tough to figure out—figuring out how to take care of both, giving them both the attention they need—but then doubling that by adding two more babies is a whole different ball park! I still have people say all the time to me, “I don’t know how you do it!” or “I don’t know how you get anything else done!” to which I say, “I don’t know either!” We have definitely gotten out more this year as a family and it has been so NICE to not feel stuck in our little apartment. When we are at home, things are kind of crazy, but we find little moments that we just savor, and those are what help get us through the rest.

As for labor and delivery, I don’t think I progressed a whole lot before the boys were born. I honestly don’t remember what stage I was at at my last appointment… But I definitely was sore! I felt ready to be done being pregnant when I was around 30 or so weeks. I was sore everywhere, especially my lower back and of course my belly… My belly sat on the chair with me when I was sitting, and I still had baby in my ribs. When I did walk, I waddled horribly. I’m pretty sure my pelvic bone got cracked, which is not cool. One of the craziest things about having twins for me, was that twins automatically define your pregnancy as “high-risk.” By the end of my pregnancy, I had 2-3 doctor appointments a week in Idaho Falls, and we live in Blackfoot (half an hour away). It was winter, and those drives weren’t my favorite sometimes… and honestly, by the end, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch/in my chair, and relax. I was never put on heavy bed rest, but was told to “take it easy.” I couldn’t sweep, mop, vacuum, or unload the dishwasher. I really couldn’t even wash the table very easily by the end. It felt crazy, but I relied a lot on my 4.5 year old for help. It was when we found out that we were having twins that we realized why Kiely came first. She is a GREAT big sister and helper.

Throughout my pregnancy, one thing that caused a little bit of stress for me was deciding what was best for me and the babies—should I try to have a “natural” pregnancy, or should I just have a C-section. I did NOT want to have both! I prayed so much to try to figure out what to do. The questions were over around 36 weeks and 5 or 6 days—I got a call from my OB, and he told me that after talking with the specialist, they decided I would for sure be having a C-section, and asked if I wanted to go in on Friday or Tuesday. At first, I said Friday! I was ready to be done in so many ways, and just wanted to have our babies here! After speaking with my husband and thinking about it, I called the nurse and told her to change it to Tuesday… We decided it might be a good idea to have a little more than 36 hours to really prepare to have them.

Hyrum James and Isaac Bryce were born at 37 weeks and 4 days. Both boys were healthy, and neither had to spend time in the NICU. After the boys were born, my OB told us that he was really glad we took the route that we did. Otherwise, we may have had a “scary situation.” When twins are born, there is always double staff (two doctors, two nurses, etc.) So after they delivered the first baby, the second doctor had to climb on the table, and may have even sat on me to pull the second baby out! I’m not exactly sure what was going on inside, but maybe that little guy just wanted to stay nice and warm inside of me still, or something. That day was a crazy day. Trying to figure out how to take care of two babies while drugged up with some serious pain meds wasn’t exactly fun. I fell asleep so easily, which made visits from family interesting. People would talk to me, and I’d go to respond, and fall asleep mid-sentence.

Recovery from the C-section was way different than a vaginal birth. In some ways, because I had so much baby in me, I felt like I was recovering from both… we are so grateful that we received so much help during that time.

I can honestly say, I can’t exactly describe what the first few days at home were like, except extremely hard and crazy! My husband took a few days off from work, and we also had our mothers, as well as women from our ward (congregation) at church come and help me during the day after James went back to work for 2-3 weeks. We also had meals brought from women in our ward for 3 weeks! That was so amazing, and I don’t know if I can adequately share how grateful we were for that. I had studied a lot about twins during my down time during pregnancy, and also spoke with some other moms of twins… since I couldn’t clean the house or anything during the day. I had read and also told that it was good to have come people help, but when they come to help, have them clean your house, make freezer meals/dinner for the night, play with the other kids, etc. But my main focus was to be on the twins. I tried my best to do that, but my failure was probably partially in delivery of the message of what I wanted help with. Some women wanted to come just to help with/hold the babies. I was grateful for all the help I received, though, and grateful for the small naps that I got during those days.

The hardest part of the first few days was figuring out what was best for my boys and me as far as feeding, so that we could get the sleeping thing down. I knew they needed to be on a schedule, but also figuring out how to feed them was rough-- I tried nursing them at the same time (which only sort of worked for me), nursing one at a time (which I realized wasn’t an option if I wanted to do anything else for the next year), bottle feeding one while breast-feeding the other, and then ultimately, I chose to pump and bottle-feed both while supplementing with formula when needed. I got a great routine down, and my husband would get up a couple times at night with me to feed the boys for most of the first 6 weeks. After that, he was getting so worn-down, and was tired at work, so we both decided that I was getting the hang of things, so he didn’t need to get up any more, unless I really needed his help.

I fed the boys every 3 hours at first, and then adjusted their schedule as time went on. Yes. I even set an alarm at night. I’m not sure if many people would understand that, but I had to keep them on schedule, even at night, or it would mess up the schedule for the next day or two. Schedules (especially the first year) with twins—and at this point, I would say babies in general—are really important. Having a schedule helped them sleep better, and I got a routine down, where I could pump and bottle feed them at the same time, so I was only up with them for half an hour, and I could get 2.5 hours of sleep in-between each feeding. Eventually, they slept like champions, and were my best sleepers the earliest. Unfortunately, they have fallen out of that habit, and most nights, at least one of them wakes up… I’m working on trying to fix that! ;)

My schedule during the day is often dependent on how my boys slept the night before, for which I’m somewhat grateful that I can be flexible. My husband got a new job within the past few months, and I get up at 5am with him every day to get his lunch ready, give him breakfast (even if it may be cold cereal most days…), and then I either go back to bed for an hour or two, or I get some personal time to get ready and get things done that I want/need to without any of my kids awake. When the kids wake up (which doesn’t seem to be a regular schedule, which I suppose I’m mostly ok with), I feed them breakfast, shower if I hadn’t gotten to that yet (if I slept in), get my kids ready for the day, play with them, read to them, help Kiely with homework, then make lunch and send Kiely off to school. After Kiely leaves, I finish feeding the boys if they didn’t eat all their food yet, and then put them down for a nap. After that, it’s usually “Charlotte and mom time.” We clean, read, play, make cookies, watch movies, etc.! I love this time with her, because before this, she rarely, if ever, got one-on-one time with me. (Sometimes I have other things to do, so I find things to keep her busy by herself—painting, watching a show, etc.)

The boys will nap for 1.5-3 hours, depending on the day. When they wake up, depending on what time it is, Charlotte will either go play with them while I get a few other things done around the house, or I get them up so that we can pick up Kiely from the bus stop. When we get home, I give the boys (and sometimes the girls) a snack to stave them off until dinner, while I make dinner. Maybe someday I’ll be good at slow-cooker meals… I seem to always forget to defrost things, or to put them in on time. I try to have dinner ready between 5-5:30, but sometimes it’s not ready until 6. James gets home from work at 5:20 everyday, and it’s so nice when we can just sit down and eat as soon as he gets home. I have been trying to get my kids on an earlier bedtime. It used to be 8:30, but because of James’ work schedule, I’ve been trying to get them to bed between 7:30 and 8 so that we can have some alone time and get to bed ideally by 9 or 9:30.

My advice to any momma who is expecting twins:

-Rest as much as you can while you’re pregnant—those first few weeks (or months…) are difficult… I don’t think it will make up for the sleep you’ll lose, but you’ll just be glad you did it when you did!

-Decide how you will feed your babies now—it might make the first few days a bit easier. (*I know that some women can’t breast feed for one reason or another, or simply choose not to. Some may not know if they can or not, because this might be their first pregnancy. Pumping with supplementing helped me SO much, because I knew what my babies were getting, and I knew they were getting enough.

-If you’re going to breastfeed: have a GOOD double electric pump (Most insurances will cover this, so check with your insurance to see if they will. Ours didn’t, but luckily my sister had one that she let us borrow. Here’s a similar one: Medela Advanced Breast Pump.

-Have a schedule! I know some moms who were okay with on-the-fly naps/feedings, and I was totally more like that with my first two, but I had 2 other kids besides my twins, and having a schedule helped me and them stay sane. It also allows you, if you’re brave enough, to know that you can leave the house with your babies for X amount of time without needing to feed your babies.

-What you do for one, you do for the other at the same time(ish): change diapers, (whether the other one’s diaper is dirty or not—I did this early on, but not always), rock, burp, feed, etc. This was advice that I got from a stellar twin mom who did an amazing job with her twins (she also had her twins as #3 and #4 in the same amount of time as me).

-Be willing to lean on others. Accept their help when it’s offered. I’m not the best at this, but I almost ALWAYS regret it when I don’t. Not necessarily because when I didn’t, the task I was performing was more difficult, but because I love giving others the chance to serve, and why decline that from them, and not allow them the blessings that come from serving.

-If you have other children: take a moment with them when you can, especially while your babies are little. Once you get out of the really tough stage, your other kid(s) will be bigger, and things won’t be the same, so cherish the moments you have with each child.

-Do what everyone else says to do: make a bunch of freezer meals! I did NOT, and regretted it sometimes. They would have made it much easier on many occasions.

My advice on how others can support a new mother of twins?

-In connection with breastfeeding, if you did/do have an “ample supply” and never had multiples, don’t brag about it. That was something hard for me to hear sometimes, because I DIDN’T have that huge supply. When others would say what a large supply they had (often depending on how they said it, such as, “I had enough milk to feed a herd of cows!” Me in my head: “Well, good for you… thanks for lowering me, because I really can’t even supply the full amount for my two infant children!”). It really doesn’t matter if a mother feeds her baby breast or bottle… we all know the saying, “breast is best,” but really, that’s not always the best option, or even a possible option.

-Don’t doubt her abilities, but also offer help. After finding out we were having twins, ALL THE TIME, I heard, “How are you going to do it?!” How was I supposed to know?! I just knew that God sent us two babies, and because of that, I’d be able to do it. (*Please don’t think that I think that if you don’t have twins that you would be unable to carry or care for them, but that that was just something I held in my heart that was a strength to me…) I also got lots of help in different ways. Sometimes friends or family would take my girls to let them play while I took the boys to appointments, or just stayed home and rested with them. People would stop to see how I was doing, help out at church, etc.

-Think before you say. Many moms get weird comments, but moms of multiples get lots of weird things said to them. I know people get excited to talk to them about their babies, but just think about what you ask/say before you say it… I’ll just leave it at that.

-If you are going to a baby shower/throwing a shower for a mom of twins/multiples: Diapers/wipes are great gifts! Twins/multiples go through TONS! (The first couple months: 18-20+ A DAY—that’s roughly 600 or more a month.)

There is so much more I could say, but I know this is already long. Twins are tough, but they are definitely more of a blessing. If you are a mom to twins or expecting twins, the greatest advice I’ve gotten, and have to tell myself frequently, is to enjoy each happy moment. There is SO much hard, but try to just envelop yourself in the small, happy moments.

Lastly, twins, just like kids, don’t necessarily just all of a sudden get “easier.” Things may get easier in one area, but are difficult in other areas. So enjoy each stage as you can. Everyone will give you his or her opinions, as I have shared some of mine, but do what works for you. Find the groove for you and your family, and roll with it, adjusting as necessary!


Um, wow. Being a momma is always hard work, but all that goes into caring for twins just kinda blew my mind. You are amazing, Crissa!

I hope you enjoyed Crissa's post! Once again, I'm amazed by another normal momma doing everyday things to make an incredible impact on the lives of her family. It takes courage, a pile of patience, plenty of prayer, and a lot of support for each other.

So, other mommas of multiples, what did you totally relate to? Anything to add? And everyone else, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts! :) Do any of you wish you could have twins? I know a good friend who dealt with infertility for years, so when she found out after going through IVF that she was pregnant with twins, she was ecstatic! :)

Have a fab week, friends. Next time I talk to you, I'll be a momma of three. YIKES! Haha...Love to you all! :)

September 20, 2015

Sunday Thoughts: Art and Potty-Training

By Amy

About a year ago, I set a goal for myself: to actually finish a work of art and display it at our regional fair. So naturally I didn't start working on it till 5 days before the fair submission date. Ha! This goal was actually kind of a big deal for me, cause I haven't done much art since graduating with my degree in Art Education about 5 years ago. I have taught plenty of art and done face painting, murals, family cartoon portraits, house portraits, etc for pay, but I haven't done a serious project just for me in a while. My greatest love in all my art classes was head drawing, so I decided it was time to get past my "but I'm so rusty and it will probably turn out hideous--WAHHH" insecurities along with my "but I'm a mom to littles and I'm pregnant and I have no time and I'm just SO TIRED--WAHHHH" excuses and just GET IT DONE. Plus, since moving into our new home, I have a room in our basement where I can leave out my projects and shut the door (baby-proof handle!) and not worry about little hands "helping" or making a huge mess (remember this paint disaster?) therefore, I have one huge hurdle out of the way.

SO. I did it. Now, this piece means a lot to me--I wanted it to embody the love of a mother. It is a picture of Sherie, who is one of my awesome sisters! :) But, I wanted every mom to see it and remember her own perfect mom moments, like the delicious feeling of a sweet sleeping babe in her arms. I wanted to remind others of the divine blessing and importance of being a momma. And, because I wanted this piece to be meaningful and uplifting to others, I prayed before I started and many times throughout, asking Heavenly Father to help me render this piece well enough to portray the meaning I intended. I knew I'd be rusty, and I was expecting that I'd need to work through a re-learning curve--and I was ok with that!--I just wanted the end product to be good enough that I could be happy with it. Cause I didn't have enough time before the fair for a do-over if it tanked! Plus, serendipitously, I found out my sister and her family would be visiting from out-of-state and wanted to go to the fair, so that really made me want to get it finished in time for a fun surprise! :) My parents knew I was working on this project, but my sister didn't.  (It was so hilarious to see her shock at her picture randomly at the fair! Thank goodness she liked it!) :)

But the ironic thing--as I was working on this piece, I was having the hardest time actually feeling fulfilled, positive, and even grateful for motherhood. Ughh, that sounds horrible, I know but, you see, that week, while I tackled this drawing after bedtimes, my daytimes were spent in POTTY-TRAINING. This was my little dude's 2nd week at it...And it was going ROUGH. I'll spare you the details, but I was trying my very best to be positive and upbeat (my boy can be VERY stubborn and emotional) but progress was agonizingly slow and I was sooo tired. Plus, I also have a l-year-old into everything and I'm pregnant... (which means I feel like a crabby 80-year-old most of the time.) So every night, as I went to work on this drawing, I felt like I was fighting, not only my own rusty skills, but even worse, my own frustration with the often thankless, gross, messy, demanding job of being a mom to littles. I didn't feel all warm and fussy about it. But, this was the therapy that God gave me during this week: a time to create a piece that required me to deal with my emotions, pray for peace, and clear my heart and mind so that I could be in the right place to create this art.

There was another disappointment I was dealing with...I found out at my 20-week ultrasound that we are having another boy. Of course, I am SO grateful for a healthy baby!--but it took a couple good cries to deal with my disappointment. I have pregnancy-induced blood clots, so every pregnancy is a big risk for me, so this may be our last. So here I am drawing a picture of a mother and her daughter, trying not to dwell on that special bond that, for me at this point, it looks like I may never experience. But, I listened to a gorgeous little song that truly brought me so much peace and gratitude for my two little dudes and my sweet little fella on the way. :) I was also dealing with enormous guilt that I even care about the gender and that I was feeling anything but gratitude-- but as I listened to this song and drew, I realized that it wasn't that I didn't want this little boy inside of me, NO! I want him so much!!! I was just processing and letting go of the dream of having a daughter who I can share all my girl life experiences with: reading Anne of Green Gables together, getting ready for prom, helping her navigate getting a first bra, talking about boys, helping her as an adult prepare for kids of her own, going on girls' nights, and always helping her feel confident, beautiful, and strong just the way she is. Ya know, those moments where daughters need a mom. (Well, my boys better pick some awesome wives so we can have rockin' girls' nights!!) But, I also thought of the gift and trust God has given my husband and I in raising boys to love and respect others, to be strong men of faith, and to always honor and protect women and children. I do not take this lightly. I am truly am grateful for the chance to raise good men!! :)

So, here I was working every evening with this sweet song and my Heavenly Father melting away my frustrations and lifting my spirits. As I studied my niece's sweet face, my heart softened from the day's drama and I thought about my own boys and the perfect moments with them that shine in my memory. I got lost in the work--the curve of an arm, the light and shadows, the lost and found lines in soft flowing hair--it was highly fulfilling, even though it was so difficult to be re-learning a skill that used to come so much easier for me. I had to be patient with myself--but, it was also wonderful to be creating again! I thought several times, "*Sigh*...I've missed this." :) I felt my kind Father in Heaven bringing back little helpful thoughts from art classes and helping me to try something different when I'd get stuck. Granted, my picture didn't turn out perfect, but I am happy with the end product and proud that I actually finished something! :)

I think that often when we want to accomplish something hard, all kinds of opposition pops up--both from the outside and internally. Procrastination, fear, laziness, ANYTHING can stop us! Whether it's facing potty-training our child or learning (and re-learning) a skill when we know we might fail. But, God wants us to use our gifts and abilities, no matter what they are, to serve and uplift others and ourselves. :) We ALL have much good to offer this world and our families! And what a better place to start than by nurturing and loving our precious little children in our own home? Motherhood matters. Our kids will be the creations we are most proud of when we look back on our lives. Even when there's pee and tantrums and long nights and sore nipples and fevers and worry...We get to feel little sweet arms and hear the cutest little stories and OH the little baby laughs! Most of all, the love we feel. Ya know?

So the title I chose for my picture after this week of simultaneously suffering through (ha!) and loving motherhood, describes the feelings and thoughts I have during a heavenly moment like this:

"It's Worth It."

Love to you mommas, mommas-to-be, and women who nurture others everywhere! What you do matters and is so needed!! I know that God sees us and our daily efforts and loves us for all that we do.

July 19, 2015

Sunday Thoughts: On Following God and Having Babies.

By Amy

Friends. I've been MIA lately.

I miss you and our fun conversations! I hoped you liked the Mommas Makin Moola series--I know I loved hearing from all those mommas!

But then the radio silence. So, with my first post in like two months, I want to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I had my first baby and was humbled and blown away by how much it rocked my world. It was hard. Like, very emotionally and physically draining. My baby cried alllll the time, he couldn't nurse, and I felt like a big, humongous failure at motherhood. After a few months, he chilled out and I chilled out, and life became better--but it was still a long, hard adjustment for me. During that first year, the thought of becoming pregnant again would literally give me anxiety. I repeatedly said, "Other people can have their kids close together. But I just KNOW that I am not capable of having like 4 kids in 5 years. I chose sanity." Then, the year before my second was born, life with my toddler was awesome, and I got excited to have another! (I now see that my first was just a very strong-willed, difficult baby, but he became pretty darn fun as a toddler, then a kid! Plus, I'm just more of a toddler/kid person then a baby person.) Our second baby came 2 1/2 years after the first. Thankfully, the transition from 1 to 2 was MUCH less jarring than from 0 to 1--I had already dealt with the emotional hurdle of becoming a mom. It actually was pretty cool to have two kids! :) I mean, yeah there are crazy moments (ok, more like days) but it's pretty good! And I felt very happy with the age gap. It was just right. I figured I could give it another 2 1/2 or 3 years so we could catch our breath, then have two more with two years between them. 4 kids. Done by the time I'm 34. Perfect. I mean, still challenging, cause kids always are, but manageable.

Then, a funny thing happened. I, who always wanted my kids AT LEAST 2 1/2 years apart, became....pregnant. 

Yep, I am 11 weeks along in my third pregnancy. I feel like I JUST had a baby!!! I kinda did. He's ten months old. My #2 and my #3 will end up being 17 months apart.

I am pretty scared. I would never have chosen this myself. And yet, we weren't "surprised". At least, not by the pregnancy. But, boy was I surprised when my husband and I both started getting little, "You should try to for your third soon." nudges. I was like, "OhhhHHHOOOOHHHH nope. Nope. Nope. Not me, God. I'm not the mom who is good at being chill in the midst of chaos. I am the mom who gets overwhelmed by two kids. I'm the mom who forgets to change one of her kids at least once a day till their soaking through their little shorts. I'm the one who is at her wits end thinking, "Why are you being so cranky, child?" and then I realize, "Oops, I never fed you lunch!" I'm the mom who forgets to sunscreen their baby, and they end up with a sunburn. :( I'm the mom whose body sucks at breastfeeding. I can't even get my 3-year-old fully potty-trained! I am not that good at this. I am absent-minded to a fault and easily overwhelmed. At times, I feel super guilty cause I really miss things I used to do like college classes, dance, and doing art. I don't feel like I'm a "natural" at being a mom. Who in the world am I to handle 3 kids 4 and under?" (Actually, for two months, it will be 3 kids 3 and under. Oh the insanity....)

Yeah, I was not too thrilled with the idea of having another so soon. Truthfully, I was scared that I would just do a terrible job with three littles. That I wouldn't enjoy my kids and be kind and fun with them like I want to, cause I'd just be so frustrated and overwhelmed by the constant needs, the daily tasks, fights, bodily fluids, and monotony of raising toddlers/babies. I don't want to be some raging, scary mom! They don't deserve a mom like that. And I don't want to be a mom like that!

So I pushed the feeling aside for a couple months. My husband actually was the one who often brought up the fact that he felt like it was time and kept encouraging me that everything would work out. Slowly, I started to get a little more guts. I have always wanted to do what God wants me to do and to follow the guidance He sends through the Spirit, and I knew I was putting this one off. I was just preeety scared.

Also, I knew I was being a little prideful. I wanted things MY way. And I didn't want to be looked at like, "Man, all that girl does is pop out babies!" or "Oh jeez, there goes Patrick and Amy, popping another baby out!" Ok, fair warning--anyone who says the "popping out another baby" phrase around me just may get the scary result of my pregnancy hormones. Seriously, my rage will terrify you. NO WOMAN EVER just "pops" a baby out. That makes it sound like it's no big deal. And let me tell you, it is a big deal. Every mom has to make many personal sacrifices. Many women deal with the heart-wrenching struggle of infertility. Pregnancy is HARD and LONG for most. Many women experince the sorrow of a miscarriages.  Labor and delivery is NEVER easy, and can be quite terrifying if there are complications. Then, you actually have an infant, sometimes with health issues, always with their own specific needs to figure out. Seriously, I feel like that phrase is so condescending and disrespectful to the pain, turmoil, and risk that is involved for every mother and baby that goes through pregnancy and delivery. Every baby who makes it here to earth is a miracle, and every momma who brings a baby into the world is a champion. Especially those with the strength to do it many times! Personally, I know that every time I'm pregnant, I have a high chance of developing a life-threatening blood clot. Therefore, it's a decision my husband and I pray and ponder about very carefully. So, no I'm not "popping" out another baby. Say that again, and I WILL pop you right in the mouth.

Ok...rant over. Back to the story....

Finally, I decided to chose faith and trust in His plan for my family and I. So we said, "Ok, let's go for it. Um...next month." Ha! But, as soon as we made that decision, without even consulting a calendar and calculating ovulation like we had to do the other two pregnancies, I was pregnant. Wow. For some reason, God wants this baby here soon. And, it's been a doozy these past 6 months. My husband graduated, started a new demanding job as a physical therapist on the Neuro rehab floor of a hospital, we moved into my parents' basement, we found and closed on a house then moved out of my parents basement 4 months later, we moved into our new home, and we're trying to get us and the boys settled. The last two months I've been dragging my body through a haze of queaze and exhaustion. Hayden is FINALLY willing to work on potty-training, which is a blessing, but also a huge task, with lots of set-backs and my super easy baby suddenly started waking up multiple times a night....which, when you're pregnant and you live with the fatigue of an 80 year old, makes you just distraught. I'm lucky I don't puke much--if I eat every two hours I can keep the nausea at bay. (You ladies that puke everyday...I don't know HOW you do it!!!) My sickness is more of an aching, all-consuming fatigue that makes me so weary, I can barely function in life. It makes me sit down in the shower cause I can't stand any longer. Then I have to take breaks while blowdrying my hair. And, when my child runs off when I'm trying to get him settled in his bed at bedtime, I just lay down on their floor in defeat and cry cause I know I don't have the strength to chase him. And unfortunately, my patience level is not good.

So I went into survival mode. I haven't hung one single picture on the walls of our new home yet (which is VERY unlike me...I LOVE designing my space!) I haven't blogged, I haven't taught any art lessons, I've rarely seen friends, I wear huge stretchy pants every day, I shower WAY less that I'd like to admit, but...we have survived. I feed my kids and myself, I take a nap while they nap everyday, I let my dishes pile till my mom comes and has pity on me and washes them all (*sob*thank you, mom sooo much!!!!) and we STILL haven't bought a couch for our living room. So for more than a month we've been sitting (well, I lay) on the living room floor. Decisions and coherent thought haven't been very prevelant around here. But, ya know what? It's getting better.

I have felt the Savior lifting me through this pregnancy. I feel closer to Him, as I pray with true need for His help everyday. We're pretty much moved into our home, thanks to friends and family who have helped so much! My rock of a husband has come home from long shifts at the hospital and worked for several more hours on things that need to be done around the house--painting, unpacking, organizing, mowing lawns, killing weeds, etc. Sometimes I cry, I'm so frustrated that I can't accomplish anything around the home to lessen his burden. He hugs me when I tell him I'm so sorry I'm so pathetic right now, and tells me to just take care of me and the boys everyday and that's all he cares about. I love that man. Plus he tells me I'm still his cute babe when I look like a greasy weasel, still in pajamas at dinner time. (Which is probably a frozen pizza. Or when it's a nice meal, he came home after a long work day and made it. *sob*)

God has been guiding us. I've made it my goal this year to be more in tune with the Spirit and seek God's guidance. (ha, which goal probably led me to this pregnancy in the first place!) I felt strongly that I should find a doctor who would be good for me, since I'm in a new place and I had some scary complications  in my last pregnancy. So I asked a bunch of ladies from my church on facebook, and prayed to know who I should go to. And one doc's name just stood out. I thought, "Yep, that's him!" And at my first appointment (earlier this week, I was putting it off cause I didn't know who to go to!) he was completely friendly, knowledgleable, and down-to-earth and I felt so at ease. BUT. He said something I REALLY didn't want to hear.

I was bound and determined that I wasn't going to take blood-thinner shots this pregnancy unless I got a bloodclot--there's no reason to take them preventatively, since there was no guarantee I'd get another clot. And I hate taking those shots. Poking my belly with a needle and shooting in stinging meds everyday...*shudder*...not fun. But as soon as I said I'd had a blood clot in my previous pregnancy, he said he wanted me back on blood thinners. Like now. I was a bit frustrated, and wanted to get all huffy, but immediately the thought came to me, "Maybe this is why I needed to go to this doctor. Because he would push me to get on blood-thinners--and maybe I need to be." But, I was still bugged. (My pride!) He said it was our choice in the end, but that was his recommendation. It was sobering to hear that a mom who'd previously had a blood clot came to the clinic he was at during his residency--she was not on blood thinners yet and ended up dying from a blood clot during her first trimester, hence his strong feelings toward preventative blood thinners.

So I went home, thinking about it, and dreading the shots again. Plus, who knew what our insurance would pay for now that we're not poor college students who qulify for wonderful medicaid? These daily shots cost $50 EACH. I still wasn't convinced. But as I pondered and prayed, later that evening I got a clear, strong impression that I needed to start the shots immediately or I would soon have a serious blood clot. YIKES. I knew that thought wasn't from me, cause I DID NOT want to consider that I would have another clot. And I don't usually get answers to prayers that clear and strong! But, really, I was very blessed with my first clot to have no bad effects after the initial month of pain in my leg. I got off easy--clots don't always end so happily. So, the next morning, we called the insurance company, and the generic version of the drug is %100 covered. MIRACLE! I called the doctor's office, they called in the prescription, and I got my first shot that day. I feel sooo incredibly blessed that God got through my stubborn soul and kept me from another blood clot. I need to carry this little baby! I need to be here for my family, cause--as imperfect as I am--I'm their momma and wife.

Anway, so here I am, again pregnant. I'm often so confused at how God times things. Why should we be able to have three kids so quickly, while others I love so much would give anything for one child? Or who ache for a second child to come to their family, but still wait. And I'm over here like, "Too quickly Lord, it's too quick!" It almost seems "in your face" or greedy to let others know that we are expecting AGAIN when they are struggling with infertility. Seriously, it breaks my heart. I feel like I'm an ungrateful jerk that I didn't want to have another yet, when I should be SO grateful that we are able to have another! I feel so guilty when I'm trying to keep the panic at bay when my toddler is throwing a fit on the bathroom floor cause he won't poop in the potty and my baby is bawling at my feet and and wave of nausea rolls over me and my mind is screaming, "And we are having ANOTHER ONE in 6 months?!!!" Like I have any right to think that it's hard to have kids, when others know just how hard it is to NOT have kids. But, I just try to remember, hard is hard. We are all dealing with differnt things, and every stage has challenges.

I also know that my perspective is like an inch at a time, and God sees miles and miles...He sees eternity. I know and I trust that He is guiding us and teaching us. I already know it will be super challenging. I'll probably cry a lot when I have three kids 3 and under. But, I also KNOW it is right. I'm going to grow A LOT. Haha. And our Savior is guiding us and helping us through. He brings me strength beyond my own to pick up my crying baby, calmly persuade my toddler to sit on the potty, and get though the day before I collapse into bed.

So whether those blessings you yearn for come agonizingly slow, or if they come much faster than you're ready for, I guess we just have to trust that God knows what He's doing and has a master plan for our lives. He understands us perfectly. He obviously sees I have much to learn, cause He's putting me in the exact situation I have feared since the day I first became a mom! But, when we let go of fear, and cling to faith instead, He will be there for us. And He sends other amazing people to share our burden!

I love you friends!

>>>Update. Since I obviously was feeling quite crappy when I wrote this, I only wrote a first draft and never published it. 3 weeks later, I am posting this! :) So I am currently 13 weeks, almost 14...wahoo! :) Anyway, I am feeling SO much better. Besides a cold which knocked me flat for a few days (why does EVERY sickness have to hit you harder when you're pregnant? Stinking immune system goes to pot.) I've been feeling pretty good! I have hung up a few pics! We've now got used couches in awesome condition hanging out in our living room! We have a working dishwasher! Miles is sleeping through the night again! Hayden is making progress in potty-training! Life is good. :) I am loving our new home, I'm enjoying my two sweet, silly boys again, singing and dancing (slowly) with them in the kitchen again--everything is so much more doable and happy when I'm not sludging through a haze of intense fatigue, achiness, and stomach pain.

Hayden on the 4th of July!
Sweet Miles aka Doodle!
I am getting more excited for our new baby to come in January. (Maybe a girl??? I'm trying not to get my hopes up, cause we'll love whoever comes, a girl or another boy. :) I feel blessed and grateful that we get to grow our family and add another sweet little spirit, especially one who is so eager to get here! :) I know God will help me and Patty. Three kids 4 and under...whew. But we will make it through. I probably won't get to do much of the other things I'd like to do, which actually makes me pretty sad (make artwork to sell, teach art lessons, take a dance or singing class, blogging, reading, etc) but, ya know, I believe that doing my best to raise my children well is probably the best accomplishment and contribution I could give. Not that I'm giving up on my other passions and dreams, but they will just have to come a little at a time. :)

Anywhooo, I love you guys! Please tell me your stories...how did you know when you were ready to have a baby (or any subsequent babies?) If you have three kids or more, how was the transition to three? Any advice? If you've had kids close together, what do/did you love about it? What is/was the hardest part? Be real with me, but, please give me a silver lining, cause it's too late for us to change our minds! Ha!

June 1, 2015

Mommas Makin Moola #7...Yoga Instructor!

It's that time again!

Here's a post that Sarah is featuring on her blog this week...written by a momma who earns money as a yoga instructor! Pretty cool, huh? Check it out here!

Momma's Makin Moola #7: Yoga Instructor 

Till next week!

May 27, 2015

Momma Makin Moola #6! Kim the Craft Blogger

Hey friends! Time for another...

I love this post. Not just because Kim makes me laugh, (wait till you see her blogging in pjs pic...ha, classic!) but I also love this cause she is addressing a topic that I find pretty fascinating/elusive: making money blogging! It's pretty crazy when you see all the time, hard work, and expertise that truly goes into a blog that makes decent moola. Not for the faint of heart! But, for a creative, tecnho-savy soul, it can be super fulfilling and tons of fun! So, here's Kim's story. Enjoy!

By Kim: blogger at "A Girl and a Glue Gun".

Please tell us about you and your family.

I have three kids...11, 9, and 7...and an overgrown manchild. We live in Chubbuck Idaho. We eat copious amounts of chocolate and spend far too much time making fun of each other.


What do you do to earn money as a blogger?

Publish blog posts. (ha!) Blogging has changed so much from when it started. To make money you had to contact people and get ads on the sidebar and rotate them and jump through a bunch of hoops. Now I just have an advertising team that runs the ads. My only real job is to get people to my blog to see them. The more people that see them..the more money I get. And when I pin..people repin and I get traffic to come over from that...so essentially...I get paid to be on pinterest!! (aka...best job ever)

Why did you start blogging?

My husband was actually commuting at the time...gone for two weeks...home for one. I had a one year old, 4 year old and a 6 year old....So it basically was a sanity saver.--true necessity to keep me out of the nut house. (ironically...I feel like i'm living in the nuthouse sometimes!)

How did you get started?

I had a family blog...and loved it to pieces. I spend so many hours putting together funny posts for it. But when my crafts started to take it over I decided to start a craft blog...(and now my little family blog is sooo neglected!)

What is your work schedule like?

Ah. This one makes me laugh. I probably work about 80 hours a week. I wake up and get the kids off the school and craft and take photos and edit photos and write posts and then get all my social media sent out and answer emails and repeat. I try to really stop when the kids are home from school...but I usually just do crafts with them as well. I run them to dance and soccer and track and try to answer emails while waiting for them to be done! And then when they go to bed and are all tucked in --it's back to the computer I go! (heigh ho. heigh ho.)

What do you love about blogging? 

I love creating. I love to show people fun things I have done and see it get remade. It's a fantastic outlet for me (cause let's be honest...I could redecorate my whole house and the only thing my husband would say is "how much did that cost me?") and I've actually made SOO many awesome blogging friends! And as an extra bonus...free crap! I get fun packages in the mail every week! It's like Christmas all year long!!! 


What do you not like as much about blogging? What is hard?

Um...I get some realllly random emails that I have to respond too...Questions about something I made (and the answer is usually IN the blog post if they would just read it!) Rude comments. And I think the feeling that no matter how much you work...there is always something else that can be done. It feels like it's never ending. My husband gets to clock out at 6 and not think about it again until the next day. I go to sleep thinking about a roundup I can do and how to use this craft product.
oh...and html. it's a $%$&*.

Would you recommend this path to other mommas? Why or why not?

I'm actually pretty torn with how to answer this! Let me start with telling you this: Don't get into it to make money. Do it because it's your passion. If you don't love LOVE LOVE it...you will HATE it quickly. Blogging is a blast. I love that I get to be in my pjs. and go on a vacation without having to get time off...and be home when my kids are sick. But it is a lot of work. and it can be frustrating. You can put so much time and effort into something and then you get zero comments or pins or likes....!


How can a momma know if she is a good fit for blogging? If she is, how can she get started?

Do not think that you shouldn't start a blog because there are already so many--You have a secret weapon that no other blog has--YOU! I think everyone has something unique to add to the blogging world. But it's super duper hard to get your voice heard (or crafts seen)
If you are going to start--I would say--
A.make sure you use AWESOME photos...pinterest has made this such a visual world.
B. Think to yourself, "how can I set myself apart?"
and c. make sure to find yourself some blogging friends. It's so nice to have someone to shoot an email too and ask for help with something! I have a whole group on a hidden secret facebook page where we can just ask questions or promote each others stuff. And honorable mention: join some linky parties to get your blog out there!!!

What do you see as your future in blogging?

I have no idea.
I don't know where this path will take me. I would love to do it for as long as I can. But that being said...who knows in 4 years if it loses it's appeal or other different opportunities arise! I used to paint murals on walls and I want to write a children's book... so I have backups...(I will never get a real 9-5 job! It is just not in me!)

What is your favorite way to recharge and relax?

Uh...blogging? I do read. and I love board games. But I really relax by getting on the computer and getting stuff done. It soothes me to check off stuff on my list of things to do. It's a sickness I tell you!

How do you find balance in your life between home, family, making money, hobbies, taking care of yourself etc?

Let me tell you something I heard, " Balance is Bullcrap" Finding balance is about as elusive as finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You will never feel like you are doing it all...well. Sometimes you are doing it all...and feeling like you are sucking at each thing... There are only so many hours in a day and days in a week. I just try to put the priorities first...blog and kids... (uh..kids first) and if dinner is mac and cheese then so be it! Luckily my husband motivates me to clean the house often enough that I'm not living in complete filth. The only piece of advice I would say is ORGANIZATION. Write everything down. keep everything organized. It saves times and sanity.
AND if anyone finds out the secret to perfect balance in your life...please share!!

Just for fun, what and where would be your dream vacation?

with a pile of books.
and no computer in sight.
Husband can come along I guess.

agirlandagluegun.com  Twitter  Facebook  Bloglovin  Instagram

Ha, I love her. So, are you surprised by how much time a successful blog takes? (She said 80 HOURS PEOPLE!) Pretty mind-blowing. But, if you love it, you're having fun, right? Nonetheless, this is not an easy moola-making route--a blogger who makes money off their blog freakin EARNS every penny they get! I heard a successful blogger once say that for how much time she spends on her blog, she ends up getting paid two dollars an hour(!!!) Ha, personally, I've never gotten my crap together enough to make a dime off of this blog. But, even though I do put a good amount of effort and time into it, I guess I'm not willing to put in the work/time it takes to actually make moola in the blogging world, and that's fine with me. I have a ton of fun and find it super fulfilling to read/share other ladies' stories, as well as sharing my own--on about 5 hours a week. :) I really like that blogging lets me be social while being a SAHM hermit at the same time. Ha!

For the bloggers out there, do you make income from your blog? How much time do you typically spend per week blogging? What do you love/not love about blogging to earn money? We'd love to hear! :)

If you're interested, here's another post by a blogger who realistically shares what goes into making money off of blogging...Cami is my husband's aunt! I love her post and her honesty.

Anywhoo, I hope you loved this MMM edition as much as I! We only have a couple more posts in this series, so stay tuned! :) And if this is your first time hanging out with us here, then--where the heck have you been!? :) We'd love to have you party with us. :) Like SOM on Facebook, and/or follow us on Bloglovin for more stories from mommas like you!

May 21, 2015

Momma's Makin Moola #5! Mother and Writer

By Amy

Hi friends!

I just got back from a trip to Arizona to visit family (a baby and a toddler in the car for 14 HOURS! I know, we must be cray cray!) But it was a wonderful trip! We had so much fun--zoo, waterfights, plenty of toddler boxing matches, lots of delicious food, and lots of board games and funny stories for us adults once kiddios were finally tucked into bed every night.

And the car rides weren't even too terrible! A little crying here and there, but the only real rough patch was the couple hours that I developed a migraine. But I prayed, drank a lot of water, took a bucketload of IBUProfen, and finally the weird eyesight, sensitivity to light, headache, and severe nausea went away after a few hours of sleeping in the car. (If you saw some pathetic lady puking her guts out on the side of the freeway in Arizona or Nevada--that was me. I'm a pretty glamorous person you know.) We had a lot of fun on this trip, though, puking aside. :)

Since I was in Arizona, I missed the Monday post of another...

So here it is, better late than...well, ya know the saying. :) It's an awesome post that Sarah is featuring on her blog this week...written by a momma who works from home as a writer. I love her thoughts on balancing her work and home life. Good stuff! Be sure to check it out. :)

Momma's Makin Moola #5: Mother and Writer 

Till next week! And if you're new to Swag On, Momma, welcome! We'd love to have you keep hanging out with us, so feel free to follow along and come back soon! :)

May 11, 2015

Mommas Makin Moola #4: Abby the Mary Kay Queen

By Amy

It's time for another Momma Makin Moola post, one featuring my college roomie, Abby.

You guys. I love this girl. Seriously, she is smart, kind, loving, an amazing mom, spiritual, and soooo dang funny! Abby and I were roommates while both of us were dating our future husbands. We loved hanging out as couples and laughing till my abs were sore and my face hurt! (Probably WAY too many bodily function stories, thanks to Jacob, Abby's hilarious husband) Ah man, I would love it if they would just live by us forever. :)

Abby's made a successful business for herself, while staying at home with her kids during the day. And so...I wanted her to share her story with all of us! Enjoy!

Please introduce yourself and your family!

My name is Abby and my husband’s name is Jake. He is my best friend and the most embarrassing husband…especially on social media. He absolutely adores me and I him, so it all works out. We have three darling little boys Henry (4), Isaac (2), and James (1). They fill our lives full of happiness, laughter, poop, tears, and so much more. Jake and I both graduated from BYU-Idaho a year ago. I graduated in Elementary Education, and he graduated in Biology. I love teaching and would definitely consider it one of my greatest passions in life alongside motherhood. I guess I like being in charge and influencing young minds.

Why/how did you start Mary Kay?

When we first got married I worked part-time as a Development Specialist for Mrs. Fields/TCBY. Then when we got pregnant with our second baby, the company decided they wanted someone who could dedicate more time to the job. Jake worked really hard to pick up the slack for the next two years as we both finished school. Upon finishing my degree, I was offered a job here in town. It was very tempting because it was at one of the best schools in the district, but I have always wanted to be home with my children. So I decided to stay home, and the first months were bliss. (Especially since I was 8 months pregnant with our third and ready for a rest!) About six weeks after the birth of our third baby boy I was at story time at the library and met a girl who was telling me about how she had just earned a free car and was making money so that her husband could go to graduate school. With Jake headed to a PA program next year my ears perked straight up! I thought it was way too good to be true. We both decided to take a chance on ourselves and start something, and just see if anything would become of it. About 6 months afterwards I earned our first free car, and a couple months later tripled my income by promoting myself to Sales Director. We are so glad we took a chance.

What makes Mary Kay a good fit for you?

Jake and I were on an extremely tight budget, and there is very little risk in starting a Mary Kay business, so that was very appealing to both of us. I loved the idea of creating my own hours and really doing with it what I wanted. I basically work while my children are napping during the day, or sleeping at night. I was worried about the sales part of the business, because I don’t consider myself the “sales type”, but the product sells itself and I already loved it—that also made it a good fit for me. There are no quotas or have-to’s and nobody to answer to. I also love that the business is dual-marketing and not multi-level, so it is very unique in comparison to other sales opportunities. How did you get started? To get started there is a $100 starter kit that comes with over $420 worth of retail product to show at parties and start selling from. There is so much training available to beauty consultants including: online training, in-person weekly training from experienced consultants, an entire scholar program that is recognized by Harvard Business School, and so much more. I am literally in business for myself, but never by myself. There is so much support and training to help in getting started, and I started by holding a couple parties a month showing the product.

Abby's family with the car that Abby earned!
What is your work schedule like? 

I make phone calls during nap time for about an hour. I do a bit of office work as well, but now have a hired assistant who does a lot of the work for me. Then at night I do parties or other appointments 3-5 times a week and they each last about 2 hours. I am now a Sales Director for the company and so I put on a weekly success event for my consultants that lasts about 2 hours where we train, facial guests, and recognize achievements in the unit.

What do you love about doing Mary Kay? 

I love that I get to design my work around the lifestyle that I want, and I also get to make as much money as we need/want. I also love the recognition, the fun jewelry and purses—I love getting things for free that I would never spend on myself. I have always loved influencing children, and although I don’t get to do that directly, I get to make women feel beautiful and be more confident. I train women every week how to be more emotionally, spiritually, and physically there for their children and husbands’. The company was founded on the principles God, family, and then career. So I am in an environment with other women have very similar morals. It is a contagious and exciting place to be and it makes me a better wife and mother. There is no competition in Mary Kay, there is instead a spirit of “Go-Give” where we live the Golden Rule and strive to treat others as we would like to be treated. The list could go on and on.

What do you not like about doing Mary Kay? 

I honestly and truly cannot think of one thing that I do not like about my business. When I first started I would almost hyperventilate to call random people on the phone and talk to them, but as I have overcome that I have become way more confident in myself.

What are you future plans for your business? Is this a temporary thing or more long-term?

I see this not so much as a career, but as a savings and financial pillow for our family. I love the security of knowing that if something were to happen to our family, I could stand on my own two feet financially. I see myself continuing for the long-hall because of the confidence it gives me, the financial security it allows me, the relationships, and the social outlet.

Would you recommend this path to other mommas? Why or why not? 

Most definitely. It has made me better at money management and time management. I think that sometimes moms are home all day in the same room with their children, but not really with them. I have learned to be really present for my children and that time with them is so precious. It also gives families some more financial freedoms, and also gives moms a safe place to grow and improve without taking them out of the home.

How can a momma know if she is a good fit for it? And, if she is a good fit, how can she get started? 

I have seen beauty consultants be successful who never wore makeup and cried when you asked what their name was, so in my opinion this is an opportunity for any mom. In order to get started, you would need a beauty consultant to send you an agreement online. If you already have a consultant, feel free to contact her and ask more questions. If you don’t already have a beauty consultant, feel free to contact me and I can send you some free product samples and would love to chat with you. 

What is your favorite way to recharge and relax?

I recharge on Sundays. I love spending time with my family uninterrupted, and sitting around talking and reading books with my boys.

How do you find balance in your life between home, family, making money, hobbies, taking care of yourself etc? What helps you to feel happy instead of stressed? 

I love this question! In Mary Kay we actually have weekly plan sheets that we are supposed to fill out with our husbands. They are color-coded and each color represents the priorities we should set: God (Yellow), Family (Blue), Career/School (Pink). Jake and I sit down each week and first plan out everything that has to do with our relationship with God: scriptures, prayers, physical activity, church. Then we prioritize our family activities: family time, activities, date nights etc.. Then finally our school/work responsibilities. Then we keep this on our refrigerator so that we both can make changes and have access to the schedule. It has been such a blessing in time management and it is the only way we can truly accomplish everything that we have been able to in the last year.

Just for fun, what and where would be your dream vacation? 

Right now my dream vacation would be anywhere with my man and a really slow-going itinerary. I have always wanted to travel Europe, but I think as a mom I want to just lie on a beach for an entire week with nowhere to go and nothing to do. :)

Oh man, I want that week long beach vacation. :) Isn't she awesome? Thank you Abby! :) And if you are interested in learning more about Mary Kay opportunities, you can contact Abby at abbylyn3(at)gmail(dot)com.

Well, friends, I hope you all had a fabulous Mother's day with plenty of hugs and kisses! :) I'm eternally grateful for the two munchkins that call me momma! I'm also so grateful for my amazing momma, momma-in-law, grandmas, aunts, and sisters, as well as the other women who have supported and taught me throughout my life. It's pretty awesome that we don't have to be a person's mom to make a great impact on another person's life! For all of you who are not mommas yet, know that YOU have unique gifts and strengths to offer to those around you. We love you and thank you for all that you do to love others, especially us and our children! Love you all!

PS. If you are new to Swag On, Momma, welcome! We'd love to have you hang out with us. :) To read more posts written by other awesome mommas, Like us on Facebook to follow along! :)

May 4, 2015

Mommas Makin Moola #3: Opera Singer!

Um, WHUT???? Opera singer? 

I know, that's what I said when I saw the title of Sarah's Mommas Makin Moola post this week. Pretty freakin awesome way to make money if you ask me! :)

April 27, 2015

Mommas Makin Moola #2: Amber's Childcare Business

By Amy

Hi friends! And, welcome, new friends who are coming over from Sarah's blog. :) We're glad to have you here!

It's time for the second edition of the...

I'm so happy to share this momma's moola making experience...Amber was my across-the-street neighbor for three years and I love her! She is so fun and a fellow book nerd. She was cool enough to tell us about her childcare business! Enjoy. :)

Ok, Amber, tell us about you and your family.

Amber and her daughter Paige!
My family consists of me, my wonderful husband Shayne-who also is a small business owner, my twelve year old daughter Paige-who loves composing her own piano music, my ten year old son Payden-who is super duper artistic and comes up with the most creative idea's, and last but not least my six year old daughter Mara-who is the barefoot girl in the dress, wearing lipstick, outside playing in the dirt. Man I love my family, I am so blessed!

Please tell us about your business and how you got started. 

I make money as a full-time licensed childcare provider. I run a daycare out of my house and have been doing so since October of 2004. In fact I just celebrated my ten year mark this past October. Up until October of 2004, I was a licensed staff member for a State Farm Agent. I loved my job! The best part of my job was working along side my mom who was the office manager :). Even though there was so much I loved about my job, I really wanted to be home with my almost 2 year old daughter Paige and soon to be born son Payden. And honestly paying for two kids in daycare full-time is expensive and I wasn't sure how we would afford it even with us both working. Around this same time my sister-in-law decided to go back to school full-time to work towards her LPN degree and needed someone to watch her two kids. This was an answer to a prayer! My husband Shayne and I had been trying to figure out a way for me to stay at home with our kiddos and make it on one income...it seemed impossible until the opportunity arose to watch my Nephew and Niece. This would help me to still contribute while being able to stay home and I would be watching my Nephew and Niece which made it even better. Income would still be tight but if we budgeted right and had Faith, it would be OK. The best part was being able to fulfill my dream of being able to stay home! So I had my son Payden September 22, 2004 and started my daycare October 2004 and never looked back.

What is your work schedule?

My work schedule is 8am-6pm Monday through Friday. I do take Thanksgiving and Christmas off from watching kids. Plus I also take a few days off each summer for family reunions, etc. It works out to about 2.5-3 weeks off each year.

What do you love about your work?

I love being able to stay home. I love having the freedom of setting my own work schedule. I love having a fairly flexible schedule if I choose to. My husband Shayne fills in for me occasionally which is nice. But most of all, I LOVE kids!!!

What is hard about your work?

One of the toughest things about my job is that I hardly ever get to put myself first. In fact there are days I realize I forgot to make myself lunch. It can be exhausting...there are days that I'm just DONE by the time 6 o'clock comes. Sometimes I feel like my kids have to sacrifice a lot of what they want to do because of my job. Staying on top of cleaning and everyday chores is tough with several small children. It is definitely a balancing act. Although it's tough, I definitely believe the good out weighs the hard times.

How does a momma know if being a childcare provider is a good fit for her, and if so, how can she get started?

Deciding to become a childcare provider is not an easy decision and shouldn't be made hastily. You must have a genuine LOVE for children. You have to be consistent, dependable, and organized. Taking care of kids is NOT easy. I would recommend this to anyone who has the above qualities because there is nothing more rewarding than taking care of children. Not to be cliché but they are our future. If you think this would be a good path to take for you and your family here is what you'll need to get started. You'll need to contact your City offices to find out about getting licensed. I had to have a background check, be fingerprinted, pay a fee, 12 hours training each year, semi-annual and annual inspections by the Health Department, Fire Inspector, and Licensing Enforcement are just a few of the requirements. You'll also need CPR/First Aid training. It involves quite a bit of time and paperwork to get started.

What are your plans for your business in the future?

As far as the future of my business goes, I'm not sure what the future has in store. All of my kids are now in school full-time which gets me thinking of a possible change. But I have parent's begging me to keep watching their kids and honestly thinking about working outside the home now gives me a little anxiety haha. I do know that my goal is to eventually go back and finish my degree since I have all my prerequisites done. But first I have to decide what I want to get my degree in...which is the reason why I never finished.

What do you do to take care of yourself, de-stress, and find balance in your life?

 My favorite ways to recharge and relax are a hot bath and a good book. I also like to treat myself to a massage and pedicure every so often. I'm also guilty of Netflix binge-ing.  Don't know what I'd do without good friends always willing to listen, good friends are a must. I have 2 girls crafting retreats that I participate in each year with lots of friends...this is my out that I look forward to and it helps me de-stress. I've taken up running and love to get outdoors, there's just something that's so uplifting about being out in nature. My husband and I try to go on weekly dates, sometimes they are only 5 minutes but it's something. We try to plan family activities on the weekends and the kids look forward to that and the time together. I don't feel like I have the key to being perfect at balancing everything in my life. But I think being able to recognize when I need a break or time to myself has helped so much.

Alright, last one...just for fun, if you could take a vacation and visit ANYWHERE, where would you go?

If I could go anywhere I would take a vacation to Ireland. One of these days it will happen, I'm sure of it!!!

Thank you, Amber! She's amazing, don't you think ladies? How many of you have have been paid to watch children while caring for your own kids? How was your experience? Would you consider starting your own childcare business?

I've babysat for friends while watching my own kids a few days here and there, and by the end of the day I'm pretty freakin exhausted. Seriously, I think it was easier for me to manage a class of 7th graders with paintbrushes than 4 toddlers and a baby. Ha! :)

Thanks for reading, and check back in for another Mommas Makin Moola post next Monday! You are awesome. :)