Back-packs, lunch boxes and art-work started a messy trail that began at the front door and led all the way to the kitchen table where I plopped-down on the kitchen stool.
My attempt to listen to Rayna’s day was cut short when Ross interrupted with a story about a boy at lunch saying the “S-word… (S-U-C-K)” and another story about the same boy rubbing his apple on the lunchroom floor and then eating it.
Then, after rummaging through a back-pack filled with broken Super Mario Bro erasers and random rocks from the playground, I discovered not only crumbled-up math homework, but more classroom exercises that needed correcting. (Awesome.)
I attempted to begin homework, but was cut short when I was quickly reminded by the kids of how ‘staaaaarving’ they were and how URGENT a snack was.
My attempt to find a semi-healthy snack was also cut short when Ruthie realized she was no longer the ‘only child’ and had to compete with 2 others. (By ‘compete,’ I mean, holding on my legs screaming and crying alligator tears.)
When I finally got everyone’s hands washed, snacks made, girls distracted and math homework (finally) started, it too was cut short with terrible groans and complaints… which eventually led to huge, “This-doesn’t-make-sense!” homework-tears.
After attempting to explain the new method of 2nd grade math, packing 2 lunches for the next day, trying to make a decent meal with a needy-baby on my hip and a very depleted refrigerator, baths (times 3), bed-time (times 3) and putting clothes away, Matthew, knowing how busy my days are, waited until 8pm to call me from Buffalo, New York.
Matthew: “How was your day?”
Me: “Fine. How about you?”
And, aside from the GLORIOUS (but few-and-far-between) weeks that Matthew works from home, THIS has been a pretty accurate glimpse at many (many, many) of my days over the past 5 years.
And then something happened…
One day I asked Matthew if he was happy.
And although he’s the most positive, hard-working, optimistic and ‘glass-half-FULL’ person I know, he told me he actually wasn’t happy traveling so much, us being apart and being away from the kids. (Just a example to show you how low-drama Matthew is, the night he simply responded that his day was “Good” was also the day Delta over-booked his flight… he had to quickly change his plans and drive from Ohio to Buffalo… see customers… jump on a flight to San Antonio… see more customers…. then, spend a few more hours on the road. (No biggie, right?!?! He didn’t grumble at ALL about it. I told you he was tough-stuff!)
So, when he asked ME the same “Are-YOU-happy?” question, it was MY turn to really answer the question that, up until this point, I’d never really even considered.
Yes, I’m pretty tough.
Yes, I’m low-drama too.
Yes, I can handle the kids alone.
Yes, I’m SO thankful for his great job (that saved us from a very hard season that was constantly filled with worry about finances).
Yes, I’m so thankful for the nights when my amazing mom comes over to hang-out with me and the kids and help manage the chaos.
Yes, I’m so thankful for the days when Matthew’s wonderful parents want to see Ruthie where I can catch my breath, work and make sure everyone has clean clothes that week.
Honestly, NOTHING compares to having Matthew HOME.
Nothing compares to us hanging-out during the day together- taking a walk, running errands, playing Uno on the living room floor…
watching him play basketball with Ross (after explaining math in a MUCH better way than me)…
brushing Rayna’s hair after her shower…
hearing Ruthie belly-laugh when she yells for him to pick-up “mama!,” then “sissy!,” then “ru-ru!“- taking turns swinging us all around…
reading books to Ruthie and tucking her in…
helping me clean the kitchen, make lunches and, most importantly…
starting the COUNTING-DOWN until 8pm where we can say goodnight to the kids and (FINALLY) enjoy OUR time together… laughing, playing, cuddling, thinking and talking.
Needless to say, NOTHING compares to the happiness the kids and I feel when Matthew’s at home with us.
So, ‘ironically enough’ (or probably more accurately: Psalm 37:4), within a few weeks of our “Are-you-happy?” conversation, Matthew received a job offer.
Yes, we’d have to move out of state.
BUT, not only would Matthew NOT have to travel, but he’d be working from HOME!
It was time to REALLY decide what our TRUE priorities were.
So, we thought… but, not for long. We already knew what was at the TOP of BOTH of our lists:
Intentional, real, playful, encouraging, loving and fun TIME together as a FAMILY.
(This pictures represents one of my main goals in this life:
To fully experience nature, adventures, God and the world with my family. Each day, being fully-present, eager, encouraging and engaged in their lives.
That’s a short-version of one of the ONLY things that actually matter to me.)
So, after TEARS… DISCUSSIONS… PRAYERS… HAPPINESS… SADNESS… GUILT… WORRY... EXCITEMENT… and a few more (hundred) feelings, I fell back on one of my favorite quotes:
So, although it has been and will continue to be extremely HARD to say goodbye to all of our family and friends (and church and schools and house and neighbors and my business and my clients and LIFE), we DID accept the offer that will move us, BUT, allow us to spend more time together as a family.
I’ve only told a few people, but have gotten the same (GREAT) QUESTIONS:
- “I’ve been meaning to book a session! Can I please book one before you leave?!?”
It’s hard for this photography-loving, people-pleaser to say no, but, unfortunately, I do not have any availability.
- “Will you be coming back to Georgia to do sessions?”
YES! Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I hope to be back several times throughout the year. ‘Like’ my Facebook page to stay updated on upcoming trips, Mini Sessions and openings.
- “Where are you moving?”
We’ll be living in NW Arkansas. Matthew grew-up there. (Moved there at the exact same time as Ross is now, actually.) We have an aunt and cousins who still live there. And, we’re plotting to ‘borrow’ their adorable Goldendoodle at least once a week!
- “Is there anything to do there?!?!?!
Ummm… yes. (I kind-of love Arkansas.)
There are plenty of great schools, shopping, restaurants and kid-friendly places to play.
But, remove traffic.
Then, add in LOTS of horses, land, caves, creeks and, yes, cows!
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve already seen an INSANE amount of photos from Arkansas when we’ve visited Matthew’s parents who were living there at the time. If you want to see MORE of Arkansas’ beauty, here’s just a few of my favorite memories:
- SNOW 2010!
- SUMMER 2010 (Look at Rayna’s CURLS!!!!)
- SNOW 2009!
- Christmas 2011 (Oh, my little cowgirl, Rayna!)
- SUMMER 2011
- MORE Summer 2011 (Jumps, cliffs and snakes!)
- Summer 2009 (Ross was tiny!)
- “Will you continue your business there?”
Hmmm… GREAT question.
Yes AND No…
I’m SURE I will drive-by a gorgeous spot… with amazing lighting… and a sweet family who really wants to do a session… and it will be impossible to say ‘no’ to all of those factors put together.
BUT, I’m going to *try* to take some time off.Right now, my ONLY priorities are:
a) Video-taping Ross and Rayna’s reaction when they see we found a house WITH LAND and a few other surprises for them!
b) Finding a Bible-teaching church with great music and an even better kid’s ministry.
c) Testing and tasting until Rayna and I discover the perfect Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffin recipe.
d) Attempting to find the perfect paint color that will turn my somewhat-traditional kitchen into something more modern and contemporary.
e) Lastly, but most importantly, ENJOYING the kids and Matthew!
Thank you all who took the time to read what’s going on with me and my family!
Sending so much love to everyone who has been involved in our lives here.
Please stay connected with our travels, adventures and stories here on the blog! I’d love to hear from you!