11 years ago when my husband and I made the choice to have children, we knew that raising children on one salary, a teacher's salary no less, was going to require some budgeting.

We haven't always been good at that, nor has it always been pleasant. We adjusted from bi-weekly paychecks to once a month pay check. Just one. We have struggled and we have prospered at different times.

Added into all the creative budgeting are our beautiful summers. Time to recharge and reconnect after an overly full academic year. Time to enjoy the California sunshine. Two months free of papers to grade, lessons to plan,

People tend to shudder when they realize my husband draw no check in the summer, and truth be told I have more than once myself.

We have tried different versions of budgets, and many have failed miserably. My husband has often worked during the summers to bridge the monetary gap, but that option isn't always available and rarely reliable.

God has done a lot in me in this area. Finances seemed to be my biggest area of struggle. The place I am the weakest. I feel such a burden to "do the right thing" that I often wrestle ultimate control right out of the hands of the Maker of the Universe.

I mean, it's one thing to ask God for healing or patience but money seems so immediate. so essential. I have babies to feed. I have a home to run. I need money to do that. So I ask God to provide, to teach me to see His plan and to wait on His provision...and then the cupboards appear to go bare and I panic and start to plan and crunch numbers again.

Clearly this is an area where I need to be proactive yet my heart and faith need to not be bound by fear.

It is subtle. In a way indefinable. Yet I know there is a change in me...and I see that change reflected in my bank statements as well. My spiritual change has some obvious physical results.
Today is a day where I really struggle with the point, the idea, and the reason to blog in the first place. It's hard when I know so many of the people I really love and care about will be reading because it leads me to a need to censor so as not to put anyone else's "stuff" out there.

That's why my blog has been so quiet. I have some big stuff going on in my heart and in my head, but it's stuff that could either be construed as gossip or passive aggressive if I wrote about it. And in my deepest heart of hearts, I don't want to be either of those things...even when it's easy to be.

I have been looking a lot at who I am. I have been doing it in light of some negative messages that I have gotten lately. More of the ugly tapes I have played for years and felt like I finally managed to, at the very least, mute. I knew they weren't destroyed but I hoped they had been edited sufficiently... But then from an unexpected and influential source...blam! Same ugly messages.

So I have been doing a good bit of self examination...and examination of relationships I have.

In some ways I welcome these opportunities because they force me to look at myself critically and that is always really good. Even when it is painful. I spent a lot of time in my life feeling like a failure who had to justify her shortcomings... now I know I am just a regular old person who screws up and needs to own that. When I am wrong, or when I have given out the perception to someone that they are undervalued by me I want to own that. Even though it hurts and it's hard to admit.

So I have been doing a lot of evaluating. Sometimes when you do that though you realize you place a lot of value on certain things that others just don't. And that's kind of hard.

To all my less -than-three girls... I value each and every one of you. It's obvious that I spend lots more time with some, or one, of you more than the others. But each and everyone of you are special and amazing and I feel absolutely honored to have each of you in my life... To have shared such the most life changing moments in my life with you. To watch each of you continue on or find the path God has laid before you excites me more than you will ever know. I pray for you all everyday...
My youngest son is spending his second night in his "big boy bed" tonight. He loves the bed though he insists "I still yittle, I just has a big boy bed."

I looked at him sleeping there yesterday and thought he looked so small, yet...not. Not anymore.

I was away for a week and in that week he went and grew up on me. His speech pattens are different and his face looks more boyish now, and less like a baby. I missed so much in that week. Yet what I missed was almost unidentifiable to anyone but his daddy and I.

I am so grateful that I am home with my kids everyday. that I see every little thing and can note the minor changes in just a week.

I have had people tell me I am "lucky" to be able to stay home, and while I am truly blessed beyond measure, there is no luck in this decision.

Way back, what feels like a million years ago, my then-fiance and I were sitting in a booth in our favorite Mexican restaurant and I said "I just want you to know, I won't put my kids in daycare." I think he agreed without fulling understanding what that meant, but he did agree and it became a tenet of our marriage from the beginning. I am so grateful.

Everyday I am grateful to have a husband who is so passionately in favor of me being the 24 hour on-call mother to our kids. The one who kisses all the boo-boos. The one who gets to deal with all the attitudes. The one who has memorized everything from Blue's Clues to Spongebob. The one who has at one point or another had just about every kind of oozy, drippy, runny, or lumpy kid secretion on me or my clothes. The one who's been embarrassed in the grocery store and filled with pride at the playground.

It hasn't always been easy, cheep, or lucrative to be here. To be home when bills piled up, or stresses did. It hasn't even always been affordable. And we do without a lot of the extras...but we never want for anything of import. God always provides. Often He even provides a little...or a lot...extra.

I don't really know the point of this blog and I certainly hope it doesn't sound all mom-against-mom. I think most parents want to do the best they can. Gosh, I hope they do anyway.

I guess, I don't know, I guess I just wanted to put it out there. Most really amazing things don't come easy or by accident. They require a lot of effort and determination. This is no different.

I wish every mother could and would stay home with her children. It's blessings times one million. I know there are mothers that can't, and I want to support them anyway I can, but sadly, I also know there are mothers that just wont, and that is heartbreaking.