As some of you may know, today is Ash Wednesday which is the first day of the Lenten Season. Lent is a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (or charity). We turn away from self-centeredness and sin and focus on increasing our faith as we prepare for Easter. It is a time to really reflect on our lives and make changes to experience a spiritual renewal.
I love my life and I am incredibly blessed. I haven’t shared many personal pictures on the blog during this past year because I’ve been so busy editing weddings and sessions that I’ve barely looked at our own family pictures. But I wanted to share a tiny look into our lives. I cannot believe how fast time goes by once you are a parent! My four kids are truly gifts from God. They are so smart, kind, creative, beautiful, and more than I could have ever asked for.
Being a mom of four is of course lots of work too. They are each interested in so many things and Jason and I want to encourage that! They are involved in music class, dance class, scouts, martial arts, various sports, swimming lessons, and more.
Scouting Ceremony – Becoming a Wolf
Awards for Tee-Ball and Flag Football
Our faith is very important to our family and we try to be active in our church as well. Jason and I are part of a few ministries. We keep the kids involved in volunteering and charity work, including our annual food drive which all of you should know about! We also teach a faith formation class for elementary school kids. I have a deep respect for teachers because I know how much work goes into preparing for our class which is only once a week! Our own kids attend faith formation class as well. This is an exciting year for us as our son had the Sacrament of Reconciliation and is preparing for his First Communion! We have retreats, meetings, and activities as we look forward to him receiving this amazing sacrament.
It is very important to Jason and I to be involved at our kids’ schools. We volunteer at their schools and in the classrooms, and at home we always help with homework, projects, and other activities to help reinforce what they are learning. With the kids being in two different schools that let out at different times, it can feel like we spend most of our day just driving back and forth for drop offs and sitting in car lines! There are also school plays, field trips, PTA meetings, class parties, and other school activities and events and we try to be involved in as much as possible.
Volunteering in the Classroom
At the Christmas Show
Life with kids is more than just school and activities. The day to day is just as eventful! Besides special times like vacations and holidays, there are always birthday parties for their friends (or their own birthdays!), play dates, neighborhood friends stopping by, and visits from our family. The kids have dentist appointments and pediatrician appointments which seem to come up often when there are four kids! We take the kids out for fun at the park, bowling, mini golf, nature trails, feeding the ducks, and lots more. At home we read together often, do arts and crafts, bake treats, cook together and always eat dinner as a family, play in the yard or go swimming, go for walks around the neighborhood, play board games, and every day we pray together.
But finding time for everything that is important to me as a mom is even more challenging as a working mom. This is just a glimpse into our lives. As all of you know, random things are always coming up and schedules fill quickly. The kids, the laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, taking care of the cat and dogs…it all has to fit into 24 hour days, and in that same time I need time for a job that keeps me working 70 hours a week or more. I absolutely love having our photography business. Jason and I have said over and over how grateful we are to be able to work doing what we love! We meet awesome people and make great friends, all while sharing in such special days and memories. We are a part of people’s family history! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. It is A LOT of VERY hard work! It is not an exaggeration to say I work more than 70 hours a week. During our two busy seasons, it can be much more than that. People ask where I find the time and it is often in the middle of the night when the kids are asleep. It is not uncommon to have me answering your emails at 1am, or updating the blog at 3 in the morning. I rarely get more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep before I have to get up to help the kids get ready for school. I work as much as I can throughout the day too. Our one year old loves pressing buttons so I give her Jason’s Nook (sorry Jason!) and that gives me a few minutes. The kids eat a snack when they get home from school and I go upstairs to work while they eat. I work while they are getting their pajamas on. I fit in a few minutes when they are picking out the book we are going to read. I am always trying to find a minute or two to answer one email or edit a couple pictures or finish a reprint or album order or work on the endless accounting paperwork and taxes (yuck!) Most people have off on weekends, but I am working then too. We only allow our kids “screen time” (tv and video games) on weekends so I’ll work as they watch a show or play their newest favorite game, Skylanders.
As I was thinking about Lent and what I would do or give up to better follow Jesus, the little moments of our family’s day to day life kept standing out to me. The kids are growing up so quickly. It really is the blink of an eye and it makes me cry when I think about it. All the activities, events, classes, homework, lessons, work, etc make time fly by and I really need some time to just slow down and take in the small moments, the ones that really count! Someone shared this picture on my Facebook page and I loved it (sorry I don’t know who made it to give credit, but it is a beautiful little poem!):
God granted me these miracles. I love my life and the amazing man God brought into my life to share it with. And I love my job too, but working 7 days a week can sometimes keep me from being truly present for the other blessings in my life. Though I give as much of myself as I can to my faith and family, I am often distracted with thoughts of all the work I have left to do that day. I can be having a terrific time with my kids but in the back of my mind I’m looking for a moment to steal away to finish something on my computer. I sometimes feel guilty when I’m away from my computer for a while! Working at home is amazing, but it can blur the boundaries between “home life” and “work time.” I struggle with that balance.
During Lent, I will be giving up a few things as a way to sacrifice and grow closer to Jesus. But I also wanted to make another big change to show gratitude to God for my blessings. During Lent, I am going to be taking every Sunday off from work. Completely. No emails, no editing, no work at all. I want to focus on my family that day and have that one day without even the possibility of sneaking away for a few minutes of editing. We already attend weekly Mass but I hope to spend more time on Sundays celebrating our faith as a family! There are so many faith activities I’ve been wanting to do with the kids. They love reading their Children’s Bible and it is going to be great to not just read it, but maybe do a craft or activity after to help them really understand it. I would also like to spend some time with my mom, who is sick and has been in and out of the hospital, beyond just seeing her as I drop off the kids and pick them up! I know to many people taking one day off a week might not seem like a big thing. For me, this is huge! I work long hours, seven days a week. I do not take days off. I’ve even taken my computer with me on vacation to keep from getting behind on editing!
There are six Sundays during Lent which means this is going to carry into our busy season. I apologize in advance if this means that it takes me a little longer to finish up on editing weddings and sessions. I have no idea how this will affect turn around time since I haven’t done this before. Of course I will work hard Monday-Saturday to try to keep up and minimize any wait time. I won’t be checking email at all on Sundays (that is going to be a hard one too, but an important part of focusing on family!) but I’ll reply on Monday.
Thanks to all of you for your support in my Lenten journey! I’m excited for my “Slow Down Sundays!”