Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Time as a Stay-at-Home-Wife: Blessing or Burden?

I graduated from law school in May of 2013 and began a year long federal clerkship the following September. It was a prestigious position that I enjoyed, but it also confirmed my thoughts that while I felt God had called me to law school, practicing law wasn't in my future. As my clerkship drew to a close, Brandon and I made the decision to make the move to Minnesota. At that point, we decided that because back surgery was looking like an option, and we were facing a major transitional period as a couple, it would be best for me to spend some time staying at home.

And so with quite a bit of energy and excitement, I embraced my new occupation as a Stay-at-Home-Wife. 

Because we had just moved to a new place, I frequently got asked what I did for a living - and got quite a few interesting looks when I shared my new role. The majority of people were quite inquisitive - why was I staying home? What were the circumstances? Did we have kids on the way? Could I not find a job? It seemed to be difficult for many people to understand that I was choosing to be a homemaker when I didn't have any children to look after. They viewed my role as a burden, particularly financially, to Brandon.

In reality, the truth was far from that. My time at home was such a blessing to our marriage!

First an explanation:

What I did: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, packing, unpacking, decorating, researching churches for us to visit, volunteering, getting involved in our new church community, building relationships, getting paperwork in order after our transfer from Michigan to Minnesota, taking care of the cars, laundry, etc.

What I did not do: Sit at home and watch TV all day, pamper myself, eat out everyday with friends, or spend unlimited amounts of time just laying around.

Because I didn't have any children to look after, I was able to spend my days taking care of our home and running errands - all of the things that had I been working outside the home, would have taken up time after work and on weekends. Instead, Brandon and I were able to spend that time together, engaging in hobbies and volunteer work, and building relationships. 

Yes, financially things were a little bit tighter, but our philosophy has always been to live off 1 income, so the changes weren't that drastic. Furthermore, I was able to really focus on our budget and searching out ways we could cut back and save. Even now that we are a 2-income household, I still use the practices we put into place while I was at home - allowing us to maximize our savings and debt payments.

After 5 months at home I was offered my current job. After a lot of prayer, Brandon and I decided that this was a really good opportunity for me, and that my income would be an asset in saving for down payment and helping us get out of debt faster while we waited for the Lord to bless us with children. It was a hard decision! We both loved having me at home and the calmness and organization it brought to our marriage. 

At one point Brandon said - "I get it now, this is how it's supposed to be. One person working outside the home, while one person stays home. Everything just runs so much smoother and is less stressful!" 

At the end of the day, it truly doesn't matter what other people think about your occupation. What matters is that as wives, our home and our husbands should be our first priority - our first mission field. I'm not saying that that can't be accomplished when both spouses work outside the home (another post coming on how I've learned to balance things since starting my new job), but I am saying that there are definite benefits to stay-at-home-wifedom!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Relationship Vacation

No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.
Elbert Hubbard

When Brandon and I were on our honeymoon, we quickly realized that we like to vacation a little differently. He is a "doer" and I am a "sitter." We've recently concluded that these tendencies are part nature, and part nurture. 

By water = happy Julianne

Brandon is a natural doer. His idea of a relaxing Saturday is accomplishing as many things as humanly possible. In a vacation setting, this equates to a love for being on the move - what can he see, what can he experience, what new foods can he try? He likes to be on the go!

Brandon did some cooking with my uncle on this vacation. While I do most of the cooking at home, my uncle is an incredible chef and amazing teacher!

I have a more introverted personality. While I enjoy experiencing new things, I tend to like to move at a little slower pace, and like to spend more time in one place rather than always being on the go. When I was in late elementary school/middle school, my brothers started working and stopped coming on as many family vacations as they used to. Since it was typically just my parents and me, many vacations were spent with me sitting by a lake/ocean/park with 20-30+ (no joke) books. I loved this.

The boys are back! We were able to spend a couple of days with one of Brandon's best friends and his new wife.

As a couple, we are pretty good at balancing our differences. Brandon brings along some good music and sits in the shade so I can have some downtime, and I'll pack my tennis shoes and get a little more active.

Last week we headed to California to visit some family and friends. More than anything, we've begun to dub this our "social" vacation. It wasn't necessarily the most relaxing, but we had such an incredible time building relationships. We spent hours in deep conversation, enjoyed delicious food, and turned off the TV, our cell phones, and our computers.

We also spent an evening with my college roommate - who I haven't seen in almost 4 years!

Sweet baby Jackson

Although we arrived home physically exhausted and a little talked out (which is a pretty big feat for us!) we both deemed this a wonderful vacation. 

Dinner with a sweet friend (almost-cousin) and my little cousin. This family gives me so much hope for living away from my family and nieces/nephews. They are the family that we live the furthest away from, but are definitely closest to. I'm learning its all about the quality of the time spent together, not necessarily the quantity.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Who Done It?

A couple of weeks ago Brandon celebrated his birthday. Since he's growing older and becoming more sensitive about his age, I'll just say that he's 8 years older than me (and I'm 26 :)).

Rather than just going out to dinner, I thought it would be fun to mix things up a little bit this year. Especially since this was his first birthday we were celebrating together in his home state (and around some of his best friends). While visiting some friends at the end of January, I mentioned that I had thought it might be fun to throw a Murder Mystery Dinner birthday party for B. They just happened to have thrown a few such dinners themselves and tracked down a kit for me to take home. (Thanks Wachters!)

And that's how I ended up attempting to throw a Luau in subzero temperatures.

The night was a lot of fun and fairly low key. We invited friends we knew would be up for getting into things, and boy did they! We had some pretty creative costumes, including a hair flower made out of a loofah, a socialite all in gold, and a clumsy tourist who wore khaki pants to represent his "tan" legs. Oh the creativity of Minnesotans in winter!

Of course we had to have a "luau" themed meal to go along with things. The menu included:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Coconut Shrimp (SO yummy)
Chips and Mango Salsa
Tossed Salad
Peanut M & Ms

Dessert clearly wasn't on point, but it was the birthday boys request, and I was happy to oblige!

I was working with a pretty tight budget, so I went with decorations that were either homemade or from the dollar store. We lit a ton of candles and the mood was efficiently set!

One of the biggest takeaways for me was that this party really showed me that you don't have to have a large or perfect space to entertain. We live in a fairly small apartment and only have a table that seats 4. But with some good food and great company we made it a night to remember!