My First Career: A SAHM

SAHM? — STAY AT HOME MOM

There is so much noise in the world today. So much that you can’t escape… it seems. There are so many “self help” influencers out there today on social media as well as ‘best sellers’ books. Many are spreading positivity and how to better yourself. Many influencers are posting much about “body positivity”, “how to become a boss babe”, how to work in the “corporate world” while also being a great mom, etc. And, hey, hats off to any mom out there who can juggle both a career and being a mom! Much of what we read in today’s society is geared to persuading women how to build a career, get ahead, get more pay!, etc., all the while dismissing the importance of being a mother first. (I know there will be much debate on this subject, but my goal is to encourage other moms to not be afraid of making the decision to stay at home.)

I want to write about “FAMILY” for a minute. Since I basically am from a family and have a family, and I have three kids of my own, I guess you can say I have experience with “FAMILY”. Many of us do.

I want to reach out to the younger couples who are considering starting a family of their own and who struggle with making the decision on child care; who will take care of the children, and who will work. It really is a tough decision to make. Income plays a huge part in a family, and I understand that it can partly also control the narrative.

When I married my high school sweetheart back in 1996 (24 years, yay us!), I had just graduated from college six months earlier. I was ready to jump into the workforce and start my career. Honestly, I told myself that I would never be a stay at home mom. I said that, how insane! I was ready to work and earn a good living….just like my husband.

Fast forward to December 1997, my firstborn came into the world. Everything changed. Not only did my body change so did my mind, and we both decided that I would stay home with our son. (I was actually the lucky one!) Then, 19 months later our daughter was born, and then fast forward 18 more months, our youngest was born. Three children in four years and I was a full-on- stay-at-home-mom! Too bad ‘experienced diaper changer’ couldn’t be added to my resume, cause, man I rocked the diaper changing station!!

My mindset changed for me to become a stay at home mom for two reasons. One, I would basically be working to pay for child care for my three children— so that did not make sense. Two, and most importantly, we decided we wanted to rear our own children. I did not want anyone else to do the job that was given to me by God. We understood some of the financial challenges that we would face by being a one-income household, and we would have to make sacrifices on material things or experiences, but the positives outweighed the challenges.

Why of course times got tricky and tiring with my husband’s work travel schedule. Many times he would fly in from another country, get off a plane, come home and go out to a ballfield to coach, all while being jet-lagged. So needless to say, we were both exhausted at times. But pouring into our children and being present was key and this is the life we choose for our family.

As I reflect back on these early years, I can see that God provided (in many other ways than just financially) for our family and we thank Him for leading us. Looking back, it is now clear how being a staying home mom vs. building a career was more beneficial in the long run. Being able to pour into our children and teach them the Biblical right from wrong will never be taken for granted. We chose/choose to have family meals together, go to church together, pray together, and have fun together.

To all the younger women of today who are facing a decision about becoming a stay-at-home-mom or building a career— Your career can wait, BUT, you can’t get this time back with your children. And you, new mama to be, deserve to rear your kids, teach them the rights from wrongs and instill in them the values that you want for them. Remember, “Children are a gift from God, they are His reward” -Psalm 127:3.

So please don’t let the noises of today’s world confuse you and tell you that you are better off by choosing and building a career. You may have financial sacrifices to make by being the CEO of your home, but the reward is so worth it. You do you, and soak up every minute you can with your children. You will thank yourself in the long run, even if you are behind the career curve. Family (including values and morals) is truly what matters. The years spent pouring into your children are a gift. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Because soon my friend, they will grow up and go off to college.

xo,

Elisabeth

PS – I realize that family dynamics vary in today’s society. These are my experiences and thoughts based on a traditional family with a mother and father.


How I made a lei from my daily walk in Hawaii Kai.

I know I have said it before, but, I love Hawaii. I love living here (especially since my kids are home!) I am continuously surrounded by such incredible views of the mauka (mountains) and makai (ocean). And since we moved here in December, despite the craziness with covid, I have enjoyed daily walks to reset and take in all the views and fresh air.

I started out walking to get exercise and to spend time with my hubby. On our walks I always noticed all the beautiful plumeria trees and all the petals that had fallen on the ground. Many were fresh and were screaming at me to “pick me up, and take me home!!” So, I did! Now, it’s become a thing in our home where we have beautiful petals we place floating in water to bring joy to our little cozy space.

Hawaii really is a special place and the aloha spirit is real. A lei is a symbol of friendship, love, celebration, honor, and many receive and give them to their family and friends upon arrival to Hawaii. I love greeting my family with one at the airport. It really is a symbol of love, and each time I receive one, even if I never will meet the person who made it, I can still feel the love of the hands who crafted it.

Of course with the quarantine and more time on my hands, I decided to learn to make a lei! Why not? I am by no means a pro it it, but with a little research, I gathered my materials that I had around the home and gave it a try.

Here’s a simple way to make a lei from fallen petals:

Step one: Gather your family and head outdoors for a nature walk. To make one lei, gather 30-50 flowers that have fallen to the ground, in public space (make sure not to infringe on someone else’s property). Be creative with what is blooming in your neighborhood, and try to mix blooms! There are endless possibilities!

Step two: Soak the blooms in cold water to rinse off. And then lay them out to dry off. You may have to toss out a few of the ones that begin to brown and wilt.

Step three: Find string to use such as embroidery thread; dental floss works too! Get a needle that will fit through the center of your petals, and grab a pair of scissors! That’s all you need.



Step four: Thread the needle, tie a knot in the thread, and begin threading the flowers one at a time. Once you get the length you like, then all you need to do is cut the thread and tie ends together! Wa-lah, you have a lei!

They say stop and smell the roses, or in my case, plumeria. I believe that by doing a craft like this, you will also experience the same as I did — calmness, peacefulness, thankfulness, and realize that it really is the simple things in life that are free and allow us to reflect on God’s beauty and all He provides us daily.

If you decide to make one, please let me know how it turned out! This would be a great summer craft for the littles too!

Aloha from Hawaii Kai!

xo,

Elisabeth


Destination Birthday — The Inn at Kelly’s Ford: How to throw an overnight sweet 16 birthday party!

Who doesn’t love a good party? And a sweet sixteen at that!

When you add in a short drive to a beautiful and serene setting, what’s not to love! If you are looking to host or throw a destination sweet sixteen birthday party, read on! 

Let’s all face it, turning 16 can be lots of work for mama’s… especially for girls! Coming up with sweet 16 birthday party ideas that will not completely break the bank is tricky! Over the years, as my three kids were celebrating birthdays, many of the parties were done right at home (and even before Pinterest, yikes!). Wonderful memories indeed! But for my daughter’s sweet 16, after brainstorming numerous ideas, we decided to have a quaint destination party that she and her friends could remember for a long time.  We combined her love for horses and the outdoors, with the sun and pool and added in a photo shoot, food and lots of sugar! (What 16-year-old girl doesn’t like taking photos and eating candy?!).

The Inn at Kelly’s Ford was the perfect setting to accomplish all of our ideas. It was basically a two day, all-girl slumber party on steroids (I mean sugar)! Here are some of the highlights from her destination birthday party with ideas, and tips on saving a few bucks.

Choosing the location — The Inn at Kelly’s Ford is less than an hour from our home in the little town of Remmington, VA. Getting there was not an issue and the drive out is so pretty. No planes or trains, just automobiles to transport my daughter and her friends. Since the Inn has accommodations on the property, we booked a cottage for a night’s stay, basically allowing for two day’s worth of activities. The cottage had plenty of room for everyone and also gave my husband and me a room to escape all the girl talk!

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Activities, activities and more activities — There was no boredom going on here! Lots to do to keep everyone happy. When we booked our cottage, I also booked reservations for horseback riding and canoeing— one activity for each day. Since we had LOTS of open space, I created a scavenger hunt. They divided into two teams and searched the grounds for clues. The inn has a pool on the property… perfect for swimming and soaking in the sun.  The following morning, while I cleaned and packed away all the decorations and food, my husband made the canoe trek down the Rappahannock. (I wish I would have gone on that trip, but someone had to stay back and get all packed up!)

SAY CHEESE! — Since most girls love getting dressed up, and we had a perfect photo shoot setting, I took time with each girl to take photos as well as fun group shots. This was not only a way for my daughter to capture her party, but the photos were given to each of her friends as a takeaway… (Or to just use as a new profile pic!) It was nice for her brothers to stop by to wish her a happy birthday, which gave me a chance to snap a few of all three of my kiddos.

Dining Al Fresco — In keeping with the theme and not having to spend a fortune on a sit-down meal in the restaurant, we elected to order takeout food from Pelham’s Pub and have our own patio dinner decorated in, you guessed it… pink! I basically was the waitress, but at least I didn’t have to cook the meal! The Inn was nice to help deliver the take out to the patio where I set the table for the girls. The girls decided on a really fancy dinner… chicken tenders, onion rings and fries! I brought in muffins, fruits, juices, etc. for breakfast the next morning. No one’s going hungry around here!

Sixteen Candles — For many of my children’s birthdays, I have attempted to decorate cakes or cupcakes. Most times I even baked them too! (crazy, I know!) Since I wanted to get a little creative, but save time, I ordered a crumb crusted cake from the Harris Teeter bakery along with extra white buttercream frosting that I could color myself. I searched youtube videos on how to decorate.  It was fun and simple and paired perfectly with all the pink accents from the party!

Decorations — Since I envisioned lots of pinks and girly things, I decided to save money and purchase pink roses from Giant instead of ordering from a flower shop. I cut the stems down a bit and used mason jars as my vases. These definitely added a simple, yet dainty touch I was going for. (I picked up a box of mason jars at Walmart and used some for vases as well as drinking glasses.) Keeping cost down but making a big statement, I purchased pink tissue paper to make giant paper flowers. I shopped at Michael’s craft store for colored paper and stickers to make a “Celebrate” banner. They also had cute frames to display and the girls could take for their photos. I also wanted to display some old photos of my daughter along with her friends so I printed photos in various sizes and used ribbon and clothespins to display them throughout the room. For the sweet 16 candy bar, I found plenty of pink candy at Party City. I also purchased a small helium tank and balloons and blew them up once on site. One of my favorites was the personalized cookies from Baked by Rachel. I sent a photo of the invitation (designed by my best friend Jennifer) and Rachel matched them perfectly.  I think we accomplished having enough sugar and pink at this shindig!

Not gonna lie… I worked really hard to pull off this two-day party… Lots of planning and preparation, but in the end, I would do it all over again. (Shout out to the hubby too!) I loved every minute of it and I sure hope my daughter remembers this milestone birthday! It was a fun way to explore with friends, celebrate, and make lifelong memories! Would you plan and host a destination birthday party? If so, I promise it will be worth it!

 

*no endorsements here—just my opinions and recommendations. All photos property of Elisabeth Bryson Photography.