I’ve done this on paper the past 3 years and it’s been life changing. So this year I’m going to make it public because I think it’s helpful for me to process it in a blog format as well as provide insight into how I goal set with such a big family of littles. (and a little accountability never hurts either)
Lara Casey (which you’ve heard me mention a time or ten) is the genius behind this goal setting and dream reaching series. THIS is the blog series that I will go by…. as she posts I will do a post in follow up using the steps she goes by. I highly recommend her new book Make it Happen. Which I have reviewed HERE.
STEP ONE: Let’s take a look back at what worked and went well in 2014 for the Chappell Family. The Good things of 2014!!!
1. Keeping our schedule really free at home. That usually means we don’t plan things during the week…. and honestly, try to keep the weekend even more free to be able to spend time as a family together. I have found that having a friend over during the week for an afternoon cup of coffee and let our kids play… that works. We have our weekly community group gathering and that’s about jt as far as scheduling things our family is responsible to be at. Dan will often have one thing in the evening he will need to be at and I will have one evening that I either have book club or coffee with a friend. With smaller kids I find that when life is too busy then that easily sucks up valuable play time and time to just be bored (which I think is super helpful in their developing of imaginations and creativity). So we kinda work really hard at keeping life boring (if there is such a thing as boring with 5 kids!).
2. Date nights & mornings. We are so blessed to have grandparents that will take ALL 5 of our kiddos and not only watch them for a few hours but turn it into a sleepover. (How awesome and brave are they!!!) We’ve found that getting out for an evening is helpful but after getting kids ready to go to my in-loves and then going out and then getting the kids back and into bed at a decent hour, well it’s not much of a relaxing time together….it’s better than nothing, But take that and add coming home to an empty quiet house and knowing you get to sleep in the next morning and you can hop in the car and go get breakfast and spend MORE time together…. well usually that’s when some loving happens, some talking happens, some dreaming happens, and sweet sleeping in happens! We pick up the kids BETTER people and Stronger in our marriage!
We also celebrated TEN years of marriage this year! I shared our story on Instagram…. go check it out under the hashtag #chappelllovestory
3. Road trips. This was our second Epic (out of Texas) Road trip… our third big road trip. And ya’ll it’s SO much fun and it’s very doable for us as a family. It’s packed… and lots of time in close quarters but it’s Good!! We were gone for the whole month of June and stayed with friends and family most of the time. I think we stayed 3 nights out of the month in a hotel…. in which swimming was the total highlight! Here’s our Summer highlight Video!! Summertime works for us when we have a plan!
4. Ph.D in Leadership Program. This summer is also when Dan started his Ph.D. He’s been thinking about doing this for a long time but when he found out about the Ph.D in Leadership at DBU he looked into it and knew it was right up his ally. And boy was he right! Now, Ladies we know that having a husband in school is NOT easy. And honestly, I had my fears. We had just finished the long road to a masters degree and although this seemed different I didn’t know how different it would be. But when your husband is doing something he loves and believes in it makes even hard things worth it! The first set of classes alone impacted our family in incredible ways. I wish every husband and father could take those classes. So this program although we are just one year in… works for us!!
5. Coffee Dates with friends. I used to be the kind of person that the more the merrier… and in a way I still am. But as an ENFP and just as a mama who is getting older and wants to get wiser I find that I crave in depth conversation and to be really known, warts and all. So about once a month I try to meet up with a friend and do coffee together! This is So refreshing for me!
6. Book Club. I basically invited myself to a book club that a friend and my social worker was a part of. I knew I needed some interaction with ladies I didn’t know very well and who brought different backgrounds and personalities to the table. This was it. I left after my first one and told Dan that I felt alive and that even though not many people there walk in my shoes, it helped me grateful for the shoes I wore. Everyone was different in a way and nobody expected us all to be like them. I tried to read the first book… and then the second.. and I just had to accept that reading right now is not a luxury I have time or mental energy for. So I just come. I listen (they really like talking about the book!), I learn and I eat a meal I didn’t make and drink wine that I didn’t have to pick out. It’s so much fun!
7. We found a church home. Y’all we looked for a church home for months…. it was such a strange feeling and often discouraging. We’ve found ourselves drawn to smaller church plants and yet weren’t finding a good fit for our family. But the sunday we visited City Church Fort Worth… we got in the car after staying until those of us left got kicked out of the building because they needed to lock it up, we looked at each other and said, This one is it!!
8. Not starting schooling yet. After studying different types of homeschooling in order to find a style or parts of styles that fit with Dan and My vision of what educating our children could look like for us, I really have been drawn to the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. At least in these beginning years of kindergarten and elementary grades. I’m sure we will incorporate a lot more of a classical approach since Dan and I both value what that style brings to the table of education.
Charlotte Mason advocates not starting anything official until the child turns 6. So while Zoe is well on her way to learning to read it’s not because we have done anything structurally in reading. We have however, spent lots of time on a day to day basis doing Art, Handwriting, Letters, Vocabulary, and Music, Nature and lots of self directed play (meaning letting them get bored and think of their own games or activities to play… forts, pretend pets, legos, lots and lots of outside time, etc…) I strongly feel that while kids are learning to read earlier and earlier I’m not sure they are understanding and benefiting from reading as much as they could be if there was more groundwork laid for imagination development and vocabulary expansion… things that are crucial for a love for reading! So this is the way we feel like we are creating kids who love to read even years before they start diving into books.
9. Less is more even when sometimes it costs more. We moved into a smaller house this summer. We were living in the suburbs in a HUGE house with lots of storage. I always told Dan if I were to settle in a home and live there for 20-30 years….this would be the home to do it in! We were care taking for a great couple while they finished a mission assignment. It was great for us for the time being, but I was lonely there. I could go days and never see another person outside of our family. I wanted community but it didn’t seem like I could cultivate one there without leaving my home. And with having only one car that Dan usually took to work, well, I needed that to happen at home. So we knew of an area in the city that had abundant community and a diverse neighborhood and access to areas of the city we already loved. So despite the high rents because of it being a trendy area we lucked out and found a rare 4 bedroom home (still higher rent than we would like), but we said Yes and moved into the Fairmount neighborhood. Ya’ll I’m a saver… I don’t like to spend money so that’s been a hard adjustment for me, especially coming from Apartment living for years. But I’ve also discovered that you can’t really put a price on the right place to raise your family. We might spend more on rent…but there are many other areas we are able to save in, such as we don’t need a lot of stuff to live here… we don’t have a lot of storage or pantry space so we just buy a little at a time. (we used to waste so much stuff thinking we needed more than we did). I love the community we have here… when it’s not so cold we walk to our community group, we know the dog walkers in the area, we cheer for our mail lady when she steps on our porch to give one of the kids the mail, we have our favorite ice cream shop owner right behind us, and we have several friends who can walk over and see us anytime! Living here, I get frustrated at the ins and outs of living in an 100 year old house… but we are never lonely. (and that’s priceless)
10. 2 1/2 Conferences is a perfect number of conferences. Spoke at Making Things Happen Conference. You can read all about my experience at it HERE. It was incredible and I felt so loved and encouraged! I also attended the LINGER conference with a friend who lives in Chicago who I knew in North Carolina. It was such a great conference for me especially because it wasn’t a ton of information but it was a lot of time of worship and prayer and soaking up the Goodness of God being preached! I was committed to only attending those two conferences… because gosh, I love conferences, but conferences can get expensive and time consuming. But my friend asked me to go with her to a one day conference in Austin called Catalyst. At first I said yes only because I wanted friendship time with her on the drive there and back. But I also ended up really REALLY enjoying the conference and learned so much that was applicable in my life as a wife and mom and artist!
11. My best friend got married. Dinner time prayers have had to be adjusted a little now because ever since our babies started praying with us God bringing Auntie Kristin a husband has been on the top of their requests!! It’s been so fun to get to explain to them that God answered their prayers!! Miss Christa, Lore and Mandie Joy… husbands are now being prayed for you for over fine dining of noodles and chicken nuggets! I was able to do the hair, makeup and photography/videography for Kristin and Jerrards incredible intimate weekend of wedding celebrations and while I think I’m getting too old and out of shape to do all that at weddings anymore I loved every moment of being there and seeing my friend become a bride and a wife before my eyes and the Joy of answered prayer!!
12. Speaking of Photography, Project Life SO worked for me this year.
I found that it works best when I print (at Costco) every 3 months… or kinda like spring, summer, fall/winter. Then I pick a day and put them in the album. And journal as I find time. (I need to get better at journaling!) But hey, I have a years worth of images printed and in archival albums!! That never happens! So I think I’ll stick with it.
13. Picking up friends from the Airport. A few times this year we got the opportunity to pick up friends from the airport. It was so good to see them since they didn’t live here, these friends were from our time in North Carolina. One couple had a long layover overnight and instead of hanging out in the airport we went and got them and they hung out with us for a while got a little sleep and then we took them back early that next morning. It was a beautiful trade of a little sleep for deep community with friends!! Another friend flew in for a blogging conference and I fetched her a few hours before she needed to be somewhere and we had the best time together!! I also had a good friend whose husband was working in Dallas come 10 for two days and it was awesome!!
14. Shorter Photography Sessions focusing on connection vs. lifestyle. For a few years I did what I called Sincerely Sessions and while I love love doing them and capturing life that way, it’s just not really feasible for where I am as a mom and it’s not what most of my clients need. So I am adapting and doing shorter sessions and still adding that documentary style and focusing on connections which is what makes people photography so magical. Here are a few families I was blessed to have captured this year.
15. Taking Kids to Costco. Walmart is crazy. Target is therapy. Kroger is for quick runs. So Costco is a place I’ve found that we can do as a family and it works! It’s big enough and spacious enough that my kids can run around and be their loud selves without too much inconvenience to or stares from others. And they love getting samples and pizza there too.
16. Drinking without fear. I jokingly say this is the year I came out of the drinking closet. I grew up not drinking… in fact it was a HUGE NO NO! And I will admit my first taste of alcohol was the champagne I had on my honeymoon. But by then I knew I wasn’t drinking because I thought it was to be cool or because I had to have it, it was just something I wanted to try and taste and enjoy. So over the past 10 years We have tried things and I have come to enjoy the different depths of beer and the wide bouquets of flavors of different wines. But as a preachers kid I was always scared or nervous to post about it publicly or that someone would drop by and see a beer in our fridge, and honestly we wanted to respect those who don’t choose to drink. But this year I have come to see that in many ways I was trying to please people who ultimately it’s not my job to please. There are people I would never drink in front of out of respect for their choice not to or out of wanting to support them in their struggle of avoiding something that’s harmful to them. But otherwise, I feel complete freedom in posting about the fact that we do have an occasional glass of wine at night or a beer with pizza if we are out. Alcohol isn’t the focus of our fellowship and food, but when you’re looking over your shoulder to see if anyone you know that holds to different convictions than you do might walk into the restaurant and see you and think badly of you, then it becomes more of a focus than it deserves. Some are concerned that we have resorted to alcohol due to having so many kids and the stress that brings. I want to laugh and say…. yes and no! 😉 As for arguing over it…. like Jen Hatmaker says, “I’m not going to make a deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation. I just can’t muster the energy.” (but if you’re wanting to know more about where we land on this issue, these are two great articles I think are helpful in this issue. HERE and HERE. )
17. Making Highlight Videos.
As much as I adore photography and photos I just think there is something incredible and lifelike when you have video footage of your memories. In movies when they want to really remember a lost lofed one they rarely show people huddled around a photo album… although I think those are priceless. But often you’ll see a family around a projector or a VCR player and watching in action those they ache for so much… and it’s kinda like they are there in living color! So I try to make a few times a year a highlight video so that we have those kind of memories too. And it helps me relive each chapter of motherhood in a way that really lets me remember each stage and I hope does the same for my kids as they get older too.
18. Not going to Birthday Parties. This was something that about 2 years ago I started saying No to. We would get invited to birthday parities and found that it took up the main day that we had daddy at home and not only would it take up that afternoon, my kids would get hyped up on sugar and come home wanting all the toys that the birthday kid got. They are only just now starting to understand the joy of giving to others. But also we keep our birthday parties really simple and usually just family so it kinda was giving them an expectation of what birthday parties should be like but aren’t for them. It’s been hard because I love my friends children and want to celebrate their lives but in this chapter of ours we just are having to say no go to birthday parties. (and this year we kept about 15+ weekends a lot more simpler and more focused on family time by saying thanks but we can’t.)
19. Stovetop Popcorn. It’s one of our most favorite times of the afternoon. We make it with coconut oil and I take salt and put it in the vitamix and made powdered salt and it’s super fine and coats the popcorn beautifully as it pops!
20. Weekend at the Wilsons. During one of Dan’s seminars I loaded up the fan and took a small road trip to Houston to spend a few days with a friend who I met online but had become closer with through facebook and text messaging. They have 9 kids and so they get my kind of crazy world! We had SO much fun! I enjoyed staying up after the kids were in bed and talking to a mom and dad who want to be intentional in raising children and also have a similar mindset towards adoption as we do! I also throughly enjoyed spending time quilting with their oldest daughter who makes baby quilts for babies who do not yet have families in the hospital there in Houston. Dan asked me when I came home if I still wanted 8 kids, and I said Absolutely! I just want a super helpful 13 year old first!! I love team Wilson! All of us had such a blast with all of them! I can’t get enough of their Ezra who was born with Spina Bifida.
Here’s to a lot more weekends with these two crazy families together!!