Time

Work, life, balance - what?!  Forget about it.  That single phrase brings me SO MUCH GUILT!  Guilt that I can't balance enough to work and be home with my kids.  As a SAHM (Stay-at-home Mom), I still can't manage to get a blog or vlog or etsy store or WHATEVER up and at 'em each day.  But here's the thing - it's not about 'balance', but satiation.  

 O is strapped in his Ergo carrier, you can't see him - but can see his board!  More on that in another post (I've got videos to compile!).  Our first year snowboarding says everything about balance vs satiation.  Snowboarding is about balance but even the falls can be satiating.  There is a lesson in every single one.  This tested all of us and our ability to persevere.  And to do it as a family.  I wouldn't trade it for the world and we all look forward to the snow next year!

O is strapped in his Ergo carrier, you can't see him - but can see his board!  More on that in another post (I've got videos to compile!).  Our first year snowboarding says everything about balance vs satiation.  Snowboarding is about balance but even the falls can be satiating.  There is a lesson in every single one.  This tested all of us and our ability to persevere.  And to do it as a family.  I wouldn't trade it for the world and we all look forward to the snow next year!

What satiates my personhood?  Here's a few things:

Rhythm.  I just watched this fantastic live video about 'rhythm'.  For some it may be 'routine'.  Either way - it's vital in my life and my kids.  I see the benefits of it in our household.  Weekday mornings around here have a beautiful rhythm:

6a Wake with toddler - make lunches, coffee, breakfast (sometimes I get ready during this time) - 7a Dad home from work - 7:20/30a older boys awaken (dress, make their beds and come down for breakfast) - 7:50/8a Brush teeth and get book bags ready for school/mom gets ready for the day - 8:20/30 leave for school.  

 This is from our evening rhythm.  The boys read for 15-20 minutes each night before bed.  We just recently altered this - O used to go to bed, he now joins them.

This is from our evening rhythm.  The boys read for 15-20 minutes each night before bed.  We just recently altered this - O used to go to bed, he now joins them.

The boys have time to play after packing their bags and before we leave for school.  It's a sight to see.  They know:  wake - dress - beds - breakfast - teeth - bags - play.  It's amazing.  And I love it.  They are confident, secure and independent - happy.

I like to read.  I am learning to take time out to read.  One of my favorite things to read about?  Parenting.  I know - huge shocker.  I now keep a book in the car door for just that reason (and knitting in the center console) when waiting in the epic car pick up line.  My current read - Masterminds and Wingmen.  Highly recommend whether you have boys or not.

Writing.  I love to write.  Communicating is paramount for me.  One of the things that brought the hubs and I together.  We are both talkers.  And this space allows me to do that.  Which is why I am back.  It's going to take awhile to get back into this rhythm - but I am looking forward to it!

Grace is last.  But most definitely not least.  Granting myself the grace to rest.  To fall asleep and take time.  Just because I am a SAHM, doesn't mean I have to work on the house, this family, the kids, etc... until my bones ache and I can't stand any longer.  I quit my job and career so I could minimize stresses in my life, making room to be a whole self.  For the kids, my husband - and me.  It's something I think a lot of SAHMs have difficulty with and can lead to some intense bouts of depression.  

 Perfect example.  I was doing dishes when this was happening.  Trent had just gotten home from hunting and O was elated to see him (as usual).  He promptly brought over a book for Dad to read, which also required many kisses and squeezes.  This man misses his kids SO much when he's away.  I am grateful for his doting, uncensored LOVE for the kids.  I stopped - dishes could wait.  I needed to hold on to this moment.

Perfect example.  I was doing dishes when this was happening.  Trent had just gotten home from hunting and O was elated to see him (as usual).  He promptly brought over a book for Dad to read, which also required many kisses and squeezes.  This man misses his kids SO much when he's away.  I am grateful for his doting, uncensored LOVE for the kids.  I stopped - dishes could wait.  I needed to hold on to this moment.

Working outside the home brought me anxiety, but being at home - secluded from adulthood, immersed in parent and spousal responsibilities accompanied with the never lightening load of guilt when taking time out can result in the mind dipping into a dark, dark place.  That's when grace for self comes into play.  Something I work desparetly on each day.

What do you think of 'balance'?  Do you feel like grace could play a bigger part in your life?  What are some of your must do's/have's?

Welcome Back

Whew.  Wow.  It's been awhile.

I'm glad I have waited though.  It's been a huge year for us; for me.  I've been a stay-at-home parent for a year and half now and I'm starting to finally feel comfortable in those shoes.  I'm getting there - although never really knowing if I will ever be completely there.  Accepting that indecisiveness seems like the greater portion of the battle.

It's been a year of homeownership trials and tribulations.  Parenting woes and successes.  Marriage earthquakes and rainbows - you get the idea.  It's been a lot.  We are a family of 6, 7 including our pup (although she sleeps the majority of the time).  Our little world feels epic most times, but is just that.  Little.

By comparison.

Our country and the world has seen changes - trials and tribulations, woes and successes, earthquakes, rainbows, floods and more on scales much larger than these four walls hold.  But that doesn't mean these four walls are not capable of epic change.  This is what brings me back to pen and paper - keyboard and screen rather.

I wrote a blog size Facebook post a few days ago (bleh - my face goes green on two levels, 1 - becoming a keyboard warrior and 2 - I wrote something lengthy and heartfelt on social media for everyone to see - yikes, not my style) about the safety of our schools.  Or rather, my disturbed and saddened take on the situation.  I couldn't take it.  There've been so many posts and shared pages about gun legislation - how Congress isn't going far enough or doing the right things or arming teachers is a bad idea - or a good idea, etc....  It's over whelming.  

As a stay-at-home parent, not once - ONCE have I seen a post about the significance of child rearing.  How we've abandoned it.  There is no financial benefit to a parent quitting a career to be home, rearing their children - in fact, quite the opposite.  Home to hear their woes, frustrations, issues in school, cyber bullying.  To speak with them about vengeance, love, hate - the emotions that fuel the turmoil that causes ANY human to act out in violence.  How many families still sit at the dinner table every evening?  Show of hands?  Ours.

This is my job.  This is my duty.  To be here for them.  I am not an educator - I am not a teacher.  I am an environment.  And aren't we all just that?  A product of our environment?

Slow down.  Soak it in.  Take a moment to reflect on what our true core values are in this country.  What have we abandoned - logic, love, compassion, kindness, foundation, community; the village.  What have we adopted - greed, negligence, entitlement, privacy, fear, piety - pride. 

Large million dollar houses or a community filled with love and compassion.  Not without it's faults and crime.  But a dedication to a great good - a larger picture.

A few months ago I came across a collection of videos I've had since Orion's birth.  They are beautiful to me.  And each time I watch it, I am reminded of why I gave up my 12 year career, my final Grammy Nomination nod - they are worth every moment.  Being there for them in anyway I can - and they for me.  This is our family.  We treasure all of it - the core to extended to surrogate.

I look forward to posting more in the future.  Stay tuned and please engage.

Around Here - Home!

Oh wow- it's been awhile.  Since January 28th in fact.  Since I started Vlogging.  Since life got, well - even more hectic.

We are a family of 6, so no surprise our day to day gets busy.  But what would make it even crazier?!  Buying a house!  That's right!  We just snagged our very first, hopefully-last-for-a-long-while home (if I change my address one more time my father will literally lose his mind and I will no longer be receiving mail from him).  It's OUR home.  No one is going to ask us to move, we don't have to renew a lease or decide we need more space so it's time to jet.  Our mortgage payment grace period is 3 times longer than any rental fee I've paid.  Whew.  

Needless to say - we are grateful.  And happy.  All of us.  Orion is sleeping better, the boys have a wonderful backyard with treehouse potential for days - a swing set, my hubs has a garage with his tools suiting his woodworking needs and me - my kitchen and dining room.  It's all open.   Finally - my family cooks together and we EAT together with room to spare.  

But it's not these things - it's that we came here together.  All 6 of us (7 including our pitty August).  And we aren't going anywhere in the foreseeable future.  We are setting roots and we all needed it.  Not just the boys.  We all needed to feel settled, at peace, knowing we aren't uprooting again.  It's not a tangible thing.

 Now that I've thrown out words like 'rooted' or dare I say 'safe' something catastrophic may be thrown our way, but even so - I know we can take it, Trent and I.  Our team here at Crutcher, Inc. will survive.  I know this because we have.  And now we can settle for a little while.  Before our wee tot becomes a toddler or puberty strikes the boys or our marriage faces challenges we aren't sure we can hurtle.  

I'll take the breath for now.  And revel in it.  Get back to this space and being with my family.  Which now, staying home (woot!!!) - I can do.  Above is snidbit from our Easter, our first holiday in our home.  Orion was in the ergo the bulk of the time with me, so there is shot of his sweet face while he chased after his brothers during the hunt.  Enjoy!  Look forward to seeing this space more often!

E02 Political Discourse and Marriage

Episode 02!  Below I discuss the 5 steps that help prevent divorce when Trent and I are discussing current political and social issues.  We are not one in the same politically which results in some interesting discussions.  Most importantly we try to remain respectful and honor one another's individuality.  To do that we try to stick to these 5 rules:

1.  Don't Yell (super hard for me)

2.  Stay on Topic (Trent... this one is particularly for you and your incessant habit of arguing semantics instead of the topic at hand)

3.  No Name Calling - that goes for politicians and pundits as well.  The name calling can become inadvertently (or purposefully) personal far to easily.

4.  Love Timer - seems juvenile, but this works for us.  A timer that forces us to reflect on the conversations, our differences and what brought us together.  There is a world outside of our political views that is beautifully vast and full of culture.  Our politics are not what brought us together - our love and respect for one anther; our personhood did.

5.  Active Listening which is great in any situation.  I could talk for hours on this subject alone and how we have become such a self obsessed species, that we could stand to work on this with everyone in our lives.  Hearing and listening are completely separate and different acts.

How'd we get here?  The Women's March in DC.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was just a couple weeks ago and Marley was studying key words like protest, picket, character, etc... in his class.  So we were asked as parents to use those words in the house in conversation so the kids could become familiar with them.  Conveniently the Women's march was that following weekend (after we received the email).  Our friends were going to DC, and the kids are very good friends with their children (we carpool and they are the other half of the Woodburn Village - I can't wait to discuss that further) - so it gave me a great opportunity to use these terms.

My husband noticed it on my screen that Saturday morning.  He immediately asked about it and I told him I was explaining it to the kids - in their terms.  His reply 'they asked? or you offered?'.  I explained that we received an email from the teacher and I felt it was a great way to connect with them about the words being used in school.  Also - the kids have been exposed to the political climate as of late through their peers and what has been said in their company (a whole other blog worthy topic on appropriate political discourse with children).

But why shouldn't I be able to talk to them about it?  The smug reply he had was enough to set me off.  And we did.  We debated, we got personal, we threatened our marriage over words and hurt feelings.  Over semantics, miscommunication, hearing but not listening.  We almost destroyed our family through blind passion and anger.  My husband left for work that afternoon with our foundation crumbling - tears in my eyes and fear in my bones.

And then I received this text message.

Beat 5 - my husband is a police officer.  He's had guns pointed at him, been attacked by drug users, dealt with over doses - you get it.  It's dangerous.  I can't stand when things are left like this.  Everyday he goes to work vowing to protect and serve us - our community, you and I, he takes the risk that he may not return home.

I know that seems dark - but it's the truth.  And the fear resting in my bones was just that.  The tears - shame and guilt that I couldn't let my pride down for the brief moment it takes to recognize our differences.  

The beauty in our individually and how much I love that man.  After this exchange we had a very important discussion on how to handle conversations like this in the future.  And then I received this:

pussy hats are the pink knitted caps seen at the Woman's Marches - they are worn to bring feminine solidarity - and I love to knit and yes, my husband knows how to as well.

We decided not to pretend we DON'T have our differences.  We've chosen to embrace our mental autonomy.  To honor our personhood and never, NEVER let one another forget how much they are loved and cherished.  May this be a lesson for all of us.  That we are here, and our actions and words effect one another delivered passively or for purpose.  Take care in these days when the political climate is hot and liberties may be at stake - that our words truly reflect the greater good.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher

Vlog E01 & Staying Home

Drum roll please... 

Ta Da!  My first Vlog.  I will spare all explanations on my new medium for converstation to the below video.  I hope you enjoy - if you do, let me know - if you don't, well - let me know.  Comments below!

As promised above - my decision to stay home.

In September we welcomed our fourth Son into the family - Orion.  An absolute joy and treasure - and a phenomenal home birth.  More on that here.  But that brought our count to a whopping 4 boys (the boy part being less significant but kind of cool - come on?! We almost have a basketball team!).  One of which was a newborn and now an infant. 

Truthfully - Trent and I were headed down this road from the beginning.  We knew if we added another muchacho to the mix one of us would need to stay home both financially and to support the family emotionally.  And I, after an awesome 12 years at the station and with the Symphony was ready.  I'd completed some amazing projects, nurtured a new relationship between CPR and the Symphony, worked with some incredible and historical individuals and even knocked quite a few things off my bucket list.  And - I missed our boys.  

I wanted to be home... and Trent had just gotten into the Police Academy and finally had the opportunity to achieve his childhood dream of becoming an officer.  It was a good fit.  So I took the longest maternity leave possible while I came to terms with my decision (I still had one foot in the door, I wasn't completely ready to be a 'dependent') and then, I wrote it.  One of the quickest, most honest letters I may have ever written.

Thank you Cincinnati Public Radio for the experience and life at the station.  But it's my time.  My time to be with my family, support my husband and explore new opportunities for myself.  I am ready.

Heh - kind of.  It hasn't been an easy transition for me.  I miss my financial autonomy.  I've never been a dependent.  And I've always been working in Music.  There have been many tears, fights and questioning over what I have chosen.  What kind of proud feminist becomes financially dependent and subservient to her husband?!!  Well - here is the kicker.  I'm not.  

My husband and I are a team - and if it weren't for him being the much needed broken record reminding me of that in my days of doubt - I'd still be a train wreck.  Here's the thing I've realized.  It takes a strong woman.  Not to become a stay-at-home mom, but to realize what is truly important to them.  For me - being there for my husband and children means the world to me.  I am tired of navigating my work schedule to fit my needs at home.  And then the one thing, most important sacrifice I'd been making?  Me.

What I've learned is that being at home isn't just about being home for everyone else, but finally having the opportunity to carve time out for myself.  I love to knit, write, chat, talk, communicate - I've joined a knitting club, we have Woodburn Village dinners, and now I can write and vlog here.

So that was our decision.  My husband and I.  Is it always easy - uh, no! but what marriage with 4 busy, chaotic kiddos is?  But it's our's.  Our decision, our family.  And my life.  It was my career, it is my passion to be here - present in this nest filled with hectic schedules, homework, laughter, fights, conflicts and communication.  I'm fulfilled and proud to stay-at-home.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher