/**/ The Purposeful Wife

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It's Here

Over a year ago a few things happened in the internet world that forced me to reluctantly agree.

It was time to be done blogging as The Purposeful Wife.

Niall and I decided we wanted to blog together. We came up with a name and purchased the domain. We brainstormed ideas and talked a lot about what we hoped to accomplish. But we never got it up and running.

I missed blogging on the regular. The truth is, over our last two moves, some of the best friends I've made in our new home towns have been with ladies I first met online via blogging. The Lord has used this platform to enrich my life in many ways.

Even with readers turned friends who I've still never met in person- you give me book recommendations, inspire me to keep on in this motherhood and homeschooling thing, and lift up my soul in so many ways. Thank you.

But Niall was in grad school and working full time. He spent his days on the job and his nights in the classroom. Weekends were for homework, rest, worship.

We had a fourth baby. Then he graduated and got a job in Texas. And this summer we had another big move.

Now we've been settling in Arlington for a little over a month. Grad school is behind us. The baby is almost one. So we've turned our attention back to the poor neglected domain that we bought one year ago.

It is finally up and running friends!

I hope you will join me over at The House O'Neill.

Content will be much the same as it was here- parenting, books, home- and how it all intersects with the gospel. Niall has mostly stuck with the behind the scenes tech stuff, but he will (Lord willing!) be writing the occasional post to make this site more of an offering for the entire family.

And if you like what you see there, would you please do us a big favor and share it? Tell your friends, repost via social media, sign-up for our newsletter. Getting as many eyeballs on it as possible helps us tremendously in getting it off the ground 💛.

Thank you so much for reading along with me here. I am so thankful for your friendship and support! It's been a good seven years (yikes- how is that possible?!).

I'm looking forward to lots of new good things at The House O'Neill.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

On the Birthing of a New Blog

In January I mentioned that I was working on developing a new blog. A sweet friend reminded me that it's been two months and no further word... so maybe like her, you'd like to know if there is still going to be a new blog, and what's coming down the pipeline?

All I can say is that collaborating with one's spouse on a project changes things. Blogging has always been, up until this point, my solo pursuit. I'm used to honing in on my own vision and preferences, and doing what I want to do, when I want to.

The blog we are working on birthing is a collaborative site. I am very excited about this! But I've also been surprised at how that changes the process. Mostly, because of my husband's hectic work and school schedule, its been s...l...o...w.

I've actually been writing posts, planning, and working on a second ebook most week days. My plan is to get all of the pieces in place that I can, so that when we have time to put our heads together and finish the big things, the rest of everything is ready to roll. I CANNOT WAIT to get this site going 😃!

The content over there will be very similar to what I've posted here, so if you've enjoyed your time reading, I think you will still love it. There will be more of a whole family focus, and posts from my husband Niall too. Super fun!

I'd love your help in the meantime. What have been your favorite types of content here? Are there any particular posts that stick out in your memory? What are some areas of Christian living, family, and home that you'd like to trouble shoot in this community?

I'd be honored to have you share your input 💗.

And you can still find me from time-to-time on Instagram and Facebook in the meanwhile.

Prayers appreciated? Lord willing, I'd like to have everything up and running in May.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

10 Books I Reread Last Year

Happy New Year!!!

I've been very quiet online for the last couple of months... and there is a reason for that. I had a few issues in 2017 because another woman with a very different "purpose" has a similar online name. I've never been in love with this blog name anyway, and these little "issues" helped push me to finally making a change.

There will be a new site, new articles, and new purpose 😉, coming soon. With a new baby and a husband in school/working full time, making the big change has taken much longer than I would like.

So hang tight friends! In the mean time, I thought it would be fun to share ten books I reread last year.

Gretchen Rubin says that the best kind of reading is rereading, and I have to agree. If a book is really worthwhile, it can take a few times through to really absorb and implement its principles into your life. These ten books were worth it for me, and a few of them might very well merit another reread someday.

Stepping Heavenward. This fictional diary of a Christian woman from her teen years through middle age is a gold mine of insight. The last time I read it I didn't have kids yet, so it spoke to me on a deeper and different level this go around. I know a young lady in her early 20's who has read it annually since she first got a copy at age 15, and I think all the more highly of her for it.

Lies Women Believe. Nancy Leigh DeMoss unpacks lies we believe in every area of our lives as women. Some of them are fairly obvious, but this really challenged my thinking. I first visited it in college, so there was much material that felt new for me to glean.

Give Them Grace. If I had to choose one thing that marked every aspect of my motherhood, I would want it to be grace.

Fit to Burst. I deeply appreciate Rachel Jankovic's views on Christian motherhood. This book was even better than I remembered it.

Bringing Up Bebe. A fascinating look at how French parents differ from their American counterparts, from the perspective of an American living in Paris. I am inclined to believe that my last two babies have been easier mostly because of the chapter on sleep. I rechecked it out from the library before Maeve's birth to brush up on that one section, and ended up rereading the entirety because it is just that enjoyable and helpful.

The Happiness Project. The first Gretchen Rubin title I picked up that made me a solid fan. I love the delightful mix of science, personal anecdotes, and literary quotations that mark her style.

The Hiding Place. Niall read this for the first time a few months ago and couldn't stop talking to me about it. I hadn't read it since high school, and it had been on my list of titles to revisit for awhile, so he pushed me over the edge. Once again, even more compelling than I remembered.

For the Children's Sake. After almost two years of homeschooling, I was ready to revisit this winsome look at Charlotte Mason's approach to education. It is very refreshing and inspiring!

The Hardest Peace. Scripture urges us to remember our own mortality, and this gorgeous memoir of Kara Tippetts fight with the cancer that killed her helps me to do just that. Her words on marriage, parenting, forgiveness, and the past all make it worthwhile to read even beyond the cancer.

When Sinners Say I Do. Still the best book I've read on marriage.

And of course there is a stack of books I didn't get to last year that I'd like to reread this year 😊.

Do you reread much? What titles merit a top place on your list?

Friday, November 3, 2017

This is M, and this is her Birth Story

Friends, meet Miss M. She came to join our family on Friday, October 13th... which apparently was a popular day to have a baby, as I know of three other ladies who delivered the same day 😊. Who says its unlucky?!

7 pounds, 5 ounces, 21 inches long. She has been an excellent eater and sleeper just like my last baby, which is such a pleasant surprise and blessing! I thought that surely I would never get a baby as easy as E ever again... but here she is. Thank you Lord for unmerited favor!

Which, speaking of unmerited favor and answers to prayer- this was my best labor and delivery experience yet.

An alternative title for this post could be, How an Epidural is the Most Amazing Invention Ever.

For my first two babies, I read as much as I could about natural, drug-free birth. Several dear friends have amazing stories of going that route, and I was sold. I didn't want anything interfering with my body's natural laboring process, nursing, or bonding with baby.

I wanted the dreamy rush of endorphins that the natural advocates talked about. I was also under the impression that natural birth reduced my chance of tearing.

Just for a recap:

Baby #1, S, was an emergency c-section at 27 weeks. Everything about S's birth and early life was just different because of her extreme prematurity, so in many ways #2 felt like he was my first.

Baby #2, W, came naturally and quickly. My tear, repair, and recovery were very rough. While I know giving birth isn't easy for anyone, I consider that experience to be a traumatic birth.

Baby #3, I wasn't sure of my birth plan. When I got to the hospital though, I desperately wanted the epidural. I sat still for the needle through the intensest of contractions only for the baby to start crowning... no drugs for me. It was a better experience than W's in several ways, but still no fun.

All that to say, three stressful experiences.

M was my longest pregnancy yet. Six days past my due date I had contractions for an entire day. Not terribly painful, but intense enough to make me think it could be happening. They would pick up, sometimes coming every four minutes for the better part of an hour, only to taper off again.

My mom made the two hour drive to our place, hoping baby would be joining us before the night was out.

No such luck.

By Friday morning, I was 41 weeks and the contractions had stopped completely. My husband was getting ready to go to Ireland for his brother's wedding in a few weeks, so we were anxious to have some time with baby out before he left. Also, my mom needed to be home by Friday night... so I called my lovely midwife who was on call at the hospital that very day.

She told us to come in and she would break my water. After a good, full night's sleep and a leisurely morning with my kids, we slowly made our way in, stopping for Starbucks on the way. It felt like a date! Haha.

Once I was all checked in and comfy, she broke my water. At which point things heated up fast. The sweet nurse gave me the i.v. fluid prerequisite to the epidural, and the anesthesiologist arrived promptly. My contractions were definitely more painful, but still spaced out enough that I could get the drugs in relative comfort.

I will say that the epidural itself is ten minutes of no fun. But knowing the bullet I was dodging, it seemed an easy price to pay.

The nurse assured me that this was unusual, but I also had that pins and needles sensation in my legs and feet, and it didn't go away until several hours after birth when all of the meds wore off. A slight nuisance, but again, no big deal.

Once the medicine had taken effect, I just laid back in bed, relaxed, and couldn't stop talking about how excited I was to meet our new baby. My husband couldn't believe the difference- everything was so calm, relaxed... festive even.

Within an hour it was time to push. At this point I felt super nervous, because I remembered the trial that had been in previous experiences. I really didn't want to do it. But once you get to this point, you don't really have a choice, do you 😉?

My midwife told me to imagine that I was pushing. Yes, imagine! *Snort* I imagined as hard as I could. This went on through a couple of contractions, and they would tell me to stop at certain intervals.

Finally I burst out, "Am I even doing anything?! I don't feel like I'm doing anything!"

To which my midwife responded, "Um... her head is out."

OH. What?

Wait, really?!?

Really really.

It was seriously the best day of my life.

She had a short cord, so I held her low until they had cut it. When they put her on my chest I was just able to enjoy the beauty and the wonder of it all, no stress or pain or agony. It was the most clear and beautiful bonding moment I've had with a newborn to date.

Now for the photographic evidence.

There are no pictures of me immediately after giving birth to W. Probably because I was screaming my head of for the hour long repair. This was at least three hours later- note the dazed and slightly desperate look in the eyes. I am smiling... but I'm still not sure at this point that vaginal delivery is any improvement on a cesarean.

Just moments after delivering E. The immense feeling of relief that came as soon as she was out is one I will never forget. I'm pretty much wiped out in this shot. The purple dots all over my face? Blood vessels burst while pushing. Yuck.

Finally, here's me immediately after M was born:

No, it's not Christmas. No, I didn't just win the lottery. That, my friends, is what makes me the poster child for birth via epidural.

Everything I wanted from a natural birth, I ended up getting from an epidural.
  • An amazing rush of endorphins and instant affection for my baby
  • A great first nursing experience
  • For the first time EVER, no tear or need for a repair after delivery
I don't know how many more babies are in our future, and I know that I may not always have the opportunity to get an epidural, depending on how quickly a labor progresses {I'm looking at you #3!}.

But I do know that this amazing experience made me very willing to do it again. Thinking about birth hasn't made me shudder {I didn't even want to talk about babies for over a year after my last two deliveries}. Niall is ecstatic with how smoothly everything went for me, and how much calmer and healthier I've felt in the aftermath. 

I know that epidurals aren't for everyone. I know many women who have had gorgeous, memorable, life-giving natural birth experiences. I've heard the reasoning, and I understand the arguments.

But I will say that after a few traumatic experiences in the labor and delivery ward, giving birth with an epidural was a healing, wholesome, and redemptive experience for this mama. 

We are just so in love with this sweet little lady. She has a dimple, just like my other two girls. I'm not sure who she looks like yet, but I can't wait to watch her grow and develop, and to see her little personality and face unfold. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

5 Strengths, 1 Weakness as a Homemaker

There are affiliate links in this post. That means that if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a commission at no extra charge to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here. Thanks for your support of The Purposeful Wife! 

While there are varying skill levels, from messies to cleanies, there is no such thing as a perfect homemaker or the perfect home. We all have room for some improvements!

Last week I enjoyed the many sessions available through the online Homemaking Ministries Conference {I'm still catch-up watching this week and probably will be for awhile! So many good sessions!}. If you missed the live launching of the conference, you can still purchase a "ticket" at any time and enjoy lifetime access to each video session and the conference notebook.

Watching the sessions and thinking through the topics, I've had a chance to reflect on my own home. I'm also in high nesting gear {due date is Friday!}, so naturally I'm organizing all of the closets and reflecting on my home in general.

There are a few areas I am very thankful to feel like I've finally figured out in our current season {which I'm sure are bound to be wildly disrupted with the coming of a newborn! Ha!}.

Laundry. One load each morning Monday-Saturday, started before breakfast, switched while kids play, folded and put away while I work with my six year old on her homeschool. This happens most days, so if I miss a day or two, we still have clean underwear and socks.

I don't like mixing my loads up too much, so I have a laundry sorter {similar} in my closet to divide loads. Whichever bag is the fullest is the load that gets washed that day. Sometimes I'll combine light colors with whites, or vivid colors with darks, but I'm able to keep things generally separate.

Getting dinner on the table. After naps and reading a few books together, the kids go outside and I make dinner. I've even been cooking double to fill our freezer for postpartum days, so I feel very accomplished right now! Cooking isn't my favorite thing, but its a lot easier without kiddos underfoot 😉. I always have to give myself a pep talk to get started, but once I'm in the swing of it, its not so bad.

Weekly meal planning the day before I grocery shop is the key to making this happen.

Homeschool. Not necessarily a homemaking task, but a regular part of life in our home. I've grown a lot in consistency over the last few months, my daughter expects to have to do her school work each week morning, and I'm finally in a good groove of making sure what needs to happen is happening.

Kid's morning chores. Making beds and unloading the dishwasher happens every weekday morning, and it contributes greatly to the general orderliness of our home!

I've been realizing lately that my kids are probably capable of quite a bit more than what I'm asking of them, so now that these chores are down, I'd like to start slowly training them in a few other areas over the course of the next few months.

Mother of 7 Amy Roberts from Raising Arrows has a great session for the Homemaking Conference all about training children to help around the home, and I can't wait to implement her suggestions and printables!

Daily pick ups. We pick up toys, shelve books, and clear clutter off tables 2 or 3 times each day. My house may not be in perfect shape, but it is much more pleasant and tidy this way! The more I ask my kids to do these things, the better they get at it. So we are just practicing a lot 😉.

There is, however, one area that I find myself falling desperately short in, week after week.

Cleaning. Between the school work and the dishes, laundry and meal prep, homeschool and general tidying.... our house runs smoothly, but I struggle to find/make time for scrubbing the bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, and mopping each week.

My home is picked up. But it's also kind of filthy.

A friend recently recommended Dana White's book, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. It was a quick and fun read, with plenty of good advice and generous doses of humor.

In the book Dana talks a lot about pre-made decisions- determining ahead of time that doing the dishes every day, for example, is a non-negotiable. Most of us are great about rationalizing our way out of things we don't want to do {especially cleaning!}. A pre-made decision is supposed to guard against this human tendency.

I think this helped me to identify my main struggle with weekly cleaning. I've set a time for cleaning each day {in the morning, right before school}. But I pull from a list of cleaning tasks, trying to decide in the moment WHAT I will clean on a particular day.

If we are running behind, or kids are more underfoot than usual because the weather has cooped them up indoors... it can be difficult to pick a task that fits my constraints. This makes it easy to waste my time rationalizing away what needs to be done.

Sticking with my predetermined time slot, I'm going to try assigning each particular job to a particular day. I'm hoping this will eliminate my decision fatigue and just help me to get it done! Not perfectly, but anything would be better than the sporadic cleaning I've been guilty of in recent months.

What areas do you dominate as a homemaker? And where could you use improvement? I love reflecting on and trouble shooting these sorts of topics 😊.
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