(L-R): Whitney, John, River, Austen, Andy, me, Andrew, Chase, Sky, Emma
Hi, and welcome to my blog! I’m so glad you’re here. My name is Tanya, and I’m the one there in the middle, in the yellow dress. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since the Gulf War in the 1990’s! That might seem a long time ago to you, but to me, it was like yesterday.
I grew up in Texas, Andy grew up in Pennsylvania, and after many years of moving around wherever the Air Force sent us, we finally make our home in south-central Pennsylvania. We are close to Andy’s hometown.
Whitney, our firstborn, is a talented artist, blogger, photographer, singer, and busy stay-at-home mom. She is married to John, who works crazy hours as a sales representative for a national phone company. They have given us 3 adorable grandchildren – outgoing and energetic River (7), introverted and sensitive Austen (4), and smiley, yet sassy, baby Chase (1).
Our 21-year-old son, Andrew, graduated from South Puget Sound Community College in Spring 2015 with associate’s degree in business administration, and is at Central Washington University studying business. He is a huge Marvel comics fan and science fiction book lover. A self-proclaimed “nerd,” he can be found playing Heroclix at the local comic book shop regularly. Before getting into CWU, he was the youngest member of our home parish’s pastoral council in Washington. He now works full-time with peer ministry at CWU while attending there.
Our 18-year-old, Sky, is attending college at HACC. She has been accepted to Penn State and will transfer in 2018. She is smart and wants to save money and not die from an avalanche of student loans. Let me just say, she graduated VALEDICTORIAN from Timberline High School in Lacey, WA, and is one of the smartest people I have ever known. I just have to mention this because I’m her mom and I’m quite proud! I’m not sure how I produced a valedictorian, but you know what? I did!
Our youngest, 14-year-old Emma, is also an honors student in high school. She’s a math whiz, a super talented singer and pianist, amazing artist, and budding photographer. I often call her Whitney’s little “mini-me” because of her artistic and musical talent. She is also my own mini-me, as much as she probably hates to hear that, but she has my freckled Irish skin, strawberry-blond highlights, and bony elbows. She is also addicted to chocolate and old VHS Disney movies.
Luke is the sweetest, gentlest, 8-year-old golden retriever you could ever meet, and loves every single person who exists in this universe. As far as he is concerned, there is no enemy. What is an ememy? He doesn’t even understand the definition. He is the absolute worst guard dog in the world, probably because of his aforementioned traits. If you want to rob our house, he will assist you. He is an attention hog, loves cuddles and cheek rubs, and patiently lets the grandkids hang and crawl all over him. Here’s a typical scene at our house…
His biggest dream is to become a lap dog. Here is a pic of John giving him a false sense of hope.
My Faith: Our journey to Catholicism
Andy and I are Catholic converts. We both grew up in Christian homes but of different denominations – as kids, he was a member at St. John’s Lutheran Church in the Gettysburg area, and I was a member at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio (the original Fredericksburg Road campus). Through the first years of our marriage, we attended many different denominations as the Air Force moved us around the country. We finally felt God calling us to embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith in 2004. After much prayer and study, we entered the Catholic church as a family on June 4, 2005, and our 3 younger children were baptized that day. It has been a wonderful journey, and our faith is the most important thing in our family. It is the foundation that holds us together, that brings us joy through the good times, and strength through the bad. Andy and I are very active in our parish, and like Andrew, we both volunteer for the middle school youth group, EDGE.
My Vocation: Why am I Still at Home?
I was a homeschooling mom for 15 years, starting when Whitney was in first grade. I loved and cherished those days! In 2011, the Air Force moved us to Washington State, and at the same time Andy and I decided to send Sky and Emma, who were in grades 5 and 8 at the time, to public school. Our son AJ had already been going to public school in Pittsburgh for a year, and was thriving. As it turned out, our girls’ first year in public school also went very well. By the end of the school year, we knew we had made the right decision.
Although I strongly believe I gave my kids the best start in their education by homeschooling, public school has been such a positive experience for all of our kids, and I feel it is now the best choice for our family.
I always loved being available full-time for my kids, through their baby and toddler years, and through their homeschooling years. So when they started attending public school, I couldn’t imagine going back to work. I still wanted to be there for them 24/7, and just felt that my place – my “job” – was still at home. So now I say I am a still-at-home mom after all these years. :)
There are a lot of things I love about being a still-at-home mom. I love being my own boss, I love scheduling my own days, I love making my house a home. I love pouring my time and energy into serving my family instead of a place of employment. I love just about all things domestic, including cleaning (yes, I said that!), organizing, keeping the home, saving money, caring for my kids, planning fun things with my family, and being full-time chauffeur (haha). I truly like being able to take care of things at home so my husband can focus on his job, and my kids can focus on their school work and extracurricular activities. They’ll never get these days back, and I want them to be good ones.
I am also a planner, a list-maker, and a self-trained early bird. I have learned to love being up before the sun, even though I am a nightowl by nature – so I guess you could say I went from nightowl to brightowl. I definitely get more things done by getting up early, and while it is always a challenge, I love it! And truly, there is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing a long list that is completely checked off.
My absolutely favorite thing to do is cook, and being a still-at-home mom gives me plenty of opportunities to do so! I love to try new recipes and share my own recipes. Much of my time at home while the kids are in school is spent experimenting with new recipes or changing up old ones. I try to cook from scratch as often as possible – first of all, because it tastes so good! But I also like knowing what ingredients are going into the food I am making. As of January 1, 2015, I have been eating low-carb, so I am starting to also include some low-carb recipes that I have had success with. You will still find some of my older recipes on my blog that are not low-carb, but now I mostly post low-carb recipes. I still make some “carby” foods for my kids, like macaroni and cheese or banana bread. :)
I want to encourage you!
I really love sharing tips and ideas that I have discovered through my years of being a mom and wife that have helped me with cooking, cleaning, time management, parenting, or growing in my faith. Some of the things I share are really simple, but may have taken me a while to figure out. I would have loved to have had access to blogs by older, more experienced stay-at-home moms when I was a young mom of little kids, but that was another time. It is my hope that through my blog now, I can encourage stay-at-home moms to not only embrace your roles, but to love it, too! And this goes for any stay-at-home moms of school-aged and older kids. No mom should feel forced to go back to work if her heart is still at home – even if her kids are all in school. Being a “still-at-home mom” of older kids isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly not the most popular choice – but I think it’s all about being able to make that choice and not feeling judged for it. There is still so much we can do during these years to benefit our families, and the teen years go flying by just as quickly as those baby years.
Our teens need us now
more than ever.
**A SPECIAL THANKS TO MY TALENTED DAUGHTER WHITNEY
FOR THE THIRD, FOURTH, AND FIFTH PICTURES ON THIS PAGE**
To see more of her beautiful photography, please visit her blog, Leaves of My Tree.