Monday, October 31, 2011

Living in Dracula's Dungeon

Another advantage of Jason staying at home is that he was able to take over the Halloween decorating this year.







He did a great job. Imani told me numerous times that she thought he was a "really, really good decorator."




He definitely goes a little more for the gory in his decorating than I usually do and he sure knows how to spook up a house.   Imagine eating dinner with this on your cake plate.




We still had some of the whimsical decorations out too - like my favorite little tree with these fun characters we bought at Pier1 Imports last year.




Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures at night, but he changed out nearly EVERY light bulb in our house with an orange, red or black bulb.  It is pretty creepy. I've felt like I live in a dungeon.


We still had the mice up the stairs, like last year.  This is one of my favorite decorations and Jason traced and cut each and every one.  I think we found the template on Marthastewart.com  If you're feeling like splurging, you can buy them at Michael's too, but they will cost you far more than if you take the time to make them yourself.





Every day, I would come home and more of my house had been spun into a web.










See those creepy guys peering out from behind my curtains?  I almost freaked one night when I first noticed them.








Everywhere you turn, there is a monster peeking out from a corner.  I'm surprised Imani doesn't have nightmares.







This year, our mantel remained decorated as it has been, except Jason spun it up in his web and added some gourds and a tombstone that we bought at Rite Aid (our favorite store).  There are eerie lights that run behind the window to spook up the mantel at night.




Of course we put out our frames with spooky text too. 








I think Jason was extra inspired because he just finished reading Dracula. This, coupled with my love of the Twilight series, dictated our costumes this year.




We really get into Halloween every year. If you missed my post highlighting all of our costumes over the years, you can check it out here.


Nope, no fuzzy bear costume for Noah. He was a little vampire too.




Even Maggie has a costume and I must say, it's quite appropriate.




Happy Halloween, from our dungeon to yours!



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Living the Dream

So much has happened in the past few months since I last blogged.  Last summer, when I took a hiatus from writing, I came back announcing I was pregnant.

Well, this year . . . I'm not pregnant.

And I'm still fully employed. 

In fact, not only did I return to my full time job, but I also signed up as a stylist for Stella & Dot. I'm having so much fun selling this fabulous line of jewelry and handbags.  You can check out my online store at http://www.stelladot.com/stephatkins

Before you think I'm a complete slacker, I did guest blog for Grace at Sense and Simplicity once. You can read it here (there's even a video of Noah).

But why haven't I blogged regularly? For one, I've been stressed out and busy! For two, every moment I'm not working or having a trunk show for Stella & Dot, I'm spending time with my children.

But recently, a decision in our family has put my mind at ease and allowed for less stress.

Jason and I have decided that Jason would become a stay at home dad.

Yes, you read that right - Jason left his office job at Cornell, where he worked for 12 years, to stay home full time with Noah and Imani.

I couldn't be more thrilled.


Before you think I'm making gobs of money in my full time sales job, let me just tell you that this decision will force us to follow a budget -- something we started doing with this year's New Year's Resolution, but something we had the luxury of breaking when we really wanted to make a big purchase.

It's requiring some sacrifices like selling Jason's shiny, big pick up truck and cutting back on Direct TV.

When we've told people of our decision, we've received a variety of reactions. Some guys have told Jason that they're jealous -- that they'd love to stay home and have their wives provide financially for their families.  Others have questioned our decision and Jason's manhood.

Even some women who I've told have said it's "crazy" and they couldn't imagine their husbands staying at home.  When we've explained that the cost of daycare for two children makes Jason's take home pay seem meager, it doesn't matter.  For some, working for a paycheck -- no matter how small -- defines you.

These reactions always trouble me.  I can't believe we, as a society, value money more than we value our children.  What job is more important than raising a good, kind, healthy human being? 

And what have we been smoking to believe it's healthier to send our kids off to daycare to be raised by a stranger so we can make a small salary just to say that we work?

Don't get me wrong. I completely understand the need for daycare for many families. I've been there. As a single mom with Imani, I didn't have a choice but to send her to daycare while I worked.  And I understand that for some families, both parents must work to make ends meet.

 I get it.

But I have been utterly shocked by the response in saying my husband is staying home. I know if it had been I who had chosen to stay home, the response from many would have been different. 

To be honest, when I was pregnant and the topic of Jason staying home came up, I was adamantly opposed. "'It would be terrible for our marriage" I'd tell people flatly.  I thought I'd be jealous.

But when Jason took his four week's of paternity leave, I left the house each day happy, confident and focused on my work. I didn't worry about Imani and Noah because I knew they were in loving hands.  When I came home each day, the kids were happy -- Imani had adventures to tell me about and Noah's smile told my heart his day was good.




What's more . . . my house was spotless (have I mentioned Jason has OCD?), the laundry was done and each day I would walk in to the aroma of dinner on the table.
All I had to focus on was spending time with my children.

Did you know that there were roughly 158,000 stay at home dads in the US in 2010 compared to 5.3 million stay at home moms?  The trend for stay at home dads is growing though.  Fortune Magazine reported that over a third of its “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” had a stay-at-home spouse.

I'm blessed to have a husband who is man enough not to measure his worth by his paycheck and who is confident enough to break societal norms to do what we feel is right for our family. 
I'm also blessed to have a job that pays well that I actually enjoy (most of the time) .
Jason has mentioned his desire to contribute financially in some way.  I've suggested he start his own blog on being a stay at home dad but he didn't seem interested.

I've urged him to become a regular writer for Decorating Addiction, but still no response there.

He might pursue artwork (since that's what he went to school for), but he's not sure.

He could always flip houses, or help others with their renovations.

But for now, I'm happy with him just playing 500 Rummy with Imani and changing Noah's diapers.

And don't forget - the man can practically make up his salary in his weekly coupon savings. 
My next blog post might be about how we built an addition on our house out of boxes of toothpaste.

Did you think the couponing had slowed because a baby was born? 
Think again . . . he's only gotten better at his skill!  Yes, this sexy man still holds the title of the Coupon Cowboy.  How lucky am I?



So yeah, we're living the dream -- but this dream isn't about how much money we're making.

We're sacrificing a pick up truck in exchange for not missing out on Noah's first steps.



I might not be able to buy a new pair of heels in two different colors so that Imani can ride the bus home and complete homework in her own house with a dad who cares rather than at an after school program with 50 other kids.  She gets to spend time with her baby brother too.





I have a feeling none of us will ever regret it.



Related Posts with Thumbnails