Hey Friends and Welcome to our Friday series, Rays of Sunshine. This series is meant to feature different women from different walks of life; giving us a small glimpse into their lives with the hope of leaving you encouraged.
This week's guest blogger is our very talented sister-in-law Ashley. So take a read and get to know her.
My name is Ashley Keylor. I am a lover of Jesus first and foremost; truly thankful for every blessing He has so undeservingly laid out before me. I am daily reminded of my many faults and failures and usually have many opportunities to apologize to my kiddos and husband for my shortcomings. I say those things to make sure that you start out knowing that we DON’T have it all together by any means. I am a very normal mom, well, a little crazy, but normal. J I have two sweet, hilarious, spunky girls (Kennedy-6 and Adelynn-3) that keep me on my toes. I am a Kindergarten teacher at a private school. I also have a painting business called The Busy Brush, which I randomly began a few years ago at the prodding of my friends. I truly thought that only my friends and family would order from me, but the Lord blessed it and it soon turned into a way for me to support one of the ministries dearest to my heart, Amazima. If you have not read about this ministry, here’s a link to the first post I ever read. It will be well worth the read (get our some Kleenexes though).If there’s a word you can use to describe me, it’s probably random (or schizophrenic -ha!). We don’t ever have a set plan for our day. I am a strange bird in that way. On one hand, I am extremely type A. I LOVE organization and structure. Tupperware and clean closets set my pulse racing...nerdy but true. On the other hand, my brain is very artsy. It loves creativity and rebels against a schedule. See what I mean about the schizophrenia? With that said, however, we do have a few things that we try to do everyday together, so I will do my best to sum those up for you.
Let me first back up a little bit and tell you about where I work…
I teach Kindergarten at a University Model School, which is a really unique program. It is basically set up in the same way a university is, in that students go to school 2 or 3 days a week for a particular class and then work on projects, review, and study on their off days. It began with parents that desired more time at home with their children and more involvement in their education, but who also saw a lot of strengths in the school system like social development through having classmates and a certified teacher created curriculum to make sure all of the bases are being covered academically. The other bonus, of course, is the huge support through the teachers and other parents that are all involved in the same model that you are. I began teaching here when I had my first daughter. I wasn’t really sure what it was going to be like, but loved the administration, their heart for the Lord, and the fact that I would be able to teach only 2 days a week and be home with my daughter the rest of the time. As I moved throughout the year, I was so impressed. I saw children that wouldn’t have necessarily been at the top of their class, excelling because of the amazing parental aspect. I also saw a school that wasn’t just Christian in name, but that was full of people that truly loved Jesus. People that truly loved each other, served each other, and prayed over each other. It was a blessing to be a part of it and my passion for teaching was reignited. As Kennedy got older, we became more convinced that this was a place that we wanted our kiddos to be a part of.Kennedy is now 6, and is in 1st grade. She goes to school on Monday and Wednesday while I am teaching. Adelynn stays with one of my sweet friends on Monday and Wednesday. I wish she could be with me every day, but to be honest, I feel like having a couple of days apart, makes me super thankful for the days I do get to be home with her. I feel like I am more grateful and intentional with them both (at least more so than I am during the summer months when I have no breaks). Our Mondays and Wednesdays are a little crazy. We get up, get ready, have a quick breakfast, are off to school (have a little prayer time in the car on the way), come home, hang with daddy and wrestle, bath and bed. Not much to write home about. : ) Our “at-home days,” which is what they are referred to at my school, are a little more interesting.
We typically get up around 8. Being a night owl, I am very blessed to have girls that don’t get up super early. We usually eat breakfast and get to watch a little cartoon before we get our day started. While they are watching their cartoon, I respond to parent e-mails/ questions and get things all ready for our home school time. For Adelynn, I get out some puzzles, coloring books, or little games that she can play individually while I am helping Kennedy with her harder work. I save these things specifically for our school time so that it’s better at keeping her attention. I also get out some things I can go over with her during the parts of Kennedy’s work that can be done independently, so that I can stagger them and feel like they are both getting my attention, and not lose my mind in the process. Ha!BEFORE we start the day, we gather up together on the couch and have a little quiet time together, have some prayer, and then we have a little 20-30 minute work out session. This is more for me than for them. They love it, but the part of me that doesn’t like structure, needs their accountability to get this in during the day. Kids are notorious for loving schedules and following rules, so that’s very handy. We just turn up the praise music (I like anything with a good fast beat) and start moving. We dance, we run in place, we do push ups, sit-ups, planks, dance a little more, rinse and repeat until our playlist runs out of songs. Not only do we start the day having already crossed working out off of my to do list, but we also had fun together and got wiggles out so that we are ready to sit still and do our work. We try to do about 3 assignments and if we get through those with hard work and happy hearts, they earn a play break. After we finish all of our school, we end our school day with some fun reading time. I think this is such a sweet time with my girls. Reading is so important for them. When we do this, we are simultaneously making memories, developing their love for reading, spurring on creativity, and getting some much needed cuddle time.
After we finish school, we do any chores that need to be done. They help me clean up our school things, make sure our rooms are picked up, empty the dishwasher, help me get dinner started, etc… Anything they can help with, I try to let them. It’s so important for them to learn how to do these things and to feel like an important part of our family. They TRULY love to help and even ask me if they can please mop. Ha!
Then it’s time for nap time, sweet nap time. This is a required event in our day. Kennedy is 6 and she still goes in to lay down for nap time. Sometimes she sleeps and sometimes she reads, but it’s never been a question of whether we are going to do it. We all need a quiet break during the day (especially me), so it’s good for all of us. This is the time when I get all of my lesson planning done, finish dinner, and start on any painting projects I have going on, so that the backgrounds will be ready to go after the girls go to bed. Now, when I mentioned being random, plenty of this goes on as well. I usually have a to do list, but sometimes I throw it out the window and do something fun. The other day, I randomly decided I wanted to sew a yellow and white chevron curtain for our kitchen. I called around to see if anyone had any yellow and white chevron fabric, but it all had to be ordered. I have no patience, so I scrounged through my fabric piles, got some yellow paint and painters tape and began to make my own. I quickly realized I was in for a big job. I threw some stuff in my crock pot to make some easy black bean and lentil soup, so I didn’t have to worry about dinner. I am loving my crock pot these days. We are trying to eat more healthy and it’s so easy to just put things in and let them cook while I am at work or while I am doing school with the girls. By the time my girls got up from nap, I was almost done painting the fabric. We ate dinner and I asked my husband to please play with the girls outside for a few minutes while I finished the curtain up. He is a great dad and a sweet husband and was glad to help out (I’ll mention that I try to spread out my crazy ideas and projects so I don’t wear him out though). Now, because I did this project, I accomplished nothing on my to do list. This bites me in the tail sometimes and causes me to have to stay up way too late finishing things later that night, but for some odd reason. It’s totally worth it to me. I look up as I am working that night and see a fun new curtain in the window and it makes me beam. I also feel like I got to break away from the mundane and do something spontaneous and fun, which is good for the soul. To do lists are necessary, but you can’t be a slave to them either. A little schizophrenia never hurt anyone, right??? : )
As far as our nights go, Dasun coaches and life is busy, so it’s important to us to try and protect as many family nights as we can. We love to play outside, have a little dance party in the kitchen, play board games, wrestle, anything silly and fun. Even if you can only squeeze in 20 minutes of these types of things before bed, they are so great at building families and making little memories with your children. I think it’s so important for your children to see you delighting in them…truly having fun with and enjoying them. They need to know that they are loved beyond measure. After we play, we do bath time, sing songs, pray, have hugs and kisses and put the girls to bed. Dasun and I are trying to be really intentional with our time after they go to bed. It’s so easy to go off to your own corners and get cracking on your separate to do lists or even just watch TV. When you do this, you usually do fine for a while, but then eventually start to feel distant…like a roommate…a business partner to help you manage the kids. No one that I know, got married in order to have a roommate or a business partner. In order to avoid this, you HAVE to be intentional. You have to purposefully schedule time to be with one another. Money can’t be an excuse. We don’t have any extra money, so getting a babysitter isn’t really a feasible option most of the time. Instead, we trade off with friends or do things at home (once in a while we try to do one actual date out, but it’s rare). We get games that can be played 2 player, we rent a movie and cuddle, we get something to snack on and sit and catch up on what the Lord’s been teaching us or how work is going…anything to make an effort. It doesn’t have to be for the whole night. It can just be for 30 minutes to an hour, but you have to invest the time. Relationships don’t grow otherwise. The last thing we do in our day is spend time with the Lord. We are both night owls, so we discovered long ago, that we are more consistent in our quiet times when we have them at night. It also takes away my excuses. By golly, if I can stay up late to look at pinterest or answer emails, I can sure as heck stay up late to make time for the Lord. I make sure that I am sitting up, alert, and giving Him the time He deserves. This is another relationship that doesn’t grow by itself. We need time with our precious Savior. It’s the life source though which all other things flow. As moms, we are constantly pouring out. If you are not plugged in to Him, you will most definitely run out of what you need. You will start operating in the flesh and you will fail. It happens to me constantly, anytime I go back to trying my self-sufficient ways. We have to cut that out, humble ourselves, repent, and say out loud, “Lord, I can do nothing good apart from You.” Let Him fill you up. Let Him be the center of your thoughts through the day. This mom thing seems like it’s full of a lot of little things that don’t add up to much throughout the day, but that isn’t truth. It is an honorable assignment from the King and you need to get your armor on in order to accomplish the task.Thanks for letting me share my day and a bit about our lives.