Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

Sara Cline comes to us today from Southern Indiana. She’s a mom to three girls, a part time PE teacher, and a woman of faith. Sara lives with her husband and three girls in a beautiful home they moved into just this year. It is warm and lovely and a wonderful place to raise kids. Sara has also had her fair share of difficult times in the last few years including deaths in the family, a major car accident, and a miscarriage. She shares some wonderful advice about getting through tough times. I can’t wait for you to meet her. Welcome, Sara!

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

Hi! My name is Sara Cline and I feel very privileged to be featured in the Living with Kids Series. I live with my husband and 3 daughters in southern Indiana. There is never a dull moment in our home and we love it!

My husband, J.C., and I met after college. He was a waiter at a local restaurant and I came in with my mom and several friends for my birthday. He was our waiter and pretty much charmed us all. I was needing a part-time job after I graduated while looking for a teaching position, and he gave me an application. Later that evening I told my mom that if I ended up working at the restaurant, I thought he and I would definitely be friends — I just felt a connection. Needless to say, I did start working with him two months later, after graduating, and the rest is history! We dated 2 years and then married; we’ve now been married 13 years. 

He is extremely patient, level-headed, calm and loving. He always says, “everything I do, I do it for you!” It’s pretty much the truth, sappy as it sounds. He is my best friend and keeps me balanced and rational — especially when my 9 year old and I are going round and round about 4th grade math! My husband is in sales for a uniform company and I am a PE teacher — more about that later.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

We have three girls: our oldest is Ava, who is 9. My husband calls her, MJ (Mommy Jr.). She has a huge heart, loves all things hair and makeup, loves to sing and act and is a pretty talented soccer player. Ellis is our middle daughter, who is 6 years old. She is a fireball and a comedian. She speaks her mind and is very observant. Ellis loves every single sport and is obsessed with Power Rangers at the moment. Our youngest, Sweet Caroline, is 18 months old. She is a true joy and the perfect addition to our family. She is very independent, but yet is spoiled with love and anything she wants from our two oldest girls. We are looking forward to seeing what type of personality she develops into.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

We live in Newburgh, Indiana, just minutes from the Kentucky border and the Ohio River. Newburgh is a small community just outside of Evansville. It has the charm of a small town with amazing little restaurants, charming stores and a quaint feel in the downtown area that is on the river. The public school system is very sound as well, so it is growing immensely each year. We are only the 5th home in our neighborhood. 

With the woods in our backyard, we see deer quite frequently and the occasional unwelcome guest such as skunks. Our girls can ride their bikes, play basketball in our driveway and play soccer without a worry. 

Our screened in porch on the back of our home is one of the main features that sold us on the house. I sit out every morning, before the home wakes, and drink my coffee. In the evenings we have friends over for dinner, listen to music, and enjoy drinks and conversation.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

This is our third home. We began our life together in a small home in Evansville, then bought a larger home in Newburgh six years later. It was a great house that we lived in for 8 years. This past January, we were approached by a friend that needed to sell her home, also in Newburgh, that had 4 bedrooms and was on a beautiful lot with a woods behind us.

After we looked at it just once, we fell in love with it and knew this could be a perfect home for our family. We purchased it for $330,000 with little negotiation — thank goodness! It has close to 3,000 square feet that includes 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, an office and playroom, and is only 2 years old. The only thing that we have done is change out the majority of light fixtures. We are not handy AT ALL, so this house is just right for us.

Other than teaching, decorating is my favorite thing to do in my free time. This home has allowed me to do just that.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

As I mentioned earlier, I am a part-time PE teacher, which I still get a kick out of saying! I graduated from Purdue University and majored in Elementary Education. Before I began teaching, I was a full-time nanny for a family and their daughter. We traveled around the world and I was able to experience safari’s in Africa, bear hunting in Romania and meeting a variety of influential people in government. 

After two years of traveling for over 8 months out of the year, it was time to settle down and I was hired in our local public school system. Over the past 12 years, I have taught 4th grade science. Three years ago, I was connected to the principal of a private christian school about teaching 4th grade science and bible. Our girls could attend the school as well, tuition-free, and we could all be together. 

It was a decision that took a lot of prayer and time to consider. I had enjoyed and thrived teaching at a low-income elementary school for quite awhile. The children there had stolen my heart, but at the same time, the job had put a strain on our life at home. It was time to make a change, and the decision has been an absolute blessing in so many ways. The last three years, while going through multiple trials in our life, the school wrapped their arms around us and blessed us with love and support.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

Last year was difficult. I was working full time, still nursing my baby, and just trying to keep up with life. It was a lot — which brought on anxiety, stress and worry. 

When the part-time PE position became available for this school year, I jumped on it. Best. Decision. Ever! I am active with gym classes and students, I still get to see my two older girls at school, and I’m off on Fridays and can spend one-on-one time with my baby. This was an answer to a prayer in so many ways.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

Over the last several years, our life has had many trials. My husband lost his mother to cancer three years ago.  She was a very special, beautiful woman who was the heart of his family. After her passing, three months later, we had a miscarriage. It was something very unexpected. We had just returned from a business trip to Hawaii that my husband had earned. While in Hawaii, we celebrated the pregnancy of our third child and prepared to tell our family once we had returned. A week later, we headed to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy with an ultrasound. The technician was having trouble finding the heartbeat, so my doctor wanted to wait another week, thinking that maybe I wasn’t as far along as I thought. We went back a week later, and still no growth or development so I was scheduled for a  DNC. I was still in disbelief this was happening to me.

Getting pregnant with our first two daughters was easy with no complications. I was shocked that this was happening, but as I have come to find out, miscarriages happen quite frequently, but most women don’t talk about it. I was one of them. How do you bring up the subject? Oh, I was pregnant, but now I’m not. Such a difficult subject to discuss, but I have tried to be more open about our story with other mamas.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

When I went in for the DNC, the ultrasound tech did one more check and she studied the screen for over a half hour. She said she thought that she saw a very faint little flutter, possibly the heartbeat? She called down my doctor, who was already prepping for the surgery. They continued to scan me and look at the screen. She did not want to continue with the procedure, but yet wait another week. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! We were grieving and now there was a possibility our baby was alive? Unfortunately though, a week later there was not a heartbeat (we believe that possibly the scan was picking up my heartbeat?) and I had a DNC. 

In the next several months, my husband and I talked endlessly about trying again to add to our family — or should we be content and blessed with our two? Fortunately, we were blessed with our third daughter, Caroline, 18 months ago. She is our rainbow baby that is a joy and miracle.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

So, that was just part of our story these last three years. When I was 5 months pregnant with Caroline, my mom had a severe stroke. She was a very healthy, 62 year old woman who ran 3 miles a day! She had completed multiple half marathons, triathlons and bike races. I am an only child and my mom and I are extremely close. During the three weeks after her brain-stem bleed, which caused the stroke, she was left paralyzed on her left side, had a feeding tube and catheter, and the list goes on and on.

My school let me be by her bedside in ICU for the three weeks. My step-dad and I never left her alone. We poured our our hearts out to God, asking for continued faith in His plan and to guide us in our decisions for her. This extreme trial not only took an emotional toll on me, but a physical toll too. Thankfully my pregnancy continued with no complications. 

After spending three weeks in the hospital, my mom was moved to a rehabilitation hospital for several months. During that time, she learned how to swallow again, walk, eat, use the restroom and adjust to a new normal for her. Growing up, my mom was constantly on the go. She was active in all aspects of her life. What would her life be like now? Would she even survive?

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

While she was in the rehab hospital, another trial happened to us. I was driving to school, with our oldest daughter in the back seat. At the time I was seven months pregnant. We were stopped at a light on a highway and in the blink of an eye, a man driving over 50 mph, hit us from behind. Our van then bounced off three more cars and was knocked into in the median of oncoming traffic.

My first reaction was to look back and check on Ava.  She was talking and seemed ok. I didn’t feel any broken bones or see blood on her or I. My next reaction was to pray. We prayed that we would be ok and that my un-born baby would be protected. 

The next several minutes were a blur. Generous people helped us out of the car and we were quickly taken by ambulance to the hospital. My van was totaled, all the air bags deployed on Ava’s side, yet Ava did not have a scratch or bruise. My unborn baby was fine — I believe there were angels all around us protecting her. I did end up with a concussion, which took me away from school for a month. 

But I wonder: Was it God’s plan to have me slow down and rest after just going through the shock of my mom having a severe stroke?

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

Two months after the wreck, we were blessed with a healthy girl, Caroline Ann. I decided to give birth to her with no medication. I have never, ever felt so much pain, but still, it was the most amazing experience of my life! 

We celebrated last summer with the continued improvement of my mom’s health. She can now walk independently, free of feeding tubes and catheters. Her grit and determination have been an inspiration to us all.

This past fall and winter, we soaked in our good health and the blessings all around us. But as the winter progressed, my husband’s father’s health took a turn for the worse. He passed away this past March, the very same week we moved into our new home. 

My husband felt extreme sadness — he had now lost both of his parents. At the same time, we had just moved into our dream home. Such extreme emotions and feelings are difficult to process. 

He has had days and weeks of sorrow of the loss of his mom and dad. It has has been difficult for me to watch him grieve and not be able to comfort him and help in some way. He has voiced that he feels alone and has no one to “guide” him.

Over this summer though, I have witnessed him continue to grow in his faith and his leadership as a father and at work. I truly feel his parents are with him each step of the way as he navigates his life now.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

Wow! As I have been reading back through our story, I have realized this: God’s plan is so much better than ours and it fits into place every step of the way. Just writing our story down has been therapeutic for me, so again, I am feeling quite fortunate for this opportunity.

I have also learned that even in our darkest days, there is always something to be thankful for, even if it’s just the smallest detail. I have learned that I am stronger than I thought and now, as we are hitting a nice plateau, it’s my time to reach out and help others; to be a listener and comforter as others were to me.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom    Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

My husband’s sales job requires travel and he is gone at least one night a week every couple of weeks. When this began two years ago, due to a promotion, it was initially a shock to our family. Who was going to cook dinner each night?! How was I going to handle three kids without any family to help us out?

Hey, we made it! Chick-Fil-A became a family favorite and we joke about my lack of cooking skills. 

I’ve learned to enjoy the quiet when he is gone. I put the girls to bed at 8pm, and then the house, bed and remote are all mine. But, I am so grateful when he walks in the back door and I hear his footsteps. His presence and calmness bring balance back to our home each time he is away. 

For moms or dads in similar situations, give yourself some slack. Enjoy the drive through dinners — your kids will survive. Turn up some fun music and dance off the frustration. I’ve learned time and time again, that when I feel frustration, sadness or anxiety seeping in, my children pick up on it every single time. It effects the mood of our home and our attitudes. So it’s ok to pour a glass of wine or eat another piece of cake. Relax and know that the days of young ones are fleeting and if the sink is full, your world will not fall apart, trust me!

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

As mentioned before, I am an only child. I spent my summers with my grandparents, playing alone. As I grew-up, I babysat, was a lifeguard, taught swimming lessons; I was a camp counselor in California during my summers in college, and now I am around children all day long as a teacher. So mothering, and having children, was a no brainier to me. I absolutely adore being a mother. I am organized and thrive on a routine. And I love being outside and playing with my daughters — that has come naturally to me. 

I asked my girls what part of being a mom they think I’m best at. My oldest said, “You are good at designing our rooms! You are cool at surprising us with fun things to do when my friends are over.” My middle daughter said, “You always know when I’m hiding something or lying!” So there you go!

What has not come naturally to me as a parent is the loss of “me” time. I believe it stems from my days growing up in the quiet hours of playing alone. I am such a stickler for bedtime so that I can have some peaceful, quiet time for just me. When I get overwhelmed with daily mothering duties, I find myself needing just a few moments to collect myself, free of kids, so that I can be a more patient mom. This happens more times than I care to admit.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design MomLiving With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

I do realize that every individual is dealing with “something.” Life is hard, messy and heart-wrenching. But life is also full of love, laughter and really good moments. I pray that my girls remember the love and ultimate devotion their father and I have for them. I know that we are quickly approaching the years of teenager angst — grrrrr. But through it all, as they grow up, I want them to remember that their home is a place of refuge and strength. It’s a place that feels secure and cozy.

As the holidays approach, I hope my kids remember the traditions we started long ago. How our family’s elf comes on December 1st, how we drive around each Christmas and look at lights and drink hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols.

I do hope they forget that I yelled at them way too much for not picking up their dirty clothes, that I nagged them for the 100th time to brush their teeth or the fact that every time they got out of bed at night, it bugged me to the core! I pray they forget all the times we were on our phones or preoccupied and didn’t give them the attention they deserved.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

My absolute favorite thing about living my kids is the pure joy I see in their eyes when I stop “mothering,’ and just sit down and play a game with them I adore playing soccer with them in the backyard, barefoot and goofy. I love picking them up from school and seeing their faces as they run to me. That kind of unconditional love is breathtaking. I already miss the dimpled hands and big baby thighs of my babies. But man, we are having a good time now!

I am turning 39 today. I wish someone had told me 10 years ago, when I had my first daughter, that she didn’t need to have a big bow in her hair, or a monogrammed shirt or that letting her play with my car keys would not kill her from the germs. I wish I had known that in our darkest of times, things always get better. That it’s ok if my kids clothes don’t match and they haven’t taken a bath in several days. I wish I had known to be easier on myself when breastfeeding was so difficult that I quit and then beat myself up for giving her formula.

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would love to help young moms navigate the first days and months of being a new mother. I want them to know that it’s just fine to cry and lose your patience. That we are all imperfect. That when possible, they can take a long, deep breath and enjoy the moment at hand. Now is now.

Life can and will throw you some major curve balls. Be prepared, not anxious. Just lean into your faith, your loved ones, and hold fast until the rough patch passes. Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored.

Living With Kids: Sara Cline's Southern Indiana family home featured by top design blog, Design Mom

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Thank you, Sara! Reading your story made me think of that old quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

I loved what Sara said about how she was shown kindness and support during tough times and now that they have leveled out a bit, she can reach out and offer the same help to others. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Pulling people up that have fallen behind a bit, and then reaching out for help when we are struggling. It’s those human connections that can really make the difference.

We’ve all got our own individual coping mechanisms: going for a run, yoga, watching some TV after the kids are in bed, a good piece of cake, or perhaps like Sara talks about, relying on your faith. What helps you cope when life is tough? Do you need to be surrounded by people? Or do you appreciate the alone time? What’s your best secret for surviving the hard stuff?

SOURCES

Dining room chairs

Dining room table, entry table, large marble bookshelf all from local store in Newburgh, called The Barefoot Cottage

Dining room light from a local store in Evansville called The Red Poppy

 


Photo Credit to Brittany Freeman. Follow Sara on Instagram here. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram too.

Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at features@designmom.com