Category Archives: Family

Its Not About Me.

Original Blog Post July 12, 2016
Over the past few weeks I have had my feelings hurt quite a bit by someone close to me. I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve the treatment I was receiving. It brought back so many painful childhood memories and was making me think about making some major life changes.
I didn’t confide in many people about how I was feeling and those people didn’t believe what was going on could be as bad as I felt it was until they saw it for their own eyes. Feeling justified in my feelings didn’t help anything. It didn’t change the behavior either.
Then things kind of blew up a few days ago. This person was being more annoying than ever. This person had to be the center of attention at ALL times. They demanded the attention and if they didn’t get it then they would make up something to get it. I kept feeling like I was being reprimanded for things that they imagined had happened. I noticed that problems were being instigated by these imaginary events. This person was becoming increasingly arrogant and rude to everyone around them.
Finally myself and someone else just told them that we were tired of it. Apparently one after another we let him know how we felt. Did that stop the behavior? No, because it got turned around that we were the ones with the problem. They were the innocent party in the whole mess and couldn’t understand why people were upset with them. Things were a bit tense for a bit but eventually cooled down.
I had lost my temper, which takes a lot, because this person kept accusing me of causing something. Finally after beating myself up over this I had enough. The next time they got in my face about it then I just told them to ‘Stop!’, and I walked away but I ended up looking like the dramatic one.
As I’ve thought about the events I realize that this has been an ongoing problem. When I was younger I never felt like anything I did was ever good enough. No matter what award or achievement I reached this person always had something to top it. No matter how much stuff this person has they always need more. If the neighbor gets something then they have to have one bigger and better too. (Even if they have 10 of them not being used already.) They were always quick to dole out criticism but angered if someone gave it back to them. These are just a few of the things that I have been reminded of.
As I’ve thought about the events I realize that this has been an ongoing problem. When I was younger I never felt like anything I did was ever good enough. No matter what award or achievement I reached this person always had something to top it. No matter how much stuff this person has they always need more. If the neighbor gets something then they have to have one bigger and better too. (Even if they have 10 of them not being used already.) They were always quick to dole out criticism but angered if someone gave it back to them. These are just a few of the things that I have been reminded of.
When it boils down to it this person is selfish and doesn’t truly care about the feelings of the people around them. They only look at what they can gain from being around others and don’t take into account how others will feel about being used.
This person was robbing me of my joy. I no longer wanted to even be around them. They even had me questioning my own memories about past events.
Well I say enough is enough. I refuse to be a doormat for the rude and degrading behaviors that have been going on lately. Is this going to be easy? Probably not, but I am determined that things will change or other changes will have to be made.
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Dear Special Needs Parent

Original Blog Post on July 12, 2016
Dear Special Needs Parent, I see you in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, and at the park. I see the smiles that hide the tears. I see the tired look you try to hide. I hear the little sigh you let out when another mom talks about ‘date night’ or a milestone their child has reached. How do I see and hear all of this? I am a special needs mom, a single parent, a homeschooling mom, and so much more.
I know how hard it is to get up at the crack of dawn because your kid is already up and calling for you, even though they didn’t fall asleep until late. I know how hard it is to divide your attention between the kids, the chores, and all that has to be done. Much less finding time to do things for yourself like shower.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last ‘date night’ I’ve had or even the last time I was away from my kids for a night. (Maybe when the 3 year old was born?) I know that when you try to plan an outing it drains you because of all the things you have to be prepared for. You are exhausted by the time you get everything and everyone packed and ready.
Things that were once fun can still be fun but they are oh so exhausting now days. We have our good days when nobody has a melt down (or maybe just a couple of melt downs for the day), nobody wets the bed, and everyone eats what you made for dinner.
Then we have the bad days. The days when everything causes a meltdown, from the French Toast you make every Tuesday to keep things on a simple routine, to the thunder they thought they heard, or the little brother who is stuck on singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which was big brother’s favorite song yesterday but is irritating him today). Sigh, I know.
Then we have the really bad days were we just want to go back to bed. The days when you have done 3 loads of laundry before 6 am. When you have showered your 13 year old 4 times before 7am and stripped his room (and the bathroom) and completely disinfected and sanitized it for the 3rd day in a row. The days when he has forgotten/refuses to do anything for himself and calls you every bad name he can think of and then some that you can’t and don’t want to understand. I’ve been there. Sometimes these phases last a day or two or sometimes a week or two.
I can remember a few years ago when I had to clean my son’s room. It was a horrible mess. I grabbed rubber gloves and trash bags. I went to his room and opened the window. I filled those bags and started tossing them out the window because it was so nasty and I just couldn’t bear the thought of cleaning the stuff again just to have him repeat this scene again in a day or two. I was about 3 weeks from my due date with our 8th child. While cleaning I started throwing up because it was so bad. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days, at one point they thought I would be delivering the baby early. This was a week before Christmas and we had already planned a party for friends and family. The timing couldn’t have been worse. The party was cancelled and all last minute Christmas shopping went undone. But we made it through that and you will make it through whatever it is that you are going through right now too. (A very healthy baby boy was born 2 weeks later.)
I have my kids 24/7 with only a slight reprieve two times a week (when he feels like coming or something else doesn’t come up in his schedule) for maybe 2 hours a time (which was scheduled to be 5 hours each time but he never makes it that long). I can’t leave because something always happens. Sometimes I go to my bedroom or sit outside but the kids usually wander away and end up with me so I really have almost no ‘Me time’.
I know the brave front you put on when you are out and about. I know the fear when the kid next to you wipes their snotty nose on their hand and then goes to play with your kid. I know that if my kid catches whatever that is that life will be miserable for the next week or two. Not too mention the fact that it will eventually spread through the house and I’ll end up sick trying to tend to 6 kids by myself too. Yep, I know.
I also know that we need to be there for each other. We need to be a support system for each other. Whether by joining blogs or Facebook groups. If someone offers to help then let them. They can do dishes, wash laundry or just sit with the kids while you nap. Maybe when you the kids get comfortable you can even sneak away to do the grocery shopping by yourself.
Don’t keep trying to do it by yourself as you will just crash and burn. Trust me, I know.
If you are a friend or neighbor, maybe a parent or sibling of someone who has a special needs child please know that they do need you and they need your support. I can’t tell you how much it means just to chat for a minute on Messenger or a couple of texts when I am having a hard day. Let me tell you that I will never turn down food, especially ready to eat food. When someone shows up unexpectedly at the door with an armload of pizzas it is a wonderful feeling to know they were thinking about you.

Who Am I?

I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a daughter, I am a person just like you. All to often we forget that the people who are subjects of the rumors and gossip flying around are people just like you and I. They are someone’s child, parent, sibling, friend or spouse. They are real and they have feelings. When you listen to the tales spun by someone you should always consider the source and what it is that this person may have to gain from speaking out about another. Remember that you are only hearing the side of the story that they want you to hear.
The ones telling the stories try their best to dehumanize the person they are talking about. They make them out to be a horrid monster with no feelings. A witch or a crazy psycho. They put the blame for their problems on the other person and have a fine tale to explain how the other person is responsible for whatever situation they are in. They never stop to consider how their lies will affect the other person, their friends, or their family. When confronted with the truth they will deny ever having said those nasty comments.
If you are drawn in by someone’s sad story please remember that you may become the target of their next sad story. Trust me, I know this all too well.
Before repeating of commenting on the remarks think about what you would do, or how you would feel if that was you they were talking about. What if it were you mother or father? What if it were your child or grandchild? What if it were friend?
I am a not a monster but a flesh and blood human being just like you! I breathe the same air and my heart beats just like the one beating in your chest. I am not perfect nor will I ever be perfect in this lifetime. I cry, I laugh, I have the same struggles as everyone else, maybe a few more. I lose my temper sometimes, I yell, I scream, and sometimes I say things I don’t mean. I have made my share of mistakes, just as you reading this have, and I try my best to learn from those mistakes. I admit that I haven’t always handled every situation with the best of grace but I try.
I am often too trusting, too selfless, too loving, and too patient. I often bend over backwards to help others and make life easier for them. I try to find the good in every one and every situation. Sometimes I try to hard. I usually expect to be treated the way I have treated others. I forget that we are all human and we will all disappoint one another in some way or another. Sometimes I just expect and anticipate too much from those around me and then I am so disappointed and hurt when things don’t turn out the way I had expected.
Lately I am stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I constantly have to push myself to go further and do more than I feel I can. I try not to complain. I have found strength I didn’t know I had.
I have heard so many things about myself that I know are not true. It hurts, it really does. I have cried so much about these lies and rumors. They have caused me so much heartache and more so because one of the people responsible for starting them was someone I love and care about deeply. I never expected this. I never expected to be constantly harassed and humiliated on an almost daily basis now. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad if I had expected it, I don’t know.
Lately I have felt this bitterness creeping up inside of me and it is the most awful feeling. It chokes out all of your peace and joy. It overshadows everything else and makes it impossible for you to see the beauty of what is in front of you. It is a thief and robber.
It told me that I should be angry and upset. After all, I am the one who was left to be the ‘responsible one’. I am the one who is working 24/7 to keep this family going. I am the one who wakes up several times during the night to help the little ones go back to sleep. I am the one who is here dealing with the day to day needs of a large family and dealing with the extra challenges of special needs children. I am the one who sleeps alone in my bed EVERY night and prays for GOD to heal my broken heart. I ask HIM to wake me from this horrible dream. When I open my eyes I am still alone and I have no shoulder to cry on when I realize again and again that this is not a dream. I am the one who was committed and faithful only to have my heart broken time and time again. I am the one who NEVER gets to take a ‘break’ from it all. When I ask for a break I always get the same response, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve got other plans.’.
Then in the darkness of night I know that GOD is there and HE has my back, always has and always will. HE is the greatest comforter of all and HE has the biggest shoulders of anyone. HE understands me completely and HE listens. Without HIM I can do nothing!
Then I look at our family. It brings me to tears. They are a constant reminder of the dreams we had and the promises we made. They don’t deserve this. I try my best to shield them. They know Mommy is sad but they don’t know why. They don’t see the sacrifices I make, they don’t know the pleading and begging I have done to try to change the outcome.
When all else fails there is nothing left to do but to get rid of the bitterness that haunts me. The only way to get rid of the bitterness is to forgive. How do I forgive when I feel like I can’t? I remember the forgiveness that GOD has shown me. I will be the first to admit that I don’t deserve the mercy and grace that my LORD has shown me so many times. I pray that HE will change my heart and help me to forgive when I feel I can’t. With GOD’s help I can forgive even when it seems impossible. I will grant forgiveness even if it hasn’t been asked for.
So right now, I forgive all those who have gossiped about me. I forgive those who have had a hand (and the ones who won’t admit that they did) in the destruction of our marriage. I have been bitter against everyone who has spoken badly about me, those who have encouraged his addictions and selfishness, those who never supported us. I forgive you all even if you don’t want me to. I forgive him for all the things I have been through these past couple of years. Please understand that just because I forgive does not mean I will forget.
I also ask for forgiveness. I must ask that all of the ‘exes’ please forgive me as I, at one time, believed the stories about you. The stories that are all to similar to the stories being told about me. Please know that I apologize for anything I may have believed without getting your side of the story.
I also ask for forgiveness from those who have been affected by the lies and rumors that have been told. Please know that I am deeply sorry that you may have been affected by what was going on in my life. I also forgive anyone who has believed these lies and rumors and those that have contributed to the spreading of them.
I will remember those who have been there for me. I thank each and everyone one of my friends and family for supporting us through this time. You will never know how much I have appreciated each and every one of your thoughts and prayers. Most importantly I thank GOD for giving me the strength to get through this. Its not over yet and even after the legalities are taken care of it still won’t be ‘over’ as we have a family together.
So, Who am I? I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I am soon to be the dreaded ‘ex-wife’ and that’s OK. I am still a work in progress but I know GOD is not through with me and I have hope and faith that there are better things to come. I pray that GOD will plant a seed of forgiveness in the heart of everyone who reads this so you can experience the fullness of HIS mercy and grace. If you have never experienced HIS forgiveness I pray that you will and you will understand why I must forgive.

The End of a Chapter…

I can remember the first time my husband proposed to me, and the second, I said ‘No’ both times because he wasn’t sober and I didn’t think he meant it. When we did get married there was no proposal, no ceremony surrounded by friends, no pictures, not even an announcement to our close family or friends. We went to the courthouse and applied for our license. There was another couple there who where getting married and we decided to do it then and there too. The other couple, complete strangers, were our witnesses. We didn’t even tell anyone for almost a month. No celebration, no honeymoon, nothing, we didn’t even have rings.
That didn’t matter to me because I meant what I had said in our vows. This was a new partnership, a commitment, two families becoming one, a forever thing. There was nothing too big or too small that we couldn’t tackle together. We would be there to support each other through the hard times and the bad. So what happened?
Honestly it wasn’t any one thing. It wasn’t all him or all me. I felt as though I took my vows way more seriously than my husband. I saw problems and I wanted to talk about them and work on them but that just pushed him away. The responsibilities and stress of a large blended family started to take its toll really quickly. Add the extra demands of special needs children and it could be overwhelming at times. I began to see his need for something that I couldn’t fill no matter how hard I tried. I failed. Again and again. Then I realized that I was trying to be someone I wasn’t in order to make him happy and I was becoming more and more unhappy myself. I didn’t like it.
He started leaving for longer and longer periods of time. He said he deserved time to himself. I felt he was being selfish, I mean when did I ever have time to myself other than going to the bathroom? He would often say we were ‘taking a break’ and leave for days at a time. My heart tried its best to rationalize what these absences were but I just couldn’t understand and my suspicions started to grow.
I can remember a conversation with a family member almost 2 years ago. Someone had asked me how my husband was doing. I said that I didn’t know him anymore. He was a different person than who I had fallen in love with. I was honest when I told them that I wasn’t even sure if he would be at home when I got back. I cried when I realized I had admitted what my heart had been feeling for so long. He was gone, not physically, but in every other way he wasn’t my partner anymore.
I desperately tried to cling to the tattered remnants of our marriage and somehow weave them into a strong relationship but it was impossible to do on my own. The trust had been broken so many times and the lies had weakened every thread there was left. I still held onto the hope that it could be fixed so I believed him every time he said it would change. I was left feeling drained every time it didn’t. The more I tried the harder he pushed me away.
Our marriage needed something I couldn’t provide on my own. We tried counseling as he suggested I needed to go before he would. Nothing changed. I tried to talk but it would end up in an argument. Our priorities didn’t match up and we both felt like the other was headed in an opposite direction.
So we both failed to provide what the other one needed. I refused to go against my morals and beliefs. I refused to change to be the person he felt he needed me to be. He refused to get the help I felt he needed, help that I couldn’t give. I felt like I was being torn between my kids and my husband, no choice a mother and wife should ever have to make. I chose my kids and I would do it again if I had it to do over. I still stand behind my choices because I know I have other responsibilities.
The past couple of years have been an emotional roller coaster. There have been ups and boy have there been so many downs. Words have been said that shouldn’t have been said and I have been hurt deeper than I ever thought I could be hurt. I have been humiliated and gossiped about by the person I once thought was my best friend again and again with no remorse.
I still held on to our marriage even though it no longer looked or felt like a marriage anymore. It felt as if I was stuck in a sticky spider web woven from lies and deceit littered with the remains of forgotten promises and abandoned dreams all around me. I have sheltered our kids from as much of it as I could but when things/people threatened to involve them I saw I had to draw a line. When I did he asked for a divorce. That felt like such a slap after all that I had put up with and the sacrifices I had made to try to keep us from ‘The End’. But there was also a feeling of relief that I felt.
After a couple of months I finally saw that ‘The End’ had come before he had asked for the divorce. He finally told me the truth and it was hard to take. It hurt worse than I could’ve imagined. The divorce is only the legal paperwork to show ‘The End’. The realization makes me cry and saddens my heart. I know this is only an ending to this chapter of my life and there will be more chapters to come. I have forgiven him and myself for what has happened and I have hope that there will be happier days ahead and with time the pain and hurt will subside.

Do you ever just want to get away from it all?

Original Blog Post April 26, 2016
Today has been one of those days, well actually the past few months have had several of those days, where I just want to get away.
I want to grab a few things and take a hike. Go somewhere remote for a few days. Somewhere quiet. Anywhere but here. I need some space to think about recent events. I need some quietness so I can think. I just need a bit of time to sort a few things out in my head.
I try to sneak in quiet time every day, the key word being try, but somehow it always gets interrupted. About the only quiet time I have is when I wake up before the alarm and lay in bed afraid to move because I might wake up one of the kids that have climbed into my bed during the night. I need some space to think about recent events. I need some quietness so I can think. I just need a bit of time to sort a few things out in my head.
It seems that my poor brain might explode with all the thoughts and ideas swimming around. The constant list of To-Dos that need checked off and the multitude of other items that need my constant attention.
I just need a break.
I think about a cabin in the woods, or just a tent. Nothing around but me and the trees. Maybe the sound of a babbling brook in the background. As I think of how peaceful it would be I am reminded of how lonely I would be. I am not a person who is good at being alone. Never have been and probably never will be. I need someone to be near me even if we aren’t talking just so long as they are close then I am OK.
Then as I think some more I know I couldn’t leave the kids behind. I know there are way too many responsibilities here at home and I know that this is nothing more than a wishful fantasy. Maybe one day. So for now maybe we can all get away. Go camping and enjoy the great outdoors. Maybe I can take the kids for a LONG hike and put them to bed early. I can stay up and watch the stars, alone… but not alone, and just think about nothing more than how peaceful it is.
I don’t know about you but I am ready to just get away for a bit.

Our Homeschooling Beginning

Original Blog Post April 14, 2016
When we first decided to start this homeschooling adventure in January of 2015 it was overwhelming! I was nervous, excited, scared, and eager to be the best I could be. I just knew that this was the best thing I could do and that I would be the perfect teacher. Well that last thought was short lived.
I thought I would plan for a couple of weeks and then pull my special needs son out of public school. He had a couple of fun outings planned and I didn’t want him to miss out as he was looking forward to them. Well one thing led to another and he had a couple of medical issues that led to him being pulled out earlier than I had anticipated. The medical issues had also prevented me from ‘planning’ out anything. So there I was with him at home and 2 toddlers too. Crazy? Yes!
So I quickly joined a couple of special needs groups on FB. Only to be criticized and put down by my apparent ignorance of his condition and lack of knowledge about his educational programs at school. (I didn’t want to go into details with them about the fact that he was recently adopted and that I really didn’t know a lot about his history. I had broke down crying at the first IEP because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do and they had revealed a lot of things about his history that I had not been aware of. It was a completely heartbreaking experience. I also didn’t know that there were resources out there to help me through the whole process.) I was a wreck.
Then I had emails and calls from the school system and they just confused me more. I had submitted the necessary paperwork but I was constantly worried. This constant worry made me exhausted. To top it all off I couldn’t get him to ‘keep up’ with his program that we had signed up for. I was afraid that I had made a huge mistake and that I was failing him.
The FB groups had given me a little direction about online programs. I enrolled him at Kindergarten level and we got started. He was excited at first and always wanted to do ‘school work’. The problem was that he would only do the activities that he liked and he would absolutely refuse to do anything else. If I left him unattended he would be playing games or such and not doing actual work. Well in less than 2 weeks I was frustrated, he was frustrated and so was everyone else in the house.
We were spending 8+ hours/day on kindergarten work! The house was really showing it. Dinners were made but not anything to brag about in any way, shape or form. I was trying to keep a smile on my face when others asked how our homeschooling was going. Inside I felt like they were just laughing at me and saying, ‘I told you so.’.
I prayed and prayed and asked God for help. Guess what? I should’ve been more sincere in my prayers in the beginning. I was using google (my best friend) and researching more resources when I found Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. This has been such a blessing to our family and it has lifted so much stress off of me that I want to shout it out to the world. This site is also absolutely free. (There are optional materials that you can buy and you can also make donations.)
I started out using this with just my one son but then the 2 little guys joined in. Wow! Can it really be this easy? Are they really learning? Yes and yes! Once I was able to feel a little bit more comfortable with the homeschooling process I was able to let go of some of my ‘school’ mentality. This is our home, not a school, and this is where we learn but it is also where we live. In short I had felt ‘pressured’ to make our learning are look like school. Once I let go of most of that then our journey really began.
Then as the end of the school year approached I started feeling the stress creeping back up. A lot of talk about evaluations and I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to ‘prove’ what he had learned. He was 12 and working at Kindergarten level. I could see the progress he was making but would this evaluator? Who would I use that would take his special needs into consideration? A million questions and no answers. Again I turned to God and prayed that he would show me an answer. He did. In one of the new FB groups I had joined I read about Florida Unschoolers . It is a completely free private umbrella school in Florida.
Hmm… This was new. I had another million questions. What was an umbrella school? Would I qualify? Can it really be free? Will I need evaluations? What the heck is unschooling? The site will answer all of those questions and more.
There is also a FB group which has been a very valuable resource for me. I researched a bit and then enrolled my son. Shortly afterwards I pulled 2 of my other kids out of public school and enrolled them. I had planned in my head to let them finish the school year out but plans changed. One of my girls, who was in 2nd grade, was having a horrible time keeping up with her schoolwork and she was stressed out by the upcoming end of the year tests. One was in Kindergarten and she was stressing over evaluations and coming home saying she wasn’t ‘smart enough’.
There were also some bullying issues. We had also had a couple of close calls at the bus stop when people ignored the flashing lights and stop signs. They were in elementary school! The stress was causing my 2nd grader to act out and I found myself going to school several times to pick her up because of mysterious illnesses. Then I got an email from her teacher stressing how important it was for her to do her best. She needed to be reading at a higher level (3.2?) and she wasn’t there yet. That was enough for me. I withdrew them from school that week and they were private schoolers the next week.
Last summer as school preparations were being made my high schooler made the decision to become a private schooler too. Yes, we still ‘homeschool’ but technically they are enrolled with a private school. We haven’t looked back. Life is so much calmer. Yes, we have tough days, and sometimes tough weeks. We rarely have a ‘perfect homeschool’ day… actually today has been pretty close… but perfect doesn’t matter because we are learning. I say ‘we’ because I am learning too.
I am learning about my children, each individual soul, and how they learn best. We are all learning better ways to communicate and relate to others. This whole experience has brought us closer together and made our lives so much better. I am able to spend more individual time with each of them, time that teachers in a 30+ student classroom simply don’t have. I also worked with our family doctor and both of my special needs kiddos are completely off their medications. This was an unplanned benefit. With the kids at home I was able to help them learn their triggers and by setting up routines we all know what is expected and when it is expected. When there are changes we deal with them and we learn how to handle them in appropriate ways.
There are also cons to this. I NEVER get a break from my kids. Ok, I do go grocery shopping once a week, but other than that someone is usually always with me. There is a lot of planning involved, which this is mostly my own stubbornness to let completely go of ‘school’ mentality. I like to have everything planned and scheduled so I can keep track of progress. I am also a little paranoid sometimes that someone will show up at my door and ‘demand’ proof that my kids are in school and learning. I was also stressing a bit about high school transcripts. I had never done them and I had researched several sites but I was still a bit confused. I just didn’t have the time to invest in figuring it out.
That brings me to another really important resource that I have recently found. Yes, I had been praying that God would help me get this homeschool stuff more organized. I had a few different things here and there. I was working on my own spreadsheet/calendar system but I really didn’t have the time I needed to get it the way I wanted. We did use a notebook system at the beginning of this school year. It worked wonderfully except that when I had to write down everything for each child it was a lot of work. Again on FB I found an app called Homeschool Manager . This is not a free app but they did, and probably still do, offer a free trial. It took me a bit to set it up because I have so many kids. But within the first week I had signed up and paid for the membership. This site is amazing and they are constantly adding new features. They also have a FB group for support and advice.
With this app I can almost instantly print off reports for attendance and grades. I can print off schedules and the kids can check off the tasks as they do them. I enter grades into the system and it will keep track of everything. It will even print off transcripts when I need them. Well, its about lunch time for us here. I really hope this might be a helpful start for anyone considering homeschooling. I know I don’t have a lot of resources in this post but I will work on future posts that will include some resources.
I want everyone to know that I am not ‘bashing’ public school and I know that it works for some kids. (I have 3 who graduated from public school and are wonderfully, normal young people.) I am also not saying that homeschooling is the answer to every problem but this is what is best for our family at this time. I also want everyone to know that I have not been, nor do I expect to be paid, for naming any of the sites in this post. I just want to be a help for anyone out there with the same struggles that I have been through.

‘Momma, I want to go potty.’

Original Blog Post April 13, 2016
Just the other day my 2 year old came up to me and said, ‘Momma, I want to go potty.’. . Hmm… I thought that was a little unexpected but we had been working on this for a bit. He just hasn’t been interested. He wasn’t ready.
He had the sticker chart posted by the bathroom wall and over the past few months he had accumulated quite a few stickers. He asked for another sticker when he was finished and then asked me if he could get some ‘big boy’ underwear. I explained to him that he needed to fill up the sticker chart and he would get to go on a shopping trip to pick some out. Excitedly he skipped off telling everyone he was going shopping. Maybe an hour later he wanted to go again. So we went and another sticker was earned. And several more were earned throughout the day.
‘Momma, can I wear big boy underwear now?’ I told him he could start wearing big boy underwear after he had started using the potty more. That was last week and he has not had many accidents since then. By last Friday he had completely filled up his sticker chart and had already decided he wanted some dinosaur underwear.
We went to town and didn’t find dinosaurs but we found some with some of his favorite characters on them. He was overjoyed and held them the whole way home. He had to show them to everyone and asked me to open them. Then he insisted we put a pair on over his pull up and he said he wouldn’t potty on them. Guess what? He has pretty much potty trained himself in less than a week!
Is it a miracle? No.
Was there a special secret? Not really, except that he was ready. He has matured enough to realize that he wanted to be a ‘big boy’.
Did I push him? No. After the 8 kids before him I pretty much knew that he would eventually get there on his own time.
He had already noticed that ‘babies’ wear diapers and need someone to change them. He wants to be independent and in his little mind that meant no more pull ups. I am so proud of him but it saddens my heart too. He is my baby. Most likely the last biological child I will ever have and that’s OK. Its a little sad that he is growing up so fast though. Yes, I am glad that my diaper changing days will soon be over but a part of me wishes he didn’t have to grow up.
He just came in the door and needs Mommy to help him. So I will cherish these little moments as they pass by so quickly now. I will continue to help him and watch him grow into the fine young man that God has intended him to be from the beginning.
Mommas and Daddies please be patient with whatever it is your child is trying to accomplish. Don’t fret over small things because each child is different. Don’t compare your child to others and wonder why they haven’t achieved every milestone. Each child will learn and mature at their own pace. Just be there for them and encourage them, support them, and most of all cherish them!

Sense of Entitlement

Original Blog Post April 12, 2016
I went out to do my morning chores and before I even got the brooding pen I could hear them. It was the 3 little goslings just going off about something. I go in and they immediately run up to me, holler, and run back to the waterer. It was almost empty so I assumed that was the problem.
I clean it up, fill it with fresh water and put it back in place. Everyone runs up and gets a drink. Then the 3 musketeers start hollering again. They run to me and back to the feeder. Apparently it wasn’t as full as they like it. I add more feed. Everyone runs over to check it out. The 3 musketeers were happy for a minute and then they started up again.Why? I haven’t a clue this time. As I walked out and closed the door behind me I realized that they reminded me of my one daughter.
No matter what she has she is constantly complaining that she wants or needs something different. If she sees a commercial on TV she wants the advertised item no matter if it would be of benefit to her or not. We have had many a talk about this. And sometimes the ‘You know the kids in other parts of the world would be happy to have this food, toy or whatever it is that she is complaining about.’ slips out. Now I know all kids complain and all kids ask for things but she is different. She expects these things just because she wants them. Notice I didn’t say she needs them. I am trying to teach my kids the difference between wants and needs.
Lately though I have been making some changes. If you need something then Momma will provide it but if you want something, depending on the cost of this something, you will need to work for it. You will need to EARN it.
Sometimes the idea of work is enough to make them rethink what they wanted. If they still want it then I will ask them what they think should be done to earn it. Usually their idea is not in line with my idea so we talk about it. If the job is completed then they get the item, if not then nothing is earned.
To earn something makes it mean more to them. It helps them develop a sense of accomplishment and make them more responsible for the item. This new plan has also cut back on some of the complaining and whining. I also thought about myself during this process. So often we wonder why things are the way they are and we pray for a change. We do the same things the kids do.
‘God, why is everything so hard for me?’
‘Why does nothing seem to go right?’
‘Why can’t I find an easy job like that?’
Instead of whining and complaining we need to ask him to lead us in the direction we should go. Ask him to show us what we need to do to earn what it is that we are wanting. The greater the struggle the more we will appreciate the end result.

Take a peek into my morning

 Original Blog Post April 21, 2016
Its 9:00 am and I’m sitting on my bed feeling overwhelmed already. I was determined I would make it through the day without crying or feeling sad but that’s not the case.
Something my husband said the other day still haunts me and it saddens my heart for him, our children, and for what the future holds if he doesn’t change the path he is on. I know he says he is happy but I can’t help but feel sad when I think of how he will feel when the day comes and he realizes what he gave up on and what he missed out on.
A friend texted me this morning just to let me know they were thinking of me and that made me smile. Something that I haven’t done a lot of lately. I’ve been worried about my friend too and have been thinking of them and their problems.
I feel a bit guilty because I have not been as faithful in my praying for others the past few weeks so I will set my prayer notebook out to remind me every time I walk into my room. It doesn’t take long to take a peek at someone or something I have written down. I can focus on praying for that person or situation instead of focusing on my own problems. It will also keep me from trying to take things into my own hands and leaving them with God which is where I need to leave them.
I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted to yet and I’ve lost my focus. I’ve settled many disputes over Legos and train tracks, fixed broken toys, cleaned up spilled milk, and fed the animals (and the kids). Time to take a little break and look through my list.
Hmmm…
Wake up ✔
Quiet time/devotion X
Shower✔
Get dressed ✔
Take vitamins ✔
Make coffee✔
Empty dishwasher✔
Fix breakfast✔
Kids dressed ✔
Feed animals✔
Lots of ✔s but one big X. Maybe that’s the problem? I didn’t start out right. Yes, I had my cup of coffee and a little ‘me’ time but I didn’t really need alone time I needed some ‘we’ time. God and me time.
So I’ve snuck to my room for a couple of minutes to read my daily devotional from a book by Joyce Meyers and another from ‘Our Daily Bread’. Just what I needed. It was almost my story told by another person. It reinforces choices I made in the past that I have been questioning. The last sentence says ‘But if our loving Father has handpicked us for our task, who are we to whisper, “I can’t do this”?’. Wow. He knows what we need before we do!
Now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my next projects and get our school day started. Time to formulate my plan of action. I need to put some oil in the diffuser and turn it on… essential oils have made a big difference since taking the kids off of their medications.
There is a load of laundry that needs folded and put away. I can do that while the kids eat their snack and tidy the playroom.
The kitchen trash can needs emptied so I can give that to one of the girls to take out and hand the mail to another to carry to the mailbox.
I also need to set out some pork for dinner, maybe I should try to convert that recipe to work in the crockpot?, maybe.
After snack and chores we can do our Morning Time get started on our independent work.
The bathrooms need a quick clean which can be done while they are working and maybe I can sneak in a quick vacuuming while the boys watch a ‘Signing Times’ video? .
Ok, focus has been found. Not a whole lot of things to work on but enough to help me feel I’ve accomplished a few things. Then I will take another little break, read another passage from my notebook, and pick another person and/or situation to focus on and formulate my next ‘plan of attack’ for the day’s chores.
It’s almost snack time so I will head back to the kitchen. I can hear the kids arguing about turtles. They are trying to decide if turtles are reptiles or dinosaurs. Now I hear my special needs son calling someone a ‘Butthead’ so he will be going to his room for a little quiet time of his own.
I’m sure this will result in a tantrum with lots of yelling and screaming but it will be followed by a few minutes of quiet and then he will come out and apologize. Then he’ll give me a hug and say he wants to have a ‘Good Day’ and we will start over. (This reminds me that he still needs a haircut.) But before that I need to rescue the alligator from a ‘net’… Have I mentioned how much the kids like Animal Planet and Steve Irwin?
I’ll check back in a bit.
Snack was bananas and some chocolate graham crackers. There was denial of the name calling, followed by a tantrum. After a few minutes in his room he did ask if he could come out. (This was much sooner than anticipated because I think he really wanted his snack.) He apologized and all was well for a few minutes.
Sigh, then the girls were arguing over a word search book. Little sister said she had it first and Big sister said it was her book. Little sister brought the argument to me as she was sure she was in the right. I looked at the book and it was Big sister’s book so I explained to Little sister that she can’t take someone else’s things and claim them. Then that put Little sister is in a grumpy mood… no fun!
That being said the clothes didn’t get folded during snack time. Then when I made it back to the laundry room there were no empty baskets.
The oil diffuser did get started and the trash was carried out. Bonus: The bathrooms got cleaned and I did get the bathroom trash into the trash bag before it was carried out.
I set the pork out for dinner but haven’t had time to decide if I should try to put it in the crockpot.
Morning Time resulted in Little sister going to her bed for a little quiet time. The little boys were fighting over the alligator and the ‘net’. My other son was just LOUD about everything and he would start giggling and shouting ‘I farted!’. which would send everyone else holding their noses and shouting ‘EWWW!’. This repeated itself over and over again.
After giving up on accomplishing any more Morning Time activities I set up the laptops and got out the morning work for the kids. Everyone is now working quietly.
The girls are sitting at the island and the 4 year old is sitting with the 9 year old ‘helping’ her with her math. (Crazy thing is that he can usually get it right.) She is more motivated to get her work done when she ‘teaching’ someone else so they both benefit.
Grumpy sister is quietly doing her work after a little bit of trouble getting started. Teenage sister helped her get through a little problem she had with irregular plural nouns. She is feeling pretty motivated because I gave them a couple of coloring sheets for Earth Day and she really likes to color.
Loud brother is actually coloring quite intently. It takes a lot of concentration to keep the crayon in the lines and he is drawing the family standing on top of the earth picture. I need to go over his lessons but I think I’ll wait a bit. Then we also need to do his reading lesson… that will be so much fun! Actually he is getting much better at reading and as long as he has a fun activity to do after it he will be motivated to get it done quickly. If he isn’t motivated it will take us FOREVER!
The 2 year old has pulled out a puzzle I recently bought at the thrift store and he is working diligently on it while watching Dinosaur Train. I notice that one of the maps has been pulled partially off the wall so that’ll need fixed. Maybe I can do that before I vacuum?
It’s 11:30. Time for me to make some lunch, tuna sandwiches with some tomatoes from the garden?, and maybe fold some clothes while they eat. I will sneak in a little quiet time when I go to put away my clothes and look through my prayer notebook. I will look over my To-Do list and look at what I had planned on getting done today.
Maybe at nap time I can search online for the outfits for the boys. Oldest sister’s wedding is quickly approaching and there is still so much to do. I will at least work on my desk mess a little bit. I know there is a pile of papers that need to be filed so maybe I’ll start there. Then hopefully I can try on the outfit before I go to bed and I noticed yesterday that I need to use the lint roller on it too.
Reading over this makes me realize that sometimes I just put too much on myself. Maybe you do too? There will always be something that needs to be done. Just take it one thing at a time, do the most important things first, break big jobs into little jobs, take rest breaks, and ask for help when you need it!
I hope you enjoyed taking a little peek into my day. I know sometimes I feel like I’ve failed but then I read about the struggles of others and I know that we all have our ‘days’. Sometimes those days are actually weeks or months. Each and every person has their struggles and their own way of dealing with it. Sometimes seeing how others deal with things can help us in our journey.
OK, I gotta go now as Loud brother is now Hungry brother and keeps repeating, ‘Mom, I’m hungry.’
I hope everyone has a blessed day!
NOTE:
While making lunch I realized I didn’t have any tuna so I checked the refrigerator and I had enough lunchboxes from dinner last night to warm up for lunch.
Grumpy sister was still confused about irregular nouns so I went over the work sheet with her and it was such a blessing to watch her face when it ‘clicked’ and she finally understood. She went on to finish the worksheet on her own and got them all correct.
I heard the UPS truck at the front gate but it was gone before I got to the door. Little boys were running around being crazy so I sent them to the gate (which was closed and locked) to retrieve the package for me. I stood at the door watching my little guys and saw how much they are growing and changing on a daily basis. They retrieved the package and picked some flowers. The were so proud when they handed me the flowers and the package.
Big sister helped to clean up after she finished her work and she actually did her reading lesson with no prompting or constant reminding!
Hungry brother probably told me 20 or 30 times he was hungry before I got lunch on the table but he did eventually eat.
Take each day and cherish it. Make memories that will last. Just focus on what is really important in your life. For me right now it is my family. Sticky floors and dirty windows can wait until tomorrow.

Cherished

SUSIE MIMM KIRBY·SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2016

Its been a little while since I’ve written anything. I’ve had lots to think about and even more to do. One thing that has been on my mind a lot is what I would like to find in a relationship. Surprisingly enough one thing I desire is to be cherished. I think most of us want this too but few of us have ever felt this. What does it even mean?
cher·ishˈCHeriSH/verbpast tense: cherished; past participle: cherished
  1. protect and care for (someone) lovingly.”he cared for me beyond measure and cherished me in his heart”synonyms:adore, hold dear, love, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire; More
    • hold (something) dear.”I cherish the letters she wrote”synonyms:treasure, prize, value highly, hold dear”I cherish her letters”
    • keep (a hope or ambition) in one’s mind.”he had long cherished a secret fantasy about his future”synonyms:harbor, entertain, possess, hold (on to), cling to, keep in one’s mind, foster, nurture“they cherished dreams of glory”
To cherish someone means we make another person our priority relationship. We can show them we cherish them by providing them with a loving, safe, secure environment. A place where they would never doubt our love, our care, and our commitment to them and our relationship.
I want my partner to love me, of course. But I also want him to protect me and to care for me, to adore me, to hold me close to his heart and to keep me in his thoughts and prayers.
I want him to encourage me and to be a breath of fresh air when I get overwhelmed and feel like I am smothering under my responsibilities.
Of course, I would show him the same in return but I think so many couples lack this one very important aspect of relationships. Its not just saying the words ‘I love you’ but showing them that makes a person feel cherished.
We can show our partners that we cherish them by sacrificing things for their behalf. It may be giving them the last bit of cake or missing out on a guys/girls night out to spend time with them.
Its in the little things we do or should do on a daily basis like touching them, listening to them, encouraging them, complimenting on something they did, and showing them respect.
Its also in the way we act towards them in public and the things we say about them to others. We also need to spend time alone with our partners to reconnect on a regular basis.
Its in the little gifts we give, just because, or the things we do without being asked.
If we all just took a few minutes everyday to look for ways to show one another how much we love each other then we would all feel cherished.

Open Doors

Sometimes we go through things in life that are really difficult. Just this past year I have been through a few very difficult things that I really didn’t understand. One thing I have learned is that when God closes one door He will open another one. When He takes away something it is because He has something better in store for us.
I know that when you are in the throes of a major struggle or event it is hard to find comfort in the fact that all things work for the greater good. It is hard to see that He has a bigger plan in mind and that He already knows what lies ahead. It is almost impossible to accept the circumstances and depend on Him.
If we can trust Him He will show us the way. He has created us in our own unique fashion. Each of us has different gifts, talents, and abilities that He can use for His purpose. Before we can see the doors He is opening for us we must let Him close the ones behind us. Remembering that no one can open a door that He has closed and that we must let go of the missed opportunities and quit living in the past.
The future can be uncertain and it can be scary to determine what opportunities would be the right ones to venture into. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right or that it was sent from God. On the other had just because something feels uncertain or questionable does not mean it isn’t right or that it wasn’t sent from God.
How do we know what doors to go through? This can be tricky but we should always know that it wouldn’t go against God’s word, if it was sent by Him. If we pray about the matter we will receive an answer about whether it is right or not.
Sometimes we think we have received the ‘go ahead’ only to find that we are facing many troubles. That could be because we didn’t actually receive the confirmation or because we face many enemies in our journeys. We will find that we need to fully depend on God to lead us where we need to go.
Our enemies will try to distract us from our purpose, they may attack us directly or they may use others to hinder us. They will try to tempt us away from the doors that God has opened. These attacks can be physical or spiritual in nature. They could even be disguised as something we have wanted to try to lure us away. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be discouraged.
We should recognize these battles as progress because there is a force that knows we are working to fulfill God’s purpose and plan. Just because God opened the door doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing. If we didn’t have these struggles then maybe we should wonder if we are on the right path. Just remember to follow God and ask Him for wisdom and guidance.
When the battles get rough remember that God has a reason for opening the doors He has opened for us. He wants us to go through these doors and down these paths for our own good. When we feel like giving up we need to remember that He is our strength and our refuge. He will give us victory over every obstacle we face on our journey. He will bring us peace and joy in our lives.
Always trust God because He has the plan and He will always do what is best for us.

A Good Man

What would be considered a good man? I guess we all could have very different answers to that question. Our answers could even vary depending on when and where are in life.
I think a good man is one who lives his life in a way that no one could question his intentions. The way he lives his life is a reflection of who he truly is on the inside.
Recently I met a man who I believe truly is a ‘good man’. Why do I say this? He is probably one of the sweetest most humble men I have ever come across in my time here on earth. He definitely lives in a way that others would see Jesus in him.
This man is kind and takes care of others. He will help without being asked and gives without expecting to be repaid. I have met others who I thought were like this but he has helped me in so many ways that I could never repay him.
He is full of wisdom. He will take the time to listen and then help you with your problems. I can confide in him without worry of him repeating it.
Is he perfect? No, but he admits his faults and will not blame others when he has made a mistake. He is honest and genuine. He stands by his morals and his character couldn’t be questioned. He is a man of integrity for sure.
He encourages me and I’m sure he encourages others around him to be better people. People have noticed a difference in me since I met him. I am a better person because of knowing him and I thank him for that. (Really, I do thank him a lot and he hasn’t a clue why!)
I thank God for letting our paths cross and letting me know this ‘good man’. Knowing him has given me a newfound hope that our world is not as lost as I thought it was. It is a better place just knowing that there are a few good men still out there.
Hopefully everyone one of us can think of a good man around us. One that we are thankful to have in our lives as a role model, a leader, or as a friend. It can be a brother, a father, a husband, a neighbor, or maybe someone at church.
Can we all take a few minutes and say a prayer for these men of God? We need to pray that God will protect them and guide them along their paths. Pray for strength and wisdom for them to get through the many battles they will face. Pray that they will lead their lives so that others will want to come to know Christ. Also pray that God will find favor in them and will bless them abundantly in this life and in heaven. Amen.
Additional thoughts:
A good man makes you happy. Just think about it, when you talk to him or do things with you then you are left feeling happy. It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about or what activity you will have a sense of genuine happiness just being in contact with this man.
When life gets hard and confusing and you feel like you are helpless he will remind you that you are not. He will bring a breath of fresh air to reignite the embers in your soul so that your light can shine again.