Category Archives: Kids

Our ever changing homeschool routine

Original Blog Post April 15, 2016
I just posted about the beginnings of our homeschooling journey. We have made several changes and continue to make changes as needed to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. When we first started this school year I was a bit overambitious and I was stressed.
I must thank the FlyLady for helping get my routines set up and keeping me motivated! There is also a FB group for anyone who is interested in learning more about this method. With that being said a routine is very important also. At least for our family that is. We have one child who has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD as well as some other issues and another child who has ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).
Routine is the key to helping everyone stay on track. With a routine they know what is expected and when it is expected. We have tried various charts and methods for posting our routine. It was pretty strict at first but I have relaxed a lot since we first started. We do have a few things posted as a general outline of the day.
I have some visual learners and they really need to see it every day. Then we also have a HUGE calendar that we keep things on also. This has made a tremendous difference with my kids. We did have another schedule board posted in the kitchen. It had our morning chores and morning school activities on it. The kids would move a clothespin down to each activity and they really enjoyed it. The only problem was that occasionally we wouldn’t do something in the order it was on the chart and my one son would get really upset about it. Now its just more of a general ‘To-Do’ list that we need to complete for the morning, afternoon and evening.
I usually get up about 6:00 am and take my quick shower. I will get dressed and fix my hair. Then I head to the kitchen and try to sneak in a little ‘Mommy Time’ before the pitter-patter of little feet. I will fix my coffee and go over my daily schedule on my online calendar. I have been known to forget about a doctor’s appointment or such. I also try to look at the menu and get started on dinner if it is a crockpot meal. (Menus will be another post.) I will usually unload the dishwasher and put away the dishes that go in the top cupboards. I leave the lower cupboard items on the counter for the girls to put up when they get up.
I have been trying to keep the kids in their rooms until 7:00 am to give me a little time but sometimes the little guys find their way to the kitchen before then. I will fix breakfast and usually have it on the table when the kids make it to the kitchen. The basic morning routines for the kids include:
Wake up
Make your bed
Get dressed
Brush your hair
Go potty (I have a few who still need to be reminded of this on a pretty consistent basis.)
Eat breakfast
Brush your teeth
I keep it fairly simple and we do have a small sheet posted with pictures (for those who can’t read yet) and words to help remind them of what needs done.
After breakfast everyone helps with a quick clean up and some chores which vary day by day. We even include these on our school schedule as ‘Life Skills’ as they are learning how to care for a home. While the kids are cleaning up I get the laptops set up for school and get everyone’s work out for the day. (I have a multi-tabbed color coded folder which helps me stay organized. Each child has a different color.)I usually just open up tabs on the laptops with each assignment for the day. When they finish the assignment they leave the tab open until I come around and check.
We then have our ‘Morning Time/Circle Time’, not sure what to call it, where we go over patterns, calendar, counting, money/time, weather, bible, and whatever extra materials I have set out for the day. (Again I have a 3-ring binder with different activities organized by the day. Sometimes we get to them and sometimes we don’t. I used to stress over making sure I covered it all but now I don’t.) We sometimes include a quick workout/dance video or other activity to get the wiggles out. Then we will have a quick snack around 9:30 am. This usually takes us 15-30 minutes.
My 7 & 9 year old will sit at the kitchen island while the boys sit at the kitchen table. When everyone gets settled in to doing their work I will check the bedrooms and make sure the beds are made. (I don’t make their beds for them or do any unfinished chores but will have them go back and do it if needs done.) I also clean the back bathroom and check the second bathroom to make sure the kids have cleaned it. This usually takes 5-10 minutes tops.
I will check on the girls and see if they need help with anything and see if they need help with anything. (My high schooler works independently and she will ask for help when she needs it.) Then I will sit with the boys and we will work with our hands on activities and/or crafts. We will also go through their lessons online and watch a few YouTube videos of their choosing, lately they just want to watch dinosaur videos.
While the little boys watch a short video or two I work with my older son on his reading lessons. On good days he will get finished really quickly and then there are bad days where he says he doesn’t know any of the words. He knows that we won’t go to the next activity until he finishes his reading so I try to keep something he enjoys for last. Sometimes it is ABC mouse or Teach Your Monster to Read and other times it may be a puzzle or game.
Before lunch time we usually have our ‘Independent Work’ completed. This includes reading, language arts, and math. When everyone is finishing up they will begin cleaning up their workspaces. Each child will put their completed work into a color coded folder so Mommy can find it later and decide what to keep for their portfolio. Ideally I like to go through these once a week but right now their folders are overflowing. (This would have driven me nuts a couple of months ago but now I know I will get to it, eventually.)
After cleaning up we will get started on lunch. This is usually around 11:30 am. Sometimes I have lunch boxes prepared with leftovers from the night before or sometimes I just make lunches in the morning and put the boxes in the refrigerator for later. Most days everyone eats lunch together.
While eating lunch I will do some reading with them. (Right now we are reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin for history.) When they are finished with lunch we have a quick clean up and everyone takes a potty break. I will start the dishwasher and check on my menu if I haven’t already put something in the crockpot for dinner.
Until just this past month everyone would go lie down for ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch. I found that they really didn’t want to finish their work after they got up and it would just drag the afternoon on and on and on. So now after lunch we just go right into our ‘Group Studies’ which are History, Science, Art, Music and PE/Health. Everyone works together on these subjects. We do a lot of lapbooks and sometimes we will look up videos for areas they are interested in. If the work is complicated I will give the little ones coloring pages or another activity to work on while the older ones do their work. This little change has been working much better for us.
After ‘Group Studies’ all of the kids have some ‘Quiet Time’. This is usually over around 2:00 pm. Then they can go outside and play or go to our playroom to play depending on the weather. We just have one rule at ‘Quiet Time’ which is ‘No Feet on the Floor!’. This gives me a chance to work on my grocery list, couponing, or entering grades and checking over our daily schedule to make sure I haven’t missed something.
Once ‘Quiet Time’ is over we will have a quick snack. I will go outside, usually with a kid or two following, and feed the pigs and check for eggs. We will also check the garden and pick any veggies that are ready or anything that we may need for dinner. We come in and wash the goodies we have found.
I will start on dinner between 4:00 – 5:00 pm. This is another thing I changed recently. I ALWAYS had dinner ready by 5:00 pm. That’s another story for another day though. Our family has had some major changes in the past couple of years and I have just had to make adjustments to help us all through it. Life happens and now dinner will be ready sometime between 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Today it was ready by 5:00 pm but that has been a rarity lately. Once 5:30 pm rolls around I will have kids complaining that they are starving and must eat so I try to have it ready close to that time.
After dinner we clean up and do some quick chores. The kids will have some quiet play or reading time and then the kids will take baths and put on PJs. They are usually in bed around 7:30 pm except for the oldest and the youngest. I will sit with the younger ones until they are sleepy and then help them to bed. My oldest will finish up her school work and I will finish up any desk work I have left for the day. I am usually exhausted and in bed by 9:00 pm. Exciting isn’t it?
Now you may notice that we do have chores a couple of times during the day. Our chores only take 5-15 minutes at a time. I have found by having a few ‘quick pickups’ spaced out through the day it keeps us from having a major mess at the end of the day. Even the little ones can help with clean ups. Not every day goes very smooth or ends with a clean house.
With a routine you need to decide what will work for your family. Don’t be too strict about it but it may also be wise not to be too relaxed either. Start simple and as things slowly. Sit down and decide what you would like to accomplish each day/week and decide what the important things are. Assign a general time to have these things completed. I have found that by breaking the day up into smaller chunks of time it really keeps me from being overwhelmed.
Remember that you can change your routine if it isn’t working. With our family what works today may not work tomorrow and may need a complete overhaul to get everyone back on track again. Don’t be afraid of change!
Good luck!

Summer Break

Original Blog Post June 6, 2016
It’s ‘Summer Break’ at our house… more like ‘Wedding Break’ as I had originally planned on schooling through the year. We took a break off to finish up big sister’s wedding and then we were scheduled to start back today. That’s not happening though as I am exhausted.
I bought ‘The Prairie Primer’ to use for the summer but I haven’t actually started it yet. It goes along with ‘The Little House on The Prairie’ series. I loved these books when I was a kid and I kind of want to pass these on to my kids.
I plan to buy some other books to go along with the studies like:
The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories
My Little House Crafts Book: 18 Projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House Stories
My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection
My Little House Sewing Book
There are other books and materials that I could get also but I’m just not sure how in depth I want to go with it. I guess it all depends on how interested the kids get into the study.
I think this will be fun and big sister has been recording the series on the DVR so they can watch some of them also.
For now though they have been learning about different crafts and activities and also learning some social skills. We will also continue to go to the zoo, museums (which reminds me of a really neat dinosaur exhibit I need to check in to), camping, fishing and other outings as the opportunities come up.
What plans do you have for your ‘Summer Break’?

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.

I Can’t Do it by Myself!

Original Blog Post April 20, 2016
Earlier today as the kids were cleaning up for lunch work I sent the 4 year old to tidy up the playroom. It was a mess which had mostly been created by his younger brother and himself. He went in and immediately said, ‘Momma, I can’t do it by myself!.’. I explained to him that if he would just choose one thing at a time to put away he could indeed do it by himself. He put away all the books and then he attempted to put the cushions back on the couch and chair. He couldn’t do it. I watched him try and try. He struggled but he kept on trying.
Finally he asked me for help. I was sitting here at my desk, which I had taken a picture of earlier because I planned to clean it up and post the before/after pics to one of my groups, and looked at the piles of paper. There are school papers, bills, books to read, books that need put away, sigh… I could go on and on. I got up and pulled the top down over the mess.
Then I saw the mess on top of the desk. Projects I’ve been working on, copy paper that needs put away, stacks of mail for my older kids, notes about appointments to make, and so much more. I turn to the island and start to clear it. There is a note that simply says ‘pantyhose, receipt book, tea’, seems like an odd combination but that was some things I remembered when I was in the shower this morning. Everything has been taken care of and has been crossed off so I throw it into the trash. There are several of these notes laying around the house as I have to jot everything down or I will forget.
The kids are yelling for me as someone is taking turns on the swing. My dad needs me outside to look at something. The phone rings and it is a telemarketer. My special needs son is having a melt down and as I notice that he needs a haircut, which may or may not result in another melt down. Then I remember that I forgot to do something, but what was it? Was it important?
As I stop and look around I see there is a grocery list to finish. Sales to look up. Coupons to clip. Floors to vacuum and mop. Things to dust and polish. The windows have little hand prints and smudges everywhere. The yard needs mowed. I still need to plant the stuff I bought over the weekend. My list goes on and on.
I go to bed so tired that I can’t sleep. I wake up before I’m rested to start again. My body hurts. My head hurts. My body hurts. Sometimes it just feels like too much. I feel OVERWHELMED! I just want to cry! I can’t do it alone!
I realize that I’ve been running around trying to clean up my messes and get my stuff in order but I can’t do it alone. I need to take some time and have a little heart to heart with GOD. Maybe you’ve recently been widowed or divorce? You’ve not only lost your partner but your friend. You have no one to talk to when things are going rough, or when you have exciting news. You feel utterly alone. It can be so scary. You feel confused when the person you thought you knew has turned into a complete stranger.
Life is hard. Keeping up with a house is hard. Taking care of a family is hard. Its all hard enough when you are married and have someone to share the responsibilities. When that someone leaves and you find yourself all alone doing all the work it makes it that much harder. Maybe you can ‘keep up appearances’ for a little while like I did. Then when it sinks in that they aren’t coming back you have a whole new sense of being overwhelmed. That has been me for the past month or so since the papers were filed. Now as our court date approaches I know it’s over and I feel almost as hurt and overwhelmed as I did when he first left.
So what do you do? First, have a talk with GOD. Confide in him. Ask him for the strength you need. Ask him for guidance. He is there for you!
Second, I would fix a drink or snack and make a list. Then decide what needs done first, second and so on.
Third, take a deep breath and get to work. It doesn’t matter what you do just choose one thing and get started! Try to handle top priorities first.
Make sure to take frequent breaks to re-energize. I have found that when I am upset I have a lot of energy so I try to put it to good use by cleaning or organizing. Lately though the kids have been a little crazy and it seems almost impossible to get even the basic things done.
I have my routines on my phone. When I have these days, which they have been quite frequent lately, then I pull out my phone. (You could have them on paper or wherever is best for you to have easy access for them.) I look at my list and work on it. If I remember something that isn’t normally on my list, check to see if I have pantyhose to go with my suit, then I write it down on a sheet of paper.
Letting go of perfection is another thing when you are feeling overwhelmed. Is there something the kids or someone else can help you with? Ok, maybe they won’t clean the windows the way you would but at least the windows would be clean. Maybe they don’t fold the towels like you do but you could check that off your list. Involving the kids can help keep them occupied so you can get other tasks finished.
When you come to something that is really hard then ask for help or break it up into smaller chunks. I hate cleaning the refrigerator so I might just clean the top shelf one day and another shelf the next. If I’m trying to fix dinner and the 2 year old is screaming for a drink I might ask the 9 year to get it for him. If I’m out of milk and my son says he is going to town I’ll ask him to grab some milk. Remember, if you feel overwhelmed just stop and take a breath. It’s OK to cry and scream (you may just want to scream into your pillow so you don’t scare the kids). Just don’t sit down or throw your hands in the air and give up!
Don’t forget to PRAY!

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.