Category Archives: Life

We Have A Brand New Website!

Check out this new site for one of our local square dance clubs!

Mandarin Marauders Square Dance Club

Hey everybody! I just wanted to check in with everyone as I’ve been missing you all but I haven’t forgotten about you! I’ve been on the mend and busy working on this new site for our awesome club. I’m happy to say that it is up and running now and I want to invite you to come check it out.

Hopefully we’ll be adding even more new and exciting information to it soon as well as some pictures from the upcoming Florida State and Round Dancing Convention this weekend! I’m hoping to see you all there!

Be sure to tell your friends and family about the new site and invite them to follow our blog and our Facebook page so they can see all the fun we are having!

Talk to you soon and I hope to see you in a square!

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Keeping Memories

This past weekend I was helping to sort out some sheds with Mr. Awesome. There were a ton of items with a ton of memories attached. However some things were decided to go for Yard Sale items and a few were given to me like this photo album…

How often do we take photos and print them out anymore? Do you still clip newspaper articles to keep? I know that I many things saved in my Bible but nothing recent. I also have a few photo albums from when my older kids were little but over the past 10 years or so I haven’t had that many photos to keep.

After finding this lost post I decided that this was something I was going to change, today. The world is so digital now that it is many times easier to keep the photos on your phone or computer. What happens if you don’t have them backed up on something and your phone is lost or destroyed? That is something I don’t even want to think about.

This past year I had some photos and other important items get destroyed because they had been improperly stored. It wasn’t intentional as the place they were stored was intended to be temporary but then LIFE happened and they never got relocated. I’ve shed my tears over those precious items but I am determined not to let that happen again.

Continue reading Keeping Memories

Time Out, Please Press Pause

This is another one of those posts that never made it to be Published so please forgive me as this is a little bit late…

Have you ever just wanted to find the remote for LIFE? Maybe just press the PAUSE button for a bit. We could fast forward through some parts and go back to others and replay them again and again. While this would be such a great idea it’s not possible.

The past few weeks and month have felt like some parts have went by in fast forward while others have been going in slow motion. I would love to go back a replay a few parts over and over again. There are definitely others I’d like to skip completely but I can’t.

In August I made a trip to PA to see my Mom-mom (grandmother) and Pop-pop (grandfather). My Mom-mom had been in and out of the hospital and was in the nursing home when I went to visit. She was dying and it was hard to see her knowing that it was probably going to be our last visit together.

She was in good spirits when I last saw her and she was still trying to make sure everyone else was taken care of. She also made it known that she didn’t like it where she was and that she really didn’t like her view out of the window, especially the fence. While there were times she understood why she was there she would still ask to go home. Other times she talked of ‘going home’ in more spiritual sense.

That last visit is one that I have replayed in my head so many times. What more could I have said to her? What more could I have done? I wish I had been able to spend more time with her and I really wish my kids had known her better but there isn’t a thing I can do about that now.

Fast forward to September 27th when I got the call. I already had a feeling and was ready to call my mom but she called me first. Life stood still for a moment and I had a good cry. Then I know it was time to take a DEEP BREATH and make the calls I needed to make. Once the calls were made I had to decide whether I was going up or not. I had already been talking about going back but just hadn’t set a date. That call set the date for me.

I didn’t tell many people of our travel plans. This was partly due to the fact that I didn’t want drama and partly because I wasn’t even certain that we would be able to make it there. Up until the time we actually left I wasn’t sure if I was going alone or taking the whole family.

The 15 hour ride was a blur. Much of the driving was done at night and went fairly well. The morning we arrived I had actually spoken to my mom for over an hour and hadn’t told her we were just a couple of hours from seeing her. When we finally arrived at our destination we suprised everyone.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if there would be a lot of family there already or if they would even be at home. My aunt was in the driveway and I said a quick ‘Hello’ before going in the house. I met my cousin inside and went in search of my mom and Pop-pop. I looked downstairs, out on the back porch, and listened for their voices at the basement stairs.

With a quick phone call I asked my mom what she was doing. She told me that she and my sister-in-law were changing sheets upstairs. I quietly went up the stairs talking to her on the phone. I was spotted when I reached the top of the stairs but put my finger over my mouth, Shhhhh!!!!

The look on their faces when I walked in the room was priceless. I wish we could have caught it on video but we didn’t. She was so happy to see me but I told her there was a bigger surprise waiting downstairs. Seeing her grandkids was the ultimate surprise for her as she hasn’t seen them in a while.

Then Pop-pop came down to see what the fuss was about and he was totally surprised as well, once he figured out ‘which one’ I was… lol. The kids really helped to cheer him up and made my heart happy.

The next couple of days were a bit of a blur also. The funeral service was beautiful and she looked so beautiful and peaceful. The funeral home had put together a DVD of family photos which was a wonderful reminder of the long blessed life she had and the multitude of lives she has touched. I had been running on autopilot up until we arrived at the funeral home. When the word cemetery came out of the director’s mouth I lost my composure and everything I had been holding in started to seep out. Even now I am tearing up thinking about that day.

The time spent with family will be a memory that we will replay again and again and even though these were some very sad memories and they bring tears to my eyes now I am glad that I have these memories.

Finding Time With Routines And Schedules

I know how busy life gets and we all… ok, most us… feel like we need more time every now and then, right? Well, there are only 24 hours in a day and we can’t make more time no matter how hard we try so that means we just need to find ways to use our time more wisely.

First we need to get our priorities straight and make sure we are getting the things done that need to get done like feeding everyone and making sure they have clean clothes to wear. We should probably make sure we clean the house from time to time and if you homeschool you gotta have time for that too. Not to mention that there are so many other things like appointments, grocery shopping, and other obligations that happen everyday.

Click here to read about our our Google Home Hub has helped this busy Momma keep our routines and schedules organized.

Sometimes it seems like there is no time left for the fun stuff but I promise that routines can help. I have written many a post about our routines here. Our routines help keep us running smoothly most of the time. The routines work when we follow them and sometimes we don’t but we quickly realize how much we need them. As soon as we get back on routine our lives get less chaotic.

I have included some pics and screenshots of our different routines and schedules below but please don’t think this is complicated. Ours are far more complicated than most as we have a lot of things going on here and I need these to keep myself and my household organized. Every family is different and every set of routines will be different What works for us may not work for you but feel free to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines and/or schedules.

Continue reading Finding Time With Routines And Schedules

DIY Corner Entertainment Center

I guess its better late than never. As I was going through some of my drafts I’ve found a few posts that never made it to be published and this is one of them. I know I’ve shown a few pics of this little masterpiece before but here is the story of how it became to be.

Before the trip to PA last year we had been working on the house, as we have been doing pretty regularly lately, and had just finished up a new project:

I had been having a lot of trouble sleeping which leads me to writing or sketching in my notebook. This was one of the sketches I came up with.

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I must say that Mr. Awesome nailed it! Hopefully we will get around to completing some of our other many projects when we get back on track. Continue reading DIY Corner Entertainment Center

Hey Google, I’d like you to meet my friend…

So in a few of my past posts I’ve mentioned my new friend, Google, and I may have even shown a picture or two but I haven’t really introduced you yet. I have always loved Google as I can find answers to just about anything I need to know with Google but this Google is different.

So without further ado, let’s meet my new found friend and personal assistant…

ME: Hey Google, I’d like you to meet my friend…

GOOGLE: You’re the cereal to my milk. I like to think we compliment each other... she’s so funny!

ME: But seriously, Google, this is my blogging friend and I want to tell them all about your most important features.

GOOGLE: I have lots of powers and they are growing everyday… lol… I told you she was funny.

Continue reading Hey Google, I’d like you to meet my friend…

Freezer Cooking Made Me Cry Yesterday

Hey ya’ll its been a few days since I’ve checked in with you. I hope everyone is doing well. We are finally getting over these colds that have been passed around and around and around… you get the point. I’m tired of being sick and tired and of being around whiny kids who are sick and tired… yeah not a fun week at all but it has been productive even though I ended up getting this post out a day late… Oops!

We have been sticking to our goals and our Plan of Action that I made earlier in the month. The kids are listening and behaving better, well for the most part, even thought they’ve not been feeling well. We’ve been working on keeping the noise level down and I’ve found that my little friend Google has been AMAZING at helping me with this. I have been asking Google, ‘Hey Google, can you play me some music please?’. Note that I do use my manners  and she really appreciates that. When the kids can’t hear the music they know they are getting way too loud.

Continue reading Freezer Cooking Made Me Cry Yesterday

Get Ahead Of The Holiday Game!

Check out this page for links to fun and unique monthly holidays and fun ways to celebrate. Go ahead and add some ideas to your family calendar and make Life a little more fun this year!

Holidays

Making Time For Devotions

If you’ve been following along with my blog you probably have seen that we are really trying to make some positive changes around this little cabin. I will be the first to admit that towards the end of last year I was not a very happy Momma. We were in the midst of a very rough parenting phase with my two special needs kiddos who are 16 & 11 (going on 30)… their attitudes and behavior were at a point that I really doubted my parenting skills and abilities. Something had to change, actually a lot of somethings had to change.

Personal Devotions

One big thing that I had gotten away from was my daily devotions. I wasn’t having my ‘quiet time’ in the mornings before the kids woke up which meant I wasn’t having any one on one meetings with my LORD. Boy have I missed those sessions!

Well, 2019 is the year for me to stop wishing for CHANGE and to start making it happen! I’ve been posting a lot about some of the things we’ve been working on and one of those the past couple of weeks has been to start making time for devotions.

Not everyone may feel the same as I do but I really do need some time to myself. I need time to plan, to organize my thoughts, and talk to my LORD. I also have things I want to do like blog, arts & crafts projects, and I have a ton of reading to catch up on.

First things first though is making time for my daily devotions. I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of getting up early before the kids so that I can have my ‘quiet time’. I’ll admit that this hasn’t been easy especially on cold mornings like this today. Then yesterday I got up early but I had issues with the coffee maker and ended up not getting to my ‘quiet time’. I like to get comfy when I study or read so I like to have a drink with me. Sometimes I will snuggle up with a warm blanket and other times I might like to sit outside on the porch just depending on the whether and how I feel.

I also keep a notebook with me to jot down notes and also to keep track of different things I am praying about or people/situations I am praying for. One of the really important things I really try to include in prayer is our homeschool journey because without GOD’s help I can’t do this. This is a good way to keep myself organized and I can look back through my notebook to see just how much GOD has done for me and my family through the year.

Before we moved I had transformed part of my closet into a place where I could find some ‘quiet time’ even in the middle of the day. I kept my BIBLES, devotionals, and prayer journal in my desk there. It was so easy to ‘find’ time because I had everything organized. However here, in this little cabin, I don’t have a dedicated space so it has been more of a challenge for me.

Secondly, I never seem to know where to start when it comes to reading my BIBLE. Sometimes I’ll go through a phase where I just open it up and read wherever and then other times I try to follow along with a book like one of these here:

First Light Women’s Daily Devotional & Journal

Starting Your Day Right

I have started both of these books at different times but have never completed either one of them… sad but true. This year I am determined to finish one of them!

**This post may contain affiliate links to products and/or services that we use. If a purchase is made through one of these links we may make a small commission which costs you nothing extra and blesses our family so we thank you! For full affiliate disclosure please click HERE.if a product is purchased through one of our links.

I also like to keep some of these FREE booklets in my bags so that I have something to read when waiting at appointments or such:

Our Daily Bread

In Touch

There are also a wide variety of email devotionals and apps that you can use from your phone which make it so much easier to do this on the go. I have also found this site HERE which has many plans to use and I am going to try to read through the BIBLE this year… even though some of it may be more listening than reading. This is a goal I have had since I was young and I’ve never completely read through the entire bible yet. The site has several other FREE plans to help you with your spiritual life and you can even join as a group with friends to encourage each other.Y

Many people think that devotions need to be an in depth study but that’s not true. Your devotions should be what feels right for you. The LORD will lead you to more in depth studies when HE knows you are ready… and HE will make it all POSSIBLE.

I do have a couple of Proverbs 31 studies that I’ve bookmarked to work on this year as well as some others that I’ll share as we go through the year. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with too much information. If there is something specific that you FEEL led to study then you can always do a GOOGLE search on the subject (ex: becoming a proverbs 31 woman bible study) and find many options to choose from.

If you aren’t sure how to set up your prayer journal you can find lots of useful ideas and printables HERE or some more great ideas HERE.

Family Devotions

I feel that not only do I need to do my personal devotions but I probably need to start including more time for family devotions as well. Now we do have some BIBLE studies and such worked into our homeschool routine but sometimes we may need to add to it.

We may try to start having a scripture reading at a designated meal time or maybe just have a certain time of day to read scripture… I’m not really sure about my plans for this addtional devotion time yet but I am working on it. Sometimes we have BIBLE discussions in the van when we are going places so really it could happen anytime and anywhere.

I have found a few different ideas for family devotions HERE and HERE. If you don’t like either of those you can check out this GOOGLE search. My kids and I really enjoyed using this book here too:

Our Daily Bread for Kids: 365 Meaningful Moments with God

Couple Devotions

This is another area that I think is important but we don’t really do this yet. We have discussions on occasion but never anything set or intentional. Now for this to work it has to be something that we both can agree on and something we can work into our schedules.

Many other people may find it difficult as well but remember that you don’t have to physically be in the same place at the same time. You can decide to them via phone, FACETIME, or SKYPE or maybe just have a designated time each day to spend on your devotions.

I’ve found a few ideas for couple devotions HERE and HERE.

Not married or don’t have a partner? You can always spend a little time praying for that special person. I know I prayed for Mr. Awesome before I even met him and I am so glad I did. I loved these books HERE and HERE for this.

In the end I don’t think you will regret any time you spend on your devotions. You should definitely start out slowly and work your way into this new routine. It takes a little while to get a new habit started and if you happen to be like me this will be a habit that will grow on you and get easier as time goes by. This one habit can make such a BIG difference in your whole LIFE… I know it does in mine.

If it seems that you are having trouble getting it started then pray for GOD to lead you in the way you should go. Maybe you are trying to do too much? Or maybe what you are trying to do just isn’t what is best for you or your family.

Have a blessed weekend!

Join Me At The Toxic Mold Summit

I’ve really been trying to make 2019 the best year ever here in our little cabin. One thing that I’m always hearing about is toxic mold… how scary does that sound? It sounds terrifying to me so I’m really wanting to learn more about what it is and what I can do to protect my family from it.

--->>Click here to download your free eGuide: Got Mold, Now What?

Did you know it could be mold toxicity if you are, or someone you know is suffering from sinus infections, bronchitis and migraines; weakened by gut issues, brain fog, fatigue, neurologic symptoms; constantly challenged with sleep issues; enduring terrible mood swings, anxiety and/or depression; reacting to chemicals, smells, foods, medications and more!

All reasons not to miss The Toxic Mold Summit, online and free from January 28 – February 3, 2019!

Join Me At The Toxic Mold Summit by Reserving Your Spot HERE !

A New School Routine For The New Year

This was our first week back to school and as I mentioned in this post HERE we started a new school routine which has worked out rather well so far. We will be doing our Group studies on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with Mondays and/or Fridays being left for their independent studies and/or completing assignments they didn’t finish with the group.

We are also using Mondays & Fridays to do the majority of our household cleaning & chores, running errands, etc. This has helped out so much being able to dedicate a big chunk of time on projects that I’ve been wanting to work on and just haven’t been able to get to lately. This included getting our house back in order after the holidays… it was such a MESS! If you don’t believe me you should see the pics in this post.

After getting the bulk of the organizing finished up on Monday we were FREE to FOCUS on our school work with minimal interruptions. No pausing to check laundry which normally meant a 15-20 minute interruption. No waiting for stragglers to quit lollygagging around with chores as we have a set time to get them finished or they just wait until the school work is finished. I mean a few dirty dishes or crumbs in the floor won’t kill anyone, right?

Continue reading A New School Routine For The New Year

A Fresh Start In The New Year Part 2

**This post may contain affiliate links to products and/or services that we use. If a purchase is made through one of these links we may make a small commission which costs you nothing extra and blesses our family so we thank you! For full affiliate disclosure please click HERE.

So if you read my post yesterday you know that we had some unexpected work that had to get done around the house. What you didn’t get to see was the post holiday mess the rest of the house was still in… yep, I’m gonna show you some really messy pics of our cabin because LIFE is MESSY at times and we aren’t PERFECT so our place gets just as MESSY as everyone else’s house, and probably more at times.

One thing I know is that you can’t truly organize CLUTTER! Boy oh boy was it in abundance around earlier this week. I’m kinda embarrassed to show you all these pics but I really want to show everyone that you CAN change your LIFE one little step at a time. The important thing is to remember that the CHANGE must start somewhere and I know that LIFE can be so OVERWHELMING at times… these pics can prove that… but we can’t just sit around and wait for someone else to do something that we aren’t willing to do ourselves.

On the other hand I want everyone to know that our house has not looked this BAD in a long time. I know that HOARDING tendencies seem to run in one side of my family and that scares the crap out of me! Part Most of this was MESS was due to the post holiday chaos we had and the total LACK of ENERGY I had from not feeling well … but enough with the EXCUSES as I was determined to get past the PROCRASTINATION.

Over the weekend I had made a short To-Do List to work on and a couple of the first items to tackle were the kitchen and the bathroom. However the closet became number 1 priority when the kids demolished some of the shelving… you can read about that project HERE. Here’s the BEFORE of the kitchen:

You can see breakfast prep was ongoing when I took this and it was so hard to accomplish anything with the CLUTTER laying around. Mr. Joey wanted to help with breakfast so I did a quick tidy to make room and let him work on some Pancake Poppers for a quick breakfast.

We made one batch of blueberry and one batch of sausage… yum!

After breakfast I did a quick cleanup and had the kitchen back to a semi-normal state within 20-30 minutes… YAY!

Then I tackled the bathroom which took another 10-15 minutes. I could feel myself running out of steam really quickly though. I crossed off those two items and another as the kids had helped change sheets and tidy up the loft area as I cleaned in the kitchen and bathroom. Then I attempted to tackle the next area which was in the Main Room

This pic was actually from Thursday before I got to work on paying bills but honestly there wasn’t a whole lot of change from then to Sunday. I did start on it but got interrupted with something or another and that was pretty much the end of the cleaning for the day.

However on Monday I had a new PLAN OF ACTION. We needed to get started back to school work but I knew that there was no way I would keep anyone’s attention with all the stuff sitting around just begging to be discovered.

So I made an executive decision that for now our group studies will be completed Tuesday-Thursday. The kids can work on independent or one-one tasks on Mondays and Fridays. This change also included a temporary change in our Laundry and Cleaning Routines as the majority of those tasks will be completed on Mondays and Fridays as well. So far so good with this change and we’ve actually been able to accomplish quite a bit more in the cleaning and school areas.

Our first task of the day was to get this tree put away…

Most of the other decorations had already been packed into totes the week before so we just had to make room for the tree decor. Then everything was taken to the shed and neatly put away.

Then to get the table put back up. I put Joey to work on bagging up the random grocery bags around the house so we can reuse them.

I set to work on straightening up my bedroom… this is what it looks like after getting back from a dance. I usually have the little boys in here to change and the girls use the closet to get ready. This means I can’t get in there to put away anything so it ends up piled on my bed… sigh.

After a bit it looked much better except for the basket of laundry sitting there… but hey, at least it was clean laundry. I went ahead and checked the bedroom off the To-Do List as well, but as you will see in a bit that may have been a bit premature.

While I worked in the bedroom the kids cleaned up the floor where the tree had been. They also worked on organizing their school cubbies so we could have a fresh start for the next day. They also put away some of the items that had been cluttering the table. Things actually seemed to be getting MESSIER instead of cleaner!

They also worked on straightening up the TV area as there were dirty dishes, controllers, toys that needed put away.

We were on a roll and our next mission was to get rid of all the boxes sitting around. Most of these held Christmas gifts that needed homes. Now that we had straightened up most everything this would be an easier task to accomplish. But first Jacob thought everyone should have a quick snack of candy canes from the tree… lol.

Again things seemed to get MESSIER before they got better. This table became a sorting place for EVERYTHING. I opened a box, sorted out what needed to go where, and then we took care of EVERYTHING we had out at the moment before moving to the next box.

Here is another pile that had to get sorted as well.

It might have been a bit time saving to have sorted all the boxes at once but we had William helping out and he gets OVERWHELMED easily and then it gets a bit HARD for anyone else to get anything accomplished as you have to keep redirecting him.

I had received a ton of new school supplies from Santa… he knew just what I need, right? We also got lots of new books and William really wanted to read all of them. In the process I lost a book I had pulled off my bookshelf earlier in the day… my mistake, as I should’ve waited until we were finished with the clean up. You just might laugh, like Mr. Awesome did, when I show you the book I lost:

The Organized Homeschool Life

But anyway as I sorted the kids carried things and put them away but some items got piled on my bed… it appeared that my bed also had become a playground at some point in time. This time the MESS actually looks worse than it was.

Once most of the items had been sorted and carried to their new homes, or at least in the general area of their new home, Ms. Bella made some yummy PB&Js for the crew. As you can see everything was looking much better.

Even the bedroom looked pretty good…

As I was carrying things out to the shed I noticed something in the pond…

I had to call the kids out to take a closer peek… such a cute suprise!

I had a couple of more things to get organized and look at like this organizer I had gotten for Christmas:

And these new books that we got for our homeschool…

I’m so excited to start using these in the future!

We also got a few more books that everyone is excited to read like this one here:

Soft Rain

As I worked on setting up the organizer and putting away these items the girls wasted no time getting to work making some headbands, bracelets other items now that they had room to work at the table.

Then the UPS man brought my Grove package… another pleasant suprise!

I am really loving the Mrs. Meyers cleaners and have started to try out some of the other products which you can also get on AMAZON. Once I got all of these put away I worked on a little redecorating as everything looked so BARE.

I pulled some of the peacock decor out of my bedroom for now…

The gold peacock was something Mr. Awesome bought for me last year and that little pig was one I painted many, many years ago when my older kids will young.

I moved the flowes basket from the kitchen to this window. This is where my new napkin holder is sitting as well as the new globe that we got for Christmas.

It also lights up to show the constellations which is so NEAT!(I don’t know why but this made our homeschool seem so much more ‘official like’… lol)

In the kitchen I took down the cornice that was up there and put up this really cute tray I found with the after Christmas clearance at Walmart.

All in all we had a really good day and with the kids helping out as much as they did I didn’t get too overwhelmed nor did I completely wear myslef out as I have been doing a lot lately.

We didn’t do a deep cleaning or major reorganizing. We did find a HOME for EVERYTHING and we did PURGE some items as we went along. There are still things that need to be done but the HOUSE feels so much BETTER now and I’m not constantly looking for things… other than that book that hasn’t resurfaced yet.

That’s OK as the wonderful UPS man delivered me another copy today… so maybe if I find the old one I can BLESS someone else with it.

The biggest thing with all of this was to just get STARTED. Another big thing was to not get sidetracked with the fact that everything wasn’t being ‘cleaned properly’ or organized exactly the way I wanted it. If we had stopped to rearrange and/or clean every book shelf and cabinet along the way I would still be working on this project.

Now that we have everything situated we can get back to our regular cleaning tasks, even though we have changed the routine the tasks are still the same, and EVERYTHING will get clean in its own time. My main FOCUS was just to get a bit more organized as I couldn’t find anything over the past couple of weeks. Even though I lost my book and it still drives me a little batty wondering where it might have went its not that big of a deal in the BIG PICTURE.

We accomplished the GOAL that we set out to do and we can create a new PLAN OF ACTION for our next GOAL. For us this wasn’t a HUGE task to deal with as our house isn’t that BIG to start with. The MESS really did look worse than it was once we got started on it. If you have a bigger house then you might just need to FOCUS on ONE AREA at a time… not the whole house. If the task is still too BIG then focus on a smaller area at a time… break that elephant down into small pieces and work on them one at a time. A little progress is BETTER than doing NOTHING at all.

If you need a little motivation or encouragement then be sure to reach out to me via email or on Facebook in the Kirby’s Kabin Blog Group I’ve just started.

Have a great day and stay tuned for a look at our first couple of days with our new homeschool schedule!