Category Archives: Single Parenting

Evening Routines

I know by the time the kids are in bed the last thing you really want to do is think about any more routines. However the success of tomorrow morning will greatly depend on your evening routine. I try to keep it fairly simple and if I have checked off the tasks on my Morning Routines and Afternoon Routines then it doesn’t take me long at all.

Below are the screenshots of my current Evening Routine:

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Once the kids are in bed it is time for me to finish up the day so I can relax a little and have a bit of quiet time. I may sit in my room or watch a movie with DD17. Sometimes I just chat with some of my friends who are night owls as well.

First thing I do is check to make sure the coffee pot is ready to go in the morning. I also check our bread basket, which is more of a bread box now, and I will pull a loaf or two of bread out of the freezer if I need too.

Then if the dishwasher is full I will make sure it has been started and if it has already finished I will crack the door a bit. I have DS14 and DD9 hang their glasses on the bulletin board so they don’t misplace them. I will clean them and get them ready for the next day.

I will also wash out the water bottles, if they didn’t make it into the dishwasher, and refill them so they are ready for the morning. I have some really thirsty kids here and they love water!

Shining the sink is a FlyLady term and it simply means cleaning up your sink and making it shine. Nothing like coming into a clean kitchen with a shiny sink! I will also take the dirty wash rag and dish towel to the hamper and set out clean, fresh towels and rags.

I check to make sure the porch lights are on, and that the doors are locked, while going from room to room to double check that everything is pretty much in order. (2 minutes or less for this task.)

Before I put my computer away I will double check my calendar for the next day to make sure of any appointments or activities we may have planned. I will also review the menu and see if there is anything I need to prepare for them.

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I will also double check my FlyHelper app for any other tasks that may still need to be completed for the current week and/or month. Those will go on my To-Do list, if they haven’t been completed.

When I go to check on the little ones I will set their outfits out for the next day. (I usually hang a pair of bottoms with a top to make it easier.) Then I try to set out my outfit for the next day as well so I can just grab it really quick in the morning.

Ahhh…. the day is almost done and it is time for some ‘me time’. I will fix me a cup of tea or cocoa and take a few minutes just to relax. When I get ready for bed I remind myself to take out my contacts, I am guilty of forgetting this, and then I wash my face, put on moisturizer, and brush my teeth and hair.

I try to spend a little time reading my bible or devotional. I remind myself to go to bed at a decent hour but for me a decent hour could be 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. I do normally try to go to bed by 10:00 but often times I just can’t sleep.

I hope these routines will help you to set up and maintain your routines. I can promise you that your house will run more smoothly and your stress levels will go down tremendously. Don’t try to just copy mine unless you also have 6 kids at home, a dog, a cat, and 50+ chickens and a few geese…. I’m just kidding. But in reality what works for me may not work for you. My priorities will not be the same as Mrs. Smith’s who lives down the road.

Remember that what looks good on paper isn’t always right. So if you try to set up a routine and it isn’t working then don’t be afraid to revise and revise again until it does work.

If getting up and exercising at 5:30 isn’t your cup of tea then don’t do it. Maybe it is better for you to exercise later in the day or every other day. If you don’t like cocoa then that wouldn’t be the best way for you to relax in the evening.

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Afternoon Routines

 

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Afternoon Routines

Below is an example of my current afternoon routine. Please use this as a guideline to help you set up your own routines that work for you and your family.

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Once the kids are down for naps I will check the laundry, if it hasn’t been done already. I hate to find clothes that have been left in the washer and have soured.

Once the dishwasher finishes running, if I had a full load, I will open the door a bit to let the steam out and the dishes will usually dry rather quickly. I then put away everything that goes in the top cabinets and leave the other dishes for DD9 & DD8  to put away. If something hasn’t dried completely I will set it in the dish drainer. I refill the soap dispenser so it is ready for the next load.

This time is usually when I am busy working on things that I need to focus and concentrate on. I have a reminder to drink my water as I often get caught up in whatever project I am working on and forget.

The kids get up around 2:00 and have a snack. If the weather is nice they will normally go outside to play. If not, I will put them on an educational DVD like Signing Times to watch while they play inside. (DD14 had a lot of trouble communicating at first so we have been learning sign language to help him be able to communicate with others who can not understand him.)

While they are playing I will check the mail or send DD17 out to check it for me. I sort the mail as it comes in and immediately place the bills and items that need my attention in a certain slot on my desk and throw away any junk mail.

When we have a garden, usually raised beds in the summer, I turn on the sprinkler when we go out to check on the critters. We will gather the eggs while out and turn off the water when we come back in. I try to wash and put away the eggs when we come in so the littles aren’t tempted to play with them.

Supper gets started about 4:30 ish unless I already have something in the crock pot. They kids will play until it is almost ready and then start a quick pick up. If they have been outside they will also go do a quick wash up before eating. Then they will come to the kitchen to help pass out silverware and plates of food.

We normally at around 5:00 or 5:30.

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After dinner everyone starts to clean up. They put their dishes in the dishwasher, wipe the table and benches, and sweep the floors. We do the littles’ baths/showers on every other day, unless someone is really dirty, so they will take turns. Everyone else will get dressed in their PJS and then head to the play room to play quietly or read.

Ideally we do like to brush our teeth before bed but sometimes this doesn’t happen. When it gets close to bedtime I will have them start to do a quick pickup and then we will have a story, or right now we are doing our Advent Study, and then they will head to bed at 7:30. The two littlest ones will still try to sneak out of bed or insist that Momma needs someone to keep her safe. We just walk them back to their rooms and eventually they get tired enough they just stay.

Our afternoon routine is pretty simple and it helps us to keep on track and keep everyone happy.

Also see:

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Evening Routines

Morning Routines

Every morning is a chance to start fresh. I can set the tone for the rest of the household by the way I act in the morning. If I am flustered or in a rush then everyone else will sense my stress and they will react to it. If I am calm and collected it may not entirely rub off on them but it will help me to be able to react to them in a more positive way.

Some of my Morning Routine is dependent upon my Evening Routine, such as making sure the coffee pot is set. It also helps a lot to walk into a clean kitchen first thing in the morning. This last one has been a little bit harder to achieve, especially with teenagers in the house, but I take it one day at a time.

My morning routine has changed a lot over the past few years. I have added things as we added kids and I have taken away things as kids, and a husband, have left. We changed again when we began our homeschooling journey and have been changing it bit by bit to fit everyone’s needs. As my priorities have changed so have my routines.

These are not set in stone they are merely a guideline and a checklist that helps me to keep my household running smoothly. This means less stress and helps keep me from feeling so overwhelmed. It also helps because my children know what to expect and they know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

 

Things change, so do our routines. It is much easier to try to be flexible, as you can see I don’t really have certain times to do most things. I just have them listed in the order I normally do them and I just check them off as I go. Below are a few screen shots from my current morning routine:

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I usually try to get up around 5:30 – 6:00. I spend a little time in prayer and reading my devotionals. I need this little bit of quiet time to help me get through the day ahead. When my kids were smaller this may have occurred while breastfeeding a baby in my rocking chair. Just this morning my 3 year old was with me, throwing pillows and giggling at me, and I think kids do benefit from seeing their parents spending time with God and reading their Bibles.

Afterwards I try to get in about 30 minutes of exercise, sometimes I exercise before my devotionals so I can relax with a cup of coffee after my shower. I try to take a shower every morning, I know sometimes this isn’t possible with littles running around but right now I am blessed to be able to do this. I also try to remember to take my vitamins while I am in the bathroom as Mommas need to stay healthy so they take care of the littles.

I have a quick routine that involves me getting dressed so I am ready for anything that might come along. I also do a quick makeup routine (5 minutes or less) and I will fix my hair. My hair is usually pulled back in a pony tail or clip. I do normally straighten my bangs and will run the straightener through my hair every so often when I have time. (Again 5 minutes or less.)

I am trying to get into the habit of setting out the toothbrushes for the kids before I leave the bathroom too.

Before I head to the kitchen at 7:00 I will make my bed because I can’t expect the kids to make theirs if I don’t set a good example. I also pick up after myself and keep my room, my closet, and bathroom straightened and organized. Lead by example and set a good model for them to follow. They will pick up more things by watching you than you realize right now.

I turn on the kitchen light (and I have also started playing some soft music) and this signals the kids that it is time to get up. They are usually awake and playing quietly in their rooms. It did take a little bit of time to get them accustomed to this routine as they just wanted to get up and run through the house making as much noise as possible. This is also when I turn off the door alarm for my special needs son and he heads to the bathroom and then back to his room to get dressed. (Please note that his room is right next to mine and he will knock on the door if he needs to go to the bathroom or anything. The alarm is more to alert us that he is up and about as he does like to wander sometimes. (See He marches to the beat of his own drum.) I also turn the alarms on the doors to ‘chime’ mode so I can be alerted when anyone opens the door.

Before he heads to the bathroom it is important that I do a quick check in the Living Room as he will pass through there to get to the bathroom. If anything is out of place it can create chaos with him and set us up for a bad day.

My coffee pot is usually already going by the time I wake up (I love my automatic coffee maker). This is more of a reminder in case I have forgotten to set it up the night before or if the power has went out during the night.

I will use the time that the kids are getting dressed to unload the dishwasher. I normally place the items that go in the lower cabinets on the island and DD9 will put them away when she comes into the kitchen, DD8 will put away the silverware and cooking utensils. I put away the items that go in the top cabinets as well as the knives or fragile items.

After this I usually do a quick check on the calendar to see if we have any appointments or anything that needs to be done. This keeps me from forgetting or overlooking things. I will also check my FlyLady tasks for the day. When I finish with the calendar I will start our oil diffuser and the kids usually start piling in the kitchen to take care of their chores. (They don’t really see them or consider them as chores, just part of our normal everyday routine.)

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We love our sweet tea and I always try to have some on hand for when people stop by. I usually make it 2 gallons at a time and I check on it in the morning to see if it needs made or not. I will then start on breakfast.

Breakfast is an important meal and I know how crazy mornings can be when you have littles, or getting ready for buses or work, or just didn’t get enough sleep. For me, I like to fix a hot breakfast when I can and we have a ‘Breakfast Schedule‘ of sorts. Mondays are Cereal or Oatmeal, Tuesdays are French Toast, Wednesdays are Muffins, Thursdays are pancakes, and Fridays are Cereal or Oatmeal. On Saturdays and Sundays I have a rotating schedule that includes waffles, Dutch puffs, coffee cakes, scrambled eggs and grits, monkey bread, and a variety of other treats that may be more time consuming and aren’t feasible for me to attempt during the week.

I also check off as each child comes into the kitchen to make sure everyone is dressed for the day. You never know when something might come up and you have to leave unexpectedly. It is much easier to be prepared for the unexpected than to be running around trying to get everyone together for an unplanned outing.

I will also run back to the bedrooms to check and make sure they are  ‘picked up and while I am in the back of the house I will ‘Swish & Swipe’ the bathroom back there. This normally involves m spraying the mirror, counter, sink, and toilet with cleaner and wiping. I will wipe the light switches and door handles too, but make sure you do this before you wipe the toilet. Then I will put a little bit of cleaner in the toilet and ‘swish’ with the toilet brush. A quick straightening up of the towels and such and I’m done (5 minutes or less.). I do keep some disinfecting wipes under the sink so the kids can take care of quick messes through out the day. Everyone appreciates a clean bathroom when you are hugging the porcelain throne during a bout of the flu.

I will also have someone grab a load of laundry to start according to our laundry routine. Each person has a set day to do their laundry, and I wash sheets and whites on Wednesdays. This helps keep the confusion down, prevents the ‘She took my shirt’ drama, and keeps the laundry from becoming a mountain. Of course, when people are sick we do laundry as needed but normally we stick to our schedule.

The little boys are usually responsible for picking up stray shoes at the front and back doors, as most of the time the shoes belong to them. They will carry the shoes to the bedroom of the owner or place them in a basket by the door.

I will check for outgoing mail which is usually left on the top of my desk. Then I will empty the kitchen trash. When I carry it to the bin I will put the mail in the box and sometimes go ahead and feed the critters as well.

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After breakfast the kids will clear their own dishes and place them into the dishwasher. They then head to my bathroom to brush their teeth. I leave the toothbrushes on the counter and they will start the timer. (This is one similar to what we have but ours is no longer available.) When they have all finished they rinse their toothbrushes and place them back in the holder.

They will then come to the kitchen and DD8 will wipe off the table and benches as well as the counters. DD9 will sweep all of the hard floors and the porch steps. They do this automatically as I said before and they don’t really consider it as a chore. Everyone will then go to the playroom for a few minutes before we start school.

I will ‘Swish & Swipe’ my bathroom and put away their toothbrushes to keep anyone from being tempted to play with them when they visit the bathroom. Normally I empty the trash cans too when I ‘Swish & Swipe’.

When I go to the playroom we will work on our ‘Morning Board’. We have a variety of activities which include morning prayers, pledge of alegiance, graphs/charts, calendar activities, art, math, poetry and we have a ‘Morning Basket’ with books that we read from daily. When we complete this everyone does a ‘quick pick up’ and heads to the kitchen.

They will grab their individual work boxes and take them to the table. DD8 will bring me the laptops and DD9 will bring me the headphones. The boys will begin work in their work books that I put together earlier in the year and the girls will get started on Spelling, Reading, and Copy Work. I used the binder earlier this year and put together Spelling books, Copy Work books, Math books, Activity books etc. for them to work from. This frees me up from constantly needing to print out things or give directions as to what needs to be done.

At one point we did have a visual pocket schedule that hung on the wall to direct the kids as to what needed done but it wasn’t very flexible and was really aggravating to use. It worked well for one or two children but when I had five trying to use it then it became a lot of trouble.

While the kids are working I will make my To-Do list, clear a couple of Hot Spots, check my emails and bank account, and also see what is on the menu for dinner. We will also do a ‘Laundry Check’  to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, in case we forget to do it earlier.

I will set up the laptops for their school work and begin the rotation schedules. Two or three kids will work on the computers, with head sets to help keep it quieter, and the other two or three will work at the table. Sometimes the little boys will head to the play room for a bit.

Once everyone is settled into their work I will begin my cleaning tasks for the day. I will try to complete the FlyLady mission first and then work my way down the list.

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Next I will work on my weekly list of chores. It is pretty much the same basic things as listed on the older routine. I will try to go into more detail on Weekly Routines in a later post. I will also attempt to cross a few things off my To-Do list as I go through the day.

By 9:30 everyone usually needs a little break and we will stop for a quick snack. The kids will go play for a minute and do whatever they need to do before getting back to work.

We will continue to work on our school work and as they finish up they will head to the play room to read, draw, or just play. I will usually start on lunch about 10:30ish. Sometimes lunch is leftovers from the night before and sometimes its just a quick sandwich. When it is time to eat everyone will do a ‘quick pick up’ before they eat.

‘Quick pick up’ is just a term that we came up with when the kids were smaller. I may have heard it or read it somewhere but I don’t remember. The kids all know that it means it is time to pick up everything and put it away where it belongs.

We eat and the kids clear the table, clean up, and head to their rooms for nap time or quiet time. If there is laundry in the dryer it will get folded and put away before they go back for quiet time. I will finish up in the kitchen and start the dishwasher as we usually have a full load by this time. Normally DD9 will fill everyone’s water bottles before she heads back to her room. I also remind myself to drink water as sometimes I forget.

Once the kids are settled I will work on my Monthly Routines which will be more detailed in a later post as well. I know it sounds like a lot but most things are broken down into chunks that take me 15 minutes or less to complete, many of them are much less.

When the house is quiet I will sneak to my room for a  little bit of quiet time and I will read my Bible or work on whatever study of devotional I have out at the moment. This is usually the time I will use to run errands, as DD17 is home, and/or work on projects that need my full concentration. I may also use this time to catch up on making appointments, working on my To-Do list, or take a nap myself.

Please be sure to keep checking back and I will continue to work on the other routine links so you can get a better idea as to how we get it all done here. Just remember that you are the one who knows what your family needs and what will work for you and your family. Try something and if it doesn’t work then don’t be afraid to scratch that idea and try something else.

It has taken me over 20 years to get into a good routine that I feel comfortable with. Life happens and things are always changing. This means we have to be flexible and change too. I have found over the past 5 years that I have had to bend and stretch to make changes because I was being pulled in too many directions. I really had some days where I felt like a complete failure. I wasn’t, I just felt that way. I struggled with that and you may too.

My house doesn’t look like yours and yours may not ever look like mine. What my house looks like today may not be what it looks like 5 years from now. Kids grow, relationships change, and our standards will fluctuate.

Their was a time when I felt like my house had to be perfect or I would lose my husband. I was literally afraid that he would come home and not be able to see the vacuum lines in the carpet or that he would find a sucker wrapper I had missed in one of the kid’s bedrooms. That was no way to live.

Please don’t be held prisoner by unrealistic expectations from yourself or anyone else around you!

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Laundry Routines

 

December 1, 2016

Well, today started early, like 1:30 am early. I went to bed last night with a headache and woke up sick. No fun at all. I turned my phone on and had all kinds of messages that I had missed during the night. (I almost never turn my phone off but my headache was really bad.) I did feel better after I took a shower though.

After my shower I did have almost a whole hour of ‘quiet time’. I spent that time going through my prayer journal and thanking God for the answered prayers. I also added a few new ones. I read my devotional and worked on a study that I had out. I also let my Bible fall open and read out of Psalms. It was just what I needed to help calm my soul and renew my strength this morning.

After messaging my best friend I had a long talk with God and had to hand something over to Him, something I should’ve immediately handed over last night, but stubbornly thought I could handle it on my own. (Which is how I ended up with a headache.) I felt such a relief and got the answer I needed once I let go. God is so good!

I am so thankful to have friends who can make me feel better when I’m down and who remind me that I don’t need to stress over things.

The kids were up super early and started tattling right away. My one son was in a grumpy kind of mood which did improve a little but not much. In fact, he is grumpier right now than he was this morning  He is currently voicing his opinion about bedtime through his bedroom door.

Then I remembered it was December 1st which meant that I needed to change out our school calendar. This lead to me realizing that I had forgot to print out the new calendar stuff for December (I admit I forgot last year too). So I grabbed the laminator and the paper cutter. I printed off the pages I needed and got to work laminating them.

My 3 year old loves to watch the laminator. He gets so excited to see what we are making. He was also my little helper and helped me to carry everything over to the playroom and get it all set up. We had a card left over, St. Nicholas day, and I didn’t know what day it was for sure.

So we went to the laptop and asked my dear friend, Google, for the answer. My son was very curious as to who ‘Doogle’ was and where he lived. He wanted to see a picture but forgot about that when I offered to let him put the final card in place. (December 6th in case you were wondering.)

We did manage to get our school work finished by 12. The girls have really been dragging their feet this week. I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday! I tried to get my daily chores finished and pay bills while they were working but that was pretty impossible today.

I did my laundry, as my laundry day is on Thursday, and then I carried my hang-dry items to my room. My oldest daughter was in there working out so I set them on the dresser with the intentions of going back to finish them shortly. The other clothes got dried and I left the ones that needed pressed on the dryer until I could get them. Well, I didn’t remember the wet ones until after lunch and they left a wet mark on my dresser. I just finished pressing the others after dinner. Now though I can say that task is completed for this week. Yay!

I did manage to finish my grocery list this morning, print my sales lists, and clip coupons. I pulled out my big coupon binder and started to get it set up again.One of my goals for 2017 is to be a better steward of what God has blessed me with. I think couponing will help me with this goal. At one time I was doing extremely well but I kinda fell off track with all of the different things I’ve been taking care of this past year.

I set out with $200 and my first stop was to put gas in my truck. Then to make a few more stops. I managed to find a few books to go under the tree and a few for stockings at Dollar Tree. I also picked up a few things to go along with our Advent study which I also confess has not began like I thought it would.  Being sick with the flu last week really did a number on me and I’m still not feeling quite 100%.

At another store I found a great deal on some meat. There was a BOGO sale on ground pork and ground pork patties. Well, I happened to find 4 packs of patties on sale that had been marked down $2 on top of the BOGO making them almost free! Then even better I found some stew beef also marked down $2. I know some people don’t like these sales but I grab them whenever I can unless the meat looks questionable. I have a big freezer and I know that even cheap cuts of meat will become tender in the crock pot or pressure cooker.

After two more stops and saving over $100 in sales and coupons I still had a little cash in my pocket. I stopped by the ‘relaxation station’ aka Island Shack Tanning Salon. I know, tanning isn’t really healthy, but the warm beds really do help my sore muscles a lot. Plus I usually sneak in a little nap in too.

After my quick nap I stopped to put air in my tire as I had found a note on my windshield informing me of a low tire. So sweet of someone to let me know, I really did appreciate that. Then back home to unload my grocery haul.

Upon exiting my vehicle the geese and the cat promptly notified me that I had forgotten to feed them earlier so groceries had to wait. Big sister heard me pull in and came to help. She had unloaded most of them by the time I had finished feeding which was a great help.

The kids all helped me to put away the groceries. They like to help because they can see what goodies and treats I might’ve gotten. They also enjoy trying to guess what Momma is going to make by looking at the groceries that I brought home. After everything was put away I sat down for a moment to try to decide what I needed to do and what was just gonna have to wait until tomorrow.

I still need to dig out our Christmas stuff. Who am I kidding? I still need to put away the Fall decor! (Speaking of which, I did find the cutest little pilgrim salt and pepper shakers today, on clearance!) Christmas is all packed neatly in some large green totes so I know where it is, I just haven’t brought it in.

I did bring in a tote and some boxes with the intentions of packing away the Fall decor but dinner had to be made. Then the clothes were calling me from the top of the dryer. I still haven’t vacuumed the floors either, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Today was visitation and Daddy had already promised to help them with a craft today. They made some paper Christmas trees. I even broke out the art supplies which included sequins and pom-poms. I wasn’t brave enough to bring out the glitter though. They turned out really well even thought some kids really didn’t want to follow along with the video.

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I love it when he does things like that with them. It helps them to strengthen their bond and also creates memories that will last for a long time. He also made his own tree, that they helped to decorate, to take home with him. The boys made him some ‘presents’ to go under his tree too.

Dinner consisted of Sloppy Joes, seasoned fries, and some homemade coleslaw (1 bag of slaw, a bit of mayo, a little sugar, and a splash of white vinegar. I’ll have to work on that recipe as I just kinda dump and taste as I go.) One of the little boys got excited when he saw the buns and the cheese. He had been asking for hamburgers but he thought Sloppy Joes were close enough and he actually asked for seconds.

After baths big sister wanted to try her hand at some No Bake Cookies. (Last night she made Easy Sugar Cookies.) She involved everyone in the process and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They enjoyed measuring, stirring, and of course the taste testing! I’m not so sure that chocolate right before bedtime was a such a good idea though as little man is refusing to go to bed now.

So all in all we had a great day. Lots of memories were made too. That’s what life is about. We have to do the best we can with what we have. Each and everyday is a new day with a fresh start.

I think my kids will remember these days when they get older. They won’t be worrying about whether or not I vacuumed the floor. They also probably won’t be traumatized by not having a Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. (We’ve agreed that we will set it up on St. Nicholas Day and I drew a picture of a Christmas tree on my desk calendar for them to look at.)

They will also look back on the pictures and hopefully remember how much fun they had making crafts with their dad. We may have our differences but I am so thankful that we have been able to work through them and/or put them aside for the sake of our kids. Even though our relationship as husband and wife is over we are still connected through our kids and will always have that bond. It is important for us to continue to work together to be the best parents we can be for our children.

I am off to bed but first I need to walk little man to his bed. Then I have a few things that I need to add to my prayer list. Have a blessed night!

 

 

 

Dancing barefoot in the kitchen

Yep, that’s how I am most days, barefoot, and that’s where I am most of the time, the kitchen. Why? Well that’s how I am most comfortable and that is where most of the activities in our house are centered around. I do keep a pair of flip flops at each door in case I need to run out for something like the mail man or chasing a pig outta the yard. For the most part I am barefooted though.

I’ve heard all the barefoot and pregnant jokes when I was married and pregnant. I’ve read the ‘dangers’ of going barefooted, especially the stuff you can catch from the ground. (I do usually wear shoes outside.) I have broken a few toes because of being barefooted and I’ve stepped on more Legos than you could ever imagine. The fact that there are still Legos in my house is a true testimony to the power of forgiveness!

The kitchen is the heart of our home. I really enjoy cooking so I am always trying out new recipes or letting the kids help me fix a snack or a meal. It is usually filled with good aromas coming from the crock pot or the oven. I always have sweet tea or hot coffee ready for anyone who comes to visit. Most days we can even rustle up a piece of pie or slice of cake too. If you come hungry I’m sure can find something in the fridge that can satisfy your hunger too.

The island is fairly good size for an older mobile home and it is used for everything from schoolwork, bread making, sewing projects, and vacuum repair. It is also the place where a lot of visiting takes place. The younger kids and Grandpa have claimed the playroom and the older kids have pretty much claimed the living room. So Momma has claimed the kitchen. When I have visitors, which isn’t that often, we usually sit or stand around the island to chat.

This island was also the center of activity during wedding preparations for my oldest daughter’s wedding in June. (See Who can you count on? for more about that.) My family and friends all gathered around this island to prepare the food and decorations for the wedding and reception. We shared lots of stories, caught up on news, and had a wonderful time. We made many memories around this old island with its peeling cabinets and chipped counter-top.

Our kitchen is a dine-in kitchen as we converted the formal dining area to a bedroom for my special needs son. We have a big kitchen table with benches. I love this table and I had prayed for a table big enough for all of us to sit around. My then husband and I went to the flea market, the first and only time I’ve been, and on our way out I spotted this table back in a corner. We found the seller and asked about the price and the cost to deliver it. Well, it was way more than what we had on us and over the budget I had set for a table. I was sure that it would be gone before we saved the money so reluctantly we left and came home.

A few weeks later he had went back to the flea market. He came home sooner than I had expected and he was really excited. He asked me to help him carry out the two tables we had in the kitchen. I wondered what he had gotten and soon I found out. A pickup pulled in with the most beautiful kitchen table on the back. (Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) The man had seen him walking around and had asked him if we had found a table yet. Within a few minutes the table was bought for the exact amount that I had saved and set back for our table.The kids were so excited to eat their first meal together. Before this we had two smaller tables for the kids to eat at.

That is a good memory and when I look at this table I am reminded of that day and how happy we were. It also reminds me of how God always provides us with what we need and many things we want. (See Are you needy? for more examples.)

Now the table is used for school work, art projects, meals, dinosaur adventures, monster truck rallies, play-dough sculpting, and so much more. It has the marks of being well-used and sometimes I contemplate having it refinished but I kinda like the character it has.

Our kitchen also has my roll top desk which is where I happen to be sitting, barefooted, at the moment. This is where a lot of my work gets done. I do a lot of planning for meals, school, budgets, outings, and other activities that must happen. I also take care of the bills and other household related things here too.

My kitchen is pretty much open to the playroom where the kids spend a good amount of time. I can cook, work on projects, make a grocery list, or just browse the internet for my next project while keeping an eye on them. I can also hear everything going on in the play yard from the kitchen.

If my kids come in looking for me they will usually come to the kitchen first. They know that is where Momma can normally be found. They also know that is where snacks and other goodies can be found. Unfortunately our cat knows this too and has developed the bad habit of jumping on the counters which we have been trying to discourage with a spray bottle of water.

When my kids have made some discovery outside or have created some interesting architectural structure that I need to come see they will come looking for me. They will bring my flip flops with them because they know Momma probably won’t have her shoes on. They keep me from having an excuse.

Another thing we have been doing is playing music throughout the day. There is just something about music that can calm the soul. It can reach deep inside a person and make their heart happy. It is not uncommon to walk in to the kitchen and find me dancing around while cooking or cleaning. If the kids come in and laugh then I will grab them and ‘force’ them to dance also. Sometimes a whiny kid will be ‘forced’ into dancing, as well. This has become a fun outlet that is an immediate cure for the ‘grouchies’. We all know that grouchies can’t survive for long around music, dancing, or laughter.

I want my kids to have good, consistent memories of their childhood. If seeing Momma dancing barefoot in the kitchen is a memory that is forever etched in their minds then I’m happy. If they break into a smile every time they hear ‘Walking in the Sunshine’ then I’ve succeeded at this mission. (This is also a proven cure for the grouchies that was passed along to me by a dear friend.)

So how long has it been since you’ve danced barefoot in the kitchen? Why don’t you give it a try and see what happens?

It’s Natalie not Octomom

I’m sure most of us remember the story about “Octomom’. The single mother of 6 who underwent IVF and gave birth to octuplets. There was a ton of media coverage and backlash on anyone involved in the controversy. It raised a lot of questions about a lot of different issues that I am not going to get into.

What I do want to point out is that she is in the news again, in a more positive light. She is using her experience for the good and so many of us can learn a lot from her transformation.

She admits that she had turned to stripping, pornography, and adult films to earn income to support her family. She has also admitted to being addicted to Xanax. She was receiving public assistance, which is not a bad thing, but failed to report the earnings she had made. This caused her some legal problems.

Think about the situation she was in. Can you imagine what she was going through? Can you imagine the shame and disgust that must have went through her mind at times? This could’ve have been part of the reasoning for the drug addiction. Can you imagine not having anyone to support you during such a hard time? She had so much negative publicity surrounding her that it was probably hard to find a ‘decent’ job.

As a mom of many I can only imagine how overwhelmed she must’ve felt at sometimes. I have six kiddos underfoot all day, I have had as many as eleven at one when I was fostering. From some of the articles I’ve read she didn’t seem to have a lot of support coming in. She was also going through family issues and dealing with the death of her mother.

She seems to feel that she deserved at least some of the judgement and negative publicity she received but she decided she didn’t want that to haunt her family. She has apparently decided to make some big life changes. I, for one, am encouraged to see this. She also owns up and accepts responsibility for the bad choices she has made and she doesn’t want her past to be a reflection on her children’s futures.

She has left the adult film industry and is now working as a counselor. She is still receiving some public assistance but is trying to better herself. I admire her for going public about her struggles and especially for admitting what she has done and not placing the blame on others.

I also admire and respect the fact that she has not put her children (at least to my knowledge) in the spotlight and has tried to protect them from as much of the negativity as she could. I know that being a single parent is hard and being a single parent to 14 must be extremely hard. When you are constantly surrounded by negativity and drama that does put an almost unbearable weight on your shoulders.

For all those moms (or anyone else) who are feeling down and discouraged please don’t give up! Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we ever look up to see where we are. Just remember to take it one step at a time and keep pushing forward. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It takes a strong person to admit they need help and to ask for it. If someone offers to help then please don’t push them away.

Always remember that GOD loves you! Nothing you have done, are doing, or will do can separate you from His love!

You may also like to read:

Turning I Can’ts into I Cans

God uses cracked pots

We need mentors

Open Doors

 

Additional credit to:

‘It’s haunted us’: Octomom Nadya Suleman changed her name and found a regular job in effort to escape criticism for having 14 kids while on government help 

‘I WAS ADDICTED TO XANAX’

November 28, 2016

Meal….that was the new word of the day!

I was putting the little boys down for a nap when the 3 year old asked if he could have a ‘meeyal’ after nap.

‘Huh?’

‘A meeyal momma.’

‘Milk?’

‘No, a meeyal.’

‘I’ll fix you a snack when you get up from nap.’

‘No, a meeyal.’

‘Yeah, Momma, you know… a meeyal’, chimed in the 4 year old.

I was completely bumfuzzled as to what those two were talking about.

‘OK, we’ll figure it out when you get up and you can show me what you want.’

‘A meeyal is a big buncha food, Momma’, said the 3 year old.

I started laughing and asked, ‘A meal?’

‘Yes, Momma’, and they both squealed with delight as Momma had finally figured it out.

Well, they never cease to amaze me and I have no idea where they heard the word today but at least they were using it correctly!

 

God uses cracked pots

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  -Jeremiah 18:4

I know that often times we get caught up in things we believe we ought to be doing, the way we should look, or where we should be in life. Sometimes we wonder if we are too damaged or flawed to be of use anymore or to be able to do what we need to do. Maybe we have things in our past that we are not proud of, things that have chipped away at our self confidence, esteem and maybe even our reputation. Continue reading God uses cracked pots

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.

‘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.