Category Archives: special needs

Weekend Wrap Up: April 20, 2019

Hey there! It’s been a bit of a crazy week here. Last weekend I had a crazy reaction to some gun cleaner… crazy like I thought I was going to need an ER visit but thankfully a double dose of Zyrtec did the trick. However, after that, I was pretty much useless for a couple of days as I really truly felt like a walking zombie mom. This was truly not something I had expected or planned for so it kind of threw a wrench in my carefully laid out plans.

I had so many things planned that I wanted to get done before Easter and almost none of them have happened. The ones I did manage to get accomplished, like weeding the flower bed and picking up the yard, have been messed up and really don’t look like anything had been done. Instead of getting stressed like I sometimes too I’ve really just tried to go with the flow this week.

After resting Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday morning I did manage to muster up a bit of energy as we had an appointment to go to. We went to visit a place that does a lot of activities for the community. We may be doing some square dancing there next month and we needed to give it a quick look over so we knew what to expect. It was so cool and the kids really enjoyed the huge swing set that they had there.

Then we had our usual Monday dance but I was not able to go to that because my back had been bothering me and I was having some old issues flare up. My feet and hands were just so numb and tingling that it made getting around a bit difficult. I pretty much sat in the recliner most of the day. I was so glad that I had been able to do as meal prep as I did on Saturday morning. For dinner, we had some Red & White Pasta with some diced grilled chicken added into it. The kids loved it even more than the normal version.

Tuesday afternoon I did manage to get dressed and head to a dance where Mr. Awesome was filling in. I was glad that we went because it was so much fun to see all the young dancers. My kiddos also had a lot of fun watching them and it motivated them a bit more to want to take lessons soon. My lack of activity really showed through as I could myself getting winded after a tip. For dinner that night I had made a Shepherd’s Pie in a Skillet which was super easy to throw together with the browned hamburger from the freezer.

I don’t even remember what we did on Wednesday. Hmmm… what did we do on Wednesday? I know we had Tortellini Soup and some Quick Garlic Bread that Mr. Jacob had helped me prep for the freezer last week but I don’t think anyone did a whole lot of anything. That combination was so good together! I might have caught up on some email but I couldn’t sit at the computer for very long so getting any work done was almost a lost cause.

I didn’t even get to the washing until Thursday because I couldn’t lift anything and walking out to the wash shed seemed like an impossibility if I had to carry a load of laundry with me. Although the kids were kind of enjoying the lazy zombie mom, I was ready to get something done around here. I mean Easter was fast approaching and we had a small dinner planned but I hadn’t been able to do much of anything.

I finally decided that something seriously had to get done around here so I just had the girls bring me some laundry baskets and I sorted the clothes in the house and carried the baskets out one at a time with was a lot less strenuous. Once I finished up my laundry the kids did a load and we were back on track. Feeling a bit ambitious, I decided to make a Chicken Cordon Casserole which was more labor intensive than I had remembered (or maybe I’m just getting lazy with all the meal prep) but it was so good!

I also made a phone call that I hadn’t expected to make and cleared the air between a family member. There had been an incident last year that had really hurt me and I had chosen to distance myself and my family from the situation. Now things seem to have calmed down a bit and we are taking things slowly to see how they go. Christmas and Easter a couple of times in the year when most of do seem to have softer hearts and people seem to be able to forgive easier. It wasn’t that I wasn’t able to forgive, I just didn’t want to forget what had happened. All that did was to keep the hurt going.

So Friday we had a visit from this same family member and everyone got caught up on the past few months. The kids really enjoyed the visit and probably overwhelmed then with Minecraft facts but it was a good visit for the most part.

Midway through the visit, we had some terrible storms come through and we were under a tornado watch. We also lost power for a good while. The scariest part came when the winds were howling around our little cabin and all of a sudden there was a loud bang. The back door flew open and the wind was blowing pond water all over the bedroom. Things were swirling around and flying off the walls… it was crazy! I kept pushing the door shut only to have to fly open again. Then while I was dealing with that the front door burst open and the kids rushed to shut it.

The worst part of the storm passed quickly and we were able to keep the doors closed without assistance. My bedroom still has a ton of peacock feathers scattered here and there but things are almost back to normal in the house. There is a ton of stuff to get cleaned up in the yard. The picnic table had been thrown across the yard but seems to be okay. A neighbor had a big tree come down but we only had a bunch of branches. Whew, I know we had someone watching over us and I am so thankful for that.

After all that excitement, I was ready for an easy meal. We had some Sweet and Sour Meatballs, boxed mac n cheese, and some Super Easy Power Cooker Potatoes. Mr. Awesome, however, wasn’t feeling like having meatballs and had brought home a couple of steaks to cook. (Click here for my recipe.)

This morning has been super busy as I’ve been making up for lost time earlier in the week. I have in fact been so productive that I’ve amazed myself. Before 9:00 am I had already picked up my vegetable order from Southwestern Produce Company and my grocery order from Walmart! I was so happy that the frozen veggies are back as our freezer supplies were getting low and as always our Walmart grocery pickup went smoothly. Chad was super helpful and got my order out to me quickly and loaded it up all up like a pro!

I even managed to sneak into the store alone, as Mr. Awesome was keeping an eye on the kiddos, and grab a few things for the Easter basket. Yes, the Easter Basket, only one basket for everyone to share and it’s not going to be chocked full of candies but it does have a lot of fun things like bubbles, slinkies, and even some Hatchimals that they can play with together. I did grab a couple of packages of candy for them to share but I know that other family will be bringing candy so I don’t want to deal with meltdowns after the overdose on sugar-laden treats. Trust me, we’ve been there several times this week and I’m not wanting to go there again anytime soon.

Honestly, my kids don’t really miss the sugary treats and such because this is what we’ve pretty much always done. Their favorite part of Easter is the Empty Tomb Rolls and the story that I tell them along with it. They do like to help make the Chocolate Covered Eggs to give to family and friends too but most of all they remember the time we spend with family and the conversations we have about Jesus which, to me, are the most important things.

This week I’ve seen, once again, that even though things haven’t gone as planned and/or my plans have not happened because of one thing or another, that God has a plan and His plan is always so much more than what I could have ever imagined. I just want you to remember this too because I know how much we can stress sometimes when we really want things to perfectly and they just don’t. Remember that your kids are watching and looking up to you. They are learning so many valuable lessons from you and everyone that they are around.

That’s all I have for now as I have a few more things left to get put away. Plus we have some chocolate eggs to make and I’m praying that my ham thaws out in time for tomorrow’s dinner as I forgot to get it out of the freezer earlier in the week. That’s how life goes though so I won’t let it get me discouraged because I know it’ll all work out in the end.

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Have a blessed weekend!

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Celebrate Earth Month With Green Kid Crafts!

We all know that April 22nd is Earth Day and just in case it has slipped up on you I have some great ideas for celebrating Earth Day in this post HERE. Why celebrate just one day when Green Kids Crafts is having an Earth Month Special?

With the summer vacation coming up on us fast many of us will be going crazy trying to keep the kids out of our hair! Trust me, I know! These kits will help to keep your kids busy and give them a healthy alternative to all of that screen time. Pssst… grandparents… these would make awesome gifts for birthdays, special events, or just because.

CELEBRATE EARTH MONTH WITH GREEN KID CRAFTS!

Get your green on this Earth Month and get 3 FREE STEAM boxes (a $60 value!) on any Green Kid Crafts subscription! Act fast to lock in savings on a longer-term subscription and get Discovery Boxes year-round for less than $15.00 / month. Use offer code PLANET12 at checkout to get $60 off any 12-month subscription. Go here to start shopping! Green Kid Crafts’ award-winning Discovery Boxes pack a lot of fun and learning into affordable and convenient packages. Each box contains up to 6 STEAM science and craft kits, extension activities, and a free STEAM magazine. Junior boxes are designed for ages 2-4 and Discovery boxes are great for ages 5-10+. Offer excludes sibling add-on options. Go here to start shopping!

**This post contains affiliate links to products that we use and love here at our home. We may earn a teeny weeny little commission if a purchase happens to be made through one of our links. Thank you so much for supporting our family, our homeschooling mission, and our blog!

Be The Parent You’ve Always Wanted To Be

Some of you may remember that I’ve mentioned I have a couple of special needs kiddos. These two have been quite challenging and I have faced many parenting issues that have been quite difficult to get through… I mean like heart wrenching issues that made me doubt my abilities to parent them at all.

Well, a lot of those doubts, fears, and worries have vanished and faded away after I started taking the Positive Parenting Solutions Course. Just the first course made me feel more confident in my abilities and gave me some tools to put to use right away. The changes have been amazing and I only wish I had found out about this course sooner.

You’ve tried everything: Time-outs. Reward charts. Counting to three. Punishments. Nothing works.

If you or someone you know has been facing parenting difficulties then you need to check this out, NOW! Don’t wait because you are losing precious time… stop the yelling, stop the threatening, stop feeling defeated and give this a try.

Guaranteed to transform your family… or your money back!

Now They Call Me Teacher

Here is the second part to our adoption story. If you haven’t read the first part check it out HERE.

First published August 9, 2018

Not long after the adoptions we were surprised again by another little miracle. Mr. Jacob came into this world in the spring of 2013. His arrival was a little bit rough as he was quite a bit bigger than his brother (both were 9lbs +) and we spent a little extra time in the hospital. Everyone was ecstatic to have their baby brother join them at home.

Not long after this joyous occasion was when my marriage really began to crumble. The stress of a large family coupled with the extraordinary needs of our special needs children was taking its toll on our little family and soon afterwards my husband walked out on us. He did eventually come back, for a little while, and then left again.

Round and round on that chaotic merry-go-round we went.  Then In the Spring of 2014 , just before Jacob’s 1st birthday, he walked away for the last time. It was a very hard time for all of us but once again we made it through. It took us a little bit to find our new ‘normal’ as I wasn’t really sure what normal was anymore.

Then that fall William moved schools. That was a major catastrophe! He did not adjust and we just didn’t know what to do to help him make the adjustment. The teachers couldn’t handle him so we would go to the doctor. The doctor would prescribe more medications.

The medications would make him sick or have crazy side effects. Then we would go back to the doctor to eventually find something that worked.

The problem was that each medication would only work for a short period of time before it needed to be increased or changed out. The side effects were scary but I trusted the doctors and their knowledge.By Christmas of 2014 I was worn to a frazzle from the impending divorce, the issues William was having at school, and then Caitlyn was experiencing some behavioral issues and was put on medication as well.

Momma was one crazy mess! In fact everyone was a crazy mess. It was at this time I began to experiment with essential oils to help calm and relax everyone. We eventually got everyone squared away and over the Christmas break I had decided to do a ‘medication vacation’. I discussed it with the doctor beforehand and he encouraged me to make an appointment if I needed him for anything. I think he was a bit curious as to what the outcome would be.

Surprisingly enough everyone did very well and the oils seemed to help at least until school started back.The kids started back on their medications after I received several notice from the teachers about their behavior. I had made appointments with the doctor and we both felt that they ‘needed’ the medications to go to school. Read the last part of that sentence again… they ‘needed’ the medications to go to school. Yeah, when that hit me I realized that I wasn’t the one having the issues when they weren’t on medications.

However when they were on medication I had to deal with the mood swings, tantrums, and everything else that they had been holding in all day long! No wonder they were so grumpy with me after school. In January of 2015 I made the decision to pull William out of public school with his doctor’s support. (There were several reasons that the decision was made as he also had dietary restrictions that weren’t being adhered to at school as well as the reactions to the medications.)

The change in him was instant. He was back to being his fun loving little self again and that made my heart happy.Now trying to teach him was another matter but after doing a TON of research we finally figured it out. We found so many resources that have helped us along the way and we are so thankful for each and every one of them. There was some trial and error though but with every failure we were learning what did and didn’t work.

By Spring he was off all of his prescription medications and doing wonderfully! This change encouraged me to make the leap and pull the girls out of school before the school year ended. I still didn’t really feel like I knew what I was doing at all but I kept trying. Half the battle is won by just showing up and every morning I showed up ready to try again.

Part of the problem we weren’t having the results that I expected was because I didn’t know that homeschool looks different for every family and every home. I was trying to recreate ‘school’ at home and that didn’t work for us. It was at this time I really started getting involved with some of the groups on Facebook and taking advice from more seasoned homeschool Mommas. Boy did we see a change in our attitudes around the house.
Everyone was having fun! The biggest problem I had was affording the materials that we wanted to use. Luckily I stumbled across the Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool. It was just what we needed. The lessons were simple and already planned out. You really didn’t need to do much of anything except print out a few things here and there.
That fall big sister also decided she wanted to homeschool much to my surprise. She was able to help out with the younger kids as well. This allowed me more time to research other things that I hoped to incorporate into our learning experience. Again I kept running into the MONEY issue. That’s when I remembered the Florida Gardiner Scholarship I had applied to earlier in the year. It has been such a lifesaver for helping to purchase materials and supplies to help William have an exceptional educational experience right here at home where he is most comfortable.
With new materials and a new zeal for teaching we started on our homeschool journey which is going on its fifth year here and has seen one graduate already. Over the past few years I have grown in leaps and bounds in my knowledge of homeschooling. We have also learned to homeschool through the good days as well as the bad. Every day is a learning experience and we can make the most of every minute that we have,
We have also had several life changes over the past year which have resulted in the addition of 3 new family members, Mr. Awesome and his two sons, and a move where we did a drastic downsize. In the midst of all the chaos, which can often times spell DISASTER in our home, we try to keep calm and carry on. We do this with some simple, and not so simple, routines that I started way back when my nine was only four.
We have also found a lot of resources, tips, life hacks, and gadgets to help us get through those tough times and keep school entertaining. Some of these tools are so much fun the kids don’t have a clue that they are actually learning and they would probably still love them just as much if you told them Momma’s trick.
I encourage a lot of ‘free learning’ so we are always looking for new resources. I am excited to share these with you and your family so you too can provide your children with the most personalized and exceptional education to fit their needs.
I look forward to sharing a lot more with you all in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Maybe, just maybe, we can help someone else’s walk down this path a little easier.

 

Celebrate With A Birth Date

We all have one and so do our kids, parents, friends, and other family members. Around here we have more than others or at least we celebrate more than others. However this is one topic I’ve failed to post a lot about… birthdays.

I recently read about the ‘new minimalist’ birthday trend called ‘Fivers’. I laughed a little as the article explained the trend and how it worked. Basically, according to the article I read, you have a birthday party and ask the guests not to buy a gift but they may give a card with $5.oo, if they like. This money can then be pooled for a larger gift of the child’s choosing, used for an ‘experience’, or saved for a later date.

Sounds great and I’m so happy to see so many people jumping on board with this idea. I just thought I’d share how we do birthdays here which is how we’ve done birthdays for awhile now. Now don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with the way anybody celebrates birthdays but we do things a bit different than most.

When my older kids were younger we did do the traditional parties… cake, ice cream, and gifts. Sometimes I would have two parties instead of four as they had birthdays close together and sometimes we would just do one big party.

Most of our parties were just for family and a few very close friends and they were never very big. The biggest one we probably ever had was in NC. We held an ice cream party for all four of my older kids. That was so much fun! We had everyone help to make homemade ice cream and then we had a variety of toppings. There was plenty of other food too but everyone always remembered the ice cream and how good it was.

There have been many times were I would plan a semi-elaborate themed party like the Sock Hop party we did several years back. It was so much fun and the kids really enjoyed it.

Nowadays we keep things simple. One reason is because William (and Caitlyn at times) has a very difficult time with birthdays. We have tried a variety of ways to help him but he always seems to have a MAJOR meltdown when someone else celebrates a birthday or receives a gift. It has been a crazy ride these past nine years… wow, I really can’t believe it has been that long since they first came into my life!

After discussing this with his doctors and trying SEVERAL approaches (we had plenty of opportunities to experiment with ideas) we decided the best thing was just to quit having parties… which wouldn’t have really been fair to everyone else so we came up with a compromise. Now we have a simpler ‘Birthday Routine’.

When a child has a birthday we always have it marked on the calendar so there is plenty of time to prepare for it which is important for William. He likes to know what to expect and when to expect it. He DOES NOT like change and a birthday means that someone else will be getting a little extra attention that day (ex: calls from relatives, cards, etc.) and that is a CHANGE for him.

On the day of their birthday I usually try to let the birthday child pick out a special dinner and we will have some cakes, cupcakes, or other special dessert. We sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and blow out candles too. We don’t normally have anyone other than just our family but on occasion some of their older siblings may show up but normally William is OK with this as he knows what to expect on a birthday now.

Check out this post HERE for some of the fun cake ideas that we’ve come up with.

Each child will get $5.00 from me and $5.00 from Mr. Awesome. We also try to take each child out to eat for their birthday. We will go to whatever restaurant they choose which is usually somewhere like Dairy Queen or Steak N Shake. They really like to get a special treat like a milkshake or a hot fudge sundae too. After we eat we will go somewhere so that they can pick out a gift with their birthday money.

Our ‘Birth Date’ may not be on their actual birthday but we try to aim for the  same week whenever possible.

This gives each child some special one on one time with me and gives them a chance to do things that they might not get to do when we are together as a group. They really look forward to our ‘Birth Date’ and they are planning out where they want to go months in advance. As they are getting older they also try to save up their money so they have more to spend when we go out.

Sometimes their older sisters or brothers will ask them what they want and they will get them something small that they have requested. They also get a small gift from grandparents and occasionally their dad brings them a small amount of money.

For the past few years this has been our ‘normal’ for birthdays and it has worked rather well. It might change in the future as the ‘social side’ of me has been dying to have a HUGE party… maybe I’ll just put that energy towards our first Polar Express Party in the cabin later this year?

This approach to birthdays may not work for every family but it does work for us. It is also a great way to help manage clutter around the house. We don’t get a lot of toys so the ones they do get are usually ones they have chosen and they enjoy them a lot more. We also don’t have any more birthday MELTDOWNS!

At one point when we first brought the middle three kiddos to our home we tried to make everything extra special. Maybe we were trying to ‘make up’ for things they never had or things they had never experienced. In the long run we have learned that, even without the traditional parties, we have given them so much more.

Now they know what to expect, when to expect it, and they are prepared for it. They also know that they are loved and that they are each special in their own way. With the routines that we have created and continue to improve we are helping them have the sense of security and safety that they never had before.

It’s all about creating memories that they will look back on and cherish. Even though we don’t celebrate in the ‘traditional way’ we do make sure each one of them feels loved and gets a little extra special attention on their special day.

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

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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!

A Look Back On 2018

So I’ve been posting quite a bit about my goals for 2019 but let’s not forget about all the good times we had in 2018. Sure, there were some sad times and some hard times but remembering the good times can help ease the pain of the not so good. Here’s a quick peek back on some of our pictures, posts, and activities from 2018:

Continue reading A Look Back On 2018

A Plan Of Action For A New You In The New Year

So a few days ago I posted about my goals for 2019. I’m not waiting until the New Year to get started because there is no time like NOW to get started on these goals. You don’t have to wait either and you can follow along with me on my journey to finding a simpler, happier, and better functioning lifestyle here in our little cabin.

It’s so easy to get discouraged with LIFE at times, I know because I’ve felt myself falling into a HUGE pit of discouragement lately. It feels like I just keep hitting walls in so many areas of LIFE and I just don’t know how to get past them. The one thing I do know is the GOD is in control and if there is something in my way HE can help me overcome it.

I also know that a lot of times our failures come from inside of ourselves. We get unhappy with things and want to change them but sometimes the change must come from us first. This can be hard to do and sometimes it can be hard to admit that we aren’t PERFECT.

Over the holidays so many people are posting pictures of their families. Many of these pictures seem to show PERFECT homes and families but behind the scenes can be a different story. In reality LIFE is MESSY in so many ways. I can tell you that my LIFE is MESSY for sure with so many kids and special needs not to mention that we HOMESCHOOL and LIVE in a TINY CABIN. Boy can it get MESSY. Don’t let those pictures get you feeling depressed or down. You can follow along with me, a normal (well, somewhat normal depending on you definition of normal) Momma, as I tackle some of this crazy mess we call LIFE.

Continue reading A Plan Of Action For A New You In The New Year

7 Easy Steps To Simplify Your Life Today

**This post may contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

I had originally written this series of posts in honor of National Simplify Your Life Week, which falls during the first week of August, I decided to make a short list of 7 easy steps that almost anyone can use to simplify their life starting today. With the New Year fast approaching I thought it might be helpful to post this again for anyone looking to simplify their life and have more FREE time.

Now I’m not talking about anything drastic like selling everything you own and moving into a small secluded cabin with no electric. This actually sounds like a really good idea to me right now but my kids wouldn’t really like that. The tips below will not only help you to simplify your life but they will help you to be more efficient.

Click on each link for more information and helpful tips.

  1. Take Care of Yourself
  2. Reduce Your Screen Time
  3. Learn to say NO without feeling guilty
  4. Declutter your closet (and your house)
  5. Get Organized
  6. Set Up Routines
  7. Pay Off Those Debts and Bills

I wish you the best of luck with getting your life simplified! Let me know, in the comments below, of any tips that you have used to simplify your life.

Click here to get started on Step 1.

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Happy St. Nicholas Day 2018!

**This post may contain affiliate links to products we use.

Well the countdown to Christmas has officially started here. The kids are super excited after St. Nick stopped by sometime late last night. They had left their stockings on the table before bed and woke up to a big surprise!

They had been talking about our previous St. Nicholas Day celebrations and how they forgot to put their stockings out last year… Oops!

Don’t worry… that heater was not on ‘HEAT’ as we only have the flames going this morning  but it has been doing great job at keeping us warm and cozy so far.

St. Nick did not disappoint with a variety of small toys, coloring books, and other holiday items plus a tiny bit of candy. He also left a couple of new books and a holiday music cd for them. They are looking forward to a midday snack of gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa too!

He didn’t forget about the grownups either and even left a small gift for Nanny J and Papa O. He left Momma some much needed kitchen items, some holiday jewelry, and CHOCOLATE!

Santa had even decorated a little bit and put these cute covers on the chairs.

And he must’ve met up with the UPS man at some point to grab our new Advent wreath for us. It had been stuck in delivery status as the driver couldn’t locate our house.

It is so much prettier than it looked on the internet! I had a hard time deciding what color to get but thought this was a good choice even though it isn’t the traditional Christmas colors. Now we are just waiting for the candles to arrive. After all this excitement it was time for breakfast:

This year I added the chocolate chips to the pancakes while on the griddle for our Santa Claus PancakesI forgot to pick up some fresh strawberries and blueberries so we made do with what we had here. I also didn’t realize that Mr. Jacob had added a couple of extra chocolate chips to Santa’s beard… lol!

The kids thought they were cute and very yummy. Later on we will be watching a few videos about St. Nick and taking a little about the history of Santa Claus.

If you want to check out some other activities please see St. Nicholas Day 2016 for some additional links.

Happy St. Nicholas Day everyone!

Our Favorite DIY Christmas Decorations For Kids in 2018

Have you been crazy busy this first week of December? How many of you have finished your shopping? How many haven’t bought the first gift yet? Well, I have been busy and my shopping is somewhere in between the two but I have a few ideas here that the kids can help with and they could double as really great gifts for grandparents and family members too!

Some of these links are affiliate links but there is no extra fee if you purchase through these links… it just means we may get a teeny weeny kickback which helps support our blog and our family.

I also have a TON of ideas saved on my Pinterest… my newest board is Christmas Crafts 2018. Here’s a screenshot of just some of the ideas I’ve found:

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I think we are going to get really busy with crafts so be sure to keep an eye out for lots of pics! If you aren’t feeling crafty or just don’t have time to shop for craft supplies then check out the following links for Amazon deals that can be shipped right to your home and most of them include everything you need to start crafting and keep the kids busy while you finish your shopping!

The neatest Christmas crafting idea I found is this Tree Mendous Ornament Decorating Kit:

I’ve got this (and an extra for a gift) in my Amazon cart right now plus a set of extra ornaments to go with it. Continue reading Our Favorite DIY Christmas Decorations For Kids in 2018