Tag Archives: focus

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.

Start your  FREE account with the  Wealthy Affiliate program.

 

 

 

 

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Life in 2016

Reflections of 2016

December 30, 2016

December 27, 2016

December 21,2016

December 6, 2016

December 5, 2016

December 3, 2016

December 1, 2016

November 28, 2016

November 27, 2016

November 26, 2016

November 20, 2016

November 18, 2016

November 8, 2016

Reflections of 2016

Can you believe that this year is almost gone? I can’t but I am ready to start 2017 with a fresh, positive, and energized outlook. I know in my heart that this new year will be better than last year. I also know that God has some truly amazing things in store for me and my family. I can’t wait to see what He has planned for us in the upcoming months!

We have been through alot this past year. The year started off really rocky. There had been some nasty rumors and gossip that caused us to leave our church and lose contact with some people. It was also filled with some nasty messages, hateful comments, and posts from people who chose to believe the rumors.

I’ve learned to forgive even if you don’t feel that they deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness lets you move on and heal from the pain.

My oldest daughter finished up boot camp and then DD17 and DS21 took a road trip to Missouri to bring her back home. Then we had a lot planning to do for DD19’s wedding. It was really hard to stay strong for my kids and my family but I refused to let the chaos and nastiness get me down.

I filed for divorce after being separated for nearly 2 years. It was a painful and difficult decision that I prayed a lot over. It was not the outcome I wanted but it was what needed to be done at the time to protect my family and myself from his behaviors and actions. We have come a long way since then and are working to be the best parents we can be to our children.

I am learning to be content in whatever situation I am in and wherever I may be. I will change the things I can change, focus my attention on God, and let Him handle the things I have no control over.

Our family got larger with the additions of a niece and a nephew, both of which I absolutely adore. There was a camping trip where I got to go salt water fishing for the first time and I loved every minute of it. This was a welcome relief prior to the stresses of the wedding where we had last minute changes that threatened to ruin the whole thing. I am pleased to say that it was a success and it is now a beautiful memory for us to cherish.

During those stressful times I found out who my true friends were and became closer to my best friend. She really came through for me when I needed her. I had another friend who also came through and was a lifesaver, quite literally, and he was the calm in my storm on a few occasions.

There was a brief romance where my already tender heart was shredded and ripped apart. This was harder on me than my divorce as it came at me unexpectedly and then it was over without any warning or explanation. I lost someone who I considered to be one of my best friends with the end of that relationship. I know that my questions will continue to go unanswered and I know that there would never be anyway to get back what it was that we had. It still brings tears to my eyes but I do treasure the moments we had.

I am learning that it is much easier not to question God when something happens but rather to embrace it and trust that He knows best. 

Then I attempted online dating which I quickly learned wasn’t for me. I did meet a couple of really nice people and I went on a couple of dates but we didn’t really click. I quickly found that dating by text is not for me either. I need to be able to see the person and hear their voice. I want to know that they are not a figment of my imagination. I did make a friend through the dating site and we still text on a semi-regular basis.

We had another camping trip where I took the five kids and myself. It was an adventure that we all enjoyed and thankfully survived. There was moment that I wasn’t sure if I would make it as I had fallen in the river. Luckily I had a life vest on and I was able to stay calm until someone was able to reach me. The crazy thing was that he was able to walk out to me but I was just a little bit too short to reach the bottom.I think I swallowed my yearly quota of river water that day.

I’ve had many more episodes of the gossip mill. There were days and weeks that I felt I should just write a soap opera about my life. I finally realized that the problem wasn’t really with me but with the ones who were starting and spreading the rumors. This was a big turning point for me and the way I handled the stress and drama from those situations. I also had some painful revelations about family and friends.

Then there was the flu bug that hit us around Thanksgiving. I was upset that we were not able to visit with family but fortunately God did give me the strength and supplies to make our own impromptu dinner. I wasn’t able to eat but I made up for that at Christmas dinner with my daughter and son-in-law. That was definitely a dinner to remember as the police showed up twice!

I have learned to be ready to receive a blessing at any moment and any time.

These are just some of the ups and downs of my past year. There have been a lot of firsts like the salt water fishing, a low country boil (I actually had twice this year), and online dating. I can say that I have lived, loved, been loved, and have been truly blessed. Life has taught me a lot about myself, relationships, and God’s will for my life. There have been many surprises, good and bad, but all in all it was a wonderful year.

I hope you can also look back on the past year and see what has happened. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve experienced and then think about what you want to experience in the 2017. I pray that each and every one of you will be blessed abundantly in the upcoming year. I pray that God will touch your lives and supply your needs, whatever they may be.

 

 

 

December 6, 2016

What you did see…

Today was St. Nicholas Day and it was the first time we have celebrated this at our home. My kids were so excited as I had let them put their stockings out last night. They have also been anxiously waiting to put up the Christmas tree which was something I had promised we would do today. I posted some pictures of our St. Nicholas day so everyone could see how much fun we had. We did have fun and we made some memories that are sure to last.

What you didn’t see though was the chaos behind the scene.

You didn’t see me trying to stay calm while dealing with several issues  like a bad case of vertigo for the second or third day in a row.

You didn’t see how I spent several minutes trying to calm down a temperamental child who was upset because I had not come into the kitchen by 7:00.

You didn’t see how I dripped cool whip all over the floor while making the special Santa Pancakes for breakfast.

You didn’t see the drain that overflowed all over the carpeted bathroom floor.

You didn’t see when I spilled tea all over the freshly mopped floor and all over the fridge I had just wiped out.

You didn’t see when I dropped my lunch in the floor as well.

You didn’t see when my second attempt at lunch was a chocolate Santa.

You didn’t see when the chicken scraps got dumped before I even reached the chicken pen because the handle came off the pail I was carrying.

You didn’t see how close I came to just calling it a day, giving up, and going back to bed.

You didn’t see how DD17 and I worked hard to set up the train set under the tree only to find that the train was missing. (The kids didn’t mind as toy trucks work well on train tracks too.)

You didn’t see how frustrated and aggravated I got because of the slow internet when I had an important matter to take care of.

You didn’t see how I confided in one of my friends about how frustrated and aggravated I was feeling.

You didn’t see how I had to rush to finish dinner because I had an emergency errand to run.

You didn’t see me rush to the hardware store for some plumbing supplies 5 minutes before they closed only to find that they didn’t have what I needed.

You didn’t see me have to drive 30 minutes in the opposite direction to the next nearest hardware store.

You didn’t see how my dinner consisted of a leftover cookie and a Coca-Cola. (I hadn’t had a soda in over a month.)

You didn’t see how long it took to clean up the mess from the backed up drain, the piles of dirty towels I had from cleaning up the mess, or the overflowing sink of dirty dishes because we couldn’t wash anything until the drain was fixed.

What’s important is that my kids didn’t see me frustrated, aggravated, or upset either. They didn’t see me lose my temper over things that happened.

They did see me keep promises even though unexpected disruptions kept occurring. They did see me staying calm and taking care of said disruptions as they came along.

I am human, I make mistakes, I get upset, and things happen that I have no control over. I can’t always control what happens to me but I can control how I react to them. I am not perfect and I don’t ever want anyone to think that I am or that I try to portray my life as being perfect.

When you look at the pictures on social media and you think about how perfect things look just remind yourself that you aren’t seeing the whole picture. You are just seeing one small moment of time. Don’t compare yourself, your family, your house or anything else with what you think you see in someone else’s picture.

Enjoy each moment and make the best of every situation good or bad. Life is so much easier if you do.

Routines

I know, we’ve all heard about how important routines and schedules are. Some of us may have every minute of every hour planned out on a ‘perfect’ schedule while others would rather just have a  ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of routine. I’ve always been kind of in the middle while I can say that at different times of my life I have leaned more towards one side than the other.

How do we find a balance? Well, the answer is not the same for everyone, every family, or every situation. For instance, there are some children who thrive on strict routines and schedules and they don’t like change, I have one of those children. Then there are some families who are extremely busy with things, maybe a home business, and there is no way that they could guarantee that they would be home by 5:00 every day to eat dinner. Then we have work routines where sometimes there are deadlines and things that must be completed in a certain time frame.

I went through a period of time when I was really sick. I went from being a vibrant young wife and mother (who also held down a 40 hours + job) to almost being bedridden. I had a couple of different surgeries, followed by infections  and long recuperation periods. These illnesses triggered an autoimmune response in my body and I have been plagued by chronic pain ever since. I had been diagnosed with scoliosis, DDD, herniated discs, IBS, GRD, hiatal hernia, migraines, and fibromyalgia among a long list of things.

My doctors prescribed a cocktail of medications to help with the problems but those medications caused lots of side effects. I was extremely fatigued, developed seizures, and was constantly having various rashes and other conditions that couldn’t be explained.

During this time my housework really suffered. My house wasn’t a total mess but it did get pretty bad. The more I tried the worse it looked. This caused major problems between my spouse and I. I was trying to keep up with the inside of the house, the outside of house, the garden, the animals, and the kids. I was OVERWHELMED!

Then I found an index card system for housework. They also have a book called Sidetracked Home Executives which I never bought but maybe should have. I immediately jumped in and began to use the system. I tweaked it here and there to make it work for our family. I then developed a similar system for work and it made an amazing difference in my productivity levels.

Unfortunately my spouse wasn’t as thrilled with my new found method. I could never keep our home as ‘show place perfect’ as he felt I should. The marriage fell apart and I moved with my four kids to our current home. This is where I found FlyLady, who has been a life saver to so many people. (You may want to check out the site for yourself.) A lot of the routines I will list below follow along with her basic plans. I again tweaked them to work for our family.

My house is not ‘show place perfect’ nor will it ever be. My house is lived in and it shows. I do get a lot of compliments like, ‘I would never know that you had so many kids here.’.  I’m not quite sure what they expect my house to live in but I am pleased to surprise them.

The outside of my house is a bit of a mess and I am working on that. Many people have stopped as they thought I am running a daycare. I guess I kind of am in a way. Some of the mess is beyond my control as it doesn’t belong to me.

I really believe that everyone should be proud of what the Lord has blessed you with. Be content where He has put you and make the best of it. I pray that you will find some helpful tips and suggestions as you read through the links. (If a link isn’t working I probably haven’t been able to work that on it yet, but keep checking and I will get them up.) Please remember to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines. If something isn’t working then change it and make it work for you. Don’t get discouraged!

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Kids’ Morning Routine 

Daily School Routine

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Weekly Routines

Monthly Routines

Yearly Routines

Laundry Routines

Yearly kids chores by age

Age appropriate chore charts

FlyLadyPlusFlyLadyPlus for iPhone

FlyHelper | Personal Organizer for Android

He marches to the beat of his own drum

As many of you probably know I have a special needs son. He has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD among several other diagnoses. He just turned 14 and he is almost as big as I am. Mentally though he is only about the level of a 3 or 4 year old. As frustrating as things can be for me I know that it must be extremely frustrating for him as well.

When he first came to live with us in 2010 I wasn’t prepared, I thought I was, but I wasn’t. I didn’t get any kind of instructions, no special training at all. What I did have was a lot of love and determination to do whatever was right for him.

It was a very hectic and chaotic time those first few weeks. He wouldn’t sleep without medication, which we did not have for the first week or so. He would just run around the house creating mass destruction. Not to mention the fact that his little sister had also been placed with us and she had been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed. She wasn’t even two at the time.

He was not potty trained and he would not tell you when he had soiled or wet his pull up. It took us over a year to fully potty train, we still had and still have times when he refuses, but when he reached the goal of being able to wear ‘real’ underwear the change in him was remarkable. He had gained self confidence and a sense of independence that he had never known before. Even his teachers commented on his new attitude.

He was mostly non verbal at the time also. I bought the Your Baby Can Read Dvds and began to play them everyday. Amazingly his speech began to improve and he began talking more and more everyday. And he hasn’t stopped! He can communicate pretty well now unless you want him to explain why on earth he was playing in the toilet or with cat poop in the play yard.

The placement was only temporary at first.  We had good days and we had bad days. The good days were few and far between. The bad days were often really bad and exhausting. I was thankful for every little tip his teachers and doctors were able to give me.

Eventually we started to develop a rhythm. Then he would do something totally unexpected. We knew that he did not sleep well and he had a history of getting up and sneaking out at night. Fortunately he has never tried to sneak out of the house but he has gotten up at night. (We actually installed a cheap alarm on his door that we turn on at night to alert us if he sneaks out of his room.)

There was one night his older sister found him in the kitchen making a ham and cheese sandwich, but he had put horseradish on it instead of mayonnaise. Then another night right before Thanksgiving he had gotten up and decorated all of the pies with blue icing.

When he got accustomed to our routines and when he began to feel safe we started to see improvements. They were slow, very slow, but every bit of progress was so exciting. Then we would have relapses and he would go back to his old ways and behaviors. It was so frustrating. I would often just sit and cry and pray to God for help and guidance. He would touch me and renew my strength and patience each and every night so I could wake up refreshed and ready to face the next set of obstacles.

I read up on every article I could. I talked to the doctors and specialists. I carried a huge notebook around with me everywhere so I could write down everything they told me. I checked out books at the library and took notes. Then I would try out a few ideas and suggestions at a time. If it worked that was great, If it didn’t I just crossed it off and tried again with something new.

I might add a little note here that what works today may not work tomorrow with him. Each day is a new day and he has a toatlly different outlook, personality, and attitude from day to day. So I just kinda have to judge him when he gets up in the morning to see if he needs a hug or if he just needs me to stay away.

I found ways to encourage and motivate him. When everyone said he couldn’t be potty trained I knew he could. I wasn’t trying to prove a point that I was right and they were wrong but rather prove to them that he was capable of more than what they believed he was. They told me I just needed to accept the fact that he would always be in pull ups.

He also hated and still hates loud noises. With that being said he is one of the loudest kids I’ve ever been around. He hums, he sings, he yells, he makes all kinds of noises at all times of the day with no apparent rhyme or reason. Let me get up and turn on my exercise video in another room and he is yelling at me to be quiet.

Normally he stomps through the house making as much noise as possible everywhere he goes. He sounds like a raging elephant unless he is trying to be sneaky. Then he can tiptoe and sneak up on almost anyone.

During that first year we also had another sister placed with us. She had her own set of challenges with being almost blind in one eye from a dog attack, ADHD, and ODD. I know that bringing her into the home helped him feel more secure as he was constantly asking about her but she also required a lot of attention. He did have some major relapses but we eventually worked through them.

His behavior is good most days now.I can remember the first doctor’s appointment I took him too. He was literally climbing the walls. I’m serious, I went straight to Wal-mart and bought one of those monkey backpack leashes for him. Yes, I got a lot of criticism for putting my child on a leash but I’d rather have him safe then be explaining to the paramedics how he ran away in the parking lot.

I can remember several meltdowns in public places when I thought for sure someone would be calling the authorities on me. I remember all of the ‘If that was my child…’ or ‘My kid would never act like that…’ from strangers who didn’t know the situation. I just smiled and sat in the floor with him wrapped in my arms until he calmed down. Then we would finish what we could finish and go home.

This child also loves food. He will wolf down two plates of food before I can finish half of my plate. We have had to work with him to help him slow down his eating so he can digest his food better and to keep him from choking at every meal. There has only been two things I’ve found that he wouldn’t eat, one was the horseradish I mentioned earlier, and the second was a ‘Monkey Milkshake’ his older sister made for him.

I also researched food allergies and sensitivities. I learned a lot by keeping track of his behaviors and checking them with our menus. After a few months I was able to take my notes to the doctor and show them what we had found. The doctor then wrote a note to the school and we had his diet modified. What a difference that made in his behavior!

He was in public school until he transitioned to middle school. He did not like the change and he rebelled in many ways. His new teachers did not know him and his little quirks and no matter how many times I tried to explain things to them or how many notes I wrote they just didn’t ‘get’ him. (Please note that I am not condemning public school and I know the teachers have a lot put on them. It just didn’t work for our family.)

The other problem they had is that he is just so sweet and convincing at times. He was on a modified diet but he would convince the teacher and aides to give him snacks and extras that he was not allowed to have. This resulted in serious issues and he began to get sick every time he went to school. I was picking him up, taking him to the doctor, doctor writing notes, keeping him home until the issues cleared up, sending him back to school, he would get sick again, I would pick him up again and back to the doctor…. it became a vicious cycle and something had to stop..

The last time I took him to the doctor he had lost a significant amount of weight from the diet issues. I had already spoken with her about homeschooling and she agreed that it would probably be the best route for him at that time. So that was his last week at public school. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs trying to get our routine set and getting him to understand that Momma doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer.

His fine motor skills are not great but we work on that almost every day. When we first started he would absolutely refuse to write anything. He would simply say ‘I can’t’. If that didn’t work he had a pocketful of excuses that worked on the teachers at school.

‘I’m hungry’

‘My stomach hurts’

‘I’m sleepy’

‘I need to go potty’

This last one was a favorite at school. They would send him unsupervised and his older sisters found him several times wandering about the school campus alone. Sometimes the custodians would find him and ride him around the campus on their buggies. There was a time I went to pick him up for an appointment and they couldn’t find him anywhere. I tried my best not to panic but I was scared to death.

Oh, I almost forgot, maybe the favorite excuse was actually pretending he couldn’t hear anyone. I felt it was selective as he could always hear a bag of chips opening two rooms away with the door closed but the teacher insisted he couldn’t hear her. It got so bad that I took him to the doctor and had his hearing checked. I even asked for a referral to a specialist to double check. Not a thing wrong with his hearing. He just had everyone fooled.

He quickly learned that he had to at least try to do what I had asked him to do. Often I would offer a game or puzzle as a reward once he finished a certain amount of work. This was just the encouragement he needed and now most days we can get our work done by alternating ‘work’ with educational videos, games, or puzzles.

He is now reading at about a first grade level. He gets so excited when he reads a whole sentence by himself. This makes me happy because I know there are certain things that he needs to be able to do to be semi-independent. He will soon be an adult and I am not sure what the future will hold for him but I want him to be as prepared as he can be.

We focus on some reading and some basic math. We also do a lot of Life Skills. He can put his clothes in the washer and dryer. He can also fold them and put them away. He does help to prepare simple meals. He is learning to load the dishwasher but I have to supervise or else he will be licking the plates clean. He makes his bed and is responsible for keeping his room straight too.

He can now shower by himself which was a major achievement and he can do most of his basic hygiene routine without prompting. This has helped him to feel more independent. Also it helps me and everyone else as we don’t have to stand and supervise him and we can give him a little privacy. Bath time was at one time a screaming session because the water was too hot, too cold, too wet, etc. It always sounded like a scene out of a horror movie when I needed to wash his hair.

There are things we have had to learn along the way. Every morning I clean the bathrooms and do a quick check through the house. Every person has their own bathroom basket of toiletry items that they can take to the bathroom when they shower. If anyone leaves anything then he will be the one to find it and most likely destroy it. He has also been known to shave his eyebrows.

I learned early on that if there was something out of place then he would find it and it would call his name. I left a cabinet door open on my desk one time and he passed by it as he went to the bathroom. In less than two minutes he had completely taken apart my fax/copier/printer and destroyed it.

He is also obsessive about certain things at times. The toilet paper must be on the roll a certain way or else he just loses it. He will destroy the bathroom in a matter or minutes if someone has turned the roll around.

If we are moving furniture around or rearranging rooms we have to do it when he is outside or asleep. He gets upset to see the room(s) messed up or not in their normal state.

When he is playing he will line up toys, books, or whatever he is playing with in a certain order or sequence that only makes sense to him. If you ask him to clean it up then he has to do it his way and in his own time. He also does this with his socks and shoes… there have been many times when I go in his room to find an odd arrangement of clothing in the floor or on the bed.

Since he has come to be a part of our family I have definitely done many things that I never thought I would do or say. I won’t list them all but they have included things like ‘Don’t lick the wall, the window, the door, etc.’.

Heaven help us all if this child ever had to have stitches because he thinks he is dying when he gets a scratch that bleeds the tiniest bit. If he steps on a sand spur be ready to call 911. When he was in public school he had a small red spot from his flu shot and he made such a big deal about it that they had bandaged up his whole upper arm. Needless to say I freaked out a bit because I was wondering what kind of injury he had sustained at school to warrant such a bandage.

He loves to work on the tablets and the computers. The child who can’t complete his assignments without me standing by his side will be the one playing games on other sites the minute I walk away.

Movies are something that can absolutely capture his attention. He can watch a movie one time and have the whole thing memorized word for word. This is the same kid who can not remember his sight words from five minutes ago.

He loves to be outside, most of the time, except for when he doesn’t. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense but it would if you knew him. He will whine and ask nonstop to go outside. Then he will want to come right back in saying it is too hot, too cold, too windy, etc.

He is definitely a jokester too. He is constantly knocking on the wall in his room and making us believe someone is at the door. He can also imitate a variety of noises and have us thinking all kinds of crazy things are going on around us.

Sure there will be things that he can’t do but most things he can do just in a different way than others. He has a lot of trouble with buttons, zippers, and ties. That doesn’t keep him from dressing himself as I just try to buy pants with elastic waistbands, pull on shirts, and Velcro shoes. We will continue to work on these things but right now I feel it is best for him to be as independent as possible.

For now we will continue to focus on the things he can do and keep building his self confidence and independence. I will continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, and direction for what we should be doing and how to handle the obstacles that will come along.

If you will also please pray for our family and other families with special needs kids. My day usually starts about 4:00 am with him up singing or yelling, depending on his mood. It just gets busier throughout the day and doesn’t ever really end. Then there are the countless number of doctor visits, trips to specialists, and his least favorite, the dentist. We need everyone’s prayers for strength, health, and patience.

He processes things much differently than you and I do. In other words, he marches to the beat of his own drum. Someone has taught him how to ‘whip’ and ‘nay nay’ so he is dancing and saying ‘watch me whip’, ‘watch me mayonnaise’…. lol… don’t try to argue with him either because he is always right, even when he is wrong.

You can also read the following for more details about our adventures:

Our Homeschool Beginnings

Our ever changing homeschool routine

Dear special needs parent

Take a peek into my morning

Do you care enough to walk away?

We all have people in our lives that we care about and some that we truly love. These can be family members or friends. These people have touched our lives in so many ways and we couldn’t imagine life without them.

So what happens when you just can’t be around them? Maybe you’ve had a fight or they’ve moved away. It helps when you can apologize and makes things right again. Or if they’ve moved we still have many ways to communicate with them.

Sometimes though things happen that just can’t be fixed and no matter how hard we try it seems that we only make things worse. Sometimes our friends and loved ones just walk away and never really give a reason why. They don’t reply to our attempts at contacting them. It feels as though we have been abandoned. This can hurt worse than anything as I have come to find out.

Sometimes as I’ve learned that others may have been jealous of your friendship with someone. They may have been making your friend’s life miserable because of you through no fault of your own. This happens when others are selfish and desire control over another person. They may call it love but that’s not how love works.

Love wants the people in your life to be happy, love is not selfish, and love does not come with conditions. Love shows in your everyday actions towards others. It shows in the little texts you send just to make them smile, the little notes you leave to let them know you were thinking of them. Or buying them there favorite food or drink and leaving it somewhere they would be sure to find it.

Love gives without expecting anything in return. When you’ve made another person smile out of pure joy then your heart fills up until its about to burst. Just seeing that person happy is enough until it’s not and they are gone.

So, if you’ve experienced this and you’ve tried to do rectify the situation but haven’t succeeded, what do you do? If you just want an answer, what do you do?

Well, for me I’ve come to the point that I am not going to do anything but pray. I have taken this person and their situation and left it in God’s hands. I don’t know what is going on in their life and no matter how bad I wanted to be there they didn’t want me there for them.

I’m not going to cling to the ‘What ifs’ and wonder what might have been because it’s not reality. I’m not going to harass them or pour my heart to them because that would only make them feel worse. It’s possible they walked away because they cared about me and didn’t want me to be caught up in their drama. I don’t know. I do feel that if that was case I should’ve had a say in it as to whether I wanted to stay or not. Why didn’t I get a goodbye?

I do know that I valued this person’s friendship and I have some really fond memories of them. I will keep those in my heart and I will continue to pray for them. I know that I loved them and that I my love was shown with everything I did for them. Maybe that scared them? That I don’t know and maybe never will.

I know that I tried and I know that my friend knows where I am if they ever need me. We may never be able to pick up where we left off but we could still have a friendship and be there for one another.

I may never get the answers I sought as to what happened but that’s OK. I trust that God knows the circumstances and that there is a reason for these kinds of things to happen. He brings people into our lives for different reasons and I am not going to question His plans for me.

So even though months later pain is still there and my heart bears the deep scars but I know I can walk away. I know that my presence would only cause more heartache and grief on their part so I will walk away. That’s how love works. You would sacrifice your own feelings and comfort for another person’s happiness. Yep, that’s how it is supposed to work.

 

Getting Routines Started 101

‘Your first obligation as a parent is to not bring chaos into your kids’ lives.’

OK, I should’ve written this before I started on the other posts about routines. I didn’t realize, until I was writing another post, how complicated and daunting routines can seem. Truth be told we all have some kind of routine already.

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here. Continue reading Getting Routines Started 101

Monthly Routines

This is a quick run down of our monthly routines or tasks that I try to complete once a month. I have divided them up by weeks so that it helps me keep them on track. I only have five tasks per week so I only need to concentrate on one each day.

1st week:

  1. Check/Pay bills
  2. Change calendars
  3. Clean/Sanitize the dishwasher
  4. Make appointments
  5. Yard work

Ok so number one is a must! If you don’t do that one you will be sitting in the dark.

Number two is a little more detailed for us as this not only involves me flipping the page on my desk calendar but changing out the school calendar. I have different themes for different months/seasons. All the cards are printed out and laminated. I keep them separated by months in a small index card holder. (I will try to do a post on this another time.)

I have included a link for the third task. It is important to make sure you take care of your appliances so they will last.

I sit down and see who needs appointments for physicals and such. I also check through my mail to see if I have gotten any appointment cards for anyone.

We try to take care of any big yard work like weed eating, trimming bushes, etc.

2nd week:

  1. Run vinegar and water through the coffee pot
  2. Clean burner pans on the stove
  3. Spot clean couches
  4. Spot clean the carpets
  5. Garden

I have included a link to this first one. It is important to clean out your coffee maker to keep the germies away!

I usually need to clean the burner pans on the stove at least once a month. This reduces the chance of something catching on fire.

The next two are pretty self explanatory. With kids messes are inevitable. I try to clean up messes when they happen but sometimes I don’t see them right away. I take a few minutes, once a month, to check the furniture and give it a quick cleaning.

I do the same with the carpets. I have the Shark Sonic Duo and I love it! It cleans really well and dries really quickly. This machine comes in really handy for big messes too.

When we have a garden I will use this week to give it a little extra attention and let the kids get some hands on learning at the same time.

3rd week:

  1. Change water filters, if needed
  2. Clean vacuum filters
  3. Clean AC filters
  4. Clean out fridge
  5. Clean out freezer

I use a water filter on the kitchen sink for drinking water and our fridge has a filter also. We try to keep a check on them and replace them as needed.

A lot of the vacuums have filters that can be washed. I try to wash mine once a month. I also give the vacuum a good cleaning and check the roller as well.

We have window AC units and they stay in all year round. The ACs run much better and are  more efficient when the filters are cleaned on a regular basis. So this not only saves me money but helps keep us more comfortable as well.

Once a month our fridge gets a deep clean. We take everything out shelf by shelf and wash it. Then we dry it and put it right back.

Same with our large freezer. I try to take everything out shelf by shelf. I use laundry baskets and coolers to hold the items. Things can get a little disorganized when others help put away groceries so I try to organize it by shelf. I separate the fruits and produce, the meats by types, breads, and try to keep the small items or items that need to be used in the door.

4th week:

  1. Wash your car
  2. Menu planning
  3. Wash shower curtain
  4. Clean out tubs/showers
  5. Chicken pen

Our cars get really dirty here. If it rains they get covered in mud. If it doesn’t rain they get covered in dust. When I am in town running errands I try to run my truck through the car wash once a month.

I also take a day to review my upcoming month’s menus and rearrange meals to fit our schedules and budget for the month. If I have multiple meals that pop up for a day I will choose one and delete the rest of them. I will also try to keep in mind what foods are more readily available for whatever season we are in.

Once a month I try to remember to throw the shower curtain in the wash with a load of whites. I hang it up as soon as it is washed so it can dry. When the curtain is down it makes it easier to clean out the tub in the back bathroom. I normally have DD17 take care of that and I take care of the big tub and separate shower in my bathroom.

The bathrooms just smell so much better when you keep everything washed up on a regular basis and don’t give them a chance to gather any kind of funk.

This last week is when we give our chicken pens a little extra attention too. We try to give everything a good cleaning with the water house and replace shavings and whatnot. This keeps the chickens and the geese fairly happy.

I hope this has helped you with some ideas for setting up your own monthly routines.

 

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:

evening.jpg

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.

evening1.jpg

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

 

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.

christmas-trees

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!

 

 

 

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’