Tag Archives: joy

January 2, 2017

I’m sitting here writing this before 7pm and I am exhausted. This past week has seemed like an eternity. The kids have been super hyper, family tensions have exploded, and life has just been down right crazy. There have been many times this past week that, even in the midst of all the chaos, I have felt so lonely.

That’s how life goes though. We have to have the bad to know what the good is. We need the craziness to keep us on our toes. It all works together to mold us and shape us into who we need to be.

There have been some really good moments and some funny ones too. Today DS3 asked me for a piece of ‘turned over cake’ aka Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. He was so happy to get a piece after dinner. It’s amazing how the simplest things can bring a smile to a child’s face.

Then there was this little couple at the grocery store today. They were older, reminded me a bit of my mom-mom and pop-pop, but they were so cute. I wanted to snap a picture but I didn’t want them to think I was completely off my rocker so I didn’t. I was happy to see them but also a little sad.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have that. That’s what I signed up for, not once or twice, but three times now. Three times it hasn’t worked out. It seems that every time I see a little glimpse of that it slips away from me and feels like it was just a figment of my imagination.

That’s when the Devil slips in and tries to tell me that I’m not good enough or that I’ll never be enough for anyone. He reminds me of my past failures and he points out my kids. He tells me that noone would ever be crazy enough to sign up for all of this.

Well, he is WRONG! I know he is. How do I know? Because God has said that I am His daughter and He is the KING! If it is God’s best for me then I will have it. So, I will try my best to be content where I am right now. Even though where I am right now is not where I thought I was a week or so ago. It is so hard to keep the faith sometimes but I will trust in His promises.

Even when times are hard God is there. We may not see Him or feel Him but He is there. When it seems like the dead of winter is upon us, He is with us. He is working on us, pruning us, shaping us, molding us for the plans He has for us. We may not see the fruits of our labors right now but we will see them in the future. He is so good!

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls;

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 

The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

— Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Love Yourself

This season of the year brings out a lot of different emotions for everyone. You may be waiting in anticipation for Christmas to get here. You may be excited to see your family and maybe a little anxious to see what gifts are waiting for you under the tree. It may be full of despair if you didn’t have the extra money to buy gifts for your loved ones. You may be feeling hopeless or distraught.

Please don’t beat yourself up over things you can’t control. This season is meant to bring us feelings of peace, joy, and love. To fully experience this you must let go of your feelings of guilt. There is not any ‘perfect’ Christmas, ‘perfect’ gift, or ‘perfect’ person at least since that very first Christmas.

Before we can truly experience the full joy and peace of the season we need to love ourselves. There are a million things that can make us feel unloved or unworthy.

Do you feel like you aren’t enough? You just can’t quite get everything pulled together to pull off the perfect holiday celebration. Maybe you don’t have the trendiest clothes? If only you had nicer clothes then you would feel better about yourself. Maybe your hair is in desperate need of a cut or color? If only you had the money to do your hair you would feel prettier. Maybe your friends or family have deserted you? If only you were a better person they wouldn’t have left you feeling so unloved and rejected.

These could all be reasons to feel down in the dumps. But let me tell you something… they are all lies. Lies that are fed to us by the one who is out only to seek and devour, to destroy us. Satan wants us to believe that we are rejects and that we are unworthy of being loved.

God sent his only begotten son to show us His love. God loves you, He loves me, and He loves everyone around us. He wants us to fully experience His love for us. We can’t do that if we refuse to accept it or let go of our guilt or misconceptions that we have.

I want you to know that God loves you unconditionally. He loves you whether you are overweight or underweight. He loves you whether you have an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or anything else. He loves you if you drive a Mercedes or a bucket of rust. He loves you even when it seems that noone else does. He loves you whether you bite your nails to the quick or have the latest manicure.

I want you to know that you can feel at peace this holiday season. You can experience a joy so full that it overflows to those around you. You can experience a love like you’ve never known. Just take it to God and ask Him to help you with your feelings of inadequacies, unworthiness, or whatever it is that you may be feeling. He can and will take your burdens away and He will show you how to let your light shine in the darkest of days.

Merry Christmas!

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

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December 3, 2016

Good morning everyone! It is such a beautiful day, isn’t it? I hope you all answered a big ‘Yes’.God is so good to us each and everyday. My cup is truly overflowing this morning. He has blessed us so richly and many times we just take those blessings for granted.

I am thanking him today for my family, for our health, for a roof over our heads, for food on the table, for the clothes on our backs, and the shoes on our feet. He supplies us with all of our needs and so many of our wants. Thank you Lord for being so good to me, my family, my friends, and the one who is reading this right now!

Yesterday I finally managed to get all of the Fall decor down and out to the building. DD17 helped me to carry out the totes. While we were in the building, which is a big mess, we dug out the Christmas totes and carried them to the house as well. I also restacked some of the other totes to make it easier when we need to retrieve them in the future. I am in the process of color coding our holiday decor so we can immediately tell by looking at a tote what is in it. This will help when I assign future tasks for the kids to help me with.

I am sitting at the island right now drinking my cup of coffee, typing this post, and working on my To-Do list. ( I am also messaging my friend and listening to some Christmas music as well.) The kids are finishing up their breakfast, Dutch Puff, and discussing their plans for the day which makes me smile.We do have one case of the grumpies, DS3, who kept insisting that he ‘needed’ brownies for breakfast.

They made brownies last night with DS17. Then while the brownies were baking we worked on our Advent Study, which I still need to pull out the nativity scene, and then enjoyed some warm brownies. I am really thankful that I did manage to get some of it together as the kids are enjoying it. I know when I get the nativity set out and they actually get to do the activities suggested they will enjoy this study even more.

So now we have a mountain of green totes in the Living room. This makes DS14 crazy but I have assured him that they will be out of the way soon. My kitchen island looks so bare right now, actually the whole kitchen does as it held the majority of the Fall decor, but I will use this as a chance to give it a good cleaning.

My To-Do list for the day also includes getting my stack of Christmas card addressed and ready to mail. I really hope that I can get them in the mail but that will be a bonus if it happens. I have the cards, the stamps, and the addresses on my desk so it probably won’t take too awful long to get them finished up. It is just finding a moment to actually sit down and work on it that my prove difficult.

We also plan to put up a few of our holiday decorations today. Yesterday the kids did stick Santa in the yard but someone had pulled him off his stake before we managed to get all the totes in the house. So that probably needs some attention too. We decided to wait until St. Nicholas day (December 6th) to put up our tree and the anticipation is driving the littles crazy! I don’t really know if there is a ‘right’ time to put up the tree. I figured we would do a lesson on St. Nicholas and try to incorporate the tree decorating into the lesson.

I’ve also noticed that something got into the trash bin during the night. So that will be on the top of my list to take care before the wind blows it all over the yard. It is an unpleasant task but needs to be done. Sometimes taking care of the not so fun things first will motivate me to take care of the other things on my list.

For now though I am going to enjoy a few minutes with the littles. DS3 has brought his plate to the island and is sitting beside me. DS4 is dragging sheets and blankets to the laundry room and just informed me that he had wet the bed last night. That doesn’t happen often and I know that accidents will happen from time to time.

It makes my heart happy to see that he is attempting to help with the clean up and that he is admitting what he did and accepting responsibility for it. He knows that it does affect the way I feel about him. He knows that he is loved and accepted and that we will not belittle him or make him feel bad about what happened. He also knows that we will help him clean up whatever he needs help with. He just told me that he will try harder to remember to use the potty before he goes to bed. So he is attempting to learn from the situation and prevent it from happening again.

We can learn so much from this. Life happens, accidents happen, mistakes happen. When they do happen we need to remember that God still loves us and that He is there for us. When we come to Him and tell Him what we have done, when we repent and ask for His help He will forgive us. We can use our mistakes as learning tools and try not to make them again.

As a parent we can also use these accidents and mistakes as a model of God’s love. We can listen to our children and remind them that we still love them. We can show them the same mercy and grace that God has shown to us so many times. We can show them the power of forgiveness and not make them feel guilty about things.

We also need to remember to be quick to admit our faults and mistakes. We need to apologize to them and ask for forgiveness if we have done them wrong in one way or another. This sets a good example for them. They will see that we are not perfect and that we make mistakes too.

I pray everyone has a blessed day!

Weekly Routines

I hope you have had a chance to read through my other posts on routines. If you have then you are probably wondering what Weekly Routines are.

For me these are tasks that need to happen on a weekly basis. I have divided these tasks up by certain days but sometimes I may complete them ahead, or behind, schedule. These just help to keep our house running smoothly and keep the cleaning from becoming such a chore.

Sundays are more of a resting day for us here. The only things I have listed to do on Sundays are:

  1. Check for newspaper coupons
  2. Empty all trash

I will go to Couponmom.com to see if there are coupons in the current week’s newspaper and then I will either make a quick trip to get 2 papers or ask someone else to pick them up for me. (I will need to do another post on couponing.)

Then I will also have the kids check the various trash cans and empty them. Our trash collection runs on Monday morning so we try to get it all ready ahead of time.

Mondays here can be a little hectic just like they are for everyone else. Monday is normally the day when I try to do our ‘house blessing’, another FlyLady term. I have actually divided these tasks between Monday and Tuesday but will try to get as many finished on Monday as possible.

  1. Take the trash to the road
  2. Wash clothes — Ds3 & DS4
  3. Scrub & Shine the sink
  4. Wash coffee pot in the dishwasher
  5. Dust*
  6. Vacuum*
  7. Purge magazines*

So the first one is pretty self explanatory but sometimes I forget so it helps me to remember. Someone usually has to help the boys to get their hamper to the laundry room but they can load/unload the washer and the dryer. You can see our Laundry Routines for more info on the second one.

Third is to scrub and shine my kitchen sink. I try to wipe out the sink every night before bed but it does seem to need a good scrubbing once a week to keep it nice and shiny.

I rinse the coffee pot out each day but by the end of the week it starts to look a little dingy. A quick run through the dishwasher takes care of that and it is ready to go again.

The last three marked with an * are parts of our ‘house blessing’ which I learned from the FlyLady. Each of these tasks can be completed in 10 minutes or less at my house.

The weekly dusting I do is not the pull everything off the shelves and dust each piece individually dusting that my Mom-mom had me help with when I was little. This is just taking a feather duster and quickly dusting through the house. I also dust the blades of the ceiling fans once a month. We live on a dirt road so dust builds up rather quickly.

Same with the vacuuming, 10 minutes or less, just vacuum the main areas. I am fortunate enough that my vacuum has a long enough cord that I can pretty much plug it into an outlet near the kitchen and be able to reach my bathroom, my bedroom, the playroom, the living room and most of the other bedrooms. The kids are responsible for vacuuming their rooms at least once a month. We don’t move the furniture or anything like that, unless we are rearranging or deep cleaning, as there will be a day that is designated for that with our daily missions from FlyLady.

To purge magazines doesn’t take long at all. I have a stack of magazines and only keep a set number. Once we reach that number I will either pass them along to someone else or throw them away if they are in bad shape. I do keep a few of them to use for art projects as well.

Tuesdays have another set of tasks that are completed each week. These include:

  1. Wash Clothes – DS14
  2. Clean room – DS14
  3. Polish*
  4. Mop*
  5. Clean out fridge
  6. Clean out microwave
  7. Meal planning
  8. Mow the play yard

OK. The first one is just something we do everyday, and the second is something I have recently added. DS14 is special needs and sometimes his hygiene practices are questionable. While I am trying to teach him to be as independent as possible his room often needs attention. He will sometimes spit everywhere or lick the walls, I know it’s gross, or do other things that cause his room to smell funky. So I get him to strip his bed and we thoroughly clean his whole room, wipe down the walls, shampoo the carpets, etc. every Tuesday. I have a system to my cleaning and can usually have his room cleaned in about 15 minutes. This helps everyone in the house and is just something that really has to be done.

Again the ones marked with an * are parts of our ‘house blessing’. These take 10 minutes or less to do. I grab a rag and a bottle of Windex and run, maybe not run as running isn’t allowed but I do move quickly, and wipe off all the shiny surfaces first. Shiny surfaces would be the mirrors, glass, TVs, computer monitors,etc. I also try to wipe all the light switches,remotes, and kitchen appliances like the stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Then I do a quick wipe of the tops of my coffee tables and end tables. I will also wipe some of the newer cabinets that we have as they seem to be a magnet for sticky hands.

When everything is all nice and shiny we do the mopping. I use a steam mop but a regular mop is just fine. This is not a get down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor either. I will fill my steam mop with water and set it to ‘scrub’. Then I first use it on my kitchen table and benches. It helps to get any of the ‘stickies’ that DD8 may have missed. After I finish with that I will do the kitchen, laundry room, and entry ways. I save the bathroom for last. Then the mop pad goes into the hamper for the whites. This is normally 10 minutes or less as the cord for my mop reaches to every room except the back bathroom.

The key is to keep it under 10 minutes for each task. The house blessing is not the time to do a major detail cleaning. That can be added to your To-Do list for another time.

I will try to put a cup of water in the microwave before I start mopping. I set it for 2-3 minutes and leave it. By the time I finish mopping I can open the microwave and just wipe it out really quick. If I didn’t get the outside of it when I was polishing I will give it a quick wipe also.

Same with the fridge. I don’t take everything out. I quickly grab anything that needs to be thrown out and empty it. Then I just wipe off the shelves and clean up any obvious messes. There will be another day to do a major deep cleaning of the fridge. I will also polish up the outside if I missed it earlier.

Once the fridge is clean and I can see what we have and don’t have or what may need to be used I will review my menu plan and start a grocery list.

Sometimes I have DS21 here and will have him mow the yard. When he mows he will mow everything that needs mowed. If I am mowing I just break it down into smaller segments that I can do quickly. The play yard needs the most attention as the kids are out there almost every day.

Wednesdays are more of an errand day here:

  1. Change sheets
  2. Wash whites
  3. Make grocery list
  4. Clip coupons
  5. Grocery shopping
  6. Drop off donations
  7. Get gas

I have the DD8 & DD9 change the sheets on their beds. (I keep an extra set of sheets for everyone’s bed so they can remake the bed after they strip it down.) Then DS3 & DS4 will also bring in their sheets. I also strip my bed down and remake it as well, as Momma needs to lead by example. I know everyone has different opinions on how often sheets should be washed but I like to do them every week. If the weather is nice I will hang them outside because it makes them smell so good!

I keep a hamper in my bathroom for the whites. When anyone has anything that needs to bleached they put it in that hamper. DD8 & DD9 are responsible for gathering up any used/dirty towels, bath rugs, and wash rags and bringing to the laundry room to be washed with the whites also. After the sheets are washed I will throw in the load of whites.

While the kids are doing their school work I will start working on the grocery list again. I will check the sales and print off lists for each store that I plan to visit. Then I will pull the coupons out and clip what coupons I need and put them in my binder. I also try to check for ecoupons if I have time.

Once the kids are down for naps and DD17 is up and ready to babysit I will head to the grocery store(s). While out I will drop off any bags or boxes or donations that we have accumulated the week before. There are many different drop bins in town so I will stop at whichever is closest to where I am going. I will also try to fill up with gas while I am out.

Once I am home everyone helps to unload the truck and put away the groceries.

Thursdays are usually kind of slow here. The kids are ready to be done with their school work for the week and Momma is usually ready for them to be finished also.

  1. Wash clothes – Momma
  2. Restock the bathrooms
  3. Carry shopping bags to the truck
  4. Vacuum
  5. Call Mom

Again we have laundry, Thursday is my day to wash clothes. DS3 and DS4 like to help with restocking the bathrooms. They know where to put the toilet paper and are always to eager to help. I check the bottles of soaps and such. I will refill the soap containers, if needed and bring new shampoo, conditioner, and/or body wash to each bathroom, as needed.

The next one just helps me to remember my reusable grocery bags. Sometimes I just throw them on the bench at the back door and forget about them. Then when I go grocery shopping I can’t find them so I just have this as a reminder for myself.

We will do a really quick vacuum through the house. We are surrounded by sand and there are many feet that walk through our house on a daily basis. Everyone takes their shoes off at that door but the sand still finds its way to the carpet. Not to mention the other little things like the paper bits off of notebooks and such. This quick task just keeps the house looking freshly cleaned.

Last I have ‘Call Mom’ on my list. Sadly I admit that I do not talk to my family as much as I probably should. We text but that isn’t the same connection as actually talking to someone and hearing their voice.

Finally Friday! Yay! Who am I kidding? I don’t get the weekend off. As our week is winding down we have a few more things that we do just to keep everything under control.

  1. Wash clothes -DD8 & DD9
  2. Clean out vehicles
  3. Clean out purse
  4. Clean out work boxes
  5. Mop
  6. Pick up in the yard

Not too bad, we have laundry as usual.

I will grab a grocery bag and one of the kids to help me with cleaning out the truck. It isn’t usually too bad as we try to pick up our messes as we go. I will change out the trash bag I keep in the truck too. I try to do a quick wipe down of the seats, dash, , steering wheel, and console while I am in the truck as the dust is really bad. (I should probably get me a small duster to keep in the truck.)

Then I try to clean out my purse as we all know how receipts and things can pile up in there. Also kids will always hand you things to keep for later and then never reclaim them.

I have the kids clean out their work boxes. Our work boxes are just simple plastic containers that hold their pencil pouches, notebooks, and workbooks for school. During the week the kids manage to accumulate massive amounts of paper and trash in their boxes. By cleaning them out once a week I can try to help them tame their clutter monsters.

Again I do a quick mop as it is usually needed by Friday. I don’t do the table and benches though unless they are super sticky or something.

The kids will also grab a grocery bag and run around the yard to pick up trash that has blown in and get rid of broken toys that may be laying around.

Saturdays are pretty simple:

  1. School planning
  2. Check oil/fluids in vehicles

I try to find a little time on Saturdays to get the following weeks lessons planned out and entered into our Homeschool Manager app. I will also check to make sure that I have entered grades and checked off the completed assignments. I try to go ahead and make printouts or copies of the things we will need and put them into my file organizer.

Vehicle maintenance is important and as I don’t have anyone else to do it for me I have to remind myself to keep a check on everything.

This is the basic run down of our day by day weekly schedule here. I know it may seem complicated or seem like a lot of things to do but its not really all that bad. These tasks and routines are what keeps our house running as smoothly and stress free as it does.

When you first start your routine it will take a bit of time to get used to it. Start simple and basic and slowly add things to it. Pretty soon it will come as second nature. You will immediately start to see the results of doing things on a regular basis. I wish you all the best of luck!

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Weekly 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 hard being a peacemaker

Matthew 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

I’m sure you’ve probably read this verse before as I know I have read it. I came across again it a few days ago and began to wonder ‘What exactly is a peacemaker?’ I looked up the definition and this is what I found:

peace·mak·er
ˈpēsˌmākər/
noun
1. a person who brings about peace, especially by reconciling adversaries.

What is peace? I know that most of us strive to find it but many times fall short. We want to be free from the conflict that surrounds us in every day life.

peace
pēs/
noun
1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
“you can while away an hour or two in peace and seclusion”
synonmyms: tranquility, calm, restfulness, peace and quiet, peacefulness, quiet, quietness
2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.”the Straits were to be open to warships in time of peace”
synonyms: law and order, lawfulness, order, peacefulness, peaceableness, harmony,nonviolence;
So it appears that a peacemaker would be someone who brings about peace. Someone who tries to facilitate an environment of tranquility and harmony. They may do this in a number of ways. They could offer their homes as a safe haven or refuge to others.
They could just offer to listen to others and help them with situations that are distressing them. They could be the one who is constantly trying to help others reconcile arguments or acting as a go between among feuding parties.
Peacemakers are constantly looking for ways to bring about harmony to every situation. They will often be the first one to admit they were wrong in a situation and they will do whatever is needed to right the wrong.
A peacemaker will most always seek ways to promote peace in every circumstance. They attempt to make careful decisions about everything they do and consider how they can prevent a potentially bad situation from becoming worse. When things don’t go well they will not blow things out of proportion and they will be quick to forgive minor offenses.
They will also be quick to show others appreciation. They will show displays of gratitude, humility, and grace that can and will immediately dissolve feelings of tension and discord. We are all called to peacemakers, just as Jesus was a peacemaker, as followers of Jesus.
Sometimes though the peacemaker can begin to feel run down, drained, and depressed. Maybe they feel like they keep getting caught up in other people’s drama. They may retreat into themselves because they feel like they can’t open up to others. Maybe they don’t want to feel like they are ‘gossiping’ if they try to talk about what is bothering them. Then again maybe their desire for peace keeps them from confronting others about bad behaviors and/or attitudes that are having a negative impact on their relationships.

If you find yourself feeling like this then turn to God. In order to be a true peacemaker you must continually ask God for guidance. You must be able to experience the peace of God in your own life before you can truly live in peace with others. When others can see the peace you have and the joy it brings to your life they will also have a desire to become a peacemaker.

If you happen to know someone who is a peacemaker then you should thank God for them. Pray for them and ask God to supply them with wisdom, strength, patience. Maybe you could say a little ‘Thank you’ and encourage them on their walk so that they can continue in their good work.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18 KJV)

Its Not About Me.

Original Blog Post July 12, 2016
Over the past few weeks I have had my feelings hurt quite a bit by someone close to me. I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve the treatment I was receiving. It brought back so many painful childhood memories and was making me think about making some major life changes.
I didn’t confide in many people about how I was feeling and those people didn’t believe what was going on could be as bad as I felt it was until they saw it for their own eyes. Feeling justified in my feelings didn’t help anything. It didn’t change the behavior either.
Then things kind of blew up a few days ago. This person was being more annoying than ever. This person had to be the center of attention at ALL times. They demanded the attention and if they didn’t get it then they would make up something to get it. I kept feeling like I was being reprimanded for things that they imagined had happened. I noticed that problems were being instigated by these imaginary events. This person was becoming increasingly arrogant and rude to everyone around them.
Finally myself and someone else just told them that we were tired of it. Apparently one after another we let him know how we felt. Did that stop the behavior? No, because it got turned around that we were the ones with the problem. They were the innocent party in the whole mess and couldn’t understand why people were upset with them. Things were a bit tense for a bit but eventually cooled down.
I had lost my temper, which takes a lot, because this person kept accusing me of causing something. Finally after beating myself up over this I had enough. The next time they got in my face about it then I just told them to ‘Stop!’, and I walked away but I ended up looking like the dramatic one.
As I’ve thought about the events I realize that this has been an ongoing problem. When I was younger I never felt like anything I did was ever good enough. No matter what award or achievement I reached this person always had something to top it. No matter how much stuff this person has they always need more. If the neighbor gets something then they have to have one bigger and better too. (Even if they have 10 of them not being used already.) They were always quick to dole out criticism but angered if someone gave it back to them. These are just a few of the things that I have been reminded of.
As I’ve thought about the events I realize that this has been an ongoing problem. When I was younger I never felt like anything I did was ever good enough. No matter what award or achievement I reached this person always had something to top it. No matter how much stuff this person has they always need more. If the neighbor gets something then they have to have one bigger and better too. (Even if they have 10 of them not being used already.) They were always quick to dole out criticism but angered if someone gave it back to them. These are just a few of the things that I have been reminded of.
When it boils down to it this person is selfish and doesn’t truly care about the feelings of the people around them. They only look at what they can gain from being around others and don’t take into account how others will feel about being used.
This person was robbing me of my joy. I no longer wanted to even be around them. They even had me questioning my own memories about past events.
Well I say enough is enough. I refuse to be a doormat for the rude and degrading behaviors that have been going on lately. Is this going to be easy? Probably not, but I am determined that things will change or other changes will have to be made.

Dear Special Needs Parent

Original Blog Post on July 12, 2016
Dear Special Needs Parent, I see you in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, and at the park. I see the smiles that hide the tears. I see the tired look you try to hide. I hear the little sigh you let out when another mom talks about ‘date night’ or a milestone their child has reached. How do I see and hear all of this? I am a special needs mom, a single parent, a homeschooling mom, and so much more.
I know how hard it is to get up at the crack of dawn because your kid is already up and calling for you, even though they didn’t fall asleep until late. I know how hard it is to divide your attention between the kids, the chores, and all that has to be done. Much less finding time to do things for yourself like shower.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last ‘date night’ I’ve had or even the last time I was away from my kids for a night. (Maybe when the 3 year old was born?) I know that when you try to plan an outing it drains you because of all the things you have to be prepared for. You are exhausted by the time you get everything and everyone packed and ready.
Things that were once fun can still be fun but they are oh so exhausting now days. We have our good days when nobody has a melt down (or maybe just a couple of melt downs for the day), nobody wets the bed, and everyone eats what you made for dinner.
Then we have the bad days. The days when everything causes a meltdown, from the French Toast you make every Tuesday to keep things on a simple routine, to the thunder they thought they heard, or the little brother who is stuck on singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which was big brother’s favorite song yesterday but is irritating him today). Sigh, I know.
Then we have the really bad days were we just want to go back to bed. The days when you have done 3 loads of laundry before 6 am. When you have showered your 13 year old 4 times before 7am and stripped his room (and the bathroom) and completely disinfected and sanitized it for the 3rd day in a row. The days when he has forgotten/refuses to do anything for himself and calls you every bad name he can think of and then some that you can’t and don’t want to understand. I’ve been there. Sometimes these phases last a day or two or sometimes a week or two.
I can remember a few years ago when I had to clean my son’s room. It was a horrible mess. I grabbed rubber gloves and trash bags. I went to his room and opened the window. I filled those bags and started tossing them out the window because it was so nasty and I just couldn’t bear the thought of cleaning the stuff again just to have him repeat this scene again in a day or two. I was about 3 weeks from my due date with our 8th child. While cleaning I started throwing up because it was so bad. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days, at one point they thought I would be delivering the baby early. This was a week before Christmas and we had already planned a party for friends and family. The timing couldn’t have been worse. The party was cancelled and all last minute Christmas shopping went undone. But we made it through that and you will make it through whatever it is that you are going through right now too. (A very healthy baby boy was born 2 weeks later.)
I have my kids 24/7 with only a slight reprieve two times a week (when he feels like coming or something else doesn’t come up in his schedule) for maybe 2 hours a time (which was scheduled to be 5 hours each time but he never makes it that long). I can’t leave because something always happens. Sometimes I go to my bedroom or sit outside but the kids usually wander away and end up with me so I really have almost no ‘Me time’.
I know the brave front you put on when you are out and about. I know the fear when the kid next to you wipes their snotty nose on their hand and then goes to play with your kid. I know that if my kid catches whatever that is that life will be miserable for the next week or two. Not too mention the fact that it will eventually spread through the house and I’ll end up sick trying to tend to 6 kids by myself too. Yep, I know.
I also know that we need to be there for each other. We need to be a support system for each other. Whether by joining blogs or Facebook groups. If someone offers to help then let them. They can do dishes, wash laundry or just sit with the kids while you nap. Maybe when you the kids get comfortable you can even sneak away to do the grocery shopping by yourself.
Don’t keep trying to do it by yourself as you will just crash and burn. Trust me, I know.
If you are a friend or neighbor, maybe a parent or sibling of someone who has a special needs child please know that they do need you and they need your support. I can’t tell you how much it means just to chat for a minute on Messenger or a couple of texts when I am having a hard day. Let me tell you that I will never turn down food, especially ready to eat food. When someone shows up unexpectedly at the door with an armload of pizzas it is a wonderful feeling to know they were thinking about you.

Who Am I?

I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a daughter, I am a person just like you. All to often we forget that the people who are subjects of the rumors and gossip flying around are people just like you and I. They are someone’s child, parent, sibling, friend or spouse. They are real and they have feelings. When you listen to the tales spun by someone you should always consider the source and what it is that this person may have to gain from speaking out about another. Remember that you are only hearing the side of the story that they want you to hear.
The ones telling the stories try their best to dehumanize the person they are talking about. They make them out to be a horrid monster with no feelings. A witch or a crazy psycho. They put the blame for their problems on the other person and have a fine tale to explain how the other person is responsible for whatever situation they are in. They never stop to consider how their lies will affect the other person, their friends, or their family. When confronted with the truth they will deny ever having said those nasty comments.
If you are drawn in by someone’s sad story please remember that you may become the target of their next sad story. Trust me, I know this all too well.
Before repeating of commenting on the remarks think about what you would do, or how you would feel if that was you they were talking about. What if it were you mother or father? What if it were your child or grandchild? What if it were friend?
I am a not a monster but a flesh and blood human being just like you! I breathe the same air and my heart beats just like the one beating in your chest. I am not perfect nor will I ever be perfect in this lifetime. I cry, I laugh, I have the same struggles as everyone else, maybe a few more. I lose my temper sometimes, I yell, I scream, and sometimes I say things I don’t mean. I have made my share of mistakes, just as you reading this have, and I try my best to learn from those mistakes. I admit that I haven’t always handled every situation with the best of grace but I try.
I am often too trusting, too selfless, too loving, and too patient. I often bend over backwards to help others and make life easier for them. I try to find the good in every one and every situation. Sometimes I try to hard. I usually expect to be treated the way I have treated others. I forget that we are all human and we will all disappoint one another in some way or another. Sometimes I just expect and anticipate too much from those around me and then I am so disappointed and hurt when things don’t turn out the way I had expected.
Lately I am stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I constantly have to push myself to go further and do more than I feel I can. I try not to complain. I have found strength I didn’t know I had.
I have heard so many things about myself that I know are not true. It hurts, it really does. I have cried so much about these lies and rumors. They have caused me so much heartache and more so because one of the people responsible for starting them was someone I love and care about deeply. I never expected this. I never expected to be constantly harassed and humiliated on an almost daily basis now. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad if I had expected it, I don’t know.
Lately I have felt this bitterness creeping up inside of me and it is the most awful feeling. It chokes out all of your peace and joy. It overshadows everything else and makes it impossible for you to see the beauty of what is in front of you. It is a thief and robber.
It told me that I should be angry and upset. After all, I am the one who was left to be the ‘responsible one’. I am the one who is working 24/7 to keep this family going. I am the one who wakes up several times during the night to help the little ones go back to sleep. I am the one who is here dealing with the day to day needs of a large family and dealing with the extra challenges of special needs children. I am the one who sleeps alone in my bed EVERY night and prays for GOD to heal my broken heart. I ask HIM to wake me from this horrible dream. When I open my eyes I am still alone and I have no shoulder to cry on when I realize again and again that this is not a dream. I am the one who was committed and faithful only to have my heart broken time and time again. I am the one who NEVER gets to take a ‘break’ from it all. When I ask for a break I always get the same response, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve got other plans.’.
Then in the darkness of night I know that GOD is there and HE has my back, always has and always will. HE is the greatest comforter of all and HE has the biggest shoulders of anyone. HE understands me completely and HE listens. Without HIM I can do nothing!
Then I look at our family. It brings me to tears. They are a constant reminder of the dreams we had and the promises we made. They don’t deserve this. I try my best to shield them. They know Mommy is sad but they don’t know why. They don’t see the sacrifices I make, they don’t know the pleading and begging I have done to try to change the outcome.
When all else fails there is nothing left to do but to get rid of the bitterness that haunts me. The only way to get rid of the bitterness is to forgive. How do I forgive when I feel like I can’t? I remember the forgiveness that GOD has shown me. I will be the first to admit that I don’t deserve the mercy and grace that my LORD has shown me so many times. I pray that HE will change my heart and help me to forgive when I feel I can’t. With GOD’s help I can forgive even when it seems impossible. I will grant forgiveness even if it hasn’t been asked for.
So right now, I forgive all those who have gossiped about me. I forgive those who have had a hand (and the ones who won’t admit that they did) in the destruction of our marriage. I have been bitter against everyone who has spoken badly about me, those who have encouraged his addictions and selfishness, those who never supported us. I forgive you all even if you don’t want me to. I forgive him for all the things I have been through these past couple of years. Please understand that just because I forgive does not mean I will forget.
I also ask for forgiveness. I must ask that all of the ‘exes’ please forgive me as I, at one time, believed the stories about you. The stories that are all to similar to the stories being told about me. Please know that I apologize for anything I may have believed without getting your side of the story.
I also ask for forgiveness from those who have been affected by the lies and rumors that have been told. Please know that I am deeply sorry that you may have been affected by what was going on in my life. I also forgive anyone who has believed these lies and rumors and those that have contributed to the spreading of them.
I will remember those who have been there for me. I thank each and everyone one of my friends and family for supporting us through this time. You will never know how much I have appreciated each and every one of your thoughts and prayers. Most importantly I thank GOD for giving me the strength to get through this. Its not over yet and even after the legalities are taken care of it still won’t be ‘over’ as we have a family together.
So, Who am I? I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I am soon to be the dreaded ‘ex-wife’ and that’s OK. I am still a work in progress but I know GOD is not through with me and I have hope and faith that there are better things to come. I pray that GOD will plant a seed of forgiveness in the heart of everyone who reads this so you can experience the fullness of HIS mercy and grace. If you have never experienced HIS forgiveness I pray that you will and you will understand why I must forgive.

Open Doors

Sometimes we go through things in life that are really difficult. Just this past year I have been through a few very difficult things that I really didn’t understand. One thing I have learned is that when God closes one door He will open another one. When He takes away something it is because He has something better in store for us.
I know that when you are in the throes of a major struggle or event it is hard to find comfort in the fact that all things work for the greater good. It is hard to see that He has a bigger plan in mind and that He already knows what lies ahead. It is almost impossible to accept the circumstances and depend on Him.
If we can trust Him He will show us the way. He has created us in our own unique fashion. Each of us has different gifts, talents, and abilities that He can use for His purpose. Before we can see the doors He is opening for us we must let Him close the ones behind us. Remembering that no one can open a door that He has closed and that we must let go of the missed opportunities and quit living in the past.
The future can be uncertain and it can be scary to determine what opportunities would be the right ones to venture into. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right or that it was sent from God. On the other had just because something feels uncertain or questionable does not mean it isn’t right or that it wasn’t sent from God.
How do we know what doors to go through? This can be tricky but we should always know that it wouldn’t go against God’s word, if it was sent by Him. If we pray about the matter we will receive an answer about whether it is right or not.
Sometimes we think we have received the ‘go ahead’ only to find that we are facing many troubles. That could be because we didn’t actually receive the confirmation or because we face many enemies in our journeys. We will find that we need to fully depend on God to lead us where we need to go.
Our enemies will try to distract us from our purpose, they may attack us directly or they may use others to hinder us. They will try to tempt us away from the doors that God has opened. These attacks can be physical or spiritual in nature. They could even be disguised as something we have wanted to try to lure us away. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be discouraged.
We should recognize these battles as progress because there is a force that knows we are working to fulfill God’s purpose and plan. Just because God opened the door doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing. If we didn’t have these struggles then maybe we should wonder if we are on the right path. Just remember to follow God and ask Him for wisdom and guidance.
When the battles get rough remember that God has a reason for opening the doors He has opened for us. He wants us to go through these doors and down these paths for our own good. When we feel like giving up we need to remember that He is our strength and our refuge. He will give us victory over every obstacle we face on our journey. He will bring us peace and joy in our lives.
Always trust God because He has the plan and He will always do what is best for us.