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.

 

 

 

St. Nicholas Day 2016

**This post does contain affiliate links.

This was our first year celebrating St. Nicholas Day here at our house. I am hoping to keep this new tradition and continue to build on it as we go through the years. Below are some of the ways that we celebrated today:

The night before, after our Advent Study, we set out our stockings. Many traditions involve setting out shoes, but we chose to use our stockings because Momma didn’t want to put the shoes on the table. The kids also made some chocolate chip cookies with DD17. Then they left a glass of milk and a plate of cookies for St. Nick to snack on.

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Sometime after the kids went to bed St. Nick made a visit by our house.

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They each received a book, a coloring book, a small toy, and a few candies. (Santa picked all of these up at the Dollar Tree.) The kids were eager to check their stockings first thing. He even left a few items for Grandpa, DD17, DS21, and Momma.

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After everyone’s curiosity was satisfied we had a special breakfast…. Santa Pancakes!

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We happened to be having some really heavy rains today so Momma cancelled school due to the internet being really slow. Good thing Momma had some other activities planned out. (You can find a list of activities HERE.)

We read the Santa Who? book. We also had some coloring sheets and activities that I had printed from my St. Nicholas board on Pinterest. We also watched a few videos about Christmas.

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We also put up our Christmas tree! This was probably one of the most exciting things about the day for the kids. (We also watched a video about how the Christmas tree became to be a symbol of Christmas.)

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All in all it was a really good day. I think this will help us to keep the focus that Jesus is the reason for Christmas while also answering the numerous questions that arise about Santa Claus. It also honors the work that St. Nicholas did.

Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner?

I would have loved to invite Santa for dinner but I didn’t know anyone who would be available on such short notice. (I do have a Santa outfit in the building that we use for our Polar Express parties.) If you decide to start this tradition in your own house then do whatever you want to make it special to your family.

Merry Christmas!

December 5, 2017

Good morning ya’ll! Today is a work in progress for me. I woke up with a bad case of vertigo and then both of my legs were asleep! This made it quite a difficult, and probably hilarious, trip to the bathroom as I really had to pee. Anyway I am feeling much better now, Thank you Jesus!, and our morning is going along quite smoothly. I am almost afraid to say that as I don’t want to jinx myself.

I have the Christmas music playing, the kids have had breakfast and are playing quietly in the play room, there has been no tattling, and the kitchen is clean. DS4 brought the hamper to the laundry room (without being asked), loaded the washer, and took the hamper back to his closet. What is happening here? Did I mention that DS21 was home and carried the trash out to the road? I really hate doing that task and I am so thankful he was here and that he took care of it.

Instead of questioning, I will just thank the good Lord for his blessings and enjoy this moment of blissful peace. These moments are few and far between but I am thankful for each and every one of them. What are you thankful for today? Take a few moments and think of at least five things to thank God right now for. You will feel so much better. Often times we remember Him when we need something but we forget to thank Him when things are going good.

Is there someone in your life that you are truly blessed to have? Let them know how much they mean to you. Do a little something special to show them how much you appreciate them. This will not only make you feel better but it will also encourage them and lift them up. The holidays can be really stressful for everyone for a variety of different reasons and you never know when your actions or words can be just what they need to go from having a bad day to having a great day!

In another note, I am also working with a couple of different companies to receive some products for our homeschool activities and for my special needs son. I will be reviewing these items and hopefully showing how we use them in our daily life here. I am so excited for these opportunities and pray the God will continue to bless our family and use our lives to bless others.

 

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

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!

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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. Continue reading “It’s Natalie not Octomom”

Taking out the trash.

Continue reading “Taking out the trash.”