Getting back in the groove

Well, to say that 2020 was a challenging year would be an understatement. It was a year full of surprises (both good and bad), unbelievable stresses, and so much more than I could have ever imagined.

On top of everything we had just gotten married (we celebrated our 1 year anniversary on December 25th!!) and found out that we were expecting. That in itself can be quite stressful but we were also dealing with our new house issues (which seem to be never ending) and it felt like things kept hitting us one right after another.

In January of 2020 we learned that our pregnancy was extremely high risk and the odds of making it to term and having our baby survive birth were very grim. I also began experiencing some pregnancy related issues with my thyroid and blood pressure which I’d never had issues with before.

I seriously felt like I was losing my mind and felt completely helpless about everything. I was doing my best to ‘hold it together’ and kept myself busy working on our new house so we could get moved in.

Then the COVID pandemic took over and so many restrictions were put into place. We moved into our home during the beginning of it and all the hopes we had of celebrating our accomplishments with friends and family were dashed.

That in itself was upsetting as we’d also been separated from our beloved square dance family and I was already beginning to feel isolated. As the following months followed that feeling grew and grew and I could feel a bit of depression trying to settle in.

My husband wasn’t allowed to come to appointments with me. I had to face all the grim news alone and I shed many tears in the doctor’s office. They pretty much got accustomed to me coming in with a smile and leaving with puffy red eyes… they hold even keep me in the room for a bit so I could collect myself after each appointment.

I can’t say that I blame them because it wouldn’t help reassure any mom-to-be that everything was going to be alright when they can obviously tell that something wasn’t ‘ok’ with me.

A lot of the tears came from what felt like a constant push from the doctors to ‘stop being selfish and do what was right’ and just terminate the pregnancy. I had to request that they not suggest or bring it up several times but they still did almost every time I went in.

There definitely was an internal battle going on because termination was not an option for me but was it true that I was being ‘selfish’? Several doctors insisted that our baby would have severe handicaps and would basically be a vegetable and would have no quality of life at all.

While dealing with all of these emotions my body was also shutting down. I had the thyroid issues, blood pressure issues, some cardiac issues, extreme nausea, kidney stones, and by the time we moved into our new home I was almost bedridden.

Everyday was a struggle just to get the basic things accomplished and make sure the kiddos were fed and such. I did my best to keep nourishing my body so the little one growing inside would get the best start possible but even that was a struggle as I had absolutely no energy or appetite.

I felt so bad that I wasn’t even doing what I needed to do to prepare for our little one’s impending arrival. Thankfully something clicked on me day and I decided that I wasn’t going to listen to anything negative but rather just focus on the positive.

Some of friends and family came together to have a ‘mail order’ baby shower and they sent tons of gifts. We took pictures of us opening the gifts and posted them on Facebook for everyone to see. It wasn’t the way things should’ve been but it was very uplifting to see how many people were praying and supporting us during such a difficult time.

The kiddos held up fairly well even though they missed being able to get out and do everything we had done previously. We had plans of zoo trips and museum adventures but all of that was put on hold due to COVID.

Needless to say our routines and schedules also fell by the wayside. I tried to keep the basic stuff going like laundry and some basic cleaning. I orchestrated as much as I could from the recliner and had chairs set up in every room so that I could have a place to sit when I needed to supervise activities.

Most of the meals were made as I sat at the kitchen island because walking short distances or standing for any amount of time would cause me to get short of breath and extremely lightheaded.

Seeing everything that needed to be done and trying to spend ‘quality’ time with my other kiddos felt like a complete failure… I just couldn’t juggle or multitask. I felt like I couldn’t ask for friends or family to come and help because of the COVID restrictions and I truly felt as though I was drowning.

I kept telling myself that once the baby got here things would get better and we’d get back into routine. I told myself that I’d have more time and energy to get things in order and straight when she got home.

We had already made plans for my daughters to be here when she was born so they could stay with the kiddos at home while I was at the hospital. Plane tickets had been bought and leave from work scheduled when little miss decided to come a couple of weeks early.

Once again our lives where thrown into a whirlwind as we tried to arrange childcare while I was in the hospital. Then when I was discharged it was another crazy mess and our routines flew out the window as I desperately tried to hold onto my sanity between keeping up with the house and kids, visiting the baby in the NICU, and trying to squeeze in times to pump, shower, eat, and sleep. Life was a crazy mess!

Shortly after she was born some of my family tested positive for COVID. Two of them fought for their lives and one didn’t make it. The not knowing how your loved one was doing and waiting on the doctor to call with updates was so hard. It was definitely a daily struggle as we’d wait for that call in the morning to let us know if they made it through the night and then wait for another call later that day if there had been any changes. It was just excruciating and so much to try to make sense of at one time.

Then a week or so later I got the call that our daughter had been exposed in the NICU. I just about fell to pieces when the doctor gave me the news. The one place where she should have been safest and she wasn’t safe at all. She was quarantined which was an emotional experience that I might share later but thankfully I was still allowed to visit with strict guidelines to follow.

Things settled down a tad when she got home but then we found ourselves overwhelmed with appointments and telemed visits with all of the specialists and therapists.

We had a nurse sent to us who has proven to be an angel on earth as we tried to adjust to having a medically complex baby in the house. Just as all of that seemed to get a bit more manageable it was getting close to time for her open heart surgery.

That too didn’t go as scheduled. We had arrangements made for big sister to come be with the kiddos so Mommy could stay at the hospital but the day before our pre-ops the office called to say that her surgery was being postponed until the following week.

We never got a call with a date and little miss decided she wasn’t waiting any longer and took things into her own little hands. She ended up being admitted on the Thursday before Halloween and had surgery the following Monday.

When we got back home there were no remnants of our past routines left. The house and everyone in it were just CHAOS… including the dog.

None of it really seemed to matter though as we were just basking in the revelation of just how blessed we were and how thankful we were to have our family together again. All I can say is that God has had us in the palm of his hand and he has taken care of us through it all.

Just after Thanksgiving we lost another family member as well. I didn’t take it well because I had promised I’d be back to visit and I hadn’t been able to because of the pregnancy and COVID. I have found comfort knowing that I’ll see all of them again and that they are truly in a better place.

The past two months I’ve just truly been in survival mode. I’ve tried to ‘fake it until you make it’ but I’m not making it anywhere yet. It’s been so hard to be so completely and utterly out of control when I am not accustomed to this. I’m not a control freak but I did like having our schedules and routines to keep us in check.

Last week I was so unhappy and couldn’t really figure out why. I mean we are so blessed in so many ways but when I looked around my house it was (and currently still is) total chaos. I’ve never had my house to be in such disarray… from dirty socks hanging out in the living room, empty toilet paper rolls playing in the bathroom, cobwebs everywhere I look, and everyone running around like sugar laden zombies not knowing what to do next.

Ok, maybe the sugar laden zombies were my doing as I went a little overboard with the Christmas goodies but now it’s time to get back on track.

Several times over the past few months I’ve really tried to get back in routine but I keep skipping off track like a scratched record… things are going along beautifully and then out of nowhere we hit a bump or two and can’t seem to find our groove again.

Well, this is a new year and I am determined to get back on track. I’m going to take it one day at a time with everything. I did invest in a couple of nice calendars and have all of our important dates and appointments written down.

The calendars also have areas to write notes/goals so I may start utilizing those spaces to help keep me in check.

I had an app on my phone that helped me keep track of routines but sometime over the past year they all disappeared! Thankfully I’ve written a few posts about our routines and schedules so I can reference them to help get back on track. I also have some routines printed out.

I plan to use all of these resources to get some new routines going by setting up my daily priorities and building on those. I’ve been told that I’ve just been trying to do too much and there is a possibility that I have.

Having a houseful of kiddos who depend on you can be overwhelming but when you add a new baby it is definitely overwhelming at times. When you add that a couple of the kiddos are special needs and that the littlest one is medically complex things can get interesting.

Setting priorities

Over the past month a lot of things have come to light about the paperwork for our house… things that weren’t correct and so it’s been a mess trying to get it all sorted out as well. It’s also been stressful as things are here and there and I have to search through this pile and that pile to find the correct paperwork.

One of my main priorities this month will be to get my ‘office space’ set up. I’ve been waiting for this and that to happen but for now I’m just going to need to make do with what I already have so I can have a space that functions for our household.

Another priority will be getting the kids clothes organized because they are a hot mess!!! I need to get rid of the clothes that are too small because my boys have been coming out with some interesting outfits in the mornings. I have already tackled my closet and the baby’s dresser and I have a plan to tackle the other areas and hope to start this week.

Then we also need to get back to homeschooling… yeah, we’ve had a few breaks but they are learning important skills everyday even if we don’t have our noses in the books everyday.

I’ve also sat down this morning and planned out a few THM meals for myself because those sugary treats didn’t zombify me but they have made me a little extra squishy… ūüôĄ

I know that sometimes when we feel like things are playing like a broken record we can be tempted to throw it all out the window and start new but if we know that the songs/routines were good we shouldn’t just start new. We can clean them up a little and keep going over them again and again until we find the right groove again. It just takes a little time and patience to see it through.

Having a plan to get things going makes me feel better and I’m going to pull out those old routines and see how I can clean them up to get back in my groove because I know that I’ll feel better and everyone will benefit from having a happy Momma in the house.

Colds, a collapsed well, and some deep cleaning

It’s New Year’s Eve and I, along with many others, will be glad to be putting 2020 behind me. It was a rough year in so many ways. We did have quite a few good things that came from it, like our beautiful baby girl, but it seemed like something new and even more ominous was lurking behind every corner.

Such a cutie!
Continue reading “Colds, a collapsed well, and some deep cleaning”

Finding Time With Routines And Schedules

I know how busy life gets and we all… ok, most us… feel like we need more time every now and then, right? Well, there are only 24 hours in a day and we can’t make more time no matter how hard we try so that means we just need to find ways to use our time more wisely.

First things first…

First, we need to get our priorities straight and make sure we are getting the things are done that need to get done like feeding everyone and making sure they have clean clothes to wear. We should probably make sure we clean the house from time to time and if you homeschool you gotta have time for that too. Not to mention that there are so many other things like appointments, grocery shopping, and other obligations that happen every day.

Click here to read about our Google Home Hub has helped this busy Momma keep our routines and schedules organized.

Sometimes it seems like there is no time left for the fun stuff but I promise that routines can help. I have written many a post about our routines here. Our routines help keep us running smoothly most of the time. The routines work when we follow them and sometimes we don’t but we quickly realize how much we need them. As soon as we get back on routine our lives get less chaotic.

I have included some pics and screenshots of our different routines and schedules below but please don’t think this is complicated. Ours are far more complicated than most as we have a lot of things going on here and I need these to keep myself and my household organized. Every family is different and every set of routines will be different What works for us may not work for you but feel free to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines and/or schedules.

Continue reading “Finding Time With Routines And Schedules”

Wishes To Reality Update

As you probably know from reading our latest posts we have been staying CRAZY BUSY in 2019 just like we did before. However, even though our schedules have been busy I have been trying to work in some changes, a couple at a time, to help us turn those wishes into realities.

My first wish…

My first wish of having the kids to listen better seems to be going along fairly well. I have been making it a point to work more one on one with each of them as I can. I have also not had to speak to them as much because I’ve gone over what I expect and given them a list of rewards for when the goals are met or some consequences if they aren’t met.

I had also noticed that I was yelling more… ok, I felt like I was yelling. People sometimes laugh when I apologize for yelling because my yelling doesn’t seem like yelling to them… anyways I was having to talk much louder than I preferred and I didn’t like that. Did you know that yelling makes it seem like you aren’t in control? Well, that was definitely not the message I wanted to convey to this little army I have here!

Check out the Positive Parenting Solutions to learn how to stop the YELLING!

I also know that yelling doesn’t fit into the overall picture of wanting to create a more loving and peaceful home. We have a small home so when one or two people start yelling it begins to sound a bit like a busy coffee shop in NYC!

Continue reading “Wishes To Reality Update”

A New School Routine For The New Year

Continue reading “A New School Routine For The New Year”

Large Family Planning Calendar For The New Year

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I know most of us are probably not ready to think about the New Year as we are in the midst of holiday choas right now but with as many kiddos as I have I am always looking ahead. There are doctor appointments, dentist appointments, birthdays, and so many other events that I need to keep organized.

Our calendars keep our day to day activities running smoothly and help to keep us prepared for upcoming events. They are vital to keeping this Momma sane!

What features do you look for in a calendar? I know I like it to have enough room to write things in the blocks. I also like to have the moon phases and holidays on the calendar.

Do you like the stickers or not? I kinda like the idea of stickers and it helps me to tell at a glance what we have coming up if there are stickers on it.

While I absolutely love my Cozi mobile app and I always have it pulled up on my laptop. I keep everything from appointments to recipes on my Cozi calendar and my family members all have access to it as well. I still like to have a wall calendar as well so that I can refer to it quickly if I’m on the phone or if Mr. Awesome needs to double check something he can refer to it as well.

This led me to check out Amazon for some new planning calendars today. There is such a selection to choose from I’m really not sure which one I want to get yet but here are a few of the ones I’ve found:

Continue reading “Large Family Planning Calendar For The New Year”

Why I Quit Homeschooling My Kids

**This post may contain affiliate links to certain products we use in our home. 

It’s true! I’ve quit homeschooling my kids… at least temporarily. We’ve had a busy hectic schedule here and everyone is off routine which means total CHAOS here. We originally planned to start back this past Monday, and we did, but things just didn’t ‘feel’ right. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been so stressed with everything going but I am just not in the right mindset at the moment.

Missing Materials

I didn’t have time to plan like I had wanted so Monday and Tuesday felt so ‘rushed’ and ‘chaotic’ that I was ready to cry several times. We had planned a ‘First Day of School’ video but that didn’t turn out well either as partway through the video I realized we were missing some important pieces to our ‘Morning Table Time’. Sigh… it wasn’t pretty as I went digging through drawers and folders to find everything and then trying to find a place to put it back up was another matter.

I do have most of the first few weeks planned out on our Homeschool Manager app but I still had a few blocks that I wanted to ‘fill in’ with some fun activities. If I couldn’t find something I wanted to use I had planned on making a couple of things. Well, with my trip to PA that hasn’t happened. I just really haven’t felt like doing much of anything since we got back and it has really shown this week. Continue reading “Why I Quit Homeschooling My Kids”

Homeschooling Through The Unexpected

**This post does contain some affiliate links which could possibly earn me a small commission if a purchase was made through them. These links help to support our blog and our family.

We’ve all been there… or some of us have. I was once a very efficient, organized, multitasking homeschooling Momma. I still am for the most part but I have learned that you also need a lot of flexibility and patience.

There will be times when your plans go perfectly and everything seems to be so easy. But then there will be times when your homeschool is complete CHAOS! This can happen in the blink of an eye and without warning. Continue reading “Homeschooling Through The Unexpected”

Homeschool Manager Giveaway

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If you read my post ‘Homeschool Organization. Simple. Flexible.‘ then you can only guess how excited I am to be announcing this giveaway! If you haven’t read that post I encourage you to go check it out ASAP.

Click Here to Enter To Win One Year of Homeschool Manager for Free!

The only requirements are that you need to signup for Homeschool Managers¬†Free 30 day ‚Äď No Card Required ‚Äď Trial ¬†and comment below to let me know that you have done so. Also please be sure to enter your information in the Rafflecopter form in the link above or the one below!

Click Here to Enter To Win One Year of Homeschool Manager for Free!

Deadline to Enter is 8/18/18 @ 12:00am!

Good Luck!

Be sure to share this awesome giveaway with your friends and on your social media also keep an eye out for another giveaway coming soon on one of our Facebook pages.

Homeschool Organization. Simple. Flexible.

This post is sponsored and includes affiliate links, yet the opinions are my true opinions, as always.  We really do love using this program in our home and I feel that you will too!

‘Scheduling and planning that’s flexible and organized.’

Has the idea of keeping track of lesson plans and schedules got you feeling overwhelmed? The thought of keeping records for report cards, transcripts, and attendance can be enough to make anyone second guess their idea to homeschool.

Just a few years ago I was overwhelmed with the task of record keeping for my large brood. I had one child who needed transcripts and several others in multiple grades with different needs. I was suffering from an informational overload trying to sort it all out and make everything work together without losing my sanity.

Then on October 8th of 2015, with the help of my friend Google, I found the perfect app for our family. It was Homeschool Manager. It sounded so easy and I decided to give it a try.

They had me at the Free 30 day РNo Card Required РTrial period which was more than enough time for me to know that this was just what we needed. This one tool IMMEDIATELY brought order to the homeschool chaos we had. (Our Cozi app keeps the rest of our life running smoothly.)

Homeschool Manager completely changed my life and has allowed our homeschool to be the productive and fun learning environment I had envisioned!

Homeschool Manager also gives us the flexibility to adapt and reorder our school year as needed when life throws us an unexpected curve ball or two. We can also easily rearrange our schedule to fit in time for new learning experiences that pop up. We have been able to be more spontaneous and have had the ability to incorporate so many more spur of the moment activities into our homeschool which has allowed our children to have a much more fulfilling and enriching learning experience.

Portfolios are so EASY with Homeschool Manager!

Continue reading “Homeschool Organization. Simple. Flexible.”

Simplify Your Life: Step 5 Get Organized

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

This post is part of a multi-section post in honor of National Simplify Your Life week which is the first week of August. The original post wasn’t as short and simple as I had wanted it to be so I decided to break it down into a few shorter posts.

Step 5 Get Organized

Whoa! I know this one may be not be easy for some but you can do it! I know you can. Did you that the average person spends about 12 days every year looking for things? I think a Momma spends twice that amount. That’s at least 30-45 minutes a day wasted because you aren’t organized!

Imagine how much money you could save if you had a system for organizing your bills and getting them paid on time! This tip goes along with Step #6 and should come after you have completed Step #4.

Please don’t try to organize until you’ve declutter because it may get too overwhelming.¬†I recently decluttered and organized our whole house and let me tell you that it has made a HUGE difference in our lives! Everyone can find anything at any time and everything has a place.

Getting organized can include things like setting reminders for birthdays, appointments, paying bills, or important events. We have reminders set for just about everything else like library due dates, semi annual bills, some chores, etc. I even have reminders for the due dates for our club’s newsletters and updates.

The easiest tool I have found to keep me organized is my Cozi calendar. I have it on my laptop, my phone, and my tablet. I have also installed it on Mr. Awesome’s phone and my ex husband has access to our calendar as well. That way everyone knows when we have upcoming appointments and events. Cozi even sends out email reminders!

This makes my life so much simpler as I don’t have to worry about forgetting important things, as long as I have remembered to enter them into the calendar. I also use Cozi for my meal planning so I if I forget my grocery list, or if I forget to make one, I can quickly check my phone for what I need to get.¬†Cozi¬†also has so many other great (FREE) resources to help you organize and simplify your life.

If you don’t have a smart phone or don’t want to install another app you can still use most phones to set reminders. You can also use paper and pencil, post its, or find a nice planner to help you organized. I used to carry a small one around in my purse but now I just use my phone which can be aggravating if the service isn’t great.

For keeping our homeschool schedules straight I like to use Homeschool Manager which I believe is coming out with a mobile app. This has helped so much with keeping track of what needs to be done and what has been done. Not too mention the fact that we can instantly print our attendance reports and report cards which is great. So simple and easy!

These ideas may seem like I am contradicting Step #2 but I think that technology is a great thing if used correctly.

In addition to these ideas you may want to work on setting up systems/routines for handling the following:

  • mail/paperwork
  • housework
  • filing
  • bill paying

Keep your systems simple and work on them to make them easy and efficient. Being organized can keep you from forgetting things and save you so much time and money! This can help to reduce your stress and simplify your life. The next step will have more about routines. 

Need ideas to get started? Check out these books here and here. You can also get my FREE printable bill organization spreadsheet by clicking on the link provided.

You can also check out Make Over Your Year for more ideas.

Be sure to check out the other post in this series for more simple ways to simplify your life.

Click for Step 6.

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Anybody Else Have The Day After Christmas Blues?

We survived Christmas! However the house is a complete wreck. I’ll post some pics below. This Christmas, actually this whole year, has been unlike any other before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it has been hard because we’ve been knocked out of routine so many times. However we always get back on track, eventually, and find our normal again. (Our normal varies from day to day with so many kiddos and their special needs.) Continue reading “Anybody Else Have The Day After Christmas Blues?”