Large Family Happenings, Life or Something Like It

Baby Shower, Bridal Shower, Birthdays, Bathrooms

Baby Shower, Bridal Shower, Birthdays, BathroomsBaby Shower, Bridal Shower, Birthdays, Bathrooms

Can I just say that I can sometimes overwhelm even myself?  Well, I do.  More times than not, I get myself into more things than I should.  So, now I’m in the middle of a Baby Shower, Bridal Shower, Birthdays, Bathrooms.  In between November and the end of March, and (of course) the holidays, there is a lot happening.  We have about 12 birthdays and anniversaries.  Then there is my first grandbaby that will make her appearance.  Now, we have to slap in a baby shower, bridal shower, and a 5-day hospital stay and you have my life in a nutshell.  All birthdays went very well.

Baby Shower

With that being said, a baby shower is a must.  Due to covid restrictions, we did a virtual baby shower at my house.  My sister came and my kids.  We ate, she opened gifts, and we had fun.  She got a ton of stuff for Charleigh Mae and they are very thankful.

It is so surreal to see your daughter pregnant with her first daughter.  She is so beautiful.  This pregnancy has not been easy for her.  She has struggled with all-day sickness, loss of appetite, and all the other fun things that happen.  Yet, she has handled it beautifully.

She is going to be such an amazing little mama.  I can’t even contain my excitement.  Who would have ever thought I’d be excited to be a grandmother.  Honestly, who ever thought I was mature enough to be a grandmother.  Yet, here I am.

Bridal Shower

We had scheduled the shower for a week before the wedding.  I just couldn’t get it all done in such a squashed amount of time.  Sadly, Alyssa got really sick before the shower.  We knew she didn’t have covid19, so we assumed it was a bug or the flu.  Since we weren’t sure, we decided to postpone it.  If it was a stomach bug, Arkie could have gotten it and there are a lot of immunosuppressed people in our lives.

Arkie never got sick, but other things ended up happening.  We had a hospital stay (Hunter) and a snowstorm because that is just how things roll.  It got pushed back to the day before the wedding.  We were trying to get a date that his mom could be there, but due to the storm, it just didn’t happen.

It got done and they had a good time. We were all tired but the kids seemed to enjoy opening their gifts.  Luckily, we got great pictures that I will send to his mom.

Rehearsal

That was something as well.  It seems nothing wanted to go smoothly.  This snowstorm just threw a wrench into all the things.  His family was not able to travel to the rehearsal because they got more snow than we did.  I hated that for them.

We were able to get in and get a lot of decorations done.  Most of the people who were in the wedding was able to come.  I’m so glad there is a trial run because that’s when I got all of my squalling out.  Those songs she picked.  Geez.  I was crying, my mom, the girls…it was a cry fest.

We ordered pizza and just came back to the house to eat.  After eating, they opened gifts.  Then, we cooked for the wedding.  It was a long and crazy night.  After all that was done, we snuggled for a good long time.  Sigh, that girl has my heart.

Bathroom Remodel

To add to our fun, we decided to do a remodel on our bathroom.  A few years ago, my boys got into a scuffle and things happened.  One boy aggrevated another boy.  Then, the other boy pushed the one boy.  That boy’s butt went through my wall.

I have not used that bathroom in a long time because I get so mad that all I see is his full butt print.  There are 2 cheeks and a crack.  I bought stuff to redo it, my way, because we weren’t getting it done any other way.  Bart stepped in and did some work.  Then, he made some phone calls.

Once that happened, all the things happened.  We now have a new shower, the toilet was already fairly new, bought new flooring.  Our friend ordered new closet doors.  The next big thing is to get the sinks out, new ones bought, and installation.

Go Big or Go Home

So, all this stuff, at my house, happened with a torn up bathroom.  That and a front closet FULL of Charleigh Mae’s gifts, a corner in the living room FULL of Alyssa’s gifts, and birthday presents.  Upstairs was full of wedding stuff.  I mean, there is stuff every where and I haven’t known which way is up and which way is down.

Honestly, I wouldn’t know how to do something 1/2 way.  I have got to do it all they way and then add a little spice.  It’s what dreams are made of.

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Family Update February 2021

Family Update February 2021Family Update February 2021

Here is our BUSY Family Update February 2021.  For the shortest month of the year, it *feels* like this month lasted 428 years.  So.  Very.  Busy.  That meme cracks me up.  I’m not sure if it is my guardian angel, my mama, sister, or therapist.  Maybe all of them do that when I tell them something new.  Tis my life.

School

Still, Job Corp is not open.  I believe, to date, one has opened, so that is progress.  Right?  Noah got accepted into MSU and got his financial aid going.  He is figuring things out, so I don’t have to.  We’ve decided that Hunter will have his therapies at school.  Virtual therapy is STUPID.  It is seriously the dumbest thing ever.  He will only be at the school for an hour and a half.  Physical therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech will all be done weekly.  Maybe we will see some progress.

As for the boys, Jude is doing well.  He is learning to take his time.  The school gives him the ability to redo his assignments, but not tests or quizzes. He is learning to ask questions and study.  It has been a journey.  Daniel is struggling.  With FASD, it is hard.  Teachers “see” one thing (virtually), yet life is another.  We are going to take him 2x a week for tutoring.  After much back and forth, we adjusted his 504.  Praying that is going to help.

Happenings

There have been lots of birthdays this month.  Grayce, Hunter, Alyssa, Mimi, daddy, and several nephews have celebrated.  Also, we had a wedding shower for Alyssa on Hunter’s birthday.  That is one way to crunch it all in.  Originally, we had a separate day to do their share. Sadly, Alyssa got the flu or a stomach bug.  She was pretty pitiful.  We were not certain what she had, so we canceled until the 19th.  That would be one day before her wedding.

The rehearsal didn’t quite go as planned because there was a major snow/ice moment.  We considered postponing the wedding.  It was touch and go.  Alyssa was a wreck.  Arkie was a rock on the outside, still unsure of what lies beneath.  We got that done, without Arkie’s family.  Sadly, they got more snow than we did and just couldn’t make the trip.  I know that was a hard decision for them to make.

Once home, we did their shower.  Luckily, both my moms were here.  Hannah and Savannah were here.  Once the parents left, we started cooking.  We were all so tired but got it done.  Then, my girl came and snuggled with me until about 2 am.  Sigh.  Worth it all for that moment.

Wedding

All in all, we got it done.  My daughter was breathtaking.  Simply breathtaking.  Arkie.  I tied his tie and saw this sweetness in his eyes.  He really is a sweet boy.  Change is just hard.  Alyssa.  Stunning.  His family was able to come home.  The sun was shining.  Her pictures will be so beautiful with her flowers and the snow.

My mom knocked it out of the park with her flowers, doors, and all the things she creates.  She is brilliant.  My other mom was so helpful.  I’m so thankful my aunt was able to come.  The boys kicked in and helped clean up.  The food was good, the company was good.  Alyssa was so full of joy.  Arkie was so excited about his apple pies.

Health

Big Daddy was diagnosed with diabetes.  He has lost a lot of weight and his sugar levels are really good.  My plantar fasciitis sucks pond water.  That is in my right foot.  In my left foot, I’ve lost feeling in a couple of toes and the top of my foot.  It is due to a bone spur.  Eventually, when I lose feeling in more toes, we’ll address it.  My essential tremors have calmed down as have my psoriasis.

We have some upcoming appointments with Daniel to have him assessed for autism.  Honestly, we have always suspected it but as he gets older, things become more prominent.  Also, we have some upcoming appointments for Jude.  We are hoping to get some help with his FND.  Hunter had a massive treatment that I will address in another post.  So, stay tuned.

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Family Update January 2021

Family Update January 2021

Family Update January 2021

I believe it is time for a large Family Update January 2021.  SO much has gone on with everyone in my house.  I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  Honestly, I do not remember the last time *I* deep cleaned my house.  Sleep is not my friend, my emotions are on edge, and I have gained weight.  Also chopped my hair off, but that is a different story.

January

We started off the year with no school.  Really, no different for us because we were already doing virtual school.  This involved getting Daniel enrolled in high school.  He was coming off of being gone for several weeks and we had to enroll him.  There was a lot of togetherness.  We were all pretty much sick of each other.  Let’s be honest, we’ve been sick of each other since Covid19 and quarantine began.

We had the baby shower for Charleigh.  Again, not what we wanted but what is necessary due to the pandemic.

Counseling Continued and Began for Some

I continued on with counseling through January.  Honestly, it is nice to talk to someone but still frustrating.  I want to see more results, heal more, resolve more.  The boys also started counseling.  Honestly, the jury is still out on it.  They are with the same group as I am, but 2 different fellows.  We shall see how this pans out.  I hope it is successful.  We have goals.  There has been on revelation type opinion that we are further seeking out.

School

Again, it has not been the best experience.  I know the teachers are doing their best, but it is so hard for the students who struggle with special needs.  It’s almost like they are just continuing to ignore and let these kids fall through the cracks.  Just get by.

The kids do get the opportunity to retake homework and such to better their grades.  Yet, one of my kids needs more.  He struggles but no one sees it because he can work really hard and make passing grades.  The invisible disease of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, possible autism, and a host of all the other things make education hard.

I am not impressed with the level of care the administration has for my son.  They said that there is nothing really that they can do and I find that disturbing.  Hunter is doing well, for the most part

Technical School and College

Job Corp is still not open, so we are in limbo.  The county that this particular school is in has to go “orange” in order to open.  College is going well for my son.  In the fall, he will begin going to Murray State.  He will start his junior year.  Where did the time go?

Health

It’s been a hard month OMS-wise.  The shaking is pretty significant in his hands.  His behavior is hard.  Schoolwise, he is doing really well.  Jude had one seizure this month.  We did up his meds for epilepsy.  He has not had any more Non-Epileptic Seizures.  The Functional Neurological Disorder stuff is a work in progress.  Daniel is transitioning home fairly well.  It has been an adjustment with him being home.

Family

Bart is okay.  Work is a struggle.  Covid19 sucks.  Bug and Ben are well.  Baby is doing great!  I’m so excited to meet her.  Alyssa and Arkie are engaged.  So, there’s that.  G … life as it happens.  Noah is good, busy, but good.  I pretty much gave the update on the younger boys.

For me, I’m tired.  Old.  Tired.  Trying to find time for self-care.  This level of parenting is so different.  It isn’t physically exhausting as much.  For me, it is mentally and emotionally exhausting.  I just want to be and do all the things for all the kids.  Sadly, I can’t.

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Life or Something Like It

A Little Less Scrambled with a Side of Squirrel

A Little Less Scrambled with a Side of SquirrelA Little Less Scrambled with a Side of Squirrel

Last week, I was a little scrambled with my intentions.  The other day, however, I was A Little Less Scrambled with a Side of Squirrel.  I slept in till about 9:30 and then headed downstairs to see what awaited me.

Kids.

Kids awaited me.

And dogs and cats and Big Daddy.

I did have a goal and that was to cut hair.  There are lots of heads of hair that I needed to trim up.  When there is such a need, what does one do?  Well, they call their mama.  So, I called my mama.  We chatted a good bit while I pet the dogs.

The resolve to do anything was dissipating by about 10 am.  I sat down to work on my calendar, check emails, and such.  Jude got out ground beef for supper and I got him off to basketball practice.  We are in a bit of a conundrum because we are down a vehicle so everything has to work together well in order for everyone to get from point A to point B.

In the midst of life

I went into, what is now Hunter and Daniel’s room.  See, we only have 3 bedrooms downstairs so we have had to play musical rooms for a long time.  When we had all the kids here, we had 3 boys in a room, 2 girls in a room, a big girl in her own room, and Hunter up here.

Now that 2 kids have moved out, we have 1 girl in a room and the other 2 rooms have 2 boys each.  Originally we had Noah (18) and Daniel (15) in a room, but that did not work out for specific reasons.  Now, we have Noah (18) and Jude (13) in a room. D and Hunter share a room.  D has a loft bed, so that frees up space to add a desk for him.

When we got our new bed, upstairs, we moved the massive cabinets downstairs to D and H’s room, so they would have space to put their clothes.  It has all be a process.  All that being said, I have a front “coat closet” that we have added shelves to and cubbies.  This has been Hunter’s “room” for a long time.

Glorified Coat Closet

I use the word “room” lightly because all it has in there are his toys, dress-up clothes, and books.  It does not have any doors on it.  We took those off when he got sick because it was too hard to maneuver his gait walker or wheelchair in that space.  This space is ALWAYS a mess.  It looks like a 5 yr old boy plays in there and that is perfectly fine, but it gets on my nerves.

We need to paint it, as well as the hall, and change some things up.  Yet, it is functional, he uses it every day and we try and keep it contained.  I decided to move things around and move ALL his toys into his room.

Reduce and watch your kids’ imaginations soar.

That was a success.  We threw away a lot of stuff and we put up a lot of stuff.  By the phrase “put up” that means that I bagged up what he didn’t play with and I took it out of his toy “rotation.”

When a kid has fewer options to play with, you will find that they start actually playing.  An influx of toys can cause a kid to have sensory overload because they do not know what to play with because of all the colors, textures, noises, etc.

I rotate every 6 months so he feels like he is getting new things often 🙂  Smart girl, I know!  While I was moving from here to there to yonder, Alyssa came home.

Legos

We found ourselves talking at the kitchen table with a massive amount of legos.  So, what do 2 squirrely girls do?  We color code the legos and then arrange them by shape…yes sir, that is what we do.

When we finished talking, we were finished with our squirrel sorting…then, she went to the bedroom to help me finish my task of organizing.  Guess what we did?  Oh, yes we did!  We took over 10,000 pieces of legos, dumped them, and sorted them by color and shape.

Clearly, we have issues or a lot to chat about.  After about 2 hours of not getting the room done, not cleaning the original closet out, not starting supper, not cutting hair, and not accomplishing anything other than color-coding/sizing legos…we gave up.

I will have you know that it was a sense of accomplishment that lasted 0.4 seconds!  We did end up finishing that room and closet.  I did cut hair and cook supper.  It was late, but it was done!

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Debt:  Money Making TipDebt: Money Making Tip.  As I am decluttering my mind and working on my FACTORY RESET, I am also physically decluttering.  I do not know why my mind is working this way, but as I look at my attic, my garage, and just the stuff around my house…I think I do not want my kids/husband to have to go through all this crap and make decisions for me when I die.

Morbid, I Know.

Maybe, the older I get, the more I think about mortality.  My sister just lost her mother in law.  Granted, she was in her 80s, but still….it still hurts even though we know she is with Christ and would never want to come back to this Earth again.  Maybe it is the fact that my son took a nap and then woke up to our lives changed forever.  Maybe I just want to live a more minimalistic life.

I don’t know.

I love Jesus

Anyway, as I was decluttering my bedroom, I decided to go through my masses of books.  Bibles, school books, devotionals, kids books….so many books.  I read once, that your bedroom (couples bedroom) should be free of clutter.  Seriously, like have nothing under the bed.  Only peaceful things on the walls and no sign of your kids LOL…no pictures or anything.  Now, I can’t quite go that far, but I did clean out from under my bed.  Amazingly, I even vacuumed under there (nasty).

It was a blessing to give away 2 pieces of large furniture that we do not use.  I condensed the entertainment system to just a tv and our router boxes.  Lastly, I hung up some things on the wall.  I’m working on the closet.  One day, I decluttered and got rid of SO many things from the attic.  Finally, I organized all of that.  Now, I have this massive bookcase full of books and books in my closet.

Homeschooling

I have homeschooled for 18 years and I have decided to get rid of all my old school books (with the exception of the math books).  They are all gone.  Glorious day.  Next, I tackled that bookcase.  I kept all my Bibles and some devotionals that I matriculate to quite often.

The other books…just collected dust.  I didn’t read them and there they sat, helping no one.  Someone else could get some use out of those books.

Fantastically enough, I donated 98% of them to our local library.  The other books, I sold on a website called BOOKSTORES.  You put in your ISBN number and then they give you a price they will pay.  It is free shipping (on a refund of $35 or more) and money in your pocket.  Not a lot, but it is better than taking up space and collecting dust.

DVD Collection

As for the mass of DVDs that I had and didn’t want anymore, I sold some of them on DECLUTTR.  They also provide free shipping (no minimum refund).  All you have to do, for both sites, is print off the shipping label.  I ended up making almost $80 on stuff that was taking up space.  I took a van load off to the local consignment shop, so I will, hopefully, make some money with that. All the extra money is going towards debt!

It feels SO good to have this stuff done and gone.  The more I declutter, the more clear my mind is.  Isn’t that crazy.  Just too much.  My kids have too much and they have SO much that they don’t even know what to do.

Kitchen and Living Room

I have finished the kitchen and the living room. The pantry and the laundry room are done.  I have done my bathroom, my van, and the attic.  I think I have the garage left, the downstairs bathroom, and the kids’ rooms’.  Onward and upward….tomorrow, I shall tackle the school closet and the game closet.  If I have enough moxy, I will work a bit in the garage.  Everything is in the middle of the garage, I just do a little bit at a time because it is hotter than Satan’s armpit outside and I don’t like to sweat.

Happy Decluttering!

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Corraling The Chaos of a Large Family

 

Corraling The Chaos of a Large FamilyI do believe I may have found my tiny ship of order….at least for the time being.

Corraling The Chaos of a Large Family

Corraling The Chaos of a Large Family.  I have kids. Lots of kids.  There are also my extra kids.  Kids are everywhere.
I don’t see myself as having a “mega” family because I don’t.  When I think of a “mega” family, I think of the Bates family or the Duggars.  I’m just a snowflake in a blizzard compared to those families.
I have 7 kids.  Also, I have 2 bonus girls who come around.  Oh wait, I also have a son in law. That’s it.
Just Big Daddy, me, Bug, Peach, Gigi, Boo, Catfish, Little Man, Zebra, Hannah, Morgie Loo, Eye Candy, and Black Bart.  I don’t feed them all, every day…on max, I feed about 9 people a day…again, this is a small family, to me.

I do not believe in giving a kid a cell phone until they are 16 and driving.

Yes, I’m the oddball out, and yes my kids have received backlash for my decision, but seriously…what does a 10 yr old need with a phone.  Granted, some circumstances require a younger child to have a cellphone (a divorced situation, latchkey kid, etc.), but we are a 2 parent family, and I’m always home.  My 11 yr old is not going to text me while he is in the bathroom needing toilet paper and I’m in the living room.  It is as simple as that.

All that being said

I have a daughter who is married…which yields me a son in law (gasp and sigh).  A son who works and a daughter who is old enough to have a phone, but lost that privilege (yes, if I’m paying for it a cell phone is a privilege, not a right)….then there is Big Daddy and me.  Our schedules are nuts, especially with a medically fragile child and another child in a traveling baseball league.  I never know where everyone is at.

Forgetfulness

I forget to tell the kids about important doctor’s appointments. Sadly, I always forget baseball (thankfully his coach sends a reminder text).  Also, I forget appointments that are not in the realm of my medically fragile son.  I’m getting older, so I just merely forget, and the kids (and Big Daddy) are tired of telling me the same thing 500 times.  To the kids, however, the most important thing they want to know is what our menu for the week is and if they all want to come to eat here.

TimeTree

I have *finally* found my saving grace.  I LOVE it.  The kids tolerate it, and Big Daddy doesn’t pay attention…but it helps me, and that’s what’s important 🙂  It is a SHARED calendar called (so sad I have to look at the name because I forgot it) TimeTree.  It is free, and it spans across iPhones and Android phones.  All you have to do the primary person (me) has to set up the account, and then I invite everyone else.  They accept the invite, download the app, and we are good to go.  I have titled our calendar as “Family Calendar” because you can have other ones on there as well.

Organization

In this calendar, we each have a color and our name (mine is Eagle Eye LOL).  We add to the calendar all our appointments, work schedules, and mainly my menu.  If the kids see something they like, they text me and say they are coming for dinner.  Once a week, I give a kid a night, and they choose the menu for me.  So, I’m guaranteed one night a week with all my kids.  They are thrilled, and I’m excited I don’t have to figure out what to cook once a week 🙂  We add birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and our upcoming “cake eating” preparations days.
In my opinion…I freaking love it!

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That Moment When You Have Had Enough

That Moment When You Have Had Enough

That Moment When You Have Had Enough.

When you have stood all that you can stand?

When you have had enough of doctors who think they are God?

When you are tired of your kids fighting?

When did you think you are going to run down the road naked, screaming at the top of your lungs if you hear or see one more piece of craptastic news?

When you don’t have the strength to care if anyone is fed?

When you have just had it?

This is That Moment When You Have Had Enough

Instead of flipping out…I put on a seaweed anti-stress mask.

Did it help?

No…it made my face itch.

But…I am still a looker!

Am I right or am I right?

**Side Note**

My friend, Donna, always said to me, “Brandi am I right or am I right?”  As I was reading this tonight, I could hear her raspy voice.  Her voice, her facial expressions, and her being in a rigor.  Normally she was fussing about the children, animals, or money.  I miss our late night talks.  Sadly, I can’t watch car detailing videos anymore.  She would call and I would walk her through each one.  She would listen.  Donna, I miss you.

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Planning a Wedding and Potty Training

Planning a Wedding and Potty TrainingPlanning a Wedding and Potty Training.  I’m just telling you……my anxiety has been amped up, lately.   Who, in their right mind, would be trying to do those 2 things at once, plus all the stuff in the middle?  Geez.  I cannot describe how thankful I am for those people who are helping me out with the wedding planning part and the support from my kids who are helping with the potty training part.

Unbelievable

I simply cannot believe my baby is getting married.  It’s not like I thought it would never happen, but I guess I just thought all my kids would live in my backyard and nothing would change.  Now….a certain young man…..has gone and changed things.  I do not like change….yet here I am…..allowing change.

Content is a Dirty Word

Every time I say I’m content, the Lord does something to upset my apple cart.  Every.  Single.  Time.  I will no longer say that I am content in anything LOL.  I have a sinking feeling I will be planning another wedding in the next year or so.  Good grief.  I plan on doing a post on planning a wedding on a TINY budget, because, let’s face it…..we are frugal people, Victoria is not over the top, and we don’t have a lot of extra money.  I’m, so thankful for those who have helped with their time and talent.

Potty Training 101

As for potty training, cause ya know, life isn’t fun enough….my kids were ALWAYS potty trained by 2.  I would put the potty in front of the tv and set the timer and set them on that potty every 15 minutes.  It’s like a badge of honor to be the first in your group of moms to have their kid potty trained.

Now, I have a 3 yr old (almost 4) and I’m at it again.  We did a little potty training before he got sick and he did really well.  I did the whole timer thing and he was pretty much trained, during the day.  Then OMS hit and everything else halted.  The last 7 mths have been nothing but survival mode with him and our family and I’m not stressed at all about potty training.  As my mama says, they will not go to college in diapers, so quit stressing yourself and them out.  I took her advice on kid #7.

Houston, He Is Ready

Hunter began ASKING me to change him.  Whether he was wet or had pooped.  He would pee and then bring me up a pull-up and cry until I changed him. That right there was my cue.  He knew he did not like being wet…he really did not like it when he pooped, so I pulled out the superhero drawers and started strong.  He has done WONDERFUL.  I mean, it has been completely stress-free.

He was ready.  I didn’t pressure him.  He is potty trained.  Now, I still put a pull-up on him during nap and bedtime.  I still put one on him when we drive 3.5 hrs to the dr, but he usually does not pee in them.  He will tell me and then we stop and go pee.  It is glorious.  I thought it would be bad, but it hasn’t.  He still struggles with his OMS and that makes him fall over when he is trying to set on the potty, but I have a lot of kids and they will help him out and encourage him.

Change……..one getting married…….one getting out of that baby stage.  Change can be good, I guess.

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Debt Free Plan for 2018

Debt Free Plan for 2018Thoughts on our Debt Free Plan for 2018.  The holiday’s semi-killed us.  We had allotted, at the beginning of the year to spend $100 on each of our 7 children.  We added some extra money for the extra people we buy for.  I’m a super frugal shopper, so I feel like I did really well in my budgeting …. but ….. I spent about $140 per child.  Unexpectedly, we had 2 extra boys along with the regular people we buy for.

I think I did well with that, for the most part.  What I need to account for THIS year is FOOD!  With Thanksgiving, then V’s bday, then Christmas, and then New Year’s….food is what did us in.  I went to my mom’s for T-giving, but I also cooked T-giving for my kids who could not be here due to work schedules.  I also do Christmas baking, which is getting quite expensive.  So, with all that being said, I’m going to go ahead, with our tax refund, and allot for $120 per child for Christmas (with a little extra for extra people), $60 per child for birthdays, and then a certain amount for the holiday food rush.  That will help us out, tremendously.

We will also take out our house taxes, vacation amount (though we did not go on one this past year due to Hunter’s condition, so that amount will likely carry over), Vehicle Taxes, Fire, the cost of my blog, and the cow/pig (we buy a whole one every year).  These will go in their respective “envelopes” so we can just pay for things as they come.  We will also get our emergency fund back up to $1000.  That is so important.

Surprise Wedding

Our extra surprise for this year is that we are planning a wedding!  My oldest daughter has decided to GET MARRIED right in the midst of birthday season.  So, much of Big Daddy’s OT will cover that.  I’m blessed with talented people in my life that are helping me.  They are loving her through this all.  Thankfully, they are extending lots of grace.  I will do a separate blog post giving a shout out to all those who are helping and their respective sites!  This will also be mixed in with monthly trips to Louisville for Hunter and his treatments, homeschooling, and all the other fun stuff that goes on.

Goal #1 Met

As far as our debt, we paid off our van in 4 mths (before the projected payoff was 3 years, I believe), so we are still going to take that payment, add it to our next lowest amount owed bill (my student loan), our “Uncategorized” monies leftover at the end of the month, some OT, and a few other little bits of monies (ie envelopes, kids payments, etc) and we will start tackling that loan.  My goal is to have this $20K loan (projected payoff is 2030) paid off by February 2019.  My SUPER goal is to have it paid off by November 2018.  *If* we can get it paid off in November, we will take off the month of December.  This will give us a bit more freedom.

Beginning Again

Then we start again in January with our next debt.  This is our home equity loan.  We will roll our paid-off van payment into our regular payment.  Also, we will roll our paid off student loan payment into the mix.  When you add that to our current home equity payment, this will help us knock this debt out.  After that, Lord willing, it will be our house. So many things can happen in between.  I find comfort in having a plan.  When we paid our van off, I have a light at the end of the tunnel.

Good luck on your journey to financial freedom and prayers appreciated for our Debt Free Plan for 2018!

Large Family Happenings

A Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe Not

A Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe NotA Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe Not.  I sit here, pondering the last year.  It began with my dad having quadruple bypass surgery, the middle was the diagnosis of the life-altering disease of my youngest, the end was the death of my Lady.  There were many things sprinkled in between.  There were HUGE life changes in my oldest.  HUGE life lessons for 2 of my kids.  22 weeks of military school.  FASD/Puberty explosion with one kid.  Surgery and learning how to hear out of both ears.  Surgery for me.  Overtime for Big Daddy.  2 Boys involved with 2 girls.  An engagement.  An intention of engagement.  Driver’s license. HUGE family dynamics shift within my family.  And a partridge in a pear tree.

Highest of Highs to the Lowest of Lows

This year, I have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  What has been constant has been my faith in Jesus, the unending love of my husband, my children, and my family.  There are days when it is hard to breathe.  Then, there are days when the hours are long and the patience is short.  Also, there are also days of laughter and learning.

So.  Many.  Emotions

I have so many emotions that are running through me.  Tonight will be the last Christmas that all my 7 children will be under one roof (before any hairy-legged guys impose).  Next year, I will have a new son in law and our dynamics will change.  The next year, I could have another new son in law and the dynamics will change again.  My heart is humbled that I can wake up with all my babies…..all lined up in a row.  OMS will not steal our joy, this holiday season, though it has tried.  It has been tough on my little one.  His schedule has been all messed up.  He is so symptomatic.  He is emotional…..but he is alive.

My In-Laws

As I was at my mother-in-law, we ate, we laughed, and then my sister in law and I sat and talked.  Like talked.  I realize what a cool chick she is and how lucky I am to have her in my life.  We are as opposite as opposite can be but I find comfort in her eyes.  We chatted while my mother-in-law, Big Daddy, and the kid’s frosted cookies.  It was all easy.  It was so nice.  I am so blessed.

Seeing my Seester

This past Friday, my sister and her family were in town.  She wasn’t going to be able to be at “Christmas” when mom was having her time, but she came early and Kim, Shane, and I brought our crew to play.  We ordered pizza.  Ate desserts.  We laughed.  Learned about where we come from and remembered our times as kids.  Our parents shared some stories and some love about their childhoods.  All while we were “adulting”, the kids were playing cards, football, and just hanging out.  It was sheer bliss.  We even got in a couple of games of Scrabble.

My Oak.  My Mama.

We had the BEST time.  Since the year before last, when daddy had his stroke and then this year when he had his quadruple bypass surgery….we have seen a strength in our mama that I knew was there but I haven’t seen in a while.  She was the picture of grace, even in the chaos, during all of this.  Also, she is a faithful prayer warrior.  Funny enough, she keeps it all in her little black book (God forbid anyone finds the said book).

Also, she loves her children and her grandchildren.  Her heart rejoices with our successes and she is there with wisdom when we are struggling.  There have been multiple times, this year, even with all that had gone on that she has helped me a the drop of a hat.  Whether it is watching my kids, taking one to an appointment or spending the night with me in Louisville because I needed help.  My kids adore her.  My husband adores her.  We all love her okra and fried chicken.  She makes my heart smile.

Daddy

Daddy…..he is my strength and my hero.  His sly grin warms my heart.  Sadly, he has me wrapped around his little finger.  Also, he loves my dog.  He is full of wisdom and his love for my mama and Jesus………only people that KNOW my family truly know what a Saul to Paul he is.  Honestly, I can’t even.  Simply stated I love him.

Tera

I have always been super close with my sister, Tera.  Well, not in our middle school/high school years but our early years and our adult years.  She’s a little over 2 years older than I am.  We each have a boatload of kids and our kids are stacked at about the same age, so one of us is usually in the throes of what the other is fixing to walk through.  We have always leaned on each other, regardless of where she lives.  She will hit me square between the eyes with Truth.  I will hit her right back.

Luckily, when she is down, I am up and when I am down, she is up.  We are very similar.  I always say what I say regardless and Tera thinks what I say but she never lets it escape her mouth….well, not never LOL.  We are in constant contact with each other because that has been how we’ve been since I got married, I think….almost 24 or 25 years.  I am dunno LOL.  She is my person.  She knows it all…I mean, all about me.  She’s a keeper 🙂

Kim

My other sister, Kim, is 6 yrs older than me.  She was more of a mother figure when I was younger.  My mom went back to school to finish her education and then go on to get her Master’s in teaching….cause she is awesome like that…..so, Kim kind of filled in the gaps when Daddy was sleeping/working and mom was at school.  We never were close, because I did not view her as a sister.  She was more of an authority.  As the years went by, as much as we loved each other, we didn’t always like each other.

I made decisions she didn’t like and she made decisions that I didn’t like and we are the type of people that will tell each other we didn’t like it and then we’d stuff our feelings and ignore it.  That went super well for a long time.  I think we tried.  We did not love each other…it was just different.  We are 2 different people with two different opinions.

God Answers Prayers

A few years ago, I had run by her office to say hi.  I was there with my 6th child and I thought…well, we are here….she is right down the hall.  I’d be remiss if I did not go by and say hello.  That is what a good sister would do and I really did enjoy chatting with her.  She was genuinely happy to see us.  We were happy to see her, but you see, we didn’t know each other.  Conversation swirled around our kids and what they were doing and then it was done.  For some reason, that day, I decided to ask her on a lunch date for the next week.  She shocked me by saying yes.  I mean, I was shocked.  When the time came, she had to cancel for work reasons.

I thought the subject would not be reopened until she said, “I can do it the next day at this time.”  I agreed and we both showed up.  From that point on, we were dedicated to meeting each other once a month (sometimes more) for lunch.  We dove deep into our childhood, our teenage years, our early adult years, raising kids, raising husbands, and everything in between.  She finally looked at me like I was an adult, on the same playing field as she was on.  We learned so much about each other.  Our thought processes matched.  Our fierceness of family was evident.  She had turned from my caregiver to someone I didn’t know, to someone I loved, to my confidante.  To my best friend.  She became my safety.  My idea bouncer offer.  Also, she was the person I call to cry.  I know she will listen, share wisdom, and pray over whatever is going on.

My Sisters:  My Tribe

I am blessed that all 3 of us sisters are incredibly close.  The Lord allotted that year to pull our heads out of our tails.  He chose to knock the preconceived blinders off of our eyes so we could see each other clearly.  He gave me my heart’s desire because, for years, I would ask my other sister why Kim doesn’t like me.  What I had done wrong.  How could I have a good relationship with her? The Lord was sweet and he heard my prayers and He kept us dedicated to each other for a full year.  Life got in the way with kids, adoption, Hunter’s illness, daddy’s illness….so we have not had lunch in a while, but we text/talk to each other several times a week.

Our lunches will start back up in January because we have both missed it terribly.  I love the adult time and just laughing while we try to solve the world’s problems LOL.  I look forward to our date so very much.  He chose to restore our relationship for a reason.  From the beginning of time, He knew that Kim’s daughter, Paige, would give birth to 3 babies.  Also, He knew that 2 of those babies would be raised by my sister.  Amazingly enough, the last baby would be raised by me.  I see it as He was preparing the fields of our relationship with rain….once our fields were ready, He was ready to move.  And move He did.  Our goal for 2018 is to get back to our monthly lunches.  We *need* that time away from the kids so we can talk about the kids 🙂

God is so good.

Through circumstances I will not write out, the Lord moved in such a big way, that I still sit with my mouth wide open in awe of His greatness.  He has taught me contentment.  I can love my brother, but not have the close relationship that I want with him.  I thought it was what it was….but it wasn’t.  I’m not saying that all is magically healed, but what I am saying is that this past Thanksgiving and especially this past Christmas…there is something different.  On Friday, when all of us kids hung out at mom and dad’s, he hugged me…like he initiated a hug with me, out of the blue.  My body hugged him back and my mind was jumping up and down screaming OH MY GOSH!!!!!  WHAT DO I DO?????????? DO I SAY SOMETHING OR JUST BE NONCHALANT????????????  I was, of course, nonchalant…cause that’s my jam.  Then, I called mom and commented on it.  Next, I told my husband.  Finally, I told my children.  I looked like an idiot LOL  I savored that brief moment.

My Moment.  My Miracle.

Then…came Christmas…good jeez……….He sat in the kitchen.  In our house, the men usually sit in the dining room.  They talk man stuff.  The kids eat in the kitchen or playroom.  Finally, the ladies mess and gob wherever there is a place.  He sat in the kitchen and helped my little one eat because he was so symptomatic with his Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (OMS).

I noticed that he was gentle, kind, and he got the job done.  It may be my imagination but I believe Hunter even ate off of his plate LOL.  As I sat at the other table, just watching them. My knee jerk was to just flat outcry like a baby.  He has never done that and I just can’t even handle the emotions.  Shane talked to each of my kids.  He made my son a necklace that he has yet to take off.  We call it the “Uncle Shane says do not lie anymore necklace or they will have a chat” necklace.  Side note that D thinks Uncle Shane hung the moon and the stars.  My brother played with them, loved them, and he did the research for me to help my sick child.

Mind=Blown

Then, he comforted me.  Finally, he hugged me….again…more than once.  We laughed.  As cheesy as this sounds, it was like my very own little personal miracle.  I have had such a tough year and I’m preparing for my rainbow…I think the Lord just saw my need….realized that my heart was content with the way things were….but decided I needed an extra miracle.  Every time I think about it, I cry.  I’m pathetic.  I know.  I am still content but I see a piece of his heart-melting towards me and I feel that little girl’s “please brother love me and let’s be friends” heart come back to life.  He is currently figuring out a design to help us in securing a grant to make our bathroom wheelchair accessible.  I can’t even.

Rounding It Out

As tired as I am and as ready as I am for this year to be over…I look back and I realize that my dad is alive.  He is well.  My mom is faithful and my sisters are my rocks.  Then, there is my brother who freaking hugged me.  He also loved me and my kids.  Amazingly enough, my son is alive.  Most of my children are well.  My marriage is good.  Sadly, (for me) my Lady celebrated her first Christmas with “her hero” and Jesus.  My God is faithful in remembering my prayers.  I pray this is a beginning with my brother and me.  If it is….. praise to the King.  If it isn’t…..I had a moment and I still praise the King.

God Remembers the Prayers of His People

Still, I have a picture of him with Hunter.  Honestly, I would show it but he does not like his picture to be out and about.  Just know…….it is frame-worthy.  I may not put it here, but guarantee it will be on my mantle.  Regardless, I will do that because I want Hunter (and all my kids) to know that he loves them.  Also, I want to remember one of the best Christmas gifts I could ever even dream up.

2018.  I am ready for you.  I am channeling awesomeness.  There will be valleys, but I believe that this year, God is going to take my mountain (so many things make up my mountain) from the Atlantic and He is going to crush it in the Pacific.

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