Keeping the fun in our house

With the process of finding a house, getting ours on the market, and just life in general. The boys have felt off balance. We are trying to find a balance for them in this crazy busy life.

a snow mamaOne thing we let them continue to do is jump up and go outside with their friends when they knock on the door. There are a few kids in the neighborhood that all play together, and this playing outside is so awesome for the boys. Playing outside is crucial to mental and emotional health in a child, and this outdoor play is so energizing for our boys!

 

 

a minecraft mamaWe also have removed most of their toys from the house right now. This means that boredom can set in easily. Each boy has a special “Treasure” box where they kept their favorite toys. a boys treasureThese boxes are now in their bedrooms, where they can dig in and find a special toy. They love that their treasures are close at hand, and safe. I love that they can play.

a star wars mamaMy boys also love to create. In the past they have created art work and adorned the walls of our house with their creative energy. For over a year our dining room was labeled “The Bat Cave” on construction paper cut in the shape of a bat.a bat cave mamaTheir bedroom was the movie theater, and there was a “Coming soon to a theater near you” poster in the hall. There was also a “Minecraft” Enderdragon a end for mamamade out of several pieces of construction paper on the wall. a stop sign mamaThey need this creative outlet. We now encourage journal writing with pictures, and origami.   They are planning out their creations for our new home.

We also managed to keep their crazy video games in the house, a video gamebut keep them from being a focal point of the entertainment area. We packed away the games they play rarely, kept the new ones from Christmas, and made sure their iPod’s and Kindle’s were accessible.

a baseball mamaAll of this is important to keeping them happy, and keeping our house looking ready at any moment for someone who may want to make it their home. We do not know what the next chapter will look like, but what I do know is that it will be filled with love, creativity, energy, a lot of video games, and boys. We are not in the market to pretend we don’t have kids, we are in the market to be certain our boys have what they need to be happy, and the tools they need to be successful! We also are looking forward to finding our future home.

So what is your story? How did you keep your children entertained while trying to make your house ready for sale or moving?

 

The house we love…making home a house again.

the homePreparing our home for sale has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat equity. We have spent nights over the last few weeks spending 2-4 hours a night painting, packing, staging, organizing, and rethinking our home. This home has done so much for us.

The next family who enters here as home will have freshly painted walls, a storage system in the garage, a deck out back, and new plumbing. They will also have the beauty that this old house puts forth. The walls of this home are bright, and spacious, and have held my children’s pictures, my children’s drawings, and my children’s school work. Now they are holding art that will help people see it’s potential. I am falling in love with this home again, but for the potential it has for its next owner.

The boys have packed away many of their belongings, prizes, and treasures. They have helped paint, helped pack and helped clean. They are as excited as we are about making this move. I will admit I was worried about the stress of a move on them, but they are handling it with understanding, and excitement. We have even taken them to a few open  houses. We want them to understand that we are not moving into every house we look at, but one of them may be it.

punch listLast week I broke emotionally and physically about this house. I had made a list with our Realtor of what she recommended we change to make it appeal to a large audience of buyers. The list was not crazy, just details like paint color, removing a lot of our “stuff” and setting the stage for a welcoming home.  I set a timeline for me. No one else imposed this timeline. And I was setting a super fast pace.  This punch list was consuming my life.

I needed my village.

I needed others to help me see the light at the end.

I sent a text and asked them to come over and lured them in with food.

They all responded, and Friday night I was out getting supplies. I grabbed a few extra rollers, drop cloths, paint trays, and sand paper. Saturday I fuel the bodyheaded to the super market to get food. Normally, I would grab the food whole, bring it home, and prep it. Today, I went for pre-cut fruit, veggies, and cheese. I also grabbed some guacamole, salsa, water, juice boxes for the kids, Arnold Palmer for my dad and brother (but really we all drink them) and hummus. I wanted to be sure there was plenty of filling mostly healthy food at the table so that no one would over indulge in something and feel bad. We also have a few diabetics in.the family so I needed to be sure we had protein and veggies. splurging on cut fruits and veggies and cheese meant that we could get right to work on the house. I think it was worth the little added expense! Plus, no dishes!

part fo the funWe had a busy day of fun and stress for sure! We were able to paint both of the boys bedrooms, the hallway, the stairway, part of the basement, move our packed boxes into the garage for moving to storage, and repair two sections of wall that needed to be patched. We even created a coat closet out of a linen closet that was not being used because of a new linen closet in the bathroom. We got a lot done. All I saw were the things we hadn’t finished.  I saw things we couldn’t finish. I saw a list that kept growing. I went to bed feeling overwhelmed.

I woke up with a sense of, “We can do this. Where is my list? Let’s check some things off.” I was ready to go again. I had forgotten that the most important thing for me to do is rest. I was burning the candle at both ends and unable to finish a task. I am choosing to rest a bit more, and that may mean it takes a little bit longer to get listed, but it is worth it.

We are not finished, but we are really close. stay tuned for pictures of our newly re-imagined house!Home heart

When home doesn’t feel like home anymore

Home heartWe have been contemplating moving for a long time. Our house must have shrunk. I feel like we are on top of each other, constantly stepping on toes. No one can get up from the table without someone else moving. The children are constantly fighting over space.

Two things are going on here:
1- we have way too much junk
2- we are outgrowing our house

I do love our house. It is very similar to what I grew up with. I am sentimental so I like that. We are having a hard time fitting, and the family who owned it before us had 6 children in it (I do not know how!). We kept (mostly) everything the way it was. Pulled up the carpets, painted the walls, replaced the piping, new stack pipe, renovated the bathroom, but overall, it is original. That is a good thing. It is a beautiful, and I am glad we did not do too much to change the bones of this old house.

We want a house wth more room to do things. A place for homework, a place for reading, a place to sip a cup of coffee in the morning. A place to play, watch a movie, play a video game, build a puzzle, build Legos, and a place to hide the junk of a school project or Christmas shopping when company comes over. A place to entertain where everyone can be in the same room at the same time.

I am ready for a change, and change is not easy, but we are ready for it. I am there. On the brink of change. And you know what? I am petrified!

The questions you have.
“What if we pick the wrong house?”
“What if the kids do not make friends if we change schools?”
“What will my new commute look like?”
“What if our house never sells?”
“What if we never find ‘The House’?”
“What if we are wrong?”

I remember moving as a kid, two miles from our house. A new school, new friends, and I remember not understanding how close we were to everything we already knew.

As scary as it is, we are here:
We have started this process.
We have a realtor who is amazing, honest, funny, and knows her stuff.
She has put us in touch with a financial agent.
She gave us a punch list for our house.
We are so excited to be on this journey.
We are also a bit scared to be on this journey.
I hope you will join us.
I hope you will love the tips and tricks I share as we go.
I hope we land where home is, although, home is right here, we are just bursting at the seams!

Time passes

What is your moving adventure?
When did it start?
How did it start?
Do you love where you landed?

How do you do it? A question I hear a lot!

a schedule to keepI often get asked, “How do you do everything you do?”

Truthfully there are times that I don’t even know how I do it.

I try as hard as I can to get everything done for everyone, and often I fall a little short. For the most part, things go smoothly, but then a business trip for my husband, or a track meet for the boys throws a monkey wrench into the mix.
Here is how I (mostly) keep it all together:

  1. a morning coffeeCoffee – I suffer from migraines. I have tried many different remedies over the years, and the easiest and most tried and true for me is two cups of caffeine in the morning. This plus a protein filled breakfast like eggs with veggies and cheese or (on a day where we are running out the door) a protein shake made with almond milk and  peanut butter. A good start to my day is imperative to everything working together.
  2. a calendar lookCalendars – Steve and I have calendars that connect to each other. My school schedule, the boys piano lessons, track practices and meets doctors appointments, even what day our dog gets her heart worm medication is all on the calendar. Without the calendar, we  would be lost. I used to use a paper calendar, but sharing that was next to impossible, and we were missing appointments. Once we shared a Google calendar it helped us to be on the same page with our commitments. Steve is the king of inserting into a calendar, and I let him because, well, I loathe it!
  3. Communication – Plain and simple. We do not schedule ANYTHING without checking with each other. we schedule our nights with friends and dates in advance. We have to because our commitments are many right now.
  4. Ignoring spam emails – I have over 2000 unread emails, 99% of them are from a store/stores I have shopped in at some point in time. I just do not take the time to delete them. so they go unread. It kills my organized everything has to be done side, but it has taught me to be okay with not getting everything done.
  5. Choosing to help the boys with their work before mine – My children need their mother. When I am home, their homework comes before mine. Even if I have a final exam to finish, they come first. I have spent hours working on a writing project with one boy and then stayed up way late writing my own paper. I have to put them first because they need me.
  6. Staying up late/waking up early – I stay up some nights until 1 or 2 in the morning to write a paper, read a text book, or plan a lesson. I also have woken up with my husband at 4 AM and while he heads to the Gym (crazy, right?) I will write a blog post or a paper, or plan a lesson for the next week. Sleep is something that alludes me, however, I get plenty of it during vacations, summer, and Saturdays (sometimes).
  7. a school scheduleChoosing a school schedule that does not interfere with the boys schedule– This is super hard. I try to pick a schedule that has me away from home for just one whole night, or online classes where I can work from home, or before I was teaching during the day. As I near the end of this degree, I am having to take classes three days a week away from home, and one of those days is Saturday from 9AM-2PM and it is a biology lab. I wish I hadn’t saved that till the end! My second degree will take place online 100% and will be one class at a time for 5 weeks at a time. so much more manageable. I start that in August.
  8. Spending one afternoon a week at school to write lesson plans (so I don’t bring them home) – This is huge. I spend usually Thursday afternoon at school cleaning up my classroom materials, planning stories and crafts, and organizing my collected work from my students. This has been instrumental in my teaching being a non-stress in my life. I enjoy teaching, and this method of planning has been key to a successful year so far! I often am willing to pay for resources from Teachers Pay Teachers to reduce my stress in planning. very helpful to not reinvent the wheel.
  9. Spending as much available time with my boys – When I do have time at home with them, I enjoy playing a video game, a board game, building Lego sets with them, and even a game of Minecraft on our tablets together. I try to meet them where they are, and spend as much time as possible building positive memories. we even enjoy 30 minute reading breaks together when things are getting crazy!
  10. Planning ahead – but not over-committing – We plan our family and friend events in advance, so they are set in the calendar, but we do not over-commit. we try to be fair and have time with everyone, however lately, we have focused on our nuclear family more. The boys were needing some family of 5 time, and that was important to recognize. We also keep family events low key by making them: potluck, board games, casual, and come and go as you can. With so many family members in our extended family, it can be hard to fit everyone’s schedule.  The boys commitments are minimal as well. They all take piano lessons, and run on the race team for our local youth sports league. These are manageable, and Steve is a runner (more than me) and I can read music and play piano, so I can help with those practice sessions. Simple is the key to not over-committing.
  11. a me time collageMaking time for me – This is crucial. With teaching, and being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a student, and a coach, I need to be sure I do things for me. It is always hard to take the time as I feel selfish saying, “I need some time for me.” It is necessary however to do so. How do I enjoy spending my “Me” time? I love to read and even enjoy an audiobook when my time to hold a book is limited, I used to run more but now I have a trainer so I go for a workout and sometimes a run, I love to play board/card games and these things are brain breaks for me but involve family, I like to color in my amazing coloring books I got from my best friend, I like to get a Starbucks and walk around Target looking for nothing,  I love to bake for others as we do not eat a lot of sweets here, and I love to watch a movie. I also spend time with my friends. I truthfully have one amazing friend who has been key to me staying on course. I go to her house and stay until midnight, she comes to mine and stays until late. she is the inspiration and support for me growing my blog, and really finding myself in it. Time for me often includes time with her as she is my best friend, and I need her around to keep me sane, knock me off of my pedestal, and to need me in return. being needed is a wonderful feeling, and I am glad that I have a friend who I can lean on.
  12. a moment aloneMy husbandSteve is a rock. He manages the calendar, takes the boys to the doctors, the dentist, pays the bills, grocery shops, does laundry, and cleans the house. He has picked up all of the things that I dropped. He also works full time. All the time. He is always answering an email, preparing a quote for a customer, or handling a situation with a tech or engineer. He has so much knowledge, and is so much more organized than I am, and I am fairly organized. He knows where I put my keys, where the boys need to be, and what I wore yesterday (when I can’t remember). He holds me when I cry over nothing in my closet looking right. He puts up with my clothes all over the bedroom because putting away my laundry is something I haven’t had time for. he laughs with me, makes my coffee, kisses my forehead while I am writing, and brings me snacks. He also entertains the boys, and for Christmas purchased every workout item I asked for without a blink, even though he had already purchased me the iPad I had been begging for (mine was obsolete and dying, and I was being a brat, I know this). He has been the stand holding me up while I have been barely standing up. The stress of my studies this semester was the worst, and he guided me through it with patience, understanding, and love. I am not worthy, but I openly accept it!
  13. a boy thingMy boys – My children are old enough to do a lot of things for themselves. They do laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, feed and walk the dog, sweep floors, clean mirrors and windows, make breakfast for themselves/each other, prep most of their lunches, and read, do homework and practice piano without question. They realize that mom is in school and busy, but that I love them more than anything. They know I love early morning snuggles, tickle fights, a good session of Minecraft and talking about Star Wars or Legos or both! I pray they understand that me completing my degree is as much for them as it is for me, and I hope they see my studying as a model for the hard work it takes to get good grades and work for what you want out of your education.
  14. My family – My mother and father have been supportive of me going back to school as a mom. They have helped with the boys when Steve has a business trip, read papers for errors, and been council on what my next step should be. my brother and sister have hardly seen me as I have not been around a lot with school and the boys, and they are able to communicate with me and let me know that they get it. my nieces and nephew I don’t get to spend as much time with as I like, but when I do, they are my priority, having fun, making memories. My mother and father in law have helped as well, taking turns with my parents in helping with the boys when school has kept me from being mom. It is actually amazing how a family can lean on each other and  support each other through something that should be simple. College as a mom in your 30’s is not easy, and you need a village. I have given up being the mom that can volunteer for  school events, or field trips. I have given up weeknight bible studies so I can be home or at class. I have stopped some of the things I love, but my family has supported me through it, and I love that!
  15. a end of day momentWine -I enjoy a glass (or 2) of red wine. It helps me unwind at the end of the day, reflect on all I have accomplished, and realize that I am an adult, “adulting” really hard, and I deserve a small break at the end of a long day.  I sometimes replace wine with tea, but I get the same effect.

 

 

 

The reality of it all is that I do not get everything done in a day. A lot of things fall between the cracks. A lot of things never happen. I forget birthdays are coming up, or a special show I was supposed to record, or a promise of a book read at night that I don’t make it home in time for. I cry a lot about that, but I cannot let it hold me back. No one can do it all. and if they tell you they can they are lying to your face. It is not easy, It sucks most days, but at the end of the day, you do the best you can, ask for forgiveness/acceptance/love, and you move forward, it is all you can do!

How do you make your busy schedule work? Do you have any tips for others about how to make a busy schedule less busy? do you need support through something? leave a comment let me know, and maybe someone else can offer support!

Blessings for a happy 2016!

Love

Melendy

Cruel Devil Music – a play on words

When you have a child that has struggled with everything external, you rejoice when others “get” them.

We have a tradition in our family of listening to “iTunes” radio while we drive. It means we are not listening to the same music over and over, and we often find new favorite songs. Last school year we had a 45 minute drive to and from school. With three boys in the car mama had to find some way to stay sane.

a pixilated picture of his music...
a pixilated picture of his music…
My boys loved listening to Disney radio on iTunes radio because they knew most of the songs. We would play “Name that tune” and try to guess the name of the song, or the movie the song was from, or what character sang it, or what was happening in the movie/show at that time. My oldest really enjoyed when Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians came on. He would talk about how great that would sound if he could play it. He said it sounded like a really tough piece to play. I encouraged him to ask his teacher. Last year he did not believe he could ask her, or play it. This year, I again encouraged him, and he went for it. One month into lessons, his teacher found the sheet music for him. He has loved learning it, and has until June to perfect it as he and she have already decided he will do it for the recital.

Why is this important?

Because my oldest has sensory integration disorder, and the fact that he can even play piano is wonderful. the sound was a sound that bothered him years ago.  Also because his teacher takes in his sometimes quirky requests and embraces them. She knows her students and is always willing to find a way to make learning piano interesting for them. This means that my boys enjoy piano lessons and practice because they love the music they are playing.

Music is so important for learning because it is a whole other dimension for my boys. They get to use many senses all at once to create music. They are learning a skill they will never regret by learning to read music. I feel that they are learning to become better thinkers as the problem solving music involves, the quick thinking, and the physical repetition helps them to grow. I also enjoy hearing them play as I know how hard it can be, and I am amazed at what they are capable of.

The have other skills as well. They run track, and cross country, read books, color/create, do origami, and play video games (full disclosure),  but we often forget that there are other dimensions to learning. We need to remember that their interests are important to encouraging continued growth. They can grow from the opportunities we present them.

Life

Music

Choices

All of these help our children to grow…all of them.

And for your viewing pleasure, my oldest attempting to play this very difficult piece. Practice makes perfect only if we keep correcting and trying!

Back to Life

a part of my classroom
a part of my classroom
the essential teacher bag
the essential teacher bag

I am definitely still feeling the relaxation coming off of our vacation.  Today we were back to the real world. As a teacher my job doesn’t end when school ends, and it certainly does not begin when school begins. This summer, I have been working since May to prepare for this school year. I have been doing paperwork, cleaning toys, and many other tasks to be certain the school I work at has a smooth start to the year.  I also have been writing lesson plans, and preparing my classroom. I work with children ages 4 and 5. My classroom has to be fun and interesting. This is quite a challenge but I enjoy it!

i love my new school bag
i love my new school bag

I  am a full time student. I am preparing my text books, my notebooks, and my laptop to be ready for being a student again. I am almost finished with one degree, and then onto another. As A teacher, I know that my education is important. If I want to be an effective teacher, I need to be on top of the latest research. I also know the example I am setting for my own children.They see me reading my text books, writing papers, and finishing projects for my honors program.

just a small sample of the boys school supplies
just a small sample of the boys school supplies

I also am a mom to 3 wonderful boys. All three will be at the same school this year for the last time.  My oldest in 6th grade, my middle in 4th, and my youngest in 1st. Getting them ready for school was my first priority. I purchased school supplies and lunch boxes. We prepared them for the bus ride and our new routine. I also have prepared them for how busy mama will be. I think it is important for them to know that when they have my attention they have my attention.

seriously love this bag
seriously love this bag

In order for mama to stay organized in our busy schedule I need several bags. Sounds crazy, but I find having a bag for each event works best. I have a bag for teaching that holds markers, stickers, lesson plans, curriculum, and anything else I may need (water and lunch). I have a laptop bag for school for mama. This has my notebooks, a folder, my laptop, and a section for pencils, pens, highlighters, and my flash drive.  I also have a wonderfully large purse that goes with me to church or out with my husband. How do I keep it all together?  I have a few small zippered bags that hold all of the essentials. This way I can  just grab the small bags, change them to the other bag, and go!

the moving pieces
the moving pieces

I love that I can organize myself in a way that I always have what I need. Sometimes I have more than I need, and that works for me in situations like teaching or learning because I would never want to be unprepared for the opportunity to learn.  I am currently enjoying the last bits of summer I have with the boys before we all begin school again next week. I hope that I have prepared them for school in a way that will leave them having everything they need, and knowing that the woman that prepared it for them loves them more than they will ever know.

I find this to be very inspiring...
I find this to be very inspiring…

Being a mom

a wife

a student

and a teacher

means my heart and mind are always full

and I am pointed in a direction that means so much!

Lasting Impressions

one last time
one last time

This has been a journey. I am so glad we took this step because it brought us together  in a place that once tore us apart. I haven’t written in a few days because I was enjoying taking it all in. I am sitting in our living room on our last morning here and I am reflecting on the adventure.

all the guards and kids were so happy to see goofy!
all the guards and kids were so happy to see goofy!

We spent a lot of time at the pool. The pool here is the center of the resort. Lifeguards are also the activity directors.  They do a great job of engaging kids and adults alike. Activities range from water side races, to bingo, to trivia, to limbo, to nighttime mini golf with glow necklaces. There are also excursions you can  pay for and some that are free. You can always be busy here, or always just relax. These activities kept the boys engaged and gave the adults a chance to relax. There is so much to do that we did not even come close to doing it all.
This was wonderful, but there is something bigger here.

there is information everywhere about how to help the little dudes make it!
there is information everywhere about how to help the little dudes make it!

This resort is on the Atlantic Ocean. On this coast of Florida there are sea turtle nests everywhere. There are several sea turtle biologists who head out to the beach in the early morning hours. They ride their ATV’s and are equipped with an iPad (filled with information about each nest) and a few tools necessary for their job. They document any activity from a sea turtle nest. Sometimes they find a new nest or a recently hatched nest. They excavate nests, and often find a little turtle or two who didn’t make it out of the nest.

these scientists are dedicated to their work
these scientists are dedicated to their work

As guests here, at 7AM every morning we can trek to the beach and watch their work. For the last two mornings we have been down there and have had the privilege of seeing four babies being sent out to the sea! It is so exciting. The best part though is my boys seeing someone who loves their job. The employees at this resort love what they do.

three of the turtles we were able to see released
three of the turtles we were able to see released

If you really think about the challenge of saving sea turtles it is incredible that there are any alive. Out of the possible 115 eggs laid in one nest, 90% will hatch, and 1% will survive into adulthood. Those are astounding statistics. Nearly impossible. But yet, the species is being saved through the hard work and dedication of the scientists who have a passion for sea turtles.

the boys taking in one more sunrise
the boys taking in one more sunrise

This is important because we woke the boys up early every morning and headed to the beach to see what had developed while we slept. They grunted and groaned, but once there, they enjoyed it. I am hoping that when they see these scientists dedicated to saving these little guys/gals that they will see more than turtles. I want them to see that even the little things are worth fighting for. Even when it seems impossible, it is worth it. Those dreams they have, they can achieve them. Protecting those that can’t do it themselves, they can do that too. Nothing is impossible. I hope they see the hard work put in to make the impossible possible. I also hope they see it isn’t all work. Everything they want to achieve is worth it. Every friendship and relationship: worth it. Every belief they hold dear to their hearts are worth every effort to protect.
I hope they have lasting impressions…

our family left a momentary impression in the sand, I pray the sand left a lasting on eon us
our family left a momentary impression in the sand, I pray the sand left a lasting on eon us

For more information check out this website to see how you can help!

beautiful art on the building
beautiful art on the building

Barrier Island Center

Mama needs a night out.

IMG_3172 Tonight was a good night. It has been a week of uncertainties. My uncle is not well, my mom is struggling from “complications” following surgery. It has not been an easy week emotionally. A high school friend lost her brother, we had a storm that took out power and internet for a few days, and well, life.

So, tonight, I was excited to have the opportunity to head out with a friend and the kids. I am grateful for my BFF and all she has done for me. She is an ear, a shoulder, and a supporter. Tonight we headed to the Roger Williams Park Zoo to enjoy the “Born To Breastfeed” event. It was a night at the zoo with other moms. The kids had a blast, and we were able to talk and walk and know the children were happy to be together.  I was a little sad to watch other moms happily breastfeeding, I miss those moments with my boys. I also appreciate that I had those moments. It is hard to explain, but you never forget that bond, you always want it back, and at the same time, you love the growth your children have.

I needed a distraction, a moment to breathe, and I am so glad I got to do that with her.

The animals were more calm at this evening event. They were awake, moving around, and ready to show off for the kids. The kids were just as happy to run and play. It was nice to see the children happy to explore, and not worrying about what others saw or thought. My children have their moments, but they are mine, and I wouldn’t change them. Maybe a little more respect,  but not them, just their attitude.

After we headed to my Bff’s house, and we sat and talked while her husband prepared an amazing dinner on the grill. Hamburgers, grilled onion, and grilled mushrooms! Just wow! We welcomed her friend and daughter and we enjoyed being together, outside, appreciating summer. I know summer will be over soon, and I am enjoying every moment we are having of it. Soon I will be writing papers, reading and highlighting textbooks, and taking exams. being a full time student means being tethered to my laptop and book bag for another year.  So for now, the summer is a nice change of pace. I also will be writing lesson plans, finding materials, and discovering new books for my students. It is a lot to manage, but I know I can do it!

So a night with my boys, and her girls, and friends, and food, and wine is exactly what the “doctor” ordered. I look forward to many more nights like this because without nights like this life would be monotonous.

Summer bff and wine

it comes and goes so quickly

it knows not who it leaves behind

but summer will be my friend

I know that sweet smell will not leave

because my heart lives in summertime!

 

Enjoy your summer and your time with friends!