Thursday, August 17, 2017

And We're Off

I have not written since the middle of July. It has been too long since I last wrote. If you know me well, then you know that I love writing about our lives. I love sharing my experiences as a stay at home to 5 beautiful kids and a wife to a wonderful husband. Going over a month without writing is too long. Last time I wrote, I wrote about finding time to blog, updated on our little girl (who at that point was only one month old), and updated how our summer was going.

It is now August and our summer has ended. School started for our oldest, Logan. He is in the first grade. The few days were a little rough as he is getting adjusted to a new school, new friends, a new teacher, and a new routine. I think he is finally getting into the swing of things. So far he is doing well with his work load for a first grader. We are so proud of him!

Since I last wrote, our middle son (Landon), had two appointments with his doctors in Cincinnati. For those that follow and read my blog you know that he has an ear and facial condition called Microtia Atresia and wears a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid). He will be 5 in December and will be old enough for a surgery that will permanently allow him to wear a hearing aid without the headband. It will click to something that will stick out of his head. This will be nice because hopefully he will wearing his hearing aid more since he will not have the band. We are excited and nervous for the surgery for him, but definitely more excited than nervous because this is something very good for him! He will be starting his last year of preschool sometime next week. Hard to believe that next year he will be off to Kindergarten.





Liam has been in speech therapy since May. We put in speech therapy because he still isn't talking using full sentences and we needed to improve his vocabulary. As much as we read and work with him, he needed some extra help. I am so thankful we got him extra help because he has been very successful! This past week he was evaluated to see if he would need further speech services past the age of 3 (he turns 3 this Saturday). If he does qualify (which we think he will), this means he will be starting his first year of preschool sometime next week. It is hard to think he is old enough for school! Like I said, his birthday is this Saturday. I cannot believe he will be 3! We are having a party for him on Sunday that will be Thomas the Train themed (will definitely write about it).

Lucas, who is 1 year old, is also in speech therapy. He still has a long ways to go in becoming verbal, but he is getting there! He is a very busy body and loves exploring everything in our house, even if it gets him into trouble. He is super sweet and for the most always a happy toddler! His world got rocked upside down when his sister was born so he has spent a lot of the summer getting used to being a big brother and not being the 'baby' of our family. He seems to be adjusting a lot better and even asks to hold Leliana every now and then.

Leliana will be three months old on Sunday. If you read my blog posts leading up to this, then you know she had a rough start at birth and was in the NICU for 2 weeks due to sleep apnea episodes. Since she has been home (she came home June 6), she has been doing very well. She is fully nursing (when she came home she was nursed and supplemented with formula) and growing very well. At her last appointment she was 9lbs. even. She goes back to the doctor next Wednesday and she will get shots. The boys adore her, and so does everyone else whenever we go somewhere.

So far, the school year is off to a great start. I'm thankful to be back into a routine. While I enjoyed the summer break very much, our family thrives on routine. Toward the end of the summer, I could just tell we were all ready to get back in to the school schedule. I think this school year will be wonderful for the older boys and I am excited to see what they will learn! I pray over them every day and pray God will use them at their age in ways I could never imagine.

I hope my readers had a wonderful summer and I hope your school year is off to a great start! 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How Do You Find Time?

As a mom of five young kids, all six years old and under, I get asked a lot of time management questions. My close friends are the ones that know exactly how much I do and they even ask me time management questions. When people outside of my close knit circle of family and friends ask, "how do you find time for xyz?" I give a standard response of, "I'm not sure, I guess I am lucky to find the time." One of the questions asked a lot is, "how do you find the time to write blog posts?" I will hit on that question in this post.

Before I talk about that question, I do need to lead off and say time managing has not always been my strong suit. There are days managing my time still isn't what I am good at. When I was growing up, I was raised to get things done on time, make time for 'just in case' scenarios, be on time to places, and to not waste time doing things that didn't need my time. Obviously getting projects done for school were a breeze, that is, until I got to college. Once I hit my college years is when I began to procrastinate, waste time, not plan for 'just in cases', and even would be late to classes. When I got married in 2009 and my husband and I began having kids back in 2010, I again had to readjust how I handled time in getting things done around the house, getting to places on time, getting things done on time. That brings us to right now. Everything I do as a mom includes timing of when I get things done, timing of when each of my kids are cared for, when we set appointments, etc. Finding time to do things that don't revolve around my five kids, is tricky. Alas, it can be done. Here I am writing a blog post about finding time.


How do I find time to write blog posts?

I Have A Daily Schedule For My Family
I use to think I needed to have a written daily schedule to help my time management. That isn't true. Once I became a parent, having our daily schedule written out was pointless. Kids don't stick to a written schedule. However, they do stick with a routine. As long as we have the same routine almost (I say almost because there are some days and occasions where it will change) every day, then that is good enough. A routine helps keep everyone functioning. Our schedule will change a little once school starts, but not too much. Our normal daily schedule is we wake up between 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m. and eat breakfast. Then we have play time/learning/watch a movie/run errands until 11 a.m. At 11 a.m. we clean up from the morning and we eat lunch at 11:30 a.m. At 12 p.m. it is nap time. 2 p.m.-3 p.m. is waking up from naps and more play time/learning. Between 5 p.m.-6 p.m. is dinner time. 6:30 p.m. is when we start the bed time routine for our kids. Our kids are in bed between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. every night. There are days that routine changes, but we do our best to stick with it even on special days. Obviously, I did not have to write out times, but I wanted to give you all an idea. Having a daily schedule or routine helps with finding time in the first place for extra things.


I Have A Daily Schedule For My Housework
Once we established a schedule for our kids, I was able to fit in housework. Dishes are done daily after each meal. Laundry is done on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with washing/drying in the morning and folding in the evening. I put it away the next day. I clean our bathrooms once a week on Tuesdays (in the morning while the kids are content), but keep up with toilets/sinks daily. I sweep the floors on a daily basis and mop our floors every other day. We only have two rooms with carpet that don't get dirty that often so I vacuum once every two weeks. Deep cleaning gets done once a month. Even though we have a big family, there isn't much cleaning that needs done and I try not to make cleaning very time consuming, because I want time with my kids and I do want that free time I speak of. I do my best to keep up with cleaning on a daily basis so it doesn't pile up, but I fit it into our daily schedule that is above.


I Use My Free Time Wisely
Yes I get free time, that is how I am writing this post. Currently as I write it is nap time for all five of my kids. Let me touch on the nap time real quick, because you are probably wondering how I get them all to nap at the same time.Yes, all five kids are napping/resting. I plan out TWO hours for them to rest/nap. Without a rest or nap time, my kids are grumpy. They also know if they don't rest or nap, they won't do anything fun like go outside, watch a movie, play a game. If they want to continue their fun, it is a must in this house that they rest/nap. So, my kids are currently resting/napping. Sure you may be thinking, 'don't you have housework you could be doing?' As you can see from the schedules above, I do get free time, even from housework. So once I figured out a schedule for our family and housework, I was able to find time for what I do love to do, which is write. I use my time wisely to write. I will write posts either when my kids are napping or when they go to sleep for the night. I also don't write every day, because there are other things I like to do in my free time like spend time with my husband and kids, making time for my faith and God, watch shows on Netflix/Hulu, shower/take care of myself, spend time with my friends, read, bake, photography, and scrapbook. When I do write blog posts, I also share them on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FaithHopeLove627), in groups on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. In Facebook groups, I do have to read other posts and comment. On days when I don't write, I catch up on reading/commenting in my free time.


As you can see from my family's schedule, I find the time to do a lot of extras even with having five kids. Having a schedule is the big answer that I should start giving to people when they ask how I find the time. Having a schedule/routine is important to finding time to do things. If you don't have a routine yet, I suggest to get one. I have found having a schedule helps me with my time management. It helps me to stress less about when I will get things done. If you are someone who is always stressed out about when you will get something accomplished, then I suggest get a routine going. Having less stress with my family size, is a good thing. It is no fun to be stressed while spending time with your kids and husband. I know there are a lot of people who will agree that managing time is important, and the key to that is a schedule.

To tie this with my faith, here is a favorite Bible passage of mine. In these verses, we are told there is time to do some things and there is time to do other things. God wants us to use our time wisely. I follow what God tells me to do and I do my best to use all 24 hours a day wisely. Again, that is how I find time.


I hope this post has helped someone. Let me know if it helped you. If it has helped, please share it with someone that you think could use a few tips on time management. I am so glad I was able to share with my readers a little bit about our daily schedule and a day in the life of a mom and blogger. I always make time for faith, hope, and love.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Take That Picture

Parents love to take pictures of their kids. They love to capture every moment. I am a mom, and I love to take pictures of my kids and capture everything they do. I also love sharing pictures of my kids on Facebook, Instagram, and even here on my blog. When parents are taking pictures of their kids that means parents are always behind the camera and never in front of the camera. As kids get older, they enjoy seeing pictures of their parents.
This picture inspired my post at a 2 a.m. feeding!
 Case in point, I was raised by my grandparents and my grandma told me she is so thankful for pictures of her mom (my great grandma) in front of the camera instead of behind it. My great grandma passed away in January of 2016. Pictures are all my grandma has of my great grandma. I love that I have pictures also of my great grandma, my grandma, and even my mom in front of the camera instead of behind it. As my kids get older (even as I get older), those pictures will be all that we have of them. I'm thankful that we have the pictures.
My aunt, mom, grandma, and great grandma with myself and two of my kids in May of 2015.
 That little story gets me to my point. We live in a day where selfies are very popular. My almost three year old (Liam) loves to take selfies. He says the word selfie as 'phelfie'. He also loves when I'm in the selfie with him. I got to thinking, parents don't have any reason why they shouldn't be in a picture with their kids. Technology has come a long way since the 50's. Kids don't care what you, as the parent, look like. All they care about is that you are in a picture with them. As they get older, the pictures are all they have left, they won't care what you looked like but that you were in the picture with them. Recently I have been taking a lot of selfies with my kids. I save them to my computer so that I can print them and put them in a photo album for my kids. I know the photo album of selfies will be so special to them as they get older.
Logan and I
Landon and I.
Liam and I.
Lucas and I.
Leliana and I.
I'm writing this post to tell parents to take that picture with your kids. Get in front of the camera or however you take selfies. Make sure your kids see you in pictures and not just them as they get older.  If your kids request that you be in the picture with them, don't complain. Get in the picture with your kids. If your kids don't want to take a picture, make it fun for them. As you can see in the pictures above, I didn't care what I looked like as long as I was in the picture with my kids. I also tried hard to make it fun for my kids to take a picture or selfie with me.

Even my husband, who hates pictures takes selfies on occasion with our kids.
Rob, Logan, and Landon.
Rob, Liam, and Landon.
Rob and Logan.
Also parents, take that picture of your spouse/partner and your kid sleeping. That picture will also be a gift to your child as well. My husband takes pictures of our kids and I sleeping all the time. I do the same as well. Those pictures show that being a parent is tiring, but so rewarding.
My husband and our daughter.
Liam and I.
You may be embarrassed, but I can assure you, there is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to taking pictures with your kids. You don't have to share it on social media, but just having it in your phone or on your computer is all you need. There is a saying that says, 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. It really is true. The most ugly picture of ourselves as parents is worth so much to our kids. Taking pictures can be something fun and free for you to do with your kids. I'm thankful for the above pictures and that our kids will be able to see these as they get older and know we loved making memories together and not just me snapping pictures of their memories. I am thankful for the time I took to spend with my kids taking the pictures that are in this post. Looking at the pictures then, and even now, I realize that I am so blessed to have the technology I do to be able to create these memories. We are so fortunate to have cameras these days, so let us use them wisely!

 The verse below is a favorite of mine. Even God loves pictures. After all, God is an artist which includes photography. He sees the bigger picture of our lives. He sees the future pictures as well. He creates pictures in our lives specifically for us. How amazing is that? Take all the pictures you can! I will be taking pictures with a lot of faith, hope, and love like everything else I do in my life!


Below are a few more selfies of my kids and I that I like. Do you have a favorite picture of you and your child? Do you have a favorite picture of you and your parents/grandparents/foster parents? Are you thankful for those pictures?



Landon and I from 2013.
Landon, Logan, and I from 2013.





Monday, July 10, 2017

Fisher Price Calming Vibrations Soother Review

If you read my blog, you probably know that writing reviews aren't what I really do. However, if it is baby or kid related, I would like to start writing reviews for other parents. It fits my family life theme that I do have on my blog, so it is not a different niche. If you have a baby/kid related item that needs tested and reviewed, I would love to do it so please contact me. This review is about a toy that I have had since our third child, Liam, was one month old. I got it because it was all the rave about calming babies when they sleep.  The toy is Fisher Price Calming Vibrations Soother. We have it in the blue elephant. This is the link to it on the Fisher Price website: http://fisher-price.mattel.com/shop/en-us/fp/everything-baby-gear/calming-vibrations-cuddle-soother-bfl65.


What Is It?
This toy comes as an elephant in blue or pink and as a dog in white. It also has a varying form of it as a ballerina bear. All four of those links will take you to where you can purchase them from. They take three AA batteries, so definitely stock up on batteries. They are toys/animals that play vibrate and play music for about ten minutes. They all have great reviews from customers that it helps put their babies to sleep whether at home or in the car. It helps to calm babies and help them fall asleep a little bit better. People that I know that have it call a magical elephant, because it really works like magic to help babies sleep when needed.


Our Experience
Our experience with it for my last three children has been wonderful and just like experiences that other customers have had. With Liam it helped him sleep until he was about 8 months. I had first learned about it in a group of moms I was in for babies Liam's age (August mommies 2014). We got it, like I said, when Liam was one month old and he instantly loved it. It instantly helped him fall asleep when he was tired. The vibration and music calmed him down quickly after he would eat and right when he would need to sleep. We used it with him until he was eight months old. At that point, we either forgot to give it to Liam, or Liam would fall asleep on his own without the elephant. He also was sleeping through the night at that point so we did not need the elephant as often in the middle of the night to help him fall back asleep after so many wakings during the night.

Liam with the elephant.
 Lucas was born December of 2015, so I of course decided I would use the elephant for him as well. We loved the elephant for when Liam was a baby. The elephant worked its 'magical' powers on Lucas as well. Lucas did not use it as long as Liam did. Lucas used it until he was about four month old. At that point, I can definitely say we forgot to give it to him a lot. However, we never really needed to because Lucas was a really good sleeper for a baby. Lucas also took a pacifier. Liam did not take a pacifier so the elephant was Liam's pacifier, in a way.

Lucas with the elephant.
As my readers know, Leliana is our current baby (one month old). I have not written in a few weeks so I will update a little about her. She has been home from the NICU for a month (Thursday was a month). The first few weeks went well sleep wise sine we came home. However, since I last wrote she has become a little bit colicky. I remembered that we had this elephant and I started using it with her. At first it was not so magical. As of a week and a half ago, when she started sleeping in her bassinet, it began to work its magical powers. She now loves it. As I write this, I need to replace the batteries so we can use it tonight. The music and vibrations soothe her. Along with the elephant, she has to be swaddled just so and have her pacifier. She uses both the elephant and the pacifier. Our experience with her, the elephant has been a life saver since as my readers know we have four older boys. Having something that will calm Leliana other than myself/me nursing her/my husband, is great.

Leliana and the elephant.
Our experience with the elephant has been great. It has calmed our babies down when they have been fussy/colicky/sleepy. I highly recommend it if you have a baby or if you know someone who is going to have a baby. It makes for a great baby shower gift. It is less than $20 which is great on the wallet! As you can see it lasts a long time! We got it in September of 2014 and it is now July 2017. It is almost three years old! I love that it is made by Fisher Price, which is one of my favorite toy companies that makes toys for kids. They did a wonderful job with these music/vibration toys. I give this toy an A+ in my book. I only wish I had it when my older two kids were babies, because they would have loved it as well.

In short, it is a great toy, easy on the wallet, perfect for babies, durable, and really just perfect! Let me know in the comments if you know of any other toys that calm babies. Also, let me know your thoughts on this toy and share this review as well. Thank for reading my first review!








Thursday, June 22, 2017

First Weeks At Home For Leliana

We came home with Leliana from the NICU on June 6. Since then, it has been wonderful getting adjusted as a family of seven. Things are beginning to fall into place with a bit of a routine. Her four big brothers are so in love with her. She has had quite a few outings since coming home that I will write about.

Leliana's First Week At Home: June 6-June 13
Leliana's first week at home was a little nerve wracking because Rob had to go back to work the day after we got home. He had to work the whole rest of that week from 9-9. He did four twelve hour days. It was rough on him, because he had no time to rest well after us coming home with Leliana. Thankfully after his four long days, he got three days off in a row. Being a stay at home mom, this really did not affect us too much. I just had to go with the flow and adjust to Leliana's schedule of when she would eat to figure out when I would do breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the boys. I also worked around her schedule to figure out when I would do other things like cleaning, laundry, etc. As I write this, we still are on a day to day basis of how we do things during the day because of Leliana's schedule. Her schedule is getting a little more consistent.

Her first week home consisted of going to my 2 week post op appointment, where I was cleared to drive again and I could lift things a little heavier than Leliana, just nothing above 25lbs. until my 6 week appointment which is July 5. She also went to her first doctor's appointment on June 8. At that appointment her pediatrician learned everything that had happened. We got Leliana established as a patient at our pediatrician. At that appointment Leliana weighed 6lbs. 5oz. and was 19 and 3/4in. She was up 2oz. since leaving the hospital. Our pediatrician told us to continue to supplement while nursing. After that appointment is when Leliana began to want less of the supplement and more of my milk (YAY!). After two days of appointments, the boys and I had two days to relax and not go anywhere. I posted this to Facebook in those two days: "Adjusting to having a new baby in the house has been going fairly well. I will be honest, once the boys go to bed, I've been going to sleep on the couch until Rob gets home. Somehow Leliana's schedule has lined up that she is asleep when the boys go to bed. I put everything aside and get some sleep too. Sleep when all the kids sleep, right?
I am so glad, that after 16 nights of not being able to get up in the middle of the night with my baby girl, that I get to. Yes, I enjoy the middle of the night wake ups. Some parents try to rush to get their baby to sleep through the night, but as someone who knows what it is like to miss out on the middle of the night wake ups (Leliana isn't our first baby I have missed middle of the night wakings with), I'm in no hurry for her to sleep through the night and I will take all the middle of the night wakings that I can. I stayed awake for 30 minutes after one of the times Leliana ate last night. I enjoyed some time I didn't get with her while she was in the NICU. Rob and the boys were sleeping so it was just her and I. How I wish I could have those 16 nights back. Yet, I know we can't, so I will do everything I can to make up the time. Staying awake a little longer with her is one way how I'll do it." As you can see from that post, I was so happy to be doing what I missed out on during all our time in the NICU.
Headed to my doctor's appointment.
After my appointment. It wore her out.
Napping the same time her 4 brothers were napping.
Ready for her first appointment.

Morning of her appointment.
Resting after her appointment.
Enjoying cuddles with my 17 month old. He was still adjusting.
Lucas finally wanted to hold Leliana.
Leliana has been letting me cook dinner and eat with the boys. She chilled like this one evening her first week.
Lucas loves the camera.
Leliana at 3 weeks old on June 10.
Sunday, June 11, Rob began his three days off work. We went to church for the first time as a family of seven. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know my faith is important to me. Going to church, even five days after bringing Leliana home was important to us. Rob, Rob's mom, and myself were the only ones who held her. Our church friends were so happy to see us back home and to see Leliana was doing well. After church, we came home and ate lunch. Then we decided to go to our friend's property (a farm) near a local lake and spend time with our big group of friends and their kids. We had not seen them for at least two to three weeks. It was fun to spend time with them and we celebrated the birthday of one of our friends as well. The boys got dirty from playing outside, but they had such fun, even when we had to pick ticks off of them after getting them home.
First church outfit.
Me and my kids.
Family picture.

Liam, Landon, and Lucas
Lucas

My friend Amanda holding Leliana.
Tired after a long day outside!
Monday and Tuesday were Rob's last two days off work before doing four more long days in a row. Monday consisted of grocery shopping with Leliana. Logan went with me to be a big helper. Tuesday, Leliana was back at the doctor for a weight check. She weighed 6lbs. and 11oz. She gained 6oz. inside of five days.
Ready for the store!
Logan helping me at the store.
Looking cute!
Thinking about life.
Baby feet!
Leliana's first week was pretty smooth. She slept great at night and she slept through the noise of her brothers during the day. My first week back in the swing of things went pretty well. I got the kids on a consistent schedule. All five kids nap at the same time every day. They also go to bed around the same time. Adjusting that first week went smoothly. We did discover that she does not like sleeping in her bassinet, but she does like sleeping in her Rock n Play. She swam in her newborn clothes. She looked adorable in doing so. 

Leliana's Second Week Of Being Home: June 13-June 20
Rob had to work four long day again (Wednesday through Saturday). On Wednesday I gave all five kids a bath before bed time. I amazed myself at how well I did. I was able to do the same thing on Saturday as well which was the night before church. The four days my husband worked consisted more of continuing to find a groove to get more settled. I think we finally did find a groove by this point. Saturday we made Father's Day cards for Rob. Of course we went to church for Father's Day. On Monday, Rob had to work but not until 2 p.m. so he was home with in the morning and gave me a hand during lunch and nap time. Tuesday Leliana had her ONE MONTH check up. June 20, she turned one month old. It was hard to believe. She weighed 7lbs. 5oz. and was 20in. long. She is in the 7th percentile for weight and 4th percentile for height. The doctor switched to the preemie chart and Leliana is in the 50th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for height. The doctor said we could decrease her supplement even more. She is almost at the point of nursing only, which is what I want.
Loves her Rock n Play
After bath for all 5!
Cloth diaper for newborn!
Belly time
One Month Pictures!

This brings us to today, June 22. I have got caught up on my blog. All in all Leliana's first two weeks here at home have been amazing. In the past few days she has been sleeping well at night and only waking up once in the middle of the night to eat. She seems like a very laid back baby. I love how chill she is during the dinner hour, which can be stressful here because Rob works a lot during the dinner hour. He does have some nights when he is home for dinner (last night and he will be home this Saturday night). Other than the dinner hour being a little crazy at times, the boys seem to be adjusting to having a new baby in the house. They adore their sister. Though my hands are full, my heart is even fuller! I love my kids very much and I love that I can stay home with them. Summer is beginning to become fun instead of busy!

What will be going on in Leliana's third week here at home? This weekend my grandparents are coming to visit with my two cousins. My grandfather's birthday is Sunday so we will be celebrating that. My husband works Monday and then Tuesday will be my husband's and mine 8th wedding anniversary. We don't have a big date planned, but we plan to spend it as a family going to some doctor appointments. I will write a post about my husband and our anniversary in the next few days.
Little smile from Leliana.
I hope my readers have enjoyed reading about our first few weeks here at home with Leliana. Has anyone experienced bringing home a new baby? Share about it in the comments. If you haven't, share something you are thankful for. What I have written about, I'm so thankful to God for. He has blessed our family!