Monday, August 21, 2017

Thomas the Train Birthday Party

This past weekend we celebrated our third child's THIRD birthday! He turned three on Saturday. Each birthday is a little hard on me because our kids are growing so fast!

As you can see from the pictures below, Liam has grown so much over the past three years. Three years went by so fast! My heart needs to be still. He is so sweet and full of energy. He is friendly and loves everyone he meets. His laugh and smile are contagious. He is an amazing little brother and big brother. His favorite hobby, besides playing with trains, is eating. He loves his food! He also loves singing 'This Little Light of Mine' and 'Jesus Loves Me'. We are doing something right with him by teaching him to love God. We are so blessed to have him as our third born child.

Liam right after he was born.

Now on to the party. On Sunday we had his birthday party with family and friends. Liam is really into trains, specifically Thomas the Train.


I was excited when I knew he wanted a Thomas themed birthday party. I love throwing birthday parties for my kids. I always do my best to go with the theme they pick. If you read my blog, you know that I turn to Pinterest to get ideas on everything. I saw an awesome idea to make a cupcake train. Here is the original pin: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/55169164168151994/. Here is how his cake turned out:









I also saw on Pinterest an idea to make a food train with containers filled with fruits/veggies and make a train with them. Here is the original pin: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/55169164168151999/. Here is what I did:



For the food trains, I did a fruit train, a veggie train, and a candy train. For the cake I did a cupcake train. We already had the trains and train tracks on hand so I didn't have to buy them just for the party. It was a very easy party to throw and very budget friendly as well. Liam loved his cake! All of our guests really liked the cake, fruit, veggies, and candy as well.

Here are more pictures from the party:






If you have a child that is wanting a Thomas the Train party, hopefully this post gave you some ideas on what to do for your Thomas the Train party.




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.