Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Organized Ways..

One thing that I have noticed through the last decade of bearing 5 children is the more I had, the more I craved order.

LOVE me so order..

Chaos ensues hourly within these walls of mine. Lucky for me I have the most challenging ages under the same roof at one time.  Teen, Pre-teen, 8 (there is something about 8 that just drives me batty), 2 (almost 3, which is like arguing with a drunk person EVERY SINGLE DAY, only they don't sober up for an entire YEAR) and a newborn.  Do you see my need for order?

Organization is right up there with God in keeping me semi-sane.


OK, maybe not always in that order. But pretty darn close.

Now let me remind you that being organized does NOT mean that I am consistent. In fact I am so very inconsistent at being consistent. That saying it takes 15 days to form a new habit.. I will never know because I've never made it that far. Being inconsistent is most likely the reason I crave organization and why I am constantly revamping my organized ways. To some how bring order to my chaos.

Anyway, some of you asked me to show you some of my madness.

First, the daily routine. I created this because running a homeschooled house with all those ages is distracting. Depending on how much sleep I get, I know that I can refer to the routine without having to use my brain to much or I send the kids to read it so they stay on track.

(click on image to make it bigger)

I laminated two, then posted one right outside their bedroom door and one on the front of the fridge. We try to stick to this routine M-F during the school year. Since I had Cayte in the middle of our school year things have been a little wonky so we are still trying to do school through the summer. So far, not so good. ;) Most days we push everything back on that routine an hour.

Second there is my 2 week menu plan. There are a lot of free templates on Pinterest  for meal planning. I signed up for Motivated Moms  7 or 8 years ago and it came with a template. It's a plain jane simple to the point menu plan. I have tried others, but always come back to using this one. :)

I do not stick to the dates. Since we rarely eat out I use this as my restaurant menu. I know that I have all the ingredients to make anything on there, so I pick one that I feel like making and then highlight it so I don't make it again within the next two weeks. I usually put this on the side of my fridge.

(front of my fridge)

To the right of the daily routine is the Parent Chore Chart.  Then I have the kids chore charts. I am VERY VERY grumpy when I have a messy house.  When I don't follow this, and my kids don't follow their chore chart- hell hath no fury. I raise Cain. I scratch my head like no tomorrow. (if you ask my kids what that means they will tell you "clear the room, she's gonna blow!"). Sad, but true.

We pay the kids each $30 dollars a month at the beginning of each month. Every day just before dinner Dale checks to make sure they have done all of their chores. For each chore they haven't done they give us a dollar. Whatever they are left with at the end of the month is their paycheck. We did the daily commission, we did allowances. But I was tired of being on them all the time for doing their job. In the real world your employer is not going to press their thumb upon you to make sure you are doing your work correctly, and he sure as heck isn't going to pay you for work you don't do. The deal with paying them in advance is that they can not spend the money until the end of the month. It seems to be working the best out of all the other things I have ever tried.

Just this month I created a new "chore" for them to do. If you look at the chore charts you will see each one of them has a day where it says- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. It's important to Dale and I to teach them life skills so they can function well as adults. So they have been making or help make one meal in each category each week.

Tables/Chairs means they wipes them down.
Dishes means they are either loading or unloading the dishwasher.

I usually switch this around from my master list of chores every 3-6 months so they all learn how to do a chore properly. I believe having them do chores not only teaches them how to keep a proper house when they decided to move out, but it also prevents entitlement issues.


The world owes them nothing. My job as being a stay at home mom is not to be their slave. It's to instruct and train them up in the way they should go. We are all in this together. It's what works for our family. Dale and I feel a conviction to implement these things. To each their own.. ;) I say this because some believe kids should be able to make messes and not be accountable for their actions. Creating a wicked sense of self entitlement. No Thanks! We make plenty of messes around here, but we work together as a team to clean them up. :)

So, there you have it. My organized ways. And just to keep it real. A before and after picture of what happens when mom doesn't follow the parent chore chart.

The Laundry Room



Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Season.

This July, we will be married 14 years.
This October will mark 14 years in the Coast Guard. 
We are currently on our fourth station. 
This house is our 12th home since being married.

I have rallied with each new move.. 
Each new station..
Each new curve ball that comes with being married to a military man. 

But this station.. 
I have yet to rally. 
I have yet to find my groove.
I am struggling.

What pisses me off the most is I can't put my finger on it.


Whatever IT is needs to leave. 
It was never invited to our 3 year tropical vacation.
It has created some serious self doubt.
It keeps trying to diluted what I have always known as truth.
It tries to rob me of my joy- daily. 
It whispers lies. 
It is no longer welcome. 

My kids are healthy. 
My husbands job provides more than we need.
An unexpected pregnancy turned into an amazing blessing of bringing home a beautiful daughter!!!

But seriously-  

This year has ROCKED me to my core! 

I guess we came into this tour with too many unrealistic expectations.
One too many curve balls thrown our way. 

I don't want to spend the next 2 years here barely surviving. I am tired of treading water. 
I am exhausted. I want to THRIVE here. I want my kids to reflect back on this tour and smile at all the cool experciences we had as a family.  I want to stop comparing this place to previous stations. 

I want a church to get plugged into. I NEED a place to feel connected.

I want REAL friends. I NEED real friends that come and drag me out of my house.  I want friends that look past Braless Mondays, Showerless Tuesdays, Shoot me it's only Wednesdays, Trashed House Thursdays, and Desperate to get through this day Fridays

I have AMAZZZZZING (off this island) lovely, supporting, encouraging, call me out, create special hashtags to remind me it's ok to be real with them- friends. But a girl needs a local support system too.

The alternative is booze and Oreos. Which will just make me fatter than I already am.

So if you are reading this...  Please pray that just the right friends would come along and pull me out of my funk and that Satan's whispers fall on deaf ears.. :) 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hell Week..

SUNDAY: We were to start our very first Home Fellowship Group, Dale got called in to work, we had to cancel.

MONDAY: Dale started his first day of working Nights, Jeremiah fell and had to get NINE staples in the back of his head.

 TUESDAY: Shane fell at the skate park and broke his arm (BAD), bone sticking out, will never forget that image- bad!

WEDNESDAY: After waiting in two different limited English speaking ER's with Shane for over 24 hours, with the other kids waiting in the HOT parking lot for 8 of those 24 hours- Shane finally had surgery at 6:30pm. Hospital policy would not let Cayte or any child under 12 in his room or even on his floor.

THURSDAY: We had purchased a package deal to enjoy a nice family retreat at a Resort in San Juan before all of the above went down. They wouldn't refund us the money so Caleb, Ian, Jeremiah, Cayte and I drove 2 hours after visiting Shane in the hospital (already 2 hours from our house), got lost in the mountains, cell phone died, baby screamed. Only to check out the next morning leaving our MAC computer with Caleb's school work on it along with his cell phone at the hotel. We didn't enjoy the amenities, not with Shane in the hospital and Jeremiah's head wound.

(Jeremiah enjoyed people watching while I packed)

FRIDAY: While visiting Shane in the hospital, I noticed that Jeremiah's staples were not looking so good. It took two nurses along with myself holding his strong little body down for the doc to finally get them out in the ER, only for them to recommend he be admitted for IV antibiotics due to an infection in the wound along with an abscess. I begged to try oral first given our situation, they agreed. 

SATURDAY: Went to 4 different pharmacies trying to fill the antibiotics from Jeremiah, NOT ONE had it in stock. Caleb went to the beach with some friends and ended up coming home with over 15 sea urchins in his feet. 

SUNDAY: Cayte and I came down with a sever THRUSH infection. Ripped Nipples on top of that, added to the fun!

.......Reflecting back on my HELL WEEK, each day felt so VERY heavy. 
I cried. A lot. 

Dale was at the hospital with Shane. 
I was Alone. Confused. Frustrated. MAD!

I felt like each and every day that something ELSE happened I was physically/spiritually being SOCKED by the enemy. At the end of each of those days I longed for the comfort of my husbands arms around me.

I prayed every night that the Lord would spare DEATH from my family.
I felt like Job.  Continually being hit with discouraging, heavy news.

This week I am thankful that the Lord carried me through the valley. That my small issues were just that, SMALL- considering what Job lost. Not once did I question if God was there with us in each and every issue that arose. Going through the Refiners Fire is PAINFUL! I had hope that there would be an END to this season. That we would be refined. Stronger and more beautiful than before. We just needed to keep seeking HIM regardless the weather.. He WOULD bring good from this craziness.. This is the speech I echoed to my boys throughout this week. But honestly, at the end of each day- I questioned my own pep talks. I earnestly wanted my children to believe in my words- yet didn't believe myself. 

Pretty sure PRAYERS and BREASTFEEDING were the only things that kept me SOBER!! ;) 

I did have my moments of not handling things Christ like. Pretty sure my Savior never uttered the F bomb.. I did. Too many times! I cursed Puerto Rico. I cursed the Devil. I cursed the traffic to and from the hospital. I tearfully apologized to my kids and husband daily!

Where the hell was the easy button?

Couldn't the Lord see I was waving the white flag. In my mind I was screaming- "I surrender, Lord. What is the lesson in this?" What are we doing so wrong to deserve a continual slamming of chaos and pain. I kept praying, "you have my attention Lord, what?!" And all I heard back... 


I don't think HELL WEEK was the Lord bringing correction. I think I was asking the wrong questions. During one of our hospital visits I was talking with Caleb about feeling like Job. And my sweet 13 year old ministered to me.. 

"Mom, Job's friends told him to curse God and die. That is what Satan is trying to get us to do! It's a test, Mom. He doesn't want us seeking God, He is trying to distracting us" 

Man, I love that kid! Such wisdom.. 

I think it WAS a testing of our faith. Because up until that week things had been going pretty well- spiritually. 

Dale and I were kneeling by the bed together every morning in prayer. Reading the word together, doing devotions with the boys. Getting ready to start a home group. This last week has brought the reminder of just how REAL that stupid ole' devil is. And it has also shown me just how HARD seeking Jesus is- regardless of our circumstances. Finding contentment in our Savior when you feel like you are drowning in a sea of chaos is freaking HARD. 


Many said, 

"Jen, you are so strong!" 
"You have nerves of steel!"
"It's amazing how well you are holding up in all of this!"

I didn't respond. I didn't know what to say. Last week was a blur. I went through the motions of life- maintaining the basics. Straight up ROBOT mode. 

The only answer that seems appropriate is the Messiah carried us through.  
Carried ME through.. 

We made it through that week in HIS strength, mercy and grace!!! 

Today, I am thankful.

  • Another Sunday is coming, another attempt to have fellowship with like minded peeps.
  • Neighbors and friends near and far stepped in and acted like family. BLESSED by those who checked in on us, Encouraged me with texts, made a meal, came to the hospital, let us borrow a car, helped translate, sent flowers, babysat. 
  • Jeremiah's responding well to the antibiotics and his wound is healing. 
  • The day after Shane's surgery I was folding laundry and started to weep. So many Mom's come home from the hospital and eventually pull laundry out of the dryer only to mourn a child that is no more. Shane is home from the hospital, no infection, arm still in tact. Bones will heal. 
  • The resort was a place to rest our heads. The kids enjoyed getting room service. And the maid was honest and turned in our computer and phone. They even shipped it back to us for free! Yay!
  • The on base Doc made an exception and changed Jeremiah's script, on a Sat.  so I could get it filled on base. The pharmacist came in on his day off to fill it right away. The sea urchins will eventually come out of Caleb's feet. (Prayers that they do!)
  • Gentian Violet seemed to clear up the thrush. And I am really hoping my nipples heal QUICK. Tips Anyone?
  • My husband is amazing and took the brunt of my CRAZY that came with this past week, and even though I would have liked one day with him home before he had to go back to work, I am thankful his job provides a roof, clothing, food, MEDICAL INSURANCE and so much more. And that when he kisses me goodbye, the scent of his aftershave lingers long after he's gone.
  • Laughter.. And modern medicine. God's healing hand. All things to be thankful for.

Monday, April 22, 2013



Our quiver is full of them.. 
...FOUR to be exact 

With one sweet precious baby girl to complete our crew. 

From the time the boys were babes, they were ACTIVE. Caleb got his first set of stitches at 1.5, his second set at 2.5. Shane has had numerous battle wounds courtesy of his older brother, Caleb or a stunt, trick that didn't quite turn out like it should have. Ian is my more conscious one, mostly acquiring a bump or bruise with nothing too major. Jeremiah is ALL boy, just like his older brothers and I really wouldn't want it any other way.   

They do plenty of things that could lead us to the ER, but for the most part their fearlessness is inspiring.. And sometimes most always, they exhaust the crap out of my adrenal glands.  




 After watching so many wipe outs, and having them come in with missing flesh, bloody noses, mouths, and gravel embedded in various places it shouldn't be.. My nerves are kinda numb, I guess..

-Shane with a pretty funny wipe out-
(Go ahead replay it.. You know you want too!) 

Yep, I'd say- I assess each and every situation, apply pressure or laughter when needed and most of the time yell out for the all mighty New Skin..

Today, was NOT one of those days I calmly assessed the situation. I yelled. And I am pretty sure I dropped a few potty words trying to figure out why the back of Jeremiah's head looked like this-

 Cayte was in the swing. The boys were to be doing their chores. I was upstairs vacuuming our room, Jeremiah was downstairs laying on the spare bed watching Curious George, or so I thought...

It's never good when you can hear blood curdling screams over the vacuum cleaner and music. Ian was crying, Jeremiah was crying. I finally make it to the kitchen. They both were standing there- crying.

"What the hell happened?" 

First potty word dropped. 
Shane and Caleb come running in, tension and chaos increase.  As we all see the stream of blood that has now soaked the back of Jeremiah's head, down onto his shirt. I quickly scoop him up and apply pressure to what looks like the source of where all that blood is coming from. Giving him a dose of Motrin to help ease the throbbing that I am sure is soon to be.

"Ian, what happened?"

Curious George. 
A two year old. 
A eight year old.
Monkeys JUMPING on the bed.

I pull the blood soaked towel away from Jeremiah's head to access the situation. 
LOTS of potty words dropped.

There wasn't enough New Skin in the world to fix this owie.

Dale is at work. I knew I had minutes before the on base medical closed (saving me a trip to the local dirty non english speaking, hours upon hours wait to be seen ER), so I scooped Jeremiah up and rushed out the door. Called Dale on the way.. By this time, Jeremiah was calm. Actually laughing at me as I ran with him in my arms towards the medical building. 

Two duty core-men answer my knock at the back door. And rush me in to an exam room. With first glance, they both almost in unison say he is going to need staples. 

NOT something any mother wants to hear.

Dale finally shows up, and shortly after the Doc comes in from a meeting to see the core-men trying to figure out how to proceed. The Doc changes out of his dress blues and into scrubs and within 20 mins he has numbed and placed N-I-N-E staples in my sweet baby boys head.. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Soo.. Today I quit Facebook. As of this moment, for good.. I had been wrestling with the decision for Y E A R S.. (yes, sad I know- But addicts don't become free from their addiction over night. ;)

As I was saying my prayers last night I made the decision to just do it. QUIT..

Cold Turkey..

No more Facebook "Fasts".
No more deleting the app from my phone, and then re-downloading it only days later.
No more having Dale change the password so I wouldn't be tempted to log in.

Honestly, I kinda feel ashamed to be admitting all that.. Pathetic, right..

Being a stay at home mom, I LOVED LOVED LOVED plugging into my "social network" while I was nursing, during nap times, after dinner, waiting here or there..

I justified it.

Called it "Me Time".

But what I have come to realize is- Facebook made me, well... Socially Inept.. And for lack of a better phrase, a half ass mom, wife and friend.

So I guess in a way, I am trading in my social media for:

Date Nights..
Sillyness with my kids..
Girls Night Out..

Don't get me wrong, Facebook is awesome for staying in touch, especially since we acquire such amazing relationships with so many different folks during all our transfers.  Staying in the loop with family is so much easier too. But I filled my free time with liking statues, reading random boards, and filtering through all the "shared" sayings and quotes. Oh, and the pictures.. Gonna miss those the most!

Facebook made me lazy, disengaged with my kids, my husband, and REAL people in my neighborhood I could be inviting over to play a game, have a drink with or go out for dessert with. At the end of the night, I'd log off and feel frustrated going to bed- yet again getting sucked into the vortex of time lapse Facebook is so good at doing.

Facebook was a H U G E distraction for me. You may be thinking, get a grip Jen. But seriously, it was my Mommy Crack.. I allowed it to control me. Not Cool!

Facebook does not have this effect on everyone, just me!

Being a Momma to five, I have plenty of other things to distract me.

At this exact moment, It actually feels liberating to be free from it. I look forward to filling all those "Me Time" moments with things that will make my heart content at the end of the day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 21 through...

So.. We didn't complete our entire 30 days (Bummed)... But we did do several other things throughout the last couple of months. No pictures to capture the moments. My hope is that they were captured in my boys hearts and will be at the forefront of their minds for a long long time.. Long enough to pass on to their children and grandchildren.. :)

At first I was really hung up on not getting them all done. A day would go by and we didn't get one done. Another week would go by and I would feel a sense of guilt and urgency to get caught up on doing...  Until the Lord gave me a reality check in the matter of the heart.. Totally wrong perspective to have. So I let go of the list. I allowed moments to arise naturally.


The boys started seeing a need, and filling it without our prompting. The whole point of doing this 30 days of Finding THANKS in GIVING act was happening.. Our hearts and eyes were changed to see moments to GIVE and find THANKS in doing so.

 Even though my type A personality reallllllllllllly wanted to check off each and every act- I found contentment LETTING GO of my plan and embracing the moments God allowed to take place..

We've also been enjoying a LOT of moments like this.. :)