A Year in Review: Why I’m Holding Onto 2020

A Year in Review: Why I’m Holding Onto 2020

Everyone has talked and posted about how awful 2020 has been. Most have had the perspective that this year has been so hard with many trials and tribulations, that they just want it to be over. Many have lost loved ones, lost their jobs, had to close their small businesses, and had to make very difficult decisions for themselves or their family. The year has tested us all. So many of us are wishing 2020 a speedy farewell!

But not me. I’m holding on to 2020 in these final hours as much as I can.

For me, 2020 was life changing. We started the year out with the first anniversary of losing a sweet babe, but being very hopeful and anxious with only a few months left until our rainbow baby was due.

March 13, 2020 was a completely normal day. I was teaching and prepping my classroom for my last week of work before the baby was to be born. I had just gotten all of my students on the bus when all of the adults were running and buzzing with the news that the governor was closing schools across the state due to the pandemic. I don’t think the pandemic felt real until that afternoon. I had the mindset that I had one more week at school before maternity leave. One more week with my beloved students and now I had received news that I wouldn’t even get to tell them goodbye. This was it.

In the back of my mind I knew this was also going to be my last day as a teacher in that third grade classroom. Although I hadn’t made an official decision about whether I would return to work after my maternity leave was up, I subconsciously knew this was it.

The whole thing left me very pregnant and very emotional. Pregnancy after loss had enough fears in itself but now on top of worrying about whether I was going to deliver a healthy baby, I also had to worry about Covid-19 and all that brought with it. Changes were being made at the hospital daily. The news was reporting each day about the rise in cases. Having a baby during a pandemic was completely unexpected, nerve racking, terrifying, but also so worth it.

Less than a month later we welcomed our sweet rainbow baby into the world and into a very small bubble. Over the next few months, we decided to homeschool our kids. Our oldest son moved to his moms to attend school there which was another huge transition for us. And I quit my job to be a stay at home mama.

So. Many. Changes.

My feelings this year? Ugh. Emotional roller coaster. Every day it seems there’s something new to worry about. If I didn’t have anxiety before the pandemic, I definitely do now! The constant worrying about what decisions to make and how to protect my family. The constant pressure to do things that I wasn’t comfortable doing. Wanting to do what’s best for us and having to deal with the consequences of saying no to people. The stigma in our town that Covid “couldn’t come here” or that “it’s all a bunch of bull.”… When I’m over here praying to God each night that the virus stays away from us. It was a lot.

And on top of my feelings and fears of Covid, there was a lot of disappointment. I was heartbroken that my five year old wouldn’t be able to experience a true year of kindergarten. I was devastated that my kids couldn’t visit us in the hospital when we had baby Beau. I was sad that my daughters had to abruptly leave school and couldn’t see their friends anymore. I was disappointed that our son missed his last year of playing rec league baseball and our daughter missed out on her first year of softball. I was terrified every day, every time we went out, and with every request from a family member to come over that we would contract the virus and get really sick.

However…. above my fears I realized this year has been the biggest blessing.

My kids have been healthier than ever. They have grown closer to each other. I haven’t missed a single snuggle, kiss, laugh, or cry.

In what would normally be a very busy time of running kids back and forth to practices, rushing off to school in the mornings, getting home late, grabbing quick dinners, cramming for tests and exams, arguing over homework…. everything that was completely normal and now is nonexistent is everything I didn’t realize we needed a break from.

It’s funny how life can give us unexpected miracles right when we need them. Things we had begun to take for granted had suddenly become special. And things we were super rigid on as parents seemed like not that big of a deal.

We let the kids stay up late and sleep in. We let them have Snapchat so they could connect with their friends. They ate all the snacks and drank some soda and laughed and played and enjoyed life. Even if it was different and anything but normal.

I have been able to breastfeed Beau with no pumping or having to drop him off at daycare listening to him cry for me when I leave. I’ve rocked him to sleep for every nap time and he has fallen asleep in my arms every night. No snotty noses or coughs from being in a classroom with germs. There’s been less schedules and more lazy afternoons. We spent weekends on our boat going on adventures and fishing, enjoying the great outdoors. We went on vacations anyway even when we were told to stay home. We. Enjoyed. Time. Together.

Our kids are healthy and safe, and while they might be missing their friends or some of the “normalcy” we used to know, they have made the absolute best of it and are still enjoying life. So while most of the country is kissing 2020 goodbye tonight, I’ll be whispering a “thank you” for giving me the one thing I didn’t know I needed more of… time.

Xoxo,

MK

2020 Holiday Gift Guide

2020 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s the holidays!!!! That means holiday shopping and gift giving. Well I have 6 kids to buy for so I’m here to share ideas and deals that I found this year!

Teens and tweens – I have an 18 year old, a 13 year old, and a 10 year old daughter. Beauty products are my go-to! I have some really picky daughters when it comes to clothes and their style. So beauty and skincare products are always a win in my house!

Links:

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser click here.

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Cream click here.

Makeup Blenders click here.

NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette click here.

NYX Highlight & Contour Palette click here.


Ok so next up are my favorite clothing items! Whether it’s your sister, your teen daughter, or maybe just yourself.. these are cute and comfy!

Womens mid-rise skinny jeans click here.

Black fleece Crewneck click here.

Riders Jean jacket click here.

Black leggings click here.

Waffle knit Crewneck pullover sweater click here.

Black puffer vest click here.


And here are some BOY clothes because y’all know I’m a boy mama!

Boys Dino hoodie and pants set click here.

Boys raglan tee click here.

Baby boy onesie and pants set click here.

Long sleeve striped onesies click here.

Cloud pajamas click here.

Plaid boys zip up sweatshirt click here.


Last but not least.. the kids favorite things! Toys! Here are some great toy gift ideas for your littles and older kiddos! My thirteen year old daughter’s most wanted gift was paint sets! We actually splurged and got her some more expensive sets from Amazon but I found this cool inexpensive set at Walmart! My ten year old daughter wanted AirPods (ha!) and our budget didn’t quite allow for the Apple version so we found these on clearance at Walmart that will hopefully work just as good!

Horse ride on walker click here.

Stacking toy click here.

Boys bike click here.

Art set click here.

Wireless earbuds click here.

3-pack caterpillar construction toys click here.


So there you have it! My favorite gift choices for our kids this Christmas! Now to wrap everything!

Happy holidays!

Xoxo,

MK

There’s no place like home

There’s no place like home

I’ve always been a homebody. Ask my mama. When I was in preschool, I would cry and cry during nap time because I wanted to go home. When I was a little girl, I hated sleepovers. My mama even had to come get me once from a friend’s house late at night because I wouldn’t stay. As a grown up, I LOVE to travel but my favorite place will always be our home.

After Gene and I got married and we became his, hers, and ours… we began taking trips and opened our hearts and children up to how wonderful it is to travel. We aren’t rich by any means but we make it a priority to take vacations each year. We have made our own tradition to take the kids somewhere different, somewhere they’ve never been, every year. We are fortunate and proud to be able to provide these experiences for our children. Traveling with a big family is definitely something they will always remember!

This pandemic has put a halt to life as we know it, especially to anyone’s travel plans. Who knows if we will even get to take a vacation this year. As sad as that makes me, it doesn’t bother me to stay home. I’m not one to always have to go somewhere. I value the time I get on the weekends to stay home and clean. I always find a way to be productive around the house. There’s always a project that can be done! Gene is the same way. He would much rather be at home in the yard with the kids or grilling in the backyard than running the roads.

I know there’s many of you that say you aren’t cut out for being a stay at home mom or that homeschooling isn’t for you. But for me, I could actually swing it. If you know me, you know how organized I am. Creating my own schedule for the day and organizing our day for the kids is definitely something I could thrive on.

I know this isn’t true homeschooling fashion. I’m totally fine with letting them sleep in, and letting them go outside to play. Honestly, what’s being required of them now that school is out is too much. Yes, they are used to sitting in a classroom at a desk for 7 hours a day but they can’t possibly do all of that work they would normally do at school, at home.

Number one, there are too many distractions here. My home is not set up to be a learning environment. Number two, I might be a teacher but I’m not a Spanish teacher, okay? I can’t assist them with everything. They need help from teachers that they would normally receive in the classroom but it’s not that easy to receive that kind of support at home. Number three, our kids don’t know what to do. This is a crazy time and they are just as unsure of everything as we are.

So no I’m not going to make them sit at our kitchen table all day. I’m going to let them go outside and play. I’m going to let them watch movies. I’m going to let them go on 4-wheeler rides and sit by the fire pit past bedtime.

I know this pandemic is an awful, terrible thing that has caused so much disruption and chaos, illness and death. We are disappointed that we, like the rest of our country, are having to sacrifice many things we love. We may not be able to travel again for a while. We aren’t going to be able to have the kids visit our hospital room when the new baby is born. We can’t spend this spring going fun places. The girls may not be able to celebrate their birthdays the way they’d like to.

But above all of that, today we are healthy. Today we are together. Today we can hug each other. And we are just going to take one day at a time being grateful that the world has slowed down a little bit.

We may be quarantined, but honestly there’s no other place I’d rather be.

There’s no place like home.

-The Wizard of Oz

Xoxo,

MK

Yes I have 4 kids and yes my house is clean!

Yes I have 4 kids and yes my house is clean!

I’m not superwoman. I’m not a miracle worker. I’m just a mom who likes a clean home… and likes the value it brings in raising our kids!

I’m not going to lie.. there are days and times when it’s NOT the neatest. Muddy footprints. Dog hair. Spilled milk. Pencil marks on the wall. You name it.. our kids have probably done it.

So when I say I’m a mom who likes a clean home… I do… but I work my butt off cleaning up after everyone on a daily basis. (And have come up with a whole bunch of life hacks along the way!)

Here’s how I do it. I’m giving you all the secrets!

1. Make the kids help. (And hubby too!)

One day when our kids are married their spouses are going to thank me for training them so well! The truth is I can’t maintain this house all on my own! It’s a team effort. Unloading and loading and washing dishes are a daily chore for our kiddos. Laundry? Uh yea they do their own! And from time to time they vacuum and sweep for me!

2. Set expectations in your household.

All humans who live in my home know how I like my house. They know if they track muddy prints in I’m not going to be happy. They also know if I walk by their room and see dirty clothes all over the floor, I’m definitely going to stop and say something about it. They know better than to leave dirty dishes on the table. Once you set these expectations and don’t let them get away with failing to uphold them, life will be a whole lot easier. Think about how much of this you don’t have to worry about because they will just do it… without you having to ask!

3. Do something each day.

I was getting overwhelmed on the weekends trying to do everything in one day or sometimes just a few hours. It’s so hard when your weekdays are busy with work and after school activities. I was waiting to do it all on the weekends which most working mamas probably do! For me, it’s much easier to break my household chores up and do a little bit every day! Find things that will help you accomplish this such as a Swiffer Wet Jet or by keeping your favorite multipurpose cleaner out in an easy to grab spot. My biggest challenge is keeping my floors clean. I chose that to be my daily priority. The Swiffer has made keeping the dog hair to a minimum and saves me a lot of time! It’s a quick and easy way to go over the floors in the evening either with the wet pads or dry pads. Pick something that’s feasible to do every day and commit to it!

4. Have a take-your-shoes-off at the door rule!

Hands down the easiest way to maintain clean floors is by making sure no one wears shoes in the house. Our home is definitely a no shoes zone! If you think about everywhere your shoes have been… public restrooms, mud puddles, stepping in dog poop… then you would jump on the opportunity to enforce this rule!

5. Declutter often.

Don’t let things pile up! Dedicate a weekend every few months to go through kids’ rooms and discard broken items or trash and donate toys and clothes that are no longer wanted! Do the same thing with the other closets such as the coat closet, linen closet, and YOUR closet! Recognize “clutter hot spots” in your house and rearrange or change things up to force you not to leave “stuff” laying there. For us, the kitchen bar always gets piled with random “stuff,” including mail, wallets, can coozies, pens, and the list goes on. I put a cute wire tray there with a basket in it for mail and a lamp beside it to deter my peeps from piling stuff up on an empty counter. Trust me it works!

Being neat and clean isn’t just me being seriously OCD! It’s teaching our kids how to be independent and responsible. It’s also teaching them how to give things up, because having an abundance of material items isn’t necessary to be happy. It teaches them compassion when they choose which of their old toys to donate to Goodwill. It teaches them teamwork. Have you ever seen THREE kids unload the dishwasher at one time? Our kids have it down to a science! It allows them to contribute to running our home. Acceptance. We aren’t just the mean ol’ parents fussing at them to do stuff. We value their hard work! They aren’t just spoiled rotten and lazy… which don’t get me wrong sometimes they are! But they are being taught to work hard for rewards. They are being taught that we work for what we have and that things don’t always come easy to us in life. We are teaching them that life is full of “I wants” but first we have to do the “I musts.”

I’ve read blogs where mamas believe in spending less time worrying about cleaning. That the dishes can wait because they are only going to be little once. And those mamas are completely right. It’s NOT always all about keeping things neat and tidy. There are times we say “screw it,” let’s enjoy staying outside a little later than normal because it’s a nice evening. Oh, we definitely do that too! But keeping a clean home is more than that. Our time with them as kids is going to go by so fast. And we will always, always make time to enjoy them. I’m also looking at the big picture. I’m thinking about teaching them these values. I’m thinking about what they will be like when they are raising their own families.

I am proud of how we are raising our big family. So yes, my house is clean and neat… even with four kids living here!

Xoxo,

MK

Pregnant during the pandemic

Pregnant during the pandemic

I think it’s safe to say that everyone is aware of the worldwide pandemic that is the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The media surrounding this virus has provoked fear, panic, and skepticism across our country. Schools are closed, events are cancelled, sports seasons are halted, and grocery stores have cut back their open hours. We have been encouraged to stay at home, refrain from going to the park or have play dates with friends. It seems the internet and news programs have forgotten about much else besides this virus. The average healthy person may or may not be worried about catching the virus, but what if you’re pregnant?

The CDC tells us that because COVID-19 is a new disease, we do not know yet if a pregnant woman has a greater chance of contracting the virus nor do we know how the virus impacts pregnancy or whether it can be passed on to the unborn baby. The CDC website states that there have only been very few cases in pregnant women and that much is still unclear. Read more here – (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fpregnancy-faq.html)

In a way the data is positive in the fact that the numbers of pregnant women who have had the Coronavirus are very low. There have only been a small number of complications with pregnancies in women who have had Coronavirus and those outcomes cannot be solely blamed on the virus itself, according to the CDC. Overall, pregnant women should still be cautious and stay away from anyone who is sick, just as they would treat the flu or strep throat, or the stomach bug.

Does this information take my fears away? Absolutely not. I was anxious and nervous about birthing a healthy baby before I even had knowledge about what this virus was and way before the virus came to America.

Does this information increase my fear at 8 months pregnant? Absolutely. The fact that there is so much unknown is scary. However, what’s more scary to me is how people are reacting to all of this. It’s a pandemic of panic.

My biggest fear is that I would have the virus and have to be separated from my baby after delivery. (This happened in England!) Although I would never want to get my newborn sick, I am more concerned that because of the hype surrounding this virus and the precautions that have been put in place by hospitals to protect us due to the hysteria, that those special first few minutes, hours, and days with my newborn could be compromised if I were to test positive for the virus. What if this virus could affect me simply as a bad cold and not harm my baby at all? I get it. So much is unknown and we can’t take any chances. Can you imagine not being able to immediately bond with your baby?

I am not trying to downplay this serious virus by any means and these precautions may be necessary and in our best interests… But I can’t help but be prematurely disappointed in how this may affect our delivery. I have been looking forward to spending those first few days with our baby in our little hospital room bubble since the day we found out we were pregnant. I have been looking forward to seeing our other children’s faces as they walk in our room to see the new baby for the first time. Granted, I’ll still get to see their reaction, even if it’s not until we get home since our hospital has now implemented new visitation rules stating no children may visit a patient. And we will still be in a little hospital bubble at some point, but so much is unknown and out of our control because of the craziness that has been provoked recently that it does cause us to be anxious and nervous about what will happen when our baby decides to make his or her entrance into this world.

I will heed all precautions and avoid people and public places and the Lord knows I’ve been washing my hands like crazy. I will sadly stay away from Target. (Internally crying) I will continue to be the germaphobe that I have always been when it comes to trying to avoid any kind of sickness. But the only way to get through this with a peaceful mind is to have faith in God. This is all out of our control and there’s nothing I can do about the hospital policies or when the baby decides to come. There’s nothing I can do about the way the entire world is going ballistic. I can only have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. That’s. All. I. Can. Do.

When the fear sets in, I have to remind myself that we have overcome SO MUCH to get this far… surgery to remove my IUD, over a year of trying to get pregnant, a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, and everything in between… After many negative pregnancy tests… after we had stopped “trying,” and those two little pink lines appeared out of the blue… We have made it through every ultrasound and every prenatal appointment with flying colors. We have spent 9 months worrying and hoping and preparing for… now.

The world can’t hurt this joy.

I will do everything in my power to protect this baby, as I would do if there wasn’t a pandemic outside my front door. All that’s left for us to do is keep the faith and trust in God, praying that this too shall pass.

Stay healthy my preggo friends!

Xoxo,

MK