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!

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

Ways to spend your two week quarantine!

Is it ironic that yesterday I wrote a post about how to pack lunchboxes and today I’m writing about how to spend two weeks at home with your children?! Yesterday, I never would have thought when I was packaging food up for next week’s lunches that I would be sitting here today thinking about spending the next two weeks at home with our kids.

The coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken over our lives. It’s all we see and hear about. Now our Virginia schools are closed for two weeks. Our Rec baseball and softball seasons have been put on hold. So what will you do if you’re going to be home for two weeks with the fam?

Here are some ideas to make this a positive experience!

Put down your phone and read! Grab that book you’ve been trying to make time for. Read to your kiddos! You won’t have to rush to get them home, fed, and in bed so take a few extra minutes to read them a book. They will love you for it!

Watch movies instead of the news. Rent a movie, check out Disney+ or log into your Netflix account. We know the world is going crazy.. distract yourself from the chaos by watching some good ol’ family flicks instead.

Start a project. Use the resources in your home that you already have and get creative. Spray paint that old chair. Paint your front door. Rearrange your closet. Declutter toys and go through clothes. Take that project you haven’t had time to do and dig in! What better time that two weeks at home?

Get outside. It may not be a good idea to travel or leave your home but you’re safe in your own yard! Go outside and play. Challenge your kids to a game of tag or have them play kickball. Swing. Take a walk. Get those flower beds ready for spring and pull those weeds! Make the kids pull weeds! Or just sit outside and read a book! At least we are having nice weather in VA!

Deep clean your house. Coronavirus brings a new meaning to spring cleaning! Get down and clean those baseboards! Clean the showers, flip your mattress, clean your ceiling fans, or wash windows! Do some of that cleaning that you often put off for another day. It will also mentally make you feel better about the sickness that is constantly being discussed in the media. A clean home always makes me feel more comfortable!

Cook dinner and actually sit down with your kids to eat it. How many days out of the week do we actually cook dinner and sit down as a family to eat? For us it’s never. Honestly. I think it’s been since Thanksgiving. Have your kids help cook or bake something! Take the extra time you have to prepare a dinner. Sit down with your kids and enjoy the meal!

Get out those board games! Has it been a hot minute since you played Clue??? How about Monopoly? Everyone has a board game hiding somewhere. Engage your kids and encourage them to put the electronics down and play the game!

Rest. It will probably do your crazy, busy, mom bod some good to get some rest. Binge watch your favorite show. Take a nap while your littles nap. Sleep in if you are as lucky as me and have sleep trained your kids!

We are constantly complaining about not having enough time or being super tired with the every day stresses of life. How many times have you said “Oh I didn’t have time.” Look at the silver lining! You will never regret spending time with your family. The world can be scary. Coronavirus or not, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Let’s try not to live in fear, but to look at every day as a blessing and take advantage of it. Take care of yourself and your family and enjoy them while you’re doing it!

Stay home and stay healthy!

Xoxo,

MK

Lunchbox hacks for every day

With four kiddos in the house packing lunches every day can be a CHORE.

I have bought individualized snacks.. it can get very expensive! Especially when you have to buy them in bulk! The individualized Pringle’s or Lays chips or Cheez-Its… there are few packs in the box and with four kids, they disappear quickly.

I also try to buy some healthy snacks so our kids aren’t eating junk all day long at school.

Here’s what works the best in our house and makes mornings much easier!

Individual yogurt, jello, applesauce and fruit – I just throw them in the fridge on the door or throw them in a plastic container in the fridge. Not all of this has to be refrigerated but with limited storage space in my house this is the best place to store them! The kids can literally open the fridge, grab, and go! I also pre-package fresh fruits and veggies (like baby carrots and grapes) and keep them in the fruit drawer for easy access!

I buy large bags of animal cookies or Doritos for example (because what kid doesn’t love doritos) and then individually bag them up for the week! Graham crackers, fig newtons, and cheez doodles are other choices! Once I bag them up I throw them in a zipper bag so they are all in one place and the kids can grab them easily!

My kids love salad so I’ll also pack salads for them to eat during the week and store them in the fridge for each day!

Our kids pack their own lunches! I haven’t packed their lunches in a couple of years now and teaching them to do this has made a huge difference in the mornings! They know they are limited to a lunch + 3 snacks for the day and they typically stick to it. Make 👏🏻 your 👏🏻 kids 👏🏻 be 👏🏻 responsible 👏🏻 and 👏🏻 independent! All I do is purchase the food and make it easy for them to access! They do the rest!

Honestly I would go insane if I had to pack lunches every day!

Xoxo,

MK

To My Daughters: Marry the man who will always be there

I know it’s easy to fall for the other guy. The one who looks good and talks sweet. The one who takes chances and lives on the edge. Or maybe it’s the one who is nice but doesn’t pay enough attention. He misses your new haircut or doesn’t hold the door for you.

You can love them, but leave them behind. They aren’t for you.

Marry the man who is going to pay attention. Marry the one who opens the door for you and comments on how beautiful you look, even when you’re in a t-shirt, hair in a messy bun, and no makeup on.

Marry the man who is going to wash your hair in the shower and rub your feet on the couch.

Marry the man who makes you laugh… the one who will do his best to make you smile when you’re having a bad day.

Marry the man who is going to cook dinner and doesn’t mind vacuuming the floor… the one who lets you sleep in on Sundays and when you’re not feeling well, lets you go to bed early.

Marry the man who takes care of the kids… who not only disciplines them, but enjoys them. Marry the man who will play with your toddler on the floor, and let your preschooler sleep in the bed with you… sacrificing his own sleep so that kiddo can be close to you.

Marry the man who cleans up the dog messes on the floor and helps you pick up dirty socks. Marry the man who works all day and comes home to work some more, just so you don’t have to do it all on your own.

Marry the man who would rather hang out and drink beer with you than his buddies. Marry the man who enjoys watching your tv dramas on the couch with you. Marry the man who loves to travel with you, takes you places, and lives to make memories with you.

Marry the man who worries with you. Marry the one who hides his stress most days just so you don’t stress more. Marry the man who will get through the bad times with you. Marry the man who is willing to see your perspective and understand how you feel. Marry the man who will stay when things get hard.

Marry the man who is willing to chip in… who is going to help you be a mom… who is going to make you happy… who is going to be your best friend… who is going to make you a better person.

It won’t always be easy. Even the good guy is going to make mistakes. YOU are going to make mistakes. He’s going to say the wrong things at times. He’s going to forget to pick up something on your shopping list. He’s not going to be perfect. But, he’s going to be perfect for you and he’s going to be there. He will always be there. And I promise you… you deserve THAT life.

Xoxo,

Mama