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Kristen is a home­maker, home­schooler, and a home­keeper. Her experience includes nineteen years of practice, raising three kids, a husband, and a dog. Writing about her life helps her stay sane. She believes that sharing stories helps others by providing opportunities to share advice (and helpful hints) about homeschooling, and raising kids on the autism spectrum, while supporting marriages and families that are striving to thrive.

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Shannon Enos is a wife, recovering Pinterest addict, and homeschooling mom of two young girls. Her hobbies include analyzing music with her husband, pretending she’s going to finish that crocheting project she started 4 years ago, and making lists of things she has already completed just so she can cross them off. Shannon values truth, education, the arts, open minds, humor, and “Nashville" binges on Hulu. She believes that learning happens everywhere, whether you’re paying attention or not.

 

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Pink Owl

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So... It has been one of those weeks. You know the kind: if something can go wrong it probably will. All of us have this feeling of impending doom. Anxieties are on high alert ( if autism lives at your house, one of the side effects is anxiety for everyone- yay!). Tommy is sure that SHIELD agents are canvassing the neighborhood, and Katie swears she saw the evidence of an Incredible Hulk footprint at the marketplace. The computer isn't co-operating; it takes an hour and a half for it to decide to work. On top of that, my tablet was frozen for three days. This causes a bit of mayhem when you're trying to homeschool your kids (for me, anyway, it causes stress- all math is done on the computer). I know it's a first-world problem, but it is a big problem for this OCD mom. We are in week four of school, and we are on week two in the curriculum. Can I get a collective sigh? (~s~I~g~h~)

When these weeks occur, I usually want to eat a stockpile of chocolate peanut butter cups. It's true- just being honest. I have endeavored, however, to partake in the diet/exercise phenomenon, so peanut butter cups are not available. I do, however, have copious amounts of leafy green spinach and a handful of radishes in my fridge. I'm not finding anything that really equals the calming effect of the peanut butter cup, though. So, I've just been praying, and deep-breathing, and eating spinach, and exercising. I'm trying to feel relaxed and ok. I'm reassuring Tommy and Katie that SHIELD is not in the neighborhood, nor is the Incredible Hulk, but Danielle undoes that by telling them she is an agent, undercover... Goodness! I need to reign us all back in (life at our house is nothing if not entertaining).

So.... guess what??? Here comes the main point:  I'm OK. It's Saturday, my tablet is sort of working, the computer is powering up, and I didn't feel any guilt about having French toast for breakfast. No doom has occurred for us. Although somewhat dramatic, it was just a hard week. All of us got through it. In the spirit of anything-goes, my friend texted and said she and her husband were on their way over for lunch, and they live in Austin, Texas (surprise! They are in town!). I'm in my leggings, and my Captain America shirt, and I feel mighty, because after they leave, I'm going to work out. I don't much like to work out, but now that I've started doing it, I like the way my body feels while I'm doing it. It's been 27 days, and I've exercised for thirty minutes on every single one of those 27 days.

So, here is my other main point: even when it seems like everything that can go wrong will...there are still steps you can take to make sure some things go right.  Here are my favorites:

You can offer gratitude. Studies show a grateful heart is a happy heart. The emotional world you live in can be falling apart, I know, it's happened to me, but there is something you can be thankful for. My go-to thanks happens to be indoor plumbing. Also, toilet paper. I'm serious. Think about it.

You can go for a walk. Studies also show that we don't get enough sunshine, or outdoor time, for that matter. There is a whole new mental-health issue called something like nature-deficit disorder. Just do it, as the slogan goes. You don't have to dress up or put on makeup. Just go for a walk around the block (and breathe deeply- and face the sun).

 

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You can pray (or meditate, or deep breathe, again). I will always say that- for every situation. Faith is powerful and awesome, and, dare I say, imperative and essential.

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You can lean on a friend. Most friends don't know you may be having a hard day (or week, or month). Don't be afraid to share. I have personally experienced this many times- the 'I had no idea' moments. Things can look really fine when someone is falling apart.

The hard days (weeks, months, seasons) will happen. Your kids will be stressed, your marriage will need attention, you will feel manic and/or depressed. Every one of us, though, can do at least one small thing for ourselves to make a moment better. Sometimes it's service for your kids or family. "I love you" looks a lot like dinner and a cookie, or maybe a vacuumed floor, or folded laundry. A bubble bath may be just enough to calm frazzled nerves- for you or your kids- or your spouse, for that matter. Being grateful for running water, toilet paper, and indoor plumbing can put stress into perspective. Texting (or calling) a friend is invaluable. Even if they can only cheerlead from the side lines, that could be the boost you need to get through the day, or night. Fresh air always can bolster up a mood- "a breath of fresh air" is a good phrase for a good reason.  It's invigorating and calming at the same time.

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So, mamas, dads, parents, care-ers-of-others: keep on keeping on! You are doing awesome work. It may not always look pretty like Pinterest, but it can be so meaningful and pretty with purpose. Love is patient and kind, and is always a verb.

Keep calm and parent on!
 

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Pouches is ready to kayak on the beautiful Rappahannock River. She’s also ready to learn more about how she can protect the river’s health using the Friends of the Rappahannock new River Report Card, sponsored by a surprise grant from the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region (CFRRR).

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