Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bullet Journal Binder: my version of a "bullet journal" style planner

At the beginning of last year I noticed bullet journaling becoming popular. It seemed to be a trending topic both in social media + local events. Here there was a group of ladies getting together to update and decorate their planners (planner parties!). I love planners but to me this sounded more like scrapbooking than planning so I opted out. I am not a scrapbooker because I just can't keep up with it. I like crafting but this just wasn't an area of interest for me. I didn't look into it any further and moved right along with my usual way of making lists upon lists everywhere.

Around that same time I had implemented a new large calendar in our kitchen that Ben made me. I absolutely love it and will probably use it for as long as there are children with busy schedules under our roof. I have all these events on my phone but needed something that the whole family could easily access. The large squares make for plenty of room for writing down multiple things each day. It lives on the fridge because we spend most of our time in or near our kitchen, and I even color coded it (with these pens)for at-a-glance interpretation. I do a mass update around the end or beginning of every month and make smaller changes as events are added or cancelled throughout the month. It has really helped me this past year to see how our schedule looks all lumped together, meal plan based on activities each evening and simplify our schedule (AKA say "no thanks) when things got too busy. 

Aside from the calendar our fridge also had a list of monthly to-do lists that were categorized by type, a laminated chore schedule for us and one for the kids. Then on our desk was a clipboard full of various notes and lists, some of which I filed away when I was done with them and others that got recycled if they were no longer needed. I had a seperate notebook for keeping track of essential oil orders + uses, a large spiral notebook with blog notes, a small notebook with our weekly meal plans (we keep our grocery lists on an app called Our Groceries because it syncs between our phones), and if there are any special events or things that need planning they either add to the lists on the clipboard or get their own file (like when it's time to do taxes) that sits in a pile with the clipboard. My lists were everywhere. To-do lists for cleaning, home repairs, event planning, shopping for specific items (notes on prices, brands, and other comparisons), decluttering (oh the irony), gifting during Christmas...

Then during this past winter break I came across something on pinterest that perked my curiosity about bullet journals again. I would give credit but I got swallowed by Pinterest's hoards of information on the subject and can't recall where I had begun but it's likely on my new Organize 2017 board somewhere... The thing that caught my eye was the idea of having all of my events, lists and the like in one area. The dealbreaker for me was that I would have to predict how much space I would need in a bullet journal for a certain section and risk having to continue that section elsewhere in the notebook. I prefer having "like with like" so that wasn't going to work for me. I searched "bullet journal binder" and found hardly anything so I realized I was going to have to figure something out on my own. I realized that while I could format much of this binder like a bullet journal and find ideas using that term, that I could really customize it to my needs and wants. A sort of bullet journal/planner hybrid.

{my cover + Index, as well as my favored pens}

To create my bullet journal binder, I shopped the house. I had quite a few office supplies in good shape from my college days. That was the best part to me because I am out little to no money if I eventually decide this doesn't work for me. Same goes for a traditional bullet journal, there are very inexpensive options out there to start with! I can't say the same for most planners, they tend to be very spendy + expire after the calendar year. 

I posted a few snapshots of my process on Instagram + Facebook and had quite a few questions roll in so I figured posting more extensively about it here would make sense for those interested. 

My first piece of advice is: make it work for you. Don't be afraid to customice pre-existing options and think outside of what current trends are. What first kept me away from bullet journaling was all the pretty curated versions everyone shares. This can be as pretty, plain, or messy as you want it to be- it's for you and no one else! 

I should mention that my version is not meant to shove in a purse and use on the go. I will use all these notes at home. Anything I need to be mobile, is on my phone in the Evernote app, my calendar, or to-do lists. We utilize the family function on iPhone to coordinate tasks + events between myself + Ben.  

After spending a lot of time looking at what I wanted in my binder,  I gathered my supplies: 

Gather your Supplies + make  a wish list: 
First I took notes on what I wanted to have in the binder and how I wanted it to work for me. What features I needed it to have. 
Then I went over all my current methods that I wanted to consolidate and made a list. I used this list to create categories that would go together well for me and turned it into my Index. This would help me create the sections of my journal. 

{upper left: a binder pocket with a label a section label,
 upper right: the legend for symbols used throughout,
ower left: dividers with erasable tabs + washi tape tabs}

Next, I browsed to learn more about their concept and format. I used some of their formatting style and left other pieces out. I implemented the Index (but did not number my pages), future log, weekly calendar (which I may not keep up), a daily section and collections. I left out the monthly section since I have those details on my oversized kitchen calendar.

My favorite part is "collections" because it can be whatever you need it to be. You can keep running notes or a "brain dump" section, you can add a section for books you want to read/listen to, you can have to-do lists specific to projects, events or other categories. It's really fluid. If you need aditional inspiration there are ideas all over Pinterest (of course) for different lists to incorporate for both organizational and creative uses. Some are even free printables which make starting up these sections even easier!

Create your Main Sections:
Once I had the big picture down I created the sections based on my index. I worked first on the future log, weekly pages, and daily to-do. I moved anything from my calendar that I wanted to have access to from the notebook to this area. I like the future log for seeing a 6 month period at a glance, I just keep highlights for each month there, I don't include our weekly outings like play dates + Bible study since those are recurring. I also only put immediate family birthdays since I have an extensive list of birthday reminders on my phone. 

{upper left: my future log per the bullet journaling format,
upper right: my daily section on grid paper,
lower photos: my oversized monthly calendar}

The weekly section is still a work in progress for me as I figure how much or how little to include there and whether this section is necessary for me. I like the idea of putting more details on this page than I want to/can fit on my calendar, so it may stay for that purpose. Like notes about what to bring to certain events for example. The daily page is great for tasks, it helps me to remember all the things I wanted to accomplish that day and if something isn't urgent I can add it to the next day or move things I've not finished. 

While I was in the middle of setting up this whole binder I realized I had a ton of things piling up in my brain so I did a quick "brain dump" list so that I could clear my head and move on. I think I will find myself doing this fairly often, It was such a relief to get those things out of my head so I could listen to an audiobook and finish putting this thing together without those distractions. Later in the week I moved things off of that page into the sections where they belong. 

{a printable year at a glance + more 3-ring binder pockets with labels} 

On my Index page you can see the sections I created under collections and some of their subsections. So far my main collections are home, family, health, hobbies and notes. In home I will keep lists of home decor projects, repairs, yard + garden ideas, and the like. Under family I will keep our meal plans, notes about schedules and extracurriculars, birthday planning, etc. 
{upper: our master grocery list for easy restocking reference, l
ower left: weekly meal planning with sticky notes!,
lower right: a list of our favorite meals to aid in creating the sticky note meal planner
and adding variety to our dinner plans}

I made health it's own category instead of putting it under family because I wanted it to have several sub categories. The first page is a lot of notes about each of us and our various ailments because we have all been rotating sickness the last couple of months. This has come in handy already for relaying symptoms and length of time to the doctor at our appointments. I won't keep long term information like allergies and medications here but in our file cabinet with other health records.  I also keep a list of everyone's medication allergies in evernote because our allergies + sensitivities are just simliar enough to each other to get confusing when the time comes to remind the doctor or pharmacist. In the health section I also have a page of essential oil uses and recipes. I had been keeping sticky notes in my oils notebook where  I had kept track of my orders and inventory. Now I can keep those seperate (I have a doTerra section for ordering in the back of my binder). 

My next section is for hobbies. I have quite a few hobbies that I juggle, then leave sitting for a time but always come back to. When I do that I am sometimes left wondering what step I was on in a crochet piece or who was I going to make something for and what colors did they now I have a place to keep all those notes straight. I also have a section there for this blog to keep things straight when I think of an idea for a post or when someone wants to do a feature + review (I have 2 new ones coming up!). 

{left: my first "brain dump" list after having moved these items to their appropriate sections,
upper right: remedies page in our health section,
lower right: crochet projects in the hobby section.}

And at the very end of my binder is a section all for varied notes + to-do lists. I would like to create subsection for books I want to read/listen to, I have notes going for a book on the enneagram types I am listening to right now (so fascinating!) and I'm sure I'll keep adding notes to this section. 

My binder is fairly narrow so I see myself pulling things out once I stop needing to add or refer to them any longer and filing them away. In our desk we have two file drawers that we keep things in for less frequent access and storage. Then from there we move things on to recycling, or storage in the garage file cabinets, and lastly if they are a keepsake (like kid's art work, but of course not all of it!) they get boxed for long term storage. I keep a large padded envelope for each child each year so they can be stored away in those for future access, rather than take up precious filing space. 

How do you organize your schedule? Do you bullet journal, use a life planner, or keep track of things in some other way? I am just so thankful there are as many ways to organize things as there are people with different preferences! Only time will tell if this method sticks for me, but I am enjoying trying something new for the moment. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

excuses, rest, + routines

I was talking with my good friend Liz (of Bramblefield) the other day about what we'd like to get done and what holds us back. Motivational speakers, many entreprenuers and pretty much most of the internet will tell you to hustle, make no excuses, make sacrifices and a few other more punchy phrases when it comes to letting things go and not finishing. I will not tell you any of those things. Recently I've read/listened to "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker and "Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist. One take-away from both of these awesome books for me was to slow down, say no to things more and find more time to relax and rest. I've been learning that rest is taking a break from good things too because most of my busyness is in things that are really good, but rest is better. 

I can't recall where I heard it first but Ben and I have been clinging to the motto of, "say no to good so you can say yes to best".

Rest is not laziness. This doesn't mean that I'm hanging out in my PJ's all day ignoring the dishes and the children. It means that I'm finding ways to make more time for my children and be more efficient so that the dishes don't pile up and take away from the feeling of rest. 

Implementing new routines have been a game-changer in terms of finding time for rest recently. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (what are your favorites?) called The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenrider (linked below). They were chatting a while back about routines and one was running the dishwasher every night, even if it's not full. Then emptying it in the morning so there is room for the day's dishes. Has everyone been doing this? Have we been doing it wrong all these years? Previously we would wait to run a load of dishes until the dishwasher was as full as possible, which meant that the sink was also pretty full. Full sink isn't my happy place, it's such a bummer to wake up to a full sink and a messy kitchen. Isn't it so depressing to have to dig out and wash the french press on a Monday morning? Either that or one of us (usually Ben) would be standing at the sink for 45 minutes washing the "big dishes" that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher, also a bummer. Our new routine saves us time and energy just by doing small things every day instead of letting them pile up and become big things...every day. Before this new routine I was starting to resent cooking and hadn't baked anything in ages, blaming it on our tiny kitchen (it really is tiny). Now that there is always room in the dishwasher for the extra dirty bowls and spoons from baking something, I don't see it as such a chore and enjoy cooking and baking again. This new little routine has made us so happy! We get to hang out together after dinner because rinsing plates and loading the dishwasher takes all of 5 minutes! It's so funny to me how this small change (that I am guessing most people already do) has revolutionized our household. 

Back to my conversation with Liz. One of the things we were both making excuses to each other about was infrequent blogging. Some of it for me has just been time and not feeling like spending what little down time I had on updating the blog. The longer it had been since I had posted, the more daunting it felt to write again. I always have half a dozen posts bouncing around in my head, but haven't sat down to write them. There's also a few more posts I did write but never posted because I haven't taken corresponding photos or I don't feel like digging around on my computer for the ones I have taken. Liz's problem is the opposite, she will have these lovely photos sitting in a draft but no time to sit and write the words to go with them. We joked about collaborating more, she does the photos and I do the words. Maybe someday. So, that's why there aren't any interesting pictures sprinkled throughout the post as usual. Maybe these lengthy paragraphs will scare away some readers, but that's ok. Excuses are okay too. If I don't feel like writing, then I shouldn't. If I want to write and not add photos, then I should. (PS if you want photos, head over to my instagram, I post plenty there. ). If my kids need time with us at home more than we all need to go to a certain event, then it's okay to say no. We can't do it all and it's okay to not try. I am so over the world telling us to hustle when what we really need is rest. 

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

Scripture doesn't say "come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will show you how to hustle". Who better to speak to our needs than the one who made us and knows them better than we do. 

Just to make sure it's clear as to what I'm not saying; I am not saying working hard is bad. I am not saying I don't work hard or value drive. Finding balance and giving more thought to what really brings us rest is what no one really talks about so here I am, giving you some ideas and some inspriation to find what gives you rest.  

Besides new routines/a less cluttered home,  here are some things I am finding rest in: 

>>> making Bible study time a priority when the house is quiet, versus getting laundry folded and floors swept first. A group I study with is currently working through "What Love Is" by Kelly Minter

>>> finding time for bi-weekly or even weekly unstructured adult-only conversation. Unstructured means my Bible study mornings don't count. For me this looks like coffee with a friend on mornings when Aurelia is having some grandma time, or taking a bottle of wine over to Liz's after the kids are in bed. - Ben welcomes the xbox time without me rolling my eyes at the noisy buttons :) 

>>> sitting down with a crochet hook and some yarn and accomplishing a small project. (What doesn't bring me rest? Tackling a big project and never finishing it, I have never completed a blanket, it's so I mostly do small things now.) I've been doing this in other crafts as well, dying napkins, weaving wall hangings, creating word art. 

>>> listening to podcasts. I am new to this world and so I don't have a big list of favorites to share but here are a few that I've been enjoying: 
  •  The Popcast. This is the only way I even have a slight clue about what is happening in          most realms of pop culture. I have become so out of touch, they keep me current in a very entertaining way. 
  • The Simple Show. Tsh Oxenrider and her co-hosts discuss travel, home life, education, etc. and I find it so imformative. 
  • Disney Story Central. Ben just found this one and sent it to me today. It is a story telling version of Disney movies. This is amazing to me because we haven't found a good podcast for the kids yet and I find myself using the library to check out the same audiobooks over and over again. 
>>> Library books/audiobooks. This goes along with podcasts a bit. I mostly use the library to check out books for the kids but have been finding more for myself lately too. There is an app that our library partners with that allows us to check out audiobooks, it's called Overdrive. The kids love listening to stories in the car, and it really helps curb their arguing. I also just started a free trial of Scribd (click that link and get a 60 day trial of your own!) and have listened to several books for free (including Present Over Perfect). 

>>> mindless pinning. Sometimes I just want to zone out and scroll through the internet and be entertained, I know, super deep stuff. Right now facebook and even instagram have been a little too volatile for me, enter pinterest. When I just want to sit and be super unproductive I will pin crafty ideas and recipes to my hearts content. Some of these projects I will get to, many I won't. 

>>> baking more. I recently made this homemade pizza recipe and it was pretty easy and so delicious. I think I will make pizza instead of buy it more often. I've also made some delicious scones, breadsticks and french bread recently. 

>>> prayer. Ben is having a hernia surgery tomorrow. I was feeling anxious about it before it was scheduled because we felt like everything else was just up in the air waiting to land until we got this on the calendar. It is now on the set, but insurance isn't covering it. All of these things are stressful and could create a lot of anxiety but instead I've been praying and it has made all the difference. I know the Lord has a handle on this stuff and He has a plan, it's evident in so many details. 

>>> gratitude. Much of this comes out in prayer, giving thanks to the Lord for all that we have been blessed with and even giving thanks for struggles as they shape us and grow us in maturity. I also have a journal that my mother-in-law gave me, inspired by Anne Voscamp's 1000 gifts and I will jot down things I am thankful for every so often when I remember. 

>>> observing Sabbath. We don't do this in a legalistic way and we don't really even talk about it but on Sunday (choose any day, just find one that works for you!) we rest. As often as we are able on Sundays we just hang out. We don't take on any big projects, we even take a break from laundry and sometimes dishes. If we are really lucky and Aurelia naps we let the kids cash in some screen time and we lay down and take a snooze as well. We are also super blessed to have a standing invitation for dinner at Ben's parents so we get a break from cooking as well. It is so good for us to rest together in this way. 

I've been able to recognize the seasons that come and go in our lives. Instead of getting stressed when we are going through a lot, I just recognize the season we are in and remember that it will eventually pass. Some seasons are longer than others and some have more joy while others have more pain. The Lord is our strength in all of them and that is how I find rest. 

Now tell me, what ways are you making sure to find rest? 

Friday, September 23, 2016

dōTERRA Essential Oils

As part of updating this space more regularly and providing readers with valuable content I wanted to point out some changes I have made to the essential oils page. This page can be found by clicking on the tab in the upper right under the Breaking New Ground title. If you are reading on mobile this may look different to you; try clicking on the arrow next to the word Home and scrolling down to the essential oils option or just click here. There you will find featured posts about essential oils and you can now click straight through to my dōTERRA page to find out more about signing up for a wholesale account of your own (earn points toward free product!!) or to purchase oils through me. dōTERRA just introduced a whole new line of spa products as well as some new essential oils and other products, all available for purchase starting October 3rd, 2016. I can't wait to try them!

As always if you have questions about essential oils that aren't answered here please feel free to contact me directly. Follow my tips on the myriad uses for these amazing oils on Instagram @breakingnewground! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Summer 2016: slow + simple

Oh this life, I love it and I want it to slow down just a teeny bit more so I have time to just bask in each moment before we are on to the next one. I really do feel fulfilled though, even in the ups and downs, the rushing from one thing to the next. I have learned a lot recently just by reflecting on what God is doing in our lives and discerning what He wants me to do with what He has given me. I've been looking at screens less, reading the Bible and just being with my people more. Doing my best to slow down and simplify life. On "paper" it doesn't look very slow or simple but it can be just by way of shifting our mindset, letting the Lord lead the way and really just saying "no" more often.  

The last two months have been very busy but it was followed by Ben going on vacation a couple weeks ago and it was 9 days of intentional laziness. We just enjoyed each others' company and only allowed a handful of social interactions outside of our household to keep it slow and simple. It was the perfect way to wrap up a very full summer. We are also intentionally kept the rest of this month as quiet as possible as well as we head into a new school year. Malakai just started 2nd grade and Desmond is now in full day Kindergarten. 

Desmond doesn't turn 5 until the beginning of October, just missing the September 1st deadline by 5 weeks. We decided to go through the process of petitioning for him to start school "early" and see how it went. We didn't put any pressure on him or even tell him about it. When it came time for the mandatory IQ test in early July we just said that we told the school how smart he is and they wanted him to show them what he knew. He had a blast doing the activities and answering the questions. I really enjoyed listening to his answers from the back of the room. He had to score in the 90th percentile to qualify for early admission. We didn't get results until a month later. While we waited to hear back we continued to be prayerful over the situation, that if he got in it would be what should happen and if he didn't that we were meant to keep him home for another year of Pre-K.  We were excited for him when he was accepted for early entrance but also a little sad to not have him at home with me all day. I will miss the easy hours of play with Desmond while Aurelia napped, and watching him run across the street to help our neighbor with yard work. I know he has been craving a structure that has been increasingly difficult to provide with baby sister in tow. Des is so ready for school, he has shown it with his eagerness to go and his excitement about it when he comes home.

Aurelia and I have 6 hours to ourselves 5 days a week. I keep saying I won't know what to do with myself. I mean it because it will be a lot of free time opened up during her naps, but also because I have so many things I'd like to accomplish I'm not sure where I should start! Most of all I am just excited for some quality one on one time with my girl. The boys however, I will have to be more intentional about quality time with now. We plan to really slow down weekends when October hits. September is full of family birthdays, or what I like to affectionately call #SeptemberBirthdayFrenzy -Between Ben nearly half of the immediate family birthdays fall in September. When you start counting our extended family that number just gets bigger, which makes for quite the busy time! 

The next 6 weeks are also going to be quite full now that both boys are in fall soccer. We have back to back practices twice a week and I don't even know the game schedule yet but there will be 14 games over that time. I was unloading our minivan at our first double practice earlier this week, filling up the wagon with chairs, waterbottles, toys and a picnic dinner while the boys changed into their cleats and I thought to myself...I have reached official soccer mom status. It cracks me up because it's not really my thing, but it's it gets to be mine now too. I love watching these kids discover what they like and what they're good at. 

So I bid a fond farewell to the long days and late nights of summer and hello to the bustle of fall!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer 2016: Malakai's Tonsillectomy

If you know us personally or follow us on social media then you know our sweet first born had surgery a little over a month ago. He had his tonsils + adenoids removed. The surgeon also removed his ear tubes that had been placed in June 2015 but had not come out on their own like they were supposed to.

Malakai has a tendency to get worked up about things, making them a bigger problem than they are. This is usually the case if he is afraid of something whether it be an imaginary thing or the fear of punishment for something he did or was perceived to have done. It is a difficult road some days but with Ben by my side (and our fantastic counselor) we are helping him to get a better handle on it. He has made a lot of progress over the last few months. 

So when his pediatrician and then his ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat specialist) both mentioned the idea of surgery back in the winter/spring when he had reoccuring strep throat, my first thought was how it would impact him emotionally. Would he be afraid? Would he worry about it constantly? How would we move forward to help him through these intense emotions? Imagine our surprise when he was able to focus on the positives (ice cream for a week) and not even really mention the potentially worrisome aspects. It helped that he could remember his ear tube surgery well enough to know what to expect out of anesthesia and recovery, but it had been long enough that he didn't remember the painful part. We were simultaniously proud of him and thankful to God for providing this peace. 

We scheduled his surgery for after his birthday at a time when our calendars were clear enough that we could both focus on taking care of him and he wouldn't be missing any of the big events he'd been looking forward to over the summer (see previous post for a list of all the fun we've been having!). Then when we had his pre-op about 3 weeks prior to his scheduled surgery date we started to question whether the procedure was necessary. He was healthy and we had the option to "wait and see" which basically means he could outgrow getting sick all the time but we'd have to go through a cold and flu season to find out. Were we willing to risk him still needing surgery in the fall/winter when he'd miss school? Would we be able to actually find a time to schedule it if he was constantly sick? Would our health insurance still cover it if we waited? I literally wrote out a list of the pros and cons of either option and they were totally equal, both in number of things I came up with and the weight they carried. 

We prayed a lot and talked a lot about what we should do. We asked others for prayer and advice. At one point we had said we would be cancelling his surgery, but then I took a glance at his throat and it was red. He had an episode of ear pain during our 4th of July camping trip but not since then, still I thought we should have him looked at just in case. We saw a doctor at his pediatrician's office who confirmed he did have an ear infection and prescribed him antibiotics. One challenge with him is that he has allergy/sensitivity to 2 very common antibiotics, making him hard to treat. This is part of the reason he was put on the road to a tonsillectomy in the first place as his strep throat was very difficult to get rid of. Thankfully this time he didn't have strep. The doctor told us that she could see good reason to do the surgery but would also support a decision to "wait and see". She then referred us back to the ENT to check out his ear and also determine if he could have the surgery if he was getting sick. His ENT was out of the office so by the time he had seen Kai his ear infection was gone. He said because of his history he was still a candidate for surgery, he would never recommend surgery for a child if it was unnecessary, but that we could wait and see if we wanted. However he did say if he's getting an ear infection and cold symptoms in the summer that the likely-hood he'd struggle in the fall/winter again was high. I told him I just needed someone to tell me whether or not we should do the surgery, and he told us he thought we should do it. 

So Ben and I took everything into consideration and decided that it would benefit Malakai's future health to go ahead an have the procedure done. It was a simultaneous sense of relief to have a decision made, but also panic as his surgery was just a week away at that point and I felt totally unprepared. I woke at 3am that night worrying about all the things we had left to take care of. We didn't have anyone ready to watch Desmond and Aurelia so we could both be with Malakai at the surgery center, we didn't have the right groceries to support his limited diet during recovery, we didn't have the pain medicine prescribed by his doctor yet... I did my best to give these concerns to the Lord and he really did show up, everything fell into place and then some. We had friends and family offering to bring meals and balloons and you would not imagine the number of popsicles we stuffed into our freezers.

We made sure to do a lot of fun things that week since he would have to be very stationary for the two weeks after. He got to jump on the trampoline at his grandparents', we took him and Desmond to their very first theather movie (Finding Dory) and we focused on his 7th birthday. We let him ride his new scooter late that night to make sure he got a chance to try it out. 

The day before his procedure we received a call with his surgery time. He wouldn't be checking in until 8:45 and his surgery wouldn't be until 9:45. I was dreading a long morning of having to keep him from eating and drinking. We kept him up late so he could have a snack prior to the midnight cut off and we kept spirits high by making a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream together. 

The next morning Malakai only showed one small moment of worry when he got into the car and said "I'm not so sure I want to go to magic sleepy town today" (this is our way of explaining going under general anesthesia that we had made up the previous summer when he was having ear tubes placed). We talked it over and then he was totally fine, dreaming of ice cream for dinner. During our wait he played some games and read a book. Everything was very prompt, he got back to be admitted quickly and fairly easily. He wasn't a fan of the hair covering but he complied after a few chats about why it was necessary and seeing the nurses wearing them as well. He went under anesthesia easily but for some reason I teared up, which I have every time I've seen him go under. Something about it is just the slightest bit unsettling.

I went back to Ben in the admission area and we walked out to the waiting room together where my dad was. I text family and friends that he was in surgery and we chatted casually. He was done in about 20 minutes, his surgeon said everything went perfectly but "now you have the hard part" in reference to navigating his recovery. We waited another 15 minutes or so before the recovery nurse called us back. Malakai was still asleep and she encouraged us to let him wake naturally. She started to chat with us about his recovery when he coughed and began to wake up. His dry and barky cough was startling. The nurse said it was likely a symptom of his being intubated and that getting him to drink, putting an ice pack on his throat and giving him anti-inflammatory meds would help that get better faster. I can't imagine how uncomfortable it had to be to cough after a throat surgery. He was a bit disoriented and didn't really say anything at first but he came out of anesthesia very calmly. He did say he had some pain so the before removing his IV she gave him a dose of pain medicine in it and made sure his IV fluids finished up so he was well hyrdated from the start. He requested a popsicle, and another before we left. They also gave him a dose of liquid ibuprofen.

She talked us through his discharge and recovery instructions, writing down most of it. She made sure to tell Malakai that he could not run or ride his bike for two weeks, he needed to avoid anything that would cause him to breath heavily. He turned to Ben and I and said "I don't think I should go to swimming lessons" with such sweet concern in his temporarily higher pitched voice. We assured him that he would miss a few sessions until he was all healed up. My responsible little kiddo.

We carried him out to the car and I sat with him in the back of the van to make sure I was within reach if he needed anything during the trip home. We said goodbye to G'Pa and made our way back. The entire process was only about 4 hours. When we came home we settled him into bed and he wanted to eat more popsicles right away. We made sure he had plenty of cold water at all times and I set up several little stations to make aiding him easier. He would be staying in our bedroom so I could sleep next to him for a few nights, Ben would be in the bottom bunk in the boys' room and Des would be in the top bunk. Kai had a tv tray next to the bed with a plastic tray of medicines and droppers, a bell to ring if he needed something (although he had someone by his side constantly for the first day and a half), his water, some books and the tv remote. We set up a humidifier on the night stand next to him as well to help with that barky cough.

I set up an app on my phone called "dosecast" that helped me keep track of when to give him medicine but I also kept a paper record. The app alerted me of when he was due a dose of something but the hard copy helped for having a longer history of what we had given him and when. He was on a hydrocodone and we were alternating doses of ibuprofen based on the discharge instructions which meant waking up that night every 3 hours then 1 hour on a rotating basis. It wasn't until the next day we consulted a nurse at his pediatrician's office about his pain medicines and found out that we could give him both at the same time which meant I only had to get up every 4 hours. Having him in our room made that part easier but it was still tiring. None of the exhaustion mattered as long as he was doing well.

Ben had taken the day of surgery off but needed to work from home the rest of the week. It was a nice compromise between him being able to get work done but also be here to help as needed. Malakai was really needy those first couple of days so I spent a lot of time at his side which meant Ben was on duty to care for Desmond and Aurelia much of the day.

On day two of his recovery my aunt brought us dinner and there was macaroni and cheese as a side. Malakai wanted to eat some so we let him try it (his surgeon had said it would be fine to let him eat softer solid foods as soon as he wanted) and he ate a small bowl of it. We were shocked and very excited that he was willing to eat. He was doing great at eating and staying hydrated, which were our main concerns about his recovery. Our secondary concern was managing his pain which we felt like was going well...until it wasn't.

We went by the discharge paperwork and started to give him less of the narcotic pain medicine on day 4 which ended up being a disaster as that was his most painful day. We tried again a couple days later with mixed results. He did great during the day, he was able to tell us his pain level and it wasn't so bad with less and less medicine but one night he was inconsolable and we couldn't get him to take his medicine. By that time he was back in his room but on the bottom bunk. When we tried to give him his dose of medicine before we went to bed he sort of freaked out and refused to take it, he was acting so strangely it was really quite scary. Ben spoke to a nurse and she said it sounded like night terrors. She was totally right, we have experienced night terrors before but being so caught up in recovery and pain management we were thinking it was something related to those things, especially since it was happening when he was due a dose of medicine. She did say it could be his narcotic pain meds causing him to sleep so deeply he wasn't waking fully but it was unlikely since he was having less of them. He had another night terror the following night but it went by much faster because we knew how to handle it, thankfully he hasn't had any since.

We weren't able to really start letting him sleep through the night without pain meds until closer to 7 days this was around when we were able to start giving him less medicine during the day. About 10 days later we were just giving him medicine when he asked for it, which was usually by the end of the day just before bed. By the full two weeks he was off medicines completely and able to play normally again. During those two weeks he watched a lot of tv, played on the ipad, read books, played some minecraft on the xbox with Ben and Desmond and had a lot of caring visitors who brought him things to do and eat and even brought meals for the rest of us. We felt very well taken care of which was so valuable in allowing us to focus on taking care of him.

Near the end of the 2 weeks we eased him back into being out of the house and expending more energy. He would usually self regulate his activity level. Even when he was outdoors he did a lot of stationary activities. 

Unfortunately Desmond and Aurelia both struggled a bit with the shift in routine. Desmond really had a hard time with Malakai getting to eat jello and popsicles all day even though he usually had a popsicle once a day as well. It was hard for him to not keep score but it was a good lesson for him. The hardest part was being torn in my giving attention to all the kids. Aurelia really wanted to be with mama a lot. We let them come snuggle up with us as much as possible but a lot of the time it just didn't work out. Aurelia was very clingy to me as things started to go back to normal, it has only just recently gotten better.

Malakai was so brave and relatively easy to care for through out the whole thing. Even with the few rough moments I am just so thankful for how smoothly things went compared to how it could have gone. I was told several stories of other very difficult recoveries with complicaitons so I was prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. We are happy we made the decision to have Malakai's tonsils removed, at this point he isn't snoring at night and seems better rested during the day because of it. I think it is safe to say he no longer has sleep apnea, now we will just be praying it helps him stay healthier during cold season!

I would be happy to pass along any tips and tricks if you find yourself with a kiddo facing this procedure. Everyone recovers differently of course but it was helpful for me to be aware of possible outcomes. I gathered information and experiences from other parents before and during recovery. We are just so blessed by our little community both locally and through the internet. 

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