Thy Will Be Done

by Vanessa on October 4, 2016 · 0 comments

in Bump in the Road, Journal, Life Happens

That song phrase ran through my head over and over again as we left town to head to our temporary home.  I did my best to stay focused on the here and now, but so much of what was happening didn’t quite seem real.  We arrived wet and shoeless (at least I was shoeless, I forgot to put them on in my hurry to grab my homeschool things and church close for my son and other things to load in to the van). We shared our story, ate a small breakfast, and went to our room for a nap. Before sleep overcame us, we spend time in my husband’s arms.  There was definitely a moment in which I could feel how fully appreciative he was that we were all together and safe.  I snuggled in for warmth and remained in his embrace, but sleep alluded me as my mind was restless. When I knew the others were asleep, I snuck out.  I sipped on my coffee from breakfast as I thought about what was left behind, the sound of jambalaya being made in the background.

Then there was the rush to figure out how friends and other family had faired and where they had ended up. Trying to keep up with where everyone was and how they were doing was tough, especially when AT&T cellular service was down. Facebook was the only way you could keep up with anything. There were so many terrible videos of homes flooded to the rooftops, people being rescued by boat on what used to be a main highway.  Disaster struck and everyone was left in a state of disbelief.  How could this happen? No one was expecting it to get so high or flood so quickly. You were literally having to make life choices in a matter of minutes.  There was no escaping with all your things because there was no time. You grabbed what you could & left.  If you didn’t go quick enough, depending on what kind of vehicle you had, you left that behind also to be overtaken by the rushing waters. There wasn’t anything you could do.

Now the mud has settled and the waters are moseying along in their river banks.

The destruction is massive. About 82% of the city flooded. There is hardly any help to be found.  Of the the few people that didn’t flood, they’re either housing someone who did and/or are helping others in cleaning up. Everyone is having to get help outside the city in order to get food and cleaning supplies and building materials.

Roads are piled high with the contents of each home.

People inside there homes trying to make it livable as soon as possible.  Everyone is rushing about trying to get things back to normal. The hubby & his dad doing everything they could while I kept the kids.  I knew I needed to be there to help, but I also couldn’t have the kids there because of all the mold that was growing.

Then an offer came from an out-of-state family member.

I cried over the idea. No, I wouldn’t do it. It couldn’t be done. But with a slight tweak in the plan, the offer was one even I couldn’t argue with.  I didn’t much like the decision, but I knew it would be the best thing for the kids & us right now. After seeing them off at the airport, I cried and I cried and I cried. I couldn’t find words to express the pain of separation I was feeling. How quite life was without them, but the Lord is good. Peace was found within a rainstorm as we were driving around town trying to get settled in our new state of parenthood. I looked up to see a rainbow and God whispering in my heart “They’re going to be okay”.  I smiled as I knew God was in control & I had the new drive to make sure we got the house done sooner rather than later.  With my eyes on the prize we set to work as soon as possible, hoping to have them come home to a fully restored house.  Little did I know that nothing is ever that easy and God had other plans….


That’s the scripture that kept replaying itself in my head as I rushed to pick stuff off the floor as the water swirled around my ankles.  We thought we had some time on Saturday before we would need to evacuate our home.  Little did we know it’s plans were a bit different.

We had heard it was expecting to rain every day that week.  No big deal, this is southern Louisiana after all. Though as a precaution, we kept an eye on the weather & the river was only expected to crest at 40 feet. I usually don’t take predictions too seriously, plus if they were off, it wouldn’t be that bad. So I continued business as usual for a rainy Friday.

I was updated about the river information after my father-in-law came home from visiting his parents.  He asked me if I was packing yet.  I briefly cautioned myself not to react like last time: being I was ill-concerned and refused to “freak-out” or make any rash decisions unlike the others in my house.  I made a big deal about it & then it ended up the weather people had overshot and nothing extreme happened.  I felt like that was a pre-test to this most recent event.  He told me that the river was expected to crest to 44 feet & there was no denying even if the weather people overshot it, we were more than likely going to flood. I snapped to action and informed the hubby while he was at work.  Fortunately, they allowed him to leave early & he came home to help pack.

We worked diligently for several hours packing the kids clothes & our clothes & moving things to higher ground.  I’m not going to lie, I felt prepared for a flood and was only going to be slightly grumpy if nothing happened and all our hard work was for naught.  We got a lot accomplished before supper and left the remainder of the work for Saturday when we could move all the big electrical stuff like the washer & dryer, the fridges, the freezer, & the lawn mower.  We grabbed supper and went to hang out with another young married couple. After an evening of baking for the girls & shopping for wet/dry vacs for the boys (it was for clean-up at a local church that was flooded) & a few hours of Phase10, we left, slightly apprehensive about what we would come home to.

I will admit we were quite relieved in seeing our drive way wasn’t cover & the water was still in the ditches, but that was short lived. We went to bed prepared for what we thought would be a full day of moving furniture.

A 5:00 knock woke us up full of adrenaline and we found ourselves in a frenzied state of emergency.  We began moving all the luggage into the van & picking up whatever was on the floor, rushing about like ants with a disturbed hill. Luckily the kids were asleep through most of it & we only loaded them once it was all done.  As I slid into the driver’s seat, the water was right under the door keeping me from shutting the door all the way. With my hubby in the lead, we left for safety.

I was so glad when we finally made it to our home away from home. I felt like I could finally breathe.  My head was spinning with what all was left behind, and who was safe or stuck, & what the aftermath may be.

I would definitely have to say that this is the most extreme situation we as a family have ever been through.  Please continue to pray for everyone going through this flood.  As always, though we can’t see the big picture, I pray that our trust continues to stand firm in the God that is truly in control.  We thank him for the good and the bad and ask for strength to help us get through.


Be safe all my fellow Louisianians




As of recently, my husband has gotten a new job.  We went from having a crazy schedule due to his work hours (12-9) to having an early morning for a typical 8-5 job.  I thought I could just just jump in and adjust as we went & everything would fall into place.  I am still doing that several weeks later and things are not falling into place.  There seems to be one thing after another and the juggling act isn’t quite holding up like I was expecting.  Granted, I’ve managed to be up with the hubby every morning (aren’t y’all proud?) but I can’t seem to get a handle on all the daily responsibilities.  How does everyone else do it?

Well, if you know me, you know I came up with a planned out schedule right?  And if we know me, I do it to make me feel better but have no intention to stick to the schedule minute by minute.  Glad y’all know me so well 🙂  Yeah, I got a little crazy on the schedule. As silly as it is, I’m updating it to be more doable (less minutes and more blocking) and will print it & laminate it to refer back to on a regular basis until I’ve made the tasks habits & it sticks.  I don’t know if this works for anyone else, but I practically rely on this method to teach myself how to be routine without having to think about it.

But there have been more than just our routine that’s struggling.  Now that the hubby works away from home, I’m having to adjust that too.  At home with the kids hasn’t really been a problem.  Knowing that he was going to have this job ahead of time has helped me mentally prepare to handle things completely on my own.  Now, however, there are meals to consider; making sure he has lunch ready to go and having supper cooked by the time he gets home.  All these changes happening at once and our evening activities still going on, I have little to no down time & when the hubby asks if I’m okay because I’m not talking (he knows me well too) I burst into tears.  It was just one of those days.  Real person, real problems.

Here’s where the struggles are & what I’m doing to fix it:

1. Laundry. Due to the company my husband now works for, he has “uniform” shirts he has to wear with the company logo.  I get that, but he doesn’t have a huge supply of them at the moment and my laundry routine has been disrupted massively to make sure he has clothes to wear to work. Petty, I know, but routines make life more seamless and this is a major factor in my day to day.  Also, I’m having to relearn how to iron, because if you don’t use it, you lose it & I lost my technique.

Solution: getting more shirts from the company (currently waiting for restock but not sure when that’s happening) or getting permission to get the logo embroidered on shirts we can buy from the store. Until either of the above things occur, I’m just washing as necessary & attempting to get everything ironed before the morning of.

2. Meal planning.  Ugh.  I struggle to stay on top of it to make sure the hubby has something for lunch and to make sure we have something for supper throughout the week.

Solution: batch cooking/freezer cooking.  If you follow me on Instagram, than you saw the big batch of beef & bean burritos I did.  I got the idea from Jamerrill at The Encouraging Homeschool Mom and the recipe from Crystal Paine’s website Money Saving Mom. Those beans were finger-licking good 🙂  Other recipes I’ve done so far are breakfast burritos & freezer biscuits. Up next is pancakes.

Big batch of beef & bean burritos in the works 🙂 #freezercooking

A photo posted by Vanessa Sutcliffe (@cafedumom) on


3. Routine.  I already spoke about this, but I’m still working on something that has me using my time more efficiently.  Although I’m up no later than 7, I feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish things that need to be accomplished.  I have managed to homeschool every day, just not at a consistent time each day. Also the consistency of meals is suffering.

Solution:  Plan it out.  I write down the chores to be done daily (ie laundry, sweeping, dishes, etc) & those that are to be done weekly (moping, vacuuming, deep cleaning the bathrooms) & block out times during the day to get those things done. Another thing I’m working on is getting the kids into a routine so we can get things done sooner rather than later.

Now that I’m done rambling, I wanted to talk about this new job the hubby has.  So God has definitely had his hand in our life.  The hubby went from full-time job, to no job to part-time at-home job, to full-time at-home job, and now a regular full-time away-from-home job.  I went from practically useless homemaker to having to teach myself how to manage a home to now adjusting my routine to fit each new change & phase of life.  Baby steps, see? We have grown a lot.  Though you should also know this job has been an answered prayer.  I wanted him to have a regular job, he wanted a job that he enjoyed more and one that was more specific to the his networking degree.  I told God I would be willing to do whatever was needed if He would just give him a different & better job.  And it’s happened.  So I’m taking these challenges and going to work through them for the betterment of my family.  You won’t catch me complaining about the necessary tasks that are required of me.  I share this so you can see the trials we face & the hurdles we have to overcome. We asked for this & we’ll thank Jesus everyday for the answered prayer request.


To all the Mommas that are & have been doing this for a while, HOW DO YOU DO IT? Please oh, please share with me your wisdom!!!  Also, if you want to send a crock pot or a personal chef my way, that’s fine too 🙂


Homeschooling Away From Home

by Vanessa on July 16, 2016 · 0 comments

in Homeschool, Journal

I guess it would more accurately be termed hotel-schooling since that’s basically what we did. But, yeah, we homeschooled while on vacation.  Honestly, I’ve never actually done it before and was a little apprehensive with how well it would go.  My conclusion?  It’s totally do-able and quite a success!  I am definitely more confident and ready to do it again as needed.

A success, you say? How did you do it?” Well while keeping it simple is key, choosing a structured system that makes me smile really helps.  Some choose numbers or letters or, my favorite, colors. I assigned each child a color based on gender. Sister’s stuff is green and Brother’s is blue. It is simple & fortunately colors they already like. Win-win!  Now, how too make all their work mobile is the next challenge.  I came across this awesome idea from Kristy Clover at She uses this very ingenious crate system for organizing the workpages for each child, each week, for the entire year. As she mentions in her video, adding the already prepared work to a clipboard creates the mobility needed for homeschooling on the go.  With that said, I have a clipboard for each of them. I would recommend something like this or this.  These clipboards serve two purposes. One, is that it keeps all their workpages together and two, it gives them something hard to write on in case they choose to not sit at the table to do their work.  Now to avoid having school stuff everywhere or in one large & inconvenient tote, they each have a booksack to contain everything they need.  In their booksacks are their daily calendar binders, crayons, a notebook, a coloring book, and, for Sister, extra workbooks to keep her busy while I finish school with Brother. Now, all I need to do to pack for somewhere is add those items to their bag & boom it’s done.

homeschool booksack

Back to front: Daily Calendar Binder, clipboard with the week’s work, notebook, coloring book, & our read aloud

So, as mentioned above, I put their workpages on the clipboard.  Yes, I tore them out of the workbook.  Can you believe it?  I never would have done it if not for the inspiration of Kristy Clover. It’s very freeing and I’m pretty sure I won’t go back to any other system.  Her method is beautiful. Oops, sorry, I’m drooling again. I may have a slight case of homeschool mom crush.  Is that a thing?  Well it’s going to have to be a thing.

Next, I have my own clipboard.  It holds their attendance sheet (I use this one or you can use this one), the lesson plans for the week, and any other important papers I might need.

all the assignments for the week

all the assignments for the week

Lastly, I pack all the teacher books in my booksack, loaded with any extra materials needed for the different subjects.  For example, each Math-U-See lesson has a short explanatory video that the kids watch to assist with their learning and understanding. Brother’s Social Studies has a few poster cards to be used with certain lessons.  And of course I pack a few extra activities to make things fun & change things up a bit.

Voila! Homeschool packed within a matter of minutes.


Have you ever homeschooled away from home?  How’d it go?  Also, if anyone comes across a time machine, please let me know.