Monday, November 25, 2013

Sam P. is 9 months old!

This guy has been 9 months old for about a week now. And I must say, he does 9 months old well. He has learned a few new tricks and is pretty happy most of the time (a big improvement from how he was from months 2-7!). He still isn't the best sleeper at night but naps are going much better. He also is pulling up to standing wherever he can, feeding himself well, crawling instead of army crawling sometimes, and making all sorts of sounds.

However, staying still for pictures is not one of his new skills. These were the best I got out of probably 70! Ha! That boy likes to move!

Homeschooling Update

Whew! We are almost half way through our 2013-2014 school year. Max is "doing" 1st Grade and Soph, K. I decided to go with Sonlight this year in hopes of keeping planning and gathering supplies on my own to a minimum since it was my first year homeschooling 2 kiddos, plus I have a busy 3 year old and baby.

I think it was the right decision for our family this year.  However, with that being said, I don't think I will be going with Sonlight again next year. Sonlight definitely had lots of pros...

  • Awesome literature. We have read (and will read) some awesome books this year. A lot of them are books that I probably wouldn't have chosen on my own.
  • My kids also are loving the social studies/history portion. The Usborne Encyclopedia and Living Long Ago are awesome and I find someone on the couch almost daily just looking though one of those books "just for fun".
  • Lesson plans are already done! (A huge perk!)
But, we probably won't use it again next year. I think for me the list of cons really outweighs the pros...
  • I was really disapointed in the Language Arts component. I felt like it just kind of floats through different ideas and isn't really cohesive. It also doesn't give a lot of review. 
  • I felt like I needed to supplement so we are using First Language Lessons which I love. But, I feel like with Sonlight's price I shouldn't have to order more things to supplement.
  • And yeah, the price tag. Sonlight is expensive.
  • The science experiments require a lot of materials to be gathered. Which is fine but they advertise one of the perks of their program as not having to gather a lot of materials. Not the case.
  • I feel like this shouldn't be counted as a con because it isn't really a claim Sonlight makes... but I felt like all topics should flow together more... If we are reading about the pilgrims coming to America for studies I think it would be neat if our read alouds, laungauge arts lessons, etc. all tied in. I felt like we were having to switch gears all day long.
  • It is hard to shake things up or take a break without throwing off the lesson plan schedule. 
But, I don't regret buying it this year at all. I don't know that I would have learned so much about my personal homeschooling philosophies without it! I have learned that for me, unit studies (based on my kids interests, current events, the time of year, etc) and amazing literature is where it is at. And those things are my heart for homeschooling my children. Sonlight really doesn't fit that vision and that is fine. It is still a great program. It just isn't for me!

So, as we continue on this year we will still be using most of our Sonlight materials. But, I will be adding in several unit studies along the way and really focusing on the literature. It will be more work on my end but I really believe it is what works best for me and for my kids... and that is the beauty of homeschooling!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Teach the younger women...

The best part of having your own blog is you can say whatever you want... your own little corner of the internet to vent ;)

And I hate to use the term vent, but my heart just felt so heavy this morning. Sarah Mae, one of my absolute favorite author/bloggers reposted one of her most shared blog posts. It is entitled, "Maybe Your Two Year Old Just Needs You" and it got over 92,000 shares. And as I sat thinking about it I realized why I believe this article got so many shares... it was a breath of fresh air.

As moms we are hungry for encouragement. We are hungry for older women to live out the Titus 2 mandate and teach us to "love our children"... because we have been starved for it...

When I first found out I was having a baby I do not remember getting any advice or encouragement to love my baby. I had books and discipline methods shoved at me from every angle. I was told if I didn't "sleep train" my child I basically don't want to raise my children to be Godly people... But, no, I wasn't encouraged or trained in any way to love my child.

I think it is because people assume that loving your children is a given. And to some degree it is. I naturally loved my children. But, I don't think we always know how to "act" like a loving mom. Or how that all plays out. So, we default to the practical advice that is heaped upon us.

And I believe in our self-centered, me-driven culture, a lot of the advice we are given appeals to us. It is applealing to have perfectly well behaved children. Having kids that don't inconvenience our way of life and cause us to have to sacrifice in any way does sound good. Being able to train my baby to sleep through the night as soon as possible and have a toddler who never throws their Cheerios on the floor is what we want when it comes down to it... We want to live our lives with as little inconvenience as possible.

But, what if the reality is that motherhood is really about sacrifice? Sacrificing ourselves. Laying down our own lives. And loving. And maybe that kind of sacrificial love DOES need to be taught. Maybe we need to be trained how to love our own children. I know in many ways it did not come naturally to me. I am sure thankful for women like Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson who are breaking the mold as "parenting experts" and are putting discipline aside and teaching love.

And I know discipline is important. I see the value of practical advice, and yes, disciplining our children is part of loving them. But, out of the context of loving and sacrificing I think it can do so much more harm than good. And while Jesus doesn't lay out a sleeping regimen for infants in the Bible he does lay out a pattern of love and sacrifice. And whether we like it or not the command is to teach the younger women to love their children.

So, here it goes for what it is worth... Let's LOVE our children today. Let's make sure that they are tickled and snuggled and laughed with. Let's tell them they are valuable and beautiful and wonderful. When they spill the glass of milk let's help them clean it up. When they interrupt what we are doing let's stop and give them our attention rather than rolling our eyes. When our babies cry let's comfort them and rock them rather and feel blessed for the opportunity rather than feeling "put out". And when we have the opportunity let's teach another mother to "love".

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back to Monday

Happy Monday! (Trying to use the power of suggestion... I was NOT quite ready for the weekend to be over!) It was a really, really good weekend.

Highlights include:

  • A spontaneous night out with my friend Jenn. We went to dinner and then checked out one of the new outlet malls.
  • A full date day with my husband, hallelujah! We went to Old Town St. Charles and had lunch and walked around and peeked at the shops. Then we went to VB Chocolate Bar in Cottleville for coffee and dessert (it was so much fun!). We topped off our date wandering around Barnes and Noble. (Huge thank you to my parents for making the kiddos day just as fun as ours was). I have to say, I was really head over heals in love with my husband when I got married... but I love him so much more today and continue to fall more in love with him... so thankful.
  • Saturday evening we decided to have a little Thanksgiving craft family night so we did turkey hands, made Native American headdresses and decorated cookies.
  • Yesterday we went to church and sang a song that was new for me... and I am kind of obsessed with it now... :)
  • We spent our afternoon lounging a little bit. I took a little nap because I had gotten like two hours of sleep the night before!
  • We went to my parent's house yesterday evening for a fish fry and to watch the Broncos beat the Chiefs (sorry, Hubs!)

In other news... this guy is 9 months old today... you have got to be kidding me!

The kiddos and I are excited for this week.We are doing a Thanksgiving unit study this week! I am excited to take a break from some of our normal stuff and dig deeper into one of my favorite holidays with my kids this week! (I will update more on homeschooling soon!)

I hope everyone has a good week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Days of Thankfulness

Okay, I realized after my first post that I probably won't be able to keep up with 30 days of Thankfulness here on the blog. I get most of my internet time in during nursing sessions on my phone. I do want to participate so I decided to do it via Instagram this year. It is just easier that way for me. So, feel free to follow along over there. I am using #30daysofthankfulness to keep them all together.

Remember to pray...

A few years ago my dear friend Elizabeth who lives in Illinois shared a practical tip that has stuck with me and had a deep effect on my prayer life. I thought I would share it in case it might be a blessing to anyone else.

Elizabeth shared with me that she used anything going going on in her home as a reminder to pray...
her boys were playing together nicely... "Lord, let them always be close"
her boys were fighting... "Lord, help them to learn good conflict resolution and help them to love each other"
picking up her husband's socks... "Lord, thank you for my husband and that he is able to be home in the evenings"...

Anything! (Sorry if those weren't your exact examples Elizabeth! ha!)

dishes piled up, messy floors, toys all over the house after a playdate, snuggles from a kiddo for no reason...

It has been such a blessing to me to pray this way. Life is busy and after my morning quiet time it is easy to get in survival mode and just get stuff done. But, using everyday things as prayer reminders has helped me keep my perspective on God and to see him at work in our home. It helps me to pray for things that I might not think about in a quiet house in the morning. And ultimately it keeps me in communion with God throughout the day, which is really the whole point.

Give it a try! Look around and you will find that your everyday life is full of inspiration to pray! You can even use things that you see everyday as daily prayer reminders. Every time you see your wedding ring you can thank God for your marriage. When you fill up your water cup you can pray for women on the other side of the globe who don't have easy access to clean water for their families. When you drive by your neighborhood school pray for safety in our schools and communities and for those teachers who are shining the light of Christ there. Really, the sky is the limit. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Recap 2013

I think yesterday was the best Halloween our little family has had to date. It started off rough... I have a 3 year old boy, need I say more? (I have found terrible 2's to be a myth but the terrible 3's can really rear its ugly head around here!) But, after that initial rough patch it was the perfect day.

We started off the day meeting some friends from our church to visit the nursing home. We try to go every month and the kiddos have always enjoyed it. Today the plan was to just let the kids show off their costumes to the residents. I was just so proud of my kids. They are already so good at just loving people (better than I am). They smiled and showed off their costumes and said "Happy Halloween" even when people couldn't talk back to them. It was such a sweet time.

After lunch we made some little ghost cookies for dessert and then we painted pumpkins. We didn't get around to carving this year so we decided to just paint. It was fun. Although, I think we will try to carve next year. I missed the squeals getting out the pumpkin guts... and I really missed roasting the seeds!

Our friends were supposed to come over and spend Halloween with us but they ended up being sick so they couldn't come. So, my parents came over instead. I made chicken noodle soup and cornbread. We ate and then went trick or treating.
We ended up with 2 ninjas, Snow White, and a dinosaur

Soph was so excited to be Snow White this year. Nick's mom made this costume for his older sister when she was little! Both of his sisters wore it and now Sophie got to! And it is still in amazing shape! It was sweet.

My ninja.

Jack was supposed to be Dusty from Planes but when he saw Max being a ninja he was over it. My sweet neighbor heard about it and brought over one of their ninja costumes for him to borrow. He was always in character!

And a little dino! Nick's mom got this outfit for Jack when he was a baby and so we were thankful to get to use it again!

The weather was icky so after a few houses the kiddos were ready to head back home... especially since they heard there was hot chocolate back at home! They drank their hot chocolate and sorted candy and then we snuggled up on the couch and watched Monsters University while passing out candy.
Sam had fun riding around in the stroller!

Jack especially loved helping to pass out the candy... although he was a little stingy and only wanted to give people one piece. My mom said he takes after his grandpa, ha!

It was a great family day and I am thankful for it!

Month of Gratitude {Day 1}

Can you believe it is November already? I can't wrap my mind around it! I feel like yesterday we were swimming! My friend Christina posted on Facebook her first "Month of Gratitude" post and I was so thankful for the reminder! It has become one of my favorite November traditions! Along with eating all things pumpkin....

So, here goes my month of gratitude (in no particular order!)...

I am thankful I get to be a mom to these amazing kiddos. I know that it is a privilege and it is one I do not take for granted. I really love being a mom and I love to remember (especially on hard days) that God specifically gave me these children and that I am specifically supposed to be their mom. God put us together on purpose! I love that!