Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nathan is 18 months

I can't believe the time is here, where my baby boy is 18 months old. The time with him has just absolutely flown by. At times I wish Nathan was an infant curled up on my chest, but then there are times I love the age that he is. I love all phases of childhood, infancy to toddler-hood, and one of the things I love about 18 months, is how much their speech develops, how they start becoming more mobile, start developing interest in certain toys and cartoon characters, I love it all. Of course, there can be some moments that are frustrating about this age, like having opinions about things and the ONLY way to share that opinion is to have a screaming fit. This is a difficult age because you can't reason with them, so most of the time you are left with two options: give the screaming child what he wants or ignore the screaming child.

So Nathan, at 18 months:
  • You wear size 4 diapers.
  • Your wear size 5 shoe.
  • You wear 18-24 months shirts.
  • You can wear shorts anywhere from 12 months-24 months (depending on the brand).
  • You still love the water and bath time.
  • You started walking since the last update I did on you. You started walking about week before you turned 17 months.
  • You have been to the beach. You weren't crazy about it at first, but by the end of the day, you were in love with the idea of digging in the sand and crawling and sitting in the water.
  • You love milk.
  • Your favorite fruits are: banana's, apples, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes and blueberries.
  • You like carrots, red peppers and edamame beans.
  • You are starting to feed yourself with a spoon.
  • You are a pretty serious kid. You remind me a lot of Joseph. You both are thinkers and take your time thinking over things before becoming comfortable. You, however, are a little more out spoken about situations (this means you scream.....a lot!).
  • You can say: Mama, Dada, ball, Bible, Joe, hi, bye, more, bite, banana (nana), Christian (Shinshin), Papaw, Poppy, uh-oh, no, yeah, hot, Cooper, down, up, help, cheese, thank you, poo poo, cat, dog, jump, car, frog, and why.
  • You love balls.
  • You have recently taken an interest in Elmo and Cookie Monster.
  • Anytime we sit down on the computer, he grab our legs and spin us around because you want to sit in our lap. You love watching YouTube videos of Elmo.
  • You are starting to interact more and more with Joseph and Christian.
  • You are starting to want Dada more. Sometimes in the morning when I come get you, you ask for him first thing.
  • You are still all about Mimi, but have recently started to go to Marnie even when I am right there.
  • You are a little more strong willed then what I remember the other two being.
  • You love to play with the cell phones.
  • You still struggle with asthma. Thankfully we are still able to treat you with just an inhaler.
  • You HATE to wear shoes. As soon as you get in the car, you are trying to take them off.

This was a special picture because as I was starting to take it, I said, "say cheese." And he said cheese and smiled!  

 You and Christian are really starting to bond. I am so thankful that you all love each other so much.

 Your BFF.
 We need to work on how to hold a Popsicle correctly.

Joseph:                                        Nathan:                                             Christian:
 26.50 lbs (57%)                         24.13 lbs (24%)                                I can't find his stats :-(
 32.75 in (60%)                          32.75 in (59%)
All the boys at 18 months. Joseph and Nathan have the same facial features, but C and Nathan have identical coloring of the skin and hair.

 I was trying to get pictures to mark this special milestone and Nathan wasn't too interested. We tried a nice grassy field, but at first, he didn't like his shoes on. So, I took them off. Then he didn't like the grass on his feet. So, we went by the house and I couldn't even get him to look at me. He let me know he was finished by walking away and telling me 'bye.'

 Oh Nathan, before we know it, we will be having your second birthday. You are a joy in our lives and you keep us on our toes. Love you!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We have decided

*The following contains a lot of words and no pictures : -) *

When Jeff and I first got married and before we had children, we talked a lot about how we wanted to raise our future family. One of the things we talked about was what form of education we were going to pursue. Were we going to homeschool, do public school or private?
Jeff and I were both public school kids and for the most part, our experiences were positive. Jeff was very successful in his academics and I in the athletics. So from those experiences, we never even thought twice about where our kids would attend school.
Well, over the past couple of years as our friends and family's children have started school and a vast majority were deciding to homeschool, Jeff and I started to talk more about it. Then, Joseph had his fifth birthday and we were like, "Holy cow, he starts school in six months, what are we going to do?" I never ever ever thought we would talk so much about this subject, pray about, read about, get advice about than we have these past couple of months. The thought of homeschool or public school has consumed our thoughts and prayers.
I first want to thank each and every single person that has prayed for us over this decision, who has mentored us, given us advice, and the homeschool moms that have allowed me into their homes to shadow them for a day of school. I can't thank you all enough!!!!
For us, this coming year, we are going to try public school. You may not really care much what I have to say past this point, because I am going to list a few things that we prayed, read, and felt why God is calling us to public school. It helped us significantly reading blogs that gave advice about either one, so I thought I would blog about our decision and who knows, some points (or maybe non of the points below) may help a family out in deciding what to choose for their family.
Before I begin, if I say "I" instead of "We," don't think that Jeff didn't have anything to do with this decision. He had a lot to do with this! For us, how we first approached this (when we started seriously considering homeschooling), Jeff told me that he wasn't going to tell me to homeschool. His reasons were because I was going to be doing the bulk of the teaching and he didn't want to put that burden on me. (That's why I love this man!). Jeff gave his take on homeschool and public school and then listened to my take on each one.
Also, this post is in no way, shape or form to bash other forms of education. If I say something that may offend you, just understand this.... that is not my hearts intent.
One of the first things we did, was we sat down and did a pros/cons list for homeschool and public. Now, we have nothing against private, but being a one income family, there was no way that was going to be a viable option of us.
Pros/Cons: This was a great way to dissect each choice and give us a better picture of what homeschool and public school may look like. When we were finished, we prayed over the list for Gods direction and wisdom.
Sought out Godly council, books and blogs: I feel like I became obsessed with this. Every where we went, the park, our walks around the neighborhood, etc, where ever it was, I just started asking parents of children that looked around Joseph's age, where their kids went to school and how they like it. I have recently met several neighbors whose children go to the school that Joseph will go to and I haven't heard one bad thing about it. They have all said the curriculum is wonderful and all the teachers they have encountered have been wonderful. Jeff and I prayed endlessly about this decision. We love our kids way too much to just throw them into something without going before the throne on their behalf. I had my friends at covenant group, our community groups, and my Wednesday bible study praying for us in this decision. One book that we read that really sealed our decision on public school was Going Public by David and Kelli Pritchard. I will mention this book a lot in this post, so brace yourself.
Why do I want to Homeschool? When we started throwing around the idea of homeschool and Jeff informed me that he wasn't going to tell me to homeschool, but would support me if that's what I felt like I was being called to do, I asked myself the question, "Why do I want to homeschool?" What it boiled down to was....fear. Since the second I found out that I was pregnant with Joseph, I immediately, as his mother, felt like a mama bear. My job from the second they are in my tummy, is to protect them and provide for them. The thought of my baby (yes, he will always be my baby), being picked on out school, hurt or made fun of just makes my stomach churn. There are a lot of horrible things in this life, but one thing that can really get a mama bear (I promise this is the last time I refer to myself as a mama bear) really angry is someone sinning against our child. Joseph being sinned against has happened quiet a few times and it hurts. So, I started thinking about him being at school, being sinned against and me, the mam....oops, I said I wouldn't say that again, being here, at home, not being able to protect him tempted me to worry. Then, God graciously stepped in, and I was reminded that I am not in control. I may feel like it when he is here, but I'm really not the one in control. I shared this point with my covenant group ladies, about being fearful, and I was sent this wonderful blog post. It was this one mother, in my situation, and she told another mom that she was fearful of sending her child into an environment she couldn't control. This amazing mother, who I would love to meet, said, "I don't believe in making decisions based on fear. Ever. If God isn't the author of fear, then when I listen to my fears I know I'm not listening to the voice of God." Whoa! How true is that statement? I then began to pray that fear, worry and anxiety about Joseph being in a different environment would be taken from my heart and mind. "Do not  call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy, do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread....I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him." Isiah 8:12-13, 17
Quality Time: This was something else I thought a lot about. Not getting to spend time with him. Seriously, it has been less than 7 times that Joseph has been without me for an entire day. I hated the idea of him being gone, what seems like, all day. The whole reason for me being home is to love on him, provide for him, and shepherd him. I then talked to a friend whose son is in public school, so I asked if she ever felt like she missed out on time with her son. She said, "No, because the time I have with him is more quality time." Then I started thinking, I am here with my boys from 6:30a-5:30p and the amount of time that I am actually playing with them isn't the entire day. I do my chores, they go to the Y child watch while I work out, they go to bible class on Wednesdays, so it isn't every single second of the day I am with them. One of the things Kelli Pritchard said in their book was that she would have everything done before she picked up the kids from school, so that way the time she had with them after school wasn't wasted on other things. Some people have argued that public school is super long and do we really want our child under someone else's care for that long of a period. The book that we read broke the times down between how much time is spent at school and how much is spent at home. The time at home was 3 times as much. (For the life of me, I can't find the page it was on). When you factor in the time before school, the time after school, weekends, holidays and summers, it far at weighs the 180 days they are in school.
Not wanting our child to become corrupt: This is something that I have heard as to why a lot of Christian families homeschool. They don't want their children to be led astray by "worldly" children or be corrupted by their classmates. I hate to say this, but we are equally corrupt. Sin is sin. It isn't going to be the teachers or my sons classmates that make him corrupt. Joseph, or all our boys for that matter, are corrupt because they were born human. I like how this one blog put it, "The kid that aces the SAT, is a basketball star, has perfect attendance, has memorized 400 Bible verses and never kissed a girl is equally corrupt as the kid that drops out, gets three girls pregnant and work's at Wendy's." We need to teach our children that "Salvation is from the Lord," (Jonah 2:9), not of the school, or of the parent. It's going to be our job, as their parents, to teach them to guard their hearts and to be prepared in and out of season from the first day of kindergarten.
Teachable Moments: For the longest time one of the things that has gotten me excited about our boys going to public school, is the teachable moments. Now, our intentions aren't to throw Joseph into the trenches and take the grenades, but take the moments that we are together and talk about what he is going through and learning and bring scripture to life. As much as we want our boys to be Godly influences in public school, our goal isn't to have our sons be preachers at 5 years of age. We simply want him to be "a good student, a good citizen, and a servant-leader-to model what Christianity actually is." The main job for Jeff and I is to do most of the talking with teachers, administrators, coaches, board members, other parents and even our children's classmates.
Best Advice: One of the best pieces of advice I have been given is to take each child and each year at a time. This semester, we purchased a book titled, Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. We try to do a lesson a day, but sometimes it doesn't work out a particular day, but doing these lessons, I really felt like God was showing me that Joseph and I aren't made for homeschool. What happens almost every day is we sit down to do a lesson and Joseph will make a mistake and when I correct him, he will just shut down. When I tell people I don't think I could homeschool my kids, I get these crazy, confused looks because I have a degree in Educationa and taught for a few years before staying home. What I tell them is that I am a totally different teacher than I am mother. As a teacher, I am more driven and straightforward. I don't do well with laziness, defeatous attitudes and I tend to get very firm when I am teaching. For Joseph, this really gets him upset. He is my pleaser by nature and when he gets an answer wrong, then I correct him, he generally will shut down. If I continue to show him how to do something or encourage him to try again, he thinks I am mad at him, then begins to cry, then he will just guess at answers to get the lesson over quickly. It can be pretty frustrating. All this got me thinking one day. I was never big into learning and my academics growing up, I was more the sporty girl. However, I loved to teach and it wasn't until I got to college and started my field base assignments/student teaching that I realized how much fun learning can be. I want our boys to realize that a lot sooner than I did and going through what we go through for a 20 minute reading lesson for an entire year would be no fun for Joseph or me. I know what a lot of you might say, "Oh, he'll get used to it." True, but I want him to enjoy learning from the very beginning and not in May when we are almost done.

"Change the filter now, rather than the entire engine later":  I thought this was an awesome quote from the book, Going Public. One of the reasons that we have always loved the idea of our kids attending public school is because we would rather teach and model for them how they are to act now, when they come home with stories from school or if they are struggling in an area, rather than have them here, homeschooled for the next 18 years and then they get their first dose of reality in college. We would rather deal with fall outs when they are 5, 10, 15, rather than when they are 18, on their own and away from home. "Lord, we pray for us all, catch us early in our sin.The sooner mistakes and deliberate wrongdoings come to light, the sooner we can confess, repent and rise above our weakness."

Tough Decision:  This decision process has been a very challenging one for Jeff and I. We really appreciate all the support and positive encouragement from the individuals that we have. We know that many of you may think that we are complete idiots for sending our innocent children into, what some may refer to as the 'pits of hell,' but for us and our family, this is what educating our child is going to look like for this coming school year. I stumbled across this quote right after we had declined two New Jersey job offers about two years ago. Just be thankful that I read this after we declined because I told Jeff, if I had read this before we declined, we might not still be here. I actually came across this quote on a blog that I read often and that mother used this quote for why she made the decision to homeschool. Isn't amazing that two people can look at the same quote and interpret it into two different ways?  Ms. Shirer says, “When you face two options and each seems to please God, consider the one that displays God’s glory, power and strength. This makes room for God to reveal Himself to you and show Himself through you. God wants us to see the wondrous things He will accomplish in us. Don’t be fearful about the hard road He may ask you to take. Be encouraged and excited about seeing His divine, supernatural activity in and through you. God’s voice commands the option that will display His power. He desires to show Himself strong in you and will encourage you to do things that require trust and faith.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-9: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates." I know some homeschool families and books about homeschool use this verse as to why they homeschool and arguments as to why they think every believer should homeschool. I really took this verse to heart and read over it several times to see what I was missing. At first, I was thinking, "If we have our children attend public school, one of us will be there when they wake up and when they lie down. I will be taking them and picking them up from school, so we will have plenty of opportunities to talk about the gospel. What am I not seeing in this verse that  alot of other believers are?" I started to feel a little insecure in that maybe I wasn't listening or obeying God, that I wasn't that great of a mother because I didn't feel this strong pull towards homeschool. As I was typing this blog post, I went back to this scripture but this time, I read the commentary for this specific scripture. Here is what my commentary said for Deut. 6:7 "The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of  life. The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented. They used the context of daily life to teach about God. The key to teaching your children to love God is stated simply and clearly in these verses. If you want your children to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday experiences. You must teach your children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related." 

We are very excited about what God has in store for our family and for Joseph as we begin a new phase. We are approaching public school with completely open hands and if we in any way feel like God is calling us to pull him out of public to homeschool, we are more than willing. We thank you again for all your prayers, words of wisdom, and guidance during this process.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All fun and games

I have really been wanting to sit down and do a post on our little C-bear. As parents, there are things about each one of your children that you just love. This post isn't in any way showing favor to Christian, but things he has been doing lately have been bringing smiles to our face.

The special thing about Christian is that this kid is always happy. At home he is smiling, laughing, singing, running, hopping, galloping, skipping. This kid is just a happy kid. Needless to say, sad Christian, makes us sad. I mean, don't get me wrong, he has his moments of melting down and whining, but that is usually when he is super tired or hungry.

When he was about to turn 3, I started seeing some signs of defiance. All I could think to myself was, "Oh joy, here we go again." When Joseph was 3, it wasn't the highlight of my parenting. I think it was hard for me to see Joseph so defiant and sassy since he had been this really easy baby and toddler and hardly ever had to be re-directed or disciplined. Then he turned 3 and oh my word, I couldn't believe that was my child. Then Joseph turned 4, and awww, how awesome was that year!? He would say, "yes, mama...thank you mama...yes please," and go get dressed first thing in the morning without ever being asked. It was such a delight. So when Christian was about to turn 3, I was preparing my mind, my heart and my attitude to have to correct, discipline and guide this little guy on how to act. Much to my surprise, Christian turning 3 hasn't been that bad and I am so thankful for that. One of the things Christian has been doing since he has turned 3 is, when he sees something or sees Jeff doing something, this kid falls in love with whatever it is. Christian is also really beginning to fall in love with sports and when we go outside to play a particular sport, he has to get suited up for it...just like the pros do.

For example, when we go outside to play soccer, he has to have his shirt that has a soccer ball on it, the matching short, and tennis shoes.

When we got outside to play football, he has to have his Aggie helmet.
 Jeff has recently started playing the guitar for our church and Christian loves the drummer for the church. One day he grabbed my cell phone and I asked what he was doing and he told me, "I'm going to call Jody." He now likes to sit with me during worship time so he can watch Jeff and Jody play.
 Jeff  showed the boys a video of Dave Grohl and when he did, Christian was all about playing his guitar. The particular video they like watching, Dave wraps his hand with some white tape. Joseph came upon some white tape in the garage and so when they play, "FooFoo Fighters," they want me to wrap their hands in the white tape.
 Jeff took Christian to a Rockets game a while back and Christian played basketball the rest of that week. But to play, he has to wear his blue jersey with a basketball on it, the matching shorts and his black converse basketball shoes.
 Jeff showed the boys a video of Dave Grohl on the drums, so Christian had to put on a white shirt like Dave and played to drums for that week.
 Christian loves baseball and asks quite often when he can play. We were telling him he couldn't play until he was 5, but we are starting to feel so bad that he is having to sit everything out when he is so ready to play. I think we are going to crack and put him in something in the Fall. Every Saturday he wants to go and watch Joseph play tball. Christian sits at the end of the bench and goes to the huddles before and after the games. (Oh, and Christian has to have his baseball hat and glove)

 And here is Christian riding the 'bull.' He wanted to do this after he went to the Rodeo with Marnie and Poppy. He had to put on his 'army jacket' and his Aggie helmet, because the bull riders wear vests and helmets when riding. He has told me that he is going to do the Muttin Bustin next year. I am sure he will and I sure he will probably break something ;-)

The following are just some pictures of our happy little guy. 

 He loves and adores his big brother so much.

Even though turning 3 hasn't really brought upon the defiant attitude or disrespectfulness, he has had three injuries since January. He fractured his arm right before his third birthday by falling out of the door of the trampoline. Then in March, he dislocated his elbow by being swung around. Then last week, he fractured his foot by falling off the top bunk. I want to say here, that YES we do watch our children, it's just this kid is so careless! I distinctly remember joking when he was a toddler that if there was an edge, he would find it. He fell off of everything. It's one of those things you love about him, but at the same time, we are going to have to pray EXTRA protection over this kid in the years to come. He is fearless! Like, I am serious, hours after having his arm put back in place he wanted to go outside and play football. So, like always, we put his helmet on and he charged right at Joseph, who had the ball. Just like that, Christian busted his lip. This kid is crazy!