Wednesday, December 22, 2010

accountability and accomplishment

The two truly go hand in hand.

When our homeschool journey began Parker was in second grade and reading around a fifth grade level. We hit the ground running and it was so easy. Parker is a sponge and if I taught it , he learned. No frustration, for real......

The day I started homeschooling Parker I always knew that the day would come when I had to make a decision about Kindergarden with Paxton, and Piper. That was such a hard choice for me. I already knew the benefits of homeschool and how wonderful it can be but there were still two major issues holding me back.

1. That first day = Parker didn't miss his so this was a difficult decision to me. what a special day and I just couldn't bare to miss it.

2. reading=  I believed wholeheartedly that only someone with an education degree could teach a child to read. To me this was simply an insurmountable task.

As the day approached I started to panic a bit. I was hugely pregnant and had a WILD toddler at home in addition to a preschool princess who refused to set foot in a preschool and throw in an ailing anorexic great dane whom i was preparing and hand feeding three meals a day. Oh yeah, toss in an epileptic mastiff...we do not have great luck with dogs. I just didn't think i could handle two homeschoolers.

We were attending a small Baptist church at the time and that church had a small private school as well. We received a partial scholarship and so self-doubt + great christian school opportunity= 2 kids in school asap.
So Paxton got that first day, and I realized that I had truly built this day up in my mind. There was no first day magic, Paxton could have cared less, he simply went right into the same class he has Sunday School in and that was that...hmmm. We truly had a wonderful experience at the Christian school but by second semester the scholarship was out and i had stopped looking for the amazing Kindergarden magic dust. I had the baby, got the toddler to stop stealing my coffee creamer and potty trained him, went down to 1 special needs dog , so I was thinking I could do it. The kids were coming home :)

It was great! Parker did well and kindergarden homeschool really doesn't take much time. Both were thriving and we finished off the year with a bang. Paxton had half learned to read and was doing pretty well so I got a little taste but it wasn't all on my shoulders........unfortunately I would face the very same situation the next year. Paxton and Piper are 17mos apart so they started Kinder one after the other. This summer I started having the same anxieties. We also live next door to Piper's bff who was starting Kindergarden as well and how fun for them to ride the bus together etc..........but this time, I knew how it would play out. I stuck to my guns and we began our homeschool journey with a  Kindergardener :)

Our first day was pretty special, we talked about it for weeks and she knew the day she started Kindergarden homeschool she would be a big girl! She was so excited. It went wonderfully and I was so glad i did it!!!!!!.........but there was still that reading issue.

I had researched it a little with Paxton and quite a bit more to prepare for this year. There were basically two schools of thought on how to teach reading, of course there are a few mixes here and there but Phonics or Sight Words are the biggest two. I quickly  made the decision that Sight Words are simply memorization and not true learning. I learned through phonics and have always been a great reader so i threw out the sight words option and we leaped into phonics....and we struggled, and we got frustrated, and all those self doubting thoughts kept popping up. She wasn't reading and it just wasn't going so great, and then I came across a sight words book at the dollar store. I figured I'd give it a try......a week into it Piper was thriving. Knowing a few words gave her self confidence and the ability to make new words out of them. It was amazing! and so, i was wrong. My new opinion on sight words vs phonics is that each child is different and what works for one does not work for all. My boys are phonics readers as am I but Piper is doing a great job learning with sight words. I am still doing phonics with her but with her new found confidence it goes alot better.

I also belong to the school of thought that teaches reading is a developmental skill. All children will not and can not learn to read in Kindergarden. All children should be taught, and taught and taught but ultimately they will reach a maturity with the right instruction and the reading switch will flip to on. This will NOT happen at the same age for every child.

Now that I'm on the other side, Piper is reading, there was no first day lost it is such a great feeling. I have accomplished a goal as a teacher and mother. I'm proud of my daughter for working hard and doing a great job. Any parent knows how exciting it is to have a child begin to read. It  is  a great moment and such an achievement. The hardest part about homeschool for me is the accountability, all of these achievements are on our shoulders..not a teachers, or a school system,....if they fail, if they lack a skill etc it will be my fault. But man when they meet a goal its even ten times better knowing I took a major role in the process. I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with my children and take part in this experience.

I want to encourage everyone, even if you are not homeschooling, to take a major roll in your child's education. There will be few greater joys given to you :)

and yes, she homeschools in a tutu.....she says its the best thing about homeschool !

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Neglected


I have been playing the facebook numbers game. If you don't know what that is , its when you ask all your friends to send you a message with a number. You then post the number and all your thoughts about this person. Only you and the person know who they are. At first I found this intimidating but quickly once the game began I realized that every single person has something I value. I have over 400 facebook friends. One would assume I cannot possibly know them all or care for them all, but after playing this game I'm thinking that perhaps i do. for every person I clicked "accept".  I am a very real and honest and transparent person on facebook, and even more so on this blog which is then linked to my facebook so everyone i friend has the opportunity to know me intimately. That was a decision I made a long time ago. Be honest, or do not take the time away from family, teaching, learning, or laundry. If I could not be real then there was no reason to be present here. Recently I have been considering clearing out some of my friends but now i am pondering why i accepted their friendship in the first place. for each person there was a connection, there was a past or a present or perhaps i saw a future. As the game forces me to think about my true feelings for many of these friends I realize that there is a reason each and every one came into my life. I thank you all for being there and for sharing your lives with me on some small level. what a blessing :)

Out of those 400 there are some that i really am close friends with. Many i share a special connection with and even some are family (or should be). As I started to get lots of numbers in my inbox i realized that this game is alot of work. I considered not participating anymore and just forgetting the whole thing. but then i thought , what about that person who messaged me and never hears back. What will they think, will their feelings be hurt, will they be angry, will they forever wonder if i simply had nothing nice to say about them. I realized at that point that this game is alot like real life friendship. It is a commitment and sometimes it is hard work. Sometimes you may step away because you don't have time, but you can always come back and nurture those friendships. If you don't, there will be hurt feelings, or anger, or perhaps it will simply fade away.

My life is so busy, friendships are one thing i truly neglect. I have found the friends closest to me are the ones who know my chaos and reach out to me, at which point i will stop and share a moment with them. This simply should not be. Friendships are important, they are a gift from God. They are essential and they help maintain who we are besides just mom, cook, employee etc. I want my children to see a better example in me. I want them to see outwardly how much i cherish my friendships on the inside. I want them to grow up and do the same. Recently i have been doing better, Ive been setting aside Friday's after gymnastics just to sit and be with friends. Im so thankful to these ladies for setting this example for me. Im doing my best to extend it to my far away friends as well, a phone call, a note, even an email just to know that i do think of you and miss you. The game also helped me realize that I need to take the time to nurture my "sapling" friendships. Not to let the blessing of a kind woman pass me by simply because i was too busy.

Often I am content in my own little shell, our  happy little home full of beautiful children and sometimes i think i could just stay there forever. the truth is that God saw fit to cross my path with many special and wonderful people. Aside from the Bible I learned everything I know that is worth knowing, from friendship. I promise to do better and return the favor. Thank you  to everyone who has spent time maintaining a friendship with me, even when i haven't done the same.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

wow who knew??

Recently i outed myself as a non-weener. We do not celebrate Halloween, however this topic still affects us. Though we limit the amount coming into our home our thoughts on candy don't extend much further than that. All is good in moderation. I did not pass out candy for Halloween but i do wish i had learned about this sooner. I wish I could have gotten the word out before all the chocolate folks enjoyed one of their most profitable seasons, but its never to late for learning and sharing.

A mama friend shared her knowledge on chocolate with me. So where does it come from..well  most of it comes from cocoa plantations in africa. That sounds nice enough right? but no, think a little deeper. The average African is under 20 years old. This makes most of Africa populated by children. Many African children work hard to support their families, that alone would be considered illegal and abusive by American standards. It would be nice to think that cocoa plantations help these children to support their families and pay them a fair wage, but that is not the case. Similar to the diamond situation, children are forced into slavery. Taken from their homes and families, they are beaten, sold, even killed when the beatings don't produce fruitful results. As usual  Americans tend to assume this is someone else's fault/problem etc. but this is a very American problem and though there is no real instant cure, there is a very easy way to help. I absolutely would love to purchase all organic and fair trade foods for my family all the time, but the reality is they are very expensive and not quite compatible with our supersized troupe. All that said, nobody needs to eat chocolate in bulk and if you make a choice to only accept and purchase fair trade chocolate you are making a choice not to support MAJOR human rights violations. Most of the companies buying the bloodstained cocoa are the companies you know and love, Hershey's, Nestle etc. Many of these companies do produce their own brands of fair trade chocolates and if they don't , well, too bad. They have been promising for a decade to change their ways so lets pray for these children and lets make a statement to these companies that Americans will not allow children to be harmed for the sake of a sweet tooth. This is unacceptable!

for more info on this subject please check out this site and the links provided there 

and if your not quite sure what fair trade is check it out. if you are already buying organic then consider a switch. it doesn't cost more and  i will gladly ingest a few pesticides if it means the life and comfort of another human is protected. often fair trade products are organic as well and its just a matter of switching brands.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

a whole year ago!

Actually this post is 2 days late, so a year and two days ago to the hour I began my journey to becoming a mother of 5.......

Upon conception of P 5 I determined my due date to be Halloween. I had never once made it to my due date. I was the proud owner of two 38weekers and two 39weekers. I had never been induced so the dates were always the naturally occurring sort. I just didn't seem to be a full term birther, but i was determined, this one would be different. I wanted a Halloween baby. I declared it so, but as the weeks drug on and the belly grew I became restless. At 38wks i decided i couldn't make it, here i was so huge i could barely stand up without flipping over. My birthy friends assured me that most women due in fact make it past 38 and 39 and if given the chance typically stay pg past the due date. I tried hard to believe them, and once i got past 39wks i finally did. At that point I believed I would just stay pg forever. This was my new norm and apparently God was just gonna leave me that way permanently.

I woke up on Halloween sick of the pregnant state which I had succumbed to only 1 mere week ago. I had said I wanted the Halloween baby and here it was, the day was here, I was still pregnant, but showing zero signs of imminent labor. I told my MIL to go ahead and fly on down because I had sent this baby an eviction notice and realistically i figured i couldn't possibly stay pregnant much longer. I put on a pair of carefully chosen elastic waist pleasedontletanybodyrealizetheseareactuallypajamas black pants, and a white dress shirt of beau's. Apparently my maternity clothes didn't get the memo that we would be going past 39wks and they checked out 7days ago. We headed to the older boy's football games. People were surprised to see me still sporting the torpedo, after all it was a small town and I had told everyone that i would in fact be having a natural birth on Halloween. During I refused to sit down, i didn't pay attention to the players at all, i just walked the sidelines occasionally doing a few squats. I had never heard of this as a labor technique but i figured gravity is free so we might as well take advantage of it while we are here. My MIL arrived mid squat and as we left the came contraction-free I waved goodbye letting everyone know they would not see me tomorrow because I was having a baby today :)

I heard Greek food had magic labor vibes, so we headed straight to the Greek restaurant. We left there around 1pm and stopped at the drug store to pick up some evening primrose oil and Castor oil. I didnt even wait till we were home to start popping capsules. I mixed the Castor oil in some strawberry milk and it really wasnt that bad if you like melted lipstick in your beverage. I sat, i waited, nothin :( Around 3 or so I decided I would take the dog for a walk. First I took Peanut, the mastiff who outweighed me. I walked her farther than normal, she walked me for the first mile. I got home and sat down and opened up count my contractions,......hmmm....or not. So I decided to walk the pit bull Paris. She was the real runner/puller so i figured i was in for a workout. i was gone for awhile and starting to struggle. I was tired, and I think, maybe i felt something. My mil caught up with me and I told her i thought this was it. I sent her to take home the dog and I would take my time getting in. I truly thought i was gonna give birth on the playground, just a few more yards but i didn't think id make it. Slowly  but surely I arrived at home and announced to my husband and friends that I was in labor. Fifteen minutes later I gave birth to something.........but it was not a baby.......and again, no contractions :(

I was beginning to lose faith in my birth predictions. It was 5 pm. At this point I knew that if i was showing no signs, there was a slim chance I could actually give birth before midnight on Halloween. I was one sad cookie, I knew that realistically id give birth within a week or so but in the mere span of a few hours i'd gone from definitely giving birth today, to permanently pregnant again. I sent the family out to dinner and stayed home to sulk, or rather roll around on the trampoline like a beached whale bouncing every now and then.

And then I decided to sit down and give up. I checked contraction master just for fun....but wait....there was kinda hurt....maybe it is something. It was around 6pm so at this point I was shooting for a Nov. 1st baby. when everyone arrived home, close to 7pm I told them i was pretty sure I am in labor. Beau said something like "yeah right" "heard that one before" lol. I said it really hurts and i think this is it. He suggested I calm down, walk around and try to time some more contractions. I was nososecretly planning a homebirth. Beau was not very on board and MIL was totally not on board. There was no midwife near but i did have a school nurse down the street for back up. What happens when you tell people you are planning a secret accidental homebirth......and then you tell them you are in labor....they try to kick you out the door. So grammie said, go to the hospital. Beau said i wasn't really in labor anyway. I said, even if this is it , we aren't at the hospital going point yet and I'm not totally sure this isn't just wishful thinking.

I had contractions 3, 10, 5 min apart, nothing regular like on tv. Close to 8 I decided that even though they werent regular, this was definitely labor. I figured Id miss my deadline but i was excited to give birth and get rid of the torpedo atleast :) things were looking up. I distinctly remember my 8pm contraction, it hurt, for real, and everyone could tell. At this point beau decided that I was in labor. he began to do male nesting things like airing up tires, loading his ipod, kenneling giant dogs etc. MIL was following me around suggesting I go to the hospital. Beau would suggest that, then he would sit down as if he had no intentions of following his own suggestion. I thought the homebirth might just happen. About 9pm they started hurting, the kids were following me around getting upset, everyone was suggesting i go to the hospital. Beau said, we are going! and called our sitters so MIL could come too. I dawdled a bit, gathering up last minute things. Around 9:15 I said I kinda need to push. Beau said to forget taking the kids to be sitters, we are going straight to the hospital. I reminded him how twice before we had arrived early and been told to walk around, I didnt want that to happen again. We would just sit there for hours, hiding from the PitocinPrincess. He said He was willing to take his chances, he didnt want to do the homebirth thing so he whisked me away.

As usual they made me pre-register...and as usual, they still took forever in processing. It was 9:30 and I finally told them I could not walk and I could not wait and I could fill out my address one more time...grrr! We were met with the triage nurse who sized us up in about 5seconds. Smiling made-up young couple, having their first baby, and totally not in labor :) She took her time fiddling with this and that and gave me my gown while she began asking questions. I said, just check me and simultaneously she was reading, fifth baby, fast birth etc she complied :) and it took her awhile, and I began to dismay. I was sure with all that feeling around that she was deciding between 2 or 3 centimeters..she was frowning, i was doomed. And then it was if the choir began their heavenly chorus, the orchestra started, and her frown became panic as she pressed the "help" button announcing one of my greatest achievements....COMPLETE...."we are having a baby right now, call the doc, do not push, DO NOT PUSH".

I got to my room via speed gurney and promptly began pushing. I recall telling other women not to push. I truly believed they would/could listen. But really, it isn't optional. This was not the first time someone told me not to push. And this was not the first time i silently pushed away, giving Beau the "I'm pushing, your catching right?" look which he has come to know so well. Over the course of the next ten minutes I assured her that i was not pushing just holding my breath for fun. When the doc arrived it did take a few pushes but there he was, a gorgeous baby boy, we are done right? ....DO NOT PUSH...what, i am done, i don't want to push because i am done, but i need to push, what is going on????? finally after i threatened a push they explained that the chord was so tight he couldn't come any further. They clamped and cut the chord and as the clamp and chord shot across the room like a rubberband and gave the last push and there was pumpkin Pike all blue and sticky at 10pm on Halloween. He needed a little help to get going but all was well. Id love to say that I bond with my babies immediately after birth, we nurse instantly and have lots of skin to skin, but i cant. I do believe those are great things to do and every mom should, I swear each time that I am gonna, but it never fails that immediately afterward I am exhausto mom. Dad always gets the first snuggle and until the first whimper of hunger he enjoys being the best thing that child has ever seen :) then its my turn. Pike's birth was perfect, though I didnt get that homebirth, I'm glad i went ahead and went in. The chord issue is easily dealt with during a homebirth with a midwife or someone present who knows how to do the flip, but i would not have known and Beau most certainly was only prepared for the perfectly easy homebirth so the hospital was ok for us.  However, should their be another P, heck no i wont go, they will have to carry me out on a stretcher lol.

Pike has been a pretty awesome baby every since. He sleeps, cries alittle, loves snuggling mom. He adores his siblings and his carrier stash and isn't even beginning to protest his rear facing carseat. Though Dad would miss Pike's big day due to deployment, I was determined to celebrate it and a Halloween birthday cannot be postponed.

I feared that we wouldn't even know enough people to invite to a party but it turns out he had 15 special friends here to celebrate and a few more that we sick, no doubt from us, and couldn't make it. We have been so blessed to make so many friends so fast and they are all the great wonderful special never forget rare sort, how does that happen in 4 months? AWESOME.

I made a giant pumpkin cupcake with regular cupcakes to match. We served the regular ones but it turns out that somehow the giant cupcake was more moist and delicious, in fact I'm having a slice right in hindsight, skip normal cupcakes, go big or go home, i wish i would have served big daddy. Pike didn't get any though, instead he had some pumpkin pie. He isn't a messy guy so he carefully placed a few bites in his mouth.

The big kids had some pinata fun.

and then it was time for presents. Pike got some blocks which we tested for a three years as Sunday school teachers of 3yos. We love them, pike does to, as does every kid that sees them. They are awesome! slinky dog, notsomuch. He got some Little People, some super cute new outfits, his first toolbox, a dumptruck, some super stylish hats, a shape sorter, snuggly jammies, a fun soft book, a hooded shark towel but there are three that he is absolutely in love with. One is his new swing for the playground, two is his racetrack (in fact 4 out of five Ps play with this all day) and last but not least the monsters in his tub   he carries them around all day like they are precious treasures. He is smitten :)

I'm so thankful for his beautiful birth story and the amazing child the Lord blessed us with. He is truly a blessing and I'm so happy we went for one more :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

book review number 3 , topic: appreciation

Its been awhile since Ive blogged. Many of you know Ive been going at it solo these past few weeks and though its gone well I have found myself without my mojo. There is only one thing missing so i must assume that I receive alot of my mojo from my hubby. I'm finding new ways to appreciate him everyday.

Speaking of appreciation, im full of it these days. I appreciate my Kindle. I have no time to read, I mean this literally. I might totally 20min of silence to myself per day tops.....but i do have to nurse my baby and with my light Kindle I have developed a one handed reading/nursing technique that allows me to enjoy books again for the first time in years.
Ive read quite a few since April (when i received the Kindle) but only 4 so far are deserving of a review. Most were ok but even when they are great only a small portion of them made me feel the need to share. I had to share this one not because it was the best book ever but because it taught me so much. Some I wanted to learn, some notsomuch but all was needed.  the book was Even Silence Has an End

I first heard of the book on the Today show. The author seemed shy, she didn't say much or smile, i found it odd that her publisher would even put her on the show when she didn't really seem to want to be there. I knew she was held hostage in Columbia and I had heard a little on this subject in the past, but to be honest I've never given it much though. Certainly this interview didn't provoke me to give it any more.

A week or so later I found myself searching the Kindle store for my next book. I ran across it, I read a little more. It was set in the jungle, described a woman overcoming a tremendous amount, and thanking God. i figured i would check it out. Kindle books are much cheaper :)

The author is a woman named Ingrid Betancourt. She was a presidential candidate when she was kidnapped by the Colombian guerrilla group FARC. At this point the judgemental side of me took over. She was no ordinary woman, she put her life in danger on purpose with an agenda and it was a risk she was willing to take. She even signed some papers acknowledging that. ......Then I remembered that should the same happen to my husband, he has acknowledged those same risks by choosing a career in the military. That wouldn't make his life any less precious and his story any less deserving of compassion so I dropped it. I had to squash that down and think of her as a 40something mother of two with no jungle life experience and no military training.

Of course she despised her captors as would anyone (no Stockholm syndrome in this story) but what i found odd was the self-righteous attitude. She seemed to feel "above" the fellow prisoners and considered all this beneath her . An American ex-Marine who was one of her co-captives was quoted as saying that some of the FARC treated him better than she did :( You assume when you read a non-fictional book about kidnapping, that you will be rooting for the prisoner. While throughout the book I hoped for her escape, I simultaneously loathed her attitude. I was disgusted at her criticisms of other captives. One might assume that while held prisoner in the jungle we will have bad days and you might not always be at your best but trust me, i would not right a book portraying myself as a saint and namecalling and disrespecting others. She was hardest on Clara, a woman who went in to the jungle supporting Ingrid as her running mate. She was devoted to Ingrid and her ideas for Colombia's future, she was kidnapped and tortured with Ingrid and yet Ingrid criticised her mental instability calling her crazy, moody, etc. My heart hurt because I knew that as I am reading this book so is Clara. More than just characters in Ingrid's book , these are real people with real feelings who were innocent. They didnt ask to be a part of her story, and yet they became the subject of her harsh judgement and were presented to the world as naked on the worst day of their lives, in their worst mental states. I definitely appreciate Ingrid for writing the story but i thought she could have left out all the hurtful info of the other prisoners and still told it well. Perhaps focused more on herself.

Now there is what i hated about this story....but there was much that I loved. Before i read this I was ignorant to the plight of the many hundreds of hostages held in the jungles of Columbia to this day. I learned of the FARC a non-government guerrilla group controlling areas of Columbia and funding itself through illegal drug trade and the economic gains from hostage families. I was disgusted, saddened, and truly nauseous. Ingrid's story is bad enough. Hunger, torture, isolation, you name it. She slept in pouring rain, was bitten by more insects than i can imagine. She suffered diseases, was denied any medical treatment, malnourished, beaten. She describes all of this with amazing detail and survives many unsuccessful yet courageous escape attempts but what broke my heart the most was learning afterwards that there are hundreds of regular people just like you and me suffering this fate even now. Its the type of thing you want to assume someone has fixed by now, someone must have made this stop, but it hasn't. Ingrid was held from 2002-2008, this is not a problem of the past.

in addition to what I learned about hostages, I learned a few jungle survival skills :) now that is fun. As an army wife my husband has spent countless hours playing games of "courtney , what would you do" in which he places me imaginably in random settings, removes my comforts and resources and "teaches me a lesson" on various things i can do and use to survive. Ingrid taught me quite a few as well. i learned that i should grind and eat bones of animals i obtain in the wild for calcium. I learned I can eat salt water fish raw no problem but fresh water fish should be cooked. I learned many uses for black plastic sheets and that in a time of desperation an infant can be given black coffee in their bottle to survive ( i know, im still trying to wrap my head around this one but they did it, everyday, and the kid is alive and healthy).

I truly enjoyed this book so much so that I have done alot  more research on many of the hostages, guerrilla leaders and current status on the issue. Many of the FARC leaders who tortured Ingrid are now deceased and FARC numbers are reportedly decreasing unfortunately they are still taking hostages as a form of income . Im interested in reading the account of the same imprisonment by her companion Clara whom Ingrid demeans throughout her story. Clara has since been reunited with her jungle born son and has written a memoir of captivity as well .

while researching the author and her many fellow prisoners I discovered that i wasn't the only person who wasn't thrilled with Ingrid's description of other captives etc. In fact there was a full on boycott of the book . Also a boycott of her subsequent Colombian mini-series.

The real truth is that no matter how any of the hostages acted before, during, or after incarceration they are all worthy of our compassion as humans. After reading this book I truly appreciate freedom. Not just in the "American" description but simple freedom. I choose what to eat, where to use the bathroom and can do both whenever I want. I ask no one for permission to read and can walk around as little or as much as I like. It saddens me that others cannot say the same. But what can we do a million miles away with little resources to help them ....we can pray, prayer works! God listens and answers prayers and performs miracles daily, these men, women , and children suffering under the FARC are worth a moment of your time ...

and i cannot end this review without a plug for babywearing. there is a point where clara gives birth a jungle style homebirth and ingrid makes a pouch and yes even in the jungle under harsh conditions, babywearing proves convenient and beats out the stroller :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

day 16 the love dare

The last challenge from day 15 was to do something to honor your spouse. I tried to do a few things. I fervently attempted to help him pack for a trip. Im not talking a suitcase or two but a green duffel the size of a couch and a hard box the size of a small fridge. All the goodies had to be labelled and listed and I helped every way i could with a smile :) even helping with lifting mr.giantfridgebox into the beast. I wasn't all that much help but I'm still working on it trying to make it a smooth process. I have not mentioned once how irritating it is that a giant green monster has thrown up all over my living room lol.

I also tried to be a better listener too :)

Day 16

Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers  3 John 2

You cannot change your spouse. A simple statement, and even though most of us know this to be true, occasionally even without intention, we try. For a long time i really wanted a churchgoing hubby. One who would pray with me , do bible study with me and even occasionally miss a Sunday morning football game. No amount of nagging could have produced this , if anything it had the opposite effect. At some point i started leading by example and simply praying to see these changes. I could have never done anything to make this happen but God could and all the sudden I looked around at my husband who had been teaching Sunday school for 3 years, praying, studying , growing, DVRing football games and remembered those prays from years ago. I remembered how I thought they would never ever come true and I realized that God can do anything and only he can change anyone....after all, He is the potter and we are just the clay :)

"A farmer cannot make a seed grow. He cannot argue, manipulate, or demand it to bear fruit. But he can plant it, give it water,soil, nutrients , protection and turn it over to God"

Get the weeds out of your marriage. Selfishness, Bitterness, Anger, Resentment.....Nurture the soil of your spouses heart with kind words and actions. With prayer and praise :)

"Have you ever wondered why God would give you endless insight into all your spouses faults? Do you really think it is for endless nagging? No, its for effective kneeling. No one knows better how to pray for your mate than you do"

Its time to turn our complaints into prayers. You don't have to be a churchgoer or even a believer simply take a quiet moment to pray silently instead of letting your spouse know what flaw you are currently aware of. Prayer doesn't have to be done for hours, or at bedtime, it can be just a second any time of day. Prayer works, give it a shot!

Today's dare

Begin praying for your spouse's heart. Pray for 3 specific areas where you desire God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

we are not weeners, or weaners, but sometimes wieners

When I was a child I love love loved Halloween. I couldn't wait for it, i loved the costumes, the festive 80s sweaters, school parties, and of course the candy! It was really one of my favorite times of year. This might sound funny coming from a mom who has decided not to celebrate Halloween at all, but it is true. It was not an easy choice for me to give up. I decided to put my story into words.......

as a little girl I did a brief stint in a private Christian school (ECS in Memphis Tn). I was only there a few years but those years had a big impact in my life and one of those was Halloween. It was my first encounter with non-celebrators lol. I remember asking my mom why they had a "Harvest Festival" since nobody i knew was harvesting anything but candy corn. I had a few friends there who didn't participate in Halloween. This wasn't a big deal to me, I didn't know why you would pass up free candy but looking back I realize it left me with the knowledge that there are perfectly  nice normal people out there who arent weeners and that is ok.

Fast forward to adulthood. I'm living in Alaska and have made some wonderful friends. One of them is an awesome sister in Christ who is not a weener. She has for great children who really could care less. I totally thought they were missing out. They shared with me some fall traditions they had (cooking soup in a pumpkin, how fun!) and none of them seemed to mind the lack of participation in the cultural norm of Halloween. So later that evening with our husbands deployed, me and my dear friend costume, and bundle our 6 children and I (she was hugely pregnant and stayed in to cook dinner for us) proceed to take them trick or treating in 2ft of snow. We are freezing, we are miserable, there is no fun, only frozen toes.....and I wonder, perhaps if Cathy had the right idea. hmmm

The next year my husband and I decide to just do the church activities instead of a normal Halloween. The kids are happy all was pretty well.....except it was always in my head that we were in fact still celebrating Halloween. There were still scary costumes and everything that went with Halloween, it just happened at church. We explored the history of the holidays (there are multiple histories some good, some bad) and we began to feel convicted that it was not for us, or rather, God did not want us involved. I expected this to really upset the kids, but it didn't. they didn't really seem to care. If you have ever taken candy from a kid you can see that this MUST have been a God thing cause kids don't give up candy without Divine intervention. No Halloween= no problem :)

The next year the Lord blessed us with a pregnancy following a loss. We prayed that this baby would be special, be a child of God, be healthy and serve the Lord. The day I learned I was pregnant I also calculated my due date would be Oct 31. I  knew very well that babies are rarely born on their due date, but something in me wanted this one to be. I had never given birth on my due date. I had never made it that far along yet somehow I knew this baby was coming on Halloween. I really really wanted him to!!! I did every labor trick in the book but ultimately I know that babies come when they are meant to. I wanted him to be born on Halloween because I had this awesome idea that instead of celebrating Halloween or (like the last few years) planning to be out of the house and avoiding it, we would celebrate the birth of a blessing every year. I decided we would have Pike's birthday on Oct 31 and we would use that day to be thankful for our precious 5th born. Well God took me up on that one and Pike was born at 10pm that very night!

That was eleven months ago! wow, it seems like yesterday. Now that the birthday is fast approaching I am plagued with doubt. If I have his party on Halloween will anyone come? will anyone care or will they all be too busy with costumes and candy? it would be so easy to plan it for another day, he wouldn't know and people do that all the time.

After a few days of prayerful thought I remembered asking God to deliver Pike on this special day. I recalled the promise I made to celebrate this gift every year on this day. Do do something better than avoid Halloween, to use this day to bring glory to the Lord..........and so I write it and commit myself to it. Maybe nobody will come , perhaps it will be just us celebrating, but God will know I followed through and I will every year. So if you are not a weener and you are looking for something fun to do just let me know! We will be partying it up for Pike on Halloween his birthday! and we would love for everyone to join us :)

not a weener= don't celebrate Halloween
not a weaner= breastfeed till baby says no thanks
but yes we do enjoy the occasional hot dog and we will play with a dachsund when we see one :)

briargate fun :)

So we had an ipod emergency, which led us to a Briargate Saturday of fun. We intended to pop into the apple store and be in and out fast. Of course that couldnt happen! The kids spotted a giant netflix and had to check it out. While dad was inquiring about an Ipod repair, the kids were inquiring about giant dvd players. Thankfully the apple guys are so fun and totally humored them and even let us take a pic with the giant netflix envelope :) We were going to leave but the kids spotted this fun guy in front of the Halloween store.

The kids were loving the music and having too much fun so we decided to walk the promenade :) The plan was to visit both fountains and then head home.....well we passed Banana, they were having sales even Dave Ramsey himself couldnt pass up, the kids were being great (yes we shopped Banana with 5 kids in tow) the employees were helpful and friendly. We left with great deals for mom and dad (ask about the military discount the first weekend of the month!) nothing in the store broken, and only minimal fingerprints on the jewelry case.

Did you know that all the black benches at Briargate are actually "dancing benches" and each one had to be danced on!

We visited both fountains and quickly realized it is totally fall in Co! We thought about going home but we were just having too much fun! so we headed to Starbucks for some hot chocolate! everybody else did to, the place was packed. Fortunately the people of Colorado Springs are of a most friendly sort and the kids were patient. We had a small spill which a stranger helped out with (thank you :) and we were all warmed up and back on our journey.

We checked out the giant chess game, did a little more dancing, browsed the Brighton store and picked up the good as new Ipod! it was a pretty fun day for doing nothing. Luv me sum Briargate :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

day 15 the love dare

Im so bad, its been over a week since I followed up with my Love Dare post! I have been doing really great tho! The last challenge was to give up something you want to do for something your partner wants to do. I thought that was gonne leave me really kinda mad....but of course, the Love Dare wins and it worked out perfectly. in fact, all the things the Love Dare claims are starting to fall into place. I had circus tickets and really wanted to go on Sat. I anticipated this would be a problem and began preparing my arguments for family fun. Beau was anticipating Mir vs. Crop.....not so family friendly. When I posted the Love Dare, I knew exactly what our dilemma would be. I really wanted to go at night to get the full effect of all the lights etc but I suggested we go during the day so we wouldnt miss UFC 119 (Mir kicked sum butt btw). Beau was thrilled and we had a blast!

backtracking a bit, one of the Love Dares mentioned how important it was that your loved one not have to anticipate your anger/violence/screaming/down right meanness when they knew they messed up, esp over small things. Well Beau messed up, I was really ticked, but i remembered my Love Dare from a few weeks ago. I knew he knew he messed up and was unhappy with himself. I dropped a joke or two about how I hoped it wouldnt happen again and dropped it. There was no fight, no issue and i truly believe he was sorry and thats done. Wow that was much easier than a day of not speaking forward to mon......Beau discovered not one but 3 baby carriers on the way, plus a few things from Vicki's. He was none to happy and told me so, pouted a bit then dropped it. I was sorry, wont do it again....and then it dawned on me, this was not how that situation typically plays out for us, yet he pretty much just treated me with respect like i did him. You know, like an adult that can make mistakes, admit them, and move on , no scolding necessary! mind you the man still has no clue im doing the Love Dare sooo points scored all around!!!! woo hooo its WORKING

Day 15 Love is Honorable

Live with your wives in an understanding way...and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life. 1 Peter 3:7

The Bible tells us to honor our father and mother but we are also called to honor our mate. This means giving them our attention , not from behind a newspaper or computer screen. To go even further we can use the word "Holy". Small words pack a big punch. This does not mean your mate is perfect, but it does mean "set apart for a higher purpose...not common but special and unique. For something to be Holy to you it must have a special place in your heart. You share with this person like no other, both physically and emotionally.

"marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure" Hebrews 13:4

But even when you are honoring your "Holy" spouse and you dont feel reciprocated.....keep at it. This is the main focus of the Love Dare. That unconditional love that persists even when it doesnt feel loved back, even when its not appreciated or goes unnoticed. Keep those vows and commitments to one another and your spouse will follow your lead....eventually (remember its WORKING)

Todays dare......Show honor and respect to your spouse today above your normal routine. Hold the door open, put away his clothes, listen a little more, show your mate that he/she is Holy in your eyes.

linking my friend Darcel's blog because it fits perfect today

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

circus issues

I have circus issues! true statement :) my house is often like a circus so you'd think id be comfy there. I remember going to the circus as a child. I have a picture of my Dad in Raybans and his Member's only jacket and me and my mom eating popcorn or some other snack. I remember being so jealous of trapeze girls and wanting to ride the elephants. It was glam, it was exciting, and super fun :)

fast forward to my adult years, i have 3 kids and we are headed to the circus in Alaska with some friends. At first it seemed great and the kids were loving it. Then the unhappy things came....a little person stabbing at a poor elephant with too many kids on his back....12year old girls wearing thongs costumes.....a man shot out of a cannon who clearly wasn't happy/confident/perhaps even unwilling? and last but not least you could get your picture made with a tiger for ten bucks. on the surface it seemed ok but really? i don't think so, unsafe, inappropriate, and inhumane to say the least. Throw in my visions of circus elephants trampling innocent onlookers and i decided the circus was not for me and never looked back......

until a month ago...I scored some discount circus tickets and my brain started whirling. I knew I had moral issues with the circus and had vowed NO MORE...but the kids were so young then (some unborn) and they didnt have a clue why we had never been to the circus. I wanted them to share the joy I had as a child watching the acts and viewing the animals. I did not want to deny them the fun that could be had and so I let it slip. For those who know me well you know that was hard. i have a rule...never tell children where you are going or what you are doing that way if something happens (headache, mommy meltdown, flat tire) they aren't disappointed. This has saved millions of tantrums however this time I broke my rule. I knew if i told them I was committed. And so we went..........
trying out our new Zara wrap :)

There was a train

a camel with amazing dental hygiene

but here is where I got worried. No, it wasnt the camel that worried me. I figured if someone was caring enough to brush this camel's teeth then he was probably well cared for.He got grump right after Paxton rode him (paxton was gassy that day lol) and the man told all the kids no more rides, i was proud of him for looking out for everyones safety and paying attention to the animal.  He was clean and his caregiver pet him and had no spikes, but look in the background....on the trailer....tiny bikes. My mom alert went up. Children that tiny were working at the circus? Not OK. hmmmm

there were elephants too. Piper said no thanks but Pearce and Parker were all about it! Again I checked out the animals and from what I could see I was pleased. They had recent pedicures. We were fortunate the last time we went to the zoo a zoo keeper grabbed us and let us watch her do them , so i could tell these big guys had a recent visit to the salon too :) again one of the animals seemed to not want kids on her back and the caregivers took her to grab a bite to eat. The kids had a blast and the circus hadnt even started.

I couldn't get any pics of the circus to come out well but the kids really loved it. The owners of those tiny bikes simply wore cute appropriate costumes and walked in a parade at the end. There was even a dog show featuring some rescue pups. There were all the typical circus acts and the kids were enamored. We found out Pike has a love/hate relationship with all live animals. Every single kid had a great time, which is unusual....typically somebody doesnt like something about anything we do. There were 2 snowcone disasters (one lost in the stands, one ruined a brand new outfit) but both were gotten over quickly and the fun resumed.

so i guess I'm over my circus anything else, there are good circuses and bad circuses and it made for a truly exciting day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

day 14 the love dare

So Ive been dawdling about getting to day 14. I completed day 13 a few days ago (done before i posted it) but Beau began training late every night and having to leave early each a.m. so I was barely getting to speak to him much less work on the Love Dare. I also picked up a new Bible study with a group of ladies from my church and Im finding it hard to juggle two. I decided today to persevere even through Beaus absence etc. Ill text the Love Dare if I have to :)

Day 13 was to discuss the rules you chose for your relationship. If you have no interest in the Love Dare, still do it! it is sooo important and changed our marriage for the better, years ago!

Day 14

Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life  ....Ecclesiastes 9:9

Well there you have it, the Bible commands us to enjoy life together. If you love your partner but arent currently enjoying life with them, its time to change that. Take a class, pray about it, put more effort in, take a vacation, do something, anything to bring joy back into the relationship because enjoying their presence is so important for a healthy marriage. Who wants to be married forever to someone they have no interest in? :(

This chapter is about taking delight in your partner. We first visit the newlyweds. Things are fun and fresh and have just begun, romance is in the air along with hope for the future. New love is an amazing gift from above, but few people have decided to love another, in those early stages. Making that decision to love another person, regardless of all, as Christ love us, that decision to be unconditionally bonded with this person forever, is almost bigger than that wedding day....well it is, its just too bad we dont celebrate it. If you are fortunate enough to make that decision on your wedding day, Amen, what a blessing. Many of us dont truly come to understand the meaning of love and commitment until afterwards. The really lucky ones (like me :) figure it out before it is too late. Those marriages survive. Statistics would show that about half of us are  not so lucky :( People divorce because one or both people never decided to love the other, resulting in behaviors, words, actions, habits that led to divorce.

"You get to choose what to treasure". soooo, you can choose to treasure your career, your home, your flatscreen tv the largest on the block, or yes even your prized stash of baby carriers.....or you can choose to treasure you spouse! Think of them as lovingly as you do that chrome artisan Kitchen Aid mixer :)

"its time to remember why you once fell in love" "flirt again, dream again, delight"

"for some today's dare may be a small step away, to others a giant leap from disgust" wowza, sadly i know a few friends who are in that place. I hope they can pull out of it because disgust is no fun. Nobody wants to be disgusting or disgusted bleh!!!

Dare of the day: purposefully neglect an activity you would normally spend time on and give that time to your spouse.

Friday, September 17, 2010

the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of homeschool

Every single time i meet a new person (one who doesn't homeschool themselves) or reconnect with someone from the past one of the first things that stumps them about my adult life is the homeschool part. I get a variety of questions, opinions, suggestions and lets face it.....the occasional not so nice comment. I met a mom today who was told by her mil that if she homeschooled her daughter a slew of bad things would happen resulting in a daughter who was less than intelligent. I shared with her our story, encouraged her to go forward with her plan ( a great one) and thought maybe id put it all out there.........

Who? This is an easy one. I have five children, many people assume I homeschool five children. Id love for that to be the case. I made a post that detailed my day from sun up to sundown and if you read that you will agree with me. I do not have time to technically homeschool 5. My homeschoolers are Parker 11, 7th grade, Paxton 6, 1st grade, and Piper 5, K. I wish I had time to present a formal preschool program to Pearce or teach sign language to the baby , but right now notsomuch. I assure you tho, they are both learning We roll as a group, so Pearce is absorbing the K and 1st grade lessons as much as possible and we never discourage him from participating.

What? This is a big one. I get this one from homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike. What do you teach, what programs do you use, what do you do all day????? In general there are two schools of thought in the homeschool world (these are divided into many many subgroups) but #1 is the creation of school at home with books and many similar materials to the normal classroom. #2 Kids learn from the world with little assistance and you simply foster what they show an interest in with less emphasis on a classroom environment in the home. My style falls somewhere in the middle. Each state has requirements so one of the first things I do when I move is check out and find out what mine are. I teach the subjects they require , many families don't and I've never heard of anybody getting in trouble for not! Its no biggie, i just fig i gotta teach something right> :) I make me a little chart for each kid so i can try to teach an even amount in each area, otherwise, id only focus on my favorites and my kids would never learn science or math lol. Somedays we use curriculum books (a mix of K12, abeka, apologia, drugstore wkbks) sometimes we watch a DVD (praise the Lord for netflix) sometimes we read a book, we may go on a walk through the woods, check out a bug, visit some ruins, or simply go to the post office (we had a great lesson there today on African American baseball players) learning is everywhere.

Where? Another easy question. Around the Kitchen Table of course :) but seriously , yes, we school at the table. Many people set up a workspace for one or all of their children. I think this is a great option esp with older kids or if you are schooling one child, but for our group we do it together. That is our base. Parker does retreat to his room to study if it gets too loud but the rest to all their work at the table. However...........Everywhere is a classroom and that is the key to my homeschool success. We go to the grocery store and learn the difference in the milks, the mushrooms, what shrimp really look like. We had an awesome lesson at the post office on African American ball players (they have their own stamp collection) followed by an awesome discussion with the older kiddo on why they are special. We stop and ask questions as the zoo, not just walk by. We explore the woods, discuss planes that fly over, compare breeds of dogs walking by. We love fieldtrips, planned or impromptu and I find something for them to learn everywhere.

When? Well the state of Colorado says 4hrs a day. Trust me, homeschooling 3 kids is alot of work, but it never takes 4 hours a day. Maybe added all up here and there but i doubt it. Parker can finish all subjects in 3hrs or less. Paxton and Piper typically total 1.5 hrs each when we have been at home all day and done all the curriculum work they have. We do homeschool 5 days a week , off on weekends and the summer. I'm mean and Ill go ahead and admit that when school kids are off, Kempe academy is still in session. No inservice/conference days here. No snow days and yes if you want a sick day, you best be really sick. This may sound like not enough school to someone in public school but think about it, we don't have to wait for a class of kids to ask questions, no raising hands, no bathroom breaks, no bad kid in the back disrupting everything (ok sometimes that is Pearce) no show off spouting all the facts (yeah yeah we do have a Paxton) but in general there are alot less interruptions etc.

Why? This is a great question. If you intend to homeschool you will want to formulate your own answer before you spill your big secret to the lady next door. If you already homeschool you know exactly what I mean!!!!! everybody asks this! I can only answer for myself. Our story is ...Parker was super smart, our public school really wasn't prepared to deal with that. Their solution was for him to bring extra books to class to read and one day a week for an hour or so, go to the advanced class for fun projects. I sought out a different way and I hope that anyone with a child in school who has this prob or any other prob making school not work well for their kiddo, can consider homeschooling an option. That was my original reason but once we started i found lots of benefits that grew into reasons. I found homeschooling was the only way to make God more important than math or reading. Those are great but God is it for us! and one hour a week in Sunday school wasn't cutting it. This way we spend as much time learning about Him as we do anything else, and find his presence in all we learn. I also found our family functions as a unit better this way. We are never anticipating a break from a particular child (we are always together) and none of my children live 8hrs a day away from me. Kids at school sort of have a life unknown to the family at home (i know i did) and with hschool this doesn't happen. We also do it because i love the kids learning at their own pace. For Parker that is super fast, for Piper that takes a little more time but both is ok. At school Parker would be waiting while the teacher gave more help to Piper, but here he can go on while she and I work more on what she needs. Nobody fails, we teach until it is learned and we all get As!

How? How do you do it? i get asked that all the time. I cannot do it without support. I hschooled for the first few years with permission but not support and I can tell you it makes a world of difference. My husband believes in what we do and when things get tough he can remind me why we do it and express appreciation. I have to have friends that homeschool too. I have them online and irl. they help me choose books and curriculum, find cool field trips and talk me out of throwing them onto the school bus that stopped at the end of the street when there has been a bad day. homeschooling can feel isolated when you don't have a great homeschool group, but if you cant find one, hschool friends are a must. They let you know you aren't the only crazy person who has chosen this lifestyle and your kids aren't the only ones bringing snakes to the lunch table to ask if they are poisonous! :) I also have a great God loving me all the time and that never hurts!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 13 the love dare

Day 11=== Love Dare fail!!!!!!!! Ive been doing good so far, but alas, everyone fails every once in awhile. days like this im glad Beau is still in the dark about the dare. I was supposed to give in to an area of disagreement. Well at first that was hard because we didnt really have one going on atm....but then it got harder. I hate to sit in on the weekends, i want to be out and about making fun blogposts memories with the family. Beau was ready for a which i replied, the kids need to get out, i need to get out, we don't do alot of exciting things during the week and it is our responsibility to do so on the weekends, we need to help Piper on her two wheeled bike, Pearce loves the park, YOU are being selfish, and so, i retreated to my Kindle. As you can see, yes i suppose he got his way, but I'm certain this was not the way the dare intended :(

But God is Good! Amen, I am forgiven, it is a new day, a new dare and its time to move on. Beau is over it (I'm fortunate to have a hubby who forgives and forgets fast). I have to work hard to follow in his footsteps.

and soo I proceed...........

day 13

If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand- Mark 3:25

For many of us, this mostly relates to child-rearing. I am fortunate that somewhere, some anonymous so and so gave Beau and I a good piece of advice when it came to parenting. PRESENT A UNIFIED FRONT! This advice bodes well for war as well :) recall the phrase, divide and conquer? it works. So while Beau and I do not always agree on parenting (im still pushing the whole mom bathes girls/dad bathes boys theory to no avail) we do not let them know..ever. We discuss in private and so far we have few disagreements when it comes to parenting. I got a head start at learning from parenting mistakes so in general Beau defaults to my advice........but he does have a bit more experience at being male and I try to remember that as well :)

All tiffs wont be about parenting tho. Unfortunately weathering the storm is a part of life, and a key part of partnership. It tests us and reveals what we are truly made of. The largest wounds to a marriage are done in the heat of the battle, when tempers are hot. The key to preventing permanent battle scars is not to prevent the argument, but to fight fair in love. This starts with setting boundaries and rules. The book suggests a few.

1. Never mention divorce ( we have evoked that one)
2. Never bring up the past (easier said than done)
3. Never fight in public or in front of kids (we have that one but occasionally slip)
4. Never touch one another in a harmful way (not an issue for us but an important rule nonetheless)
5. Never go to bed angry (yeah yeah yeah)

we have another one 6. no name calling or cursing..........changed everything for us, arguments end alot faster!

"fighting fair means changing your weapons". throw out the sharp tongue and harmful words. pick up clear explanations of feelings, a calm attitude, and research if need be :)

todays dare : talk to your partner about your rules. if your mate isn't ready for this, decide on the rules that will apply to you during your next argument.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

5 Ps in my pod

My dear friend Beth requested a brief bio of my little kid collection. I thought that was a great idea! so here goes....lets hope my memory serves me well :)

Parker 11, 7th grade

Some of you may know, maybe some don't, but my mom journey began a little to early. I was blessed with a pregnancy at the young age of 16. I say blessed because it halted a life destined for lots of parties followed by lots of bad choices. His birth brought back a closeness amongst my family and gave my father a chance to be a grandparent for a short time before he passed away. I am not ashamed to have been a teen mom, im forgiven, its part of my testimony and I have embraced it. all that said, it was not an easy road. To have a child at 16 is not the easy choice. If you've seen the MTV show Teen mom, know that it is by far a very real reality show. I was blessed with support , sometimes too much, but even so, teen parenting isnt easy. Thankfully it all worked out and I have a wonderful, intelligent, sweet son :)

Parker was a high maintenance baby!!! however, many many first babies are. I equate this to user error! Like anything, the first time you do it, you have no clue what you are doing. He was up all night (duh, thats what babies do) He cried alot (because i expected him to hang out in bouncers, swings, playpens etc and be content with toys). He hated to get dressed, was a picky eater, wouldn't give up the bottle, he was a kid. Mentally I labelled him high maintenance, but i know i could parent that same baby now and he would be a joy.

Parker started K eventually and it was not a fun time. He was bored, he complained, he voiced he was too smart for his class, told the teacher her work was boring, coloring was for babies etc etc. This continued on through first grade, we did the advanced class thing and quickly parker realised it was fun but essentially he was pulled out of class and expected to make up the work he missed. He found this punishment for being smart and the day his teacher suggested I should provide books for him to read during school hours to keep him busy, i pulled him out and we began our homeschool journey. I'm spoiled, he has always been easy to teach, he finished 3rd grade in one semester and so we skipped him. He tested appropriately and has been super smart ever since. he sports beiberiffic hair, shoes with wheels and an ipod touch. He is just a normal amazing kid and I'm so glad he is mine :)

Paxton 6, 1st grade

Paxton was conceived four months into my marriage to Beau. I was thrilled, Beau was thrilled and a bit overwhelmed....well, i guess i was too. This time i would be doing it without all my family (we moved to La). This time i knew a little more about motherhood and parenting. Once he was born, I instantly compared him to Parker, naturally. I labelled him an easy baby. He breastfed better because i didn't let him have a bottle for a few weeks and did not supplement with formula from the get go , a mistake i made with parker but had no clue :( . He slept better because he was breastfeeding, and  I would fall asleep nursing him, he would fall asleep in bed with me. I was cosleeping (had no clue what this was) which scared beau but there really was no avoiding it. I was better at swaddling, so he was easier to comfort. I toted him everywhere, even got my first carrier (Bjorn) and he was a pretty happy kid.

He was born at Fort Polk Louisiana (the arm pit of the army) but we quickly moved to alaska a few weeks after his birth. he screamed the whole way up the Al-Can but we made it and there he grew. He loves learning and playing golf. He eats everything. We have always offered everything and dont do special meals. He eats what he wants, leaves what he wants and we take the same approach with his schooling. I let him keep working and working as long as he wants, but when he doesnt want to do it anymore thats fine with me. so far so good, he loves school and i want to keep it that way. He is our most dramatic, gets stressed over anything! but also our most loving and cares so much about others. a great P to have in the pod for sure :)

Piper 5, K

Paxton's birth was literally a near death experience, no lie! So I was done having babies. I laid in my hospital bed with that newborn bliss, my husband right beside me, and felt like life was perfect, i had my two boys, we were done. Id love to have a girl but really didn't want to go through that again and found motherhood exhausting. About the time Paxton was 8mos old, God had a better plan. I went to get my annual, get some bc and oops, it was too late. Piper was on the way. I was not ready, i was sad/overwhelmed/depressed. I didn't know if I could love a child as much as I loved my two boys. My husband was set to deploy a few weeks after my due date and there was no way I could care for three kids! by myself! in Alaska!

I got over it! I got a midwife, I set out to have a better birth experience. I was not eligible for the epidural (what caused the whole almost dying prob with pax). I did get drugs, and though her birth position called for a c-section, my midwife helped me deliver my biggest baby yet, a beautiful 8lb baby girl.....well, if I'm honest...she wasnt so beautiful at first. That whole birth position thing had her covered in bruises and her nose was completely crooked. She sported spikey black hair and looked like she had been living in a tanning bed for nine months lol (neither would have been a prob except id previously delivered blue eyed blondes, was one myself, had mated with one, so she was a surprise). But she quickly became a beauty inside and out. She still sports a year round tan :) and traded the black spikes for a honey blonde (just when i decided i loved her dark hair and wanted a red, a blonde, and a dark haired child, i just thought it was too cute).

She had some nursing probs the first couple of weeks but ended up a champ! She slowed in the growth department and became a teeny petite thing. When compared to her brothers, she was an even easier baby!!! I didn't think it was possible. She slept all the time, she stayed swaddled for 6 months like a tiny burrito! She co slept - still no clue what that was but my hubby was gone, she was warm and snuggly and with had an amazing ability to nurse without even waking me! the only prob was that meant she nursed all night, from the same side. I always woke engorged!!! well worth it :)

She is now 5 years old and is the best gift we ever gave paxton. She plans to marry him but he swears he will punch her if she does it. They will never admit their best friend status, but i will say she has her own pink princess room yet he forces her to sleep in his room almost every night! She is always willing to share (often taken advantage of) She is almost always kind and wears her heart on her sleeve. Her feelings get hurt easily and rarely has to be disciplined. She loves gymnastics and likes school ok. She is our precious angel and I'm soo thankful for God's better plan!

Pearce 2

Pearce is our one and only planned child! out of 5! He was a deployment baby and is a little more than 2 years younger than piper (perfect separation imo). Finally I knew what I was doing! I knew how i wanted my pregnancy and birth to go. I knew how to take care of him so there was no anxiety there. I knew now that i would co-sleep :) and discovered better babywearing options when Piper was a toddler so I had my carrier stash growing and had my first didymos woven wrap awaiting his arrival (black elipsen).

Well the pregnancy went as planned, i stayed pretty small, did alot less prenatal care than before, ate super healthy, The Organic Pregnancy was in and What to Expect When Expecting was out :) but thats where my plans ended. I couldn't have a midwife for the birth because we moved to a small town and there werent any :( but i did have a doc who let me do whatever I wanted (not a great choice for new moms but remember, i finally knew what i was doing lol ). I stayed at home contracting for hours and when i was certain i must be 9cm i walked my teeny non maternity jean wearing butt (the one and only time so i had to brag) to the hospital feeling and looking great. My fave nurse Kacee shot me down real fast, i was 3cm and apparently had no clue what i was doing haaaaa. This doc would let me have that infamous epidural, i didn't want it , but caved pretty quickly then proceeded to have an amazing birth. I had my pretty pink dress ready, my new pink diaper bag, even pink bedding. I was prepared for my second girl, confirmed by u/s and intelligender urine test..............only prob........she came out with a penis!!! we had no name, no clothes, nothing. The nurses chose the name Pearce, my friends Andrea and Jennifer brought me some clothing, and so it was. Our third boy!

Id learned a few tricks by now. I did EC (elimination communication) with pearce, supplementing with cloth diapers. I wrapped him mostly with a few other carriers here and there. I intentionally co slept for the first time, he was my first kid to never have a bottle. He was a great baby. He didn't sleep as well as piper but one of those tricks Id learned was that my expectations of a baby can dictate the mood and attitude of the whole new baby experience. The day I became pregnant, i accepted that there would be many sleepless nights and i was ok with that. Ive learned to enjoy late night tv, bought a book light, and so when it happened that didnt make him a bad was simply par for the course. Sleep was a luxury much appreciated, never expected and certainly far from entitled to.

My great late night lovin baby quickly became a wild toddler. The EC worked great and he was potty independent by 18mos. You will clean more bathrooms with a pottying child so young, but soo worth it (because by this time i had lost a baby while on bc, and shortly after conceived our latest blessing while employing the "in Gods hands" technique). There were more diapers to come and i knew well that i didnt want two in dipes again!

Pearce is by far the most energetic. He has created more disasters, destroyed property, injured himself....he is exhausting. He is in gymnastics which is perfect for him! he never naps, is up at 6am, he is wild...but soo much fun. He says the funniest things, does the funniest things, and truly entertains the whole family. He requires alot of work but there is a big payoff and I enjoy each day with my little man!

Pike 10mos

Pike is our Halloween bean! I decided he would be born on Halloween the day i calculated my due date. ( i chose the bday for every kid but piper). I was quite busy with all the other kiddos during his pg (pearce is a full time job) so I wasn't quite as healthy, however I did get the best birth ever! I really wanted a homebirth, but dad wasn't too thrilled and our ins would not cover it. I hoped to have an "accidental" homebirth but when the day came the hubby and mil were pushing me out the door. Prob a good thing because i barely made it to the hospital. Pike was born as soon as we arrived. He was my largest baby 8.6. No drugs, no ivs , not time for any of that. It was amazing! He nursed like a champ from day one, was cloth diapered, breastfed, co slept and wrapped (in an ever growing stash of carriers his first being a didymos silk indio).

Pike is now crawling and standing and working on taking his first steps. He has a couple of teeth and can only say DaDa and Parker. He loves playing with his siblings most of all. He is our snuggliest kiddo so far and still somehow maintains his newborn squishiness. I'm loving it, totally limp as soon as he hits mamas arms :) I know five is alot, but I'm lovin what i got!

to answer a couple more of Beth's questions......

What did u do differently/similar?  well they all coslept, whether that was the intention or not. Ive breast fed each one longer and longer. babyworn piper as a toddler, but mostly the last two...alot. cloth diapered the last two but id do anything to have started with the first.

who was high needs? we have been so blessed to have no medical issues making a child truly high needs. I thought Parker was high needs, but really i know now it was I who was high needs ( i call this first time mom disease) they were all just babies with different ranges of normal but id say none were truly high needs.

have u practiced attachment parenting with all of them? well obviously no. I didnt even know what that was until i was on my third. to tell the truth, I'm not a/p. Im 90% i cosleep, babywear, nurse, believe in bonding and almost always have all of my kids with me. We do everything as a family and started this with Paxton. We don't believe in "i cant do it with a baby" and the parent child bond is one of Gods greatest gifts........however, i have to out myself as a spanker. We don't spank often, it is reserved for a really bad offense ( blatant lying, stealing etc) but we do use it as a parenting tool (except for piper, she hasn't really needed one) thus excluding me from the a/p label. I hang with an a/p crowd and in general that is the perspective i support, but I'm really just a wannabe. Aside from the spanking id say i was only really a/p with the last two intentionally.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

whatcha collecting?

Everyone collects something right? I have a few things I love to hoard collect. My favorites are , of course, my baby carriers :) but I also collect Radko ornaments (currently only sitting on the top 2ft of the tree for obvious reasons). Last but far far from least is my cross collection. It has moved with us from house to house, at times featured in a prominent spot, other times tucked away in the hall, it always goes up on the wall it just depends on the house where we have room for it. It grows and changes with our life experiences. We pick up new ones on our travels and have been given many from wonderful friends and family.

here is the newbie of the bunch , a gorgeous handwoven wheat cross given to us by our favorite family the Vandewegs, handmade by Eric's mom :)

I think this is my favorite. Beau and I went on a minivacation to Tubac. a cute little AZ town full of shops packed with antiques and breakables, we survived with 4 kids in tow and managed not to break anything and score this goody in the process!

a great one I picked up in Old Town San Diego, one of my favorite places!

this is our most travelled cross. Beau scored it in Jordan after visiting the Holy Land and watching the locals working on some amazing works in progress. He quickly fell in love with their mosaic art and all the work it took, so he had to bring a bit home :)

Each cross has a story, and thats the best part. I remember where we got most of them and the stories behind them. They are a beautiful way to decorate our home and let visitors know exactly where we stand :) although the initial question is "Are you Catholic" (nope we are protestant). so now the question is, What do you collect?

Monday, September 6, 2010

day 12 the love dare

pg with pearce at one of beau's graduations

day 11 went great! Beau still has no clue about the dare but really i say it went great cause it only took me a couple of hours to finish my dare. Lately its been taking a few days so i was excited. I knew exactly what he would need after a long day of playground building (a back message). He was thrilled, I never offer backrubs....ever. My teeny hands just get tired/bored after 5min and I never seem to get one in return so i gave up years ago. I must say it feels great to do it with no hope/expectation, much like our love is intended to be, it was a decision making it a bit more fun. I have to admit part of the fun is that I'm keeping it a secret. One day Ill spill the beans but the right day just hasnt popped up and so far my lips are sealed!

day 12 Love lets the other win :)

Do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others=== Philippians 2:4

When I think about these, atleast initially it seems easy. Im not competitive, typically if you try and compete with me I will back out of the competition as soon as I realize there is one. Id say that stems from the fact that a. I dont like to lose and b. I loathe the anxiety of any competitive relationship.  Either through natural reaction (aka God's help) or a conscious change in my behavior aimed at a change in the relationship, I can say happily that I have very few relationships that are of a competitive nature. Certainly (fantasy football excluded) we dont have much competition within our marriage. I know some love it, need it, whatever, but for me competition=stress.............of course, that is not the only time Love lets the other win :)

You know those times when you are being stubborn? Stubborn is great btw , when you are talking about your beliefs,principals,values and morals......not so much when we are talking what shoes you will wear to church, paint colors, or whether to get a swingset or a trampoline. Digging your heels in on something unimportant is just a way to hurt your partner.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus -Philippians 2:5

In other words, remember those rubber band WWJD bracelets from the nineties? When hanging out with the hubby, put on your imaginary bracelet. Will the marriage be  permanently changed if you have steak instead of chicken? nope, but will it be changed if you accidently hurt feelings in the process of deciding? maybe, and is it worth it? def not! I'm certain Jesus wouldnt fight with the disciples over what weekend activities they would participate in.

"The wise and loving thing to do is to start approaching your disagreements with a willingness to not always insist on your way"

Your differences make your relationship better and more interesting as long as they arent used to hurt one another. Sometimes you will get your way, only if you are willing to sometimes not.

today's dare

Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area you are disagreeing on, tell them you are putting their preference first.