Monday, September 15, 2014

Every Human Being in My House is Finally Potty Trained!


Cue the Angel Chorus!!!!

HALLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH!

I wasn't sure it was going to happen.  I'm sure most parents feel the same way.  When you're knee deep in the doo, it seems like it will never end.

And when your boys are quickly approaching the age of 4 and they still haven't figured it out, you start to panic.

But all of a sudden it just started to click!  For all 4 for my littles.

JoJo was the first to figure it out.  He's a clever little peanut!

Then Louise!  I think for Louise, it was all about style.  She knew that all the hip 3 year old's were wearing princess underpants and she did not want to a get a reputation as someone who is behind the fashion curve. She does change her clothes at least 3 times a day!

Next was Manny.  He was our toughest.  He totally got potty training.  He knew where the pee was supposed to go.  But Manny also tends to have one big giant meltdown per day.  And when the meltdown comes it includes tears, sweat, screams, and...pee.  There is nothing like a great big wet your pants meltdown to cause Mama and Daddy's blood pressure to rise.  But over the summer Manny has grown up a bit.  The meltdowns are way less frequent and so are the accidents.  And my blood pressure it down :)

Finally, Katriel.  She still is just 2 years old, but apparently she didn't want to be left in the dust.  And she certainly didn't want to miss out on the princess panties.

I feel that I can make this very important official announcement about the state of our potty trained-ness because it's not just during the day.  We are pull-up free during naps and bedtime, too. WHOOOOHOOO!


I also want to point out that we never really did any actual training in relation to the potty.  This wasn't a marathon, our kids are not athletes.  I know some people swear by those "potty trained in a day"systems, but I personally think that they are really parent training techniques and as I'm sure my husband will tell you, I'm not easily trained.  With six kids going six different directions, we needed them to achieve potty autonomy. We could not be held to a schedule of taking our kids to use the loo every 30 minutes.  We would never get to leave that one tiny room.  So we just banked on the fact that most kids figure it out at some point and tried not to stress about it much.

And low and behold, they did figure it out!

Unfortunately, this means that I don't really have any more babies in the house.  At least not any human babies.  And that makes me a little bit sad.

Now if only we could get our 4 legged babies to figure it out, too :(


Friday, September 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Boo



A big, giant, enormous happy fourth birthday to my sweet little Manny Boo Bear!


Manny turned  4 last week and thank goodness he's only four or he might have realized that he had the most anti-climactic birthday "party" in the history of parties.  Brian was sick in bed with strep throat all day and all night, so Manny's birthday consisted of drive thru from McDonald's, a lack luster grocery store cake, and some kinda shoved in a gift bag wrapped presents.  Brian got up just long enough help me light the candles and sing Happy Birthday and then he headed back to bed.



So my darling youngest baby boy continues to grow like a weed.  He is in the 85th percentile in both height and weight.  He is getting tall and slender and he has finally grown out of his baby fluffiness and awkwardness.  But he still eats like he has a hollow leg!

A lot of things have changed about Manny's personality this year. He is a lot more joyful and a lot less emotional.  He has turned that corner from toddler to kid. He is funny and playful and intelligent. He still loves to drum, but he also loves to read and play with his Leapfrog.  Over this summer he has turned into a world class swimmer.



This year Manny and JoJo are doing pre-k together at a lovely little church school.  We weren't sure how he would take to it, and mornings are a little tough, but in general he seems to really like school.


Manny's favorite person is Haven.  He loves to do whatever Haven is doing!  He also has a soft spot for his baby sister, Kat.


His favorite color is blue!  OK, its more than a favorite, it a crazy obsession.  Nobody else had better try and drink out of Manny's blue cup at dinner!!!


This little man has been a tough nut to crack. He still is not my most cuddly kid.  He a really hard start in life.  But he always wants to say a prayer and give me a big wet kiss at bedtime.  Melts. My. Heart!!!

Happy Birthday, Immanuel.  You're a special little angel to your mama!




Monday, August 25, 2014

School Daze: 10 Reasons Why We Are A Homeschooling Family

Last Monday was my first day back to work.  Boo.

I got up early and went off to my week of teaching training and preparation.

Manny and JoJo got up and went off to pre-k at a church school.

Kat and Louise got up and got ready for their day at home with Daddy.

And Grace and Haven......rolled out of bed into their classroom.

After spending all summer planning on sending Grace and Haven to 2nd and Kindergarten at our local public school, we just couldn't do it. We had been feeling a lot of pressure to go public, to do school like other people do, to stop "over-protecting" and "coddling" our kids (and let me assure you that is not what this is about).  But on the night before registration I sat filling out forms, and release statements, and lots of really intrusive questions, and I felt worse and worse.  So Brian and I mulled it over some more and then we mulled it over with Grace and Haven and we all decided that we are a homeschooling family.  Maybe not always, maybe not next year, maybe not every one of our kids, but for right now homeschooling is absolutely the right choice for us.  And here is why:












10 Reasons Why We Are a Homeschooling Family

  1. We Love Our Kids--and we really like them, too!--  I know, lots of people like their kids, but we really like them. We waited a long time for them, it took a lot to get them home, and we like to hang out with them, a lot.  That is not to say that they don't drive us crazy very often sometimes. In a traditional school setting our kids would be spending more of their waking our away from us than with us.  Not cool.  
  2. We Want to Be the Biggest Influence in our Children's Lives--no, we are not right wing, religious wacko isolationists.  We live in a big city with lots of other people and we leave our house a lot. But there are many negative influences in public schools that I am not ready to unleash on my kids.  I don't want my kids to be caught up in consumerism.  I don't want them to worry about wearing the right brand of clothes. I don't want them to hear foul language. I don't want them to learn about smoking, or drug use, or sexual behaviors, from their peers.  I want to share adult things with them when they are old enough to handle them.  And I am fairly certain I won't find Grace selling drugs to Haven out behind the school house.
  3. Our Children Like to Be at Home and They Like to Be Together--my kids are a tight knit little group of people.  Especially Grace and Haven.  They are BEST BEST FRIENDS.  And I love this.  And I hope it never, never changes.  They do have other friends. Friends at church, friends in the neighborhood, friends from playgroups. They all play well with other children.  None of them are aggressive or pushy or obnoxious with other kids.  But when given a choice, they choose their brothers and sisters over anybody else. I LOVE this about them!
  4. We Can Live Life and Teach On Our Schedule--If we stayed up late watching a movie together and we want to sleep in, its OK.  If someone gets sick (or 8 someones, as often happens) and we need to spend a day on the couch, its OK. If Brian wants to load them all in the van and take a field trip, its OK. We can spend time together as a family around my work schedule, not their school schedule.  We can do 4-day a week school or year round school.  We can change directions in curriculum in the middle of the year.  We can spend as much or as little time as our kids want on any subject they want to learn more about.
  5. We Saved Hundreds of Dollars On School Supplies and Clothing--HOLY Smokes, school supply lists are insane and expensive.  I was sort of freaked out when I saw just how much I was going to spend just for Grace and Haven.  When you add in the new backpack, lunch bag, sensible shoes, new clothes, etc. EEK!  Then all the t-shirts, and fundraisers. If you project into our future and multiply by six, it just might break the bank! Instead, we just had to buy a new box of colored pencils and we are pretty much good to go :)
  6. We Want to Give Our Kids Time to Be Kids--we want them to run, and play, and play and run, and sing and dance, and read what they want, and say what they want, and not be trapped in a tiny room in an uncomfortable desk with too many other people in the room.  We also don't want our kids to be tested to death or home-worked to death. Their bodies are not ready to sit still.  Their minds are not ready to be restricted by standardized tests.
  7. Our Kids are Different Than Your Kids--And yes, every kid is different, but ours have a few very obvious differences and we don't ever want the beautiful, extraordinary, diversity of our family to be something that holds our kids back or gives them any reason to doubt how wonderful they are. With all that has been in the news the last few weeks about how hard it is to be a black man in our country I especially don't want my kids to have to face that kind of ugliness too soon.  The idea that Haven would be labeled, singled out, or in any way treated as less wonderful than the white boy sitting next to him just kills me.  It may be inevitable, it may happen someday, but it doesn't have to happen when he is 5 years old.
  8. Our Kids Will Be Safer and Healthier At Home--Safer psychologically and also, safer physically. We can feed them healthier foods and provide them more opportunities for exercise. And we can nourish their hearts and souls in ways that no classroom teacher can. When I asked Grace last night to give me one reason she was happy to be homeschooling she said that she doesn't like to be rooms with big crowds of people.  It takes her out of her safety zone. Our homeschooling environment gives her a sense of security that lets her thrive and learn.
  9. Our Kids Are Learning Lots of Things That Other Kids Don't Know--Grace already knows how to use a sewing machine.  Haven and Grace are both learning to cook.  Our kids are teaming up with another homeschooling family to do science labs twice a week.  Grace can tell you more than you probably want to know about your intestines or Venus fly traps.  Our kids are free to explore what gets them excited!
  10. Because We Can--Brian and I are both certified teachers.  We can do this.  We've done it for 34 years collectively for hundreds of other people's kids.  We are thrilled to now be able to do it for our own.
There are lots more than 10 reasons why we've chosen to home school and our reasons are constantly changing and growing.  For right now, it just feels right to our kids and right to us.  

They probably wouldn't let Haven wear this to public school :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Random Act of Kindness

My kids are all still basically in the "id" stage of their development.  Everything in their world is "me, me, me!" So when you start to see those tiny little glimpses of maturity creeping in it can be so very very lovely.

Today when I got home from school Grace met me at the door, very excited to present me with a gift. She and Haven had carefully wrapped it in tissue paper and put a bow on it.

It wasn't anything extraordinary.  In fact, it's simplicity is part of what made it so very special.

It was a little tube of lip balm.

That's it.

I had mentioned last night that my lips had gotten very chapped at work since I was back in an air-conditioned building all day long and they hurt a lot. But I had run out of lip balm while on one of our camping trips and hadn't replaced the tube yet.

And Grace remembered that.

And she told Brian while they were at the grocery store this morning that I needed more lip balm and insisted that they get some.  And she wrapped it up as a sweet little gift to surprise me when I got home.

I know this is so silly, but just typing this up is making me cry.  My little girl took care of me today.  She thought of me, worried about me, and loved me so much......



that she got me lip balm.

Oh, my heart.  I hope this tube of classic cherry lasts a good long time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Birthday JoJo

OK, happy belated birthday.  It has been a couple of weeks since your birthday, but it's been such a whirlwind summer of travel and fun that I haven't had much time to sit down and write.





You are now 4 years old.  Oh my goodness, I can't believe it!  It feels like just 10 minutes ago we were getting on that airplane in Kinshasa with you and Manny in our arms.


Peanut, you are such a sweet boy.  We call you Peanut because you a little bit shorter than the average bear. The doctor said you're in the 38th percentile in height.  But what you lack in height you make up in pure brute strength.  You are in the 75th percentile in weight and it is all muscle.  Clearly, your little body was created to climb!



You are such a fun and funny little person.  You love to play jokes and have massive tickle fights.  You love Spiderman and Thomas the Train.  You love swimming and swinging and riding your bike.  You LOVE your sister Louise  (even when you're fighting like cats and dogs) probably because she is a little female version of you. But the one thing you love more than anything in the world is your Daddy.  You are his constant shadow and companion.  If he leaves the house without you it is a complete catastrophe!




You do not like sitting still, watching cartoons or taking naps.  You are an all action--all the time kind of kid. If you're not moving, doing, building, fixing then you are not happy!  But you are also super affectionate and so full of love and cuddles and laughter.


video

For about a month leading up to your birthday you sang yourself the Happy Birthday song at least once a day.  It made me laugh every time.





video


JoJo you are growing up too quickly for this mama's heart.  Please stay my little peanut just a little bit longer!





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