Monday, September 22, 2014

Six Things I Want My Young Kids To Know

Parenting is constantly on my mind. I can't imagine it not being on my mind when I have three little ones filling my house with stories, laughter, and even tears. Parenting is at least a daily conversation with my husband as we discuss how things are going with our children and how we'd either like to keep doing things the same way or how we need to make changes as needed. These are just a few of the things we want our young kids to know.
  1. I want them to know that we love them. Seems obvious, right? But by understanding that we love them, we lay the foundation for everything else. Without that relationship, it would be virtually impossible to be an effective parent.
  2. I want them to know that mama and daddy are a team. We make decisions together. One of us is not the "good guy" and the other one of us is not the "bad guy." They aren't going to "get away" with something with one parent, but not the other. We back each other up. We defend each other. And we both expect the best from them.
  3. I want them to know that we want to listen to them and talk to them. In one of my favorite parenting books, Your Mama Don't Dance, the authors make the point that if you want your kids to talk to you when they are teenagers, you've got to talk to them when they are toddlers. What a profound thought! Communication is key to any relationship, especially the parent-child relationship. I want my kids to know if they want to talk (and they do!), we're here to listen to them.
  4. I want them to know that we expect their respect. Ella and Troy probably couldn't define the word "respect" for you, but I expect them to know what respect looks like. Respect looks like obedience to their parents. Respect looks like not interrupting when adults are talking unless there is something really important going on. Respect looks like kindness to their siblings (and others). Respect looks like not leaving people out of the group. Respect looks like using "yes, ma'am," "no, sir," "please," "excuse me," and "thank you." Respect looks like listening to others. Respect looks like accepting "no" as "no" and not going on and on about something.
  5. I want them to know that we expect their obedience. Something I read or heard somewhere really struck me when it comes to the idea of obedience. Part of the reason I want to my kids to be obedient is so that they can learn to be obedient to God. I do a great disservice to my children if I teach them that I don't expect them to obey.
  6. I want them to know that God is not only first in our lives, He is the reason we live. That being a Christian isn't a part-time gig or simply another thing on our schedule. In order for them to know that, we must live it by the words we speak, the things we do, the way we act, and the things that we choose to be a part of. 20140905-IMG_3565.jpg20140910-IMG_3757.jpg

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Perfect First Day of School

As I'm sure many moms do, I had great visions of how Ella's first day of kindergarten would go. I'd been prepping for a while, and had lots of great plans for our first day together.

And, all those plans and visions went out the window when I came down with the stomach bug the night before our first day of school.

We didn't get everything done that I had planned in her workboxes (for that matter, I didn't even get everything in the boxes because I got sick before I finished prepping). I didn't have the "enthusiasm" or energy I wanted to have. I couldn't do what I wanted to do with her.

But it was still a great first day of school.  We made it through the day. Ella LOVED it. She read books, and worked on her math. We marked the day off on the calendar and talked about the months of the year. We sang songs, and worked on a memory verse. She even got to start Spanish. It was a great day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday Luke!

You have been such a blessing to our family in your short life so far. The past year has brought a few sleepless nights, a few sticky messes, and a few stressful nap times, but most of all it has brought many days filled with your sweet smile.20140819-IMG_3286.jpg 
Though you don't officially "toddle" yet, you are definitely moving into toddlerhood. You cruise along furniture with ease. You've even come close to taking a step.  You have really good hand-eye coordination, and have become really good a throwing things. You definitely keep us on our toes!20140820-IMG_3378.jpgYou love to play! You have really started getting to "play" with Ella and Troy. Though they have always liked to play with you, within this past month, there has definitely been a change in how you can play with them, and I think they really enjoy you being able to "do" more things with them. You are also content to play by yourself. You'll crawl around and play with your toys for more than an hour. You really enjoy putting things in things right now (toys in cups, or balls in a basket). You also you continue to enjoy looking at books.
20140829-IMG_3441.jpgYou like for everyone in the room to watch you. You'll be playing or crawling around on the floor, and you'll look up at us to see if we are watching, then you'll give us a big cheesy nose-scrunch grin. You continue to be very vocal, yelling to let us know what you want. You also point when you want something. You have also really gotten into shaking your head "no." It can be really funny at times. Ella says that you move your body up and down for "yes," but I'm not sure. She is convinced though!20140905-IMG_3506.jpg 
You normally share a room with Troy, but one night Ella was in there instead because we had company visiting. After we put y'all to bed, we kept hearing you yelling/talking. I finally went back there to check on y'all, and you were throwing your Mickey Mouse out of the crib and Ella kept getting it for you. You thought it was a great game! Ella was almost distraught, and she told me something like "He keeps wanting me to get it for him!"20140905-IMG_3532.jpgYour personality comes through in everything that you do. You know what you want, and you don't like when you don't get it. You can turn on the tears at the drop of a hat. You are a "stingy" baby. You can smile, wave, and high five, but if someone asks you to do those things, you often give them a serious look and refuse. I think it is pretty funny.
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Signs you do: more (though you are "lazy" most of the time and do a modified clap instead of the official sign), finished

Words you say: Mama, Dada, Eh-wa! (Ella)

Favorite foods: Yogurt

Favorite activities/toys: Books, balls, little figurines (like Mickey Mouse), cars. You love to "put things in things" as well as throwing.

Luke @ 11 months
Troy @ 1 year
I didn’t start writing these monthly posts for Ella until she was 17 months old

Monday, September 1, 2014

Homeschooling Ella

We’ve been thinking about our children’s education since before any of our children ever existed; and, once Ella was born, the countdown was on to make the important decision: public school, homeschool, private school, or something else? Education is a hotly debated topic within our country, and even among members of the church. People have frequently questioned us about what our plans are for our children’s education; I think sometimes out of genuine interest, and sometimes to try to sway us one way or another.

This decision isn’t one we took lightly and it has not been an easy decision to make. Part of the reason that the decision about Ella’s education was not an easy one to make is because there are lots of pros and cons to all types of schooling. I think it would be foolish to advocate that there is only one path or way that is right for all students and families. And though we have chosen to homeschool Ella, I know that she could receive a quality education in a different schooling environment. We have been and continue to be open to exploring the many options that exist when it comes to our children’s education.

So, why did we ultimately choose to homeschool Ella for kindergarten? Here are a few of the reasons:

Desire. I want to homeschool her. I like teaching, and I’m excited about the opportunity and challenge to formally teach my own child. I know that this may not be at the top of many homeschoolers’ lists, but it is one of the top reasons that we decided to homeschool Ella.

Time. Time that Ella would be spending away from the family. Time that I would miss as she learned something that was really interesting to her, scraped her knee, or picked her favorite crayon out of the box. Time that someone else got to spend with our precious girl. And, although I don’t think that time apart from the family is a bad thing, I wasn’t ready to give it up with her yet. 

Flexibility. My husband’s job isn’t the typical Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 job. His schedule varies a lot, particularly at different times of the year, and we adjust our lives accordingly. Putting Ella into a public or private school would greatly limit the flexibility in our schedule, and right now we’d like to keep that flexibility.

Curriculum/content. There are many specific things I could mention under this topic, but ultimately it gets down to this idea: we can choose what we teach Ella (here’s what is required in the state of Texas) and how we teach her. Whether it be the Bible, Spanish, cooking, or writing a note of encouragement to someone, I can incorporate those things into her education.

Although Ella continues to show me every day how much she's grown up in her five short years, it is hard to believe that kindergarten is actually here. I’m excited about the prospect of being her kindergarten teacher, alongside her dad at times, and even her little brothers as they teach her things about life.