Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy 8 months Joel!

8 months is 2/3 of a year!

Becoming more like a toddler and less like a baby with each passing day.....

This month our littlest fellow has been quite the busy body!  ... AND is oh so brave!  We're pulling up on everything, and he must have gained a little height because things he couldn't get to last month are now officially no big deal.  

He says, Momma! (YAY!)  And occasionally babbles out Dada.

He's fearless too.  I remember when Leeland first starting pulling up on things, he wouldn't dare wiggle... Joel on the other hand, pulls up, wiggles around, does some dancing and even will let go and hold on with one hand.   AND the furniture walking has just begun.  Especially if he's trying to reach something that his big brothers are trying to keep from him.  Still a faster crawler, but if he really wants something up high, he takes a few steps.

He climbs the stairs now. The kiddo figured it out... all downhill, I mean, downstairs from there.  

We're still nursing, even though in the recent weeks he often acts as if he's just too busy to eat.  And we're still doing purees with him once a day.  I've tried to introduce some bite size solids, but for now he isn't quite interested in chewing.... It's just too much, and he's just too busy.

He's still waking in the night 2-3 times.  I think mostly due to his wiggle worm status.  Once he wakes, he just wants to sit up and/or crawl all over the bed so then he's really awake!  

No measurements this month, but still holding strong in the 18 month clothes he was wearing last month.  Maybe we've finally hit a plateau! Or maybe he's busy burning calories exploring the entire house these days.

Kiddo really is such a happy baby, and is loved and adored by all, but he especially enjoys the love and attention he gets from his big brothers.  Happy 8 months Joel! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Leeland's 6th Birthday!

I always enjoy putting together my kid's birthdays.  Honestly most often I feel like I get more excited about their birthdays than they do.  But while I enjoy every single one... I have to confess that I had A LOT of fun putting together this birthday for Leeland.


Here's the invite, purchased here on Etsy.

And while I normally just serve food-- because I enjoy feeding people.... we went all out with theme food for Hayden's birthday this year, so we had to do it with Leeland's too.  AND I found this really cool printable food tags that I could print and fill in from pottery barn kids.

So in our belly went....
"Han Burgers" and "Jabba the Hot Dogs"

"Leia's Lays" and "Jar Jar Beans"

"Fruit Sabers"

"Star S'Mores"

"Imperial Cupcakes"

... and "Wookie Cookies" to go for all of our party guests as their "thanks for coming!"

Star Wars decor...

.... AND we even had a super special guest appearance by DARTH VADER!

And Mommy dressed as Rey for fun ;)

We are tucking in an incredibly happy 6 year old tonight!  He has been looking forward to his Star Wars party for months.... No seriously... for months.  He was over the moon excited with how his party turned out and had SOO much fun playing with all of his cousins and teaching all of our family's about Star Wars.  Not to mention, he was incredibly spoiled with Star Wars gifts and fun toys.  

Happy 6th birthday Leeland!

Daddy and Mommy love you SOO much and are so incredibly proud of the young man that you are becoming.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

We Survived!!

We survived our first year of homeschooling!

Hip hip hooray! And shout it from the rooftops! 

.... Seriously though.  Ha!  Many thought we were crazy for wanting to homeschool our kids.  And while I knew with confidence that for now it's exactly what God has called me to do, I still found (and currently find) myself full of nerves.  We aren't perfect.  I fail daily.  And I don't know it all, but I do know that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be for now.  While I'd love to commit to schooling all the way through 12th grade, we're taking it year by year and listening to His voice and praying for strength and perseverance to follow His will.  

So Leeland just completed his kindergarten year at home, and I couldn't be more proud of him! (And us!)  This kiddo has blown me away with all he has learned and how much he has matured this year and I'm over the moon excited that I've been able to watch him grow and witness each and every "lightbulb moment."

Aside from going through kindergarten myself and trying to recall memories from many, many years ago, I didn't really know what to expect from him.... but we enrolled in Classical Conversations, and I set a goal of helping him learn to read, and completing our Kindergarten math curriculum.  Those goals seemed sufficient to me, and yet here we are currently working through 1st grade math curriculum, and he's been reading well for about 4 months now.  AND on top of that, he has really flourished with his CC memory work and challenged me and what little I remember from school.  I know enough homeschoolers to know that we won't always be "ahead" like this, so I'm going to relish in it while I can. HAHA!  

We loved Classical so much, that we've already registered for another year, and since Hayden is 4 years old now, he's enrolled in his first year of Classical Conversations too.  We have been incredibly impressed with the program and the boys LOVE it!  In fact, there are 12 weeks each semester and so our community finished on March 29th and the last couple weeks the boys have been begging to go to "school group."  We'll meet with our community tomorrow night for end of year presentations and then we won't be back to "school group" until August.  

While that seems like a super long break.... trust that there is still plenty of things to do.  I'm already planning on continuing on with our math because Leeland really loves math, we're tackling a new spelling curriculum, and we also plan to participate in our library's Summer reading program again for lots of extra reading practice and fun.  Of course there will be lots of fun, and breaks, and pool and beach thrown in there too.  (Trust that our kids will still have a Summer break!) 

I just sit here in awe that we conquered our first year!  After all the planning and the nervousness... it is done.  So proud of Leeland!
1st day August 2015
Last day April 2016
...And just for fun, I had Leeland fill out this little survey on the first and last day of his Kindergarten year.

First day.....

One big difference is he actually wrote the responses on his last day! 

Last day....

His brother got bumped from being his BFF and now it's his cousin.... and he still wants to be "nothing" when he grows up.  We can only go up from here so I'm super excited for what our homeschooling future holds! Haha!

Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 Reads: March

Like all good resolutions, I rocked January and February and have now fizzled out in March.  ((Sigh))  But in all seriousness, where the heck did March go!?  And what do I have to show for it!?  Anyone else asking the same questions??

So unless you count the Roald Dahl books that I've been reading with Leeland (which I don't), there's not much to show for March as far as reading goes.  With that said, as a side note, we purchased this box set at Costco last year and Leeland is loving the books, and so am I!  Seriously! Reading Roald Dahl as an adult is quite amusing because I'm now understanding all of the puns (and there are lots) that I missed as a child.
So my March reads are only partial:

That's it.  Though I have added many more books to my wish list, so I can only hope that April will bring more time.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

Dana: "I think Easter is my FAVORITE holiday."
Daniel: "I don't know.  I think you're pretty Christmas crazy."
Dana:  "Yea.... that's true... but I don't know.  I might like Easter better."
Daniel:  "I think you just like ALL holidays."

He might be on to something there.... I DO love celebrating!  But I will say, while I try to make each holiday a little bit special with traditions and surprises for the boys, Christmas and Easter are really the big deal!  With Christmas though, we have an entire MONTH to scatter little things and traditions and festivities, you don't get that at Easter.  So every year at Easter, I have about 100 things I want to do.... but I can't do too much because then it just overwhelms the boys.... but I want them to know that Easter is a BIG DEAL!  Anyway, with that said, we had a packed week.... but it was SO fun and SO worth it.  I pray for these little hearts that I have been entrusted with, and I love watching them learn and grow in the knowledge of the Lord.  

We started our week last Sunday (Palm Sunday) reading about Jesus and dying Easter eggs.

On Monday, we baked bread together and talked about Jesus being the bread of life and we planted our Grace Garden. 

And on Tuesday we had a family "Passover Seder".  It was planned to be on Thursday to parallel with the Last Supper, but when Daniel's schedule changed to him working on Thursday, we bumped it up so that he could celebrate with us and also so that I would have his help getting the meal together.  The boys LOVED it!  We have attended a Jewish Passover meal before and remembered walking away from it in awe of the all the parallels to Jesus.... then when Focus on the Family published the idea of having a Passover Seder during Holy Week, I was thrilled.  The boys asked if we could do it again, the next night. HAHA! So this will be a tradition that sticks around.  It was also my first time making lamb and my first time making Matzo ball soup!

Then on Wednesday we headed outside for a short little Easter scavenger hunt, and Daniel went over with the boys what the items meant once they found them.

And on Thursday we washed each other's feet!  The plan was just washing the boys, I washed Leeland's, Leeland washed Hayden's and then Hayden washed baby Joel's.  BUT, the boys then wanted to wash mine, so I got washed too.  Love their sweet hearts! Leeland said he wanted to wash my feet because he wanted to be like Jesus.

On Friday, we devoured hot cross buns for breakfast.  A favorite good Friday tradition around here.  And I sent the extra with Daniel to his men's Bible study because I just got my body back and these could put the pounds back on. Haha! (Thank you Pioneer Woman for the fantastic recipe I use year after year.)

.... And then on Saturday we began our resurrection cookies.  We usually make resurrection rolls (with crescents and marshmallows) on Easter morning to have for breakfast, but this year our church gave out a recipe that you make meringue cookies beginning the night before and let them sit in the oven over night for a similar result.  The boys heard "cookies" and said we *have* to make them instead.  So we started the recipe Saturday night and enjoyed our sweet treats Sunday morning when we woke up.

As suspected, these were not the "cookies" the boys are used to.  BUT they had scripture to go with every step of making them and the point was made.

Sunday morning, the boys were loved on and spoiled with some fun surprises in their Easter buckets from Mommy and Daddy, and then we headed off to church.

It looks like we did a lot.... BUT it really wasn't.  Little things each day here and there to drive home the point of Easter.  Like I said, for Christmas I get the whole month of December to make my point, for Easter, I only get a week.  And at the end of the week, the boys really knew what the purpose of Easter is.  Crazy enough, all week long, the boys mentioned absolutely nothing of gifts.  It seems they completely forgot that they usually get gifts in their Easter baskets.  They DID however remember and remind me about the grace garden and about resurrection rolls..... It really proves the point that the gifts don't matter.  The money spent and the "stuff" is not what is memorable.  It's the traditions, the stories, and the time together.... AND JESUS!

Wishing each of you a very happy Easter!

"Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord.  Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow;  though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." -Isaiah 1:18