Thursday, August 21, 2008

Conversation with Evelyn

We allow the children to listen to audio books/cd's during their afternoon rest time. Evelyn has been enjoying The Wise Man Built His House during the last week or two. She is really enjoying it. This is the conversation that took place after her rest time today.

Evelyn (E): Mommy, the wise man's house stood firm.
Me (M): Yes. Why did his house stand firm?
E: It was built on a rock.
M: Who is our Rock?
E: Jesus.
M: So, if we build our lives on Jesus, will we stand firm?
E: Yes. But if we build our lives on Satan, we will be foolish.

Matthew 18:3 "And [He] said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Ryan and I praise the Lord for these evidences of grace in the lives of our children!

Learning to be like Daddy

State Fair 2008 - 3

We participated in "Little Hands on the Farm" where the children each get an apron and basket and gather eggs, fruit, plant vegetables, "milk" a cow, etc. to experience the goings-on of a farm.
Here's James driving his tractor.
Here's Evelyn getting some help from Nana!
We were able to watch a tiger show.
Nana and Papa graciously paid $6 per child for them to ride the elephant. They really enjoyed this and still talk about it! (We don't know the other people in the photo. They just put the kids on where they would fit.)
Jefferson taking a snooze!
James and Evelyn found a place to refresh themselves!
They were each able to ride a kiddie roller coaster.
I wish that you all could have seen Evelyn's face. She had the best time!
James was also able to go down the big slide!
Jefferson before going to church on Sunday evening. Ryan loved this shirt on James, and he likes it on Jefferson too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday--Sibling Relationships

Well, time for another Thankful Thursday post. I've been grateful for these posts this week, as I've had to remind myself many times that there is much for which to be thankful. I am going to focus on Evelyn this week.

She is our energetic, loving, "wild" child! As many of you know, when a child has energy, that energy must be focused. Focusing is not a strong point of Evelyn's in any situation. So this week has been focused on trying to get her to focus!

All that said, I could never ask for a more loving, caring child than Evelyn. She is the first one to come running with band-aids and peroxide when anybody is hurt. She's the first to bring toys or to give out hugs when another sibling has been hurt physically or emotionally. But, during Ryan's trip to SC with Evelyn, we realized how deep the love between siblings runs.

During the first plane trip down, Evelyn was reading her books. Ryan overheard her say, "James, I wish you were here. I miss you." When we, as parents, often listen to their bickering, we begin to wonder if truly love each other. Ryan allowed her to call James when they arrived in SC. We laughed because they sounded like two lovers that had been separated for a long time! After they got off the phone, James told me that he wished that Evelyn would hurry up and come home because he missed her.

James and Evelyn each have other friends, but we really try to encourage the relationship between siblings. If that relationship is not solid, we discourage getting together with friends until the sibling relationship is mended. Evelyn is the first to forgive when someone's offended her, the first to initiate hugs and kisses and the first to dive back into playing or functioning as usual. This is even true when we, as parents, need to apologize to her.

So, while it's so easy to focus on the areas that need to be trained (there will always be those areas), join me in focusing on the positive traits that your children exhibit. I don't think it's easy to forgive when I've been wronged, and I hope to continue to encourage Evelyn to be quick to love and forgive and not to hold a grudge.

Related:Elizabeth posted last week on the blessing of friendship between her two boys. I thought it was quite special.

State Fair 2008 - 2

Blogger doesn't seem to be letting me upload anymore pictures, so more State Fair posts will have to wait.

State Fair 2008

I thought that I would post a few highlight pictures from our trip to the State Fair this past Saturday. We've enjoyed going for the last several years, and the kids always look forward to it, as you'll be able to see.
Jefferson pointing to some baby pigs.

The world's largest pig -- weighing in at 1121 lbs.!

The world's 2nd largest pig -- weighing in at 1113 lbs.! This one was actually standing up! I've never seen that!

James and Evelyn petting one of the Belgians. They're huge!

Evelyn really enjoyed watching the harness racing. She wanted a front seat, so she just sat in between two strangers! They didn't seem to mind.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Well, today is finally Thankful Thursday! Boy, on this little blog as well as on facebook, I've never had so many comments about any one post! I believe that my friend, Ann, is right. All moms need encouragement. When so many of us are choosing to stay home and care for our children, discouragement can so easily set in. We feel the pressure of shaping their values, training them for life, teaching them the basics (homeschooling), and we constantly wonder if we're up to the task. At least, I do.

We also desire for our children to adopt our worldview and choose to live by the standards by which we live. We yearn to see the Lord do a work in their hearts, and yet, we're fearful that we're not doing our part. Or maybe that we're doing too much and not allowing the Lord to work. I have all these fears and more, and I know that many of you do too.

Today's post is going to focus on James. James is my oldest. He is six years old. I'm starting with him because so many of you have younger children and you feel like you're in the trenches and are not seeing many results. Day in and day out you pour your time and energy into your children, and you don't see the fruit yet. I feel like that with my younger children, so this post is for me as well as for everyone else.

To start with, we've been allowing the older two children to watch the Olympics until 9:00 every night. This allows them to stay up for 30 minutes past their bedtime, and they're allowed to eat ice cream! We've chosen not to allow them to watch the commercials though because some of the content is inappropriate. We always mute the TV and engage them in conversation so that their eyes are turned towards us and away from the TV.

The last few days since my husband has been out of town, I've been juggling several tasks at once -- putting Jefferson to bed, grabbing laundry for the next day, cleaning up the kitchen, putting my piles away, etc., and I haven't always been near the TV the entire time. James loves operating gadgets (what man doesn't?), so I've taught him about the mute button and told him to keep his head turned during commercials. He may glance back every once in awhile to check if the Olympics are back on. He is also permitted to tell Evelyn what is expected of her.

Tonight, I was in the room and putting aways some school supplies for the upcoming year. A commercial came on and he pushed mute and began to talk to me. Evelyn (our challenging child!) said, "But that commercial didn't look bad." I told her that it didn't matter. She must obey what I said. Then I added, "Not all parents have this rule, but Mommy and Daddy think that it's best for you." I said that so that James was not shocked when he talked with his friends about the Olympics (or other TV viewing for that matter) and found out that they did not mute commercials and turn their own heads away. James said, "I think the way that you do it is the right way."

Those are the moments that I pray happen more often as he gets older, although I have no guarantee of that. But it is so encouraging to see him embracing our choices and way of life. I also realize that every good gift is from the Lord, and I believe that any work of grace that we see in our children's lives comes from the Lord, and we need to give Him the glory and praise for it.

James has also enjoyed writing letters to people lately. He's written two for his daddy and one for me. Catherine will recognize two of these as they were written at her house! Here they are with their interpretation below!
"Dear Daddy, Thank you that you go to work for getting money. I hope you have a good time. I love you. Goodbye."

"Dear Mommy, Thank you for staying home with us. I am so glad that you could. I love you. Goodbye."

"Dear Daddy, Thank you for going to work. Can I know who the man of the blue car is? I love you. Goodbye."

Seeing him write those notes and knowing that he feels the way he does thrills my heart! Realizing that he understands, at least in some small way, the sacrifices that we're making for him and the love that motivates our choices encourages me to continue with what we're doing. Your children will not do the same things as James, but I encourage you to look for the little things that they say either to you or to friends or relatives that indicate their understanding. Maybe you'll see that they recognize the security that you give to them, or that they embrace your standards or that they have a happiness in living their lives the way that you direct. Isn't the Lord good to allow us to see the fruit of our labors? Isn't He good to work in our children's lives? Isn't He good to take an interest in us at all? I encourage you (as well as myself) to thank the Lord for these tokens of good and ask Him to give you eyes with which to see those tokens.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Encouragement from a Stranger

Last Friday, Evelyn was able to ride on her first airplane when she and Ryan went down to SC to attend Uncle Bevan's graduation (with his Ph.D.!) from Clemson. She had been so excited about this trip and was looking forward to some special daddy/daughter time as well.

When we arrived at the airport, there were hugs and kisses to be given all around. We opened both of the van doors, so that Jefferson could see everything that was taking place because we weren't going to get him out. Evelyn gave him a hug, a kiss and an Eskimo kiss (a ritual that we go through constantly!). Jefferson then expected the same from James! James and Evelyn went through the same ritual, and then I did the same with her but held her a bit longer for my hug. Ryan and James had to say goodbye, then I had to say goodbye to Ryan. Did I remember it all?

There was a business man waiting on a bench right behind where our rituals were taking place. He was looking on and smiling, and when I caught his eye, he smiled and said, "I'm sure that you guys know how blessed you are, don't you?" I nodded and thanked him.

For all of you reading this, most of you probably have no idea how encouraging those few words were to me. When I go out to run errands with the kids, I usually get looks of disgust, rude comments or sympathetic glances. This is not because my children are poorly behaved. They do have their moments, but, for the most part, are delightful to be around. I believe that those looks and comments are passed my way when they see that I'm obviously expecting #4. Honestly, by the way that people react to my pregnancy, one would think I'm expecting #14!

Just last week, when I was at the cardiologist, a man said to me, "When I saw you head back with those three children, I really felt sorry for you!" I told him that there was no reason to feel sorry for me because I did not feel sorry for myself. I feel blessed. And I do! At the same office, I had four or five nurses/office workers tell me how well-behaved that my children are. They told me that children usually run screaming around their offices when they come. Now I felt sorry for them!

I have realized that most people expect children to misbehave, and children always rise (or fall) to meet expectations. Again, our children are not perfect, and we've had to deal with our fair share of discipline problems when we've been out in public, but they're expected to act differently. They're expected to act with respect and concern for others. They're expected to be kind to each other. They are expected to obey their parents. Those expectations seem to solve the majority of the problems, and if they don't, effective discipline is delivered to remind them the next time that they don't meet up to expectations.

I have had people say to me, "Why in the world do you want another? You already have a boy and a girl.", or "How are you ever going to do it? I cannot manage with the one (two) that I already have.", or "Did you guys plan this one?", or "You poor thing, you're going to be so busy!" Granted, I think most people are genuinely curious about our choices or saying these things to make conversation. (It is rather obvious that I'm pregnant!) I don't believe that most people intend to be malicious, but there are a few that do.

I just think it's a sad commentary that the mantra for most people is, "A boy for me, a girl for you, and, praise the Lord, we're all through!" Do I condemn those who have only one or two children? No. Do I judge them? No. But I do expect the same respect from them regarding our choices, and, often, that respect is not given. Could it be that the expectations for children are so low that people don't find joy anymore in the very thing that the Lord calls a blessing? Sure, most people will tell us that there are moments that their children bring them immense joy, but we often hear of the more mundane frustrating moments that occur on a daily basis. Is child rearing hard work? Most definitely. Do the rewards far outweigh the time spent? Most emphatically!

I've been doing a lot of thinking on this for the past several weeks (since I've been receiving a lot of comments from people), and I'm going to start doing a series of posts on what I'm thankful for with our children. I'm going to label it as Thankful Thursdays and it's going to be geared completely towards my relationships, observations and attitudes about my own children. I'm hoping that it will encourage other friends and relatives who have younger children that there is a time just around the corner when the older ones can help out immensely. I'm hoping that it will encourage me to keep track of all of those "little moments" and realize what a treasure I have with me everyday. (Yes, there are times that I forget as well!) I do not want to "despise the day of small things." I'm hoping that it will encourage my children to "continue in the things that they have learned." (James reads my blog after every entry!)

I'm aware that I tried a weekly series almost a year ago that flopped, but I really want this one to survive. I think it's extremely important for our own family to remember and rejoice in the progress that our children are making and to cherish the treasures that we've been given. I may be a day late or miss a post here and there, but my desire is to post weekly and share a specific way that our children have blessed and encouraged us or others.

I'll see you back on Thursday!

P.S. When you see another mother, offer her a word of encouragement or just a smile. Those small words or gestures go a long way towards making someone's day!

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Little Sibling Rivalry?

We've always struggled with getting James to do physical activity. He is an intellectual who is content to sit and read -- for the most part. Even yesterday, when I went outside to play ball with him, he quit after 5 minutes, went and got a chair and sat in the driveway. I laughed and told him that he didn't get to do that until he's a daddy!

Pumping on the swings is one of those things that he refuses to do. He gets quite upset with us when we try to encourage him to do it. I think we've given up.

A few weeks ago, Evelyn learned how to pump on the horse swing, and she's really enjoyed it. She goes really high, and it's very relaxing to her. We can tell because she goes out to the swings to calm down and rest.

Well, look who decided to start pumping on the regular swing on Tuesday?

When I made a big deal about it and took pictures and praised her up and down, James decided to try it. No success yet, but it's a step in the right direction!

A little sibling rivalry is good, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Free Books Again!

I've been wanting to post on my finds from last week's Half-Price Books trip. I was really excited! On my last post, Crystal recommended Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. We've loved Chanticleer and the Fox, so imagined my surprise when I found Miss Rumphius in the clearance section! The clearance section is not organized at all, so it's clearly providential when one finds a great buy. All of the clearance books are marked at $1 though!

Here's what we snagged:

Miss Rumphius for $1

Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield for $1

Wilbur and Orville Wright (Childhood of Famous Americans Series) for $1

Abigail Takes the Wheel for $1.98

Henry and Mudge: The First Book for $1.98

George Washington: Our First President for $1.98

Okay, you caught me! I did spend $3 out of pocket, but I was extremely proud of several of the buys. Miss Rumphius was a recommendation from a respected friend (and it's a really great book). James has really been enjoying biographies of famous early Americans, so I bought those with homeschool in mind. The George Washington is an early reader, so it will be easy for him. Clara Barton is perfect for his reading level, but a little longer than he's used to reading aloud, so it will be good for reading and history. Wilbur and Orville Wright will make a great read-aloud for him to narrate from. Abigail Takes the Wheel was a special favorite as my father-in-law had picked it up last year from his library in New Castle, IN, and James and Evelyn read/listened to it read over and over. It's based on a story from a children's magazine in 1881. It doesn't say whether it's fiction or non-fiction, but it sounds like it could very well be non-fiction. Evelyn has enjoyed having James read the Henry and Mudge books to her. They enjoy the stories of a boy and his dog, Evelyn enjoys the time with James, and James doesn't realize that he's getting practice in reading! See, there's method to my madness!

After receiving our coupons yesterday from Half-Price Books, I'm really excited to see what we bring home the next time we shop. I hope they do this promotion again next year. I think we'll participate all summer long!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Whew! What a Day!

I try to do my errand running/grocery shopping on one day every other week. Part of the reason is that Whole Foods, our main grocery store, is 35 minutes away. With three children and one on the way, I don't like to make the drive OR do the shopping more than once every two weeks. I'm usually out in between times visiting friends or going to church, and I'll combine one or two errands with those trips, but I like to have only one BIG trip.

Today was a GIGANTIC trip. I had an appointment with the cardiologist (just a routine check-up), so I decided to make this THE shopping day. My cardiologist is only two miles from Whole Foods. So, here were my stops for the day. Ready...okay!

First, the cardiologist, then Target to exchange a purchase, Whole Foods for groceries, the lamp store to fix two lamps (which have been broken for a year and it took all of 5 minutes to fix and cost $3.45!), Chick-Fil-A for lunch, Office Max, Half-Price Books (just to get the kids coupons, not to shop, we'll do that another time), Toys R Us (the kids had money burning holes in their pockets!), James' eye doctor (to get his glasses adjusted -- a bi-weekly trip at least!), the library, Wal-Mart, the credit union, the dry cleaners and Kroger. Fourteen stops!

I did learn something about my kids though. We have rest time every day. Jefferson usually sleeps from 1-4 and James and Evelyn have a rest/quiet time from 2-4. They can read books, listen to audio books or song cd's, play quiet games (for Evelyn -- magnetic dress-up dolls or ponies, for James -- knights or coloring) or sleep. This is for their benefit as well as mine. I just never realized that they enjoyed it so much! We didn't get home until 4:45, so I told them that we wouldn't have rest time today. They both moaned, and James said, "You mean, we shopped all the way through rest time?" James had purchased two more knights and Evelyn had purchased a pony, and they both wanted some quiet time to play with their toys. I had also purchased James a book on knights and castles at the library. Wow! They need their rest time as much as I do! :-)

Well, I'm off to bed now. I'm going to visit Catherine tomorrow, so I need to get up and make chocolate chip cookies. Yum, yum!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Update on the Family

I'm so sorry that I haven't posted this week at all. It's been a busy one! We had our last day of VBS on Tuesday. Our church does it one day a week for an entire month. It's worked out better for us that way. I was in charge of teaching the Bible lessons which were a particular challenge in that I wasn't using a canned curriculum. I needed to prepare them -- from scratch! That is always a situation in which I am stretched as I feel quite inept. I enjoy the teaching but not the preparation. The Lord helped me through it and the children seem to have retained quite a bit, so I praise the Lord for that. That Tuesday, Evelyn was sick though, so she and Jefferson were unable to stay for the water party afterward. James stayed with a friend, and we picked him up later that night. He had a blast!

I started Jefferson on green beans again on Wednesday. So far so good -- I think. We had 7 dirty diapers in a 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday. His little behind started getting quite raw, and I was a little nervous since we had had an issue about two weeks ago that took me awhile to clear up. But he seems to be okay now, and I'm not ready to attribute the bowel issues to the green beans -- yet. We'll have to see how it continues to go! He's starting not to like the chicken. Honestly, I can't blame him. His diet is still so limited at this point, but he has to eat it. I'm going to look into turkey options for this week. He turned his nose up at turkey several months ago, so I haven't given it to him since, but maybe he's ready for another change.

He also enjoyed his therapy session on Thursday, and I did too -- amazingly enough! I now have hope that his therapy may accomplish the intended goal of encouraging him to speak. Along those lines, he continued saying "Mama" and "Bapa" for Grandma and Grandpa, but he added "Roro" for Nana. We all laugh because we don't know where he got it, but it's either "Bapa" and "Roro" for Papa and Nana, "Bapa" and "Mama" for Grandpa and Grandma, or "Dada" and "Mama" for Daddy and Mommy. He's also getting a little better at saying water. I think it's finally sounding like "wawa". Ahhhhh, progress!

I was supposed to have my homeschool supplies ordered by this weekend, but that did not happen. I'm not even sure it's going to happen by this weekend, but hopefully by the beginning of next week. Once I order, I'll let you all know my big plans for the school year, but I'm too methodical in this process, so it may still be awhile!

I'll quit for now. I'll try to update more frequently with shorter posts this coming week. :-) We have doctor's appointments on Monday and Tuesday and therapy on Wednesday, and Ryan and Evelyn leave for SC on Friday. Busy, busy, busy!