But, I digress. On to the purpose of my post. So much has happened this past year, and I was trying to recall some of our highlighted memories. I know I tend to be a pessimistic person, and often get caught up in the negativity of life...the "why me's," the feelings of inadequacy, and the worldly news. I even stumbled upon an entry I wrote about this very topic this time last year. I wanted to stop focusing on the negative things in my life and "Just Do It"...just do what I could with the gifts God gave me. And for the most part, I think I did a pretty good job. Sure, there were certain lulls through the year where I stumbled, and life got the better of me. But then I remembered my slogan for the year, or my husband gently nudged me in the right direction, or felt lifted up through prayer or friends. And thank goodness I have a faithful God or friends to lean on, but I realize I need more than just a slogan to follow for the year. I need the Bible engraved in my heart.
So, along with with consciously taking an effort to follow the "Just Do It" plan, I have decided to be guided by a certain Bible verse this year:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Phillipians 4:8-9
Because, if I have the Bible engraved on my heart, then hopefully when life gets me down, this verse will be so close to my heart, that I will quickly be able to pull it out of the cobwebs of my soul. And I challenge you to do the same!! Maybe if you are not a New Year's resolution kind of person, you could find a verse that would challenge you and bring you closer to God.
Really, change for any of us is all about changing our attitude. Of course it's easy for me to say this right now, because I'm pondering on the subject. But, if I'm going to change my heart to reflect God's heart, I need to make a change in my attitude. And I know I certainly won't be perfect on this journey...but, hopefully with a little encouragement from this Bible verse, my year's previous slogan, and the softening of my heart through God, I can continue in the path of positivity. I'll leave with a favorite quote of mine from Chuck Swindoll that will hopefully be inspirational to you as well:
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes."
As soon as I opened the door, Katie was waiting for her turn for school. This little girl has been anticipating school for some time. She has been eager to start her time with mom, and repeatedly asks when it's her turn to paint (apparently that's what she wants to do most in school). I had set up a "little classroom" in our basement complete with a big table to do arts and crafts, a fun calendar, and a bucket of supplies (which of course included the paints that she so anxiously wanted to use). So, we got Andrew his breakfast, straightened up a few things, and headed downstairs to begin our first day of school.
This year I have decided to homeschool Katie. Again, it started out as a sort of selfish journey (I'm sensing a pattern here...hmmm). I wanted to save the money I would put into a preschool program, and put Katie and Kyra into dance or gymnastic class. Of course it evolved from there. I soon spoke to other homeschooling moms, and realized it was a very great bonding time between their children. I then became very excited to bond with Katie. I know everyone should know their children well, but out of all three of my kids, I feel I know Katie the least. She is very good at playing by herself, which is nice when I need to get things done, but unfortunately I can take advantage of that quality as well. I'm hoping that through the time we spend together I can learn much more of her strengths as a person. I'm hoping that we can begin to build a strong bond, so she doesn't feel afraid to come to me later in life when problems get tougher.
So, we will see how this journey goes. Katie is a strong willed child, who likes to do things her way and in her own time, so this could be a challenge, but I'm willing to go for the ride. I'm a bit nervous, as I'm not sure how well it work if Andrew doesn't take his scheduled nap. He's been a bit of a pill lately, so it could be a challenge just to keep him occupied while we work one on one (especially if I want our house still standing....did I mention he's been a bit destructive lately?). But, I'm sure in a few weeks we'll fall into a groove. So, we are all at a new beginning...Kyra, a new grade....Katie, preschool with mom...and me, a preschool teacher. Let's pray that kids and teachers everywhere have a wonderful year of growth, learning, and inspiration.
1. Numerous trips to the beach. Having taken swimming lesson in the beginning of the summer, I wanted to keep their exposure to the water high, so we took advantage of our local beaches and had lots of play time in the water. I even ventured out on my own a few times with the 3 kiddos by myself (a big accomplishment for me, when you consider the 1 year old has to be watched like a hawk because of the love for the water).
2. An over night trip to Traverse City with my hubby. Although I was hesitant to leave the kids on the day first day Kyra got out of school, this trip was absolutely wonderful. The northern part of Michigan is beautiful no matter what time of year you go. And we got to enjoy time alone together while wine sampling and touring the country side. Loved it!
3. Andrew's birthday. It's hard to believe my little guy is one now, but we had a wonderful 1st birthday with family, and I am embracing the steps of progress he is making into becoming an older child (like sleeping through the night, walking, no naps...pretty soon we'll be able to go on more adventures as a family of 5)
4. Trip to Hessel. Although this was not my favorite event of the summer, the kids had a blast playing with cousins they haven't seen in a long time and it was nice to chat with family while lazily sitting at "our" small beach.
5. Visiting relatives for "daycations" while they camped at Pioneer Campground. Although we did not camp here, we still enjoyed the benefits of camping, while being able to sleep in our comfy beds at night. Seriously, it was a wonderful campground, with just a simply beautiful beach.
6. Visiting family in Chicago. While I do go to Chicago a fair amount of time to visit family, this time we went on a few day adventures. We all had a blast going to Splash Country and visiting Blackberry Farms. And although the sprinklers were broken, we enjoyed a picnic at Cantigny with fried mushrooms from Brown's Chicken....mmmm.
7. Raising 3 caterpillars. Never mind that all of the caterpillars passed away and never made it to the chrysalis stage, but the whole family really enjoyed watching how fast they grew. It was fun to watch how involved the girls got into feeding their little friends, and even see their compassionate heart reach out as the caterpillars started to fade. **We later found out that the first caterpillar probably had a virus that spread to the others.
8. Going camping at Gun Lake with my family. Although this trip was uncomfortable at times with the extreme heat and humidity (and mosquitos), we still had fun eating, talking, swimming, and reliving some previous camping trips. It's also amazing to see how resilient kids are, because I don't think the heat bothered them hardly at all...they just enjoyed being outdoors and with each other.
9. Going to the Hudsonville Fair. This has become a yearly tradition of ours, and the girls dared to go on more rides then ever this year. They were brave in going on the tall ferris wheel, and even went on a few new ones that they weren't sure of.
10. Going to a Whitecaps minor league baseball game. Again, it was another hot day, which made it almost to hot to view from our seats, but the kids had fun eating the food and it was nice doing something different. My hubs even broke down and got everyone ice cream (in which the girls got a souvenir baseball cap bowl).
We still have yet to go to the zoo (the one thing on Kyra's summer to do list we haven't done yet), but otherwise it's been a fulfilling summer. So now I am just holding on to the last few days I have to sleep in before we take on schedules, fall sports, and the busyness of the school year. I am excited at the prospects of a new year and what it has in store for us (I am taking on some new challenges), but am also thankful that we have a season like summer to rejuvenate, be lazy, and spend as a family.
Katie and I had a little one on one time the other day and went to the farmer's market. I expected to get some peaches or maybe a hairbow from a craft booth. But we found this instead. A lady and her son were selling butterfly kits and for only a few bucks. Katie was very intrigued, so I decided to indulge her, and figured both girls would get into it. I let her choose the kit (they had large caterpillars that were just about ready to make their chrysalis, or baby ones that you could watch grow). Of course Katie picked the baby ones, which just like regular babies, poop and eat all day. We are only 2 days into it and already lost 1 out of the 3 we were given (probably because we didn't clean out their home quickly enough. But hopefully we do a better job from here on out. Katie is thoroughly enjoying checking on her babies and has even gone on to make them a bedroom...hence the pictures of her creation. She likes to open their door and tells me to be quiet so they can rest and makes sure they have shade. It's fun watching her curiosity and tender heart wanting to help something grow. Now let's just hope we can keep the remaining two alive for the duration of their caterpillar life (especially since we are going camping soon and will have to take our leggy creatures with us for vacation!!).
While driving past daddy's work (he's working at an elementary school):
Kyra: Wow, that's a great school dad. It has a great park.
Dad: Yeah, sometime you should come for lunch and you can play there for a bit.
Kyra: I bet if you asked your boss daddy, you could play tag during your break time!!
(I'm sure that's exactly what all of his coworkers want to do!!)
While getting ready to go outside:
Katie: Mom, it's too hot outside. I amn't going to go outside unless her's going.
(Yes, we teach our kids real proper around these here parts)
While getting ready for dinner:
(I kept hearing Andrew blow raspberries, so I looked over and noticed his head was down and he was blowing raspberries and then watching the drool run down his bib. Yes, he's learning some great tricks! I think everyone's had a little too much sun around here, but boy do they make us smile.)
If you'd like to read more tiny talk, just visit Mary's.
After uploading photos from Andrew's birthday, the girls wanted to see their pictures when they turned one. Of course I'm always up for reminiscing, so we looked back and took a glance down memory lane. Funny thing was, upon viewing their pictures, I realized that the way they ate their cake holds true to their personalities.
Kyra: As you can see she is using a spoon and already careful not to get too messy. She is my stickler for rules, my organizer, my cautious, and careful to do things correctly kiddo. She has never been one to get her hands messy, and to this day will still not help in the garden for fear of getting dirt on her clothes or on her hands. Rules and order bring peace to her life. While even learning to write, she has always wanted to know the correct spelling for fear of writing the incorrect spelling on her crisp white sheet of paper.
Katie: Here we have a girl that wants to carefully inspect her cake and feel it's texture before she takes a chance at eating it. Katie has always been my independant, exploritory, defiant one. She doesn't want anyone to show her how to do anything. She wants to discover for herself how to do things in her own time. But she's not afraid to get her hands dirty either. To this day, she has to examine new foods before she will put them in her mouth. But she's willing to do the dirty work to show the world what she can accomplish. Just the other day we went to pick wild blackberries and fearing that she might get poked by the thorns, I pointed to a berry that would be easy for her to pick. She defiantly said, "No! I'll do it my own self momma!" and proceeded to reach into the thorns for a big ripe berry.
Andrew: Even though he is so young, I bet this picture will describe his personality well. You can see Andrew didn't hold back at all. At first he dug right in and felt the cake all over his fingers. He was merely content finger painting with the frosting. But once he tasted his chunky fingers, he dug right in. In the year that we have known him he has seemed to be a very tactile little boy. He studies his hands and movements all the time. And for the most part seems to be a child easily pleased with the simple pleasures of life. I believe he is going to be my fearless explorer, my larger than life, lover of creation, content little guy. We have already seen his ambition to walk when not knowing how to fall, and his several attempts at diving into the pool. And just this past weekend we went to the beach where he scooted all over the sand and attempting to creep closer to the mesmorizing waves. Of course he wouldn't stay under the umbrella for shade, but took in the sights all the while sifting the sand through his tiny fingers.
"Kevin is sad because he doesn't have any wives."
"Sarah is sad because she doesn't have any husbands."
"And Sarah and Kevin found eachother and fell in love and married and kissed."
While in the car:
Mom: Hey Katie, can you tell me what the colors mean on the stop light?
Katie: Sure, geen means go, red means stop, and yellow means slow poke.
(Uh huh!! There you have it. Kyra would have said slow down, since she's a stickler for the rules, but this is how the second one rolls!!)
While at the park:
(We were a little weary of letting our kids play at the park because there was a teenage couple hanging out and showing a little too much PDA. Fortunately they left soon, but we were prepared for some questions...)
Kyra: Daddy, how come you and mommy don't show each other that you love each other like that?
Dad: Well, Kyra, we do...but we just chose to do it in a non public place like our house. You've seen us kiss haven't you?
Kyra: Ewww...yes in our kitchen, but that's not appropriate in front of children.
Dad: And where would it be appropriate?
Kyra: At the park.
(I guess we aren't showing appropriate examples of affection....according to our affection police!! I'm so glad those teenagers were there to set a more fitting example-enter sarcasm)
If you'd like to read more tiny talk, just visit Mary's.
With the pillow complete we simply had to wait for her little tooth to fall out. So we waited, and waited...until finally this past month her tooth clearly became very loose. We encouraged her to wiggle it, and teased her about tying it to a string and door while slamming it shut. But in the end we let her do it in her own time. My hubby said, just be careful not to swallow it! I said, well surely that won't happen. She'll certainly feel it when it comes out.
But this afternoon, she ran to me and told me she lost her tooth. Oh congratulations, I said, where is it? No, she said I lost it and can't find it. Funny thing is, once we told her daddy, he knew exactly where it was. At the restaurant today she was eating a corn dog and had bit into something crunchy. When she showed her dad, he said it must be a piece of a bone from the hot dog! Come on, a piece of a bone? Now when have you ever found a bone in a hot dog? Those things are as processed as they come. But he didn't think much of it until she told him she lost her tooth. So, now her tooth lies at the restaurant with the corn dog!
It was an exciting day for us today. We were headed to Tulip Time to enjoy some fun activities for the kids and look at some beautiful tulips. The kids were excited because we haven't done a whole lot of fun activities in awhile. Spring cleaning, planting, weeding, gearing up for surgery, and trying to build a bathroom in our basement has been our focus for the last couple of months so I think they are feeling a little cooped up. And this momma wasn't feeling too different. I was ready to take a day off and enjoy the great outdoors.
Although the day started off rainy, the sun made its appearance later in the day and made for a pleasant afternoon. The tulips were some of the best I've seen in years. There were such vibrant colors and they were so incredibly tall. They looked like tulips on steriods! Being outside and seeing all the flowers really does wonders for your soul. I know it doesn't produce food like a vegetable or fruit garden, but seeing so many variety of colors just brings out the beauty in God's creation.
The fun part of the day though was taking part in the kinderplaats festivities at Tulip Time. Although we have gone to the festival a couple years in a row now, we have never done Kinderplaats. It basically consists of booths with activities or crafts for kids, some dancing for entertainment, a petting zoo area, and a hand full of bouncy rides. Yet, there were so many things to choose from, we had to leave to get lunch and come back again.
You know my heart. You know I am a worrier. I worry about my children growing up to know you. I worry about what their lives will be like as teenagers. I worry about their little self esteems and falls and spills they might make. I worry about predators lurking around ready to prey on their innocent souls. The list goes on and on. But worrying never accomplished anything. I am aware of that, and try daily to put their lives in your hands. I am asking that you be especially with Andrew tomorrow as he heads to surgery. I am trusting you with his care. I am trusting that you watch over his surgeon and give him steady hands. He is your child and I know you love him more than I can love him. I trust that you will help me through the week and give me the patience and strength to care for him. I pray that you give him a speedy recovery. You are in control Lord, and I pray you help me surrender my heart and give us peace. I put my son in Your hands. Thank you for your unfailing love.
So for a long time, I thought that maybe he might just be this laid back kid, with an easy going type of personality (since he showed no interest in rolling over or crawling toward any objects). But after seeing his newfound joy in walking, and especially his frustration when I set him back down, I don't think he'll be relaxed. This kid is determined and he definitely lets you know when he is upset that he is on the floor. He instantly scooches back to my hands to grab on and pull himself back up to a standing position. He has places to see and he wants to go now!
As far as eating goes, he is finally done nursing. It was a bit of a bittersweet event. Like I wrote last time, I was getting a little frustrated with the biting, and distraction he was showing while nursing. It was taking me forever to feed him because he kept whipping his head in another direction to look at something else. Although he had nursed better than the girls had, and I was glad that it had been a more enjoyable experience this last time around. In a weird sort of way, I was a little sad to think that this would be the end of my nursing experience forever (seeing as he will be our last child). But just like pregnancy, this phase of my life has finally ended. Oh the emotional roller coaster us women put ourselves through.
I am enjoying the new found discoveries Andrew is making, and am excited to watch him grow. Life is rarely boring with this little guy, or with any of our kids for that matter. And although the crying and uncertainties may weigh heavy at times, I am very thankful that God entrusted us with his care. He is a joy that keeps spreading in our life.
I had hoped that the girls had a little more type A personality ingrained in them, so that they would not procrastinate like myself and only clean when they knew it was only absolutely necessary, but so far that trait isn't showing through. We go through daily struggles of trying to put away Polly Pockets and Barbies in their correct spot or eating over their plate so as not to have crumbs all over the floor and table. And I try and remember that they are just kids, and training them is a slow process, but I don't want bad habits to go by the way side either. More often then not though, I get frustrated that they aren't cleaning on my time table, and I end up cleaning it up for them, so I get things done when I want and how (which I realize is a disservice to them, but hey I'm being honest).
But the other day I was in another one of my mad dashes to clean a lot in a short period of time, when Kyra asked if I could play a game with her. I hastily reminded her that we had company coming and if she wanted to enjoy her time with them, then I had to focus on cleaning at the moment. She walked away looking somewhat defeated, but I blew it off while thinking to myself..."if she would clean up more of her mess more often then maybe I wouldn't have so much to do right now!" About 1/2 hour later, I went into my bedroom to find that she had folded all of our laundry. I had never even taught her how to fold laundry, or asked her to do it for that matter. And you know what? She didn't do half bad. I burst into a huge smile and told her what a fabulous job she did, and how proud I was of her. She told me that she wanted to help us out and that she even organized it by person and season. At that moment I was honored to have such a thoughtful daughter, especially after I had snapped at her in such a way.
I am trying hard not to get so worked up over cleaning these days, and remember to ask my children way in advance to clean up and do their part, so they are learning responsibility too. And I am trying to exhibit some of the grace to my children that God and Kyra have so earnestly shown me.
As far as his daily routine goes. He is doing wonderful. He pretty much eats the same amount and at the same time every day (8:30 am, 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:30 pm). When you have to be flexible with a baby, it is nice to have something predictable in life. Now I definitely feel more comfortable going out in the evening with friends, since I know when his last feeding will be and when he'll go to sleep. However, although he eats on a pretty regular basis, he isn't the best eater. He's probably one of the pickiest eaters I've had. He doesn't like most of the vegetables I've tried, and lets you know by shaking his head "no" and persing his lips shut. I guess we'll just keep trying.
I have started to wean him off of nursing too. I have kind of always had a love/hate relationship with nursing. Nursing never went well with my girls. I had infection after infection, and the process was mostly just painful. The only reason I went as long as I did, was to save money. But with Andrew, nursing has gone fairly smoothly (maybe it's a boy thing?). I had periods of low milk supply, but I have just learned to suppliment. But now that he is beginning to bite, and
As far as Andrew's personality goes, he still seems to be a bit of a Momma's Boy. Along with still being fussy in the evenings, he's also taken up the separation anxiety thing. He will go to very few people, but if he does go to someone, he is very affectionate with them. He has such a loveable, cuddly personality. And the girls love this about him. Katie has gotten much better about giving him space, but now Kyra seems to be giving him more kisses then ever. I think his cheeks just have pinch me written all over them. He has started to babble a little bit too...saying dadada, but in general he's just content to sit quietly and watch his surroundings.
His favorite toy seems to be the Johnny Jumper. This kid really gets going. He jumps quite high, and reaches the door jams within seconds. He still hasn't rolled on his belly yet, so who knows if he'll ever crawl. But at the moment, I'm fine with that. It's kind of nice that I can prolong the childproofing for just a little bit longer. When I do put him on his belly, he rolls instantly back to his back. I think he's going to just start scaling furniture throughout the house. His legs are like tree stumps. I mean this kid has some muscle. Yes, our little boy is growing up fast. Although I am easily frustrated by the bouts of fussiness. The games of peekaboo, and "so big" are very rewarding.
Personality: Carefree, girly, defiant, hands on, quiet, impulsive, shy, moody, determined, imaginative
Food: PB&J, strawberry oatmeal, corn on the cob, cucumbers, apples, pizza, chicken enchiladas, salad, crackers, chocolate milk, and chips
Songs: Kenny Chesney's "Young", My God is So Big, The B.I.B.L.E.
Books: Barbie books, Dora the Explorer books, and Strawberry Shortcake books (notice the girly trend?)
TV Shows: Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, My Friend Rabbit, Willa's Wildlife
Movies: Meet the Robinsons, TinkerBell, Madagascar, Princess Stories, Ice Age Dawn of the Dinasaurs
Games: Chutes and Ladders, puzzles, PBSkids.org games
Toys: Polly Pockets, Barbies, dress up, blocks for building towers/homes for Polly Pockets or Barbies, stroller for playing house, coloring books, and playdoh
Activities w/Mommy: baking, reading, cuddling while watching movies, dancing contests
Activities w/Daddy: cooking, helping with building projects, exploring outside
This year has been a challenging, but fulfilling year with you. We started off a little rocky with efforts of getting you potty trained. I had hoped to have you potty trained before Andrew was born, but you wanted nothing to do with it. No matter what the incentive I gave or item taken away, you didn't seem to care. You truly are a determined little girl. At times our personalities really clashed and I didn't know where I was going to get the ambition to start a new day with you. But finally, you seemed to "hit rock bottom" so to speak with the potty training issue, and things started turning around. I guess you really wanted to learn in your own time.
As you are getting older, your personality is certainly flourishing. Along with being determined to do things however and whenever you please, you also have quite an imagination. With Kyra being in school all day, I worried about how we would occupy the days. But you sometimes go a couple hours making up songs, role playing with your barbies and polly pockets and toy animals. I have to be careful to remember to set some time aside for you, otherwise I could easily forget you are in the other room. I have enjoyed watching you build really detailed towers and rooms for your dolls. They have been complete with kitchen and bathroom! Your coloring skills have also greatly improved. Although we are still working on the alphabet, you love to write random letters and pretend to write a story like your big sister. But perhaps what I like to see best is how you interact with Daddy. You love to work on projects with him. The other day you were helping him work on the plumbing in the bathroom. You were cutting the pipe and working with flux with a little guidance from dad. You love a challenge, but you don't want any help. You certainly want to do it your "own self."
Yes, Katie I love your spunky attitude. You definitely march to the beat of your own drum. You're a quirky, loveable little girl and we hope to discover many new wonderful qualities about you in your 4th year of life. Lots of love,
Mommy and Daddy