Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Aaron Funny

My sister was having a conversation with Aaron the other day at dinnertime. We are still laughing about this conversation several days later.
Aaron: Do you know who my favorite uncle is? I'll give you a hint - it's your husband.
Juliann: Oh, is it Wes?
Aaron: (smiling and nodding his head) Yep, that's right!
Juliann: Do you have a favorite Aunt?
Aaron: (very seriously looked up at her) I like the regular black ones.
(in case you are confused - he was talking about the insect)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some pictures of the middlers. . .

I snapped some pictures of my middlers, Aaron and Jonathan, on Sunday morning and just wanted to share.
Aaron and Jonathan rather love to have their pictures taken. Martin doesn't come running when I break out the camera, so I don't seem to have as many pictures of him.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rosalie's new things

A couple of weeks ago, Rosalie learned to wave and to clap. I love this age and stage. She's concentrating on what she sees us do and tries so hard to mimic. Totally cute!!! Here are some pictures of my precious girl!
Rosalie working hard at getting those hands together

And she is successful!!! Yay for clapping!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wrapping up our time in Virginia

We have been in Virginia with my Mom and Dad for the past 2 weeks now. We will finally get to be reunited with Rich on Wednesday, and we will all return home after spending Thanksgiving here with Mom and Dad. Rich had a ton of work to do as well as a paper to write, so we decided to bring the craziness of our busy family up to Virginia, so that he could have a quiet place to work.
We have been operating just like we would at home, though. School has gone on as normal, just as if we were at home. I have still been making all of our meals for the most part, and even loaves of bread here and there.
The children have adapted well for the most part. Jonathan has had the hardest time with it of the 4 children. The first week that we were here was spent with him testing me at every turn. It occurred to me that Jonathan has only ever known a life that includes Daddy being at home 24/7. While Jonathan has been enormously more difficult than my other two boys, I've always had Rich at home to sweep in and rescue me if Jonathan ever got difficult. If Jonathan ever started to tantrum, Rich would nip it right in the bud. How does he do that? I have no idea. He just tells Jonathan to stop - and Jonathan stops.
So, we get here to Virginia, settle in, and the tantrums begin. It was probably the biggest test of my entire mothering career. I had no backup. I had no one to come and bail me out. It was me against him. I will admit that many times I wanted to just back down and let Jonathan win. It would be so much easier, right? He'd stop screaming his head off and then we could move on to the next thing. We all know that is not really true. If I'd let him win, he would have thrown another tantrum the next time something didn't go quite right and it would start all over again. So, I did not give in - and he lost each time he tried. The last tantrum that he threw was about 9 days ago. He screamed and cried for close to 25 minutes. I wanted to scoop him up and comfort him, instead of standing my ground. . . but thankfully, I had my mom in my corner telling me, "don't give in to that child - don't let him win!" And I held out - I won that battle, and mostly think I won the war. He responds in a completely different way to me than he did 2 1/2 weeks ago. He has learned that I am not going to give in and that he has to obey me just the same as he has to obey his father. He still will begin to throw a fit, but has learned how to stop himself, calm himself down, and reason through whatever it is that is bothering him. WOW! What a huge change has come over him in only 2 weeks. I think this was a wonderful breakthrough. The real test will come when we get back at home. Hopefully, Rich won't have to come out of his work cave to bail me out anymore!
I am so thankful for Rich. I miss him. Our children miss him. We can't wait for him to meet us here in Virginia on Wednesday. While we needed to make this trip to Virginia, it has been hard on us all to be apart. I am also thankful for my Mom and Dad. It's no small favor to keep us for 3 weeks! Rich has had the quiet he's needed to get everything done, but we've brought all of our noise here for my Mom and Dad to endure! So, I am thankful that they are so gracious and inviting toward us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hair Cuts

At least once a month, we have to give our boys haircuts. 3 haircuts times 3 boys would equal big bucks, but thankfully Rich is quite talented at cutting hair. Rich gave haircuts to many young men and young women when he was in the corp of cadets at VA Tech. In fact, for the past 5 years, he has been cutting our boys hair with those very same clippers that he used while at Tech. Unfortunately, those infamous clippers died while giving Aaron a haircut a couple weeks ago, and he had to replace them with a new set. Hopefully, the new set will last just as long!
I am so thankful that Rich is able to cut the boys' hair!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Article on Vaccines

I really enjoyed reading this today and wanted to pass it along to those interested in the topic of vaccines.
Also, I've had several people asking me lately for ideas on how to keep children healthy through cold and flu season. I am sorry if you are one of those people, and I havn't gotten back to you. I have lots of things to say on this topic. . . and am planning a blog post about it soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served in the United States Military.

I have several people in my life who I want to thank.

Thank you Grandad, for serving in the United States Marines and the United States Navy. Thank you for serving in World War 2 and risking your life for the freedom of our country. You are a hero.

Thank you Dad, for serving in the United States Navy for 22 years. I enjoyed growing up as a Navy brat and am proud that you served our country for that time, risking your life for our freedom - and that you are still serving our country through the work you do now with government contracting. You are a hero.

Thank you to my Father-in-law for serving in the United States Army. Thank you for serving in Vietnam and risking your life for our freedom. You are a hero.

Thank you to Rich, my husband, for serving in the United States Army. You are a hero. (especially to our boys)

I am thankful for the rich heritage our family has in service to our country.

Happy Veterans Day to all who have bravely served our country!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jonathan and Rosalie

My rough, tumble, plow ahead and don't look back little boy has developed quite the tenderness and affection for his little sister. He really ignored her and in many ways just pretended she didn't exist for several months. Now, he is always watching out for her. He's particularly good about making sure she doesn't put anything in her mouth that isn't supposed to go there.
Okay - so I am admitting it - I didn't really expect this from Jonathan. He's tough, headstrong, and most often concerned about himself - what 3 year old isn't? So, it is encouraging to me to see that he is acknowledging the need to be a protector of our baby girl. She certainly isn't at a loss when it comes to protectors!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!

Happy 61st birthday, Dad!!
We love you so much and are so very thankful for you. I wish we could be with you on your birthday, but we look forward to seeing you soon. Thanks for being the supportive and loving Dad that you are. My boys have been praying for you every day as you have been recovering. We are all thankful that you are doing better now! Can't wait to see you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Delaying Solids

My only daughter is my youngest of 4 children. She is still a baby - and also the topic of this blog entry. I am thrilled that God has given me a daughter - mostly because I have the amazing privilege of raising my daughter to love homemaking. This entry is one of the many tips I will pass onto my daughter as I train her to love motherhood and homemaking.
I love the topic of health and nutrition and delaying solids is one of those topics that is particularly important to me for many reasons.

**Delaying solids give baby more protection. While babies are exclusively breastfed - no solids whatsoever. . . no juice. . . no cereals, etc., they are even more protected from illness than while being breastfed and eating solids.

**Delaying solids gives the baby's digestive system the proper time to mature. There are certain enzymes that don't reach maturity until 7 months old or later. Those enzymes are needed to help in properly digesting solid foods.

**Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies. That are certain antibodies that are passed on from mother to baby that help reduce the liklihood of allergic reactions. The baby will begin to develop those on her own after 6 months of age.

**Delaying solids help to reduce the risk of developing obesity later in life.

**And one of my favorites. . . it's just plain easier!! And by easier, I just mean that I don't have to puree the food, then deal with the mess of the baby's tongue thrust mechanism. In some respects it could be considered more difficult to delay solids, because the nursing mom is unable to be away from baby for very long.
For those of you who are used to feeding on a schedule, if you also want to delay solids, demand feeding might be a better way to go. When you delay solids and also schedule feed, it's quite possible that baby won't get enough nourishment for what they need to grow and thrive. Feeding on demand will ensure that baby is getting all the nutrients he/she needs, thus alleviating any worry from your mind that baby needs any additional food. I feed on demand, so I never had to worry about whether or not Rosalie needed any supplements. I fed her whenever she indicated she was hungry, instead of by the clock. In any case, delaying solids and demand feeding seem to go together.

Having said all of that - I gave Rosalie her first solid foods this week! She has taken to them very well and is loving them! I started by giving her some mashed up avacado. Avacado is one of the best first foods that you can offer a baby. It's fairly easy to digest and it is full of nutritional benefits and good fats for brain development. She seemed to enjoy it. Then I gave her some bananas. She really seemed to like those! I also gave her a mixture of avacado and banana.
Last night, she actually ate cream of chicken soup with us. I love the fact that when I wait so long to give solids, I don't have to make anything special for her. I can pretty much just give her what we are eating.(provided it is healthy - and I go to great lengths to prepare healthy meals) She doesn't have to have pureed foods. I just cut her chunks down a little smaller. I did start to give her some grains once or twice, but cut that out when I did some more reading on the topic. Interestingly enough, grains are very difficult to digest. So, I want to give her digestive system a little more time to mature before grains become a regular part of her diet. And even then, I am going to make sure she only gets grains that have been soaked and fermented to aid in digestion. For right now, I am going to focus on giving her mostly vegetables and some meats.

Rich is plagued with chronic skin problems, asthma, and allergies, so we decided we wanted to take every possible precaution that we could to keep our children from developing those conditions. Just based on genetics, they most likely have a predisposition to those conditions, but environmental factors always play into it too. So, I am hoping and praying that our efforts will keep our children healthy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rosalie is 9 months old!

Taken this morning with her pony - 9 months old today.

Taken this past Sunday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hillridge Farm

Last week we went to Hillridge Farm. We have been taking them to Hillridge Farm every fall since Martin was 2 years old. We look forward to it and talk about it all year long! Usually, my Mom goes with us, but this year we were very sad that she could not come. She was very busy at home taking care of my Dad.
However, we had the opportunity to go with a two very special people, Ms. Amy and Hannah! Ms. Amy has been and is a very special person to our family. She has been Martin's Sunday School Teacher for the past two years and is now Aaron's SS teacher! We were so excited that she and Hannah were able to go with us. We had a wonderful time! I prepared a photo slideshow to share of our fun time there. There is so much to do at this place and lots and lots of photo opportunities!
Thank you Amy for being such a special person to my boys! We love you and are so thankful that we were able to spend that time with you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coping, Expectations, and Perspective

Many of you know that I have been having a hard time lately. August came and we got back into the swing of school. September came and we were in a full swing school routine. September got really hairy for me, and I remember thinking - Wow, life is really hard for me right now, and I just don't see how things could get any harder. Rich was (still is) so busy that he was unable to lend much in the way of help. It was just me, a mountain of work, and 4 children to teach, feed, love, change, clothe, diaper, etc., etc., etc.
A funny thing happened, though. October came. . . and life became harder! WHAT?? How could things get any harder? I had just wondered this back in September. And now on the first day of November, I can't remember why September was so hard. October was excruciating for me - so much so - that I don't remember why I thought September was hard.
I do remember with great detail, however, why October was hard. Rosalie pretty much stopped sleeping. She went from a very contented baby to a very fussy, non-napping baby. Not only did she stop taking good naps for me, she went from sleeping 11 hours a night to waking up to 4 times a night. So, in case no one has ever told you before - things can always get worse! So, I went from being exhausted from my mountain of work, 4 children to teach, feed, love, change, clothe, and diaper to being completely depleted in every way. I was depleted emotionally, spiritually, and physically. My coping skills are not the best, I must admit. In fact, I have always thought that I lost more and more of those coping skills each time I had a baby. So, I must be down to almost nothing in the coping category by now. In October, my coping skills seemed to be completly non-existent. Each very normal - but somewhat stressful - situation that came my way seemed to need to end in complete despair. Each normal situation grew to be so much more than it needed to be, just because my exhaustion was winning and getting the best of me - and the rest of my family. Trust me when I tell you I did not handle October well. I am not a super mom. I am a normal and very flawed individual that struggles everyday to live out my relationship with the Lord in front of my children with hopes that they will become fully devoted followers of Christ. In October, I failed ALOT. But my children still learned several lessons. They learned alot about sin. They learned that it's hard for everyone - EVERYONE - to keep from sinning. They learned that even mom has to work hard at not acting on anger - and still fails at it. They also learned compassion. By the end of the month, one of the first questions they would ask upon waking up, was - "Were you able to get any sleep last night, mommy?" They learned that in order to function better as a family, we have to work together. So, October wasn't a total wash! We did indeed survive October.
I have been learning for quite sometime now that my expectations are the biggest source of my troubles. I've known this for quite some time, actually. My husband has also pointed this out to me. I still struggle with it, though. I have a certain set of expectations about how something needs to go and if it doesn't quite go that way, my coping mechanisms begin to fail and my preference at that point is just to meltdown. It's almost as if at that point, I step outside of myself, and watch myself behave in an irrational way, but can't seem to stop myself. I think it's quite humorous that I can so easily see this horrible shortcoming of mine, (isn't that usually the hardest part - actually being able to admit it and face it?) yet I can't seem to be able to do anything about it? Believe me - I make all sorts of excuses for myself such as: I have far too much on my plate, I have no one to help me, I have no family nearby, I never get any breaks, if I could only get 1 hour away by myself, etc., etc., etc. I have become quite good at feeling sorry for myself, but then I get a good dose of reality and try to shove all of those thoughts away. So, instead, I start counting my blessings. There are far too many to even count. I am strong and healthy and there is absolutely no reason for me to whine and complain about my situation. My expectations need to go right where they belong. OUT THE WINDOW. Expect the unexpected. That's the best gift I could give myself. (far better than an hour to myself!)
So, the past two months have been hard. I am busy. My work is exponential. My children are challenging little souls that require a great deal from me. All of those things are facts. However, let's just put it into perspective. I have grown so much the past couple of months of difficulty. I am so blessed to be busy and have the strength and health to do my work. I am thankful to have the blessings in my life that create my exponential work. I am enormously blessed to have 4 challenging souls that require so much of me.

Isn't is so much easier to say all that than to put it into action? Thankfully, I am under the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and experience His forgiveness and mercy on a daily basis!
Thanks for reading this long post. I'd love to hear from you in places that you struggle. I'd love to pray for you!