It’s been a record amount of time since my last update. To be honest, I totally lost steam on it for a while, but my children adore the blog. They love going back and looking at all of the updates and reading what I wrote about them. They laugh and beam and reminisce. . . .So, anyway. Here I am, back at it trying to get caught up.
I will start with a moving moment I had with my Julia and a few of her friends the night of her 6th birthday party. After the girls were settled down for the night, I sat down and wrote an email to their parents I thought I would include here:
Well, it is pouring, lightening and thundering here. Two of the girls started to freak out and then began telling stories about storm disasters to spread their fear. I quickly sat them down and told them I was going to read them some things from the bible.
First I read Philippians 4:8-9, and walked them through the meaning of each word it said we are to think about (truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy). I told them that no matter what happens tonight we need to fill our minds with these things, and we need to encourage each other with such thoughts. Then we practiced some examples of what could be said instead of “if lighting comes through the window it will start the house on fire”.
Next we read through the 91st psalms and talked about the refuge and protection God faithfully offers us if we put our faith in Him. They were delighted at the idea of angels covering our home so that even if the trees were blown flat in the yard, we were totally protected. We discussed that faith is trusting in God so much that we don’t allow ourselves to fear. We practiced what we could do when were tempted to fear in order to help us trust. The girls had awesome ideas like singing songs to God, pretending to hug Jesus, and praying. I encouraged them to praise and thank God for being so faithful to protect them and for the nice warm, dry house they were in and for grownups and angels to protect them.
We ended up having a 20 minute, animated, full on bible study that ended with Courtney proclaiming as I left the room, “I just saw lightning, and I’m not even afraid!!” All of the girls nodded and grinned excitedly. I was so moved by their response and their continued joyfulness in the living room even 45 minutes after the discussion started. They are all encouraging each other just as they practiced and only in the last few minutes stopped to watch the movie that’s been playing.
What neat-o girls we have, huh? I love them!!
On another note, lately, I am confronted again and again with the reality that the foundation of our self image and self esteem is laid in these formative years that my children are in right now. It is an impressionable and vulnerable time where they are deeply affected by the actions and beliefs of others. I watch my kids friends who are having the foundations of their self image and esteem determined by their peers who say it is what they wear, or what TV shows their parents let them watch, or how nice their cell phone is, or who likes them or doesn’t like them, or whether or not they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, even in elementary school (a pressure I understand well because it was true even in my elementary days) that gives them value.
This stands in stark contrast to the environment I am trying to raise my kids in, in which it is God’s love for them that gives them value and nothing else. They know nothing other than the fact that Christ died for them as an atonement for our sins because they are precious in His sight, and that they are to spread that love to others out of gratitude for what He did, and that’s about all there is to it. They are clueless about fashion (though I covertly make sure they don’t look too counterculture) and they are completely innocent to the world’s pressures of finding value in having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” or any other value determiner that is completely out of their control. Their value comes from something that was already promised to them and that they can’t escape, rather than the plight of many of their friends who are chasing it in ways that never satisfy and that are beyond their ability to make happen. (In other words, we can’t make others loves us no matter what we do. Loving others is something that is in our control. God’s love for us was already promised and we find liberation in understand that that is really all we need.)
Now if anyone who finds out I homeschool asks me, “But what about their socialization?”, they get my schpeel about the lack of virtue in the socialization children get in most institutionalized school settings. However, I do think it is critical to mention that I feel overwhelmingly blessed to be able to homeschool and to be able to surround my children with great friends whose families share similar values, especially during these formative years. I know that I may not always have this luxury, nor do I judge others who make different decisions than I do. Each family is unique and has different requirements, and even I allow my children to be exposed from time-to-time to some of the harsher realities of this world so we can work through how to deal compassionately with those who are different from us. I stand by the theme of blog updates gone by that it is ultimately faith in God’s redemptive power and letting the love that comes from Him pour into the lives of those around us that matters in the end. I am just trying to build that firm foundation in my children so they have less garbage to wade through on their way to all that God has for them in this life.
Here’s a joke my dad tells my kids. “Who’s bigger, Mr. Bigger, Mrs. Bigger, or Mr. and Mrs. Bigger’s little baby? The baby because he’s a little bigger.” Oh, the kid laugh. . . Now, here’s a conversation that was had over the school table one day.
Evan: Harrison, who’s stronger, Mr. Stronger, Mrs. Stronger or Mr. and Mrs. Stronger’s little baby?
Harrison: The little baby, because he knows Karate moves!!!
Evan: NOOOOO! It’s because he’s a little Stronger!
-Conversation after a bath:
Harrison (sing-songy) – I see London I see France. I see Eli’s pull-up!
Eli (long pause with disgusted confused look on his face) – NO! THAT’s not right!! It goes, “France! I see your underpants!”
Harrison – I just saw you in your pull up so I just said that.
Eli and Harrison together – I see London I see France. I see your underpants.
Eli – Mom laughs’s when we say that. (double S’s are his new thing).
-Their favorite thing to chant right now is “Easy peasy lemon squeezey”.
-Evan (7): “When I grow up, I’m gonna be a paleontologist.”
Eli (3): “When I grow up, I’m just gonna be an alien.”
-They are all starting to take an interest in the Braves like their Daddy this year and try to learn the rules of the game. They wake up in the mornings wanting to know who won the game the night before.
-sits down on the floor next to his 3 year old friend, Tyler, at a birthday party and says:
Eli -“Where do you live”.
Tyler – “I don’t know”.
Eli – “I live next to my neighbors house.”
-split his forehead open on a piece of trim by our stairs in May while being chased by his sister on our hardwood floors. He ended up with 5 stitches, but was a very brave boy through the whole thing. The only time he cried was right at the beginning because wanted to have all of the blood cleaned off. Once he was clean, he was back to his normal self even throughout the stitching. He has a great plastic surgeon at Scottish Rite, Atlanta’s children’s hospital.
-about once a day runs completely out of batteries and falls asleep wherever that happens to be.
-began insisting on dressing himself shortly after my last blog update, though he usually makes quite the show of it.
-was determined for several months that he would turn 5 on his 3rd birthday. Following his birthday, he began telling everyone that he was 5.
-We have a love/impatience relationship with Eli’s prayers these days. He LOVES to pray and quickly volunteers to pray out loud at each meal or under any circumstances. However, asking him to pray is a real time commitment. He always starts his prayers off with, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this food and for this day. I pray Mrs. Sheila and Treyton have a safe trip (Mrs. Sheila actually had a kidney transplant about a year ago and Treyton has been cancer free for nearly that long as well, but his wires are a bit crossed). Today I woke up and ate Rice Crispies, and they needed more milk, but then I went outside to play and got a bug bite and we went to the pool and I jumped in the deep end with my floaties on and we ate sandwiches for lunch with chips on them and then we saw an ambulance and we prayed for them and then Evan fell down one step and we got new mouth wash to keep our teeth clean. . . Aaaaaaaamen!” You want to know what Eli’s whole day was like from his perspective, ask him to pray.
-turned 3 on his birthday, May 19th.
-some new phrases –
“That’s fair!” He actually means, “That’s not fair” and he uses it whenever he is asked to do anything he doesn’t want to do, having no idea what fair actually means.
“I changed my mind”, which he usually does after it is far to late to do anything about it.
-knows all of his letters in uppercase. This year we will work on lower case.
-is the center of attention wherever he goes.
-“Mom, I like all oatmeals except for oatmeal bake because there is a taste in my mouth that pops out of the middle of nowhere and tastes like cherries”.
-LOVES to climb. Climbs walls, door ways, fences, trees, the outside edges of play sets, and on and on. His brain is always working overtime to find the next thing to climb.
-turned 5 on his last birthday, June 2nd.
-is our youngest to learn to swim this summer and now lives in the deep end of our neighborhood pool just because he can.
-has no desire to participate in any activity for the coming year (outside of AWANA at our church), and since he’s only 5, I’m have no interest in making him.
-is a real homebody. He is content to always be at home. No matter where we go he is content for varying amounts of time, but nearly always lets me know he is ready to go before it’s time to go. He’s pretty laid back and will play for longer if he needs to, but home is definitely where his heart is, something that he gets more from his daddy than his mommy.
-is technically about to go into kindergarten this year, though I had him doing everything that Julia was doing this year, so he will just start the first grade work up with her in the fall. Since he didn’t struggle at all with the curriculum, it makes it easier to have them both doing the same thing.
-HATES tension of any kind and getting into trouble. I think he maintains a low profile around here so he can keep out of any drama that might stress him out. I used to think he has a very compliant personality because he has such a strong conscience, but now I think it more like he complies in order to avoid tension/drama/stress. I think it’s something I need to be aware of because if he is anything like me, he will grow up not afraid to do the wrong things if he is sure he won’t get caught. I think his personality with cause him to make decisions based on conflict avoidance rather than based on sound judgment. I want to be mindful to not miss teaching him logical consequences to poor decision making even if he never gets caught, rather that just trying harder to not get caught. I think a lot of times I let things slide with him because he is normally so well behaved, but I think I am doing him a disservice by not letting him reap the repercussions of his actions so he can safely learn now how to think through things in a constructive way. I hope that makes sense. At least I know what I am trying to say.
-Is incredibly creative and craftsy, something she did not get from me.
-turned 6 on her last birthday, April 25th.
-declared recently, “Mom, I was BORN to sing!” I believe her. She certainly has a passion for it. I have a video of her singing included in this update.
-Spent a day getting spoiled by her college friend, Samantha, and a few other international students from Africa getting her nails done and a pretty new outfit and mainly just being the center of attention. She was in heaven!
-finished her kindergarten year with flying colors. She seems to enjoy school.
-finished her first full year of ballet/tap. She enjoyed it as long as she was there, but never enjoyed the thought of doing it before we got to the school. She decided early in the year that she wanted to do gymnastics instead. Our conversation went exactly like this. . .
Julia – “Mom, I don’t like ballet or tap.”
Me – “Really? Why not? You’ve wanted to do this for years.”
Julia – “It’s too hard. I want to do something easier, like gymnastics.”
Me – “Oh, girly. You are about to find out it’s LIFE that’s actually so hard.”
Still she is insistent on giving up dance for gymnastics, so after we made her finish out her year and dance in a beautiful recital where she did a great job, we are going to give her a go at gymnastics. . . Should be interesting.
-will also be joining a large children’s choir program at a church in our area since our church does not have one.
-Can retrieve things, even pennies, from the bottom of the 9 foot deep end of our neighborhood pool.
-is afraid to learn to ride her bike, but I am determined to push her a bit in the near future.
-has lost 7 teeth so far.
-technically finished first grade this year, though I don’t know how to identify what grade level he is at. Some things like writing he is right where he should be for his age. He is about a year ahead in math and several years ahead in reading. I have my work cut out for me in ordering his curriculum this year.
-went on his first grown-up backpacking trip this spring. Stephen, Evan and 2 of Stephen’s friends, Rob and Chris hiked 15 miles and camped 2 night in Great Smokey Mountain National Park, North Carolina. It was a great experience for him, especially since it was such a challenge. He had to carry all of his own gear in his backpack and hike the whole way on his own.
-Usually I leave my bedroom door unlocked when I am taking a shower despite the fact that they kids filter in and out with a million questions and requests while I do. Then one night I decided I was going to treat myself to locking it since Grandma was downstairs with the kids anyway. Of course, that is the night Eli splits his forehead open. I heard the kids banging on my door and yelling, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying and assumed they were being dramatic. At one point I even yelled, “Can’t get a moments peace to take a shower!” That was just moments before my bedroom door popped open and the kids came filtering in screaming at me about Eli’s head. I leaped from the shower and frantically pulled on my clothes so we could head out to the hospital, but while I dressed I asked the kids how in the world they managed to get into my room. Evan told me that he had decided to get the broom from downstairs and sweep the screw driver I had on the top of my door frame so he could pick the lock. I was so proud of him for his clear headed problem solving in the midst of a what the kids considered a major crisis. He’s such a great kid.
-still takes such tender loving care of Eli. They are special buddies.
-has a very brotherly love with Harrison. They are best buddies when it comes to video games and wrestling and other typically boyish activities.
-has trouble getting his sister to submit to his more bossy ways, but they adore each other to-be-sure. She feels safe with him when I can’t be with them.
-learned to dive into our neighborhood pool this summer.
-finished a rather tumultuous first year of boy scouts. There were several big dramas between the parents that were pretty heart breaking. We kept Evan isolated from it, but it wasn’t the best situation. Evan has decided to try out soccer this year and maybe another sport after that is over and maybe give boy scouts another chance next year when Harrison is old enough to get into it.
-will be joining a large children’s choir program at a church in our area since our church does not have one.
-While we were in TN last week, my grandfather asked me to share with his church about the time God faithfully stopped the waters from our quiet creek turned raging river during the Atlanta area flooding of 2009. After I sat down, Evan whispered to me, “Mom, I want to share about a time God did something for us.” I asked my Grandfather if he could share and Evan got up on stage with the microphone and told about how God had healed up Eli’s head so quickly after he split it open. I was so proud of him for taking the stage and wanting to share something he was grateful for in front of family and strangers. Have I mentioned that he’s a neat kid?