Tuesday, December 31, 2013

10 Months


Brooklyn and Braelyn are 10 months old! We are continually amazed at how different they are! Here's what's going on in their little lives. 

 
Braelyn Joy:

-Is on the move! She crawls on her stomach ALL AROUND. She has also learned how to sit up from crawling position and is attempting to pull up more and more.
-Is still nursing! Although she does enjoy solid foods now. Unlike her sister, she does not care for purées. She much prefers feeding herself!
-Is a BIG TIME mama's girl. She loves me so much she has to sleep by my side each night.
-Is getting more and more hair. It's blonde and forming a cute little duck tail in the back. 
-Still doesn't have any teeth! 
-Can say Mama (occasionally) and bye-bye.


Brooklyn Jubilee:

-Does NOT crawl. She most often prefers being carried but sometimes sits and plays.
-Is still nursing! She likes some purées and yogurt as well as just about anything else she can get her hands on although she is not so great at chewing and chokes on stuff all the time.
-Can drink out of a straw and gets lemonade in her cute little ladybug cup.
-Loves her Nana. Seriously. She lunges at her the minute she's in her sight and cries when she leaves. She even prefers Nana over Mommy!
-Is getting more and more hair. And I don't know where she's going to put it all. It's crazy all over the place! I've got to get better about pulling it back into a clip because it's getting food in it all the time now.
-Still doesn't have any teeth!
-Can say Mama, bye-bye, and I swear she said dog when she saw my parents' Bassett hound although there were no witnesses to corroborate my story.

We just celebrated the girls' first Christmas outside the womb. They wore adorable matching dresses with headbands and cute black shoes. Their Nana and Pappy got them twin baby dolls and cheetah print outfits along with some toys and diapers. We bought them the Little Tikes Activity Garden. It has been so fun seeing them play in it especially Braelyn since she is crawling. Once she got stuck trying to crawl out the little window!



It's hard to believe it is just two short months until their first birthday! They've grown and changed so much already. I can't imagine what the months ahead hold. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Rant in Response to Recent Readings

Today I decided to "unlike" a certain Facebook page. It's sad really because in the beginning I found it to be a source of encouragement. Lately however the page owner has shared some ideas she is presenting as Christian that I feel strongly against. 

First of all, several weeks ago her husband guest blogged about how their marriage had endured a very rough start and how it changed. At the guidance of controversial author Debi Pearl, this wife decided the way to increase the intimacy she so strongly desired with her husband was "to please him." From the sound of it this basically meant being his servant even through ailments including brain cancer! Having a servant's heart is one thing, genuinely desiring to do those little things in order to put a smile on your man's face is one thing, putting aside petty differences and a nagging attitude is one thing--but ladies, it cannot all be on you. I wholeheartedly believe we should be right with God first. For me that often (every single stinkin day!) means an attitude adjustment, determining to be cheerful. It means putting aside my selfishness to work towards a greater good...the vision that is our family. When I am right with God, I get right with others. I don't nag my husband or snap at my children. That is the key, not seeking to please men but God.

Secondly this blogger gave a young wife some advice. The young wife was feeling overwhelmed taking college courses (at her husband's insistence) and being the sole caregiver for their young baby at night. She had asked and asked her husband for help and it seemed he completely disregarded her feelings. Blogger lady encouraged her by saying men simply aren't built for housework and caring for babies. She told her to let her baby cry herself to sleep in order to "train" her to sleep well. That way the mom would not feel so overwhelmed meeting her husband's unfair demands and she could rightfully please him. 

Um, yeah. Men, not only should you learn to act like decent human beings but you are Biblically commanded to treat your wife as Christ treats the Church. Grow up. Girls, be very careful when choosing a mate. Get to truly know them--their character, their relationship with Christ, their relationship with their family an friends. Have high standards!

Today this lady posed the question to her readers, at what age did your babies sleep through the night explaining that she had sleep trained them by six WEEKS old. I take great issue with this for two reasons. One: crying it out is scientifically proven to cause brain damage and other health issues not to mention emotional ones. God designed babies to need their mother's milk (which is digested quickly) sometimes quite often around the clock for many months. It is a new, American thing to demand small children sleep alone in their beds for long stretches of time. Several people commented disagreeing with my anti-cry it out stance saying that it worked for them! Well, yes it does work but at an undeniable cost. For everything from formula feeding to medicine usage even to Santa Claus, I hear "well my parents did this or that and I survived." That people is not a tribute to the wisdom of their choices but to the remarkable resiliency of the human body and spirit. SURVIVAL is not our goal. Or at least it's not mine. My goal is to raise up a strong, healthy, confident, righteous generation because if the world is going to survive we're going to need one.

Expecting your little baby to sleep all night is also many (most?) times completely unrealistic which brings me to point number two. When one mother talks about how her baby slept all night at six weeks or could play a concerto on his baby piano at four months or was reading and interpreting Scriptire at family Bible time by age one--or any other miraculous thing your baby can do--they are setting other moms up for failure. No, they won't fail their kids because kids are resilient like that. They will fail THEMSELVES day in and day out because they will set unrealistic expectations for themselves as mothers (and wives). They will judge their worst moments by your best. And they will never forgive themselves. I know because I've been there.

So I had no qualms hitting that unlike button a few minutes ago, and I'm quite sure she won't miss my following. I couldn't resist a good rant, however. Lol!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Activities: Tuesday

Today the boys each made a pilgrim couple out of toilet paper rolls.


I'm not sure the pilgrims clothes are approved colors especially Ryland's pilgrim ladies blue hair!


Tomorrow we will be talking about Squanto and making some Native American crafts.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Week Activities: Monday


This week instead of our regularly scheduled schooling the middles (namely Jathan and Ryland) and I are studying about Thanksgiving. Jathan and I have already been reading a great historical fiction series about the Pilgrims called The American Adventure. Book one tells about life in England and Holland as well as the treacherous journey to America. Book two is centered around the experiences of the two main characters, siblings John and Sarah, in their new home, Plymouth. 

Today we used the Abeka book Thanksgiving flash-a-cards to talk about how the Thanksgiving story began focusing on the Mayflower.

After reading we got crafty! I had taken an empty orange juice container and cut off one side. Jathan cut strips of brown construction paper then glued the "boards" into place on his ship. 


Later we cut sails from white construction paper and hole punched them at the tops and bottoms. We slid them onto a dowel rod and secured it to the inside of the boat using a piece of clay. Then tada! The Mayflower sails!


One of the boys FAVORITE things lately has been coloring so of course I had a Mayflower coloring page for them today. Ryland has a real penchant for rainbows which drives Jathan nuts, lol!


Can you see the differences in the personalities come out in their artwork? Ryland fills the whole page with color and  Jathan is simple and sensible. 


Tomorrow we are going to make some TP roll Pilgrims to sail in our ship. Now I'm off to work on a Thanksgiving banner for our window--Mama likes getting crafty, too!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Goodnight, Ryland


Tonight, per a certain three-year old's request, I squished myself onto a (very sturdy) toddler bed. I laid there beside him stroking his hair while he curled into my body and whispered "I love you" and "Do kangaroos have arms?" His nightlight behind me, I made shadows on the wall.  He didn't mind that I can only do a duck and a spider. Then he tucked his head into the crook of my arm and stayed there until his breathing became slow and steady and his body grew heavy with precious rest. He didn't see the bittersweet tears streaming down my cheeks. I'm so thankful that despite all the times I've failed him, I must have done something right to deserve this sweet boy's love. 


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Simplifying

Did you know that our family has lived at or below poverty level for US standards for years? And yet we have never gone hungry and have an abundance of clothes (no matter how I feel picking out a church  outfit on Saturday night!). Not only that but our home has always been filled with beautiful things that we love and our children have always had way TOO MANY toys! Despite that fact they always want more. They are always bored. And I'm always tripping on toys and nagging them to clean up. 

Then I read a very interesting article I found on Pinterest. You can read it here: 
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/why-fewer-toys-will-actually-benefit-your-kids/

So I decided to finally do something about the great toy trap our kids had fallen into, and on Saturday I sorted all of their toys and boxed almost all of them up according to their type. Role play/dress up went into one box, cars into another, action figures another, and so on. I found all the pieces to those little play sets and gave them their own individual bag or box. Then I stacked all the boxes neatly into the closet and told the kids they had to have permission to get anything out of a box. Their room looked like a very different place! Plus instead if buying a new one, I ended up being able to remove a bookshelf which had previously been cluttered with toys and use it for our school materials. 

So have they been bored out of their minds? Have I already given in to their pleas to open every single box? No and no. If fact they have only asked for one thing out of a box, and I was able to very easily take out that one thing for them to play with. Then they used it in a creative way for several  HOURS. They were not distracted by the rest of their stuff; they finally used their brains to really play

I had placed all of the books in an easily accessible place and what do you know? Ryland and Piper begged me to read book after book Sunday night. 

Last night Ryland got out some of the few toys I had actually left out (I ran out of boxes, lol). He got so quiet that I went to check on him and found him playing "cowboys and family" with our Little People play sets. Later he sat for another hour just building with simple blocks. I hated to drag him away from his play so that he could get a bath. 

Then this morning the kids got creative without toys. They grabbed my easel clips, some paint brushes, and some sticks then went on a hunt for bad guys and dinosaurs with their new guns. 



I love seeing the wheels in their head turning. I love seeing them catch bugs--we currently have a pet caterpillar and grasshopper--and play in the dirt. I love seeing races across the yard and hearing raucous laughter erupt. I also really love not risking life and limb to walk across their floor and not becoming angry with them for having a messy room. I'm hopeful that having fewer toys will be conducive to this vision I have for my family. So far it seems to be working!

Now to work on my unnecessary attachment to MY clutter! Maybe if I clean out my closet I'll be more content with my clothes? = )

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Higher Intelligence?

Today Jathan created some phases of the moon cards. I was going to review with him by calling out the name of the phase and him picking up the corresponding card. "Let's play a harder game," he said. "You don't say it, I'll just pick one." 

"You want me to just think of one and you try and guess what I'm thinking?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. 

"Okay," I told him, "I will concentrate on one moon phase and you guess which one I'm thinking of."

I then focused on picturing one particular moon phase and repeated its name in my head. Guess what? He guessed each one correctly? Coincidence? Maybe. But it was cool at the time! 

Just don't think too loud around him just in case.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Nature Study

Lately I've been intrigued by the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. There are many things I could say about it but for now I only want to mention how lately we've delighted in the nature study it encourages. Jathan is forever a boy after my own heart--we share many thoughts and interests including exploration, and it has been wonderful seeing him enjoy learning. Both Jathan and Keeleigh have nature journals and are beginning to sketch and label their observations. Today while Keeleigh was at a friends house the younger kids and I went outside to explore the backyard; we each took a camera. Here are a few pictures of things that caught my eye.










  





















Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First Food

With each child a parent grows and changes in their parenting styles. Oftentimes you look back and wish you could have a second chance armed this time with experience and knowledge. As one friend put it, you do your best until you know better, then you do better. 

Even though I've done this whole baby thing four times before and have changed drastically over the years, I still find myself plagued with insecurity at times especially since there are so many variations in the ways my friends and family parent. It's hard not to look around and compare myself or my babies to others.

So I mentioned in the twins' 5 month update that we were planning on doing baby led weaning. I truly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding and that babies do not need any other food than their mothers' milk for a long time. Culturally we are led to believe that babies who don't sleep though the night or who nurse frequently must not be getting enough milk but this is hardly ever the case. A baby's body was designed to need frequent (sometimes multiple times per hour) feedings around the clock for many months if not years. This I believe in my mind though I do allow my heart to be swayed from time to time.

Brooklyn and Braelyn have been VERY excited at the dinner table for quite a while now. Their eyes grow big and their arms and legs flail. They are both beginning to reach for my plate and cup and anything else within reach! To many people it certainly looks like they want food. 

In previous generations doctors even recommended people feed babies very early. I drank juice and ate cereal and baby food well before the now-accepted 6 month mark. It's difficult for grandparents to accept any other way of thinking. I think my mom has chuckled at many of my kind of crunchy, new fangled ideas!  She and my dad both suggested I start the babies on solids, and seeing how the babies were acting at the table, I decided to give it a shot. After all, no mother wants her babies to be hungry! 

I bought a banana and an avocado, and then I picked up some rice cereal which was also something I wasn't too keen on since it is essentially junk food (it has little nutritional value hence it's need to be "fortified"). But I knew since I could mix it with breast milk, the babies might enjoy its taste more than the more foreign taste of true solids. 

Over the weekend I mixed up a little soupy bowl and offered the girls some on a spoon. While they didn't make a face or clamp their mouths shut (as Piper did as a baby!), they also clearly had not lost that reflex that causes a baby to push food out of their mouths with their tongue instead of chew and swallow. Now the first time I offered Ryland cereal (when he was 5 months old), he did not lose a single drop of it! However just as many babies do, Brooklyn and Braelyn had more running down their chin than went down their throat! 

Seeing their unsuccessful attempts at eating assured me that they indeed were not ready for solids. I will now feel more confident waiting until they are able to feed themselves which will give their digestive tracts more time to mature. As for their excitability at the dinner table, I know that it is just because of their curious nature. After all, they grab at books when we sit together for school but are certainly not ready for math or reading yet!

In the meantime, however, I would not deny you guys the viewing pleasure of seeing sweet baby faces smeared with food, which I feel confident is the best reason to feed babies puréed food!

 



And here's a bonus shot of Brooklyn's very necessary bath after her cereal. Braelyn was not as cheerful during her bath!



= )

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hypothetically

So, hypothetically speaking, what would you do if your husband was called to preach at a little country church revival.




And you took your six children almost doubling their usual attendance.


And it was actually the first time you have all sat (and I use the word "sat" loosely) together through a service.


What would you do if, when you're nursing one fussy twin and your oldest child is holding the other twin who you know is also growing hungry, your other children proceed to poot, retrieve boogers from their nose, holler "I want Daddy!", and dissolve into giggle fits?



 A. Calmly whisper in the children's ears to please be respectful of those in attendance.
B. Scowl sternly.
C. Whisper threats of physical violence.
D. Cry.
E. Laugh. 
F. Sneak around making pictures to document the hilarity of the moment later.
G. All of the above.