Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Letter To Drew at Age Six

Drew-Man,

Six years ago the nurse placed you in my arms with brand new breath filling your tiny little body. I dreamed of all the things I would teach you and show you; I had no idea that you would teach me just as much, maybe more, in such a small amount of time.













I went back a few days ago and read over your 3 year old and 4 year old birthday summaries. It was so neat to me that you are exactly the same now as you were then, only more mature. Your personality is the same. Your interests are largely the same. And I can now look back on some of your personality traits that baffled me at 3 and see now how you've honed into those and used them to your advantage. For example, you used to take things apart all the time. Now you love to know how things work, from the inside out. Pools, tubs, washing machines, air conditioners, etc. How things tick makes YOU tick!

Drew, when I think of you, I see your sweet bronzed face and your shaggy sun-kissed hair. I see your newly snaggle-toothed grin and I hear you say "mama" so sweetly, in your very southern accented voice. I feel your warm little body up next to mine, as you have a constant need for affection and affirmation. I feel your love for me immediately. Those big, round eyes are filled with so much wonder and joy. You have a zest for learning through experiencing. You are fearless and determined. You are special, my boy. So, so special to me. And sitting here thinking about how amazing you are and how thankful I am to be your mom makes me tear up. A third of my time with you in our home has passed. And here I sit hoping that I'm making the most of it. That I'm making good, godly impressions on you. That I'm mothering you the way the Lord wants me to. Most of all, I'm praying that we are cultivating a love for the Lord in your young heart that will one day grow and produce much, much fruit.

This has not changed since you were young: you are "boy" through and through. If a country boy ever lived in the city, I think it's you. You would live outside if you could, playing in dirt and sand, climbing everything, throwing rocks and sticks, catching frogs and bugs, playing with your trusty side kick dog and building forts. I read recently that the greatest tool for learning in young children is being free to play outdoors. I would think "maybe" to that with Hannah, but with you, I know this to be the truth. You are in your element in God's creation. One day soon your Daddy and I want to move you out to several acres filled with mature trees where you can roam and climb and explore freely. This part of you reminds me so much of your Daddy.

In the last year I've watched you become a big brother again and EXCEL in that role. I tell everyone that having a 5 year old helper is the way to go when having a baby! You have stepped up to the plate this last year and been so mature in helping take care of Jonah and Hannah. Sometimes it feels like you're my partner during the day because you aim to be so helpful. Again, I'm so thankful for your willing heart!

The fifth year of your life was so great. Sure, we had our moments (especially as we both started out schooling at home) where we wanted to wring each others' necks, but you matured so much in the last year and gained a lot of independence. You love Bible class, being with other kids, riding your bike, helping Daddy with anything, swimming, helping with laundry and vacuuming, running, playing with Jill, going new places, snuggling and having 1:1 conversations, and having your back rubbed. You are a thinker and love having deep, meaningful relationships with people. I love that about you!

From the time you were small, this has been consistent: you are a JOY to us. Your fun-loving spirit and easy going personality make you a joy to be around. You're never boring, always full of spunk and life. You make my heart swell with pride daily, and I always thank God for the gift of being your mom. You teach me to enjoy, to live in the moment, to see the good in people, to forgive quickly and move on. You make me a more godly person. You really do. What a blessing you are to me!

I love you, baby, and I pray that when you are older your memories are filled with thoughts of knowing how very loved you were, just as God made you. I am your biggest cheerleader and fan and I value your love and friendship so, so much.

Mommy

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Happy One Year, Jonah!

To my one year old baby boy:

I thought time went quickly for your brother's and sister's first years; I had no idea! Here you are at 12 months old, and I see your independence blossoming, so I'm hanging on to all your "babyness" I can while you'll allow it. But every time I turn around, I catch you doing something new, branching out a little further out of your shell. I love seeing you learn and grow, but it hurts at the same time. I can hardly remember Drew as a baby, and he's only six. So I want to relish in this time with you, but it's just fleeting.
 You took your first steps just after you turned 11 months, and now at 12 months you're walking the majority of the time. You do toddle and fall a good bit, but you're so much better than even 2 weeks ago!

You still have just 8 teeth. You nurse 4 times a day: morning, morning nap, afternoon nap, and nighttime. You still don't like a bottle; I can only assume nothing's changed since we haven't tried since around April. You're eating solids like a champ! (So funny since you put off solids for so long.) You want to sit and eat at every meal we eat, so of course, you do. You've tried and enjoyed: pancakes, waffles, cereal, spaghetti, cheese, turkey, cheese quesadillas, eggs, crackers, pb&j....basically anything we eat that's not a meat, you'll chow down. You weren't crazy about your first cupcake on the night of your birthday, but I think it's because a) breastmilk is better and 2) Daddy shoved a large finger of icing in your mouth--ick. You REALLY LOVE ice cream. It's impossible to feed you fast enough. When you're unable to see the next bite coming, you start grunting and slamming your fat palms down on the high chair tray. Quite funny, you impatient thing! The only food you don't like is bananas. I'm devastated over this one because we eat lots of them and they're a great food! I'm going to continue offering them and hoping one day you'll change your mind. ;)

I cannnot complain about your sleep. You take a morning nap about an hour and a half to two hours after waking and sleep about 2 hours. Then around 2:30ish, you go down for a second nap and sleep 2 hours. At night you go down around 8pm and wake around 8am. Many times you nurse to sleep and other times I lay you in the bed to talk until you're sleepy enough to fall asleep on your own.

On the talking front, you've said byebye, mama, and dada. You've attempted to clap a few times, and it's possible you tried to wave bye bye this last week two different times. I'm loving watching you put 2 and 2 together and mimic us. So sweet!
 
You visited Six Flags for the first time this last month on our vacation. You rode the log flume and the carousel and loved both. You also rode the Scooby Doo ride which terrified you and you dug your fingernails into my shoulder the entire time. I had no recollection of it being that scary, but you didn't cry--just held a death grip on my arm. You were such a trooper the rest of the trip. You didn't complain the entire way there, and only got fussy the last hour of the trip home. You enjoyed swimming with Daddy & Mommy even though it was cold, but you weren't a fan of Hannah's splashing in your face. You played a lot at the children's museum and ate happily at every meal. You were a joy to be with!
 
 
Now that you're mobile, I have to be on baby watch at all times that you're awake. You love to unroll the toilet paper, touch all over and in the toilet, empty the laundry baskets, climb the stairs, and drag all the contents of the cabinet out. You want to go outside with whomever walks out the door, and you get your feelings hurt if someone closes the door before you get there! You really appreciate when I let you climb the stairs to go up and play with Drew & Hannah.
 
Drew absolutely adores you. You feel the same about him. In the mornings you both greet each other with smiles and hugs and he speaks to you in a high pitched sing-song voice that is so, so sweet. He helps feed you, hold you, guard you, and play with you. You eat it up! You and Hannah are a little rockier now. ;) She likes to help you, but she pushes you a little father than you want sometimes and you don't shy away in letting it be known that you're unhappy. Other than that, she really loves you and tries to offer you her food and toys. She likes sharing with you. :)
 
You love: being outside, eating, nursing, your blankie, bathtime, being tickled, climbing the stairs, and being carried.
 
You're not-so-crazy about: bananas, being put down, being left from going outside, sitting in a parked car, being left in the nursery (just started--sadness), and being told "no."
 
Jonah bug, you own my heart! Your incredibly sweet smiles just melt me! I'll admit that I coddle you sometimes, but it's because I know you're almost out of the full baby stage and I want to hang on to your babyness for a lot longer! You're such a sweet boy, and my prayer for you is that you would have a heart for Jesus and long to worship and serve Him in this life. I know he will do amazing things with your life, and I pray I can be a vessel to help shape you into a real man of God. I love you, my dear son! Happy first birthday!

Love,
Mommy




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jonah walk & talks


 For the record, 3 days after you turned 11 months old, you took your first steps! I thought I didn't want you walking this soon, but I'm beginning to look forward to some aspects of it. Also, you've begun babbling like crazy--and loudly! If I call for Drew upstairs, you try and mimic me. So fun!

Yay for milestones!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jonah @ 11 Months

The last month with you has brought some fun changes. You've become a really great eater. For the kid who gagged until 9 1/2 months old on anything, you've come a long way! Last night you had mashed potatoes, green beans, a roll, and corn on the cob--and no gagging! ;) You nurse a little less than last month, but usually every 3-4 hours, on average. You're at least 22 pounds now, fully in a size 12 month clothes, and still a size 4 diaper.
 You're still not talking much. You're a pretty quiet fella. One day you mustered out what sounded like "Daddy" and haven't said it again since. You'll say "bye bye bye bye" when you're in your room alone, and you squeal for any other need, either with a smile or scowl. ;)

 The biggest news: YOU SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT! (Cue the rambunctious cheering and clapping!) You fall asleep around 8ish and sleep until 7:30ish. Works for me! You are, by far, the latest one to sleep through the night, but probably the best sleeper early on. I had you pegged to STTN by 6-8 weeks, but you had to show me up. :)




Last month we celebrated your first Easter. We went to Mamaw Betty's house and played all day. You were not at all interested in the eggs, but you did enjoy watching everyone else run around like crazy folks!

You looooove to be outside. In fact, you start banging on the door and squealing when your siblings go out without you. You enjoy strolling, riding in the push car, and swinging. You even let the dog lick your hands while I silently gag behind you. (See? I'm making progress because I allow the dog to lick you.) If you hear the bath water running, you speed crawl to the tub. You splash and crawl around and have a ball in the water. You have no problem sticking your face straight in. You'll be a fish like your siblings!

You put ev-er-y-thing in your mouth. Old food? Paper? Tiny toy? Bug? Makes no difference to you! I'm constantly sweeping out your mouth for random finds. :)
 

You're a pro at climbing up the stairs, so we have to keep the gate locked at all times!

 

You want to be held a lot. I'm wondering if you're going through a teething phase with the extra fussiness and desire to be held? You still only have 6 teeth--4 on top, 2 on bottom.

You take two naps a day: one around 9:30am and another around 2:30pm. Having a consistent naptime routine is helpful to us!

You are still generally such a good natured baby. You rarely fuss, though you're coming into your own little will, easily seen during diaper changes. :)

 

We love you dearly and are almost heartbroken that you're already almost one!

Thankful

Sunday morning. The organization was in place. Most of the preparations were complete. The plan was well laid, well rehearsed. The execution of  plans was a valiant effort, but sometimes there are just unforeseen circumstances that change the entire course of the morning.



Like when your 5 year old son splatters chocolate milk all over his freshly pressed white shirt.

Or when the three year old's poison ivy break out needs extra medication.

Or her new outfit, freshly pressed, is so big it's falling off and she needs a wardrobe change.

Like when the five year old sneezes and stuff goes everywhere--on the second clean shirt.

And the baby is screaming and crying to demand his nap as everyone is scurrying to put on shoes to make the grand exodus to the minivan.

And the plans just seem to crumble into piles of rubble, despite the effort.



And in the midst of the chaos, trying to fight back tears is Mama. With all her well laid plans, things just aren't going right. It wasn't a lack of organization or planning. Things just happened. But this mama needed worship today, to be in the presence of believers and be edified after a long two weeks of terminal illness and funeral events in the family. But as the morning wore on, it became apparent 5 minutes before departure that mama, only half ready, was going to be home with the tired, now crying, baby.

So this mama started complaining in her head. She was listing off all the things that went wrong and whose fault it was and how it could have been prevented. And she wondered what people would think when she wasn't in attendance that morning without a valid excuse. After all, those other moms probably had piles of rubble plans, too, but they would make it. She started wondering how everyone else had it together and she didn't. She started to wonder if maybe she were sub-par. A failure even.

And then God--

He pushed her to take her thoughts captive, and He told her to start counting. To count blessings. So she sat on the bed, listening to the baby lull himself to sleep on the monitor and started:

"I'm thankful for three healthy, lively children. I'm thankful they have clean clothes. And extra clean clothes. I'm thankful they have milk and food to put in their bellies, even if it gets on their clothes in the process. I'm thankful for a husband who willingly helps out with every single thing. I'm thankful for a mother-in-law who acts more like a mother and loves these three children as much as I do. I'm thankful for a church family, a place we call home. I'm thankful we can worship without persecution. I'm thankful for mom friends who have rough days, too..."

And the thankfulness continued. And her attitude was changed from grumbling to grateful. From defeated to overcomer. And she didn't look for everyone else's approval or applause. Her validation came from an audience of only one. The One. 

And that is all she truly needed.

Be thankful today, even a midst the unforeseen storms. Especially a midst the unforeseen storms.
Audra

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jonah at 10 Months

10 months! What a fun last month it has been. You've really found your voice in the last few weeks. If Drew and Hannah scream or squeal, you follow suite! You finally said a "word": byebyebyebyebye. Of course you don't know what it means, but you sure are cute when you say it. :)


You're climbing and crawling all over the place. You're splashing in the tub. You're t-totally in love with Drew, and think he is super funny. (He feels the same about you.) You can PUT DOWN some puffs and yogurt melts. You're finally into soft solids, including potatoes, beans, pasta, bread, etc. When you run out and want more, you slam those chubby hands onto your tray and moan impatiently for more. See, that's so cute at 10 months! (Would NOT be so cute at 3.)

You are cutting tooth number 6, and you have no problems using all 5 that you have! ;) If I ever have to put my finger in your mouth, it has to be quick! On that note, I put my fingers in your mouth about 2 gagillion times a day. You put E V E R Y T H I N G in your mouth. Paper. Leaf fragments. Dirt. 3 day old food hidden under the cabinets. Whatever! I'm constantly sweeping and vacumming, but I still continually swipe your mouth. You better not be a picky eater when you get older! ;)

You pretty consistently take two naps a day: one about 2 hours after waking and one in the afternoon between 2-3. You nurse every 3 hours in the day and once (or twice) a night, depending on what's going on in your little world that day.
 
You're in a size 12 month clothes and size 4 diaper. You're at least 21 pounds, if not a little more. 

You're not easy to make laugh, but we love when you do because it's genuine. You're still fairly laid back, content, and only fuss with diaper changes or being put down when you're tired.

I can't believe your first birthday is just around the corner. Didn't I just hold you for the first time?! Precious Jonah, you are such a sweet boy, and I cherish you!

Love,
Mommy













Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jonah @ 9 Months

Happy 9 months, my sweet boy! I just love this baby stage. You're learning so many new things, attempting to mimick others' behaviors, improving your gross and fine motor skills, and are t-totally in love with your mommy & daddy. What's not to love?!


In the last month you've started pulling up and "cruising" around furniture. You've even started walking with your walker. *tear* And along with that comes....

You're into my china cabinet and love pulling out my glass/crystal candlesticks. (Note: must baby proof that.) Unrolling the toilet paper is a favorite pastime, and you can crawl with sonic speed if you see the toilet lid open. Water play! Pulling open drawers and cabinets (even with locks) is a lot of fun until it gets your chubby little fingers. The stairs! Oh the coveted stair access! You yanked and pulled on the gate so much that it eventually broke, so now we're just barricading the landing with random toys to hold you off. But if they're moved by a certain 3 or 5 year old, you do your best to make it up a stair or two (or three) before Mommy swipes you up. Rascal!

Food wise: you ate 5 or 6 bites of mac and cheese yesterday and SMILED about it. Write that down! We'll take it! You will gum around some green beans, but mainly prefer puffs and cheerios. I use them quite frequently as a method of entertainment while I'm cooking dinner. You still nurse about every 3 to 3 1/2 hours in the day and you nurse to sleep. In other nursing news, you have 7 teeth. We're adjusting to that! Let's just say you can be known to bite.

You wake up only once a night now, usually around 4:30/5 and then sleep until around 8am.

Today at the doctor's office you weighed 20 pounds, 1 ounce. You were in the 50% for weight, 75% for height, and you were at the top of the charts for head size still. You're in 9 month and 9/12 month clothes and are moving into a size 4 diaper.

You still aren't talking, but I'm working on your first word being mama. I think it only right since the other two said dada first. ;)

You love: your blankie, chewing on a passy, bathtime, puffs/cheerios, being tickled, diaper changes, Drew, the stairs, the toilets, opening and closing drawers, pulling on my pant leg, and crawling into tight spaces.

Not-so-crazy-about: getting your nose wiped, taking medicine, bumping your noggin', and getting shots. All evidenced today!

 You are such a little ray of sunshine. I love when I'm bouncing you around the room, helping you go to sleep and I look down and see your big grin looking back at me. Melts me every time! You give me these huge open mouth, slobbery kisses and it makes me weak in the knees. I love our cuddle time in the rocking chair and cherish those moments! I'm loving seeing your personality begin to blossom. You are a JOY to us and I couldn't be more thankful God gave you to us.

I love you, my sweet boy!
Mommy

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homeschooling Thoughts: Year One

So many times I've wanted to sit down and document our first year of homeschooling. I wanted to document my fears, my expectations, my excitement, my goals, etc. After all, I do feel I have a passion for this journey and I want to be able to look back on this process in 10 years and remember. Maybe I'll remember so I can cry tears of "oh my baby is growing up too fast" or maybe I'll remember so I can empathize with that new homeschooling mom who is alone and scared out of her wits in that first daunting Kindergarten year. But I've stopped short of writing about it several times simply because what hovered over all these emotions was fear of judgement. Or maybe fear and judgement.

Some may assume we don't agree with public/private schools. They would be wrong. We homeschool at this very moment because this is what God placed on our hearts, for our family for right now. It's not what we set out thinking we would do years ago. But it's where God called us, and we feel we must be obedient to what he's called us to do. So we homeschool. And we know God may not be calling you to walk the same path. For all we know, he may not always want us to walk this path! So, for now, we obey. We buy math books and literature books and handwriting books and try to craft something with glue sticks and work in a messy science experiment when the stars are aligned and the baby's asleep.

So I have God's applause. That should be enough. 

Right? 

Isn't that what good Christians should think?

If I'm being honest, in some moments, it doesn't feel like enough. I crave someone else's applause and approval. I guess that's part of being a "people pleaser" at heart. I need the "atta girls" of encouragement. 

I wonder if I'm failing miserably. Am I meeting all the right milestones? Am I harming my 5 year old vibrant boy by teaching him at home? Am I screwing him up for life?! Is there a handbook for this whole thing?! Let's be honest: homeschooling doesn't make you the coolest mom on the block by the world's standards. And in some ways, I wonder if it will sentence my kids to a life of dorkdom. It puts us under some labels and assumptions. He'll be undersocialized. He'll be damaged for life. A horrible test taker. A slacker who wears pajamas everywhere.

;)

So here we are in February of Drew's kindergarten year. He's learning to read and doing so well. His handwriting is incredibly sloppy, but he's come a LONG way since September. His math skills blow me away. He and his sister are so much closer. They play together non-stop. Today they've been outside for 4+ hours playing in the mud, pretending in the clubhouse, building sand castles, and using their imaginations like a kid who doesn't own a TV. (Which we do. And we use it. A good bit.) And to be honest again, we don't "do school" every day. And he's excelling. It's working for us.

His character has blown me away these last few months. Sure, he has his 5 year old moments. He's an immature kid, so they're to be expected. But, my--what growth I've seen in the last few months. I've been praying over him that he would be gentle and kind and would have a heart of giving. So I'm not sure why I've been surprised lately when I've seen these gifts blossoming hugely. My heart swells with pride for him and the young man he's growing to become.

And it's when I sit alone and go over thoughts like these that I remember that following God's call for our life and not comparing it to the rest of the world's standards is what matters to me. It is why I do what I do. Because I am not here for me. I am here for Him, to glorify and serve Him. And I'm going to be praying that His applause drowns out the need for the applause from anyone else. 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Jonah @ 8 Months

I'm a week and a half late, but I've been writing this post in my head for a while. You've really hit some milestones in the past month!

Your cuteness factor has somehow increased. I didn't think it was possible!


Most notably, you're sitting alone, crawling everywhere in a speedy fashion, pulling up on items, and attempting to walk with your walker. Daddy is cheering you on and encouraging you to walk. I'm plopping you on your bottom every time and attempting to make you feel content with your rear on the floor! Dad's not going to be the one chasing you out of the potty in a few months! ;)
 About 2 weeks ago (right at 8 months), you decided you would eat some pureed baby food and not gag. What an accomplishment for you! You gobble down puffs and cheerios placed on your tray as if someone is going to swipe them and leave you starving. They make a great distraction when we go out to eat or when you eat with us at the table. You nurse about every 3 hours and you nurse to sleep at each nap.

Your naps are improving some in length and predictability. (Watch--I probably just jinxed them.) You nap around 10am and again around 2:30pm; you go to bed about 7:45/8:00pm. Then you usually wake around 11pm to eat again and usually once more around 4-5am. Will you ever sleep through the night? Maybe by age 2. Maybe. I cannot let you cry it out. I have become such a softie with baby number 3 that I probably coddle you a little much. I'm quickly realizing why the youngest children are spoiled!

You love: bathtime, belly laughing, Drew & Hannah, playing upstairs, knocking over the laundry room trash, eating ANYTHING on the floor, Mommy & Daddy, nursing, puffs/cheerios, giving open mouth kisses, being tickled and kissed on the belly, and being able to go where you want!

You're not-so-fond of: sitting still for diaper changes, having your nose suctioned/wiped, and rocking when you want the holder to stand up!

You coo and babble some, but you're not talking at all yet. But you smile and laugh and listen to your brother and sister. Every now and then you'll get going and really talk it up, but then you've met your quota for the day and you're done. ;)

You do great at riding in the car for the most part. That's a good thing since that's how we get our breaks these days with such crazy cold weather!

At the doctor a few weeks ago, you weighed 19.5 pounds. Your length was somewhere around the 50% mark, your weight was around 50-75%, and your head was still around 95%. Lots of gray matter, I'm telling you!

You wear a size 9 month/ 9-12 month clothes and a size 3 diaper.


Daddy and I can't believe how fast your first year is going by. It really does blow my mind. I just thought Drew's and Hannah's first years went quickly. I was wrong! Please slow down and let me revel in your babyness and cuddle you a little longer! We are truly enjoying you. Folks comment all the time about what a "good baby" you are. You truly are easy to love and a joy to be around! I love you, Jonah Bug!

Mommy


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