Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Pinkalicious Girl

I always thought a girl surrounded by three brothers wouldn't be very girly... this little girl proves me wrong. While she has a strong appreciation for Star Wars and tractors she is still 100% girly-girl.

And we love her for it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If you fail to plan...

you plan to fail...

I remember my teachers in school often telling us this. And honestly, I totally ignored them. I am a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl. Routine and I have never been best friends... or even distant second cousins. But, if I have learned anything these past few months it is that when you are a homeschooling mama of 4 kiddos ages 6 and under... IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL!

So, finally, after much arguing (with myself) I decided I needed to get myself organized and get me and the little peeps in some sort of routine. So, I thought it would be fun to share our little daily routine with you all. This is a rough sketch of how our days go and of course these are only the days we spend at home without anything else going on. But, I have found that if we stick to the routine we generally have a pretty good day. (Turns out the other key to a good day is having my house all picked up and clean for the next day... for me there is nothing worse than starting the day already behind!!)

7-8AM: Everyone wakes up (Dad is already up and dressed) and we have breakfast. Now, I am lucky, I have my own live-in breakfast chef that makes breakfast for everyone every morning. He also happens to be my husband so it is a fairly affordable situation... We have breakfast together as a whole family almost every morning.
8-9AM: Dad leaves for work and then it is get dressed and ready/chore time. I use this time to do my own housework and to help the kiddos. Lately I have been training them on a lot of new jobs they haven't done in the past so most of the time I am working with the kiddos. It is a little crazy because I am training Max and Soph on "big kid" chores and trying to keep Jack entertained or doing simple "little kid" chores and keep Sam happy too. But, that is why I give myself a full hour!
9-10:30AM: Homeschool time! I do math and reading with Max and Sophie. Jack alternates between sitting at the table with us and playing in the living room or playroom with toys. Sam is in my lap most of the time or in the Moby Wrap if I need my hands free. If we finish early we move on to playtime a little early!
10:30-11:30AM- Playtime! We pretty much do whatever at this time. I will read books or play with whoever is interested in having mom play. If everyone is happy playing by themselves or with each other I do housework or check e-mail/Facebook, whatever.
11:30AM- Mom gets lunch ready!
11:45-1PM- Lunch time followed by more playtime/freetime. My kiddos eat super simple lunches like peanut butter sandwiches with carrot sticks and apple slices or sliced ham and cut up peppers and applesauce. I am talking simple!
1-1:30PM- Read aloud time. I read books to all three kiddos on the living room couch. Usually they want to read their library books at this time.
1:30-3PM- Jack goes down for his nap. I do more school with Sophie and Max if we have any or we read, play a board game, or whatever. This is a good time for Sophie and Max to do activities that they have a hard time doing when Jack is up and trying to "participate" (like building with Legos).
3-4PM- Max and Sophie have quiet time in their rooms. I finish up any housework I have going on and then prop up my feet and have a cup of tea and read a book or watch a short TV show (lately it has been Everybody Loves Raymond on Netflix!... I make this sound so leisurely... I am usually also nursing a baby at the same time!)
4-5:30PM- Everybody gets up and has a snack and then they get to watch a movie (we rotate who gets to pick the movie that day). I make dinner while everyone is occupied!
5:30-6PM- Clean up time and get ready for dinner.
6-7PM- Nick gets home from work and we have dinner as a family and then clean-up after dinner.
7-7:30PM- Bath time
7:30-8PM- Family Worship
8-8:30PM- Jack goes to bed and Max and Sophie stay up for storytime. Nick and I have been kind of taking turns reading chapter books to the kiddos. Nick just finished up The Hobbit and I have started reading Little House in the Big Woods to the kiddos! Then we put the "big kids" to bed.
8:30-9ishPM- Finish up housework, get laundry put away, and get the house ready for the next day.
9:30-10:30PM- Hang out with the hubs!
10:30PM- Bed time for Mom and Dad and Sam has his last feeding of the day.

Wake up and do it all again the next day! This is really working for us right now but I know things change all of the time. So, we will see how long it lasts. Right now it is making for a much more sane and happy mama!

These are a few of my favorite things...

Nope, I am not breaking into "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens"... Although, who doesn't love a little Sound of Music now and again?

I thought I would pop in today and share a few things that I am really loving lately! I always love to hear what other people are using, into, having success with , etc. So, it seems only fair to share mine.

I have to share first that I am loving my new Trim Healthy Mama book. I have seen this book all over the blog world and was intriged. Then I heard my good friend Jen had the book so my intrigue grew... especially since I knew Jen didn't have extra weight to loose but I know she is very health concious. So, I talked to Nick about it and shelled out the $35 for the book (way more than I ever spend on books!) and bought my copy.

What intrigued me about this book was being able to apply it to our whole family. It always seemed a little odd to me for parents to eat a healthy new diet and get McDonald's drive-thru for the kiddos. So, a book written by two homeschool moms with big families of their own definitely appealed to me.

But, I have to say what I love most so far is that Nick has lost 5 pounds and I have lost 6 in the first week. Craziness. I know my weight loss will slow way down since I am still loosing baby weight but it is definitely encouraging to see high numbers off the bat. The plan is no walk in the park and takes some getting used to- no sugar, no white flour, etc. But, I will say I truly love the foods I have been eating and I never feel hungry or deprived.

Up next on my list is this album...

I am mildly obsessed with their music and listen to it all the time lately! Love.

Oh, and I must announce because this is HUGE for me... I have actually been loving water lately! I honestly never used to drink water. But, on December 27th I gave up Diet Coke :( I was a hard core addict, but I have not had a single one since. At first I drank regular soda here and there when we were out to eat). But, since the baby has been born I don't want the caffeine and so I just drink plain old water basically all of the time. (I still have one cup of regular black coffee every morning... I mean come on... I am not a saint!) I didn't want to replace my habit with something else with artificial sweeteners (Crystal Light or something like that) even if it was calorie free. So, I just drink water and several months later I am actually enjoying the taste. It is so weird for me!

I also loved this article by Ann Voskamp. That woman speaks truth and writes it in such a beautiful way.

And of course my favorite new thing I am loving lately is...

I can't get enough of this little guy! And he is 8 weeks old now! Pure craziness!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sam's Big "Adventure"

I can't believe that this little man is 7 weeks old!

And I really can't believe that exactly one week ago we were at home having a pretty normal morning when I realized my little man was feeling kind of warm. I decided to take him to the doctor and from there we were sent to the ER for more tests which lead to lots of blood draws, catheters, and a spinal tap. At the end of the day there we were then transferred by ambulance to Cardinal Glennon for futher tests, observation, and so our little guy could recieve IV antibiotics and antiviral meds. We were there for two nights, one in the PICU and then another on the general infant floor. But, in the end all of his tests came back negative and they determined that he just had a virus. But, because of his young age they had to rule out things like menengitis and other big scary things. It was hard. And intense. And ultimately we are so thankful to God that our little boy was okay!

Here is our little "adventure" in cell phone pics
Waiting at the doctor's office where they found out his temp was 102.5

Daddy keeping Sam company in the ER

After they finally got his IV in (it took lots of tries and finally we got the charge nurse to come and work her magic!)
Riding in the ambulance, Mom got to ride along
at Cardinal Glennon getting some rest after a very long night

Sweet boy had so many cords everywhere

out of the PICU and into a regular room and rockin' his pink hospital gown

Right after we got the all clear to take our boy home!

Ready to get home!

Bye Cardinal Glennon! We hope to not see you again!

It was so good to be home again with these three!

Little man looking like he is feeling so much better!

I am also SO thankful for my parents. At the drop of a hat my mom left work to come take care of the other kiddos so Nick could be with me in the ER. And then they kept everyone happy and entertained the whole time we were gone (including a trip to the zoo!). It was such a blessing to not have to even think about how my other kids were doing while we were away. I hope that I can be as awesome for my children when they are grownups as my parents are for me and Nick.

We were also so thankful and overwhelmed by our family, friends and church family. Nick and I got so many texts, calls, and e-mails letting us know that our little man was being prayed for. It meant so much to us and was such a comfort for me. We are so blessed y the people in our lives and who love our children! So, thank you so much to all of you who are always there for us! We love you!

** I also have to give a big shout out for some wonderful nurses! We had one nurse while at Cardinal Glennon who was especially amazing and was totally our advocate for the day getting us what we needed for our little guy and helping us get answers to our questions. She was such a BLESSING to me and I will always appreciate what she did for our family! Good nurses make all the difference!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Changing my heart

I always joke and tell people that I used to be a perfect mom... before I had kids. I knew exactly the proper way to raise and discipline them. I found myself frequently very judgmental of the mom with the kid screaming on the floor at Wal-Mart... and then I actually had kids!

I also knew exactly how I wanted my children to be educated. They would be in preschool at age 3 and I would teach them to read by age 4 and pretty much they would be on their way to Harvard by 14 (I might be exaggerating... a little).

I was just laughing this morning about how much my "educational philosophies" have changed, and for the better! My eyes have been opened by reading about Charlotte Mason and then reading all of Sally Clarkson's books to a more gentle, family centered approach to education. Where I used to believe that kids should be learning as much as they could, as early as possible, I now feel like learning should be more gentle. I feel like young children should spend their days exploring and creating instead of doing worksheets and playing "educational" games and videos. Now, we still do worksheets and formal learning, but it takes us about an hour a day. The rest of our days are spent learning through reading good books, playing outside, building with blocks, and talking, talking, talking.

We also limit "activity". In fact, at this time with having a new baby we decided not to have any commitments for our kids outside of the home. No dance lessons, sports, art classes, Bible studies, etc. I was so encouraged what I recently read in "Seasons of a Mother's Heart" by Sally Clarkson,

"Looking back, I can see how I jumped into too many "busy" activities because I thought it was something we "should" do or because my friends were doing it. In the end, many of those activities only added stress to my life and overstimulated my children. I see so many young mothers now already worrying about their young children falling behind in skills or academics at the age of five and even younger. The pressure to conform, to be sure your child doesn't miss out on anything is constant and debilitating.

But there are so many amazing discoveries a child will make simply by being at home with his or her parents, exploring his world, pretending, playing with modeling clay, swinging on a swing, tinkering with simple toys, playing instruments, and singing, listening for hours to books while cuddled in mom's lap. These are the things God has built into the daily rhythm of a family, and they will help to build a rich soul. However, choosing to walk confidently in God's design requires a step of faith- a step away from the marketplace of activities and into the "mommy place" of the home, which is filled with beauty, love, creativity, purpose, and peace."

I am so thankful that we have the opportunity and resources to teach our children this way. But, that doesn't mean it is easy. I feel a lot of pressure to conform. I have been lectured on the importance of organized sports and properly "socializing" my children. It is not easy to have your parenting questioned. Especially, when you are constantly questioning yourself.

But, I DO believe that while following God's will for your life is not always easy... it is always worth it. The verse I often find myself clinging to when I wonder if I am doing enough for my children is Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

So, while my parenting looks nothing like I thought it would when I started out. I am thankful. I am thankful that God didn't leave me in my "know it all state". I am thankful that he slowly taught me and encouraged me on this journey. I am thankful for the wise and Godly women he has used to speak truth into my life and helped to change my heart for my children's benefit. And I pray that he will continue to work on me and never leave me where I am!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter 2013

I wanted to post a few pictures from Easter! My sister and brother in-law were in town for the weekend and it was so good to spend so much time with them. My mom made an amazing Easter dinner that I am still dreaming about... And I think the kiddos really enjoyed the weekend.

I am a pretty free spirit when it comes to what our kids wear. I focus on buying them clothes they can play well in and then I pretty much let them decide what they want to wear everyday (a task Sophie takes very seriously!). But, on Christmas Eve and Easter I call the shots! And that means matching outfits! I love it! To me there is nothing sweeter than a bunch of little ones in matching outfits. And lets be totally honest, is there anything sweeter than little boys in matching vests and little girls in sweet dresses with little shiny dress shoes?

The hubs and I with our baby on his very first Easter!

The girls ready for church on Easter morning

Big sister and her baby brother

My oldest and youngest

All of the handsome Ramsey men

my three boys

My sweet Little R's

Our whole family before lunch at my parent's