Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jesus' birthday party

Our friends Kellie and Kevin invited us to a birthday party for Jesus at their house this year. We had fun eating dinner together and spending time with friends. We also read the story of Jesus's birth and had a birthday cake for Jesus! The kids each brought a toy to donate to the benevolence ministry at our church. We were surprised when Levi selected his large Buzz Lightyear doll. We explained to him what he was doing and that he would never get it back, but he continued to be excited to share that toy with someone who wasn't able to have a Buzz Lightyear doll. What a sweet kid!
Kellie presenting the cake. 

Party hats? Check!

Ah, friends and cake.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


This year we celebrated Christmas at home which was such a nice treat! Dad and Jennifer were in the process of preparing their home for a semester abroad, so it would have been a hassle to stop their preparations to host everyone for Christmas. Plus, our location in Central Texas seemed convenient to everyone. Ty always says that we should play the "we have kids" card and stay home, well this year, he got his wish.
I love the ambiance from the lights on our Christmas tree. I pretty much keep that sucker on the whole month of December. 

They are very excited to open one gift on Christmas Eve. 

Grandma got them the new books from Hallmark - you read the book and a stuffed animal that comes with it will talk/respond to you. It was so cool and the kids love them!

Colt got Bigsby (a soft monster) and Levi has Cooper (a soft bear)!

Christmas morning gift exchange

Our "white-trash" wine glasses - they are mason jars with lids on top! 

Grant and Stephen and Aunt Debbie and Uncle Don also came over, as well as Aunt Alethea, Uncle Andrew and Aunt Amy, but I didn't get any pictures of them. Sorry! We had lots of delicious food, went to a Christmas Eve service at a new church down the street, and fed breakfast to some people without homes in downtown Austin on Christmas morning -all traditions I'd love to continue! I want to make it a priority to put the gifts on the back burner and realize that Jesus is the best gift we will ever be given. 

We also had Christmas celebration at our house the week before with the Dishman side of the family. 
Aunt Chez made the kids some cute pj pants! 

Eliza is happy to be here. 

Sweet Tatum

The boys in their pjs from Nana (and Uncle Dusty's OU colored hat). We love the month of December and the chance to spend time with our fun family!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Documenting December

For Christmas, Nana gave the kids some cute outfits. But they were short sleeved, so I took advantage of a warm day to go take their pictures at the park across the street. Little did I know, we were to have many more warm days this winter! The kids have gotten good use out of their outfits and spring has yet to begin. Thanks, Nana! 

The kids weren't eager to sit still on a bench at the park, so they picked on their little sister instead by (gently) pulling what little hair she has. 

Didn't seem to phase her though!

This is Colt a week prior to his haircut. Boy do I miss his long locks. 

Peek-a-boo, we see you. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To Learn, Love and Grow

In July, I read a blog by a woman who creates goals for her children every 6 months. It made total sense to me to do this as well. I mean, my job as a stay at home mom is the most important in the world as I am raising my kids into men and women of character who will lead and influence their generation. I need to set a vision for my children's future and be able to guide them there, challenging them along the way, to develop into boys and girls who love Christ and seek to honor Him with their lives. As they learn, love and grow we will be creating goals for our kids every 6 months. We are addressing character issues, developmental milestones, spiritual formation, etc. I found during this first round that it was helpful to have them written down where I can see them daily and focus my efforts in these areas b/c I am totally not perfect and need a daily reminder as to what the whole purpose of me staying at home is (like yesterday when we spent the majority of the morning watching tv until I snapped out of it and started doing some intentional parenting!). Also, my "goals" are really vague - while reflecting on them I had difficulty remembering exactly where we came from. Next time around I'll be more specific.

Colt (from July-Dec 2011)

  • anger management - we taught him some breathing exercises and to clap his hands together instead of hit his brother. He also randomly started flexing his arm muscles in an Incredible Hulk kinda way. Hmm... 
  • frustration management - he was throwing things and shutting down, but now (while still shutting down at times) will growl mutter angrily and indicate that he needs help. Still working on asking for help! 
  • reading - I think I meant that we should work toward reading readiness. I'm proud to announce that Colt is definitely ready to take some major steps in this area. In fact, he read his first book tonight!! It's a Bob book for beginning readers and he was so proud (as was I)! Colt knows all the sounds of each letter and is working on sounding out each letter sound in a word, then snapping them together to create a word. I used a rubber band recently to illustrate this concept to him (stretch it out while sounding out the sounds, then snapping it back together to create a word) and I think it seemed to click with him - or at least it made for a fun game!
  • respect when others say "no!" - mmm... still gotta work on this, especially with his brother
  • develop a prayer life - Colt typically prays for "silly" things like his toys or objects around the room, but occasionally he'll pray for someone we've been talking about who needs prayer. 
  • understand the importance of the Bible - we talk about scripture throughout the day, but I don't think he understands the relevancy of the Bible and WHY we put such value in what the scriptures say. This may be too advanced of a concept for a 4 year old (any thoughts from anybody on this?), so I didn't really address it too much. 
  • art skills - One of the skills ALL 4 years olds should have (according to some guru's ideas on the blogosphere) is to draw stick figures. We'll I've never worked with Colt on drawing stick figures, so thought my kid would definitely be on the fast track to creativity suicide, but when I asked him to draw one, he did it with relative ease. I guess he just doesn't like to draw very much. Anyway, I need to still work with him in the art arena, even if he doesn't necessarily enjoy it. 
  • staying in bed - Colt was in a bad habit of getting out of bed 5+ times each night. But we've been working on it and he's doing MUCH better! It makes my evenings much less stressful. We've been shortening his naptimes which makes him more tired in the evenings. Also, we changed up some things about our bedtime ritual which messed up his pattern coming out for water (oh, wait, we filled up his cup BEFORE bed), needing to go potty (oopsie, we did that one already too!), etc. With no more excuses, he was resigned to stay in bed. I'm fortunate that he responds well to changes in behavior if we take the time to explain the new rules a day or two before they are to take place. 
  • fear "I'm scared!" - This is another reason why he would get out of bed. We let the dog sleep in his room for a bit which helped him not be scared. We also talked about how God is his protector. 
  • honesty - He began a lying habit that we quickly nipped in the bud. We watched Pinocchio and told him his nose would grow really long! Plus, we pardoned him a consequence a few times because he told the truth. Now, he'll tell the truth when he's in trouble just to attempt getting out of a consequence! He also stole a 59cent candy from the Whole Foods check out line, so Ty took him back to the store to pay for it and speak with the manager. I think that was a good experience for everyone. 
  • be able to write his name - check
  • more service opportunities - we've really been focusing on the homeless. We'll give canned food, made fudge/cookies for them at Christmas/New Years, serve breakfast etc. I think serving the homeless flying their signs is easier for me because we can have a conversation in the privacy of our own car without the risk of the kids embarrassing me with their questions directly infront of the person we are serving. Ha!
  • reading independently time - this hasn't been going over so well. He'd rather play with toys than look at books. Maybe I should try letting him read on the computer instead? At this point, Colt doesn't seem to love reading, so we'll definitely have to work on developing this trait. Maybe when he's able to read alone. 
  • patience - WAY better! He used to ask a question over and over again until he got the answer he wanted. For example, every morning, he'd ask for his favorite (applesauce, yogurt and vanilla.... gross, I know) over and over and OVER again until I rolled myself out of the bed, prepared it and had it sitting in front of him with a spoon. Talk about annoying. This is much better now. Also, we've been trying to teach him to not interrupt Ty or myself while we are talking with someone else. He's learning to put his hand on our arm so we know that he's there, then to wait until we acknowledge him at a convenient point in our conversation to ask his question. Good job, little guy!
  • use a napkin to wipe his mouth vs. a shirt - Levi ruined a number of shirts this way. But has definitely got the hang of the napkin down now. 
  • potty train -check. Except his still wears a pullup at naps and night.
  • respect Bible reading during family worship - he loves to goof off and play and be a distraction during this time. This really hasn't gotten any better. We are hesitant to discipline for this behavior because we don't want him to dread family worship time. Any ideas anyone? Anyone?!
  • no hitting - nope. No progress at all. Hmm... 
  • recognize his name when written - check
  • respect when others say "no!"- don't think he is any better in this area. He may not be developmentally able? I know he's in a really self-absorbed stage now. 
  • reading independently time- Levi seems to enjoy reading and is doing better at this, but there is still room to work. 
Anyway, that's where we are right now. We'll see how things progress in 6 more months. If you have any suggestions for us, please share. Or maybe you'll even see something that you think could work for you and your kid!