Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Kind of Pie?

I mentioned this in my last blog update (over 4 months ago!) that I have lost steam for my blog of late. However, I have been thinking a lot about a particular subject that I am no authority on, but have felt compelled to write about. So, for this update, I am writing to the future Rochelle Tynes regarding something I want to hypothesize on and then come back to in 20 years to evaluate how it worked out. I don't think what I am writing about is a revolutionary new thought. In fact, I think it is one young families are doing more and more without necessarily even realizing it. Whatever the reality of it is, I want to get my thoughts out of my head and put them here to look back on sometime down the road.

In this update I want to spell out just exactly what my plan is for raising kids who grow up to truly live their lives for the Lord and have a desire to serve and reach the world with a community of believers/the church. Statistics these days are staggering, horrifying in fact, regarding how many kids raised in Christian homes turn their backs on the way they were raised and live their lives set apart from the faith. I have spent MUCH time in prayer and have even been caught up in fearful fits of tears over the idea that I could bring children into this world who do not grow up to live their lives for Christ. I admit to going through times where I had no real hope for them and felt overcome by my inability to compete with what this world has to offer.

I think in generations gone by, especially here in supposedly Christian America, behavior modification has been the name of the game for many people. "Good" Christian parents focused on making their children look, sound like, and act the part. They had the kids in church each and every moment the doors were open. They emphasized the diligent discipline of "quiet time" for prayer and bible study with the Lord. There was very much an "us/them" mentality with non-Christians and even Christians of other denominations where children were taught to fear those who were not like themselves. All behavior that could possibly be considered a slippery slope (drinking, dancing, movies, pants, haircuts, playing cards) were all judged sinful behaviors because they lead to even more feared behaviors like premarital sex, gambling, addictions, or rock & roll. Participating in those activities were evidence that someone did not have a personal relationship with Jesus or had backslidden. Only Republicans were Christians (based largely on the prolife platform) and it was our moral duty to vote so we could create more laws that structured the behavior of those not like ourselves to look less like what we feared. If a group of people at a church began to voice something we considered a slippery slope issue or expressed a desire to allow those into the church who did not have the sense to look and act the part of the Christian everyone needed them to be, then the church would just split in two and live in fear of the influence the newest rival church could have over the now badly wounded body left behind.

I mean, Gosh! Sign me up, right? And kids, get yourself a slice of fearful, judgmental, prideful, gossiping, legalistic, wounded, patriotic, Republican pie! Believe you me. It is SUPER DUPER easy for me to get caught up in this too. Thinking of myself as the righteous one and others as unrighteous slobs makes me feel better about myself. I grew up with parents who loved the Lord and always, always wanted to do the right things, but I got to experience all of these first hand as a child. If I have departed from buying into that garbage at all it is largely because I have watched my parents apologize to those they have hurt and reach out to those that once made them uncomfortable and give their lives over to serve and reach the lost, not to mention walking away from a life of Republican agendas for a life of trusting in God's sovereignty over our nation and laws. (This is not to say there aren't godly Republicans with faith-filled agendas. Please don't miss the point here.)

So, I get back to my hypothesis. What do I do/am I going to continue to do in hopes that we beat the odds and raise 4 children who love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strengths and then, as a result, love their neighbor (AKA fearfully and wonderfully made humanity) as they love themselves? There are no guarantees in life to-be-sure, but I think it's also helpful to have a paradigm to guide our parenting. Here's mine, and it's based on about a million scriptures that I am narrowing down to a few.

"Philippians 4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things."

I have written about this before in regards to how I try to structure my thinking, but in relation to parenting, I ask my children to investigate what is going on in their hearts. Are they making decisions out of fear, or nobility. Are they doing what's easy or what's right? Do they strive for purity in their hearts and minds or are they acting out of judgmental self-righteousness? Do they focus on living a life that brings glory to God or to themselves? Is truth more important to them than ego. Are their hearts filled with gratitude or dissatisfaction and jealousy? Is their driving force a peaceful faith or a fearful reaction? Is their time in prayer and Bible study based in some legalistic check list that earns them godly Brownie points, or does it flow from a heart of love, faith, and gratitude for what the Lord has done for us? It's not that children are mature enough to manage such complex ideas at all times, but it I do believe it is in their best interest to lay a foundation of self reflection so they can make decisions with an honest and surrendered heart before the Lord.

There are several verses in Romans 14 & 15 that make my next point, but the Bible is literally loaded to the gills with supporting passages that give me my next parenting paradigm.

Romans 14
1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 15
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

And here's one of my favorite Bible passages to-the-max.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

THAT is how I want to raise my children to think. I want the Holy Spirit to fill them with them fruit of the Spirit and other godly virtues of the heart so much so that they are compelled to love and serve others humbly with compassion, faith and trust in God to effect any change that needs to happen. I don't want them to bare the burden of fixing society or their church or their neighbor or feel the fear or powerlessness of watching the world spin out of their control toward an end that the bible already says is set in stone. With Christ there is an eternity to live in a utopia we can not create now no matter how hard we fight.

So, as for me and my house (of course, Stephen is not only on board but leading the charge) we will not fight. We will trust and seek to flesh out the fruit of the spirit, teaching, instructing, guiding, encouraging with compassion, patience, and humility with each and every person that God puts into our lives along the way.

On a practical level, here's how I use these passages when teaching my children how to relate to the church. The older the kids get, the more they are aware of issues like disrespectful or mean children, friends with divorcing or never married parents and blended families, kids who don't come to church regularly or who have parents who don't come to church. I know there was a time when I would have tried to structure out of their lives both the personal impact each situation could have on them and even the awareness of them. However, I am shifting my approach to be one that disciples them on how to view each situation and each person with the compassion we would want others to have on us.

There is a kid at church with a strong and not very enduring personality who frightens and frustrates my children. This child never does them physical harm, but disrespectfulness and unruly behavior upsets them (despite the fact that they can exhibit these behavior themselves at times). I have, in the past, tried to make sure they didn't have to come in contact with kids like this. I was afraid of the influence they could have on my sweet children or of the damage they could do to them and tried to maintain control of the situation. However I have decided that someone needs to love up on this kid, so why not us? Stephen and I have since sat down with the kids at different points and discussed the sad family situation this child endures and why that would manifest itself in someone's behavior. "Hurt people hurt people" is one of my favorite sayings. It easily breaks their young hearts to imagine going through what this poor kid has been through, and even though the child's behavior still seems an injustice to them, I can see them trying to be brave and include unruly children whenever they can work up the courage.

When they ask about a child who does not have a Christian parent or one parent is missing or has run off, rather than casting judgment on the offending individual, we talk about the hurt that brought them to that point and pray for them that God would deliver them from that so they can make choices that free them up to live a glorified life. When I see my children's hearts break for hurting people rather than shooting off some judgmental comment, tears fill my eyes. They are so little and they so easily get something that alluded me for so long. When I see my children look at people who are not dressed as they are dressed or colored as they are colored or are morbidly obese or super model thin or covered in pimples or missing limbs and realize that they already don't make value judgments or fear or feel insecure because of their differences, then I know they are getting it. They are not filled with the frustration that I believe many church kids feel when they are raised by Christian parents to cast judgment on everyone around them (bless their hearts) in the name of Jesus. Why would they want to go to church where everyone stews in the frustration of the failings of those around them and lives in fear of how everything could possibly effect their own future? I know I didn't want to, and if not for the love for the body of Christ I saw in my parents even to the point of humbling themselves in apology for their own mistakes on that road, I very well might not be where I am today. . . In a place where I myself owe apologies to those I have hurt, and where I strive toward doling out forgiveness as liberally as it has been given.

For the rest of my kids' lives they will run across troubled people, Christians and non-Christians alike, homosexuals, pro-choicers, liberal democrats, rich, poor, ugly, beautiful, talented, paralyzed, immodest, tattooed, famous, unloved, etc., and I believe if we want the church to look like what the Bible calls us to, then we have to love all of the diverse people He sends our way and trust HIM to work and move in their lives as well as our own. By all means, teach, instruct, guide, encourage everyone in the truths of the Word, but with the compassion, humility and patience we want others to have with us. The day I knew I was on the right track with the kids was the day they came to me with a story about some friends of their grandma's who had been robbed at a Zaxby's chicken restaurant. They wanted to add the robber to their prayer list. It was honestly their hearts that the robber come to know Jesus so he wouldn't be so sad that he felt he had to steal anymore. He's still there, on our prayer list, right between the names of two loved ones they want to come to know Jesus, and that seems completely right to them.

On a more solemn note I want to state something more explicitly than what I have alluded to throughout this blog update. Of course, there are phenomenal, loving, godly, example setting parents whose children make the decision to walk away from Lord. Even our perfect heavenly father endures the majority of His creation turning their backs on Him. It's foolish to believe there is a fool proof plan. I just want a plan, a paradigm to guide me on this journey based on what the Lord has been teaching me in His word.

It's also impossible to escape the incredible importance of the most pivotal part of my plan. Prayer. It's something I have been covered, bathed, lavished in my whole life by the generations of godly parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and one God fearing, amazing great-great grandmother who died when I was a child. Surely that has played more of a role than I know in my own life, and it's what offers me the most hope for my children. It's only through my faith in God's ability to redeem all of these parenting mistakes I make along the way that my children have any hope at all.

Lastly, if my children do decide to go their own way, my prayer is that I will show them that same love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (based in my faith, hope, and trust in the Lord and His ability to complete the good work He began in them) that I have all along been teaching them to have for others. . . Where is the pause button on these innocent little creatures of mine?


-One morning during school when I was particularly sleepy, I accidentally fell asleep in my chair at the table while the kids where doing their reading. I don't know how long I dozed, but when I woke up, the kids were gone. Before I got up to chase them down, I had a good laugh to myself trying to visualize the quiet, probably mimed out, plan they made to escape while they had the chance.


-Has become obsessed with earning and then showing off his money. The first words out of his mouth when someone comes to the door to visit is, "Hey! You wanna watch me county my money!"
-When asked, he will say his favorite subject is math, though I am certain it is break time.
-44" or 3'8" tall
42.2 pounds
-learned to swim and dive in the deep end this summer.
-is an amazing reader like his brothers. All three of my boys have picked it up with ease.
-LIVES to boss Eli around. It's funny to see his bossy side because in any other context he is mostly go-with-the-flow and seeks drama reduction.
-takes no interest in structured, extra-curricular activities outside of our home quite yet.
-Still has a passion for Cars from the Cars movies.
-Does not like to be without his siblings. When he had to go to a friends house without them (the rest of the kids were being watched by others) he sat on the couch until I got there to pick him up. He wouldn't play or eat lunch.

Evan: Mom, have you ever known anyone to pick their nose so deeply that they came out with some brain?
Me: No, Son. That is impossible. Your nasal cavities do not end in your brain. A drill would be necessary for that.
Evan: Well, what if someone didn’t know where their brain was and accidentally went into it with a drill?
Me: You mean if someone were picking their nose with a drill and it accidentally went through to their brain?
Evan: Yes.
Me: (Sigh) My love, I think I am going to need to have some adult conversation this weekend.

-Weighs 64.6 pounds.
-52"/ 4' 4" tall
-finished his first soccer season with style. I could not have been more proud of him. He went to every game with the best attitude, and even when asked to play for the opposing team so they could have a fair game, he did it happily. I watched other boys pitch fits and disrespect the coaches, but Evan stood out as being an extra great kid. I was so proud of him!
-his favorite subject in school is definitely science and would forego his whole future to never do another Math problem or hand write another sentence again.
-4 days before his 8th birthday asked for the first time if he could take a walk around the neighborhood by himself. We let him go. It was a proud moment for him. I know most kids are doing that younger, but we just wait for stuff like that until they at least ask.
-About 6 times a day I have an argument with Evan that ends with me exclaiming, “For the final time, Son, that doorknob/backyard rock/sparkly sequins/nut/bolt GI Joe hubcap is not real gold/silver/rubies. We are not holding out on you. We are just NOT a precious metal sort of family!”
-After a weeklong unit study on 9/11, I took my kids to see the 3,000 flags Kennesaw Mountain had set up to represent the 3000 people who died that day. After my heartfelt sermon on the profound loss of life the nation saw unfold in front of them on the news that day, Evan says, “Mom, I’m a lucky man.” I was so touched I said, “Ooooooh, Evan! That’s so neat, why do you say that?” Evan: “Well, because I was born in a month with 31 days instead of just 30”. . .Me: “Ooooooh, dear me. . . Let’s go”.


-"Mommy, when I hear that someone is hurt, my brain just can't help but twirl around and pray for them".
-About once a month Julia will come to my bedroom door in the middle of the night and ask me to pray that God would help her to stop having "bad thinks".
-Loves, loves, loves gymnatics. It's strange because last year she hated ballet despite an awesome teacher who adored her, but this year I could swear her young, indifferent, teacher is addicted to Meth and yet Julia loves it. . . I guess it doesn't have to make sense. I'm glad she's happy.
-"Mom, after you told me I could only have one piece of gum, Satan whispered in my heart that I should take two, and I just said, 'No Satan, I will not obey you!' And so I didn't."
-is going through a hardcore baby talk phase. More than half of what comes out of her mouth is baby talk and we are constantly on her case about it. Once I paid her 10 cents to quit for a day and it seemed to cure her for a couple of weeks, but it's back hard-core.
-Julia likes school in general. She does not seem to have a favorite subject just yet.
-loves to help in the kitchen.
-finally worked up the courage to learn to ride her bike this fall.
-47" or 3'11" tall
-44.8 pounds
-Something you don't necessarily want to hear coming from your daughter in the bathtub down the hall when you are too sick to do much about it, " ELI! I just baptized you!!"
-"Mom, when I'm old enough, I want to be the one who cooks while you relax."

-Me: Julia, come up with a sentence that uses the word two. For example "I have TWO friends named John."
Julia: OK, "I have TWO friends named Joy."
Me: Why don't you come up with a sentence that is completely your own, like, "TWO windows let in more light."
Julia: Ok, "TWO windows let in more light in my room."
Me: Girly, I need to hear a sentence that it totally and completely your own using the word "TWO". Not just the same I said, but totally your own.
Julia: OH, OK, OK, OK!! "I have TWO friends who are my windows."
Me: Let's move on.


-I think I can officially say he is left handed. There are just so few left handed people in either side of our families that it makes him quite unique.

-carries a phone he made out of LEGO's with him everywhere you goes so he can "play Angry Birds" anytime he gets the notion.
-While doing a pre-school lesson with his grandmother, he made her wait on him while he took a call on his LEGO phone. At the end of his imaginary conversation he said, "I have a project here that I am working on. I have to put my phone away". He "hung up" and joined her again for his lesson.
-Does school with his Grandma, but would always rather be the master of his own schedule.
-"Daddy, when I grow up when I'm 5 I can break my nostrils in half."
-Apparently "accidentally" unloaded an entire, new, bottle of his shampoo into the bathtub and "skated around in it" with all of his clothes on. Of course, the wild scream and laughing must have been an accident as well.
-39 1/2" tall. 3'3" tall.
-39.2 pounds
-loves to dress up as batman.
-Began reading this summer at 3 years and 3 months old and does amazingly well at it. I need to take an updated video of it.
-Has mostly outgrown his napping in random places phase, but every once in a while it still happens. There are still a few photos of him zonked out in the craziest places included in this update.
*Don't forget that all of my photos are now posted to Phanfare, so to view them you have click the link below*p>

Click HERE to view the photos for this update on Phanfare

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whoa, Nelly! Where did time go?

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!!



I still tear up thinking about that sweet moment with those precious girls. I have pictures of her party included in the photo section of the update.

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.

Random Stuff:

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.


-seems to have weathered a 6 or 8 month span of being incredibly emotional and crying at the drop of a hat for his more characteristic laid back way of handling everything.

-"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.


-insists on doing her own hair, and usually does a decent enough job for me.

-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?


Now for something a little different. Blogger is not made to be the kind of picture catalog that I try to force it to be for me, so this time I am going to try to use our wonderful online photo album in conjunction with my blog and see how that works out. There are so many photos that mean so much to me over the last several months since my last update, and I knew putting them on blogger was going to be a major headache. I am hoping that this turns out to be a much happier alternative in the long run. Don't miss the captions under each picture as you click through.

Click HERE to view the photos on Phanfare