First Day of Preschool!

It’s Finn’s first day of preschool today!

I did the obligatory first-day-of-school pictures last night since Jeff was home and then I wouldn’t need to be rushed.  Besides, it was the night of his Preschool Open House, so maybe that really is the first day of pre-school?

As usual, Finn stayed perfectly still while I took his picture:



Here are my favorites:


Man, for a stay-at-home mom, I sure do get out a lot.  Okay, not really a lot.  But more than I thought I would.  When I was picturing this stay-at-home mom thing of 4 kids, I thought I’d, you know, STAY at home all day.  That the hassle of getting 4 kids out the door would be enough for me to just stay put.

But that isn’t really panning out that way.  After all, you can go kind of stir crazy if you don’t get out.

And it’s hard to train kids how to act in public if YOU NEVER TAKE THEM OUT INTO PUBLIC.  So we’ve been going to the library 2-3 times a week.  The grocery store once or twice a week.  (But always short trips – no need to tempt fate!).  We’ve met Grammy and Papa for lunch at Chic-Fil-A a few times.  I’ve taken all 4 to the pediatrician’s office twice.

And now that fall is here, new opportunities to go out are presenting themselves.  I’ve started attending a Bible study on Tuesday mornings at my church.  And in a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending a MOPS group twice a month at my church.  And this week, Finn starts pre-school three afternoons/week.

That gives us plenty of chances to be up and about.  I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it.  My kids thrive on routine and knowing what to expect (I think most kids do), so these ventures out were very rocky at first, but have gotten much better.  There’s still definite room for improvement, but we’re doing well!

Benjamin: 2 months old!

(Wow…I’ve become a once-a-month blogger, eh?  Yikes!)

I’m late on this post by quite a bit — we had his 2-month well baby visit this week, so I waited to get stats from that!

I gotta tell ya: He’s probably my ‘easiest’ baby so far.  I don’t know if that’s just because I’m more experienced.  Or because I’m a stay-at-home mom now (and have the luxury of time).  Or because he really is just that easy.  But I’ll take it!

His scrapbook page:


A recent photo:

(or two!)


Training them kiddos

One of the major things that made me realize that I needed to become a stay-at-home mom is the behavior of my oldest 2.  (They’re 2.5 and 4.)  It just hit me one day that they had traits and behaviors that I wanted addressed and I was the best one to do it.

Kids of all ages need their moms – I’m not discounting the mother/child connection at all.  But I think that in the beginning of a child’s life, mom is mostly there to keep the child alive and thriving.  Meet their emotional needs?  Yes, of course.  For sure.

But as the child gets older, it’s less about meeting physical needs and more about training them.  Shaping their behavior.  Socializing them.  Helping to root out negative tendencies like selfishness, temper tantrums, and outbursts.

I was facing an uphill battle when it came to that.  I haven’t been diligent in the small stuff when they were younger and it grew into bigger things as they got bigger. It’s just snowballed into something really difficult to correct.

I realized that the daycare was in charge of that molding for far more hours in a week than I was.  I knew of most of their daycare teachers, but not all of them.  And I didn’t know them very well. Each teacher had their own way of doing things and sometimes my ways were different than theirs (not necessarily good or bad, but different brings confusion).  Each day, I got a few seconds with their teachers and a written report. Essentially, I was left with 1-2 hours a day during the work week and then the weekends to influence my kids.

It wasn’t enough.  Not based upon the behavior that I was seeing.  Each kid is different.  Each kid needs different things.  Each kids thrives under different circumstances.  And mine weren’t thriving under the situation we were in.

So now that I’m at home, I’m trying to be intentional about training them.

  • Helping them manage emotions (“It’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to throw things.”).
  • Being very clear on expectations.  Around all kinds of things, even dinner (We don’t talk when daddy is praying.  We sit on our bottoms, not spin around on our head.  We don’t take food off others’ plates without asking.  We ask to be excused when we’re done.  We don’t smash banana in our hair (ok–that’s the 15 month old who does that!).)
  • Practicing skills.  Skills like walking near me when we’re in public. Learning to button our own shirts.  Using the bathroom (Stephen is potty training).  Brushing our own teeth.  Things that used to be easier for me to just do for them, given the time constraints that I had.

It definitely has some rough moments that turn into rough hours and rough days, but it’s been eye-opening and rewarding.  And I think maybe we’re starting to see progress.  Little by little – it’s going to take time!

Last year, I wrote that Samuel might have craniosyntosis and need the same surgery that Finn had.  Well, the decision is still to be determined.  We did a CT scan last fall and the results were inconclusive.  His skull wasn’t fused, but his skull bones are more “narrow” than they should be.

So in April, we had an appointment with the cranio-facial surgeons and the results were: still inconclusive.  It isn’t a “slam dunk YES” nor a “slam dunk NO”.  Check back this summer.

Last week, we met again with the team and again the answer is inconclusive.  So rather than solely waiting, we’re getting another CT Scan this week to see what the bones look like on the inside.  Whatever the result is, I just want an answer.  A straight up Yes or a straight up No.  And if surgery is ever going to be needed, then I’d like it sooner rather than later.  Surgery on a 1 year old is easier than surgery on a 5 year old.

Here we (maybe!) go again!

A recent picture of him – the best one that I have that shows what his head shape is now:



So..almost 2 weeks ago now, Benjamin turned 1 month old.  Finally getting the information captured and documented!

His scrapbook page:


A recent picture:

(From the pictures we had taken after he was born — photographer Eve Thrasher.)


One of my facebook friends recently posted this:

“I love my kids but anyone that says they don’t like the “empty nest” didn’t marry their best friend.”

Her youngest child just went off to school for a year and her oldest three are married (and thus out of the home). I don’t know exactly how long they’ve been married, but I’m guessing it’s at least 25+ years.  It’s just always fun to see people happy about great marriages – especially when they’ve been married for more than 2.6 seconds.

I read her status and wondered “How do I get that!?” Not how do I get a great marriage? Not how do I marry my best friend? My question is mostly: “What can I do so that in 25 years from now, when my kid(s) are grown and gone, I’ll still feel like I’ve married my best friend?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. I was reading a book by John Rosemond (called New Parent Power!) that spoke to this briefly:

In the years since World World II, we have become increasingly and neurotically obsessed with the raising of children. Something that used to be a fairly commonsense responsibility has taken on the trappings of science. … Within the child-centered family, the implicit understanding is that the children are its most important members and the parent-child relationship is the most important relationship. …

Well, if you want raising children to be difficult, you need only to put them first. By putting your children first in your family, you guarantee they will become manipulative, demanding, and unappreciative of anything and everything you do for them. …

Again, its a question of priorities. In a two-parent family, the marriage must come first. After all, the marriage created the family, and the marriage sustains it. The marriage preceded the children and is meant to succeed them. If you don’t put your marriage first and keep it there, it’s likely to become a mirage instead.

It’s a concept that’s foundational to most of his advice: the marriage must come first and children should not be the center of the family. It’s what makes parents happier and it’s what makes children happier.

I want that! I want 25+ years to go by and for Jeff & I to send our last one off to college . When we do, I want to say “Love ya kids, but get out! Daddy and I gotta cuddle!”. I don’t want it to be “No kids!  Come back!  Don’t leave me alone with this stranger called Hubby!”

I’m beginning to realize how hard it is to keep your marriage front and center while raising children. Children will take all the attention that you are willing to give them. They don’t start out independent in any way, shape or form. And it is easy to want to give them all your time and energy.  They’re fun – the questions they ask, the smiles that they give, the new milestones that they reach. They’re unique – each child doesn’t something a little bit different and has their own personality. Eventually, their needs can dominate the family schedule with school, church, sports and other events.

Kids are cute, fun, unique and needy. Particularly, the first several months of your first kid’s life are i-n-t-e-n-s-e. At least, for me, it was. You’re learning so many new things. You’re making decisions you’ve never made before. It can take alot of focus. In fact, it can take ALL of your focus if you let it.

How you prevent a kid-center marriage probably doesn’t have a magic formula. There’s no “do these 5 things together and you’ll be fine”. I’d guess there are some generalities though: keep talking, keep having fun, spend time together. How and when you talk is up to you. How and when you have fun is up to you. How and when you spend time together is up to you.

Kids will take all the energy and focus that you let them. Seems to me it is important to give them lots of energy and focus, but not ALL of your energy and focus.  Now that I’m staying at home, I am hopeful that I have more time to focus on my marriage.  That doesn’t mean giving the boys sticks and knives to play with and to ignore them, but to make sure I have time for Jeff too.  Our marriage will sustain our family!