Saturday, November 21, 2015

Deciding To Make Changes

If you are one of the ten people who follow me on Pinterest then you've probably already put this together, but (deep breath...) Steve and I have made the decision to homeschool the girls next year. 

The fact that we have changed our minds so completely about this issue, just confirms that this is a God-thing. We've never been against homeschooling, but we've never felt it was for our family. The people we know who homeschool do it really well, and it always seemed like more than what our family wanted to take on. Honestly, we've just never felt the need. That has definitely changed in our hearts.

In a nutshell, our reason for homeschooling is this...

It's oversimplified, of course, but also such a clear picture of what's in our head when we think of what we want for the little humans who we're responsible for.

So, for my own benefit, for those moments when I think I'm failing, or when I forget why we ever decided to do this, here are some of our reasons for homeschooling:

• First of all, this is not a negative reaction to Bella's current school. We love Eastside, and I am so unbelievably grateful that we were financially able to send Bella there for two years. She has grown and matured and blossomed as a little girl during her time there! We love the teachers, the principal, the Christian education, the other parents - it's a great school that I would continue to recommend to parents who are looking for a Christian school for their children. That being said... 

• I'm ready for school and childhood to not be at war with each other. I hear parent after parent talking in the hallways, in carpool lines, at school plays about the amount of homework their children are struggling with. Over an hour for third grade, two hours for fifth grade. Students are stressed out, exhausted, and over-extended. Parents just seem sad or at a loss. These aren't articles I'm reading; these are real kids and families who go to our school. And it's not entirely the school's "fault"; this is our culture at-large and the expectations that come with false measures of success. I've talked to parents who have their kids in public schools and say the same thing. I want my girls to be kids! I want them to learn and be challenged, yes, but I want them to play and run and be silly! Homeschool gives us the freedom to raise our children with the best of both worlds.

• I'm never being separated from Steve for five weeks again. Steve's schedule may not always be as intense as it was this past Fall, but his job will always include some sort of travel. I don't ever want our family to be broken up for that long again. I don't care if we're doing school in a hotel in the middle of Tennessee - we may not always travel with him, but homeschooling means we can if we want to. I love the freedom that comes with that!

• My Instagram feed. No, not the pictures with the pretty filters...if I look back through my photos, it's hard to find one of Bella. I miss her. I don't know if it's God changing my heart or that I've become a little more of a hippie with each new little human or a combination of both, but I like my kids. Sure, they drive me crazy, and exasperate me, and there are plenty of times when I wish I could scream at them without scarring them for life, but they're also hilarious and smart and weird and loving and so much fun! I hate sending Bella to school every morning. We don't want to form our own little cult or anything, but we want to enjoy our kids for as long as we can.

• Financially, it's a plus. I'm pretty sure I saw happy, little dollar signs in Steve's eyes when I first brought up the issue of homeschooling. (He tried his best to hide them!) We pay almost $700 a month for Bella's private school, and in two years, Evelyn would be an additional $500 on top of that. (And that doesn't include, uniforms, curriculum fees, registration fees, etc.) That's a lot of money. And in my mind, it's always been totally worth. I was raised in a Christian school, and I've always wanted that for my children. But as we started talking and praying about homeschooling, it was hard to ignore the financial benefit. It would give our family freedom to do other things, while also getting an education...we could choose some of the most expensive curriculum for Bella's entire year for what we currently pay in one month of tuition.

• We're okay if it's a total disaster. (Okay, not o-kay, but you get the idea...) Here's the thing: if we do this for a year and decide we must have been very, very wrong about what we thought God was telling us to do, then we go back to a school that we've loved or explore any number of other options. We're in the incredible position of not being stuck with just one thing. I'm excited about homeschooling, and I think it will be a wonderful success, but if it's not, we can walk away without too much baggage.

• A few "extras"...not being on anyone else's daily schedule, having a better grasp on the outside influences our children are facing, being able to travel and visit family whenever we want, not wasting time with things that are just a part of a traditional school day...there are a lot for us. 

This choice is not for every family, and I don't think that our decision to homeschool makes us better parents than anyone else, but I also know that this is the right choice for us. 

Evelyn's Ballet Extravanganza!

Evelyn started ballet this year and solidly confirmed what the world already knew: little girls in ballet outfits are the cutest thing ever. (Along with babies in footie PJ's and babies in just diapers.)

Last week was "Observation Week", so Mel and I got to go in and watch her class. So fabulous! And hilarious and adorable! And yes, I did take a bajillion pictures, so you're going to have to either drink the crazy punch with me, or skip this post. But I'm telling you now, there's nothing cuter than this...

After a final curtsy (Be still, my heart!), they change into tap shoes. And then it's much more hilarious than heart-stopping. Because little girls have no. rhythm. And because Evelyn kept pushing her belly out like a little bruiser.

At the very end, Miss Lisa gets everyone into a little "prayer flower", and they say their goodbye prayer. Just stop.

We love Miss Lisa! She is such a sweet, godly presence in Evelyn's life, and she treats these girls like they're her own.

Fall Family Pictures

I love me some family photo shoots! Woo! The girls' birthdays are exactly 6 months apart from Henry's birthday, so I love doing Fall pictures and Spring pictures, and pretty much getting them when each little human is having a birthday. 

Sarah has taken our pictures the last few years, and she has a great eye for "What Mom would want". She catches hairs out of place, or wrinkled dresses. She also does great putting us at ease when she thinks are smiles are too forced. 

These are a couple, but I think they came out super cute!

November In Pictures

Here are some "real life from my phone" pictures from this month! Love these pictures just as much as our pretty, posed ones, because they are such a great "moment in time" shot of the little humans. 

Henry's Baby Dedication

The second Sunday in November was baby dedication at our church. Plenty of babies are raised just fine without being formally dedicated, but I think it's a special thing for the parents. I love getting to pause, and really think about how you want to raise your children and what you want for them. 

Being able to choose a verse for them forces you to go beyond the thought of, "Well, of course, I want them to be godly" to really putting into words what you want most for their little lives. 

The verses we chose for Henry are Colossians 1:9-10: "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit givesso that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God.

This verse encompasses everything we could ever hope for Henry. Beginning with the phrase, "Ever since we heard about you..." I love that, because it's so true for this baby. Not that you don't pray for every baby, and Henry isn't more special than Bella or Evelyn, but because he came after Lily, he was probably prayed over a little more...from the moment we learned about him.

The girls were excited to be on stage for Henry's special day, but a little crushed when I informed them that I would be picking out their clothes. Bella got a little too excited and started jumping around on the stage, and Evelyn had a permanent facial expression that this was all very beneath her and she was very bored, but for the most part, they behaved.

Steve's mom and dad were able to come down for the weekend, which made it even more special for our family!

We also used our fancy clothes as an excuse to snap some pictures with Grandma and Grandpa!

We love you, Little Man! Your Daddy and I have prayed so many things over your life, and this was a special day when we promised to teach you just how much Jesus loves you!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Henry Turned ONE!

How is this Little Man one already? 

We tried to celebrate his birthday about three different times, and finally pulled it off on Sunday! It was exactly what my mama heart was hoping for - just a few friends coming together to hang out, eat some cake, and take a ridiculous amount of pictures! 

We (Okay, I...) did a woodland theme with foxes and a few moose thrown in for fun!

The party was at 3:00, so we kept snacks simple. His party was originally planned for last week, and I had made a six-layer cake, but then Henry and Evelyn got sick and he had to cancel. So between re-scheduling and all of the baking and cooking I did for Steve-O-Ween, I ave up and just bought a cake that looked "fall-ish". I added the moss and foxes on top.

We set up a backdrop with "woodland" photo props and animals, and it was a lot of fun! 

Matt and Caroline were sick, and Scott had a work trip (Oh, and the Sapps are in Idaho), but we still got to celebrate with Andi and Abby, and Hannah and Casidy. 

And then there was his smash cake! The first time we attempted this was down in Florida, and all he did was stare at the cake. He didn't want to touch it or be anywhere near it. (He was also super tired, so that may have been part of it.)

He did so great this time! The pictures were great and he had fun!

Look how beautiful and messy and "boy" he is!

Happy birthday, you most precious and wonderful little human! You are one of the most amazing things that your Daddy and I have created! We love you so much!