Feeling anxious about hitting publish on this one. 
It's not really tied up with a neat bow, which I hate, 
so taking a cue from C.Jane's book, we'll call this my "First Draft".

There are days when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  I feel like my years of parenting and my parenting confidence have an inverse relationship.  The longer I do this parenting thing, the less confident I feel about how I'm doing it.

In the course of a day I will question: my discipline methods, homeschooling the boys, how much I use social media, what toys we own, how much television we watch, what screen time should look like, the meals I prepare (how nutritious they are), and how to simplify while still making sure the boys' lives are enriched... The list goes on.

And those are my daily concerns.  My long term concerns are far bigger.  Are they kind? Do they empathize? Can they express their feelings properly?  Are they helpful?  Can they complete tasks independently? 

And perhaps most importantly, are they loved?

Do they know it?  Do they feel it?  When they're at their lowest, do they know way deep down that no matter what I love them?


 I remember my wedding day very clearly.  I look back at that girl the way you look at your favorite Hollywood starlet.  I gaze unabashedly at her body, taking in all the tight skin, the flat belly under her pure white dress and the million watt smile that knew nothing of the life that was to come.  I want to take her by the shoulders and shake the sparkle from her smile, and tell her to "get real" or "get ready" for all that life is going to throw at her.

I could never have imagined that in five years time we'd be expecting twins.  Or that three years after that, we'd both be college educated, jobless & expecting our third child.  I miss the naïveté of that beautiful girl.  The way she was so sure life was going to be good to her, and that she could, undoubtedly, handle any challenge that came her way.

Since that day twelve years ago, I've been beat up a bit.  But what bothers me the most aren't the bruises or the way my story has been woven (its made me who I am, so I can't help but love it despite it's darker parts).  No... what bothers me is the sunshiny optimism that was swept away with the storms.


As we prepared this summer for Josh to leave for Alaska for the school year, I had none of the confidence I should have had about my ability to handle the hard times that were surely coming.  I wondered at my ability to take care of our three boys and grow our fourth.  I wondered how I would manage being both mom and homeschooler.  I wondered how I would balance life in the city with the simplicity I fell in love with while living in rural Alaska.

As the weeks have passed with him gone, instead of feeling more confident about how I'm doing with the responsibility currently on my shoulders, I feel the opposite.  More unsteady, more unsure, more unhinged with every day that passes.

I've been having lower back pain for about two months now.  I imagine it's from picking Wyatt up (I can't help myself. He's still my baby!) and my center of gravity changing with the pregnancy as it's progressed.  This pain lead me to the doctor and then a massage therapist.  When I saw the massage therapist she told me that my ribs are out, in addition to a million other things wrong with my body, and that that happens when your body is curling inward, toward a fetal position. 

Since then I've worked really hard on opening my chest, standing taller and sitting up straighter.  I find that it's really uncomfortable (not physically, but emotionally) for me to do these things.  It's like I don't think I deserve to take up space in this world.  What a terrible, terrible realization.

I wonder, if the table were turned, what that girl in her beaded gown would think as she looked at me a decade into the future.  Would she recognize me?  Would she pity me?  Would she shake her head and ask, "How could it be?"

Maybe, just maybe, she'd hug me and lend me some of her confidence. 
Heaven knows I could use it.


Homeschool -- For Reals Now

 This morning I woke up, fed the kids, and immediately jumped into lesson planning for the week.  Josh sent my Saxon reading, our printer and the 100 Easy Lessons for Wyatt when he got to Alaska, but since he shipped it Media rate (a huge money saver!) it took a while to get here.  Well it has arrived, so now we get to start school for reals.

I spent the morning sorting through the twins' reading curriculum and after my coffee/blogging break, I will resume working on their math curriculum and refreshing myself on 100 Lessons, since it's been a few years.

Currently the boys have been working through their Scholastic First Grade Workbook (as opposed to doing their Saxon Math & Saxon Reading).  It's a good book, and I enjoy using it on occasion, but doing it for four weeks straight proved quite boring and I think we're all ready for some more challenging material.  We are SO happy to have everything we need to move forward to SECOND GRADE! (Still can't believe that they're in second grade.)

 Yesterday my dad worked for hours helping me build these new Ikea shelves (and a shoe shelf for downstairs), and the twins helped me organize everything. I am so excited to have all our homeschool stuff out of boxes and easily accessible to all of us.

 I thought since I am all fired up about homeschool (again) I'd do a post about our homeschool days and what they look like.
One thing we do every evening, regardless of it being a school day or not, is bedtime stories.  The kids each get to pick a book and I read them once they're jammies are on and their teeth are brushed.  I have to tell you, story time is much more exciting now that we are near a library!

Now that our Saxon curriculum arrived, I'll be using the library for more than bedtime stories, though-- I'll be using them to accompany our daily reading lessons.  I am super excited about this!

When we start our school days, right after breakfast, we start with journals.  The boys each have a half lined/half blank journal so they can write about the topic of the day as well as draw a picture to go along with it. This is one of my favorite things I have done as a homeschooler.  Most days I let the boys write whatever is on their mind, but sometimes I offer up a topic.  This year I've decided the twins have to write increasing sentences with each month that passes.  We started with three in August, now four in September and in October it will go up to five.  I think the challenge pleases me as a teacher, and the picture/creativity pleases them as students. It's win-win!  It's also a nice way to ease into our school day.

 As I mentioned above, we'll be using Saxon 2 for reading this year. After using Saxon 1 for first grade, I am so excited to have gotten my hands on Saxon 2.  It's a fantastic curriculum that is really user friendly, covering handwriting, spelling, phonics & everything kids need to know for reading.  I can't say enough good things about it.

 We'll also be using First Language Lessons again this year.  We finished Level 1 last year and will be moving on to Level 2.  What I love about this book is the repetition and simplicity of each lesson.  It's easy to fit in each day and the boys don't groan when I pull it out. (Can I get an amen?)

 The twins' handwriting has taken a turn for the lazy (yikes!) so I got some really simple handwriting workbooks that I love. It has them score their own work, circle the letters they think they did best, and has them practice the letters in a number of ways on each page.

 We've added Sign Language to our list of goals for this year, and I am starting with this simple set of flash cards I got from Amazon.  It helps that I already know sign language (I took it for two years in high school) as does Josh (his sister is Deaf).  My plan is to teach them boys the basics with these flash cards (the alphabet, numbers, and some common signs) as well as teach them the signs to their spelling words as they learn them.  It's a start at least!

 Honestly, what's homeschooling without a little Crayola? I might have gone a little nuts on the markers, but with three sets of busy hands, I wanted all.the.colors at their disposal.  Plus they make me super happy when I pull them out!

 For the read aloud portion of our homeschool day (my favorite part), we're currently working through these three books.  Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado I'm liking now that I've started at the beginning (which is technically for January), but when I was reading September lessons, they were a bit "sinner-focused" and I really don't want to go there with the boys.  So I am picking and choosing as we go along whether I'm going to share the lesson for the day or not.  It's not my favorite.  And if you have another book that would be better for sharing God/Jesus/The bible with the boys, I'd love to hear it.

We're also reading through this book of Aesop's fables.  The boys are really enjoying the stories and I love to hear them try to guess the moral of the story before I read it. Some of their ideas are really insightful.

And lastly, we've started The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages.  We loved (absolutely loved) reading aloud Volume 1 last year, and thus far, Volume 2 doesn't disappoint.  It breaks history down into 1-3 page segments, written in a very readable way that leads to many internet searches (look up Ajanta caves and be held in wonder!) and discussions.

For Wyatt so far, we've been doing his journal together along with a few pages from his Scholastic Kindergarten workbook and really focusing on letter recognition.  He's got most letters down (both names and sounds) so I'm really excited to start teaching him to read.  He's going to do great!

I am also going to be starting the twins' math curriculum soon.  I thought I had everything I needed (I was just waiting to get my printer, which is also a copier so I could make prints from the masters) but when I sorted through it today I figured out I'm missing the first volume of assignments. Grrr! So now I am searching for it online, praying someone somewhere has it.  Meanwhile, we'll keep reviewing and work out of some math books I have on hand.

So that's how homeschooling is shaping up for us this year.  
Lots of great new curriculum as well as some old favorites.
I feel so lucky to be able to educate our boys at home.
I wouldn't want it any other way.


River with Papa Barry

One lucky day my boys and I got to go to the river with my dad.  
It was the most fun!!! And I'm so happy to have these pictures to remember it.


Twins + Twins

Shortly after I found out I was expecting twins, a friend & coworker of mine found out he & his wife were expecting twins as well.  Our boys are six months apart, and for a while my mom watched my kids and their kids on alternating days.  Each summer we try to get the boys together at least once.  This summer we met at a splash pad, Juli, her twins Mason & Orion, as well as my sister and her boys and me and my boys and my mom.  It's crazy how much they grow each year!


Babyham #4 is a...

{Click here if you'd like to see the video}

At 6pm the boys and I met my mom, sister & sister-in-law at my mom's house.  Before we knew it, we were ready for the reveal.  We got Josh on Facetime... Posed for a few pictures...

Counted down... 3...2...1...

And got the surprise of our lives.

I swear to you, I was more surprised at having a girl than I was when we found out we were expecting twins!

I still can't believe it!

Ethan (my nephew) faithfully held Josh up so he could see, and together we found out that our fourth baby will be a little girl.

Wyatt is starting to get excited about the baby, and it melts this mama's heart!

I kept tearing up when I would talk about it.
Total shock and disbelief!

I knew Josh would be impressed with Roxanne's confetti.
She hand cut it. And it was beautiful.
For sure, it was the good confetti!

She's the best sister I could ask for.  She made the day so special for me!

And my sister-in-law Julie is the best sister-in-law-- she bought a gift for a boy and for a girl. She is also a mom of three boys, and assumed (like me) that I'd have a boy. So on the tag for the girl gift she wrote, "A girl? There is a God and he does love us! ;)"

I feel so blessed to have been able to find out alongside Josh even though he's not here.  And so blessed to have my dreams of having a daughter come true!  Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers & comments the last year as I struggled to get to this point!  God is so good!

Mom of 3 Boys

Today is my last day as a mom of three boys.
Tomorrow I will wake up knowing if that number has been upped to four boys,
or if I'm going to get to try my hand at parenting a daughter.

How precious is Wyatt's hand on my belly?

I have a feeling that #4 will be it for our family.  
Knowing that, I do feel anxious to have a daughter because I'd love to experience that.

However, there is something special about being a mom to all boys.  It's like a club with an exclusive membership.  We smile in solidarity to each other at the store, knowing the three wrestling matches that required breaking up before loading them into the car and herding them into the grocery store.

And when those boys we have are sweet? When they have tender moments? Something about them being boys makes those moments even more precious.  Like the other night when Wyatt, having proclaimed earlier that he hated babies, fell asleep holding the baby I couldn't resist buying from a second hand shop in town.

He's gonna be a great big brother. 
In time.

Knowing my days as a mom to three are limited, I am trying to enjoy them.  Their energy, the comfortable familiarity we have with each other, and how much they can now do for themselves.

They are full of joy
(like yesterday when I let Logan ride in the front seat during the car wash)

and bring me so much happiness 
(something about a new pair of Converse just makes me smile!)

 Tonight, in about two hours, I will go to my mom's house, where my sister has planned an elaborate gender reveal party for me.  I will FaceTime Josh and my boys will open containers full of pink or blue confetti, revealing to all of us what Babyham #4 is.

Tomorrow, I'll be able to throw one of those lists of names away.
It's so exciting!

At the ultrasound my mom and I had to practice some serious self restraint to not peek when the tech was checking the gender. Baby waved at me as she wrote down on a slip of paper the gender and slid the ultrasound picture with it into an envelope that I would later deliver to my sister. 

After my appointment, we dropped of the envelope and my sister got to work planning our little get together (just my parents, sister & sister-in-law) where our three sweet boys will tell the world if they're getting a brother or a sister.

Wyatt wants a boy, Jack thinks it's a girl, and Logan is fine either way.  I was thinking boy, boy, boy all the way, but now that the big day is here... I just don't know!

The main concern Josh and I had was it being a) healthy and b) a singleton. Both of those were confirmed at today's ultrasound, so ultimately, we are happy parents-to-be.

 Soon enough that baby will be in our arms.  In the meantime I am going to enjoy the heck out of the three that God already blessed us with.  Rambunctiousness & all!

Like... riding Papa's motorcycle...

(Basically from here on out... please pardon all the pictures. With Josh gone in Alaska, I want him to see all he can here on the blog, so I'm going to be less choosy than normal!)

 Writing their names in school...
(Wyatt did this all.by.himself!)

And of course... experiencing baseball for the first time.
Jack had to miss the first game because of his injury.  But Logan (my sweet leftie) did great!  

I know it's cliche to say, but truly all I want is a healthy baby.  After two miscarriages, I know all too well how many things have go right to produce a perfect baby.  And as much as I'd love to be a mom to a little girl, being a mom to little boys has brought me so much joy & adventure the last seven years, I would LOVE to have another just like the three I have.  I just don't want anyone to worry that one result or another is going to leave me disappointed.  I went into #4 knowing I had a 50/50 chance and quite honestly I expect it to be a boy!

Tomorrow's post will be SO exciting!
Stay tuned!!!