The first few days Josh was here over Christmas break, there was rain. And rain. And rain. And rain.  But finally, near the end of his trip, we had sunshine.  So we took full advantage, despite the cold!

Day One:

{This maternity coat is awesome.  36 weeks & it zips up no problem.  Plus it's warm as all get out!}

{Daddy Tunnel}

Day Two:

These boys love their daddy so much.  As a guy, he just speaks their language.  He loves to wrestle and tickle and be loud.  He loves to ride bikes, go on walks and toss a football.  He loves to help them perfect their throws & catches in baseball and can't wait to introduce them to more sports as they get older.  

He is, in a word, perfect.  

They are so lucky to have such an awesome dad who loves them so much, and who understands boy behavior.  The days we went out to play, it was cold.  Like, in the 20's with the wind chill, I think.  But he knew they needed to get out of the house and play. So we did.  He's good for us like that.  

And that's why we're so darn excited that he got home this morning!


Homeschooling Nerd

(This post has been in my drafts for quite some time...)

LOVE that Jack's a writer like his mama!

I am a total nerd.  I'm currently in two book clubs, and have at least three homeschooling books on my nightstand that I can't wait to dig in to.  I love learning about the brain and how it learns, and have no shame for my (insane, ridiculous) love of books.

So when I was teaching the boys their Saxon Reading lesson on Monday, I got all giddy with excitement as I imagined sharing all the things I'm they're learning this year.  Seriously, though, when I start to feel like I can't homeschool another day, it's my own desire to learn right alongside them that keeps me going.  It's amazing how much more you learn when you are invested.  I know I "learned" most of this stuff when I was in school, but now that I'm an adult and it interests me, it's like I've discovered a brand new world!

Everything you never wanted to know about alphabet:

  • We use the Roman or Latin alphabet, which some say is the easiest to read.
  • Sequoyah developed an alphabet that has one symbol for every sound, making it easier to learn how to read and spell.  (As I've taught our three boys to read, I will admit there are times I've wished we used the Sequoyah alphabet!)
  • There are 26 letters in the Western alphabet, and the English language contains at least 40 sounds.
  • Every word must contain a vowel, but must not necessarily contain a consonant.

And everything you never wanted to know about the history of the English language:

  • The first people to live in England were called the "Celts".
  • The country was called "Britannia" at that time.
  • The Celts were primitive people who had no cities or roads.
  • The Romans took over Britannia and ruled for many years.
  • The Romans left Britannia around the year 400.
  • When the Romans left, the Picts attacked.
  • The King of Britannia hired the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes to help fight the Picts, and Britannia won.
  • The Angles and the Saxons decided to fight the Britons and take over Britannia.
  • The land became known as "Angle-Land," and eventually England.
  • The Germanic language spoken in England at that time became known as "Anglo-Saxon" or "Old English."
  • ... Did you follow all of that?

Until you have tried to teach someone to read, you truly cannot understand the crazy, frustrating ways our language makes and breaks its very own rules.

People often say to me that they could never homeschool, but I assure you (especially if you started with preschool) that you can easily learn as they learn and actually enjoy the process!

Lastly in this homeschooling post, I want to share a series I read this fall that really resonated with me and made homeschooling feel feasible with my growing family:
Homeschooling Inspiration Series 
If you're needing some inspiration, please click there & follow all these amazing mama's who are paving the way for you!



Big Brothers With a New Little Sister

A friend of ours sent a letter, asking the boys what they thought Wyatt should know about being a big brother and what they thought Carly ought to know about earth.
38 Week Photo
Courtesy of Jack Sawyer

These are their answers:

What does Wyatt need to know about being a big brother?
Wyatt should not be rude.  And he should learn how to read.

What does Carly need to know about life on earth?
Earth is a good place.  And that there is no monster under the bed.

I can't wait to hold her and play with her.


What does Wyatt need to know about being a big brother?
Wyatt should be responsible.  Wyatt should learn to read soon.

What does Carly need to know about life earth?
Earth is a very special place to be.
You have family & friends on earth.

I can't wait until I get to meet her.  I will teach her how to read.


A throwback photo of Wyatt cause I'm feeling sentimental
Are you excited to finally be a big brother?
Yes, because sometimes I will get to be the boss.


Their answers cracked me up. Mostly the twins' answers, because I asked them separately, and they both said the same thing about learning to read. 

And Wyatt's answer cracked me up because, well, that's Wyatt!


Funnies (& I Answer My Own Questions)

I always joke that kids are cute so we don't kill them.

Our School Days:
I love how much light we get in their bedroom
And I think that as kids get older (and less adorable) they get funnier.
Also so we don't kill them.

Family Movie Night!
$15 Goodwill couch-- best purchase ever!
I find this to be true of my kids.  And on the long, hard days, I'm so grateful they're hilarious!

The pictures in this post span the last year (I'm purging my phone in preparation for Carly's arrival) and some come with a funny anecdote, which you'll see in the captions. Enjoy!

First trimester was hard on me:
Jack thought I needed a nap and set his bed up for me.
When the twins first started playing baseball, there was a lot of cheering and reminding (read: nagging) from their mother.  Reminders to hustle, pay attention and work hard.  At the first game, it was hilarious to sit back and hear Wyatt doing all the encouraging: 

"Do it Jack!" 
"Be as strong as you can, Logan!"
"Keep hustling! Keep hustling!"

Wyatt melts pretty much everyone around him.  His mama in particular.  "I just love laying with you, mom," he always says when we snuggle.

And this summer when we were talking about his Aunt Julie he goes, "Yeah, I love her."  So matter of fact.  So sweet.

Let's have a stick fight.
Of course.
Logan has been pretty freaked out about sirens of any kind since we came back from the village, where there are no sirens.  In addition to having a heart attack every time he hears one, he calls ambulances "Ambliances" which I find adorable. I'll be kind of sad when he starts calling them the right name.

I found them like this, all on their own.
Be still my heart.
I love getting little insights into Wyatt's brain.  This summer he told his Uncle Samuel, "We came three in a pack," referring to himself and his brothers.  It was so precious.

We have a resale shop here in Vancouver called Spanky's.  The first time I was taking the boys there, Wyatt asked, "At Spanky's do they spank you?"

Then just last week he goes, "I love this store.  It has my favorite name," and then he giggled.

Jack's Santa bears--
They've been with him since he was six months old
Logan's not the only one who says cute things wrong.  For months now Jack has said "Mattering" instead of "depending on".  For example: "I'll eat that for lunch tomorrow mattering if there is any left."

He and Logan also both confuse "should" with "should not" and "could" with "could not".  It's really frustrating when they're talking to someone who doesn't know they struggle with it.  For instance they'll say, "You shouldn't have said you wanted some!" but they mean "You should have said you wanted some."  I am hoping as they learn more about contractions it will help!

My dad was a HUGE help (see him holding Wyatt's hand)
 during the boys' fall baseball season.
Logan says "worst favorite" instead of "least favorite".  So he likes to ask people, "What's your worst favorite food?" Or "What's your worst favorite car?"

I was so proud of those big boys of mine!
They jumped right into baseball with no experience.
Logan also says, "Main Society" instead of "Humane Society", which is where Grandma got her kitty this summer. And when he was at my sister's house playing with my nephew's toys, he reported back to me that he had played with the "Chameleon Falcon" instead of "Millennium Falcon".

What our bathroom looks like most days...
Sigh.  That's life with kids!
I am working with them on proper English, but we've still got a way to go.  For instance, they still say, "I petted the cat," as well as "Then we go'd to the store."  And when Logan in particular talks about something that "fit" at the store, he uses the past tense "fat".   "I bought these shoes cause they fat me."  (Like "sit" & "sat".)

Can you spot my children???
Not something funny, but something I'd like to note is that the twins can now tie their own shoes!  Jack does two bunny ears and Logan goes around the tree.  I was really proud of myself for teaching Logan cause he's a lefty, and that can be tough! But they are super pro and even tie Wyatt's sometimes. 

Wyatt started the summer doing nothing for him self.  Now he can clear the table, put on his own underwear & clothes (even socks!) and if I untie them, he can put on his own shoes, as well as his own coat.  It's exciting to see so much independence blooming in the three of them.

Papa's work goggles.  Super trendy right now.
We were playing animal guess and I spy with our cousin Ferris when the game changed to Guess the Superhero.  When it was my mom's turn, she said, "This person is really beautiful" and Logan immediately said smugly, "My mom."  We all cracked up.  She was going for Wonder Woman... but we all agreed that Logan's answer was so sweet that it had to the right one.

My boys looking out our bedroom window in Alaska...
I do miss that view!
We were driving to the beach this summer to see my grandparents when out of nowhere, Wyatt, referring to all the cows in Tillamook (a dairy town we pass through on the way to Rockaway) says, "Holy whack-a-hot-dog!"  We were in stitches over that one and still say it all the time for a laugh.

Today at school Logan asked me, "Mom, what's the long car that fancy people ride in?"   He was drawing a limo and wanted to know what it was called.

Wyatt playing at the Lego table in my bedroom in Alaska.
I love how he's sitting.
Wyatt doesn't have the best attitude about school some days.  I try not to push him too hard considering he's only four, and teaching him to read is kind of just something we're doing for fun.  But earlier this week I was trying to explain to him that when he does something challenging, it's good for his brain.  So I drew a picture of his brain and made all these connecting squiggly lines to show how he gets new connections and learns new things when he does hard work.  Fast forward two days and when I told him to get his reading book off the shelf, he goes, "I don't want to read today.  It's okay mom, I don't need any lines."

He's too smart for his own good that one!

Taking My Own Quiz:

What time do you (the grown up) go to bed? 
Honestly, I usually go to bed at 11.  I cannot believe that as I always wish I went to bed sooner... but the fact is I'm rarely in there before then.  Some of this late bedtime I blame on Josh being gone-- I hate going to sleep in an empty bed-- and some of it I blame on parenting alone-- the kids are finally in bed, so I want to maximize my "me" time.

What time do your kids go to bed?
The boys bedtime is 7:00pm.  I would say five nights out of seven, they are in bed by then with lights out.  The other two nights, it's after 7, but some time before 8:00.  All three boys are early risers (6:30am, everyday, without fail) so we aim for an early bedtime to be sure they get close to their twelve hours.

What does your children's bedtime routine look like?
Dinner is usually around 5 or 5:30.  Then we do baths/showers (every other day), brush our teeth, get our beds ready, read bedtime stories, say prayers, give hugs & turn on their music.  

How do you go to sleep?  What's your routine?  How do you make yourself go to bed?  (Like instead of watching a fifth episode of Worst Cooks in America...)
Lately, obviously, I have struggled with forcing myself to go to bed.  But my routine consists of tidying my room and the boys' room for the next day; changing into my pajamas; washing my face; taking my vitamins; flossing; brushing & going to the bathroom one last time.  Then I tend to lay in bed and read until my eyes get heavy.  (Which these days doesn't take long.)

Do you pay your kids allowance?
If so, what's your system and how much do they get at each age?

We started allowance in the fall.  Each boy gets $5 a week, with deductions for bad attitude, not listening or not working hard at school.  They can also earn more money if the opportunity presents itself (for instance lately they can earn $1 if they rub my feet!)

What chores do your kids do?
At what age did they start doing those chores?
My boys make their beds, dress themselves, brush their own teeth & put away their own laundry.  They also unload the dishwasher and take out the trash.  Having them do chores brings me a ridiculous amount of joy because it lightens my load so much!

What consequences do you find work best for your kids?
(ie timeouts? writing sentences? losing toys/privileges?)
I am still figuring this out now that I have three fighting with each other, and not just the twins.  Writing sentences or assigning extra chores is currently working for the twins (they hate doing both and are therefore motivated to change their behavior!), whereas with Wyatt I either do Time-Ins (where we spend time together and talk through the problem solving) or revoking of toy privileges.  He hates when he isn't allowed to play with a toy, so that is quite effective with him.   

I find it's hard to strike a balance with punishing them, but not punishing myself (which is why I rarely take screen time away from them --hello! that's how mommy gets a break) and to find a consequence that they dread, but I don't feel guilty dishing out.

What do you find works with your kids to encourage siblings getting along?
This is one area where I am at a total loss.  At times they are so sweet, my little mama heart melts into a puddle.  And other times (like tonight when one brother poured a cup of freezing cold water on the brother that was in the bath tub) they can be so cruel, I am literally left speechless.  

I try my best to encourage kindness, but I'm counting on Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings to give me some solid pointers on sibling relationship improvement when I get around to reading it.

And lastly,

What advice would you offer to new mom/mom to a new baby?
What lessons did you learn after giving birth/bringing home baby that you wish you'd known then?

I know I'm the one who asked for this advice (and I'm about to have another baby!) but I do have a few pieces of advice for new mama's myself.

I would tell a new mom to listen to her gut, and do what works for her.  When I had the twins, I felt like I had to keep breastfeeding so for two weeks I pumped and nursed and pumped and nursed around the clock and felt like I was drowning.  When I finally gave myself permission to quit, I felt like a weight had been lifted.  It made caring for my boys so much easier and more enjoyable.  Plus I could share the responsibility with someone else.  

Somewhat similarly with Wyatt I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but that I didn't want to pump.  So I didn't make myself.  I just fed him, at my breast, whenever he needed it. And he never took a bottle. Ever. In his whole life.  The outcome was quite different (two formula fed babies versus a strictly breastfed baby) but I was doing what I knew was right for me and my baby(ies) at the time.  And that made all the difference for my happiness.  

I would also pass on the advice I always pass on (ever since I heard it from Susan Crawford back in 2008) which is: Hold the baby as much as you can in the first four months.  Let nothing else matter, just hold that baby.  By 4 months they start wanting to look around and hold their heads up and it's just not the same.  So soak up that newborn time.  Hold them during naps.  Let the house go.  Just enjoy.  It's all too fleeting.  




Inquiring Minds: I Need Answers!!!

I am, in a word, nosy.  

It's why I love blogs so much.  I get a glimpse into someone else's world.  It's also why I loved baby-sitting as a teenager and nannying as an adult. I love the glimpse it gave me into other people's lives. In lieu of hanging out in your yard and watching your family through the living room window (that got creepy real quick, didn't it?) I want to ask you some questions.  I want to pick your brains people!


What time do you (the grown up) go to bed?

What time do your kids go to bed?

What does your children's bedtime routine look like?

How do you go to sleep?  What's your routine?  How do you make yourself go to bed?  (Like instead of watching a fifth episode of Worst Cooks in America...)

Do you pay your kids allowance?
If so, what's your system and how much do they get at each age?

What chores do your kids do?
At what age did they start doing those chores?

What consequences do you find work best for your kids?
(ie timeouts? writing sentences? losing toys/privileges?)

What do you find works with your kids to encourage siblings getting along?

And lastly,

What advice would you offer to new mom/mom to a new baby?
What lessons did you learn after giving birth/bringing home baby that you wish you'd known then?


Please, please, please, leave me a comment.  Answer one or all of these and help me explore some different ways of doing things.  If it feels too personal, or your answer gets too long, email (rcunningham18@hotmail.com) or message me!  These questions (especially the ones about bedtime) have been stewing in my brain for months and I'm dying to know what works for you all!

Thank you in advance!