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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

are you sending him to school?

This was the question of the hour last spring when preschool registration rolled around and many parents of three-year-olds had to weigh out this decision. Since Henry was born, I've always pretty much thought I would do preschool at home. For one thing, I didn't think I would be ready to be away from Henry. But then little Warren came along and, believe me, there have been days where I am READY. So Dameon and I had several conversations about what we felt would be best for everyone. We even did a little research on the program in Pella and checked to see if they had any open spots, but we ultimately decided homeschool preschool was best for us. Here are a few of the reasons why:

1. Our move. At the time registration was needing to happen, we didn't know when we would be moving or where we would be living. We knew that some time during the summer we would go through a big transition and needing to have Henry in Pella at a certain time on a certain day added an extra level of stress we really didn't want. Also, we didn't feel like we would be setting him up for the best possible school experience if he had to start school right after moving to a new place and not knowing anyone yet.                                                                                        

2. PEACE. Pella has an awesomely huge homeschool co-op called PEACE. It's Christ-centered and very well-established and a great way to connect with other families.

3. I kinda sorta feel called to at least explore the homeschool route...I think. I have nothing (and I mean NOTHING) against public school. Obviously. Dameon is a public school teacher and I was one for five years. Homeschooling is something I never never never thought I would even consider. Until I had a child. Sorta like being a stay at home mom was something I never never never thought I would even consider. Until I got married and started thinking about having children. But now we think about homeschooling a lot. We don't have any conclusions, really. And we don't need to yet. We just know that it's an option on the table. And we will take things one school year at a time.

4. I have a lot of school stuff. You can ask my father-in-law, if you don't believe me. He has now moved it to three different towns. One plastic tote and awkwardly-shaped easel at a time. (I owe him.)

5. Henry is only three. He has the rest of his whole grown-up life to not have simple days at home with me. I don't want to rush that if I don't have to. Homeschool allows us a lot of flexibility we wouldn't otherwise have.

Our homeschool routine is hardly a routine right now. One thing I know about myself is that I have a hard time staying committed to things I'm not used to doing. I go really guns blazing at first and then I get distracted shortly thereafter. The good thing about our school so far, is that Henry LOVES it. That really helps me stay motivated. We usually do some "formal" school stuff when Warren goes down for nap. The moment we start, Henry starts referring to me as Teacher. The moment we end, he goes back to Mommy. Hilarious! I ordered the Before Five in A Row guide which encompasses lots of concepts and incorporates them into various children's books but I've had a hard time tracking down these books at the local library, so that's been a little frustrating. I recently purchased my friend's ebook called Preschool Journey and she has a super helpful and beautiful blog at I haven't started using it yet but I can already tell you I like the format of the lesson plans. In addition, as a part of PEACE we have activity day each month which is where all the kids gather and have a half-day of exploratory learning with the other children their age. This past Friday included school pictures, so I got to participate in the parent rite of passage that is writing a check to Lifetouch. Peeking around the corner to watch Henry get his picture taken is a whole other blog post just waiting to be written. Oh. my. Can't wait to see how those turn out! PEACE also has several family activities and field trips each month. Today there was a field trip to the vet clinic but it fell right in the middle of nap time and I knew Warren wouldn't make it through, so we opted out.

So, that's a bit of the rundown as far as our preschool plans. I'll try to get more on the ball about getting out the camera (the nice one we never use now that we have iphones) and capture some of our schooling to post here. Coming soon will be pumpkin painting and DIY fall window clings. Fun times!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Honestly, after this extended vacation from the ol' blog I should have an extensive list of funnies from the boys. But my memory continues to get more and more horrible with each passing day. And my hair continues to get more and more frizzy? Correlation? Maybe. Anyway, after sitting here staring at the screen for a good five minutes, these are the ones I came up with:

  • My mom was here for a visit last week and as she was leaving, she hollered out her farewell. Something like, "Bye, Henry! I love you!" To which Henry waved and hollered back, "Wish us luck!"
  • Warren is toddling everywhere now and his personality is showing up more than ever. Kid's got spunk! This is new territory for Henry because now baby brother fights back. Gone are the days of grabbing any and every toy out of his hands and getting away with it. He comes after you and chomps down on your arm or pinches you with his tiny baby talons fingernails. The other day, the two were fighting over a Mickey Mouse notepad. Warren had a hold of it and Henry wanted it back. As they are in the heat of the moment, I'm trying to encourage Henry to take a better approach by saying, "Just tell him gently that the notepad is a no-no", but all I get out is, "Just tell him gently" and Henry starts shouting "Gently! Gently!" 
  • Henry has recently been introduced to the concept of standing up to potty. I had been warned of all that would happen after we reached this point by my other mom-of-boys friends but, oh my, the reality is much worse. Now that he stands to potty in the toilet, he wants to stand to potty in lots of other places. In small containers, on rugs and carpets, in shoe boxes, on other people's rugs and carpets. Ah, life with boys.

we moved, volume 3

Yes, we know many people think we're crazy. We're fine with it. And maybe we are?? Here's a bit of the story: We weren't looking to leave Winterset, but it never fails that those spring job postings start to roll out and you just can't help but look. At first the Pella job looked intriguing but not to the point of drawing us there. It wasn't quite the right fit in terms of job description. But after further investigation/conversation it turns out it was the PERFECT fit! Pella has always been in the back of our minds as somewhere we could see ourselves someday. Since Dameon's dad and step-mom live here, it's been a place we've spent a significant amount of time over the years. We even got married here seven years ago! It's such a quaint little place and so super friendly. So we decided to break our "W" trend (Williamsburg, Waterloo, Winterset) and head east. And we LOVE it! Now I'm no perfect wife and I'm not in a perfect marriage, but I will say that Dameon and I have gotten better at making joint decisions together over the course of seven years. We realized that if we know what our family priorities and values are, when a big decision comes along we just line it up against those values and the decision becomes much easier. If it supports and promotes our values, we jump in! If not, we pass. At this point in life, we have three priorities: 1. Raise our children to know and love Jesus; 2. Raise our children at home; 3. Do everything we can to have Dameon with us as much as possible, while also having his income be our sole source
The move to Pella supports all those things! 1. For the first time since leaving our church in North Liberty, we have a church that feels like we've been there forever. Hard to describe that feeling, but if you're in a church like that, you know what I mean. And a Children's Ministry program that is just stellar! 2. Dameon's position as high school band director plus the hours upon hours he spends writing drill in the summer and running leadership camps allows us to keep me at home with the kiddos and Pella offers lots of opportunities for me and the boys during the weekday, which we haven't had before. 3. The job Dameon used to do alone is now divided up among five (I think) teachers, which means more family time.
Once I get around to snapping some photos, I'll write a post about the transformation going on around here with the house we bought. The before and after pictures are crazy! But for now, a quick snapshot of the boys on the front step.

Monday, May 19, 2014

warren turned one

a laugh a minute

For months now, I have been keeping mental notes and random scrawled out lists of funny tidbits that come from Henry. I keep telling myself I have GOT to blog these things!! So I'm taking the time now when I should be washing dishes to get these things captured all in one place. The timeline here spans from about January until now. Yeah, WAY overdue :)

  • We have been giving him rewards (or as he calls them "REWERDS") for going poop on the toilet. One night the reward was roasting marshmallows on the grill and making smores. As we were sitting out back eating them, he was feeling so extremely pleased and says, "What could be better than having a snack with my family?"
  • The other day he was in the kitchen working on something and I was in the living room feeding Warren. He needed my help so he hollered, "Mommy! I need you, sweetie!"
  • Henry is difficult when it comes to sleeping. Have I mentioned this ever before? YES. With that said, I was needing to put him down for his nap but Warren was having a rough day with teething and I felt like he needed me more. So I told Henry we were going to try something new. I gave him a couple books and told him he could look at them in his bed until he got sleepy and then set them out of his bed when he was done with them and ready to nap. He seemed to think this was just fine until I went to actually leave the room and then he started shrieking like a banshee. Which is becoming the normal naptime behavior around here, by the way. (neat.) Now, if you're a mother who owns a video monitor, you already know that this only adds to the hilarity of almost any situation. He worked his way through various not-sleeping phases such as kicking the sides of his crib as hard as he could, singing his most common made-up naptime song which consists of shouting the words "be happy!" over and over and over, trying to climb out of his crib by swinging his leg up over the ledge that is against the wall (how has he not figured this out yet?!?), jumping on the bed, and taking off his shirt. Finally after I felt he had endured this long enough, I opened his door and said, "Henry, what are you doing?" He suddenly became really still and quiet and said, "Oh. Well, I don't really think I like this new plan."
  • I was pushing him on the swing out back and he was laughing pretty hard. As soon as he caught his breath he said, "I'm having the best time!"
  • One day he bonked his chin and said, "Ouch! I bonked my beard!"
  • If I could think of a stronger word than obsessed, I would use it to describe how Henry feels about the movie Frozen. He spends the majority of his days wrapped in a color guard flag (naturally), which he refers to as his sparkling fabric, carrying a wand (not part of the movie but whatevs), freezing things. And then unfreezing them. He came into our bed one morning and was freezing us, which always consists of throwing out his arm or his wand and saying "FROZEN!" And then unfreezing us. After doing this a couple times, he threw his arm at Dameon again but instead of saying "FROZEN" to freeze him, he said, "FRESH BREATH!" On a different day, I noticed he was really quiet, so I called for him. When he came and found me, he wasn't wearing his pants. I asked him if he was pooping. He said, "No, I was singing Let It Go and letting my clothes go." A little while later he threw a toy at Warren and went to time-out. Afterward, I was talking to him about how his job as the big brother is to protect his little brother, not make his little brother feel afraid. He said, "Yeah. I don't want him to be afraid of my magical powers."
  • He had a runny nose and said, "Mommy, I need you to wipe my nose because it's dripping down to my mustache."
  • Another potty training reward story: I set him on the toilet, he tooted, and then asked me if he had pooped. I said that it must have just been a toot. He said, "Oh. What do I get for a toot?" I said, "Nothing." He said, "Oh..." really sadly.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

dear warren

Dear Warren,
You are ten months old now, and I know every parent says it, but I honestly can’t figure out where the time has gone. Not only are you two months shy of your first birthday, you are also still the second born. That means that I’m still trying to document and capture your babyhood just as much as I did my firstborn. That task is proving to be a challenge. I’m keeping this blog as a record book of our family because I like to write and, more than that, I like to remember. When I browse the archives of this blog, there are many posts written about your big brother. Not just the monthly updates, but odes to his baby life. See, before he was a big brother, he was an only. I had a lot more time to sit at the computer and type out those writings I had composed in my head. That’s how these posts come about: I write them in my head and type them out when I can find a moment to sit in front of the screen.
The archives of this blog don’t contain quite as many for you. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t composed them. Oh, I’ve composed so many. When I hold you on my lap and play pat-a-cake with you, I write about how you are the most smiley baby I’ve ever seen. You smile so big that your shoulders touch your ears and my heart is filled with joy. When I give you a bath, I write about how your features are so beautiful with your long lashes and your daddy’s eyes. I wonder if you will be a swimmer the way you kick those legs like crazy. (You’ve been doing that since the very first time I felt you move!) When I watch you play with Henry, I write about the gift that you are to him. You are amazed by everything he does. I bet you always will be. You are just ten months old and already there is so much love between the two of you. When I lift you from your crib in the night to feed you and in the darkness you say, “Ma,” I write about how you are the gift I never knew I needed. And about how my heart bursts with love for you. You made my love multiply. When I rock-a-bye you in the upstairs glider, I write about how I’m in disbelief that you stretch from one arm rest to the other and your legs drape over the edge. You are hardly a baby anymore.
Please know, Sweet Warren, that though the posts about you are a bit scarce, I have written about you and I won’t forget because I hold these moments with you in my heart!
I love you,

  • has 3 teeth: 2 bottom and 1 top right
  • crawls
  • pulls up to knees and once in awhile feet
  • says: ma-ma, da-da, wha (what's that), uh-uh (uh-oh)
  • tricks: high five, so big, peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, waves bye bye, signs 'more' and 'all done', gives kisses
  • eats fruit and veggie purees, some finger foods, and breastmilk
  • 19 pounds
  • two naps per day

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas 2013 in review

We had such a great Christmas break this year filled with just the right amount of family time, relaxation, and fun. I'll caption the following string of photos to review some of the festivities and highlights.
Dameon spent a lot of time (and froze his fingers off) trying to transform our home into "our Christmas house" as Henry calls it. He did a GREAT job! (I'll just gloss over the 8 foot blow-up Santa that was a late addition to the yard and just say, "WHY???") We also have a couple Christmas traditions in our little town. The first is driving through City Park any night during the month of December where we have our own mini version of Jolly Holiday Lights. Henry loves it and I'm sure Warren will next year. We made it through twice this year. Also, the day after Thanksgiving the shops on the square host a festival of lights. It culminates with a lighted parade and Santa Claus sprinkling his magic dust and lighting all the buildings/courthouse/trees. This was our first time attending that event and I'm sure we'll be back!

Henry and I all ready for Christmas Eve church service. This year we attended Lutheran Church of Hope with the Place crew. GREAT message. If there's anyway to visit their website and watch that service, I highly recommend it.

Our little cuties all dressed up. Is that tie not the cutest?!

Henry's fourth Christmas:                                                          Baby's first Christmas:
Our little family:



the cousins:

Santa stopped by to check on the boys:

Warren was a fan:

Cute little buddy trying out the shaving kit Santa brought him:

Monday, January 6, 2014

henry turns 3

 The day before his birthday, he helped me bake and decorate cupcakes. He was a big fan of the frosting and, of course, we had to sample our work. (Notice how the only part of the cupcake he ate was the top.)

On December 19, Dameon took the day off work so we could do "Henry stuff" all day. Right away when he woke up in the morning we gave him his gift which was a train table with all the good Thomas stuff. We've been planning this gift since the second Dameon said, "It's a boy!" so there was a great deal of anticipation going on. We were pleased with his reaction and have enjoyed watching his imagination grow over the past few weeks. 

We ate a breakfast consisting of Casey's donuts (with sprinkles) and then hit the road to Des Moines. First stop: Build A Bear Workshop. Henry had never been! He chose a little dog and named him Sammy.

 We also saw Santa at the mall and made the dumb decision to pay the $500 it costs to have someone else take the picture. Live and Learn. Our second stop was to what Henry calls "the marble store." Also known as The Learning Post. I can't remember why I didn't take any pictures there but Henry and Dameon had lots of fun playing with the marble ramp and other toys they have out for display. Third stop: Lunch at our favorite pizza place, Sam and Louie's! (Again, no pictures. Sheesh! Fail.) Fourth stop: Monkey Joe's. Henry loves that place and Dameon only had to use his teacher voice once with some rowdy kid, so it was a total success! I did a little bouncing, but mostly kept Warren content in the Ergo carrier.

 Henry hugged Sammy the whole way home, even after falling asleep about 2 minutes outside Monkey Joe's parking lot.

When we got back to our house, we had a birthday dinner of meatloaf and potatoes with cupcakes for dessert.

On December 28, we celebrated with our families. It was a Thomas the Tank Engine party!

 (Kudos to my mom for cutting out and gluing wheels on all 13 of our train cars!)
Decorating the cake turned out to be a bit of an intense process.

Happy 3rd Birthday to our sweetie pie!!!