Saturday, August 6, 2016

To the baby who made me a mom.....

I didn't know I wanted a baby--until suddenly, I did. God knew all along it would be you.

You, who would change everything about me from the moment I first held you.

You grew far faster than I ever knew possible. 

Sometimes, I'm afraid I'm too hard on you. You're the big brother with all of the responsibility of setting an example for your little brother and sister. I know it's tough, but I'm so proud of you.

Sometimes, you drive me bananas because your favorite phrase is, "I know, mom". You are so smart and so full of big thoughts.

Your favorite place is a quiet corner with a book or a big box of Legos. 

You are invaluable to our family. As dad and I tell you all the time, you made us a family. We wouldn't be "The Bowman Family" without you. You are my favorite 7 year old of all time and I love you more than you will ever know.

Happy 7th Birthday to my first baby!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Language of Love

I'm married to a pretty amazing guy, y'all. That's why I snatched him up so early--I didn't want anyone else to get to him! :)

Plus, we make some pretty gorgeous babies.

Even though he's absolutely amazing, he isn't perfect. And neither am I. Once in a blue moon, he forgets to take the trash down on trash day. Occasionally, he doesn't read the honey-do list in my mind and do everything around the house. Sometimes, I'm too critical. Every once in awhile, I obsess over money even though we have always had enough and make him feel like he's not enough.

Something I have learned in the last several years though is to very carefully guard my mouth when it comes to talking about my other half. The things we say are so important in relationships; words can build up or completely tear down. If Michael forgets to take down the trash, I don't text a friend or my mom and say, "Ugh, Michael is so lazy. I can't believe he didn't take the trash down again! He never does anything around the house." If we ever have a fight, I don't give a play by play to my BFF or post vague statuses on Facebook. One of the main reasons I don't broadcast things that happen in my marriage is because they're between me and my spouse. We're the ones who have to work the issue out. Another reason is that any issues we have are usually very short lived and sometimes, even petty. We might resolve the issue in less than a day, but if we've vented to family or friends, they're much less likely to forget about it. If I vent to my family and friends about my spouse on a regular basis, they're eventually going to have a pretty negative view of him.

What I try to do is brag as frequently as I can about my husband, both in front of him and behind his back. I don't mean in an over the top or insincere way. I literally focus on all of his good qualities (of which there are many) and find opportunities to mention them--even to our own children! I want them to know that mommy thinks daddy is the best! The bottom line is that he is a wonderful, loving, hardworking, patient husband and father and I want other people to see that. I also want him to know that I feel that way. I want to encourage him to be who God has called him to be.

In Proverbs 31, the writer mentions a wife who brings her husband "...good, not harm, all the days of her life." I want to be that kind of wife--a blessing to my husband. I want other people to see how much I genuinely admire him and why. I want other people to respect him for who he is, not resent him for a few silly arguments that mean nothing in the scheme of things.

I challenge you to say only good things about your spouse today--in front of him/her and to others. You might be amazed at the way your relationship changes and thrives!

(I think it goes without saying that if someone is in an abusive marriage, they should definitely not keep to themselves and protect their abuser. Please, tell someone and protect yourself and your children)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Back to School

I'm going to try to do some blogging about home school this year. I obviously have a hard time committing to blogging, but I really would like to put down some of my thoughts, if only for myself to look back on later.

Anyway, we are ready for another year of school! We started on the last Friday in July, because I like to start early and therefore, end a little early. There's nothing like that feeling of being through with school while everyone else is still slaving away. Just kidding! (I wish there were emoticons in blogging)

Kade is in second grade this year and Luke is doing pre-K/Kindergarten work. He's only 4, but he's so eager to learn that I wanted to do some structured lessons with him. Of course, we had to do the obligatory first day of school pictures!

Kade said this was a second grade pose.

We start our school year like pretty much any classroom. We get settled, go over basic things like the calendar, and do a first day of school activity. I found a worksheet on Pinterest that had a place to draw a picture of yourself and then had the student list all sorts of things about himself or herself--name, birthday, date, favorite food, favorite book, favorite color, etc. We did something similar last year and a friend of mine (who is also a retired educator) told me that she thought it was neat that I did "normal school things with my children". Well, yeah.

Luke was very excited about starting the day. He told me to take this picture while he yelled, "School time!"

This year, as usual, I'm using a variety of curriculum. I'm not really one to use a boxed curriculum. I like to piece together different programs I find or hear about. Here's a list of what we're using for each subject:

Math-Math U See (Beta)
History-Mystery of History, Vol. I
Science-Easy Peasy (biology)
Spelling-All About Spelling
Language/Grammar-Evan Moore Daily Language Review
Reading-various books

We usually try to begin at 9:00. Before then, I like the boys (or at least Kade) to be dressed, have eaten breakfast, made their beds, and have brushed their teeth. I'm not really a homeschool-in-your-pajamas person. Today is only our third day of school, but I like to have the majority of our school work done before lunch, with only 1-2 things left to do after Grace's naptime. I prefer to use naptime to do things around the house and relax for a couple of minutes while the boys play Legos or occasionally watch something on the iPad.

I love the flexibility of homeschooling. I love that we could begin later in the morning or not do any school until after lunch. I love that our learning is not confined to a classroom and field trips can be anywhere and anytime. I love that we can choose how we learn. I love the fact that I learn almost as much as my students.

This is not to say that every day is roses. There are sibling fights, whining, complaining, stomping, tears--the usual kid stuff. I told a friend the other day that I wish I could remember all of the good moments so that when the not-so-good moments occur, I could let them roll off of my back. The other day, while we were taking a snack break, Kade said, "Mom, you're the best mom. I like how you do everything. You're my teacher, you teach me and Rachel piano--and your other students--and you're just plain mom. I'm so glad." Those are the little moments I wish I could tuck away in my heart forever, but I know I'll forget them unless I write them down. 

It's not always easy being teacher mom and "just plain mom", but it's so worth it. I love seeing light bulbs go off when they realize they can read a word or do a math problem. I love seeing their excitement when they learn about outer space or want to read further into a book to find out what's going to happen. 

Homeschooling might not be for everyone, but it's for us. I wouldn't trade these moments for anything! When I was pregnant with Kade, Michael and I were talking about different thing we would/wouldn't do as parents and I said, "There are two things I will never do: stay at home or home school. Homeschoolers are weird!" Oh, how we eat our own words!