Christmas 2010

Hope your Christmas was merry! Praise God for the best gift we could ever receive -- Jesus Christ!

Christmas started on Christmas Eve in the Stevens household. Since we were unable to be with my family this year, we decided to let them open gifts from my parents & my aunt. The kids were surprised to find an XBox 360 w/ Kinect from my mom & dad! While they took turns playing the XBox, they enjoyed the coloring books, crayons, markers, and PlayDoh from Nannie. We also took in "Megamind" at the movies. Christmas Eve pictures....

Stockings hung, ready to go
This is what a tree looks like with toddlers around -- all the ornaments up high and the lights all pulled off the bottom :)

Christmas Day dawned with no kids in sight. It was well after 7 before we heard from them. Once the older 4 was up, we had to wake up Timothy & Lydia to get the festivities started. Lydia crawled/walked around the presents & kept picking each one up. Nathan read to us from Luke chapter 2 to remind us of what we were celebrating. Then we started off with each one opening one present at a time but it didn't really last long before presents were just being torn open. Still it was fun. Stockings were unpacked and everything was done by 8. It was clear, though, that John was very sick. Poor guy was coughing his head off and running a fever. When we went to Jonathan's parents later that afternoon, we "quarantined" him upstairs & he watched the festivities from the loft, coming down to open his presents. He actually fell asleep at one point. :( (Trip to urgent care yesterday revealed an ear infection & he's feeling much better today although still fighting a bad cough.) I don't even know if I could write up a list of who-got-what, even if I tried. It looks like a toy store exploded in my house. Christmas morning pictures...
Timothy and Lydia are ready
Can't you just tell she's dying to get in???
Elizabeth ready to go!

So today starts the last week of 2010! Elizabeth & I just christened her new Easy Bake Oven and we're having a relaxing day at home. 1 doctors appointment tomorrow (me), Timothy's bi-annual audiology appointment on Wednesday (IF we're all well & baby-sitter's family has recovered from their Christmas illness, too, so I have somewhere to leave Lydia), another relaxing day on Thursday, then a small New Year's Eve get-together on Friday night will round out our (only) week of Christmas break. Monday, it's back to school for the boys & Elizabeth's first day of homeschooling. Time is FLYING by! Whew!
Elizabeth in her apron from my Mamaw who passed away in November
Enjoying her first cake!

Have a blessed new year, everyone!


Home again, home again, jiggity jig

So, what could a post with that title possible mean? Well, it means I've lost my mind that we're (slowly but surely) bringing our kids back home, at least in part. Yes, we're moving back into homeschooling. Why, you ask? Well, I can assure you of 2 things -- 1, it's a calling and 2, this has very little to do with the schools the kids are in, the teachers they have, and/or the education they're receiving. As for the calling part -- I realize that some readers of this blog are not Christians. This part may be difficult for you to understand or you may walk away thinking I'm really loony. The latter may be true (some days I certainly feel like it!) but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has called us (me) to this journey. When we put the kids into public school in 2009, I was feeling very overwhelmed with life -- Timothy was not quite 2 and was going through a myriad of medical issues and Lydia was a newborn -- and I was feeling very much like a failure. Hindsight being 20/20 and several reaffirming comments from homeschooling friends, I realize that I wasn't the failure I thought I was. And, besides that, let me say it again...God has brought this into our lives. There are things that my children will never, ever learn in public school no matter how great their teachers are. They will never learn to "love the Lord their God with all their hearts, with all their souls, and with all their might" (see Deut. 6:5). Could a Christian school do that? Perhaps...but who's going to pay the thousands of dollars in tuition? I certainly can't. Don't we do that by living our daily lives and taking our children to church? Certainly! And I'm by no means saying I've got the market cornered on teaching my children to love God. Trust me -- I'm a work in progress. BUT, how much more will I be able to teach them the truths of God's word when I have them at home with me 24/7? Evenings get away from us now with everyone in school. Just ask Caleb & Elizabeth's teacher about how often they get their nightly 15 minutes of reading (hardly ever) or ask John's teacher how many nights we've read John's "book-in-a-bag" (not very consistently). Don't even get me started on "family" time 'cause there isn't any with the kids in school, save the weekends. Having more family time isn't the #1 goal or the #1 reason for homeschooling. In fact, I would call it a perk. The #1 goal, obviously, is their education not only in the "3 R's" but also in the Bible and other things they won't learn in public school as well as they can learn at home like how to love their parents more than they love their teachers, how to love their siblings more than they love their friends, and how to be a responsible member of this family. And the #1 reason for homeschooling, again, is to do my best at fulfilling my calling. Only God would lead me to this. This isn't "taking the easy way out"! My lazy nature would much rather leave them in public school, worry about their homework and whether or not I've packed their lunch, and have more "me" time when they're gone (and that's heartbreaking to admit). But if there's anything I learned from my first journey through homeschooling, it's that this going to be hard! And I'm quite terrified. But, if it's possible to say, I'm confidently terrified. Terrified 'cause I don't like feeling like a failure and I sincerely realize that there's a lot at stake here and I'm not just talking about good grades. Confident because I believe 100% that this is God's leading and I have many, many promises in His word like "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13).

So, with that being said, this is the "plan", in as much as we have a plan, ever conscious of God's leading. Yesterday was Elizabeth's last day at school. When school starts up on 1/3/11, she will not be returning. I won't dive into the reasons why we chose Elizabeth but I will say that what we're doing is kinda like taking a trial run. Elizabeth will stay home the rest of this school year and then, Lord willing, Caleb & John will join her here at home next school year. Again I won't dive into the reasons why but, as for now, Nathan will stay in public school. But, then again, all that could change. So, please, if you think about us in the coming weeks, please pray for us! We're not taking this lightly (did I mention I'm terrified?) and we desire to be successful in God's eyes, that our life as a family will bring glory to Him and Him alone!

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them
when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way,
and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deut. 6:6-7



Happy 8th Birthday,
Caleb Joshua Stevens!


Conversations with toddlers

We're working on encouraging Timothy to use "real" or "big boy" words. We're at a place right now where we're having a hard time understanding him which makes him really frustrated which turns his speech into mush. Last Thursday, I had stopped at Wal-Mart for groceries and there was something I had bought that Timothy wanted. So he starts with the verbal mush.... I stopped him and said "Timothy, do you want one?". He said "Ses" (with an "S", not the "Y" sound). Then, our conversation went like this:

Me: Timothy, say "I"
Timothy: I

Me: "Want"

Timothy: Want

Me: "One"

Timothy: Two

I chuckled and said "No, Timothy. Listen to Mommy's words. 'I want one'". Can you say "I"?

Timothy: I

Me: "Want"

Timothy: Want

Me: "One"

Timothy: Two

Me: "Not quite yet, Timothy. Let's try again. Can you say "I"?"

Timothy: I

Me: "Want"

Timothy: Want

Me: "One"

Timothy, with a very confused look on his face, looks at me and says in a questioning tone, "Three?".

At least I know he can count....


Back to school

...is going great!

Nathan's first day of 6th grade
(last year of middle school -- yikes!)
He's recently joined the band, playing percussion.

Caleb's first day of 1st grade
His standard expression....

Elizabeth's first day of 1st grade
Our not-so-little bundle of HiGh EnErGy!

John's first day of kindergarten
I think he's going to be a math whiz (seriously)!

And because they couldn't be left out....

Timothy enjoying a popsicle

Lydia@ 18 months old


Picture updates

Promised a birthday post after my last post. However, I couldn't get to our back pictures! Sorry, Nathan! He had a great 11th birthday, though (not that anyone was missing the post I promised....)!

Here's some really overdue pictures! First up, in May, Caleb was awarded the student of the month (at least I think it was "month" & not like quarter or something....). This is him with his principal, Mr. Seckel. Unless you ask John....then it's his "president" and his name is "Mr Cycle". Too cute! We're sad to see Mr. Seckel retire!!
On Mother's Day, we celebrated John & Elizabeth's birthdays at Jonathan's parents house. Here's some of the cousins together (cousin Kaylee in the middle).
John's reaction to seeing his new bike.
And Elizabeth's reaction to seeing hers.

In June, Nathan was awarded an academic excellence award. Kinda like honor roll. The lady off the far left is his principal, Mrs. Thomas-Manning. The gentleman handing him his certificate is his assistant principal Dr. Jones.
And last but not least, we took the kids to the Columbus Museum of Art during the Columbus Arts Festival. We went right when they opened so as to minimize the crowds. That was an excellent idea! A large part of the Chihuly art exhibit....
The picture of my monkeys that's now at the top of the blog almost got us kicked out of the exhibit. We were in a "no flashes" zone & didn't know it. :)

If you follow me on Facebook, I'm also uploading a new album of pictures from the Stevens Family Reunion. Enjoy!



Don't seem to be blogging much these days, thanks to Facebook and Twitter. So here's an update of what's going on. Tomorrow, another birthday post is coming!!

Jonathan has been working his you-know-what off. They just completed a major project at work so hopefully he can get back to his "regular" job now. Not that his regular job is any less stressful.... I know he'd appreciate your prayers as he strives to get his work done and still be with his family.

Nathan is enjoying his summer break but is anxious for school to start (he gets that honestly!). He rec'd his standardized ("achievement") test scores in the mail recently and tested "accelerated" in all 3 subjects. Way to go, Nathan!

Caleb is trying to enjoy summer. He's struggled with allergies this spring and today, finally visited an allergist. This is the first time he's been tested. He tested allergic to grass, weeds, several types of trees, cats, dogs, and dust mites. We're considering going with allergy shots but are adding a 4th allergy medication in the meantime.

Elizabeth is also suffering from allergies but much, much milder than Caleb. She was recently at the doctor for a chronic cough because of allergies and has gained 14 pounds in 1 year!! She now weighs exactly the same thing Caleb does, 54 pounds! She's so stinkin' excited about going to school with her lunch box!

John is excited about starting school! He's about 7 pounds behind Caleb & Elizabeth but is within an inch or 2 of both of them in height. He did great at his 5 year well-check and came in the size of an average 6 1/2 year old boy! Sheesh!

Timothy is 2 and that about sums it up! He's a monkey, let me tell you! Unfortunately, he likes fighting with his siblings.... He's still doing great in speech therapy, though!

Lydia, last but not least, is going to be an allergy sufferer, too, I'm afraid. She's actually got us concerned. She's tiny -- nearly 17 months old and barely 19 pounds, yet she doesn't walk or stand consistently. She's been evaluated by a physical therapist and is having some x-rays done of her legs and will be starting weekly physical therapy on 8/10. The x-rays are to determine whether or not there's a significant difference in the lengths of the bones of her legs or not. When you stretch her out, there appears to be a fair amount of difference between her leg lengths but we need a more accurate measurement. She's also going for allergy testing on 8/16. It was difficult enough to take Caleb for testing -- I can't imagine what it'll be like to put this tiny baby through that. *sniff, sniff*

It's been a busy summer for us and we can't believe it's almost time to go back to school! Yes, we're going to put the kids in public school again this year. What we felt was not working for us as far as homeschooling goes still isn't "fixed", for a lack of a better word, so we feel this truly is the best for them. They had a great year in school & loved it which makes things a lot easier. Nathan especially loved it and has begged us to not homeschool him again. Preteens are a whole new world for me. I haven't decided if I like it or not (although I realize it doesn't really matter....). Hope you all are doing well!



There's no way I could have imagined how our life was going to change on this day 6 years ago. We were so happy to have a baby girl after having 2 boys. But, boy, oh boy, has she been a handful! Still, we wouldn't trade her for anything! And today, we're especially happy to be celebrating her 6th birthday!Going home from the hospital in one of my dresses from 1977!July 4, 2004/ 2 months oldMay 2005/1 yearSpring 2006/2 yearsEaster 2007/3 years old4 years oldEaster 2009/5 years
Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!!


Every now & then it hits me...

...just how similar & yet different my boys look! Here they are all at around 2 years old....



(5-5-05)In NICU, a few days oldJust learning to stand2 years3 years4 yearsHappy Birthday, baby boy!!


Overwhelmed again

Sometimes, especially lately, I just wanna scream "Will it ever end?!?!" That's probably a bit on the dramatic side but still.... It's all left me feeling very overwhelmed at the moment, especially as a mom. Nathan is doing well after his bought with pneumonia, except he's caught the cold that I got last week. School seems to be slowing down for him, in anticipation of the end of the year. Achievement testing is done, too, so that's nice. He seemed kinda stressed about them. Caleb, oh, Caleb -- poor little guy is having a terrible spring! His allergies are out of control. He doesn't complain much but I'm worried about him. He's had 2 ear infections back to back and with allergies running rampant, he's prone to have more of them. Our pediatrician has told us he might have to see the ear doctor. Jonathan and I talked and decided to go ahead and make an appointment. We can't get him in until July 19th so I'm hoping that he either shows us that he needs the appointment (even though that would mean another ear infection) or he shows us that he doesn't and/or we can get his allergies under control. We've started him on a THIRD allergy medicine and while it seems to be going okay, I just can't help but think "This sure is an awful lot of medicine for a little 7 year old" and wonder what effect, if any, this will have on him as he grows up. Elizabeth is growing like a weed! I'm sure "normal" parents (if there exists such a thing) would be happy to see their once-scary-skinny daughter start eating like Elizabeth is eating currently but alarms are going off in my head like you wouldn't believe! I grew up a fat kid and I desperately don't want that for my kids, especially my daughters. This morning, she's had 2 cinnamon rolls but then I cut her off...she also has eaten 1 1/2 bananas and is asking for more. It's a rainy Sunday and all of us but Jonathan are home from church because of various reasons, mostly illness, so I know she's at least a little bored. I've tried to distract her from eating by giving her crayons and turning on a cartoon but that isn't working. And I'm really starting to pay attention to how I eat in front of her. It's not exactly fun or easy to tell your kids not to do something that you're doing. But this is weighing heavy on my heart. John definitely has seasonal allergies but, thankfully, not as bad as Caleb's. John's actually doing quite well! He's probably the one I'm least concerned about at this point but that really isn't saying much. Timothy is on allergy medicine and yesterday I thought for sure he had developed another sinus infection but I think the allergy medicine has finally won out as his runny nose seems to be better today. We still go to speech therapy every Tuesday we can make it. I know Timothy doesn't see it and I hope this doesn't sound completely superficial on my part ('cause it's not, I promise!) but it's really starting to get to me when I see how "different" he is. Don't get me wrong -- his speech has gone through several major "explosions" as of late and there are times, now, when other adults can understand what he's saying. I know we've come a long way but it's starting to be so evident that he's not like the other kids his age and that's breaking this mom's heart. And, although it's rare, he's gotten very upset a few times when he's wanted something and we haven't been able to understand him to give him what he wants. I just pray that his speech will keep moving at this rapid pace and that we can get him caught up before it starts to affect him. And then there's Lydia. She's such a sweetie and so cute! But as her surgery day draws closer, my nerves are getting shorter. I so desperately want tubes to "fix" whatever hearing problem she may have. I know it wouldn't be the end of the world if she had to have a hearing aid (or 2) like Timothy but can anyone blame me for not wanting her (and me) to go through what we're going through with Timothy???

We watched "The Time Traveler's Wife" last night and, sorry, but I wouldn't recommend it -- the language is bad and the story is very "heavy". But, would you want to see the future or visit the past, if you could? I definitely don't want to do either. And I'm becoming more and more thankful that God is sovereign. But, obviously, I still have a long way to go.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." ~Mt. 6:34


What we've been up to

March was a busy month, especially towards the end. LOTS of sickness. Started out as a virus that caused first Timothy, then Caleb, Elizabeth, and John, to have a fever (but never over 101), stuffy nose, and coughs. Lydia also came down with the stuffy nose during this time but no fever or cough.... Timothy's eventually turned into a sinus infection. Thought on a Sunday that it was a sinus infection but didn't want to take him to see the dr since he was getting better. However, on that next day when John said his ears hurt, I decided since I was taking one child to the dr, I might as well take Timothy, too (you don't ignore it my kids saying their ears hurt -- they have HIGH pain thresholds and when their ears hurt, they REALLY hurt and are usually VERY infected by that point). Monday's total -- antibiotics for Timothy and John. Monday evening, Caleb starts saying his ears hurt. During the night, Elizabeth wakes up crying -- something she NEVER does, not even from nightmares -- saying her jaw hurt. Tuesday, back to the dr and 2 more antibiotics for Caleb and Elizabeth's infected ears. Nathan stayed home that day since he was starting in with the cough and we figured he was about to be sick like the others. But Wednesday he was fine, so I sent him to school. Thursday morning, though, I found him on the couch with a temp of 104! Figuring it was what everyone else had, although obviously worse, I let him be. Saturday, though, when he hadn't moved off the couch and hadn't eaten anything, I took him to our pediatrician where he was diagnosed with the flu. Later that day, we went to our church's Easter Egg Hunt while Nathan camped out on his granddad's couch.On to the next week.... Spring Break for the kiddos began with an ENT consult for Lydia last Monday the 29th. They're going to put tubes in her ears on May 13th. The bummer, though, was that her hearing tested poorly. Very bad, in fact. So now we're waiting until after her 5/13 surgery date for more hearing testing but it's looking likely that she's suffering from hearing loss, probably related to all her ear infections. That was my Monday morning.... Monday evening, Nathan seemed to be getting slightly worse as he was throwing up the only things he was putting down -- liquids (still hadn't eaten since the previous Wednesday night). Off to the ER we went where we found out that it wasn't the flu after all but PNEUMONIA and in BOTH lungs! Poor baby even had to have an IV for fluids. He's still finishing up antibiotics but is much better now. Thursday and Friday of spring break, we had promised the kids a little road trip. We took them to Cleveland (don't laugh) to see the Cleveland Zoo (270 pictures taken but most of them of the animals so I'll spare you!) and to the Great Lakes Science Center. Here's a picture of the Cleveland city skyline and the kiddos @ the Science Center. We had a great time!And that takes us up to now. Here's the kids from Easter Sunday where -- you'll never believe it! -- Lydia was sick! *pulling out my hair* I ended up taking her to the urgent care because her temperature wasn't responding to the ibuprofen. She has (another) ear infection....And that's what we've been up to! Hope your March was better than ours!