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!