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In our home, the birthday parties are fun, but getting older also means change and responsibility. When the boys turned 1-bottles were no longer used, at 2-we got rid of sippy cups, at 3-they are responsible for completely cleaning their own rooms. When Kyson turned 3, Josh and debated who had to enforce his room cleaning. If you know Kyson, he’s a little….independent 🙂 To our surprise, Kyson is the best room cleaner we have! Rarely do I even have to tell him to clean his room. When he puts his jammies on or gets dressed for the day, he goes straight to the laundry basket and puts in his dirty clothes. He picks up his toys when he is finished playing. Just this morning, he picked up Maddox’s shoes off the living room floor and cleaned up his breakfast plate. I love when he helps out and does kind things for his brothers.


It is my belief that in order to live life with a purpose, we must do it with intention.  I often hear, I didn’t do it on purpose, I didn’t mean for that to happen, I didn’t mean to forget.  Not that I don’t mess things up or forget things; I do!  However, I try to be intentional about remembering things, intentional about reading my Bible, being a good wife, praying, raising our boys, and more.

One day, many months ago, I was leaving the child care area at church with my three boys, a diaper bag, my Bible, keys, phone, and about 10 pieces of paper from their church activities some of which were dripping paint.  I always take the stairs, it’s healthy plus I don’t have to worry about carrying everything and keeping Kyson from pushing buttons in the elevator. Why the put the emergency call button is on the bottom row, closest for little ones to reach is beyond my understanding.  Anyway, Carter and Maddox are begging to PLEASE take the elevator.  I hesitantly said yes.  As we are standing at the elevator, a sweet Godly woman walks up and says something to the effect of all of these “men of valor”.  I smiled and said thanks or something.  I continued on juggling papers and Kyson and finding my keys, etc.  When we finally reached the van and all the boys were buckled in I sat there and thought about that comment.

I thought, are we raising men of valor?  What is valor exactly?  I looked it up…


boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery: a medal for valor.

 Hmmm….will my boys be bold or show determination when facing great danger?  I then thought, what characteristics do we need to build up in our boys so that they will grow up to be men of valor?  A strong relationship with Christ, integrity, confidence, independence.  I decided since they were only 3 and 5 (I wasn’t really thinking of applying this to Kyson at the time) that I would start with that list.   So, first things first, a strong relationship with God.  I was reading through the Chronological Bible last year, as I am this year, and I thought…..I don’t really read the Bible to my boys.  I decided to be intentional about doing that more often. I was amazed at how they listened and how much knowledge they retained. Two examples, we started doing an allowance with the boys last year, they get “Jesus money” and turn in it at church every week.  They also get “share money” where they give to a need or a cause or something.  One week at church a flyer was sent home about sending extra money with the kids to help build a playground for the children at our church’s orphanage in Haiti.  The boys got all of their share money to turned in, as Carter was counting his money he said “Mom, I wish I had more money to help build the kids a playground.” I responded to him that was all we had and that God can do a lot with a little.  He says “Yeah, I know, just like the lady in the Bible who gave the least money and God said she gave the most because she gave all she had”.  I was blown away, not only that he remembered the story, but that he was able to apply it to our lives and his situation.  Then, last fall we drove by the TN School for the Blind.  I decided to make it a teachable moment and talk to the boys about people who are blind.  When I finish, Carter says “Why don’t they just rub that stuff on their eyes”.  I responded “What?”.  He says, “you know mom like in the Bible when the man was blind and Jesus spit on the ground and made mud stuff and rubbed it on his eyes and he could see”.  Wow, again his application, although Jesus isn’t presently here to do that and he didn’t see why they couldn’t just rub stuff on their eyes and wash it out, I was still amazed with what God has been doing through our reading!

Next we needed to work on instilling integrity, confidence and independence.  I prayed over how we should do that as parents.  I prayed for God to open opportunities to help us teach these things to the boys.  A few days later, the elevator at church again. Big boys want to ride, I say no we are taking the stairs, we get into the van and buckled in and I almost could have heard God say….You want them to have integrity, confidence and independence yet they cannot ride the elevator up one flight in a safe environment?  Wow!  So, I prayed that the boys would make good decisions and that they would be safe. I spent the next Saturday preparing the boys for riding the elevator alone.  I talked to them about being independent and going in and only pushing the one button to do up or down, I talked to them about how I was trusting them to do the right thing and come straight down the elevator and straight to me.  I told them that since I could not see them they would have to be honest and be boys of integrity.  Oh, how their self-confidence grew from the moment they stepped on that elevator with no adult.  I ran down the stairs to be there when they got out.  They were both beaming from ear to ear.  This has since become a bit of a tradition, but it has not lost its luster.  We continually talk about those big character words and making good choices, even when we think no one is watching.

So, I write this partially to say that before you judge what someone is doing as a parent…consider that maybe they are being intentional about their decision. 

What things do you do with your boys to raise them as men of valor, or to intentionally instill good qualities and characteristics in them? I am constantly reminding myself to parent with the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that God parents us with.  Constantly because I forget and mess up daily.  Of course we all do, we are not perfect and we all fall short of the glory of God. I am also continually reminding myself to parent with Josh to please God, not other moms or friends or family.  What freedom we experience when we try to please God and not every other person in our lives.  It is a blessing!  Please know, I still respect and covet the caring advice and comments from fellow moms.

I began this blog in 2008 to have a record of moments I did not want to forget and to share them with family.  It began with the story of Carter locking himself in the van at Walgreens.  He had the best time in there!  You can read about it here in my first ever post to the blog.  It’s funny because Carter was 24 months old, and to follow in his footsteps, Kyson (25 months) did the same thing on Sunday.  I know, you would think we would have learned the first time! 

These moments are so strange because there is a fear for your child’s safety as well as an incredible humor in the matter.  Kyson had the best time getting into everything.  He played with my makeup, drank a soda, brushed his hair, pushed the lock button on the keys…continuously, he was driving with the steering wheel, and everything else he could think of doing.  So, as funny as his actions were, I was still a bit panicked about getting him out of the car.  Josh eventually got into the van with a coat hanger, denting the door in the process.  Oh well, here are a few pics from Kyson’s 30 minutes of FUN.

Drinking a coke.

Going through my wallet.

Pushing the lock button on the keys.


Celebrating Christmas…simply.  Each of our children have 3 presents from us, they draw names and spend their own money to buy (or make) each other a present, and santa does one family present.  We chose 3 so that we always remember why we celebrate Christmas.  It is not about getting gifts, or a man in a red suit, or elves, or stockings.  We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Matthew 2:11 says this…”And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh”.  Gold and frankincense and myrrh…3 gifts for my Savior, therefore 3 gifts for my boys at Christmas.  The gifts they do receive are nothing lavish…one of Maddox favorite gifts was his $2.00 clearance Thomas sticker book set.  Kyson’s was his $3.50 Mickey Mouse.  Carter’s was his Ben 10 guy that Maddox bought him.  Still, many people would people would question what we consider simplicity, after we all we have a home, a tree, decorations, heat, beds, gifts, and so much more.   I think what is important is what we are teaching our children.  Every day in life, are opportunities to teach our children about Jesus…

I can say this, our boys are far from perfect.  As are Josh and me.  However, they know why we celebrate Christmas, they are truly thankful for gifts they receive, and love giving to others.  I am thankful to God for our family.  I am thankful for every trial and challenge.  I am thankful for our strong-willed boys.  Because, I know God didn’t give me the task of molding their personalities, He already has!  He created them, He designed them, He knows their flaws, and He knows their strengths.  He has taught me that is for Josh and I to train them in the ways of the Lord, not the change them and to conform them to the world’s idea of perfectly behaved children. 

As with so many of my posts, this went from Christmas to something completely different!  It’s just that with visiting different family and seeing so many friends over the holidays, we are so often judged and compared for how we parent our kids.   Sometimes we are judged by disapproving looks, sometimes by smiles or nods of affirmation, and sometimes by spoken criticism or praise.  What I want parents raising their kids to take from this, is that you need not worry about the world’s approval rating for how you are doing; concern yourselves with God’s approval.

So, this issue of when Carter will start kindergarten has plagued Josh and me for say 5 years now.  It has been a difficult decision.  We have went back and forth-from starting him now, waiting a year, letting him go to kindergarten then repeat it, etc.  Our final decision was made very recently.  We are going to wait to enroll Carter until next year.  On to the reasons….

1. Although I support everyone who homeschools their children, in a manner where they are socially active with children their age and they receive the education they deserve, it’s not for me personally.  That being said, Josh and I need to prepare our children spiritually to be in the public school setting.  I think we have failed at this so far.  So, we now have a plan and we hope to have Carter spiritually equipped for kindergarten next year.  Carter is a big follower, he does anything big kids say.  We hope to better prepare him to say no to peer pressure in situations that will inevitably get him into trouble.

2. I was a young starter in kindergarten.  As an October baby, my mom started me at 4.  I couldn’t drive when my friends could, couldn’t work, couldn’t date, etc.  I also went to college at 17.  I think I would have been more emotionally mature later in life (hs) if I started kindergarten at 5, who knows.  I do think as a boy, it will benefit Carter to be older.

3. We do not feel Carter is socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten.  He is having “fits/outbursts” I have no idea what to call them, behavior problems.  I think he needs some time to mature. 

So…what are we going to do?  I am going to stay home with the boys in the day.  I will keep Carter’s education up to par. We will have a schedule of library days, field trip days, etc.  I think he will be more than prepared academically for kindergarten next year!  I also hope to get some quality time in with Carter before he begins this process of school that he will be in for the rest of his life at home.

Controversy, wow!  People are VERY opinionated about this topic.  I have read some articles about “red shirting” your kids.  Yes, it has a name, it’s called red shirting.  Apparently many parents of boys are doing this to give their sons an athletic advantage. I have never even thought of this until I read the article yesterday. 

Carter’s opinion….I thought Carter may be upset about not starting kindergarten.  So, we talked him about the decision.  He was thrilled to wait until he is 6.  He is excited about being one of the oldest in class.  This made our decision easy.

So, it’s finally done!  The decision is made. No more stressing, researching, etc!  We have prayed for clarity in the right thing to do, and we have made a decision.  Nothing like waiting until the LAST minute!  Praise the Lord we only have one summer baby!


I will begin this post with the information that I have often thought about an age that children should be saved; as in wondering when is too young and when is too old (yes, I know you are never too old to be saved, but I also wouldn’t want for my children to resist salvation after they knew and understood the details).  Additionally, I didn’t want them to pray to receive Christ just because everyone else was and they didn’t understand what they were doing.   So, although our family often talks about being saved or having Jesus live in our hearts, and we pray for the lost and explain to the kids what that means, we never ask the kids to make any decisions.  I think they are so young!

OK, on to the fun stuff. This afternoon Carter is walking down the hallway with his hands firmly pressed together at his chin, and he says “Dear Jesus, please come and live in my heart forever and ever, I want to stay there always and never go away.”  He repeated the prayer again (he gt a little distracted fumbling over a toy so I guess he wanted to start over to make sure Jesus heard everything 🙂  After I heard those precious words, I sat down with Carter and explained the importance of what he had just said and to make sure that was what he wanted.  We talked about sin and he mostly said “I know what this means mom.”   For those of you who are of a  religion different from Christianity or none at all, here is what our church, we, believe about salvation…

I am so happy for my sweet Carter.  He is growing up so fast, and I am so thankful that the Lord has given him to Josh and me to raise.  I love watching as he is being molded into this compassionate, loving, independent, confident little boy.  So, we are rejoicing with the angels for Carter’s decision to ask Jesus to live in his heart and to forgive him for his sins.

I am thinking that as we have talked to the boys about adoption that maybe we left out a few details.  They have been told that children who are adopted typically do not have parents or their parents cannot take care of them. This is a common topic in our house since we know so many people in the adoption process.  Of course, the boy’s Aunt Leslie and Uncle Brandon are adopting from Korea right now, making the topic even more talked about.  (you can follow their story here

As we are leaving church today, Carter runs over to the infant room and is checking out all of the babies.  Followed by Maddox, they began discussing which little boys they like.  This is followed by them saying “Mom, can we have this little baby?”.  Of course I proceeded to tell them that little boy already has a mom and dad that love him and we cannot just take him.  I don’t really think they liked that answer.  But Mom, he is waving to us and smiling at us. 

I love their sweet spirits and innocence, even if they wanted to kidnap a little brother 🙂

This morning, my sweet Maddox crawled in to my bed at 5:05.  Although I was certainly NOT ready to be up, I am so thankful that the Lord gave me the grace and energy to spend some sweet time with my son.  For a 3-year-old, Maddox is quite a conversationalist.  We had the best time laughing, talking, snuggling, giggling, and just being together.  Having 3 small kids, it isn’t always easy to give each of them their own time. However, I have to make this time a priority with each of my boys.   Because it is so precious!

We have had the best week, and I so grateful for much-needed time with my awesome boys! 

We started Saturday by spending the day at the soccer field watching the Schell kids rock in their soccer games.  Then we went for a milkshake treat and to feed the ducks in Hendersonville.  As mentioned on facebook, Maddox fell in the water head first!  Praise the Lord Josh caught his foot so he didn’t fall completely in because one of us (um, Josh) would have had to go in after him lol. 

 Sunday we went to the zoo.  I was bummed the new train ride wasn’t working, although they began advertising it weeks ago!  However, the kids still had a blast and feeding the birds was great fun!  Kyson had his first carousel ride, he was not amused 🙂

Monday, we took the Schell kids bowling and to Taco Bell.  For 6 kids 8 and under, they all did awesome!  Baker won the bowling game! 

Tuesday we met Aunt Ramona and family at the Civic Center for some swimming.  Well, I actually went grocery shopping with Kyson and Josh took Maddox and Carter.  The kids LOVE going there and had an awesome time!

Wednesday began with drs appnts for Maddox and Kyson.  3 yr check up for Maddox went great. He is just over 90% for his height and just over 50% for his weight.  Dr. Hudson said although he is not proportionate, he isn’t concerned about him.  Kyson is just over 95% for his height and just over 85% for his weight.  During hs check up he discovered Kyson had a terrible ear infection 😦  Glad we went because I had no idea!  After check ups, I took the kids to the Landskron’s house so I could get some things done for an evaluation at work next week.  Miss Morgan and Miss Adreanna are the boys babysitters and they also have 3 younger brothers so the boys were in heaven there.  Of course they didn’t want to go home 🙂  Then, I took the boys to ride the Music City Star to Nashville.  It was fun.  Very entertaining for $5!  Of course it was only cheap because the boys were free and Josh picked us up in Nashville so we only rode one way.  Maddox’s face was soo sweet!  He was so excited.  Wednesday was a busy day!

Thursday we picked Grandmother up at the airport and brought her home.  She forgot her house key in CO so the boys got to watch the locksmith open the door, which they thought was cool.  Then we went to lunch at O’Charleys and took mom to get her rental car.  We went to the outlet stores in Lebanon to look for outfits for the boys to wear to Aunt Anna’s wedding on May 1st.  I think we found something that is going to work!  The big boys spent the night with Grandmother, although Maddox fell asleep on the way home and slept all night 🙂 

Friday we mostly just played outside.  It was a gorgeous 80 degree day!  The boys played on the swingset with just their shorts on, and I became increasingly frustrated with the neighbors rose-bush that scrapes the kids legs when they swing. We could move the swingset, but it is bolted down and has a sand box, not fun!  Also, according to the person we purchased our home from, it’s all our property AND we asked if it was ok before we put the swing set there!  Oh well, we like our neighbors and we will work it out somehow.  I am still confused about why they planted a random rose-bush in the middle of the yard anyway, it’s an odd location!

So, a wonderful week for us!  Pictures to come!

I love my “snuggle buggle time” with the boys in the mornings.  Carter has an alarm clock in his room and he knows he is not allowed to come out before it says 6:00.  So, most mornings at 6:00 on the dot, Carter bursts into our room happily shouts “It’s 6 o’clock!”  I am often curious how long he sits and watches the clock before it turns to 6. 

Anyway, this morning after his loud entrance, he climbed up in the bed and I gave him a hug and a kiss and we snuggled.  I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up; he quickly replied “a teacher and a dad”.  I was intrigued by his answer, he said “I want to teach like Mrs. Denise (his pre-school teacher) but I don’t want to teach little kids, I want to teach big kids”  He went on to say “I want to get married and have 1 girl and 7 boys”  Um, wow, better find a wife that wants 8 kids, lol.  He went on…”I think I am going to have my kids and I will buy them one cat and three dogs, we will name the cat Ben 10, one dog Ben 10, and one kid Ben 10.”  Ben 10 is a cartoon character that Carter likes to watch on television.  I loved our time this morning because Carter was so talkative and so confident about what he wanted with his life.  Of course I am sure this will change a million times over the next several years.  However, it is always fun to listen to and document these sweet conversations.  I love my boys, and I really love this snow day with my family.