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Dear Son….

10/16/2013 - Author: Natasha Phillips

My Darling Elliott-

Today is your 3rd birthday. I have no idea where the last three years have gone. I want to rewind them so I can go back085 and do the bad days over and relive the good days with you. You are such a light in my day, a bundle of energy that never stops. When you came into my life those three years ago I had no idea what to expect. You have exceeded every expectation I ever had of being a mother twice over. 091You have been a handful from the start, but one that I cherish and love. Oh sure, there were really hard days. The days that your dad would come home and all you had done that day and previous night was cry from the colic that plagued your little body. You were so sick that first 6 month with thrush, colic, ear infections, RSV, and the common cold. Those days seemed to pass so slowly, however now looking back they happened in the blink of an eye. Once summer came you were a different child. You loved to be outside and often that is where we were the entire day.IMG_1605 It was such a joy watching you learn new things, how to roll over, sit, crawl and eventually walk at 17 months!! When I was pregnant with your younger brother you often just wanted to cuddle, which was great but you also had so much energy there were times you just wanted to jump and climb on me.IMG_2879 You couldn’t understand why that couldn’t happen. When your brother was born it was the first night I ever spent away from you in your 17.5 months you had been on this earth. The change of having baby Ivan compete for my attention was very hard for you and the sibling rivalry you share with him to this day started then. You slowly transitioned from your constant jabber to brokenIMG_3803 words with the constant mom, mom, mom, mom….being your standby when you couldn’t figure what else to say. Boyd quickly became your favorite person, outweighing both dad and I because he could give you all the undivided attention you wanted. As you have grown the stubbornness that is going to takeIMG_4253 you far in life really has come through. As hard and frustrating as it is at time I am proud that you stand for what you want, even if it results in you also standing in the corner from time to time. Right now you are going through a phase where everything is scary, I pray you overcome your fears soon. Son, I pray that your life is guided by our Savior and that you will choose Him over anything else in this world. He alone holds theIMG_0345 future and I pray earnestly for your salvation and surrender to Him. I pray that you grow to be a strong man that is faithful to your wife. I pray for her life right now, that the Lord is preserving her heart from a very young age. I pray that your are a man of honesty, integrity, respect and have a desire to work hard in this life. I pray that you are a man that others can look to.  I love you so much Elliott. I love your spunk, imagination, smiles, funny looks, how everything you like is “perfect” and I love your ability to make people around you feel special. I am so proud to be your mom and can’t wait to get to know you better as you grow into a young boy. Three years old you are today….Happy birthday Elliott Donald Phillips!!!IMG_0363 IMG_0488 IMG_3463 IMG_7388

Love with all my heart-

Your Mom

No Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, My Kids

Friendships

08/05/2013 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Many times when a person grows up in a large family, their best friends are their siblings. When you grow up in a large family and are home-schooled, your only friends are your siblings!!! (well mostly, except for a ‘few’ other homeschooling families.) Growing up you think nothing is ever going to change, then you enter the real world as an 18-20 year old adult and everything changes. All of a sudden everyone in the world, at least your world, is your best friend. You start making plans with these people and honestly believe that they will be in your life until the day you die. Sometimes you listen to their advice and opinions over the people who have known you the longest. Many times you hurt the true friends in your life and often many years will pass before you talk to those ‘true’ friends again. Eventually all your new best friends start falling by the wayside. They never call, plans to get together are never made and one can become jaded on the process of making friends and keeping them. Well that was me anyway. It was so hard for me to put myself out there to enjoy new people and make friends that are real and honest. Sometimes, even now I meet people who I think are

swinging together

swinging together

always going to be there, but then something like politics for example, end up as a barrier. I honestly don’t know why. I feel like even if people have different opinions it shouldn’t be a big deal. But then again I already wrote about that in my post ‘ Political Ramblings‘. Recently though I have been blessed to have some pretty amazing people come into my life. People I honestly think are going to be there for a very long time. Some have children and some do not. The mothers I have met since not working have become incredible friends to me and I am looking forward to the many years of child rearing that we will enjoy together. 

This last weekend we had the opportunity to spend time with some such friends. They are not from

The Crew! Yep they are all boys, no one wanted their picture taken. :)

The Crew! Yep they are all boys, no one wanted their picture taken. 🙂

this area, I actually met them while working at the brewery and by chance the next day ran into them again with Matt. We hit it off immediately, the guys might as well be brothers, they have three boys who are just a hoot! We only get to see them 2-3 times a year but the time is always precious, encouraging, relaxing and filled with laughter, good food, and a great time!

at an overlook on one of the trails we hiked.

at an overlook on one of the trails we hiked.

We journeyed their direction this time and found ourselves, for a bit, at Pere Marquette Illinois state park. For those of you who live in Hermann and are looking for an affordable, nice family vacation I recommend checking this place out. Grafton is nearby and full of neat little shops, while the park has great hiking trails, a nice camping ground, lodge, restaurant and river access.

A really cool tree we found in the woods while hiking

A really cool tree we found in the woods while hiking

It was a great park and I am sure much more is offered but we didn’t stay there just went there to hike. The rest of the time was spent at their house playing ball, swinging, eating dirt and so on.

Eating dirt

Eating dirt

The older I get the more I appreciate friendships. I still do have friends outside my family that stem from a very early age. We may not talk often or get to see each other much, but I know if need anything they are the ones to call on. I have my family, the greatest friendships I know have been forged with my siblings. Then there are the new friendships that are being built to last but in a much different way. These are the friendships of learning, adventure and excitement. I encourage everyone to look around them at the people they have in their life. Who are they? Are the friends, companions, people you trust? If you aren’t getting out there and putting yourself in a place to meet people and make friends, well you are missing out! Not everyone that comes into your life will stay and that is okay. I have come to appreciate the memories I get to build with even the friends that don’t stay around long, but if you aren’t getting out there you will not meet those people who you can grow with. Have fun!! Meet new people!! The yellow brick road awaits. 🙂

"Look mom, no hands!"

“Look mom, no hands!”

No Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, Just Because, My Kids

What happened to Summer?

08/01/2013 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I can not believe that in two weeks Boyd will be back at school. It seems to me that summer just began. This was a particular blessed summer for me as I was able to enjoy being home with all three of my boys. Last year was the first summer I have ever not worked since I was a teenager. Let’s just say that was a while back! 🙂 Last year Ivan was just a couple of months old and Boyd was working for his grandfather. Well this year I had all three of my boys home and loved every minute 2013 07 06_natasha's pics_0430 of it! Oh sure, there were the…I am going to pull my hair out and scream at the top of my lungs at you, or, ahhh lets just lock the bathroom door and turn the vent on and just sit here because it is the only ‘safe’ room of the house, but none-the-less I actually did enjoy being home this summer with my boys. Boyd was on a traveling baseball team this year and that added quite the dimension to our weekends. There were 2013 07 13_natasha's pics_0344some deep breaths and tense moments between the other adult of the house and I over the constant travel, but I am so thankful for the opportunity Boyd had to further his talent and grow his love for baseball. Elliott has expanded his vocabulary immensely this year to the point of one really having to take note of what one is saying in front of him. His incessant mom, mom, mom, mom, mom is music to my ears!! 🙂 He isn’t a very nice brother to Ivan but there are times Ivan is asking for it!2013 07 03_mom's photos_1811 We have already experienced Elliott closing Ivan between doors, handing out bloody noses and sitting on him constantly! Yes, my house is a house of true boys! Ivan is such a doll. He FINALLY started walking about 3 weeks ago and is now non stop. He looks a little like a bowlegged drunk when he walks, but its pretty entertaining to watch so I am not to worried. 🙂 He is such a little cuddle man and loves to hand out hugs a kisses. Boyd is by far the favorite person in both the boys lives although Noma (my mom), is a very close second.2013 07 06_natasha's pics_0412 2013 07 06_natasha's pics_0503

The Lord has been good and gracious to us. If someone would have told me two years ago that I would have had a summer like the one I just had, I think I may have laughed. Not working has brought this family closer together, made us more frugal, and taught us some important lessons. It is interesting to me that when one actually slows down, stops and takes time to see what they have in their life, how absolutely blessed they should feel, no matter what the social ladder rung is that they are on. I want the time to slow down but in the same breath I am so excited to see what is in store for our little family that what I really want to do is focus on the Lord, His faithfulness to us and be ready for whatever He sends our way! I hope that you all had as blessed a summer as mine. Watch for the post to start coming through of the fun projects we did to keep us busy this year!!2013 07 18_mom's photos_1678

2 Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, Just Because, My Kids, Uncategorized

Why get Dressed?

12/04/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

So I always thought I would be the mom whose kids were dressed cute, and picture perfect everyday. Well it turns out only one of those things happened. They are picture perfect everyday!!! There are just days out there where it is easier not to dress them, (at least not dress them until noon or so). It seems that Elliott has more fun on those days anyway. There will be more days in the future for me to have my kids looking ‘perfect’, right now I just want to enjoy them. (And for those of you wondering, I did not put the glasses or hat on my child, that is all him. He is a special one alright.) 🙂

No Comments - Categories: My Kids, Uncategorized

Our Stories

09/27/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I have found it is hard to write our stories. Stories of our emotions, how we grew up, what maybe changed in our lives and so on. It is hard to admit to mistakes, challenges and distractions we encounter in a path of life. I personally have a hard time facing the failures I have had in my own life. I am not talking about failed dreams or projections on what I thought my life might be when I was younger, I am talking about the failures in everyday life. My emotions get away from me far to often. Of course I try not to yell nor to discourage the adventures of a young boy with their noisy voices, yet I do get very irritated and at times it does happen. Take last night for example.

Matt wanted all of us to play ‘Brain Quest’ with Boyd, which was great, but….I couldn’t get the baby to sleep and he was fussing more than usual. I recently started giving him cereal and I don’t think he is digesting it very well so he was squirmy and wouldn’t settle down. Elliott was just noisy. Everything he did he had to say ‘mom’ first. Everything. Boyd was just unfocused and telling us these long, drawn out stories that don’t really make sense and are hard to follow. At this point my brain is going a hundred different directions and I feel myself getting agitated. So when Matt said he wanted to play a game I came unglued and said, “not until I get the baby to sleep!”. I know it is small but the way I said it was not very nice. Nor was about 30 minutes later when the baby was sleeping, we were playing the game, and Elliott was standing next to me saying, “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom,” (you get the point), and I said: “Elliott, lay down next to your father or go stand in the corner!”. REALLY I mean REALLY. All he wanted to do was to tell me something, yet I let my emotions and lack of patience get in the way.

I think this is pretty normal for mother’s across the board. If it is not, I don’t want to hear about it. 🙂 Really though, I understand that we all have times when our patience runs thin. What I am saying is, that those times are hard to admit. Tonight I watched a film called ‘Sarah’s Key’. I highly recommend it. It is mostly in subtitles as the movie is French I believe, but it was very good. It was about the French/Jewish in 1942 and one family in particular. It tells a little about their story and how it was discovered 60 years later. One of the scenes in the movie though is simply heart wrenching as the mother’s are being torn, literally, away from their younger children and carted off to a concentration camp. It made me want to go hug my children and just hang on to them for dear life. How blessed I am to hear ‘mom’ 165 times during the day. (actually it wouldn’t surprise me if that number was waaaay higher). I can’t imagine the pain and anguish those mother’s were feeling.

I want to be better about telling my story. The stories of my life so my kids know me. I don’t want them to just know my frustrations but I want them to know the pride I feel for them also. I want them to know that even though I have a short fuse at times, it doesn’t mean I love them any less or am not proud of them. I also want them to know my stories. The stories of everyday life that makes us, us. I love my kids and am so proud of them.

I pray I never let go of them, who they are, their wishes and dreams, their emotions and failures, and I pray that I encourage them to pursue the paths they want to take and that I always have time to hear their stories that seem senseless but are oh-so-important to them. I pray that I am a mother that shows love everyday and not frustration.

 

1 Comment - Categories: My Kids

Brotherly Love

09/26/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Before Matt came into the picture one of the things that I really struggled with was the thought that Boyd wasn’t going to have a sibling close to his age. One of the treasures I have taken into my adult life is the relationships I have with my siblings. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t talk to at least two of my brother’s or sister’s and what a blessing it is. So when the thought of Boyd not having those types of relationships would come into my head, well I would get pretty sad. He does have a wonderful relationship with my brother Clark, in fact their relationship is probably more like a sibling relationship than Clark and I. Then I got pregnant with Elliott and my worries changed from Boyd not having a sibling, to not being able to connect with someone 8 years younger than him.

As a parent I think that we worry about our kids a lot. It is almost like it is a given ‘right of passage’ that you will worry. One will worry about the shoes they wear to what kind of adult they are going to be. In my life my worry can consume me. I really struggle with letting Boyd grow and make more decisions on his own. Especially when I see what he wears to school! 🙂 With Boyd I also worry that when he is older he is going to blame me for having more kids. That sounds weird I am sure, but I worry that he is going to think I wanted a ‘new’ family, a ‘younger’ family. Well since I have had Elliott I have seen Boyd grown in ways I didn’t know were possible for a young boy to grow. He just adores his younger brother and is constantly engaging him in activities and Elliott adores him. ‘Boyd’ is the only name Elliott has said consistently since he was about 11 months and from a very young age anything Boyd does, Elliott has to do. He takes care of Elliott with such tenderness and patience, it is a blessing to see. Oh, sure they still argue and Boyd is a normal kid, he likes to tease Elliott. But I believe that is normal sibling behavior.

We have been really struggling with Elliott lately when it comes to bedtime. (If you want to read about those struggles check out my post, “Bedmare“.) Elliott and Boyd shared a room for about a year when we decided to move Boyd upstairs so he could have his privacy. Anyway, in Elliott’s room still has a set of bunk beds in the room along with his crib. From time to time Boyd sleeps in Elliott’s room, but since we started having troubles with Elliott and bed that has stopped. Boyd just keeps begging us to let him sleep with Elliott and that he thinks he can get Elliott to go to sleep. Of course we didn’t think that would make a difference. Last night however we decided to give it a chance. Neither Matt or I thought it would work. We were sitting on the couch listening to Boyd work with Elliott. He was singing to him, telling him it would be okay, reminding him that he was in the room, and twice telling him to get back into bed. All this time Elliott was just crying and screaming. Pretty soon it was quiet. We thought surely the crying would start-up again but it didn’t. Elliott didn’t even get up once during the night, instead he slept until 7:30 this morning. Boyd slept on the top bunk and Elliott on the bottom. We couldn’t believe it. It is the first full night of sleep I have gotten in I don’t know how long.

I guess I am just saying this because it has been a blessing to watch the relationship develop between Elliott and Boyd.  Boyd’s presence with Elliott last night was enough to calm him and make him feel secure. No matter how stressed I get, or want to pull my hair out at the screaming or disorganization, watching my kids grow in these friendships has been amazing. I am such a blessed mom!

1 Comment - Categories: My Kids

‘Bedmare’

09/24/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

What is a ‘Bedmare’ you ask? Well, it is word my husband I use for the nightmare we are in when it comes to bedtime for Elliott. There was a period that bedtime was no big deal for us…it was about two years ago. 🙂 No really, there was a while a few months ago that Elliott would go to bed fine. We would turn on his music, lay him down and boom, he was asleep for 10-11 hours. It was great, we finally felt that we were getting this ‘parenting thing’ in ONE` area figured out. We don’t know what changed with him, but slowly over the course of the last couple months bedtime has been hard again. Now it is just plain agony. We have tried everything. I have read books and listened to what other parents have done with their kids but it isn’t working. It always seems like the books were written by people who didn’t have kids and the advice from other parents comes from people who had the PERFECT kids. I feel like I am failing my child. I know that the ‘crying it out’ method is supposed to be the most effective, but it isn’t working. I am afraid that our neighbors are going to call DFS because of all the crying they are hearing! So what do we do? We have tried moving him to a ‘big’ bed but that doesn’t work either. Right now the only thing working is putting him on the couch where he eventually falls asleep and then one of us sleeps in the living room incase he wakes up and needs something.

The thought of failing my kids doesn’t set well with me. It doesn’t set well with any parent I know actually. So I am asking for your tips and advice. Matt and I aren’t getting much sleep, one of the bonuses of parenting we realize, but it is getting to the point now that we need sleep. Ivan is tired often as well because any time Elliott cries he wakes Ivan up and then that is another battle we have to fight. I am not complaining, but I want other parents out there to know that if your kid isn’t sleeping, you are not alone. I have no tips or answers to give you but I sure could use some from you guys!!

No Comments - Categories: My Kids

So Proud

09/07/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

A child grabs a mother’s heart in many different ways. It is amazing to me how you can love all your children equally, yet in different ways. I have enjoyed seeing the many seasons of the growing relationship I have with my oldest, Boyd. It was just him and I for so many years, that was it. Can’t say I was always the most stable mom but I certainly tried to do the best I could. I was young, fun and shared a lot with him. He was more than my son, he was my best friend. If I was having a bad day he always knew how to make it better. Even to this day he knows the right thing to say if I am upset. Of course he isn’t perfect. He is starting to get that ‘attitude’, you know the one that parents are not so keen on seeing in their kids.  Matt and I try to let him be pretty independent though and we try to not squelch ideas he has or conversations he wants to start, so I guess the ‘attitude’ could be looked at as our fault. Anyway he is a good kid.

Last year he started to show more of an interest in academics. He love his sports also and excels with pitching, but he wanted to push for the perfect grade and the enrichment class that the school has. He had a really great year in 4th grade and at the beginning of 5th grade this year, he was selected to test for the enrichment class. He was so excited. Well testing was this past week and Boyd had really good feelings about the tests that he took. To get into the enrichment classes he was going to have to score in the top 5% of the tests that were being given. Today he came home and just burst into tears…he didn’t make the cut. His scores were still really great, very close to the cut off but just not quite there. It was hard to see him so upset but I told him how proud I was and am of him!!

To him getting in enrichment was the prize, which is great, but I want him to be proud of the journey also. In our lives we often miss enjoying the journey, taking pride in the small accomplishments and trials of life. I was him to learn to be proud no matter the outcome as long as he is trying his best.

I love you Boyd Ian and I am so proud of you!!!

2 Comments - Categories: My Kids