Friday, March 28, 2014

The Great Debate

Homeschool vs non homeschool. It's a pretty hot topic right now in the education world. There are so many options out there to choose from regarding the education of your children. I grew up going to the same tiny public school from kindergarten on through graduation and enjoyed it. And because of that positive experience, I wanted the same for my kids. So that brings us to the great debate...

There were several local schools here that we had considered and we chose a small charter school with great teachers and that had a small school feel to it. Alena has done very well there and we love her first grade teacher because she saw how smart Alena was and is actually doing some individualized/extra teaching for her (she has Alena doing 3rd grade spelling AND math work).

BUT with this sudden move and the fact that we will be going with just one month of school left, I didn't want to enroll Alena in a school for such a short time. Especially with everything that is going on; her daddy going overseas, we move across the country, all these life changing things. So I don't want to add more stress in her life. I have already spoke with her teacher and she assured me Alena would have no problem going into second grade come this fall. Christian's teachers have also let us know many times that he is WAY ready for kindergarten.

So what am I getting at? I will be getting a sort of curriculum for Alena from her teacher so I can work with her at home. Basically, homeschooling for that last month. And it got me thinking...

Can I do this? Can I actually teach my children? Kids learn stuff from their parents all the time but really learning; that's a whole new ball game. That would mean I'm responsible for so much more. Science, History, Math, English, all those subjects! It's intimidating. Not to mention that Alena is not one who likes to take any sort of teaching or directions from me. We butt heads so much! And Christian is your typical can't hold still rough and rowdy boy so that would be a challenge on my patience for sure.

We'll be living with my parents for the duration of Gabe's deployment. I'm not a big fan of the school district that they live in. The kids would end up riding the bus every day (unless I drive them which I do now and do not enjoy it) totaling about two hours. Add in the six hours they would be at school and almost their entire day is taken up by school. The next closest school district is the one I grew up in. While I love the idea that they would be in the same classrooms I sat in 20+ years ago, (Eek, I'm getting old!) I would be shuttling them to and from school every day. Driving every day is something I am trying to avoid. I do it now for two different schools (Alena and Christian do not go to the same school; it's unavoidable) and it puts not only myself but Noah in the car an extra 3 times a day. Almost every day I'm either waking Noah up from naps or he ends up falling asleep in the car because of drop offs and pick ups and I think parents can understand the frustration that comes with that. Not mention that it leaves me with a lot less time to get stuff done. Driving them to and from school in Ohio would be an even greater pain when you mix in the fact that the distance would be three times more than here in Arizona making time in the car also that much more. Driving is just not an option I will consider at this point.

As of now, I'm seeing a lot of positives for homeschooling. Yes, there are some negatives too (can we say mommy's gonna need a break and a drink?!). Alena is already doing third grade work when she's only in first. Christian's teachers how told us how far above kindergarten he is already. Homeschooling would give us the opportunity to continue on this advanced pace. It also allows us to visit the in laws without having to wait for a school break. And let's not forget that when Gabe has his R&R, they will not be missing school OR miss spending time with their daddy.

What I'm getting around to with this novel of a post is that I think for this upcoming school year, homeschooling is our best option. That's not to say that the following year they will go back to public school or we'll be homeschooling again. I don't know what will happen. We're just going to take things one day at a time and I'm going to do LOTS of praying for patience and sanity. And coffee. :)

I never actually thought I would homeschool. Just like I never thought I would breastfeed until two years or that I would have a home birth, or do many of the other parenting decisions we all face differently than I first thought. Isn't that how life and parenting goes though? You always think you know how things will go but we actually don't. And believe me, this decision surprises me probably more so than anyone else.

And the life changes just keep coming...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Last Days

Gabe leaves tomorrow so today we're spending as much quality time together as possible. Since we found out Gabe was going overseas we've been going nonstop with the yard sale, packing, getting ready to move, and trying to spend time together as a family. Here's a lot of pictures of what we've been up to the past couple of weeks.

We sold most of our furniture right at the start so we're left with camping chairs. This was how we ate our pizza dinner.

We had some fun at the mall with the safari animal rides.

There was a carnival in town so of course we hit it up. Noah wanted nothing to do with being held so he walked around and made friends while the kids rode the rides. He loved this dog and walked right up to him, mouth open giving kisses!

The clippers tickle!

Next up were haircuts for all the boys! I didn't want Noah to have one yet (I want him looking like a baby for as long as possible!) but did want Gabe to be there for his first one. So he got one and I was right, he looks so OLD! He did really well and as you can see in the above pic, even enjoyed the clippers. Noah was giggling because it tickled. He got restless after about five minutes so I kept him occupied with M&Ms (sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do).

Not pictured were many meals spent out to Texas Road House, Buffalo Wild Wings, pizza, Chipotle, and asian meals; many bedtime wrestling matches, trip to the movies, playing at the skate park, family photos, and more that I'm forgetting. It's been quite a whirlwind and won't be slowing down any time soon. The kids are going to miss havingdaddy around and I'm definitely going to miss having my husband and partner around.

Please pray for his safety and keep us in your thoughts during this hectic time.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Noah - 11 Months

Weight - 18.1 lbs  Not really any gain but it's not concerning me any.

Height - 29 in  Getting long and skinny.

Appearance - Where has my baby gone?! When awake, you are all toddler. I feel like I only have my baby when you are asleep. You have blond hair and blue eyes, although in certain lights you definitely have hints of red in your hair.

Eating - This has been the month that your nursing has started to space out! We're talking around 4 hours sometimes. You love food and will give everything a try. Yogurt, bananas, Oreos (when he can get a taste), apples, chicken, and others I can't think of at the moment are your favorites.

Sleeping - Because of the upcoming move and the fact that our furniture is already gone, I nurse you to sleep in bed. Your naps have actually gotten better/longer lately! I think because you are spacing out your daytime nursing sessions, you are making up for it at night because you are practically latched all night long. You go down around 9 pm and sleep until 7-8 am.

Sizes -  You wear are wearing 12 month clothes and size 3 diapers. You do have a few Old Navy brand 6-12 months outfits but this may be the last month you'll wear them. You rarely wear shoes but they are size 3 or 12-18 months.

Milestones - Climbing! We have to keep the step stool folded up or we will find you at the top reaching for everything on the counter.

I can't believe I'm even typing this but you have vocabulary! We have heard you say "more, all done, hi, dada, and mama"

Your babbling has really taken off! You like to make your presence known to everyone. You talk and talk so much and we love it. Although, when we're in a store or church and you are bellowing your happy yells, not so much. But at least you're happy. :)

You get into SO much! I know it's normal but goodness, you grab anything in your reach and turn it into a toy. You don't even play with your real toys.

Likes - wrestling, being outside, swinging (LOVE it and will cry when we take you off), watching Alena and Christian play, looking out the windows and doors
Dislikes - baths (still don't this month and is the strangest thing considering how much you used to love it), having things taken from you like toys or something you shouldn't be having, when you have a dirty diaper, diaper changes, coming inside when you're playing outside

Your personality is bursting this month and you are the funniest kid! Noah, you are always making us laugh. You mastered walking and quickly moved onto running. Daddy introduced you to "magic chocolate" for when you get hurt (which is quite a bit since you are SO active) and it always works. Just one or two chocolate chips does the trick. The toddler tantrums have already begun. We're talking on the ground, crying, and dramatic. I can't believe you are only one month from turning one! We love you so so SOOO much Noah!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Me! I occasionally do blog hops for fun and to put my own blog out there. I've found many of the bogs I follow through these hops. There's one I found not too long ago that quickly became a fave. The Blogger's Digest by Pig & Dac.

I had added my post on How Breastfeeding Changed My Life and it was highlighted! I never in a million years expected it and was excited to see my post in the featured section. Thank you! So hop on over to Pig & Dac and join in the fun!

Friday, March 14, 2014


Life has pretty much been turned upside down for us all and has not slowed down a bit since getting word of Gabe's upcoming deployment. I don't think any of us have had proper time to process it and I'm just waiting for it to hit.

I'm having a yard sale and the house is.... Well, trashed. Everything has come out of storage to be sorted through and either kept, put in the yard sale, or thrown away. We've managed to sell almost ALL of our large furniture items. I see it as good and bad. Good because that's one less thing to worry about. And bad because we have nowhere to sit!
The mess that is driving me crazy.
I spend almost every night sleeping in this position. On my back with Noah sprawled across me, latched on. It's not ideal but he's teething and has no idea what's going on but knows that things are changing so he's extra fussy and clingy.

Noah's just amazing me every day with everything he's learning and doing. His newest tricks are climbing and running. Running! What kind of baby runs this young?! Every step stool has to be folded and put away or he'll climb them and I've already lost an almost full cup of coffee to his climbing and grabbing.

After this week when most stuff is gone and/or packed away, things should slow down a bit and I can continue posting. We're at less than two weeks until Gabe leaves. :( Eek.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

GIANT Changes on the Horizon

I've never kept the fact that we wanted to be closer to family a secret. Arizona was always a 5-10 year plan and this past January, we hit six years. Gabe's job as a military contractor is always up in the air. We were thankfully spared last fall while so many others here were furloughed or worked without pay. It's not an ideal situation to be in when living in a primarily military town and having a growing family to support. It has come to the point where a change had to be made before one was forced upon us.

So that brings us to the GIANT changes...

About a month ago, Gabe began searching for better paying jobs. If you aren't familiar with the contracting world, I'll fill you in. Better pay = overseas jobs. Last time Gabe was in Iraq (Nov 09 - May 11), I had stayed here in Arizona many many miles from any family. I'll admit it, I was miserable. I hadn't made many friends yet and staying at home with two toddlers was tough. It's not something I would want to do again.

Iraq 2010
 We decided I would go home to be with my family while Gabe is over there and Gabe would finish school (again). He was accepted into a program called Troops to Teachers and they'll help him to become a math teacher (something he's always wanted to do and was his original goal pre-military). When he returns home, we're hoping he gets a  job somewhere somewhat close to family.

So we started planning. We contacted a friend who's a realtor to talk about selling the house and discussed what we need to do to get everything ready.We began sorting through our things and selling off items here and there. Fast forward a couple weeks to this past Thursday where we got a call that ignited a fire under our behinds and put us in hurry hurry panic mode!

Gabe was in talks with a couple companies about jobs and we knew it would happen that he would get a job overseas. We just didn't think it would happen as fast as it did. We thought we had some time to sell our things and prepare. WRONG! They called and asked if he could leave on the 19th. Uhh, that gives us two weeks. He talked to them and got it pushed back some, giving us a little more time. So he will leave and then the kids and I are staying to finish everything else we need to do before heading home shortly after.

Those of you who are reading this that are local may have noticed all the posts on Facebook selling furniture and everything else. So to answer your questions... Yes, Gabe is going overseas. Yes, we are moving. Yes, we are selling the house. And yes, we will miss you and the weather!

And those of you who live in our hometown. Yes, we are moving to Ohio. Yes, we will be staying there indefinitely. And yes, we are excited about being able to see everyone more than just once a year!

And for any blog readers, please forgive me if blogging is slow. We are very pressed for time but I will do my best to keep up. Our lives along with this blog is about to partake in some major changes and I'm bringing you along for the ride!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Q&A With Alena

I can't believe I never did this sooner! I have several of the "what to ask your kids" or "birthday questions" pins on my Parenting Pinterest board and was feeling like a lousy parent cause I would never have these answers to remember. Well, Pinterest is a good way to make anyone feel inferior even though I know I'm not. BUT! I went ahead and finally just did it anyway. Of course, Christian being a typical 5 year old boy, all his answers were "I don't know." so we'll get him another day. But Alena was cooperative and I think she gave some great responses.

  1. What scares you the most? - "I always think wolves are watching me and are under my bed when I try walking out of my room."
  2. What was the happiest day of your life? - "When we went to that super fun water park."
  3. If you could change something about the world, what would it be? -  "That childbirth wouldn't be painful and people would never die because I never want grandma and grandpa to die."
  4. What is something you can't live without? - "You can't live without food, water, or clothes."
  5. What is your favorite movie or TV show? - "19 Kids and Counting."
  6. If you could have one super power, what would it be? - "Good eyesight and ice."
  7. What don't you like about being a kid? - "That Christian is always annoying."
  8. What do you like about being a kid? - "That I don't have to do all the laundry, dishes, and all the mom stuff."
  9. Describe a perfect day - "My wedding day."
  10. What job do you want when you are a grownup? - (after telling me to change grownup to teenager) "Babysitting."
  11. Who are your best friends and why? - "My stuffed animals, my bed because I love it so much, and Tylah.
  12. What is your favorite color? - "Pink, purple, gold, and silver."
  13. What is your favorite holiday? - "Christmas and Halloween because you get presents and candy."
  14. What is your favorite thing about yourself? - "That I'm very cute and I'm a Walters' daughter."
  15. Where would you like to travel? - "Grandma and grandpa's house."
  16. What is your favorite thing about our family? - "That we have Walters DNA in our blood."
  17. What annoys you the most? - "Christian!"
  18. What are you proud that you can do? - "That I can snap (fingers), whistle, and do cartwheels and stuff."
  19. What is one thing mommy always tells you? - "Do your homework before you play."
  20. Who is your hero?- "Daddy, my teachers, and you (mommy)."

I got some real gems in there! Now if I could get Christian to sit still for five minutes to answer some, I'll be golden. Have you ever done anything like this with your kid(s)? What were their responses?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Park Play

With as mild as this winter has been, we've been trying to enjoy the outside before one hundred degree temps hit us. This was Noah's first trip to the park since he started walking and he really enjoyed the freedom to move.

Swings are a favorite in our family.
I managed to snap a pic with myself in it since those are rare around here because I'm always the one behind the camera.

Noah loves to walk and doesn't have a care in the world when he's down and off. He just starts walking away without looking back to make sure we're near. Definitely going to have to watch this one when we're out!

It's always nice to have another who can "fetch" him.

That grin... gets me every time.
Tell me, are you stuck in the cold and snow? Or are you lucky like we are with sunny and warm?

Monday, March 3, 2014

On How Breastfeeding Changed My Life

I've had this post floating around in my head for a while now and I was just trying to find the right words as this is such a touchy and emotional subject. But alas, the right words never seemed to come so I'm just going to throw out what comes from my mind to my fingertips.

I grew up in a very conservative home where it was shameful to show your body and your body was never talked about. I don't even remember ever seeing a breastfeeding baby until I was in high school working at a local family restaurant. There was a mother sitting at a table with at least 10 others and she was nursing her baby uncovered. At the time I was slightly grossed out and embarrassed to see it.

I never thought about breastfeeding after that until Gabe and I broached the subject of having kids. He comes from a large pro-breastfeeding family. I remember him asking me how long I would nurse for and being appalled when I responded with "3 months". I didn't have a good reason for that; it was just a number I pulled out of my head.

Fast forward to Alena's birth. We chose to induce at 38weeks 1day because Gabe was deployed to Afghanistan and we wanted him to be at the birth. When she was born, my whole family and some friends were there and I didn't get a chance to nurse Alena until an hour or more after her birth. It took a lot of effort and frustration as Gabe and I were alone in the room trying to get breastfeeding started. I had one more visitor come in and while we were talking, Alena just latched on all by herself! But then all she wanted to do was sleep. And sleep. And sleep some more. By morning, we were worried because she hadn't eaten again and asked the nurses if there was anything they could do. They gave her a small syringe full of formula and sent the lactation consultant my way. She recommend a nipple shield which would live to be the bane of my existence.

To keep this from getting too long, I'll give you the cliff notes from the next four months. Because we never got a great start in the hospital, my lack of knowledge, huge lack of support, and my postpartum depression that went untreated, I had an extremely hard time with nursing. We were bombarded with visitors too soon after returning home from the hospital and Gabe went back to Afghanistan when Alena was 10 days old leaving me with family who have never had successful breastfeeding relationships with their own children. I didn't know what to do and was too embarrassed to ask for help (BIG mistake on my part!). I was also lead to believe that I wasn't making enough (which I know now I was) and that "you've had a good start and it's OK to stop now". So I gave up after four months of breastfeeding and regret it to this day. Am I happy I was able to provide for her that long? Yes but I know I could have done more. To this day I believe that our relationship has suffered and is not as strong as the bond I have with the boys as a result.

Besides the regret, I didn't give breastfeeding another thought until I was pregnant with Christian. "This time," I thought, "I will not see a lactation consultant (I feel her giving me the shield did more damage than good) and I'm just going to go with the flow and see what happens." And at 38weeks 3days, I was induced; this time it was just the Dr who wanted to induce because my fluid was "low", but STILL in the normal range! I was able to nurse Christian much sooner because we had no one in the hospital waiting to hold/see him.

There was a little bit of struggling to get him to latch but he got it and got it good. He ate more times in the hospital and we didn't have any problems. I refused to even let the lactation consultant into the room in fear that it would mess up the good thing we had going. Again, long story short... I started pumping as soon as my milk came in "just in case" and Christian was always a good nurser so I knew there were no supply issues.

And here is where the life changing started to happen. The longer Christian nursed, the more I wanted to keep going, and the more I researched about all things pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. I read tons of books, blogs, and Facebook pages gaining knowledge; making me realize the mistakes that were made with Alena's birth and breastfeeding failure. And also about how I should not have let my OBGYN talk me into an induction with Christian.

I had 4+ years of research and experience under my belt when Noah came along and this time, I have no regrets and feel like we got it right. Not only am I more confident in our decisions, but I feel like a better mother than I was before. I've realized that the more I learn or do, the "crunchier" or more of an Attachment Parent I become. From home birthing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering, non/selective vax, not circumcising, non CIO (cry it out), you get it you get it. I don't do it as part of a fad. I don't do it to show off or because I feel superior. I do these things because it's what I feel is best and works for MY family. It feels right and natural.

Nursing Alena has helped me garner the experience and understanding to sympathize with others going through their own struggles. Nursing Christian and Noah has gained me the knowledge and know-how to help those struggling and to support them.

Through these experiences, I realized what my calling in life was (besides a mother). I found out my passion for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding could be turned into a career. So thanks to my breastfeeding struggles and then the triumphs, I came to make the life changing decision to go back to school. Although the thought of going to school terrifies me, I made the choice last year to sign up with Childbirth International to become a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, and breastfeeding counselor. The job will be challenging to say the least, but I know it is needed and I will be helping others reach their own birth and breastfeeding goals.

I was lucky enough to be able to donate milk to a local mom of an adopted baby this time!

The excitement over the future of my career choice is hard to express in words but just know that I'm jumping for joy inside. I've already made a Facebook page as a place to put out information. I look forward to finishing up school and then start helping others. So thank you, my children and breastfeeding for changing my life.