Wednesday, November 02, 2011

5 incredible years!

Oh how I love this time of year...

5 years ago-not so much. But every. single. year. since- LOVE!

Yes, THIS happened 5 years ago and changed MY world forever.

Changed my faith.

Because I now believe in miracles.

Changed my prayers.

Because I know my prayers are powerful.

Changed my heart.

Because Owen has melted it.

Changed my everything.

Because I can't imagine my days without him in it.

I'm so happy to be saying "Happy 5th Birthday Owen!"

There were deep, dark times when I thought this nor any of the 5 years before now would come. And now-look at you!

You are a preschooler! And oh, how you love Busy Day Preschool!

You love crafts so love all things creative, in fact. You love to dance, and sing (and with no formal training, even;-). You make crazy good coloring pages...and you even mastered writing your name as Owen instead of OMen! Ha!

The last 6 plus months have been super exciting as your physical growth has EXPLODED-off the charts! I can't wait for the official 5 year well-kiddo check-up next week, but for now, I'm guessing about 32 pounds and 39 inches...yes, seriously! That puts you on the growth charts! For the first time -EVER! You have a lean, muscle-y body that amazes us to watch!

You decided to try your skills as a barber this past might not be the career path you should pursue:

So, you ended up with my not-so-professional buzzing skills:

Oh yeah...sorry about the undies pic-I apparently didn't take many pics of you with this buzzed 'do...whoops. But, it was short! And the really weird thing is, when it grew back, there was a weird large area at your crown that is seriously lighter than the rest of the hair...

Well, you can't see it super well in this pic...but trust me-it looks like I tried to dye it;-)

No, not like this...silly!

You also got to go on your first cruise...that was super fun times, huh? I know you remember the swimming pools the most. And then, probably, the hot cocoa every night and the face painting in adventure ocean. It was a great time and fun way to end the summer (and your 4th year of life;-).

You are looking forward to playing t-ball this spring. You haven't participated in any other organized sports yet (well, except for that short stint in the Lil' flipz trampoline class...but we try to forget about that epic fail;-).

You love to play dress up and pretty much anything with Griffin. He calls you O-nen. And I love it. I sometimes call you O-nen because it's just so tute! (Yep, you can't quite say your C's so you replace it with T's;-).

You sure have come a long way! From this:

to this at one year:

to this at 2 years:

to this at 3 years:

to this at 4 years:

and here we are now at 5 years:

Holy face paint Batman! I sure wonder what the future holds for you!?!

But I sure welcome it with open arms!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First year under our belt...

The Valiant Academy has just finished its' 2010-2011 school year with 2 students enrolled...

Above TJ last day of 5th grade
Below TJ first day of 5th grade

Above: Jake last day of 1st grade
Below: Jake first day of 1st grade (isn't it cute that he picks monochromatic outfits?).

Just for posterity sake-it was a great year! Jake was done with a whole grade level of math in 6 weeks and then moved slower through 2nd grade math to finish out this year. TJ was done with a grade level of math in 8 weeks and then went onto 5/6th grade to finish out the year. Both TJ and Jake completed 2 levels of spelling as well. The other subjects they finished in their grade level this week.

This summer, I would like to do Spanish with them as well as continue Math Facts with Jake. They will also continue handwriting (Jake learned cursive and has lovely penmenship) by writing Bible Memory verses. And I also plan to have Jake learn (and TJ review) the 50 states and their capitols and some facts like location, etc.

We did lots of fun things this year including a heavy emphasis on frugality and nutrition (coupons and shopping;-), numerous trips (and check-outs and returns) to the library, Space day at Purdue, a fire safety show at Jeff HS, the Erie Canal and conference center tour, Purdue agriculture park for a helicopter/lifeline landing and tour, Indiana State Museum trip, a tour of our local USPS, the nearby fire station tour, and lots AND lots of doctors appointments! We also enjoyed a fabulous vacation-a cruise to the Caribbean: visiting and learning about Belize City, Cozumel, and Costa Maya.

The boys were also very active in diving lessons at Purdue with Boiler Diving Academy up until April, at which time they both began Spring/Summer baseball leagues. Lord willing, Jake will move onto All-stars in June. We are hoping to get back into diving later this summer.

And that pretty much sums up a great 1st and 5th grade year for Jake and TJ!

I am looking forward to a more relaxed June and July before starting 2nd and 6th grade at home again. Owen will attend Busy Day preschool 2 days a week in the afternoon come August. Griffin will probably continue to drive me crazy sneaking food from the pantry, pulling DVD's and CD's out of drawers, and pouring glue, and other sticky substances out in unmentionable places.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

♥ Merry Christmas 2010!!! ♥

Valiant Family Christmas Letter December 2010

It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone (and that it’s only the beginning of December and I’m already writing this year’s Christmas letter!!!). I’m super excited for this year in review, even though it hasn’t been a super exciting year per se…so here goes:

Griffin-our lil’ man is now 19 months old. He’s a fun, cheerful addition to the Valiant brood…always making us laugh with his dancing and babbling. Griffin loves to give kisses and hugs and sings along with songs on the radio. He loves to play with his brothers and he lets us know when he’s been wronged by raising his voice a bit! Griffin has an incredibly content nature (so far) and is definitely easy-going with our crazy, busy family.

Owen-our other lil’ man is now FOUR years old!!! Can you believe it? Our little miracle boy never ceases to amaze us with his crazy antics, quick wit, and huge vocabulary! He has continued to love to sing and dance, though we don’t have him in any formal musical programs. He loves attending his Sunday school classes and WNKoF (Wednesday night kids of Faith) and learning about God and Jesus. If you stop by our house, he’ll likely invite you to play in his room (which he shares with Griffin) and you’ll probably be roped in to a make-believe world of playing house, doctor, school, etc. Owen is learning his letters and how to write his name and our really big news is that he was officially potty trained this summer just in time for him to attend Vacation Bible School for the first time! He loved it (and Mommy & Daddy love one less in diapers!).

Jake & TJ-best buds and now classmates too! Jake had his 7th birthday in September and TJ had his 11th in November. This past spring, TJ was introduced to a less ‘popular’ sport and we decided to enroll both TJ and Jake in the Boiler Diving program at Purdue. Both boys have LOVED the exercise, fun, and opportunity it has provided. We have enjoyed learning more about the sport and watching the Purdue athletes compete as well. The boys aren’t at competition level quite yet, but they both are working hard and having fun! In May, Jake graduated from Kindergarten at Faith Christian School and TJ ended a five year season of his life attending school at FCS. TJ enjoyed playing baseball this summer (something he hasn’t done for a few seasons) and both boys continued diving as well. Jake took swimming lessons (since he really wanted to be able to do more than the dryland portion of the diving classes like TJ) and learned to swim really well, really fast! He went from having a fear of even jumping off the side of the pool in June to doing flips off the 3 meter platform just 3 months later! This summer the boys went on an unprecedented 2 week trip by themselves to Wisconsin to spend time with “Grandma Becca” and family…and to FISH! TJ is especially into fishing! The kid dreams in fish. They had a great time and we capped off the 2 weeks by attending my brother Andrew ‘s wedding reception. Welcome to the ‘crazy’ family Amanda!

This back to school season was quite different for our family…we went from getting up and driving the boys to FCS every day, to ‘simply’ walking to the kitchen table! Yes, we are homeschooling now. It’s been a challenging but rewarding 4 months and the boys have done excellent! Both TJ and Jake flew through an entire grade level of math already and they have both just jumped a level in spelling as well. We don’t have every subject mastered (curriculum choice-wise) but are enjoying the ride. The field trips are definitely the best part! Oh, and both boys have read several books too…ok, several is an understatement-we tell them often how blessed they are that they have a love and gift for reading.

Tim-is still working at Walgreens. He’s in his 13th year with the company actually. He has been at his current store since it opened 2 1/2 years ago. When not at work, Tim keeps busy playing with the boys, and taking care of household budget stuff and helping out around the house. He also serves in our church by teaching finance and time management classes to College students along with providing personal budget/financial counseling. We are also still enjoying serving in the college aged ministry…-ask him about his assassination attempts from this summer if you see him around.

Renay-I worked this past year for the Indiana Immunization Coalition part-time from home. However, as homeschooling has become my primary focus, I recently turned in my notice and will be ‘officially’ unemployed in 2011 for the first time since TJ was a newborn (YAY!!!). I’m loving this new, but very different season of life and am happy to almost have one semester of homeschooling behind us. Oh, and I still love ‘couponing’ and deal seeking. I’ve even added Goodwill shopping to my repertoire. I’m excited to possibly have more time (though less cash) to deal seek in the near future.

As 2010 draws to a close, the warm thoughts of the abundant blessings in our lives are at the forefront of my mind. John 10:10b confirms this for us, when Jesus states “I came so that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. While 2010 was not a year filled with big news, nor spectacular life changes, it was a good year. It was a blessed year. And it certainly was an abundant year! We pray you also have had an abundant year and are blessed with an abundant year to come!

Love, The Valiant’s
~Tim, Renay, TJ, Jake, Owen, & Griffin

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday Owen Elijah!

When I post lately, I start off by apologizing for not posting for so long...this time is no different. I believe it's a good thing and a sign of the busy times in my "Valiant" days. I don't have the time to put in to this post that I would like to, nor am I going to be an editing/grammar queen, but I want to get a few thoughts down as I feel very much like an update is in order...

Can you believe this happened FOUR years AGO?

I know I can't...we welcomed the COMPLETE miracle baby, Owen Elijah Valiant into this world 8 weeks before he was due to be born, and with little hope for his tiny life. Weighing in at an incredibly tiny for gestation 2 pounds 13 ounces, and only 14 1/4 inches long...oh my word how far this little man has come!

Now on his 4th birthday, weighing in at a whopping 26 pounds and 6 ounces, towering at 35 1/2 inches...this still small for age little boy shows no signs of slowing down.

He has a larger than life personality and has been called "intense", "passionate", "dramatic", and so much more! Singing and dancing his way through quoting not-exactly--appropriate lines from TV shows and movies (he does a killer "Pinocchio from Shrek" impersonation when the mood strikes). Loving to play outside, dress up, carry a 'satchel', kicking like Karate Kid, diving (air dives) like David Boudia...oh how I could go on.

...Okay-so maybe I will a bit more:-)

A smile to melt your heart, an attitude to light a burning fire in his family, and some pretty BIG faith for a young one.

It's hard to believe he's endured countless tests, scores of doctors visits, 3 surgeries, x-rays, cat scans, months of Doc-band wearing, 2 years of physical and occupational therapy, and I'm even probably leaving out some other low-lights;-)

This kid is nearly 10 times his birth weight, out running his momma, out talking his daddy, out smarting his brothers...he is TRULY SUCH an incredible boy- I can't imagine not being his mommy!

I will leave you with some pics and a clip of Owen doing an original song and an oldie-but-goodie.

Youtube video of Owen singing ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Finally, another Valiant Update...

I've been feel the urge to post an update on our lives for awhile now...not sure anyone will be reading it, but at least it's here for the sake of journaling;)

I can't believe how facebook has killed my blogging life. I used to blog and read blogs, now I jump on fb and check out what's going on with people, so I'm sure I'm missing out but, this is the season where God has me.

So, all is well with the Lafayette Valiant Clan. We've had quite a few changes these past several months...

Disclaimer: As I read all the stuff I wrote when I was editing this post, I found myself hoping our update is read in the genuine tone I wrote it in-which is the perspective of a proud mama who truly knows how blessed she is ;-)

2 Corinthians 10:17 But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD.

Here's an update on the boys:

Griffin 15 months: recent check-up revealed he continues to be on the peanut side of growth;) He was 18 pounds and 28 1/2 inches. He just started walking a few days before turning 15 months old. The doctor was concerned about his small *read non-existent* vocabulary...and wants us to contact first steps and be diligent in teaching Griffin to sign. Call me laid-back but, I'm sooo not worried about my content little man. He's quiet because he doesn't need to speak as his brothers say things for him and are at his every need;) He's a picky eater and does everything better for just about anyone else than me. He's a busy body always trying to explore. He catches onto things because he's simply so observant-ie he now bows his head to pray and holds his hands together at meal time just because he watches us. He also waves goodbye when people simply talk about leaving and he says "hello" when he put a toy phone to his ear. He has figured out that stacking up pillows=an escape route when he's not tall enough to climb unaided. I swear he says "night, night", "love you", "thank you", etc but it's something most people wouldn't pick up on.

Owen 3 years 8 months: This kid cracks us up daily! He's truly something else. Owen is 'still' small, though he wouldn't tell you that. He constantly talks about how he's growing up and how big he's getting. He's finally *read seriously, how long can it take?* potty trained for the most part. He can also ride a tricycle now, which simply took his length to be long enough to reach pedals, etc. He LOVES playing outside with all our neighbors and they all love him too! He's gotten quite the personality from playing with mostly girls...he compliments females all the time saying things such as I like your dress, your earrings are pretty, I like your hair, etc. It's a hoot! He's quite the ladies man. He's very socially outgoing and makes friends very easily. He loves to sing and dance and makes up lots of songs. He has learned to sing the books of the old testament pretty well-he calls that song "Genesis". We are starting preschool very soon. I have lots of materials ready to go to teach him here at home. He will primarily work on the basics of writing his name, copying letters and letter recognition, coloring in the lines and maybe some cutting *scary*.

Jake 6 years, 10 months: My sweet boy graduated from kindergarten in May and has enjoyed a lazy summer. At his graduation we were surprised that he was honored with a special character award, called the Eagle award. Only one boy and one girl are chosen by their teacher for this special award and when his name was called we were all so surprised and proud of him. He definitely loved his kindergarten year and his teacher Mrs. McQueen was a huge part of the reason he had such a terrific first year in school. Earlier this summer he learned how to ride his bike in literally 5 minutes of Tim helping him. No bike wrecks or anything-a huge plus side of waiting to teach your kid to ride their bike sans training wheels;). Jake's new thing is diving lessons. We enrolled him in the Boiler Diving Academy this Spring mostly because TJ wanted to try out diving and we thought "why not let Jake try it too?". Turns out, Jake is a natural and really loves his diving practices. He started out differently than TJ in that he started in 'dryland' sessions mostly on a trampoline in belts learning basic jumps and body mechanics. You can see the dedication and determination on his face. I am going to try to attach a video of him doing flip after flip in the air-his favorite thing to do in practice. He's up to over 20 consecutive back flips in belts;) The quality is poor as it was taken with my blackberry but it's a pretty cool 13 seconds;-)

TJ will attest it's WAYYYYY harder than it looks. Jake also took swim lessons this summer so he would be able to start water sessions on Diving lessons which he successfully accomplished and indeed began jumping in poolside, even though he had a serious fear of drowning. We are very proud of him overcoming this fear and are hoping his confidence in water safety will continue to grow as he will soon need to go off boards and platforms, thus going deeper under the water and swimming back further distances to the ladder. Jake did play t-ball this summer, which was fine but a little under his skill level as he could've easily done coach pitch, but we didn't realize we should move him up-whoops. Jake will be starting 1st grade and is an eager learner so I'm hoping he will enjoy school starting back up.

TJ 10 years 8 months: TJ finished 4th grade in May and was soooo glad to be done with '4th grade'. He's 10 1/2 going on 16, but not in a miserable defiant teenager way, but more of a 'he's no longer a little boy' way. TJ shocked us by playing baseball this summer-which he quit a couple years ago...he was actually decent for having so much time away from league play and he enjoyed it and his team quite a bit. He even pitched during a game as relief and in 4 pitches the inning was over with no RBI...we were ecstatic for him and he was thrilled at his performance. As I mentioned above, he started diving in the spring. He was one of only a handful kids in his school that tested well enough to start in the Learn to dive program at Boiler Diving Academy at Purdue University. He was doing amazingly working quickly through the lower certificate levels, until he was injured learning to improve his back dive technique. This was a serious set-back for him on many levels...he has become fearful of backdives and has lost some interest in the sport. We are trying to help him work through his fear now (and have been for a few months). He has the month of August off due to construction at the Aquatic facility and we are praying that he will be ready to start back in full-force in September. We are simply not wanting him to quit because he got hurt and thinks it's 'too hard' is hard and he can't quit at life so we want him to learn from this and persevere. TJ is starting 5th grade shortly and is actually excited about this upcoming year of school. Through much prayer, research, and deliberation, we have decided to try homeschooling our boys this fall. I have received lots of help and advice from those who've succeeded and even those who've stopped homeschooling. I have our curriculum all ready to go and a nice plan in place to give PreK3, 1st, and 5th grades a go and would love your prayers for a successful year. We are excited but nervous about such a major change in our lives.

We also have a college aged fella living in our home now, named Justin (JB). TJ offered to give up his room and move in with Jake in order to give Justin a leg up on achieving some financial goals he otherwise would've not been able to meet. Justin has been a blessing to our family this summer serving us with his fun spirit, blessing us with occasional childcare, and lending a hand around the house.

Tim and I are in love *yes, you may vomit now* and enjoying our family of 6 plus JB. We love couponing together and saving money on various grocery and drug store deals. Tim is excited about me homeschooling the boys and I am just nervous about it;-). It seems foreign to not be out with school supply lists and back to school clothes shopping. I am enjoying serving in the Women's ministry in our church. Tim enjoys counseling those in need financially. We are both *really* enjoying serving in the College Ministry-but it makes us feel a bit old and out of touch at times...we are seriously lame I have found. I just learned how to text message...see, lame!

I am officially unemployed as a nurse as of June. I hadn't worked since the fall of '09 though. I let me PRN status elapse so I left Clarian officially on good terms in case I ever want to return. I miss being a Labor and Delivery nurse but I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a stay at home mom. And for the record, I'm not unemployed all together as I work part-time from home for the Indiana Immunization Coalition as the administrative assistant to the Executive Director (who is my sis, Heather) and let me tell you it's a *sweet* gig.

That's about everything I can think of as far as updates go-but I'm sure I'm missing tons of minor details. TJ and Jake are in WI right now visiting their Grandma and Grandpa (my side) and being spoiled I'm certain. We will be heading up to get them in a week and doing a mini-vacay fishing and such during their Shanty days festival. I miss them TONS but am keeping busy with Owen and Griffin trying to do special things with them and making up the slack for all the chores that the older two do each day...I didn't realize how much their chores or emptying the dishwasher, opening the blonds, sweeping the floor, etc really help out. I may start blogging more about our adventures as a homeschooling family but haven't decided for sure. I would appreciate prayers for our family as we embark on this new season of life!

Monday, April 26, 2010

...and he's ONE!

My baby boy is one year old! We celebrated with a fun swimming party.

Enjoy the pictures from this special time!

he was less than interested in blowing out his own candle!

I chose cupcakes as the theme:-)

The 'cupcake' eating started out innocently enough...

...but he decided to rub his head.

We ended the fun times with a bath in the pool (he, he). He had fun in the water and even enjoyed 'hanging poolside' with his new baby cousin Ciana.

Thanks to all who came and celebrated with us-we missed those of you who couldn't be there with us;-)

His one year check up is tomorrow-so I'll add to this post with his stats after the visit;-)

***Update with stats***

Weight 17 pounds 5 oz
Length 28 inches (finally on the growth charts in around the 5th%tile!!!)

It looks like Griffin is following in Owen's smaller footsteps...Owen was 16 pounds and 26 inches at a year (and he was born 2 months early, unlike Griffin who doesn't get any age adjustment on growth curves;-). So, Griffin is not on the charts for weight, but if you compare his height vs weight, he is doing fine and he doesn't look skinny. I am for sure that he has the least amount of hair of any of my other boys at one! The MD mentioned growth hormones which I'm not interested in for a whole slew of reasons...Owen and Griffin are who they are-thank you Lord for giving me (us) these amazing boys!