Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!!!

From our 2009 'New Year's' letter:

Greetings one and all! I can hardly believe another year has come and gone! This year we have been mightily blessed and pray you have seen many good times and share in many more to come.

Our biggest "little" news is our newest addition to the Valiant family: Griffin Isaiah Valiant. He was born on April 24th and weighed in at 6 pounds 12 ounces. He was just 3 weeks early and after a short stay in the NICU was released to home with his momma. He turned 8 months old on Christmas Eve and surprised us all on Christmas Day by uttering his first words..."Da-Da". It was a delightful present! It has been a wonderful eight months with this AMAZINGLY good baby! He has advanced out of most of the newer baby type milestones and is already sitting up, eating solid foods, rolling around, and more! He's about 15 pounds or so and is perfectly healthy. He doesn’t have any teeth yet, but boy is he a drooler! He likes to smile and play peek-a-boo and his big brother Jake loves to make this ticklish baby boy laugh . I really can't say enough about our newest son-Griffin is so very good!

On to our spunky little Owen: Owen turned 3 years old on November 3rd. He is such a "big" boy now-well, mostly. He adores his 3 brothers and calls "Diffin" his little "tup-take" and "butter-tup". He's a "hefty" 24 pounds these days and had a busy year with a few surgeries, including a tonsil and adenoidectomy in which he recovered with NO pain medication-not even tylenol. He's amazing. For being a little guy, I bet you'd say he has one of the biggest personalities you ever saw if you could spend an afternoon with him. He sings and dances like you wouldn't believe. He loves music and just recently has started quoting movies like 'The Santa Clause'. He isn't potty trained yet and he has NO desire to be, but I have a plan and am praying he is potty trained soon.

Jake turned 6 in September and began kindergarten this year. He loves his half day kindergarten class and his sweet teacher. He's a healthy, hard headed but sweet boy who loves to tell us what he is learning like his Bible Verses and his sight words. He loves his DS and the Wii and he loves to play with his neighborhood friends. He also loves to quote movies and joined the Kids of faith Choir (from our church). He enjoyed another season of t-ball this past summer and even more so loved playing his first season of soccer. He is now involved with basketball and isn't so sure yet if basketball is his thing. Jake is probably our most passionate child. Whatever he does (good or bad), he does 100%. He's quite the problem solver too.

TJ is now TEN years old!!! He is a 4th grader at Faith Christian School, which he is finding much harder than previous grades. He has finally started losing teeth and is up to 6 teeth lost now and we see braces in his future . He enjoyed soccer this fall more than he thought he would (he hadn’t played in years!). He was quite good at it. He is now enjoying basketball this winter season. He loves playing his DS and fishing is his newfound LOVE. He even got to go ice fishing over this Christmas break with his Uncle Andrew (my brother who got married on the 4th of December by the way!). TJ still loves to read (especially science and information type books) and he is a really good big brother and is really "growing up" both physically and socially. He's nearly as tall as me now.

Tim is enjoying working at the Creasy Lane Walgreens. He is in his 12th year with Walgreens. Tim is as busy as can be with work and being a great daddy to our four boys (and of course a GREAT husband to me). He volunteers in the community with Habitat for Humanity as a mentor/financial counselor and he serves at our church in the college ministry aiding students with their finances and budgets. He even still reads a bit in his ‘spare time’, and continues to grow his massive book collection. He also serves on the school's special events committee which plans events to raise funds like the popular Eagle Auction and Eagle Fair coming up in the spring.

I am *loving* being a stay at home mom more than ever. Owen is giving me a run for my money, but Griffin being such a good baby makes up for it –most of the time. I love being able to go to all the boys practices, games and programs. I now have a new "hobby" that has blessed our family this year. I have begun couponing and we are enjoying (as a family) finding great deals and donating lots of freebies along the way. I even took some of my newfound skills and taught a small group of women how to use couponing to be better stewards of what the Lord has blessed them with. Being that our annual Christmas letter has become a New Year's letter, it's obvious that I'm quite the busy wife and momma and at times my days are so full, I simply don't get everything done. But, our boys are loved and well-cared for and that's what really matters. It's nice to be able to look towards 2010 this year and make goals for myself and our family and not worry about an outside work schedule and what-not.

We pray that you also look to 2010 with much anticipation of all that you can achieve. Hopefully, next year we'll be back to the annual Christmas letter, but who knows? It could be an 2011 Easter letter at this pace...4 kids (boys)=busy, busy, busy, BUSY!

Much love and blessings to you in 2010!

~ The Valiant’s

Tim, Renay, TJ, Jake, Owen, & Griffin

PS Find us on the web at our rarely updated family blog and more frequently at Facebook. Our badges to add us as friends are on our blog site.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Da-Da!

Merry Christmas to everyone! I pray you are all having a special Christmas making memories and remembering Jesus' birthday today.

Tim got a very special gift as while we were opening presents this morning, Griffin starting saying Da-da! What a special gift from our 8 month (yesterday was his 8 month birthday;-).

Enjoy these pics of our lovies!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

40 days without french fries...

I did it!

Exactly 40 days ago I started my journey of 40 days without french fries and am proud to say "I actually did it!!!".

So, it's been a mostly private journey...few knew about the no fries plan. Just a few more knew I joined weight watchers the same night I gave up fries. 40 days into weight watchers and I'm happy to say I've lost 15 pounds (and am hoping to not gain any over the next couple days-boo thanksgiving feast-boo!!!).

I still have a significant way to go but am shocked that 5 weeks can make such a difference.

To explain why I went 40 days without my beloved fries: I knew I needed to make some major changes and french fires, specifically McDonald's french fries are soooo addictive.

I decided if Jesus could go through the desert without food for 40 days, I certainly could manage the "pain" of no french fries for the same time period.

It was hard-I had ample opportunity to cheat, sneak, and binge but I said no to those deceptive little fries and I'm so glad I did it.

Would you be willing to give up anything for 40 days to significantly impact your health and honor God?

PS Thanks to my friend Kara, hubby and sis Heath for their support during these challenging 40 days...til' death do us part;-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Owen's turn...

I keep forgetting to post this since I've known about it for less than a week, but Owen is having surgery tomorrow morning at 9:45am. He is having his tonsils and adenoids removed and his ear tubes taken out (because they aren't in place properly now). Please pray for the little guy as this will be his 4th surgery in less than 3 years! Plus, it's just hard on kiddos to be in pain and not understand. I'll post updates as I have them;-)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy Birthday TJ...the BIG 1-0!!!!

Wow! I can't believe it has been TEN amazing years with you blessing our lives..

Our precious 1st born son. We have seen sooo many amazing and blessed firsts with you TJ! We are so proud of you, our awesome 4th grade boy!

My how you've grown-when you FINALLY arrived into this world (some very painstaking 5 days overdue and via induced labor) you weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces. I carried you WEEKS longer than any of your siblings and you were by far the biggest baby-you were so big I almost needed a c-section to deliver you, but my amazingly skilled Doctor (Dr. Kevin Miller who is dearly missed in the Lafayette area since his move) was able to get you out with a vacuum assisted delivery and you had quite the crooked head;-) Thankfully, it's rounded out nowadays;-) Now you are almost as tall as mommy and your feet are almost as big as mine too! I wonder if you will be taller than your dad someday soon?

You were a very content and sweet baby. Everyone always commented about how cute you alot. You were sooo smart early on. You saw the world in the most amazing light. At the ripe age of two you picked up every speck of "tash" in sight and you could read tons of words (thanks to your daddy's hard work teaching you how to read).

You've come a long way since those early years...just the other day you reported to your father and I that you have decided what you want to be when you grow up- a police officer. That's a long way from your previous reported future aspirations of working as the "boss in construction".

You have claimed Jesus as your Lord and Savior since you were just 4 years old and you led your brother Jake to the Lord just last year. You have infectious laughter and a big tooth"less" smile. You love many sports and creative projects and destroying and rebuilding things. You love catching bugs and frogs and getting dirty and you really love FISHING...oh how that's an understatement. I think you'd move to Wisconsin with your Grandpa Andy and Uncle Andrew if we'd let you because of your shared love of outdoor fun.

I could go on all day bragging about you and how special you are to us...

We hope you have a very special 10th birthday and always remember how much we love you-even more with each passing day but unimaginably not as much as you Father God loves you!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Three years old!

You need a haircut.

You are exclaiming at this very moment "MOM! I need a tup-take!"

I ignore you in order to type this special blog post. You change your tone to a sweet needy voice, love on "Diffin" and say you want to "tuddle with me".

You are needy beyond measure...

...AND I simply would not want it ANY other way!

3 years ago today, when I woke up in a hospital bed, only 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant with you, I wasn't sure this day would ever come-at least not this side of Heaven.

Boy am I glad doctors can be wrong and that the Good Lord had other plans for you.

At 2 pounds 13 ounces, 14 1/2 inches long, you came into this world "healthy" and never even needed breathing support. You simply needed to remain in the special care nursery until you could eat well on your own and maintain your own temperature.

After 26 days in the NICU, you came home to us at 3 pounds 9 ounces. You've been growing steadily (though slowly) since then.

Now at 3, you can do EVERYTHING your peers can do and then some. You dance and sing like no other 3 year old I've seen (especially not in our not-so musically talented family;-). You run, jump, and play like a wild man! You love the neighbor kids and everyone loves you.

You weigh in at 23 pounds and are 34 inches long. So, you may be the weight of an average 13 month old and the height of an average 18 month old but you sure have a big personality to make up for your smaller size. You wear size 4 shoes (very tiny feet mister!) and 2T clothes swim on you but you don't know it and probably wouldn't care if you did. You have figured out ways to get to what you want and can climb like a champ. Step-stools are your friend and you know no other way. Medically, we are not pursuing any other treatment nor answers regarding your size-you are perfect the way you are!

You love your brothers and they all love you. You bug them sometimes, but in the end, you have a sweet brotherly love with each of your siblings.

You have both super sweet and stinkin' scary sides to you. You must get that from Daddy;-). We were walking through a store today and you were singing your ABC's at the top of your lungs...amazing.

Now, you aren't quite potty trained but you could be if you weren't so stinkin' stubborn! We have a new tactic that we are working on to get you in big boy undies once and for all. You sleep in your big boy bed and can dress yourself from head to toe. You are just finally able to pedal your tricycle that you got for Christmas but you didn't care when you couldn't reach the pedals-you just pushed along on the ground at the speed of light.

You are so excited about your birthday party later today...Chuck-E-Cheese's here we come! Woot-woot!

I feel so blessed that God chose me and your Daddy and brothers to be your family! I pray that we get to see you grow up and that someday there is a special girl that God is "growing up" for you even now to be your wife...oh the patience she'll need;-).

We love you Owen and are so happy to spend this special day-your 3rd birthday with you! Happy Birthday special boy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jake's surgery:

Tomorrow Jake is having surgery. It's become more and more apparent that his poor hygiene practices have left him needing radical dental work:

Ok, ok...just kidding-well, only about the poor hygiene and radical dental work part. He really has a beautiful smile!

And, it shouldn't be affected (at least not for long) by tomorrow's surgery. Tomorrow Jake is having his tonsils and adenoids removed due to sleep apnea. His tonsils are ginormous and he sleep walks and snores and such so we are hoping the surgery improves his sleep habits which should in turn improve his daily life.

I feel at peace about the surgery as his surgeon is very nice and gave us a couple options regarding the surgery. It will be done in the surgery center close to our home and Jake should be recovering at home later the same day. But, with all that being said, I have normal mommy worries and will be going it alone in the morning since the H1N1 flu has caused Clarian to restrict those who accompany patients (very understandably). My sister was going to go with me but since they explained these new precautions, just me and Jake will be trekking in for the surgery.

He's supposed to be out of school for a week and avoid activity for 2 weeks...hmmm-that'll be interesting. It looks like it'll be a good few days of red box and cartoon network for the Valiant household.

Please pray for the surgery and for Jake's recovery (and for my sanity;-).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy 6 months old today Griffin!!!

What a big boy you are now!

Today you had your first EVER solid foods-rice cereal and bananas...yum!

You seemed to like them and kept moving closer to the spoon but you shuddered a couple times at the banana taste. It was super cute to watch you experience this milestone!

You are getting stronger and closer to rolling over and sitting alone.

No sign of any teeth yet (except tons of drool and incessant gnawing at your hands;-).

You are sleeping in your cradle but are days away from the big move to your crib!

You wear 3-6 and 6-9 month clothes-many of which Owen wore just last year!

You weigh almost 14 pounds (at least that's what you weighed a week ago when you visited the doctor for a dreaded 1st-ear infection!).

Your biggest news is following in your big brother Owen's foot steps and needing to wear a cranial orthotic (called a Star Band) for plagiocephaly. All those big words just mean your noggin' is pretty flat but we'll get it rounded out in no time. You just got your new head band Wednesday and you've done great so far-but today we did notice a dreaded "pink spot" that has been slow to fade so you got to try your solid foods with a "band break".

You belly laugh out loud and coo and grunt and even yell often. You love your brothers and SO FAR all of them love you so much. Owen loves to play Pat-a-cake with you. You are drinking 6-7 ounce bottles every 3-4 hours during the day and still wake up in the wee hours for a bottle too;-)

You (and Owen) both see your pediatrician next week for your 6 month (and 3 year!!!) check ups!

You are such a delight and we all love you so much! Happy 6 month birthday baby boy!

PS Here is a cute shot of you from your 5 month photo shoot (all 4 of you precious Valiant boys have worn those same bib overalls at some point for a monthly picture!):

Saturday, September 26, 2009

6 years ago...

It was 10:12 PM and I was at work doing a precious newborn baby's footprints when I felt a huge "pop/pain" sensation and thought "uh, oh". I had to excuse myself from the delivery room and took off to the employee bathroom with Nitrazine paper in hand.

But I was only 34 weeks and 5 days pregnant...could this really be my water breaking?

The nitrazine paper said YES. Then about a half hour later, my contractions started in full force and my water was GUSHING out like the Niagara falls. Tim hadn't even made it to the hospital yet, but I was in full blown labor!

Then at 12:12 AM on September 27th, my precious baby Jacob Thomas Valiant was born-I was still on the clock too;-).

It was a rocky start for him as his lungs were not mature and he stayed in the NICU for 12 long days...those were dark times for me. I couldn't have imagined that I'd tread even deeper, darker waters with future child bearing (Thank you very much Owen).

Look how far you've come my special boy, who at the ripe age of 5 3/4 decided he wanted his name to be "JAKE".

We love you so much Jakey! Hope you have a very special 6th birthday. I know I likely will not forget it as I've never had 17 neighbor kids (including my 3) over to entertain for a birthday party all while in misery myself of suffering greatly from probable strep throat-results not in yet, thank you slow Urgent Care (don't worry parents of the world-I've been on antibiotics now for over 24 hours and will be on them even longer (almost 48 hours)when the party actually occurs;-)

I have all kinds of fun things planned like a nature scavenger hunt, creature themed charades, cotton ball/plastic spoon relays, musical chairs-plus much more. And we are having "make your own" sundaes and birthday cupcakes. It's sure to add to my gray hair total but all very worth it as I believe Jake will remember this one;-)

Who wouldn't want to search for a dead bug on a scavenger hunt? Fun times!

Oh, in case you were wondering, Jake is still loving his $200 gas meter!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fun times while I should be sleeping...

*As usual, blogger spell checker isn't working---so forgive my typos, etc*

This is what the non-sane people do when they should be sleeping...finally make a blog post about what's been going on.

1st up: the verdict on the new gas meter $65 but with labor, the bill was $189...way more than our typical birthday gift amount for our youngins'.

What's wrong with this picture?

Something you don't see everyday, eh?

Now onto the Owen and his cosmetic fiasco pics I promised...10 for your viewing pleasure...oh the captions I *could* use for some of these shots;-)

Can you believe him? Oi-vey.

We let the boys do soccer this year...2 games down so far...they LOVE it! Who knew? Each of them have been awarded special patches each week-TJ got the best attitude award (at least he gets that somewhere:-) the first week and most improved the 2nd week (he scored FIVE goals -and only one other kid scored 1) and Jake got best effort (and scored a goal too!)! I'm so proud of them. Soccer is way more fun than I thought it would be. I missed TJ's game this week, but here are some shots of Jake in action (or lack thereof;-):

Here's what Owen did the WHOLE time:

Nope, don't worry, not ONE person stared at us the whole game...not one;-) Really-no one shot us glares and snickered as we dealt with our heathen. No one.

Lastly, I couldn't resist showing off my latest couponing score:

The first picture is my Target trip from Saturday: I spent around $16 but left with a $5 Target gift card (so net of $11). Included are 16 individual string cheese, 6 boxes of cereal, 5 boxes of Fiber one bars (da bomb!), 9 individual portion cereal cups, and 2 new bounce dryer bars (haven't tried yet).

Second photo is my Meijer trip from Saturday: I spent $2...yes I'm serious. AND, I walker away with $6 in Meijer bucks (net +$4). Included is 6 boxes of kool-aid singles for a soldier care package donation, 2 boxes corn, 5 bags frozen peas, 2 lysol spray cleaners, 2 lysol toilet bowl cleaners, 5 healthy choice meals, 2 jars pickles, 2 apples, 1 caramel dip, and 1 bag saurkraut.

It was a very fun shopping trip to spend $18 total in cash and walk away with $11 in "on your next purchase" bucks. I already used them too-on todays papers to get my inserts for future couponing endeavors!

I will mention working full-time has left my house in shambles, me with no friends, and I don't even know why we have cable. But, I'm working, my kids are fed and clothed, and I'm couponing-so life is still pretty good.

Oh- and no, everyone is not well-YET! TJ and I made a trip to urgent care Thursday night for his mono-like symptoms (tested negative though-on an antibiotic now), Tim is still ODing on Tylenol daily, and now Griffin is having diarrhea and not eating.

Life is good though;-)