Monday, August 18, 2014

Just Don't Speak It ...

I'm currently sitting here with my hands cupped over my mouth, daring not to say aloud what I'm about to type in this post. 

Khloe is already sleeping through the night y'all. 

There. I typed it. And now I'm praying to the Good Lord that I haven't spoke too soon. 

Really though y'all. It's like nothing I've ever experienced before with bringing a little one home. The past five nights she has had six to eight hour stretches and I just don't know how to explain how weird that is. I prepared myself for the exhaustion, the on again/off again sleep, the feeling like a zombie, the crabiness, the waking up with a breast pad stuck to your face (yes, that has happened to me on more than one occasion). 

And nothing. None of that.

She nurses around ten or so and sleeps until around six or seven. 
Bliss y'all, it is pure bliss

Now, join me in praying that I haven't opened my mouth too big too soon ... 

Friday, August 15, 2014

The One I Worried About ...

Kollin prayed her into this world ...

Kolt asked every single day when she would be here ...

Kruz constantly talked about all the things he would teach her ... 

Kohen? My KoKo just didn't get it. The whole baby concept. Sure, he pointed to my belly and said "baby" about a thousand times a day. Me and every other person we saw had babies in their belly. Seriously, he had no clue what was coming. 

And in all the times we have added to our family, I have never felt so guilty as I did this time around. Kohen has remained such a needy little guy. He is no hurry to be independent, no hurry to pick playing over snuggles with me, no hurry to be a Big Kid, no hurry to dress himself, no hurry to be like his Big Brothers. Lets just be real here, the kid is a Mommas's Boy, attached to my hip. There ain't no way around it.

The baby of the family always endures the most changes when a new baby comes. More than likely they'll get kicked out of their crib, their paci gets yanked from their possession and potty training will hit them like a ton of bricks. In the past, I have always been so adamant about having these jobs accomplished before a new little one arrives. Moving Kohen out of the crib and into a twin bed about killed me. In fact, after the crib had been disassembled to be refinished, I put him into a Pack-N-Play for like a month because I just couldn't stand the thought of him in such a gigantic bed. In a bed that appeared would swallow my Momma's Boy right up. As far as the paci and potty training goes, he's sucking on one right now and is wearing a diaper too. 

Baby steps. 

So last Wednesday the boys came bursting through the doors to meet their Little Sister. I was facing my worries, how was Kohen going to react to seeing his Mommy holding a baby? Kohen came in and asked for his Daddy. His Daddy. I was shocked and a little broken hearted. He hardly even acknowledged me, much less the baby. He didn't cry when it was time for him to leave us either, another thing that had plagued me for weeks - how was Kohen going to be about leaving his Mommy again? 

We came home Thursday afternoon, I came through the doors just wanting to hug him and snuggle him and he ran right passed me and reached up for Travis. The next few days were just like that, I think he was mad at me y'all. I have been preparing myself for him to scream at the sight of me holding Khloe and him trying to push her out of my arms. And I got the exact opposite, I got the cold shoulder. And it kind of made my heart ache a little. 

It wasn't until Monday, when Travis left to work, that he finally came around to me. He crawled in the bed with me that morning and we cuddled. We shared a bowl of cereal for breakfast. He reached up for me to hold him and I snatched him up so fast. 

It wasn't until Monday that he acknowledged his Baby Sister. He climbed onto the couch and started patting his lap, asking for "Baby" over and over. He held her, smiled at her, jerked her paci out, shoved it back in her mouth, "sssshhhhh"ed her when she started to cry, let her tiny fingers wrap around his and tried to pop her in the head with her bow. 

She started to fuss and Kohen rubbed her belly and then he started to sing to her. To hear his sweet little voice calm her made my cup run over. He loves her, I thought. He's not going to try to hurt her, he actually likes her. After a good ten minutes, I had to pry her away from him and it's been that way ever since Monday. Kohen asks to hold her every morning, every afternoon and every night. And if I can, I let him take her in his arms and sing to her. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

She's Here ...

She's here. 

And y'all, to say I am in love is such an understatement. 

I have a daughter. 

It's quite possible I say that to myself about 1,000 times a day. And everytime I say it, I smile. And I am reminded just how blessed I am. Every time I glance at that pink bottle on the counter or see the pink laundry, my heart skips a beat. 

I have a daughter. And she loves me already. And she is my Best Girl. And now - now I know what my Momma meant when she talked about that Mother/Daughter relationship and just how special it really is. 

Khloe Ruth decided to make her entrance last Tuesday, August 5th, at 11:41pm. 

I labored practically all day.

 And we were thrilled she made it here before midnight - our fifth kiddo came on the fifth of the month. Corny? Maybe. But we were excited about it. I won't go into the gooey details of her birth, but just know it took all day for me to dilate to 7cm (by all day I mean we checked into the Triage at 8:00am and it was 10:00pm when I reached 7cm, in which the midwife broke my water) and just an hour and 41 minutes to finish up the laboring and push her out. According to the husband, I pushed maybe three times. As soon as she came out, I couldn't help but shout, "Is she really a girl?" 

It is always a little chaotic at first. She's all purple-y and covered in yuck. As she laid on my chest for those first precious moments, I just stared at her and smiled. Can you tell I've been smiling a whole lot lately? Travis came over to me and together we were captured in that moment, in the realization that Kollin's many prayers for a Baby Sister and the desires, the yearnings in my heart had been heard and answered. 

The husband fell hard. 

She was weighed and measured (7 pounds 3 ounces, 19 inches), she was wrapped up and passed around between Travis, my Mom and our good friend Amber who asked to be in the room for her birth. My Mom left shortly after, Travis walked Amber out to her car and all that was left in the room was me and her. 

My daughter. 

I held her close, skin to skin. My heart was so captured in that moment that I don't even have the words to take you there, to last Tuesday night in that Labor and Delivery room. My mind raced through the years to come - the ponytails, the manicures and pedicures, the slumber parties, the princess movies we will watch together, the girly giggles, the pink. 

It was in that moment I decided her name was going to be Khloe.

Welcome to the world,
Khloe Ruth Nichols.

Friday, July 25, 2014

TOS Review - Apologia Educational Ministries (Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms)

Flourish Book Review
What is Apologia Educational Ministries?

Apologia Educational Ministries has been a total favorite around here in our homeschool, for both myself and the kiddos. We have had the opportunity to use so many of their wonderful products and have never been disappointed. If you are unfamiliar with Apologia, here is a quick overview of their company. Apologia is a curriculum company based solely for homeschooling families. This company offers several different subjects from Science to History to Language Arts to Biblical Worldview. They also offer products for parents as well. You can check out their website,, for all of their great products!

As mentioned above, Apologia offers different products for parents alongside the curriculum they provide for students. Apologia has recently added a new book just for homeschooling Moms titled, Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms

Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms is a book written by Mary Jo Tate, a seasoned homeschooling Mom. Since 1997, Mary Jo has homeschooled her four sons, along with being successful in many other areas. She has written several books, teaches high school literature for a homeschool co-op, blogs at Flourish at Home: Joyful Balance For Busy Moms and hosts a radio show, "Flourish At Home" on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. 

Flourish Book Review

Obviously, balance is a must in Mary Jo's life. In this book, she shares her personal story, her struggles and a great plan to overcome a busy schedule, thriving along the way in life as homeschooling Mom. Throughout the book, she acknowledges the lives of stay-at-home Moms, single Moms, working Moms. Mary Jo Tate leaves no one out as she gives practical advice for how to balance life. 

Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms is only $15.00.

What I Received and How I Used It:

For this review, I received a soft cover copy of Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate. When the book came in the mail, I looked at the cover and knew I would love it. It's so pretty, calming and inviting. It is one of those books you want to curl up in the bed with or on the couch with, light a candle and just indulge yourself. And well, that is pretty much what I did. 

Most of my reading is done when the children are napping or after they have headed off to bed. 

To say this book could not have come at a more prefect time is no understatement. This school year, I am adding Kruz (4) to the mix 3 days a week, in which I am certain Kohen (2) is going to want to be right alongside of his Big Brother and Bestest Bud. So not only are we adding a full preschool curriculum this year, but our family is also adding a new Baby Sister any day now. All in all, next year's homeschool is going to look completely different than last year's. I needed this book. I needed to be filled with ideas, encouragement and ways to thrive as a homeschooling Momma with a busy life. 

Over the past few weeks, I have read just about this entire book and am looking forward to finishing it up soon.

Flourish Book Review

What I Thought About It All?

I have had the pleasure to take part of this wonderful ministry, Apologia Educational Ministries, by using their products several times over the past couple years in our homeschool. Some of the products were ordered by choice and others were given to us by way of review. When I say I have never been disappointed, that is no understatement. Myself and my children have always loved what has come our way from Apologia Educational Ministries. And of course, Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms, has been no different. 

I would say this book is for all of us homeschooling Moms who are at all different seasons. Whether you are starting out fresh or have been homeschooling for years, this book acknowledges all different stages of this journey. 

There have been several different spots in the book that have really resonated in my mind, others in my heart. One of my favorite chapters so far has been Chapter 6: What Do I Do Next? In this chapter, Mary Jo provides Seven Essential Planning Tools that allow us to focus on goals and where we are at with them. Another chapter encourages us Moms  to rest. And sometimes, I need to be reminded that is okay for me to rest. Another chapter encourages us Moms to create a time log and assess where our time is really going each and every day. 

I really could go on and on, but I think I have said enough that all the homeschooling Moms reading this are going to grab this book and consider it a gold mine.

Important Information:

Price: $15.00

Along with the purchase of this book, you will also receive downloadable links to loads of extras like To-Do Lists, Schedules and Planners. 

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Friday, July 11, 2014

To Kruz: While You Were Three ...

Oh . My . Lord, Child of Mine, there is no one like you. And that's pretty much the only way to describe you, along with a few extra words - independent, feisty, caring, sassy, strong-willed and so thoughtful. Being three was such a big year for you. I feel like you went from half-Baby-half-Big-Kid to all-the-way-Big-Kid. 
A lot happened since last July ... 

Over the past year, you and Kohen have pretty much become the best of friends. And I have loved watching you two become so close. You and Kohen started sharing a room and you both absolutely love it. I hear you in the middle of the night, soothing Kohen back to sleep. You stick up for him. You fix him a cup every.single.morning. You always have tabs on where his paci is. You play with him, teach him and just randomly kiss on him throughout the day. I can just see you guys in 20 years from now, being those brothers, the ones who hang out all the time - not because you're family, but because you are best friends

You are still obsessed with mowers and would still rather be outside with your Daddy than any other place in the world. 

You are a hard worker. I mean, hard. 

You started learning your letters this year and can recognize just about all of them. You have learned how to spell and write your name. You drew your first self portrait. 

You made me have school work for you every day, so you could be like your brothers. 

Your favorite color is orange.

You are funny when it comes to getting dressed. You always have to "match", even when you are just in play clothes. You have specific shirts that are only for church, you say. Your favorite shoes are your Toms and you wear them proudly just about every day. You must have on sunglasses and you love to wear hats. 

For Halloween you decided to tag alongside Kollin and Kolt (shocker) and dressed as a ninja. We did our Trick or Treating in YahYah's neighborhood and as we walked down the street to the next house, you called your Daddy over to someone's yard and said, "Daddy! Come here. You have got to feel this grass."

For Christmas, Santa brought you a Leapster along with some other goodies. We thought you would love it and to be honest, you really didn't. You're just not a gamer. You are so much more of an outside kid and have played with your soccer net that YahYah got you much, much, much more. That and the flippin' BB gun your PawPaw bought you. When he asked about buying you that, I told him it had to stay at his house. It has and you love to shoot with him when you go over and spend the day. 

While you were three, you had your first real snow. You hated having to be bundled so much, but you loved sledding down the hills in our neighborhood. 

You have become such an early bird. You are just about always my first one to wake up. Your morning ritual is to come get in my bed and watch videos of yourself on my phone or take a hundred self portraits of yourself. 

While you were three, you started Rainbows at church. You have earned several badges and have learned five very important rules from Mrs. Katherine:
1. Follow directions quickly.
2. Raise your hand for permission to speak. 
3. Keep your hands and your feet to yourself.
4. Make smart choices. 
5. Keep your dear teacher happy.
You can recite these and it's just about the cutest thing I've ever heard. 

You love to pick me flowers from the yard.

You have become quite the champ at going to the dentist. Your first couple cleanings were awful and Mommy had to hold you in her lap, now you just climb up in the chair like a rockstar! 

While you were three, you found out you were going to be a BIG brother to a baby sister.  You are always asking questions about her, when she will be here and are always telling me what you are going to teach her about. You call her Baby Khloe and you are always rubbing (and kissing) on my belly. 

You love the beach and the pool and you just about got the swimming thing down. 

You still take naps, most days. And believe me, I rejoice like crazy on these days. 

While you were three, you went to your first VBS. I was worried you'd cry each day when I left. On the first day, I was shocked. You walked right in, started coloring and talking to your teacher like you'd known her for years. You got a little teary on day four and five, but you felt so accomplished at the end of the week. You earned a new tag for your necklace every day and you love wearing it all the time. I was so proud of you for going all week!

You are obsessed with making tooting noises on your arm. 

You love PAW Patrol and Mickey Mouse. 

Well, kiddo. I think I'm about out of things to type from your three year old self. Now you are four, FOUR! I am blessed and grateful to be your Mommy, to laugh with you, teach you and watch you make accomplishments each day. You make me laugh till I cry and you drive me absolutely crazy all in the same day. You are so strong willed and even though we butt heads most days, we always work it out. And I love those moments when we hug and kiss and giggle and cuddle. 

Kruz Amon Nichols, Mommy loves you!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

TOS Review - Moving Beyond the Page ...

Moving Beyond the Page Review

Moving Beyond the Page is a company that supplies homeschooling families with full homeschool curriculums based on age level in the subjects of Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. The sets of curriculum from Moving Beyond the Page are written by a great team of highly qualified writers, all who have homeschooled their own children. Having had this experience of their own, they understand the daily struggles of homeschooling and this truly helps them to provide  the best of the best to other parents and children. 

Their curriculums are offered in print or as an online download. 

Their website offers great guidelines to follow while purchasing curriculum for your children. Within each age level, there are links to watch an overview, read more on what is offered and a link to review samples. 

What We Received and How We Used It:

For this review we received the complete curriculum for two individual units: Communities Change Over Time ($41.97) and Charlotte's Web ($20.92). 

For Communities Change Over Time, we were given the physical version. Within our set we had the curriculum workbook, a hardback book titled A Street Through Time (A 12,000 Year Walk Through History) and a soft cover book titled Weslandia. The curriculum workbook includes nine lessons. At the beginning of each lesson, there is an overview for the parent (which I loved) that includes the overall concept of the lesson, vocabulary and skills to be learned and the materials needed for the lesson. There is also an overview of each activity. 

For Charlotte's Web, we were given the online version. For this type of set, we were given the soft cover version of Charlotte's Web and the downloads for the lessons, activities, worksheets, etc. 

The sets we received were from the age level 7-9. 

Kollin (7) was the only one to use this curriculum. Kolt (6) listened in on the stories, but chose not to work in on the activities with us and I was okay with that. Kollin didn't look at it as work and I thought that was cool. Little did he know just how much he was learning. We started with Charlotte's Web first, Kollin's choice. Kollin really enjoyed the Charlotte's Web set. Before receiving this review, I knew Kollin loved this movie. I was thrilled when we were chosen for Charlotte's Web. I chose to read the book aloud, since this was a little above his reading level. I loved seeing him connect the book with the activities. We were able to complete several of the lessons throughout the review period. 

According to Kollin, the Communities Change Over Time was "a little more work than Charlotte's Web, but still interesting." Kollin was very fascinated by the book we received  A Street Through Time and I caught him several times looking through the book while we were not even working on the completion of the activities. This is a great book to add to our library. We didn't complete quite as many lessons in this one, Kollin seemed to go much slower throughout what we did. I think it's because his attention was grasped so much about the learning material and he just wanted to really go deep. I was totally okay with that. We plan to pick back up with this unit in our school year coming up and complete the time capsule at the end. 

What I Thought About It All:

I have been very impressed with Moving Beyond the Page! Everything about this company, from the website to the books received to the online downloads, have been wonderful and of great quality. 

Using the curriculum has been a breeze. I love when all of the information is laid out for me and I am able to prepare the lessons for my children painlessly. The curriculum workbook was wonderful in preparing their lessons. 

Kollin learned so much from the Social Studies unit we worked on and really loved the Charlotte's Web unit. As always, if my kiddos are learning and enjoying the process, I am a happy Momma. 

Important Information:

Price for Communities Change Over Time (Physical): $41.97
Price for Communities Change Over Time (Online): $37.91
Price for Charlotte's Web (Physical): $24.98
Price for Charlotte's Web (Online): $20.92

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To Kolt: While You Were Five ...

Oh My Koltee. Are you seriously SIX already? Seriously? I mean that is enough. No more getting older, just stay little forever and please don't lose anymore of that babiness off your face. You're looking way too grown here lately. I'm kidding, I mean of course I am. What choice do I have? I got to let you grow. I am so thankful to be your Mommy, to watch you grow. You are such a fun kid and so full of life. You have not a care in the world (unless one of your brothers touches your cars or DS). It is a privilege to watch you grow and take on this world. Five was a big age for you, lets look back ... 

You started Royal Rangers this year at church. You love all of the arts and crafts and most of all, getting to be with Kollin. Throughout the year, you have completed several badges including Community Service by going to feed the homeless.

While you were five, you played your second Fall season of football. You played on Alabama again, still represented #8 and learned so much about the game. You played defensive tackle (I hope that's really a position, otherwise I'm in for it) and took down some pret-ty big boys this year. 

For Halloween you and your brothers decided to be Ninjas and it was loads of fun. You wanted to be the Blue Ninjago, so we ordered a karate uniform and dyed it blue. We Trick or Treated in YahYah's neighborhood and you got loads of candy! You never missed a "please" or "thank you". 

During December you had your second major trip to the Emergency Room. You and Kollin had a little mishap at bedtime that resulted in loads of blood, rushing you to the hospital and two staples in the back of your noggin. You took it like a champ though and by the next morning, you would have never even known someone had taken a staple gun to your head the night before. You wore this thick toboggan for a week straight - played in it, watched tv in it and slept in it. That was hilarious. It was all fine and dandy until the staples had to be removed, and that, well - that was awful. The nurse pretty much had to pry them out of your head and you screamed and cried and Mommy made it better with waffles at Waffle House. 

You took your first trip to The Fox Theater with Mommy, Kollin and YahYah to see a condensed version of the Nutcracker. You loved the rats with swords and hated the rest. Go figure. 

For Christmas, Santa brought you a Nintendo DS and my oh my how you love that thing. I would say your favorite game is Mario Brothers! You tend not to take it too seriously, but Mommy has to limit your time on that thing for sure. 

You went to your first circus in February and l.o.v.e.d it. Your favorite part were the motorcycles in the cages and getting your light up sword at the end of the night (the one Mommy and Daddy swore we were not going to spend $17 on, good thing your YahYah was there to chip in). 

While you were five, you found out you were going to be a Big Brother to a Baby Sister. You've never been the one to be interested much when it comes to babies and adding new ones to our family and this one wasn't much different. You are excited (a little) to meet her though and are always asking for prayer for her and me in Sunday School. 

You were in Aunt TeeTee's wedding! You were asked to be the Ring Bearer and you rocked it kiddo. You looked so handsome in your suit and suspenders. I was so proud of how well you walked down the aisle with the Flower Girl, how you stood and watched the ceremony and of course, your dance moves at the end of the night were impressive. I think your favorite part was the photo booth, the fridge is still covered in your tons of photo strips. And every time I look at them, I laugh. 

While you were five, you started KARATE! You chose this as your choice of sport and are doing great at it. You knew so much going in from Kollin and are improving your skills with every class. You have just graduated to your White/Gold belt and were thrilled!  

You officially completed your first year of "real school" and have graduated into First Grade. And although you were technically a Kindergartner, you rocked First Grade math. It is definitely your favorite subject. You impress me Kiddo and remind me so much of Daddy when you blurt our random things like, "Hey Mommy? Did you know 112 plus 34 is 146?" Along with math, you really worked on your writing skills this year and learning how to spell. 

And I must say you are pretty darn good at it too. You love all of the 'I Can Read' books from the Dr. Seuss Collection.

You are still obsessed with Hot Wheels. You particularly love the ones that are actual cars, like the Mustangs. You still love to line them up, oldest to newest, by colors, by model, by speed. I find you in your room so often just playing with your cars. Your imagination runs wild ... 

You have started collecting Lego sets and Lego figurines too. And I swear, if I step on one Lego a day, I step on a hundred. You and Kollin could sit for hours creating, building, tearing apart and starting again. 

You have started eating so much more fruit, finally! You are eating apples, bananas, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and kiwi - all of which you wouldn't touch a year ago. Makes this Momma a Happy Camper. 

It's been a great time since last July and I can't wait to see what being six will bring you! Keep shining, keep keeping God first in the mornings by reading your Bible and praying, keep sharing, keep smiling and for heaven's sake never, ever lose that giggle of yours. 

I love you Koltee!

Love, Mommy