I have not updated about the kids in a really long time. Our days are so busy and it's hard for me to sit still long enough when the kids are asleep or detained. In many ways, our weeks are pretty predictable-- we have school Monday, Wednesday and Friday; ballet on Tuesday; homeschooling on Tuesday and Thursday; a few random playdates here and there; Care Group on Friday nights. But, every single week seems to have it's own rhythm and story to tell which keeps things lively and life flowing by so fast.
It's quite hard for me to believe that Nora will have completed her first year of school in just two and half short months. Wow! She LOVES, loves, loves school. I cannot say enough about her teachers this year, and it seems like every week she blows us away by learning something new. She is reading up a storm which has been so fun to watch. I love seeing how her mind unfolds as she is learning math and science and phonics and everything else. Her teacher is extremely musical, so their days at school are filled with tons of music and dancing and sign language, which is right up Nora's alley. In fact, it makes me wish I was in Kindergarten again.
As much as we love the school where Nora is now, we have decided to change schools for her next year. After looking into many options and much prayer and consideration, we have decided to send Nora to a school here in Knoxville called Paideia. It is a Classical Christian school that goes all the way through high school. Where Nora is now doesn't go past the fifth grade currently, so it would only be a matter of time before we'd have to switch her over to another school, and we feel like sooner is better than later (for us, anyway). We are really excited about what next year holds for our girl. However, we are still trying to soak up every last second at Cedar Springs because it is a fabulous school. Also, for many reasons that are too long-winded for me to go into in this post, we will be having Nora repeat Kindergarten when she starts this new school. She is a very young Kindergartener this year (the youngest in her class), and the students at Paideia typically don't enter Kindergarten until they are six (which Nora won't be until AFTER school starts next year). There are several more reasons, but none of them has anything to do with the fact we think Nora is currently struggling academically. I feel like anytime I tell people about our plans for next year, they assume that she is struggling with school, and it is truly not the case. But, we think it's what's best for our family at this point and we are excited about it!
Liam Piper is getting ready to turn FOUR! He tells everyone that he meets that he is "three and three-quarters." It is the cutest thing to hear him say. He has been enjoying school this year, and we have seen much progress with him as he has benefited from being in a more structured environment on school days. His teachers are wonderful, and he loves them. We have days where he gets sad at drop-off or he'll just be sad throughout the day, but he is my sweet, sensitive boy that still (occasionally) loves to be held and snuggled. I know the day is coming when that won't be the case, so I don't mind the extra attention he may need from time to time. He's growling like a weed too, and seems so much older after his most recent growth spurt. I think he's going to be taller than Jonathan (more like my dad).
Next year, Liam will go back to Cedar Springs and will be in Pre-K! Isn't that crazy!? I am really excited about the Pre-K program at school, and I think it will be good preparation for whatever the next year holds for him. I am hoping we can also get him into a sport or two next year, maybe soccer or gymnastics or something. He's very athletic and has the skill, but I think he can be shy in a group setting, so we'll have to see how he'll do in that arena.
Stella Marie, mostly known in our house as Stella B, is our sweet angel girl. She brings so much joy to our house and is almost always in the most joyful mood. She's finally walking and running everywhere---she beat Nora as our current late-walker record holder at about 20 months. Once she decided she was ready to walk, it took NO time for her to get on the go. Now, she runs around like crazy and jumps right in with the other two in anything she can.
On the days that Nora and Liam are in school, Stella and I have the day to spend together. It has been such a sweet season of getting to have that one-on-one time with her. We run errands, clean house, do laundry, watch Elmo, eat lunch, and anything else we can find to fill our time. I have really been able to enjoy her and watch her grow into such a sweet little girl. Her vocabulary is finally starting to explode. For the longest time, she didn't say many words but mostly grunted and signed what she wanted to say. It's amazing how much I can understand! But, just these past few weeks have shown her trying to articulate words more and more each day. She is still a really good eater, but she has reached that point in toddler-hood where her appetite has decreased which reveals a pickiness in her that typically isn't there. She eats most everything we offer her, which is a blessing! Life at this age with Liam was really hard because he was particularly picky. Hopefully we can avoid most of that stage with Stella B.
Life with Jonathan and I has been really good. Jonathan is working really hard these days, and is trying to grow the practice and grow in his knowledge and ability to lead his team better. He's been going through a dental management process since last summer which has made some really great changes in how the practice is run, but it's still a hard task to be a full-time dentist and a full-time businessman. He amazes me at his resilience and hard work. Somehow he finds time to read all of these books on leadership in addition to caring for me and our family.
The past few weeks we have been particularly busy on the weeknights because we are taking a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class at a local church that is offering the course. It is AWESOME! I only wish we had taken this class when we were first married. We have felt the Lord leading us to analyze our spending and saving habits, and this class has been so enlightening and encouraging--CONVICTING--but it's been really good. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to grow in this area. We are also taking a class at our church called the Bridge Course which is a lot like Alpha (an evangelical dinner/class where it covers basic beliefs and principles of the Christian faith). We have some friends coming with us, and it's been really neat the past few weeks to have them come with us and just to be reminded of some many things that are foundational to what I believe. It's really busy while both of these courses are going on, but I really believe that the Lord has given us faith for both of them. It means a lot of juggling our family here and there and even staying up past bedtime on school nights, but God has been faithful and has led us here. I'm really excited to see what the rest of these classes hold for us and for all that the Lord is going to teach us.
Whew! Are you worn out yet!? Anyway, that's the run-down of life with the Bradshaws lately. Hopefully I can keep up better. Plus, I have tons of pictures to share of the ever-changing trio of children! Till then.