Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten

This guy:


It's his very first day of big kid school.

Somehow I thought the backpacks and lunch-packing and parent-teacher-conferences from preschool would make this day easier. Like all those things would ease me into the big step he's taking today.
But then the clich├ęs start to take over and you're wondering how it's possible that the baby you rocked to sleep yesterday (it was yesterday, right?!) is the big kid standing at the bus stop today.
You notice how little he is carrying that giant backpack and you wonder if he's going to remember where he's supposed to go to be picked up after school because he's only five for goodness sake!
But then the pangs of nervousness you've seen run across his face start to morph into a bright, excited smile, and before you know it, you're walking out the door of his classroom and he doesn't even glance at you as you leave because he's a big kid now.
He's gonna rock this Kindergarten thing!



Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Gavinisms...and a little Bennettism, too.

On the way home from his latest taekwondo belt test:
Me: "I'm so proud of you, buddy!"
Gavin: "{Sigh} It feels good to be a green belt."

On his smarts:
Me: "Gavin, that was clever. Where'd you learn to do that?
Gavin: "In my brain."

Mild threatening of his little brother:
Gavin: "Bennett, I can read your mind all the time."

Complimenting Mommy:
Gavin: "You're creative, Mommy."
Me: "Thank you. What does being creative mean?"
Gavin: "It's being wonderful!"

Brothers being silly:
Gavin: "Bennett...are we brothers? Say yes."
Bennett: "Yes."
Gavin: "Are we best friends? Say yes."
Bennett: "YES!!"

Our argumentative little one:
Ryan to Bennett: "Thank you, Bennett. You're so polite."
Bennett: "No...I not."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gavinisms

On MLK Day:
Gavin: "Momma, Martin Luther Kingdom said we should love each other."

Early morning happiness:
Gavin: "Mommy, can you dress up today so I can tell you you look pretty?"

Opening the refrigerator to put away his drink:
Gavin, while butt-shaking: "I'm gonna do a little jig to put away my milk."

After a spring snow:
Gavin: "Mommy, does God knows it's spring?"
Me: "I'm sure he does, buddy. Why do you ask?"
Gavin: "I'm gonna tell him it's not 'posed to snow when it's spring. Do you think he'll be mad at me?"

Typical 5-year-old humor:
From a CD: "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...life is but a dream."
Gavin: "[giggle] They said butt."

After throwing a fit when he didn't get his way:
Me: "Gavin, I can't hear you when you whine. Make your voice sound like mine."
Gavin: "I can't make my voice sound like yours. I'm a man."

After Bennett made a giant mess while eating a cookie:
Me: "Bennett, that's quite a mess you made there."
Bennett: "Ya."
Gavin: "He's being creative."

Friday, April 25, 2014

April Snow

It snowed in April on the same day my Grandma Green left this earth and moved permanently to heaven. There was something about it that just seemed fitting to me that day. The joy and life of new flowers springing from the earth while the sky spat sadness from its gray clouds. The juxtaposition of joy and sadness. It's how I felt...how I still feel about losing her.

Grandma had lived in Texas for all of my adult life, but we'd kept in touch through letters, photos and visits at first, then Facebook and e-mail later. I visited her with my Dad in November 2012 and got to spend a whole weekend reminiscing about my childhood adventures at her house. I'll forever be thankful I got to spend that time with her, in the place she called home for so many years.

When I heard she was moving back to Missouri, and would be just down the street from my house, I was elated! I knew it would be hard for her to leave her friends and her home, but I was so excited to get the chance to spend more time with her, and let my boys get to know her like I knew her as a child. I talked with her about dinners at our house, coming by to visit, and picking her up for church on Sunday mornings.

Unfortunately, when she moved here a month before she died, she got sick pretty quickly, and ended up spending about a week in the hospital. Once she was settled in her new place and seemed to be doing well, I took the boys for a visit. I have no photos, which makes me sad, but the pictures in my head of her playing cars with Gavin, tickling Bennett, and giving big hugs and kisses to both of them will never leave me. It made her so happy to see us that day, and it makes me happy every time I think of it.

I will miss her sweet, sweet spirit in this world, but as Gavin reminded me when I told him of her passing, "Now she gets to live in paradise."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Question, Six Voices: Lent Week Four

This week's Lenten question from Rethink Church:
Where are you encountering Jesus in the unlikeliest of places? #spirituality

The past couple of months, Gavin has been struggling with some anxiety, especially with new people and/or new places. We're pretty sure it has everything to do with starting kindergarten in the fall. We've been talking it up a lot at home, his teachers and friends have been talking about it a lot at daycare, and I think my poor guy is just getting more anxious the more we talk about it.

It manifested at his Taekwondo classes a few months ago when a new boy talked to him. He didn't know him, he didn't want to talk to him, and he lost it, running over to me with fear in his eyes, unable to articulate why he was so upset. Since then, it's been a slow road helping him get up the courage every Monday and Wednesday to participate, especially if that means someone new might talk to him, someone new might teach him, or something new might happen during class.

He's doing great, and I'm so thankful we've got this experience to lean on when kindergarten comes in the fall and these same fears creep up for him again. But I'm even more thankful for the community of people who've helped him (and us) through the struggle of the last few months.

A counselor friend created a plan to help us work through his fears, even more friends prayed for him every Monday and Wednesday night, other parents encouraged him during class and cheered him on when he did a good job, friends and co-workers asked how he was doing, a class helper gave him a medal "just for being brave." The list could go on for a good long while.

They're people who love him, people who care about him—even people who barely know him—but all of those people have been Jesus in the flesh for him. The unexpected part in all of that is not that these friends and strangers reached out to a kid who was struggling, but that they went out of the way to help him in his struggle. They looked outside of themselves.

Because of their kindness, because of their love...he's been able to get past some of his fears, and as small as those things may sound, their actions have made a monumental difference in our lives.
Gavin and his buddy Jacob, who encourages him at every class. 
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This post is one of six points-of-view on the same topic. Check out what my friends think of this week's question on their blogs: ShawnHeatherStephBrian and Julia.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One Question, Six Voices: Lent Week Three

This week's Lenten question from Rethink Church:
God is calling you. But to where? And to what? #vocation

I doubt it's a surprise to anyone that I feel called to orphan care. It's something I've grown passionate about over the last several years, particularly since I became a parent. Each time they placed one of my boys in my arms, and that overwhelming love washed over me, I knew I'd do everything I could to protect them, love them, fight for them.

Every child should know that kind of love. Every. Single. One.

But that's a lofty, idealistic goal, right? We live in a fallen world. Some kids are born to craptastic parents, some societies tell orphaned children they're worthless, some governments make a profit on of the plight of the orphan.

But...

When those things feel overwhelming and untouchable, and the rage-y, injustice-fighting coals in my gut start to burn, I have to remind myself I believe in a God who is bigger than those things. I have to remind myself that I'm called to make a difference for orphans because God can make a difference for them. I can make a difference, even if it's only for a handful of kids, because God is using me to build something beautiful out of the ashes.


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This post is one of six points-of-view on the same topic. Check out what my friends think of this week's question on their blogs: ShawnHeatherStephBrian and Julia.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Twice the Awesome

My baby turns two today, and I'm left sitting right in the middle of the cliche: It's gone by so fast. As the tiny dimples on his knuckles and elbows start to fade, and his baby giggles turn into belly laughs, I'm mourning his babyhood, but rejoicing in his latest accomplishments. It's such a strange, in-between stage of motherhood for me—this sadness at the loss of all things baby, mixed with joy for the little person he's becoming.
And what a little person he is. He's fierce, that one. With his love, with his anger, with his orneriness. He's all in, no matter what it is, and he lets you know—loudly—if he doesn't agree.

He continues to be a Daddy's boy, and loves his Daddy more than anyone else in his world. Favorite food? Whatever Daddy's eating. Favorite place to sit? Wherever Daddy's sitting. The list could go on. he's so enthralled sometimes that I can't even put on his shoes/hand him his plate/insert normal daily function here without being met with: "No! Daddy do it!" Sigh.
He chatters more and more all the time, and we constantly find ourselves hearing new words or phrases, or new pronunciations that are understandable even more-so than the day before. At times, Gavin still has to translate for us, but those moments are becoming fewer and further between.

Bennett continues to impress with his physical abilities. He's galloping, and trying to skip, though his little legs still aren't quite long enough to pedal anything just yet. He climbs and throws and jumps and pushes the limit of his bodily capabilities constantly. If he sees bubba do it, he's gonna try it, too.

He's still into Elmo, but has lost the adorable "Melmo" pronunciation and now calls him by his actual name. He's also into superheroes because his brother is, and his favorite, by far, is "Pie-der-man."

Yesterday, he had tubes put in his ears and I think we cried more than he did. He was a champ, and proved the nurses wrong when he woke up dazed, but calm, instead of screaming (we'd been warned that all kids wake up crying after surgery). He charmed the nurses so much that they wanted to keep him, and one said, "He's an angel from heaven."

Indeed. He absolutely is. And we're so very glad he's ours. Happy birthday, little man!

Friday, March 21, 2014

One Question, Six Voices: Lent Week Two

This week's Lenten question from Rethink Church:
What are those temptations that rule you and make you turn away from those in need—in poverty, disease and hunger?

This card hangs in my office at work:
It's an excerpt of a story about a man who sees a little boy throwing starfish back into the sea so they won't die. The man can't believe the boy is taking on such an overwhelming task and tells him he'll never make a difference. The boy throws another starfish back in the ocean and responds with: ''I made a difference to that one."

I keep it visible in my everyday surroundings because on days I feel like the man in the story, and the enormity of problems like poverty, disease, hunger, orphanhood, etc., etc., etc. weigh heavy on my heart, it reminds me not to be tempted to give up, not to be tempted by the fear of failing to make a difference. Because that's how it is sometimes, right? To hear there are 153 million orphans in the world, or that 870 million people worldwide don't have enough food to eat—that's daunting! On many days, it's paralyzing. Statistics like that make the problems of the world seem too big to affect, and much easier to sit in my comfortable suburban home, with enough food in my belly, enough water to drink, and more than I could ever need. It's easier to turn off the news and ignore what's really happening in the world.

But that's not how we're called to live. I have enough...more than enough so that I can share what I have with others. I have been blessed so that I may bless others. And on days when the problems in front of me feel too big, it helps to remember that I can't do everything, but I can do something. I can love an orphan (or 40 orphans!) in Russia. I can give my time or my money to organizations making a difference every day, like Water.org, Children's HopeChest or Global Orphan Project. I can be a voice for change by raising awareness for sex trafficking. I can make a difference, and so can you. We mustn't be tempted not to.

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This post is one of six points-of-view on the same topic. Check out what my friends think of this week's question on their blogs: ShawnHeatherStephBrian and Julia.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

One Question, Five Voices: Lent Week One

So you know that crazy Lenten blog-challenge-marathon my friends and I undertook last year?

It's back by popular demand! This time with fewer posts that are (hopefully) full of more thought. This year, ReThink Church has posed one question each week of the Lenten season:
This week's question:
What are the basic needs in your community? How might you participate in meeting those needs?

Ahhh, community. That word always make me feel all cozy because of the people who are in mine that come to mind. Because that's what community is, right? It's not just the place you live, it's the people you surround yourself with. It's at work. It's in your neighborhood. It's at church. It's your family. It's your circle of friends. That's what community is...being in relationship with one another. Loving one another.

Being part of a close community forces you to want to look outside yourself and see the needs in others around you. When they need something, the response becomes an automatic "how can I help?" or "how are you?" It's not obligation. It's automatic because of the way you feel about each other. It's automatic because of the relationship community fosters.

In a tight community, you understand each other's basic needs and can respond quickly. A friend's son is having surgery and needs a prayer. A co-worker needs help with an excel spreadsheet from hell. A child needs a little boost of confidence pep-talk. A friend needs a ride to the airport.

Those things may sound insignificant, but sometimes the little things are the biggest ones that make you feel connected, supported and loved. And meeting those needs makes all the difference.

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This post is one of five points-of-view on the same topic. Check out what my friends think of this week's question on their blogs: ShawnHeatherSteph and Brian.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Finally Five

Gavin turned a whole handful of fingers today, waving his hand at me this morning saying, "I'm five!" as he dashed past me like the years have, full of energy and determination—growing and changing faster than I can say, "Slow down!" Faster than I can catalog here.
Not long ago, he told me he thought he'd skip five and move right on to six, but today, it seems as if five fits him well. So well, in fact, that he said he felt taller today and asked that I measure him to see if he'd reached the five-foot mark. Five is a big deal.

Five feels like the intersection of little boy and big kid, where there are still snuggles before bed, but also a whole lot of "I can do it myself." Lots hand-holding and extra hugs, but also "no more kisses, Momma."

He's so many things at five. So much of the sweet, gentle, cautious boy we've always known, but slowly, new branches are shooting out of his personality to reveal other sides, too. Smart. Funny. Stubborn. Goofy. Brave.
At five, he's struggling with growing up, and anxious about new things and new people. He reaches out to us constantly for support, and we're trying to be there consistently while still pushing him forward into independence a little at a time.

At five, he writes confidently as long as you spell the words for him. I hear him sounding out words, and though he's not reading yet, I know it's not far off. My favorite take-homes from daycare these days are love notes with all the letters running together.

At five, he's a master builder in Lego terms, and quick when it comes to puzzles. He pieces things together with a part of his brain that definitely didn't come from me. He's analytical, and good at basic addition.

At five, he is full of magic and wonder and innocence with a heap independence on the side, and I am so very glad he's mine.

Friday, February 28, 2014

10 Years

Today, Ryan and I have been married for 10 years. TEN!

It feels like such a huge accomplishment, and yet, such a short time in the grand scheme of things. Ten years ago, we were babies stepping out on this journey we knew nothing about—totally, and completely in love, but also oblivious to all of the facets of marriage.
I think it's appropriate that the traditional gift for a 10th anniversary is tin or aluminum—its qualities synonymous with the flexibility and durability a successful marriage takes.
Today and every day, Ryan is still the love of my life, and I am so happy I chose him (and he chose me) to go on this crazy ride. These first ten years have been wonderful, they've been hard, they've been life-changing and life-shaping—they've been so many things that I couldn't possibly post all of them here.

And yet, I felt compelled to capture this day, to remember it and all the days that have come before.

10 years
2 Masters degrees
9 vacations
2 kids
6 job changes
2 addresses
Dozens of "firsts"
Countless sleepless nights
Not enough "days of nothing,"
but always enough love.

I want to lay ten years worth of moments out before us and look back with our rose-colored glasses off, knowing that the wise choices and the silly mistakes have all led us to where we are now—our perfectly imperfect life together. There is no where else I'd rather be.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Letter to My Boys

Gavin,
You, my tallish, lanky boy, are growing by the day it seems. The pants I bought you in early fall are now high-waters, and your feet are almost growing through the ends of your shoes. I'm afraid all the clothes I wanted to repurpose that were slightly too big last summer are now going to be too small by the time summer rolls around this year.

You're also getting smarter all the time and routinely come home telling me facts beyond your years. They're always posed as questions, like: "Momma, did you know Georges Seurat painted dots?" or "Did you know Orca whales have a nickname? Killer whales!" I'm loving that you're getting swept up in learning, and frankly, I'm learning some new things along with you. I'm guessing this is just the beginning of that. You're so, so good at math and puzzles and have already mastered some basic addition and how to put together the 5-12 age Lego kits by yourself.
Lately, you've been sporting a new, longer hairstyle and seem to really like it. It makes you look so grown-up, but it's already driving me nuts when it's in your eyes. Since you've got the straight-as-a-board hair that I had growing up, there are some gel tricks we're having to use to keep it out of your eyes as it grows. You love it though, and so do I, so I see it sticking around for a while.
You've been taking taekwondo classes for three-ish months now, and love it. You're actually getting pretty good at it and can even count to seven in Korean! You had a belt test a couple weeks ago and though you struggled with some anxieties about the multitude of people there to watch the test, you overcame your fear because you were determined to get that belt. You even got to break a board at the end of the test and have been showing it off ever since.
Speaking of anxieties, you've started fearing anything new lately, sometimes even in situations that you're familiar with. You've gotten clingier at daycare drop-off and have had this crippling fear come over you the last few times we've been to taekwondo, but you can't really articulate why, other than to say you're "scared," or "there are new kids." It's gotten bad enough that you can't even complete the class, but we're working hard to help you through it. Part of me wishes it was just that you didn't like taekwondo anymore, because watching you be so excited about going, and then be so overcome with fear that you can't participate—that's hard. Really hard. It breaks my heart, but we're trying hard to help you get through it and grow from it.

Lately, you've been more of a Momma's boy than ever, and I am loving every second. Since you were a baby, you've always preferred Daddy, and to be honest, it's broken my heart a tiny bit. But friends who told me that would change have been proven right because the tide seems to be shifting in my favor. The other night you actually said it, verbatim: "Momma, Bennett is a Daddy's boy and I'm a Momma's boy." So...there you have it. [Squeals with delight!]

Well, my big kid, that can't possibly sum up your last few months, but it's definitely the biggest happenings. I'm so very proud of you!

I love you more,
Momma



Bennett,
You are my continuously ornery, sweet, spunky little dude and you remind me daily how much you are like me. Every time I see your stubborn face, or hear you shout "No!" I have to remind myself that I was probably juuuust like you as a toddler.

You're continuing to impress with your physical abilities, which now include jumping all the way off the ground, climbing the outside of the stairs, and getting to places only your brother could reach a short month ago.
You're also talking more and more, and your vocabulary is starting to explode because you repeat everything you hear. "Yellow" is our current favorite because you ignore the "Ls" altogether and just saw, "Yeh-yo." You also point to objects and repeat the words over and over again until we say, yes, buddy, that is Daddy's robe (Dadee wobe), or a yellow bus (yeh-yo bushh), or whatever else it is you're pointing at. The way you say your name is also equally adorable because you say it so quickly that you somehow morph it into just one syllable. I'm trying to get it on video because I know it won't be long before that changes, too.

For Christmas, you got some new bath toys that are just foam letters and numbers that stick to the wall, and they've quickly become a favorite in the shower with Daddy. You've been playing with them so much that you even recognize certain letters as belonging to one of our names. "Bubba!" you'll say, and point to the letter "G" (you never call him Gavin, though you recognize it as his name), or "Momma!" when you point to the letter "M." It's impressive for a not-quite-two-year-old!
I feel compelled (again) to write about your obsessive love for bananas. It's gotten so bad we have to hide them from you now. If you could, you'd eat three or four in a single sitting and then not be able to poop for days. I really don't think you'd even care. Every time we do allow a banana, or something banana-flavored, like yogurt, you jump up and down and shriek "Nana!" excitedly like you're part monkey or something.
You're growing and changing so much lately that I can't wait to see what the next few months bring for you, little man.

I love you more,
Momma

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Gavinisms

After picking up a toy to play:
Bennett: "MINE!"
Gavin: "I'll give it back cuz I'm your best brother."

In the car:
Gavin: "Momma, can I have something to play with? I'm boring."

Another day in the car after daycare:
Me: "What did you do in Miss Stephanie's class today?"
Gavin: "Read my mind, Momma."

Finding an unexpected ladybug in the house:
Gavin: "Look, Momma! A July bug!"

Listening to Bennett mumbling in the car:
Gavin: "Was that a whole story or a half story? I'm confused."

Dealing with Bennett's habit of taking off his socks and shoes in the car:
Gavin, to me: "Momma...Bennett's licking his toes."
Gavin, to Bennett: "I'm never gonna do what you do."

And a first Bennettism:
Gavin: "Oh, brother!"
Bennett: "Oh, bubba!"
[giggles from all involved]


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Starting the New Year Right: Simplify

I loathe new year's resolutions. They always make me feel like a failure. You start out the year with this lofty goal in mind and then two months, two weeks...sometimes two days later, you've failed. Already. It's too much pressure.

I do like the thought of adopting something new though, or trying to continue the good stuff I've already been doing. Having a goal is like shaking off last year's negativity and donning the new year with confidence and purpose.

Last year, for many reasons, I felt stretched too thin. I was in this constant tug-of-war with things I wanted to do vs. things I needed to do. I was overcommitted and under-acheiving, which in turn, made me feel like a failure. I guess it's not just resolutions that can make you feel that way.

So my not-so-lofty, actually achievable, non-resolution goal for 2014 is to simplify. I'm not sure exactly what that looks like, and it may morph over time, but I know it's going to be full of shedding what's weighed me down and making room for more of the good stuff. And that sounds like a great start to a new year.