Saturday, August 30, 2014

First Fall Practices.

Last weekend was the first practices for the boys fall sports this year. After weighing all his options, Brayden opted for flag football. Connor really only had one option of soccer, which he heartily decided to play. The downside to all practices was that summer decided to show up last week, which meant that we got to practice in the blazing hot heat. This added a slight unpleasantness to the festivities. I'll be glad when October hits and I can wear a hoodie sweatshirt instead of just wearing a sweat soaked t-shirt. ;)

Connors practice was first, on Friday night. It really wasn't all that much a practice as a kick-start event for the season, but we told Connor it was his practice. He was SO very proud of the fact that everyone was going for HIM. So much of his life to this point has been tagging along as we do things for Brayden, so Connor was sure to point out that we all needed to cheer for him and all needed to sit on the sidelines since it was his "game."
I barely got any pictures of him from the front angle. From the moment he saw the fields, he was running around kicking the ball and playing. I'm so happy for him to finally have his own experience with sports.
it also looks like we might have another soccer player on our hands too... if he ever finally decides to walk ;)
he makes the funniest faces!

Brayden's practice was (thankfully) VERY early in the morning. It took him a little bit to catch on to some of the drills, but by the end of the first practice, he was laughing and having a good time.

And of course, I can't leave out this little fun fact: My mom was here to visit during the boys first practices, which means they had a special cheer leader on the sidelines. They were both so excited to have her here, and we were all sad to say goodbye to her this week. I tried taking a picture of the boys with their Gigi, but this was about as good as I could do.

Hope your fall is kicking off to a good start too!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

First Day of MDO.

One of the biggest adjustments we've had to make with Kindergarten is trying to explain to Connor that he still has two more years left at home. I'm selfishly glad for this fact, but to Connor, it's been a devastating blow to his world. I think in his mind, he's as old as Brayden and therefore can do everything Brayden does. Until this point, the fact that they went to the same school was a good enough leveler (not sure if that's a word... but I'm going with it anyway) for Connor.

So when Connor realized Brayden was going to be going to school EVERY day of the week, I started getting the "when can I go to school?" and "when does my school start?" questions. Needless to say, the first day of MDO this week was like Christmas morning for our Connor boy.
He was also very excited to finally use his new big boy "packpack"
His first day was a success. He loved it, and sat right down to start working on writing his name (although, he did look a little confused on why he had to sit and do work instead of play with toys. Sometimes the reality of being in the big boy class doesn't end up being as fun as your dreams ;) ) I'm so excited to watch him grow this year. Pre-K3 was a big learning and growing year for Brayden, and I am sure it will be the same for Connor.

Tyler gets to go to MDO this year again too, and we decided to put him in twice a week. It's really the best for all involved, as I feel like Tyler does well when he's able to get out of the house and experience things outside of the confines of his home life (and not be confined to a car seat while mommy runs errands). His first day went so well (no tears! Yay for the -hopeful- end of separation anxiety!!!) and he had the best demeanor that afternoon. It helps he has the same teachers as last year. I'm praying that being around the other walking babies will give him his final oomph to walk.

Here's to a cleaner house, lunches with friends, volunteer time at school and grocery shopping during the day instead of at night! ;) I think it's safe to say we ALL love MDO!

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten.

Well, after last nights post I was sure that I'd be a hot mess this morning. I even debated whether or not to put on makeup today, because, let's be honest here. (a) I rarely wear makeup to begin with, and (b) mascara and the first day of Kindergarten don't really seem like a great duo. I threw caution to the wind and went for the makeup anyway, and am happy to report that the mascara didn't get all smudgy through the few tears that I did shed.
So, funny fact: I hit up Gap sales this summer and loaded up on the cutest back to school clothes. I made a special drawer with school clothes that Brayden could pick from, and told him that he could wear gym shorts on the days he had PE. And it just so happens that his first day of school was PE day, so he got his dream come true to wear gym shorts and a Darth Vader shirt for first day of school pics. Ha!
Brayden marched into school today like he owned the place. I was worried this wouldn't be the case, when he came to my bathroom this morning as I was brushing my teeth and said "I'm going to really miss you today. Can I take a picture of you when you take a picture of me?" Sweet boy.
He found his seat and excitedly waved around his Transformers pencil case. He got to work on his coloring assignment as he was told, and acted as if I was bothering him with all of the extra hugs, kisses and tears. Apparently when your mom cries at Kindergarten drop off it affects your cool factor. Or something like that.

Connor, never to be one who is left out, sat in line at the doorway of the classroom, ready to check himself in. I heard Brayden's teacher say "I don't have a Connor on my roster... are you sure you're in the right classroom?" I had to hurriedly go over and explain that he still has two years till Kindergarten (thank goodness! My heart would split in two if they were both going to school this year!). We all got a good laugh out of that one.

Brayden with his teacher. I have prayed all year that the Lord would bless us with a great teacher for Brayden, and I really feel like Mrs. M is an answer to our prayers (she's taught Kindergarten for 25 years!). She has already exceeded my expectations and today was only the first day.
holding back the tears. I am so proud of this boy!
Drew said his goodbyes last. And then that was that. We walked out of the school with one less child than we took in. Such a surreal feeling.

I only teared up a little walking out of the school. And am thankful for the floodgates of texts, phone calls and messages letting me know that my friends were praying for me.... I truly have the best group of friends that anyone could ask for. To soften the morning, I met up with a friend at Chick-Fil-A for the boys to play and for me to get some therapy Dr Pepper & Chicken minis. I was doing really well until we got in the car to go home and Connor said "Ok. Let's go get Brayden now." I had to explain that this is the way it would be from here on out. That Brayden wouldn't be with us during the daytime anymore. Connor sat still and pondered this for a second, and then, with tears in his eyes and a sad pouty face, said "But Mom. I miss Brayden!" Bless it all. We cried together and then got home, where Lego ninjas on Netflix seemed to soothe his brother missing soul.

We've almost got day one of Kindergarten in the books, and so far, it's not been near as bad as I thought it would be. I can only hope each coming day will get easier. I'm so excited to watch my boy learn and grow this year... here's to a great year in Kindergarten!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts on Kindergarten.

Several years ago, I swore I had my life figured out.

I already had my man, my cute little dog, and a quaint home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a nice little landscaped yard. I planned on having 3-4 kids, and I was most sure of two things: we would never live in a certain city and we would never send our kids to public school.
Fast forward six years. And tomorrow, I walk my five year old into a public school in that same city I swore we'd never live in.

Isn't God funny like that?

I have been an emotional roller coaster of a mess the past several days. Apparently it didn't fully hit me that Brayden was going to Kindergarten until he was actually sitting at his desk. With his name on it. And stuffing school supplies into his pencil bag with a big smile on his face like he'd just won the lottery.
I'm also going to be completely honest here: I have wrestled with God over these past several days. While I am completely confident in our decision to be in the public school system (this article actually articulates so well most of the reasons that I feel led to be in the school system in the first place... if you are a Christian teacher/parent/student in the public school system, READ IT. It's so encouraging!), I have doubted too. There are challenges and logistics that would so easily go away if I chose to stick to the comfort that I know. But God rarely calls us to places of comfort, does he?

Studying Matthew last year, I most related to Peter. He was strong and gung ho, and if Jesus asked the disciples to do something, he was usually the first to open his mouth and charge. But when Peter stepped out onto the water to walk toward Jesus, he doubted. Even when the Son of God was walking on water before him, he decided to look back instead of ahead, to look around at the chaos and not look to the One who controlled the storm. And I've found myself doing that this week, going back to the "what-ifs" and the questioning of decisions.
I don't think it's been a coincidence that I just completed the Restless Study (by Jennie Allen) this summer. Over and over again the Lord was confirming my passions were aligning with our calling of public school. At the end of the study, something Jennie said stood out: she said (and I'm paraphrasing here... please forgive me) sometimes we're called, and all we have to stand on is the rock in front of us in this great big body of water. And then, we're called to stand there, and wait for the next rock. And then the next one, and the next one, and so on. I think God knew I needed those reminders this summer that our decision to go to public school is so much bigger than just our family. And that if I chose to sit back and do what felt comfortable and known, I'd miss out on the greater blessing of being part of God's big picture.
Suddenly, he seems so big. #vscocam
So tomorrow we step on the first rock. Not knowing where the next ones may lead. But knowing that the Lord will be with us as we go. Am I sad? Sure. My baby boy, the one who made me a momma, is growing up and tomorrow I am starting the process of letting him go. This won't be the first good-bye I'll have to make on this journey of being his momma, and that overwhelms me a bit thinking about how emotionally drained I have felt JUST FOR KINDERGARTEN over the past four days. BUT. He's excited. And I know he's ready. And I know that if we are called, then the best place for us to be is in His will.

I feel like I'm rambling here, but I felt like I needed to share this. So that people would know that it's ok to doubt and wrestle and be afraid, even when you are confident in the calling. That just makes you human. I just want to encourage you to not look back. To stand strong and confident, not only in the decisions you make, but in the God who led you to make them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Farmers Market Fun and Other Noteworthy Happenings.

Well, here we are again. Tuesday night and I'm blogging about the weekend.

Here's the deal. I could blog on Sunday nights. But I am so darn pooped by the end of our weekends these days that I can't bring myself to open the computer.

And then there's the ever so small (yet looming large) fact that our oldest starts Kindergarten next week, and it's all I can do to soak up every waking moment of our lives this week with fun things with my kids, because... ALL THE FEELINGS ABOUT KINDERGARTEN.

I never thought I would be that mom. The one who was all sappy and sad over their baby going off to school. And perhaps next week will catch me by surprise, but right now I get teary just talking to him about it (and he's all "YAY! Kindergarten! I'm FREE and can eat chicken nuggets in the cafeteria for lunch!!!!!"). I have many more words I could say about this, but that's not why I'm here... moving on....

This past weekend was our last weekend with tennis and swimming lessons, so we decided to take the two bigs to the farmers market. It was our first time to the farmers market all summer, which I was kind of sad about. But then again, this has been such a peculiar summer. The weather has been insane in the category of extremes, and we also have Tornado Tyler to deal with, which makes any outing a rather chaotic one at best. This Saturday in particular we decided to arrange some childcare for Tyler so that we could all actually enjoy ourselves (sorry, Ty. We really do love you. But your constant fit throwing over not being about to crawl about on germ infested and crowded grounds proved to be a task that neither of your parents could emotionally handle on this particular day).

I mean. Seriously. I die.
Yarnells was offering free ice cream to the masses on Saturday. Sign us up. The boys ate ice cream while listening to a local band play on the square.
Drew will probably kill me for putting this picture on here. But there's just something about seeing your man with your kids. My boys ADORE their dad. And I think he's pretty awesome too ;)
please note Connor's half smirk. This was the picture taken directly after this one:
And we got this shot thanks to Brayden. Not too bad for his first shot with a DSLR.

After the Farmers Market we walked around for a bit and somehow ended up in an art museum. I would like you to take specific note that this was not my idea. I feel like as a momma I tend to get a better pulse as to the limitations of young boys. And I'm sure most other boy mommas would agree that two boys in an art museum (especially two boys that are under the age of 6), is like trying to play with fire. By about 15 minutes in this place I was about to have a stroke trying to keep my boys at bay before they ran into a piece of artwork that we would no doubt be permanently indebted to said hotel. For the short while we were there though, the boys did enjoy themselves.
unsolicited silly face. I've always been wary of the older years with kids. But seeing how Brayden is growing up and how he makes me laugh, I think I'm going to be ok.
please tell me I am not the only one who leaves art exhibits scratching my head. This particular exhibit was 2 people dresses as ostriches and walking backwards. On a video. They had the ostrich costumes set up on display as well:
so bizarre.
Connor has decided to exit his threes in style and give us a run for our money. Either that, or he's making me eat the words that I spoke when I said that the fours are much easier than the threes. Case in point:
look at that little cutie (talking about Connor, not Drew ;) ). Looks innocent enough. But he is kinieving. He's not trying to be cute. He's trying to be sly and hide the fact that he's about to...
...blow spit in his dad's face. Please note the underarm hiding maneuver. He's good, people.
two seconds later I asked for a picture of him near the green penguins. And this is all I could capture. That boy be cray cray.
once we got outside I thought perhaps the crazies had stopped. But please note the position of Connor's body in relation to the rocket. And his face. Sweet mercy, the teen years may be a tough phase for us.

So far we've had a week in the sun, soaking up the last several free days that we have to splash and play. I somehow survived the local aquatic center with all three boys today. The boys had a blast (minus the busted lip that Ty somehow managed to get), but I am fairly certain that that several years of my life were shaved off today ;)

And since I feel a little bad about leaving Tyler out of Saturday, I'll end this post with a Tyler pic:
No more spaghetti is just the worst.
sometimes life sucks. especially when you run out of spaghetti. ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Kindergarten Send-Offs

This has been a week of bittersweet for this momma. I feel like this summer has been both the longest and shortest of our lives. And as we continue to wind down the summer days, I have been both excited for my biggest boy and completely heart broken that this time of preschoolhood (not sure if that is a word, but I'm going with it) is coming to what seems to be an abrupt end.

My big boy at Kinderfest this morning at our church. He was so excited to be in the big kids area. Can't believe he's so big. This all seems so surreal.
Our church has a preschool area, and then once they enter the early elementary years, there is a separate area for Kindergarten thru second grade. This week they had a little half day camp for the kids to go and see the classrooms, play games and then have a family lunch. I'm not going to lie: I teared up a little when Brayden boldly walked into the room, and then quickly turned around to ask if I was staying with him. He's always been brave and super social, but like me, tends to balk a little at the beginning of anything new and uncharted. I had to choke down my own feelings to assure him that he'd do fine. I'm grateful he ended up spotting one of his very closest friends, and settled in without any tears. He loved K-2 town, and apparently I now need to learn how to handle dry ice, because they did some experiment with dry ice, soap and a washcloth and it's all he has talked about since. He's given me super detailed instructions like "You have to get some ice cubes, a washcloth and soap and then make it 109 degrees and it makes a huge bubble and smoke." :)

As if the little Kinderfest day camp wasn't enough of a send off, one of my best friends, Katie, threw a Kindergarten send-off party for all of the kids that have grown up together over the past several years. It was the cutest thing ever.
Avery and Brayden, then and now. It's so fun when your friends have kids who are the same age. Avery and Brayden have literally grown up together.
Katie had all sorts of cute decorations all over the house
I designed binder covers for the kids using silhouettes that I had found online, and then Katie used them on the garland of the mantle.
The kids all got to decorate pencil boxes with stickers and glitter glue. Y'all. I'm here to tell you that I'm not really sure how Kindergarten teachers do it. We only had 8 kids there, and the glitter glue alone was enough to send my blood pressure through the roof. Ha!
The theme for the party was "Let Your Light Shine," and Katie led a little devotional for the kids about not being afraid to be a light in their schools.
Brayden and his buddy, Jack. Another lifelong friend who has grown up with Brayden since birth. These boys will be heart breakers someday.
I know I'm biased, but these are 8 of the cutest kids in NWA.
(and also the craziest ;) ) I hope they will always be friends, even though they are all going to different schools this fall.

oh Brayden. How I love you so. You stole my heart the minute you were born. You have the best sense of humor, an infectious smile and contagious laughter. I love that you share my whole hearted love for all things sports, and yet you are still a gentle and humble servant to everyone you meet. Selfishly, a part of me wishes you weren't going to Kindergarten this year. But I know you are ready. And I know that you will make an enormous impact wherever you go. Go move mountains, big boy... You are ready....

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