Kindergarten. It’s Time.

I haven’t been feeling overly sentimental lately. I’ll admit, I can lose myself to the sentimental dark side from time to time, but I’ve been coasting close to “normal” these days. But, today. Wow, today! Today, I packed up a box of baby clothes to consign. Today, A and I watched cows and moo-ed and said hello to each one of them individually and laughed. Today, we received N‘s track assignment for year-around elementary school. We registered him for kindergarten in January and I had all the big feelings and emotions about it … and then, I just kinda let it go. So, even though I was expecting it, seeing his name with the word “kindergarten” and “track” beside of it … it just felt too real. Too soon. Honestly, my first thought was that maybe I could just toss that little postcard in the trash and pretend it wasn’t happening. Out of sight, out of mind. Eeek!

Y’all, head on over to Raleigh Moms Blog to read more!!

Xoxo

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More Than Beautiful

Yesterday, my first blog post for Raleigh Moms Blog went up! Whoop! I’ve been excited about joining their team as a contributor. But, I’m also excited to share my words with you here as well….

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Excerpt: “A few days ago, A (my 2-year-old) and I were strolling through Target (yes, it’s always Target, right?). She was in a particularly playful mood. I was stealing kisses from her. We were smiling. We were in our own happy world for that particular minute in time. I leaned down and said, “You are SOOO beautiful!” She wrinkled her nose and beamed up at me, giggling. And. Then. A woman (a woman whom meant well I’m sure — they always mean well, right?) said, “You know, you shouldn’t tell her that she’s beautiful.” My head whipped around. I hadn’t even seen her there. I hadn’t even noticed her in the aisle with us. My mind went blank.”

Click HERE to continue reading More Than Beautiful at Raleigh Moms Blog!

Photo Credit: Shannon Haynie Photography (She’s awesome, by the way!)

For My N, on his 5th Birthday

I love to write my littles letters on their birthdays. It’s for them, but maybe it’s more for me. It’s so they’ll remember. It’s so that I won’t forget. Time is impossible to stop. It’s impossible to slow it down. So, maybe … maybe if I can just capture a little sliver of it in words … maybe we’ll be able to remember just how sweet it all is …

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To my Favorite Boy,

My sweet boy. You are 5 now. Whenever I pause to reflect on you; to write to you – my heart gets caught in my throat and I always have to stop and have a good cry. It’s just … the way I love you has always amazed me. The way I feel about you can never adequately be expressed. It’s soo much.

It was a little cooler today and I noticed some of the leaves changing as A and I drove to pick you up at pre-school. Fall always makes me feel more sentimental.  I caught myself feeling overcome by mixture of happiness and sadness. I have loved your littleness. I have loved baby N and toddler N. Raising you isn’t always easy and we have days that feel desperate,  so raw and so hard. Yet, there is so much beauty in it. There is so much life in it and ridiculous amounts of joy. I have a wonderful time with you. You have made my life so meaningful. It’s strange to me that you are 5 now. Already. It doesn’t seem quite right. You should still be my little guy, but you are growing and changing every day. You are a kid now. It’s hard to let go and watch you grow. Yet, I’m so proud of you. And, though it’s hard for me at times and I yearn to wrap you in my arms and keep you little, watching you grow has been so rewarding and fun. It’s my favorite thing.

At 5, my boy, you are full of life. You are smart and imaginative. You are innovative and full of ideas. You are kind and tender-hearted. You think “stupid” is the worst “bad word” there is and you truly strive to use only “kind” words. You are easily frustrated, but mainly because you want to be able to do all-the-things. You are funny and goofy. You make us laugh. You sorta play soccer. Sorta. You love pre-school. You adore stuffed animals and have more than any child should. You struggle with greed … caused by your desire to have all the stuffed animals in the world. Ha! You are a comfy clothes wearer. Silly story teller. You are becoming a good little artist and not a bad little carpenter. You still want to be a construction worker when you grow up. You take good care of your sister and y’all are best friends, but you also like to tease her and sometimes you make her cry on purpose. You feel strongly about all the things. You. I’ve never loved anything more. My boy. My heart.

Love, Your Momma

You Might Not Remember

N and I were laying side by side, having one of our bedtime chats a few nights ago and he was quizzing me about “when you were a little girl, Mommy”, “did you do this and that?” And, honestly, I had a hard time answering. I couldn’t remember all of the specifics that he wanted me to remember. The details are hazy now. I wish they weren’t. I’d love to remember. I had a beautiful childhood. I WANT to remember it. All of it. As he fell asleep, I held him tight for a little longer than normal. My heart hurt as I realized … he won’t remember this. Oh. My. Gosh! He won’t remember US, the way we are right now. And, ahhhh, the way we are right now is everything to me. And, to him. And, He won’t remember. And, I’d love to say that I would … that I’d remember for the both of us. But, I don’t have the world’s best memory, sooo, I might not remember all of it either. Ugh. My poor Momma’s heart! So, what’s a girl to do to? Well, write it down, for one thing …

~My N. You probably won’t remember. At times it’s a thought that haunts me. This special time that we are sharing right now – this magical season in our lives – this most amazingly wonderful time. You won’t remember it. You’ll simply call it “your childhood” and hopefully, think of it fondly. But, actual formed memories … You’ll have a few. You’re 4. Not many people remember 4 very well, if at all. Our day-to-day lives and routine right now – you won’t remember. You already don’t remember our first moments together – the very first time ours eyes locked, the way we already knew each other. You don’t remember the day you decided to finally smile at me. The way the fog lifted then, and all was right in the world. Or, the way you’d cling to me to me late into the night, not wanting to be left alone. You’d cry, “rockaby baby, rockaby baby.” You won’t remember how you loved bath time and how you’d giggle when I sang, “Stinky feet, Stinky feet, I love you.” You won’t remember Daddy and I taking turns laying in your bedroom floor because you refused to sleep or how you slip your hand through the rails of your toddler bed to hold hands with me. You won’t remember the way our hearts hurt when we had to say goodbye in the mornings at daycare. Your face and your tears broke my heart every time. Yet, you’d race into my arms at the end of the day and we’d both feel whole again. You might just remember how much you loved your Curious George, how much you needed him, how you took him everywhere, how he went to school with you every single day of your 3-yr-old preschool. You might have loved him just enough to remember loving him. You might not remember the summer that Audrey was born. I started staying home full time with you and we’d spend afternoons just laying in the grass talking to each other. You might not remember becoming your momma’s very best friend that summer. You might not remember, how, when I’d dry your hair after bath-time, you’d lay your head on my belly and whisper to your sister. You might not remember how you insisted her name be Peaches and how you called her Peachie her whole first year. You might actually remember coming to the hospital in your Big Brother shirt carrying a pink bear, ready to meet our baby for the first time. It was pure magic. The kind of memories that, when strung together, make up a lifetime. Sigh. You probably won’t remember how you’d swear you were gonna marry me one day. “When I’m a grown-up, I’m gonna marry you, Mommy.” “And, drive a big truck too!” Oh, how sweet your love for your momma is. May we never forget. How you’d shyly whisper, “I love you more than anyone else in the world.” My heart would burst, not just from your dear, sweet words, but from the way you said them. You pronounced words correctly, but in your own way. I adored it! It wasn’t “world”, it was more like “wolod”. And, my boy, you sure rocked mine. My world. You won’t remember singing the sweetest Sunday School songs in the car with me. Or, saying prayers for strangers whenever an ambulance would go by or we’d pass an accident. You probably won’t remember how you’d fly out of the door when I’d pick you up at pre-school and jump straight into my arms for giant hugs and kisses. You won’t remember asking me for “snuggle buggle time” or curling up with me under our favorite blanket. You might not remember how wonderful you were to your baby sister. How much time you’d spend talking, playing and teaching her. Oh, my boy. You probably won’t remember all of this — your first years. But, I want you to know. They were dear, sweet, messy, beautiful, lovely, innocent, perfection. I may not remember all of the details as clearly as I’d like either. Yet, I know we’ll always have it. The feeling that comes from it. That part won’t leave us. The love. The beauty. The joy. That feeling — it’ll always be ours. We’ll always have that.

Xoxoxo

The Jesse Tree – A New Tradition

First, with a thankful heart, I wish you a lovely Thanksgiving. I hope you are spending the holiday loving on your sweet family. But, if you aren’t, if your day will be spent working, or if the holiday feels bittersweet to you … my prayers are with you …

Honestly, though, today my heart is focused on the upcoming Christmas holiday. I’ve tried to plan a little more this year … though to be perfectly honest, we all know what happens when we plan … life laughs in the face of our plans, right? But, by plan, I don’t mean decorate or prepare my home. I haven’t even touched any of that yet. My decorations are still in the attic. Maybe next year I’ll “plan” to decorate earlier. This year, I’ve been attempting to prepare my heart for the holiday. I truly want to focus our family’s thoughts and hearts on The Lord this year, as He is The Reason For The Season after all. There will still be plenty of Santa, our Elf-On-The-Shelf, Christmas cookies, Christmas movies and reindeer in our house. We do love those things too! But, I want to raise my children with a clear focus toward God. What better time to start then now?

Have you heard of the Jesse Tree? Maybe you have. Maybe you’ve been doing it for years. If so, good for you! I’d love to hear from you about how your family incorporates this tradition. Feel free to comment below and share with the rest of us. If you are like me, and you are just discovering this amazing tradition, maybe you can start with me …

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I was initially inspired by an article on Missional Motherhood (which is a fantastic resource for women, by the way) titled Teaching Your Children His Story With The Jesse Tree. So, what is the Jesse Tree? To put it simply, it is an advent re-telling of the lineage of Christ. It’s told in a chronological way (from Creation to the birth of Jesus) that makes more sense to our children … and, honestly, to us too. Each day, starting either after Thanksgiving or on December 1st, a new ornament (one that you can create, download, buy, etc.) is put on your Jesse Tree, representing the story for that day. My plan is to keep this tradition as simple as possible this year as my children are only 4 and 1. Then, I’ll grow it as they grow. I don’t want this to feel like a hassle, something else that we have to do. I want it to be enjoyable, easy, fun and meaningful. This year, we will read the Bible verses and story for each day together, then we will create the ornament for the day with foam paper, crayons, markers and yarn. The ornaments will be messy, childlike and … wonderful! I’m going to place a small tree in the dining room that will act as our Jesse Tree. The Littles can add their handmade ornament each day and decorate this tree as they choose. I’m not looking for pretty or perfect here. I’m looking for meaning and memories.

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The goal, with the Jesse Tree, is to have a more intentional Christmas. To approach the holiday with faith and the desire for our children (and ourselves) to grow spiritually. To create meaningful traditions and memories, while allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate their precious hearts to be drawn to Him.

Let’s do it. Let’s create meaning.

A list of helpful resources for you:

Missional Motherhood

Ann Voskamp

Blessed Beyond a Doubt

I Didn’t Know – So Hard to Watch Them Grow

This morning N wanted to watch a video (a video of himself) on my phone. He doesn’t usually watch the older ones, but this morning he chose the oldest. It was recorded a year and a half or so ago. We watched it together and laughed at how cute and sweet his baby voice sounded. He was maybe two and a half years old. He was singing happy birthday and other silly songs. He was talking about my growing belly and what it was going to be like to have a sister. He looked so much smaller to me, so much more like a baby. I didn’t realize just how much he’d grown. Just how different he’d become. It caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting to react to it the way that I did. But, his voice was just too precious. It brought tears to my eyes immediately. I smiled over at him, tucked snuggly under my arm, and we giggled and laughed about “silly Mommy and her happy tears.” Later though, after I dropped him off at pre-school, I watched it again by myself and I cried a little more. Maybe it IS silly. But, for a moment I let myself miss that little guy. I allowed my heart to hurt. It’s just amazing to me … how much he grew in a single year … how different he sounded. How different he is. I don’t want to be sad. This is a GOOD thing. This is the BEST problem to have. My children are growing. I’m not crying over any tragedy or loss. It’s all good. Yet, every now and then, I let myself grieve the passing of time. I let myself FEEL it. It does hurt. It does. I have a wonderful boy and a wonderful girl. They are healthy.  I love watching N grow and become who he’s going to be. I love it. I love who he is today. Yet, I just didn’t know it would be so painful. I didn’t know how I would mourn each stage once it passed. I watch A now and try to memorize each little piece of her. I know how quickly it goes. How fast it’s moving. I want her to be my baby. I’m grasping for her to stay little. I’m no fool. I know exactly what happens when you hold too tightly to something. It slips right through your fingers. I want them to grow, of course. Of course. I just didn’t know. I just wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know that I’d yearn for them, my babies. That I’d miss their littleness, even as they are still right by my side. That I’d miss two-year-old N and 3-year-old N and 6-month-old A. My memory isn’t the best. I have trouble holding on to all the details. I just can’t keep them all or remember it all. It grows fuzzy way too fast and I’m left feeling helpless. I didn’t realize, I didn’t know, that with motherhood would come the strangest combination of wholeness and brokenness. I had no idea it was possible to feel, simultaneously, complete joy and the crush of a broken heart. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that watching my babies grow would fill me with pride and wonder… and agony. I didn’t know that I marvel at the child they were becoming while still longing for my chubby-handed baby. I didn’t know that I would feel so much all of the time. All. The. Time. I feel so much. It’s like I’ve been stripped raw. They say that once you have a child, it feels like your heart is separate from your body … that your heart is out there, walking around in this big ‘ole world. And, I find that statement to be completely true. My heart grew, with each baby, so full and tender that there are days when I worry it will burst wide open. It’s full of love, joy, peace, happiness, tenderness, fear, worry, pain. There are days when I’ve never felt more, or less, like myself. It’s the most puzzling of mysteries. The heart of a momma.

Halloween Recap

Yes, Halloween is over. The costumes have been tucked away. Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner … and already filling our minds. Yet, I just have to take a day to recap our 2014 Halloween costumes. This year, we went the DIY route and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. Of course, I’m no seamstress and couldn’t have done it without the help of my mother (N & A’s talented Gram). I mean, really, they would not have had these costumes without her.

N wanted to be The Man With The Yellow Hat. It truly was the most fitting costume that he could have chosen for himself. He’s loved his Curious “Georgie” for nearly a year and a half now. That stuffed George of his looks loved too, let me tell you. So, I was pretty thrilled that he selected such a unique costume, and one that was just so HIM. However, a brief Google search showed that there weren’t any Man With The Yellow Hat costumes for kids. None. Amazon offers an adult version, but that wouldn’t help us any. So, I enlisted the help of good ‘ole Gram and we tackled N’s costume together. She really did the hard part. She sewed yellow pants and a yellow shirt. I made the yellow tie and the yellow hat.

I started with a basic, black, kids-sized witch hat and yellow felt. Then, really, I just went for it. I wish I had step-by-step DIY instructions that I could share with you, but I don’t. I just held my breath and got started. My goal – to cover the witches hat with yellow felt, make it less pointy on top, and reassemble The Man’s yellow hat as much as possible. Perfection was NOT the goal. And, after doing, I’m so glad it wasn’t, because I sure didn’t achieve the PERFECT yellow hat. But, I did achieve my goal!

As for the tie, I simply used one of N’s ties as a guide, traced it onto the felt, cut out separate pieces, and hot-glued it together. I doubled the felt so that the tie would be thicker and I left room at the top (knot) to thread the elastic through so that N could easily wear it around his neck. I’ll admit, the tie was easy. The hat …. not easy.

In the end, N was The Man With The Yellow Hat. He looked awesome. He felt awesome. It was ALL awesome!

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Next came A’s costume. This was her first REAL Halloween. Last year, she was an itty-bitty 2-month-old and I didn’t put her in a costume. This year, A’s one and this momma wanted to have some fun! Plus, A didn’t care about Halloween. She didn’t have multiple ideas and opinions about what she wanted to be (unlike a certain brother of hers). She didn’t even really know what was going on … she was just along for the ride. So, I just had to, HAD TO do one more “peach” themed something for our little Peachie. I just couldn’t help myself. I had seen a Rockford Peach costume on Pinterest months earlier and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was perfect for her, really. And, A League of Their Own had always been one of my favorite movies. SOOO… Gram to the rescue once more! She found an adorable little dress pattern, some peachie pink fabric and she created the sweetest little dress for A. I found Rockford Peach patches on Etsy and a tiny red hat on Amazon, and Ta-Da…. a costume was born!!

Here she is in all of her Rockford Peach baseball glory! My Little Miss Peachie!

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Hope y’all enjoy our costumes as much as we did! Happy Halloween!