Wednesday, August 15, 2018

First Day of Kindergarten

Monday night we had Open House at Ainsleys new school. She got to meet her teachers, see her cubby, drop off all her school supplies, and tour the school. We walked her there and back, and mom and dad watched Parker for us so we could focus on A. 

Ainsley has been asking me “what will i do when i want to talk to you while I’m at school?” So i got her and I matching bracelets. I told her to touch it whenever she was sad or wanted to talk to me, and i would do the same. We also read the book “the kissing hand” and kissed each other’s palms. I’m trying to reassure her in any way i can. 

Also the day before she started, during Parker’s nap time, we went to the new trampoline park with Avery, got ice cream, and her nails painted. Those girls were kindergarten ready! 

She also got a sweet book from one of her previous teachers, and confetti to put under her pillow from her new kindergarten teacher. We are so blessed with so many wonderful and thoughtful people in our lives. 

That night Philip had gotten me wine, chocolates and flowers. To keep ourselves from melting we watched one of favorite movies, Bad Boys 2 and drank some wine from a bottle Aunt Ellen for Philip for his bday, “Liberty”. 

The day of kindergarten, we had to wake her up, tried to get some breakfast in her, and get her excited for her big day. Our sweet friend Kim insisted on coming over to watch Parker so we didn’t have to wake him up and drag him with us this morning. Which was so nice. We snapped some pictures and walked Ainsley to school this morning, trying to get her to talk about how she was she feeling. She said she “really just didn’t want to go” and “just wanted to go back to her grey room”. It was cracking my heart right open but i feel like we did good reassuring her and not crying (me). 

Once we walked in and got to her room, we found her cubby and helped her hang up her backpack. She got to sit with her friend Lola (which really helped her anxiety), and we made our goodbye quick. 

Literally as soon as we walked out of her class, i lost it. Like couldn’t get it together kind of crying. I had random moms hugging me, telling me it would be ok. We stopped by the “boo hoo breakfast” for kindergarten parents , where i was the only hot mess. So we didn’t stay long, and walked home, with people stopping me on the way out to hug me. I was totally THAT MOM. 

I tried to stay busy so i didn’t sit around in my sorrow, but i was basically counting down the minutes until 2:35. As i was preparing to leave to go get her it started raining, putting me in my first ever car line. I anxiously waited for my turn to pick up my baby, and when she came out of the school my heart was beyond joyful. She wasn’t all smiles, i could see the reservations in her face as she walked to my car. She got in and said “it was ok”. But then she told me about how Senorita Lucia did a magic trick with a wipe, making it disappear. And how she asked Mrs Caudill if she could curl her tongue (she can), and how she found my note on her lunch box and carried it all through recess, and how she touched her bracelet twice because she missed me. Then she sighed and said “ it was just really long, and a lot. And took a long time to get back to you”. And i wanted to cry, but i didn’t! Then she came in and ate 3 waffles. Because they don’t get a snack time. Isn’t that insane?!

She come home and Parker hugged her and they told each other they missed each other. Don’t worry 10 minutes later they were fighting again. 
So we survived day 1. Now just hundreds more. Which is the saddest part to me, it’s the end of a chapter for all of us. But we will get into our new normal soon. I’m counting today as a {mostly} success! 

I can’t thank everyone enough for your encouraging words; texts, emails, phone calls. It meant so much to all of us today, and we could feel the prayers for peace today! Thank you all of you, we are so lucky to be loved by so many! 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Night Before Kindergarten

I have sat down to write this post so many times. With so much to say and so many emotions. And then someone shared this post with me, and it was like she was So below are not words i have written, but they are words pulled straight from my heart. So Ainsley if you are reading this one day, know how hard tomorrow is going to be on me. But your daddy says i need to be brave, for you, so that’s what I’m praying for. 

The night before you send your kid to Kindergarten is a strange place.  (This is a long one.  And I'd being lying if I said I didn't cry while writing it.)

You make dinner, bathe everyone, referee the normal fights, do the obligatory loads of laundry...  all a typical night's work.  

But when she puts those little pajamas on and climbs into bed while the sun still has its face over the horizon, and whether you stayed home with her all these years or sent her to preschool, you'll feel a little panic... a little pain your heart hasn't felt before. 

It's tomorrow. 

I remember it both times very well.  

She will have her sweet little backpack packed and ready next to the front door.  She will stop and admire with anticipation her brand new outfit for the first day.  She'll ask if you packed her lunch and did you remember her juice and you'll say yes.  The house will be quiet as everyone settles into their beds.  You'll crawl in beside her and ask her if she's excited about her first day of school.  She'll say yes, she'll say she's nervous, and you'll tell her she's gonna do a great job.  You'll read her a book, you'll say your prayers together, and she'll drift off to sleep. 

But long after she's drooling on her pillow, you won't be able to get out of the bed from her. 

You'll study her face and you'll worry.  
What if she gets lost in the hall and can't find her way back to class?
What if she gets laughed at because she says "pupcake" instead of "cupcake" or what if she doesn't make a single friend all day long?
What if she can't open her milk carton at lunchtime or her water bottle at snack time and what if she falls on the playground and skins her knee but her teacher is too busy to hold her while she cries?  
What if she misses you badly all day long?  
What if she doesn't think about you at all?

I remember.  
I remember the worrying that night.  

Did I let her have too much screen time?
Did I play with her enough?
Does she know that every single one of those days that we were home together were days I wrote upon my heart forever? 
That every sandwich I made, every pool day, every morning we snuggled in bed together were gifts from God Himself to me and that even when I acted like I wanted to be anywhere else, there was nowhere else as satisfying to me as being with her?
Does she only remember the days I lost my crap on her or does she first think of the spontaneous ice creams and the time we ran and played in the rain and the silly faces and smiles that only took place between her and me? 
Did I affirm her enough so she believes she can attempt anything, but not so much that she's devastated when she fails?
Does she know she WILL fail and she SHOULD fail?
And does she know I love her even when she does?
Does she remember God is with her?  
Did I listen to her enough?
Does she know she can tell me anything?
Did I do enough, love enough, prepare her enough?

I see you, Momma. 
I know what you're going to do tonight. 

You'll lie next to her, and you'll study her eyelashes.  What will her eyes see at school that you fought for five years to protect her heart from?  Hatefulness, images on phones, bullies.  Her eyes will see it all.  But they'll also see kindness and opportunities and field trips and beautiful friends. They'll see her future and they'll look for you in every carline and they'll light up when she opens the door to crawl inside that moving cocoon at the end of the day.

You'll study her hands.  Will she fidget with them like only you notice she does when she's nervous at lunchtime because no one sits with her?  How will her little fingers look holding a big girl pencil at her big girl desk?  Will her hands touch the shoulder of a friend she's praying for?  Will they know to fold in prayer when she's panicked?  Will they raise in the air to ask a question if she doesn't understand?  Will they ever be tempted to throw a punch?  Will they show mercy when mercy isn't deserved?

You'll watch her breathe.  How many times will she hold her breath in worry as a teacher passes back out graded papers? How many cold mornings will she watch her breath in the morning air as she begrudgingly walks into the school building? How many times will she lose her breath in laughter over something a friend says so hilariously and how many times will she struggle to catch her breath in sobs of brokenness at disappointment? Does she know that every breath of her life will be important to you until you breathe your last one? 

Oh, Momma.  You'll put your face next to hers and you'll pray a prayer you've probably prayed before, but you'll pray it from a place of desperation unlike your heart has ever felt.  You'll ask God to protect her.  You'll ask Him for His mercy where you failed her.  You'll ask Him for good friends to surround her.  You'll pray her teacher loves her well and loves her hard in your daily absence.  You'll pray for her heart to always be listening for His voice and for that precious heart to be protected from pain and rejection and heartache.  You'll pray for boys to be good to her and for girls to be kind to her and for her days to be filled with nothing but happiness. 

You'll get up and you'll go to your own bed and collapse in the same exhaustion you collapse in every night.  Morning will come early, as usual.  And you know what?  

You'll be ready. 
So will she.  

You'll need some coffee, so I recommend treating yourself to one not made in your kitchen this time.  Target it waiting.  Those big red carts will take your mind off of what she's doing or not doing for at least an hour.  

Lift your cup high.  You did it.   You didn't do it perfectly, but you did it consistently and you did it well.  
You survived morning sickness and labor and diapers and nursing and colic and sleep deprivation and potty training and learning to walk and her first black eye and her first tummy bug.  You survived the ear aches and ear tubes and toddler sleep regression and the Terrific Twos and the Threenager stage.  You survived preschool and Hand Foot Mouth and you survived school shopping.  You survived school orientation and you survived last night.  

You'll survive today, too. 

Soon, it will be 2:00 and you'll need to drive your van to the school to get in your first carline.  It'll feel like forever 'til you see her little face on that sidewalk, but I almost guarantee you, it will be smiling.  She's a different kid.  She's a big kid now.  She grew up today and she's going to be so proud. 

And for the first time in 24 hours, you'll let out the breath you've been holding and a whole new normal will have begun. 

You've got to let her go, Momma.  
She's got a world to change and you've got sleepovers and after school snacks to prepare for.  

God's got her.  And God's got you. 
By: Jill Speegle Windham 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Michigan, Uncle Curtis and M&Ms

This past weekend, Aunt Melody marked the one year anniversary of Uncle Curtis’ passing by having a celebration of life for him up in Michigan. Since Philip was off the Wednesday before we decided to split the drive up and stop at the Wright Patterson Airforce Museum in Ohio. Parker enjoyed the planes and rockets and really loved getting to go inside some of them. 

We drove a little longer, to a Skyline and then stopped at a hotel with a swimming pool of course. 

We split up boys and girls in twin beds and hoped for the best! Philip and i both took a few kicks in the night and Ainsley likes to have her face squished against mine, but for the most part we slept pretty well:) 

We finished up the drive and made it to our AirBNB in time for Parker to take a nap. It was a beautiful lake house, but a little weird staying in someone else’s home. And it kept us on our toes making sure the kids didn’t break anything. 

That night we went to Uncle Bruce’s and Aunt Debs for a bonfire. Uncle Ted made sloppy joes and when the rain came in we took shelter in his barn listening to the rain hit the roof. Uncle Bruce gifted Ainsley with a refurbished rocking chair of Ainsleys great great grandmother. It’s beautiful and Ainsley is in love with it. 

Friday was our lake day. Aunt Melody packed a picnic lunch and we went to South Haven Beach where they had a playground on the beach! Ainsley loved rolling around in the sand (we were shocked) and Parker cried over every grain of sand that touched him. 

That night we had pizza at papa and grandmas. I tried to keep Parker from tearing the house apart, but was unsuccessful as he knocked over a lamp. 

Saturday was the celebration of life brunch. Melody rented out the back room of a breakfast place. The food was delicious, the kids were contained, and melody had gift bags for each person. Everyone got one of Curtis’s amazing photographs, the boys got one of his knives and bungee cords, we all got bandanas and peanut M&Ms (his favorite as it incorporated two food groups). She gave a beautiful speech, and made a touching slide show and book. The kids were good, largely in part to the dinosaur cars and Barbie gifts Aunt Melody got the kids:) 

That night we went to Aunt Carols and Uncle Teds for a cookout and pool time. Parker loved their new puppy, and both kids loved playing in the pool with the other kids (and daddy). 

Sunday we stopped by Papa and Grandmas before we hit the road. 

You’ll notice there aren’t as many pictures of Parker. That’s because he was not at his best. He was recovering from a bilateral ear infection, and nasty cough and just plain tired. Philip and I tried to tagteam him which left us both feeling like we didn’t get to visit as much as we wanted to. Grandma tells me it will be better when he turns three; I don’t believe her. 

We loved getting to visit with everyone and share a house with Melody, Brian, and Lindsay. Missing was Uncle Curtis’s laugh and spunk, but his spirit was felt and will forever be in our hearts.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Summer Life Lately

This past week the kids were BOTH able to go Super Hero Camp. So, Monday- Friday, 9-12, i was without children. I declared this week “Amanda Week” and really lived up my 2.5ish hours to myself each morning. I would go work out, run errands (so efficiently with only myself to drag around), cleaned house, got a manicure, got a massage, and took showers to MY desired length and actually dried my hair for maybe the third time all summer. I am refreshed and ready to tackle these last few weeks of summer! 

The kids loved camp, Parker especially loved finally being able to participate. Lots of their friends were there too so it was a fun week for them. 

The end of camp was a small “performance” for the parents. And Ainsley couldn’t handle it which spun Parker into a worrisome tizzy so he couldn’t handle it either. 

Ainsley also had her last dance/ballet class which also ended in a smal performance. My mom and I came to cheer her on and as soon as they came on the “stage” she was legit terrified and in tears. I got her off bc honestly it didn’t matter, and she has learned so much the past 6 weeks. Girl just doesn’t like too many eyes on her. 

We were able to visit our friends The Birdwhistell’s at their farm, which was super fun for kids and adults alike. There were animals and kids everywhere, but their land is beautiful and so peaceful. 

We also celebrated Anna Beth’s 4th birthday! Snow White made an appearance but Ainsley was still in her “too many eyes” mindset and she retreated to the pool. Parker gave us all a scare / pissed offness when he jumped in the deep end going after a ball. Philip jumped in fully clothed and with that the party was over. 

We are gearing up for August as it is going to be a busy month full of lots of changes for all of us. Let’s not talk about it yet.