Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Five Year Old

I was just dumping pictures onto my computer and I found these from a couple weeks ago.

I know I've already gushed about her birthday, but something about 5 is really hitting me hard this year.  I'm sure it has everything to do with kindergarten looming around the corner.  Anyway, I have nothing more to say tonight that I haven't already said, I'll just explain that these pictures are from our special Mommy-Daughter date to The Lion King.  We had a marvelous time getting dressed up, eating on Fountain Square, walking hand-in-hand through downtown, and enjoying the show together.

Also...she's completely half grown up and half crazy nut.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Winter is Over, Spring is Finally Here!

Friends, I had a rough winter.  I don't want to write about it or talk about it, but I will say this: longer days of sunshine and rising temperatures have done wonders for my soul.  Opening the windows in our house is every bit as good as airing out the cobwebs in my head and shaking off the dust of worry and anxiety that just seemed to pile up in the cold and dreary months.  I feel like I can breathe again (oddly enough, I can't actually breathe at all because of my stupid, incessant allergies)! 

Anyway, this past weekend we took our first family hike in the creek behind our house.  I used to hate creek hikes, but as the girls are getting older I'm starting to see myself in them and I'm starting to remember how much fun creeks were at that age.  I remember feeling the cold water seep into my socks and smiling at the crazy notion that I was doing something people don't usually do.  I remember how my heart would race as I turned over rocks, looking for bugs or snakes or treasures.  I remember keeping one eye on my feet and one eye on my brother, because I thought it was my job to keep him safe.  I remember feeling more triumphant with each leap onto a dry rock, and looking ahead to the next rock I would conquer.  I remember wearing dried mud like a badge of honor on my arms, legs and face, smiling from ear to ear as we walked back to the house in our sloshy shoes and dripping t shirts. 

I watched the girls do exactly that in the creek on Sunday and I gave a little nod to God in the sky for giving us such a beautiful day and a wonderful family adventure.  Also - I took pictures.  Because heaven knows I don't want to forget this.

Is it just me, or did Sylvia grow about ten inches since her birthday?

Margot was hesitant until she got her feet wet.

Conqueror of the Creek

Noticer In Training

"Margot, if you need help, just call for me, okay?  I'll come get you."

Main Man #1

Main Man #2

I mean....I heart is melting.

It was like I could see her brain growing.  So much learning in such a short time!

The best pic I could get of his chubby fingers grabbing branches.

I loved that the brush wasn't too overgrown yet.
 When we hiked back up the hill, the girls didn't whine or complain or ask to be carried.  They were stopping every five feet to pick up more "treasures" but I didn't care.  I got a sweet glimpse ahead to our summer plans - nothing.  This time is so precious, especially now that Sylvia's almost in school.  We have no agendas, no pressing classes or sports or homework.  These preschool years are MINE and I get to watch these kids grow and learn naturally without a curriculum.  We can go where ever we want, read whatever we want, sing anything we want....this summer will be their roller coaster and I'll just be along for the ride!  I'm so glad winter is over.  I'm so glad spring is here.  I'm so glad I can enjoy these sweet babies I've been blessed with and that I get them all to myself for one more summer!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Sylvia Should Know

Tonight is Sylvia's last night as a four year old.  At 3:19am she will officially be 5.  When I put her to bed, I told her her birth story (again) and I looked at those sweet blue eyes and tried to imagine her future.  I've had her for five whole years.  I hope she's learned some things from me, but just to be safe, I'm writing down a few things I think she needs to know.  These things are very important because once she starts Kindergarten, they'll be harder to teach and harder to learn.  These are things I think my 5 year old should have a good grasp on already.  

1. You are loved.  Please know that this is where it all starts.  We love you, your grandparents love you, God especially loves you and chose you for something special.  Also, so many people at your new school already love you!  You have a very safe place to land while you explore this beautiful world.  We're all in your corner.  Go get 'em, girl!

2.  Our pride, like our love, is unconditional.  You can't have any more or any less of it.  Nothing you will ever achieve will make me more proud of you.  And no mistake you ever make will make me less proud of you.  You are you.  You are enough. 

3.   I'm sorry I'm not perfect, but I'm glad you know that by now.  I thought it was my job to keep you perfect - the way you were when I got you.  But I've learned that it's my job to show you what imperfection looks like.  It's my job to show you how to solve problems, how to get mad, how to make the most of the crap that life throws at you.  I don't always make the best choices, and sometimes I yell and get scary...but I don't hurt people, and that's what I hope to show you.  It's okay to be mad or sad or cranky or upset.  It's normal!  Just remember that your feelings never validate harming someone else.  Not even your sister.

4.  Fairy tales make you smart, as long as you're willing to think about the hard parts.  Never settle for the first rendition.  Ask questions.  Create your own endings.  Imagine what the world would be like if you were that princess in the tower, or living in a far away land, or scrubbing floors.  The real magic in fairy tales is the unique perspective they give us on the world.  With a healthy imagination and a lot of empathy, you will change lives.

5.  Your daddy is your prince.  Sure, he's my husband and the love of my life, but he's your prince.  You have a relationship with him that is separate and whole and beautiful.  He makes you a better person, even if you're resistant to that idea.  He is teaching you his first language - the language of his parents and your grandparents - so that you will have access to half of your family story.  Without him, you're just a girl in a play dress, but with him, you are royalty.  Don't forget that.

6. Being nice is really hard sometimes, but it's always worth it. People can be so mean. When someone is mean to you, it's hard not to hate them. But hate is like the plaque that causes cavities! It eats away at us until there's a big hole in our hearts. Being nice isn't easy, but it's every bit as important as brushing your teeth.

7. The whining has got to go. You can think of better ways to persuade people. You are so clever. Sometimes I'm shocked at how easily I give in to your well-planned requests. Words are more powerful than tears, and you know a lot of great words.

8. Food is your friend. Enjoy it. All of it. I don't worry that you'll be overweight or underweight. I worry that you won't understand how amazing food can be! Color, flavor,'s a road trip for the senses! Don't panic. It won't kill you.

9. Don't forget about your sister and brother. It's your job to love them when we're not around. Someday they'll be in school, too. You don't need to be a knight in shining armor, but please don't be an enemy. They need to know you're all on the same team.

10.  You are the intersection of two lines of heritage.  Each branch of our tree was formed by someone else's choices.  Your grandparents made bold choices.  We made bold choices.  And because of that...the world has you!  You are truly a miracle.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

"On the night you were born, 
The moon smiled with such wonder
That the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
'Life will never be the same,'
Because there had never been anyone like you,
Ever in the world."
Nancy Tillman, On The Night You Were Born 

Here's a song that reminds me of you, with some pictures that show how much you've grown in five short years.  We love you, Nugget.  Keep being awesome.


Monday, April 6, 2015

A Preschool Birthday

Last year we had no parties at our house for Sylvia's fourth birthday know...we were in France so we took her to a castle.  It was, in my opinion, a big deal.  We told her we'd have a party when we got home, but our trip was long enough and exciting enough that by the time we got home she completely forgot about our promise so we carried on with our lives.  But this year, the girl wanted a party.

Her theme changed from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Frozen Mutant Ninja Turtles to just plain old Frozen.  I was happy with that because it was easy!  She has 17 kids in her preschool class and we initially thought about just inviting the six kids she most often talks about.  No disrespect to any parents who choose to do that - I totally get it! - but as a teacher I've seen too many heartbroken nine-year olds who come to find on Monday morning that they weren't invited to a birthday party.  The thought of 17 kids in my house was enough to make me break out into hives, so we strategically scheduled her party for the day before Easter, which was also during Spring Break, in the hopes that some families might be busy already.  Is that terrible?  Or is it brilliant?  I'll let you decide.

We ended up with 12 kids, including Sylvia, Margot, and Addie's little sister Norah.  I'll let the pictures do the talking in a minute, but before I do, let me say this: those kids were awesome.  Every one of them was polite and friendly and they all played so well together!  A few parents chose to stay for the party while most just dropped off their kids and hit the road, and the ones who stayed were so nice and I was thrilled to get the chance to chat with them.  It was a really nice afternoon!

Before her guests arrived, we gave her our present: a new Elsa dress!  It has a sparkly cape.

Those Frozen banners are shopping bags from the dollar section at Target!  I hung them all over the house and then made the kids take them home at the end of the party.  I used 432 rolls of tape to make them and attach them to the doors, bannister and tv stand. 

Grammy made the North Mountain cake.  It was a hit!
Brody and Robin designed a killer train track while waiting for more guests to arrive.

Pin the nose on the Olaf was a hit.  As you can see, we spared no expense in our game supplies.  Yes, those are Margot's Christmas tights used as a blind fold!

Snacks in the sunshine!

Pre-present photo op.  These kids are so sweet!

Morgan was DYING to show Sylvia how her card had it's own little pouch on the front of her gift bag.

Sylvia's BFF, Addie helped control the gift flow.  Robin gave her Lois Ehlert's books!

Lighting the candles.

Margot and Norah, the little sisters, share a chair.  How cute are they?  They get to start preschool together next year!

Jason photo bombed the candle blowing photo.  Good job, buddy!

Happy Birthday!!!!!

Ann and Albert.  I guess we had 14 kids, since I forgot to count the baby brothers!

The Dads thought it was a beer drinking party.

Sylvia let her friends help her color her new bag, which made it look really cool in the end!

I couldn't find Sylvia, then I caught her and Robin downstairs digging into her new Lego set!

They were working so hard, so I just sat down and took some pictures.

Frozen paper dolls!

A selfie with Norah, Margot's partner in crime.

Addie and Norah entertain Albert.

The Cooneys and the Reynolds hung out for the after party: pizza and beer/juice boxes.

My Nugget.
It was an awesome party.  I have another post coming before her actual birthday hits on Wednesday.  That's the day I have no choice but to call her a 5 year old.  My heart is soaring and breaking at the same time.  I'm so over-the-moon in love with this little girl.  She's turning out to be such a cool person.