Saturday, June 2, 2018

there's something about a hug {the last day of school 2018}

There's something about a hug. Whether you're the giver or the receiver, there's just something about a hug that changes your demeanor, the way you hold yourself together, the way I imagine that the brain lights up when love is given to another human being.
 When you go from this...
 to this...
because you love and adore your TK teacher. He told me that he wants to stay a kid forever and stay in Mrs. C's class. Frankly, I share his sentiments.
You might decide on your own to hug your principal 
and then before you know it, 
your brother joins in because he wants a hug from the principal, too!
 Sometimes you stand cheek to cheek because you're a special team that works together to make going to school okay, even when it's the hardest mountain to climb.
And suddenly, when you're side by side, it's inevitable that your team will send you off with an embrace to let you know one last time before summer, that you mean the world. 
They meant the world to me, too. I couldn't have taken care of my sweet girl without them.

Yes, there's just something about a hug that makes the world go round, especially when it comes from the sweetest first grade teacher.
 And then there's the newly turned seventh grader in his aviators picked especially for vacation.
The best part? He's coming toward me for a hug.
It's that something that life just wouldn't be the same without.

Monday, August 14, 2017

my hard drive is full and so is my heart {first day of school 2017}

I haven't posted anything since October of last year. October! Before we know it, it will be October and I will have almost an entire year of thoughts in my mind and pictures to go along with that were never written about. So it seems only logical to me that although those events definitely happened and I never wrote about them, it will make for a great throwback or flashback for several weeks to come.
Truthfully, my computer is PAINFULLY disorganized and I've been working the last several nights on photo organization. Part of the reason I haven't written in so long is that I have almost next to zero hard drive space, as in full, as in my computer is so disorganized that I can only upload my jpegs and not the original files to edit them the way I'd like.
That said, if I continue to wait, I will be so behind that all I'll ever be writing about is past events and never catch up.
It makes sense then to keep up until I catch up with unedited photos (even in their messiness). Afterall, I created my blog as my gift to my children and if you happen to stumble across it and get to the end well, thank you.
I'm not a supermom, I don't have any cooking tips or party ideas to share with you. I cannot coach you on fitness or healthy eating as I'm learning to do those things myself. I can't give you any style tips because I leave that to personal stylists or friends who actually have a gift for that sort of thing. My home is not drenched in farmhouse white (which by the way, I absolutely swoon over) and some days I wonder what God's big plan is for me, what is my purpose?
Never though, do I doubt even for a second that I wasn't meant to be a wife to my husband and a mama to my kids.
My heart was full today because I sent my boy off to sixth grade.
Fresh new haircut and all and my sweet boy says that he "wishes I was 99% still working at his middle school as the school counselor". He might not think that if I were actually there, but it still melts my heart. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he has a heart of gold.
He had a great day and the best part is that he is with all of my former colleagues/friends who I know will take good care of him.
I'm not sure how we got here. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was pregnant with him and sleeping on the floor of my office in between scheduling? Wasn't it just yesterday that I pushed these two in the stroller while pregnant with Tatum on my way to work?
Now he's there himself. It's just surreal.
Next up, the spunky one of the group.
Miss "Never Give Up" herself...
who rode her new hand me down cruiser from our next door neighbor.
She thinks she's pretty awesome and without telling her so her head doesn't get too big, I do too!
Third in line is so precious that she picked out her first day of school dress from the Old Navy uniform section. 
Nevermind that I bought her shoes on sale for her last year thinking they'd fit. My tiny girl who asks when she's going to grow. 
And then there's Mr.BB8
He's going on his first ever plane ride in September to Disneyland! Each TK or Kinder year with our kids, Erik takes them for a Daddy/Kid trip complete with pictures, videos set to music and an incredible bonding experience. I am so excited for them and sad at the same time because Liam is the last! I cringed at buying these shoes but he went straight for them. And I even let him wear them today. My mom had the best advice for this "daunting issue", and it all comes down to what makes you happy! 
A BB8 and R2D2 lunch box and water bottle coupled with some stylin' BB8 shoes?
It makes for one happy four, soon to be five year old!
Prepped with folders and original artwork for the inside of her desk,
my girl who has endured a really bumpy road with her health this last year,
is so very lucky to have yet another incredible teacher.
And this little girl has been writing letters (that we still have to send) to her Kindergarten teacher all summer long. Mrs. B is Tatum's idol, but I also know she's the reason that she loves school and the reason she already loves her new teacher, Mrs. M.
I just don't want to forget her little red dress or her blue with gold hearts backpack, 
or this spontaneous hug goodbye.
 I don't want to forget him smiling for his teacher as they celebrated Clifford the big red dog's 5th birthday (since everyone in TK will be turning five).
 I don't ever want to forget the excitement of getting his first tote bag,
or showing off his "kiss" after Mrs. C read The Kissing Hand.
And this. This completely out of focus picture that I will never part ways.
I just can't, no matter what any decluttering minimalism konmarie method person would say.
Why? Because this out of focus picture is real time. Unposed, she was coming at me so quickly I missed the "perfect capture" by a split second. This out of focus picture taking up more space on my already full hard drive is the happiest first grader on the planet who cannot wait to go back in the morning.
This out of focus picture brings me joy because that's what she was feeling and it gives me a reminder that my pictures don't need to be perfect to post.
I haven't even written about the last day of school yet, but we'll just add that to the list of my back to the future posts.
My hard drive is full and so is my heart.
Time to make space for more memories and savor them for as long as I can.
Love to all of you my sweet babies.
May you have a wonderful school year!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

faces and feelings of a newly turned four year old {happy birthday, liam erik}

Tap, tap, tap. Hello? Anyone there? Not sure if you're still here, but thank you if you are. After a very long hiatus, many undocumented events later, I'm back.
In that time, the first day of school has since started, soccer is more than under way as is preschool, Kindergarten, 3rd and 5th grades.
From Summer on, Liam has asked when he was going to "turn into four". 
Most days, he asks when he's going to be six. I'm pretty sure it's because Tatum is going to be six and since she's his best friend, he wants to do everything that she does. 
On the daily, I am asked, "Are they twins?". It doesn't bother me and my tag line is always, "She's just small and he's just big" and at home, I call them the twins. 
The big day finally arrived and Liam opened his eyes the morning of September 30th and proudly announced that he had "turned into four!"

What is a four year old to do on his actual birthday? Frozen yogurt, of course! It was Liam's pick. One of the best parts of the day was that Kieran, Anna and Tatum all had the day off of school, so we all got to go together (except Daddy because he had to work).
The many faces of a newly turned four year old:

I can't really describe his thoughts and feelings other than pure silliness, wonderment, intensity and joy.
After frozen yogurt, what does any four year old want do with the rest of their day? They want to get a hair cut, of course! Wait, what? Yes, I said that right. We were going to drive home after frozen yogurt and Liam started crying. He knew that his hair stylist, Janet was right down the street. Nevermind that we didn't have an appointment and that she is typically full. We marched across the street and I explained to her that I knew that we didn't have an appointment, but that I promised Liam that we would at least come in and ask. Two haircuts before us and we would sit and wait. All Liam wanted for his 4th birthday was to get his haircut! I think it's super cute and hysterical at the same time!
Janet fit us in and the world was right again.
 Getting Liam's haircut wouldn't be complete with out blue and silver sparkles,

 with a smile as a final result.
Since we needed to stop for some balloons before his birthday party that weekend, how could I pass up a giant orange balloon? Orange is Liam's favorite color.
Favorite Food: A jelly sandwich (he actually loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but because his school is a nut free zone, I send him to school with jelly sandwiches ;))
Favorite thing to do: Jump on the trampoline.
Favorite place to go: The park.

Might I add, Liam just loves life.
The faces and feelings of this boy teach me on a daily basis.

He smiles at the new day, he goes to bed with a grateful heart. 
We stop to look at the leaves on the ground, we skip over the lines on the ground so we don't touch the hot lava. We read books together, he wrestles with his brother. He giggles with his sisters and he gives everyone he meets a hug. If he really likes you, he'll give you a kiss. He loves to hit golf balls with Daddy and thoroughly enjoys a good trip to Costco to eat all the samples.
If something goes wrong he says, "But that's okay Mommy, it doesn't matter." In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't.
What matters to Liam is that people are kind and that they love one another.
Couldn't the world use more Liams? 

Happy Birthday, Dude Dude. You did it, you turned into four! 
I love you with all of my heart.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Transformation {last day of school 2016}

To think, when he was in Kindergarten, he joyfully went to school with light-up Star Wars shoes. I remember telling my mom that I wanted him to have cute shoes and not the "dumb light up kind". I also distinctly remember my mom (who is a preschool teacher and has been since I was 2 years 9 months at the same school-hello, 35 years later) telling me that I needed to get him the shoes that Kieran was excited about. "There's only a short amount of time that kids have when the teachers don't find it distracting and kids are still little and happy to wear their light up shoes because they are cool", she said. 
This was the time.
He wore his light up shoes with gladness and I'm so glad that I listened.
What I wouldn't give to rewind the time and see this little towheaded boy running toward me with his Storm Trooper feet smiling away.
My little guy is still little (much more so than his friends), but there's no denying the years that have passed. His hair still blonde and towhead for the most part, it will lighten by summer's end, but the darker shades mixed in are creeping up slowly. He will have much darker hair like his daddy come high school.
My little boy, 
still little...
but entering the fifth grade in the Fall. We didn't have the opportunity to take a picture with his teacher, but her loving kindness in helping him on his school journey (which has been quite trying at times both academically and emotionally), has been nothing short of wonderful. My little boy has not grown much in stature, but oh so much in wisdom.

Didn't this little girl hanging from the monkey bars who used to wear frilly skirts and a headband just start Kindergarten? The pitter patter of her little feet on the pavement in her sparkly light up shoes  have given way...
to tank tops, boy socks and high tops and sports shorts nearly every day.
She's always had her own sense of style as she should! I will never forget when we discovered that she needed glasses. We took her to the eye doctor and when she found out she needed glasses, I was a bit sad. I did not need glasses until I was a freshman in college and to me, they are a pain! Careful to keep my thoughts to myself so that she wouldn't denounce them, she tried different pairs on and with great pride. I wanted her to choose the versatile light brown ones with turquoise blue accent.
"You are boring, Mom!", she said. "I am going with purple and pink-that is more fun!"
Just like the Storm Trooper shoes, she was right.
My little girl...

who was given the blessing of a wonderful teacher. A teacher who helped her to meet her fears in math even after discovering a learning disability, to "try everything" and not consider it a disability at all, rather something that even though difficult was still conquerable.

And this sweet little TK girl...
didn't we just get your nametag and a stamp on your hand to start the first day?
Once a shy and reserved pint-sized girl (though you can't tell from the picture),
is now an extroverted, chatty, pint-sized girl. She and one other little boy were the smallest in their class. 
I bought a brand new outfit for the last day of school luau. While first day of school outfits are usually the norm, this mini-me is finally starting to grow out of her size 3 clothes (well, shirts anyway) and into 4 and some 5's at 5 1/2 years old. Her shirt says, "Sunshine & Happiness". 
Her teacher not only brought her sunshine and happiness, but she brought it to me as well. I was planning to volunteer just "once in a while". Lo and behold, I was on the calendar every Thursday for that first month of school. I could've said no. I could've hid in my shell that I had been in from the school year before when I took my year of leave. I am so very glad that I did not and I am proud to say that I only missed one Thursday the entire school year and that was because I was down for the count with strep throat that plagued our home for 3 solid months!
This teacher brought the joy back into my life that was sorely missing. She made it okay to go from resigning from my job as a school counselor at a school that I loved, to a school counselor stay-at-home mom who got to see magic happen in her own child's classroom. I thought my year of leave was a gift and I was wrong.  I even called it "my gift year". The year I actually left was initially painful and it turned into a gift that was multiplied beyond measure.

And when it was the last day and her teacher  crouched down to my sweet girl with her hands on her face...
the tears streamed down mine.

We talked all about the wonderful things she had learned including the latest song she had learned that had her doing the hula and singing the Mahalo song.

How did we get from this pair...
to this pair?
You'd never guess from either picture that they often fight like cats and dogs, but at each end to the day, they are filled with such love for each other.

One more year of preschool for this guy (who only has this first day picture and a last day picture that is captive on my phone)...
and God willing there is still TK,
the pair will shift once more!
That's the thing with life, it changes and then it changes again. I initially had this idea that I would love being at home with the kids and when I didn't, I thought something was wrong with me. In all honesty, there have been many days where I feel like I was a better mom when I was working. That's the deal with change. It's not easy. Where my patience used to run as the day is long, this change has chipped away. I fail and I get back up again...over and over and over again. That's okay though because I'm learning and I'm embracing this change which I've grown to love. Ask me if I want to go back and my answer is, "I don't know". I used to say yes. I won't say no. I don't want to live in limbo, rather I want to live NOW.

I have grown in many ways that I had not been able to in the past when I was working-things like volunteering in the classroom and joining two different Mother's groups one of which was heavily focused on growing my faith.

The theme of the year was "Transformation".
I am here to tell you that I am learning that that is what this crazy thing we call life is all about.
Nothing stays the same.
And it shouldn't.

Transformation is happening and will continue to happen for this short time we have on Earth. Whether it's my kids, my marriage, myself or my relationship with God, it's all hard work every single day. Some days I'm great, some days I'm good, many days I fail.
It's all worth the change in order to grow and live better.

So I say (as I've learned from my mother and my children), wear the light up Storm Trooper shoes, get the purple and pink glasses. Do a hula on the blacktop and sing the Mahalo song. Join a group where you know no one (true story). Pick up a great book and read. The Bible is pretty amazing! 

And remember, as my planner cover says:

"There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy!"

Thank you, 2015-2016 school year. What a transformation this has been! Next stop, Summer!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

{try everything}

Sign ups were announced weeks ago and Anna came home to let me know that I would be submitting her name for the talent show. There was no mention of dancing, no mention of asking others to be a part of her group. No, I was informed from the get-go, she would be performing a solo. I hesitated, not because I didn't think she could do it, but because I knew the hours of practice involved, along with the try-outs (no one is cut, it's just called try-outs so that they can see who is performing what) and dress rehearsal. It was one more "to-do" in our schedule. The selfish me did not want to sign her up, but the core of me knew that I had to, especially since this was all Anna's idea.

We set out to perfect "Fight Song". She already knew it, we just had to make sure that she was performance ready. The try-outs came, she performed what is a powerful song, along with 4 other soloists who were also singing their rendition of the same song! I'm not sure why I was surprised? Thinking back it was not a good decision for the very reason that the song is so popular. Anna was asked if she wanted to sing "Fight Song" in a group. Her eyes grew wide, the size of saucers, "No way am I singing in a group, Mom." "I am singing a solo." We left the room immediately planning what song she would sing next. Within minutes, Shakira's "Try Everything" from the most adorable movie, Zootopia, came to mind. A song with a difficult rhythm, she was eager to learn. 

See, it isn't that she is the next American Idol, and it isn't even that she wants to be a singer (although she does like to be on stage, she has a love and affinity for drawing). Anna just loves adventure. She has an amazing imagination and she is by all accounts, a true extrovert. 

That said, underneath the many layers of comedy, laughter, smiles and confidence, are also layers of extreme emotion. I'm not sure that Anna would want me to share the details, in fact, I know that she wouldn't which is why I won't. Let's just say that Anna is the most spirited of my bunch. Her emotions run away like a freight train, but only at home. Sometimes, the train is moving so fast it's out of control and it's very difficult to put on the brakes. Even with my education, my on the job training as a school counselor, the many years of working successfully with students-it still doesn't prepare you fully for the experiences that you go through as a parent. I don't know how to explain it, it's just different. I'm still learning what works best, what doesn't and quite honestly I've had many moments where I have thrown up my hands and given it up to God. There are moments when my mind gives up, but my heart knows to keep going. There are moments when I would rather shut the door and I'm pretty sure I've done this, because I just needed a time-out. I've needed a Hail Mary-the last ditch effort kind and the actual prayer kind, too. When I would work with parents I would often hear them say, "I've tried everything". Though it's easy to feel this way especially when we are at the end of our rope, it's simply not the case. "Tried" is not the proper word-it's "Try"-meaning, there's always more, there's always different, there's always another way. I am not afraid to reach out and ask for help. As quickly as the train runs and is sometimes a blur, we are learning from each other how to slow it all down. Try Everything.

Cue my tears when the lyrics to Shakira's song says, "Nobody learns without getting it wrong". Anna's struggle in school has been with Math. It's never been my strength and has always been a source of anxiety and self-doubt for me. I've made a point to not let my insecurities with Math pass along to any of my kids. I don't want her to feel as though she has to hide because she might have the wrong answer or that others might laugh-it's what I did. When Anna was Star of the Week in first grade, she told everyone her favorite subject was Math. I think Math for her is a lot like singing. It isn't that she wants to be a mathematician, it's that she loves to give something her all. When Math became increasingly frustrating for her, I began to see similarities in the way that I attempted to cover up the fact that I didn't understand. I was sad to see that her usual confidence was slowly chipping away. Having Anna tested for a learning disability was one of the best decisions because she now has the help that she needs and has regained her confidence. She knows it's okay to get it wrong and she's not going to give up. Try Everything.

Earlier, when we were getting ready for the show, Anna asked me if I wanted her to sing the song perfectly. I told her that it didn't have to be perfect, just to do her best and to have fun.
It wasn't perfect. The music didn't start correctly and she had to work to get back on track a few different times, but she kept going with heart and determination.

This girl. We've got quite the road ahead. She was 2 going on twelve and every teenage year after. She'll be 8 going on eighteen at the end of the month-ah, the tween years.
Open the flood gates as my heart filled with intense pride and happiness when Anna took the stage for the big show. When we first practiced she stood there like a deer in the headlights. By dress rehearsal, she had the volume. By the in-school show (that not everyone gets to do) Tatum's TK teacher told me that she and Anna's Kindergaten teacher loved her performance. By tonight's performance, Anna had big smiles, her own signature fist pumps complete with an unexpected bow at the end. Try Everything.

As the song lyrics say:
"Look how far you've come, you've filled your heart with love, baby you've done enough take a deep breath. Don't beat yourself up, don't need to run so fast, sometimes we come last but we did our best." It's a song for Anna, it's a song for me. It's a song for us as mother and daughter. On the days I don't feel I've done well enough, on the days she feels like a runaway train, on the days we don't feel like there's more, there is. Try Everything.

The email at the end of the day from Anna's 2nd grade teacher said, "Wow! A note to celebrate Anna today! She did a fabulous job in the talent show today. Way to go!"  That she did. 

Today, we celebrate.

Tomorrow and always, we'll Try Everything.

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