Wednesday, August 27, 2014

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: LITTLES EDITION

This morning was quite glorious in my little world.  Every one of my children was safely and *mostly* happily ensconced in some kind of program, leaving me with a quiet, empty home.  When I was telling John how much I enjoyed the empty home, I felt a momentary flash of guilt knowing that someday, the empty home will make me sad.  But, he pointed out that we really enjoy the exception to our norm, and someday, I will really relish the full, noisy home, when the silent home is my norm.

But this morning, I basked in the quiet.  I sat on the couch without moving for at least 30 uninterrupted minutes doing a lot of nothing, which felt wonderful.  This was the first morning that I had to get everyone ready to go and take Lily before I then took everyone else.  Amazingly, it went smoothly, for the most part.  I laid out pretty much everything the night before, which is an essential component to mornings going well around here.

We also added the stress and strain of pictures before we left the house.  The younger children were about as cooperative as I could have hoped for (photographing Violet is just plain difficult right now - that girl never stops moving), but Lily felt that tears were very necessary.  However, she still wanted to have her picture made.  Lily's adjustment to kindergarten has mostly been very smooth, but I can see her tiredness come out in these moments when something that is of very little consequence all of the sudden becomes a massive, tearful ordeal.  She insisted that I take her picture, even though she could not stop crying.  Here's a little dose of real life for ya!

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And here are the rest, as they embark on a new school year!

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Violet wailed for a while after I dropped her off, but I'm told that she did eventually manage to pull her little self together.  Chilliam and Bella took their new classes in stride.  I had a blissfully unencumbered morning, and I am looking forward to this being repeated again tomorrow morning.  Having the breathing room is good for my soul, and I am thankful for the time we have apart.

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But, I am (almost) always ready to see them again when the time is up!  Glad we are getting into the swing of things.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THINGS I WANT MY KIDS TO KNOW: TAKE THIS JOB & LOVE IT

I'm continuing this little series of Things I Want My Kids to Know.  I've realized that all of the topics I've chosen are things that I feel a little "soapboxy" about.  I feel like parenting is one of those things that brings out the strongest emotions and opinions, because at the end of the day - this is our shot as parents.  You only get one go-round with your kiddos, and there are SO MANY things that I want them to know and understand before they leave our home.

I do understand that most important things are caught, not taught, and I'm hopeful that they can see us as their parents living out those things that are most important to us.  And, if there are ever any doubts, they can always reference these blog posts.  Ha!

Dearest darlings of mine,

Someday, I hope that each of you will have the opportunity and desire to be gainfully employed.  I hope that you can dream big and reach for the sky and that the world will be your oyster.  I fully hope and expect that you will each be able to accomplish great things in your own ways and times.  I can already see that each of you have unique strengths to bring to the world, and my excitement grows as I think about all that you will do in your lives.

But - I wanted to write a note of caution to you all.  Pretty much anything worth doing takes a lot of work.  Also - you may not like it all the time.

I hear a lot of people say things like, "Find something you love doing and figure out a way to get paid for it" -or- "Do what you love and never work a day in your life".  I completely understand the sentiment behind these statements and can assent to part of them.  I hope and pray that you look for jobs that are suited to you and that you will enjoy and find purpose in.  After all, you spend a lot of life working.

However, I think the concept of totally loving every aspect of your job and life is not a realistic expectation to set.  ESPECIALLY right after you finish schooling, when the drive towards idealism and self-actualization is like a tidal wave that is easy to ride until you wash ashore into reality.  The best advice that I can give you is to start doing something, anything.  Work hard at it.  Figure out what you like and what you don't.  Learn to be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

Do you hear me?  Learn to be content.

Some things will go your way.  Some things won't.  You can change some things.  Others will be totally out of your control, and the sooner that you quit fixating on those things - the better.

In our life path, we have had surprises and set backs and a lot of hard work.  We are not doing what we thought we would be doing, but it is exactly what God has for us.  We love so many things about it, and there are other things that we are less crazy about.  That is going to be true for pretty much everything in life.  Always.  Find ways to make peace with the things that you don't like and learn flexibility.  (This is something I still have to work at everyday.)

You can read the story of how we got into CFA here, and I can assure you, it is not what we imagined for ourselves.  But, I am so thankful for the life it has created for us, and I know it is exactly where we should be - good times and hard.  Your dad has another saying, "Don't try to change the world.  Try to change your world."  And I see him living it out everyday.  He is changing the world around him through all of the people he interacts with on a daily basis.  It is hard and good at the same time.

Please find ways to be thankful and content.  Those are attitudes that you choose, and the more that you choose them, the more you will feel them.

I am so excited to see what God has in store for each of you, and I know that you will do great things.  But most importantly, you will be great - because you are you!  You never have to earn our approval or love - you are so loved, no matter what.  I can never say that often enough.

(But do know that I will eventually quit bank-rolling your life no matter how much I love you!)

With love forever,    Your Mother

Saturday, August 23, 2014

FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL: HIGHS & LOWS

We have mostly lived to tell about our first week of school.  I say "mostly," because I am currently battling a cold that just made me sneeze snot all over my hands and the edge of the computer.  You're welcome for that little piece of info.  Here's a rundown of our highs and lows this week.

High:  Almost all the women that I regularly do life with had a kindergartner going to school this year.  Many of us gathered on Tuesday morning to commiserate and have a playdate with the set of younger fry still left at home.  We had far more good food than we needed, and I brought CFA's new iced coffee for everyone.  I've had one almost everyday this week.  Many of us have another crop of kiddos going off in two years - it really does go crazy fast.



Low:  John yelling, "The oven's on fire!  What should we do?"  We took out the Texas Toast that was unfreezing for Community Group and watched the little fire burn on out.  Nothing like a little fire drama to keep things interesting.



High:  Lily loves school!  Her "color" did not change from green all week, and she seems to be adjusting really well.  We celebrated a great start to the week on Wednesday while William was at therapy.

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High:  Little Miss Violet LOVES frozen yogurt.  Which totally makes sense.




High:  William and Violet started their new therapy schedule this week, and it is much better for them.  Look how happy William is in the therapeutic walker!



High:  Though the new long school day is an adjustment for us, Lily does come home and get to play in the afternoons and evenings.  I'm so thankful.



Low:  Both babies have gotten to the stage where they are regularly making messes.  William is especially proficient at spreading things away from himself as far and wide as he can.


Low:  This week it hit me that I have wasted years of Box Tops.  Never again.  I will always cut them out in the future and give them to some school that needs them.


High:  Lily rode the bus home on the last three days of the week, and we plan for her to do so from here on out.  She LOVES it.  I LOVE that I do not have to wake the babies, and I actually get her at the same time - if not earlier - than I would if I picked her up.  This means that Bella and I walk across a yard and wait for a few minutes before the bus comes.  Bella comes prepared.



High:  Rollin' on the River.  It was great to be able to take part in an event that benefits Easter Seals - where William and Violet do most of their therapy.  We have been so helped by them, and it felt fantastic to support the cause!



Low:  Because CFA was also at the event, it was a little harried for our little family.  And it was hot.  But, we survived!



Low:  There is a lot coming up in the next few months.  This means that John is working a bit more than usual.  So - here I am blogging in the office while he studies some new documents.  What an exciting life we lead.



All in all, it has been a good week, and I'm so very thankful for a great start to the school year.  Now, we just have to rinse and repeat most weeks through May.  I hope we are up for it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

THROW BACK: WHEN JOHN & CAROL WERE FIVE

Baby girl started Kindergarten this week, and mostly, it has been really great.  For a bit of fun, I thought I'd drag up some pictures from when John and I were about to start school.  I don't have actual pictures from each of our first days - though our mothers might have them somewhere.  But, I do have one of each of us in the months prior to us starting Kindergarten.

It's funny, because I don't really think Lily looks much like either one of us.  People are always playing the "who do they look like" game, and I feel like I am horrible with it - especially when it is so close to me.  Sometimes I catch flashes of expression or mannerisms that remind me of myself or of John, but I rarely think that Lily or Bella looks much like either one of us.  They are just Lily and Bella.  (Though there are often comparisons of Bella and cousin True, which I can see a bit.)

Here I am at my fifth birthday party.  Care Bear themed, as I am sure many parties were that year.

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And, this is John at his first "spiritual birthday" (the day he proclaimed faith in Jesus as a child), in the March before he started school.

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He is so very cute.

So that's my Throw Back Thursday blog post.  Enjoy.  If you started school this week - I hope that the week has been kind to you!