"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

25 August 2014

A Preschool Prayer

Dear Jesus, friend of the littlest ones,

I pray that tomorrow will be a good day for my little boy, a good day to launch a great year.

Bless him with confidence and courage to always stand up for himself and to be a helper to others. Help him to really know that You are right there with him, even though his daddy and I can't be. Please help him not to be anxious, because You know him better than even we do, and You know the mixed emotions that are coursing through his spirit. Help him to shine Your love in his classroom. Help him remember to be a bucket filler. Please protect his heart from unkindness and shield his cheerful, fun-loving spirit.  

I pray that he would love his teachers, Abba. I pray that he has That Special Feeling about them, the sort that prompted him to wink at the elderly lady in the wheelchair cart at the grocery store today. I'm pretty sure that prompting comes from you. I pray that they would love him back. I'd like to believe that both of his teachers have been doing this for so many years because they genuinely love little ones. Please grow a love in their hearts for our B. I pray that they know and love You, Abba, and that they are teachers because of that love.

May he make good choices, Jesus. Give him wisdom as he chooses buddies. I pray for one especially good friend, one whose parents also tell them about You and what You did for us.

And Abba, help us to let go where we need to, to praise and encourage meaningfully, to be the parents that You meant for us to be for B. Thank you for the privilege of raising this little man. Help us to always turn to You for wisdom and discernment as we embark on this new adventure. This letting go business is HARD, Jesus. I know that this is just one small first step in preparation of his leaving the nest when he's older. Help me to be the mom You want me to be for B.
May this preschool experience be one that lays a foundation for B to become a lover of school, of learning, and help us to always foster that love.

I pray that you would please help B to remember the practical things, too. You know. To eat all his lunch. Because You know how I had to repack it tonight, because he told me during our cuddle time that he had changed his mind about what he wanted. Help him to remember how we practiced eating his "main meal" first, before any fruits, cheese, yogurt or other "extras," because his preschool has rules about that sort of thing.
Please help him to remember to drink enough water, to remember to put down the potty seat, to wash his hands afterward, to stay in line ... to remember that dancing does not necessitate wild, caveman-like thrashing.

And Jesus?

Help me not to cry until I exit those doors tomorrow. 

24 August 2014

Things are revving up...

Little Lady had her six-month well baby visit on Friday. Due to somebody's lack of attention to detail, she had gotten dropped off of our insurance plan over two months ago, so we missed her four-month appointment. I am so thankful that we all remained healthy in that period of time. In fact, I think the only sickness we had was a minor cold a couple weeks ago that B picked up at church.

Our pediatrician has a new nurse on staff, and he's a great guy. He's gregarious and knows how to talk to kids well. Plus, he's a daddy to a young baby, too. We saw him for the first time when we went in for B's shots a couple weeks ago. Obviously, the visit was still fresh in B's mind, because when he caught a glimpse of him on the other side of the glass door, he said to me, "That's the man that gave me my shots. I didn't like that."

I'm really glad he said "that" and not "him."

Anyway, when B realized that the nurses were going to give his baby sister shots, he grew alarmed, and shouted, "Stop! No! Stop that! Don't do that!" at the nurses.

(She cried for maybe fifteen seconds before calming down and nursing.)
Not that THAT stopped big brother from giving her lots of kisses to "help her feel better."
Thankfully, we had a play date lined up with friends right afterward. Both kids took terrific naps afterward, so after dinner, we went out to our neighborhood park so B could ride his four-wheeler. He hasn't had a chance to ride it hardly at all this summer, because the battery/charger N bought for it off Amazon was utterly useless. Customer service was useless, too, as they didn't respond to N's messages regarding a replacement. So, eventually, he just went out and bought a separate, fancier charger, and lo and behold! A fully charged battery that actually holds its charge!

He wanted me to "chase" him, but he was so busy laughing and looking back to check how close I was that he wasn't going very fast. And of course, then it all got silly when he laughed so hard he fell off the four-wheeler.
That night was Little Lady's first night sleeping through the night! And by through the night, I mean 10+ hours (I don't count anything less as through the night for an infant). And then, after a quick 5:30 feeding, she went back to sleep for a couple hours until N got her up (he didn't know she had woken up and nursed earlier so he got worried). She did an equally good job last night. We are seeing the light at end of the tunnel!

(On a separate note, every time I say or hear that phrase now, I think of Third Day.)

On Saturday morning, the boys and girls went separate ways as N took B to a kids' workshop at Lowes and took the four-wheeler out for another spin while A and I went to an essential oils class with my friend, Rachel. That afternoon, we went to a birthday party for a little buddy. I stayed up late doing chores, because I actually wanted to take a full Sabbath day today after such a busy Saturday.
Such a goofy boy!
We had a pretty relaxing Sunday overall. Today was A's first time in the church nursery, and she did a great job. When we picked her up, they said that she was a "smiley baby and as happy as can be." Once home, N and B visited with Mr. David and then got to work on a project while I put A down for a much-needed nap (girlfriend was apparently too busy checking things out in the nursery to take her regular morning nap). 
Cardboard boxes are great building materials!
Hard at work with Daddy
Such a happy girl!
During afternoon naps, I mowed all our grass. N's shoulder has been giving him a heap of trouble and then some lately. He has been working with our chiropractor on it for a couple weeks, but the pain is getting worse, so he's going to start PT on it. In the meantime, our house was starting to look like Those People lived here. And since we seem to have new neighbors moving in across the street, I thought it would be courteous to mow our grass. You know, so when we show up at their front door with cookies later this week, they won't be all, "Oh. You're the ones."

B is starting AWANA this year. N will be taking him, as well as serving as a leader (not with B's class, though), and he had a training/info meeting this afternoon. B had had a rough latter portion of the morning and woke up cranky. I knew I needed a good source of distraction while N was at his meeting, so I took the kids to the pet store. It was the perfect time killer. It was Cat Adoption Day, so B got to walk around petting some of the kitties. He has told me in the past that he prefers cats to dogs (ugh). When we walked by the rodent cages, an employee was feeding the guinea pigs. B was staring so intently at him, watching his every move, and the man was kind enough to take out a guinea pig for my little boy to pet. 

The weeks seem to fly by these days. This morning, as we headed out the door to church, I said to N, "I can't believe it's already Sunday again. I feel like it was JUST Sunday."

And tonight, I'm sitting here making list after list of first-day-of-school-related things I want to do. I'm trying to strike a balance between making this a fun and memorable start to B's school year while intentionally keeping space open and available for him to express any concerns he may have. I don't want to just bludgeon through the next couple days, insisting that this is all "Fun! Fun! Fun!" because I know that transitions are tough. 

I'm saying extra prayers for all our hearts these days! Our niƱos are growing up way too fast!

21 August 2014

"Meet the Teachers"

This afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit B's new preschool and meet his teachers for the year. We've been mentioning it off and on since he was accepted last spring but not over-doing it. In the past couple weeks though, we've been talking it up and saying how exciting it will be to meet his teachers. Up until just before his nap today, he still wasn't convinced.

I resisted every urge to dress him up like a little man, and instead, I let him wear his favorite shirt. After all, the whole premise of this particular preschool program is learning through play. No sense in getting him all gussied up, right?

In full disclosure, however, I may have spent an abnormal amount of time in MY closet, trying to figure out what to wear.

Who AM I?!

We had a few minutes to spare before they opened the doors, so B tried out the swings at his new school.
Once we walked into his classroom and met his teachers, Ms. A showed us where his coat hook was located.
We also found papers to bring home in his cubby.
He was thoroughly fascinated by the smart board (and, of course, he found the classroom vacuum).
He tried out the chairs in the reading corner.
He discovered the joys of a wall-mounted pencil sharpener, and as soon as he found out what it was, he tested it out.
B is feeling better about the prospect of preschool!
A blurry attempt at a family photo!
The visit to school, seeing B's classroom, and meeting his teachers made all of us feel better about this Big Change in our lives. Both of his teachers have been loving on little ones for a long time (Ms. P has been there for over 20 years!), and that has to mean something, right? It also helps to know that our friends' kids who have gone through this program have loved it.

Tonight, when I went into B's room to kiss him goodnight, he made his nightly request for me to cuddle him "for a little bit." As I snuggled in next to him, he rolled over onto his back, put his hands behind his head like a little man, and inquired conversationally, "So, Mommy. How was your day?"

I laughed and replied, "It was pretty good, buddy. I'm really glad you enjoyed visiting your school."

We chatted for a little bit, and then I gave him "enough kisses to last through the night."

When we found out I was pregnant with B, we started writing him letters in a journal. We wrote in it nearly weekly while I was pregnant, and then at least monthly during the first year of his life. Once we moved here, it became increasingly sporadic. I haven't written in it once since A was born (although I've written many a letter in my head!).

I thought tonight would be a perfect night to write a letter. A very long letter.

Suffice it to say, there are not enough tissues in our house.

20 August 2014

My baby boy is 3.5 today...

B is at an age where he wants nothing to do with being a baby. When I call him my sweet baby boy, he insists, "I'm not a baby! A is a baby. I'm a big boy!"

Some days ARE hard with a three-year-old (to paraphrase my dear friend Ra, "I don't love 3, but I love my boy."). I'm catching glimpses of the end of the tunnel, though. He has been such a big boy and amazing helper this week, putting away his toys, clearing his plate/utensils at meals, washing hands/putting down the lid to the potty -- all without being told. He has been incredibly helpful with getting things for me when I'm nursing his sister; helping me with the laundry, cleaning and baking; and overall, just showing signs of the sweet, gentle spirit that has been in remission for the good part of this past year.

This morning, he was giving his baby sister the royal treatment. I mean, no one else gets serenaded while eating their breakfast around here.
I love how they adore each other.

I eavesdropped as his little plastic monkey "moved in upstairs" into the "tree house" over where Mr. Crocodile lived and began bossing his new neighbor around, to the tune of, "Okay, it's time to go. Shirt, pants, and clean underwear. Let's go!" (You would think we say those things to him, but I don't think I have ever had to tell him to put on clean underwear before.) Yesterday, he asked me for help finding a toy, but I was busy getting lunch together for us. He replied, "It's okay, I'll just call Cue-do and Pie-do for help." He got his little phone and held a brief conversation on it. I asked who Cue-do and Pie-do were, and he responded, "They are my friends. I meeted them in North America."

(That would be a good thing, because he hasn't ever been on any other continents.)

His imagination is taking off and I love it.

I've been extra-emotional this week, thinking about how I won't have him "all to myself" all the time anymore. But I know preschool will be a great thing for both of us and for A, as well. I can't wait to see all the lessons he will learn, the accomplishments he will achieve, the friendships he will make, and so much more in this coming year.

I feel like this week has been a gift of grace for me from the Lord, a reminder that this mothering job is a sweet one, whether that is molding and training at home or gradually releasing our babies out of the nest.

My first little fledgling is going to be trying out his wings next week.

So I'm baking lots of muffins (for his lunch box). They might have a tinge of salt, though, because it's hard to say goodbye to seasons of life.

16 August 2014

Growing Pains

This morning, our high school marching band kicked off the season with their annual march around the city. We live close to the high school, so they march by our street pretty early on. Each year, a neighbor has rung our doorbell to let us know when the band is about to come by. It is one of our favorite late summer traditions here.
It was yet another reminder that Little B will be starting preschool in less than ten days, and oh, the tears (on my part)!

We just had his pictures taken this morning, and he looked like such a big kid, in his collared shirt and chucks. I had just trimmed his hair last night, and this morning, he requested for it to be gelled, "just like Daddy's."

This afternoon, I watched him running around at a free gymnastics clinic, being a "super hero in training," and I kept catching glimpses of my little boy being a Big Kid. I mean, when did he learn to stand still in a line behind a teacher? Or follow a string of instructions?

This entire week, he has been showing signs of possessing a degree of independence, self-confidence and courage that I didn't know he had.
He happily plays by himself now, with lots of pretend conversations.
He bravely went up those long stairs and down the slide repeatedly, without me, waiting for his little buddy R to catch up with him, cheering him on. It reminded me of his toddlerhood compassion and encouragement and made me realize that those traits are still there, buried in preschool energy and emotion.
And at some point this summer, the hesitation of leaping into the water from last summer disappeared, and the fearlessness of early toddlerhood returned.
One of my most precious moments from this past week was right after his shots. He sat in my lap, arms around my neck, head on my shoulder, whimpering, "I just really didn't like that, Mommy." He needed cuddles, and just for a few minutes, he was my baby again. But then he hopped down, happily waved at the nurses on the way out, politely asked the receptionist for a lollipop, and asked after his sister (who was with a friend during the appointment).
He asked these firefighters, who had stopped by the splash pad to visit with the kids, if he could take a photo with them.
And later that afternoon, when he got rewarded some screen time, he asked his baby sister if she wanted to watch with him. I don't normally let her have any screen time, but it was so sweet of him that I let her lie next to him for a little while.
And now, as I'm filling in the calendar with dates for school-related events and reading through the parent handbook again, I'm finding myself being That Mom, tearing up and looking at baby pictures and just being overly emotional in general.

I mean, really, how has it been over three years since he was this little?

It is going to be some kind of crazy difficult to not cry when I drop him off that first day.

Mama's having some growing pains.

I'm glad to know I'm not alone.