Thursday, August 18, 2011

Charlie Jack

This is the girls' and my affectionate name for our Jack. Chad's not a fan of the moniker and prefers, instead, "Champer." But tell me that this face isn't just a perfect "Charlie Jack":

This summer, he probably could've answered to anything, mostly, "Where's Jack?" or "Has anyone seen Jack?" But now that school is back in for the girls, I'm getting some much-anticipated Jack-time. Regardless of the name, he is perfect. To us.

Here are some of the things that you need to know about Jack. Jack loves:
1. Trash. Putting trash in trash cans entertains this boy all day, everyday.

2. Balls. Any size, any shape, but most preferably basketballs. He and Chad shoot ball each morning after breakfast.
3. Sticks. Picking them up and making piles of them.
4. Cars, trucks, and trains. Currently, there is a construction crew on our street with a giant excavator and dump train. Combine that with the fact that today is garbage day and this boy is in heaven.
5. Dogs. He thinks that they all like him as much as he loves them. Thankfully, there are a lot of fences in our neighborhood.
6. His family. He has a different way of addressing and loving on each of us. He wakes up asking for "Dada", and gives him lots of pats and head-butts. He adores Aly ("Aggie"); he calls for her often and copies everything she does. He is amused by Caroline ("Ca") and is as hot-and-cold with her as she is with him. And he moans "Mamama"and buries his head into my legs every time he's shy, tired, or hungry.
7. His paci and blue "Jack blanket". He carries it everywhere wrapped around his body, like a towel.

8. Big kids, especially big boys. He watches them and wants to play just like them.
9. Peanut butter. It's the only source of protein this little vegetarian gets.
10. Routine and order. With parents like us, I guess he has no choice.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Me, through child-colored glasses

I am a runner. I love to run. Now, I have taken a bit of a break from it (and by "bit", I mean about 4 years.) I stopped when I was 7 months pregnant with Caroline, and because of inconsistent schedules, another pregnancy with Jack, and an unwillingness to wake up at 5am, I've come to realize that now is just not the season in life for my running. But it is definitely a part of my identity. I started it when I was about 10 and just love love love it. I love running with no music, no people around me; I love to think, hear my own breathing, hear my own footsteps, and just tune out. I am a runner.

Two days ago, I overheard a conversation Aly was having with a friend whose mother runs. Aly said, "My mom doesn't ever run. She doesn't like running." I was struck by the fact that my daughter, who is with me the majority of everyday of her life, could be so mistaken about who I am! Doesn't she remember that I ran with her until the day she was born? That I ran with her for the first year and a half of her life? Of course not. She knows what she remembers experiencing, and my running is not a part of it. So it made me wonder how my kids do see me? And not just the interests that make up my identity... what about the actions that make up my character? I know that they see girls coming over to our house for Bible studies, but do they ever see me sit down during the day and actually open up my Bible? I know that they hear me tell people that I will pray for them, but how often do they see me stop what I'm doing and actually pray? I am confident that if they were to make a short list of who their mom is, the daily jobs of cook, house-cleaner, clothes-washer, diaper-changer would all be named. But what a great reminder that these kids are watching and making judgements on what they experience. I hope that I can remember to drop that broom from time to time so that they can see what is really important.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Markers, Crayons, and Vital Records

I think that it really hit Chad and me this week that our 5 years with Aly have flown by. You see, after moving, we carefully stored all of our 'important documents' somewhere...we just couldn't remember where. When we finally found the stash, we realized in horror that we do not have a birth certificate for Aly. And you need a birth certificate to start Kindergarten. How could we not have it? What kind of parents are we that we don't have a birth certificate for our child? And then I remembered a foggy conversation with the nurse in the Williamsburg hospital 5 and a half years ago when she said, "Oh, you won't need a birth certificate anytime soon. You'll just have to get one before she starts school." I remember laughing as I looked down at my bundle of newborn heaven thinking, "School? Kindergarten is forever away."

And today, it is here. Oddly enough (except for the whole birth certificate debaucle), the day came as it should. Clothes were ironed and ready, pictures taken, everyone loaded up, and we were on our way. She is so ready for this and amazingly, so are we! Leaving her in the cafeteria, sitting next to her forever best friend, Lizzy, Chad and I got a little teared up. But how blessed we are that she is in the perfect place at the perfect time for her.

And now, onto applying for Caroline's birth certificate...

First Day of Kindergarten, 2011

"We're Going To Be Friends"
by Jack Johnson
Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are going to be friends
Yes I can tell that we are going to be friends
Walk with me Suzy Lee
Through the park and by the tree
We can rest upon the ground
And look at all the bugs we've found
Safely walk to school without a sound
We safely walk to school without a sound
Well here we are no one else
We walk to school all by ourselves
There's dirt on our uniforms
From chasing all the ants and worms
We clean up and now it's time to learn
We clean up and now it's time to learn
Numbers letters learn to spell
Nouns and books and show and tell
Play time we will throw the ball
Then back to class through the hall
The teacher marks our height against the wall
The teacher marks our height against the wall
And we don't notice any time pass
Because we don't notice anything
And we sit side by side in every class
The teacher thinks that I sound funny
But she likes it when you sing
Tonight I'll dream in my bed
While silly thoughts run through my head
Of the bugs and alphabet
And when I wake tomorrow I'll bet
That you and I will walk together again
Because I can tell that we are going to be friends
I can tell that we are going to be friends

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Secret's Out

Every birthday and half-birthday, we mark down on a growth chart how much each of the kids has grown over that prior 6-month period. Looking at those lines as they creep their way up the chart are a visible sign that these kids are growing. But nothing marks the passing of childhood-time (to me) as does the first day of school each year. It is this momentous day that lets me see before my eyes that these children are growing.

Caroline started school today. And this morning, this child who has become another part of me over our 3 months of summer together--always with me-- is independent enough to eagerly jump from my car into the arms of her new teacher. We talked about the fact that her's is the oldest class in the school now, and that all of those little 2-year-olds would be looking up to her. That's funny, though, because it's hard for me not to imagine her as one of those 2-year-olds, picturing her like this:

2009- first day of preschool

So as my Baby Girl hopped out of the car, so ready to be that Big Girl, I couldn't help but cry a little as I drove off. From the backseat, Aly (who doesn't start until tomorrow) cautiously asked, "Mama, why are you doing that?" I laughed when I realized that I had an audience and said, "Well, the secret's out! I do this every year when y'all start school, but you aren't usually in the car to see it! Don't worry, though; it's a happy cry. I'm excited for y'all."

And that's true, I am of course excited. But it's also true that each first-day-of-school hurts my heart just a little bit.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carolina!

Oh, this little girl. I marvel at her and am tickled by her each and every minute. She is never at a loss for questions, hugs, or imaginary friends. I made a list of things that we love about Caroline about 2 years ago, so I thought that a birthday list was well-overdue.
Just a few things we love about our Sweet Caroline:

1. She always, ALWAYS wakes up happy.
2. She often tells us, un-prompted, how much she loves us.
3. She tries to love on/ nurture Jack but almost destroys him in every attempt.
4. She has multiple imaginary friends, but "Fritz" has been around for a long time and is a really good friend, according to her.
5. She hugs with her entire body. Imagine a koala bear.
6. Her smile- lips, cheeks, and eyes- is the most darling, contagious thing I've ever seen.
7. She loves to make people laugh, and is not afraid to laugh at herself.
8. She still falls asleep during most afternoon car rides lasting more than 10 minutes.
9. She has bad dreams often- that's bad. But she cuddles up next to us in bed- that's sweet.
10. She loves to sleep with her bed covered with dolls and animals.
11. She would rather eat at home than a restaurant any day. We pack food for her anytime we eat out.
12. She is quick to get upset, and quick to get over it.
13. She is just as happy playing by herself as she is playing with others.
14. She loves playing "eye-to-eye, cheek-to-cheek, nose-to-nose" with Chad.
15. She gets excited over the smallest, most trivial things. Really excited.
16. She has an incredible memory.
17. She L-O-V-E LOVES Justin Beiber. He is yet another imaginary friend.
18. She loves to dance and wears a leotard and tutu on a weekly basis.
19. She is not easily-influenced by others, even Aly.
20. She sleeps exactly as she did as a baby: on her back with her hands behinds her head.

We could go on and on. She is precious and we are blessed everyday that she has made these past 4 years so fun. Here are a few pictures of the big day on Sunday:

Proud of her new Big Girl Bike

Birthday Breakfast at Panera

Waiting for friends to arrive

Repunzel cake

Decorating Headbands and Hair-clips

A mixed guest list of Santas, ballerinas, and Mulan

Loving the attention!

Everyone admiring the gifts

Monday, August 8, 2011

A slice of Heaven...

In our typical August tradition, we cram lots of milestones into one week, all of which fall on the heels of our long, 2-week-vacation to New York. Our stay with my parents was wonderful, relaxing, memorable... and as an attempt to keep this blog updated during this week full of birthdays, meet-the-teachers, first days of school, KINDERGARTEN...I'm going to piggy-back off of my extremely talented sister-in-law and allow her to sum up our trip (much more poetically than I would myself!). Please read about our time here and here. Thanks, Cort!

More milestones to come...