Walker’s Gone to Kindergarten.

I know a person that is strong.  He is brave, kind and a hard-worker.  He is compassionate and he sees beauty all around him.  This person was created by our loving father in heaven and pieced together so thoughtfully.  God gave this person a heart that is both fierce and soft.  A mind that is quick and deep.  This person that I know can feel what other people are feeling, and he does all he can to support others.  I am so blessed, because this person is my son.  Walker, this person is you.

How is it that you are 5-years-old and can understand a person’s heart?  How is it that you are 5 years old, but you are wise enough to pull me aside to take a moment to admire the beautiful, blue sky?  How is it that you have the emotional/spiritual wisdom to support me, your dad and your siblings?  How is it that you are so strong and kind, yet a child?

You are all of the amazing things I just listed.  You are all of those things and more.  You have so many qualities that I can’t even put into words.  Also, though, you are shy.  Shy is not a bad thing, and it’s not something to be ashamed of.  It’s part of how God made you, and it’s not a mistake.  The one thing about being shy, though, is that it can make school difficult.

Today you went to Kindergarten.  You were excited.  The days leading up to it, and even this morning, you were feeling confident.  I smiled at you and for you, because I wanted to encourage you to stay excited.  In the back of my mind, though, I had a feeling that when you arrived to Kindergarten… things would be different.

Walker, you held tight to me at school today.  You wouldn’t let go, and I knew that if I were to force you to let go, it would have made things much, much worse.  Your teachers are kind and intuitive, though, and they went to get your brother, Weston, to be with you.  For your own good and growth, I had to leave.  But for you, it was important to know that you were not going to be abandoned.  So your brother left his class to be with you.  That’s what you guys do for each other.  I know that there is no doubt that you would be there for Weston, too, if the roles were reversed.

My heart was breaking as I left you in your classroom, with your big brother holding your shoulders.  I wanted to cry, but I didn’t.  I didn’t cry because you’re always strong for me, and I needed to be strong for you.

Walker, I promise that I left you in a safe place.  I left you with people who care about you.  Not just the fact that you’re a number in a classroom, but they care about who you are.  I have every confidence that the people I left you with will see past the wall of “shy” and see the person that I know.

I will be praying for you every day while you are at school.  I will be praying that God will hold you in his strength.  That you will remember that you were created for a purpose, just the way you are.  I will pray that you will know that there is always, always, always, grace to grow.  And I will wrap you in my arms when you get home.  As I’m wrapping you in my arms, I know that you will wrap me in your arms, and you will generously give me as much of your strength as you can.  Because that’s what you do.  That is the person I know.

Yesterday, your little sister took about 200 crayons and scattered them throughout the house.  she ripped up little pieces of paper and let them rain down everywhere.  It was such a mess, and in all her 3-year-old stubbornness, she refused to clean it up.  Because I love her and want what’s best for her, we engaged in a nearly 2-hour clean-up battle.  She needed to learn that she was responsible for her actions.  You saw how my anger grew with her stubbornness.  You saw how I was exhausted, and you saw how your sister needed some grace.  You encouraged her to keep cleaning up the crayons, and then  you got out the broom and started sweeping up the bits of paper.  You respected my wishes for her to clean up the crayons on her own, yet you still showed kindness and grace to both her and I by rolling up your sleeves and doing what you could.

That is the person I know.

So it’s OK to be shy and it’s OK to be afraid.  Just don’t ever forget that when you are afraid, you have the opportunity to be brave.  And please don’t forget that you’re more than shy.  You are strong, you are wise, you are kind, you are compassionate, you are immensely loved, and you are full of grit and grace.

I love you, buddy.  Welcome to Kindergarten.  IMG_3645

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:1b-2

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Best Dressed Cowboy in Town.

For all those moms who need a little more sleep and a lot more grace.

You know when you think you’re going to a costume party, and then you get there to discover you’re the only one dressed-up?  Yea.  I did that to my 4 year old today.

Last week, all the parent’s of pre-schoolers had to write down what they were bringing to the fall party.  I picked napkins, which may or may not have been one of the easiest options on the list.  Proud doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about remembering those napkins the morning of the pre-school fall party.  Sure, I borrowed them from my mom the night before because I forgot to buy some earlier in the week… but I remembered, and that’s really all that counts.  When you celebrate the small successes, your soul is satisfied.

I did a load of laundry the night before the party so that his most “cowboy-ish” jeans would be clean and ready for the party.  I laid out his costume.  He was so excited… which is great, because getting him to preschool is usually a battle.  After he finished his breakfast, we wiggled him into his costume.  He was one proud looking cowboy.  Then we loaded into the car and drove to school.  What could go wrong on a day when everything was going so right?

For once, Walker strode into the school with determination and a boat-load of swagger.  He was feeling supremely confident in his costume.  If it wasn’t for the stuffed green frog (obviously every good cowboy needs a stuffed frog) he was holding, I’m sure he would have tipped his hat and drawled, “howdy ma’am” to all the little girls in the school hallway.

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We made it to the preschool end of school and I noticed none of the other kids were wearing a costume.  There was only a few other kids there, though, so I figured these ones must just have forgotten.  I was sure that soon we would see a parade of costumed kids.

Nope. Nope, nope nope.  Not one single kid (aside from Walker) was wearing a costume.  I went from thinking I was the only mom who remembered (that should have been the first clue alluding to my error- I’m the mom who forgets), to having the crushing realization that I made a mistake.  I asked the teachers if it was a dress-up party.  They said, “No, but that’s fine.  He looks great!”  Bless their hearts, they were kind and did their best to treat me like I wasn’t a complete air-head.

I hung around at the back wall of the classroom for a few minutes trying to gauge Walker’s reaction to the other kids not being in costume.  Thank the Lord, he seemed totally cool with it.  I don’t think he even noticed.  I took a moment to imagine what would happen if I took off his costume and told him it was because he was the only kid wearing one.  A vivid scene of a humiliated child crossed my mind, and I chose to just let it go.  Today he would be a cowboy.

As I turned to walk down the hallway and out of school, it felt a lot like a walk of shame.  My heart hurt for my little man.  I was praying that if he realized he was the only kid in costume that he wouldn’t care.  I’m choosing to believe that at age 4, any day you get to wear a costume is a good day.  Regardless of the circumstance.

I was just praying that his chaps wouldn’t make it impossible to use the washroom.

I often like to look for profound personal lessons in every day happenings.  An argument could be made for a life lesson about how we should just be comfortable in our own skin and all that…  but for this circumstance, the main thing I learned from this is not at all profound.  It’s simply this:  I don’t care how busy you are, read all school newsletters carefully!!

 

 

My Brain.

The end was in sight.  Dinner was done.  Dishes were nearly finished.  Kids were about to get their pajamas on.  And I was less than an hour away from slipping into a near-coma while cuddled up on the couch watching the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  I was almost giddy with anticipation.

There was one small task left to do.  Switch one more load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. I had done many loads of laundry today that I had no intention of folding this evening.  So I walked into the laundry room with my invisible blinders on so that I would not see the mountains of laundry baskets filled with clean clothes begging to be folded.  I walked straight to the washer and opened the door.  And then I almost puked.

You see, this last load of laundry that I had to switch was the cloth diapers.  And what I saw upon opening the washer door was not a clean load of diapers.  Don’t be alarmed and don’t stop reading.  But I have provided a picture of what I found.  Please understand.  Not everything is as it seems.

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Believe me when I say that I totally understand that you feel like throwing up right now.  Because that’s exactly how I felt.  The first thought that went through my head was “My night is ruined.”  The second thought that went through my head was “Is that poop?  Is it dog food?  Did Emilene eat dog food and then poop it out??”  I was scared.  I was tired.  But there was no one else that was going to clean it up, so I braced myself and leaned a little closer… I was pleasantly surprised.  This strange substance smelled like cinnamon.  It may not look delicious, but I kind of wanted to eat it.  I was simultaneously disturbed and amused by that fact.  It was then that I noticed the plastic grocery bag in the washer.  That was when I knew I was the one responsible for what had happened.

We were at my mom’s house earlier, and I didn’t bring a wet bag. Or a diaper bag. Or anything of the sort.  Because I’m so done with all of those things, despite the fact that I do still require their services. Anyway, because of that fact, my mom put the dirty diapers in a plastic bag for me to bring home.  She also gave me a second bag with zucchini bread in it.  You’re probably starting to see where this is going.

When I got home, I decided to throw the diapers in the wash. Yay me!  An hour and a half later I went to switch the diapers to the dryer.  The rest is history.

I have deciphered that what I must have done was shake out the bag of zucchini bread into the washer.  Because I’m ridiculous.  And then I threw the plastic bag of diapers (tied tightly) into the washer.  I didn’t bother shaking that one out.  Nope.  Apparently I thought that plastic bag needed a good washing and I wanted the diapers inside of it to stay disgusting.  Again, because I’m ridiculous.

Is there anyone else out there with a brain like mine?  My brain used to be so quick.  Jumping from one thing to the next.  Talking appropriately.  Doing things that made sense.  Not any more.

For example, on Monday, I didn’t check the school calendar before dropping Weston off at kindergarten.  That would make too much sense.  Because I’m so smart, I checked it when I got home and discovered it was  show and tell day!  The kids each had to bring something that started with the letter ‘A.’

In a panic, I called the school secretary, asking her if all the kindergarten kids had to bring something, or if (blessedly) only certain kids were assigned.  I didn’t want Weston to be the only kid there with nothing for show and tell.  Break my heart.  She was very sweet and assured me she’d find out and call right back.

I hung up and flipped the calendar over and realized that the teachers had put handy-dandy instructions on there, specifically  for show and tell.  EVERY kindergartner brings something.  So, 45 seconds after the first call, I called the secretary back and told her I found the answer on the back of the calendar, of all the tricky places.  She was sweet about it, but let’s face it- she’s remembering how I have blonde hair and thinking to herself, “yea, that makes sense.”

I then had to think of something that started with the letter ‘A’ that I could bring to the school.  I picked a toy dinosaur because Weston loves dinosaurs.  Species: Apatosaurus.  And then I drove to school.  The whole way there all my brain would think  and repeat over and over and over again was “Ay. Ah. Apatosaurus. Ay. Ah. Apatosaurus. Ay. Ah. Apatosaurus.”  What. The. Heck.  It had rhythm and it just wouldn’t stop.  My brain did the same thing all the way home again until I totally cracked up laughing.  Laughing at my own brain.

I probably shouldn’t be admitting this.  Maybe it’s actually not funny… maybe it’s concerning and I’m just too close to the situation.  Or maybe there’s more mom’s out there just like me?

What’s really terrifying for me is the following:

  • Me and my brain have a driver’s licence.  The government actually lets me drive around.
  • I have a job where my brain needs to be on the ball. It’s the type of job where there’s so many balls in the air you get dizzy.   Perhaps this is why I drop a few balls when I get home.
  • Most importantly… I’m responsible for 3 children age 4 and under.  They are real people that Kyle and I are trying to raise to be as kind, strong and normal as possible.  God willing they will always have a great sense of humor and the ability to just roll with it.

I have learned that there is so much more fun in the crazy than in the perfection.  Sure, sometimes all I want is an 85% dark chocolate bar with sea salt sprinkled on top, a warm blankie and Grey’s Anatomy on a loop.  But I love finding a mason jar housing a family of lady bugs in my kitchen drawers.  I kind of like listening to my kids fight (sometimes) because it’s always over weird stuff that is only important to them.  It reminds me of the beauty in simplicity.  I like trying hard and screwing up (usually).  There’s more life in the crazy than there is in the perfection.  And that is so fun.

Leave a comment and fill me in on the stories that make you laugh at your own brain.  Tell me I’m not the only one!!

 

 

Weston’s Going to Kindergarten.

Four sleeps.  That’s all there is until you are officially a kindergarten-er.  How did this even happen?  I’m fairly certain I was cradling your tiny little newborn body in my arms, like, yesterday.  But it’s true.  Four sleeps and you’ll be in Kindergarten.  Time is apparently passing by.  Perhaps that is the blur I see when I open my eyes and look.  Time- just flying by.  So bear with me while I completely smother you over the next couple days.  And be warned that I will probably try to cradle you and all your long limbs in my arms at least once.  Or twice.  Because four sleeps.  That’s it.

I’m going to be honest- this whole kindergarten thing didn’t really sink in until yesterday when I asked you how many pieces of watermelon you wanted.  You replied, “twenteen.”  I then realized I completely dropped the ball on kindergarten prep.  Is that even a thing, you ask? Well, yes. Yes it is. I ran to good old google and it gave me a whole list of things you should know and be doing.  Let’s just say that you are working away at that list and  we’ll leave it at that.  And just leave google alone.

A lot of the things on that list you just don’t care about.  Like your address.  You don’t care and I don’t think you’ll learn it any time soon.  All you want to know is that the turkeys are still there, there’s snacks in the cupboard and hop hop is waiting for you on your bed.

And your birthday.  Another thing the list says you should know.  You don’t care about that.  I swear I’ve tried to teach you your birth date.  But all you care about is that your birthday will one day arrive, and that there may be gifts and a party.  You don’t care to know, or recite the day.  When I asked you what you’ll say if the teacher asks your birthday, your reply was, “Umm.. Happy Birthday?”  Bless your heart.  Those teachers will be earning their pay this year.

About a month ago, I was talking with some friends.  We were talking kindergarten send-offs and the complete and utter devastation, joy and tears that come along with it.  My perspective at the time was that I would be totally fine sending you off.  They all looked at me like I was crazy and lying to myself.  At the time, I believe I was being truthful with myself.  However, now I see that I am a big, ginormous liar.  I have all these thoughts now.  Thoughts such as the following:

– You will be going into a big building with lots of people every day.

-You will be walking down wide hallways without me.

-Buttoning up your pants.

-Changing your shoes.

-Going into a bathroom stall and remembering to flush.

-Opening your adorable dinosaur lunch kit (like its no big deal) and just eating with your friends.

All this.  Without me.  Like a real, growing – up person!  People say kids grow up fast, but I think there’s a small part in every mom that’s like, “Ya, right  This kid is my baby forever.  I don’t care what you all say.”  But people speak the truth.  And I may or may not be so fine anymore about sending you off to kindergarten.  I probably won’t cry.. but hey.  I could surprise myself yet.

Before I send you off into this big wide world each morning (trust me- I will welcome you home with so much love every afternoon), there are a few things I want you to know about you.  So here it is.

You are so incredibly awesome.  You are a good person already.  Ever since you were a baby, your light blue eyes seemed to look straight into the soul of a person.  You love to snuggle.  You love to say really kind things that completely shoot straight to the heart.  For example, the other day we taught you kids the beauty of “quiet contests.”  I won (obviously), and your actual words to me were, “I’m glad you won.  Because I love you.”  See?  So kind.  And then I felt slightly bad for always wanting to play “quiet contest.”

You are so completely genuine all the time.  You really don’t see the use in pretending to be someone you’re not, and you definitely love to meet new people and just talk.  About life. Love.  The pursuit of happiness.  OK… You actually mainly like to talk about dinosaurs and turkeys.  But to you- That’s all the same thing.

Weston, you have been through a lot.  You have been through the wringer more than once.  In fact… a lot of your life has been rinse cycle, wringer, repeat.  Everything you’ve been through has made you stronger.  Yea, it has caused you some fear.  But you’re learning that when you’re afraid, it means that God is about to help you do something really brave.  The character that you’re growing is amazing.  If dropping you off at kindergarten doesn’t make me cry, than thinking about your strength and resilience definitely will.

I’m sure that when you go to kindergarten, having a sense of humor is an important thing.  I’m sure there’s going to be all sorts of things that you just have to roll with.  I am not worried about this at all.  You have an awesome sense of humor.  While you’re deep, introspective and ask lots of questions, you still manage to take life with such levity and joy.  You get sarcasm (and can dish it out), and I have to say that one of my favorite parts of being your mom is just joking around with you.  You are always up for a good time.  And once your funny bone is tickled… You’re a puddle of jello and giggles.  I have no doubt that your happiness will light up your classroom.

I wish I could effectively explain to your four year old self that kindergarten (and life) is not always going to be sunshine and roses.  There are going to be hard days.  Exhausting days.  Maybe days where people are not so nice.  Know that you’re loved anyway, and that each day is… just a day.  My prayer is that through the good times and bad times, you will always be kind.  You will always be strong.  When someone is hurting or left out.. go to them.  When someone is scared or uncomfortable… help them.  Please know that there is no greater gift than helping someone in need.  No matter what kind of bad stuff creeps up in a day, if you’re strong and kind, everything is OK.  Show love.  Give love.  Be love.

Don’t change.  Please don’t change.  I’m trying not to beg.  I know that as you grow, parts of who you are will evolve.  But know the qualities that God put there and nurture them.  And as important as strength, kindness, faith and humility are… please also don’t lose your musical soul.  You are my flopsy little jukebox.  Pretty much the only time you’re not singing is when you’re talking and sleeping.  Although, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard you hum in your sleep, and you definitely turn most of your sentences into a tune.  This is so great.  This makes people so happy.  And it just shows how happy you are.  Don’t change.  Please don’t change.  OK… maybe I’m begging now. Ugh.  This is hard.

Always know how much I love you.  Always know how much daddy loves you.  I’m going to read this letter to you the night before you go to kindergarten, and you probably won’t get everything that I’m saying.  Just know that I will repeat the following all the time: I love you.  Daddy loves you.  God loves you.  Who you are is beautiful.  Be kind.  Don’t change.  Also, I hope you’ll grow to know the importance of God’s word.  The directions for life.  The life verse we picked for your dedication is Isiah 40:31:

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

This is truth.  Trust me buddy, this is truth.  I need to stop writing now.  My eyes are burning and my chest is getting tight.  I’m one of three things… 1) Exhausted  2)emotional and on the brink of a panic attack or 3) having a heart attack.  I’m pretty sure it’s the emotional/panic attack option. OK.  I’ll be fine.  Go.  Enjoy kindergarten.  Remember what’s important.  Remember what’s true.IMG_4995

 

 

Walker.

Walker.  I love you.  Right now you are 2.  You’ll be 3 in just over a month.  And you are amazing.

I’m writing this letter (my very first letter to you) today because last night I was SO scared.  I didn’t care for it.  Last night we found a protrusion in the back of your throat.  It was terrifying.  We rushed you off to the ER and were terrified that we were going to get the scariest news of our life.  Long story short… You’re fine.  You have a weird epiglottis.  I should have expected nothing less unique from you.  Because you are you.  And you are unique.  And you are awesome.  And I was scared.  Followed by relief.  So today I write you a letter.

Situations like that can really push a mom to her knees.  And in between prayers, all I could think about was how you are amazing.  Really, really amazing.  I know I tell you I love you every day, and kiss you 1000 times, but I want to write these words down.  When you’re older and the world has done its best to change you, I want you to know who you were when you started out.  The person God created you to be.  The character traits you possess that make you unique.  The personality that makes me excited for your future.

You are the child that I don’t worry about much.  Weston has really had some health struggles that keep me busy, and Emi… well… lets face it: She likes to play in the toilet and dive down stairs.  But you.  You are always smiling.  Except for if you fall asleep for an unplanned nap… You never wake up well from those.  Aside from that, though, you are a complete and total delight.  You, my sweet boy, are full of life.  You manage to pack compassion, kindness, strength, determination, humour, the most endearing type of manipulation, and a slight touch of social awkwardness into such a handsome, healthy package.  And you are so easy to be around.  You make it not only easy to be your mom, you also make it fun.  You make it joyful.  You make my heart get bigger every day.  You seem to want to make every day awesome.  And I love that about you.

Let’s talk about your heart.  It’s so kind.  I know enough kids to know that most at your age don’t care too much about what other people are feeling.  You, however, seem to be able to read expressions already. If someone is sad, you always ask what’s wrong.  If you see me cry, your little brows get furrowed and you ask if I’m ok.  You’re 2 years old.  And you are there for me.  You are so compassionate.  When you see someone get hurt (your little sister in particular), you stop what you’re doing and you check on them.  When one of your siblings is having a meltdown of some sort, you will over compensate with your happiness.  You are empathetic.  Your heart is truly amazing, complex, good and being refined every day for the plans God has for you.

Let’s talk about your determination.  You never give up.  You’re learning how to ride a bike with training wheels right now.  Every time we go outside, you insist on riding the bike.  You will not rest until it comes naturally.  And you’re getting there!  Your progress amazes me.  And you’re so strong that you’re doing it on your own.  We strap the helmet on and you take it from there.  Well, we pull you out of the grass and bushes when necessary, but then you’re right back to it.  I see your persistence in so many things you do.  Never change that.  It’s a gift.

Now- your personality.  There’s so much of it.  You are hilarious.  You do and say the funniest things.  You talk fast, and you talk with emphasis. And you like to laugh.  You’ll join in on an adult conversation and just chat and laugh and laugh and laugh.  You really have no clue what we’re talking about, but you get in on it.

There is a part of your personality that could be used for good or bad.  Manipulation.  You, my dear, have that down pat.  You’re impossible to be mad at because you can charm your way out of almost anything.  And you are well aware of that and use it to your advantage.  I pray God will help us help you channel this into a positive thing.  When used correctly, ethically, and kindly, it is good.  You could persuade people, and lead people.  So much potential to be used for good.

And we can’t talk about you without talking about your showmanship.  And your moves.  I have some great videos of you just letting loose and busting a move.  I’ll be sure to show all your girlfriends, don’t worry.  You dance with so much… passion. You like to put on a show for me and your dad and your brother and sister.  But you sure do blush and get shy when there’s other people around…

…Which brings me to a discussion on your social awkwardness.  This makes you even more awesome.  People really appreciate this side of you.  The exaggerated yet sincere smile with the squinty eyes.  The quick, abrupt wave.  The nervous giggle.  It’s so fun to watch you interact with people.  Although, you’ve been known to try to avoid certain outings, such as church.  Your reason?  “I don’t like people.”  You do.  I promise you do.  But you are an introvert, and that’s a great thing.  You’re an introvert with a wild side.  Your personality is stunning.

I love you.  Every bit of you.  I will never understand why God made an awesome person like you and decided I was fit to be your mom.  Probably because he knew I could learn so much from you.  I am so so so grateful.  Don’t ever change.  Yes- mature, and grow stronger, but never ever change your heart that is so good. Every part of  your personality was put there with a purpose.  God knows what He’s doing.  He truly outdid himself when he made you.DSC_0533

We love you so much, buddy.  At the end of this letter is the life verse we picked for your dedication at church.  Hold onto it.  Believe it.  Challenges will come.  But when God created you, he gave you a solid framework for anything that may come.  But no matter how strong you are, remember to be humbly and totally dependent on God.  Giver of life and every good gift.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

-Isaiah 43:1b-2.