Tonight she and her friends are noisily celebrating her first birthday in Ohio. They are dancing, giggling, talking and feasting on tacos and goodies dipped in the chocolate fountain. They are dancing to Itunes surrounded by lights from a disco ball.
Tonight we are quietly celebrating her .... and that magical day twelve years ago when we became parents. We are as in love with you today as we were the first time we laid eyes on you. Happy birthday Emma!!!
Merry Christmas from Wyoming, Ohio... our "new" home of five months! While much has changed for us this year, much has stayed the same. I am still woefully behind and hit a new "low" in mailing out Christmas cards on Christmas Eve this year. Maybe next year I should just consider "New Year's Eve" cards. Sigh.
All Claire wants for Christmas is her two front teeth. We can't believe how grown up she is all of a sudden.
She loves her teacher and all things "second grade." Thankfully, she still loves us wholeheartedly.
Emma looks and acts like she is 15. God help us. Seriously, we are so proud of her we can't see straight.
Grayson can't decide whether being a nine year old boy means you are grown ... or not quite yet. We can't decide either. We do know it means you sleep late and eat a lot.
Cooper is growing up so fast....we don't know whether to be excited or terrified when he demonstrates a new skill. We are trying not "to blink." Except when he throws things at us. =)
Abbey and Wrigley are our havanese and goldendoodle who round out our crazy bunch. We bought them a fenced in yard for Christmas...and it had nothing to do with keeping out the deer. I promise.
Monte and I are blessed to be employed in careers we love with people who inspire us and make us be better people. We both learn something every single day. That is a blessing.
From our house to yours, a Merry Christmas.... and a safe and joyous 2013!
Come visit anytime. When you come, bring white wine.
Sometimes milestones sneak up on you and take you by surprise. Or... you know it's coming but just don't anticipate the response your heart will have. This birthday was like that for me. It's leaving me just a little bit breathless.
Number 3 has turned 8.
I don't know why I am surprised. 8 does come after 7. It did with Emma ... and Grayson too. My engineer husband tells me that it will continue the trend with Cooper too. The sarcasm changes nothing. I am still a little ... bereft.
Up until now, there were a few little straggler skills that she hadn't mastered yet. Some things to look forward to as she "grows up." While that would have wreaked total havoc on my psyche with my first child (who am I kidding.... with my second one too), those little missing links gave me some comfort. This child wasn't growing up so fast. I had more time. Whew.
Until this whirlwind of development swept in and blew in an entirely different girl. One that not only rides a bike, but does so with no hands. One that not only has opinions but can negotiate as well. One that not only made new friends and put hereself out there ... but one that REQUESTS to join new activities.
Where is my former shy, reserved, timid middle child? She's still there at night ... when I tuck her in. She still shares some worries and fears in the dark or in the quiet. In those moments, I am happy to see her again. But in the morning, here comes her alter ego up the stairs, ready to take on the world. In those moments, I am happy to see her too.
An eight year old is emerging. A more confident, grown up girl coming into her own. We talked about that today a bit as we put away the bows and replaced them with barrettes (GULP). I told her I was proud of her ... who she was ... who she is ...and who she is becoming. I remarked on how quickly time flies by. I reminded her of all of the huge steps she has taken in the past year. She reminded me she is the only one in her class that hasn't lost a tooth. So, according to her, "she isn't completely grown up yet." Thank goodness for those little milestones that just haven't been reached yet. Thank goodness for birthday dinners at Steak and Shake. Thank goodness for eight year old daughters.
The neighborhood band has stepped up their game. They now have a tip jar. So far they welcome any type of "green", loose change, spare cookies ... and assorted treats from dog walkers in the neighborhood. Few have been able to resist their charms. I love these kids and their imaginatons!
It's not like I am unexperienced at preschools. After all, this is preschool number four in as many states. But I am pretty blown away by this new one ... and here is why.
It is a Montessori school. Truth be told, I wasn't really sure how that would go ...it sounded a bit "granola" to me, but what the heck? I am not the one who has to wrangle all those kids...whatever works for you. Well... it turns out their method is not only effective but pretty zen. A certain four year old boy that is still adjusting to a move and a newly employed mother could use a little zen. I admit to reading up a bit on this Maria Montessori. Cool lady.... WAY ahead of her time. I can relate =)
It is intergenerational. It is inside of a retirement community that houses everything from independent senior living to assisted living to a skilled nursing facility. This place has a beauty parlor, radio station, restaurants and farmers markets..... and a preschool.
The classroom are adjacent to a therapy gym ... where (all my therapy friends can attest) ALOT of action takes place. Those smart therapists use the classroom to "lure" their clients to come down and read to the kids, demonstrate yoga poses, or feed the ducks with very enthusiastic helpers. As a therapist, I marvel at the way weight-shifting, balance work, or gait training become much more FUNctional within the contexts of "playing with" the children.
The kids gain so much as well....a grandparent figure, exposure (and reduced fear) to walkers, wheelchairs and people who like to ruffle their hair. These "buddies" are kind, patient, and have a wealth of information to impart. They also like to have snacks and frequent the restroom.... according to that same certain four year old boy. =)
There are trains (indoors and out), gardens (fully tended to by children and "buddies" alike) and paved trails outside for all to enojoy. I hear about cooking, play dough work, and book reading. The fact that these activities are shared with people who differ in age by 70-80 years is an added bonus. It means a lot to me that older men are sharing with my boy the value of a strong handshake and how to speak more loudly so all may hear you. Those are life skills ... and experience is a strong teacher.
So...when I feel badly about leaving him to go work with other people's children, I do know he is in excellent hands. Many hands, older hands, patient hands, and wrinkled hands ... but someone is holding his. Until I can.
This is his "I am going to cry any minute because it's my first day of all day preschool in a new place" face.
The kind of face that makes mothers question everything....maybe just one more day home with mom wouldn't hurt ... right?
We went. We got into the car and drove to school. The entire way there I anticipated his crying at dropoff...and my jubilance at having the house (finally quiet) conducive to my working from home today. I braced myself... knowing full well that he would tear up, cling, cry, or wail. I would remain steadfast... supportive, smiling, encouraging. I, after all, was not a rookie. This is child number four. I am a veteran.
We "veteran mothers" know how this story REALLY ended.
He got out, grabbed the teacher's hand ... and walked in. Not.a.tear.
I, however, cried all the way home.
The house is quiet. Folders are stacked in front of me and I am ready to crank out reports. But ....I keep hearing him call my name for a snack. I check his school calendar to see what he is doing right now. The radio is on to tune out the quiet.
Whew. We've been busy. Not blogging but .... sellling, buying, packing, moving, unpacking, laughing, crying, comforting, meeting, greeting, and organizing. In a nutshell, it's been a crazy ride making our hopefully final move to Wyoming, OH from Cary, NC.
While we had grown to really enjoy NC and felt like we had found "our people" ... we didn't like the idea of moving the kids again later on down the road. It was becoming apparent just how important friends are to the "tween" crowd. Time is rushing by so quickly. Did we really want to maintain a split calendar in Wake County? What age is the "right time" to move? Do we want to stay in NC permanently? Is that the right thing professionally? Personally? So....we started the "what if" game. It quickly turned into the "how soon can you get here" game. And here we went again.
I can't say this experience was a smooth as the others. It certainly lasted much longer, the house selling was far more dramatic (70+ showings in 120 days), and it was far harder to actually leave than we thought it would be. And being a single parent for six months led to a lot of blood, sweat, tears, prayers, chocolate, and wine. But we did it. Again. God gave us the strength and the support and just the right people for the job.
So here we are in a village just outside of Cincinnati, OH. We did far more research on this than we had previously. We had a bit more time ... and we don't plan to go anywhere else for a long time. So... this move was important. We knew what we hoped to find...great public schools (who really wants to finance four kids in private schools?), small community, walkability, proximity to a larger city, diverse demographics and neighborhoods. You know, true neighborhoods with houses that are as diverse as the people in them.
We found it. Our house is "new construction" for this village... it is 40 yrs old. There are fewer than 10,000 people that live here ... and I will just bet we will meet every last one before long. The kids walk or ride their bikes to the elementary, middle and high school from our house. No school bus rides... sorry guys. The neighbors call you when your kid isn't wearing a helmet. Or crosses the street without a crossing guard. The librarian erases your debt because your movie went undetected (and hence unreturned) in an unpacked box for two weeks. The crossing guards hand out hellos to the kids ... and biscuits to the dogs. Really. It's a place you can raise a family ...feel at home ....and plant some roots. That's the plan.
So .... here we are. It was hard to leave. It always is. We miss our friends. That ... as we have learned ... never gets easier. But you can't win if you don't play. And .... I think we won.
Happy, happy, happy day to our spirited, fun-loving caboose to our train!
Cooper has the distinction of having the first birthday in Ohio and wants to go to a movie. A new release comes out today ... "The Odd Life of Timothy Green"...and I think we may treat ourselves. After all, the baby of the family only turns four once, right?
All three kids swam B/C States this weekend on the campus of North Carolina State University. Emma initially qualified for Tarheels States ( a level above) but turns 11 a week prior to the event. Because she will be a year older, cuts are much faster...and she won't qualify. She was bummed.
But...she agreed to swim B/C on Sunday (even after a looong day at her Odyssey of the Mind Tournament in Chapel Hill on Saturday). It made for a tiring and mileage heavy weekend shuffling between Raleigh and Chapel Hill ...but it was a weekend of hard work, sportsmanship and making memories.
Swimming milestones: Claire swam her 25 free in 23 seconds! Her 25 back was 26! Whoo-hoo! I wish she had agreed to swim Sunday too so I could see her do 50 yards in those strokes... but she didn't want to. And I wasn't going to make her.
Grayson met his goal of at least one personal best...and he was in the top 20% in each event. His relay team won the heat and finished second overall. Impressive job...he even agreed to swim two days!
Emma had her last swim as a 10 and under.... and WON her 100 FREE!!! She took four seconds off her time, easily made a BB time...and seeing her name on top of the list was an incredible boon to her confidence. It was a great way to go out.
It didn't all go as planned... it never does. There were some disappointments in the weekend and things that didn't go in our favor. That's life. And that's one of the hardest things to teach them. Losing gracefully is a skill that will take them far in life. And... one they will get the opportunity to practice often.
So... we bought the (dreadfully overpriced) T-shirts and got some ice cream. I'm proud of them... for trying... for putting themselves out there ...for taking risks...and for winning well... and losing gracefully.
My husband and I are currently parenting (some days are better than others) four of the most original, amazing, and inspiring children on the planet. They make us laugh, cry, scratch our heads, and reach for the aspirin (or margarita mix). We are sustained by our faith, our friends, and a healthy sense of humor. Here is our spot to share about love, life, and the perils of parenting.