Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First day of school reflections

My little gal, Muscle Man, and I had our first week of school this week. Check out our backpacks!  Bella's, admittedly, is much cooler than mine - and I'm ok with that.  We had a wonderful summer full of water, bubbles, Duke Gardens, the beach, watching the Olympics, playing with puzzles, more bubbles, more water, and all around being home-bodies.  It was also a challenging summer with an active toddler and a very active walking-one-year-old.  I was looking forward to school starting for a new rhythm and routine.  But, I was also mourning the loss of the summer with the kiddos.  Time goes by quick, y'all!

So, this past Monday I packed Bella's backpack with her pink pillow and a change of clothes.  Mike came home with some information from school and guess what he brought home!   A school supply list!  I had a major-freak-out moment that consisted of me being in denial that I have a child old enough for a school supply list.  And, that I was old enough to have a child with a school supply list.  Y'all, I was not prepared for that.  So, I set out to Target to get her items and called my mom to mourn/celebrate/be sad about this new development.  After we ooohed and awwwed and laughed and squealed about getting school supplies, I went to Target to buy Bella tissues and Clorox wipes and the other items.  And, I was one proud Momma!  I held that list like I had entered another league of elite people - like everyone should notice that I was buying from a school supply list - like I had a stamp on my forehead that read 'Proud mother of a precious 3.5 year old'.  So, with mixed emotions I bought the items, packed them up in her box, and toted it all to school to pick up my little learner. 

Then here comes Wednesday.  I started my second year of my PhD program.  I bought my own new school supplies. I asked Bella how her day was and what she learned.  She asked me how my day was and what I learned.  I didn't want to bore her with talk of how to categorize nominal variables or choose the correct method for logistic regression.  So, I talked about my day. She asked if I saw my friends and if they were nice.  I asked her if she had fun with her friends and if they were nice.  She told me she learned "a little bit" and asked what I learned.

Although we are learning very different things that feels like a world apart, my little 3.5 year old taught me something.  Make friends, go play in the gym, read books, get candy from your teacher - these are just some of her thoughts about her day that I should try to implement! But, the real things that matter are what I come home to. It's who I come home to.  And, that little gal is watching what I'm doing.  I want her to know that she can do whatever she wants.  I want her to shoot for the stars. I want her to dream and live fully who "Bella" is.  The number one way for her to see that in the life of her parents. 

So, i'm reminded by my little 3.5 year old who is learning to sound out simple words and write a lower case 'j' to dream and fully live in the moment and work hard and play hard.  It's a great reminder on my first day of school - when I'm a little nervous (ok, very nervous) about the strenuous semester coming up, the papers that need to be written, and the looming cumulative exam.  I remember that I have little eyes looking up to me.  And, I also remember I have a little girl who will wrap her arms around me and ask about my day at school. I want to say, "Sweetie, it was a great day!" knowing that I gave it my all, that I tried my hardest, that I was thankful for the opportunity, and that I enjoyed the ride. And, then I want to go play bubbles.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beach trip and sacred holiness

We recently went on a beach trip to see Mrs. Cathy. It was the first time the kids had seen the ocean so we were so excited about it. I might have been more excited that Bella was.  The first morning we were there, Bella and I headed to the beach while JT, Mike, and Mrs. Cathy stayed for JT's nap.  Bella ran from the car towards the water saying, "I'm so excited" and I dropped most of the things I was carrying just to run after her.  She is fearless, y'all!  She promptly set to work building a sand castle.
 Our beach beauty!  Then it was off to the water! She ran right in and kept going and going and going.  She even got splashed pretty hard by the waves. But, she simply wiped the water off her face and went again.  I was holding onto her for dear life because she kept wanting to go further in.  I am loving her carefree, fearless spirit.  Just not when there are lots of waves around. =) 

When Mike came to join us in the water, she ran to him, gave him a big hug, and said, "Daddy, I love you".  Then she would jump back in the water.  She would come to me next, tell me the same thing, and then jump back in the water.  Y'all, she was a happy camper! 

 And, little Muscle Man decided to join us at the beach when he got up from his nap. Mrs. Cathy was holding him as she walked up to the's his reaction to her putting her toes in...LOTS of screaming.  Poor guy did not like the waves!
 Uhm, now he's checking it out.  But if she moved he would scream again.
 We sure do love Mrs. Cathy. She took Bella on a seashell collecting adventure.
 And, stayed with Muscle Man while he ate a banana and crackers and anything else we would give him. ha!  Growing boy!
 Daddy had to take Bella in too.  I LOVE these pictures.  I have some great memories of going to the Pacific Ocean with my dad.  So, I know she'll treasure these.

 Big waves!

Here's some more pictures of me and my gal.

 We had sand everywhere - but it was so worth it!

 I love these memories.  Not a care in the world except for running in the water.

 I then decided to try to take JT in the water. 

 Here's how he responded.
 That's ok with me though! I'll take cuddles anytime I can get it.
 I love this picture because Jonathan was NOT letting go of me.  And Bella was running all over the place splashing and jumping and being completely fearless!
 Sweet Daddy was trying to get JT ok with the water too.  Here's what he did though.  So stinkin' cute!  I'm partial to red heads and I think these two are pretty a-ok!

 Little man was tuckered out at the end of the trip and fell fast asleep on Daddy. 
 Muscle Man FINALLY got into some sort of water.  But, he had to inch his way in from Mrs. Cathy's lap.  He kept sliding down and would kick his legs in the water and eventually got it.  Little cutie!

 He also learned to put the top of the water bottle this weekend.
 And, we're still playing ball.

 Look at that full diaper!

 I love this next series of pictures with Mrs. Cathy.  They sure are special to one another!

 Doing fish kisses with Mrs. Cathy.

The final morning before we left, Bella and I went to the beach together again.  I ran in the water with her, we made more sand castles, we laid in the sand, we ran away from the waves, and then just sat together.  I watched her build her sand castles and collect shells and smile and was caught up in thankfulness.  It's one of those moments as a mother that you want time to stop and you hope your mind will simply capture the memory of the moment.  It's one of those moments as a mother than you catch yourself being overwhelmed with thankfulness at the precious gift of a child.  It's one of those moments you realize that sometimes the sacredness and the holiness of God are not found in a building on a Sunday morning or in bible studies or rituals.  It's wrapped up in a little 3 year old's laughter as she builds a sand castle.  It was something about the roar of the waves that made everything else drown out except the moment.  And, in that moment, in the laughter, in the sand, in my daughter's smile was a snapshot of sacred holiness.