Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My last first sentence

Warning **Brag post**
I am so proud of my littlest! Earlier in the year I was told that she passed her basis kindergarten assessment but "just barely". Because she has "The Best Kindergarten Teacher Ever" Mrs.Abell was on it. She sent home a computer ABC sight/song for us to use as well as a baggie of other goodies for Cadence to play and learn with. Since Cadence loves to "play school" she was very excited about this. Cadence also started working with a book buddy one on one during the school week. I only freaked out a "bit" when this all started. We've been very lucky that school and learning have come pretty easily to my kids so this was my first experience with one that needed extra work.
Last week Cadence came home with this drawing and sentences that she wrote ALL ON HER OWN! We were so proud and she was so proud of herself! Let me translate the phonetic
spelling for you.
My family is a good family. We go to the movie theatre. We are go to
Once space ran out she was done and her speech deficit shows up in "theatre" because that is how she would sound it out. But, dang! Thanks to her fabulous teacher, book buddy, and lots of hard work, she's come a long way, Baby!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A gift from the heart

When I was 8 years old my grandfather gave me a dollhouse for Christmas. He had spent almost 1 1/2 years meticulously working on it. The details in the house are amazing! Popsicle sticks for the roof, actual wallpaper inside, handmade furniture, some of which were replicas of antique furniture in our very own home. Our current address at the time was 4484 Wrangell Place and that was the painted on the house. There was even a tiny framed picture of my brother and me! Included in the attic storage space was a Christmas tree with presents. Inside the house was tiny magazines, a toilet with a moving handle to "flush", a washer and dryer and even a holder for the silverware. My Gram helped pick out the rug and wallpaper and my great grandmother, Dub-dub, made the curtains, bedding, and baby clothes. The dollhouse and my Pops had a write up in the local Wheeling paper too!
Even at a young age I knew that it was a special treasure. It was one of a kind and made with love and his whole heart. And now I am so lucky to be able to pass it on to my girls. It has been at my parent's house where they would play with it when they visited but we decided it was time to have it in our home full time. Laurel and Cadence are thrilled! They have loved setting it up and playing with it together. It makes my heart full to see it! I feel very lucky to be able to pass the love and hard work of my Pops be appreciated by my own children. I can only hope one day that their kids will play with it too!
I love how the whole house opens up. And so much storage
space in the attic (cue the realtor's voice!).

Even the back and sides open for easy access.
I loved playing with the miniature board game and presents.

The detail in this furniture is amazing!

A tiny picture of me and my brother!

The local write up that states "a gift which will be a part of their lives forever...
possibly a part of their childrens' lives". That is my Pops and Dub-dub.
I always loved this tiny storage spot with the washer and dryer.

My girls enjoying it now!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Made of AWESOME!

This girl is made of Awesome! She put that outfit together and she totally owed it! She owns everything that she builds, says, makes, creates. No holds barred. She has her moments of shyness and bashfulness and regret. But most of the time she is wide open, full of life and joy, and taking the world by storm. 

As we were walking into the grocery store the other day she was skipping ahead singing "I'm cool. I'm awesome. I'm cool. I'm awesome!" Laurel and Sierra trailed behind saying "Mom, she sounds kind of conceited. You should tell her to stop." I can't. I just can't do it. I said to my older girls that Cadence has her whole life to be knocked down. Someone will knock her down at some point if she doesn't do it to herself first. If she can retain a portion of her self-love and self-confidence, that will be a win. But it will change eventually. There will be a boy, or a frenemy, or an outright bully that will make her stop and question all of her awesomeness. Sadly, it may even be the voice in her own head after seeing a commercial on TV or a supermodel in a magazine. She will question her looks, her strength, her smarts, her worth. She will question and compare and wonder if she's good enough, if she's smart enough, if she's "fill in the blank" enough. That is the sad fact of life. I sure as hell am not going to be the one to knock her down.

Don't get me wrong. I'm fully aware that she shouldn't skip her way down Wall Street chanting "I'm cool. I'm awesome!" as she swings her briefcase. At least not out loud. But my wish for her, is that she will sing it in her head. I hope that she holds on to the confidence that she has when she looks in the mirror at her stripes and polka dots and her crazy hair that she "did all on my own" and can say to herself  on a regular basis "I kinda kick ass. I'm smart, I'm strong, and I have worth." You are made of Awesome, Cadence. Don't ever forget or doubt it, baby girl!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why I said "yes" to Nepal

Brad is currently in Nepal. He's hiking. For 3 1/2 weeks. When I reveal these details (no, it's not humanitarian and yes, he's there for almost a month) jaws tend to drop a bit. Brad said to me one night "My friends are in awe of you that you are letting me do this".  I told him "My friends are in awe of me to for letting you do this!" as I laughed. Even after being married for 13 years it still strikes me as odd.  This notion that even as an adult we are in a place where we need permission to do certain things. I get it. I'm not saying that it's not valid. It just feels strange when you think about it. My kids say that they can't wait to grow up so that they can do whatever they want. That's not always the case though.

Brad has always watched shows about Mt. Everest. He hiked the Appalachian Trail when he younger and made a couple of attempts at long hikes as an adult. I know that when he is in the woods and hiking he finds a kind of peace that is hard for him to find elsewhere. (Personally I'm able find that kind of peace on a massage table!) When he told me almost a year ago that hiking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal is something that he hoped to do in 2014 I asked the usual questions.  Is it safe, how much does it cost, how long? I thought about it for a minute and then said "Okay". He looked at me skeptically. "Really? I didn't think it would be that easy." I didn't think it would be either. Granted, it's not a foreign concept for Brad to be gone for long periods. When he was in grad school he spent about 8 out of 16 months in Maryland and West Virginia, although he typically came home on the weekends. That was also 4 years and 1 kid ago. But the kids are older now and life is a little easier in terms of the physical labor of kids!

I've been trying to figure out why it was so easy for me to agree for him to go. I can't really come up with a solid answer other than it just felt like the right thing to do. He encouraged me to go to Uganda last year when I faltered about the difficulty of arranging childcare. I knew it was a life long dream of his to see the Himalayas. Marriage is a work in progress. Sometimes you have to put in more work to make progress. I guess I agreed to work a little more knowing all that he would get out of a trip like this and what the gesture could do for our marriage. It was on opportunity for me to "fill his bucket". I know that Brad's realistic enough to not ask for something this "big" very often and he has expressed his gratitude and appreciation almost daily. It felt well worth the sacrifice to help him achieve a bucket list item.

**Post note: This was obviously started a little while ago and I'm just now finishing it up! Brad came home a little early because he missed the girls and me a lot. Once he saw the Himalayas and finished his trek it felt like it was time to come home. I'm glad that he got what he needed. My time was fairly easy actually with lots of good girlfriend time! One week after Brad went through the Thorung La pass there was a a freak blizzard that killed many trekkers. There is almost never precipitation this time of year on the trail. It's scary to know that had his days been off by just a bit... I'm praying for those hikers and their families.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The downside of Disney's Frozen on Ice

A few months ago I saw tickets for Disney's Frozen on Ice go on sale. Even Sierra loved the movie and they have watched it countless times in the car and we have listened to the CD to death (possibly my death!). Brad suggested that it might be a good "girls night" so I talked my sweet friend Lisa into joining us! I'm not gonna lie... it was pretty awesome! Great skating, cool effects, happy kids. What's not to love?

And this. This is why I love Lisa!

Very cool monster effects

Beautiful costumes

Don't deny it... You just started singing "Let it go"!

Cadence catching "snow" as it fell into the audience.  
We later discovered that it was actually bubbles. 

And this... what can make one happier than Olaf?

Except a particularly adorable 5 year old who loves Olaf!

And this sweet smile (I'm not neglecting Sierra, sadly she just stopped hamming it up for the camera a few years ago)

A little smile from her

Unfortunately though, while all of this kids looked like this:

I was sitting next to them feeling like this:

Why?  Because these days are numbered. And going fast. So, so very fast.  I feel like it was just last year that we took Sierra to go see Dora when she was two years old. I don't even think that she understood exactly what was happening on stage but when everyone else clapped you'd have thought Sierra just watched her favorite Olympian take the gold! She was so freaking excited! I swear, we did that just last year. Then last month we brought Cadence home from China as she toddled around with her big, beautiful cleft smile. Yet somehow this morning she hopped out of my car with her oversize back pack and walked right into kindergarten. It. Makes. My. Heart. Ache. 

Don't get me wrong. Brad and I already talk about the trips that we will take and the things that we will do in 13 years when the last one heads off to college. However, I'm already getting a strong taste of teenage-hood. And I have to admit that I kind of prefer a preschooler meltdown to it. I know, I know, there are lots of good things about the kiddos growing up. And that's what we brought them here to do, right? To guide them through this world, hopefully get some of it right and send them out on their way to be good, kind, contributing members of society.  I just want it to slow down a little bit. Maybe a lot. I want to know that someone will always be there to excitedly throw her arms around my neck when I get home. I want to have a little one to cuddle in my lap when I read a book. I want sweet, homemade cards with hearts all over it "just because". I want it all for a little longer than it's going to last. It's almost enough to think about having another. We did actually start the paperwork for a second adoption this past winter. Then reality smacked us in the face when we realized that most days we barely keep our heads above water with three. So, we stopped. I think what I realized is that I don't necessarily want another child, I just want more time with the ones I've already got. 

So instead of lamenting I'm going to try and be more intentional with my time with my girls. While there are certainly days when I count the minutes til bedtime (and I won't pretend like I shouldn't ever feel that way) these days are flying by. It's time to put more focus in the right places.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First day of school - 2014/2015

The girls started school last week. ALL of the girls! For the first time in 12 years I don't have a sidekick at home with me. Even though Cadence was in preschool 3 days last year the mornings flew by and then she was home. Most of the time I really enjoyed having her here. She's a fun kid! She laughs, she's silly, she's easy to have around when I ran errands. Early August I started mourning the start of school and all of the girls being gone. I just can't believe it's here already. I can't believe that a major phase of our lives is over. No more morning playgroups or library story time. Things that have been a part of my life for many years just won't happen anymore. That feels worthy of a few tears (and there have been a few!). I can envision the laundry list of projects that I will finally have time to get done. Maybe even some lunches with my friends who are home during the day. But I'm sure going to miss the girls.  I'll miss the sleeping in and not worrying about papers or lunches. I'll miss pool time and just feeling lazy. The start of school is here, though, and there's nothing I can do about it.

Cadence's teacher is Mrs.Ablle. She's the grandmotherly type who gives out lots of love and hugs. Cadence had a hard time at a teacher/ kindergartner play date. Okay, she had a complete meltdown. I think she was overwhelmed with the whole situation. Mrs.Ablle called me two days before school started and asked if I wanted to bring Cadence in to the class before the first day of school so she could get used to the setting without the chaos. I fell in love with her right then and there! We went in the next day and she read Cadence a book and let her take home a stuffed animal. It completely put me at ease. I know that Cadence will have a good year! I wasn't so sure about the bus. I had a feeling the bus doors could open and that Cadence would totally fall apart at that moment. The first day she did great! The second and third days there were some tears but she did get on the bus with Laurel without too much protest. Hoping it gets better!

Laurel has Mrs.Gibson. I don't know much about most of the teachers since we are still relatively new here. Laurel had such a great group of kids in her room last year, I just wish they could all be together again! She has one good friend in her class this year. Hoping for a good year for her.

Sierra is off to 7th grade. Six more years. She will be home for only six more years. How did this happen? It hurts my heart a little to know how fast it will go by. Again, we don't know the teachers. We do know that she got drama as one of her electives. She definitely did not choose it! We are trying to decide if there might be some benefit that will outweigh the anxiety that she will have with each class. It will really be tough for her. Luckily it's not until the second 9 weeks, so we have a bit.

Feeling a bit like supermom to actually get up early and make pancakes! 
We're generally a cold cereal type of family!

My big kindergartner

Mrs.Ablle, and Cadence wants to be a dentist

Mrs.Gibson, and Laurel wants to be a vet

Sierra has Mrs.Kooken for homeroom, and Sierra wants to be a teacher
I made Sierra get up early and get ready so I could get a picture of all of them together.
Despite that, I still got a smile!

Love our bus stop, right outside of the coffee shop!

And they're off!
(Sierra would kill me if I followed her to the bus!)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anatomy of a family portrait

We decided to take some family pictures at the beach.  I scoped out the timing for perfect lighting for a few days, waited a few more while it rained, and finally we had a "The" evening!  

When I attempt a posed portrait with my girls it's goes a lot like this... "Put your arm around her. No, gently, not like a tackle. Not so tight. Stand up straight. Not like that. Okay, now smile. Nice smiles. Not silly pictures yet, at the end. You look like you're in pain. Think of something funny. Nice smiles. Give me some good ones! The better you do with this the sooner we'll get it done. Maybe ice cream afterwards? Okay, stop acting like you're tackling her. Okay, a real smile. Look at me. Is this really that hard?! We'll work on it all night. What do I need to take away? This isn't that hard. Come on....!!!"  And so it goes.

It's a painful process.  Especially to get three (or five) good sincere smiles, no closed eyes (I'm looking at you, Brad!), and everyone looking right at the camera. Little did I know that we were going to have a semi-professional smile inducer with us! I took pictures of the kids and then for our family portraits I posed everyone, checked exposure, then handed the camera to Theresa and told her to just keep snapping. Out of a hundred pictures we should have at least two or three frame-able ones, right?

Once the typical conversations ensued Shawn was awesome enough to step in!  He was an absolute lifesaver. I can't imagine another family picture without him! P.S. He might be for hire! (Cadence managed to pick up some of his best moves and she comes cheap!)

The depth of sisterly love is palpable, right?!

There's always one.  How do people with big families do it?!  

Notice Cadence's mischievous smile?

And the big girls realize what she did...

But she looks pretty pleased with herself!


Post-Shawn... much better!

Not sure what Laurel thinks of his moves.  *cough, cough* Um, Brad!

It was non-stop... probably the most fun I've ever had doing family pictures!

Why is she growing up so fast?

Portrait intermission

Get the animosity out of the way


This one is definitely a keeper!

Are we done yet?!

Little better

I attempted to get some "frolicking in the ocean" pictures but by then we were all kinda done

This dog wanted to get in on it!

Sierra can be a pretty awesome big sister!

Can you have the nice without the silly?  Probably not!

So what was Shawn doing exactly?