Noah’s Kindergarten Graduation

The first week of June was very emotional for me as a mommy. I thought taking Noah to Kindergarten was hard but picking him up on his last day was way harder. I could not be more proud of him. He sailed through school making high marks and getting along well. He had one time where he got in trouble for writing on the fort in his classroom, but for the rest of the year he was well behaved and really came out of his shell. I am so grateful for his amazing teacher, Mrs. Michelle Watson. I am amazed at how much more he can read in the short time he attended school and he is writing like crazy as well.

Noah made so many friends, in fact there is not a kid in the class he would say he was not friends with, except maybe the girls because he is a 5 year old boy. (At the beginning of the year he loved them all, the end of the year he says they are gross and only wants them around “for Ellie”.) He even received the Phenomenal Friend award. I think there could not have been a better award to receive! He is very excited to go back to school, already. Every time we drive by he says he misses it. We are lucky that some of his friends live within in our neighborhood or surrounding neighborhoods so we try to have play dates often.

Here are some pictures from his award ceremony and party, and the last day of school. I am so proud to be Noah’s mom!

XOXO,

Melissa

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Christmas 2014

Can you guys believe tomorrow is the last day of January? Wow. Well, I am finally getting around to posting some of the photos we took on Christmas (on our digital camera). I have been so lazy with using my iPhone (that is sadly better than my expensive DSLR at times). I am trying to pull my camera out more this year, in the spirit of being intentional. ( ;

Note, there are none from Christmas morning because my kids were tired and too fast. They were all a blur or each kid had wrapping paper or a box in front of their face!

We spent Christmas eve at my sister’s house and Christmas day in Paris, at Aaron’s parent’s house.

Enjoy!

M.

Intentionality

(I originally wrote this on January 6th. -ME)

For the past few months I have found myself overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and struggling to focus. I will be in the middle of a conversation and just lose track of what was said, and/or what a person’s name is. I used to humorously say I had A.D.D. which is probably not nice for those who are diagnosed and affected by A.D.D.- and I am still not convinced I do not have it- but it has gotten so bad. I am really beginning to think I have over multi-tasked and broke my brain. (And all the mamma’s said AMEN!)

Lately during prayer the word intention has been coming up. I am not sure God is speaking it to me, but it feels that way most of the time. (I don’t hear God say it to me directly but I think God speaks in a lot of different ways.) It also keeps coming up in different things I watch and read. Our Pastor even spoke on it this past Sunday.

I don’t really ever take specific New Year resolutions seriously but last year I said I wanted to be healthier and I felt like I made a more concentrated effort at it. This year I want to be more intentional.

Late last year Aaron and I went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course. We learned a lot and I believe in the process. We had a slow start because of timing (excuses!) and my general lack of responsibility with money. This year I want to be more intentional in telling my money where I want it to go. It is only day six but I feel like I am doing well. This is huge for me. Ha!

Mid-2014 I started reading about prayer and have been really trying to spend more time in prayer. (Here’s a great example of me not being able to focus: I have to write a note on what I need to pray for. The list gets long because sometimes things need continued prayer. Am I right?) I want to be more intentional in my prayer life.

I have always been big on personal relationships. I have quit social media three times saying I was only going to communicate personally. Unfortunately I can’t change everyone else and each time I missed a lot, which is sad. I realize social media is not going away but that doesn’t mean I can’t make an effort to call my friends, to have coffee dates and to write MORE hand written notes. I also want to be more intentional in gift giving. I have always loved to give but nothing saddens me quite like buying a gift card or a generic gift. If you are a regular gift getter in my life you have probably received something late, as I tend to shop for the right thing. I want to be more intentional in looking ahead and finding things in advance. (So when you get something from me you better like it- there is going to be a lot of groundwork put into that gift, people!)

I want to be more intentional in my marriage. Last Valentine’s Day I made Aaron a date jar and promised him we would do one date a week. Some were family dates and some were little and free things. Some were really big. We have yet to do any. This makes me sad. We definitely had date nights, just never intentional like they were supposed to be. We were lucky enough to escape to a cabin for New Year’s Eve and spent three nights playing board games, putting together puzzles and watching movies. We really enjoyed just being us but I think we need to do these types of things more often.

I want to be more intentional with my children as well. The kids are only getting older. (Boy- how many times I have heard that one!) I want to make more effort to spend focused time with the kids, limiting distractions. I want to expose the kids to more things in our culture. I want to cherish the little moments more and spend less time being stressed out.

I want to be more intentional with my career. The current consulting job I have is a blessing and I need to remember that. I also need to do better at it. I can honestly say I have not given it my 150%. I want to succeed but leave my desk at the end of the day. I want to also focus on the little steps towards my life long goal.

Many of these things cannot happen without a plan. I tend to start out on these things well and lose steam fast. I am going to do better at making lists and a schedule. I am going to set small weekly and monthly goals. I am going to be intentionally successful and happy in 2015. What are you going to be doing?

 Joy to you,

Melissa

10pm and it’s a whole new world…

My entire household is asleep and has been in bed since before ten pm. This was not our lifestyle two weeks ago or ever. But, Noah started Kindergarten today and that is a big change for a five year old and his family.

First, let me tell you all that I did cry but not as much as I expected. And I did worry, but found myself praying more than anything. It has been an emotional day, for sure. But I could not be more proud of Noah! He has been so brave. In fact, tonight when I said Daddy was going to take him to school tomorrow and I would stay home, and asked if that was okay- he responded with “I can handle anything!” He is so wise for a five year old. He has not cried once today (to my knowledge, but I think he would have told me otherwise) and he has been happy about his first day.

I prayed for weeks that he would have a mature or seasoned teacher. I know that sounds so silly but I believe this will be a very important year in his life. I was so thrilled when we went to meet the teacher last week and met Mrs. Watson. She has been teaching for years and is also a believer. (I think this is a huge win!) Her classroom was set up amazing. I wanted to stay and hang out in the books. We had to drag Noah out with the promise of stopping in the school library (something he did not get to see the inside of on our tour). She has a big fort that they can play in once “they learn to be safe”. (The whole time I kept thinking- ‘her poor husband has to dismantle and take that home each summer!!’) Today the PTA posted this picture of his class (how lucky that his class was the one they took a picture of!!!) (He is at the table closest to the window, facing the teacher. There’s a little girl’s head in front of him but you can see his striped shirt and back of his head.)

 

Noahs first day of Kinder!

 

When we dropped him off this morning, he sat right down and never looked back as we left. I got into the hall and made a joke about how for once we were not late, and then started giggling which led to tears. Other kids were still walking in so I tried to stop so as to not scare them. Once we got into the car it was a quiet and sad drive home.

I was lucky to have some friends invite me to lunch. That kept my mind occupied. Before that I was watching my clock and imagining what he was doing. (Aaron later admitted he was doing the same at work.) Afterwards, I drove the long way home and parked in his school lot. Ellie was napping so I took the time to pray over the school, him and his teacher. I went home and tried to busy myself until pick up. I arrived about 27 minutes prior to dismissal and was fifth in line. It was all a bit confusing and due to some misunderstanding I got out of line and back in at the end. That was frustrating! When I finally got Noah he was exhausted and ready to get home. We stopped for a hamburger as I knew he was hungry. I always was after school. I asked him if he considered his day a quick day or a long day. He said it was a very long day! HA!

Noah has talked about his day in spurts. I am sure he is still trying to process it all. He talked about raising his hand, and that he got to go outside three times (we aren’t sure that’s accurate), his new friend Sebastian and the twin girls in his class. (He is concerned he may call them the wrong name since they are identical and their parents dress them alike. That poor teacher!!) He told us about “Criss Cross Apple Sauce” (what I know as Indian Style) and hands in lap, ginger snap! He was most talkative about the two books they read (which he has already asked that I order!) and we discussed the bathroom, water and lunch.

I am hopeful he is excited in the morning to go back. He says he is, but I know after a couple of days things can change. None of the kids in his class cried this morning while we were there. I think that’s pretty impressive. I also think they were all staying strong for each other. I will keep praying for him and his teacher, as well as his school and fellow students. I am glad so many of my friend’s children also had great first days. I am looking forward to having our adult evenings back once we get adjusted to this new schedule. I am super proud of my Noah right now. I think this is definitely what you call beaming with pride!

Noah first day of kinder photo

PS Noah lost his first tooth the night before! He thinks that is pretty awesome!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Ellie!

Sweet Ellie,

 

On Friday you turned two. I realized about a week prior that I was really kind of sad you were no longer going to be a baby. Over the past few months you have started talking in full sentences, expressing a sort of sassy attitude, and growing out of all the baby-like features in your face. Daddy and I do not plan to have any more children so it makes me a little sad that you are growing up at what seems like alarming speed. At the same time, I am so glad that you have had a healthy and happy first two years of life. God has truly blessed our family.

As I have written to you before, I was never quite sure I wanted to be a parent a second time. After having your brother I felt like my dreams kind of crumbled because I am not cut out to be this perfect mom that I had seen on tv and in so many of my friends and family. I didn’t feel like it would be healthy for me to try again. Right about the moment that I started giving it a second thought, God gave me you. I was terrified but the moment you came along I knew this was exactly right. God made me to be your Mama, and you to be my daughter. You were such a perfect baby and have given me so much in life already. In the two short years you have been in this world you have changed my heart radically. I will never be able to thank you properly, Ellie.

The past year has been so much fun. You were a wonderful one year old. You were (and still are) so sweet. Your little voice melts my heart. Yesterday we were driving to Church and you were not all the way awake yet. You said something to me in the smallest voice you are capable of having, and I teared up. One day your voice will be so much louder, so much more like an adult. On Saturday, before your birthday party, I laid down with you. I wanted you to nap but I didn’t think it would happen, so I at least wanted us to both rest. At one point you wrapped your tiny little fingers around my fingers and rubbed your perfect little button nose against mine. You love to give me eskimo kisses and I hope you never stop. In that moment I was content. I knew nothing could ever break my spirit.

I love the way you and I pray each night. You always let me say the prayers, sometimes saying one word here or there, and then you say “Thank you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus. Amen!” It’s adorable. And it’s our thing. Mine and yours. Many people in our lives are critical because you sleep in the bed with me and Daddy. Honestly I used to be judgmental of people who did this, but I would never change it. I love snuggling with you. One day you won’t want to snuggle. One day you will not even want me in your room. These days are ours together and I will cherish them.

The past 6 months changed my daily patterns because I mostly work from home, except when traveling. I love that I get to wake up and make you breakfast. I love that we get to play. I love that I get to comfort you when you get hurt. I don’t even mind breaking up the fights you and Noah sometimes have. (Okay, sometimes I mind.) I am so grateful God gives me this time with you and your brother.

Ellie, you are going to be so smart, so personable. I worry you will run the world, one day. I want you to be successful but I want you to be happy more than anything. If I could give my younger self any advice it would be to not rush life. You are still young enough that you don’t have this problem yet. But, you are a lot like me. You are already acting way older than you really are. Slow down, sweet girl. There’s so much down the road and it will wait for you.

Ellie, you are beautiful. You have a good heart. You want to take care of all the babies. Even the ones that are older than you, and just look younger. You love animas. You love people. You are going to be a great friend to many people. You have an infectious smile and a twinkle in those blue eyes that warms people’s hearts. You are going to move mountains, my baby girl!

Two is going to be fun. Bubba will be going to school in the Fall and that means we get to hang out together during the day. I really look forward to that (even though I am heart sick thinking of your brother going to school). Our family has so much to be grateful for, so much in store for us. It’s going to be a fun ride, the next twelve months. I am so gad you are in our family. You truly complete us!

Elliot, I love you. Daddy loves you. Our entire family loves you. Happy birthday, sweet angel baby!

 

Love always,

Mommy

Working from home

In my previous position I was able to work from home as needed. I did it on occasion when weather was bad, kids were sick, I was sick, etc. It was always a little different because my role was so different. I was a department leader- my phone never stopped ringing. There was always an emergency. I could respond quickly to the thousands of emails that came through on my iphone.

My job now is to market a program. If I don’t put effort into it, I get no traction. I office at home and it has been a major adjustment. Usually I get up early before the kids and crank out any important phone calls. Then I start following up on emails and sending out new emails, trying to generate business. I don’t have to be at my desk 9-5, in fact I am never. But I do put in hours at random times, and get what I have to done. When I travel, I get the most done because I am in a hotel room alone for hours at a time.

It’s been really hard. I am a very social person. I love conversations. I miss the water cooler chats. I miss my team. I miss going to lunch, or running errands when I need to. But it has also been really good. I get to be there when Ellie wakes up and sit with her in my lap as I read emails, and she tries to fully wake up. I get to snuggle with her when she is hurt. I get to stop what I am doing and play dinosaurs or hide and seek with Noah. I get to make him lunch. I get to make Ellie breakfast, second breakfast, third breakfast, pre-lunch, lunch, second lunch… (She eats a whole lot!)

I love the sounds of the kids playing in the background… until I have an urgent sales call with a prospect. But that’s rare. And I always disclose that my kids are home and apologize for any background noise. I think people respect it and appreciate my honesty. At least, I hope so. I love the ability to stop in the middle of the day and run to the park on a beautiful afternoon. It’s rare (especially with the winter we have had) but I can do it, if I want. I miss having lunches where I can have adult conversations but I love having lunch where I can hear my children talk. Sometimes we even have lunch with Daddy, which is a real treat.

Whenever people ask me about the change (which is really rare, to be honest) I always think in my head “it’s beautiful chaos!” It’s been a hard six months. There have been many moments of tears- many for my weakness of losing control, a lot for the pain and grief of leaving what I considered to be my career, but a few out of pure joy brought to me by witnessing my kids live their lives. God has truly blessed me.

January Reading

At the end of 2013, author Jon Acuff (of the acclaimed ‘Stuff Christians Like’ blog) put out a challenge to empty a book shelf and fill it throughout the year, tracking your efforts on Pinterest on a shared board. It lit a fire under me and I cleared a shelf and started Jan 1. I read four books (on top of many magazines and blogs, I should add):

Jan 2014 books

The first book was a Christmas gift from Aaron (that I said I wanted, so don’t be all “he gave you a diet book!!!!!”) and it was The Daniel Plan. It’s a great book about being healthy and it starts with Faith because the only way to really accomplish anything worthwhile is with God. I found it very interesting, as it incorporated some of the new theories of nutrition and exercise. (A lot of the cave man diet concept (or originally the South Beach Diet.) It hasn’t helped me too much though. I was trying to be more fit this year and I have made some effort but I don’t know that I can stick to this diet plan. The exercise plan is helpful and they are working on an app and website that will also be helpful. It also talks a lot about not doing it alone, so I proposed a group at Church but haven’t heard that it will take off. (And I can’t lead one right now…)

The second book was also a Christmas gift from Aaron and it was Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat”. I love Jim and was fortunate enough to see him at the Dallas Improv years ago, before he was really famous. The book is quick and easy, and very entertaining. I would say all parents need a copy. Some of his standup is incorporated too, so some parts were pretty familiar. It was hard to read it and not hear his voice.

The third book was ALSO a Christmas gift from Aaron and it was “Divergent”. I saw the movie premier and it caught my attention so I told Aaron I would like to read it. (And he listened!) It took a day or so to get into it but I really started reading it on my trip to Chicago and I could not put it down! (Funny, because the story takes place in what was Chicago!) It’s a great book and I can’t wait for the movie. (Now I can tell Aaron everything that was different in the book from the movie. He will love it! *sarcasm*)

The fourth book was one of my Aunt Pat’s that I inherited after she passed. It was from the seventies and it is called “The Kingdom of Self” by Earl Jabay. It was an interesting read about how we are all born selfish and no matter the depth of psychiatry or therapy we get, we will not overcome without God. I really liked this book and found it to be so interesting. It was a short read and the book smells like my Aunt Pat, so it was extra special to me.

If you are interested, empty a shelf and get on it. If you want to pin your progress there’s a board: http://www.pinterest.com/jonacuff/empty-shelf-challenge/

Happy reading!

M.