To My 2.5 Year Old

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Daphie,

Today you are half way to three. You have grown so much in the last six months.

First of all your vocabulary has exploded. You used to say bangkock for blanket and potholes for Paw Patrol. While there are still times, I am not sure what you are saying, you get clearer by the minute. Your sentence structure amazes me most days.

You are in love with every stuffed animal that crosses your bath. You have a zoo in your crib, and you make me tuck everyone in before kissing you goodnight. And then every morning, you pick out a bow for yourself and your bunny friends. This makes me think that you will have your own rescue shelter in your adult life. Rarely are you without a stuffie to love and hold.

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You are a complete puzzle master. You are able to keep up with your brother on finding the next piece. You love putting the pictures together, and you rarely need guidance anymore.

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You love to create art. Painting is your favorite, but you love working with play-do and crayons. Every night you direct us to look at the wall of art that you have created with so much pride. You could sit at the kitchen table for hours with your art.

Much to our dismay, you have become a picky eater. You hardly eat meat, but love carbs and fruit. But you also know how to bribe your daddy to give you treats in secret by taking him to the pantry and saying “shhhh.”

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While you don’t stray far from your people, you can tell you will be fierce and are not afraid to try new things. You love to test your physical limits to keep up with the big kids. I know when you commit to something, you are all in.

You know exactly what you want out of your day, and I feel that you will always live every moment to the fullest. You don’t let much get in your way. And I love and admire that about you.

You refuse to go to the church nursery, and you love to try to add a little color to the hymnals and talk to the pastor all through the sermon.

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You also love your brother fiercely. I think you push yourself to reach his level, which has been amazing to see you try to catch up to someone who is three years older.

At the same time, you are a force with him. While most of the time you are George’s shadow, you put him in his place when he is being ridiculous. For being half his size, you hold your own against that big brother of yours. I pray every day that your relationship makes you stronger and give you the skills to command any room that you are in.

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Your laugh and smile light up the room, but you definitely make people work for them. You don’t give up your love for free (unless it is for a stuffie) which is something I hope that you continue to expect when you get older.

I knew having a girl would make me grow, but I never knew how much it would change me. Being around you Daphne is a constant reminder of how I hope to be as a woman and as a mother. It has helped me with my own self talk, because I never want you to hear the things I used to say to myself.

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I love our daily mantras:

  • You are brave.
  • You are smart.
  • You are strong.
  • You are kind.
  • You are funny.
  • You are capable.
  • You are Daphie.

You are my perfect little girl, and I love every bit or your toddler self.

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Extending the Season

I have been changed.

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I have always loved Thanksgiving. It is by far my favorite holiday. I was one of those purists who insisted on waiting until after Thanksgiving to start spreading Christmas cheer. I wouldn’t dare infringe on turkey day’s significance.

Key word in that sentence is “was.”

I have been changed.

George has been talking about Christmas since we put away Christmas last year. He truly wanted it to be the next holiday after every other holiday and birthday. He just couldn’t wait for the excitement of the season. Goodness, he even believes it is its own season in the calendar year.

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Watching his little body get filled with joy at just the thought of Christmas persuaded me to just embrace the holiday. Why wouldn’t I want to do something so simple to bring him the greatest joy he has ever known?

He loves everything about the season. He had to touch every single decoration that came out of the box. He wanted to put the lights on his own tree, and I am pretty sure he was inspired by Clark Griswold. We went to the Christmas section so many times to look at every possible layout we could have in our house. He loves the music, the movies, and just the general spirit of the season. Buddy the Elf is his spirit animal. He is just enamored by it all.

I just kept asking myself this…

Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate Christmas longer?

The decorations are so joy filling when I walk into my home.

The music is beautiful and calming.

There is just an air of happiness. Just read this for more proof.

I always end up with a long list of Christmas movies to watch, so why not start spreading that out more…never mind that it may also mean that the list gets longer.

There is always such a busyness that occurs during this time, so decorating early allows for some peace to occur. We can be in the moment a little more to enjoy all the spirit.

It’s a constant reminder of God’s love for us, which is something we need a whole lot more of in our house. It makes Christmas more than just the one day. It really is a season for us.

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So here we are after the first week of November with our house fully decked with all the twinkle and greenery.

And it is all worth it to see George get pumped about turning on the tree every morning.

Why Professional Development can be Magical

Maybe it’s because I am watching the Disney episode of Dancing with the Stars, or that I spent some time this week at a Disney attraction, but conferences can be magical.

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The past six months have been difficult for me at work. The duties have increased, and it seems that there is never a slow time to catch my breath. I feel some days that I am drowning in meetings and there is never time to do the tasks that come from those meetings.

I have always been firm that I don’t want to work from home after hours, and once I get home to be strictly about my family. But I have found more and more days where I have pulled out my computer after the kids go to bed, or I stayed late to cross things off the to-do lists. And I am always in early to get a head start.

I try to build times into my schedule to do the tasks, but to be honest they often get scheduled over. I hate to think that this will become my norm as a Director, but it has been my current reality. I also feel like you can’t really talk about it or complain about being busy because everyone is and there is the expectation to just get all the things done. I also think it can be difficult to talk about this at your own campus so you don’t let others see you feeling like you aren’t measuring up to your role. Imposter syndrome at it’s finest.

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So I very much needed this conference. I needed a break.

The thing is I love the work that I do. I really find value in what my office is doing, and feel that our initiatives are extremely valuable. I also love the collaborative nature of my role. Reaching across all the tables to see how we can make improvements for the student experience is fun for me. I love to strategically talk through what is happening and brainstorm plans to make things better.

However I was starting to get tunnel vision and worn out from my schedule.

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Professional development is often forgotten or not prioritized, but it is so important. I try to take advantage of things that happen around campus or free webinars, and I have been strategic this year about building intentional PD into my staff dynamic, but there is something about going away to a conference that can bring life back into your work. It does some magic to my soul.

  • When I explain all the things that come from my office to other schools, I am reminded of how proud I am of what we accomplish which is no small feat.
  • It provides an opportunity to hear from leaders in the field and be inspired.
  • It helps you to not feel so isolated in your experience.
  • You are just free to think and brainstorm, which can be magical.
  • I am in my element taking notes and outlining, so it always grounds me.
  • It allows you to not directly look at a problem but take a side view with some outsiders helping you process.
  • I am not expected to be an expert or have to respond. I can just truly be in the moment and soak it all in.
  • It is an opportunity to not reinvent the wheel. There is something about the element of sharing that I get jazzed about. As higher ed institutions we are often in competition, but at these conferences there is a sense of care to help each other, and we share our struggles and wins so we can learn from one another. Again something magical.
  • The chance to engage with colleagues across the nation in general is a surreal experience. I am always amazed at all that we do in Higher Ed. We are changing the world and improving lives.
  • It is a very intentional time to be consumed with my work but not consumed by my job.

The root of it is returning to my why and the intention of this profession. I get all nerdy about all the things. And whereas I was definitely ready to put my out of office up last week, I am ready to get back to it this week and move forward. I don’t have a magical wand, but I am ready to help create a whole new world.

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And having a bed to myself and eating meals at my own pace wasn’t bad either for this worn out soul.

Why do you like conferences?

George Gabs

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George is always saying something that either sends us into a fit of laughter, or I am just in shock at how he little brain is working.

Here are just a few I have made note of.

Every night we spend some time processing the day and praying for help. This night we were praying for Jesus to help George as he struggles to share with his sister.

George-I think I hear Jesus.

Me-Oh yea? What is he saying?

George-I don’t know. Where is he?

Me-He lives in your heart, and mommy’s heart.

George. Yes Jesus isn’t a person, he is a present.

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George was cupping is hand weird, so I asked him what he was holding.

George-There is something wrong with my hand. 

Me-Oh yea? 

George-It’s a little tired. 

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Me-What do you want for lunch, George? 

George-Nothing. I don’t want to eat today. 

Me-Well you have to eat to grow. 

George-Well I only grow on Thursdays. 

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We were watching the Daniel Tiger episode where he was getting shots to prepare the kids for their shots.

George-Sometimes those shots hurt. But I just close my eyes and think of you, Mommy. 

Another heart warming moment was with Tom.

George-You fill my tummy with hearts. 

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We have a lot of fun stories of George procrastinating bed time and reading.

George-Mom, I have a hard time going to sleep because I just have so many books around me. I just love to read them all. 

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Another time…

George-I am going to read you a book. 

Me-Ok great. 

George as he looks at me with puppy eyes-Say the words when I turn the page. 

Me-That’s me reading, not you reading. 

George-No that’s sharing, and sharing is kind. 

Kids are gross. I asked George to blow his nose, and he wouldn’t so I lovingly helped him wipe his nose. He was so distraught that I took a booger.

George-I need to put them back. My nose is their home, and they have friends in there to keep them company. 

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Then sometimes they have wisdom. This statement was one of his late night bed time rambles that was out of the blue.

George-Everybody makes mistakes. It’s ok. Everyone makes them. Astronauts, Ava, everybody. They just happen all the time. You just try again, and then you’ll feel happy. 

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This kid also LOVES Christmas. He is the new Buddy the Elf.

Me-Do you know what is after 4th of July? 

George-What?

Me-Your Birthday

George-Then its CHRISTMAS! I love Christmas!

His birthday is in August…

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George-I love the four seasons: Summer, fall, Christmas, and winter. 

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This last summer our area suffered from some severe floods, which is the first time George has seen anything like that. We talked a lot about how floods happened and the affects of them. In our outings we kept seeing the waters change and get farther inland from the river.

George-Is our house going to be ok?

Us-Yes, we live high on a hill. 

George-Is Ms. Kim’s school (his preschool) going to be ok? 

Us-It should be. 

At this point, George is in tears. 

George-Is McDonald’s going to be ok? 

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And I saved my favorite for last.

George-Mommy, I have a big poop. It’s as big as a blue whale, but it might act like a shark whale. 

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Ahhh kids.

 

We’re Going to Be Okay

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This week we sent our little man off to school for the first time. George started preschool, and it was an emotional event for us all.

You see, George has never been in a school setting. He has been at home with my mom for the last two years and in an in-home care setting his first three years.

While we love him being at home, we knew that he needed to have some practice with the structure before he goes to Kindergarten. (In Missouri, the cutoff for Kindergarten is to be five by August 1st. Since he is late August, he will be 6 when he starts Kindergarten. I could write a whole other post why this is completely fine by us that he will have another year to mature before going to a full day of school.)

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My anxiety has been rearing it’s ugly head all week in the anticipation of letting him go.

  • What if he hates school?
  • What if he doesn’t make friends?
  • Will he remember to use his manners?
  • Will he eat food with strangers?
  • Will he remember to tell the teacher if he needs to go the bathroom?
  • Or will he forget he is in public and try to pee outside on the playground?
  • What if he stands in line like he does at gymnastics?
  • What if, what if, what if?

I felt like I was losing control in so many ways.

We read a lot of books about school. We talked about all the fun things he would do. We pumped up all the benefits and rewards of school.

However, I wasn’t the only one with anxiety. George also didn’t feel ready.

Every time we brought up school, he would start crying and say he didn’t want to leave the house. We would drive by the school, and he would tell me he wasn’t going to go.

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Then we went to meet the teacher. Oh boy. I literally had to drag George into the school and then through the halls to the class. He dug in his heels the whole way.

He started breaking down, but eventually we got him into the room with the toy stations. Then I had an emotional breakdown as I was explaining how he has been at home…in front of his teacher.

We are two peas in a pod for sure.

His teacher is a gem, and we couldn’t be luckier to have her help us transition into this.

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I just am really struggling with this age and transition. He isn’t my baby anymore. And it doesn’t make it easier that he is also having a lot of anxiety about it. I guess we are playing off of each other of not wanting to let go.

But here comes the first day of school.

He skipped proudly to the car with his new backpack.

He found his cubby and chair with ease.

He didn’t have any tears until right before Tom and I left.

However there was a moment as we were standing in line waiting for the bell to signal us into the room that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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A little girl came with big alligator tears, bubbling to her mom, “I wanna go home. I don’t wanna be here.” This was the scene I thought we were going to have so I had all the sympathy for this mom.

Then my sweet little five year old, in this very crowded hallway, walked towards this new classmate that he has never met . He says confidently to her, “It’s ok. I was a little shy too. We are gonna be ok.”

My heart exploded, and it was all I could do to not start sobbing myself.

My five year old is ready.

Yes, it is going to be scary.

Yes, there is a lot of unknown.

Yes, it is like my heart is breaking every time we drop him off.

Yes, I have lost some control.

But he is becoming his own little person, and a good little person at that.

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It was a nudge that I needed to look at my what ifs in a different way.

  • What if he makes a forever friend?
  • What if he never wants to leave school because he is having so much fun?
  • What if he learns to try new foods because he sees his friends eating?
  • What if he starts washing his hands regularly instead of just making bubbles in the sink?
  • What if he is the one in class to set an example on kindness?
  • What if, what if, what if?

This was a God moment to remind me we are ready, and we are gonna be ok.

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How did you feel on your kid’s first day of school? Does it get easier as they get older?