George Turns Eight

We are going blindly into each new phase, just hoping that we are creating good core memories and raising a good human being. Most days I go to bed thinking how I could have done better, been more present, shown more patience, etc, etc, etc.

George, however, had a big year regardless of my over-worrying. Being our first born, he continues to show me the way.

We really turned a corner in school this year. This last year came with many learning moments, advocating for his needs, and trying different approaches to his education. He has been a little wild since the day he was born, and we definitely saw him mature over the last year to settle in at school. He has learned so much, and now he is a reading machine. Tom and I cannot spell things out in code anymore because he catches on faster than I can get the letters out. He also continues to challenge me to not project my definition of success on to him. Every day, I am also learning from him to be patient and lean into alternatives to be intentional with him. As he is learning about the world, he continues to open my eyes right along with him. I am so excited to see how he continues to grow this next year.

He is starting to hone in on his interests. He is really loving soccer, and with each season, you can see his determination grow. While I am sure we will continue to see his signature helicopter move for a few seasons to come, he has started to show some real promise and skill. He joined Cub Scouts this year, and from the first meeting, I knew that we had found his thing. He has loved every activity and moment as a scout. He cannot contain his excitement at each event, and it is so fun to watch the joy he has. It’s definitely a core memory watching him place at his first Pinewood Derby contest. He also dialed in on Star Wars, Pokemon, and Minecraft this year in a way I was not prepared for. So many times this year, he has shocked me with his understanding of the complexities of these universes.

The dynamics of relationships this year made a switch. It was very evident that we had entered the big kid phase. We are now in the stage that not everyone is automatically his best friend, and friend groups are being made. You can see little pieces of his innocence falling off as we have to step up our game in the types of conversations we had. We talked through how he navigates relationships with kids who are being unkind and how to remain true to who you are even when the crowd is going in a different direction. You never want to see your kid go through these challenges of peer pressure, but we have had to have hard conversations about our actions and what they say to others. There have been moments that we watched him struggle and as much as I want to shield him forever, I cannot. At the end of the day, I am so proud that George walks confidently in who he is mostly unabashed about what others think of him. I wish I had even an ounce of his confidence and carefreeness, because he either thinks everyone loves him or he does not seem to be bothered when they don’t. We received many comments from teachers about how kind he is and how he would tell classmates no when difficult situation arose. He is also extremely loyal to his people. If he has imprinted on you, you now have a hype squad for life. It was so fun to watch him create those connections this year.

Ultimately, this kid is too cool for me. He is so smart and follows his dad in quick wit. He tugs at my heartstrings. He is hilarious and creative. He is passionate and strong-willed. He can deliver the best stories and the strongest hugs. He finds the silver lining in everything and finds the meaning to things that others may have cast away. He is always a little wild from the way his hair constantly stands straight up or the way he brings his energy into every room he enters. Nothing is simple with this kid except that he has my heart forever.

Having him changed me forever, in the best and messiest kind of ways.

Daphne is Five!

As we rode to school today, Daphne squealed, “This is the best day of my life!”

She has been counting down the days until she turns five. One whole hand!

I truly do not have the words to express the light that this little girl exudes. But I am going to attempt anyway.

Here are five things to know about this beautiful soul.

  1. She is the best sister. She adores both of her brothers. She wants to do everything that George does. She thinks the world of him, and she easily follows along to all his interests. When it comes to Wally, she is so sweet to him and caters to his every need. She wants to entertain him and comfort him all day long. She is the perfect middle to this brother sandwich.
  2. Daphne pays attention to the tiniest of details. She loves playing with tiny things, and has a story of the why to every detail. She doesn’t forget the importance of every step of the process and is meticulous to layer every piece as elaborately as needed. It’s as though everything she touches becomes ornate.
  3. She is the biggest bucket filler. Along with paying attention to details on things, she also does this with people. She feeds into others so easily. She is always taking in people’s favorite things and interests and recalls them at later points in order to fill that person up. She is constantly trying to make things because she knows they are something we like or reminds her of her friends. She is a great gift giver and friend because of how she wants to make others feel seen.
  4. She is as stubborn as a mule. I am really getting payback on this one. She is giving me a run for my money on being stubborn. She knows how to dig her heels in when she has an opinion on something. She also does not like to be wrong, so she digs in there too just to prove a point. She doesn’t fall far from the tree on that one….She also wants to know the reason for everything, and she won’t let simple answers go. She is relentless on asking for why.
  5. At the same time, Daphne is very tenderhearted and loyal. She believes in the best in people. It has been really fun to see her at school this year and see how she is developing friendships. While she has this eternal optimism about her, it can take her a while to warm up to strangers. But once she does, she is stuck to you for life. If that wall has come down, she gives her whole self into that relationship and becomes your ride or die with her loyalty.

She is a sweet human, and I feel blessed to have her. Sometimes I feel like we are raising each other. I am definitely not the same person I was the day she was born. I am growing right alongside her.

This has been a big year for her, and she has grown so much-physically and mentally. I am constantly amazed seeing what she is capable of. I am so proud of her, and I am in awe of her.

Five whole years with this little person.

Experiencing the Middle

Tomorrow Daphne starts school. This is significant and I have many emotions, but at the same time it feels so different than when we started school with George.

George was our first. We didn’t know what to expect with him. I was overcome with fear and anxiety on how the experience would be for him.

With Daph, we are more familiar with the process, and she will even have the same teacher that George did in preschool. We know that she is in the best hands to bring her into the school atmosphere. She will be just down the hall from George, and there is comfort knowing they will be so close together. He has already said he will watch for her at recess.

But there are still emotions being here in the middle with her.

I don’t have the fear of the unknown like the first time around, but I also know she isn’t my last. I feel excited for her. We all seem more ready for the experience. I don’t feel the hesitation that I did with George, nor the bittersweet that I know will come with Wally being our last.

Do I worry about how the experience will go for her? I mean come on, have you met me? I am always riddled with anxiety, however, I am finding myself at peace much quicker with her. I am so excited to see her go off to school.

She has never been out of our house for any type of school, and one hour of gymnastics once a week for the last year is most social interaction she has gotten outside of our family. So in a sense there is still a lot of unknown of how she will engage with her peers. But I know as soon as she warms up, she is going to make some great connections.

I really feel like she is going to soar. The brain on this child is limitless, and I know we have only tapped into a small portion of her capabilities here at home. She has a heart of gold, and the kindness that she has for others will take her far. She is the type of child who will flourish in a school atmosphere, and I can’t wait to hear all about her experience. This time around all I can think of is all the great things she will have access to and how much she will enjoy things. I am not worried about letting go with her at all.

Which is somewhat weird because I am sad thinking of some day this little girl won’t sneak into my bed and her sweet little voice will be a distant memory. Also you would think being a female, I would be worried about all the social pieces that come down the road with her and school. But I am not worried at all. I am ready to see how she embraces the challenge and confronts the pressure head on. She is so strong-willed and tough as nails. I don’t know what it is about this transition that seems just so natural and normal for her, and again there is so much peace with her going. She is far more a stronger person than I ever was, and she is so smart and capable.

Maybe there is just so much going on around in our lives that I just don’t have time to really wallow in how she is growing as I did with George. Who knows?! But I will take not having a breakdown in front of her teacher because I am so caught up in the ‘what if’ emotions.

She has been living in George’s shadow for most of her life, and now Wally takes up some of the attention that was aimed at her. Again, she is our middle. So I am thankful to see her go off into school where she can start making her own path independent of her brothers.

With George I think we were all scared when this day came because it was all new to us. When it comes to Wally’s time, I know I will be the most emotional parent there because it will be a sign of all the littleness leaving our house. So for now, with Daph, we are able to really sink into this time and enjoy it. It is nice to experience it like this for our middle child.

Here’s to you Daph and all the things you will learn this year, and the person you are becoming.

George Turns Seven

Lucky seven.

I was processing George growing another year older, and I think with every age, there is a different kind of weight to it.

But with seven, it’s like all that was of being little is gone. We have truly entered the big kid years.

George had so many pivotal moments this last year, most notably starting school and becoming a big brother again.

It was so fun, and emotional, to see George becoming a person away from our family unit. He now has a whole life that we are on the periphery of. He has relationships and experiences that we are not instigating, which is hard to let go of, but magical at the same time.

Seeing George this last year has highlighted his strengths, but also reminded me that I have no idea what I am doing as a parent still.

He is a full throttle kind of dude. When he zones in on something, he is all in. He has unwavering commitment to people and ideas. When George is determined to do something, we best be getting out of his way. It has been a challenge to parent him at times to understand where is the line to give him the freedom to be his own boss, but also letting him know when there are limitations. We don’t need to supervise him as much, but he still does need guidance because he is seven. There is definitely a balance that we are working through to expose him to new ideas and tap into his natural curiosity. I want him to have that kind of passion in his life. I want him be able to dedicate himself fully to projects and relationships, but I also want him to do it strategically and in a healthy way.

We have entered a new phase where he questions logic on everything, and the little kid magic is starting to disappear. It was quite the difference watching him react to Disney versus his sister. He wanted to break down the logistics of how rides work, who was behind the costume, and let everyone know that it wasn’t real. We are entering into more intense conversations of real world things especially as he engages with people more outside of our family. It is exciting to see him develop his world-view but also a part of me is sad the days of Christmas Tree Truck guy is gone.

He still loves to play though, his stories and worlds have just evolved. I love watching him create these different scenes and act out his characters. He is so good with details and setting up entire landscapes. If you were to come into our house, his room is constantly a construction zone due to Lego City government and trying to navigate the dinosaurs that have escaped Camp Cretaceous. Our living room is actually a war zone with hundreds of Army men, or squadrons in his terms, that are ready to get on the helicopters he strategically has in safe zones. The sun room is the new wild west with an elaborate train system getting people to and fro. On the driveway, he has his “mud creek” construction team who is always changing the layouts of piping and blocks to help with the rain fall. My new favorite is playing Harry Potter with him where we basically play an elaborate hide and seek game around the yard screaming spells at each other.

George is incredibly smart. He takes in information like a sponge. He loves to give you random facts about things, and he always has something to say about every subject. ALWAYS something to say and a story to tell.

On the flip side though, he is one of those people that if he does not care about the topic, he is not going to put his energy into it. For example, he says he hates reading and writing. However, he loves to make signs for the various worlds he has created with toys, and cataloging his finds in his notebook. But, because he has chosen the topic, he perfects the writing. We have had to navigate some pieces here since at school you don’t always get to choose the topic or activity or timing. So we are constantly trying to be creative on how to refocus his energy and tailor it to him, but also work within other’s expectations.

If he does focus and put his energy towards something, watch out. I truly believe that he is the type of person who is going to invent some thing some day or cure cancer because he doesn’t think in conventional methods. His mind is always going trying to see beyond the simple and dissect things. That’s why it is so hard with academics. I want him to do well and succeed, but at the same time his intelligence cannot be harnessed in the same way that I defined academic success. It’s definitely a humble reminder especially since my job is student success on the college level.

I am in awe of his confidence and passion. While it is sad to leave the littleness behind, I am excited to see what the new year brings and see where his interests continue to take shape.

If you will excuse me, this newly seven year old wants to make a tornado in our kitchen.

George Turns SIX

Every year I have this avoidance to George turning another year older. I mean didn’t we just celebrate one? I ask myself how can this be?

But here we are, six years old.

Not that I am a seasoned parent or by any means an expert at anything with motherhood, however George has taught me a lot by making me a mom.

In honor of his sixth birthday today, here are six things that I have learned from my first born.

  • Imagination is not to be fooled with.

This kid comes up with the most creative creations. He is really good at coming up with storylines and rethinking how to use things. His room is a total mess, which is something I have to let go of because he had dreamed up that he built a fort, a railway, or channels for a boat system. Things are not always what they seem. He has taught me so much about looking beyond the confines of normalcy and not sticking within the lines. I need to be able to let him loose with his ideas and hold on to his plans for creations because that will serve him well later on in life.

  • There is always reason to celebrate.

George is always ready to party. He loves ALL holidays and relishes in decorating our house with all the things. He is always asking what the next holiday is, and you can see his eyes just gleam from the excitement. He also is just so excited about the little things. He loves to create opportunities to rejoice in the day to day things. And he is so appreciative of the celebrations. “Treat yo’ self” is his mantra. And celebrations always bring on sugary treats, which are always necessary!

  • A hug is always a good remedy.

If anyone knows me well, they know that I am not a hugger. These are reserved for very few folks in my life, and I will not usually volunteer to do them. However, this kid has melted me down. He is the best hugger ever. And touch has got to be one of his love languages, because he gives about a million hugs a day. In our embraces we have so many meaningful moments. Sometimes they are breakthroughs from arguments and power struggles. Sometimes they are to comfort us when we are sad to just let someone know we are there. Sometimes they are just to remind each other of our immense love for one another. It is hard to not feel some goodness when you have your arms wrapped around someone else. They have definitely been mood stabilizers for us over the last six years. Hugs are George’s love currency.

  • Plans are not always what they are cracked up to be.

George has been “lovingly” reminding us lately that “sometimes plans change, and that’s ok.” This is honestly one of the biggest lessons for me as someone who loves to have a plan and a list at hand. Plans are my way to control things. If there is anything about parenthood that is constant is that plans are going to change. Literally from the moment George was conceived, things are not as I planned them. I didn’t imagine finding out that I was pregnant at a fertility specialist. I didn’t plan on delivering my baby 3 weeks early and having to deal with the NICU. I didn’t plan on littering my house with Legos. But things happen, and that’s ok. I have had to learn a lot about acceptance and letting things be as they may instead of trying to predict and control it all. George is also not a kid who is easily controlled for he often has plans of his own that do not align with mine…

  • Patience

And that leads us to patience. What parent doesn’t say that they have learned patience with parenting? Or better yet, it has showed me how impatient I really am. Along the same lines as the plans, I have to remember that I cannot make George make the decisions that I want him to. He is becoming his own person. And with that he has to make mistakes and make messes of things so he can learn for the next time. It’s these moments that it could be so easy for me to just swoop in and make things happen or to banish him to his room because I just can’t take it anymore. I have to give him opportunities to make his own decisions even if they aren’t the ones that I think are best. It’s the only way he will learn how to work with others, do chores, or clean up his own mistakes. I cannot be a fixer all the time or just yell at him for not putting away his clothes for the millionth time. Patience and prayer my friends.

  • I have learned the most about love.

I thought I knew a lot about what love should be and could be. But until I had George, I never really knew the magnitude of what love could do to you as a being. I mean I love Tom, but there is something about a kid that changes every piece of who you are. There is more love than I could ever imagine. And a lot of that is because of who George is. He loves so immensely and with his whole little body that it is hard not to want to experience that with him. He has taught me that true love means forgiveness and letting things go. He has taught me that true love sometimes also means tough love and not letting you off the hook when you are wrong. He taught me that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved so fully. He has taught me so much about filling other people’s cups and being thoughtful with my interactions. He has taught me that love is a safe place to snuggle into at the end of the day. George is love through and through. And being loved by him is nothing short of magical.

Y’all this boy is everything that I never knew I needed. He is funny, smart, witty, and just a delight to be around. He is a ray of sunshine that just loves everyone around him so fully. He is confident and unapologetically himself ALL THE TIME. I love how he brings out the goofy in all of us, and the energy he exudes helps you to feel freedom when you are with him.

Although some day I do hope that he stops wearing his clothes inside out and backwards…Just saying.

Yesterday I asked him what he wanted to do on his last day as a five year old. He told me that there wasn’t anything left to do and that he was ready to be six. I responded with asking what he was excited about with being six, and he told me he was ready to go to school. So we have a big year ahead of us with Kindergarten on the horizon, and then becoming a big brother again to our newest little dude. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans he gets us into this year.

Happy Birthday Georgie Man. We love you big kid!