I’ve Got Something to Tell You

I’ve got something to tell you.

Putting George in gymnastics ranks in the top 3 hardest things I have had to do parenting him.

Since he is not in daycare or around other kids his age besides in church, we really felt that he needed some structured time with kids. He is going to go to preschool next year, and we didn’t want that to be the first time he had a structured learning environment. He needs to learn some social norms like how to stand in line and taking turns, and you know not scream in excitement at our friends.

I’ve got something to tell you.

What I didn’t realize is that this gymnastics adventure would be as much of a learning opportunity for me as it was for him.

I won’t lie. It has been a struggle for him. He is very much used to one on one attention and guidance. To go into an environment where there were a lot of rules and 10+ other 4 year olds was a lot to take in.

He has cut in lines, walked off to other areas in the gym without his teachers, and also had a hard time keeping his hands to himself. And paying attention when there are so many moving parts in that gym is very difficult for him.

There were many days that he cried when we got there because he didn’t want to go, and then he would cry when it was done because he didn’t want to leave.

On more than one occasion George was not the only one crying.

I hate to admit it, but there were times I had to intervene and pull him out of the class to take a breather because his energy was a like a tornado  in a shop full of Precious Moment figurines.

I’ve got something to tell you.

This was the first time I realized in full that my role as a parent is to raise him to let him go. I had many feelings when I took him to the sitter for the first time when he was two months old. I knew then I was letting go of pieces of his childhood, but this experience has been different. I had to sit up and watch George just be, while having very little to no control over him. I had to watch him stumble and fall and pick himself back up time and time again. I had to watch him get reprimanded not only by his teachers but also his peers. I saw him be bullied, and I saw him be the bully. Being just a witness of the class showed things that made me cry on the way home and worry if we were doing things all wrong. I didn’t want to be that mom that intervened every time he took a misstep. I knew in the long run that stepping in defeated the purpose of him being there. There was no way for me to support him in the moment except by holding my breath and throwing up a lot of prayers that he could start containing himself and following instructions. I wanted him to make friends instead of getting laughed at for being the “wild one.” I just watched everything unfold from the bleachers. It was my Type A nightmare. I had to let him go. I had to let my control go and let George figure out how to be George independently of his family—independent of me.

I’ve got something to tell you.

We both grew from this last year.

Week to week, I saw George make improvements.

I saw him learn other kid’s names.

I saw him stand in line.

I saw him do “tricks” that he was scared to try that first day.

I saw him become more confident and proud of himself.

I saw him work hard to control his body and follow the rules.

I saw him start keeping his friends accountable to the rules like they had been keeping him accountable.

I saw him have a lot of great moments.

I also saw myself changing.

Over these months, I stopped worrying about what the other moms were thinking of my wild child. I started enjoying watching him just have the time of his life. I started soaking in how George is just as Georgie as he can be in every moment. I started realizing I was trying to force George into this perfect little box because of my societal expectations. I started relaxing and not dreading what trouble he would find himself in that day. I just let us both be, and we praised the wins and talked through the struggles on the way home. These days became our time together to grow, and I am so thankful for that.

I’ve got something to tell you.

I am so proud of this kid. This was a new adventure for us, and I am not sure who it was harder for. Letting go of our normal so he can start learning how to be a person was hard. Since he is home all the time, we have had a security blanket over him. I am terrified to lose my little snuggle bug, but at the same time I am so excited to see the littler person he is becoming. Most days George guided me along. We had to have some tough conversations following up on his behaviors after watching from the peanut gallery. I had to learn to navigate this weird area of parenting where I have to let him fumble his way through without wrapping him up in my mommy bubble wrap, and instead processed our day after the fact with “learning opportunities.” This parenting gig was really unfolding before me, and I see many processing car rides in our future.

These one hour classes where not ever perfect. But no one is. All I know is, he always went into every new trick with a big smile and great gusto like I have never seen.

Well except this time.

And this week was his last gymnastics class for awhile possibly ever if he seems to like soccer more. There was a moment where I watched him politely tell a girl “You are being mean and that hurts my feelings.” And then watch him quietly move away from the problem. Months ago, George would have yelled and caused a huge scene. Displaying his emotions appropriately is not always his strong suit. It was in this quiet moment that I realized even more so how every day now I have to let little pieces of him go so he can learn. I have to trust this process of growing up and letting him be. He is listening and learning. It may not always be on my timeline, but he is growing to be the best George he knows how to be today.

He is fearless and wonderful, but he is going to make mistakes. Watching this class from the bleachers reminded me that I cannot protect and shield him forever. It was hard to let that go because you want so much for your kids. And watching them struggle to fit in is never fun. But I also have to trust that we are giving George the tools to handle himself.

Gosh he is a sweet little boy, and I love him to pieces. He is just so uniquely George, and I can’t be mad about that even if it means he is not going to the Olympics some day for a great parallel bar routine. Our sermon today was about prioritizing love over rules, and gymnastics was our current real word example of that. George needs my love, and I need to be more forgiving of my rules, society rules, and expectations to be perfect every moment.

I’ve got something to tell you.

Parenting is not for the weak. We learn from them just as much as we teach them.

And yes gymnastics made me super emotional. But if I have learned anything through my walk with God, is that he will use random things to teach you and mold you.

Space Birthday Party

It’s my M.O. to get behind documenting birthdays, so here we are 2 months after the fact for George’s 4th birthday.

Better late than never.

Tom is obsessed with space so when George was little, I started collecting all the space books I could for the two of them to read together. And George has also grown to love all things space, so it was only fitting to have this as one of his themes.

It was out of this world!

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My mom drew this sign. She is so talented!

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I got these treat boxes on Etsy, here. I just filled them with candy (Milky Ways, Starbursts and a star whistle). While they are cute, they take forever to cut out. If my mom had not been so patient with them, Tom and I would have given up after 2 rockets. They are a beast to put together.

My sister-in-law put together these centerpieces. Aren’t they cute with George cutouts on the planets?

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My sister-in-law also owns blow up planets for her classroom, so they came in handy for our decorations.

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I did pretty basic on the food. I got these cookies from Hy-Vee. However, I don’t think I will do that again because they were pretty pricey. Their cakes are where they are at anyway.

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As per usual, we had it in the church gym. It is so easy to do here. We had a couple activities in the gym. Daphne was just having a blast running around living her best life.

One activity was this cardboard rocket that the kids could color. I had gotten it for my niece years ago off Zulily. She gifted it down to George, so it was perfect to bring out. Unfortunately, it did not make it past the party.

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I got these balloons from Wish for like a dollar, so it was a steal! I am kicking myself for not buying more than one packet because George still asks for these.

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My mom made this meteor toss game. Seriously, she made it out of our trash and a little spray paint.

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We decided to go all out on this party, and we got a bounce house. It was totally worth every penny. Although for the size of the thing, I really paid nothing!

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I got this astronaut outfit on Amazon from Melissa and Doug. We love dress up in our house, so this has gone into our dress up box.

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My mom put aluminum foil over some rain boots. It turned out just perfect! (Also my mom was the real MVP of this party.)

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We had the best time celebrating our boy!

Putting together his birthdays are so much fun. He is the best.

Apparently so much fun, that we forgot a family photo…whoops!

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George Gabs

I could listen to George talk all day. His sweet little voice just melts my heart, and he says some of the funniest things. So I want to start documenting those things before I forget.

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Here are some of the phrases and words that he has had.

For the longest time he called his cousin Ava, Eva.

He likes to drop parts of words like “liveries” is deliveries, and “arm” is alarm.

Broccoli is “backoli.”

A piggy bank is a “moneyer.”

Uses is “oozes.”

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Caterpillar is “lalapiller.”

Pretzels is “printzels.”

He says “full it up” for fill it up. And “hot it up” to warm things.

For a long time he called a police car a race car.

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We live next to the capital of Missouri, and every time we drive by, George says “There’s the catapult.”

A yoyo is a “sticker roller.”

A peacock is a “peahock.”

Before we got chickens, he used to call them “brockers.”

A pepperoni pizza is a “macaroni pizza.” He does know the difference of pasta macaroni.

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A chimney is a “smoker arm.”

An ostrich is a “raustid.”

Fire sparks are “jumpers.”

A microwave is a “counterwave.”

He is so smart, but there are moments where he uses these phrases that remind me how small he really is.

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My Georgie

Today you turn FOUR.

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The day you were born I knew that everything I expected about parenting was thrown out the window.

Experiencing the NICU with you, I was terrified. I felt like it was a mistake to be trusted to take care of you since I couldn’t keep you out of harms way as soon as you came out. You didn’t come with an instruction book. No matter how many books or articles that I read, I knew watching your sweet face fight to breathe on your own that I would fight to catch my own breath for years to come when I look at your face.

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You are nothing like I imagined, but you are everything I need. It was no mistake that we were put together.

I still have no idea what I am doing most days, but we are on this ride together.

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You make me laugh every single day with your stories. I love listening to your sweet voice. I wish I could just record all of our conversations. You see the world for its beauty and simplicity, and you remind me all the time to pause and to breath it all in. How you piece things together is astonishing to me.

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You are so smart, and I am so proud of everything that you learned this year. You know your ABCs, and you can write most of your letters. You know how to spell your name, and you can count to 20. You love doing crafts and infusing your own imagination into it all. You sing the sweetest songs, and I hope I never forget how you sound right now. You know things like what a counter weight is and why it is necessary. You use words like humongous and adorable and a whole host of adverbs that I feel are above a 4 year olds vocabulary.

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You had new experiences this year like Vacation Bible School and Gymnastics which both made it clear you have no concept of how to stand in lines.

You are so passionate, and you love so hard. Georgie, I hope you never lose that sense of wonder towards those around you. I wish I had your confidence and commitment.

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Energy just pours out of you, and while it can be frustrating trying to reign that in at times, it is also one of the things I love most about you. When you put your mind to something, you go all in. I also love how much you release your emotions through your facial expressions. Your face tells me everything I need to know about how you are feeling inside. I hope that you never lose that sense of sharing your feelings with me or the world.

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And I forever want to remember this time where you hardly go anywhere without your purple shoes (crocs), and that you put your pants on backwards because the drawstrings give you a tail.

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Ever since you were born, God has been teaching me to let go of you and trust in the plans He has for you. You have been my greatest teacher. As I said last year, I continue to pray that I can gracefully let you go and let you grow, even though it may leave me breathless.

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Georgie, you bring so much life to our days. My favorite moment of every day is waking you up and seeing the smile on your face as you embrace the day.

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You are my bestest boy. I can’t wait to see how you continue to grow and see how you knock the wind out of me this year.

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(Re)Member Mommy

Today, George is 3 and a half.

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He is always saying to me “Member, Mommy. Insert random instructions he has for me.” He uses his pointer finger to emphasize the importance.

I do want to remember. I want to remember how quirky and fun he is. I want to remember how sweet and caring he is. I want to remember him at three.

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I wish you all could meet him in person. He is the best little boy. He is such a gift every day.

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Here is a small glimpse of our perfect little man with an “interview” with him. We told him that we needed to talk, and he turns to me and said, “Ok, Mommy. I need to talk to you too.”

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What’s your name? Georgie, Georgie Winter George (He will sometimes say his full name…George Lawson Whitener)
How old are you? four (Uhhh…)
What is your favorite color? Blue
What is your favorite animal? A gray animal like an elephant
What is your favorite book? The George Book (No idea what this book is.)
What is your favorite TV show? Team Umizoomi
What is your favorite food? chicken (Interesting because about 50% of the time he does not eat it.)
What is your favorite drink? Shake
What is your favorite breakfast food? peanut butter balls and milk
What is your favorite snack? milk (He would drink his meals if we let him.)
What is your favorite toy? Little People (These are old Fisher Price toys. He loves making a city and doing all the people.)
What is your favorite activity? To make paper flowers
What is your favorite tool? The hammer hitting tool
What do you like to do with Sister? hold her
Who is your best friend? Daddy
What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play with my firetruck
What is your favorite holiday? I want Christmas to come back.
What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Kirby
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to stay home.

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So many people have warned us about age three, but I have absolutely adored him at this age. I love talking with him and seeing him making connections to ideas. My favorite time of day is when we are doing our night-time prayers and we process the day together. He is so smart and learning with him is so refreshing.

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Yes he is a toddler who is super in tune with emotions, but I hope that we can continue to encourage him using those emotions to connect with people. He definitely wears all his emotions on his sleeve. He never ceases to amaze me about how he cares for others and wants to make sure we are all okay. More often than not he has to check on everyone in the house before he feels ok going to bed. He professes his love for us all the time. It’s these little moments that give me so much excitement, and I hope he never loses that ability (and carefreeness) to be open with his feelings. And he seriously gives the best hugs.

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His imagination is one of a kind. He does voices and really thinks through what would happen in his make believe scenarios. (However, he likes to boss you around if you play with him. You have been warned.) And his ability to stick with an activity seems unreal for a kid his age.

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He is always a little wild, and he is always going full-speed. He is all in all the time. Some days this can be difficult to harness, but I do love this quality about him. And my gosh, he is so funny.

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This boy-he is a gem. ‘Member that.