These kids are grossly under-represented in pictures on the blog. Their presence contributed to our life almost daily throughout the summer and continue to do so as the school year gets under way. I adore all of them and am so thankful for the dynamic of our neighborhood.
Isaac, Maggie, and Declan
We sometimes head down the street to the cul-de-sac for Lexi to practice her bike riding and Declan to practice his skateboarding. In doing so we've met a whole other group of kids. One of which is named Kai - he is in Declan's grade, but unfortunately not in his class. What a lucky find! The boys have become fast friends. Riding their bikes to one another's house and heading to the park together. Love it!
Isaac, Talin (Kai's little brother), Kai, Declan, and Nathan
Most evenings a soccer, football, or baseball game is organized and the boys play. Declan is one of the youngest and has definitely run into a few issues with this - always on the crummy team, or has trouble keeping up. But, he keeps wanting to join in the fun. I think it is good for him and will quickly make him better at sports, and maybe a little more aggressive in standing up for himself, which wouldn't hurt either. I feel so Leave it to Beaver when I yell across the street, "Declan, Dinner!!". What better way to end a day than tossing the ball around with your friends?
Maggie isn't as brave as her brother to join in the bigger kid games, but she has been lucky enough to find a very good friend in Maggie. the girls play wonderfully together which is a real testament to Maggie who just started 4th grade. Maggie always includes Lexi, even when she has friends over from school. I've never met a nice girl. I know it is super fun for Lexi because they eat lunch at the same time at school. They sit at different tables (obviously) and play on different playgrounds. But, I know it is cool for Lexi to run into Maggie and say hi to a friendly face. Maggie spent the night at our house over the summer and the girls stayed up so late chit-chatting. It was adorable.
These kids all added so much to our Summer and are already making our school year so fun!
Between the three kids, I (roughly) documented (probably in too much detail) 90 weeks of pregnancy and 72 months of baby growth.
That is a lot of documentation.
Sometimes it was an overwhelming commitment. Lots of times I wanted to quit, not do it, or I would resolve to take less pictures and write less words. But something inside me wouldn't let me stop. I have no idea what this incessant need was. Well, that's not true, I do know. The need came from a desperate attempt to hold on to the absolute best days with these three gifts. I've never taken it for granted.
Every time I sat down to write about the previous month, I couldn't stop. And the fact that I was doing it made me pay closer attention to how they were growing each month. Watching every detail, celebrating the smallest changes. So I guess what I am saying is that even though it was a pain sometimes, it really was more of a joy and I am so glad I did it. Kind of like motherhood. ☺
I recently read an article about a woman in her 40's who was laying out at a public pool, observing the dynamics around her. She talked about the 20-somethings, relaxed, laying out with their magazines, and the thirty-somethings, stressed, chasing toddlers around, unable to finish a sentence with their friend. And then she wrote about being in your 40's and how you get your time back and you can lay by the pool again with a magazine, and ironically you were wishing you were chasing your toddler around. The last sentence of the article went something like, if you have to give up a decade of yourself to something, how lucky you are that it is motherhood. It was stated so much more eloquently, I wish I could find it. It hit the nail on the head for me.
There are a lot of things I gave up for motherhood - both consciously and unconsciously. But I've never felt like that. Not for one second. Being a mother has given me so much more than I have given up. Some of it expected - some of it unexpected. But, this I know - I am a better person because of them; I have better, richer relationships - in all areas of my life - friends, family and with Adam, I make better decisions, and even when things are tough, it doesn't matter because I have them and they give me so much joy. There isn't one day that I haven't considered motherhood the greatest gift - and I was given it three times.
So, at the beginning of August when Nate turned two and my days of documenting his monthly growth came to an end and then exactly a week later my two older ones headed off to all day school, I was a bit grief stricken. It hit me hard near the end of the first week of school. Poor Adam. I would start crying at the most random times. And I'm not talking dainty little sniffles. I would describe it more as can't catch my breath, ugly crying. He would never say it, but I think he got kind of sick of it. My timing wasn't always great. I mean I was fighting back tears in my early morning yoga class. Pathetic. A big, hot, mommy mess. I baked a lot and bought the kids stuff that they didn't need (usually I am very deliberate not to do this).
But, I am slowly climbing out of my sadness. I am beginning to let myself look forward to the gain of these changes instead of just feeling the loss. First and foremost, a whole year that I get some one on one time with my toddler. He is at the best age - still a lot of baby but aware and excited about the world around him, making him a ton of fun! I'm really looking forward to spoiling him with uninterrupted time - something he has never had and greatly deserves. Plus, hello! One kid! How easy is that after juggling three? Not to brag, but I could do this with two hands tied behind my back. Second, the shift in ages and independence of both Declan and Lexi comes with so many unexpected gains. The conversations we had this summer and are having more often are so much deeper and more meaningful. The look and feel of parenting is shifting from just taking care of them to interacting and guiding them in new and fun ways. We are becoming friends with more and more families due to their new connections with kids. It is a fresh dynamic that is fun and unexpected. And finally, I am so relaxed. I am getting so much done and sleeping so well. For the first time in years I don't feel like I am going a million miles at once. I'm even contemplating some projects and attempting to complete some goals I wouldn't have even let myself think of before this point. So, it's kind of exciting.
A big black line was definitely drawn in August. The before and after. The biggest shift I have felt in years. And although I am relinquishing "what was" with tears, there is so much to look forward to I can't help but be swept up in it a bit.
So the last two years flew by faster than any other two years of my life. Seriously, this check up marked the beginning of simply annual doctor appointments for this kid. No more every few months. I say it all of the time, but where did my baby go? It certainly does not help that this kid is in a wicked hurry to grow up!
Declan and Lexi always took their doctor's appointments in stride. Neither of them ever cried when getting their shots - looking back I wonder if it was because they've always had appointments together and there is strength in that? Or, maybe it's simply, it vaccinations do not bother them that much. Either way, I always appreciated their grace. I can't remember very much of my childhood prior to first grade, but I do remember being terrified of vaccinations and screaming like a lunatic in the doctor's office. Nate must get it from me then. From the minute the nurse walked in, he was crying. When they weighed him he cried, when they measured him he cried, when they took his temperature and examined him...he cried. And when they gave him his single vaccination, he went ballistic. Well, one out of three isn't bad. Apparently you've got to have a screamer - at least in this family!
Other than that the appointment went great! And now it is a whole year before we return! And, what's even better news for Nate, he won't need any vaccinations next time!
Here are his stats. I thought for sure he was going to weigh over thirty pounds, so these kind of surprised me a bit. I guess we are turning a corner and he is kind of leaning out a bit. The kid barely eats. I don't know how he even has weight on him!
I can't believe my second is already in Kindergarten!! And in full day school at that! I'll be honest, loosing two kids to all day school in two years has been a bit of an emotional transition for me.
Lexi was slightly apprehensive about the transition too. Over the summer, anytime anyone asked her if she was excited for Kindergarten, she would answer, "Yes, but I'm totally nervous. But that's okay because it is normal." She'd always recite this with lots of hand motions and facial expression. So darn cute this girl!
The Friday before school began we learned that Mrs. MacMitchell would be her Kindergarten teacher. Again, this really meant nothing to me since I hadn't heard anything but good about the Kindergarten teachers at McAuliffe. The only thing I cared about was that this little girl Jade was in her class. They had met and played together once before through a mutual friend. And even though they weren't good friends, I thought just seeing a familiar face would make the day easier for Lexi. We had a 25% chance of the girls being in a class together so I didn't even mention it to Lexi, thinking that it probably wouldn't happen. When I texted Jade's mom on Sunday night, I couldn't believe the news that the girls were in the same class!! I immediately told Lexi who was ecstatic!
As much as I wanted to pick out Lexi's first day of school outfit, I let her. I also let her pick out her new shoes, her backpack and how we did her hair. She was very excited about all of this!
I think she looked pretty cute and Kindergarten ready!
Heading off to the same school - awesome!! She has no idea how lucky she is to have a big brother pave the way for her!
There was a slight hiccup the morning of school. Lexi woke up with a small fever. Most of the Sunday she seemed very melancholy and spent a lot of it lying on the couch. But, I thought it was just nerves. I gave her some Tylenol, which luckily worked. I wouldn't have thought anything more about it, except later that week, both of the boys came down with much stronger fevers! I'm so glad her sickness was a mild version of what they ended up catching and didn't stop her from going to the first day of school.
As we walked onto campus I could tell she was nervous, but also excited. Surprisingly, we didn't have any tears! We immediately found Jade on the playground and soon the first bell rang.
The moms were invited into the classroom for the first part of class. So I got to snap a couple of pictures. Again, I refrained from taking the amount of pictures I really wanted to take.
Looking a littler nervous
I just have to take a minute and give Nathan major props here. This kid is so good whenever I take him to school with me. He didn't make a peep while we were in Lexi's classroom. I was able to volunteer and take him to so many school events last year because he was so good. Love this kid!
He is so concerned about Lexi here
Her first day went off without a hitch! When I picked her up she was so excited, saying, "I LOVE school!". She and Jade played together, looking for roly-polys. She said they sang lots of songs, that they had THREE recesses, and that she met some new friends. She was so excited to find the beenie-boo unicorn she had been talking about all summer on her car seat when I picked her up!
We made it through the rest of the week with pretty much the same excitement. She saw Declan during the week a few times, gave Mrs. Huggins a hug, and even ate lunch at the same time as Maggie, a neighborhood friend!
First day of school frozen yogurt!
Baby brother Nate does not like saying good bye!
Jade and Lexi. We've even gotten into the habit of meeting up with Jade, her mom, and Jade's little brother Radley at the park in the lower field in that time after we pick up the girls and before we pick up the older ones. Some other little girls Lexi has spoke of is Zoe and Grace. In fact, when Lexi's Cheetos kept coming home untouched each day, I had to ask Lexi why. She is a huge Cheetos fan. She replied, "I was too busy talking to Zoe to eat." Awesome.
On Wednesdays the kids get out at the same time - Lexi loves looking for Declan as his class is brought to the front of the school.
TGIF Kindergarten donuts!
She was chosen to share on Friday - she chose her new first-day-of-school beenie boo gift!
Mrs MacMitchell - LOVE her!! She is so kind, and patient. We hit the jack pot in the teacher category this year!
On Friday Lexi had a few tears when I dropped her off, but nothing like I had been expecting.
Then the second week hit. It was much harder than the first week. Every day there were tears when I dropped her off...and not small ones. "This is too hard Mom. I can't do this. I miss you so much." All said while hanging onto my leg and hand for dear life. On Tuesday of the second week I was told she cried all day. All day. Well, of course this just tore me up. But, we muddled through. And even though she (and truthfully I) are having a hard time with the transition, there are so many signs that we are in store for a great year. We just have to get through this hiccup. I love her teacher, feel so fortunate that Jade is in her class and that our families are becoming fast friends. But most of all, Lexi loves learning.
Even through all the tears last week, she had so much to tell me about school. She loves reading the morning message that Mrs. MacMitchell writes every morning, and speaks about creative creature stories. Last week I even caught her a couple of times, sitting, completely engaged in a pile of books. When I asked her what she was doing, she said "looking for words I know". I mean, she is soaking it all up. She brought this nursery rhyme book home on Thursday and I've never seen her more proud to share something she had made with me. She showed me how she colored each page, and highlighted the sight words they had been working on. Then she recited each nursery rhyme. She was so excited I had to get a video of her. She got kind of goofy once she knew I was videoing it, but the point still comes across.
So, although we're working through some separation issues, I have very good feelings that this is going to be a great year. And, I am so proud of Lexi, our Kindergartner.
Second grade! It goes without saying...I can't believe we're already here.
As usual Declan glided into his first day of school, all smiles and excitement. This kid makes life so easy.
We found out the Friday evening before school began that his teacher was Mrs. Zimmerman. This meant absolutely nothing to me. I purposely did not ask around a lot about the second grade teachers, because I didn't want to go in with any preconceived notions.
But, later that night we were playing at the park and of course the neighborhood kids were a buzz with the teacher news. As sad as I was that summer was coming to an end, I have to admit, it was fun getting caught up in the excitement and the newness of the year that lay ahead.
Well, it turns out that our good friend Maggie had Mrs. Zimmerman for both first and second grade and could not stop raving about her. I think she was more excited for Declan than Declan was. Well this did my heart good. I couldn't have been happier.
Monday morning rolled around and this kid strolled into the school like the Big Man on Campus. This is the first year of elementary school that we've had the pleasure of actually returning (reminder Oxford Prep drama) for a second year. What a difference to walk on campus knowing everyone and getting swept up in the fun. Even I was on kind of a first day of school high.
Declan was high-fiving with kids walking down the hall and saying hi to what felt like everyone. He met and played with a lot of kids around the neighborhood this summer and of course knew a lot of kids from last year. Although I've always known Declan is extremely out going, I saw him in a whole new light this first morning of school. So confident and happy. He knows no boundaries and assumes everyone is his friend. In the two weeks the kids have been in school I ask him almost every day who he played with and every day he names someone new. It is such a pleasure to observe his openness to people and his ability to make friends. It took all of my restraint and will power not to take photos that morning.
We walked into his classroom and met Mrs Zimmerman. Even if Maggie hadn't prepped me with accolades of Mrs. Zimmerman, I would have known from our first conversation that this year is going to be great. We hit it off immediately. I always prep Declan's teachers with info on his auditory processing and was delighted to learn that her daughter struggled in the same area. (Although I have to say, I notice this issue less and less as Declan gets older). When I mentioned to Mrs Zimmerman that I would love to help out if she ever needs photographs of the children, she made me feel soooo good when she replied, "Oh! I heard about you! I'm so excited you are in my class!". Well I don't have to tell you that absolutely made my day. It's going to be a great year!
After school that first day we even received a text from Mrs Huggins asking how Declan's day was. I feel so lucky for the community we've built at this school and the incredible luck we've had with teachers! I mean really, his teacher from last year checking in to make sure he had a good first day!?
First day of school frozen yogurt (along with every body else!). Man was that place packed!
Declan came home from school that first day - actually every day that first week - bouncing off the walls with excitement. It took me back a little bit. Last year we definitely had more of an adjustment period. It was his first year going all day and his first year at McAuliffe elementary school. For a couple of months he had a hard time saying good bye in the morning. He would never cry, but would walk slowly away from me at the back gate, his head hanging and turning around every couple of feet to wave good bye. Oh it hurt my heart. Not this year. He barely hugs me good bye in the mornings. Of course I would rather have it this way, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I miss his young innocence.
Here is a small video of him talking about his first day of school. He is playing with the Lego I bought him. I've never done this before, but I bought each of the kids a small toy that I had sitting on their car seats when I picked them up. This was mainly because I was worried about Lexi and wanted to surprise them with something fun. It was also because I missed them and just wanted to spoil them. ☺
For the record, I have asked him every day since school started, "What was your favorite thing about today?" and he always responds with excitement, "Everything!! I love school!". It almost hurts my feelings a little bit. Doesn't he miss summer (and me) at all? Just a little bit? ☺Ha, ha! Seriously though, I am so proud of him!
Nathan had a few rough mornings saying good bye to his siblings. This picture was taken after a small melt down when Declan hugged him good bye. No doubt the little guy (and me of course) miss these two.
First TGIF donut breakfast with our second grader and kindergartner!
I was able to snag a quick picture of Declan with his buddies; Preston has the blond hair and Sean is in the blue shirt. Declan talks about Sean a lot.
I've never felt so good about a school year as I do this year! I can't wait to see what it will bring!
The last night of summer. I wanted to go out with a bang.
In case it isn't super obvious by now, I was dreading this day all summer long. It was hard enough saying good bye to Declan last year to the all day school schedule, but to send Lexi off a year later broke my heart. Both of them gone all day? I still feel so jipped and irritated. Plus, our school started 2 weeks earlier than almost everyone we hang out with. Double lame. There wasn't a day that went by this summer that I didn't think about it and feel sorry for myself over it. I was careful not to wallow in my misery in front of the kiddos though. Anytime the subject of school came up I was very sing-songy. Anyway, I'll stop bitching about it now. It is what it is.
I thought a fun way to end the summer would be a camp out in the back yard. The kids were ecstatic when I suggested it. So, Saturday night I popped up our gigantic 10 man tent, blew up some air mattresses and out we went for our last summer adventure!
Wishing we were at the beginning of summer when Declan wrote out our summer bucket list, instead of at the end.
We must bring as many stuffed animals as we can - it is a 10 person tent after all!
I told the kids to bring their summer journals so we could reminisce and I made a little slideshow of all the fun things we did. Lexi drew me this sweet picture and Declan wrote me a little note.
His red cheeks giving away the fact that we spent a great day at the beach.
The moon was almost full, adding to the fun. It was also the last night of a meteor shower. So we set the alarm for 1:30am hoping to catch a glimpse of it. Unfortunately the lights from the city made it too hard to see any shooting stars. But, we tried!
I am not good with selfies, at all! It was so hard getting a picture of the three of us with no light. But the attempts led to lots of giggles!
We played uno and ate licorice without brushing our teeth after!
And, we watched this slideshow a few times talking about our favorite summer memories. It was such a fun, special night. There isn't a doubt in my mind we'll be doing it next summer too...probably with Nathan in the mix.
Honestly, what an incredible summer it was with these kids! We put all of our energy and hearts into making it great and living it up. What a gift it is to be able to hang out with them all day!
Say it isn't so. The last week of summer. What. a. bummer. Ugh! We kept the week a little lighter than normal, trying to rest up a little before the big change. Plus we had to fit in some necessary errands; like hair cuts, new shoe shopping, and of course school supplies! Other than that, we hit up the beach and pool as much as possible. And even squeezed in a play date at home which both of the kids had been asking for all summer with the Nichols and Conans. I didn't snap any pictures that morning because, well 9 kids. Enough said. We started out the week strong, celebrating Nathan's 2nd birthday at Newport Dunes and kept the beach trend going all week! Excuse the overload of beach pics. I was obviously trying desperately to save every last minute of summer. ☼
We gladly accepted an invitation to swim at Abby and Evan's pool one morning. Abby was a little girl in Declan's class from last year and it was good to see them again before starting school.
Either Declan likes holding kids in water or kids like to be held by him. I can't pinpoint which it is.
Nate's obsession with toy guns
We enjoyed our usual Wednesday night at Califia, with plenty of big waves, trains, and fun with our good friends!
LOVE Micha's new fins.
these two are so goofy
practicing her modeling poses
Can I just say, this girl shot up this summer. So many people have commented on how tall she has grown. I remember when I got this suit and it seemed to big for her. Now it barely covers her tushy.
a little game of football with the boys
These kids will always have my heart. What memories we made this summer!
We spent some lazy afternoons building cities. One of my favorite ways they play together.
We met up with the Abbott girls for a fun morning at the botanical gardens, followed by frozen yogurt!
end of summer hug
Declan was having eye trouble during out group picture :(. Loved our adventures with these girls this summer!
We seem to be spending a lot of time with these families lately and I couldn't be happier about it! We loved our Friday night pizza at South Ponto with the Conans and Nichols! So awesome hanging with the dads at the beach too!
Daddy, Nathan, Lee, and Asher
John is an excellent sand crab catcher!
I mean, is that my kid out in those waves. What a difference a summer makes!!
We headed right back to South Ponto on Saturday morning to meet up with the Joneses and some college friends. What fun it was to catch up and reminisce the old days! It was an awesome last beach day of summer. Long and absolutely perfect. It's funny, we've been back to the beach since the kids started school and it just doesn't feel quite the same. Weird how that happens.
Anyway, again - love seeing these kids kill it in the water. These last couple of weeks were truly spectacular with their growth. Have I mentioned how excited I am for next summer!?
Dads always dig the best holes.
and take their daughters in the most awesome waves.
And just like that it was over. This summer was definitely one for the books!