Monday, August 25, 2014

kindergarten kid



It happened. My baby went to kindergarten.

I'm going to be honest here and say that this transition was not easy for a single member of this family. Jess and I dreaded both the finality of a real school aged child (not a baby at all anymore!) and the decreased flexibility of a school system. Lou lost her all day best buddy. She just about died when Annabelle left and she couldn't accompany her - it made absolutely no sense to her. And Annabelle has spent the better part of the last month having bouts of extreme anxiety. Sad anxiety. A bit of terror here and there. She spent hours anticipating the unknown - basically the recipe for permanent anxiety. 

Initially I tried tough love. But it made things so much worse. I realized I needed to recognize my baby's tender heart for all the good things that it is. And I just needed to help my sensitive little wise soul prep the best she could. We started talking less about it. We talked in vague specifics. We didn't give her the time to dwell on it. Because like it or not - kindergarten would come.


A few nights before kindergarten started, I had a major come apart when I realized she had no friends in her class. And I put myself in her shoes. I realized how scary that would be for her. And so I prayed. I prayed not only that she would have peace and confidence and feel the love of everyone rooting for her. But I also prayed that she would find a friend. I prayed that her teacher would be her friend.


When she woke up this morning, she was happy. She was happy eating breakfast and putting on her new outfit, and she even let me do the double braid around her head. She giggled with Lou and was happy to take photos. But then when we left, it all came apart.

She cried all the way to school. She cried as we waited at the door. She cried as we walked down the hall. She gulped gallons of air as she tried to contain it, as she tried to be brave. I did the same.


I helped her hang up her backpack and find a place on the rug. I read the schedule to her so she'd know what to expect. And then I told her I had to go. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the education specialist standing there (she helps with any extra or special educational help and was on hand today for first day jitters). She hopped right over and said, "I'd love to sit by you! What's your name?" I told Annabelle this teacher would sit by her but I needed to go. She squeaked out an, "Okay." I kissed her. And then kissed her again. I told her I loved her and I'd be back so soon. And then I left.

Of course, she had an army of people praying for her all morning, and as I started the car and motored away, I had a secure sense that she would be just fine. When I went to pick her up, she was all smiles. She told me that the teacher who sat by her was nice. And that she liked her because she had eyes and a face like Grandma Lichelle. And she told me she made a friend. Her name is Olivia. 


I'm sure we have a few more rough mornings ahead of us, but I'm so very proud of my baby who is not at all a baby anymore. Kindergarten is the beginning of the real world. I pray that the real world will be kind to her, that her tender heart will be a force for good. And I'm so grateful for the teacher with eyes like Grandma Lichelle and a new friend named Olivia.



NOTES: She loves that Lalaloopsy backpack that our friends gave her last year for preschool. I gave her the option of getting a new one, but she didn't want one. I love that about her. Happy with what she has. (For the most part.)

Also, your eyes are not mistaken. Her teeth really are dark. A few months ago, she fell and jammed them - the front two (baby) teeth are basically dead and have discolored some. (The permanent ones aren't damaged.)

She is indeed wearing the heart necklace from last year.

I have not painted my front door yet. See last year. I did attempt a quick sanding the other day. Baby steps.

And there was a filter on this lens that I didn't notice - it makes vibrant things practically 3D. Sorry about that. (It's awesome for landscapes - not so much for humanoids.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

favorite


This is by far my favorite picture of the year (so far). It captures their pure joy in an instant - they're both reacting without measuring response. And the happiness is tangible.

We have big changes coming in the next few weeks (kindergarten for Belle, tumbling and mini-preschool for Lou), and everyone is all emotional and sensitive about the changes (a house full of girls, what can I say). A whole lot of heart achiness going on. And a whole lot of gathering any bit of bravery we have - all of us - and storing it up. And it just makes me ever so aware of and grateful for these babies of mine.


I love that they are so completely different from one another, but also so totally the same. I love that their combined bravery is bravery perfected. I love that their imaginations run the gamut from exploring the galaxy to fairy adventures, often combining worlds and ideas into plot lines that I could never create myself. I love that they both have tender hearts, that they care about feelings and have somehow learned that all that really matters at the end of the day is knowing God loves them and that under our roof, they are safe and protected and loved to their tiniest toes. I love that they love each other. 



I'm a self-proclaimed helicopter mom. I'm unashamed, and I will always be so. Their baby years - and their years with me, before they grow up - are so short. They pass so unbelievably quick. And so I will always hover and hoard them. I know people probably think I'm nuts sometimes, and honestly that's okay. Because (obviously) I'm obsessed. They are so perfect and wonderful - in the joy and the rage and the laughter and tears - there is some kind of amazing magic in being their mommy. 

Photos taken at Park Discovery in Cedar City. Basically the most amazing park we've ever been to. 







Thursday, July 31, 2014

summer magic


Summer. It's hot. I always swear that this summer is so much hotter than the last. But realistically - summer is just hot. And sometimes that means running around in the sprinklers, even in the evening. Because it's hot all day.

And sometimes, when the sun is in just the right place, and Jess is behind the camera, the sprinklers become magic. Like our very own pixie dust.












Tuesday, July 29, 2014

lou at three



Lou, at three...

+ You continue to be the happiest person we know. You are so joyful. And animated. You make our lives - and everyone you meet - so happy.

+ You're full of fire. Your temper flashes like lightning. We've done pretty well this year at helping you contain the rage. It helps that you've become basically the best communicator in our family. You're able to talk about your anger instead of lash out or fall on the floor in a demonic fit. Although sometimes you still do that...

+ You know all your letters and their sounds. A few sometimes trip you up (like G and J or Y and W), but you've done so good this year at getting them down. You love to pretend to read (like your sister) and you can sit and be read to for hours on end, just as you always have.

+ You can count to twenty and know all the basic shapes and colors. You also know our address and my phone number. You still call me Goneshell though. :)



+ You're a story teller. You re-count events, movies, vacations - in detail - for hours on end. And you're soooo serious about it. Related: You love fairy tales still - to be told them and to tell them yourself.

+ You love your hair cully (curly) or in a bun on the top of your head. 

+ You love Tinker Bell and Periwinkle and all the fairies. With your sister, you can monologue entire movies. No lie. And with the rest of your nerd alert family, you love Star Trek. You love Captain Picard and Data.

+ You love to dance and sing. You have an innate sense of rhythm and music in that soul of yours. (It makes me so happy.) When there's a particularly pretty song on, you'll close your eyes and wave your hands about, directing the piece (right on beat). You know dozens of Primary songs by heart (you have been going to Sunbeams with me since you were about 18 months old) and you always identify songs on the radio as "Daddy's fave-it," or "Dis is Mommy and Daddy's married song!" (the song from our wedding video). You also learn quicker if I can find a way to use music. You know several Articles of Faith by way of learning the songs first.



+ You love to travel and explore and hike. Your little legs can go and go and go and go. You love hotels too. We can bribe you for hours if there's a hotel at the end.

+ You insist on buckling yourself in your carseat. It's basically a battle to keep you IN your carseat now.

+ You wear size 5T clothes and size 9-10 shoes. You're growing a lot right now. Like a weed. We can't keep up. You prefer to wear skirts over shorts or pants. But you aren't too particular. You love to wear two different flip flops together. And because it is so very you, I usually let it fly (church being the only exception).

+ You don't eat a ton - we wish you'd eat more (see "worst sleeper in the whole word"). But you do eat a variety of food. You love watermelon, chicken, steak, ham (any meat), any Mexican food (Cafe Rio salad is a fave), Asian rice of any sort, Chicken Pon Pon (from a Chinese joint up the street), vanilla yogurt. 



+ You're the worst sleeper in the whole world. And that's all. (But see next point.)

+ You love milk in a sippy. Obsessed. All day and all night. It's basically a binky. I know. Awesome parenting going on here. (UPDATE: As promised, we ditched the sippies on your third birthday {three-no-sippies}. We've been preparing you for the switch for months, and you only had a night or two where you woke up screaming for it. Over a week later, and wonders - you sleep AND eat a ton. Stupid sippy.)

+ You love your dad. You've informed Belle and I on more than one occasion that he is yours and not ours. You have his face and so many of the good things about you come from him. You're a mini daddy, and he loves you so.

+ You love your sister. You are the best of friends. When Annabelle goes to preschool or tumbling you constantly ask when she'll be done, no matter how much fun we're having without her. You two can play for hours on end. Annabelle can make you laugh harder than anyone. And together, you two can accomplish anything - you make each other brave.



+ You love me too. :) I'm still the one who can read your outbursts the best. I still hear you when you don't talk, and you do the same for me. This year we've had some one on one time with Sissy in preschool, and I have to say, it's been lovely. My little sidekick.

+ You love to brush your teeth. No lie. You probably have the cleanest teeth in this family.

+ You love Dieter F. Uchtdorf. No lie. You will sit and listen to him for quite a while, particularly this message.

+ You still take one nap a a day, usually about two hours. That said, they seem to be getting shorter and shorter, and I assume you'll ditch them soon.



+ You love your white blanket. Just as much as your sister loves hers. They truly are the most beloved blankets I've ever seen.

+ Just days before your birthday, you mastered potty training. Without getting into the details (because they don't need to be shared publicly), you figured out the part that was tripping you up just days before you turned three. 

+ You love preschool because you love Annabelle's teacher (and have done a few summer programs with Annabelle). In a strange turn of events, a chance for you to attend one day a week preschool came up. And although I'm partial to hoarding my babies, I knew it would be perfect for you, so you get to go to preschool this fall! You're soooo excited.

+ You don't have a particular toy you love. You love many toys and rotate through them. Currently, your favorite is the amazing Lalaloopsy doll that Grandma Lichelle crocheted for you last year for Christmas.

+ You have a sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of your nose. I thank your daddy's redheaded freckles for sneaking into your genes. I love them so.


NOTE: Like last year, we spent your birthday in Cedar City with the Cheney side of the family. As we do, we spent time hiking, and the photos here are from Cedar Breaks. They were having their annual Wildflower Festival, and you and Annabelle did all the kid activities they had (including sidewalk chalk). We also used presents as bribery. "If you just walk for one more mile up this mountain, you can open a present!!!" We got home late that night and you had one more present to open. Aunt Kristen gave you a giant box full of the Star Trek characters (from the eighties) that you and your sister adore. You went bananas when you opened them. It's hard to tell - do you love that Captain Picard? :) Bah. I love that happy face.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

three-no-sippies



Lou:

Oh, my baby. You're getting so big! No matter. You will always be my baby. See those eyes up there? They're the same baby eyes that stared right through me, just minutes after your birth. And so I'm sure, you're still my baby. And I know those eyes still see right through me.

Loula, you continue to be the brightest spot in our family - always full of joy and laughter and sass. You're smart as a whip, and keep up with your big sister every step of the way. You're fierce and independent. You will have it your way. You have an uncanny wisdom about you and know when people need snuggles or extra love. It is your happiness that has erased many a sad day, or a sad face, or sad feelings. You are everything our family needed, exactly when we needed you.

Lydia Lou, you're no longer two. You're "three, no sippies," as you say. But you will always - always - be my baby. Sippies or not. Thank you for loving me and everyone around you. You make this world a joy.

I love you to the moon and back, and then some more.

All my love,
Mommy


at two (here and here)
at one (here and here)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

a fairy happy birthday!


For the girls' birthday party this year, I started planning a shin dig. A whoop de doo. With fairies (because this has been the year of the fairies) and a BBQ and bubbles and maybe the moon. Probably a pony. In a bounce house. Full of popcorn. 

Then Annabelle started telling me what she wanted to do. My sweet first born is basically me all over again (only with curly hair). She's a planner - detail oriented and kind of bossy. (We mean it in the most loving way, I swear!) And so she told me how it was going to go down. (Lou's at the blissful age where any party is a party, and she doesn't have much of an opinion. That will all be different next year, I'm sure.) 

She wanted to have a fairy party, yes. But she wanted to have just her bestest friend Marli come. And Marli's little sister, who is close to Lou's age. And she wanted to have a little fairy lunch. She told me she didn't want a big party. She wanted to just play with Marli and make a craft. 

Annabelle put me in charge of decorations, I planned a secret fairy craft (rainbow hand kites!), we agreed on a fairy menu, and she hired Miss Sam (her preschool teacher who runs a catering side gig) to make the cake. She described the cake she wanted, and Miss Sam wrote it down. Miss Sam cleared it with me first, and the cake you see here is the cake of Annabelle's dreams. Isn't it amazing? (Belle requested a half blue, half green cake, with pixie dust and the fairy sisters on top, and pink flowers. I found the little dolls, and Miss Sam pulled out the magic otherwise.) 

And so the party went as Annabelle planned. It was perfect. With the fairies and friends we've come to love so much this year.














Marli and Annabelle met in preschool. They became fast friends when Marli was kind to Annabelle on her first day, when she was scared. Marli's mom and I randomly volunteered to help in class a few weeks later, and we also became fast friends. Ashley has been the shoulder to lean on that I needed so very much this year. (Also, she's a hair artist. And dang, she's good.) And then there's little Layla, Marli's little sister, who is every bit the same as Lou, just a few months behind, and I simply cannot get enough of that sassy little thing. We love these friends so much and are so incredibly grateful to have found them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

gloomy jackson




So we went to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park a few weekends ago. We customarily tack on a day here after our Yellowstone trip, but this year, because we've loved it so much in the past, we decided to make a trip out of it. 



We were so excited. I love the Tetons. They're stunning. The air is clearer there. I swear life just becomes more clear in general after spending time in the Tetons.



But let me just say, the photos you see here are mostly a misrepresentation of the trip. It mostly rained. The Tetons were enshrouded in clouds. It was so bad one day, we drove back to Yellowstone



But alas, we had some moments in the sun. And it helps that Jess is one serious talent when it comes to his camera.

Let the photo dump commence. 






  


If you look closely, you'll see that this fellow has a fish in each talon.
He flew around with both for a minute before he finally had to let one
go and grab one with both claws.
We watched the whole show, and it was pretty awesome.
The girls still talk about the fish falling to the earth.

In Yellowstone at Lou's favorite - the Fountain Paint Pots.
She actually recognizes this geyser basin now, for the Pots
and goes running when she gets close.




When in Jackson (or Yellowstone) and you see a line up of cars
and people like this, you can expect to see a bear.















So in the movie "How to Train Your Dragon," Hiccup draws a
picture of Toothless the dragon in the sand.
Belle did the same here. :)









Let the record show - we cooked dinner in this rain on a camp stove.





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