Friday, August 22, 2014

To all the Daddies

My Dad and his wife Kathy (Gigi to the kids) came for a brief visit in June. The visits though nice are always too short. Although my Dad is retired, Kathy is still working and between caring for her parents, my Dad's Mom and also squeezing in visits to all their grandchildren - they just don't have tons of vacation time. We take what we can get and the kids always enjoy spending time with both of them. Because Melissa and I are separated by a good ole' 30 minute drive, we try to do joint functions when they are here visiting so that they can get as much time with us and the kids as possible. Our kids, of course jump at any chance to be together so it works out well. 

I don't have a ton of childhood memories of moments with my Mom or Dad..they kind of trickle in here and there and sometimes a new one will come to me out of the blue. According to a therapist that I met with some after my parents separated, once you are emotionally traumatized by something like a can experience some memory loss and I would say that has been pretty accurate for me. My older sisters seem to remember TONS more about how Mom and Dad were and  what our growing up years were like. I listen real hard when we are together and old things come up in conversation, because for me - there's just not much I remember. Some things I do remember about Dad in particular: 
~he brushed my hair sometimes when I got out of the bath and I remember liking the way he brushed my hair (random, I know but it's a memory I have)
~he liked to see us have a good time whether that was wrestling with us, turning "garage door riding" into a sport or running around letting us ride on the car trailer...the man can turn anything...any object into some kind of ride/toy for entertainment and he still does all of the above with our kids and it's part of why they love him so. 
~he was incredibly proud of my ability on the soccer field and not only let me know, it but others too and after games when I was slap wore out he would sit me on the end of a seat/tailgate and take my cleats, socks and shin guards off for me and now as a parent I realize that was a selfless act and it stuck with me...sometimes when I'm weary but I'm washing my kids faces or brushing their teeth or combing their hair I realize that now it doesn't mean much but one day it might. 
~he and Mom both worked REALLY hard and he has always taken pride in his work. He takes the whole "do it right the first time" to a whole new epic level and it has transferred to my sisters and I. Although at times it can be a frustrating characteristic, it is also one that makes us incredibly dependable and trustworthy people and I'm thankful for that. 
~He doesn't really meet a stranger. He'll talk to someone at the gas station or a drive through or anywhere really like he's known them for's been that way for as long as I can remember. I find it endearing and I would say both myself and my middle child have a smidge of that outgoing nature ;). 

In light of June being Father's Day month I just want to capture these things...these memories that endear me to him. It's fun now getting to see the things that endear my kids to him...

For Father's Day at our house, the girls and I planned to cook a big country breakfast for Tim. It's no secret....Tim likes to eat and you know what they say: "the way to a man's heart". Kennedy wanted to participate in the breakfast preparations, even if it meant I had to wake her up. I did have to wake her up, but she was so excited to be doing something special for Daddy that she didn't care. Here are my helpers rolling and cutting out biscuits. 

 Cooking up some sausage. 
 I can't recall everything that was on the menu, but I think we had biscuits, sausage, eggs, bacon, cheesy grits, pineapple, coffee and juice. I think I'm safe in saying he was excited and enjoyed every bite. Yum!

Before we left for church I wanted to get some pictures of the kids and their Daddy on Father's Day. It's always a challenge to get three kids smiling/looking in the right direction, but I think we got some cute ones. 
Oh, when I try to find the words to describe this tell him how much he means to us as "Daddy" it just feels impossible. The road we've walked together has not always been easy but it does get easier to walk together if that makes sense. Becoming Mom and Dad rather than just Husband and makes things more complex, you know? I love a lot of things about Tim, but the way he is with my kids - it beats ALL. He plays with them, snuggles them, is proud of them, encourages them, teaches them, is patient with them, prays for them, is selfless with them but mostly he's THERE...he prioritizes them...listening to them and being the best Dad he knows how to be. I cannot imagine a better man for them to call Daddy and I'm incredibly grateful that God paired us and then gifted us with these little people - they have given us purpose beyond imagination and they've given us a drive to be the best team we can be for them and I'm thankful for that.  
 We love you Tim!

To wrap this Daddy post up, I want to talk about a man I wasn't born a daughter to, but by marriage have become one to. Tim is a blend of his Mom and Dad and I get to know them more and more as the years go by which helps to understand their son as well. I still feel like I have so much to learn - distance and work life separates us from them, but I hope that is not always the case. It likely won't shock anyone when I share that Tim comes from an incredibly quiet home (opposites attract, right?). When we were dating and engaged I often wondered "what do they think of me...of us...we are such different people"? I'll never forget something his Dad said on the night of our rehearsal dinner. Speaking to me, he shared with me that he and Tim's Mom had been praying for me for years. He explained that he didn't know it was me they were praying for but that they were praying for whoever God had for their son. Wow. I can't explain what that has meant. I've thought about that statement in good times and in bad reassures me to know that this relationship was prayed over before it ever existed and I'm thankful that his Dad felt that a priority while Tim was growing up. I want to one day be able to say the same to each of my children's spouses. Speaking of prayer, prayer is something Tim's Dad does for us often. He has prayed for us before meals, before travel, while bringing children into this world and after...each prayer so personal, so can't be explained but it's something I treasure and appreciate and just love. Tim and I pray with our kids on a regular basis now but I hope we always, always pray with them...when they struggle, when their questioning, when they are thankful, when they are married, when they have kids, etc. I'm thankful for the example we're being will inevitably leave a's already leaving an impression. 
I love you three men and I'm grateful for what you've been and what you'll be. I hope you each felt honored this Father's Day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

School's out for Summer!

Don't you know that our highest summer priority was time at the POOL?!? I tried having Kennedy make a summer to-do wish list, like anything she wanted to do over her time home with the kids and I for the summer. Let's just say we'll try that concept again next year because it looked a little like this: 

~Go to the pool.
~Go to the pool with my cousins.
~Go to the pool with my friends. 
~Go to the YMCA pools. 

You get the idea. 

As much as the pool + pregnancy + 3 kiddos to watch didn't absolutely thrill me, we made it happen and made it happen often. I'm happy to report we had no near drownings and as it turns out the pool is quite the place for pregnant people to hang out so I wasn't alone in my big bellied-ness. Now for some pictures:

 Now that Kennedy is a big swimmer, she can go down all the slides at the YMCA water park and that is BIG news folks. 
 As you already now, Kennedy did swim team this summer and shortly into her season Avery took swim lessons (part of Honey and Big Jim's bday present to her). I am SO GLAD we did lessons because both the girls had forgotten quite a bit since last summer but I also realized that Avery had developed some anxiety in the water. This class was just what she needed to get her back to a comfortable state in the water and added bonus she knew the teacher because she was one of Kennedy's coaches. For the part of the summer that Ave had lessons our schedule was a bit crazy: I'd get up super early to get breakfast prepped and pool gear loaded in the car, after breakfast we'd load up and get to Y, I would first drop littles off at child care and then run the outdoor track while K had swim practice, then pick littles up from childcare and get Avery in her swimsuit and then K and Grey and I would sit poolside while Ave had her lesson and then we'd all go to the pool for fun and stay until they were D-O-N-E. We'd eat lunch (which I had to pack the night prior to make it all happen on time) at a picnic table there by the pool and then we'd change into dry clothes and I'd have three sleeping children by the time we got home. EVERY DAY we repeated this routine for a month straight. Seriously. You'd think they got tired of it but I'm hear to tell you that they most certainly did not. 

 We went to our neighborhood a good bit in the afternoons after the kids woke up from their naps (2 times a day to the pool anyone?) but we also did some sprinkler/slip-n-slide action as well. 

 We also made a couple of trips to our local splash pad and playground combination park that's not too far. Our church hosted play dates at this particular park 4-5 times over the summer and we were able to make 2 of them. 

 This picture cracks me up. Wild child! 

 These are friends of my girls' from church. They are sisters and are very similar in age to my girls. They also have a brother who is just slightly older than Grey. It's really fun when we all get together. 
 Sweet girls!
We did manage to get into a few more things over the summer rather than just the pool. I guess when you live in the South the pool truthfully is the best place to be to beat the heat.  More on our other summer adventures to come. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It starts off kind of like a cell phone dump.....

....but it's really an "art project dump" (if you will) capped off at the end of the post with some more exciting happenings. 

 These bigger blue sheets of paper are art projects Kennedy worked on at school and I love some of them but have admitted to myself that I'll not be able to frame every art project that comes home that I love...especially knowing I'll have this quantity x 4! Happy to capture them in photo!

 In Kindergarten they would have "free centers" in place of recess on rainy or super cold days and Kennedy always chose the free painting center (shock and awe)...these are some of her creations. 
 On to Avery's creations now. The wide array of facial expressions - an added bonus. 

 A great deal of Avery's crafts at this juncture come from Sunday school and or Bible Study Fellowship, because here's the thing: creating requires sitting still and that is something Avery still has a lot to learn about ;). 
 Though in all honesty - who doesn't love a good ole' Sunday school craft on a paper plate that involves your sweet babies' hand prints? LOVE.
 I'm not entirely certain what's happening here. Let's call it abstract. She is proud of it no matter and thus I am as well. 
 The more exciting happenings around this "art dump" photo session time was Kennedy's Kindergarten program in June. The whole elementary school did a Fam Jam day where all the family was invited to come and kind of celebrate the success of the year and hear what the kids had learned. They sang some songs like "Kindergarten Rocks" and a sweet little ditty about Moms and Dads that made this pregnant lady tear up. It was really cute and Kennedy thoroughly enjoyed herself and having people there to watch her. She pretty much looked like this the entire time: 
Kennedy was one of 4 or 5 kids chosen to read their "What I learned in Kindergarten" papers aloud during the performance. For those who don't read phonetic kindergarten writing...I'll interpret: "I learned how to read. This is important because if I had a stack of papers I had to read, I would not be able to read them. I learned how to make a friend. If you be a friend, you will be making one too."
I thought this paper that they sent home in a special packet of things for the parents was a riot. These were posted for the new kindergartners to read on their open house night. Too funny!
 Here are her Kindergarten teachers: Mrs. Haywood and Mr. McAuley
 & her best friend S.
 Following the ceremony they had a little cake reception and the girls were of course all about that part. 
 Honey & Big Jim cam to Fam Jam...
 & so did Nana. 
 My sweet and handsome husband was having trouble eeking out a smile for this family photo op so this is the best we've got :0. 
 A few days after Fam Jam, we wrapped up our first year at UA. I really do love her school. I feel so fortunate to be a part of such an involved program...parents, teachers, students - everyone pitching in and helping out - it's awesome. UA summers are short as they are on a year round calendar. Despite being a bit behind in blogging I still think it's crazy that as I write about her first year wrapping up, a new one has already begun. just flies on by. 
Kennedy was really emotional the day before her last day of school. She was crying as I picked her up from carpool and because she's not typically a crier I was like "oh no, what happened"? The teachers had evidently started prepping them for the fact that her exact class of herself + her 19 friends would be split into different first grade classes the next year. She was distraught about knowing that her entire class wouldn't move directly from K to first and all stay together. My heart hurt for her as I'm sure that's tough, though I don't specifically recall that from my K to 1st transition. I reassured her that she'd see her friends at recess and lunch and that they'd still get to play together and what not. Well, I was concerned her last day would be super tough and potentially even more emotional, so I coordinated an after school lunch date (the last day was a 1/2 day)  with her BFF to ease the pain and it was a huge success. These girls giggled and played and left happy campers. We assured them we'd get them together lots over their break and we made good on that promise! More of that to come. 

On Kennedy's first day of Kindergarten (7-25-13) I asked her some questions and I thought this would be a good post to add those to. 
Favorite color: Light Purple
Favorite TV Show: America's Funniest Home Videos (haha)
Favorite Movie: Sleeping Beauty
Who is your Best Friend: Becca 
What is your favorite thing to do: Color
What do you love most about Avery: That she helps me clean up
Greyson: his laugh
Daddy: He helps me with stuff sometimes. 
Mommy: Thankful she makes us food everyday
What do you want to be when you grow up: A babysitter
What is your favorite food: Cheese
What are you looking forward to most about Kindergarten: seeing the cafeteria

I loved all those answers and now that we've started 1st grade I've asked her the exact same questions...funny how a year changes things ;).