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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Firsts

I'm an introvert, through and through. Most people assume I'm an extrovert, because I do like to have people around - I actually love a houseful of friends or family. I have a hard time staying home alone, and when Cliff is away for a day or a weekend, I NEED to invite someone over, just to keep me company and help me to entertain my kids! It may sound strange to many (I know some people LOVE being alone), but it just feels like I can't find my purpose when I'm alone.
 
The one descriptor of an introvert that describes me to a T is the thought that introverts process thoughts and feelings internally, rather than sharing them with everyone and gathering input. In a large group of people, I'm more of the listener at the table, than the talker. I'm the one with my ear bouncing from conversation to conversation, but barely opening my mouth. I prefer small gatherings over large groups and I prefer a corner booth at a quiet, intimate restaurant over a loud and crowded sports bar any day. 
 
From my experience, introverts don't make very good bloggers and here's why...
 
 I LOVE reading blog posts in which the blogger is trying to work through something and is looking for advice or suggestions, sharing trials and tribulations, etc. - literally bringing you right into their challenge / problem / concern and asking for your help   ...or not. Maybe they're not asking for suggestions or advice or help, but just openly sharing with you what they're going through. It really makes me feel connected, to learn that they have similar challenges, that they have weaknesses too. All too often in the world of blogs and pinterest and perfectly printed photo Christmas cards and custom printed birthday invitations and parties that look like they were fully sponsored by a design company, we (I) feel inadequate. When Gavin attends a friend's birthday party and we receive in the mail the very next day a professionally printed thank you card complete with a photo of him with the birthday boy, I feel as though that is the standard and I need to do the same. What we tend to see these days (and what we tend to share with others) is the airbrushed version of real life. The edited clips. However, what makes a relationship stronger, what makes people really connect on an intimate level, is exposing our struggles and our trials and supporting eachother through them.  The blogs I really love to read are those that are open and raw and real. Sure, I love to look at beautiful photographs and get ideas on organizing and time-management from those who seems to "have it all together", but what I value most is a blog that is in-the-moment. Another way to look at it is to think about how you feel when you walk into a friend's house and dinner is cooking and maybe that friend is helping the kids with their homework while chopping vegetables or setting the table. You can just step right in and help set the table, or plop down and pour yourself a glass of wine. It's very comfortable - much moreso than walking in with dinner perfectly set on the table, no kids or homework in sight, and nowhere to sit that you aren't afraid of messing up the cushions or pillows.
 
So, it seems I have a double standard...  because although I'm a sharer, I tend to not share issues and worries until I've already worked through them internally. That's not to say I don't lean on my close friends and family when I need some advice or an ear to listen - I certainly do that! I just kind of wait to blog about it or talk about it with a big group until I've kinda figured it out or am through the worst of it. So, where does this all bring us?  
 

Yep, School started. Duh. I am sure you know that school has started  - a whopping three weeks ago! What you probably don’t realize is that it has turned our household upside down, or at least it has turned me upside down. Which...  explains why I am JUST now writing about it. 
You see, my little baby boy gets on a school bus every morning and heads off to school and I don’t see or hear a peep from him all day long until he gets back off that bus nine long hours later. The crazy thing about it?... Other than being a bit more tired and wanting a little more downtime at home, this huge transition really didn’t even faze him. ( I tried to spell that “phase” and it autocorrected me! Oops!)
He was ready. He is five - almost six - and is back at the same wonderful small school that he went to for Pre-K (4K) last year. Last year he attended the half-time Pre-K program, which was all day, three days per week. This year, he is in full-time Kindergarten, so all day, all five days a week. I admit I was a little nervous for him (or maybe more for me?). I wasn’t so much worried about how things would go once he made it to school, but this year he is taking the school bus to and from school and I definitely had some concerns about that. Yes, I was the parent who called the bus garage no fewer than three times before the start of the school year, just to make sure everything was in order. My little guy has to transfer buses at our town’s biggest public elementary school both in the morning and in the afternoon. To top it off, he doesn’t just need to remember two bus numbers - he has to remember three, because the transfer bus in the morning is not the same as the transfer bus in the afternoon. My goodness, that’s a lot for a little guy who has never ridden the school bus before, who can’t yet read, and who is still learning his double-digit numbers. He has told me a few times that he has gotten on the wrong bus during the transfer, although he is quite a story-teller so I am not entirely sure how much truth there is in these stories. I can attest, however, that the bus DID forget to turn down our road to drop him off after school a couple of times, but quickly turned around and had him home within 5 or 10 minutes. I would have thought that was a tall tale too if I hadn't seen the bus go right by with my own eyes!



 
So... like I said, school is actually going really well... I think! Gosh, now I'm second-guessing! I haven't heard more than a peep from his teacher or the school and I'm taking that as a good sign. That too, though, is hard to accept. I guess I'm just used to being more involved in his day. Over the summer when we had a babysitter, I would get texts telling me what they were up to and photos of the kids having fun and getting into mischief and at the end of the day I got the whole rundown of the day with all of it's ups and downs and curvy turns. Sure, I can get Gavin to share little snippets with me if I ask in just the right way, but most of the time, I am clueless. Honestly? What got me through those first few days of school bus worry? Our bus driver. Yep, our school bus drivers do a dry run of their routes the week before school starts and they offer a little extra "run-through" for preschoolers, kindergarteners, or kids that are new to taking the bus. So, a few days before the first day of school, our bus driver called and left a message saying he'd be doing his dry-run the next day and asked us to call him back and let him know if we wanted to take 20 minutes to meet him and go through a few things. Seriously? Best investment of 20 minutes ever. He prepped me on the phone to have my camera ready and pretend like it is the first day of school, since on the actual first day of school, there wouldn't be time for staging photos, etc. I took an early lunch break and work so I could run home to be there for the dry run. The bus pulled up and Gavin was waiting at the end of our driveway in his school uniform with his backpack, thanks to our babysitter who got him all ready! I pulled up just as the bus did, and we all did introductions. We got on the bus and the driver told us a little about himself, how long he'd been driving bus, what some of his interests are, etc. He talked to Gavin about school bus safety and rules in a very child-friendly way and made Gavin feel really comfortable.
 
Our dog Drake was very interested in what was going on inside the bus too and even made his way up the steps. We all had to laugh when Drake walked down the aisle all the way to the back of the bus and then couldn't figure out how to get turned around and had to hobble backwards back up the aisle!  
 
 
 
After going over the school bus safety rules and teaching Gavin a few little rhymes to remember some of the rules, he took us for a short ride through the country. We probably only traveled about 5 miles but it gave Gavin a chance to see what familiar places and things look like from inside the bus and he also had a chance to practice some of the safety rules like "bottom to bottom and back to back", the way the driver reminds the kids to sit in their seats with their bottom on the bottom of the seat and their back to the back of the seat.  
 
 
Here is the view of "The Farm" through the center window and the view of our house through the window on the right.  They're about 2/3 mile apart, but it doesn't look so far in this photo! Just think that nearly every one of those buildings is much bigger than our house is.
 
 
This little rascal even had the opportunity to sit in the driver's seat and "steer" while I took pictures. I'm telling you, this bus driver has done this a time or two before! (He knew I was going to be a crazy camera-carrying mom!)
 
 
 
 
That awesome experience had Gavin so prepared for the real first bus ride on his first day of school! In the last three weeks, we have battled some over-tiredness, some difficulty getting up and out the door in the mornings, and a tiny bit of crankiness stemming from the anxiety of something new and different, but overall, we are having a really great school year so far!
 
 
 
 
On the first day of school, Addison got to wait for the school bus with Gavin before heading off to daycare. Isn't this the sweetest thing ever? He was telling her "Someday you'll get to ride on the school bus too, Addison!" My heart melted right then and there!  
 
 
 
and this picture was taken just before my mama-tears began to flow! I wasn't sad really. I was nervous for him. I was nervous that my little guy was going to navigate all of this new stuff on his own - that I wasn't going to be there to show him which bus to get on, or to remind him to grab his backpack on his way off the bus, or to tell him I love him one more time before he walked into school! The moment the school bus door closed behind him I felt the tears coming. I turned and looked at Cliff and lost it. One good, strong, lovin hug from Cliff though and I was all better. I'm happy to say everyone is doing great! Now that we've all worked through it and I know everything is fine, I can blog about it.  :)  Thanks for sticking with me when it's quiet out here. Just know I'm probably working through something and will be back online when I've got it figured out!
 


 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cousins

 


This is my sweet little niece Julija with my little Addison.
They are almost exactly one month apart.
 
Seeing them here reminds me of my sister Kristin and me when we were little. We are two and a half years apart, but most of the time, those years didn't make a difference. We were and still are the best of friends. Julija is Kristin's middle girl (Kristin has an almost 4 year old, an almost 2 year old, and an almost two WEEK old!). Shortly after my Gavin was born, Kristin was expecting her little Amelija. Gavin and Amelija will be close friends some day, but Amelija will be four in a month and Gavin is almost six, and for some reason, they nearly pull each other's hair out right now. I have a strong feeling they'll rely on eachother one day and will be so appreciative to have each other for cousins.
 
Julija and Addison are just a month apart and get along so well, although they don't see eachother more than a few times a year. Here they are, over a year ago, before Addison could even sit up on her own.  
 
 
Julija and Addison.
 
 
Addison and Julija.
 
 
They coulnd't be more different.
 
 
...but they sure do seem to love each other's company!
 
I have a cousin that I sort of "grew up with". She lived over 4 hours away, so I really only ever saw her once or twice a year and she was a year older than me, but we wrote letters back and forth for years! We still keep in close contact even though she still lives over 4 hours away, in a different city. Her kids are in college and mine are in daycare, but that doesn't seem to matter. I often would spend a week at her house in the summer time when we were growing up as my parents traveled down there a few times each year. It just so happened that she is a cousin on my Mom's side of the family, but lived in the town where my Dad's side of the family lived. To make it even more convenient - my Mom's family and my Dad's family both had summer family reunions, a week apart! So, I would see her at my Mom's family reunion and then I'd go home with her family and stay for a week until my parents drove to her small town for my Dad's family reunion. I have many, many memories of those summer "vacations" with her. I don't have very many really "old" friendships as I moved away from the area I grew up in right after high school, but this one stands the test of time! Cousins (and siblings) can often make the very best friends!  She is still one of my best friends and one of those unique friendships where you can literally pick right up after not talking for nearly a year, as if you just spoke yesterday. 
 
Do you have a relative or friend like that?
 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Mornings

 
 
This little turkey, she makes a great alarm clock. Actually, I should call her a little rooster! She wakes us up between 6:30 and 7:30 by calling to us from her crib in her room. Sometimes she wakes up crying, but often she just calls out to us in her surprisingly loud and curt tone, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" or every once in a while, I'll get lucky and she'll shout "Dad! Dad!"
 
When we go into her room, we prop her door open (for some reason that one door always swings closed, so we keep a door stop just inside her room), then we turn off her sound machine. She doesn't like a wet diaper, so she wants it off right away. (She also knows that if she has a poopy diaper during the night, we'll get her up and change her. I think she's not always sure when it's morning and when it's still night time, so if she wants to get out of bed, she tells us she's poopy, even when she's not.) After turning off her sound machine, we walk to her crib and she reaches for her diaper and says "poopy" or "poopies". She leans over the crib rail as we reach for her, falling into our arms. She lays her head down on your shoulder, wraps her tiny little arms around your neck and gives the best snuggle ever. Typically we bring her into our room and plop her onto our bed. She wants to be undressed immediately and she lays down on our pile of pillows. She gives the very best morning snuggles and if Cliff is awake and in bed, she'll crawl over to him, plop down heavily on his tummy and lay her head on his chest and say "Nuggo. Daddy Nuggo." as she snuggles daddy.  
 
 
These little curls? They get me every time! They're soft and whispy and sweet as can be.


As soon as she's decided she's finished snuggling, she is quick to ask for the TV to be turned on. She used to call the TV a "Tee", but she has recently tried harded to say TV and instead calls it a "bvee-bee." She gets to climb around on our bed and watch Curious George for 15 minutes while we get dressed for work.

 
She loves to play in the curtains, roll around on the bed, bring us books to read, play ring-around the rosie on our bed until she gets dizzy and loses her balance (gives us a hear attack!) and watch TV in the mornings! She always comes in and checks on us if one of us is in the shower, which nearly always results in a puddle of shower water on the floor. She is a little turkey!
 
 
ring around the rosie
 
 
 and she's as sweet as can be
 



 
 When Addison is done playing in our room she wants to do one of two things, "EAT!" or "OUTSIDE!" The girl is an outdoorsman through and through. The only thing more fun that being outside is eating! Sometimes she wants to do both! "Eat. Peas. Ow-tide. Peas." Hey, she's got her manners down! Everything these days is followed with a please, or "peas" as she says. Soon Gavin gets up. Sometimes he comes up as we're getting ready for the day and sometimes he sleeps late. When left on his own, he sleeps until anywhere from 7:30 to 9:30! When he wakes up on his own, he is nearly always in a great mood, full of snuggles and ready for the day! This guy needs his sleep!

 
On these beautiful late-summer mornings, you'll usually find us out on the front porch first thing. The kids are often snuggling our kitten or our dog, or both, and are often eating breakfast at the same time! 



 




I'm savoring these mornings. Even though I still need to go to work most days, the summer mornings are something special. They're slower-paced, more relaxed. The kids usually get to stay home with a babysitter, they don't have to be fed, dressed, and out the door. The sun is up early and I have time to enjoy a cup of coffee before I have to kick into high gear. It's lovely. Soon school will start. Addison has already started daycare for the school-year, so I'm out the door with her way earlier than I'd prefer in the mornings. I thank God each day that I got to have a three-day weekend with these two every single week this summer. I'll miss our Friday "stay-home days" when Gavin's starts school next week! I guess I'll savor our weekends even more! I love fall. I'm looking forward to the kids getting back into a routine. I think the slow pace of a summer at home has really been good for them though! They're both going to grow and change so much this school year! I'll cherish these sweet summer mornings forever!