Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Oldest Turns 10

Each year, I write a letter to my boys on their birthday and create a video for them recapping the year.  This is the oldest's for 2015....

My sweet boy,

10.  T-E-N.  You are ten.  A whole decade old.  I have to keep telling myself this because it is so hard to believe.  Double Digits.  The last year you will be able to show your age on your not-so-little hands.  I remember those chubby little fingers that have now grown into amazing instruments used to throw a baseball, play the cello, write and draw, give a high five, provide a helping hand, pray.

What a year it has been!  This year you were finally able to zip line for the first time.  You’ve waited a long time to do it and at last you were big enough! It is so fun to go on adventures together.  You have such a strong sense of adventure mixed with just the right amount of caution to be safe.  We had fun in many different places this year.  We especially enjoyed DC, Myrtle Beach and of course, Disney World!  How blessed we are to have opportunities to travel.   Thank you, my precious son, for not taking this for granted and for your thankful heart.

As you have grown, so has your heart.  Each year I think it can’t possibly get any bigger and each year you surprise me.  You are considerate of others feelings and are so often thinking of ways to help friends, strangers and even animals.  You make my heart grow bigger as well.

My dear young man, I love your determination.  When you decide you are going to do something, you do it!  You aren’t afraid to put in the work required to meet your goal and that is awesome.  Whether it’s getting an A on a test or being a meteorologist on TV, when you want something, you go after it.  I pray you never lose that sense of purpose.  May you remain steadfast in what you want and believe, but never be disrespectful to yourself or to others.

My beautiful son, sometimes you are just too hard on yourself.  I get it.  After all, you are your mother’s son.  I understand that when you mess up (as we all will do), there is no harder critic of yourself than you.  Please try to remember to give yourself a break and not dwell on your mistakes. Learn from them and move on.  It’s good to be determined, to do your best; to want to make the ones you love proud, but dear child know this…there is NOTHING you can do to make me love you less.  My love for you is unconditional, it can not be earned by deeds or good grades or winning games.  You don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself.  Try to find balance.   Too much of something is never a good thing.  It’s okay to put some pressure on yourself if it helps to motivate, but don’t forget the fun!  At the same time, all fun + no purpose = trouble.  Work on finding that balance.  Again I say to you, don’t dwell or beat yourself up, learn from your mistakes, move on and do your best not to repeat them. 

You are still determined to be a meteorologist and a storm chaser when you grow up.  I have no doubt you will accomplish all you set your mind to.  What fun and wonderful memories you now have of all the weather related fun we’ve had this year.  From your tour of the WDBJ7 weather studio last May, to the tour of the National Weather Service last fall, to your turn as Kidcaster on WDBJ7 in April.  My bright boy, I know you will go far.

You started playing the cello this year.  We’ve tried a couple of instruments before, but Nicholas, I do believe we have found THE ONE.  You love it!  It fills my heart with so much joy every time I hear you play.  You are such a well rounded boy; from boy scouts, to sports, to music to academics, you put your heart into all that you do and I couldn’t be more in awe.

Nicholas Gabriel, you are a blessing.  I can not thank God enough for choosing me to be your Mommy.  You have a beautiful heart, fantastic faith, an astonishing mind and a brilliant future ahead of you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your first decade; I can’t wait to witness the next!  Happy Birthday!

Love you so!

Mom

You can see his video here.

Last year's letter is here.





 




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My SOL confession

As a parent, I don't like the SOL's,  This isn't shocking, most parents don't think the SOL's are an accurate measure of a child or a school, but this post isn't about that.

My confession is that when I was in school, I loved standardized testing.  We didn't have the same SOL's that kids take today.  I don't recall the name of our day long "nerdfest," but it was some younger incarnation of today's SOL.  I do, however,  remember how happy I was when it was time to spend the whole day with just me, my brain and my No. 2 pencil.

I enjoyed how quiet it was in the class, how everyone was focused, how I didn't have to think about anything else except what I was doing at that moment.  I liked that it didn't count towards my grade so all I truly had to do was my best and there was no way it wouldn't be good enough.  Even if I "failed," I could still pass.  I loved that we were all in it together.  I liked that I could go the whole day and not be worried about if the teacher was going to call on me.  I hated being called on. I felt more pressure in having to answer a question in front of the whole class than I ever felt from test days.

The point of this post is to simply share with parents that to your kids, the SOL's may be something completely different than what they are to you. Not all kids are stressed out about it.  Some actually look forward to it.  Let's not let our distaste for the test influence how our children feel about it and cause them more stress and pressure.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy 5th birthday to my youngest

My sweet Caleb,

You came into the world without any movement, blue and quiet. But, my strong boy, that was the last time you were still and quiet!  All in one moment you brought me from joy to fear and back to joy again.  You continue to do that daily.  Do you know what else you do daily?  You fill my heart with LOVE.  You complete our family, you amaze me and you make me laugh.  You are deeply loved.

It’s hard to believe you are half a decade old.  It’s been five years since we were blessed with you my precious boy.  It sounds so cliché, but is so true….time flies!  It hasn’t always been the easiest 5 years, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

This past year has been so full and you have grown in so many ways.  Your heart is one of the biggest I’ve ever known.  You continue to show love and compassion in ways that are well beyond your years.  This doesn’t just fill your heart, but mine and your Daddy’s as well.  We pray your heart continues to grow and you continue to share it the rest of your life.

Your sense of humor is fantastic!  You laugh so easily and love to make others laugh.  May you always keep that my funny boy.

You are also brave in so many ways.  You are fearless, courageous, curious, adventurous and energetic.  Sometimes we just don’t know how you do it.  Up early every morning and never ready for bed time.  May you always have the energy and courage to do the things that really matter in life.

It has been another exciting year of firsts my beautiful boy.  Remember going to the zoo in North Carolina for the first time?  You loved the polar bears!  It was also the first time you got to do a ropes course and zip line.  You were fearless and patient!  It took time to learn how to lock and unlock yourself onto the lines, but you never got frustrated, I was so proud.  You went to the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC for the first time, too.  You were fascinated by the interactive dinosaur exhibit and getting to see the large rockets.

We also did our normal family activities this year like hiking the Cascades, going to the Safari Park, a trip to Gatlinburg, and our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, among others.  Each year our trips become even more enjoyable and I feel so blessed to get to share so many adventures with you.   I love your audacious spirit, always willing to try new things, to be brave, to learn, to have fun!

My precious son, your faith is another attribute that is well beyond your years.  You love God, you always think of ways to follow Jesus all on your own, without prompting and that, darling boy, makes my heart swell.  May your heart always be filled with love, kindness, braveness, wisdom and selflessness.  May you grow to be a strong, happy, devoted Christian man.

Please know my sweet, sweet boy, that your Daddy and I love you more and more each and every day.  Know that there is nothing you can do to change that.  Grow, my precious one, in that knowledge and go out and share that love with others.  Know that we will always be here for you, no matter what.  Know that there will be trials, but that God has equipped you with everything you need to get through them.   Keep growing in your faith, keep being exactly who God made you to be knowing that our Heavenly Father does not make mistakes and He made you!

Happy Birthday my dear one, may the coming year be your best yet!



Your annual birthday video is here

Your letter from last year is here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy 9th Birthday to my Oldest (Annual Birthday Letter)











My dear little man,

Today you are 9.  You are half way through your childhood, in only 9 more years you will be an adult. But, no matter what age you are, you will always be my baby.  It’s hard to believe that as quickly as time has passed in the past nine years that in the same amount of time, you will be ready to go out into the world on your own.  The realization of this makes me want to treasure our time even more.  I do love spending time with you Nicholas Gabriel.  You are so funny and smart.  We can have the most amazing conversations and laugh over the silliest things.  Some of my favorite times with you are just sitting on our front porch swing talking. 

I also love your adventurous spirit.  This year you were able to go snorkeling for the first time.  It was such an amazing experience.  Swimming beside you and holding your hand while we explored the reef, pointing out the fish, swimming AWAY from the barracuda, being brave, having fun, and being in awe of how clear and blue the water was and of course, making memories.  I loved watching you as you took in the beauty and the wonder of this new world you had never before seen.  So many wonderful memories.  Thank you, Nicholas, for giving me the opportunity to experience the world through your eyes and helping me to see the beauty.  Sometimes as we get older, we forget to notice how beautiful the world is.  We get so busy that we just don’t take the time to see.  I pray, my extraordinary little man, that you always remember to take the time to see the beauty around you and remember to thank God for it.  Never take for granted how blessed we are with the opportunities we have had.  Be thankful and be humble and with every opportunity, share those blessings with others.

Speaking of sharing, I am in awe of your heart.  Your willingness to help others amazes me and I also pray that you never lose that.  When you came up with the idea, all on your own, to donate money to weather disaster victims, instead of getting birthday presents, I could not contain my joy.  I have always tried to teach you and live by example that we should do all we can to help others; I am thankful that you have listened and stepped up to help fill needs when you see them.

Your first year at the “Big Kids” elementary school has been outstanding.  You have maintained straight A’s the entire year!  Please know, my bright boy, that as happy as I am that you have all A’s, what is most important is that you do your best.  I have always told you that it does not matter to me if you win or lose, if you get the best grade or the worst, as long as you truly did your best, as long as you are kind, as long as you don’t give up.  Those are the some of the things I want most for you.  Your character is more important than any grade.  The type of man you will become, the way you treat others, the life you lead, the love that you share and what you do with the blessings God has given you will always be what matters most.

This past year was the first year you played football.  You also continued with baseball and soccer.  It’s amazing to me to see how much better you’ve become!  You have really grown as an athlete.  Your first time up to bat this year you scored your team’s first home run of the season!  How exciting!  Always be a good sport, my precious son, be humble with your gifts and encourage others.  ALWAYS.  I will love you and be proud of you no matter what, but when I see you encouraging others and being a good sport, even when you are losing, I am more proud of you than if you were to hit a home run every time at bat and catch a pop fly during every inning.

In closing, my sweet boy, I will simply say I love you more and more with each passing day.  You and your brother are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the reason I am on this beautiful earth.  You help give me purpose, you fill me with love, you amaze me, you fill my heart to overflowing.  Thank you, Nicholas, for being you.

I love you!  Always and forever, to the moon and back,


Mommy

His annual birthday video can be found here.

Last year's letter can be found here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Letter to my Four Year Old










My sweet baby boy,

Yes, I know you aren’t a baby anymore, at least not chronologically.  But know that in my heart, you will always be my baby.  The fact that you are now 4 years old is hard to believe.  It is bittersweet.  I am so excited for the big boy you are becoming and sad that the time seems to be going so quickly.

To see how much you’ve grown, not just physically, but your character and personality, is astonishing.  Over the past year, you have proven to be one of the most selfless 3 year olds I have ever met.  You always think of others first.  At this young age, that blows me away.  I have seen you get a snack and when I ask why you have two, your reply is, “One is for me, one is for Nic.”  When I ask if Nic asked you to get him a snack, your reply has been, “No, I just love him so I’m going to do this for him.”  This isn’t just a rare occurrence, this happens almost on a daily basis.  If we are at a store and I offer to buy you a surprise, before saying yes, you always ask if Nic can have one too.  Your heart is amazing.  You always want to do for others, to make others happy, before thinking of yourself.  What a gift you are!  I can not tell you how much my heart swells during these daily moments.  I am blessed to be your mother.

What a year you have had my beautiful boy!  We had so many adventures, from your first trip to Tennessee, to your first helicopter ride, to your first trip to Florida!  In January we went to Rez Kidz for your birthday trip.  We had so much fun in Gatlinburg dancing and singing at your first Go Fish concert.  They are still your favorite group and your favorite song by them is Five Little Monkeys.  We were fortunate to have great weather and to be able ride on the ski lift.  I was nervous, you were not.  We spent the long weekend just being a family, enjoying the sites and celebrating you. 

Then there was Myrtle Beach.  My little beach bum, you love playing in the sand!  We had a great vacation with your favorite babysitter Nikki.  Because we had a sitter, you and your brother each got to be king for the day.  While one of you stayed with Nikki, the other went with Mommy and Daddy and we did whatever you wanted.  You wanted to ride the helicopter, so that’s what happened!  Then we went to the amusement park and had dinner.  It was a fabulous day!

Our third trip of the year was to Florida.  Just you, Mommy and Nic on our first road trip with just the three of us. It was our Mommy-son adventure!  We went to see your God-family in Naples and had a blast!  You love your God-family so much and look up to your God-brother Jacob.  We played in the pool, went to the park, the children’s museum and just spent wonderful time with them.  Before getting to Naples, we made a pit stop for a couple of days in St. Augustine.  The hotel we stayed at had its own huge water slide.  I thought you would be intimidated.  I should have known better!  I tried to go down with you the first time to keep you safe, but you didn’t need me.  You were so fast that you started down the slide without me.  From that point on, you just did it all by yourself.  You and your brother climbed those stairs and went down that slide for three full hours!  You couldn’t get enough!  Seeing your smiles and your joy made my heart overflow.  I couldn’t believe what a great little traveler you were.  We had the best road trip ever!

I almost forgot that you also went to Baltimore for the first time this year.  You got to see lots of fire trucks at the Firehouse Expo.  You still love your fire trucks and I would not be surprised at all if you grew up to be a firefighter like Mommy. 

You continue to do great in school as well.  Your teachers often have funny stories or share how helpful you are.  Again, you have an amazing heart and personality to boot!  You are doing well writing your name, as well as other small words. You love to read, color and especially love to build things. You are also great with puzzles. Your favorite thing to play with is your railroad tracks. You are constantly taking them apart and putting them back together in different configurations.  It’s the best of both worlds, a cross between building and puzzles and incorporates trains, which you are CRAZY about right now!  We are thrilled for you that you love school and love to learn.  We pray that stays with you.

My hilarious child, every day you make me laugh.  Every. Single. Day.  Without fail.  It doesn’t matter what type of day I’ve had, you can pick up on how others are feeling and know how to make them smile.  It is a gift.  You are a gift.  You have great comedic timing and a wonderful sense of humor already.  You are quite the character. 

We also see your faith growing, which is the most important.  Now, instead of saying the typical “Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayers, you want to speak from your heart.  You always take the time to thank Jesus and acknowledge Him at this young age.  We could not be happier.  My sweet, sweet boy, please know that in all of life, this is the most important.  Keep that faith, that thankfulness and that humble heart.  Always rely on God, trust Him, He knows what He’s doing! 

As I close this letter, my heart feels torn.  I am beyond happy to see what an amazing little boy you are becoming and also sad that it seems to be going all too fast.  I look forward to what this coming year holds for you.  I am blessed beyond measure that you call me “Mommy.” 

All my love forever,


Mommy

I also made a video for you again this year, like I do every year, you can watch it here.

You can also read last year's letter here.


Monday, January 13, 2014

An Update from the World's Worst Blogger

I miss my blog.  I think about blogging quite often.  A great topic comes to mind, I have a brilliant epiphany that I am compelled to share and then…..BAM!  Life happens.  I forget to blog about whatever stroke of genius graced my feeble fleeting mind.

I’m not complaining though.  While I do miss having the time to blog, I have found that the time I used to spend blogging has been replaced with other loves.  Loves that fill me even more.    I do want to get back to keeping up my blog, though.  As I looked back through the years of posts this morning, I read things that I had forgotten.  Re-reading old posts ignites memories and reminds me of things I’ve learned along this journey.  It reminded me why I blog, not only to help retain my memories and share them with my children when they are older, but also to share with others lessons and laughs.

What are the other loves that have taken away from my blog you ask?  Of course, I have my beautiful family, but they’ve been around a long time.  The big change for me has been my return to school.  Finally, I’m getting my degree and I have to tell you, it’s fantastic!  I’ve always been a bit of a nerd.  Now, I’m a full grown nerd.  I love to study, to read, to (EEEK) take tests!  As bizarre as it sounds, I find comfort in these things.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful, supportive husband and wonderful children.  They share my excitement, give me time when needed for studying and are truly happy for me.  I couldn’t do it without their love and support.  The most surprising thing to me has been math.  It was my biggest fear.  I HATED math.  My motto had always been, “What do I need it for?  I have a calculator!”  Now, with learning architectural design, math is a MUST.  When I saw my first lesson that included fractions and ratios I thought I was going to DIE.  Imagine my surprise when I aced my first math exam!  Now that I’m more than half way done and have maintained straight A’s, I can say that I actually (gulp), enjoy math.  It’s official, I’m living in bizzaro world and I love it here!

Since my last post, the boys and I took our first road trip together.  Everyone said I was crazy.  Well, duh!  What fun would life be sane?  With just my two little guys, we went to St. Augustine, FL for a couple of days before heading to see my best friend in Naples, FL for a week.  I drove the entire trip, with two kids and it was the BEST!  We used the time in the car to talk, to sing, to connect.  Still, to this day, I can not believe the boys did not fight at ALL!  It was truly a lot of prayer that helped us along our trip, I’m certain of it.  Typically, it takes about 5 minutes for arguments to start in the car, but not this trip.  It was perfect.  The weather was great; the hotel we stayed at in St. Augustine had a huge water slide that they let Caleb go down over and over and over again.  Seriously, the boys went down this slide for THREE HOURS straight!  There was a little outdoor grill beside the pool where we sat and ate lunch, we went to see the lighthouse at St. Augustine and danced on the beach to live music. It was Caleb’s first trip to Florida and it couldn’t have been better.  Then, when we arrived in Naples we had a great time with my best friend and her family (who happens to be Caleb’s Godparents).  The kids got to go to a great children’s museum, swim, play and Nic and I even went to the Keys for his first snorkeling adventure while Caleb got some one on one time with his Godmommy.   It really was perfect.















Now, my “baby” is getting ready to turn 4.  My oldest will be 9 this year.  Nine.  The last year of single digits.  This year will be our 5th anniversary.  It’s hard to believe we have been together for 6 years and married for 5.  It’s hard to remember my life before him and impossible to think of it without him, he is my soul mate, that is for sure.  Our business has grown by leaps and bounds and 2014 looks to be even better.  We are humbled and thankful.  Since my last post many lessons were learned.  There has been some family that has grown apart, new life, lives lost, some new friendships have budded and old friendships that have only strengthened.  There have been disappointments, tears and struggles.  There has also been joy, blessings and love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Annual Birthday Letter to my Oldest Son



My precious oldest son,

Today you become an eight year old.  For more than eight years you have been bringing joy to my life and those around you.  Truly, you are a blessing and an answer to many prayers.  I am thankful for you son, every single day. 

What a year it has been!  Each year we try to give you and your brother new experiences.  Not to spoil you, my sweet son, but because we want you to see how big and full of opportunity the world is.  Opportunities to help others, opportunities to be brave, opportunities to have fun, make a difference, be kind and learn something new.  It is a fact that we are blessed to live in a country where opportunities are endless.  Your own grandfathers, as well as other family members, have sacrificed to ensure that.  It’s important, my dear big boy, to always remember that and be thankful.  I’m proud of you that at such a young age, you understand that and have taken advantage of those opportunities presented to you.  Like the time we volunteered at our local food pantry, you went right to work vacuuming, setting up tables and doing whatever was asked of you with a joyful heart.  And remember your birthday last year?  Instead of presents, you asked everyone to bring supplies for the local animal shelter.  I love your giving heart.

We also visited Gatlinburg, TN for the first time this year.  We went for RezKids and had such a BLAST!   We got to worship in a fun way and even sat right in the front row at your very first concert.  We saw Go Fish and loved them!  We also rode the ski lift for the first time and it reminded us of when we parasailed.  How blessed we were that even though it was January, the weather was wonderful!

This is your last year at “little kid elementary.”  It seems like just yesterday I dropped you off for kindergarten and soon you will be heading off to third grade at the new “big boy elementary.”  You are excited and ready to go.  I am trying to slow down time.

You played soccer again this year for the Griffins and your team had a great season.  We just began baseball season and you are playing for the Angels.  I was so proud of you during the first game, you scored two runs and got one out.  Do you know what impressed me the most though?  Your sportsmanship.  As you played catcher, you congratulated every single player on the opposing team that came across home plate.  May you always keep a humble and kind heart.  Always know, my beautiful boy that I don’t care about winning or losing.  Your character is so much more important.

Again you are excelling at school.  I’m so happy that you LOVE learning, I learn something new on a daily basis from you.  Thank you for keeping me on my toes!

You are still fascinated by weather.  I understand this.  I could sit and watch tornado hunting shows with you all day (we never have, but we could)!  You check the skies daily and inform me what type of clouds there are, you search for clues about coming weather patterns and give me your forecast every single day.  You say you want to be a tornado hunter and work for NASA as a meteorologist when you grow up so you can combine your love of space and weather.  You amaze me.

I could go on and on.  I could write an entire book about how much I love you and how you amaze me, about your wonderful heart, your funny sense of humor, your amazing character and all of the things you, my precious son, have taught me.  I would rather, however, tell you those things in person….daily.

I love you Nicholas Gabriel.  I wish you the happiest of birthdays and that the coming year is your best ever.

Always and forever, to the moon and back,

Mommy

Your annual birthday video can be found here.

Last year's letter and video can be found here.