Monday, June 29, 2015

The End of an Era

I've been whispering this to close friends, afraid to shout it from the rooftops like I truly wanted to do.  It's still early, and I'm still reserved about saying it out loud, but the fact is, it only gets better with each day.

We are officially a home with no diapers or pull-ups.

3,952 days.

That's our official count.  From day one of the first child to the last day of pull-ups for the last kid.  For most of that, we had multiple children in diapers at the same time.  I clearly remember the days of three kids in diapers and how we switched to cloth diapers.

I'll miss the sweetness of a padded little bottom a bit.  But I'm loving the milestones, achievements, and explorations of my big kids. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sweet Summertime

Summer has always been a string of unorganized days haphazardly filled with whatever falls in our laps and doesn't interfere with nap time too much.  An entire decade of this as our summer strategy, y'all. 

But the winds of change have been slowly blowing across our family.  I now have 'middle age' kids rather than the Munchkin Brigade.  Nap time is way more optional now that the youngest is four instead of the oldest being four.  Summer is a whole new world full of possibilities and mosquitoes.

We hesitantly committed to swim team.  This is huge for our family.  It's a five-day-a-week commitment, plus a meet each Wednesday night.  Thomas, Sarah, Lizzie, and Anna are all participating in swim team and Daniel is taking swim lessons so he doesn't even sink some of the way.  We're at the pool from 8AM until 11AM for practice and lessons, then we hang out and play for a bit.

Y'all, this means we're out the door by 7:30AM.  Um... we don't usually roll out of bed until 7:30 and now we're up, breakfasted, and in swimsuits with our stuff gathered and walking out the door. 

Now, even on Saturdays, I'm waking up by 6:30.  Who the heck am I?

Sometimes, the early mornings get to Daniel and he rests wherever he finds an empty towel. 

 It also means that my kids are all cute and tanned out.  It means they sleep well at night.  It means we are getting in the habit of getting up and getting going earlier in the day.  It means they are growing more confident in the water.

It means that the vast majority of their summer wardrobe is made of swimsuits and t-shirts.  I'm in laundry heaven!

So here's the thing: I really thought I'd dread every single morning, waking up, pushing the kids through a morning routine, spending hours a day at the pool, hot-sticky-hotness, and the smell of chlorine stinking up the van.

Let me tell you what I've learned here at the half-way mark in our swim team season.

We pretty much love this.  It's team sports and individual sports all rolled into one.  I was afraid that our kids would balk after the first meet.  They'd had a full seven days of strokes training behind them (until swim team started, we were doggy paddlers for the most part) and I thought they would be discouraged when they didn't fare well in the races.  But they weren't.  I mean, yeah, maybe a little, but they were all so very proud of themselves for swimming the entirety of their races, regardless of where they placed.  They love hanging out with their team-mates between their scheduled events.

Our coaches are amazing, patient folks.  During time trials, when Anna swam three-quarters of the length of the pool then firmly attached herself to the ropes and staunchly refused to do anything but cry and cling to that rope?  Coach J went to her and coaxed her off the rope and then he swam next to her to the wall, encouraging her all the way.  When Sarah had a melt down over not knowing how to do a certain stroke, a coach jumped in the water and worked with her individually until Sarah had the concept down pat.  The parents, the coaches, and the team members are just a great group of folks to be spending time with.  Good thing, too, since we see them about 20 hours per week!

Possibly my favorite part of all of this, though?  Our team mascot is a cow.

Go, Cows!!!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Daniel is Four

This Parenting of the Youngest Child is a little bit heart-breaking, y'all.  I've had little ones in the house for so long and I know now that I've taken a lot of it for granted.  These years really are just a momentary vapor... even if you have a three or four year old for seven years in a row...

But enough naval gazing.  I've got a New Four Year Old to celebrate!!! 

Our church takes an annual retreat to Fall Creek Falls State Park where we spend a glorious weekend in cabins that surround a large grassy area.  There's a little stream just down the road that's perfect for canoeing and swimming (if you're a polar bear!) and baptizing.  The adults take turns helping with meals and the kids are responsible for clean up afterward and that's about all the responsibility any of us see for three days.

For the past two years, Daniel's birthday has fallen while we are enjoying the respite of the woods.  As we were coming home last year, he told us how much fun he'd had at his birthday party.  It took me a few seconds and a couple of questions to realize that the little squirt thought the entire church retreat was in honor of his birthday!! 

His lack of self-confidence worries us. 

This year we baked 150 cupcakes and took them with us on the retreat to share with all his party attendees and everyone sang 'Happy Birthday' to him.  He wore his brand new Superman shirt and sat on his Daddy's shoulders, beaming from ear to ear as he was serenaded!!  Alas, my fantastic camera was not at hand, and I have only my memory to look back on and see that sweet face!  He was high-fived at every turn all day and reveled in the spotlight as only the baby of the family knows how.

Later that afternoon, we all trekked down to the creek for baptisms for those who had accepted Christ's life-changing salvation over the past year.  The kids and adults sat or stood along the bridge as the little ones played in a little rivulet off to the side.  Daniel, after seeing the first dunking, couldn't wait to get in water deeper than his ankles.  As soon as the baptisms were over, he was hot on the heels of the older kids who were headed to diving boards that were positioned over the deeper part of the creek. 

Y'all, he had an adult with him.  They were walking along the canoe launch and Daniel overbalanced and fell in.  The sweet gentleman who was walking with Daniel grabbed him out of the water quickly, but told us how quickly Daniel was sinking for those several seconds.

Daniel's version was "I didn't sink all the way, I just sinked some of the way."  This was explained through chattering teeth as he was held bundled in a towel and being carried off by a mama who was praising God for His mercy and for our village. 

Daniel, I love you to infinity and beyond.  I love every cheesy smile and silly antic and sweet little boy kiss you bestow upon me. 

And this year, you'll have some serious swim lessons!! 


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