Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Back to School and our Pencils are Sharp!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a nervous wreck the first day of Pre-K.  It's not because it was Paisley's first time going to school or because I was worried he wouldn't do well; we were entering into a "big" school, the local elementary school.  Gone were the days of the private nursery school and here we were with supply lists and book fees.  I wasn't ready, but the little guy was.  And that's all that mattered.
I think I was embarrassing him
The day before his first day of school, Paisley asked if we could run into town to get a few things he "needed" for school.  Knowing we had already purchased his school supplies, I asked what items he needed.  His response, "bath gel (peach scented) and a haircut."  How could I deny a boy who wanted to be well groomed and smell good?

Scott and I were very upbeat and excited towards Paisley about his first day at his new school.  I swallowed my fear and put on a smile as we ate a good breakfast and packed his backpack with sharp new crayons and enough glue sticks to craft for the next 3 years.  We took the traditional first day of school picture and down the road we went.

He was ready! So was his sister!
We had been in the class a few days prior during a meet-the-teacher event.  Paisley was able to introduce himself to her, see where he would hang his backpack and where he would sit.  Now here we were walking back into the classroom, but I would leaving fairly soon and he would take his seat next to his peers.  He got his supplies put away and took his seat at a table.  I was relieved ( I am sure he was too) that so many of the students in his class were children he had spent the last 2 years attending nursery school with.  Without a moment of hesitation, my big (little) boy gave me a kiss good-bye and I walked out the door.  I may have turned around to catch a peek and he was already busy coloring on the blank sheet of paper that had been placed in front of him.

Ready to go!
I didn't cry, but I did feel a small lump form in my throat.  Wasn't this boy just learning to say "Mama" a few years ago?  My happiness at having this confident boy that entered a new school like it was no big deal overtook the lump and kept it at bay.  I had wanted to tell his teacher so many things about him; like he can be very quiet but it's not because he's disinterested, but because he's taking in everything that is happening around him.  I wanted to tell her that he loves to be helpful and would happily help her with any tasks around the classroom.  I wanted to say that he can be sensitive and sometimes wears his heart on the very edge of his sleeve.  But I knew she would figure all that out.

Pick-up time rolled around and despite the clock showing he had only been gone for 3 hours, it felt much longer.  I wanted to hear every detail about everything.  As the door flew open at 2:45 and little people emerged into sunlight, heads spinning left and right looking for their parents, I saw a familiar blonde head step into the sunshine.  His blue eyes were sparkling and as they landed on my face, a huge smile erupted on his.  He sprinted my direction, his backpack bouncing with every step.  Arms wrapped around my waist and he was back in my protective arms.

School's out!!
As we walked to the car I asked if he had fun, a simple "yeah," followed by a smile and those twinkling eyes let me know that he had a good day.  I think he's going to do just fine in this new chapter of his life.  I think I will too.  


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

His Day, the BIG 5!!

On the eve of our boy turning 5, I can't help but go back to the night in the hospital before his birth.  The clarity of the details of the evening and early morning hours are so crystal clear.  I can feel the emotions that coursed through my body and the energy of the operating room as I was quickly brought in.  I am so grateful to remember those details so strongly and welcome their visit on this one night a year.

Earlier in the day, we kicked off his celebration and headed into town.  He picked Mr. Gatti's for lunch followed by a trip to the mall to ride the carousel.  Since he will spend 1/2 of his birthday at school, I wanted to let him do a few fun things the day before!  I'm pretty sure he thinks 2 days of celebrating are the norm!

Our sweet 5 year old birthday boy rolled out of bed with a smile on his face.  He knew it was a big deal to be 5.  I swear he even looked a little taller!  He requested breakfast at Denny's and Nana and Papaw met us there, bringing a gift or two.  After breakfast we headed back to the farm to get ready for school!

He was very excited to take Paw Patrol cup cakes into his class!  I had mixed emotions on sending our newly 5 year old birthday boy off to school, as this was the first birthday I didn't get to be with him all day.  His excitement of celebrating at school quickly replaced my mixed emotions and a smile didn't leave my face the rest of the day.

Someone was happy the birthday boy was home from school
After school he was so proud to show me the birthday pencil and crazy straw that his teacher gave him to celebrate his big day.  We anxiously waited for daddy to come home so we could eat Paisley's dinner of choice....grilled burgers!

After dinner was over it was time for cupcakes and gifts!!  Little sister was more than happy to let her brother have the spotlight for the day and was as excited watching him open gifts as she was for her own birthday.

In the blink of an eye we were tucking our sweet big boy into bed.  His grin spread from ear to ear and I'm pretty sure he was about to pop from happiness.  Scott and I couldn't be more proud of this hard working, sweet boy and can't wait to see what he does in the future.  

Wellness visit stats  Height 3ft 6in., Weight 40lbs.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Her Day, The BIG 3

"I'm Free(3)!!"-Lila  
This little girl was so excited to climb into bed, knowing in the morning she would be "3."  Although she is still undecided on if that makes her a "big girl" or if she's still a "little girl" she was excited to put up another finger to show people her age.

She started her birthday week taking cupcakes to share with her friends and library staff during story/craft time.  After requesting (and eating) her favorite breakfast (oatmeal) on her birthday morning, we went to Donut Bank for donuts.  Nana and Daddy surprised our little 3 year old and she happily scarfed down sugary treats and opened a few surprises.
Mini-breakfast party
Our next stop was Toy's R Us!  Paisley got to celebrate his birthday a little early as the store gave both kids their birthday crowns and balloons.  I also let both kids pick out a birthday present.  I never walk into a toy store and let the kids pick something out, but I wanted to give my birthday babies a day they would never forget.  I explained to Paisley that since he would be in school for 1/2 the day on his birthday, we were celebrating him a little early.  He didn't mind!

Birthday Babies!
Our next stop was the carousel on the mall! The spoiling continued after their ride and Lila picked Great Harvest for lunch.  Another surprise visitor met us there...Papaw!! After having full bellies and a new toy to play with, it was time to head home!

Papaw and a new Doc doll
The rest of the day the kids played and waited for daddy to come home from work.  I told Lila I would make her whatever she wanted for dinner and she requested homemade pizza.  After we ate pizza, it was time for cupcakes and presents!!  Her brother was a little green with envy as his baby sister got to pick all the activities and food for the day.
If there was a bubble above her head it would say "Don't blow out my candles."
After the dinner dishes were cleared, the cupcakes were brought out.  We lit candles and sang another round of Happy Birthday to our girl.  She tore through her Hello Kitty wrapped gifts and kindly shared her new toys with her brother that teetered between looking happy for his sister and sick with envy.

We tucked our birthday girl into bed and she was all smiles.  We can't wait to see what her next year of life brings.  Above all we are so grateful that she's healthy, happy and 3!!

Stats from her wellness visit: Height 2ft 11.5in., weight 29lbs. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Untimely Reunion

Finding beauty amidst the sadness
Despite the date lit up on my computer screen, I couldn't believe it'd been over 15 years since graduating high school.  I still remembered the sound of lockers being slammed, the excitement of pep rallies, and the smell of the cafeteria.  When information about our 15 year class reunion began circulating a couple years back, I smiled at those days so long ago then deleted the information.  I still spoke with those I was close to but didn't feel a need to attend the event.  Without giving it a second thought, the class reunion came and went.

A few weeks ago, via Facebook, I learned that one of my classmates had gone missing in Kentucky Lake. He was someone whom fought and beat cancer, not once but twice a few years before.  Over the next 24 hours I kept my eyes on Facebook hoping for news he had been found alive.  Roughly 48 hours later I got news that his body had been found.  He was gone.  

The news hit harder than expected.  I hadn't physically seen him or spoke in person to him in years. Our memories happened so long ago in what now feels like another lifetime.  Yet hearing of his passing threw me back into my senior year of high school.  At that time I had a crush on this boy and even told another girl to steer clear!  My senior book has photos of his face randomly taped throughout.  It was a high school crush that filled the heart of my 17 year old self.

After high school we took different paths and made different friends.  Facebook filled in the years between as it does with so many people in our lives.  His pictures showed that his boyish good looks followed him as he turned into a handsome man.  I knew from his posts that the kindness he had in high school had not been lost over the years.  And in that instant on Kentucky was over.

I arrived at the showing on the arm of my best friend from high school.  As we walked up we ran into one of his best friends, another classmate I hadn't seen in years.  I gave my condolences and in the next breath stated how good it was to see him.  This was a theme that continued as we made our way through the funeral home, embracing friends from years before.  All the "boys" that I watched play football and basketball had been replaced by men.  The girls I had slumber parties with and told my secrets had turned into women with families of their own.  Had so much time really passed since the last time I saw these once so familiar faces?  My sadness over the occasion had to share space with the greatfulness I felt for these people that were there.  The friends I had shared a part of my life with, a group of people that I am forever linked to despite time passed or distance that separates.  It was a welcome emotion in the midst of the sadness.

The casket and flowers were perfect.  His smiling photos surrounded us as we spoke to his parents.  I couldn't keep the fiery tears that pooled in the corners of my eyes under control as we reminisced with our old friends.  Final condolences paired with hugs were given and promises of seeing one another soon were spoken.  We slipped into the hot summer sun and drove away from the little town that had originally brought us all together.

I felt guilty that so much time had passed since seeing or speaking to some of these people that I shared an early part of my life with.  I also felt thankful that it isn't too late to reconnect and spend more time with this crew going forward.  When my 20 year reunion invite arrives, not only am I excited to RSVP, but I will be looking forward to it.

Death isn't the end, only a new beginning.      
Jesse Nickens 1980-2016