Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Open letter to my last Kindergartener

Oh, Lainey bug. I knew this day would come. The day has arrived for my last baby to head off to school. I wrote your sister a note before she started Kindergarten which you can read here and this one is the one I wrote for your brother. And now it is your turn as hard as that is to believe.  I wanted you to know a few things as our time together at home has come to a close. I apologize for how tightly I have held your hand this summer. Or how you caught me staring while you were playing. I was just trying to soak it in. Your little grin still filled with baby teeth. The way you still have a small lisp on the "th" sound. The way you furrow your brow when you are concentrating. I am trying to remember all of it.

You are my last one to start big school. Since your sister was born I have had a little one at home with me. For 10 1/2 years. I have been working part time since you were a baby but I always had at least two days a week home with you. I intentionally did not put you or your siblings in school on the days I was home so I could be with you. So for a very long time I have had a buddy to run errands with. Someone to take to the playground on sunny days or trampoline parks on rainy days. Someone to sit at the table with and talk as we ate our sandwiches at lunch.  Someone to curl up with with and watch cartoons in the mornings and walk to school with in the afternoons to pick the big kids up.

And now you are heading out the door as well. You are ready. You are beyond ready. And baby girl, as you head out the door tomorrow morning with your new backpack and your new lunchbox I want you to remember a few things.

1. Always be kind. You have such a huge heart and you love to be a friend to everyone. I pray you keep that wonderful trait always. You love to help people and I think you will have a good chance in Kindergarten. You have been up to your elementary school countless times to have lunch with your siblings or attend events but there will be a lot of kids who are new. Show them the ropes and be kind. Invite someone new to play with you on the playground. Share your crayons. Be a friend to everyone. I know you will.

2. Don't be in a rush to grow up. You want so badly to be a big kid like your siblings. You want to watch their TV shows and hang out with their friends and listen to their music. But you are only 5. Growing up happens far too fast as it it and you are only a kid once. Enjoy every second of it and hold on to your innocence as long as you can. It's such a good reminder to pause and enjoy every stage of life that you are in. And you, my dear, are in a great one!

3. Learn new things. For some reason people want to you to have things figured out at a young age. I don't know why but people put pressure on kids to pick a certain sport by a certain age and then stick with it. They want to know what you are good at and when they ask you that please say, "I don't know. I'm a kid. I like everything!" Try soccer and if you like it do another season. If you don't, then stop. Learn how to do a cartwheel, try shooting a basketball, dance to a great song, paint a picture of a flower, spike a volleyball.... try it all. That's what childhood is for! It's your chance to figure out who God made you to be. Never stop learning and never let anyone put you in a box.

4. Be patient with us. You are our baby and we have a tendency to want to keep you that way. We weren't as sad when your siblings hit milestones because we knew we still had you. Every first with you, whether it is a lost tooth or that first ride without training wheels, hits us a little harder. Show us some grace and give us a lot of hugs. A lot!

5. Don't worry if you don't have it all figured out. You will learn a lot of new things in Kindergarten and some of it will come easy to you but some things might be harder to learn. If you are having trouble with a sight word or a math equation please remember that you don't have to have it all figured out at once. That's why you go to school. To learn! Don't be afraid to ask your teachers questions or ask them if they can repeat something. You have a tendency to give up on things that don't come naturally to you but Lainey bug, you can do it!!!  As A.A. Milne wrote, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

7. Never change. You have marched to the beat of your own drum since the day you were born and we absolutely LOVE that about you. You are spunky, fierce, unique, creative, fun, loud and so many other fabulous adjectives. Don't ever try to be something you are not, my sweet girl. You have always done things a little bit different and in your own way and that is one of the best things about you. Hold on to that and never see it as something that makes you different. See it as something that makes you YOU! The amazing you that God created and delights in.

6. Always know how loved you are. This may be the most important thing of all. If you know this (really, really know it), you have a foundation for life. Your parents love you more than you realize. It's hard for you to grasp, but it's more true than you can imagine. But there's a God who loves you even more deeply than that, which is something I have a hard time understanding. God loves you without any conditions, no strings attached. You can't earn it, and you can't lose it. It just is. The more you realize this and live your life in light of this, the more confidence and joy you will have in your life. You. Are. Loved. It will never stop.
Now go out there and show the world what you've got! Sing silly songs, make new friends, jump up and down, read a great book and then come home to a family who loves you and who is so proud of their Kindergartener. Watch out, world. here she comes!

Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Camp Bridgeport 2017

I went to Camp Bridgeport two years ago when I was on staff at CRUMC. This year was Bennett's first time to be able to attend summer camp as a camper and there was no way in the world I was going to miss it. I was thrilled to go back to camp this summer but this time just as a parent volunteer. I don't know who had more fun- me or Bennett. We made memories together this summer that will no doubt last for a lifetime.

All of the girls from CRUMC checked in Lakeside 3C and ready to go! Summer camp, let's do this thing!

This is one of my favorite photos from the whole week. Camp friends are best friends.

Sam Woods and Bennett rocked the shaving cream war!

Bennett led worship one night at the cross. I couldn't have been more proud of her.

Night time worship. Oh, how I love this place.

Water Day fun!

Super Hero night!

You can't really tell, but that's me and Bennett at the cross.

The girls of Lakeside cabin 3 ready to rock the lip sync contest!

Me and Emily found Finley the fish. That got us 1000 points for Alpha!

Bennett and I had a great week but sure were glad when these three smiling faces came to pick us up.

My heart. I am so thankful that we had this week together.

Happy 8th Birthday, Will!

Oh, my buddy buddy. Could you please stop growing up? I want you to remain the adorable freckle faced little boy with the fabulous lisp forever. If you want to know what you were like as a kid, just watch Ron Howard playing Winthrop in the movie, "The Music Man." That's you. Except you are more. You are funny. You are incredibly kind. You are as smart as they come. You have a heart for others. And you can change the world. You really can. But not yet, because although you are older, you are still only 8. And you still let me sing "Bushel and a Peck" to you at night while we do the bomp bomps afterwards. And you want me to read every book you are reading so we can talk about it together. And you want me to watch roller coaster videos on YouTube so we can decide whether or not you would ride them in real life. And you wave to me every day at school through the window when I walk you to the front door. And you hug me (in front of your friends!!) every day when you walk outside after a long day at school. 8 is awesome! And so are you, Will. Happy Birthday.

This was the first year in a very long time that we were home on Will's birthday. He was thrilled to have breakfast at home in his pajamas. We then took him to Main Event so he could so the gravity ropes and play some games and then we went to Toys-R-Us so he could spend the birthday money his grandparents sent him.

That night we tried out something new. We went to a drive in movie! The kids had been to one in Dothan when they were very little but they didn't remember it. This was their first time in years and they were so excited. We went to see Despicable Me 3 at the Coyote Drive In. We got their early and the kids got their faces painted and got balloon animals. Will had a blast on the playground and since it was his birthday we said yes to the large Icee and popcorn. It was an awesome evening and one of our favorites from the whole summer.

What an awesome night!

Two weeks after Will's birthday were were able to have a party with his friends. let me say that I have thrown a lot of birthday parties for my three kids over the years and Will's 8th might go down as the best one of them all. We rented a huge inflatable water slide and a cotton candy machine for his birthday. That was it. No party games, so pinterest decorations, no pinatas..... a water slide and cotton candy. I was so worried beforehand that it wouldn't be enough to keep the kids occupied for three hours. Boy was I wrong! In fact, the party was schedules from 5:30-8:30 but they dropped the slide off at 2:45. My kids were on it by 2:46 and pretty soon half of the neighborhood was on it. Then they picked it up at 9:00pm and we had to drag kids off it. Over 6 hours and they could have gone longer. Best party ever!

Such a joy to celebrate this sweet kid.

Rob manning the cotton candy machine like a boss!

Everyone reluctantly came inside for dinner and cake!

Will's waterslide cake. He did the waterslide himself. ;)

Happy Birthday, Will!!!

Okay, Back out to the slide! Best birthday ever!

Happy 8th Birthday, Will! I love you more than you will ever know.

Broadway Camps 2017

I had the awesome privilege of running two Broadway camps this summer. We had one fill up within 24 hours of opening registration so we went ahead and opened up a 2nd week. My favorite thing about these camps is that my kids get to do them with me. I love them seeing my passion for kids and theatre come alive and I love directing them on stage because they are both pretty dang talented.

Here are a few shots from the two separate camps combined.

Camp #1. Is there anything better than seeing kids in costumes using their imaginations? I don't think so. I have done "A Thoroughly Modern Rapunzel" for years in camp. Ever since Bennett was 4, I think. Emmie played the role of Mesmerelda once when we were in Dothan and this year Bennett finally got to play the role of the pizza lovin' witch. She was hysterical.

Will was one of the step brothers in "Bubba the Cowboy Prince" and he stole the show. He has fantastic comedic timing.

Camp #2. It was full, it was loud, it was crazy and it was awesome! I enjoyed every single second of it and I loved doing it side my side with my kids. We did "Dragon and the Cookie" again and Will and Bennett reprised their roles as the Dragon and Caroline. This was a bedtime story I made up for them when they were very little and I turned it into a play for them. It was a ton of sentimental value for our family.

Rehearsal photo

Game Day photo

We had a bunch of neighborhood kids join this camp. Carpooling this week was a blast.

I worked with so so many kids over the summer and I adored them all, but these three will always be my favorites.

Maybe one day these will be in playbills. Who knows?