Thursday, October 8, 2015

This Boy

This Boy.

He's now a kindergartener and ROCKING it out.

He's finished another season of soccer. This season compared to the last time we played was vastly different. Last season he would cry and run off the field. This season he gladly ran around with his teammates. It took him a couple of weeks, but eventually he felt comfortable enough to try and kick the ball. My favorite was watching his eyes while he played. When he ran around the field, he would watch his friends, not the ball, looking at them with eyes of "Isn't this fun?? Are you having as much fun as I am??"

He is a source of joy and humor. This month has knocked our family back a bit. He has kept us laughing. From calling R2D2 "Artie D2" to hysterical one-liners and jokes he makes up (most always about poop and wieners) he makes us smile daily.

He keeps us going. He's given us reason to fight through struggles and to set great examples of  outstanding love and grace.

He's thoughtful and kind, and going to be a great husband. The other day I was having a hard time choosing what to wear on a date with Andrew. He heard me say "I just don't feel comfortable in it." He looked up at me, patted me, and said "Mom you look beautiful always."

This boy. 
He has our hearts. 
The more I sit back and watch, the more I'm seeing that he is capturing the hearts of pretty much anyone he meets.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cooper's 1st Day of Kindergarten

I've always been a light sleeper when I'm anticipating the next morning. My first day of kindergarten I woke up at way too early an hour. I sat at the top of the stairs at our home in Kentucky, looking at the light that came from the living room, and I heard the light noise of the morning news. I wondered  if I should stay at the top or make my way down. Excitement and anticipation won. Too dark to walk down safely, I scooted down the stairs on my bottom. My mom, sitting in the rocking chair, coffee in hand, looked at me in surprise and asked why I was already up. I don't remember the rest of that morning. I don't even remember the rest of that day. I do remember the excitement. The anticipation. I remember how big I felt.

Today was no different. I woke up at 5:30 and was unable to go back to sleep. Today was my boy's first day of kindergarten and I wanted to see his face when he woke up. Cooper is consistently an early riser. He's up between 6 and 6:30. So, wouldn't you know it that today was the day he decided he'd sleep in until 6:54! I waited as patiently as I could for him to wake up. He came down the stairs all smiles. "Hi big kindergartener" I said excitedly. He ran the rest of the way down and jumped onto the couch. Excitement filled his eyes. A smile spread wide across his face. "Mom, I've got to go to the bus stop." Ensuring him that we had plenty of time, he settled into an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks, his current favorite show.

Our morning progressed easily. A year of preschool helped with this part. We ate, we got dressed, we brushed our teeth and combed our hair. We did a devotion with him. We packed his lunch and readied his backpack upon his back. Each thing we did, you could tell he was excited. Nothing but smiles and giggles. After a few pictures on our front steps we all walked to the bus stop.  The bus stop is at the other end of our street, which gave us time to tell him we wanted him to be kind, to listen, and to have fun. I prayed for him on this walk. We got to the bus stop early. Let's make note of this now, because the rest of the year is sure not to follow suit. And because it's the first week of school, the bus was late. While we waited we spoke with another boy there, and watched Cooper wait in anticipation. He basically ran around the yard of the house we were standing in front of.

At one point I bent down and continued on with the last words I have chosen to be the last words I speak to him before school each morning. 
"You are kind. You are good. You are God's. Make wise choices." 
When we looked up from that moment, the bus came around the corner. As soon as it stopped, Cooper RAN to the bus. He was the first one on. After a few seconds for everyone to be seated, the bus drove away. Andrew and I walked away, smiling. A big part of my heart drove away in that yellow school bus. But today the sadness in my heart was replaced with a lot of hope and excitement.

Yesterday Cooper asked to go to the park. While we were there, he approached two boys and asked them if they wanted to play. He also decided yesterday was the day he would decide to pump his legs and swing by himself. I sat back in awe and cried. Yes, there...on the playground. I whispered thanks to God for that moment. I needed that moment to show me just how ready for kindergarten he is.

We did drive to school and met him when he got off the bus. We walked him into his classroom. We left him with smiles. Cooper Lee is SO ready. He's such a great kid, with such great passion and excitement for life. He has learned and grown so much during his time at home. Cooper is an extension of our LIGHT. It's time for him to practice let that light shown on his own now. He's going to do big things one day. This is a big part of that journey for him.

And in case you are wondering...Andrew and I went to a new breakfast place to celebrate!

I'm doing so great. No tears this morning. Only JOY. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

the emotion-crazy space before school

When I was a teacher, summer was a GLORIOUS time. It meant sleeping in, lounging, and throwing a schedule out the window. I think a lot of that mentality has crept over into my stay-at-home-mom summers. We toss out a schedule and replace it with a list of fun things to do. Every summer there are things we didn't cross off because we are too busy doing nothing with our days.

Every August there comes this point where the want for the schedule returns. In front of me stands a son who is becoming ever more cranky and undisciplined. We have to readjust the reigns and  start our path toward a more structured life at home. It's August now. The time for redirecting is upon us. It culminated tonight with disobedience, tears, and consequences. During bath time I started thinking of ways to get our home life more structured. I especially want a better pattern to be in place before school starts - just about 3 weeks left to set a different pace at home.

Speaking of three weeks left until school, I am currently living in this emotion-crazy space between trying to hold on to every last bit of baby boy that I can and pushing independence and wing-spreading. An emotion-crazy space of feeling like I've done enough and completely doubting everything I've done the past 5 years.

Most days are spent urging shoe-tying practice, bucking your own seat encouragement, and "don't give ups" and "I won't be there to do this for you at school" with pretty much every new skill we are learning. But THEN he walks into the kitchen, and says "mom, will you hold me?" and all the independence encouragement leaves me. My task stops and I do what he asks. I pick him up, and hold him for as long as he'll let me. I think back to when he was much smaller and easier to hold in my arms. In 3 weeks he'll be gone most of the day and he won't be interrupting my tasks asking me to hold him.

In these last few weeks before school I've started to doubt myself ... a lot. I keep telling myself I should have done more, I should have worked with him more on writing lowercase letters, I should have had him memorize some words, I should have encouraged independent play more, I should have done more projects, I should have instilled more (you name it), etc, etc, etc. Today these doubts crept into my mind while I was cleaning and I had to stop myself. I had to remind myself that it has been ok to let him play. He's a smart boy and will pick everything up this year so easily in school. I shouldn't worry about what his teacher will think when she finds out I used to teach kindergarten and my son doesn't write in lowercase letters. I should focus on the fact that my boy has been well loved and cared for the past 5 years.

I need to focus more on the fact that my boy loves to be held by his mama, and that he's going to school knowing he is LOVED.

Today I'm choosing to replace crazy emotions, doubts, and unscheduled craziness with love.
When he let me hold him in the kitchen, I had to take a picture to remember.

In the! I need ideas! How do your morning and evening routines work? What things do you have in place to make them easier? How do you create a welcoming and peaceful environment for your kiddos (and husband) during the school year?

Also, I have a feeling I'm not alone in these feelings. If you're with me, comment so we can be a community of encouragement.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

kindergarten will change things.

Over the past year I've neglected this space. I always wonder who is really reading these posts, who is really interested in my thoughts and the comings and goings of our family. And with kindergarten quickly approaching and the introduction of timehop, I'm realizing how much I've missed capturing this past year. I haven't jotted down the preschool memories, our amazing and cut-back Christmas, Cooper's 5th birthday, and some vacations to Florida. Instead of just playing catch-up, I'm asking that you'll forgive the year-long gap, and get excited with me about what lies ahead. I'd love for you to read these posts and join our family's journey into an unknown year ahead.

Today I keep pondering how our lives are going to change in 5 short weeks when Cooper starts kindergarten. The day-to-day routines and the flow of our family, home life, and schedules will be so different. I'm starting to pray about how I can create a relaxing and comfortable home life for Cooper and Andrew to come home to at the end of their days. I'm starting to pray that Cooper will be comfortable and safe enough to tell me about his day...a day that I will in large part know nothing about.

This growing up year for Cooper brings about a time of great change for me as well. What will I do with my time? Should I go back to work? Should I work part time? I'm afraid of having nothing to do. There are so many ways my brain is taking me. So many things I think about doing, dream about doing, and have to be doing. All of these overwhelming whispers are attacking my heart. But from the middle of my heart I hear "Be still and know that I am God." I  then breathe, and remember who goes before me, and who's holding my hand every step of this life I'm living.

My current plan of attack is to do just that. I'm going to be still. I'm going to let God be God and show me the way. Lucky for you, you'll get to read all about it this year. *wink face emoji*

In the meantime, though, I'll be creating some fun memories with this boy.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

Two years ago, I shared this post for Father's Day. This year we decided to do it again. 

"My Dad"
by Cooper

My dad is funny because he tells silly words about me.
My dad thinks I'm funny when he's talking to me.
My dad is 30...right, mom?
His favorite thing to do is play with me.
His favorite color is blue, black, orange, red, gray, and white.

My dad's job is going to church.
He loves to eat coke zero
He is really good at playing video games.
My dad loves when I beat bad guys.
My dad always says, "You're awesome."
My favorite thing about dad is that I love him and that he loves me, too.

Watching you be a father is one of my life's biggest pleasures. Your mini-me is growing up to resemble you in so many ways. Learning fatherhood from your example is setting him up to be a successful father.
"You're awesome."
We love you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear Cooper: a 5th birthday letter.

Dear Cooper,

Happy 5th Birthday!

Every year I sit down and write you a letter around your birthday. Thoughts about your year, who you are, why I love you. But this year I've found myself fighting the urge to do it. I am sitting down with my fingers flying about the keyboard, but not with a longing to do it. Because maybe if I don't actually sit down and write this letter for you, you'll somehow, magically not turn 5. Yes, this year, I'm more sad and emotional about the turning of another year for you.

Sad because I am experiencing how the days are long, but the years short. I'm watching you grow up very quickly. The year between 4 and 5 is the year I have said goodbye to all signs of baby in you. You are a legit "big boy" now. From your features to the things you can do independently, to the conversations we have, and your interests. You really are growing up, and sometimes it's hard to accept.

Sad because I know how blessed your daddy and I are to have a healthy son. One of my friends is watching her 4 year old son fight a cancer battle. The other day as I dropped off meals at her house, I saw this mom change her son's clothes after he had thrown up and was smacked in the face with a dose of reality. I saw how skinny he was. I saw the outlines of his bones. I saw the tubes hanging from him. I saw his balding head. It was a moment my heart ached. It was a moment I was forced into humble thankfulness for you. I'm not sure why we got the healthy child and my friend didn't. But as you turn another year older this year, I'm very grateful that you are healthy; growing up and developing normally.

Sad because some days it's really hard to be your mom. You have this passion in you. You have this desire to be right; an instinct to argue. And some days being your mom brings be to my knees in tears and exhaustion. And those moments make me question how good of a mom I really am. They make me doubt my ability as your mom. And if I'm honest, there are many moments that being your mom is me being a mom who feels like a failure.

Even though this year's letter is a tough one to write because of those things, the core of me being your mom is one of joy. The roots of this tree we planted in you are roots that are wrapped around the King of the world. The blooms of that tree are sometimes sad ones but He cuts those off. He is somehow able to cut away the sad and bring about hope, joy, and great blooming smiles on your tree branches.

Some days I look at you and long to go back to the first year. Just to hold you again. Wrap you up in a blanket and rock you. Thinking back on those moments, though, I'm reminded of the thoughts I had when I held you, rocked you, prayed over you, and sang to you. In those moments I wondered what you would be like when you got older. Would you be healthy? Would you have learning challenges? Would you be happy? Would you know Jesus? What kinds of things would you like?

Those days when I sang to you I longed to know what the future you was like. Today I'm looking at the very boy I had always wondered about. I no longer have to wonder what you'll be like when you're 5. That day is here. Today I'm standing in the answered prayers I uttered 5 years ago. Cooper, you are everything I had hoped and longed for you to be.

You are healthy. I'm finding myself praising Jesus for this often lately. You are healthy. And I'm so thankful we have been given a boy who has developed normally, a boy who is smart (some might say too smart), a boy who I hear say "I'm going to eat an apple because that's a healthy choice" and "I'm going to do my exercises, mom." Your daddy and I fight a battle of healthy choices daily, and we have prayed that you will not have the same battle that we do. So to hear you utter those sentences calms my fear and gives me hope that even though my progress is imperfect, it's still progress, and hopefully you'll leave our home with a healthy lifestyle.

You are happy. Joy exudes from every part of your body. The way you get excited shows from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. When you smile, the blue in your eyes gets brighter, and your dimples flash bright beams of sunshine. Your laugh is one that cuts straight through my heart and warms my whole body.

You are growing in your faith. This year you and I have had some very deep and touching conversations about God. You're beginning to ask questions, and it makes me excited. This year you have asked questions like "How did God know how to put me together?" and "Why do I have to give my money to God?" And you've uttered phrases like "I want to give God 7,000 monies" and "I love God the most." My biggest desire has been - and always all be - that one day you love Jesus and build your life upon Him. These conversations are building your foundation. One day I hope to hand over this foundation to you so you can build upon it yourself.

The things you like, you don't just like. You LOVE them. You are passionate about them. You like all things video games and ninja turtles. You don't play cops and robbers for pretend, you play mario, pikmin, minecraft, and ninja turtles for pretend. You like to draw, following your father's footsteps a bit. Your drawings mainly consist of said characters. You like to run, jump, and do all things outside. You are great at impersonating characters and doing sound effects. Sometimes you'll make a sound effect and daddy and I will look at each other like "how does he do that?"

Sometimes daddy and I also look at each other like "Can you believe he's ours?" Cooper, we look at you with great pride and love. We love that we get to know what parenthood is like with you as our child. This title of mother has come with so many challenges, but also with love unlike anything I've ever experienced.  I'm five years into this ride of parenthood, and I'm loving it because of who I get to call my son.

Five years ago, you were passed to me and I saw you for the first time. You laid on my belly, where I stretched out my hands and touched your precious body. Over and over I repeated "Hi, Cooper" while smiling. I don't remember much about what happened to me next because my eyes were on you. I watched as they took you, weighed you, and did their tests on you. I watched as they covered the large bump on your head with a hat. I watched as they swaddled you. I watched as your father picked you up and brought you back over to me, with tears in his eyes and his mouth curved into a smile. Over the past five years I've continued to watch you, many times forgetting myself and focusing on you. I've watched you overcome challenges, I've watched you be tested in areas. I've watched you learn and grow. I've watched your relationship with daddy grow into a loving one.

Today, instead of daddy handing you off to me, you ran to me. Today you jumped into my arms, hugged me tight, and said, "you're my favorite mommy." **insert happy tears**

Cooper, today and every day, that's the kind of joy you bring.

Goodbye, sadness.

Hello, joy of having a 5 year old.

I love you.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

a perfect night.

Tonight was a perfect night for me.

Dinner was eaten around our table, all three of us there. We talked. We laughed. We ate yummy food.

During dinner I looked at Cooper, smiling while he talked. And it hit me. He knows much more about the way this world works than he did last year. But there is still so much that he's yet to learn. Here's an example. He knows pretty well how to get around town. He knows which way we need to turn at certain streets. (This is where small town  life helps a bit I guess.) But while we're driving around town I hear him say "Mom, did you know my teacher doesn't live at the school?" And after I respond he says "Yeah! Because there's no bed at the school." So while he's gained knowledge in so many areas, he's still learning. He's still quite the sponge - soaking it all in.

Once dinner was cleaned up we still had about two hours before bed time. I started a pot of coffee and we gathered around the table again. This time for games. We played two new games from Christmas. Both of them fun. Both of them igniting laughter.

At some point along the way I realized that nights like this are perfect. Not because they are out of the norm and full of memorable moments. They are perfect for quite the opposite; they are perfect because they are completely normal. Tonight was just the day to day happenings of our family. Tonight was an example of the perfectly mundane routines that make up the heartbeat of our family.

The normalcy of our family is a normalcy of great love. There is freedom to be who we are. There is freedom to express ourselves. There is freedom to be completely silly. Freedom to be and do because no matter what, love is known here. And while Cooper is still in that soaking-things-in-stage, I looked around tonight, knowing that he's soaking it all up in an environment of love.

And that makes this mama's heart smile.

Tonight during the normalcy that is our laughter, I snapped this picture. Sometimes you need the picture to remember.