Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Front Yard Zoo

Almost every afternoon, the boys and I hang out in the front yard for several hours between nap and dinnertime. We play sports, ride bikes, climb trees or run races while Wells crawls around and eats dirt. The other day though, Cullen and Bennett decided they wanted to make a zoo. We've gone to the National Zoo twice in the past 3 weeks, so I guess they just had Monkeys on the brain. 
 Cullen made tickets for all of us and then the two of them went running through the house to find all the stuffed animals they could. Wells and I had to stay inside and wait until they were done and the zoo was 'open'. My ticket had an 'M' for Mommy, the word 'zoo' and and 'T' for ticket. 

First up was the snake house.
 Then the super friendly lions.
The Blue Bears
(Also very friendly)
And then we got a very special talk about Monkeys from the Zoo Keeper.
 Finally, my favorite exhibit of all- the elephants and one super cute giraffe. 

I love it when my boys use their imagination and invite me to be part of their world. Can't wait to visit the Front Yard Zoo again!

Thanks for all your well wishes to Cullen on his first day of school. He absolutely loves it! And the only other tears this week were actually at school when he found out his Mass Buddy (they go to church on Fridays and have an older student who they will sit with each week) is a GIRL. The horror. 
Otherwise, he is doing great!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cullen Goes to Kindergarten

You might remember last fall that I was consumed a bit with choosing the right school for Cullen and after months of weighing our options, praying about it and visiting both our local public school and the Catholic school we ultimately decided that the Catholic one was the best option for our sweet boy. 

Mostly because of the uniform:
these were totally taken after school

Just kidding. 
There were many factors that weighed our decision, but seriously, how cute does look? 
 The weeks before school started he asked me if he could sleep in it so he was ready...and if he could wear it to my brother's wedding in September since it is 'so fancy'.

Cullen has been SO excited about school since we made the decision last Spring and enjoyed several  playdates this summer to help him get familiar with some of the kids. He has been counting down the days on my calendar and would beam with pride every time someone asked him if he was off to Kindergarten. 

Monday morning, the excitement continued, as he came into my room fully dressed (shoes and all) before I was even up out of bed. Admittedly, it was a litttttle crazy getting us all out of the house by 7:40 and Wells might have still been in his PJs and Bennett made it out in two different shoes, but we were in school on time. 
As we hurried in with all the other parents and children, I felt his little body inch just a little closer to mine and by the time we reached his classroom his arms were right around my leg. I got him settled in a seat and after one look around to none of the familiar faces he met this summer, Cullen burst into tears. He asked to go home with me (meanwhile, Bennett's hair was sticking up from the syrup at breakfast and Wells was helpfully rearranging the book case in the corner...yea, I was that Mom) and begged me not to leave. Luckily, his sweet teacher noticed the commotion and came over to pry him from my arms. I told him I would watch from the hallway for a minute, but really soon as he turned his head, I walked away too. Having known from my own Pre-K teaching days, seeing Mom really only makes it worse. 
Getting nervous
As I walked back down the hallway, holding back my own tears, wishing that Kev was here because he would have handled it so much better (and probably would have intervened on Bennett's shoe situation), I took a moment to take a deep breath and said a quick prayer for my big boy that he would find comfort and joy in his classroom that day (And for the record, called my mom and cried on the way home.)

Then I awkwardly walked past the nice ladies offering coffee and doughnuts in the Parish Hall...
because I didn't want to go into a room where I didn't know anyone.
 This Kindergarten stuff is tough, I tell you.


Luckily, at pickup, Cullen was all smiles. He had the BEST day ever and loved his teachers.

 Highlights in his own words:

We went on the playground and there were some big kids there and they didn't even play too rough at all.

You know in Kindergarten, the teacher doesn't have to come in your bathroom, you just raise your hand and then you can go, but I didn't even have to go tinkle one time all day... But I really need to go now.

You only packed me one snack and some kids had two snacks. I want two snacks.

Guess what? I met my PE teacher and tomorrow I get to wear a Tshirt and play sports ALL DAY ({Had to inform him PE only lasted 30 minutes}

I didn't talk to any of the girls.

I'm number 14 in my class in my cubby and on my folder, which is good, because 14 is also my jersey number, since I make big plays like Nick Marshall {Auburn's quarterback}

At circle time, I picked a green square to sit on, but tomorrow I might pick orange. I am not all the way sure though yet. 

Did you know sometimes in circle you are just allowed to say answers without raising your hand? But I didn't say any, even though I know all the days of the week, I didn't want to shout in class.

Now that my first day of school is over, I can start focusing on the {Auburn} game this weekend.

Wait, what did you guys do today?
 We are so proud of you, Cullen James!

The Laziest Weekend of All

Well, I just dropped my oldest off for Kindergarten (tears, lots of tears)...but we will talk about that tomorrow.

 We have been going, going, going all summer long and this weekend, we just really needed a break so we did absolutely nothing. Never even left the house on Saturday.

Cullen got a little pre-Kindergarten pep talk from Kev (and magic confetti for under his pillow from his teachers).
 We did some serious cleaning on Sunday morning. The boys were in charge of their bathroom and when things got oddly quiet, I went to check and they were hiding under the sink. Not helpful, kids.
 We spent a lot of time outside and eating dirt. I swear I tried to stop this, but he just kept shoveling it in his mouth- sweet of him to offer me some though.
 Bennett watched Frozen twice.
 We went to brunch with the brothers and the girlfriends.

 We emptied the kitchen cabinets
 Oh, and Wells grew up.

A much needed relaxing weekend for sure.
Now, I'm off to spend some time with my littles and count down the minutes until we pick Cullen up to hear all about his first day. Say a little prayer that he loves it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Final Days of Summer

There is really nothing better than celebrating the end of our summer in a good storm.

 The summer days are almost over and as long and hard as the past three months +  have been since Kev deployed, I admit that the start of school is a bit bittersweet. I am ready for a real routine, and a difference between Tuesday and Saturday, but I will miss random rain parties with my boys. 

Starting Monday, Cullen will be in school all day and (I imagine) Bennett will go back to napping at the same time as Wells after pre-school, leaving me without a child to entertain for a few hours every afternoon. 
After accepting 125%  responsibility for our humans all summer long, that silence will be odd. 
And I will miss Cullen's constant questions, and Bennett's oddly articulate arguments for why a 3 year old does not need a nap...

We had an amazing summer: 
We traveled, we missed Kev (every day and then some), we saw so many friends, we went on adventures, we tested my patience, I had a few girls' weekends, we spent time with extended family...

We were helped by those who love us and Kev was sent emails and packages from our friends and family. 

And best of all:
My boys were loved

And now, the Summer of Freedom  comes to a close.
The night before Kev left- my favorite picture ever of my men

Thanks to you all for your love.
We appreciate all the prayers and the support that has made this difficult (and very slow moving) time so much easier!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The New Rules

Remember how I said a few weeks ago that my boys have been fighting? And that my patience was weaning? And o my goodness if we keep arguing over who gets to sit in the black chair (which we have 6 of the exact same ones) I am going to LOSEMYMIND
Yea, it hasn't gotten much better. 
We don't have a ton of friends in our area with children, particularly as old as Cullen, so I honestly think they are just a little sick of each other (and me) and it has resulted in some tension filled moments around the house.
So the other day, I remembered back to the tough days of 2012 and decided it was time to update our family rules. I sat both boys down and we talked about why it is important to get along so Mommy doesn't yell because it is in the right thing to do, and asked them to come up with the 10 best rules for our house. 

Here is what they dictated:

1. Obviously, was pleased that "have patience" was as the top of the list- now if only they would practice it (like waiting 20 more years to break into the beer).

2.  Another favorite since Cullen's new favorite activity is lifting up Wells and putting him down somewhere else....which Wells hates. 

3.  For Bennett: we have been limiting his paci use (since the Dentist judged me) and now he sporadically bites his brothers when he is playing. Is that a thing? Or just a weird phase? Anyone? Bueller? 

4. Does anyone else's kids get extremely hungry while you are clearly busy? Because mine do. Usually during the 20 minutes a day that I get to talk to their father, roughly an hour after they have just eaten a man-sized lunch. 

5. Example of silly things not to cry over: Putting your shoes on the correct feet, or putting on two of the same shoes.

6. Okay so they called me out on this one. Our house backs up to a horse farm and that horse farm sends a lot of flies into our kitchen. They are gross and I don't like them so I tend to get a little violent with the fly swatter. Whoops. 

7. Frankie barks a lot. At people, at other dogs, at the wind, at the sun...he needs a rule too apparently.

8. Basic. (Will never be followed.)

9. Pretty large blanket statement here, but I'll take it.

10. One of the biggest lessons I think my boys can learn: Just BE KIND and you will do good. 

In case you missed the 2012 Rules- here is a refresher (original post HERE):
They still hang in the playroom because no one wants to forget to not get hit by volcano fire (and that 2 years later, Mommy is still obviously the mean parent).  
But in the meantime, we are working on it bit by bit and when they do throw a fit about who gets to jump from the couch to the ottoman first (no one), we can point to the rules and I can remind them that they were the ones who decided they were important. Hopefully within this, we will be teaching ownership and responsibility along with better manners (and patience all around).