Kindergarten Christmas Program

look center, up to the left of the bright blue skirt…see our favorite blondie?

Last week was Charlie’s kindergarten Christmas program and I seriously wish that we had invited every single person that we know.  Leading up to the big night we were a bit nervous.  Charlie is doing so well at school but standing up on a stage, in an auditorium that he’s never even set foot in?  We didn’t know what to expect.

As usual, Charlie set me straight.  Not only did he do the hand motions to all FIVE of the songs, but he was SINGING.  Sure he was a bit off-key.  Yes, sometimes he was a beat or two behind.  But to see him standing proudly and to hear his voice along with all of the other kids in his grade was quite simply the best.

Of course I’m kicking myself for not taking more photos or a video or doing something else to document this moment, but honestly Alex and I were paralyzed in our seats for the entire performance.  Amazed.  Panicked.  Ready to run down to that stage in a flash.  But mostly we couldn’t stop laughing and smiling at the wonder of our little guy.

It probably sounds silly, but that night felt a bit magical.

Who knew it could be so good?

**total side note…for weeks Charlie’s teacher, me, really anyone who has tried to get a photo of Charlie cannot get him to keep his head straight for a photo.  I couldn’t figure it out.  Until I was snapping these photos.  And guess who had her head turned to the side while holding the camera?  Duh.  Mystery solved.  ;)

Kindergarten and turning six.

Friday was a DAY.  Charlie turned six years-old AND started kindergarten.

To think that on this exact day, six years ago our Charlie was born.  And a full six years later, to the DAY, that same little boy would be heading off to kindergarten – mainstream kindergarten – is almost more than I can wrap my brain around.  Had this little bit of the future been revealed to that new mama in the delivery room, she would have never believed it to be true.

Words can’t even begin to express how proud I was to drop Charlie off at his new classroom.  I’m pretty sure Charlie understood the significance of the day too – beyond any of the first day of school hype – he knew.  He has a gift of truly understanding those precious minutes in life that will become forever moments.

Charlie – along with Henry, William and Caroline {we travel in a pack} all subtly {ha!} helped our little kindergartener hang up his backpack and get settled into his seat.  As I leaned down to help him start his work he looked up at me and said, “No.  Bye.” while giving me a half push, half hug.  And so we gathered up our remaining troops and left him to tackle the day.

Charlie you have given us so much to celebrate.

Happy 6th Birthday sweet boy!  We can’t wait to see what this next year holds.

Charlie

“Charlie’s fun to have in class, but sometimes it’s hard to understand him.”

“Why is it hard to understand him?”

“Because he’s speaks in Spanish.”

This conversation was relayed to me by the mom of one of Charlie’s classmates.

It made me laugh out loud and melted my heart.  He is so loved and understood by his classmates, even if communication is sometimes a struggle.

with his two beloved teachers.

School’s out and boy am I a mess of emotions.  I’m not typically a sentimental person but the end of the school year gets me every single time.

We have big school-related changes on the horizon {kindergarten!} and they all center around our favorite little tow-head, Charlie.  I’m in way over my head so I’ve been doing what I do best; research the heck out of all of the various options and opportunities available.  Then talk incessantly about it.  Worry.  Fret.  Pray.  Dutifully get my ducks in a row for every. single. option. possible.

Writing openly and honestly about Charlie has been a challenge.  Not for the obvious reasons, but because it seems like my words tumble out all backwards.  And as he gets older I’m beginning to walk a finer line of what to share and what is his to keep safe within our family.

This much I do know: Charlie is healthy, happy and thriving.  {Yay!}  We have {finally!} found a speech therapist who has helped Charlie to – get this – speak!  We have continued with weekly hippotherapy lessons.  And while I’m not honestly sure if I’ve seen any speech improvement related to riding, I have seen a little boy who is learning how to ride a horse, trust others, and bond with his pony.  And there is little doubt that this past school year has been a great time of growth for our little guy.

However, what I also see is a little boy who has become very aware of his limitations in comparison to his peers.  I see bonds forming between Henry and William that are different than with Charlie.  On the other hand I see that the overall bonds of brotherhood are stronger than any chromosome count and stand witness as they weave all three boys together in ways that only a mother could dream of.  But the subtle differences are there.  I see them.  The hardest part is that I’ve noticed that Charlie sees them too.

It’s oh so difficult to accept that things will always be harder for Charlie.  And yet I have no doubt that we could all learn a thing or two from our second-born.

I’m clearly in over my head in so many ways but it also feels like a good place to be.

Life can be confusing.  The same sweet little boy that I often worry and fret over is also the same little boy who has taught me the greatest life lessons.  And when it all seems a bit overwhelming – as it often is – all I need to do is pause and watch Charlie in action.  Almost immediately my heart is refreshed and I’m reassured that we can – we are – doing this all together.

Disneyland

We did it.

Feeling like we should have one last hurrah before baby comes we packed up our family of five and went to Disneyland.

Oddly enough my vote for Maui was not taken seriously.

Our kiddos have been blessed to go on lots of vacations as they’ve grown up.  However during this vacation we realized that our boys have also missed out on lots of vacation norms.  Like flying.  Staying in a hotel.  Little things like that.  We are vacation road warriors, and don’t think twice about driving 9 hours to our destination.  That way we can pack our car to the gills and be as loud as we’d like without bothering anyone else.  William was pretty darn confused about the whole rental car thing, and *our new house.*

Let’s play *can you spot the cowboy hat?*

See baby Coco…you’ve already been to Disneyland.  And the beach.  ;)

We had the best time.  Six full days together, just the five of us.  It was so much fun to play and laugh and see where each day led us.  And while our exhausted troopers could have used every excuse in the book for meltdowns, they were fantastic.   We were on the go from our 7am wake-up until we returned to our room around 9pm and once until 10:30pm!

On Tuesday my brother Jimmy joined us {which was apparently the same day we gave the camera a break?}  What a treat it was to spend the day with my brother and to watch him interact with his adoring nephews.

Wednesday we decided that three days at the Happiest Place on Earth was enough and called it a beach day.  We headed to Malibu and spent the day playing in the sand, eating a tailgate picnic, catching up with my cousin Jessica and stopping at In-And-Out for dinner.  Yum.

Yes, Disneyland was cliché.  It was overstimulating.  We probably could have just flown the commuter flight from our hometown to Seattle and back and called it a day.  {Seriously, that was probably a top highlight for the boys.  That and a pack of gum they split.}  I also felt like I should make a tater tot casserole when we got home.

But for all of those silly things, it was just right.  I’m so thankful for Alex who carefully planned every detail for our family.  And I can’t think of anything better than watching my loves play and laugh and be thrilled together.  Yay for family vacations!

A couple of Disney tips if you are headed that direction in the near future:

1.  If you are traveling with multiple little ones bring your biggest double stroller.  We might have gotten some funny looks at the airport, but there is no way we could have successfully done this trip without our trusty double bob stroller.  Even Henry would collapse into it on occasion.  It was the perfect place for the little ones to nap or just pull down the shade and take a break if it became too much.

2.  Bring your own snacks and water into the park.  We ate our lunch and dinners at the park {or right outside} but I was so thankful to have plenty of granola bars, raisins, water bottles, etc. to pass out throughout the day.  Not only did it save money but we were able to avoid standing in yet another line.

3.  Speaking of lines, we pulled the special needs card.  We’ve never, ever done this {quite honestly we try to avoid doing this at all costs} but this felt like the right time to do it.  I’m not sure if this is taboo to say or not, but hopefully this information will help another family out.  When we first got to Disney we checked in at city hall and received a pass that allowed us to cut to the front of almost every line and keep our stroller with us the entire time – right up until we boarded the ride.  Now before you start cursing my name, know that this was huge for Charlie.  {And let’s be honest, his very pregnant mama too.}  I’m pretty sure it allowed him to keep pace with the rest of us and avoid the way over-crowded and over-stimulating lines that might have led to some meltdowns.

4.  Go slow.  We spent 1 1/2 days in the Disney park and 1 1/2 days in California Adventure.  We didn’t see it all.  We didn’t go on every ride.  But by doing this our boys never felt rushed and we were simply able to enjoy what we did see.

5.  Take the ART shuttle to the park if you are staying off-resort.  It’s way easier {and cheaper} than parking and again, another unexpected highlight for our boys was riding the *bus.*

P.S. I have no idea why sometimes pictures post and why other times they don’t.  I’ve even noticed that some text occasionally gets left out.  I’m just not tech savvy enough to understand…but I’ll do my best to fix things as problems arise.

Life right now.

Life has been moving in busy extreme mode for oh I don’t know, the last two weeks?  Maybe forever?  Forgive me I’ve lost track of time.

There was last Monday’s meltdown {I’m never volunteering again!} which eventually paled in comparison to last Friday’s meltdown {the school district is suggesting what for my son?}

Last week was a week of meetings.  And e-mails.  And phone calls.  And if you know me, then you know how much this pains me.  I’m the gal that loves to hit the ignore button on her phone or ignore an e-mail until a response is deemed urgent.  I don’t know why I’m wired this way but I am.  Frankly a little part of me gets ticked off when “my time” gets sucked up by the {boring} tasks of life {i.e. phone calls, e-mails and meetings.}   And by “my time” I’m most likely referring to more important things like grocery shopping, drinking coffee, doing laundry, making dinner, carpooling kiddos, wrangling a neighborhood of hooligans, with a sprinkle of blog-reading and finding a new dinner recipe on pinterest.

So Monday I put my big-girl undies on, hopeful that this week would look different.  And it has.  We kicked-off the week needing stitches, {three for William}, tears {again, me}, more meetings {this time I’m prepared – watch out!}, lots of phone calls {made by me – ha!}, a little one who pulled out his stitches {after only 24 hours!}, e-mails {sent by me – take that!} and a little one who threw-up in the back-seat of the car.

One might argue that this week was actually tougher.

Maybe all of this sounds a little over dramatic.  Maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it’s just a reminder to myself that if I dwell on the overwhelming moments {they were abundant and real} then it’s all to easy to miss the beautiful moments that were also woven into our days.  Moments like meeting a friend’s newborn baby, celebrating my mom’s birthday, having my grandparents over for dinner, dinner with my best friend while the kids ran amuck, watching Alex and the boys play baseball together, and a glowing report at Henry’s parent-teacher conference.

Because sometimes life is like that.  The good weeks, the hard weeks.  The struggles mixed right in with the blessings.

And so we wrap up this week with Spring Break looming large and I’m hopeful.

I’m not going to lie, fresh tulips and cake help too.

It’s the little things.

After Christmas Charlie initiated a bedroom shuffle around our house.  We were happy to play along because, {A} it was still Christmas vacation and bedtime didn’t need to be strongly enforced and {B} we had always really wanted Charlie to share a room with one of his brothers…because…well it’s hard to explain but it’s a whole combination of: guilt, perception, building up his relationships with his brothers and well, I don’t know…

Anyhow, never in a million years did we think this new arrangement of Charlie and William sharing a room would work.  Over one month in and the transition has been flawless.  Henry happily moved into his own room and enjoys reading every night before bed.  Charlie and William read, snuggle and yes even play before bed in their shared room.  And somehow, this new magical arrangement has all three boys not only going to bed earlier, but sleeping in longer.  If that wasn’t enough, Alex and I often get to catch glimpses of our two little ones all snuggled in together.  The light still on, books scattered around them.  Two brothers, happy and content.  There is no doubt that it’s really all about the little things isn’t it?

Milestones

We’ve had two recent milestones that might not seem noteworthy, but for our family were big.

The first milestone was our annual church Christmas program.  This year, all three boys participated.  Really and truly it was amazing.  Not because our kids stole the show {not even close} but simply the fact that they were all singing together.  It might not make sense to anyone else, but to see Charlie up there makes my heart want to burst with joy and hug and profusely thank everyone who loves and believes in our little guy.

my two tough guys at practice.

{Perhaps William, our curly-hair cutie might be stealing the show?}

Seriously. Look at our Charlie.  Look at all he can do.

No, he wasn’t singing or doing the hand motions.

But I can’t help but feel like it’s like watching a miracle.

and henry…we have since been to the eye dr…guess who’s getting glasses?!

Another somewhat silly, but oh so big milestone took place at a birthday party.  Our boys have been invited to numerous parties over the years celebrating family and friends, but never before has Charlie received an invitation.  Just for him.  Last Saturday Charlie and I went to a party that he had been invited to by one of his classmates.  There is no doubt that he understood the significance of this as he waved good-bye to his brothers while also wearing an impish grin.

Upon our arrival Charlie was greeted with hugs and waves from his buddies.  He slipped on his bowling shoes and yes, he bowled a strike.

There was pizza, cake and ice cream.  And Charlie sat right alongside his buddies, eating his slice of greasy cheese pizza.  Of course I was on-guard the whole time.  Ready to swoop in at any time to make things right, or normal, or whatever.  I know some of you mama’s know what I’m talking about.

But guess what?

Not one thing about the party was remarkable, but I will never forget it.