Back to school week

This has been our back to school week.  Yes week.  Henry’s first day was Tuesday.  William’s was on Wednesday.  Charlie goes Friday.  Part of me wants to shout-out, Alleluia!  The other part of me sort of wants to cry.  My boys are so ready to be with their friends and have some structure in their day.  I know that Caroline will appreciate the quieter house.  I’m still gearing up for all of the driving – getting from one drop-off and pick-up to the next.  But don’t get me wrong, we’re ready.

I just know that Henry is going to have the best year.  His teacher is fantastic and he seems ready to plunge into third grade.  William is back at Montessori with his buddies and familiar classroom.  That drop-off was easy.  Charlie is the kiddo with the big milestone year.  Kindergarten.  In a mainstream classroom.  Wow.  In so many ways he seems so ready.  Of course that doesn’t keep me from worrying.  Yesterday we met with his teacher who is amazing.  The classroom was the picture-perfect kindergarten setting and Charlie didn’t hesitate to make himself comfortable, bouncing like a ping-pong ball from one activity to the next.  We also met with the team of people who will help to make his school experience the best it can be.  And while I have lots to say on the whole IEP process, transitioning schools, why we decided to mainstream, etc., you’ll just have to take my word for it – this was a well-thought out process – however I just don’t have the brain-power to write it all out.  But we will discuss.  Later.  I promise.

Henry and Charlie will be at the same school this year.

The good news is that we made it through the summer.  I probably wasn’t the most patient mom.  I’m pretty sure I was in survival mode most of the time.  But we did it.  We had fun.  There were plenty of smiles and adventures and popsicles and swimming.  And we’re all happy and adjusting to life with baby.  That seems pretty good in my opinion.

Summer days.

We’re off to a pretty good start.  Our first full day of summer was spent thinking that baby Coco was on her way.  Nope, false alarm.  So on the second day Alex stayed home from work and we had an unplanned and unexpected weekday all together.  It was just what we needed.

There is really nothing better than watching our boys and Alex play together.  There is just something about that father-son bond.  He will play game after game with the boys for literally hours on end.  He is definitely the fun parent and I think our parenting styles are a pretty good combination and balance.

Goodness I’ve been in a funk.  For some reason I’m struggling with the end of this pregnancy.  It’s thrown me for a loop mainly because I don’t remember feeling like this before.  And its not necessarily the physical strains, but more of an in-my-head struggle.  More than anything I’m frusterated by my own selfishness.  It’s not an attractive trait and I’m so ready to be myself again.

To top it off {yes, this probably sounds silly even to say} I’m so tired of having painters around our house.  Don’t they know that I’m trying to nest?  And oh how I long to finally have our backyard back after three long weeks.  It’s amazing how quickly things can go downhill with three busy boys when they can’t just run outside to play.

In the meantime we’ve had to be creative as we try to establish some sort of summer routine.  We’ve spent hours in our front yard and in the yards of our neighbors {perhaps they’re ready for us to have our backyard back too?}  We’ve had no choice but to keep things simple.  And honestly the boys have been great.  They take turns with the hose, cover the floor with legos encouraging each other as they build, and manage to make a game out of almost anything.

I sure do love these boys.  And boy do I pray that His grace continues to cover us all summer long.  I pray that my children feel the presence of peace and patience even when I repeatedly come up short.  Because day after day I am humbled, knowing that only by His grace is all this goodness possible.

It’s almost summer and 37 weeks.

amen.  

We’re getting awfully close to the end.  The end of the school year and the end of this pregnancy.

Both prospects seem a little scary if you ask me.

I’m doing my best to savor each little nuance of this last pregnancy but at the same time I’m done.  I’ve entered into the last stage of pregnancy when all you think about all day long is that you are PREGNANT.  And that you could have a baby TODAY or you could have a baby in WEEKS.  That alone could make anyone crazy, nevermind all the hormones.

I’ll be honest, the last few days I’ve been crabby.  The irony is that physically I’m feeling pretty darn good for a water buffalo, but I’ve lost control of the filter between my brain and mouth.  This is not particularly helpful when we’re trying to insist on some basic rules with the littles.  Rules like no talking back, no tattling, and please, please, treat each other with some respect.  And let’s practice some self-control and patience while we’re at it.  Funny thing is, “do as I say not as I do” training doesn’t seem to work particularly well with little ones.  Ahem.  Yes, I’m taking notes.  Because even mama needs to practice some self-control and patience.

Thursday is our first full day of summer vacation and I’m a little nervous.  I feel like the stakes are higher than usual and that we need to do something big and fun and exciting before baby.  I also have to be careful not to set the bar too high though, because the last thing I need is the kiddos expecting super-mom all summer long.  Because let’s be honest, this summer is going to be all about keeping things simple.  Think lots of popsicles, turning on the backyard sprinklers and filling up the wading pool again and again.  Maybe adding a slip ‘n slide into the mix to shake things up a bit.  And don’t forget everyone’s summertime favorite; lots of quiet time.  Ha.

Meanwhile I’m spending my time both making plans and trying not to make a single plan.  And I debate important things like, should I make *just one more* big trip to Costco to stock up?  What about all those photo albums I was going to finish?  Or maybe I should just sit at home and enjoy this last little bit of quiet?

I know, I know, all of this might seem crazy because yes, we have done this three times already, but the thing is each new baby is life-changing.  Soon we are going to meet a sweet baby girl who is going to steal our hearts.  And I know it will be beautiful and overwhelming and peaceful and chaotic all at once.

Well hellooo there.

I wish I could say we’ve been away on tropical vacation.  That sounds like a nice excuse for blatant blog neglect doesn’t it?

The thing is, I’ve been a photo slacker, which in my world leads to blog slacking.   I blame it mostly on our computer and a general loss of writing mojo but the truth of the matter is this: I hate uploading photos to the computer, every time I’m afraid it’s going to be the end. {of our computer}

But I’m committed to pushing through. I can do this.  I can out-wait Apple.  I can make do without an O key.  Well, that and I’m committed to preserving bits and pieces of our life for me to pour over when I’m old.

Of course, I’ve never been one to make a long story short, but in this case it might help to just focus on some key points that took place during our tropical vacation.  {a.k.a. the last month.}

* Charlie turned 5. I don’t want to talk about it.

* William turned 3.  I don’t want to talk about that either.

* Charlie got a full sleeve tatoo.  Didn’t see that coming.

* Henry painted his masterpiece that’s been two years in the making.

* We celebrated my grandma’s life at quite possibly the most inspirational memorial service ever.  Grandma was a witness in everything she did and it was an honor to recognize her love and devotion to the Lord.

* William started pre-school.  Let’s talk later about that OK?

*We inherited my grandmother’s beloved piano.  It’s a beautiful family treasure that we are honored to have.  I’m already on the hunt for a piano teacher for Henry.

*  Of course the piano is a blessing, but it did require us to change-up our living room furniture.  In my world, un-planned change = uncomfortable.  And I really, really hope this doesn’t sound like complaining because I’m not, but I’ve had to poke a bit of fun at myself at how much this furniture switch-up has thrown me off-balance.

* This probably isn’t a new point but that one was getting long.  In the midst of all of this *change* I’ve learned a few things about myself.  One of my greatest skills is moving the same 20 knickknacks around our house and making it look new.  {or maybe I’m fooling myself?}  For Pete’s sake it took me 7 years to figure out that darn living room.  That’s a lot of knickknack moving for me and furniture moving for my friends.  On the bright side, perhaps all of those years playing house as a child are starting to pay off?   I should also point out that I played *Nordstrom* when I was a kid.  {not joking.}  That too has served me well later in life.

Whew, still with me?  Just a few more, I promise.

* We bought a new vacuum.  That might not seem like something worth documenting, but in my world it has been life-changing.  I’m also fully convinced that for the last 11 years I have simply been pushing dirt around.

* The boys camped out in the backyard.  Add in some s’mores and it was a roaring success!

* Yesterday I worked out for the first time in over a decade.  As in I went to an actual GYM.  Today I can barely walk.  And heaven forbid something falls to the floor.  I plan on going back tomorrow.

* Out of sympathy Alex made dinner for us last night while I drank a beer and complained about how sore I was.  And wouldn’t you just believe it, the kids gobbled down every last bite of the veggie stir fry.  Including the tofu, the peppers, the zucchini, you name a veggie they ate it.  Even William who typically survives on applesauce and bananas and cheese.  Go figure.

One last shout-out for summer vacations.

Tonight the air has a hint of fall in the air.  It’s crisp and cool and as much as I’m ready to welcome the cooler weather it is also bittersweet, this changing of the seasons, time flying by.  But before we get ahead of ourselves and declare it fall, we have still have birthdays to celebrate, back to school send-offs and a vacation that deserves a shout-out.

Of course I have far too many photos to share. But what good is a blog if it doesn’t include a long drawn out vacation recap?  I hope you don’t mind.  I’m pretty sure my computer is up in arms about the photo overload.  Yes, our computer saga continues.  I mean really Apple, would it kill you to just release the new iMac so we can quit limping along?  The O key is shot, and I’m pretty sure our current machine might explode…but let’s get back to vacation mode shall we?

We had the privilege of joining our friends for what’s become an annual vacay at Lake Chelan and in our third year, the fun, the weather, the water and the company did not disappoint.  Our kiddos were in their element and I’m pretty sure our time on the water sealed the deal for Alex who has been itching {and constantly researching} for a boat.  It also helped that he rocked it on the knee-board.  Don’t worry, he’s totally redeemed himself and learned how to slalom ski the next week.  What a guy.

count ’em up, that’s five happy littles on one boat…

Alex’s new sponsor shot.  Totally hot right?  Sorry ladies, he’s taken.

Love this guy.  Alex had never waterskied before but tried and got up on his first try, proving how *easy* it is to Henry and his buddy Anthony.  They weren’t convinced.

Charlie loves the water park…he’s a total adrenaline junkie.

This little guy, not so much…

kayaking, paddleboarding…doesn’t get much better than this…

The littles loved the ski trainer.  Half the time though we were yelling at them to quit waving and clapping and to hold onto the darn handle.  Too cute.

Seriously, what is he, like 16?!

Among other many other tenacious skills, the beauty of travelling with our friend Joy is that she plays the role of photographer, which in my book is a treat because it is a rare occurrence for me to have my picture taken.  And to have a photo with my kiddos?  Well that’s just icing on the cake.

There is however a downside to all of these photos…

{and yes, it not only looks like I lived in that hat for a week, I actually did, much to Alex’s dismay since he was the one that actually packed it…}

Henry was a fan of the tube and was obviously getting a bit too big for the trainer.  While he did give water skiing a try, we might have traumatized the neighbors between his skiing {screaming} and people {joy} flying off of the boat.  Sweet boy did survive this character-building session.

our gracious hosts testing out the new tube…

sweet hair!

safe to say Charlie is pretty comfortable on the tube, he was sound asleep!

Lazy mornings.

Without really meaning to, we’ve filled our summer days to the max.  A few weeks back we about melted in the summer heat when our A/C went out and I reconfirmed that my motivation is directly tied to the temperature of my surroundings.  Needless to say, my motivation pretty much went out the window.  Yet even in almost 100 degree weather and with a rather busy summer schedule we’ve enjoyed plenty of lazy mornings.  Often we’re reading, lounging, coloring, watching too many curious george episodes, playing with trains and other toys, or we’re out back enjoying some sprinkler and wading pool fun.  All before nap and quiet time.  And we’ve rediscovered this truth; sometimes a little boredom is a good thing.  Well, that and a renewed appreciation for our A/C which is back on and cooler than ever.

And as much as we are all {maybe just me?} craving a bit of the structure and routine that the school year will bring with it, I’m also afraid it’s going to be a bit of a shock.

It’s a miracle!

Our vegetable garden the last three {two?} years has been pretty sad.  We’ve put on a brave face for the kiddos but in all honestly its been a wee bit embarrassing.  Enter this year.  Its like witnessing a living miracle every day.  Our kids have been harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, basil, green beans and sugar snap peas and based on their reactions you’d think we had practically invented vegetables ourselves.

Swimming lessons and dentist appointments.

Today all three boys went to the dentist.  Only Henry had a full cleaning, x-rays, fluoride – the whole bit – but even the little boys did well for their teeth count, quick brush, and fluoride.  I was feeling pretty smug when our dentist said that all of the boys teeth looked great and were cavity free.  I was quickly put in my place when Henry responded “Well, that’s really amazing because we hardly ever brush our teeth!”

Today was also Henry’s last swim lesson for the summer.  He has made so much progress this year and is finally confidant and eager to swim alongside his buddies now.  {yes, all of this is true despite the picture, he’s attempting the butterfly stroke so we’ll cut him some slack.}

I have to admit that between three dentist appointments and swim lessons I was really feeling like a *real* mom.  Which is funny because I swear half the time I feel like a little girl playing house.

P.S.  I’m going to give short and sweet posts a try.  We’ll see how well this works for a gal who tends to write, edit, edit, write and then finally adds photos.  But honestly the only up-dates this blog is going to see need to occur during a 25 minute Curious George episode.  Me and my darn screen time rules.

PPS.  Our *O* key is hit or miss at best.  Pretty sure it has something to do with a certain little one *playing* office.  Bummer.