Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Break

We had a very low-key Spring Break this year, but that didn't stop the kids from having lots of fun. We managed to fit in a trip to visit MeMe, Granddaddy, and some of our cousins. And then we came back and had a bit of a staycation for the latter part of the week. I've been neglecting my photo-taking responsibilities lately, so I only have a few pictures to share from our Spring Break.

One of our spring break priorities: some crafty projects for Ben's upcoming wedding. Can't wait!!

Girls day! Enjoying a pedicure with MeMe.

The highlight of my Spring Break -- spending some much-needed time with my bestie cousin Robin.

Cousin Karlie babysat Kaitlynn and Preslee while Robin and I shopped. She is awesome!

Proof of a fun day with cousins: Kaitlynn crawled into bed with Preslee and fell fast asleep before the Mommies were home from shopping. Success!

Back home in Katy, the kids attended a Parents Day Out at their gymnastics place. Later that day, Kaitlynn found out that she had been promoted in her weekly gymnastics class. She was SO excited and proud!

Kaitlynn received her promotion certificate and stood proudly on the presentation podium.

Look at that face! She was SO proud and excited!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Old Man Winter

Living in South Texas, we don't often have complaints about the winter. We get a few cold spells--some nights that dip into the freezing temperatures--but usually Old Man Winter leaves us alone and lets us enjoy our mild winter weather.

Well, NOT this winter!

We should have suspected a cold winter was coming based on the fact that last summer was unusually mild. Isn't that the way it works? So far this winter we've had 2 non-snow "snow" days off from school, and 1 very icy day/night with all kinds of tree damage and power outages. Crazy! It doesn't happen much around here, so when it does, it's definitely blog-worthy!

Everything was so cold and covered in ice, Kaitlynn asked if Princess Elsa (from the movie Frozen) had visited our land. Ha!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I'll never forget when Connor first started attending the local Christian preschool when he was 3 years old. He had been in public daycare for 3 years, so it was very new for him to come home talking about the Bible stories he had learned and lessons from a Christian perspective. I loved it! Then during his first spring there, he came home talking about Easter and about how Jesus died for everyone to save them from their sins. I remember wondering how this 3-year-old could possibly understand the concept of sin. When I asked him if he knew what a sin was, he replied simply, "A sin is a bad choice."

I'm not sure why that definition was so powerful for me, but I will probably never forget that conversation and the simple words that defined such a profound concept. Maybe I grew up thinking of sin as something so much more complex and hard to describe.

Fast forward 4 years and now I have a 4-year-old daughter that has been struggling with her own bad choices. Jeff and I have known from the time she was a baby that Kaitlynn was not your ordinary strong-willed child. Her defiant nature catches us off-guard at the least expected times. When it comes out, Jeff and I will sometimes look at each other with wide eyes and open mouths trying to figure out the best way to communicate with our daughter-slash-brick-wall.

Now, let me just say, I have known these days were coming for a long time. My mother--my poor, sweet mother--has been telling me about the "child I deserve" for as long as I can remember. There was just no "getting it" until Kaitlynn came along.

Now, I get it.

Kaitlynn's preschool teachers have been working hard to get their kids ready for Kindergarten, and behavior is a key component of their readiness. While Kaitlynn has had a great year in school academically, I would say her biggest lessons continue to be in behavior and discipline. We have been working with her on listening, obeying the first time, and showing respect at all times towards her teachers (and parents). While Kaitlynn is definitely improving, along the way she has had to experience some consequences of her bad choices.

Writing an apology letter to her teachers.

"I will make better choices tomorrow."

Kaitlynn's preschool class has a "clip system" to handle discipline in the classroom. Each child starts out every day on the color green which means "ready to learn," and they get moved up or down in colors based on their behavior that day. Moving up to blue, pink, and purple means that they've had a great day. Moving down to yellow, orange, and finally, red means a report to the parents and sometimes a note home or trip to the Director's office.

Recently there was a week at school when Kaitlynn had several "yellow" days in a row, which means she had to move her clip down for bad choices (not paying attention, not following directions, etc.). On the 3rd day in a row of "yellow", the teacher talked with me about how Kaitlynn and her classmates had not been behaving well and that they (the teachers) were going to have to start implementing some new discipline measures in the classroom. After discussing the situation with the teacher for several minutes, I was feeling very down and disappointed in Kaitlynn's behavior.

Kaitlynn could tell I was upset as we were walking to the car, and so she began nervously talking about random things--anxious chatter to fill the silence. I was very quiet and solemn as we kept walking.

"Momma, why are you so quiet?" Kaitlynn asked.

"I don't feel like talking right now," I replied. "I'm too upset about your behavior report from your teacher, so I need some time to think."

We continued to the car quietly and then we both got into our seats. I picked up my phone and started texting (venting!) to Jeff while we were still parked.

After a few moments, I heard a very quiet and shaky voice say from the back seat, "Do you want a new daughter?"

That got my attention. "What did you say?" I asked, unsure.

"I said, do you want a new daughter?" Kaitlynn responded.

"Why would you ask me that?" I asked, bewildered.

"Because of my bad behavior this week."

I couldn't believe I had heard her correctly, so I put down my phone and turned around to face Kaitlynn in the back seat. Her eyes were tearing up and she looked so small and sad. It just about broke my heart and took everything I could muster to not tear up myself.

I looked her directly in the eyes. "Kaitlynn," I said gently but clearly, "You are MY daughter. God gave you to ME, and I am so lucky for that. Sometimes you make good decisions, which makes me happy. And sometimes you make bad decisions, which makes me sad. But no matter what, good decisions or bad, I will ALWAYS love you. Always. And I would never want another daughter. Only you, because you are mine and I love you so much. No matter what."

"Do you understand that?" I asked, still looking at her directly, trying to control my emotions.

With tears in her eyes and a quivering chin, she nodded her head.

I could barely drive home with all the tears pouring from my eyes. Parenting is so hard.

Another apology letter. She then had to read it to her teachers.

We continue to experiment with the best way to motivate Kaitlynn so that she'll make good choices. I think it's probably like this with most kids, when sometimes we think she's "got it" and other times it feels like we've taken big steps backwards.

Years ago, I attended a MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) event where the church pastor gave a talk, sympathizing with us young mothers and acknowledging how exhausting and challenging this phase of life can be. But then he went on to say something that I'll never forget: as difficult as this phase of parenting with young children can be, it's not the most difficult phase we'll encounter. I immediately assumed he was talking about how hard it would be with teenagers. (Ha!) But no, he went on to explain his opinion, that by far the hardest phase of his own parenting had been when his kids entered young adulthood--when their choices can have permanent and life-changing consequences. Wow, was that impactful!

As we continue teaching our kids the importance of making good decisions and understanding that poor choices will always have consequences, I am reminded of the overwhelming task that we are raising little humans who will one day be adults that make their own permanent, life-changing decisions. Parenting is just. so. hard!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fun Fridays with Anais

After a LONG drought of missing her best friend, Kaitlynn was over-the-moon excited to be invited to spend the day with Anais recently. Kaitlynn and Anais have been best friends with such a strong connection from the time they were 18 months old -- such babies! And now these big girls love each other more than ever and enjoy every second they have together. It has been harder to get together since we moved to Katy, but we sure make every effort because this friendship is just so special.

Anais and her mom, Keri, took Kaitlynn out for an incredibly fun day while I was attending Connor's Fun Run at his school. The girls started out at Chuck E. Cheese for some games and pizza, then attended their weekly reading class. After that, they picked up Anais's younger siblings at preschool where Kaitlynn was able to say hello to her former teachers and classmates at Foundry. Then they went back to Anais's house for a long afternoon of playtime followed by a fun dinner. I couldn't believe all of the fun that they managed to pack into a single afternoon. It was no surprise to me that Kaitlynn didn't want to come home! Here's a recap of their Fun Friday together in pictures from Keri:

Kaitlynn loves riding in other peoples' cars.

Chuck E Cheese pizza for lunch.

Enjoying the rides and games with their tokens.

Back at Anais's house, they enjoyed some TV time with Anais's sister, Amelia.

Time to play outside.

In the backyard playhouse.

This picture cracked me up. They look like little old women, enjoying a nice chat outside in their lawn chairs.

Dress-up time! No girls' playdate is complete without princess costumes!

And a tea party is also always on the agenda.

Anais taught Kaitlynn how to play Guess Who?

Time for some playtime with dolls.

Oh my, Kaitlynn is SO in love with her best friend. Look at that face! LOL!

Posing before dinner; Kaitlynn couldn't contain her excitement!

After such a fun Friday with Keri and Anais, we wanted to return the favor by inviting Anais for a sleepover. We tried to have her over last fall but it seemed like someone in our families was always sick. Thankfully, this time everyone was perfectly healthy and the girls were super excited to spend the night together. This was the first time Anais had visited Kaitlynn in her Katy house, so the girls had lots to do and explore. Here are some pictures from their fun sleepover:

Oh my goodness, these girls were SO excited for their sleepover!

Finally at Kaitlynn's house, let the fun begin!

What's first? Princess dress-up, of course!

They gave me a little performance, ha!

Enjoying a Nutella snack outside on a beautiful day.

We enjoyed a frozen yogurt treat after dinner.

Their eyes ended up being bigger than their tummies, ha!

Right before bedtime, we had some very sleepy girls!

Sweet smiles.

Jeff made the girls a big pallet in Kaitlynn's bedroom. So comfy and the girls slept great.

Donuts for breakfast!

Playing in their pajamas after breakfast. By the destruction of the playroom, I'd say it was a successful sleepover, ha!

We are so blessed by the friendship with these two sweet girls! I know the older they get, it will be harder and harder to get together. But seeing how much Kaitlynn and Anais love each other, I have a feeling we have a lot more Fun Fridays in our future!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cowgirl Cutie

We didn't make it to the Houston Rodeo this year, but that didn't stop us from pulling out our favorite Western wear for the rodeo activities at school. Kaitlynn was SO excited to wear her cowgirl hat, belt, and boots and was quite the model strutting her stuff. I think I may have died a little from all the cuteness, oh my!!

She sure knows how to rock that cowgirl gear! All the girls in her class had so much fun in all of their Western cuteness. They even learned how to country dance at school. We may have to find a way to work these accessories into Kaitlynn's wardrobe rotation. Love!

Kaitlynn and her classmate Kennedy during Western week. Love these girls!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Updates from WoodCreek

Connor came home one day last month talking about how his class at school was getting a new student. It reminded me of when Connor was the new kid at WoodCreek this time last year. And then I realized... that was exactly one year ago! My how time flies! When I think back to that hectic time of 3-4 hour daily commutes to get Connor to school, I wonder how we ever survived.

The February-March timeframe in the Houston area always means one thing: Rodeo time! Usually the kids and I get all dressed up in our Western gear and happily attend many of the rodeo events around time. This year, Connor didn't seem to want anything to do with it, and I had to admit I agreed. Connor reluctantly participated in Western day at school, but this year his rodeo shirt and belt buckle were accompanied by sneakers and skinny jeans. Ha!

Another fun activity that happens in February at WoodCreek is the annual Fun Run. It's a big fundraiser for the school where the kids seek pledges and then run laps to earn money. The entire week of the Fun Run is packed with high energy and excitement as Captain Awesome and his crew get the kids pumped up for the big event. This year, the run was moved to the gym due to wet weather, but we still had so much fun cheering on the kids as they ran. By the end, all of the kids were red-faced and sweaty. They earned their money!

Lined up and ready to run.

Connor was pumped and ready to go with his armband.
The kids got a mark on their shirts for each completed lap.

I even got to run one of the laps with him.

Captain Awesome let me take a picture with him. Connor thought that was so cool, ha!