I am so happy that I'm doing this. It's just that setting up my classroom, and yes, even sitting in meetings at the beginning of the year held the excitement of a fresh start. I do miss that, no matter how much I want to be home with my girls. I have always, to a certain extent, craved the routine of going back to school at the end of August. After all, summer is summer: The Fly by the Seat of Your Pants season, and that can actually become exhausting.
Anyway, I figure it's time I do a real family update for our "yearbooks." We'll start with the youngest (Jeff, this means you're last ;-)):
~ Austen Jean ~
She is going on two and a half, and busy showing her age. She is currently enjoying grabbing things she knows she's not supposed to have (Mama's yarn, K's toys, her own pull-up when she's supposed to be putting it on) and running. Not just running, but doing it with an "I'm so bad" grin and a "I know I'm going to get it for this" squeal. Usually it's funny -- although we do try to stifle the giggles as much as possible to avoid encouragement -- and sometimes it's beyond frustrating. (Think tangled yarn trailing through three rooms of the house.) Either way, she's two and she's showing it.
We are well into the "I wanna do it myself" phase. This is especially fun when it's not something she can actually do herself. I try, oh I try, to stay patient as she struggles with the carseat buckles for five minutes before finally giving in and asking for help. She does get to that point, and usually asks nicely for help and we are done and off.
The girl's got spunk, but she is also the sweetest, cuddliest, most nurturing little lovebug. She is very into her baby dolls right now, and is the best little mama. She puts them down for naps in her room, and goes to check on them when they are crying. When she takes care of them she's always whispering and being extra gentle. She takes them to go potty, and tells them what a good job they did. She could spend a whole hour just taking care of her babies.
I fear that I may have given Austen my love of shoes...and hopefully it won't be too expensive of a love when she gets older. When we go to other people's houses, she's like a moth to a flame when it comes to their shoes. She finds them right away and puts them on. Or, she delivers them to their owner. You can also find her delivering abandoned sippy cups. Such a little helper.
Austen LOVES her big sister. Oh, they can fight, but they have a bond that is unbreakable. I absolutely love listening in on their conversations. So much of the time they are gentle and polite to each other (and get into giggle fits that only sisters are capable of) and play very well together. We do go back and forth between playing nice and some hitting and pushing throughout the day, but overall they have a pretty dreamy relationship. Mama sometimes needs reminders to focus on all of the times they are loving, and not let the hard/feisty days overshadow the good.
She still loves milk and her sippy cup in the mornings is her comfort (which I love -- anything to hold onto small pieces of babyhood), she loves playing in the bath but hates her hair being washed, is a great sleeper, loves dance parties and always requests music ("Can we have a dance party?"), wants Mama when she's tired or hurt (but also adores her daddy and asks for him plenty, too), changes outfits multiple times a day -- dresses are a must, and frequently requests mac-n-cheese and play dates with Makya and Paigey.
We went for a family run tonight and Jeff had to stop and walk because of his calf. When I tried to go ahead, Austen wasn't having it because she wanted to run with me. I took her out and she ran about half a mile back to the house <---- seriously! (and reminding me that I needed to run, too. Shuffling isn't as easy as it looks!). She kept looking up at me and just beaming. So proud to be runnin' with Mama. :)
~ Kaitlyn ~
We call her "K" or "KK" much more than we use her full name. She is the sweetest, most polite almost-four-year-old, but can also give us a run for our money. Let's just say that when she's in a bad mood, she's let's it be known, and it's not easy to deal with. We have many, many more good moments than bad -- it's just that the challenging ones are extra challenging. :) I have also noticed a lot of improvement over the last couple of months.
She climbed into my bed yesterday morning after Jeff had left for work, snuggled up and said, "I love you, Mama." She uses please and thank you for a majority of the day, and loves to be Mama's helper. In fact, one thing I've found calms her down immediately if she's grumpy is to cook or bake with her (or something similar). She absolutely loves to feel big and important -- and I love making her feel that way. Lately, she keeps referring to "Mama and me" like we are the best of buddies. And we are, most of the time. ;) "Mama and me have to do it this way because we are big."
We have been doing soccer once a week since June, and Kaitlyn loved it for about the first three weeks. After that, it went down hill and is now to the point where she just plain doesn't want to do it. Austen's class is before hers, and by the time it's over K is tired and wants to go home. I am finally to the point of saying "Oh well, we tried it." I have a hard time with things like this because, again, I feel like I did something wrong to cause her motivation to partipate to go down. I'm over it. It was fun to watch her rock it a few times, and now...oh well. :) She is who she is, and we love her for it.
Kaitlyn loves rice -- she could eat it for every meal, and it's one of the only foods she'll finish on her plate, she loves her friends, LOVES rides and I can't wait to go back to the Monroe fair on Friday, loves dancing and dresses just like her sister, has amazing penmanship and coloring/painting/drawing skills for her age, and loves the movie Thumbelina right now (from1994, on Netflix streaming). Oh, and she's our mischevious mess maker. We cannot leave anything in her reach that can be dumped, sqeezed, or smeared; she'll find it and make an epic mess. This is a phase that can kindly take a hike any time now.
Weekday mornings when Kaitlyn climbs into bed with me are one of my favorite times of the day. Oh, and bed time is going great now, with the exception of a night here and there. We finally cut out naps all together, so she's actually tired when she goes to bed. Hallelujah, amen.
We went to the Civic Club a few weeks ago and they happened to be having a members celebration. Kaitlyn went right out into the mostly adult crowd and danced her booty off. I just love watching her dance -- it's this outgoing, freespirited side to her that I hope follows her as she grows up.
Ya can't play a video in a printed book, so here's a play-by-play:
~ Lisa ~
I have been enjoying this summer off with the girls, and am so excited for this upcoming school year. I don't know if I have mentioned yet that I'll be subbing while I'm off. The goal is two days a week, for as many weeks as possible. This will make us slightly more comfortable with the new (tight) budget. I will start as soon as jobs start popping up...it may be a few weeks. I am looking forward to subbing in my former students' classes!
I am getting reaquainted with crochet and am attempting my first granny square blanket. Stay tuned. As much as I don't want to see summer go, the hint of fall is making me look forward to cozying up with warm tea and projects.
Running is on the agenda each week. I try for 4-5 runs a week with long ones on weekends. I have come to really enjoy getting up before my family on a weekend morning and heading up to the Centennial Trail in Snohomish for a long run. As much as I love sleep, this really is my favorite way to start to the day. It's motivating, energizing, and therapeutic. I am not currently signed up for another half marathon, but I like the training schedule just for staying on track. It makes me feel good (and helps to offset the effects of my sweet tooth).
Some days, I feel like the best, most together mom in the world. Other days, I feel like I have no business being a parent. Either way, I have no regrets about this decision to stay home; not now, and I certainly won't 30 years from now.
I have been religiously following Kelle Hampton's blog, Enjoying the Small Things, for the past couple of years, and each week she features a few photos from Instagram -- an iPhone picture feed app. Mine was chosen a couple of posts ago, and it was fun to see the girls up on her blog. She is also the author of Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected. I recommend both as uplifting, inspiring, and sometimes emotional reading.
See upper right ;)
~ Jeff ~
I am so grateful to him for agreeing to this year off for me. It's not going to be easy, and I know that it's not his first choice financially. But, he understands that it's important for me and the girls, and is making a lot of sacrifices for this to be a reality. (There are many hubbies out there who would love to see their wives able to stay at home with their kids, but it's just not in the cards -- I know they would support it if they could.)
At work, Jeff started a temporary management position for an eight week period. His company approached him about the opportunity, as they needed someone to fill in. I think it's pretty awesome that they sought him out and put so much faith in him. He deserves this recognition and I have no doubt that he is doing an outstanding job.
The poor guy has been dealing with plantar fasciitis for close to two years now. He hasn't been able to run -- something that he loves -- in ages. His foot finally started feeling better after a lot of appointments, four shots, physical therapy, and insoles, so he has slowly started running again. Now, his calf has been cramping. We joke all the time about getting old (did I mention that I have very painful arthritis in two of my fingers?), but it's hard to laugh about it when ailments are preventing us from favorite activties. Sigh...
Jeff continues to love fishing and golf, and tries to fit them in as best he can with work and a family. One thing I love about us is that we both have independent hobbies and activities, and we allow each other to enjoy them. We can't just pick up and leave when we feel like it, but we do a pretty good job of supporting these things for each other.
In other news, I just realized today that both girls can now reach the doorbell with no tippy-tippy toes. This was not the case last time I checked. Breathe, Mama...