Monday, November 25, 2013

Here's some happy for you!

After my last post, my friend called me and told me I "sounded sad."  So here's some happy for you!

We just finished up one of our most favorite missions projects - our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child!
I had so much fun shopping with Mason and Hannah Kate for their shoebox gifts.  I was so proud of them!  They did a great job picking out much needed gifts and even some fun things for their boxes.  We found some really great treats this year.
We had our annual Shoebox Packing Party at church last weekend.  Mason and Hannah Kate did a great job wrapping their boxes.

And then it was time to fill their boxes.  We usually end up having a hard time getting our tops on the boxes because they are so jam packed!

They spent some time writing a special letter to the children who will receive their boxes.  We always include our address and are hoping that one day we might receive a letter in return!
Even Ellie got in on the fun.  I was so excited about the gifts I found to include in her box.  She was, too, obviously.  I probably should've gotten her one of everything!
My most favorite thing was this little dollie.  She's so soft and cute and colorful.  And, apparently, she's the "it" thing.  Hannah Kate was impressed that Momma picked out a ring-around-the-rosie doll.  When I asked her about that, she proceeded to explain to me in detail about the dolls that you hold hands with and ring-around-the-rosie.
This year our Children's Ministry at church packed and collected 50 boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  We also collected $1,334.00 to donate and sponsor even more boxes.  So exciting!
This isn't a great picture because it was one morning before school, and we were in a hurry and Mason was not excited to see the camera.  In case you can't tell (because I know you can't), he's holding the FIRST PLACE ribbon he won in the science fair!  His project won 1st place in the Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering category.  Yes.  I know what you're thinking.  I better start saving now for his college education!  On a side note, a year or so ago I read an article that listed the top five careers of individuals with dyslexia.  Engineering was number one.  Dentistry (which he has been saying since he was 4 years old that he wants to be a dentist) was number five.  
We spent some time researching science fair project ideas.  It just so happened that we found one about hot air balloons.  We'd recently been to the Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival, and Mason really loved watching the balloons.  He was intrigued by the different shapes and sizes and colors and very inquisitive about how they worked.  So that's what sparked his interest in his project.

The purpose of his project was to find out if the size of the balloon affects how long it can fly.  We used a dry cleaning bag for our balloon and a toaster as our heating source.  We tested with five different lengths.  Of course, the biggest balloon stayed in the air the longest.  His display board turned out really cute, too.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it before we turned it in.  And now we won't get it back anytime soon because his project is going to the district competition.  I don't know yet when that is, but I don't think it's until January or February.

Once we turned the project in at school, Mason had to go before a panel of judges and give a verbal presentation of his project.  I just can't tell you how proud I am of him!

And I'm proud of this girl, too!  She's quite the artist.  I don't know where she gets it from.  I can't even draw stick people!  She is all the time crafting and drawing and coloring and cutting and taping and pasting.  Lately she's been drawing pictures from some of the books we have.  Here's the first one she did:
Remember this?
Last Wednesday parents were invited to attend the Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast.  The kids were encouraged to dress as pilgrims or Indians.  Hannah Kate was so excited to wear her daddy's old Indian costume.
And this girl . . . y'all, she is a MESS!  There are not enough hours in the day to tell you about the many ways she makes us laugh!

She loves books and is always crawling up in our laps to read.  She loves music and loves to dance.  I guess she gets that from her brother!  She loves baby dolls and purses.  Usually she has a baby in one hand and a purse on the other arm.  She's a firecracker, too.  She wears her emotion on her sleeve always, and she will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to get her way.  She throws more fits than Mason and Hannah Kate ever did!  So I'm already a little concerned.  But she is so full of love and joy that it's just contagious.  

She loves shoes.  She gets it honest.  The other night she walked in to the bathroom wearing Hannah Kate's shoes.  She'd even rolled up her pants!
So, yes, there have been lots of happy days!  And now that Thanksgiving is here and birthdays are right around the corner and Christmas is quickly approaching, I'm looking forward to even more happy!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Well, this post is just a hot mess.

It seems like lately our days have been filled with a lot of dress up and a lot of football!  The way I see it, you really can't go wrong with either!

Last week was Dolly Dingkle (and who knows what Dolly's REAL last name is because two years ago it was Dingkle, and this year it was Dinkle and some even said Dingle!) week at dance.  Hannah Kate put a lot of careful thought into her outfit.  Really.  She did.  
But my favorite part of Dolly week is finding out what dances Hannah Kate will be performing to at the recital and seeing pictures of her costumes.  This year's theme is At the Movies.  So each performance will pay homage to a movie.  Hannah Kate's ballet will be You Are So Beautiful from The Little Rascals.  I can't even tell you how excited we are about this!  The Little Rascals is one of the kids' favorite movies, and they watch it often.  Her tap will be Twist and Shout from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Can I just say I really never cared much for that movie.  But what a fun song to dance to!  So not only does Hannah Kate have two great songs to dance to, but both of her costumes are absolutely adorable!  It's going to be difficult choosing which one to have her dance pictures made in.  It's not until May, but we're super excited about this year's recital!   

And then last week the kids got to dress up to go to school.  Mason was Jase Robertson, and Hannah Kate was a butterfly.
So let me just take a moment to tell you what happened with Mason's hat.  His sock hat from the past couple of years is too small this year.  So I was going to buy him a new one and thought he could use that as his "Jase" hat.  About three weeks ago, Seth and I had a date night.  I had to get a few groceries at Wal-Mart.  Yeah, we date on the wild side.  Can't you tell?  Anyway, as usual, he doesn't have much patience with me and wanders off on his own.  When he came back to find me, he had this fleece hat with Duck Dynasty on it.  Perfect for Mason!  So we got it for him and told him he could wear it with his Jase costume and then use it this year during hunting season.

When Mason came home from school that day, he wasn't wearing his beard or the hat.  I wasn't surprised.  I knew the beard wouldn't last long because it was hot, and I'm sure it was itching him.  But then he proceeded to tell me that he lost his hat.  LOST his hat?  When I asked him what happened, he told me that he was outside playing on the playground and it was so windy that it blew off of his head.  Okay, so you tried to chase it, and you just couldn't catch up with it? I asked.  Then he tells me that he didn't know it blew off his head until after he went back inside.  What?!  Are you kidding me?!  Your hat blew off your head, and you had NO CLUE???

I asked him if he went back outside to look for it, and he said he did but that he couldn't find it.  So I asked him if there was a lost and found in the office that he could check the following day.  Honestly, the bottom line was that he really didn't care.  But I did.  And I got aggravated.  Really aggravated.  I mean, again, your hat blew off your head, and you had NO CLUE???  How does this happen?  Responsibility, son.  Money doesn't grow on trees, you know, and that hat was a whole $7, and now you don't have anything to wear on your head for hunting season!  It was not one of my finer moments.  Not to mention the fact that I'd just taught my little two year olds at Bible study the day before that the Bible tells us to store up our treasure in heaven and not on the earth.  And here I was fretting over a silly fleece Duck Dynasty hat.  Part of me really did want to go buy another one.  But I didn't.  And I'm glad I didn't.

He came home with that hat on Monday.  Yes, he did!  Before I had time to even think about it, I asked him who found it for him.  That made no sense because I'd actually forgotten to write his name on the tag so no one would know who it belonged to if they did find it.  That's when he explained to me that it was in his cubby.  It had been in there the whole time because he'd taken it off before they went outside that day.  He'd just forgotten.  I really have no words for that.  I'm just glad he "found" it.

We had a Fall Festival at church so they got to dress up again.  I didn't realize until I got home that I did not even get a picture of all three kids in their costumes.  Ellie just dressed in the tulle outfit she wore for her one-year pictures, and we called her a fairy.  I didn't get very many pictures that evening.  That's what happens when Mommy is in charge of an event and is running around like a crazy lady all night.

I did try to get their picture in the photo booth, but Ellie wasn't cooperating.  So I got Abbie, Mason and Hannah Kate instead.  Sort of.
Here are Hannah Kate and Abbie with their friends Emma and Kathryn.  Don't you just love their costumes?  Those came from TJ Maxx, I think their mom told me.  Emma was Queen Elizabeth, and Kathryn was Marie Grace Gardner, one of the American Girls.  So precious!
And now on to football.  Abbie was a cheerleader this fall for the 5th/6th grade football team at her school.  So we went to watch her cheer.
I honestly didn't see a whole lot of cheering because I was chasing a certain someone around the bleachers.  I think Ellie enjoyed the game the most.  We sat right in front of the cheerleaders.  She'd start clapping and jumping and bouncing along with them.  Mason later complained that he didn't get to watch the football players because the cheerleaders "made" him watch them!  Oh how I hope that's not a sign of things to come! I really didn't have much to say to that so I just let it go.

And we spent our weekend in Pearland, Texas with Avery and Beau.  Ellie stayed here with Seth's parents, and Abbie went with us.  Avery is in 9th grade.  He plays the saxophone in the Dawson High School marching band.  So we went to watch him march.  Here the kids are showing a little Dawson pride before the game.
Dawson High shares the football stadium with the other high school in Pearland.  It's called The Rig.
You know what they say.  Everything is bigger in Texas.  Well, that goes for high school football, too.  The Rig is, by far, the nicest and definitely the largest high school football stadium I've ever seen.  I mean, they sell season tickets to the games!  Season tickets to a high school football game!  The band has a fleet of five school buses and an 18 wheeler.  No joke.

The kids enjoyed the game but especially Hannah Kate.  Yes, Hannah Kate!  Can you not see her sporting those binoculars?  She was all about it!
And, apparently things have changed A LOT since I was in high school (which wasn't that long ago, by the way!).  The football team ran out onto the stadium through this huge inflated eagle tunnel (their mascot is the eagle).  Yes, they did!  And, just in case you're wondering, (because I was, and I asked) you can get an inflatable eagle tunnel, too.  It'll cost you about $38,000.  Yes.  High school football.  In Texas.
It was a lovely evening for a football game.  It wasn't too hot or too cold.  There was a breeze.  It was senior night.  Since they were recognizing the senior band members during half time, the band was going to perform their show after the game.  With three minutes left in the 4th quarter, we heard thunder in the distance.  And then the football players started running off the field.  I thought that strange.  Dawson was winning by a landslide, but I thought it odd they would call the game at that point.  And then they announced that a storm was coming and that the game was over.  They asked everyone to quickly exit the stadium.  So we did.  As soon as we got under the bleachers, it started raining.  We waited it out for 30 minutes, and then they decided the band wouldn't perform after all.  So we didn't get to see Avery's show.  I was pretty bummed.  But they are on YouTube.  They went to the state competition this week and placed 7th in Texas.

After a few hours of sleep, we got up the next morning to go to Beau's football game.  He is number 52.  His team is the Patriots.  He's played for this same team for three or four years.  He's quite the player.
If you look closely in the middle of the huddle, you can see him in on the action.
Again, it was another beautiful day for a football game.  We all enjoyed cheering him and his team on.  They had a great season and were undefeated!

The cousins were having a little fun after the game while we were waiting on Beau. 
And here they are with The Beast.  That would be Beau.  That's how he signs all of his outgoing messages.  And, yes, Avery really is that tall.  He's taller than me now.  I have to look up to him.  He'll be 15 years old next week!  
So in the midst of all the school stuff, we really have had a lot of fun the past couple of weeks.  Lately I've felt like "fun" is missing in our lives.  I'm ready for Thanksgiving break.  We're all ready for Thanksgiving break.  Ellie is getting over an ear infection.  Mason had some sort of sore throat laryngitis something or another this week.  He fell asleep in the truck on the way home from therapy yesterday evening.  Of course, it was DARK.  This whole daylight savings time thing . . . well, I am not a fan.  It's dark when we drive home from therapy and dance now.  I know Mason is just tired.  Every night this week he fell asleep on the couch before bedtime while I was bathing Ellie.

I knew our days and weeks were going to be long and tiring.  I also knew it would get worse the longer we get into the school year.  This was that week.  Last Wednesday I watched as a girl graduated her therapy program.  The therapists made a really big deal over it, gave her gifts, took her picture.  And I thought, "I wonder when we'll graduate?  Will we ever graduate?!"  Of course we will!  It just doesn't seem like it right now.  And then this weekend as I thought about Avery being in high school, I wondered what it would be like when Mason is in high school.  How in the world will we ever make it to high school?  We will.  But how?  How long will I have to sit and help him read everyday? Will he ever be able to read by himself?  Of course, I know he won't want to, but will he be able to?  Will he ever be able to sit and write something without me having to spell words for him?  Will he ever be able to do his homework without me sitting beside him the whole time?  And not that we've been at this too terribly long, but how much longer will he be in therapy?  I'd give anything to have those afternoons and evenings back!

So yesterday I asked Mason's occupational therapist "how long?"  And, of course, she can't give me a concrete answer.  I knew that.  But I asked anyway.  Without me saying it, she knew.  She told me that she saw my reaction when the girl "graduated" therapy last week.  She explained that their mission is to work with children and get them to the point where they CAN be successful in the higher grades, where they CAN work independently.  She also explained that there are some things that will always be a struggle and that will never be perfect or fixed.  But, regarding the girl who graduated last week, she said she was "ready to spread her wings," and she knew she didn't "need" therapy anymore.  And at that point, in the lobby, I just broke down for a minute.

I want to see Mason spread his wings.  I want to see him FLY!  I want to see him rise above what we know as dyslexia and overcome all of the struggles and the barriers to reading and processing and expression.  I want to never go back to therapy again.  I never imagined in a million years that this is where we'd be with one of our children.  Never.  I wonder if we're doing the right thing, if we're in the right place as far as schooling is concerned.  I mean, I know we are.  But I still ask.

When Mason is all grown up, I don't want his memories of me to be just trips to therapy and hours at the dining room table doing homework.  But that is our life right now.

And then I look at my precious Hannah Kate.  She is thriving in school and just blossoming.  She is pure joy and sunshine!  But sometimes I wonder if she feels . . . left out . . . in the midst of all the time we spend scheduling our lives around Mason's therapy and homework . . . and Ellie requires more attention because she is still a baby.  I mean, Hannah Kate watched the tears flow yesterday when I was talking to Mason's OT.  And then after that, Ellie climbed up in my lap so I held her for awhile.  Hannah Kate was sitting across from me.  Just looking at me.  I wish I knew what she was thinking in that moment.

Most days I feel so inadequate for this mothering thing.  These three children of mine are amazing.  AMAZING!  I'm certain they're teaching me a whole lot more than I'm teaching them!  As much as I want Mason to spread his wings (Hannah Kate and Ellie, too), I have to admit I'm more than a little glad they're still in our nest for awhile!