Monday, August 29, 2011

1st Day of School 2011

 Today is Caleb's 1st day of school (4 years old).  He has been so excited to start school again.  He is at the same school he was last year.  Same teacher.  Same classroom.  Some of the same friends.  Yay!

He started off the day with a yummy breakfast of homemade pancakes, scrambled eggs and strawberries!

Ready to go!

Outside the school...

Meredith wanted to bring her backpack in as well.  And, she wanted in on every photo.  And, she wanted to go into the classroom with all the big kids.  Next year, sweetie!

By his hook/cubby...

Ready to go into the classroom!

And away he goes.  Sniff sniff.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

4 Years Old!

Caleb is 4 years old today!  Wow, what a wonderful 4 years it has been. Our favorite firstborn is an amazing kid.  He is smart and creative and funny and kind and loving and energetic and silly.  He loves sports and trucks and books and riding his bike.  He likes to paint, pretend, and play with his sister.  His favorite colors are purple and red, and he loves to play computer games.  He likes to sing, ask questions, and make up words.  He wants to know everything about everything, and I honestly love that about him.  I rarely tire of answering his questions, trying to make the most of every opportunity we have to teach him about God, life, the world around us.

We have loved watching Caleb grow and learn and we can't imagine our lives without him.  He has taught us as much (if not more) as we have tried to teach him.  God has already used this sweet boy in many ways, and we can't wait to see what He has in store for Caleb in the years from now.  Though he is not perfect (as no person is), he is perfect for our family.  How thankful we are for him.

We had a very fun day of are the highlights!

Good Morning, Birthday Boy!

French Toast - his favorite!

Singing "Happy Birthday"...

Blowing out the #4 candle... 

Little brother getting in on the festivities..he's still a little sleepy.

For lunch, we picked up Portillo's (good choice, C!) and went to a new-to-us park to eat and play. 


After naps, we went mini-golfing...

And, we went to Red Robin for dinner. Auntie Heidi and Grandma & Grandpa joined us.

In this picture, he had just been given his ice cream sundae...

He was surprised (in a good way) when everyone started singing to him!

Enjoying his sundae...

This time of year - the end of the summer - always reminds me of those surreal last days of pregnancy.  Preparing for a baby, preparing for life to change drastically.  I can remember how those 1st real contractions felt (I was at Chipotle with Shawna and her boys).  I can remember going to the hospital not sure if I was really in labor and the nurses confirming that I was already 7 centimeters and that it wouldn't be long before I would start to push.  I can remember so many other not-so-painless details of the hours that followed, including that awful tailbone-breaking-thing, but most of all, I remember that exact moment when Caleb officially arrived into the world this side of my tummy.  And from that moment, we were forever changed.  I felt physically spent (3 hours of pushing and a large baby turned sideways and a tailbone in the way will do that to a person), but had more love in my heart than I had ever experienced before.  You mommies know what that is like.  Indescribable.

Okay, I'll stop blubbering on.
Happy 4th Birthday Caleb!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Playgroup by the Numbers

Since just after Caleb turned 1, we have been a part of a great fantastic playgroup.  All of us mommies knew one another from church, and when it started, our little ones were just that.  Little.  It is now 3 years later.  Our kids have size and number.

We have spent the last 3 years growing together.  Indoors and out.  Exploring zoos and parks and pumpkin patches and any other play area we could find.  Sharing meals and sharing toys.  Doing crafts and playing games.   And, in addition to our regular meeting times, these were families that we would get together with on other days as play, to have lunch, to get out of the house, to have mommy time.  My kids have learned a lot about friendship from this group.  And I have learned a lot about mothering from this group.  It's been such a blessing.

That first Fall (2008), we started with 6 mommies and 7 kids, ages 1 and under.  Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of all the kids together from that stage of playgroup.....4 of the 7 are pictured here.  
 (Maddie and Caleb had just turned 1; Jack was 6-ish months; Ella was 1 1/2...not pictured: Lydia, Coralyn, Matt).
By that next Fall (2009), we had 6 mommies, 9 kids, and some babies on the way.
(Meredith, Caleb, Matt, Jack, Lydia, Cora, Ella are below...not pictured are Maddie and Aubrey).

By the next Spring (2010) we had 7 Mommies, 10 kids, and 5 babies on the way, including a set of twins!

By that Summer (2010) we had 7 Mommies, 15 kids, and 1 baby on the way...Shane!  
Everyone is pictured here, plus 2 bonus kiddos (U & S who lived with us for a good portion of last summer).
One of those mommies and her husband and their 3 little ones (including the newborn twins) moved away just before the summer of 2010 ended (miss you Friend family!), so we were left with 6 Mommies & 12 kids.

Here is a picture of the little ones at the Fall Frenzy we planned last Fall...the Friend family came back up for the event, so everyone is in this picture except for the babies (Logan and Schaeffer).  And, Shane was not yet born, obviously.

When Shane was born that winter (2010), we were at 6 Mommies & 13 kids....all ages 4 and under.

This picture was just taken last week...these are the precious faces of my kids' 1st friends.  Oh, and there is one more little one on the way, due in December!  

The inevitable has happened, as it usually does.  As our oldest kids have begun to reach preschool-age, playgroup is changing....because of school schedules and life schedules, playgroup will be different this year.  And, while change can be a very good thing, for me there is always a bit of a "mourning period".  Life as I knew it was comfortable.  It was fairly predictable (you know, as predictable as life with 3 kids ages 3 and under can be).  It was fun and we have had a great routine going with some great friends.  And, while playgroup will continue on this year, there will be changes.  One family will no longer be a part of the group (you will be missed, Hillingers!) and sweet Coralyn will be in preschool during the time we meet (thankful that Lisa and Kalli will still be able to come, though).  And, we realize that our time as a group is coming to a close.

I am thankful that the friendships we've made here will not end, even if playgroup-as-we-once-knew-it is a bit different this year.  And we are looking forward to the months more outings with our friends, more full-to-the-brim houses, more messy kitchen tables and floors.

I am thankful that my kids at such a very young age have had a safe and structured environment in which to make their first friends.  Fun Fact:  "Ella" was actually the first name that Caleb said, other than "Mommy", "Daddy" and "Elmo". =)

I am thankful that our playgroup has crossed over to Girls' Nights Out and a monthly book club.  Ahhh, uninterrupted mommy time...

This stage of life - being a Mommy of small children - is amazing yet challenging.  I am most thankful that the Lord has given us a community of families who, just like ourselves, are striving to live lives that honor Him.  A community of other moms who are also seeking to raise their kids in the Lord.  And, while we may not always agree on the best bedtime routines or what our kids should eat for lunch, we are all committed to raising our kids in the Lord.  And after all, isn't that what matters the most?

Everyone at our playgroup picnic last summer (2010)...the Friend twins and Shane are there, just hiding in bellies.
Well, there you have it.  Playgroup by the Numbers.  Many mommies, lots of precious kids, 1 wonderful playgroup.

Click here to see a few past pasts about playgroup.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Puddle Jumpers

Yesterday, we played outside in the little puddles that the thunderstorm left behind...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Psalm 56:3

Caleb's memory verse for August...

Psalm 56:3
"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shane is 8 Months!

Shane is 8 months old today!

Shane's bottom 2 middle teeth have poked through in the past couple of weeks, which makes him the earliest "tooth-getter" of our kiddos. He's been drooling a lot, but has not seemed too bothered by the teething process. I've tried to get a picture of his little toofies, but no luck yet.

He is not crawling yet, but occasionally gets himself up on all 4s and rocks back and forth before falling forward on to his belly. He "gets around" by rotating on his belly or scooting on his belly (mostly backwards and very slowly). Although, he (in true Shane fashion) is pretty content to just hang out wherever we put him in the first place.

We've tried various "table foods" with him, but he definitely prefers pureed baby food. Although, he does like Puffs.

He recently moved in with Big Brother, while sissy moved out of that room into her own room. He and Caleb are great roomies so far, and Caleb is very very very excited for the day when he can sleep on the top bunk and Shane sleeps on the bottom...obviously, we have a while before that happens. =)

Our littlest is happy, healthy, and sweet as ever. It was just over a year ago that we found out Baby # 3 was a boy....and, what a blessing this little boy is to us!

A few weeks ago, Elise took some pictures of Shane. Here are some favorites...


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