Thursday, April 25, 2019

Dear Camden, {almost} 9.5 years old

Dear Camden,

My 9-year-old boy...seriously, is that even possible? I started this blog years ago when I was struggling with infertility and desperately wanted to be a mom. And then- voila (okay, not exactly voila; more like months of tears, hormones, and injectable medications)- along you came! Now you are a boy-- not a baby, not a toddler, not a preschooler, not even a little boy-- but a boy. And oh, how I love the boy you've become.

You are so like me in so many ways. You're a little anxious, slow to warm up around new people, and you worry about things more than you should. Yet you're also so like your dad; you've got the same long, lanky legs; the same ability to eat whatever you want and not gain an ounce; and the same obsession with sports-- particularly baseball and hockey. And then, in many ways, you're just you. You make friends easily. You're an excellent student. You can entertain yourself for hours just by being outside, lost in your imaginary world of sports tournaments. You hate kisses, but you freely give hugs. You're a gifted, creative writer; maybe one day, Cheeseburger the Cop will be on bookstore shelves.

My sweet Camden Miller, I love you more than I could ever adequately express in simple words. I hope you always know how special you are-- not simply because you were our much anticipated first child, but because you're so uniquely you.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Dear Macey (6.5 years old)

Dear Macey,

It's been a while since I've written here-- nearly 2 years to be exact-- and you've done a lot of growing up in that time. Currently, you're a first grader, although I think I'll always have my doubts about whether sending you to kindergarten at age 4 was the right decision. I think that's just my nature, though: to doubt, to worry, to second guess. Luckily, you did not inherit those traits from me. You are the epitome of a carefree spirit. You smile and it lights up your entire face (I noticed that when you were still an infant, by the way). People always comment on your happy-go-lucky demeanor and your infectious smile. Truly, when you smile at people, they can't help but to smile back.

You're a social girl; we can rarely walk down the hallway at school without hearing at least one, "Hi, Macey!" However, you do have one very best friend. You did in preschool too. You're kind to everyone, but you prefer one bestie. I was that way, too. Your best friend this year is Eliza. You're attached at the hip. I watch out of my classroom window sometimes as you walk around the playground with Eliza, heads leaned together in deep discussion. Oh, to know what you're talking about. Probably Tic Tac Toy-- a YouTube channel that is your current obsession.

What else is there to know about you at this age? Your age, by the way, is currently ALMOST six-and-a-half. You take gymnastics once a week. You read fluently, though reading isn't your favorite thing to do (I'm hoping that changes!). You have played a few seasons of soccer and seem to really enjoy it. You love your family and shower us with affection. You're strong willed, which I sometimes have to remind myself is actually a good characteristic. You stand up for yourself and for others too. You're confident, which is something I deeply admire about you.

I tell you frequently that you're such a joy and I mean every word of that. You bring so much laughter (yes, the tweak is currently still around) and happiness into our lives. I can't wait to see who you become, but I am enjoying every minute of who you are right now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Disney World 2016

We just got back from the kids' first trip to Disney World! I had mixed feelings about the trip beforehand. I was excited for obvious reasons-- I knew the kids would love it. I was around six years old for my first flight and trip to Disney, so I thought it was pretty neat that Camden would also be six for our family's flight and trip to Disney. But I also had hesitations. I mean, it's Disney. Which, to me, is synonymous with ridiculous crowds, long lines, and heat. I didn't know how my kids would do with all of the walking and waiting around. I didn't know how Matt or I would do with all of the walking and waiting around (ha).

As it turns out, Disney is pretty--- wait for it--- magical. Yes, there were crowds. Some lines had a 2 hour wait (no, we did not stand in those lines). It was unbearably hot one day. But, it was still pretty perfect.

Camden fell in love with roller coasters. Before we left for our trip, one of my friends asked me if Camden is adventurous-- if he would go on all of the "big" rides. My answer? I have no clue. Now I know: he's definitely fearless when it comes to amusement parks. He rode Space Mountain and Splash Mountain without batting an eye. He loved the simulated rocket launch at Epcot-- otherwise known as the most intense ride in the park. Matt said that instead of screaming, he laughed his way through the coaster rides.

Macey's favorite thing to do at Disney was meet princesses. Thanks to fast passes (mostly) and luck (a little), we were able to meet: Belle, Aurora, Jasmine, Cinderella, and Ariel. No Elsa and Anna, BUT thanks to a little hurricane mishap and lots of cancelled fast passes by other guests, we were able to snag a spot on the new Frozen ride. Watching Macey meet the princesses for the first time is something I'll always remember. The look on her face-- there are just no words to describe how a little girl looks when her favorite toys come to life.

So, we're home now and I'm already thinking about our next trip to Disney. I never, in a million years, thought I'd be that person. What would I do differently next time? Stay on campus. We had an awesome rental house with a pool (thanks to my generous parents). The kids loved it. But next time, I'd want to stay on campus so we get some of the added perks, like first access to fast passes and easy transportation to the parks. I'd also love to go in October again but next time I'd want to splurge for the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Pricey, but I think it'd be worth it with older kids.

In a nutshell: well, I still wouldn't choose Disney for my honeymoon (yes, there were LOTS of honeymooners there), I would say I've hopped on the "Disney is the greatest!" bandwagon.
Waitin' on our plane...

We had to flee to Tampa for one night thanks to an approaching Hurricane Matthew. But, the kids love hotels so no biggie.

Day One: Magic Kingdom


Day Two: Epcot

Day Three: Animal Kingdom

Day Four: Magic Kingdom



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Camden's a Kindergarten Grad and I'm a Better Blogger

I started this blog in 2008 as a way to vent and air my feelings associated with infertility. Through blogging, I found a community of infertility bloggers that could relate to what I was going through. As time went on (and I eventually had two children), I started to use the blog as a way to discuss parenting triumphs and woes. I told a few people about the blog. Matt told a few people. Then I partnered with a publishing network to make (a tiny bit of) money; Matt and I told even more people about my blog because, you know, page views equal dollar signs. What I didn't realize I was doing, though, was losing my space; my blog became a public diary of sorts and I (subconsciously at first, and then quite consciously) started watering down what I would write about because, well, I'm a fairly private person and didn't feel like having real-life friends reading about every detail of our lives. And then there was my kids' privacy to consider. As Camden got older, I started to worry about posts related to poop withholding and stranger anxiety and other things that might potentially embarrass Camden should a classmate happen across my blog somehow. So, my posts became generic and downright boring in their lack of detail. Changing my privacy settings is my attempt to combat that feeling of oversharing my life. I miss this space being my own. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. And I want to be able to give all the gory details of raising these two amazing kids.

First up: Camden's kindergarten graduation. After all, that's what prompted me to change my privacy settings. I wanted to write about his graduation, but I didn't feel like I could do it justice without discussing the struggles of this school year. And I didn't feel like I could do that with a public blog. So anyway, here it goes:

The beginning of kindergarten was rough. Camden had a hard time adjusting. I'm sure part of that was just his slow-to-warm-up temperament, but I think part of it also was adjusting to the long day. He only went to preschool 3 days per week for half a day so going to school 5 days a week from 8:30-3:30 was quite a shock to his little system. He had one friend from the neighborhood in his class and he clung to that friend for dear life. When that friend missed school (which seemed to happen a lot), Camden would absolutely panic. There was one day in particular when his friend's mom drove them to school and decided that Camden's friend, Blake, was too sick to stay at school and would have to return home. I remember Blake's mom calling me and sounding so helpless, saying she was stuck in the school parking lot because Camden wouldn't go in the classroom without Blake. Then there was the "specials" drama. Specials are classes like Art, Music, Spanish, and PE. Camden finally decided he was okay with his regular teacher, Ms. Holder, but did not, under any circumstances, want to go to specials. I remember Ms. Holder calling me and saying she could always tell when it was getting close to specials time, because Camden would nervously scoot closer and closer to her on the carpet until he was practically sitting on her feet. On one day, she had to sit in Art class with him.

I felt totally helpless as a mom. There was nothing I could do to control or help the situation from home. I remember lying in bed one night with Camden next to me. He cried and cried, telling me he did not want to go back to kindergarten. I put on the bravest face I could and told him it would get better, he just needed to give it some time. Then I kissed him goodnight, rolled onto my side away from him, and cried myself to sleep.

Thankfully, with time, things did get better. Camden has always made friends easily and kindergarten was no exception. Several of his classmates gravitated to him, but he made one best friend in particular named Christopher. This was a huge relief to me (and probably his teacher too!) because it meant that we didn't have to go into damage control mode every time Blake missed school. He had other friends in the classroom, which is super important to a slow-to-warm-up kid.

I ended up doing field study hours in Camden's classroom for a few months in the beginning of the year. Observing him in that environment was eye-opening for me. I've always said Camden is just like me: reserved and cautious. He is like me in those ways, but in so many ways, he's not like me. As I observed his class, I watched with admiration as Camden raised his hand to volunteer answers to questions. I was pleasantly surprised to see him dance without a trace of self-consciousness during Brain Breaks. As a kid, I was painfully shy. I would never, under any circumstances, participate in class unless I was forced to. I was strangely relieved to see that Camden didn't seem to feel as acutely self-conscious as I always did in school.

Academically, he excelled. His report cards were consistently A's and B's (well, 3s and 4s, but same difference). He pretty routinely got all A's across academic areas while the B's were reserved for specials. The comment sections on his report card were littered with compliments like "perfect student", "sweet kid", "respectful", and all those things that make a parent feel like they must be doing something right. His standardized test scores weren't stellar, but it's kindergarten and I'm not going to dwell on that.

Final thoughts: I'm so proud of how far this kid has come. He's more confident, he's reading two levels above grade level, he has so many friends, and he's just all around a really good kid. (That's not to say there aren't days that he tests his limits, pushes my buttons, and has attitude worthy of a teenager, because that definitely happens sometimes too.)

But man, I love that kid.

Monday, May 16, 2016

That's a Wrap: End of Preschool (Year One)

Because of her late August birthday, Macey is currently wrapping up her first year of preschool at the same age Camden was when he started his (3 years, 9 months). While we're still undecided about whether or not we'll "redshirt" Macey for kindergarten, I'm so glad we went ahead and sent her to preschool this year. She's had a great year and made some sweet new friends.
Also, although I don't love driving 20+ minutes to preschool, I'm still completely confident with our decision to switch her to Camden's old school back in November. Our neighborhood preschool was so, so convenient-- think: a 3 minute drive-- but some things are worth a little inconvenience (and a little more expense). This is one of those things. Macey has blossomed in this hands-on, play-based preschool environment.
Here's a little glimpse into Macey at 3 years, 9 months old. All answers are direct quotes from Macey.

Favorite color: "Pink"
Best friend: "Big Lainey, little Lauren, and Nan" (9-year-old neighbor friend, 4-year-old baseball friend, and of course, her grandmother.)
Favorite sport: "Soccer ball" (I keep trying to explain to them that it's actually just called soccer, but so far, both Camden and Macey refer to it as 'soccer ball'.)
Favorite food: "I like white donuts, chocolate donuts, and glazed donuts." (So basically, health food.)
Favorite thing to play: "My toy Elsa and my toy Anna."
Favorite thing to do with Daddy: "Play baseball with him."
Favorite thing to do with Mommy: "Play some important stuff." (We play some really important stuff, for sure.)
Favorite thing to do with Camden: "Watch him play Punch Out on the WiiU".
Favorite place to go: "Rainbow Room". (An indoor playground.)
Favorite trip: "A hotel where there's pools."
Favorite thing to do at school: "I like to be in the kitchen 'cause the kitchen has a pretend phone you can call your mom on." (Seriously, awww...)
What do you want to be when you grow up? "A princess." (Duh.)
Ready for a fun-filled day at school.

Sibling love.

I say it all of the time, but it's true: she's the happiest girl I know.
Macey takes time to smell the flowers-- pretty much a metaphor for the way she lives life.
With one of her aforementioned BFFs.

A tad proud of her first gymnastics trophy. 

Make no mistake: she can hold her own with the big boys.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Happiness is... {March 22}

Happiness is.... a train ride on a warm day.
Happiness is...that moment right before you enter the dark tunnel and the engineer instructs everyone to scream.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Happiness, March 15

Happiness is....
Flying a homemade (okay, school-made) kite on an 80-degree March day exactly one half-day before spring break begins.