Another School Year

School is back in session! Lauren started 4th grade and that sounds so strange. She is excited and ready to tackle another grade. As I was putting pictures on the computer from Lucas’ first day, I ran across pictures from Lauren’s first day 5 years ago when she started K-4! Look at how we have grown:

Goodbye and Hello

Lucas saying goodbye to daycare

The familiar adage of “Time flies” does not do justice to my thoughts over the last four years as we start a new school year and Lucas is part of it! Lucas started K-4 this week and said goodbye to daycare and hello to “real” school.

Time has flown, soared, catapulted, and leapt through space. It really had to have been “yesterday” when I had him and now he is sitting in a class with a uniform. He was ready and excited to start his first day and he made us proud. Part of my maternal makeup thought that maybe he was “too’ ready on the first day of school-he was 100% positive, no tears and no dependence at all for me to even be there. You know… that is hard for a mom who knows this is the last child and who looks at the time that has passed and realize it may only get quicker from here. But…I thought the reverse of this independence and 4-year old confidence may be just as unbearable. I looked around at all the other 4 and 5 year olds and there was a young boy in Lucas’ class that cried and clearly did not want to be there. That was painful to watch for his mother and also for the rest of the other parents. As a mother, you want to be the hero, the rescuer, Superman with a dress even(:-), but you know that the first day is a test of letting go and the first of many similar tests to come. As I watched the him, I realized it was ok for Lucas to be content and happy on his first day. So, I enjoyed the moment of seeing him content and happy and thus I became content and happy.

So many times in life, we are forced to say goodbye and we are not given the opportunity to say hello to something else. Lucas said goodbye to daycare on Friday where he had been since 3 months old. But, on Tuesday he was able to say hello to a new school, new teacher and new friends. Yes, I do have a tinge of sadness but I also have happiness and excitement for this new chapter for Lucas. I am thankful I am here to say hello with him.

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Happy 9th Birthday Lauren!

Today is my firstborn’s birthday and of course, I am in shock at how fast the time has gone. She is growing up to be a wonderful young lady and I cherish each moment I get to spend time with her and be her mother. Birthdays of your children also push you into a state of reflection because right after you see how much time has gone by and how quickly it evaporated-you began to question the results of your parenting and evaluate how you can be better. There are some moments I am proud of and there are some wasted opportunities as well. You only get one shot at parenting and you never get a guide-book on what to do and what not to do. It is truly one of those experiences that are trial and error and you learn every child is different and that every experience is unique. I know it is not healthy to wallow in the past in a state of “If only I had, I wish I had….”. But as I look back over the 9 years, I definitely have some completed statements to those. I cannot change the past, but I can change the present and make it a better future. Today, I am extremely grateful to have her as my daughter and that she is in good health and an active 9-year old. I want her to know how much I love her and I wrote her a love letter for her 9th birthday to express how I feel. So many times as parents, we make the mistake of pushing our children into an assumed state and hope that they assume we love them because of the things we do, the things we allow, and the things we buy. Today, I did not want Lauren to assume-I want her to know just how much I love her and how much she means to me.

Here is my love letter to her:

A love letter to my Daughter on her 9th Birthday

When I was in high school, all my friends would talk about wanting to get married and have kids. I never joined in the discussion and when asked, I always said I wasn’t sure that I wanted to have kids. I never babysat or took a liking to kids. I eventually got married later on and was still tentative on having children. Then one day my feelings changed and I decided I wanted to have kids. I originally wanted a boy because I thought it would be easier. I remember crying when then told me I was going to have a girl. But I quickly became thankful that I was having a healthy baby regardless of it being a girl.

My first child Lauren Gabrielle Mason was born on Tuesday, July 8 at 7:43 am. Wow! It was a miracle and I was filled with so much joy and love that I never knew was imaginable. I had to fight Daddy just to get a chance to hold you because he was holding you and didn’t want to let you go. You were such a beautiful little girl and I was proud to be your mommy.

When we brought you home, I had no clue what to do and was terribly afraid I would mess up. I remember crying and begging Granny to stay when it was time for her to go back to work. But I survived. You and I had a schedule each day and things begin to fall in place. Each afternoon we would go outside and sit on the porch and you would enjoy that.

All of those memories are 9 years ago today and it’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast. I’ve watched you grow up and I’m amazed how it feels just like yesterday I was watching you in a bouncy seat or pushing you in a stroller. I have so many great memories as you have grown up.

  • Your first birthday party-you had on the cutest outfit but cried most of your party. You didn’t like the clown and all the entertainment that was there.
  • Your first steps-that was so fun to watch you start wobbling and walking.
  • The field trips we would go to at Covenant Classical and Hoover Christian.
  • Your potty training days-you learned so quickly and it was a breeze. You were fully potty trained at day and night by two years old.
  • The move to Birmingham-it allowed you to come out of your shell quite a bit even though by nature you tend to be reserved at first.
  • You starting to read at age 3 1/2- Wow I remember you with a little book in your little hands reading, “Sam ran…”
  • Your kindergarten graduation-that was a proud moment to see you in your gown and then you gave a class speech at your kindergarten graduation and everyone was amazed at how well you could read.
  • Your first piano recital-you have had several since then and it’s amazing to see how much you have grown technically and with your self-confidence.
  • Getting your first trophy in 2011 at the piano competition was a huge accomplishment.

You are an extremely smart and caring young girl. You are inquisitive beyond your years and you never settle for surface answers but always explore to go deeper in your thoughts.  You have a sweet nurturing quality inside you that likes to take care of others. You are highly affectionate and do not mind showing dad, your brother or me how much you love us.

In 9 short years, you will be 18 and finishing high school and starting a new chapter in your life. If the next 9 go as fast as the first 9 have–I’m not sure I’m ready. Not ready because I feel like I have so much more to teach you and show you that I haven’t. I want you to be prepared to live your life with a love for God and a love for yourself. I want you to know that you can do anything. I want you to carry yourself with a high degree of integrity and respect. I want you to love others and find continual ways to help others and to give unselfishly. I want you to love yourself and be comfortable with who you are-both your abilities and your shortcomings.

Above all, I want you to know how much Mommy loves you with all of my heart! I’m so grateful that God gave me such a wonderful gift and that he trusted me to raise you. I am sorry for my shortcomings and the things I have not done well as a parent. I would ask that you forgive me for any times you have felt unloved, undervalued or not appreciated. Parents make mistakes just like kids you know and I can say I’m sorry when I’ve done those things.

Mommy is so proud of you today and think the world of you. You are becoming a young lady now and I’m proud to be your mommy. I love you to the stars and wish you a happy 9th birthday sweetheart!

Love,

Mommy

Financial Peace at 8

Finances and the study of it, reading about it and trying to organize my funds are all things I enjoy on a small-scale. I have a saying I have used for a long time which is: “I spend my money on paper before it spends me!” The word budget is almost like a four-letter word when I mention the “b” word to most people. I do not quite understand that at all. We do a budget every month and simply write down what we think we will spend each month and what we have to work with. I am not an anal budgetary person, but just like to record and organize it in such a way that it is pre-planned and not spent first. I cannot fathom not doing this whether I made $20K or $200K. I was not reared in my home talking about money. The only talk on money was the lack thereof. I knew nothing about a savings account or a budget. I wish I had known more then…

Well, several years ago early into our marriage we began trying to adopt some of the financial principles found in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. I am so glad we did and we live by those principles today and they have been extremely helpful.

At the beginning of the year, we introduced the Financial Peace Jr. concept to Lauren and so far, it has gone well. The FP JR. concept utilizes a commission based approach versus an allowance. She has a weekly chore list with commission amounts she can earn for completing the tasks. It hopefully will connect the dots for her that work=pay (commission) vs. an allowance and she gets a set amount weekly no matter what she does.  We are about 8 weeks in and so far she earns an average of $3/week. She has bought her some books and a souvenir on her spring break vacation with her own money! She gets her weekly chart each Sunday and turns it in on Fridays to get paid each week. The first few weeks were constant reminders from us, but she now has her sheet on my desk every Friday to get her money.

Once she gets paid, we have a spreadsheet that shows her how her money is split into 3 categories-1. Save (5%), 2. Give (15%), and 3. Spend (80%)-she can use this amount to spend on whatever she wants. This will hopefully cement in her mind that she is to give to herself and to God a portion of all she earns. I think these are valuable lessons for all ages, but especially valuable at age 8. I wish I knew this at 8!

Happy Birthday Lucas

 

My baby Lucas turned four a month ago and the saying is true that time flies! It is hard to believe that he is 4 and is a little boy instead of the baby I used to hold and rock. Marcus says that he has me wrapped around his finger and I am perfectly fine with that declaration. He loves his mommy and mommy loves him! I know that Lucas is our last child, so I definitely feel that I have behaved differently with him versus with our firstborn. I feel like with the first child, it is easy to “wish it away.” Meaning I was always looking forward to the next phase (“I will be glad when she can sit up/crawl/walk/talk, etc) instead of simply enjoying the phase she was in. With Lauren, I knew we had plans to to have another child and since she was our first, I did not truly understand that she was going through all those stages I wished for at record speed. With Lucas, I cherish each phase, age and milestone because I know it fleets away quickly. It feels like yesterday we brought him home. We ahve gone from sitting to walking to full-blown runs. We have gone from breastfeeding, to bottles, sippy cups, throwing cups, to drinking openly with a straw. We have gone from changing diapers hourly, to potty training, soiled underwear, and doing potty dances. From cooing to babbling, first words to complete sentences and unlimited questions. Lots of stages, lots of phases and lots of growth. I am grateful that I have seen each one and I am happy to be his mother.

 

Now that I have had my “mommy’ moment, let’s talk about his party. We had a Toy Story theme complete with a cowboy hat for Lucas! We had at a gymnastics place which was a big hit with all the kids. We had the entore gym to ourselves and the kids played on the trampoline, completed an obstacle course and then took turns jumping in the ball pit and ziplining. It was a blast! Afterwards, we served cake, donuts and ice cream and all the kids left full and tired which was my present to the parents.

First School Project

Lauren is in 3rd grade and recently had her first school project! I am not sure why I find this concept exciting, but I do. Her project was to make a volcano and they erupted them in class. Now..let me be clear that although I was excited about her having a project, I was not thrilled on what the project was. I am not good at those types of things like making volcanoes or such items. Where most make think it is simple to follow those directions and make something like that, it is very unnatural to me. That side of my brain doesn’t even click in at all.

But, her dad came to the rescue and led the project and I was most happy. Once the volcano was formed, I did pitch in and help paint and decorate it and that was more up my alley. Overall, it was a cool activity and made me feel like she was in “real” school. I am very proud of her.

A Day at the Park

I love being outside during beautiful weather. It invigorates me. It excites me. The fresh air, the beautiful splendor, the scenery, the “nature” of it all brings me joy. On a recent Saturday afternoon, three days after the passing of Derrick, I certainly needed something to bring me a bit of joy. The kids and I went to Aldridge Gardens and spent a couple of hours walking, holding hands, feeding the ducks, feeding the fish, and just simply enjoying nature. Those two hours were a nice break from the pain and a reminder that there is still life somewhere even though I was hurting from a recent death. Below are a few pictures that remind me of our day in the park: