Friday, October 31, 2014

From Baby to Boy to Man - 16 Years with Cody

At the end of August, we celebrated Cody's 16th Birthday!!  A lot has happened over the last 16 years.  I don't have baby pictures of Cody on my computer because that was before the digital age of photography.  These were the earliest I could find.  
Cody at 23 months old.  Right before we moved to Colorado.  
 He was a hilarious little kid.  So smart and funny. 
These pics of he and Lauren just crack me up!
 This was his first day of Kindergarten
 I look back at these pics and they seem so long ago.  So much life has happened since they were taken.
 He has been to Swaziland twice.  
 Basketball has become a sport he really enjoys whether it is on a team at school or playing street ball at Cottonwood Creek Park
Here we are on Cody's Bday.  Our firstborn boy is becoming a man.
 I will never forget the day I started having to look up to him because he had grown taller than me.  I also remember being upstairs at home one day and hearing a man's voice downstairs while knowing that Rick wasn't home.  Thinking, "Wait just a minute, that is Cody talking," so disturbing and cool all at the same time. 
 To celebrate his 16th Birthday, this year, we did "16 Days of Cody's Favorite Things!"  Every morning when he woke up, there was a little gift for him from someone in the family.  Each of his brothers and sisters took a day to bless him.
Here is a sampling of his gifts:
Eat More Chikin!

 Cody has become quite the magician with his card tricks 

 I think he enjoyed waking up each morning to a different treat!
 On his Birthday, we had a family meal of pizza
 and his favorite, mint chocolate chip ice cream
He also got his first very own smart phone, an iPhone 5C. 
He was pretty surprised
Getting it all set up.
 He also went to a movie with some friends to celebrate.
In the months of Sept. and Oct., he and Rick participated in a "Passage to Manhood" group with some other friends and their dads.
 Their time ended with a weekend retreat and ceremony
 It turned out to be a great opportunity for some meaningful connections and conversations between Rick and Cody and their friends.
The word that was given to the moms at the Passage to Manhood Ceremony by the leader was "Release."  That is what I feel like this stage with you is all about.  I have been a part of every moment of your life over the years.  I have poured into you.  I have taught you.  I have disciplined you.  I have loved you with everything I have.  Now, I must trust in that foundation that we have built and release you to be the man God has made you to be.  I would be lying if I didn't say that it is hard for me.  I kind of like to be in control.  BUT, that is not about you or my lack of trust in you.  It is about me adjusting to this new role in your life and struggling through all the emotions that involves. As the oldest, you always get to be the one we figure this stuff out with.  I know that is a hard place to be and you get the brunt of the mistakes that we make.  I am sorry for that.  I want you to know that I am proud of you.  You are a strong man.  You are the hardest worker I know.  You have a soft spot for those that are different and left out and you seek to include them.  You are not swayed by other's opinions and aren't afraid to stand up for what you believe in.  You are hilariously funny.  You are very articulate and can see things others can't see.  You have a maturity about you that your life and struggles has developed and fostered in you.  I cannot wait to see the man that you become.  I pray that you will "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."(Prov. 3:5-6)  I love you, my firstborn son.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Driving Me Crazy

In the last 48 hours, my truck has been driven 350 miles.  350 MILES.  Apart from a quick trip up to the Denver airport and back (approximately 150 miles), I have driven 200 miles in Colorado Springs dropping off and picking up kids from their various activities.

I know some day this will end.  I know it is only temporary.  BUT, it is INTENSE and I want to record it so we can look back and remember accurately what it was like.  This is going to be a very boring post for most of you.

I will use today as an example:

6:20 AM - Wake up

6:50 AM - Leave the house to take Cody and Lauren to school.  

7:10 AM - Drop Cody off at DCC

7:20 AM - Drop Lauren off at TCA - North, then return home

7:40 AM - Arrive home

7:45 AM - Leave the house to take Abby, Sam, and Isaiah to school

8:05 AM - Drop them off at TCA - East

8:20 AM - Arrive back at home

Laila and I spent the morning at home, a rare thing.  I made us breakfast and cleaned the kitchen while she had a movie on for us to watch.  I also did some laundry and completed some paperwork that needed to be done.  Then, I made Johnnycakes for Isaiah's Constitution Day.

10:45 AM - Leave the house to go see Isaiah's Constitution Day performance.

11:00 AM - Arrive at TCA - East for the performance

12:15 PM - Abby, Sam, and Isaiah have a half day of school every Friday.  I had a parent/teacher conference at 12:30, so a friend took the four kids home for me so I could have my meeting.

12:30 PM - IEP meeting for Laila's speech therapy

12:50 PM - Leave TCA -East to go home

1:05 PM - Arrive Home.

I cleaned the kitchen again from the kids' lunches.

1:30 PM - I went upstairs to lay down for a little bit(I have been fighting sickness this week.  I can't wait to share in another post about that).

2:15 PM - Get up to begin the afternoon carpool run.

2:30 PM - Leave the house to pick up Cody and Lauren

2:48 PM - Pick up Cody at DCC

2:53 PM - Arrive at TCA - North to pick up Lauren

3:15 PM- Leave TCA - North after waiting for Lauren to come to the truck

3:30 PM - Drop Lauren off at soccer practice

3:45 PM - Arrive back home

I used the next hour to put together supper, red beans and rice with sausage that could be cooking in the oven while I ran other errands.

4:45 PM - Leave the house to pick Lauren up from soccer

5:00 PM - Pick Lauren up from soccer and take her home

5:15 PM - Arrive home, and immediately leave to take Abby to gymnastics

5:22 PM - Drop Abby off at gymnastics

5:30 PM - Arrive back home and immediately leave to take Lauren to a friend's house for a sleepover

5:45 PM - Drop Lauren off

6:00 PM - Arrive back home

I fed the 3 younger kids their dinner and once again, cleaned the kitchen.

6:50 PM - Leave the house to pick up Abby from gymnastics

7:00 PM - Pick Abby up and head home

7:07 PM - Finally arrive back home for the night!!

7:10 PM - Put my jammies on!!

Currently, Isaiah and Laila are watching TV in my room.  Cody has three friends in the basement with him who are spending the night.  Abby is getting her shower and will then eat dinner.  Sam and I are watching the fourth Harry Potter movie because he recently finished the book.

I. AM. EXHAUSTED.  As I typed this out, I can see why.  I wish I could say today was unusual.  It was not.  Every week day is like this.  The weekends are a little better.  They are often spent at sports games, running errands that I need kids to run with me(clothing shopping, school supplies for projects, etc), and church.

I am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and wearing my jammies most of the day!!

Cody will be able to get his license at the end of May.  That should help a little.  It cannot come soon enough!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Back to School 2014

August is a crazy month in our house.  The amount of work and money it takes to get these kids ready for school just about does me in every year.  Between uniforms and school supplies, I spend so much time going all around town trying to get them everything they need for the best price possible.  This year was probably the hardest yet because everyone is now in school.  
Lauren started school before everyone else.  She was not happy having to get up and go to school for several mornings while everyone else stayed home and slept in.  
First day of 8th Grade
 The elementary kids got to go a few days early to meet their teachers and take in their supplies.
Isaiah with his teacher, Miss Johnson
 His desk
 Sam with his teacher, Miss Higgins
 His locker
 Abby with her teacher, Mr. Walters
 Her locker
 The snack bucket is ready.  School can now commence!
 Laila's class started a day ahead so that they could get them there by themselves and give them a little Kindergarten Orientation
 She is finally at TCA with her brothers and sisters
 Circle Time
 "Introduce Yourself!"
 Making a craft

 "The Kissing Hand"

 This picture sums up what this experience is really like for Laila.  She was actually miserable the whole time even though she smiled for some of her pictures.  She is such an extreme introvert that new settings are literally painful for her.  It makes me so sad for her because I know she has so much to offer.  As an extrovert myself, I just don't understand why it is so hard.
 Going to the playground
 Hearing the playground rules
 "Finally, I can be alone!"
 I know that once she gets comfortable with her classmates and teacher, she will do just fine.  She will come out of her shell and engage the time at school.  It is just the newness and unknown that is so hard for her.
She got a little reward for enduring the time at school and everything was all better!
 Cody is going to a new school this year and for the first time ever does not have to wear uniforms.  
He is very happy about that!
 First Day, Sophomore Year
 First Day of Second Grade
 Hoping this boy has a great year.   He has come a long way since the beginning of last year!
 First Day of Kindergarten at TCA
 Laila is still only in school half days, 4 days a week.  I still get her to myself every morning.  She is my shopping buddy.  We have fun together!
 First Day of 5th Grade
 Sam has the same teacher this year, that Abby had last year. 
 First Day of 6th Grade
 In 6th grade, they begin changing classes some, so she really has 4 different teachers
 The Elementary Crew
This time next year, my life will look very different.  Cody will have his license so he can take himself, Lauren, and Abby to and from school.  I will take the other 3 to school at 8:00 and won't have to pick anyone up until 3:30.  Wow, I can't even imagine.  I haven't had that much time alone since 1998, 17 years!!

This has been a good year so far.  We just had parent/teacher conferences and everyone is doing really well.
~Laila has made lots of friends and is finally comfortable in her new environment.  Her teacher is absolutely perfect for her, soft spoken, loving and very gentle.
~Isaiah is doing exceptionally behaviorally and academically.  He has become a great reader which was a bit of a challenge last year.
~Sam has met the challenge of 5th grade and the new level of responsibility in school work.
~Abby continues to excel in 6th grade.  I love seeing how self-motivated she is in her work,
~Lauren is doing great in 8th grade and staying on top of the many assignments she has.
~Cody LOVES his new school.  It is such a good fit for him.  We are so glad we made that decision.