So, to kick this back off *again* and since it is August I'll share eight bullet points. Because August is the 8th month and because there are 8 people in our family.
- Olivia. Olivia is three but in her mind she is a BIG kid and never wants to be left out of anything. She is only 22 months younger than the twins but sometimes that age gap seems so huge. She is SO excited to go to preschool full time this fall and will talk your ear off about it if you ask her. STILL trying to get her potty trained - she's got zero interest so that doesn't help anything. Hoping for some positive peer pressure this fall and some great encouragement from the teachers she likes! She has been a busy cheerleader this summer tagging along to her sister's softball games, her brother's soccer games and her sister's T-ball games. She is so looking forward to having her turn! She starts dance classes in September and already cannot wait to get her pretty recital outfit on and dance her heart out!!
- Kailyn. Kailyn played T-Ball this summer and said she loved it. Although I have a plethora of pictures showing her sitting on the bases and digging in the dirt while a ball whizzes passed her. Here's to hoping she is more into the game when she plays softball next year - she claims she is SO excited about this. It should be a good change of pace - the softball program is more organized and well put together. The T-Ball program leaves a bit to be desired. In my opinion. BUT she still had a great time which is what really matters. She absolutely cannot wait to go to Kindergarten. She has watched both of her brothers and her sister LOVE Kindergarten and now it is finally her turn and she is counting down the days!
- Adelyn. (5) Adelyn played T-Ball as well this summer. She was VERY into racing the other kids for the ball no matter where it was hit on the field. She was so proud of herself that she could play without Dad having to be on the field to coax her along. Dad very much enjoyed spectating this year and was proud of her (and her sister) for playing hard and having so much fun. Adelyn is a girly-girl through and through. She loves all things dresses and glittery and frilly and fancy. She does NOT like being told she can't wear a fancy dress to play outside in. Adelyn also CANNOT wait for Kindergarten. Her and Kailyn know their teacher through their older siblings and church and are so so so excited to be in her class. Mom is not so secretly glad they are together as well - it would have been an awful awful awful year if only one of them got to be with this particular teacher. Plus, these two will absolutely thrive in a classroom together. I feel pretty confident about this.
- Graham. Graham is my 100% completely and totally ALL BOY 6 year old. He does everything at 110% with much gusto. He loves hard, plays hard, and lives hard. He absolutely thrived at school this year. He is fluent in English and reading so well already. He attacks everything in his path with complete confidence he will be successful. There have been some challenges in adjusting and attaching with him but those challenges pale in comparison to the joy he brings to me and our family. Sometimes I just look at him and I am in complete awe that I have been entrusted to be his mom and that I get the privilege to raise him and point him in the right direction. Also, he is probably one of the most athletically gifted 6 year olds I have ever seen. It is so FUN to watch him play sports and excel and learn and he oozes joy especially on the soccer field. This boy. He is going to change the world. I just know it. And I am incredibly blessed and humbled to be along for the ride.
- Hadley. This girl has oozed sweetness since the day she was born. Her heart, especially for the hurting or marginalized, is bigger than I have ever seen in a 6 year old. She is wise beyond her years. I remember someone describing her as an old soul when she was just an itty bitty baby and as she has grown I have realized over and over how true that is. Kindergarten was a phenomenal year for her and she had such a hard hard hard time saying good-bye to it at the end of the year. I am realizing that 6 years old is one of my favorite ages so far. There is a lot of maturity and independence learned at school but they still have a lot of the sweetness and need for mom from the pre-school years. I am loving the stage that her and her brother are at but so looking forward to see where these two "twins" go in the future.
- Elliot. Somehow Elliot got to be 8 years old. I'm still trying to figure out how 8 years went by so fast - it feels like yesterday that he was a silly sassy toddler and now he's half grown. There are days that he can drive me absolutely insane especially as he is trying to assert his own opinions and wishes and independence BUT it has been pretty amazing to watch him grow into a unique little man. His personality and mine are entirely different and sometimes that leads to the butting of heads but then there are the moments where he is still my baby boy who will cuddle up on my lap. I try to soak up all those opportunities because I know they are getting fewer and fewer. He has been taking karate classes with his dad and has learned so much. He tried out for the all school talent show this year and secured himself a spot! I was SO proud of him (there were tears involved). We were able to go watch him do his routine that morning in front of everyone in his school and parents (more tears from me). I still reflect back on those scary days in the last weeks of my pregnancy with him and those days in the NICU and then I look at him now and I am just amazed at the blessing that has been rained down on us. He is my kiddo that is least excited for school to start this year. I think he knows that 3rd grade is going to be a whole new world of homework and learning. His second grade year was phenomenal and he ended it on such a high note - he discovered confidence and a love for reading and I keep finding him curled up in random places with his nose in a book. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!
- Erin. Me, myself and I. ;) As my kids transition out of the uber demanding season of babies, toddlers and preschoolers I am discovering a whole new realm - one where I can turn over a number of responsibilities to the kids and have a reasonable amount of confidence they will be successful. They dress themselves, take themselves to the bathroom (hopefully Olivia will be included here soon), and feed themselves breakfast. They can put on their own shoes and pack their own backpacks. For a long time it felt like I would be forever buried in never ending tasks that included a lot of poop. I have actually, for the first time in YEARS, scrapbooked. I cannot tell you how good that was for the soul. I have discovered a whole slew of books that have been transformative and I have a list a mile long of more I want to to read. The cool thing is that I now live in a season where that is possible!! I am learning more and more about myself, what I need to feed my soul, recharge my spirit, and be a good mom to my kids and wife for my husband. I am discovering things I am passionate about and learning that it is ok to say no to things that wear me down or don't feed me. And that is so freeing. There are many things I do miss about the baby days and the sweet little toddler age but I am also SO excited to see what is next for my kids and what they do with life.
- Mike. His days are kept very very busy with work. He has transitioned into a new position at Deere in the last couple months. It seems to be a good fit and he seems excited to go to work. He has kept busy doing karate with Elliot this year and rushing out the door to a kid game right after getting home from work. As well as doing a bunch of cooking this summer (wahoo!!) Both him and I are looking forward to being able to have lunch dates ALONE and KID FREE this fall after school starts. He's been super busy the last week or so working to clean up a lot of the overgrown bushes and trees in our yard. There is still much more to be done but already it is an improvement over what it was! We've both agreed to go with simple and very low maintenance landscaping from now on. At this stage of life neither of us has the time or the desire to spend free time keeping up extravagant landscaping stuff. In just over a week we will celebrate 9 years of marriage - feels like it has flown by in the blink of an eye. We escaped last weekend for some time alone while the grandparents were on duty. It was fantastic and so good for us to get some time away without any big plans or agendas and to just be. Love doing life with him and getting the chance to recharge once in awhile is so necessary.