Tuesday, May 24, 2016

End-of-school-year awards and recognitions

Can I just say that I'm a few billion percent proud of these boys?

Please indulge me. It's the end of the school year, the season for award and recognition. So this proud mother is going to capture some of the awards, recognitions, and all-around good things happening for William and Andrew this spring.

William received the award for the top reader in the entire fourth grade at his recent fourth grade graduation. This is the kid who also rereads parts of his favorite books on a regular basis, and yet he still managed to amass the most Accelerated Reader points in the grade (of approximately 140 kids). I love that he loves to read. Love love love it.

They also announced that he qualified for the Duke University TIP (Talent Identification Program) for gifted kids, which surprised me a little bit since I didn't know the school even was aware of that.

But what really surprised us was William's perfect attendance record for fourth grade. David and I looked at each other with a "Whaaaaa?" expression. "That can't be right," David said dubiously. But when we reflected back, we realized that it was Andrew who was sick a lot this year. I guess we were conflating that and last year's pneumonia.

At any rate, I may have cheered and hollered a little--okay, a lot--when they were announcing his name and awards. He works hard, and I'm glad to see him get some recognition for it.

I'm also proud of him for his dedication to the Blair Children's Chorus. Some parents would have to fight or bribe or at the very least cajole their kid into attending a choir rehearsal every week. And William's not just attending one rehearsal per week but two. William happily trots off to both church choir rehearsal and Blair rehearsal every single week--along with handbells practice and piano lessons--with no complaints. (Regular snacks are helpful, however.)

Photo of William and his proud mama at the chorus' recent spring concert:

Then there's Andrew. This sweet little guy is doing second-grade level math as a kindergartener. Not too shabby, I'd say. He catches on to concepts so quickly that it sometimes takes me off guard.

We call him our little engineer because he likes to tinker with things, experimenting to see what works and what doesn't. He's always so pleased with his final results, and you can't help but be pleased along with him. Check him out with the birdhouse that he made at the Bellevue Community Picnic last weekend:

Andrew also carries around these little pencil top erasers that are shaped like kitties. He calls one Blueberry, and the other one is Leaf. He's built them little houses--he calls them "lairs"--out of cardboard boxes and sheets of paper that he's cut and taped together. They are hilarious and makeshift and absolutely wonderful. I hope he never gets tired of creating things to make himself happy. 

Andrew's reading far better than we realized, too. He adores the "Pete the Cat" series of books, which he can read with no help. He can tear through books like "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" too. Truthfully, I think he could read even harder books if he wanted to.

Here's a photo of David and me with Andrew at his class kindergarten awards day last week.

He received the Skor Award (complete with Skor candy bar) for Being a Star Athlete with a Winning Attitude. His teacher wanted to recognize him for being the Fastest Boy in Kindergarten, since he's so proud of winning the kindergarten boys' sprint race back in the fall.

Yes, David and I were both wearing blue checked shirts. Great minds think alike, yo.

And here's the fourth grade graduate, shortly after the graduation service ended.

I'm still finding it a little hard to believe that William is finished with elementary school. I mean, that's crazytown. Wasn't he just finishing kindergarten himself? And now middle school is on the horizon. But I won't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow.

Friday, May 06, 2016

One decade

It's freaking me out a little bit, but I have been the mother of a person who is AN ENTIRE DECADE OLD for two weeks now. That's right. William turned ten years old two weeks ago.



Which means there's another big piece of news. This blog that you're reading--the story of our lives--is now ten years old, too. My very first post that launched this blog was dated May 6, 2006. I had no idea what I was doing, either. I emailed a couple of friends who had blogs, asked them a few questions, and then got online and just...well, started writing. (That's what you do when you're a professional writer. You don't dither around. You just start typing and figure that you can come back and pretty things up later.)

And here we are, a decade later.

I sometimes marvel at my ten-year-old son. He's about as tall as my chin. He's wearing a size 5 shoe. He continues reading his way through countless books, including J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Two Towers." He can play "Fur Elise" and "The Entertainer" on the piano--okay, and the "Star Wars" theme, too. He can ride a bike, swim the length of the pool, play soccer, write essays, do a load of laundry, and all sorts of other things. He'll start middle school in just a few more months.

Ten years ago, however, I was looking at my two-week-old baby and thinking, "Oh my God, I love him so much. But what have we done?" David and I were sleep-deprived, still a little in shock. I was post-partum and sometimes a little hysterical from it all. I adored my new baby boy, but I didn't really know what I was doing, and it seemed like I was often just improvising as I went along. It did get easier when William started sleeping through the night. I felt better, steadier, when I was finally able to get more sleep, too. Even if I didn't always know exactly what I was doing, I didn't feel as desperate from the lack of sleep.

Fortunately, it all turned out okay. Not that I haven't made mistakes along the way, but overall, so far, so good.

Here are a few photos from the birthday boy's birthday dinner!

Notice that William has a big old grin AND a few smears of barbecue sauce on his face. He asked for his own ribs from Jim 'n' Nick's for his birthday dinner. He's definitely his daddy's boy, that's for sure!

Monday, March 07, 2016

Now we are six: the Andrew remix

 This precious boy is now six years old! He turned six on Wednesday, February 24, a chilly morning that seemed appropriate, given that he was born on a cloudy chilly day with snowflakes in the air.

Yeah, I made him stand outside without his coat on before school so I could take his picture. I'm that kind of mom. Fortunately, no extremities were lost as a result of the cold.

We actually threw a birthday party for him the previous weekend, and our friend Mary Clare got this wonderful family photo of the four of us at the party. And there's not even that much frosting smeared all over him!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A snowy day

Remember when snow days were fun? Like when they didn't mean that your kids were going to be out of school for days upon days upon days?

Yeah. Me neither.

But seriously, we had an epic snowfall last month. It started snowing in the wee hours of a Friday morning, and it snowed and snowed and snowed. We got about nine inches, all told, which is very unusual for Nashville.

It was beautiful. In fact, I felt almost giddy. Sometimes, we'll get a couple of inches of snow, just enough that it makes things pretty for a few hours. And then it starts to get all messed up. And I feel sort of miserly about it, like "Don't walk in my front yard because you'll use up all the snow and it'll never look pretty again!" With this snowfall, it just kept snowing. We tramped around in our yard, and a couple of hours later, you couldn't even tell.

And the sledding was fabulous. We took the boys to two different areas of the neighborhood for different sledding experiences. First they hit the hill behind a neighbor's house. A short steep hill that gives a quick fast ride, but not a scary one. You rarely see the big kids or adults sliding here, but it's still fun.

Then we braved the long fast slide of a hilly neighboring street. A family photo afterward.

Andrew was a hard sell at first for the street sledding. The sledders were working up some fairly impressive speed, and he wasn't so sure he was ready to take a chance on it, despite having taken a similar ride last winter during Icepocalypse 2015. He was enjoying giving scores to all the other sledders (and he was a tough judge). We coaxed and cajoled and finally convinced him to try it. (Was there a bribe involved? I couldn't say.) At the end of his big ride, he scored himself 100 out of 100. Yep.

The best part of this particular snow was that it lasted for a couple of days, in all its glory, and then it got washed away by rain. And the boys only missed a couple of days of school altogether. (Later, they missed three days for a piddling couple of inches that disappeared very quickly, which is far more typical here.)

I think most of us were so pleased by our big January snowfall that we're about ready to bid farewell to winter and welcome spring. But, it's still just mid-February, and chances are, we'll have at least one more bout of crazy winter weather.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Here We Go, 2016!

Happy New Year!

And now we embark upon the traditional time of year where I can't ever get the date right. I'll be writing and saying 2015 for at least the next 30 days or so.

But at least it finally feels like winter. It felt like spring here for what seemed like weeks. It was over 70 degrees on Christmas Eve. I had to scrap the boys' cute Christmas pullovers and pull random shirts out of the closet.

We even took advantage of the warm temps and went for a run/bike ride/walk on Christmas Eve morning, in fact. Notice the short sleeves. 

It was bizarre. But beyond that, the recent spate of weird warm winter was also a little scary. We had some terrible thunderstorms and at least one night of tornado warnings. I don't panic easily, but when the tornado sirens near your house are going off and the radar shows spiraling winds a few miles to the west, you start to get a little anxious.

We did wind up having a lovely warm Christmas, though. The boys gamely wore their matching Christmas pajamas (thank you, Hanna Andersson) so I could have nice pictures of them together. And everyone loved their gifts and no one was sick. 

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Perhaps the biggest hit of all the gifts was the R2-D2 laundry hamper that....Santa...brought to Andrew:

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In fact, he even insisted on sleeping in it that night. He brought it into his bed, got inside the hamper (it's flimsy), pulled the sheets up, and snuggled in for a long winter's nap. Hey, whatever gets him to go to sleep at night, right?

Hope you had a lovely Christmas and a happy and safe New Year's Eve and Day! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Playing catch-up

I took a whole series of photos of Andrew playing joyfully in the leaves in our front yard a few weeks ago. This is the sort of thing that I routinely posted on the blog a few years ago but have fallen out of the habit of doing. I'm really sorry about that, too, since these sorts of photos end up being some of my favorites. You know, the joy-in-the-little-things types of pictures.

I gotcher joy right here:

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He actually objected when I began to bag up the leaves!

I would also be remiss in not highlighting the fact that David and I ran the Boulevard Bolt on Thanksgiving morning this year. It was David's first time to run the Bolt in a number of years, and it was my first time since the year that I ran it when it was seventeen degrees at race time. (I will never get tired of mentioning that.)

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Diane and Mark did the Bolt, too:

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William has been busy, too, just in case you were starting to get nervous. He sang in his first big concert as a member of the Blair Children's Chorus at Vanderbilt. He wore his first tux (well, tux sans jacket) and he was most pleased with that.

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Why, yes, he is available for proms and weddings. (He sang beautifully, too, and he definitely earned that plate stacked with treats.)

And finally but most importantly, we recently lost my last living grandparent. My grandfather Bill Larson died a couple of weeks ago. He was two days shy of his 98th birthday. We will definitely miss him, but we also know that he had a good long life, and he was surrounded by family even at the end.

We held a visitation and a small graveside service in Vicksburg, MS, where he is buried. and then we had a memorial service here in Nashville earlier this week.  I got this shot of the extended family after the graveside service:

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It is strange to think that Grandaddy Bill won't be around any longer, but I think he's probably overjoyed to be in heaven with Mama Lou again!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Fastest Boy in Kindergarten

God made Andrew for a purpose. He also made him fast.

Say "hello" to the fastest boy in kindergarten, folks!

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As part of the annual Hound Dog Run event, the school holds a sprint race for each grade. The fastest boy from each class competes against the fastest boys from the other classes in the same grade. Same for the girls. Andrew won a preliminary race so he got to compete for his class in the kindergarten boy sprint race last week.

He was sooooo proud to be the fastest boy from his class. He was also pretty confident in his ability to win the whole race, too, and become the fastest boy in kindergarten. Well, we've always known that Andrew was fast, but we also didn't want him to think that he was just going to win the race. So, during the week prior to the event, we all talked up the value of doing your best, running hard and finishing strong, and being happy for the winner.

"Andrew, all that matters is that you do your best," I would say in an encouraging voice.

William would then pick up the conversational ball and talk up the importance of just getting out there and giving it your all and not worrying about whether you win or lose.

David talked about the importance of running hard all the way through the finish line.

"And no matter who wins, you're already a winner because you won your class race! And that's so cool! You'll always be the fastest boy in your kindergarten class!" I would say cheerfully. "So you can be super excited for whoever wins!"

Andrew's response to our pep talks?

"I'm going to win."


"Won't it be so cool when I win the kindergarten boy sprint race?"

No lack of confidence in this one, eh? Um, the power of positive thinking? Sure, okay.

The morning of the race, Andrew made sure to put on his favorite sneakers "because I'm fast in them." And he lined up at the starting line with his gaze fixed on the finish line.

(I just asked him about that a few moments ago. "I was thinking I was going to win," he said.)

The coach blew the whistle, while my dad and I held up our iPhones to video the race (you can hear me screeching Andrew's name in the background near the end). They were off! Andrew was not in first place right off the bat...but he pumped those legs, surged past the leader and won.

He. won. Just like he said he was going to.

I couldn't believe it. I mean, I could believe it. See my earlier statement that we knew he was fast. But he won! He actually came from behind a little bit and won the race!

Afterward, he was very pleased, but totally not surprised. Hadn't he told us that he was going to win? We were the ones lecturing him about doing his best (check), finishing strong (check) and being glad for the winner (CHECK CHECK CHECK). He was just doing all those things.

The fastest boy in kindergarten and his big brother:

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