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:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Diane and Mark did the Bolt, too:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

First Day of Kindergarten and Fourth Grade

Who has a new red backpack and just bounded off the school bus with a giant smile?

This guy!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

That's right. Andrew started KINDERGARTEN today! He's been excited about it for weeks--he would wake up in the morning and put on his backpack before he walked out of his room. Today, the big day had finally arrived. We had everything ready to go last night, so all he had to do this morning was get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and get his picture made a few hundred times.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

His report when he tumbled off the bus? "Mommy, it was AWESOME!"

Seriously, this day could have been such a mess, and yet, somehow it went so incredibly smoothly that I'm pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. We are not people who have easy-peasy smooth mornings as a general rule. We are usually running around with our hair on fire, with me barking out orders left and right and people losing shoes that they just had a second ago.

Yet, everyone got up on time, got dressed, didn't spill breakfast all over their new clothes, and didn't leave anything important behind. Both boys smiled for the camera and didn't pitch a fit. We got to school early. Not even just on time--EARLY. Crazytown. I know. Here, seriously, pinch me. I'm still not convinced.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We took William to his new fourth-grade classroom first. On the way, he saw the librarian and told her that he's reading the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and she gave him a high five. Then we pushed our way through the crowded hallways all the way to the very back of the school to find his classroom, which seemed so grown-up, somehow. The big desks, the smart board, the computers at the back of the room.  I mean, I guess by fourth grade, you're expected to do some serious learning. As he sat down at his new desk, it really hit me that he's one of the big kids in the school now. Because I'm a nervous nelly, I reminded him one last time to make sure that Andrew was on the school bus for the ride home. Trooper that he is, William reassured me (for the one hundredth time) that he would.

By contrast to the Serious Fourth Grade Classroom, Andrew's kindergarten classroom has a giant tent set up around the reading center, and it's bursting to the seams with learning games. He was delighted by the number line on his new desk and perhaps even more delighted by the special first-day-of-school snack of Lucky Charms that his teacher provided. He was so ready to dive right in. He found a couple of his new buddies on the mat and joined them, and you could see that he had already switched over into "I'm at school now" mode. I went over and gave him a hug and kiss goodbye, and he was happy to oblige, but then he joined his classmates again and that was it. I've always joked about how William was all smiles and "see you later, Mom!" on the first day of kindergarten, and well, Andrew was pretty much the same way. No tears, no hesitating, no problem.

What a relief!

Edited to add: Andrew announced tonight, "I'm now an official infinity percent kindergartner!" Yes, sweet boy, you are.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Nine is definitely fine

My mom captured this magical shot of William celebrating his ninth birthday with his family:

I meant to post the photo right away on this blog, but I'm guessing none of you are too surprised that it took me this long. :) We had piano recitals, choir programs, soccer game, meetings, and other stuff going on. Per usual for this time of year.

Style Blueprint recently ran a brilliant column about the horrorshow that May can be, and my only addition to the writer's otherwise spot-on words is this: April is just about as insane as May. Actually more so for our family, because you have to add in Easter, our church retreat at Camp NaCoMe, and William's birthday. Now that we are into the second week of May, things are finally, finally starting to settle down a little bit. Of course, I have come down with a cold because that's how I roll. Run run run at breakneck speed to get everything down, then immediately succumb to the latest virus wafting through the air with the pollen. When I was in high school and college, I often got sick at the end of the semester, after everything was done. It was my body's way of saying "You're done. Yes, you are."

Back to William turning nine. It's been a long time since this first birthday celebration:

But I will say this: he still loves cake just as much as he did then. And he is just as delightful. The beauty of William being nine is that he's becoming this wonderful person, not just a little kid. He talks about how he values kindness and being kind to other people, which just  makes my heart fill with happiness. And he does! Recently, we had a small friend stay with us overnight when his mom went into the hospital to have a baby. The little boy got sad after awhile because he was missing his mommy. William fetched the little boy a cup of ice water and sat there with him while the little boy drank the water and calmed down a little bit. Then William sat down next to him, patted him and talked so sweetly to him about what a big boy he was and what a great big brother he was going to be. (Andrew was the one who originally came and found me, and while William was helping out, he was searching for snacks for the boy, so I have to give him some credit, too.)  He read bedtime stories to both boys that night, too. 

William still tends to "sweat the small stuff" but he's learning that sometimes, you do have to learn to do something before you can be good at it. And the best part: after he learns that, he says so! This is the kid who actually thanked me after giving him a tough-love pep talk when he was struggling to ride his bike without training wheels. Still aglow from the victory of finally being able to sail down the greenway on two wheels, he sighed happily and thanked me. I think it may have even involved the words "You were right, Mom."

I love you, my sweet nine-year-old boy! 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter from the boys!

We woke up to a beautiful blue sky this morning. We definitely don't take those for granted after our long winter! Hope you had a marvelous day.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Five, finally!

Well, I feel bad. It's been more than a month since Andrew turned five, and I'm just now getting around to posting about it.

In my defense, we had weeks of ice, snow, pneumonia, and more ice and snow. Snow drifts and ice patches on the driveway. There were days and days of bad weather, days and days of fever, stomach bugs, antibiotics, sleet, trips to the doctor and to the children's hospital, and other general unpleasantness. Then there was rain. Lots of rain. Clouds, clouds, darkness, rain. Then we had spring breaks.

Then there was the day I dragged the (sick) boys to Publix and told them they could pick out anything they wanted to eat--because I just wanted them to eat something, anything. Andrew spied the bakery counter and eagerly picked out doughnuts with chocolate frosting and sprinkles after first peering at me skeptically because he thought I'd lost my tiny little mind. Which maybe I had. But I bought the doughnuts for both boys. When we got home, I ripped open the bag and tried to hand them to the boys. They both sighed and said no, thanks, they really weren't hungry and didn't feel like eating. My sons. Did. Not. Want. To. Eat. Doughnuts. Did I mention the chocolate frosting and sprinkles? I was looking around frantically for the four horsemen of the apocalypse.They turned down doughnuts.  That's how sick they were, one of those dark late February days.

William attended one-half day of school in three weeks.

If this all sounds very stream-of-conscious, that's pretty much the way that the last two weeks of February and most of March have felt. It's been a long season, let's just put it that way.

So! Andrew turned five years old right in the midst of all this. He was five on February 24, and he couldn't be more delighted about it.

I can't quite believe it myself. Five! It seems like just the other day that William was five. We got our last book in the mail in February from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. I got the info about registering him for kindergarten, too. And he qualified for the school district's gifted program.  This is happening. Andrew is five, and there's no turning back.

For his birthday, he asked for a little toy bird that plays music. He named this little green songbird Pear, and it's his new best friend. He used some of his birthday money to buy a companion for Pear--a little blue bird that he immediately named Blueberry. David and I had never even heard of these little toys, but Andrew knew all about them and knew that's what he wanted. And sure enough, he plays with them all the time. I think I was like that about my Strawberry Shortcake dolls at about the same age.

Sadly, we had to cancel his birthday party a few days later because he woke up with a high fever on the morning of his party. He had been looking forward to it for days and days, and I felt awful about cancelling. But what could we do? You can't take a child with a 103 fever to a birthday party and expose everyone else to what we eventually determined to be walking pneumonia. He and William were still recovering the next weekend, so we didn't wind up rescheduling. I am still feeling guilty about this. I wish we could have found a way to have the party, but it was just not going to work out. Ack. Like I said, I still feel bad about this. Five is such a great age...and a great age for birthday parties, too. Ack ack ack.

So a belated happy birthday to sweet Andrew! You're five and fabulous! And you have an exciting year ahead of you.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Hashtags like #OldSlickory and #Snowbama and #DwightDIcenhower have been popping up all over social media in Middle Tennessee this week. That's what you get when all these people are cooped up inside, drinking wine and getting creative. They've been having a little fun with the Great Presidents' Day Ice Storm that hit Nashville earlier this week. 

Yes, this is what it looks like when Elsa from "Frozen" comes to town: ice everywhere. Then a nice little sprinkling of snow on top, just to keep things interesting. 

It was sleeting heavily when I snapped this shot. Cold AND wet. Nice.

And since it's been cold, the white stuff is sticking around. The boys have been sledding pretty much every day this week.  The sole benefit of having ice is that it makes the sleds really zip along. I took about 50 videos of the boys sledding down various hills in the neighborhood. We had a few wipeouts, and a few near misses, but no one got hurt and no one cried, which makes it a whopping success in my book. 

Andrew was a little tentative at first,
but after his first whoooooosh down the hill, he was hooked.
We are staying inside today, however, because it was only about 9 degrees the last time I checked the temperature. No thanks. We don't have clothes for that. Yes, before you ask, we do have some Cabin Fever, but I think Cabin Fever is slightly preferable to frostbite. Ask me again later today, though...

William, preparing to slide down the hill
and hopefully avoid slamming into the trampoline.

Monday, February 02, 2015

My, this sleeve looks tasty!

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance mentioned on Facebook she was collecting suggestions of things that kids do that make parents wonder if they're the only ones.

For example, a parent might wonder, "Is my child the only one who...

...eats dog food right out of the dog's dish?"

...sticks beans/holly berries/erasers/beads in his nose/ears/both?"

...demands privacy when she goes to the potty but barges in on me every time I dare to shut the bathroom door?"

My contribution to this list would have to be, "Is my child the only one who chews on all the sleeves of his shirts?"

Except, well, I know that I'm not. Who knew that this was a common childhood thing for lots of kids? I didn't know until the Internet because I never did this as a kid, and David says he didn't, either.

William used to chew on the neckline of his shirts. Thankfully, he stopped. Eventually. But now Andrew has started chewing the sleeves AND the necklines of all his shirts and sweaters. It is driving me bananas. He KNOWS that this drives me crazy and that he's not supposed to do it, but he does it anyway. And somehow, the clammy damp slobbery fabric flapping around his wrists (and neck) DOESN'T EVEN BOTHER HIM.

Gah. I'm having the vapors, just typing it out. Yuck yuck yuck.

No, Andrew doesn't have any sensory or anxiety issues. In fact, he's pretty well adjusted, and he supposedly doesn't exhibit any behavioral issues in school. He is able to focus very well on projects for long periods of time, too. He just....likes to chew on his clothes.

Several people have suggested that I buy what's essentially a teething necklace for him. Another friend suggested a bracelet. Many of these products are marketed towards children with sensory disorders or other developmental issues; a brand that I've heard a lot about is Chewelry, although I'm sure there are other, cheaper, products out there that would work just as well. I'm about ready to do anything to get him to stop gnawing on the sleeves of that precious striped Hanna Andersson sweater that I love so much and hate to see being ruined. But I'm not even sure I could convince him to 1) wear a necklace or bracelet and 2) chew on said necklace or bracelet instead of the shirt!

He's my own personal version of Chewy Luis (Luis Suarez, the Uruguyan soccer player who can't seem to resist biting things....and, er, people). That's my kid: Chewy Drew. Thank goodness that he's only chomping away on his own clothes, though, and not other people and their clothes.

Someone else, wisely, said to me, "This, too, shall pass." And of course, I know this from personal experience, as William did stop. I just wish I could get Andrew to stop RIGHT NOW. Perhaps I need some sort of anti-anxiety device myself....