Year 2 Ready or Not it is Drop Off time

Year 2

My heart breaks as we begin our journey to drop off.  Year 1 was almost unbearable, I could not blog about it because my heart just hurt too much.  R leaving was breaking my heart and it actually hurt.  I wept during the weeks leading up to the D day (Drop off Day)  I could hardly breath for fear I would start to cry out loud.  I tried to keep my fears and sadness to myself to not share that burden with him.  Year 2 the drop off is going better.  I can actually have conversations with out drowning them in tears.  Oh I’m still crying, but not as hard, not as much and not with such sadness.

Year 1 so much was unknown, Year 2 we are more prepared

Year 1 porch picture was heartbreaking, Year 2 porch picture was heartbreaking

Year 1 we took up so much stuff, Year 2 we know better

Year 1 the drive was terribly long, Year 2 the drive is still terribly long

Year 1 the baby drove R crazy, Year 2 the baby is still driving R crazy

Year 1 the whole family went half way, Year 2 some did not even get a chance to say goodbye

Year 1 we had a whole crew help on move in day, Year 2 we miss that move in crew

Year 1 we were filled with anxiety, Year 2 we have less anxiety

Year 1 we all grew, Year 2 we will grow some more

Year 1 the empty spot at the table was hard to look at, Year 2 we have to relearn table setting

Year 1 I had to learn how to cook for only 6, Year 2 I have to relearn how to cook for only 6

Year 1 we missed his company, Year 2 we miss his company

Year 1 he had to make new friends, Year 2 he has a whole group of friends

Year 1 he had a mentor, Year 2 he will be a mentor

Year 1 he was nervous about class expectations, Year 2 he is nervous about class expectations

Year 1 Thanksgiving break was so far away, Year 2 Thanksgiving is still so far away

Year 1 he had the stomach flu alone, Year 2 we are praying for no stomach flu

Year 1 he had to find a new church family, Year 2 he is ready to see his church family

Year 1 I prayed for him continually, Year 2 I will continually pray for him

This year I pray for R to grow in his understanding of God, his quest for knowledge, and his understanding of the world.  I pray that he will love learning, and want to do his best.  I pray that he remembers that more than his grades that God cares about his heart and his passions.  I pray that he builds life time friends to add to the friendships that he already has, and I pray these friends stretch and grow him in ways he would not do on his own.  I pray that he seeks adventure, and will try new things.  I pray that he laughs and loves and learns this year.  I pray that he has fun, and really enjoys his 2nd year of college.  I pray that he finds joy in daily things, that he does not get bogged down with classes, or get overwhelmed with the big things.  I pray that he manages his time, and makes time for moments of doing nothing.  I pray that God protects his heart and his health and brings him back home again, a wiser and stronger boy than the one I drop off for year 2.  I pray for him because I love him.

Year 1 I was pretty sure I would not survive, Year 2 I know I will survive ( I just wont like it)

Go hug your kids, because Year 2 happens in a blink. I’m going to grab as many hugs as I can to tie my over until Thanksgiving.

jen

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I am not okay

I am not okay.(Don’t let the smiles fool you)

Those 4 words were in a text I sent my husband late last week.  I was dropping off our 3rd child for college.  I was alone in the hotel room with the 4year old, and I was not okay.  My heart was breaking and I was so sad.

He replied back that he was so sorry.

His first College porch picture

I knew the inevitable was coming, I was going to be going home with out our son.  I was leaving him to his adventure without me.  I knew how hard it would be to drive away without him.  I had done it before, I knew the change that was going to happen in our family dynamics, and I was not ready.  To be honest I don’t know if I will ever be ready to let my children grow up, grow away and to seek their own adventure.  For this mama I hate that they leave.  I hate the change, I miss seeing them, talking to them, listening to them, and being able to hug them when they need it (or when I need it)  Oh I let them go, I encourage them to follow their dreams, but the whole time I am encouraging them I have a huge cannot swallow lump in my throat.

Our Last Family Picture until Thanksgiving.  ( I cannot wait for us all to be together again)
We all took O up to her 3rd year at that University in the south, but north of us.  She was ready to get back to classes, and start this year.  Hearts were broken and plenty of tears were shed at the goodbye.
All the kids saying goodbye to R

R and PS stayed with me while Keith drove the rest of the kids home, they just could not miss the week of school.  We spent the next few days shopping before taking the final trip to his college.  True to family travel adventures it took us hours longer than the map said.  PS and R in his room.
She wanted so hard to be helpful while he unpacked and settled into his room.

We helped him settle, while we were unpacking Keith called R to see how it was going, he said “mom is not really doing okay”  I thought I was doing a pretty good job faking ‘doing okay’  I guess not.Kisses Goodbye from PS.

Keith flew up on Friday to help with the long drive home, I was so thankful to have him with me.  I needed him to drive since I could not actually see for the tears in my eyes.Saying goodbye is never easy.
I will miss this man-child more than ever the next few weeks.  For now I will survive on phone calls, texting, and face timing.

Go hug your kids, they need your love and time just moves too fast.
jen

The Doctor is in. Just not THAT kind of doctor.

Many, Many, years ago, our alma mater contacted alumni explaining their new masters program, with an option to do it traditionally, online, or over the summers.  Looking into it, Keith decided it was the right time for him to earn his masters degree.  The university, (college, at the time) had a plan, a perfect plan for a family man.  (or woman, it just rhymed) It would be 3 summers of intensive classes, with the bonus that the students could bring their families along.  With their dorm suites, families could be together for the 4 week classes, still working on their degree with the bonus of having family close. They would house the family, offer a meal plan, kids programs, the pool was open from noon until 9 at night.  It was perfect.  Our greatest friendship was formed those summers, and it is something we look back with great joy and fond memories.  He finished his masters degree, with highest honors, 2 new children were born during those summers of classes, at graduation time I snuggled a new baby E, sitting next to the former college (at the time) president.  I was so proud of him!  He had worked hard, was again proven to be a great learner, and an excellent student.  We were able to visit with some of our closest friends during graduation, as a bonus the family he lived with for 3 months of student teaching, came down to celebrate his accomplishments with us.

Keith discovered that he was not yet finished learning, with encouragement, he began looking into doctorate programs.  It all started because UofM (University of Michigan) sent him a some mail about their doctorate programs.  He looked into getting his degree from there, which would have been a dream come true.  He was encouraged by our school headmaster to keep searching, and to keep learning.

Early in 2013 He made a decision to earn his doctorate from a University out west.  Starting the program the same time it was discovered I had 2 small spots in my breast, and a tumor on my brain was going to challenge us.  Those spots, now gone, and the tumor still there, just shrunken, were not what ended up slowing him down, nope it was the surprise of #7.  She slowed him down, you remember the pregnancy was risky, and she was too early.  He took some time off from the program, while we waited for things to calm down.  in 2014, as he was getting ready to resume their classes another University (a local one) came to him asking him to be in the first Education Doctorate graduating class.  This opportunity came at the right time, he resumed classes at the local university.  They had a few intense summer classes, which was perfect, he would still be home at night, albeit super late at night, but he came home.  What seems like forever and a minute later, he began his dissertation, and the process of research, writing, editing, research, writing, editing, began.  It took him months of planning, research, writing and editing to complete his paper (book) and plan to defend his work.  He scheduled his defense and began planning, spending hours with his computer, and meeting with his advisor (the blessing of his University being local, not out west.)  Until he came out of the back of the house with a declaration, “I know what I am going to say”   He had a plan, he had a small book, and an appointment to defend his dissertation.  We were invited to listen to him defend his research.  It was on project based learning.  It was interesting and fascinating.  After he was finished we were led outside while he met with his team.  His fan club included most of our family, A and PS were not included, they would not have been interested, C was actually in Paris, for work at the time, and unable to make it.  His parents and sister, my mom, a few of his doctorate classmates and a few of his professors.  They discussed and questioned, asked for more information, encouraged him and he passed.  I knew he would.  I am so proudThe new Doctor, could not even celebrate, he had to go back to work.  (just in time for a medical emergency)

At our school, during the graduation ceremony, the faculty and staff march in first during the ceremony.  He and the headmaster lead the way.  I was too far from him to get the entrance picture, but my friend (the friendship that was formed during the masters classes so many years ago) sent me this pictures.  She said he looked like a preacher in this one, it might be one of my favorites from that night.

Dr Keith Overholt.
DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION AND ORGANIZATIONAL ADMINISTRATION
We are so proud.  We celebrated him just a few days ago with an open house.  It was a small party, with the friends and family who encouraged him along the way.

We have been discussing the end of his education, when he mentioned he might want to go farther, I was excited from him, he just is that smart, but I am ready for a little break.  I think I convinced him to give it a year or so before he goes for more.

GO hug your kids, they need the love and tell someone you love them
jen

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Ok I actually did NOT leave my heart in San Francisco, I left it in South Carolina.  Well, my heart and my daughter.  It was August, and I survived.  Dropping child #2 off in a far away state, for a great length of time is not any easier the second time around, and if I were to be honest, it is harder.  Harder because this time I knew what to expect, this time I knew how hard it would be, and I knew how long it would be until we can see the child again.

Since time and tide wait for no man, the princess graduated from High School in the spring and we began prepping for University.  I shopped until I dropped.  We shopped together, we shopped with friends, we shopped with family, we went a lot.  Each and Every trip I was reminded why we were going, it was hard.  But we did it.

August was deadline month.  Drop off day was looming, and while I was sad she was not.  Where I was inwardly cringing, she was outwardly celebrating.  She kept a count down that made her cheer, I saw her countdown and cried.

We realized after taking #1 to that University in that far away state, that taking everyone was not easy.  The princess decided after that experience she wanted to go alone, just the 3 of us.  Dad, mom and O, a month before departure she decided that we all would be going, Child #1 could not go, he had work, and classes to register for.  So we loaded the van, and Keith’s car with her things.  (we took 2 vehicles because Keith’s job changed and he needed to be back before Monday)  We had one last favorite meal and we left.

img_3050Her last porch picture.img_3073The van was so crowded.  We drove to our dear friends/family house and spent the night with them.  We loaded all of the things from Keith’s car and bought a mini fridge for the final 90 minutes of our trip.  The baby is in her seat next to R. img_3082O sat on a big desk ball, and J held a basket of things, the back row was filled, the back of the van was full and under every seat we had her things. img_3078I was given the responsibility of holding the fish and the plant.  I am happy to report both survived and are thriving in University life.img_3077The last 90 minutes were so hard for this mama.  I’m pretty sure if I was in the driver’s seat we would have come home instead of going to  that university.
(don’t mind the old lady reading glasses, I admit my eyes are old)img_3089One of the advantages of having a brother over 6 feet tall. (notice how tall her room walls are, he is standing on her desk, and still not at the ceiling, one of the benefits of being in the oldest dorm on campus.  Her closet is 2x at big as the rolling wardrobes the newer dorms have.  And she has above the closet storage that anyone who needs more space would be envious of, you can fit a toddler size mattress up there in the space.)img_3097He did much better than I figured he would.  He did not break down and cry, I did.img_3103Because her University is a Christian liberal arts university, we had family worship.  I am happy to report that I had the youngest child at the entire event.  My own little world is so diverse, from dorm rooms to diapers…  I love my little family!img_3130Giving her a family hug.  She loves the affection!img_3138Ta Da her dorm room.
Her roommate is sweet and a great match.
** a little room decoration update, the lights had to come down over Thanksgiving break, per fire code**img_3151Saying good bye was tough for this little girl, she has slept with O and been a constant shadow for years.  She left O and did not break down into sobs until we pulled into our own driveway.
It was the response I expected just not the time line I expected.img_3170Saying good bye was not so easy for this little girl either.  She loves O so very much.  img_3176R was promised a 15 sec hug.  He took full advantage.  When it was over O said “he hugs so awkward.”  I showed her the picture and said “No honey YOU hug awkward…”img_3198Holding her back from leaving us.  J was very sad to see her leave.img_3162Kisses for O.img_3208The last picture together for a long time.  I cried most of the way home.  Who am I kidding I cried most of the way up too, and I cry often at home.

She is loving the University, some classes are difficult and others are so fun!  She is being stretched and is learning so much, we miss her we are so glad she is happy and healthy.

So while part of my heart is far away, the rest of my heart is happily close at hand.

GO hug your kids, and tell someone you love them time moves just too fast.
jen

p.s. I get to hug that girly in 9 days I can’t give her a big hug!  We will have her for almost a month, although she is a starving artist now so she will be working odd jobs to earn some money for school.

Senior Night Already?

imageOn Friday, we celebrated Senior Night for the Girls Varsity Basketball team.

We recognized these girls, these seniors, on their final home game.  These girls, who have given up free time, for team time.  They have played together for 7 years now.  (most of them for 7 years and some of them have been playing together for 10 years.)  Seven years to bond, to be together, kind of like sisters, annoying at times but the bond is undeniable.  The IF you mess with 1 sister, you get all the sisters, kind of bond.  (Oh I’m not saying that they hurt anyone, but you don’t mess with family.)  Seven years together, every afternoon, 2 or 3 evenings a week, countless bus rides, summer camps, and bad jokes, you become family.

imageAt our school the parents write a letter to their senior,  the announcer will read the letter as the parents and child walk to center court.  The parents give their girls a bouquet of flowers.  I hinted to O, and outright asked her.  She did NOT want a flower bouquet.  She did not want flowers at all.  After brain storming and chatting up with some of the moms, at the game the night before,  I decided a cookie bouquet would be perfect.  I looked at ordering one, but it was too late.  Ok, so I looked into it at 10pm the night before senior night.  I looked into fruit bouquet too, also not enough time.  After morning drop off, I left the babies with a friend, I decided I could easily make one myself.  Nope I could not, oh sure I have the skill I really could make them, I just needed more time, 1pm the day of the event to be held at 6:30 was not enough time.  When I was buying the cookie stuff I grabbed a few bags of O’s favorite candy bars.  I grabbed skewers too.  I was so glad I had a back up plan.  I made her a dozen “cookie flowers’  and wrapped them like a flower bouquet.  She thought it was great.

imageBecause we are just not big candy eaters, I made a ‘flower’ for each of her teammates, and coaches.  I also made a flower for all her friends, and family who came to honor her with us.

I had a bouquet, I had signs I made, I had 12 balloons (Oh you ask why 12, well because that is how many came in the bag I bought) I had clean matching clothes for the girls, I even had clean clothes for me.  I was all set.

I did okay writing the parent letter to be read as we walk our daughter to half court, oh sure I cried a little but not big ugly cry.

I made it through the candy bouquet without freaking out.

I made it through the balloon pick up when the guy blowing them up asked what they were for.

I made it through dinner, I even got everyone to the car.

I walked into the gym like a boss.  Until I saw one of Keith’s former players, we love her like she is family.  I started to cry, she told me to ‘pull it together mom’ so I did.

My stomach hurt, my eyes stung and I had a lump in my throat.  But I pasted a smile on my face.

They called all parents of seniors to the basket end of the court.  They started calling out names, we were last, they read all 6 letters before they got to ours.  These girls have been together with for 7 to 10 years, I cried for them.  Their moms and dads sat in the bleachers for countless games, and camps, we have driven or carpool together, we know the families, we are also a family, because of our time together all these years. We were last on purpose, the other moms knew I would cry, and they said if they saw me cry they would start crying too.  So in order for the families not to all cry they stuck us at the end.

imageOur senior, and her last home game.
Our senior.

O
We are so proud of you and your accomplishments on and off the court.  You have spent more time diving for balls and sacrificing your body to make a save, a rebound, or a steal, I think some games you spent more time on the floor than on your feet.  We are proud of all the heart you put into basketball.  You have put countless hours into your game, years of camps, before you were old enough to play, time hanging out in the gym, and watching games with your dad.
I don’t think I will miss the game you play after every game, the one where we guess how many new bruises you got during the game.
I am pleased to say we ONLY purchased 11 pair of knee pads, for the 7 years you played at school, when I told you the last few pair were supposed to be the best, they would not rip, I think you took that as a challenge.  They ripped.  They ripped by the 2nd game you had them.  Somewhere in some gym there are little hex shaped air pockets laying sad on the gym floor.
Often I would hold my breath as you were thrown to the floor, not sure if I should clap for the effort you put in the play or call the chiropractor because of how hard you bounced.
We are going to miss watching you play.
I am going to miss coaching you, the time we were together was special for me. Watching you grow as a player these last 7 years, getting stronger, working as a team, and listening to instruction has made all that time together enjoyable.  I am going to miss sitting next to you on the bench, listening to you talk, and watching you grow.  
We love you, and will miss watching you play the game that brought you so much joy and pain.  
We are eager to see what God is going to do in and with your life.  
love Mom and Dad
During the reading of the letter we (I) wrote for O, she decided to tell us her college choice.  So not only was I thinking about the ending of her time at her school, I now was thinking about her new beginning.  I think I don’t like this.
One sweet mom said I looked great and smiled so nice, I informed her I can cry while smiling.  I know the big ugly tears will come soon.  I had a few escape on Saturday, while I was alone running errands.  I had some escape earlier this week while Keith and I were talking about the scholarship competition weekends.  Ugly noises escaped from my mouth and tears just burst from my eyes.  I am going to miss that girly!
So please go hug your kids because senior night is just around the corner.
jen
ps: during the ceremony O announced to us her college choice.  Today she paid the fees, and now has an email address to that college.  In two weeks she is going up for the scholarship competition.  I keep crying.

Crowns and Clocks and a College

My life is split in two, I am a mama who is doing final educational school activities, while starting up with first of the education activities.

Late last night I stood in the dark, because my husband shut the lights out on me, and spray painted a gold burger king crown.  Shiny gold.  Because my girl is a senior, tradition at our school, is for the seniors to wear their crown to different days.  Today is the Homecoming game.
We did not yet decorate the crown, just the shiny gold.  Decoration will take all year, as she adds to the crown, until the final day of her education at our school when she puts on that crown.

AND

At the same time I was spray painting the crown gold, I was spray painting a car seat box black to make it into a clock.  You see my newly schooled little one, is learning about rhyming, and they covered Nursery Rhymes.  At the end of the unit the children dress as a nursery rhyme character.  I think #1 was the spider from itsy bitsy spider, we took a black shirt stuffed his dad’s dress socks and pinned them to him,  easy and fast, we had one boy hold a candle stick and jump, one of them dressed as a sheep from a sheep costume we already owned.  But not this girl she wanted to be the clock, you know Hickory-Dickory’s clock.  I cut out an amazing cardboard clock but could not get it to work out.  At bedtime I remembered the dismantled clock and told the girly that she was going to have to be something else.  The sad face, the tears, i was afraid she might throw up for crying.  I saw the car seat box that should have gone to the recycling earlier in the week when I told the 9-year-old to take care of it. Thankfully she did not.  I stood in the dark with 2 cans of black paint, painting that box black.

Did you know that when you bring in fresh spray painted things to dry under the ceiling fan, most of the house will get a headache.

I cut a face out, added brown shading and gold accents, we have that terrible IKEA mouse and someone dug that thing out of the costume box.  I attached the mouse to the clock.  I do think I had the cutest Clock in the kindergarten parade.12081439_10208636535657072_1097248522_nCheck out my cute little clock!

If a Crown and a Clock were not enough a College called my girl today.
And they want her.
They want her.
When she told me I cried.  (not surprising right?) She looked at me and said “she did not mean to make me cry”  How can I not cry this college all the way up in Tn wants to take my girl from me.  There are 4 colleges on her list.  She is not sure, but they want her.

A very emotional day for sure for this mama, Kindergarten in full swing, Senior activities in full swing and a college wants my girl…

12067899_10208636535857077_1112713370_nGo hug your kids, time moves so fast!
(get it)

jen

Parting Is Just Sorrow, It Is Not Sweet

Shakespeare had it wrong, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”  Yeah, not so much sweet, it is just sorrow.  Saying good-bye is not fun, it is not easy and I don’t like it one bit.  Why did he say it was sweet?  I don’t know.
I waited another week before posting the good byes we had to make, thinking I would cry less when I saw those pictures.  Nope, I’m sitting in my room, by myself, blogging, and crying.  I miss that man-child, so much.  Oh I still firmly believe that he needed to go, and he did go, but I still miss him.  We all notice he is missing in the house.  I cooked way too much bacon last week, seriously way too much bacon.  Idid not even know that was possible.  We had way more than the normal amount of leftovers the night we had nachos, and we’ve had soup with out complaint.  {The man-child is not a fan of food you don’t chew}  I miss him in the evening when I am sitting in my room putting the baby to sleep, he would come in, flop himself on my bed and then study his phone, laughing and scrolling along, occasionally talking but mostly sitting together.  The kids have noticed too, one of them said it was weird not to see him in the sound booth on Sunday, another said meal time was not as noisy , and R has finally been able to stretch out his legs since he sat across from C, not sure why those boys sat opposite each other, we should have paired them with a short person for leg room.

The Great University that stole my child’s heart, had a lovely orientation where parents fears were calmed, plans were made, and rooms were set up.  Meetings and kid college were attended, classrooms were peeked into, and samplings of meals were enjoyed.  In the end the Good Bye was inevitable and unavoidable as much as I was anxious to leave him I knew I had to.IMG_1915They took a picture of the entire freshmen-incoming students on the porch.
It was an impressive process.
C is on the 2nd row from the top, in front of the 2nd doors from the right.IMG_1900Some little girl, who idolized her big brother, was starting to show signs of stress.
She was sad, her tummy hurt, and she was grumpy.IMG_1895Photo bomb by J.
I was trying to get a pic of A and O when J just walked into the shot.IMG_1917After the class picture all the students were to find their families for a final prayer lead by the University President.
I know I was not the only Mama crying at that time.  IMG_1919PS and C, my book ends.IMG_1920Frick and Frack these two have had a secret club, even if she denies it, she will miss the club they have had their whole lives.IMG_1923R has been looking forward to this hug for weeks now.
C is NOT a hugger but R is.
We gave R 5 whole seconds and he took them all!IMG_1924This little girl sure does love her big brother.
He is her hero, and she misses him.IMG_1925J has great plans for C’s room now that he is gone, first step is painting the room Maze and Blue.IMG_1927Yeah, this girl…  she loves her brother.IMG_1929That is me, doing what I did most of the trip, crying or trying to hold back the tears.IMG_1930Oh boy… Almost as tall as his dad.
No, neither of them cried…
IMG_0406All the kids hugging on C.  He was thrilled, can’t you tell?
{the building over R’s elbow, the center building is C’s dorm}10350338_10205148338414321_6591605631978263613_nOne last picture before I left my heart in Ky and we headed home.

Oh sure, things are starting to settle down, we are falling into routine, but every day my heart hurts when I think of him.  I have texted and he has called, but it is not the same.  It will never be the same, and for that I am sad.  He L O V E S it up there, has found a group of friends who are just like him.  Two weeks into his new life, classes are going along nicely, his books should arrive in the next day or so, he has had mail in his PO box, more than inter campus junk. He has a job and is riding his bike to avoid the freshman 15, the temperatures are so nice that riding is relaxing, except for the hills. He decided taking French would be fun, his professor only speaks in French, he now has a tutor, he even went to a soccer game, because it was not too hot, and enjoyed that too.  I am thrilled he loves the college life, I am  glad he is being stretched academically and I am happy that he is happy.
I still miss him.

Go hug your kids because when you least expect it they will grow up on you.
I am serious go hug them!
jen