Monday, May 9, 2016

The Oldest is 11!!

Every year, I make a video and write a letter to each of my boys recapping their year.  Here is the oldest's for 2016.

To my amazing 11 year old,

No longer can you show your age by using your fingers, you are officially a pre-teen (gulp).  Nicholas Gabriel, you leave me in awe.  Every single day you make me smile.  Every. Single. Day.  You are growing so quickly my precious son.  Not only physically, but also in your character, personality and faith.  I pray you continue to grow, continue to thrive, continue to always have hope and feel loved, because my precious son, you most certainly are!

We’ve had another awesome year.  We have travelled, we have had adventures, and we have served.  I love how willing you are to help those who need it.  How you think of others, how aware you are of what goes on around you.  May you continue to notice the world around you, see where you can help and never be afraid to jump in and do it!  I pray you always take initiative.

Another year of soccer, baseball, scouts and cello are under your belt.  I’m so glad you still enjoy them.  You are so well rounded my beautiful boy and I am thankful.  I hope you continue to have a lot of different interests and always do your best.  I’ve always told you that it doesn’t matter to me if you are the best or worst player on the team or the best or worst cellist in strings, I just ask that you do your best with your best attitude.  Always be a good sport, lift those who need encouragement, help those who need it and always do it humbly.  Those lessons will always apply.

In your letter last year, I wrote the following and it still applies, so I wanted to remind you.  Please try to remember to give yourself a break and not dwell on your mistakes. There is no one harder on you, dear son, than you!  Learn from your mistakes and move on.  It’s good to be determined, to do your best; to want to make the ones you love proud, but dear child know this…there is NOTHING you can do to make me love you less.  My love for you is unconditional, it can not be earned by deeds or good grades or winning games.  You don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself.  Try to find balance.  It’s great to be motivated, but don’t forget the fun!  At the same time, all fun + no purpose or motivation = trouble.  Work on finding that balance.  Again I say to you, don’t dwell or beat yourself up, learn from your mistakes, move on and do your best not to repeat them.

Nicholas Gabriel, you are a blessing.  I can not thank God enough for choosing me to be your Mom.  You amaze me with your intelligence, sense of humor, your heart and your faith.  I pray God’s blessing continue to fall upon you and His favor and protection surround you.  I pray you are always aware of His presence and are never afraid to share your gifts with others or to share a kind and encouraging word. May you continue to do your best and to grow into the man you were created to be.  Thank you for being an amazing, funny, brave and caring person.  Thank you for being such a great big brother and loving son.  Thank you for being YOU!

Love you so!


You can find his video this year by clicking here.

His letter from last year is here.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Letter to the Youngest on his 6th Birthday

Every year, on their birthday, I write a letter and create a video for each of my boys recapping their year.  This is the youngest's for 2016.

My Precious Caleb,

So here we are at another year.  Everyone told me it would go faster the second time and they were right.  How is it possible that you are already six?  You have grown into such an amazing little boy with so much love, kindness, personality and just a touch of mischief.  You fill my heart with so much love and happiness.

My dear, sweet, boy, as much as you have grown physically, you’ve grown even more mentally and spiritually.  Your sense of humor is enormous, your love, empathy and compassion are well beyond your years.  We pray that continues to grow for you.  We pray you use the gifts that God has given you to go out into the world and make a difference, to serve others as a way of serving Him and to love and honor God first.  We pray you continue to be a good friend and loving little brother.  We pray health and happiness over your life forever.

This past year has been a busy one filled with many firsts.  You finally got to play soccer and baseball for Radford Rec, just like your big brother.  You did fantastic, were a great sport and earned your first medals.  I can’t believe how fast you can run!  I was most proud of what a great sport you were.  You were always cheering for your teammates and even players on the other teams!  You never had a bad attitude and always did your best.  This is all we ask of you when it comes to sports, my energetic boy.  Do your best, be kind, be an encourager, be a good friend and teammate and HAVE FUN!

This year you finally got to go to Disney World!  We all agreed that it was the best vacation our family has ever taken together.  We were so lucky to not have had long lines and the weather was beautiful!  You are such a fun little boy to take on trips.  You travel well and have so much excitement and joy when doing new things, it is contagious.

We had another fun trip to Myrtle Beach my little beach bum.  You still love the water park and going down all the big water slides all by yourself.  This year, since you were bigger, you got to do even more and go on even bigger slides.  You still had no fear.  I love how brave you are.  We also got to go to a new dinosaur exhibit that took your new found love of dinosaurs to even greater heights.  I have never known a child so young to know so much about dinosaurs!  You know their scientific names, if they are herbivore, carnivore or omnivore, you even know which period of time they lived. It’s so interesting to listen to and learn from you.  You say you want to be a Palentologist when you grow up and my smart little boy, I have no doubt that you will accomplish whatever you want to do.

Remember how much fun we had on our Mommy/Caleb trip to DC?  You finally got to see a REAL T-Rex skeleton!  You were fascinated by all the fossils and thought the fossilized dinosaur poop was just about the funniest thing you had ever seen.  I love making memories with you. 

There were even more firsts this year, you lost your first tooth, you learned to ride your bike with no training wheels, you are growing up so very fast!  Then in August, another BIG first.  Your first day of Kindergarten!  You were ready and so excited to finally get to go to a big boy school like Nic.  You have done WONDERFULLY in school!  We are proud of how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve come!  You read your first full sentence all by yourself this year, way to go!  I pray a love of learning stays with you throughout your life.  No matter how old you are, there is always something new to learn!

I will end this year’s letter my sweetheart, by just telling you again how much you are loved and how proud we are of you.  I will remind you again that we will always be here for you with unconditional love.  I will remind you, like in last year’s letter, that there will be trials, but that God has equipped you with everything you need to get through them.   Keep growing in your faith, keep being exactly who God made you to be knowing that our Heavenly Father does not make mistakes and He made you! 

Happy Birthday my remarkable boy.  May this coming year be your best ever. We love you so much, we love you more!

P.S. You can find your annual video here.

You can find last year's letter here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Starting Another School Year

Wednesday will be the first day of school for my kids.  This year is a mix of emotions like none I've known before.  When I think that it will be the last time I'm sending a kindergartner off to school, I'm all like this:

But then, I start thinking about how this will be the first time in 10 1/2 years that I will be child-free for 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week.  I also realize that when the oldest started Kindergarten, I had a 7 month old, so it's been over a decade since I've not had a child with me and been in a Sesame Street frame of mind a majority of the time, so I'm all like:

and like:

and like:

I know I will miss my babies, but the older they've become, the more fun we've had.  I'm excited for all their future holds, as well as for what my future holds.  For the first time in a decade, I will be able to work for more than a couple of hours at a time.  I will be able to complete a thought.  I will be able to watch the news.  I am so very thankful for my beautiful boys.  I wouldn't change a thing.  I am sad to be closing a chapter, but I'm happy to be starting a new one.

Change is hard ya'll, but it's also awesome.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Oldest Turns 10

Each year, I write a letter to my boys on their birthday and create a video for them recapping the year.  This is the oldest's for 2015....

My sweet boy,

10.  T-E-N.  You are ten.  A whole decade old.  I have to keep telling myself this because it is so hard to believe.  Double Digits.  The last year you will be able to show your age on your not-so-little hands.  I remember those chubby little fingers that have now grown into amazing instruments used to throw a baseball, play the cello, write and draw, give a high five, provide a helping hand, pray.

What a year it has been!  This year you were finally able to zip line for the first time.  You’ve waited a long time to do it and at last you were big enough! It is so fun to go on adventures together.  You have such a strong sense of adventure mixed with just the right amount of caution to be safe.  We had fun in many different places this year.  We especially enjoyed DC, Myrtle Beach and of course, Disney World!  How blessed we are to have opportunities to travel.   Thank you, my precious son, for not taking this for granted and for your thankful heart.

As you have grown, so has your heart.  Each year I think it can’t possibly get any bigger and each year you surprise me.  You are considerate of others feelings and are so often thinking of ways to help friends, strangers and even animals.  You make my heart grow bigger as well.

My dear young man, I love your determination.  When you decide you are going to do something, you do it!  You aren’t afraid to put in the work required to meet your goal and that is awesome.  Whether it’s getting an A on a test or being a meteorologist on TV, when you want something, you go after it.  I pray you never lose that sense of purpose.  May you remain steadfast in what you want and believe, but never be disrespectful to yourself or to others.

My beautiful son, sometimes you are just too hard on yourself.  I get it.  After all, you are your mother’s son.  I understand that when you mess up (as we all will do), there is no harder critic of yourself than you.  Please try to remember to give yourself a break and not dwell on your mistakes. Learn from them and move on.  It’s good to be determined, to do your best; to want to make the ones you love proud, but dear child know this…there is NOTHING you can do to make me love you less.  My love for you is unconditional, it can not be earned by deeds or good grades or winning games.  You don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself.  Try to find balance.   Too much of something is never a good thing.  It’s okay to put some pressure on yourself if it helps to motivate, but don’t forget the fun!  At the same time, all fun + no purpose = trouble.  Work on finding that balance.  Again I say to you, don’t dwell or beat yourself up, learn from your mistakes, move on and do your best not to repeat them. 

You are still determined to be a meteorologist and a storm chaser when you grow up.  I have no doubt you will accomplish all you set your mind to.  What fun and wonderful memories you now have of all the weather related fun we’ve had this year.  From your tour of the WDBJ7 weather studio last May, to the tour of the National Weather Service last fall, to your turn as Kidcaster on WDBJ7 in April.  My bright boy, I know you will go far.

You started playing the cello this year.  We’ve tried a couple of instruments before, but Nicholas, I do believe we have found THE ONE.  You love it!  It fills my heart with so much joy every time I hear you play.  You are such a well rounded boy; from boy scouts, to sports, to music to academics, you put your heart into all that you do and I couldn’t be more in awe.

Nicholas Gabriel, you are a blessing.  I can not thank God enough for choosing me to be your Mommy.  You have a beautiful heart, fantastic faith, an astonishing mind and a brilliant future ahead of you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your first decade; I can’t wait to witness the next!  Happy Birthday!

Love you so!


You can see his video here.

Last year's letter is here.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My SOL confession

As a parent, I don't like the SOL's,  This isn't shocking, most parents don't think the SOL's are an accurate measure of a child or a school, but this post isn't about that.

My confession is that when I was in school, I loved standardized testing.  We didn't have the same SOL's that kids take today.  I don't recall the name of our day long "nerdfest," but it was some younger incarnation of today's SOL.  I do, however,  remember how happy I was when it was time to spend the whole day with just me, my brain and my No. 2 pencil.

I enjoyed how quiet it was in the class, how everyone was focused, how I didn't have to think about anything else except what I was doing at that moment.  I liked that it didn't count towards my grade so all I truly had to do was my best and there was no way it wouldn't be good enough.  Even if I "failed," I could still pass.  I loved that we were all in it together.  I liked that I could go the whole day and not be worried about if the teacher was going to call on me.  I hated being called on. I felt more pressure in having to answer a question in front of the whole class than I ever felt from test days.

The point of this post is to simply share with parents that to your kids, the SOL's may be something completely different than what they are to you. Not all kids are stressed out about it.  Some actually look forward to it.  Let's not let our distaste for the test influence how our children feel about it and cause them more stress and pressure.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy 5th birthday to my youngest

My sweet Caleb,

You came into the world without any movement, blue and quiet. But, my strong boy, that was the last time you were still and quiet!  All in one moment you brought me from joy to fear and back to joy again.  You continue to do that daily.  Do you know what else you do daily?  You fill my heart with LOVE.  You complete our family, you amaze me and you make me laugh.  You are deeply loved.

It’s hard to believe you are half a decade old.  It’s been five years since we were blessed with you my precious boy.  It sounds so cliché, but is so true….time flies!  It hasn’t always been the easiest 5 years, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

This past year has been so full and you have grown in so many ways.  Your heart is one of the biggest I’ve ever known.  You continue to show love and compassion in ways that are well beyond your years.  This doesn’t just fill your heart, but mine and your Daddy’s as well.  We pray your heart continues to grow and you continue to share it the rest of your life.

Your sense of humor is fantastic!  You laugh so easily and love to make others laugh.  May you always keep that my funny boy.

You are also brave in so many ways.  You are fearless, courageous, curious, adventurous and energetic.  Sometimes we just don’t know how you do it.  Up early every morning and never ready for bed time.  May you always have the energy and courage to do the things that really matter in life.

It has been another exciting year of firsts my beautiful boy.  Remember going to the zoo in North Carolina for the first time?  You loved the polar bears!  It was also the first time you got to do a ropes course and zip line.  You were fearless and patient!  It took time to learn how to lock and unlock yourself onto the lines, but you never got frustrated, I was so proud.  You went to the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC for the first time, too.  You were fascinated by the interactive dinosaur exhibit and getting to see the large rockets.

We also did our normal family activities this year like hiking the Cascades, going to the Safari Park, a trip to Gatlinburg, and our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, among others.  Each year our trips become even more enjoyable and I feel so blessed to get to share so many adventures with you.   I love your audacious spirit, always willing to try new things, to be brave, to learn, to have fun!

My precious son, your faith is another attribute that is well beyond your years.  You love God, you always think of ways to follow Jesus all on your own, without prompting and that, darling boy, makes my heart swell.  May your heart always be filled with love, kindness, braveness, wisdom and selflessness.  May you grow to be a strong, happy, devoted Christian man.

Please know my sweet, sweet boy, that your Daddy and I love you more and more each and every day.  Know that there is nothing you can do to change that.  Grow, my precious one, in that knowledge and go out and share that love with others.  Know that we will always be here for you, no matter what.  Know that there will be trials, but that God has equipped you with everything you need to get through them.   Keep growing in your faith, keep being exactly who God made you to be knowing that our Heavenly Father does not make mistakes and He made you!

Happy Birthday my dear one, may the coming year be your best yet!

Your annual birthday video is here

Your letter from last year is here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy 9th Birthday to my Oldest (Annual Birthday Letter)

My dear little man,

Today you are 9.  You are half way through your childhood, in only 9 more years you will be an adult. But, no matter what age you are, you will always be my baby.  It’s hard to believe that as quickly as time has passed in the past nine years that in the same amount of time, you will be ready to go out into the world on your own.  The realization of this makes me want to treasure our time even more.  I do love spending time with you Nicholas Gabriel.  You are so funny and smart.  We can have the most amazing conversations and laugh over the silliest things.  Some of my favorite times with you are just sitting on our front porch swing talking. 

I also love your adventurous spirit.  This year you were able to go snorkeling for the first time.  It was such an amazing experience.  Swimming beside you and holding your hand while we explored the reef, pointing out the fish, swimming AWAY from the barracuda, being brave, having fun, and being in awe of how clear and blue the water was and of course, making memories.  I loved watching you as you took in the beauty and the wonder of this new world you had never before seen.  So many wonderful memories.  Thank you, Nicholas, for giving me the opportunity to experience the world through your eyes and helping me to see the beauty.  Sometimes as we get older, we forget to notice how beautiful the world is.  We get so busy that we just don’t take the time to see.  I pray, my extraordinary little man, that you always remember to take the time to see the beauty around you and remember to thank God for it.  Never take for granted how blessed we are with the opportunities we have had.  Be thankful and be humble and with every opportunity, share those blessings with others.

Speaking of sharing, I am in awe of your heart.  Your willingness to help others amazes me and I also pray that you never lose that.  When you came up with the idea, all on your own, to donate money to weather disaster victims, instead of getting birthday presents, I could not contain my joy.  I have always tried to teach you and live by example that we should do all we can to help others; I am thankful that you have listened and stepped up to help fill needs when you see them.

Your first year at the “Big Kids” elementary school has been outstanding.  You have maintained straight A’s the entire year!  Please know, my bright boy, that as happy as I am that you have all A’s, what is most important is that you do your best.  I have always told you that it does not matter to me if you win or lose, if you get the best grade or the worst, as long as you truly did your best, as long as you are kind, as long as you don’t give up.  Those are the some of the things I want most for you.  Your character is more important than any grade.  The type of man you will become, the way you treat others, the life you lead, the love that you share and what you do with the blessings God has given you will always be what matters most.

This past year was the first year you played football.  You also continued with baseball and soccer.  It’s amazing to me to see how much better you’ve become!  You have really grown as an athlete.  Your first time up to bat this year you scored your team’s first home run of the season!  How exciting!  Always be a good sport, my precious son, be humble with your gifts and encourage others.  ALWAYS.  I will love you and be proud of you no matter what, but when I see you encouraging others and being a good sport, even when you are losing, I am more proud of you than if you were to hit a home run every time at bat and catch a pop fly during every inning.

In closing, my sweet boy, I will simply say I love you more and more with each passing day.  You and your brother are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the reason I am on this beautiful earth.  You help give me purpose, you fill me with love, you amaze me, you fill my heart to overflowing.  Thank you, Nicholas, for being you.

I love you!  Always and forever, to the moon and back,


His annual birthday video can be found here.

Last year's letter can be found here.