Monday, November 24, 2014

Seattle Send-Off

It's so hard to believe it's been almost two months since we got back from Seattle!
Now that we've returned to something of a new "normal" around our house and all my pictures have been downloaded and I can talk about the trip without tears streaming down my face...

Wednesday, September 24 we awoke at 2:45 am to begin our adventure to Seattle.
We rented this monstrosity of a vehicle! We had it loaded and were driving away by 3:45.
(Dom's friends, the twins, came to say good-bye. So sweet!)
We had hoped that leaving so early would increase our chances of The Littles going back to sleep for a while.
Those kids didn't sleep a wink the whole 36 hours we were on the road over the course of the trip.
It was pretty amazing though...we all (except Dom who was smart and DID sleep) got to watch the sunrise together.
And experience some amazingly beautiful views.
Here they are...jammies and all. We put The Littles in the second seat, within arms reach.
Dominic got his own row to spread out and sleep comfortably ;)
I had spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the long car ride and had put together a box of things/activities the kids had never seen before. We pulled from the box regularly to keep them busy, in addition to hours of movie watching.
Here they are with "special detective glasses" on to help them find everything on their travel Bingo pages. Dominic played too and I was surprised when he asked, "How come I don't get glasses?"
P.S. I'm doing a separate post on car activities sometime soon.
That Wednesday we arrived at our planned destination in Portland at 4:30 pm.
That was a LONG 14 hours on the road!
I do have to say though that everyone was in really good moods and excited for the journey.
The most complaining we heard was from The Littles in regards to when we could pull another activity from "the special box."
After checking into our hotel I took Connor and Emma to the pool for a swim, we all went to dinner, and were asleep by 8:30. I'm surprised we lasted that long! (However Emmy did fall asleep in the booth at dinner. Poor girl was wiped out!)
We were up early the next morning and made it to SPU by 11:30 am. (Only 4 hours of driving!!)
Seattle welcomed us with rain, to Dominic's delight.
We immediately found his dorm and started moving him in.
Let me tell you...old narrow streets, lots of hills, a van the size of a small bus, 1 excited college student, 2 rambunctious kids, 2 numb parents, and rain...make for an interesting combination!

But we were welcomed by a community ready to help and excited for us to be there!
Dominic's roommate was just finishing unpacking when we arrived.
After getting everything from the van to Dominic's room, Jeff took the kids to release some energy while Dominic and I unpacked.
I never lived in a dorm myself and regardless of everyone else's experiences (good or bad), it was one of which I had always wished I could have had.
So exciting that Dominic gets this experience!
Jeff and the kids returned for some pictures before we ventured off to find lunch. 
The hallway...
and kitchen on his floor...
Main floor lobby...
And let's take just a minute to appreciate how beautiful the campus is...

We stopped at this one particular spot on campus where if you stand right in the middle of the bricks on the ground and clap, you hear a squeak.
I know it sounds weird but it's actually kinda cool.
And every time we walked through here the kids had to stop and clap. So funny!
The next few hours we juggled energetic Littles and getting Dominic all settled in with things like his student ID, figuring out the best way to get all his textbooks and trying to get his mailbox open!
We did have some time to kill before an official welcome so Dominic walked us down to the canal close to the school. It was so pretty! It was here that I started to love Seattle.
(Side note: This is the one school that Dominic had visited alone.
Neither Jeff or I had ever been.)

There was a lot of "killing time" while waiting for this or that.
There was really only so much exploring that could be done.

Jeff, Emmy and I were fighting colds so Jeff and I started chugging Airborne in between engagements. No time for sickness!
There were a lot of events for parents and families on Thursday and Friday, most of which were speeches done by administrators or faculty on topics such as campus security, "Empty Nesting," etc...
This particular one was a formal indoctrination. It was such a nice welcome!
At the end, all of the faculty formed a circle around the perimeter of the floor and the students were asked to fill in the middle.

 We prayed over the students and then each of them were handed a pin.
"SPU*Engaging the Culture*Changing the World"
I was doing alright emotionally at this point, until Emma Kate, standing in front of me, looked up and said through teary eyes, "Mommy, I'm going to miss him!"
I lost it. Tears streamed down my face. That lump formed in my throat that had been there every time over the past year in which I had envisioned this event. And for a moment, time stood still. The craziness of all of the traveling paused. Dominic was all moved in. The parent programs were done. We would leave this building and say good-bye  see you soon. 
I was excited.
I was sad.
And I realized my Littles were feeling the same way.
(Here 2 months later, it still makes me teary.)

*It helped to know that we would be back one more time Sunday morning to go to church with him before leaving Seattle.*

We took a few minutes to get some family photos before we left.
And Sunday after church it was a little rough saying good-bye.
Dominic, you are SO prepared for this. It's not always going to be easy and you may get a little home sick. But we will always be here to be your support and sounding board. 
Go forth.
Make a difference.
Develop relationships.
Give thanks.
And every once in a while, stop and really soak it all in.
The time goes really fast!

-Love your biggest cheerleader,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Things are Changin'

 I know I've been playing catch up lately and slowly making my way through the beginning of this year. But I think it's time I pause the catch up and be in the moment for a while. There is so much happening with the kids starting school and getting ready to send Dominic up to Seattle that I really want to write about it as it's happening, not several months from now. I need to make sense of all the emotions I'm one minute I'm excited, the next...frustrated, and two seconds later I'm in tears with sadness that he's moving away.

Several months ago Dominic was invited to give a sermon in the main service at church. He gladly accepted and had lots of time to prepare. He's been in several leadership rolls over the last few years in youth group and has really become involved with the leaders of the church over the past year. He also has spoken in the youth service at least a couple times. Dominic has always loved being on stage and ever since coming to this church, his love for Christ and studying the Bible has grown tremendously.

When he first spoke of the invitation, sure I knew it was special, but it wasn't till the day of, that it really sunk in. I was so nervous! He was calm and so ready to do this.
P.S. If you'd like to listen to it here's the link (25 minutes long)...
When he stood in front of the congregation that Sunday morning this mom could keep her composure no more. Tears streamed down my face (like in the ugly mascara running down my cheeks kind of way!) Sure I was proud beyond words. But somehow as I watched this man speaking up on that stage, there came a realization that it is time. Time to start letting go. We have done all we can to raise him to know the Lord and to prepare him for the next journey of his life. This is his time. Time to shine on his "own." Sure, we'll continue to be there, to guide him and give advice. And I fully recognize that he'll be back. In and out of our home as necessary over the upcoming years.
But here he was, in front of so many who have helped us along the way, those who were supportive advisers to him when he wouldn't, or couldn't come to us. There he was teaching all of them. And us!
And I only pray that as he ventures off to Seattle he will teach more; that he'll continue to be a light and an example of love. That he'll continue to recognize the appropriate times in which he is being called to be a follower and then other times, a leader.

He is ready. SO ready for this next step! He has worked so hard for this and it's really exciting to see his hard work paying off. And I'm ready too, truth be told. 
But then there's this lump that forms in my throat every time there's a "last." 
Like his last day of high school.
Or his last day at work.
It's hard to believe he's been at Krispie Kreme for 2 YEARS!
That lump in my throat gets bigger every time I walk into his room and see that more things have been packed away and everything is gone from his bedroom walls. 
 And then that lump turns to tears as I see the kids writing notes to each other on their bathroom mirror.
But this is it right?!
This is what we spend 18 years preparing for! This is why we push and challenge and support them from the very moment we lay our eyes on those tiny fingers and toes.
Dominic, we are so proud of you. Beyond words!
It has been a joy and an honor to be your mom.
I cannot wait to see how God works in your life over the upcoming years.
You are an amazing young man and everywhere you go God shines His love through you.
What more could a mom ask for?!
I love you "more than words can say."
Now, you ready?!

Friday, September 19, 2014

3rd and Pre-K!

This year all 3 of the kids are starting school at different times, which has been quite nice, allowing for some adjustment in between each 1st day.
Connor started 3rd Grade August 25. 
He has Mrs. McCabe for a teacher this year and we knew nothing about her until Connor peaked through the blinds of the classroom to see a Buster Posey bobblehead sitting on the shelf.
That was enough for Connor to decide that she was the BEST TEACHER EVER!
When I heard that the district awarded her with the "Teacher of the Year" award last year, that was enough for me to be convinced.
P.S. I kind of like it when we don't know anything about a teacher ahead of time. No preconceived ideas and we get to decide on our own how good, or not-so-good she is.
My ginormous little man...long socks and all!

The second we stepped in the classroom I was reminded how young he still is.
There's even a rocking chair in the room. LOVE IT!

I about came out of my skin when I saw his name tag! 
This is the year they learn cursive!
(I still remember how excited I was to learn how to write "pretty.")
So glad they still teach it:)

Then there's My Emmers!
September 7 was her first day of Pre-K. 3 days a week this year! The same 3 days that I'm at work so we can still have our Tuesday's and Thursday's together another year.
She was so excited!

The poor girl ate it at the park the day before and scratched up her face pretty well.
She was a little concerned people would notice. Seriously?!
Look how tall she is next to her best friend, Charlotte!
P.S. I think Heidi and I would look exactly like this if we had a picture together at this age! Lol!
SO CUTE! I absolutely love these two!
And...she found her cubby!
It was so strange to not have Dominic starting school too. He's started the same day as Connor for several years now and it definitely was weird!
He will start September 29. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vegas Baby!!

These days it's a rare opportunity to get together with girlfriends.
Life is so busy and work, families, etc... become a priority.
So when the opportunity for us all to take a girl trip to Vegas came along...
well...this is what happens...

Lots of selfies! 

Lots of laughs.
Britney Spears.

Crazy sights. Only in Vegas!
Amazing restaurants!
The absolute BEST part though is getting to spend time with amazing women, some of which live close, and some very far away!
(So sad I didn't get more pics.)