Friday, August 7, 2015

The New Season

Homeschool.  We never thought we'd be a homeschool family.  I never thought I'd be a homeschool mom.  But after a ton of prayer, conversations, and lots of things falling into place, we believe this is what God has for our family in this next season. 

Homeschooling has changed a lot over the last several years.  There's now so many options, resources, and different ways that each family can tailor their child's education.  We'll be a part of a charter school through which the girls will still "go to school" (take classes) two days a week.  This is the perfect fit for our family as it will allow me to continue in my job in my full capacity.

A few important things to note...I don't think homeschooling is for everyone.  God has given us, as parents, freedom both in his word and in our country to choose the educational path that is best for our kids and family.  Whether it be public, private or homeschool, I personally don't think one is better or worse than the other, it's simply a matter of what is a better fit for each individual family.  We have LOVED the private school we've been at for the last 4 years and making the decision to leave was not done without tears and heartache.  However, we also had peace as we stepped out in faith believing we are being obedient to what God has called our family to.

One other item to note...we don't plan on doing this forever.  In fact, I don't even know if we'll do this next year.  All we know is that this is what we are doing this year.  We're taking it one year at a time, just as we've done every year since our girls started in preschool.

This is big.  It's exciting.  It's nerve-wracking.  It's bittersweet.  It's completely new territory.  It's not at ALL what I thought or could have ever imagined that God had for us in this new season.  This is going to be a huge lifestyle change for us.  It's going to stretch me and push me to my limits at times.  It's going to stretch our girls and push them to their limits at times.  But I'm looking forward to the heart training that I'll be able to do more in depth and the time I'll be able to invest in my girls this year.  

So with a little bit of trepidation, excitement and a whole lot of faith, we step into this new adventure.  I trust God will give me everything I need to bring him glory in this new season.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Seasons Change

16 months.  I've been a wife, mom, friend, church staff member and full time student for the last 16 months.  The last 16 months have been, without a doubt, some of the busiest and most strenuous of my life as I've worked to maintain some kind of balance wearing all those different hats.  I haven't done it right all the time, but God was good and gracious to sustain both me and my family to get us through this season.

In 3 short weeks, my schooling will be complete and I'll officially have my Bachelors degree.  The current season that I'm in is about to come to a close so I've spent a lot of time in prayer this summer seeking God's guidance on what he has for me in this next season.  What will I do with all my "free time" that will no longer be set aside for listening to lectures, reading and writing?  It's strange that I've actually had some anxiety over what I'll be doing once school is over.  I've almost had a little bit of fear over the free time.  Even though this season has been crazy busy, I've grown accustom to the crazy and now, going back to "normal" seems a bit daunting.  Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to be done with school, but school has been my "normal" for so long now, that the change of not being in school is a little scary.

And so with these emotions bubbling up inside me, I've laid them at the feet of God, asking him to help me keep my emotions of fear and anxiety in check, and looking to him for guidance in this next season.

A couple weeks ago we were able to enjoy a little stay-cation as a family.  The slower pace of the week allowed me to really spend some good portions of time concentrating on this prayer to God: What do you have for me in this next season?

I didn't have the answers that week but God continued to give me peace through reminders of the promises of his word.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." Psalm 1:1-3 
Over the last few days however, it seems that God has been making it clear to me and my husband what he's calling me to in this next season.  And I'm ashamed to say that my first reaction was fear and denial.  "WHAT? ME!? You want ME to do THAT?  Oh no, Lord, I can't do THAT."

But praise be to God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit!  I was immediately convicted of my fear and reminded of Moses' initial reaction at the burning bush.  How often I've scoffed at his poor example and thought too highly of myself, "I would NEVER react that way when God calls me to something." #fail

We serve a good and gracious God who forgives his children when they ask for it.  With a humble and embarrassed heart, I asked God's forgiveness for my sinful initial reaction.  We serve a big God who time and time again uses the weak so that his power may be made visible in them.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Oh how weak a woman I am, and how desperately I will need him in this next season.  I am confident that he will guide, equip, sustain and give me everything I need to do what he has called me to do.  We aren't quite ready to share just yet what that is, but I have a feeling this blog will be a place I visit much more frequently in the new season ahead.  So stay tuned!

What season of life are you in?  Are you just beginning a new season?  Are you in the middle of a season?  Are you coming to the end of a season?  What has God taught you and how has he grown you in this season?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Remembrance

Writing is hard to get to these days.  Wife.  Mom.  Full time church employee.  Full time student.  Friend.  Life is busy and writing, at this point, is pretty near the bottom of the priority list.  However, on a day like today I decided to pause and reflect on a very personal and emotional journey that God took us on just over a year ago.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  For those who have lost a baby, they will readily tell you that there need be no "special" day in which to remember these little ones.  The memories come all the time.

Just over a year ago we lost a pregnancy in the 10th week.  It was one of the most painful experiences my husband and I have ever walked through.  My heart broke in a way I did not know it could.  The searing pain of loss was so heavy upon me at times, that I felt I could not physically breathe.  In those short 10 weeks I had my blood drawn 6 times and had 3 ultrasounds.  Things hadn't looked right from the beginning.  Yet even knowing that loosing the baby was a very real possibility it did not help dull the pain that came when that last ultrasound revealed a miscarriage.

The thing is, when I think back upon that time, the pain and loss isn't the first thing I think of.  Rather, I remember the sweetness with which the Lord cared for me in the midst of my pain and broken heart.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in Spirit. Psalm 34:18
I experienced this verse first-hand. God poured out his unending loving kindness upon my husband and I during our time of pain and loss.  He sent me, through our physical family and our church family, daily reminders of his care for us.  He gave us peace amongst the storm and hope in the midst of darkness.  I experienced the comfort of my heavenly Father in a way I never have before and for this reason, I am grateful for my miscarriage.

I'm grateful that God allowed me to experience pregnancy for a third time and that I was able to carry that precious life for 10 weeks.  I am grateful for my husband who never once left my side, who prayed with me, cried with me and took care of me after everything was over.  I am grateful for our family who dropped everything to be with us, who brought us meals, helped take care of the girls and prayed for us.  I am grateful for our church family who loved us in such tangible and innumerable ways.  I am grateful for the promises of Scripture that I can now say: not only do I believe this to be true because I believe God's word, but I KNOW this to be true because I have experienced it.

Our baby would have been 6 months old by now.  It's strange to think about how different our life would look if that baby were here today.  But I don't think about that too often or too long because that's not the reality God chose for us.

On this day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance, I honor God for being the Giver and Sustainer of life.  I praise him for being good, wise, caring, sovereign, and faithful.  I worship him for having steadfast love toward me.  I thank him for the 3 children he blessed me and my husband with.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. Psalm 103:11

To Baby Schrader
-A Poem From Your Mommy-

I never got to hold you,
Or push you in a cart,
But sweet baby how I loved you,
I loved you from the start.

Ten weeks you were with me,
Everywhere I went,
I did my best to care for you,
Because I knew you were heaven sent.

God's plan was not for you to live,
A moment outside of me,
But rather to be with him,
Forever in eternity.

I trust you are in the arms of Jesus,
You see him face to face,
Someday I'll be there with you,
And we'll sing together of his grace.

For it is by grace that he saved me,
He redeemed me and called me his own,
So no matter where he leads me to,
I know I'll never walk alone.

Jesus only Jesus,
He's all I'll ever need,
My precious risen Savior,
I look to him to lead.

So sweet baby on that last day,
When he calls me home,
We'll be together in his presence,
And worship around the throne.

Sweet baby, just one thing,
On that day that we meet,
First, I must see Jesus,
And worship at his feet.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Working Mom

Working Mom.  It's a weird title.  All Moms work.  It's just that some work "outside the home" while others work at home.  I'm the former.

I worked for 4 years at an orthopedic doctor's office.  I loved it.  I loved the doctors.  I loved learning medicine.  I loved the patients.  I loved my co-workers.  I loved that job.

These are most of my old co-workers.  My girls.  Family.

You can see why I love them.  They're cray-cray.

I really thought I would work there forever.  But God had a different plan for me...

In our house, we always talk about keeping our palms open.  What we mean is that we hold everything loosely.  We don't hold onto anything too tight. We hold out our dreams, our plans, our expectations, our talents, our lives to God.  We hold these things openly for God to do with them what he will, for his glory and his purpose.

A little over a year ago, God called me out of orthopedics and into a new chapter.  Ministry.

I have never worked harder, never been more motivated, never been more excited, never been more tired, and never had more joy than what I have experienced in the last 12 months.  It's been a great first year.

My "new" co-workers.  Fellow laborers in the Lord.  I love them all so much.
But like any "working Mom" there is a fine balance.  A fine balance of wearing a lot of different hats.  Wife hat.  Mom hat.  Employee hat.  Friend hat.  Leader hat.  Follower hat.  I don't always get those hats right.  Sometimes I wear one hat a little too long, or a little too short, and the balance becomes unbalanced really quick.  It takes a lot of prayer, a lot of team-work with my hubby, and a whole lot of grace to keep up this balance.  I'm sure all moms can relate.

This past week I had the opportunity to take the majority of the week off.  And it was my girls' Easter break.

I had a big "to do" list that I had been formulating in my mind all weekend. Clean out the closets.  Do the laundry.  Re-arrange our wall gallery.  Hang the new art in the hallway.  Clean the carpets....etc., etc., etc.  You get the idea.

But on Sunday night as I laid in bed, formulating my game-plan to conquer my growing "to do" list, another thought entered my mind: be with your children.  So I stopped dead in the tracks of my mind.  I took a deep breath and realized, I hadn't given my week to the Lord.  I was charging full-steam ahead into my endless "to do" list without even keeping my palms open to the Lord.  So I prayed.  I asked God for wisdom as to how he wanted me to spend my week, my "free" time.  I had barely stopped praying when my mind started racing again, but this time it was racing with new ideas.  Adventures, and giggles, and nail polish, and curls.  I fell asleep determined.  I was going to pour myself into my children this week.

Monday morning came and we did get the laundry done (Yes, my 6 and 5 year old help with the laundry.  They help me fold the clothes and they are responsible for putting away their clothes).  I painted their nails.  Around 11:30 we headed out for a day of shopping with my sister and my brother's girlfriend.  We took a late lunch break where the guys met up with us, but then we hit the mall again.  It was a perfect girls' day!  Some friends invited us over for dinner that night so we spent the night laughing and dancing (they own Just Dance for xBox) the night away with dear friends (we stayed until 9...we are real party animals)!

Tuesday was a lazy morning.  The girls woke up, climbed in bed with me, and we spent the morning in our PJs watching a new movie.  I painted their nails again.  Then we grabbed some Chic-Fil-A headed to the park, and met up with some friends for a play-date!  We spent 2 hours at the park and it seemed like 20 minutes!  That night we went out to dinner, just the 4 of us.  We ate at an outside restaurant.  Our girls laughed and played on the grass together.  Hubby and I watched the sun dip behind the hills.

My happy girl with her favorite friend from school.

Wednesday was a big surprise for them.  Their first train ride!  We met up with my sissy again for breakfast and then all headed to the train station. We rode the train up to L.A. where we met up with our Dad, had some delicious sushi for lunch, went to the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store, and then rode the train back home.  It was a long day, but it was a big adventure.  The girls were so well behaved and of course, they were entertaining everyone on the train.

Waiting for the take us to LA...where we will see Papa!
My biggest girl...using chopsticks like a pro!   No cheater rubber bands for her!

My baby and me at the Disney Soda Fountain store.

An auntie and a niecey.  Check out that ice cream!  Disney always does it right.

The girls with their Papa.  Waiting for the train to take us home.

Thursday we met up with some friends for some fun at Pump It Up!  Our kids were laughing and playing for 2 hours and were really, really sweaty!  We went to lunch afterward and gorged ourselves on french fries!  We headed home after that where the girls crashed for naps and I got a few hours of work done.  Then, we headed out to hang with some friends for dinner.

Sweaty and happy kids!

Friday morning we woke up early and went out to breakfast with my aunts, Gran, my sis, and even my hubby was able to join us!  After a delicious breakfast, hubby and the girls dropped me off at work while he took the girls home for a relaxing day.

Today we are heading out to celebrate a sweet 4 year old's birthday and tomorrow we will be going to Disneyland after church.

It's been an incredible week.  I'm so grateful for the balance of working hard and having times of rest.  I'm grateful to have a husband who encouraged me to put aside the "to do" list and just hang with my girls this week.  I'm grateful for my children.  These girls truly light up my life and I absolutely LOVE being their Mommy.  I'm grateful for my job and the work God has called me to there.  I'm grateful for Easter break.

What I learned this week is that sometimes you gotta hold your "to do" list palms open before the One who gives us life and breath and double check that your priorities are right.  This is not an excuse to be lazy and play all day, nor is it a license to neglect what needs to get done (remember, I still did the laundry this week).  It's just that sometimes your "to do" list isn't the priority.  Your kids are.  So train them.  Correct them.  Direct them.  Play with them.  Enjoy them.

Whether you are a "working outside the home" kind of mom, or a "working at home" kind of mom...I know you are working and I know your life is busy.  But I encourage you to find time this weekend, or this next week, to just be with your children.  Put down the "to do" list.  Be all there.  Think of an adventure and go do it.  Our kids are growing up...FAST! Don't miss it.  Ask God to give you wisdom and hold your days, your weeks, and your plans palms open.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Keeping Christ at the Center of Christmas

Christmas time. My personal, favorite time of year.  But it is inevitably, the busiest time of year!  Running from store to store, a Christmas party every weekend, Christmas musicals, caroling around the neighborhood with friends, etc., etc.  December is definitely a marathon!  How then can we be sure, as Christian parents, to purposefully and intentionally instill in our children the true significance of Christmas?

As we see Santa practically on every corner, how can we teach our children about our Savior being born in a manger?  As that popular radio station plays their "month long of Christmas songs", how can we teach our children the Christmas carols of our faith: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," "Angels From the Realm of Glory," and the many others which proclaim the coming of Christ?  As every commercial on tv is flashing with what we and our children "need", catering to our selfish desires, how can we teach them (and remind ourselves) it is better to give than to receive?

These are all questions Hubby and I asked ourselves 6 Christmases ago as we cradled our newborn, our first-born, and celebrated our first Christmas as a family.  Over the last 6 years we have discovered some tools which have helped us keep the month of December focused only on Christ.  This is not an all-inclusive list, by any means, but I thought it might be helpful for those of you looking for practical resources for a young family.  It is my prayer that they prove helpful to your families too.

Advent Calendar:
Every December 1st we begin our 25 days of celebrating Christ's first advent.  Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.  (I say we celebrate his first advent, because the Bible is clear that Christ is returning - his second advent - and for this day, we are still waiting!)  Our advent calendar helps us count down the days to December 25th by providing us a small part of the Christmas story each day.  In the picture below, you will see that there are 25 small books numbered 1-25 in this calendar.  We read one of the  books every night before the girls go to bed.  As we finish the books, we hang them on our tree.

This is the advent calendar we use.

The little books pop-out for each day of the month.

Hubby reading to the girls

Me reading to the girls.

The Advent Calendar has been a GREAT way to be reminded of the Christmas story each day of the month.  For our girls, this is one of their favorite parts of the month of December!  There are many different ways to celebrate Advent (Jesse Tree, taking time to celebrate the 4 Sundays before Christmas, etc), but this is the one that has worked well for our family, especially with the age of our children!

Purposeful Christmas Music:
Another tradition we have held to in our house, is to listen to purposeful Christmas music.  With the radio station playing songs about a rogue snowman running all over town, a misfit reindeer with a red nose, a recluse named Mr. Grinch, and a guy who got his heart broken last Christmas and has yet to recover, you are hard-pressed to find many songs that center around Christ's birth.  Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not a complete Scrooge...I appreciate a little "Jingle Bell Rock" in my life as much as the next gal.  What I DO NOT like is my children singing about Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa more than they are singing about Jesus Christ: the Word becoming flesh, born in a manger, taking on the form of a servant, and ultimately giving up his life that we might gain life.  For this reason, Hubby and I make a valiant effort to limit secular "Christmas songs" and focus on songs that proclaim the excellencies of Christ!  The below albums are our 3 favorites.

Check out what they do with God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman - Track 8.  It's pretty epic!

Track 6: Christmas Time - is a household favorite around here!

Track 5: My Soul Magnifies the Lord - is my personal favorite from this album!

Saint Nicholas Day:
An awesome way to get your children's focus off of receiving and onto giving, is to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.  Saint Nicholas was a pastor in an ancient country called Lycia.  He was known for his kindness, love, and generosity toward his community.  He is, obviously, the man behind the legend of Santa Claus.  The way we begin our Saint Nicholas Day celebration is by reading the book, "Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend."

This book tells the story of Pastor Nicholas and how the stories of his generosity spread across the world.  The reason Hubby and I like it so much is because it focuses on WHY Pastor Nicholas was so generous.  Here is a quote from the book...

" this day, people continue to give gifts at Christmas, like Nicholas did, as a way to share God's love and show kindness to others...And like Nicholas, we are filled with Jesus' love so we want to share that love with others."

The book also comes with a note to parents with a little more detail on the story of Nicholas and a brief explanation of how to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.  It also has a glossary in the back of the book which helps define difficult words.

Anyway, back to our tradition...we read this book on the night of December 5th (the eve of Saint Nicholas Day) as a family. In the book, it tells the story of 3 poor sisters who had no money for their dowry.  Without a dowry they would be unable to marry and this would mean they would most likely be sold into slavery.  When Pastor Nicholas learned of their need, he went at night and dropped 3 bags filled with gold coins into their window.  The legend of Saint Nick is that these bags landed in the sisters' shoes or stockings, which they had laid out to dry by the fire. In keeping with this tradition, our girls leave their shoes out in front of their door (or you can do it by the fireplace) on December 5th.  That night, Mommy and Daddy come and leave money in their shoes.  When they discover this money in the morning, they are to use it for gifts for others.

Hubby putting money in the girls' shoes on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day.  Love Bug is using her money to buy some gifts for a Joy Jar, and ZuZu wants to use her money to buy gifts for her grandparents.

Santa Claus:
Well, you may have guessed it by now...but just to confirm your, we don't celebrate Santa.  I know, I know...this is a widely unpopular choice.  However, after prayerfully considering it, Hubby and I decided to ditch the hype about the man in the red suit in order to focus more on the babe in the manger.  We still get our girls gifts to open on Christmas morning, but they know these gifts come from Daddy and Mommy.  Yes, they also know that Santa Claus is not real.  No, they have not "spilled the beans" to any friends or family members who choose to celebrate Santa Claus.  For us, the choice was clear...we want Jesus to be the star of Christmas, not Santa.

Reading Luke 2:
Every Christmas morning before the present opening begins, before we start driving all over the place to different family members homes, before we start gorging ourselves on delicious treats...before everything...we gather together, the 4 of us, and my husband reads the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2.  This is a tradition that my Dad started when I was little, and it is a tradition Hubby and I carry on to this day.  I know this passage by heart now, after hearing it for so many Christmases past. What a joy it is to still hear my Dad's voice echoing in my head, as my husband now reads it to our girls.  It's my favorite part of Christmas.

Christmas day 2011.  Hubby reading from Luke 2.

I love hearing Luke's account of that overwhelms me...the love of Jesus Christ to come to Earth to save us.  The love of God the Father, sending his Son to live the life I can't live and to die the death I deserve to die.  The story of Christ's birth overwhelms me because I can't separate his birth from his death.  I heard it said once that we must see the cross from the manger.  I love that because it is so true.  We must see the unsurpassed love of God in sending his son to be born in a humble stall and to suffer and then die the worst death imaginable...for us.  He did this in order that we might gain his righteousness, in order that the perfect life of Christ could be credited to us.  He did this so that the death of Christ would cover our sins before a righteous and holy God.  He did this that we might turn from our sin and place our trust in himself, that is Christ, and the complete sufficiency of his life and death.  No, I can not separate the manger from the cross, and it is my prayer that you, dear reader, are unable to as well.

I hope these tools prove helpful to keep your family focused on Christ this Christmas!  I know they all have been great resources for our family.  So from my family to yours, we wish you a very merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thankful Tree

"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." Psalm 69:30

It has become a tradition in our household to make a Thankful Tree each November.  For the past 3 years, on November 1st, I make some sort of tree and mount it to a door or wall in our home.  Then each night in the month of November, our family sits down and I write out what each of us are thankful for.  I write it on little leaves that we then stick on the tree.  So the tree starts out bald, but ends up full with colorful fall leaves filled with our thanksgiving to God.  

November 1st - the first night our tree was up.  Looking rather bald.

The Hubs and I think it is important for our girls, as well as any guests that come over, to know exactly who it is that we are thankful to, so each leaf starts with, "Thank you, God for..."  The Bible says that God is the giver of all good things, so it is fitting that we glorify him with our thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17 

This year, we added a fun new twist, we started having any guests that come over add something to our Thankful Tree!  It was so encouraging to see friends and family writing down what they are thankful to God for.

As the month comes to a close, I am overwhelmed as I look up at our very full Thankful Tree and see the many reasons I have to offer praise and thanksgiving to my good, kind, and loving God.  

The Thankful Tree - November 26th, 2012

The thing is, that I must carry this attitude of gratitude throughout the rest of the year.  Thanksgiving is not the only time of year I am called to be thankful, but I am to be thankful all year long.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Doesn't get much plainer than that!  I have decided to share the things I am thankful for this year.  This will, hopefully, do two things: 1) It will be a good reminder to me as I look back over my blog for the next year of all the things I was/am thankful for. 2) It will hopefully, give you reasons to thank and praise God for the good things he has given you.  So without further ado...(in no particular order)

Thank you, God for...
  • your love for us.  Thank you that you loved us first.
  • my husband.
  • my job.
  • saving a wretch like me.
  • your rich mercy toward me.
  • your provision and kindness toward us.
  • Jesus, who lived the life I can't and died the death I deserve to die.
  • my co-workers, my co-laborers for Christ and his kingdom.
  • our pastors.
  • my extended family.
  • that Jesus took the wrath which was in store for me, that I may know your grace.
  • your immutability.  Thank you that you are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  • where we live - in a beautiful home, close to church, friends, and family.
  • my Love Bug.
  • that you are slow to anger.
  • the Holy Spirit, our helper and comforter.
  • my accountability partner.
  • my sweet ZuZuBe, my Sunshine Girl.
  • for a wise, kind, and gracious boss.
  • our Disneyland passes.
  • that you are abounding in steadfast love.
  • our church.
  • that our children get to attend the school they do.
  • for the sisters in Christ that you have given me.
  • the Bible.
  • prayer.  Thank you that I can cast all my burdens on you, because of your great love for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Preschool, Day 1

At the first sound of the alarm, my eyes quickly opened.  "I can't believe I have to do this again," I thought.  She was already snuggled next to me, just like she is every morning.  Somewhere between 4-5am every morning, she climbs onto our bed, scoots her little body under the covers, cozies up next to me and falls back asleep until it's time to wake up.  I heard the shower running, Hubby was already up.  And then there was a little whispering voice in my other ear, "Mommy, it's the Bug's first day of school."  ZuZu was lying on the other side of me.  "You're right, baby.  Do you think she's ready?" I whispered back.  "Oh, she's ready," said ZuZu.  We smiled at each other because we knew she really was.  ZuZu started motioning something with her hands.  She does this frequently when she's trying to be quite, it's like a game of  charades. Pointing to the door, then pointing to her room, then motioning like she's taking off her pajamas.  I gave her the thumbs up and she jumped off the bed and ran into her room to get dressed.

And their we lie, just me and my Bug.  She had her blankie in one hand and her Teddy in the other.  I watched her chest rise and fall steadily for a couple minutes as I prayed.  I thanked God for giving her to us.  I thanked God for allowing her to grow healthy and strong.  I thanked God for giving her a sharp mind, a quirky and funny personality, and that sweet little smile.  I prayed for her classmates and her teacher.  I prayed she would be well behaved and a good example.  I prayed she would make friends.  I prayed for strength for both of us today.

I nudged her gently, and whispered, "Buuuuuuuug."  That's all it took.  In a split second she whipped around, sat up, and was looking at me.  "Am I late?!?!" she said.  "No, no baby, you aren't late!  But it is time to wake up."  "OK!  I'm gunna go get dressed!"  Welp, that was easy.  She was DYING to put on her "first day of school outfit" that we had gone shopping for the day before.

After our shopping trip to the mall.  She picked out her first day of school outfit, and her new school bag all by herself!
By this point, Hubby was out of the shower and he and I began talking over the logistics of the day.  In the middle of our conversation, she appeared in the doorway.  There she stood, with the BIGGEST smile on her face.  "TA-DA!" she said.  She looked adorable.

Hubby wanted some special time with his girls that morning, so he took them downstairs and prepared breakfast for them.  By the time I made it downstairs, they were just finishing up.  "Photo shoot time!"  I yelled.  "WAIT, Mommy!!  I need Teddy!  She needs to be in the pictures too!" the Bug said.  She carries Teddy with her everywhere she goes, if we are out and Teddy isn't in her arms, you can guarantee Teddy is sitting in the car waiting for us to return.  "Ok, quick!  Go get Teddy!" I said.  She was back in a flash and we hurried outside for the inagural first day of school pictures.

First day of Preschool!  Notice Teddy.

Had to get down with Teddy.

Bag on and ready to go!
We wrapped up the photo shoot and headed inside.  We all piled in the car and off to school we went, we wanted to get there early so we could take a few more pictures.

Sisters and Best Buds.

A Bug and her Daddy

Love her so, so much!
We dropped ZuZu off on the black top and then walked around the corner to Bug's class.  There were all the parents, cameras in hand, all of us exchanging nervous yet reassuring smiles.  And then, the door opened.  There stood Bug's teacher with a big, warm smile on her face.  "Good morning, boys and girls!  Come on inside," she chirped happily. Bug just stood there for a moment, hesitating.  Mike and I gave each other the "uh-oh" look.  "Come on, Bug!" Hubby said, "Let's go inside."  The three of us grabbed hands and marched up the steps and into the classroom.  We had barely reached the threshold of the door when Bug, suddenly, let go of our hands and went running into the classroom.  And that's when it happened (you know you were waiting for this) the tears came.  Well, for goodness sake!  Cut a Momma some slack!  I mean, she didn't even say goodbye, she just ran in and away from us!  I stood there crying in the doorway for a second before I realized there were still other families trying to get in the door.  "Come on, honey," Hubby said.  He put his arm around my waist and moved me out of the doorway.  He gave me that sweet look he always does when I cry, "Dry your tears, you don't want her to see you cry. Come on, let's go play with her."  I dried my tears, took his hand, and we headed over to the play area.

There she goes, charging the classroom

Putting on a puppet show for Mommy and Daddy

"Surprise!" she shouted, "It's just me back here!"
Playing with some dough

We stood there, watching her explore the classroom and jump-in on some activities.  She was so confident and so very excited.  Just as Hubby and I were wondering how long the teacher was going to let us stay, she shouted, "Alright kiddos, please put down your activities and join me on the carpet for circle time!"  Bug quickly obeyed the command that was given and was one of the first ones on the floor.  The teacher said, "Good morning, boys and girls!  I'm so excited to be starting the first day of school together!  We are going to read a story but before we do, please turn around and wave goodbye to all the mommies and daddies."  Oh man, there it was...our cue to leave.  I put on the bravest face I could, and started waving goodbye and blowing kisses.  She caught my kiss and put it on her cheek.  I caught her kiss and put it on my heart.  She blew one to Daddy, and he blew one to her.  I grabbed Hubby's hand and we started walking out the door.  I couldn't turn back around to look at her one last time.  I was already crying.

Waving goodbye to Daddy

Hubby and I put our arms around each other and we walked side-by-side out the door, him smiling, me crying.  As I walked through the parking lot the tears continued to flow.  For the first time ever, I was leaving both of my girls at school.  I suddenly became aware that another couple walking to their car was staring at me.  Which made me aware of something else...I forgot my sunglasses this time. "BLAST!" I choked through my tears, "I forgot my sunglasses!"  Hubby Lovey laughed at me and squeezed me tighter.  "You're so funny, Momma," he said. "So, how does it feel to be kid-free for the first time in 6 years."  "Awful!" I exclaimed, still crying.  This drew a hearty laugh from him and his laugh made me laugh.  As we laughed, I dried my tears right as we reached the car.  "Come on, Babe.  Let's go get you some Starbucks."  Oh this man, he so knows the way to my heart...a mocha frappucino and a breakfast date with him...just what the doctor ordered to cure my fragile Mommy heart.

Bug LOVED her first day.  She told us all about the reading circle, going outside to play, heading to chapel, doing some arts and crafts, and meeting new friends.  She can't wait to go back tomorrow.  Her sister was right about the Bug, she was so ready for school.