I didn’t mean to take a blog break but it looks like that is just what I did. I can’t even begin to tell you how crazy, busy this June has been. I am ready to come up for some air but I can’t do that until after next weekend. My posts will probably be few and far between while we finish getting ready for the Memorial Ride & Cook-Off and then after that, I hope I can get back to a regular blog schedule.
Until then, here is a bucket list of what we have been up to:
- I’m teaching Catherine how to read and she is picking it up quickly. I am using a highly recommended and yet incredibly simple system that I will share at another time
- We signed Catherine up for homeschool co-op
- We hosted our first annual Texas Fallen Heroes Family Retreat in New Braunfels. It was a blast!
- The next weekend I responded to a wildland firefighter fatality. That was a whole new learning experience.
- The last week we have been busy, busy trying to get ready for Memorial Ride & Cook-Off. I am pretty sure that this will be the last year. I am burnt out with planning it and then trying to pull it off with very little help.
That’s it for now!
In 2010 a firefighter at John’s station suddenly passed away. I went to the funeral home and cemetery to take photos because they had brought the big airport firetrucks down the funeral home to show a fire department presence. While I was there, I visited the gravesites of several other firefighters that were buried in that cemetery. This cemetery is huge and I was driving through trying to locate a particular grave, I came across the military burial area. I was immediately struck by one particular grave that was covered in decorations, flowers and flags. I immediately stopped the car to see who this special person was. You can read more about his story here. Since then I have visited his grave during Memorial Day weekend, and then there was a few other times that I had to stop by that particular funeral home for something else and I would stop by. Each time his grave was lovingly tended to and decorated. I could only imagine how much his family loved him and missed him.
This year, I decided to take Catherine with me to place a flag on his grave. Catherine is extremely sensitive to people and animals that suffer from injuries or illness and to death. John and I have protected her from dealing with death topics which was extremely hard when John’s mother died and then when our dog Chief died. I believe that now she is at a much better age to start talking to her about death, so I figured taking her to place the flag would be a good first step into starting to understand that topic. When we pulled into the cemetery(which we have driven by hundreds of times), she immediately started asking questions. She asks such deeply intellectual questions that I had a hard, hard time trying to answer them. I knew that placing that flag was going to be a lot harder to do than I had originally thought but it was something we needed to do.
As we pulled up to the military section I noticed that there were many families that were there. The cemetery had decided to put together a memorial service and we just happened upon the end of the service. As we walked closer to that soldiers grave, I saw that his family was there…lots and lots of them. I was happy that I could finally see this family and put faces behind this soldier’s grave. Catherine and I walked up, hand in hand, carrying our little flag and the mother of the soldier looked at us with a slight smile on her face. I told her that I visited her son’s grave every year and that this year we wanted to place a flag. She was taken aback by the fact a stranger would visit her son’s grave and just loved that we wanted to place a flag. Catherine bent over and placed it in the long line of other flags. They commented on how cute and sweet she was to do this. We thanked the family for his sacrifice and allowing us to honor him and walked away. As we stepped away, Catherine asked how he died. I told her that he was protecting us from bad guys and that the bad guys hurt him so badly that he ended up dying. She immediately stopped, turned back to look at the family and then said, ‘that makes me so mad and so sad.’ It was all I could do to keep from tearing up.
Immediately after I explained what happened to that soldier, it was like something clicked in her little head. She wanted to know who each person was that was buried there. She would then ask if that person protected us. She then noticed that there were lots of flags left over from the memorial service and asked if she could put them on other stones. How could I say no?
Catherine has such a tender heart and I know that this visit made her think. She asked lots and lots of questions after we left. I am glad that I have opened this dialogue with her and I hope that we can make this a ‘tradition’ every Memorial Day to help keep the conversation going as she grows older. She needs to know that there are people out there that are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect us and keep us safe. I want her to know that this day is more than just pool parties and barbecues…that there is a face and a name behind those stones. It was a tough and yet meaningful day.
Yesterday was Catherine’s last day of preschool…my how time flies! It’s hard to believe she will be in kindergarten in the fall. She has really blossomed and thrived in school and loves to learn so much! I feel blessed that we had the opportunity to put her in a program that provided her with a loving and caring experience. Now we are off to our next adventure…kindergarten!
Catherine’s teacher gave each child a beach ball and a sand bucket. They got the chance to sign each others ball, just like a yearbook! Such a sweet idea!
John bought Catherine a butterfly wrist corsage to wear at her graduation.
And being valedictorian (at least we pretended)…she led the classes to the stage. I hope she makes a great leader one day!
With her preschool diploma she received the character award for creativity. Fit her perfectly!
And to end the wonderful day she got to ride around the reception room on the back of a motorized wheelchair with one of her classmates. How fun is that?
Congratulations my big, big girl!
It’s Mother’s Day. I’m not sure what this day is like for those mothers that have successfully raised their children to adulthood. For those of us that are still in the trenches, this day is filled with a mix of a sense of accomplishment for all that we have been able to do for our children over the past year and also a sense of guilt for what we haven’t been able to do. Well, at least it is for me.
Mother’s Day is a mixed bag of emotions for me. On this day 7 years ago, I felt led down the path of adoption. The next 2 years, this day was a symbol of loss and angst, waiting for Catherine and what future Mother’s Day would look like. And then for the last 4 years I have struggled with that sense of accomplishment and yet feelings of guilt. I don’t think I am a good enough mother. This job is so hard and the days seem so long and sometimes the moments seem so lonely. Those many moments of self-doubt I feel sure that Catherine is wondering how she got stuck with me. While I feel much more comfortable in this role, I still wonder if I could be better and do more. This last year I feel I have had more days where I know that I am good enough for her but there will always be a little shadow of doubt. Well, at least most days I feel like I am at least better than average. What gives me peace at night is when she is getting ready for bed and I give her a hug and kiss goodnight. She always wants another hug and she always wants another kiss and I can always see in her eyes just how much she loves me. That is what gives me hope that she approves and knows that I love her with all of my mothering heart.
And for my mother who put her heart and soul into mothering me, thank you! I love you very much! And for my sisters who are raising children and expecting new ones, I hope you know how much I think of you and know how wonderful a mother you are. And for my friends who treat Catherine as if she was your own, thank you for loving her.
It wasn’t too hard to come up with a birthday party plan for Catherine. I am not a fan of commercialized party accessories, so I knew I had to come up with something created. For me, that’s the easy part…mostly because of Pinterest. I decided on a party that would have an activity or two relating to the theme. While Catherine loves unicorns and sparkling pink dolphins, I couldn’t come up with games or things to do based on those things. However, we picked sparkling pink for her cake. I ended up choosing a sweets and treats theme because I had seen several pins on Pinterest and various blog posts that featured candy shops and cupcake decorating. Now given the choice between pink dolphins and candy, Catherine will choose candy every…single…time. I knew that putting together a party around this theme was going to be a big hit both for Catherine and her friends.
I was really surprised that Target, Hobby Lobby and Michaels had some super cute decorations for cupcakes and candy, however my favorite decorations came from the Cupcake Express Etsy shop. This lady makes fabulous party printables! Her candy shoppe printable is what I ended up using. She is super fast and so sweet!
For the sweets and treats theme I put together a candy shoppe where I laid out containers full of various candies. I bought all of the candy from the Dollar Tree, so that ensured that I was able to get lots of candy. They have a great selection and so we had a huge variety of it. The kids were so excited about her candy store. That was the very last thing we did and I think most of them had a hard time waiting to go ‘shopping.’ At the beginning of the party the kids decorated chef hats and aprons with fabric markers, felt stickers and gems. After that they got to decorate three cupcakes and two sugar cookies. I had Target bakery bake the cupcakes without icing which saved on a lot of time, although Catherine and I baked a couple dozen of our own because we ended up having more kids than we thought. The baker at Target thought I was crazy asking for cupcakes without frosting. You should have seen the look on her face. I also bought sugar cookies from a grocery store bakery. The kids had the best time creating their master pieces and they all looked so cute wearing their chef outfits. After all of the decorating we had the kids get in line for the candy store and then filled their bags with colorful candies. On the candy menu were lolipops, cupcake shaped gummies, twizzlers, jelly beans, gum balls, lemon heads and more. It was so much fun to watch their eyes light up! Then we quickly shuttled the kids outside to burn off a bit of the sugar. We had a cupcake pinata that we found at Target. It was a well-built pinata so the men had to get after it with their knives and the baseball bat. They cracked us all up when they tried getting that candy out!
We had a wonderful party but it was a lot of work! The last two years we have had big parties. Next year I am really, really, really going to try and lay low. We shall see how that goes! I have put the photos into gallery mode because there are so many of them. Just click on the photos and you should be able to see them enlarged. I also apologize for the terrible color of the pictures. My kitchen area creates bad lighting and so most of our photos have a yellow tint.