I took these the week before Taryn started school.  I’m so, so glad that I did.  I was “this” close to putting them on the back burner but now I’m so happy we did this.  My girl had a really rough start to school and kindergarten, we totally didn’t even see it coming, it hit us like a brick wall.  She is now thriving and doing very well.  We couldn’t be more proud of her, all that she has learned, all that she has overcome in just a few short months.  It has been quite the adjustment but with the help of a good friend, we can now stop to look at the kid she was before, and the kid she is now, and see she’s grown up so much, she’s grown into herself, she’s tackled her fears, she is much more independent, she’s made friends and she adores her *amazing* teacher.  She’s starting to read, can now tie her shoes with ease, and she thinks outside the box more than I thought was possible for a 5 year old.  The first parent/teacher conference was a total blast, it was awesome to sit and chat with someone who appreciates Taryn and all that she is as much as we do.

Harry and the Lady Next Door is the first book she ever read words out of that weren’t sight words (as mentioned in this post).  I can still see that moment in my mind, her smile, her eyes lit up and the way she chuckled with glee reading her first word from sounding out the letters.  I am so proud of my girl.  And I miss her like crazy all day long….but I know she’s enjoying every second of school and learning.

2010-10-22T23:33:29-05:00October 22nd, 2010|Austin Photographer, My Family|

10…back to school edition

Man it has been awhile since I posted a 10 on Tuesday.  It’s not Tuesday, but I’m awake and have half of my wits about me so here we go….

1.  Kindergarten & 7th grade:

Could they be any taller?!?!  Time flies.  Be sure you click that link, it’s worth it just for the laugh.  It gets me every.single.year.

2.  As the first week of school is about to come to a close, I have more stories and one liners from Taryn than I can wrap my mind around.  Her first day went really well.  She was really nervous, but also very excited that morning.  All 5 of us actually managed to get up and out on time, which is a slight miracle given that the elementary school starts very early compared to the middle and high school.  They stagger start/end times here which I absolutely love (it enables little ones to get home before the high schoolers who drive are out on the roads plus it ensures that the middle school kids, for the most part, are not latch key and get home around the time most parents do).  I was super nervous leaving her that morning because all the other girls in the class were already paired up and she was sitting at a table by herself and kept putting her head down.  She was pretty quiet but we had to leave to bring Ty.  Her teacher is so wonderful with the kids and was very reassuring with Taryn, I knew she was in good hands.  When I picked her up we had a bit of taryn-esque drama (see #2) but once we got home she said she had a great day and made not one, but TWO new friends in her class!  Yay!!  And whew!!!  She must have had a good time because this was the view (a la iphone) as I pulled in to our driveway, HA!

3.  The first day did include little issue.  I pulled up to carpool at the designated time and waited my turn in line.  When it got to be my turn they called over the walkie talkies for Taryn to come out of the building (they have it down to a science).  Well there are around 6 stations and you pull up as things move along.  They called again, no Taryn.  By the time I pulled up to the 4th spot I started to get worried….did a 5th grader run her over rushing down the hall?  Was she scared and hiding in her classroom?  Did she get lost going to the carpool line?  Did the automatic flushing toilet that she is scared to death of get the best of her?  Or the most likely option, did she revolt at our refusal to let her ride the bus and just get on one anyway?  Cause you know, 5 years olds think all the buses are the same and they all to to their house.  I started to panic.  I rolled down my window and asked the duty teacher standing at the station if I needed to park and go in and get her since she wasn’t answering to her name.  She said no, that it was the first day and she was likely talking to a friend in line and not listening and then asked what she’s wearing.  I tell her, blond hair, purple shirt, purple backpack and jeans.  Station 5…..Panic…..Station 6……Panic……duty teacher comes over and tells me they can’t find her.  Sit tight and let’s see if she answers the page and turns up.  Right then I hear her name over the loud speaker.  I start to pull out to park my car.  Just then someone says they found her over the walkie talkie….whew….thank God!!  I twist my neck to turn all the way around to see her coming out the door looking very ticked off sporting her signature scowl.  My heart sank and I feared she’d had a really bad day.  I was determined to stay positive, greeted her with a big “Hi T!!  How was your day?!?”  She plopped down in her seat, crossed her arms and scowled even more.  She said “I didn’t get to finish my snack…humph!”  Her teacher was the one who walked her out thankfully and she filled me in.  Taryn had been in carpool line with the other kids, she asked to go to the bathroom and another duty teacher took her.  When she came out of the bathroom the other teacher was standing there talking to someone and Taryn gave her the slip.  She proceeded to sneak into the YMCA on-sight aftercare program “because they had snacks!”.  Apparently, she slipped in, took a seat and was promptly served goldfish.  I don’t even know what to say to that except at least it didn’t rival Ty’s first day of Kindergarten.  When her daddy asked her why she did that she said “because I was hungry!”.

4.   Many, many more from this little session with her coming….someday….

5.  The first day also included the fire alarm going off at school, but the report from her teacher was that she did ok with it.  Nervous but ok and it didn’t last long as someone got curious and pulled it on accident.  But on the second day, once again in carpool, inching up for it to be our turn, when the fire alarm went off again, I started to panic when I heard directions come over the school loud speaker for everyone to evacuate the building immediately.  And then I smelled smoke.  I talked to a duty teacher who said she saw Taryn heading to the front of the school with a group of kids and teachers and that she was very upset.  She is deathly afraid of loud noises and I’m now so very glad we talked to her about firedrills ahead of time and that we warned her teacher they would likely be an issue for her.  Her teacher was nearby when it went off and looked for Taryn right away and gathered her up.  By the time I got to her she was still really upset, I parked and gave her a bunch of love and hugs before she was ok enough to drive home.  By bedtime she’d sworn off school thanks to the 2:2 fire drill ratio they had going on.  For the record, the school was not on fire, there was a fire nearby and one of the staff smelled it and pulled the alarm since they didn’t know where it was coming from.  Better safe than sorry!  Thankfully Wednesday we got her through the front door of the school and there were no fire drills all day long!  Needless to say, I skipped the carpool line and opted to park and go in and get her!  By Thursday she was much more confident in school and learning how things work.  She braved the monkey bars or “welllllll, at least half of them” as she says.  She has continued talking about her new friends, how she tried to trade her sandwich at lunch but the other person didn’t like salad in their sandwich (it was carrots) and she loved music class.  She is dealing well with the automatic potty thanks to a tip from an ingenious teacher to put a yellow sticky note on the wall and each time she goes she just grabs it and puts it over the sensor on the potty.  That way it only goes off when she is ready to bolt out of there.  Talk about smart!  And she even walked from the nurses office all the way to the lunch room by herself with confidence.  Thursday morning she insisted we could drop her off and she would know where to go and what to do, citing her room number and everything.  Jase still walked her in this morning but I think by next week she’ll be good to go.  Big kid!

6.  I’ll be honest, our new schedule is kicking my butt.  My issue is that we have to get up at the crack of dawn to get everyone up and out.  Ty has football practice every single morning so he’s putting a 2 hour workout in before he ever opens a book.  He has to be there early and so does Taryn.  That wouldn’t be a super big deal except I have to get my work in while the kids are sleeping and generally work from around the time Jason gets home to anywhere between 1 am and 3 am.  Especially since I’m still so behind.  Getting up at 5 am doesn’t exactly mix with that and I’m struggling with it.  I used to sleep in with the little kids and let Ty and Jase do their thing and get out each morning but with Taryn getting up early Teagan is also waking up (she needs a mute button!) and that means I need to get up to help out too.  I’m just not sure how to adjust our schedule and make it all work for us, still get everyone’s needs met and get my work in.  Balance eludes me again!

7.  After 3 years of procrastination I finally decided to cash in a bunch of my credit card points for my business account.  They have been racking up for awhile and it was time.  We decided on this running bike for Teagan, and several other things.  I’m still trying to pick out the best juicer for our family too.  Suggestions?  The only thing to arrive so far is the bike and Teagan is thrilled with it!  He can’t pedal a trike, big wheel or other toddler bike, his left side is slower/weaker than the right and his core is very weak so we hope this will be a great option for him.  He had a hard time maneuvering it tonight and can’t balance, but he’s still excited to have a bike.

8.  Last week I also used a few points to order these Goodbyn Lunch Boxes for the big kids lunches.  I’ve been interested in bento for a few years and decided it is finally time.  We’ve sworn off school lunches this year in our goal to eat organic, healthy food.  I can’t wait to get our new lunch boxes.  There are so many positives, they help ensure you offer a variety of foods and healthy, appropriate portions, they reduce waste, are made out of the most benign of all plastics on the market, and are lead, BPA and phthalate-free.  Not only that, you can run them through the dishwasher (even with the stickers!) and even freeze them.  But the aspect that is the most important to me, it puts all of their food in front of them at the same time.  I have no doubt my kids go to the fruit I pack for them first, fill up on that and the veggies and stuff I want them to eat is last and picked at.  With a bento style box, everything is right there and open from the moment they take the lid off.  They may still reach for the fruit first, but at least they don’t have to go digging for the veggies at the end.  No, I don’t work for the company, I’m just an extra big goob who gets excited about lunch boxes and reducing waste in our environment.  I wish I had time to make a cool bento for the kids every day, but at this point I don’t.  It’s all I can do to grab something frozen from the freezer (thank you food fairies!) and get it on the table each night.  For now, lunch consists of leftovers, fruits and veggies, bottled water, organic snacks from Whole Foods, etc.  But someday when I DO have the time, I’ll be visiting these websites for inspiration and ideas:

Another Lunch | Easy Lunch Boxes | Super Healthy Kids | Bento Bloggy | Bento Box Lunch

And here is a cool spreadsheet of bento lunchbox ideas.  This is useful even it it’s packed in a regular old brown paper bag 😉  And I’m pretty sure I need these Lunch Box Notes too.  Does anyone have any healthy lunch websites or resources you want to share?

9.  What is a food fairy you ask?  There is an amazing group of moms, friends and clients that have banded together to keep us fed over the last few months while Teagan has been sick.  Either Becky or Emily collects the food and delivers it to us around once a week.  This is no small task given Ty eats like an army in his own right!  We are truly so appreciate of all their help and donations, I’m not sure how we would have gotten through the last few months without them.  Tending to Teagan’s needs and care and medications is extremely time consuming and just having one less thing to worry about in getting dinner on the table is HUGE.  Ty has dubbed Emily and Becky our “food fairies”.  Ty is so baffled by the fact that people bring food to us….I think it is his little mini version of heaven!

10.  And last but certainly not least….Kylie.  Oh, sweet Kylie.  She never thought she’d love anyone more than Jason.  That is until Taryn came along.  They have such a close bond.  For years when Kylie is feeling like she’s lacking something (puh-lease, she wants for nothing 😉 ) or wanting Jason’s attention, she’ll go find one of his shoes and put it on her bed.  Especially if he is out of town or something.  She doesn’t chew them, she just lays next to it and looks sorrowful.  It’s pretty much how she communicates a need.  By Tuesday, I think it’s clear she’s sending us a message that we weren’t the only ones missing Taryn….


She’s never done it with T’s shoes before.  I immediately teared up and rushed over to love on her.  I miss her too Kylie.  Bunches.  Taryn was thrilled to see this when she got home.  Every day she now runs through the door and checks Kylie’s bed.  She looks heartbroken if one of her shoes isn’t there, lays on the floor, pets the dog and says “why didn’t you miss me today girl?”  They cuddle and get all caught up on their day.  And I just want to melt.

2010-08-26T21:13:13-05:00August 26th, 2010|Austin Photographer, My Family, Uncategorized|

kindergarten eve

Dear Taryn,

Tomorrow morning, we will wake you up early with a smile and I know you’ll be your usually grumpy self until you really wake up.  You’ll scowl your signature scowl, stretch and then voice a random complaint, likely the last thing you thought of before going to bed or something you dreamed about.  It will be random and it will make me smile.  I’ll give you a long hung and you’ll curl up in my arms and snuggle on my lap, your head on my chest with your long legs dangling down to the floor.  You’ll tell me again how mad you are that we won’t let you ride the bus.  And ask, yet again, if you can wear your new favorite color purple from head to toe.  We’ll settle on the purple shirt and the purple glitter barrett.  You’ll sneak a peek into your lunchbox to double check I didn’t forget anything important.  And you’ll try to sneak your favorite dog stuffed animal into your new purple backpack.  We’ll put our new routine in place, get dressed, brush hair and teeth, eat breakfast with the boys, pack your backpack, all the things Ty has done for the last 8 years.  So while we are used to this routine, it will be different, because it will be you as well.  Two carpool lines and homework and art projects and library books.  Sack lunches and field trips and the PTA.  There is a huge part of me that can’t wait for our family to do elementary school again, I loved it the first go around!  The parent involvement, being a room mom and seeing a huge, excited smile when I make a surprise visit during lunch to eat with you.  You are so smart and I know that this is the perfect time for you to broaden your horizons.  I know this summer was especially hard on you with Teagan being so sick.  School will be a welcome reprieve and so wonderful for you right now, your very own thing, just for you.  I have no doubt that you will soak up each and every thing that is presented to you.  You’ll focus the way that you do, master it and be eager to move on to the next.  Your days will go so fast because you will be so busy absorbing and learning in new and different ways than we’ve taught you at home and I couldn’t be more excited for you.  I’ve tried so hard to keep up with your constant love of learning, exploring and figuring things out.  I love how you focus on things with a calm, quiet attention when something truly interests you.  I love that you quickly master things and always figure out a way to take it just a little bit further.  I know that you are a little bit excited, and a lot bit nervous.  It’s ok to be nervous.  It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you are aware.  I think that’s a gift.  Change can be difficult for many people, not just little kids.  It’s learning how to manage it that counts and I hope we have prepared you in every way possible to face the things that will make you anxious in the coming days.  Preschool was wonderful for you, you conquered your fears, the rock wall, the tall curly slide, meeting new friends, improvising on show-n-tell day and speaking with confidence in front of your class.  Daddy and I are so proud of you for those things and so many more.  You grew so much in pre-k, your teacher blessed you in so many ways by embracing who you are, we will always be so thankful for that.  But I’m your mom, and I worry.  I worry you’ll get lost and scared when looking for your classroom.  I worry lunchtime in the cafeteria will be overwhelming with so many children and a time limit.  I worry you won’t eat or drink enough.  I worry somone will bully you on the playground.  Or that you’ll run out in front of the swings without me there to remind you not to.  I worry you’ll be so afraid of the auto flushing potty / loud hand air dryer that you just won’t go.  I worry about you hiding under a desk during a fire drill.  I worry someone will be mean to you and hurt your soft, sensitive heart.  I worry you don’t know anyone and you’ll be scared after Daddy and I drop you off.  Even though I know in so many ways that you’re ready, I must confess, I’m not sure I am.  It seems like yesterday Daddy and I prayed for you to come into our lives.  And here you are…no longer a baby in our arms, grinning up with your chubby cheeks and bright blue eyes.  Now, you’re our tall, sweet, funny, feisty, loving, sassy, loyal yet shy little girl.  No signs of our baby remain.  There is a part of me that misses that baby but there is a bigger part of me that is so happy with where you are now.  I am thankful that at 5  you still snuggle in my lap, cuddle every chance you get, and constantly want to be next to someone who loves you.  I love that you love your best friend Lily and want more than anything for her to go to school with you, you ask me every day why she can’t.  I love that you giggled the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard after reading for the first time this summer.  The joy in your eyes in that moment was amazing.  I love that you just changed your favorite color again and that you declare “Ty’s old school” is now your “new school” every single time we drive near it.  While I do miss my tiny baby, there is a bigger part of me that is so incredibly excited to see the person you are becoming.  I won’t lie, you are a lot of work, you’ve challenged me often and there are many moments over the last 5 years that tested my patience and proverbial sanity.  Looking back, those moments are also some of the best memories and I can honestly say that you make me laugh soooo much.  You are one of the most animated, funny people I’ve ever met.  You are fascinating and complicated and just fabulous in a million different ways.  You might see me with tears in my eyes and Daddy’s face go pale when it is time for us to leave you with your class tomorrow.  This is just one of those things that parents do when we realize that we cannot stop time and that our baby girl is growing up.  Our tears (and paleness) show how much we love you and how proud we are of you, I hope you know that.  Well, Daddy being pale may be due to the thought of you being around boys….but if there is one thing I am confident of, it is that you can handle yourself with the boys, just as Ty or Teagan.  You’ll do fine and daddy will figure that out too (eventually hopefully).  I hope that you and Teagan do ok being away from each other during the day 5 days in a row.  He was so sweet snuggling with you at dinner saying he’ll “misssss you T”.  He will, so much.  You and Ty both.  As we turn this corner, I hope you make a friend on your first day, I think that would give you a sense of peace right away.  I hope you find someone who will be loyal and loving of your sweet heart, because that is exactly the kind of friend you are in return.  I pray that your teacher embraces all that you are and finds ways to bring out the best of you.  I hope she teaches you in new and different ways than we have and sparks an early love of learning.  We are always your first teachers and just because you are going to school, we want you to know that won’t change.  We love your sense of wonder and know that kindergarten will just make it that much bigger and better.  We will always explore, explain, discover and grow with you!  More than anything, I hope that when we pick you up you are breathless with all the things you experienced on your very first day of kindergarten…..I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Love, Mommy

(((ps – we took these shots early so that I could leave my camera at home on the first day of school and focus on my girl 100%.  we actually did 3 locations and 3 outfits in one morning all relating to starting kindergarten, but it will be a long time before I can proof them, I need to catch up on client work first.  I proofed just a few to mark the occasion 😉 )))

2010-08-22T20:08:04-05:00August 22nd, 2010|My Family|

T minus…seven days and counting…

kindergarten.  it’s happening.  whether we are ready or not.  she meets her teacher on thursday.  school starts next monday.  during orientation last week she made her daddy go with her for the kids tour while i stayed behind in the parents meeting with teagan.  5 minutes in, she told him she was ok on her own and took off with the rest of the kids.  she’s looking forward to lunch time.  and the playground.  and computer lab.  and the library.  she’s relieved the group of kindergarten teachers knew what criss-cross-apple-sauce was.   she’s worried about the noisy toilets.  and fire drills.  she’s mad we won’t let her ride the bus.  and she wants to wear purple from head to toe on the first day.  it’s really happening.

2010-08-16T00:42:33-05:00August 16th, 2010|My Family|