Every year the kindergarten classes kids' school have "color weeks" for two weeks at the beginning of the year. The kids are encouraged to wear the color of the day and go through the rainbow. The big kids can also join in the fun and of course Emersyn INSISTED on "helping" her sister. Some colors were pretty easy to cover and others...notsomuch.
The last few days of week two include brown, black, white and pink. We have one leopard print dress that Landry wore for brown day but that was about it. I told Emmy that I was sorry that she didn't have a shirt to wear and she just looked at me and said, "that's okay Momma, my skin is already brown... I'll just wear that!"
As usual, I'm a little behind on throwing my two cents in to the big conversation of the week. Sunday Night football brought much more than tackles and touchdowns... it ignited a furry of angry and a cyclone of support all at the same time.
I wasn't quite sure how to share my voice because I wanted to make sure that my message was clear and concise and compassionate. My whole life kneeling meant reverence. We kneel before God when we enter a pew, we kneel to pray, some even kneel to take communion. On the sports field we kneel when a player is injured. As a sign of respect. We kneel.
For me, players kneeling in silence is one of the most respectful peaceful protests I have seen. The image that it creates for me is one of hope. Men kneeling during the anthem in the hopes that one day the community to which they belong are seen, heard, valued and loved as much as members of different communities. I don't see disrespect - I see hope.
Many, many, MANY people feel very differently about this. And while I have 1000s of thoughts that I could say a million different ways, I want to share the thoughts of someone else. Chris Field is the founder of Mercy Project and his words are simple and true.
"A few thoughts on the NFL, the national anthem, protests, and Jesus:
Let's start by getting the low hanging fruit out of the way: 1) first amendment obviously applies here, 2) it is different because these guys are on the clock at work (p.s. but so am I right now and so are you), 3) it does seem their bosses have given them permission (either explicit or implied) to do this which makes number 2 a moot point, and 4) we certainly have the right not to support or participate in activities or protests we don't agree with. So that's the obvious/easy stuff. Let's move into the messy part, shall we?
I don't know what it feels like to be a black person in America. I don't know what it feels like to be a minority. I don't know what it feels like to feel unheard and unseen for generations. And neither do most of the people I see talking about this issue. I have consistently asked, and will continue to ask, my white friends to listen more than we speak when it comes to these conversations. To be led rather than trying to lead.
We seem to have forgotten that it is possible to grow up in the same country but with totally different experiences and understandings about fairness and justice. This is where our friends of color are struggling. Same country, same flag, same anthem, totally different life experiences. But we still don't seem to get this. We literally want to tell them that how they feel is invalid or wrong. Have you ever tried that in a marriage or friendship? Doesn't end well! Empathy and compassion are the cornerstones of healthy relationships. We say we want the healthy relationship, but we only want it on our terms. That's not the way this works.
"Hey, why don't you just have peaceful protests instead of rioting and breaking things?"
"No, not like that," we say, "go peacefully protest where we don't have to see it."
Wait, what? We're fine with you peacefully protesting, but go do it where no one can see you? Come on. We all use our biggest stage for the things that matter most to us. Including our President and his Twitter page. Including you and me right here on Facebook.
And a last note for all my friends who believe in Jesus: I have watched in horror over the last week as these protestors have been called idiots, pieces of trash, and pieces of crap by people I know for a fact are esteemed leaders in our community and in our local churches. And I am here to say as clearly as I can: stop that nonsense. We have failed when we find it easier to become enraged over a national anthem than the kingdom anthem. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus encourage us to lose our collective minds and tongues, "for the sake of our country." That is absolutely not okay. And I'm sorry if this offends you. But I sincerely hope you will call me out if I ever lose my line so much that love of an ideal has overtaken everything I've ever read and known to be true about the one I call Lord. In the arc of power and justice, Jesus sat at the table with the minority. Constantly. That's not my opinion. That's the Bible.
Be passionate. Hold your ideals. Don't be jerks. It's really as simple as that.
Oh, and it's okay for us to listen more too. Really. So let's turn off our TV's if we must (I haven't watched an NFL game in years). But then let's use that extra time and money we've saved to go out and love and listen to our neighbors whose life experiences are different than our own. Then we can lock arms together and start working towards a life where we all feel equally proud and committed to being on the same team."
And if that doesn't make you pause to think (and that's all I'm really asking anyone to do.... pause....think...seek to UNDERSTAND) then take three minutes and watch this...
Cindy and I always talk about how eerily similar our kiddos are accordingly to age order. Out of the six, Emmy and Anna are our creative spirits - the artists of the bunch so Emersyn insisted that for Anna's "experience" birthday gift we host a "gal"lery day at our house.
I love how fearless they are. I would sit and stare at a blank canvas afraid to mess something up; they go straight to work creating as they go. I hope that confidence and assuredness stays with them and carries over beyond their love for art. I hope they are confident in their words and thoughts and actions and I hope they know they always have each other to help them be confident when they aren't so sure.
They painted a "best-friend" flower to share and I think it's my new favorite thing since the friendship bracelet.
They would rotate between painting, drawing, playing, dancing all the while laughing and talking. I loved peeking into their worlds and listening to them plan when they grow up.
They are going to college to become artists and then they'll live together with their families and run an art studio (as yet to be named). I think they settled on 4 kids each but we'll see how that goes.
I love how they lift each other up - they offer support and encouragement and celebrate each other so well. That's such an important thing for women to do for each other and I'm glad that they are learning that now.
At the end of the day, everyone was invited to their art show complete with movie...
these girls teach me so much about love and friendship and confidence and the beauty that we all hold within. And I totally want a craft day with my besties now!
Here's what we've been up through my phone's point of view...
The kids take theme days really seriously around here. Kindergarteners have "color days" for two weeks at the beginning of each year and I'm pretty sure "brown" was Landry's favorite day...
I mean, the girl can accessorize and also falls asleep every single day on the ride home.
Radley had a major tooth emergency this week. He had been complaining about an ulcer, but it turns out he had an abscessed tooth. Poor kid was in so much pain and we couldn't figure out why. Praise God that we have great friends that are dentists and a dentist that is easily accessible. We had an appointment with an endodontist and he took one look at him and said he needed a root canal. So Wednesday was not the best day ever for Radley.
(He asked me not to share the pictures of his sweet face all swollen.)
Meanwhile, these girls were proving that you can TOTALLY wear white after Labor Day.
The next day they were back in black... I kind of wish that every day had an assigned color because it made getting dressed so much easier.
Emersyn has become a favorite at Landry's gymnastics class... she brings art supplies and paper and the little kids flock to her. Radley isn't usually with us but since he couldn't play soccer he and I were talking about how glad we BOTH were that we are past this super little kid stage in our lives. Emmy is already a much more patient mom than I ever was.
When I asked her what she was working so hard on she showed me these notes for her "happy teachers"... y'all... I hope she never learns how to spell "always" correctly.
They ended "color days" with pink AND maroon and they absolutely insisted on wearing both.
We ended our week with the beginning of my FIFTEENTH year advising MSC FISH. I'm not really sure how that happened but if you can make out the words on my shirt, you may have a good idea.
And that's us in an instant!
I don't remember quite what made me want to go to A&M - it had to have been the fact that my brother went to basketball camp with his friends when I was in maybe the 4th or 5th grade. We checked him and got him set up in the dorms and my friend, Katy, and I refused to leave. (Me more because Jeremy had really cute friends, her because she was a really talented athlete and probably wanted to learn and improve some basketball skills.) The campus was about half the size it is now and was still huge - I loved everything about it. I think it must have been from that trip that I knew I wanted to be a Fightin' Texas Aggie.
We have a saying that from the outside looking in you can't understand it and from the inside looking out you can't explain it. Never has a crazy cliche of a phrase been more true. You can't explain it and you certainly can't understand it until you've lived it. I loved the first 4.5 years so much that I decided to stay for grad school. I knew the next two years would teach me more about the profession that I was going to pursue but I never in a million years thought that those years would bring women into my life that would teach me so much more.
They teach me how to raise kids with intention...
they teach me how to support husbands with crazy jobs. How to speak up. How to find joy. How to love deeply. And although some of us are spread by thousands of miles, we still find the time to laugh and cry and connect.
This past weekend I got to show my girls the power of women friendship through the love of our Texas Aggies.
Game days are the best days to be on campus - the energy and excitement can not be matched and the girls were so excited for their first Aggie game.
Right up until they walked up three ramps and sat out in the sun. Landry was clearly not into any of that nonsense.
Landry was forcing smiles.
But they kept asking me about the new people they met, the stories we were sharing and why I loved being a Texas Aggie. I pointed to all the people sitting in those stands, sticking out the heat to watch the Aggies play a PITIFUL first half of football and just said, "Aggies are our people. We bleed maroon. We stand up for each other. We fight for each other and even when we disagree, we are all bonded by being Aggies."
They whooped and gig'ed and "AAAAAed" right along the other 80K people in the stands. They swayed and saw'ed 'em off and fell a little bit more in love with the place that went from being my school to becoming my home.
The kids' school celebrated Grandparents' Day by inviting all grandparents to enjoy lunch with the kids. (Because nothing says "I love my grandparents" like eating cafeteria food.) Gigi never misses a chance to come visit and even though I told her to get all the kids the same lunch... she clearly didn't listen. Emmy's teacher sent me this sweet picture - she wore "little piggies" because they are Gigi's favorite.
The kids have decided that they are going to save to buy a lake house (yay for me!) so they are always looking for ways to earn some money. They were selling some
shiny rocks crystals in the front yard and this darling delivery man stopped and purchased some with his freshly earned tip money. Let's get this kid a raise.
I'm not even going to deny that I tried this jacket on in the largest size so that I can be as awesome as these girls are.
For the first time ever, Cindy and I got to hold newborn babies at the same time! Luckily, they aren't ours! ;) We got to bring dinner to a friend that had twin girls and they are the sweetest little things.
Our babies holding babies - aren't they going to be the sweetest babysitters someday?
On Thursday we decided to share some sunshine with everyone that walks and runs up and down the sidewalk. They were so proud of their work so I think we may just need to make this a little weekly tradition.
As we were heading in for the night, a neighbor that we hadn't met was walking by and the girls got so excited. They got to share about their drawings and she asked who Landry had drawn under a bible verse, assuming it was a drawing of the girls.
This girl is kindergarten tired. She falls asleep pretty much every day in the car and sometimes extends that nap into the house. I finally got her to wake up to remind her that it was gymnastics day.
We had a pretty awesome movie night last week and while we were enjoying Ratatouille ...
she was living her best life with some pizza and drinks with some gal pals from school. When her mom texted me this picture I instantly thought of this same group during the next 10 years of celebrations - homecomings, proms, graduation... it's just all too much for me to take.
Unless she always brings home a strawberry tart and then I'll do my best.
We ended an awesome week with some awesome friends at an awesome Aggie tailgate. Texas A&M brought me the most amazing friends and anytime I can get together with them makes for the best day.
And anytime one of them gets to love on my kids makes my heart so dang happy that I can't even take it. Three days of Auntie Sooze needs to happen more than every two years.... Emmy agrees!
And that's us in an instant!
We talked lots about being brave those nights and how the best way for her to be brave is to lean on God and know that He is always here for us. I could tell that she was still nervous so one night Ryan and I went old school and made some friendship bracelets for the kids. We made them from the same colors but in different patterns and the next morning gave them to Landry and let her know that this was her "bravery bracelet"... she could wear it and know that she has two of her biggest fans with her at school and that God has weaved us together as a family to support each other just like we weaved those bracelets. All of us are different, but we are connected through our faith.
She heard, "here's a fun new bracelet... wear it and it will make you brave."
Flash forward to our weekend hunkering down from Harvey. I kept giving updates on friends of mine impacted by Harvey which helped the kids understand just how bad the storm was. I showed her videos and pictures of two of my friends that had to evacuate because of flooding. Emmy decided that they needed to make "bravery bracelets" for them so that they would keep being brave even after the storm.
We set up a little assembly line so they could get to work. They worked for two days and by the end had created 10 bracelets.
Emmy wrote notes to include and then I added a little explanation so they would get the whole message of what a bravery bracelet means.
And guess what - they LOVED them and the girls were so excited to see them wearing the bracelets they made. We sent extra bracelets to Chrissy to give to her friends that rescued her and helped demo her house once the water had receded. Both made a point to say that these came in the mail at the exact right moment.
Watching Harvey unfold was surreal and I felt so helpless watching the devastation that my friends endured. I wish I could have done more, but the Lord shows up mightily in even the smallest of gestures. Praying that my girls always live with such compassion - let us know if you need help feeling brave. They want to keep making them for anyone that needs one!
I can remember the day Emmy started dance - her entire face lit up. She had waited her whole life (which was only 3.5 years) for that day and when Landry was old enough, she wanted to dance just like her sister. But she never had that spark - sure she had fun, liked her teachers and loved those fancy costumes, but I never really saw that fire inside of her.
Half-way through dance she started talking about gymnastics - she asked me 10148 times when she could start gymnastics and 10148 times I had to tell her "next year". Until...
She could not have had a bigger smile on her face or more excitement in her heart.
When I think about my favorite moments as a mom, they all include watching my kids do something they love. Even more than that is watching their siblings get so much joy watching them do something they love! Emmy was just as excited to be up on that balcony looking down at her sister do her thing.
If I ever looked away she'd be quick to say, "Watch, Momma."
So I did... I'll keep watching her find her way offer all my love and attention that I can offer. I'll watch her discover new things that she loves and things that she doesn't. I'll watch her try and succeed and try and fail, too. I'll watch her win and lose and want to quit. I'll remind her that we are her biggest fans. I'll watch her light up when she figures out what makes her heart shine.
I'll relish the moments where she is living her dream, because that will always be mine.
If you didn't notice by now, we like to celebrate around here. Sometimes obnoxiously. Since Radley's birthday fell on a Wednesday we didn't really get to celebrate with friends and family. And since he got a pretty big gift, we definitely were throwing a party. Instead, we kept it small and intimate with our nearest and dearest on a Sunday afternoon.
My momma wore the shirt the day he was born - go ahead and grab some tissues.
He was surrounded by the people that have been celebrating him since day one...
the same people that came to hold him in that hospital...
are the same ones that are holding him now.
And have kept loving, laughing and holding us, too!
My momma made me laugh when I was setting up the fancy HEB cupcakes - "Thank God you got over that need to do crazy stuff like bake cakes in mason jars!"
These $7 gems were just as big of a hit as any of the fancy things we've done over the past 10 years!
And create colorful smiles just as easily!
His gifts clearly had a theme this year...
I did something I'd never usually do and emailed the people that usually purchase him gifts and asked that instead of buying him more legos, books, toys, etc... to consider giving him money so he could buy souvenirs on our trip. (Because the trip does not include merchandise from us!! ;))
Y'all... his people showed up and he could not wipe the smile off his face package, after package, after package...
I also have to give Gigi and extra shout out because this is the first birthday that she hasn't purchased gifts for siblings..AND THEY SURVIVED! (I was more worried about Gigi than the girls.)
We had a great big day celebrating our amazing big boy!
Ten years of loving him has been one of the greatest joys of my life!