Five Years Old

Dear Tate,

Tate 5th Birthday

Yesterday you turned five-years-old. Five. A whole hand! It seems impossible to me, but I guess that’s always what it will feel like. You’re my youngest, my baby, and no matter how big you get, I always seem surprised that you’re not a snuggling little nugget wrapped up in my arms. I pick you up to carry you to bed, and your legs hang down to my knees. The other day you solved a math problem. You can write your own name. You’re growing up.

Tate Birthday

You’re a curious little bugger, and it’s difficult to ensure some of my favorite childhood magic lives on for you. You question everything, whereas your sister would believe pretty much anything I told her at this age. We’re getting close to Christmas, and you seem unsure about pretty much everything. “How does Santa get down the chimney?” “Why is he watching me all the time?” “Does he watch me in the bath?” “That’s not the real Santa, he doesn’t have glasses!”

Tate Birthday

A few weeks ago we bought the new, illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the bookstore, and you begged me to begin reading it to you. I was worried you were way to young to understand the complexities of Harry Potter, but we began reading anyway. Night after night you’d snuggle up next to me while I read aloud the adventures of Harry, Ron, Hermione. You laughed when Harry stuck his wand up a troll’s nose and squealed when Lord Voldemort revealed himself. But you don’t blindly believe. We had to instill a rule that you could only ask questions if you raised your hand, because it was taking us an hour to get through a chapter with your constant interruptions. You looked like Hermione herself, waving your arm in the air, waiting for me to call on you so you could question “How does an invisible cloak make you invisible?”

Sunflower Fields Kansas City Photographer

You’re loud and feisty and smart and creative. You got a drum set for your birthday, and once a day you tell me you’re headed down for your drum lesson. Within minutes I hear the banging and clashing of your music. I feel like your brain is probably constantly on “drum set mode.” You live loud and hard and with so much energy.

Sunday Morning Project |001

But you are also my snuggle bug, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with you being my baby. When I asked what you wanted to do for your birthday, snuggling was at the top of your list. You love to bury yourself in my arms, my hair, my face, and I won’t lie, it’s pretty awesome. This is a weird mom thing, Tater, but there is just something incredible about breathing in the smell of your kid’s hair. I know as you get older, the smell won’t be so good, but for now, I still find myself snuggling up to you and breathing deep, just trying to take you all in. As if that is possible. There is way too much of you to take in all at once.

Tate Birthday

Thanks for another fun year, my sweet boy. This year you’ll start Kindergarten and the next phase of your life will begin. Yesterday you said to me, “I’m five, I can go to Lucy’s school now!” And when I assured you it would come, but not quite yet, you were extremely disappointed. You’re in a hurry to grow up, to be one of the big kids, to lead….and watching you is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. Thanks for being my pumpkin nose, Tate. I love you.

Tate Birthday

Love,
Mama

Sunflower Fields Kansas City Photographer

Sunflower Fields Forever

There is a little spot in the Kansas City area that is completely breathtaking for a few weeks in the late summer and early fall. This amazing sunflower field west of the city blooms every year for about two weeks, and provides gorgeous views that evoke everything I love about living in Kansas. It’s picture perfect, and I knew we had to see it for ourselves!

Sunflower Fields Kansas City Photographer

Now, I’m not gonna lie…the kids were a little underwhelmed with the whole idea of driving out to a field in the middle of nowhere. At this point, they are used to my crazy antics, so they don’t ask too many questions, but after a long day of school and activities, they were more excited to get home to their toys and games than to frolic around in a sunflower field. But as soon as we pulled up, their jaws dropped and their eyes brightened.

Sunflower Fields Kansas City Photographer

They ran through the sunflowers together, playing hide and seek with a few other kids who they found deep within the field. I found myself yelling for them to stay close…the sunflowers were almost taller than me, and I kept losing them within the green stalks. Tate would pop out from behind me, yelling “I’m right here mama, ‘es okay!” I heard Lulu giggle as she attempted to hide, shaking the flowers above her head, giving away her precious secret spot.

Sunflower Fields Kansas City Photographer

As I snapped away at the endless rows of yellow, Tate asked to borrow my phone so he could take some photos of his own. When I was finished, Lucy climbed up on the step ladder I had brought along, and framed her scene. It was so amazing watching them mimic my mannerisms, leaning down, looking for different angles, biting their lips as they shot image after image. Sometimes I forget they are watching when I’m working…I don’t remember that the things I do will be burned in their memories forever. They may not remember exact details, but they will bite their lip as they shoot an image, and that comes from me. They may grimace when I ask them if I can shoot some photos of them, but they smile and squeal with glee when I let them shoot images of me. They can tell I love what I do, and it’s such a privilege for me to get to show them what passion, drive and hard work looks like.

Sunflower Fields Kansas City Photographer

This amazing location will only be in bloom for a few weeks, so if you are interested in booking your photo session with this incredible background, please contact me ASAP at megan@crazybananas.com!

Summer!

Lucy Pool May272015

So far, our summer has been pretty wonderful! This week I’ve taken a bit of time off (which as a freelancer means “I’m working from dusk until the kids wake up and then again when they are in bed until midnight!”) to enjoy the first few days of their school break with Lulu and Tate. I am thrilled that next week a new babysitter will be joining our little crew to help us get through the rest of summer with minimal work/life breakdowns. But until then, I power the computer down around 8:30 a.m. and we spend the day reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends and, of course, swimming. Now, the weather in Kansas City isn’t exactly pool weather yet, but my little fishes could care less! We are lucky to belong to a gym with a heated outdoor swimming pool, so we’ve been there every day this week. Tate is so much more independent this year, going down the slides like a big kid and refusing to wear floaties or play in the shallow end. He’s already serving as a bit of a mascot for the lifeguard crew, who know him by name and graciously chat with him as he asks them a million questions daily. From the moment we arrive at the pool, Lulu disappears and I usually don’t see her again until she starts to get hungry. Today Lulu said, “Mom, I love summer. I could swim every day forever.” I hear ya, sister. Me too.

Tate Swimming Memorial Day

On Messing Up and Finding Joy

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Yesterday I messed up.

Every other Tuesday, Tate and I pack ourselves up after we take Lucy to school and we head to what Tate calls “playgroup.” Actually, it’s a moms group that I joined this year, which meets twice monthly to learn from each other and from experts on this strange phenomenon called parenting. We’ve had speakers ranging from brain scientists to school superintendents, and I truly value these meetings, not only for the learning that occurs, but the fellowship. There is something awesome about getting a bunch of moms together in one room and admitting we are all just trying to figure this thing out. While I’m in class, Tate goes to a fun playroom for an hour or two, and he loves it. “Playgroup” days are some of his favorite days.

Anyway, with the holidays and whatnot, our schedule is a bit off and we haven’t had “playgroup” in over a month. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that this Tuesday was our first meeting of 2015, so after Lulu was at school, I got us all packed and pumped up for a fun morning at “playgroup.”

I signed Tate in using the computer at the childcare entrance, and that’s when I noticed things were off. We saw his teacher from school, who was meeting with her group that day, and we both remarked how funny it was that we had never seen each other there before (ahem, because she goes to a different group on a different day…). When I checked Tate in, the childcare people couldn’t find him on the roster, but I assumed it was because he had a birthday and would now be in a different room. The leader kindly said, “Are you sure you have the right day? Sometimes the schedules get mixed up after the holidays.” Of course I had the right day! Right? Hmmm.

After I dropped Tate off I started to question myself. And sure enough, when I checked my calendar, I had the wrong day. I was off by a week. So I had to embarrassingly go back to childcare and admit my mistake, then make my super-confused 4-year-old leave the “playgroup” where he was having a blast. “Mama! Why? We just got here! I want to go to playgroup!!!” He cried and pleaded, and the teachers kindly told me this happens all the time, but I was beating myself up. How could I not check my calendar? God, I’m an idiot! What must Tate’s teacher think? This is the same one that had to deal with him when I “forgot” about the Halloween party and he was the only kid not in a costume, crying about missing out on the fun. She must think I’m such a dope.

We left and were headed home, when I saw the beautiful, colored glass of the new natural history museum on the side of the road. I pulled a u-turn and headed into the empty parking lot. We’d been meaning to visit, but since it’s a new facility, it’s been pretty crowded, and I had been warned it wasn’t worth the wait in line. But on this day, a random, cold Tuesday morning in January, the parking lot was empty. I asked Tate if he wanted to go in and he wiped his tears. For $15, we had the entire museum to ourselves. I watched my son learn and grow, delighted with the exhibits and the discovery center. The sweet ladies working there catered to his every need, letting him hold animals and helping him create constellations in the astronomy room. It was an unforgettable morning.

When I first started staying at home more with my kids, I made time for these kinds of experiences. I still do, but lately I’ve found myself a slave to my overscheduling. Starting my new business venture means many times when I’m home with the kids, I’d rather let them watch some cartoons while I get some work done. I have errands to run and calls to make, and sometimes my kids end up an afterthought. I haven’t been practicing my greatest role, being a teacher and a mother to them. That’s the whole reason for all of this madness in the first place. Sure, I want to have a fulfilling career, but I also want to be able to spend more time with my kids.

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Had I checked my calendar that morning, and realized we had nothing planned, I’m sorry to say Tate probably would’ve ended up watching the iPad and then going to the grocery store or on another errand with me. The day would’ve quickly gone by without much time for fun. But instead, I made a mistake, and we ended up spending the morning as paleontologists, astronomers and biologists. Mistakes breed wonder, especially when we’re not expecting it. So instead of beating myself up, I’m forgiving myself for my mistake and finding joy in the journey we end up taking when we don’t realize where we are going.

{All images taken with the iPhone 6 and edited in the Afterlight app}

Four Years Old

Blowing out four candles like a boss! A great way to end the big 4th birthday! #birthday #tate #candles #love #four

Dear Tater Tot,

This weekend you turned four years old. When you woke up and I announced you were no longer three, you immediately burst into tears and informed me you WERE three and you didn’t want to be FOUR. I’m happy to report by the end of the day, four was totally cool and awesome, and you’d left three in the dust, with barely a passing wave. You’re like me in that way, buddy. Change scares the poo out of your mama, I don’t like it and I rail against it until I’m overtaken. Then I usually throw myself into it full force, no holds barred. When you realized four was truly happening, you seemed to say, “Welp, I guess that’s that! Let’s do this thing!”

Irreverent hipster hats on 3-year-old's are my jam. Tate's jam is IKEA ice cream, obviously. #dude #gapkids #ootd #kidstyle

Tate is pro-pools in the fall/winter and anti-naps ????

In the last year, you’ve begun to grow into a spunky, little boy who keeps everyone on their toes. But somewhere between three and three and a half, your humor really began to shine. I’m not gonna lie, buddy, before that, I was a little worried I was going to be exhausted forever. You hadn’t been sleeping well, you were crabby on a near constant basis and you were ornery as all get out. I found my days with you feeling more and more like battles, and neither of us was winning. But one day it was like you flipped the switch, and since then we’ve both been much happier. It was a good reminder for me, that nothing lasts forever. When I start to get frustrated with your strong will, I remind myself of this. All I need to do is a wait awhile, and issues that I assumed would be never-ending….wait for it….end.

Sunday reads continued (bedtime edition)... ?????????? #reading #winter #fire #warm #love

You laugh is loud and long. You don’t do anything small, Tater, everything is BIG BIG BIG! This was the year you started some of your own activities, which thrilled you. The past few years you life and schedule has been dictated by your big sister’s life. You’ve tagged along to her sports and classes for years, but now it’s your turn. You started preschool in the fall, and you are thriving. You love coming home and telling us about your friends and adventures, and your face lights up when you see your own artwork hanging on the fridge. You’ve also started playing a few recreational sports, like soccer and gymnastics, which is fun for you and us, because watching you compete is hilarious. Nothing is better than hearing you shout “I GOALED!” when you score at soccer and then watching you do a little celebration dance.

First game, first goal, first celebration! Tate has entered the soccer world ???? #soccer #firstgame #celebrate #goal

Trying to soak up the last bit of fall before we get smacked with old man winter next week! #bike #fal #fun

I’m so proud of the little man you are, Tate, and I’m so grateful to be your mama. Thank you for all the big hugs, cuddles, and love this past year. Thanks for always forgiving me when I mess up, and telling me I’m a good mama anyway. You’re the best son a mother could hope for. I love you, pumpkin nose.

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Love,
Mama

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