Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BIG weekend!

School just finished and the boys first weekend of summer break was a big one!
First, the big boys and daddy went on a father/son camping trip with the church, and then, it was Memorial Day and a sleepover at grandma's!

The boys have never been camping before.  The father/son camping trips with our ward have been rained out the last few years, and since I don't like to pretend I'm homeless we have never done a family camping trip.  The first weekend of the father/son camping trip was rained out, so they rescheduled for last weekend.  The big boys were stoked!  Especially Jackson!  It was hard on him when it was rained out a couple weeks ago. 
But it was finally time for the BIG DAY!
The car was loaded up, but they had to make a quick stop for a few items.  THEN, it was time to head out to the bishop's house the camp ground.
They made it! Jim got the tent set up.
Now, it was time to party in the wild outdoors!
First, a little football-

And a hayride!
And some time by the fire, eating smores and doing man stuff.

They were night owls!
The only other time they stayed up passed midnight was last New Years Eve!
And since they stayed up so late, they slept in.  Something else that NEVER happens...

But the lazy bugs finally woke up!

Just in time for some morning football.
They had a blast!  And I'm glad they got some man time with dad.
Back at home, I had some mommy and me time with Harrison.
We got to eat out.  YUM!
And snuggle in the blankets while we watched Daniel Tiger.  Doesn't get much better than that!
Harrison had the best time throwing a tantrum (or two or ten).
This tantrum was brought to you by the blanket touching his rocking horse...

But the next morning we got to go to the store without the brah-brahs!
He was excited!
It was a fun night for everyone.
When the boys got home on Saturday, Harrison had to go to urgent care because he had another ear infection.  Thanks for the help, tubes...  Austin allergies went haywire after the campout because daddy may or may not have forgotten to give him allergy medicine before they left.  It took 3 days for his allergies to calm down.  And Jackson had a fever, for not apparent reason at all.  When my boys party, they party!
By Monday everyone was feeling better (except Austin) so we headed out to the Lubbock War Memorial for Memorial Day.  We explained to the boys what Memorial Day was and what each brick meant at the memorial. 
 Of all the boys, Jackson was really taken by all the bricks and all the names of former (and current) service men and women.

Reading and thinking about the names we found.

Jackson reading one of the walls that honor the men and women.
How many Nuffer men can you spot in this picture??
(hint: they're all there)
Where's Harrison??
It was a beautiful day and I think the boys took in more than I expected.
I'm so grateful for all the family and friends and strangers that have fought (and died) for my freedoms.  What a beautiful country we have been blessed with!


Friday, May 27, 2016

Last day of school!

It's very appropriate that Timehop gave me the picture on the left today as it is the last day of school because I just took the picture on the right just a couple days ago...

The left is Jackson walking with Austin on his last day of kindergarten, and on the right is Austin walking with Harrison on one of his last days of preschool.  It's such an ordinary, simple picture:  my boys walking down the hall at school holding hands.  But these are the moments I won't forget.  These are the moments embedded in my heart that I will remember the rest of my life.  They'll be grown men, but my memory will recall these simple images of my tiny babies walking together, holding hands in the hall.  The big one dragging the little one along.
Be still my heart.
Today, was Jackson's last day of second grade!  It's kind of an elementary milestone as he will move over to the "big kid" side of his elementary next year.  The front of their school is grades K-2 and the back part of their school is grades 3-5.  He's in senior elementary next year! 
...if there were such a thing.
I helped scoop shaved ice for all the littles, so I didn't get many pictures of Jackson's party.
This was a stellar year for Jackson!  He had some behavioral issues, he discovered the attention the class clown receives, both the negative and positive attention, but academically he was a star as always.  I've mentioned that he blew away the other 2nd graders in the UIL math competition.  He was also awarded the LISD Scholar award for excellent achievement in math exam scores during the entire course of the year.  He was on the honor role all year long and he was awarded math and reading excellence for the year.  He's definitely a little smarty pants and I am so so proud of him.  I get teary every time I think about who he is becoming.
Austin- this boy surprised me so much this year!  We very very (very) reluctantly put him into an all day preschool this year.  I couldn't even talk about putting him into a full day preschool class without crying.  I remember having breakfast with some dear friends months before school was supposed to start for Austin, and I cried just explaining my struggles with Austin and school.  I thought I would be working more hours than I actually did work, so we thought full day preschool was our only option, but it turned out AMAZINGLY!
I was talking to Austin's teacher, Mrs. Martinez, earlier today about the anxiety I had putting Austin into her preschool class and she just looked at me with understanding eyes and said, "And look what he's become.  He inspires me.  Truly.  I think, if I had been as smart as he is at this young age...".
Austin graduated preschool today.  I've talked before about how silly I think these elementary graduations are (though I cry at each one), but he's so proud of himself.  And so am I!  Austin is such a good reader!  He LOVES books!  He LOVES reading!  I tried all summer before his preschool year to teach him to read and he wasn't grasping it (because I wasn't teaching him the way he learns, I was teaching him the way Jackson and I learn), but Mrs. Martinez had him reading within the first 6 weeks of school.  She said she rarely sees a 4 year old learn to read so quickly in the school year.  The boy reads the King James version of the bible every night!  He is amazing!
Austin was a star student academically and behaviorally.  He received awards for reading to other classrooms, for being a stellar reader, and for being a math wiz (which I hadn't heard he excelled in until I saw the award).
And then there's this little guy...
He wants to be just like his big brothers.  He does EVERYTHING they do.  Everything.  He's so independent and lacks any kind of fear.  A quality I admire, and fear as his mother.  Today, I lost him for a couple minutes.  It was terrifying!  I was leading Austin out of the room and looking around for Harrison and he was nowhere to be found.  Nowhere.  I asked Austin's teachers and the other parents if they'd seen him, and then I realized he had probably walked out of the classroom door.  Mrs. Lee told me to check the fish tank because Harrison has to see the fishies every morning after we drop off Austin, but he wasn't there.  I was starting to panic.  The halls were filled with people- big and small.  I ran up one way and down the other, and then I saw Jackson's 1st grade teacher who was desperately looking for me while watching Harrison (and her own class).  She saw Harrison at the front doors of the school just standing there while people rushed in and out of the doors.  Then I saw my sweet baby, who looked at me with his innocent big blue eyes, as he said, "Bye bye, mama?  Bye bye?".  I scooped that baby up so fast and smothered him with kisses while thanking Heavenly Father in my heart for helping me find my baby.  I then realized all the moms who were watching Harrison for me, and patting my back as we walked passed them, letting me know that it was ok to breathe again.  How grateful I am to the moms that guarded my baby today when I lost him for a few minutes.  They are absolute angels!  Literal guardian angels for Harrison and for me today.

Their Teachers

Ever since Jackson's first nightmare of a teacher in kindergarten, I pray (and worry) about the teachers my boys will get in public school.  Thankfully, they're at a wonderful school now, and I don't fear getting another bad teacher as much anymore.  The boys' teachers this year were GREAT!  They all welcomed my constant inquiries and concerns about the boys.  My concerns were their concerns, and they always made sure that I knew I could come to them at any time.  The boys have excellent auxiliary teachers as well.  I know their music teacher from college, so I know they're in good hands with her, and Jackson's UIL teacher was so wonderful!  She was almost more proud of and excited for Jackson than I was about his UIL accomplishments.  She's a kindergarten teacher so I dropped several hints and I'm hoping Austin will be in her class next year.  ;)
This school year was a HUGE success for my boys!
I'm so grateful for their elementary and for the teachers that love my children.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Last catch-up. Hopefully...

The last few months have been really hectic at the Nuffer Nest.  It seems like every day I had 26 hours of stuff to do in a 24 hour period, thus I was constantly getting behind.  BUT school is over now, and I actually have a little bit of free time.  I'm hoping my bits of free time will allow me to keep up on the blog, but I'm aware it's a bit of a lofty goal.  So lets move on with this catch-up-

Austin can read!

Austin is a pretty decent little reader!  He even reads scriptures with us in the evenings with very little help from us.  The school that the big boys attend has a really great program that encourages little readers to read to big readers, so pre-schooler Austin was able to read to Jackson's 2nd grade class!  He did GREAT!  Of course, I cried and the 2nd graders and Austin's teacher were quick to call me out on my tears. 

Austin reading Mo Willems' The Pigeon Takes a Bath

He was so proud of himself!  You can tell in the pictures just how proud he was of himself.
I was a little worried that the 2nd graders would be rude or disrespectful, but they were wonderful!  They even laughed at all the funny moments in the book.  That was probably Austin's favorite part.  He loves to be the class clown.  Jackson's teacher even talked about how hard Austin works at school and encouraged her 2nd graders to be just as hardworking.  I'm such a proud mommy!
Afterward, we took Austin out to celebrate the great job he did reading to big kids with ICE CREAM!
This kid is so cool.
Austin turns 5!
Austin really wanted a Minion party for his 5th birthday, so we minioned up the house!
The door turned into a giant minion-
The front entry-
And some other decorations and the cake-
I had a bakery frost it the way I wanted because I hate working with black icing, and I decorated the rest.  Turned out pretty good.
The birthday boy!  He's my little lovey boy, snuggle bug, and I almost don't recognize my baby anymore.  He's so big!
Maggie and the boys.
Hard to believe she's Jackson's age, so little.
Then it was time to party at Mr. Ghattis!
Eating lunch-
Then it was time to play!
I didn't get any pictures of the birthday boy playing.  What's wrong with me???

Austin is my only child that gets to celebrate his birthday at school because Jackson's birthday falls the week before school starts and Harrison's birthday is in July, so I was excited to make little favors for Austin's friends at school.
Easter 2016
And then it was Easter.  Easter kind of snuck up on me this year, so I didn't do all the little things with the boys that I wanted to, but I was able to make these cute little pompom bunnies with my mom for the boys.  They turned out adorable!

We even found these cute little baskets that were the perfect size.
I was sure my nurturing Austin would love his bunny, and Harrison loves to put things into other things and then take them out over and over and over again, so I was sure he would love his bunny too, but neither boy cared about his bunny.  Jackson, the one child I thought wouldn't care at all about his bunny loves his bunny the most.  He even sleeps with his bunny.
Just goes to show that you never know with kids...
We colored eggs...
And we had a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt.
This is always my favorite egg hunt.
We did a regular egg hunt outside on Easter morning, but I forgot to get pictures.

Then it was time for the Easter bunny to show!
Uncle Brian's Composition Concert

My little brother is so talented!  I don't have a musical bone in my body, but my little brother is super musical.  He had concert last year that featured him playing his tuba and it was fun and impressive, but he just had his composition concert.  This was the concert I was looking forward to.  I'm blown away with what he can do musically.  I can't play a tambourine or a triangle, let alone a real instrument, but the fact that he composed music is amazing to me.  It's phenomenal!  And it was really good music!
I wasn't the only one that was impressed.  Jackson was super impressed.  I don't even think I've told Brian about this yet...  We had a conversation about college a few days later because Jackson asked me if he could go to the same college as Uncle Brian.  He wants to have a concert just like Uncle Brian.  Jackson has always wanted to be a teacher, but his music teacher thinks he's musically inclined, so I've mentioned to him that violin or piano lessons would be a good idea.  He's basically ignored me until Uncle Brian's concert.  Since the concert, Jackson is certain he is going to West Texas A & M University, and that he's going to put on a concert just like Uncle Brian!
His sign reads:  My college is going to be at West Texas A and M.  It is in Canyon
See, Uncle Brian, he doesn't just love Whitney.  He pretty much adores you too.
They do adore Whitney, though.  A lot.
You're amazing, Uncle Brian!
MY graduation.  Finally... 

I've been working on TWO masters degrees since Jackson was born.  I almost completed a masters in Education, except for student teaching.  It's a long story, but I don't want to teach public school.  Ever.  So I won't be finishing that degree.  I DID finish the Masters of English degree.  Finally.  It was hard, guys.  Hard.  No semester was as difficult as my last semester.  I wanted to throw in the towel a few times, but I kept going because I kept telling my GED students that they couldn't give up- so how could I??  I made myself physically sick with worry and anxiety over my comps test.  Then, when I turned in my last paper and final I cried.  Uncontrollably. 
I don't know why I cried.  I was happy.  I was ecstatic.  But all I could do was cry.  A very ugly cry.
Anyway, I'm done and I'm so proud of myself!
I didn't care about my high school diploma because I knew I wasn't done.
I didn't want to even walk for my undergrad degree because I knew I wasn't done (but I did because my mom graduated the same day with her undergrad and she asked me to walk with her).
But I wanted to walk for my masters.  I'm so glad I did because it felt complete.
I keep getting asked if I'm going for a PhD.
My answer is:  HELL NO!
I am done.
Here I am on my way to take my comp test.
I was so sick to my stomach, but I smiled through it.  I knew I was almost done!

 And here I am on my way to graduation (luncheon) with Jim.
This was a genuine smile.
Then, just like that, it was all over.  I was soooo glad that ceremony was over.
 It was all over.
My grandpa and me (and a tiny photobomber)-
I wish my grandma was there, but I know she was there with me in spirit.  She was always proud of me.  I miss her so much, but especially on special days.

My mama and me-
Brian and Whitney
And with my family.
I love these fellas!  I say we all sacrificed because Jim was a single dad maaaaaany nights.  Harrison would call for me every night that I was studying.  I heard his little voice and it broke my heart that I couldn't run to him.  Austin would come give me hugs every night, several times a night and tell me how much he missed me.  And Jackson, well, I know he missed me too, but he's not very sappy (like his mama).
Look how big the big boys are- breaks my heart a little and gives me so much joy at the same time because they're such good boys.
Did I mention, I'M DONE!
Teacher gifts!
Usually I do a whole week of little gifts for teacher appreciation week, but this year was CRAZY!  I did manage to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day with these little antique bookmarks/paperclips.  They're pretty cute, I even kept a few for myself.  ;)

Then, Jackson informed me last Friday that today (Sunday) is his teacher's birthday.  He also informed me that he wanted to make her something, and not just a lame card.  -his words, not mine.
So, I gave him my Pinterest board labeled "gifts" and let him pick something out.
He picked out a cute little jar filled with chocolates covered in compliments.  I told him it would be a lot of work and that he would do all the work himself since it was his idea, and he assured me he was up for the challenge.  And he did it!  No complaints.  He kept writing compliments even after the jar was filled.  I had to stuff everything in.  Sorry, if things are a bit smooshed, Ms. Blake...
Mrs. Lee, one of Austin's teachers, finalized an adoption last Friday, so I thought a nice gift for her would be fun too, so Austin made something very similar to this for his teacher (I didn't get a picture of his gift)-
We are so grateful for the teachers the boys have this year.  They're wonderful!  I wish we could do more for them, but I'm so glad that my boys have such thoughtful and grateful hearts for their teachers.