Archive for June, 2014

A Magical School Year (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11)

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

It will only happen once: All three of my kids attended the same school this year.
They went to school everyday together.
They walked home from school everyday together.
They saw each other in the halls, at recess, and in the lunchroom.
And I got to enjoy in an undivided way a single school community and a single calendar. It was glorious.


I don’t usually try to do a portrait-style shoot with all three kids, but this special occasion encouraged me to give it a shot.
The kids were completely on board–especially after selecting their own apples at the store.
I kept telling them that when they were in their 20s or 30s they would look back at this year in a special way.


Harrison finished 1st grade.


He is 7 years old.


Carter finished 3rd grade.
(Yes, he still has green paint on his fingernails from a school project he completed over a week ago.)


He is 9 years old.


Emmeline finished 5th grade.



She is 11 years old.



As ready as Emmeline is for middle school and a new campus, this mom isn’t quite ready for the learning curve and the complexity that it represents.
We have really enjoyed our time at Cambridge Elementary.

Emmeline’s 5th Grade Graduation

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Emmeline said, “Goodbye” to elementary school on June 5, 2014.
Thank you, Cambridge, for 5 important years.
You have surrounded my daughter with lots of love and support.


Normally, graduations aren’t the most exciting events. Let’s be honest. This one felt different and more personal. When they announced a child’s name, it was accompanied by a baby picture and current picture of that kid. They also interviewed the kids beforehand–asking what their favorite Cambridge memory was or what they think they will be doing in 15 years. The responses were funny, heartwarming, wacky, ambitious, serious, unique, and relatable. As they walked across the stage, the announcer also shared their response to one of the questions.

Here’s what Emmeline said, “In 15 years. . . I will be most likely still in school. I don’t exactly what I want to be but it will be awesome!”


Yes, I took the obligatory posed photo.



Emmeline, we do not know what the future holds for you. But we do know that the same God who has cared for you even before you were born will continue to write your story with sovereign care. There will be both joy and hardship, but He is faithful. And He is big enough and good enough to pursue you in love even as you transition to middle school.


Emmeline got to announce the slideshow that closed the ceremony…en espanol.
Yes, she was nervous, but she kind of looks at home behind the podium.


There are so many wonderful administrators, school staff, “specials” teachers and classroom teachers that made this day possible. Thank you especially to Sra. Ojeda, Sra. Willis, Sra. Hernandez, Srta. Herrera, Sra. Walker, Sra. Gamez, Srta. Hernandez, and Sra. Martinez, for teaching my daughter for 5 years.

5th Grade Pool Party

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

While the boys were enjoying field day on campus, the fifth graders celebrated the end of the year with a pool party at our neighborhood pool.

I wanted to check in with Emmie and her friends, and I wanted to take a few photos. I wanted to express my thanks and say an unhurried goodbye to her teachers. I didn’t stay long because Emmie wanted some space which I totally get.


Lots of hardworking moms helped plan the party: Brooke, Paola, Manda, Mari, Julia, and Vickie. Thank you!






“Srta. Hernandez, Thank you for being organized and letting us know when things are happening. You really explained fractions well. And I like when we did the Math Jeopardy before the Math STAAR Test because that really helped me and we had a lot of fun. I am going to miss giving you hugs when we start math class.” –Emmeline


“Sra. Martinez, Thank you for being very organized and explaining things and questions really well to me. I really enjoy your class, and we have a lot of fun in it. My favorite thing about you is that you put so much fun and enthusiasm in your class. I am going to miss when you say, “Good morning!” to me in the morning.” –Emmeline

(By the way, Emmeline does a great Sra. Martinez impression and often uses her signature sunglasses as a prop.)

Thank you, Sra. Martinez and Srta. Hernandez, for teaching Emmeline a lot this year and for preparing her well for middle school.
Thank you for enjoying her and for caring for her. Our family appreciates you!

Field Day 2014

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Carter and Harrison celebrated the end of the year with a very wet, fun, and muddy field day.
I don’t know whether my kids have more fun playing during field day or whether I have more fun shooting field day.


This is one of the main reasons why I love my community and my kids’ school: Awesome parents/friends like this!






Carter, you are so cute and I love you like crazy! (I want to smother you.)





Harrison is sweet, but he is a scrappy guy who doesn’t give up.
We all enjoyed seeing his “mean guy face” in this image.








Most of Harrison’s slip-n-slide runs ended like this:


Guess which mom got to hose off all the muddy 1st graders in Harrison’s class?

Harrison in the Tree

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Harrison asked me to take a picture of him climbing a tree.


I was more than happy to try to give him what he wanted.
I didn’t think that I really “got” anything while I was shooting.
It was a fun surprise to find this photo tucked in the small batch of images that I shot.

Carter and the End of 3rd Grade

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Burgin, the amazing room mom for Carter’s grade, mercifully kept the end of the year festivities for 3rd grade Spanish Immersion simple.

The kids played on the playground; enjoyed some ice cream treats outside; and then headed inside for a slideshow.


Carter claims that he has been working on his upper body strength by sling-shotting himself and his friends around the “mushroom” on the playground.
After observing this practice, I now know why his shoulders are sometimes sore and his hands blistered when he comes home.


The kids gave each teacher a scrapbook full of drawings and notes expressing their appreciation. (Thank you, Burgin, for putting together these books!)


These two women have been amazing this year. They have taught and led and cared for a very energetic group of kids (full of lots of boys). One was new to our school community and had the additional challenge of coming into a new place. The other had a baby mid year and juggled being a new mom once again with being a teacher.

Carter acted like he didn’t want to take this picture. Yeah. .. we didn’t really give him a choice! I think he is glad we forced him into it.


Carter’s words to Sra. Vasquez (on right):
“Sra. Vasquez, I have enjoyed doing multiplication now because now I know it better because you have taught me a trick [circling the digits that you are multiplying]. When I have a cut you always have pink or green camo Band-Aids that are really cool. I like that you are funny. I am going to miss how nice you are to me.”

Sra. Vasquez, thank you for enjoying Carter; for knowing him; and for teaching him.

Carter’s words to Sra. Rose (on left):
“Sra. Rose, ¡HOla! Thank you for acting out things when we don’t understand stuff. You explain stuff really well. You don’t tell us the answer; you help us try to understand the word. You are funny. I like your sense of humor. Thank you for teaching me how to be a better student and pay attention more and how to improve my grade. Oh! One of the most important things is cursive. I use that a lot. You are very observant of everyone in your class and that makes me feel safer. You have really prepared us for the STAAR. You really did. When I have a hard day, you always try to comfort me and make me feel like I am at home. You are the best teacher I have had. You really helped me on the Mothers’ Day gift. You have taught me about the world. The thing I am going to miss about you the most is your sense of humor and how you always take care of other people.”

Sra. Rose, you already know what I think about you, but I will say it again here. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher for Carter this year. I think your warmth, humor, intelligence, and tenacity were a perfect match for him. Thank you for loving my kid!

1st Grade Promotion & Picnic

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Harrison and his friends celebrated the end of their first year of Spanish Immersion with a short performance, picnic, and pinata.

They began by singing us some songs in Spanish.


Los pollitos dicen
pio, pio, pio
cuando tienen hambre
cuando tienen frio.

La mama les busca
el maiz y el trigo
Les da su comida
y les presta abrigo.

Bajo sus dos alas
duerman los pollitos
hasta el otro dia.


A tu ti ta, a tu ti ta,
A tu ti ta ta.
A tu ti ta, a tu ti ta,
A tu ti ta ta.

Pulgares arriba. . .
Codos atras. . .
Pies aparte. . .
Rodillas juntas. . .
Caderas arriba. . .
Lengua afuera. . .
Ojos cerrados. . .
Dese una vuelta. . .


¡Hola, Amigo!
¿Como esta usted?
Estoy muy feliz de verlo a usted.
Salude a su vecino.
Boogie para abajo.
Dese un tope,
y de la vuelta.


Harrison, if you are able to make a girl this happy every time you dance with her, you are doing something right!
I hope to see your wife even happier than this on your wedding day one day.



“Sra. Willis, thank you for being a good teacher. You help me by saying the words and then you write the words down. You take care of me and my friends when you blow the whistle after recess. You get the papers for us. When we have a cut, you will put a Band-Aid on it. I am going to miss when you put Band-Aids on us.” –Harrison

Sra. Willis has assisted all of my kids’ first grade teachers. She is only teacher that all of my kids have had. She starts each day by acting as crossing guard–in the heat, rain, and cold. She is gentle and kind.


“Sra. Salazar, thank you for being a good teacher. You are a good friend. You really taught me a lot about Spanish. I am going to miss you being my teacher. You have helped me to be a good reader.” –Harrison

Sra. Salazar has really gotten to know Harrison as a person and learner.
She celebrates those things that come easily to Harrison.
She supports Harrison in those places that don’t come as easily.
And she simply enjoys him.
He thinks the world of her.


After picnic, the kids broke open a pinata.



And because a whole bag of candy isn’t sweet enough, we added some cupcakes to the mix.


I know that Harrison’s five years at Cambridge will race by.
I am already envisioning these boys as fifth graders.
I want to enjoy each moment.


Thank you so very much, Sra. Salazar and Sra. Willis, for teaching my son and caring for him this school year.

Fathers’ Day 2014

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

This is a scene that unfolded at the annual company softball game.

Carter was running to third base. Greg was playing third base.
Note Carter’s eyes. They say, “Game on, Dad!”


See Greg’s expression? He is already trash talking Carter.


This is the point when Carter decided that if he couldn’t run to the 3rd base, he would attempt to jump over Greg instead.


Carter lost the battle. Greg tagged him out and broke his fall.




This last photo really captures who Greg is as a person. Even when Greg “wins”, he isn’t mean-spirited.
He is always thinking about how his decisions and actions affect others.
He makes our life so much more fun. And I still love his great smile.
He is a good boss, a great husband, and a great dad.
Happy Fathers’ Day to one of the very best! We are so thankful for you, Greg!

Brave (The 5th Grade Talent Show)

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

This is the story.


But let me back up one year and start the story at the beginning.
This is the story of. . .
…the grandfather who gave his granddaughter her first guitar last summer.



…the girl who picked it up right away and felt like she was “home”.


This is the story of the music teacher who drew out talent.


…and the same girl who listened and worked hard.

This is the story of. . .
…the girl who nervously waited and tried out for the 5th Grade Talent Show.


…and the friends and teachers who supported that girl.



This is the story of…
…the girl who was super nervous that morning in May.
…that girl starting to play before she had her headset mic.
…the sound system that malfunctioned.
…her palpable nerves and the audience’s support breaking through the darkness.

This is the story of…
…the girl who started over and sang “Brave” with honesty and ease.


Listen by clicking HERE.

This is the story of the mom who had one of her favorite moments ever as a parent that day.

(***Please see Emmeline’s very important note below)


And if you want to listen to the rocky start of her first performance and feel the audience’s support, listen HERE.

I don’t know if I could get out on a stage alone, isolated in the spotlight and share music the way you did.
I don’t know if I could have kept my composure and sung out.
I don’t know if I could do this at age 36–let alone 11.
Thank you for sharing yourself and your gift of music with us. I will treasure this day.

I remember our community’s support for you with gratitude—
the kids who sang along and waved their arms back and forth;
the parents who encouraged you when the sound system messed up;
the moms who cried happy tears as if you were their own daughter;
the friend who took off work that day to support you;
the musicians in our community who have supported you in big and small ways; and
the people who had the pleasure of getting to know you a bit better.

God gave you what you needed for that moment.
Your love for us and your love for music pushed back your fears.
People got a glimpse of who you really are and that made your Mom very joyful.
So many people found happiness in the gift of music that you gave us on that stage.

II Timothy 1.7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control

***Emmeline’s very important note:
“I hope you enjoyed this video. I was nervous about my mom posting it. I don’t want to brag.”