To My Preschool Girl

To my Vaughnie on the night before Preschool,

Oh Vaughn, tomorrow you start the next chapter in your childhood, PRESCHOOL. You are so ready, you have been asking what your teacher’s name is since Ellery started school a few weeks ago. Your teacher’s name is Ms. Heather, but you pronounce it Ms. HeFFer which cracks us all up. You are excited about your backpack, puppy dog lunchbox and new shoes. You did very well at Meet the Teacher night and they found you very sweet.

I hadn’t had time to think about you starting preschool until tonight. Up until today I just looked at it as something that had to happen NOW. I unexpectedly needed to start a new job outside the home and therefore preschool was happening at the perfect time possible. Tonight while we snuggled in bed pretending like it was a boat and a car and snuggling your babies it hit me that tomorrow is the beginning of your life outside of me. You will suddenly have this whole world that I’m not part of. New friends, new experiences, new adults you will trust and love. It’s a GOOD THING, but it’s also the end of a chapter for us.

I am genuinely excited for you! I think you will enjoy making new friends and I can’t wait to see how much you learn and grow this year. I pray you always know how much I love you and that you feel safe and happy in your new environment!

Love you FOREVER

Mama

PreK Vaughn

Summer 2017 Week 6

Quite possibly MY favorite week of summer so far! Monday we had a friend over for a playdate and we just laid low the rest of the day, except Kindergarten camp of course (we don’t miss those). I was spent after the weekend and decided we just needed to do nothing. Tuesday was a very long day, but all super fun. The parade in the morning, brunch at my brother’s and then a pool party/birthday party in the evening. No fireworks for us this year, I’m thinking maybe next year I’ll sneak away with Ellery and let her enjoy the fireworks, but this year I decided normal bedtime was the way to go!

Wednesday we did family night. Dinner at home and then playing at the park. The girls are finally at the point where they can both pretty comfortable play on the bigger playground. We had the park to ourselves and the girls constantly slid down the slide together. Thursday I let the girls watch TV basically the ENTIRE day so I could get the house picked up and sort of clean before Steph and Cora arrived. The girls anxiously awaited their arrival and stood at the window beginning over an hour prior to them actually getting here. Then we let them stay up really late and play dress up.

Friday we got to go to a pool party with some of my mom’s group ladies. It is a very cool natural looking pool with a water fall, the girls had a blast, and Stephanie was a total champ swimming with all three girls! After we swam we took them to our favorite burger place (P.Terry’s) to play in the sand, which upon arrival we discovered it was SCALDING hot and they were unable to play in the sand. Mom fail on that one….

Saturday we RAN THEM RAGGED!! Started our day playing at the Thinkery. It was a CRAZY busy morning with the most people I have ever seen there. Then we ran home and put Vaughn down for nap and hopped on the boat. Then the girls were DONE. Steph put Cora down for bed and then we headed out for dinner at one of my favorite scenic places. Then of course we ended up at Target wandering the aisles until they closed.

Sunday we went to church and then decided to just ALL take naps to reset ourselves. Stephanie and I were up until 1:30 every night she was here. After naps we went swimming for a little bit and then to the Sundancer Grill for our last dinner of vacation.

Already counting down the weeks until we see each other again!

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Summer 2017 Week 5

The week started out with us RUNNING and we hit a point on Wednesday where we cancelled everything and stayed home. Ellery wants to be in a school type camp every week of the summer. I found one to send her to for this week, but it put me in the car for two hours a morning. I had a carpool situation worked out, but then on Tuesday she came home telling me she had several stomach aches during the morning and I decided on Wednesday we were going to lay low, we ended up never going back and we are now beginning the process of navigating tummy probs…… they are very similar to what I had when I was a kid so potentially goodbye dairy, fried foods, anything processed and eating out (or at least those were my main triggers).

On Monday Vaughn worked out with me in the morning, (as you can see she has some big muscles in the picture below). Ellery went to a Space themed VBS and then that afternoon attended Kindergarten camp at the library (she still loves this so much). After nap we headed to our friend’s house for a playdate where they had a great time playing with playdoh and I enjoyed having adult conversation!

Tuesday for family night I made dinner at home and then we played Dominos with the girls. The girls played playdoh while I made dinner and I laugh at how I swore I was going to keep all the colors separated and teach my girls to do so, then I actually had children and realized I don’t care about them staying separated at all.

Wednesday we just cancelled all plans and stayed home. The girls watched TV most of the morning and then had a playdoh playdate over Facetime with Cora. Technology is the best, they played for over an hour with a friend who is 1,000 miles away! That afternoon we lounged at the pool for a bit. We were thrilled to get to the pool after several days of storms in the forecast.

Thursday I took Ellery to see Bonzo Crunch the clown at the library. She belly laughed so much of the show and he was decently impressive. He juggled pizzas (fake), hooked and unhooked hangers, read a book about Olivia at the circus and was super silly. I love my Thursday afternoons when I just get to hang with Ellery.

The weekend was packed full. We went to dinner with Mimi on Friday. Saturday morning I took the girls to the library for a patriotic story time, then Andrew took them swimming while I helped my mom get a little more settled into her house and in the afternoon, my DAD ARRIVED. Saturday and Sunday night we had cookouts at my brother’s house. My mom offered to watch the girls Sunday afternoon so I could go boating and it was a much needed break on the lake! It is SO NICE to have my parents living right down the street. I love that we can just pop over for an hour, they have already helped out with the girls a bunch for random little things and knowing that my kids will grow up around them always is such a beautiful thing.

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Summer 2017 Week 4

This week we had another VBS, this time it was at our church and I was a crew leader so I could spend the week with Ellery. It was rather exhausting, but I’m glad I got to experience Bible school with her this one time. I doubt my schedule will allow for it again, so I tried to soak it up this year. The theme was Maker Fun Factory and Ellery loved it! Her little friend Kaydence was in our group and they had a great time together.

For Superhero day I told Ellery we didn’t have anything that would work, she proved me wrong and figured out an outfit. I just adore her creativity! Tuesday nights are our family night, it also happens to be Hat Creek Burgers half price night. We grabbed burgers, went to pajama story time and then the girls danced until we were all in stitches, they have some hilarious dance moves.

Wednesday night was the family night at VBS, they served dinner and Kona Ice, had a bounce house and water inflatables, we had a lovely evening and it was a great way to beat the heat! Ellery memorized Ephesians 2:10 without me knowing it and went up to the stage to recite it. I was super proud of this little lady. She is such a Bible lover and I am inspired by her in this way.

On Thursday after VBS we went to see Critterman at the Library. When he pulled out the “really impressively large cockroach” my only thought was, hmmm I think I’ve had one that big in my house before. One of the downsides of living in Texas, the bugs are HUGE. Ellery really enjoyed seeing the creepy crawly things. Afterwards we headed over to Mimi’s house, yes my mom moved here THIS WEEK (my Dad will follow very soon). It’s been so nice to just pop over and say hi. I finally told my mom today that if she gets tired of her children constantly calling to stop by she can just tell us she’s busy.

Over the weekend I got to have 24 hours off to hang out with my mom so I don’t have pictures, but I know the girls had a great time with Andrew at the Thinkery. Whenever we are there I tell them there are certain things dad would be much better at, so they tried to hit those stations (like the microscopes). I enjoyed the weekend going to dinner, getting pedicures, shopping, and doing a little unpacking with my mom. I am overjoyed that my parents live 5 minutes from me!!!!

Overall week 4 was great. I missed Vaughn fiercely this week while she was in childcare every morning of VBS. I’m in for a rude awakening when my job begins (still waiting on approvals), but I know we will all adjust. She did great, I just am so used to being with her constantly that I felt sad to be apart so much. Counting my blessings this week: sweet friends, close family, a great church, a fabulous library, a postponed job start date that has allowed me so much more time than I ever expected, and still loving my little town!

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Summer 2017 Week 3

Week 3 of summer was off to a slow start. Ellery was at VBS Monday-Thursday so Vaughn and I just played catch up and ran errands, without too much excitement. Ellery did Lake Hills VBS and the theme was Mystery Machine. She LOVED it and we will definitely plan on going back every year! One afternoon Ellery and I spent the afternoon coloring and secretly eating hot fudge Sundaes while Vaughn napped.

Thursday-Sunday we hit the water hard! When it’s nearly 100 degrees everyday the only way we can play outside is if we are in the water. One day we joined our friends at their neighborhood pool and my kids were in love with all of the kid stuff. The other days we hit a local pool and had it almost to ourselves which was delightful!

The girls were ALL about Father’s Day this year and we tried to make it extra special. We were lucky enough to have some boat time in the afternoon, and then pizza, a movie, chocolate cake and ice cream before bed. The girls picked out gifts for Andrew and made extra special cards, they also decorated the box (and were super proud of that).

I felt pretty scattered this week overall. My mom was in town, I was studying for an exam, then had to take the exam and had worship practice the same day. I had to work a couple different childcare situations out in order to get all my stuff done and I felt like I constantly had to tell Ellery and Vaughn no, which was so sad to me after our first two weeks of summer where I felt able to say yes a lot. I have been so fortunate that my job has been taking longer to get started than I expected which has afforded me a lot of time with the girls I didn’t expect to have.

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Summer 2017 Week 2

Summer week 2 was unexpectedly delightful. I was supposed to spend the majority of the week in Dallas for a work training, but that has been postponed. So this week I got to soak up time with both my girls because we had no camps and I had very few commitments.

Monday was one of my favorite days we’ve had in a long time. Ellery is VERY into making cards right now and wrote 30 or more this week, she also made “treasure maps” and hid the cards around the house for us to find. Our library has Kindergarten camp every Monday afternoon and Ellery says that was the highlight of her week. We are going to attempt to go to as many of those as we can, but wrangling Vaughn for an hour and a half in the library as we approach nap time is not exactly my favorite thing (perhaps I’ll pawn Vaughn off and work at the library during camp next time).

On Tuesday our movie theater has free kid’s movies so we hit that up in the morning. We saw Kung Fu Panda 3, which I wouldn’t recommend, but it’s always fun taking the girls to the movies. I was feeling extra generous so we drove through Starbucks and got the girls pirate cake pops. On Wednesday we went to our local burger place (with a sandbox, I know I know, it’s true love I tell you) and bumped into our cousins and that was a fun surprise. Thursday I got a special outing with my big girl Ellery, we went to the library and saw a children’s musician and then came home and baked some cookies.

Andrew took the day off on Friday so the girls got a special treat and Dad came to our afternoon library outing, Circus Chickendog. It was a little strange and not the most well done things I’ve ever seen, but the girls were entertained. We also got to go swimming this weekend which was so nice, the weather has been dry and HOT, so the pool made for a lovely Saturday afternoon.

Tomorrow we are off to the races with a super busy week ahead, but so far we are loving summer break!!

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Summer 2017 Week 1

I am trying to slowly dip my toe back into blogging (I miss it, but my life called me away from it for a season and I’m now a little rusty). I am going to try to do summer week recaps all summer because you know, I’ll blink and it’ll be over.

Summer week one involved Vaughn at her first summer camp! I was a little “meh” about sending her to camp because it was EXPENSIVE for the amount of time she was there, but she came home potty trained so I decided in the end it was worth it. It also purchased her a spot in preschool this fall, so overall I’m glad she went. She was pretty happy to go each day so I would assume she had a good time (she is still not much of a talker).

The beauty of her being in camp was that Ellery and I actually had some one on one time. I had made plans for her to have a playdate while Vaughn was at school so I could study, but in the end cancelled her plans so I could see her more. We went to Whole foods, ran errands, made a list of things she would like for her birthday and went to rolly pollies where I actually got to focus on playing with her instead of watching Vaughn the entire time.

Ellery has asked me for almost two years to go to McDonalds and I finally obliged and took them to get “food” there. She really just wanted to play on the playscape that is visible from the road we often travel. Bonus… the Happy Meals were $1.99 that day so at least I didn’t overpay for the mystery meat ;).

Other highlights of the week: press on nails from Mimi, bubbles, sister snuggles, slumber party with my oldest, news that the bestie and her little are coming in July, and playing at the Thinkery with some friends. We also swam twice at Uncle Bryan’s pool (okay the girls swam, it was too cold for mama).

Overall week one was pretty great. I functioned all week under the post-show funk that was inevitable after going back to high school and having one of the best weekends of my life (I hope to blog about that event soon because I know a lot of people have been curious about what this show was about), but despite my less than perky mood we enjoyed our first week of summer vacation!

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Vaughn’s 2 year 7 month letter

I haven’t blogged in a long time. There are a lot of transitions happening at Casa de Campbell and eventually I will sit down and write it all out, but that day is a long way away. When I had my ladies I committed to writing them a letter every month for the first year of their life and then a letter every 6 months after that until they move out. So I am a full month behind, but here is my letter to my sweet little Vaughn.

To my spunky, spirited, and sweet Vaughn Emerson,

You, little one, have become a delight since turning two. From 1 year until your 2nd birthday I feared for what daily life would look like for us, but then your second birthday rolled around and you flipped a switch and have been pretty delightful since. You are SpUnKy, you know when you are doing things you shouldn’t be and the faces you make basically render me helpless in disciplining you. You talk a lot, but after spending 10 days in Illinois with Mimi and Papa I realized Ellery and I are essentially the only people who know what you are saying. Your voice sounds like you smoke a pack a day (and we LOVE this about you and will be sad one day if it ever stops). We think you may have done damage to your vocal chords during that year from 1-2 when you screamed many hours a day, yeah it wasn’t very much fun for anyone.

You love playing outside, watching movies, being around Ellery, and dancing. You request a “dance party” almost everyday. You have pretty sick moves! You are also very thoughtful. If you go and get something for yourself you almost always grab one for your sister. She is the first person you ask for when you wake up and the two of you are inseparable which is what this mama always hoped for when I found out Ellery was getting a sister. For the most part you love the water, we had a terrible month long stint of you HATING baths after you had the stomach flu, but luckily you swung back around before the summer hit. You know what you like and want and assert yourself, this is a quality I love about you and hope I can foster over the coming years, I hope you always march to your own drum.

You are starting preschool this fall and I’m starting a job next week, so I have spent the last few months soaking you up, breathing in your scent and trying to commit it all to memory. I read an extra book and sing a longer song these days before nap knowing that this period of life is coming to an end very soon (because despite our best efforts kids don’t nap forever). If someone could invent a potion to keep kids little longer they would be billionaires, but I am doing my best to enjoy a piece of every single phase (even the year of screaming had some good moments). I love watching you grow, make friends and experience new things. YOU ARE MY GIFT and I’m so glad you are mine!!!

Love you FOREVER,

Mama

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P.S. You started doing this face for pictures and we laughed so hard the first time that it has become your “signature look” now.

Vaughn’s 2 Year Letter

To My Sunshine Vaughn Emerson,

We’ve had a rough year, but when I rock you at bedtime, snuggle your sweet body, sing you songs, look into your still chunky face, kiss those cheeks of yours, I genuinely view you as a bright spot in my day no matter how challenging our day together has been.  You are a riot.  Your dancing is some of the best I’ve ever seen.  You love to enrage your sister and you are quite good at it.  You have figured out what her buttons are and are on a mission to push as many of them as you can, I find this at the same time maddening and hilarious.  I called to get a speech therapist evaluation for you and within a week you were talking about twice as much as before, you must have heard me talking to them and decided it was time to break the silence.  The words are coming slowly, but I can see the gears turning in your head.  You understand what people are saying way more than you let on.  You love to be rough: wrestling, jumping off of things, punching, biting, slapping, hitting, kicking and just generally making your presence known.  Unlike me you really enjoy being outside, we got a baby rollercoaster from a friend and you can ride on that thing non-stop, you love a thrill.  Much to my dismay you have become a picky eater, I’ve always said I wouldn’t cater to that, but on more than one occasion I’ve handed you an applesauce pack before bed in hopes that you wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night starving, this mama likes her sleep.  You turning two was a rough one for me, the end of us having babies in our house.  I now understand why the baby of the family stays a baby longer, it’s very hard to let go.  I’ve started rocking and snuggling you more than ever before as I hold on to this phase for as long as I can.  I can’t stand the thought of the transition to the bed or potty training because that feels really really final.  While I’m holding you back in these small ways I’m doing my best to usher you into the next phase, teach you as much as I can, and help you bloom.  While I know logistically you need to go to preschool next year in order for me to get my work hours in, I’m secretly (or not so secretly) hoping you are waitlisted one more year so I don’t have to let you go quite yet. I’ll let God work that one out and be satisfied with either outcome.  I just love watching you grow!!

Love you forever,

Mama

Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos from our photoshoot with Jenna at the end of September.  There are SO many good ones of you, but for time sake here are four of my favorites.

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To My Future Self

Because I know myself, and I know that hindsight is in fact NOT 20/20 and rather it’s cruel, I’m writing myself this letter because it’s going to happen, I’m going to look back, reflect on the time my kids were under my care and tell myself I could have done so much better.

Dear Laura with an empty nest,

You are probably sitting down to enjoy your morning read in a quiet house that is picked up, cleaned, and all your carpets still have the vacuum lines in them.  Your house is quiet, a little too quiet, and you are reflecting on the years where you would have paid money (and on occasion did) to have a quiet moment to yourself.  And you miss your kids.  And you think you took the time they were home in your care for granted.  Let me assure you, you didn’t.

You’ll wonder why you didn’t hold them more, kiss them more, tell them you loved them more, or cater to their incessant requests more often.  Here’s why…. you simply couldn’t.  There were days that the kids cried for hours, literally hours a day, over the smallest seemingly insignificant things and you picked them up countless times and then you hit your limit, you simply could not bend over and pick up a child one more time that day.  You were not a super hero, a saint, or a magical being.  You were human and sometimes humans hit a limit, there were days, many days, where you hit yours.  If you had kissed those baby cheeks one more time they would have started getting chapped, I assure you, you didn’t take the plump cheeks for granted, you kissed tears away, kissed them while they were stretched tight from giggles, and kissed them a million times in the morning when they woke up and at bedtime when you said goodnight.  Your babies always went to bed feeling loved by you.  Speaking of love.  You told your kids you loved them constantly, it was probably annoying to them if we’re being honest.  But you felt a lot of love for those sweet little ones in your care and you made sure they knew it.  And the incessant requests, when you finally snapped and raised your voice, and hurt your tenderhearted child’s feelings, I just want to remind you about that human thing, you weren’t perfect, but you were quick to apologize and heal up that hurt heart.

Don’t be one of those older mama’s who while looking at the young mama struggling in the grocery store with her screaming kids tell them, “enjoy it, you’ll miss this when it’s gone.”  Even though you probably DO miss spending your days with them, you probably only remember the sweet times when they would lean together in the cart for eskimo kisses or giggle and beep their car carts at other shoppers.  Those moments were sweet, but they weren’t the majority of the moments.  Many times you did shame shopping where people stared at you and wondered why you didn’t have better control over your children as they were bawling while you walked through the store attempting to complete your shopping list.

You will tell yourself that you should have worked less, I know you will, but work was a source of sanity for you and you needed it.  Not only did it give you something outside of mother and wife, but the money was helpful in those early years.  Don’t kick yourself for contributing to your family in this way, your kids learned valuable lessons while “working in your office” with you and learning how to entertain themselves.  It also made you much more intentional during the rest of the hours of your day when you were with your children you focused more on being present with them.

You loved your children well, you did everything in your power to enjoy the journey.  It wasn’t always easy, some days you wanted to get a full time job (you considered it on several occasions), but you made the choice to stay home with your kids while they were little and you did not take that privilege for granted.  Some days it was a sacrifice, some days it was a total blast and you felt spoiled that you GOT to stay home with your kids, and ALL of it was worth it.  So don’t beat yourself up, don’t wish you did anything differently, instead remember the good times, remember the bad times (that you can now laugh about), and above all enjoy where you are TODAY, enjoy where your kids are as adults outside your home now, and enjoy the journey….life is quite a ride!!

From your 30 year old self raising a 4 and nearly 2 year old….

Here are some photos that give you a sampling of what life was REALLY like day in and day out with these two, because you don’t always take pictures of the rough moments and I don’t want you to think your instagram feed is a good representation of your life at this time!

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