Today, he built Lego sets and ate chocolate chip pancakes bigger than his head, but tomorrow will be different. Today, we lounged around, not a worry in the world, but tomorrow will be different. Today, we traveled and talked and rode in the car for hours, but tomorrow will be different.
Tomorrow he’ll enter a new world, a new season, and a new time. Tomorrow, he won’t be just my sweet little boy; he’ll be a big kindergartener in a new place. Tomorrow, he’ll settle into a new routine, but it won’t be ours. It’ll be his–on his own. He’ll listen, learn, lead, and love. He’ll become more of his own person. He’ll continue to make us proud.
So, tonight, when he says, “Just sleep with me for a little bit,” I will when I usually don’t. Because tomorrow will be different.
And, tonight, when he squeezes my hand and says that he loves me more, I won’t dispute it. Because tomorrow will be different.
Tonight, when I peek in for that last little look before I go to bed, tears will stream down my face. Because tomorrow will be different.
If you’ve been following along on social media, you know we set out to finish up the camper project this summer. Primarily, we use our camper as a bedroom during football season since our group has outgrown the house we stay in for game weekends. However, last summer, Mr. Gray decided we should spruce up the exterior. (If I were good at re-doing and remodeling things, this is where a before photo would be.)
The mint exterior really spruced it up, and all of a sudden, I was bummed we didn’t get to do anything with the canopy or do dream about new interior.
time lapse | time lapse | football season | time lapse
When we brought the camper home after last football season, we had plans to rip out the kitchen for more space, paint a little, and work on the canopy.
(Insert before photo here. You can do it. Dated camper interior. Burgundy. Dark green. Patterns. Laminate. Fake metal. Fake wood.)
Mr. Gray got to work on removing the kitchen while I started thinking of affordable ways to give the rest a facelift. Spray paint. That’s the answer. The affordable way to do anything is to spray paint it. For about $4.00 a can, you can work on the canopy, the cushions, and any other dated upholstered surfaces that can be physically removed. I bought a twin sheet set for $8.00 and made valances out of that. It was the perfect width for all the windows, and I just cut them all to match, hemmed the tops for the rod, and the bottoms to finish the edge.
We had a space where the vent was removed that Mr. Gray secured from outside the camper, but it needed something for the inside. The boy and I created a cute wall hanging with a $3.00 canvas from Hobby Lobby and paint and stickers we already had.
I painted the refrigerator with chalk paint, not because I love it, but because we were out of black oil-based paint, and I knew that would be an easy fix for a focal point. We already had the paint on hand, which was an added bonus!
Plus, now for football season, we can #BTHOeveryone and change it weekly!
The original divider curtain was a very heavy green lined number, so I switched it for a shower curtain in the new color scheme. The ribbon tie-back replaced the original cumbersome get up that was there, and now it’s cute and easier to use.
The cushions are simply spray painted black. A word of excitement: the pattern will show throw adding a great look. It gives the cushion some dimension, despite the quick fix. It changes the texture of the fabric a little, but nothing outrageous. Had I had the time, I would have rubbed them with a wire brush or sanded them lightly. When you head to work as the sun is going down the night before you set out on an adventure, though, you do what you can and worry about the rest later!
I had one last idea that I wanted to finish late last night after being inspired by some metallic spray paint I found in the storage shed.
I channeled my inner throw pillows, and went to town. (Really, these are my throw pillows; inside my house.)
I taped off some abstract triangles, went to spraying, and waited for the reveal this morning.
Be on the lookout for the full exterior shot on social media once we set up camp! I love the way it all turned out!
I’m not big on the news. It’s far away; I can remove myself and allow a little head-in-the-sand time. It’s not that I’m unaware, but I’m ashamedly able to pull myself out of situations and convince myself those problems don’t belong to me and my small town life. While my husband spends his time listening to BBC, NPR, and sermons from various pastors we follow, I spend my time listening to KLOVE or Kidz Bop with the occasional top 40 hit thrown in there for good measure.
This time, it’s different, though. Those could have been my friends or their kids. It might have been children I love and care about as my own. It could have been one of my friends, simply because of the color of their skin. This time, it was far too close to home to turn away. I can’t bury my head in the sand for this one. Because for me, while I might not be about news, I am about love. I’m called to love those around me. I’m called to love my enemies. I’m called to love first. To give the benefit of the doubt first. To teach my son the same. These friends I mentioned, they’re his friends, too. They’re people he loves and cares about. They’re people he would be devastated if something happened to. He doesn’t know or care what color their skin is; he loves them because they’re his friends.
This morning, I watched this.
(Go on, I’ll wait. It’s worth it.)
I don’t have a systemic solution. I don’t have a great idea for how to move forward from here. What I do have is a little boy I am called to teach, mold, and shape. I can him teach to treat others–all others–well. I can teach him to love the people around him. I can teach him to serve as Jesus did. I can teach him to pray for his friends and classmates. We can start at home. Undoubtedly, we are called to.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” –Deuteronomy 6:5-9
I’m an emotional person. I cry often, love big, and feel deeply. Lately, though, my heart has been even more raw than usual–and not necessarily in a good way.
I see new pregnancy announcements or adoption matches and have begun to think, amid my joy for them, “Why not us? Why isn’t it our turn?”
I watch our son with younger children and know what an amazing big brother he is going to be. He is ready. He is longing for a “baby sister” of his own.
I was reading an article this morning, though, and I realized I’m going about it all wrong. I’m not leaning into God and waiting patiently, learning through the refinement. I’m trying to make it mine. I’m finding ways I can find us a baby. News flash, Jolie: God knows your baby. He knows everything about her and when she will join this family. What she looks like, what her name is, and how many hairs are on her head. She is not mine to find. She is mine to receive. (And, she might not be a she!) He knows. I can’t do this myself. My control, my planning, my desires don’t walk out this call. Saying yes to the Lord is how we walk in this call. We know He has called us to this. We know our family is to grow through adoption, but not of our own means, of His.
So, I will let my joy be joy and my sorrow be sorrow, but I won’t spend my time fixing things. I will lean in and listen, so that I may have more of Jesus as I prepare to be a mom for the second time. I will go before the Lord, prepare my heart, and wait on Him. His timing is perfect–there is nothing I can do to speed it up or slow it down. So I will wait, and I will grow in the wait. I won’t waste the wait.
I keep thinking I’ll write a new post. I come over to tell you all about all the things (or at least write them down for my own recollection), and nothing comes out. I mean, I didn’t even write an ode to my husband or a recap of our anniversary trip.
The cursor blinks. The page stays white. I get distracted and move on. We’ll try this. Short blurbs. Maybe that will break the ice.
I saw the cutest Fourth of July tank on Instagram this morning. I almost ordered it. I waited. I went to the post office, and tada–a new Fourth of July shirt. You know, the one I ordered last week. At least I won’t have two.
We got Schlitterbahn season passes this year. So far, it’s the best thing ever. Free parking. You can take food. It’s pretty much perfect (and definitely not a paid ad).
My husband was visiting with a lady in a restaurant Sunday evening, said who I was, and she responded that she knew me from my blog. (HAHAHAHA!) What kind of alternate universe is this?
I think I’m becoming a little spoiled now that the majority of my work can be done from my phone instead of my computer. I feel so free. Lots of other changes are coming in that realm, but for now, I feel like I’m kind of “off” for a bit. It’s really new–and nice.
The boy has been taking piano lessons, and I’m completely in awe of how his teacher teaches. I wish my lessons had been that involved when I was younger. (Side note: a friend of hers saw that she knew me and recognized me from Purpose Box. HA! I guess putting yourself all over the internet might have its perks–or something.)
I miss my bike. I still have yet to make it to get a new tube after “the flat,” and I really want to ride. Ahhh, small town living.
I just got an email about a Christmas event. It’s June–not even July. June.
Mr. Gray is working on some of the summer projects we had for the camper this week. Hopefully we get them finished up quickly and can take it somewhere before we haul it back to College Station for football (yesssss–football!) in the fall. Where are your favorite camping spots?
Did you know you can get a free custom The Gray Matters-designed print if you sign up for our emails? Yep. It’s pretty cute. My friend Meg at Clappping Dog Media designed it for me. Sign up. Check it out.
If Destin were on my calendar for tomorrow, I wouldn’t complain. Maybe I should look into booking that.
After an emotional last week at Happy House (for me, not him), we had a wonderful graduation ceremony (where I didn’t cry at all). He sang his heart out and put on quite the show.
Then we moved to his art display in the classroom and quickly walked out without making eye contact with Mrs. Kristi (tears were definitely starting to try to well up at that point).
We headed out for supper to celebrate after.
His last day came and went just as quickly as it came. We had a fun lunch together, and they spent their day watching movies and jumping in the bounce houses.
Before we left, Mrs. Kristi’s son asked if we had seen his message for the kids on the board in the classroom. We hadn’t, so we walked back over. Cue the tears. It matched their theme for the year and the place we are in life so well.
For several years now, I have started and ended the boy’s school year with an interview. I’ve missed a few here and there, but for the most part, I’ve got ’em. Check out the last one for Happy House!
I love his words of wisdom for the new comers!
Oh, the memories we have in this school. From his first day (2013) to his last (2016), Happy House will always hold a special place in our heart.
One night as we got ready to say prayers, the three of us were all piled into the boy’s bed, and I reminded him to straighten or pick up something first thing in the morning. Mr. Gray gave me a look and quietly said, “Lay off the room a little.” It was just what I needed to realize that the room situation didn’t really portray the “yes mom” model I generally go for. I prefer to pick my battles, say yes when I can, and let the boy explore and learn. Sure, there are boundaries and confines, but mostly, yes works.
Thursday at lunch, with a living room full of trucks, tractors, Peppa Pig’s camper van, and who knows what else (no Legos because I banned those from the living room), I said to Mr. Gray, “Maybe we should make that extra room a playroom.” By 6:00 that evening, it was.
I’m pretty sure it’s the best idea I’ve ever had. Until it got better.
You see, that first night, he kept bringing toys into the living room to play so he could watch TV. He still had to break down take apart, and completely stop what he was doing when it was time for bed. Sure, he just threw it all in the room and closed the door, but he couldn’t continue the next day or anything.
Nonna had a small TV, and we had a Blu-ray player that I wanted out of the living room anyway, so we decided to try a TV in the playroom.
Now, if you had told me EVER that I would be a proponent of putting a TV in the playroom, I would have laughed and called you crazy. But here’s the thing: he goes in there, turns on a show, listens to it, and plays (and plays and plays). He pauses it when he walks out or comes to eat, but he’s not generally focused on it. He is engrossed in his play. He is able to play well when he has a space to play, pretend, and elaborate. When we have to leave or stop or go to bed, he can leave what he’s doing and finish later.
Now when I walk into his bedroom to tuck him in, I am not flustered or frustrated with the explosion of toys that’s going on. It’s calm, peaceful, a place to work at his desk or rest. Things are in their place, and there isn’t a whole lot of reason for them not to be. It has completely changed the demeanor of our bedtime routine for the better. And I can read a book peacefully in the living room without having to block out Peppa’s accent.
I saw a Facebook post this week from a mom who was so disgusted that a parent of another child sent an end of the year treat to school. Whether it was typical “mom” ranting on Facebook or this mom genuinely felt it was in poor taste to send a “treat for everything,” I’ll never know, but what I do know is this: I’m that mom.
Giving gifts is one of my gifts. I’m all about being punny. I enjoy making cute printables and curling ribbons. I love creating. My son enjoys taking treats to his friends and being generous. It’s a win-win for our family.
Do I expect that everyone should do that? No. Not at all. Do I think you’re less of a mom than I am because you don’t? Nope. Not even a touch. I enjoy it. It’s worth the investment of my time. Maybe it’s not your jam. That’s totally okay.
I, however, had a blast working on these little goodies for my son’s school friends.
For less than $5.00, I had treats for the whole class. A pack of water, a box of single-serve Kool Aid packets, double-sided tape, and some curling ribbon was all it took!
You can print the tags here (they’re set up for printing on business cards to save you the cutting; I just happened to be completely out of them when I got home, though).
So whether you’re the treat mom, the anti-treat mom, or somewhere in between, use your gifts. And know that there’s no right way to do this parenting gig. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
I walked him into school this morning, just as I have for the last three years. Monday and Wednesday, off he goes.
He spends his day learning, playing, showing off a little. He talks through rest time and assures me he is ready for kindergarten simply because they won’t take naps. (I know there are countless other reasons he is ready as well.) He helps his teacher, pretends with his friends, and then comes home to me mid-afternoon. We go off on our adventures, or tutor the big kids, or whatever is on the docket that day. He tells me about the people he helped, what silly things he did, and that they didn’t learn anything. When Daddy gets home, he recounts it all again.
This afternoon, I walked in to pick him up, just as I have for the last three years. But today, it was different. It was his last real day of preschool. Sure, he still has his program tomorrow night, and he has his fun day on Wednesday, but today was it. Today was the last nap, the last packed lunch, the last of it. I didn’t realize it was going to hit me so hard when I picked him up.
I’ve been fighting back tears since we walked to the car with all his things. They’re streaming slowly down my face as I recount the very first day, when he was just a two year-old in that big three year-old class. He was young, but I knew he was ready. He loved every bit of it–and he has since then. We have been blessed with amazing teachers and a support system for him that has laid a firm foundation for a love of school in the years to come.
Tomorrow night, he’ll don that red school shirt for the last time, and after this afternoon, I can only imagine the state I’ll be in. He’ll sing at the top of his lungs, do all the motions, peek over every now and then to make sure I’m watching, and then lead us all to his classroom to see his art. He’ll be proud, but not nearly as proud as I am. I love watching him grow and learn–even if it tugs on my heartstrings a little.
Sometime after my last triathlon (not necessarily last ever, just the last one I did), I decided I wanted to train for and ride the MS150. Then we had the whole Type One diagnosis, life got crazy, and I polled Facebook for some other options. The specific ride wasn’t important; the goal was a century ride: 100 miles on a bike in one day.
The Shiner GASP was the overwhelming winner of reviews, suggestions, and tips. It is known for being hilly and windy, but also for being a great ride. I got serious about training, followed a plan, and got signed up for the ride.
I was a ball of nerves the week before. Mr. Gray suggested he ride with me. My mom suggested she drive as my “posse” (SAG team). I had no idea what to do with the boy. I didn’t do as well on my last long ride (which actually should have been my second to last long ride, but I just plain ran out of training time) as I would have liked. I was trying to figure out how to get everyone everywhere and how I was actually going to finish when I really wasn’t sure about it all. I called my mom and Mr. Gray off. I told them to drop me off in Austin and meet me in Shiner. I decided even if I couldn’t do the whole thing, we’d call that my last long training ride and sign up for another. The knot in my stomach moved to my throat for the last few days. I was ill on the way to packet pick up in Shiner. It seemed like the craziest, and maybe worst, idea ever. Then I talked a little too big on social media:
Not “could be,” or “should be” a century rider, “will be.” Why? Why would I say that when I felt nothing of the sort?
So we left for Austin much later than we intended Friday night. We finally settled in much later than I wanted. Every external battery I own was plugged in and charging. I wanted my phone GPS to track me all 100 miles. I wanted it there where I could go back and look anytime I wanted. I woke up plenty early, knots still in my stomach and throat. I got dressed, my boys got dressed. They dropped me off at the start line. (What? They weren’t staying until the start? That’s what happens when your five year old is growing like a weed. He wakes up starving.)
I got set, adjusted all (alllllllll) my gear, and made small talk with a few folks while waiting to start. It was a different atmosphere than running. Lots of groups of riders who ride together regularly.
Some folks singled out, but still not as much talking and chatting. We started without much fanfare. A quick rendition of the National Anthem, and off we went. No guns, no chip times, just rolling through the banner.
I lagged back a little at the start; I didn’t want to navigate through all the riders on the way out. As soon as I was out of the start line, though, I was off and going. My first hour was the best time I have had since I started riding a few years ago. I was feeling great, I was zipping along, it was all good.
I was feeling fabulous through the “half-way” point in McMahan (it was actually 45 miles, so not quite half). I grabbed my pizza, per tradition, at Whizzerville Hall, downed some more Energize, and headed back out.
Things were still rolling along until about mile 70-something. My back was killing me; I couldn’t feel my left leg; and I was ready to be done. I was planning all my “social media let down posts” in my head: I had made it farther than any of my training rides. I was hurting. I may or may not have been riding on the very edge of the shoulder trying to get a flat–that would make for a great post. After a few miles of that, at mile 76, I called Mr. Gray and told him to come get me. I stretched while we talked, told him I was going to pedal until he got there and hung up.
He got there a mile or so later. I crossed to the driveway he was parked in, threw my bike at him, cried, and headed for the passenger side. He wasn’t having it. I was crying because I wanted to be done. I was crying because I wanted to make it 100 miles. I was so conflicted. He stretched me out, got my leg back in working condition, made me another Energize and told me he’d see me in Flatonia. I reluctantly got back on the bike and started pedaling. I passed my mom just a few minutes later. I thought maybe I could convince her to pick me up.
I crossed I-10, pulled into the outskirts of Flatonia, and couldn’t get either one of them to let me in their vehicle.
We stopped at the aid station in Flatonia, Mr. Gray stretched me out again, I got more water, loaded up and headed out. By then, I was close enough that I had some will power again. Until I pulled out of town to an immediate uphill battle.
I stopped at the bottom and waited for my beloved husband to come up behind me. He did, with the window down, and said, “Go! I’ll see you in Moulton.” I could have cried (again). But I didn’t. I shifted gears and pedaled on about my way. People were walking their bikes, and I was determined not to do that. I stayed on and kept going. We were inside the twenty mile mark.
I had a Chapstick stop between Flatonia and Moulton, and my mom warned me that the course went into town instead of staying on 95 (that was becoming a pattern I was less-than-thrilled with throughout the day). As I turned up the (small) hill in Moulton, I saw my mom, dad, husband, and son all there. They jumped back in their cars, and met me at the next aid station. I ate, drank some more Energize, and hit the road. I was back to my cruising speed and feeling really good again. It was too close to the end not to be.
I have driven those roads from Flatonia to Shiner a million times. It’s never seemed soooooooo far in any of those drives! I had read in a review that once you saw a sign for two miles to Shiner there was one more hill and then home free. I was on the lookout for that sign. I never saw it, but I did see the brewery. It was total body relief when I did. I have NEVER been so overcome with emotion. I lost it. I could barely breathe, barely pedal. I had to get it together. Lots of deep breaths, and I finally did.
I remembered a similar feeling as I turned down the last stretch of my first half marathon. It was much less intense, but the same thing. It took over my entire being. It was so consuming. The relief. The shock. The stress. The culmination of it all. The brewery was in sight, and the next time I saw it, I WOULD be a century rider.
My mom and dad pulled ahead to get to the finish (then she turned around when she realized she could get the shot above). Mr. Gray and the boy were already there. I could see it. I could feel it. It was real.
As I turned into the corral, some bystanders decided to walk through.
That’s them, there, on the left of the frame. I don’t know that I have ever screamed so loud or been so mad at actual people in my whole entire life. I had just ridden a hundred miles, and I couldn’t cross the finish line without people being inconsiderate? Nice.
But then I actually crossed the finish line, and it was glorious, even if my face still doesn’t look like it!
I was so tired, so done, so over it, but I had done it! I finished! Those last twenty-four miles were the hardest fought miles I have ever ridden, but they were so worth it.
I cried (again) when I finished. We waited around for some of the guys who were behind me to finish so I could chat with them. We all agreed: it was the worst idea we had ever had, but it was DONE!
On the way out of town, we stopped and took the picture I had been dreaming of for months:
Then my dad stopped on his way by and handed me my favorite sugar cookies, which I promptly demolished.
When we got home, I made Mr. Gray let me out at the end of the driveway; you see, my phone only had me at 97.39 miles. I paused it when I got off at the brewery and restarted it when he let me out. I threw my helmet back on, jumped back in the saddle, and rode until it crossed the 100 mile mark. I earned every bit of that, and I wanted it to be official. And it is.