Some times it seems like we just go from one activity to the next in our BigG Life, and I guess this post is no exception. I wanted to jot down what has been taking up our time lately.
Gabe has moved solidly into the realm of a young teen. At 13 1/2, he is so fun and pleasant to talk to one minute, and driving me crazy picking on Elise the next. He likes to smell good and spends more time on his hair. I have had to rethink my parenting tactics with him. Sadly, as has been the case his whole life, he is our guinea pig since he is the oldest. We are learning together and I hope we continue to have a good relationship. Gabe is naturally responsible. He always does things like homework on his own and manages his time surprisingly well, although sometimes I forget he is still a just a boy in a really tall body. He was almost in tears late one nite thinking he couldn't get a huge school project done in time. We talked it out with him, helped him get some supplies, and told him we would take him to school early. He was so relieved and I could see the little boy in his eyes looking at us with gratitude. He has been participating in school basketball for the last few months and he has learned some life lessons. He is one of the only 7th graders on the 'A Team' and the 8th graders on the team have been less than welcoming. It has thrown him for a loop to be on the outside and he has had to dig deep some days. I have been proud to see him work hard without complaining and his physical skills have developed along with his emotional skills. I think the timing has been pretty good. I know he needs to be establishing his own identity at this age, but I am glad he can still talk to John and I about things that are difficult for him. He can look me right in the eye when we stand together and I love that he can laugh and joke with us in a way that he couldn't just a year or two ago.
Seth is really coming into his own this year. He turned 12 in January and I can't believe how much older a 12 year old boy is than an 11 year old boy. He is still very social and has a large group of friends. I have been pleased to see him self evaluating over the last several months. I know he is trying to build better friendships with kids that are a good influence. He has also been trying to develop good habits. He takes his new position as a Deacon very seriously. School comes pretty easy for Seth and I am afraid he is too much like me...a solid B student. He does what he needs to for the B, but doesn't seem too motivated to work past his comfort zone. As a 6th grader, he can't participate in school sports, but he did football in the fall and Rec Bball for the last month or so. He loves team sports and is naturally athletic, but he is a much better player when his team is winning. We talk a lot about working hard especially when it is difficult. Seth still has 2nd child issues-worrying that he is not getting all the privileges or respect that Gabe does. To try to counter this, we have tried to spend more on one-on-one time with him. Whether it is me walking down to meet him off the bus so we can walk home together, or John taking him to empty the garbage, it seems to work and he really opens up when we take that time for him. Seth is so good with the little guys right now and Jebb especially adores him. Seth is a handsome kid and is still only mildly interested in girls. I am hoping there is no rush on this front, as he gets calls fairly regularly from girls that are more than mildly interested in boys.
Elise is in the double digits at age 10 and is really starting to have strong emotions at seemingly strange times. She has always been a sweet and loving girl and that hasn't changed. She wrote John a note last week that just melted his heart. He took her out to dinner and they had a great night. She and I have been somewhat at odds over things and I sometimes feel like I need to tread lightly. It's at these times that I too want to write John a note telling him how much I love him and I am so glad Elise has such a great Daddy. Having Grandma to talk to has also been a great thing for her. She has started to experience friends that aren't always nice. She got in the car after school and started crying telling me that one of her friends had told everyone that she liked a certain boy. We had a great conversation about boys, friends, kindness, and tears. Elise has been participating in an after school activity called Destination Imagination. Seth did it a couple of years ago and while I wasn't a big fan (too unstructured for my taste), I am glad we let her participate. Sometimes her after school activities are too heavy on sitting through another one of her brother's sporting events. She also does orchestra before school and although she rarely practices, she is getting pretty good. Elise loves her cat, Max. She is an excellent student and continues to impress me with her compassion and kindness, while driving me crazy with her bangs in her eyes.
This brings us to the little guys. Man I am loving the little guys right now. I think it took me having 5 kids to learn to really appreciate the little stage. Sadly, I was always anxious for them to grow up and be more independent, mostly because there was always another baby coming up who really needed my help. I am loving the hugs, the snuggles, the kisses, all of it! I love winking and flashing the 'I Love You' sign. Selfishly, I love that they both still want to marry me when they grow up.
Jackson gave me a run for my money the first four years of his life. He was always trying to take off and he didn't hesitate to grump at me. He was a spitfire. Then one morning he woke up, and was a little angel. It was the weirdest thing. He has been such a treat for so long, that we kinda forgot about his feisty side. But lately he has dabbled again in his spunky side. He is still a good little boy, but he is hugely stubborn sometimes. I have often wondered if I started him in school too soon, and it is not a question that I have totally answered. I am still thinking of moving to a different elementary school so that we can put him in 1st grade again next year without it causing too much trauma. His teacher assures me that his is on track academically, but I worry about his maturity and some fine motor skills. I've gotta ponder and pray on that one some more. Jackson is the best big brother to Jebb. They cannot play the wii without fighting, but they absolutely adore one another. Lately I have let Jackson play electronic games waaaaay too much because we are all a little fed up with the snow, and I think this is a contributing factor in Jackson's feisty self. Jackson has a quirky charm that apparently works with the ladies. He has been eating lunch and riding on the bus with his friend Madison. When the big kids ask him about her, he simply says, "She's my best friend." Cute. :)
This brings us to little Jebb. My little sidekick. The baby. Every stereotype applies. He is spoiled and I love it! Jebb attends preschool 4 days a week and I walk him into his class each day. He still has clingy days, especially Mondays. He loves to walk backwards down the hall to his classroom while telling me to warn him if he is about to run into anyone. He also loves to run and he is getting pretty quick. Jebb is very particular about things. He panics when he has a substitute teacher and likes to wear certain shirts or shoes. I sometimes intentionally throw him a loop now and then just to help him stretch a little. He got a different Primary teacher at the new year and still hopes his old teacher will return, he does not like the change. Jebb and Jackson get dragged around to lots of games and for the Jr High games, I have let them bring their Nintendos. He is a big electronics lover as well and it is the only thing that makes him get mad enough to yell at Jackson. His favorite friends are a set of twins in his class, Bryce and Tanner. He still can't tell them apart, but they don't seem to mind. I have to admit, I am still a little lost on days without Jebb and I have been known to keep him home now and then, just because.
So this is what we are doing lately. We try our best to stick together even though this means lots of fast food on the go. Even though I get stressed out now and then, I hope I remember to enjoy this time of our lives.