Day 121 – Beautiful wreckage

Another semester is ending, so yeah, I’m probably feeling extra sentimental. Students have been dropping in to check in as the year wraps up. Some are sharing exciting news–they’re graduating this weekend, going onto grad school, starting new jobs, taking a break from the studying to go on much-needed vacations. Others are facing uncertainty–grades aren’t where they need to be, financial aid is in jeopardy, family issues are making things complicated. I love that they feel comfortable coming in to my office, sharing their news, asking for advice, just wanting to touch base one more time before they scatter for the summer.

You know, when I look back on the whole of my own college days, it was the best time of my life.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. My life is pretty great now. I’ve got an awesome husband, two fantastic kiddos, a sweet hound dog, a loving family, an incredible group of friends, and a job that I absolutely love going to every day. But not one bit of this would be possible without the time I spent in college, without the connections I made, the lessons I learned, and the foundation I built there.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I soared higher than I ever thought possible. And I crashed, burned, tried to get up, stumbled, fell back down, and had pick up the pieces and build something brand new there too.

And you know what? It was all worth it. Every. Beautiful. Painful. Moment.

And the best part of it is that it led me here, to this place, where I get to spend my days working with college students, helping them navigate this crazy transition, helping them begin to understand that our mistakes don’t define us–they give us perspective. I get to help them learn that failure is not a dirty word as long as you own it and learn from it and use it to make better choices tomorrow. I get to be the person I needed (the person I found) when I was young and scared and confused and looking for someone to walk with me on my journey.

So don’t be afraid of the wreckage. It’s an important part of the story too.

Project Life 365 – Day 47 – Heavenly

I have to admit, I was a little worried about transitioning Miss Cadence from a crib to a big girl bed. After the incident that prompted us to invest in a crib tent to keep her safely confined over night, our bedtime routine has been pretty cut and dry–drink some milk, brush teeth, read a book, sing a few songs, hugs, kisses, two blankets, favorite song cued up on the ipod.

Some nights Cadence would spend over an hour chattering away, acting out scenes from her favorite cartoons or movies, singing her favorite songs over and over. Other nights, she’d be sleeping almost as soon as I walked out and closed the door behind me.

Either way, we knew she was safely snuggled in for the night. And in spite of all the teasing we endured from friends and family, we both agreed that crib tent was one of the best investments we ever made for our fiesty little girl.

Knowing we might be in for a complete sleep revolt the moment we tried to put Cadence in a regular bed that she would be able to hop out of whenever she pleased, I made sure I started talking to her about her “big girl bed” several weeks before we planned to actually make the transition. By the time the big day (today) rolled around, she was absolutely beside herself with excitement.

At first, she didn’t want to leave her room, and spent hours lying on her new bed, reading books and playing.

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After finally coaxing her away long enough to eat a little dinner, it was time to test out our first big girl bedtime routine. We brushed our teeth, drank our milk, read a book, sang a few songs. Then we talked about how it was okay to feel a little scared the first night in a new bed. I told Cadence that the bathroom light would be on in case she needed it in the night, and that the gate on the stairs would be closed so she would be safe and not fall down. I told her that Mommy and Daddy would be sleeping in our room if she needed us. She asked me to stay, but I told her no, it was time for night-night, just like always. I gave her a few extra kisses, and turned on Castle on a Cloud per her request.

Through the monitor, I could hear her singing along half-heartedly. I went downstairs and started doing a few dishes. As soon as the song ended, she started to cry. I waited a few minutes to see if she would calm down, then headed back up to her room.

She looked so small in that great big bed.

I sat down beside her and dried her tears. I told her it was okay to feel scared because it was her first night and the big girl bed was different, but that she was safe in her room and that when the sun came up and she woke in the morning, she would wake up in her big bed and be able to get up and play and come see Mommy and Daddy. I asked if she wanted me to put on another song, and she requested Please Read the Letter. A few more hugs and kisses, and then I tucked her in and said good night.

This time, I listened to her sing along, and then chatter away. A few rounds of Old McDonald, Castle on a Cloud, and the Animaniacs theme song later and all was suddenly quiet.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to sneak a peek. I eased the door open and smiled at the heavenly sight…

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My big (baby) girl, snuggled in, sound asleep.

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