The Dress Rehearsal

We woke up with a fever of great expectations this morning.  Ava is starting preschool tomorrow, on Tuesday morning, and this morning was her Open House and her first chance to meet her teacher and see her classroom.  We've been talking and talking about this forever, so I woke up today very ready to just get the ball rolling!  I think she was feeling the same way.  She wasn't quite on board with a photo shoot this morning but I managed to squeeze a couple of poses out of her...sort of. 
 This might be my favorite attempt at fake enthusiasm.  For the record, she was excited, just not very willing to give me any genuine emotion for a photo, ha!  I have about 10 of these that are quite funny if you like forced smiles and fake joy!  
Maybe the most exciting part of preschool for Ava right now is simply what she's going to wear to everyday.  It's quite a process to think it all through and make sure it's just right.  And believe you me, she is as opinionated as she is cute.  The girl is just like her mother and I'm getting paid back tenfold for my own assertiveness when it came to my clothing choices.  She is very strong willed about what she likes and what she WILL NOT wear.  I've already told Travis I am most stressed about our mornings and her wavering thoughts about what she deems "perf-tect" for the day!  We're going to have to do some choosing the night before and stick to it.  It's not that I care so much about what she chooses, except that she notoriously chooses dresses for the opposite season or things that are too small but dear to her little heart :) God has a great sense of humor when he pairs mothers and daughters, doesn't he??  She is so much like her Mama it's painfully humbling when I observe myself in her sometimes!  Parenting is a roller coster of emotion and patience...
We got to her classroom a little early this morning and I watched my strong willed and tender girl look around with curious eyes, excited and a little tentative too.  I know she will grow to love this place and the new friends she will make.  She is typically easy going in new settings and sweet natured, but I watched her fight through her emotions, ready to assert her new independence and yet looking to me for reassurance and confidence.  It's so interesting to observe your own child in different environments and to see the ways that God has wired them.  She thrives in one on one interaction and without it, can get lost in big groups easily.  Her heart is sensitive and yet she's got a streak of her Daddy's love of adventure and laughter too!  I'm excited for the ways that Preschool will stretch her and grow her, and I'm praying it will also bolster her self-confidence and help her be brave.  
 She has two darling teachers and I know they will be faces she grows to trust and enjoy and love over the course of the year.  More than her own mastery of academic skills and learning, I am really praying that she continues to love Jesus more and more and that she is a blessing to those around her.  I'm praying for her to make some new friends, to be a delight to her teachers and to have fun!  We prayed together on the way to school this morning and I just about had to pull over after I listened to her sweet little soul asking Jesus to be with her today.  As much as I pray for my daughter and ask the Lord to work on her behalf, I know that part of my job as her parent is to help her gradually shift her dependence from me to Him.  Preschool feels like a big first step in that journey and the right one for our Ava.  
 After we listened to all the instruction and news about the policies and procedures for the year and she had some time to process this new adventure, we got outside and I saw her joy start to bubble out of her.  She asked lots of sweet questions and told me she loved "Preschool Sunshine" which is what she calls it!  This will be a good thing for all of us.  A little bittersweet in the journey that is life, but right and appropriate.  
 After all, as big as she seems these days, she's really such a little girl still in love with shoes that sparkle and anything covered in pink! 
As her Mom and Dad knew she would, she got right up on that horse this morning, something that would have scared her a few years ago and stretched her legs a bit.  Actually this picture is from our Family Fun Fest at Church yesterday, but the analogy seemed fitting.  
 Pink patent leather shoes and all, she rode that little pony, round and round it's pen like the 4 year old that she is, telling me "See Mom, I can do it!  I told ya!"  Yes, Ava, you sure can...
 I was reminded watching Travis still gingerly holding on to Carter, as he needed to do, that she's grown so much in the last year.  Her brother may be close in stature, but she's got a little more of life under her belt and it's a joy to watch her blossom and grow.  
 We have big mountains to climb this year and I know she will amaze us and surprise us.  I also know that parenting her through it will often bring us to our knees, the only place we'll find true wisdom and direction to help her.   
I hope through it all she never loses her child-like joy and love for life!  I pray her innocence will be protected to the best of our ability and that the Lord would impress His truth on her heart at an early age, so that she will trust Him for life and surrender all of who she is to her Savior.  Because if you will, Ava, it will be the wildest ride of your life and worth all the twists and turns along the way...

Tomorrow is the big day and we are ready for it.  I am determined not to cry for my girl (which will probably result in some tears shed tonight after she goes to bed!).  I want her to know this is a good thing in her little life, not something her Mom cries about.  I got a text this morning from my Dad, asking how the morning was going.  I filled him on Ava but he reminded me that he was actually wondering more about Ava's Mommy :)  I guess no matter how old we are, we are still somebody's little girl!  My heart has a little tug in it and there is a small lump in my throat, but mostly I am thankful for God's provision and His goodness in all things, even preschool!  
We are believing God for big things over here and I know He will deliver! 

Happy Monday, friends! May you have a beautiful start to your week!  

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