"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My New Classroom :)

This past week was my first week of school at my new school.  I am just in heaven.  I am hoping to temper this post with as much love and respect as I can for Title 1.  As most of you know I have taught in 80% + low SES schools for the last 6 years.  For me, this is my 7th year of teaching, and I'm terming it "My Year of Jubilee" as taken from Leviticus 25.  

Title 1 requires your mind, body, soul, emotions, everything.  You are a slave to those kids.  I truly poured myself out like a drink offering for those kids.  I don't regret a single second of that experience.  God taught me so much about myself and how much daily life was dependent on His presence.  I put counting 1000 gifts into practice with those kids.  And it was HARD to find things to be thankful for when no one can read in 2nd grade, CPS is involved in 3+ children's lives, you aren't sure if one of your parents hooks for a living or not, your drug baby has no emotional control and the smallest things cause her to break down, the angry child can't NOT roll her eyes and smart off at you for the smallest request, etc, etc.  They helped me make thanks-living not just a discipline, but a habit.  I am beyond thankful for them all.

But this is my year of Jubilee.  And I feel the Lord giving me back my soul, and my strength, and my love for teaching.  Just like slaves were returned during this year, I feel like I've been returned, redeemed, and rejuvenated.  I love everything about my new school.  I love that my principal considers himself a "teacher of teachers".  I am so thrilled to learn from him and my assistant principal.  I love that my assistant principal goes to my church, and I get to rest assured that her actions- even should I ever disagree with them- are ultimately founded in Christ.  What a comfort!  I love that I am on a team where all 5 team members contribute ideas, are strong teachers, have amazing work ethic, and are hilarious and fun to be around.  I love that I have 22 kids that when I say get out a pencil they just automatically say 'yes ma'am'.  I wouldn't have even asked them to say yes maam for that.  I love their joy and love of learning.  I love that I don't have to force them to do anything school related- they already love it.  They aren't perfect, but I sure am not going to have to perform stunts to engage them.  I thought I loved teaching before.  But looking back, I ended each day emotionally tired and frustrated.  Now, I end each day only physically tired.  Emotionally though, I'm just full of joy.  I don't walk in with some amount of dread each morning praying that I have the patience to deal with my special friend's anger and antics.  Title 1 took every emotional cell out of me.  I'm so thankful to just love on my kids and truly teach.  After 5 days, I still am excited about the year.  That's never, ever happened.  (Except maybe my 09-10 year- those kids were amazing)  

I'm not saying it's perfect or that kids are perfect or parents are perfect.  They are human.  And there will still be days that are hard.  But they will just be days.  Not every single day.  When I'm praying over my class in the morning, I have this vision of myself in a dimly lit classroom.  And it's only lit by me.  Like there is this angelic light surrounding me, which I assume is the Holy Spirit.  And I know my presence in my classroom will have a purpose.  I am still called to be a light to all these kids, to love them like Christ loves the little children.  And I know I am pouring my heart out to be Christ's hands, feet, and heart to them all.  And I see that calling every time I have this vision if you will.  I really believe God has something up his sleeve with showing me this.  So I pray I stand firm in Him and am what He has placed me there to be.  But no matter what, I am just 1000x thankful, because I know the amount of peace He has just poured onto my Year of Jubilee.  And my heart overflows.

And now for a tour of my room :)

 My reading area:  reading chair, lamps, library books, cafe reading wall, word collector wall, my handmade curtains, my cozy reading genre pics...

 My testing table, my writers workshop clips, my child accessible math manipulatives, other resources...

 My ode to the prairie with my Kirsten American Girl doll, Kirsten books, Texas books, Cajun Night Before Christmas, Word Wall, Display shelves, family pictures, birds, my thistle, my Little House on the Prairie collection, the big frame on the left now has my quote "grace is reality" in it- my constant reminder to offer grace for all the tears, frustrations, and imperfections that enter my room...

 My desk area- I've kind of changed up this display, but it has my reminder to choose joy and that it is well, my calendar and math area with child accessible number line, places for math words, and all the math I want to incorporate into my calendar...

 My signature room "Australia" for kiddos who are having a rough day.  I always read "Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day" and explain that kids can go here if they are overwhelmed by their emotions.  It also doubles as a cozy reading spot.

 Close up of my display area.  Including my hippie duck given to me by a former student, my 2 gnomes I got from 2 different teacher secret pals.  Also I covered the front of the shelves with decorative masking tape.  I am pretty much in love with it.  I love how it makes the white pop out and gives it this calming seaside feel.

Some more close up of my tape.  Really really pleased with how this turned out!

Friday, August 30, 2013

For Your Maker Is Your Husband- Repost

For Your Maker is Your Husband- Isaiah 54

Susannah has a Bride of Christ link up currently.  Technically, I have already written this post several months back.  But it says everything I would want to say already about my thoughts on this subject.  And it was one of my most viewed posts.  So cheers to a redo :)

For those of you who don't know, I've been working on reading through the Bible for basically 2 years now.  I've made it through the New Testament once and am back in Mark.  In the Old Testament, I've read Genesis through to 2 Kings and Job through to Isaiah.  Yesterday, I read Isaiah 54.  I actually read verses from this when I was reading through one of my favorite life changing books, Breaking Free- by Beth Moore.  (this book is a must read for all women I think, especially if you have experienced any type of abuse.)  She refers to part of this chapter when she talks about the dreams of all women to be fruitful and have children.

I had never read this chapter in its entirety, at least that I remember.  This chapter is for any woman who has struggled with fertility, or been abandoned, or divorced, or abused, or unmarried.  If you have struggled with any of the big 'women issues' or disenfranchisement with typical 'women dreams' in life, this chapter is for you.  I wish I could type it out in its entirety, but instead I'm going to link you to this chapter on another website.  Here.

I hope you read it and found it encouraging!  Here's where I have struggled:  I've been abandoned, I've been in an abusive relationship, I've worried about never getting married, in the past I worried about never having kids, I've worried that I won't be able to have kids by the time (if) I get remarried... I still struggle with some of these things.  Thankfully, with my experiences through healing from a divorce and abortion and all of those things, my struggles have become less.  But I do notice those thoughts every now and then.  I've just learned to trust God (in those areas- I still struggle a lot with faith).

I'm learning to accept reality with joy.  The reality is that Jude will be much older than any other brothers or sisters he may have.  But the joy is that I've gotten to pour into Jude more than I ever will with any child.  It's been just he and I as long as he can remember.  While it isn't ideal, it does create a special bond and almost friendship that you won't have otherwise.  I don't know that it's always a good thing, but I do think it is a special gift for the single momma.  And I have a feeling I will be close to Jude in a lifelong way because of this.  Another reality is that I will be 30+ before I get remarried and even later before I have more kids.  But the joy is that the road I've walked will make me extremely thankful when all of those things come along.  I will really appreciate them in ways I wouldn't have otherwise.  Another joy is the possibility of adoption.  Yes, in my dream world, I have 5 biological children.  But I do think that as you experience different parts of life, you get to experience different parts of God's character.  I do think that adoption allows you to understand the fact that God adopts us more than I currently do from the lack of adoption standpoint.  Whatever your life experience, wherever you are, there is joy to be found, and a way to see God differently because of it.  And that's always a gift.

This passage encouraged me in many ways.

* vs 1-2 tell us women to burst into song, shout for joy, do not hold back... How many times have you thought "I will do that sometime after I'm married... I will be able to do that more when I have kids... I would be able to do that if it weren't for abuse....  I know I have.  But God tells us to not let our dreams for the future nor our past hurts hold us back.  God has you where you are today for a purpose. A great purpose.  Dive into it fully!  If God is leading you to something, go for it with everything you have.  You can trust him to provide for the future along the way.  But don't spend your life waiting.  Serve him now.

* vs 1 also says that many more are the children of the desolate woman than she who has a husband.  At this point in my teaching career, I've had 120+ children that I have poured my entire soul into loving, teaching, molding in every way.  There is no way I could ever biologically have that many children.  But I consider them all mine.  And I've prayed for them all like they were mine.  And I love them all deeply.  I haven't forgotten any of them.  And you better believe that one of the first things I will do after I get to heaven (besides hugging my Grandma and my other baby) will be to ask God who out of my 'kiddos' is in heaven.  Or making sure He tells me when they do get there!

* vs 4 tells us to not be afraid, do not be ashamed, do not fear disgrace...  While I think this was more intense in Bible times since barrenness was considered a consequence of sin, women are still prone to thinking less of themselves when they experience these lost dreams.  But we don't need to feel that way.  I'm currently reading Loving God with Your Mind by Elizabeth George.  She quotes Alan Redpath as saying "there is nothing that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me.  If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose."  I love that!  Abuse came with great purpose!  Abandonment came with great purpose!  Single mommahood came with great purpose!  If I am single forever it will come with great purpose!  If I never have more children it will come with great purpose!  And rest assured,  all your past and present circumstances have come with great purpose too!  None of us know the future, but we can trust God that the future is full of great purpose as well.

* vs 5-10 is our love song I think.  A love song from our Maker who has an unfailing love that will not be shaken.  I personnally love the way it talks of how he loves and calls back the wife who married young only to be rejected.  He loves us so much.  So intimately.  Have you ever spent hours creating something?  For me this comes back to painting.  I remember every brushstroke.  I remember the colors I used and mixed.  I remember blending the colors just so.  I remember putting the paint thicker for certain reasons.  I was there for each second of the process.  And I put all of my energy into each square millimeter.  No teensy spot went unnoticed.  And the more I pour into a painting, the more I love it.  It makes it hard to give away a painting, because there are parts of me in that painting I could never get back.  Even though someone may love the painting and see beauty in it (he- like a husband) could never love it the way I (like God) could love it.  Because I created it.  Women are the painting.  And God has poured himself into each cell and second of our lives.  And even if a dream guy comes along to buy the painting, he will never love it as intimately as God loves us.  Not even close.  You are loved so deeply.  And that is worth far more than a house full of children or the best marriage or a pain free past :)


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Weekend Pics- Nailed It

This past weekend I was determined to nail it as much as is possible when getting ready for the 1st day of school.  At a new school.  And in a new grade.  I'm pretty sure I did a kick ace job.  Jude and I hit the ole Target around 9:00.  Because I literally cannot manage to get everything I need in one stop.  I don't even know how many times I have gone to Target and Hobby Lobby and Wal Mart leading up to starting school, but it borders on ridiculous.  

Jude and I were talking in the car and he requested soccer and the pool.  And then he said he wanted to play soccer by our 'lake' and take a wagon ride.  And then he added picnic.  Sweet thing just came up with all these ideas on his own.  So we did just what he wanted.  I bought us some drinks from a coffee shop.  We packed some cheese and crackers in the wagon.  And walked down to the lack.  It was delightfully windy out as we sat on the bench enjoying our snack and looking at the lake.  

As most of you know, I am minorly obsessed with the prairie.  Some might look at the above picture and see dead grass.  I see waves and wind blowing and purple tints and green.  I hear cicadas singing and wind rustling and birds chirping.  I smell the sweet herbal scent of grass baking in the sun.  I feel pure bliss.  I love the wide open spaces of Texas skies and fields.  I feel so alive when I am surrounded by this.  And the amazing thing is- these photos aren't filtered.  The sky is just really that blue.

One of the many things I love about the prairie is that it's always changing.  Grasses and flowers die and new ones take their place.  Roses are great, but it's the wild flowers that always amaze me.  How beautiful is this one.  I can't remember what it's called.  It reminds me of a hydrangea with it's lime green and white hues.  So pretty!

Jude and I did practice soccer.  I taught him to not use his hands :)  He starts soccer practice tomorrow (Thursday) so we are really thinking in soccer terms right now.  It was so fun to kick the ball around with him.  I love how playing makes you feel so alive.  Until of course you start realizing it's getting close to 100* out there ;)

He loved exploring the lake and walking to its edge.  Love love his little hand on his hip.

Little boy in a big big world.  So amazing to think about.

After burning up while playing soccer, we ended it right by cooling off at the pool.  I enjoyed sitting.  And you can see Jude on the side making a friend.  Such a friendly kid.  He amazes me by how brave he is with going up to whoever is around and engaging them in play.  So sweet.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fostering Independence

When you first find out your pregnant, you find yourself bombarded with well meaning advice over the best way to feed your baby, sleep train your baby, wean your baby, swaddle your baby.  You name it.  People have an opinion on it.  You start out seriously considering all these pearls of wisdom.  Then you realize you are sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  You enter survival mode, which seems scary.  But the good thing is you emerge from that 'trauma' knowing yourself as a parent.  You learn which pieces of advice work for you and which don't.  Opinions of others lose their importance because you realize you actually know what's best for your child.  And you start to see yourself as a parent.  Maybe not the parent you thought you'd be.  Maybe not the parent 'that book' says you should be.  Maybe not the parent you had.  But you find your own parent identity.  With that identity, comes peace.

For me that identity has emerged in two ways- neither of which I expected.  For one thing, it turned out, I was an attachment/extended nursing/cosleeping/baby wearing kind of parent.  It worked.  Now that I am in full fledged toddlerdom/preschoolhood, I am seeing myself as another type of parent.  I push my child's independence.  Never in my life would I have expected that.  Especially coming from the attachment wing of baby raising.  As it turns out though, my life is busy.  I just don't have time to do every single thing Jude asks me.  Without really thinking about it, almost as an impulse response really, that has been used to turn him into the most independent 3 year old.

He can get his own snacks.  He can get his own drinks.  He gets himself dressed.  He puts his clothes in the dirty clothes.  He brushes his teeth in the mornings.  He puts on his own shoes.  He throws his trash away.  He puts his dishes in the sink.  He makes his bed.  He puts on his seat belt.  He opens his door.  He cleans his own bloody nose (gross I know but he did it and stopped it himself).  I could go on.  Honestly though, he does a TON of stuff on his own.  He doesn't do it perfectly all the time (although a lot of the time he does).

I just simply let him try.  If I can't hop to it, I just tell him what to do.  He tries.  Most of the time he figures it out or comes close to figuring it out.  And man is he proud when he does.  He is incredibly confident in his own abilities simply because I have him try.  He doesn't cry about now being able to (unless he really, truly can't).  He doesn't 'but mama' me.  He doesn't whine or baby talk.  He just takes care of business.  And he does that because I simply don't do it for him.

I'm not saying that this is THE way to raise independence.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't coddle younger children more.  What I am saying, is that if you choose to offer the chance to let your kid do it themselves, they will probably surprise you by just how capable they really are.  And now that Jude has gotten so used to doing so much on his own, he just rises to the occasion himself.  He takes the initiative without me 'you try first'.  He blows me away daily with the things he decides to do himself, and he does them pretty well!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Toddler Water Slide

This summer Jude has becomes obsessed with the pool.  As in he asks to go every time we pass it.  Which is every time we enter our neighborhood.  I would love to be able to accommodate him, but life is just not that convenient.

I started positioning my sprinkler to hit his slide just right.  He loves this because it makes a "water slide".  He gets to zoom down it fast, he gets to get wet and play in the water.  He thinks it's amazing.

I love it because I get to entertain him while I'm watering my grass since for some reason the back part of my sprinkler system doesn't work.

And I love it because I can actually do things like throw in a load of laundry while he's having a blast outside soaking up his daily dose of vitamin D.

And it makes for some cute pics too :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Simple moments, simple pictures

This weekend turned into a pretty simple one when Jimmy told me Friday morning he was heading out of town for the whole weekend.  I had sort of expected Michael to get Jude, but thankfully, he didn't.  I'm in the middle of staff development back to school stuff, and I wanted to combine some fun stuff for Jude in addition to all the work I have to do.  That being said, no boyfriend weekends mean dirty hair, scarves, and no makeup.  As you can plainly see.

It was a good weekend to hit the donut store.  Also, I have no milk, no coffee creamer, etc.  So breakfast was gonna be scrounged up one way or another.  Might as well make an occasion out of it.  Donuts are soooo daggum good.  I really wish they weren't terrible for me.  Jude agrees.

We ran our errands so hopefully we can eat for the week.  Although, with back to school, it seems like the list grows insurmountably with all the things I realize I need.  In fact, no pictured is the time I went back to Hobby Lobby.  And back to Target.  All in the same day.

Jude asks me daily to go to the pool.  It's pretty hard to go when I've been working so late setting up my classroom, but I promised myself I would take him at least once this weekend.  As soon as our groceries were unpacked, we headed down there.  Earlier this week had been my happy mail day wherein I get a copy of Coastal Living, which is my favorite mag.  One day I'm going to live at the beach y'all.  One day.  Until then, I read Coastal Living....

It is kind of nice too, because Jude has gotten increasingly independent in the water.  Which means I can actually do things like sit on my lawn chair and read.  The baby stage is sure cute.  But- the older they get, the more you get time to breathe.  And well, I don't hate it.  Jude mostly threw his sticks and retrieved them.  Oh and made friend with literally every child in the area he was in.  He is the most social child.  And since I am amazingly shy- I do not even know how he came out like this.

Because sometimes you walk out of your room after changing out of your bathing suit and see your child building blocks with a mask....

I also got a back to school pedi today.  I thoroughly enjoyed my latte, my book, and have my feet massaged and prettied up.  Gotta look awesome for Meet the Teacher this week!  I even went with classic red so I could fit it as we 'Set Sail for Learning'.  Schools love to give us slogans for the year...  I'm kind of a fan of nautical stuff (see Coastal Living) so I'm not hating it...

Jude enjoyed couch naps and old quilts...

And I gave up finding valence curtains that I actually liked for my classroom and decided to make them with burlap, various blue and orange ribbon and fabrics, fabric adhesive tape, and hot glue....

So far, I actually really like how they turned out.  They were 100% no sew.  Time will tell if they pieces stay on.  But at least I have a glue gun handy in my classroom....

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blessing Pouring Down like Rain

David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, and tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. ~1 Chronicles 13:8

This verse has changed my life.  It's amazing to me how God can speak so intensely to your heart through sometimes the most normal of verses.  But this verse stopped me.  I had so many thoughts.

* What would it look like to celebrate with all my might before God?
* How excited do I really get about what God is doing in the world around me?
* Do I even have my eyes open to pay attention to what he's doing?
* What must David's heart have been like to be this way?

If there is one word to describe how I imagined David, it was joy.  Joy before the Lord.  Joy of the Lord.  Joy because He's in God's Presence.  Pure joy.  I realized how much expectation I have that joy come because I enjoy my job.  Or joy come because Jude is behaving well.  Or joy because Jimmy and I go on a really great date.  Always conditional.  Conditional joy.  Except the only Biblical condition of joy is God's Presence.

Well that's everywhere.  God is in and within everything.  During every circumstance.  Without condition.  Without exception.  So what am I doing wrong that my joy is based on conditions?

So I began to pray a pretty simple prayer- "Fill me with the Joy of the Lord.  May your Presence be my JOY.  May that be the only condition for my Joy.  May I be as excited over You as David was."

God has answered that prayer!

Almost immediately.  I have only prayed that prayer (daily) for I guess the last 2 or 3 weeks, but I have noticed a Huge difference in my perspective, my attitude, and honestly my discernment and perception of daily occurrences.  I literally feel like I am bubbling over.  The proverbial cup?  It runneth over y'all. I am blown away by the goodness of God, His love for me, and how His Presence and Hand are literally on me and my life!  How did I not see that each second dripped of Him before?  "One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!" ~ John 9:25.  I see His hand now- everywhere- all the time!

This has changed everything.  Everything.  I am overcome with my blessings.  I am praying as we speak that the Lord will recall them so I can share some with you.  But believe me, they are beyond count.

Today I went to work up in my new classroom.  I was going back and forth loading and unloading my car.  One of the custodian ladies was in the hall cleaning.  I stopped and chatted with her about being new, having taught in Denton, etc.  Her English wasn't very good, but we were able to get the gist of each other so to speak.  I went on with cleaning my room, and was getting hot, so I wanted to find the coke machine.  She was still in the first grade rooms, so I asked her.  She told me it was really expensive (like $2.50) and so I was just like oh bummer and put my money away.  She went and bought me a bottle of water at Walgreens down the street!  I don't even know where to start with this.  She wouldn't let me pay her back.  She's a custodian.  And an immigrant, so it's not like she has extra money.  I was completely humbled by her kindness.  And all from a 5 minute conversation.  She taught me so much today.  You never know how much the 5 minutes you spend with someone will possibly mean a lot to them.  I was completely blessed by her today.  And judging from the way she hollered down the hall "Ms Ashley, Ms Ashley!  Have a good weekend!" I feel like she was blessed by our conversation somehow too.  Only God could use 5 minutes for His glory!

Or how I signed up for this mug swap I mentioned a few days ago.  There were 800 people who signed up.  And we were randomly assigned.  I didn't give any information about Jude or my marriage or relationship life when I filled out the form.  Just gave some style hints like being eclectic, nature lover, stuff like that.  YET GOD had his hand in the girl whose name I got.  He paired me up with a young, single mom.  A young single mom whose going through a really rough time right now.  A rough road that I've already walked down.  Y'all I can't even wrap my MIND around this.  The odds of this are clearly slim.  But God.  But God works all things according to His will.  And His will is that His hurting children know His love.  His uses us, His body, to reach out.  And He literally handed me this opportunity, against all odds (except there are no odds for God) on a silver platter.  I can't do anything when I think about this except worship God with all my might.  I just can't.  JOY.  Pure Joy.

And so many more.  My new school is so many, many blessings.  Such a positive, excited vibe from everyone.  I'm blessed to form new relationships.  I'm amazingly excited about 1st grade.  I just get this feeling that I'm really going to do well here.  I went to some 1st grade math trainings this week, which were so encouraging.  I feel so much more capable of taking on a new grade.  And I'm excited about it!  And while I was there I learned that another school near me hired a new 1st grade teacher also.  This school was closer to me, and I certainly prayed that a door be open there.  But the door didn't open until after I was at Savannah.  For me this was a gift in two major ways.  One: it confirmed for me that 1st grade is really where God can use me best this year.  Kind of like I would have been in 1st no matter what if that makes sense.  It encouraged me in feeling qualified to be a good first grade teacher.  And it also encouraged me that I was at the right campus.  (at this point, I hadn't gotten up to my school to really meet any team members)  It encouraged me because if I was supposed to be there I would have been.  But I know God.  And I know He has a reason I'm where I am.  It just really made me feel assured of my decision.  

And all this was before I met my amazing team members.  Or learned that the first day back, we break into teams to do a CRAZY town wide scavanger hunt.  Think something you would do with Young Life.  Hilarious.  And this year- costumes are required.  Costumes to do things like have 3 team members take a picture next to a corvette.  Or find an Elvis record.  I can't even wait!  

And then there is the daily miracles of seeing this amazing little boy in my life.  And getting to watch how much Jimmy and Jude love each other.  And how they verbalize it.  I don't have words to describe what it does to my heart to watch their relationship develop.  I really don't think Jimmy could love on Jude much more than if he were his.  What a godly man!  But you know God loves us like that- through taking on loving something that was separate from Him.  

There are everyday miracles.  Everywhere.  All around you.  But the thing is, it's God's hand that you are seeing and feeling and experiencing.  He is so good and loving.  And He's there.  And my heart dances in my chest because I can't quite figure out how to contain HIM and the JOY HE IS.

Linking here today

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Update: Jude's Room

I have been slowly attempting to update Jude's room for awhile now.  I have wanted to make a gallery wall and have slowly been buying and collecting prints off of Etsy or at Casey Jones Train Museum or who knows for seriously like the last 2 years.  

For my birthday this year, Joel gave me a picture of a British phone booth from his visit to London.  I was pondering what to do with it when I realized it would be the perfect addition to the wall I had been storing up and planning in my head.  

I was determined to get that done as part of my summer projects this year.  It took me until August to buy and return and buy the right frames for this.  But thankfully, it's done.  

The most exciting part of this is that Jude was so excited about it, which I didn't expect.  I sort of kept him out of the room while I was working.  As I've said before, my child is wild, so him in the room I'm working in is chaos- at least volume wise.  He loves to make noise.  I can't think in those conditions, much less work.  Suffice it to say, he stayed out of the room.  When I did let him in, he was so excited. I'm so glad I decided to capture his face with my camera.  He was just so excited.  1000 gifts!

He LOVED it!!!!  He told me over and over again how much he loved me and how thankful he was for his new pictures.  Along with some of the biggest hugs ever.  Talk about melting my heart.  He makes it so fun to give him things because he really gets so excited.  Sweet boy!

Here's the gallery wall I made.  It's a combo of the vintage train pictures from his nursery room, a few more modern looking train pictures, some Beatles references since he's named after them after all, and lastly the phone booth.  One day, I want that area to be a reading nook, but we aren't there yet :)

The license plate and Pullman car picture were originally going to be part of the gallery wall.  The Baltimore & Ohio and New York Central pictures had already been in different places in his room.  I decided to pull those and make a mini gallery wall over here, which I am glad I did.  And of course, Jude loves the concentration of trains.

I had also thought about adding this 1 year old photo set to the gallery wall, but decided to put it under his shelf when I moved the New York Central pic from under it.  I ended up liking having it separated out and divided into categories.  I have also added the midshipman hat that my brother passed down to Jude after graduating this year.  I updated the letters of his name awhile back, but am not sure if I ever posted about that.  The baseball is from when the Navy made the regional NCAA baseball playoffs a couple years ago.

The view when you look into the room.

And this night light.  I got it on zulily (actually the Beatles prints are off zulily too...).  I love this night light.  So much!

Anyway, I really like how it turned out.  As with all rooms in my house, they are constantly being updated or changed, but this is a good start I think to transforming it for a preschooler :)