Friday, December 28, 2012

Dear Santa

Wait a minute.  All of these letters are supposed to start with "Dear Ian!"  Have no fear; here we go...

Dear Ian,

This year you really "got" all of the festivities and activities of Christmas.  You believed with your whole heart in the magic of Christmas, Santa and his reindeer, and in Chapel and at home, you were learning about the birth of Jesus.  The lights on houses thrilled you.  You started wrapping your toys in your Loveys and giving them as gifts to Daddy and me.  This year, Christmas was truly in your heart and special for all of us. 

And this year, you wrote your very first letter to Santa.  Well, you dictated and I wrote, but you wrote your own name and decorated your letter all by yourself. 

Here's the outside of your letter.  I gave you dot letters to follow and trace, and you did a great job. 
And here is your actual letter.  I love that you asked me the check the "quite good" box versus the "very good" box at the top of the letter.  Maybe you are more self-aware than I realized.  Anyhoo.  You asked Santa for a basketball hoop and ball, a John Deere 40 tractor, a toy Rudolph and some new books.  And you promised to leave Santa some milk and cookies.  It was so cute.  Then you used your crayons to decorate your letter.  You really took your time and worked hard on it, and I know Santa appreciated all the work. 

We then put it in an envelope and put it in the mail for Santa.  Even the mailman thought it was sweet. 

Although this year is only your fourth Christmas, I think this one will go down as one of my favorite Christmases ever.  Your enthusiasm and happiness over the season was contagious, and I know that your Christmas spirit really helped raise mine. 

Thank you for all of these wonderful memories little boy.

We love you,
Mommy and Daddy

Otter Antics: The Final Weeks

Dear Ian,

Here's the final post in our series of Otter Antics for the year.  Your elf was a busy little guy as we prepared for Christmas and Santa's arrival.

 One day we found him in your car seat.  You had spent the night with Grandma and Papa Davis, and apparently Otter missed you.  He had to come with us to pick you up! 
 Here's a picture of him trying out your guitar.  Thank goodness we got a musical elf to be part of our musical family.  And he even wrote out some sheet music to Jingle Bells!
Mr. Craig from Daddy's work and his wife, Ms. Jerilyn, bought you this giant Lovey as a Christmas gift.  Otter thought he would be great to sit on! 
 On his last day with us, Otter left you a sweet letter and directions on how to make a special treat for Santa's reindeer when they arrived Christmas eve. 

You and I (and maybe even Daddy) were a little sad on Otter's last day at our house.  You were always so excited to see where Otter was every morning and what he was doing.  That sweet, energetic little search just made my morning.  I am very glad that Santa sent us a scout elf to our house, and I know we are looking forward to him coming back again next year.

I love you, Little Buddy,
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Works of Art #40 - Christmas Edition

Dear Ian,

Things are in full Christmas swing around here, and to help prepare for the holiday, you and your class have been super busy. 

 First you brought home an adorable reindeer made out of Popsicle sticks.  He's so cute! 
 Next came this gorgeous poinsettia flower.  I LOVE this.
 Here's a neat snowflake made out of recycled toilet paper tubes and painted with white and white glitter.
 Look at this neat candy cane you made!  I especially like the pattern you did with the red and white.
 This is a cute stocking you decorated.  I know that you made this in art with Miss Lynn, because my class made one, too.
This is a neat wreath you made with dot markers.  I really like this one, too!
Finally, here's the gift that Miss Katie and Miss Mallory helped you make for me and Daddy.  It's a Rudolph made out of your hands and a foot print.  I love him!  He's going to hang with the one you made a long time ago when you stayed home with me and the one you made last year with Miss Laura.  I love the fact that by the time you graduate Advent, we will have a whole collection of these banners.  It makes me smile.

You might be wondering where we put all of these great ornaments and decorations that you made.  Well, wonder no longer:

 This is your very own Ian Christmas Tree.  Here's where we have placed all of the hand-made ornaments that you have created.   We have last year's ornaments hanging next to this year's, and I cant wait to see how they change and develop as you grow.  It's a neat tree.  And it's all yours.

Merry Christmas, Baby Bear!
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Otter Antics: The Catch Up

Dear Ian,

That elf of ours has been a busy little dude.  He's brought joy and happiness to our mornings, as you race down the stairs each morning to find where he's landed for the day.  And thankfully, he's at least been neat about it, so I haven't had to clean up after him too much.  Without further ado, here is our latest Otter Sightings.

 Here's our intrepid little elf getting a lift from your fire engine so he can see the ornaments on the tree a little better.
 That crazy Otter.  Here he is making cereal necklaces for you and himself. 
 I wonder who he's calling.  Santa?  I sure hope not.  I cant imagine what the long distance bill is going to be if he did.
 Wow!  On this morning Otter brought you a new book!  Curious George's Christmas.  Otter had to read it first, though, it seems.
What a funny elf.  We woke up this morning to see that he had decorated your chair at the table with red and green paper streamers.  It was really neat!
 Uh oh.  Looks like Otter is on his way up the stairs to either check on you or to see if your room is clean.  Fingers crossed you picked up your toys before bed this night.
 This special Otter moment was the day after you had a great day at school.  Otter decided that you had been so good that you deserved a special treat.  He wrapped up a small gift just for you.
Here's a picture of you with the gift from Otter.  It turned out to be a Grinch floor puzzle.  

We've really been having a lot of fun with Otter.  A few mornings, Mommy didn't get her self together enough to snap a picture, but regardless, Otter has brought a lot of fun to our morning routine.  

We love you, Ian!
Mommy, Daddy and Otter

Bad Mommy

Dear Ian,

I have been terrible about getting on here and posting this month.  So far December only has one lonely little letter, and we are on the 19th of the month.  In my defense, I have been running around like a crazy lady getting things ready for Christmas and sharing in the revelry of the season with you.  See, I'm not a bad mom after all; instead of writing, we've been living.  Creating the memories that I will, eventually, get down on this blog.

We've been busy little elves, you and I.  We've Christmas shopped together, watched Christmas movies snuggled up together on the couch, and gone Christmas-light touring through neighborhoods around town. 

So there's a reason for my absence, and I know it's ok.  I will be getting back into the swing of things once our school Christmas Holiday starts and once I can finally breathe a bit.

Love you much,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Otter Antics, Week Two

Dear Ian,

 It's officially been three weeks since Otter the Elf moved into our house to keep an eye on you for Santa, and he has been a busy little dude.  Like before, I took pictures of all of the crazy things we caught him doing so we can let Santa know he himself is a little naughty at times.  

 Here we found him in the chandelier over the dining room table.  We're assuming he was helping us decorate, as those lovely snowflakes weren't there before he arrived.  I guess he got stuck
putting them up for us.
 The next day we found that funny little elf at your spot at the dining room table.  He had apparently raided your closet for something to play with and found your legos.  He is quite the architect and built himself a little house of Duplos.
 This little escapade we caught him in was pretty funny.  Taking a late night joy-ride on your bee...
 Uh oh.  The morning after we put up our Christmas tree, we found Otter in it looking at all the ornaments.  He got a little close to some of Mommy's breakable ones...
 Nutty Elf.  Apparently traveling to the North Pole every night is dirty work.  Or maybe Otter just needed to warm up in this little bubble bath.  Either way, it made brushing your teeth the next morning difficult.
 Awww.  On this morning, Otter was being really sweet.  He brought you a new coloring book, and he even colored a picture for you!  How thoughtful.
 Sleepy Otter.  This morning we found him snuggled up with one of your Lovies.  Good thing you didn't mind sharing.
 Daddy thinks that this night it was too cold for Otter to go all the way to the North Pole, so he used Daddy's Ham Radio to communicate with Santa about your day.  He even has his own call sign!  KC4 ELF!
And the last picture in our weekly wrap-up:  Otter used your Montessori letters to spell out a special message to you!

Love you, Monkey!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Playing Smart

Dear Ian,

I am a toy snob.  I don't know of any other way to say it, so there it is.  I discriminate amongst toys. And I am sorta particular about the toys with which you play.  I'm going to hold my snobbish head up, nose in the air, though and proclaim that my toy-snootery is justified.  After all, you are a child, and a child's work is play.  It only makes sense to me that the tools that you work with enhance you and your learning rather than just be there.  That being said, I work hard to make sure you show appreciation for any gift you receive, therefore keeping my hoity-toity-ness on the Down Low.  But bear in mind that Daddy and I have already conferred with Santa, and we think he's on board with our idea. 

I like to look at toys and hold them against a by-gone era's standards of usability.  Namely this:  If it was around in the 1950's or looks like it could have been from the 1950's, it's probably okay.  I mean, look at this:
I'm actually sort of afraid of this thing.
Holy macaroni.  What in the world is this thing?  According to Google, it's one of the top toys of 2012.  And what in the world DOESN'T it do?  It plays music.  It plays games.  It speaks in multiple languages.  It walks, it talks...  But what does it DO?  What is it's purpose?  To your snobby Mommy, this thing does everything for you.  It does nothing TO you.  It is the perfect toy for passivity, which as the mom of a boy with seemingly limitless energy, goes against my religion.  Sure, you might learn another language.  Sure, you would probably enjoy watching it toddle up and down the floor.  But once it has demonstrated all those things, what's left?  Just a shiny, plastic robot guy who will most likely shout out random things as his batteries die.  Toy Tourrettes. 

So, we compare today's top toy with the top toys of the 1950's.  According to the magic of the internet, the top ten toys from the 1950's were Barbies, Play-doh, Frisbees, Tonka Trucks, Matchbox Cars, Yahtzee, Skateboards, Hula Hoops, Mr. Potato Head and Pez.  Shock!  Gasp!  All those toys are still around today!  They have stood the test of time!  And they are all toys that you have to use to get use out of them.  You actually have to sort of engage your brain or body to enjoy them.  And there are other toys like Legos, that came around later, but have the same sort of "feel" to them that I just love.  Not all today's toys are terrible.  Just a shocking number.  Especially with all the early childhood education experts and such out there.  Those first five years of life are so invaluable.  Then what's with the crappy toys?

They are smart, though, those toy makers.  They know that shiny sells.  Cool is King.  Anything that makes 770 noises in different languages HAS to be awesome!  But I think kids are smarter.  They know what's up.  I have heard more than one parent lament that, after all the batteries, miniscule parts and adult assembly required, their precious pearls dove headfirst into playing with the box their new fabulousness came in rather than play with the toy itself.

I am sure that you will receive in your lifetime toys that make your Daddy and I cringe.  You already have a few.  And we never keep them from you.  Those toys are in your room, on a shelf, asking you to play with them.  But you rarely do.  I think they put you into sensory overload as much as they put me into it.  Which is good.  Proof that you are actually my kid, I guess.  Now, please keep in mind that every parent and every child is different.  I am by no means advocating that every parent out there needs to be a toy b*tch like me.  This is just how I see it, and honestly how I prefer my home.  There's this level of noise that I can tolerate, and for reasons unknown, toy manufacturers theses days just HAVE to push that limit. 

So, yes.  Call me a snob.  Call me a fuddy-duddy.  But my rant is now finished, and I need to go clean up the cardboard box spaceship and building blocks that you left in the living room after playing with them rather than your noisy toys.  Ahem.  I rest my case...

The Toy Snob
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Infestation! Week One

Dear Ian,

Our home has been overtaken!  Thanksgiving has come and gone, so that means that Santa will soon be on his way.  Seeing Christmas magic through your eyes makes this season even more special for your Daddy and me, and I love coming up with new things and ideas to make that magic as real as I can for you.  Enter our new roommate.

At first, I was a little hesitant to let an elf into our home.  I mean, they are busy, often naughty little guys, and I must say, he keeps some late hours.  But, Daddy and I conferred with Santa, and we thought it would be a good idea in the end.  So, on November 17th, our new little friend joined our family.  Our first order of business was coming up with a name for our new elf friend.  You promptly decided on Otter, and just like that, he was welcomed into our home.  We gave him his very own tiny house key, and he's been able to come and go as he pleases.

So far, things with Otter have been fairly quiet.  Maybe he's just settling into a routine.  Maybe he's being nice to Mommy, since I just had surgery and all.  But regardless, Otter has brought some good, clean elvish fun into our house.  And he's actually been kinda helpful. 

On his first night at our house, he returned from his nightly visit to the North Pole to check in with Santa and decided to leave you a little note.  You were so excited to see that Otter had written your name.  And he had used your crayons!

The next night, Otter realized that you were having some trouble with one of your toys.  Since elves help Santa make a lot of the toys for Christmas, it's only fitting that he helped put your crane back together.  Here Mommy snapped a picture of Otter using your toy drill to reassemble the lifting arm on your toy crane.

The next couple of nights, Mommy was up at the hospital having surgery and recovering, so Daddy and I let Otter know where you'd be.  The first night you spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa Brooks, so Otter showed up there with a little chocolate treat.  And then, when you went to stay with Grandma and Papa Davis, he brought you and Payton a chocolate chip cookie, even though the two of you got into a secret stash of Skittles.  Wonder what Santa thought of that...

Anyhoo.  Now we are all back at home, and last night, I heard a bit of a ruckus after we had all gone to bed.  Turns out, Otter is getting a little more... comfortable... in our house.  He talked a few of your stuffed friends into a late night board game.

Here's a picture of Piglet, Tigger, Donald and Otter playing a round of The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game.  You got such a kick out of this.  It's so funny to see your reaction every morning as we got on an Otter hunt.

So, tonight, Otter is off again to the North Pole to let Santa know how you've been doing.  We'll look forward to seeing what he's up to tomorrow and sharing more magic.

I love you, Bear.
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Exercise in Thankfulness

Dear Ian,

Happy Thanksgiving!  I know the last post could have seemed a little depressing, so I split our Thanksgiving posts in two this year.

Now that you are a big three year old guy, you are grasping concepts that are a little more advanced.  This year, we decided to tackle the understanding of Thanksgiving and the meaning of thankfulness.  Mommy and Daddy sat you down and gave you the definition of thankfulness as something that makes your heart so happy that you have or something that you are able to do.  To make it more personal and tangible in your little brain, we planted a Thankful Tree in our dining room.  Well not really.  Sorta...

Mommy made a brown construction paper tree trunk, and every day we added a leaf or two to our tree.  On each leaf, we wrote down something for which we were thankful and added it to our tree.  It turned out really cute.

Here's our tree on Thanksgiving day.  As you can see, we had a lot to be thankful for.  Some of the things that you listed were... creative, but they are things that make your heart happy, so therefore they are valid. 
Some of them really make me laugh.  Especially the one where you said you were thankful for Golden Corral.  Lord.  That restaurant has become your all-time favorite.  It almost seems like it deserves a post of its own.  Note to self...  Anyhoo.  You were thankful for Daddy a couple of times, and I am thankful that I made the list of things you appreciate as well.  It was really neat to watch you really think about what you wanted to put on a leaf for the day.  Daddy and I also got into the fun and filled out a leaf or two.  You would decide every morning which of us would get the privilege, and it was good for us, too to think about for what we are grateful. 

We spent our holiday today out at Grandma and Papa's farm with them and Uncle Gary and Aunt Megan and Payton and Taylor.  I am recovering from the surgery I mentioned in the last post, so it was so very helpful of them to host us.  I did make corn casserole to take out, so I didn't feel like too much of a slacker.  We ate a ton of food, you and Daddy got to go on a hayride (no bumpy rides for Mommy for a while) and you got to practice shooting your BB gun that you got for your very first Christmas.  You actually did really well and hit the target a few times.  Daddy also took a good long while explaining safety and rules.  After it got dark, we all sat around the fire pit and roasted marshmallows, too.  It was a really nice day.
You and your paper plate target.  Four of the holes are yours!  One was Daddy's

We will get to have Thanksgiving Part Two this Sunday when Uncle Brian and Aunt Maggie come down, and we will need to do something special with Grandma and Grandpa Brooks, too.  Mommy is just moving slow as I heal, so I'm having to break up all of our Thanksgiving festivities.  We are so lucky to have such a close and loving family.  And it's one of the things for which I am most thankful.

We're so blessed, and we love you,
Mommy and Daddy

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Time to Give Thanks

Dear Ian,

Today is Thanksgiving 2012, and as always during this special time of year, we take the time to reflect on all the things for which we are thankful.  And as always, that list is started off by giving thanks for our family, you, and the friends that surround us. 

This year threw us a little bit of a curve ball health-wise, so I have to add to the list of things for which I am thankful: medical professionals and their abilities.  As far as health goes, we have had a crazy year.  It was kicked off by you being at the doctor more often than being out of it.  Your frequent, scary bouts of coughing and high fevers had us running crazy.  ER trips for croup, enough Vicks products to keep them in business for a long time and sleepless nights finally drove us to an asthma and allergy specialist, where lo and behold, we discovered your asthma.  Since we started you on medicines to help with your breathing, life around here has been so much better.  Less frequent attacks and quicker recovery time with colds are now the norm around here, and for that, I am so very thankful.  I wish that some of the meds didn't make you quite so psychotic, but at least you're able to breathe during the bouts of psycho.

Then there was Mommy.  In February I wound up in the hospital with a mad crazy headache and scary symptoms like numbness down the left side of my body and face and spotty vision.  I quite honestly thought I was having a stroke.  Thankfully, it turned out to be a migraine, but it scared the daylights out of me and your Daddy.  I was so thankful and lucky that it was all I was experiencing, but I could not shake the feeling of fear that had it been something worse, where would that have left you?  And then less than a month later, I was back in the hospital to have my appendix removed in emergency surgery.  What in the world was going on with me?!  Again, thankfully, the situation was not as bad as it could have been, and I was able to heal quickly and get back to my life taking care of you and Daddy.  And I will admit, all those scary events prompted me to make some major changes in my life.  Daddy and I started exercising more, we ate better, and in general, we tried to make our life less stressful and frantic.  But then I did it again...

In late August, I was exercising with Daddy, and we think I pulled too much weight or something, and I ended up herniating the disc between my fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae in my neck.  I didn't realize it at first; I figured I just pulled a muscle pretty badly.  So I dealt with it for a few months.  Yes, months.  Then during a routine blood sugar doctor's visit, I mentioned to my doctor that I was having this pain and nothing seemed to be helping.  He recommended an MRI, and then less than two weeks later, I was meeting with a neurosurgeon.  Apparently, I had one of the worst herniated discs he had seen in a long time.  It was so bad, that had my  "spinal column been any more narrow" the right strain or activity could have paralyzed me from the neck down.  That realization knocked the breath right out of me.  For the past two months or so, I had still been running with my class, twirling with my twirling students and picking you up and playing with you.  Yes, all that hurt, but I didn't realize what a time bomb I had become.  At first I felt irresponsible; how could I have been so clueless?  How could I have let it get to this point and jeopardize my ability to be the wife and mother that you and Daddy need me to be?  Then came the fear.  I was terrified to move.  My doctor scheduled my surgery 20 days after that first visit, and from that point on, I had to cut everything physical from my life.  No running, jumping, lifting, turning, twirling or anything else that had any kind of risk of fall or hard jolt.  And for someone like me who feels the need to be active ALL THE TIME, this was really hard.  But I knew I had to do it for you.

And so that leads us to today.  Thanksgiving day.  And two days post-surgery for me.  I am sore, but I am healing, and already I feel so much better than I have since August.  I still have a ways to go to be fully recovered, probably about a month or so, but I am so thankful to Doctor Lee and all of the other doctors that helped me get to this point.  I now have a titanium plate in my neck, so I should never have this problem again, and for that I am REALLY thankful.  But the first time I get to pick you up and snuggle you again is going to be the best. 

We are a lucky family.  Lucky to have each other, lucky to be able to get things we need taken care of addressed and lucky to have friends and family surrounding us and supporting us as we take care of all our issues.  It's very easy to be thankful, but this year is something special.

Love always,
Your now-bionic Mommy

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Fun

Dear Ian,

This autumn time of year brings out some super fun stuff for us to do as a family.  Football games, pumpkin patches, Mommy's birthday...  The opportunities for us to have a blast together seem limitless.  One of my favorites, other than my birthday, is the North Florida Fair.  And this year did not disappoint.  We took you on the night of the fall Daylight Savings Time change, in hopes that keeping you up way past your normal bedtime would help you sleep longer and adjust more quickly to the time change.  It did not, but we still had a really good time.

We got there right around dinner time, so we had a delicious (ugh) feast of fair food, complete with deep fried Oreos for dessert.  Please know that I will never again eat this "delicacy."  Nasty.  Then we wandered through the petting zoo, agricultural and community exhibits.  I dont know why, but those are my favorite. 

We played a few midway games, which culminated in you winning a goldfish, which we added to our little habitat here at the house.  And you got to ride some rides.  Sadly, since Mommy is broken (more on that later) I didn't get to ride any rides with you, but it was so much fun watching you have a blast.

 Here you are with a few animals from the petting zoo.  Above are some pygmy goats that
you really liked.  And below is a sheep.  You were so excited to pet all the animals. 
 Oh my gosh.  This thing in the pictures below.  It was like a bungee-trampoline-ey- I dont know what.  It terrified me, but MAN did you have a good time.  The weight minimum on it was 30 pounds, and fully dressed at Publix you've been hitting that milestone, so Daddy let you go on this ride.  You had so much fun bouncing away on it!
 Weeee!  So much fun!
 Daddy looking on longingly.  He really wanted to do it too, but there was a weight maximum as well as a minimum, so we watched from the sidelines.
 Again, I was hesitant to let you bounce in that "apparatus," but your smile afterwards made it all worth it.
 Here you are on one of the kids rides.  Tractors, of course.  The poor man running this ride was a saint.  Each tractor had a horn on it, so all 20 or so kids on it kept mashing the horn button.  It was enough to make a deaf person crazy.  Somehow he managed to keep it together and you had fun.
 You were very intent on driving.  And since the ride turned to the left, you kept that steering wheel trained to the left.  It was hilarious.
Getting ready to take off on the airplane ride.  You had so much fun!

You were a little disappointed that you didn't get to go on the Ferris Wheel this go 'round, but I did hear your Daddy mention something about going back again this weekend.  So, maybe, little dude.  We'll keep our fingers crossed, and Mommy will bring the camera.

Love you,