Saturday, November 30, 2013

Otter Antics, Week Two 2013

Dear Ian,

Well, he's back and in full swing.  That crazy elf of yours has been all over, keeping watch over you and getting into tons of mischief.  Some of the situations he's been in have pretty fun, and it's been great to hear you laughing as you find him each morning.  Here's what's been happening over the past week:
 Crazy elf.  We found him one morning stuck in a toilet paper tube and rolled down the stairs.  We weren't sure if this was an accident or on purpose...
 The next morning, we found that Otter had been busy during the night.  He cut a bunch of paper strips and put up a countdown paper chain, showing the days left until Christmas.
He sure knows us.  We make paper chains for EVERYTHING!
On Tuesday, we found him hugging our turkey.  Thanksgiving was coming up, so I guess he was showing his love for the holiday.
Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and Otter decided to contribute to our thankful tree by making a leaf.  He wrote that he was thankful for you!
On Thanksgiving morning we found Otter having his own little feast.  Turkey, corn on the cob, pie, mashed potatoes and a roll.  Yummmm
On Friday we found Otter playing Bubble Pop on Mommy's cell phone, but I really needed it that day so when we weren't looking Otter moved to the bowl of tangerines and clementines to keep an eye on you.
And that brings us to today.  Otter left you a letter to fill out for Santa.  He also must really like the tree you painted the other day at Firefly Pottery.  He was giving it a big hug!
Here he is hugging your tree...
... and here is your completed letter to Santa.  We went to Macy's later that morning to put it in the big mailbox to Santa, but we'll write more about that later on.

Looking forward to seeing what that silly elf is up to tomorrow!

Love always,


Dear Ian,

This letter starts with us all recovering from an awesome turkey hangover (may you not understand the meaning of hangover until well past your twenties), and we had a great Thanksgiving celebrating our blessings with our family.

This year we kicked off Thanksgiving with breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa Brooks.  They were off that afternoon to eat turkey with Aunt Andrea and Uncle Ryan and the Dawkins family, so they met us early in the morning for breakfast casserole and orange sticky buns.  It was a nice way to start the day.  Then later that afternoon, we all trekked out to Grandma and Papa Davis' house for turkey and fixin's.  Yes, fixin's.  It was a great day, and we have so much for which to be thankful.  Here are pictures from our Thanksgiving 2013:

 Here's our table all set for breakfast.  You traced your hands to make hand print turkey place cards.  They were pretty cute!
Our breakfast casserole all ready to be devoured.
 The table with all the fixins at Grandma and Papa Davis' house.  I can practically smell this picture, and it makes me hungry all over again.
 Papa carving the turkey bird.
Hooray!!  We officially have a kids table.  So cute. You, Payton and Taylor all eating your feast.
 After filling your bellies, you and Pay headed outside for some fall fun.  And Papa got part of the yard raked.
Jumping into the leaves.  Love this action shot.
 And no trip to the farm is complete without a hay ride.  Here we are on the trailer.  Happy family.

We had a great Thanksgiving, but since there weren't enough leftovers to pack up, we had our own Thanksgiving part two the next day.
 Daddy carving our turkey bird.
You waiting on food.  

What a great day of family and food and fun.  We are so very blessed, and you can bet your buttons that I am thankful for our family every day, not just Thanksgiving. 

I love you, Buddy!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

He's Back! Otter Antics 2013 - Week One

Dear Ian,

With Daddy being out of town last week and you deciding to go all Linda Blair Exorcist behavior on me, I chose to bring in some reinforcements.  I dunno.  It was like you sensed vulnerability in the air since I was on my own and doing the single parent thing.  Well, Mommy outsmarted her little boy and fought fire with fire.

The end of this week heralded the reappearance of our beloved scout elf, Otter.  Straight from the North Pole, he's back to help monitor and report your behavior for Santa.  I must say, it has worked pretty well.  It was like you flipped a switch.  And when you did have a lapse, all I had to do was look at Otter, and you'd get your little self back under control.

Bribery?  Heck yes.  But I prefer to term it "external regulator."  You have an outside motivation to keep your self in check.  And Otter isn't all about teaching you to modify your behavior as a means to a selfish end - presents.  We also use our elf to teach empathy and kindness, as you'll see in one of our pictures.  And he's also great for a morning game of hide-and-seek or eye-spy.

With that introduction, here's what our little intrepid elf has been up to this week:

Otter had a little work done while he was away from our house this summer.  He had some wire implants added, so that way he could be a little more bendy.  Now he can get into all kinds of trouble!
Otter arrived on a Thursday, and he came with a bit of a warning.  You had been having a bit of a doozy of a week, so he brought you some coal from the North Pole to show you what it was and how little fun it would be to get a stocking full of it on Christmas Day.
Friday morning, we woke up to Otter leading a parade of all your tractors.  He seemed to be having a good time!  That morning kicked off the roughest day we had of the whole week, what with the "I hate you" and all.  Otter disappeared after nap and he didn't come back until the next morning at Grandma and Grandpa Brooks' house.  I think he was giving you another chance to get yourself together.  Friday afternoon you were good as gold, and Grandma and Grandpa gave you a glowing report, too, so Otter showed up at their house Saturday morning after your sleepover.  He was playing with their Legos!  That crazy elf.

Today is Sunday, and when we woke up we found Otter had left us some work to do:
He brought you a big box and on it was a note explaining that although Santa makes a TON of toys every year, there are still some families where the Moms and Dads struggle to give their children gifts at Christmas.  Otter and Santa asked you to find toys in your room that you no longer play with and put them in this box.  Mommy and Daddy have been given instructions as to what to do with the box and where to take it.  You were so excited to help.  We went right up to your room after breakfast, and you got started!  You were genuinely interested in helping others, which is a quality that I want to instill in you.  Seeing you so eager to share what you have with others who could really benefit from it made my heart smile.  You donated puzzles you've outgrown, stuffed animals, a bunch of clothes, and a couple of baby board books.  I was so proud of your generosity.

So tomorrow is Monday, and I know that Otter will be up to something fun while we are all snoozing away.  I can't wait to hear your excited voice as you find him and discover his newest antic.  I am having a total blast with this!

Love you always,

Friday, November 22, 2013

Three Little Words

Dear Ian,

Well, at four years and one month old, it has happened.  You uttered the three words that I knew, one day, would be coming.  Expecting them and being prepared for them are two distinctly different things, and I will be honest and say that even though I knew it would one day happen, nothing is like the kick-in-the-gut sensation of hearing you say it.

"I hate you."

I expected it at maybe seven years old.  I clung to the hope that I would never hear it; maybe you'd just whisper it in your room in your teenage years.  I could remain blissfully unaware, but you'd have your little vent-fest.  Nope.  You are the tender age of 49 months old, and it has officially happened.  

What would spawn such a sentence?  Well, in this particular instance, it was the directive to go upstairs and get your clothes.  World rocking, I know.  You refused and whined and had a hissy fit, so I firmly announced that afternoon TV privileges were hereby revoked, and I sent you to your
 room for both your clothes and some time-out.  As you stomped up the stairs, you looked over your shoulder and fired the big guns.  

On the outside, I acted as if I had no reaction.  I simply replied, "I'm sure you do.  But I'm the mommy, and my directions are to be followed."  On the inside I wanted to just lose my mind.  What?!  You hate me?!  I beg your pardon.  I am Mommy.  I loved you while you turned my body into your own little parasitic host world.  I have spent hours thinking of fun things for us to do.  I've spent hours playing trains, reading books, wiping your behind and generally being your biggest cheerleader for the past four-plus years.  How in the world could you hate me?!  

Yes, yes.  I know.  It's your job to hate me.  And it's my job to occasionally make you hate me.  I am Mommy.  Maker of rules, taker of privileges.  It is my sworn duty to make sure you grow up to be a kind, productive, tolerable member of society.  But lately you've been acting like everything but.  The child who could say please and thank you before he was two is now a demanding, negotiating whine-ball.  Are you over-indulged?  Is it too much TV?  Is it inconsistency on my part?  I don't think so, but maybe there could be some improvement work done here.  Is it just you being four?  Probably.  Most definitely. 

So, on one hand, maybe your little announcement was proof positive that I am doing my job.  But man, it officially sucks.  I honestly am thinking about early retirement from this Mommy-ing thing.  I cant let you see it, but hearing those words really rocked me.  And the fact that it happened before 7am was just salt in an already hacked open wound.  There must have been a whole lotta rage in your little body for you to declare that you hate me when we had been in each other's presence for exactly 14 minutes.  

You did serve your time in your room, and you did put your clothes on your body, so I did win a little battle in our Mommy-Ian War of Wills this morning.  But you also leveled a blow that will have me thinking about it all day, even if I cant show it.  Hopefully it will be one of those "the first time is always the worst" sort of things, because I'm sure this wont be the last time I hear it.  If I'm doing my job correctly and all.  

But man, what a way to start a morning.

I love you anyway,

*Note:  Daddy is currently out of town for work, so he was able to avoid all of this drama.  I am insanely jealous of his safe distance from the blast zone. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Growing Thankfulness

Dear Ian,

This year is just zipping by, and we find ourselves eight days from Thanksgiving.  To help you get in the spirit of the season, we have again created our Thankful Tree.  Every day, we add a leaf to the tree on which we write something for which we are thankful.  A lot of your thankful items are typical of a four-year-old boy; you are very thankful for your toys and such.  But then some are really sweet, like the leaf when you said you were thankful for your Mommy and Daddy.  Then there are the funny ones; you are thankful for Massey-Ferguson tractors, Papa's tractors, and things like that.

Regardless of whether your answers are funny or serious, you are beginning to understand that there is so much for which we can be thankful.  We are quite fortunate, and when you see the number of leaves "growing" on our tree, you start to grasp just how lucky we are. 

I love to see your appreciation grow, and I look forward to your leaf responses every morning.  And our tree provides some great Thanksgiving decorations, too! 

I am so thankful for you and for your Daddy.  I am one lucky Mommy!

Love you much, Bear!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spooky Sweet

Dear Ian,

Well, I'm almost caught up to the end of October.  Next, and last, up is Halloween.  Last year you presented me with a costume challenge when you asked to be a tractor.  We pulled it off, and I waited with bated breath for what you were going to challenge me with this year. 

I was not let down. 

Sweet boy, I absolutely love to watch your brain and imagination at work.  There are moments when I wonder just what is going on in that little mind of yours.  This year's costume request was just as much of a challenge as last year'; you asked to be a solar system.  Yes, you read that right.  And one day when you are older and reading these letters on your own, maybe even asking your own child what he or she wants to be for Halloween, I hope you smile when you see just how we made this little request come to life.

Creating the sun's rays.
Thankfully you were able to help create your little costume.  And in all honesty, I didn't do a whole heck of a lot.  Just some gluing, ironing and sewing.  You painted all of the planets to create your solar system, and you cut out all of the rays for your sun hat.  Then, I went to work on Amazon looking for a black jacket.  You see, you wanted your planets to orbit around you, so we figured them hanging from your arms would be the easiest way to do that.  And then I figured a jacket would make taking it off and putting it back on much easier than trying to pull the whole universe over your head.  Yes your old mom occasionally has a good idea. 

painting a planet
So anyhoo...  Amazon shopping.  I managed to find a black hoodie, and then we went to Jo Ann Fabrics and bought a bunch of iron on star patches.  And I even found a little alien.  I couldn't resist.  We also found a foam visor that you wore upside down that we could glue your sun rays to to turn you into the sun.  Worked out pretty well.  Then came the hanging of the planets, which turned out to be easier to do than I originally thought.  Thanks to some black ribbon, push pins, hot glue and thread, you were quickly turning into the sun being orbited by planets.  The end result was pretty dang super, and you were so incredibly pleased with your little solar system. 

Like last year, your class got to dress up and parade around the school courtyard for the parents and younger classes.  Your teachers, either by genius planning or sheer awesome coincidence, lined you up in front of a little boy named Jonathan dressed as an astronaut.  That was pretty hilarious.  Since I was parading with my own class of costumed kiddos, Daddy got to go and watch, and thankfully he and Ms. Patti got some good pictures of you all dressed up.
 My little solar system, parading around the courtyard.
You and astronaut Jonathan.  After school that day, you told me in the car on the way home that he was an astronaut "all up in your space."  I don't know if you intended to be that funny, but it was dang hilarious to me.
Your class all decked out in costumes

you with your costume contest prize
 That afternoon, before trick or treating, we found out that Publix was having a costume party.  We needed to go to the grocery store anyway to get paper plates and stuff for dinner that night, so we joined in the revelry.  You ended up winning in your four to seven year old age group!  Your prize?  You won a cake and a gift card to Toys R Us!  You were so excited with your dessert, and Mommy was thrilled about that gift card.  Can we say Christmas shopping help?! 

After the Publix costume contest, it was time to get home and get ready to run around taking candy from strangers.  This Halloween was super special in that four of your five cousins went trick or treating with us.  Uncle Brian, Aunt Maggie and Nole were in town from Atlanta for the FSU game and Uncle Brian's birthday, so they came over to the house.  Uncle Gary, Aunt Megan, Payton and Taylor came over again like last year, and so did Grandma and Papa Davis.  We ordered Chinese food, but apparently so did all of Tallahassee, so it took a bit to get to the house.  We used that time to start our trick or treating rounds.  You managed to trick or treat all the way down our main neighborhood street, both up and back, and one side street before you decided that you had had enough.  Buy that point, you were hungry, tired and hot.  And as you were about to melt down, we saw the Chinese Food Delivery Person drive down the street.  Yup.  It was time to be finished. 
 I loved watching my little Solar System trick or treating.  Sigh.  On the years where your costume contained something warm, Tallahassee weather decides to throw us a random heat moment.  For example, your first Halloween costume was a little candy corn bunting made out of felt.  Temperature?  80 degrees.  your next costume was a little viking baby john john turned dress.  Not a lot to it.  The temperature?  50something.  Then this year you had a jacket, and it was in the 70s again.  I'm sorry Bear.  One of these years we will get it right.  Uncle Gary and Payton and Taylor were the Smurfs this year, and Nole was a monster.  His costume was pretty warm too.  But he was adorable, just the same.  Pay and Tay were painted blue for their costumes, and poor Uncle Gary got called everything from Santa Claus to the Travelocity gnome.  Everything but the Papa Smurf he was intending to be.  It was actually quite funny.  Well, to us it was funny.  Not sure about Uncle Gary thinking it was funny.  Here are some more pictures from our Halloween trick or treating adventures:

Santa, I mean, the gnome, I mean Papa Smurf with Baby Smurf and Smurfette.
 Nole the Monster.
 You and some of Viking Daddy as you trick or treated from house to house.
 You and Pay getting treats!
The boys hanging out on the couch with lollypops and It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!  This was after you filled your belly with lo mien noodles.  Much happier man...

Happy Halloween, Bear!  Can't wait for next year!

Love always,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Birthday Bash, Part Two

Dear Ian,

After that last post about all the cool stuff we did for your birthday trip, you'd think that would be enough, right?  Well, actually, after all that, we still had an awesome tractor themed fourth birthday party for you.  For the fourth straight year, we were lucky enough with the weather to have a perfect day for an outdoor party.  You had a ton of friends come, and we played in the hay, rode on a hay ride and fed the animals.  It was just about as perfect as you could want.  And yes, as always, I took a ton and a half photos. 

Friends that attended were:  Spencer, Ella, Jonathan, Libby, Finn, Ben, Julia, Graham, Chase, Tyler, Payton, Taylor, Issa, Lydia and Lorelei.  Your baby sitters Ms. Kallie and Ms. Halie also came, as well as Uncle Ryan, Aunt Andrea, Uncle Gary, Aunt Megan, Grandpa Brooks, Grandma and Papa Davis and all the moms and dads of your friends.  You had a great turn it.  It was a great day!

 We held your party at Grandma and Papa's house, which was super convenient with all that space and all those tractors.
 The Baum Ridge sign with John Deere balloons.
And the Power King got all dressed up, too!
 Papa's new tractor crossing sign.  Got here just in time for your party, too.
 Your annual birthday banner and the food table.
 I love how this year's banner turned out.
 Tractors and corn.  And balloons.  I had a blast decorating for this party.
 Party favors and presents.
 I took apart a bale of hay and hid candy, bubbles and stickers in it.  You and your friends had fun digging in the hay for prizes.
A fleet of tractors to play with.
Ready for the guests!

Our driveway. I remember when Papa planted those trees.
 You and Papa on the 40 by his new sign.

 Party favors, and your awesome birthday portrait, courtesy of Ms. Dina.
 John Deere cups for party favors.
 Food!  Hay bales :)
 and tractor tires.
Every farm worth its salt has a veggie garden and fruit stand.
 You in front of the food table and with your banner.
 Some of your friends and their parents on a hay ride.
Hay riding! 
 More friends, and more hay riding!
Papa did a great job with the hay rides!
 Some of your friends and you and I and Daddy opening a present.
 Opening a present.
Friends having fun.
You and your cousin Taylor riding on a trike.
 Friends looking for prizes in the hay.
 More friends in the hay.
 So much fun!
 You and Payton.
Play dough party favors. You and I made the play dough.
 You and your birthday cookie cake.  They did a great job on your tractor!
Singing happy birthday! 
This has to be one of my favorite pictures of the day.  We've known these kiddos since birth, and it's been so neat to watch you all grown up.  Now you're all big four year olds.  It's amazing how time has passed so quickly!

Using that photo, I made this:
I love these sweet faces.  

All in all, it was a great day.  And I hope it's a birthday you will remember for always.  I know I will.

Love you so much,