Monday, December 15, 2014

Lightning Boy

Dear Ian,

Fair warning: this will be one of THOSE letters, but I promise to get back to our normal light-hearted fun soon.

A friend posted an article today written by a mom of three boys.  (If anyone wants to read it, here it is.)  The writer lamented the comments offered to her by total strangers.  Comments like, "are you going to try for a girl?" and "good luck" muttered sarcastically are apparently common place to this poor mom, and they bother her.  I totally get that.  In slightly different way, I completely understand where she's coming from.  I, too, get unsolicited advice.

I get comments because of just you

People seem to have lost the skill of minding their own business.  Because I only have you, I unwittingly open myself up to prying questions about my life choices and fertility.  BY COMPLETE STRANGERS.  I am asked more frequently than I'd like about if I am going to have more children.  I've even had the following conversation with the check out lady in the grocery store:

Her:  Is he your only?
Me: Yup.
Her:  If it's a fertility thing, you should try Clomid.

I wasn't quite sure how to respond.  Should I be magnanimous and just thank her for her advice?  Should I offer up my legendary snark and sarcasm?  Or should I get defensive tell her to mind her own business in a more forceful way?  I ended up going with the non-committal nod, mm-hmmed and fiddled with the card swipey thingy. 

All these impertinent questions about my uterus and private life frustrate me.  Not just because what I do with my reproductive organs is no business of anyone else, but they frustrate me because when they ask those things, I feel like they aren't seeing YOU.  You're my lightning boy.  I was not expecting you.  You ended up in my heart and life by sheer luck and love and blessing.  You electrified me, lit me up, like a bolt of lightning out of the blue.  You weren't supposed to be here, and then you were.  And people don't know that.  And I guess they don't need to know it, because it shouldn't matter.  You're an awesome little man all on your own.  I stand in amazement of you, just because you are you.  Any child deserves that, really, regardless of siblings. 

I've had people question what's going to happen to you when Daddy and I pass away.  Again, total strangers.  You are blessed with cousins, friends and extended family.  Yes, I do worry about that, but I know in my heart that you, because you are strong, capable little you, will be ok.  And one day, you will have a wife and family of your own who will stand by you and support you. 

I've had people ask if I put too much pressure on you because you're my only son.  How do I answer that?  I want to push you to be your best.  I will support you in whatever you want to pursue.  I WILL pressure you to finish a commitment when you start it, but I would do that even if you had 15 siblings.  That's me teaching you perseverance, tenacity and respect for the team-mates and teachers you are working with in your commitments.  I'm not going to ask you to be more than just you.  You are enough on your own.  You will be amazing, just as you are. 

But I worry that one day you will feel these things because it seems like people will always feel the need to ask.  They will continue to interject their two cents.  So, I feel like I owe you a bit of an explanation, in the case that one day you really start to wonder and ask yourself.  Yes, I deal with infertility.  No, I did not plan for you to be an only child.  No, I probably will not have another child.  Yes, I am ok with it.  And hopefully you will be too, little boy. 

You were wanted more than you can ever imagine.  While I don't want this to ever inflate your ego, I want you to know just how loved you are.  I am one luck mommy because you are an only child.  I'm lucky because you are MY child.  My little bolt of lightning.  You even occasionally even make my hair stand on end - usually because you are making me pull it out. 

I love you so very much,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Things That Make Me Happy

Dear Ian,

In my effort to get us caught up from the long hiatus, I figured I'd write this letter to hit some of the highlights of this past year.  They are among my favorite memories, and I'm glad I had the foresight to take and save the pictures so I could write about them later.  So without any further ado, here are memories that touch my heart and make me smile.

1.  Brooks Family Spring Break Cruise - This past March, the Brooks Clan headed South again and went on a family cruise.  Uncle Kurt, Aunt Stacey, Abigail, Uncle Ryan, Aunt Andrea, Grandma and Grandpa Brooks, and us cruised the Caribbean and went to Puerto Rico, Haiti, and other awesome locales and soaked up some sun and fun.

 Here's you with a marmoset in Puerto Rico.  Yes, I hand-sanitized the bejeezus out of you afterward.
Having fun on the beach in Labadi, Haiti. 
You officially "getting" the concept of vacation.

2.  Summer trip to Cohocton - It completely thrills my heart that when asked if you could go ANYWHERE in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, you unerringly answer, "Cohocoton, New York."  Sigh.  And smile.  Even though it is probably one of the smallest towns and places in the world, Cohocton holds a huge place in your heart.  You love climbing the trees, running in the yard, picking apples, playing tractors and looking at trains.  You, Grandma Davis and I drove all the way up there at the beginning of June, and we had the very best time.  I love seeing you get back to being "all boy" and simply enjoying the simpler side of life.
 Hanging out at the Big Falls at Letchworth Park with Grandma.
 Running amok at Silver Meadows Farm (the Klines place).  You fed cows, locked us out of the car, and helped Ms. Michelle dig in her garden. 
 You and the family road sign.  Makes me smile so big.
Being "all boy" and climbing Mommy's favorite tree.

3.  Your very first piano recital - Not much makes me happier than to you singing and making music, so at the beginning of the year, we got you started in piano lessons.  You took to it really quickly, and by May, you were ready for your first recital.  You played "Monsieur Mouse" and did a great job!  You love your piano teacher, Ms. Desiree, and she is so good with you.  You're still progressing really well, and I love hearing you practice your current piece, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." 
 You and Ms. Desiree after your first recital
My little Bear at the piano.

4.  Summer Bowling turns into year-round fun - During the summer, you and I ventured to the bowling alley more than a couple of times to take advantage of the Kids Bowl Free program.  And holy cow, did we find something you love!  We typically ended up going once or twice a week, and you had a blast.  We met new friends Mr. Mike and his son Dylan, and all that practice led us to signing up for the Capital Lanes Youth League.  You now bowl every Saturday, without bumpers, with your team-mates, Dylan and Connor.  You guys are scary good, and people are impressed with how the three of you bowl.  It's so much fun to watch!  You're getting closer and closer to beating me, too, so I have had to step up my game and get in more practice.  One day, little boy.
You and your bowling team-mates, Connor (on left) and Dylan (on right)

5.  Cousin Love - Grandma Davis celebrated her 60th birthday this year, and so in her honor, we threw her a pretty awesome birthday party.  The best part?  All of the Davis grandbabies were in the same place at the same time.  Nothing makes me happier than to see you with your cousins.  You are a lucky boy in that you have three cousins on your Davis side and one cousin on your Brooks side.  Family is so important, and I am thrilled with the fact that you are all so close in age and will grow up together.  For Grandma's birthday, though, we managed to wrangle all the Davis grands, in matching outfits, with half-way decent moods and get pictures of the whole shebang:
Nole, Payton, Taylor and You - entirely too much cuteness in one place.  But I'm biased.

6.  Fifth Birthday Festivities - Holy cow kid.  You're FIVE!!  I will set aside time to write an official fifth birthday post, but for now, a brief synopsis will suffice.  You decided on a Halloween themed birthday party, and it was a blast.  Kids came dressed in costume, and we had hay rides, fun foods and more candy than should be allowed with small children.  I made your costume again this year; you requested a knight costume, and I think it turned out pretty well.  Then to keep the celebration rolling, we took you to Disney for a weekend of the Happiest Place on Earth.  Again, it's worth a post of its own, so I will have to get it together and get that done.  It was so much fun, and you had a complete blast riding roller coasters and experiencing Disney.  
 I love this picture from our Disney weekend.  You, completely sacked out after a day of fun, with Mickey Mouse.
You in your knight costume.  Love that smile.

7.  Christmas Spirit - And now here we are at the present.  We're getting geared up for Christmas, and I was lucky to have your help in decorating.  We put up the tree, complete with your Christmas train, hung stockings and set up your own special tree.  We started that tradition a couple of years ago: you amassed quite a collection of ornaments and decorations that you made in school, and I wanted to display them in a special way.  So, we put up a small tree in the front hallway and dubbed it "Ian's Tree."  All of your special hand-made ornaments are on that tree, and it looks so pretty.  You're very proud of it.
You and your tree peeking through the front screen.

All of these little memories are locked away in my heart and mind, and I am so glad I finally sat down and shared them with you.  I hope one day you will be able to look back at them and smile, too. 

You always make my heart smile, Little Bear.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Field Trippin'

Dear Ian,

This year is your last year at Advent, as you are now a big pre-kindergarten kid.  I am not entirely sure how that happened, since I swear you just turned one last week, but as usual, I'm getting sappy and far away from the point.  Back to topic.

Yup, this year you in Ms. Nancy's class.  The same big-kid class I had been teaching in for the last three years.  I'm now working in a different room, and you've taken my spot.  And I must say, it's weird being on the parent side of the curriculum.  I've seen a lot of the projects; I know a lot of the topics.  Ms. Nancy (and Ms. Katie) is awesome, and I am so thrilled to have you in her class.  The pre-k class offers new challenges and topics and new experiences.  One of those experiences is the opportunity for field trips, and you got to go on your very first one recently! 

Your class, in preparation for Thanksgiving and such, had been learning all about Native Americans, so Ms. Nancy arranged for all of you to go to the Lake Jackson Indian Mounds.  Like I said, having been in the room for a bit, this was actually my fourth time to attend this field trip, but this time I did it as a Mommy!  And it was a lot of fun! 

Here are some pictures from your very first field trip:

You paying attention to Ms. Nancy.  That was nice to see...
Your class with your teachers, Ms. Nancy and Ms. Katie

Having a picnic snack

On a nature hike. 
I had a really good time getting to see you interact with your teachers and the other kids in your class.  And I am really looking forward to the next adventure! 

Love you bunches!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When I Grow Up

Dear Ian,

It's been a long time since my last letter, Baby Bear, and for that I apologize.  I hope this one sort of  clears up why in a roundabout sort of way.  2014 has been an interesting year, and not to sound melodramatic, but I am just about over it; I'm ready for the new year, even though I know it won't really give me a clean slate, because even the number 2014 officially irritates me.  It's brought too many changes, and as I'm sure you know by now, your Momma prefers things nice and orderly.  Under control.  Without all this craziness we've been dealing with.  Your Daddy's job changed, and he's gone a lot, my work has changed a bit, our family dynamic changed and you turned five recently.  Your fourth and fifth year, even though number five just started, proved to be more of a challenge than I expected.  You're working on growing up and questioning everything.  You're too much like me, and that terrifies and thrills me.

It's this growing up stuff that led me to this letter.  This blog is full of letters to you about you growing up.  It chronicles your development, contains funny little anecdotes and highlights the best parts of you.  It's my way of looking back to see how much you've changed and grown.  I'm learning a lot about growing up.  When I ask you what you want to be, I get awesome answers.  One day you want to be a tractor driver, then the next you want to be a man who wears a suit.  There are some days when you want to be a Gator football player just to spite me.  I love the fact that your answers are simple and based on what makes you happy at that moment.  The freshness of it is heartwarming.  I, however, am dealing with the less fun side of growing up.  I'm realizing it's more of a case of what you need to be rather than want. 

I'm learning that as I grow up, I need to be flexible.  This has been a hard lesson for me.  I typically choose a path and follow it.  Things are ordered and almost predictable.  I was comfortable and secure, because I knew I could count on what was coming next.  That, unfortunately, is not Real Life.  And it feels like Real Life has taken off its shoe and beaten me with it a couple of times.  I'm sorta standing wondering what in the world happened.  And little boy, I swear you've recognized this and are trying to make me nuts on top of it. 

But I'm learning.  I'm learning to bend.  Normally I see things in black and white - really had no use for gray.  Now I think gray is a pretty rockin' color.  I'm letting shit go.  And yes, I just typed the word shit.  Guess what, Bear?  Momma swears occasionally, and it's ok.  I'm learning there is strength in being flexible, because by being able to pick and choose rather than follow a path, I have even more control.  I'm learning to take care of me, which feels like a completely foreign concept, now that you're growing up and needing me a little less.  I'm having fun getting back to the things that make me happy, versus just moving along and doing what needs to be done.  Stuff is still getting done, but I'm pacing it out.  Or trying to, anyway.  Learning means I backtrack a little, but the fact that I can recognize it makes me happy. 

Writing to you again is one step.  I've missed these little one-sided conversations, and even though it will be a LONG time until you're able to read and appreciate them (they are printed and bound in books now, with the exception of this letter.  Pretty awesome, right?!), just writing them again makes me feel better.  I want to be able to look back and see both of our progress. (And I really need to get your art posted again.  I've created that fire-hazard stack of pictures that I didn't want to have).   I'm in love with watching you grow up, and even though I don't want that to happen any faster than it needs to, I am still ready for this year to end.   I am ready to take the new, flexible Karen out for a spin in a new year and see what happens.  And as I grow up, I hope that I'm able to show you by my actions what you need to be when you grow up.  That way you can learn how to focus on what you want.  Go get 'em, Bear.

I love you more than words,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Better Late Than Never

Dear Ian,

Yes, I am WAY behind.  I realized today, January 29th, that I never posted about Christmas.  I am aware that Christmas takes place on the 25th of December.  It has occurred to me that I am now over a month behind on this post.  BUT!  As the title says, I'm better late than never.  So here goes...

This Christmas has got to go down as one of my very favorite Christmases ever.  You are at such a magical age.  Santa is real and alive in your life, you understand the spirit of giving, and you are more aware that a special miracle happened on Christmas all those many years ago. 

Our Christmas festivities took place like normal.  On Christmas Eve, we went to Grandma and Grandpa Brooks' house for a fun party.  Then we trucked on out to Grandma and Papa Davis' house for meatball subs and more fun with family.  You know?  I think pictures would explain more than I can with words.

 At Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We had our Christmas with them early, since Uncle Kurt, Aunt Stacey and Abigail were traveling for the actual holiday.  You and your stocking :)
Building Legos with Uncle Ryan.  Not really sure who is having more fun!
 This is one of my very favorite pictures from this Christmas.  You and all of your Davis side cousins.  Payton, Taylor and Nole!  It was so much fun having everyone home for Christmas . 
 Grandma and Papa Davis with all of their grands!  Christmas Eve was a blast.  Between the party at the Brooks' and meatball subs at the Davis', we were completely stuffed! 
 Then we came home put out reindeer food for Santa and his reindeer. 
 Sprinkling reindeer food. 
 Cant forget a treat for Santa and his reindeer!  We left Santa our awesome traditional Christmas cookies, and we left a carrot for the reindeer. 
 Santa came!  This photo makes me smile.  I knew that all of those special gifts would make you so very happy! 
Our pretty tree!
Finally it was Christmas morning!  As per our family tradition, you got up early and made your bed.  This is something that Grandma and Papa Davis taught me and Uncle Gary and Uncle Brian to do before we could open presents.  Grandma said it was because you needed a place to put your gifts after you opened them, but I think it was their way of keeping us in our rooms for about four minutes longer.
Here you come down the stairs!  I love this part of Christmas morning.
Sweet Little Bear, Christmas morning 2013.  You got a bunch of neat stuff in your stocking this year.  Stuff like Lego figures, a jump rope, and even wind up chatter teeth filled your stocking this year.  
 Your biggest and most favorite gift this year was your big boy bike.  This was really the only thing you asked for all Christmas, and your smile totally showed how happy you were to receive it. 
And you had to try it out right away!  
 After we opened our gifts at home, we packed up our sleigh with gifts for the rest of our family and headed back out to Grandma and Papa's house.  Chaos, presents and lasagna ensued!  Here's a picture of Payton and Taylor helping to pass out gifts.  There was a lot of craziness going on! 
 Sweet you and Papa.  I love this picture. 
 Here's a photo of the present wrapping madness!  I know I said it before, but it made my heart so happy to have both of my brothers and their families all here for Christmas.  It really made the day special.  And having Grandma and Grandpa Brooks and Daddy's brothers and their families here made it awesome, too.  We are so very lucky. 
After all of the presents and a yummy dinner of lasagna, you headed back out to ride your bike.  I think you are completely thrilled with your bike, and I love this picture.  Off you go!  My big boy!

So that, in pictures was our Christmas 2013.  It was a great day, and I'm sad it's gone.  But waiting so long to write this post sort of brought back some of that Christmas spirit and love.  And I guess maybe my procrastinating self realized I needed that reminder of Christmas spirit.  

In any case, better late than never!  
Merry Belated Christmas, Bear!