Thursday, December 31, 2015


Dear Ian,

Time seems to be running so much faster as of late.  Just a minute ago, I blinked and you were turning six.  Blink again, and now it's New Year's Eve.  A lot has happened since October, and I'm proud to say that we've been so busy filling the days with fun and memories that I haven't had much time to write.  But here we are now, and I finally have a second to breathe (or I am forgetting at least 400 things I should be doing), so I am going to take that time to write to you.

Bear's First Report Card
The end of October also brought the end of your first nine weeks of school, and that means report cards! You are loving your school, and the academic changes in you are incredible.  You are now reading practically everything you can get your hands on, and your math skills are blowing me out of the water. Your first report card was a really good one, and I am so proud of you.  Your teachers are a great fit for you, and I am so very happy with your progress.  They are bringing out the best in you!  One funny note about school is your Spanish Special Area class.  It is an immersion class, so your teacher only speaks to you in Spanish.  You have admitted to me that it's your least favorite Special Area, because you "don't understand one word of what is going on."  Haha!  It's neat to see how much you're learning, even if you think you don't enjoy it; you have actually spoken to me in Spanish a couple of times.  PE is your favorite special area, and you've have become really good friends with Kyle.  He has introduced you to the world of Pokemon, which is one thing this Mama knows nothing about.  But as usual, you've decided to teach me, so now I am listening to long conversations about weaknesses, hit points and how some are legendary.  I have no idea...

teaching a parent about smells
The end of the nine weeks also brought the end of a themed unit, namely The Five Senses, so you also got to present your first showcase.  These are really neat, and I remember doing them with my class when I was teaching at SAS.  The students create presentations that teach the theme, and the whole school and parents and families are invited to come to the classroom and learn about the theme from you.  Your part of the Five Senses theme was the sense of smell.  Your group created a painting with scented paints, and you explained the different fragrances to the parents and other children that came to view the showcase.  You also had a "smell test" where cotton balls had different fragrances, and people that took the test had to write down the smell on a worksheet you created.  It was a lot of fun to watch you teach and explain the theme and process.
You with your "smell painting"

Fall also brought around your first elementary school portraits, too, and yours is great!  We tried so hard to get your hair to cooperate for picture day, but alas...  You bounced into the car after school that day and
announced that your allotted portrait time came after recess and P.E.  So I just knew we were in for a doozy, and boy was it worth the wait.  They are still super cute, but your hair...  It has a mind of its own.  Maybe one of these days we will bend it to our will.  We ordered portraits for all the grands, and of course we have one in our house.  I can't get over how grown up you look, especially with those missing teeth.  Where in the world did my baby go?

And speaking of looking for my missing baby, we cant mention October and fall without holidays and birthdays!

On your actual birthday - and I will hopefully post about your party in a bit - I picked you up from school, and you and I made our annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch.  Grandma and Papa Davis also brought you special pumpkins from Cohocton, but there's something about taking you to pick one out.  I guess it reminds me of all the past years we've done this, and in my minds eye, I can picture little almost one-year-old you toddling around all those pumpkins.  It really shows me how much you've grown.  And here I go getting all sappy again.  Anyway... here you are!  My big six year old and the pumpkin patch:
I am thrilled to say that you even participated in the carving of this year's pumpkins.  You aren't wild about the scooping of the guts, but with the help of those snazzy little carving kits, you really got into it this year, figuratively and literally. 
Here you are creating your design.
Judging by your face, you still aren't wild about the scooping part.  But you did it!
Our finished product!
For Halloween this year, you opted to dress up as Charlie Brown, and after years of costumes like tractors and the solar system, I sure breathed a sigh of relief when you finally made your costuming choice.  This year's costume was a breeze!  We found you a yellow polo shirt and some black shorts, and combined with some yellow socks, brown man-shoes and some felt, we turned you into a pretty adorable Charlie Brown.  We also were lucky in that we had friends trick or treat with us.  Your daddy was in Europe again, so it was nice to have company with which to roam the neighborhood.  Amanda Saltsman, a friend and fellow twirling coach of Mommy's and her family came, and so did the Liedys.  It was a lot of fun, but as usual, you were pretty much done with it after a bit.  We introduced our pals to our Halloween tradition of Chinese food take out before trick or treating, and it was a really fun night.  
 It's my great pumpkin!  

Fall and the beginning of winter also brought us a new interest and activity for you.  You still enjoy bowling, and you're still pretty dang good at it, but you decided that you wanted to give soccer a try.   I have to heave a sigh here, because I thought I had done my soccer-field-penance; with both Uncle Gary and Uncle Brian being soccer players, I spent a good share of my time at The Meadows for practice.  Or schools for games.  Or just standing in the front yard as goalie - which I might add, I was not so good at playing.  But because you are my boy, and I would do absolutely anything for you, this is now my Saturday morning:
You are now a member of the Gunners soccer team, and funny enough, your coach is a father of a child I taught last year.  I have their daughter this year as well.  But yeah.  Soccer.  I have re-entered a world of smelly cleats and socks, a car-full of grass and dirt, and I am actually secretly thrilled.  It makes you happy.  And you get to spend time talking soccer with Uncle Gary and Uncle Brian. Uncle Gary even came to one of your practices recently and hacked around with you afterward.  That was kinda neat to watch.  You practice on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and your Grandma Davis - being the professional soccer player taxi that she is - takes you to practice on Tuesdays since I have lessons.  Your first game is coming up soon, and I am SO excited for you.  Need to hop on Amazon and get you some shorts, now that I'm thinking on it, but that can hang on a sec. 

I think that about wraps up the year, except for Christmas, which again, needs its own letter.  And it's going to be a good one.  2015 has been an interesting year, and I can only imagine what this next year will bring.  I'm one lucky mommy that I get to share it all with you.

Love you bunches, Little Bear.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Hands

Dear Ian,

Two hands worth of birthdays.  Wow
 Today is your sixth birthday.  At this very moment, six years ago, I was laying in a hospital bed, holding you and staring at your little face wondering about the person you would become.  Tonight, I looked at your face, less baby and more and more big kid every second, and I had the same thought.

You're well on your way to being grown up.  Your age now takes up two hands worth of fingers!  But more importantly than the number, you're turning in to an amazing boy.  You are funny, smart, and so much your own little person.  There are moments still when I stop and my breath catches because I simply can't believe you're mine.  And I am so proud of the young man into which you are growing.

Today I got to visit your classroom, share a special birthday lunch and snack with you and your classmates and spend some time hanging out in your room. Since it was your birthday, you got to
In the teacher's chair as your friends tell you all about you
sit up in the front of the room in the "teacher chair," and your friends were able to raise their hand and say something complimentary about you.  There were some sweet comments about how you're a good soccer player and how your friends are glad they get to play with you, and then there were some truly heart-touching, to this mom anyway, moments.  One little girl in your class said that she really liked how you try your best at things, and yet another classmate said that they really liked how you helped others who were hurting.  More than one classmate said you were very kind, and a couple mentioned that you were a good friend. 

Your teacher called you kind and thoughtful and willing to play and work with everyone.  She also said that you were a dedicated student and a good role model to the others in your class.  This made my heart feel so full, and it was in that moment, as I stood there trying not to get all teary eyed, that I realized exactly what I hoped and wished for that little tiny baby I held on October 19, 2009.  I saw a world of potential in that new-born face.  Would you grow up to be successful in your work?  Would you one day discover something amazing?  You have the whole world ahead of you.  But I realize now, that more than anything spectacular that I may wish for you, my biggest hope and dream is that you are just a good person.  I want you to be a friend to many and a beacon for others.  I want for you to be confident and happy.  And after hearing what your classmates had to say, and after all I've seen and heard from you during the last six years, I feel like I just might be doing something right.  You're well on your way, and I couldn't be more proud.

Happy birthday to you, my boy.  Words can't express how much I love you, but know that it is with ALL of my heart,
Your Mommy

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lunch Box Notes

Dear Ian,

The sole purpose of this blog is to record and remind you of memories of your childhood and family history.  I've written about crazy family moments, brought back memories of my own childhood and turned this into basically an expanded "baby book" to record your firsts and experiences.

But I'm curious to fast forward and know this: what exactly will YOU remember on your own?  What memories will stick like glue in your head and heart that you will pass on to your own children?  Will it be something I've written about here, or will it be something that I considered maybe a little insignificant yet really made an impression on you?

Our day to day life is filled with little sweet moments; I can't write about all of them, and I won't subject the people that read this blog (isn't THAT a hoot...  other people actually read this stuff!) to all of our sappy minutiae. Will it be one of those little moments that means the most to you?

your lunch for your first day of school.  complete with note...
The other day, you said something to me that made me stop and realize the importance of those little seemingly ordinary moments.  I have a habit of putting little notes in your lunch box.  I've done it since your very first day - yet not every day - of school, and I figured you just looked at it and then tossed it aside.  You know, "that nutty mom" style.  Until one Thursday morning you asked me why I hadn't put one in your lunch in a couple of days.  I honestly didn't know how many days I had gone without your note, but you did.  My last note, according to you, was on Monday.  And here it was three days later.  I said something along the lines of not realizing it, and you responded with, "But I really like it Momma.  It makes me feel your love. You're thinking of me."

That simple sentence floored me.  And it touched my heart.  I told you that I was so glad that you liked them, because that was the whole reason I did them; I wanted you to know I was thinking of you.  It's nice to know that someone you love is thinking of you.  And sometimes a note in a lunch box is all you need to help you get through a rough day. 

And then I sat down to lunch that day with the children in my class and found this:
I was so surprised and touched to see my very own lunch box note. My little boy was thinking of me and showing me that he loved me.  And with that little reminder, I was able to finish my day with a smile on my face.  Sometimes you just need to know that someone is thinking of you, and I didn't realize how badly I needed it until I saw your little note.

You never cease to amaze me, and I hope this is one thing you never forget; you were able to surprise your momma and show me how much you love me in such a simple way.  We don't need grand gestures to make amazing memories.  These little ones are the best kind.

Thank you, Little Bear, for thinking of me.  And know that this is one of my favorite memories to date.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Adventures in Sleep-walking: A Story for your Prom Dates

Dear Ian,

As the mother of  a boy, I have learned quite a bit.  I've been challenged to explain "boy parts" with grace and maturity, I've witnessed you pee in your own ear as an infant (which prompted me to learn to change the diaper of a boy baby MUCH faster), and I have cleaned dirt and mud from all parts of your little self.  I've learned to enjoy bathroom humor, put up with the world's smelliest shoes - seriously, I did not know boy feet could smell that badly this early - and countless other adventures. 

I grew up with two younger brothers, I so I'm not completely clueless when it comes to the life and [gross] times of boys.  I just never dealt with boy things as a mom.  And while they can be completely disgusting, they can also be downright hilarious.  

Take last night for example... 

You sleep in a room at the top of our stairs, and since Mommy is paranoid of you falling down the stairs in your sleep, there's a baby gate up there to block the way.  Last night, while sitting on the couch watching football while Daddy was working on the laptop, I thought I heard the baby gate open.  I looked up at the top of the stairs, and there you stood, with the baby gate wide open and your jammie pants around your ankles ready to pee.  Down my stairs.  I think I broke a new world record getting up the stairs in the nick of time to direct you to the toilet, but we made it.  You were mad at me for hollering at you to stop and then redirecting you, but I managed to save the stairs and you from falling.  I am not saving you, however, from this story, because after the fear of having wet stairs or an injured boy, it was really funny.  One of your uncles - and I won't say which - pottied in a trash can in the middle of the night once, and I've heard stories of others doing similar things.  And they are hilarious!   But when it's your kid, it's even funnier.  And it's a story I plan on saving up for just the right moment. 

Love you with all my heart, asleep or awake...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Drop Off

Dear Ian,

Today it happened.  I knew it was coming, but I don't think I was completely prepared for it.  Today you asked me to drop you off at car-drop-off instead of walking you to your classroom.  It wasn't exactly like it was the first time I've ever done it; I drop you off like that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday because those are days I have to break land-speed records to get back to my room so my classroom parents can drop off their kids.  But on Tuesdays and Thursdays I would walk with you to your classroom and drop you off at the door.

But today...  Today you wanted me to leave you so you could walk on your own or with a friend.  I'm not all emotional, but it is a big step for this mom to just leave her baby.  Yes, yes.  You're not a baby.  But your MY baby.  And watching you walk away, with your big ol' backpack, was sorta hard.  You look so small compared to the upper grade kids that attend your school, but you're growing more every day.  And here was just one more step.

 Ready to start your day!

That last picture is a picture of you in my side-view mirror.  I watch you as long as I can, before someone honks their horn at me to get a move-on out of the school drive way.  I cant help it!  I waited years for you, and here you are walking away all independent and stuff.  

I am so proud of you, and you continue to amaze me every day.  I am so lucky to be your mommy.  Pretty soon, though, you'll be asking me to wear dark glasses and to drop you off a block away.  Don't count on it, Little Man.  There's a limit...

Love you bunches,

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Report Card Day

Dear Ian,

Technically the title of this post is a misnomer, as your school doesn't do report cards in the traditional sense, but today was our very first parent-teacher conference at School of Arts and Sciences.  And in a way, it was our first actual parent-teacher conference.  That DOES NOT mean in anyway that Advent didn't have them; we did winter and spring conferences to keep track of your progress, but you and I were at the same school.  If your teachers had an issue, it was pretty much open conversation right at that moment.  Sometimes even on the playground, which I really appreciated.  I could see you throughout the day, so I had a general idea of your progress, but with this conference, everything was new.

You spend roughly six and a half hours at kindergarten.  I drop you off at 8:45am, and then I pick you up again (or Grandma Brooks does, on Thursdays) at 3:20.  Then after an hour of time with you, it's time for me to teach lessons, and most of the time, you go to bed before I finish.  That means, from the time I get you up at 7:15 in the morning until the time you go to bed at 7:45pm, I spend exactly 2 and a half hours with you.  And it is positively killing me.  But you, my boy, seem to be thriving.  You love school, and you love learning, and while I miss being able to spy on you from my own classroom, you are growing into an independent little man, and I am so proud of you, even if dropping you off in the car-drop-off line makes me die a little inside.  

Today's conference only made me more proud.

The first things out of Ms. Tricia's mouth were, "Ian is a great student.  He's a good kid and a good listener.  He follows directions well."  All of the academic stuff came after (and you are doing fantastically by the way), but I held on to those little words like you would savor the taste of something sweet.  Because they were words that touched my heart and relieved my mind.  The transition to kindergarten from a mommy-infiltrated Advent was a big one, and you seem to have conquered it.  And you're doing so with your typical Ian grace and kindness and sweetness.

I didn't have many concerns as far as your academics go; you're out-smarting me most of the time as it is.  But knowing that you are well behaved, kind and a good person means more to mean that any "A" or percentile ranking.

But I do expect good grades, Mister.
I love you,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Brain Power #1

Dear Ian,

So back when you were at home with me, and then once you started going to Advent, I titled letters where I posted your projects "Works of Art."  Well, now you're still doing some art work, but your classroom projects are becoming more and more school-work-like, and I felt that the old title didn't really fit anymore.  Hence, the new "Brain Power" titles!  Yaaaaay...  Mommy needs sleep, but I digress.

Here in these letters, I will post photos and snippets of your classroom assignments and projects so we can track them and see how you progress throughout the year.

We're about a month in to the school year, and I think you're starting to get the hang of this whole Kindergarten thing.  Since you're in a multi-age class, you occasionally get the opportunity to do first grade work, and this thrills you to no end.  I am so very proud of the papers that come home, but I think what makes me the happiest is seeing your little face with great big smile on it when I pick you up at the end of your day.  You're happy to be in school, and that makes me so glad and relieved.

But back to the point of this letter.  Here is some work you've brought home over the past few weeks or so...
This one seems pretty self explanatory.  This piece of work is all about your first day at SAS.  The top left picture, of you meeting your school family, is a picture of your new friend, Kyle.  Apparently Kyle (and Beckett) have my phone number, too, as you have been passing it out to people with the promise of playdates.  Top right, something you learned that day was in P.E. when you learned how to run faster by going in a straight line.  The bottom left picture is a picture of your work during "choice time."  You worked with these neat manipulative thingies.  The bottom right picture is blank because you told your teacher that you had too much to put there, so you would just tell me instead. Haha!
This is a letter you wrote to me in your Family Art and Message journal. These journals are books that will travel back and forth from school to home.  You write me a letter, and then I am supposed to read it and write back.  This is your first entry to me!  It says, "Have a good day, love Ian to Karen."  You told me you had to underline the words you weren't sure how to spell, but I got the idea!  Of course I wrote back, and you took it to school and read it.  I really love these journals.  In a way, they are kind of like this blog!
Here is a self portrait that you drew before your Parent Night event.  Your assignment was to draw a portrait of yourself and then write a sentence about what you to to help around the house.  Your sentence says that you "dust the house."  You actually do help with this chore, and I love your phonetic spelling of house.  It makes my heart happy to see you learning to read and spell; mommy's thing is language and words, so watching your literacy develop thrills me to to end
 Here's the first homework assignment you had to complete.  Your job was to create a scrapbook page that was all about your family for a classroom scrapbook.  I helped you print the pictures - you chose them from Google images - and then you cut them out and glued them down.  All I did was help you write "Brooks Family" and our names.  I think you did a great job!  You were a little less than ecstatic about having to do homework, but once you got started, you enjoyed this work.
Your theme, so far, for this semester has been all about Communities.  You made a great book all about different community helpers, and it turned out really great!
This adorable community helper is a baker, and he had a special sorting mission for you.  Your assignment for this, besides creating the baker, was to create some cookies and then sort them on the bakers tray.  The words above the tray say, "I sorted by color."  You also drew an elaborate oven behind the baker, I see.
And now we move on to math...  Thankfully this is still math that I can help with!  Great number writing, Bear!  And you got a blue smiley on this work!
For this job, you had to count the items, write the number and then circle the smallest number.  Another job well done!
And now we're starting to get to reach the limits of Mommy's math skills.  Thankfully this still has pictures, so I am ok, but Algebra...  Because that's what this is, you know, and Algebra makes Mommy queasy.  You were SO excited about this assignment; this was your First Grade work.  Your smile when you told me about this made my heart so happy.  And look at that work!  Great job, Little Buddy!!

You make me so proud, and I get a little teary eyed when I think about how happy you are to go to school now (it was touch and go there for a bit at the beginning) and how much you are learning.

Keep up the good work.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Pause Button

Dear Ian,

In all the hustle and bustle of starting a new school year, Mommy teaching both in the classroom and twirling, and our general absolute craziness, it's important to occasionally freeze time so we can hold on tight to precious moments.  

And thankfully, I have the following to do just this:

Ms. Whitney Fletcher is a photographer that used to live here in Tallahassee.  She created these wonderful images of little kids right before school started back up to help moms and dads remember the little things about their babies at a certain age. Well, Ms. Whitney moved away, but our friend, Ms. Brooke Spicer convinced her to come back and do these special shots again.  Here is yours, Little Bear:

We've done these photos a couple of times now, but this one was REALLY important to me, as it would be the photo right before you started kindergarten and BIG SCHOOL.  Here are some of the top 10 things that you love and make you, well.. YOU!

1.  Your current favorite color is blue.
2.  And now you tell me your favorite sport is football.  You're sorta mad at me for not letting you play yet...
3.  Your favorite books are from the Junie B. Jones series.  We read a few chapters every night.
4.  Paw Patrol is your current favorite T.V. show.  We recently ditched cable to save on monthly bills, and your Uncle Ryan came to the rescue with a hard drive full of this cartoon just for you.  
5.  Obviously, you love to swim with your daddy.  Pretty self explanatory.
6.  Same with this one.   You love to play and read with me.
7.  Veal Parmesan is STILL your favorite food.  Few years running.
8.  And your favorite restaurant is apparently Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  You love the bacon cheese burger.  And yes, you eat the grown-up sized burger.
9.   Legos are your favorite toy.  And mommy's favorite thing to step on.
10.  Cohocoton, New York is your favorite place to go, trumping Disney World and the like.   That makes your Papa smile so big!

So there you are, literally, in 10 things that you love and make you special.  I'm so glad I have this little pause button; I wish I had one in real life, but I am happy to make do with these.


A Week to Prepare

Dear Ian,

I'm not ready to write this letter.  Even a whole week late, I'm still not ready to write the words, "you are a kindergarten student."  It's not rational in the slightest, but I feel like if I hold those words in my brain rather than freeing them to the world, maybe I can keep you from growing up so dang fast.  But here we are.  Today is Monday, August 24, 2015, and you have been a kindergarten student for exactly one week.  Last Monday was your first day of elementary school, and I simply can't believe that my little boy is old enough to be in kindergarten.

Believe it or not, I didn't cry on your first day of school.  I'm actually sort of proud of that fact; I kept it together.  I was also at work.  Your Daddy did the honors of First Day of School drop off.  I had to be in my classroom to help other parents adjust and transition their little ones into my care, while a few hundred yards away, you were settling in to your new classroom.  Of course, I had to send a text to see how you were doing and how you handled the big change, but like you've always done, you dealt with it just fine.  You compare your new school to Advent quite a bit, and there were days this week when you weren't sure you wanted to go back, but you're doing ok.  It's a big move to make, and I know eventually you'll get the hang of it.

We did the traditional "First Day of School" photos, and I took a couple of extra, too, just because I only get one shot at this Mom-of-a-Kindergartener thing, so I am going to make sure I remember every teeny, tiny detail.

Starting with lunch.  Yes, I am a giant dork; I took a picture of your lunch box.  But deal with it, and work with me here.  Eventually you will be a giant high school student, and you will drive a car (after having the beejeezus scared out of you about driving a 3,000 pound weapon - see Ma, I listen!), and you'll drive off campus for lunch, and the days of these lovingly packed lunches with their sweet lunch box notes will be a thing of the past.  So cool it, park it and finish dealing with me being a dork.  Love you. 
 Wow!  Look how grown up you look!  The gap-toothed smile does not help.  Sniff.
As usual, we went outside before loading up and took your Back to School photo.  And as usual, Mommy just didn't get it together enough to have our lawn mowed for this momentous occasion, so like the last few years, we borrowed our neighbor's lawn.  This year it was Mr. Leo's.  Next year, I promise - or I will try - to have ours cut so we can actually prove that we have a yard.

Anyhoo.  Then it was time to start our day.  Daddy took you to school, and I headed off to work.  My first day wasn't really a first day; it was just our orientation, so I was finished a little after noon.  And I sorta felt lost as to what to do next.  Normally, I'd zip to Grandma Brooks' house to get you, because usually, she would pick you up after your portion of the Advent orientation, because I had to stay.  Now, you were in school until three, and I had nothing to do.  It was weird.  So I went home and cleaned and basically just piddled around until I could get my boy and hear all about your day.

Picking you up from the car pick up line has proven to be an adventure.  God bless Ms. Eirin and all the SAS staff for dealing with those emotionally charged Moms and Dads trying to get to their precious kiddos.  But you jumped in to the car and gave me the biggest and brightest hello ever.  And it just made my day to hear that your first day had been a success.  With P.E. and everything.

Mommy was sneaky...
So here we are a week later.  Like I said, you're still feeling out this kindergarten thing, and at one point last week, you actually said to me, "I guess I'll go back and see if it gets better."  Ha!  I've been in your room once to volunteer, and it was neat to watch you work.  I got to spy on you for a bit before you realized I was there, and my heart nearly burst with pride as I watched you finish your work, take it to your teacher and ask a question.  You got your answer, went back to your table and finished something, and then turned it in just like you were supposed to do.  And that little snippet of time showed me just how much you've grown and matured, and you really LOOKED like an elementary school student.  You weren't just my baby.

Classroom "family" tree
Your teachers are really great, and I love the classroom environment.  She greets each of you at the door every morning and asks if you'd like a special hand shake, a high five or a hug.  I appreciate this a TON, because you're not much of a hugger, and she recognizes your need for personal space.  I also appreciate the fact that one day you MAY need or want a hug, and she's willing to give it.  That makes this mommy heart happy.  The school is based on the foundation of Conscious Discipline and the "Classroom Family," and I know you will develop a strong bond with your friends and teachers.

So yay!  We made it through the week, despite that the two of us may or may not have been ready for such a big transition.  Well, you were probably more ready than I was, but still.  We did it!  And only 35 more to go for this school year.  Or something like that.  I dunno.  I know you're going to have a great year, and I am in awe of how much you have grown and how much you're going to grow over this first year in school.  I love you so very much, and I can't wait to see what unfolds.

All my heart and love, Little Bear,

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Beautiful Boy

Dear Ian,

Ok, so maybe I am a little emotional, what with it being 12 hours until Kindergarten, but I am going to limit it to this letter.  One day, I hope you realize just how very much I love you.

Credit to Linda Long and Long's Photography for the amazing photos, and credit to John Lennon for the lyrics to the song that makes me smile and think of you.

"Beautiful Boy" ("Darling Boy")
by John Lennon

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It's getting better and better,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
 Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy...

You are so very loved,
 Mommy and Daddy

Deep Breaths

Dear Ian,

Tomorrow is it.  Tonight I tucked you in for the last time as a pre-schooler or pre-kindergartener.  Tomorrow morning, you start elementary school.  On one hand, I am so very excited; you're going to a great school, and you are going to learn and grow so much.  On the other hand, I am wondering how in the world this happened so fast! 

People have asked me if I'm going to be all emotional and junk, and really, I don't think I will be.  Not because I am a heartless Mommy, but more because I am simply in AWE of you and everything you've accomplished to this point.  I can't wait to see what you're going to do next!  I am EXCITED not sad.  I get a little mommy misty-eyed when I think of you not being in a classroom across the playground from mine, but I know you're going to do great things, and it's time for you to start spreading your wings.  My job as a Mommy is to prepare my Little Bear to grow up and leave the den, which makes one too many animal metaphors, but hey - I'm having a mommy moment. 

I had a small freak out last night while laying in bed, listening to the sound of your white noise machine, when I realized that I wasn't going to be around.  How was I going to take care of my boy?!  How you could you possibly be old enough to go to school with such bigger kids?  What in the world was I doing, sending you to such a huge place?!  Deep breaths, Me.  I did this at your age, and your Daddy did, too.  And I'm sure you're going to do it better and with more confidence than the both of us.  But never-the-less, my brain kept right on rolling.  I panicked a little when I thought of how much LONGER this day was going to be for you.  But then I stopped, took a deep breath, and realized that it's only about 40 minutes longer than the hours you spent at Advent last year on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when I covered naps.  I stopped, breathed in and out, and reassured myself that I will be only around the corner, and that I can be the first car sitting in the pick up line, waiting to see you come running out from you room.  And then, since we've had a little trouble transitioning to no nap, I'm sure you're going to pass out in the nine minute drive home...That's going to be interesting.

But, this Kindergarten-eve has been a long time comin', and it's what we've been training for, so we're going to buck up, have big smiles and celebrate how far you've come!

Two days ago, we attended your school orientation, where we met your teacher, saw your room and, to your joy, got to eat snow cones and play on the playground.  We also turned in all the supplies you needed for the year, and holy supply list, Batman, was it a haul!  I'm glad we dropped it off that night; there was no way you could have carried all that in tomorrow.

Anyhoo, we found your room, and then we found your table spot, and we filled out a bunch of paperwork.  Parents have as much homework as kids when it comes to school paperwork!  You met your teachers, Ms. Tricia and Ms. Kristen, and you toured all around your room.  You picked out your cubby and book bin, and checked out all the neat things like the Ferris wheel made out of Kinex, and the classroom pet, a bird, that you all will get to name this week.  I think you're ready, even if you're a little apprehensive, and I can't wait to hear all about your first day. 

As always, I took a few pictures from orientation, and you can bet your hiney that tomorrow we'll be out front taking "First Day of School" photos.  Not in our yard, though.  Mommy needs to mow...
 Sitting all proper and "good student-ish" at your table spot. 
I love this little face.
I'm really happy that you already have a buddy in your classroom.  Jonathan Perry, a little boy from one of your younger classes at Advent is also in your Kindergarten class!  That takes a little stress off this mommy's heart.  I was worried that you would be worried about not knowing anyone.  Not that that would last long; you're super friendly.
 After spending time in your room, it was time to explore the playground!!
 This slide is your favorite part, and since you're a thrill seeker, I know why:  it's pretty vertical, so you zip down it fast!
 Running to do it again.
The smart PTSA had snow cones for you guys.  And it's like they knew you; the way to your heart is definitely through your stomach.

So, here I sit.  I've made your breakfast casserole for tomorrow morning, and I have the beginnings of your lunch made.  Your first day of school outfit is laying on the couch, and your backpack is all packed and ready to go.  My first day of school outfit is on the ironing board, and I have a checklist of the things I need to remember to take to school.  Oh yeah, it's my first day of school tomorrow, too.  We're both ready to go, physically, if not mentally and emotionally.  The past almost six years have just flown by, and tomorrow, even thought it's a big day, is just one more that you and I will share and remember. 

I am so excited to hear all of your stories tomorrow afternoon, right before you pass out, and I know you're going to have a great day. 

I will be thinking of you, loving you and cheering you on from right around the corner.  And deep breathing the whole time.

Good luck and lots of love, my Big Kindergartener!!


Dear Ian,

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I have posted more this month that I have all summer.  I am desperately trying to catch up, as we have one HUGE milestone coming up, and I want to make sure I don't miss one single important event.

This one is one of my favorites! 

As mentioned in your last letter, you recently noticed your first tooth.  Well, it was loose in late May.  But, as of August 7th, it is officially gone!

You lost your first baby tooth on August 7th in my classroom, of all places.  We were there getting things ready for the school year, and you were "patiently" waiting for me to wrap up for the day.  All of a sudden, you just said, "Mommy!" and you were standing there with your hand held out for me to see.  And there it was: your first baby tooth. 

Now I don't know what it is about gap-toothed smiles that make little kids suddenly turn in to big kids, but MAN!  Look at this grin!
You look so different!

Now, I had a feeling that it wasn't going to be long until your chomper decided to exit your head, so we prepared for the event by making your tooth fairy pocket.  Grandma Brooks had given us Daddy's tooth fairy pillow to use, but you really wanted your very own one, so we used felt and made one just for you.  You did the ironing parts; you ironed on your tooth and letters, and I did the sewing around the edges.  I think it turned out pretty well.

That night, after reading our books before bed, you made sure you had your tooth in your pocket and that it was under your pillow.  You asked me to make sure it was under the edge of your pillow, specifically, because you didn't want the tooth fairy to be all up under your pillow and waking you up. I swear, I love the way your mind works.

You, all dressed for bed, with your tooth in your tooth pocket.  Please ignore your mis-matched pajamas.  You argue that they dont need to match because you're going to be in bed - asleep - and no one is going to see you, so why should they match?  I get your point, and I'm smart enough to pick my battles.  Also ignore the fact that these jammie pants are about four inches too short.

The next morning you woke up and noticed that the tooth fairy had indeed come to visit during the night, and you were so excited to share with me the treats she left behind.
The tooth fairy left you a dollar, a sweet note and a little fire truck.  You were thrilled!

All morning long, you told me that you loved the tooth fairy and that you were so glad your tooth was good enough for her to want so she would visit.  You were so happy with your little treats, and it made me smile. 

You have another loose tooth, and it's wiggling like mad, so I'm sure it won't be long until she visits again. And then again, you'll be showing off that new, big-kid grin that reminds me, yet again, how fast you're growing up.

Love you bunches!

King Pin

Dear Ian,

As promised, I am finally getting around to writing about a specific part of our summer: your first State Bowling Tournament. 

In late May, we wrapped up your youth bowling league season by heading down to the Naples - Cape Coral area for the annual state tournament.  And boy, did we have an adventure.  At the start, it was a pretty straight-forward trip.  We drove down on Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel, where you swam in the pool and we had a yummy pizza dinner at Blue Moon Pies.  Incidentally, it was when you took your first bite of pizza that you noticed your very first loose tooth! 
This picture isn't the best; your facial expression looks like you're a little... well... drunk.  But there's that first loose tooth!! 

The next morning dawned bright and beautiful and fairly normal, and your first game didn't start until 2pm, so you and I headed off to the Bonita Springs Beach Park nearish Naples, for a little sun and fun before bowling.
 Man, you love to swim.  Here's my fish in the water. 
But you did come up for air and a little sand castle building.  I also taught you the fine art of looking for shark's teeth on the beach. 

It was after all of this beachy frivolity that we had a monkey wrench thrown in our works.  Or there was a wrench involved in there somewhere, as our precious, beloved car decided to DIE in the parking lot of the Bonita Springs Beach Park.  Oh. My. Stars.  At this point, it was about 10:45am, so we still had time to work out our issue and get you to the bowling alley.  But how to figure out what was wrong.  I tried everything I knew to do.  I called your Daddy, but alas, he was in an airplane headed back from Amsterdam to the United States.  He was sorta out of pocket.  I called Grandma and Papa, to see if they had a suggestion, and they tried, but as Imola (our car's name) is German, they were sort of at a loss.  I tried friends who were mechanics.  I tried friends who had other Bimmers... Nada.  Finally I conceded defeat and called BMW roadside assistance, and she called us a tow truck.  Unfortunately, then we had to wait almost an hour for the tow truck guy...  and if you're paying attention to the math, by the time he got to us it was noon.  He loaded us up and took us to BMW of Naples...

...where you had a delicious lunch, courtesy of the complementary snacks in the service waiting area.  Mommy was TRYING to be on top of it all.  And it wasn't too bad.  A clementine, a granola bar, a cookie and some water.  And please keep in mind, at this point, I was hauling your bowling ball and car seat.  You were vacillating between being COMPLETELY freaked out by all of this and having a blast because you got to ride in a tow truck.  But anyhoo... We're at the dealership. It's noon.  We could make it to the bowling alley.  We got this.  I called your teammate, Nijah's mom, and she came to get us.  But unfortunately, she was an hour away.  So by the time she got to us, it was now 1pm.  And it was going to take us an hour to get to the bowling center.  Whew.  But we did it! 
 It was neat seeing your names up on the scoring monitors.
 You and your teammates.  You all did pretty well, and at the end of the weekend, you were in 10th place!
Treat bags I made for you and your teammates.  And yes, I was hauling these with me during all of the car drama.  

During your three games of the team event, I spent a good bit of time on the phone trying to figure out what to do next.  I finally got through to the service department of BMW of Naples, and they told me that they wouldn't get to our car until MONDAY!!  It was Saturday! Now what?  We had a hotel room until Sunday, so as far as housing went, we were ok for the night, but how in the WORLD were we going to get around?  So, I spent a good deal of your three team games calling for rental cars and taxis and everyone else while cheering you on.  I managed to find us a car, and sweet Ms. Betty, Nijah's mom, came to our rescue again and dropped us off at the rental car desk at the airport.  We ended up with a swanky Toyota Camry, and with that combined with our good humor, we were good to go.  After all the drama of the day, we gave up and headed back to our hotel and, much to your happiness, Mommy just ordered us room service for dinner, and we sat on the beds in our jammies, eating supper and watching cartoons.  

Sunday was your singles and doubles events, and it was check-out day for our hotel, so we loaded up the car and headed to a different bowling alley for the mornings games.  You and Aaron were great partners and did a great job, securing yourselves a top five spot for the weekend, and in singles, you bowled your way to a top 10 placement.  I was one proud Mommy!

 You, getting ready to go to work. 
The dynamic duo of you and Aaron.  
You with the sign outside the bowling alley, welcoming all of the Florida State Youth Bowlers.  So proud.

With that, all of your bowling for the weekend was officially over but we were still stuck in town because of our car.  We needed a room.  We needed something to do.  So Mommy looked a couple of hours north and found us a great - and believe it or not, inexpensive - room at a Disney resort!  I loaded you and all of our stuff up, and we headed to the land of the Mouse. 

We stayed at Disney's All Star Movies Resort, and you were so excited!  You spent hours in the pool, we explored all of the neat Disney art around the hotel, and we ate in the resort cafeteria, which, for some reason, just thrilled you.  We also took a trip to Downtown Disney to the Lego Store, where you played and built all sorts of stuff and picked out a Lego set with castles and knights.  (Are you surprised?)
A Mickey fountain at the pool.  Thank you, Mr. Mouse, for having a cheap room and entertainment for my little boy. 
You, swimming like a fish in the resort pool.
 We wandered around and found all kinds of cool things to look at and play with. 
Outside the 101 Dalmatians wing.  I love this movie.  And you say I drive like Cruella DeVille.  Gee thanks.  
You in R.C. from Toy Story.  As far as places to be stranded, it wasn't bad!
Us on the bus headed to Downtown Disney.  ANOTHER form of transportation.  If you've lost track, there's our car, a tow truck, Ms. Betty's car, the rental Camry and now a bus.  Hang on...  there's one more to go.

Monday morning, we got a phone call that Imola was ready to go, so we packed up, again, and headed back to Naples.  First thing, we had to turn the rental back in, so we headed back to the airport.  But wait?  How were we going to get to BMW?  Yep.  I had to call a taxi service.  There's the last form of transportation:  the taxi.  But your poor momma.  I looked like a homeless body builder.  I was now hauling around, by hand, your car seat, your bowling ball, my suitcase, a tote with all matter of various sundries, including a new Legos set (I didn't think that through, but I figured after all the drama you went through, a set of Legos was warranted), your suitcase and you.  You helped by pulling your own suitcase and wearing your own backpack, but I was carrying the lion's share of the junk.  I ended up going to the chiropractor twice a week for three weeks to fix myself after all that... 

The taxi took  us to BMW, we loaded up one last time and came home.  It was 3pm when we left town, and I didn't care.  We were going HOME, even though it was an eight hour drive.  I was not stopping, and we made it home in one piece.

It was a crazy weekend, one that I'd rather not repeat, but I would do it again to help you pursue your dreams and goals.  I love to watch you bowl, and I love how seriously you take it.  You work so hard, too!  And one of your goals just recently came true.  For a while now, you've gotten closer and closer to beating me, and I know it was something you were eager to do.  And I am both resigned and thrilled to admit, it has finally happened.  Two weeks ago, we went bowling for fun one morning, and you didn't just beat me, you trounced me! 

The final score was your 181 to my 133.  And no, I wasn't letting you win, and no you didn't use bumpers.  The grin on your face was so big, and I was so proud of you.  At not even six years old, you were only 19 pins away from a 200 game.  What in the world?!  Yes, you're still using your slightly unorthodox style, but you know what you're doing, and it wont take much to switch you over to a more conventional approach, and when you do...  Wow.  Big kids, look out!

I am such a proud Mommy.  There's not much you do that doesn't just amaze me, and I can't wait to see what you do next!

Love always,