Saturday, May 23, 2015

Beginnings and Endings

Dear Ian,

Today is Friday, May 18th, 2015.  Today is your last day as an Advent Parish Day School student.  Yup.  It's the last day of school, and as a teacher, I am doing a dance of joy.  As the mommy of a graduating pre-k student, I'm sorta getting all emotional over here.  You're just gonna have to deal with it, too.

When I first signed you up as a student here at Advent, I knew that you were going to have a great time.  The art room, in particular, sold me on this school, and Ms. Lynn has proven herself to just be awesome!  I loved the fact that you would have other special area classes like Dance and Movement, Music, Cooking, Science and Chapel.  Teacher turnover was practically non-existent, and I loved the small, familial atmosphere.  I fell in love with Advent, and you thrived at this little school.

We also had some of the greatest ladies ever influence your life while you were here.

Your very first teacher outside of our house was Ms. Laura.  You were technically in two different classes with her, as I was teaching five days a week, and Ms. Christene sorta created a spot for you out of a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class and a Tuesday-Thursday class.  You got to do everything twice, which was kind of fun, and you went from just hanging out at the house with me and a couple of other babies to two classes of at least 9 other kids.  18 instant friends to play with!  Ms. Laura was so great with you.  She helped you through the rough transition from being at home to being in school, and she comforted me as you cried your way pretty much every day from the beginning of school until Labor Day.  I loved her no-nonsense approach to teaching, and she really helped get you on the right path with school.  You loved to come home and tell me stories about what you had done during the day, and when we said prayers at night, you always remembered Ms. Laura.  I cannot thank her enough for what she did for my baby boy back then.  Even today, she's still going above and beyond for you!  Ms. Laura retired from teaching, but that didn't stop her from making a special trip back to Advent to take this picture with you.  She is truly awesome!

Your next year at Advent, as you went from age two to age three, you had the dynamic duo of Ms. Katie and Ms. Mallory.  These two are a HOOT!  And I love the fact that you got to be in their room.  Like Ms. Laura, Ms. Katie expected a lot from you, and it was neat to watch you rise to the challenge.  You had a fun little group of kids in that room, some of who are still in your class this year, and she and Ms. Mallory did a great job with you guys.  Some of my favorite art that you made at Advent came from when you were in Ms. Katie and Ms. Mallory's class.  I have a gorgeous Eric Carle-esque picture that you did, and it's framed and up in your room.  Ms. Mallory also is a danged good photographer, and she and Ms. Katie made a little photo album of all of the pictures that they took of you throughout the year.  It's safely tucked away on one of your bookshelves, and you like to take it down to look at it every now and then.  These two teachers taught you a lot as you transitioned from that tough age of the Terrible Twos to the Trying Threes, and they made it look easy.  I'm so very glad you got to work with them, and we probably owe them years of Chic-Fil-A Mondays to repay them.

Next on your little tour of Advent teachers comes Ms. Jackie and Ms. Jan.  This was a GREAT year.  I loved all of the themes these two came up with during the year.  Ms. Jackie likes to just sorta go with the flow, and she let you all choose a lot of the units you studied during the year.  Two in particular that come to mind are the pirate theme, where she turned your classroom into a pirate ship, complete with masts, sails and a crow's nest, and the Dr. Seuss theme where they took pool noodles and turned them into truffala trees.  I really appreciated the calm and laid back approach that Ms. Jackie and Ms. Jan personified.  You might not have guessed it, but your momma can be a little high-strung, so it made me feel good knowing that they were a calming presence in your life.

And that brings us up to this year:

For your final year at Advent, you finally moved into the "big kid room" in the cottage, also known as "the classroom that mommy was in for three years."  You sorta took my spot with Ms. Nancy, little dude!  And you have had a great year with her and Ms. Katie.  You've learned a ton as it pertains to academics, but you also learned, and probably most importantly how to be a kindergartener.  Social skills are just as important as ABC's, and I now Ms. Nancy did a great job prepping you for your next adventure.  Her peacemaker unit always inspires the kids in her class to be leaders and helpers at school and at home, and you had to work hard to earn your peacemaker.  But on top of helping you grown up into a big kid, she's also helped you advance academically.  You're writing and reading more than ever, and you really love learning.

That last part is the most important part to me.  The fact that you enjoy school and are always ready to learn something new thrills me.  I know that you will go far as long as you keep that inquisitive spirit.  Sometimes that inquisitiveness makes me want to scream as you ask question after question, some of which I HAVE JUST ANSWERED!  But it's our job to foster that desire to learn, so we answer yet again. 

Advent has been like a second home to us; partially due to the fact that we spend so much time here, but mostly due to the familial environment.  And family is a key word, here.  I know I mentioned that Grandma Brooks taught at Advent a while back, and that Daddy attended this school as well, so we have a history with this place.  And I wanted us to leave a mark, just like it has left a mark on us.  Enter the Advent Brick Fundraiser. 

Advent has a small brick area where families had the opportunity to purchase bricks to celebrate their time and memories at Advent.  The school holds this fundraiser every other year, we had the good fortune to have your last year be one of the years the option was available.  This Wednesday, the school held it's brick dedication, and I got some special photos of you and our family brick.
 Here you and Ms. Christene are reading the inscription on your brick.
You and our family brick.  It reads:
Brooks Family
Erik 1981
Ian 2011-2015
Thank you!

So, here we are at the end of your time at Advent.  Mommy still plans to be here for a bit, but you're off to big school in the blink of an eye.  This week has been filled with fun activities celebrating a great year.  Thursday was your end of the year party at Wyatt's house, and you all had a blast playing with all of your friends on a big slip and slide thingie. 
You made a lot of great friends in this class, and I hope we're all able to get together during the summer a bit.  You wanted to host a swimming party with your classmates and other friends, so we're gearing up for that in a couple of weeks, and it will be good to see them after all of the End of the Year dust settles.  

And since this post is about beginnings and endings, I thought I would end it with pictures of you from your first day at Advent and your last. 
Day one at Advent, August 2011.  Look at my little man!  The look on your face clearly shows that you are not at all sure about what I am getting ready to put you through.  
Last day of Advent, May 22, 2015.  It's been a great four years.  You've grown and changed so much, and I can't believe how quickly the time has gone!  It's amazing.

And so, now we're gearing up for another fun summer together before you're off to Kindergarten.  I am going to make every minute count!

Bye, Advent!  Thanks for the memories!

Love you bunches, Kindergarten Bear!

Monday, May 18, 2015


 Disclaimer:  This post was started in April, but then life happened, and blah blah, and I finally got it written, but the internet posted it in May, so it's all out of whack.  So just pretend you're reading this around Easter, mkay? 

Dear Ian,

One of the neat things that your school does every year - for the big kids anyway - is the Annual Egg Drop experiment.

The big kid classes all get tasked with going home and engineering a contraption that will house a raw egg that can survive a fall from the Advent roof.  I look forward to it every year, as there are usually some marvels of engineering that come along, and this year was no different. There were ALL kinds of designs.  Some worked, some didn't, but it was cool to watch.

This year you FINALLY got to participate, and you and I really worked hard on researching what would be a good egg-drop-method.  Thanks to the magic of the internet, we had plenty of ideas to choose from, and you finally settled on using large car wash sponges.  We used three of these big sponges, and we cut a hole in the middle of one of them, just big enough to snuggle your egg.  Then we sandwiched the egg-holding sponge with the other two and tied them together with twine.  Then it was time to test:
 Here you are with your egg-sponge-sandwich, all ready to heave that sucker into the air to see if it would protect your egg when it fell:
 Blast off!  It went about 20ish feet in the air, which is ABOUT how high Mr. David at school is when he drops them, so this was a pretty accurate test.  You got some good height there, Bear! 
You and your egg sponges.  It worked!  Your egg was safe and snug inside the three sponges.  And let me tell you, we tested the heck out of it.  You even threw it against the garage door.

The next day at school, your class, my class and two others all went outside to participate in the Great Egg Drop, and it was a blast!  In my class, only one egg broke, and in your class, all of your eggs except for two, stayed whole.  Yours was one of the whole eggs!  You were so proud.

Now that you're getting bigger and older, and since you LOVE science, I see a lot more of these projects in your future.   It was a ton of fun, and I cant wait for the next one!


Grand Finale

Dear Ian,

Your current school, Advent Parish Day School, is full of traditions; it's one of the things I love about it.  There's the Mother's Day Plates, Donuts for Dads, the yearly Silent Auction and - ultimately the topic of this post - the Christmas and End of the Year performances that Ms. Jan coordinates. 

You've been at Advent since you were about 22 months old, and since your first day, there have been many of these events in our lives, but last week we experienced your very last Advent Show.  It was a bittersweet moment; instead of your art posted on the big black backgrounds like the little kids, you had a big-kid poster, something only the graduating and oldest members of the school get to have.  You all walked in like you had done this a time or two before, and your class sang the "Human Rainbow" song that is set aside for only the biggest kids.  And believe it or not, Mommy didn't cry. 

I did take a zillion and a half pictures, though, so I guess I will let those do most of the talking:

 The "big kids" in the school get art posters with samples of art that the teachers collect throughout the year.  The art is on the back, while this is the front:  Ms. Lynn does a unit on self portraits, and then you kiddos paint your own self portraits.  You chose to be a bit obstinate and painted yourself with a frownie.  Sigh. Son...
 Part of your class, onstage, ready to perform!  From left to right:  Mason, Ellasyn, Wyatt, Bryce Avery, Jack, Hailey, You and Ashley.
 You and some of your classmates performing on stage
 Waiting for the next song.  From left to right, Jack, Hailey, you and Ashley. 
 Your class after a great performance!  This was a very social little group of kiddos.  Getting you to all sit still for just this picture was a challenge.  Hats off to your teachers, Ms. Nancy and Ms. Katie for the awesome job they did with you all year. 
 My Bear after the performance!
 Your name card and pinch pot.  This is another special project that only the big kids do. 
After your show, you, Grandma Davis and I all went to lunch at Newks.  It was a yummy way to celebrate!
Me and my little buddy outside Newks.

I know that I probably say this a zillion times in these letters, but I cannot believe how fast the past four years have gone with you at Advent.  It seems like only yesterday that I was watching you on your first few days, crying your eyes out (while I tried not to cry right along with you) as you adjusted to being in school.  And now here you are, ready and raring to go with the next adventure - Kindergarten! 

To show just how much you've changed, I took a picture from your very first Advent Art Show and put it next to this year's picture:

On the left is sweet little you from the 2011-2012 school year, and then there's sweet, BIG you from this year.  It's gone by so quickly!  But it has been so much fun, and I am lucky in the fact that I teach at Advent.  I got to be a part of your daily life here at school, and I got to watch all of the fun (and not so fun) that went on.  This little school has been such a blessing to us, and even next year, it will continue to be a blessing.  I will still teach on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so I can volunteer in your room as you adjust to kindergarten.  I'll be right around the corner if you need me, and best of all, I'll be there to pick you up from school every day.  Pretty soon you wont want me around, but for now, I think this new arrangement is going to work out great!

I am so very proud of you, Little Bear.  You're growing and changing and making me more and more proud every day to be your Mommy.

Love you always,

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

And The Award Goes To...

Dear Ian,

I coach award-winning baton twirlers.  My girls currently hold titles in two states, and in one week's time, we will travel to Savannah, Georgia to compete against twirlers from three states for Regional titles.  All these wins come from hard work on their part, long hours on mine, and sacrifice on yours.  It's your sacrifice that is the point of this letter.

This year we have state title winners, over-all Miss Majorette title holders and the number one beginning dance twirl team in the state.  My sweet boy, you deserve credit for every win and every title.  And the sad part is, I don't think your time spent dodging batons and sharing your mommy is even recognized.  Well, that ends now.  My girls are danged lucky and so am I. I think you're their biggest supporter, and you deserve the title of Best Boy! 

You have been so incredibly patient and understanding with all of this craziness, and you've even grown to understand all of it,too.  It's not unusual to have you "judge" their performances and actually have knowledgeable critiques.   You comment on pointed feet and whether or not the twirlers are on the beat.  You, I'm sort of embarrassed to say, can even tell the difference between 20ss rhinestones and 30ss.  You've eaten dinner in the driveway as I taught lesson after lesson, spent hours with grandmas and baby-sitters as I worked away, and had your share of weekends without me as I went to competitions with my students.  And you rarely complain.  The other morning, on the way to school, you even asked me, "How did your lessons go last night, Mommy?"  That simple question, asked in your sweet little voice, touched my heart.  You share me all the time, but you know how much my teaching means to me, and you support me in your own way.

I just hope you know how much I love you and how much I appreciate you putting up with me teaching.  I do it because it IS a job, but I also do it because I love it.  It's a part of me, but I want to make sure that you know that I love YOU more and that you are an even bigger part of me. 

I am such a lucky mommy, and you definitely are the best boy.

Twirling Coach and Mommy.  But first and foremost: Mommy