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,

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Entirely Too Much Summer Fun

Dear Ian,

As I write this, we are only days away from your first day of Kindergarten.  Holy cow.  Once again, I've been a little on the busy side and a little remiss as it pertains to your letters, but I was entertaining you, so I guess that's a valid reason. 

You and I have been having a complete and total blast.  As usual, I'm going to fill it with tons of pictures commemorating the great summer we've had, with a few fun anecdotes thrown in for good measure.  I promise to get back to pontificating and having deep thoughts later on.  But for now: here comes the fun!

 Our summer started off with your State Bowling Tournament in Naples and Cape Coral.  Now, this will get a post all its own, but I figured I'd whet the appetite with a few pictures.  It was a trip like no other, compete with a broken down car , but we made the best of it and we had a ton of fun. 

 Your team consisted of you and three other kiddos from the Capital Lanes youth league: Nijah, Anthony and Aaron.  Tallahassee was well represented!
The four of you on the approach for team introductions.  Proud Mommy!
Got a picture of you next to the sign at one of the alleys were you bowled.  Results and more of this story later.  It's a good one...
... and this picture is part of the good story.  But keep reading.  I promise it's worth its own letter.  Oy.

After state, we headed back home and kicked off our summer with Make It Mondays, Movie Tuesdays and all manner of frivolity.  We made some completely awesome dark chocolate and raspberry bars, painted neat artwork and made a special pocket for the tooth fairy.  Did I mention that you have your first loose tooth?!  Well, you do.  Found it at state tournament, as a matter of fact.  But anyhoo... 

Because Mommy is a complete and total road warrior, one of our fun adventures was to load up the car with you, your cousin Payton, and some snacks and head to Wild Adventures for... well... an adventure.  They were having a special promotional day where, since Maggie the Giraffe the was turning five, all five year olds were admitted to the park for free!  Hooray for you and Pay being five!!

Here you both are at the main gate before we kicked off our awesome fun day! 
 We went on a Thursday, and the park was basically empty, so the two of you got to ride things over and over again!  We went on the water rapids ride twice and you and Pay rode this roller coaster at least half a dozen times.  It was perfect! 
 Here you are on the jungle safari train.  Part of the fun was the birthday party for Maggie the Giraffe, and you both got stuffed giraffes as souvenirs.
And you both got to feed Maggie the Giraffe!  She apparently loves carrots.  One of your favorite parts of the whole adventure was the splash area inside the park.  I think it was my favorite, too.  You and Payton were old enough to play in the kids area just the two of you, and I got to sit in a lounge chair with my feet in the water and watch you guys have fun.  Having someone for you to play with took the task off me (which sounds selfish I know, but just wait until you have kids, little boy.  You will understand.) and it was completely awesome.  One of my more brilliant ideas, if I can say so myself.
You two completely wore each other out, so the ride home was relatively quiet, too!

Continuing with our summer of being on the road, next up is Fourth of July at Lake Seminole.  Only once have we missed this yearly occasion of family and patriotic fun, and I am determined not to repeat that!  This year, we headed up for a weekend of boat riding, firework watching, pork butt eating hilarity with Uncle Gary, Aunt Megan, Pay and Tay and Grandma and Papa, and as usual, we had a total blast.  There aren't as many pictures as I'd like, but honestly, I was having too much fun.

Here's you and your cousins eating dinner.  Our numbers usually overwhelm the size of the little house, but that's part of all the fun. "How many people can the lake house hold before we all lose it?"  Think clown car, with a foundation.  Anyhoo.  The table wasn't big enough for all of us, so I assembled what we nicknamed "Death Row"
You being launched off the boat into the Flint River. 
You in the boat waiting on the fireworks to start. 
And as usual, they were completely worth it.  

And that leads us up to July 8, and Nole's third birthday.  We made a trip up to visit, and we got to have the great experience of an Atlanta Braves game in a private box!  I can officially attest that you thoroughly enjoyed baseball in this environment.  We were surrounded by food galore, had air conditioning, and there was enough room for you to wander if you got bored.  Aunt Maggie also rocked with goodie bags and Braves coloring sheets.
 Way to go, Aunt Maggs!  You were completely thrilled with your Big League Chew
 You, watching all the action.
 Us and crazy Uncle Brian.  His pizza was only part of the amazing food and treats in the box.  The ice cream man even came around, and you just LOVED that.  Popcorn, peanuts, cracker jack...  they had it all.  Plus braised short ribs, pizza, chips and dip and I cant even remember what else.
 You and your little cousin, Nole, watching the game.  It was a great night.

Whew.  This summer just keeps going and going!  I swear we're almost finished.  Remember that letter I wrote about you being obsessed with knights and castles?  Well, we fed in to it and finally took you to Medieval Times.  And can I just say, I think you were in Heaven.  You amazed by the castle itself, and your mouth just hung open during all of the knightly events like jousting and sword fighting.  The meal was huge, but in true Ian form, you ate the entire half chicken on your plate, and you even got to be part of a special ceremony where they announced your name during the dinner tournament.
 You were completely enthralled with this show.  We knew how much you loved knights before-hand, and think by going to Medieval Times, I'm pretty sure you now want to be a knight more than just about anything.
 Here's that cool ceremony I was talking about.  Daddy and I paid a little extra for you to be "knighted" by the king in front of everyone.  You were hesitant while it was going on, but afterward, you told anyone and everyone who would listen that you had been officially knighted by a king. 
My little knight and his Mommy!  It was so much fun for me and Daddy to get to watch just how happy you were to be there.  Made it completely worth it and more. 
You out in front of the castle.  You sweet talked us into buying you the special knight's tunic you're wearing, but I think Daddy would have done it for you anyway.  He was so glad to have been able to share that with you.

Your Daddy also got to share you final summer adventure with you, too, just two of you and Grandpa Brooks.  The last couple of weeks of July had me preparing for and taking two of my twirlers to Nationals.  While I was gone, you, your Daddy and your Grandpa had your own adventure.  The three of you packed up and headed off to Cape Canaveral and the space center!  While you were there, you got to see some amazing stuff, including the launch of a satellite from your hotel room!
Grandpa took some great photos, and here they are!
 Here's you and Daddy a space ship cockpit, I think.  Daddy doesn't remember either.
 The three of you in one of the Apollo nose cones.  This is neat. 
 This is a great picture that Daddy took.  It's you listening to Grandpa talk all about rockets.  It also shows how dang TALL you've gotten
 Climbing out of one of the Apollo nose cones.
 Here you are piloting the space shuttle simulator. 
 This is pretty much a celebrity sighting for you!  Here you are with one of the Mars rovers.  I KNOW I've written all about that.  These little rovers have fascinated you for years, and I am really happy you got to see one up-close. 
 This picture is you and Daddy on a moon buggy!
 You and Daddy and the Mars Rover again. Look at your smile!
 You and Daddy with an astronaut. 
This is a great picture of the two of you.  

So as you can see, you've had a crazy busy and FUN summer.  The last few weeks of the holiday have consisted of us having fun here around the house, swimming, gathering school supplies and thinking back on all the great times we had this summer.  From playing with our neighbors, Jasmine and Donaldo, to cousin sleepovers in tents in our living room and "helping" me in my classroom to get ready for the upcoming year, it's been a blast.
 S'mores with neighbors
 THIS was a crazy fun mess!
 Ahh, the life of a teacher's kid.

So now, I think I've finally finished this letter, and it's a good thing, too.  Tomorrow is First-Day-of-Kindergarten-Eve, and I have so much more to cover and write about.  I hope that you will be able to remember all of these fun times, and I'm glad I have these letters so you can look back if you don't.  Know that every moment was fun and precious, and we love you very much!

Mommy and Daddy