Thursday, November 09, 2017

Year Six - Year End Review

Dearest Birthday Bear,
You've been counting down your birthday since practically August. I'm both flabbergasted that you're six years old and relieved that the Great Birthday Countdown has finally stopped (until your Half Birthday Countdown starts up in a few months).

Here are your Thank-Heavens-You're-Finally-Six Top 10 Lists:

Top 10 Things You Love:
  1. Natalie
  2. Legos
  3. What's Inside YouTube channel
  4. Snack food (specifically Cheez-Its, chips, pretzels, and string cheese)
  5. Phineas and Ferb (for what it's worth, this would be on my Top 10 list, too)
  6. Cheese pizza and cheeseburgers
  7. Going to church
  8. Babies
  9. Wrestling with Daddy and Natalie (but not with me; I'm too delicate for that fool business)
  10. Opening and holding doors for people

Top 10 Things You Don't Love:
  1. Many foods (including beans; veggies that aren't orange and yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, green beans, and broccoli; casseroles; bread where you can see the grains/seeds; cooked fruit)
  2. Scary parts in movies
  3. Emptying the dishwasher (cry me a river)
  4. Putting your laundry away (again, boo hoo)
  5. Coloring
  6. Big dogs
  7. Disappointing people (you're a huge people pleaser; we're trying to harness that for good and for it to not give you anxiety)
  8. The dark (you've slept with the lamp on since you were one)
  9. Spiders
  10. Losing a game (we're still working on teaching you how to lose both graciously and gracefully)

Top 10 Things You're Good At:
  1. Math (you instinctively knew to 'count on' - like, when you first started adding a problem like 4+3 in your head, you naturally started counting at 5 and adding 3 more as opposed to counting up to 4 then adding 3)
  2. Building Charlie-original Lego designs, usually vehicles
  3. Reading letters that aren't there. I'm super impressed with the progress you're making with reading, but sometimes you assume you know what the next word or letter will be. So you say it, only to find out that, sadly, you're not an awesome assumer. 
  4. Apologizing (you always want to make things right, but you take after your momma and sometimes apologize too much or apologize when it's not needed)
  5. Throwing a Frisbee
  6. Writing your letters (I'm a sucker for pretty penmanship and I'm doing my best to have your handwriting be legible)
  7. Helping Daddy (I love seeing the two of you in the garage doing 'guy stuff' together)
  8. Making people laugh (you're welcome for your awesome sense of humor)
  9. Being charming (thank Daddy for your awesome sense of charm)
  10. Praying out loud

Top 10 Things You're Not Good At:
  1. Keeping your Legos organized. (Does it bother you? Not in the least. Does it make your mother super twitchy to see bins and bins and random Lego pieces? Without a doubt.)
  2. Hanging up your button-down shirts on a hanger. Without fail, you'll come to me with a completely baffled look on your be-dimpled face while carrying an unbuttoned shirt and a hanger. You show me how IMPOSSIBLE it is to hang up, usually with the finesse of a hapless infomercial star when she tries to open up a carton of milk and manages to spill it all over the counter. THERE'S GOT TO BE AN EASIER WAY. I button up a few of the buttons and hand it back to you. You put it on the hanger and realize that the buttons keep the shirt securely on. IT'S LIKE MAGIC.
  3. Saving money (the second you get money, you want to spend it ... everything in the store becomes The Coolest Toy in the World and the Very Thing You've Been Wanting for Years and Years)
  4. Quantum Physics (just like your sister ... lazy bones)
  5. Waiting your turn (eh, you're six ... it comes with the territory)
  6. Keeping surprises a secret (you're a professional Bean Spiller ... it's like it causes you actual pain to know about a surprise but not be able to tell someone else)
  7. Doing your schoolwork without decorating your pages with a various assortment of stick figures and doodles. It's sometimes hard to see what you wrote through all the smiley faces and random shapes. It's infuriatingly adorable. Or adorably infuriating.
  8. Putting in Lego arms. I insert no fewer than one set of arms into empty Lego torsos each day.
  9. Sleeping in. You're a great sleeper but you have yet to realize how delicious it is to sleep in on Saturday morning. You do find it positively amazing to jump on Daddy and me on Saturday morning, however. It's a good thing you're cute.
  10. Sweeping. (if the goal was to fling or to scatter, you'd get an A+; as it is, you need some improvement)
I can remember the instant my midwife handed you to me. I was hopelessly smitten and absolutely terrified. A son. I had a BOY. But I didn't know the first thing about what to do with a little boy! What do I say? What games do I play? What places do I take you to? I was stumped. But my heart was so full of newborn sweetness that I didn't care. Who knew that all I'd need to keep you happy was six hours of hair dryer noise at night and lots of cuddles during the day? And that when you got older, you needed no hair dryer but that you still liked cuddles during the day. And that you're perfectly content with a near-steady supply of cheese, carbs, and Lego time. The Lord was so generous when He gave you to us. He knew that my heart longed for you before you were even born. 

You like to use big words. It's understandable - I, too, have an incredibly smart older sister and I did my darnedest to keep up with her. Sometimes in your haste to go toe-for-toe with her you'll throw out gigantic, $10 words. I've been impressed with your correct usage for many of these words. But then there are those times. Those times when you throw out a sentence like "Look at my hair, Mommy! Do I look like a negotiate?"

Speaking of your hair, you're quite particular about it. You style the front in a specific swoopy way that makes you look like an adorable businessman. Who has a penchant for Captain America t-shirts. 

My sweet boy, you bring an ease to our family, a particular playfulness that leave us in stitches, and a soft heart that leaves us wishing the world were kinder but that by simply being you, the world is automatically kinder. You're respectful, silly, sensitive, excitable, and talented. You're incredibly friendly and extraordinarily thoughtful. Everyone who meets you is smitten by your mischievous smile and carefree attitude. 

There are two verses that I pray over you often:
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

These verses speak to me about a few of your natural, God-given strengths (kindness, respect, and protection). I pray these continue to grow as you get older, always seeking out ways to look out for and serve others. I also pray the Lord would develop and grow the areas of your life that are currently marked by scary thoughts at bedtime. I pray that you will learn to train your mind on good things, on lovely things, on things that He has created. One of the ways to do this is to realize and to remember that He is with you always. There's not a moment He's left you or forgotten about you. You are immeasurably treasured to God, my darling.

And you are to our family as well.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

October 2017 - Recap

My sweet angel,
You've seemed awfully grownie here recently. I was commenting to a dear friend about how you look so different from October 2016. I look back at our family Halloween picture from last year (when we dressed up as the Batfamily) and yesterday (when we dressed up as a 50s Family) and the difference in you is startling. And when I combine yesterday's picture with the picture of almost-two-year-old you also dressed up as a 50s girl, I have to take a deep breath. As I've said many times, I've never been one who mourns each passing stage because each new stage has been better than the one before it. But looking at your toddler sock-hop-y picture and seeing you yesterday makes me realize just how quick seven years has passed and what an amazing person you've grown into. I've loved getting to witness this growth first-hand.

You've always been artistic but you've been uber-artistic this month. We found a channel on YouTube that's full of cartooning tutorials and you've been working through them at a steady pace. I'm incredibly impressed with the smattering of cartoons you've drawn. It took a few months but I'm glad to have finally found a good art channel to supplement our homeschool curriculum.

Speaking of homeschool, it's still going great (and all the mommas said AMEN). It's fun to teach you in a grade when I specifically remember being in that grade. I loved my teacher; I loved learning what the word satchel meant (my teacher called them satchels instead of backpacks and it took well into the first day of school before I figured out what she was talking about); I loved math; I didn't love social studies. In fact, I got my first C in third grade - my final six weeks grade in social studies was a C+ and I thought that meant I wasn't going on to fourth grade. I was sobbing at my desk on the last day of school because I thought I failed the third grade.

One of the things I distinctly remember learning in the third grade was multiplication. We spent days and weeks and months going over multiplication tables. Then we spent a week or two doing 100-problem worksheet drills to test our speed and accuracy. One of my few claim to fames is that I was the only student in my class who could correctly answer 100 multiplication problems in five minutes. It took three or four tries (it took that long for me to remember that 7x8 was 56 and not 54), but I finally did it. And my reward was that I got to play with clay (like actual artist's clay, not Play-Doh) during the next day's math lesson. Which was awesome. Except that squishing and kneading the clay to where it would be soft enough to actually play with took the entire length of the math lesson. So, awesome but kinda not. However 30 years later, I still remember that 7x8=56. Boo yah.

So I'm passing on the 100-problem torch to you, my dear student. And you couldn't be more thrilled or excited to carry on this time-honored tradition. Ok, so maybe thrilled isn't the right word. Maybe eye-roll-y tolerating is more accurate. We've only done two worksheets so far but you went from missing four to only missing one (8x6 is definitely your version of my dreaded 8x7 ... psst, it's 48 not 46). And you've shaved five minutes off your time. Another boo yah.

I love being present for each of your boo yahs.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

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Headlines for November 1, 2017:
  • NYC Attacker Followed ISIS Playbook, Planned Rampage for Weeks
  • Navy recommends sweeping changes after ship collisions
  • Team U.S.A. Prepares for the Winter Olympics
  • Fellow soldier, intel analyst defend Bergdahl
  • Harvey Weinstein banned for life from the Producers Guild of America

Monday, October 02, 2017

September 2017 - Recap

My sweet love,

Whelp, once again I forgot to write last month's recap so I'm pulling double-duty this month.

A few weeks ago, you took your second-but-you-were-too-little-to-remember-your-first trip in an airplane. We flew to Texas to go to our dear friend's wedding outside Austin and to see another set of dear friends in Houston. Flying is not my favorite thing in the world. I never feel well when I fly - it's a combination of a headache and queasiness and discomfort-from-being-six-feet-tall-and-jammed-into-a-tiny-space. When I fly, it's definitely about the destination; the journey can go jump in the lake.

But this journey included two kiddos who had never been on an airplane before - and things are always better when you see them through the eyes of first-timer. On the first leg, you and I sat next to each other and Daddy and Charlie sat next to each other. We switched kids on the way home.

We parked the car in long-term parking and waited for the shuttle to take us to the airport. You were fascinated and thrilled during the entire three-minute ride. You couldn't stop giggling and kept looking around with your mouth open. I love that you're easily impressed. It makes life so fun.

We got through security and boarded the plane without any issues, and you immediately buckled up and started reading the safety information card. That's typically your M.O. Whether we're at a public pool, a playground, a trail, or really anything with a set of rules, you immediately read them. ("Mommy, this sign says the playground is for kids who are 3-5 years years old. Charlie is five-and-a-half. Is that OK?")

You looked a little nervous as we sped up for take-off, you ooh'd and ahh'd as Nashville got smaller and smaller, and you giggled as we rose through the clouds. It was such fun to watch you react to everything. Flying with you definitely helped to distract me from feeling queasy.
And despite my pleading for you two to NOT have to go to the bathroom for the four hours we'd be in an airplane, nature came a'callin' during our flight home. I warned you beforehand that an airplane bathroom was ridiculously small and you got to see for yourself. 

One of the coolest things was when the pilot of the flight to Texas let you and Charlie sit in the cockpit as we were exiting the plane. He encouraged you two to play around with the steering wheels (is it called a steering wheel in a plane?) to get the whole 'pilot experience'. Southwest, you're top-notch.

School is in full swing and this year has already surpassed last year by leaps and bounds in terms of your excitement level and enthusiasm. We've had a few tears, of course (what would homeschool be without tears?!). But I feel like we've hit a good groove this year (whereas last year was fairly groove-less and frustrating). So thumbs up to you, Third Grade. Please don't punk out on me.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

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Headlines for October 2, 2017:
  • At least 58 dead, more than 500 injured in Las Vegas shooting
  • Tom Petty, legendary rocker, dead at 66
  • OJ Simpson: What's next following prison release?
  • American trio awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine
  • Equifax Made Major Errors That Led to Hack, Smith Concedes

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Month 68 - Recap

My best bear,
So I don't even think you know I do these recaps. Or don't do, as has been my normal for the past few months, but that's neither here nor there ... But since your darling older sister called out my slacker tendencies on keeping up with your recaps, I got back on the wagon with hers. But I can't very well recap her life and leave yours out (I mean, I can - #secondchildprobs - but I won't).

So you're now a graduate of K4 at First Presbyterian Preschool in Dothan and are now enrolled as Student #2 in the Smith Academy of Occasional Learning and Constant Cheese Consumption. I'm still working on our school's name, but the point is that I'll be homeschooling you for kindergarten. I'm both nervous and excited to be teaching you both. This will be a year of growth, full of laughs and tears, lasting memories and occasional eye rolls. But let's stop talking about me.

We got you a new bike. I don't expect Daddy and me to receive an award for Most Observant Parents for When It's Time to Upgrade Their Child's Bike. See, you've had the same Cars bike for pretty much your whole life. It's not like your bike has grown with you through the years so I'm not sure why it really never occurred to us to get you a bigger bike. With each inch you've grown, your bike looked more and more ridiculous. But you know what's funny? Daddy and I didn't even realize it (until a few weeks ago). I mean, we sort of did, but not fully. I guess we didn't realize how much you had grown (newsflash, self: a kid grows a lot in three years *facepalm*). 

Nashville is anything but flat, so we're all getting used to riding bikes over these hills (the only hills we encountered in SE Alabama were a speed bump or two). After our 2nd or 3rd bike ride, Daddy and I realized that you were struggling a lot to keep up. And it wasn't for lack of trying; you were pedaling like a mad man. It was because your bike was made for a wee baby child. So we upgraded you to the size of bike that Natalie had and upgraded her to the next size up. And wouldn't you know it, your legs aren't a blur anymore on our bike rides. Now we just need to work on our endurance. Because, oof.

A few days ago Daddy gave you and Natalie the task of bagging all the leaves from the backyard. Because of having longer arms and three years more focus, she finished bagging her piles that same evening. You, however, only finished half of your piles. It was supposed to rain the next day so I wasn't counting on the job getting finished. But after breakfast the next morning, you got your socks and shoes on and informed me that you wanted to finish you job. You were outside for an hour, bagging up the soggy-from-the-overnight-storm leaves. Never once did you complain (except for when you saw a bug. I tried to tell you that it's normal to see bugs outside, especially in leaf piles, but you were having none of it).

You finished your job without me prompting you. You knew it had to be done, so you did it. No fuss, no whining (minus the bug, of course), just hard, sweaty work. And it was probably the most proud I have ever been of you in my whole life. What may have seemed like a simple action speaks volumes about your character. I pray integrity continues to be a habit, that it becomes fully ingrained into your very person. I don't want you to shy away from hard work because it's everywhere. The Lord has given you a sweetness and compassion that's incredibly endearing - and couple that with a desire to work hard? My boy, you'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

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Headlines for August 9, 2017:
  • North Korea Mulling Plan to Strike Guam, State Media Announces
  • Google may face lawsuit alleging gender discrimination
  • Ex-Astronaut Offers Bold Three-Step Plan to Put Humans on Mars
  • Paris Police Hunt BMW After Soldiers Rammed in Levallois-Perret
  • 'Rhinestone Cowboy' Crooner Glen Campbell Dies at 81
  • Disney removing content from Netflix to make way for its own streaming service

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

July 2017 - Recap

My sweet girl,

So your super-slacker momma has lived up to her prestigious title and failed to do a recap for the last few months. If you were younger you'd never know. I'd just be a happy little slacker going about my happy slacking business. But nooooo. You're a voracious little book worm who reads everything she can get her hands on. This also includes your monthly recaps. You love reading about how you threw up all over me when you were a baby. You giggle endlessly about the funny things you said when you were a toddler. You delight in going through your Yearly Recaps to see if your Top 10 Lists have changed. I say all that to say this - somebody has noticed that somebody else has neglected her recap-writing duties and has been quite vocal about that failing. Very well then.

You did fun things.
You said funny things.
You ate food.
You slept in a bed.
You read a billion books.
You drew a billion pictures.
You had to write sentences because you were a sassy little potato.

And that about sums up the last few months.

Oh! I almost forgot. You had a solo in our church's musical and I sobbed all the tears (in case you didn't know by now, I'm that mom). You finished second grade (barely ... ha). And let's see, what else ... what else. Oh yes, that's right. We packed up our stuff and moved from Dothan to Nashville. A pretty boring few months, I s'pose.

So, Nashville. It's fantastic. It's busy and fast and gorgeous and delicious and full of fireflies. We're renting a two-story house; finding a one-story house isn't easy, I've come to find. I'm not a super fan of stairs (being the Queen of All Things Clumsy) but you and Charlie were thrilled when we picked our rental and you saw that it had stairs. We're almost two months into this house and we've had zero broken bones and zero tumbles down the stairs. The only injuries have been rug burns on Charlie's belly (from sliding down the stairs without a shirt on - Momma ain't got a whole lotta sympathy for that kind of injury) and a sore booty for you after your flattened cardboard box sled slipped out from underneath you and you bumped down a few stairs on your rear end. (*Note: this was not my idea. This was a Daddy activity. I was on stand-by with keys in hand should we have to make a quick trip to the ER).

Out of the two kid bedrooms, yours is noticeably bigger (Older Sibling Privileges for the win!). You have a little nook in one end of your room where we've put a desk and some of your art supplies. When Daddy and I showed you the final result (the desk with its shelf filled with blank paper and five metal buckets full of markers and pens and colored pencils hanging on the wall) you squealed and jumped up and down. "I FEEL LIKE A GROWN UP KID NOW!!!"

And I have to admit when I see you at your desk, working on your latest masterpiece, you do look so grown. It's pretty awesome. And slightly heartbreaking because you're not so little anymore. But mostly it's awesome. Because as you'll remember from previous recaps, when you were little, you threw up on me all the time. And that was most assuredly not awesome.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

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Headlines for August 1, 2017:
  • North Korean missiles may reach US, but lack effective re-entry: analysts
  • Scaramucci removed as White House communications director after 11 days on the job
  • Los Angeles Awarded 2028 Olympics In Deal With IOC; Paris Gets 2024 Games
  • Jailbreak: Inmates used peanut butter to fool guard
  • 'Smoldering': Historic Heat Wave to Hit Northwest
  • World's Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Opens in Swiss Alps

Sunday, April 02, 2017

March 2017 - Recap

My darling dollbaby,

You got a part in our church's musical! You have two lines as the Mayor's wife. You reeeeeally wanted a speaking part and you've been praying super hard that the director would give you a part, regardless of how big or small. What impressed me the most, though, is that you also prayed for God to keep you from being grumpy if you didn't get a part, that all you wanted was for the director to make the right decisions - and that if you weren't the best choice for any parts, you wanted to be OK with it. You were just excited to sing and dance with the rest of the kiddos. But you did get a part! And I can't wait to watch you shine as Mrs. Mayor.

The biggest news of your eight-plus years of existence occurred yesterday. YOU LEARNED HOW TO RIDE A BIKE WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS! You've been trying for years (literally) to figure out this whole balancing thing. It's confounded you each and every time, and most every bike riding session ended with you in huffs and wails and sighs of epic proportions.

But yesterday. Yesterday. Daddy took you outside to practice again and he came in a few minutes later telling me that you were close. I came outside to see you teetering and tottering down the driveway. I walked back into the house fairly impressed. Not ten minutes later, you ran into the house screeching at me that you just rode down the street and back by yourself. I was all, whaaaaaaaa?

I walked outside and, sure enough, you hopped on your bike and zoomed off down the street as if you've been riding for years and years. Seriously. Once it clicked, it clicked hard and there was no turning back. No wobbling, no hesitation, no nothing. You fell once into the grass when you turned into some loose gravel but that's been it!

I'm so proud of you.

I love how your timing is uniquely you. It may not be typical, but why would it be? Why should it be? You are anything but typical and I love that about you. I pray you'll always be unique, always maintaining your own timing for doing things, always striving to be the best you can be. You are such a treasure, my rad little Boss Rider.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

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Headlines for April 1, 2017:
  • The Coolest Parents in the World Celebrate Their 11th Anniversary
  • Texas Church Bus Crash: Witness Account Highlights Dangers of Texting While Driving
  • Sen. Schumer Says It’s Unlikely Gorsuch Will Reach 60 Votes
  • Chicago Police Make Arrest in Sexual Assault Shown on Facebook
  • BeyoncĂ© Is the Top Pick to Voice Nala in 'Lion King' Movie
  • National Parks Could See Budget Cuts
  • New Images of Tennessee Teen Allegedly Abducted by Teacher Give Hope to Girl's Family

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Months 63 & 64 - Recap

Hello second child,
Whoops. Forgot about Month 63. Well, I mean, I didn't forget about Month 63. We did things, you built Legos, you aggravated your sister, you ate lots of carbs and cheese - it was a good month. But I forgot to document that month on time. Soooo yeah. My bad.

Know what else I forgot? I forgot to check your school bag one Friday in Month 63 that informed me that you were scheduled to be the Start Student for the following week. I didn't check your school bag until five minutes before we left for school the Monday of your Star Student week. I read the letter informing me of this Most Highest Honor in K4 and telling me the necessary supplies (five photos of the aforementioned Star Student and a questionnaire) and was all "Oh SNAP. I stink at momming." I told you how I messed up and you looked positively brokenhearted. But you mustered up all the maturity a five-year-old could muster and told me "It's ok, Mommy. Don't worry about it. I don't have to be a Star Student." And I was all "Oh no way, Jose. You're going to be a Star Student. This was my fault so I'll fix it." And your darling teacher did indeed fix it. You got to be the Star Student for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (you had a dentist appointment on Tuesday) and the entire next week. You were beaming from ear to ear. Your teacher is the cat's pajamas.

You've been doing magic tricks lately. And darn it if your magic tricks aren't some of the cutest things on the planet. Your showmanship is an A+. Your slight-of-hand, however, is a solid D. For your "pick a card, any card" trick, you fan out a stack of cards. We pick a card, look at it, then hand it back to you. Then you (oh-so obviously) put that card on the bottom of the stack. You make a dramatic show of saying abracadabra and waving your magic wand then you pull the bottom-most card while you say "Is this your card?" And, shock-of-all-shocks, it is our card! You're so pleased with your magic trick that you run back to your bedroom to bring out another one.

This trick involves a hat. You bring out your baseball hat turned upside down (so the open end is facing up). You wave your magic wand over the hat and say "I'm going to make a ball appear out of the hat." After a few abracadabras, you turn over the hat and, voila! A ball falls out! Amazing! Stupendous! You love explaining the 'secret' of how there was a ball in the hat THE WHOLE TIME! Who woulda thunk it?! NOBODY, I tell ya.

You've turned the top of your dresser into a one-of-a-kind Lego city. At any one time, it has a church, a school, a jail, a construction site, Batman fighting Spider-Man, and various assortment of cars and boats. It's beyond fantastic. And you're so proud of it.

My momma heart is often at the verge of bursting when it comes to you, sweet boy. You're simply one of a kind.

Hugs and smooches,
Mommy & Daddy

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Headlines for March 9, 2017:
  • Texas woman uses social media to give homeless man new lease on life
  • Trump Admin Ups Drone Strikes, Tolerates More Civilian Deaths: Officials
  • Fierce Nor'easter Goes Easy on Most Big East Coast Cities
  • Kids Crash Professor's BBC Interview on Live TV
  • Somali pirates demand ransom for oil tanker, EU force says