Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

The last of the parades was this past weekend.  We didn't go to it.  But you enjoyed parades this season, including the one at your school.  Mommy was able to be there.  In fact, Mommy was able to spend time with you at school for some of your regular activities.

I go by many names, "Aleta, daughter, Lester's daughter, teacher's daughter, sister, wife, mommy" and it's cute to add "Gregory's Mommy" to the list.  Your classmates know me as your mommy and I feel very welcomed by them, always with smiles and waves, sometimes even hugs.

Since the last letter, you had your 4 year old doctor appointment.  You did great, until Daddy said you would have shots.  Then, you were a mess, constantly saying, "I don't want shots!"  Daddy said you had to be a big boy and face it, but even the doctor said, "immunization" rather than the word "shot" to you.  Your weight was taken, as well as your height - both are right in the middle of the growth chart.  The doctor was very pleased.  Your vision checked at 20/20.  And your hearing, not a surprise, was perfect.

When we asked how your appointment went, you said, "Not so great.  Because of the shots."  I don't know if you even felt the first one, but the second was miserable.  After the second shot, the third was a mass of 3 parents (Oma was there too) and 2 nurses holding down a 4 year old.  Thankfully no more shots until you turn 11.  Whew.

We went to a Chinese restaurant and you told Opa all about the shots.  Mommy gave you three pennies to drop into the pond.  Three pennies for three wishes, because of the three shots.

At 40 pounds, you no longer need to be in a car seat.  Now you are in a booster chair and you know how to buckle and unbuckle your seatbelt.  You also know the rules.  You don't take off the buckle until we tell you to do so.  You also don't lock the doors when they unlock!  (You did that once to Mommy after she already got out of the car.)

You are also undressing yourself, bathing yourself, drying yourself, getting dressed by yourself.  Sometimes, though, you don't mind help.  But most of the time, you like being an independent big boy.

Recently the library had a book sale.  We went with Oma to see what treasures we could find.  I was prepared for you to say, "Mommy, I'm bored.  Let's go."  Instead, you dove into the books.  You put so many books in our box that we had to go back through the box and see what we would actually purchase.  You would find a book and say, "This is the perfect book!  It's about baby animals!"  You would plead for other books.  The ladies around us smiled, "He is so cute."  "It's wonderful that simple things like books make him happy."  "Look at his beautiful blonde hair."  You weren't just well behaved, you were happy to be with us and go through the books.  Your joy brought joy to others.

Mommy really wanted to go to the India Festival at NOMA.  This wasn't Daddy's cup of tea, but he brought us, knowing how much Mommy wanted to go.  Poor Daddy fell and scratched up both knees.  You are "Dr. Gregory" for Daddy - helping to put ointment on his knees (which are healing).  The festival was filled with vibrant colors and spicy food.  What Mommy did, you wanted as well.  I had a henna design (moon and star) on my hand.  You wanted one and got a shark, which you proudly showed your friends later.  Mommy got the dot on her forehead.  We tried to say it was only for girls, but the lady giving them out said, "If he wants one, he can have one."  We didn't leave it on you for long.  Lol.

Some cute things to share...

Daylight saving time.  Spring forward.  It isn't easy on adults, worse for kids.  You know to look outside if it's getting dark to actually see if it's "time for bath and bed."  The morning after the clock change, you didn't want to wake up.  You said, 'But the sun isn't awake yet!"  How can a parent argue with that?

Daddy often is the one with the jokes.  But Mommy had a plan.  You almost gave it away.  We were working on a craft and joke for Daddy.  Daddy left his bedroom and went to the bathroom.  You ran around the house with your hands on your face.  You can't hide a secret, kiddo!  Daddy gave you a hug and you busted out, "We are not making ANYTHING."

This earned Mommy a stink eye from Daddy.  I told him he would see everything in the morning.  Actually, that's very accurate, as in.. 2 am.  The craft project was a Leprechaun hat made out of toilet paper, which was placed on the toilet top.  Then, we painted the bottom of your feet green and left Leprechaun prints on the toilet seat.  And we put green dye in the toilet water.  Daddy went to the bathroom at 2am and actually took a picture and posted it on Facebook.  It's good to surprise Daddy too.

While at Oma and Opa's house, you found some bubble wands.  Mommy said, "Bubble, Bubble, toil and trouble."  You repeated, "Bubble, Bubble, toilet trouble!"  Oma and Mommy laughed so hard we cried.  And yes.... bubbles could very possibly be toilet trouble.

The other morning, Daddy tried to wake you up by singing.  When you had enough, you said, "No more.  You're getting on my last nerd."  I guess we aren't too clear when we speak, but your choice of words are so funny.

However, not all things are cheerful.  Mommy was bringing you to school, taking the normal calm route.  When we were at the red light, full stop, we were hit from behind!  It was a hit and run.  Mommy  made sure you were okay, but was SO upset.  How could someone leave without checking to see if the people they hit needed help?  What's wrong with our society?  Son, if you are ever the cause of an accident, think of the people who you hurt.  Try to help them as best you can.

The ambulance and fire truck arrived quickly.  The EMT asked you questions, not Mommy.  The EMT turned to Mommy and said, "He had his seatbelt on.  Good job, Mommy.  He is a smart boy."  The firemen were happy to make you happy by allowing you to get on the fire truck.

Fortunately, there are good people in this world.  There was a witness to the accident and he took down the license plate number before it sped off.  He stayed with us until Daddy and the police officer arrived and gave information to confirm what happened.  Help people, sweet boy, even when you aren't in the accident.  You can't imagine how much this matters to those going through a situation.

You are learning how to have sweet manners.  You open doors for Mommy and say, "Ladies first."

You love making projects, playing games and practicing finding Easter eggs.  Yes, it's already that time again.  This year, you are more and more into what's going on around you.  Your eagerness and joy is contagious.  You love going to your friends birthday parties and singing them Happy Birthday.  We recently went to Harper King's birthday party at Storyland.  You've been there before, but this time... you remember the rhymes, which made the characters even more fascinating to you.

We received wonderful news that St. Martin's Episcopal School accepted you application.  Mommy and Daddy know you will receive a great education in a caring environment much like you have at St. Augustine's.  I'm praying financial aid comes through for us so that we can submit the final paperwork.

There are SO many events coming up in April.  I'm eager for you to enjoy as much as possible.  Sometimes it can be exhausting on the parents, but you love outings, seeing new things, you soak it up with smiles and son.... that's what makes it all worth it.

Love Always,

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

While Mommy was driving, someone honked their horn.  You said, "They are saying Hello, Mommy."  I smiled, "Maybe they are."  You replied, "No, Mommy, I was joking.  They were being rude."  You make me laugh!  You like to test the waters with telling jokes, knowing you are meaning the opposite and then you end it with, "That was funny."

On Valentine's Day, mommy and daddy bought you a teddy bear holding a heart with candy inside.  You gave mommy a heart filled with Sponge Bob candy.  Of course, you wanted the Sponge Bob candy, but it was breakfast time.  I told you it was too early in the morning for candy.  Crossing your arms, stomping out of the room, you called out, "Well Fine!"  You went into your room.

You came out of your room and asked for candy again.  The scene repeated itself.  When you tried a third time, Mommy said, "If you keep asking, Mommy will get upset."  This is one of your tactics, keep trying and wear a person down.  It didn't work.  Mommy stayed calm, riding out your whining.

After a few minutes, you came up to me and said, "Mommy, I have something to tell you."  I said, "Okay, I'm listening."  You said in a sweet voice, "I'm sorry for being mad at you earlier."  I said, "Thank you for the apology."  You added, "Mommy, I have more to tell you."

Surely you weren't going to ask for candy again?!  You smiled, "I love you!" and you ran into my arms for a big bear hug.  It was the best Valentine's gift ever.   You melt my heart, sweet boy.

Such much happens around your birthday.  Four days before is Valentine's day - you loved helping Mommy make the Valentine's day bags for your school friends.  You and your schoolmates were very generous, coming home with all kinds of sweets, cards and toys.

On Thursday after Valentine's Day, Father AJ sent Mommy a text message that during Chapel Day, you received birthday blessings and you were really cute.  Oh, how I wish I could have been there to see that!

For Friday, you delivered the dinosaur cupcakes that Mommy made for your classroom.   You said that you had a birthday hat and a certificate and a ribbon from your teachers and everyone sang Happy Birthday.  You were so proud of the hat and gifts from your teachers!

A side note - a little after you birthday, you tripped and fell at the school playground.  You told Oma, "I had an icepack on my leg and everyone had to be super nice to me."  Again, your words are adorable.

Saturday, the 18th, was your birthday and you were SO excited.  Even with the carnival season in full swing and flu season on the rampage, thus making for some understood cancellations, you still had 18 kids and plenty of adults at your party.

This year, instead of having a celebration at home, we booked the "one hour flight time" at Sky Zone.  All kinds of trampolines and foam blocks and games were available.  As one father said, "This is a great place to have a party, better than at a home.  By the time you pay for a bounce house to be delivered and the food and prep the food and clean the house and have the party and then clean afterwards - it's all for the same price and this is a lot less hassle."  It was the first time we had a party away from the home and it was a happy success.  I loved seeing all of the smiles on the kids' faces.

Thinking about it, you had third cousins and fourth cousins that came to the party, pretty amazing and friends from Oma and Opa's street, lots of sweet schoolmates (all the parents and grandparents took their time and energy to bring the children, which is work and I'm grateful for that) and your grandparents and aunts and uncles - what an incredible blessing!

After the flight time, true to Mommy's promise to you, upstairs Mommy had the room decorated in dinosaur theme from a dinosaur banner to a dino wall scene, dino plates and napkin and..... Mommy baked a baby triceratops dinosaur (which Daddy said looked more like a cat Lol).  But you loved it and if you were happy with the cake, then so was I!

The next day, you brought dinosaur masks to share with your classmates as a "thank you" for coming to the party.  (We also had dino party favor bags, which you insisted that we make to share with your friends.  You are learning more social skills than I knew at your age!)

Soon after you birthday, we received a "waiting list" letter from the Magnet school that you applied for.  I was a little sad with the news, but also expecting it.  The day you took the test, Daddy asked Mommy where I thought you would place.  My response was, "He won't be in the top 80 spots, but he will rank high enough to be on the waiting list for acceptance."

Over 1500 children applied for 80 seats.  Your wait list position is seat 20.  So, out of 1500, you ranked at 100.  That's not shabby, sweet son.  You couldn't write your name, which is a skill set the magnet school wants you to have in pre-k.  I'm proud of you, Gregory.  My wish is for you to have a well-rounded education and a CHILDHOOD.  I say this to you, but believe me, I was stressing about the results of the Magnet school letter which said you are "Advanced" but you didn't reach the mark of "Very Advanced" which would have guaranteed a seat in the 80 positions available.

The middle of the bar was "Limited to Average" then "Average" then "Average to Advanced" then "Advanced" and highest "Very Advanced."  Placing second to highest for a 3 year old (that was the age you took the test) is pretty darn good.

Today, we went with Oma to the library.  You asked, out the blue, "Can we go to the library?"  Mommy said, "Actually, it's a good night to go, because they are doing the "Reading to Rover" program.  Do you want to read to a dog?"  If you had a tail, it would have wagged!

You grabbed your "B" book.  It was a story about "little b" who filled her box with a lot of things, such as bees, baby baboons, bears, bananas - it is a cute adventure story.

And... you read the story to a dog named, Benny.  He loved the story so much that he rolled over for a tummy rub.  You did so well with reading the words that Benny's owner asked you, "Do you like to read?"  You said, "Yes."

She then asked, "How old are you?"  You were eager to share your big boy age, "Four!"  Mommy added, "He JUST turned four."  The lady looked at Mommy and said to you, "You are reading way before you are supposed to."

So, Magnet school.... I have a four letter F word for you... Fool.

Sorry, that was mean of Mommy.  You learn quickly, son, when it's something you are interested in.   You fight us on writing your name.  Part of the problem is you don't have the strength in your hands yet.  We are working on that too.  But I'm not going to sacrifice your childhood to become a stressed out overachiever.  You need laughter and learning.  We'll find the right balance for you.

In the meantime... there are friends' parties to attend, visits with family planned and Mardi Gras parades at your school.  Continue to love life and listen to conversations and soak in the world around you.... and.... as you did this evening.... take the time to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Love Always,

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

You ate worms.  You laughed about doing so too.  We were at a restaurant and it started with you making a LOUD fart.  I thought it was Daddy; it was that loud.  You denied it at first, but then admitted it was you.  Our food came and Daddy said, "EWWWW, don't eat the worm!"  You delighted in doing so, when normally you wouldn't touch spaghetti.  Farts and worms, the life of a mommy with a boy.  Such was our Italian night out at Cafe Latte Da.

Your teacher spoke with mommy about a question I had just recently, "I think he is going to be left-handed.  His grip is stronger in his left hand and he writes better with his left hand.  I'm going to guide him more towards the left, but I'm not pushing him.  I spoke with Carrie (the assistant teacher) and she agrees with me."  We spoke for a little while outside of your classroom.

When I walked into the room, you jumped out of the sleep mat and ran to me, "Mommy! Mommy!"  I later asked if you took a nap at all.  You replied, "No.  I heard your soft talking to the teacher and I knew you were there.  Then I saw you and jumped up!  I was happy!"

Since that conversation, your teacher has suggested using play dough and soft balls to squeeze in order to strengthen your hands.  You love play dough, so that won't be a difficult thing to incorporate more into your play time.

Another day when Mommy picked you up from school, I asked the standard, "How did Gregory do today?"  Your teacher said the same reply, "He did great.  He always does great!"  But then she added, "He is a good kid."  I said, "Aw, thank you."  But then she continued, "No, I mean, he REALLY wants to do good.  Not just that he tries, but he truly wants to do the right thing."  That made me so happy to hear!

You love apples in the morning, especially when you get to use the peel and core machine.  You crank away at the machine and we all enjoy the spiral slices.  One morning you said, "Oh, this one has seeds on it."  You took the seeds off, then you and Daddy planted the seeds in the garden.

We asked you what seeds need to grow.  You jumped up and down, "Sun and rain and LOVE!"

Every day you want to go outside and look for the apple tree to grow.  We don't think the seeds from the apples will take.  Instead, Daddy bought a blueberry and grape plant (looks more like a stick).  Daddy said, "We have to work in the backyard garden."  You said, "The backyard garden is a terrible, terrible mess!"  I had to laugh, because you are correct.  The weeds are horrible.  Hopefully the plants will survive as well as the weeds seem to....

You and Daddy also planted carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and flowers in small pods.  The carrots are already taking off and we'll soon have to put them in the ground.  It's great to see your enthusiasm in growing things!  When I see your eagerness to water the plants and sing to them, I think, "Maw Maw would be so happy."  Your great-grandmother used to grow a lot of veggies and flowers.  She can't keep up with her gardens now, but they used to be amazing.  Maybe you'll have her green-thumb gene.

A few nights ago you woke up sobbing.  You had a nightmare where you heard Mommy saying, "Hurry, hurry, get into the car."  But you didn't and the car left without you.  You cried as you shared the dream with me.  Your tears broke my heart.  I held you until you calmed down, "Mommy is right here.  I'm right here."  You fell back to sleep, but I stayed up... thinking about the nightmare I had a few nights ago.

I dreamt that the three of us, you, Mommy and Daddy, went to a party.  A lot of people were at the party that we didn't know.  You ran and we couldn't find you.  We called out your name and we ran out of the house, running down the streets.  I saw two adults with two kids and realized that you were one of the kids.  The kidnappers had dressed you in girl's clothing so nobody would look for you.  Daddy and Mommy took off towards you, praying we could get to you before you got into the car.  I woke up at that time, terrified and had to check that you were okay. I never had dreams like this until I became a parent.  It's the scariest thing.

From nightmares to scary nights.  After your bath, Daddy wrapped you in a towel and picked you up. He tripped on the bottom of the towel and the two of you fell.  Your mouth got hurt - inside the upper and lower lip where your teeth must have gashed.  Your mouth was bleeding so much it scared the heck out of me.  I had to beg you to swish water in your mouth to clean it out and see where the blood was coming from.  You didn't like seeing the blood.  Thankfully, the bleeding stopped and we determined a trip to the hospital was not needed.

That said, Mommy asked Oma and Opa to set up a doctor's appointment for the next day, just to be on the safe side.  I figured the doctor would recommend an antibiotic, because it's not like there's an ointment I can put on a wound... this is inside your mouth.  Sure enough, the doctor gave a prescription, also said soft food for a couple of days and that you might bruise on your back and leg, because you were sore there.  But nothing sprained or broken and your teeth are okay.  I didn't sleep at all last night.  I gave you Tylenol and you allowed me to put a cool small towel on your lip for the swelling.  Then we talked for a while so I could know that you were okay... you slept and I watched over.  Things can happen so quickly.

You are so precious, my sweet son.  When you get hurt, it leaves a scar on my heart.  Mommy wants to wrap you up in a bubble to protect you.  People say that can't be done, but just recently this was proven wrong.  We went to a festival where there was an air ball that you got into and walked and spun around on water.  You were afraid at first to get into it, but warmed up to the idea later.  I was proud of you to overcome your fears and try something new.

It was so much fun that you cried when it was time to get out of the bubble.  It was pretty expensive, so we couldn't afford for you to go in there again.  But how wonderful that you did it!  Now.... if I could buy one and just keep you wrapped up safe....

This past week, Oma and Opa picked you up from school a lot, while Mommy worked longer hours for billing time.  Oma taught you how to play "go fish" and "battle" with cards.  You know what the King, Queen, Jack and Ace cards look like and it's great for number recognition.  Playing is fun, but losing... eh, not so good.  When you lost to Opa, you gave him a fierce scowl.  Oma turned it into a game (great redirection), "Who can make the angriest face?  the saddest face?  the funniest face?"  She video'd it and you would then say, "Let me see the video!"  I have to say, those videos are hysterical!

I thought you would be spending an afternoon with Oma this past Friday, because Mommy and Daddy had to do taxes.  You said that you would be a good boy and that you wanted to come with us. Then you said, "Remember when I went there and I broke the toy?"  The memory came flooding back.  You broke one of the CPA's grandkids' toys.  Wow.  You remembered this, even before going to the CPA's house!

When we arrived for taxes, Lynn asked if you wanted to watch cartoons.  That's a given!  He turned on the TV and you looked around and asked, "Where can I sit?"  Lynn said it was up to you, any place.  Daddy and Mommy settled in to do our taxes.  I shared how you remembered about the broken toy.  Daddy and Lynn had the same reaction, "Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about that!"  Between numbers, we talked about food and lobster.  Within seconds, you came into the room with a hamburger pillow, which you thought was neat.  Lynn said, "Interesting that we are talking about food and he comes in with the hamburger pillow."

As we signed the paperwork and checked once again on how you were doing, Lynn said, "You have a really good kid.  Ya'll are doing a great job."  Aw, that's so sweet.  We're blessed with you, Gregory.  Oh now, don't let that get to your head.  When you don't get what you want or when you don't win at a game, you have a temper to you.  Also, when you aren't feeling well, you tend to get snappy until we realize you aren't feeling well.  But these times aren't your dominant personality.

Such as today, when we went to the St. Christopher Boy Scout Parade.  You had a blast.  Laughing, smiling, catching beads and stuffed animals and toys.  One boy threw a stuffed football to you, but you missed.  The boy went chasing after the football before another child could take the football that was meant for you and the boy handed it to you.  After he rejoined the parade route, we realized it was a little girl who was going to get the football that you missed... You gave it to her.  That was so awesome.  You didn't fuss about giving up the football, which by the way, you really love playing football with Daddy.  You gave the toy to the girl willingly and with kindness.

You listen when we don't realize it and you pick up on humor so quickly.  The other day we were watching a movie and the character said something funny with a combination of words.  We both laughed.  Later that day, you used the same words, but with things you like, "I like peanut butter and Toy Story.  Don't judge me."  You had the attitude and all.  I busted out laughing.

Daddy also shared this on Facebook:

My (almost) 4 year old son just told me "You're an acquired taste". And I am like... WHERE DO YOU GET THIS FROM??

You use things at the right time, so it's not just being a parrot.

How much of your childhood will you remember?  You remembered something from last year when we did taxes.  How much will stay with you?  The good things, I hope.  I pray we can create many happy, childhood memories for you - from learning at school and making new friends to walking in air balls and catching beads.  Childhood should be about joyful times and creating good character.  I hope you will think we're good parents.  The future will hold times of you thinking you know it all and will fight us... but in the long run... I pray you know you are loved.  I pray you will find smiles when you think back on your childhood.

Love Always,

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

You told Daddy upon his return home from a three day business trip, "I didn't make Mommy upset, not even one time."  Before Daddy left, he told you to behave and be extra good, because Mommy wasn't feeling well.  I had a sinus infection (which I'm still coughing from, but a thousand times better than last weekend).  My parents were out of town at the time, Daddy was away on business, but even with that.... you going to school and Mommy going to work and being sick, well, we managed.  But yes, I'm thrilled to say you were an extra good boy.

I can't believe that in a few weeks you will be four years old.  You were such a sweet baby, loving cuddles and falling asleep holding strands of my hair.  Even as a baby, you loved to smile and see us make silly faces.  Now, as a boy, you enjoy making the silly faces, jokes about farts (boys, what can you do), and giving hugs and kisses.

Just recently I watched a television show... there was a mom and her 14 year old boy.  The son was pretty obnoxious.  The mother walked into his room and she said to herself, "I miss my baby.  My sweet boy who gave hugs and was quick to smile.  I miss that sweet boy."  I don't know what your future will be, how obnoxious you might become... so in the meantime, I'm cherishing these precious moments of your sweetness.

You love doing things on your own, "no, let me do it."  We love to teach you and help you grow in your confidence and independence... but sometimes... it's not a good thing.

Today you gave Mommy and Daddy a horrible scare.  We were in the grocery store.  You darted down a different aisle.  Daddy said he was going after you, but then we couldn't find you!  We were running down the aisles calling your name.  I heard your voice and saw you running for me.  Daddy and Mommy were so upset that you started to cry.  You are independent, but you hopefully understand how important it is to stay with Mommy and Daddy now.  You're just too fast and determined.

It's the first time we've had a scare like that and I pray never again.  We explained how a stranger could take you away if you aren't with us.  Next time we go somewhere, we will have this conversation with you again prior to the outing.  You're a smart boy and you understand.  You make promises and you know you need to keep them.  Staying safe with Mommy and Daddy is a big promise.

School is going very well.  Each morning you want to stay in bed.  Daddy and Mommy become the tickle monsters.  You greet the sunshine with laughter.  Once we are at school, you are eager for the classroom door to open.  There's a small window on the door; you stand on tippy toes to look through the window.  Then you step aside for your school mates to look and see what the teachers are working on for the day.

Some mornings you ask me if you can run and play with your schoolmates in the St. Augustine courtyard.  After you promise you will come back inside when the door is open - then, yes, you run outside, play chase and tag and see which child can jump the highest.  As another parent said, "How do they have that much energy in the morning."

When we are in the hallway, a few minutes before the door opens, you and your friends are chatterboxes.  You'll describe the decorations on the door, point to each name, talk about favorite toys.  It's adorable.

When I pick you up from school, you grab my hand and run me over to the wall, showing me how your banana is in green.  You aren't the only one.  While we are there and you point to your banana in green, other children then get up and say, "There's my banana too!"  The children have a sense of pride in their good behavior.

Thinking about next year makes me a little sad.  We still don't know what school you will attend.  Will you get accepted into a school that only spent 15 minutes with you for testing?  Will you get accepted into a more expensive school where we are trying for financial aid?  Will you win the lottery (literally) at another school?  Will you stay at St. Augustine's for the last year they offer classes?  You have friends this year.  I'm praying that even if you and your schoolmates go to different schools next year that we, as parents, can keep in touch via Facebook and attend play dates and parties.  The children at your school are so sweet and a great group of friends.

For instance, when Daddy came back from his business trip, he offered to bring you to school the next morning.  I made your lunch box and put it in Daddy's car.  But when Daddy dropped you off to school, he forgot the lunchbox.  The teacher called Mommy at work and I sent Daddy a text.  Fortunately, Daddy was really close by your school and dropped your lunchbox off in time.

Daddy said, "It was cute to see all the kids sitting at the table for lunch.  Gregory pointed to me and said, "You FORGOT my lunch!"  The other kids all spoke up, "That's okay.  We took care of Gregory.  We shared our food with him."  It was something to see."  This story warmed my heart - children not just sharing with a schoolmate but taking care of their friend in need.  This is the beauty and character that the parents and St Augustine's teachers and environment have developed with our children.

I love you, son.  I love your joy of life and your compassion and even your little frowns of annoyance.  Thank you for letting me see the world through your eyes and lifting my spirits to youth and faith again, the way that only a child can do.

Love Always,

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Letter to My Son

Dear Son,

We are ending another year, saying Goodbye to 2016.  This year your ability to understand what's going on around you has grown in leaps and bounds.  This Christmas, it wasn't just about the wrapping paper or the bright lights.  It was about Christmas, Baby Jesus, giving and receiving, Santa and being on the "nice" list, the consequences of your actions, writing letters to Santa (Oma was a big help in working with your writing skills) and singing joyful songs.

At your school Christmas performance, you sang loud and clear, did the hand motions (for instance, hands above your head for "antlers") and even deepened your voice to represent Santa.  Your teacher told us before how you do great with knowing the words to the songs and how loud you are when you sing... it's one thing to hear it from your teacher, but really cool to see it in a performance.

Your behavior at school is fantastic!  You rarely have your banana in the yellow.  Though one day when it did, you told Mommy, "My banana was in green, but don't go to my school."  Reg flag warning.  You knew it was a lie and you tried to cover by making sure I wouldn't follow up and see where your banana was.  I think that's sneaky smart.  You did confess though and Mommy told you the worst part was the lie.  You apologized.

You also added, "But Mommy, I did not push, kick or yell at the teacher."  (The yellow was because you and a group of other children didn't want to stop playing ring around the rosie.)  I replied, "That's good, but did you listen to your teacher when she told you to stop?"  You said, "No."  We talked about making sure you continue with good behavior and part of good behavior is listening to your teacher, your parents and your grandparents.  We explained how respect is important.

Recently you told Mommy and Daddy, "I don't want to play with kids who are in the red (banana in the red)."  We tried to explain that a child can make a bad choice, but is still a good person and to give them a chance.  (Last year was your first year in school and it was difficult for you to adjust.  Other children will go through that too.)  We asked you to be a good role model and help other children.  It's a big concept for you to learn, but it's never to early to start.  I'm always amazed at what sinks in with you.

You have some favorite sayings, that I'm realizing you are picking up from the iPad:
"Best Day Ever"
"Worst Day Ever" - said with major attitude when you couldn't come into Mommy's office
"Boorrrrinnnngg" - again, with attitude

Mimicking expressions is a new fascination as well.  "This is my angry face" offered with a frown and looking up with cutting eyes.  When you said something weird, Mommy replied, "Ewwww, that's gross."  You did it again and I gave the same expression.  I could feel you analyzing my expressions.  Will you become an actor one day?

Curiosity thrives well in you.  When you go to the doctor's office, you love looking at the pictures and asking about the body parts.  The ENT doctor recommended that you see an allergist specialist, because of the frequencies of sinus infections.  Dr. Harvey requested blood work and a scratch text (which will happen in the beginning of January).

Oma and Opa brought you in for the blood work.  It was the first time you had to give blood.  Oma said, "I have never been able to look at someone taking my blood.  But Gregory was curious and he wanted to watch.  Because he was so brave to watch the nurse take his blood, he made me brave and I watched for the first time too."  You did yell at the first touch of the needle and when the needle was removed, but the nurse said you did great!  Will you become a doctor one day?

You are a brave and observant boy!  Watching you at Izzy's birthday party... I was in awe of your fearless determination.

Izzy's birthday party was at the ice skating rink.  We don't have one around us, which makes Mommy sad.  Before the party, I told you how Mommy used to love ice skating when she was a little girl and how much fun it was...  I was prepared for you to scream and run from the cold rink when we arrived at Izzy's party location.

"I want to go on the ice!"  Before your skates were even on.  Izzy and Isaac showed you how to lean your body (almost laying down) on a crate while your Daddy pushed you on the ice.  Soon, you realized you could use the tip of your skates to propel you forward, while on the crate and you didn't want anyone pushing you.  Then, you watched as other children skated by, not laying on the crate, but standing up tall and pushing the crate in front of them for balance.  You did this too!

If you had stopped at this point, I would have been completely thrilled.  When you let go of the crate, my heart did a stop.  Would you fall?  Your legs were a little wobbly, but you only fell once.  After that - you didn't want the crate and you were moving forward, on the ice, all by yourself.... no assistance and you were determined that we "leave you alone!"  You even joined in with the other kids to do the "hokey pokey" dance and yes, you turned yourself around.. on skates... on the ice... by yourself!

I was in awe... to watch you learn and grow with such confidence in skill and gathering information about what other people were doing and self teaching yourself a brand new skill...  a skill that requires balance no less.. Mommy and Daddy didn't teach you one thing.  We were thrilled that you were open to the idea of laying on the crate and to push you.  That you went from this to skating on your own.... it was incredible to watch.  We were the observers to your ability to learn.  It was an education to us, as parents.

This has been a year of you soaking up the world around you with a level of comprehension that makes me want to ask you, "What are you thinking?"  You prepare us for changes too, with your questions.

I recently read somewhere that when boys get into the teen years, parents will wish they were still only talking about potty training.  As I've said in the past, you are fully day time potty trained since you were in school last year.

Before Halloween this year, we spoke with you about dry diapers at night.  You actually said, "I don't want to wear 'diapees' (that's what you call them) at night any more."  We told you, "If you have dry diapers in the morning for a week, we will try big boy underwear instead."

Each morning you'd go to the bathroom and say, "I have a dry diaper?"  Sure enough you had dry diapers, but we were nervous about the night time bed wetting.... so you stayed in diapers.. then, before Thanksgiving, you woke me up and said, "Mommy, I have to pee."  That was our cue.  You woke yourself up to pee.  That was the last diaper to touch your behind.  After that, you were proud to wear big boy underwear!

You haven't had an accident.  We do make sure you pee before you go to bed; you know this is a routine.  You have to pee in the potty before you get in the tub.  You have to pee in the potty before you go to bed.  It's worked like a charm!  I think a good part of the smooth process is that you were ready and you didn't want to wear diapers at all.

Another new task that Mommy is thrilled you've learned is that dirty cloths go in the hamper.  You said, "You need the dirty cloths to get washed, so you put them in the hamper so you know where to find them for the washer and the dryer."  You help me take cloths out of the washer and put them in the dryer.  I'm tickled that I don't have to hunt for your cloths around the house any more.  You know where things go.  It's a small thing, but it's an organization skill and one that you'll appreciate having when you get older.

Social skills are in full bloom.  If there's another child, you are eager to play with them.  Your teacher, Mrs. Becky, said that you don't have a specific "best friend" but that you play with a group of kids, but yes, you are social.  Mommy has asked you if you have a best friend that you play with the most, you say, "No."  After talking with your teacher, I felt that you were doing well.

Even on the playground in the local neighborhoods, if there are other children, you don't mind relating to them.  Just this week, Oma and Opa brought you to your favorite - the Pirate Ship Playground (it's the the one on Little Farms, but we renamed it because of the shape).  There was a six year old boy there and you played very well with him, keeping up with talking and running and climbing.  Opa said, "Gregory knows his way around the pirate ship!"

Your sense of humor is a daily force.  You LOVE to make people smile.  If you do something and I laugh, you ask, "That makes you happy Mommy?"  You love to make people happy... and sometimes you do super silly things... here's a post that Daddy shared on Facebook:

"So Gregory was getting out of the tub and we were both singing Frosty the Snowman on the way to his bedroom. As he's standing in his bed and I am toweling him off he's still singing... then.... He gets to the part of " and a corn-cob pipe and a button nose" yet he is pointing to his BUTT and NOSE. I laughed SO hard... how long has been thinking those were the words?"

I don't think you actually thought those were the words, because you sing it properly plenty of times... but you knew it would make Daddy laugh :)

Other times, you are tots adorbs in your actions.  We were at Oma and Opa's house.  You came up to me and demanded, "I need my iPad and I have to sit at the bar!"  What?  You normally don't ask for your iPad unless you are at a restaurant or you are tired and it's nighttime.  And sitting at the bar at my parents' house?

When I walked into the kitchen area, I understood...  there was Opa, sitting at the bar with his laptop. You wanted your iPad and to sit on the barstool next to Opa, doing what Opa was doing.  Can't get cuter than that!

Many people consider 2016 to be bad year for many things.... but for our family.. your growth, your laughter, your love... that surpasses anything negative.  2016 leaves us with morning hugs and raspberry kisses and sweet memories to treasure.  May 2017 continue with beautiful blessings to count.

Love Always,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

The news, on the television, the Internet and the radio, are consumed with the recent election.  You asked about Trump.  I told you that he won the election as President of the United States.  You said, "I wish I could win President."  One day, if you still want to, I know you can.  You also said you want to be a doctor, a veterinarian and a teacher.  As a child, you have taught me and healed my spirit in so many ways.

You love to talk.  Oma once said on the drive to Baton Rouge to visit relatives, "I knew when Gregory was asleep because he stopped talking."  You are so creative, such a joy to listen to.

One morning, Daddy said, "Look the moon is out even though the sun is up."  I said, "Why do you think that is, Gregory?"  You tilted your head, "The moon is out because he is still tired and he is yawning."

When Mommy showed you the soft lavender lilies behind the large leaves, I asked you, "Why do you think the lilies are back there?"  You explained, "They are hiding, because they are shy."

Before Oma and Opa's 50th Wedding Anniversary, we shared the happy news that Uncle Rob, Tita Roda and your cousin, TJ would be in town.  TJ was standing, but not fully walking at the time and we asked if you would help TJ learn how to walk.  Your hands went up in the air like it was nothing, "Sure!  You just put on your shoes and you walk!"  We all laughed.  Ah, my son, already you take big steps for granted.  But one day, you will have a child of your own and see what an incredible blessing it is to watch your baby grow into a toddler.

We have something in common.... our sinuses.  You get sick.  I get sick.  I get sick.  You get sick.  Co-workers have told me, "It's like that until 5-6 years old and then your child develops a good immune system."  At the doctor's office, the ENT wanted you to sit in my lap.  You shook your head, "No, I'm a big boy.  I need a check up."  Dr. Volpi looked concerned and advised Mommy that I would have to help and hold your head.

No problems, you did exactly as the doctor instructed.  The nurse even commented that you are very smart.  You asked about the posters around the office showing the various sinus cavities of the nose and another of the lungs.  You said, "I have lungs too, right here!"  And you pointed to the correct place.

Your thoughts are precious to follow.  One "sick day" we were at the table.  You sneezed and wanted to wipe your nose on my sleeve.  This is something you suddenly started to do.  You didn't want the phlegm, yes you call it that, on your arm.. and you wanted something soft to touch your nose.  Your Daddy and I have finally taught you better and you are quick to grab a Kleenex tissue now (so thankful - yet another parent high five on that accomplishment)... but this day at the table, Mommy had reached the end of her tether with being your human Kleenex.

Mommy had already told you not to rub your nose on my clothing... then you did it again and Mommy fussed.  Loudly.  We don't raise our voice to you frequently in anger, so when we do.. you really react to it.  You started to cry and said you were sorry.  After you calmed down, Mommy and Daddy said you need to use a tissue, because otherwise you were spreading germs and will get Mommy sick again.  You agreed to use a tissue.  Then you leaned your head towards my shirt.

I said, "Gregory.  What did we just talk about?"  You said, "But Mommy.  Can I wipe my tears?  My tears don't have germs."  Always, son.  You can always wipe your tears on me.  Of course... heart melts.

This school year, you were invited to Kylie's birthday party.  You went to her birthday party last year; she's a sweet, pretty girl.  You had fun at the party and other school mates showed up too.  I noticed that you liked to go where Kylie went.  When Kylie's mom was nearby, I shared, "I think my son might be sweet on Kylie."  She said, "Kylie told me that she has two best friends, Gregory and Carsen."  Carsen is a good friend of yours too and recently you said that Daniel was a good friend as well.

Mommy takes lots of pictures and you enjoy looking at them right after an event and even older pictures too.  You have grasped the concept that you were once a baby and you recognize yourself in baby pictures.  You saw the picture on the fireplace when Burkley and Deanna got married.  Burkley knelt down to accept the rings from you when the picture was taken.  You asked me, "What is going on in this picture?"  I explained how you were the ring bearer.  You said, "I wish I could have wedding rings."

I smiled and said, "You have to get married."  You replied, "Me and Kylie can get married.  Carsen too."  I said, "So you want to get married?"  You said, "No, I just want the rings."  You make me laugh!

Recently our church invited it's members to bring their pets for a blessing during mass.  Oma and Opa brought Biscuit, their dog.  It was a lovely outside service.  One of the church members played the flute and one of the dogs joined in with the singing - a cute moment!  After the service, you wanted to leave.  Father AJ said, "But Gregory, why do you have to leave right now?"  It didn't take but a moment for you to reply, "Because I have to feed Biscuits the treats!"   You are quick on your toes, sweet son.

You remember your dreams and I love to hear them.  I need to keep pen and paper near me in the morning, because you say, "Mommy I had a dream...."  One night it was about a "cranky cow" - the cow was white with brown spots and the cow wanted to eat you!  Daddy tried to reassure you that cows don't even humans, but you were determined that this cow in your dream did.

When we went on our recent vacation, with a stop by the Science and Rocket Center, you woke up with big smiles, "Mommy!  I dreamt I was flying on a rocket ship!  I went to the moon.  The moon is a big bouncy ball!"  You loved the hotel room with the rocket ship view.  You said, "This room has a refrigerator, a rocket ship and a toilet.  It has everything you need!"

You are a rough and tumble boy who loves to run, jump and will ask for "driving lessons" in your truck that we bought for you on your last birthday.  But you also love to paint (with both hands still) and you notice beauty in the world.  When the morning sky was blue and orange, you said, "the sky is painting itself."

We don't talk baby talk around you.  We never have.  Maybe this is why you have such an incredible vocabulary now.  However, some expressions don't make sense, but you try to make sense of them.  Such as the day when you were with Oma at the Dentists office.  The orthodontist asked what school did you go to.  You said, "Just school."  Oma said, "St Augustine Preschool."  You repeated the name of the school.  Oma said, "That (meaning the school name) is quite a mouth full."  You waited a few moments... then said, "But my mouth is empty."  The orthodontist burst out laughing.

Your sense of humor is still there in full swing.  Oma came with us to one of your Karate classes.  On the way to Karate in the car, you said, "Something stinks!"  Mommy asked, "Gregory, did you fart?"  No, you didn't, mommy and Oma didn't either.  We realized it was the smelly canal.  After Karate class, we headed back home.... you smelled it again and said, "MOMMY!  The canal is following us!"  I  laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.

You do so many sweet things too....  I love how your school has taught you the Pledge of Allegiance. You put your hand over your heart when you say it now.. and you also give a salute at the end.  So very precious.  So very important to understand and value our freedom and your country.  You have a hard time with one particular word.  Your Daddy made sure to explain what it means and how to say, "indivisible."

This morning, we went to your school.  You took the cans, one by one, that Mommy put in a bag and you placed the cans into the box for the food drive.  You looked at the pictures on the cans and said, "These are carrots.  These are green beans."  If you didn't know what the picture was, you asked, "Mommy, what is this?"  Then you would look again at the picture and repeat what I said, "Sweet peas, Pinto Beans."  You wanted to know why we put food in a box.  Mommy explained how it's important to give to those in need and how the school was collecting food donations for those families who are hungry but don't have food.  You said, "And they might have a baby to feed too."

This afternoon, we were at Oma and Opa's house.  Ever since you found out that Oma had a secret Pumpkin Pie recipe, you begged Oma to make it.  Mommy remembers Oma's recipe box.  She still had it.  Tonight we all took turns with making the recipe.  Any time I added an ingredient to the bowl, you said, "Let I stir it."  We are correcting you with the use of "I" and "me."  I love how you want to be an active part in making things, even food.

You take in more of the world than I think we can ever realize.  You love music too.  Your school teacher said, "We're going to miss Gregory for the Pumpkin Palooza.  (We went out of town that weekend.)  He knows his songs very well and sings them nice and loud."  What a sweet thing for your teacher to say.  I was tickled when you sang us some of the Halloween songs you learned.

When Mommy leaves the piano open, you love to walk by and play.  Sometimes it's loud, but surprisingly, most of the time, you play softly... and.... with both hands.  This morning, you played something soft and sweet and I swear it sounded like a song... You saw me listening to you and explained, "This is my love song, because I love my mommy and daddy."

You are our love song.

Love Always,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

Today you had speech therapy at one school.  Then Oma and Opa brought you to your regular school and you saw (and pet!) bugs and then tonight ~ you went to your first Karate class!  You are so awesomely well behaved while having a very long day.  Proud of you, my boy.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....

School is in full swing and Mommy is really behind in writing to you.  Catch up time!  Let's focus on school for a while.  Here's your first day of school picture:

I could see how comfortable you were being on the St Augustine Episcopal School grounds.  You recognized schoolmates from last year and loved seeing the new toys in the room.  You and Carsen teamed up pretty quickly to play.  He was in your class last year and summer camp.

Each morning, I watched as you ran into the classroom.  You went straight for a particular table; I could tell you were intent on finding something.  During the parent/teacher night, the teachers explained, "This is how they do roll call.  The children find their names on the banana and put the banana in the roll call box."  What a great idea to get the child quickly away from the parent leaving and focus on the day's activity... it's a job to do and it's name recognition as well.

There's name recognition all over the classroom!  For a behavioral record of the day, your teacher, Ms. Becky and assistant, Ms. Carrie, have three boxes lined up vertically.  The top box is green, middle is yellow, bottom is red.  Each child starts the day off with their banana (with their name on the banana) in the green.  If the child has to be corrected repeatedly for doing something they shouldn't do, then the name goes in the yellow.  If the child does something that could hurt another child, such as pushing hard or kicking, the banana goes in red. If the banana goes in red, because of that type of behavior, the banana can't move out of red.  These are harmful actions that the teacher wants to nip in the bud before it gets out of hand.

Pointing to your name in green.

It's a WONDERFUL system.  It shows you and your peers which behaviors will not be tolerated.  It's a visual system to back up the verbal one.  And the green/good behavior is rewarded - if your name is in green at the end of the day, you get a sticker in your sticker book.  After so many stickers, you get a prize.  This is a total motivation tool for you and it's worked great!  Only one day have you had your name in the yellow, all other days in the green.  The "at a glance" behavior chart not only shows the parents how the child is doing, but also what type of day the teacher had too.

Each week there is a theme and the parents know the theme from a calendar given.  There is a chart outside of the classroom that lists what was done in school that day.  I'm totally loving this.  I sure hope the teachers know how much it's appreciated.  Having knowledge of what my child is doing and learning that day makes me feel well.... gosh... pretty happy!

For example, I know that the first week of school, the theme for the week was apples and the letter "a."  The snacks for the week included red, green and gold apples.  You did artwork showing the inside of and outside of an apple.  You did string paint artwork for dexterity.  Ms. Becky had the students count apples, then take an apple away - working on subtraction.  Science is included with liquids and changing the appearance of an apple.

Your teacher is also very informative.  She told mommy that you are active in class, you participate, you play well with your classmates, you are eager to volunteer and you are well behaved (I know it's early in the school year to say this, but I'm hopeful for a great year)!  Ms. Becky made me feel good about your behavior and eagerness to be there.

I saw that you were the flag holder the first week of school.  There's a list with names for various "jobs" for the students and the jobs are rotated so each child has a turn.  You were eager to show mommy how you have to hold the flag.

I can see why you enjoy school so much.  You make it clear to mommy that you love going to school... you literally said it repeatedly one morning and while I was unbuckling the seatbelt, you belted out loudly, "I LOVE MY SCHOOL!"  I think everyone heard you.

Next picture is a patch of the "family quilt" - each child needed to decorate a sheet of paper with pictures of family members - then the papers/patches were put together to form a quilt at school:

One Friday, Mommy said, "Guess what!  Today is Friday.  That means Mommy and Daddy don't have to go to work tomorrow."  You replied, "Mommy and Daddy can come to school with me tomorrow?"  Mommy said, "No, honey.  No work on Saturday and no school on Saturday."  Your soft voice said a lot in a few words, "I'll miss school."

Another morning there were two parents standing in front of the classroom door, talking to the teacher.  You started to hop around them, then you turned to me, pointing to the small space between the two parents and their legs, "Mommy, can I go into the class room?"  I was smiling so much, I had to say okay.

Let me tell you, son... the best feeling in the world for Mommy?  When Mommy arrives to pick you up from school and you see Mommy... the delightful, cheerful voice of "MOMMY!" and you come running to me... it's just the best!

"Pencil" treats Mommy made for your class:

Some lower case alphabet "projects" we did at home:

At school, on Friday's you have composition notebook - in it you are tracing the alphabet letters!  I think you are leaning towards being a lefty.

Mommy asked your teacher how you did with the bugs.  Last night, you brought me one of your green toy plastic bugs.  You instructed me, "You have to pet it soft or it will bite you."  I said, "I will pet the bug only if you promise Mommy that you will touch the bugs in school tomorrow with the bug mobile."  You agreed and you kept true to your words!  The teacher said you touched all of the bugs, including a big roach, a millipede and a caterpillar.  You used just one finger and touched gently.  None of the kids were allowed to touch the spider though.  I'm so proud of you!

In speech you learned how to say the "V" sound and now you are working on the "L" sound.  Speech has small groups of two children for 30 minutes.  It's a small world.... the boy you take the speech class with is the son of one of the attorneys at Mommy's law firm where she works.  The attorney's wife was there and she recognized us from social work gatherings.  Come to find out, the attorney's wife knows Oma.... because Oma taught the attorney's wife's brother at Matas Elementary School years ago!

The attorney gave Mommy some advise about speech, "The hardest thing for me to understand is that even though the child was taught a sound, it doesn't mean "that's it, now you have learned it"... when it comes to speech it's a process that takes time."  Aunt Kim gave Mommy the same advise and I'm hoping it will sink in.

I know you try hard and you want to follow instructions.  Nothing showed me that more than your first class of Karate tonight.  It was a 45 minute class with kids you have never seen before in a culture and instructions that was completely new to you.  You were timid.  Or is it that you were so intent on following instructions?  You learned how to bow, count to 5 in Japanese, some punches and other various Japanese words for sit and stand.  What's neat is that your instructor is also Daddy's instructor.  Daddy started back into Karate a few weeks ago.  I'm thrilled you are both getting involved with this.

You are my hero, sweet boy.  For all that you learn, take in stride and still remain, my sweet boy.

Love Always,