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,
Mommy







Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

Your mornings start off with mommy and daddy tickling you and making you laugh, singing you the Good Morning song and racing you out of bed.  Then you usually like to sit on the sofa for a while and watch cartoons until breakfast is ready.  This morning, we sat on the sofa next to you.  I heard you murmuring words, not baby sounds, which you will do if you are around babies.  You weren't paying attention to the television.  You were pointing and talking to the blanket around you.

I turned off the television and listened, as well as my hearing allowed me to.  I asked, "Did you just say that a horse went up the mountain?"

You replied, "No Mommy.  Not a horse.  A family went up the mountain."  Your fingers made a trail up to the top of the blanket.  As your fingers trickled down the side, you explained, "Then the family went down the waterfall and they swam in the lake at the bottom."  The "lake" was the flat part of the blanket.  I asked if the family had fun in the lake.  You said, "Yes, but there's a grumpy shark there and he chased them out.  Mommy, look at the hole in the mountain!"  I said, "Ohh, that must be a cave!"

You agreed, "Yes, a cave and the family fell down into the cave."  I asked, "Who's going to rescue them?"  You patted my shoulder, "It okay Mommy.  They climbed out of the cave.  They went back up the mountain to have a picnic."

Your creativity from the shapes that the blanket made, the stories... it was wonderful.  So much better than watching cartoons.  I loved it!

Did I ever truly wonder if you would learn to talk?  You have such conversations with us now.  One afternoon we were playing with some toys.   You told me, "This is going to be your doh-doh (night time) toy.  I'm going to put it in your bed for your doh-doh toy.  It's not my doh-doh toy so it doesn't go in my bed, okay!"  You aren't just saying what you think, but explaining your actions.

And you're learning how to sight read, before the age of 3 1/2.  Oma made sight words; her penmanship rocks!  Then she put the words together in a sentence.  You're reading them, but sometimes we wondered, "How much is Gregory reading versus memorizing."  But then.... to learn by sight is a form of memorization.  You showed me that what Oma has been working with you on is sinking in.

Mommy has sight words cards that she bought a while ago.  I only took out four cards.  You have read the words "up, down, go, stop" many times on the cards that Oma made.  So, I picked up two cards that had the words "down" and "go".  Then, I picked up two cards with words you have never seen before "but" and "dog."

I brought the cards to the sofa and placed them out "go" "down"  "dog"  "but"
You swiftly said, "go" and "down."  When I pointed to "dog" you said, "... you?"  It was a question mark type of response.

I told you, "No, these are two new words.  This is "dog" and this is "but".... together they sound like... "dog butt"."  You busted out laughing!  Then you said, "Dog butt go down!"  You created your own sentence without any assistance.  I told you how proud Oma would be.  When we went to Oma's and Opa's house, you saw their dog, Biscuit and said, "Dog butt go down!"  You make me laugh so often.

Oma is teaching you active words, such as jump and run.  You like those, because after reading them, you get to do the activity.  Mommy picked words to make you laugh.  Between us, we're finding ways to teach you, making it enjoyable, even though it is a lot of work.. on all parties.

You start school next week.  I know you're going to miss your days with Oma and Opa.  You spent the majority of your time with them while Mommy and Daddy went to work.  It was an active summer.  You went to the library to see animals and make crafts.  You made crafts at Michael's art classes.  Oma and Opa brought you to visit with Granny, Grandfather and Uncle Jerry a number of times.  You took swimming lessons (the coach said you are doing great, especially for your age) and continue to swim daily at Oma and Opa's house.  You had Bible School for one week and Summer Camp for two weeks.  You went to Palmtree playground and the maze at the Elmwood Kids center and bounce houses.  You were around a lot of children from a variety of groups, doing a variety of activities throughout the summer.  As Oma said, "Gregory is VERY well rounded."

I want to go back to the swimming lessons... there's a funny story there.  Of course, you learned a great deal.. You told me, "I have to hold my mouth closed (showing me a puffer fish face) and I can't pee or poo in the pool (yeah!)."  It took you a while to get comfy with floating on your back, but eventually you did so and even put your hands behind your head like you were laying on a bed.  You were scared to jump into the pool at first and now you do so with gusto.

But the funny story.... Oma and Opa brought you to the lessons.  You take your swimming trunks off in the changing room.  It was the girl's room, because Oma brought you to get changed.  One day... Oma forgot to bring a change of cloths for you.  She didn't realize it until after you had taken off your swim suit.  She didn't want you to put it back on, so Oma wrapped you in a towel. She was holding on to the towel as the two of you walked out of the changing room.

Then... you took off running without the towel, yelling at the top of your lungs, "NAKED BABY!  NAKED BABY!"  When Oma told me this, I laughed so hard I cried.  You do that at home.  When you don't have bottoms on, you run through the house saying that.  This started when we would say "naked baby" and chase you around the house.  It was a game and then you started calling it out too.  Oma said, "Everyone laughed at the fitness center."

From being naked to potty trained.  You are officially day time potty trained, which was very clear at the beginning of the summer.  You even pee standing up, which made Daddy so incredibly proud!  However, nighttime... you still wear a diaper.  You're doing so well with going to the potty, knowing when you need to go, letting us know and taking care of business (you tell us, "no, you need to go away, I'll call you when I poo" when before we had to stay in the room with you)... I don't want to push the nighttime too hard.  Once you get into the routine of school, then we'll work on the nighttime.  You do notice when your diaper is dry.  But you still want to drink a lot before you go to sleep.  It's something we need to work on.  But hey, day time potty training is AWESOME!  (You don't like the auto flush toilets though at some places.  You get scared and say, "There might be a monster in there!")

When school starts, your speech therapy begins as well.  You might question why you are still going through speech therapy when you are talking so much.  But it's not always clear.  One weekend we brought you to the movies.  Both Daddy and I heard you say, "Wine and popcorn."  What ? !   We don't drink wine.  We don't talk about wine.  Where did you get wine from?  It took a little while for us to realize, "Ahhhh, Gregory is saying, get in line for the popcorn."  Whew...  You got frustrated that we didn't understand you; the speech therapy will be good for clarity of your words.

More about words.. Daddy enjoys doing rhyming games with you.  Daddy will start off with a sentence and stop, waiting for you to fill in the blank with a rhyming word.  You do this without even realizing you are problem solving and "filling in the blank" sentence structure.  Here's an example:

Daddy:  "My Mommy's name is Aleta Gay, so it's going to be a great....."
You:  "day!"
Daddy:  "I'm having great luck"  (Mommy started laughing and so did Daddy, mind in gutter.)... Daddy continued, "I'm not riding in a car, I'm riding in a ......."
You:  "Truck!"

You're learning things in fun ways.  These are awesome skills.

You're picking up on numbers as well.  Oma has number games that she plays with you to help you recognize the numbers (which was clear that in the beginning of the summer, you didn't recognize your numbers at all).  Now you can recognize 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.. the 6 and 9 gave you trouble.  So, Mommy said, "6 has the belly.  9 has the big head."  You laughed, but that seems to be working.  7 is a tough one for you as well.  8, you remember because it has two circles.

It's not just numbers, but .... you are learning counting too.  Mommy had a bag to bring to work.  You asked what was in the bag.  Mommy said, "I'm bringing grapes to work for a snack."  With hand extended, you asked, "I want a grape.  No, I want THREE grapes.  Pretty please?"  I said, "Here is one and I'll give you the rest after you get dressed to leave."  I forgot to give you the grapes after you were dressed, but when we arrived to Oma and Opa's house, you said, "You need to give me TWO more grapes!"  Do you realize you just did math?!    This is how you will learn the best.. through activity, through involvement, through laughter.

Oma is working Science projects with you as well.  She bought tests tubes from the dollar store.  She showed you how she poured water in one and vinegar in another.  You couldn't see the difference, but you said vinegar smelled yucky.  Oma moved the tubes around so you wouldn't know which was which by sight.  She poured some baking soda out.  The vinegar, once poured on the baking soda, made a lot of bubbles, versus the water.  You totally enjoyed the experiment and wanted to do it again.  It was a great learning experience and I'm thrilled you are loving the Science projects.

With all this learning and independence, creativity and activity... you are still a very loving boy.  At Oma and Opa's house, you called out to Oma, "OMMMMMAAAAAA, come help me find a toy."  Oma and Mommy were talking.  You said, "I need to talk to Oma.  Oma, help me find a toy."  Both Oma and Mommy got up to help search for the one you wanted.  We heard you say, "I didn't want to be lonely and now I have two of you!"  That touched my heart.  You want to be with us.

Just like at nighttime.  If you fall asleep in your bed, then you stay in bed until anywhere from 11 to 2:30 and then you go to Mommy's bed.  But right now, Mommy hasn't felt well with a stomach bug.  You were still up and it was getting late.  Mommy said, "I'm turning off the iPad.  Mommy isn't feel well, so try to close your eyes and go to sleep in your bed, okay?"  You did as was told and seemed like you would fall asleep.

About 20 minutes later, you were screaming and crying.  I thought you had fallen out of bed and rushed to your room.  You were sitting in your bed crying.  You couldn't make it quite clear because you were so upset, but I understood you wanted to go to Mommy's bed.  The next morning, while telling Oma about when happened, we asked you, "Why did you cry Gregory?"  You said, "I was scared of the dark.  I need to be with adults to keep me safe."  I know Daddy will say that you need to conquer your fears and you will.

Your love of being around us "adults".. well, I know one day you won't want to, so I'm going to treasure your desire for our company for as long as possible.

Being a parent is work.  It's constant work.  We have to find ways to help you learn and it's not always clear what will work.  It's also laughter and sweetness and beauty.  I hope one day you are blessed with a child as beautiful and loving as you are to us.

Love Always,
Mommy


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Letter to my son

Dear Son,

Oma and Opa were kind enough to bring you to Granny and Grandfather's and Uncle Jerry's house to play a couple of times recently.  Granny said that you would rough house with her on the sofa, during the first visit.  Then, the second visit, you told Granny, "Let's play on the sofa."  Too cute!


Your shirt "Straight Outta Metry" is a Christmas gift from your Uncle Jerry.



Granny mentioned how your vocabulary and speech have grown in leaps and bounds.  I still hear you making simple mistakes and I know with some correction, which we are working with you on, your words can become very clear.

You are coming up with topics to talk at length about and you have stories to share now.  If a big group of people are talking, you will say, "I NEED to talk to my mommy (or whoever you want to tell the story to)."  You expect people to stop talking and listen.  And they do.

You're Daddy recently wrote on Facebook:  "Without a doubt.. the GREATEST invention in the world is the mind of a child.  Gregory is going into his "story" modes where he tries to explain situations and lessons, as well as his rambling "Teaching" modes quite often now (those are my favorites).  He is even correcting us if something is incorrect.  I can listen to him for hours."

This morning, we spoke about dinosaurs and Mommy said, "I like the pterodactyl that you made."  You informed me, "Mommy, a pterodactyl is not a dinosaur."  I asked you why.  You explained, "Pterodactyl flies.  Dinosaurs can't fly."  Smart boy!

You went to three art classes at Michael's this past week.  You loved going to them, as the theme was dinosaurs.  Here are some fun art projects you came home with:



I like this next one.  You put the dinosaur stickers on each red card.  It's a memory matching game, which you enjoy doing.



Opa even got into the spirit of Dinosaur week!  He is wearing the dinosaur mask that Daddy bought one year.   The kids were a little... scared, but not you!



Love the dino hat you made.


But you told Oma she had to wear it first so you didn't mess up your hair.  Hehe.



At the end of the last art class, a line formed to get face painting.  It was a long line.
It was a long wait.  But you stayed in line.


You told the artist what you wanted.  It's a super hero mask.


Mommy asked what your super hero powers are.  You said, "Jumping!"  (You do this very well, very high and will even spin and jump).  Mommy said your super hero power are awesome hugs.  Daddy said your super hero powers are farts.  That made you laugh.



You had two bug toys.  You kept saying, "Mommy you don't like bugs."
I said, "No, I don't like bugs" and then I grabbed them and put them down your shirt.
You laughed so hard!  Then, you had to do the same to Oma too.


Daddy said that "Oma played it well" pretending she was afraid of the bugs.  You two were too cute.




You took a late nap.  You still had the mask painted on, because any time during the day that we asked about cleaning it off, you refused.  When I took the picture of you sleeping with the super hero mask, Daddy said, "It looks like he fell asleep and we drew on his face."


This past week we reached record highs, mix in the humidity and outside was a sauna.  Daddy determined it was time for ice cream and snowballs; he invited Oma and Opa to join us.


It was so hot outside that we all went into Opa's car with the air conditioner running to eat the snowballs and ice cream.


Daddy commented on Facebook, "No such thing as "Terrible Twos or Threes with this boy!  What a GIFT!  We had a Sno-ball date yesterday when it was close to 100, with everyone and a dog in the car and he (you) STILL enjoyed it and was entertaining as well."

You shared Mommy and Daddy's ice cream.  You literally ate some from Daddy and some from Mommy.  You took turns between the ice cream bites, which made Oma laugh.



Saturday morning was an early celebration for Grandfather for Father's Day.  We invited Granny and Grandfather to breakfast at Caffe Latte Da.  You insisted that you give Grandfather his card.

You started the morning with a raspberry when Mommy wanted to take your picture!


We had a yummy breakfast.


Took some fun pictures.  Grandfather, Son, Grandson.



Granny stealing some sugar



Hugs for Grandfather. 


When we got home, you were so helpful.  You helped load the cloths into the dryer and then took the hamper back to the appropriate bedroom.


Family Selfies





At the library, Mommy started reading a book at the alphabet being constructed.  You traced the letters with your finger.


Then you saw some older boys playing on the smart table and joined in.


You and Daddy waiting for Legos!


The older kids worked with small legos.  Younger kids were given bigger blocks.


You took to the blocks like it was second nature.



I loved watching you build.


Daddy counted 28 kids and more arrived after we left.



Daddy said, "But there's no interaction between the kids."
Not true, the little boy across from you talked a lot.  You even shared one of your Lego pieces that he wanted.  Plus, just the fact that you were surrounded by other children, each of you participating in the same activity - it is interaction.  It might only be visual interaction, but you watched what they did as well.  It's all part of learning and social skills, along with the fun building of Legos.







You recently had a hair cut and you sat in the chair by yourself.  Daddy was very happy with that arrangement, because it meant that Daddy didn't have to get your hair all over him :)  You weren't in the mood for a hair cut, but you went through with it and we all survived.


As a treat for being such a big boy, Mommy gave you three masks - PJ Masks!  You loved them.  You could have chosen the Geico or Cat Boy mask, but you went for Owlette - Mommy's favorite - red and Owlette has wings!


Mommy was in the kitchen working on a "glaze cake" - other than the one bottom cake layer, everything was new to Mommy - first time working on a jello layer, first time making a mousse layer and then, of course, first time making the glaze (not to be confused with normal buttercream that I have down pat now).

While Mommy was busy in the kitchen, you decided to "help Mommy cook"... you made interesting sandwiches and salads and all kinds of yummy stuff.  It was cute to watch you play.


Daddy said the cake looks like smurf snot.  I should have topped the layers with the smooth cakes that I make, but the recipe didn't call for this.  I couldn't get the mousse smooth enough and then it blended with the jello!  I also didn't wait long enough for the glaze to cool, so it ran too quickly off of the cake.  Lots of learned lessons.  I plan on doing this again, but it's a LOT of work - two days of doing the layers and toooo many dishes to count!

The first layer of jello crumbled.  Daddy helped Mommy do this over and it sort of came out smoother.


The pretty blue glaze, but I wasn't patient enough to wait for it to go to 98 degrees.


Errrr, the messy lumpy cake/jello/mousse cake.  The mouse wasn't going to get smooth for anything!


With the mirror glaze poured over - it should have been thicker but I didn't let it cool long enough.  You said it tasted yummy and you thought it was pretty.  Thank you, sweet son!


Today is Father's Day!  Mommy gets to share your pictures while you made Daddy's gift!






We are so fortunate to have Daddy.  He is an awesome Daddy with lots of smiles, joy and can fix anything (even jello!).  Daddy wants to teach you so much, not just about things you need to know, but how to treat people and be kind.

And how to be happy.  Which is why the coffee mugs for Daddy was the perfect gift for Father's Day!

Greg ~ Thank you for being you.  I can't imagine raising our beautiful son with anyone but you.  Our family is God's blessing and it was meant to be.  I love you.


As I type this, you, cute boy, are tapping your foot on the bongos, saying, "I'm making a song for Daddy."  You get that from your Daddy - a song in your heart.

Happy Father's Day to my Dad and my Husband and I look forward to the day you become a Daddy too!

Love Always,
Mommy