Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dear Gavin,

Happy One-Month-Before-Your-Birthday Day!  :)  Seriously, seven just seems impossible to me.  Wasn't it just yesterday that Mommy and Daddy were staring into your eyes for the first time and announcing to our family that we had picked out the amazing name of Gavin Jack for you?  I'm not sure how you're finishing up first grade already!

I wish I could give you a nice update on your soccer season but the fact is, that we've had to cancel all but ONE soccer practice so far.  Crazy, right?  Between the late season snow and then all kinds of rain, the fields have been so muddy and wet that you've only had one out of eight soccer practices so far.  But, the good news is, you really liked that one practice!  Haha.  I can't wait to see you learn the skills taught and watch you and Daddy build a soccer connection together.  I'm sorry to say, Mommy doesn't know much about soccer, nor has she ever been a big fan of the sport.  BUT....if I've learned anything since becoming a mom, it's that you learn to love whatever it is that your child is involved in (i.e. Thomas the Train, Angry Birds, Pokemon, Skylanders, Minecraft...need I go on?)  Oh, the Minecraft...

Running Club has started up again and I'm so excited that this year you decided that you wanted to move up from the one mile run to the 5K and you wanted me to be your running buddy this year.  After training for the Half Marathon the last three months, it will be so relaxing to go out on short runs knowing that I'm 'training' to run with you by my side on May 1. 

Speaking of Half Marathon, we had a special visit over your spring break from Mimi and Beepa.  They came into town for a few days to help out with you and Riley while Mommy and Daddy ran the race and it was so nice to have them around.  I loved watching you and Beepa play Super Mario Bros. together - your early birthday gift from them.  We took you to Fast Lanes, where your birthday party will be this year, to have some special time with them since they won't be here for the actual party, and even got a birthday cake to celebrate.  I love when we get to do things like that!  It's never fun to be so far from family and knowing they can't be here for special events like birthday parties, but we definitely make the best of the situation and make sure they're included in our daily lives as much as possible.  You sure do love your Mimi and Beepa!

When I wrote to your sister earlier, I mentioned that if I had to pick right now, I'd guess she's going to be some kind of performer when she grows up.  She's always singing and dancing around.  Predicting your future is a little more difficult.  You talk about being a policeman like Uncle Kyle the most, but I can definitely see you doing something in engineering or with computers.  You're so brilliant it's not even funny.  I love when I catch you sneaking a book at 8:30pm with your book light or when you explain to me how your little brain figured out the three-digit subtraction problem I gave you (and it's usually a way I've never even heard of!).  With your love of games like Minecraft and Skylanders, and as much as you know about the iPad, I can totally see you creating apps or video games one day. 

We recently got back on track with your chore chart and I revamped it a little.  You've been begging to vacuum, so we finally let you try it out, but our Dyson is so heavy that I went out and bought you a small, lightweight vacuum that you can use, and now you and Riley fight over who gets to vacuum!  That's always a nice little spat to break up -- and I'm documenting that because I know someday you'll be giving me dirty looks when I ask you to run the vacuum.  

Daddy and I just can't get over how 'old' you're looking these days.  It seems that before our eyes, Riley's losing all the 'baby' features and now your 'little boy' features are changing into 'young man' features.  I can't believe it.  Thank you for making us so proud.  We are so grateful that you are ours.

Dear Riley,

I keep trying to find ways to keep you my baby.  I realized recently that even at 3.5 and somewhere around 35lbs, I still carry you every chance I get.  Of course, I want you to be independent -- but deep down, I think I'm really struggling that you are growing up so quickly.  Our friend, Miss Amy, recently had Baby Evelyn, and being around this tiny, squishy newborn, listening to all the sweet sounds she makes, helping her with things like babywearing and breastfeeding, all just bring so many raw emotions to the surface and I can't help but be sad that our baby days are for sure behind us.  

If I had to guess what you'll be when you grow up right now based on your personality, there's not a doubt in my mind that you are going to find a path in performing arts.  It brings so much happiness to your Daddy and me when we hear you make up songs everyday.  We love when you sing, but it's even more special when the words are coming straight from your own heart.  Singer, songwriter, performer, dancer....somewhere in this realm is where you'll land.  You're such a performer at heart.  

This month, you went to your second Princess Ball with Daddy.  You looked so grown up, sweetie.  Comparing the pictures of the two of you from last year to this year was amazing.  We spent the day getting you all ready, curling your hair and pinning it halfway up, just like Daddy loves.  You picked out a pink and black dress from your dress up closet and Daddy brought home the perfect corsage for you.  It was so special!  I could tell when he got home that Daddy had a long day that Friday and he was exhausted, but nothing would stop him from taking his princess out on a date!  

One of your favorite things to do right now is making a 'pit' on the living room floor with all the pillows and blankets you can find and lay in it to watch tv.  Of course, there's also jumping into the pit from the ottomans, which also reminds me of your gymnastics classes you've been "taking" in our living room.  Your little imagination is amazing.  Even though I shouldn't let you because our couch is reaching it's breaking point, you pull the cushions off to use as trampolines and mats to practice your jumping, somersaults and handstands while your teachers, Miss Oa, Miss Juana, and Miss Freea, and 150 other girls join you in your classes.  It really cracks me up!  I have no idea where those names came from, but you don't miss a beat when I ask you their names - you remember them every time.  

We had a special visit this month from Mimi and Beepa.  They spent a few days here with us over spring break to help out with you and your brother while Mommy and Daddy ran the Bentonville Half Marathon.  It was so fantastic to have them around, especially when they got to see you cough so hard from your allergies that you threw up all over me.  Haha!  The things they miss being so far away, right?  

As we near the end of your first year of preschool, I've been contemplating whether or not to send you to kindergarten when you turn five or wait until you're six.  You see, the birthday cut off is just five days after your birthday.  That means you'll most likely always be the absolute youngest one in your class, you'll graduate when you're just 17, and you'll be moving away to college as a brand new 18 year old.  I know you're probably reading this thinking 'Come on, Mom...give me some credit!' and the fact is, that I do!  You're so bright and if I were thinking about only the academic side of things, you're ready for kindergarten now pretty much.  You amaze me at your letter knowledge and how you're already trying to write your own sentences.  But, as your parent, it's my job to make sure you're prepared for the big world out there.  And I can't help but think that waiting one year to ensure that you're one of the older students in school, not the youngest, would really set you up for a successful journey.  I know, I know...blah blah blah.  Daddy and I still have a year to decide if we'll register you for kindergarten or not, so we'll see...

You know what, Riley?  You've always been a stubborn, strong willed little girl and you've given us a run for our money in just the few short years you've been a part of our hearts.  But, I wouldn't change a single thing.  When you get so worked up that you can't figure out how to calm yourself down without me holding you tightly in your arms and helping you breathe through the tears, I know I'm so lucky to be your mama.  One day, you'll figure out those self-soothing techniques and won't need my arms around you, but I hope that you'll always want a hug from me. 

I love you, baby girl.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dear Gavin,

I'm a bit shocked at how long it's been since I've written to you.  The holidays were, of course, crazy busy, but I swear I wrote last month like I did with Riley.  I guess I got distracted....must've thought through what I'd write and never actually typed it out.  I'm sorry.  :(

You are in such a loving phase right now.  I'm not sure why, but I don't really want to hug me and lay with me on the couch all the time now.  I rub your back every night at bedtime and you grab my arm and try to get me to stay with you.  Someday, you're going to want me to leave you alone.  You won't want hugs.  Or kisses.  And there are days when I know I've been short with you and maybe asked you to stop climbing all over me....and I regret those words as soon as I say them.  You are such a light in my life, and I love your affection.  Thank you for loving me.  And thank you for coming out of your shell more and making us laugh with your random dancing around the house.  You're still rather shy in public, but I love the glimpses of goofiness that we see every now and then around here.

Christmas was a very special time, as it always is around our home.  It's definitely one of Mommy and Daddy's favorite times of the year and I love that we get to live the magic of the season through you and your sister.  This year, Riley was a bit apprehensive of some things, like Santa coming into our home and having our elf, Spike, around.  That first day that she was panicked about Spike being in her room you jumped right in and napped with her so you could keep her safe.  There are days when you are such a pest to your little sister.  You love to push her buttons and watch her get all aggravated.  But then there are times when you step in and do things like that, or you turn into overprotective big brother when she visits you at school, and you make my heart melt.

We made the decision to stop going to Cub Scouts in January.  You really wanted to play soccer, and Daddy and I signed you up to play this spring, but the days conflicted.  Since we weren't really thrilled with the organization of the Scouts, we `to go ahead and take a break.  We may go back, but for now, you're anxiously awaiting soccer season to start very soon! 

To say you're obsessed with Legos right now would be an understatement.  I was fully expecting a huge Skylanders addiction to begin when you received your very first video game from Santa this year, but surprisingly that hasn't been the 'hit' in our house these days.  It's all about Legos and Minecraft.  Your room is frequently trashed with Legos all over as you're combining pieces from multiple sets to make a creation of your own.  

We've had an interesting month with February break, snow days, strep throat and a brief stomach bug for you.  I loved the extra time I got to spend with you during our first real experience with winter for the year.  Playing in the snow is always fun, even when you pelt me in the face with a snowball.  :)  And then, of course, we have our indoor snowball fights with marshmallows (and you still pelt me in the face!)  You're lucky you're so cute.  I can't wait to see how you finish out the first grade year and watch you shine on the soccer field.  It's so hard to believe we're just months away from your turning SEVEN.  It makes me so proud to watch you grow into such a sweet boy and makes me so sad to think that your days as a little boy are so numbered.  The days are long, but the years are so short.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dear Riley,

Oh, you crazy little girl.  I can't believe I haven't written to you since early November.  I feel like so much has happened in Riley World since then!  You're growing so fast and turning into this beautiful little girl full of personality and leaving our baby behind.  Gosh, that makes me so sad.

School is going really well for you.  I was a little shocked when we had your conference and Miss Misty told us what a great listener and good friend you are in class.  Haha!  You're not always the best listener around here, and you most definitely have some trouble being nice to Gavin at times.  But you're learning so much, impressing us with your knowledge of letters and sounds, and singing lots of fun songs.  I loved sneaking a peek at your Pow Wow for Thanksgiving and seeing you in your Indian feathers and vest.  And oh my word, were you ever cute up on stage at your first Jitterbugs performance.  I mean, seriously....we knew all along you'd be on stage one day and that day was just the proof we needed.  You shook your little booty off, waved the cutest little wave to us every time you came back from a 'wardrobe change' and were so sweet when Daddy and Gavin surprised you with flowers afterwards.  Such a special day!

The holidays are always one of Mommy and Daddy's favorite times.  We decorated for Christmas in mid-November because we love it so much, and couldn't wait to do all the traditions we've done in the past with you guys.  But, surprise!  Spike the Elf (our Elf on the Shelf) came this year and freaked you out.  I'm talking, scared to sleep in your own room, wanted me to hold you, scared out of your mind.  One day, you'd talk to him and laugh and say he was wonderful, and the next day, he was your worst enemy.  You also talked a lot this year about not wanting Santa to visit because you didn't want him in the house.  Everything seems to scare you these days.  It's kind of sad.  :(  But we made a lot of great memories in December, including the horse carriage ride around the square, going in the Minivan Express to look at lights, and having a sleepover by the Christmas tree.  For Christmas, you got your most-desired Elsa and Anna dresses, the Go Go puppy, a new doll stroller, and a big surprise from Mommy and Daddy - new ballet and tap shoes with the news that you were going to start dance class! 

You've been to ballet/tap dance class the last few weeks and you absolutely adore it.  Wednesdays are your new favorite, for sure!  I was worried that we'd spend money on things you needed for the class and waste our money, but instead I have this strange feeling that you'll be costing us a fortune as you fall in love with being on stage even more.  We watched Annie recently (the original) and I honestly just sat through the movie thinking of all these future musicals you will be in.  Someday, baby...people are going to be applauding for YOU.  You're currently obsessed with the new Taylor Swift CD, also.  We sing a lot of 'Welcome to NY', 'Blank Space' and 'Shake It Off' around here these days.  Your imagination and playing with your dolls just makes me so happy.  I love watching you pretend to be a mommy and a teacher.  So sweet!  You love having playdates with Harper and Addy still, and you've made a new friend at school, Kelsynn, that you're really enjoying.  We had our first playdate with her this past week! 

Thank you for making me and your Daddy so happy.  We cherish your 'snuggle time' and 'cuddles' so much and want them to last forever.  You're forever our baby girl, no matter how big you get.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dear Riley,

I'm behind on the letters for October because of our awesomely wonderful trip to Disney last month, but that's ok.  :)

Mommy screwed up and didn't make the payment on time for your next session of swim lessons, which means you missed several weeks due to the break and then being on the waiting list, but you are finally back up and swimming in Preschool 2 swim lessons with Miss Lori!  I'm so proud of your progress and can't wait to see you continue.  Swimming is definitely something that you love doing, and singing is still another.  We still love watching you sing and perform and make up songs - I can't wait to see you in the future at school functions and programs.  Speaking of, you have your first Jitterbugs performance coming up.  I can't wait to see you up on stage and in costume.  It's going to be so fun!

'Costume' brings another thought in my mind.  Daddy and I have commented recently at how much more laundry we have these days...because you're CONSTANTLY changing your clothes.  Your fashion sense cracks me up (and reminds me of your Aunt Meggie) when you pick out your own clothes, but you're also always changing into dress up clothes throughout the day, or randomly putting on your pajamas and nightgowns.  Just the other day, we were in a public restroom and I realized you were wearing two pairs of panties.  Just because.  Oh, Riley!

We've only been home a few days from our amazing family vacation to Disney World and I cannot even begin to describe the emotions Mommy and Daddy went through watching you and Gavin experience such magic for the first time.  You especially, with the princesses and characters all around, were completely mesmerized.  We got to meet so many of them, and watching you hug Cinderella, show Elsa how you turn things to ice by stomping your foot like she does, and giggling with Rapunzel while she tried to get you to smile while showing your teeth just made my hear swell with love.  And oh my goodness, I can't even begin to explain how adorable you were getting your makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique!  Daddy and I were mush, I tell ya!  Tears streamed down my face as you saw that first parade at Magic were is awe and I was in love.  I still can't get over it. 

More and more, I'm seeing less baby in you and more little girl.  I can't believe you're now the same age Gavin was when we brought you home from the hospital.  Why is time so mean?  Why must it go so fast?  I wish I could bottle you up and keep you this little forever.  But since I can't, I'll let you climb in and snuggle with us in the middle of the night, and I'll rock you whenever you ask, and I'll just soak up all those sweet little laughs. 

Love you, baby girl.


Dear Gavin,

Our letters are off again this month, but for good reason.  On the day I usually write to you, we were exploring the magic of Disney World!  How magical!

First, let's remember the beginning of October. :)  We started the month finalizing costume choices for Halloween so you'd be ready to go for Costume Carnival at school.  Despite my attempts to get you to pick something Disney (since you'd be wearing your costume at the end of month at Disney), your heart was set on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, so that's what we did.  BUT...the costumes in the store were all going to be way too hot for you to wear in Florida, so Mommy to the rescue!  I made you a short sleeve/shorts costume that I must admit, turned out pretty cute.  Of course, it was freezing on Costume Carnival night, but you lived. 

The first week of your fall break we just spent here, but it was really neat that it was our first time that you were home from school but Riley had school.  You were excited to take her to school with me, see her classroom, and watch her at Jitterbugs when it was time to pick her up.  My favorite morning was Tuesday though - we dropped Riley off at school, then headed to Krispy Kreme for the start of a Mommy-Gavin morning date.  We had some yummy donuts, headed to the bookstore where we did some browsing (without having to chase your sister around!), and then had some hot chocolate at Starbucks.  I love those special moments with you!

Now on to Disney.  Wow!  I cannot describe how amazing it was for me and your Daddy to watch you and Riley experience Disney for the first time.  I literally cried on several occasions because it was just so magical.  In true Gavin fashion, you got sick while we were there - one of my fears.  The second night there, you woke up around midnight and threw up all over the bed.  So sad.  :( Luckily, it was a one time thing and you woke up feeling much better and ready to take on Dis!  Your favorite, just as I suspected, was Hollywood Studios and the Star Wars fun.  Seeing you do 'Jedi Training' and go up against Darth Vader was one of the many times I teared up on this trip.  It was so special to watch.  You also loved Star Tours, riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with Daddy, all the different modes of transportation - the bus, the boat, the monorail.  Sometimes, I forget just how 'young' you really are still, but seeing you snooze away in the stroller while walking through the parks instantly reminded me that you are our little boy still, no matter how tall you are. 

You'll always be my little boy.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dear Gavin,

Hey there, Bug.  First grade sure is treating you nicely.  You're reading like a champ (on a 4th grade level to be exact!) and since I started volunteering in your classroom once a week, I get to see you in your element on a regular basis.  That's been super fun for me.  You did take me by surprise recently when you asked me to stop writing you noted in your lunch because others are making fun of the 'I love you' at the end.  I'm not ready to give that up, and it seems you still enjoy the notes, so we're working on creating a little code that just me and you will know. :)

We're about 6 weeks into Cub Scouts and you seem to be enjoying it still!  I personally love that it's a special Daddy/Gavin activity.  I love seeing you two work on projects together.  We recently had a family picnic and hike, and we're working on fire escape plans together this weekend.  It's been fun to have some new things to work on and talk about.  Plus, you couldn't be any cuter in your uniform!  Now, you're talking about soccer for the spring and even maybe learning to play the piano.  I'm not sure how you got old enough for all of this. 

A friend at school has started talking about you going over there for a sleepover.  I'm not gonna lie - I'm SO not ready for that!  I can't imagine you sleeping away without getting nervous, but who might do fine.  But, the idea of you being in a home that I've never even been to with a family I don't know just doesn't sit well with me.  Maybe someday...but for now, I hope you don't keep asking, because I hate being the bad guy, but it's just not time. 

The next time I write to you will be after out Disney trip!  I can't wait for this vacation but I'm so anxious about how it's going to go.  I know you're SO excited for the Star Wars stuff.  You are definitely at the age that you will remember this trip and I'm so excited to make amazing memories with you.  You're my favorite little boy...always will be! :)