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! :)


Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Riley,

Well, we missed a month, and boy have you had a great few weeks.  Earlier this month, you started preschool and it couldn't have gone any better.  The orientation went so well - you couldn't wait to wear your favorite dress (with the fish on it ) and I even let you have your way and wear you Cinderella glass slippers.  You were very disappointed that 1) Mommy and Daddy were staying with you at the orientation, and 2) you didn't have a lunchbox to take.  I couldn't seem to get you to understand that you wouldn't have lunch at school like your brother, so since school started, I've been packing you a lunch in the morning just like I do for Gavin on Tuesdays and Thursdays so you can have a lunchbox lunch waiting for you when you get back home.  You love it.  :)  That first day of school there were absolutely no tears.  You were so confident and ready, walking in wearing, once again, your favorite fish dress.  I just love coming to pick you up and sneaking a peek in the window to watch you so independently doing everything you're supposed to.  It's so bittersweet for mommy. 

You've also started Jitterbugs after school on Thursdays.  That's been a lot of fun for you!  You're such a performer and love to sing (loudly!) and dance around, so I can't wait to see your first performance with your Jitterbugs friends.  I just know someday you're going to be wowing us on stage.  You started your first independent swim lesson with Miss Jo also.  It's considered Preschool 1, and after just about 6 classes, she's already promoting you to Preschool 2 for the next session.  You're such a brave little fish!

You still have an obsession with flowers.  It's a special treat when Daddy brings you flowers home.  Harper is still your best friend, though we don't see her very often anymore now that school has started and you two are on different preschool schedules.  Like your mommy, you love to eat!  We all joke about how you have two or three breakfasts each morning.  Your imagination is wild these days.  We love the songs you make up, the stories you tell, and the way you cook for us in your kitchen. 

I'm really proud of your behavior lately.  We've seemed to shifted away from the meltdowns and tantrums and you're much more loving and well behaved.  Don't get me have your moments.  But, for the most part, we've seen a big change in you!  You're getting into the 'girly' things - like wanting to do our nails together and wanting me to curl your hair.  It's so much fun to watch you grow up, baby girl.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Dear Gavin,

Our little first grader!  Mommy is late at writing to you for July because the end of July was so busy.  We celebrated your sister's third birthday and got everything ready for you to start your first day of first grade!  I can't believe that I was once a first grade teacher, and now I'm the mom of a first grade student.  I can't remember what life was like before you came into our world, but yet it seems like just yesterday you were my tiny newborn son.

We started off July with a splash!  You finally overcame your fear and figured out how to swim.  To say we were proud of you would be an understatement.  Even Miss Donna, who has watched you at the pool the last two summers and did your swim lessons this year, was in tears on the last day because of how brave you were.  And then...swimmer's ear struck.  It's caused a slight regression, but I know we will continue to move forward as you become more confident in the water.  We love you so much and are so excited that you are more comfortable in the water. 

After mastering swimming, we set off for a road trip to Ohio - our first ever Christmas in July.  We were a little bummed you couldn't show off your swimming skills for Mimi and Beepa, but seeing you and Riley swim in the same pool I grew up swimming in was really nostalgic for Mommy and made me so happy.  We had a great week, and even took you to your first amusement park!  King's Island was so much fun!

After returning from Ohio, you had a few sessions of 'Expert Hour' at the library which was really fun - learning about juggling and science....super!  We also had to say goodbye to another one of your friends.  Gunner, who you noted was your best friend from kindergarten, moved to Texas.  I was really sad for you to have a friend move, but you were really mature about the whole situation and I'm hoping we can keep in touch via letter writing. 

Of course, I was supposed to write to you on July 29, which would've been before you started school, but since I'm late, we can officially say you started first grade on August 1 and you are so excited.  It was a much easier transition for Mommy.  I was sad as we went through the end of July, knowing our first baby was starting first grade and our last baby was turning three already, but I didn't find myself up at night, crying, like I did before you started kindergarten.  You were so excited to find out you got the same teacher since Mrs. Ruffner moved up a grade.  It will be nice to have the same familiarity as last year; plus you have some of the same friends in your class, so that helped with our transition.  The school year started on Friday this year (strange) and on Saturday you napped for three hours.  It will take some time for you to adjust to being back in school all day, but I am so excited to see how much you grow this year.  You're really pumped because you and Daddy decided to sign up for Cub Scouts!  Woohoo!

I have seen how you've grown over the summer and it makes me so proud.  I love the way you come up to hug me and say you love me when you can tell I'm having a bad day.  My rough days with your sister really get me down and you can always cheer me up.  I appreciate those hugs more than you will ever know, and I hope they continue coming, no matter how old you get. 

Thanks for making us so proud, Gavin.  We love you!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dear Riley,

Well, the past ten days or so have been so busy that Mommy is late writing to you.  But, guess what? You're THREE now!  I don't understand how time goes so fast...  We celebrated your third birthday with just a few of our closest friends - playing in the yard and a cookout.  Pretty awesome night.  You're a lucky little girl and received a brand new bike and lots of cool crafting supplies. 

We spent the beginning of the month on a road trip to Ohio and it was so much fun.  Christmas in July and an early birthday party for you.  It was so special for Mommy to see you and Gavin swimming in the pool I grew up swimming in. {And now we're gearing up for you to start swim lessons on your more Baby and Me lessons for the Pate Family!}  We also took you guys to your first amusement park and had a blast!  You're such a daredevil.  Every ride you saw, no matter how big, you wanted to ride.  We even rode one of the water rides and got LOVED it. 

Sweet girl, I've never had such an up and down relationship with anyone in my life like I have with you and it just drains me some days.  One minute, you're so super sweet, adorable, singing, playing dress up, kissing on me, and being an amazing little girl.  The next, you have an awful look on your face, you're hitting me, throwing things, screaming, telling me that I don't love you, and bringing me to tears.  Strong-willed is an understatement with you, Riles. But, for the most part, your tantrums and meltdowns are reserved for me - I guess that's a good thing because most people don't believe me when I talk about how difficult you can be.  I know that the 'threes' are worse than the terrible twos, and I just hope and pray that we get through this year and that four is better.  You will be starting preschool in just a month, and I think that will be a great thing for you.  I'm so excited for you to have a chance to make new friends.  

We will always love you to the moon and back.  Though we are really sad that our baby days are gone for our family, we're thrilled to watch you grow and become such an amazing young lady.  We know you're going to have big dreams and nothing will stand in your way when you shoot for making them come true.