All posts by mommyinthemidwest

Dear Dexter: Happy 6th birthday

Dear Dexter,

Sorry I am a day late writing your letter, but we have been SO busy having fun this past week that time slipped away from me. That’s nothing new though, I don’t know how many times every week I think to myself (or say out loud to someone else) that I cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Just look – you are now SIX years old and only have 8 days of Kindergarten remaining. You’ve grown and learned and changed so much this year. You are doing so well academically that I feel silly for ever questioning whether or not you were ready to leave pre-school and join Theo at your elementary school.

You are a great reader but the thing that surprises me the most is how much your reasoning and critical thinking have changed. Sometimes, out of the blue, you will say something that just blows me away. You will realize something or make a connection that I haven’t even made yet. You will bring up a memory that we haven’t even talked about in years. More than anything though, I love the things about you that remain the same and are a part of who you are. Your sweet sensitivity and desire to make others happy. Your ability to sense when something is wrong and the way you try to make it right. The way you think of others and how you are almost always willing to compromise, but know when to stand your ground. You know what I know about you Dexter? I know that one day you are going to make someone very happy and lucky because you will be a caring, loving, considerate father and husband.

Your birthday celebrations started last weekend when Aunt Chelle, Uncle Bob, Spencer, Nana, and Pop Pop all came to stay and they spoiled you with presents and hugs and kisses. Your celebrating continued on Friday when mom and dad had lunch with you, you shared birthday cake muffins with your school friends, and then had your pal Layton spend the night. Yesterday, at 7:05am, you officially turned 6 years old and started off the day by playing outside, finishing your YMCA basketball season, having lunch at City Barbecue, and then spending the afternoon at Greatimes. We had dinner at home, swung in the hammock, watched Netflix, and built your new Lego sets. All in all, that was a pretty perfect birthday for a little boy like you!

Today is Mother’s Day and it’s not lost on me how nicely these two special days correlate. Your first birthday happened to fall on Mother’s Day and I sure don’t mind sharing this special time of year with you. Today, we got to do something that I wanted to do and had been hoping you and your brother would also enjoy. We went horseback riding for the first time as a family. Your dad and I had been but it was before we had you or Theo. Today was nothing short of amazing and I have you, your brother, and your dad to thank. Thank you for being adventurous and going along with my wishes to make me happy. Thank you for listening and following instructions- I was so nervous that you would be scared or fall off your horse. Thank you for lying with me in the hammock when we got home and retelling all your favorite parts of the weekend while we compared how big our hands are. Thanks for being who you are.

I am so lucky to be your mom, Dexter. You make me proud every day. I love your sweet smile and big blue eyes. I love that you still have all your baby teeth and am not really ready for them to fall out just yet because I know you will start looking even bigger and older. I love that you asked for a Trolls birthday and that you helped me go shopping for party favors. I love your irresistibly intense passion for stuffed animals and how you consider them lifelong family members immediately upon them entering our home. Cherish your childhood Dexter, this is such a magical time of life! I hope you carry many wonderful memories we are making now far into your adulthood. I have a feeling these are the times I will remember forever as the best days and years of my life. I hope you will remember them fondly too. You make everything more fun Dexter!

I love you so much more than you’ll ever begin to know,

Mommy

Dear Theo: You’re Seven

Theo,

Four days ago, you turned seven! Seven years ago, your dad and I had just been home from the hospital for a day or two and we were trying to get the hang of taking care of you. Flash forward to today and you do almost everything for yourself. We are still trying to figure out how to parent you most days but we’re all in this together and it’s as much a learning experience for us as it is for you. You’re still giving us lessons on how to approach different things and in the midst of figuring all this out, we’re making each other better human beings along the way.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming, raising a little guy. We put a lot of pressure on you to be a nice boy. But even more than that, I want you to be a good man. A caring brother and friend. A respectful student and son. Eventually a respectable man of his word who loves a family of his own. A person who is kind to others. For now though, we focus on today. We focus on glimpses of the little boy that we still see and hope they don’t disappear too soon. We read stories and we play games. We give goodnight hugs and kisses. We watch cartoons and play with action figures. We color and make Perler bead creations. We pack lunches, do homework, cook dinners, and get by as the weeks start and end over and over again.

In the last year, you’ve grown up quite a bit. You can tie your shoes and you read and spell like a champ. You still refuse to learn how to ride a bike. You just finished an 8 week long season of basketball and we saw your confidence grow bit by bit. You got your very own passport and we took a Western Caribbean cruise vacation. We visited Haiti, Jamaica, Cozumel, and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. You climbed a waterfall and went snorkeling. What a fun adventure that was for all of us! You’ve started doing chores to earn a small allowance and are beginning to understand the benefits of saving up your money instead of spending it as fast as you can. Your smile looks different as you’ve lost your 2 front teeth and now an adult tooth is almost all the way in — but you still smile as much as you ever did. You’re looking older, taller, and cooler with each passing day, week, and month.

You’re an early bird like Pop Pop. You’re up before 7 every day and will quietly play at the Lego table or watch a cartoon on Netflix. You LOVE to scare people – especially me when I am getting ready for work early in the morning. You’ll hide in the dark and wait for me to come, then shout BOO!, scaring the crap out of me! We both laugh and I tell you over and over that you’re JUST like your dad!

You may have gotten a little pickier with the foods you like and dislike over the last year but you’re still a good eater. You have decided you don’t like icing or donuts. You’d probably eat cereal 3 meals a day if we let you. You’ve started riding the school bus to school this year – this was a big step for mom and dad, giving up that control and letting someone else drive you and your brother around. I see you growing up in so many ways. I catch you showing genuine gratitude and it means the world to me. You are starting to pick up on more subtle humor. You still sit on my lap, even though your legs hang down to my feet – and I still can’t stop smelling and kissing your head when you do, just like when you were a baby.

You and your brother are still pretty inseparable but that doesn’t mean that you always get along. Sometimes you fuss and fight but when push comes to shove, you’re the best buddies and would be lost without each other. You guys rely on each other and you drive each other nuts. To be honest, I hope you’ll always have the closeness you share now and the comfort level to put each other in your places as you grown into adulthood. You have some pretty awesome friends and family who really love and care for you!

Theo, what would we do without you? The last 7 years have been an adventure that has gotten us to where we are with you. And where are we? I’d say we’re in a pretty great place. You’re sweet and fun and silly and sneaky. You’re big and you’re little. We’re having deeper conversations these days and I hope you’ll always feel able to talk to me. It terrifies me to think about how fast the last 7 years have gone, knowing in another 7 you’ll be FOURTEEN. I can’t stand the thought of you being so grown up because I know the older you get, the more I will lose a little bit of my baby boy.

Here are some photo memories from your 7th birthday!

You didn’t ask for cake – you asked for Volcano Cake Pops (we’ve been watching a lot of Kids Baking Championship on Food Network). Grammy came from TN to visit the weekend before your birthday and we went to the zoo. I forgot to get a picture with Grammy. šŸ™

Your birthday was on a school day – mommy and daddy came and had lunch with you. After school, Nana and Pop Pop came over and you opened your gifts.

 

Ended the basketball season on your birthday. You had great coaches! Ā  Chicago’s Pizza for dinner and dessert after the game. No traditional birthday cake for this birthday boy!

Monkey Joe’s this morning after a sleepover with Colin last night. You had a great 7th birthday!

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be

xoxo,

Mommy

Our Caribbean cruise vacation: Part 3

If you missed part one, read it HERE.

If you missed part two, read it HERE.

Day 5: Wednesday, October 12th. On Wednesday, we spent the day in Jamaica. When we originally booked the cruise and realized that Jamaica was on the itinerary, my mind instantly went to Dunn’s River Falls. Ryan and I visitedĀ Ocho Rios and climbed the falls in 2003 on our honeymoon. A friend of mine with young sons recently visited as well and I asked her if she thought kids could do it. She thought so, so we forged ahead with fingers crossed that this wouldn’t be way too challengingĀ for them. We docked at Falmouth and the port and shopping area is absolutely beautiful. There are some touristy places like Margaritaville and Del Sol but also lots of local artists and food options. Our excursion to DRF included a stop at Green Grotto Caves, which turned out to be just as much fun for the boys. Our kids were the only children with our tour group and this served us well. First of all, they were having a wonderful time so they were incredibly well behaved, which is always helpful. Secondly, the other people on our tours thought they were cute and enjoyed talking to them. Finally, the tour guides loved them and let them (us) in the front of the group so they could see and the guides could help them navigate places with tricky or slippery footing.

I love the people of Jamaica that we encountered. I love the no-problem attitude. “In Jamaica, we do not have problems. We have situations, which can be shared with friends and family.” Green Grotto Caves was located 30 minutes from Falmouth and about halfway to Dunn’s River Falls, so we had lots of time to listen and talk to the guide on the bus tell us about Jamaican culture and interesting details about the lifestyle there. We found the info about their daily life the most fascinating, like how public schools work, how taxes are paid, and how homes are constructed.

The boys absolutely loved both the caves and the falls – they were troopers and I love their sense of adventure and lack of fear. It was an awesome, awesome, awesome day. The kind of day where you’re torn between soakingĀ in every ounce of the experience and feeling bittersweet anxiousness because you know it’s just a fleeting moment in time you’ll never get back. During the Falls, Theo kept saying “I don’t want this to end!” and I didn’t either. I don’t know how else to explain it so I’ll let the photos talk.

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A crystal clear underground lake at Green Grotto Caves.

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The guide, Kevon, called the boys “superheroes” and they loved it.

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20161012_133102At the base of Dunn’s River Falls20161012_135630 20161012_135635 20161012_135647 20161012_135701 20161012_142330 20161012_161244 20161012_162751 20161012_162840 20161012_163658 20161012_164515 20161012_165503 20161012_170516 20161012_1745500 20161012_174837 20161012_175026 20161012_175541 20161012_175855 20161012_180200 20161012_183039 20161012_183737 20161012_184732 20161012_185207 20161012_191241 20161012_195711

Falmouth, Jamaica was by far one of the best days of the trip!

The boys went to Adventure Ocean while we enjoyed some frozen drinks by the pool.

xoxo,

~C~