All posts by mommyinthemidwest

Happy 8th Birthday Theo!

Theo, Theo, Theo…

You are eight years old today. I look at you and see your crooked smile, long legs, and changing interests and it hits me hard that you are not a little kid anymore. You are almost through 2nd grade and have continued to excel academically, but not without your fair share of agenda book “checks” this year for some silly behaviors. You have fallen in love with Pokemon and Minecraft and while I thought that was the last thing on Earth I’d want invading my home, your enthusiasm and knowledge is impressive, contagious, and cute.

It has been an interesting year to say the least. Around your 7th birthday, your allergy doctor prescribed medication to help with your symptoms. We noticed over the summer that you weren’t having as much fun doing things that you used to enjoy. Stay with me, I’m going to come back to that.

You got your eyes checked in April and ended up with some pretty cool blue glasses. At the time the doctor said you barely needed them but now you act like you can’t see without them. You like your glasses, and we do too. You get tons of compliments on them and you know what they say – glasses make you look smart!

You rode a horse for the first time on Mother’s Day last year; that was something I had been wanting to do with you for a long time. You absolutely loved it, did great, and immediately said you wanted to go back. (Me too!)

We enjoyed a summer vacation to Garden City Beach and loved playing in the sand, the pool, and walking down to the pier to get Italian ices and ice cream cones almost every day we were there. You and your brother got along so well, had your own bedroom in the condo, and made some really great family memories with Grammy. You and Dexter LOVED going to the Pirate dinner show.

You spent most of your summer days at Crabapple Creek camp and reunited with some favorite friends from the 2 summers before. You started taking drawing classes at a local art studio. You got bored with that once Dexter quit going and decided after a while to bail, too.

We had a quick surprise getaway to Jellystone Park in Bloomington for Daddy’s birthday in July. We loved our little cabin, the water park, and getting snacks from the camp store!

You were excited to start 2nd grade and like your teacher. You became really good friends with a girl in your class and I can’t get over how much you have in common and how well you get along.

In September, we went on your 3rd vacation to Walt Disney World. While we were there, so many things reminded you of your friend from school and you asked me to take pictures of everything you thought she would like. Our memories from Disney vacations are some of my favorites. I hope you will grow up loving it as much as I do and take your family there one day! We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort and you probably enjoyed the pool there as much as any other part of our trip, if not more. We went to the water parks for the first time ever, and we all loved going down the slides, especially the family raft rides.

You dressed up as Davy Jones for Halloween and Dexter dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. You two got so many compliments and really looked AWESOME! We all got such a big kick out of the costumes and of course, enjoyed tons of candy. Our neighborhood is perfect for trick-or-treating! The biggest TREAT of all though, was a cute little kitten that followed us home. You and Dexter promptly named her Snickers. Against your daddy’s wishes, we let Snicks live in our garage for a week while we attempted to find her a home. The biggest TRICK of all was when we found out that Snicks had fleas. We bathed her, played with her, fed her, and delivered to her new home happy and healthy. You and Dexter were really sad to say goodbye (and so was I). We still talk about her and miss her funny personality.

In November, we noticed you still were not enjoying things as much as you used to, you seemed grumpy most days, and your teacher had started making marks in your agenda book about you not paying attention, being distracted, and even attempting to avoid work sometimes. When we talked to you about it, you really got upset and we were feeling at a loss. You said some things that made us feel so sad and worried. You were really down and it was heartbreaking for us because we didn’t know how to help. It wasn’t until one day when you’d asked to go to a bounce house that we realized what was wrong. We hadn’t been there for 5 minutes when you came over to where we were sitting and pouted for at least an hour before we left. You were bored. This was stupid. You wanted to leave. Every other boy your age there was having the time of his life. Your dad and I were crushed. And in that moment, it hit me.

I remembered your allergy doctor mentioning that the medication you were taking might make some kids “a little fussy.” While Dexter continued to play and you sat there with your head on the table, I googled the med and side effects in children and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I felt relieved and hopeful that finally we would be able to help you feel like yourself again.

We called your doctor the following week and took you off of the medication right away. While you have struggled more with your allergies, our happy son has finally gotten back to his old self. Almost a new self, actually. You’re happier than ever. Smiley-er than ever. Funnier, wittier, and smarter than ever. I am getting to know a more cooperative and mature son than I’ve ever known.

We had special family time during the holidays, made a couple of trips to Tennessee, and carefully put out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. In January, I signed you up for basketball with great hesitation. You were kinda mad initially, but Theo…I was so proud of you. You went to every single practice and game without complaining. You focused, put forth so much effort, had a positive attitude, and participated to the very best of your ability. You even (dare I say it) had a great time!

Looking back over the past year, I feel half angry that your doctor didn’t fully explain the side effects to us, and just as guilty for not being more proactive about researching them myself and for not recognizing what was going on sooner. While there were a lot of ‘ups’ and good memories made, I wonder how much more you would have enjoyed 2017 if you hadn’t been on that darn medicine for 8 months. On a positive note, I am thankful we figured it out when we did and that you didn’t have to stay that negative mindset. The good definitely outweighed the bad. It is always bittersweet seeing you turn another year older, but we are ready for another 12  awesome months. We feel lucky to have you in our lives and we love being your parents, learning from you, and watching you grow.

Today, we celebrate YOU! You wanted to have a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s because “I have never gotten in the thing where they blow all the tickets at you in my whole entire life.” We will hang out with a few friends, eat some pizza and brownies (because you’re weird and don’t like cake), play games, and continue to cherish these days, weeks, and years with you. Even if you did make us go to Chuck E. Cheese.  And learn all the names of the Pokemon thingies. And watch you build your fortress in Minecraft 13 times in one week. Especially because of all those things.

We are proud of you, love you more than you’ll ever know, and can’t wait to see what’s next for you. P.S. Thanks for the great Last-Day-Being-7 picture.

XOXO forever,


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,


Dear Theo: You’re Seven


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. 🙁

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!   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