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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,


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 visited 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 challenging 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 soaking 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.

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

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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.



An update on the boys…and stuff

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Dexter completed pre-school and Theo graduated from Kindergarten at the end of May. Here we are, already almost a full week into their school year. It’s hard to believe that my youngest is now officially in elementary school. We feel so lucky with the teachers our boys have this year. Dexter has the same Kindergarten teacher Theo had last school year. We had heard wonderful things from 3 different sets of parents about Theo’s first grade teacher and after  meeting her and hearing more about her teaching philosophy, we are jumping on the fan club bandwagon too.

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Summer flew by. Nine short weeks from the last day of one school year until the first day of the next. They went to a summer day camp for 8 weeks. Theo was in the Kindergarten and up class this year while Dexter was still in the pre-school class. The separation was a little difficult a few days here and there but overall everything went well. Theo had the opportunity to swim every day and about halfway through the summer, he passed a swim test so that he no longer had to wear a lifejacket in the pool. Now he is comfortable with swimming above and below the water and swimming down to touch the bottom of the pool. My mama heart wants to beat out of my chest watching him (like a hawk) but he is so proud of how much he’s learned and I am too.

Dexter reunited with a favorite friend from summer camp last year and begged almost every day to have him come to our house for a sleepover. Ha! If only it was that simple. Maybe if they meet up again next summer, we can try to arrange some get-togethers. Dexter always looked forward to seeing Theo at the flagpole and playing with him during before care for about 20 minutes.

Every day on our way home from camp, we passed their former Montessori pre-school. Of course, going there is fresh on Dexter’s mind, as are the friends we leave behind as we transition to this next phase in their lives. Often, Dexter would comment that he missed school, his teachers, or various friends. Theo never looked back once he left Montessori school so this has been a change of conversation and a little bittersweet. It hurts my heart to know that he’s thinking about the past longingly like that but I know that he too will move on. Soon those days will be a distant memory for him. Thankfully, we’ve become friends with the parents of some of his closest friends and hope to continue our connection to them and the school where it all began.

After 3 days of Kindergarten and 1st grade, I complained about not getting enough information. I’d ask them a million questions but I think they are just so busy that they can’t pick out specific details to share with me. It’s been an overwhelming change for Dexter. Theo is very excited about his teacher and having some of the same friends from last year in his class again. Dexter has been a little wild and crazy as he always is when big life changes are going on. Every day, everything is “good!” or “great!” so I’m trusting that all is well. I’ve been trying to hold back from emailing Dexter’s teacher for at least a week as he settles in to new routines and develops new friendships. Well, today on the fourth day I wish I had a little less information. Dexter said he had to walk five laps around the playground at the beginning of recess for talking while the teacher was talking. While I’m not terribly surprised, it’s disappointing and I kind of wish I was in the dark again.

Having a little one starting Kindergarten is tough on parents. I always heard people talk about crying when their “babies” started school and I guess it’s one of those things where you nod and give an empathetic “aww,” but you truly don’t understand what a big milestone it is until it happens. Before kids, I dreamed of having babies and young children but I guess my daydreams didn’t go much further than that. As a young girl, young woman, and young wife, I envisioned holding my babies for a good 20 years or more before I ever had any. 9 months of pregnancy flies by. A year of infancy and a couple years of toddlerhood fly by. The next thing you know, you’re ushering them onto the school bus and waving goodbye to them and their baby days all at the same time. Those precious 5 years are so unbelievably hard at times, but more than that, they are ridiculously short. When you send them off to Kindergarten, it is a milestone for the parents too. Off they go…into the world, or their miniature version of it anyway. I hope they are kind to others. I hope people are kind to them. I hope they follow the rules, but stand up for themselves when they need to. I hope they pay attention. I hope someone pays attention to them, shows them that they care. I hope they work hard and take pride in their accomplishments. I hope they enjoy learning. I hope I’ve prepared them well.

I hope they enjoy their childhoods. Because the next 13 years are going to fly by, too.

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