Tate Birthday

9-Years-Old

Dear Tate,

A few weeks ago, you turned 9-years-old. I hardly ever write on this blog anymore, but every year on your birthday, I want to make sure I get something written here. You are such an interesting, fun, wonderful kid, and that certainly hasn’t changed in the last year. But other things about you have changed, and I know if I don’t get them down in words, they will float away, just like all memories do.

Tate Birthday

The other day a friend of mine posted something to social media about how parenting is basically deciding where in the house you want to keep the giant pile of acorns that your children bring home and HAVE TO KEEP BECAUSE THEY ARE TREASURES. I was immediately taken back to your preschool days, when you’d come home with random items in your pocket…an acorn, yes, but also a lego guy, a feather, three pennies, a nickel and, of course, a couple of rocks. Those days feel so far away to me now, but I still keep a jar of your trinkets on a shelf in our kitchen. It reminds me of how much you’ve grown, and of how much I have loved being your mom.

Preschool Tate was cute, and honestly, so is 9-year-old Tate. You’re my own, real-life Peter Pan, a little imp who sometimes gets into trouble, but who easily skirts out of it with a wink and a smirk. In fact, the smirk is your go-to expression, including in all school photos and selfies. You pretty much always have a twinkle in your eye that suggests you might be up to no good. But mostly you just like to have fun, and you don’t often think about boundaries or limits.

This year has been difficult in ways I couldn’t have imagined when you blew out your candles last year. Since you were 2-years-old, I’ve worked from home and been able to be there for you whenever you needed me. If you were sick, I was there. If you had a school event, I was there. If you needed a snack or help with homework or someone to enter the password into the TV, I was always there. But this year I began working outside of the home again, and all of sudden, I wasn’t there. We are so fortunate, because you have a village of people around you (and me!) who have stepped up to fill the gaps since I went back to work. In fact, sometimes I think you like it better this way, as you get to spend time with neighbors, our super-fun babysitter, and at playdates with friends. Your relationship with your dad has strengthened in immeasurable ways, as he has been the parent volunteering at school and coaching your teams, instead of me taking on every role. We have gained much, much more than we lost.

This year we also moved to a new home, one that we chose, in part, because it kept us at your elementary school and near your friends. You love our new house, and it’s been so fun to see you here with friends and cousins, running around our new backyard and playing football on the front lawn. There has been so much change this year, and you have handled it all in stride. I’m so proud of you.

We also had an unfortunate experience where we, as parents, made a mistake and kept you in a situation that wasn’t healthy for you. Parents make mistakes, buddy. In fact, I make them every, single day. But this one ate away at me because I knew from the beginning it wasn’t a good fit for you, but I kept you in it because I didn’t want to seem overprotective or inflexible. I let my fear of making trouble direct how I parented, and I deeply regret it. But when we finally did make the decision to move on, you never blamed us. You kept a good attitude, even when it would’ve been understandable for you to lose your cool. You stuck it out and you held your head high, and I’m so grateful for how you navigated all of it. You are an incredible person, Tate.

My hope for you this year is that you find a way to give yourself a little grace, kiddo. You are a very competitive person, and sometimes that gets the best of you. It seems especially difficult because you are someone who tends to just be really good at almost everything you try. But then, when something doesn’t come as easily, you can get really down on yourself. As you get older, there are going to be so many things that you won’t be the best at, but I don’t want you to give up. I want you to enjoy the experience of trying something new, failing, and trying again. I want you to encourage yourself, instead of putting yourself down when you’re not perfect. You’ve already been working on this, and I can see a big difference. In fact, you just went snowboarding for the first time, and your dad said you fell constantly…but you always got back up. That’s the good stuff, kiddo.

I am so proud to be your mom, Tate. I cannot wait to see what this next year will bring!

Love,

Mama

Tate 8th Birthday

Eight-Years-Old

Tate 8th Birthday

Dear Tate,

Yesterday you turned eight and today is the last day of school before we start holiday break. I’m starting the break with a bit of a “fun headache” from the epic tale that was your birthday. I know having a birthday so close to Christmas can be a bummer (just ask your dad), so I do my best each year to make it extra joyful. This year was supposed to be more chill, since we only do parties every other year, but a late night stroke of genius changed all that when I sat up in bed and thought “We should take the kids to Winterfest at World’s of Fun for Tate’s birthday!” You were thrilled with this idea, so last night we closed down the amusement park with two of your best friends and our family. You were the only ones on the rides by the end of the night, as it was under 30 degrees and most of the park visitors had lost feeling in their toes (including myself and your dad), but it was worth it to see how completely happy you were to have this special celebration.

Tate 8th Birthday

You are simultaneously goofy and very serious, which is sometimes challenging as a parent. You’re incredibly sensitive and intense, and your moods are EXTRA. You are often the happiest kid in the room, but just as often you can become withdrawn or upset, and teaching you how to feel your feelings, work through them, and come to a resolution has been one of my main goals as your mother. I don’t want you to stuff any of those emotions, but you also can’t wallow, and that’s a hard lesson for me at 36-year-old, let alone you at EIGHT.

Tate 8th Birthday

This year we dealt with some real fear for the first time as I watched you experience episodes of anxiety. Your fear of thunderstorms and tornadoes spiraled to a point where we were having a hard time managing them. I am so grateful we were able to find a wonderful child therapist who has taught you (and me!) so much about fear and anxiety. I am incredibly thankful we are able to deal with some of these issues now, instead of waiting until you are an adult and so much of your thinking is solidified. I’m so proud of how you’ve handled these obstacles this year and how hard you’ve worked to overcome them. I know this is not a straight path, but what we’ve learned this year will help both of us for the rest of our lives.

Tate 8th Birthday

Right now your loves include: sports (soccer, basketball, swim team, baseball and recently you’ve started talking about hockey too), cats, your friends, video games, making mama laugh by making derpy faces, and reading. That last one is HUGE for us, since we started this year way behind on your reading abilities. But in the last three or four months, it all finally clicked for you and now you’re reading for pleasure whenever you can find a minute, just like your sister. Your favorite books are Dogman, Catstronauts and the Ranger the Dog series.

Tate 8th Birthday

Tate, you are bold and brave, often overcoming fears just to prove others wrong. You strive to be the best at everything you do, and want others to do the same. You are kind and sensitive, wearing shirts with sloths and kittens on them because they are “just so cute,” inviting a girl in your class to sit at the special table on your birthday because she was having a bad day, and loving to snuggle whenever the opportunity allows. I am so grateful for you and how you’re growing, learning and changing every day.

Tate 8th Birthday

A few weeks ago you came into my bed to snuggle and chat, and for the first time in ages, you fell asleep in my arms. I couldn’t believe how big you felt, and I realized it won’t be very long until you will no longer EVER fall asleep curled up in my hug. I felt a bit of sadness for future me, who will miss those moments so much, but then I looked at your face with your long eyelashes fluttering on your cheeks as you dreamed, and decided instead of being sad, I wanted to fully be present in that moment. That way, even when you’re a giant, smelly teenager, I’ll still have that memory to pull me back to these wonderful moments of parenting my sweet eight-year-old.

I love you, Tater.

Love,
Mama

Tate 7th Birthday

Seven-Years-Old

Tate 7th Birthday

Dear Tate,

Today you turn seven-years-old. Last night, as we snuggled in your bed, I told you I couldn’t believe it was the last time I’d be saying goodnight to my six-year-old! You responded with, “Well, mama, I’m still your buddy. It’ll be okay!” And, of course, you’re right. It WILL be okay, because every minute/day/year that goes by, you grow into an even more incredible person than you were before. While I am totally obsessed with you as a baby (because HAVE YOU SEEN THIS VIDEO OMG), I’m loving this stage of life with you as a spunky little boy. You are feisty, curious, ornery and adorable all at the same time. It’s the best!

Tate 7th Birthday

Tate 7th Birthday

This year you not only grew physically (you are huge, dude…and your feet are massive!), but emotionally as well. I know people say that boys are less emotional than girls, but nothing seems to be further from the truth in your case. You are incredibly sensitive, and watching you learn to navigate your very big feelings has been challenging at times. There have been many tears over hurtful words from friends or your sister, or just feeling left out because you’re the youngest kid on our block. Often those tears are followed by angry outbursts…your smashed Halloween pumpkin comes to mind. Sometimes I can find this frustrating, but I try to remind myself that the flip side of these tearful moments are the ones of pure joy that you bring our way on a daily basis. You are so loving, sometimes it seems as if it will burst out of you! When you see me in the hall at school or at a sports game you always run up and give me a huge hug and a kiss, regardless of who is around. The other day you knocked on the bathroom door while I was getting ready for the day, and when I opened it, I found you standing there with my wedding ring in your hand. “Mama, will you marry me?” Oh, my heart.

Tate 7th Birthday

I know sooner than I’d like my love won’t be the most important thing in your life, especially since you have already shared that you have two “crushes” in your first grade class. My adorable baby has grown into a very good looking kid, and I can already tell our teenage years with you will be quite the adventure. Whenever I visit your class at school, there are multiple girls that fawn over you, hugging and wanting to sit next to you. Yesterday when two girls were fighting over the seat next to you at the holiday party, you looked over at me, shrugged your shoulders and WINKED. My god. What are we going to do with you, kid?

Tate 7th Birthday

This year you finally got to really find some activities of your own, since you’ve spent much of your young life attending concerts, rehearsals, practices and recitals for your sister. It’s YOUR turn! You have kept up with soccer, but you also played basketball and baseball. You were part of the inaugural boys class at your Aunt Ashley’s dance camp, and it appears you love performing as much as your sister! I loved watching you try new things and step out of your comfort zone this year. I know it’s a challenge for you, and sometimes you hated me for making you try, but I hope the lessons you learn today will help you as you continue to grow. If not, there’s always therapy!

Tate 7th Birthday

Tater Tot, I love you so much, it makes my heart hurt. I want nothing but the best for you, but I always want to make sure you care for others around you as well as yourself. You’re growing up in an interesting time…you’re a middle class white boy from the Midwest during a time of great change in our country and community. My hope is that as you continue to learn, you will use your privilege to lift others up and make the world a better place. If who you are today is any indication, the world is in for a lot of joy from you, kid. I love you endlessly.

Tate 7th Birthday

Love,
Mama

Tate 6th Birthday

Six Years Old

Tate 6th Birthday

Dear Tate,

Yesterday was your sixth birthday and can I tell you my favorite part? When you woke up and groggily came into the kitchen whispering, “Mama.” You reached your hands around my neck and I scooped you up, while you nuzzled into my shoulder. “Good morning, buddy. I can’t believe it’s your birthday!”

Tate 6th Birthday

Your head popped up, your eyes snapped open and then we were off. That’s your speed, buddy. Either a 1 or a 10 and not too much in between. You laughed with glee as you opened your presents and blew out the candle on your doughnut. Then you got ready for school (it was your first ever birthday during school…in preschool we always got out for the holidays before your big day!) by yourself like you do most mornings. You are fairly independent now, pulling on your jeans and brushing your hair before wandering the house looking for your shoes. Every day I tell you to put them in the basket by the door and every day you swear you DID put them in the basket by the door…only to find them 20 minutes later under your bed or in the garage.

Tate 6th Birthday

This year your independence has grown to a whole new level. You get home from school and immediately head outside to play with the neighbors. You spend most days bouncing from house to house with your friends, and I often find myself sending group texts to the other moms asking, “Is Tate at your house?” You assert this independence every chance you can get, and while part of me wants you to stay little, I’m pretty proud of the guy you are growing into.

Tate 6th Birthday

You started Kindergarten this year, which began with a lot of promise, but has definitely had it’s speed bumps. Due to circumstances totally outside our control, you have had three different teachers (plus a long term substitute) in four months. While this has stressed me out to no end, you have handled it all in stride. At school, you are a leader and a helper. You even won an award for your good behavior! I have been worried, but you constantly show me I have nothing to worry about. You let the bad stuff roll off your back and are constantly looking for the positive side of things. We’re all better for having you around.

Tate 6th Birthday

The competitive side of you has DEFINITELY shown itself more than once (or twice!) in the past year, but along with it comes this incredible thirst for love and affection. You will play rough on the soccer field or basketball court, and then get home and just want to snuggle for an hour. You are obsessed with kittens, something that has only gotten worse since we got our own cat earlier this year. If you had your way, every piece of clothing you own would have a cat on it. You check out kitten books from the library and then fawn over the pages…”they are just so CUUUUTTTTEEE!”

Tate 6th Birthday

Tate, you are a perfect mix of soft and severe, sweet and feisty, warm and frosty. I love watching you grow up, and I am so grateful every day that I get to be your mother.

Love,
Mama

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

A (Sort of) Harry Potter Halloween 2016!

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016 is in the books, and even though it wasn’t as epic as last year, it was still a pretty fun night full of candy, fun, candy, friends…and candy! Last year Halloween was on a Saturday, our street had a block party AND our Kansas City Royals were in the playoffs, so everyone had TV screens out in front of their homes watching the game and cheering while the kids went door-to-door. We stayed up late and got to sleep in the next morning, which helped a bit with the inevitable sugar crash. Also, since the big day was on a Saturday, school parties were held earlier in the week, which helped the whole day to be less overwhelming.

Halloween 2016

This year was definitely much more mellow, since it was a Monday night, but the kids are still calling it “the best Halloween ever” so I think that counts as a success. Now, the sugar crash and having to wake them up for school this morning was decidedly less fun than last year. I feel like I need to send all the teachers a spa gift certificate for what they must’ve gone through today!

Ron Weasley Halloween 2016

Last year we did a pretty awesome family costume, and the plan was to do a Harry Potter theme this year. However, we ran into a snag when Lucy decided she couldn’t be her favorite character (Ginny Weasley) because in the end (spoiler alert for all you weirdos that haven’t read Harry Potter yet!) Ginny marries Harry…and if Tate was going to be Harry, Lucy just COULDN’T be Ginny! Gross! But we thought it would be a bit weird if we went as Harry Potter characters without Harry Potter…so Lucy decided to skip out on the family costume and instead dress up as a “cat person” which is something she made up. Apparently it’s half person, half cat, and she explained this to every adult who dared to say, “Aw, and you’re a kitty this Halloween!” No, she is a CAT PERSON. Totally different.

Cat Person Halloween 2016

Trent dressed up as Luigi from Mario Brothers for his work Halloween, which of course meant he had to shave his beard into an insane mustache. It was hilarious, but when he left the mustache for his evening costume change, he ended up looking like the creepiest Ron Weasley I’d even seen! The photo of the three of us cracks me up, because I think this is exactly how Hermione would feel about Ron with an insane mustache.

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Now, if you need me, I’ll be off stealing mini Twix bars from my kids’ candy stash! Happy Halloween!



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