Thursday, July 30, 2009

Four Years Old

July 21, 2009

Dear Mason II,

Happy 4th Birthday! Holy cow, 4 years old!

Four year statistics: Weight: 44 lbs. Length: 41.5 inches. (This is 1/2 inch shorter than three months ago, but the 42 inches was me measuring at home, and this time the measurement came from the doctor.) Diaper Size: NONE! Woo Hoo! Clothes: 4/5

The past three months have been filled with good news and bad. First the good news: In your last letter, I wrote a private P.S. that a small pre-cancerous growth had been identified on my face. It was frozen with nitrogen and in late May was deemed to be sufficiently gone for the present time. The dermatologist warned me that it is only a matter of time before it is back and will likely be cancerous, but for now – no cancer! Please wear sunscreen every single day.

The bad news is so bad and still so painful that I have been putting off writing your letter because I simply don’t know how to describe how I feel. My nanny, your great-grandmother, passed away on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at the age of 91. At some point I will write more about what happened around that time, but what I hope you will always remember is that she loved you. Some of my fondest memories of the two of you include:
• When she came to visit with Nana right after you were born. I adore the picture of her holding you when you were just a few days old.
• In August 2006, we all went to the Outer Banks for a beach vacation. Although she wasn’t feeling well, she loved to sit next to you in the car and play peek-a-boo. Forever more she referred to you as her little peek-a-boo.
• During that same beach trip, you had just learned to walk. You loved to push her wheelchair around, and she would laugh at your delight.
• Whenever I would speak to her on the phone, she would always ask how you were doing. She fondly referred to you as Mini-Mason. I can only imagine that 30 years from now when you are as tall as your father, she would have certainly still been calling you Mini-Mason.

I have so many fond memories of my Nanny that I don’t think I could ever tell them all to you. I will do my best to write some of them down so you can get to know her the way that I have known her. At night before bed, I have started telling you stories. Many of them are about the fun times and lovely vacations I shared with my Nanny. She was loving and kind, loved to shop, and had a voracious love of reading. She cared for me and was always teaching me something whether it was the state capitals or my spelling words. Several years after I married your dad, she told me one day, “Dear, your Mason reminds me of my Fuzzy. I know you will have a happy life together like we did.” I couldn’t help but agree with her. I am in deed a lucky girl.

One more thing about my Nanny was that she documented her life in journals. I certainly am not as prolific a writer as she was, but I hope that these letters to you will serve as a reminder of the many fun times our family will have over the years.

While in Las Vegas for Nanny’s funeral you and your cousins, Mary Lynne and Howard IV, became the best of friends. Watching you and Mary Lynne run crazy around the back yard, surely must have been like a flashback to my cousin Howard and I chasing and having fun as kids. Although we live across the country, I trust you will nurture your friendships with your cousins. Between Mary Lynne, Howard IV, Danielle, KK, Cameron, and Aedan, you will surely have fun places to visit for many summers to come.

During our trip to Las Vegas, we visited the Springs Preserve and the Children’s Museum. The Children’s Museum had fun exhibits on bubble making and an airport interactive play area. It also had an exhibit on bodily functions and you are still talking about the big booger exhibit we saw. Ewww – Yuck! The Springs Preserve had many fun things to see including a train exhibit, lizards, bats, a video game of a bee flying from flower to flower, and the scariest part of all – the flash flood simulator. Between the boogers and the flash floods, that is all you have talked about for weeks.

While Nanny’s passing has felt like a black cloud over these past few weeks, we have had some good laughs as well. You often say the funniest things. For example, on May 2nd, at dinner we ate pizza casserole: ground chicken, mushrooms, zucchini, tomato sauce and cheese on a crust. You loved it! In fact you said, “Next time we go to the zoo, I want zucchini with cotton candy.”

The past few weeks, you have been absolutely obsessed with fire trucks. Today you refused to wear shorts because, “Firemen don’t wear shorts under their bunker pants.” The other day I was trying to get you out of bed from your nap. I said, “What’s that? Do you hear the fire alarm dinging?” You jumped out of bed, got dressed in pretend bunker pants and jacket, and then took off running down the stairs. You even reached for the invisible pole and jumped off the last two steps. “To the fire truck!” you yelled as you landed on the ground. Then you took off running around the corner. I wonder if this will work when you are a teenager?

We were going to have a beach/pool themed birthday party for you. We were discussing what to put on top of your cake and I mentioned a beach ball, and you said, “And a fire truck, right mama?” So, a fire truck party it was. That makes three years in a row for anyone keeping track. Your dad outdid himself with an awesome Lego fire truck on top of your cake. You had many, many friends in attendance, and spent a fun morning swimming, playing on the slip-n-slide, and playing with the water table your dad made. We were so lucky to have Nana here to celebrate with us. The Sterling Fire Department also paid a visit. They let you sit in the driver’s seat and put on a real fire coat. What an awesome day!

Since I last wrote, we have been camping twice! Over Memorial weekend we organized the first ever St. Matthew’s Family Camping Trip to Mathew’s Arm in Shenandoah National Park. Eight families came along, and we had a great time. The weather was beautiful. We had a tough time on our hike because you refused to go to the bathroom in the forest, but 40 minutes later we were back on the trail. I’ll skip the horrific details of the bathroom episode. Then earlier this month, we headed to Bear Creek Lake State Park. What a beautiful place! This was our first trip to a VA State Park. The lake was amazing, and we enjoyed swimming, and your dad and I enjoyed the paddle boats while you complained that they were too noisy. The camping was great here, and they even had showers. A few too many flies, and you ran down the car battery by playing with the lights in the car, but overall we had a great time and found some friendly neighbors to give us a jump. Our next camping trip is just a week away as we head out to Westmoreland State Park with our friends, the Gentry’s: Annabella, Jen, Dave, and Gus.

I think I may have mentioned your extreme fondness for your dad in my last letter. Well, mama’s back! Snuggles at bedtime are now all with mama. I wonder if poor dad feels as left out as I did a few months ago? At bedtime, we read three – four books, and then you kiss dad goodnight. You and I then say prayers and you ask for an assortment of stories and songs. Oftentimes you have your mind made up for a certain story or song and nothing else will do until I figure out what it is you want to hear. Tonight’s song was All Night, All Day, Angels Watching Over Me. I love that one.

Here are a few other highlights of the past few months:
• First Vacation Bible School – Crocodile Dock
• Saw Rocknoceros in concert in April.
• Saw Mister Don in concert a week before your birthday.
• Been to countless birthday parties: Rachel Leary, Evie and Allie, Carter, Group birthday party, your own birthday party, and you missed Mia’s, Lex’s and Maddie’s parties for various reasons. You are quite a popular kid.
• LOVE your Lego’s.
• Birthday presents include: Lego fire truck, Lego helicopter, Lego Star Wars, lots of fun games like Hungry Hippo, Ants in the Pants, I Spy, and a light saber from Nana.
• You are asking how to spell words all the time now. You can spell your name and Nana. You also know your address. You love to play with your Word Whammer.
• Still not much interest in holding a crayon or pencil properly. In general you just aren’t that thrilled with coloring or writing.
• Narrating each day as if you are a fireman preparing to go on the fire truck to a fire. Bunker pants – check. Coat – check. Air mask – check. Hat – check.
• Went to the dentist in July and it was awful – kicking and screaming just to get you to sit in the chair. *sigh* What’s a mama to do?
• Your visit to the pediatrician was much the same as the dentist. You have never been so upset before. I had to hold you down just to get your temperature taken. I think this is due to the blood work we had done a few weeks ago. See story below.
• WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? Your very favorite word! Ahhhhhhhh! Your dad’s favorite answer is now, “It’s the circle of life.”

Let me tell the quick story of the blood work lest I forget what was likely the worst three hours of my life as a parent.
Your pediatrician requires routine blood work of all kids before their 4th birthday. I wasn't happy about taking you and of course, the blood draw was NOT fun. Called two days later for results and they didn't have them yet, but said they would call me. We went to Rachel Leary's birthday party that night, and when we got home there was a message from the doc. I thought just the nurse would call, but tried not to stress.

The next morning I'm at work and call the doc at 9am when they open. Nurse immediately takes my call. She says doc isn't in yet, but doc gave her my file to call me first thing in the morning. Then she tells me to grab a piece of paper so I can take notes. Blood tests revealed low platelet count, low nutrifills and low lymph something. She says that while the white blood count is good, these are all other signs of a compromised immune system and the doc wants to retest you. At this point, I’m worried, but just thinking we can take you in next week. Then she says, I've already faxed stat testing orders to the hospital, can you please take him immediately??? At that point, I freaked out. She was very nice, and gave me very specific instructions on where to go and who to ask for. Dad picked you up from day care, to hospital, then home. Doc called about an hour after leaving the hospital with the results that the re-test was all clear. What a mess, and what a horrible experience for all of us. At your four year appointment she explained in more detail. One of the scores they look at and like to see a measure of 1,500. She said they get worried when the score is 1,000 – yours came in at 800, which is why they wanted the immediate re-test. Doc said the first test results were indicative of a sick child with a compromised immune system. Ahhhh! Thank God the re-test came back clear.

This letter is already three pages long, and I don’t feel like I have covered a fraction of the things we have done these past three months. As I always say, you are growing by leaps and bounds. You are such a boy now, hardly any baby left in you at all. I tell you all the time that I will love you every day of your life. Your reply is always the same – WHY? However frustrating the WHY’s may be, I know that you are busy discovering the world around you. I love seeing you grow and learn, and I feel so blessed to be your mom.

All my love, and happy 4th birthday my son.
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