Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday to Mason

July 21, 2012

Dear Mason II,

Happy Seventh Birthday!

Statistics: Weight: 64 lbs. 6oz. Length: 50.5 inches. Clothes: 7.

I’m not sure where the past year has gone. I truly thought I wrote a letter to you in January, but it doesn’t seem to be around anywhere. Weird. Sorry about that. Looks like we have a lot of ground to cover here.

Let’s start with school. In August 2011 you started Kindergarten. Mrs. Cooper was your teacher and Mrs. Tsao was the assistant teacher. They were both lovely, kind and wonderful to have as your first school teachers. You absolutely loved Kindergarten. It was such a switch from the year prior when you hated going to preschool. You loved to ride the bus and were excited every single day! Academically, you performed quite well. You are an accomplished reader and met or exceeded all of your benchmarks. The only area you seemed to score average in was your use of computers, which I find a little funny given how proficient you are on the computer. Oh well – not exactly anything to get up in arms about. Dad and I were just happy that you loved to go to school and learn.

You are looking forward to first grade and are hoping to have Mrs. Adams as your teacher because, “she goes out for recess every single day!” We will find out who your teacher will be in August sometime. I’m hoping you make the adjustment to full day school with ease. It will be quite a change to be up, dressed, fed and out of the house for bus pick up at 7:25am.

I don’t foresee getting out of the house to be too much trouble because you are still an early bird. You typically fall asleep around 8:15pm or so and wake somewhere between 5:30 – 6:30am. You’ve just always been an early riser.

August 2011, we took a wonderful family vacation to a lake house in PA. We had a fun week playing in the water and just relaxing. It was very low key and just what we needed. The lake was right across the street from our house and even had a little concession stand where we could buy ice cream in the afternoon. You and dad enjoyed riding your bikes and we all had fun at the playground.

When we returned from vacation, you had two teeth pulled! Your bottom middle adult teeth were coming through, but your baby teeth weren’t even loose. The dentist recommended the baby teeth be pulled. I think I was more nervous than you were. A little laughing gas and you did great! The tooth fairy brought you two golden dollars – one for each tooth!

September 2011, Nana moved to Virginia! What an exciting time that was for all of us. Nana found a renter for her house in Nevada and packed up her things and headed East! She moved into the spare room next to yours, and it was wonderful to have her with us. She lived with us until January, when Uncle Howard and Uncle Bill bought a house in West Virginia, where she moved. She still comes to visit us at least once a week though so we can all go to church together. I think she misses us as much as we miss her, but it is wonderful to have her so close now!

October 2011 is a blur to me. The end of September I started teaching a new class for an online university. The demands were extreme and I spent 20 – 25 hours per week on the class, in addition to my regular work for St. Matthew’s, plus running the house and taking care of you and your brother. It was the most difficult month I can remember for some time. During this month I made a mistake and gravely hurt a friend’s feelings. After waiting too long, I apologized to her and asked for forgiveness, but it was too late. She decided to end our friendship. I tell you this as a lesson for when you are older and read these letters. When you make a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings apologize right away – immediately – and do so with sincerity. It is also important to realize that even when you make a mistake and apologize it doesn’t mean that you will be granted foregiveness. For me it has been nine months and I regret my actions every single day, and fear that for the rest of my life I will miss my friend.  Learn from my mistakes.

November 2011, we went to Shrine Mont for our annual St. Matthew’s Fall Retreat. Your brother was baptized there and it was a wonderful weekend of relaxation.  Your dad also participated in WATCH Dogs – a program at school – where dads volunteer to spend time during the school dad on the grounds and in your classroom. You loved when your dad came to school!

December 2011 – Christmas time! We had a great time at the church Christmas sing along – it really helped us get in the mood for the holidays! It was wonderful having both nana and grandma with us this Christmas. You enjoyed doing some Christmas shopping and even helping to wrap a few presents. For Christmas you recevied a new sleeping bag for camping, an old school Darth Vader action figure carrying case, and the Lego Frigate.

January 2012 – We helped Nana move into her new house in West Virginia this month! Dad received tickets to a Capitals game for Christmas so he and I went to the game. It was so much fun! We can’t wait to take you someday! Boy, are games expensive! Tickets were $80 each and a beer was $9!

Feburary 2012 – This month you took a swimming class. You were in level two and got to swim in the big pool! It was a great winter activity for you. You have progressed and can easily float on your back and really move around in the water on your own.

March 2012 – We attended the book fair at school and you had so much fun choosing books. I think you would have spent $150 on books if we bought everything you picked up. You continue to love to read and for dad and I to read to you. We try to balance buying books and checking books out from the library. In your Kindergarten class you went to the library every Friday and checked out a book. You loved non-fiction books about reptiles and Madeline books. In March, we also went to the church Easter Egg Hunt at the park. Your friend, Jerry, and his family joined us!

April and May 2012 – Easter was a great day that we celebrated at church and then dinner with grandma, nana, and the Yarbroughs. The Tuesday after Easter, I took the day off work and we headed back up to the Port Discovery Museum in Baltimore. What a great day! We always have fun when we go up for a visit.

April also saw the start of t-ball season! Woo! Just like Kindergarten, you embraced t-ball with open arms. You had a great time riding in the back of a pick up truck for the opening day parade. Then you had two games each week until school let out. You played a variety of positions and enjoyed learning skills. I had a good time running the bench and dad had a good time(?) chasing Christian. Your brother really wanted to play with you and took every opportunity to run onto the field! We also had a great time in April and May playing baseball in the front yard after dinner.

We attended the Science and Engineering Fair at the Washington DC Convention Center the last Sunday in April. What fun! We got to meet Ms. Frizzle and check out the Magic School Bus on display. You enjoyed racing robots and watching a bubblologist demonstration. We’ll definitely be checking that out in future years!

June 2012 – This was a busy month. We went to see our first Nationals baseball game on Sunday, June 3rd. It was little league day! We had a great time and our friends, the Faists, went too. It was a beautiful day for baseball! T-ball and school both came to a close, and you are looking forward to both starting back up in the fall. Once school was over, camp began. You attended Critter Camp, Going Buggy and a week of baseball camp.

The Saturday before baseball camp started we went on a Boy Scout camp out. Your den, along with lots of other scouts, attended a Frederick Keys baseball game. Dad caught a foul ball!! After the game you got to run the bases, then watch fireworks and then pitch tents on the baseball field. It was awesome to spend the night in the stadium on the field, but boy were we tired! At least we didn’t have any rocks poking us in the back all night.

The last weekend in June we went camping at Big Bear Lake in West Virginia. The forecast called for 89 degrees and a chance of an isolated thunderstorm. That chance of a storm turned into one of the most severe storms the East Coast has seen in decades! Friday night our tent was pummeled with about 3.5 hours of rain, and we ended up sleeping with about 4+ inches of rain inside our tent! I’m not even going to lie – it was probably the most scared I have been in my adult life. You were also very scared. You were roaming the inside of the tent like a little caged lion until we got you settled down. We counted our blessings and sang a lot of songs that night while the thunder and lightening just came one right after the other. Around 11pm the rain finally stopped and you got some sleep on the air mattress with dad.

On Saturday, the clouds and storm were all gone and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend. We swam in the lake and had a great time with our friends – the Faist family – who joined us. You, Jerry, Katie, Charlie and Caroline had a great time playing in the shallow lake for hours! Then we stopped at the country store for ice cream on our way back to camp. It was a scary time, but it sure makes for a great story to tell!

Right now we have two more camping trips planned before we give it up for the season. Let’s hope for cool temps and no rain!

July 2012 – What a busy month July has been. The first weekend was the hottest on record with temps over 100 degrees. You and dad went to Camp Snyder for the weekend with your Boy Scout den. You were so brave when you attempted the swimming test. Now, the swimming test required that you swim the entire length of the pool unassisted which I may have discouraged you from even trying because I know you aren’t yet that strong of a swimmer. You did try … and failed, but learned the powerful lesson about trying and giving it your best. You were discouraged, but we talked a lot about how well prepared you will be to take the test next year. You still enjoyed the pool while wearing a life jacket. You also enjoyed shooting a BB gun and practicing archery. What a great weekend!

This month you also attended Vacation Bible School at St. Matt’s. It was a great Sky Adventure and you enjoyed being in Mrs. Greenlund’s group with lots of old friends. As always, you love the VBS music and listen to the CD at night before you go to bed.

Your birthday fell on a Saturday this year, so we had your birthday that day. We had a fabulous science adventure while learning about the five senses! We decorated the dining room with green and blue crepe paper, and covered the walls with blue vinyl table cloth material. Then we hung signs on the walls so it looked like a real laboratory. Grandma made white lab coats for each of your guests, and we had goggles and science journals for all. We did several activities to learn about our five senses. The best activities were the baking soda/vinegar rockets and the Diet Coke and Mentos gysers. Woo! I had a great time and you did too! Oh, and you should see your birthday cake! It was amazing. Logan’s mom, Maria made the cake for you. It had a huge chocolate rocket on top. It was a wonderfu day and we were happy that Jerry, Logan, Nischel and James could come to the party. You received many lovely gifts including several Lego sets!!

We ended the month with a trip to Bethany Beach. As a special treat, Aunt Betsy and Nana came with us. We rented a great house that sat on a canal and we had an amazing time learning to kayak, dipping our toes in the ocean, visiting the boardwalk, and playing mini-golf. We had perfect weather and the house we rented was perfect for us. We cooked some fabulous dinners  including fresh clams, rockfish, salmon and snapper, and went out a few times. Aunt Betsy brought some Lego birthday gifts for you and she showed us how to catch crabs off the back deck in the canal.

Well, that brings us to the end of our month by month timeline. You have really blossomed into an incredible young man this past year. You are kind, but get your feelings easily hurt. You typically prefer to stay home and engage in imaginiative play, but you always enjoy our camping trips and are really embracing scouting. I’ll be honest here and say that the decision for you to be in scouts is a difficult one for me and one that I’m still not really comfortable with. The higher echelon of scouting seems to have decided that homosexuals are not fit to be scouts or lead scouts. This really bothers me and I dislike the idea of supporting an organization that is bigoted toward a certain segment of the population. I actually read a terrific article about this the other day which said while BSA has every right to be a private organization and make their own rules it doesn’t mean that they should act that way and isolate a segment of the population that I personally believe should have every right to engage in scouting activities. I’m sure we will have many more discussions about this as you get older. I hope that you continue to be a boy that loves everyone, respects those who are different from you and instead of focusing only on the differences you may have with someone searches deeply for the similarities and focuses on those instead.

For some time now, maybe 1.5 years or so, you have exhibited several different tics. You have several little funny habits of rubbing your nose with the backs of your fingers, blowing air through your lips up toward your nose and last winter you were sort of nodding your head back and forth at strange intervals. The pediatrician said these are fairly normal in kids and can be linked to stress. She also said that at this stage they don’t seem severe and we shouldn’t take steps to limit your activities unless they become worse. I’m hoping they clear up soon before they have some impact on you at school or in social settings.

Well geez this letter sure got long. That’s what I get for not writing for an entire year. I’m so in love with you my sweet little seven year old boy.  Don’t forget!

All my love,
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