Back of the Car

August 1, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

There are moments in my time spent with you when I completely stop and pause because I am blown away by the realization that you are growing up. You’re a kid and you act like one and talk like one and have a life completely separate from the one you share with me. My baby! It sounds crazy even writing it because I am fully aware that you’ll be turning 6 in a few weeks. You’ll be off to kindergarten. I get it and yet I still think of you as that little guy who sucked a pacifier morning noon and night and wanted me to hold him all day.

Anyway, today as I drove you and your best buddy home from science camp I had one of the moments I’m referring to. You guys were sitting in the back of the car having a conversation about Star Wars. Going back and forth like, “do you remember the part from the movie when Darth asks Luke to take off his mask?” And then, “oh yeah dude that was cool.” Talking about scenes from the movies that I had no recollection of.  The two of you sharing facts and ideas and discussing your understanding of such an important subject in a boy’s development. This type of dialogue went on for the entire drive. All on the Star Wars topic.  I drove and listened silently. Taking in how grown up you both sounded and thinking about how I had two boys in my car. Not toddlers, not little kids, but boys. About to be 6 and about to head off to kindergarten. How is that possible?

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The Last Day of School

June 13, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

Just recently you graduated from pre-k. It was a really big deal for our family because it meant saying goodbye to a beloved teacher, a fantastic preschool and a familiar routine. It meant you’ll soon be entering kindergarten- something I still can’t say or admit without feeling a huge lump in my throat. It meant you are growing up. But of course you know nothing about all of this stuff that haunts your Mama. All you knew was that you grew and developed in amazing ways during your pre-k year. You learned to write and count and lots of obvious stuff like that. But if you ask me even more importantly you learned to love school. Each day you were honestly beyond excited to get to school. Your reason was always, “because I can’t wait to see my friends.” This year was all about friendships/relationships and interactions with your peers.

On the last day of school your teacher held a party in your class and we got to attend. She put on a video she had made that showed a series of photographs that were taken over the course of your school year. I noticed how happy you looked in all of the pictures. You were always in the group shots taken where some sort of project was being worked on or a fantastic block structure was being created. There you were surrounded by your friends working on a project. As your Mom I was overcome by all of it. Seeing you have a life outside of our little family was just amazing to observe. You’re social and friendly at school and during the class presentation it really showed. When it came time to say goodbye to your classroom you were quick to exit. You hate sad stuff and you hate finales even more. So not surprising you barely acknowledged your teacher. But since the last day you’ve asked me if you can go back and see her when Charlotte goes to preschool. You’ve also asked me if your class is really over. It’s setting in for you now that this day I am writing about was the last one for the year.

 

NYC

May 27, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

We just got back from a family vacation to New York.  As a child some of my favorite books in the entire world took place in New York and a few of the stories I’ve already been able to introduce to you- Eloise and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to name a few. It’s a city that your dad and I adore and a place we have been waiting to share with you and your sister. This spring was ideal and so we hopped on an airplane and traveled across country. From the moment we got off the plane and into a big yellow taxi cab you were taken over with excitement. Our first place to visit was Times Square because really what better place is there to be overwhelmed with all the street chaos, over the top buildings and flashy lights everywhere. The streets sparkled and so did your face. We walked block after block and you took it all in. The streets were filled with traffic and the sidewalks with people. Our first outing in NY was living up to your expectations.

The next day we spent our time walking through Central Park stopping to play at various parks or to watch the street entertainment. You even met two boys who lived on the Upper West Side and who became instant friends while you flew paper airplanes through the park. When it was time to leave them you turned to me and asked, “can we get their email so we can have a playdate the next time we’re in NY?”

We visited FAO the big toy store you had heard so much about. When you entered you raced straight to the candy section and then up the big escalator to the toys. We told you that you could pick out one toy- whatever you wanted and out of the entire store you ended up with a Star Wars comic book. After FAO we explored the entire Upper East Side stopping only to eat. That evening we took a subway down to Union Square and took you guys to a super crowded restaurant for dinner. But you hung in there and sat through dinner and the crowds. Afterward we grabbed a Mr. Softee ice cream (which you had been asking for since you laid eyes on the night before) for the long walk back to our hotel.

The next day was spent eating street pretzels, riding on a carriage ride through Central Park, visiting the zoo, The Natural History Museum, another trip to FAO and several other shops then topped off with a late dinner in the basement of The Plaza Hotel. It was magical.

Our last day in the city it decided to pour down rain, but that didn’t stop us from heading down to SOHO for breakfast at Balthazars where you dined on a $20.00 pastry basket and were introduced to bathroom attendants. We went to the Children’s Museum of the Arts and you got to explore figure drawing, paint, clay and a very cool room where you were able to create a stop animation video.

The entire trip exceeded our expectations and when it was time to leave you were pretty upset. Since we’ve been back you asked several times when we can return. Your favorite spots seemed in be Central Park. It is pretty spectacular!

 

The Way It Is

May 7, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

Your school year is almost coming to an end and that revelation is making me reflect on the past months. There’s so much I could write about. You are a complex kiddo with layers and depth just as you have been since the moment we met. At five and a half you are growing and thinking and becoming your own person. It’s such a joy as your mom to watch. Your schedule allows us to spend a lot of our mornings together before school starts. That time spent can often be intense with your demands and critiques. Shuffling you around to Spanish class, swim lessons, soccer… You can get going with constant requests, questions, more requests. But the minute I drop you off at school I miss you. Like really miss you. It’s a lot slower and quieter with you away. Your sister gets to do her thing which is often a whole lot of daydreaming and make believing in her own world. She prefers to be at home and her personality is less intense and demanding. But I often find myself missing the discussions I have with you or the energy you bring. At five and a half you are really growing up. Here’s what life is like:

You are still 100% into Star Wars. You’ve now seen the first two movies and declared that the second was better than the first. We were really surprised that you once again were not scared watching the second film and didn’t have any nightmares and fears. In fact it seemed a lot more enjoyable watching with you than any Disney movie is- those freak you out!

Still crazy into Legos and can put together Lego kits that are well beyond your age level. You don’t require any help and in fact really enjoy building on your own. It’s one of the rare events that will hold your interest for hours.

You’ve also really gotten into drawing and now come up with art that resembles something. Your drawing style looks so much like your dad and the two of you have a passion for the same subject matter- vehicles, battle scenes, droids. But you also draw rainbows and flowers for me or your sister.

You’ve taken interest in writing simple words and enjoy creating cards or notes for me and for your friends.

You still love soccer. It seems to be your sport because it’s so fast paced. You are a crazy fast runner and pretty good at defense. Your coach thinks you have real potential.

You are all about your friends. No real surprise since you’ve been so social since forever, but lately you would rather hang with your friends than play with me. And I understand, friends are so much more fun! You went through a “boys only” friend list for the first part of the year, but are now back into playing with a few girls here and there. For awhile all you would do was want to play “chase the girls” with your buddies, but I’ve noticed lately girls are becoming something of an interest. One little girl in particular you have developed a slight crush on and have declared that the two of you will be getting married. Her name comes up a lot in our house right now.

With friends you love to bike ride, scooter, play chase or tag or hide and seek. You love going to the park and running around with sticks and climbing trees. Playdates have now graduated to drop offs at friends houses and so far from what I can tell when you hang out with you buddies you all love to play with nerf guns shooting foam bullets at targets. I’m totally amazed at how long boys can play target practice.  Besides that some sort of physical outdoor activity is involved.

Every morning you and your sister spend a good amount of time playing together. It’s very special because it’s really the only time the two of you get. Your dad and I hang back and let the two of you play uninterrupted even if breakfast is ready. I just adore listening to the both of you interact together. You still always lead the game, but now Charlotte is very good at participating and coming up with her own ideas. I have to say the both of you have little to no issues working together in the morning. The give and take of play and toys works flawlessly. The evenings when you guys are tired now that’s another story.

Today while I walked you in to class I tried to hug and kiss you to which you replied, “Mom not at school.” This sort of sums up how you’re feeling about Mom. You have real moments of love and affection for me- mainly at home, but when we are out and certainly at school I’m not allowed to be all mom-like. It’s just not cool.

I try to take you on lunch dates every Wednesday before school and while Charlotte is at Nana’s house. This time spent with you is so important to me. It’s just you and me and some food place of your choice. You don’t necessarily talk a lot, but you’ll cuddle up to me or have me read to you. If we do talk it’s just nice to hear what’s on your mind- usually Star Wars related or how much you want to go to DisneyLand or when can you watch a certain movie or when can you play video games because so and so at school gets to.

You’re growing up and it’s apparent. For me I know our time together is now borrowed. You’ll be in full day kindergarten next fall and we will be separated for a longer amount of time than ever. Trust me Roman, this inevitable fact doesn’t leave my train of thought for even a moment. So I’m soaking up our time together. I’m enjoying our swinging sessions in the back yard or our afternoon bike rides together. Trips to the library,  to get frozen yogurt. Walks to the park. Everything is just a little more precious lately.

I love you kid.

 

 

Star Wars

March 20, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

It started back in the summer of 2011 right before you turned 4. You caught a glimpse of Luke, Han Solo and Darth at the Lego store and that was it. You were hooked, intrigued, obsessed with all things Star Wars. You collected and had us read every book, encyclopedia to you on the topic. A few months later I think you could have taught a class on the subject. And for the last two years your interest has stuck. We’ve watched as you’ve built countless Star Wars Lego kits, collected figurines, stared for hours at the pages of your Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. Then this fall all of your friends started coming to school talking about the Star Wars movies and we had a feeling that it wouldn’t be long before you too wanted to see with your own eyes this right of passage into boyhood. The wait ended for you last Friday when a spontaneous decision was made… Friday Family Movie Night would feature the first Star Wars movie. You were jumping for joy and gave your dad and I the biggest hugs ever while shouting, “thank you!” It was better than Christmas. Dad took you to get popcorn and candy at the store because what movie night is complete without those two food groups. Snuggled on the couch sitting between your Dad and myself you saw the opening scene and said out loud, “it’s like a dream come true.” That pretty much sums up your first experience. It was everything you wanted it to be and more. You sat motionless throughout asking a zillion and one questions and trying to stay one step ahead of each part of the film. Your favorite parts of course were the battle scenes and your favorite character was Obi-Wan. You made it through without being scared or feeling anxious which for you is sometimes hard to do. This event was a really big deal in your childhood and I’m just glad it didn’t disappoint.

 

Parent Teacher Conference

January 31, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

It’s half way through your pre kindergarten year and I cannot believe that in a few months you will be moving on to big kid school. We’ve been trying to make decisions lately about where you’ll be going to school- public or private, a hard to get into charter school… it’s making the inevitable all too real. You are growing up!  Amidst the school tours and parent information nights we attended your preschool’s parent teacher conference.

At 5 years old (according to your teacher) you:

“can follow multiple step directions without assistance.”

“can be impulsive during unstructured free play.”

“love to share  knowledge and ideas.  a sponge of information.”

“sometimes rushes through just to get it done.”

“very social and imaginative.”

“gets distracted by what others are doing and playing.”

“comes up with different games to play and things to build. Is a natural born leader in the making.”

Then she went on to tell me all the letters you identified and could write, how high you could count to and add, how you were ready to start reading…

and I sat there taking it all in. Sort of in awe at all you’ve accomplished. I felt proud to be your mom. As a toddler I’d watch you in music class, gym class or at a playdate and I would see a happy, social, friendly kid. Eager to be included, excited to learn. Often distracted and oh so busy. Always in motion. Today your teacher described the Roman we’ve known and loved.  It’s a great thing when someone else can see you and appreciate you the way we do. She’s been a fantastic teacher and I can only hope that you continue to be surrounded by special influences as you grow.

 

 

Swimmer

January 10, 2013 by

Dear Roman,

For a few years now you’ve been taking swim lessons with Miss Connie. She’s become such a positive influence in your life. almost like a beloved member of the family. You and your sister tell her about special moments, share with her your interests. Over breaks and vacations you both repeatedly ask, “when do we get to see Miss Connie again?” Each week she spends 30 minutes working with you to try and overcome your anxieties and fears. She coaches you through stressful situations. You’ve learned so much more than simply how to swim which was the goal when you started. Watching your progress has been an amazing experience for me. At times incredibly painful. You would resist and regress then slowly surge progress. Baby steps. Honestly there were moments when I lose hope and get discouraged. You’d fight Miss Connie and try to negotiate your way out of any situation you didn’t feel comfortable with. And I simply couldn’t imagine you overcoming your own sabotages.  But She never once backed down. So I kept my mouth shut and let her do the teaching and pushing. I fully trusted her methods and thought, if anyone can turn you into a swimmer it will be her. 

We hadn’t been to swim lessons in a few weeks as it had been winter break. Until today when we returned. Your sister has lessons first and you play with your buddy while you wait. Then it was your turn. As I was dressing Charlotte I noticed as Miss Connie would call out strokes to perform you were eager and willing to oblige. Swimming across the length of the pool with an almost ease. You had found your confidence. You had gotten passed the huge barrier you had put up. And it only took you three years to get there. Ha ha. I stopped dressing Charlotte and took in what I was seeing. It was the moment I never thought would come. I saw… a swimmer! Miss Connie noticed the change as well and made sure to acknowledge your efforts. Then she pulled you aside and said, “Roman, you have now officially moved up a level from non swimmer to swimmer.” Your face beamed. You rarely show your feelings in this sort of way so we both could tell that meant a lot. I reflected on the time spent in her pool. How far you have come. How much she means to you and I started to tear up. I realized that as your mom the best thing I can do is sit back and let you grow and develop as you are ready. Because you will eventually get there and how special is it when you do!!

Play

November 18, 2012 by

Dear Roman,

Something very new and different for you has started to occur. You are playing on your own, or with your sister for hours at a time. At first I could not believe it. Because after all you are the kid that involved parents or a grown up in all aspects of your play. “I thought you wanted to play with me” was what we would hear all day long. Finally I started consciously working on having you figure out how to play on your own. It was a slow process starting with 5 or 10 minutes of individual play on your end and then I’d match you with group play time. Over the months we started increasing the amount of time you needed to be on your own. Summer you did quiet time in your room for an hour. At first you were so resistant, but eventually I’d come in and check on you to see you concentrating on large puzzles, building Lego creations, playing with Playmobil guys and looking through books.

Then school started and you were spending more time away from home. Plus your sister has become a very good playmate. And you turned five.  So whatever the reason is or perhaps all of the above, you have started going off downstairs (or up to your room) to play for long stretches of time. You aren’t coming to me with suggestions of what to play. You aren’t moping around the house looking bored. You aren’t asking to go somewhere every two seconds. It’s the most welcome change ever! Probably as cool as when you started sleeping through the night.

So what’s the funniest thing of all? The other day I came downstairs to play with you and Charlotte. Figuring that would be the greatest thing you’d hear- mom coming to play! But you looked at me and said, “um Mom, can you please go back upstairs. We’re playing and can’t be bothered.” You totally kicked me out! Of course I respected your need for privacy and really it’s all I could wish for. That you and Charlotte can’t be content on your own. Playing together without issues. Working out conflict on your own and being brother and sister. So I listened at the top of the stairs for a few minutes and then went off to work in the office.

Portland

October 27, 2012 by

Dear Roman,

Last weekend we took a last minute trip down to Portland to visit your friend Nicholas and his family. It was a very short trip- just one night, but still enough to have you reconnect with your close buddy. It’s so great what good friends you are and how time can pass, but the minute you two see each other it’s like you’ve seen one another all week. Our first mission was to meet Nicholas at his art lesson. You could not stand the anticipation, excited energy was bursting out of you. You waited anxiously to give him a small gift you’d picked out and the minute you saw Nicholas in class you yelled, “hi Nicholas I have a present for you!” From that moment on you guys got along great for the remainder of the trip. We went to a very cool rock climbing wall gym where the two of you got to climb.. and climb… and climb some more. You played at his house that evening and the next morning before we left the two of you went with your dad’s on a bike ride through the city. It was the perfect weekend for all of us. Izzie and her family even drove down to join and made everything that much more exciting. It’s hard to have friends far away, but also makes it so much fun to go and visit!

Fall

October 27, 2012 by

Dear Roman,

We’ve really been enjoying the fall season. Cooler weather, leaves falling, the rain has crept back in. Feels like fall around Kirkland. Over the last few weeks we’ve done a lot to get in the mood. Here’s the short list:

We Visited a few pumpkin patches and managed to do so on absolutely gorgeous days. The weather makes all the difference in the Northwest!

As part of a class we attend on Monday mornings called Tiny Treks we got to see salmon swimming up stream. You were so completely into the whole event. From the hike through the woods that lead us to a stream, then spotting salmon swimming. This was your kind of field trip and bonus is that You’ve learned a lot about the life cycle of a salmon.

We’ve eaten countless caramel apples. Totally addicting.

School had “dad’s night” last Thursday and the activity was to carve a pumpkin. So you carefully sketched out a few jack o’lantern face options all of which were very creative/original/cool and Dad carved based off your design. You guys made an excellent team and he reported back to me that the evening was a lot of fun!

At your school there was also the annual “trunk or treat” where families decorate the trunks of their cars and park them in the school parking lot. Then the kiddos get to dress up and go trick or treating from one trunk to the next. This is one of your favorite events of the year! We rushed home from soccer practice so you and Charlotte could get into costume. Your choice this year was Flash and Charlotte’s was a ballerina. On a very went and cold Friday night we braved the conditions so you could have the time of your life- seeing all of your school friends in costume and getting a ton of candy in a short amount of time. Lots of fun!

You’ve come home from school almost daily with an art project that involved either a pumpkin, a leaf, an apple or a spider.

One of your favorite things to do in the afternoon is ride your bike across the street and go stomping in the leaves on the ground.

We shared a pumpkin spice cupcake from the cupcake shop and a pumpkin doughnut from Top Pot and you like to order hot cider from various coffee shops. All in addition to the massive amounts of caramel apples we’ve been eating… as already mentioned.