Wednesday, November 23, 2022

FDR is EIGHT Years Old

 Dear Franklin,

You are EIGHT years old. 

This makes for your eighth trip around the sun. The big EIGHT means you are just two years away from turning double digits. The next two years will fly by. 

A brush stroke upon an art canvas strikes quickly, precisely, and concisely, allowing for a brief drying time before another stroke is made; this is how life is, because life strikes just like that--sometimes expectedly, and sometimes unexpectedly. In the past year, your canvas of 7th year is masterfully painted with so many textures, and colors with assorted brush strokes etched across, overlapping, crisscrossing, and divergenting into parallels. Up close, it appears to be a senseless mess, created out of madness and exhilaration, and it is anything but. Upon inspecting the canvas from afar, it is becoming evident that the chaos has created something beautiful. This is how your mind function. 

You are absolutely hilarious. Your humor consists of physical, and bodily references. Farting, pooping, anything smelly, falling down, slipping on a piece of something, food being smushed in own's face, animals being goofy on Youtube, and anything of slapstick nature. More often than not, what you find to be funny become infectious, and we can't help, but laugh along with you. You love reading Dogman, Bird and Squirrel, and SpongeBob graphic novels. SpongeBob is your THING. You love SpongeBob. You find that yellow sponge to be downright hilarious, much to Mama's puzzlement. You remind Mama to just find small things in life to laugh about, and not to be always so serious. Sometimes, this does mean your head is lost in the clouds! Mama and Daddy could call for you multiple times only to have you to be SO LOST in your own world. It can become a bit nerve-grating at times, especially when you are needed, yet at the same time, it is just in your nature to go on adventures into your own world, and need a gentle prodding to bring you back to ours. 

You finished out the year with Mrs. Henning saying farewell to the first graders at Hillcrest to go on her own sailing adventure, and entered second grade with Mrs. Zoll. You were reported to be organized, tidy, and focused on your work. You made sure that you completed your tasks, and carefully reviewed your assignments. Your interests remained aligned with both math and art. You read at 3.5 grade level, and your mathmathemic abilities hit near to 4th grade level. You loved word problems, adding, subtracting, and now multiplying! Much to Mama's dismay, you often made her take your math quizzes, and graded her accordingly. You made it clear to her that she was unable to use calculator with your quizzes, and it definitely made things funnier. You enjoyed playing Go Fish, Memory card game, Crazy Eight, and Chess with Mama or anyone who was willing to play against you. 

Your biggest passion continued to be art. You loved drawing, painting, crafting, and creating.  You were often found sketching whatever emerged in your mind onto the paper. Your artwork often littered the kitchen table until they were hung up on the walls to be shown off. Mama called that FRANK's GALLERY. You often enjoyed making gummy bears, and designing food. When you had an opportunity to show off your artistic abilities, you often took it, and the outcome were always amazing. The art nook was often haphazardly left behind as you became lost into your world. You often loved it when someone joined you to create art with you. Your most recent project was creating a Minecraft board for Star of the Week, and it turned out incredible! 

You can be quite stubborn. Oh yes. Stubborn as a mule! Sometimes, it can be difficult to work with you when your stubbornness overtakes everything. Stubbornness is what will drive you. It will enable you to be persistent. It will give you the grit when things gets hard. At the same time, do remember that it is okay to let down your walls, and to hear what others have to share with you. We can't always do things by ourselves, and there are things we have to do even if we don't want to. 

You can get frustrated easily, especially when you are tired, and it does show. This is where Dad and Mama often try to guide you through your frustration to be able to express yourself safely. You don't like being left out, or be told you can't participate. You get your feelings hurt easily, because you give so much of yourself to people, and not all people are big-hearted like you. It is a painful lesson that you have to learn, and to guard yourself a bit more--not too much that you are closed off, but just enough to not be so wounded at times (easier said than done, after all, I do understand for that I also have a soft heart myself). 

You do not like gore, blood, and violence. Your soul is beautifully sensitive, which is something Mama and Daddy always want to preserve from you, and you prefer to see the good over the ugly. Horror, and psychological thrillers are not your cup of tea. You do not like WWE smackdown. Anything that involves fighting, or hurting people or animals turns you off. When you see your siblings get hurt, you rush to give them condolences, and long as there is no blood! You just want to see the funny, comedy, love, and goodness in everything around you. It is a wonderful thing to possess, because without the light, dark can be too overwhelming, and love is what always prevail. You are what is good in the world. People like you are what keeps many of us going even in the face of darkness. 

You love comfort. You like soft blankets, warm towels, athletic pants, gym shoes, and nothing too tight against your body. You like cuddling when you are tired. You love running into a warm house after playing in snow for hours, and drinking a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream (A LOT OF IT)! You still love Baby Yoda, even though your interest is starting to wane in it, and you enjoy Minecraft. You love to play on switch, and games on Ipad. Even with this, you prefer strongly to play outside until you are asked to come inside. 

When it comes to food, fresh is what you appreciate, and love. You love fruits of all kinds; strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, bananas, apples, and oranges. You reach to any of those first before you consider eating junk food. You don't have much of a sweet tooth! However, you love hot chocolate drink, and always ask for that the minute air becomes cold! You love pineapple on pizza, steaks, and snacking on pepperoni slices. You also enjoy popcorn. 

You are signing a lot more these days! Your confidence is rising, and you are more encouraged to take an initiative to sign. You also fingerspell quite a lot, which lines up with the fact that you are learning more vocabulary from reading, and writing. The more you read and write, the more you feel comfortable fingerspelling words that may be challenging for you. Daddy often smiles, and gives that knowing glance at Mama when you approach her to tell her about something exciting that happened during your day. 

You enjoy playing baseball, and flag football. During your games, you often exhibit a great sportsmanship by helping others, and often prefer to give up your position so others can get to play. You don't get angry when your team loses, and remain humble when your team wins. It is just about having fun for you. You love it when Daddy and Mama come to cheer you on during your games. It's a bit of a different story when it comes to your board games! You can be quite competitive, and want to win. You're funny like that. When it comes to just yourself and playing individualistic activities, you can be quite competitive, but when it comes to teamwork, you're all about cooperation. How cool! 

You are very family oriented. When asked about what you are thankful for, you often say family. When asked what is one of your favorite things in your life, you often say family. You are always kissing and hugging Fiona. You love playing around with Fox. You enjoy gaming with Forrest when Forrest opens up his world to you. It can be a bit hard to see Forrest leaving your realm of interests into his own, and having him distance himself a bit. So you cherish your time with him when he does spend time with you. You do truly get the best of both worlds; enjoying activities geared for kids your age or younger with Fox, and sampling what older kids enjoy with Forrest. You love to leave notes for Mama. You enjoy hanging out with Dad while fishing, or playing mario go kart with him! 

You are well liked. You get along with your classmates, and are often invited to birthday parties! You enjoy playing with neighbor kids, and they often find you to be easy to get along with. You are rarely in middle of conflicts, and when you do, you often find a way to abate them. You do not like when people fight, or argue. You often prefer when there is harmony, and kindness, because then that means you get to have more fun. You love walking or biking to the park with Forrest, or with your friends. 

Mama and Dad are so excited to see you continue to grow into an amazing human being that you are. May year 8 bring an abundance of blessing, happiness, humor, and love to you, sweet Franklin.


Mama, Dad, Forrest, Fox, and Fiona

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Fiona is THREE Year Old

 Dear Fiona, 

You are THREE year old. 

Oh Fiona, you are such a fire sprite! You are sassy, strong-willed, daring, stubborn, fierce, loving, empathetic, kind, hilarious, amazing, and powerful. Whatever you put your mind to, you don't stop until you end up with it. After all, you kind of have to be when it comes to having three older siblings that may run around you, but you make sure that does not happen. Matter of fact, you run the roost among your siblings!

You are about 3 feet tall, and weighs under 30 pounds. You may be small, but you pack a punch! You wear size 3T, but you are transitioning into size 4T. Mama suspects that halfway into winter, you should be able to switch completely over to 4T clothes, and she has started dressing you in that size now just to make things easier down the road. 

One late morning, you disappeared and Mama went searching for you only to discover you perching on the toilet! You had been showing some interest in the potty, and learning how to communicate in sign language as well as speaking words to associate with the potty training, but Mama kept putting off the process due to other factors in life. She thought she would start encouraging you after your siblings start school, but you had your own plans! You were not going to do that! You took the bull by its horns, and decided to jump start the training on your term. That was just so you. Nonetheless, Mama decided to buy two packs of underwear, and put you in those. You had some handful accidents as to be expected, and even with that, you did well!

About a month later, you are still training, because like your older brothers, you can be tricky when it comes to pooping, and you prefer to hide and poop even in your underwear! Mama has decided to give you a bit of break, and to help you feel that you have some control over this journey. She has a plan for when you go back at the training process, and hopefully that will help with pushing along for pooping part. 

You are staying another year at home with Mama. Mama is quite happy about that, because she is not ready to let you go. It is hard for her to accept that she will be enrolling you in 3K next fall for the school year of 2023-2024. She is not ready to let go of the walks with you and the dogs, doing fun activities, and just having someone at home with her. Mama has a lot things planned with you, and among of them is a possible class of a tumbling course in winter. She thinks you'd absolutely love it given how you're always jumping on the mini trampoline at home! 

You spent a year working with Kim from Early Intervention for speech. You made sure that she knew that it was on your term, and she was wonderful in working with you. She was able to make you think that you were in control of your decisions while she was actually the one doing that all along. She was able to push you along with speaking. You leaped in your progress from not speaking at all to verbalizing to speaking words. You still had ways to go, yet you did all the hard work yourself! The day came too fast for you to be released from early intervention program. It was a bittersweet day, not necessarily just about you, but because Kim had been with our family for years, and you were our last to go through this program. There was a lot of feels with ending EI program forever, and having you transition into school system for speech therapy.

Your favorite phrase is: WHAT IS THAT? WHAT IS THAT?

Mama or Daddy often patiently answer your question, because they want you to feel comfortable in asking, and to always ask when you are curious. Curiosity is a wonderful thing, and should never be muted. 

You ended up going into the care of Ms. Jessica at Hillcrest for speech therapy, starting on your birthday! While you were not attending Hillcrest for school, you had to be enrolled into the school system in order to obtain service through them, and it was a strange feeling to register you! There was something about you being the last, and having to go through the process brought up some random feelings, that's for sure. Fortunately, it was just to obtain speech service, not to start school, because then that would be a whole nother ball game for Mama to deal with! 

You are a foodie! You love food. Your favorite food is black olives, tacos, and guacamole. You are game for trying anything, although Mama is curious to see how long this will last, and if you will be picky as you get older. She sure hope you wouldn't. 

You love your pets, especially the cats. Missy seem to be most drawn to you out of all the kids. She loves to cuddle with you while you are napping. She tolerates you when you pick her up...sometimes by her tail! You aren't a fan of chickens though, and don't like when they approach you with their wings flapping! Dogs are alright. You do love kissing and cuddling with our dogs. Mama continues to work with you to remind you to be careful with other dogs though, because not all dogs are willing to be kissed and hugged. You do love animals in general. 

You love Mama. You are always wanting to be near to her. It is not very often that you choose to be away from her. Daddy often complains that he is a chopped liver when she shows up, because when she isn't around, then you'd hang out with Daddy, but we all know the truth, you also do love Daddy. You sure have his finger wrapped around you! You are starting to warm up to strangers, and you will go and hug random people! Mama hopes that you two will always be friends. 

You are weaning off naps. You love running, jumping, and kicking. You alternate between sitting calmly and doing crafts or watching a movie with a bowl of popcorn or being wild and screaming on the top of your lungs while running around the house in the laps! There is just no knowing how you will act! For bedtime routine, you had no problem being put in you pajamas, and being read to. You love signing with Mama as she reads you a story, and to be honest, Mama loves it too. It's a great way to learn how to sign, and to learn how to participate in reading! What a win! You love to snuggle with a stuffed animal of your choice, which can change on a whim, and your glow worm. You don't quite like the dark, and require a music night light to be turned on. Then you settle for the night...for about two hours. Once that is up, you open your gate, and run to find Mama! You spend maybe an hour watching TV with Mama, then head back to bed. It always has been your routine! 

Remember how it is mentioned that you run the roost? Oh, boy, oh boy! You sure do! Your brothers dote on you, and do what you want them to do for you. Forrest is gentle with you, always looking over you, and protecting you. When you are being sassy, and you are scolded for that, Forrest always jump on his feet, and defend you, "But she is only a baby! Leave her be!" 

Franklin views you very much as a playmate. He takes a great delight in chasing you, scaring you which you respond with a loud shriek of happiness, and roughhouse with you, much to Mama's dismay, but you run back to him every single time. You don't ever get mad with him, and you just love the attention you get from him. Franklin rarely loses patience with you, and often go looking for you when you run away from Mama's sight, then return you with your hand in his. 

Fox....Fox. Now, Fox is closest in age to you. You two participate in so much imagination, and play. You two are almost like peas in the pod! Fox is rarely without you around the house. When he's outside, or somewhere apart from you, you get quite upset, and you want to be by him. As much as you two love each other, sometimes you two can become quite violate! Just like a cat and a dog! Bites, kicking, and screaming at each other--usually because one of you want something that other have, or won't share. Mama and Daddy often have to step in to resolve those battles, and gently explain that this belongs to whom, and sometimes sharing is needed, and sometimes sharing isn't. It is all about learning lessons, patience, and kindness. 

You love dressing up. If you have a chance to, then you grab a dress from your dress up bin, and put it on. Two of your play dresses are quiet worn from always being dressed, and washed. Mama is hoping to finish making you a dress up shelf, and it would make things easier for you to see, and choose from! Mama loves putting your hair in buns, or pig tails. It usually last half of the day, before you decide to take it off! Nonetheless, you ask Mama every morning to be brushed, and you pick out a bow, then have it placed in your hair. You LOVE LOVE LOVE, I mean I emphasize, SHOES. You are always wearing shoes, and if you can, then you'd be wearing it to bed! You are probably the most fashionable one in the family!

You love art, and craft. You are often cutting up and gluing construction papers with Fox. You love helping Mama making things, and paint when you have a chance to. You enjoy movies when you are in a quiet mood, and you love Disney movies, and have no real preference which genre of Disney movies as long as it is "good"! 

Our sweet girl, You are going to run the world. Mama just knows it. 


Mama, Daddy, and the Boys 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Forrest is TEN Year Old

 Dear Forrest, 

You are TEN year old. 

Gone are the days of simplistic thoughts and behaviors, a quick peck of a kiss on a stinging knee erasing the tears, enveloping your tiny hands with mine, walking through a children's clothing department to pick out t-shirts covered by Pokemon or Marvel superhero characters, being able to give answers easily because the problems are much simpler, and easily picking you up into my arms. 

With those days gone, something else have taken the place though; sitting with you at the table while carrying on a conversation that opens up the world into your mind, laughing along with you when you made witty jokes that only older kids are capable of understanding, seeing a future glimpse of what you would be like as an adult, exclaiming I KNEW IT while watching a predictable plot coming true in any horror movies, and trusting you more and more to let you to do things independently. 

You have lived a decade on Earth. It is kind of mind boggling! You often proudly announce that you are now TEN; that means you're in the double digits, and never to return to a single digit age-wise again. It is so exciting to see you evolving from a child to a young boy on a verge of becoming a teenager! 

In the betweenness. On the verge of Tween years. You are in this enthralling place in your life; you are beginning to depart from everything "child-like",  and entering into a young man's realm of interests. This brings an additional pressure on Mama's and Daddy's shoulders to make sure that you are continually being guided into to the right direction. The next ten years are going to invite a lot of mature themes to navigate through, and this will enable you to make the choices that are hopefully for the best. 

You are such an amazing kid. It has been such a joy to watch your personality emerge fully, and cement into a person that you are. You LOVE anything horror. It really brings a joy to Mama's heart, because she is such a horror fan. Right after Mama's surgery, you dove right into watching The Stranger Things with Mama during her recovery. It is so much fun to talk about characters, and the plot with you. You love anything SCARY. There is not very much that scares you. You are so full of imagination, full of stories, and full of adventures. Mama absolutely can't wait to introduce you to her favorites down the road; Freddy Krueger, Ripley from ALIEN, Michael Meyers from Halloween, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from X-Files, and so many more! 

You prefer having your hair long instead of short. You just decided one day that you prefer to style your hair as such, and ever since, it has been your signature to leave long on the top. You like athletic gear, and do not care for short ankle socks. You are on the verge of outgrowing the boys' department for jeans, and it is such a bizarre feeling to know that it is not that far off before Mama will have to start to shop in Men clothing department. You've made it clear that you do not like cartoon-ish tops, and prefer to stick with solid colors, sports, or pop culture references. It is neat to see your style to evolve, and to see what you like. 

You had a great year in 3rd grade with Mrs. Reed! You always had wonderful things to say about Mrs. Reed, and being in her class. You continued to do well in school, even though you had expressed on some days how you did not find school to be stellar, because of peer drama. All you wanted to do was to game, hang out with your friends, listen to music, watch WWE wrestling, and do your own thing. If it was up to you, then you would have spent your entire days in your room! Yet when it was time for you to go to school, you just picked up your backpack, and head out of the door without any complaints. You were thrilled to have Mrs. Reed for one of your classes for the summer school, which she taught a swim class, and having your favorite teacher with your favorite activity just made your summer. 

You are beginning to be a bit more angst these days. Mama and Daddy can tell that you are on the verge of big changes yet to come...PUBERTY. You have been a bit more mouthy, sassy, and rebellious, which all are very normal for your age, and even with that, it can be challenging at times for both of you, and us! Mama and Daddy often have to pick battles of whether it is worth sitting down and talking about, or give you a quick reminder and let it go. They want to make sure that they are able to provide you with tools to cope with your ever-changing emotions, which can rapidly change from a minute to next, and to be able to express yourself appropriately for your age. With you being the oldest, this means this is also the first for Mama and Daddy to navigate alongside with you! 

You are becoming bigger, and taller. According to the family ruler, you've shot up 3 inches! Matter of fact, one of your favorite things to say these days is to tell Mama that you're about to catch up to her height, and be able to lift her! It makes Mama both laugh and a bit sad; there's some humor in it because you're such a ham, and sadness because once upon a time, Mama carried you in her arms...and now you're saying you will carry her instead! Talk about a big shift right there! 

You are such a loving, sweet young man. You are always willing to help Mama out, especially during her recovery. You take on chores, and do them. You often wake up early in the mornings to let the chickens out of their hen house, collect the eggs, and let the dogs out. It is not often that you need a reminder to do this. You just want to. You pick up the mess that your siblings created, and put them away. Mama and Daddy tries to not put too much on your shoulders, and let you be a kid, because sometimes the oldest can put on their shoulders too much at times! 

You are so funny. You have such a sharp-witted humor. More often than not, she finds herself laughing out loud from something smart you have said! Sometimes, she has to bite her tongue, and be like...hey....while internally laughing. You're starting to cook your own meals such as frying eggs, making sandwich, or Kraft Mac N Cheese. You are always changing your favorites when it comes to food. One day, it is pizza. Other day, it is ham sandwich. Go figures! But you've it clear that you don't care for vegetables or fruits. You would eat them, but if you have a choice, then you'd forego them.  

You are such a wonderful big brother. You show so much love to Fiona, and to your brothers. Yes, even when you argue and bicker with them! Yes, even when they drive you crazy at times. You often have to be reminded that Franklin and Fox looks up SO MUCH to you. You are like the COOLEST person on the planet to them. Not your mom. Not your dad. YOU. Yes, you. They love you immensely. 

When you moved out of your room with Franklin into your own room, you knew Franklin was sad to have you to go, and struggled with the whole change. Instead of telling Franklin to mind his own business, and to be sad by himself; you invited him into your room, and read a book with him every night. You continued to include Franklin with your activities. You showed him respect, and love. Sometimes, you wanted your own space, and be alone. Franklin had to learn to respect that as well. In no time, Franklin adapted to having Fox as his new roommate, and knowing that you are just a room away. 

As for Fox, it can be a challenge for you to connect with him, because he is only 5, and you're five years older than he is. Sometimes, Fox can be ornery, and mischievous, which tests your patience. Nonetheless, Mama and Daddy often find you quietly whispering to Fox, and he calms down. You take his hand into yours when you walk across the parking lot. You turn on the hallway light on for Fox when he walks down the hall to use the bathroom, because you know he doesn't like to walk alone in the dark. You're always willing to play wild games with the younger siblings. 

You love playing baseball, and football. Matter of fact, you've just started a new season of football! Daddy and Mama are looking forward to seeing you play! You often like to stay in your room, and game with your friends. Mama sometimes have to kick you out so you can go outside, and get a fresh air! You enjoy playing with your neighbor friends almost everyday, and it makes Mama happy to see how well you get along with people. You love tending after the chickens, and you worry about them. We had a loss among our chicken flock earlier this summer, and your heart broke, which is pretty sad to witness, and in this, we learned a valuable lesson about life and death. Nonetheless, the chickens seem to have so much trust in you! Even the shiest chicken allows you to pick her up! You are definitely a chicken whisperer. 

Summer is your favorite season, and you always make sure everybody knows that! You love swimming, and being on the beach. You love camping, fishing, and going on adventures! 

We look forward to year 10 with you! 


Mama, Daddy, & the kids 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Fox is FIVE Years Old

 Dear Mr. Fantastic Fox, 

You are FIVE years old. 

When you are watching Looney Tunes cartoon, you see a flummox of brown and black blur of a Tasmanian Devil whirling across the plains of desert, roaring, and sucking everything into its eye as everything scrambles around to get out of its way, then you can't help but be thrilled by its presence, and maybe a bit afraid of the chaos it brings. That description is exactly you. The boundless energy you carry within you can be vastness, endless, and untamed. The twin energy is constantly churning within you; the unpredictability of your energy inspiring others around you, and the calmness you bring while you are cuddling with people you love. You can be intense; you feel things intensely, you think intensely, you speak intensely, you behave intensely, and you love intensely. There's no muteness with you. You are our wild in our calm. 

The school year was tumultuous, arduous, challenging, and exciting all at once for you. Mama and Daddy decided to not put you through repeated 3K with St. James, and enrolled you into Hillcrest. It was easier with you needing speech service, and occupational therapy. With this, you completed your first year of 4K with Mrs. Sheldon, and ending with Mr. Alft once Mrs. Sheldon went on a maternity leave. 

Erin, your speech therapist, noticed you were not quite hitting the required benchmarks for your age. This led us through murky waters of figuring out what was going on with you, and you were diagnosed with SDD, Significant Developmental Delay. This led you to be placed into an occupational therapy class with some wonderful folks. There, you slowly learned how to write, read, and recognize letters as well as shapes. At the beginning, you used to play alone or parallel to other kids. That changed by the end of the year; you interacted, and played with the others at the school! Every little accomplishment you made was celebrated! You taught us to stay in the moment, to appreciate the small moments, and to celebrate every milestone that is made. 

You went from being a quiet, nonverbal little boy to a regular old chatterbox with the sounds coming out. Our family was constantly telling Mama how excited they were to be able to understand, and hear you talking! The words came out of your mouth was no longer unrecognizable. You still struggled with certain letter articulation, and stringing sentences at the end of 4K. Nonetheless, that did not negate the fact of HOW FAR you came from the beginning! You were able to articulate words clearly, and your signing drastically exploded. You go, Mr. Fantastic Fox! 

You are now completely toilet trained for both day and night. It is a great feeling to be down to just one kid in diapers. Sometimes, wiping can be a challenge for you, but you are only a newly 5 year old! That will come to you in time no problem. 

You were supposed to meet with a neuropsychologist earlier in the year for an evaluation to rule out anything that was potentially going on with your SDD diagnosis. Unfortunately, the neuropsychologist up and quit the practice, and off we went back on a waiting list...again. The waiting list was so long that Mama called in late spring to gauge what was happening! She was informed that the waiting list was so backlogged, and you were indeed still on the list. Mama tried so hard to be understanding, and patient. The status of meeting with a neuropsychologist remained up in the air even to this day. 

In November of 2021, you began weaning off Keppra, and everybody were SO hopeful that this brought you a good news in term of your epilepsy. By December, you were completely off Keppra. Instantaneously, Mama saw a sharp change in your behavior. It became clear to Mama that Keppra was not the right fit for you all along. You became more verbal, less tired, and happier. It was as if you were finally back. Mama put her foot down, and said no more Keppra if you needed to go back on a seizure medication. 

You had an EEG test to determine how you fared off medication. The news revealed that you were still experiencing abnormal brain waves. This meant you needed to go back on medication, because your epilepsy was not quite going away as Dr. Edgar had hoped for. Mama and Daddy had you go on a different medication to manage your seizures. This time around, it was MUCH better, and it appeared to affect you less. That was a great news among the difficult news. To this day, the medicine continued to work really well! Mama and Daddy remained SO grateful how we lived in the time that allowed for your epilepsy to be safely managed with medication. They were informed that you had to remain on this medication for one more year, then go through weaning process once again for EEG test to check the abnormality of your brain waves. In the meanwhile, this was nothing that you can't handle. After all, your brain waves were powerful just like you! 

Your love of dinosaurs remained strong. Your favorite TV shows consisted of dinosaurs. You often had a strew of dinosaur toys all over the floor. Your favorite dinosaur was a Triceratops. Your love of dinosaurs was so strong that it influenced Fiona's interest as well! 

You were always game to try anything out! Nothing intimidated you. You charged it head on. It was very much like how you entered this world; head on, nothing was stopping you, and you knew you had to get what you wanted. This sometimes led to conflicts, because you were so stubborn, and persistent. Mama understood, and appreciated this trait of yours. She wanted you as well as your other siblings to hold on fast to this, and use it to your advantage, especially for when you became older. 

As a summer baby, you loved the water. Bath, puddle, pool, or a pond; it did not matter as long as you were able to go in, and swim! Mama wanted to enroll you along with your older brothers for a swim course, and she had it planned this year for you all to attend. You also loved painting, and art--and oh yes, especially so cutting construction papers! Something about cutting it into tiny pieces thrilled you! Mama encouraged you to do this, because why not, it helped you with your fine motor skill, and the mess that glittered to the floor could always be swept up! You adored to help prep Mama with food for the meals, even though you did not always quite eat what was on your plate!  

Besides the dinosaurs, your favorite land mammal was a COW! Matter of fact, you loved cows so much that you went as one for Halloween! One of the first words you were able to articulate clearly was COW. That spoke to your love of the cows for sure! 

You loved to play with your older brothers, and always desperately wanted to be a part of their crew. Mama often had to remind them to be welcoming, and encouraging of you to come along. Sometimes, Mama offered to play with you and Fiona so the older two were able to do their own thing. You loved going to park, go on the swings, and go down on the slides! You jumped as high as you could on the trampoline to beat your brothers' height. Sometimes, you all threw down for wrestling, and it became a huge chaos with Otis joining! Barking, screaming, and sounds of body hitting each other sure made for a noisy house!  

You recently switched the bedrooms. You went from being alone to sharing the bedroom with Franklin. The reasoning behind this was because with Forrest becoming older, he needed more privacy, and you needed a company to help further your socialization. It was a decision well done, because this helped to cement your relationship with Franklin. Mama and Daddy hoped that with you getting a roommate would help to reduce a need for you to come sneaking into their bed in the early hours of the morning. So far, it hadn't. You still managed to sneak into their bed, and demanding for the cuddles, which Mama won't lie; she absolutely loved it when you did! She hoped you would continue this as long as you can. 

Someday, Franklin will move out to have his own room, and you will get your room to yourself once again. 

You and Fiona are thick as thieves. You have such love and hate relationship sometimes! You two would get into trouble together, and roar up a storm enough to drive Mama up the wall! Then there will be moments where you and Fiona fight like a cat and a dog, ending in a few bite marks, oh my. Fiona often holds her ground against you, and it can be a battle of whose stubbornness wins in the end. Nonetheless, you and Fiona are close. If you are without her, then you often ask where Fiona is, and if Fiona is without you, then she often asks for you. Mama thinks it is because you two are the youngest, and closest in the age. So, you're able to benefit from playing with Fiona, and with your older brothers! 

You love your grandparents, and being spoiled them. You're always game to play with your cousins. Matter of fact, for this fall, you will be going into 4K LEADS with one of your cousins! How fun will that be! Mama and Daddy are hopeful to see how much you will grow during academic year of 2022-2023. 

Thank you for being YOU, and always STAY WILD. We love you so much, our little Fox.


Mama, Daddy, Forrest Franklin, and Fiona 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

FDR is SEVEN Year Old

 Dear Franklin, 

You are SEVEN years old. 

Under the wintry moon, you were born into a tempestuous night, and with the howling winds, they sang your name. On the contrary, you were born calm, and quiet. Let that fool you not. You grew, grew, and grew. Your brilliant, artistic mind continued to paint your thoughts, and imagination. You became a beautiful palette blend of extrovert-introvert ambivert spirit. Whatever a situation warranted you to become, you created a masterpiece of your facet of self, and expressed yourself accordingly. Whatever mood struck you, you could be found reading to yourself in a corner of your bedroom, or you would be bouncing off the couches in the living room! 

You finished kindergarten on a high note! You went from struggling a bit with reading, and writing to being one of the top kids in the class. You started to show more interest in reading! You found yourself appreciating Pete the Cat, Bird and Squirrel series, Captain Underpants, and Dogman books. One night, you came running to Mama, exclaiming proudly that you had accomplished a task, and oh, you were so proud to show off that you had completed 180 pages of book from Bird and Squirrel book all by yourself! And you should have been proud of yourself. You've come such a long way in term of learning how to read. 

By the end of Kindergarten, you were released from speech, because you were no longer needing their service! What an accomplishment you had done after a few years of being in speech therapy. You had a bit of lisp with a certain letter; it was explained that it was age appropriate, and that it should be self corrected. It did end up being corrected as you continued to learn how to read. 

Math became your favorite topic. You loved adding, and subtracting. Science fascinated you. You loved experiments. Matter of fact, your favorite experiments consisted of figuring out which ingredients caused an eruption, and tinkling with robot cars to go forth into a battle! You also had a green thumb; you loved helping to plant, watering, and helping the plants to grow under your caring watch. You loved helping Mama to snip, trim, and prune the plants to promote their growth. You learned how to pluck ripe fruits, and vegetables. Washing, prepping, and cutting them to be cooked became one of your favorite activities. You loved to draw, color, and create. A kitchen drawer reserved for all of your art was often filled up quickly with your creations! You enjoyed helping to take care of the chickens; Ms. Bawkey, Mr. Cappuccio, Nightshade, and Mr. Fluff Butt, and you did an excellent job of making sure they were well tended. 

As soon as you began to write, you started to collect post it notes, and labeled everything in your bedroom! You also wrote small notes to Mama and Daddy, reminding them how much you loved them, and to be honest, Mama quite loved those notes. She saved every one of the notes. You even go so far to write and publish your own books! You wrote several stories, stapling the loose leaf pages together, and created books. The BigFoot and Franklin book was Mama's favorite.  

One of the amazing things about you developing a greater interest in reading was that your signing exploded. You went from signing very little to fingerspelling, and conversing with Mama. Daddy would often lean back into his chair, then look at Mama with a small smile, then saying, "I told you so. Just gotta be patient. All in good time." Matter of fact, Daddy liked to say that out of four kids, you would be the interpreter in the family. While Mama found that to be sweet, she also wanted to make sure that you ended up doing WHAT you loved doing whatever it may be. She was just happy to be able to have you develop a stronger connection with signing. 

You began first grade with Mrs. Henning. Mama was quite excited for you to have a full year experience with Mrs. Henning, because Forrest did not have an opportunity to finish out the year with her due to CVID19 pandemic. Nonetheless, you became the second Russ kid to bestow their footsteps into Mrs. Henning's classroom. 

At the parents-teacher conference, Mrs. Henning reported all wonderful things about you; you did well with your favorite topics, and were ahead with reading. While all of that was lovely to hear, what was far more important was that you were thoughtful, kind, and caring towards other students in your class. You were a bit quiet, and introverted in the class, but with time, you did warm up, and participated in the class. 

You no longer became a bystander as you watched Forrest to attend his classmates' birthday parties, because you found yourself being invited to your own classmates' birthday parties! You were so excited, and felt so special to be able to join the "Big Kid" club. 

You participated in sports this year! You played soccer, baseball, and flag football. Soccer was your least favorite, even though Mama and Daddy thought they saw an aptitude for you with soccer. In the end, what you wanted mattered more than what your parents wanted for you. You loved baseball, and found football to be fun. You loved practicing tossing, and running around with Forrest and Daddy. 

You still remained close with Forrest, and looked up so much to him. Despite this, you began to find your own niche, and interests. It was somewhat bittersweet to witness a slow shift in your brotherly relationship, and you gradually stepping out of Forrest's shadow, because Mama and Daddy kept encouraging you two to have your own identities apart of each other, then it finally began to happen. It was a good thing to have your own identity apart from Forrest's, and to get to know you as your own person. At the same time, it signaled a slow end of a specific part of your childhood. That of itself was a bit sad. 

You prefer athletic clothes over the blue jeans. You are absolutely obsessed with Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian. You crack up over the slapstick humor, and jokes. You are such a goof ball! You do not like being forced into things that you do not want to do, and can end up dragging your feet something terribly. You can be really, really stubborn. Lord, yes. Mama keeps reminding herself that your stubborn nature is not to be worked out of you, but to be embraced, and channeled into something bigger. After all, this fosters independence, and determination. You can be distracted! Mama thinks it is because you have so much tumbling in your mind, and so many things require your attention. So you flit from one thing to other. This reminds her so much of Daddy. It just means it is yet another thing to be mastered, and channeled into something amazing. One of your favorite activities is to piece the puzzles together with Mama, or Daddy. 

With CVID19 still surging around the world, the pandemic remained to be a problem, and mask wear continued to be a part of our lives. You wore masks as you attended school, and when you went shopping with Mama or Daddy. With CVID19 vaccine being available for your age category, Mama looked forward to getting you and Forrest vaccinated soon. The world may became a bit less guarded with CVID19, and embraced it as our new normal; it did not mean that Mama and Daddy were ready to let go of all of the precautions, and with this said, they gradually began to reintroduce you as well as your siblings back to the regular life (such as going up north for a weekend, Camp Gramma, visiting Gramps Dave and Jess, birthday parties, and what not). Daddy and Mama worked hard to try keep things as normal as possible to provide stability and comfort. For instance, with the shipping shortage issue, Mama spent all of her time scouring down for the right costume for you to wear for Halloween. She was able to acquire you The Mandalorian costume, and your smile made it all worth it. 

You are such a wonderful big brother to Fox, and Fiona. You are in an interesting position where you can align with Forrest to game, talk about big kid stuff, and play Pokemon cards, yet you also can align with Fox and Fiona as you play dress up, imagination, and go on adventures with them. You really do have the best of both worlds. 

You are such a kind, sweet, loving person. Mama and Daddy are so lucky to have you in their lives. You are a perfect puzzle piece fitting neatly into the board. Your puzzle piece is also the brightest, and the most colorful addition. 

We love you so much, Franklin. 


Mama, Daddy, and the kids

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Fiona is TWO Years Old

 Dear Fiona, 

You are TWO years old. 

These last two years have flown by so quickly. Mama still remembers the day, oh so vividly, when she learned that you were a girl. Mama was so sure that you would be a boy number 4, and upon getting the news that you were definitely NOT a boy; she imagined what life will be like with dresses, pigtails, and little pitter patters in glittery shoes. You have met that, and even exceeded what she imagined on that morning. 

You are a spitfire. Oh, yes. When something does not meet what you want, you holler on the top of your lungs, and make sure that you ARE HEARD. Your wide grin reveals chipped front two tooth, a testimony of your wild nature, and small giggles escape out of your mouth. You no longer toddles around, and instead, you jump, kick, and dance. Yes, you love to dance! When a joy hit you, you can't help but break out in a full body wiggle with stomping. Your blonde eyebrows furrow when you are unsure as your raise your chubby wrist with your fingers outstretched out, and your small lips form into an O. 

Pigtails, and ponytails are now a part of your hair assemble, and you are very unsure if you approve. Sometimes, you will leave it in with no problem. Sometimes, you scrunch your nose, and yank the rubber out of your hair! You bang your head on people's heads as a form of kisses. Mama tries to correct and show you how to kiss gently, but nah, you would rather head bang! Shoes, shoes, and oh my shoes! You LOVE shoes. You will put on your brothers' shoes, Mama's shoes, or Daddy's shoes. Sometimes you'll steal the neighbor kids' shoes. You just love wearing them. Mama isn't sure why you love them, but you just do.

When food meets your satisfaction, you flash up a fist without a thumb up, which Mama finds quite hilarious, because she knows what you mean, and you try so hard mimic her. For some reason, you can't quite master sticking up your thumb. So a fist it is! You're just a great kid. You love drinking coffee much to Mama's dismay! Thankfully, it is just when the cup is nearly empty, and you will sneak a sip...just like how your older brothers did at your age. 

Just like your older brothers, you are speech delayed, and prefer very much signing over speaking. You have been working with Mrs. Kim at home for early intervention with speech. Slowly but surely, you are getting there, and Mama isn't worried about you. It's just a part of being a CODA. You love to sign KITTY, bath, eat, KITTY, bed, mama, and KITTY. Notice a pattern? You often hold up your index finger, and scold at anyone who tries to ask you to speak. You definitely have a sass to you! You also do the same to the dogs while they are barking, and being too loud. Then you will tell them, wagging your index finger at them, and saying, NO! Stop! 

Oh the sass to you! It never fails to make Mama and Daddy laugh. You have Daddy wrapped around your finger. He picks you up into his arms, and coo to you how you are an angel, and his baby girl. It is funny to see Daddy so tender-hearted with you, because he is very much so rough and tumble with the boys. It is NOT to say that Daddy does not have you participate in crazy wrestling matches, because he often grabs you, lifts you up in the air, and slam you onto the bed while you're laughing wildly. Mama does not quite understand how you and your brothers find this SO amusing, yet you do! It is just that there are quiet, tender moments of Daddy picking you up into his arms, and holding you close to his heart. It is difficult for Daddy to say no to anything you want. You are very loved as much as your brothers are. 

You love your older brothers. You truly have the best of the worlds with each one of them. Forrest has taken over a role of tender, loving, and caring oldest brother who is always on an outlook for you. He is always the first one to run to scoop you up when you are afraid, or hurt. He often receives you out of your crib when you are crying. Forrest is the first to express any concern regarding your welfare. Franklin is often a comedic relief for you. When you are sad, or upset, then Franklin is the first to sit down to try get you laugh or smile. He loves to jiggle you around in his arms, much to Mama's dismay, and her cautioning him to be careful. You have never shown any disdain of being carried wildly by Franklin running around. Matter of fact, you are often hollering, and laughing RIGHT ALONGSIDE him. Now with Fox being the youngest of the boys, you often find him to be your playmate. Sometimes, you two do fight; hollering, screaming, biting, hitting, and kicking at each other. Goodness! Both of you can be so stubborn. Thankfully, this is far and few in the between. You and Fox often do play well together. You are so lucky to have three big brothers to look after you in their own ways. 

You and Missy are dear friends. More often than not, Mama finds you cuddling with Missy during your naps. With Missy's steady motor purring, it always put you into a deep slumber, and once you awaken, you love to sit up, and gently pet her. Upon Mama arriving to pick you up out of the crib, you gleefully sign: PET CAT. PET CAT. PET CAT. Mama isn't very sure why Missy adore you so much, since she steers clear from the boys, and does not show much interest in small kids. But you, she has made an exception for. 

You just love animals. You love petting the dogs. You get concerned when Bea lays down instead of eating kibbles, and you always carry the bits of kibble to hand feed Bea. Otis is a bit too rambunctious for your liking. His deep barking startles you, and you run to Mama's side. Sometimes, Otis's fluffy tail wags so furiously, and it hits you on your head, yet you just shrug it off. Sometimes, you have so much fascination of dumping a dog bowl of food into the water bowl, and Otis is often found right by your side, gobbling up wet dog kibbles. You exclaim HI to every dog when you are out with Mama on the walks. The only creatures you hold some fear towards is the chickens. Their flapping wings, loud squawking, and quick zoomies often makes you anxious. So Mama makes sure you are at a safe distance while the chickens are free ranging.  

You stopped nursing at age of 16 months, just shy of your half birthday, and it made Mama sad to end that relationship with you for plethora of reasons. It was not very surprising when you abruptly decided that you were done, mainly because of your get-go personality, and there had been signs of you losing interest. She had hoped to try push nursing until your second birthday, but it was just not in the cards for both of you. Just like that, you wanted a hug and kiss then be put down for bed. Mama's heart was heavy, knowing that the years of breastfeeding ended just like that, and even with that, she was also ready to step into the next part of her life as you entered yours. 

You pull your diaper off and run around commando. It is because you strongly dislike the sensation of a wet diaper. Sometimes there are signs of an interest in being potty trained, then as quick as your curiosity has been, your interest simply wanes, and you don't want to pursue it. Mama has decided that she will just go with the flow, and see what happens! No rush. 

You are still sleeping in your crib, which is another milestone that Mama isn't rushing you through, and you will let her know when you are good and ready to transition to a big girl bed. You are content with sleeping your crib, so why change that? All in due time. It is possible that you being a fourth child bears a lot of weight with Mama's being so laid-back.  

Your favorite food still remains the same from when Mama carried you, which is tacos, guacamole, anything spicy, and especially so sweet food, which is just perfect, because it is what Mama also love. Matter of fact, when Mama has you for the girl's weekend, bang shrimp with spicy sauce is often the dinner choice! You also love cheese! Just like a true Wisconsinsite! 

Your personality is starting to shine through, and it has been a great joy to get to know you. You are empathetic, loving, and love being around people, especially Mama. We are excited to see what this year brings to you, our dear Fiona. 


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, Franklin, & Fox

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Forrest is NINE years old

 Dear Forrest, 

You are NINE years old. 

This is your last year of being in a single digit. Never again, you will be revealing your age with a goofy childlike smile, holding up a few fingers, and laughing as you do it. The glimpse of young childhood is slowly fading away from your physique. Your legs are starting to become less knobby, your face thinning out, and you're growing taller. Before Mama knows it, you and your friends will be towering over her...but not for at least a few more years!

Time is the sand in a hourglass of life. The sand pours down rather relentlessly. As much as we wish to freeze the moments, and to revisit the same experiences again, time does not work in such way. It does not give us a luxury to sit back, and pause the moment when we see fits. This serves a poignant reminder to appreciate, love, and embrace the moments that we will always cherish. It is not always easy to remind ourselves of this, and we are often guilty of forgetting. Nonetheless, when we do remember to slow down, and to embrace the is when we realize that the small things are what makes life worth living for. 

This past year had been a challenging year once again, due to the CVID19 pandemic, and you took it in a stride. You entered second grade with Mrs. Zoll, and that meant your last year in LEADS program at Hillcrest. Amidst the mask wear and social distance policy, you navigated through the murky waters of attending school in person. Thankfully, Mrs. Zoll and the class in the LEADS were all fantastic. You were able to remain safe, and healthy during the year. With a brief virtual school stint thrown in the mix, you attended school nearly full time, and was able to accomplish things that you were unable to do so during the previous year. The atmosphere was most certainly different with CVID19 looming over your head as well as other students'. You all handled it incredibly well, and with such grace. Mama and Daddy could not have been any prouder of you than they already were. 

Because of you being in the second grade, this meant learning was becoming a bit tougher, and things came less naturally for you. This resulted in frustration for you, and this often invited a dialogue about grit. It was okay not to always know things. Matter of fact, Mama and Daddy did not always know things despite them being adults! It just showed you that even with some things that may be harder to learn and retain, it did not reflect your level of intelligence, or did it reflect your ambition for learning. It was a lesson for you to learn; even most knowledgable person still faced new information on a daily basis, and it simply meant that learning was a life-long process. 

The holidays were a strange one. Mama and Dad opted to err on a prudent side, and celebrate at home. It did not mean you and your siblings missed out on all of the fun! It simply became much more intimate, smaller, and cozy. Halloween brought you a movie night with green goo popcorn with your neighbor friends while watching Ernest Scared Stupid movie. Thanksgiving lent Mama a chance to try her hand at making the meal! It turned out fantastic! The homemade cranberry sauce was a hit. Daddy was quite pleased with how well the turkey turned out. Christmas was a bit different, because instead of traveling to other places to celebrate with the extended family, we opted to stay at home, and celebrate just by ourselves. You had a chance to Facetime your grandparents, and show off your gifts. Gramma TC and GrandAunt Rosalie sent you and your siblings a matching pajamas that also matched with your cousins! So there was a fun photo compilation of all cousins wearing matching pajamas! Gramps Dave and Nana Jess met halfway with Mama and exchanged the gifts. Gramma Bobbie and Gramps Mike were able to sneak in gifts for you all. There was definitely a lot of love in all of the gifts from our family. While Christmas looked different; it was not lonesome, even though different, and it was one of the most relaxing Christmases to be had. 

As the snow started to thaw, you began playing baseball for the Marlins in the spring. What a fun experience this had been for you! You loved having Dad as your coach, and having your best friend on the team with you. Mama felt that it was a great way to build up your confidence, and it was! You learned how to embrace the team losses and wins as the season progressed. You learned how to hit the ball, and to run around the bases. You loved having family come to watch, and support you play! Baseball was all what you talked about, and you looked forward to every practice as well as every game. When it ended, you exclaimed that you wanted to do this next spring! 

As the spring semester winded down, your time with LEADS ended, and you were eager for the summer to begin.  Mama and Dad decided to sign up you and Franklin for soccer. You decided that soccer was not really your thing, and that was okay! The most important thing was that you tried it out, and stuck it out to the end of the season. 

You spent the summer spending time with Gramma TC for Camp Gramma...twice! You also visited the Farm rather often, and enjoyed cousin time! You also had Gramps Dave and Nana Jess come to spend time with us. You also went with Mama and the kids to stay with Gramma TC and Aunt RO for several days while the house was being fixed up. You had a lot of yummy food, plenty of sun, and swimming! There was some fishing, biking, and playing with the neighbor kids! 

Dad built a chicken coop, and got four chickens from Uncle Grant. You and Franklin took turns to feed, water, and put the chickens to bed at the night. It was a chore that Mama didn't have to remind you two often about, because you were always ready to take care of them! When Ms. Bawkey, Nightshade, Mr. Fluff Butt, and Mr. Cappuccino began laying eggs--oh how exciting it was for all of us! You loved collecting eggs every morning, and checked quite often during the day to see if there were any to retrieve. When the chickens free ranged for a couple hours, you often loved supervising, and often picked up whoever was willing to be held. 

You had your annual allergist appointment with Dr. McMeen. The discussion of having food challenge was brought up again. With CVID19 disrupting life, Mama and Dad never got around to starting the food challenge last year. Nonetheless, Mama requested for you to have a second blood panel to ensure that the numbers were still at zero for tree nuts before setting up food challenge. Dr. McMeen explained that the food challenge was going to be an all day affair, and that it was going to be done in the clinic. You were more enthusiastic to get the ball rolling this time around. You wanted to make sure that you were able to eat tree nuts, because this meant more variety would be available for you to enjoy! With your consent, Mama promised you that food challenge will happen either this fall or early winter of next year! 

You are still enjoying your role as an oldest brother. You are straddling between the worlds of wanting to be with your friends, to game, and do "older kids" thing, and wanting to play with your younger siblings. You alternate between loving and hating Frank (even though Dad and Mama reminds you quite often to be kind even if you feel annoyed), and wanting your own bedroom away from him. Frank struggles with this a bit, because he looks up so much to you, and you're the best thing to him. It is definitely a tough one to navigate through sometimes. You like to usher, and hoover over the little ones, especially Fiona. Mama has to often to remind you that while she is thankful for your consideration of helping her out, it is not your role to be a parent, and it is hers as well as Dad's. She is so careful not to place so much responsibilities on your shoulders, and making sure that you get to be Forrest even in the middle of all family chaos! You are a wonderful big brother, and your siblings love you so. 

The summer winded down to its end with the cool crisp in the air, you celebrated your 9th birthday with a sleepover party with just a few friends, and in your words, it was the coolest party ever! The fall brought to you an exciting change! 

You are now attending Olga Brenner Elementary for intermediate school. This has evoked some anxiety for you to go from a small class size in LEADS program at Hillcrest to a mainstream public school. The good news is that you will have your best friend in the class with you this year! With open house event recently, you also know that you have a few classmates from LEADS in the class with you as well! Your teacher, Mrs. Reed, appears to be warm, kind, and excited to have you in her class. It will be definitely strange for Mama not to be picking you up along with Franklin and Fox at Hillcrest, and picking you up at the other school instead! 

Dad, Mama, Frank, Fox, and Fi all are excited to see what your 9th year will bring to you! 


Mama, Dad, Franklin, Fox, & Fiona