Friday, August 28, 2020

Fiona is ELEVEN Months Old

Dear Fiona, 

You are ELEVEN months old. There is just one more month left before you turn one. It is mind-blowing to look back in the past eleven months, and realize how quickly these months have gone by. Time is such a fluid concept. Some days does not ever seem to end, then there are other days that goes by within a blink of eye. It is surreal to think that this time last year, Mama is extremely pregnant with you, and ready to have you, then now you're approaching your first birthday. Mama always tell new parents to CHERISH time, because all it takes is a snap of finger, and a baby is no longer a baby, but a child. As we all get older, the quicker time goes by, and the more it is so imperative to truly stay in the moment, which is something Mama is doing with you, sweet little pumpkin. 

You are now in 12-18 months clothes. Mama is hoping the weather will cool down sooner instead of later, because there are a stash of clothes in 12-18 months designed for fall weather, and they are sure cute! Besides, Mama is ready for the summer to be over anyway! Bring on leggings, and oversized sweaters! You are still in size 4 for diapers, and it will be some time before you go into a bigger size. You are once again dealing with a terrible diaper rash. Mama thinks she knows the culprit, and she is on to help you recover as quickly as possible. 


You have started your speech sessions with Ms. Kim. It poses a bit of challenge, because everyone are wearing masks, and you don't really like it. It frightens, and baffles you to see Mama, Daddy, Ms. Kim, and Michelle wearing masks in your presence. You tend to become shy, and quiet...unless Forrest is present with you, then you are more likely to vocalize, and respond. Otherwise, you struggle with the stranger anxiety. The goal is to get you vocalize, babble, and develop a verbalized language. One step at time. You will get there. After all, three sessions aren't going to magically turn you into a babbling brook. Sometimes, it can take time for these things to happen. 

You're pulling yourself up onto everything! Nothing dares to hold you back! You dislike being contained. You complain, shout, scream, and cry until you are freed. Then you happily venture onto your little adventure. You often end up being pulled towards something that is not safe for you to be around. Mama is always chasing after you, then relocating you to a safer spot. She is constantly fishing things out of your mouth. It blows her mind what you find on the floor despite her vacuuming, and sweeping! Mama suppose it is what happens when there are five other people living in the house with two dogs, and two cats! 


You recently made a trip down to Racine with Mama, and the boys while the basement crew came to your home to work on an intensive project to fix the entire sump pump system. You handled the long drive like a champ, and slept for most of it. At first, you were frightened by all of the new faces that you were unaccustomed to see. It was one of the negative impacts from being quarantined, and cooped up away from extended family for so long. 

Fortunately, you were able to warm up quickly. You had fun playing with your cousins, especially Archer, seeing that he was only 2 days older than you! It was neat to see how much you and Archer had in the common with the milestones being achieved. It was a trip well worth going, because it was so good to be able to catch up, and see everybody once again. 


You still have no teeth! It is better to have teeth later than early though. It will come when it comes. Mama thinks you will have your first tooth around your first birthday. Maybe? You are still not walking, and have no interest in attempting. It is possible that you will start walking after your first birthday as well, which is just fine. You enjoy peek-a-boo! You love covering yourself in a blanket or Mama's cardigan, then try to boo someone. It is so adorable. You also love it when people sing to you. You love the song, If You're Happy, and You Know It, Clap Your Hands. You haven't quite mastered clapping, but you love lifting your hands above your head. Close enough! 

With your older brothers starting school next week, which is a bit anxiety provoking for Mama; it means it will be just you and Mama for a few hours three times a week with Fox away to attend St. James for 3k! Mama is looking forward to resuming her walks with the dogs, and you. She has not had much opportunity to walk this past summer. Hopefully, that will change once the older three goes to school. The dogs may appreciate being walked as well! Despite Mama's anxiety, it will be nice for you to be just with Mama for a bit during the week. Mama is also looking forward to having some kind of routine once again with school starting up, tutoring ASL students, AND decorating for the holidays!

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Grandma Bobbie showed Mama a link to crochet a cute Candy corn outfit. Of course, Mama had to buy the pattern, and yarns to start making the costume! Here's the secret; candy corn is actually one of Mama's favorite candies, and she's not very sure why there's so much animosity toward marshmallow pumpkins and candy corn! Yes, she's THAT basic. There may not be a trick or treat planned this year, but it won't stop Mama from celebrating one of her favorite holidays, Halloween! You will probably wear that costume once a week for the whole month of October, ha! 

With September just around the corner, Mama is excited for so many things; the family photo shoot, holidays coming up so soon, FALL (of course), and most importantly of all, you TURNING ONE! 


Mama, Daddy, and the Boys 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Forrest is EIGHT Years Old

Dear Forrest, 


You are now EIGHT years old. You are approaching the end of a whole decade like a greased lightning. The old and tried parable is true: The days are long, but the years are short. Mama and Daddy could not believe how fast time has gone by. Eight whole years have gone by around the sun just like that. It is incomprehensible that Mama has to tell people that she has a 8-year old child! Like where did time has truly gone by? It no longer feels like it is "yesterday" when she had you, because so much time has passed, and that makes her feel kind of sad, yet happy all at once, because she is getting to know you as a person. Oh Forrest, you are one of the kind. One of the kind. It is such a privilege and honor to be your Mama. You're just how she imagined you to be when she carried you. 

Eight years ago today, Mama and Daddy excitedly waited for you to make your debut into the world. Seven years ago, you made your first steps with Mama's arms outstretched to you, and Daddy cheering you on. Six years ago, you ran around the house with a toddling brother behind you. Five years ago, you began 3K while Mama shed some tears at the thought of letting you go into someone else's arms. Four years ago, you proudly showed off that you were potty trained at last! Three years ago, you welcomed a new brother into your family, and assumed a big brother role once again. Two years ago, you began kindergarten, and flourished. 

This past year has been a wild ride! You started first grade in LEADS, and had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Henning. The year started off with an excellent start. You flourished in the class, and learned so much. Daddy and Mama received wonderful reports about you; how you were eager with absorbing information, being helpful towards your classmates, your teacher, and loved to talk with your best friends! Right at the cusp of the school year, your baby sister joined the family, and there had been nothing but an instant love between you and her. You had been so gentle with Fiona; making sure her neck was supported, letting Mama know when she was fussy, and protecting her from the rambunctiousness from your younger brothers. As Fiona grew older, you carried her in your arms, and you enjoyed talking to her. You grew to become one of her favorites, and you LOVED the idea of being her favorite. You loved telling people about Fiona, and always wanted to show her off. You had always (and still are) been a wonderful big brother, and this did not surprise Mama a bit. 

This spring marked a full year of living in a new house, and the truth to be told, it was a right decision to move into a bigger home. It gave you, and your younger brothers more rein of freedom to run around! The trade up was a bigger home with a smaller yard, and you guys did not pay any mind to the size of yard though! You and your brothers were recently surprised with a gift of a giant trampoline that came with a mister system. Oh boy, oh boy, it was a GREAT investment! Daddy and Mama were quite glad that they bit the bullet to purchase that for you guys.  With the trampoline in the place, the yard was still comfortable enough to accommodate the dogs, gardening, and you guys to run around! It worked out well. 

You were joined by Franklin at Hillcrest Primary Elementary school. With Frank being in LEADS along with you, you had some events that also included his class, and as much as you sometimes claim be "annoyed" by Frank, you sure were a wonderful brother to him. It warmed Mama's and Daddy's hearts to receive pictures of you with Franklin during those times. This proved how kindhearted you were. Of course, it also helped that you were quite experienced as a big brother! 

With Fiona being born at the end of September,  while everybody adjusted well to the new family order, but not without some bump; there came a challenge with you going along with peer pressure, and making less than ideal choice in the moment. It served you a serious lesson to learn from. The lesson taught you that sometimes even good people make the wrong choices, and holding themselves accountable when they made a bad choice. It was not easy to witness the pain that you had to go through. However, you did learn that in life, pain was one of the teachers that we all did not always like, wanted to avoid at times, and to not have to deal with its swift hand. Nonetheless, the lessons that pain provided brought you some humility, and accountability. Daddy and Mama were able to guide, and discuss with you how to get through your wrongdoing, and felt confident that you understood the ramifications. With this tuckered inside your mind, you continued to grow, and become a dashing young boy that you had always been all along. This enabled you to mature a bit more, and encouraged you to remain a helpful, kind boy that you had always been. 

With your chronic headaches that bothered you for so long, Dr. Karbon decided to order a MRI scan of your brain. While it was scary for Mama and Daddy, you thought it was the coolest thing ever to get an imaging of your brain! You told Daddy and Mama that it felt like you were being in a rocket, and loved listening to music on youtube during the scan. The scan came back clear, thankfully, however, it did show that your aneoids were enlarged. This was obviously result of your allergies. You were referred to ENT, and received nasal spray. It did help greatly along with medication to manage your allergies. You asked Mama for a scanned image of your brain to show off to your class, and you loved showing it off to your class! 

The school year continued to truck on through winter of 2019 with no indication of what was coming. Mama, Daddy, and brood of you kids spent the holidays with the family, then celebrated the birth of 2020. In the beginning of 2020, you and your younger siblings had no inkling of an ominous viral outbreak resulting into a pandemic all over the world. Unfortunately, it became so bad that schools had to close, and the states ordered a mandatory quarantine to crush the outbreak. 

During the quarantine, something you had wished for so long finally happened! You lost your tooth!! Oh boy, you wanted this so bad. Prior losing your tooth, you sadly announced every time when your friends lost their teeth, and pined to experience the same. Daddy and Mama reminded you that it was going to happen in due time, and sometimes, you had to wait. Then it finally did! Once you lost your tooth, more followed, and you were able to experience something that you had waited for so long. 

You and Franklin received homeschooling during the shut down period. The education you received was definitely out of norm. Mrs. Henning sent a weekly vlog of reading a chapter book, and you looked forward to it! You made sure Mama wrote down on the white board when the next chapter book vlog was released, because you did not want to forget it. You also loved Google hangout with your friends and Mrs. Henning. Mama proposed you to read the first three Harry Potter books, and have you watch a movie upon completion of each book. You LOVED the idea, and actually completed all three books! The fourth book as well as remaining books were a bit challenging to read. So you and Mama decided to stop at book four, and wait until you were a bit older to be able to get through them. You and Franklin completed handout assignments so quickly. That enabled Mama to see how thirsty you and Franklin were to learn. She tried her best to keep you and Franklin engaged with learning in different ways. It was challenging! 


Te spring ended with a second welcome of a new family member into our family! Otis, a Golden Doodle with a potential of becoming a school therapy dog (or just a very well behaved house dog), tumbled into our lives just like that! It was so much fun to have Otis grow up with you and your siblings. You learned how to help train Otis, and enjoyed it! With an arrival of Otis, the school district made a hard decision to close the school for the rest of the year. This brought a lot of BIG, DIFFICULT, and SAD feelings for you to process through. Mama and Daddy had several heart to heart dialogues with you about how much pandemic had affected you. Fortunately, having a lot of zoom playdates with your friends helped. You looked forward to Facetime dates with your grandparents. It provided a connection in such strange time. 

This meant an abrupt end to your first grade year. This left you confused, frustrated, scared, and sad. It was heartbreaking to have a lack of closure, and to deal with so many losses of saying goodbye, continuing learning experiences, field trips, a spring concert, and end of the year school activities. You missed Mrs. Henning, and your friends quite badly. Daddy and Mama tried their best to guide you all through a confusing time, and to give you grace to express your feelings. Daddy and Mama knew this was a historical moment--something you and Franklin may remember when you both become older, and still wished that it did not happen the way it did, but they dealt with the hand of cards as best as they could.

The pandemic continued into the summer. You and Franklin learned how to ride bikes effortlessly. You loved racing ahead down the street, much to Daddy's dismay, and zoom everywhere during the walks. You were instructed about bike safety, and did become better at listening. With the weather becoming warmer, Mama felt more comfortable with you inviting a friend over for a play date in person. You were able to have a few playdates with your friends (one at time)! You also had an opportunity to visit your grandparents on the farm, and in the city! You and your younger brothers went to Camp Grandma for a week. It was definitely a different camp experience, because you were not able to go to zoo, or any fun places, however, Gramma Theresa made up for it by providing a lot fun activities to do at home. You spent time with your cousin, Izzy, and Facetimed Alice as well! 

You love pizza, bacon and eggs, shrimp, Pokemon, Minecraft, Nintendo Switch, listening to the music especially AJR pop band, talking with friends on the messenger, playing with the neighbor kids, fishing, going up to the Farm, Camp Grandma with Gramma Theresa and Grand-Aunt Rosalie, day trips with Gramps Dave and Nana Jess, learning about facts, being a big brother to Fiona and your younger brothers, and reading. What you do not like is "baby stuff" as you often tell Mama, not being right, being told that you are not the boss (ah, the joys of being 8), cleaning, and having to eat certain vegetables. 

With you being the oldest, Mama often asks you to help out with things around the home, especially when she has her hands full with Fiona, and Fox. You often do not mind helping, and gladly do so. At the same time, Mama is cautious not to overburden you, because you deserve to have the same childhood as your younger siblings does. You act older than your age at times, and it can be hard to believe that you had just turned 8. You are the Professor of the family, and always sprout off what you know. You can be absolutely hilarious, and have a smart as whip comments to spit back. Sometimes, your whip of tongue can get you in trouble though! 

You had your annual allergy visit with Dr. McMeen. You weighed 55 pounds, and measured at 4 foot and 2 inches. Dr. Mcmeen discussed with you and Mama about your Eczema, and how to manage it during summertime, since you were prone to flare ups during this time of the year. It appeared that every summer, you got a quite terrible flare up on back of your knees, and Mama suspected it was from grass or tree (or even both!) pollen. 

Then Mama asked Dr. McMeen about food challenge, and you had to have a skin prick test to make sure that you remained allergy-free to tree nuts. You had both skin and blood tests in the past that indicated that you were not allergic to tree nuts, however, for you to proceed with food challenge, Dr. McMeen had to retest you. To no great surprise, you remained negative for tree nuts! With a confirmation set in the stone, Dr. McMeen gave you a green light to start food challenge to test all seven different types of nuts. She gave Mama an intensive instruction how to proceed with the challenge at home. It left Mama anxious, but she knew that you would go through this with resilience. Before you could go through with the food challenge, your eczema had to be cleared up first. This was to prevent any confusion whether eczema was caused from the food challenge, or environmental. 

Daddy and Mama are hoping that you will be able to have your diet expanded, and not to have worry so much about what you eat. You are great at self-advocating, and making sure that the food does not contain any nuts. Your sense of self-advocacy does ease Mama's mind, because it shows her that you are able to navigate through obstacles with little to no problems. However, you do have anxiety surrounding your food allergy, and it can flare up from time to time. This is when Mama and Daddy steps in to have a discussion to talk through your anxiety with you, and help you to make a peace with it. As older as you get, the more comfortable you become with having a peanut allergy, because it is a part of who you are. 

Mama scheduled you to have your 8-year old wellness check with Dr. Karbon on September 30th, because it overlapped with Fiona's year old wellness check. It was easier to hit two birds with one stone to bring both of you, and possibly Franklin and Fox as well to get flu shot for everybody. Mama always made sure that you kids received your flu shots every fall, and this year was just as important or even more important with CVID19 circulating around. 

You will be entering second grade with Mrs. Zoll this fall, and it marks your last year at Hillcrest Primary school. By next fall, you will be starting a new school at Olga Brenner Elementary school as a third grader! This makes Mama a bit sad, because this marks a new chapter in your life, and you've been going to Hillcrest since you were three years old! You will be making the best of this year with or without CVID19! 

Mama and Daddy are looking forward to what year 8 brings for you, and see nothing but great things in store waiting to happen! 


Mama, Daddy, Franklin, Fox, & Fiona