Friday, March 23, 2012

Roadtrip Recap: O-hi-oh!

After our amazing time in Indy, we retraced three hours back to Columbus Ohio. Back to Ohio to see a college girlfriend who I hadn't seen in at least eight years. A teensy gamble, but it paid off huge. Everything clicked perfectly.

Becky's two boys and my two boys had a great time together - especially her older (Jake) and Nate. They built marble-runs together, watched Home Alone 3, and just generally made friends in that easy way that little boys seem to do. Drew and Jack played a more solitary game around the outskirts as the littlier ones seem to do. Becky and I talked and talked and talked and talked as old friends seem to do, when they're very lucky to fit back together so easily.

Of course I have no pictures of us, but we properly documented the passle of boys.

To cap off the trip, it turned out that the day we were leaving, the Dad of the house, Paul, was doing a Blackhawk landing in a field not too far from their home. We rushed to get out of the house and made it to the park about 10 minutes before we heard the chop-chop-chop-chop in the distance, and got to watch the entire landing. It was a thrill.

Paul and his crew were there to wow a group of campers, but he saw us and came over to say hello to the boys and they were very very proud and happy.

Then Paul took us over to the Blackhawk and introduced us to his crew, and the crew let the boys roam all over the place. Happy kids.

It was a thoroughly excellent visit. Next up...Niagara Falls!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nate's Monthly Newsletters, Six-And-A-Half-Years!

Dear Nate,

A little late, but aren't they all now?

You are six-and-a-half. It was interesting to explain a half birthday to you. You never realize how many words have intricate meanings until you have to explain them to a six-and-a-half-year-old. Then you trip all over your tongue, saying "you know" and "ummmm..." a lot. At least I do.

We have to explain things a lot to you because you are just sucking up knowledge like it's bacon. You like to understand how everything works, and you like to explain life to US a lot, which is a treat. Did I ever write about the acorn? When you were around 5, we were walking home from the Metro and you picked an acorn up off the sidewalk. You said "Mom, if I planted this acorn it would grow a tree. And that tree would have LOTS of acorns. So really, this acorn is lots of acorns." I think I told you how "zen" that was, and how smart you are, and I still think both of those things are true. You have a wonderful way of looking at the world and understanding it.

We just started reading the Phantom Tollbooth and you really like it. We just finished visiting the land of Expectations (which is where you always end up on the way to wherever you were planning to go). The little man there asks Milo over and over if Milo thinks it's going to rain, and as Milo drives away it does start to rain, in a cloud only above the little man. You told me: "It's only raining on him because he EXPECTED it to start raining!" Nate, I've read that book about 15 times, and never caught that. You're absolutely right. Quit with the smart, okay? You're making me and Daddy look bad.

You have turned into a really remarkable kid. You are helpful to me most of the time, getting Jack out of his carseat, finding things for me around the house, helping me cook. You have calmed down a lot - a lot less "spazzy" then you've been. We talk a lot, and laugh about things together, and get along so beautifully. You listen to me much of the time, use your manners, and have a spirit of contentment and ease and good-naturedness that was sometimes missing when you were younger. You are maturing.

Have I written about the ice skating? I signed you up for ice skating. You were less than thrilled. We went anyway. The first class you did pretty well, marching about. The second class was a disaster. You cried from about 1 minute in through most of the class. I handled it beautifully, of course. Stayed calm, for about 5 minutes, and then started saying things like "Do you want to be a quitter?! Do you?! Is this really what you want to be doing?!" I was awesome. Parenting book being released next year. Pre-order now!

So later we left, and on the way home I talked with you, a lot more calmly, about quitting and what quitting makes a person feel like, and how it changes them. I talked about being adventurous and sticking with things. And then I had a brainstorm: "Nate, at your class next week, do you want me to keeping helping you or do you want me to help the other kids and leave you alone with the teacher?" You thought about it, and asked me to leave you alone with the teacher. And that was it! Never had another problem. After the third class, when you stuck it out and got better, you said you were glad we'd come back and tried again. I tried not to go on and on about it, but told you how proud I was of you for sticking with it, for not giving up, what that means for your future and for your whole LIFE. You were quietly very proud. We went on to have a great long series of classes, and now you're sad that it's over. But it's not about the ice skating, as fun as that is. When I see you not giving up, when I see you staying strong and working hard, I feel like that's the key to your whole future and I'm just beyond thrilled.

Speaking of adventures, in Aruba you agreed to try parasailing with me! We talked about it a bit, then we watched some videos on YouTube of other kids parasailing, and you agreed to go for it. We got all harnessed up, then hooked in, and seconds later we were flying into the air! I tried to keep everything upbeat and fun in case you were getting worried, and we kept going higher and higher. You were harnessed in front of me, both of us facing forward, so I couldn't see your face. Just as I was about to get worried, you said "I should have done this!" I asked you "You shouldn't have done this?" and you said "No, I should have done this. I'm glad I did this!" It was a hoot. And yet another chance to talk with you about trying new things, about how often you're glad you did. Just tell me when you're sick of me, okay?

You're still into superheroes and Bakugans and Beyblades and love to work that kind of stuff into your games with Jack. The other day I heard you tell him that that a superhero needed "Oxygen, strength, bravery, and power, right Jack?" You and Jack are just amazing together right now. You play for hours. It's beyond amazing. It's stupendous, a miracle from heaven. You guys have so much fun together - laughing and making games up. Your best game is "doggie" (sometimes "robot doggie") which I think means Jack tells you, doggie, what to do. This often segues into "family" and I know when that's happened by seeing Jack run upstairs, past me, up to the bedroom, and come down dragging Pink Doll and Blue Boy (Jack's other, boy, doll). And then he's back in the basement and you guys are playing again and I just cannot tell you how fantastic it is. You have grown to love each other so much. So much that when you had a friend over last week, Stella, Jack was very grumpy and said to me " But *I* like Nate. I don't want him to like *her* anymore."

You carefully wrote out valentines cards for the kids in your class, and on your own thought to write one to me, Daddy and Jack. If you look carefully, you'll even find one to God. You were thrilled to get cards from your friends, and sometimes still spill the bag out onto the table and look through them.

You have a good heart and a good conscience. I can see you being tempted to be mean, to leave kids out, to make yourself happy at other's expense, just like we all are. Sometimes you give in, you tease (especially Jack), you deny your toys or your stickers. Kari and Shane were over the other day, and rather than share your Beyblades you were given the option to take it all up to your room if you wouldn't share. I told you that you could, but also told you that I wasn't proud of your behavior, and that you shouldn't be either. You said "ok" and took it all upstairs. Half an hour later when Shane got hurt playing, you immediately offered to take him upstairs so that he could play with your Beyblades. You have your moments, but it is clear as day how kind you are, how thoughtful you are, how considerate you are, and how good you are, right down to your bones.

I can't tell you how good it feels to be so close with you, to enjoy each other's company, to laugh and tickle together, to understand each other. Last night I came to say goodnight after Daddy tucked you in and spent some time rubbing your back for you (you like me to scratch your back, then "smooth out" the scratches). After a while you caught my hand in yours and we just sat there for a few moments together. You are kind and good, and I love being on this ride with you.