Friday, December 18, 2015

Dear Moe (Fall 2015)

Dear Moe,
It’s been almost four months since my last letter. You are happily settled in Senior Kindergarten, and seem to be enjoying school. I was concerned at how you would do without your buddy Nathan, but you’ve settled into a routine with other kids. You did miss Nathan at first; one day in September or early October I asked you what your best thing was that day, and you said, “If Nathan were still at my school, my best thing today would have been playing with him outside.” It kind of broke my heart. But it seems your class dynamic is quite different this year; you all tend to play together in large groups, rather than pair off into intense friendships. You seem to be happy, which is fantastic.

We have had four months of busy Saturday mornings, with a swimming class and then a Judo class. You have worked really hard at swimming, Moe, both in terms of listening to the instructor and improvements to your skills. It has been lovely to watch your confidence bloom. This was, I believe, your third kick at the can for Salamander, and you’ve made great progress, but were quite disappointed when you didn’t pass the level again. But we had a chat with the head lifeguard, who explained to you the different things you need to work on to pass, and reassured you that it’s not about passing or failing, it’s about having fun and improving, which you are definitely doing. You’ll be out of the pre-school levels anyway, and in Swim Kids 1 because of your age.
At the start of the swimming term, it was clear you were having trouble listening to the instructor. After some discussion, it became clear that you really just wanted a chance to play around in the pool. We developed a system where on days that you were a really good listener during your lesson, we would inquire with Bambi and Simon about whether we could swim at their place the next day. Your instructor also heard your plea and incorporated more play into the lesson, which helped a lot. There was once incident where you threw a life-jacket into the pool at the end of the lesson, and Daddy came down hard on this lack of respect for your instructor. But you took your licks (no screen time), and apologized to Rebecca on your own the following week. I was proud of you.
You certainly enjoy Judo when you are there, and Sensei Tina says that you’re an “okay listener”… “most of the time,” which I’ll totally take because I know how easily distracted you can get. Judo has been great for you in terms of your independence – you are expected to get dressed on your own and sign in by yourself. Parents are not allowed in the dojo, and I think that’s fantastic.
Lately, your favourite toys are your Beyblades, a small collection we have managed to grow thanks to friends whose older kids are ready to say goodbye to theirs. Beyblades are hard to find these days! But you love spinning them (sorry, “ripping” them), doing “battles” and seeing how long they will spin. You also enjoy building things with your Lego, like a park where your Lego kitties can play. (A Lego kitty is two square pieces staggered on top of each other. Bonus if you can find little triangle wedges for the ears.) TV is all about Paw Patrol and Lego Ninjago, although you have recently discovered Slugterra, which I find baffling.
You do love playing video games. We set up the Xbox 360 in the basement when Daddy upgraded to Xbox One (more on this later), and you’ve enjoy hanging out down there on a sumo sack and playing various Lego-based games. The big obsession for a while was Lego Dimensions on the Xbox One, which Daddy threw himself into heart and soul. But I have to say, it is pretty cool to watch you explore Middle Earth with Marty McFly while Batman and the Doctor tag along.
In November, we participated in the Extra Life Game-a-Thon in support of kids at CHEO and you were in heaven having a whole day to play video and board games with people you love. You were also great about helping us raise money. We’ve been giving you an allowance since September, and you donated all your charity money to the cause, as well as a bunch of your pocket money. We were very proud. Uncle Mark might have walked into a bit of a dust cloud when you solemnly handed him your sandwich bag of coins.
In order to get your allowance, you have to participate in our “clean-up time” on the weekend, and take care of a few basic tidying tasks during the week. It’s been going very well, and the house looks a lot better now that we have this designated time to work together on tidying things up.
Halloween was lovely this year. We did two volleys of trick or treating: we did some time around our street with Emmett, Theo and his friend. They moved so fast from house to house that I thought your head would spin. You worked hard to keep up! Then we went over to Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark’s street where you took your time at each house. You’d ring the bell, say trick-or-treat, thank you, and tell them, “I’m the Golden Ninja from Ninjago Masters of Spinjitsu,” and stare at them smiling until they waved at you while slowly closing the door. We had to explain that it’s up to you to end the conversation and walk away. It was pretty cute.

Your costume did double duty this year when you wore it to Geek Market, which was a big highlight for you. You came with your pocket money in hand, hoping to find a certain Pokemon stuffie, and lo, you found a tiny Squirtle that became your baby for the next month. You do take good care of your stuffies, my love.

Speaking of stuffies, we introduced you to an old friend of mine. You met Maddie, who I have had since 1996. She’s a lovely little cow, though verbally dyslexic (she says Oom instead of Moo), and she was very happy to meet you. You treat her very tenderly.
You’ve been reading on your own for some time now, but it’s been incredible to watch you this fall. You read voraciously. You read on the toilet, you read the cereal box, you read our text messages as they come in and you’re playing on the tablet (that was a rude awakening), you read signs while in the car, you read whole books while in the car, and you read in bed at night. (You have this head lamp thing I bought in an attempt to get better light for cross-stitching – it makes you look like a demented miner, but it works and you love it.) You’ve moved on from Chirp to Chickadee Magazine, and are very comfortable with Level 2 readers. You can do Level 3, too, if you are interested enough.
Christmas is around the corner, and your excitement is delightful. You have been enjoying the Playmobil advent calendar Grandpa Will and Grandma Anne sent you, and you wrote and posted your first letter to Santa. Your joy when he wrote back was wonderful to behold. And when he sent you that video message, you were pretty amazed. I wonder if this might be the last year for some of the magic, though. You told me in November that you don’t believe in Santa anymore, but I could tell you weren’t terribly confident in that declaration. I told you that it was up to you whether you wanted to believe, and that Santa was real for anyone who did. A few days later, you said you believed.

Most of the time, my love, you are a delight to be around. But there was a period this fall where we really had to crack down on your attitude, and in particular your tone. We also had to explain to you that there was a reason we weren’t spending as much time playing with you… the way you were speaking to us made it less than fun. There has been a great improvement, and I find this encouraging. I know these phases will come and go, but it’s reassuring that we can still turn it around with a bit of work.
Your recent attitude improvement isn’t the only reason the house is a nicer place to spend time these days. We did a huge junk purge in September, and got rid of so much stuff that the basement is finally liveable, and the living room and dining room are much less cluttered. We have been working hard to maintain this, as it makes me happier and more patient, which in turn affects you. You’ve been a real trooper about moving a lot of your toys out of the living room, and I appreciate it.
I love our time together. Whether it’s reading together, playing Doctor Who Yahtzee, chatting in the car on the way to Judo, listening to Elizabeth Mitchell together in the morning, or cuddling at bedtime, you make my day complete. We love you so much, and you are growing more awesome every day. We didn’t think that was possible, but it seems to be. Overall, you are a thoughtful, caring little boy. Thanks for bringing such sunshine into our lives.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dear Moe (June, July and August 2015)

Oh, my bean, what a great summer we had together. It went by so quickly.

We had some lovely play dates. As school was coming to a close, I asked you if there way anyone from your class or from EDP that you wanted to connect with over the summer for play dates. You asked me to reach out to Jojo's parents, and are we ever glad we did. You had two wonderful play dates with Jojo, one at each end of the summer. We had a glorious park date just before school was out, and then we had an end of summer extravaganza celebration with Jojo and her family at Midway Family Funpark. We all had a wonderful time! We love Jojo's parents, and plan to get together with them again. If you and Jojo want to join us, that's super. ;) The two of you play really well together.

We enjoyed a lovely visit from Aunt Natalie, Uncle Darin, Caspian, and Darin's family from South Africa. Caspian absolutely loved playing with you and pretty much thinks you're the best thing since sliced bread. He just wants to do whatever you are doing; it's lovely to watch you play together.

You had lots of experience playing with little people this summer. We took Dorothy on an outing to the park together, and you were wonderful with her. You also spent a few weeks with Robin, and got to see the “day care babies,” as you call them.

We also had some great times with Emmett down the street, and a lovely park date with Wyatt, at which you showed a real talent for softball. 

We had a couple of great backyard playdates with the O'Donnell's, including celebrating Hattie's first birthday. You loved the set-up of sliding down the slide into the wading pool. (We're glad you play well with the O'Donnell girls, because we're adopting their parents, too.) You got to show off your excellent slip-and-slide skills at Keira's birthday party, too – they added soap to the mix, which made it even more slippery!

You did three weeks of day camp this summer: two weeks at Starr Gymnastics and one week at the RA Centre. We will definitely send you to the RA Camp again; you had a great time, and we can even have you in swimming lessons at the same time. Daddy especially enjoyed the four minute commute to pick you up.

Your reading has only improved this summer. You can read entire books to yourself as a means of amusing yourself. Jojo and her family introduced us to the Library Moose and the TD Summer Reading program, and we blew through that log book in no time. We read some great chapter books this summer, including Emma and the Blue Genie, Captain Awesome, Kung-Pow Chicken, and the first three books in the Wizard of Oz series.

Although we didn't go on as many bike rides as I would have liked, we did get you up on your bike and you continue to improve. You even got the hang of starting yourself off a few times, and shouted happily, “MOM! I don't need you anymore!” which was kind of like a knife to my heart when taken out of context, but I was very proud nonetheless.

We had two really, really wonderful trips this summer. In July, we went to Maine with Granny, Uncle Mark and Aunt Janine. We went to the beach every single day. Unlike in past years, you were right into the waves from the start. You still won't swim in the ocean, but you are all about playing in the waves and jumping over them. It was fantastic to watch you. It was a fun-filled week of ice cream, sand-castle building with Uncle Mark (and “making natural,” which is what you called the drizzly towers made out of very wet sand), playing at the arcade, your first round of mini-golf (you could not get over how your ball disappeared like magic on the last hole), walking the length of the beach to get fried clams, kite flying, and collecting rocks and shells. You and Granny built a lovely rock garden in the front yard with your booty.

Our second trip was in August when we flew to Halifax to spend a week with Grandpa Will and Grandma Anne. Your bond with Grandma Anne is something to behold. You stuck to her like glue... until David came home, and then you stuck to him like glue. ;) Our week in Halifax was really lovely. We did a day at the beach where Heather and her boyfriend buried you in sand up to your neck (and you loved it), and you played with the boogie board in the waves. (By this I mean that you played in the waves while holding the boogie board. You did not in fact play WITH the boogie board, but one thing at a time...) We went to the Citadel and you did the Parks Canada Explorer program and we counted canons, hunted for gunpowder, tried on hats and watched the firing of the noon-day gun. Then we walked down to the Discovery Centre, where we had a blast in the bubble room, built a wall, and played with the whisper dishes. It was all very hands on and very fun. We went to the Busker Festival at the Halifax Harbour, which was super crowded, and one of the highlights was listening to a guy play AC/DC's Thunderstruck on the bag-pipes. We had a great time at home with the family, too. You and Heather harvested her herb garden, you had a ping pong tournament with Heather, David and Grandma Anne, and you loved showing off your ninja skills to Grandpa Will. When you said you wished you could be a ninja in real life, Grandpa told you he was actually a wizard and could grant you that wish, but he was missing his magic wand.

The highlight of the Halifax trip was the visit to Upper Clements Park in the Annapolis Valley. It's such a gorgeous location, and it was amazing to see what you could do this year as opposed to last year. You played mini-golf, were all over the slides, had a great time on the rides, but interestingly were not feeling up to crossing the rope bridge as you did last year. You were good for the log flume again, though, and we had a great time.

Late in the summer, we started using screen time coupons, and they have been working well. You can earn 15 or 30 minutes of screen time for being a good listener and making our jobs easier. We also recently started giving you an allowance, contingent on you doing some basic chores.

You made some really great observations this summer, some of which I have recorded here:
  • At one point, I asked you if you'd had a big poop or a small poop, and you said, “I had one big poop and then a whole herd of poop.”
  • While driving in Halifax, we were listening to CBC Radio One, and you exclaimed, “Oh, let's listen to this! It's the same voices that are on Granny's headphones!”
  • You discovered Minecraft and spent a few days walking around the house whapping things with a sword, declaring you were “mining” them.
  • Also due to Minecraft, you spent some time pretending to be a baby ocelot. You were saying “oshawat” at first (it was like a Minecraft-Pokemon mash-up), and that confused us, but we figured it out.
  • You were game to visit the Animals Inside Out exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and I did my best to hide my squeamishness. But when you asked, “What's that?” and I had to respond, “That is... a cat's brain, eyeballs, and spinal column,” you looked at me for a moment and then said, “I think we should a visit a different gallery now, Mom.” Your sensitivity was appreciated.
And suddenly, it was September. You started senior kindergarten a few days ago, and French immersion. You've only had two days of school, but you seem to be positive about it all, and I'm looking forward to watching you learn even more this year. 

Today we began our fall activities with swimming lessons and judo on the same day, and it went better than I could have imagined. You loved your first judo class with Sensei Tina, and you are excited to go back.

I hope you had a wonderful summer, Moe. We loved spending time with you. We often forget that you are only five and a half – you are well spoken, such a great reader, and very observant. You still love to snuggle, have a great sense of humour, and a mischievous smile. I can't wait to see what the fall brings. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Moe (March, April, May and half of June 2015)

My darling boy, it has been too long! The days and weeks are just flying by and I am not finding time to record notes from our adventures much less write them up. But you are thriving and that's what counts.

Your friendship with your buddy Nathan has really blossomed this spring. You two have been pretty much inseparable in the classroom, but in April, when Granny went to England for a few weeks, you spent time after school with Nathan and his family for a few days a week. Obviously, we wanted to reciprocate, so we have invited Nathan to join us on a few of our adventures.

One of those was attending a show at the Centrepointe Theatre called The Great Rhythmobile Adventure. It was like Stomp, but for kids. The two performers made music using all kinds of things - garbage cans, basketballs, plastic bottles. The two of you had a great time, and you were both really good listeners. Nathan's parents often trade off with us on weekends, either taking you for a chunk of a day or sending Nathan our way. It's a great way to keep you occupied! (However, you are starting to understand that this won't last forever, or at least , not in the same way. You know that Nathan and his family are moving to Stittsville this summer, and have started asking if we could change houses and get one next door to them. It will be a sad day when they move.)

Spring finally came and the snow melted, but it was slow to warm up. One of the ways we amused ourselves outside was with the remote control car that Bambi and Simon gave you. We ran it all around the dead end at the end of the street, and you had a great time both running the car and chasing it.

We went to Kemptville for Easter and got the balance bike out for the first time this spring. I injured my ankle in April, so we haven't done too many balance bike rides since then. I'm hoping we can get out for more of them soon. Lately, though, you like to spend your after school time outside in our yard - either playing with Emmett or "playing with your balls," which is how you describe playing with your collection of four inflatable balls that we keep in the backyard by the basketball net.

Daddy organized a table top gaming day at O'Grady's in April (for International Tabletop Day) and we had a great time playing all kinds of board games. Many of your friends came, too, and had a great time playing games for kids. I love how our passions are rubbing off on you.

You discovered a passion for art this year. Ms. Nicoll did a unit where you studied famous artists and then made art inspired by their work, and we heard more about this unit than any other one you've done in school so far. It began with a lot of colour work and culminated in an art gallery night where we came to your class and saw all your work hanging on the walls. Daddy, Grandma, Granny and I all came and we were amazed and delighted by your work.

For me, though, the best part was when you and I went to the National Gallery of Canada for a playdate with Lhotse and Natasha. I was pleasantly surprised as how "not unengaged" you were in the more traditional galleries, and how very engaged you were in the modern galleries.

At the end of our visit, you and I stopped in to the bookstore to try and find a birthday present for Granny. She loves jigsaw puzzles and art, so I thought a puzzle of a work of art might be a good plan. I asked you to help me pick one out. We saw some nice ones by the Group of Seven, but I worried they might be too easy for Granny (she likes a challenge and I like to drive her crazy). Then you spotted something from across the room, and ran over and pointed to it. "Hey," you said, "this is by Mr. Kandinsky! Let's get this one!"

And lo, it totally was by Mr. Kandinsky, and we did get it. I was so proud.

Your television tastes continue to evolve, for better or for worse. I'm all over your love of Wild Kratts and Ninjago, but hope you get over your passion for the old 1980s Mario Brothers TV show soon. I did have a somewhat emotional moment when you watched The Princess Bride for the first time. You seemed to really enjoy it, and didn't even mind that I was saying a lot of the words along with the movie. You've also recently discovered Lego Star Wars on the Xbox. You caught on pretty fast, I must say. Your current favourite song is Puff the Magic Dragon.

By far the biggest highlight of the spring was Mark and Janine's wedding. You were a gem during the ceremony, were super patient during the photos, and did very well during the reception (thanks to the tablet). Then Grandma came to get you and brought you home, and she slept over while Daddy and I had our first night away since you were born.

You were not quite sure what to make of Aunt Janine's dress. First you asked, "Does Aunt Janine look funny?" which really isn't that unreasonable a question, since you are used to seeing her in jeans and a t-shirt. Then you redeemed yourself by saying that her dress was very poufy, which was, I believe, intended as a compliment. :)

Our summer travels began early when we went to visit Samantha and her girls on their dairy farm in Sawyerville for Victoria Day weekend. You had a wonderful time "glamping" in the camper trailer. You played in a shallow river, fed sheep, played with bunnies, enjoyed their play structure, and sat by a campfire until sunset. It was a wonderful weekend, and you have asked several times when we will go back.

Skills assessments have begun in school, and I'm very proud to confirm what I already knew: you are a very strong reader and love to play with words. You were able to read words off the Grade 3 vocabulary list! And I often think of the way Grandpa Will used to make up nonsense rhymes and it makes me smile to see you doing the same thing.

You have just about completed your swimming session, and you did finish your gymnastics session. You'll be doing two weeks of gymnastics camp this summer, but that will be it for you and gymnastics. You have started to get pretty bored of it. So we are signing you up for judo in the fall - we visited the dojo together and you watched a bit of a class and are interested. I hope you'll enjoy it.

The past few days have been very exciting. We got you the next level up from your balance bike - a two wheeler with pedals! You are already making great progress (so great that I can't keep up with you and Uncle Mark's back will probably be stiff tomorrow). I'm sure that if we keep doing a little bit a day each day that the weather is good, you'll be tootling around the neighbourhood on your own very soon.

I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep up these letters, my love, but I'll try! They are such a nice way to record who you are and where you are with your development. Let me tell you a bit about that. You love to learn, and are eager to help in any way you can. You are chatty and excitable and still have to work on not interrupting us. You are kind and loving and can be quite thoughtful. You get distracted easily when it comes to mundane tasks like dressing yourself. You are fantastic at making up games to play. You bring comfort to friends who are having sad days. You are funny and sweet and overall a wonderful person. It's lovely to spend time with you. Keep being the great person you are, and keep developing into the amazing boy you're becoming.

We love you as far as a TARDIS flies. Maybe even farther.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dear Moe (January and February 2015)

Hello, Bean. I’m sorry this letter is so late – we’re just about halfway through March! January feels like it was so long ago. We’ve had a great couple of months, and I wanted to share some of the highlights with you. 

One of the things that have made me so happy over the past few months is your amazing progress in reading. Your school readers have become so simple for you that we invested in a set of Usborne Phonics Readers for you, and I’m so impressed with how well you can read them when you put your mind to it. Obviously, your preference is that I read them to you, but we eventually reach a d├ętente and you do a fair bit of the work. Even when we are reading our Jack and Annie chapter books, you often recognize the words while I’m reading them and will interrupt and ask, “Does this say _____?” while pointing to a word. You love leafing through your Pokemon and CHIMA encyclopedias, and surprised me the other day by pointing to a word on the globe and asking, “Does this say Mexico?” (It totally did.)

One of the Jack and Annie books introduced us to Louis Armstrong, so I took a few minutes to show you some videos of him playing the trumpet. You loved them and wanted to watch them again and again. Another one asked the question, “What are you good at? What do you love to go?” and you answered for yourself, “I like to sit and watch the fire in the fireplace.” 

You have also declared that you would like to be a nurse when you grow up. I think you’d made a great nurse – you are very caring and helpful and are great at taking care of people. You enjoy sending hugs and kisses via text message photos. You are affectionate and loving. You pretty much singlehandedly made cupcakes for Valentine’s Day (with some assistance from Grandma), and generously gave them with people you love. 

You worked hard for over a month on printing your name on Valentine cards for every person in your class. (You even wrote one for Asha the hairdresser because we were going to see her on Valentine’s Day.) We were asked to work with you on your printing in the evenings, and that proved to be a great project for you. Now you choose three “sight word” cards from your POP Sight Words game and practice printing those. 

We made some changes to your room after Christmas – Daddy built you a TARDIS. The “door” is a shower curtain from Grandpa Will and Grandma Anne, the lights inside are from Uncle Mark and Aunt Janine, and they also gave you your own sonic screwdriver. You don’t use the TARDIS a whole lot right now, but we’re hoping that it will become a nice safe hidey hole for you when you need one. 

You greatly dislike going upstairs by yourself, even to the bathroom. You fight it every step of the way. 

Some of the games you’ve enjoyed playing over the last few months include: 

  • “Ninja thief” where you sneak around the house “invisibly” (“Don’t look at me!”) and “steal” things, which you bring to your ninja hiding spot under the dining room table; 
  • Cooperative board games like Race for the Treasure and Hoot Owl Hoot; 
  • Other board games like Mario and Luigi checkers, Spuzzle, Spot It Jr., and My First Carcassone; 
  • Various Wii games Grandma borrows from the library for you to play at her house; 
  • Your first X-Box game, which is a Cars racing game. (It was pretty funny to hear you tell Uncle Mark – the king of racing games – that you’d show him how it’s done.)

It was a birthday party extravaganza for a while – Nathan’s birthday party was in January, then Koen’s, followed by Connor’s, and then yours in February. You certainly didn’t suffer from a shortage of cake. Your own birthday celebrations stretched out over a week! 

We all got snowshoes for Christmas, and I had lovely visions of us heading out on happy treks through the snow every weekend. It has been so insanely cold this winter that we got out on them once. And you spent most of that time playing in the back area with Emmett (who was also wearing snowshoes) – you guys didn’t snowshoe much, you just played while wearing snowshoes. I’m hoping for a better record next winter. But you know, you are your father’s son sometimes. I have to be careful when I plan for us to go outside because once you’ve gotten into the house and settled in, it can be like pulling teeth to get you to leave again. It can be frustrating, but at the same time, I’m glad you love being at home. 

Your behaviour in school has changed over the past two months, and I suspect it’s because you are finally really comfortable there. But you’ve been what your teacher calls “hands on” with other students, playing somewhat roughly. Usually, it’s out of joy or excitement, but occasionally you’ve lashed out in anger. We are working to remind you that there are times and places for “hands on” play, but that school is never one of them. You’ve also gone back and forth quite a bit with potty training regression, which has been frustrating for everyone, but we’re trying to be kind of laid back about it because we don’t want to you to stop telling us when you’ve had an accident. (In the interest of accident prevention, we have put the DS away for a few months.) 

You completed your first swim session at the Salamander level, and we’ve signed you up for more lessons at that level for April and May. You’ve made great progress, but need to work on coming up for air and then being able to go back under. 

We’ve signed you up for another session of gymnastics, but after this one we’re going to take a break for the summer. We decided this for two reasons: we’ll be away so many weekends and you’ll miss classes, and you are losing your ability to focus on the coach when in a group. Your teacher at school has noticed this too – you are really easily distracted when in a group and have a hard time focusing on instructions. We’ll keep working on it. 

You are still wonderfully affectionate and loving. You play hard, wearing out the knees in your pants, and hug and kiss with as much enthusiasm. You are still a wonderful admirer of beauty, which I hope continues, and enjoy listening to music over dinner. You are fun, love being funny and cute and silly, and you bring much joy to our lives. Sometimes I get sad that you’re getting so big, but every new stage is fun in its own way. Keep trying to be a good, caring person who “fills buckets” of the people around him. We love you. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Lesser of the Weevils

I have a hormonal imbalance, which has led to all kinds of interesting side effects. One of them is ovarian pain. Sometimes it's just a twinge of pain, and other times it just about puts me on the floor. 

Last March, things got so bad that I went to an ob/gyn to find out what I could do. He put me on HRT. We started with the birth control pill. (The irony didn't escape me.) 

I was on the pill for a few months, but the idea was kiboshed by my internalist, who was concerned that this kind of HRT might play havoc with my FNH (because there is always a risk that it isn't an FNH). So we moved to a transdermal gel for HRT - Estrogel Propak. The dose was lower, and it wasn't taken orally, so better for my liver. 

The Estrogel HRT made me really moody (like, I could feel my mood swing throughout the day as I got closer to the next dose or further away from the last one), it made me really tired, and... it made me really, really itchy. The itching eventually subsided from "crazy ass insane" to "just kind of maddening and only sometimes," but after Christmas, I decided that enough was enough and in early January, I went off the Estrogel. Result? More stable mood, more energy, and way less insane itchiness. 

But the ovarian pain came back today. 

I need to do some careful thinking, weighing the ovarian pain vs. all the unpleasant side effects of the HRT. Either way, though, I've spent a good deal of time during the past few months muttering dark thoughts about various parts of my endocrine system. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dear Moe (November and December)

Happy New Year, my amazing little bean! 

November and December of 2014 were a wonderful time. You kicked off November with a slightly belated Halloween party at Robin’s house, which involved decorating cookies, lots of crafts, and even a little bonfire in the yard. It was a magical afternoon for you and all the guests. You’ve had a number of lovely days with Robin the past two months, between PD days and the two first days of Christmas break. We are so pleased that you can continue your relationship with her family. She loves having you there because you keep Alex and Nick occupied, and you love being there because you adore playing with them.

Considering that you have been playing with more than twenty other kindergarteners every day, you have remained remarkably healthy this fall. (Knock on wood.) You’ve had the usual sniffles and cough, combined with a blocked nose of epic proportions, but have remained pretty much fever free. You and I went for our flu shots in early November, and you were an incredible trooper. Our strategy of immediate reward by chocolate milk is still working, and I intend to keep that up as long as it works. (It also helps that I don’t call it a “flu shot” – I talk instead about how the doctor is going to give us some medicine to keep us healthy.)

You have had some wonderful visits with great friends. We had about three weekends in a row of time with Bambi, and it was great to have her around. You love her very much. I know this, because you told her so. She was getting ready to leave at one point, and said, “It was nice to see you, buddy!” and you said, “Yeah, I actually love you. Do you want to see my Chima Lego?” I don’t know if she saw the Lego or not, because she stood there for a moment like she’d been shot in the heart with a rainbow. 

We were so lucky to also have a visit from Evan and Megan, who were in town over American Thanksgiving. You greatly enjoyed showing them your room, watching Dooze balance on Evan’s head, and generally entertaining them with your antics. I love that you know who they are and that you enjoy their company so much. 

We had a great snowfall in early December, and you “called on” a neighbour for the first time (as opposed to playing with him because you both happened to be outside at the same time). We knocked on Emmett’s door and asked him to come out and play. We spent the better part of two hours outside playing in the snow with him and his family. We built a snowman and a snow slide. I’m glad we had that experience because within a week, the snow had pretty much all melted. But as I type this, there are reports of a snowy weekend ahead, so I’m confident we’ll be out there again soon. 

Of course, the holidays were also a great opportunity to see and play with friends and family. The Rendells visited from Newfoundland, and despite the fact that you only see Ruben and Jessie once every year or so, I marvel at how beautifully you all play together. You had two fantastic play dates, and kept each other so happily occupied that I barely even minded the play-doh all over my living room. We went to Toronto after Christmas for a quick weekend visit, and you also played very well with Aidan and Maya, and shared your toys very nicely with them. I was very proud of you. 

You had some great adventures this month. Daddy and I attended a concert downtown one Sunday afternoon, so we drove you and Granny downtown with us, and she took you to the Bytown Museum (you love the model of the locks) before bringing you home on the bus. You had a wonderful time, walked like a champ, and didn’t complain at all about the distance. Granny took care of you for two days during the Christmas break, too, and she brought you to a movie (Penguins of Madagascar) and to the Canadian Museum of Nature. You love taking the bus with Granny. In fact, when she picks you up from school two days a week, you are often a bit disappointed if she has brought the car. 

Starting in January, you’ll have weekly adventures with Grandma, too! She’s actually taken you to Funhaven for the day today (she’s the only one in our family who can cope with the chaos of these places – if it weren’t for her, you’d never go, so be grateful), and will be picking you up from school two days a week. I know how much Granny enjoys her afternoons with you and I’m so pleased that Grandma will have this special time with you, too. 

You and I had our own great bus adventure on Christmas Eve. I brought you into work with me for the morning. The morning commute went beautifully – it could not have gone better, in fact. We rode most of the way sitting on the top floor of a double decker bus, in the front seat. You were delighted to be able to see so much, and from so high up. You had a nice time at the Christmas party for kids at my office, and you and Amelia enjoyed helping me make the hot cocoa. When it was time to go home, though, things got complicated. Because everyone was sent home at noon on Christmas Eve, the buses weren’t able to accommodate everyone. We waited an hour for a bus to taken us over the bridge to Ottawa. We didn’t spend that whole hour waiting at the bus stop, though. We walked to a taxi stand and called for a cab (we bailed on this idea because it was too long a wait), and we went to Second Cup for lunch. By the time we got home, it was after two o’clock. I was exhausted. You did beautifully. I can’t even explain how amazingly patient you were. 

Christmas preparations and celebrations seem to have lasted all month long. We attended a Christmas Farmers Market at the Aberdeen Pavilion early in the month, where you fell in love with one exhibitor’s toy train. We broke out the Christmas books. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Mater Saves Christmas, but still greatly enjoy reading Christmas Wombat. We went to Kemptville for a Christmas festival, and you met Santa Claus there and sat on his knee. This is the first time you’ve had any interest in doing this. You told him that all you wanted for Christmas was a toy Dusty plane. Santa sent you a video message suggesting that you just might get one. Christmas morning was a happy time. 


Daddy, Granny, Grandma and I were so proud to attend your first school holiday concert. You and 130 other kindergarteners sang beautiful songs in the school gym, and then you took us back to your classroom to show us how you could play the hand bells so nicely. You also built a candy house at school, and enjoyed a “PJ day” on the last day before the holidays. For PJ day, you were allowed to bring a stuffed animal to school, and you chose Sheep. It was with real pride and delight that I listened to you coaching your furry friend, “I have exciting news, Sheep! Today is PJ day so you’re coming to school with me. I know you don’t know much about school because you have never been there, but I know about it, so I’ll show you.” And then, at the end of the day, I asked which stuffie your friend Nathan had brought to school. You said he hadn’t brought one, and that’s why you shared Sheep with him. That, my darling, is the spirit of Christmas right there. 

You learned more about that through another adventure. I chose the name of a four-year-old boy through my work’s Christmas Wish Cloud Campaign, and you chose his gift. (I explained that you were the expert on what a four-year-old boy would want for Christmas if he could only have one thing.) You very carefully selected a Spider-Man play set. You had lots of questions about this little boy, and I wasn’t able to answer too many of them because I didn’t have the answers. I don’t know if he has parents or where he goes to school. I don’t know where he lives. Although you were disappointed that you would not be able to give him you gift in person, it was a very good experience for you to choose a gift for someone you would never meet. We are already prepping you to choose some of your older toys to donate to kids who need them. 

We celebrated Christmas Eve at Mark and Janine’s with their families, and you had a lovely time, although the presence of four dogs made you a bit nervous. By the end of the evening, though, you declared you loved them all. You enjoyed hanging out with Fiona, although her father Rog was a bit appalled when she brought you upstairs to show you her bed. Christmas morning was at our house with Granny and Grandma, and then we had a restful day until Christmas dinner at Grandma’s house. It was a casual meal, and you loved opening your Christmas cracker and wearing the crown and sitting in front of the TV table to eat your meal. The next day, we drove to Toronto to spend a weekend with Tia and Tio and Isabel and their family. You and I went for a great walk – in your PJs! – to admire the decorations on their street and hit the drugstore to replace my toothbrush, which I had forgotten. On New Year’s Day, we had a visit from Grandpa Leo and Debi, and had yet another little Christmas. People were very generous, and we’ve tried to make you understand (even a little bit) how fortunate we are. 

You will be getting back to school next week after two weeks off. You have had a very successful first semester at school. Daddy and I attended a parent-teacher interview in November, and were proud (and a bit surprised, frankly) to hear what a great listener you are there. You do tend to move slowly and dilly-dally about getting dressed to go outside, and sometimes your play with your friends becomes a bit “hands-on” when things get very exciting. But these comments were far outweighed by those describing how well you express yourself verbally, how much you enjoy being at school, your eagerness to learn, and the other skills you are learning. We are working on fine-motor-skills at home – you love using your “scizzurps” (you know they are called scissors but love saying it that way) and we’ll focus on holding that pencil and writing letters once you’ve back at school and into a routine again. You have come home with beautiful projects – Paperbag Princess puppets (which we used for weeks to read the story), painted dragons, and a great painted shield. There’s even a bag of projects that we haven’t had time to open yet. 

One interesting thing I keep hearing from you about school is how you draw “water eaters.” The first time I heard of this was when you brought home a picture you had drawn for Thanksgiving. You were asked to draw something you were thankful for. You drew a water eater. I’m not clear whether this is a creature that is made of water or that eats water or both, but I’m curious, and I can’t wait to hear more about them. 

We read stories together every night before bed, and we also use that time to go through your school “sound book” and have you read your school reader to me. It has been really great to see how well you are rising to the challenge for more complex readers. Another part of our nightly ritual is how Daddy carries you from the big bed to your bed… by your ankles. I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do that, so enjoy it! You seem to have grown so much in the past few months. You can reach all the light-switches without using a stool. You take up much more space on the couch and in your bed. 

You are so sweet and affectionate, little bean. You like to pretend you are a baby creature – a bird, a wombat, a kitten – and climb into my lap for cuddles. The other day, you took a break from play and came and sat on my knee for about ten minutes while I sang “Freight Train” to you again and again. You love giving hugs and kisses, and being “cozy” and warm with a fuzzy blanket and a soft pillow. You also love to be nurturing and sweet to your stuffed animals. You like to play that they are the baby creature and you take care of them. It’s heartwarming to see. I hope you keep that nurturing ability for the rest of your life. 

I hope 2015 brings you joy and learning and laughter and friendship, my little love. I can’t wait to savour it with you.