Monday, March 12, 2018

Dear Tate,

Dear Tate,

Man, I can't believe you're 9.  This birthday hit us a little hard as we realized that you're halfway to 18.  Halfway through living with us and we're halfway through our time raising you in our home.  You seem so grown up in a lot of ways this year.  

This year of your life you've traveled to Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Germany, France, and of course, the U.S., Saudi and Bahrain.  Seeing you surf in Sri Lanka was a highlight for us.  You and your brother just popped right up over and over again and it was a favorite parenting moment to watch you learn and dig in at something unique like that.  Playing with Andrew in France was a highlight for you.  And for us.  You two are very similar and could just chat in the back seat of a van or walking around a market for hours on end.  It was interesting to overhear a few of your conversations and recognize that your instincts are good, your heart is in the right place, and also that the topics of conversation are changing.  You're growing up a little bit and you have mixed feelings about it some days.  This was the first trip where you didn't want to get a stuffed animal for a souvenir and that made shopping for a souvenir a little tricky.  And a little sad.  You didn't really know what to choose since you were out growing stuffed animals.  It's a funny in-between phase.  Not quite a child, but not quite a teen yet.  We'll get you through it all right.

This has been a big year.  Your baptism over the summer was relaxed and perfect.  The spirit was so strong when you came out of the water with that big smile on your face and gave your dad a huge hug.  We are so proud of you and the way you've upped your game this year.  You've been using Grampa's prayer coin to remind you to pray every morning and evening.  You remind us when we haven't prayed before a meal or that we need to read scriptures before stories at bed time.  You try to be reverent and answer questions during FHE.  You're trying to be more reverent and figure out what the sacrament means to you.  You're very concerned about your little cousin, Mads and you never forget to mention him in your prayer and he's always the first person you think of when we ask what you want to fast for each month. 

You finished second grade off well and seemed to have a good experience with Mr. Bremmer.  This year you have Mrs. McGee.  She seems to be a good fit.  She's positive and calm and has high expectations without being a disciplinarian.  There's no homework in her class, which you love.  She's been really great at keeping an eye on you and helping you manage situations that make you anxious.  You had a few months of OT this fall to work on your handwriting and it's improved so much.  

This year has been very busy.  You and your brother both played 3-4 sports in the fall and the spring and it's been MUCH busier than previous years.  I can't imagine how busy it will be when your sisters are old enough to add their activities to the schedule.  This fall you played soccer, basketball, had swimming lessons and OT.  This spring you're in gymnastics, tennis, and basketball.  Your dad coaches you in most everything and he knows how to push you and still make it fun and positive. You've decided that soccer is not your thing.  You just didn't love it.  You like basketball more and you are getting quite good at tennis.  You've got a great arm.  Wendy Weitzel is teaching you and Finn along with her two kids and we were very lucky to get in with her.  She's a great coach and you're improving a lot.  You've also started cub scouts this year.  You seem to like it and it's only 1-2 times a month.  Your leaders are Naomi Killough and Leslie Arnold and a lot of kids from our group are in there with you.  You've been able to go on a couple of overnight camping trips with your Dad and I think you've really enjoyed having that experience.  

With piano practice and sometimes multiplication flashcards or an extra math worksheet, our afternoons fill up quickly.  You feel busy and that can be overwhelming.  You don't want to drop any of your activities but you feel busy.  Hopefully we're squeezing in enough down time and fun, especially on the weekends, to keep you having fun and being a kid.  It's a tricky age because we want you to be able to try anything and everything you want to while you're still young so you can figure out which things are your favorites.  But we don't want to over-schedule you or our family.  Once again, kiddo, the fact that you're our first kid means that we're trying to figure things out right along with you.  We love you so so much, Tate and we're glad that you're patient with us as we try to help you along and learn how to parent you.  

This year you've been able to sign up for a club to attend once a week after school and you signed up for chess first, then lego building, and next is 3-d printing.  You love playing with legos.  Building the sets is fun.  But you could spend hours putting together tiny creations with different pieces.  Robots, vehicles with awesome weapons, etc.  Your favorite creations are usually small but have really developed stories that go along with them.  You also love reading and playing with your friends.  Fablehaven has been a favorite series this year.  You finished the whole series and you enjoyed the mythical creatures and legends that tied into their adventures.  We've been reading Harry Potter 4 and now 5 at night together and you still love those stories.  You've been going through some friend shifts a bit this year.  A couple of your friends haven't shown the kindest sides and you're feeling like you need to make some changes with how you spend your recesses.  It's been hard for you to figure out how to still be kind to them but not be with them all the time.  You're working through it though.  You've got a lot of kids who are friends and are really good kids.  We're lucky right now.  This year you got some roller blades at the sports equipment swap and you've taken to them really quickly.  Any time it's nice out you want to be outside playing with squirt guns or skating or riding your bike.  

You're getting to be a better eater.  You'll eat broccoli and green beans without too much persuasion.  You don't love them, but you'll eat them. You'll pretty much always eat chicken.  You'll eat apple slices with your sandwich every day.  Always with a fork.  You don't want to touch them.  You're so funny.  You don't love sauces.  If we make pasta, chicken, or anything with a sauce you'd prefer to have it on your plate before we put the sauce on.  You're not a dipper either.  You don't like ranch or ketchup.  No sauces.  You like eggs and breakfast is definitely your favorite meal.  You don't love when things are mixed.  I totally relate to that.  We had bacon wrapped green beans last night and you just kind of wanted them separate and then you would eat them both.

Piano is going well this year.  You are supposed to practice your technic every morning before school and then we do the songs after school.  You get in there and get your technique done by yourself and rarely need to be reminded.  You like to have a checklist.  Just like me.  You love checking things off as you play them and making sure you know the correct tempos and keys.  Chores are pretty much a breeze.  You can clean a bathroom all by yourself now and we just check on the quality when you're done.  On Saturdays we do chores and a really good piano practice and you just know to expect it and hardly ever complain.  Sometimes we let you order books from book orders at school and you are highly motivated to do extra chores to earn them.   

Tate, your siblings love you.  You and Finn can disappear into a lego box or play with squirt guns or bikes in our cul-de-sac all afternoon if we let you.  You guys rarely fight.  You certainly know how to bother him and he knows how to bother you, but for the most part you two are great buddies.  This year you've been getting more involved with your sisters.  They're quite a bit younger than you but you read them books if we ask you to and push them on the swings.  They love to have water fights with spray bottles and don't mind you soaking them one bit as long as they get to play with you.  I think that might change, but for now they like it. 

You're a remarkable boy, Tate-o.  You're very smart. You did your first standardized testing at school this year and you did exceptionally well.  You've got a tender heart and feel and cry easily when you feel sad or even when something sad happens to someone else or someone in a story.  You want everything to be good and kind and smooth and it breaks your heart a little when that doesn't happen.  You try to do what's right and you can be really hard on yourself if you feel like you've done something wrong.  You can be a complete goof and you love to be wrestled or chased.  

We love you so much, Tate.  We've had so much fun watching you grow for the past 9 years.  We're very proud of who you are and we know you're going to do amazing things in your life.  

The world is yours, my boy.

Love,

Mom


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