Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Letter to (Four Year an Seven Month Old) Graves

 Dear Graves,

We've been having lots of fun lately!

Papa took y'all on a few nature hikes, complete with binoculars and colored pencils for sketching. And then we took a whirlwind trip to North Mississippi. We left one morning, drove up the beautiful Natchez Trace, meet my aunt and uncle for lunch and enjoyed a bit of Main Street in New Albany, drove by my grandmother's old house and laughed out loud thinking of her, then checked into our cabin at Tishomingo State Park and, with just enough daylight left, went on a gorgeous two mile hike including this swinging bridge we all loved. We ate a frozen pizza and enjoyed the cottage with no Internet and no neighbors to have to alter our night party routine for (I told Papa that was a huge benefit to a hotel and you said "or an apartment!"). The next morning we got up and drove to Oxford to meet our friends who were in town from Chicago. We ate a wonderful lunch at Ajax and spent a little time on the square and headed home around four thirty. It was such a great little trip and I think you had a delightful time.

I will say that when you bite through your lip on vacation it's nice when your papa conveniently brought along a whole bottle of ice.

We also had a fun Halloween. You was a knight, Annie was a dragon, Papa was Wicked Witch again and I was Jane Goodall (you enjoyed holding my stuffed chimpanzee I brought along some of the time). 

Something I will never take for granted- having two "babysitters" for y'all that raised me and that have admitted to loving you and Annie as much as they love me and Cookie. Papa and I went to a little party awhile back and y'all stayed with them. I don't know who had more fun- us, Mickey and Minnie, or the babies. We ate yummy snacks, visited with friends, and enjoyed a fun band. Y'all made shadow puppets, watched Keyboard Cat on YouTube, and drank Canada Dry.  

What else?

Your not near as much of a creature of routine and ritual as your sister and I, but almost every afternoon these days you ask for "pecans, peanuts, raisins, and craisins" for a snack.

Parched peanuts are your FAVORITE though, and awhile back, he go "Can I have some more peanuts? They'll calm me down." Apparently I now have two kids who have my number.) 

This was another thing I heard myself say recently: "Graves, you ate FOUR donuts?!?" And your response? "Well, I didn't know what the number was. Counting isn't our strength, nor is paying attention but I have NO IDEA why you're still in the bottom percentiles. 

You're transitioning out of jon jons, but I didn't have it in her to buy your first belt just yet so you've been wearing some little suspenders and also sweater vests on cooler Sundays.

We had been using a devotion I LOVED as part of "morning school", but it's honestly always been way over your head and lately it got to be a bit much even for Annie. I heard about this one year curriculum for first graders that also seemed like it would be more appropriate for you and, after reading some of the book that explains the whole program, I took the plunge. After the first week, y'all both seem a lot more engaged. The first week we spent reading about the parable of the lost coin. One day we searched for numbered/lettered coins in sand to help us figure out the answer to an important question. And we listed to a little Rain for Roots (per Annie's suggestion). It's been really low pressure-- I get the whole week to talk about how much that coin meant to the woman and how that's just a small picture of how much you guys mean to God. That's all. That's all I want you to learn and I want it to be y'alls favorite part of the day. Some Rain for Roots lyrics I love: "Say you had ten silver coins and one silver coin got lost. Your treasure, your wealth; in the cracks, in the filth...light the lamp, sweep the floors; then call up all your friends, Rejoice with me, I've for my silver coin again! // If God had a child who wandered far astray...He'd say, go get the lost one, he's who I came to see, he thought he was an orphan, but he's coming home to me...the angels are rejoicing, the sinner is my friend, Rejoice with me, my child is coming home again!"

One of your absolute favorite thing is building. Honestly, the only time when you're content during rest time for more that a little stretch is when you're "working on" something at your toolbench. Recently you made a "vehicle" by attaching Wheely Bug to your suitcase (just using the handles!) and adding your sleeping bag and a balloon. You and Annie are SO different and I love watching your unique interests develop. 

You've also taken to climbing up the door facings, which was something I LOVED to do as a little girl.  

Awhile back, I found Annie going over this print out we got at Tishomingo, trying to determine if this stuffed snake y'all have is venomous. Hysterical story about how we came by him-- you traded best friend Jude one of Papa's old trucks for him (thankfully nobody was very sentimental about that one and we did end up having a talk to make sure we didn't accidentally trade any prized Star Wars figures or Beanie Babies from Cookie that are on loan until she has her own kids). Anyway, it's been months and you and Annie are still pretty enamored with this snake the Howies bought at a garage sale and we found in their van.

Speaking of stuff people in this house are pretty sentimental about. Back when we were making trips to Mickey and Minnie's storage unit , Papa had to dig Hushpuppy and Teddy Graham out. I'd be damned if I was going to let his childhood stuffed animals burn down with the house (because I have anxiety and was sure our house was going to burn down while we weren't living in it). Annie got pretty obsessed with Teddy Graham, like strangely obsessed (like talked about him in a weird voice obsessed) but that's mostly worn off. And for awhile you may totally have decided "Hush" was a real dog that belonged to you (although AP is the one who kept his treats and dog toys in her purse). You've gradually moved on to other things too, but it's so funny to watch what y'alls interests change and develop, especially quirky ones that become all encompassing.

It's been interesting and different lately since we found out we were expecting a new baby. You guys have enjoyed many an evening full of Planet Earth (hey, at least y'alls excess of screen time consists of large portions of a five hundred and eighty minute long BBC bird docu).

One night I threw the you guys in your room and got in bed myself, so sick, by about 8:30. Then I heard the most perfect bit of Ordinary Wonder to end my long day. Annie has started reading to you in bed more and more and I just closed my eyes and really listened. She read you your tiny set of Maurice Sendak books that you've come to love so much. Her little voice was so soft and soothing but I could tell every time there was an exclamation point by how it raised a bit higher. Y'alls giggles were such sweet music. Sometimes, when I feel like everything is crashing down around me God whispers to me through your little voices.  

You are adamant that the baby is YOURS; it just needs to grow in my tummy. You tell anyone who will listen that the baby was your idea but that you will share him (you're convinced it's a boy) with the rest of us.
AP is just our little pragmatist. I was telling you that you're going to have to start being more careful and not being so rough so he won't kick my tummy. You asked why and before I could answer Annie goes "Well Graaaves, it would be just like kicking a very young baby. Does that sound like a good idea to you??"

I overheard you telling Annie that "Tootsie Rolls are too spicy for babies". Hysterical because you were so on point. Found out the hard way after I had a couple and they came right back up.

One of the hardest things I've done lately is when I had to apologize to you for being much too hard on you. You are truly possibly the kindest person I know and I had treated you so terribly. Just because you have so much energy and I'm so ill-equipped and anxiety prone and some days I feel like I'm very much drowning. I could never tell you how much I love you or what a gift you are, sweet boy.

You, saying your prayers: "Thank your for Annie, General, Darth, Momma, and mostly Papa". I wish my prayer life was as earnest and sincere as yours.

You and Annie are hysterical together. One night you got banished to your bed for the duration of the night. You became thirsty and we observed AP wetting and rewetting a single piece of dental floss and bringing it to your bedside to soothe you. Guys, we allow y'all cups.

Papa found this "party light" (disco light) online for $4 and night parties just kicked it up a notch. Actually, unsurprisingly, you are obsessed with the rave scene in your room but it's given Annie a little bit of anxiety. 

The other night I also came in y'alls room around one in the morning. You were both wearing a clearance 6-12 mo. (purchased this year) monster costume from Walgreens and creating dramatic productions with Steggie and your circa 1960 cowboys and Indians.

Here's another recent interaction:
(9:45PM National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers quiz)
AP: "Is this a gulf?"
You: "No"
AP: "Is this a gulf?"
You: "No"
AP: "Actually, that *was* a gulf"

Follow up:
AP: "Is this a wiver (how Graves STILL pronounces river)?"
Look, you may need speech or something but plans are in place to have you start kindergarten at a fourth grade geography level.

And then this:
"Hold it by your trunk and then put it on"-- in the day's adventures of Elephant and Elephant Trainer, you were teaching Annie to dress herself.

Or this:
Graves: "Hey Momma, come look! I put my dinosaur to sleep!" (I found AP in dress up clothes pretending to be asleep in the bathroom cabinet....where you had put her).

Papa may just get his wish- maybe we'll never end up buying this third baby a bed. You and Annie love to pick one of y'alls beds and fall asleep in it together. Also, that owl they're both cuddling with? It was the first stuffed animal we ever bought and also the first toy Annie ever even asked for in a store. Most of y'alls toys are hand me downs/our old stuff (lately, y'all have been playing with some cowboys and Indians from like the 60s that we discovered )/things we picked to surprise y'all with. 

This is such a sweet spot in so many ways. She now quizzes you on the BrainQuest cards herself. And she totally gets your active learning style and just follows your around the house doing it.

And I guess that's where I'll conclude this month. The way you and Annie love, serve, and protect each other and the way it inspires me to love harder and more fearlessly.  

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. I'm pretty sure you just have on undies under your covies and they are a 2T. We REALLY need to get some new ones!

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