Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Liebster Award


Look everyone, we got a facelift! Hats off to my friend Alison, who made my awesome new logo and design. Isn't it cute? Note the bee (for Thora, whose middle name is Bea) and the dragonfly for Freyja. The dragonfly represents PCH to us because kids with PCH have a malformation of their cerebellum that takes the shape of a dragonfly on their MRI scans. 

In other news, this blog has been nominated for a 2017 Liebster Award. I would like to thank Hope For Katherine Belle for their support and for nominating me for this fantastic award. Here’s how the process works: 

Bloggers are nominated by their peers. Once they are nominated, they look for blogs that speak to them and have less than 200 readers per month, and then they nominate those bloggers – paying it forward. Upon nomination, The Liebster Award Nominees are asked to answer 10 questions.

Here are the 10 questions Glenda at Hope For Katherine Belle asked me:

Q: Can you tell readers about yourself and your blog?
A:  I'm a mom of two girls, one with special needs. Native New Yorker. Introvert. Writer. Adoptee. Married to my best friend. Not your typical mom, wife or anything else.
I've always kept a diary or a journal. Writing helps me make sense of the world around me, and I use it as a means to understand myself and my feelings. When my first daughter was born, I thought I'd never have the time to write again. A friend told me that she started a blog about her kids to keep her friends and family involved and up to date with everything the kids were doing, and I thought that was a great idea. So the blog was well underway before Freyja was born. I wrote about her delays and my growing concerns and then about her diagnosis. But it's not a special needs blog; rather it's a blog that chronicles a very unique family from my point of view. 

Q: Something surprising you’ve learned from starting your own blog?
A:  I have solved a lot of problems through writing. I have been able to process feelings I didn't even realize I had and work through major challenges. So it's more than a snapshot of what's happening in our lives. I am very real, very open. I've learned a lot about myself just by putting myself out there and letting myself be vulnerable.

Q: Do you have periods when you want to abandon your blog, and if so, what brings you back?
A: I wish that I had more time to write, to update the blog more with all the amazing, beautiful, crazy things that happen in our lives that I want the world to know about and maybe even to turn this blog into something more, like a book. But I don't know how to market myself, my writing or my blog. I don't know how to take that next step. When I don't make the time to update more often or even really think through what next steps could look like, I get frustrated with myself and feel like I should give up. And when I do write, I am very honest in these pages. I sometimes think about the people who might read what I say and I get shy and embarrassed of my tendency to overshare. I do occasionally think about abandoning ship. But I haven't yet; thankfully that always passes. 

Q: Where would you go if you could travel anywhere in the world?
A: I love to travel. When I'm traveling for pleasure I either want to be in a new place, seeing as much of it and learning as much about it as I can, or I want to be in the same exact place we go to every year at the very tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with an iced coffee in one hand and a book in the other.

Q: Do you have a blogging mentor?
A: Not really. I admire my friend Brenna at Suburban Snapshots and my friend Jesse at JesseAnneO. They are both such wonderful writers with an important message and a sense of humor. I also have several friends who are writers or in publishing (or both) and I have learned a great deal from them. My friend Missy Church, poet and author of Church, has been a constant source of inspiration to me for many years. 

Q: What was your proudest achievement (life in general)?
A: I was really proud to have a short piece published in The New York Times a couple of years ago. Apart from that, I am most proud of the family that my spouse and I have created and the work I do professionally.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." George Bernard Shaw

Q: What do you think your blog says about you?
A: I think it says, "here's a wildly imperfect grownup who has no idea what she's doing, figuring it all out a day at a time." 

Q: Where do you see your blog in five years?
A: It's hard to say. I write from the heart. I have always written and I will continue to write as long as I live. Where and how I can't be sure. I hope that someday I will have more time to dedicate to my writing. But I don't know what kinds of turns this blog will take because we don't have a sense of Freyja's prognosis long term, and I don't know how my children will feel about me writing so publicly about them as they get older. I could see myself turning excerpts from our lives into a book at some point, but I don't even know how to begin to make that happen.

Q: How do you relieve stress and unwind?
A: I spend every moment I can with my family. I also love to cook, read, walk, and do yoga.

Bonus Questions:

Q: What one piece of advice would you give other new bloggers?
A: Just keep writing!
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Q: What is your favorite drink?
A: Decaf cold brew coffee that I make at home and drink with unsweetened vanilla almond milk over ice.
Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A: I don't need an alarm clock. The pitter patter of an early bird's feet on the stairs wakes me up every morning "in the sixes" (as she puts it) like clockwork. 
Q: What is the last thing you do at night before you close your eyes?
A: Kiss Johnny goodnight.

Now it’s my turn to nominate some fellow bloggers! All of the ones I selected are written by parents of special needs kiddos, most of them are people I've met PCH kids like Freyja. With this I hope to raise awareness of PCH and the severity of Freyja's neurological disorder. 
My 6 nominees for the Liebster Award 2017:
·         Avleigh's Journey
·         The Adventures of Little Man
·         Homemade Hope
·         The Eye of the Storm
·         Ainsley Rae
·         Lyla's Angels

Upon accepting this nomination, it becomes your turn to write your Liebster Award 2017 acceptance and nominate some fellow deserving blogs. In your post you’ll need to follow these Liebster Award rules:
·         Thank the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award (http://www.teenyandthebee.com/)
·         Link back to the blogger who nominated you (http://www.teenyandthebee.com/ )
·         Upload the award to your blog. It can be done as a blog or on the sidebar.
·         Answer the questions you have been asked. (see below)
·         Nominate 5 blogs with followers less than 200 that you believe deserve to receive the award. If you feel others deserve the award, then you are welcome to nominate more.
·         Notify the nominated bloggers so that they can accept the award. Bloggers can be nominated more than once, giving their readers more chances to learn more about them.
Our Questions for My Nominees Are:
1.      Can you tell readers about yourself and your blog?
2.      When and why did you start writing?
3.      Do you have periods when you want to abandon your blog, and if so, what brings you back?
4.      What makes your blog different from others out there?
5.      What was your proudest achievement (life in general)?
6.      What is a typical day like for you?
7.      What is your favorite book?
8.      What is your favorite quote?
9.      What do you think your blog says about you?
10.  Where do you see your blog in five years?

I look forward to your responses!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Message In A Bottle

If you were here right now, you would be here. With me. I might have texted you earlier to tell you what a total crap day today was, what a shit week it’s been and what a completely challenging month I’ve had, and you would have dropped everything to come to me. You would have acted like there was nothing in the world more important than being with me, like there was nothing in the world at all other than me. Never mind that it's your birthday, that you probably have a million other people to see and things to do. For this moment, you let me feel that it's all about me. That is just what you do.

You'd materialize, full of energy, and tell me to grab a scarf and a jacket because we were going out. You'd take me for a fancy massage or to buy a pair of shoes. We'd sit at one of our favorite restaurants and order way too much and I'd talk and you'd listen and you'd wince at my stories and mutter "oooh, that stupid fucker" or "you tell 'em" or some such under your breath as I poured my heart out to you, making me feel like you were my number one fan, my cheerleader. To you, I was always right. Those stupid fuckers just didn't get it, they just didn't understand us.

You'd hold my hand, insist I take the leftover food home for lunch tomorrow, maybe slip me a check when I wasn't looking, with a scribbled note not to spend it on bills but to buy myself something completely frivolous. You'd pass along a book you just finished reading because you knew I'd like it too, you'd put me in a cab and make sure I got home safe. You would text me the next day, asking about that stupid fucker so-and-so. A week later something might appear in my mailbox: a note, another book, some tiny thing that only you would know I wanted or needed. You had a way of making me feel so loved and so important. You didn't hold back. 

Since you've been gone, I've grown a lot. I have had to face so many new and scary things. I do things I never thought I would be able to do, fight for things I never thought I would have to fight for. I look at my babies -- not babies anymore -- and think of you, at that restaurant on Cortelyou, that day when everything changed. Neither of us eating, you holding my brand new firstborn, touching her nose, her cheeks. I think about the text I sent you ten months later -- no words, just the picture of the stick and the little plus sign. You were the first to know. I think of how tragic it is that my girls don't know you. They're growing into beautiful, strong, brave humans. I know you would be so proud of them. In my mind's eye I see you reading to them, advocating for them, snuggling them. You'd be there some afternoons to greet them as they come off the schoolbus. You'd read to them often, give us date nights monthly, go apple picking with us every year. You’d know better than the rest of us how to put Freyja’s braces on, how to get her to swallow a pill, how to get both of them to try new foods. You’d brush Thora’s hair and let Freyja try on all your jewelry, sit patiently through puzzles and Legos and hours of coloring. I think you'd approve of the kind of mom I am becoming, and this thought is more validating than any other compliment or vote of confidence I've ever gotten. And then I remember the last thing you ever said to me, six and a half years ago, wishing me a happy mother's day. You told me you loved me and I believed I was going to hear you say that again and again for the rest of my life.

So much about my life is different now. I think you'd think I work hard at my job, my marriage, my life. I remember you told me once early on that the one thing you wanted to know all those long years was that I was happy. I wasn't then. But I am now, and I think this would bring you great joy. You loved Johnny too -- just because I loved him. You believed in him when many others didn't want to give him a chance. I wish you could see what a wonderful father and partner he has become, just like you knew he would. I think that would make you beam with pride. 

In recent years I've made many big decisions. I'm not sure you would like them all. Do you know I cut my hair off -- never once thinking I might look like a poodle just like you did the last time you cut yours? I have a picture of you with that 'do. You loathed it! I wonder why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing. I imagine you laughing with me, maybe even a little at me, lending me one of your Red Sox baseball caps or offering me box of bobby pins to get me through that never-ending awkward stage. Do you know we now live 3 miles from your house? I can't imagine living anywhere else now, and yet I wonder that if you were here whether you'd think the town was big enough for the two of us. And do you know that I met him? You were so reluctant, and while I had you, I never felt the need. But then you were gone and he appeared, almost out of nowhere. And it was wonderful and difficult and somehow totally natural, and then before I knew what was happening, I lost him too. Do you know that he never stopped loving you and me? The three of us had so much unfinished business. Some days it's hard to muster up the ooomph to keep at it without you both, but everything I do, I do for all of us. Do you know how much I miss you? That my unique memory of you lives on in so much that we do and feel and are?

I try not to think about how unfair it all is, how robbed I feel. Instead I think about how lucky I am to know you loved me, that you wanted me. Both of you did. This is a warm and soft blanket I carry around with me everywhere. It energizes me, emboldens me. It's a private little hug I give myself when I need it most. You loved me. You wanted me. My existence has value. 





Friday, September 22, 2017

On Six Years of Freyja-hood

Freyja turns six tomorrow. 

Today was a rainy day of mini-vacation on Cape Cod. There were Mad Libs, there were board games, there was reading, there was the telling of stories. As she got in the bath tonight, I told her the story of her birth and she rolled her eyes and groaned and said "But I already know, Mama!"

Considering the complexity of this child, it's a pretty simple story. I will leave out the drama for the squeamish readers and summarize here: Early one morning, spouse says: I'm cancelling my plans for tonight. I feel like I should stay home just in case. Remembering the way my first birth went, I say, no, go ahead and keep your plans! This baby has another two weeks to go. Have a nice day! And off I go to work and about five hours later I go into labor at my desk. Since the last baby took five days of labor to make up her mind about coming out, I think nothing of the contractions and reassure people that everything's fine and there's no cause for alarm. Then I lose my mucus plug while interviewing a candidate for a position on my team (whom I immediately hire), think I am bleeding to death, go get an emergency ultrasound, am told that I am definitely in labor and that I should under no circumstances go back to the office or go anywhere but straight home. In the cab, I alternate between not wanting to scare the cabbie into thinking I will give birth in the backseat of his car and expressing extreme gratitude that my spouse's spidey sense was dead on. He was home to receive me. Figuring we have a long night ahead of us, I sit on the birthing ball, bouncing and screaming and watching a season and a half of Breaking Bad, try to take a nap as Ina May Gaskin advises, and then lie in the bathtub for so long that I don't realize I am transitioning until I am puking all over myself. Spouse calls midwife when my screams become continuous but for the retching. Midwife shows up in a flash and says "holy shit you're having this baby right here in the bathtub, right now" and seventeen minutes later it's 5:03 am and I have a baby on me and a plate full of Oreos that I cram into my mouth two at a time because my blood sugar is low and giving birth makes me hungry in the kind of way that only a gigantic bag of double-stuf Oreos and a newborn baby can satisfy.  Midwife and doula clean up and clear out, other child wakes up, spouse passes out from exhaustion and I don't sleep well for the next five and a half years. The end. 

So six years ago I was having the homebirth I always wanted, giving birth to a second daughter, completing my family and perfecting my life. 

Five years ago I knew there was something terribly wrong with my baby and was trying desperately to convince everyone else that she needed evaluation and help.

Four years ago I was drowning in diagnoses and medical information, trying to navigate the Early Intervention system in New York City, knowing that if she lived, we would leave. If we stayed, she wouldn't stand a chance. 

Three years ago she was placed in the wrong classroom. I knew it on the first day of school and it took the DOE an entire year to move her. So much precious time wasted.

Two years ago we made the decision to leave our hometown, the Big Apple, where were were both born and raised and where we'd always been sure we would also die. We knew it was the right thing to do to give both of our children what we felt they needed and deserved.

One year ago I felt hope as she started her last year of preschool in a truly integrated, inclusive setting.

And here we are today, getting ready to celebrate her birthday. It's a celebration of life. Her life. Of beating the odds, a day at a time. For the older she gets, the more victorious we feel. Her diagnosis is cruel and unforgiving, but she doesn't know it. It doesn't stop her and she doesn't let anything stop us. We are sleeping a little better now because we mostly believe she will be alive when we go upstairs to rouse her every morning. She is thriving and blossoming and she is just so busy being.

She has big plans for her birthday. She has a fancy dress to wear and wants cake and donuts and presents and family and friends. She tells everyone she sees that she is turning six on September 24th and that she is really excited. But her party is a week later, so she plans to celebrate all week long. And then it will be Halloween soon and she's going to be Princess Anna, who is from Frozen, in case you didn't know. She rattles this all off to the checkout person at the grocery store, the barista at the coffee shop, the bus driver, the lady who cleans the bathrooms in the town center. And they look down at her and I watch them take her in, their eyes running over the walker, the leg braces, and the sparkly eyes and big smile. I see her as they see her and I watch as they fall in love with her and I am proud that she is mine, this little being who spreads joy wherever she goes, warming the hearts of everyone she encounters.   

In a way, Freyja is Milo, the main character in my favorite book of all time, The Phantom Tollbooth. Milo is sent on a journey, the truth of which the King of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician both know but refuse to tell him until he has returned successful. Instead they wish him well, set him up with an entourage consisting of bugs and dogs to keep him safe, give him tools to fight the demons he will surely encounter, and send him on his way. 

Remember that thing we told you we couldn't tell you until you were back? the kings say to Milo at the festival they hold in his honor upon his return, having rescued the princesses of Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason and restored them to ruling the kingdom of Wisdom. Yes, he says eagerly. What was it? "It was impossible," one of them says, very seriously. "Completely impossible," says the other.

If Freyja is Milo, then I am the King of Dictionopolis, powerless to fix the plight of my own child but with a head full of all the letters and words in the whole world, and Johnny is the Mathemagician, with a magic staff that rewrites all the formulas and creates solutions to unusual problems. We created this child. We unwittingly set her up for this journey, and now, just shy of six years in, we can look at her and marvel. What we knew would be completely impossible, she has done. 

But I'm never going to tell her that. 

At Back to School night a couple weeks ago, several parents came up to me, introduced themselves, and told me they hear about Freyja every single day from their kids. I smiled and made small talk and chatted about play dates that probably won't ever happen, and I wondered how they knew I was her mother. How did they know? I had no name tag on. I hadn't even opened my mouth. Do I just exude L'Air Du Special Needs Mama somehow? 

I pondered this as I sat down in her tiny chair. We listened to her teacher as she talked about school rules, field trips they needed volunteer chaperones for, allergies in the classroom, ziploc bags full of extra underwear and socks I needed to send in. In seventeen little folders on the tables were seventeen green sheets of paper, upon which we were asked to write down some emergency contact information. Under this was a blank space, at the beginning of which read: "Tell us a little bit about what your hopes and dreams are for your child to achieve this year!" I chewed my pen cap, thinking. I peered over at the mom next to me to peek at what she was writing, but I couldn't see. I wondered what other parents said. I want Junior to be able to read chapter books this year. We hope that Molly continues to benefit from the socialization that preschool provided last year. Who knows? I closed my eyes for a moment and then I wrote: "Freyja is a hardworking, determined child who benefits from an inclusive environment with neurotypical peers as models. Of course we are concerned about her academics but even more important to us is this: We know that schoool, like life, is full of joys and frustrations. We want Freyja to be able to face both as she grows. She will never stop working toward her goals. If she knows you are working with her, she will never ever let you down, so please don't ever give up on her." And I folded the green sheet of paper and dropped it into the pile on the teacher's desk and walked out into the night, back toward home, to my sleeping girls, to the life that I never knew was possible until Freyja came along. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

(Tell Me What Inclusion Looks Like!) This Is What Inclusion Looks Like!

A few weeks ago Freyja and I visited a friend who'd had surgery on his jaw. In order to recover, he had to have his jaw wired shut. Talking was understandably challenging; he spoke through gritted teeth with a wet hiss and a mumble. She looked at him quizzically. "You talk weird!" she said to him. "You talk weird too!" I reminded her. She looked at me in shock. "No I don't, Mama!"
She doesn't know, I realized. Or maybe she doesn't care. As she says over and over, "I'm just Freyja!" In many ways, she's just a kid like your kid and your kid and your kid, only her brain doesn't talk to her body the way your kids' brains do. And she belongs in this classroom and in this school and in this world just like everyone else and she has never been taught anything different.
Her new school is great. It's a public school. Her sister goes there too; they are in the same school for the first time in their lives. The district has wheelchair accessible yellow school buses so they are now riding together. She has a lovely new 1:1 who meets her at our house in the morning and rides the bus too. She works with Freyja all day long, providing individualized instruction when she needs it. Freyja receives many services that she needs: PT, OT, speech, adaptive PE and literacy sessions. And her school has been supportive since we began the transition process last spring. They are doing everything they can to ensure that she is safe and that she has all the tools she needs to succeed. They've watched her walk, measured how well she can reach the sink, the water fountain, the toilet. They've arranged for adaptive seating and adaptive step stools. She's been evaluated for adaptive technology and will be learning to keyboard as the other kiddos learn to write. She is learning to navigate the school with the elevator and ramps, since stairs take her a very long time. And now I have another reason why it's so awesome.
Last Wednesday was her first day. I was a little distracted all day long because I was worried about how she would do. So when my phone rang while I was at a work lunch with five people from out of town, and it was the school's number, I ran out of the restaurant in a panic. "Everything's fine," the voice said. It was the school psychologist. "She's doing great so far." She was calling because some kids already had questions, she said, and she wanted some advice for how to handle it.
I told her that last winter we'd visited her preschool classroom. We talked about her disability openly with the kiddos. We answered their questions, reassuring them that the van she arrived in was not an ambulance, that she was not sick, that she likes the same things as most kids do. She gave all the kids a turn in her walker and they squealed with delight, zooming around the room with it, hopping on one leg to try to get a sense of what it feels like to rely on your arms to walk. It was a good visit, I told her, and we could do something like that again if it's helpful. "Hmmm," she said, thinking. "I don't know if having you come in is the right thing." She paused. "What do you think?"
Well, why don't you ask Freyja? I responded, and she said that was a great idea. An hour later she called back and told me that Freyja was really excited to have us come in with her. So that's what we did.
It made me so happy that they asked Freyja her opinion. It made me so happy that this came up on the first day of school and not halfway through the year. It made me so happy that the school staff wanted to address the other kids' curiosity and questions openly and with respect. This is the kind of thing that encourages inclusivity. It normalizes difference.
When we arrived, the kids were seated on the floor. There were lots of grownups in the room, including the brand new principal. We sat right down on the floor. I read a book I love called Susan Laughs. This book talks about all the things that Susan does and likes and feels. She sings and swims and gets angry and sad and laughs and dresses up and does all the things kids do. It's not until the last page that you see that she uses a wheelchair. I asked if any of the kids like to do ballet and go swimming and play dress up. Hands flew up and many kids started telling us about their swim lessons, their summer vacations, their dance classes, their Batman costume. And then we got to say, well guess what? Freyja loves to dance and to swim and to play dress up too! She's just like you!
We showed the class her braces and her walker and asked them if they knew what they were for. Freyja explained that they both help her walk because her balance isn't good and her legs aren't that strong. A girl with a cast on her arm talked about how long she has to wear it to keep her wrist straight, and I told them that Freyja will likely wear braces on her legs for life to keep her ankles straight. I explained that she isn't sick. Nothing she has is contagious. That they can expect her to apologize if she bonks into them with her walker. They took turns trying her walker and a few asked to try the wheelchair too. Some of the grownups asked Freyja pointed questions about how she gets around the school, what she needs, and how the other kiddos could help her. She answered well and I was proud.
On our way out, the principal caught up with me. "You used to be a teacher, right?" he asked. I admitted that yes, I was. He smiled and said, "it was obvious."
But it wasn't. It doesn't matter that I was a teacher -- my teaching experience is with kids way older than these. I know nothing about early childhood education. What I do know is that we never pretend that Freyja is typical. It shocks me that some families are "in the closet" about their kids' disabilities. That doesn't help anyone! Why pretend that your kid is something she really isn't? Why pretend that everything is a certain kind of normal when being open and honest and visible makes being atypical normal too? When I hear kids whispering about her walker or her braces or her limp, we always stop and talk to them respectfully. We invite questions. We let kids take a spin with the walker or in the wheelchair. I don't reprimand them for talking about my kid or pretend I don't hear them. Kids are curious and Freyja loves to tell them about herself. I mean, her walker is really cool -- it's pink and shiny and looks like a weird sort of scooter. Her braces are interesting. She herself is fascinating. So why not let them ask? Freyja knows how to answer these questions by herself now. And she has no idea that she's radically different from anyone else because when it comes down to it, she's really not.



Can you tell which one is the atypical kid's?

Freyja started kindergarten!


Freyja started kindergarten last Wednesday.

I don't think I will ever get tired of saying that.

Freyja. Started. KINDERGARTEN. In our local mainstream public school. She's in school with her sister.  She took the bus there with her sister. She is in public school. In the same school as her sister. We are taking it a year at a time, yes. But we are taking it! 

The night before the first day of school, I wrote my girls letters. I read them out loud as they got ready that next morning. As I read them, Johnny made barfing noises in the background because they were so cheesy. All the same, I want to include them here.

Here's Freyja's:

Dear Freyja, 

It's been such a joy to watch you prepare for kindergarten, and here we are the night before your first day. You've worked so hard for this moment and you've defied all the odds to get here. You are in a mainstream public school! You have a small army of people to support you and ensure your success. You are determined and tenacious and you don't know failure. You are the you-est person I have ever met, so self aware and so unwavering in your very Freyja-ness. 

My daring precious peanut, I wish you knew how many people are in your corner and have been since your birth. I wish you knew how many hearts you have touched and how many hands have supported you every step of the way. You are so loved and we are proud beyond words of who you are and all you have accomplished. 

We don't yet know where you will lead us in the future. We don't know what you will need and how you will grow and change. But I do know that tomorrow you will start kindergarten and at the end of the month you will turn six. You will have already accomplished more in your short life so far than many people much older than you. We are so excited to be along for your adventure. I love being your mother with all my heart and soul. And I love you.

Love love love,
Mama

And Thora's:


Dear Thora, 

I'm writing to you the day before school starts. You are about to start second grade. Your hair is getting long. You just got your first skateboard, and you already ride it competently. You are an artist. You still have not lost a tooth. You are seven and a half and you are beautiful, smart, creative, brave, kind, silly, and wonderful. You are the center of my world and I love you and am so proud of you.

In second grade you will learn so much. You will read more and do more math. You are a Bay Stater now, and you'll learn more about your adopted hometown and state. You will do more art, more music. We will ride our bikes and you will skateboard with Daddy until it's too cold. Your hair will grow longer if you promise to keep brushing it, and you will grow taller. You might even lose a tooth or two.

You will make more friends. You will work hard and play hard. And I hope you continue to fall in love with life. You are precious to me and to the whole universe. Enjoy school, enjoy life, enjoy being you!

I love you to infinity and beyond.
Mama