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Dear Jude. 

Dear Jude,

You’re officially done with first grade! Man, that year flew by. It’s been a big year for you so far. Some highlights of the school year are: 

-LENNON! You are the best big brother to have ever lived and you love Lennon so much. It is the coolest thing! I know you guys will always have a special bond. 

-Playing soccer, basketball, and baseball. It was your first time playing Little League and you did so great. You earned the game ball during one of your games because you worked so hard and got some good hits. You improved a lot. 

-You got really into the Presidential election this year and it was fun to see you take an interest in it. I look forward to many political conversations with you in the future. 

-Going to Disney World! We had so much fun. I want to always remember what an amazing trip we had! It was crazy and busy and tiring but such a great time. We got caught down South for a whole extra week due to bad weather but it worked out well because we visited with Uncle Brian and Aunt Leanne. 

-The Patriots won the Super Bowl! It was an AMAZING game, too. One that you’ll talk about for years to come. I hope you’ll remember staying up late and us all freaking out with excitement over what an insane last few seconds it was! When they won Daddy took his shirt off and threw it at you. We were all pumped! 

-Mastering reading. You are a great reader and enjoy chapter books. It’s awesome!

-You continued to build friendships with your best dudes: Isaac, John, Austin, and Ben along with all your other school and church friends. I think you will always be a guy with a lot of friends. 

– We found a true love for the Boston Celtics. We watched many games together and let you stay up late with us a lot!

-We got a pool! We are excited to make lots of fun memories in our back yard. 

We are having a great summer so far. We have had several play dates and done lots of fun stuff. Some new neighbors moved in next door and the little boy, Blake, enjoys playing with you and Lucy. 

Jude, you are on such a good path. You are GOOD. You just are! You make mistakes and need guidance and help but you have a good heart. You love God and doing the right thing. You love your family and your friends and you value close relationships. These things make me overflow with pride for who you have become. I am the luckiest.

Love, 

Mom

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Dear Lennon. 

Dear Lennon,

You are six months old now. There hasn’t been a moment in these last six months when I haven’t been happy. And that’s not even an exaggeration. You have brought so much joy to our family, Lennon. 

You are the happiest, most easy going baby. I mean, really. The others were good babies. Jude was happy and content. Lucy was the world’s best sleeper. And you…you’re so smiley! I have never seen a baby smile so much. And it reminds me exactly why we had you. Life is short, so be happy. Do what you enjoy. Add good things to your life because it could be over in the blink of an eye. Lennon Bea, you are one of the very best choices I have ever made. 

Love, 

Mama

Dear Lucy. 

Dear Lucy,

Oh, my little lady, you are something else. Your fifth birthday is quickly approaching and that just seems impossible. I feel like I’ve gotten used to the idea of Jude growing older (a little bit) but you’ve always been my little girl so it just doesn’t seem right! I registered you for kindergarten last week too which was such a weird feeling. When you become a mom someday you’ll understand the heartache of watching your kids grow. It’s so beautiful and exciting and completely heartbreaking at the same time. Life flies by so fast.

Recently at dinner you prayed the same prayer as always. “Dear God, thank you for my food and my family and everyone who I love.” But tonight you added, “And thank you for giving us baby Lennon.” Then you said, “She is the best baby in the whole entire world!” And you’ve prayed that every night since. You’ve gotten to really enjoy Lennon which makes me happy. I think her arrival coincided with a rough stage for you so there was a bit of an adjustment period, but you seem to be loving on her a lot lately. I hope you and Jude and Lennon are all best friends someday! That’s one of my main goals in life. 

You are so smart, Lucy! In the past I don’t think I’ve given you enough credit for how smart you are. And as crazy smart that Jude has been at vocabulary and talking, you’ve definitely caught on quicker to writing and letters and all that stuff. You have been writing your name for almost two years now and you know all your letters and a lot of sounds. You’ll be reading before we know it! 

You’re kind of a wild card, Lucy Mae. You’re smart and sassy and I never quite know what you’re going to say. You talk about poop quite often. You have the best scowl and get even more mad when I smile at it. You’re snappy and stubborn but so lovable and sweet. You love to hug Daddy tight and call him your “honey beary.” You squeeze me and say, “Oh, you’re just so huggable, I can’t stop hugging you!” And I tell you how I feel the exact same way and I never want to let you go! 

You are sensitive and emotional which is sometimes a challenge but also one of the things that I love most about you. You hate to see me cry. I was once, for some reason, and you came up to me with tears eyes and said, “Mama, you’re going to make me cry!” It was the sweetest thing ever and it’s happened a few times since then. You are quick to have compassion and come to give me a hug or try to make me feel better. It’s a great quality to be sympathetic like that, Lucy, and it’s something I’ve witnessed you master in interactions with me. You are so special, my sweet girl. I want you to always know how special and unique and good you are. 

I told you one time about one of the reasons that you’re so important to me. When Bampy was very sick and dying, you were in my belly. When he went to heaven I was so very sad, but God gave you to me at the perfect time. You were born just when I needed you and you made me so happy. I think you love that story because you have asked me to tell you it again several times since. And I want you to always remember that! You have such a special place in my heart because of that and so many more reasons. You are beautiful inside and out and I couldn’t possibly love you more! 

Love, 
Mama

Dear Jude. 

Dear Jude,

You are now seven. How is that possible? It’s so unreal, time has gone by so fast. I will continue to say this each and every year but it feels like you were just a tiny (well, big) baby sleeping in my arms. I miss those days, man. I love to see you grow and change but I will always miss you sleeping on my chest as a newborn. I’ll miss watching you learn how to walk and run. I’ll miss your raspy little toddler voice and your never ending rants about cars and monster trucks. And your cuddles. Oh, your glorious, pudgy, snuggly cuddles. Every day after nap you’d come out of your room and say “Mama, do you want to cuddle?” I will miss those things for the rest of my days. 
But now you are seven. You are so tall. And your brain…your brain amazes me. You remember numbers and facts like nobody’s business (wonder where you got that from!). You are reading so well and you’re awesome at math. But man, there is so much more to you. One of the things that I love most about you is that you are a great friend. Jude, that is HUGE. I have watched you be so kind and sensitive and inclusive to all of your friends. Being a good friend is one of the most important things in life. It’s something I’ve wanted so badly for you to be, and also for you to have, and you’ve accomplished both. I am so very proud of you for that and you should be too. 

You love church. I can sense that you are proud of it and that is very cool. You suggested to Jim that we make invitations to give out to people so that they’ll come to church. So he did and you’ve given them to all of your closest friends. It’s been so cool to see you initiate that without any guidance from us! You were heartbroken when no one showed up that next Sunday. I told you to keep hoping and praying that they’ll come. So yesterday, on your birthday, Chase and Ben came and you were beyond thrilled! I was so happy to see you learn that your prayers were answered. 

Another thing I love about you is your integrity and discernment. You’ve always been a stickler for doing the right thing. Now, you don’t always do it, but you’ve always been concerned with it. You have a great inner sense of what the right thing is and you’re learning the importance of doing it, no matter what. You have the ability to sense when something may be wrong or inappropriate and you’re willing to ask for guidance. This is not something I’ve taught you, it’s built into your personality, and is just another thing that is so great about YOU. You are trustworthy, Jude, and that’s something that many people are not. 

You’ve done a lot of growing up this year. You feel your emotions hard and strong, as you always have, but you have learned the importance of apologizing and asking for forgiveness. It’s something that I’ve been waiting to see in you. When you were very young you struggled big time with saying you were sorry. It got to the point where I stopped forcing you to say it to cousins or friends because it was such a huge struggle for me to find a way to force you to say it and for you to spit it out. But finally…FINALLY…you’ve gotten to the point where there is no struggle. If you’ve been disrespectful or mean to me or Daddy you take a second to cool down and are able to come to us, completely on your own, and give us a legitimate apology. That’s one of the biggest areas of growth that I’ve seen in you lately and I’m so proud of you for this! Apologizing for bad choices or mistakes will help your relationships in life. So many people don’t know how to say they’re sorry and unfortunately their relationships aren’t as strong, so take this with you as you grow because it will be a great asset to you. 

So anyways, you are awesome, that’s all there is to it. You are so loving to me and Daddy and your sisters. Watching you with Lennon has been so cool. You are the best big brother to ever live! I tell you this a lot and I fully believe that God gave you all these little ladies in your life for a reason. I am actually watching you grow up to be such a unique, cool guy and I am so glad to call you MINE! I am so lucky to be your Mom. I love you!

Mom

Also, this was a special birthday because you got to go to the Patriots playoff game with Daddy and Papa and Uncle Peter. You have been obsessed with football and Tom Brady this year so it was perfect timing. You also got laser tag guns and we had a fun little party at church with a few of your closest friends. 

dear jude.

I haven’t written in a while. I regret it. But life gets busy and things have changed.

A few weeks ago you finished your first year of school: kindergarten. There’s no way for me to accurately express how proud Daddy and I are of you. You have changed so much since the beginning of the school year. You’ve grown physically and emotionally and I’m just so PROUD of who you are becoming. You started the school year very nervous and timid and ended with so much confidence. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.

Looking back on your kindergarten experience, a few things stick out to me. On the first day of school, Daddy and I walked you to your classroom and you were such a champ. You hung up your bag and started playing. That was it! We waved goodbye and I breathed a sigh of relief. The second day was a different story.

On the second day of school, Lucy and I walked you to the entrance. At that point, you were expected to walk to your room by yourself. In your eyes, this was not part of the deal. You were terrified. I don’t blame you a bit, you had to walk down a hallway, enter another long corridor and walk through four classrooms before reaching your own. That’s scary! So Mrs. Erickson, the guidance counselor, was there and could tell you were struggling. I did my best to convince you to go ahead, but you didn’t. Mrs. Erickson took us into her office and we talked for a minute. You started to cry as I attempted to break away from you. I cried, too. Lucy stared. Eventually, Mrs. Erickson literally had to rip you away from my arms as I made an escape. I walked towards the doors as you yelled repeatedly “Just one more hug!” It was horrific. I went to work that day. I cried a lot as I replayed the mornings events in my head and worried about how you were doing. I got several texts and emails from school telling me that you had recovered fine. What a day!

From that point on, the first few months of school were a struggle. Every morning was hard. Mrs. Erickson walked you to your classroom each morning until finally you were brave and did it all on your own. I was so proud on that day. And from that point on, you continued to grow and change into a confident boy who truly enjoyed school and had tons of friends. I volunteered at lunch a few times a week and was always shocked at how many kids you knew that weren’t even in your class! You were totally yourself with your friends which made me so happy. Ms. DeBeck praised you over and over about how much you had grown and learned.

At the beginning of the school year your class did a poetry project. It was about picking apples with friends. Every student had to draw 5 friends and write their names down on their poem. Ms. DeBeck said that every single student in your class had chosen you as one of their friends.

That is so huge, Jude! I know I tell you this all the time, but being a good friend is so important. I think you’ve got the basics down, that’s for sure. I was able to watch you interact with your classmates a lot and you were definitely loved by everyone. You really bonded with Isaac, the son of a friend of mine from high school. You guys were connected at the hip! You picked a good best friend. Shelley, Isaac’s mom, told me that Isaac couldn’t have chosen a better best friend. I totally agree.

At the end of the school year you had a field trip to the beach. I wanted to go, but also wanted you to try to go without me there, to prove to yourself that you’d be fine! And you were, of course. You bonded so hard with your little friends this year…I knew you’d be fine. You had fun and apparently loves riding on the bus because from that day in you begged me to let you ride the bus…something you hadn’t done and had previously been a scary thought for you. So, the last three days of school you rode the bus in the morning. It helped that Lillie was riding as well, so you guys sat together. You weren’t nervous at all and loved it!

Ms. DeBeck told me one day that she had chosen you to receive an end of the year award. It was the McGraw Paw Award and went to a kid from each kindergarten class who best displayed respect, responsibility, caring, honesty and safety. She said she was so proud of how far you had come since the beginning of the year and what a great little guy you are. You were so deserving of this acknowledgement and I was just overflowing with happiness for you. I went to the assembly when they called your name and recognized your hard work and it was one of the best moments ever.

In other news, you have another little brother or sister coming in December. You are so excited! You often rub my belly and talk to the baby. It is so sweet. You want a boy, of course.

I love you, Jude! I love who you are becoming. We still have our moments, that’s for sure, but I’m so proud of the progress you’ve made as a 6 year old. Biggest year yet!

Mama

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