This year, our Gaudate Sunday is especially joyful. Today, we get to celebrate six years with you! As always, it is a joy to look back over the year and reminisce about your milestones and our favorite memories with you.
January: Highlights from Christmas break included your amazing arts and crafting to finish your space picture and many days of dress-up with your cousins. You missed many days of pre-K due to the freezing temps, but I loved every wintery day at home with you and your siblings, watching you play make-believe. We made your first trip to the dentist, and you LOVED it, especially "Mr. Thirsty." Your favorite quiet time activity is playing with your Legos in "Nana's room." You are becoming more independent during quiet play time now that G-Bear isn't home in the afternoons.
February: Time for basketball practices with G-Bear, where you are a very enthusiastic participant, eagerly cheering on your teammates. You have found a great way to handle your hunger pangs as dinnertime approaches: "Mommy, is there anything I can help you with?" When we head to Disney as a family, you love the pineapple floats, the Polynesian water slide and meeting Peter Pan. You get to ride Everest for the first time, handing in your "tall enough" ride pass and jumping for joy. We went to the front of the line, and you loved every moment of the ride. Back at home, many days are still cold, so we pass the time by playing with play dough, drawing in the playroom with chalk and painting together in smocks. You write your name beautifully these days.
March: You made two resolutions this year for Lent: trying to let others go first (especially Buddy Bear when getting in the car) and trying to help Buddy Bear as a friend. Each day, I see your progress. You enjoy our daily Lent Pocket, and you are often the one to remind me to read our activity for the day during breakfast. At Lutsen, you ski for the first time! You handle your first lesson alone, but you love riding between Dad's legs the most. You look awesome in your goggles! Dad takes you snowshoeing for the first time up at the cabin (just the two of you!), you can now recognize words like 'mom' and 'dad', and you declare, "Mom, I think I am ready for Kindergarten." I agree.
April: You are so eager to celebrate G-Bear's birthday and welcome her piano surprise with great enthusiasm. Holy Week is a special time, when we make Lamb of God cards and wash each others feet. You are so excited to find our jellybeans in the basket, after working so hard during Lent.
May: One of the things I love most about you, E-Bear, is the way you celebrate with others so genuinely without feeling envious. When G-Bear looses her first tooth, you are so excited to celebrate with her. For J-Bear's first birthday, you are so joyful, and no one can make her smile like you. I offer to pay you 10 cents for occupying J-Bear while I make dinner, and you do a great job, filling her tray with toys and playing with her. You are storming the road on your bike with training wheels, and I know it won't be long before you are on two wheels.
June: You take your first ride with Dad on the Mundo, riding home from the bike store. You love it, and we now have a new favorite way to get to school in the morning and for pick-up. Sometimes, we still take your small bike, and you are a trooper, although I often frustrate you by hustling us along. The hill up to school is tough, and you have to be very resilient to make it! Finally, after a week of using Buddy Bear's strider, you ride your own bike with only two wheels! That is it for the rest of the summer -- you are officially a great bike rider! After saying a sad good-bye to Mrs. Rogers and pre-K, we head to Chicago with Dad for Pentecost, where you LOVE the Lego Discovery Center and we have a great Pentecost morning at the hotel, complete with Lego surprises.
July: More biking, time at the cabin with cousins and a new playset for Fourth of July, and our favorite evening walks on the quad, where we often meet the Sisters. You are a great help to me in the garden, always willing to water the flowers. You did a great job in swim lessons this year, nearly swimming on your own, and then one night at Interlachen you take off your life jacket and swim by yourself for the first time. It was so fitting that MoMo and Papa could see your big accomplishment!
August: You and Buddy Bear are becoming better buds everyday. You two now love to play Playmobil together, look at books, shoot bows and arrows, and build with Duplos. You find that you have more in common everyday, the fruit of many play days full of hard work. It is wonderful to watch your friendship blossom over the summer. At Hilton Head, you love the taste of root beer with Dad, swimming in the pool with cousins, biking by yourself (although, next year you need a bigger bike so you can keep up more easily -- your legs were flying to keep up with your sister!), digging at the beach and horseback riding. After our HH trip, we are home together most days. Roman ruins and castles rule our days in the sand box. We usually bike at least once a day, and you all love to play tee ball and soccer in the yard. We have a great time at the Fair to round out the summer, where you and your sibs are best buds. Your favorites were the Kidway rides and the rootbeer! Before back to school, you LOVE spending a night in Papa's tent at GG's cabin, a real highlight.
September: You are overjoyed and only a little nervous to start Kindergarten. After two years with Mrs. Rogers, this feels like a very big change, but you are determined to dive into school with you very best. You are intense and focused, and you are concerned and frustrated when you do things wrong, but you are successful in so many ways. Even when you make mistakes, you are willing to try again. The much-anticipated County Fair delights you in every way, and we even take home red chairs for all the kids. You are doing great with sight words and write the most beautiful sentence, perfectly backwards: "Ilovemymomandmydad,loveE-bear." You make a Me Bag for school, go with Dad to the football sidelines, and bike the whole way on our city Bike Tour. Whoa! You are full of joy and persistence!
October: You are my helper in the harvest garden, pulling out potatoes and choosing small tomatoes. You are always so observant, and you have the most impressive memory. We've looked forward to our California trip together for months, and when it finally arrives you take Disneyland by storm and are equally impressed by the sights of the big trees at Sequoia. When you get sick, very sick, on the ride to Yosemite, you are a Super Trooper, and announce, "this is my least favorite part of the trip." Even so, you bounce back as always. At the wedding, you are a leader and a gentleman, looking so handsome in your suit and being such a helper with the younger cousins. The trip with you is truly a joy. For Halloween, you are a shining knight, and you count your candy up to 92 pieces! Whoa!
November: You love to do Math during learning time these day. Early in the month, we do candy math, which you really enjoy. Mrs. M is very complementary at your fall conference, and you are clearly making many friends and learning a lot in Kindergarten. While G-Bear does her homework in the afternoon, you are always asking to do your optional homework calendar. You are an eager worker. During quiet time, more and more days I yield to your request that Buddy Bear be allowed to stay up and play Legos with you. The two of you play so nicely together these days. He looks up to you, and you share so many interests in common, you are more of an eager leader for him everyday. Right before Thanksgiving, you bring tears to my eyes with your enthusiastic singing and kind words at your Paraliturgy. You make me thankful, indeed.
December: When Advent arrives, you decorate our tree with J-Bear, count down the day to Christmas with a Lego calendar from MoMo, and love playing in the snow after school with Buddy Bear and G-Bear. We make gingerbread houses together for Saint Nicholas day and Christmas cookies with Miss Sara, both of which you tackle with a lot of attention to detail. Before break, you get another full day at school, a treat you look forward to every month.
On Friday night, when we took you to Snuffy's to celebrate your family birthday dinner, it was a joy to look across the table at my growing-up boy. You are charming and thoughtful. Your deep friendship with G-Bear continues. We are tremendously grateful for the good friendship that you and Buddy Bear continue to develop. We are thankful for the way you love on your little sister. Daddy and I are honored to watch you grow in virtues like self-control and patience, and our hearts swell with joy to watch you put together the building blocks of faith. Dearest E-Bear, we are so thankful for another year with you. Happy birthday, dear E-Bear, happy birthday!