Friday, February 23, 2018

Bret's Seventh Birthday Letter

Dear Bretsterboy,

You sure have grown up a lot this year! I can hardly believe you're a big 7-year-old now! You really savored all the excitement and special things surrounding your birthday this year. You even made some "Happy Birthday, Bret" signs with big #7's on them to help me decorate! ;)

With a guy you made out of random objects
You are still as busy as ever "making stuff" just about every day. Every package that comes in the mail is repurposed into some sort of creation. You received a roll of duct tape from Grandma & Grandpa for Christmas, and that opened up all kinds of new possibilities for "making stuff." Your creativity is always accompanied by your singing and are one happy kid whenever you're making something, whether it's out of cardboard, paper, or straws; or if you're coloring or writing. Your goal lately has been to figure out a way to make a car that can drive. Sometimes you are just sure you've got an idea that will work, but it always falls through. I have a feeling it is one of those things you think about when you're falling asleep at night. You have quizzed Daddy about how engines work and been assured in no uncertain terms that you will not be allowed to make your own internal combustion engine, which made you decide to start working on an engine that runs with magnets. You're still trying to work out the details on that! ;) In the meantime, Grandma & Grandpa's minivan died and it occurred to you that since it's just sitting there, maybe you could figure out how to fix it and then we would let you have it. Sounds logical, right? So, the main things you wanted for your birthday this year were a watch and a car you could drive in.

This past summer you were very busy catching more butterflies, and capturing all sorts of insects and spiders. You spent an afternoon catching bees with Cody, and somehow you both avoided being stung as far as I could tell (although you had a container of extremely angry bees that you showed me when you were done! Of course, I didn't know what you were up to until you were done doing it!) Another afternoon, you made a collection of garden spiders, looking for the biggest ones you could find! I refused to allow either the bee container or the spider containers reside in the garage like the butterfly and worm containers do! In the late spring/early summer you were always after Daddy to take you to one of the ponds by our property so you could catch little fish with your net. Cody has never been very good at that, but this year he finally got the hang of it. It was a little crushing for you the first time Cody caught more fish than you, but overall you are enjoying having Cody grow up enough to be able to do all the things you can do! You spent a great deal of time this summer building a cornfield. Daddy had told you and Cody that you could dig all you wanted in a designated area. It was somewhat mounded, so you busied yourselves digging for a few days in order to level an area of it. When you realized what a big hole you'd created, you thought maybe you'd make it into your own pond. Unfortunately, despite all the trips you made with pails of water, it always ended up soaking into the ground. Those were some very dirty days. The water just ran brown off of you boys when I got you into the shower! You boys worked so hard and had so much fun! You abandoned the pond idea and returned to the construction of your cornfield. When it was finished, you took some corn from Daddy's pigeon feed and planted it in rows. Then you constructed a fence out of yarn and sticks. You even weeded your field every now and then, and sure enough, you grew some corn! It never got to full maturity as it was too late in the summer by then, but it was gratifying for you nonetheless! You had so much fun this summer at the lake, too! You got brave enough to start jumping in and no you're obsessed with that. You always spend quite a bit of time trying to catch fish, and this year Daddy helped you catch some crawdads. You really liked those! The other kids at the beach were in awe of you and your collection, too. You brought some home and kept them in the kiddy pool in our backyard. Those poor crawdads lived in there for weeks, and you and Cody played with them a lot!

This year you got to play your first organized sports. You LOVED it! Your first few weeks of soccer, you were so excited that you could hardly play. At home, you were great and you played hard; but at your games, you were so excited you'd pretty much just hop around and grin. ;) By the end of the season, you were getting much more focused, though. You and Cody put in a lot of hours playing in our yard against each other and against Daddy. You are very driven to conquer a thing once you begin it! Now you can hardly wait for soccer to start up again! We put you in wrestling this winter, and that has been really fun for you, too. You are becoming pretty analytical, so you love the strategy of learning the moves. I usually have no idea what you're talking about, but you love to tell me about your moves and when you would use them, etc. You were in 3 tournaments this year. The first one, you were kinda out of it because you were sick. But the next two, you won 7 out of your 8 matches, and pinned 4 of your opponents. Then, you love to rehash everything about your matches for the next week. It's pretty hilarious and exhausting, but we love you! ;) You love to FaceTime with everyone you can think of after every game or wrestling tournament so you can hash it over with them, too. (And we're so thankful for your sweet Grammie, Grandma & Grandpa, and Aunts who take the time to listen to you and celebrate with you!)

Winning your first tournament (Amherst) a few weeks ago
Daddy is your absolute favorite person ever. Remember when you were a baby and you would hardly let him hold you? It's like you're trying to make up for lost time now! When Daddy's home, you try to monopolize his every free moment. "Dad, wanna play War cards?" "Dad, wanna play Trouble?" "Dad, wanna play Monkey-in-the-Middle?" Or just trying to instigate wrestling/tickling.

On the other hand, you are still a bit of a mommy's boy. When we hired some babysitters (our first time ever, yikes!) a couple months ago, you were good about it, but you told me the night before that you were going to need me to snuggle with you a lot before they came. ;) You are so sweet!

These days, you and Serena have a complicated relationship. You love to laugh, and find very few things worth getting upset over. She, on the other hand, upsets rather easily (which you find funny). So, we often have opportunities to work on paying attention to when our teasing is no longer funny to the person we are teasing. ;) But, you and she are both quick to brag on each other to other people. And you love to team up on adventures. And whenever Serena gets to go somewhere without you, you make sure she has a sweet little note and picture from you to take along!

You and Cody are the very best of buds. It is hard to even imagine a couple of brothers who enjoy each other more than you two do. When you are in a silly mood, you just have to look at each other and you'll burst out laughing uncontrollably. A large percentage of your days are spent rough-housing with each other, so sometimes I have to enforce "quiet zones" in the house in order to preserve my own sanity. You do almost everything together and look out for each other. Cody's life pretty much revolves around you at this point, and he is content to let you come up with his agenda each day. Now and then, he spends a day playing horses or school with Serena, and then you are a lost puppy because you don't like to play those things. Sure, you could build or make something or do any of the other things you normally do with Cody, but you are the type of person that craves companionship, so you just can't find the same enjoyment in those things when Cody's not there to do it with you.

You make friends easily and love to play, play, play! You love to play with your cousins when we go to Iowa, and consider them among your best friends. But you also have good friends among your wrestling/soccer mates, the kids that you hang out with at the dance studio while Serena is in class and Mommy is teaching piano lessons, and also the kids that come to our house for piano lessons. And then, of course, there are the random children you befriend at the beach or the park or the library.

School has gone really well for you this year. You are in first grade, and you work hard (usually). Now and then, you have a rough day and you try whining or negotiating to get out of doing school, but thankfully those are few and far between. ;P The most exciting thing has been that you've learned to read this year! We worked on it last year, but it just didn't click. This year, it's like you cracked the code, and you just took off with it! Now you love to read, and have been progressing very quickly! Your favorites are silly stories, like "Frog & Toad" or "The Berenstain Bears." You also do very well with math. You finished your 1st grade book a couple weeks ago, so we're on to the 2nd grade one now, which made you very proud.

With learning to read came a desire to write your own stories. I love running across your little stories, with all their phonetic spellings! 
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I'm also teaching you piano lessons this year, and you have been a very apt student! You will be finishing the beginner book next week! You love to sit down and plunk away on the piano, and are pretty good at reading notes!

With all your silliness, your twinkly eyes, and quick laugh, it is easy for people to miss what an earnest, sweet boy you are. Even though you disdain all things you deem "girly," you have an eye for beauty and you love colors. You are very sensitive to others, and people are often surprised when you reciprocate pleasantries and by the way you ask such good questions that show genuine interest in others. You are quick to compliment others, and very giving. You have a beautiful faith in God, which I see reflected in the way you pray. At this point, though, I would have to say that your favorite Bible stories are the ones that involve fighting and battles. So, the Old Testament, definitely. ;)

With your dog, Cato, at a field trial last spring
<3 p=""><3 :="" add="" also="" for="" i="" little="" love="" make="" me="" notes="" now="" p="" pictures="" the="" to="" which="" you="">I just love my Bretsterboy so much! I'm so thankful for you, my sweet, precious boy. You are a bright spot in each day, and I secretly love that you still wake me up in the middle of the night to tuck you back into bed.

Love, Mommy

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