Exploring Our Backyard
I did the math, and it’s been about nine months since we traveled anywhere! Pretty crazy considering how much we traveled prior to 2020. But we had the most incredible weather for the early part of the summer at home (before it got really hot and humid), and Tru and I enjoyed it to the fullest. We’d often grab a big blanket and some breakfast foods and enjoy a little morning picnic on our patio, listening to the birds and feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces. It was the sweetest time for me. Sometimes I’d look for a little nature path nearby and we’d do a “hike” just the two of us: Tru grasping my hand in his tiny little hand and pummeling me with 1,000 remarks: “Mama can I tell you somethin’?”
We did lots of local activities this summer instead of traveling. I was surprised that I actually liked our little day trips as much, maybe more, than travel! We were able to keep the focus on having fun and enjoying time together as a family without all of the usual travel stress. No dealing with packing and luggage, flights and airports, planning and reservations, finding directions and places to eat, getting kicked out of our room at 11am check-out and not having a room until 4pm check-in, etc. etc. It was just an easy, relaxing, and peaceful summer.
Here were some of our favorites: visiting a local farm to pick blueberries, going to outdoor concerts in the park, going to the nearby beach, and planning short day-trip hikes.
Summer Camp Opens!
Tru’s school was required to shut down in mid-March. But we got the good news that it would start again (called “camp” in summer) in mid-July. Tru was so excited to return. He’s always enjoyed school, but this summer he really loved it. He loved playing with friends, he loved trying out new art projects and science experiments, he loved playing outside, chasing bubbles and going down the playground slide with friends. I could tell the teachers were really happy to be reunited with the kids too. There was a theme to each week, and Trevor especially loved “Mad Scientist” and “World Explorer.”
I’ll talk more about Trevor’s competitive spirit later, but this summer was the easiest season ever in terms of getting Tru to school each morning. Here’s why: he really wanted to be the first to arrive. Every morning he’d go running up to the teacher saying, “Am I first? Am I the first to get here?” So getting him dressed and out the door each morning was a breeze. I can remember the days (not so long ago) when I’d give myself 25 minutes to try to get from the house to the car.
Tru’s Latest Obsessions
Outer space is Trevor’s ongoing obsession. He loves it more than ever. Chris and I took Tru to the planetarium at the Boston Museum of Science, and Chris even found a small “space museum” not too far from our house. I’m very well versed in outer space trivia now and Tru has taught me all of it. He’s memorized even little-known facts. For example, did you know there are at least five dwarf planets in our solar system? And that our sun is actually a yellow dwarf, which is a smaller-sized star? Tru has several outer space puzzles and he loves to work on those on a daily basis. And lately, using crayons and blank paper, Tru draws really intricate pictures of planets, stars, and our solar system. We even started putting a book together, which will probably be at least ten pages long. The boy has a true passion for space!
One funny thing: Tru has moved on from his love of transportation vehicles. He still enjoys building railroad tracks with his BRIO set. And he still loves to buy new Hot Wheels cars. But outer space replaced that old love.
Oh, and marbles! His “mah-bo cowection” is another obsession. Trevor loves to look at images of marbles on Amazon, select his favorites, and order them. Then he’ll go out each afternoon to the mailbox to check and see if they’ve arrived. Sometimes he cries when he checks the mail and it’s “just junk mail.” He’s just in love with the whole process. He’ll spend long stretches playing with his marbles. Many of them are named after planets and he’ll arrange them on the floor to depict our solar system. He races them down his toy car tracks. He brings them outside and plays with them in his swing set fort, or races them down the front steps.
Trevor likes to color pictures, especially of planets, countries, and states. He enjoys practicing writing letters and writes very beautifully now. He knows how to spell a few simple words like “daddy,” “mama,” “sun,” and “mars.” He understands which letters make which sounds. He’s beginning to understand basic addition and subtraction and seems to be very good with numbers. Sometimes he’ll use his fingers to count, for example, he knows “3 plus 3 is 6” or “8 minus 3 is 5.”
And what is he watching when I need a break from the chaos? He still loves to watch outer space videos (and also geography videos) on his tablet. And we have Disney+, so that’s basically all that he watches on TV. His latest favorites are Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, and Moana. Moana – by the way – is one of the best movies I’ve seen. Not just one of the best kid’s movies, but one of the best movies. We’ve seen it 20 times and I’m not tired of it.
Trevor’s Love of Sports Continues
By mid-summer, soccer resumed. Tru was thrilled, he loves to go to practice. We were planning to sign him up for T-ball, but that was cancelled for the season.
One major love did emerge though, and that was mini golf. Mini golf courses were one of the first things to reopen in our area, so we’ve done a lot of mini golf this summer! Chris and Tru spent most summer evenings trying out just about every mini golf course within a 25-mile radius of the house. Tru’s a good player too. He’s grown to expect 5 or 6 “hole-in-ones” each time he plays (of course, he normally plays each hole about 5 times). And he doesn’t get tired of it either. He’ll play two or three rounds and still ask for more mini golf. Chris and I have left the course with Tru in our arms crying because we weren’t going to play a third round…
Tru really fights naps these days. The trouble is, he’s really not ready to drop the nap. When he doesn’t get a nap, his ‘five o’clock meltdowns’ are pretty much guaranteed. The term ‘five o’clock meltdowns’ sounds pretty cute, but it is not cute. The screams that can come out of that child when things don’t go his way! I pretty much have to bribe him to lay down and sleep at about 2:00 or 2:30 pm. In order to tempt him into his bedroom, I offer him vitamin gummies (which he loves and considers a treat!) before nap. And we cuddle in his bed and read outer space books together. He sleeps for about one hour these days. So gone are those long afternoon stretches when I had time to accomplish things during nap time!
Speaking of ‘five o’clock meltdowns’ … tantrums have returned. I was shocked by this! I thought tantrums ended at the end of the ‘terrible two’s.’ Nope. Tantrums come back at age four, and they are longer and louder now. Mainly because I can’t quickly and easily distract Tru anymore. He’s able to fixate on one topic for thirty minutes or more. When do the tantrums come out? When Tru is told “no,” and when he loses at a game. Here’s a typical depiction of a family night out this summer:
- Trevor begs to go mini golfing
- For the first half, Trevor has fun and plays really well (he’s a better player than me)
- Soon enough, Tru decides he’s not getting enough “hole-in-ones”
- Trevor gets increasingly frustrated and upset, which further disrupts his ability to play well. He starts to huff and pout and cry off and on.
- Trevor totally loses it by the 18th hole and screams and cries that he didn’t get enough “hole-in-ones” for the length of the 20-minute ride home
Speaking of Tru’s longer attention span, he’s also very demanding lately! I’ll suggest going to the beach in the evening and Tru will insist on mini-golfing after. Chris and I will decide to go to dinner and Tru will cry because he (still!) has no interest in food. Chris and I want to do a quick 20-minute evening walk, but Trevor wants an hour-long playdate with a neighbor. He has an opinion on everything and he’s determined to get his way. It seems like we’re in constant conflict, but we’re working on compromise. We’ll see how that turns out!
Age four has been wonderful in so many ways. I love how Tru has so much to say, a huge vocabulary, and yet he delivers it all with a still-babyish voice. At night before bed, he always asks Chris for “a widdow wub” (a little rub). And, pointing at something, he’ll say, “what’s dat ovah day-uh?” It’s adorable beyond description!
Trevor adds magic wherever he goes. He’s super outgoing and friendly and he’ll approach strangers by saying “hi” and then asking them questions. Yesterday on our daily walk, we crossed paths with a neighbor who was also out for a walk. Tru started chatting with her for about 5-10 minutes, until we were back at our driveway. Chris and I were a few steps behind, so we don’t even know what they discussed. We can guess. Normally he’ll move the topic to outer space: “Can I tell you somefin’? 1 million uffs (earths) could fit inside the sun!”
Tru gets us up early, usually at about 6am. But he comes running into our bedroom, dives into our bed, and climbs under the covers with such happiness and enthusiasm. It’s nice to start the day that way, with fun and happiness and cuddles. Of course, Tru isn’t gentle and thoughtful with the cuddles. He’s four, so … I usually end up getting kneed in the stomach and choked and accidentally kicked in the face. So it’s a little bitter but with plenty of sweet mixed in.
His hair still smells like sugar, he still loves to hold my hand, and he wants to include me in every activity. His laughter is the sweetest sound I ever heard and his smile is the loveliest sight. I see the bright Light within him and know I’m so blessed to get witness it.