Winter and Spring of ’23

How I’ve loved my moments with first-grade Trevor! As I’ve repeated so many times now, this has been such a sweet and magical phase of life. I love bedtime, when I tuck him in with the whole Tru Crew (more on that to come). Lately, he’s been asking for a story I’ve completely invented in my own head. It’s been quite an incredible story, actually. There’s something about his complete open-mindedness, non-judgment, and willingness to believe in anything. It gives me permission to think as crazy as possible! I don’t know what initially inspired the spark, but one night I decided to just invent a story about a little boy who meets a dragon named JT. Together, they travel through different universes. They go to Nars, which looks sort of like Earth, but everything sparkles like a rainbow and trees grow down from the sky and rocks are purple. (A few times since I’ve told this story, Trevor has actually found purplish colored rocks. He’ll bring them to me with his eyes all lit up and say, “Look! I found a rock from Nars!”) There’s also the planet Beptuna, where dolphins can talk. They live in an underwater world that includes underwater roller coasters. And then there’s Zaturn, where the peace-loving Blue Folk live. The Blue Folk are very tall and very advanced meditators. They teach The Little Boy and JT a meditation technique that allows beings to travel through portals throughout the universe. When The Little Boy and JT first try the technique, they successfully manage to get back to Earth. But unfortunately, Earth from 100 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed!

Here’s more on the amazing Tru Crew situation that unfolded this spring: Trevor now plays with stuffed animals! I’ll explain more in the Disney and Palmetto Bluff post, since that’s where it all began. But since that trip, Trevor has built a little collection of stuffed animals that he sleeps with every single night. As a former little girl who adored stuffed animals and dolls of all kinds, I’m such a big fan of The Tru Crew! I feel like I have my own little Christopher Robin now living in my house, and I’m loving it!

Tru named all of his “stuffies”: Freedom is a long cylinder, plastic, blow-up cushion that he believes is a snake. Dinion is the stuffed minion toy he got at Universal Studios. Dolphy is the stuffed dolphin that the Palmetto Resort gifted him. Cutie is the stuffed owl that was also a gift from Palmetto Bluff. “Dator” is the stuffed alligator he found and asked for at one of the Palmetto Bluff gift shops.

Here’s another thing: Tru believes I can talk to them. He tells me questions to ask them and I whisper to them and tell him what they say. I’m not sure how that started. But he loves it. Sometimes I feel very uncomfortable about it because I never intended to, in effect, lie to my child. But the way his eyes light up when he believes in something magical: I can’t help but to do everything I can to make his eyes light up like that! I can’t explain it. It’s like a real, true smile and a big glow in his eyes and I’d do anything to see that face! I hope one day, when he figures out the truth, Tru will understand that I did it all to give him these moments of wonder.

We’ve found out a lot from Trevor’s questions: the entire group of stuffies call themselves “The Tru Crew.” They come alive at night when we’re all sleeping and also sometimes when we’re all away from the house. They play outside or slide on the stair railings or play basketball when they come to life. They all have unique personalities. Dinion is the funny and mischievous one. He actually came to life when he lived in the Universal Studios gift shop and got to ride all the rides! Cutie is really thoughtful and wise. Dator has big feelings and sometimes gets upset or scared. We’ve played board games with The Tru Crew. Tru has drawn pictures for them. And sometimes they hide around his room after he goes to sleep at night; Dinion is always doing something silly, like standing on his head!

All I can say is that it’s been such a joy to watch Trevor’s imagination ignite through The Tru Crew. How many more years do I get where he believes so fully in wonder and magic? Only one more blink of an eye! Just today, we had a beautiful sunny morning and decided to have a picnic with The Tru Crew. We grabbed a picnic blanket and a to-go breakfast from Panera. Then we set up on the field at the track across from Tru’s school. It was the closest I’ve ever gotten to a doll-and-tea-party moment with my child! Tru sat on my lap to eat his bagel and drink his mango smoothie, and I was in heaven with the sun shining on our faces. But then Tru got the idea to play soccer with Dinion. With Dinion as the soccer ball. He kicked Dinion hard, launching his poor stuffed animal all around the field. And we were right back to my sports-loving Tru; my “tea party” moment was over!


Parenting Stress

One thing I never realized about having children is how it would touch every aspect of my life. There’s never a day that I don’t worry about him. There’s never a day that I don’t beat myself up about how I could have done better as a mom. The worry and the guilt are heavy backpacks I always carry and never take off, and they definitely leave me weary. As soon as I clean them, new fingerprints appear on the French doors. There are permanent stains all over the dining room chairs. Every weekend, you can find me spraying down a big pile of (heavily stained) laundry with Shout. Plus more bed sheets to clean. Every weekday: breakfast to prepare, lunch to pack, and a messy lunch box to clean after school. Monday through Friday, there’s the commute to school at 8am and the commute back at 3pm. He’s up at 6am every day, and that wake-up call comes every Saturday and Sunday too. If there’s anything I want to do by myself (a haircut or a yoga class) I have to plan ahead and make sure someone can watch him. I’ve received two calls from the school nurse during the school year, and both times a terror washed over me in that moment of waiting to find out what was wrong (one time it was a minor injury at gym class and another time he had thrown up (he never showed any sign of feeling ill that morning before school!)).

Of course I always knew that raising a child would be challenging. But here’s what no one ever told me: once you accept responsibility for the care of another human body, there’s a sort of endless weariness that waxes and wanes but never completely leaves.

Last night, I was cooking dinner while Chris and Tru were at baseball. I love food (and always have) and enjoy cooking, so I was having a lot of fun creating one of my favorite dishes (risotto) while singing along (loudly) to my favorite songs. When the boys got home, Tru immediately went into a slump, and it dragged me way down too. He doesn’t like a lot of the songs I like. He doesn’t like to dance and doesn’t like when I dance. He doesn’t like anything I cook (he’s never eaten any of my homemade dinners since he was a year old). Chris told Tru he had to at least taste what I made, and Tru got more upset. Tru tasted it and said he didn’t like it, but I think he made up his mind to dislike it before he even tried it! Tru and I sometimes appear to be polar opposite personalities, and it can be very painful for me. It hurts. I want to share the things that bring me joy, but he seems to dislike many things that bring me joy. For a while, I even gave up on cooking because I thought I must be an awful cook for Tru to hate my food so much! Tru seems such a replica of Chris, and it can be very difficult to feel like the odd one out of the family. 

Parenting often feels like a tug-of-war between my child’s needs and my own. Here’s an example. I took him to his baseball game on a very unseasonably warm day the other day (it was near 90 degrees) and found myself wishing I didn’t have to stand in the hot sun for the hour-long game. So I found a place to sit in the shade, but had to sit on the grass, which was a bit damp and buggy. I also had to move away from the other parents in order to sit in the shade, which made me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. I cheered for Tru, but also worried when I saw kids swinging bats too close to other kids and otherwise not paying attention. So I never felt comfortable or relaxed for a moment of the game. When the game ended, I sighed with relief that it was finally time for dinner, but Tru was his typical “social butterfly” self and was already chatting with one of the parents. That parent had brought in takeout pizza from the local pizza spot, so Tru began begging for take-out pizza for dinner. Trevor always wants to eat out and always requests indulgent treats, which is continually stressful for me. I feel the main reason I’m up 40 pounds since becoming a parent is due to this food stress! I also never know whether to allow Tru to take the lead and make his own food choices or whether to be more of a dictator and decide for him. In this case, I said “no” to pizza. Next, another little boy from the team started running across the baseball field with a soccer ball and Tru immediately joined to play. I’m so happy that Tru is so confident and extroverted and that he just joins in to play along! I want to support him. But it’s often a drag on me since I’m so shy and introverted and generally just want to go straight home in these cases. So I stood and watched him play soccer for a while after already watching him play the baseball game. Finally I insisted, “Tru, we’re leaving now” and started heading toward the car hoping he’d follow. We arrived home from the game at about 7pm. I cooked dinner (fruit, yogurt, and Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese). Then I cleaned everything up after dinner and fed the dog and got him water. Then I got Tru into the shower to wash off the insane amount of dirt from the game (dirt deep in his nails and his socks all brown), plus brush his teeth and rinse with Act mouthwash (I was told Tru had a cavity at his last dentist appointment, so I’ve been strict with his oral care routine since!) All while running downstairs to get Calvin outside and back in (the neighbors called the cops on us for “dog barking” without ever talking to us first. So now I feel I have to run out and get Cal immediately back inside after going out. Thanks, neighbors, for making my life that much harder so you never have to hear a dog do what dogs naturally do!) I write all this just to express that trying to honor Trevor’s desires and attend to my own often feels like the most exhausting balancing act.

This school year was extremely difficult with illnesses and viruses also. It felt as though Trevor was sick every other week, and I wish I was exaggerating when I write that. About a week after our return from April vacation, for example, Tru caught a cold. A couple weeks later, he caught a pretty bad virus that left him with zero appetite, sleeping on the couch all day long, for about three days. That one really frightened me because he’s normally so high energy and go-go-go all day long. As soon as he recovered, I caught the same thing. Fun times! About a week after I recovered, Tru came down with another cough/stuffy nose. Chris was also sick a lot of the month with what he said was “allergies.” This awfulness isn’t out-of-the-ordinary for 2023 either. The entire school year has unfolded like this. When I try to figure out what’s going on and why, I want to gnash my teeth and weep and scream. So what I do instead is I try not to think about it. I did need this space to vent for a moment, though, because it’s traumatic.


Parenting Joy

Tru and I found a new song we love to sing together: Happily Ever After. The song is played during the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom, so Tru loves that it reminds him of Disney. And I love the melody and lyrics. We also love watching the movie Soul. Tru likes the character “22,” and I think Soul is one of the best Disney movies. The end makes me cry every single time. And we’ve seen it fifty times! Oh, and I introduced him to my favorite childhood movie, The NeverEnding Story. I like it more than ever now, since I can better appreciate the message. Tru was interested, but not in love like I was the first time I saw it.

Now that the weather is warm, Tru and I love to have picnics on the porch. As I mentioned above, a few times, Tru and I have stopped at Panera for breakfast. We bring our food and smoothies to the track near his school and set out a big blanket on the field for a picnic. I can remember one moment where Tru curled up in my lap to eat and I kissed his sugar-sweet hair. He looked up at me, squinting in the sun and smiling. I’m so grateful for those moments. They’re all that matter.

We’ve also been on a few family bike rides since we fell in love with bike riding at Palmetto Bluff. As I’m sure you can guess, Tru is obsessed with riding as fast as possible. He honestly looks so adorable, peddling those little 7-year-old legs so hard down the road! He specifically requested a speedometer for his bike (of course he did!) and he’ll let anybody who’ll listen know that his record-breaking speed so far is 27.5 miles per hour!

He still likes to cuddle in bed in the morning when he wakes up. And he still likes to hold my hand sometimes when we walk together. He’s still full of wide-eyed innocence and he still believes anything is possible. He recently lost another tooth and was so excited for his visit from the tooth fairy.

I love the joy and festivity Trevor brings to holidays. We did a special Easter egg decorating event at the golf club. And I found a fun craft where you fill a tray with whipped cream, add food coloring, and then roll eggs through it to create rainbow tie-dye Easter eggs. We also went to Easter brunch at the golf club, which included an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

We’ve done some fun activities this spring too. We’ve had some beautiful weather, so we did our first beach walk of the season. Trevor loves to dig holes and roll (literally) in the sand. While Trevor plays in the sand, I love to just sit and look out at the water and pet Calvin. Calvin will cuddle up close beside me and let me kiss his warm, silky ears; he loves to sit and watch the ocean just like me!

We’ve also done a few hikes. Trevor loves to find the “best” rocks and throw them in any ponds or streams we pass. He also likes to find the biggest sticks he can find to carry back to our car. Inevitably, a few minutes after finding a giant stick, he’ll say, “Mani, can you carry this?” (Yes, he still calls me “Mani” and I still love it!)

And we did our annual trip to Kimball Farm. We did the nine-hold pitch and putt course (Tru loves it), plus the 18-hold mini-golf course. We also did bumper boats, bumper cars, and we shot hoops and played air hockey in the arcade. We had a lot of fun sitting together at a picnic table to eat ice cream before leaving. Tru still likes to sit in my lap while eating ice cream “to stay warm.”


First Grade Tru

Tru is really thriving at school. He hasn’t found a really close friend in his classroom like he did in preschool (Henry). But he’s okay with that; he’s still so young. He tells me he loves recess; he’s found the courage this year to join with some of the older kids to play soccer and sometimes basketball or football. He also loves the “gym” and “engineering” specials. He did a report on gemstones, which he often told me all about. He was so excited for that presentation! When he got that awful virus and couldn’t go to school for three days, he was so worried that his partner, Harrison, would give the presentation without him. I reassured him that they would definitely wait, and of course they did! He often looks forward to school; he never wants to miss out on anything.

His teachers, Jane and Melissa, have been wonderful. They really support the uniqueness of each child and encourage every child to learn in his/her own way. Trevor has a lot of freedom in terms of how he spends his school days. He can select his own “work,” (projects and puzzles that are lined up on shelves and available for kids to choose from). Trevor shows a very natural love of math, and he’s testing very high in math abilities.

He’s less interested in reading and writing. He has zero interest in some of the things I loved as a little girl: music and dance. He tells me “library” and “music” are his least favorite specials. He doesn’t (yet) pick up a book to read on his own. At bedtime, he sometimes reads a book to me. And he does an amazing job! But more often, he prefers that I read to him. And I love to read to him! I also have to note how adorable his writing is at this age. He sounds everything out and misspells so many words, but in the most adorable way. Again, it’s just like Christopher Robin lives in my home! I’ve saved so many of the pictures he’s created with all of his adorable misspellings.

His classroom is full of plants and animals such as birds, hamsters, and even a bearded dragon. He’s also had lots of fun field trip opportunities, such as the Plimoth Patuxet Museum, a show at the local theater, and several visits to a local farm (place-based education). I went to his school one afternoon to help the kids plant their spring garden. That was a really special day for me, as parents weren’t allowed into schools during his final preschool and kindergarten years.

All of the kids in his class did a book report and diorama project, and parents were invited into the classroom to tour all of the presentations. While other kids chose cuddly koala bears and adorable pandas, Tru chose the common adder. He chose it because it’s one of the most venomous snakes. I was unsurprised by this. Trevor is – as I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions – highly competitive. He always wants to be (or know about or research) the “biggest” or the “best” or the “fastest” or the “most.”

After school, Tru loves to remain on the playground for up to an hour. If there are kids willing to play soccer, that’s his number one favorite playground activity. He’ll also do basketball (using the monkey bars as a basket) or football.


Tru’s Personality at Age 7

Tru is as high energy as ever. He pops out of bed at 6am most days. His bedtime is supposed to be 8pm, but he fights that daily. He normally talks himself into an extra 15-20 minutes. Every minute that he’s up, he’s looking for something to keep him busy. One day, he heard me say the phrase “out and about” and he asked me to explain it. He said “that’s me! I like to be out and about!” He related so much to that phrase, he’s repeated it a few times since! When Tru gets worn out, for example, he won’t sit and relax. He’ll just act increasingly more and more out of control. For example, after our day at Kimball Farm, Tru didn’t fall asleep in his seat on the way home. Instead, he started kicking Chris’s seat and just screaming nonsense words. I had to give him a game on my phone to help him focus and calm down.

Trevor is still obsessed with sports. He went to a big play-off Celtics game with Chis and got to stay up till midnight, so that was a big moment. He loves watching Celtics games on TV too. He’s such a big fan of players like “JT” (Jayson Tatum) and “JB” (Jaylen Brown). His hockey team also got to play on the Bruins ice during intermission! Tru was buzzing with excitement that day!

Tru is playing so many sports this spring. I was afraid the schedule would overwhelm him because it would overwhelm a lot of people, including myself. But Tru is only upset if he feels he’s missing a sport! He’s happiest when he’s being very active and physical, so it works best for him to be involved in lots of team sports versus acting stir-crazy in the house! He’s playing coach-pitch baseball this spring and he’s on the golf team with our golf club. He’s also doing local outdoor soccer, plus indoor weekend basketball and soccer. In addition, Chris signed him up for a hockey clinic. Chris manages Trevor’s sports schedule. He also volunteered to help coach the baseball team.

Here’s another thing about Tru: he loves to be silly and laugh. Tru is always interested in learning new jokes, for example. When he learns a joke that he can understand (he’s too little to understand most), he’ll repeat it several times. Here’s one he’s told me a few times, “Why did the football coach go to the bank? He needed a quarter back.” And he’ll do anything to make people laugh. For example, Tru got his first dip in a pool the other day at the neighbor’s house. They have two little girls, Emma and Cora. All the kids were shivering when they got out, so Cora wrapped herself head to toe in a towel and laid down in a sunny spot in the yard. Tru ran over and laid on top of her and said, “Here’s a towel! Just what I needed!” He was putting on a show, pretending he didn’t know Cora was under the towel, all to make her laugh. When she did laugh, he kept going with his antics. It was very adorable.

I love how Tru is silly sometimes without trying to be. The other day when he was in the shower, I told him for the 20th time to stop picking his nose and eating boogers. He said to me, “I’m not from this planet. Because on my home planet, we all love to eat sand and dirt and boogers. But not rocks, since they’re too hard to chew.” He was completely serious. The “home planet” talk definitely came from that story about The Little Boy and JT the Dragon that I’ve been inventing. But it’s completely true: Trevor has absolutely loved to eat sand and dirt of all kinds since he was a little toddler!

Since our November trip to Disney, Tru continues to be obsessed with amusement parks and roller coasters. In the morning, he’ll often sit on the couch with his iPad to play his RollerCoaster Tycoon game. He tells me his favorite song is the theme music from the “Tron” ride at Magic Kingdom. We found a movie about Walt Disney and the building of Walt Disney World, and he was pretty interested in that. He often works Disney World or Universal Studios into conversations.

Basically, Trevor’s a mini-me of Chris. People even frequently remark to Chris, “Your son looks just like you!” And that was another thing I was never warned about parenthood: it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that you end up with a miniature version of your spouse and feel outnumbered!

I’ll close with a few final anecdotes:

I went to check on sleeping Tru right before I went to bed last night (as I always do). He was on his back with one hand drawn up toward his face, lightly touching his lips. He looked like the sweetest little cherub, just perfect innocence. I love that moment of watching him sleep every night, it’s a moment of peace. I feel filled with awe to think that I live in a world that creates miracles!

Some moments with Tru feel like a perfect snapshot in time. Sort of like stepping (for a moment) out of a world of tumult and confusion and into a world of perfect love and joy and peace. I mentioned one of those moments with our picnic at the track. Another one happened this morning. Tru grabbed me for a hug and started singing a song I like to sing to him, You Are So Beautiful. We sang it together and he looked deep into my eyes, smiled, and pressed his nose right against mine.

The other day, I was stepping off the porch and into the house when I noticed a pile of shoes by the door. There was a pair of Chris’s shoes, one pair of mine, and one pair of Trevor’s. As much as he’s growing so rapidly these days (especially his feet!), Tru’s shoes were still the tiniest in the pile. They were smaller than mine and dwarfed by Chris’s. I just had to pause for a moment because the image struck me. Seven years ago, the tiny being wearing those little shoes didn’t even exist. And now, he’s filled me with so much love that I can’t even imagine life without him!


Easter Photos


Tru was sweet and posed for some Easter photos with his “big brother” Calvin. They’re certainly not the best of friends – I think they mostly forget about each other – but sometimes I’ll find Cal cuddled up with Tru when he’s playing on his iPad on the couch. And Tru often thinks to throw a few bites of his snack onto the floor for Cal or lets him inside when he paws at the door.



Tru’s brand new big teeth are really growing in these days!



Tru was super competitive about the Easter egg hunt at the golf club. He tried to be first at the door where we all gathered before the egg hunt began. To his dismay, they had the toddlers and preschoolers get a head start. So Tru had to wait! But he wasted no time catching up, and ended up with a basket full of eggs.



I sure love that 7-year-old smile!




Spring Photos


This boy is not a fan of dressing up and taking photos. But he’ll smile if we come up with something creative to do! In these photos, Tru was tossing a flower toward my camera.


Here’s Tru, posing to look just like the fountain!



Photos from Tru’s First Grade School Year



Here’s Tru’s official first grade photo. Sweetheart!



Here’s Tru’s team photo of his very first basketball team! Tru played for the local YMCA and loved being a part of a team. He was lucky. His team won every game of the regular season and they won the championship too. Tru was a great player and got stronger and stronger as the season went on. He scored several baskets by the end of the season, and he scored a few baskets during the championship game too!



Tru’s teachers took all of the following photos and posted them to a classroom viewing page:



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