Monday, August 29, 2011

Gavin Gatsby: 7 Year Old

A post alternately titled: Preemie No More

Gavin turned seven on Saturday! And I'm not even going to go into the walk down memory lane of his prematurity. It's here if you want to relive it. It's just not for this post.

As I thought of all the things I could write on his birthday, there was one glaring theme that's stood out to me over the past year: He's not my little preemie any more.

I'm not sure I will ever be able to say that we CONQUERED prematurity. There are scars, few physical, mostly emotional. Lingering quirks that I will always wonder: did being born too early cause this?

But I've found that over the last year, I haven't qualified Gavin as a preemie in talking to people any more. When we went to the walk in clinic for an illness, I almost forgot to mention it in his medical history. We're moving past it.

This year has been an amazing year for Gavin. First grade brought SUCH growth! We ended Kindergarten still slightly behind - or "progressing towards goal" as they put it. He entered first grade not behind! Over the summer he had somehow caught up to his peers. It was neat to show up at school weekly for my time helping the students needing a little extra help, and NOT have to bring him out in the hall with me.

He struggled with following directions. The teacher would take him aside and talk through the instructions, he would repeat them back, and then he just wouldn't execute them - missing some crucial step, and then not realizing it. She was quite puzzled by it. This led to an ADHD evaluation, which I strongly felt he did not have, but thought this might get us on track to some sort of solution. When meds and a psychologist were recommended, I politely declined. I know my kid. This wasn't the issue, and his teacher wholeheartedly agreed. I asked her if his behavior would be concerning if he were in Kindergarten, and she said not likely. I beat myself up for sending him to school and not holding him back a year to start Kindergarten when his due date would have placed him there.

By the end of first grade, though, he was continuing to make progress. The only area that was "progressing towards goal" was comprehension. There was huge growth from his EOY Kindergarten scores to his EOY First Grade scores. He was catching up!

What else did Gavin accomplish this last year?

He remained a strong and valuable player on his soccer team, and played indoor soccer for the first time. We are looking forward to playing with a new team this season.

He played flag football, and did not enjoy it. This secretly makes mama happy

Another season of baseball this spring - he seems to enjoy it, although it's not an overly dynamic game at this age.

He ran track for the first time. He made consistent improvement on his 400m race time, and qualified to Regionals in the long jump and 400m. He ran on the track that Chad ran in college and shaved another 4.5 seconds off his 400m time. We were SO proud of him! He's also done some fun runs over the summer, getting some longer distances under his belt.

We took a very special road trip to Colorado in January, just the two of us, and met up with my uncles for a ski trip. It was freezing so we only skied two days, but he did an amazing job on the mountain! He was very careful and responsible, with the right amount of fear and bravado. He was getting down blue trails without any problem by the end of the second day. We had such a blast, and he was a terrific road trip partner.

He recently took a "man trip" with Chad and Zach to eastern Iowa where they canoed and hiked.

Last Friday I was in his classroom to help administer spelling tests. I asked the teacher if she wanted me to mark them when they were done. It wasn't a totally selfless act, as I wanted to see how Gavin did in relation to all the other kids.

In Kindergarten, when he was struggling, I always had this thought in my head that I could handle if he struggled, as long as he wasn't the worst one. Isn't that weird?

I graded the tests. He missed a few, as did most kids. It turns out, he was perfectly average. Do we aspire to be better than average? Absolutely, and as parents it's our job to push him to be the best version of himself is possible.

But when I think back to the days leading up to his birth, and those early days in the NICU - faced with such a huge range of outcomes, perfectly average seemed possibly out of reach.

We're closing the chapter on prematurity.

Gavin, you are the light of my soul. Everyone that knows you well - pretty much every teacher and caregiver you've had - always has the same thing to say about you: "Gavin has the BIGGEST heart." We are so proud of you, how good you are to others, how hard you work, how focused and determined you are (when you want to be).

You have had such an amazing year! Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gavin's Birthday

Sorry for the lack of posts, I've been crazy busy at work.

Gavin's bday party is Sunday 8/28 at 4 pm at chuck e cheese. Family, you are more than welcome to stop by, just realize he will be excited and running around with his friends so you all may not be as cool to him as you usually are :)

We are tentatively doing lunch with my side of the fam Saturday, it's a bit up in the air if we decide to do a race Saturday morning. Can you tell I am a bit out of sorts and unorganized??

We have ordered Gavin a desktop for his gift this year. In terms of other gift ideas....he's getting to the hard to shop for at this age. Gift cards would be good (iTunes, clothing stores, Target), size 8 clothing (especially pants and shorts), and then he's still into cars and that kind of stuff that he's always liked.

Another thing he seems to have found a bit of a fascination with is jewelry - little bracelets and necklaces - the "man" ones that are just a simple string with a little circle pendant on them. He got one woven bracelet with a round pendant with some character on it at kum n go but it wouldn't stay tied. Then he found a neckalce that was basically just a black string with a purplish circle on it that he wore for a while. Yeah, he's pretty much stylish and awesome enough to rock man jewelry!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day of Hope

August 19th is about honouring and remembering the lives of babies and children that could not stay with us. By doing this we are speaking out about the death of babies whether it is through pregnancy, infant or even child loss.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of Second Grade

There will be no pictures to document the first day of school this year. Gavin is officially a big kid that doesn't need mom or dad to walk him to the bus! I'm excited for this independence and confidence for him, but a little sad for me. My baby is growing up.

Friday I took the day off and we went to meet the teacher and drop off his school supplies. For some reason I always get choked up walking into school on the first and last days of the school year. School was a very exciting and positive experience for me. I loved it. I can still remember all the excitement I felt on the first day of school. It's fun to experience that with your child, at the same time it's hard watching them grow up.

Each year gets a little tougher. Expectations grow, and tolerance for misbehavior diminishes. The pressure to succeed and ability to fail mounts. Cliques form, mean kids get meaner. Crushes form, hearts break. There are so many great things about growing up, but there are so many negatives to experience as well! This is the first year I just wanted to grab him and say "stay little....just a while longer". I know it won't get any easier.

This year the desks are no longer grouped facing other. They are lined up in neat rows facing the front of the classroom. The reading books are thicker. There are less play things in the classroom. Gavin picked out his desk and neatly arranged his school supplies inside. He checked out the room and got very excited to see the bin full of Goosebumps books. We found the coatroom, stopped in to say hi to his 1st grade teacher, and then left.

In the car he said "I wish it was Monday!". So glad he's a kid that's excited about starting school.

So this morning the first day of school came and went without any fanfare. I took Sam to day care at normal time, and called home to make sure he had left to walk to the bus on time. He left a few minutes early, Chad said, because he saw another kid down there waiting that he knew.

I can only imagine him walking/trotting down the sidewalk with his cool new backpack (Skullcandy - I'm assuming a name like that implies awesomeness). Self-assured, not at all scared, excited for new friends and new experiences. All things we've raised him to be.

It's still awfully hard to let go though.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Conversations with a two year old are just hilarious....

Sam: Mommy, what do you call me?
(At this point I'm out of nicknames)Babycakes! You called me babycakes last night!

He's right....I guess I do call him babycakes, I totally forgot!


And the night before that, we were talking about who everyone's mommy was

Sam: Who's your mommy?
Grandma Janet
Who's Daddy's mommy?
Grandma Betsy
Who's Gavin's mommy?
No, you're MY mommy!
Yes, I'm your mommy too. I'm mommy to both of you
No mommy, I want ALL of you


His other frequent expression these days is "Moooooommmmmmy! What did you do that for?" (very accusing tone)


"Sam, I love you!"
to which he replied "Thanks!"
it's obviously a guy thing!


Last week, I dropped him off at home after his playdate at his new pre school. He didn't want me to leave, it was so cute. To stall me he said:

"mommy, mommy come here! I'm going to tell you a question!"
What is it?
"ummmm....ummmm....what's your name?"
I answer and get up to leave

"hey mommy, MOMMY! I've got to tell you nother question?"
What now Sam?
"ummmm....ummmm....did you feed Meatball?"
Answer, start to leave

"MOMMMMMYYYY!!!! I'm going to tell you nother question!"
Ok Sam, last one

This went on for a while. I indulged it because it was so stinking cute!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Minnesota Trip: Day 3

Day 3 of our trip was all about the regional track meet! We didn't have to be there too early so we were able to get up and have a leisurely breakfast. Where Gavin was very disciplined and limited himself to just 1 bite of sausage! We packed up and headed to the track at Hamline University - where Chad went to school.

We checked in at the track and I was happy to hear that the field events were running on time - Gav was scheduled to long jump at 12:15 and run the 400m at 1:30.

Hanging out in the Johnston tent:

Then unfortunately, the field events started getting behind, and Gav had to literally jump right before he had to check in for his running event. but we still got some good pics of his jumps.

Then he was shuttled off for his big run, and mama was super nervous because it was kind of a rush and I didn't know how he would handle it. He did FANTASTIC! He beat his personal record by almost 5 seconds and came in 11th over all. I started out with intentions of getting more running shots, but as he came closer I was jumping up and down cheering him on, not snapping shots.

Then the rest of the day turned into a bit of a cluster as we tried to figure out what was going on with the long jump. Turned out they had completely shut it down for the 400m and all the kids hadn't jumped yet. We had to wait around and see if Gavin made it into the final round for long jump. Around this time, Sam had reached the end of his rope, so he started melting down. We had to hang out about an hour longer to find out that Gavin did not make the final round, so it was time to leave.

Sam of course fell asleep during the stroller ride back to the car, and we managed to change his diaper and get him into his car seat without waking him up. We stopped at Subway on the way out of town and made the drive home.

Overall, it was a great trip, the only bad part being that I had to be up at 4 am the next morning to catch a flight to Chicago!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Minnesota Trip: Day 2

Day 2 in Minnesota was: MALL OF AMERICA!!

Or, in Sam's words "Baby rides!!" That's what he called the kiddie rides at Nick Universe.

We got up and had breakfast - the Embassy Suites has a hot breakfast (free!) every day with made to order omelets...yum!. We tried to shovel healthy food in the kids mouths in between bites of sausage. Actually, Gavin did pretty well, not fighting our guidance to eat somewhat healthy leading up to his race the next day.

We hit up Nordstrom Rack first, as it happened to be right there when we walked in, and was the only store I really wanted to shop at. I picked up some great new work out clothes, Gavin got a shirt and jammie pants, and Sam got the Skechers Sandals he had been talking about for a while. My 2 yr old having shoe cravings...where does he get that??

Then it was Nick Universe time. The boys rode one ride together, and then we realized we had to divide and conquer. Chad took Gavin and I took Sam.

Sam, or "The One That Has.NO.FEAR". He'll ride anything! He absolutely loves it.

We met up for lunch and ate at a noodle place - chicken noodle soup for the kids and salads for the parents.

Back at Nick Universe for more rides. We stayed together for the afternoon and the kids had fun jumping in Sponge Bob's house (a giant inflatable pineapple bounce house) and shooting ghosts on the ghost blaster ride. Before we left, we agreed to the log ride, and Sam was tall enough to go with a chaperone, so I took the kids while Chad snuck off to eat an ice cream cone - gotcha!!

Sam LOVED the log ride, and we managed to get out of there without getting soaked.

Back at the hotel, I hit the treadmill at the gym, showered up and we went down to the manager's reception. Free cocktails and munchies! We had leftover Thai food for dinner, and I made hot "steak and cheese" sandwiches for the kids. Using the leftover steamed beef, and cheese and bread that I brought from home, a few seconds in the microwave = a pretty fancy dinner made in a microwave, if I do say so myself!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sam's New Day Care

Next week, Sam will be back in a day care center. We just couldn't find a new nanny that met all our requirements. And it is probably time that he gets into a more structured environment anyway.

This morning we had a 2 hour play date scheduled there so he could get a feel for it before he starts full time on Monday. This morning he was out of sorts and telling me he didn't want to go, and then telling me he wanted me to stay the whole time (I was prepared to do so, but hoping I wouldn't have to).

We got there and he held a death grip on my hand for a while. Eventually I was able to get him to play without holding my hand. Then I backed up and watched him from afar against the wall. When they said it was time to pick up for snack time, he came back to me. There was one little girl that had her eye on him and she came over to us and started dancing around like a maniac - a move that Sam is very familiar with. He just laughed and laughed watching her. When he tried to grab my hand, I suggested he hold her hand instead, which he did.

He quickly ran for the bathroom when they called them to wash hands, and sat at the table next to his new girl friend. I watched as they doled out snacks and juice and he didn't even look for me. I tip toed over and asked if I could leave.

"Bye Mommy!"

When I picked him up, he told me his favorite part was going outside and building sand castles. I felt good about all the staff in the room, and they all have teaching certificates or MBA's. Hoping for an easy drop off Monday!