School is in Session

Nine months ago we found ourselves in at a crossroads with Hannah and were weighing one of the biggest decisions first-time parents have.

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Sure, there have been other very important decisions to make in the past 5+ years. For instance, how long do we breastfeed, do we mix formula in there? When and how do we potty train her? Where do we send her to daycare and preschool? And not to mention all the medical issues big and small she’s dealt with (though she and we have been extremely fortunate so far with that stuff compared to what many others have to face). At the end of the day, though, those things all seem to work out and probably would have regardless of what decision we made.

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However, this summer we had to make a decision on when and where Hannah starts Kindergarten. She’s a June birthday and is now halfway to her 6th year of life, so we could have waited another year to start her. And up until a pivotal conference with her pre-K teachers we were comfortable giving her another year of pre-K so that she’d be on the older end of her class instead of one of the youngest. Her pre-K teachers were adamant that she start Kindergarten this year, but we weren’t sure. Our parents and other family members were all very supportive and helpful, but we knew that ultimately the decision was on Sam and I to make. I think we made the right call.

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But that was just half the decision, we still had to decide where she goes. Fort Wayne and our surrounding communities have some really strong options, way more than when we were kids. Public school either at FWCS or East Allen. Christian school. Catholic school. Lutheran school. Montessori school. And there are even more options with that. Sam and I are both proud products of FWCS and we really want to believe in the system, but we’ve all heard the negatives, and Sam hears them louder than I do since she interacts with parents at work day in and day out. Ultimately, after seriously the most intense discussions we’ve had in our marriage to date, we went with St. Joe Central, our neighborhood school.

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It’s still too early, in my opinion, to make an informed judgment on St. Joe just yet, she’s only halfway through her first year. However, while there have been some red flags out of the gate, so far it’s been a very positive experience, and it starts with her awesome teacher, Mrs. Townsend.

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What we do know, though, is she was and is absolutely ready for Kindergarten. I don’t think that would surprise anyone who knows Hannah, but after our first parent-teacher conference we knew we had made the right call. Her teacher said more nice things about Hannah in that 20 minutes than I imagine all my teachers said about me in my 14 years of school combined (we had Reading Readiness when I was in school). I managed to get pretty good grades thanks to the discipline and encouragement of my parents, but Sam was a much better student than I, so it’s no wonder that Hannah is off to a great start with a mom like her.

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One of the best highlights to me so far has been seeing her make strides in learning how to read. Every day she gets better and better at sounding out words and I’m continually amazed. But what made me (and Sam) even more proud was how her teacher gushed about Hannah’s behavior. She was really well behaved at daycare, and for the most part she is at home as well, but socially she’s flourished. She raises her hands and answers questions eagerly. Plus, she completes her work quickly and instead of not knowing what to do with herself, she goes and helps the other kids with their work and she does that on her own, we and the teacher never had to teach her to do that. I think that’s an innate thing that comes with being in our family – I grew up surrounded by professional coaches and educators and Sam has her share of family members who are natural teachers as well.

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This is a really long-winded way of bragging on my daughter, which I try to not do too much, but in this case, I think it’s going to be cool to look back and read this when she’s older and still helping others. I absolutely love that it’s in her mindset at such a young age.

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Other things worth mentioning for posterity’s sake: she loves gymnastics, going to the Y pool (working on going under water and swimming without a floaty), is super sweet with her little brother Logan (most of the time), and lost her first tooth in October.

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On a less serious note, Hannah continues to develop her love for art and potty humor. Everything is a canvas. If there’s a blank surface – scrap paper, cardboard box, receipt, coloring book, steamed up window, doesn’t matter what – she’ll find a writing utensil (or her finger) and draw a picture. She loves drawing pictures of her family and her attention to detail when it comes to hair and dresses is really neat to witness.

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I’m not really sure where she gets her not-so-clean sense of humor. Couldn’t be from her dad, I am way too serious to make fart jokes! The challenge will be teaching her there is a time and place for irreverence –  but I just need someone to teach me first haha!

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December 11, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Observations and musings, Updates. Leave a comment.

Give Me Five

Well, here we are. Hannah is half a decade old. When you say it like that it seems like a pretty long time, right? Well, I think most parents would agree that it flies. I’m sure I’m not the first one to say that when it comes to parenthood the days are long but the years 544466_10150888169785940_187973573_nfly by.  I can’t say that it feels like yesterday we were pacing the basement of Sam’s mom’s house trying to soothe Hannah to sleep, encouraging her first steps, or dismally potty training, because when you throw a second kid in the mix it all becomes a bit of a blur. But I do remember quite vividly the exact moment she was born, completely blue and silent, and that hour-long 5 seconds before they cleared her lungs and she let out the first of a million future wails.

We have a remarkable little girl. I know, I know, you think your kids are remarkable too. And they probably are. But it’s so incredible how much of a pedestal we put our own kids on, I’m not ashamed to admit it.  For all the parental training we went to, I think something that would have been the most valuable is if someone we respected told us: “Look, you’re going to think your kid is the greatest thing ever. Everyone does. But that doesn’t mean you have to go around telling everyone, including your kid, such a thing.” Humility isn’t easy and we all know plenty of people who are self-declared super-humble beings.

19424285_10109407802220799_8242603081089313193_n (1)My point is, I’m not going to go into all the amazing things Hannah does that your kid probably doesn’t. I’m not going to talk about how she’s pretty much the smartest preschooler in North America or that she’s funnier than Tina Fey and Chris Rock combined. Or even that she’s stunningly cute and beautiful (fact: if you google “cutiful” she’ll be at the top of page 1), but that’s not what I’m writing about tonight. That would be way too obnoxious and I’m way too humble to do that.

For posterity’s sake I do want to write a little bit about what she’s into. If you don’t care because you already threw up from my previous obnoxiousness then feel free to go back to your Facebook stream.

Hannah’s favorite activities: eating sweets, doing gymnastics, doing anything with her IMG_0179older cousins Monica and Mariah, who she completely adores and admires; spending time with her Aunt Heather and her many loving grandparents; going to the park; drawing/coloring, doing projects with her momma, playing with her world of little animals and people (Littlest Pet Shop, Palace Pets, Disney princesses, etc.), playing with Barbies, playing with stuffed animals, reading books, watching movies/shows/videos, swimming, riding her bike/scooter, playing with her friends in the neighborhood and at school, and, of course, making poop jokes.

Hannah’s least favorite activities: eating vegetables, getting her hair washed, taking naps, and sharing with her little brother. And, sadly, t-ball. Maybe she’ll come around in a couple of years, but since she was about two and a IMG_0096half it’s been pretty clear team sports may not be her thing. And I’m totally fine with that as long as she finds things to do that she loves and involve movement.

Dad’s least favorite things Hannah does: she watches those ridiculously useless and pointless surprise eggs videos on YouTube. I cannot fathom what so enchanting about them but she gets complete zoned in on them. I don’t go around kicking people in the shins a lot, I’ve grown out of that, but if I saw one of the people who creates those videos I’d put a boot on and take a Messi free kick right to their tibia. Also, she whines and throws fits a lot when she doesn’t get her way and that’s pretty annoying. But show me a 5 year old who doesn’t do that and I’ll call bullshit.

Sorry, that took a dark turn there. Back to Hannah. If you’re still reading you’re probably aware of most of these things. But here’s something that really only Hannah IMG_6018and I know – every time I drop her off at school I make her pinky swear that she’s going to have an awesome day, or some variation of that, and I usually get a kiss or five. But, I’ve noticed something the last couple months that shows that she’s getting older and makes me want to cry a little – she’s slightly embarrassed to do our little routine in front of her friends.

 

She’s developing some self-awareness, a huge part of maturing, which is awesome, because I want her to be mindful and confident. But while she’s always been a little shy about being in the spotlight, this feels more like “daaad, the other kids are watching, be cool and just leeeave.” I know she won’t say that for at least a few more years, and maybe she never will because I think she probably already knows that’s just going to encourage me to be even more embarrassing. I’m pretty excited about that part of her getting older. She’s as goofy as I am and the older she gets and the more she understands the real world, the more important I believe it is to have a sense of humor and not take one’s self too seriously.

One last story that is more for us to look back on. I mentioned Hannah can shy away from the spotlight and can be a little self-conscious when it comes to other kids.

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But she surprised me a couple of weeks ago when she showed some grit and “who cares what others think” spunk. She ran into another kid at the Y and knocked some teeth out of place – it was pretty nasty, a lot of blood, pain, and tears and we thought they were going to have to pull the teeth. And that would have been the start of an interesting couple of years. However, instead of the teeth coming out they went back into place, but are turning gray, which you can kind of tell from the photos. Hannah told me one of those days that she doesn’t care if the teeth fall out or turn gray and she knows that it might look odd and other kids might make fun of her – “I don’t care dad, it’s OK.” she said. I absolutely love that attitude and hope she carries it with her long after her old goofy dad is gone.

Happy 5th birthday to my lovely little girl. I can’t imagine life without her.

 

 

 

June 27, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Observations and musings, Updates. 2 comments.

Buttcheek: is there a funnier word?

Let me tell you about a milestone as significant as I can recall in our daughter’s young life. In the animated classic movie Moana, one of the century’s great cinematic characters, Maui, as portrayed by our fine nation’s current highest pimg_5522aid actor (can’t wait to read this line in 30 years), esteemed thespian, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, remarked in a pinnacle scene: “Really? Blow dart in my buttcheek.” This seemingly irreverent and inconsequential line actually may have singlehandedly ignited an irrepressible and relatively highly developed sense of humor in 4 year old Hannah Pickett.

I’m not exaggerating. Ok, well, maybe just a tad bit of hyperbole. But ever since that monumental moment in our daughter’s life, the word buttcheek has now been forever immortalized. And from it a beautiful, unbreakable, unmistakable bond has been forged between father and daughter. Hannah and I, regardless of the circumstance, no matter how grave, will always and forever will be able to crack each other up with one single movie line.

I’ve indicated before in this blog that Hannah has an awesome sense of humor, and I’m guessing most dads think the same thing of their kids. Even though I’ve been warned that her fits and tantrums and random acts of emotional meltdown are child’s play compared to what’s to come when the unmistakable, unforgiving hormones of puberty strike, I’m quite certain that this shared love for immature, crude humor is going to see us through waters choppy enough to chatter Moana’s canoe, but not her destiny.

How do I know this? Here’s a story or two.

img_5294Not long ago we watched Home Alone. It was a little over Hannah’s head at times, but she stuck with it and the payoff in the last 20 minutes was unbelievably fantastic. She laughed so hard I can’t believe she didn’t pee her pants. Well, she was on my lap and in a nightgown, so I guess I’m lucky she didn’t pee on me. And as soon as it was over, even though it was bedtime and she was exhausted, she HAD to set “traps” for Sam and I. We played along and the traps worked remarkably – we had ourselves a little Kevin McAlister. And so we did it again for the next several nights: fast forward to the last 20 minutes, then reenact some of the scenes. And she laughed hysterically each time. There may not be a sound in the world I love more than Hannah cracking up.

Not convinced she’s a future queen of comedy?

As I write this I’m wondering if maybe she’s a budding delinquent who is going to be playing over the line pranks on people when she gets older. That. Would. Be. Awesome. At least until she seriously injures someone and/or goes to jail. Then it’s not so funny I guess.

Back to buttcheeks. Of course it’s slightly embarrassing when she says borderline inappropriate things in front of her great-grandparents, but you have to take the good with the bad. And at least she’s not picking up serious vulgarity, at least yet. Sam and I are pretty good at watching our mouths. Well, Sam is, my filter is pretty loose.

Other updates, since I haven’t written anything since last summer, include:

-Hannah is starting to spell and sound out some words (the first word she spelled besides her name was “hat” and that was a pretty cool moment) and she really wants to learn to read. Sam does an amazing job with her when they’re home a couple of days a week developing so many skills.

-She still loves art, crafts, and “projecks.” Her drawings seem to improve almost daily, especially the tattoos she draws on me with markers, which is one of my favorite activities. I will not be mad one bit if she becomes a badass tattoo artist when she gets older.

She loves gymnastics and seems to be doing pretty well at that, improving every week.

-She starts t-ball this summer, playing on a team with her friends/neighbors Noah, Olivia, and Riley, and I hope she loves it.

-The girl can sing. I know we all think our kids are the best singers, artists, etc. but I swear she can carry/match a tune beautifully. I’m excited to see if she develops that. Nothing would make me a prouder papa than to see her singing a solo on a stage one day.

-She loves nature, especially bugs. Except spiders. We’ve had a freakishly mild winter with some 60-70 degree days in February, so we were able to take a hike a couple of weeks ago in the woods and her favorite thing was turning over every rock and log to look for bugs. She just reaches right down and picks up potato (rolly-polly) bugs, worms, centipedes, whatever. Except spiders. Wonder where she got that?

She loves her baby brother Logan and is and will continue to be an awesome big sis. She helps him learn words, eat his food, and consoles him when he’s crying.

-She couldn’t admire anyone more than her big cousins Monica and Mariah. She emulates them when they’re together and asks if they’re going to be at every family gathering.

-She has a vibrant fashion style. She has to wear a skirt every day, unless it’s warm enough to wear a dress. Her pants must be tight, not wiggly. And everything is super colorful.

-Drama, drama, drama. Hannah will throw a meltdown fit in an instant, but come back to reality just as quickly. I’m told we ain’t seen nothing yet. God help us.

Final story. And this will stick with me forever. We were at the park a couple of weeks ago and an older girl was helping Hannah climb and do other stuff. When they stopped playing together, Hannahimg_4683-2 came to me and said: “She was very nice and helped me a lot. When I get bigger I’m going to help people too!” I couldn’t have been prouder at that moment. I made Hannah stop what she was doing, look me in the eyes, and I told her that’s the best thing she could ever say and that I was very proud of her for thinking that way.

It’s moments like those that I’m thankful for the people who raised me and for my extremely thoughtful and kind-hearted wife.

March 4, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Observations and musings, Updates. Leave a comment.

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