My dear Tobin,
A miracle has occurred: you and your brothers spent 18 hours in a car together with almost no fighting.
We just got back from our spring break trip to Nashville. I thought it was an eight-hour drive, but door-to-door (we stayed south of the city to be closer to Tyler and Oxana’s house), it was about nine each way. We broke it into two-day drives, spending the night in the St. Louis area each time, but it was still a whole lot of car time. You guys did such a good job. I think you sometimes have it the hardest—you’re old enough to be frustrated that you can’t do everything Miles does, but you’re still young enough that it’s hard to let all of Callum’s pestiness slide. Still, I was very proud of your behavior. We listened to Justin Roberts’ Lemonade album over and over, as well as an audiobook (Bruce Coville’s My Teacher Is an Alien). You got scared a couple of times and needed to turn off the audiobook, so we switched back to music, but mostly you enjoyed it a lot. You mentioned a suspicion that your teacher might be an alien too.
Photo by Denny
Once we arrived in the Nashville area, you and your cousin Aleks became immediate best friends. You hugged every time you saw each other, you held hands when we walked outside, and you couldn’t wait for him to come over to our rental house each day. I’m sure he’s missing you as much as you’re missing him right now.
We did a lot of fun stuff, including almost daily cocktail hour. Aleks really enjoyed the cherry lemonade cocktails, as did the rest of the kids (except Vera, who’s too little). We did a lot of cheers-ing, including the Russian version, “За здоровье!”
Photo by Gary Clarke
Another of your favorite activities was a visit to the Monkey’s Treehouse, a fun little play center with a big climbing structure and various areas to encourage imaginative play. Your favorite was the play kitchen and restaurant, and you served up some delicious dishes while wearing a jaunty chef’s hat. You didn’t get lice, either (bonus). The weather ended up being unseasonably cool, so we didn’t do some of the outdoorsy things we’d hoped to. The last time we visited in July, we took a trip downtown that included seeing some of the famous honky tonk sites as well as enjoying the great splash pad in Cumberland Park. I was hoping to do some of that again, and I also dreamed of taking a day trip to Mammoth Caves National Park. Unfortunately, on the forty-degree days we had there, spending a lot of time outdoors wasn’t the best way to keep our family members happy.
Still, we managed to do a lot. Uncle Tyler even took us on a private tour of the Vanderbilt University football facilities. Running around on that big field was a pretty great experience for you. The very best part was spending time with our extended family and letting you and your cousins get to know each other. We’re hoping to find a time to meet them in St. Louis for more adventures.
Now that we’re back to reality, we’ve found ourselves in that race to the end of the school year that always happens after spring break. You’re excited to play baseball, which will start next week. It’s going to keep our family very busy for the next couple of months, as you and Miles are playing on the same nights but at different times. We’re going to be spending three nights a week camped out at the baseball diamonds at City Park. I don’t even know how I’m going to manage dinner. I was told that I would be less stressed as my kids get older, but I’m not sure that’s true. Your dad and I might have to do some tag-teaming.
Photo by Denny
You’re ready for kindergarten and feel quite fancy about the fact that you’ll be taking kindergarten-level summer classes. By this time next month you will have completed Kindergarten Round-Up at your future elementary school, though with all the times you’ve been there for Miles’s events, it will hardly seem like a transition at all.
Along with that, your personality is such that I’m not the slightest bit worried about how you will handle kindergarten. You collect friends like Callum collects crumbs in his sleeves. Your bright smile and cheerful demeanor are magnetic, and I’m really going to miss you when you start spending more time and school and less time with me. I was vaguely aware that my children would probably grow up (and I’m glad that you’re healthy and strong), but that doesn’t mean I have to like the daily reality of having less of you. You’re not a peach one hundred percent of the time—you have your crabby moods and tantrums now and then, especially when you’re tired—but you’re still one of my all-time tops.
Your current favorites: Wild Kratts, pepperoni pizza (this seems like it’s going to be a life-long affection), Geronimo Stilton books at bedtime, playing outside, and a new Lego project you’ve been working on very hard. Having attempted to help you and Miles put together Lego creations, I can attest that it takes a lot of precision and concentration.
Summer is coming soon, my little heart. We need to get to work on our summer activity list, because you can bet your cardboard hat that we’re going to have fun.