My dear Tobin,
I’m writing this late, on Christmas day, because we’ve been so busy getting prepared for the holidays (and being sick) that I hadn’t gotten your letter written till now. We began our family celebration on the morning of the 23rd. We organized it with Santa to come to our house early, since we’d be traveling on the traditional days. You orchestrated a very nice letter to him, and together we made Lemonasaurus Rex cookies to set out. We figured Santa might get a little tired of the expected chocolate chip and gingerbread. As we made the cookies, you suggested a secret ingredient. You always love to add secret ingredients when we cook, and it’s usually just a little extra vanilla or almond extract. This time you suggested a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice. You had picked out a Meyer lemon at the grocery store recently, and we still had half of one left after juicing part of it for a round of cocktails. The juice added the perfect delicate, floral touch to the cookies.
These days have been busy and tiring but also lots of fun. We’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies, including your new favorite, Home Alone. I knew you’d love that one, especially the parts where Kevin plays all kinds of violent tricks on the burglars. You can be surprisingly tender sometimes, though, and you had to run and hide on the stairs a couple of times.
You got a ukulele for Christmas, which was your top wishlist item (actually tied for first place with one of those paddles with a ball attached). You’ve been strumming it around the house, and it we brought it with us to Ames. Aunt Suzy taught you the G and G7 chords, and you have been serenading us with great enthusiasm. We had a fun time with Nana and Papa and the rest of the Beary gang last night, and you got to spend some time with the cousins on that side of the family. Of course you got presents there too, and most excitingly, you won prizes in bingo and a raffle. You’re having fun with a jump rope, some cool Pokémon-themed cards and toys, and some science toys. You also got a hand-held math game, and you’ve been ripping through the addition and subtraction.
What you want more than anything is to go to kindergarten, and you were pretty bummed when I had to tell you that you were incorrect in your assumption that a new calendar year meant it was time to go to kindergarten. I know you’re ready in a lot of ways, and you’re going to love being a kindergartner once fall comes, but I’m still glad to have you around in the afternoons for now.
We had a fun trip to West High to watch their production of The Wizard of Oz. You really enjoyed it, and not just the treats at intermission. You liked how the dog was named Toto (Callum’s name for you), and how they had a real dog to play him. You liked the music and the dancing and the special effects. We’re going to have to go to more high school productions, because they really did a good job, and it was a fun way to spend the afternoon with you and Miles. We have a bigger-deal theatrical date coming up in March, a trip to the newly reopened Hancher to see Circus Oz. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I think it’s a Cirque de Soleil-style acrobatics-centric circus. You’re having a hard time understanding that Oz in this case refers to Australia, not The Wizard of Oz, but we have a few more months to help you sort that out.
Photo by Denny
You are still an active and outdoorsy kid. Your dad signed you up for a basketball team, and that’s going to start in a couple of weeks. Until then, you get your wiggles out by doing chores at Kinderfarm and playing outside whenever we let you. We’ve had great fluctuations in weather over the last month, from a day when it hit -11F to today, with a projected high of 53F. You’re always grumpy when you have to stay in to play at school. You and Miles made a cool snowman on a recent snowy Saturday, of course followed by hot chocolate. Lately you’ve even been drinking the hot chocolate, not just slurping up the whipped cream and telling me you’re done.
Photo by Gary Clarke
Even though brothers can be frustrating, you frequently impress me with how kind and generous you are to Callum. You always want to go in to play with him as soon as he wakes up from his nap, and he can always count on you to share a treat you’re eating. We were at Dairy Queen the other day after Miles’s piano lesson, and Callum finished his vanilla cone and still wanted more. You offered him some of your cookie dough Blizzard, which he had never tried before. He got a big spoonful, expecting plain vanilla ice cream like he always gets. He chomped down on a bite of cookie dough, pointed at his mouth in shock and delight, and said, “Treat!” You cracked up and were so proud of yourself for helping Callum have such a fun surprise.
You were also very proud when Miles opened and loved the Christmas present you picked out for him: some kind of superhero robot toy with a spinning hand. You guys play a tournament game where toys battle each other, and it was the perfect addition to that. He got you some pretty cool Pokémon cards. It was really fun watching you two be excited to gift gifts to the other.
Your current favorites: pepperoni pizza (still; this has the makings of a lifelong favorite), Jake and the Neverland Pirates, glasses of milk, playing outside, Pokémon, and anything physical and active. You’re your dad’s little sports buddy, and you guys have a lot of fun watching Hawkeye basketball together, playing catch, and being on teams. Signs are pointing to your dad being your basketball coach. So it goes.
Photo by Denny
I love you so much, my spritely little guy. Thank you for all the laughs