Monday, December 16, 2013

Dear Hudson,

Happy Birthday! You have reached double digits! Ten years ago tonight you were this tiny little bundle, and now I can't hold you on my lap. You are long, big, and strong. Your feet are bigger than mine and your hands are close. Sometimes from behind in a crowd I will look for you and not recognize you because I don't recognize how big you are.

When I think back to you as that little baby there are some things I'm not surprised about.  You slept anywhere, ate a ton, and were not easily upset. You still sleep well, eat a ton, and you are very rarely upset. You were the sweetest, easy-going baby. You are a very sweet, easy going kid. The part that is different is now you are a very big kid, who is very physically active. When you were that tiny little bundle I didn't realize you would be this fast, rough and tumble, tree-climbing, athletic kid. It was hard to imagine that when you were a sleepy little baby. Now just looking at your strong, lean body it isn't surprising that you spend your days in constant motion.
The growing boy, always eating.

You play soccer, basketball, and tennis. You would really like to play football, but we have decided the risks of football just aren't worth it. You settle for touch football at school. While you have asked to play, you don't complain even though you have many friends who play football. That is a great thing about your personality and character. You aren't a whiney kid, and we really appreciate that. You don't get sucked into drama at school, and get along with just about everyone. You have told us that some kids aren't nice, so you don't hang out with them. It doesn't bother you. This makes you very easy to parent.

Fourth grade has been great. You have Miss Krell, and she is pretty much a miracle worker. Knowing that she is strict, I worried that you would have a hard time adjusting to her. But you handle her high expectations very well. We have said in the past that you don't always hear adult voices. They are irrelevant to you. But you hear Miss Krell! You like that she jokes with you and you have talked about school this year more than you ever have before. It is a fun development for us. You are sometimes very quiet, or at least quiet for our family. But especially when we have you alone you are a little chatterbox. It is so fun to hear what you are thinking and excited about.

You still love legos. In fact, I don't know why we have anything else but legos and balls. They are the only thing that kids in our family chose to do. It is fine with us. You build awesome things and have so much fun playing with your friends. If you could have a friend over every day you would. You walk in the door from school each day with two questions, "What can I eat?" and "Can I play with a friend?"A Star Wars model at Lego Land

Watching sports on TV with dad is something you have grown into this year. You want to watch the Ducks or Beavers football, and now the Blazers.  Last week daddy took you to a Blazer game and you loved it. Your birthday cake was the Blazer logo. I made the cake, but daddy did the decorating because he has spent much more time than I have with the blazer logo!
The Blazer game last week

Hopefully no one will use this next part as proof that you committed arson, but you think it is awesome that you have learned how to light a match and make a fire. When we burned our leaves this fall you were on a mission to rake them so there were plenty to put on the fire. Blowing on the extinguished fire to make it come back to life was your favorite thing to do.
Outside with neighborhood friends around "your" fire. 

The best thing this year is that you chose to be baptized. You haven't always embraced getting up in front of people so when we first started talking about being baptized you didn't know if you wanted to do it because you knew people usually give a short testimony first. After carefully considering it you decided to do it. Even though we said you didn't have to talk first, you did. I was so proud of you. Daddy baptized you and Ainsley in the Sandy pool. You invited a couple of friends. It was very special and I've never been so proud of you. I'm so excited to see what God has planned for you.

Tonight we celebrated your birthday and you were so gracious about everything, extremely thankful and polite, and just so grown up. You couldn't have been sweeter. It is such a delight to watch you growing up. Tonight we got a glimpse of what a great man you are going to grown into. I'm noticing how brave you are and what a sense of right and wrong you have. You have a fun little personality and enjoy laughing and being silly. You are fun for us and other people to be around because you are easy and fun to spend time with. You are a great mix of entertaining, laid back, and energetic.

Hudson, daddy and I love you so much. I can't believe how fast you are growing. There is so much coming up for you, and we are going to do our best at guiding you to live a life in which you use all the natural charm, magnetism, and energy God has blessed you with to do the good works He has prepared for you. Hudson we want you to chose to do the right and kind things all the time. We are so proud of you and are so happy for each minute we get to spend with you.Celebrating your birthday and Camden's birthday at Great Wolf Lodge last weekend.

There are so many verses in Proverbs that I want to share with you as you are growing. A few of my favorites that if I could I would have on a repeating track in your head are:

Proverbs 4:18
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 4:23
Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life.

We love you so much Hudson. You are a joy and a delight. It has been a great ten years. I'm so excited for the next decade with you.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Camden's Birthday Letter

Dear Camden,

Today you turned 7. You, my not-so-little-anymore boy, are an exceptional child. Each day of the last year, and of your whole life actually, has been exciting. It dawned on me a few weeks ago that the best way to describe life with you is that it is one cliff hanger to another. You never really know what is coming next, but we know it is going to be something big.

I'm sure every birthday letter since the age of 2 has commented about your language ability. This one will be no different. You express your thoughts very well. You still haven't developed much of a filter for your mouth, pretty much anything that goes through your head comes out your mouth as well. It is a bit of a chicken or the egg thing. Is your language ability so good because you talk so much, or do you talk so much because your language is so good? Either way, we love your communication skills.

 You love learning new things. Daddy took you on a date bowling on Sunday and was amazed at all the information about spiders and pilgrims you downloaded to him. Evidently, that is what you have been learning in school, and you absorbed it all. Dad shared more information with you about pilgrims and you were so excited about it that you made him come home and write it down. You wanted to take the paper to give it to Mrs. Terveen so she would give you, "extra credit." I don't think there is much extra credit given in first grade, but you certainly deserve some. Speaking of school, we just had your parent-teacher conference and you are doing great. You have lots of friends in school and work really hard. I am so grateful that you can channel your energy in school and keep it together to have good behavior. You love your classroom "clip chart" and try really hard everyday to make it to "outstanding."

For your birthday you asked for a microscope. But you said, "we have had the toy kind, and I don't want another one of those. I want the kind scientists use in laboratories." We managed to find one that we think will work well. It isn't what they are using at the CDC or anything, but I think it is real enough that you (and your siblings) are going to enjoy it.

You wanted a Ducks vs. Beavers cake. So even though the civil war was last week, the drama and excitement of it still lives on in our house.

Cyndi noted something a few months ago after you had been wrestling with John, you treat adults and older kids as your equals. And that is true. You have never met someone that you wouldn't just go up and have a conversation with. We haven't been real successful at teaching you the concept of "stranger danger." We were at a restaurant one night and there was a pretty rough looking guy, complete with a worn leather jacket and a backpack with strange pins all over it. You were fascinated with the guy. He wasn't super friendly, but after you escaped from us and went over to talk to him multiple times you won him over. He answered your questions, and as we were leaving he took one of the pins off his backpack and gave it to you. Your persistence usually pays off. This makes parenting awfully difficult sometimes, but is going to pay huge dividends for you as an adult.

In a few weeks you are going to be in the Christmas program at church. You get to play David. Barry wrote the play so it would start with Abraham and go through Jesus. When I told you how you were going to get to (carefully) swing a slingshot around and "kill" Goliath (played by Nathan Amadio) and then put your foot (again, carefully) on his chest you got really excited. You said, "Sweet! I then get to take his sword and cut off his head!" Points for knowing the story well, but no. We are not acting that part out. Excellent casting on Barry's part. It should be entertaining.

This last year you have grown up so much Camden. You are learning self-control and patience. It is great. You are always going to be fast and busy, but the improved impulse control is awesome. The potential you have for impacting the Kingdom of God is pretty amazing. You are smart, witty, creative, and bold. You are a natural leader and are so much fun. You have taught dad and I so much. I can't wait to see what incredible things you do with your life. It is always a fun ride with you.

You have fascinating and deep questions. You contemplate God and what Jesus means in your life. You asked me the difference between suffering and death. Keep in mind this is when you were six. You are very concerned with people who don't know God yet. You worry about being with people and trying to figure out how to be friends with someone who doesn't know Jesus yet.

My biggest prayer for you is that you will follow God with your whole heart. You need to use the intelligence, wit, creativity and boldness that God has given you to glorify Him. But you also need to be careful about having pride in yourself rather than recognizing that everything you have is from God and for His glory.

A Bible verse from Joshua sums up what I want to say far better than any of my words. Here it is:

Joshua 1: 7-9 "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

With you Camden, it is always going to be exciting. I always love the excitement of a good cliff hanger.

Daddy and I love you so much Camden. Happy 7th birthday.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fabulous Four

Dear Reagan,

Today you turn four. I'm going to try very hard to not focus on every birthday and milestone being a big dramatic, "Oh my, my BABY is ______!" But it is hard to believe that you, the little pink bundle we brought home from the hospital four years ago, is such a big girl.

That little person now goes to preschool, writes R's everywhere, buckles her own seat belt (everyone being able to buckle their own seat belts is a milestone I celebrated maybe even more than the end of diapers!), rides a bike (with training wheels), helps with everything, tries to read books, and generally imitates everything everyone else does.

Today was a huge milestone because when you turn four in our family you are allowed to climb the ladder in the garage and enter our Legoland. You had never seen it up there before and were very excited for your first time. You played up their three times today.  The family got you one of the Lego friend (girl) sets of legos to begin your own part of the city. The little Reagan subdivision.
First time up to the attic!

Swimming is still one of your favorite things to do in the whole world. So it was an easy to pick swimming as what we would do today to celebrate your birthday. Today was a Saturday so the whole family went to the East Portland Aquatic Center and swam. You had so much fun swimming everywhere and going down the slides.

We love everything about you Reagan. But your voice is a mix of sunshine, sprinkles, and everything pink and purple. Listening to you talk is precious. You say absolutely adorable things, in the sweetest little girl voice. It makes daddy and my heart melt. Today we went out for donuts for breakfast for your birthday and you were so excited about having a "humongo" doughnut. I also love that you call my hair "waggely" and shredded cheese is "sprinkle" cheese.  There are multiple times each week when I wish I could have a recorder going all the time to record the cute things you say.
 Eating the "humongo" doughnut  this morning.

This year you have developed a very strong little personality. You know what you want and intend to get your way. In fact, one thing you wanted for your birthday was a ladder. Why would a new four year old need a ladder? To get the stuff that we put up high so you can't get to it, of course.

As has been true since the day you were born, your siblings still adore you. But now you and Camden will occasionally have a disagreement. But for the most part in their three little sets of eyes, you walk on water. They all love to play with you and take care of you.

You have begun to really like watching older girls, 4 and 5-year-olds, and you want to be like them. Having friends is important to you, and so going to school has been great. Being in Mrs. DuPuis' class has been so much fun for you. Daddy can come and visit you, and the high school kids always come and tell him how much they love you. Your favorite thing to do is the hot tray, a place where you melt old crayons and then wipe them on paper.

For Halloween this year you decided you wanted to be a gum ball machine. It was a tricky costume to come up with, I had to develop some engineering skills. You made the decision over a month before and never wavered despite my trying to tempt you with pretty (and easier) princess dresses. Next year should be interesting also, because of your older brother's influence you say your going to be Iron Man. Funny girl.
Trick-or-treating in your gumball machine costume in daddy's classroom. Your preschool goes to some of the classes, and of course daddy's is one of them.

We have been struggling with sleeping for quite some time. You don't need a nap, but sometimes take one. If you do, then going to bed at night doesn't happen until much later than your siblings. Today, in fact, you fell asleep in the car on the way home from swimming. And so now, at 8:32 pm, the boys are both in bed, but as I type this I hear you in the other room singing away as you are playing. Not tired at all. But if you don't nap you actually are asking us to put you to bed before 7:00. One time you said, "Mom! Look at my eyes! They are so tired. Put me to bed!" I don't mind the fluctuating bed time nearly as much as I mind that you wake me up many times each week in the middle of the night. Usually I can just put you back to bed and you go right to sleep. But there are other nights we are up for a few hours hanging out. I try to just enjoy the snuggles and remember that there will be a day I will miss middle-of-the night cuddles with you.

You still have a blankie. It is hard to imagine how you will ever get rid of it. The main point of the blanket is to smell it. The little fringe on the end go under your nose. It is adorable. And a little strange! We think you have an amazing sense of smell. You comment on smells all the time, and seek out things to smell. It is very funny.

I don't know how many hours you would be willing to sit and listen to books. Stories about animals are usually your favorite. You are developing a funny little sense of humor, and you enjoy things that make you laugh. You try and copy the jokes the boys try and tell.

Reagan, my heart almost hurts I love you so much. It is overwhelming how blessed all of us our to have you in our lives. Your sweet little smile, daring voice, and happy eyes bring so much joy to each day. There is a clip of a video I have on my phone from when we were in San Diego last month of you happily running on the beach, blond little pony tails bouncing behind you with a sweet little smile on your face that I feel just sums up who you are.

It takes you quite some time to warm up to adults. However, this last year you have been going to Tater Tots, the 3-6 year old class at church and you almost instantly took to teacher Ginny. You love her and love your class. Teacher Ginny is such a faithful, Godly woman and I think you bonded with her so quickly because of how she is sharing Jesus with you. She has been a blessing in each of the Pate kid's lives, and she especially is in yours.

That brings me to what my prayer is for you tonight, and for your life. Reagan I'm going to pray over you Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

We all love you so much Reagan. Happy Birthday.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

San Diego

I'm dusting off the blog for something other than a birthday letter. A family trip. I'm going to go with journal style. Here goes: (Lots of writing at first, you can skip down to the pictures)

February: I decide that it would be fun to go somewhere for my 40th birthday. We think San Diego would be fun because the boys would love to go to Legoland, but it is almost too young for them. So we need to go now. We look into going for my birthday, but Ainsley has a Battle of the Books competition and and she doesn't want to miss it (I KNOW!) so we bag it for now.

June: We still want to go to San Diego, so we make plans to go on the long weekend with the teacher inservice in October.

September: Plans all done and set. Turns out there is a test date for Andrew's tennis certification at a club in San Diego on Monday so we extend our trip one day. We will be gone Friday October 11th through Monday the 14th. Quick, fun trip.

Later September: I go to the airport to buy our tickets- we are flying on Spirit Air, cheep and the only direct flight from PDX and it is less expensive to buy the tickets there at the airport. Agent helps me, and we buy the tickets. (does this raise a red flag? If so, that is called foreshadowing)

October 9th, 7:30 pm: I go online to purchase the checked bag ticket (another Spirit Air quirk) and strangely it lets me print the boarding passes. This surprises me because you aren't supposed to be able to check-in and print boarding passes until 24 hours or less from your flight. (more foreshadowing here)

October 9th, 7:40pm: Staring at the boarding passes, I slowly realize that the date of our departure is October 10th- the next morning. One day early. I continue to look and begin to panic.

October 9th, 8:00pm: After frantic calls to the customer service number we find that our best option is to show up to the airport the next morning, ready to fly. But trying to change the tickets there. Andrew can't go because he has to work. Begin frantic packing.

October 10th, 3:30am: Andrew drives kids and I to airport. We find out there that Fridays have been booked for a long time, so what happened was the computer automatically bumps to the day before. The agent SHOULD have noticed that and told me and we could have dealt with it. Instead, she didn't notice and just booked the tickets. Friday was oversold. My choice was take the kids alone on Thursday and Andrew could fly standby on Friday or we could wait and all go on Saturday. I sucked it up and said we would go. So off the kids and I went.

6:15am: Our plane takes off. While in the airport I have been able to book a rental car for the day. I still don't have a hotel though. I'm a nervous wreck, but the kids are excited.

8:15am: Arrive in San Diego. Alone with 4 kids. In a city I don't know. More nerves. We make our way to the shuttle to get the rental car. Off we go. We head to Balboa Park. I knew it was close to the airport and thought that it would be easiest to spend the day there and go to museums. We start off by finding a play ground so the kids can play for a little bit while I get my wits about me. We then follow the signs to the heart of the park, which is amazing. We park and hike around, through a palm forest and through the beautiful streets and gardens there.

 We then go to the Natural History museum. We have lunch there and the kids have a great time.

 Andrew was able to extend our hotel stay so we had a hotel room at the same place we were booked for the rest of the time. We could check in at 2:00, and the kids wanted to swim so at about 2 we left the museum and went to the hotel. Thanks to my phone and Ainsley trying to help me navigate, we made our way to the hotel.  Andrew was running meetings at school all day, but my parents and sister offered helpful and encouraging texts and phone calls during the day to help me along. It really went very smoothly, the kids had a great time. But I spent the day pretty worried about how to do it and manage everyone alone, and most of all worrying about if Andrew would make the flight in the morning. I didn't want to do Legoland alone the next day.

We went to the hotel and swam, then went to dinner then down to the park by the hotel that was on Mission Bay. It was beautiful.
Despite having been up at 3:30, Reagan and Camden didn't fall asleep well and that was an adventure. I didn't sleep well and was up at 3:30 am texting Andrew to find out about the flight. It turns out it was oversold by 4- so if 5 people didn't show he would get a seat. Not great odds I didn't think. I spent the next hour plus texting with him and praying. The plane was supposed to leave at 6:15. At 6:03 they told him he could have the last seat that they had been holding for someone who was check in but hadn't shown up yet. At 6:06 he texted me he was on the plane. I was SO HAPPY!

So now onto the scheduled trip! 

I took the kids and we headed to the airport at about 7:15. We returned the car we had, walked down two blocks to pick up the van we had reserved, and at 8:15 Andrew landed and got on the shuttle and met us at the car rental place. It was great. We then took off to Legoland. 

At the legoland village- we took our picture in front of the square in San Francisco where we got engaged. 

Kids in front of the lego Capital building

We loved Legoland. We knew it was going to be a bit young for our kids, but Ainsley and Hudson were prepared for that and had a great time. It was fun because Reagan could do everything, including the big roller coaster which she loved and did over and over. 

On Saturday we headed to the beach. It was wonderful. 

We went to Mission Beach, which is a busy fun beach. It has a board walk and an amusement park. It was a fun, traditional California beach experience. We had so much fun. 

After the beach we went to In and Out Burger for dinner. Then we went back to Mission Bay to watch the sunset. It was beautiful. 

 We went back to the hotel and went in the hot tub. The crazy kids would jump back and forth between the pool and hot tub. It was fun.

Sunday morning it was off to Sea World!

 We had a great day. By the end we were exhausted. Dragging everyone except Camden who as we were leaving was still dancing down the street and jumping off anything he could climb on. That kid has non-stop energy.

On the advice of Andrew's friend Glen from college we went to Roberto's Tacos for dinner and even picky Ainsley said, "I didn't know Mexican food could taste this good!"

The next day was our last. Andrew had his test in the morning. The kids and I drove him to the club, which was in Balboa Park. The first thing he noticed is they had tons of courts, and they were all outside. He had to do a private lesson for a group of people he had never met. It was a great ice breaker to talk to them about how surprised he was that they only had outdoor courts. But with only 6 inches of rain a year, what we can get in a bad weekend, it isn't surprising. While he did the test the kids and I went back to the pool to swim. We were happy to come get him and hear that he had done great. He passed and certified up to the highest level of being a USPTA Pro. An Elite P-1.

The club was in Balboa Park. So we headed over to spend an hour at the Fleet Science Center. Since the kids were missing school this day we thought it was a good idea. It was a great museum.

After that we headed to the beach to spend our last day soaking up the sun. For a different beach experience we headed over the Coronado bridge and went to the Coronado Island. It was quieter than Mission beach. The sand sparkles with gold flecks that totally enchanted the kids. It was so fun.

It was amazing how small the ocean waves were on this beach. It is hard to believe this is the same Pacific ocean that we normally go to. The sand is so different. Softer and so much more pleasant. Not to mention so much warmer! 
On the way back from the beach to the airport we stopped by the shipyards and got out to look at the aircraft carrier the USS Midway. Evidently it has a great museum on board, but we decided our two youngest wouldn't be much fun on that excursion. So another time. The kids loved seeing how big it was. 

 Our plane was already a late flight, then it was delayed another 45 minutes. The kids slept the whole way home. We got home and got them in bed at around 1:30 am. It was a little rough to get up for school the next morning, but everyone made it.

We had a fabulous trip. God helped me through the first day and blessed us with a great family time! We all want to go back soon!