2nd Family Birthday

family photo on beach

Dear Tommy,

How has it been 2 years since that day all of our lives changed forever in Seoul? Each day with you is a gift, a blessing, and true delight. You are growing and changing right before our eyes – having a front row seat to your life is the greatest privilege I’ll ever know.

Just last week, you bravely tried something new – a ninja class! – and I was watching from the 2nd floor balcony. You jumped really high off of some piece of equipment and the first thing you did was look up to find me in a sea of other parents while yelling “Mommy! Mommy! Did you see that?” for everyone in the whole gym to hear. You had the biggest grin on your face and it brought tears to my eyes – in that instant, everyone there knew I was your mom. I don’t really have words to describe the feeling – other than pride and heart bursting joy. I want everyone to know I’m your mom because being your mom is what I love most about this little life of ours.

collage of 4 kid images

This year was a big year for our family. Daddy graduated from Kellogg, we said goodbye to our Chicago home, and moved to Nashville. All of this change meant a new home, new school, new routines, new lifestyle, new friends, and pretty much new everything. We have all had to be brave, and you are the bravest of the bunch. We have learned so much from watching you so gracefully navigate this change. You walk into any room (or park or creek or coffee shop) and just make it yours – you’re confident, silly, and a magnet for positive energy. Thanks to you, we have an incredible community of friends in our new town – no matter where we go, everyone wants to meet you and befriend you. Your joy is contagious and our home is always so happy thanks to you.

You are kind, thoughtful, and wildly generous. You love thinking of nice things to do for other people and love to share (99% of the time). You have learned that when we get the adventure backpack out (as you like to call it), it means we will be leaving to go somewhere soon. You used to ask us to pack some extra snacks for any “new friends” we will meet on our adventure, but now you are tall enough to reach the pantry door handle, open the snack drawer, and add plenty (!!) of snacks to the backpack to share. These snacks make you instant friends and we have met some of our favorite people because of you so kindly sharing with others. You are smart – food is almost always the way to someone’s heart 😉

collage of 3 family images

You are a mama’s boy (for now). Anytime you see flowers (let’s be real, they’re often weeds) you pick me a few, ask me to close my eyes and open my hands, and say “I got something for you!” with a huge smile on your face. These will always be my favorite flowers – because they came from you. You and daddy call me the mommy jungle gym, and you guys aren’t wrong. You are constantly finding some way to be attached to me or climbing all over me or sitting in my lap or driving cars on me or holding my hand or sleeping snuggled next to me. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Laying next to you while you sleep is heaven on earth and will always remind me of our first year together.

Cars are still your great love, followed (more closely than I would like) by creatures of any kind. We’re talking bugs, worms, salamanders, tadpoles, frogs, crawfish, and anything you can catch. A few weeks ago you caught an inchworm that you named Buku. We explained that Buku had to stay outside and you immediately burst into tears. You wanted to take care of it – so we created a house for Buku. You thought about what it would like to eat and you added some food, and even a blanket and pillow that you created out of things you found outside. It lived for 6 days in your room and for those 6 days, you took incredible care of this tiny creature. I don’t think it will be long before we get a dog – you love loving on others (and tell us daily how much you miss your “brother named Happa”).

collage of 4 kid and creature images

As for cars, your collection is now at least 500 deep – and you know what kind every. single. one. is. You have memorized the types of the cars and can now spot their matches when we are driving. You’ll see a car “in the wild” and as soon as we get home, you’ll find it’s match in your collection. It’s been special for me to watch you and daddy share this love of cars together. You’ll go to car shows and he has been teaching you a little more about cars – types of cars, their parts, how they work, and patiently answering so many of your questions.

collage of 4 kid and car images

At school, you are genuine and empathetic. Your teachers (both last year and this year) have shared with us that you are the first friend to comfort a sad or hurt classmate, quick to lend a hand or volunteer to help, and are always willing to show someone the ropes. You learn best by watching and then trying it yourself. Your memory is fantastic – I’m truly in awe of what you remember from an auditory and visual perspective. You are most certainly going to keep us on our toes and I am already thinking of ways to keep your mind occupied because I think academically, school will be a breeze for you.

Lately, my favorite thing to do with you is to go to the park together after school. We completely bypass the playground and head straight for the creek. We have it down to a science and know exactly what things we need to pack in the wagon for the very (very) short trek. We might be crazy for filling up an entire wagon with creek stuff but it brings us both so much joy. We could spend hours on the rocks looking for creatures to catch – we’ve caught (and released) over 100 baby salamanders just this spring alone, and you love holding them. You’re so gentle with them and often say that they are tickling your hands. The most perfect description! You’re quick to show other kids your bucket full of the day’s catch and teach them how to catch their own (and what to look for because the creatures really are camouflaged)!

collage of 3 family images

I wrote this in last year’s letter, and it still holds true: You are perfect just the way you are, who you were created and destined to be. I pray you always know how loved, wanted, and chosen you are. That you are a gift to this world just by being you. There’s a line in my favorite children’s book that says “you are a dream the world once dreamt and now you are part of its song.” And isn’t that the truth. 

To know you is to instantly fall fiercely in love with you. Your big, beautiful brown eyes simultaneously dance with a mischievous glint and pure kindness. You are a force to be reckoned with – you continue to change our world and I can’t wait to see where you take this life of yours. Thank you for so graciously opening your heart to us. Your dad and I are infinitely lucky to love you forever.

Love you always, Mom

kid snuggling with car