When you wake up today, you’ll be officially four years old. :) Over the next few days, we’ll be practicing your new answer to the perennial how-old-are-you question. I can already picture you goofing around, laughing, and saying different numbers because you’re playful like that. :) Just this week you jokingly said you’re turning five when we keep telling you you’re turning four! Haha!
Oh, Timmy, your journey to being four has been such a wild ride. :) How about we talk about some of your milestones? Did you know that as soon as you hit three years old you started reading? Yes, you did, sweetheart! You mastered your phonics at two then by January of 2014 we’re officially reading together! :) It was one of the most exciting moments of my parenting life—watching you read and progress from one-syllable to two-syllable words and so on. I can only attribute that milestone to God’s grace. :) You may not yet fully understand what God’s grace is and I’m sure you’ll encounter that phrase A LOT in my letters; but I want to explain it to you, nonetheless.
God’s grace is something you don’t deserve but He gives it to you anyway. It’s receiving more than what you ask for. So when I say that your reading accomplishment is because of God’s grace, it means that as a parent I only asked for a child who will one day learn how to read and love books (pretty much like your folks) but God gave me MORE. He built in you the natural inclination and interest in letters and words. As a result, He made it easy for you to read. I only fueled that interest by giving you the materials and resources to further increase your love for reading. Your dad and I couldn’t be happier that we have an early reader in the family! :) As of this writing, I think you can read roughly 70% of this letter but understand 30% of it. So yeah, we still need to work on the comprehension. :)
You know what? Right now, you’re COMPETING with me during story time. Uh huh. You’re hogging mommy’s spotlight and I love it. :) Usually, I would say “It’s story time! Everybody get ready to listen to mommy!” Before, you would cuddle close along with your stuffed toys. Now, you would say, “Timmy will read!” then get the book from me and say, “Everybody listen to Timmy!” Haha! I mean you go on reading five to six books at a time. I sometimes feel bad stopping you but if I don’t you’ll end up sleeping late or missing your nap. Anyway, I always promise that we’ll read more when you wake up and that’s exactly what we do as soon as you’re up. Your favorite authors so far are Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss, and Sandra Boynton. :) You’re also obsessed with your Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom books!
This year, we moved from the playroom to actual Sunday School. :) You were so thrilled to get your first star stamp! After a couple of weeks of staying with you, I left you with your classmates when you said you’d be okay. Ten minutes later, I was called back because they said you were crying and looking for me. It’s okay, sweetheart. I’m sure you tried your best and meant what you said that you’d be fine but I guess you got overwhelmed. :) By the way, we’re back to attending Sunday School together. :)
It was also your first time to join the annual Vacation Bible School held by our church. :) I think you’re one of the youngest kids in the toddler class. I accompanied you the entire week and we had a blast! Sure there were times when you were scared but that’s fine. I know you’re shy and over the years I’ve learned how to manage that shyness. :) I get tips from your dad because he would share to me the things that terrified him when he was a child in terms of socialization. I’ve learned to give you enough time to warm up, to never leave your side until you’re ready to play on your own, and to give you the space you need when you’ve already gotten your groove. :)
You got three awards during the culmination day! You bagged Best in Memory Verse, Best in Crafts, and Highest VBS points in Nursery! Yay! :) During that week, I noticed how quick you are in memorizing things. I mean I already know that you have a pretty good memory but the speed and retention was something I witnessed in full action during VBS and throughout the entire year (more on that later)! God knew I needed someone who will remind things to me and complement by forgetfulness. :) You did some awesome crafts and learned lots of good stuff about God and the Bible! You also had a terrible fall on the last day of the VBS. It was more traumatic for me than it was for you. :( I had sleepless nights after, blaming myself because you fell under my watch. I’ll take this time to say sorry for not being fast enough to grab you when you took a step back. :( I’m so grateful that God protected you from further harm. I’m glad that it’s over and you’re all well. :)
I mentioned something about memory earlier. Well, this year you memorized our National Anthem, Bahay Kubo, Leron Leron Sinta, and other Filipino songs (aside from the English nursery rhymes)! A few weeks ago, your dad taught you Buchikik and you loved it! Haha! I also tried giving you long memory verses and you remembered them easily. :) We breezed through months of the year and days of the week both in English and Filipino. I don’t know if God wants you to be a lawyer someday but whatever the reason is for having that very sharp memory, I pray that you’ll use it to honor and glorify God. :)
We also joined a group of homeschoolers for their music, arts, and P.E. classes! Our group is now known as Team L4 (Lifelong Learners Who Love the Lord). We’re composed of 9 families with roughly 10 kids in attendance. :) You’re the youngest in the group and one of the three kids who are not yet enrolled in any homeschool provider. We meet every Tuesday and the moms take turns in teaching. I usually teach art and you’re very active when I’m the one teaching (i.e. you go in front, read my powerpoint/visuals, etc). Haha! When it’s not me, you’re back to being quiet. Perhaps it’s the level of familiarity you have with me that makes you come out of your shell. :) Oh, by the way, I use the hashtag #tuesdayswithtimmy for all the homeschool activities you did with Team L4. :) You know, I’m not even sure if you’ll be still using hashtags by the time you read this. Technology is moving so fast that sometimes keeping up is such a chore. :) Anyway, if you want to look back at those photos just search for that hashtag. ;)
For the most part of the year, we stayed with your Lolo Hector and Lola Tess. :) You truly filled their house with laughter. Same goes with Wowo Dante and Wowa Tina whenever you visited them. :) Last October, we moved to a new apartment and you’ve been calling our place “our new home” for almost 3 months now. :) Haha! We’re not yet done fixing your homeschool room but I promise we’ll get it ready soon. In the meantime, you’re using almost every part of our house to play and learn—and that’s TOTALLY FINE. :) That’s one of the best things about homeschooling! You literally learn everywhere. May it be the dining area or bedroom, grocery or parking lot, parties or outdoor activities—learning never stops for you. :)
We had some discipline issues along the way and there were times when we had to be more quick and determined to discipline you. It was so hard and painful for me to watch you cry but when we see you change, become more obedient and respectful, and get rid of certain bad behaviors—we know that it’s worth it. For the record, you can go for months without spanking. However, certain misbehaviors come back and we need to address it right away. Now, you’re in the stage when you clearly remember which actions are good and bad. You consciously avoid them now and we’re so proud of you, Timmy. :) God also disciplines mommy and daddy when we don’t follow Him and it’s pretty embarrassing to think we’re adults already. But we need those moments, too, to keep us in the right direction. :)
I couldn’t be any prouder of the toddler you’ve become. :) You’re my little helper at home, doing chores those little hands can do like cleaning up one batch of toys before using a new batch and throwing things in the trash can. :) You don’t throw tantrums in the mall or point to stuff and demand that we take them home. You’re content playing with them then leaving them. :) There was just one time when you really loved this wooden numbers toy that you didn’t want to change your diaper (with poop!) because you really couldn’t leave it. Up to now, your favorite items are letters and numbers. It was the first and only time that we saw you get so fixated with an item. That’s one out of the hundreds of times we’re at the mall that’s why I distinctly remembered it. :) You kept saying, “We need to pay for it.” Haha! We ended up getting the numbers set for you and when you got it you kept asking that we go home right away because you know that we only open newly-bought toys at home. :)
We did a lot of fine motor skill activities to get you ready for writing. :) I’m learning a lot from mommy bloggers and getting ideas from them! You’re not really the writing kind of guy, you’re more of the painting type. You love designing and doodling. :) You don’t like pencils but you love colored pens and paint. Some kids write at the age of 3, especially girls. One thing I’ve learned is that kids learn at different paces. I know you’ll write when you’re ready. Guess what? Last week, just before your birthday, you wrote your name for the first time! YAY! :) You’re not the tracing type, you’re the show-me-i-will-copy type. You would watch me write and imitate my strokes. :) I’m sure you’ll get there, Timmy. We’ll not rush into it because I wouldn’t want you to associate writing with getting frustrated. :)
We’ve also been doing the letter of the week activities and it’s been so much fun! We kicked it off with an alphabet week and then spelled your name each week (T-I-M). Just like that, a month went by. Four weeks of learning through play! We’ll be doing O this week. :) I’m not even sure how I’ll do that because I’ll be preparing for your post-birthday celebration! By the way, you spent your 4th birthday (December 7) at Ninang Cathy and Tito Jonathan’s wedding! :) So yeah, this will be a busy week and I’m not yet sure how I’ll go about your O activities. Maybe we can incorporate that in your birthday preps. :)
You’re such a funny kid, Timmy. :) You have a knack for changing up lyrics and rebuking your dad innocently by saying “wrong way, wrong way again.” Haha! You negotiate so well and your “how about” statements are usually the very things we want you to do but you want to do it at the wrong time. For example, “How about we read the Bible?” when it’s time for bed and we’re already done reading it earlier. Truth is, you don’t want to sleep. “How about I use my Bible App for Kids?” You say that statement to get some extra gadget time when you’ve already consumed your 1 hour for the day. Oh, the excuses you make, Timmy!
Happy birthday, my little trooper! I call you that because there are days when you are in perpetual motion. You run around, jump on the bed, play basketball—any and every possible way you can expend your energy. :) I love it! I guess that’s what little boys are made of. :) I pray that you’ll continue to know God and love Him more. May you enjoy every stage of being a child because it only comes once in your life and for a very short period of time, too. You’ll spend more time being an adult and I don’t mean to burst your bubble. Haha! Thank you so much being who you are. :) You truly inspire us to be better parents.
It’s amazing what a year makes! I read my previous letter to you and saw how far you’ve come! I mean we’re having real conversations now, Timmy! :) Full sentences about what happened about your day, stories you invent off the bat, jokes you crack intentionally and unintentionally, clear distinctions of the things you like or don’t like, actually reading books on your own and not memorizing what you hear from me—everything is at a whole new level now. It’s like seeing a growth spurt in your development! :)
I won’t ask you to slow down this year, Timmy. I’ll ask you to embrace growing up because I enjoy growing up with you. :) I’m sure you’ll show a different level of cuteness and you’ll amaze us with more milestones. :) Remember that I’ll always be the voice to your dinosaurs, robots, animal friends, and every character in your book. :) I’m also the voice that prays for you all the days of your life. :) WE LOVE YOU, sweetheart! Have a blast being four!!! :)