My Reading Champion

Photobucket

Gabriel accomplished something pretty great today.

And, I could not let the night get by without sharing.

The second week of school, all of the 4th graders were given a challenge.  Their teachers wanted them to each read 40 books, of various genres, by the end of the year.  Books longer than 350 pages would count as 2 books.

We knew that Gabriel could read that many books in the matter of months, so we gave him a different challenge. We told him that we would buy him a Kindle if he finished reading the books by Thanksgiving.  We knew that a Kindle would be something that would be a great reward because it just fit with the challenge – read books and get something that will help you read even more books.

DSC_0002

Yesterday, 3 weeks into the 36 week challenge, Gabriel finished his 40th book.  They were all chapter books around 200 pages each except for the informational and poetry ones, and three of them were over 350 pages.  To say that we are proud of him would be an immense understatement.

Photobucket

The fact that Gabriel never mentioned his Kindle made us even more proud of him.  The thought never occurred to him that, if he finished the challenge before Thanksgiving, he would receive the Kindle sooner, as well.

Sean called him into our room last night to tell him that he needed to bring his backpack because his teacher had emailed an assignment that needed to be completed.  Gabriel looked bewildered, but he did not complain.  He simply brought in his backpack and started looking through it.  The look on his face when he discovered his Kindle was simply priceless.

DSC_0001

As if things could get better than that, his teachers made sure that the entire school recognized Gabriel for his achievement by having it announced during the morning announcements.  I was there substituting, and I almost did a happy dance when I heard my oldest angel being mentioned in the announcements for being the first 4th grader to finish the 40 book challenge.

DSC_0006

I cannot even find the words for how proud we are of our Gabriel.  My heart is full tonight. Very, very full.

Gabriel Thomas: The Oldest Little

Photobucket

Gabriel Thomas  was born on March 4, 2003, at 11:16 am.  He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long.  He changed my world and played an instrumental role in molding me into the person who I am today.

Photobucket

Gabriel means “God is my strength”.  He is our oldest, amazingly awesome boy.  He is smart, funny, compassionate, kind, sweet, and a truly remarkable child.  He loves to read, play soccer, do challenging math problems, play games, build Legos, watch movies, and hang out with his family.

Photobucket

Gabriel is a huge Harry Potter and Star Wars fan, and there are few things that he likes better than staying up late watching movies with us.  When he was really young, as a special treat we would let him stay up after Summer and Ethan went to bed, climb into the middle of the big bed, and watch a movie with us.  I still remember how he would just look back and forth from each of us to the movie and back to us with a huge smile on his face.  He loves being a big brother, but he also cherishes the one-on-one time with us, as well.

Photobucket

Gabriel is an amazing big brother.  At his first birthday, we announced to everyone that Ethan was in my belly by giving Gabriel a t-shirt that said, “I’m the Big Brother!”

Photobucket

When Ethan was born, Gabriel was just 18-months old.  He was still my baby.  When people would tell him that he was a big boy now, the momma bear in me would come out because I knew that he was still a baby, too, just a bigger version.  Luckily, Gabriel accepted Ethan with open arms, literally. He has loved on him, kissed him, and simply adored him since the day he walked into the hospital room to meet him.

Photobucket

They have an unbreakable bond.  It is special, unique, and magical.

Photobucket

When Summer was born, Gabriel wore a t-shirt that said, “I Am The Biggest Brother”.

Photobucket

He was four years old, and he had the whole big brother thing down.  He actually named Summer when she was still in my belly.  He said that her name should be Loey.  We did not know what we were having until she arrived, and we knew that if I delivered a girl, her middle name would be Loey.  Gabriel was the first one to meet her.

Photobucket

He and Sean delivered the news to everyone else. Gabriel and Ethan made a Build-a-Bear puppy for Summer when she was in my belly.  Since we did not know what we were having, we bought two t-shirts – “It’s a Boy” and “It’s a Girl” for the puppy to wear.

Photobucket

When Summer was born, we put the “It’s a Girl” t-shirt on the puppy.  Gabriel carried the little puppy behind his back and showed it to everyone as he said, “It’s a girl!”  Then, Sean announced the name.  When he said that her name was “Summer Loey”, Gabriel look at Sean in pure, innocent, sweet surprise and grinned from ear to ear.

Photobucket

He immediately loved Summer, just the same way he has always loved Ethan. They, too, have a special bond, a unique relationship, and a sweet little friendship, as well. He knows that one of his jobs in this world is to protect Ethan and Summer, and he takes that very seriously. Best. Biggest. Brother. Ever.

Photobucket

While being a big brother is certainly not the only thing that defines Gabriel, it is definitely a huge part of who he is.  He loves Summer and Ethan with all of his sweet, big heart.  As much as I have said that Ethan lights up a room with his smile, Gabriel does the same with his amazing capacity to care about people, to truly see into the depths of their souls.  The best way that I can describe his compassion is this.  Last year his letter to Santa said that he wanted him to take care of all of the homeless people.  This year his letter said that he wanted Ethan to talk.  Amazing.  Simply amazing.

Photobucket

I know that so much of the focus of this blog is about Ethan, his special needs, and his progress.  But, as I have always maintained, all three of my littles are special.  Gabriel is special because he was my first-born.  He taught me how to be a mom.  He welcomed the additions to our family with open arms.  And, when he sees people, he sees their potential, what makes them unique, what makes them special.  He sees what we all should see.  He is my Gabriel, my angel boy, one of my special, perfect gifts from above.

Photobucket