My Reading Champion

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Dear Future Teachers of My Littles,

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I have so many emotions this week, thinking about what lies ahead for us as a family, for me as a mom.  I have been a stay-at-home mom for over 9 years, and now, for the first time, all of my babies will be at school all day.  Yes, I will be substitute teaching, volunteering, and staying busy running a household, but, still, a big part of my life will look so very different.  The one job that I feel I was destined for since birth will look slightly altered now.  As I started thinking about that, I realized that there are so many things that I want the teachers to know about my littles.

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Dear Summer’s Teacher,

Summer is a ray of sunshine.  She is my heart and my soul in so many ways.  She is filled with joy and a zest for life like I have really never witnessed before.  Yes, it is one of the things that might get her in trouble in your classroom, but it is also what makes her who she is. I truly hope that you embrace her and enjoy her as much as we do. Please know that even when she is loud and full of energy on the outside, she is still often a shy, timid little girl on the inside.  She is looking so forward to Kindergarten, but it is important to know that I have been her rock and her safe place for the past 5 1/2 years.  She has not known anything other than the love and security of our home.  She will need to know that she can feel safe and loved in your classroom, too, and I have no doubt at all that it will be so easy for you to give her that love and security each and every day.  She is our Summer Lovin’, our sunshine girl, our baby. And, while I am sad that she will not be by my side every hour of the day, I am so excited for her and for you.  You are embarking on a wonderful adventure together, and I know that she will leave as much of an impression on your life as you will on hers.  

Thank you in advance for teaching her, for loving her, and for enjoying all of the things about her that make her who she is.

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Dear Ethan’s Teacher,

No matter how many years you have been teaching, I can promise you that your life will be touched and changed more this year than any other one because you are blessed with having my Ethan in your class.  I am almost envious of you getting to experience his magic first hand every single day.  But, at the same time, I am so thrilled that he will get to spread his joy and shine his light into your world for 7 hours each day.  It is such a bright, beautiful light, and those who are lucky enough to be touched by his love never, ever forget what it feels like.  Yes, there will be some challenging days when you will wonder what all he is understanding, if you are really getting through to him.  I can almost guarantee you that you are.  While he will not be able to express his thoughts as clearly as the other children in your class, he is a sponge, soaking everything up for the day that he can verbalize it all to us. Ethan is a huge, huge part of me.  He has helped define me as a mom, and I think that he will help define you as a teacher, too.   I often tell him, because I believe it with all my heart and soul, “You are amazing, just the way you are.”  

Thank you for loving my sweet boy.  Thank you for embracing all that makes him who he is. At the end of the year, I have a feeling that you will be thanking me for sharing him with you. Yes, he is truly, truly that special.

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Dear Gabriel’s Teacher,

Gabriel is my sweet, loving, amazingly awesome oldest child.  He has a heart of gold.  I often think that having a special needs little brother has helped create him into who he is.  And, while I do think that is a factor, I also know believe that it is just who he is.  I have had teachers tell me that Gabriel’s giving, sensitive, caring, loving personality makes him truly unique.  An example of it is when he has asked Santa the past two years for thing such as taking care of the homeless people or making it so that Ethan can talk.  He often thinks of others before he thinks of himself, and I am so proud of him for that.  He is so studious, thoughtful, intelligent, and kind.  You will most likely have some conversations with him that will make you believe that he is beyond his years.  I know that we do.  This is going to be an interesting year for Gabriel because he will have two younger siblings at school.  I know him, and his heart and mind will be with them sometimes – wondering how his little sister is adjusting to Kindergarten or hoping that his younger brother is able to communicate enough to make new friends.  Sometimes he just needs to be reassured that everything is good, to just relax and live in the moment.  That is what I want for him in 4th grade.  I so want him to continue to enjoy learning, playing with friends, and just being a little boy who is growing up way too quickly.

Thank you for understanding how special my Gabriel is, for loving him, for teaching him, and for reassuring him that his brother and sister are doing just fine.  I always tell him that he is my future President.  Thank you for seeing that in him, too.  But, most importantly, thank you for showing him that he can be anything that he wants to be.

Sincerely,

One Lucky Momma

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The One That Did NOT Get Away

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We are at my parents’ house having some summer fun.

After swimming, Ethan and Gabriel decided to fish.

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My parents tank is very well stocked, so the boys would literally get a bite within a minute or two of having the fishing rod in the water.

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I took some pictures and then came back to the house for a minute.

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Gabriel came busting through the door saying, “Momma, come quick.  I caught a really big fish.”

I grabbed my camera and took off.  Summer was ahead of me and squealed when she got to my parents.

I had no idea what to expect.  When I saw the fish, I could not help but smile.  Because…Gabriel truly had caught a really big fish.  It was huge.  Apparently, Gabriel could not reel it in by himself, and my mom could not reel it in by herself.  It took my daddy coming to the rescue to get that big fish out of the water.

We had Summer and Gabriel both lay beside it to put the size into perspective.  It was 36 inches long and weighed 18 pounds.

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The really funny thing is that my nieces had affectionately named one of the big fish “Big Mona”, so I immediately texted my sister to let her know that Big Mona had been caught by Gabriel.

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I am not sure if he quit smiling the rest of the day.  He was so proud of his catch.  And, he should have been.  For all of the big fish that get away, his did not.  It was an accomplishment, and we were all proud of him.