Monday, September 26, 2016

A Letter To My Tween Son

When Dylan was born all the experienced mothers told me to enjoy every moment because he was going to grow up so fast. I smiled politely but I simply couldn't understand. His childhood stretched endlessly ahead of us. Time was on our side.

santa hands dylan

But I blinked. I blinked and I suddenly have a son who is almost as tall as me and wearing the same shoe size as I wear. In 14 months he will officially be a teenager. In 4 years he will be able to drive. And in 6 years he will be leaving home. The mere thought of him leaving us brings tears to my eyes. Mamas, time is NOT on your side. Time speeds up the moment you have your baby and there's no going back.

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I'm not going to sugar coat it. The tween years are tough. There are days when I would rather deal with 20 newborns who aren't sleeping through the night than 1 tween with a major attitude. But there are just as many days when my son does something so amazing and mature that it takes my breath away. Too many people only focus on the negative aspects of the tween years. That's why I'm thrilled to partner with Yoplait Go Big to share why having a tween is actually pretty amazing!

A Letter to my Tween Son

Dear Dylan,

You have been in my life for nearly 12 years now. I loved you fiercely from the moment I knew you existed and I couldn't wait to meet the newest love of my life. And you couldn't wait to race out into the world and leave an impact before it was time. You arrived a month early and we immediately knew you were something special.

Those first two years with you were amazing. It was just you and us and we became a family. You taught us how to be parents and we taught you how to be a kind, loving, responsible human being.  Those years with you were simple and so sweet. Motherhood was simply amazing thanks to you.

You were an only child for just 2 short years before we added to our family. You became a big brother not once...not twice...but three times. Each time you transitioned seamlessly and I truly can't think of a better brother for your siblings. You may bicker at times (quite often these days) but your underlying love for them is just as fierce as the love I have for you. That fact is evident every single day.

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You were always an amazingly kind and loving boy. Even as you grew and became "cooler" that side of you never changed. You simply touch the lives of each person you meet and you always treat others with respect. Your kindness and love for your fellow human beings shines brightly. It's always the first thing that every single person who meets you notices.

I was so worried that you would lose that part of you as you moved into the tween years but your love for others never went away. You may worry incessantly about your hair and your clothing style but you never hesitate to give one of your teachers or friends' moms a hug and you always make conversation with everyone you come in contact with.  You treat everyone you meet, even strangers, with a level of kindness and respect that most adults don't even possess.

Over the past few years I've had the privilege of watching you grow from just a brother to a lifelong protector. When your baby brother was born with special needs I worried about how it would impact your life. Instead of having the negative impact I first expected the personal growth was incredible. When I see you with your brother I have absolutely no doubt that you will be best friends for life and that you will be an amazing father one day.


Despite all the great things I have to say about you, life isn't perfect or amazing. It's not supposed to be. You and I butt heads these days. You are very mature which makes it hard for you to accept the fact that I'm still 100% in charge and a lot more knowledgeable than you. You often roll your eyes and become annoyed by the things I tell you to do.

I get it. I really do. I was once in your shoes. The tween years are TOUGH. School is harder, you have more responsibilities, life is busier, the hormones are kicking in, other kids are growing up into not so kind human beings and girls are now on your radar.  Each day you juggle sports, homework, hobbies, music and life in a big family. It really is a lot of responsibility!


 You have a lot on your plate which is why I try so hard to remember what a great kid you are during those moments when the tween attitude takes over. Life can be so overwhelming at times and it's really easy to lose control of your emotions. You really are a wonderful kid and I know that I'm incredibly lucky to have you in my life.


Dylan, you're an amazing human being and I am so proud to be your mother. I have absolutely no doubt that you are going to accomplish great things. Even though I may drive you crazy at times (and vice versa) I just want you to know that I will always love you. I will always be on your side. And I will always be here for you with open arms when you need me. Nothing will ever change that. No matter how big you get you will ALWAYS be my baby boy.


You are growing up way too quickly for my liking and I can't do anything to slow it down. I can't bring back the tiny preterm baby that once fit in the crook of my arm. I can't bring back the cheeky toddler with the adorable grin. I can only embrace the person you are right now and take the advice that was so often given to me: Enjoy every moment. I am honored to spend these moments with you.

Love, Mom

{Excuse me while I wipe the tears out of my eyes before I move on! Where did my baby go?!?}

Now that I have a tween, life is busier AND he's hungrier! He needs an on the go snack that is every bit as big and amazing as he is. Enter Yoplait Go Big



New from Yoplait is this large yogurt pouch that is perfectly sized for a tween or a teen! (Or an adult...just saying.) The design isn't the least bit babyish so they won't mind tossing one into their lunchbox or snacking on one in front of their friends. The Go Big grip-and-rip pouch is easily portable and opens quickly by tearing up and back. Plus it's made with real fruit!

I recently bought two boxes of Go Big in the refrigerated section at our local Giant Eagle store and they were an instant hit with Dylan! He puts one in his lunch box each day and he also enjoys them as a snack on the go. Go Big comes in boxes of 8 pouches in these flavors:
  • Peach Mango/Cherry
  • Strawberry/Mixed Berry

Although the fact that they are made with real fruit is my favorite aspect of Go Big here are a few other reasons why they are perfect for your growing tween:
  • Good source of calcium
  • No artificial colors
  • Gluten Free
  • No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Low Fat
  • Just the right amount of sweetness
Go Big fits in perfectly with Dylan's on the go lifestyle. It's a healthy, filling snack choice that  provides energy for my busy tween and satisfies his growing appetite!

I shared all the reasons why I think my tween is amazing and now it's your turn! Head over to Yoplait Go Big's Facebook page and share why you think your tween (or teen) is amazing.

There's one thing that's certain: I am one lucky mama! 


Thank you to Yoplait Go Big for sponsoring today's post. My tween is now a big fan of #YoplaitGoBig!

Virginia Beach Family Vacation: Day 5 & Day 6

I'm officially over halfway through our Virginia Beach vacation recap! I knew there was no way I would be able to complete it all at once considering I had 1500+ pictures to sort through so I had to break it up into several posts. Next week I'll be wrapping it up!

We returned home from the beach one month ago today. Honestly it feels like ages ago. Life is so hectic right now and every time I sit down to sort through our beach pictures I just long to go back! Life was MUCH more relaxing then!

{DAY 5}

After our usual wake up, go to breakfast, relax in the room for a bit routine, we spent our entire afternoon at the beach!
Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach

Grant, Lexie and Liam eventually headed back to our suite so Liam could take a nap. I had to take a picture of Grant wearing Liam. He doesn't do it often but when he does he always raves about how awesome it is to have his hands free!


Dylan and Lily wanted to stay at the beach longer which was perfectly fine with me! I could easily stay there from sunrise to sunset!

Boogie Boarding

Dylan didn't last nearly as long as Lily and I did. He headed back to the suite and Lily and I stayed until the lifeguard went off duty. I just love those perfectly relaxing afternoons on a nearly empty beach! 


We showered and got dressed then headed out to a new favorite restaurant. (If you're ever in Virginia Beach go to The Raven. You won't be disappointed. The kids loved the fact that they served their meals in frisbees that they got to take home and the food was REALLY good!)


After dinner we strolled the boardwalk and did some souvenir shopping. When we got back to the hotel the kids wanted to go for their usual late night swim in the indoor pool.


Dylan and Lily wanted to go down to the boardwalk after we went swimming but Grant and Lexie wanted to stay in the suite so we split up for a bit.  I took the other three kids to the boardwalk and onto the beach to burn off some energy before bed. 

Virginia Beach Boardwalk

It wasn't very late but the boardwalk and beach were completely empty that evening. The only other people on the boardwalk was a homeless couple who was having a very colorful fight so we hightailed it back to our hotel!  It was time, anyway...everybody was sleepy!


The kids fell asleep quickly and Grant and I sat on the balcony until the sound of the waves practically put us to sleep!

{DAY 6}

Day 6 started out exactly like Day 5! 

Life with 4 kids

I'm not going to lie. By the sixth day we were sick of each other. Getting 4 kids ready for the beach and herded out the door was a difficult task that day! But once we made it down to the beach everybody relaxed and had fun!

Boogie Boarding
Virginia Beach Family Vacation
Virginia Beach

Liam ended up falling asleep on the beach and I was perfectly content to hold him for a while!


I eventually had to put him down so I could help bury the girls in the sand but it was a successful transfer!

Buried in the sand

While we were at the beach that afternoon the lifeguards called everyone out of the water.  Apparently the Virginia Health Department found bacteria in the water and put a ban on swimming. The lifeguards said that was the first time that had happened!

Since nobody could swim everybody started to leave the beach. Grant took Liam, Lexie and Dylan back to the suite but Lily wanted to play in the sand. We literally had the entire beach all to ourselves. It was an amazingly relaxing afternoon!


We were having such a relaxing afternoon but we had to head back to the suite to get ready to meet some family members for dinner. Funny story...Grant's cousin, her husband and their 4 kids live about 10 miles away from us. We had NO idea that we were vacationing at Virginia Beach during the same week until they arrived the day after us. Even funnier was the fact that they were staying just one block away!

Our kids have so much fun together so we made plans to meet at Planet Pizza for dinner.


Liam, of course, enjoyed his huge bowl of salad!


After dinner the kids begged to walk the boardwalk together. The kids loved playing at Grommet Island in the dark!

Grommet Island playground Virginia Beach
Grommet Island

We had quite the large crew but it was such a fun night!  


When we got back to the hotel the kids wanted to swim but the pool was closed due to an incident.  The kids were really bummed but we still ended up having a good night!


The fireworks over the ocean definitely helped cheer everyone up! 

Virginia Beach Fireworks


Stay tuned for our final Virginia Beach Family Vacation recap next Monday!

Let's Be Friends!

Virginia Beach Family Vacation