Kevin is 4 years old

You didn’t know it, but you turned 4 years old today in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sorry we tricked you a bit, and made you believe you birthday is a few days later. We just didn’t think we could do your birthday justice while on a trip to a foreign country.

The last year has been one of growth (physically, of course, but mentally too) and change. You’ve taken everything in stride with that same even keel quality of your Daddy. Our dear friend Miss Julie says, “That kid is unflappable!” She describes you perfectly.

You started the school year returning to the JCC in the 3 year old class with Teachers Hadassah and Joan. They fell in love with you quickly and had a different story every day to tell about something creative you did while in school. You missed Ben and Reiley at the beginning, but quickly made new friends in the class. Ryan joined you every day at drop-off and pick-up; sometimes we think he wanted to be in the class just as much as you did!

Life changed in a big way in November 2011 through January 2011. Mommy took a full time job at Skype, Daddy was working full time at Juniper, so you spent a fair amount of time with Dena and Grandma and Grandpa. Mommy’s job included a unique opportunity to move to London, England – a city 1/3 the way around the world. Home life was a bit stressful as packed up our house, interviewed dozens of renters, and talked about “the big move.” You took it mostly in stride, but you knew something was up. You had a hard few weeks at school – getting upset or angry – but that phase passed, as they always do.

In January 2011, the four LeRoys got on a plane and moved to London. We stopped halfway there and spent 4 days with Nanny and Papa, Uncle Jim, and Aunt Elma Jean in Pennsylvania. You played in the snow, ate plenty of Hershey chocolate, and road a horse. Nanny and Papa were sad to see you go – you brought so much joy to those days.

We arrived in London on January 15. Mommy picked out a 1-story flat in Chesterford Gardens. You and your brother ran around exploring the nooks and crannies of the house for the first week – crazy with excitement. It was cold and rainy, but you didn’t seem to notice. You’d just put on your jacket, hat, mittens, and boots and play outside till your nose froze.

In February, you started at a new school, Heathside Prep. Your teachers, Polly and Barb, bent the rules for you to join 3 afternoons per week. It was great to for you to meet some kids, head to the Heath to play outside, and get out of the house. You showed your confidence every day – being dropped off, chin held high, and just diving right into the afternoon program. You were part of the school musical, “Billy no Buzz” about dragonflies. You missed all but 2 practices since you didn’t attend school in the mornings. But we sang the songs at home now and again. On performance day, Daddy and Mommy showed up with all the other anxious and frazzled parents with cameras and video recorders. You sat with your class, wings attached and sparkling hat on as quiet as could be. Some would have thought you looked scared, but you weren’t. You were just waiting for your moment to shine. When it was your class’ turn to stand, you took your spot, and started belting out the words. You were off key, off the beat, and really really loud. Even if you were late with your timing, you’d sing through the end of the sentence because, by golly, you knew the words!

Teacher Polly remarked over and over how verbal you were at the age of 3. She thought you spoke better than more kids 11 months older than you in the same class. She recommended you move to Reception right after you turn 4 (which is what you’ll start in September this year). [Reception is the equivalent of kindergarten.]

Mommy’s days at work start late and end late, so Daddy does all the cooking and cleaning up for dinner. You know how to make yourself quite helpful (you put the clean silverware away every day; you peel the courgettes, etc.). Sometimes, you make Daddy crazy – asking a million questions or needing help every other minute while he’s trying to get something done. That’s typical 3-year old stuff [email protected]

Last year, we wrote about your lawnmower obsession morphing into motorcycles. Now, you’ve moved on again; this time, to astronauts and space. We checked out a few books on space from the library and you memorized those. Everywhere we went, you’d spout off some fact about astronauts to a perfect stranger: “Did you know there is no oxygen in space and astronauts have to carry their own?” “The Saturn V rocket has 5 parts and fuel tanks drop off after takeoff.” “Did you know Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong were the first 3 men on the moon?” (Technically, Michael Collins didn’t stand on the moon – he drove the command module around while Buzz and Neil went down to the moon in the lunar lander. Kevin is happy to clarify this with you.) Your obsession with space and astronauts has been your longest phase yet. We’ve been to every space/science museum in all of London, Amsterdam, Scotland, and Stockholm. It has been fun to watch the confidence you gain learning so many wonderful new things.

We hired a new nanny, Maria, in April. You were skeptical and a bit cold at first. (We can’t really blame you. We hired a nanny in February and she quit 6 weeks later with no notice.) But, Maria knew exactly how to handle you. She took it slow, didn’t push, and now the two of you are very close. She has taught you all sorts of new things, even how to brush egg on the crust of an apple pie to make it “shine!”

In May, Mommy had to fly to California for work and she took your brother with her. You and Daddy decided to make an adventure of your own. You went to Amsterdam for 3 days. Daddy was very impressed how adult-like you were on such a big trip. You were a trooper (as always), didn’t whine or complain in long lines, and enjoyed the boat ride, the park, and the science museum (to see the astronauts, of course).

London weather, sidewalks, and steep hills (where we live) make for difficult scootering and bicycle riding (which is what you spent most days doing in California). Instead, we enrolled you in a few sessions of swim lessons. At first, your classes required a parent, and while you enjoyed them, you didn’t really do much or get much better. Then you started in a class of 6 with just a teacher. A few of the kids were older and better than you, and wow, that’s all it took. You really took off! You can’t swim on your own yet, but you can push off the wall and make it 10 feet. You love to be pushed underwater so that you can touch the bottom of the pool with your hand. You have a new comfort level which makes us believe you’ll be swimming by yourself by the time you’re 5. The good news is, you love it. You come up choking and coughing and rubbing your eyes, saying, “Let’s do it again!!”

You have an interesting relationship with your brother Ryan. It is likely typical of sibling boys. At times, you give him the best hugs, you help him put blocks together, and laugh yourselves silly (laugh so much you pee your pants). At other times, you poke, prod, and push him, knowing he’ll cry and whine. Thankfully, it is more good than bad. You both love to eat, love to play in the dirt, and love to climb. He follows you around everywhere you go and tries everything you do. You are smart enough to know that when Ryan is present, you have to tone it down so that he doesn’t hurt himself. You have a good awareness of situations like that – way beyond your years.

The LeRoys are a happy family of 4, and you are a central part of that. You bring so much joy to our household. We love you very much.

Mommy & Daddy