Robert’s First Tooth

Linda came to stay with us the last weekend in September while Chris and Dan were working a race. Robert had been working on his first loose tooth for several weeks and it was starting to hurt whenever he ate. During breakfast Sunday morning it had started bleeding, so it needed to come out. But I don’t do teeth and Chris was gone! I folded up a paper towel for him and told him to grab hold of his tooth but I couldn’t watch. And I had to cover my ears. I don’t think he even had to pull it; it just popped right out like it wasn’t even attached. Yay!

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He went upstairs to finish getting ready for church as I started cleaning up after breakfast. He came back down a few minutes later and asked where his tooth was. Uh-oh. It dawned on me that it was probably laying on the paper towel that had just been deposited into the mostly full trashcan. Underneath a layer of uneaten oatmeal. What kind of mother am I?!

Turns out I’m the kind of mother that digs through the trash to retrieve her child’s first tooth. Steel cut oatmeal looks a lot like baby teeth. So Linda started smashing a plateful of oatmeal. I was going through yucky trash from the day before and when I was about ready to give up, I spied it stuck in some oatmeal to the side of the trash bag!

So I cleaned it up and got it all ready for the tooth fairy. Robert is the second child, therefore he does not own a tooth fairy pillow. We placed his tiny tooth in a Ziploc bag and put it next to his bed. When I went to wake Robert the next morning, I told him to check and see if the tooth fairy had come. He groggily turned over in bed and told me that he had already checked and she had left $25 for him. Ummm, say what? I asked him if he was sure about that and he said, “Yes. She left 2 tens, 2 twos and a 1.” I told him he must have dreamt it because the tooth fairy doesn’t leave such large sums of money. He was becoming irritated with me so he grabbed his Ziploc to prove it to me.

The poor guy was so confused when he saw 8 measly quarters in his baggy. He was angry and started crying, sure that someone had broken in and stolen his money. There was no convincing him otherwise. He eventually cheered up when I told him that the tooth fairy doesn’t visit ungrateful children. When he finally looked at all his quarters, he was pleasantly surprised to find that they were from all different states. He decided they weren’t so bad after all and excitedly told anyone who would listen about his quarters that came from all over the United States.

First Day of School

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! I’m officially the mother of grade schoolers! I can’t believe this guy is starting kindergarten! He was a little slow moving this morning, but not too bad. He’s been acting a little nervous, but seemed to be a little more comfortable after meeting his teacher last week. I wanted him to wear a little bit nicer shirt for pictures on the first day, but he was set on the chameleon t-shirt that he says is his favorite shirt now. We double knotted his shoes, so hopefully they stay put because shoe-tying 101 has not gone so well.

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And this one, who is going into 4th, has been raring to go for weeks now. She couldn’t wait to see her friends and has been busy making bracelets for all of them. Last week she asked me to make sure she got in bed on time every night so she could practice waking up to her alarm every morning. And then she said, “Maybe I should go to bed an hour early all week.” How, pray tell, did I get so lucky :) She has been an amazing big sister these last few weeks, talking up school like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

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Clara went on her way to her class without much more than a “see ya later”. Her homeroom teacher just had a baby a few weeks ago, so she’s on maternity leave until November. I was a little bummed, especially since her 2nd grade teacher had a baby the year she had her, but I’ve heard that her long term sub is phenomenal. She’s a retired principal with her superintendent certification and she was the sub for this same teacher two years ago when she had her first.

They did first day drop off differently this year and had everyone go to the gym first where the kids lined up with their grade. It was kinda weird and no one knew quite what they were supposed to be doing. Us parents just kind of moved off to the side out of the way. I got to chatting with a new mom and it turned out her son was in Robert’s class. We looked up and all the kinders had started walking out, as well as parents in a mass exodus. Most kids were walking with their parents, but we didn’t see ours, so we assumed they were with a teacher being led to their classroom. We got to the classroom and they weren’t in there. There was a moment of panic as we were in the crowded hallway filled with kids and parents, but then I spotted them together down the hall just kinda wandering around by themselves. Whew! They didn’t seem too bothered, but I felt really bad that I distracted him mom. Ha! I even recruited her to volunteer. Yay!

This is Mrs. W and I hear she is wonderful. She is the most experienced teacher we’ve had to date, so I can’t wait to see how he does in her class. She seems very sweet.

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One of the teachers at school has a son, her only child, in Robert’s class. I invited them over to play yesterday so that the boys would have a familiar face today thinking maybe it would help with drop off. Robert did amazing and went right in, zero hesitation. The other boy……. not so much. Poor guy was not having a good morning. He wouldn’t even look at Robert as he was trying to convince him to come in and play with play doh. He eventually had to be peeled off of his mama. My kids go so easy on me :)

I headed to the library to meet new parents and sell t-shirts and even recruited a few new volunteers. I’m hoping to be a common fixture up there now and am excited to see all the things I’ll be able to help out with. For starters, I’ve volunteered to update the PTA bulletin board each month, so we’ll see how long it takes for me to get behind on that :)

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I just love their school and am so excited to see what this new year has in store for them. I can’t wait to hear about all the fun, the new friends and the new experiences they’ve had today!

Clara’s First Choir Performace

Clara had her choir tour during the school day on Tuesday. To say Clara was excited about her first choir performance would be an understatement. They got to perform at a hospital and two assisted living facilities and then have lunch at Double Dave’s. Dan and Linda went to her first performance at a hospital right by our house. Linda was able to get some great photos and video. I’m glad she did because I was working at Santa’s Workshop at Clara’s school all week and wasn’t able to attend. Santa’s Workshop is a little shop the PTA sets up for the kids to choose Christmas gifts for their family. It was crazy busy! And it doesn’t help that the youngest have no concept of money and cost. They’d come in with $3.00 and want to buy gifts for 10 people. Oy. It definitely stretched my patience.

Anyway, Chris went to her third performance because it was near his work. He said she was so distracted and turned the wrong direction most of the time, playing with her hat, etc. He said it was a little embarrassing how badly she was acting. Ha! Looks like Grandma and Grandpa saw a bit of that show too.

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So I was helping out at Clara’s school all week while Robert was at school. Thursday was Clara’s school’s Christmas program. I was up at the school from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm, leaving only long enough to go get Robert from school. I got Clara when school let out and she was acting a little whiney. Not too bad, just not real happy about me asking her to help out with different things. The event was only a couple of hours away and there was still a lot to do that had to wait until school let out. I had Chris come get the kids when he got off work and he was going to get them dressed and back up to the school for the program at 6:00. He got them at 5:15 and then called 15 minutes later to let me know Clara was running a fever :(

Here Robert was helping out on Thursday. He had pajama day at school and I didn’t bother changing him. We had to move our entire Santa’s Workshop from a classroom and set it up in the cafeteria. Robert got to carry part of a raffle prize.

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So I didn’t get to see her perform with the choir or her grade. And she was supposed to play the triangle with the 3rd grade. They also didn’t get to sit on Santa’s lap, which was going to be the only time this year because I am not standing in line at the mall. They’ll be writing letters instead. The one nice thing was that the president didn’t have to come find someone to give me a break during the two and  a half hour event. Wait, that was good for her, not so much for me :) It’s so sad the lack of volunteers we have. We have to get high schoolers to come help and a credit union sends volunteers for us because we don’t have enough parents willing to help. There were probably a couple of thousand people that came through the doors that night and a total of about 6-7 PTA volunteers. Those same 6-7 people did all the set up, volunteering at the event and clean up. So all that to say, if you have a kid in school and can, volunteer. They need you!

I got Clara in to the clinic first thing Friday. I thought maybe she had an ear infection because she winced in pain a couple of weeks ago when I tried to flush her ears. Well, the wax was too hard and completely covering her eardrum, so she couldn’t tell if there was an infection. Her rapid strep test came back negative but was sent off to the lab, so we were on our way. We got the call last night that the strep test came back positive, so she started on antibiotics last night.

Robert started running a slight fever yesterday and Chris’ throat started hurting last night. They both got worse overnight so both went to the clinic this morning. Both rapid tests came back negative, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be getting antibiotics in two to three days when their results come back positive :( Looks like Robert will be missing his Christmas program and class party this week. Clara should have been able to go back to school tomorrow after 24 hours on the antibiotic, but she’s still running a fever a little over 100, so maybe by Wednesday. I’m just hoping that Chris is on the upswing before I get hit here in a day or two. I’m keeping optimistic :) Hopefully this bug will be well on it’s way out before Christmas.

Thanksgiving at Mother Neff State Park

We had our annual Thanksgiving camping trip at Mother Neff State Park this year. Mother Neff is the oldest state park in Texas. It’s also only a few minutes away from Dan, Linda and now Margaret, so it was a perfect spot for us. Jason and his dad also joined us this year. This was Robert sitting by the campfire on the first night. We got there mid-afternoon on Wednesday and the kids got right down to business making friends with the neighbors and playing until they crashed.

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When we finally got settled into the camper and turned on the heat for the night, Clara decided that teeth brushing by the heater felt pretty nice.

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The next day, we headed into town for a lovely Thanksgiving meal prepared entirely by Linda. Who just got staples in her head four days earlier. And who insisted that we keep to the plan instead of cooking up something or other over the fire. Dan came and got me and Clara a little early so we could help with preparations, but we weren’t much help since Linda had it all under control. We went and picked up Nanny from her apartment and then got back to the house a little before the boys showed up. We chatted and ate and were all quite thankful for all of Linda’s hard work.

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The mornings were in the 30’s, so Zef got a nice warm spot to sit and wait for the sun to warm everything up.

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We hiked one of the trails on Friday. It led to this cave that was used as shelter by the Native Americans. These trails were probably some of my favorite so far. There were plenty of trees and lots of elevation changes and things to go see to make things interesting.

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We kept on the trail and went to the top of the rock tower.

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The hike was a bit much for Max, so Jason and I took turns carrying him most of the way back to the car. He was very appreciative.

After lunch, Dan and Linda came out to the campsite and we had a party for the birthday boys and girl. As I handed JDog a Birthday Boy hat, he tried to turn it away thinking it was just a party hat. I informed him that all the birthday boys and girls had one. He was quite surprised to learn that he was also a guest of honor at the celebration. Hehehe, we got him good. That’s the second surprise party we’ve pulled off for him. The other one was easy though; it was four months early :) The kids both knew and I can’t believe they were able to keep it a secret from him.

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I made a little scavenger hunt for the three of them and JDog got into the spirit and joined in the search for clues.

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Here he is getting stuck on the last clue. Get it. Ha!

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Then we played a little pin the tail on the donkey and opened presents. The kids got gifts from Grandma and Grandpa and JDog got a little something too. You like my centerpiece? The wind picked up so we took care of that with a little duct tape :)

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I brought cupcake mix and had JDog bake them in the dutch oven. I forgot candles though, so they had to blow out pretend candles when we sung “Happy Birthday” to them.

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Saturday was another pretty big day because we took off this mangled, rapidly disintegrating training wheel (and it’s partner).

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And now we have a (mostly) official bike rider. He was doing pretty well out at the campsite, but he won’t ride on our street since it’s slanted. We’re going to have to take him to practice in a parking lot so we can get back to riding with Clara to school. I don’t want him riding to school until he’s comfortable starting and stopping.

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I took the kids on another hike on Saturday, this time to the Wash Pond and then they played on the playground. Chris tripped over Max’s leash the first night and fell hard on his knee, so it was hurting him most of the weekend. The scar where his stitches were broke open and started bleeding :( It’s doing better now thank goodness.

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Chris and JDog got busy with their cornbread war. Chris loves sweet cornbread and likes to combine one box of Jiffy cornbread mix and one box of Jiffy white cake mix. Well, they were out of Jiffy cake mix, so he picked up a regular brand and just eyeballed it when deciding how much to use. Yeah, we basically had corn flavored cake with our dinner :)


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This park had a Junior Ranger program that the kids could participate in. They gave the kids a worksheet with all kinds of questions about the park, the nature within the park and it’s history. We had to go around and read all of the plaques and signs in the park to answer them. She had to sketch an animal, so she drew this caterpillar that Jason’s dad found and then picked up trash to help keep the park clean. As we checked out, we took the paper to park headquarters and they printed out a certificate for her (and Robert since he joined us everywhere but can’t write and really I just lost his paper) and had them raise their right hands and recite a pledge stating they would take care of nature and the park and would encourage their friends and family to do the same. Then they got a little Jr. Ranger pin. It was all very official. And very cute. And I didn’t have my camera on me. I figured they were just going to hand them a pin and say, “Good job.”

We got back home around 3:00 on Sunday. The kids wanted to put up the Christmas tree, so I’m a sucker and set it up and pulled out the boxes of decorations. Camping and Christmas collided in a perfect storm in my house that evening. It’s a week and a half later and I still don’t think the house has completely recovered.

She Can See Clearly Now

Clara failed her vision screening at school last month. In my typical laissez-faire, procrastinating fashion, I didn’t get her into an eye doctor until last week. I figured, “Ehhh, how bad can it be? She’s dealt with it for this long.” Um, yeah, it’s pretty bad. As in astigmatisms in both eyes, 20/50 in her right eye and an astoundingly terrible 20/400 in the other! Mother of the Year right here people. I really do feel terrible that we never noticed. I mean, how could we not notice? I realize her other eye was compensating, but 20/400?!? That’s just crazy!

So after much anticipation this last week, her new glasses finally came in today. Introducing the new and improved Clara!

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More Independence

I’m reading a book right now called Cleaning House. It’s by a mom of five kids who worked for a year to rid her home of the entitlement that had gradually taken hold. Each month she concentrated on a different set of skills she wanted to teach her kids to help them be more independent, giving and self-reliant. These skills included doing their own laundry, planning, shopping and preparing meals for the family, home improvement tasks, planning a party, yard work, service, teamwork, and manners, along with a few other things.

It’s obvious that the oldest child, at 14, was the hardest sell. The younger kids were a lot more eager to learn new things and be given new responsibilities, although not always. The author mentions time and again that the hardest part was stepping back and allowing them opportunities to do new things. I’m so with her there. It’s just so much easier to do it myself than deal with the slow, oftentimes, painful teaching part and then dealing with sub par outcomes. Most times, it doesn’t even cross my mind to let them do something. So, I too need to get better about stepping aside. One thing I do is go grocery shopping by myself after the kids are in bed (like the author). By doing that, I’m saving time and oodles of frustration, but losing valuable teaching moments.

I needed to get a few things at the grocery store on Saturday, so I took Clara with me. I gave her a list of three things, wrote which aisle they were on, and sent her off by herself with a small cart while I waited at the cafe by the entrance. She was so excited. When she gaily skipped right past the first aisle without so much as a second glance, I got nervous. The store was super busy and I pictured strangers looking around for a parent or stopping her trying to figure out why she was alone. (Remember, I worry too much about what other people think?)

So I followed her. She found the aisle for her second item, skipping along on cloud nine all the way down. I saw her find the item, double check her list to make sure it was the right one, then proudly set it in her cart and go for the next one. I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to reach the english muffins that were above the eggs and need to ask someone for help and I wanted to see how she’d handle it. I had pictured her precariously climbing up near the eggs. Nope, she’s tall like her mom and on her tippy toes, she was able to grab them without assistance. At this point I ran back to my post. I probably had security on me by now wondering who the creeper was following the little girl. I was surprised to see that none of the other customers even took a second glance at her. I guess she did look more like a confident 10 year old that knew what she was doing, so that might be why.

She would need to find the baking aisle that she missed the first time around for the brownie mix and I felt pretty sure she’d have a hard time finding the mix amongst all the other boxes of baked goodies. Well, she did it without a problem and came around the corner beaming with her basket full of items. We then did self-checkout so she could scan the items herself. She even pushed the cart out to the car, unloaded the two bags, put the cart in the cart corral and brought the items inside. I think next time I’ll give her cash so she can pay herself too. Just like the kids in the book, when given the opportunity and responsibility, Clara rose to the occasion, taking on even more tasks without being asked.

On the bike riding front, I’ve started allowing her to ride a short distance to school by herself. The first time it was out of necessity because Robert rode his bike and kept stopping and was just generally being disagreeable and she was going to be late. It worked so well and gives her a little more freedom, so we do it every day now. I get her across all of the streets and then she stays on the sidewalk until she gets to her school’s parking lot. That way she avoids being on the street with the school buses pulling away from her school. There is a spot I can sit and watch for her until she crosses into the parking lot. Mainly I’m just concerned about her falling and needing help. Her backpack is pretty heavy with a lunch in it and she’s a little wobbly still on her big bike, so small crashes aren’t that uncommon right now :) Once she’s in the teacher’s parking lot, there’s enough people still getting to school to help her out if she needs it. She locks her bike up herself and takes her bike helmet in to school with her. She’s pretty darn proud of her self. My friend Emily who rides saw her the first day and asked if everything was alright and if she wanted her to take her helmet. Nope, Clara was all too happy to let her know she was doing it all by herself. Emily said she definitely had an air of pride and an extra bounce in her step that day.

Success!

The ice had cleared by the next morning, so we made another attempt. We had a successful hand-off and Robert thoroughly enjoyed himself on his first solo trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. He got to sleep in the new bunkbeds they just got, he went to a bouncy house, and, well, here’s what he did in his own words: “I got to eat two jellos and they were fluffy. And one of them fell on the chair. The orange one. I made valentine’s. I played cowgirls and cowboys. On the way there I actually saw some animals. I went to McDonalds for some lunch. That’s all.” So there you have it. He was a perfect gentleman and went right to sleep each night without a fuss. He loved his one-on-one time with Grandma and Grandpa and wasn’t ready to come home. Didn’t miss us at all :)

We had planned on getting him back on Tuesday, but when Monday morning rolled around and I looked at the weather forecast, we were going to run into the same problem with ice during our planned child exchange time. So we decided they would drive here that afternoon and stay a couple of nights, waiting for the ice to melt before going back home. We just hung out here at the house, only venturing out long enough to have lunch with Clara at school on Tuesday. They left yesterday morning at the same time I headed to the vet with both dogs. But that deserves it’s own post.

Robert’s First Solo Trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s

Or not.

Robert has been looking forward to this day all week. His first weekend with Grandpa and Grandma all to himself. We left this morning to meet Dan and Linda halfway, but about 45 minutes into the trip, we had to turn around because they were getting into icy conditions. They learned that there had been a five car pileup just ahead of them so we decided it was best to try again after it warmed up.

I felt so bad for Robert. He was so disappointed and it was hard to see him so heartbroken. On the drive back, he would get quiet and I would turn around to look at him and the tears would start flowing again. I know dealing with disappointment is something he needs to learn, so this little hiccup is a good (albeit painful) life lesson.

 

Earrings!!

Clara FINALLY got her ears pierced tonight. Oh my goodness, it was like a comedy of errors trying to get a couple of holes in those things! So here’s what happened. I called a piercer a couple of weeks back, he didn’t seem just real keen on piercing minors but said that he would. So on Clara’s birthday, the 8th, I went to take her only to find out they were closed on Sunday. Not to fear though because I called another place that had really good online reviews and talked to the guy there and he seemed really nice and they were open. But wait, he was out of the right size earrings for her ears but had some ordered and they should be in on Saturday. Chris was out of town this weekend and I didn’t want to take Robert with us, so I told Clara we would do them this past Sunday night. We ended up being at Pancakes and Pajamas a little too late and it was a school night so I told her we would go the next night. Monday came around and I went to call them to make sure he would be there and wouldn’t you know it, this shop is closed on Mondays.

Now Clara’s really starting to get disappointed and I didn’t blame her. I asked her if she wanted to go to the other place, but she liked the idea of the man that I said seemed really nice and more willing to pierce kids. So yesterday I called early in the day to make sure he would be there, but nope, it was his day off. He would be there tonight at 5:00. Sweet! So we met Daddy at Smashburger for dinner at 5:30 because Clara’s school was having spirit night there. I had planned on leaving straight from the restaurant and Chris would take Robert home. Of course I forgot her birth certificate at home and would need it at the piercing studio, so we had to swing back by the house before going.

Traffic was pretty bad, so we got there around 7:00 and it turns out the shipment hadn’t come in, so he only had larger guage earrings and said he could call us if they came in in the next couple of days. Clara was just about in tears at this point. He saw how disappointed she was, so he said that I could go to Wal-Mart and buy the earrings and bring them back if I wanted. He said just to make sure and get surgical steel and not stainless. Ok, we decided to give it a shot. Drove all the way to Wal-Mart and they didn’t have surgical, only stainless. I wanted to call him to see if 14k gold or titanium was ok, but I had left my phone in the car. Went back out to the car and asked and he said either would work. Went back inside and of course they are out of all of the ones we would have wanted. I didn’t want to get anything with big ‘ol fake diamonds. Sigh. As we walked out, Clara finally started crying. She’s been anticipating this for soooo long. She’s told her friends at school, “I’m getting my ears pierced today” about five times now and some of them don’t believe her now.

So we went to the other Wal-Mart. We had to wait a while while the employee kind of ran around looking lost trying to help an angry customer, but she had some titanium ones that would work for us. Yay! So she went to check us out and she has been logged out (I’m guessing because she went over in hours), so she had to take us up to the self checkout employee and had us cut in front of everyone so he could check me out. Woohoo, we finally got a break!

So we took them back to Matt and it was 8:05 at this point. He needed to pull them out of the cartridges they came in and sterilize them and that takes about 30 minutes, so he said come back at 8:45. We got gas and then I drove a bit to find a Starbucks. I could not find a Starbucks! I finally turned around and headed the other direction and eventually found one to sit at for 10 minutes.

We got back to the shop at 8:45 on the dot. He made copies of all of our ids and then got the room ready. Clara was about to bust she was so excited. She said if she could do flips she would be doing one right then. First one went in no problem. There were no tears but she looked a little shocked and was really quiet. The second one bled quite a bit. He said that she got worked up after the first one and her adrenaline was pumping, which is why it bled. He got her all cleaned up and she was still being really quiet, so we had to ask her if she was ok and remind her to breathe. Ha! She was on cloud nine once she finally got to see herself in the mirror. I’m proud of her. I really thought there would be lots of tears and I had prepared my pep talk when it came time to do the second one. The piercer told her she did better than some adults.

So without further adieu, the long-awaited earrings. She’s all grown up now. The first one was taken in the studio and that’s the ear that bled.

 

I’m really hoping I don’t have to clean up nasty, crusty gunk tomorrow morning.

Finally

It was rainy before we left for camping and we decided to forgo bikes this trip since it was supposed to be really cold and we assumed they wouldn’t want to ride. So finally, a week and one day after receiving his bike, Robert just got to try it out for the first time. He’s pretty proud of himself right about now.