The Tovsky Tribe

Chocolates, Cocktails, Friends, Babies...A Girl Should Never Have Just ONE!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Letter to my Son on his 8th Birthday!

Dear Turner,

Cool as can be

Wishing for the stars

This morning, while I was still lying in bed, I was presented with the Facebook memory of your 5th birthday video. This very day, just 3 years earlier. You were magnificent. Magnificently beautiful. Magnificently adorable. Magnificently hilarious.  You spoke, while grinning with delight, with confidence and humor and a sense of wisdom beyond your years. You were still 4 at that moment with just hours remaining until you were the "whole hand."  Your eyes were filled with warmth and sunshine and happiness. Your voice was raspy with imperfect words. Your thoughts were pure and real and amusing and, somehow, even profound...for a pre-schooler. Watching it brought me right back to that moment and I was delighted by the memory.


Then, when I thought about it, I was delighted all over again. Because, Turner, you are still very much that same boy.  This is proven not only by your same selection of favorite colors (that includes nearly the whole rainbow) but is proven everyday in the person you are.  You are that same sweet, smart, funny kid.  Your face looks exactly the same, your mannerisms are still as precise, and you're just as thoughtful and calculated in your words as you were then.

8!  8 is my favorite number and, perhaps not by coincidence, my favorite age. Eight is the brink of big boy hood while hanging on to the end of the little boy life. 8 gets jokes told by his big brothers while still enjoying some of his baby brother's toys.  8 is independent and capable yet still needing cuddles and attention.  8 is full of conversation and opinions and also full of hugs and kisses.  8 has friends and social activities but doesn't need entertainment all of the time and isn't expecting a full social calendar.  8 has more confidence in his abilities and is more willing to try new things. 8, as they often say, is great.

You are now in 2nd grade.  Your teacher, Mrs. Rowan, left on maternity leave in November and Mrs. Demusz has taken over.  You seem to really love 2nd grade and have settled in nicely to your friends and school life.  You like math and usually do pretty well with it but struggle a bit with your reading, something we are working on. We celebrated your 8th birthday, over Christmas Break, with your school friends at a really awesome virtual reality gaming center.  Everyone had a great time. I love seeing you amongst your peers.  Then, we will celebrate with the family on Sunday.

In so many ways you are still the same boy you always were.  There is nobody I can count on more than you to lend a helping hand or to know which way is up or where something is or where it belongs.  There is no one who knows the rules better or insists more that they be followed (even if you yourself don't want to always follow them!)  You love to run errands with both daddy and I and just want to be involved and be included.  You are curious and ask a lot of questions, and you often force those you are asking to think deeper and wider.  You are wise and have an intrinsic understanding about the world.  You love to sing and to dance and to listen to music and have been known to stop what you are doing just to bust out a few moves or a few lines Of song and then continue on with whatever it was you were doing before the music in your head started.  You like to play games and you like to be with us.  And, Turner, we all love to be with you, too.

In the recent past you have gotten more competitive and more aggressive and more physical, which is a change from the 5 year old who played soccer and would not dare try to take a ball away from the other team.  You started playing basketball this year and are having so much fun. You love going to the practices and love to practice at home and tell us what you learned.  Your first game is coming up this weekend and you are, we all are, very excited.  Your team consists mostly of 2nd graders from Richboro Elementary school so it is even more fun for you to play with your friends.  When we play basketball at home you have a good shot, aren't afraid to get in on the play, and have been known to win Knockout and Horse on many occasion.

You are also considering playing baseball this coming Spring.  We will have to see what you decide....speaking of decisions, you are still not a very good decision maker.  Your indecisiveness is based on your desire to never disappoint anybody and I think you are worried that you could choose "Wrong!"  There is very rarely a wrong choice in the decisions you have to make and you will never disappoint by choosing what is best for you instead of deciding based on what is best for others.  But, that is who you are, considerate, empathetic, concerned and thoughtful. These are not often traits found in children yet these are exactly the traits that make up a large part of who you are.

In the coming week you will begin guitar lessons, a hanukkah and birthday present given to you by so many.   You have been asking to play guitar for some time and I am excited for you to begin. Not only do you have a love for music but you have a way of committing yourself to your passions and becoming determined to be great at whatever is.  I hope you find a real connection to the music world and guitar becomes a thing you love.

You seem to make friends easily and get along well with most people (except for Ryder, at times!) and though you have a long list of 2nd grade friends (Chase, Grayson, Michael, Gavin, Alex, Billy, Zachary, Jake, Jagger, and Bram to name a few,) you are most often found hanging out with and interacting with the 5th graders.  Many of Chase and Ryder's closest friends consider you a friend, too, and it is pretty amazing to witness the bonds that you are able to form.

You are a little brother that loves to instigate and show your muscle when necessary, perhaps reminding your big brothers that you are not so little anymore.  But, you are also a little brother who looks up adoringly at his big brothers and knows just how lucky he is to have them.  And, don't worry, buddy, they don't always say it, but it is clear that they know they have a very cool and awesome little brother in you.

As a big brother you make every effort possible to take care of Decker.  Toddlers can be difficult, particular in ways, and yet unable to communicate their needs.  But, even if Decker makes it tough, you continue to show him that you love him, are there for him, want to help him and teach him and just want to be with him.  It won't be long before the two of you are outside playing together and the bond you two will have will be like no other.

I haven't had you to the doctor yet for your well check up but you still seem to be on the taller side for your age (and a little on the heavier side, too!)  

Turner, you have always been a special little guy and no matter how old you get and how big you are I am confident that you will continue to hold on to that little piece of magic that makes you the special person that you are.  I hope that your kindness continues to grow, your sense of humor continues to flow, your eyes continue to shine, and your mind continues to expand.  There isn't one day that goes by that I am not so very proud of everything that you are and I will always support you being whoever it is you are going to be.

8 year old video

Happy birthday, Turner.  

I love you so....


Turner at 7

Growing in to the birthday shirt a bit more every year

Flaming basketball cake

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017

2016 was a historical year. It was flooded with celebrity deaths that were heartbreaking and littered with political craziness in the ridiculous election of Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump that, somehow, has Donald Trump as our President-Elect. It was a year of a lot of hard work, a lot (A LOT) of activity, so much hockey, a good amount of baseball, tons of family and tons of friends. And, though I can't say it was a bad year by any standards, as all years do, it had to end. We celebrated the welcoming of 2017 at the Metzger's and had a nice time, though it felt weird to be without the Klaus's, the Levin's, and the Cohen's. And, Decker was still awake when the ball touched ground at exactly midnight. Welcome to 2017, baby boy.

We missed you too!

The first minutes of 2017 and this guy is bright eyed


Excited to party

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Letter to my Son on his 18 Month Birthday!

Dear Decker,

18 months, happy.  Although it is true I don't get to write these letters monthly, or even quarterly, it is also true that every month that passes, passes by happy.

The thing about you being a year and a half is that it is one of the most difficult phases we must deal with as parents.  I say this even amidst the mouthiness of tween-agers and the social issues that come along with being in 5th grade.  It is possible that I am forgetting, for the moment, about three year old tantrums, but we will go with this phase being the most difficult, being that we are in it, for purposes of this letter.  You are everything I expected from a toddler, everything I remember your brothers being...only more.  You are a climber, a mover, a shaker, a toucher, a feeler, a jumper, a runner, and a literal button pusher.  You have a physical capability that is amazing, and though I have grasped your capability and have almost embraced it most people are scared to death when they see how you climb to the top of the jungle gym and stand on the end, or walk parking curbs like a balance beam.  You can unscrew lids, do zippers, open doors, and are working on the buckles of your car seat. You are unbelievably strong and can hold your own in a tug of war with daddy or I or any of your brothers.  You mimic their every move and have shadow practiced your baseball swing and throw, your hockey swing, even a frisbee toss.  You try to dribble a basketball and do so pretty well considering, well, that you are one.  You can throw anything with straight projection and good velocity and can do so with both hands.  And, you are one hell of a little soccer player; capable of dribbling with both feet, kicking mid-stride, and striking a ball directly into a goal which is always a followed with both hands in the air and a "yyyaaaayyy!"

To the masses it's your eyes, your curls, your face that gets noticed and, literally, stops admirers in their step.  And, there is no doubt, that your blue eyes are bright and shine from your happy soul; your curls are long, and flowing, and enviable; your face is soft and pretty and dimpled, but to all of us who know you we understand that those physical attributes are not what make you WHO you are. You are a light in a room, a bounce in a step, a rare blooming flower on a warm winter's day. You are made up of a blend of unique and wonderful joys, like the look of delight that settles on your face and your smile with each small accomplishment. You are the way you excitedly nod your head for even the most simple of Yes's. And, it is the way you throw your head back, with your mouth open, and give a full belly laugh that causes laughing fits to anyone around you.  It is your persistent need to do and to learn and your impeccable understanding of words you can not say.  It is the way you grab a hold of my hand and take me to where ever it is you want to be and the way you smile when you see someone you love and give "huggies" upon request.  It is the way that you applaud small joys. And how, at a call for kisses, you pucker up your lips and will grace whatever lips come your way or how you suck in your cheeks to pucker up for fishy kisses. It is your "heh?" that is repeated after everything that is said to you, that should be annoying yet, coming from you, is somehow cute even if it does make me question your hearing.  It is the way you lay your head on my shoulder when you're ready for bed and will tap your hand on my back as we sing through the "D-E-C-K-E-R" song.  It is your love for books and the way you grab a few and crawl onto my lap to read them.  And, it is your love for puzzles and your need to keep trying until you solve them.  It is how you follow your brothers around and watch everything they do, and even more, it is the way they are with you- how you can get them to stop, to quiet, and to embrace you even when they are mid-moment of boy hyper.  It's all of this that makes you Decker and, though I take no credit for these attributes (they were truly gifted to you,) I feel privileged every day to have an opportunity to watch you grow and help cultivate the personality that is brewing and the person you are becoming.

Decker, at one and a half, you love books, and balls, and bubbles, and iphones.  You can navigate my phone swiftly and easily finding your apps within your folder and swiping right through each game. Unforyunately, however, you will throw an absolute tantrum if we take it away from you.  You love the playground.  The swings always get you laughing and you can never get enough of the sliding board.  You like yogurt, love your milk, and love applesauce. You prefer to feed yourself with both spoon and fork (in spite of the mess that causes) and are improving with that skill each day.  You sleep well, and often times will point right to your crib when it is time to go to bed.  We will lay you down on your soft, blue blanket and you will outstretch your arms and grab the ends and pull them in to your chest to cuddle.  It is just the cutest thing I have ever seen, and quite funny, since you are not a cuddler...not at all.  No, you do not like to cuddle (though you are happy to give hugs) and don't really like to be held, as you want to be able to be moving and doing at all times.

We took away the iphone!

You have a few words you use regularly; more and milk (both said while also using the sign); ball, and book and dad.  You say "Ry-yer" which is what you call all 3 of your brothers (though you used to call all 3 "Seis".)  Most of the other words that you have said; yes, fish, banana, bubble, lawn mower, Turner, Mama, you use sparingly.  Much like I remember Ryder being at a similar age, you seem to learn a word and then store it in your mind. You will start to use them all, possibly at once, at a later date.  For now, you communicate quite well with a string of grunts and noises and points and always seem to get what you need.

At 18 months you weigh 24.4 pounds and are 32.5 inches long, though that length is inaccurate considering you wouldn't sit still long enough to measure. You are light but solid and strong.  Your muscles have a definition that many of us could only wish for and you are coordinated and graceful in your movements.

We are busy and often on the go.  Between work and school and activities I often feel I don't get enough time to just be with you and that is why I cherish the Tuesdays that we have together.  And, though Tuesday is my favorite day, as I get to be with you, I am pretty sure your favorite day is the time you spend with Uncle Mat! No matter how busy or how hectic our life can be,you are the calm in our storm, the light in our day.  You keep me on my toes and are always in to something and I can't wait to see what is to come as we go through the days together.

I love you so......

First day of school

By the lake
Your Friday's with Uncle Mat!

One day, you pointed and grunted at this picture of daddy and Cousin Jaime until I handed it to you. Once I did, you looked at it, pointed at daddy and said "Da" then you pointed at Jaime, looked at me, and gave Jaime a kiss.  You know who he is without ever meeting him!!!

Turner at 18 months

So, this is twin toddlerhood

Chase and Ryder at 18 months

Monday, August 15, 2016

Camping, Biking, and Poison Ivy

Chase and Ryder had the very fortunate opportunity to go camping with Ethan and his grandfather, lovingly known as G.P.  The Van Aken's are a very outdoorsy family; biking, hiking, kayaking, camping, it is all a part of their normal, everyday lives.  I love all of those things and wish they were a part of my everyday life but that is certainly now how neither Todd nor I were brought up.  But, we are more than thrilled to get to experience these things, and more so, allow the boys to do them, with our very dear friends.  So, when this opportunity came about, for Chase and Ryder to camp- for the first time- with Ethan and G.P., everyone was very excited.

I do not consider myself nor Todd to be helicopter parents by any means and I believe we give them a decent amount of rope.  I feel strongly that kids need real life experiences in order to learn.  With that being said, however, it took a big gulp of "holy shit" for me to be at ease with the fact that they were going away for 4 days, camping for the first time, with a grandfather who doesn't know them too well, to "about 50 miles North of Harrisburg" without a cell phone to check in with.  Even with the big gulp I was never fully at ease but since I trust Jenn fully with our kids and she trusts G.P. I relaxed and was just simply excited for them.  And, off they went. With a long list of medicine dosings (for Ryder, mostly) in hand and cooler full of easy to prepare food they set off on August 8th for what would become the second of their 10th year of life memories (the first being the birthday bash) and their first parentless journey.

We got lucky because Bryce's phone was left home since he was at overnight camp so the boys took his phone with the strict instructions of using it to text us and call us each night and to send us the occasional selfie.

We did hear from them each night and all 3 boys sounded great each time.  Though the phone calls were brief and not very detailed (We went fishing.  We took a bike ride!) they all sounded happy, healthy, and like they were having the best of times, the way best friends should. They even told Turner they missed him and he should come next time, which made him so very happy (and, me too!) Jenn and I were thrilled.  We also received what Jenn and I consider to be the best selfie ever of the 3 smiling boys.

Wednesday night, their last night away, we got a call as always, an "I love you," and a "we will see you tomorrow" before hanging up.  But, after the call I received a text of a photo of Chase's bare tush, with the words, Chase has poison ivy on his butt.  After they sent it,the phone died, so they never answered my question of "Is this real or are you boys just sending me a full moon?"

Turns out, it was real.  When Chase got home I learned he took nature by storm and used leaves for all sorts of things; including a poison ivy leaf to wipe with.  The poor kid had a poison ivy outbreak in hard to reach places that caused him some good discomfort but was also quite funny.  I mean, how could you not laugh at that?  Even Dr. Abir found it amusing.  Chase was a sport about it.  He knew it was funny even though he couldn't stop itching.  And, now that it is healing nicely, we are all having a pretty good laugh.

Their stories of their time away  were about biking, including some reckless downhill off-roading that had Chase falling off his bike and faceplanting (luckily not into a patch of poison ivy) and Ryder nearly falling off a cliff, both of which were the highlight of Ethan's trip. There were stories about catching lots fish, including Ryder's 16inch fish which was the highlight of his trip (and the new fishing rod that G.P. bought him.) And, the cats that nearly lost one of their nine lives by crossing through the boys' reckless bike path.  And,of course, stories about taking dumps outside.  They made fire and roasted food; they made their own lunches (it's a miracle) and they stayed up late in their very own tent (G.P. had his own tent next to theirs) telling stories and laughing uncontrollably.  I would say that is one successful camping trip.

Thank you so much to G.P. and all of the Van Aken's for their kindness.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A letter to my sons on their 10th Birthday!

Dear Chase and Ryder,


Double digits. A decade. Two whole hands. The start of tween-age-dom. There are many names for this milestone but they all mean the same thing; TEN.

Ten. It makes me shiver. An eye-popping, head-scratching, let me re-check my math type of shiver. I can double and triple check but, the fact remains, my double first born are ten.  And, by looking at you, talking to you, knowing you, there is just no denying it.

As I write this letter, 5 of you (Turner and Ryder fell asleep before the fort transfer) are cuddled up in a fort for a sleepover party; the aftermath of a 17 boy birthday celebration with swimming, gaga, trampolines, and man hunt.  The party was great, albeit loud, and a true indicator of the great kids that you have both chosen for friends.  Although, I admit, I like hearing the laughter and the chatter and the discussion of girls, it truly is time for bed!!!

Last year, I commented on how 9 brought so many things but, most substantially, it marked the halfway point of your childhood.  Which means that this one, and every one from here on out, takes us, takes you, further from your childhood.  As your parent, that reality is baffling and also makes me a bit weepy.

Ryder, my sensitive superhero, every day you grow bigger, stronger, taller. Your shoulders are broad and your back is vast.  Your feet are bigger than mine though I do still have you by just a few inches in height...for now. I can't lift you, not even close, but you can and do lift me.  At 97 pounds and 56 inches you are solid as a rock and you're my go to for help carrying heavy things or moving furniture. You love that you have the strength required to help.  For all of your brawn, however, you're this deeply sensitive guy with an imagination and a creativity that can only be described as kinetic. Your body, your mind, your thoughts, your imagination are always, always in motion.  You've developed into an extremely self-aware and confident kid and you are comfortable with the person you are and are becoming. You're not afraid to be your own person and you recognize the wonderful in your very unique talents. You are thoughtful and passionate and, really, you are who you have always been, just more mature and more secure in your being. 

Fourth grade was a year of growth. You had an amazing teacher in Mrs. Carey and an awesome class. You embraced new friendships and cultivated deeper relationships with existing friendships. You've learned that you can be different than someone and still have a lot in common with them and you learned that  true friendship can be found where you least expect it. You've come to realize that you are one of the boys despite being your artsy self.   And, the boys are lucky to have you, because when it comes down to the nitty gritty of what being a real friend is there are not a lot out there that are better than you.  I hope you see the value in being a "true friend."  It makes me very proud.

Of all the things that you are at the top of the list is big brother.  You are absolutely amazing with Decker and he responds to you in kind.  You just seem to "get it" when it comes to a baby, or maybe you just get him. Either way, he adores you and you him and I know I can always count on you to care for him. You love him like you love most things, with passion and devotion and loyalty; that's just who you are.


As we begin this new decade I am hopeful to see you become more responsible, more thoughtful before acting, a little less impulsive.  I would like to see you dedicate yourself, through your talents and passions, to trying and being the best you can be at whatever it is you're doing.  Whether it is school work, art work, friendship, or daily chores- put your super large heart into it and just try and be the best you can be.  My faith in you is unwavering and my support is unconditional. Your possibilities are limitless, like your creativity, and I hope your desire catches up. 

You played basketball again this year, for Coach Bill again, and really enjoyed it. You improved a lot and did a great job on defense.  You enjoy playing and you practice often and I know you will continue to get better and better.  You also took Bass lessons at school and did great performing at the Spring Concert.  Your favorite color is still red. You've fallen in love with skateboarding and have embraced it and practice as often as you can.  You are trying to understand the sport from the bottom up.  Boards, building them and taking part, all the way up to the tricks of the trade. You love to read, are a YouTube phanatic, and love the band Green Day. You love television. You could watch all day if we would let you. And, though you are far less of a gamer than you used to be, you're still an electronics junkie whose face is often in my iPhone. Snapchat. Instagram. FaceTime. Group chat.  I could go on.  You've become very social and outgoing and tell stories with detail and excitement. You took a drawing class and did well and your talent is just blossoming. Your closest friends are Ethan and Connor and Jake and Aidan. And, of course, you're still close to Joey and Ryan. 

I can't wait to see what this year brings. 


Chase- my determined and disciplined superstar- you have grown taller and stronger (64 pounds and 54 inches), though you are still quite lean, and your back has broadened indicating a slow to come growth spurt that certainly has taken you out of the "smaller" category. Your lean body is pure muscle and your hands and feet move quickly and gracefully.   You are agile and fast both physically and mentally and have a heart that fuels itself on desire and competition.  Although you have recently lowered your own bar (just a bit) you still want to be the very best you can be at almost everything.  You are willing to work and to practice and to keep on trying until you master whatever it is you have set your mind on.  That discipline has served you well, most recently it was with the Rubik's cube that you vowed to solve.  And solve you did. I still don't understand how you can use ten different fingers to rotate each of the layers in many different directions at once, nor do I get how to solve it, but none of that matters. You can and do solve it swiftly and easily and continue to practice to do it better, faster. I hope this inner desire to win and the discipline to work continues to grow within you and keeps you striving for success.

4th grade was a good year for you in many ways.  Originally disappointed that most of your buddies were not with you in class, you were able to accept new friendships and came to realize that different people have different and wonderful things to offer.  You were impressed by your classmates smarts, or different hobbies, or silly personalities and accepted with your typical charm that not everyone loves sports. Mrs. Jaggers seemed to be a good match for you in the classroom (not to mention that she is Meg's best friend, a little fact that makes me happy!) and you excelled in almost all subjects. You were excited to learn, took it seriously, and as you do, tried to be the very best student you could be.  You love math, your skills in the subject have really taken off, and it won't be long before I will be completely unable to help you.  Luckily, you won't need much help in that area.

This year you traded your soccer cleats for ice skates and spent your first full season on a travel ice hockey team.  You missed soccer a bit, and were fortunate enough to play as a sub on many occasions, but overall hockey was a wonderful experience.  In addition to playing great hockey and improving your game, you made terrific memories and even better friends.  You are a very good hockey player and you love the sport and it shows in every way every time you are on the ice.  I am confident that you will continue to improve and develop as you play more and more.  You also had another enjoyable season of baseball.  For in-house you played for Coach Steve on the Falcons in the American League, which had you playing up with kids up to 12 years old.  For travel you played for Coach Steve as well.  This year's Bombers team had a lot of new (to you) kids on it and gave you an opportunity to play with some new boys and make some friends.  You played 1st base for the Bombers, which was a new experience.  Although you missed playing shortstop a bit more regularly, you embraced first base and played it very well.


Your favorite color is currently orange, which is no coincidence that it is the Flyers color. You love all Philly teams especially the Phillies and the Flyers. You like movies and magic and telling jokes. You're quieter than you were when you were younger, you keep more things close to your chest. You are still social, though less so, and continue to have a charming way about you.  Your closest friends are Ethan and Connor. In this new decade I hope that you can be a little neater and a little more thoughtful when it comes to the people and things around you. You have a tendency to get caught up in "Chase's bubble" and forget there's a big world out there.  You are a very smart kid who doesn't always think things through and I am hoping your tenth year can bring you a bit more of that and a bit more responsibility.  Childhood is for fun and memories and for learning so that you can be a responsible and respectable adult.  I want you to enjoy your childhood, as you are, and I want you to embrace the opportunity to learn.  I have no doubts about what you are capable of and I have a faith in you that can't be questioned.  I will always support you and I have no doubt of the success that will follow you.  I am so excited to see what this year brings you.


Everyday is an adventure with the two of you, the four of you, really; loud, hectic, often smelly and usually silly.  I love every minute of our life and I am beyond proud of both you, each of you, all of you.

You make me proud every day and I hope to continue to guide you so that you can make yourselves proud as well.

I love you so....

Growing into the birthday shirt
Almost bigger than the birthday shirt

The 9 year old letter