“PLAY ALL DAY!”

Dear Alex,

Good lord I have let the time slip away from me! Fall and winter are incredibly busy times of the year for us– there’s just so much fun stuff to do around here, plus the holidays of course, that we’ve been focusing on enjoying it all with you as much as possible. 🙂 Early toddlerhood is such a fun age & we love being able to take you out for so many fun experiences. The good news is we’ve at least been documenting it in pictures/videos! More of those later.

As a parent, these last few months have been some of the most entertaining and rewarding so far. You are very much a little boy now, with very few hints of babyhood left, and have learned SOOOO much. You’re talking up a storm, know many of your colors, shapes, letters & numbers, etc. I am just blown away by what a smart, sweet, hilarious, overall awesome little boy you are. Obviously I’m more than a bit biased, but… it’s true! 😀 You’ve really come out of your shell, especially in the last month or so. These days you smile & say hello to EVERYONE, no matter where we are, and at playdates you’re a big hugger. In fact there are a couple of newer kids in our weekend playgroup that are super shy, and I think you’ve been getting on their nerves accosting them with all these hugs. LOL. The only time social anxiety is still a factor is when you’re not with me or Dad, which is pretty rare.

Speaking of those few hints of babyhood, recently you forced our hand on getting rid of pacifiers (“binkies”) when you bit clear through one during naptime at daycare a few weeks ago. You’ve got a mouth full of teeth now & that’s a huge choking hazard, so we had to go cold turkey for operation “Bail on Binky” that very same night. It was tough the first few nights but overall you did pretty well! Hopefully you don’t steal Charlie’s binkies once he’s on the scene in a few weeks.

So, the only baby-ish thing left with you now is diapers… and that unfortunately seems to be a very long way off still. Although we had some initial success with potty training– you were interested at first and did pee & poop in the potty a couple of times, each time resulted in you FREAKING OUT and sobbing “mess, mess, yuck, yuck!” because you thought you’d been bad for making a mess. That seems to have traumatized you and now you won’t even get near the toilet unless it’s to accompany me or Dad while we’re going. Sigh. But, we’ve decided we’re not going to force it. From what I understand, potty training is a much easier process when the kid is truly ready for it & interested in it.

I mentioned being busy with the holidays– since I last wrote we’ve had not one, not two, but THREE major holidays! They’ve all been a blast, but I think this is where pictures & videos tell the stories better than I can. So, here we go– life since I last wrote has been something like this…

The biggest, most common thread that weaves through all of our adventures is BABY. Baby is the little doll we gave you not long after we found out that you were going to be a big brother. A friend gave us the idea to teach you about babies & how they are cared for this way. You might remember that Elmo used to go with us everywhere, but after accidentally forgetting him at Grandma & Papa’s house one time you latched onto Baby and he’s been your BFF ever since. If I’d known you were going to get so attached to Baby, I probably would’ve chosen one that is more sturdy. LOL. Oh well!

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Dad spent every weekend for about a month or so remodeling one of our bathrooms. You enjoyed making a “house” out of construction materials (first photo) and the many, many trips to Home Depot (second photo).

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^ You were painting the plate for a Thanksgiving craft we made (amazingly no paint got on Baby, phew!). The end result came out really cute!

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^ This was taken a couple weeks ago when you & I were up late one night while you had the stomach flu. It was a very miserable evening for you, to say the least. This was the first time you’d ever been that sick, and it absolutely broke my heart. Every time you threw up it naturally scared/upset you quite a bit. Thankfully the worst of it only lasted the one evening… but you didn’t eat much for the next couple days, which is VERY unlike you. Miraculously no one in the house managed to catch it from you either.

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^ Here you were telling Baby to “SAY CHEESE!” Haha

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^ You are still very much my little bookworm! The floor-level bookshelf was a very wise investment off the yardsale site… having to pick you up to get to the bookshelves mounted on your wall was getting to be a huge pain. You are too heavy & I am too pregnant for that!

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(Sorry these pictures are not really in chronological order, by the way). Halloween! You & I dressed up together as characters from the old movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” — you were an Oompa Loompa & I was the girl that turns into a blueberry. This year we actually took you out to a few houses around the neighborhood to trick or treat, plus to a local “trunk or treat” event with our weekend playgroup, and both times you did great! You didn’t want to say “trick or treat” but you did at least say “thank you” to everyone. One thing that cracked me up was that when a particularly generous lady gave you a full-sized candy bar, you refused to put it in your little pumpkin. I guess because you thought only bite-sized candies should go in there? Anyway, although we got some video of you trick or treating, I actually thought the video of you eating your candy after we got home was much more entertaining…

This year both sets of grandparents happened to be in town for Halloween because Charlie’s baby shower was the same weekend. It was nice having them there for the big event. 🙂 BTW, the “ta-da” story Nana is talking about is as follows:

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LMAO. You are actually pretty good about manners, we’ve drilled them into you pretty hard. You say please, thank you, sorry, and excuse me. Now we even get a full confession such as “Excuse me, I burped a little bit.” 😉

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^^ I just love those “Alex smiles!” Whenever we ask you to smile now, you get the biggest/cheesiest/goofiest grin on your face. It’s the best. 😀 That last picture is obviously from Christmas day, which leads me to “The Holidays”

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^^ Happy Thanksgiving! You were not sick this year, so that’s a win in my book. Since Grandma & Papa were in Florida for Thanksgiving, Uncle Jeff hosted lunch on the Stoddard side, then we had dinner with the Pacheco side later than evening. You had such a blast hanging out with your cousins, as you can see. 🙂

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^ When we got home that weekend after Thanksgiving we put up our Christmas decorations. Dad & I did most of it while you were napping, but we saved the tree ornaments for when you got up. In the video above we were doing the “special” ornaments which I had to help you more with, but for the plain ball ornaments you got the knack of doing it yourself pretty quickly… we just ended up with a ton of those down at the bottom. LOL. Also, you can see in the last picture the new ornament we got this year– an “Alex & Charlie” ornament to celebrate Charlie’s impending arrival.

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^ You did not think much of Santa this year, either. What’s funny is that you were SUPER excited to go see Santa… you recognize who he is/what he looks like now (mostly thanks to the big blowup Santa on our front porch), but I don’t think you’ve made the connection to the presents yet. Anyway, as soon as Santa came out you kept trying to cut in line and run up to see him. As soon as we finally got up there & it was time for you to sit on his lap, you quickly changed your mind! This was the best photo we could get. LOL. Maybe next year will be THE year!

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^ Of course we spent much of this joyous season enjoying it with our playgroup! Hard to believe it’s been a year & a half since I started the group, but now I couldn’t imagine our life without them– many of the “regulars” have become some of our closest friends. We went to a walk-through light show (that’s our friend Tom holding you & his son/your buddy Noah just after we’d finished checking it out) and did a cookie swap/holiday craft date with them this season. You made some really cute ornaments for our little mini tree in the dining room!

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^ You really, really enjoyed all the Christmas decorations around the house this year… especially the tree. The first thing you’d say when you came downstairs each morning was “Christmas tree!” 🙂 This is one of my favorite photos of you & the tree, taken one evening when we were snuggled up in front of the fire watching tv.

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Christmas day was a busy whirlwind down in Hampton with the family… for whatever reason you decided to get up for the day at 3:30am (ugh!), but you managed to hang on until after Uncle Jeff and his family came over to Papa & Grandma’s house for presents & brunch. You did a great job opening presents this year, and were content to play with your toys while everyone else opened theirs. After a nice long nap, we went over to Nana & Grump’s house for another round of presents and dinner. 🙂 It was a long, exhausting day & we JUST barely squeezed everything in the car to make the journey back home that night. I have been thinking a lot lately about how we’re going to do Christmas in future years, with another baby on top of Santa & everything else. It may be time to start our own family traditions for Christmas and celebrate with the grandparents & extended family the weekend following. (They are not going to like that when they read it… sorry, grandparents.) At least we have a whole year to think about it!

And with that, I’ll wrap up with some of my other favorite pictures & videos from all the random shenanigans we’ve gotten into these last few months (and again, they’re most likely out of order… sorry!):

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^ A couple weeks before Halloween, we went to a local nursery’s “pumpkin playground” with our weekend playgroup. It was a ton of fun, and you got to pick out a pumpkin at the end. Well, leave it to you to pick the TINIEST, in my opinion most lame pumpkin in the whole patch! But man… you sure were proud of that pumpkin (as evidenced here!). LOL

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^ I should clarify that when I say “we got it that time,” I mean that EVERY other time up until that point you would give us a very adamant NO whenever we asked you if you wanted to be a big brother and/or have a baby brother. And this was not the first time we’d tried the trick of asking you lots of questions that you say yes to first… usually it’s still a no. And it’s been back to a no ever since. Sorry, Charlie! :-X

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So as you can see… you are a non-stop ball of energy, from the moment you wake up until we wrestle you into bed you are going a million miles an hour, and having a blast while you do it. Okay, we don’t really wrestle you into bed & actually you’re pretty good about sleeping once you actually fall asleep. But when it’s time for bed or nap you insist that you want to “play all day” which is where the title of this letter came from. 😉 But alas, even super toddlers need to recharge their batteries…

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😉 And every morning you wake up looking something like this:

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LOL. You have the most epic bedhead I’ve ever seen, especially on someone with such short hair! People sometimes wonder why, but I’m always reminded whenever I need to go in and lay down with you in the middle of the night. This doesn’t happen very often anymore, just if you’re sick or have a bad dream, but when it does good GRIEF you flop around like a fish out of water! One night it was so ridiculous that I decided to go back & show Dad on the camera monitor we have in your room. It was then that I discovered our monitor has a “time lapse” feature, and I made this gem of a video. The following took place over the course of about an hour & a half in the wee hours of the morning a couple months ago:

Although you’re super cute & snuggly when I go to lay down with you, you refuse to just lie still and fall back asleep. As someone who also has trouble falling asleep I can relate somewhat to your plight (my mind goes a mile a minute and it’s really hard for me to “turn that off” when I need to sleep), but I still get exhausted just watching that video! Haha.

But even though life with you (and especially with being pregnant on top of it) has been insanely exhausting, I would not change a single second of it. As I (finally!) wrap this letter up it’s now New Year’s Eve, which is a day many people use to reflect on how their year has went. For me, it’s absolutely been one of the best years of my life. This age in your life has been a challenge (you have those “terrible two” moments for sure!) but also a lot of fun– you are so full of joy and wonder, and it’s been a great reminder to appreciate all the little things in life. One of my favorite things to do is just walk around the neighborhood and explore with you– when the weather cooperates we take a little walk as a family after dinner each evening (although it’s gotten too dark too early to do that now, but we’ll pick it up again in the spring). We always take the time to say “hi” to the mailboxes (haha) and check out every fancy leaf, every pretty car, every random critter scurrying/flying around, every friendly neighbor, etc etc. Getting to see the world through your eyes is one of my favorite things about being your mom. For that… I thank you, sweet Alex. 🙂

Although it’s much later than I intended, the timing of this letter actually works out for the best as I doubt I’ll have time to write again until things settle down after Charlie is born. We’re actually doing your birthday party a month late this year for that same reason, so the next letter can cover your birthday and all the associated celebrations involved with that. And of course, your transition from only child to big brother. 😉 Wish us luck, family & friends!

All my love,
Mom

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It’s a date!

Dear Charlie,

Oh my goodness time has flown by! We have been super busy with the holiday season, and now you are right at 35 weeks along. You’re the size of a coconut now, although to me it feels like a watermelon. LOL. Third trimester is all about growth & putting meat on your bones, and I think you’ve been doing just that. This was taken at 32 weeks…

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And this was taken  a few days ago, just shy of 35 weeks:

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A pretty big difference! Although I’m measuring right on schedule (just had my last biweekly checkup yesterday actually– all was well!), I still feel like I’m much bigger then I was with Alex. Well, let’s put that to the test:

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At both maternity photo sessions, which were taken around the same point in the pregnancies, I had the photographers take a shot of this belly angle. I think Dad is probably right… you two look about the same size. Maybe I’m just more tired and uncomfortable this time around because I’m chasing after a toddler all the time on top of being pregnant! 😉

Anyway, the big news now is that we’ve scheduled your c-section! Assuming all goes well between now & then, you’ll be making your big debut on Friday January 23 at 11:30am. That’s exactly one month from yesterday– and boy, we can’t wait!! There are a few things left to do to prepare for your arrival, but not much. Dad & I are SO excited to meet you! Alex still doesn’t really get it, but I think once you’re here and he gets to meet you, he’ll enjoy being a big brother– he LOVES babies. We’ll see! Haha

As promised, I did sit down and have a chat with Dad about this pregnancy and your impending arrival. Here’s your first Dad interview!

How has this pregnancy been from your perspective? 
Dad said that honestly, it’s been almost exactly the same as the first pregnancy. The only difference is that since we’re so busy these days with Alex, it’s been easy to forget that I’m even pregnant! (My thought was sure, that’s easy for you to say! LOL)

Are you worried about having a newborn AND a toddler?
Apparently Dad is not worried at all… he feels that we’re “baby experts” now so the newborn thing will be a breeze. To this I said “even if he has colic too?” (which is my biggest fear, I wouldn’t wish a colicky baby on my worst enemy), and Dad said that even if you have colic, at least this time we know what we’re dealing with and it will be easier for us to remember that it DOES end eventually. As for having two little ones under one roof, Dad wasn’t too worried about that either… “at least we’re not outnumbered!” Haha. I guess it’s pretty evident who is the worrier in this relationship. 😉

Do you think Alex will be a good big brother? 
Dad thinks it will be a rough transition for Alex since he can be so clingy (especially with me), but in the long run he’ll like being a big brother. I definitely agree with this assessment. We discussed (and have discussed this many times) how important it will be for Dad to try to fill the void as much as possible when I’m too busy/exhausted in the throes of newborn care. He’s up for the challenge.

Anything you want to say to Charlie before we wrap this up?
Keep growing! (Again, my thought was “easy for you to say”… haha). Dad also said, which I mentioned earlier, that he can’t wait to meet you. 🙂

And with that, I think that’s enough for one letter! I will try to write one more time before the “main event” next month. Until then, my little coconut!

All my love,
Mom