“How can I love you? I don’t even like you!”

Dear Alex,

The summer has flown by and now you’re sneaking up on age 3! I can’t believe how fast this year is going by (although as you’re reading this I’m sure I sound like a broken record… I know I say it a lot. Time has been going at warp speed pretty much since the day you were born & is now at triple warp speed with Charlie here too). We’ve had a lot of fun this summer, but it’s also been pretty challenging as far as parenting goes. You’ve definitely embraced some aspects of the whole “terrible 2” thing, and of course they say age 3 is worse. These days it’s known as the “threenager” stage & I can already see why– you’ve started to roll your eyes and huff at me every once in awhile in a very teenager-ish way, and say “o-KAAAAAY” when I ask you to do something. Oy! And so as much as I love you (which is a WHOLE LOT), there are definitely times when it’s very difficult to like you. That being said, the quote I chose to title this post with actually came from you a couple months ago– you said this to dad one evening when I had to work late and he had to be the one to put you to bed (it’s usually me who does that). You were crying for me and Dad said something like “Aww come on, don’t you love me?” to which you responded “How can I love you? I don’t even like you!” OUCH. Dad’s feelings were pretty hurt, although of course I told him not to take it personally… whenever I’m here & he’s not, you’re always asking for him. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Still, I thought that was a pretty deep (albeit hurtful) thing to say for a 2 year old.

I do think you’re a pretty big thinker for someone your age! You’re definitely very sensitive and concerned with others’ well-being more than I would expect a 2 year old to be. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I see it happening more & more frequently. For example, just tonight you told me to be careful with my soup because you didn’t want me to burn my mouth, so could I please blow on it before I eat it? LOL. Another example is a few weeks ago, we had just gotten in the car to go to daycare and I was sitting there getting my seatbelt on (hadn’t even started the car yet), when you apparently saw that another car was coming down the street and said to me “Mom! There’s another car, it’s going bye-bye. Don’t you DARE go in the road!” You’re similarly attentive to Charlie and Dad, but I also see it with strangers (especially other kids that are crying). Although you’re still pretty shy, you’re quicker to come out of your shell in social situations and when you do, you’re quite the charmer!

Emotional intelligence aside, you’re very on top of things academically as well… and it’s not like we push all of it very hard, but you’re just naturally curious and seem to pick things up really quickly. You have several of your favorite books and songs memorized. You know a plethora of colors & shapes, can recognize both capital and lowercase letters & for some of the more common ones, you know how they sound. On a good day you can spell your name, but that’s still hit or miss. You can also recognize numbers up to 10, but you can count to 20 and have started to be able to actually count groups of objects. You know more about topics like space, anatomy, animals, plants, etc than I think the average 2 year old does. You’re just so incredibly smart and it blows me away constantly. You still love books and we read together a lot. Since you have many of your books memorized, you also “read” to me & Charlie too. Sometimes I worry that by not having you in preschool yet, we’re not helping you meet your full potential… but everything I’ve heard/read on the subject says that at this age, you learn the most through playing anyway. For this year, I thought becoming a big brother was enough change for you!

No news on the potty front. Sometimes I get frustrated when I see so many of our friends’ kids potty training and how well they’ve done with it…. but you just aren’t ready. I feel like a big part of it is that none of the other kids at daycare are trained yet either. Once you start seeing other kids use the potty on a regular basis, I think that will pique your interest. But for now, you’re still very much team “Diapers for Life.” Sigh. With two kids, a full time job and a lot of extracurriculars, I just don’t have the time or energy to try to force the issue right now. Many of my friends with older kids swear that one day you’ll just wake up, decide it’s the right time and ask to wear undies. Praying that is the case.

One of the bigger changes I’ve seen in you since my last letter is the development of fears & nightmares. Sometimes you wake up crying in the night and I have a hard time settling you down because you aren’t fully awake. It breaks my heart. Even awake, you are suddenly afraid of many things– the dark, most animals, anything loud, fantasy things like dragons & giants, other random things. When we were walking around the neighborhood recently you FREAKED OUT when we walked under the branches of a big tree because you were afraid an animal was going to jump down out of the tree onto you. Hoping this is a phase and not something we should be worried about. If it’s still an issue by the time we get to your three year appointment, I’m going to ask about it. For now, we try to anticipate things you’re going to be afraid of and talk you through it in advance.

We haven’t done a “Favorite Things” list in awhile, so now might be a good time! You currently LOVE…
* Puzzles
* Books (most recently “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boyton, it must be in bed with you every night, but only when you’re ready to fall asleep. You take the title quite literally!)
* Stickers– we use these as rewards
* Ninja Turtles, Minions, Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street (your favorite is now Cookie Monster, but Elmo is still high up there)
* Pizza, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets– the typical toddler food group
* Broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, most fruit
* Wendy’s chili (random but true)
* Anything Dad, Charlie or I am eating
* Music & dancing– You’re always singing, turning everything into a song and like to start randomly dancing when you hear music (or are making your own music). The easiest way to get you to cooperate or calm you down from a tantrum is to distract you/persuade you with songs.
* TV shows: Handy Manny, Super Why, Sesame Street, Pajanimals, a few others
* Swings, and sometimes slides. You recently mastered climbing up your slide and going down on your tummy, so that’s fun.
* Pretend play– you’re really into your dress-up trunk which is mostly just hats at the moment, but we’ll be adding a bunch more stuff to it for Christmas. You also like to give us “check ups” with your doctor kit and play “restaurant” in your clubhouse outside (where you take our order and cook something for us)
* Helping– In addition to doing everything yourself, you’re now in the “big helper” phase… although I don’t know how much you’re actually helping, at least you’re willing to let us get chores done rather than constantly getting us to stop what we’re doing to play with you. Specifically you like helping me cook and do dishes. πŸ˜‰
* Babies– You still love Charlie of course & are an AMAZING big brother, but now that many of our friends have had second babies you’ve been really enjoying them as well. Recently we took care of a friend’s 1 month old girl and you asked me if you could have a baby sister….. :-X Yikes!

I’d write a list of dislikes, but in typical fickle toddler fashion your dislikes change by the second. You pretty consistently don’t like animals though– at least not live ones, up close…. and that includes our dog Annie. I think you’re fine with animals & theory, but when they get too close to you, you get scared. Oh, and you consistently do not like eggs– scrambled, fried, doesn’t matter how they’re cooked. Other than that, everything is pretty much hit or miss.

That’s enough rambling– I have TONS of pictures and videos to tell the rest of our story! πŸ™‚

At the trampoline park, you were finally able to climb up to the top of the trampoline wall! You were so proud of yourself. πŸ˜‰

Playing glow in the dark putt-putt… you quickly got bored with the game itself, and talked Dad into letting you ride on his shoulders the ENTIRE time, even when he did the lazer maze!

The Pacheco side of the family came to visit for 4th of July weekend– you had a blast playing with your cousins, as usual!

This year you got to hold your first sparkler– closely supervised of course!

You & Charlie went to stay with both sets of grandparents for a week over the summer while daycare was closed for vacation. I missed you guys SO MUCH…. don’t think we’ll be sending you guys away for that long again any time soon! This was the day you came home. We celebrated your return with a hat party!

You & Dad love playing with Legos together. This is Dad’s “big boy” set, which I have since banned now that Charlie is mobile, due to the choking hazard. Now you guys mostly play with your toddler-friendly set instead.

You want to do EVERYTHING Dad is doing– you’re his little shadow! πŸ˜‰

Cheese! I’ve been working on teaching you to smile with your teeth. Anytime I take a picture of Charlie, you want your picture taken too.

Snuggled up in bed while you were sick. We had a really terrible month or so of illness in our house– you & Charlie took turns getting croup, you also had a brief stomach virus, and I was sick with some sort of cold/flu virus as well.

Miserable at the doctor’s office– they had to swab your throat for the first time to test for strep and you did NOT want to do it. The nurse had to bribe you with copious amounts of Ninja Turtle stickers. You were still miserable, but you asked me to take a picture of your stickers to show Dad anyway. My poor baby! As a parent, your kids being sick is the WORST thing. You want to do anything and everything it takes to make your little ones feel better… but there’s only so much you can do, and you just feel so powerless.

Once you were feeling better, it was back to the important business of fun and play! We enjoyed the local splash park (which I didn’t get many pictures of since I was busy having fun also), and the big playground next door.

Front porch sittin’ & rocking our shades!

Putting together one of your puzzles. You master them pretty quickly, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new puzzles to keep you challenged! Luckily the dollar store has a nice variety that are just your size.

Enjoying your swingset in the backyard, as we do almost everyday. It’s your favorite place to be! One thing that’s been an issue lately is the baby swing– you’re able to use the big boy swing but still prefer the baby one… but at 40lb + having a little brother who likes to join in on the fun, we’ve had to force you to give this up & you are not happy about it. You still try to talk us into letting you use the baby swing all the time.

Just a typical afternoon in the Pacheco house– puzzling & singing. πŸ™‚

I took you to the movies for the first time a couple months ago. We saw the movie “Minions,” which I knew would be perfect for your first movie as you are OBSESSED with the Minions characters. You did pretty good– you sat quietly and watched for about 3/4 of the movie, then got a little squirmy towards the end and stood there in front of your seat. But you didn’t fuss at all and seemed to enjoy yourself. This little display just outside the theater was the perfect photo op!

Hanging out after the movie with your pal Ella. πŸ™‚

Team huddle time during basketball class. Coach Mike was a nice guy, but overall you didn’t like basketball class as much as you liked baseball.

I saved the bunny ears from Easter and put them into your hat box. This picture cracks me up!

Proudly displaying some artwork. You LOVE to paint and color with crayons/markers.

You did a great job at your most recent trip to the dentist, and your teeth got a clean bill of health! πŸ˜€

Piled up with all your necessities as we headed out of town for our mini-vacation in Hampton. πŸ˜‰

Riding the new “pedal ponies” in the mall. It took you awhile to get the hang of it, but once you did we were all over the place! I had a lot of fun with this too, although it is a major leg workout!

Checking out some exhibits with Dad at the Virginia Living Museum. We had such a blast there!

Buckroe Beach + playground with Grandma! You were not a huge fan of the sand at first, which is unfortunate because it’s kind of hard to avoid sand at the beach. πŸ˜‰ But you got over it after awhile and enjoyed playing in the sand right at the edge of the water while the waves came up over your feet & legs (a far cry from your first trip to the beach, LOL). You & I also had a great time walking down the beach to collect shells.

You had an awesome first theme park experience at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg! Both sides of the family came with us– Bobby & Solly rode many of the rides with you (in addition to me & Dad), and you had a blast! You were so worn out by the time we were done, you fell asleep on Dad’s shoulders as we were walking out of the park. He carried you on the trolley to the car and you slept all the way home (and then some). Phew! I thought you were going to enjoy the Sesame Street part of the park more, but there wasn’t much to it & the Zoe character that everyone was taking pictures with scared you. I think because you expect the characters to be smaller based on their TV appearance, not the 6ft+ monster we saw that day!

Now that Charlie can sit in the wagon with you, we take it out for a spin around the neighborhood quite often. πŸ™‚

We recently had a very rainy weekend when a nor’easter + a hurricane came up the east coast… so for some indoor fun, we broke out our book of science experiments and tried our hand at making “fizzy foam” with vinegar, dish soap & baking soda. You loved mixing the different foam colors!

Fixing a toy with Dad!

Getting your face painted for the first time at a local fall festival. I wasn’t sure how you would react to this, but you chose Lightning McQueen to go on your cheek, sat still while the lady painted it, and were absolutely thrilled with the results. You’ve had your face painted a couple other times since then, and you really seem to enjoy it.

Bath time is much more fun now that Charlie can play in there with you!

You and Charlie love to fly to space in your rocketship. πŸ™‚

Recently we went on a pirate-themed cruise on the Potomac. It was so much fun! Here you are showing off your “booty.”

You recently decided that you want to be a fire chief when you grow up. I think that’s a good choice as it incorporates some of your favorite things– being the boss, helping people, and wearing cool hats. πŸ˜‰

That’s about all for now. Overall it’s been an amazing summer! Everyday is a new adventure, and although life with two little ones has its rough moments… you & Charlie have brought us so much joy. You make us smile & laugh everyday. πŸ™‚ As I finish this letter, you’re sitting in bed next to me eating a snack & reading a book in your Halloween costume, which you’re SO excited about. I’ll save that for the next letter though, along with the rest of the holidays. We had so much fun this summer, but now that we’re getting into my favorite time of year with Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas I’m so excited for even more fun stuff we have in store over the next few months!

Until next time, my sweet Alex. As I tell you every night, I’m SO glad to be your Mommy. πŸ™‚ Dad, Charlie & I love you so very much!

All my love,
Mom

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