Welcome to ToddlerTown, Population: 2

Dear Charlie,

YOU ARE ONE! A toddler! I can’t believe how fast time is flying by.

As you can see, I totally failed at getting those last couple monthly letters in… there has been a lot going on, and frankly I’ve just felt so overwhelmed with life these last few months. We’ve had the holidays, your ear surgery, therapy sessions, almost constant illness from at least one member of the family at any given moment (you’ve had your second ER trip for croup since I last wrote– ugh!), Alex having some pretty severe sleep issues, birthdays, and of course the usual demands of my life as a working mom of two little boys. I’m not going to lie, it’s HARD. Between the four of us someone is always awake, someone is always crying, someone always needs help with something, someone is always hungry, someone always needs my attention… you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong– Dad is great with helping out with you guys and around the house but you & Alex are both very much mama’s boys. 😉 It’s a blessing and a curse, to be sure.

You’re sleeping much better these days, but there are still times here and there where you insist on sleeping in my arms and/or directly on my face. Alex is the same way from time to time, actually more often than you are. This picture was taken around 11:30pm on one of those nights, when I had pretty much given up all hope of either of us sleeping:

I think I’ve hinted at this here and there in some of my letters to you and Alex, but I also struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety. The severity of it ebbs and flows, but it really has come to a head in the last few months and a lot of things have had to take a back seat to my mental health. Finding balance and taking better care of myself has been a priority, so that I can be a better mom for you & Alex. It’s a constant struggle and the variables are always changing as you boys grow and our life circumstances change, but things are getting better and I’m hopeful that this continues to be a positive trend. You might wonder why I’m telling you all this– in addition to explaining the major delay in my writing, I want these letters to be an open and honest depiction of our life together and our experience with parenthood, so that if/when you have children someday you’ll be able to read this and perhaps relate some of what Dad & I are going through to your own experience.

But ENOUGH about me– I want to talk about you, sweet Charlie-bean! 🙂 When I last left off you were a few days away from ear tube surgery. The surgery itself went very smoothly, and although I was admittedly quite worried about it. Watching you go “under” with the anesthesia was pretty emotional, but thankfully you did not struggle with it the way many kids do. By the time they took me back to the waiting room and I opened my email, the doctor was out to let me know if was over! They had said it would be quick, but just HOW quick really surprised me. You were awake when I got back to the recovery area, understandably confused and upset from the morning’s events. Once we got you calmed down we went back home and you were more or less back to normal by the next day. Since then you actually have still managed to get two more ear infections, but they are not nearly as severe as they were before tubes…. a little bit of ibuprofen + some Rx ear drops and you’re good to go.

Speaking of things that are painful– TEETH! You have four chompers currently and are working on several more. You recently had your first dental checkup, which at this age isn’t much of anything other than a quick tooth brushing and a peek inside your mouth. You were a little squirmy/fussy but Alex was right by your side to hold your hand. 😉

Not my best picture– for a formula fed baby, you sure love to stick your hands down my shirt!– but it does show off your teeth really well. 🙂 You might also notice in that picture that you got your first haircut recently!

You were a bit squirmy, but didn’t fuss too much. We got lucky and the lady who cut Alex’s hair for the first time, Amina, happened to be there (despite being in a new location!). I think the cut made a HUGE difference in your look. You’re such a little boy now! A lot of people say you look much more like Alex now, but I still think the two of you look totally different. At the time I was worried that would be the last we’d see if your curls, but they are definitely growing back in. We got that hair cut done right before your first birthday party… so actually you’re about due for another trim soon!

Speaking of your birthday party, let’s talk about the whirlwind of the holidays, which for us also includes birthday season. Christmas was great– I really enjoyed spending Christmas Eve/Day at home with just the four of us. It was much more relaxed. You were naturally more into the wrapping paper than anything else on Christmas morning, but once that was cleaned up I think your favorite toys from Santa were

(1) the “house” as Alex calls it…

(2) the dancing robot….

and (3) the light-up/musical Sesame Street “phone,” which is now a must for getting through long car rides!

As you can see, there’s no such thing as “mine” & “yours” when you have a sibling– you love Alex’s toys and he loves yours too. He is starting to get annoyed when you try to take something from him, but isn’t a complete jerk about it (yet). You’ve also fallen in love with an oldie but goodie from when Alex was this age– the ball popper. You really love any and all balls. We had to designate a basket in the playroom just for balls and you go right for it. In addition to the ball popper, you really enjoy the balls that sing and light up when you roll them around. You like to roll/toss balls back & forth with us, put them up on shelves or in/out of baskets. Maybe you will be our sports star someday!

Look ma, no hands! You are cruising like a champ, pushing your walker toys all over the place, standing independently for increasing lengths of time and even taking a few steps here & there. 🙂 In true Charlie fashion (you are a major daredevil), you gave me a heart attack by deciding to take your first steps in the bathtub. Oy! But I digress. So after Christmas came your birthday… but we had to postpone the party due to a MAJOR snow storm rolling through on your birthday. We got 3 feet of snow and you did not like it very much:

But you did enjoy the makeshift birthday cookie I came up with later that evening. 🙂

We also did a “cake smash” photo session for our last milestone photos with Miss Jeni. You had no qualms about digging into the cake!

And when Cake, Round 2 finally came at your & Alex’s birthday party a few weeks later, you were VERY sad when it was time to take the cake away & get you cleaned up. LOL!

Not gonna lie, you cry a lot these days. But when I say “a lot” I really mean that relatively speaking, as I think you are still overall a very easy and happy baby (now that the ear issues are cleared up). I think it’s just that in this 1-2 year stage, young toddlers want to communicate a lot more than they’re able to, and get frustrated when they can’t form the words to express the big emotions they’re feeling. You especially, since you’re a bit behind on language development. You do have some words (in order of frequency– Mama, Bubba, Ball, More, Dada, Annie. The first two are the only ones you say on a daily basis) and you’ve caught up to the point where Alex was at this age, so I’m not too worried. We had weekly therapy for awhile, which covered language development as well as fine + gross motor skills, but now we’re down to monthly therapy sessions. Your therapist, Miss Sammi, and I are confident that you’re well on your way to being a healthy, busy, on-track little toddler. 🙂

Other than ALL THAT, we’ve just been living the dream. 😉 I’ll let pictures and videos tell the rest of the story…

You are undoubtedly a morning person… even when the cup is empty. 😉

We read together quite a bit, but all in all you aren’t as into books as Alex is. I think you’d rather be rolling a ball across the room! That being said, your favorite books are the ones that make noise & our “slide & see” books.

Looking dapper with some baby friends at our baby/toddler New Year’s Eve party!

We love our baby friends, and our dad friends too. 🙂

Being pulled around in the snow and making unsuccessful snow angels was about all you could do in the blizzard this year… hopefully you can enjoy the snow more next year!

A chip off the old block– our family is full of handy men. 🙂

Super Charlie!

When you caught Alex hiding in the dress up box one day, you both thought it was HILARIOUS.

But Alex can’t always fool you! You knew this was no ninja turtle.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Alex made this at school and you enjoyed wearing it. You now understand that hats & glasses go on your head & will try to put them there yourself. Hell hath no fury like you when someone tries to put hats/glasses on for you!

You LOVE to eat…. but at the same time you’re ridiculously picky! It’s funny, when Alex was this age he’d eat just about anything we put in front of him… but not you! Although you’re a bit more likely to be adventurous when you eat directly from my plate, for the most part you only want to eat fruit, cereal/crackers, green beans, yogurt, meatballs, bread, pizza, and pureed food pouches. Anything else gets an “ew” face and thrown in the floor within seconds after it first graces your lips. :-\ This frustrates me to no end, but Annie LOVES it:

You & Annie are best buddies in general! When she’s inside you love chasing her and petting her fur… we are working on how to be gentle with varying degrees of success. Thankfully Annie is very tolerant of your shenanigans. I imagine this is because you’re good for a snack at least a couple times a day. 😉 She likes to give you “kisses” and you seem pretty tolerant of that too.

Of course, there’s no doubt as to who your best friend truly is! 🙂 Like I said before, other than the occasional squabble over toys, you boys absolutely adore each other. It’s so cute!

Boy, am I glad to be done with those monthly pictures! The last few months are always darn near impossible to get. :-\

And with that I think we’re pretty much all caught up! The last few months haven’t been easy, but I have to say that I wouldn’t trade a second of it. Charlie, you really are an irreplacable part of this family. Every single day you make us all smile & laugh, and your sunny personality is infectious. You are the perfect fit into this crazy little family puzzle, and I am truly blessed to be your mom. 🙂 As with Alex I doubt the letters will be monthly anymore– I shoot for quarterly now, but with the two toddlers on the loose I don’t foresee myself having a whole lot of free time for the next couple of years. LOL! But I’ll try my best. Until next time, sweet Charlie bean!

All my love,
Mom

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