Bros Being Bros

To my darling boys,

This time around I decided to write a letter to you both, because honestly so much of this summer and fall has been about the two of  you growing together as brothers. You guys are together almost 24/7 (aside from daycare), including the major development I mentioned in my last letter about starting to share a bedroom. Although my greatest joy is still watching the two of you together, it is also one of my greatest challenges as a parent these days. Don’t let the cute pictures deceive you… life with two toddlers can be TOUGH!

As I said, you two are together much of the time and do love each other bunches… but you’re also both growing leaps and bounds as individuals.

Alex, you’re learning so much about the world around you, about logic, emotions and relationships. School has done so much for you socially, and you continue to come more and more out of your shell everyday! You’re incredibly smart, kind, cautious and thoughtful. Your teachers never have anything but wonderful things to say about you, and just about everyday at least one of your classmates runs up to you to give you a hug goodbye as you’re leaving. As I mentioned in your last letter, you still love to read, build, and create things. You still love ninja turtles, but have expanded your horizons quite a bit as well (which is great, because the rest of us are getting kind of sick of TMNT around here…haha). Like your father, you’re incredibly creative and artistically talented. I could not be more proud of you. 🙂

Charlie, far behind you are the days where I worried about developmental delays– you are ALL OVER THE PLACE now and into everything. And I really do mean EVERYTHING. You are strong, fearless, independent, and stubborn. You are developing excellent problem-solving skills already. You love anything that involves movement– sports, cars/trucks/trains (Thomas the Tank Engine is your favorite character at the moment), music, and animals. But you also love anything your big brother is up to…. much to his dismay. 😉 Your language skills have come a long way in the last month or two, but you have not developed Alex’s social skills (yet– totally normal for a not-quite 2 year old), and so he gets frustrated with you often. The good times still far outweigh the bad though, and overall I think you two get along pretty well considering your ages and how very different your personalities are. You are definitely a more challenging toddler, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that Stoddard personality all too well, and I think it will serve you well later in life…. if I can teach you to channel it properly! Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

Charlie, you also recently mastered climbing, and have enjoyed climbing into Alex’s bed every chance you get. That’s led to a whole lot of trial & error in regards to your sleeping arrangements, as we had to de-bunk the beds for fear that you might somehow fall from up there. Alex, you’ve been as wonderful through all of these changes as you possibly could be, which included many nights of Charlie snuggling up next to you, hogging your bed space & waking you up earlier than you’d like. Things are starting to settle down and everyone is sleeping well again, thank goodness! I’m really glad we decided to work on this transition well before your baby sister arrives. I’d rather be working these kinks out now, rather than when we have a newborn to deal with on top of everything else…. as you can see, there’s never a dull moment around here! 😉

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But as I said before, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I spoke about how you two have grown as individuals and as brothers…. but I can also say that we have grown as a family. Dad & I have grown, as individuals & as a couple, so much in these last 6 months as well. Being parents to two toddlers, and then making the decision to bring another beautiful life into the world, has not only brought us more joy and fulfillment than I could ever truly describe in a letter… but it has made us better people. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it. We love you boys so much, and can’t wait to see what the future brings. 🙂

All my love,
Mom

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Kung Fu Baby, Episode III: Emma Strikes Back

Dear Emma,

23 weeks! When I last wrote you we were just coming out of first trimester, and here we are on the brink of wrapping up the second. You’re as big as an eggplant now! So much has happened in the last 10 weeks, but at the same time it’s been relatively smooth as far as pregnancies go. I still get waves of nausea from time to time, but they are thankfully few and far between (mostly if I let myself get too hungry). The “venous lake” which was of concern when I last wrote was fully resolved within a couple of months, and your 20 week anatomy scan went without incident…. except it took 3 separate visits for the tech to get pictures of all your body parts because you were so stubborn! So we were actually given the all-clear earlier this week. Here are a couple of my favorite ultrasound shots:

The classic “skeletor” shot!

This side-profile shot was the one holdout that it took us three tries to get! Thankfully we were eventually able to confirm that you do, indeed, have a nose. 😉 If I had to guess based on ultrasounds so far, I think you’re going to look more like Alex (and therefore Dad). Time will tell, of course!

The only other thing worth noting is that is took me a bit longer to start feeling your movements, because I have an “anterior placenta” (my placenta is in front instead of the back of my uterus). This past week or so, though, you’ve been off to the races! I feel you move throughout the day now. At this last ultrasound a couple days ago, you even kicked the wand in protest. You are one feisty and stubborn gal! I guess the apple truly does not fall far from the tree.

I’m still tired all the time, but luckily I’m close to the point where I’ll be working from home the rest of the pregnancy…. which is a HUGE help. What hasn’t helped lately is all the illness we’ve been passing back & forth around our house. Being sick while pregnant (and unable to take many meds) is the pits. With two germ-factory toddlers in the house, I think I’m in for a long cold/flu season. But that’s okay. Thank goodness for grandparents! I’m rapidly approaching that point where I’m going to be uncomfortable and exhausted regardless, as you’re growing like a weed in there now…

Alas, I’m not as on the ball with taking bump pictures this go-round (and just not on the ball in general, as you’ve probably guessed due to my infrequent letters). But be assured that we are thinking of you and planning for arrival every day! 🙂 Your nursery has actually been done for quite awhile now, but I haven’t taken any nice pictures of it yet because I’m still slowly working on getting all your clothes put away (between myself and the grandmothers, I’ve accumulated quite a bit already– you’ll be one well-dressed little lady!). I’ll try to take some good pictures in time for your next letter. Here’s a preview though– it’s dance-themed with LOTS of pink. 🙂

As you can see, Alex is my little helper and is already a fantastic big brother for you– he helped me pick out things for your nursery, and is always asking me to buy you various clothes, toys, etc. at the store. He talks to you in my tummy and gives you plenty of hugs + kisses. Apparently at school, Alex’s teachers and classmates know all about his baby sister but none of them have any idea that he has a younger brother also (until I happen to mention it!). Charlie is still pretty clueless, as evidenced below… I do think he is starting to at least understand what babies ARE, which is a start! 😉 I’ll be very interested to see Charlie’s reaction to you when the time comes.

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I suppose that is pretty much it for now…. we are incredibly thankful that things have been more or less uneventful and that we feel as “ready” for you as we’ll ever be. That’s the benefit of being the third baby, I suppose! Dad & I are old hats at this now… and when I say that I don’t mean that we’re experts in anything, but that we know well enough to not worry about things so much and just have faith in the process. 😉 Being a parent is all about keeping your mind open and your heart full, the latter of which is pretty easy to do with our three little blessings! ❤ Until next time, sweet Emma Jean. We love you so very much already!

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All my love,
Mom