Sensitive Souls

Dear Alex,

My how time flies! I can’t believe you’re 4 1/2 now. This fall you will be starting at a more formal “school” for Pre-K, and this time next year we’ll be gearing you up for kindergarten. Where did my baby go? Heck, where did my toddler go? You’ve grown into the most amazing little boy. You are sweet, smart, funny, creative and quite wise/mature for your age… what I like to call an “old soul.” Talking to you is almost like talking to another adult.

One exception to this– you’re not only an old soul, but also a sensitive soul. πŸ™‚ Β It’s part of what makes you YOU, this amazing insightful kid, but your overactive sense of caution/anxiety makes you scared of LOTS of things. It is hard to get you to try something new, even just to watch a new movie. You’re afraid of getting hurt mostly, but also afraid of failure. I already see that same drive for perfection in all aspects of your life that Dad has…. and your tendency to be very self-critical when things aren’t 100% perfect (your attention to detail is impeccable, also like Dad). Social anxiety is still sometimes an issue for you too, but not as much as it used to be. I have a hard time relating to this side of your personality, and as your mom I wish there was more I could do to help you deal with it. We’re doing the best we can.

Obviously the biggest change in your life since I last wrote was the addition of your little sister, Emma, to the family. You adore her! This wasn’t surprising to me as I already knew how much you love babies. You love to help take care of her, and really to help with just about anything. I often put you in charge of Charlie when I have my hands full with Emma, and consider myself extremely lucky that you are the sort of kid that I can rely on for things like that. For example, Charlie is learning that he must always hold your hand when we’re walking in public places because usually I am carrying Emma (and can trust you to steer him away from the street πŸ˜‰ ). Charlie and Emma both adore you, too. Charlie wants to be with you all the time, doing everything you do (which annoys the heck out of you sometimes), and Emma just lights up when you talk to her. They are both really lucky to have such an awesome big brother. πŸ˜€

Our transition to a family of 5 hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, however. There’s an old saying that goes “When mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” which very much applies to our life these last few months. I have been struggling with getting my PPD under control, and the whole family has paid the price. This combination of events has led to you acting out more, and it can become a vicious cycle. So I haven’t been the best mom I could be… and I’m terribly sorry for that. The other kids won’t remember this phase of our life, but you might. Whenever you do read these letters, there is one message I want you to understand above all else– although things are never perfect and life can be very messy, DAD & I LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH. I don’t think you’ll ever really understand the way we feel about you unless you become a parent yourself someday. We really are trying our best to give you three a fantastic life and raise you well. The trouble is that we don’t really know what the heck we’re doing…. and we’re human. I hope you’ll forgive us that. πŸ˜‰

Things you love– legos (or any building toys, really), art (still a very talented artist!), super heroes (especially ninja turtles and batman), video games (to Dad’s delight and my dismay), and spending time with your family & friends. Things you hate– animals (if they get too close to you), water in your face/eyes (which has made the pool & such a challenge this summer), kale chips (your reaction when I had you try one recently was PRICELESS, haha!), and disapproval (you’re very much a people-pleaser). You don’t dislike sports, and even tried t-ball this spring, but it doesn’t come naturally to you & therefore you get bored with them quickly. Dad was your t-ball coach and I thought you both did a fabulous job… but as much as I love baseball, it’s kind of a boring sport for a 4 year old to play. Truthfully, your ideal day is spent at home with legos, markers, and something superhero-related on TV.

It’s funny how you & Charlie are so different, yet come from the same gene pool. And thank goodness, you’re both turning out to be amazing human beings. πŸ™‚ It will be interesting to see how Emma’s personality develops. I seriously am the luckiest mom on the planet… you three are the coolest kids and even though handling all three of you can be very challenging and exhausting, I wouldn’t trade a second of it. And to think it all started with you, my sweet Alex. I thank my lucky stars everyday for that!

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All my love,
Mom

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Hurricane Charlie

Dear Charlie,

It’s been a crazy spring & summer… now as we approach hurricane season I have finally made some time to write about my favorite little hurricane. πŸ˜‰

You’ve finally become a big brother and are doing better in the role than I thought you would, honestly. At first you were indifferent or only interested in Emma if Alex was playing with her (because you always want to do whatever Alex is doing!), but now you’ve started to take a bit of ownership in Emma’s well-being. You let me know if Emma is crying or needs her binkie, etc. You also love touching her tiny fingers and toes, and you even ask to hold her for *very* brief periods of time.

But overall I’d say you don’t have the nurturing instinct that Alex has & therefore your interests lie elsewhere. Nothing wrong with that of course; I love that you are very much your own person & you’re certainly always keeping us on our toes. You have a very BIG personality– I’d say in general everything with you is go BIG or go home…. the smiles that light up the room, the tantrums that can be heard in China, the amount of force you put behind throwing a baseball, your amazing dance moves (including one that we’ve coined “The Charlie Shuffle” that unfortunately I haven’t gotten on video yet), your spectacular messes, the way you grab my face between your two little hands and pull me in for big sloppy kisses (complete with “MMMMUAH!!!”), and of course the many confounding ways you manage to get into mischief. πŸ˜‰

Your brain is also BIG– you are seriously blowing me away more & more every day with how smart you are! It’s hard to believe now that I ever worried about you developmentally. You are already jumping and climbing way more than Alex did at this age (much to my dismay), building things with “big boy” legos already (another one of those “I want to do whatever Alex is doing” things), and talking a TON with drastically increasing clarity… which has helped us to discover just how much you really know and already understand at barely 2.5 years old! You already know all your colors & shapes, can count to 10 and recognize several numbers + letters on sight. Your vocabulary is huge, especially when it comes to your two favorite things– sports and animals.

I still think you’re going to be quite the little athlete when the time comes. You love love love baseball and were dying to play t-ball with Alex’s team this season. Unfortunately you can’t officially play until you’re 4, but one of the perks of Dad being a coach is that you got to go out on the field and warm up with the team at every game you attended. The rest of the time I spent most of my energy dragging you out of the dugout. πŸ˜‰ You also love basketball, and I think I’m going to sign you up for soccer next year because I think you’d like that too. This summer you’ve been quite the little fish, so swim lessons are also on your to-do list.

Animals are your other jam. You & Annie are continue to enjoy a symbiotic relationship, but really you get a huge kick out of interacting with just about any animal. Farms, zoos, and the living museum have been some of your favorite outings this year, where you were not afraid to get up close & personal with all the critters.

Another big love of yours at the moment is vehicles of any sort. Everywhere you go, car-watching is your go-to way to occupy yourself. This means that I get to listen to “Mommy, a car! Mommy, a truck! Mommy, a bus!” pretty much constantly throughout every. single. car ride. Lucky me! πŸ˜‰ We really hit the jackpot when we spot something like a firetruck or school bus. LOL. You thought all buses were school buses until we recently taught you to identify “silly” (city) buses.

Although you do love playing with me/Dad/Alex and in particular want to do EVERYTHING Alex is doing (much to his dismay… particularly at bedtime when he wants you to leave him alone so he can sleep), you’re also very independent and are more content to play by yourself than Alex ever has been. It also means you don’t feel the need to stick by my side when we go places the way Alex does, and you treat those backpack kid leashes like they are hot lava on your skin (much to MY dismay). You’re my first (and hopefully last) “runner” which, on top of being stubborn, fearless and VERY adventurous/inquisitive, is beyond exhausting.

Truly, these are all excellent qualities to have & I think you’ll probably run the world when you grow up… but it does make it challenging to parent you. You’re a good kid and I don’t think you have a malicious bone in your body, but nevertheless I really do have to watch you like a hawk (or we all pay the price!). πŸ˜‰ I think part of this relates to the fact that you’re so smart– like when the smart kid is not being challenged enough at school so he starts making trouble in the classroom. At home I can’t focus on engaging you constantly as I’m splitting my time/attention between 3 kids + 1 husband + 1 dog + LIFE, so you take matters into your own hands. And at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change any of it. You keep things interesting for sure, and bring a lot of joy and laughter to our family. I can’t wait to see what you choose to do with your firecracker spirit as time goes on. πŸ™‚

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All my love,
Mom

Emma Jean, Baby Queen

Dear Emma,

YOU ARE HERE! In fact, I fail so much at finding time to write these days that you are now just shy of 4 months old. Lots to catch up on…. let’s start at the beginning. πŸ™‚

The final two weeks of the pregnancy were uneventful and dragged on incredibly slowly. But the morning of your arrival came around at last, and as you can see I was VERY MUCH ready to be done with the pregnancy!

That picture was taken right before Dad & I left for the hospital. The birth itself went as smoothly as it possibly could have, other than a large goose almost flying into our windshield as we drove through a busy intersection on the way to the hospital. LOL… I wish I were witty enough to make that up, but it really happened! Thankfully it did not hit our windshield and we made it to the hospital in plenty of time. All the preparations were made, and I very happily signed away my ovarian tubes. πŸ˜‰ No more pregnancies for me!

And not very long after that, you made your big debut. Another one of the happiest moments in my & Dad’s lives. πŸ™‚ I’ll let your birth announcement provide the details:

We were in the hospital for just a couple of days, no health issues for either of us, and you were home by Sunday afternoon. Alex got to visit you in the hospital and was THRILLED to meet you. πŸ™‚

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Charlie met you when we got home and was not as impressed. He’s just not as into babies as Alex is… but he’s coming around, slowly but surely. The boys even argue from time to time over who gets to hold you.

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We call you Emma Jean, Baby Queen because it’s your world & we’re just living in it. πŸ˜‰ Being the “prodigal daughter” of sorts, you are VERY spoiled. Thankfully you don’t act like it (so far). In fact, you’re the easiest baby we’ve ever had! I say that, but I also wonder if I would’ve considered you an “easy baby” if you had been my first…. you have a touch of acid reflux, common for newborns but requires some extra TLC and, in your case, meds twice per day. Prior to starting the medicine, you couldn’t stand to be laid down flat. There was also a bit of day/night confusion around the 1 week mark, but you got the hint pretty quickly after that and have been sleeping through the night since about 4-5 weeks old. Now at almost 4 months, I put you to bed around 6:30-7pm and you sleep for a solid 12 hours straight (I wish I could say the same about your brothers!). You also have a minor case of torticollis, meaning that you prefer to only lay on one side of your head. We’ve been doing some neck exercises and laying your head on a special pillow which seems to have helped a great deal… but your tender skull still has a pretty wicked flat spot. I think you’re probably going to have to sport a very stylish helmet for a few months to round it out again.

These days, you only cry when you’re hungry, tired, or want a change of scenery. You’re full of smiles– I don’t think I’ve ever had such a happy smiley baby! All we have to do is look at you & you break into a huge grin.

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You love snuggles, being worn in the baby carrier, and “playing” in your little baby floor gym/kick piano. Whenever the music stops playing and you can’t get it to start again, you protest a bit until we rectify the situation. You like to reach for things, “baby talk” & giggle with us, and to roll from tummy to back. You HATE tummy time, riding in stop & go traffic, and when your headband falls down into your eyes. We all LOVE you so very much!

Truly, even at less than 4 months it’s hard to imagine life without you. Having three kids under 5 in our house if pretty crazy/chaotic/exhausting/etc etc… and I am definitely very ready to for your brothers to start preschool in the fall/me to go back to work full time, but I’m also very thankful to have been able to take all this time off to be with you guys this spring & summer. You are such a joy and I’m blown away at how quickly you’re growing. At your 2 month checkup, your stats came in at the higher percentiles just like your brothers… but particularly in regards to height. You are apparently quite tall for your age! Many women in our family are quite tall, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

That said, the person you remind me most of so far is actually Alex. You look EXACTLY like he did as a baby, right down to the little strawberry birth mark in the same spot on your torso! The only differences are that you have a little less hair, and I don’t think your eyes are going to be blue. Right now I’d guess green, hazel or brown, but the jury is still out on that. Time will tell!

You were supposed to have your 4 month checkup this week but I took advantage of a last-minute vacation opportunity (woot woot!) so we’ll take care of that when I get back. As I speak you are being loved and spoiled by your grandparents. This is your first time away from me for such a long period of time and while I miss you (and your brothers) terribly…. I really needed this. I’ve written in my letters before about my struggles with PPD, and unfortunately things with that have gotten worse since you were born. My doctor thinks that the combo of being newly post-partum again + having my tubes tied has thrown my hormones out of whack. Your brothers and dad would probably say that I’ve been a hard person to live with. My medicine has been adjusted, and thankfully that is starting to help.

I’m starting to get ramble-y so I’d better wrap this up. So sorry it’s taken me this long to get a letter to you since you were born, but frankly we’ve been too busy enjoying you in person (and making the adjustment to a family of 5) for me to sit down and write!

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All my love,
Mom